C Magazine Vol. 7 Edition 2

Page 1



Vol. 7 Nov. 2018

arts & culture

Big Business is Watching page 24

letter from the


Dear Readers,

We hope you all enjoyed reading our first issue of the year and valued the new changes as much as we did. We love the introduction of the music section, as it has provided our staff with new opportunities to explore a supplementary intersection of art and culture. In addition, we are very glad to hear the positive feedback we have been receiving regarding our new logo. In this issue, staff writers Kailee Correll, Tamar Ponte, Mahati Subramaniam and Fiza Usman closely examine the marketing industry and exactly what goes on behind the scenes. Many people are familiar with the concept of targeted ads, but few realize just how much marketers have begun to bend the rules concerning users’ privacy. The writers also delve into how user manipulation goes beyond targeted ads; analyzing the subtle tricks marketers use to attract customers. Along with eye-catching visuals, created by Leon Lau and Patille Papas, this story works to expose the true nature of marketing and raises the question of how ethical the industry truly is today. In the story The Artful Scheme, staff writers Ashley Guo and Ellen Chung assess how the art industry has become the perfect shield for money laundering schemes. There is a great sense of anonymity in the art community which provides criminals the perfect, undetectable ways of laundering dirty money. Lastly, in Visuals for Concerts, staff writers Jack Callaghan, Claire Moley and Natalie Schilling explore the advancing art form of concert visuals. They delve into how improving techniques are redefining the concert experience as one anticipated for not just live audio, but for the fully immersive visual experiences that are produced. As our staff dynamic is only becoming more fluid, we hope to keep producing content you want to consume! We really hope you enjoy this second issue! Happy Reading! Ryan Gwyn, Grace Rowell, Lia Salvatierra and Rosa Schaefer Bastian Editors-in-Chief

thanks to our

SPONSORS Alexandra Scheve Alyssa Haught Andrew Moley Ann & Rob Schilling Ann Stern Anna Zigmond-Ramm Barbara Cottrell Bob Rowell Bob Stefanski & Lynn Brown Bridget Cottrell Cathy Moley Dana Wideman Denease G. Rowell George Purtis Gregg Rowell Jacob & Julie Gerhardt Jan & Monte Klein Jane Varner Jennifer Wald & Steve Weiss Josh Rowell Juliana Lee Katie Look Kathy Sinsheimer Kenneth & Melissa Scheve Lynn Brown & Bob Stefanski Nora Bohdjielian Ron & Marilyn Schilling Sara Wood Sarah Correll Simon & Sarla Wright Susan & Warren Gelman Virginia Fitton Will & Kristen Yen


EDITORS-IN-CHIEF Ryan Gwyn, Grace Rowell, Lia Salvatierra, Rosa Schaefer Bastian

CREATIVE DIRECTOR Charlotte Amsbaugh



STAFF WRITERS Katherine Buecheler, Jack Callaghan, Angie Cummings, Sophie Jacob, Karina Kadakia, Chloe Laursen, Claire Li, Theo Lim-Jisra, Isabella Moussavi, Claire Moley, Tamar Ponte, Natalie Schilling, Hazel Shah, Raj Sodhi, Mahati Subramaniam, Fiza Usman, Gigi Tierney, Tyler Varner, Neive Wellington, Jessica Weiss


ILLUSTRATORS Charlotte Amsbaugh, Leon Lau ADVISER Brian Wilson COVER Charlotte Amsbaugh, Leon Lau, Patille Papas

CONTENTS table of




Both sophomore Laszlo Shaw and junior Elijah Mckenzie agree that skating is much more than a way to get around. It's an outlet for creativity, an escape from troubles, an accepting community and a feeling of freedom and empowerment. In many ways, skating is more than a form of selfexpression — it's an art.


aszlo Shaw began skating when he moved to California five years ago. “My first board? Someone left it behind in the house when I moved,” he said, recalling the beginning of what would grow to become a core part of his life. Shaw’s current board is heavily scuffed, evidence of the wear and tear that comes with street-style skating. He orders new decks, the flat part of the board, online often, as he goes through boards every few months. Over time, he becomes attached to each one, as they all have their own individual style and story. “I love all my boards, especially when they’re new,” Shaw says. “[At first] you don’t wanna ride it through dirt or whatever. Once they start to get more broken in, you throw them around.” Shaw’s skating style is inspired by music. “If I’m listening to one kind of music, it’ll make my skating completely different. If I’m listening to something fast, I’ll be skating really fast or if it’s a love song, I’ll be flowy.” Shaw cites skating as an ideal form of self expression, and he isn’t alone. Many others also skate as a way of channeling their creative energy. “All the skaters I know play music or paint or something. There’s not a lot of people that just skate.”

4 • ARTS

“All the skaters I know play music or paint or something. There are not a lot of people that just skate” - Laszlo Shaw


or or Elijah Mckenzie, skating is a creative escape. “You can express yourself through skateboarding,” he says. Mckenzie hopped on his board at just five years old and estimates that he’s gone through about 50 boards since then. “[When] I was in middle school, I got bullied a lot so after school I would just go skate,” he said. “It would be a way to help me cope with a lot of the stuff I was going through, I could actually be myself when I skate.” Mckenzie also has a wide range of other artistic interests, including p a i n t i n g , drawing, photography and piano. Although he only started painting recently and has never taken formal classes, Mckenzie’s art displays advanced technical skill. Combining ink and watercolor, his pieces feature elements that bleed past their drawn lines. “Painting a l w a y s seemed hard to me,” he said. “But I like to take things into my own hands so I bought a

color palette and I was like, ok, I want to paint something, and I did.” Mckenzie’s board is evidence of his artistic personality; he likes to modify it with stickers and apply his own grip tape. To create the unique pattern of grip tape on his current board, he bought three sheets of it and cut out abstract shapes. Mckenzie has customized his grip tape for the past couple years, a tradition inspired by a fellow skater whose board stood out to him at a skatepark. “I can’t really go with a straight black grip tape and not do something to it since then,” he said. While some people might view his interests as disparate, Mckenzie believes they are truly interconnected. “Skateboarding could help me understand why I feel certain feelings and art can also help me express those feelings physically,” he said. “They’re both creative outlets.”

“You can express yourself through skateboarding” -Elijah Mckenzie ARTS • 5

Delve deep into the history, impact, and revival of the VHS tape.




ears ago, movies and albums cost 20 dollars a piece and music was clunky. Most people today cannot imagine what this experience is since modernizing forms of technology have allowed us to consistently take the availability of technological entertainment for granted. When queueing up Netflix or Youtube on a phone or laptop, consumers can instantly view anything they choose. However, this relatively new ondemand access to entertainment has changed the ability to curate moments. A series of economic improvements starting in the early ‘80s led to the beginning of a new era of modern, compact and accessible technology, where consumers were living lavishly through new innovations. Characterized by astounding innovations such as the Apple Mac, CD and the Sony Walkman, this era of advancement allowed for extreme cultural modernization. This technological revolution became a primary facet of culture and yielded a product that changed our entertainment forever: the VHS, a videotape. Invented in 1976 by the Japanese corporation Victor, known as JVC in the United States, the VHS was released amidst serious competition, contending against well-known corporations such as Sony and RCA. Sony’s Betamax and RCA’s LaserDisc, VHS’ video competition, made further advancements in video and were arguably better products for their time. Nonetheless, the VHS gained popularity and surpassed

ARTS • 6

competitors because of its low price, availability and ability to record for a longer time. With the addition of this new technology, video recordings of significant events such as first baby steps and weddings could be preserved on tape forever. Along with this, more trivial matters like the recording of TV episodes and sports matches were also made possible. This served as a momentous step for the entertainment industry, as companies were able to make immense profits by greatly charging those who wished to own tangible copies of movies for personal use. Video rental stores such as Blockbuster and Hollywood Video were on the rise as the demand for these tapes at a lower cost became prevalent. The music industry also benefited from this invention since they could now release concerts and music videos of famous artists on tape. However, as improved methods of recording and viewing such as the DVD and Digital Camcorders gained popularity at the turn of the millennium, the VHS format began to die out.

Yet, almost twenty years later, this format has seen a great revival. Many people today enjoy the aesthetic of these tapes, or purely love the nostalgia a VHS tape may elicit. Avid connoisseurs of this lost art form enjoy adding to their collections by visiting thrift stores and garage sales to add to their lot. VHS is also experiencing a revival is with Instagram accounts such as OGVHS, an account dedicated to highlighting items from the past that may have slipped away. Featuring old commercials or ridiculous clips from past decades, the account is a combination of both a modernized social media app, and nostalgic or humorous videos from the past. Recently, an increasing amount of apps featuring VHS style camcorder filters have appeared, all paying tribute to a bygone era of video tracking and static. Not only is the style attracting social media followers, but the entertainment industry is beginning to take notice as well. R&B artist Frank Ocean’s visual album, Endless, was released on VHS at the end of 2017, and the horror movies “VHS” and its sequel “VHS 2” also pay tribute to the era. Releasing in the VHS format serves to characterize the product as unique and T h e humble, yet outdated VHS tape opened many doors and shaped entertainment as we know it. Without it, modern consumers wouldn’t be able to enjoy the on-demand, at home access to streaming platforms or the surround sound that exists in movie theatres today. Moreover, they wouldn’t be experiencing the current technological boom, with innovations such as the smartphone camera, a direct descendant of the camcorders of previous days. In the same way the VHS led to the creation of Netflix, it is only a matter of time before our current devices evolve into something more complex.


Artist of

the Month


ARTS • 7

usic is, and always has been, a form of expression that captivates both artists and listeners. Many artists find music to be an outlet in which they can express themselves and their thoughts. Paly students Alfredo Jack (‘20), Raymond Richards (‘20) and Liam Teare (‘21) who refer to themselves as “Lul’ Fredo,” “Lil’ Ray” and “Lil’ Backwood” respectively, are now sharing their music not only with their peers, but with an

ARTS • 8

audience on the internet as well. This rap trio, known as “Young FRB,” first started making music together in an unlikely location—the Paly bathrooms. They would bring a speaker into the restroom and play some of their favorite instrumentals to freestyle over. “After a while of freestyling in the bathroom, we just all thought: all we need is a mic,” Teare said. These bathroom meetings sparked their songwriting passion and they have continued to record and release their songs to the public. With any art, there is a creative process; when it comes to music, artists will scribble down lyrics, craft melodies and test instrumentals and sound effects to use. Typically, before they record a song, Young FRB will spend around a

week writing and then set a date to record. Once they feel prepared, they meet up and put it all together. Though they mostly write the lyrics beforehand, the boys are always willing to change lyrics they are unhappy with or improvise on the spot. “I write most of it [before] but if I need to add to a verse and I don’t know what to put, I try to freestyle the rest of it to see if it’s good,” Richards said. Although there are many technical elements to the songwriting process, the most important thing to the boys is to have fun through the strenuous process,whether it be through writing humorous lyrics or simply spending quality time with one another. They describe their style of rap as entertaining and comical rather than as an outlet for emotion or serious topics. “We try to talk about things that people want to hear and get hyped to,” Jack said. Young FRB keeps their music amusing and lively because many of their 3,000 listeners on the online platform SoundCloud are around the same age as them and interested in a similar style of music. Getting students and the

community to listen to their music is not the whole purpose of creating, but it adds to the fun and it motivates them to keep releasing new material. Even though the boys don’t usually rap about emotional and serious topics, they recognize their music to be a form of release because it gives them a creative outlet. “It’s definitely a getaway, a little break from everything else,” Teare said. “It lets you get away from all the mess, you can just tell your own story,” Jack Said. Young FRB’s content is featured on SoundCloud. On Soundcloud, it is “free and easy to upload,” Richards said. SoundCloud allows artists to upload music independently from a music label and profit after paying for a premium account. “Once you pay, you can add advertisements onto your [songs] and you can get paid,” Jack said. The appeal of instantaneously sharing music is attractive to musicians like Young FRB. Young artists are allowed to explore styles and find their niche without being

dismissed by a record label. Independent musicians, that produce works ranging from singing covers to rapping freestyle, have made SoundCloud popular. In 2017, rapper Lil’ Pump debuted his first hit single, “Gucci Gang” on SoundCloud and it went viral, propelling him to the top of the rap game. Similar to Young FRB, Lil’ Pump was only 17 years old when he uploaded his song. Even after gaining fame in the music world, many of Lil’ Pump’s songs are still exclusively on SoundCloud. The prospect of becoming a solo artist and unattached from a record label is becoming increasingly common. According to Forbes, SoundCloud has been coined the “incubator for rappers,” as popular artists like Post Malone and Lil’ Uzi Vert have also published their first songs on SoundCloud, using them as catalysts for their success. As for plans for the future, Young FRB wants to eventually sign a record deal, but are not willing to settle. “We want full deals, all over two million. That’s what I’m saying,” Richards said.

The trio acknowledges that music is a competitive industry and wants to put out the best music possible to ensure growth of their popularity. “I am trying to graduate high school because I know that music is competitive and having a backup plan is good,” Jack said. Richards speaks for all the boys when he says, “We all gonna graduate high school, no dropouts.” Young FRB, as a group, conveys the image of wild high schoolers and defines their goals through their music. “I like rapping about getting money because that’s what I do,” Richards said. “I’m not tripping if I don’t make it because I’m going to make it in the field.” Young FRB has produced numerous singles such as “Hit After Hit” and “Music School” that have been released onto SoundCloud for Paly students and the rest of the world to hear. Through their strong fan base and supportive peers, there is no doubt that Young FRB is on a fast track to success.

ARTS • 9

A Spike


C Magazine examines the innovative ways in which filmmaker Spike Lee uses his work to expose the social and political injustices towards African Americans.

pike Lee, the director of the most recent political striker, “BlacKkKlansman,” is consistently involved in all the creative aspects of his films, which address the pervasive social and political issues that African Americans face. What makes his films stand out from others that address a wide range of social or political movements is how uncompromisingly honest they are. Rather than simplifying the issue of police brutality, through depicting the glorified triumph of an African American over his or her own injustice, Lee depicts this all too common discrimination as it most often occurs. Spike Lee’s raw depiction of discrimination and prejudice can be identified in some of his earliest films. This includes his 1989 project called “Do the Right Thing,” where a white police officer gets away with shooting an innocent black teenager. A lack of conviction for crime, refuses to give justice to the teenager’s death, in turn inciting utter frustration and grief in the audience alongside the black community in the movie. In “BlacKkKlansman,” Lee continues to address prejudice in an original manner, in this case working to illustrate the destructive nature and persistency of white supremacy. The premise of “BlacKkKlansman” follows the story of Ron Stallworth, a black detective who infiltrates a

chapter of the Klu Klux Klan in the 1970s in order to disseminate the group’s progress from the inside. Stallworth is initiated into the local Colorado Springs’ chapter after calling in response to an ad posted in a newspaper. Over the phone, Stallworth assumes the character of a white man desperate to band with the racist movement and release his frustrations. Meanwhile, his white partner meets face-to-face with the group and solidifies a trusting relationship. Lee not only touches on the insistent nature of racism in America but also illustrates the concept of the fluidity of one’s racial identity. In the beginning, Stallworth goes undercover to gain information for the police by attending a speech given by a Black Panther movement leader, Stokely Carmichael, to the Colorado College Black Student Union. Contrary to the stereotype of African Americans being more liberal, Stallworth is relatively moderate in his political views. At the end of Carmichael’s speech, he hesitates before shouting in unison with the crowd and raising his fist to show those around him that he too is fighting against white oppression and is in favor of black resistance. When Stallworth reports back to the police station, he encounters


ARTS • 10

Lee Joint a conflict between two worlds: one where he is forced to act indifferent towards resistance movements in order to fit in among his white coworkers, and one where he is galvanized by those around him to express anger against his oppressive experiences. In order to maintain a state of inconspicuousness, Stallworth has to tread lightly through these different environments. Through Stallworth’s need to transition seamlessly through contrasting social circumstances, Lee highlights the constricting binds of racial stereotypes and its negative effects on individuals. Political movies that focus primarily on the history of this issue, give the false notion that movements of social change have a beginning and an end. Lee’s movies, while they may be more difficult to watch, have an effect that extends beyond the two hour run time. Lee works to provoke viewers, demanding that they take action into their own hands, regarding the commonplace injustices apparent in many of his films. Lee, among other innovative directors, dares infiltrate theaters with unglamarized portrayals of issues within society, which arguably serve as the most influential propellers of the progression of social change. It is these political films that are unapologetically truthful and create a

call to action for audiences. For many, it is uncomfortable to hear the extreme racist and anti-semitic dialogue between two men in a KKK chapter, but that discomfort opens the viewer’s eyes and prevents them from tossing out the candor of the experience along with their empty bucket of popcorn. The unease that arises when watching familiar and admired actors participate in on-screen white supremacist rituals is a mechanism Lee uses to incite a personal, emotional response to the issues portrayed. In this way, the audience can not disconnect themselves from the responsibility of taking action after the film because the conflict is closer to them. This sort of “forced-empathy” that Lee creates in many of his films is vital to spreading movements of social change today and have inspired the activists of tomorrow. At the end of “BlacKkKlansman,” Lee displays a clip from the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which neonazi sympathizers and counter protesters attack the demonstrators, leading to violence and death. This last clip, along with a flash of Donald Trump’s response speech in which he defined “both sides” as responsible, stuns viewers. Lee connects the racism and anti-semitism in the 1970s to current times and sends the message that there is still so much work to be done.


ARTS • 11


ARTFUL SCHEME Behind the pristine white walls of art galleries, there lies a hidden secret. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and due to the subjective nature of art, the art market can be manipulated to benefit criminals and art sellers at the expense of aspiring artists.


o o many, it may not be clear what causes the high valuations of artwork, yet viewers convince themselves that the supposed deeper meaning behind the piece justifies the price tag. Though there truly is genuine meaning behind fine art this authenticity is often exploited for financial gain and illicit asset transfers. Since a piece’s aesthetic value varies between viewers it is easy for sellers to control the value of a piece at their own discretion deciding which will receive the heftiest price tag. Though they often claim these pieces have a deeper meaning that leads to their increased price, in reality, sellers manipulate prices for arbitrary reasons, giving them complete control of the market. In addition to manipulating prices sellers and galleries analyze the market for stylistic fads. Pieces are made to fit certain profiles and buyer trends in order to create a collection that will sell successfully. This means that success in the art industry is often not purely determined by artistic skill, but rather rests on the artist’s ability to sell themselves and ultimately join an elite group that controls the sale of their pieces. This leaves many talented artists unable to gain recognition and make enough profit off of their art to make ends meet, while artists who are part of the niche group continue to gain exposure

through high-profile galleries and other benefits that the group provides. In terms of monetary exchanges, the art market is an opaque, selfregulated industry as those who profit are also the ones who control market values and trends. Often times artists do not have control over their paintings or the prices after selling their pieces to galleries or customers; it is left to the galleries and new owners to determine and manipulate prices. To make exchanges even more hidden, buyers and sellers are able to conceal themselves under a cloak of anonymity when buying and selling through auctions and galleries. “You can have a transaction where the seller is listed as ‘private collection’ and the buyer is listed as ‘private collection,’” said Sharon Cohen Levin, a leading authority on anti-money laundering and asset forfeiture. “In any other business, no one would be able to get away with this.” Although originally established to protect privacy, many abuse this anonymity by trading art as an asset instead of a craft to be appreciated. By hiding the identities of criminals and transaction history the art market presents itself as an ideal facilitator of money laundering. Due to the nameless nature of art transactions the art market lacks safeguards to prevent money laundering and track illegally obtained money, also known as dirty money. The art market serves as a covert way to transfer large sums of cash into clean money by tying it to legitimate exchanges, so when dirty money is used to purchase artwork, these illegal gains now appear legal. Drastic value changes are common in the art world, so the fluctuating prices of artwork do not raise


alarm for government officials, making it difficult to find and expose suspicious activity. The spontaneous rises and falls of prices combined with the anonymity of those involved ensure a secure way of laundering money that has minimal surveillance by authorities. “Hannibal,” a famous work of art, is notorious for its association with money laundering. In an attempt to smuggle money to the U.S., Brazilian embezzler and former banker, Edemar Cid Ferreira, labeled “Hannibal” as an unnamed painting valued at only $100 when passing through customs. His attempt failed as it was seized at a Manhattan warehouse and later found to be worth eight million dollars. “Hannibal” is just one of many pieces used in illicit money laundering and asset transfers each year. Responding to this increasing amount of illegal activity in the industry, European countries are now requiring art galleries to report any customer that pays more than 7,500 Euros in cash for a single piece. Money laundering cases are usually discovered through a deeper analysis of banking activity and illegal transport of art, but officials still face barriers in convicting criminals since the activity remains difficult to track. Advocates, such as the “The Art Dealers Association of America,” lobby to preserve the anonymity of buyers and sellers, refuses to acknowledge money laundering’s presence within the industry. Some experts argue that imposing regulations on the art market would simply push money launderers to work with private dealers, making it even more difficult to uncover such cases of laundering. In a case that exemplifies the difficulties that accompany the tracking of dirty money, famous film, “The Wolf of Wall Street”, was found to be financed by $3.5 billion from a money laundering scheme involving Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. American officials recovered $1.3 billion of the funds that contributed to the film and seized many pieces of art by Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet that were involved in this scheme. “There has been no evidence from any investigation conducted by any law enforcement agencies which shows that money has been misappropriated,” said Mohamed Apandi, the Malaysian Attorney General, in an effort to defend Razak. Due to the confidentiality that obscures the identities of parties involved in such transactions, it is difficult to convict criminals of money laundering, similar to the case of “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

ARTS • 14

Art is meant to be an authentic process that evokes emotion, analyze certain perspectives or simply create beauty. This original purpose has been twisted and degraded for the sake of appealing to the current market and manufacturing pieces that will sell for maximum profit. Protesting the consequences that selling artwork has had on the deeper meaning and purpose of art, anonymous England-based artist Banksy installed a shredder in the frame of his painting, “The Girl with Red Balloon,” several years before the actual sale of his artwork, in anticipation of this painting eventually reaching the hands of an auction house or art gallery. After being sold for $1.4 million at Sotheby’s auction house, the painting’s frame suddenly shredded the piece, causing an uproar. Some perceive this statement as an inquiry of the real value of art. Ironically, the shredding of the painting has greatly increased its value, and Banksy gained even more notoriority. Banksy posted a video of the shredding on social media with the caption, “The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.” Through this stunt Banksy blatantly criticized the unregulated high prices in this industry as well as the treatment of art, not as pieces of societal and innovative significance, but as items only sold for profit. Banksy’s criticism prominently exposed how artwork is sold for unreasonably high prices without the consent or knowledge of the artist, who receives no profit from the transaction. Although art galleries began as a venue for genuine expression and creation of culture in society, the art market has deviated from this path due to the practice of manipulating market prices for profit and facilitating illicit transactions. Because of the fluctuating nature of the market, the anonymity of buyers and sellers and the lack of regulation, the art market has become an accomplice in money laundering. There is no definitive way to uncover schemes in the art market without pushing criminals to transfer assets through increasingly obscure means. So, the dilemma persists of how to establish transparency in the art industry in a way that will protect the privacy of those involved, while preventing criminals from exploiting the market for their own marginal — and illegal — purposes.

ARTS • 15

SENIORS There is still time to submit your senior quotes and portraits! Visit www.palymadrono.com to do so NOW!

PARENTS There is still time to buy your student a yearbook! Visit www.palymadrono.com to do so NOW!





Though some enjoy listening to music in the confines of their bedroom, nothing compares to watching live performance, filled with dynamic visuals and dancing lights, indescribably connecting the audience and the performer TEXT AND DESIGN BY NATALIE SCHILLING, CLAIRE MOLEY AND JACK CALLAGHAN • ART BY CHARLOTTE AMSBAUGH, JACK CALLAGHAN AND CLAIRE MOLEY • PHOTOS BY RYAN GWYN


weaty bodies pile together for miles, restless as they wait for the music to begin. Everything is black and the stage is momentarily silent. Suddenly, flashes of green and blue are projected on the many faces laying in wait for the performance to consume them. The crowd begins to roar as an ocean of pink and purple morph together into a futuristic formation on the once black screen. Flashes of yellow lights are in sync with the strong beats emanating from the speakers. Everything goes black again and the stage returns to silence. Subtle whispers from the crowd travel through the cold air. In a burst of light, color and sound, the stage comes alive again as abstract visuals fill the crowd’s eyes and music pours into their ears.

Since the ‘60s and ‘70s, when rock bands merely dabbled with simple projector lenses and smoke bombs, the art of the concert experience has developed into a multi-million dollar industry. Today, smoke bombs have pioneered pyrotechnics, projector lenses gave way to LED displays and concert stages have become an independent art form. While the sound experience of a concert is undoubtedly unique, contemporary visual effects create another dimension that compliments the audio, giving concert-goers a much enhanced experience. Through the everimproving auditory — and now visual — stimulation, the concert experience is a platform for art that can evoke emotion through a multitude of senses beyond just sound. MUSIC • 17



echnologies have evidently progressed over the years, pushing forward many aspects of culture and providing many more mediums artists can employ. But even with these constant shifts in technology, the sole purpose of set design as a form of art has remained the same over time. This is the principle that captivating visuals and set designs serve to better connect the audience with the performers before them. Past the development of audio technology, the technology utilized in set design evokes a variety of emotions that the performer is trying to achieve through their music. Companies have been created in order to cater to these artists’ needs, designing the visual aspects of their performance. One of the most prominent companies that have filled this new field is Silent House. Silent House is the creative direction of the art, stage direction, live event production, scenic design and video content for some of today’s top performing artists, tours and television shows. CEO and President Baz Halpin used to be a performer himself, touring with a band in Europe in the ‘90s. This, along with his first-hand experience with both the lighting and set design that accompanies a performance has pushed him into this industry. Halpin has come to realize the importance of visuals and lighting, both big and small. “You want to make sure that everyone is leaving entertained, that

18 • MUSIC

is the effect; you want people to be transported away,” Halpin said. Not only is it important for the audience to feel entertained, but Halpin also feels that visual art serves to add a another medium to the performance. “It’s theater, you are getting a visual interpretation of the narrative of the song, every song is a story and you are trying to tell a story with the visual to heighten the impact of the performance.” Technological developments have been driving this industry, enhancing performances in ways that were never deemed to be possible. Because of them, visual design has shifted throughout the years and is now executed in an entirely new way. The multitude of programs coming into play makes it possible to produce such incredible sets. Some of the most commonly used are Adobe Illustrator and Cinema 4d, but there are a variety of others used to create and project images, videos and text onto large screens for the entirety of the audience to see. Halpin has noticed this shift, saying, “Technology is constantly developing and changing, creating new possibilities and opportunities. Fundamentals have always stayed the same which is creating an environment that heightens the performance.”



he design of a set and the visuals that go along with it are individualized to compliment the unique sonar experience. ODESZA, a popular electronic pop band, is widely known for their incredible visual performances. They use massive LED tiles as a stage backdrop, projecting large, brightly-colored images and videos. These visuals tell a story throughout the concert, taking the audience on an intimate journey. In addition to screens, ODESZA uses lights and lasers that flash to the beat, creating a visually and audibly stunning concert experience. Certain artists are known not only for their music, but also for their striking concert experiences. Big Gigantic, a hip hop and jazz duo, recently debuted the use of 3D visuals. Every member of the audience received 3D glasses upon arrival at the venue. During their performance, Big Gigantic gave the audience the queue to put the glasses on, and the main LED wall began projecting 3D images. This resulted in a truly immersive audio and visual experience, beyond the already impressive laser and light shows. Other artists use technology as a medium of interaction with the audience, one of these being Portugal The Man. The band projects a series of texts onto their giant LED backdrop, posing questions or previewing songs to be played later in the concert, as if they are communicating with their audience. Although the audience cannot

actually speak to the performers, it is a method of strengthening the connection between them. While technology has allowed for compelling digital visuals, physical set building still plays a key role in the overall visuals. Glass Animals, an English indie rock band, makes use of palm trees and a giant disco ball in the shape of a pineapple on their stages, which gives their performance a fun, alternative vibe. Even though technology is changing and enabling increasingly more efficient ways to create visual art, the meaning behind the art has remained the same — and always will. Its power provides entertainment to audiences and creates a special, unreplicable connection with the music that is being performed. Whether the set design is made up of physical art pieces on the stage or LED lights and interactive videos being displayed on a variety of screens, it creates a bond between the audience and the performer that is only captivated when one experiences it themselves. Going to a performance is an intimate, magical experience, providing indescribable entertainment for the viewer. MUSIC • 19

the rise of

Binaural f k d e

As society progresses into the 21st century, the rise of virtual reality and 3D audio allows artists to explore and expand their perspectives in music.


pair of black-mirrored 3D glasses lie at the entrance of a movie theater, ready to bring the pictures on the movie screen to life and enhance the viewer’s moviegoing experience. Well into the 21st century, technology has advanced to the point where 3D visuals are a prevalent aspect of movie culture. Clunky computers from the 2000s have been replaced with high-speed Macbooks and old flip phones with multi-featured smartphones. Meanwhile, virtual reality has been developing at an exponential rate, opening up countless possibilities in the world of technology. Putting on a virtual reality headset allows one to transport themselves to a new place — perhaps to the front row of a live concert — and experience

it first hand, all from the comfort of their own home. This type of experience, however, is not just visual stimulation, our technology has also advanced to stimulate auditory senses as well. When one puts on a pair of headphones with this new type of audio, it is almost as if the sounds are coming from all directions — essentially 3D sound. Today, 3D sound has reached the point where it is making an appearance on platforms such as in Youtube videos, video games and music in order to enhance the viewers’ experience by making it more immersive and vivid.

f k d e With the rapid development of virtual reality and 3D audio, the fantasy settings are beginning to become reality.


magine putting on a pair of headphones and being transported to a stage; as you look to your left you spot a world-renowned musician performing next to you, and as you glance forward, a cheering crowd full of thousands of fans. With the rapid development of virtual reality and 3D audio, these fantasy settings are beginning to become reality. 3D audio is sound that is manipulated to instill the feeling of the place in which it was recorded. It is similar to how 3D video brings 2D screens to life, but is applied to sound and audio. Today, both of these features are being utilized in entertainment as popular artists including The

Weeknd, One Republic and Avicii have uploaded 360 degree view music videos, which, when paired with a virtual reality headset, allow viewers to have a full view of what it would be like to be in the video. Additionally, there are a variety of musical “playgrounds” available. These are video games where one can interact with various elements of the game and create different sounds. For example, if one puts on a virtual reality headset, they can swing their sensor sticks and virtually play the drums. Here, one can experiment with rhythm or sounds and create music.



tanford computer science and music professor Ge Wang researches the connection between music and technology, and where it might take us in the near future. “I find virtual reality both potentially frightening and promising,” Wang said. He believes that virtual reality has the ability to completely change the direction that music takes. Through the internet, people can create new music without needing to interact or collaborate in person. Wang has already taken steps towards this idea through the development of an app called Ocarina. By combining aspects of music and internet, Ocarina makes it possible to play a virtual flute or listen to other people around the world play the instrument in real time. On a global scale, people can collaborate on and create music through the app, which can be extended and deepened for more complex interactions between people in the future.

Although the improvements that virtual reality can provide in society are immense, the implication for the music industry are not positive. For exmaple, if everyone starts to watch sporting events in virtual reality, people will start to gravitate away from attending live sporting events and television sports channels will start to deterioate with it. For people who are too busy to take time out of their day to go to a live event, the idea of virtually attending sounds more appealing and simple than commuting through traffic and crowds of people. Another tool used to create 3D audio is binaural sound, a technology that uses a specific type of microphone to capture sound the same way our ears do. The sound input bounces off the ear-shaped mic the same way sound waves ricochet off our ears, simulating real life sound experiences. “Much of it follows the physics, the science of sound,” Wang said. With binaural sound making its way into virtual reality and the music industry, the way sound is treated and recognized will start to change as it adapts to the world of 3D audio.

f k d e It’s virtual reality, a technology that’s meant to be a purposeful, hijacking of your senses. -Ge Wang


he rise of virtual reality has opened countless possibilities for the music industry. Some musicians have taken advantage of this new technology by re-creating and recording concerts with 360-degree video; however it is only recently that 3D sound has gone mainstream. According to Vice Media, Soundcloud artists have experimented with 3D sound for many years, through audio or in Vimeo video. On the other hand, mainstream artists have neglected to add layers to their music, opting to produce the same 2D sound heard through headphones, as it is less expensive. Just as virtual reality has paved the way for people to closely experience other worlds with their visual sense, the use of 3D sound allows listeners to feel as if they are at the artist’s live concert or sitting in the recording studio with them playing just a couple of feet

away. With this kind of virtual application, artists are able to create their music in an abstract way, and appeal to a new audience of listeners. Abstraction in music videos, with shapes and colors, is a completely different style than the music videos artists have produced within the last few years, and the rise of virtual reality allows artists to explore the new genre and create unique content. As the use of 3D sound and virtual reality increases in popularity and musicians are able to add dimension and depth to their recorded audio, the engaging and exciting experience of live performances will become more accessible to everyone. Though the atmosphere and hype around live concerts may not change, it will allow those who are unable to physically attend to experience the opportunity.

MUSIC • 21



anye West is the greatest artist of all time. Well, according to him anyway. Born in Atlanta and raised in Chicago, Kanye Omari West, who is known for his eccentric and egotistical persona, has made his mark in everything from rap to high fashion. Throughout his career, West has always been considered a controversial figure. However, his recent actions regarding advocacy for the Trump administration and cultural viewpoints have instilled a new level of astonishment among his supporters and spectators. This behavior has harmed both his reputation and relationships with fans, family and friends, while also threatening to alter his legacy forever. Emerging in the early 2000s, West produced and released a number of albums and chart-topping singles. His career first took off after the release of “The College Dropout” in 2004, which sold a total of 441,000 copies and secured the No. 2 spot on Billboard’s top 200 album list. West had found his way into the limelight, and he doesn’t plan on stepping out anytime soon. Less than a year after his debut, West walked away with two awards, one for Best Rap Album and another for “Jesus Walks” as Best Rap Song. West continued to build his fame by creating more entertaining and captivating music that was beloved by his listeners. West’s next album was called “Late Registration” and included one of his most well-known songs to this day: “Gold Digger,” featuring Jamie Foxx. This album immediately became a hit among fans across the nation, as well as beating his previous album by reaching No. 1 on Billboard’s best album list. Following this album release, West proved that he was not just a gifted musical artist, but a capable influencer in the

fashion industry as well. In September of 2005, West announced his line of Pastelle Clothing, which led to the eventual collaboration with multi-billion dollar company Adidas and the founding of the successful Yeezy brand collection. One of his most popular products, the Yeezy 750 Boost “Light Brown”, was a $544.00 shoe that sold out within minutes. Featured in multiple shows in New York Fashion Week, his apparel collections awarding him the image of a well-respected figure in the design industry. In 2006, West’s undeniable talent and passion for music showcased in the cover story of Rolling Stones magazine. This granted West the publicity needed to propel his career, where he produced and released more albums that would continue to reach No. 1. His next popular album, “Graduation” was released on September 11th and sold 950,000 units in the first week. By 2008, West had fully established a high status as a performer and also gained prominent fame around the world. In November, he released his fourth album, “808s & Heartbreak.” The album featured lyrics that provided deep insight into West’s personal life, including details on his previous relationships, as well as the recent loss of his mother. Soon after “808s & Heartbreak” in 2010, West released arguably his best-known album to date: “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.” This contained several hit songs including “Runaway,” “All Of The Lights,” “Devil in a New Dress” and many other fan favorites. This album earned West another Grammy for Best Rap Album. What many fans and listeners did not anticipate, was that this album served as a representation of the end of an era in West’s music career. Fast forward to 2018, the name “Kanye West” has been shortened to “ye”, and his classic 2000’s old-school rap sound is now fundamentally shifted into one that is primarily unorthodox and brutally honest. In his recent song release “Lift Yourself,”



I miss the old Kanye / straight from the ‘Go Kany

“I hate the new Kanye / The always rude

22 • MUSIC




the last 30 seconds consist of West reciting the lyrics “scoop-diddy-whoop, whoop-discoop-di-poop.” To many, this seemed far more immature and deranged than anything West had produced before, and even some of his die-hard fans questioned his new sound. This new change in music style was simultaneous with a shift in West’s behavior. Leading up to the release of one of his most recent albums, “ye,” West hosted a listening party in one of his favorite spots: Jackson, Wyoming. While in Wyoming, West was able to take a mental break from his chaotic and stressful life in California in order to further help himself regain the strength he once had. Two months after the release of this album, West revealed that he was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. Speaking candidly about his disease, West claims that he views it as his “superpower.” Going along with his perspective on his health, he decided to place the words, “I hate being bipolar, it’s awesome,” on the front cover of “ye.” However controversial West seemed in the past, no one could have predicted his recent behavior regarding his participation in political and social movements in the past few months. The beginning of this period of political controversy traces back to earlier this April when West returned to Twitter after previously deleting his account earlier that year. He started off by declaring that his tweets are now his unconventional way of writing an autobiography, tweeting that it would not be a financial opportunity, but instead an “innate need to be expressive.” Later that month, West heavily praised his own successes by declaring that he is this generation’s Henry Ford, Langston Hughes, Steve Jobs and Walt Disney. Next, a series of tweets regarding his personal views on freedom of thought and America’s history of slavery were published onto his account. He tweeted “there was a time when slavery was a trend and apparently that time is still upon us. But now it’s a mentality.” On the 25th,

he abruptly launched into a series of tweets which expressed his “love” for President Trump. He states that although he doesn’t agree with everything the president does, he still sees him as a “brother” and believes that they each represent a “dragon energy.” These words came to life in early May when he made an appearance on an episode of TMZ LIVE and became extraordinarily candid on topics ranging from his thoughts on President Trump to the freedom of thought. The quote from this interview that made multiple headlines was West’s statement that slavery was a choice for millions of past African Americans. Although possibly taken out of context, the thought that such a prominent figure in American black culture could be blaming the atrocity of slavery on the decisions of those primarily affected was outraging for many of his previous supporters. This recent uprise in political commentary led to a correspondence between West and President Trump. On October 12th, a televised meeting between the two was held in the oval office, where West made the statement that wearing Trump’s merchandise ‘Make America Great Again’ hat made him “feel like Superman.” It is unclear exactly who Kanye West is today or who he will be tomorrow. Is he an innovator who isn’t afraid to speak his mind, or simply a victim of a controlling disorder? A success story of the American dream, or the tragic downfall of an icon? His political voice has become a whirlwind of unpredictability and is broadcasted to the entire world, making each controversy more heightened and consequential than the last. It should be noted, however, that eccentric and bizarre behavior conducted by public figures is regularly criticized, but their future legacies are often perceived as ones of greatness, being applauded for pushing the social boundaries of their time. Or as West would put it, “Why are people so scared of creative ideas and so scared of the truth? All I want to do is do good.”

nye Chop up the soul Kanye / set on his goals Kanye

Kanye / spaz in the news Kanye.”

MUSIC • 23




WATCHING Marketing has arguably always been a form of public manipulation however with the increasing availability of digital consumers’ private information the ethicality of the industry is being further called in to question. TEXT AND DESIGN BY KAILEE CORRELL, LEON LAU TAMAR PONTE, MAHATI SUBRAMANIAM AND FIZA USMAN PHOTOS BY PATILLE PAPAS AND LEON LAU


s you wait in congested traffic, you see billboard after billboard, all advertising a different product. Some pop out more than others forming a long lasting impression, encouraging you to look into and possibly even purchase the product later. Each of these billboards, were strategically designed and placed in order to incentivize potential consumers to spend money on their product. This is the power of marketing. Marketing is a crucial component in creating a successful business, as it serves as a strategic way to exhibit the company. Traditionally, the industry was limited in its advertising abilities; it was meant help businesses personalize their brand. However, with the ubiquity of the internet and availability of sophisticated marketing and digital tools, modern companies have achieved unprecedented access to their consumers. But with this great power comes great responsibility. Marketers are expected to advertise their products in an ethical fashion to ensure that they are spreading truthful information. However, the ethics of marketing conducted by major companies have recently been called to question due to the influx of false advertising. This is when advertisers present information in a way that is more appealing to the viewers but are not necessarily accurate to the product they are selling. This falsification of information contributes to a large amount of revenue generated from eager consumers, but does so in a deceitful way. With the methodology used in the marketing profession, many have questioned whether advertisers are doing more harm than good for their customers. CULTURE • 25

Clickstreaming How far does one click go?


ll businesses want to know how much attention their company is drawing from the public and can track this data with online programs and applications. With this kind of technology becoming implemented in many areas of the business world, it is becoming easier for a company to gather data regarding the amount of attention it has attracted through its online presence. Collected through advertisements published online, the information regarding the number of clicks generated by the ad is used by companies when designing more. There is a fine line that divides elements of click streaming and clickbait for ads. While click streaming is tracking the path a website viewer takes, clickbait draws them in with the intention of getting more clicks. Despite the good intentions of any business, there is another side to their actions: using false information to gain clicks. Clickbait ads and headlines typically take advantage of human curiosity just in order to get clicks. One notable example of clickbait that is seen throughout Youtube, where creators title their content something bizarre that is too obscure to ignore. To accompany these titles, the videos have thumbnails that are just as unique, making the viewers believe they must watch the video. Jim Lattin, a Professor of Marketing at Stanford University, explains that businesses use advertisements to spark interest among their target audiences, leading to more clicks and views on their website. However, this form of tracking comes at a cost. Although this kind of publicity and recognition may be beneficial to a company, smaller franchises and start-ups have to control how valuable the ads actually are, to make sure they are not losing more revenue than they are gaining. “Most paid marketing is an experimental search,” Lattin said. “[The] main point in trying to deal with [this testing is] most marketers don’t know what works.” Many businesses will conduct A/B testing, a test where they compare two versions of an ad to see which performs better in focus groups. After this, companies review the collected data and funnel it into categories that will help them create an improved and more successful model to be used in the future. At a glance, this process seems lengthy and unnecessary, but in the long run the company benefits from the research. Trial and error are recurrent in the business world and are important aspects of finding an effective ad designs. Lattin believes that the most successful types of ads are ones that make the reader think about the message or leave them wanting to become more informed and visit the website. “[Try to see] if you can get people curious to get answers to your question,” Lattin said. “It sparks curiosity and makes [users] take action to find the solution by visiting your site.” While both click streaming and clickbait are promoting the company’s product or mission, they are interpreted in different ways amongst society, one being the idea that advertisements are not always telling the truth. If newly established companies want to effectively communicate to their market, it is important for them to focus on spreading their message through marketing and click streaming, instead of clickbait and false information.


Color Psychology How do marketers manipulate color?


major aspect of creating a logo is the colors used, which are decided based on a form of research known as color psychology: the study of how different colors influence people’s behavior and decisionmaking. In marketing, color psychology can impact how a potential consumer views and forms an opinion on a particular brand. The use of color as it relates to persuasion is one of the most controversial aspects of marketing. Colors are often chosen by companies as a way to create a personality for their brand, best suited for the product or service they are producing. However, colors are also chosen based on the psychological responses they elicit in the brain. Many people have expressed their concerns regarding the implications of colors, claiming that it is an unethical way for companies to manipulate their customers. Yet, our perception of color is heavily reliant on our individual experiences like personal taste, gender and family upbringing. A popular brand notorious for its color branding is McDonalds. The iconic yellow “M” encased in a red box is recognizable to people of all ages, regardless of whether or not they actually eat there. Yellow is generally perceived as an eye-catching, happy color that grabs the attention of hungry, potential consumers while they are driving by an establishment. In addition, yellow is commonly associated with the feeling of home. This creates a persona for the brand; one that is family forward with a home style approach. Consumers are thus more likely to associate eating at McDonalds with positive experiences, and crave it on sight, increasing the company’s revenue. Another brand famous for its iconic colors is CocaCola. This company has been around since 1886, and has built a brand around the idea of sharing experiences with friends and family. Today, this is apparent in their numerous #Shareacoke campaigns. The red used within their branding encompasses the sense of passion and excitement that is prevalent amongst the company’s campaigns and advertisements. This color is also known to be dominant and is associated with a range of emotions that can often be overwhelming. To make the color less overpowering, marketers pair it with a soft color to hinder the consumer from associating it with feelings of danger or caution. When picking the right color, research has shown that marketers care less about what the reaction towards a specific color is, and more about whether the color is an appropriate representation of the product or service being sold. According to a study titled “Impact of Marketing and Coloring,” 90% of rash judgements are made solely based on color. So, while color psychology does involve some subtle manipulation, majority of the results are determined by the individual’s personal biases and experiences.


Invasion of Privacy Are you being tracked?


n recent years, the public has become unsettled by the increasingly apparent invasion of our internet activity and social media use. Companies are tuning into our microphones and devices to strategically place ads that correspond to our interests as the ability to possess personal infomation has become concerningly easy. Voice activated assistants, or home devices, have increased in popularity in recent years. Many consumers have claimed these home devices, such as Alexa, have not only tracked what users view on their devices, but that they also listen to users’ conversations. Devices like Amazon’s Alexa, while convenient, have become crucial components in advertising, because the data collected by them is used in ways that invade users’ privacy. The device Alexa functions by turning on when it hears the command “Alexa,” but in order for this feature to work consistently, it must listen to its surroundings at all times. This is often not explicitly stated in advertisements for the product but can be found in the terms of agreement. As with any product, however, many consumers rarely read these terms as they tend to be long and indigestible. This results in consumers missing crucial information regarding their privacy such as access to things from thier connected devices, such as their messages and calls. A Google employee, who prefers to remain anonymous, has gone through Amazon’s terms and conditions and noticed some faultiness in the product. “I have seen some companies, like Amazon, sharing collected data around... on different [messaging services] to get additional insight on what they should produce,” the employee said. “So they might even intercept your texts and provide additional advertisements.” Through Alexa’s constant listening feature, the company is able to listen in and gain more information through our personal conversations to individually target these ads. Social media platforms, especially Facebook, have also used these strategies. Facebook had to address many concerns from consumers concerning why they require so much information about users’ personal lives on their website. They stated that they understand that these permissions may “sound scary” but claim there is substantial reasoning behind all the information they require. The access they demand when downloading the app is the ability to read users’ text messages, download files without permission, go through and create users’ contacts through their app Messenger as well as modify and access calendar events without the owner’s permission. A problem that many users face is the lack of knowledge they have when signing away their privacy. Since Google has also been under fire regarding their continuous intrusion of privacy, a Google employee weighed on the companies point of view. He explains that the data gathered by these companies doesn’t actually allow for one’s personal name and location to be identified. “Ads are based on matric systems and we are provided basic information of the consumers interests but none of the users personal data is released to everyone else,” he says. In his perspective, the different demographics of Google’s users helps provide a far more satisfactory feed. Employees at Google are determined to run their business while still keeping the privacy of their users a high priority. Although they may not know our personal identity, personal data is being exploited at the hands of many buisnesses for promotion purposes, which has left many people afraid of what information has advanced into the world web. As it becomes easier it becomes to hack, more people are trying their best to avert their data from being accessible. To prevent companies from monitoring them through their webcam, people have invested in covers or stickers for their laptop cameras. This includes Emily Asher, a Paly junior, who finds solace knowing that her face is hidden behind a sliding webcam cover in case anybody ever gains access to


her camera. “Privacy is super important to me,” Asher said. “I started [covering my camera] because I know that if anything would have ever happened I have that sense of safety. Everything you do or say on the internet is there forever and for everyone to see.” Additionally, Ravit Weissman, a Paly mom data scientist at Oath, a part of Verizon Communications Media and Telematics division, has been working in the web search industry for many years. On a daily basis, Weissman combs through data in order to create insights related to consumer experience and behavior, manages A/B testing, and develops new models for improving user experience and engagement as a method of increasing revenue. “In recent years, the ads, and particularly targeted ads, have become an integral part of the web search, as this mode seems like the most effective for monetization,” Weissman said. The only ways to monetize websites is either through marketing or by having users pay websites each time they search for something. Most people prefer having advertisers pay for the service they are using than themselves. “There is no free lunch,” Weissman says. “And the price in this case is to endure the ads and maybe even click and purchase every once in a while.” What these services are attempting to do is provide users with the information they seek but simultaneously promote good businesses and products that the person is more inclined to support. When users view a product, their information is stored in a web browser cookie, which is a small piece of code that allows ad networks and sites to share information on what visitors view or buy, like their browsing history and app usage. From there, data scientists, like Weissman, separate the collected data into two parts. One part consists of training data sets, which build artificial intelligence from the collected data, improving performance. The second part is testing data sets made to experiment with new models. Once this model is ready to deliver, the data scientists use A/B testing to see how well the new models perform and decide whether or not to launch them. “We care a lot about user privacy,” Weissman said. Companies that targeted ads are bound to the General Data Protection Regulation, meaning the data they collect is encrypted and frequently deleted. Users are also given the option of browsing in a private mode. “The price they will pay is that they will get un-targeted ads,” Weissman said Although many of these companies have good intentions when finding ways to target user’s interests, it does not excuse them from keeping consumers uneducated on what they can and cannot access. However, it seems unknown whether or not companies will attempt to use different marketing tactics as competition to stay relevant increases.

Stay Stay conscious conscious


s our world becomes more dependent on the internet, many are afraid of the unsettling way the internet and other modern technology has adapted in efforts to maintain relevance with consumers. Although many consumers are concerned and have expressed discontent with the marketing industry and their tactics, they have come to realize that the endorsement of these products and platforms is relatively inescapable. And with this realization, they are inherently agreeing to this invasion of privacy when they accept terms and policies.


watch watch your your BACK BACK A perspective on how companies are crossing the line


lexa is always listening. Does that bother you? Make you feel uncomfortable? Well, that’s not all. Every action you make, including any phone calls or text messages, is constantly being monitored by social media sites and smart technology such as Alexa, a virtual assistant and home system. Our online presence always leaves a trace of information that companies actively collect in order to provide us with targeted ads. Sure, that’s slightly unsettling, but what is truly concerning is how the integration of smart technology into our daily lives makes all of our online and offline actions available for companies to track and create ads that align with what they believe match our interests. According to Alexa’s terms of use, “Alexa streams audio to the cloud when you interact with Alexa. Amazon processes and retains your Alexa Interactions, such as your voice inputs.” This means that Alexa keeps voice recordings associated with users’ accounts which can only be deleted manually, and even then it remains uncertain if these records are truly erased. With the increasing use of smart devices and our growing reliance on social media, it is imperative that a line is drawn in order to protect our information from companies and hackers. Companies should not be allowed to constantly monitor “private” messages that are sent via social media apps or regulated by smart devices, and we should not have to consent to this personal information being recorded and given away or not kept securely. Although we can choose whether or not to consent to these terms of use, it is unreasonable to track and disperse our data to other parties because internet connectivity and social networking are important aspects of our lives that are almost impossible to avoid. I want to believe that my offline actions are not being watched so that I can maintain at least a semblance of separation between my real

life and online presence, but this proves to be impossible as companies continue to record my personal data and interactions. As advertisements are created to appeal to consumers in more personalized ways, a point is reached where our decisions are influenced by outside parties to such a degree that our own judgment is affected. Using simple aspects in ads ranging from color selection to specific references to our daily actions, companies can send subliminal messages and potentially influence our behavior. So, where is the separation between simply suggesting a product or service for purchase and influencing our behavior in ways that we may not even be aware of? As human beings who have fought for centuries to maintain our most fundamental rights to freedom and individuality, ads aiming to psychologically and subconsciously coerce us into making decisions that we otherwise may not make is almost contradictory to this struggle. Companies tracking my personal data through keeping an endless record of my life is already intrusive enough; exploiting my reliance on technology by using that data in a targeted effort to manipulate my actions is a violation of my personal autonomy. Through our dependence on social media and smart technology like Alexa — there is even a smart refrigerator now — our online and offline presences are merging into one discernible whole that is constantly being monitored and shared without our knowledge. To account for this trend towards technological dependency, the terms of use must be revised to protect our rights to privacy and autonomy. Though on the surface it appears that our lives are unrestrained and completely within our own control, in truth, the profiteering of companies off of the constant surveillance of our lives construes a whole new meaning to the phrase, “Big Brother is Watching You,” except that this time, it is Alexa who is listening in on your life.

our online and off line presences are merging into one discernible whole that is constantly being monitored and shared without our knowledge.



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Despite their unifying passion for nature and all that it offers, the lifestyles of environmentalists and outdoorsmen are very unique to each other. C Magazine interviews Paly students and profiles both roles to turn the stereotype between the public’s perception of them and their individual realities on their sides.


he environmentalist and the outdoorsman: two similar yet contrasting roles in that they both engage with and depend on the outdoors but partake in different activities concerning it. Environmentalists work towards preserving the health of the planet by thinking of creative ways to reuse materials, working to stop using harmful products or simply reducing their waste. In contrast, outdoorsmen think of the outdoors as a source of

relaxation and entertainment, partaking in activities such as hunting and fishing. Despite the differences between them, these two roles are able to coexist. As an increasing sense of environmental welfare has spread through the years, stricter laws have been put in place to preserve nature. Today, these regulations allow one to enjoy the rush of outdoor activities — including hunting, rock climbing and fishing — while simultaneously preserving the environment.



The Environmentalist


or some, a love for the environment can blossom from a simple passion and encouraging surroundings. This was the case for Palo Alto High School senior Evan Baldonado, whose passion was sparked by his love of fish after he won a goldfish at a carnival. In seventh grade, Baldonado created a website, AquariumKids.com, which teaches fishkeepers to be responsible. “I advocate for environmentally-responsible fish keeping,” he said. “I speak out against releasing pet fish as they can become invasive species and I also write about why fish keepers should care about the environment.” Releasing domesticated animals can have a negative impact on the environment as they are non-native, and often do not have natural predators to regulate their population size. Consequently, they are free to prey on native animals, which are not equipped with natural defenses against these animals. In addition, non-native animals may introduce diseases that wipe out native populations and disturb the environment. Along with advocating against the release of pets into the wild, Baldonado has also been involved in a variety of activities helping the ecosystem. “I interned with the City of Palo Alto through the Get Involved Foundation to create a webpage about pollution and storm drains,” Baldonado said. “I also led a Service Day activity for stenciling storm drains.” Additionally, he interns at the Stanford Ocean Biogeochemistry Lab, where he helps research phytoplankton and climate change.

“My ultimate goal is for our society to be as sustainable as possible.”

At Paly, he has participated in a variety of environmental clubs, and is currently president of The Roots Club, which aids students in creating projects that have positive effects on the environment. Additionally, he has collaborated with other organizations to host awareness events and set up areas where students can donate and recycle used batteries. “Through Roots Club, we have set up a battery recycling box in the student center,” he said. He is also preparing to partake in No Straw November, a movement where students refrain from using straws for the month, as they are detrimental to the environment and are leading contributors to ocean pollution. Although manmade objects often have negative consequences on the environment, what impact do human actions, such as hunting and fishing, have on the ecosystem? “I speak out against those who do not hunt or fish responsibly, but I do not have qualms with the others,” Baldonado said. He personally refrains from hunting, but believes that when regulated responsibly, it can be done without many lasting effects on wildlife. Through his continuous involvement in environmental efforts, Baldonado has developed a clear sense of his ideal society. “My ultimate goal is for our society to be as sustainable as possible.” he said. Baldonado strives everyday to achieve his mission of bettering the environment and leaving a positive impact on the earth.

Evan Baldonado



ockets of wondrous nature still exist in Silicon Valley, making it the perfect playground for those in love with the outdoors, such as Paly junior Will Moragne. Moragne has spent almost his entire life acquainted with the outdoors through fishing, hunting or simply enjoying what nature has to offer. These activities are uncommon for someone living in an urban environment such as Palo Alto, but he finds them to be an outlet for all of the stress that surrounds living in the heart of Silicon Valley. “I spend more time than I probably realize in the outdoors,” said Moragne. “Outside of sports seasons, I really enjoy being able to fish and even hunt after school some days. For many people where we live, that wouldn’t even cross their mind.” Moragne loves the adrenaline rush that comes from these outdoor activities; he constantly seeks out new places in order to experience the excitement that these activities have to offer. “The environment means everything to

Will Moragne me because the outdoors is a big part of who I am,” said Moragne. “I am truly passionate for the outdoors.” Many people have a strong belief that those who hunt or fish are mindlessly harming the environment without second thought. Moragne refutes this belief by expressing how deeply he cares for the environment and how his actions are, in fact, the doing the opposite of harm. “Most people don’t realize, but active hunters and fisherman are a huge part to conservation.” he said. “I like to do a lot of land management, especially for waterfowl.” With his deep love of nature and all that it has to offer, Moragne tries to maintain a level of preservation, doing his part in keeping the environment from being irreversibly destroyed or ruined. “People have a backwards idea on what active outdoorsmen do for the environment,” he said. “I enjoy the outdoors so much, it’s why I give back in many conservational ways.” Morgane has struck a balance between his love for nature and the importance of preserving it by simultaneously caring for the environment and exercising the wondrous activities it has to offer.

“People have a backwards idea on what active outdoorsmen do for the environment. I enjoy the outdoors so much, it’s why I give back in many conservational ways.”

The Outdoorsman CULTURE • 35


Every year, almost three million lost, stray and abandoned pets living in overflowing animal shelters are euthanized. Campaign slogans such as “Adopt Don’t Shop” have spread awareness regarding the issue of animal homelessness in our country. Adoption not only gives animals a loving home, but it can also save the lives of other animals as more space in shelters becomes available.


hough many generally correlate price with quality, the higher prices of purebred animals from puppy mills, pet stores and backyard breeders do not necessarily reflect the caliber of the home in which they were raised. Due to the large quantity of animals in breeders’ homes at any given time and the subpar conditions they are all subject to, these animals often suffer from long term health issues. Though puppy mills are legal in the U.S., buyers are often not informed of the danger and inhumane treatment that is prevalent in the breeding industry. While these unethical breeders continue to overprice and mistreat their animals, millions of pets wait eagerly in shelters for someone to take them home. Palo Alto has been home to Palo Alto Animal Services (PAAS), located just off Bayshore Road, since its opening in 1972. Though this shelter has been shortstaffed in recent years, its acting superintendent, Cody McCartney, has worked there for 16 years and seen the impact of animal adoption first hand. “I had two little chihuahuas that came from here. McCartney said. They probably weren’t going to make the adoption program for medical and behavior reasons, but once I had them, they turned out to be great dogs.” PAAS takes in more than just cats and dogs;


bunnies, chickens and guinea pigs are all up for adoption with fees ranging from $5 to $125. With so many types of animals to choose from in each shelter, buyers have the opportunity to find a pet that best matches their personality. Outside each animal’s enclosure, a sign lists their name, along with a description of their personality, helping buyers find the best fit for themselves. PAAS matches those interested in adopting with hundreds of animals each year, creating an unbreakable bond regardless of where the pet may have come from. These adoptions not only help the animals that are directly finding homes, but they also save the lives of others, as more space in shelters becomes available. Though the shelter tries to aid every animal that comes to their door, some animals are too ill to care for. “We euthanize only for severe behavior or medical reasons,” McCartney said. “If it’s something we can treat, we’ll treat it, as long as the animal isn’t suffering.” Additionally, if an animal poses a severe threat to humans or other animals, this serves as the solution. “We are public safety, we’re part of the police department, so we have to be sure we’re adopting out animals that won’t be a threat to society,” McCartney said. “But it is very rare.”

Apart from these exceptions, PAAS completes the The amount of time that cats and dogs remain in foster necessary health protocols for all other animals. “California homes vary. “For kittens, it’s more of an age thing...for requires every dog or cat to be neutered or spayed before behavior reasons it can be months until we see improvement,” adoption,” McCartney said. “We just start over like they’ve McCartney said. never been vaccinated, do microchipping and make sure Eva Adzema, a senior at Paly, began fostering dogs roughly they’re reasonably healthy.” five years ago with the organization Pound Puppy Rescue Though the younger animals tend to be adopted more (PPR). PPR is a nonprofit organization that rescues puppies quickly, “as long as they are happy, healthy and remain from overcrowded shelters where they are at risk for diseases adoptable they’ll be here as long as it takes,” McCartney said. and euthanasia. With the help of foster families, PPR places For those who are hundreds of puppies unable to commit to into permanent homes the responsibilities that each year. “Why continue to breed if we already have so come with adopting Since they began an animal, PAAS also working with PPR, many [animals] that need our help?” facilitates a foster family Adzema and her program. Depending family have opened Eva Adzema on the animals’ previous their home to over 30 living conditions and puppies. “We foster the age, many dogs and cats enter foster homes to prepare them puppy or puppies for, at the minimum, four to five days, to for permanent ones. Whether its nurturing the animal until maximum, a little over a month,” Adzema said. Throughout it reaches a certain age or helping the animal gain confidence Adzemas life, she has owned four rescue dogs that have each and social skills, foster families are determined to help the brought immense joy and comfort to their family. Adzema animal find a lifetime home where it can thrive. knows first hand the importance of animal adoption and the “Dogs with behavioral issues that need to be worked with impact it can make on an animal’s life. “I think it is important get fosters, but mainly cats [are fostered] because kitten season to give these animals an opportunity to have a good life. Why hits around March or April, and we become overwhelmed continue to breed and create more animal lives if we already with kittens and mothers,” said McCartney. have so many that need our help?” Adzema said.



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News reporters have the difficult job of keeping society up-to-date on natural disasters, politics, individuals’ stories and more. But what many readers do not consider is what happens beyond the story: what the news fails to report on.


he job of a journalist is to report the news and tell stories of people within the country or smaller communities to keep society informed. These stories provide information utilized by individuals in society to create change and a positive impact. In order to be successful within this industry one must possess a specific skill set such as being able to withstand long hours, employ strategic thinking and be willing to step out of their comfort zone. Therefore, when journalists receive recognition for their tireless work it can serve as a source of motivation when choosing the types of stories or problems to focus on. However, it is important for journalists to acknowledge that they should be focused on creating headlines that draw people in and promote long-lasting effects, rather than attracting numerous readers with superficial coverage. In reality, journalists possess the power to shed light on content and sources that would otherwise go unseen and unheard. The media tells the stories of those who cannot speak for themselves, as well as

Our heart 38 • CULTURE







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the difficult realities of trauma and loss. However, the lives of those who are affected by the issues the media reports extend beyond scope of the articles featured in the latest issue of the newspaper; the subjects often continue to experience hardship beyond the single news cycle. Those reading about the experiences of others can easily detach themselves from the anecdotes and fail to remember that they are, in fact, reading about real lives and real events. The subjects of these stories are the only ones who truly experience the effects of these events; unlike the reader, they are unable to leave the narrative once the page is flipped. To most, it appears that the concerns presented by the news and media are not as genuine as they initially seem. Hidden behind the constant influx of news are the lost stories, the ones that describe the “what next” after trauma; often times, the most difficult and impactful part of one’s story comes after “the end.” Talia Medel, a senior at Santa Barbara High School, has first-hand experience with both the positive and negative aspects of

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the media’s influence regarding traumatic such as Rob Lowe, a famous actor who events. In January of 2018, Santa Barbara lives in Montecito, California, attempted to County suffered from a major storm that spread awareness of the event through an triggered a severe stream of destructive interview featured on “The Ellen Degeneres mudslides which destroyed homes, roads Show.” The perspectives that were featured and even took lives. Fortunately, Medel’s all over the news, though valid in their own home was left undamaged, but many of her way, did not give outsiders the full story peers were affected, and a close friend lost on the events that had occurred. Medel his life. believes that the celebrity interviews and Medel was left in the dark about the other interviews featured on the news were whereabouts of her friends and peers due not representative of the real victims of the to the lack of service, but once the colossal mudslides. Instead, she wished that the damage was cleared from the roads and she media featured “people who were genuinely “finally got to school, [the local news] told affected” because those are the stories that us [ my close friend] was missing, and that should matter. Although the community is they had found his still in recovery, she father who hadn’t “It didn’t look real, it didn’t feels that “they moved made it,” Medel said. look like home, it still hasn’t on really quick and “For a while we kept if they wanted to be really hit me” up hope, making him genuine they should Talia Medel signs and gathering cover the whole story at bonfires, but after three weeks of nothing, or nothing at all.” Just like most aspects of they pronounced him dead.” society, the news cycle and what journalists Medel’s friend’s death hit the Santa report on is not perfect. This is no fault of Barbara community hard; the loss of their own, as it is the way news has been loved ones and the destruction of one’s reported for years, however, it does not home consequently will alter the life of an discount the importance of reporting the individual. “[The town] didn’t look real, it “whole story.” Where the news succeeds is didn’t look like home, it still hasn’t really hit in sharing these stories in the first place, me,” Medel said. giving people the opportunity to receive The mudslides were heavily reported on support and recognition from others outside in mainstream news, and the support for the of their own community. Unlike a typical community was featured in GoFundMe’s, news cycle, living through a traumatic or hashtags and on other posts through various prominent event does not subside into the social media platforms. Even celebrities archives after a period of three weeks. who had personal connections to the area,




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e v i s s a m n i l l o t h t a e d : ’ o d e a v n fi r o o t t s e s i r A fire e ia blaz CULTURE • 39



atience is a virtue and one backed by research. Studies have found that juveniles who demonstrate greater levels of patience go on to live more successful and fulfilling lives. This modernized era has allowed for common experiences of instant gradification due to the quick advancement of digital services. With a couple of taps on their phone, one can catch a ride instantly, order meals from innumerable cuisines or watch an entire television series seamlessly. Though it may seem quite convenient to have immediate access to all these desires, this is not a realistic expectation of how more important and lasting things in life will be achieved. The reality is that the important, lifedefining moments and accomplishments will require hard work, persistence and a lot of patience. However, younger generations are becoming far too accustomed to receiving things instantaneously with little to no effort. According to



psychologist Sherrie Campbell, patience is important in work environments. In the article titled “8 Ways Practicing Patience Radically Increases Your Capacity for Success,” Campbell suggests that in order “to be successful, we need patience when it comes to employee relations, business negotiations and communications, as well as achievement of the strategic goals we’ve set.” Our generation’s current expectation is that everything will come instantly and easily, which will only prevent us from being equipped with the patience required to be successful in our future working lives. Our generation is more impatient than any other generation before. The world of devices and services is constantly advancing with evermore powerful apps that increase how much we depend on instant gratification, creating an “at your fingertips” experience that we are deeply immersed in. When our

phones glitch for a few seconds, our package comes a day late or we are put on hold, we struggle to keep calm. Many users do not realize that the value of patience, like any skill, requires practice. Campbell believes that “patience develops excellence” and “talent is longearned patience.” The practice of patience is exercised through something as simple as waiting in line without getting frustrated or anxious. This gives one the opportunity to enjoy one’s surroundings. Important life experiences come from the challenging pace and difficulty of education in Palo Alto. We have a plethora of challenging classes, including honors and APs, that encourage us to push ourselves to our full academic po­­­­­tential. We are granted the opportunity to work towards discovering the most efficient

“Patience develops excellence. Talent is long-earned.”

C Magazine observes how the advancement of digital services and experiences is altering younger generations’ aptitude for patience and its effect on their lives and futures.

way to learn and succeed. However, these parts of our lives don’t happen overnight or with the push of a button. Challenges at Paly take many months of persistence, hard work and patience. Due to the fact that we are so accustomed to the feeling of instant gratification, it is common for students to want to zoom through their homework to “get it done” instead of trying to truly comprehend the information. This approach ultimately impacts long-term success and abilities when facing future challenges. Looking beyond Paly, expectations will only increase, demanding even more persistence and patience. Meanwhile, our addiction to instant gratification is only continuing to grow. In the future, personal and professional projects will increase in volume and complexity, requiring a much

higher level of persistence, resilience and patience. Campbell also believes that “being patient[...]ncreases our chances of achieving what we want.” Since it will be nearly impossible to complete a task instantly, it will be a greater challenge for our generation to see tasks through and achieve the desired reward. Not only will our expectations of immediate gratification affect what we accomplish in our occupations, but they could also potentially affect our future personal lives as well. Keeping close friendships and maintaining a healthy and happy marriage takes a tremendous amount of patience. Raising kids requires patience throughout decades. If we are getting anxious and frustrated while having to wait for videos to load or packages to arrive, how can we expect to beat these far greater challenges? Despite the fact that these services and

“Being patient... increases our chances of achieving what we want.”

experiences are making our lives easier today, we need to think ahead, considering who we want to be in the future. The more attached we become to the services that provide us with the feeling of instant gratification, the more we will expect everything in our lives to become instant. Eliminating our usage of these apps is not the answer, but our generation does need to be mindful of both how often we use these services, and how they are affecting who we are as individuals. It is important for us to learn to be okay with waiting during times that move at slower paces because services will continue to advance and become more accessible which will only further our generations impatience. Although in some aspects we will benefit greatly from these advancements, it is also crucial for us to be aware of how we are being affected by our surrounding environment that is continuously changing and advancing.

destinations finaL








or the month of June, Paly alumni Sam Guernsey (‘18) explored Europe with three of her closest friends. For many people, this is a bucket list item that is always out of reach, but Guernsey found to actualize it. Guernsey believes that she was able to make this trip a reality because of her excessive and punctual planning. She and her friends began planning their adventure across seven different European countries in the first semester of their senior year. Guernsey and one of her friends began their journey through Europe with a ten-day trip to Italy with the Paly choir, where they toured through countless ancient ruins, and even sang in St. Peter’s Basilica. She then met two other friends in Portugal, and from there the group traveled through Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Hungary. “It was really fun to just be with some of my best friends for a month experiencing new cultures and meeting new people, ” Guernsey said. To stretch their budget across the entire trip, Guernsey chose Airbnbs and hostels over pricey hotels and went grocery shopping a couple of times a week in order to avoid eating out. After much hard work put into planning, and once in a lifetime experiences, Guernsey looks back on her farewell to high school as a complete success. “We tried going into it with as little expectation as possible so that [we] could really get the most out of every city we were in,” Guernsey said.

Abby ‘19


The Netherlands



nlike most tourists traveling through Europe, Abby Cummings, who is a senior at Paly, and a group of her friends plan on backpacking through Europe. Cummings, along with Anna Oft, Estelle Martin and Sabrina Martin, have already begun planning their senior trip for the summer of 2019 to ensure it runs smoothly. While traveling through various countries such as Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, Spain, Italy and France, this group of friends has decided to center their travel around the wilderness rather than the destination and highly populated cities. “We haven’t talked that much about it, but our goal is to be in the wilderness rather than the cities, [as well as] more small towns and beaches” Cummings said. After spending a lot of time saving up money, this friend group is counting down the days until they leave for their three-week journey. Whenever possible, the group is planning to stay in youth hostels in the various countries to help them budget a low-cost trip. When hostels are unavailable, they will look for other cheap alternatives, such as small Airbnb’s, and they also plan on taking public transportation as the primary form of travel, in order to ensure that the trip remains budgeted. Ultimately, the group wants to spend most of their time exploring new cultures and the beautiful wilderness that exists in a place, so far from their home. Though the technicalities still need to be worked out, the four girls, who have been friends for over 13 years, are excited to spend their last summer together before they all head off to college. “We’re really excited to adventure together with no concrete plans and see where our journey takes us,” Cummings said.

C magazine reaches out to two alumni with unique senior trips and two current seniors planning to make the most



of their last summer before going off to college.




ften times, the phrase “senior trip,” alludes to associations to exotic trips to Europe or Hawaii. For Paly alum Alice Saparov (‘18), the term introduced the idea of a five-day road trip to Tahoe with ten of her closest friends. In mid-January of their senior year, Saparov and her friends created a shared Google Drive document, consisting of ideas as to where they could stay, activities available in that location and how to make the trip as enjoyable as possible. Saparov believes that one of the most important things when attempting to plan an affordable trip is communication between the people going and booking everything in advance. After about a month of planning, they found an Airbnb fifteen minutes away from the water. Saparov and her friends decided to split the cost of the Airbnb, food and gas between the group of ten, which greatly decreased the price tag for each individual. While they spent most of their time enjoying the lake and the warm weather, Saparov and her friends also took time to hike, paddleboard and explore Tahoe City. In addition to having a good experience with her friends, Saparov considers the trip a highly valuable experience for more profound reasons. “[The trip served as]a big step in becoming independent and traveling alone, which made it even more memorable,” Saparov said.

John ‘19


ing yom


hen people think of road trips, they often think of endless hours in the car, staring longingly out the window and counting the minutes until they reach their destination. Yes, road trips can be boring, but when you fill your car with a bunch of friends, blast the aux and stock up the car with snacks, this sentiment can be quickly transformed. Once he graduates, Paly senior John Tayeri plans on using his car to take advantage of the great outdoors, most specifically Jackson Hole. Although intimidating, Tayeri looks at the 15 hour drive up as an opportunity “to have good bonding time with [his] friends before [he has] to say goodbye.” Nothing is set in stone yet, but Tayeri and his friends plan on spending a week camping in the wilderness, which is significantly more affordable than paying for a hotel. Jackson Hole is the ultimate outdoor playground, with an endless amount of lakes, trails and camping spots, always leaving more to be discovered. The group plans on spending most of their time hiking and exploring Grand Teton National Park. “The beauty of this trip is we can just go with the flow,” Tayeri said. “If we’re feeling a bit tired, a relaxing day by the lake it is! If we’re in an adventurous mood, we’ll hit the trails.” Tayeri chose Jackson Hole because of its unique feel and its potential for discovery. Typically, seniors who look to go on a trip in the outdoors choose locations closer to Palo Alto, such as Yosemite. However, Tayeri believes the lengthy drive through Nevada and Idaho will be worth it, giving his friends and himself an opportunity to have a ceremonial goodbye before they start the newest chapter in their lives — college.

Wyoming CULTURE • 43

Closing the gap

Serving to combat the academic achievement gap, DreamCatchers creates a positive and safe environment that provides students with support, compassion and confidence.


s young children, we are told that we can grow up to do and be anything we want. However, for some this is not an obtainable reality. As we grow older, we learn that success requires a range of different components. Many students have the potential to be successful but are not given the opportunities to do so. DreamCatchers, an after-school program offered to low-income students within Palo Alto Unified School District, aims to provide that opportunity. Students often come out of DreamCatchers drastically changed, simply because it gave them an opportunity to showcase their full academic potential in a way that they never had before. In Palo Alto, students are surrounded by a tremendously competitive academic environment, causing countless students to resort to tutors for extra help in hopes of keeping up with the material and succeeding in their classes. Yet, there are students within PAUSD who do not have equal access to these crucial resources, automatically putting them at a disadvantage. Data released by DreamCatchers shows that fewer than 40 percent of low-income students in PAUSD are currently meeting the standards for their grade levels.This is a significant issue that seems to be a low point,

remaining unacknowledged and a low priority within the Palo Alto community. Due to these students’ lack of equal access to academic resources, many encounter obstacles in their lives that make it more difficult for them to prove their abilities. Often times, a student’s socioeconomic status alters their mindset and perspective on their academic potential, causing them to struggle early on in their academic journey. However, there are highly dedicated people whose goal is to provide opportunities to low-

within a classroom,” said Miguel Fittoria, the Program Director at DreamCatchers, regarding the difficulty teachers have helping each of their students. Through providing academic support as well as encouragement, DreamCatchers works to give personal assistance to students, showing them that they have the same potential as their peers. By way of a considerate process, the administrators at DreamCatchers pair the middle school students with a one-onone tutor in high school or college. The nonprofit works to attend to each student equally, which supports their ultimate goal: to provide students with a safe and encouraging environment. Currently, there are 83 students enrolled in DreamCatchers, who attend tutoring twice a week, and 65 tutors, about 40 of which attend Paly. Besides being an academic resource, DreamCatchers also provides emotional support to their students. Heidi Mickelsen, Education Director at DreamCatchers, states that the organization serves as a multi-faceted resource to students. “We really work on the socioemotional component [of learning] and try to build bonds between the tutors and the students, and make it a place we call the third space,” she said. The contemporary concept of the “third space” defines an environment where everyone within it is there solely to help the students,

“ I think the main thing is that it’s just a constant source of belonging for the students and they can come and feel like they fit in and they have people that they can count on.” - Allison Bedford


income middle school students, helping them discover and continue on their own special pathways to success. One struggle present in schools is that many students feel as though their teachers do not relate to them. “At some point, teachers can’t always be empathetic to everything because there are so many different people

opening the


Opportunity and promote safety, productivity and fun experiences. Most middle school classes have well over 30 students in one room, and oftentimes teachers are not able to provide students with the extra support they may need. At the same time, many of these students do not have the academic resources found in the classroom at home. In order to combat this prevalent issue, DreamCatchers prioritizes creating a place where the primary focus is on the students and their specific needs. “You can get along with all your tutors,” Victor Henriquez, a 7th grader at DreamCatchers, said. “They’re always friendly and they would help you with anything you are struggling with.” Something that sets DreamCatchers apart from other tutoring services is that students and tutors are able to connect on many different levels beyond their schoolwork. High school tutor Prahalad Mitra reflects on an experience in which his assistance extended beyond educational matters. “I remember one time, my kid came to me and told me about a problem that he had with one of his friends at school, and I gave him suggestions about how to handle it,” Mitra said. “The next week he came back and told me that he was able to fix the friendship.” DreamCatchers’ students come into their sessions feeling that they can talk about various aspects of their lives. “I like how you chat with them not just about schoolwork,”

Alexa Saray, a DreamCatchers student, said. Middle school is a transitional period in which many students have not discovered study methods that will enable them to be academically successful. Yet in high school, it is expected that students automatically know what study habits work best for them. This is where the disconnect lies. Many of the students in DreamCatchers struggle with finding the best ways for them to be successful in school. “In reality, what we’re trying to do is get our students to just be ready to take in all the stuff that they learn at school,” Fittoria said.

assistance to their tutors as well. “A lot of times, when a tutor signs up, [they] go because they think that they’re trying to help somebody else,” Fittoria said. Tutors often do not realize the ways in which they are benefiting from the time spent with their student each week. “[Tutors] don’t often think how much it’s actually going to give back to them, and [they] don’t realize that it’s helping [them] out until [they’re] able to reflect on what it’s been like to be a tutor for a student,” Fittoria said. Tutors often find themselves getting the same amount of gratification as their students get when understanding a difficult concept. “I can imagine being in their situation and finally getting something, and it’s a really great feeling for them and me,” Katie Cheng, a tutor at DreamCatchers, said. Getting to be a part of something so powerful teaches valuable skills to tutors along with the students. Reflecting on what it is like to partake in DreamCatchers, Fittoria recognizes that the organization is able to break down the barriers society has set between economic status and success. “You’re able to just kind of cross those two boundaries simultaneously and benefit from everybody’s experience, and that’s a great place to be [...] I say it’s pretty cool,” Fittoria said. As young children, many of us are told that we can grow up to do and be anything we want. DreamCatchers fights to make this dream a reality for all, regardless of income.

“It’s a place that they can come where they feel safe and connected, and kind of a bridge between home and school.” - Miguel Fittoria Although a big part of DreamCatchers is about getting help with homework, the kids are also subconsciously discovering and identifying strategies and study habits that will help them to be successful independently in the future. As suggested by Fittoria, DreamCatchers helps more than just its students, with administrators working to extend support and


PUNCH Every night, millions of Americans tune in to late night television to watch their favorite comedians deliver satirical perspectives on the political world. C Magazine investigates the bigger impact of this style of entertainment on the American public.






he TV screen cuts to the suspenseful courtroom of the Kavanaugh hearing, but something is different. Gone are the faces of U.S. senators, and in their place are familiar comedians, attempting to remain impassive. Suddenly, Matt Damon appears, concurrent with laughter, gasps and applauds from the live audience. Damon is the spitting image of Brett Kavanaugh. Throughout the sketch, the comedians reenact the more animated parts of the real hearing, serving as a highlight reel of the contentiousness that occurs in modern politics. It concludes with Damon chugging an entire beer, looking straight into the camera and enthusiastically shouting “Live from New York, it’s ‘Saturday Night’!” “Saturday Night Live” is an award-winning American television show that features an ensemble of talented comedians and a new celebrity host each episode, all of whom act in comedy sketches, satirical news segments and musical performances. Running for over four decades, the show doesn’t merely reflect upon American culture, it churns at the center of it. However nonsensical “SNL” gets, there is always a depth to its farce, as it represents a profundity showcased throughout the history of American satire. More specifically, it highlights a form of satire that goes beyond the sets and stages of “SNL” and into a widespread genre of modern entertainment. This genre not only comments on publicized social and government endeavors, but also impacts the American public enough to become essential to the country’s political climate. The humorous examination of current events brought forth by “SNL” also is the pinnacle attraction of a larger genre the show belongs to: late night talk shows. This genre includes programs hosted by sharp and witty comedians such as “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” and “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.” “The Daily Show,” originally hosted by Jon Stewart, arguably launched the modern talk show movement itself, making Stewart one of the most influential comedians in American politics. In an interview with Bill Moyers for “PBS,” Stewart commented on the increasing influence that the rising genre — and the comedians that promote it — have on society. “I think, honestly, [comedians] are practicing a new form of desperation, because [the public] is so inundated with


mixed messages from the media and from politicians that we’re just trying to sort it out for ourselves,” he said. Since the world of politics is difficult to comprehend by itself, Stewart and other comedians present important issues in a satirical sense with the intention of making the information more accessible and comprehensible to the public. Led by Stewart, “The Daily Show” allowed for the initiation of this new style of television-based entertainment, one that presented political and social ideas in a comedic manner. The comedic content distributed via late night talk shows is generally based on the evaluation of current events in the media, as well as the political climate. This has led younger generations to see these satirical shows as higher-quality sources of insight into the world of politics, more so than traditional news outlets. Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, a professor of communications at Ohio State University, conducted a study regarding the idea that satirical news can have a serious impact on its viewers. Published by Phys.org, the study concluded that satirical news tends to reinforce political attitudes — both liberal and conservative — to the same extent as other “serious” news networks. “These results suggest that satirical news can engage people who otherwise would avoid political news,” KnoblochWesterwick said. Political satire not only invites diversity into the political audience of this day and age, but it is also a critical function of a democratic society in the notion that it addresses “taboo” news in a comprehensible way. This viewpoint brings an intriguing concept into question: is it possible that Americans thrive off of hearing and viewing their country’s crisis and mayhems as the punch lines of jokes? According to Sophia McClennen, a professor of comparative literature at Penn State, the answer is yes. In an interview with U.S. News, McClennen suggests that satire is an essential component of American culture. “Robust satire is often a sign of crisis and the ability to share and consume it is a sign of a free society,” McClennen says. “We see satire emerge when political discourse is in crisis and when it becomes important to use satirical comedy to put political pressure on misinformation, folly and the abuse of power.” In today’s world of political discourse, comedic political commentary can be viewed as essential to the clockwork of the nation. Through satirical news distributors such as “Saturday Night Live” and Jon Stewart, comedic journalism allows political movements and concepts to become more accessible to a public that is increasingly alienated from politics. Above all, it serves to make sense of the madness exemplified in the world’s current climate and perhaps allows viewers to laugh along in their living rooms. CULTURE • 47