A S P O N TA N E O US PAS S IO N P R OJ E CT P OW E R E D BY EMMA KU MER
FONTS. RUNNING. HORSES. URBAN EXPLORATION. TWITTER. ASTRONOMY. COFFEE. MURDER MYSTERIES. TALKING TO STRANGERS. QUIZZES.
contents clicks 5 9
The technology tips you never knew you wanted.
How to Succeed in Photography Without Really Trying How a DSLR Doofus salvages what should have been better images. The Premiere Pro Hack That Makes A Photo Look Like Drone Footage Bonus: It’s cheaper AND easier than buying a 4,000-dollar aerial camera.
Edible content from a former food intern.
I Worked A 40-hour Internship All Summer And All I Got Out Of It Were These 6 Donuts Your ultimate guide to a very specific selection of Chicago desserts.
What is American Cheese, Anyway? Here’s a hint: It’s not actually cheese!
Does Anybody Remember this Chick? When I was 14, I was obsessed with this random girl on Instagram. Only now do I understand why. The Moonpie Theory of the Internet Is it possible to spawn new personalities from an Internet platform of 260 characters? Unstable Identity The complications of being a horse girl in 2018.
Long-form writing about longdistance running.
The Best Runner from Every State Do you know your hometown’s biggest name in running? Hey, I Didn’t Catch Your Name An ode to fate, figures, and the sanctity of strangers.
You call it a 3 a.m. YouTube spiral; I call it content.
Over-analyzing the world around me and the mind inside me
The Metaphysical Truth of a Class I Never Should Have Taken How an unnecessary science credit brought me to the meaning of life. Yours, Mine, and Service Hours Why, in 2018, collegiate co-op living is more important than ever. The Story of the Silos, As Told Through Explosions Exploring the history of the Damen Grain Elevator.
Photo by Jazmine Reyes
Emma Kumer from the desk of
I’ve never been the kind of girl who’s able to say, proudly, that the last year of my life was the best one so far. Maybe I’m a cynic, or maybe I’m realistic, but it seems rash to weigh one calendrical cycle over another on the account of some wonderful moments, especially if they didn’t quite overshadow the dark ones. 2018 was a great year for me, and still I wouldn’t call it the best. And that, my friends, is why I’m a writer. 2018 was the year I ran the Boston Marathon for the first time. The year I declared a double-major in Creative Writing. The year I celebrated my 20th birthday in a London night club. The year I saw Young the Giant perform on the banks of Lake Michigan. The year Emma Coburn and Roman Mars liked my tweets. The year I interviewed the most famous racehorse jockey in the world, who I’ve been writing about since I was eight. The year I got published in seven publications, including my high school dream of Runner’s World. The year I traveled to Japan and experienced the world beyond the Prime Meridian, if only for eleven days. The year I finished my first novel. But 2018 was also a challenging year. It’s the year I let friendships slide to train for the Boston Marathon. The year I focused so much on being Emma Kumer in print that I might not have focused enough on being Emma Kumer in person. The year I got a stress fracture in my right leg. The year I spent my first summer away from home. The year I finally admitted
that staying up for three days straight wasn’t cute or quirky; I had a problem. I wrote about all of it, from the pride of crossing the finish line to the elation of hearing Cough Syrup live to the desperation of realizing I needed to seek medical help to the existential thought that came alongside everything else. It’s the machine between experience and internalization; writing allows me to emphasize with the other people involved and imagine what things seemed like from their perspective, but it also allows me to retrace my steps and realize the consequences of my actions. Writing allows me to understand myself, or at least, to try. So at this point, reading this self-centered magazine, I know what you’re thinking: Emma Kumer is insane! Well, yes, I certainly am, but doing these wild passion projects is authentically me. While I sometimes pin myself down behind the brand of formerhorse-girl-turned-font-queen-slash-runnerchick, I’m more than my Internet persona. I’m a girl with a dream to publish a book and run a media company, and, fine, also a few more marathons. I can’t decide if I like the visual aspects of magazines more than the written component, and so I do both. In my opinion, there’s truly nothing more “Emma Kumer” than throwing myself headfirst into something I love a little too much. So, welcome. Welcome to a year’s worth of my thoughts and words. Thanks for coming on this ride of 2018 with me.
How much of this thing did I do? To make it easy, just assume everything in this magazine is a creation of Emma Kumer. I wrote every article, designed every spread, and drew every illustration -- that I can guarantee you. As for editing, I had some help from actual magazine editors with the pieces that got published in Taste of Home and Runner’s World, which is part of the reason I love working with them. When it comes to photos, I took everything unless otherwise specified. For example, I don’t own the pictures of Scotland on page 15 nor the album covers in the Clicks section. Turn two pages, though, and you’ll see why. As it turns out, I should probably work on my photography skills.
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How to Succeed in Photography Without Really Trying When the weather doesn’t cooperate, Photoshop the sky. I’m a college student. It’s part of my identity to drink too much Starbucks, complain about paying for laundry, and rack up sky-high utility bills. For this reason, I’ll take money anywhere I can get it - even if that means moonlighting as a photographer when I don’t even own a camera. Before I begin, allow me to clarify that I’ve had countless opportunities to become decent at taking pictures. I was in yearbook for four years in high school. My first boyfriend was a professional photographer. I have friends who have offered to reteach me the ISO triangle. Yet time after time, I result to using the green-squared “automatic” mode on a DSLR because I’m a lazy, shutter-snapping idiot. It would take me ten minutes of Googling and a few dozen test shots to take a half-decent photo - and yet, I won’t do it. I refuse. Instead, I go out “on the field” and acquire thousands of images that are so bad that some people suggest I just switch to my iPhone. I toy with the idea of shooting “in raw,” since I’ve heard that truly expands the horizon for editing in Lightroom - but alas, if I can’t figure out how to change the aperture, there’s no way I know how to start taking CR2s instead of JPEGs. And time and time again, I go back to my trusty laptop, throw those suckers into the Adobe Suite, and edit the heck out of them. And somehow, people think I’m okay at photography. This is how I found myself in Madison, Wisconsin earlier this summer, commissioned to shoot professional images of a city I’d been to three times. I was only in town for one day. It was raining in the morning, and when the rain stopped, the sky was left a featureless white. In some respects, this is ideal: the whole world was my softbox. But I was mad because, in my head, I’d imagined my shots to be full of beaming sun rays and bright blue skies. I had
expected Mother Nature to make the perfect pictures for me. I sure as hell wasn’t going to come up with perfect pictures on my own. I don’t give up, though. Especially when I’m getting paid. So I went out and took my customary overload of photos. I spent four hours walking through the city taking shots. Then, I uploaded them to my computer, cringed at how horrible they were, and spent the next four hours taking more shots. Just not with my camera. (Guys, come on. It’s Madison.) Waking up the next morning, I had to face the truth: someone had commissioned me for those photos and I couldn’t hide them forever. By this point, I was too embarrassed with my lack of skill to send them unedited. I thought that maybe I could salvage them with some brightness, contrast, saturation. Most of them looked alright, but I couldn’t get over the absence of color in the sky. It was annoying me. I started with a simple picture of the Capitol. Backed with a colorless sky, the image could have been black-and-white, save for a bit of grass that peeked up from the bottom edge. I went into my photo library, making sure to select a picture I’d taken of the sky two weeks ago, back when it had been a perfect sunny day. This wasn’t lying, was it? We saw the same sky in Evanston that they saw in Madison, I was sure. I didn’t allow myself to hesitate. I slapped it onto the image. Bam. Beautiful day at the Capitol. In less than five minutes, I had altered the course of history. After going through over forty photos with this process, I had it down to a science. I added the cloudy sky as a new layer. I changed the blending mode to “multiply.” I used the magic wand to select the gross white sky and created a mask on the cloud layer of this same shape, removing tree branches and flagpoles
TUTORIAL If you want to copy my methods, here’s the key. Just don’t claim journalistic integrity. Step One
Drop your unedited, whitesky photo into Adobe Photoshop.
Find a rights-free image of a blue sky on the Internet and drop that on top, making sure it is big enough to fit your photo.
Use the quick-selection, magic wand, or lasso tool to select the white sky you’d like to eliminate. It’s okay if it’s rough... you can edit the exact boundaries later on.
With this still highlighted, click on the blue sky layer and select the option to make a mask.
Change the blending mode of the sky photo from “normal” to “multiply.” This will allow any tree branches or areas with dimension to shine through the sky layer. Turn down the opacity to make it less obvious. I usually opt for around 40-70%, depending on the intensity of the blue.
Use black and white brushes to draw on the mask to clean up the edges and perfect the image. Voila!
with a soft brush. If this doesn’t make any sense to you, that’s okay. All you need to know is that it was unnecessarily complicated and endlessly more timeconsuming than just taking a decent picture to begin with. But the important thing is: I did it. With a mouse in my hand and photoshop on my toolbar, I became a force stronger than even Mother Nature. The images didn’t turn out half-bad.
BEFORE & AFTER Bascom Hill
My friend Emily
I tested them on my mom and friends, asking if anyone could notice the fabricated atmosphere. Nobody could, (told you I’m good) so I sent the images on their way. I did, of course, mention that I had edited them. I’m not a complete fraud. But as I’d expected, the clients preferred the blue-sky images to their dimensionless counterparts. I had succeeded in my mission. They told me I was a very talented photographer. I should have been flattered, but all I felt was relief: Thank God, I thought. They didn’t realize I have no idea what I am doing. If I’ve learned anything from photography, it’s that you don’t have to be a master of something in order to do it. It’s okay to feel like a fraud sometimes. It’s okay to take a million shots. It’s okay to have to change your shutter speed every ten seconds. It’s okay if you can’t quite get it perfect. You’ll never get any better if you don’t nearly drown in impostor syndrome first. For me, it’s terrifying to admit that I’m not awesome at something - especially if everybody already thinks I’m good at it. Saying I suck at photography reveals that I’m not the impenetrable Medill force that I pretend to be, but hey! Nobody is. I have a tendency to decide I’m terrible at something just because there are other people who are better, but the unfortunate truth is that I’m probably NEVER going to be the best at anything. And just because someone could do something better than me doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it. After all, I never know what other photographers are thinking. Maybe, inside, they’re secretly terrified of failure too. Maybe, everybody is photoshopping in sunny skies.
Writing this article only predicted my further realization that Cooper Black has invaded us all
2017 WAS THE YEAR
WHAT IS AN
FONTS MADE HISTORY
Our world revolves around fonts. We just don’t know it. We live our daily lives pretending we don’t care about fonts. Meanwhile, we’ve all spent an hour on the Google Docs dropdown menu trying to pick the perfect serif for our final project. We even toss insults toward Comic Sans, which seems to be such an easy target that even the least designsavvy among us can bully it as the PBR of the design industry. It’s 2018. It’s time to admit that fonts are not just strange names to be listed off like sad Medill verb conjugations. It’s time to admit that we are all typographers. Similarly, it should come as no surprise that fonts can say more than the text they represent. In some cases, they can even change the course of history. Let’s rewind and take a look at all the instances in which fonts changed life as we know it. You’re in for one Helvetica of a ride! #1: Bad typography creates the largest Oscars upset in history At this point, it’s no surprise that La La Land lost Best Picture to Moonlight due to an embarrassing on-stage mix-up in February. Vox published this piece in March discussing how better typography could have saved the entire embarrassing debacle from happening. Instead of listing the specific award at the top, which is the first place people look, the award name is displayed at the bottom. That makes it pretty easy to accidentally substitute the wrong card without even noticing until after you’ve read off the recipient … which might be too late. Hopefully they’ll fix that in the futura. #2: An old font suddenly becomes a fashion statement Ever heard of Cooper Black? It’s not a CLUE character … it’s a bold, rounded typeface Guardian named as The Most Fashionable Font of 2017 in April. It’s been popping up across shirts from TopShop, Brandy Melville and even NU’s very own Alpha Phi Chapter. And to think I told my third grade science fair group that it wasn’t good enough for our tri-fold...
#3: The Prime Minister of Pakistan is outed by Calibri As a general rule of thumb, you should always change the default font. Especially if the default font is Calibri, which was released in 2007, and the document you are printing is meant to look like it’s from 2006. Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, was caught in July for forging a document from the 2016 Panama Papers simply due to aforementioned font suspicions. Geez, get with the Times, dude. #4: Taylor Swift roasts Kanye... with a font! Taylor Swift doesn’t do anything by accident – especially not using a font similar to Kanye West’s Life of Pablo typeface for her reputation album cover. (I don’t know about you, but I screamed about both of them using Olde English Script more than when I heard “I ... don’t ... like your tilted stage.”) Fans will say it’s just another New Era in Taylor Swift graphics. Haters will say she’s mocking Kanye’s brand. Taylor will shake, shake, shake, shake off the haters. #5: SNL turns everyone into font critics with one skit about Papyrus If you think you made it all the way to October without caring about fonts, think again. A wildly successful SNL Skit featuring Ryan Gosling poked fun at the Avatar movie franchise for using a poorly-designed and overused font in their title design. Honestly, you can’t go wrong when you combine Ryan Gosling with comedy and fonts. Unless, of course, you’re Avatar, who no one can think of anymore without remembering they used a font typically reserved for vegan restaurant menus and expired spa coupons. Just like that, SNL did something I’ve been trying to do since high school: It made hating certain fonts cool. Even more importantly, it brought attention to how all of us recognize certain fonts ... whether we consciously admit it or not. So, as I’ve been saying: It’s a font’s world. We’re all just typing in it.
JANUARY 1 | PUBLISHED ON NORTHBYNORTHWESTERN.COM
The meaning behind the names of your favorite fonts... or my favorite fonts. Times New Roman
The New York Times picked “Roman” as its go-to typeface when it started off back in the 60s. As the company evolved, they ended up developing a redesign, which led to the aptlynamed “Time’s New Roman.” (Today, they use Georgia.)
You don’t have to be the sharpest tool in the shed to realize that this typeface was designed to look like it was written on the ancient Egyptian attempt at paper.
It means “Switzerland” in German. Why? Well, they originally named this font something else, but they thought it would sell better in Europe if there was some weird European angle to it. Maybe they were right: sixty years later, and Helvetica is the most popular font in the world.
The curved ends of these letters are reminiscent of a lobster’s sloping claws, but there’s other things at play here. When naming a font, a lot of font designers pick a word that showcases the most characteristic letters. The capital “L” in “Lobster” is definitely not the first letter by mistake. This helps when buying and selling fonts online, since most times you’ll see a font, you’ll see it in its own name.
Here in the font world, we’re always trying to be avant-garde. It’s no surprise that a lot of font names are essentially variations of the words “modern” and “future”... like the popular Futura. If you speak French, you’ll recognize the translation of Avenir right away: future.
Anything that Ends in “Neue”
That’s font language for “new.” (It’s German.) Basically, if you’re using the Neue version of a font, it means there was a previous iteration that probably wasn’t as good. For example, Bebas? Horrible spacing, tragic line height. Bebas Neue? Breathtaking. Mathematically perfect. Could have my first-born child.
e h t d n i h be
s t e e tw Do I genuinely like this song or have I just listened to it so much that the familiarity creates a neurological effect similar to appreciation? There’s this thing called the “mere-exposure effect” that explains that human beings gravitate toward things that are familiar to them. Studies show that it reaches a peak at 10-20 exposures to a certain stimulus. Once you’ve listened to a song a dozen or so times, you start to appreciate it more because your brain knows what to expect when it plays. This effect doesn’t explain a person’s entire preference for music, but only one variable under the vast umbrella of “taste.” I suppose the human brain is too complex for me to tear apart in a tweet; that doesn’t mean I didn’t try.
Anyone who’s ever said journalism isn’t a dangerous career has CLEARLY never received hate mail for writing about BROWN SUGAR Yeah, this really happened. I posted the email I got on Twitter, too, if you really want to look it up. To be quite honest, I’m just flattered that people read the things I write. Even if it’s just the food content.
MY SPOTIFY 2018
UNWRAPPED 8 CLICKS
Top tunes from my most played tracks of the year... if you haven’t seen enough of them
A glimpse inside the mind of @emmakumer in 2018 You heard it here first. 2018 is the year we stop SHAMING people for liking the smell of gasoline. One thing I’ve realized is that the smell of gasoline is like cilantro or Justin Bieber - you either love it or you hate it. As it turns out, humans have 400 genes responsible for the perception of smells (olfactory receptors, for all you STEM kids). This is one of the most diverse sets of genes we have, so any given person could have 30% different genes. Scientists call this your “olfactory fingerprint.” That makes for tons of unique cases of different noses… which would explain why some people can shame me for liking the smell of gasoline.
“When I was a kid I used to see faces in everything from electrical outlets to cars to houses like the whole world was my animated cartoon and honestly I kind of miss being that unconsciously creative.” There’s a name for that. It’s actually called “pareidolia,” and if you’ve ever taken AP Psych or Sociology 101, you’ve probably seen it on a notecard and then promptly forgotten about it. Basically, people with pareidolia see faces in inanimate objects - but it’s not as cute as I made it sound in my tweet. This is actually way more common in neurotic people... but I did not put that in the tweet.
KYD THE BAND You’ll like it if... you listen to COIN This fits the vibe... if you’re driving alone, cleaning your room, taking a shower
Hear me out here. Idea: Sunglasses that allow you to see everything in life through the C1 VSCO filter. The C1 filter is arguably VSCO’s most popular. (Maybe it’s because it’s the first one.) C1 adds a little more cyan, a little less blue, and a whole lot of vibrance. By nature, that’s sort of the opposite of what sunglasses do, since they focus on reducing the amount of harsh bright lights, specifically with warm colors. Most lenses actually reduce the amount of those bright teals associated with C1, so for now, this tweet remains a dream, and an unrealistic one at best. (I will mention that there was an Indiegogo fundraiser to try and create a pair of sunglasses that turned the entire world into an Instagram filter, but everybody knows VSCO’s editing is far superior. Come on, now.)
2 / 14
THE BAND CAMINO You’ll like it if... you’re a fan of Hippocampus This fits the vibe... if you’re making a road trip, walking to class
THE PREMIERE PRO HACK THAT MAKES A STILL PHOTO LOOK LIKE DRONE FOOTAGE Bonus: It’s cheaper AND easier than buying a 4,000-dollar aerial camera. One of the things I like to do when I’m bored is mess around with default actions on Adobe software. There are so many builtin actions that nobody ever uses... and sometimes, they turn out to be pretty helpful. My favorite hidden trick is a tool in Premiere Pro called “lens distortion.” With this tool, you can apply a fish-eye sort of look to your photos or videos. However, it’s even cooler than that if you use it as an animation. By setting the distortion to increase slowly over the course of a video project, you create an optical illusion that looks very similar to watching a drone fly through the landscape image. Lens distortion is intended to correct for the curvature of a camera lens. However, everything that you can use to “fix” something in Premiere can also be used to mess with something else... if you use it the opposite way it’s intended. Read on to figure out how to apply this trick to your own video projects or slideshows! It’s super easy and will only take a few seconds to apply. In my humble opinion, it’s a way classier way to jazz up a still image than the good ol’ Ken Burns.
This trick will work with... landscape images with a huge depth of field, symmetry, and (optional) objects in the foreground. Here are some examples from my VSCO!
Step One Select on “lens distortion” from the effects menu. You can search for it or go under “video effects > distort.”
Step Two Click and drag the effect onto the clip you have chosen. This might be easier if your screen is set to “effects” mode instead of “editing.”
Step Three Make sure the playback line is at the beginning of your clip. In the Effect Controls panel, scroll down to “curvature” and click the stopwatch to set it at 0.
Step Four Make the clip around 2 to 4 seconds long in duration by dragging the endpoint on your timeline. With the playback line at the end of the clip, set “curvature” to -40. If this seems dramatic, you can change it. Any negative value between 10 and 40 works as well.
Step Four Go back to the beginning and watch, then adjust if needed!
Confused? To get a more in-depth explanation, head over to my YouTube channel and check out the video I made on this topic: https://youtu.be/
Heat of the Summer
Birds Don’t Sing
You’ll like it if... you loved Dillo last year
You’ll like it if... you like Rex Orange County
This fits the vibe... for your pool party or wishit-was-still-summer party
This fits the vibe... homework that doesn’t involve reading; chilling
YOUNG THE GIANT
c n u h 11 11
The New Brew I ordered the Starbucks proteinblended cold brew. Here’s what I thought. What is American Cheese, Anyway? Here’s a hint: It’s not actually cheese! I Worked A 40-hour Internship All Summer And All I Got Out Of It Were These 6 Donuts Your ultimate guide to a very specific selection of Chicago desserts.
Originally published in Taste of Home, July 20
What is American Cheese, Anyway? It’s actually not cheese at all.
When heard that Starbucks was introducing the Protein Blended Cold Brew, I was immediately interested. I’m always trying to add more protein to my diet—and what better way than to get more energy from my morning coffee? The new beverages boast over 10 grams of plant-based protein with less calories than a Clif bar. I rushed to the nearest Starbucks to see if they lived up to the hype. How the Drinks Look As soon as I got home, I peeled the lids off of both drinks and took a peek. From the top, they looked almost identical—the darker shade of the almond flavor is barely perceptible, especially with a ring of foam gathering around the edge of both plastic cups as the drinks slowly melted. The cacao one appeared foamier and grittier, with flecks of cacao powder visible in thick waves that barely moved when I dropped the green straw down into the cold brew, watching it gradually sink like quicksand. Flavor #1: Cacao I decided to try the lighter-colored drink first, anxious to see if it had the same chocolate taste as a mocha. The first thing I noticed was the texture as it hit my tongue, which was unlike anything else I’ve ever had from Starbucks. It wasn’t quite thick enough to feel like a milkshake, but it wasn’t as light and airy as a Frappuccino either. Instead, it was like a smoothie—but much grittier. The blend felt like sand on my tongue, but despite the strange mouthfeel, the taste itself wasn’t bad. There was a strong flavor of cold brew, which wasn’t surprising. However,
I Ordered the Starbucks Protein Blended Cold Brew. Here’s What I Thought.
the chocolate flavor wasn’t as rich and dark as I’d anticipated. Instead, it had the artificial sweetness of Cocoa Puffs. I took a couple more sips. I actually sort of liked the way the coffee mixed with the underlying flavor of banana. It didn’t make me want to go on a run like the protein-packed name suggests! This drink was gooey with sweetness—a little too sugary for anyone expecting a pre-workout boost. Flavor #2: Almond Next, I dove into the darker of the two drinks. Since I hadn’t loved the fake-tasting cacao flavor, I had a feeling this one could win me over. I expected the rich and nutty taste of almond butter, but I was again surprised! This Protein Blended Cold Brew delivered the same notes of coffee as the first one I tried, but without the mask of the cacao, the banana flavor was unleashed. In fact, it tasted like a banana smoothie! I was left wondering if the almond milk and almond butter that Starbucks advertised were actually in there… or if this was just the “plain” version of the first drink I’d tried. The Verdict I was personally not a fan of the gritty texture and heavy banana flavor, which seemed out of place in a coffee drink. At over $5 per drink, it was also pretty pricey. However, after drinking only a few sips of both, I could agree that both drinks were filling. If you’re running out the door without grabbing breakfast, this is definitely a blended beverage that will keep you from feeling hungry until lunch. And you love bananas, give it a go.
There are few things more American than a slice of flat, unblemished cheese the color of a glue stick cap. With a flavor profile simple enough to complement any burger and an unbreakable consistency to elicit stringy pulls from your favorite grilled cheese, it’s become a classic that extends far beyond the high-processed American diet. Still, everyone can agree that it isn’t as authentically pure as the French Brie or Italian Gouda, so what exactly is American cheese? Well, as you might have guessed, it’s not actually cheese -- at least, not legally. In fact, the FDA calls it “pasteurized processed American cheese product.” In order for the FDA to determine a food product as a true “cheese”, it has to be more than 50% cheese, or pressed curds of milk. However, American cheese is not a total fraud; there is some true cheese in there. That vibrant orange color might clue you into the most common variety: Cheddar. (Some brands of American cheese also contain Colby, which results in a lighter color.) This base cheese is combined with a mixture of whey, milk proteins, and emulsifying salts, which makes it different than a traditional cheese. These added ingredients allow a slice to melt without breaking or turning greasy, providing that perfect cheese pull! Regardless of its authenticity, this American fridge staple has been popular since its inception. During World War I and II, Kraft was the first brand to sell individually-sliced cheese slices for the American public. By 1930, over 40% of US cheese consumption could be attributed to Kraft, and it still runs the US cheese market today. In fact, Kraft makes 7.2 billion slices of American cheese per year! That’s as many slices of cheese as there are people on the planet!
*This article is meant in no way to shame my summer internship, but instead, glorify the importance of donuts in relation to all other facets of life.
I Worked A 40-hour Internship All Summer And All I Got Out Of It Were These Donuts Working on the bank of the Chicago River came with the unexpected perk of Intern Donut Days, a Wednesday tradition that consisted of rounding up all the young employees and sending them on an Odyssey to the city’s best donuts: the old-fashioned and yeasty, the cinnamon-twisted and glazed. Here’s my hot takes on these hot cakes, from the devilishly delicious to the downright despicable.
Cinnamon Sugar FIRECAKES Far into the summer, I was getting sick of donuts, so I picked one that I thought would taste like a churro. It wasn’t my best decision, since the donut itself was dry and gritty as a result of the sugar dust coating. Even though we went in the morning, it tasted like it had been sitting out all day - alas, that must be the nature of working with cinnamon sugar.
Old Fashioned Glazed
I didn’t think I could beat last week’s donut, but this one came pretty darn close. It had the same complex mouthfeel with the added element of chocolate cake base and dusting of chopped nuts. These flavors did not overwhelm the balanced simplicity of the creation: in fact, it was just as good as Week One’s plain Jane version. As a person who typically dislikes chocolate-based desserts, this donut made me question my entire identity.
FIRECAKES This was the first donut I ever tried, so maybe I was just tasting the sweet freedom of getting a paid office break, but it was GOOD. Simple flavor, but dreamlike texture: sugary, cakey interior encased in a delicate glaze hardened to a crisp that broke across my teeth with a crystalline melt. I didn’t want to give a perfect score to a confection so plain, but I’ve watched enough Dancing With the Stars to know you can’t deny 10s where they are deserved.
Chocolate Hazelnut DONUT VAULT
You might be DONUT VAULT wondering what whiskey is doing in a donut. Well, not much. This tasted like the last donut vault confection I’d ordered which is to say that it was wonderful. Was it that different from the version without whiskey? No. But it was still fantastic. I’m not complaining. If it ain’t broke, donut fix it. (Two points docked for getting my hopes up, though. A little part of me did want to get drunk off the mere idea of liquor in a donut.)
The glazed confection had the featureless interior texture of a Twinkie and soggy glaze akin to a Toaster Strudel packet. I ate the whole thing though. Being a journalist, you really have to be willing to sacrifice anything for your career. (Unpictured. Too ugly.)
Red Velvet Coconut DO-RITE DONUTS
Just like my new apartment, there was a lot to unpack here. First there was the “red” - a shockingly vibrant tone that would scare even Taylor Swift. Then there was the “red velvet” - an elusive flavor that I could not detect, a mere shadow as overlooked as the “radio” in Northwestern’s RTVF department. Then there was the “coconut” - a dominating, delicious punch that tasted like summer with a hole in the middle. All in all, it was an enjoyable treat, but the color was terrifying and the crumble coating is probably still under my desk if you look hard enough (read: MESSY donut).
I was immediately drawn to this puppy because it looked like the girl scout samoa on steroids (A Caramel Delite, for all you Wisconsinites). There was a warm, crumbly outer coating that gave way to a saccharine pillow of fluffy dough, all sealed with a rich chocolate drizzle. I’ve never been able to describe the taste of toffee - it’s not quite caramel, but it’s not quite brown sugar - but I don’t need to. This donut was so good that I am perfectly okay not understanding its complexities. In the words of Tennessee Williams, you cannot possibly describe someone you’re in love with.
The 8 Best Books I Read Under my Desk This Summer Novels to browse while youâ€™re supposed to be answering emails.
The Moonpie Theory of the Internet Is it possible to spawn new personalities from 260 characters?
Does Anybody Else Remember this Chick? When I was 14, I was obsessed with this random girl on Instagram. Only now do I understand why.
Out of This World View The real reason we dress up like aliens for Halloween.
The Accidental Mural Man A profile of the British street artist James Chuter.
Unstable Identity The complications of being a horse girl in 2018.
THE 8 BEST BOOKS I READ UNDER MY DESK THIS SUMMER M EM O IR
How to Murder Your Life CAT MARNELL
I’d never heard of Cat Marnell before reading this book, but now I’ll never forget her. Imagine someone with my level of ambition, drive, and creativity (I’m not flattering myself here… we’re almost the same person. We both had our own magazines as children!). Then, add a huge dash of biting wit, snarky personality, and clever writing ability. Now, put that person on a ton of drugs. I’m talking TONS. Now, watch them dominate the Conde Nast magazine industry all while battling addiction and ambition. This memoir was a pill-popping, sweet-talking, lip-locking ride through an industry I’ve always wanted to crack into, told with Cat’s candid clarity and casual condescension. Much like Marnell on meth, I just kept coming back even when I knew it was time to put the book down. After all, not all of us can relate to being on heavy drugs, but we can all relate to feeling incompetent, unmotivated, or lost in this crazy world.
ER Y MU RD ER MY ST
NOVELS TO BROWSE WHILE YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE ANSWERING EMAILS ON OUTLOOK CO MI NG -O F-AG
Reading this book was like going with a random roommate freshman year, since I had never heard of it before I invested a ton of time and thought into it and will probably never hear of it again. Awesome book though. One of the few mystery novels I’ve read where I didn’t predict the ending (I’m that annoying kid that always calls the end of the Rom Com in the first scene, since I just love to suck the fun out of any situation). The Mom in this was also an unbelievably real character… it honestly inspired me to work harder to build my own characters in my writing.
A suggestion from one of my mother’s two book clubs (I aspire to be so involved some day), this is a book I haven’t stopped thinking about since I put it down. It depicts the relationship between new-girlin-the-rural-neighborhood Cat and pill-popping Marlena, a friendship that drags you into its paradoxically monotonous adventure. It’s got everything: sex, drugs, and rural Michigan! This one’s worth a read if you’ve ever moved to a new town, gotten mixed up in the wrong crowd, or believe that everyone is merely a product of their five closest friends.
GENERATOR What are you looking for? NOVEL
Do you get bored easily?
Feminist book club pick? SHORT STORIES
SURE! NO THANKS WIRED
Are you a STEM major?
Her Body and Other Parties CARMEN MARIA MACHADO The Martian ANDY WEIR
Swing Time ZADIE SMITH
DOES ANYONE ELSE REMEMBER IN 2012, SHE WAS EVERYTHING. NOW, SHE'S JUST ONE OF US. If you scroll far enough back on anybody’s Instagram, you’ll find them. Hidden behind harsh black vignettes, faux-polaroid photostrip frames, and oversaturated Photo Booth selfies: The Tween Years, where insecurity and immaturity abound. I conveniently turned thirteen around the same time the world thrust itself into the over-filtered, square-cropped constraints of Instagram. It was a different app back then. In 2011, my middle school friends and I had Instagram only to be friends with each other, sharing pictures of our hair flipping in the pool, our dogs lying on the couch, and our eyeballs thrust close to the lens. The “popular” page -- or Pop Page, as we called it -- lacked its current personalization to catch your attention and suck you into hours of mindless scrolling. Back then, there was no algorithm behind the posts that appeared; Instagram just happened to conjure up whatever was trending. It was a time before the Explore feature, a time before Instagram models and food porn and Doing It For the Grid. A place bereft of sponsorships or ambassador codes; no money in the game, just the thrill of attention: the universal currency of the Internet. I was in seventh grade, I had braces, I straightened my hair every morning -- the aftereffects of which would carry on into my twenties -- and I wanted nothing more than to be Scotland B. Geurink. That’s how I said her name, every time: @scotlandbgeurink. One word, no pauses, just fluid and fast the way you read someone’s social media handle without stopping to think that there might be a real name hidden
somewhere within the jumble of letters. At some point, I assume I realized her first name must have been “Scotland,” to which I attributed a shade of cool-girl aesthetic drawn from names that also moonlighted as places, like India from Gone with the Wind or Paris Hilton.
A STAR IS BORN I had no idea how old Scotland was, but her prepubescent body was a hint that we were probably close in age.
Every picture featured her straight, long hair with a satin shine and stripes of blonde highlights. Her eyes were round and dewy, each with a cute crown of thick, short lashes. She had the kind of upturned nose people get plastic surgery for, but her most striking feature was her mouth. It was a delicate, narrow set of teeth with plush kiddish lips framing a full set of top-and-bottom braces. To most kids, braces are a necessary evil on your path to a strong, straight smile.
K? WHEN I WAS 14, I WAS OBSESSED WITH THIS RANDOM GIRL ON THE INTERNET. ONLY NOW DO I UNDERSTAND WHY.
I’d always considered them to be like acne, a feature that came and went with puberty, unattractive but passable because we were thirteen and it was a given that we were all going to be a little bit ugly. Scotland disproved all of that, for me. On her, braces didn’t look bad. In fact, they looked adorable. I wasn’t the only one that thought so. Scotland had 10,000 followers -- enough to garner a “k” in her follower count, like a knockout in baseball. The average photo got around 2,000 likes, which seemed immense and impossible in an age when barely anyone had an Instagram to begin with. The first time I saw one of her posts, I was mesmerized by the number next to the “like” button more than the metal-mouth smile I’d come to recognize. I clicked on her account, intrigued, and scrolled until I was years into the past, caught in a trance by the adoration of her fans in the comments. It was endless lines of heart-eye emojis, cupid’s bows, and clapping hands: a hieroglyphic waterfall of praise. Scotland was a mystery, or at least, I made her out to be. There was something
about her, something unexplainable, that always seemed foreign to me. Maybe it was her simplistic captions indicative of only basic English, maybe her pale skin, maybe the vast bank of experiences and knowledge that seemed to stretch between us, as if I lived in the real world and she lived somewhere where pre-teens looked like models and braces could be pretty. In reality, I just lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She lived in Atlanta, Georgia. I now realize that we probably lived parallel suburban lives, the foreign-seeming distance fabricated by a social media platform that was intended to bring people together. With a feed of all selfies, I had no way of knowing if Scotland even had a personal life or friends -- but in my mind, she was insanely popular, flocked by all times in public by girls who were nearly as pretty, but couldn’t touch her. The only hint I had were a few family snapshots with her vine-famous brother -- Hunter Geurink, who was also well-followed on Instagram -though not as much as her. Looking back on it now, part of me wonders if she had any friends, or if maybe she used the entire Internet’s praise as a substitute.
OUR IDOLIZATION GENERATION We call celebrities “stars” because historically, humans have associated the universe’s celestial bodies with the people that rule our lives. Since ancient times, we’ve imagined our Gods into the night sky; it was only a natural step to start putting Kim Kardashian up there, too. It’s a fitting metaphor, too, because celebrities have a lot innately in common with their stellar counterparts. Everybody knows them, sees them, and draws lines between them -- even if such lines do not exist. We create constellations of couples, webs of messy breakups and affairs, in some small yet universal aim to understand the forces cast into a universe beyond our own. There are only two realms we typically refer to as “the void”: the unending and terrifying vastness of outer space we’ll never know, and the unknown expanse of an Internet we created ourselves. Stumbling upon Scotland marks my first experience finding someone who’d risen to fame through Instagram. I remember wondering what she was famous for. It didn’t occur to me until months later that she could simply be popular just for being pretty, but the longer I looked, the more I started to realize how it could happen.
Like most things on social media, however, @scotlandbgeurink’s popularity was short-lived. I was there for the spike, for the influx of likes and masses of comments explaining how people would kill to be like her, die to hang out with her, do anything just to have her message back. But then they started to dwindle. I remember the exact post that marked the end. Scotland was standing outside sporting that trademark grin -but this time, it was different. The caption: Time for something new! At first, I couldn’t place it. Then, I read the comments: “Yeah, she looked better with braces.” The kiss of death. From that moment onward, I didn’t visit @scotlandbgeurink as much. I couldn’t describe why I’d lost interest, but the smiling selfies just didn’t seem as cute as they once did. Maybe she grew up, but now that I think about it, maybe I did too.
THE NANOSECOND OF FAME The rise and fall of @scotlandbgeurink is not uncommon on the Internet -- in fact, many child stars have faced a similar fate. Think about all of the social media stars that were born, appeared on Ellen, and died all within a few weeks: Alex from Target, Walmart Yodeling Boy, Peanut Butter Baby. And even faster than they appear, they seem to be gone, replaced by the next week’s newest faces, voices, and memes. An ideal case study for the fleeting nature of “an Internet minute” is Rebecca Black, the once-teenager whose song “Friday” was once notorious for its dreadfully catchy riffs. As it turns out, Internet fame looks like a straight line with one vertical strike. Like the V2 at Six Flags, you shoot up really fast, but once you’re there, all you do is turn around and come straight down. Faster. This is a new type of star, one that we don’t often categorize -- the brief celebrities, champions of a moment, short-term-memory faces of viral video fame -- destined to stay in the public eye and ear for only a heartbeat. If you’re mapping popularity based on mentions and searches, you’ll find similar charts for other trending individuals, the width of the peak correlating with the height of fame. Yet for the glamour children of Instagram, fame looks a bit different. Instagram doesn’t have the tools to track followers or fame over time. When I googled Scotland Geurink and young girls
of similar tier -- Lilli Hymowitz, Gabi Butler -- I found spiked data as well. Predictably, however, not many people searched these names on Google. The few that did often included a “Instagram” as a third search term, using Google as a mere jumping point to the online version of the app. All three of these case study ladies still have Instagram accounts. They are not dead, not in the physical or social sense, but for all purposes of the web, they are nothing more than the rest of us, reduced to the fameless normality with which we were all born. I wonder what it feels like to be a has-been -- a one-hit wonder in a world where you’re lucky to taste the tease of fame at all.
LIFE AFTER DEATH For three years, I did not think of Scotland once. And then one day, I did. I searched for her profile on a whim one night. She still existed, but she wasn’t verified, an immediate indicator that if @scotlandbgeurink ever was famous, she wasn’t anymore. The app retrieved an account with roughly 10,000 followers, a number I would have expected to skyrocket with the amount of people who’d joined Instagram since I’d left Scotland behind. The girl who smiled in the pictures was unfamiliar to me. I clicked on a few images, searching for something recognizable in the dramatic arches of her new eyebrows or deep creases of her heavy makeup. She’d deleted any image posted before 2014, which didn’t allow me to find any of the pictures that had been shining beacons to my childhood insecurities. After enough images, I found one where she sported an old accessory of hers: a single pearl on a string, enough to convince me that I truly had found the right girl. She looked so different than I’d imagined, and much less like someone I’d idolize. If Scotland was ever a pre-teen Instagram star, you wouldn’t know it now. I started to wonder… had the famous, beautiful @scotlandbgeurink in my head ever existed at all, or had I imagined her? Furious to recover those alluring adolescent selfies, I googled her handle in hopes that some tweenager more obsessive than myself had re-posted her images to some Dream Fourteen tumblr page. While browsing through Internet archives, I came across Scotland’s profile on a website that claimed to keep updated records on celebrities -- an ode that she
was, once, a famous face for more than just myself -- when I found her birthday. November 21, 2000. She was only seventeen. Returning to her current profile, the three-year gap between us was obvious. Prom pictures, high-school spirit days, snapshots at Dairy Queen: The kind of stuff you don’t post once you get to college, because you’re old and mature and your metabolism can’t handle fries and a shake. As a child, I’d always imagined @scotlandbgeurink as sort of an older sister of sorts. It seemed very strange and off-putting to realize that, this whole time, she’d been younger than me -- which made me feel as if Scotland hadn’t grown at all, still frozen in high school, replacing her clear face and light makeup for darker looks, still hopelessly trying to compete with the trends. Perhaps Scotland herself was never the epitome of middle school beauty -maybe she was just another one of us, a lost insecure child of the Internet, fenced in on all sides by societal trends, just trying to match the brace-faced beams of other famous faces. In space and on earth, there are two types of stars. Some are so large that they become super red giants, collapsing into black holes so heavy that even light cannot escape after their death. These are the Taylro Swifts, the Kylie Jenners. The stars so huge that we talk about them when they leave social media as if they took a little piece of us with them when they left. And then there are average stars -your everyday fame -- to which Scotland B. Geurink once thrived. When you are just a little star, you do not become a black hole. No one misses you when you disappear. You burn bright, you peak fast, and the end for you is less dramatic. You are reduced to what is known, in astronomy, as a white dwarf. This is a strange fate in which a celestial body is still a star, but not bright enough to draw any attention. This is where Scotland exists currently. This is where Scotland will die. She still has a few followers left over from her middle school fame, people too lazy to unfollow or accounts gone dormant. Still enough likes and comments to put her above myself, but nothing special, for the universe of the Internet is full of these white dwarves. It is a fate worse than death, perhaps, for it is the fate of normality. No trace of brilliance, nothing but pixelated dust in the massive, deafening void of Internet space.
OPINION FEBRUARY 10
MOONPIE THEORY OF THE INTERNET If you’re lucky enough to be on Twitter, you probably follow a few of the same accounts. Political figures, celebrities, professional athletes, dog ratings, meme accounts, and a couple chain restaurants. It’s 2018 and Wendy’s is as much a part of our Internet discourse as a cute puppy or semifamous actor. It wasn’t always like this.
FROM FRYING PAN TO DEADPAN When Twitter started, chain restaurants and food businesses launched their own accounts to Tweet out deals and company news -- but the rules were quickly rewritten. If the goal was getting the most interaction online, therefore bringing the most attention to the brand, then the focus would have to pivot toward “going viral” instead of just screaming announcements into a vacuum. Wendy’s got a brief taste of this infectious fame when Twitter user Carter Wilkinson direct-messaged the brand to ask how many retweets would be required for a lifetime supply of nuggets. (The answer was 18 million, which he didn’t come close to despite obtaining said nuggets.) In what would later become the most-retweeted message of the time, Wilkinson rose to brief fame -- taking Wendy’s with him. In that glorious, lightly-breaded moment, Wendy’s lost their association with old-fashioned square-patty
burger flipping and became a fast food brand with a newly-garnered appeal of personality. When most restaurant brands decide on a “character” that the play in the market, most aim for welcoming, familiar vibes -- the polar opposite of the sarcastic, quick-witted clapback queen that has emerged as Wendy’s persona. While this sass was thrust upon Wendy’s after millions of retweets, it didn’t have to become the norm. But it did. Companies hired social media consultants and paid Twitter joke gurus to sit in an office and crank out posts, serving their fries with a side of dry humor. Suddenly, everyone wanted to be funny online, even if biting wit had never before been a part of the fast food marketing. Undeniably, the champions of this deadpan humor arms race are MoonPie and Wendy’s, neither of which have dominating shares of the actual businesses in which they operate. When it comes to sales compared to other brands in their market, Wendy’s just barely makes the top 5; MoonPie doesn’t make the top 500. Yet somehow, they’ve become incredibly relevant on a social media platform intended to connect people through 260-character messages and hashtags. Welcome to the Wild World of Twitter, where a marshmallow sandwich and legacy burger joint can sit at the cool table.
THE WIZARD OF OZ THEORY By this point, a lot has been written about the two dudes behind the crudelyillustrated avatar of MoonPie. In the past year, they’ve risen from 20 followers to 260k. Their account is a mix of casually dry replies and strange Tweets that make you laugh for unknown reasons. (“It’s Saturday night. Time to throw a MoonPie in the microwave and yell the national anthem.”) Even before anyone knew who ran the account, though, the people of the Internet seemed aware that MoonPie was not really the personification of a brand but instead, a person. There were tweets asking for dates, praising “whoever runs this hilarious account”, or most commonly, urges to “give this person a raise.” In a world where we are often thought of as mindless consumers of data, we seemed oddly self-aware that MoonPie was just another human piece of our inhuman simulation. At the same time, we imagine MoonPie as one person, even if it’s actually a staff of content generators. It’s almost as if a well-crafted brand actually spawns a new being into existence, a persona that vastly overestimates their true form. It’s like the hype surrounding the Wizard of Oz, but instead of the Emerald City, we’re all glued to that little blue bird, waiting for it to give us a sense of humor. EMPOWER
Out of this World’s View When it comes to aliens, Hollywood and Halloween aren’t quite on the same page. This is actually where the concept of the teenage extraterrestrial comes from. IMAGES TAKEN FROM YOUTUBE AND PINTEREST UNDER CREATIVE COMMONS MARCH 26 2018
f you search “alien makeup tutorial” on YouTube, you’ll see 415,000 results with Kenya Sanchez’s video at the top. In just over eight minutes, she demonstrates how she uses vibrant pops of neon shadow, decorates her eyebrows with a trio of plastic gems, and lines her eyes with glitter. The color palette draws from hues associated with the night sky, a trend that’s been popular ever since Nike released galaxyprint Air Foamposite One sneakers back in 2011, sparking the fabric that would launch a thousand rocket ships. Sanchez was impressed with the video’s popularity, especially since her previous videos, like “smokey eye” and “glam cat,” drew less than 100 views. This pales in comparison to the alien tutorial, which has racked up 12,000 views since it was published in October of 2017. From the masses wearing the costume on Instagram – the hashtags #aliencostume, #alienmakup, and #aliengirl together accounting to 79,762 posts – this appears to be the case. It’s a look most popular among high school or college-aged women, though official numbers can be misleading. Statistics by the National Retail Federation don’t list extraterrestrial creatures in their Top Ten List, but that’s because their data comes from annual costume sales. When it comes to the alien craze, you’re typically not buying anything. You can make the whole ensemble for free with a face of makeup. “I brought my own twist to the look by adding some gems my sister had leftover from a music festival,” Sanchez says. “The most generic stuff is space buns, purples, greens, all those really bright colors.” When asked why these things were specific to aliens, Sanchez wasn’t sure. Looking at popular media, society’s perception of life on other planets doesn’t quite line up with the type of extraterrestrial you’ll find on YouTube, at your Halloween party or on your Instagram. When people dress up like aliens, they typically wear metallic fabrics, neon colors, galaxy print accessories, and glittery makeup. But when these creatures are portrayed in the media, it’s often nothing like this.
Instead, people imagine the wrinkly bicyclist in the 1982 classic film E.T., the green-skinned martian popularized in the 1950s, the balloon-headed gray creature on your emoji keyboard. If society envisions extraterrestrial creatures as unattractive, strange, and often scary, then why is our Halloween costume the exact opposite? According to experts, the alien costume is more of a trendy ensemble than a ghoulish guise. Right now, young women are gravitating toward the alien look because it’s really a combination of two popular styles: ‘90s and futurism.
You can create yourself to be whoever you want and there’s no rules about it. No boundaries.” “We definitely see the nineties as a trend right now. It’s on the runway, it’s on TV, and it’s infiltrated into the brands that we work with and the fashion that we look at every day,” says Souad Acha, creative director of Stateless Fashion Design and Consulting. “People are wearing crop tops, old school Reeboks, and fishnets underneath their jeans.” It’s only natural that the alien accessories would return to Earth. After all, the ‘90s stand out as a decade of outerspace obsession. The U.S. government spent a reported $22 million on UFO research. The “Alien” movie franchise released three movies between 1979 and 1997, grossing $708 million in box office sales ($1.6 billion, adjusted for today’s inflation). UFOs became a part of the jewelry scene, as integral to culture as mood rings or slap bracelets. Futurism is the antithesis of this past-focused style. “Fashion trends come and go, but the thing about the future is that it’s always ahead of the
trends,” Acha says. “The futurism mindset is at the forefront now, especially for millennials and the younger generation, because they’re so hyper aware of advances in technology.” Extraterrestrial fashion is often associated with metallic fabrics that mimic NASA spacesuits, which can be seen on the catwalk. Just last year, New York Fashion Week’s theme was “Life on Mars: Fall-Winter 2035” and featured Buzz Aldrin strutting down the catwalk in a silver Nick Graham bomber jacket. Wearing a holographic skater skirt with your costume might be questionable, as you’d be dressing like the astronaut instead of the alien, but we can’t even know this for certain. “When we imagine life on other planets, we always imagine it sort of like us,” says Shane Larson, Northwestern University professor of physics and astronomy. “We have nothing else on which to base our estimations.” As a result, Larson said that Hollywood often takes a human image and makes minor tweaks to turn a character into something from outer space. We make similar adjustments on Halloween. Think about the popular “space buns” that often pair with the costume. They’re meant to replicate antennae, an extraterrestrial feature added to upright-walking creatures to make them appear less human in movies. When you add these elements together, the alien aesthetic is much more complicated than it initially appears. Based on the ideal of teenage dress-up, the marriage of two conflicting fashion trends and a long history of science-fiction imagery, the ensemble honors the past while still looking toward the future… as well as being galactically simple to pull off. “You can create yourself to be whoever you want and there’s no rules about it. No boundaries,” Acha says. “There’s not a certain way that you should look because we don’t we don’t know what aliens really look like.” Whether you’re doing dotted gems over each eyebrow like Sanchez or drawing on wrinkles like E.T., you have the flexibility to take your costume out of this world. EMPOWER
MURAL MAN HOW MODEL-TURNED-ARTIST JAMES CHUTER REGAINED HIS PASSION FOR PAINTING BY MAKING THE CITY HIS CANVAS
PICTURE COURTESY OF @JAMESCHUTER ON INSTAGRAM
OLD STREET, LONDON
This mural, completed over the course of two days, is one of Chuter’s favorites, although his favorite is always whichever one he did last. It will be on Old Street in Shoreditch until someone else gets permission to paint over it, though Chuter mentions that he won’t mind. “I really like the impermanence of it,” he said. “They’re only there for a few months, sometimes a few weeks. There’s something about that that’s quite nice.”
t the corner of Old Street and Great Eastern in London’s Shoreditch borough, James Chuter stands against a blazing backdrop of oozing volcanoes and cartoon creatures. He’s 32 with coffee-colored eyes and a chiseled face that can be seen in the Debenhams department store advertisements that line the walls of Tube stations. But he doesn’t just want to be on the walls. He wants to paint them. Last February he finished spraying this 10-by-24-foot wall in blue, red, black and gold. His trademark orb characters rise from bubbles in a multicolor mountain range, mouths spouting gold foam while broad swaths of orange radiate behind them like sunshine. Chuter mentions that he gets a slight Oriental vibe from the color scheme, but he didn’t have that mind when he chose his spray cans and paint pens. “I just wanted to do something different.” Right now, that seems to be a common thread in Chuter’s life. Lee Bofkin, the co-CEO of Global Street Art, describes the artist as “visually distinct” due to his unique combination of paint and markers. “You know one of his murals when you see it,” Bofkin said. For being so well-known in the street art scene, it’s hard to imagine that Chuter has only been creating murals for two years – and even harder to realize he got into painting on a whim. Chuter started drawing as a child, copying the doodles his father made to pass time on long phone calls. With Keith Haring as his first idol, he created a Haring-esque rabbit character that still makes appearances in his artwork today. But with art as a mere hobby, Chuter often didn’t finish a piece. “In my head, I was a perfectionist,” he said. “I felt like if I made a mistake, I’d just stop.” He ended up with a lot of half-finished, complicated drawings, all in black and white. By age 16, he quit drawing. It wasn’t until a trip to Sydney Australia in November of 2015 that Chuter came upon a an idea while running down the painted strip of Bondi Beach: What if he forced himself to finish something? What if he did a mural in public? He contacted the local council to get approval to paint the wall,
but his assigned spot felt less than perfect. He would have to replace a piece so iconic that it decorated Sydney postcards and T-shirts. “I was terrified that I was going to paint over something really popular [and] make a mess,” he said. For his debut mural, Chuter planned a dramatic black-and-white landscape of blooms, bees, blobs and bunnies to fill the 30-by-15-foot wall. He painted anxiously for the first five hours, but the praise he received for the eventual mural proved the risk worthy. Slowly, people began taking pictures with his artwork. He started seeing it all over Instagram. For a year and a half, no one painted over it. Accidentally, Chuter had created one of the most iconic pieces of street art in Australia. From that mural onward, Chuter’s art career progressed happened fairly quickly. Global Street Art’s Bofkin, who helped him find and receive commissions for more murals. Today, Bofkin calls the artist “Choots” for short, the nickname Chuter uses as a signature along the bottom of each piece. “He puts in a lot of effort and detail,” Bofkin said. “When someone works hard you know they can develop, and often fast.” In 2017, with help from Bofkin and outside commissions, Chuter estimates that he painted over 20 walls across three continents. (London, New York, and Sydney being the most well-known.) While he didn’t disclose the specific amount, his future goal is to transition to street art as a full-time job. “One of the reasons I gave up on drawing [as a child] was because there’s this whole stigma that you’re never going to make any money,” Chuter said. “But the top street artists right now are just constantly touring the world getting paid. There’s amazing money in it.” Each mural composes different colors and patterns, but with one unifying element: Chuter’s trademark characters, the blobs and the rabbits. This year he wants to continue painting the town red... And blue. And black. And gold. “I’m really conscious not to try and repeat myself,” he said. “There’s a lot of artists that are amazing, but every piece they do feels exactly the same to me. I’m always experimenting with color, new ways to do what I do.” PROFILE | APRIL 17
COLLAGE BY ME! SOME ARE BORN HORSE GIRLS, SOME ACHIEVE HORSE GIRLISHNESS, AND SOME HAVE HORSE GIRL THRUST UPON THEM.
UNSTABLE IDENTITY THE COMPLICATIONS OF BEING A HORSE GIRL IN 2018 RACHAEL PACKARD WAS THE FIRST ONE WHO TOLD ME. “Oh my God,” She said over lunch in our freshman year dining hall. “You’re a HORSE GIRL.” At the time, I’d never really heard the phrase said with such vigor. “Yeah,” I remember saying. “I guess.” After all, it wasn’t always a bad thing. When I was a kid, there was nothing I wanted to be more than a horse girl. I had a countless horse books, one of which opened with a quiz I’d taken so many times that to this day I still remember the obscure wording of the questions. Are you horse crazy? It was titled. It asked whether the smell of the barn “made your knees weak” or if you’d rather clean a stall than clean your bedroom. I wanted to be “delirious with horse fever,” which was the most extreme result. I was peeved to always be “sort of horsey!”, a middle-of-thespectrum fate derived from the fact that I’d never gone “window-shopping” for horses online, which I guess the quiz deemed the true test of horse craziness. Fast forward ten years and being a horse girl is less of something I chose and more something that fell upon me. It was a set of characteristics. A way of life. An entire identity. I don’t need to explain it to you everybody already knows what I’m talking about. She prefers horses to people and will tell you that, often. She has mousy hair that she wears in a long braid like a real pony’s tail. She gallops on the track in gym class, PERSONAL ESSAY | MAY 29
wears t-shirts that sport screen-printed ponies, and wears Miss Me jeans even though everybody else put those away back in 2014. In the words of Una Dabiero of Babe. com, “knowing a horse girl is basically as allAmericana as buying Heinz Ketchup at WalMart.” Despite having famous hotties among our ranks (Kendall Jenner and both Hadid sisters are big-time horse girlies, which boosts the street cred that Jennifer Lawrence diminished), being a horse girl is universally weird. There’s even an article on Barstool called “The Real Reasons Men Hate Horse Girls” that’s essentially an unorganized collection of quotes about guys who are bitter about being second-choice to a Shetland. Now, if you look hard enough, you can probably find an online forum where people complain about anything, but it does beg the question. How did “horse girl” become such a universally-acknowledged annoyance? To answer this, we’ve got to define it. Let’s start with the feminine aspect. Because it’s always horse girl - never horse boy. Despite a disproportionate amount of men at the competitive level, most horse-owners and riders at your local stable will be girls, 19 times out of 20. The most common explanation for this imbalance comes from Freud, who believes that riding horses replaces the phallic power that the female anatomy lacks. In his opinion, it’s part of the human condition to
desire something massive and somewhat uncontrollable between your legs. Despite this theory being a laughable at best and misogynistic at worst, Freud’s own daughter agreed with it! Maybe it’s because of Freud’s ridiculousness, or perhaps it’s because of the strength required to commandeer a thousand-pound animal, but horse girls have always been associated with a certain masculine power. (Maybe this is the reason Barstool men hate dating horse girls.) Paradoxically enough, there is something inextricably juvenile about the identity as well. The quintessential horse girl plays with My Little Ponies and wears glittery horseshoe earrings and whips out Lisa Frank stationary in the middle of class. She exists in a perpetual adolescence, a high school apparition of a much younger girl. She is underestimated and mocked. Even so, I am grateful for the horse girl stereotype because it forces me not to take myself too seriously. After all, you can stop taking quizzes to tell you if you’re Horse Crazy, but you can’t erase the answers you circled in back in 2008. That’s eternal. So, fine. I’m a horse girl. I listen to the Spirit soundtrack on Spotify. I imagine the sound of hooves when I jump over obstacles on the sidewalk. And at the end of the day, I miss the feeling of being on top of the world, feeling the wind glide past my arms, and reveling in the power that comes with trusting something that isn’t human.
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5 Things Runners Can Learn from Racehorses Racing advice from Justify the thoroughbred. Hey, I Didnâ€™t Catch Your Name An ode to fate, figures, and the sanctity of strangers. The Most Famous Runner from Every State Do you know the biggest name from yours? The Rundown A beginnerâ€™s guide to the Boston Marathon.
Reported Service Story, May 18 2018. Originally published on RunnersWorld.com
5 Things Runners Can Learn From Thoroughbred Racehorses Getting some racing advice from 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify When Justify won the Kentucky Derby this year, it was a calculated victory by a skilled racer. Before the announcer could finish saying, “And they’re off!” Justify was surging to the front of the pack. While other horses fought for the inside, he chose to run in what would have been Lane 2 had Churchill Downs traded its dirt for a running track. It wasn’t until the final stretch that he unleashed his gallop to full capacity, overtaking Good Magic by 20 feet. We’ve seen this kind of run before. Think Galen Rupp surging the last 50 meters of the 2012 Olympic Trials or Desiree Linden waiting until Mile 22 to make a move in this year’s Boston Marathon. You get a good position in the pack, you stay low, and you wait until the last minute to let your finishing kick lead you to victory. The reason it works for both humans and horses is because we have more in common with our equine comrades than you might think. So if you’re looking to improve your racing during this year’s Triple Crown season, take some advice from the horse’s mouth—or at least from the jockeys who ride them. Don’t Worry About Bad Weather Anyone who ran the Boston Marathon this year knows that you can’t expect ideal conditions for every race. Similarly, this year’s Kentucky Derby was the wettest one on record. Winning jockey Mike Smith has a simple tip to conquer race-day rain: ignore it. “It’s not like it is just raining on you! It’s raining on everyone,” Smith says. “It’s just part of the sport. You have to have the confidence to know you can handle that.” Luckily for Smith, Justify is known for dominating the downpour. Part of his derby preparation was racing on a sloppy track at Santa Anita a month prior. If you’re concerned an upcoming
goal race might have inclement conditions, follow his lead and push yourself to do some workouts in the rain so you’ll know what to expect.
energy for the last quarter of the race. While everyone around you is getting tired, you can zip past and move up a few places.
Calm Those Jitters It doesn’t matter if you’re a 1,000pound horse or a 100-pound human: You can waste a lot of energy getting excessively nervous before you cross the starting line. Before Triple Crown races — or any horse race, for that matter — you might see the thoroughbreds walking beside non-racing horses. These friendly steeds are called “companion ponies,” and they provide a calm environment. “When horses get to the racetrack, they know something is up,” jockey Janice Blake says. “They’re a little more on their toes, which is why they need the lead ponies.” If you’re the type to get antsy before the gun goes off, be sure to spend race-day morning with some non-competing friends to absorb some of their serenity.
Know Your Competition A jockey’s job starts long before they even get on the horse. Taking into account the competitors’ racing records, he or she has to predict how the race will end before it even begins. “I do a lot of visualizing,” Solis says. “I think of three or four different ways the race could unfold.” He thinks of which horse is going to take the lead, when they are probably going to slow down, and when he can take the lead. “When that gate opens, if any of those plans don’t work out, then I have to improvise.” In most footraces, it’s a little bit different. There’s no way you can study the running strategy of every person running your neighborhood 5K—nor would you want to—but it’s still a good idea to visualize the race you want to have (or think about what often causes problems).
Don’t Take the Lead It’s classic running strategy to tail a good runner only to overtake them at the end of the race. But how do you ensure you’re the passer, not the passee? “I always try to start by following a good horse,” hall-of-fame jockey Alex Solis says. “Then I can get out from behind them at any time when I feel that their horse is going to get tired.” Blake agreed that it can be difficult to maintain first place. “It’s always better to hang back if you can,” she says. “Sometimes you find yourself on the lead and then you have to try and slow the horse down. Because once you get to the front, where are you gonna go?” So hang with a pack where you can maintain the pace, but save a little
Love the Race When asked what makes for the best racehorses, Smith says it came down to heart. “They all have one thing in common, and that’s the heart to compete and win, which is something that’s not in all horses... and not in all people.” When you think about why you’re running in the first place, there are probably a lot of reasons. Maybe you aim to be healthy, or maybe you like to feel accomplished. Whatever your reason to run, focus on that when you need an extra boost. “There is no one formula that makes a great racer,” Smith says, referring to both horses and humans. “That’s what’s so wonderful about the sport.” EMPOWER
Hey, I didn’t catch your name.” NOVEMBER 8 / Originally published on NorthbyNorthwestern.com
A PIECE OF HAIR FALLS INTO MY MOUTH ON MILE FOUR,
swept out of my ponytail by that dry wind that comes right before winter. It’s the first day of November and I’m attempting to run out of a hangover. I’m operating on two hours of sleep and my head feels like it’s being squeezed by Clayton Thorson. But hey, I tell myself. I’m running. When I allow myself to think about it, this run feels horrible. Luckily, there are plenty of distractions: The carpet of fallen leaves under my shoes that makes a sound like ASMR. The spice store somewhere on Davis that momentarily reminds me of a really good loaf of bread. The shadow of cold when I run under the Purple Line tracks, quickly followed by the warmth of the sun when I come out the other side. A stop sign appears, and even though there are no cars in sight, I wait to cross the street. In that moment, I spot a man approaching on the sidewalk. Old, round, and unshaven, like a Wilmette Santa Claus. Without touching his beard, I know it’s so coarse that his grandchildren flinch before he kisses them. It’s forty degrees, which is arguably warm for this season, but he’s wearing a thick black coat with the hood pulled over a knit hat. He’s still far when he raises his hand to wave. I wave back. “Hey there,” He calls. “Hi,” I say back. For some reason or another, I was b o r n with the type of face that makes random people think they can start conversations with me in public. Passengers on planes will interrupt whatever book I am reading to recommend a different one, rappers hand me their mixtapes on the CTA, and children I’ve never met will ask what I think of their lightup Sketchers. I can be walking in a group and a lost person will approach me, specifically, for directions. I don’t know what it is about me. The green eyes? The youthful face? The oozing aura of Midwestern hospitality? You’d think that I’d grow frustrated with this attention, but I was also born with the curse of politeness. No matter how little
I want to take part in these conversations, I never stop someone before they’re finished. Sometimes I tell my friends that I do it out of respect, but at the end of the day, I have to admit that part of me is curious: What could be so important for someone to tell another person that they feel the need to break the paradigms of personal space? This time, the man waits until he is a few feet from me to begin. “You a runner?” He asks. “Yeah. I’m on the track club at school.” “I have a suggestion for you,” He says.“You do your normal pace - your jog for three blocks. And then on the forth one, you go a little harder. Not fast, but just get some turnover. You won’t feel like you’re working much harder than usual, but you’ll be surprised. You’ll get stronger, really fast. Trust me on this one.” I take a deep breath and do as I always do in this situation: I grit my teeth, I thank him, I say I’ll try it. I make no intention to actually follow him up on his workout. After all, I get unsolicited advice like this all the time: Homeless men critique my running form, construction workers offer workout suggestions. It would drive me crazy to listen to all the unqualified coaches I meet on a long run. “You a student around here? Where do you go to school?” “Northwestern,” I say, pointing across the street. “I actually should get back…” “Northwestern,” He repeats. There is a long pause. Later, when I look back on it, I will understand this pause, but in the moment, I consider making a break for it. It is what he says next that makes me stay. “Northwestern University. I know that place. That’s where I almost died.”
I WAS RAISED CATHOLIC.
At YoungLife camp, I remember my counselor gathering all of the girls in one room of bunk beds to ask us all if we’d ever met God in a stranger. Ever since then, I wonder if I’m meeting Jesus Christ in the dude giving out mixtapes on the Red Line. I question why, after being taught never
to speak to strangers, I continue to break the rule. Maybe, in my busy life, I figure the least I can do is take five minutes out of my day to let someone say what they want to say. Maybe we all deserve to feel like someone is listening to us. I’ll complain about random people approaching me, but at the same time, my journal is full of Instagram handles, scribbles of book recommendations, and quotes from people I’ll never meet again. I make something sacred about the randomness of our interactions. After all, in a world with seven and a half billion people, what are the odds these people run into me? It is possible this is a fault of mine, some modern-day sortes virgilianae where I flip the book to a random page and take the advice I find as if it was preselected by someone who understands what I need to hear more than I do myself. Maybe I want to believe there is some divine power out there who sends these talkative people as messengers to tell me what I need to hear even if I don’t want to hear it. Sometimes, I think the opposite. Maybe, there is no destiny or fate; maybe I meet these strangers by absolute random chance. Two passing ships in an ocean the universe wide, and I’m philosophical enough to think it means something. Or maybe, that’s just what happens when you start to listen.
STANDING IN THE FORTY-DEGREE WEATHER IN MY RUNNING SHORTS, I cross my bare arms to keep warm. After a while, I forget the wind. “I had a brain surgery, while ago now. When I woke up, I didn’t remember anything. It was like I was a newborn. My wife was standing beside me. I didn’t know who she was.” He says the last part with so much emphasis that I can tell this hurts. I wonder how many times she’s described the pain of being reduced to a new character after spending a lifetime with him. I wonder if he feels guilty for something that wasn’t his fault. I wonder if he blames Northwestern. I
An ode to fate, figures, and the sanctity of strangers. wonder what he did to lose this part of his brain in the first place. “It took me two years to remember everything. I have three kids. I didn’t know I had them when I woke up, but my wife, she explained it all to me so I wouldn’t be shocked when we got home. But my memory is different now than it used to be. I have three kids, but I don’t know their names. I know everything about them -- every single details, every single memory -- and in my mind, these things come to me immediately when I see them, but I cannot for the life of me recall what their names are. I never mix them up, though. Never.” It occurs to me that he could be making all of this up, but I choose to believe every word. “In the past two years, everything has come back to me. I just can’t remember any names - of people, of places. I’m not allowed to travel on my own anymore, because I never know how to say where I went. I only know I’m in Wilmette now because it’s the only place I’ll ever be.” He tells me that he took a road trip in college, back when he could remember which state he was currently in at a given time. He and his friends played the Graceland album from beginning to end. They liked it so much that they didn’t listen to anything else for the whole trip. He tells me to look it up on the Internet when I get home, and I do. Paul Simon sings that Graceland is in Memphis, Tennessee, but to me and the man with the hole in his skull, it might as well be anywhere. The longer he talks, the more I forget the wind. I forget that I’m hungover. I forget that I’m meant to be on a run. I think about the vacations my family used to take when I was a child. I remember the soft sand on the beach, gathering shells in the folds of my dress, running up the shore when the tide came too high. But I cannot, for the life of me, remember where I was. Like this man, I remember only the memories. I guess, as time passes, the labels are the first to fade. “You seem to remember the important stuff,” I say to him. “I’m lucky. When I left Northwestern,
they said that most people who go through my procedure don’t remember anything at all. The important stuff, like you said, came back to me.” There’s something to this. Maybe, names are the least important things to remember. Maybe, this man has a backwards sort of gift in the hole in his skull. Through some accident or surgery, he only remembers the things that matter. Every watercolor memory of his 75-year life, all bright hues and startling images, but never the edges. Nothing to grip onto. Just pictures, beautiful pictures. In the moment, I do not know how long we stand there. I do the math at home. I left for this run at two o’clock, I run ten miles, and I get home at four. The run itself only took eighty minutes, which meant I stood on a Wilmette street corner for approximately forty. But, like I said. Forty is just the label of the number. That wasn’t the part that mattered.
WHEN I GET HOME, I HAVE
A LIST OF REQUESTS.
The man has told me to listen to Graceland, Cat Stevens, and a fourteen-year-old pianist named “London.” But I Google something else, too, and I find it right away. Anomic Aphasia. That is the correct term for the hole in his skull. Everything the man told me is outlined right there, in the article, with perfect clarity. It is fitting, really, that he never told me the name of the condition, but instead told me everything about it. I wonder if he knows this term. I realize things would not have been any different if he had. That’s the thing about names: They only stand for something else. It’s like a variable in an equation or a pointer in computer programming. It directs you to something else you’re supposed to think about, but you have to make a leap to get there. We all have the schema to gather the various bits of information surrounding one person. Some of us categorize these beneath a label, but when this label is gone, the vast bank of underlying data is impossible to explain to anyone else. In
this case, you become frustrated. Perhaps you begin talking to strangers. You hope they listen, but you worry they won’t. We all walk around in our own bubbles believing our own lives are so important that we cannot stoop so low as to talk to anybody else. We take the train and walk to work and pass thousands of nameless faces in a crowd, never going so far as to offer them a good day because to us, it’s too big of an investment. It’s taken a lifetime of run-ins with randoms, but I have forced myself to stop and talk when the occasion arises. There is an innate joy in speaking to other people, a genuine connection in conversing with another human being even if you have no stake in the outcome. I like to think that there is enough to learn that you can find something valuable - whether it be advice, positivity, or joy - from anyone you meet. We cannot possibly know everything, ever. After all, I turn to Snapple lids for scripture and I find sanctity in strangers. The entire world is constantly offering me advice, so long as I am open to taking it. After a while, the man tells me that I should start jogging again; he’s talked to me for too long. I forget that, initially, I was itching to run away. I almost want to keep talking, not sure what he’s going to tell to me next. This man is fascinating. But he’s right -- it’s been forty minutes. Crowds of people have passed us on the street, looking back and forth between the girl in a t-shirt and the bearded man wearing a hood over his hat. A couple people look almost pitying, as they eye me, as if they think I am being harassed by this man. I want to tell them that it’s okay, that I don’t mind talking to strangers. Before we leave, we shake hands. He tells me how much of a pleasure it was to meet me, and I promise that I’m going to look up the music artists he told me about. We shake hands, his covered in a thick glove. I cross the street, and I keep running. I will remember him, and I know he will remember me. It does not occur to me until later that neither of us ever asked for the other’s name. EMPOWER
OREGON | Steve Prefontaine
RUNNER FROM EVERY STATE
MONTANA | Nikki Kimball
The fact that the unparalleled names of Galen Rupp and Ashton Eaton are reduced to runners up is an ode to Oregon’s caliber as a state. (This state is a mecca for the speedy and the strong.) Whether you think Steve Prefontaine is overrated or not, you can’t deny the statistics: He still holds the American Records in the 2000m (5:01.4, 1975) and three-mile (12:51.4, 1974). Before a car accident ended his life in May 1975, Pre held every American outdoor track record between the 2K and the 10K. Born, raised, and buried in Oregon, Prefontaine might be part of reason this state has become the distance-running hub it is today.
With over sixteen years of competitive experience under her belt, Nikki Kimball has won almost every major ultramarathon there is—even one through the French Alps (the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc) and one through the Sahara desert (the Marathon des Sables). Montana’s wild terrain must agree with Kimball, who currently lives in Bozeman—a town in the heart of the Rocky Mountains.
Find out which track star shares your home with our (unofficial) list of the biggest names in American running From Montana to Michigan to Maine, every state has one thing in common: People have ran there. No matter which region you call home, there is a historic runner who has left their mark—whether that be the town where they were born, the college where they competed, or the place where they trained. From Olympic sprinters to ultra legends and Boston greats, here is a comprehensive list of the most talked-about runner from every state in the U.S. Don’t see your state?
Wait until this article is published in early 2019 to see the full list of American runners! (New England shouldn’t have divided into so many states if they wanted to fit on the page...)
WASHINGTON | Ryan Hall Ryan Hall’s 2:04:58 Boston Marathon finish in 2011 is still the fastest American marathon ever ran—unofficially. The IAAF doesn’t count Boston as a qualifying course because it isn’t a loop, but Hall’s 2:06 in London (2008) would put him just behind Khalid Khannouchi for the official record. One record he does hold, however, is the half-marathon: a 59:43 that makes him the first American to go sub-60.
WYOMING Brent Weigner
IDAHO | Cla Edmundson rence
World record holder for Most Marathons in Different Countries
NEVADA | Abby Miller
High school cross country legend, four-time Footlocker champion UTAH | Cam Levins
Utah University Bowerman recipient
CALIFORNIA | Allyson Felix
The Golden State is home to some of our country’s biggest names in running, but as the most populous state in our nation, maybe this was a statistical guarantee. Among them are 2018 Boston Marathon champion Desiree Linden and Nike Oregon Project athletes Jordan Hasay and Shannon Rowbury, all three of which should deserve their own praise, but not many people can boast the same stellar running résumée as Allyson Felix. Born in Los Angeles, educated at USC, and currently residing in Santa Clarita, Felix has spent the majority of her life in California. At the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, Felix became the first female track and field athlete to win six career golds. She’s tied for having the most gold medals of any female track and field Olympian, a title she shares with Jamaica’s Merlene Ottey. One title she holds uncontested? Best running shoe collection.
NEW MEXICO Shelia Burrell
COLORADO | Emma Coburn
Born and raised in Boulder, Emma Coburn is so proud of her Centennial State heritage that she hosts an annual 5k in Crested Butte. Coburn’s Elk Run 5k is held to honor the small town that made her the 3K steeple hero that she is. Her 2017 finish (with a 9:02.59) at the London World Championships makes Coburn the first American woman to win a gold medal in the steeplechase at a world championship, breaking her bronze-medal finishing time from the 2016 Olympic Games.
This Canadian-born endurance runner has lived in Flagstaff since 2006. Instead of 5Ks, he runs 50Ks (or longer)—and he he’s only lost once so far this year. Back in 2014 and 2015, Krar was named Ultra Runner of the Year by Ultrarunning.com after two consecutive victories in the Western States Endurance Run (the 100-mile race has been called the Superbowl of ultramarathons—which means Krar has had more wins than his local NFL team, the Cardinals).
MINNESOTA | Scott Jurek
Born to Run endurance star Scott Jurek was raised in Proctor, where the beautiful hiking and camping trails of his youth sparked a lifetime love of the outdoors. Jurek is arguably the most well-known ultramarathoner the world has, considering that he has a record number of victories at the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run— seven in a row. In 2015, he broke the supported thru-hike record of the Appalachian Trail, completing the 2,100-mile journey in 46 days, 8 hours, and 7 minutes.
WISCONSIN Suzy Favor Hamilton
MAINE | Joan Benoit Samuelson
Three-time Runner’s World cover star Suzy Favor Hamilton grew up in Stevens Point and went on to run for UW-Madison. She’s run five sub4-minute 1500 meters, competed in three Olympic Games, holds the American record in the 1000m (2:33.93), and won seven USA National titles. She’s also the only person ever to be named both the fastest woman in the world (2000) and a top-tier escort in Las Vegas.
Still fourth on the list of fastest marathons ever completed by an American woman, Freeport-based Joan Benoit Samuelson (currently 61) has had a longer career than perhaps any other person on this list. She’s one of the few people who isn’t afraid to set the pace in a marathon (this woman seriously ran 21 whole miles alone in the 1984 Olympics—the first year women were allowed to race the distance at the Games) and continues to break records in her age category with each marathon she runs. At the age of 50, she ran sub-2:50. At 55, she ran 2:50:29.
MICHIGAN Dathan Ritzenhein If being named “Dathan” wasn’t memorable enough, Grand Rapids runner Ritzenhein is also known for beating Ryan Hall and Alan Webb in Foot Locker National Cross Country Championships the year all three of them were seniors in high school. (The 2000 race is still known as perhaps the greatest Footlocker race of all time.)
NORTH DAKOTA Laura Roesler
Bowerman recipient; 800-meter runner SOUTH DAKOTA Billy Mills
Responsible for “greatest upset of all time” in Olympic 10k
OHIO on M Clayt ic 800m
IOWA | Shelby Houlihan Olympic 5k; steeplechase; lover of French bread hn
NEBRASKA | Lloyd Ha Olympic half-miler
ILLINOIS gin Craig Vir XC ol High scho er; ld record ho author
KENTUCKY | Buddy Edelen Olympic marathoner
KANSAS | Jim Ryun
ESPN best high school athlete of all time; miler; former House of Representatives member
TENNESSEE | Wilma Rudolph “Fastest woman of the 1960s”
First woman to compete in five Olympics
GEORGIA | Kirubel Erassa American Distance project runner, high school great
ARKANSAS | Deena Kastor
TEXAS | Sanya Richards-Ross
Born in Jamaica and raised in Austin, Sanya Richards-Ross is The Quarter-Mile Queen. For an entire decade, she was the best 400 meter runner in the world (2005-2009, 2012). She has four Olympic gold medals. Her best time? 48.7.
RHODE ISLAND Molly Huddle Huddle currently holds the American 10K and half marathon records: 30:13.17 and 1:07:25 respectively. Despite going to school in New York, Huddle currently resides in Rhode Island, running for Saucony. She’s a role model for aspiring long-mid-distance runners— and nail art enthusiasts— everywhere.
MISSOURI Helen Stephens
MISSISSIPPI Willye White
American marathon record-holder Deena Kastor might have been born in Massachusetts and raised in California, but she went to college in Arkansas, so we give you permission to claim this national legend as your own (once a Razorback, always a Razorback). She hit a 2:19.36 in London back in 2006, an American marathon record that hasn’t been broken since. (That’s a 5:19 mile average!) Kastor held the half-marathon record too—until Molly Huddle beat it in January.
NEW YORK | Frank Shorter
Olympic marathon gold-medalist sometimes credited with starting 1970s running boom
ALABAMA | Jesse Owens
The American track-and-field legend was born in Oakville in 1913, even if he spent the end of his life in Phoenix, Arizona. Owens is most well-known for winning four gold medals in the 1936 Olympic Games (100-meters, 200-meters, long jump, and the 4x100-meter relay), which would have been epic even if Hitler hadn’t been infuriated by the performance. His world-changing story was immortalized in the 2016 movie, Race.
FLORIDA | Jenny Simpson
This three-time Olympian and two-time medalist actually went to high school in Oviedo, Florida. (She’s also the first Florida girl ever to win the Foot Locker South Cross Country Championships twice, running the exact same time both years). She currently holds the second-fastest American time in the 3000-meter steeplechase and third fastest American time in the 1500, but her greatest accomplishment might have to be the fact that her high school named their track in her honor.
Missouri native Helen Stephens was known as the Fulton Flash for a reason. She won nine Amateur Athletic Union track-and-field titles before she was 18, taking the Olympic gold in 1946 for her 11.5-second 100 (and another for her 4x100). Stephens won every single race in her career, adding up to over 100 wins. She took a break from competing to headline a tour with Jesse Owens, play professional basketball and softball, and serve with the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. She returned to racing in the 1980s to continue her winning streak. At the age of sixty-eight, she ran a 16.4-second 100, only four seconds slower than her PR at age eighteen.
a beginner’s guide to the Boston marathon APRIL 20
When I was in middle school cross country,
we used to write inspirational things on our limbs in sharpie, in part because it reminded us to stay strong, but mostly because we thought it made us look badass. I hadn’t unironically taken a marker to my arm since eighth grade, but on the morning of April 16th, I was tempted. Just run with it. This is what I was telling myself, clever enough to warrant my background in journalism but vague enough to be applied to whichever situation I ended up in. Today, I was running the Boston Marathon for the first time in my life. I was twenty years old. It was thirty degrees with a torrential downpour you can only find in seaport cities where the ocean just jumps back into the sky every time they run out of rain. I was terrified. After the race, I would learn I ran in what would be the coldest race in thirty years. Many people said the rain made it the worst weather they’d ever encountered, worse than even 2015 (typically regarded as Generally Bad™). Standing in front of the mirror that morning, wondering if I was wearing enough clothes, I realized I’d just have to suck it up. Clench my fists. Tighten my ponytail. Take a deep breath. Run with it. Thing #1 They Don’t Tell You About Boston
The first mile
happens before the race even starts.
It’s true; there’s a mile - an entire mile! of walking that takes place in Hopkinton before you even get to the starting line. The slower you are, the longer you wait. I was in Wave 2, Corral 8. Fast enough to draw impressed remarks from strangers, slow enough that I was surrounded by nonintimidating athletes. If you’re in Wave 1, I assume you run with fast people. They’re probably all adults in their thirties with rippling calves, the sort of souls who run in spandex and sports bras despite inclement weather. Back in wave 2,
you get the first-timers. The old-timers. The marathon moms and the just-a-light-jogs. The dude running it with his girlfriend, the elementary school teacher who brought three ponchos “just in case someone else forgot.” Two parents in matching cow onesies. Eventually, the whole smorgasbord of a crowd halted. The roar of the rain was punctuated by a loud collective groan, thousands of running shoes pausing on the pavement. We were stopped; the front of Wave 2 had reached the starting line. “Does anyone want to pray?” A voice next to me called into the stream of people. It was a man easily the age of my grandfather. He extended both arms, unleashing sprays of water in each direction. A couple backed away, but I found myself closed between two wet men. Just run with it. I couldn’t remember the last time I went to church. “God, we are gathered here today in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, about to embark on a journey to the finish line at the Boston Marathon. We are so incredibly fortunate to have the ability to do something so tasking, and to have the time and ease in our lives to run recreationally. Thank you for this incredible opportunity - for this run, every run that led us here, and every run after. Amen.” I watched his lips as he talked. They were chapped, even in the heavy rain, and I watched the way the water beaded down his coarse beard and fell to his blue jacket, the Celebration edition from two years ago. This wasn’t his first Boston, then, if he was wearing the jacket - but I could tell from the extreme reverence in his tone that this wasn’t just a check on his bucket list or an annual excuse to visit Beantown. This was something sacred. It forced me to ask myself why I was running. How many times had I complained about the training instead of realizing how lucky I was to be able to run for twenty-six consecutive miles? Before anyone had time to add another thought to the prayer circle, the crowd began walking. The race awaited. Thing #2
The finish line is a big deal. The starting line definitely is not.
After walking through the rain for some unannounced span of time, the crowd slowly began to shuffle onward. I spotted what looked like a speed bump ahead: a black plastic lump meant to read the data from our bib numbers. “Wait, is that the starting line?” I screamed. It was. That was it. I was so anxious about joining the rest of the runners that I didn’t think for almost a full mile. I remember looking down at my shoes, marveling at the strange concoction of objects floating in the street that had become a river. Granola bar wrappers mingled with crushed gloves and safety pins with sharp points exposed. Pills of all types were scattered across the pavement, disintegrating in the water and leaving spilled trails of color behind them like crayons beside a blow dryer. I remembered that I had Advil; I told myself I’d save it for Mile 13. Halfway. Right when I needed the pain to give me a break. By the time I got there, I’d reach into my pocket and remove my hand with a fistful of white powder. The pills had dissolved into my leggings the same way they’d bled into the pavement. Why had I expected them to last the race when so many other Advils had not? I don’t know. I remember smearing the excess powder on my lips and hoping the healing powers of two child-strength tablets could cure the ache already spreading through my ankles. I heard once that this is how you use cocaine. Thing #3
The majority of the race is a
tour of smalltown America.
Before running this race, I assumed the entire marathon would take place in Boston, maybe because it’s called the Boston Marathon. This would be theoretically impossible, considering Boston itself is only 9 miles across at its widest point. Instead, you start 24 miles outside of Boston. You run in. The start line is in Hopkinton, but the race weaves through seven different small towns before it reaches the big city. Honestly, it feels like running through any small town in America. At least, until a
spectator shouts to run “wicked fast,” and you remember you’re not in Kansas anymore. The best part of these towns were the people. There were not many of them. Instead of endless rows of screaming supporters (which all of the Boston preparation guides promised) I was met with sparse crowds. There would be ten kids in rain jackets huddled underneath the overhang of a Shell gas station with signs they clearly made in Joe’s garage while drinking Capri Suns. One guy held up his dog’s paw to high-five our sweaty parade. “Remember, Tony’s Cheap and Used Appliances is cheering for you!” Shouted a man, presumably Tony. He was right; I did indeed remember. Tony, my man - here is your shoutout. If I ever need a slightlybroken but still-lovable washing machine, I know where to go. Thing #4
The spectators will
offer you things.
The only spectators were there with a purpose. The casual cheerers stayed inside due to horrifically disgusting weather, but the resilient few stood with signs and buckets of food to hand out. You don’t just pour 600 tiny shots of water only to stay inside since it’s rainy. Susan probably didn’t want to leave the house in the morning, but then she realized she’d spent four hours slicing an entire small nation’s worth of oranges into runner-sized wedges and couldn’t just throw that all away. We saw her when we passed
mile six, I think, screaming at the crowd to “come take an orange.” The rain fell so heavily that the Tupperware container that held the oranges was filling up, and all of the slices were floating in at least a half-gallon of precipitation. I didn’t see anyone take one, yet still Susan screamed into the void, an inspiration to us all. Thing #5
Don’t expect to
“find people.” My Aunt Johanna was in this race somewhere, but we’d only communicated thus far via late-night text. She said her friends would be waiting at mile 17 with a change of clothes for me, maybe a hat. “They’re really good at unpinning and pinning numbers really fast,” She reassured me. I’d be like a race car, flying off the track for a tire change and then ripping back into action. When I got to mile 17, I scanned the spectators for Ann and Deb, two women I had never seen in my life. Come to think of it, I don’t know who I was looking for. Did I think they’d be wearing name-tags? Waving a sign? I don’t know. In any case, I never found Ann and Deb. I’ve since learned that they thought I was slower than I truly am, which I’ll take as a compliment. They were getting out of their car when I ran past. But quite honestly, the thought was there. I truly appreciate that they were willing to be my pit stop crew. Also, if anyone was wondering, smearing the Advil powder on my lips was doing nothing and this is an ineffective way to take medicine.
ing the Today, I was runonn for the first Boston Marath was twenty time in my life.aIs terrified. years old. I w
Wellesley, y’all are wild!
By far the best cheering is from college students. Do not ever let anyone else motivate you other than drunk twenty-yearolds who don’t have class on Monday. No one else is dumb enough to brave the rain. These kids are getting hypothermia for us, damn it. Running past Wellesley introduced me to the best signs I’d seen thus far. Some of my personal favorites: “Running Makes Me Horny” - Held by a man wearing a unicorn mask. The unicorn is the unofficial mascot, since it’s in the Boston Athletic Association logo. Do with this information what you will. “Free Wine Tasting (In My Mouth)” No one in my wave stopped for this unique opportunity, but the aforementioned Aunt Johanna said some of the people running near her took part. “If Trump Can Run and Win, So Can You.” - Particularly inspiring for the girl who eventually ended up getting 7,921st place. Sometimes when I go on a particularly long run, I try to remember how it started. If I’ve been running for more than two hours, the beginning of the run often feels like it happened on a different day. Eighteen miles before Wellesley, I was in a prayer circle. Life comes at you fast.
The spectators will offer
you MORE things.
Just when I thought we’d left Wild Wellesley, I ran past a man holding the kind of torched cookie sheet you can only find in a college apartment. On the sheet were several small cups of clear liquid, the same type that mothers had been trying to give out near Orange Slice Susan. “Water?” I asked, reaching to take one. “No!” He shouted over the din of the pouring rain. “It’s Everclear!” Thing #8
was only minorly demoralizing.
People come out of the womb going “Heartbreak hill will break your spirit.” Nobody wants to be optimistic about it. Everyone’s got to walk around speaking in riddles about the terror of this incline. “It’s so near to the end. By the time you get there, you’re already dead.” “I heard it’s so high that every firsttimer ends up walking.” “I heard the worst part is actually the downhill. It destroys your knees.” “There are really three heartbreak hills, since they are rolling. You feel like it will never end.”
“I heard it’s so steep that your knees and forehead scrape the pavement.” These naysayers are all cowards. Heartbreak Hill is easily the least daunting part of the race. It’s definitely a rolling incline, but there are worse hills literally in every other mile of the course. I don’t know who came up with the name for this hill, but they should go into marketing. They have created a brand like no other, made a mountain out of a molehill. I knew the hill was coming at mile 21, so I prepared myself. I started singing Destiny’s Child in my head. I tackled every small incline, imagining that there would be this one massive hill that rose out of nowhere that I hadn’t hit yet. I awaited the heartbreak. And then, trotting up one last mound, I passed beneath a giant red banner: “THE HEARTBREAK IS OVER!” That was it? That was the heartbreak? Clearly these marketers and I have never dated the same guys. Thing #9
Maybe you CAN find people. Huh. With the heartbreak behind me, I felt like a champion. If that was the worst Boston had to offer, then I could definitely finish the last five miles of this race. I saw my friend Aileen from Boston College at mile 22; I threw David’s gloves at her triumphantly. Apparently, these gloves were so wet and cold that, in her drunken state, she imagined
what not to do!
WHAT NOT TO EAT My Christmas present in 2017 was this runnershaped pasta, so I saved it until Boston so I could load up on carbs. Unfortunately, I lived in a dorm and did not have a kitchen, so I had to break into somebody’s house to cook it. Worth it.
my whole body as wet and cold as the gloves and brought me a full change of clothes when the race ended. This is actually really sweet, since that required taking the T halfway across town to reach the finish line. It’s also really funny, because I had my own change of clothes and was so cold I ended up wearing hers too. Aileen is a good friend. She even washed and dried the darn gloves. Miles 22-25 kind of sucked. It was like opening a jar after you’ve already declined help and your hand is cramping and your whole arm hurts but you keep going because you know the end is near. But I’m a champ, really. I persevere. Thing #10
The joy is in the journey being over. I’m the idiot who didn’t realize the race was starting or that Heartbreak Hill was happening, but let me tell you: I knew where the finish was. Maybe it’s because it has the most giant banner you’ve ever seen, so large that there’s a little catwalk for people to stand on it and watch you. I don’t know who those lucky people are, but one of them has to work for Adidas. After the race, Adidas sends you a little email of your finishing video, which is so cool that I refused to pay $1 for it and illegally ripped it off the Internet using QuickTime Player. I don’t want to talk about Mile 25. My dad called me the day after the race: “Hey, Emma. Congrats on the marathon. But what
HOW TO NOT REST THE DAY BEFORE I was sort of dumb and ended up walking ten miles around the city the day before the marathon, which I thought I’d regret. During the race, though, my legs were going to hurt either way, so I don’t know if this really made a difference. And I’m glad I got to see Boston without rain!
happened to you during mile 25?” That’s all you need to know about it. The mile-by-mile guide told me that if I made it to mile 25, the gentle decline would “carry me into the finish.” No. That’s a lie. It’s all uphill. I dragged my own self. A week later, I’d be interviewed for an article in The Daily Northwestern in which I say some horrific thing about the Joy of the Journey and how I didn’t want the race to end or I’d lose it. I think, to a certain extent, there is a certain twinge of wistfulness you feel when you realize you’re about to run across the line and never be able to be in the moment again. But, like, screw that. I’d been running for three and a half hours. I needed to change my socks. Thing #11
You’ll be back.
The race ended and my legs had been running for so long that they kind of sucked at walking. Someone handed me a medal, a jacket made of the same silver material you put on your car windows to keep the dashboard from getting hot. There was a new woman handing out orange slices, like Susan but chill. More spectators in unicorn horn headbands. And guess what? More walking. Another mile of walking. Just like the start, there are simply too many people for us to all funnel out of the finish line and join the masses. We must be pushed to designated areas to meet our friends, some glimmer of organization in a world of chaos.
HOW NOT TO FIND PEOPLE I sent a picture of myself to my aunt so her friends could find me, but I didn’t realize I’d be wearing a million more layers than I’d intended! Ah well. We tried...
David’s mother found me with one change of clothes by the K Last Name sign. Aileen found me with another change of clothes outside the warming area. I found David inside the warming area, which was not warm at all but was at least indoors away from the rain. We sat in an auditorium together, not moving, waiting for the water to leave our skin so we could go on our phones and text our loved ones that we hadn’t died or whatever. I changed my socks; I checked all 78 texts. I don’t ever think I’ve felt so loved in my life. I wasn’t truly comfortable until after I’d taken a hot shower later that afternoon, but that moment was perfect. I’d just finished my first Boston Marathon. David and I were bonding over our different experiences. Neither of us could walk without limping. I told him about Orange Slice Susan, about the Everclear. A man behind us mentioned that this was the worst Boston he’d ever ran, a poor choice for our first go. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. Why? Because every marathon I do in the sun after this is going to be a piece of cake. Because I’m from Wisconsin and I don’t really mind losing feeling in my fingers every time I run between November and April. Because despite the weather, I am proud of how I ran and trained (Mile 25 included). I did it, for the bucket list or for myself or for the sheer hell of it. And you bet your fuel belt I’m going to do it again. I’m a sick sucker for pain! (Confused? See Things They Don’t Tell You About Boston, entries 1-11.)
HOW TO DRESS FOR THE WEATHER Since so much of the race is just walking before you start, David and I decided to invest in some dollarstore ponchos and rip them off before crossing the start line. It’s a really hot look, I know.
HOW TO GET THOSE PERFECT PICTURES Nobody looks good after running 26.2 miles in freezing rain, so I staged some shots the next day for my Instagram. Want to hear more about me being a total photo fraud? See page 5.
The Metaphysical Truth of a Class I Didn’t Need to Take How an unnecessary science credit brought me to the meaning of life.
Yours, Mine, and Service Hours Why, in 2018, collegiate co-op living is more important than ever.
The Story of the Silos, As Told Through Explosions The history of the Damen Grain Elevator.
Welcome to Lost Eras Take a closer look into one of Chicago’s oldest costume shops. The Peculiar Existence of the Ghost Train It’s simultaneously the most stupid and most adorable thing in Shorewood.
S O A H
This spring, I registered for a science class called Introduction to Astrobiology. I thought I needed
another science credit, but about a week into the class, I checked my degree progress and realized that since I had enough other courses under my belt, I’d be essentially taking the class for nothing other than a grade boost. After getting a 30% on the first quiz, I realized that was a moot point. I finished the class anyway. I did about as well in Astrobiology as you can expect for a journalism major, but I’ve emerged with a starry-eyed awe for anything in the cosmos. You see, the study of aliens is really just a study of us, because every thought we’ve ever had about extraterrestrial life is us projecting our own human minds onto a species we don’t know. Like imaging a color you’ve never seen, hypothesizing the nature of aliens is inherently impossible. This is an excerpt of trying to process everything I learned, from supernovae to constellations to places so dark that not even gravity can escape.
existence, but we interpret incoming noise the same way. We attribute crop circles to aliens, find faces on mars, think space rocks are spelling out messages to us. If you think about it too long, it starts to feel like human nature. We’re not perceiving these red herrings because we’re dumb; we just don’t want to be alone. We want to mean something. We wonder, in a universe as enormous as our own, if there could possibly be a reason we exist at all. Our lives are the endless pursuit for the meaning of life.
they reach the end of our solar system, we expect them to keep on flying as long as they can before something bigger makes contact. In the rare case that someone finds them, we have left small illustrations scribbled on side panels. Voyager 1 and 2 even come with small records and built-in phonographs. We’re expecting the aliens to (1) receive our shot-in-the-dark probes, (2) understand how to put a record in a player, and (3) have a sense of hearing. We gave them recordings of us greeting each other. Beethoven and Bach. Johnny B. Good. Diagrams of DNA. Pictures of Earth from Space. The Olympics. A zygote. They say you can see the Great Wall of China from the moon. I hope that it outlives us all. MAY 8 That the Great Wall of China is still left when all of the grass has died and all of the bacteria How an unnecessary science credit brought have perished. me to the meaning of life. I hope that they send rovers to Earth, wondering if life could exist there, wondering if maybe it already did. And I hope they realize we did something that nature could not, a signal more obvious than The Messages We Send to Aliens prime numbers and bitmap images and Are Hilariously Random The first of these is the Arecibo signal, Chuck Berry. we sent in 1974 toward the M13 globular Studying Outer Space, More Than cluster. We only sent it once, which is our first mistake, because the minute someone Anything Else, Taught Me More realizes it’s being transmitted, it’s already About Life on Earth too late. (Maybe, they’re smarter than we Because we don’t know anything about are, and they’ll know what we’re trying to something we haven’t found yet, any say even if they miss the beginning.) prediction we make about extraterrestrial The best part about this signal is life is merely a reflection of human nature. that it’s insanely complex. It’s built of Everything in the field of astrobiology says a 23x75 grid, which creates a bitmap more about us than it does about them — illustration though morse-code-esqe which was one of the joys of taking this pattern of transmissions to display either class and having no idea what was going on. “black” or “white” almost like binary I learned a lot of things. For example, numbers that assemble computer code. human beings are more similar in If any extraterrestrial beings are able to composition to the sun than we are to our receive this signal, the chances they have own planet, which is why people always say of understanding it are slim. Even if they’re we’re “made of star stuff.” The universe smarter than we are, how are they supposed we observe is the universe of the past; it to be able to read our minds? First they’ve takes light and sound so long to reach us got to realize the random sounds are a that even the newest updates with far space message from Earth. Then they’ve got to are really, really old. The entire evolution realize the message creates a picture. And of our complex species could have been THEN they’ve STILL got to figure out what a fluke. There’s a theory that there are the picture means! aliens out there who watch our progress on Of course, we have other ideas. We Earth as a sort of science experiment in the have sent probes to space that are meant evolution of complex life. And the emptiest to take pictures of the planets, but once thing we know is the space between stars.
The Metaphysical Nature of a Class I Didn’t Need to Take
The Reason We Will Never Give Up Seeking Alien Life is the Same Reason We Bury The Dead
To put it simply, we can’t fathom the idea of being forgotten and robbed of what little importance we seem to have in this massive, massive world. Think of every tree with the bark rubbed off to reveal the chalky inner layer, inlaid with initials on either side of a plus sign. Think of the bridges in Paris straining under the weight of a thousand personalized padlocks. Think of all the crumbling ruins of civilization with the painful, jagged strokes of dates etched in centuries long past. Think of graffiti tags on Subway tunnels, abandoned factories claimed by strangers’ ink. All of them hissing, croaking, screaming, DON’T FORGET ME into the escalating void of forgone time. Our biggest fear is that, when it all ends, we will have been nothing. After all, we’re only on this earth for a breath. When it comes to extraterrestrial life, we are almost worse because we not only create signals to speak our civilization into
Yours, Mine, & (Service) Hours 50 years after its foundation, more than 4,000 college students prove that cooperative living -- with its life skills and lentils -- is more important than ever. The first thing she noticed were the frying pans. Four of them. Cast iron. Hanging from the eaves over the porch holding pools of water that never seemed to escape. As a child, Rose Allen walked past 2000 Sherman Ave. in Evanston, IL every day on her way to school, imagining the unknown things that might happen in The House With the Frying Pans. It only made sense that, when she went to Northwestern University for college, she’d end up living there. These days, twenty-year-old Allen passes the pans to reach the front door of The Zooo (the creative pronunciation of the house number “2000”). Inside, there’s a photo album on the mantel filled with portraits of an unknown family, 40 dollars-worth of colored fairy lights interwoven along staircase spokes and a table upholstered with a roadmap carpet that could have been ripped from a kindergarten classroom. With so many elements of what tenants deem “aesthetic eclectic”, she no longer questions the frying pans. This house, with more decorations than a TGI Friday’s, is home -- for Allen and 13 of her accidental friends. “You can tell from the outside that this isn’t like a normal house,” Allen says. The Zooo is a cooperative, or co-
op, rented and managed by a group of Northwestern students. Membership involves paying a fixed monthly price to receive affordable housing and three daily meals, but with a few major caveats: everyone has shared funding, food, and floorspace. Allen belongs to a growing group of college co-op students nationwide, which have steadily infiltrated more than 50 university campuses over the past five decades. “This place couldn’t function without all of us working together. The biggest difference in living here is the mandatory chore hours.” Working to upkeep a property deters some students, most of which inhabit dormitories and dining halls run by university staff. These work-free living situations appeal to our modern generation. The most recent study done by Braun Research conducted a national survey in 2014 interviewing 1,001 parents, discovering that 82 percent said they had chores as children -- but only 28 of those same parents required chores from their own children. Today’s college students are branded as millennials who lack a work ethic, but Allen and 4,000 other students nationwide choose to complete compulsory service hours cooking and cleaning in return for the real world experience that
comes with a co-op life. The Zooo makes up one third of Evanston’s sole co-op system, Members of Society Acting in Cooperation or MOSAIC. Its tenants contribute five weekly chore hours, $140 a month for food, and between $300 and $700 for rent, depending on how many people share their room. According to Collegeboard figures, University housing fees have more than doubled since 1988, but co-op rent allows students to set their own prices. “We pay $3600 per month to live on Sherman Avenue,” says Allen’s co-president, 23-year-old Mike Martin. “Unlike the other houses, though, we put more people in each room. We use energy-efficient appliances to decrease the cost for utilities. We buy food in bulk.” As a result, a co-op member’s monthly costs are a lot less expensive than the typical Northwestern student’s. Renters in the house next door pay $700 to $1,200 per month for renting a similar-sized property -- but they also have half as many people living under one roof. However, living this frugally has its drawbacks. The Zooo’s 14 members meet on a weekly basis to approve every financial decision, even those that might seem arbitrary. “One time, I proposed to the rest of the house that we buy a communal garlic press and some people really did not want us to spend $7 on that,” Allen says. She ended up buying her own and donating it to the house kitchen as a gift. Still, affordability is the primary reason that most students choose to live in a co-op. Ratih Sutrisno, 24, is the Director of Community Engagement for the North American Students of Cooperation, the organization that manages most collegiate cooperatives. The leadership structure at NASCO itself is fittingly synergetic; Sutrisno has no boss, but works with four other directors who collectively manage each other. In her opinion, “students come for the cheap rent and stay for the people.” This makes it sound as if it takes a specific type of person to thrive under the cooperative lifestyle, but that’s a stigma that Sutrisno aims to dissolve. “People hear the word ‘co-op’ and they think of murals and lentils and that becomes the
dominant narrative,” she says. “But more people are drawn by the way that it is structured, how it’s economically feasible. They appreciate the underlying structural values.” One such student is 22-yearold Hannah Tobin-Bloch, a junior at Ohio’s Oberlin College. Growing up in a family with a collaborative household, she felt detached placing her dirty dishes on a rotating rack to be cleaned by someone else later. “I realized that I had no relationship to the food I was eating or the people I was sitting around,” she says. So, she started eating at a dining-only co-op called Keep Cottage, where members sit on the floor instead of using tables and chairs. “Now, once a week, everybody is cooking the food and cleaning the kitchen after. You see the same people at mealtimes every day. Through co-ops, you get that hands-on experience back.” The Oberlin Student Cooperative Association provides five co-op residences and seven dining services for a staggering 25% of the college’s student population. After three years of involvement, Tobin-Bloch currently stands as the president of OSCA. With 310 leadership roles in the organization, over half of the 600 members fill roles such as food safety captain, cleanliness coordinator, discussion leader and breadmaker. (In her previous position as tasty-things maker, Tobin-Bloch planned and prepared dessert each night.) Northwestern and Oberlin are merely two virtual pins on the NASCO Co-Op Directory, which displays all 50 of their sites. These locations range in size from four students (like Ohio State) to 1,300 (like UC-Berkeley), but they all require service hours, a focus on environmental sustainability and a leadership structure that allows most students to have a voice in the house’s proceedings. That, and almost every co-op site has its share of creatively-named houses, from Northwestern’s Castle Danger to Stanford’s Enchanted Broccoli Forest (named after the influential 1982 vegetarian cookbook).
Five decades after NASCO’s 1968 founding, its mission to bring collaboration to college campuses is more important than ever. “That time when you’re living in a college co-op is also a time when you’re going through a lot of self-finding,” Sutrisno says. “You’re going to school and figuring out your career and your future and you’re meeting other people who are on that same journey. I think that camaraderie that happens is why people love it so much.” Teamwork has been a tenet of cooperative life from the beginning, as each NASCO site governs by seven guidelines known as the Rochdale Cooperative Principles. Written in 1844, these values of democracy, equality and equity were documented by pioneers in Rochdale, England, but the ideas behind the laws are inherently American. “There is this mistold story that co-ops began with the Rochdale principles, but it was black folks that really pioneered this system,” says Sutrisno. “Sharing tools and sharing resources is rooted in black culture, and building these cooperatives was how they were able to sustain themselves during times of oppression. ” To this day, NASCO maintains diversity through its thematic houses. Many campuses host properties specifically for people of color, characterized by weekly discussions about race and identity. Similarly, sexual and gender identities are not excluded; one example being Oberlin’s system with safe space housing for transgender tenants, screened for compatibility through an application process. Students who fall in love with the co-op lifestyle don’t have to abandon it with adulthood. Both Allen and Tobin-Bloch expressed interest in living in a cooperative community post-graduation, and Sutrisno sees this as a very common sentiment that only proves the effectiveness of the college cooperative system. There exists a much wider network of co-op living beyond NASCO, and beyond that, a real world that students feel all
the more prepared for, having lived in a house that encourages the value of a healthy work ethic. “There’s just something really, really important about knowing how to chop an onion or clean a toilet or participate in discussion when it gets contentious and there doesn’t seem to be a clear answer and everybody has different opinions,” Tobin-Bloch says. She’s cooked meals for eighty, swept hallways before starting homework, and sat through four-hour board meetings. Even if it isn’t always enjoyable, she views hard work as the prerequisite for a better future. “The real world is about knowing how to work,” she says. “It’s about knowing how to struggle for what you need and how to get the most out of a situation.” Glancing out the window at the row of hanging skillets, Allen agrees. Ten years have passed since she first theorized about the Frying Pan People, but the awe she once attributed still lingers. When asked about her goals for the future, she looks away from the window and laughs, “I’d like to take over Evanston.” She’s kidding, of course, but there’s something to be said about a system where students can control the rent they pay, the dinner they eat, and the house they live in. It’s a college utopia where Allen and her 13 roommates feel inherently connected and essential.
The real world is about knowing how to work. If she were to take over her city, Allen says she would work to make rent more affordable -- but that’s just the beginning. “Ideally, I would think that every college student should at one point live in a co-op,” she decides. Maybe she’s onto something. EMPOWER
The Story of the Silos
(As Told Through Explosions)
After a century of destruction and construction, the Damen Grain Elevators remain. You get into the Damen Silos through a hole in the wall. You’ll know you’ve found the right place when you spot the gaping entry, crumbling edges marking what was probably once an explorer’s breach in the cement. What remains is a narrow entrance framed by plywood and concrete, a place that can only be accessed if you’re willing to abandon world outside. Your feet will land in dust, soft and thin as it clouds around your knees and settles at your ankles. Your shoes leave an imprint in the sand as you travel through the tunnels. Since there’s no way for the wind to reach, they’ll probably stay there forever like footprints on the moon. If you go far enough, you’ll find them. In the farthest corner, against the back wall, cloaked in a chilly darkness that not even spiderwebs dare to interrupt. A row of massive metal machines, a testament to the place this once was. With their various arms in eternal freeze frame, it’s difficult to imagine that the monstrous pallet in front once rose to the silos’ peak. These steel pulleys are what makes the place an elevator. But before the Damen Silos became Michael Bay’s pyrotechnic playground or the first search result for “urban exploration in Chicago,” they were just the Santa Fe Grain Elevators. It’s been 186 years.
1832 This was a different Chicago. Without skyscrapers, the tallest structures in the city were these cylinders, thirty feet high. The people of the city are insanely proud of these primitive silos; what they hold might as well be gold. It’s only grain, the commodity that will define Chicago’s nineteenth century. The epicenter of agrarian America, the grain trade is the way to a fortune. The way of a future. The first iteration of the Damen grain elevators stands at an ideal intersection, round towers rising between the IllinoisMichigan canal and the Santa Fe railroad (which ironically can access virtually any big city with the exception of Santa Fe). These aren’t the only grain elevators in the city, but they are the largest. There are hundreds scattered around the city, but these ones stand out: A towering symbol of Chicago’s prosperity like a firm punch on the skyline. A firm punch, with a thirtyfive-fingered knuckle. This year, they catch on fire for the first time.
PHOTOS BY LETA DICKINSON
1905 The 1832 fire inspired a new solution from grain industrialists: Build new silos from concrete. They did this, not realizing that the original container had not caused the earlier inferno. This doesn’t become clear for 73 years. A spontaneous combustion roars on the bank of the Chicago River, the second explosion in a series of chain-smoking resurrections. A cloud of hot dust tears through layers of sheet iron, chunks of cement torn apart like ice cubes splintering on a kitchen floor. Within an hour, hundreds of thousands of grain are aflame. Nothing remains; several workers are dead. If the composition of the structure wasn’t fireproof, the industrialists assume that maybe architecture is the problem. To solve it, the railroad hires an accomplished civil engineer. His name is John Metcalf, and he adds vents and windows. In the new silos, there’s a powerhouse, an elevator, and 35 storage silos. There are driers and bleachers and oat clippers and cleaners and scourers and dust packers and boilers fed by water from the Chicago River. It can hold a total capacity of one million bushels of grain. This is his Titanic, unburnable and incredible and inextinguishable. His goal is to build something that can last for more than thirty years without catching on fire. Instead, he builds something that will outlive the grain industry itself – despite constantly catching on fire.
1932 After a couple decades of uninterrupted operation, the third explosion hits. John Metcalf’s design has failed, though he’s not upset. He has been dead for twenty years. At this point, with not even John Metcalf’s designs proving invincible, it’s accepted that grain silos will just blow up whether you want them to or not. Libby Mahoney, senior curator for the Chicago Historical Museum, knows this is unfortunately common. The grain creates a gas that will explode at high temperatures, making dusty summer months a fatally dangerous time. For a while, the silos were lucrative despite constant reconstruction. “A lot of people made fortunes off the grain industry,” Mahoney explains. “That’s where many of our city’s greatest fortunes were made.” Since it’s the peak of Chicago’s grain reign, the site is rebuilt and expanded to hold twice as many bushels. It’s sold to the Stratton Grain Company after the reconstruction. From the flames come even better silos, stronger silos, a concrete phoenix rising from dusty ashes. The fire took a lot of things away, Mahoney realizes. But every single time, the industry just kept roaring back.
1977 The fourth explosion comes too late. By 1977, self-destructing silos are enough reason for grain industrialists to give up. By this point, the interstate highway system has made Damen’s location little more than a convenience. Like the meat-packing industry, a lot of agriculture has moved outside of Chicago. It’s not lucrative to rebuild the silos for a fifth time. Instead, they are sold to the Department of Central Management, who will hold on until an investor buys the land. At this point, they don’t look completely destroyed. Just defeated. Scorch marks on concrete, but the place is still there. Bridges link the towers, staircases reach the ground, and wooden slaps form a functional dock on the riverbank that doesn’t yet overlap like piano keys. This is the year the workers stop their machines and empty the grain reserve. There was a day, in 1977, when someone left the grinders and the boilers and the driers and the bleachers at rest. They will never move again.
2012 Thirty-five years after the death of the grain industry, the story hasn’t yet ended. The grain elevator is not the source of pride it once was, little more than a backdrop to a city that has left it in the past. To some, it’s an eyesore, especially as it accumulates grime and graffiti. Yet Chicago’s undemolished trash is Hollywood’s treasure. Enter Michael Bay, stage right. Location scouting for the fourth installment to the Transformers franchise, the crew is determined to turn the riverbank ruins into a movie set. The silos are supposed to look like they’re in China. They wipe off the skulls and swear words to replace them with giant Mandarin characters. Michael Bay and Mark Wahlberg set foot on the site, the same place that marked the start of a glorious era of gluten. With a mixture of CGI and dynamite, the fifth explosion hits. For the first time in history, the silos blow up on purpose. Two years later, Transformers: Age of Extinction comes out. Anyone watching the movie assumes the Damen Silos truly are in China, which just goes to show that they were more talented at acting than the rest of the cast. And just like that, for the first time in 35 years, the Damen Silos are alive again. Perhaps all they needed was another explosion.
2018 At this point, the Silos have breezed from industrial grain grinders to Hollywood actors, but despite the impressive resume, no one’s buying. The price drops almost 500 percent to $3.8 million while the Department of Central Management attempts to sell the place off. Northwestern history professor Henry Binford explained that it’s a difficult sell, since you’re buying more than just the property. Not only do you have to buy the plot of land, you’ve also got to test the soil for chemicals. “There are a lot of unpredictable costs that go into a place like that,” Binford says. And so, the silos sit in varying stages of decay, waiting for the sixth explosion. The one that will mean the end.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN NORTH BY NORTHWESTERN’S WINTER 2018 ISSUE.
Picking through the towers that remain, it’s obvious to you that the Damen Silos haven’t gone anywhere. Today, they belong to no one. But in another sense, they belong to everyone. For a hundred years, they’ve been here. They’ve claimed citizenship to Chicago longer than Willis Tower or Wrigley Field. They’ve suffered countless blasts, endless ends. The city around them rises and falls and rises again, but the silos stand still. A point of convergence in a world of chaos. To urban explorers, they’re a teenager’s playground. To Binford, they’re a “museum piece,” an artifact of a technological system long gone; a system that once made Chicago feel like it ruled the world. To Mahoney, they’re a symbol of the old city. A memorial to Chicago’s gold-hued heyday as the industrial capital of agrarian America. A lot has changed. Grain is stored in truly fireproof containers now. Michael Bay is making a documentary on poaching elephants. The Transformers franchise is up to its seventh installation. The Santa Fe railroad still ships grain, but you probably know it better as the Metra. The industrial world was born and replaced with something faster, something less flammable. The graffiti-torn ruins that stubble the south branch have become relics. Relics that have suffered through eras of film, factory, and flame. Only ten floors remain standing. Only ten floors, I think. But countless stories.
THAI SOCCER TEAM: LINH PHAM/GETTY, BEYONCE: PHOTO BY KEVIN MAZUR/GETTY IMAGES FOR COACHELLA, LARA CONOR: ALLURE, A STAR IS BORN: NME.COM, TINY SUNGLASSES: THECUT.COM, ARIANA GRANDE: LIFESIZEDCUTOUTS.UK, KIPCHOGE: INDEPENDENT.CO.UK, IHOB: LATIMES.COM, NICK JONAS: CNN.COM, ROYAL WEDDING: TIME MAGAZINE, COLD SHOULDER: ZAFUL.COM, CHLOE KIM: REUTERS/J.SILVA, JUSTIFY: XPRESSBET.COM
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