Fordham Universityâ€™s journal of news, analysis, comment, and review Volume XXXVIII, Issue IX November 18, 2009
february 3, 2009
This past Monday, Fordham’s College Republican’s erected a small “Berlin Wall” outside of McGinley Center and played Reagan’s famous “Tear Down This Wall” speech ad infinitum while handing out pamphlets about communism. We at the paper were moved by the patriotic, tyrannycrushing sentiments of the display, and wanted to do them one better. We wanted to really bring you into the fold. So with this issue of the paper’s cover, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, we invite all of you to help us in tearing it down! You have in your hands your very own piece of the Wall, Fordham. You know what to do. Every issue online & blog posts about everything and nothing. Check us out online: fupaper.wordpress.com Fan mail? Hate mail?
Write to us! the paper c/o Office of Student Leadership and Community Development Fordham University Bronx, NY 10458 firstname.lastname@example.org the paper, Fordham University’s student journal of news, analysis, comment, and review, is a product solely of the students. No part of the publication may be reproduced without written consent of the editors. the paper is produced using Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Word, and the incredibly hard work of the people to the right. Photos are “borrowed” from Internet sites like: www.google.com, www.imdb.com, www.nambla.org, www.rollingstone. com, www.cnn.com. Sorry mom, subscriptions are not available. Ad rates are unreasonable – don’t ask. Open staff meetings are held Tuesdays at 8PM near our office, McGinley B-57, in The Ramskellar, located in the basement of McGinley. Articles and letters to the editor may be submitted via e-mail to paper.fordham@ gmail.com, or scrawled incoherently in White-Out on back issues of Penthouse magazine. Submissions are always considered, usually printed, and occasionally used to make origami rhinoceroses. If you do not wish your letter to the editor to be published, just say so. We do not advocate wussitude; all letters must be signed. We reserve the right to edit any material submitted for publication. We will, however, work with the writer and see that content is as true to the writer’s original as possible. We publish this rag ten times a year (five per semester). So why not come down and write for us? We are a constantly evolving publication, and have been since 1972. And we try our best to second guess mainstream opinion and buck the system, even if there is no call to do so. But hey, writing isn’t for everyone. Try reading a good book like ¡OBÁMANOS!: The Rise of a New Political Era, by Hendrik Hertzberg. You might just learn something.
the paper is Fordham University’s student journal of news, analysis, comment, and review. Our aim is to give the Fordham community fresh insights on old issues, new thoughts on new issues, and information that other campus publications may not be able to report. We do not claim to be a newspaper of record – facts, figures, and dates. Instead, we focus on the Fordham student perspective, on thoughtful analysis, and on the comprehension of the full scope of events, rather than staggered and straight news coverage. In short, our emphasis is on the obvious and active role of the student writer in his or her work. We also aim to provide Fordham students a less fettered venue for expression, something they may not be able to find at other student publications. Basically, if we make you laugh, piss you off, or move you in some way, then we’re doing our job. If you don’t like it, shut your pie hole (or come write for us)!
“Favorite Part of Thanksgiving” Editor-in-Chief Kate “Gender Confusion” Murphy Executive Editor Bobby “Family Game of Two-Hand Touch” Cardos Assistant Executive Editor Chris “Family Alcoholism” Sprindis News Editors Alex “Betting Fingers on Football” Orf Max “Unorthodox Turkey Stuffings” Siegal Arts Editors Joe “Blacklisting Family Members” McCarthy Sam “Family-Style Hookers and Blow” Wadhams Features & List Editor Alex “‘Distant’ Cousins” Gibbons Earwax Editor Lenny “Racist Grandma” Raney Chief Copy Editor Rosalind “Still Sitting at the Kid’s Table” Foltz Copy Staff Mickie “Fight for the Last Drumstick” Meinhardt Sean “Bringing Up Child Abuse at the Table” Kelly Lauren “Shuttle Between Mom and Dad’s House” Duca Elena “Black Friday Tramplings” Lightbourn Kaitlin “Raping the Land” Campbell Marisa “Glares From the Carnivores” Carroll Sean “Beating Uncles in a Mustache Contest” Bandfield Contributors Ramflakes, John O’Neill, Not Kate Murphy, Jonathan Gilis, Caroline Egan, Nick Murray, Throwback 90s songs, Bill Brennan, Eamon Stewart, Nancy (part 4), Kaitlin Kominsky, Jackie Wilson, Rolly Donagan, BYOB Mexican, Gregory Moomjy, Sarah Madges, Animals Attacking Humans, Alex Blalock, Will Yates, Chris Gramuglia
november 18, 2009
A Free Speech Zone at Fordham? USG Proposes a “Maroon Square” for Rose Hill to the Student Life Council by Alex Gibbons FEATURES EDITOR Last Wednesday the Student Life Committee (SLC) met in the Rose Hill Commons to discuss the proposal of a freespeech zone on campus. The zone would effectively give students unwilling or unable to comply with Fordham’s stringent demonstration policy a forum to express their opinions or dissent, and would also provide a place for student organizations to table without receiving approval from OSLCD. At the moment, students who wish to openly express themselves on campus must comply with the rules and regulations set down in Fordham’s lengthy demonstration policy. The set of rules is far too long to be reproduced here, but can be found buried in the Res Life section of Fordham’s website (please take a look). Students are not necessarily openly refused permission to protest; the University approves most requests. However, the very fact that students are required to receive permission is in itself a deterrent, as the demonstration policy can be both intimidating and disenchanting. Opinions or groups that many times go unnoticed on campus would particularly benefit from a free speech zone, especially those that run contrary to University (or Catholic) policy. The meeting attracted the attention of a handful of students who sat in silent approbation while USG President John Tully Gordon spoke at length about the importance of a free speech zone. Gordon recognized the intimidating nature of the current University demonstration policy, but stressed that the free speech zone would not replace the policy. “We always have the option of compromise, the op-
in this issue:
portunity of reason, that is exactly what Maroon Square is,” wrote Gordon in an email correspondence. “Rather than advocate changing the demonstration policy, Maroon Square will be an enhancement to it.” Gordon seeks to create a
tions, timing limitations, requirements for co-sponsorship, and other stipulations that subject students to copious amounts of paperwork and bureaucratic pedantry that can, in some situations, take up to three weeks or more to set up demonstrations.
zone perpetually reserved for students, an alternative area where students would compromise in order to gain the right to protest, table, or organize at a moments notice. Students who choose to use the free speech zone for these purposes would forfeit the right to organize anywhere else on campus. Students who chose to abide by the demonstration policy and seek University approval for a demonstration would be able to, in their request, stipulate specific locales where they wish to gather. So, while it would require students who operate within the free speech zone to remain limited to the free speech zone, it would also allow those same students to avoid the restric-
In Gordon’s eyes, Maroon Square has the potential to represent Fordham’s commitment to tolerance and intellectual discourse. At the SLC meeting, Gordon spoke not only of the frustrating demonstration policy, but also of the philosophical merits of a free speech zone, especially at an institution for higher learning and a Jesuit university. Maroon Square would also exhibit Fordham University’s trust in her students. Trust is an important issue in Maroon Square’s formation. A common detraction to the free speech zone is the claim that it could become a soapbox for hate speech. True, the opinions of students are not limited only to the intellectual or insightful. However, Gordon believes Ma-
roon Square will not degenerate to hosting beer-hall diatribes. Instead, the encouragement of discourse on campus could bring prejudices, misconceptions, or hurtful behavior into light and promote positive and progressive steps to build a stronger student community. “Above all else,” says Gordon, “I have full faith that if given this opportunity and trust, the student body at Rose Hill will rise to the occasion.” Students in the free speech zone would still be subject to University disciplinary policies, and members of USG would aid in ensuring Maroon Square is not abused. The proposal, which was handed off to Dean Rodgers and the assistant deans last Wednesday, was modeled off of several free speech zones at other private institutions. Georgetown, Santa Clara, and San Francisco University all have their own free speech zones. All three of these universities, like Fordham, are Catholic Jesuit institutions. As a USG senator last year, Gordon served as Chairman of the Commission on Speech and Expression. Gordon and Mike Recca, USG Vice President, ran for office last year they promised to work towards “improving free speech and the vibrancy of intellectual exchange at Rose Hill.” Gordon believes if Fordham University were to follow
Georgetown students take to their Red Square, a model for USG’s proposal.
Good for the heart.
MEAT MARKET p. 9
the examples set by schools like Georgetown, Fordham would place itself ahead of her competitors. “[Maroon Square] will set Fordham above many of its peer and aspirant schools,” writes Gordon in a letter to The Ram, “affirming its commitment to the Jesuit tradition of tolerance for a wide diversity of ideas and opinions.” The decision to implement a free speech zone will ultimately come down to the reactions of Dean Rodgers and the Student Life Committee. Members of SLC, many of whom had yet to review in depth the proposal, were not very vocal in their support or opposition. A few questions were raised, and the SLC members who seemed apprehensive cited possible abuse of Maroon Square as their number one concern. Gordon was adamant in his insistence that Maroon Square would not degenerate to such lows, however. The group of student spectators present at the meeting seemed to support this idea, and the absence of such content from Rose Hill’s publications, blogs, and various forums suggests that hateful ideology is not widespread, or that it is kept in the shadows by ashamed students. Ideally, students and administration members will play an active role in collaborating to see Maroon Square become a reality. At the SLC meeting, Dean Rodgers said that he thinks student-administration meetings concerning Maroon Square will “very likely be a next step down the road.” Of course, the Maroon Square proposal will be subjected to the scrutiny of the administration, so it is important for students who wish to see the creation of Maroon Square remain vocal in their support.
sports cLuB SpoRTz!
Asher Roth sucks.
CMJ Music Marathon p. 15
Disaster Porn p. 20
Fordham Rugby Wins Big p. 24
by Alex Orf NEWS CO-EDITOR
november 18, 2009
Injustice on Varick Street
NYC Immigrant Detention Center Indicative of Severe Deficiencies in National Detention, Deportation Policy
If you ever find yourself strolling westward down Houston Street and happen to come across a stately, grey-stone and brick building flying a pair of American flags at the corner of Houston and Varick, take a moment to look up at the fourth floor. What you’ll be looking at is the Varick Street Detention Center, a 250-bed facility that processes over 11,000 male immigrants a year—legal and illegal—all of whom are facing deportation. What is a federal detention center doing in the middle of Manhattan? Well, the large immigrant population in New York City—and the thousands of deportation cases that result from it—makes it necessary to have a temporary holding location while cases are resolved. In theory, Varick Street should house only those immigrants who have criminal records pertaining to their grounds for deportation, or anyone considered a flight risk. However, the Department of Homeland Security has shown very little concern for discriminating between cases with legitimate cause for deportation and cases where the offense is nothing more than a
lapsed visa or some error in bureaucratic process. This is evident in the case of Daniel I. Miller, a Romanian immigrant detained by authorities in 2008 after being paroled for a criminal conviction (signing his partner’s name on a contract). While confined in Varick, and later in Orange County Jail in Goshen, NY, Miller circulated a petition describing the detention center’s cramped, unsanitary living conditions, inadequate food, and denial of proper medical treatment (Miller himself was not allowed to check in to a hospital to treat tumors on his liver, despite urgings from his doctor). In October 2008 the petition reached the New York City Bar Association, who responded by sending volunteers to the jail to offer legal counsel to detainees. Since then, however, conditions have improved little and lawyers who volunteer find that most detainees are transferred before they can receive any legal assistance. In response, the Bar Association issued a report Monday, November 2 calling for all immigrant detainees to be provided with counsel. The report addresses a major injustice in U.S. legal precedent, namely that since immigration proceedings are civil rather than crimi-
nal, the defendant has no right to government-appointed counsel. What ends up happening, then, is that a significant percentage of detainees have to represent themselves—28% in Varick, an acceptable figure in comparison to the nationwide estimate of 58%—and those that can afford legal representation often fall victim to incompetent or uncaring representation. Practically, this means that upstanding citizens end up imprisoned for long periods of time or deported, while criminals and illegal immigrants without a solid defense spend months, even years, fighting their deportation, crowding detention centers and tying up immigration courts in the process. Ensuring legal representation for those facing deportation, while a major issue, is only one of the myriad problems with the U.S. detention system and immigration policy. The dearth of immigration judges makes those who hear immigration cases take on hundreds of cases (over 1500 for each of the 215 practicing judges in 2007); current federal funding for pro bono legal work has the stipulation, in many areas, that funding will be withheld from practices that provide assistance to immigrants facing deportation; hold-
ing centers shuffle detainees from jail to jail, often without giving notice to the defendant’s lawyer or family. While this is only a brief look at the problems, the system is very obviously broken on every level. One of the more bizarre problems specific to Varick Street is its management: since it reopened in February 2008 after seven years of disuse, the detention center has been run by Ahtna Technical Services, Inc., a subsidiary of Alaskan tribal company Ahtna Inc. Under a three-year, $79 million federal contract, Ahtna supervises the running of the facility and profits from the labor of detainees—who work for $1 a day in order to buy commissary food to supplement the meager rations the detention center provides. In the first year of operations alone, the detainees logged 23,000 days of work, at a profit to Ahtna of $227.68 per detainee per day. The reality of a private company—with 1,200 shareholders who receive dividends from Varick Street’s earnings—running a federal detention center means that ensuring the health and proper treatment of the men who pass through it come second to the shareholders’ interests; Lynn Kelly, director of the Justice Center, discov-
ered this when Varick’s warden balked at the idea of forwarding letters of legal advice to detainees who had been transferred to other jails. The inefficiencies and human rights violations of the current detention system have not escaped the notice of the Obama administration. Homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano and director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement John Morton have been working to clean up the entire system, implementing programs like the volunteer legal counsel proposed by the NYC Bar Association nationwide. On October 6, the administration made an announcement stating its core principles on the issue, promising that detention centers will be used only for those immigrants whose status merits supervision, that proper medical care will be provided to all detainees, and that cases will be resolved as expediently as possible to lessen the strain on taxpayer dollars and time spent in custody by detainees. While these are laudable steps, results may be slow in coming, and many Americans, both legal and illegal, don’t have that time to waste.
Homeless Shelter Crunch in NYC
Mayor Bloomberg Reportedly Meeting with The Cap’n for Consultation by Sarah Madges STAFF SPARE CHANGE? On October 4th, the Coalition for the Homeless released a new report alerting a “capacity crunch” in New York City’s municipal shelter system. As autumn bleeds into winter, the typical season for shelter overextension, the concern is that there just may not be enough beds, particularly for single adults. To put this strain in statistics, new data alleges an unprecedented 39,000+ homeless New Yorkers (including more than 10,000 homeless families) sleep in shelters each night. This points to the alarming trend that, in terms of homelessness, 2009 marks the worst year on record since the Great Depression. Accordingly, this past year the city of New York spent more on emergency shelter and services for the homeless than ever before. The Mayor’s Management Report cites total expenditures reaching nearly $870 million, 10% higher than last year and 60% higher than since Mayor Bloomberg took office in 2002. In fact, since 2002, New York has seen a 45% increase in municipal shelter occupants. Clearly, then, Bloomberg’s five-year-plan to limit homelessness (by two-thirds, he said) in 2004 has been an epic fail.
Its central policies included cutting off federal housing assistance and substituting federal programs for temporary rent subsidies, creating a backwards conveyor belt that led straight to shelters. Under his misguided policy, homeless people no longer have priority when applying for Section 8 vouchers or public housing—that means of the 10,000 vouchers the city will distribute for more than 5,000 rentable public housing apartments, virtually none will be supplied for homeless people. Numerous studies indicate that this now-castrated program successfully reduced family homelessness by allowing families to choose privately owned rental housing, which increases viable options for very lowincome households. Through this system, the Public Housing Authority (PHA) generally pays the landlord the difference between 30% of household income and the PHA-determined payment standard, which is about 80-100% of the fair market rent. Sophia Bryant, a formerly
homeless, disabled nurse and member of Picture the Homeless, avidly supports Section 8, saying, “All [city officials] have to do is put the money where it’s going to do the most good. And it’s not going to do good in the shelters. You’re warehousing
unemployment figures and evictions to the list of grievances. Further, Mario Mazzoni, an organizer with the tenants’ rights group Metropolitan Council on Housing, also points to the city’s favoritism of for-profit housing. Though these indicate more macro concerns, the Coalition asserts A local man shares his views that Bloomberg could on Bloomberg’s ameliorate the growcurrent policies. ing problems (not quite, but almost) as easily as he incited them. So that he stops “playing,” as Bryant put it, the Coalition has asked that Bloomberg reverse his stance, so that taxpayers move their money out of emergency shelters while the homeless move their families into permanent housing. Moreover, the Coalipeople, and you’re warehousing tion demanded that Bloomberg buildings. You have the empty accelerate development of spebuildings, and you have the cial needs-friendly housing, as people. Put them together, and more than half of the newlystop playing.” constructed supportive housing There are, of course, reasons units will not be built until at besides Section 8’s recent dis- least 2011. crimination for this unfortunate Their last request was that no-room-at-the-inn phenom- city officials, instead of referenon. The senior policy analyst ring thousands of homeless at the Coalition for the Home- adults (including those with less, Patrick Markee, adds rising mental illness) to over 120 il-
legal boarding houses subject to health and fire safety risks, maybe, just maybe, focus on sufficient shelter capacity to address this immediate and escalating need. In fact, according to a 1981 New York State Supreme Court decision and two subsequent rulings, they have to—it’s illegal for the city to deny anyone who is homeless the right to shelter. But in spite of this, and in spite of the Coalition’s finger-pointing and fact-finding, the group’s calls (they actually started rallying for expanded shelter capacity early this year) have been largely ignored. The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) Commissioner Robert V. Hess brushed off the report, telling the Coalition Who Cried Wolf that the current shelter system is “effectively meting the needs” of homeless New Yorkers. The DHS lauds Advantage NY for this alleged efficacy, calling this underdeveloped (it lasts only two years) rental subsidy program a success in the fight against homelessness. Right. I suppose city officials and the DHS can continue ignoring the sad facts until the Coalition sends hoards of homeless people to Hess’s house, or Bloomberg’s place, when the shelters inevitably reach full occupancy under New York City’s backward policies.
november 18, 2009
“Today, I was on my laptop and forgot to land a plane. MLIA.”
Airliners, The Marines, and Dunkin Donuts Staffed by Idiots by Lauren Duca STAFF IN-FLIGHT SNACK The world abounds with incompetence. You can order six large iced coffees at the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru and pull away only to realize you have three mediums, one small, and zero straws. There are people who work at the Toys ‘R’ Us in Times Square who have difficulty telling you where the massive, multi-colored Ferris wheel is located (it’s in the center of the store). And when you need to fix your Verizon Wireless bill and ask about the $23 “usage” charge, you have no chance of getting off the phone in under 45 minutes. But these people, these minimum-wagemaking coffee cashiers, retail salespeople, and customer service representatives (who are talking to you from India at 3 in the morning) all have wiggle room to be incompetent. You can pick up straws at 7-11, find the fucking Ferris wheel yourself, and eventually get that errant charge removed from your already barely-affordable bill without any major loss of life or sanity. But there are a lot of people who work more high-profile jobs who don’t have this wiggle room. When these people prove incompe-
tent, it can cause a catastrophe. ing or working at McDonald’s If a pilot, for example, were or doing other stuff that is munto lose focus, Houston, then all dane and mindless. But that’s the passengers and flight atten- okay. In February, the two pidants would really have a prob- lots of a Colgan Air flight were lem. That’s why you assume chatting idly as their plane dethe type of person who is able scended below 10,000 feet into to acquire the job of flying a Buffalo, New York. It crashed, plane would never show such a and 50 people were killed. Bereckless lapse of judgment like ing ADD when you are driving becoming disengaged in the act of controlling a 162,000-pound aircraft flying 30,000 feet in the air. That’s why you might be surprised to hear that two Northwest Airlines pilots flew 150 miles past their destination in an A320 on Tuesday because they were on their laptops. They forgot to land. More qualified This shocking event, than you. which challenges any normal person’s confidence in flying, is surpris- a passenger-filled airplane that ingly not receiving a whole lot is leagues above sea level and of publicity. In fact, some have weighs more than 81 elephants? explained the lapse by simply Not okay. claiming that “it can be tough An airliner’s entire flight to stay focused.” As Emilio can be programmed and make Corsetti III, an experienced the trip without any input. So, American Airlines pilot said, maybe the problem is over“It’s very easy to get distracted.” confidence in cruise control (as Yeah, Emilio, it is easy to get we saw with that asshole who distracted when you’re study- left the driver’s seat of his Win-
nebago to make coffee because he thought automatic settings had the whole driving thing on lock down). It may be tough to stay focused, but short of installing rainbow mobiles, these pilots are just going to have to keep themselves in gear. As Charlie Bray, who worked as a pilot for over 25 years before retiring in 2004 said, “You’re getting paid to monitor the radio and instruments on the cockpit, so that’s what you’ve got to do. That’s all there is to it.” Very logical, Charlie, thank you. It seems retardation is a renewable resource. An equally jilting event occurred the very next day, when a crew member aboard the USS Ramage fired a machine gun into a Polish port. Luckily no injuries occurred as a result of the 3 rounds from the M240, which took the Polish city of Gdynia entirely by surprise. Polish military police boarded to ship, in order to ask, “WTF?” The U.S. Navy responded in turn with an “our bad!” The crew member was cleaning the weapon.
Maybe he didn’t read Chapter 2 of the U.S. Navy Handbook: “Hey, Make Sure Your Gun Is Unloaded Before You Start Cleaning It., Asshole.” Maybe he didn’t see the sign next to the gun cleaner: Hey Doofus, Double Check That There Aren’t Bullets In That M240 Before You Press The Trigger While Aiming At A Polish Port. Either way, no report was made of his being reprimanded. Which is weird, because I was fired from Houlihan’s this summer for texting on the job, and I just feel like the possibility of Ultimate Nachos taking a couple extra minutes to come out of the kitchen pales in comparison to the possibility of Polish people perishing. I was unaware the U.S. Navy had a “Shit Happens” policy. Miley Cyrus once said, “Everybody makes mistakes, everybody has those days.” And she is right. Damn it, Miley, you never cease to amaze me with the rhinestones of wisdom that drop from your lips and onto the sleeves of your cute-but-sexy Disney Channel denim jacket! Easily found in the world around us, stupidity is rampant. Incompetence is a fact of life, one that we must perpetually deal with at the drive-thru and when flying in an airplane.
Ruben Díaz Makes a Fuss
Bronx Rep in State Senate Opposes Same-Sex Marriage Bill by Kaitlin Campbell STAFF ALLY Ruben Diaz, the father of Bronx Borough President Ruben Díaz Jr.—outspoken civil rights activist featured in our last issue who defended community needs before the development of the Kingsbridge Armory—is pushing state senators to vote “no” on a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, to be presented on Tuesday. Díaz has been clear that he is strongly opposed to gay marriage. The reasons behind his stubborn stance, however, have not been so clear. Díaz, a Pentecostal minister, backs his position with religious beliefs. “My religion doesn’t allow me to dance. But that does not mean I don’t go to the party,” he told the New York Times. “My religion is against gay marriage. It means, I don’t agree with what you do. But let’s go out. Let’s go to the movies. Let’s be friends.” When Governor Paterson re-introduced the bill to the New York State Senate in May, Díaz criticized his bad timing as it occurred close to Archbishop Timothy Dolan’s welcoming to the Diocese. “If I were Governor Paterson,” he told New York Daily News, “I would abstain from going to St. Patrick’s Cathedral for the welcoming ceremony and to celebrate Mass.”
Díaz grew up in Puerto Rico in a big family. He joined the Army out of high school, serving in Fort Jackson before he moved to New York in 1965. After he fell into drugs and was arrested for possession of heroin and marijuana, he received probation, found God, and became a pastor, community leader, city councilman, state senator. In May, on the steps of Gov. Paterson’s Manhattan office, Diaz led protestors from the association chanting, “Don’t change marriage!” and, “New York is not Sodom and Gomorrah!” Ugly Betty’s (I kid you not) Ana Ortiz, pro-gay marriage, spoke out directly against Díaz, saying, “You do not represent Latinos! You’re behind the times, papi.” The Borough President is also known as a “true believer in Christian values, in treating people the way you want to be treated,” as Christopher Lynn, a chief counsel to the senator, commented. Lynn is also gay and lives with his partner in Queens. In 1991 Díaz founded Christian Community in Action, an agency in the South Bronx to provide home health aides to
the sick and elderly. Vincent Ortiz, the supervisor there, is gay. Working with Díaz for 18 years he said was a “fight, of course,” but added that there have been “mostly good years.” Two of Díaz’s brothers are gay, as is his granddaughter. “I
reported they would vote “yes” at this point. There are 32 Democrats to 30 Republicans in the Senate, and Díaz, Kruger, and Espada are the only Democrats who would vote “no,” to the pass the bill. “Where is it written that in
Out of touch with what the kids are thinking these days.
love them,” he assured. “But I don’t believe in what they’re doing.” As one of three Democrats opposed to gay marriage in the Senate right now (self-titled “Three Amigos” with Carl Kruger and Pedro Espada), Díaz’s stubbornness could have extreme gravity, as the bill requires 32 votes to pass, and so far only 21 out of 62 Senators
order to be Democrat you have to support gay marriage?” Díaz said in a statement released last year assuring he has always been and will always be a Democrat—“a Democrat who rejects gay marriage and abortion based upon my beliefs.” His beliefs forced him to resign from the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board in 2003 for suggesting that the
Gay Games would encourage homosexuality and HIV. Because of his beliefs, he sued the city to shut down a school for gay and transgender students. Among his other vague reasons for opposing gay marriage, Díaz says that the legislature has more important things to attend to. “The people of the nation don’t want gay marriage.” He told the New York Times. “They didn’t want it in California; they didn’t want it in Maine. And the people of upstate New York, after what happened to the candidate in the 23rd congressional District, they sent a message they don’t want gay marriage. Forget about it. People don’t want it.” Tom Duane, the only openly gay State Senator in New York, called Díaz “a little bit of a bully” for how he is having Democrats promise him in writing that they will not support the bill. “It’s absurd that Sen. Diaz thinks he can bully his way on this issue,” Duane said. “I guess he thinks he hasn’t been getting enough attention, so he feels the need to bully his way to the forefront, but that’s not going to fly in the Senate anymore. He’ll get used to things running in a more democratic way.”
november 18, 2009
FAKER THAN TRUTH
South Park Does The (Other) “F” Word Popular Paper Cutouts Offend LGBT Community, But Not the paper
by Max Siegal, Sean Kelly, Sean Bandfield, and Alex Orf STAFF LIARS
by Mickie Meinhardt STAFF BIG GAY WRITER
BRONX, NY ~ Hot on the heels of the case of a Columbia University professor getting arrested in a Morningside Heights bar after a verbal altercation with a co-worker, reports of an incident at a recent Fordham University fundraising event have started to circulate. Though reports are still unconfirmed and vary on details, they all seem to involve noted theologian and president of Fordham University Father Joseph M. McShane, S.J.* and a potential donor who may or may not have been a Fordham alumnus. One eyewitness reported that at a private Family Weekend event, Fr. McShane grasped the unidentified individual by his or her throat aggressively with both hands and exclaimed, “IS DADDY MAC REALLY GONNA HAVE TO MOTHERFUCKING CHOKE A BITCH TO GET HIS MONEY?!” and then continued to violently smack the individual repeatedly with the back of his right hand. The unidentified individual’s information is still being withheld by the NYPD and Fr. McShane has refused to comment, though he has reportedly consulted with legal representation.
Comedy Central’s longest running and most popular TV show South Park has mocked almost every race, creed, ethnicity, religion, and celebrity in their 12 year career, making hundreds of enemies but millions of fans. No one, from Civil War re-enactors to starving African children to Kanye West, is safe from the searing wit of creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The satirical humor of creators manifests itself in a paper-cutout style animation of four fourth grade boys named Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny in the fictional town of South Park, Colorado, where the residents encounter every incredulous event possible – from boxing matches between Jesus and Satan to swear-wordinduced dragon attacks to a close friendship with a talking Christmas poo. Anyone who has ever turned on Comedy Central has likely seen the show at least once, and many Americans claim to watch it frequently; it reached its still-standing status as the most popular show the network had ever seen after only its 8th episode, becoming the highest rated non-sports show on all of cable TV. It is lewd, unabashedly crass, and unapologetically offensive to everyone but aims its blistering jeers without malice; the commentaries made on the show intend to point out ridiculous natures of our social conventions by highlighting (usually conservative) narrow-mindedness and hypocrisy. Parker and Stone and their staff do not actually intend to insult anyone, just to provoke a response from their viewers, encouraging them to take another look at our culture and realize just how laughable much of it is. Yet there is one problem with vulgar humor: you can’t have a show that, say, uses “shit” 162 times in one episode, without regularly pissing off some
-M.S. WASHINGTON, D.C. ~ According to sources within the U.S. Department of the Interior, the federal government, working in conjunction with the Census Bureau and individual state and local governments, will begin providing free cats to unmarried persons over the age of 50. “With a multitude of cats being necessary to the sanity and overall well-being of these individuals, we feel that it is the duty of the U.S. government to subsidize their feline purchases,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to reporters in a press conference last Friday. The amount of kittens provided will vary on a person-to-person basis, and will be contingent upon factors such as number or nieces/nephews, affinity for needlepoint, and the prevalence of embroidered throw pillows in the individual’s domicile. Extra kittens will be provided to those with over two seasons of Murder She Wrote on VHS cassette tape. S.P.K. VATICAN CITY, EARTH ~ Pope Benedict XVI declared this week that the Catholic Church would follow recent technological trends and officially endorse online worship. Recognizing the internet’s potential to beam services directly to laptops and iPhones, the Church is encouraging members to simply log on when they can’t find the motivation to actually get dressed and take a ten minute drive to church. Shane McJoseph, Catholic Spokesperson and noted theologian, elaborated on how the Church would conform its old practices to today’s technology: “Members can watch live sermons on Skype, confess their sins through e-mail, and receive atonement by blogging repeated ‘Hail Maries’ or watching Jonas Brothers videos on YouTube.” Mark Benson, a regular churchgoer, isn’t sure how he’ll adapt: “I’m really visible with my faith, and I really like to be seen going to church. I guess I’ll just have to update my Facebook status so everyone knows when I log on to worship, as well as tweet about my inimitable piousness and expensive church clothes.” -S.B. CRETE, GREEK ISLES ~ In a landmark discovery, archaeologists have unearthed what early reports claim to be a building plan by none other than the mythical architect Daedalus, mastermind behind the legendary Labyrinth to house the Minotaur. In an unexpected turn, an archaeologist on site with ties to Fordham University noticed an unmistakable resemblance to the structure of Fordham’s own Martyr’s Court. The parenthetical shape, cramped hallways, and dearth of ventilation and locatable exits were “fucking identical,” according to the architect. After looking into the school’s records, investigators found that every person involved in the dorm’s construction has since died, many under unusual circumstances. When asked for comment, Fr. Joseph McShane hostilely responded, “What do I look like, a classiscs professor?” -A.O,
whiny, humorless institution or another. Over the years many activist groups have complained about the show’s less-than-sugar-coated messages; the episode aired on Wednesday, November 4th was one such example, provoking angry responses from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). The episode, entitled “The FWord,” showed the boys changing the use of the word “fag” to refer to obnoxious Harley Davidson-riding motorcyclists. The town’s children had entirely different concepts of the word than the adults, who still
The episode satirized the touchy-feely PC clime that America has been so quick to enter of late, and it was a legitimately funny episode, one of the better I’ve seen this season. A word is just a word, and meanings can change if sentiments do. But GLAAD did not share the same view, arguing that though the attempt was admirable it fell short of the real problem: that “fag” is ultimately a deprecating word promoting discrimination toward the LGBT community. The group sent out a “Call to Action” email on November 5th, asking their members to send responses to Comedy Central saying, “…despite what the South Park writers may believe… the fact is that the word is and remains a hateful slur that is often part of the Sensitive. harassment, bullying and violence that gay people, and gay youth in particular, experience on a daily basis in this country. It is an epithet that has real consequences for real people’s lives.” They acknowledge the attempt to invalidate discriminatory words like “fag” and that the expanding nature of slang is helping to water them down but argue that they cannot ignore the roots of the insult; it was once, and still is, an insult with negative consequences for thought the word was directed at homosexuals. homosexuals, showing the rapWhile GLAAD has some idly evolving nature of contem- legitimate reasons for opposiporary slang; when the adults tion, they’re ultimately missing expressed horror at the tagging the point; South Park mocks of several town buildings with everyone, and in doing so has “Go Home Fag” or “Get Out helped reduce the impact of Faggots,” the kids were in- these archaic intolerances by credulous; they were not at all turning them into utterly riaware that people used “fag” diculous parodies. South Park’s to refer to the gay community satire is often political and thus and were unanimously using it educates its viewers on issues to affront the loud douchebag they may have overlooked othbikers. The town of South Park erwise, outing, with its liberal then attempted to have the word biases, the weak foundations of changed in the dictionary be- bullshit conservative prejudice. cause, as a gay South Park resi- Appreciate the humor, recogdent said, “We are no longer the nize the hilarity of society, and most hated group on the planet!” don’t take offense. GLAAD has In the end, the obnoxious bikers to learn to laugh with the rest of earned their new moniker, and the world. the word was changed.
november 18, 2009
The Wages of Sin is Cash by Sam Wadhams ARTS CO-EDITOR Let’s take a moment to imagine a company. This company is enormous, global, farreaching, politically involved. It has a tremendous history of both shocking human rights abuses and positive community involvement. It makes buttloads of cash, but it does it by curing disease. This disease has no symptoms, is diagnosed by no doctor, endorsed by no one outside the company, would not even be thought to exist if not for zealous assurances by the only company that sells the cure. But it sells the cure by the truck. In case you don’t read titles, the disease is sin, the company, an organized religion in the form of the Catholic Church.* But let’s also take a step back before you shred this issue, dip it in lamp oil, and form a mob in front of my house with your makeshift paper torches. I’m not suggesting that the Catholic Church is an avaricious snake-oil machine, looking for more and more people to grind in its mill like so many male baby chicks. Jesus, you’d get slow-roasted over a hot spit for saying something like that. I’m only saying that it really looks that way. At the end of last month, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI delivered a message to Anglicans dissatisfied with the growing liberalism in their church, which I recommend you read aloud in your finest blue buttonup shirt (and too-soon) Billy Mays voice:
Catholic Church Gives Free Pass to Angry Anglican Homophobes
“HI, BENNY MAYS HERE, ARE YOU UPSET BECAUSE YOUR CHURCH HAS GOTTEN TOO GAY? WHEN YOU WALK INTO YOUR RELIGIOUS HOUSE OF WORSHIP DOES IT MAKE YOU WANT TO CLAW AT YOUR EYES LIKE A HARPY AND SPEAK IN TONGUES? MILLIONS OF PEOPLE ARE HAVING YOUR SAME PROBLEM! BUT NOW THERE’S A BRAND-NEW SOLUTION, POPEGAIN. POPEGAIN WORKS BY REPLACING YOUR SHODDY, INCLUSIVIST PROTESTANTISM WITH GOOD OLD CATHOLIC DOGMA. NO MORE GAYS, MARRIED PRIESTS, WOMEN, OR JEWY LOOKING PEOPLE WILL BOTHER YOU ON YOUR GOLDEN ROAD TO SALVATION! BUT, IF YOU CALL RIGHT NOW, WE CAN GET YOU A SPECIAL GIFT! FOR THE NEXT 20 MINUTES, WE’RE BRINGING BACK PLENARY INDULGENCES! ARE YOU FEELING REAL BAD ABOUT KILLING THAT STRIPPER OR PROWLING THE NEIGHBORHOOD AT NIGHT MURDERING STRAY DOGS? WELL, NOT ANY MORE! IF YOU CALL AND GET POPEGAIN IN THE NEXT TWENTY MINUTES, YOU’LL GET TWO FREE PLENARY INDULGENCES! IT MEANS I PERSONALLY FORGIVE YOU FOR ANYTHING, AND I’M THE FUCKING VOICE OF GOD.”** But aside from providing
ludicrously offensive fake Pope sayings, what does the Pope’s invitation to Anglicans mean? This year, in Forbes’ first-ever World’s Most Powerful People rankings, His Holiness didn’t even crack the top ten, coming in behind people like Barry
American gross-overconsumption wield more influence than the head of what is arguably the most powerful organization in history? I couldn’t tell you; I’m not a religious scholar or anthropology major. I’m just the teary-
Pope Benedict XVI, huckster for Jesus.
Obama, Chinese President Hu “Hu’s on First” Jintao, those nerds from Google, and, finally, the guy who runs Wal-Mart. What does it say about the state of the modern Catholic Church that the guys who made it easier to find porn on the internet and the head of the symbol of
eyed, hand-wringing voice of the masses and it would be hilariously foolish to try to predict the doom of the Catholic Church, which will finally cease to exist a year or so after the sun explodes. But, well, you came here looking for meaning, and I’ll give it to you even if I
have to make it up. An invitation for the Anglicans to join the Catholic Church is a reaction both to the decreasing and liberalizing of religion in the West. Many of the Anglicans the Catholic Church is hoping to attract are not the gay-loving New Hampshirites, but more traditional bishops, especially in Africa. There are about 37 million Anglicans in Africa, a significant chunk of the 77 million worldwide. Many of these parishes are the ones responding negatively to American promotion of gays and women to the priesthood and are more likely to return the Pope’s calls. Any way you slice it though, there’s something a little strange about Catholicism, the dominant sect of Christianity, trying to actively recruit people who they split with over difference of opinion. There was quite a bit of bloodshed and hurt feelings that stemmed from Henry’s refusal to just grit out being married like everyone else, and a new union based around a mutual distaste for gays and chicks talking about God is shaky footing to build a bridge on. But, as a lapsed Espiscopalian/pseudoAnglican, I think I’m going to keep getting my snake oil the same place I always have: Google and Wal-Mart. *Obviously these complaints get leveled at all religions. Today it’s the Catholics, but the Scientologists will get their due. **Obviously the Pope never said this. Lighten up.
IT’S HARD OUT HERE FOR A PIMP
A REALER THAN FACT SPECIAL REPORT!
Comedian Katt Williams was arrested on Monday, November 9 for allegedly burglarizing the home of a caretaker of record producer Barry Hankerson’ estate where Williams was living, in Coweta County, Georgia. He was charged with attempting to steal $3,500 in jewelry. Released the following day on $41,150 bond, Williams maintains that the incident was a misunderstanding between the caretaker, local authorities, and himself. If investigators deem it necessary, Williams will soon have to appear in court. Here are the important quotations that the paper’s crack team of reporters have been able to compile from the internets. They’re all real gems.
Speaking with local reporters, Williams explained that he did gain forced entry into the caretaker’s home in order to “turn on the lights so that horses on the property would not become frightened by their own reflection” that they might see in panes of glass near the stables.
Williams, speaking outside of the Coweta County jail on November 10 after being released, said “Sometimes in America it’s hard to know what things are just by the way they look.”
Local Georgia WSB-Channel 2 reporter Eric Philips noted that Williams said to him that he “did not resort to stealing when he was homeless and certainly would not do so as a millionaire.”
In response to the allegation that he would purposefully steal jewelry, William Briggs, William’s attorney, noted that “Mr. Williams wears more than that [$3,500 in value] in jewelry on his person.”
We’re rooting for ya, Katt. Love and respect, the paper.
november 18, 2009
NASA Confirms Satellite Found Water on Moon
Scientific Community Gets Collective Space Boner
by Max Siegal NEWS CO-EDITOR This past Friday, NASA scientists confirmed reports that the “LCROSS” satellite that was purposely crashed into the southern pole of the lunar surface on October 9th of this year uncovered considerable amounts of water on the Moon. Project scientist Anthony Colaprete, his pocket protector bulging with excitement, announced at a November 13th press conference, “I’m here today to tell you that indeed, yes, we found water. And we didn’t find just a little bit; we found a significant amount.” This “significant” amount is no exaggeration, as NASA noted that the satellite collected close to twenty-five gallons of the stuff, though it was in the form of ice due to the cold and heartless vacuum of space. That might not be enough agua for your morning shower, but in terms of mankind’s understanding of the Moon, this is a major event. First, let’s talk some about the back story. The satellite, named the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (or “LCROSS,” as mentioned before), cost the National Aero-
nautics and Space Administration $79 million, which in terms of America’s space program is roughly the equivalent spent on engineering the toilet seats of the current Space Shuttle OV-105 Endeavour. Seriously, Ron Howard spent more on the catering budget for Apollo 13. However, this small allocated sum was not a result of the credit crunch or any other government cutbacks. The whole project, in fact, was actually delivered on time and slightly under-budget. LCROSS was a “Class D” mission, denoting it had the highest risk of failure. Once-in-a-lifetime missions and those with human passengers are considered “Class A” missions and carry a high cost in time and money to ensure that the equipment won’t fail and the astronauts involved don’t get their eyeballs sucked out of their heads. The extra testing, custom-built gear, and redundant equipment all drive up costs to levels that give even members of Congress pause. With LCROSS and projects like it, though, NASA can instead launch more risky mis-
sions instead of just a handful of marquee ones, and reap more rewards even if some fail. It’s like investing in penny stocks
about how LCROSS went about collecting water samples, one cannot help but wonder just how long NASA geeks were LARPing in the office after hours before they came up with Not the the idea. The satellite, once same thing. it entered the lunar orbit, essentially operated in two stages, the first unit separating from the main body and impacting with the Moon before the second unit followed behind to gather data. Slamming into the lunar surface at roughly 5,592 miles per hour (that’s over seven times the speed of sound, 8,201 feel per second, or really fucking fast), stage one of LCROSS was designed only to bury itself deep into a slice of moon cheese and explode long-buried sediment into the lunar atmosphere. NASA estimated the ensuing crater at measuring sixty to one hundred feet wide and the plume of moon smoke at six miles up from the surface. The second unit then flew through the cloud or playing nickel slots, just with of debris and took samples, tens of millions of taxpayer’s readings, and other data that was then relayed and returned to dollars. Indeed, when you also read home base. Just to recap, then,
NASA spent almost $80 million to more or less crash something into the Moon at fuck-all speed, not knowing in any conclusive manner if they would find water, or anything for that matter. Suddenly Reagan’s Star Wars nuclear missile defense lasers don’t sound so ridiculous. NASA, though, got lucky this time around. The big, questions is, then, what happens next? Given that the scientific community still has its collective lab coat tightywhiteys in a duo-decahedral twist, nothing immediately. However, the information collected could have various significant ramifications. Depending on the age of the ice (we’re talking about the potential for billions of years old), we may be able to determine more about the evolution of our solar system, much more than the ice core samples that scientists have taken from Earth’s poles. Additionally, there may be traces of other organic compounds, which could mean new horizons for lunar exploration. Either way, for what sounds like an incredibly expensive interstellar drunk-driving accident, NASA sure struck pay dirt. To infinity and beyond!
Mediterranean Sea Suffers From a Nasty Cold Mankind Ruining Oceans Causes Sea Mucilage Problem by Sean Kelly STAFF GESUNDHEIT Back in 1729, the Mediterranean Sea reported a slight cough and chest congestion. Italian sailors and physicians, thinking nothing of it, attributed the condition to mare sporco (“dirty sea”), and told the ailing sea to rest up, ingest a strong tincture of opium, and prepare for a few centuries of overfishing and pollution. The sea followed the doctor’s orders diligently, but the condition only worsened. The cough became stronger, the congestion more pronounced, and the poor Mediterranean found itself riddled with large, floating masses of bacteria and virus-ridden mucus that clogged nets, suffocated hapless fish and horrified bathers from Gibraltar to the Bosporus. When reached for comment, the Mediterranean gurgled pitifully and hacked up a 100 kilometer-wide snot rocket onto the shores of Algeria. Yes, the Mediterranean has a mucus issue, and a big one at that. Within the last thirty years, the prominence of marine mucilage, colloquially known as “sea mucus,” has increased exponentially, and, aside from causing environmental issues ranging from the spread of diseases such as e-coli to suffocating millions of fish, is entirely revolting and
bizarre. A marine mucilage is essentially a giant ball of dead organic matter formed from the aggregation of what is known as marine snow. Marine snow occurs when organic matter close to the surface of the sea, consisting of things such as fecal matter, dead fish scales, soot, sand, and tiny organisms like plankton, collect into ‘flakes’, usually in the form of loose clusters and long, slimy strands. Over time, these flakes coalesce into large masses, which in turn collect more masses to form an even larger ball of disease and dead things; a mucilage to rival even the chest cavity of a bronchitis-infected two-packa-day smoker. Due to the mostly organic composition of these mucus masses, they are rife with bacteria and viruses such as e-coli and fecal colliform bacteria, which can be easily and quickly transmitted to anyone or anything that comes into contact with the mucilage. Though marine mucilage has only recently become a hazard in the Mediterranean
ly horrifying in almost every regard and offensive to all aspects of decency and goodness, marine mucilage poses a huge environmental and economic problem for seafaring nations in all regions of the Mediterranean. Primarily, these tasty little morsels threaten the Forgive the low-resolution picture, but fishing industries that is a MAN-SIZED glob of sea mucus. of just about every EWWWWWWW. coastal nation in the region. Aside from creating obstructions from net fishing and trawling, mucilage has the potential to spread harmful disease through infected fish flesh. Since these masses tend to float in middledepth waters before eventually sinking to the ocean floor, ed, overfished, or both, and in many species of fish nibble on areas with warm surface water them or become caught in the temperatures. With the rampant sticky mess, effectively infectpollution and overfishing that ing themselves with e-coli and has taken place since the 18th a veritable cornucopia of other century and a general upward harmful microorganisms. These trend in water surface tempera- fish are then caught, handled, ture in the Mediterranean due to distributed and eaten, spreadglobal warming, the increased ing disease to those who handle prevalence of mucilage in the them and to those who consume region seems like a natural con- them. This has the potential to sequence and is of little surprise devastate and almost completeto marine experts. ly ruin many small towns and Aside from being complete- villages on the Mediterranean region, they have been around for nearly three centuries (mucilage was first reported in the Adriatic Sea by Italian sailors in 1729). Marine biologists and environmental scientists have concluded that mucilage tends to form in areas that are pollut-
coast whose economies are supported by their fishing industries. In addition to potentially wreaking havoc on small fishing communities, the unchecked growth of marine mucilage may also take a toll Mediterranean tourism. Mucilage often washes up on beaches and, in some cases, forms and stays close to coastlines (in March 2007, mucilage was reported to have extended 1,500 miles along Italy’s Adriatic coast). Naturally, an immense wad of, well, snot marring an otherwise serene and beautiful sandy-white beach on the sky-blue Mediterranean is quite the turn off for tourists, as is the possibility of becoming entangled in disease-infested boogers while going for a romantic honeymoon swim on the French Riviera. If these masses continue to spawn and grow, many beaches and resorts along the Mediterranean coast may have massive cleanups ahead of them, or may become unsuitable for tourism. These repulsive, slimy, evil balls of snot and pestilence would repel tourists from formerly scenic beaches and cover them with harmful germs and rotting organic matter; not exactly the ideal for a week away in the Greek Isles or the Amalfi Coast.
november 18, 2009
Father to Son, Lamb to Lamb Chop By Sam Wadhams STAFF ARTS CO-EDITOR
learn the first thing I need to know about being a butcher the minute I wake up. It’s 5:45 a.m., miserable, damp, and bone cold. I settle the tired knot in the pit of my stomach and pull my collar up against the rain. New York may be “the city that never sleeps,” but for the butchers at Vincent’s Meat Market, New York never sleeps in. I arrive at Vincent’s, on the corner of Arthur Avenue and 186th Street, ten minutes late, to meet the owner, Peter DeLuca, who will show me the basics of butchering. DeLuca, 52, is about five-foot-six, with an average build and the uniquely throaty voice of heavy smoking New Yorkers. The shop is long and narrow, cut in half by the thirty five foot polished steel counter that displays two shelves of every piece of any animal imaginable. The prices vary wildly, from $1.79 a pound for pig feet to $16.99 for filet mignon. D e L u c a ’s story is classic New York. Vincent DeLuca, his father, emigrated from Italy when he was 17 years old, working various jobs until he found his calling as a butcher. In 1954 he opened the original Vincent’s on Morris Avenue. In 1980, when Vincent died, Peter dropped out of college at Fordham to continue the family business, moved the shop to its current location on Arthur Avenue, and has been working there with his Uncle Nino ever since. I explore the shop, and gradually more of DeLuca’s employees trickle in. They’re almost all mustached Hispanics wearing Yankee caps, and they follow Michaca’s lead, moving the meat to racks in earlymorning monotonous silence under the low buzz of fluorescent lights and bug-zapper lamps. At around 7:30 a.m. our first customer of the day comes in: an upscale-looking, balding, middle-aged white guy. He and DeLuca chat across the counter as DeLuca piles beef, sausage, and chicken onto the counter, sending him away with what must have been a thirty-pound order. DeLuca knew his order before he got there and how he liked it (three and a half-pound chicken, bone-in chops). At 8:00 a.m. the first delivery truck brings a load of lamb carcasses from Pennsylvania. The lambs are unloaded onto
people’s shoulders one by one in a cartoonish and macabre procession. DeLuca estimates he goes through approximately 40,000 pounds of meat a week. “Well, about 20 percent of that’s waste,” Deluca says, “Then we sell to restaurants in the city, deliver from Manhattan to Greenwich, and ship as far as California and Texas.” For such a large-scale operation, DeLuca’s equipment is surprisingly sparse; there’s a band saw for slicing through bone, a vacuum sealer, a meat grinder, a deli slicer, and a sausage maker. But while DeLuca buzzes around the front of his shop, the action in the back never stops. There’s something heartwarming about DeLuca’s respect for his customers, but this emotion pales in comparison to the reck-
“You’re in this business long enough, you get cut. Here I put a knife clean through my hand,” he motions at a scar on his thumb, “and here, I sliced my wrist to the bone.” His worst injury is on his right middle finger. “I caught this finger in the saw. I was cutting some meat and a customer came and tapped me on the back. I turned around without thinking and put my finger in the saw, it split it pretty much in half.” There’s some element of horror to a butcher’s shop that extends beyond the bloody stories and scars. The walk-in freezer contains cows by the quarter and upside-down, headless, bloodless sheep – one without an upper torso. In the rack out front there are hearts, livers, snouts, and ears. A gaggle of teenage girls walk by the front of the shop, and one screams at the lidless stare and toothy grin of a skinless lamb’s head. The butchers, Michaca in particular, can cut an adult sheep carcass perfectly in half, down the spine from the haunches through the skull, in about We died for this article. four calm hacks of a cleaver. All less dexterity of his meat cut- of this, however, serves to reters. One man feeds beef into mind us where our meat comes the grinder with his bare hands. from. While it may be disconAnother clasps his hands on certing to see the inside half of a one-inch steak as though in what is obviously a cow (sans prayer and cuts it in half on the skin, head, and feet) lying on band saw without stopping the a table, in ten minutes of trimstory he’s telling. One employ- ming fat and by four passes at ee, Peter Baggio, encourages the band saw DeLuca turns me to sample the raw filling of death into a hand-sized stack of lamb sausage. “I eat raw meat fresh T-bones. all the time,” Baggio says, “not The neighborhood butcher constantly, but a little here, a shop has become an anachrolittle there. My father ate raw nism. Butchering now is almeat, my grandfather ate raw most always done off-site, Sameat, I come from a long line ran-wrapped, and left to sit for of raw meat eaters. There’s no days on supermarket shelves. health effects.” I try a pinch of There’s no longer the same deraw sausage. It tastes like meat mand for a skillful and availbut with a more urgent, potent able meat cutter to get you from flavor. Baggio may be on to meal to meal. DeLuca’s craft is something. Even beyond this an exception. “I still get some recklessness, the employees’ of my father’s original clients, skill is absurd. Without ever who have been coming to me seeming to be overworked a for sixty years. Not as many pair of men turn the front-right nowadays, they’re passing on, quarter of a cow into steaks in but their kids come to me, too.” about 15 minutes, then start I mention to DeLuca that he over on the opposite side. Fat seems to be always jovial, alis effortlessly sliced off, a whole ways smiling. “I love what I do. leg turned into a stack of shanks Be happy, or you can’t be sucin under a minute. DeLuca’s cessful. I’m successful because butchers work and move like I can come into work every day athletes in a soon-to-be legend- happy, and work hard.” As Deary game, never hesitating, nev- Luca tells me this, I look past er a misstep. him to a framed picture mountBut all this does not come ed on the wall. It can only be without consequences. When Vincent DeLuca, placed so he asked if he has any scars, De- can oversee his shop, every Luca shows me a carnival of minute of every day. He, too, horrors on his hands and wrists. is smiling.
the paper’s view november 18, 2009 “Watch yo’self”
t was a Saturday night, not unlike most Saturday nights in the Bronx. The young Fordham gentlemen were collarpopping, hair-gelling, womenobjectifying, and pre-gaming, whilst the young Fordham ladies were hair-doing, skirt donning, girl-talking, and – yes – pre-gaming. Meanwhile, we at the paper were hard at work trying to wrench the latest issue of this little rag from the womb of inspiration. Somewhere in the fourteenth hour of labor, we decided we could not deliver the thing au naturale, as the good Lord above intended. No, we were going to need some painkillers, possibly a C-section. Unable to find any Demerol or morphine at such a tardy hour, we went to the failsafe drug of choice: Jungle Juice. We traipsed about the Belmont community, our very much pregnant publication very much in tow, to find a location in which to imbibe our pain managers. En route to our final destination, an apartment on Hoffman Street, we couldn’t help but notice a slew of Fordham’s best and brightest on the sidewalk with us, shouting up at another group of Fordham students on an apartment balcony. In the 2 a.m. calm around the corner from Tri-Bar, they broke out in a cacophonous roar, singing, in all kinds of off-key, “Will You Be My Girl?” We maneuvered our way around the stumbling bodies and quickly made our way off mix our Kool-Aid / vodka concoction. Now, we at the paper are the last people to knock a good sing-along. Though we personally prefer to belt out tunes like “Don’t Speak,” “The Sign,” and “Jesus Built My Hotrod,” the idea of people getting together with a drink or ten and singing their hearts out is enough to garner our full support. And it wasn’t the vocal merit either. Hell, we certainly didn’t sign up for Fordham Idol. No, our primary issue was the whole “shouting in a residential area at two in the fucking morning” thing. See, contrary to what seems to be a popular belief amongst students, the Belmont community is neither a part of Fordham’s campus nor even primarily inhabited by Fordham students. Which means, yes, there are people in the area who have families and jobs and reasons to wake up before noon on
Sunday (or any other day of the week, for that matter), and maybe drunkenly belting out popular songs while the working world is sleeping causes something of a disruption. You might recall a little monolith of an article published in our September 23rd issue entitled, “Fordham is our school. The Bronx may not be our campus.” If you missed it, here’s the recap: paper writer Kaitlin Campbell interviewed local residents asking their opinions of Fordham students and their relationship with the community. The summation response was from Pablo Sanchez: “[The students] are not a problem themselves, it’s the way they carry themselves. They get too drunk, harass innocent bystanders, and make too much noise.” We know it’s a fine line, and a block and a half away in the Tri-Mecca of Tri-bar, we probably wouldn’t have thought too much of it outside of, “Well, they sure are drunk.” And if you’re going to throw a house party, we’re probably going to be there. The real problem here is the sense of entitlement that accompanies such raucous behavior, the bitching and incredulousness accompanying a party being busted, the feeling that it is okay to be so loud in the middle the night. It is a feeling that manifests itself in the throngs of inebriation, sure, but it is an attitude that we notice is rooted in alarmingly sober consciousnesses in our student body. Because what we bring to the community, economically, does not matter. Tino’s is going to pay the bills with or without us, as are the grocery stores, bodegas, pastry shops, etc. The inflated rent we pay only helps the real estate owners, most of them not residents of our neighborhood. Our presence actually closes the doors of residency here to some, with constructs like “Fordham Students Only” apartment buildings. This is not to suggest that we can necessarily change the latter problem, though it is unfortunately antithetical to much of the ideology our university espouses. The point is this: what we provide for the community cannot be found in our wallets, it can only be found in ourselves, and it would be nice if those things weren’t vomit, urine, and a bellowing chorus of voices in the wee hours.
november 18, 2009
Healthcare Reform TIMECUBE: Turn One Lame-Ass Day and Regress Into Four Lame-Ass Days! by Nick Murray STAFF PARTY HOPPER I’ve been agreeing with a lot of Republicans lately. This should surprise the editors at the paper, and if my family found out they’d probably demote me to the kiddie table this Thanksgiving, but what can I say? It’s true. I’ll start with Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele, whose address in front of the College Republicans’ flowery Berlin Wall exhibition inspired this column (by the way guys, I may be agreeing with your side as of late, but if that’s what you think graffiti looks like you may be even more out of touch than I thought). Steele told the group of about thirty, “Don’t wait for permission to get engaged, to tear down the walls before they even really get formed.” This is why I’d like to talk about abortion. I’ll start by saying that, as I write this, some walls are finally on their way down. The health care bill, titled America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, recently passed the House of Representatives and is the first step to extending coverage to all Americans. It brings our nation one step closer to recognizing that health care is not a privilege but a right. It even contains a public option. That being said, there are problems. This public option is weak. The bill eliminates some avenues down which insurance companies can dismiss those who need care most, but thankfully it does not eliminate all of them. Thus the government may end up covering a disproportionate number of those needing care, potentially raising cost of the public option above the cost of private insurance. Meanwhile, the White House cut a deal with the pharmacy lobby, agreeing not to eliminate a 2003 law preventing Medicare from negotiating drug prices. There are plenty of other issues but none great enough for Joe Congressman to vote against the bill. At least, this was the case until the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, introduced hours before the vote and adopted by a margin of 240-194. Democrats first showed their willingness to compromise women’s rights in September when Obama addressed a joint session of Congress. As majestic as ever, he held his chin high and enunciated the words as his prompter fed them. Unfortunately, twelve of those words had to be, “Under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions.” Not even a compromise, this
was a straight concession, one that should have satisfied even the reactionaries in charge of Republican Party. But of course, it didn’t, and for that reason we have the Stupak-Pitts Amendment. The Amendment doesn’t just prohibit the use of federal money to pay for abortions but prohibits it “to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion.” Because approximately 80 percent of participants in the exchange outlined in the bill will be subsidized, plans will have no choice but to discontinue offering “the full range of reproductive health options” as a column on the subject in last Thursday’s New York Times puts it. Meanwhile, the bill’s title becomes slightly ironic. The amendment’s defenders claim that women looking for that full range of reproductive options may purchase a “rider,” yet the example of North Dakota shows why this is essentially meaningless. The state requires women seeking abortions under its Medicaid program to purchase a similar rider, yet the insurance plan that has 91 percent of the market share offers no such rider. Neither do any of the five top insurance plans for individuals. So who wrote such a regressive piece of legislation? A pair of fringe GOPers using ink from their 9/12 Project commemorative pens? Not at all. In fact, the eponymous Stupak is a Democrat. But it’s not just Stupak: 63 Dems accompanied him in support of this amendment. Unsurprisingly, not one Republican voted No, not even FORDHAM ALUMNUS Anh Cao. Again, a Republican is making some sense. His column, Libertas et Veritas, can be found on page 7 of that same issue of The Ram, where he writes, “A man has a responsibility not just to himself and to truth but to the people he represents, not to cowtow to popular movements or bend under pressure.” Right on! Why are our Congressmen cowtowing to reactionary demands when these demands contradict their own beliefs, the beliefs of the people they represent, and, dare I say, the truth? Bend under pressure? The people have once again been happy to do so and have once again failed us. In a passage that nearly brings a tear to my eye, he continues, “What of compromise? Hasn’t it given us anything good? Surely, but it didn’t give us an American Revolution. It didn’t give us civil rights, and it certainly didn’t give us our freedom.” That’s something we all can agree on.
by Sean Kelly STAFF CUBOLOGIST Since the inception of this fine nation and the penning of the great document known as the U.S. Constitution, we as Americans have always enjoyed unprecedented freedom of worship and belief. Free from tyranny, an almost entirely untouched and unknown continent laying before them, and with the fire of revolution still running through the collective veins of the public, the founding fathers and drafters of the Constitution saw it fit to grant the people of this fledgling republic freedom to worship (or not worship) in any way, shape, or form that they saw fit and swore never to give special government preference to any religious institution or faith. With separation of church and state standing as the official doctrine of the land, America became a haven for religious refugees, freethinkers, and all those seeking to leave oppression and prejudice behind. Tolerance and diversity flourished as a result of this influx of new faiths and ideas, and all was well in the United States… …But for how long? With Islamic fundamentalism, ultra-right-wing Christian neo-conservatives, and religious tension and hatred seeming to run rampant in today’s American religious landscape, one is left to wonder: can people of different faiths truly exist harmoniously under one unified government, and can the differences inherent in their beliefs be reconciled for the greater good? More and more with each passing year, the answer seems to be ‘no.’ So, what is to be done? Infringing on religious freedom runs completely contrary to American ideals, and any government intervention on an individual’s faith and religious practices would be sure to unleash unprecedented public outrage. However, there is another American ideal at stake here, one that may be important enough to override the freedom of religion that the United States has been so well known for. That ideal is unity. Perhaps if we find an all-encompassing belief system, something universal and applicable to people from all walks of life, then the American public can be unified
once and for all under a faith for a new era of commonality, unity, and scientific knowledge. It is with these hopes deep in my heart and burning through my bosom that I ask, nay, implore, America to take on a state religion: TIMECUBE. Timecube is a theory created (or, rather, discovered) by Doctor of Cubology and selfproclaimed “Wisest Man on Earth” Gene Ray. The doctrine of Timecube aims to ascertain the true nature of the universe, free from the fetters of what
truth, and desiring intellectual freedom and equality for all, Timecube belongs at the very front of America’s collective belief system and deserves federal support as the state religion of the United States. If Timecube is instituted as the officially endorsed public faith of the USA, the public will drop all religious tension and strife not out of necessity or out of mutual understanding but rather out of sheer bewilderment. The people of the United States will stand wide-eyed and slack-jawed beHip to be Cube.
Ray calls “dumb-ass educators” and others who preach lies and indoctrinate the world’s youth under the false pretense of “ONE-ism,” the evil and erroneous notion that there is but one 24 hour day per each rotation of the Earth. Essentially, Timecube states that time is organized in the form of a cube and that there is not one, but rather four full 24-hour days per each rotation of the Earth. Dr. Ray maintains that academics, scientists, and educators the whole world over are aware of the existence of Timecube but choose to corrupt the youth by preaching ONEism in order to keep the world population ignorant of the true nature of time and the universe. These evil priests of ONE-ism intend to keep the public ignorant so that they may maintain their status as revered members of society and fountains of wisdom, while three full days per every ONE-ist version of a day go completely unseen and unnoticed by the poor, ignorant masses. Revolutionary in nature, seeking to overthrow the established order in the name of
fore the profound and infinite wisdom of Dr. Gene Ray (who will be instated as “Emperor of the Public Intellect”) and will forget their petty squabbling and picayune formalities when the realize that all they have formerly believed in is nothing more than a sham: a cleverlymaintained façade perpetuated by the evil academic ruling class and stifling the free flow of knowledge, truth, and all things cubic. Yes, Timecube has the potential not only to resolve all religious strife and conflict the whole world over but also to usher in a new era of intellectual development and the global spread of truth with America at the forefront, blazing a new trail for Cubology. It is with these concerns in mind that I implore the American public to set down their differences and see the truth. With Timecube as the official belief of the United States of America, unity, not hatred, will run rampant throughout the nation, and our minds will be free to see the universe from all sides, all six of them.
november 18, 2009
by John O’Neill STAFF CITY-HOPPER With its seemingly unlimited source of alcohol and cool museums, an infinite number of good places to shop and eat, and relative sense of safety and cleanliness, New York seems like an urban paradise nobody in the right mind would ever wish to depart. Yet, I did exactly that this weekend, making my way south to the city of Philadelphia. Having allotted myself thirty five dollars to spend this weekend, I was able to make my way via Bolt Bus there and back and explore a great American city. Admittedly, my fairly inexpensive trip was subsidized by having a friend attending college in the city, which allowed a free room and my ability to mooch off of her meal passes in the cafeteria. That said, a day trip to this often overlooked American metropolis could also be easily manageable and likely
tremendously pronounced contrast between the bustle of the business day and the eerie hum of night. More activity can be found along the southern, more residential side of Center City, the home of picturesque Rittenhouse Square, a square puzzlingly kept devoid of anyone seeming not to fit the neighborhood demographic. Delancey, Spruce, Pine, and Panama are just a few of the magnificent east-west streets lined with affluent century old townhomes and slate sidewalks which help define this splendid corner of Center City. Although slick office towers define many blocks, people crowd the sidewalks of south Broad Street, and walking through several blocks of opulent townhomes, the city’s sadder side is ever apparent. Be it the uncomfortable feeling of walking past the pornographic theater on west Market, or the multitudes of beleaguered men
They sure don’t have this in New York... as rewarding. Philadelphia, now America’s sixth largest city, rests on the banks of the Delaware River and holds a treasure trove of interesting neighborhoods, squares, parks, and avenues. The city is one of mixed images, a tourist haven much like Boston, New York, and Washington D.C. On the other hand, many see it is as an aging industrial relic grappling with severe issues of crime, poverty, urban blight, and homelessness, of the likes of Baltimore, Richmond, and Cleveland. Although I cannot say that I found myself walking the vacant rowhouse lined streets of North Philadelphia, I do believe that this evident urban grit adds a certain quality to it which New York supposedly has lost in recent years. Philadelphia has a definitively unique urban feeling to it, although losing some of its uniqueness after an informal city building height regulation began to be ignored beginning in 1987, a trend which lead to several Center City blocks being leveled for shiny glass office towers and nondescript concrete parking ramps. Unlike Manhattan, Center City is a place which seems to go largely quiet after dark. The area west of Broad Street has a
sleeping in vacant doorways, Philadelphia still provides a level of discomfort to one who prides himself on being city savvy and confident. The city’s pain and half century of state neglect became ever more evident as we walked further east and north. The city’s homeless abound, left to sleep in the streets and alleys, one image that remains most pronounced to me is that of a man laying above a steaming grate on Market Street. An initially friendly, then slightly intimidating, and once again friendly encounter with a heavy set man who went by the name of Rollins, was had while walking to the 11th Street Septa subway station. Rollins was a helpful fellow, but then began to change his tone into a fuzzy demand or plea for money or subway tokens; upon receiving two subway tokens Rollins gave me a hearty handshake before going off to bother another passerby. We made our way below into the station only to find ourselves entering the temporary home of a number of people. One man lay sleeping or passed out on the faded yellow glazed tiles of the station floor; another sat talking quietly to himself with a large black plastic bag by his side. The beleaguered multi-
racial mix of men inhabited the quiet late night station, and the husky Septa official seemed to take little notice or issue from the interior of her booth. Standing by the attendant’s booth with my friend for close to fifteen minutes, having missed the latest blue line westbound train, we stood and watched as a few more people straggled into the station. A particularly friendly man took up a place next to us leaning against the emergency gate. I noticed him pay for his token in a collection of coins. The man made small talk with me about the cold weather. I told him it wasn’t so bad for a kid from Wisconsin, and we proceeded to make further conversation about NFL football until the train arrived. When the cars pulled into the station, my friend and I made our way aboard while I noticed him take a seat along the interior dividing fence, likely making what would be his place of sleep tonight warm until receiving his morning wake up from a Philadelphia police officer. Later, while standing on the 25th floor recreation room at one of Penn’s triad of upper classmen dorm towers, staring at the lines and configurations of lights which defined night in Philadelphia, I felt particularly sad thinking about the man slouching to a rest. I began to truly appreciate the city at my view, and the gifts that I have in being able to come and experience it. Philadelphia is a lot of things, a working city, a blue collar city, and a decisively multicultural city. It has yet to really develop the flavorless gentrified feel of so many other cities, and for that I have to say I love Philadelphia. There’s no shortage of grit here in New York, in the Bronx most especially, but if you’ve got a couple dollars waiting around and a day that would otherwise be spent sleeping in and ended by going to Tinker’s, go down to Philadelphia and do something different. For those of you who seldom take advantage of the magnificent gifts the city has to offer, put Philadelphia on your to do list, and allot some of your weekend money to going to a movie or a museum. For those of you acquainted with the city, even the real city outside of Manhattan, give the world outside our 304.8 square miles a visit. If you’ve got some extra money laying around, give Philadelphia a day trip. If you have a friend in the city you haven’t seen lately, hit them up, and do some mooching; it will be well worth your two hour bus or train trip through New Jersey.
From our Wide Readership: Response to “Respect for Lies?” Caroline Egan’s October article “Respect for Lies?” raised an excellent point concerning the sensitivity of the Pro-Life advertisements across campus. Though I have not seen the “Who Loves Abortions?” posters, I can agree wholeheartedly that such a campaign would be both tactless and unconvincing. That being said, I feel that Ms. Egan’s hostile and dismissive tone toward the Pro-Life movement will achieve little in the way of convincing. Ms. Egan continuously refers to the “deceptive” nature of the Pro-Life ads; however, it is a fact that “patient” as defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “one that is acted upon.” Therefore, the claim that “half of all patients do not leave an abortion clinic” would be true, as one would have difficulty asserting that an aborted fetus has not “been acted on.” Ms. Egan states, “clearly Respect for Life knows many people will...assume the patient is just the woman, and thus such a statement is extraordinarily misleading.” However, Ms. Egan’s own confusion on first reading the ad should not qualify the ad as deceptive. After all, the word “patient” is gender ambiguous, and the ad is meant as a catalyst for thought. Surely, in a university we can assume that a reader will not blindly believe an ad on the wall without consideration. Similarly, the third ad presented, “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” cannot be interpreted as “deceptive” either, considering that it is the sixth commandment in the JewishChristian tradition and has neither been edited nor lengthened. The commandment presents no information, simply a law which does exist in certain religious traditions. Ms. Egan also refers to the Pro-Life ads as collectively “offensive,” but there is no justification given as to why the first and third fliers mentioned are offensive in any manner. The purpose of the Pro-Life movement is to “afflict the comfortable” in order to affect a change, so the ads should not be expected to present only agreeable information. If Ms. Egan is disturbed by these ads, it is perhaps due to the fact that she cannot respond well to their claims. This is not cause for offense, but rather for reevaluation. Ms. Egan also states that she feels she is being “shamed for [her] personal views” by the flags placed in honor of “dead babies” in front of Alpha House, but I would ask her why this is the case. After all, Ms. Egan feels comfortable stating her own opinion in print; it would be hypocritical for her to attempt to limit her opponents’ ability to state their own opinion. The presence of the flags may make Ms. Egan uncomfortable, in which case they are achieving their purpose. Finally, Ms. Egan, in lamenting her own offense, has been carelessly offensive to the Catholic-Christian tradition. She refers to the sixth amendment as “Catholic guilt!” and calls on the Pro-Lifers (though she seems only to be appealing to Catholics) to stop making “pre-marital sex...such a taboo.” If Ms. Egan is truly “Pro-Choice,” then she must certainly recognize that it is a “choice” for one to practice Catholicism and to take its doctrines seriously. For her to dismiss two tenants of the Church, namely adherence to the Commandments and the belief that pre-marital sex is sinful, with such disdain is in itself offensive. Though I disagree with Ms. Egan, she is entitled to her own opinion; however, this does not entitle her to casually dismiss religious beliefs without due justification. Ms. Egan’s article concludes by stating that the ProLife club uses “hate speech and deceptiveness” to advance its beliefs. However, Ms. Egan has answered such an outrage with similar language and tone. The abortion debate is plagued by unjustified opinion on both sides. Ms. Egan has alienated a great deal of her audience by assaulting the legitimacy of Catholicism. For a truly convincing argument, the paper ought to feature a sustained dialogue which will present both sides of the issue. Thank you for your time reading this response, and I hope that you will pass on my comments to Ms. Egan as well. Her article presents a very valid and tenable position but ought to be presented in a slightly more civil manner. -Jonathan Gilis
november 18, 2009
World Needs Superheroes, Gets Stoners by Rolly Donagan STAFF SKI-MASKED WONDER I’ve just finished reading Kick-Ass, Mark Millar’s epically violent comic book that ran for seven issues up until October. The comic, which was pretty neat, and which will be made into a movie in 2010, concerns the story of David Lizewski, an average, scrawny high-school kid who enjoys reading comics. Constantly bored, and unable to approach his crush without becoming an awkward mess, David decides on a whim to become a super-hero. In the first issue, he contemplates the obviousness of this decision. “Be honest with yourself,” he says, “We all planned to be a superhero at some point in our lives.” Kick-Ass was a cool comic book, but it wasn’t particularly amazing. Still, I found myself actually challenged by its story. Why, I found myself asking, at the age of twenty, have I not donned my own disguise? Why have I not imagined a costume or some unique weapon with which I can dispel justice? David Lizewski was correct. I have been planning on becoming a superhero my entire life, which is in full swing. I find myself disappointed over wasted time. Peter Parker became Spider Man when he was still in high school. Three years deep in college is a bit late to create an alter ego.
There is an age where the loner must accept that she cannot become a hero with powers. There will be no web-slinging or healing powers. No adamantium claws. No laser sight. Of course there is still Frank Castle and Bruce Wayne. But they had cash-money and an otherworldly drive for revenge. And shit, Frank Castle used guns, which is totally cheating. The dream remains intangible. Instead of utility belts and tights the dreamer is forced to equip himself with marijuana and hip-hop, downloaded comic books and nerf guns Of course, there are those boobs who, because their occupation requires that they help people, assume the title of “superhero.” These people are wrong, be they philanthropists or police officers. Superheroes are not paid for their services. The title “mercenary” is more fitting. And then there are those eccentric few who actually don a costume and assume an alter ego. Those who prowl the streets. The folks featured on
websites like reallifesuperheroes.org, who treat the dream like a fetish. I respect them, but their attempts are at best selfparody. Citizen Prime, who operates in New York City and attempts to remove drug dealers from corners, dons a Kevlar vest. He is a financial executive during
the day. He confronts criminals with polite formalities and when cameras are present he poses like DareDevil. I admire his ingenuity, but he treats his costume like a badge, and from it he derives false authority. I imagine Citizen Prime appearing on a missing persons list somewhere. I am trying to discover what
creates the urge. I have decided that the desire to be a superhero, an anonymous specter, is similar to that which pushes man to athletics. A need for meaning, purpose. A vainglorious thirst for splendor. An almost masochistic fantasy of being beaten and bloodied. A uniform to belong to and to represent whatev-
nickels, and beat the hell out of a mugger, a rapist, or – the epochal and elusive comic-book villain – the crooked cop? A red meat diet and frequent trips to the gym would certainly help. But there is something about the fantasy that prevents its fulfillment. Something almost sexual, shameful. Superheroes are weird, and the possibility of being unmasked, revealed as a nerdy pervert, makes chasing the dream too frightening. It’s a shame. Becoming a superhero doesn’t reveal any disgust with society or impatience with the justice system but instead makes obvious the loneliness of the person in question. The dreamers have to accept this fact: they’re a little fucked in the head. The world may need heroes, but I need superheroes. Not some schmuck Now protecting the Fordham dressed in a Halloween University Community costume posing with tourists, but a really deranged dude knocking er it is inside we cannot explain. heads, running around rooftops, It seems easy. Of course, and proving that violence can there is the problem of physi- be motivated by something becal injury, death, or dismem- sides money or hate. Until that berment. When one decides to day comes, I’ll be in my room become a superhero, one aligns with the ganja burning, readoneself with the dregs of society ing Watchmen, and waiting for and becomes an outlaw. Injury the courage to throw on that rag is a part of the whole caper. I keep under my bed so I can But is it really so hard to slap walk to the corner and get my on a ski mask, fill a sock with ass whuped.
To Buy Booze: ID Not Necessary. To Get on Campus: ID Very Necessary. by Chris Gramuglia STAFF SECURITY BREACH This semester I was fortunate enough to have Tuesdays and Fridays off, and let me just say its been amazing thus far. I typically spend both of these days sleeping until 2:30, lifting weights, and pretty much doing whatever the fuck I want while the rest of Fordham is drooling on their notebooks in the bleak, dim classrooms of Dealy and Keating, counting the minutes until the weekend. Still, despite my sweet schedule and borderline excessive amount of free time, I can’t help but yearn for the good old days. In case no one else has noticed, Fordham has made some changes this year, and to be honest, they suck. What I’m referring to is the sudden desire of our usually friendly security guards to lay the smack down lately by cracking down on students who don’t carry their I.D. cards. Now, when it comes to the little things in life I’m a pretty calm individual, but when a regular guy with a maroon jacket and pants that are on just a little too tight tells me that I have to walk back to Arthur Av-
enue from campus to get piece of plastic with a dumb picture of me on it, I can’t help but get a little agitated. You see, it was on one of my beloved Friday afternoons when said injustice took place, and after a solid ten hours of shuteye, I wanted nothing more than to lift some heavyass weight. In fact, I was feeling so sprightly that my I.D. was the last thing on my mind. It’s probably in my wallet, I thought to myself as I noticed the new, official looking piece of computer paper taped to the door of the Lombardi Center. The words “Please Have Your I.D. Ready for Inspection,” were scribbled on it hastily in black marker. As intimidating as the new notification was, I figured I would just explain to the guard that I had forgotten my identification at home. No big deal, right? “Hi,” I said jovially to the guard behind the counter, “I think I forgot my I.D. Is it alright if I just work out for today without it?” Suddenly his eyes darted up from his issue of Better Homes and Gardens, and his hand moved to his walkietalkie, as if he were the sheriff in an old western and I had just kicked in the doors of the town saloon “lookin’ fer a fight.”
“Can’t go in there without I.D.,” he spat. I shifted my stance slowly and squared up against him, so he could see the letters F-O-R-D-H-A-M, printed across my sweatshirt. He gazed back at me, his eyes piercing as he waited for me to make a sudden move for the door. “It’s ok, really. I go to school here.” I said, trying to stay calm and motioning toward my sweatshirt. “Don’t matter. You’re gonna have to go on back home and get your I.D.,” the guard insisted, his hand still dancing around his revolver—I mean, walkie-talkie. It went on like that for a good ten minutes, until Clint Eastwood insisted that I pay eight dollars and work out as a guest in the weight room. Needless to say, I flipped out. “That‘s completely ridiculous,” I growled as I blew past him and walked into the gym. I hadn’t even completed stretching when Summit Security’s back up arrived. Another maroon jacket-wearing guard exploded through the door, whose stone-cold expression was a clear indicator that he had probably worked some high-pressure security positions in the past. My first guess was Miley Cyrus’s ex-bodyguard.
“YOU!” His voice bellowed through the gym. “STOP.” “Really?!” I sighed aloud, fearing that I might be tazed or shot with a bean bag gun if I resisted. “Oh, yeah. Really!” He responded. “Now get out of here and go get your card.” Rather than risk turning myself into another security alert, I gathered my things and made the long trek back to Arthur House to get my I.D. My day, along with my workout, had been ruined and all because of a piece of plastic. Aw, come on, they were just doing their jobs right? I agree, the purpose of our security team is to make sure that people who do not belong on campus aren’t on campus, and hell, they do a pretty damn good job. Except there’s just one minute detail I think I should reiterate. I WAS WEARING A FORDHAM SWEATSHIRT! Not to mention I don’t know many people who are so eager to work out in our decrepit weight room that they would infiltrate Fordham’s campus posing as a student. I’ll admit I may have fucked up in forgetting my I.D., but you know what, shit happens. What if I had been on my way to class? Would I have
been denied access onto campus then? I certainly hope not. I remember a time when leaving my I.D. in my room was no big deal, and our security guards would just nod with a smile and go, “Yeah, I remember your face, go ahead.” It was a warm feeling that made me feel like my connection to Rose Hill was deeper than an eight-digit numerical code and a plastic card that costs upwards of twenty dollars to replace. I felt welcome, like I belonged. I’m not saying that I would prefer our security guards to be asleep at the gates, but it would be nice if walking onto campus wasn’t reminiscent of a security checkpoint at an airport. Sadly, I don’t anticipate these changes slowing down anytime soon, so I have taken precautions against forgetting my I.D. in the future. After obtaining a staple gun from my local hardware store, I’ve elected to fasten my I.D. card to my left buttcheek, a la Steve-O of Jackass fame. I’m hopeful that this will eliminate any further confusion when it comes to my credentials next time I’m denied access to my beloved Rose Hill.
november 18, 2009
PBR: The Every Target-Audience Beer by Eamon Stewart STAFF RELAXED FIT “Heineken? Fuck that shit! Pabst Blue Ribbon!” So bellowed Frank Booth, the antagonist of Blue Velvet and a character fondly remembered for frequently spewing bits of rhetorical gold, like the preceding quote. What made the statement such an outrageous and comical one at the time was PBR’s decline as a successful beer in the American market. By the mid-80’s no one drank PBR, except evidently an individual like Frank Booth, a sadomasochistic crime boss with a smorgasbord of mental problems and an addiction to psychoactive drugs. In today’s world Frank’s famous line is funny for the same reason, for who drinks his favorite beer, although the demographic of people who calls the Pabst Brewing Company’s most famous brand their beer has changed quite a bit. These days PBR is a crowd pleaser for the hipster audience: the people whose music tastes are formed primarily by whatever Pitchfork Media likes for that present weekend, or who declared that Where The Wild Things Are was the greatest film adaptation of a children’s story ever (sorry, Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs was better), or who hate sports mostly on the grounds that everyone else likes them, or (as some really unenlightened people might say) is anybody who has ever written
for the paper. This might not come as a shock to some people on the grounds that hipsters are a 18-32 demographic, an age bracket which tends to be fairly poor, and Pabst is notorious for being a brand cheap enough that a twelve-pack could be purchased with whatever loose change you had found in your clothes dryer. Perhaps giving credence to PBR’s affordability is its sales being up by a quarter this year, as reported by Information Resources, Inc. “Well, duh,” you might say, “Of course an astoundingly inexpensive beer is going to see a sales spike during bad economic times; everybody is looking to cut corners, and buying a beer that’s in the Yoo-Hoo price range makes great financial sense!” That would make sense, except here’s the thing: Pabst raised its prices last year. Currently the beer costs 50 cents more than High Life, a dollar more than Busch and Natty Light, and whopping $1.50 more than Fordham University favorite Keystone. Noticeably higher prices, and yet PBR is still soaring above the other beers that it competes with in the “its cheap and it tastes a little better than piss” category. Pasbt’s recent fortune goes to explain a few things. One, which you probably already knew, is that hipsters have more money than they’d like you to believe. There isn’t really any other way that they could possibly have so much clothing,
which in a comically ironic twist always looks old and worn regardless of when it was actually purchased. The other is that despite the hipster obsession of being counter-cultural, nonconformist, anti-mainstream whatever, they can be pawned by a major corporation just like any other target audience. Pabst never really directly advertised to hipsters; that would have been too obvious and offended the hipster’s purported sense of individuality. But when hipsters began to claim the beer as their own, Pabst took notice and marketed to them through involvement with thoroughly hipster activities. The company became an underwriter for All Things Considered as well as a sponsor for art shows, indie rock concerts,
ments (which they refused to do for several years), their first public advertising campaign consisted of consumer-designed art which appeared on the sides of buildings, likening it to graffiti, as opposed to the traditional billboard medium. This consumer-art thing is continued on their website, including a link to a user-submitted art gallery which, amusingly enough, has a poetry section (I know this last part is a little unbelievable, but I’m not nearly creative enough to dream up anything as stupid as a beer company’s website containing a section where their customers can submit poems about beer). All of this indirect, imagefostering marketing that Pabst did has come to fruition, as they can now tout both remark-
Next target audience: the dead.
and something called “bike polo,” which I’ve been told is popular in the hipster-Mecca of Portland, Oregon. When they did begin posting advertise-
able profits and having turned the most self-consciously antimainstream demographic into a launch pad for their return to mainstream success. What’s
amazing is that at this point Pabst is still the apparent choice hipster beer; despite the price change and the beer’s cultural ascension (spending time with friends who attend Sarah Lawrence, FIT, and SVA can attest to this fact). So, apparently, PBR’s time barebacking the hipster community is yet to end, and you can expect the company to ride this out as long as humanly possible. But it will end eventually. Maybe it will when it starts to get noticed that the guys who like football drink it, too, or maybe it will when enough hipsters try and buy it before they’ve received their trust fund check for that month and notice that it’s not so affordable when you don’t have a disposable income. Whenever they do, it won’t matter because Pabst won’t need them anymore and won’t care that they’ve been cast off by the skinny jeans for Keystone or some equally disgusting alcoholic beverage. They will have played their part in not only saving a near dead corporation but also bringing them back to prominence and respectability. In doing so they will prove that no matter how hard they try, they are about as non-individualistic as everybody else. And they also will have assured that the spirit of Frank Booth is looking down and smiling, in between torturing people and inhaling large quantities of nitrous oxide.
Elegy for the Wild Magic Burst Pop-Tart by Elena Lightbourn STAFF TOASTER PASTRY CONNOISSEUR I’ll admit it: I took a lot of things for granted when I was a kid. I’m not talking about housing and clothes and all that stuff my mom said I would miss when I was older (although, let’s face it, everyone took that for granted) – I’m talking about the simple pleasures of the often wacky products of 90’s consumerism and pop culture. One that particularly blessed me with its short-lived existence for the majority of my childhood is now extinct but remains my alltime favorite variety of toaster pastry to this day. Oooh yes, a toaster pastry, people… a PopTart. More specifically, the Wild Magic Burst Pop-Tart. No, not Wild Berry (#3 on my Pop-Tart ranking), Wild Magic Burst. Don’t remember what it was like? Or don’t remember them existing at all? Well, apparently you’re not the only one. Not one searchable picture of it exists on the internet. I know, because I obsessively clicked through all fortysomething Google image search pages fruitlessly. Anyway, a Wild Magic Burst Pop-
Tart, straight out of its glorious, shiny silver packaging, featured pure snow white frosting and white sprinkles. If you were wondering what the hell was so “magic” about these Pop-Tarts, this is it (no, Kellogg’s wasn’t bullshitting us, despite their latest move of pulling the “immunity” claim from Rice Krispies). You put the boring white Pop-tart in the toaster, wait a few agonizing moments, and… LOOK, MOMMY! The sprinkles changed to rainbow colors! Which other Pop-Tart flavors could do that? Yeah, so this transformation may have been the result of some strange-andpossibly-dangerous additive to the sprinkles, but you were a kid—all you cared about was devouring it once it was toasted. I’ve always been one to appreciate the aesthetics of what I eat, even as an eight-year-old. No food was spared, including, you guessed it: Wild Magic Burst Pop-Tarts. Perhaps even more visually ap-
pealing than their color-changing outside was the pastry filling sandwiched deep within. Although Pop-Tart fillings usually consist of a single-colored, transparent, jellylike substance, the Wild Magic Burst Pop-Tart
truly lived up to its name, featuring blue and white stripes of sweet, frosting-like goo. The white was some sort of cream, and the blue was an indescrib-
able flavor. What was a “wild magic burst” supposed to taste like, anyway? I could never figure that out, but those Pop-Tarts sure were delicious, due to the universal kid rule that anything blue automatically triumphs over edibles of lesser colors. I don’t remember the first time I ever ate a Wild Magic Burst PopTart, or the last, because Kellogg’s kept them out for several years, which might as well be forever when you’re a kid. Never did I see a “limited time only” label, Kellogg’s. You should have warned me so I could’ve at least bought enough for me to eat and puke back up again to never have to deal with this forever-unsatisfied craving. All I remember is surveying the Pop-Tarts section of my local Kroger’s wanting to buy a box and realizing that THEY WEREN’T THERE. At first I could not believe it—maybe I needed to find a new grocery store. But nope, they never came back and
were replaced with tragedies like “Printed Fun Pop-Tarts.” Kellogs, please stop coming out with dumb flavors (Ice Cream Sundae? Really? If I want an ice cream sundae I will buy some damn ice cream!) and bring back the Wild Magic Burst PopTarts. I know I can’t be the only one who wants this. I will even keep an illegal toaster in my dorm room and eat one every day if they return. Wild Magic Burst PopTarts, I know that Kellogg’s has ceased your production and you would never be able to hear / understand me anyway because you are food. I still think PopTarts are great, but honestly, I don’t eat them very much anymore because the flavors they have out now can’t compare to you, and my other two favorites are also dead or on the brink of extinction. I guess that’s how you know you’re getting older. But, just as the world will always remember the Dodo bird, I will always remember you. My childhood surely wouldn’t have been the same without the presence of your color-changing sprinkles and blue and white gooeyness.
november 18, 2009
An Encounter With the Author by Bill Brennan STAFF SENTIMENTALIST “Word on the street is,” a gray-haired man told me as I waited to meet Stephen King, “he ain’t signing shit.” By the time word on the street got around to me, though, I’d already waited alone for three hours to meet the author, and I stayed in place as the grayhaired man walked away, continuing to ask myself: Where is everyone? I had been convinced that a chattering crowd of awkwardly gothic Annie Wilkeses would have camped outside of the New York Times building for days just to catch a dubious, chancing glance of the author. His Number One Fans, though, seemed to have taken the day off—or had been lucky enough to get a seat inside of the TimesCenter to hear the interview Mr. King was to give on the release of his new 1,072-page tome. I was alone in my waiting. I’m not Stephen King’s Number One Fan. In fact, I don’t think I’m his Number Two or Number Three. Probably not even Number 1,072. What I am, however, is a young writer with a lot of respect for the author and a kid with too much willingness to forfeit his entire day to things certainly not guaranteed. Having known for months about the interview, I had determined to do my best to meet the man. After all, I’d be at school in New York. That made it 1,072 times more likely I’d meet him, didn’t it? So, when the day came, I snuck out of work, and, before heading up to the D train, grabbed my love-beaten copy of Carrie. I’d bought it the summer after eighth grade, and it was the first Stephen King book I’d ever read and owned. Its pages are yellowing, and white cracks course down its spine at all the best parts of the book, the parts that made me grip the pages and lose myself in Carrie White’s sad and damaged telekinetic mind. I own a first edition copy of On Writing, the acclaimed memoir Mr. King wrote after being nearly killed by a distracted driver in 1999, and I’ve read the book four or five times—getting it signed would have made it much more valuable. But I chose to bring Carrie with me because Carrie was my introduction to the writing of Stephen King, and, more importantly, Carrie was my hurt and tragic friend. Every bent page in her story and every white line down her book’s spine was a hurt sustained in the course of our encounters. Of all the Stephen King books I own, it was
Carrie who I wanted Mr. King leaving the building, and I could not believe it was Stephen King. to sign. Apparently though—word Two men in suits and a young on the street—Mr. King wasn’t woman accompanied him to the waiting jet-black sedan, and a signing shit. At 6 o’clock, I watched a short, hook-nosed man skipped blockful of people begin to en- after him, yapping like a horny ter the TimesCenter for the in- Teacup Poodle deluded that he terview, and I felt no jealousy was a Great Dane. The man sounded pathetior loneliness because I knew that it was I who might have cally desperate in his pleading, the chance to (possibly) meet and Mr. King refused to sign the Stephen King. But by 7 p.m. book. But the man did not give there was no sign of King. Apparently, he wasn’t going to up: “Please, Mr. King, please! walk directly across the street PLEASE!” No dice. from the Hilton and through the His book remained unfront doors of the TimesCenter to get in for the interview. 7:02: signed, and hearing the man’s The lights inside the main hall annoying cries, I tucked Carrie dimmed—the interview started. into my coat, slipped my SharpSighing, another man, who had ie in my pocket, and, pushing been waiting for thirty minutes, past Teacup Poodle, went to left. “Good luck,” he said to Stephen King. My mind was me. I went around the block to racing. I couldn’t think of what the loading dock entrance, sat to do. “Mr. King,” I said, “I’ve myself on the ground, and ate a cheeseburger, paging through been waiting for three hours.” (Why the fuck did you say Carrie. Again, I was alone. From where I sat, I could that??? You pathetic Teacup see the interview through the Poodle!!!) “That’s nice,” he said, putTimesCenter’s glass walls. It was a strange thing to realize ting his hands in his pockets. (Cringe.) that the mind that had created I stuck my hand out, nervous The Shining, Misery, and The Stand—books in which I’d truly he wouldn’t shake it. lost myself–was “That ain’t worth shit.” speaking and joking just beyond the glass. I didn’t even know if I was in the right place—the point from which he’d be leaving the building—but, knowing that the man whose work I respect so greatly was sitting so close by, I couldn’t bring myself to leave. What if I were right? I almost missed him. After I saw him stand inside, shake Teacup Poodle followed. the interviewer’s hand, and disappear from the stage, I moved “Mr. King, please, please! up the block a ways to the There’s no one else here! Please loading dock, my eyes darting sign my book, Mr. King!” And in an apparent attempt around in an attempt to watch all exits, because I did not know to shrug off the yapping, hookwhich of the three he would use. nosed Poodle, Stephen King reI was completely aware that moved his hand from his pocket what I was doing seemed like and shook my hand. “My name’s Billy,” I said. “I stalking or scheming or getting ready to attack, but I had no foul really look up to you.” (STUPID STUPID STUintentions: I simply wanted to meet the man whom I admire so PID) But he didn’t seem to think I much for his talent as a writer, someone I seek to emulate. I was so stupid, and, as he got into readied Carrie and my Sharp- his car, Teacup Poodle whining ie. Any second now, Mr. King in the background, he gave me a smirk only Stephen King could would make his exit. have given—one that spoke of I heard it before I saw it: “Mr. King, please sign my all the insanity, of all the Teabook. Please, Mr. King, please!” cup Poodles and of all the AnI turned my head and fo- nie Wilkses in the world—and cused my sight on the tall man I waved back, a grin of my
own spreading across my face. “Good night, Stephen,” I said. And the most gifted American story-teller alive drove off, lost among a hundred swift black cars speeding down 7th Avenue. “You’d think he could have signed two books!” Teacup Poodle wheeled. “There were only two of us here! You’d think he could have stopped for one second—there wasn’t any crowd— a crowd I can understand, but it was just the two of us!” I think Teacup Poodle thought I was on his side, but I wasn’t. Carrie was safely tucked away in my jacket, in just the same state in which she had been before I’d met the man who’d created her, and to me it made no difference. Signed or unsigned, the book still brought back memories of excitement and fear and a summer spent with friends. I didn’t need a signature to certify Carrie’s value to me. My memory was certification enough. “I’m not gonna lie,” Teacup Poodle said. “I didn’t even know what King really looked like. I was just going off the picture in the back of the book.” (Then why the hell were you
That’s what he thinks. so intent on getting his signature?) Annoyed, I turned to leave, but Teacup Poodle followed me to the other side of the building, repeating his just-two-books mantra. Another familiar face was there. At the interview, randomlyselected members of the audience had been chosen to receive signed copies of King’s new book. The gray-haired man was gliding now among the exiting crowd, whispering under his breath, “Anyone wanna sell theirs? I’ll pay.” I tried to slip away from Teacup Poodle without the gray-haired man seeing me, but his sharp eye caught me, and he approached.
He said nothing, only asked: “He sign it?” “Nope,” I said, “but I got to shake his hand.” His lips twisted into a deprecating smirk. “That ain’t worth shit.” “Maybe not to you,” I said. “But it means a whole lot to me.” And I turned to leave, hoping never to encounter either of these confused autograph hunters again. On the way to the subway, I couldn’t stop thinking about them: All they cared about was a signature on a page. For Teacup Poodle, the signature was a way of “proving” he’d met Stephen King, and for the gray-haired man, it was nothing more than a valuable material good that he wanted to own. I wondered how could I be so content with a handshake— I had no photograph, no video, and no autograph, for that matter. It seems to me that in our culture there is an increasing need to “prove” our lives to one another. I dislike getting analytical about sociological trends, but I can’t help but believe this analysis to be true. Advancement in the way we have started to social network in the past four years—with the rise of a certain social network website—has turned everything we do into a potential “Liked” status update; a potential digital photo album; a potential Comment from someone we don’t really care about saying something that, for no good reason, makes us feel wanted—or worse—loved. It’s the stuff Stephen King’s books use to scare us—only, now, those insecurities and fears of worthlessness are being lived out in our every day lives. And the proof is in each status update. To those two men, Stephen King’s autograph was only important because it would help to prove to their friends that their lives had meaning, as if someone else’s name written on someone else’s dedication page truly held any value. Yeah, I was perfectly content with a handshake—I’d met one of my heroes, someone I truly look up to—and I had no intention of updating my status to let anyone know. I deactivated my Facebook account a month ago, so now my status is solely in my mind, where it can be accessed by anyone willing to take a moment to breathe and contribute to the unrecorded, invisible, not-so-public wall-towall called friendship.
november 18, 2009
by Mickie Meinhardt STAFF DOUR PATCH KID The composition of the mixtape is an ancient and sacred art developed by our forefathers with painstaking attention to detail. Well, sorta. Since the bygone era of the late 1970’s, those with a certain ear for pleasurable tunes aching to be shared have carefully assessed music collections, giving a yay or nay to various artists, selecting favorite tracks, and lovingly recording them onto a spool of tape encased in several inches
ears to Dinosaur Jr. or Joy Division; stories of heartbreaking college Velvet Underground devotees; odes to one-time sex partners whose Pixies-laden coital soundtracks lingered long after the rolls between the sheets ceased. Some are sappy, some are bitter, but most ring with pleasant nostalgia and appreciation for this single musical remnant. It’s a quick read, best done in segments – one can only read so many “odes to an ex” in one sitting before wanting to
of plastic. These hallowed entrapments of melody were then painstakingly labeled with song titles and their respective artists and titled with a clue to the contents or an inside joke. Cassette tapes became the sonnets of the 80’s and 90’s youth: love letters of a sort but with the nostalgic appeal of something handmade. Can’t you feel your heart smile :) ?? There was something to be said for physically playing the music, hitting start, record, stop, switch, repeat – or so I hear. By the time I was old enough to record a cassette they had begun to disappear in favor of compact discs, and this 20th century tradition passed me by. But a recent book, Cassette From My Ex by Jason Bitner, allowed me to relive the time-honored tradition that I only encountered as a child via my parents. The book is a collection of anecdotes from various writers, musicians, and artists from anywhere between the late 70’s to early 00’s, who all had their first sweet taste of adolescent amor packaged in a 60 minute tape and delivered with anxious sweaty palms by a would-be suitor. The stories are brief, usually about 2 or 3 pages, each telling the story of a former flame who left behind an auditory memory that, for good or ill, somehow stayed with the person over the years. There are stories of first high school beaus, terrible ones who listened to nothing but Pearl Jam and fantastic ones who opened
a) slit your wrists or b) throw up – but is a sweet reminder of the power of memory (awwz) and a throwback to the best of 80’s and 90’s indie. Not a sappy person, I picked it up because I share the same love of musical mixes. Past the cassette era, my high school friends and I developed a mix-CD exchange program for our cars when we all first got our drivers licenses (whoa, remember being 16?). A close friend and I kept the tradition alive, still mailing each other mixes while at our separate colleges. Though not quite the same as the difficult-to-compose cassette, it still takes considerable contemplation: What does this person like? Will they judge me for The Cranberries? Is there room for Bruce Springsteen (answer: ALWAYS yes)? A good one takes a lot of time and effort, hopefully proving good enough to be kept around awhile. Or maybe it will reveal that you suck and have terrible taste in music. Either or. The book also gives all the track lists from each remembered tape, and most of the music is fantastic old indie rock. It’s worth a read solely for being a hundreds-of-tracks-long download list. Cassette From My Ex re-introduces the world to the art of music compilation, which seems to be lost today with Genius playlists and iPod shuffles. Good read. Easy read. Free tunes. ‘nough said.
arts by Kaitlin Kominsky STAFF IN CROWD This summer whilst enjoying the unforgivable concreteheat of the Bronx, I began assisting in editorial and production for a website called myopenbar. com, which lists recession-proof events around the five boroughs, including parties, concerts, and the occasional art opening. Seva Granik, my boss, or “Brooklyn’s favorite hipster apologist,” is known for both the website and his laundry list of successful shows. Usually loud and unforgiving, his events as well as his lifestyle have been written about in notable publications such as The New York Times, The Daily News, and now, the paper (not The Ram, ha!). During the week of Oct 20th, MOB worked in collaboration with CMJ (College Music Journal) to throw four parties for their annual festival, which could be noted as four of the best that the fourday-fest had seen this year. Being the “capable intern,” I had the opportunity to both attend and work three of the four events. And, lyke, the rest is history. The first show was thrown at Webster Hall and featured Here We Go Magic, Titus Andronicus, Woods, and Beach Fossils. I was VIP, you know, just to brag, even though it really didn’t guarantee anything but access to a second-level lounge that was too close in proximity to the smoke machines to be comfortable. If you’re not familiar with Woods, they made an appearance at Rodrigue’s a few years back, so they’re basically celebrities. And if you aren’t familiar with Titus Andronicus, well, that is embarrassing. Taking their name from the Shakespearean tragedy that many of us probably read in high school, they’re a no bullshit band from Glen Rock, New Jersey, home to nothing but bowling alleys and rug outlets. Despite that unfortunate environmental circumstance, they delivered a powerhouse performance praised by famed blogs like Stereogum, if
you actually read that shit. The second show was thrown at Shea Stadium in Brooklyn and featured Javelin, Holiday Shores, and Railcars. Unfortunately, not having taken 15 AP classes in high school, I have a shitty Friday schedule that starts at 8:30 am and couldn’t go. No, thank you, Oasis. The third of the four shows and possibly the most notable was thrown at Clemente Soto Velez, a cultural center in the LES. This could possibly be my favorite venue in all of Man-
hattan. I had the opportunity to work a party there in July for Vice Magazine, and it’s really a great space. With two theaters, an airy lobby, an eclectic bar area, and an outside beach (weather permitting), it has room to fit a couple hundred people. However, capacity was called before 10 pm, leaving the line that stretched around the block standing in the rain for over an hour. However, it was understandably packed, considering that it was one of the most anticipated shows of CMJ, the set list boasting Matador Record’s finest, including Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Cold Cave, Lemonade, Tanlines, Harlem, and Glasser. I have one Ted Leo song in my iTunes. It’s called “Counting Down the Hours,” something about accidents in relationships and streetlights, whatever. I can admit that it’s catchy, but I will never admit that I like it. I could attribute my foul opinion of the band to the ska-obsessed freaks at my high school, or maybe just my own bad attitude, but despite all of our past beef, I was willing to give them another chance. Unfortunately, Ted Leo didn’t charm me three years ago at a McCarren Park Pool Party (RIP), and they didn’t charm me that night at Clemente Soto Velez. Their lead singer is attractive though – that they have going for them. There were two bands, however, that stood out. One of
them was Glasser, which is not really a band but a girl with a microphone. Her performance was entrancing. Her music is quiet with the occasional jungle-driven percussion, accompanied by a beautiful voice and some chords. It’s comparable to the Where the Wild Things Are soundtrack but on Valium; More ethereal dream sequence, less Karen O. The other impressive group was Tanlines, which is comprised of two guys based out of Brooklyn. I’m normally not a huge fan of electronic music, at least not publicly, but their music is really unique. Like Glasser, they also have that funky tribal thing going for them, but in a more intimidating and powerful way. T h e fourth and final show was held in Brooklyn above an auto repair space across from The Market Hotel (strange concept, brilliant reality). With a makeshift bar, sufficient stage, and a multiplicity of portable bathrooms, everyone seemed be comfortable in the awkward location. Jeff the Brotherhood was the headlining band, following Screaming Females (omgz I luv NJ!), Surfer Blood, and Sisters. All the groups were great, no doubt. But Jeff the Brotherhood? Let me tell you, I’m no hardcore music know-it-all; I am afraid of mosh pits, and the only thing I know about Fest 8 is that it was most likely comparable to my idea of what purgatory is like. But despite my lack of background, this band completely blew me away. I can’t even describe the experience in any way other than as some kind of sweaty religious epiphany. Seva says that they are “the next big thing,” and he is right. Download their music while it is still free, and see for yourself. So goes another year of New York’s CMJ festival. I made a quick $200 checking people off a list, met some incredible bands, and wrote a half-decent article. All four parties were a great success, and sometimes I can see my head in the background of pictures on BrooklynVegan. And if that isn’t fame these days, then I don’t know what is…
november 18, 2009
You're Invited!!! To an interstellar Paper Pool Party
following our meeting tuesday at 8pm in the Ramskeller (Arrive promptly to board the shuttle)
Where: the moon When: 20:00 hours Earth Time Why: Significant Amounts of Water!!!!!
being shot on a budget consistby Eamon Stewart ing of welfare checks but also STAFF CINEBUM potentially allows the already There’s a trend growing in cheap horror filmmakers to dip Hollywood; if you want to make to that level of financial stingia horror movie, try not to make ness. Even films that were conit look like a Hollywood movie. ceived as and funded by major Horror as a genre has always studios throughout the film prothrived on its ability to make cess (the most noteworthy rethe most inexpensive product cent examples being Quarantine humanly possible by using techand Cloverfield) can still develniques popularized fifty years op with relatively low budgets, ago by a bunch of French guys. while counterparts in the same Cinema verite (French for genre will inevitable take lon“cinema of truth”) was develger to film and result in higher oped out of a desire to make production costs. Consider this: the audience feel closer to the Cloverfield’s $25 million budget film, as if the fourth wall were doesn’t seem strikingly modest non-existent. The use of handuntil you factor in that it is a held cameras, elaborate editing, monster film, which are notoriand behavior by the actors that ously expensive films to make; acknowledges and reacts to the the really suck ass Godzilla camera were some of the priwith Matthew Broderick ran a mary characteristics that the di$130 million budget while Peter rectors used to make their audiJackson’s King Kong was $207 ence feel they were watching something organic. It’s just as contrived as any other style of filmmaking, but the final product appears less so. And the French are convinced that it is in fact the greatest thing that has ever occurred in cinematic history. But the style also gained footing because of the factor that drives pretty much everything in the film industry: economics. Directors could drastically cut their budget and shooting time by using Cinema verite: the technique and Fuck that CGI shit. were often able to We use real ghosts film entire movies (and don’t pay them) without the backing of major studios million, and while both films or distributors. And those big grossed more, Cloverfield was budget studios benefitted, too, far more profitable in terms of as they could pick up the films’ budget expenditures. distribution rights at bottomThe economic sense of this feeder prices and turn them over is becoming far more important for a modest profit. If they were because of Paranormal Activlucky, they would strike gold ity. The movie cost $15,000 to and get a film that duplicated make (and sure fucking looks its budget many times over in like it), and has at this point sales. But even if they didn’t, it grossed probably more than the was no great loss for the studio. collective GDPs of most of the Every once in a while horror former Eastern Bloc nations. finds its way to the style, which The film also built its momenis a fairly logical marriage betum upon non-traditional adcause it doesn’t take lots of vertising (like Quarantine and money to scare people. SlashCloverfield) that built up the er films, frequently the most audience through the online prominent and marketable horprogram eventful.com, word of ror sub-genre, are remarkable mouth, and the general hype that in their way to make a $1 milthis was going to be the scariest lion budget movie look like it movie of all time and that you was filmed with a $100 budget were going to shit all over your (if you’ve ever watched any of seat in the movie theater. It’s a the Saw films you have a pretcool success story, and it goes to ty good idea what I’m talking show that innovation can reach about). Cinema verite not only the major studios, which are ofgives the film the appearance of ten accused of being stagnant
and slow to adapt to change. There is one problem: the films themselves often don’t show the same level of originality and innovation as the hype that builds them up. In a way this is inevitable, but there is still something very wrong when the advertising campaign behind Cloverfield turns out to be considerably better than the movie itself. A similar thing has happened to Paranormal Activity, where the consensus went from it being the greatest horror movie of the last thirty years to it being the kind of movie that would only scare you if you find loud noises and doors slamming to be terrifying (if you are frightened by those kinds of things, believe me, this movie will make you shit the bed). What these stylized horror movies all amount to is putting a new coat of paint on the same old, ugly, beaten up car. The thrills in Paranormal Activity are all basic genre clichés, with things moving themselves and odd-looking shadows providing the greatest moments of terror. These moments of terror are also remarkably short lived, as there is really no memorably disturbing or creepy image, the kind that stays with you long after you’ve left the theater. The style of filming creates less of a fourth wall and a more honest feel, but your own sense of terror doesn’t come from fearing for the characters, mostly because they’re usually asleep when anything interesting is happening. It’s a clever move by all involved to be employing this kind of filmmaking, because it allows a wholly unoriginal idea to appear new and fresh. What it boils down to is that Cloverfield was a stock monster movie, Quarantine the same for zombies, and Paranormal Activity the same for haunted houses. Tweaking slightly the way our fears are presented is suddenly grounds for acclaim, despite the fact that underneath the veneer we are basically being fed the same reheated genre mainstays. To be fair, it’s a lot better than having another depraved episode for the Saw franchise every year, but it’s certainly unsatisfactory, and it shouldn’t be treated as anything else.
november 18, 2009
by Chris Sprindis ASST. EXECUTIVE EDITOR I get to stay alive as long as Kurt Vonnegut’s unpublished work continues to rise from the depths of his estate and see the light of bookstore’s shelves. When he died in April 2007, I had read every piece of fiction he had published to date with the exception of Slapstick (I’m told it’s not his best, but it arbitrarily became what I saved for last). That year, I made two pacts, one to never read Slaptstick until I was on my deathbed, for I did not want to live knowing I had read everything that my favorite author has published, and a second to be killed sometime
Also, between each story there are simple, yet meaningful, illustrations by Vonnegut that offer a quick and comic reprieve with the conclusion of each piece. The collection opens with a delightfully entertaining, if not slightly obvious, foreword by Sidney Offit, describing the collection as a group of stories that show Vonnegut’s experimentation with the styles and themes that would permeate all of his later work. Reading only a few of the stories will lead the reader to come to exactly the same conclusions, although the foreword does describe a few interesting insights by friends and fellow literary figures that knew
Life is no way to treat the paper
during my twenty-first year of life by my roommate (life just seems a little too troublesome after that). Fortunately, since then, two new volumes of previously unpublished works have surfaced, and I know my roommate wouldn’t kill me in good conscience knowing that there may be more out there for me to read one day. Vonnegut’s latest work, Look at the Birdie, published last month, compiles finished stories that he wrote in his early years as a writer that were either never accepted by magazines or were deemed not worth printing by Vonnegut himself. I’ll be the first to admit that they’re not his best stories, but every single word seems soaked with the tactfully blended mix of depression and wit that makes Vonnegut a hero to many, although many of the stories seem tainted with a bit more of the youthful depression of Vonnegut as a young writer testing his waters.
Vonnegut more intimately as a person than the average reader would. Every sentence in the collection is so obviously Vonnegut that it seems a shame that the stories never saw the light of day, and yet at the same time many of the stories leave a little something to be desired. The first story, “Confido,” a satirical bite at the powers of psychology (it’s about a machine that tells the listener exactly what they’re thinking – to some comic yet unsettling results) seems to end abruptly, as though Vonnegut were interrupted in the middle of the creative process and decided to give up, while others like “Ed Luby’s Key Club,” at fifty-one pages, seem longer than any Vonnegut story I can remember. Much of the story displays Vonnegut writing in a more straightforward manner, using very simple explanatory sentences to develop the plot of an average man trapped in the
throngs of a corrupt police department scandal. Straightforward, that is, until near the end, where in an explosion of what reads like later Vonnegut, the main characters devise an unrealistic plan involving FBI members in a small town with some very realistic results of taking down the town’s crime boss and restoring order. As referenced in the foreword, many of the stories in this collection reflect Vonnegut’s life at the time – a simple man struggling with depression while at the same time finding comic genius in the simplest of things. Some of the stories, such as “F U B A R,” about a man who is pushed around at his job until forced to work in the basement of the company gym, seem utterly irresolvable until the last second, when some form of saving grace steps in make things better. Others, however, reflect the darker side of Vonnegut’s psychology. “The Nice Little People,” my favorite story in the book, involves a man going about an average day and coming across a group of six humanoid aliens, the size of small seeds, that came to Earth in a letter opener shaped spacecraft. The man tries to feed and comfort them, and the story seems to be developing fine, until the man’s wife comes home and tells him that she is leaving him. I don’t want to give everything away, but it does not conclude on a good note. Another story, “The Hall of Mirrors,” starts with a hypnotist manipulating a group of cops to do whatever he wants. It all seems innocent at first, but through a series of mistakes, all end up dead in a pile of broken mirrors. Although not the most entertaining, perhaps the most interesting part of the book is a short letter that Vonnegut wrote to fellow writer, Walter J. Miller. He writes about the notion of a school, how most famous writers achieved notoriety as the result of being the most popular in a group of like-minded writers. Vonnegut laments that there is more to write about than ever, but that without writing in a style of some previous school, it is hard to get anything published. He describes his school as consisting of himself and his two agents, yet he is hopeful. He had just quit his job, and he concludes the letter saying, “Since I quit G-E, if I’m not a writer then I’m nothing.” Little did he know that a kid, hopelessly in love with a writer he never met, would still be reviewing his works two years after his death and fifty-eight years after this letter.
RATS RATSINGTON FOR MAYOR PRESENTS THE PAPER’S SHOW LIST It’s almost Thanksgiving, which means you have a little less than two weeks to assault your ears with impressive music to condescend to your non-New York City collegiate friends at home about. We’ve got three throwback shows to choose from, two 90s gems and one piece of 90s white bread, the latter of which is also a last Spring Weekend throwback. Don’t worry about running out of money – you’re going home soon! And if your funds do happen to run dry, that’s what the fourth FREE show at our very own Rodrigue’s coffehouse is for. -MM & BC Who: GUSTER!!! When: Friday, 11/27 Where: Beacon Theatre How Much: $40 Why: SPRING WEEKEND ’09 pt. 2!!! Who wouldn’t want to relive those three days of ultimate gut-wrenching alcohol bombardment in one night? Disregard the fact that you spent the entire weekend awake because you knew the two hours or so that Guster played would be your designated nap-time in between cups of loopy lemonade and bongs of Natty straight to the cranium. This is your chance to see what you missed – some softly inoffensive “jangle-pop”. Mmm, the possibilities. Just don’t go sober. Who: Do Make Say Think, The Happiness Project, Years When: Saturday, 11/28 Where: Music Hall of Williamsburg How Much: $15 Why: A) Because if you have the opportunity to see any three artists for only $15 and you DON’T go, you’re a fucking idiot. B) Because one of those three artists happens to be Do Make Say Think – a Canadian instrumental whose epic use of bass and distortion in a jazz style is nothing short of fantastic (and at whose concert two of our editors became bffs. Awwww). They’ve got an October-released album they’ll be promoting, so really… you have no reason NOT to go. Who: The Mountain Goats When: Tuesday, 12/1 Where: Webster Hall How Much: $25 Why: Because they were a late 90s staple, have put out 17 studio albums, and are still going strong: they are frequently featured on Weeds and guest starred on The Colbert Report in October. Their conceptual lyrics string literary and mythological references in between their sexually tense indie-love-angst with a low-fi, boom box recording style; what’s not to love? Who: The Fiery Furnaces When: Saturday, 12/5 Where: Rodrigue’s Coffeehouse How Much: FREE Why: If you have to ask… Really, though: the Friedberger siblings are known for being frenetic on record, blissfully juxtaposing seemingly incongruous parts and swapping instruments upon each repetition of a melody. As a live act, they take it one step further, constantly revamping their songs, creating mash-ups of series of songs, altering tempos, and completely changing the instrumentation of their music. Eleanor’s vocals assure you of the song, but otherwise the music surrounding will probably sound very different than it does on the record, a testament to the versatility of this band, and their willingness to constantly rethink their music. And it’s free. -BC
by Marisa Carroll STAFF BULL Sam Cooke once crooned that the best things in life, they’re free. The sentiment is lovely, but if Cooke was a college student living just in New York City, he might amend his lyrics to “the best things in life are paid for by your family on Parents’ Weekend.” It is through this quirk in the college calendar that I found myself sitting in a cab in the middle of Times Square last Friday evening. While I vehemently avoid the Tenth Circle of Hell that is 47th and 7th—and I would never consider approaching it in a taxi—I refused to be phased by the abusive lights, squawking tourists, and enormous cab fare. Instead, I was focused on my destination: the Imperial Theatre, where I would be seeing the musical Billy Elliot. With me sat my mother and maternal grandmother, a musical theatre major and a veteran director of high school musicals, respectively. Both are huge fans of Elton John, who penned the score to Billy Elliot. These things in mind, I was hardly surprised when I received Grandma’s email (she also has a Facebook) a week earlier declaring that she and my mother were simply dying to see the play while they
by Jackie Wilson STAFF WILD CARD Given its pervasive presence in American mass media history, the gangster genre has fostered a type of obsession within viewing / listening / reading public. The fantasy of life lived on the edge of society—a life riddled with money and violence—is something most people do not (nor ever will) truly know and yet still seek to understand through use of news, films, television, music, and/or written histories. Such infamous (non-fictional) “gangsters” as Al Capone of Chicago, Owney Madden of New York City, and Whitey Bulger of Boston marked the 20th century. More recently individuals including the likes of Frank Lucas and, if I may include his name, Jay-Z have found membership amongst the group of revered American Gangsters. These men (along with many notable others) and their subversive behavior and actions became mythologized somewhere along the line and have paved the way for the extremely popular gangster genre. Cinematically speaking, the performances of such actors as Al Pacino and Robert DiNiro in well-known films, namely The Godfather trilogy, have molded the genre it in to what we (the
november 18, 2009
were in New York. After a quick trip to Fordham to see the campus and yell at the financial aid office, we were off to the show. The play opens with vintage news clips flittering across a screen like a candle’s flame. We see Margaret Thatcher preach nationalization while workers line up outside of soup kitchens and National Coal Board mines, homemade “Strike!” signs in hand. The projector rises to reveal a dingy kitchen cramped with unkempt men and exhausted-looking women. These are the coal miners of County Durham, an actual community that participated in the 1984 UK Miners’ Strike. Between spewed cockney slang and slurred, drunken words, the miners preach their desire for economic freedom and government support in the anti-worker regime of the Iron Lady. While the bleeding heart liberal in me was thrilled with the content, I found myself wondering where exactly the tale of “Billy, the boy who traded boxing gloves for ballet shoes” would fit in to this political backdrop. The only punches were being thrown at Maggie Thatcher and the somber, folkdriven score was nothing like the glittery “I <3 Billy” merchandise in the lobby led me to expect. I wondered not for long, though, as soon appears a
scrawny boy in worn-out green sneakers. He is rushing to get to his boxing lesson, but his shoulders are slumped and his feet slowly shuffle across the floor. He encounters only a moment of joy and it is bittersweet: the ghost of his mother reminds him not to forget his boxing gloves. We see Billy suffer through a lesson, rich with not only humiliation but also blatant child
audience) recognize it as today. In the last decade the HBO series The Sopranos, led by actor James Gandolfini, reinvigorated the genre by bringing it into the homes of millions of obsessed HBO viewers every week for nearly a decade. For those of you who are familiar with the show (as well as those of you who might not be), you know that Gandolfini played Tony Soprano for eight years (1999-2007) and that during the show’s six season run the actor reigned as the boss of HBO television in the role of an anxiety ridden, womanizing, crude—yet vulnerable—mafia head and family man who led a scrappy crew of fictional Jersey hit men and Mafiosos through the trials and tribulations of balancing family life and loyalty to one another with sex, drugs, murder, and therapy. Arguably, The Sopranos has joined the ranks amongst other classic additions to the fictional American gangster family. Despite this, the gangster genre has raised a problem for James Gandolfini. He, like many of the other actors who have preformed in legendary Mafioso roles, has been marked by his gangster characters and, speaking from a viewer’s point of view, has struggled to con-
vince the public that he is not in fact Tony Soprano but an actor who was simply playing a part. While the actor reveled in his role as Mr. Soprano for nearly a decade—he is noted for embodying the character both
abuse. The bear of a teacher repeatedly smacks Billy and the other students to the floor, his curriculum more focused on toughening the boys up for future protests and bar fights than finding success in the ring. The musical accompaniment is minimal. A dramatic shift occurs, though, as the boxing lesson comes to an end, and Billy staggers towards the exit. A whir
on and off screen—Mr. Gandolfini now seems to be cutting ties with Tony Soprano and forging new alliances with different characters and genres. This year Gandolfini took on a number of notable roles that sharply contrast with his Sopranos past. One such role is the on-screen supporting part in the 2009 British comedy In the Loop as the frumpy, peace-loving American Lt. Gen. George Miller who loves gossip and Chinese food and has little sway in the conference. While I could not deny that Gandolfini’s performance
of sequins, taffeta, and timpani rolls overwhelm the stage as a little girls’ ballet class begins. Billy hops on a chair as if to run from mice but cannot tear his eyes away from their fumbling pirouettes and off-tempo leaps, perhaps the first scene played solely for laughs in an otherwise heavy production. The class ends, and Billy rushes towards the door, but the teacher—a more pleasant Miss Hannigan—invites him back to the next lesson…if he brings 50 pence, that is. Billy does return to ballet class. He is initially hesitant but soon reveals a preternatural gift for dance, by which I mean the boy can dance his ass off. I sat, stunned, as Billy, played by 15-year old David Alvarez, broke it down harder than Beyonce and Mikhail Baryshnikov combined. As he learns to become confident with his dancing and with himself, those around him also begin expressing themselves through dance. In “Grandma’s Song,” Billy’s grandmother explains how she was trapped in a terrible marriage and only felt free when she hit the dance floor on Friday evenings. She then whips off her robe to reveal a sequined party
dress and exuberantly dances across the stage. Billy’s young friend, Michael, reveals his desire to put on women’s robes, skirts, and sequined dresses in “Expressing Yourself,” an incredibly campy number that culminates in the boys dancing in drag before a rainbow of shiny streamers and a parade of party dresses. A weight lifts off of Billy’s shoulders with each subsequent musical number until eventually, in “Electricity,” he flies off the ground and dances through the air. We all want to dance. We all want to be ourselves completely. But, Billy Elliot asks its audience, what must we leave behind to reach our full potential? The play ends on that somber note: Billy, suitcase in hand, wanders off stage as feebly as he did toward his boxing lesson at the beginning of the show. He has miraculously landed a spot in the Royal Ballet School, promising him a future beyond his poverty-stricken town. Still, he does not know what he will find at the Royal Ballet School; he does not know what his town will lose in the decades to come. This question of compromise has stuck with me since seeing the show, as has my fascination with dance and newfound desire to go to the ballet. So thanks, Mom and Grandma. Billy Elliot was pretty great.
in the film was strong it was still strange for me to watch him play a character other than Mr. Soprano. The actor’s role in In the Loop is certainly a far cry from the BaddaBing! toplessjoint owner and hard-lined mafia boss of The Sopranos, but I kept thinking, “Tony doesn’t act like that” throughout the film. Gandolfini’s addition to this cynical examination of international politics was entertaining and well acted, yet it still left me with the question, “What ever happened to Tony?” This feeling changed last week when I participated as a live viewing member of Gandolfini’s latest acting endeavor in this year’s new Broadway play Gods of Carnage. As I watched his hilarious performance as Michael Vallon—an upper-middle class home-hardware dealer / frustrated father and husband seeking to find a solution to his son’s schoolyard altercations—I barely found myself thinking of Mr. Soprano at all! Co-starring along side Jeff Daniels, Marcia
Gay Harden, and Hope Davis in a performance many of our parents may identify with, Mr. Gandolfini proved to me his talent for versatility. While I may still have been making a futile effort to find hints of Tony Soprano in his new role (I noted Mr. Vallon’s preference for smoking cigars and his ability to dispose of his daughter’s innocent hamster on the side of the road without regret as very Sopranoesque) I could not deny that Gandolfini’s new live role supports his effort to move forward without Mr. Soprano. Unlike many other actors tied to the roles their audience demand of them, Gandolfini has made an effective effort to distance himself from his past. Gods of Carnage received the 2009 Tony for “Best Play” as well as “Best Direction of Play” thanks in large part to Mr. Gandolfini’s performance. Nearly three years after the finale of the hit HBO series The Sopranos, actor James Gandolfini’s name still seems to be synonymous with – even overshadowed by – the word “Tony,” but today that word has a new meaning for the actor who seems to be approaching the ranks of other notables whose careers have moved onwards and upwards without looking back.
november 18, 2009
by Lenny Raney EARWAX EDITOR There was a time when art was easily classifiable as one of five broad mediums: painting, sculpture, music, literature, and performance art. Obviously, some of our most treasured and revered works of art fit comfortably within this medium: the Mona Lisa, the Statue of Liberty, Hamlet, Swan Lake. However, with the advent of postmodernist thought and new technological capabilities, new forms of art have emerged. Interactive installations that use viewers as participants can be found in modern art museums all around the globe. One medium not immediately associated with the term “art,” however, is the video game. Culturally it has developed a stigma as being juvenile and being the providence of teenage suburbanites who are detached from the “real world.” Politicians and parents alike demonize video games as an outlet for our most anti-social tendencies: violence, aggression, and isolation. However, what is not being said is that video games, like sculpture, ballet, and the
by Gregory Moomjy STAFF ART I have been enamored of opera since the age of two. One of my most vivid memories is fantasizing about attending my first Opening Night with my grandma while helping her prepare her famous lamb chops. I couldn’t wait to be old enough to experience the pageantry that I knew accompanied this great event. Ten years later, on the evening of Thursday, November 5, 2009, my dream finally came true. The performers of “American Voices” delivered a truly memorable musical evening. It was a thrill to be amongst a roster of so many red-carpet stars of the opera world, such as Samuel Ramey, Joyce DiDonato, Lauren Flanigan, and Julius Rudel. Considering the company’s recent financial struggles, it was heartwarming to see that they could put such a master cast together. Also, as many of the stars have had superb careers both as singers in the City Opera and The Met, this served as one of many reminders of the importance of the City Opera company as a cultural institution. Unfortunately, due to confusion with the Ram van, I missed the opening orchestral numbers, however, the night proved that the orchestra was in fine condi-
opera, are a very legitimate in the beauty of the level design. form of visual art. They are a It is somewhat steampunk in its window into the imagination inspiration, with puffs of steam of somebody, and they vary in emanating from rusted iron quality and effect as much as the joints in piping and aesthetically more traditionally respected art dilapidated infrastructure. forms. Proof of this assertion “Well shucks, paper, lies in Machinarium, the that’ there’s mighty new point-and-click adpurdy for a video venture game by Amanita game” Design. I cannot imagine that even the most highbrow and pretentious of the art elite could turn their nose up at this. Built on a largely abandoned but timelessly simple medium, Machinarium involves the use of nothing more than the mouse and a few keys on the keyboard to collect objects and solve puzzles in order to reach the next stage. Its story arch follows the plight of an adorable little robot working his way back into a city it was accidentally castigated Each level has a central puzfrom in order to save his love zle that requires solving, and the and the city from impending level of difficulty ranges from doom. Each of the thirty levels very easy in the beginning to is wonderfully hand drawn in surprisingly difficult at the end, excruciating detail, and much and some may be a little put off of the joy in this game comes by just how intricate the puzzles from sitting back and reveling become as the game progresses.
Thankfully, there are two methods of obtaining hints to help when you get stuck. The first is just a simple but somewhat vague hint accessible at any time by clicking a light bulb in the corner of the screen. It offers a short animation of one piece of the puzzle being solved, usually pointing you in the right direction to begin the puzzle. The second is quite more informative, showing a schematic of the entire puzzle, but it can only be viewed once after completing an approximately 60 second long mini game. As you get further in the game, the temptation to use the latter hint becomes very profound, but the mini game is just enough of a deterrent to keep you from going right to it. It is a great design quality that keeps the game from ever feeling too hopeless or too easy to cheat in. The sound in the game is also extraordinary. There is no actual speaking in the game; rather, the characters use picture bubbles to communicate ideas to you and one another
and speak in what sounds suspiciously like a mechanized version of “Simlish” (the language spoken in the Sims). There is also a score to the game, which consists mainly of midtempo electronica and ambiance and adds to and perfectly compliments the atmosphere. I am going to go out on limb here and say that this game really is for anybody who enjoys puzzles. The most avid of gamers can be completely captivated by this game beginning to end for the six to eight hours it lasts in one sitting. The thirty something corporate professional can switch between this and expense reports at work and still get the same amount of intrigue out of it. Are you a fan of Sudoku? Crossword puzzles? Tetris? This game is for you. I am far enough removed from my teenaged video game glory days that I could convincingly call myself a “casual gamer” at best at this point, and Machinarium hits all of the right spots for even the most non-gaming inclined of us. So, head over to www.machinarium.net to download the free demo. This may very well be the Pietà of recent gaming.
tion. Conductors George Manahan and opera legend Julius Rudel drew both power and beauty from a wide range of pieces and musical styles, most notably the hilarious “I Am Easily Assimilated” from Candide, “Take Care of this House” from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, “Les
liloquy” from Carousel. Samuel Barber’s music is ideal for Ms. Flanigan’s voice; she is a beautiful lyric soprano with a voice capable of intense, dramatic coloring. Concerning Mr. Kudisch, I preferred his venture into musical theater to that of Rufus Wainwright in “That’s Entertainment.” Still other stand-outs were soprano Amy Burton in “Les Feux d’Artifice t’Appellent” from Prima Donna and mezzosoprano Joyce DiDonato in “Take Care of this House” from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Burton’s silvery voice helped to emphasize the delicate nature of the vocal line. As for Ms. DiDonato, it was refreshing to see that she could extend her repertoire into something outside of Rossini and The Barber of Seville. She brought a dramatic flair to “Take Care of this House,” which capped the evening perfectly. The only artist that could have been better was Anna Christy, who sang “Blue Green Beautiful Chlorine” from A Wedding. Her timbre seemed to be a little scratchy, although she gave a series of well-rounded and controlled high notes, which made her upper register a delight to listen to. This gave
the audience something to look forward to when she sings the lead role in Handel’s Partenope later on this season. It seemed a wise decision on behalf of the company to concentrate primarily on non-traditional fare. This is because it is widely known that City Opera is in financial trouble. After years of searching for a new general director, they proceeded to renovate the New York State Theater at the direction of the newly-appointed Gerard Mortier, then working at the Paris Opera. In an unfortunate turn of events, the Frenchman turned down the offer at the last minute and drove the theater into further debt. The opening of the theater, now renamed after its biggest benefactor, David H. Koch, was much anticipated after this difficulty. In his opening speech, General Manager George Steele drew attention to the enhanced capabilities of the new theater and City Opera’s vital place in the New York City arts scene. Mr. Steele reminded the audience that the New York City Opera not only was the starting point for many of the 20th Century’s biggest stars, Beverly Sills among them but also continues to be a haven for the kind of contemporary opera that demonstrates the art form’s capability to comment on modern society.
“Quiero Cantar Entre las Explosiones” from Ainadamar and possibly others. As I had hoped, nearly all the singers whom I idolized were in excellent form. Samuel Ramey is a baritone who not only has a profound voice but also is blessed with consum-
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Feux d’Artifice t’Appellent” from Prima Donna, and the Revival Scene from Susannah. Mr. Rudel conducted this last piece and showcased his ability to bring out the drama behind the music. Throughout the entire scene, there was something very foreboding in the orchestra’s playing that ran contrary to the chorus, which was singing a Christian hymn. Unfortunately, the orchestra seemed to overpower the singers at times. This was especially the case in
mate acting capabilities. At this point, he has an impressive career behind him already; it was good to see that neither his voice nor his stage presence show any sign of slowing down. Ramey’s preacher in the Revival scene of Susannah was a chilling representation of an overzealous minister obsessed with fire and brimstone. Other highlights included Lauren Flanigan’s rendition of “Do Not Utter a Word, Anatol” from Vanessa as well as Marc Kudisch’s “Billy’s So-
november 18, 2009
In celebration of Roland Emmerich’s latest disaster epic, 2012, the paper is going to take a look at some of our favorite disaster movies. Bear in mind, none of these movies are particularly good, but then neither is 2012, which is tracking below 40% on rottentomatoes.com. There is something about the disaster movie, and its prominence in American culture that must be addressed. Why are we so obsessed with seeing cities destroyed, national monuments ruined, and crowds of people swept away by alien lasers or advancing tidal waves? Go to Hollywood. Write a touching screenplay about the trials of a working man, try to sell it, and you’ll probably get kick in the nuts by some fat executive with several rings and a cigar in his mouth. Write a screenplay about every city in the work simultaneously falling apart, call it “DEATH WORLD” or something like that, and that same executive will LITERALLY throw money at you. LITERALLY. Seriously dude, we’ve done it before. We’re not going to see 2012, not unless you pay for tickets and popcorn, but we’re always looking for an opportunity to spout some irrelevant shit about movies with huge explosions. So, down to brass tax. the paper does disaster porn:b The Towering Inferno (1974) The Towering Inferno has every quality a good disaster movie should. Huge budget. Huge building ripe for destruction. Huge cast. And by huge cast, I mean, fucking enormously epic ensemble cast of awesome actors. Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and Faye Dunaway are just a taste. Woof. That’s alotta pretty people. Towering Inferno is considered a disaster movie not because of any huge amount of destruction, but because of the huge size of the disaster. Basically, a wide cross-section of characters are trapped in a huge, 138 story glass tower. A fire breaks out, and shit gets real. O.J Simpson is in it too. He saves a cat. The Towering Inferno brought in three, count ‘em, three Academy Awards. Best Cinematography, Best Editing, and Best Song. Can you imagine The Day After Tomorrow pulling that shit? No way, bro. No way. Independence Day (1996) My aunt’s parents went to see Independence Day for the 4th of July in 1996 thinking it was a historical drama about America’s real independence day. Instead, they saw the world’s major cities demolished by a disturbingly cool-looking laser, Jeff Goldblum downing a bottle of booze and being shot into space with grandiose dreams of infecting the spaceship of a civilization vastly superior to ours with a simple computer virus, Will Smith with a more perfect physique than in any other movie, and Randy Quaid, playing Russell Casse, the world’s greatest alcoholic hero, talking about alien butt probes and single handedly saving the world by flying his plane into the heart of the alien ship while on the radio with his son. Because of Bill Pullman’s inspiring speech before the final battle, I’ve cried more times during Independence Day than any other movie, and no other disaster movie will compare unless they also include Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum running towards their women, cigars in hand, while the remains of an entire alien race rain down behind them. Armageddon (1998) Some people say that Armageddon is not a disaster movie, as Bruce Willis and his team of deep sea oil drillers prevent any world-ending disaster from occurring. To these people, I politely extend my middle finger. Armageddon is so a disaster movie. Remember that large man who was struck by a meteorite whilst arguing with Eddie Griffin because Eddie Griffin’s dog was biting the large man’s Godzilla merch? Yeah. Bet that guy would consider Armageddon a disaster movie. Armageddon displays the length of Michael Bay’s expertise. His wit, his grasp of aesthetics, his penchant for inserting a ridiculous amount of phallic imagery. All are present. And please, do you remember the first time you saw Liv Tyler and Ben Affleck making sweet, sweet, hot-nasty, tender love to Aerosmith’s “I don’t want to miss a thing.” I do. I’m going to name my kids after that scene. The Day After Tomorrow (2004) If Independence Day was Roland Emmerich’s masterpiece (I’m speaking hypothetically here), then The Day After Tomorrow is his finding God after a long battle with heroine abuse, but replace “God” with “CGI” and “heroine” with “Godzilla remakes”. Capitalizing on fear of the world’s new, impersonal bogeyman, global warming, Tomorrow pits a dashing Jake Gyllenhaal as a college student trapped in a flooded and frozen New York and a less-than-dashing Dennis Quaid as his environmental scientist father who traverses the frozen East Coast to find him. Emmerich exploits his audience’s love of watching familiar landmarks get destroyed in novel ways, and the “preservation of civilization in trying times” themes beat the viewer over the head almost as hard as the fucking mutant snow wolves slam themselves into every object in their path in pursuit of Gyllenhaal and comrades. But somehow, even with the alteration of the world as we know it, things end triumphantly, humanity will persevere, and blah and whatever. I was just pissed that Jake Gyllenhaal, perpetual tragic hero, was still breathing when the credits rolled.
november 18, 2009 the paper
the paper’s big list by the paper STAFF OF MILLIONS SEVERAL eriously, dawg, we here at the paper don’t even know why you come around here anymore. Don’t you get it, man? Don’t you understand? Your presence is not appreciated, your comments not counted. Your face evokes waves of misery and disdain, and we are 100% sure that the evil, violent thoughts you have forced us to imagine have earned us 2,000 years in purgatory. When you’re not around, we callous your image with vitriol. There is a dart board somewhere with your high school senior picture lackadaisically taped onto it, and someone has arranged it so there’s a dart sticking into each of your eyeballs. NOBODY HAS MOVED THEM FOR WEEKS. Your voice sounds worse than progressive rock, and your presence produces more negative vibes that Kudzu. Wood was petrified when you were birthed, and your dead decaying body will indubitably create a zone of biological non-existence once your next of kin (seriously, bro, do you even have any?) bury you. In other words, we hate you. Here’s why:
Because You Remind Me of Myself You aren’t better than everyone else, so stop thinking that you are. Just because she dances with you at the bar doesn’t mean she wants to fuck you. You’re not attractive and kind of fat. Nobody gives a shit that you know the difference between a chop and a dice. Why don’t you just cook dinner and shut the fuck up? Watch less NCIS reruns and do something productive. Do you think you’re cool because you pop your collar? It makes you look like a douche bag. And you’re such an egomaniac you even had to make this list about you, too. by Max Siegal NEWS CO-EDITOR I Know What You Did Oh, come on. Don’t give me your naïve, innocent, puppy-faced bullshit; I’m done pretending here. You know exactly what you did, and if you honestly don’t then it’s not even worth a minute of my time to discuss this with you. Really? You can’t be serious. Just give up the façade of ignorance and own up like a fucking adult. We’re not children here, you know. Grow a pair and just admit that you were wrong, and maybe we can get past this. All
I ask is that you recognize that quiet for long periods of time what you did was offensive, and think I don’t know it’s you immature and outright racist; trying to be passive-aggressive. nothing more, nothing less. I’m So just stop! And stop listening giving you a chance to make it to music on your headphones better, here. You’d have to be if you’re going to turn it up rea moron or really have some- ally loud anyway. Stop filling thing against our friendship not my glass all the way to the top to take it. So that’s how you’re with ice cubes, and stop saying going to approach it? Throw you’re pro-choice in a ‘theoup your hands and continue to retical sense,’ and stop leaving maintain that you have no idea your shoes by the door, and stop what I’m talking about? You using your charity work as an know what, that’s fine. I hope excuse to be an asshole, AND feigning ignorance gets you re- FOR GOD’S SAKE STOP ally, really far in this guy’s got the right idea your life. Fuck you. by Sean Patrick Kelly STAFF CANKER SORE Because of my Recessive Gene Oh, my double helix. What an epic fail. In a family where E V E RY O N E , immediate or extended, has brown hair or blue eyes, you chose to entwine yourself with the most recessive genes ever and saddle me with an incurable genetic disease: gingervitis. I just really appreciate the instant sunburn with more than an hour of UV exposure, I can’t wait to shell out hundreds of dollars to Banana Boat every summer. Who cares if VOGUE deemed ginger “the new blonde” if you don’t actually possess a soul? I just looove being a freckled melanin-deficient shell of a person. Thank you, Celtic ancestory! Oh and thank you parents, for having a second, normal child to taunt me with his non-translucent skin and ability to go into the sun. You really did a solid when you chose which chromosomes to dole out, subjecting your first child to a lifetime of shadows and ridicule. I hope you’ll be happy when your grandkids are equally diseased. Way to fucking go. by Mickie Meinhardt STAFF RED MIST EVERYTHING What do I NOT hate about you at this point? No, NO— there you go, No. 1: you always answer rhetorical questions in a misguided attempt to diffuse the situation. AND. YOU. FAIL. Good. Stay quiet. Speaking of which, I hate it when you’re
looking at me like you’re going to have any kind of response to this, because you will not have ANY RESPONSE, because I am LEAVING! And I’m taking the cat. by Your Significant Other STAFF FARTS IN BED Because You Hated Me First From the first day I’ve known you I’ve done nothing against you, but every time we come into contact you give me a death stare as if you walked in on me lighting your cat on fire and smashing precious family heirlooms. Maybe you’re just that type of person who always has that look on their face, so I gave you a chance. I tried to be friendly towards you, but that didn’t change anything at all, so now I’m pretty sure that you just hate me. It didn’t have to be this way, but hey, this isn’t my fault. Keep hating me for all I care. That’s fine. I hate you too. by Elena Lightbourn STAFF RECIPROCITY ‘Cause I wanna Get Drunk I hate you because you’ve blown my, “I try to stay away
from that stuff” lie to bits and pieces. I hate you because it’s almost Thanksgiving, and I’ve already heard, transcribed, and memorized my parent’s speech about how they’re not paying for a four year party. Since mid October, I’ve been eating each semi-edible meal at the caf with the afterthought of how terrific turkey will be, especially when juxtaposed with a mineral masquerading as mystery meat masquerading as chicken with black marks masquerading as grill lines. And now the afterthought of Thanksgiving has become as bitter as that sip of cheap vodka that I only remember won’t be followed by a chaser as its midway down my esophagus, which becomes even more bitter as I remember the bitterness that will be bitterly spewing in my direction from the very second I walk through my door laden with bags filled with dirty laundry covering more bottles of cheap vodka. by Lauren Duca STAFF DRUNK Because I’m Black Ronald Reagan and crack cocaine. BET. Soul Plane. Stealing Tiger Woods. Katrina. Funding Tyler Perry movies. AIDS. Michael Richards. Al Roker. Ketchup as a vegetable. Vanilla Ice. Raising the tax on malt liquor. Kentucky Grilled Chicken. Predatory lending. Gentrification. Straight hair. Jacob the Jeweler. DNA paternity tests. Cancelling UPN. The CIA’s involvement in killing Biggie and Tupac. White Man’s Burden. Blackface. Rodney King AND O.J. Black characters in horror movies. Crunkcore. Affirmative Action. Winter sports. Oh, and slavery. by Lenny Raney EARWAX EDITOR You Unfriended Me On Facebook So you thought I wouldn’t notice. You assumed that after a flurry of wall posts, two 2 AM drunk chats, and at least six pictures in which we both were tagged that I wouldn’t notice the “Add As Friend” box at the top of your Facebook page. At first I thought it was just a glitch, but I friended you six days ago and Nothing. Has. Changed. I hate
you because I know you see me in your Friends Requests. I’m probably even listed under your “Suggestions” sidebar. My question is this: Are you going to continue to copy artists from my Last.fm to put in your “Favorite Music” box? Are you going to keep reposting the Mr. Chi City videos I sent you as if you found them yourself? You know what, fine. I don’t need you clogging up my Mini Feed with your Farmville updates and SocialInterview.com answers anyway. by Marisa Carroll STAFF NETWORKER Because We Don’t Know Each Other... Sure, things used to be great, amazing even. Walks in Central Park, crashing keggers, talking all night long and making French toast in the morning – we had so much in common and shared everything. But ever since we started major classes… things have been different. Let’s face it, when was the last time you really made time for me? And when we talk now, it’s all “Adam Smith” this and “Milton Friedman” that and “Marx was an idealist hack.” Do you even care about the paper I’m writing on the homoerotic overtones in Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poetry? You used to at least pretend to be interested in what I do, but now you’re just so above all that. What? Oh, come on, that’s unfair. No, no, I won’t say it… Fine. I hate you because you’re an Economics major. Happy now? Burn in fucking hell. by Alex Orf NEWS CO-EDITOR Because You’re Never There For Me Simply put, it comes down to what I’ve said a million times: you’re just not there for me. Sometimes I feel like I don’t even really know what your face looks like, and everytime we’re together I can’t even tell if you understand what I’m telling you. You just stare into the distance and occasionally queef. I’m going to be as clear as possible: I hate you. Until you exist and obey me, I hate you. I woke up this morning, looked in the mirror, and said “it’s time to wake up,” and then I woke up and looked at you, and that’s why you’re covered in vomit. Listen, I’m sorry, I hate you, I really really do – and I meant it, truly. If you can’t tell me you hate me back, it will be hard, but I will be fine. I can find hate in other places. Can I have a cigarette? by Kaitlin Campbell STAFF CRYBABY
november 18, 2009 it shrugs its shoulders.” Easing the acerbity, she repeats these lines to end the record peacefully, its storm having passed. With this consistent mix of turbulence and sweetness, Holy Ghost! sustains a simple richness throughout, seamlessly meandering between folk and soul, fast and slow, and melancholy and playful.
LIL’ WAYNE No Ceilings by Alex Blalock
Namaste. We’re back to normal here at the ‘Wax, and because Fearwax had no new releases, we have a backlog of new material to get to. Yours truly staked claim to the lead article this time around, reviewing some fantastic African music from the 60’s and 70’s. Also, we have reviews of indie folksters Laura Stevenson and The Cans’ new effort as well as recently convicted ‘martian’ Lil’ Wayne’s newest mixtape. Indie rocker Bradford Cox’s fairly awesome solo project Atlas Sound is also featured, and although I haven’t listened to it myself, the album cover features Cox shirtless, exposing his pretty bad case of Pectum Excavatum, which is probably indicative of its general weirdness. Lastly, African globe trotters BLK JKS get the once over. Happy reading! GHANA SPECIAL Modern Highlife, Afro-Sounds & Ghanaian Blues 1968-81 by Lenny Raney Last semester, I wrote an article for the Arts section about the vibrant West African music scene in the 60’s and 70’s, featuring such luminaries as Nigeria’s Fela Kuti and Benin’s Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou. I explained the concept of polyrhythm and its roots in the African cultural tradition. More pertinent to this review, however, I also baited the notion that this renewed interest in the West African musical output of the second half of the 20th century would bear some delicious fruit as more time and resources were spent scouring the continent. Well, I’m happy to report that I was right. The second in a series of African compilations by Soundway Records, Ghana Special is a wonderfully deep collection of
33 unreleased tracks by artists (some famous, others not so much) primarily in the Highlife genre. Highlife is a combination of traditional African music and American funk with a distinctly Afro-Cuban sentimentality. It’s a little more midtempo than the faster, more aggressive funk of Fela Kuti or Orchestre PolyRhythmo but still danceable in every sense. The musicianship on this compilation is of the highest level. The drumming is perfectly metronomic, the guitar solos are precise and varied, and the vocal harmonizing is pitch perfect. On “Bofoo Beye Abowa Den,” St. Peter & The Holymen put together a wonderfully calming and lighthearted tune, and although I am not fluent in Akan, I can only surmise that whatever they are singing about is as happy and carefree as the melody. Well, as the old adage goes, music is the universal language, and fluency is simply a matter of allowing oneself to get carried away in it. Speaking of language, there are several songs featured in Ghana Special that are sung in English. Amongst them include “Them Go Talk of You” by The Cutlass Dance Band, “You Can Go” by The Bokoor Band, and “I Go Die For You” by Kyeremateng Atwede. It’s a little bit off-putting at first to listen to English lyrics sung in a thick African accent over distinctly African rhythms, but it is important to note that the official language of Ghana is, in fact, English. This is almost a microcosm of the pluralistic leanings of this sort of music, as this genre wears its vast influences on its sleeve. From one song to another you may hear a jazz organ, waltz time signature, a salsa-tinged piano solo, a balls-to-the-wall electric guitar shred session, and,
of course, the timeless 3/4-4/4 polyrhythm. This is cultural appropriation done right: a blending of all of the best bits of the popular musical lexicon of the time rolled up into one neat and highly enjoyable package that is somehow able to remain distinctly African.
LAURA STEVENSON AND THE CANS Holy Ghost! by Sarah Madges A self-proclaimed “nervous brand of soul metal,” Laura Stevenson and The Cans produce much more than sophomoric titters about Laura Stevenson and “Her Cans.” Born in Brooklyn in 1984, singer-songwriter Laura is now busy being adorable in Long Island. Though her second record release, on October 20th, Holy Ghost!, might at first glance diverge from the collective, Bomb the Music Industry!, for which she plays keyboard, the liner notes prove otherwise. Officially released November 13th on Mandible Records, the new 7” was recorded this past June by Jeff Rosenstock of BTMI! In fact, “The Cans” originally consisted primarily of BTMI! members, though there are now a few extras who lend a certain orchestral richness to the three songs. “Mouthbreather” opens with Laura’s distorted guitar tickling out arpeggios as her girl-nextdoor voice swells in sweetness and volume. The sparse instrumentation gradually thickens; the whisper of cymbals, whistle of horns, and finally the breath
of strings culminate as Laura tests her larynx’s limits by the chorus. Punctuated pauses dramatize her voice as it trills upwards, and violins whine with a guitar riff that seems to tell a secret. Having settled down, the distortion kicks back in with trombones and trumpets in a euphonic ruckus. The song reaches an emotional climax as the instrumentation explodes with the lyrics and then fades out. Following more gently, the title track begins with spectral slurs that provide the white noise against which Laura begins her solemn prayer: “Oh dear lord, I can feel your claws upon me / scratching sweetly, scratching sweetly, in the middle of the night.” She hums her hymn soulfully with violin accompaniment, and her voice makes glissandos as smooth as the strings. She pleads, “Make it alright,” over and over, although she sounds less desperate than hopeful. A fuzzy guitar kicks in with the strings and drums while a second vocalist joins her entreaty until the song ends as softly and mysteriously as it began. The last track, “Gathering and Leaping,” compositionally borrows from both of those gerunds as it gathers speed and makes leaps. Beginning with an eerie overdrive like the quiet before a storm, an enlivened guitar starts strumming, while violins and drums assist the vivace march of a sea shanty. Laura’s voice loses its saccharine tinge as it bends airwaves like the heavy wind she sings about. At the chorus, the tempo slows so that the guitar’s pizzicatos highlight her voice’s ability to weaken without losing impact. An accordion blends with violins to guide us back to the up-down strokes of both her voice and guitar as she spits, “We rearrange the streets in our favor so that as we grow older /
“Okay! No ceilings! Mother fucker good mornin’! Dick in your mouth while you’re yawnin’, I’m goin’ in!” These opening lines off the track “Watch My Shoes” set the mood for Lil’ Wayne’s newest mixtape, No Ceilings. Scheduled to drop on Halloween, the mixtape was leaked on sites such as Datpiff and Biggy Jiggy Mixtapes, giving anxious fans like myself the opportunity to hear Wayne’s first mixtape in over almost two years. Anticipating greatness after hearing singles such as “Wasted,” “Swag Surfin,” and “Run This Town” which seemed to go harder than any of the tracks we heard on Lil’ Wayne’s last mixtape Da Drought 3 (hailed as the best mixtape in 2007 by MTV news), No Ceilings surely delivers. Working off of the theme “your beat ain’t safe,” a message Lil’ Wayne sends to artists in the track “Outro,” Wayne demonstrates his lyrical genius by rapping over beats by Gucci Mane, The Black Eyes Peas, Lady Gaga, and Jay-Z, to name a few. But let’s be real here, the beats Wayne raps over are not what make him great. What makes Lil’ Wayne “the best rapper alive” is his unique approach to music, as well as the similes, metaphors, and illogical twists and turns which culminate to form his utterly indescribable lyrics. First time listeners might be tempted to describe Wayne’s music as “random,” but I urge those listeners to pay closer attention to his lyrics (or Lyrics. com his songs) and understand that yes, what Wayne is saying may be random, but it’s smart. Wayne’s lyrics are creative and intelligent and form verses that make sense in a way no other MC’s ever could. Weezy commands listeners with the opening lines in his remix of “Run This Town,” rapping, “Nigga we are so ready for the war. ‘C-A-R-T-E-R’ / put the beat in ER / I’m colder than ‘B-R,’ add another 3 R’s / Watch me like D-V-D, V-C-R. Pump to your chest / I ain’t talkin’ CPR / Ridin’ this track like a mutha fucking streetcar / New Orleans coroner/ His name is Frank Minyard. Fuck with me wrong / you’ll be waking up in his yard.”
While rhymes off this track and others such as “Banned From T.V.” demonstrate Wayne going harder on the beat, he definitely finds time to show his sense of humor. My favorite example is an analogy he uses in “Wasted,” explaining, “Your flow never wet like Grandma pussy / I’m always good like Grandma cookies.” While the future has become somewhat ambiguous for Wayne due to his guilty plea on charges of illegal weapon possession, fans remain hopeful that he will still release his “rock” album entitled Tha Carter IV on December 15th. This album, along with the first ever Young Money record, are both scheduled to drop in early December and will hopefully distract media attention from Lil’ Wayne’s legal troubles and focus it back to his music. Yet all things considered, Lil’ Wayne remains optimistic for the future of his career, expressing this confidence in an interlude on No Ceilings in which he urges his listeners, “I would love for you to look up into the building and understand that there is no ceilings / there’s only the sky, and the sky’s the limit.”
BLK JKS After Robots by Will Yates When sometimes it seems all music avenues have been exhausted, BLK JKS is undoubtedly a band that is completely incomparable in genre or style to any other, past or present, for better or worse. They approach their craft with an intensity that shows from start to finish, pervading this album with an excitement all its own. This is the band’s first real work, mixing a hazy afro-futurism with alt rock and epic orchestration; after languishing in obscurity, at least in America, for 6 years in their native South Africa, they started to catch the attention of stateside artists and performed to acclaim at a few smaller festivals. They finally captured the sound of their bizarre passions in Illinois this January in the home of Secret Machines singer Brandon Curtis. The hype since then has been thundering and at times misleading, resulting in the over-reported comparison to TV
on the Radio. Ignoring the hype, the album sounds exactly like it wants to, which is often like nothing else before it. It has its own sphere of musical reference points, but an attempt at comparison would certainly result in mentions of Radiohead, The Mars Volta, and other alt rock demigods; I would contend that it more accurately sounds just as big and daring as those groups, but not like them in content. The ambitious four youths from Soweto — the epicenter of the Apartheid resistance movement 17 years ago—reach out to styles as diverse as ska, shoegaze, Krautrock, and jazz. The undisputed best song, “Banna Ba Modimo,” characterizes the whole album’s swaying grandiosity. Tshepang Ramoba’s jittering beats lay the framework for warped guitars and absurd levels of roaring feedback. The Arabic-tinged horn sections add a bombast and theatricality that is almost silly until all the energy is stolen by a meandering midsection that nearly loses itself in the haze. The epic qualities continue for the rest of the eight tracks, towering layers of instrumentation upon themselves to reach a loud mélange, which has been written off as pretentious experimenting for its own sake but is more subtly haunting than just plain weird. I would almost have grown tired of the sound if they had decided to throw in another opus for the last track, but instead they pull out the electricity and hit with the emotional “Tselane.” Its plinking piano and acoustic strumming reminisces of “No Surprises,” while Lindani Buthelezi recites arrhythmic Zulu verses with powerful effect. The sum total of After Robots is a grungy haze mixed with irresistible emotion and ornamentation. BLK JKS have not merely met the hype, but exceeded it, displaying one of the most hugely creative and focused works in recent memory.
ATLAS SOUND Logos by Marisa Carroll The first review I encountered of Atlas Sound’s second studio album, Logos, was this update from my friend’s Tumblr feed: “‘Shelia’ by Atlas Sound will be the processional at my wedding.” Fans of Atlas Sound—better known as the side project of Bradford Cox of Deerhunter — buy into the band for this taste of ambient romanticism. Cox molds soundscapes using tape loops, organ chords, and endless drum manipulation. The result is a soundtrack to the moments, as best defined by the Arcade Fire, “between the click of the light and the start of the dream.” The album opens in familiar territory for Cox with the song “The Light That Failed.” Quiet, with a maraca emitting the most staccato sounds, the song wanders through tenderly plucked guitar chords and Cox’s whispers of “We would never, would we never?” It’s an eerie opening from a band known for eeriness, and the weirdness is only amplified with the following “An Orchid.” Though lacking in substance lyrically, both songs set a profoundly sad landscape for the rest of the album. It is surprising, then, that the album’s third track is perhaps its most upbeat. “Walkabout” is a collaboration between Cox and Animal Collective’s Noah Lennox (Panda Bear). The song sounds like a cut track from Merriweather Post Pavilion, a sort of tambourine-driven companion to “Also Frightened.” Lennox’s naïve musings, “What did you want to see? What did you want to be when you grew up?” contrast starkly with the sad cynicism that weave throughout the rest of Logos. This contrast makes it difficult to declare “Walkabout” one of Logos’s best tracks, but “Walkabout” is definitely one of Logos’s best tracks. It is also one of the cheeriest of pop songs in either musician’s catalogue. The other collaboration on Logos is “Quick Canal,” which Cox recorded with Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier. Like “Walkabout,” the song is dominated by the guest artist’s aesthetic. More so than on “Walkabout,” the song does gradually incorporate Cox’s la-di-das, tambourines, and drum machines, momentum building throughout its almost nine minutes. While “Quick Canal” and “Walkabout” move away from the Atlas Sound of the past, “Criminals” brings me back to Deerhunter’s Microcastle. With its basic drum kit and untouched vocals, its one of the most straightforward songs on Logos; the closest it comes to wackiness is the distinct tap-
november 18, 2009
ping of bells. The same can be said of bass-driven, waltzy “My Halo” and sleepy “Washington School.” Cox is adamant in interviews that he writes songs distinctly for Atlas Sound or Deerhunter, but these tracks reinforce critics who say the two projects are basically the same. Their argument falls apart, however, with tracks like “Shelia,” “Kid Klimax,” and “Logos,” which return to the weirdness that define the album’s early tracks. I imagine Cox recording these songs in a trance on a spaceship or some other absurd combination of moods and locations. The best part of Logos’s ambient tracks is that
they are infinitely listenable, whether you’re writing a paper, sitting on the D train, or drifting into dreams. While they are anything but upbeat, there is definitely something romantic about the songs—there is a sensuality in their ambience. Simply put, if my friend actually uses “Shelia” in her wedding, I will be fully supportive.
the paper’s ill-legal download list FOUR TET - “LOVE CRY” http://www.myspace.com/fourtetkieranhebden Idiosyncratic electronaut Four Tet is an acquired taste, that much everybody can agree on. Probably not even his most ardent fans fell in love at first listen. However, he is a specialist at slowly boring a hole straight through initial reservations and finding a permanent spot in your heart. His new single, “Love Cry,” is absolutely no exception. This song subtlely hints at acid house, dubstep, and traditional African percussion as it nocturnally rolls along through its nine minute duration. It would be perfect night driving music if it didn’t entirely zone you out.
THEM CROOKED VULTURES - “MIND ERASER, NO CHASER” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcLc-Wgu8C8 So, in case you’ve been living under a rock, Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters), and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) have recorded an album together. The newest single, “Mind Eraser, No Chaser” is some seriously heavy shit, with walls upon walls of guitars, snarls, and other various badassery. Yes, please.
BEYONCÉ & LADY GAGA - “VIDEO PHONE” http://www.last.fm/music/Beyoncé/_/Video+Phone The two most important female solo artists of the moment coming together for anything is surely a momentous occasion. We will let your imaginations run from there, but those of you whose aren’t so vivid, do not fret, these two don’t leave much to it. PS: This is confirmed as Beyoncé’s next single and she and GaGa already have already filmed a video. We’re not exactly sure what we’d like to see more: Beyoncé sleeping with skeletons or Lady GaGa doing the “Single Ladies” dance. Obviously, we’re crossing our fingers for both.
SOLANGE KNOWLES - “STILLNESS IS THE MOVE” (DIRTY PROJECTORS COVER) http://stereogum.com/archives/mp3/solange_covers_dirtyprojectors_100771.html We at the paper would really like to know what Mama Knowles’s diet was during her pregnancy, because her daughters are seven kinds of fire. The lesser known of the two, baby sis Solange, recently covered the Dirty Projector’s hit “Stillness is the Move” over a reworked version of Dr. Dre’s beat from the song “Xplosion.” It captures all of the head nodding crossover appeal of the original but adds an extra layer of soul that makes the song just as good, possibly better, than the original.
MILLIONYOUNG - “YOUTHLESS” http://www.myspace.com/millionyoungmusic Happy music gets an unfair rap. Sometimes we just want to twee the fuck out and revel in the beauty of it all, but no, being hard is in. Well, new blood MillionYoung makes it easy to do just that. Sunny guitars and airy vocals elicit the beach, swimming trunks, and falling in love, so head over to his MySpace and snap your fingers, smile unabashedly, and think about not being in the dreary Bronx this absurdly rainy November.
by Sam Wadhams SPORTS EDITOR Fordham University’s Rugby Football Club, the eminent FURFC, smashed teeth and rearranged faces over the last two weeks, claiming both the Metropolitan New York title and winning the first round of the Northeast playoffs. Fordham, who went 4-2 in the regular season, first squared off against Army’s C side, the reserve squad to the number six team in the nation. Army had handed Fordham both of their regular season losses, and Fordham and Army seemed to be the only teams in contention this year, going combined 10-2, with the rest of the division going 2-10. This was partly due to Rutgers moving to Division II and Columbia re-aligning themselves with a new Ivy rugby league. The remaining teams, King’s Point Merchant Marine Academy and SUNY New Paltz, were underwhelming competition, though King’s Point did keep their rivalry with Fordham alive with two (comparatively) close matches, Fordham winning 15-5 and 19-5. All this meant that the stakes for Fordham’s battle with Army on October 30th were even higher. Fordham’s solid record would be meaningless without a win against a good team, and Army’s impressive regular season, scoring 252 points and allowing only 17, would be dashed against the rocks without a Met title. “We came out slow, but we chipped away,” said Fordham coach Andrew “Gary Baldi” Gheraldi. “It was tied up until they scored at the end of the game, with under a minute left. It looked pretty grim, but there was time for about one more drive. [Junior Eight-Man Ryan] McTiernan popped it to Keith [Reid], who ran it about forty meters for a try to give us the win. It was pretty amazing.” This was Fordham’s first Met title since 2004, though last year they still made the Northeast playoffs as the Met runners-up. Fordham’s thrilling victory over Army gave them the number four seed in the north-
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east playoffs, which combines the New England Rugby Football Union, the Metropolitan New York RFU, and the New York State Rugby Conference. Above them in the playoffs were Army (national #6), Dartmouth (national #5), and Syracuse (national #24). But Fordham’s first playoff test would be at home against St. Bonaventure. St. Bo-
the teams went to the half tied 7-7. At the half, Gheraldi pulled the team’s focus home. Despite a grueling, evenly matched first half, he let the team know what they were playing for, saying “We’re in this game, we’ve got forty more minutes on the home field, let’s take care of business.” Things went south pretty
game and send the victor to the Northeast semifinals; a mistake would send them home to sulk. Several players left with injuries, and as the eightieth minute passed it look like the game would have no resolution. Both teams were on the verge of collapse; it looked like a matter of who would implode first. Thirty yards from the goal line, Eightm a n McTiernan offloaded a ball to co-captain TJ Carroll, w h o ripped through a hole in the defense, slid by the last defender, and touched down a try to an explosion Jr. Ryan McTiernan, Sr. Tim Schwartz and Sr. Jim Wright roll the dudes of St. Bonavenof cheers ture. Photo courtesy of Ed Hagerty, Rugby Magazine from the naventure is located in the tiny quickly; within ten minutes St. Fordham crowd. The convershotgun-shack town of Olean, Bonaventure had scored another sion was missed, but the ref New York, six hours from the try but failed to convert, leav- immediately blew the three city, west with the setting sun. ing them up over Fordham 12- long blasts signaling the game’s While Fordham was the higher 7. Fordham continued to play end. The crowd erupted, pourseeded team, competition in the staunch, stifling defense, forc- ing from the sideline to cheer New York State Rugby Confer- ing St. Bonaventure into a more Fordham on. Final score: Fordence is much stronger than in kicking-focused game, and St. ham-17, St. Bonaventure-12. the Met. St. Bonaventure, who Bonaventure had more than a Following the win and anwas ranked as high as #25 this few opportunities to score off other week of hard practices, year, went 5-1 with one loss, to of Fordham penalties, botched Fordham traveled to West Point Syracuse, and was not a team to kicks, and sideline breakaways. to face the Army A side for a be underestimated. But while Fordham’s defense at berth in the final 16 of the NaThe Bonnies were an in- times bent, it never broke, cul- tional Tournament. Fordham timidating field presence, dra- minating in holding up St. Bo- kept up with Army, down only matically larger than Fordham, naventure’s go-ahead try at the 10-7 at halftime, but in the fiespecially up front, but lacked one-yard line. Eventually, Keith nal 20 minutes the Army team the all-out tenacity that has be- Reid picked up an inside ball began to capitalize on a tired come the trademark of Fordham and broke through the St. Bo- Fordham squad and ran away Rugby. There was some early naventure line again, touching with the game. That said, the back and forth, both teams driv- down the tying try with about squad made quite an impression ing the length of the field only to fifteen minutes to spare. Co- of Army coach Rich Pohlidal, be stopped at the goal line, until Captain Matt Savolskis missed “Fordham are a legitimate DI finally Fordham’s sophomore the long conversion, and the team,” Pohlidal said, specificenter Keith Reid broke through game remained tied. As time cally mentioning Carroll. the St. Bonaventure line for a wound down the two embattled, That said, there’s no shame big try. Fordham converted, but exhausted teams grappled for in losing a good game to one of after some more back and forth supremacy. A penalty kick, the top 10 teams in the nation, St. Bonaventure scored a try and drop goal, or try would seal the and with last spring’s Cherry
Blossoms victory dovetailing into this year’s Met championship and an impressive playoff performance, this squad is destined to be long remembered as one of Fordham’s best. Rugby, and Fordham rugby in particular, has a strange reputation. It’s impossible for the casual fan to separate rugby the game from rugby the institution; the abounding image people share is burly men with black eyes and striped shirts swilling beer from glass mugs and head butting each other. While there is truth to this myth, it belies the fact that Fordham’s rugby program is among it’s most successful teams, having gone 16-5 (12-4 league) in the last two seasons, with three losses to Army sides and one to a nationally ranked Syracuse team last year, a national invitational tournament victory, and no small amount of national attention. By the same token, Fordham Football has gone 9-12, including hilarious exhibition games against atrocious teams like Yale, Marist, and Columbia (who we’ve split with). This is done on a shoestring budget; without access to varsity weight rooms or any kind of training staff, players treat injuries themselves, their only options being ice and aspirin or a trip to the hospital. Practices are run often on the short prep field, sometimes without security bothering to turn on the lights, forcing the team to practice in the dark. By contrast, Fordham’s football program is propped up with enough diamond-plate steel, complimentary Under-Armor, and millions of dollars that it costs the school about a freshman dorm floor’s worth of tuition per loss. Granted, I made those numbers completely up, but I would not be surprised to find them accurate. But even with a loss in the cold rain to Army, Fordham rugby will look back at this season as an astounding success. Capturing a Met title and winning a regional playoff game is an astounding achievement and a great platform from which to spring to the next level.