GCHS ECHO - Winter 2022

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ECHO Fall 2021 / Winter 2022

Table of Contents Editors-in-Chief Isabel Taveras & Melissa Ng Assistant Editor-in-Chief Mary Grlic Manager Corinne Lafont World/National News (Page 4) Corinne Lafont, Editor Emma Rathgeber, Editor Community/School News (Page 11) Iyaa Kalra, Editor Daniel Butt, Editor Student Spotlight (Page 12 ) Maria Santos, Editor Reviews (Page 13) Mary Grlic, Editor Nicole Russo, Editor

Faculty Advisor Ms. Skolnik


NOTE: The opinions expressed in the following articles do not represent the opinions of the administrative staff at GCHS, merely those of the writers themselves.

Dear Readers, We’ve come a long way since the start of the pandemic. From shutdowns to reopenings, obstacles seem to keep appearing in our way of progress. The new variant, Omicron, rampaged through our country and many schools had to resort to temporary remote learning. Once again, however, we are slowly overcoming these setbacks. Nassau County’s number of positive cases has declined since its peak in the week of January 6th, but the infection rate still remains high for those unvaccinated. Nevertheless, we welcome 2022 as proof that we persevere in the face of adversity. With 63% of our nation’s population fully vaccinated, we’ve seen significant progress in reopening schools and restaurants. Thanks to the cooperation in wearing masks and keeping up with vaccinations, we can finally enjoy our favorite activities and return to school safely. In this first ECHO publication of the year, various topics are covered. Our writers discuss award ceremonies, sports tournaments, foreign disagreements, and album reviews from our favorite artists. We are also proud to include topics such as Spirit Week and Garden City football championships. Without a doubt, our world continues to move forward even at the heights of this pandemic.

Sincerely, Isabel Taveras & Melissa Ng Editors-in-Chief


Community/ School News

A Spirited Week for Spirit Week By Meline Deukmedjian

This past week GCHS students participated in an amazing fall Spirit Week for the first time since 2019. Students from each grade dressed up every day for a new theme. Monday started with pajama day, Tuesday was jersey day, Wednesday was America day, Thursday was Color Wars, and Friday was Spirit Day. It was an exciting week to participate in and see every day. Color Wars was split up by grade with Freshman as green,

Sophomores as white, Juniors as blue and Seniors as the traditional black. Each class chose a theme for the pep rally and wore t-shirts based off of them on Thursday. There was Freshman Railroad (Freshman), Sophomores of the Caribbean (Sophomore), Juniorassic Park (Juniors) and Monopoly (Seniors). On Friday, students were filled with excitement for the pep rally finally arriving. Everyone wore the Garden City colors of maroon and gray

including wearing their sport uniforms, or sport merchandise. The gym was decorated with each grade's theme and was filled with students participating in karaoke the entire day. Seniors in football and other sports took a trip to the elementary and middle schools to get them excited for homecoming. During ninth period, juniors and seniors gathered in the gym and watched the sports teams performances for pep rally.

Courtesy of gardencity.k12.ny.us

Courtesy of gardencity.k12.ny.us


Community/ School News

Trojans Football finishes 12-0! By DJ McDonough

The Garden City varsity football team finished its season by defeating the Bellport Clippers in the Long Island Championship. The victory allowed the team to finish the season with a perfect 12-0 record. The championship game was an intense defensive battle that kept the game scoreless through the first half. Quarterback Luke Schmitt and running back Aidan Considine changed that with a 76 yard passing touchdown to give the Trojans the lead in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, Luke Schmitt had another amazing pass to Robert Votruba to seal the win 14 to 6. Even more impressive was that the GC team accomplished what they did while enduring a serious knee injury to Jack Cascadden that limited his ability, and a season ending injury to RB Steve Finnell. This season gave Garden City its 6th straight Nassau County Championship and its 9th Long Island Championship overall.

The Long Island Championship also gave Garden City its first win against Bellport in the 5 games they played them. The team dominated its season, out-scoring its opponents by a margin of 503 points to 53. Prior to the Long Island Championship, the Trojans beat every team by at least 27 points! Led by captains Jack Cascadden, Brendan Staub, Luke Scmitt, Robert Derkasch, Rowan Stenson and Will Peters, the Trojans were a senior-laden team with a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. Cascadden and Staub had also achieved AllLong Island honors in their Junior seasons. The captains were joined by seniors Chris Allen, Jack Karr, Ryan Maher, Francesco Ingrassia, Anthony Cuccia, Evan Katridis, Gabriel Hinck, Ryan Palmer, TJ Krieg, James Ervolino, Charlie Cabana, Philip Price, Matt Griffith, Luke Paskewitz, Jay Ottomanelli, Michael Fargione, Will Paisley, and Jackson Perisa to provide leadership

to one of the most talented teams in Garden City football history. I had the opportunity to speak with Head Coach Ettinger last week, who said, “any season where you win all your games is a good season.” When asked about how he feels about next season with this group of seniors departing, he responded “We have a lot of work to do and a lot of our younger guys have to step up and fill the roles of those who have departed.” Coach Ettinger and his staff, the JV, middle school and youth coaches, have created a tremendous platform for future success. More than half of the 2021 season’s starting lineup for the Trojans were seniors, but the success of players like Finnell, Archer, Votruba, Considine, and others show that the team has strong hopes to build on this year’s great success. Looking forward to another great season in 2022!

Courtesy of gcnews.com


Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight: Sydney Chean By Maria Santos friend, she discovered El Valle: a school that helps Haitian-Dominican kids in the Dominican Republic gain access to education. El Valle is a poorly financed Catholic school, run by nuns in the Dominican-Haitian border region, which seeks to provide education for poor kids. Makeshift classrooms consist of scrap metal, plastic, and zinc and students have few school supplies. To address these problems, Sydney is “committed to donating supplies that these kids need such as backpacks, notebooks, pencils, uniforms, and more! In the future, [she] may also build classrooms to expand the school and learning facility.” In order to raise the necessary funds to provide aid to these children, Sydney began a gofundme online. She was able to raise $1000 for her first event, which provid-

Sydney Chean, a Garden City junior, began a nonprofit organization helping underprivileged kids in the Dominican Republic gain access to school supplies. Sydney began Help HDR in April of 2020, just as COVID-19 hit, devoting her time in the unexpected quarantine to helping those around her. When asked about her motivations, she explains that her grandfather moved to the Dominican Republic in the 1950’s and raised her father there. She has visited often for vacation and grew to love the culture, food, music, and tropical weather. Not everyone living in the Dominican Republic experiences it as a tropical paradise, though. Some are less fortunate. Sydney realized this and sought to help those struggling financially. With the help of her dad and close family

ed 6 pounds of rice, a bottle of oil, a pound of oats, a can of tomato sauce, a pound of noodles, a pound of spaghetti, and 2 pounds of sugar each for 150 families. Sydney’s second event provided enough money for 60 pairs of shoes and 30 backpacks. Her current event is ongoing. She intends to raise $6500 to purchase backpacks, notebooks, and pencils for each of the 260 El Valle students. A small donation of $25 will provide one student with a backpack, notebooks, and pencils, so make sure to help out! Sydney’s efforts have helped less fortunate students gain better access to education. Support her cause by donating to the gofundme through the following link: https://www.gofundme.com/f/school-startup-helphdr . You can also visit her website here: https://www.helphdr.org/ -


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Community/ School News

Valentine’s Day at the Library By Melissa Ng

Valentine's day is coming up and the library is at it again with unique decorations. Mrs. Calemmo and the library staff do a great job transforming the library for different holidays, all themed with matching books. In October, the library displayed scary books and on Christmas, there were baking and other holiday related books. Currently, the library is cov-

ered with special Valentines dedicated to students and teachers’ favorite books. The best part of this theme is the interactive element, allowing students and teachers to pay homage to their favorite titles by displaying them on the library window. GCHS’s Latin teacher, Magistra Durkin, comments by saying “It’s great because somebody who is curious about books and sees titles they’ve never heard of would

want to know more about it. It’s a very effective way to get other students interested in reading and shows that their peers are reading”. Her contribution to the Valentine wall is her favorite book from high school, Franny and Zooey by J.D Salinger. To all of the book lovers at GCHS, or even newbie readers, these decorations succeed in spreading the joy of reading.


World/National News

SpaceX Returns Four Civilians from Outer Space By Emma Rathgeber

On the evening of September 18th, a SpaceX capsule containing four tourists returned from an outer-space excursion. The fully-autonomous capsule called the Crew Dragon - spent three days in orbit around the Earth before landing safely in the ocean off the east coast of Florida. The crew of this mission, known as Inspiration4, consisted of commander Jared Isaacman, who personally financed and arranged the trip with SpaceX CEO Elon Musk; Hayley Arceneaux, a St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital physician assistant; Sian Procotor, a geologist and community college teacher; and Chris Sembroski, a Lockheed Martin employee who claimed his spot through an online raffle. The crew enjoyed their time watching movies, chatting with family, gazing out

Image courtesy of reuters.com


of the capsule’s dome-shaped cupola into space, listening to music, and even taking note of their bodies’ responses to the radical circumstances. However, there were some problems that occurred. The waste management system’s fan proved to be problematic and required SpaceX to use a backup plan, and a temperature sensor in one of the thrusters used to move the spacecraft also had some challenges. Thankfully, these problems were easily resolved, and according to NASA officials, the Crew Dragon is most likely the safest crewed vehicle ever flown. The thirteen-foot-wide capsule flew to an altitude of three-hundred fifty miles, which is one hundred miles higher than the International Space Station, and completed more than fifteen orbits around the Earth on the first day

alone. After three days in orbit, the craft began its return home. The capsule traveled at speeds of over seventeen thousand miles per hour on its re-entry, but the thick atmosphere of the planet was able to slow the capsule down. During the re-entry, the outside of the capsule rose to nearly three-thousand five-hundred degrees Fahrenheit, however the capsule’s heat shield prevented the cabin from reaching temperatures above eighty-five degrees. Throughout this process, the crew of Inspiration4 communicated with SpaceX mission control to ensure a safe return. After a memorable stay in space, the capsule landed safely in the Atlantic Ocean, where the crew were seen smiling and waving to the cameras as they exited.

World/National News

Emmys Lack BIPOC Representation By Joaquin Seneque

Courtesy of es.as.com

The 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards returned on September 19th, 2021. Many shows, ranging from Apple’s Ted Lasso to Netflix’s The Crown, won it big, proving once again that streaming services are the future for entertainment. Unlike last year’s show, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, The Emmys returned with an in-person crowd and was hosted by Cedric The Entertainer, most notably known for CBS’s The Neighborhood. The Crown was clearly the dominant series this year, with an overall 7 Emmy Awards, including the award for Outstanding Drama Series and Lead Actor and Actress in a Drama Series through Olivia Coleman and Josh O’Connor. Other notable wins included The Queen’s Gambit,

receiving the award for Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series, which undoubtedly took the world by storm this year on Netflix. There were many important history-making moments this year: Rupaul won his 11th Emmy for Rupaul’s Drag Race, becoming the most awarded black actor in history. The fantastic Michaela Cole who directed, wrote, and acted in HBO’s limited series I May Destroy You became the Emmy’s first black woman to win the award for Outstanding Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series. I May Destroy You chronicles how Arabelle Essiedu (Michaela Cole) is affected after being sexually assaulted in a nightclub. After receiving her award, Cole gave a short but impactful speech of the night by

reaching out to survivors of sexual assault: “Write the tale that scares you, that makes you feel uncertain, that isn’t comfortable. I dare you, visibility these days seems to somehow equate to success. Do not be afraid to disappear from it, from us, for a while, and see what comes to you in the silence.” However, despite Rupaul and Cole’s wins, there was an overall lack of diversity this year. Last year, we had four people of color win in acting categories. In 2021, we had zero. #EmmysSoWhite trended on social media. Although this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards showcased some POC representation, there is still room for significant change.


World/National News

Goodnight Kabul By Stephen Scricca

Last month, the 20-year American Iliad in Afghanistan avowedly ended. No more tawny-suited occupying troops will patrol the dusty valleys of the small central-Asian nation which for a brief moment drew a disproportionate amount of international attention; all that remains of the campaign are the skeletons of archaic military technology and the residue of a reluctant imperial effort, now being sold and resold among Afghan civilians and militants, according to a recent piece in the New York Times. There have been many criticisms of the withdrawal since the helicopters left on August 30th; the aforementioned abandoned weapons, most of which were far more archaic than anything that would be used in another contemporary conflict; the deaths of 13 soldiers at a Kabul airport in September; above all, the rapid collapse of the Afghan counterpart to American forces following the pullout. President Biden has maintained despite all protestations that the war, which he supported in 2001, needed to end- withdrawal symptoms notwithstanding. According to a recent Politico poll, a large number of Americans agree with him. What remains unresolved, however, are the questions of how the coalition which was once thought to have no rival was defeated, and what comes next for the most recent loss for the American Empire. Thomas Barfield, a leading anthropological expert on Afghan culture and history, offers insight into the American coalition’s defeat. To paraphrase the professor, there are very few decisive battles in Afghan-


istan’s history, because the night before the decisive battle everyone decides who’s going to win and sneaks over to their camp. In the morning, the loser wakes to find himself the loser: “He doesn’t know how it happened, but he can read the tea leaves.” According to Barfield, most Afghans did not have a particular stake in the victor of the war, but only the hope for peace. Here the indulgent comparisons with Hanoi begin to crumble, despite the ease of placing two pictures of helicopters leaving broken attempts at state-building side-by-side. Understanding that few Afghans were particularly partial to either American occupation or Taliban Islamism yields that the Afghan army, unsupported by American volunteer soldiers or tactics, had little motive to fight a long and bloody campaign against the Taliban, in contrast to the south Vietnamese, with ideological cause to resist the Viet Minh. The loss in Afghanistan will nonetheless go down in

American history classes alongside defeats such as those in Vietnam: imperial losses akin to the defeat of the British by their colonists in 1783, an understanding which is not to conflict with belief in American might as peerless, and our empire being of a different class than the others of history, especially not the one it defied in its foundation myth. More concrete than rationalizations for a wounded military-industrial-academic ego are predictions for the immediate future of the dusty, mountainous state. Dr. Barfield predicts that the Taliban will have a difficult time imposing its ideology on Afghans; many cannot read or understand Arabic to interpret the Quran. This religious arrogance, paired with the most popular holiday in Afghanistan, Nauruz, still revolving around Zoroastrian fire worship despite attempts to ban non-Islamic celebrations, renders the prospect of an Islamic republic reminiscent of Pakistan or Iran unlikely. As Barfield points out, however, Afghani-

Courtesy of TIME Magazine

World/National News stan is not a poor pastoral nation by nature; it was kept a land of ‘goats and camels’, he argues, through a series of domestic and global policy decisions. Its potential for economic development was acknowledged by both sides in the late conflict; as Zack Kopplin reported for OCCRP, a Pentagon scheme to mine Afghanistan’s mineral resources opened the door for private contractors to engage in the illegal and dangerous practice, which would have been inconceivable “without the collusion of insurgent groups.” It was this lu-

crative prospect which kept Trump from fulfilling his promise to end the war during his term; it, and other opportunities such as Chinese, Pakistani and Turkish investment, offer a chance for regional stability harder to come by in wartime. Nonetheless, the small nation will face many threats and challenges in the years to come: the Taliban indicates hostility to liberalizing reforms such as women’s rights or religious toleration, and the United States intend to maintain a policy of drone strikes,

minus boots-on-the-ground intel (this practice led to a recent strike, which DOD officials initially called “righteous” before acknowledging that it was mistaken, which killed ten Afghan civilians including seven children). The region will be watched intently and with interest by international observers for a long time to come, but at home, it will remain a plug-and-play partisan issue to be replaced by the next immaterial ideological signifier.

Flashy Fashion at the Met Gala By Iyaa Kalra

Fashion’s biggest night out is back after being canceled in 2020. The Met Gala is a fundraising benefit for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. This year’s theme was “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion”. Known for its over-the-top looks, the red carpet was filled with American style ranging from flashy, star-spangled ensembles to subtle nods to American motifs. The exhibitions represented themes of joy, nostalgia, and rebellion, which were all mirrored in one way or another through each look. Although this is a charity event, Vogue editor Anna Wintour

and her team carefully select around seven hundred people to make the exclusive roster each year. Some of the A-listers present included Billie Eilish, Masie Williams, Kim Kardashian, Naomi Osaka, and Timothée Chalamet. Billie Eilish, inspired by the American actress Marilyn Monroe, wore a platinum blonde bob haircut and swapped out the iconic red lipstick for a more modern pinkish nude color. It is safe to say that many celebrities brought their looks up to another level to create an iconic or controversial look. Paying tribute to her Japanese-Haitian heritage, Naomi Osa-

ka’s look focused on monochrome crimson makeup, a gravity-defying updo hairstyle consisting of woven plaits, and a long fanned-out gown with wing-like lengths. In addition to the A-listers, many new and upcoming social media stars such as Addison Rae, Dixie Damelio, Lil Nas X, and Emma Chamberlain took the carpet by surprise. Rapper Lil Nas X gave a performance on the carpet with three gold regal looks designed by Versace. In addition, Addison Rae made her Met Gala debut by wearing a red vintage 2003 Tom Ford for Gucci gown.

Courtesy of Getty Images / Collage by David Vo


World/National News

Women’s US Open By Isabel Taveras The 2021 Women’s Singles US Open tournament was quite a memorable day. England’s eighteen-year-old Emma Raducanu and Canada’s nineteen-year-old Leylah Fernandez concluded the season with an impressive ending that left the audience applauding with pride for both competitors. These girls began their professional careers from the start of their childhood. For years, Emma and Leylah have practiced for this important day at the famous US Open where Serena Williams placed in the finals at just seventeen years old. The result of all their efforts now lay in the public eye of the world, mak-

ing them two inspirational figures Raducanu served the ball just out for budding tennis professionals. of Fernandez’s reach, causing the crowds to jump up from their seats The Women’s Final was and welcoming this year’s finalist difficult to predict. According to champion. Raducanu has marked the IBM SlamTracker, Raducanu history for England. It had been had a fifty-three percent chance forty-four years since Britain had of winning while Fernandez had a won a Grand Slam event such as forty-seven percent chance. Both the US Open, according to NPR. played with outstanding expertise and left no doubts of their qualifiAs of November 2021, cation for the finals. The scoreboard Emma Raducanu is now competing ended with Raducanu winning six in the Linz Open in Austria and Leyto four and six to three. This close lah Fernandez is training for her next call had everyone leaning on the tennis tournament. All in all, these edges of their seats, waiting in ladies have proved just how talentangst to see who would be the win- ed they are and I hope to see them ner. Missing one more set to win, perform in next year’s US Open.

Courtesy of news.sky.com


World/National News

Foreign Relations Sink Over Sub Deal By Daniel Butt

Courtesy of rt.com

A controversial security pact concerning Indo-Pacific waters was recently signed between the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. It details a new alliance, AUKUS, whose goal is to acquire a new fleet of nuclear powered submarines for use by Australia. This pact, according to Sydney-based security director Sam Roggeveen, was a direct “response to China’s rise, and a significant escalation of American commitment to that challenge… [signing this deal] indicates that the United States is prepared to take significant new steps and break with old norms to meet the China challenge”. This recent “China’s rise” in aggression can be linked to the

construction of military bases on artificial islets in the South China Sea, increased appearance of the Chinese Coast Guard and maritime militia, and a recently passed law in January which allowed coast guard permission to fire on suspicious vessels.

in more than just words; Le Drian then went on to withdraw all diplomatic ambassadors from the United States and Australia. Historically, France has been the oldest ally to the US, provoking questions about the stability of this relationship.

While a Chinese response was expected, a surprising critic of the deal soon emerged from Europe, France specifically. Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian has announced in a public statement that the AUKUS deal was a “stab in the back,” further stating that “we created a relationship of trust with Australia and that trust has been broken.” Their reaction fumed

As of writing, defense talks between France and the United Kingdom have been “postponed to a later date” in response to the AUKUS deal; however, there is hope. Le Drian announced over Twitter on the 23rd of September that talks between himself and “his American counterpart,” Antony Bliken, had been successful, and that moving through the crisis will take time.


World/National News

Vaccination for Younger People By Elaine Wang

On October 29, 2021, the U.S Food and Drug Association (FDA) authorized emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children 5-11 years old. The Pfizer vaccine is one of three COVID-19 vaccines, produced by Pfizer (BioNTech), Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) respectively. Made to counter the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pfizer vaccine (branded as COMIRNATY) uses mRNA technology to teach body cells how to fight the Coronavirus. The two-dose vaccine has been widely used in the public, with nearly 70% of adults at least partially vaccinated in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), as of late November 2021 there have been approximately 47.9 million COVID cases in the US in total, and 2 million of these cases affected children between 5-11 years of age. The CDC stated that approximately 8,300 COVID-19 cases in children 5 through 11 years old have led to hospitalization, and as of October 2021, about 700 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported in the U.S. in individuals less than 18

years of age, with 5-11s accounting for almost 150 deaths. Infection by the SARS-COV-2 virus can lead to fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, and loss of taste or smell, with different variants leading to different symptoms. Both short and long term health complications may result from COVID-19, including the multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). This leads to severe inflammation of vital organs, including the heart, lungs, blood vessels, brain, eyes, and intestines in children previously or currently infected with COVID-19 (even if the child was/is asymptomatic). More than 2,300 cases of MIS-C have been reported since the beginning of the pandemic. In an effort to protect public health, the Biden administration and the CDC have encouraged all eligible Americans to get vaccinated, despite some concerns about the vaccine’s side effects. The Pfizer vaccine is highly effective in preventing COVID-19 in both chilaren and adults, with a 90.7% efficacy rate in children aged 5-11. In a study with over 3,000 children, no serious side effects were detected.

Coutesy of cincinnatichildrens.org


Both versions of the Pfizer vaccine are administered in two doses, three weeks apart. The primary difference is that the adult dosage, administered to people 12 and older is 30 micrograms, while the dosage for younger children is only 10 micrograms. While previously only people over 12 years of age could get vaccinated, the increased 28 million American children who are eligible means that the US is one step closer to returning to normalcy. The director of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research has stated “the FDA is committed to making decisions that are guided by science that the public and healthcare community can trust. We are confident in the safety, effectiveness and manufacturing data behind this authorization.” Though the impact of the pandemic has been significant in daily life for over a year, as vaccination rates rise, the world is closer to the end of the pandemic. According to Newsday, 74% of Garden City has been fully vaccinated. The federal government is currently providing COVID-19 vaccinations free of charge to all US residents.


New York Film Festival By Ryan McLaughlin

THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH Joel Coen - United States Macbeth (Denzel Washington), Thane of Glamis, sees a vision of three witches (Kathryn Hunter) who tell him that one day he will be the King of Scotland. Aiming to make this vision a reality and at the urging of his wife Lady Macbeth (Frances McDormand), he kills the king (Brendan Gleeson) to take power. Being the first time that Joel Coen (Fargo, No Country for Old Men) worked without his brother Ethan, there was definitely a layer of uncertainty as I sat down to watch the film. However, with his adaptation of Macbeth, Joel both proves that he’s just as good on his own and creates one of his best works. Denzel Washington takes the difficulty of performing Shakespeare, and makes it seem easy. His performance feels completely natural, proving once again that he’s one of the greatest living actors. Alongside him is Frances McDormand, my favorite actress working today, giving one of her greatest performances yet. Like Washington, she performs Shakespeare with ease. While Macbeth takes action, she stays in the background, yet she’s plotting how to rise just the same as him. Kathryn Hunter is fantastic as the Three Witches. Her performance feels like something that most actors wouldn’t go for, yet she does and does it perfectly. Another standout is Corey Hawkins as Macduff, who acts as a perfect antagonist to Macbeth. Joel is on the top of his game with directing. His choice to shoot in black and white perfectly matches with the bleakness

of the story, with Bruno Delbonnel shooting the film excellently. The Tragedy of Macbeth may just be the best work by Joel Coen, and when it comes to Shakespeare adaptations, is sure to be regarded as one of the best. Ryan’s Rating: 9/10 TITANE Julia Ducournau - France The winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, Julia Ducournau’s follow-up to her 2016 debut Raw takes what under a weaker director could be nothing but shock value, and is able to add a strong emotional core to it. Alexia (Agathe Rousselle), a mentally disturbed woman who suffered a head injury as part of a car crash in her childhood, finds her way to Vincent Legrand (Vincent Lindon), a firefighter whose son went missing ten years prior. Taking stylistic flourishes from the New French Extremity movement, Ducournau’s film is often times shocking with its use of sex and violence. Unlike other films of the Extremity movement, Titane does not simply rely on the shock value of these moments. Instead, it forms a tightly woven relationship between Alexia and Vincent, oftentimes heartwarming and funny. The performances by Agathe Rouselle and Vincent Lindon are nothing short of brilliant. Vincent is able to portray the vulnerability of his character very well. Rouselle takes the fiery energy of Alexia and weaves in a layer of fear. Both of them perfectly compliment each other. Ducournau’s directing is excellent. While her first

film, Raw, slightly suffered from her not being a director beforehand, she hit her stride in Titane and reached a level of technical achievements that not many other films this year have matched. Ryan’s Rating: 10/10 BENEDETTA Paul Verhoeven - France In the late 17th Century, Sister Benedetta Carlini (Virginie Efira) forms a relationship with Bartolomea (Daphne Patakia) as plague ravages the land. Directed by Paul Verhoeven (RoboCop, Showgirls, Elle), Benedetta is just as sharp, shocking and funny as one would expect from him. One of the first things I noticed about Benedetta was just how funny it was. More often than not, the audience of 1,000 was erupting with laughter. Verhoeven takes what under a less-experienced director would be a grimly serious film, and injects his personal brand of humor into it. The two lead performances are both truly excellent. Virginie Efira gives the best female performance of the year as Benedetta. Her role is tough, with the range of emotions she has to go through, and she portrays it perfectly. At the beginning of the film, she is strictly serious, and Daphne Patakia is able to perfectly act as the foil to her. She gives a great performance, and while the character may be less complex than Benedetta, she is still at the same level as Efira. Anne Dudley’s score was a beautiful aspect of the film. Her compositions worked great to compliment the film.


Reviews By the end of the film, parts of the score were giving me chills. Like Elle, Benedetta is somewhat uneven. While it does mostly keep a brisk pace, there are parts in the middle where the film slows down just a bit too much. Luckily, whenever this starts to happen, it’s not too long until another line cuts through the film and into the souls of the audience. Benedetta might not be Paul Verhoeven’s best work, or his most important, but it is still a great film. Anchored by two great performances, Benedetta is one of this year’s great pieces of world cinema. Ryan’s Rating: 8/10

policies of Trump and Clinton as if it were just another show on TV. The film’s biggest asset is Simon Rex. In his performance as Mikey Saber, Rex takes a character that is unlikeable on the surface and makes him someone you want to root for. Despite every horrible action that Mikey takes, he remains someone you never truly hate. From the opening scene, which has N-SYNC’s Bye Bye Bye blaring on the soundtrack as Mikey experiences the bus ride home from LA to Texas, I could tell that it was going to be a beautiful film. Baker’s two previous works, Tangerine and The Florida Project, both were some of my favorite RED ROCKET films of the 2010s, and Red RockSean Baker - United States et is undeniably his best film yet. Mikey Saber (Simon Rex) Ryan’s Rating: 9/10 is a washed-up adult film actor/suitcase pimp who returns to his home C’MON C’MON state of Texas. Despite how he acts, Mike Mills - United States his likeability causes people to let Documentary filmmaker Johnny him into their lives. Whether it’s (Joaquin Phoenix) begins to bond Lexi (Bree Elrod), Mikey’s ex-wife, with his nephew Jesse (Woody Norletting him stay with her or Straw- man) after being left to take care berry (Suzanna Son), a 17-year-old girl Mikey is trying to groom, letting him into her life, he’s able to get his way. While he may seem cool from a distance, the closer you get to him, the more you begin to notice his narcissism, his false confidence, his sociopathic tendencies. With the character of Mikey, Sean Baker (Starlet, Tangerine, The Florida Project) crafts yet another masterpiece of American culture. Set against the backdrop of the months leading up to the 2016 Presidential Election, the election is used perfectly. Instead of actually comprehending the political issues going on, Mikey, Lexi and her mother Lil (Brenda Deiss) mindCourtesy of A24 Films lessly consume the debates, statements by the candidates and general


of him in Mike Mills (Beginners, 20th Century Women) newest film. The first thing to mention when talking about C’Mon C’Mon is the performances. Joaquin Phoenix gives a soulful and intimate performance as Johnny, in what’s probably his best performance since 2013’s Her. Along with that, Woody Norman gives one of the best child performances of all time as Jesse, bringing an energy that the film rests on. Robbie Ryan’s black & white cinematography was one of my favorite parts of the film. The tone of the story was perfectly complemented by the beauty of the shots. Mills’ decision to shoot it without color aided the film heavily. Similar to 20th Century Women, C’Mon C’Mon does end up feeling a little uneven. The montages, while mostly good, get too plentiful. The work with Jesse’s dad wasn’t on par with the rest of the film, and often felt more like a distraction from the main plot. Mike Mills’ newest film might not be his best work, but it features two standout performances and is certainly one of the most memorable films of the year. Ryan’s Rating 7/10 DUNE: PART ONE Denis Villeneuve - United States Young Paul Atredis (Timothee Chalamet) is plagued by visions of Arrakis, and one of the planet’s Native Fremen, Chani (Zendaya). At the same time, his father, Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac) is given the planet of Arrakis from The Emperor after it is taken from the Harkonnens (Stellan Skarsgard, Dave Bautista, David Dastmalchian). Adapting Dune would always be a hard task. Alejandro Jodorowsky’s attempt failed to even

Reviews be made in the 70s, David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation was also a failure. In the hands of a weaker director, this could’ve been a disaster. However, under Denis Villeneuve, Dune: Part One is the single greatest blockbuster to come out in the 21st century. One of the first things you notice about Dune is the scale of it. Each shot feels brimming with technical innovation. It feels very much like the first Lord of the Rings film with just how much is being introduced throughout the runtime. Complimenting the technical excellence are the great perfor-

mances. Chalamet embodies Paul Atredis, and he’s matched with an equally powerful performance of Rebecca Ferguson as his mother, Lady Jessica. Where Paul’s story is one of growing to become what he was born to be, Jessica’s is one of rejecting her upbringing, in the Bene Gesserit, to keep Paul safe. Another standout performance is Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho. Momoa’s usually annoying enthusiasm shines through in this role, and he’s allowed to give a more nuanced performance than he usually does.

Villeneuve’s directing is excellent. For a story with such a large scale, he’s able to perfectly match it. While he may have had trouble making a film more suited for the general audience with Blade Runner 2049, I feel that that problem has dissipated with Dune. Dune: Part One is the start of something truly special. Villeneuve’s epic matches its grandiose scale with intimate character work, creating one of, if not the best blockbuster of the 21st century. Ryan’s Rating 10/10

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Taylor Swift’s Re-Recordings By Isabelle Sirounian In August 2019, Taylor Swift got the green light on re-recording her first five albums the following November. She chose to re-record her albums because her earlier ones were signed under a restrictive contract that did not allow her to own her music. When she switched labels from Big Machine Records to Universal’s Republic Records, Big Machine Records still owned her old albums. That record label then sold her masters to Scooter Braun who told Taylor she needed to give him 6 new albums if she wanted to own her last 6. However, she did not want to take this deal because she knew that with all his manipulation, it would not work out in the long run. She had no consent over her own music and did not want to lose 15 years of work. All Swift hoped for was that the songs she wrote were to be under her ownership rights. Her only option was to re-record her albums and release them a second time. A nice way to support Taylor Swift and not her old label company is by listening to her newly recorded songs in-

stead of the ones from years past. The first album she recorded and released was Fearless. This album contained 26 songs that included 6 unreleased ones. Her unreleased ones come from what she calls “the vault” because they were songs that almost made the original album. A few of the songs from this album are “You Belong With Me,” “Love Story,” and “Forever and Always.” Her first song released from the vault was “You All Over Me” featuring singer Maren Morris. Her original Fearless album made her the youngest artist to receive the Album of the Year Grammy. Other albums that will be re-recorded include, Speak Now which include songs like “Back to December” and “Sparks Fly”, Red which include songs like “ All Too Well” and “I Knew You Were Trouble.” and Reputation which includes songs like “Getaway Car” and “Look What You Made Me Do.” As she was re-recording these, she also had two new albums in the works, Folklore and Evermore. Folklore won Taylor the album of the year award again at

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the Grammys in March of 2021. She became the first female solo artist to win that specific prize three times. One of the reasons Taylor is so popular is that her music is all originally written or co-written. Usually musicians don’t always write every song, but Taylor does. Fun fact about her, she has won 10 Grammys and 29 American Music Awards. That’s more than any other artist which goes to show how talented she really is. Swift has also made appearances in Time Magazine three times as being among the top 100 most influential people. Another huge accomplishment of hers is being named artist of the decade at the American Music Awards in 2019! Besides writing music, she pursued her vision of a documentary, Miss Americana, that came out on Netflix in 2020. If you are a Taylor Swift fan and haven’t watched it yet, you should definitely check that out. Also, I definitely recommend listening to her music if you haven’t yet and don’t forget to look out for her re-recorded albums!


Machine Gun Kelly’s TTMD By Emma Dolmaian

Many people have a lot to say about Machine Gun Kelly, or MGK,’s new pop-punk album, Tickets to my Downfall. By switching genres, MGK created some controversy about the new album. However, the commentary, both good and bad, does not affect MGK. He is happy with the style of his new album and is planning to continue pop rock. In previous years, Machine Gun Kelly was only considered a rapper. He has been rapping since 2012, when he was only 22 years old and released his first album, Lace Up. Since then, he has produced four other rap albums, under the names General Admission in 2015, Bloom in 2017, NYLON in 2018, and Hotel Diablo in 2019. However, MGK did not limit himself to rap. He felt as though he belonged to pop rock, and wanted to truly express himself through his new album. Since the release date in late September 2020, Tickets to my Downfall has brought nothing but success to Machine Gun Kelly’s music career. Executively produced with elite drummer Travis Barker, the 2020 album has won many life changing awards like the 2020 VMA’s and the top spot on the USA Billboard. This album validated MGK, for many of the songs on it like “bloody valentine,” “forget me too,” and “my ex’s best friend” were put on the Billboard. As a matter of fact, the Tickets to my Downfall album as a whole has reached the #1 spot on the Billboard 200 Chart, and has remained there for a year plus. Also, the music video for his song, “my ex’s best friend,”

has won Best Alternative Video award for two years in a row and he won a VMA in 2021 for his latest release, “papercuts”. Beyond his songs per se, MGK has seen positive feedback about his new genre as he won Top Rock Artist at 2021 Billboard music. Clearly, Machine Gun Kelly’s music career has flourished since his pop-punk album.

MGK announced he will be coming up with a new album called Born with Horns. Like Tickets to my Downfall, Born with Horns will feature Travis Barker as the drummer. Born with Horns seems to be in the same genre as Tickets to my Downfall, as well. However, MGK has hinted at bringing his rap back in the near future. When complaining to MGK about the disagreements Although Machine Gun Kel- with his genre shift, Machine Gun ly’s successes have gone through Kelly tells his followers, “I’m not the roof since the release of his new dying tomorrow,” implying he has album, many people beg to dis- enough time to focus on both genres. agree with the hype. Some people claim pop rock is outdated, and he What do you think about Machine Gun Kelly’s switch to punk rock? Personally, I love all of Machine Gun Kelly’s music. Although I do miss his rap, I think pop-punk does suit MGK well, and he seems to be reaching his fullest potential while performing this genre. I actually got lucky to see him in concert this past September while he was performing the Tickets to my Downfall album, along Courtesy ofghostcultmag.com with a few other songs. I thoroughly enjoyed the concert, for I got to scream my heart out along with the should stick to rap. These people lively crowd. Although it started to have used his quarreling with well rain and the venue had to be closed, known rapper Eminem to support MGK’s resilience truly showed by their claim by saying that Eminem his perseverance through the inconscared MGK off, so much that he veniences to perform one last song switched genres. However, Ma- with no aux, just screaming with the chine Gun Kelly asserts to his fans crowd. MGK has expressed multithat that is simply not true. He says ple personal connections to his 2020 “I didn’t try punk rock. I am punk album, and it is clearly shown in the rock,” meaning he has felt as though passion in his voice while singing. he belonged to punk rock much be- Machine Gun Kelly has proven to fore he even released his Tickets to and will continue to blossom in his my Downfall album. Furthermore, music career, despite any opinions.



Harry Styles: Love on Tour By Riya Katriyar

What’s with all the funky pants, blazers, heart glasses, and boas lately? There’s one person responsible for this and his name is Harry Styles. It seems as though people took his song lyric from Cherry “there’s a piece of you in how I dress” a little too seriously... Harry Styles’ second album Fine Line was released early December 13th, 2019 featuring his hit songs “Watermelon Sugar” and “Adore You”. Shortly after the positive response to his album, people were ready to buy tickets to his concert. Unfortunately, we all know what came a couple months later: COVID. The concert was postponed to a little over a year after the original dates. As the world opened up and safety precautions were in place, the US tour began early Sep-

tember 2021. Everyone’s excitement for the concert was heightened after being cooped up in their homes for so long. Styles had three sold out concerts at Madison Square Garden: October 3rd, October 4th, and October 16th. New York City was filled with excited Harry Styles fans who filled lines to buy merchandise like sweatshirts, t-shirts, posters, and hats. His Love on Tour merch consisted of shirts and sweatshirts with his face on it, but also some with rabbits on it. Fans did not know the meaning of the “mystery rabbit merch”, they soon became the face of Harry’s tour. Jenny Lewis, a small indie artist, opened for Harry with songs from her latest album On the Line. Afterwards, Harry opened with his hit song “Golden”. He sang all his songs from the album

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Fine Line and some songs from his first album, Harry Styles. He even sang “What Makes You Beautiful’’ by his former band, One Direction. He surprised his fans with “To Be So Lonely” which he did not sing at previous shows on this tour! Harry’s moving performance was amazing for the crowd. He ended his concert with his song “Kiwi”, which definitely had a different vibe from his other songs. My personal favorite songs from the concert were “Sunflower, Vol. 6”, “Woman”, “Carolina”, and “Only Angel”. He kept the crowd dancing, singing, laughing, and entertained for the entire 90 minutes. His passion and energy are what keeps the fans wanting more. Harry Styles Love on Tour was an experience I will never forget!

Contributing Writers Section

Extra Extra Read All About It By Julia D’Alosio

Courtesy of Jan’s Stamping Creations

As everyone settles into the rhythm of the new school year, things start to fall into place. Schedules are memorized, friend groups solidified, and study routines established. But this begs the question, what happens when this rhythm is interrupted? After some time, the same mundane routine can fall flat. So, this serves as a challenge to break free from a typical series of day-to-day tasks and try something new. Whether it’s taking a different route to class or bringing a new snack to school,

make it memorable. Although it may not seem like it, these “interruptions” of routine are what transform an ordinary day into an extraordinary one. A single decision to turn left instead of right can alter the course of the entire day.

walking directly to this class, a peer walks toward the English wing and runs into a friend. They chat, share a few laughs, and the peer settles into their seat before the bell. And now, physics seems just a bit less dull.

This brief scenario demonPicture this: strates the power that one seemingIt’s five minutes before class ends, ly inconsequential decision holds to and anticipation for the bell to ring turn the day around. Despite the mofills the room. Five minutes later, notony of the school day, everyone everyone rises and slings their bags can find new ways to make it brighter. over their shoulders. Now it's time for the next period, physics. Instead of Got to go to physics, catch ya’ later!