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Undergrad and Broke Students forced into the real world to afford college

Featured Artist Andy Kotsch

Fashion Blogging

Technology and fashion hit the streets

Vol. 3 No. 1 September 2010

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s ’ r o Editter Let

ff a t S


hird time’s a charm? For the benefit of all the readers and everyone involved in producing Ink Magazine, I certainly hope so. Over the past two years, former editors Rich Griset and Sara D’Eugenio had the same overall mission: creating a magazine that portrays the true diversity within Virginia Commonwealth University. It is my personal ambition to continue to pave the way. With all our success in previous production, I hope to keep the magazine similar to those running it before me. We do have a few tricks up our sleeve though, but for now we’ll keep you guessing. This magazine’s whole purpose is to celebrate our unique campus that amplifies color well beyond the black and gold. Obviously, that cannot be accomplished without your existence, so this is my thanks to all of you! Whether it’s through artistic talent, athletic skill, outstanding academic, or purely human experience, thank you for proving VCU cannot be easily defined. Our first issue is filled with stories written for you and by you. We are discovering who we are, how we’re getting there, and the obstacles we must overcome along the way. Regardless of your year, we are all still figuring it out. Whether it’s your first big move from home, or learning to financially support yourself, or maybe just discovering who you are and what you love, I hope that there is something in here that you can connect with. We’ll be gone ‘til November, but don’t worry we’ve only just begun.

Christine Erickson Executive Editor

Meredith Rigsby Managing Editor

Gene Stroman Film & Literature Editor

Dena Spruill Fashion Director

Dominic Butchello Art Director


Executive Editor

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Jaime Barnett Arts & Culture Editor

Marleigh Culver Graphic Designer Hannah Swann Graphic Designer

Mason Brown Staff Writer

Elizabeth Remick Staff Writer

Christine Stoddard Staff Writer

Joseph Genest Staff Writer

Rachel Maves Visual Staff

Not Pictured

Erynn Sweeney Visual Staff

Sarah Rodriguez Ad Sales and Public Relations Chelsea Dodd Staff Writer Elaine Williams Staff Writer Addison Sully-Heron Wheeler Staff Writer Teddy Gregson Staff Writer Mary Newton Visual Staff

Samantha Newton Photographer Guest Contributors: Andy Kotsch Kerry McDonnell


Christine Erickson Executive Editor

Sarah Rodriguez Ad Sales and Public Relations


Go Green! Ink is printed on recycled paper. Ink Vol 3 No 1 3

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f o e Tabltents Con

Ink Magazine Contact us! VCU Student Media Center 817 W. Broad St. Richmond, VA 23220 804.828.1058 (Receptionist)

like the internet? So do we! Find us on Facebook!

campus life 5

Scotland to VA The transition from a summer in an exciting new country back home can be tough.


Running and Running The men’s team trains for the upcoming season in the scorching summer weather.


Roommate Talk It’s you versus them. Learn how to act appropriately when handling issues with those that share your living space.


Iraq Comes To Richmond Taking a class during the summer is not uncommon for students however, sharing a summer class with students from Iraq is! Read about this once in a lifetime experience.


History of VCU VCU is an awesome school, but how did it all begin? Find out about VCU’s roots as we take a dive into its history.


Map of Richmond Get to know the ins and outs of our unique city.

contemporary issues 11

Bankrupt Blues Sometimes our parents are providing us with more than we realize. VCU students describe the hardships of being financially independent.


Bonnaroo An examination of the hundreds of thousands of people at the music festival, Bonnaroo, with his uncertainty towards the future leaves this incoming freshman with hope through various artists.


Family Dynamics An only child’s perspective on family: role models, meeting parent’s expectations, college and the future.


Internet Piracy Downloading is illegal- you know it, and you do it anyway. But the legalities might be different than you think!


Five is the New Four Four years in college is becoming more and more of an impossible reality. Read how we prove VCU students are still smarter than you think.


Kicking the Can Find out the good, the bad and what you didn’t already know.

arts & culture 24

Andy Kotsch: Feature Artist Painting and Printmaking major Andy Kotsch’s style may differentiate from drawing to painting, but neither medium leaves us disappointed.


Number Nin6: Featured Music The artist balances the dubstep scene with the medical scene.


Film/Literature Review VCU’s newest club, Cinema Talk, and book club, The Bookworms of VCU, give students their picks for fall.


DIY: Paint Chip Banner Spruce up your bland walls with an inexpensive way to add some color!


Fashion Blogging Blogging hits the streets, revealing this fall’s picks for fashion.


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campus life

Scotland to VA Feeling at Home After Studying Abroad Christine Stoddard


he airplane zapped me back in time. I could feel the past seeping into my hair follicles, creeping over my pores and gripping every bone from my wrists to my ankles. This time travel phenomenon had nothing to do with the 60s-esque flight attendants sashaying down the aisles and everything to do with skipping over time zones. Through some miracle of the sun, I was about to gain back five hours of my life. In fewer than one-hundred hours, I made it from Central Scotland to Central Virginia, jetlag be darned. That amounted to nearly eight hours on the plane, cramped between my sister and a stranger, with a couple additional hours accounted for in my parents’ car as we drove from the Philadelphia airport to our home in Arlington, Virginia. Then I spent about half a week at my parents’ home

before heading to Richmond. I wish I could describe my state there as ‘relaxing,’ but ‘frantically preparing for my return to Richmond’ would be far more accurate. As much as I knew this, I didn’t want to admit to myself on the plane just how hard the transition would be. (Introspective thinking during plane rides often nudges your mind into scary hypothetical situations concerning the fate of your aircraft.) Feeling at home after studying abroad is an issue many students don’t even consider. Most of us are too excited about the journey to worry about how we’ll fall back in love with our own culture when we return.   But it was time to begin worrying. Soon, I thought to myself as I cut into my freeze-dried chicken, I would experience the jolt of going from the Glasgow School of Art to VCU Arts.  

After that, everything but the feelings inside of me progressed at cheetah speed. I got off the plane and boom! I was standing on American ground. Stores that closed past 6 p.m. and weather that consistently turned the sky something other than gray became a reality again. My feelings had to catch up to my body’s pace. So, I started slowly, which is the best way to heal most pain: softly and

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campus life

“Soon, I thought to myself as I cut into my freeze-dried chicken, I would experience the jolt of going from the Glasgow School of Art to VCU Arts.”


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subtly. I refused to sit in my room and pine for Scotland all day. I could have easily made the mistake of editing photos from my trip for hours on end, or constantly IMed my Scottish acquaintances for a taste of the Old World. I also could have gone on a Scottish cooking spree, insisting that I was suddenly too good for grits. Most of us have that friend who’s studied for a semester or even just the summer and come back a total xenophile. You know, the one who goes to India and comes back wearing only saris, always complaining that American food’s never spicy enough. I didn’t want to morph into one of them. I wanted to represent one of the glad-to-be-homebut-still-appreciative-of-the-culture-Ijust-encountered VCU Education Abroad alumni. How to get there? 1) Rationalizing, and 2) Admiring what home offers. I figured that my Scottish romance had only lasted five weeks. At best, it was a mere infatuation. Virginia was forever (or at least until I graduated). I needed to unpack right away because if I didn’t, the sight of my suitcases would only make my heart ache. I needed to get out, spend time with friends and family, visit all my favorite haunts, and eat like a Southerner! I had to work, be productive. I had to get back into the mode of school and muster up the enthusiasm I always feel at the start

of a new academic year. Simply put, I got back to my pre-Scotland life I suggest allowing a healthy bit of nostalgia every now and then, but no more. I wasn’t going to forget Scotland, of course. Who could forget Haggis and Robert Burns and Mackintosh houses, after all? But, equally important, is the fact that I’m not going to forget Virginia, either.

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campus life

campus life

Running and Running and Running The VCU men’s crosscountry team trains for the upcoming season in the scorching summer weather.

Meredith Rigsby photos by Christine Erickson While some are enjoying their summer by the pool, these students are running in the exhausting heat upwards of 10 miles a day. The VCU men’s Cross-Country team sweat all summer for their school. A large portion of the men on the cross country team also participate in winter and spring track, allotting them a mere two to three days break for the entire year. During the cross-country season, the team competes in invitationals up and down the East Coast. Invitationals are large meets where as many as 20 teams compete in one long distance, 8k or 5 mile race. After talking with a few of the guys on the team, they agreed that the Lee High Invitational in Pennsylvania is their favorite race. On race day, the team usually warms up by jogging the course to get a feel for the terrain, which helps come race time. “Everyone has a different strategy,” VCU senior and teammate from Poland, Piotr Dybas said. “Like some person likes to be in the front straight from the start, some other people run at the end then he goes forward and basically wins.”

Unfortunately, VCU does not have a home cross-country course, something the team would like to see change. “You’re used to the terrain and it also bring[s] attention to the school and to Richmond itself,” team member and VCU junior, Tyler Simmons said. In a sport like cross-country, team unity is an essential factor for success. On the VCU team, unity is something they definitely do not lack, with the majority of the students being juniors and a quarter of the team living together. “When you’re out there doing 15 miles with someone, you gotta like them a little bit,” teammate and VCU sophomore, Justin Kendall said. Training during the summer varies from an “easy run,” an hour and a half group run, to a “hard run,” a minimum 35 minute run at tempo or race pace. Because the team trains so intensely without coach guidance until the season begins, it takes a certain mind set to stick to their workout schedule. “Running at VCU, it’s kind of established between the team we run because we love to run,” Simmons said. “It’s not a big name sport so you really have to love the sport.”

As the fall season begins, the team is looking for nothing less than success this year. Due to injuries, stress fractures in the shins being a major cause, the team placed fifth in the NCAA conference last year. Although the team expects to finish in the top three this year, Simmons said they are definitely preparing for a much more competitive conference in the coming season. “I think we will all be on the same page this year,” VCU senior, John Vial said. “That’s another thing about cross country; training is different so there’s more chances for injuries, so it’s a little more stressful than track.” Along with placing among the top three in their conference this year, the team also hopes to avoid injury as much as possible. The team will also receive a new coaching staff this fall.

Visit the VCU sports website to keep track of meet dates and locations.



campus life

It’s you versus them. Learn how to act appropriately when handling issues with those that share your living space.



Chelsea Dodd Illustration by Mary Newton

When asking students what best describes Virginia Commonwealth University, the most common response almost always includes the word “diversity.” Walking through campus, there are an array of different cultures and lifestyles that make VCU what it is. While this may be our school’s best trait, it can make a freshman’s life in the dorms like a battle for survival. First year freshman who choose to live in the dorms may have no control over their lottery roommate choice, but they do have power over creating successful relationships- or at the very least, liveable.



Here are some tips to establish an easy, positive relationship: 1. No expectations. Do not expect your roommate to instantly be your best friend. Allow time for the relationship to build to that point. Hovering over your roommate and their plans will only remind them of their mother. 2. Be honest. Instead of storing up petty grievances, settle any potential arguments right away. All that built up anger will just add stress that, as a full time student, you do not need. Avoid awkward situations and unneeded drama by realizing how to pick and choose your fights. 3. Respect one another. There should be a mutual respect between roommates. Boundaries should be set from the beginning so no one is confused over what the limits are. 4. Ask before borrowing. Girls especially, have an issue with borrowing clothes. If that is the case, whenever borrowing something you should always ask first. Try

to wash it before returning. It can be easy to forget, but your roommate can never be upset with practicing common courtesy. 5. Understand each other’s schedules. If one roommate has an 8 a.m. class, it’s clearly understood that you shouldn’t be coming home late to wake them up. It’s nice to take into consideration your roommate’s schedule before planning to do something. A casual, respectable rooming situation is always the goal. If you want to establish a friendship, try to leave for class around the same time and enjoy the walk getting to know each other. Understand they are here to get an education, just like you, and that turning down your offer to hang out does not necessarily mean they do not enjoy your company, they might just be busy. The key to establishing a good, strong bond with your roommate is to be natural and be yourself. Do not force anything or let others force you to do anything. College is all about establishing and finding yourself and it’s easy to get lost in the mix. Remember to stand up for yourself, because everything is only what you make it.

campus life

Iraq comes to Richmond Meredith Rigsby Photos by Miguel Angel Souza In mid-May, school was out for the summer but for some students it was only out until July. Upholding its reputation of diversity, VCU’s mass communications department worked in conjunction with the Iraq Youth Leaders Education Program to offer students a unique experience by integrating 25 VCU students and 24 Iraq students together into one social networking class. One of the participants in the program, Bulend Redha, had an enjoyable experience. “I was thrilled when they informed me that I was finalist candidate for the program,” Redha said. It was his first visit to the states. The Iraq students arrived in Washington D.C. a week before the class commenced and once in Richmond, they stayed in the Gladding Residence Center dorms. The students wasted no time during their stay in the city. Carytown, Shortpump and Chesterfield Town Center were among some of the places the Iraq students explored.

Taking a class during the summer is not uncommon for students however, sharing a summer class with students from Iraq is! Professors Jeff South and Marcus Messner created and taught the curriculum for the class, which was offered to both undergraduate and graduate students. There is an application for acceptance into either MASC 491, for undergrads or MASC 913, for graduates. Individuals involved in social media were asked to speak to the class with one to two speakers for each class. The students were privileged to listen to social media experts like Jeff Nugent, VCU Center for Teaching Excellence, Jonah Holland, Mox-eMedia, Ryan Smartt and Lianan Kleeman, ConnectRichmond and Ryan Nobles, NBC 12, among many others. For the students’ social media project, the professors split all students into groups of five and the groups chose a nonprofit organization off of a prepared list. The organization chosen by the group was the focus of their social media project. The aim of the project was to improve and enhance the organization’s social media efforts and help provide guidance

in maintaining the social media tools put in place by the students. “It enriched my knowledge regarding social media and about the American culture,” Redha said. The creation of Twitter accounts, blogs, Facebook accounts and video were among some of the tools the students implemented to expand the non-profits’ social networks. The class was considered a huge success by students and Richmonders alike. The Iraq students maintained a collective blog on where they posted once or twice a week. The blog received much attention locally but also caught the eye of the White House, eventually being featured on the White House’s website! Style Weekly also covered the class in one of their summer issues. Redha’s advice to other students in the program? “Enjoy it to the max, and have fun.”



History of

Virginia Commonwealth University

1838: Hampton-Sydney Colleges opens a medical school in central Virginia.

1917: Henry Hibbs and J. J. Scherer open the Richmond School of Social Economy.

1844: The Egyptian Building opens with three lecture halls.

1917: Richmond School of Social Work and Public Health is established.

1853: The medical department dissolves its connections with Hampton-Sydney. 1854: The Medical Department of Hampden-Sydney College receives an independent charter from the Virginia General Assembly and becomes the Medical College of Virginia (MCV).

1925: Richmond School of Social Economy becomes affiliated with the College of William and Mary and moves into Founder’s Hall on Franklin St. 1939: The Richmond School of Social Economy is renamed Richmond Professional Institute. 1947: MCV Foundation is incorporated. 1962: RPI becomes independent from William and Mary. RPI’s school colors are changed to blue and gray. 1963: RPI mascot changes from the green Devil to the Ram.

1860: In return for a $30,000 appropriation MCV conveys all its property to the Commonwealth of Virginia and becomes a state institution. 1913: The University College of Medicine and MCV merge.

1968: The first heart transplant at the Medical College of Virginia is performed Dr. Richard R. Lower. This was only the 9th such operation performed in the United States, and the 16th in the world. 1968: MCV and RPI merge to form Virginia Commonwealth University.

Meredith Rigsby Photos by Samantha Newton Graphics by Marleigh Culver

1969: VCU’s colors become black and gold. 1995: Virginia Commonwealth University campus in Qatar is founded by His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of Qatar 2001: Spring- Inger and Walter Rice Center for Environmental Life Science opened. In the summer the Eugene P. and Lois E. Trani Center for Life Science was opened. 2004: The name VCU Medical Center is adopted to refer to MCV Hospitals and VCU’s medical schools. The VCU Academic Campus is renamed the VCU Monroe Park Campus. 2006: VCU grew to become the most populated university in Virginia and the state’s first to have 30,000 students. 2007: The new Business Building pushes the Monroe Park Campus to the other side of Belvidere 2008: VCU celebrated 40th anniversary. Many VCU buildings are named after influential people in the school’s history or in Richmond history.

The Pollak Building:

Named after Theresa Pollak, a Virginian artist who is credited with introducing modern art to the city of Richmond and founder of the School of the Arts at VCU.

The Ginter Building: Named after Major Lewis Ginter, a cigarette mogul and one of the wealthiest men behind the creation of the Richmond Ginter Park neighborhood and the commissioning of the Jefferson Hotel. The “Scott House”: Built for Frederic and Elisabeth Scott by the Richmond architectural firm of Noland and Baskerville.

campusissues life contemporary


“Though financial aid issues continue to plague ambitious youth, the debate still lingers on whether a lack of funds is a hindrance or a blessing.”

Blues Teddy Gregson illustration by Rachel Maves Imagine you’re having the equivalent of a productive day to your standards. Class, lunch, study, then home to watch television and off to bed to repeat in the morning. Then imagine that, plus carrying the burden of debt (rent, utilities, student loans, other loans), school, family, and then, maybe, some social interaction, if you’re lucky. One person dealing with the responsibilities of two or more average college students is typical for many undergraduates today. The pool is getting smaller and the fish, larger. Unfortunately, for some, what used to be plenty is now scarcity. With the national median income ranging from $45,000 to $50,000 and one-year tuition for an in-state freshman housed in Gladding Residence Center running up to $25,378 with a 100 block meal swipes and 75 in dining dollars just getting a single degree is taxing to the average family with one student in a public university. I sparked up conversation on the topic with a few different VCU students. Seems like most are supporting themselves through grants, jobs and the additional gifts from parents or guardians. Addison, an English major, receives only financial support from her parents with her cell phone bill. International relations major, Emily Eason, after applying to Roanoke College, decided on VCU because they were willing to work with her finances and they catered to her low income because she is pursuing a college education. “What I want to do directly involves college. There are certain classes that I need to take to do what I want. In this day and age you need to go to college.” Students like Addison and Eason often run into roadblocks along the way.

Addison realizes that studying abroad would never be an option because she claims that she would be fired from her part time job washing dishes at Sticky Rice. Emily takes the same study abroad situation as a challenge, “I have a lot of confidence.” Students are rewarded in a number of different ways. For students with parents of low-income, rewards mostly resemble grants, subsidized loans and other scholarships. To calculate the sum that you owe VCU after financial aid you can go to eservices and look under the financial aid. Subtract your tuition from the entire award you receive for the entire year. Students with low-incomes often come from single-parent homes. Often this is an important factor in deciding whether or not they will be proactive in efforts to fill out the dreaded FAFSA. As much of a pain in the ass most students claim the FAFSA to be, it is the sole determinant of need based grants and loans that are disbursed. According to the College Board the average financial award

package is $8,381. On average about 58 percent of need is met. This resembles the percentage of needs met of similar size institutions such as Ohio State. Students, like Addison and Eason, can see the good and the bad in growing up in a low-income family and having more responsibility going through their college career. Resisting temptation becomes key. Indulging in material goods the minute you receive your financial aid refund is not the most sustainable option. Addison admits to spending more than she should’ve after receiving her first refund, then later regretting her choice and suffered the immediate consequences, not being able to buy necessities. Addison admits, “ It’s definitely an exercise in self-control.” Emily admits that growing up, she lived in a “poor setting” and had to get a job at age 15 to help support her mom. She adds, “I have learned to find ways to get money. There’s always a way.” Though financial aid issues continue to plague ambitious youth, the debate still lingers on whether a lack of funds is a hindrance or a blessing. Talking with Eason and Addison lead me more towards the blessing. Both continuing students seemed considerably well-adjusted and polite, positing the good of having to work a little harder to just finish their undergraduate education. Though I may have attributed the depositional factors of these students to behavior, there seems quite a correlation between successful students and family income, amount of financial aid received, as well as balancing a part-time/full-time job.



contemporary issues

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness:

A Guide to Following your Dreams

Joseph Genest illustration by Erynn Sweeney Photograph by Jason Anfinsen I feel like a little kid. Never have I waited so tediously for a car to arrive in my driveway. I walk to my kitchen and look at my two tickets out of here: one, a purple, over-sized concert ticket with the words “Bonnaroo” written in shiny letters across, the other, an acceptance letter from Virginia Commonwealth University. I grab the ticket and my bags, eager to awaken tomorrow, step out the door and strike out on my pilgrimage to this musical Mecca. This is more than a trip out of town or another concert, this is a community, a family if you will, of over 100,000 people coming from all over the country to one of the largest gatherings on the East Coast with the common goal of having a great time. It’s more than just music, it’s an exodus. With the headlights gleaming into my front porch, I say goodbye to my parents, throw my bags in the car, and begin the journey. 12


“That’ll be 1.87,” said the woman at the Exxon counter somewhere in southwest Virginia. I am traveling with one of my best friends from high school on Interstate 81 on a dreary Thursday. Perhaps, out of boredom, I’ve picked up the habit of concocting fantasy lifestyles of those I meet every day. I think about what life must be like for the lady behind the cash register. I transcribe my thoughts into my journal: 40-something, overweight cashier at a remote gas station leading what some may consider an “average” and from my perspective, a mediocre life. I can confidently depict nearly every aspect of her existence in my mind. Now some may consider me to be ignorant and simply stereotyping, and perhaps I am. After working several retail jobs in high school, I see nearly the same people in the exact same position hearing the exact same story

repeatedly. These are not individuals you write stories about. These people are…meh. In truth, I am afraid of them. I am afraid I will enter a routine of consumption and consumerism, a slave to the 9 to 5 work week. I am afraid I will become much like this highway on this cloudy, dreary day: monotonous and boring. Perhaps I’m being an ass. Perhaps I am projecting my own irrational fear. I ask myself: What is it that drives people to settle into such a life, to be content with being average and mediocre? Is it the fear of branching out and experiencing that which is unknown to them? It is said in philosophy that modern science is nothing more than tomorrow’s mythology. So, even that which we consider “known” in the present could quite possibly be trivial garbage of the future. That knowledge and information that we find comfort in

contemporary issues

“And so my journey of self-discovery begins. I’ve come to uncover who I am away from my comfort zone and meet the person I am amongst 100,000 strangers.”

could be nothing more than a mirage and the only way to see the truth is to venture out into the unknown and find it. And for me, Bonnaroo represents that unknown, a place so different from the safe, central Virginia community I was raised. My plan is two-fold: attend the festival to hear some amazing music and enjoy time with a good friend before we turn our separate ways, and use the opportunity to away from my comfort zone to explore all the possibilities of who I really am, the person that exists beyond the confines of home. This is a chance to discover and become the real me. To be honest, this transformation is something I have been considering for months, picking apart each individual aspect of myself for scrutiny. It was thoughts like these that replayed in my mind as we arrived at the festival grounds. Every droplet in the moist, night air was sparked with energy. You could feel the intensity of anticipation and excitement. My chest was pounding as I marched with hundreds of thousands of others onto the main road, approaching the festival gates. The overbearing arc, decorated with lightning bolts, hundreds of light bulbs illuminating the word “Bonnaroo” overhead. Electrifying cannot even come close

to describing this moment. It was like I was four-years-old again and couldn’t express or contain my excitement. My gleaming eyes were shooting bits of energy into the starry sky. After hearing the first note drop from The Temper Trap, my body felt complete freedom. The eight hour traffic jam, the car ride, the anticipation for months on end, the constant reminder of typical high school B.S. I put up with everyday all became trivial. This feeling came as a high to me. It was the same invincibility I felt speeding 100 miles per hour down the highway for the first time, or after my first kiss. I think you get the idea. And so my journey of self-discovery begins. I’ve come to uncover who I am away from my comfort zone and meet the person I am amongst 100,000 strangers. I will use the music as my guide on this journey, taking what I can from each artist because there is a lesson to be learned from all of them. Some of the lessons are uplifting. For example, Nas and Damian Marley’s Distant Relatives album is based entirely on the concept of all living creatures originating from one central organism. Music like that speaks to me. It explains to me why, as people we all hold the same central principles for living amongst each other and we all hold dear the most basic desire: to be loved. However, not everyone is a Nas and Damian Marley fan. Some people feel the comfort of Kid Cudi’s words that define teenage angst. Some are exploding frustrations and anger at GWAR. Some are even “escaping reality with the music” at Deadmau5 (although I personally believe it’s just an excuse to do ecstasy and dance). Regardless, the people you meet at the first show you go to will probably be at the second or third. This is because our music defines us. Our music paints a picture of our own personal world. The music some people listen to is a true representation of the inner thoughts and feelings of that person, while others live vicariously through the words and sounds of artists. I stand somewhere in the middle. Music for me is an expression of myself and also a journey away from myself. Because of this, I dug deeper into the scene at every show, tapping into my own connection with every artist. Jay Electronica taught me skepticism and a weary eye to “the man.” Nas and Damian Marley taught the me appreciation of the natural world I’ve been birthed into. The Flaming Lips showed me it’s cool to

be weird. I stopped by Kid Cudi, only to say goodbye to being a 16-year-old. Jimmy Cliff was happy. Stevie Wonder too. Dave Matthews tells tales of love and good time and Jay-Z...well Jay-Z is just Jay-Z. Jay-Z as a headliner, brought in a crowd estimated close to 100,000. How can this many people relate to a formerdrug-pusher-turned-rapper? Jay is an artist, I’ll admit, I live vicariously through to a certain extent. You see, as a middle class kid who grew up in a town once ranked no.1 for quality of life, some believe it’s hard for me to relate a drug pusher turned millionaire. However, Jay portrays messages much deeper than that. The overall concepts at hand are portrayals more of moral obligations one obtains through trial and tribulation, such as trust, honesty, providing for one’s family, etc. Keep in mind, my iTunes is around 68 GBs. I went halfway across the southeast to go to one of the world’s largest music festivals. However, quite simply, my theory is somewhat true. The beautiful thing about art is no matter who looks at it, it is their own definition the significance and relevance of the piece. Just because I hear Kid Cudi as a voice of teenage angst doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with a 50 year old being a fan because he can relate to Cudi’s marijuana consumption and vivid dreams. He just listens in a different way than I do. In a way, it’s all about honesty. I guess my fear has been rationalized. I guess having my identity stolen somewhere between who society wants me to be and who I want to be is why I went to ‘Roo in the first place. Music is more than just notes and rhythmic pattern to me, it defines me. The way I interpret music in the most honest manner possible portrays who I am and who I want to become. You see, there’s nothing wrong with being the cashier at an Exxon in southwest Virginia and leading what others may consider an “average life.” I, however, have different plans in mind. This is just the beginning of a vast life ahead of me and as long as I, or anyone, can put the same pair of headphones on in between class or work and still hear myself, who I am and want to be, that greater escape, then I’ll be good or in the words of Kid Cudi “On My Pursuit of Happiness.”



Family Dynamics contemporary issues

An only child’s perspective on family: role models, meeting parent’s expectations, college and the future.

Written and illustrated by Liz Remick As an only child, the idea of siblings has always been foreign to me. How can you expect to live with someone you’re forced to love, yet despise so very often? I can’t imagine having to share, much less compete, for my parents’ attention. It seems to me as the ultimate, neverending love/hate relationship, and I don’t think I could handle it. Now let me get this straight: I would never begin to describe myself as spoiled. I don’t ask or expect anything from my parents. The support me when I cannot, but I also have a job, and work extremely hard to pay for as much of my own means of living as possible. However, when it comes to attention, I am showered down from every angle; I am the limelight of their lives. But it’s not always a piece of cake. Being the singular, most important aspect of my parents’ lives can be challenging at times. Yes, I am the only apple of their eyes, but I also have no one to accuse for my wrongdoings. If I kick in the windshield of their 1987 Suzuki Samurai, or steal all of my mom’s clean socks, the only option I have to escape the blame is my cat, and surprisingly my parents are pretty smart. As far as school goes, my dad’s expectations are so high up that I can never begin to imagine a day where I will exceed them. In fact, it’s hard to me to be motivated by either of my parents because no matter how well I do, my mom will always love and forgive me, and my dad will still expect more. This last semester, I was working forty hours a week and living alone. The only real contact I had with my peers was in my classes, and it scared me. Needless to say, I did horribly. I even missed an exam and thought about running away forever, or disconnecting my phone so as to never face my parents again. The good 14


news is that none of my plans fell through, and my parents have yet to disown me. I found out through this situation, however, that I am my only means of motivation. The fact that I failed my own expectations, and put myself in bad light with my parents, has motivated me to work harder than ever. I only have myself to count on for my actions and decisions, and my closest friend to inspire me to be a better student, and a better person. Luckily for them, the idea of another me wasting their money on classes I’ll never finish, and drinking all of my dad’s secret root-beer stash was never a tangible reality. As for me, I never had to deal with some other kid stealing my parents’ attention. It doesn’t matter how many arguments we get into, or how many tears we cry, our family situation is optimal; it works for us in the right ways. I continue to independently impress and disappoint them on a regular basis, and they still love me…more than anything on earth. I often try, and find it difficult, to relate to the dynamics of my friends’ families, but I am eager to understand what it feels like to have siblings. I find it difficult to even come up with who else I hang out with that is also an only child. In fact, my closest friends have all been middle children. To me, being a middle child must be the hardest role to play in the family. Stuck between the baby and the first-born, the middle child often plays the part of role model for the younger, on top of seeking their own direction and expectations from their older siblings. Sometimes the results are found unsuccessful, or so I’ve witnessed through childhood and recent friends’ situations. I know, though, that every family had their hardships, and that each person plays an integral role.

As an only child, I often find myself befriending those who will accept me as a close part of their family; I have always been really close to my friends’ families. However, my lack of siblings deludes me to the roles my friends play in their families. I chalk their actions and decisions to their birth order, because it’s something I am continually intrigued by. In my mind, the oldest is either a rebel or a role model, the youngest is the spoiled brat, and anyone in between has identity problems. However, these delusions are not always true. Everyone plays a different part in their families, and I will never be able to fully grasp the relationship between a person, their siblings, and their parents. I’ve interviewed three students from VCU about their experiences with their siblings and the various ways they are motivated, or de-motivated by them. Whether competitive or supportive, having a sibling has a large effect on one’s motivation, whether they admit it or not. Having a brother or sister can inspire in ways that I will never know or understand. In other ways, it can be detrimental to have an older sibling who you don’t quite live up to. It can also force a person to strive towards a higher goal in their own life. “My sister Karah is completely debtfree, and that’s something I look up to,” says Chelsea Dodd, a sophomore at VCU. Chelsea comes from a family of four girls; two older sisters who she says inspire her on a daily basis, and a younger sister. Chelsea plays the dual role of baby sister while trying to maintain herself as a role model for her younger sister, Kelly. “She’s only 16 and she needs advice more than ever.” To me, being a role model for someone else is especially scary. To have all of your actions absorbed by someone

contemporary issues

else, and taken into consideration by someone who may follow in your footstep can be exhausting, especially if you aren’t where you want to be in your own life. On the other hand, being a role model might helps you become a better person, because you know there is someone out there to inspire. On the other hand, maybe it’s not important at all. Matt Hammond, a student at VCU with a younger brother, feels like he is nowhere near being a role model for his brother. He claims that his brother does much better in school and he says his favorite thing about him is that “he’s really motivated…he’s just sort of a type of person. I think that’s a good quality. At least, the sort of vibe he has is good, anyway.” In a typical family situation, it makes sense to me that the older brother would be the role model, but in Matt’s case, it’s the opposite. Gender roles play a big part in family situations as well. Brian, a senior at VCU,

has an older sister who he has always felt protective towards. “I feel like she’s led a really sheltered life and she always looks to me for advice.” He claims that his sister, who graduated with a 4.0 and is currently in medical school, has always played by the rules. “I think she wanted to make my parents happy and I never really cared about that.” Brian also claims, however, that he is closer to his parents than he is to his sister. Role models exist beyond family, though. Not everyone has someone they can look up to or inspire in their family. I love my parents, but I wouldn’t say that either of them have inspired me the way I would have wanted them to. As a child, parents are invincible; they can do no wrong. As you become an adult, however, it becomes clear that they have flaws and faults. Not ever decision they make is the right one, and it’s a realization that hits hard. Outside of family, some people look towards their god, public figures,

or celebrities, for inspiration. I find the strongest motivation comes from my friends. Watching the people closest to me succeed can inspire me like nothing else ever could. My favorite people are the ones that can do right, do well, and have faith in me to do the same. There is almost always a positive and negative with every situation. As a child, I was lonely enough to grow into a very anxious person, but at the same time, I love how close I have become with my parents. Whether or not they would consider me to be their sole importance is open to interpretation, and maybe I’m just daydreaming when I say that I am, but I couldn’t picture my life in any other way. I asked one of my closest friends if they were glad to have siblings, and she said the same thing; she couldn’t imagine a life without them.



contemporary issues

Internet Piracy

Mason Brown illustration by Hannah Swann According to United States law there is a price on my head of upwards of $300,000. I have broken both domestic and international laws in the comfort of my living room. I have never robbed a bank, illegally distributed narcotics, or held dog fights in my home. My crime is far worse in the eyes of many businesses. My crime is illegally downloading copies of Mona Lisa Smile. Now, I know you all cringed upon reading that line. The crime is brutal and clearly unacceptable but I’m not alone here. Millions of people all over the world pirate movies, music, games and software for the low cost of... free. Piracy is cheap, easy and intuitive to even the most basic of users. The laws surrounding piracy, however, are not as clear. Due to an old copyright policy crafted before the age of the Internet and business’s ability to strong arm policy via lobbying, the laws and protections surrounding piracy are foggy at best. Piracy is illegal in 9 out of 10 cases. 16


Like it or not, when you down load that copy of season six of Sex in the City, you are taking content that you do not own and defending yourself by attributing the copy to friend in Hong Kong. That will not hold up in court. While sharing of media is technically legal, doing so over the Internet is considered illegal by many companies, thus making it a shaky operation. While it would be easier to lend your friend a CD through a torrent site, the US government is currently run by people who do not quite understand the workings of the Internet and see this transaction as trouble. Although most people have pirated simply because it’s free and unlikely you will get caught, there are greater implications at hand. Besides the ridiculous fines one can face for such pirating, the ripple effect of widespread piracy can be harmful. As a school with such a strong art student population, it should be easy to understand why an artist would not want their works taken without proper

compensation. Many people think that pirating a song is fairly innocent crime since it is only “a song” but the widespread nature of piracy has not only hurt the entire music production process but also forced companies (such as Apple) to force crippling technology known as DRM. Digital Rights Management, or DRM, is a technology placed into files such as songs and movies that make the file protected from piracy by preventing things like sharing. While at the surface this may make sense as an approach to fight back against the pirates, this technology actually hampers the ease of use of the product. Ever tried moving itunes music out of itunes? It’s almost impossible without 3rd party means. Ever tried to get your itunes library on another computer? You can’t without transferring songs and their respective licenses. What is a license you say? Well, welcome to the future of digital marketplaces. Due to the company

contemporary issues backlash against piracy, a widespread economic model has been put into place to counteract piracy. Instead of purchasing a copy of the product you, now buy (in most cases, some providers do offer DRM free music) a license to view, play with or listen to your product under the terms of use you agree to with the store. Many do not read the terms of use because of their obscene legal jargon, but they usually work for all intensive purposes. The problem lies in that the idea of ownership is slowly escaping, allowing large companies to monopolize on your library of media rather than just selling a product. On a business side, this is an awesome deal for companies because as an individual you are locked into their service and have no way out. Once you start spending money with a specific company, you won’t want to change.

In many cases, you are screwed if you purchase a new device to view music and movies. While you originally thought you were buying a song, you were actually just buying the right to hear a song on a respective media player. It is a terrible and inefficient process. It is companies taking advantage of government lax in the area of the Internet and making the most of the market while they can. So, as of now, the best way to get the attention of companies is to pirate software. This is not a good idea. Let me make that clear... again. The legal implications are harsh. But, if you can not head my warning and do pirate, you hurt the companies that are hurting their consumers. In most cases, companies will institute an even harsher DRM, which can be ultimately worsen the situation. But piraters tend to be crafty

individuals and will more often than not take the time to hack the model. However, in some cases, such as with Apple or Electronic Arts, they will move to a “DRM free” model that, while isn’t perfect, is a step in the right direction for the consumer. “People aren’t just looking for a free ride. They’re living in the modern world and expecting business models to keep up with them,” said David Crafti, president of the Pirate Party of Australia (it is as awesome as it sounds). What Crafti points out is the consumer will get what it wants in the end, and that is freedom to do what they want with their media. So, next time you think about pirating, just realize that the entire political and economic balance of the world is in your hands.

ink Love it or hate it, we want your feedback! Comments or questions? mail or stop by: 817 W. Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23220 email:



Cultural Map Of Richmond

campus life






OREGON HILL VINYL CONFLICT - PINE AND ALBEMARLE New and used records ranging from punk, hardcore, metal, pop and other genres. CD’s, DVD’s, and other merchandise are also available.



HOLLY STREET PARK - HOLLY AND CHERRY A local park that has become a favorite for many bike events including polo, races, and club meetings.

PINE STREET BARBER SHOP - PINE AND ALBEMARLE Full service salon. Student haircuts are $19.

THE LOOKOUT - OREGON HILL PARKWAY A great spot to overlook the river or just read a book and relax.

FLYING BRICK LIBRARY - PINE AND SPRING Radical lending library and community space. Books, zines, periodicals, and other media varying in social and cultural topics.

HOLLYWOOD CEMETERY - CHERRY AND ALBEMARLE Over 60,000 buried, including local and national celebrities. Sprawled across acres of hills and paths, overlooking the James River.


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BLACK SWAN BOOKS - MAIN AND ROBINSON Buy or sell used, rare, or out-of-print books.

GARNETT’S CAFÉ - PARK AND MEADOW Retro sandwich and coffee shop

HALCYON - ROBINSON AND FLOYD Vintage clothing and accessories for men and women

BYRD PARK - LAKEVIEW AND ROBINSON Public park with lakes for paddleboats, picnics and fishing.

STRAWBERRY STREET MARKET - STRAWBERRY AND PARK Local neighborhood supermarket for groceries, beer and wine, health and school supplies.








CARYTOWN BYRD THEATER - CARY AND COLONIAL State and National Historic landmark offering second-run movies for $1.99. CARYTOWN CUPCAKES - COLONIAL AND CARY Gourmet cupcake shop. Flavors range from traditional Choco-

BASILIS - CARY AND BELMONT Authentic Greek food in a diner atmosphere. ELLWOOD THOMPSON’S - THOMPSON AND ELLWOOD Local independent grocery store and coffee shop, offering minimally processed and organic options.

late and Vanilla, to more eclectic, such as Mojito or Zuchinni.





THE BELVIDERE - BROAD AND HENRY Low Key, stylish bistro with an eclectic range of dishes, beers, and drinks.

KINDRED SPIRITS - BROAD AND ADAMS Boutique with natural cosmetics, body products, jewelry, and incense. Herbal tea tastings are held every Saturday.

QUIRK GALLERY - BROAD AND MADISON Art gallery and shop for unique, practical and decorative items.

GALLERY 5 - MARSHALL AND BROOK Community-oriented, socially motivated art gallery and performing art center.



Special Offer for University Students

$10 U-TIX


since 1982 Free admission! Enjoy authentic Indian Food, Dance and Music The best place to shop for Indian jewelry & clothing Sat. Sept. 25 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM Sun. Sept. 26 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM Greater Richmond Convention Center 403 N 3rd St. 804.346.9955

contemporary issues

FIVE IS THE NEW FOUR C 1 la s s o f


Christine Erickson Illustration by Hannah Swann June 2006, I sat among five hundred students in my cap and gown, wishing I had a paper bag, either to breathe in, or just throw up. I was eighteen years old and I had no idea where my life was taking me. Four years seemed like an eternity. The unknown gave me a panic attack, and as I crossed the stage, I began the long stretch to my future as a young, professional college graduate. It is now 2010, and the only diploma I’ve held this year was my baby sister’s as she took high school graduation pictures with her friends. My current anxiety comes from my constant lack of enough time. I am among the hundreds of students taking the five year route to a bachelors degree. It has become common for students to spread their undergraduate study over four or more years. This is not because we are dumb or lazy. It is a combination of poor educational funding, instability in the economy and insecurity towards our future. According to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, the rate of VCU students graduating in five or more years has been almost double the average four year track. One of the reasons is the misconception that, as advisers will tell you, 12 credits per semester is considered full time. Sure, but when you do the math, four years will leave you 14 credits short, and not even one extra semester of “full time” will result in your degree. VCU has grown from about 24,000 to 32,500 students in the past ten years. Registration for classes has become a stressful rendition of musical chairs, racing to fill the last slot in the course. More often



than not, this course usually happens to be some crucial prerequisite that will severely damage a student’s academic track to graduating on time. Regardless of the number of credits, in a world where one part-time job will permit you to barely scrape by, we are now juggling school on top of one, two, even three jobs, just to be able to afford to go to college. It is impossible to receive the education that you are paying so heavily for when you are exhausting yourself just to finance it. It’s a vicious cycle: You want to do well in school. In order to do that, you need the proper amount of time to study. In order to have that, you must not have a job. But you need to afford tuition, and books, and bills, so you get a job (or more). It is no wonder our generation is so cynical, we’re all so damn tired. We don’t have time to graduate in four years, we are all too busy trying to get by. Financial aid, in theory, would be helpful to this dilemma, if it wasn’t impossible for students, like myself, who are unable to qualify for grants, scholarships, or even work-study. For those of us, we are blessed with the gift of private student loans, the gift that keeps on giving more interest. Yet another reason why students push back graduating--- it is just one more year without beginning to chisel away debt.

The job market is scarier than ever, leaving friends I swore would be famous by now unemployed and unsure what to do with themselves. By giving yourself one more year or two to finish undergraduate studies, you are capable of devoting more energy into gaining experience, and polishing your resume. Employers are much easier to network with when they know you are a student in the planning process, not a fresh graduate who is desperate for a job. Financially handicapped, or not, there is also the extremely common notion that YOU WILL CHANGE YOUR MIND. My 18 and 22 year-old self would hate each other, and although I have always wanted to be a writer, there has been plenty of alterations and set backs along the way. You go to college and figure out your strengths and your weaknesses. The rest will eventually fall into place.

You might even find your happiness is more important than your income. You’ll never win an Oscar, but you make a documentary that shows the world a perspective no one has ever seen before. So what do you do? Opt out of Biology and become a film student. It might seem like a setback right now, but in the long run, the decision will be much more valid when you’re 40, pursuing a career that hasn’t bored you for the past 15 years, one that truly makes you happy. Family and friends are prone to ask the dreaded question, “So when do you graduate?” or my least favorite, “What’s next?” You didn’t come here to become a fortuneteller, but you did come here to get an education, so you will have to answer the first question. But there is nothing to be embarrassed about. It’s just not time yet, but you are almost, almost there. Spring 2010, I did not sit with my colleagues in my cap and gown at Commencement. Instead, I spent the day sitting in the cars of roller coasters beside my best friend, who has spent almost all five years of college bearing with me as I figured my life out. I may still have one more year to go, but the past four years have provided me with just enough time to know who I want to be, and an idea of how to get there.

Kicking the Can

contemporary issues

The hidden hazards of canned energy

“The typical 12-ounce energy drink contains twice as much caffeine as a can of soda.” Elaine Williams        The truth is, energy drinks are dangerous and unhealthy. However, energy drinks have become quite a fad with everyone, everywhere. Our youth seems to be hooked on these cans of chemicals used for stimulating the brain. Today, our world moves at an extremely high pace. For most, it’s hard to keep up with the rest of the world’s constant acceleration. So, we turn to chemicals, unnatural additives that our used to defuse our brains and pollute our bodies. Sure, they wake us up, but what else can they do? Energy drinks are similar to drugs such as amphetamines, cocaine and heroin because of the way they stimulate the brain. In fact, the typical 12-ounce energy drink contains twice as much caffeine as a can of soda. Many students use these drinks in order to keep up with the sometimes treacherous demands of binge drinking. Walk down a city street and it’s likely you’ll see energy drink advertisements, or someone walking to work with one in their hand. However, these beverages are extremely unhealthy and even dangerous, especially when mixed with alcohol. “Energy drinks are good for when you want to party,” Ally Shropshire, a 22-yearold, said. This seems to be the attitude amongst most young college students. It’s

fun, but it’s not at all safe. CaΩeine, the main ingredient in energy drinks, works by blocking the chemicals in your brain that make you lethargic. It also causes the blood vessels to constrict. Energy drinks also cause an increase in heart rate, high blood pressure and cause the muscles to tighten. Yes, the short term effects might feel good, but the long term effects are scary. Not only does the temporary brain stimulation eventually wear off, but your brain’s blood vessels continue to constrict causing your brain to go into a constant state of drowsiness. Long-term use of caffeine can also lead to osteoporosis. This dangerous product seen in every gas station, corner store, and super market all over the world has us all fooled. The world is in for a rude awakening. Most all energy drinks are high in sugar. In fact, one energy drink contains the amount of sugar one should consume in a day. Sugar is shown to give you a small burst of energy before crashing and losing all energy and endurance.

Now, for all those who drink energy drinks while consuming alcohol: beware. This includes drinks such as Four Loco or Joose. The mixture of the two can be life-threatening. In fact, mixing the two dehydrates the consumer almost twice as much as alcohol alone, and the results could be serious, even fatal. Energy drinks also contain stimulants and mixing stimulants with alcohol, which is a depressant, can cause cardiac problems. Unfortunately, mixing the two is extremely popular among our youth. This constant obsession our society has with always moving and always being on the go has caused the creation of this popular yet extremely unhealthy fad. We need to take a step back and take a look at the harm we are causing to our bodies just to keep up with the fast pace that lies outside our front door. Forget energy. Sit back and relax.



arts & culture

Andy Kotsch Senior in Painting & Printmaking

Interview by Christine Erickson How does your style differentiate between your paintings and drawings? When I paint, there is a plan to create a specific aesthetic, a specific emotion or effect. My paintings tend to have a lot more visual coherency than my drawings. I prefer my drawings to be in a stream of consciousness; raw thoughts with no pre-planning. How did you start and discover that you wanted to study Painting and Printmaking? I have been drawing and painting from a young age, and by the time college came around, the decision to make it my career seemed like the natural choice. (Also, it having to do the least with calculus and the like.) 24

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Three Creative Influences: - Painters like Norman Rockwell and Alphonse Mucha - Science, Fiction, Concept Art - Biology (Mycology, Entomology)

Favorite medium to work with: Acrylic / Pen and ink Where do you see yourself in five years? Hopefully painting and illustrating, although I would be fine with just traveling. That, or I will be homeless and counting small numbers compulsively.

Advice to aspiring artists: There will always be someone that is not as good as you, just as there will always be someone that is better than you. My favorite; “You must empty your cup before you can fill it again.�

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er l e e h W n n o r e H cia i y s l l u u S m n y Addisoo provided b Phot


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arts & culture

TONIGHT ONLY! Think of the Richmond electronic and dubstep music scenes and you might imagine partying, heavy bass and local events, like RVAlution. What does not necessarily come to mind is an unassuming medical student, struggling to balance mixing and producing dubstep music, training to practice clinical medicine and spending time with friends and family, but that’s exactly what Nishant Parikh does. Known in the dubstep world as NumberNin6, Parikh is Richmond’s premier dubstep DJ. Although he has blown up in the underground electronic scene with tracks like “Breathe” and “What You Gonna Do,” after speaking with the artist you might find he is a really down to earth guy. Parikh shared that he prefers producing over mixing, “Playing a packed house is definitely a thrill, but I think to

create is more rewarding for me.” But, he is no stranger to the world of producing. Parikh and some friends began messing around with the beginners program, Fruity Loops about eight or nine years ago producing trance and house musicand at the same time began learning to play guitar. The musician’s big break came in 2008 during his last semester as an undergraduate at VCU, which he spent abroad at Oxford University. Parikh took the bus into Brixton, London one night to see an underground dubstep show. Immediately, he was struck by the raw energy of the music-- he described that it was so much more about the sound quality and energy than the lights, MC’s, or female dancers. “The very next day I was producing dubstep,” he exclaimed. This combination of inspiration and know-how proved to be just the ticket to

gain world-wide recognition as a producer. Although Parikh’s rigorous school schedule has kept him from playing handfuls of local shows or being deeply involved in the Richmond music scene, he has played numerous big electronic music festivals across the country, and speaks most highly of playing in Baltimore. It seems nearly impossible that he balances such a successful musical career with his life as a medical student, and he admits that he struggles with it. “It’s actually a very tough balance,” Parikh said. “It means being content with the fact that I have to say no to a lot of gigs. There’s no graceful way to do it.” All this aside, NumberNin6 still manages to make great music and be a successful VCU student. Look out for his new two-song vinyl release, out soon from Subhuman records!

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arts & culture

Film/Literature Review Gene Stroman

The Bookworms of VCU In September of 2008, I started The Bookworms of VCU, a monthly book discussion group in order to encourage reading and the discussion of literature among people my age. Two years and seventeen books later, the club is fully established as a registered, funded VCU organization with over one hundred followers on Facebook. Although the club is technically a university organization, membership is also open to non-students. In an effort to reach as many readers as possible, membership is fairly relaxed. There is no penalization for missing a meeting, while attendance is still strongly encouraged. Those who do attend a meeting have the privilege to suggest and vote on the next month’s book. We understand that reading for pleasure may be difficult for busy students but nonetheless we want to provide a supportive, fun environment for any and all bookworms. Meetings are usually held at the first or last Sunday of the month. Hope to see some new faces out there!

Cinema Talk My love for film is equal to (if not greater than) my love for literature. Having taken several film courses at VCU, Cinema Talk is an idea that I’ve had since freshman year, after being unable to find any established film clubs at the school. The idea for the club is similar to the book club in that it will meet one (or two) times a month to view a movie and discuss it thereafter. We’ll mainly be watching art house, foreign, and independent films. Membership will again be relaxed, rewarding those who attend the screenings with the opportunity to recommend a movie for the next meeting. Keep your eyes peeled for a date for an interest meeting in the Fall! For more information on the clubs, find us on Facebook!


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Here’s a portion of the movies and books I enjoyed this summer. I feel these choices give a good idea of the types of books and movies members can look forward to in either of the clubs.


and, through its original narrative style, takes several twists, each connecting the lives of Medem’s intriguing and passionate characters to an island in the Mediterranean.

“Buffalo ‘66” Vincent Gallo, USA (1998)

“Diving Bell and the Butterfly” Julian Schnabel, France (2007) A touching, true story about the world of Jean-Dominique Bauby, editor of Elle magazine who suffers a stroke and is left in a state of complete paralysis with the exception of his left eye. His nurses devise a method of communication in which they read off the alphabet and Jean-Do blinks when the correct letter is chosen. Based on the memoir, which was written using this same method and published shortly before his death. This picture is aesthetically beautiful in every which way, it includes a great soundtrack and the always great French actor, Matthieu Amalric.  “Lucía y el Sexo (Sex & Lucía)” Julio Medem, Spain (2001) Probably the most sexual movie I’ve ever seen, Lucía y el Sexo is the story of Lucía (played by the beautiful Paz Vega) who falls in love with a work-obsessed writer. The movie is visually striking

Billy Brown (played by the director himself) has just been released from prison and needs a girlfriend to bring home to his Buffalo Bills-obsessed parents. On a mission to kill the man who put him in jail, Brown’s relationship with kidnapped teen Layla (Christina Ricci) goes from captorcaptive to sincerely romantic. This movie really took me by surprise. I had never even heard of Vincent Gallo and I’m not normally a fan of tough-guy crime movies- but Gallo totally pulls off the badass-with-aheart role. Ricci is beautiful and extremely talented, yet humble in her early years, and despite the rough surface, the film is surprisingly comedic and even tender at times. “Last Tango in Paris” Bernardo Bertolucci, Italy/France (1972) As a huge fan of Italian director Bertolucci’s classics The Conformist and The Last Emperor, I was expecting nothing short of spectacular for what some claim to be an art-house masterpiece. Living alone in Paris, Marlon Brando plays the role of an American man on the verge of insanity whose wife has just committed suicide. He strikes up a disturbing, yet strangely

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arts & culture beautiful affair with a young Parisian girl. Containing one of the most unsettling sex scenes in the history of cinema (“Go, get the butter.”), Last Tango in Paris is a daring film by a colossal director whose visual style and feel for human relationships is unmatched.

Bookworms, had ever read it. I decided to start my Summer off with this and A Farewell to Arms, the former being my favorite of the two. This classic short story (read it in one sitting) is the triumphant tale of a Cuban fisherman who struggles for several days and nights to capture a giant marlin. In my opinion, there’s no better time than the summer time to read Hemingway, especially a tale about the open sea.  “The Saga of Arturo Bandini” (4 Books) John Fante (1933, ’38, ’39, ’82)

“Breathless” Jean-Luc Godard, France (1960) Already having seen this masterpiece several times, I had the opportunity to see a 35 mm print, newly remastered for the film’s 50th anniversary. Co-written by two French New Wave masterminds Godard and Truffaut, the film follows Michel Poiccard (played by a young and Bogart-idolizing Belmondo), a car thief who meets up with Patricia Franchini (Jean Seberg, i.e. the gorgeous idol of every girl in Richmond) and wishes to run away with her to Rome. The film is to the French what Cassablanca is to Americans. It’s cool, it’s romantic, and if you haven’t seen this or anything by Godard, please get on it.

Heralded by Charles Bukowski (one of my favorite writers) as a god, John Fante is probably one of the most underrated American authors of the past Century. This semi-autobiographical quartet follows Fante’s alter ego Arturo Bandini from his years as a child, through his pretentious teenage years, and into his grown up years as a struggling writer. Covering a range of topics including art, love, family and American society in general, Fante’s writing is humorous, witty, moving, and most of all, beautiful.

“Invisible Cities” Italo Calvino (1972)

This book seems to be a staple among high school English course reading. Surprisingly, neither I, nor many members of The

“In my ninetieth year, I decided to give myself the gift of a night of love with a young virgin” is the first sentence in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s most recent novella and it pretty much sums up the disturbing and provocative plot. After reading his One Hundred Years of Solitude last summer for the club, I fell in love with the flowery, magical realism Marquez is known for. Although this book is a departure from this style, the directness of the character’s thoughts (written in first person) is beautiful in itself. The story follows the thoughts and actions of a man on his ninetieth Birthday, a man who “finds love at the end of his life, when he only waits for death.”

“Rabbit Run” John Updike (1960)


“Old Man and the Sea” Ernest Hemingway (1952)

“Memories of My Melancholy Whores” Gabriel Garcia Marquez (2004)

From its interesting narrative structure to its mesmerizing content and language, I can genuinely say this book is unlike anything I have ever read. Invisible Cities is filled with dream-like prose of cities in far away places, narrated by the great explorer Marco Polo as told to the aging emperor Kublai Khan.  As an Urban Planning major,  the vibrant descriptions of exotic landscapes constructed by a masterful, imaginative writer really made this one especially captivating. 

Having enjoyed it last year with the club shortly after the author passed, I decided to re-read Rabbit Run for the book’s 50th Anniversary. John Updike is still one of the most prolific and celebrated modern American authors, having written a handful of novels, volumes of poetry and short stories, and pieces for several magazines, most prominently the New Yorker (where I discovered him). Rabbit Run is the first of four books about Harry ‘Rabbit’ Angstrom, a middle class family man who is discontent with his stagnant suburban life and runs away in hopes of a life comparable to his days as a former high school basketball star. In the fall, the John Updike Society is holding a conference in celebration of his work, in particular Rabbit Run. Plans are being made for the club to take a trip to Reading, Penn. (Updike’s hometown as a child) for the conference in October.

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What white wall doesn’t need a little bit of color? Most likely, if you’re living in the dorms or even renting your own apartment painting the walls is not allowed. This quick tutorial will show you how to add a little (or a lot!) of color to any wall, refrigerator or doorway. Anywhere you can hang two small pieces of string is where you can incorporate some color into your living space. Jaime Barnett Paint swatches can be found at any hardware store in a variety of shapes, sizes and well, colors! Grab as many as you would like to create a banner that boasts many shades of one color or mix and match for a fun, colorful banner. For this project I chose to use paint swatches that have three samples of color so when they are cut there are actually two colors per flag. However, don’t forget that solid color samples work just as well! In this case, begin by cutting off the bottom of each swatch and then follow along the dotted lines to create two flags out of one paint sample. Once you have created a stack of flags, begin attaching them by running a line of glue along the string and pressing each flag onto it for

approximately 10 seconds. Make sure the glue is dry before picking it up. If the flags fall off on one side, try using double sided tape to attach them back to the string. Attach either side of the banner to the wall, doorway, window or where ever you please with wall safe tape or adhesive. Another no fuss alternative is to hang your banner on the refrigerator with magnets.

Tip: Write a message on the flags before attaching them to the string. Hang multiple banners of varying sizes to create a really colorful look!

Supplies: Paint Swatches Scissors String Glue or adhesive, double sided tape works great!


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Original Rolling Stones tour tee shirt $50, B Sides Boutique Mink Pink slasher flick shorts $77, Need Supply Co. Chain link mini cowboy boots, stylist’s own


he digital age has launched all sorts of new breeds, from online gamers to online daters. But one force that is making a huge impact on the industry is the fashion blogger. The fashion blogger is everywhere, snapping photos of street fashion and tweeting the latest fashion news to everyone in their circle. Armed with digital SLR cameras and smart phones alike, these fashionistas and streetwise gents are building immense followings. Thanks to sites like and, collective fashion consciousness is but a click away. Join Ink as we catch the illustrious blogger in action!

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Monteau corset top dress $48 Need Supply Co. Black motorcycle jacket $50 H&M Vintage T-bar shoes


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BCBG Maxazria sheer top $12 Rumors Boutique Tripp studded denim skinny leg jeans $29 Hot Topic Vintage high heel boots.

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Alternative v-neck tee $22 Need Supply Co. Heritage1981 vest $7 B-Sides Boutique Dockers shorts $8 Rumors Boutique

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Poison idea tank $12, Rumors Boutique, MonaMode genuine leather vest $10, Rumors Boutique Social Collision Rude Skinny Jean $34, Hot Topic Black ankle boots $16, Rumors Boutique


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Studded corset top, stylist’s own Locally designed animal print pencil skirt $32, Rumors Boutique Bow magnifying glass necklace $10, Hot Topic

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Alternative Hamburg Henley $68, Need Supply Co. Social Collision Rude Skinny Leg Jean $34, Hot Topic Converse All Stars $13, Rumors Boutique Black Beanie $12, Hot Topic Brass Knuklebelt Necklace $12, Hot Topic

Express ruched lingere top $6, B Sides Boutique Boyfriend blazer, stylist’s own Elephant pin necklace $16, Rumors Boutique Lani lace shorts $34, Need Supply Co. Vintage t-bar shoes

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Ink Magazine 3.1  

Our first issue of the year for VCU's student-run magazine

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