Jerk October 2018

Page 1



If you really want to scare everyone for Halloween...

dress up as intimacy.




Curating Meta Celeb Commentary 28


When a famous person  comments  on another celebrity's photo, or responds to a fan, JERK DIGITAL / 8 these two pop culture connoisseurs are all over it. HIT/BITCH / 10

Freak Show 38 Restraints have never felt so free. With a pulse on inner fantasies and proper accessorizing, harnesses and chains can bring bondage fashion outside of the bedroom.”

Free Spirits 48 Spiritualism was founded on a hoax, but its impact is all too real.

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BITCH OPINIONS MODERN DAY WITCH HUNT / 16 What the Salem witch trials still teach us about listening to women. CALLING ALL VOTERS / 20 Don’t even think about sending us to voicemail – no one can afford to stay home during this year’s midterm elections.

AMPLIFIED / 60 Closure



INSIDE SPIKE CITY / 22 The ongoing struggle with marijuana’s cheaper cousin.

FREAK SHOW / 38 Restraints have never felt so free.

SYNAPSE / 61 Move over Mike Meyers.



THE CURATORS OF META CELEB COMMENTARY / 28 What happens when one celebrity comments on another celebrity's photo? NO TOMBSTONE UNTURNED / 32 A guided tour of Oakwood Cemetery.

FREE SPIRITS / 48 Spiritualism's impact is all too real. OBSESSION WITH POSESSION / 52 Oui demystify ouija REWIND / 58 Mother of Frankenstein NO JUDGEMENT / 59 Basic-bitch shaming

SPEAKEASY / 62 Aparna Nancherla OBITCHUARY / 63 Kanye West CLOSET CASE / 64 New Logo, Who Dis? FORM & FUNCTION / 65 DJ's Bouncer. Photography: Jacob Marcus


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Jake Smith

Audrey Lee

Jacob Marcus & Sarah Whaley







Tara Gordon, Rebecca Balara


Sam Adams Sloane Sexton, Fiona Gaffney


Emily Lundin Allison Leung STAFF PHOTOGRAPHERS Kali Bowden, Ally Walsh ILLUSTRATORS Alex Woolfolk, Elena Demet, Thomas Harris, Jenny Katz, Isabelle Collins ILLUSTRATION DIRECTOR



Deniz Sahinturk WEB EDITOR Sam Berlin ASST. WEB EDITOR Chandler Plante, Meredith Clark WEB DESIGNER Tyler Hogan, Dasha Bychkova DIGITAL DIRECTOR




Hadassah Lai Emily Sawyer, Kerry Judge, Naomi Potterf, Samantha Cooper COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR PR REPRESENTATIVES



Ashley Roth

CONTRIBUTORS Caroline Cianci, Lydia Herne, Emily Kelleher, Randy Plavajka, Tess Greenberg, Claire Miller, Rachel Simon, Brianna Ward

Melissa Chessher ADVISER Through its content, Jerk is dedicated to enhancing insight through communication by providing an informal platform for the freedom of expression. The writing contained within this publication expresses the opinions of the individual writers. The ideas presented in this publication do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Jerk Editorial Board. Furthermore, Jerk will not be held responsible for the individual opinions expressed within. Submissions, suggestions, and opinions are welcomed and may be printed without contacting the writer. Jerk reserves the right to edit or refuse submissions at the discretion of its editors. Jerk Magazine is published monthly during the Syracuse University academic year. All contents of the publication are copyright 2014 by their respective creators. No content may be reproduced without the expressed written consent of the Jerk Editorial Board.

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CHANGE IS FUCKING SCARY I didn’t vote in the 2016 Presidential election. As a freshman who had the privilege of not caring for the first 18 years of her life, I didn’t know it was wrong to be ambivalent. I didn’t think my vote made a difference; and upon learning I joined six million immobilized voters under 30, I believed I did no wrong. Then along came JERK. My virgin encounter with the ‘zine was for an opinion piece on political correctness, commissioned about six month after Trump’s inauguration. Why I felt such a desire to impress this lowly campus publication as if it were the Ryan Gosling of student organizations is now beyond me; but alas, exhaustive reporting and exploration of modern op-ed construction led me to dozens of think pieces explaining the sickening state of politics. I couldn’t not care anymore, and I probably care too much now. Damn you JERK for changing me. Maybe that’s why I’m changing you. Thanks for noticing our redesign, by the way. When you’ve been doing something a particular way for some time, you get comfortable. Comfort makes us passive, and fuck that. Change is scary, but not as scary as staying the same, or even worse, digressing. Watching Brett Kavanaugh profess his love for beer in a hearing for the highest position in our judicial system made me more nauseous than his Natty Lites ever will. On page 20, get the breakdown on key midterm election seats and learn why we can’t afford to not care again. And while I’m totally down to experiment with the hexing-method mentioned in our history of Spiritualism feature on page 48, voting in November might prove more effective. Plus, polling booths are (probably) Ouija-free. Again, next month will be a first for me. If I can change, so can you. Voting may not be your thing, but think about all the things that weren’t your thing before college. And if that’s not enough, just know the only thing spookier than this issue of JERK is a midterm election that furthers Trump’s agenda. Rant over. Keep jerking it,


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Rip our OG logo, check out our send off on page 64.

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ON THE INTERNET Craving more Jerk in your life? We know you just can't get enough, so follow us on Twitter, Instagram and check out our website for the latest and greatest Jerk has to offer.



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HIT Shit we like


Election Day

October 19 We’re thrilled for one most iconic franchises in horror cinema to reboot this month. At the very least, it will be a novelty to see a legitimate Halloween sequel in theaters 40 years after the original spooked audiences everywhere.

November 6 Do your fucking civil duty and show up to the polls.

Margaret Atwood

Free STD Testing November 8 & 9 Go get your shit checked at the health center. Crabs aren’t cute.

Jeff Goldblum’s debut jazz album, The Capitol Studios Sessions

October 25 Atwood, whose book "The November 9 Handmaid's Tale" inspired the Known for his role in Jurassic popular Hulu series, will speak Park, Goldblum is making at Hendrick’s Chapel as a part his off-screen debut with his of the University Lecture series. new jazz album, The Capitol She’s the proven prophet of Studio Sessions with band, The dystopia, so you won’t want to Mildred Snitzer Orchestra. Did miss her. somebody say jazz daddy?

BITCH Shit we like to avoid

Parent's Weekend

Class Registration

Single's Day

October 26-28 Helicopter parents and snotty siblings are literally our worst nightmare.

begins November 7 You’re gonna get locked out of all the classes you need anyway, so why bother?

The Day After Halloween

Mercury Retrograde

November 11 Do you really need a holiday to remind you of the fact that you're single? And do you really wanna be celebrating that anyways? I mean, I guess we'll drink to that.

November 1 There’s no way you’re making it to your 8AM today. Have fun regretting all the shitty decisions you made on Halloween.

begins November 17 Mercury Retrograde is creeping up on us which means you should probably just stay inside with the door locked until further notice.

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JERK RECS This month, get in the Halloween mood with some of Jerk spooky, scary recommendations.

"The Monster Mash" / by Bobby "Borris" Pickett Get in the mood for the spookiest day of the year with Bobby Pickett’s classic Halloween jam. Bump it at your Halloweekend pregame or get festive and listen to it while you study for the inevitable day-after-Halloween test you forgot you had. Nothing will better prepare you to blackout on a Wednesday night than Bobby’s sweet, soothing voice singing about monsters getting lit. Like Bobby says, it’s a graveyard smash.

Sleepaway Camp: Yes, Sleepaway Camp is essentially a dumb version of Friday the 13th. No, this is not a good movie. But, dammit, if you're looking for a horror movie that delivers on every level of eighties cheesiness, consider this your new favorite film. This 1983 slasher flick is supposed to feature a summer camp terrorized by a killer stalking the resident horny teens, but it goes off the rails somewhere in the first five minutes and never recovers. Nowhere else will you find a corn-based murder, a 10-minute baseball sequence, and a deadly water-skiing accident in one place, plus the wildest killer reveal of all time. Better yet, the entire thing is available for free on YouTube.

Jerk on Spotify: Dear reader, Jerk is on Spotify! We’d like to think we have good taste, and if you’re already reading this page, you’re at least a little interested in what we have to say. Our editors are as addicted to finding new music as we are to nicotine (thanks, Juul!), and we’re always creating playlists and bumping songs both new and old that we think our readers will love. So give us a follow! To paraphrase Sheck Wes, “[Jerk Magazine] got so many flows.”



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boner chilling Sex can be scary, man. OUIJA-SPOT

I never believed in ghosts or spirits because it seemed implausible and went against the religion I grew up with, but in high school that changed. I was really into this one guy in my friend group, and I had no idea how to initiate anything. One time, my friends and I were hanging out late at night, and he decided to tell a ghost story. It was a little silly, but he seemed really into it and like he actually believed it. The next weekend, I bought a ouija board at Goodwill and invited him over to play it. It got kind of intense, and our fingers touched a couple of times. The questions we asked started off pretty silly like “What am I wearing?” but then it got more serious like “When will I die?” Tensions were high, and we held our breath. I told him if anything got too weird, we could move the piece to say GOODBYE. The “ghost” we were talking to started moving fast and saying gibberish when we asked when we would die, and we got so scared we said GOODBYE. We sat there breathing heavily when he scooched next to me, and we started making out. All thoughts about the ghost we just talked to were gone, and it was just me, him, and maybe the ghost still in the room.


Halloween night junior year of high school, I was invited to my local public school’s Halloween party at this rich kid’s house. I went to an all-girls Catholic school, so I often missed out on a lot of parties, but this night I decided to go all out. My mom dropped me off in a decoy doctor costume, so she wouldn’t yell at me. I ran into the bathroom and took off my scrubs to reveal my real costume: a sexy school girl. I walked confidently into the basement, surveying the crowd. I locked eyes with a vampire, Tom Brady, a cowboy, Steve Jobs, and Spider-Man. Although all appealed to me, I had to choose one to set my sights on, and that was my boy, Peter Parker. I had to ditch my more attractive friend because Spidey would obviously go for her. I walked up to Spidey and told him how much I loved his work, as in his photography work. He was amazed at my knowledge of the Spider-Man franchise. I pulled him into this separate room closed off, and we started making out. My skirt gave him easy access, but his Spidey costume covered his fingers. There’s no way for me in. If we wanted to do anything, we would have to strip the Spider-Man costume completely off where he would be full-blown naked. I decided not to risk that and left the room and ended up hooking up with Steve Jobs that night instead.

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Designer Barbie Sydney Steele Junior Illustration @thecashmonet

Sydney says her art speaks to who she is as a person. She loves creating and conceptualizing new pieces that reflect her unique and creative personality. She often uses subjects like the music she loves and people or ideas that inspire her. Although she offers commissions, they aren’t her favorite to make because she’d rather make art that better represents her own interests. Whether she’s showing off custom pieces or her own art, Instagram lets her reach over 600

To showcase your work on "Framed," email



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Confession is Good for the Souls From ghosts and ghouls to astrology and aliens, the time of all things supernatural is nigh. We asked how our readers felt about it, and this is what they said.

Do you believe in anything supernatural?

How do you feel about astrology?


Ghost Hunters seems real sometimes, but I'm a little skeptical.


I read my horoscope sometimes, but wtf is a moon sign.


I burn sage to get rid of the negative energy in my room. Does that count?



I talk to the ghost of a little girl that lives in my house to get on her good side.

The moon is in Gemini right now which TOTALLY explains why I've been feeling so indecisive lately.



As IF. Nothing supernatural is real, and I'd never fall for it.

If I hear one more girl blame cheating on her boyfriend on being a Scorpio, I'm gonna lose my shit.


That shit's so complicated, and I can't understand it.

Have you ever used a Ouija board?

35% 17%

Honorable mention: "I think I'm a Scapula or something"

I'm too scared to do that kind of stuff. I did with my friends, but I made it spell out "FUCK."


Why would I waste my money on that?


The spirit of an old man named Bill talked to me once. (14.5%) Honorable mentions: “i don’t fuck w no devil shit” “no because im not a FCKIN MORON” “People who do Ouija boards are asking for death”

Are you...


The only sensible one that no one listens to


The random friend who was just in the wrong place at the wrong time


The stupid one who somehow ends up alive at the end?


The jock that acts all tough but dies first Honorable mentions "The hot one who has sex and dies"

Weapon of choice against vampires? 40









Team Edward (46.4%)

What’s your scary move personality type?

garlic crucifix

Team Jacob (53.6%)

wooden stake decapitation

**For more reader-submitted responses, check out our ouija feature on page 57.

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Graveyard A word of caution before you start digging your grave: this satanic concoction is chillingly alcoholic. With over 4 shots of spirits and a bitter ruby-black stout, it’s not for the light of liver. Drink if you dare, but it’s BYOS (Bring your own shovel). Instructions: 1. Pour the vodka, tequila, rum, and gin into the glass. 2. Top with Guinness Draught Stout

and stir. 3. Garnish? Don’t bother. You won’t notice after 3 sips.

Ingredients: 1.5 ounces vodka 1.5 ounces tequila 1.5 ounces rum 1.5 ounces gin Guinness Draught Stout Optional, but not really: ` 18 ounce skull glass on Amazon, $13



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Modern Day Witch Hunt From the Salem witch trials to Supreme Court Justice hearings, men love putting women on the stand. And then not listening. By Lydia Herne : Illustration by Elena Demet

Most things from the 1690s don’t have much importance in our lives today; however, the Salem witch trials are oddly reminiscent of how the current political system operates. Women are put on trial, and if the men in power don’t believe them, they’re hung out to dry. In case you skipped sixth grade history class, here’s a brief run-down of the Salem witch trials: they took place from 1692 to 1693 in Salem, Massachusetts, and during that time many women were accused of, then unfairly tried for witchcraft. You could blame a lot of people for the Salem witch trials *cough, cough the Puritans*, but the reason these women were found guilty is because a male in a position of power decided so. These women were persecuted because they went against societal norms, which, at that time, was observing religion and attending church. Up against the all-powerful Church, everyone believed these colonial women were witches, and they deserved to die. The Salem witch trials remains the deadliest witch hunt in U.S. history, taking the lives of over 25 women (and a few men). The trials stripped women of their voices and enforced a daunting precedent that

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still endures today: that a man’s testimony hold more weight than a woman’s.

With every tweet, meme, and Facebook post, it seems that America is morphing into a diluted version Gilead, the dystopian future U.S. as introduced by the award-winning Hulu series The Handmaid's Tale. We laugh at the comparison, but as scary as it is to think about, there’s some reality to it. It’s just as fathomable as women being burned

" Her distorted version of reality seems even closer than ever." at the stake. Now that there’s a Republican majority in the Supreme Court, precedents we take for granted like Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges, which made gay marriage legal nationwide only three years ago, are in question. Just last fall, our newly-appointed Justice Brett Kavanaugh attempted to prevent a 17-year-old undocumented immigrant from aborting her pregnancy by elongating the court decision until Texas’ 20week cut-off for all legal

abortions. According to a recent survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation, Roe v. Wade is still supported by the majority –– 67% of Americans do not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned. Although Kavanaugh has stated in the past that he will faithfully follow precedents, it’s doubtful he’ll be championing reproductive rights alongside his majority Republican court. Women’s reproductive rights are in jeopardy, and The Handmaid's Tale makes it difficult not to draw connections between the oppression the handmaids endure, what the Salem women faced, and what women are fighting against in our heated political climate. In The Handmaid's Tale, the main character, Offred, and her fellow handmaids are forced into subordinate roles in society. They are used solely for their fertility and are stripped of their constitutional rights. Should they resist, they risk death. Salem ringing a bell? The Handmaid's Tale came as a sobering truth for many, but those of us who know what it feels like to be told what we can or can’t do with our own body, weren’t as surprised. I read the The Handmaid’s Tale in high school. In our discussion, my teacher told us how Margaret Atwood based the novel off what it felt like to be a woman during Reagan’s presidency and how his push for return to “traditional” family values seemed like a gateway to Offred’s life. Back then, Atwood feared her dystopian world of Gilead could be America’s destiny. Now, four decades later, her perverted version of reality seems less distorted. We’ve watched survivors like Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Anita Hill risk everything to stand up and publicize the despicable things

that men, specifically powerful men in the national spotlight, have put them through. It’s been 27 years since Anita Hill testified at Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearing and made it clear he was a predator to her at their place of work. During her testimony, she recounted the numerous times Thomas, her supervisor at the time, insisted on taking her out, making her uncomfortable and demeaning her. Yet, Thomas was still confirmed, and continues to sit on the bench today where he can make decisions on the rights of women's bodies.


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History repeated itself in September when Dr. Blasey Ford put her life, family, and reputation on the line in order to inform the American people about Brett Kavanaugh, someone who will now make those same decisions for the whole country. She said in her testimony’s opening statement, “I do not want to be here,” exhibiting bravery and knowing very well how these scenarios usually end for female victims. She didn’t want to testify on the national stage, but she did so feeling it was her civic duty. And, of course, she was quickly called a liar, mocked by the president of the U.S., and still can’t return home because of “unending” threats. Here we are almost four decades post-Salem witch trials, with an incredibly similar situation — and a choice. I saw the hearing as a turning point for our democracy, and the U.S. as a whole. We had the choice

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to believe a woman’s testimony and condemn a powerful man for his wrong-doing. We had a choice to make an example of Kavanaugh and send a message to men worldwide; however, we didn't accomplish that. The U.S. government successfully silenced another woman’s voice. VPA junior, Greer Fawcett, is one of the women who spoke on the steps of Hendrick’s Chapel at the student walk out protesting Kavanaugh’s confirmation. In front of dozens of students and several cameras, she talked about how she wasn’t originally going to speak, but she wanted to acknowledge that, “we shouldn’t be fighting, but we have to.” At the end of the day, we angrily tweet, protest, and curse about Kavanaugh, yet there he is serving on the highest court. We lost this battle, but it’s time to change the way this country is run. We can make sure the next generation grows up knowing the injustices committed during the Salem witch trials, the fear that Atwood felt while writing The Handmaid's Tale, and the very real struggles that we still face in treating women with the same respect and credibility as men. In this year’s elections, millennials make up the largest portion of eligible voters in the U.S. for the first time. “I hope many women will go to the polls this November, and vote against the party who doesn’t believe the credible allegations of sexual assault. and take it out on every republican, including the president,” says Professor Bradley Gorham, who teaches the diversity course Race, Gender, and the Media. “This will be another touchstone to say, ‘When will women’s stories about sexual assault actually be believed by men in power?’”


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Calling All Voters In this political climate, no one can afford to stay home during an election. By Emily Kelleher : Illustration by Thomas Harris

In a political climate where each day is more outrageous than the next, where you forget about the children that were ripped out of their parents’ arms at our borders because you’ve moved on to the Supreme Court Justice who has been accused of sexual assault, it’s easy to feel powerless. Before you can address climate change, the defunding of Planned Parenthood, or discrimination against refugees, another crisis hits. But there’s one action so simple and yet so powerful, we can’t afford to miss it. The midterm elections are on November 6th, and no one has the luxury of not voting. Midterm elections mark the halfway point of each president’s four-year term, during which the entire House of Representatives and about a third of the Senate are re-elected. Midterms offer the chance for Republicans and Democrats to battle it out for majorities in both houses of Congress, determining which party’s legislative agenda has any chance of passing. Republicans have held a majority in both houses since 2016, allowing them to pass major tax reform, increase defense spending, confirm Neil Gorsuch as Justice Antonin Scalia’s replacement, and establish further sanctions on Russia, to name a few things. Whether that majority changes will determine the fate of legislation like Obamacare,

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tax reform, Medicare and social security. But this election is about more than which side of the aisle those predictably partisan issues will fall to. Majorities in both houses have subpoena power, meaning they can request documents or call witnesses to testify. If Democrats break the tie, they could launch investigations into everything from Trump’s taxes to his businesses to sexual assault allegations against him, and intensify existing ones regarding Russia. A Democratic majority in the House could initiate impeachment hearings, and though unlikely, a majority in the Senate could vote the impeachment through. These implications of the midterm elections reach the highest levels of our democracy, and hold the potential to revolutionize the makeup of all three branches of government. But they hit close to home too. Locally, 36 governors will be up for election this year. Those elected will still be in office when districts are redrawn in 2022, meaning they’ll decide how geography affects elections for the following decade. When districts are redrawn every ten years following the census, those who plan them have the power to manipulate congressional districts to favor their own party in a process called gerrymandering. So if a Democratic senator wanted to ensure

the best possible chances for Democratic wins, they might look for areas with a lot of Republican support and draw different districts through that area so that support doesn’t translate to a Republican majority anywhere. When Republicans won the majority in the 2010 midterm elections, they used this power to its full potential. This upcoming election could be the Democrat's chance to turn the tide. In Syracuse, State Senator DeFrancisco, who represents a senate district containing part of Syracuse, is not seeking re-election, and should he be replaced by a Democrat, redistricting could change the political makeup of Central New York dramatically. College campuses have long standing reputations for being hotbeds of political activity, protest, and general anarchy. And while students turnout for presidential elections about as regularly as the general voting population, when it comes to midterm elections, students stay at home. In 2014, only 18 percent of college students voted. And midterms with low voter turnout have historically been decided by an old, white, and Republican-leaning voter pool. When you choose not to vote, you leave decisions about our representatives up to whoever bothers to show up. If that doesn’t make you uncomfortable, you’re probably not paying close enough attention. Kiera Wainer, a field director for John Katko, congressman for the 24th congressional district, says “In a historically swing district, this congressional election is vital. Nationwide, both Democrats and Republicans have a lot to lose, so by not using your voice, you lose the right to complain.” College students have enormous potential to influence the elections in the area they go to school. In 2016, over 30 congressmen were elected by fewer votes than just the number of students living in their district. In fact, New York Congresswoman Claudia Tenney defeated her opponent by 15,000 votes in 2016, less than the

student body of the SUNY school in her district, Binghamton University. The city of Syracuse is represented by Congressman John Katko, who defeated his Democratic opponent in a bid for reelection by 63,000 votes in 2016. This time around, Katko faces Democratic challenger Dana Balter, a former teaching assistant at SU. She’s one of an unprecedented 256 women running for office in what many have dubbed the year of the woman. Today women make up only 20 percent of Congress, with 84 in the House and 23 in the Senate. This year, while women as a whole are underrepresented among candidates for the House of Representatives, women of color are actually proportionately represented. But how far they advance is up to voters like you. It would definitely be hard to find a student on campus that doesn’t have an opinion about the state of U.S. politics right now. The problem is, those opinions don’t show up to vote. This November, it’s time to use your voice and do your part to shape our government. If you’re unsatisfied with the way our country is being run, showing up to vote is the least you can do. If you’re angry that a man whom the UN general assembly laughs at is running our country, if you’re angry that a man facing sexual assault allegations was given a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court, or that Republican tax reform overwhelmingly benefits the top one percent of earners, or that the U.S. ranks 102 out of 193 countries in female representation in government, you can’t afford to stay home. Get up, get out, and do your part to create change. If you won’t, who will?


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Inside Spike City In 2015, The New York Times exposed Syracuse’s deadly synthetic marijuana epidemic. Three years later, a summer of disturbing overdoses reveals the city’s ongoing struggle with marijuana’s cheaper cousin. By Randy Plavajka : Illustration by Emily Lundin

It was three in the morning when Gene Barfield felt his heart stop beating. He heard a woman call out, asking if he was okay. But Barfield could not move or answer; he was seemingly paralyzed. At 37 years old, Barfield wondered if he would ever get to see his young son again, or if he would die here on his back, in a dark park in Syracuse, New York. “I had to beg God to let me have a second chance,” Barfield says, now standing at the same spot where he nearly died three days earlier. He fixes his eyes on the patch of grass where he wrestled for his life with one of the most dangerous drugs currently available in the Syracuse community. Synthetic marijuana, otherwise known as spike, spice, or K2, is a mix of man-made chemicals marketed as “fake weed.” If you’ve ever rolled up the real stuff, (we see you, Jerks), you’d know weed comes in solid buds. But this drug typically appears as a combination of herbs, spices and toxic chemicals, ultimately spilling out of its plastic baggy like green potpourri. It’s hardly a stealthy imitation of Mary Jane herself. But despite this visual tip-off, there is no way to properly regulate the drug whatsoever, meaning smoking it could lead to a slew of unpredictable side effects. The high from K2 is unlike the high from marijuana, according to Dr.

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David Mason, medical director of emergency and urgent care services at Crouse Hospital. When to comes to sativa, indica, and hybrids, people who smoke real marijuana know what to expect from the different strains. Indica typically relaxes the user, while sativa provides a more energizing experience. Hybrid strains of weed will land a user somewhere in the middle of those two states; but it will not land them in the hospital like smoking spike might. "Using spike is like playing Russian roulette,” Mason says. “It is just such a gamble; you never know what you’re going to get." The chemicals in the mix vary from brand to brand of the drug, and there’s no true recipe. When the government outlaws certain chemicals to hinder spike’s production, manufacturers of the drug tweak the formula slightly to evade the bans. The chemicals, then, become the real mystery factor in the equation. Adjusting the spikemaking process creates an even more potent and dangerous version of the synthetic drug. Mason says using it can result in vomiting and hallucinations, and may cause the user to become belligerent and violent in an instant. Users who smoke too much can overdose if, unbeknownst to them, the formula is altered by toxic proportions without leaving a trace. Syracuse has a grim history with spike. In a New York Times magazine article, the city was



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Spike by the $$$

$900 per kilogram $45 for 10g Online $14-25 for 10 -15g

(Some websites accept Visa. )

$1 for a joint or blunt

per sources - even less if it is off-brand or homemade

$10 for 1/8 of an ounce of spike

$40-60 for 1/8 of an ounce of marijuana

Prices typically go down for both when purchased in bulk

Sources: www.drugabuse. gov/publications addictionresource. com

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dubbed “Spike Nation” by an overdose patient interviewed for the story. That patient was referring to the rampant usage and overdose cases Syracuse witnessed back in 2015, but the name still holds true today. This past summer, during a two-week span in July, ambulance crews responded to more than 50 overdose reports throughout the city. Police reports from those two weeks corroborate that figure and paint a rather grim picture of the city. In the downtown area of Syracuse, erratic behaviors brought on by the drug are often on public display. Melton Spinks, who has spent years living on the streets of Syracuse, says it is not uncommon to see a user or two having an episode on the sidewalks of South Salina every week because of spike. “They just took somebody to the hospital from the Family Dollar parking lot right over here on West Onondaga yesterday,” he says. “Not alcohol, not heroin, not crack, not marijuana... spike.” Reactions to the drug can show up as extreme opposites. You might see two users splayed across the sidewalk on Clinton street, but while one is screaming bloody murder, the other may be lying peacefully unconscious. Abundant spike usage is prevalent in the city because of the drug’s accessibility and wrongfully-perceived benefits. Mason says the synthetic drug is marketed in such a way that makes it seem better than real marijuana. “I think some of it is the packaging, and some of it is that it’s available at the smoke shops, which makes it feel like it’s safer,” Mason says. Neon colors, psychedelic designs and holographic wrappers make spike look vibrant and attractive on the outside – a wolf in sheep’s clothing. But the larger issue at hand is its alleged availability at some corner stores in the city, and in the university area. After a series of police raids in August, Lancaster Market in the quaint and studentfrequented Westcott neighborhood was shut down when its owners were arrested for

possession of 470 packets of synthetic marijuana, want to do is smoke that shit all day.” along with a slew of other charges. Though spike As he walks deeper into the fateful park and was found at a connected apartment two miles shares his story, and those of others, it becomes away, the arrests illustrate the link between more apparent that spike usage in Syracuse certain corner stores and the presence of spike. hasn’t declined in the three years since it earned So as students cure their hangover at Mom’s the nickname “Spike Nation.” The sense of Diner down the street, a more sinister drug is urgency just got old. making its way through the neighborhood. Mason says that the waves of overdoses this Barfield believes spike’s seemingly summer speak to the constant and continued underground prevalence throughout the city presence. “I don't think people just all of a might have something to do with its previous sudden started using again last week,” Mason reputation. “When it first came out, it wasn't says, referencing July’s uptick in overdoses. comatosing people like it is today. It was just “Whatever came to town was much more a regular, laidback high like marijuana. It was intense.” really a synthetic marijuana. Now it has just been One proposal aimed at fixing the issue of taken to a whole new level,” he says. spike usage is to legalize marijuana throughout Even if users know spike is dangerous, Mason the entire state of New York. In a July report from says one of the main reasons they continue to the New York State Department of Health, the smoke it is that it can slip past drug tests and regulation and legalization of weed was posited skate around the legal issues that coincide with as one of the strongest solutions to curbing drug usage. He says people are more willing to synthetic marijuana usage in a city. The report risk getting sick than face potential legal troubles cited findings from the 2017 Global Drug Survey for smoking true marijuana. and examined the rates of spike usage before What’s more, spike is cheap, and its price and after marijuana full legalization. The hope tempts users away from more expensive drugs. was that a legal marijuana would eliminate the Barfield says that you can buy one joint or blunt need for a dangerous synthetic one. of spike for just a dollar or less, depending on the supplier. That same joint or blunt with real weed rolled snuggly inside may cost $5. This means spike is considerably cheaper than marijuana, especially when purchased in bulk quantities. An eighth of an ounce of spike may cost a user $10 while the same amount of marijuana may cost anywhere from $40-$60, depending on the strain. As Barfield reflects on Syracuse’s several years of spike problems, he longs for the days when the drug didn’t poison the city. And though he has eliminated the drug from his own life, the continuing effects he sees it have on people he knows within the neighborhood trouble him. “It's terrifying,” Barfield says. “It's guys I grew up with, played basketball with, who did the most amazing athletic things. And now they military crawl through the fucking hood. All they


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The problem, though, is that while it may stop some usage, the lower cost of spike compared to marijuana, legal or not, is still one of the most powerful driving forces behind its continued usage in an impoverished Syracuse. And even if marijuana were legalized and made more affordable, Barfield does not believe synthetic usage will not stop. “I have seen guys transform and crab-walk – convulse. Some real exorcist type of shit. I witnessed it,” he says. “It is so numbing to know that these motherfuckers really think – like they really smoke that shit again after it makes them do that. They enjoy that experience. I don't know if it's some out-body-experience the way they be doing it. There is nothing gratifying about some shit like that.” Mason says the most difficult part about combating the issue is that there is no defined demographic or type of user or victim to spike addiction. “You can imagine how it can happen to anyone,” he says. “Your kid, your family, your brother. It is not just happening to other people, it is happening to people you know and love.” His hardest conversations as a doctor at Crouse have been with the families he counsels when a relative is admitted for using or overdosing on spike. Breaking the news to their loved ones breaks him. Barfield is unsure if there is any way to fix the issue in the next few years, but remains hopeful that people might learn from his mistakes with spike. “I just really hope that the next generation finds something better to do than consume shit that turns them into zombies,” he says. Standing in the dried-up grass, Barfield pauses and thinks in silence for a moment. Hands behind his back, he looks to the sky and says, “It is not just a high anymore. People are turning into the Walking Dead. And it's scary shit.” He shakes his head with glazed eyes. “It's too far gone. That shit is too far gone.”


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Curating Commentary Curating Meta Celeb Commentary CuratingMeta Meta Celeb Celeb Commentary When a famous person comments on another celebrity's photo, or responds to a fan, these two pop culture connoisseurs are all over it. By Tess Greenberg : Photography from Comments By Celebs

Julie Kramer’s alarm went off at 8:30 a.m., waking her well before any class or meeting scheduled for the day. She tiptoed down a hallway of her sorority house, a place usually filled with screaming girls and blasting music, now unsettlingly quiet. She settled in on the living room couch, her dark hair still unbrushed, and glued her eyes to the large TV monitor. Don’t offend Julie by deeming her an early riser, nor so sick a TV addict she absolutely needed to wake up early to maximize her watching time. She was simply waiting for the day’s episode of Live with Kelly and Ryan to air. Less than 24 hours prior to her uncharacteristic wake up, Julie had been exchanging messages with on-air personality Kelly Ripa via her secondary Instagram account, @CommentsByCelebs, which Ripa just so happened to have stumbled upon and grown obsessed with. Julie and her Comments By Celebs co-curator, Emma Diamond, had a hunch that this was the morning their lives would change; and just as they expected, the highlyrespected, social-media-savvy morning show host asked her studio audience, “Have you heard of Comments By Celebs?” live on national television. Julie sat there alone in shock and watched as her follower count increased by the thousands within minutes. Though she only graduated from Syracuse University in Spring 2018, Julie’s life has been

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an ongoing celebration with the increasing popularity of Comments By Celebs, a niche Instagram account dedicated to sharing screenshots of funny comments posted by celebrities on other celebrities’ posts. You’ve probably seen their content pop up in your discover feed. Think: basically every time your favorite married couple Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds take a ‘gram jab at one another. In other words, Julie and her co-founder-slashbest-friend, Emma (another SU alum), now follow celebrity comments as their full-time jobs. The two met as sorority sisters, and although they’re two years apart in age, they connected over a mutual love for pop culture. "Finding someone you can bond with over celebrities creates an instant relationship,” Julie says. That relationship acts as the foundation for the Comments By Celebs brand, complete with three spin-off accounts, a weekly podcast, A-List followers like Gwyneth Paltrow, Chrissy Teigen, and John Mayer, and personal relationships with several of the celebrities they’ve been following for years. “It’s kind of a shock still, especially when I tell them I haven’t even been out of college for a full year yet.” Julie and Emma’s account gains traction by the second, sporting over 800,000 followers from around the world just a year-and-a-half after posting a screenshot of Paris Hilton dropping the

“fire” emoji on one of Kim Kardashian’s posts. Julie says the concept seemed so obvious once the photo-sharing app made a very important update. “Instagram changed their algorithm so that it would show celebrity and high-profile comments above others,” she says. Meaning Ariana Grande’s comment would be more visible to users than a regular fan’s comment would be. Emma and Julie took immediate notice of the new feature and started sending screenshots back and forth, smitten with the snarky comments celebrities left for each other. “Eventually Emma came up with the idea to capitalize on it, and brought me on board to run the account with her.” From the perspective of a plebian follower, their celebrity stalking jobs may look easy. And while they attribute the rapid spike in followers to their “fairy godmother” Kelly Ripa, they’re now responsible for operating a full-fledged social media business. “We’re getting paid to do what we love every day,” Emma says. Julie’s family has been nothing but supportive as she has made Instagram into her full time job. Her mom, Jody, is overjoyed by her daughter’s success. “I was shocked when she first told us, because she had 12,000 followers and I thought that was a lot! Now at 800,000, I am simply blown away.” Despite her awe, this career move did not come as a huge suprise to Jody.


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“Julie has always loved pop culture,” she says. “I can remember her walking around the grocery store with me and reading tabloid magazines while I shopped.” Never did Judy think she’d be sharing this adoration for her daughter with a celebrity like Kelly Ripa. Ripa loved the CBC girls from the beginning, and since mentioning their account for the first time on air that morning as Julie watched, she has nodded to her favorite Instagram several times since, and even appeared as the first guest on CBC podcast. “To have someone of that caliber be so supportive and kind hearted to you is an indescribable feeling.” When explaining her relationship with Ripa, Julie reveals the key to the CBC success: humanizing celebrities and letting them speak for themselves. “We’re in a new age of celebrity news –– our generation doesn’t trust the gossipy tabloids. We gravitate more towards news that we know to be true.” For example, People can and will speculate as much as they want about an unconfirmed celebrity pregnancy, but it’s only speculation. If that same celebrity reveals something on an Instagram post to confirm their pregnancy, there’s an automatic news story stemming from the source itself. “Our top posts typically fall into the category of, ‘confirming or commenting on something previously unknown,’” Julie says. Another comment style is the Jerk-approved “clapback.” When celebrities want to out-wit their trolls, they often choose Instagram as their battleground. Recently, Riverdale star Camila Mendes threw hands when a hater accused her of never going to college. “I graduated from New York University with a degree in doing research before making false claims about people,” she replied. CBC captioned the screenshot of this interaction, “Boom.” Roasted.

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Comments by Celebs is a mutualistic operation. Every day, Julie and Emma rely on celebrity activity on Instagram to keep up with the demand for their content. No celeb comments, no Comments by Celebs – it’s that simple. But with all the buzz the account garners, celebs are smart to up their digital engagement. “I think that celebrities are recognizing that comments are now becoming headlines, and they want to be a part of that conversation,” Julie says. A shout-out on Comments by Celebs acts as a press opportunity, and not just on Live with Kelly and Ryan. E! News, Cosmopolitan, and MTV regularly credit Comments by Celebs as sources for celebrity news stories. “If they comment something funny and we post that, it’s just an added perk for them. What person – famous or not – wouldn’t want to be seen as witty?” Julie added. An account like this comes with immense pressure to keep up with content and have an eye on Instagram around the clock. Julia and Emma brought on friend and current SU senior Carly Haber to the team to help sift through their hundreds of instant messages, track press, and prepare for podcast recordings. “Emma and Julie have an incredible relationship. They both have the same sense of humor and are masters at what they do,” Carly says. “They both excel

in this field and are able to handle the stress and fast-paced industry they are entering.” The relationship between Julie and Emma is what makes CBC sustainable. Emma says she specifically wanted Julie to be her partner in the endeavor. “If I had to describe Julie in three words, they would be funny, intelligent, and easygoing. Julie and I are both pop culture enthusiasts with an appreciation for intelligent humor. She can keep up.” Julie handles the day-to-day posting, while Emma manages their communications. Both roles are crucial given the popularity of their account and account’s success story. Emma says they work together “seamlessly” and CBC is as much an extension of their friendship as it is a cross-platform social media brand. “Julie is my ride or die,” says Emma. In a saturated, sometimes scary realm of niche meme accounts, Comments by Celebs has earned our respect for grabbing the attentions of celebs and fans alike. Especially when they catch our pop culture royalty acting like, well, Jerks. Yet the Instagram Hall of Fame is by no means the end goal for the girls. With an abundance of business inquiries — from partnered sponsorships to TV deals — they are letting the comments decide their destiny, and all celebrities are welcome.


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UNTURNED A guided tour of Oakwood Cemetery captures how everyone, dead and alive, has a story. By Claire Miller : Photography by Allison Leung

By Claire Miller : Photography by XXX XXX

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I wander up a steep, tree-crowded “Yes, I’m Claire. Nice to meet you,” I responded. hill in Oakwood Cemetery, a rural expanse “Sarah? I’m Sue, nice to meet you too.” I held that opened in 1859 and features 160 acres of my hand up to my chest and tilt my head in that 60,000 dead. My curiosity pulls me down a embarrassed gesture people do when they have narrowing path and away from my classmates, to correct someone. “Claire.” who continue on our "Live Oaks and Dead Folks" walking tour. My face hits a cobweb, sending “Oh, Claire. Well, I’ll probably forget your name my hands into a swatting fury in front of my once the other students show up anyhow,” she eyes. said. And then they did, as if she conjured them. Once I’m web-free, I pivot and realize I’m alone – my classmates are gone. I’m struck with a mild panic. What if they forgot about me, left me for dead with, well, the dead? I start back down at a trot, my backpack flapping against my

"Apparently, dead men tell tales after all." rear like a jockey spurring on his horse. I break back through the trees into the road and exhale my relief when I see them: my classmates, just wandering, like me. I move closer to them for comfort and breathe in the crisp, almost-fall air. When I first arrived at Oakwood, I didn’t know what to expect. As I stood at the entrance before our tour, I felt grateful for a break from the late summer heat. Leftover raindrops hit the pavement while I waited for everyone else to show. I thought about how the sky, the shade of nearby gravestones, could use some color. Then Sue Greenhagen, our 72-year-old tour guide, drove up in her shiny red volkswagen.

We gathered here just to the south of Syracuse University’s campus to get the Oakwood walking tour experience from Greenhagen, who is an unequivocal expert on the historic cemetery. As a member of the Historic Oakwood Cemetery Society, she has “10 or 11 years” of tenure as a tour guide here. To get the lay of this land, she studies entire sections, or pieces of “real estate,” as she calls them, noting names and death dates. Then she looks up obituaries, searching for something that she can hold up as an emblem of a person’s existence when she points to their grave stone. “Everyone’s got a story,” she said. Apparently, dead men tell tales after all. We started our tour in the oldest part of the cemetery. There are about 60,000 burials here, Greenhagen told us, adding, “There are still plots available,” in an offhand and not at all ominous way, as if we college kids might be shopping for our final resting place. She suggested we head up a hill to “visit our first resident,” then took off without looking back. “Common gang!” she said bracingly, and we followed after her like Scooby-Doo and his band of amateur sleuths. Weaving through gravestones and straying off paths, Greenhagen pointed out an abolitionist, a body snatcher, a wizard of Wallstreet, a Civil War commander. The gravesites around here are grand; some have four columns and a roof. Close by there’s a huge Egyptian-style pyramid.

"You here for the tour?” she half-shouted, exiting her chariot of fire and striding towards me, her chin-length, pure-white hair tucked behind her ears. She donned a fleece pullover, blue khakis with a bit of dog or cat hair around the ankles, and dusty white New Balance sneakers. A Greenhagen marched on and told us about lanyard with the words, “Association of Public an unfortunate 19th-century spinster who was Historians of New York State,” swung from her still searching for a husband in her late thirties. neck. “She was getting a little desperate,” Greenhagen

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sighed. Then we were treated to the local legend of the Cardiff Giant Hoax, which farmers orchestrated in the 1860s by carving a 10-footgiant out of granite. Somehow, they convinced the country that it was once a real person. “There’s a lot of jokesters in Central New York. They’re a bunch of wise guys, these old farmers,” Greenhagen spit out, as if they’d pulled a prank on her personally, and she hasn’t quite gotten over it yet. “Everyone’s got a story,” she said, again. We passed over many small, weathered gravestones without hearing the stories behind them. Moss covers some. Others are fragmented. These markers are supposed to represent someone forever, but even stone isn’t permanent. Reunited with my group, we visit our last resident, and I climb into the trunk of our professor’s Subaru to hitch a ride out from the cemetery’s depths. Facing out the back window, I watch neglected graves pass by and feel like I’m leaving them in the past. I wonder who will remember all the people whizzing by as we move toward the entrance. We pull around a bend and pass Greenhagen, who walks slowly back to her car. She waves, and I wonder who will remember her. And me.


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Spiritualism was founded on a hoax, but its impact is all too real. By Jake Smith : Illustration by Sloane Sexton

Spiritualism, one of the most influential paranormal activities, were welcomed by the modern religious movements in history, started Quaker community in Rochester, who invited not with a whimper, but with a bang.Thirty-three people to witness the phenomena themselves. of them, to be exact. On a late March day nearly Wherever they went, they were able to manifest 170 years ago, sisters Maggie and Kate Fox a series of strange knocks from beyond the urged a neighbor to follow them home, begging grave. Skeptics failed to disprove the sisters, to show off something supernatural. Each night, and in just a few months they rocketed to fame, they said, a series of bizarre, intelligent knocks performing public séances in New York City and on their walls and furniture haunted them in the becoming respected mediums. A loose religion family’s shared bedroom. called Spiritualism began to coalesce around The neighbor joined the sisters, age 14 and the feats of the Fox sisters and a fascination 11, on a bed while their mother Margaret called with the occult out to the spirit, asking the entity to count to five. Of course, the entire act was a hoax. Maggie Five knocks rang out. Next, she commanded the revealed in a signed confession in 1888 that the presence to reveal their neighbor’s age. Thirty- sisters had faked the rapping simply by cracking three knocks followed. Margaret then asked the their toes. “I am now prepared to tell the truth,” spirit to rap three times if it was injured. The she said, calling their actions “an absolute room shook with three bangs. The Fox family falsehood from beginning to end.” Katie, too, soon abandoned their upstate NY home out of was consumed by guilt over the hoax, saying, fear and sent Maggie and Kate to live with their “I regard Spiritualism as one of the greatest older sister, Leah, in Rochester. Investigators curses that the world has ever known.” It was later found hair and bone fragments in the too late, though—the Spiritualist movement, family's house. which formed from the abilities of the Fox The Fox sisters, now joined by Leah in their sisters, was already too strong.

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Spiritualism took off in the 1850s, fueled by the success of the Fox sisters and a growing interest in the afterlife. Quakers, who had been some of the early witnesses to the Fox sisters, were among the first believers to adopt the nascent religion. Quakers were heavily involved in the reform movement of the era, so Spiritualism soon became tied to social issues through this association. Socialists, too, were drawn to Spiritualism because of its emphasis on free thought, free from the constraints of Christianity and other similar organized religions. Even more radically, women and lowerclass people were welcomed into its ranks, which only added to its growing popularity. Spiritualist camps suddenly sprang up across the United States, including outposts in Florida, Maine, Ohio, and Kansas. At the Ohio camps, the Associated Press noted a new device growing in popularity: a board with letters and numbers written on it and a planchette that would point to them. Ouija boards found their name when Helen Peters, the sister-in-law of the first Ouija board manufacturer, asked the board itself what it should be called. She received O-UI-J-A, which the board then explained meant “good luck.” Peters happened to be wearing a locket that said “Ouija” that day, but didn’t notice the coincidence. Spiritualism found a new following during World War I, when the families of soldiers sought

any news they could get about their loved ones. The conflict was notoriously deadly and information was often withheld or unavailable to people waiting for soldiers to come home, so mediums and séances became the de facto way to find solace. Séance members often reported receiving messages from the dead, and sometimes even saw apparitions. Between the world wars, the medium Helen Duncan became a celebrity among Spiritualists for her uncanny ability to make the dead appear to grieving family members. In rooms darkened by heavy curtains, Duncan gathered small groups of paying customers for the chance to speak to the dead. She would descend into a trance and emit ectoplasm from her mouth, which would give form to visiting spirits. One loyal customer, Vincent Woodcock, claimed that he’d seen his dead wife 19 times at Duncan’s sessions, and had even touched her. Like the Fox Sisters before her, Helen Duncan’s methods collapsed under scrutiny. Her ectoplasm was actually regurgitated cheesecloth and egg whites that she would swallow before séances. She would often include clipped photos from magazines in the mixture to make it appear that faces were emerging from inside the ooze. Instead of otherworldly visitors, her customers were being visited by dolls and stray pieces of cloth suspended on string. JERK JERK


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But despite her tricks, Duncan’s legacy is one of strangely beautiful inventiveness, and her methods provided a new kind of comfort to grieving families. She did get one thing right, though: she revealed the sinking of the HMS Barham during World War II. Intel about the sinking was kept tightly under wraps to prevent the public from losing faith in Britain, but during one of her séances, Duncan revealed that the boat had sunk and the men onboard had perished. She had no way of knowing, but her information was all correct. To this day no one knows how she found out. Duncan eventually wound up in court because of her high profile and increased scrutiny after her Barham reveal. In 1933, the medium was tried under the British Witchcraft Act of 1735 and sentenced to nine months in prison. She promised to never perform another séance, but was arrested in 1956 for doing just that. Duncan died soon after, and was said to have visited other mediums from beyond the grave to prove her innocence. In 1951, partially because of Duncan, Britain repealed its anti-witchcraft laws, which opened the door to a new wave of female-led Spiritualism. The book Witchcraft Today, which

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was published in 1954, became a touchstone for the re-emerging spiritual community. Gerald Brousseau Gardner, the author of the book, and writer Doreen Valiente soon established a practice of modern witchcraft, which became known as Wicca. The movement spread quickly and stressed female empowerment and connection with nature, and by the 1980s there were an estimated 50,000 Wiccans in the world. Witchcraft and Wicca are not synonymous, though. Witchcraft is an ancient practice while Wicca is a modern religion, founded around the same time as Scientology. It’s kind of like the difference between rectangles and squares—all Wiccans practice witchcraft, but not all witches are Wiccans. The Spiritualist movement never really went away; it just fractured into two paths. One sect remained religious, including Wiccans and modern-day Spiritualists. The Spiritualists are still based in Rochester, where the Plymouth Spiritualist Church, the mother church of the religion, continues to practice the occultist teachings of the Fox sisters. They’re still just as involved with social justice, too, supporting a platform that’s pro-choice, anti-capital punishment, and feminist.

Some modern-day witches and Spiritualists are turning their attention to today’s version of a powerful, malevolent spirit: Donald Trump’s government. Thousands of witches joined together last year to cast a binding spell on Trump himself, and even Lana Del Rey reportedly joined the effort. Just this October, the occultist Brooklyn bookstore Catland hosted a gathering to hex newly-appointed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Dakota Bracciale, the store’s co-owner, decided to put on the ritual as, “an act of solidarity that says, ‘you’re not alone with the monsters.’” “Rage can oftentimes be the only thing that keeps you warm at night,” says Bracciale, referencing the abuse that so many marginalized people endure. “This is [acting on] the spiritual level, and tomorrow we can march on Washington and vote in the midterms.” The most visible faction of Spiritualism after the 1950s, however, is purely commercial. What were once sacred practices are now commodities. Urban Outfitters sells bundles of sage, crystals, and tarot cards to fascinated customers. Sephora and the perfume brand Pinrose produced and quickly pulled a $42 “witch kit” earlier this year after backlash from

actual witches. On a quest to become more spiritually aware, we’re evidently willing to pay for access. Ouija boards are another example of this development, repackaged in the 1970s as a toy instead of a hallowed bridge to the other side. Years of kiddie occult rituals followed at countless sleepovers and Halloween parties, a far cry from their original use. Spirit boards, séances, and contact with the other side have also taken over the imaginations of a new vanguard of horror filmmakers, including the Ouija franchise, the entire Conjuring universe, and this summer’s family horror hit Hereditary. Though Spiritualism was based on a hoax and has fallen victim to commercialization, its social and political impact is hard to deny, even today. Like the audiences who were captivated by the Fox sisters all those years ago, we’re in another era of upheaval and uncertainty. If there really is a way to contact the dead, to escape this mortal coil despite all the evidence to the contrary, it feels like a pretty good time to try. Our reality is upsetting enough. Maybe it’s worth it to believe in the unbelievable. If it takes some superhuman toe cracking and regurgitated cheesecloth to get to that realization, so be it.


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Obsession with Possession This time of year, the paranormal feels more powerful than ever. There’s a chill in the air, the days are shorter, and it seems like the sky is always overcast—perfect weather for contacting the dead By The Jerks : Illustration by Alex Woolfolk

One of the most time-honored traditions for talking with the undead is the classic Ouija board. Despite the board’s colorful history as a hoax device turned tool of Satan turned sleepover staple, Ouija boards probably can’t put us in contact with the other side. (If you’ve used one, you know it was probably your dick friend Mike moving the planchette all along.) But that doesn’t invalidate its appeal. Most of us struggle to realize what we really want––real shocker there––but in believing you’re surrendering to the spirits, you may actually give your subconscious more control. So while you won’t actually be communicating with ghosts, you could be tapping into the depths of your mind and getting the answers you didn’t know you desire. Or maybe you just want to talk to some spirits, or freak your friends the fuck out. We won’t judge you on your pastimes. Using a Ouija board is almost too easy. Either surrounded by a group or sitting by yourself, place your hands lightly on the planchette— that's the little triangular device that comes with a spirit board kit. Rest it on top of board, which

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displays the words “yes” and “no” in the top corners, an alphabet in the center, the numbers one through zero below the alphabet, and the word “goodbye” at the bottom. The point is to beckon the paranormal entities you want to speak with, and if they deem you worthy, they’ll make your fingers slide the planchette around the board to spell out answers to the questions you ask. This goes on until they or you call it a day and say goodbye, and the spirits return to wherever spooky place they came from. It may all sound harmless, but there’s substantial belief that Ouija boards are treacherous occult gateways that invite demon possession, or worse. After all, what happens if it’s a non-friendly spirit that takes over the planchette?



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YES or NO? Depending on whom you ask, Ouija boards are either a blessing or a curse.

When it comes to Ouija boards, the spiritual community is split. One side sees Ouija boards as a powerful way of contacting the other side. Despite being notoriously hard to control, they can still be useful if used correctly. Julie Bradshaw, a professional psychic and energy healer based in Austin, Texas, believes that the key to safe contact is intention. “[Ouija] is just another form of divination, and the main thing you have to do with any form of divination is set your intention,” Bradshaw says. “When you set that intention, it takes away all the fear and the scary.” To make your intentions known, she recommends thinking about what you want the outcome to be: a positive, enlightening experience. Clear your mind and focus on projecting good energy around you, setting, as Bradshaw puts it, “the intention that nothing negative can contact you.” She says she’s been able to use Ouija boards to contact the spirits of her father and grandmother, which proves to her that the experience can be positive. Not everyone is convinced that the boards are beneficial, though. As we’ve seen in countless horror movies, Ouija can open up a door to anyone that might happen to pass by— including malevolent entities. Danielle Daoust, the owner of Ontario-based medium agency Global Psychics, completely avoids spirit boards because, she says, they have “a dirty energy associated with them.” “When you open a Ouija board, you don’t know what energy you’re going to get,” Daoust says. “[Entities] will pretend to be people you

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know, and they will pretend to have messages for you.” She still recommends getting in touch with the other side, but through other means. There’s more to try than simply moving a planchette. “There are other ways of making the connection that are much safer, including meditation,” she says. “Look around, find other ways to make that connection.” If Ouija boards really do work, they’re so much more powerful than they look, especially now that they’re sold as toys by Hasbro. Of course, there’s no definitive answer to the debate among mediums, psychics, and soothsayers. Unlike Ouija boards, we can’t spell it out.



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Ouija: Does it Work? Robert Murch is the world’s leading expert on all things Ouija. Here’s what the chairman and president of The Talking Board Historical Society had to say on the phenomenon. Jerk Magazine: Who invented the Ouija board? Robert Murch: There are two people that claimed to invent the board— Charles Kennard and E. C. Reiche, and they both worked right next to each other. Kennard is a fertilizer guy, and Reiche is kind of an all-around guy; he makes furniture, he’s an undertaker, coffin maker, he makes instruments. He does it all. In 1890, Kennard would take this idea [for a spirit board] that he and Reiche were playing with from Chestertown, Maryland to Baltimore, where he met Elijah Bond. Kennard went into business with Bond and started making these talking boards, but it didn’t have its name yet. [For more on how it got its name, see page 48.] JM: What’s the difference between Ouija and a talking board? RM: Ouija is a talking board. It’s the most popular talking board out there but it’s not the only one. They’re called all types of things— spirit boards, witch boards. Some of them have specific names like a Swami board. There’s hundreds, if not thousands of other talking boards, none of them have lasted as long as Ouija. It’s been continuously made since 1890, and no other talking board can claim that. JM: Why do you think they became popular? RM: Once they incorporate, the Ouija board hits an amazing time. All of a sudden, brands are starting to become popular and Ouija became this massive brand. In 1890, we’re coming off

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of a generation that experienced the civil war, everyone loss someone. A lot of these people left and never came back. So, they turned to things like talking boards and communication tools because they answered those questions when nothing else could. JM: Do you think Ouija boards will remain popular? RM: Yes, absolutely. It’s more popular today than it’s ever been. We just had those Ouija movies and I think that helps. It’s everywhere. It’s in books, movies, TV shows, music —it’s already everywhere. The crazy, wonderful part about Ouija boards is that they’ve already infiltrated every corner of pop culture. They also make Ouija apps. So, if you want to download them for our iPad or your android, they’re there. JM: Do you believe that they work? RM: They definitely work. To me, the question isn’t, ‘do Ouija boards work?’ The real question is, ‘can you talk to the dead?’ Ouija boards definitely work, I’ve played them tons of times and they work. But, how they work, that’s the beauty. I can’t tell you that your experience is wrong, so if you believe you’re talking to a ghost, how do I disprove that? I can’t. Unlike any other spirit communication tool ever created, we give the Ouija board power. There’s nothing mystical about letters or numbers, or cardboard or plastic. What makes it special and what gives it magic is us, we believe it does.

F E D C B S A R Whack Ouija Q P Encounters NO We asked JERK readers about their encounters with Ouija boards. Their experiences are scarier than a UU party.

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The Ouija board said my initials when I wasn’t even playing and I got spooked! I used to use a Ouija board often. I stopped using it after one experience with my good friend Aubrey. We were playing and we asked the ghost what age we would die. I went first and I got the age 97. I felt pretty happy about that. Aubrey went next and the board said 11 years old. We were both 16 at the time. I looked at Aubrey and felt a cold shudder. Aubrey freaked out. I freaked out. I stopped talking to Aubrey after that, and she transferred schools. I can't find her on Facebook. The Ouija board fucking worked! My mom swears she contacted an escaped slave when she used a Ouija board alone when she was a kid. She remembers that something horrifying happened after that, but she literally blocked out the memory. She never touched a board again and refuses to let me even try using one. Yikes! It was Halloween 2014, my first-ever time not going out trick-or-treating. I was in a friend’s basement with a small group and we, like idiots, decided to test out a Ouija board for the first time. There were five of us there, and everyone swore they weren’t controlling the planchette when it started moving. We asked if there were any spirits in the house, and at the exact same time the power went out. We got the fuck out of there. Turns out someone hit a telephone pole down the street, but it’s still the creepiest thing that’s ever happened to me. Besides Sig Ep afters.


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FRANK ENSTE IN By Rachel Simon : Illustration by Thomas Harris

This year marks two centuries since a 19-year-old Mary Shelley penned Frankenstein, a novel about a monster still read by millions today. Now in a world completely unlike the one Shelley inhabited, her story is still utterly badass and groundbreaking. Her life and work in 1818 were influenced by topics that are just as prevalent in 2018, if not more so. In the midst of the #MeToo movement, Shelley is a lesson in appealing to empowerment and overcoming gender oppression. Her literary success story is extremely relevant to what many modern-day working women face. As young girl in the 1800s, Shelley had little access to education outside of homeschooling and her father’s library. She eloped with a narcissistic poet who refused to support her writing since it was not his own. They faced severe strains to their relationship, yet Shelley remained fierce. Rather than suppress her intellect and desire for a career, she channeled her energy towards creating one of the greatest Romantic-era novels of all time. Shelley poured her life into the pages of Frankenstein. Several aspects of the story allegedly symbolize realities of her own life. Some say that her monster embodies her fears and anxieties about self-determination and independence from her husband, Percy. The mere fact that she was a successful, female writer is enough to earn our snaps, let alone do so while married to one of the most famous male authors at the time. In the early nineteenth

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century, women were rarely given credit for their work, often shadow writing for powerful men without protest, but not Shelley. When Percy read her first draft of Frankenstein, he described it as “wonderful work for a girl.” She went ahead and published it, essentially founding the entire genre of science fiction in the process. Damn straight. This bicentennial anniversary highlights Mary Shelly’s tremendous courage, intelligence, and ability to defy society's expectations while she was still younger than most of us. Join us in celebrating the trailblazing female who wrote, “Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.” Let’s get that shit tattooed.

BASIC-BITCH SHAMING By Chandler Plante : Illustration by Audra Linsner

The Deal: It’s no secret everyone feels like the shit in their Halloween costumes. Whether for our dazzling originality, execution, or dollars spent on bunny ears and Hugh Heffner robes, we take pride in what we choose to be on our one night of pretend. Yet we can’t help but notice that every sexy strut down Marshall Street is met with an eye roll, scoff, or snarky “take-a-shot-every-timeyou-see-a-cat” comment. Sure, we say it’s all in good fun, but are these *witty* judgements really as innocent as they seem? The Issue: Every now and then, it’s important to remind ourselves that disliking something popular doesn’t automatically make us more interesting. It just makes us look like assholes who genuinely believe the seven glittery aliens around the corner are coming for our neck and our most recent hookup. If you’re really about the look you’re serving, find your angle, snap a selfie, and don’t bother people who found their outfits on Pinterest. They’re probably busy serving galaxy realness anyway.

standards of dress came from, where the hypersexualization of women’s bodies originated, and where the fear of being considered a prude or a slut on Halloween started. So to every guy retweeting those annual “Halloween makes me wish all my future kids are boys” threads, remember you are the ones who set the social norms; however, it’s not just men who play into basic-bitch shaming. Sadly, women are often taught to view each other as competition, causing a spike in girl-on-girl crime during the Halloween season. At the end of the day, no matter who you are, if a woman’s confidence in her cat whiskers is the scariest thing you see on Halloween night, it’s time to reevaluate. Let the sexy nurses live, toss back another tequila shot, and chill the fuck out.

The Defense: Maybe we’ve got it all wrong. Maybe you are genuinely concerned about how cold that girl must be in her spandex shorts. Maybe you are truly disappointed that a group of shirtless firemen couldn’t conjure up anything more original. But maybe –– just maybe –– those “worries” come from a place of insecurity instead. The Bigger Issue: If you ask us, it’s time to do some self-reflection Most of judgements we hear passed out during and consider what we’re really saying when Halloweekend are, in one way or another, slutwe talk about costumes on Halloween night. shaming. And the shitty, “ugh how basic,” Because ultimately, our petty judgements are the cover-ups don’t fool anyone anymore. It’s only true horrors around. also important to remember where these



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CLOSURE Active since: 2018 Sounds Like: American Football, A Picture of Her What they jerk to: Empire! Empire!, Algernon Cadwallader

By Kate Kozuch : Photography courtesy of Closure

On October 13th, 2018, Syracuse’s Spark Art Space delivered an evening comprised solely of the infectious, angsty jams that made high school bearable for so many millennials. Making “sad as fuck” fun as hell, Emo Night, a cult-like, nationwide obsession, brings together hordes of like-minded, checkered-vanwearing moshers to scream along to songs by the bands they grew up with. Jerk caught up with CNY’s Emo Night headliner, Closure, to talk starting a local band, finding original sound, and contributing to a historic night for the upstate New York rock music scene. Jerk Magazine: Why start a band? Closure: Noah and Collins met at a show, and knew each other liked making emo music. Noah sent Collins a riff one day, and we got together with Jake and just jammed until a couple songs were written. We recorded a limited collection of songs, and planned to stop there, make it an art piece. But we had so much fun we just decided to keep it going.

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JM: How would you describe your sound? C: It’s like this unique blend of math-rock and Midwest revival. When it comes to guitar, Collins plays in open-tuning and Noah plays standard, so the combo gives it distinct sound. We’re also mostly self-taught, so we don’t mind breaking the rules to get the vibe we want. We don’t write songs with music theory in mind, it’s what we’re feeling at the time and what we piece together. JM: Why Emo Night? C: It’s a really cool idea, we love that venues are trying to bring emo to Syracuse. It’s also an opportunity to get out and see local acts you wouldn’t normally see cover bands you know and enjoy. You go to emo night and you hear your favorite American Football song played by a local band. It’s the best of both worlds. You listen to music you know from a band you don’t – yet.

See more of Closure's interview and listen to their music at

Modern Horror Renaissance Ushering in a new era of horror. By Audrey Lee Long gone are the fake blood baths and predictable chase sequences, so central to the cheesy mid-90s/2000s horror films you definitely watched without your parents’ permission. Instead, lets us introduce you to the new wave of high-quality, intellectual horror. Thanks to the successes of movies like Jordan Peele’s box office hit, Get Out and John Krasinksi’s unlikely thriller, A Quiet Place, horror is experiencing a resurgence that’s keeping us at the edge of our seats. Over the past few years, the genre has evolved from the mindless entertainment you watched in the background of a make-out session to critically-acclaimed and artistically thoughtful cinema. By employing high production quality and provoking important social conversations, horror is bringing new life to the film industry by revamping recycled plots with innovative twists and surprises. The results are killer story structures featuring razor sharp introspection and powerful commentary about the world around us. Here are some of the scary good horror movies that give us goosebumps. It Follows Inspired by a nightmare director David Robert Mitchell experienced, It Follows was highly praised as one of the best horror films in years after its debut at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. Through the innovative story of a slowmoving entity that follows a teenage girl after her first sexual encounter, It Follows keeps audiences perpetually uneasy and dying to see what happens next. Combining breath-taking cinematography, intriguing set designs and an A+ soundtrack, the film will leave you wanting more even after the final scene. Hereditary Hereditary had us all feeling squeamish this summer, and that’s all thanks to the devil in the bone-chilling details. From the way-too realistic dioramas to prosthetics that can shock even the most seasoned horror fans, first-time director Ari Aster’s vision is unlike anything you’ve seen before. Inspired turns by Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, and Ann Dowd are the icing on top of this beautiful, deeply disturbing horror confection. Hereditary will stay with you long after the credits have ended. Good luck thinking about anything else.

A Quiet Place If anyone thought John Krasinski was nothing more than “Jim from the Office,” A Quiet Place quickly silenced any misgivings. The director and leading man of the 2018 thriller pleasantly surprised audiences with this fresh take on a family living in a post-apocalyptic dysphoria. Using stripped-down sound design to provoke discomfort, audiences are made acutely aware of their own surroundings to mirror what the on-screen characters’ experience throughout the film in an invigorating yet chilling manner. Get Out Yes, Get Out has been raved about too many times to count, and yes, you’re going to hear us talk about how great it is again, but that’s because it’s so effing phenomenal. Oscarwinner Jordan Peele uses his directorial debut to thrust a mirror in the viewer’s face with this commentary about racial tension and police brutality in America. With an Oscar-nominated performance by Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out is a masterpiece that will ensure you’re even more nervous to meet your significant other’s parents for the first time.



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APARNA NANCHERLA Comedian Aparna Nancherla should need no introduction. We sat down with her to talk introversion, Twitter, and comedy’s white male problem.

By Jake Smith : Photography courtesy of Aparna Nancherla Jerk Magazine: How does your material evolve when you’re touring? Aparna Nancherla: I have a pretty informal process. It’s a lot of jotting down ideas when they first occur to me, then maybe sketching out a rough outline, and then talking it out on stage with whatever structure I have, kind of finding what works and what doesn’t. From there, it’s workshopping until it takes a form. It is a very hit or miss process. Sometimes you try a thing and it works for a while and then it stops working, so you just shelve it or you scrap it. JM: Your comedy often focuses on your social anxiety. How do you manage your introversion with such a public career? AN: The fun thing about standup is that you’re talking to a lot of people, but it’s in a pretty controlled way. It’s like a one-way conversation. For an introvert, it's nice because you have a little more control, unlike a party or a networking event. Then, when it’s done, you can run to your home and go get in bed and read your book. It’s a nice balance of being able to use the medium to express my ideas and thoughts to the world, but then not having to constantly be outgoing. I can dial back once I’m offstage.

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JM: As a woman of south-Asian descent, what challenges have you faced in an industry that’s overwhelmingly white and male? AN: When I started standup, it was after people like Aziz [Ansari] and Mindy Kaling were breaking, so I do feel like they opened some doors for me. There wasn’t as much expectation that you’re a south-Asian comedian, so you should talk about being south-Asian. The old gatekeepers still exist—there’s still a diversity problem in Hollywood and representation onscreen is a work-in-progress, but I do think it’s changing for the better, and I do think I’ve been lucky in being part of that wave. JM: Twitter has started to turn comedians into political commentators. What is it like to inhabit that role? AN: Social media can be deceptive. It can sometimes feel like an echo chamber in that you’re being political but you’re mostly talking to people who already agree with you. Or if you’re getting trolls, it’s like the most extreme hatred or vitriol. I try to use my platform as much as I can for positive change and to be on the right side of history, and in whatever small way try to put some action behind that.

KANYE WEST Cause of Death: His MAGA hat.

By Brianna Ward : Illustration by Sarah Allam

Kanye West used to be the black community’s champion. He never hesitated to speak his mind and embodied the unapologetically black spirit. When the federal government left thousands of African Americans for dead in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, Kanye famously declared, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” In his pre-Yeezus years, West positioned himself as a black artist discussing the realities of blackness and rapping through controversy. But that Kanye West is dead. What we have now is a doppelgänger, publicly sporting MAGA hats and deeming slavery a choice. Whether he realizes it or not, Kanye’s actions have made him a puppet of white supremacy. Although Kanye has no grounded knowledge about politics or reform, he met with President Trump in early October to discuss the prison system. Instead of having a serious conversation about a critical issue for black people and marginalized groups, he went on a tangent that felt as though it would never end. The meeting ended up being a circus of mainly white people watching a black man tarnishing his own history, suggesting that the 13th Amendment be abolished because of a clause that allows for slavery through the prison system, clearly forgetting the small part that allows him to walk around freely. We learned from this bizarre rendezvous why Kayne’s celebrity bromance with Donald Trump works: a shared belief that they’re both geniuses.

It’s difficult to determine which is more heartbreaking — that Kanye betrayed his own race, or that he allowed white supremacists to manipulate him. If prison reform concerned the Trump administration, they would have invited someone well-versed in the issue. Summoning Kanye instead drew attention away from a matter that overwhelmingly harms people of color. Afterwards, no one said anything about the prison-industrial complex or the fact that certain groups are more likely to be convicted than others. Kayne sounded like a rambling, uninformed talking head who had forgotten his socially-aware past. He walked his Yeezys right into Trump’s inner sanctum. Between his MAGA hat, white supremacist rhetoric, and endorsement from the NRA, the new Kayne sides with the oppression of his own people. We knew he was lost when he pledged fidelity to Trump on Saturday Night Live in September; his White House appearance was simply the last nail in his coffin. Black people have always bonded through the horrors of white supremacy and oppression, banding together to advance civil rights, end Jim Crow, and fight for equal treatment, but Kanye’s actions have broken his bond with the rest of the black community. Like Clarence Thomas, Stacey Dash, Ben Carson before him, Kanye, who was once a black hero, has effectively killed his blackness. We miss the old Kanye.



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Photos by

We love talking about ourselves, and our beautiful new logo is definitely fueling our narcissistic tendencies. "We ended up creating something that could have been a 70’s pop culture reference with Jerk-ish character, but cleaner. It basically ended up looking like a mix between Star Wars, NASCAR, and a band tee, and we love it," says one of our creative directors Jacob Marcus. Cheers to the future and we hope everyone’s looking forward to more of the Jerk-y content you (hate to) love. Vintage merch, anyone? 64 12.17 10.18 •• JERK JERK 64


How to Dress Like a DJ's Bouncer Knit Beanie: How else am I supposed to hide my bald spot?

Tattoo Graphic Tee: To quote Chrissy Teigan, the deeper the V, the closer to God

Backwards Shades: Sorry, can't see you trying to get my attention from the back of the line.

Phone ID Scanner: I hold the quality of your night in my hands, muahaha. Second form?

Fake ID: This looks nothing like you, it'll be $20.

Photocreds: Ally Walsh




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