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vol. 9, no. 1

pop culture, politics, college, etc.



Free Runners Run Free A profile of Ithaca’s thriving parkour scene

Fundamentalism au Lait Maté Factor and the Christianity with your caffeine

Smoke Shops of the Ithaca Commons A photo essay full of pipes and bubblers!

Red[hemp]tion! The controversies surrounding America’s former wonder plant Also in this issue: -foreign fakebooks -rise of the fashion blogger -a meat-lover investigates vegan baking -vajazzling -sexy history of corn flakes - Angry Mom Records -Second Coming (fiction)


fall 2010

letter from the editors


aith is a funny thing. As our lives become increasingly turbulent, with the American economy in tatters and Real Life breathing down our necks, it’s no surprise that we often turn to outside influences for comfort. Not everyone finds solace in traditional religions, however—sometimes, we find that the most unusual elements in our lives turn into the most necessary. In this issue of kitsch, we go from the gritty corners of the Interwebs to our own backyards to investigate that which brings us consolation, entertainment, or simply distraction from the overwhelming mess of prelims, relations, and sick goldfish. For some people, the Internet has become a crutch. As Alexsey Boytsov writes about foreign countries’ hackneyed attempts at the world’s most popular social networking site (“How the Other Half Facebooks,” p. 56), Jenna Greenbaum explores the recent upsurge in Internet celebrities, specifically those who create virtual altars to their own personal gods—themselves (“Fashion Blogging,” p. 62). Meanwhile, Annie Tsao questions her own obsession with the Internet’s favorite demi-goddess, Ms. Zooey Deschanel herself (p. 12). Other people respond to the hectic twists in life by returning to their roots. On p. 25, Michelle Spektor discusses the merits of using the ever-controversial Cannabis sativa for purposes more practical than debating the merits of Cheetohs vs. Doritos. For those of us who prefer the more traditional use of the aforementioned herb, however, we bring you a photo-essay documenting the ethereal beauty of Ithaca Commons smoke shops. In the meantime, Norah Sweeney gets her inner traceuse on in “Ithaca Parkour” (p. 22). Demonstrating his culinary bravery, James Fairbrother joins the ranks of the vegans for a weekend in a quest for a true dairyfree cupcake (“Who Put Soy in My Cookies?”, p. 17). Finally, Dr. Peter Kuniholm shows us that even professors can feel the need to get back to nature in “Lord of the Tree-Rings” (p. 32). Finally, this issue also questions the occasional prices that those seeking religion must pay. Whether it’s subsisting entirely on a diet of bland breakfast cereal (“Choking the Chicken,” p. 9), never interacting with those of the opposite sex (“Pope-apalooza”, p. 50), or accepting without question every word in the Good Book (“Fundamentalism au Lait,” p. 20), sometimes we must wonder whether the sacrifice is worth the salvation. Personally speaking, we eds-in-chief regard ourselves as firm devotees of the god of Kitsch. Sometimes, late at night, it’s easy to think that within the pages of this pithy little publication, one can find true enlightenment. Or maybe that’s just the caffeine talking. Either way, we’ve enjoyed the hell out of idolizing this issue, and we hope you do too.

Lots of love,


table of contents

2— Letter from the editors 3- Table of contents 4- Masthead 5- Editors’ page 6- Editor Trading Cards 7- Thank you page

BITE SIZE 8- Heard on the Plaza 9- Sexy History of Corn Flakes 10- PostSecret 12- Zooey Deschanel: Twee or False? 13- Podcast Reviews 14- Office Space

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Y OETR P D N A akfast ION FICT ty Call Bre oo 66- B ving Man o g 67- M ond Comin ec 68- S ce Homo c 70- E e rain h 72- T pose / pest 73- re poral Tem g em 73- T nday Mornin u 74- S mo page ro 75- P 3

kitsch magazine

fall 2010

kitsch magazine

an independent student publication

editorial board editors-in-chief Helen Havlak Kathleen Jercich

managing editor Kate Shurtleff

Ithaca College editor

Norah Sweeney

zooming in

art editor

Michelle Spektor

Meaghan McSorley

zooming out

layout editor

James Fairbrother

Catherine Schrage

copy editor

watch and listen Laura Van Winkle

Alex Newman

fiction editor


bite size

new media

Adam Miller

Jen Yang

Michelle Rada


Karina Parikh


Kristen Askin, Josh Barrom, Aleksey Boytsov, Natasha Bunzl, Carrie-Lynne Davis, Subashiny Gengatharan, Leeza Goldenberg, Jenna Greenbaum, Nicole Hakimi, Harisen Kardon, Jen Keefe, Kimberly Kerr, Julio Koch, Ryan Larkin, Sandra Lee, Rebecca Lucash, Laura Phillips, Jillian Scott, Renee Tornatore, Annie Tsao, Josh Turk


Jiggy Athilingam, Courtney Beglin, Zac Blitz, Katy Braun, Natasha Bunzl, Andrew Ebanks, LaiYee Ho, Jen Keefe, Ryan Larkin, Olivia Lerner, Charles Wang

layout artists

Jiggy Athilingam, Natasha Bunzl, Allison Fischler, LaiYee Ho, Jee Lee, Sandra Lee, Chris Moe, Charles Wang, Jenny Zhao


Natanya Auerbach, Kristen Askin, Subashiny Gengatharan, Sandra Lee, Katie Tregurtha

advisors Michael Koch English, Cornell University

4 4

Catherine Taylor Writing, Ithaca College

Kitsch Magazine, an independent student organization located at Cornell University, produced and is responsible for the content of this publication. This publication was not reviewed or approved by, nor does it necessarily express or reflect the policies or opinions of, Cornell University or its designated representatives.

editors k i t s c h

ship’s crew (foreground to background): Laura Van Winkle Jen Yang Helen Havlak Kate Shurtleff James Fairbrother Michelle Rada Adam Miller Michelle Spektor Karina Parikh Alex Newman Cat Schrage Norah Sweeney Kathleen Jercich Meaghan McSorley



6 6 Laura Katherine Van Winkle

Kathleen Ann Jercich

Kathleen (“Kate”) Morgan Shurtleff Position: Managing Editor Height: 5’3” Eyes: Brown At-a-glance: Breasts, Anger Weakness: Glenfiddich Single Malt Whisky Natural Habitat: Dunbars Style: Prep Astrological Sign: Aries Super-power: Hickey immunity

Michelle Justine Spektor

Position: Zooming In Editor Height: 5’4” Eyes: Amber At-a-glance: Resembles bush baby Weakness: Jewish holidays Natural Habitat: Risley Style: Low-key Boho Astrological Sign: Scorpio Super-power: Pole dancing

Editor Height: 5’6” Eyes: Brown At-a-glance: Lady greaser Weakness: Pokéwalker Natural Habitat: Comic store Style: Nerdcore Astrological Sign: Cancer Super-power: Transformer

Position: Watch & Listen

Position: Bite Size Editor Height: 5’4” Eyes: Brown At-a-glance: Cooler than you Weakness: James Joyce Natural Habitat: Fan Club show Style: Vintage chic Astrological Sign: Gemini Super-power: Headbands

Position: Editor in Chief Height: 5’8” Eyes: Hazel At-a-glance: Cardigans Weakness: ee cummings Natural Habitat: Temple of Zeus Style: Sexy librarian Astrological Sign: Aquarius Super-power: Cupcakes

Position: Editor in Chief Height: 5’7” Eyes: Blue/green At-a-glance: Jazz hands Weakness: Terriers, The gays Natural Habitat: Libe Café Style: Dirty scene kid Astrological Sign: Leo Super-power: Veganism

Michelle Rada

Helen Woodward Havlak


Have you ever stared at the Kitsch editors’ page and wondered why they have six pictures of the same girl in different outfits? Have you tried to write a fan letter to your favorite Kitschie, only to wallow in despair and confusion when the wrong Michelle shows up to your CTB date? Never fear, darlings! Kitsch Magazine has helpfully provided a handy field guide to differentiating between the ubiquitous short-haired brunettes on our editorial board. Cut them out, keep them in your wallet, trade with your friends, and collect them all!

Thank you, oh holy sanctuary Pale Fire Lounge! Thank you, Michael Koch and Catherine Taylor! Thank you, Center for Inequality Studies! Thank you, Ithaca College Student Government Association!

Thank you! Thank you, Kitsch’s fairy godmother Allison Fischler!

Thank you, SAFC!

Thank you, D. Evan Mulvihill, Robert Ochshorn, Peter Fritch, and Rachel Ensign!

Thank you, Jesus! photo by LAURA VAN WINKLE 77


On the Plaza

art and layout by HELEN HAVLAK

If you could found a cult, what would it worshop? Lesbians.


The Almighty Denise Cassaro. - Douglas Kim ‘13

Adam Lambert.

- Ryan Caira ‘11

- Kate C. ‘11

Chocolate. All Chocolate.

- Ashima Muttreja ‘12

BEER. - Michelle Wien ‘11

Craigslist Missed Connections.

Colorful socks. Or macchiatos.

- Chase Meyer ‘13

- Kevin Boyd ‘11

Sarah Palin, naked with black makeup. - John Peters ‘11

Me. - Bridget Lopatinsky ‘12

Jersey knit sheets.

The Force, J. R. R. Tolkien, or platypuses. - Christine Wilkinson ‘11

Your body. - Taylor Goetzinger ‘12


- Erica Crump ‘11

- Sarah Hudson ‘14

Sexy Trends

from Ithaca’s Adult Outlet

come from all walks of life: young ones, old ones, first-time buyers, veteran buyers, people buying for 1 Buyers partners or friends... everyone. 2 Overall, DVDs and solo sex toys are the winners, though lingerie sales are gaining fast. 3 The basic, $13.95 - $20 vibrator is a steady seller, followed by items for anal play. 4 Handcuff sales and couple-minded DVDs and sex toys peak at Christmas and Valentine’s Day. 5 Video sales increase during the winter, when people are stuck indoors. and scavenger hunt sales increase at the beginning of each semester, when fraternities and sorori6 Novelty ties hold their initiations. Around tax rebate season, people will spring for more expensive, higher-quality products to treat them-

7 selves. 8 When the Haunt hosts one of its frequent kink balls, bondage sales spike. 9 Bachelorette parties drive novelty sales up during the summer. 10 Lingerie is equally popular with men and women. 11 The Internet has not significantly impacted video sales; the Blue-Ray and VHS sections are both in demand. 12 Sex pills are equally big sellers with young and older men. Information courtesy of Jordan, Store Manager, and Jason, Assistant Manager. The Adult Outlet is located at 103 West State Street, Ithaca NY.


Choking the Chicken I

How one man’s quest to stop sexual deviance changed the breakfast habits of a nation. KATHLEEN JERCICH

t’s a problem every hot-blooded teenager has confronted. After enjoying a hearty, protein-filled breakfast, you tromp your way to class, bright-eyed and ready to start your day of academic excellence. But as soon as you slide into your lecture seat, quivering with excitement, the Pi Phi in front of you idly stretches a smooth hand under her sleeve to adjust her bra strap. BOOM! There’s suddenly more than a protractor in your pocket, and you’re left scrambling for a spare notebook for some emergency coverage. “Gosh darn it!” you think frantically, hoping the engineer squished into the seat next to you isn’t looking too closely at your crotchular region. “If only I weren’t so filled to the brim with hormones! It’s all your fault, Denny’s Grand Slam Breakfast!” Luckily for you, the solution to surprise boners is already available on the market. Don’t worry: unlike those shoddy older models, this method requires almost nothing you’d find in your pop’s toolbox. In fact, you can find it next time you and your chums make a 9 p.m. Wegmans run—right there in the cereal aisle. According to the late-19th century Seventh-Day Adventists of Battle Creek, Michigan, all those inconvenient hard-ons could be attributed to one, simple thing: the stuff in your belly. For all you vagrants guzzling Tabasco sauce and vodka Red Bulls, it should come as no surprise that your body has become a hot, tight bowstring tensed to fire off a round of baby-makers. As firm advocates of sexual purity in the name of Christ, the Seventh-Day Adventists advised their followers to adhere to a very basic diet: no caffeine, no spicy foods, and certainly no alcohol. In fact, they continued, the closer a person stuck to a strict vegetarian diet, the less likely he or she was to run about trying to stick genitaljunk in inconvenient receptacles. Milk and meat caused lust, they decided, and the easiest way to prevent the effect was to cut out the cause. As the movement grew, the Adventists began to preach their message to those outside the church, including men, women, and children of all faiths. In 1855, the Reverend Sylvester Graham published his recipe for Graham bread in The New Hydropathic Cookbook, encouraging the consumption of coarse wheat


bread as opposed to the refined white crap that still riddles our shelves today. In response to riots by butchers and commercial bakers, Graham retreated into hiding, but not before inventing the same cracker that has become an integral ingredient in many a campfire foreplay session. Even after Graham died at fifty-seven, however, his followers still soldiered on. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, chief medical officer of the Battle Creek Sanitarium, also believed that a strict diet was the key to solving most mental and physical issues. Since so many of these issues were caused by sexual deviance, particularly masturbation, he theorized that the perfect meal for his patients would be as bland as humanly possible. Along with developing yogurt enemas (because apparently, dairy is only beneficial to the perverts at one end), Kellogg and his brother devoted their attentions to creating a menu which was both nutritious and totally boring. After some nighttime kitchen shenanigans involving cooked wheat that was left out too long and some last-minute rolling techniques, voila! The corn flake was born. The belief that masturbation can cause anything from epilepsy to cancer of the womb has largely faded from the mentality of the general public, but Kellogg’s cereals still remain staunch defenders against the plague of “solitary-vice” still sweeping the nation. So next time you have to work on a project with the chisel-cheeked lad in your genetics lab, remain strong. Take a quick trip to your local supermarket, grab a box of corn flakes or graham crackers, and go to town. Just like the cock on the box, who crows without any nod whatsoever to irony, you too can sing proudly out for breakfast-time abstinence.




10 10 2 kitsch magazine


inspired by Frank Warren’s Postsecret project 1111


Zooey Deschanel: I

Twee Or False?

’m almost reluctant to write about Zooey. After all, given her “it girl” status, there are already pages and pages of print space devoted to her. Even so, her bevy of devotees do have a point. Exhibit A:

Isn’t she fucking adorable, all big blue eyes and bangs? That’s why I don’t trust her. How can anybody that delightful and winsome exist? M. Ward’s poor wife must be wrought with paranoia whenever he’s ensconced in a cramped studio with lithesome Zooey, the two lovers—I mean musicians—caught up in a magical She & Him recording session. (I feel similarly suspicious of Penélope Cruz and Pedro Almodóvar’s working relationship.) I really wish I knew someone who had lived in Zooey’s freshman dorm at Northwestern, so they could regale me with tales about how she was a ho-bag or a belligerent drunk. Can you imagine Le Deschanel gaining the Freshman 15? Gorging herself on pizza? How laughable. These are human-level activities that do not appeal to ethereal beings. Plus, if you saw her guest-star as a judge on Top Chef Masters, you are already aware that she’s a gluten-free vegan who’s allergic to soy. Poor, long-suffering Zooey sighed, “It’s so rare that I get to eat anything other than raw vegetables.” At any rate, I demand a bulleted list of her flaws. Just try to name one gross thing about her. I once saw her appear on Letterman, pretty early in her career. She seemed nervous and frazzled, so I guess we could say she’s uneasy with interviews. However, even this supposed limitation could be deemed endearing, particularly as the scenario resulted in her babbling away and eliciting audience laughter. Well, at least one grim flaw is certain: she lies about her faithfulness to the ukulele. While searching for the chords to She & Him’s “Sentimental Heart” on, I found some minor Zooey-bashing from the

12 12


ukulele-meister in charge of the website. Though she appears to champion the instrument in public (“I urge all my fans, friends, family, anyone who’ll listen, to play the ukulele. It’s a brilliant instrument.”), it turns out that her CD, Volume One, featured zero ukulele usage. Whatever, the album is like crack to me anyway. In fact, 7 of my Top 25 Most Played Songs on iTunes belong to her, embarrassingly enough. I’m no music snob, but it just doesn’t look good when one of your most listened-to artists is a mainstream actress. In my defense: 1) At least it’s not Scarlett Johansson, and 2) The high play count could be attributed to how short her songs are. Hence, when I put a Zooey song on repeat, it plays way more times than a normal-length song would—okay?! Either way, I have listened to “I Thought I Saw Your Face Today” 429 times. I can only hope that blockbuster biographer Kitty Kelley will write a shocking Zooey Deschanel tell-all someday, à la Oprah Winfrey’s unauthorized biography, in which Kitty reveals that Oprah gave birth at age 14. Basically, I need that book in my impatient little hands right now; I have this theory that Zooey is not the sweet girl we think she is. Rather, Zooey is a marketing mastermind who built her persona in a crafty, Karl Rove-esque operation. Growing up as the daughter of a director-dad and an actress-mom, she realized early on that there was a lucrative niche to be filled in the movie industry. She thought to herself, “Diane Keaton was kinda that quirky California girl in the 70s, and everyone was into that. Now, there’s all these dime-a-dozen actresses. Sure, they’re glamorous, but they aren’t especially idiosyncratic. The ones that are offbeat are actually crazy, like Winona—or they aren’t cute enough, like Joan Cusack.” At that point, she paused and continued with heightened excitement: “People crave a wholesome talent who maybe also sings in a band, wears retro-chic vintage dresses, and specializes in alterna-characters.” Fortunately for Zooey, her parents had already christened her a properly indie name at birth. Having deduced this much, she carefully constructed her pseudo-identity, such that she even deluded the lead singer of an indie rock band into marrying her. Yet, underneath it all, she prefers listening to Dave Matthews Band and enjoys shopping at Banana Republic. She’s so manipulative, that wench! My theory does concede that she possesses musical talent, even though her lyrics sometimes sound as if they were written by a 5-year-old (“You’re the nicest, nicest boy I’ve ever met / And then I think about you / Then I think about you again”).

Podcast Reviews


It’s hard to be a student in Ithaca. What with the wonky TCAT schedule and intermittent bouts of hail, it’s often a trial to even make it to class some mornings. When your Lady Gaga playlist just ain’t cuttin’ it for the walk up Buffalo Street, turn to podcasts, the creative offspring of geeks everywhere—whether your tastes run to the newsy or the nerdy, Kitsch has got you covered. To Heighten Your Sense of Righteous Rage: “This American Life” Ira Glass’s brainchild has been on the radio for fifteen years now, and for good reason. Each hourly show centers loosely on a particular theme, subsequently exploring it in several “acts,” usually in the form of non-fiction reported pieces. But don’t mistake this for the eleven-o’clock news: the stories are brought from all walks of society, from exposés of the snootiest upper crusters to heartbreaking interviews with homeless academics. Don’t Miss: “Somewhere Out There,” “20 Acts in 60 Minutes,” “First Contact” To Cry in Public Places: “The Moth” Although “The Moth” began in 1997 as a monthly showcase for New York storytellers of all sorts (including celebrities, pickpockets, and firemen), it’s recently been made available in podcast form. As droll host Dan Kennedy says at the top of every ten- to fifteen-minute episode, “’The Moth’ features true stories told live without notes.” Whether hilarious, gut-wrenching, or tragic, “The Moth” is always compelling. Don’t Miss: “Steve Burns: Famishness,” “Wanda Bullard: Small Town Prisoner,” “Michaela Murphy: The All-Star Game” To Make You a Hit at Trivia: “Radiolab” Ever wondered why exactly most cats survive falling out of windows—but only those higher than nine stories? What about the evolutionary justification for our generation’s love of Ke$ha? Jad Abumrad and Robert Krullwich, the dream team out of WNYC, seek to answer these questions—and oh so many more—in their hour-long radio show-cum-podcast. Think of it as Mythbusters on crack. Believe me, after listening to a few episodes, you’ll never be a dull conversation partner at parties. Don’t Miss: “Parasites,” “Falling,” “Stochasticity,” “Oops,” “Sperm” To Feel Way More Secure About Your Sex Life: “Savage Lovecast” The world’s only internationally syndicated sex advice columnist, Dan Savage brings his acerbic wit and wise point of view to a weekly podcast covering everything from the politics of polyamory to the possible merits of armpit sex. Got a question yourself? Go ahead and call it in—but just make sure you prepare yourself for a healthy helping of snark. Don’t Miss: “Episode 84,” “Episode 171,” “Episode 208” To Help You Fit in with Your Econ Major Housemates: “Planet Money” As an English major with the barest grasp on how checking accounts work, I have the utmost sympathy for those who have never in their lives understood the concept of a “CDO.” Planet Money to the rescue! Now you can actually comprehend the financial crisis beyond the simple reality of “I’m unemployable anywhere but Starbucks.” (As an added bonus, it has surprisingly hip music for an economics podcast.) Don’t Miss: “Stealing Our Way To a T-Shirt,” “Mangoes, Poverty, and Plastic Crates,” “We’re Number Two!” To Actually Feel Informed About Current Events: “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!” National Public Radio’s weekly news quiz mixes hilarity with relevance as contestants call in to participate in games such as “Who’s Carl [Kassell] This Time,” “Bluff the Listener,” and “Complete the News Limerick.” Meanwhile, panelists like Roxanne Roberts and Mo Rocca exhibit their own knowledge (or lack thereof ) in fill-in-the-blanks about the week’s news—the wackier, the better. Plus, every episode includes a special celebrity guest! Don’t Miss: “4/5/10 (ZZ Top),” “11/4/10 (Meghan McCain),” “8/28/10 (Sir Mix-A-Lot)”



Office Space: Laura Weiss of the Cornell Women’s Resource Center By Kathleen Jercich

Q: So tell us what you do. A: I’m the director of the Women’s Resource Center at Cornell. I oversee the center itself, interact with students, advise the advisory board, and help to determine the programming and funding for events that the WRC brings to campus each year.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about this office? A: I think it’s a really welcoming space—it’s fun, and it’s eye-catching, and people come in and find things that intrigue them…but one of my personal favorite things is the array of vagina stylings lying around. We have the giant fluffy vagina from the Monologues a few years ago, pictures of people from the vagina carnival a couple years ago...we sort of have a Georgia O’Keefe thing happening here.

Q: Yeah, it’s like high art. A: I may have been tempted to take some home in the past, I won’t lie, but on the whole I like to keep my office and home just a little bit separate.

Q: Do you ever get sick of the number of students who camp out here? A: No, I don’t! That is totally my favorite part of the job, student interaction. In the winter, when you’re not here, I totally go into lonely hermit mode.

14 14

photos and layout by HELEN HAVLAK

Q: What is your opinion on the…ahem…“adult toys” available in the WRC for students’ perusal? A: I mean, I’m not saying they’re the highest quality [dildos] on the market. I’m sure that there are better ones out there.

Q: Do you ever get smug that your friends don’t have jobs where they get to come in and talk about feminism all day? A: I wouldn’t say I feel smug, exactly, but I definitely am super gleeful about my job. This isn’t data entry, you know, it’s not coming to work nine-to-five and then leaving it all behind.

Q: It’s a little-known fact that the WRC has the best candy bowl on campus. How do you resist just stuffing your face all day? A: Sheer willpower. There’s a reason it’s not within my immediate reach.


zooming in

Burlesque Poetry Night On November 11, 2010, pants dropped and bodices ripped as students stripped down for Kitsch Magazine’s first Burlesque Poetry Night at Level B in Collegetown. Audience members were enlightened by great authors while being entertained by readers in lingerie. The hilarious highlights included a duet performed by the editors-in-chief and a dramatic reading of the song “Friend Like Me” from the film Aladdin, featuring a volunteer audience member and a strap-on. The night was a huge success, with the proceeds donated to the Southern Fingerlakes affiliate of Planned Parenthood. Get ready for part deux...

photos and layout by JAMES FAIRBROTHER


y o s t u p o h W n my “W i ? s e i cook Exploring the art of vegan baking


hat is that?” I say, while scrunching up my nose. “Seitan. It’s a meat substitute. It’s actually pretty good,” says the random vegan I happen to be talking to at that particular moment. “Yeah, okay, whatever you say.” By now, the majority of Americans have been exposed in some way to the vegan lifestyle, a follower of which is defined by as “someone who, for various reasons, chooses to avoid using or consuming animal products… [including] dairy and eggs, as well as fur, leather, wool, down, and cosmetics or chemical products tested on animals.” This also means that most people have heard the stereotypes associated with veganism: granola-crunching, Birkenstock-wearing hippie, crazy PETA activist, and bad food with no taste and odd textures. Some may wonder how food made with no animal products could possibly taste good, aside from the sautéed asparagus sitting next to that massive porterhouse. Some of the more extreme vegans, such as Alicia Silverstone, even go so far as to eliminate honey from their diets. But really, aside from her book, The Kind Diet, who remembers her for anything except Clueless?

photos by NATASHA BUNZL courtesy of MACRO MAMA layout by James Fairbrother


zooming in I never put much thought into veganism as a viable lifestyle for myself. Seafood is an integral part of my diet, and butter seems to make everything better. This summer, however, I happened to be watching Cupcake Wars, and the winning pastry chef was also a completely vegan baker. This got me thinking about vegan baking in general and the inherent problems it presents. How could cupcakes sans butter and eggs possibly be any good? I decided to put vegan baking to the test, and jumpstarted my research by speaking to Meera Iyer, a graduate student in food science here at Cornell, and a vegan since the age of 13. According to Meera, the biggest challenge of vegan cooking is not in the cooking itself, but in overcoming the bias that others hold against vegan cooking. As she puts it, “Optimizing the texture and flavor of a product are definitely feasible, but tackling close-mindedness in consumers is nearly impossible!” Once she made the decision to go vegan, when Meera was home alone she spent her time baking and testing recipes for vegan treats, making sure that her parents wouldn’t see her wasting pounds of flour and sugar on what often turned out to be inedible disasters. She advocates starting with an already formulated vegan recipe, then modifying it to add your own creative and innovative flair.

a use for that high school chemistry course


ow for the scientific part of the interview. Discussing the actual chemistry of the baking process and ingredients (to a limited extent), I learned about the roles eggs and butter play in baking. Eggs act as a binding and leavening agent, and their added protein provides structural support. It’s been suggested that the lack of eggs is what makes it so difficult to keep a larger-size vegan cake together, though Meera personally has had no problems with this. She compensates for the lack of eggs by using additional leavening agent and liquid. As for the butter, which adds moisture to the cake, various oils, margarines, and shortenings can be used in its place. However, the proportions must be adjusted when using oil, as the structure of the fats present in the oils (unsaturated versus the trans fats present in shortening) means that oil is a liquid at room temperature as opposed to a solid. Regarding taste and texture comparisons, Meera wasn’t entirely sure how to respond, as she hasn’t had a cake made with eggs in ten years. As I continued my research in the world of vegan baking, I decided to painstakingly walk around Ithaca and force myself to purchase and eat as many vegan products as possible (because eating a ton of cake really is such awful “research”). To my surprise, many establishments didn’t have any vegan dessesrts for me to try. Among those lacking said samples were the Owl Café, Brochten bakery and The Shop—even CTB had only prepackaged offerings.

the best form of “research” ever

my I

tried CTB’s coconut macaroons and an orange cranberry cookie. Much to my disappointment, the macaroons had an odd texture, and their flavor was slightly off as well. The texture of the cookie was so bad that it was just plain inedible. A carrot chip cookie from Maté Factor had good flavor, but the texture was more like unbaked cookie dough, and I am not one of the fanatics that like to eat cookie dough raw out of the container. The chocolate cake from Moosewood was decent at best. The flavors were there but seemed muted, while the texture of the cake was dry and crumbly (in a bad way). My last stop on the Ithaca Commons was Wildfire, where I found a chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting. This was the best of my trials so far. The cake was slightly dry, but the flavor was good, and it was the only product I found that I would actually eat. Speaking with the chef who makes the cupcakes, I was informed that the batter is kept moist with lots of vegetable oil and a bit of hot water. After finding mixed results from the town of Ithaca, I decided to test out Manndible’s offerings the next time I was pulling an all-nighter studying for midterms. My first choice was a date

And so began arduous task of waiting for the cake to bake.


vegan baking bar made with oats. The texture was moist and dense, exactly what I had expected, and the date filling was delicious. Next, I tried a vegan chocolate raspberry brownie. I was not expecting much from this, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was moist and fudgy, just the way a brownie should be, and full of great chocolate and raspberry flavor. Overall, I’d say Manndible is your best bet to find not only edible treats, but genuinely delicious examples of vegan ingenuity.

i’m lucky i didn’t burn down the building


rom there, I decided to develop and test my own recipe for a vegan cake. After filtering through a multitude of recipes that began to look identical about 30 minutes into my Google search, I finally settled on one that called for palm oil and almond milk curdled with apple cider vinegar. Palm oil isn’t particularly healthy, and for those of you that have never bought almond milk before, it’s damn expensive. I decided to substitute canola oil for the palm oil and soy yogurt (an inspiration whose source I honestly couldn’t tell you) for the almond milk. My frosting recipe called for dark chocolate, sugar, and soy margarine. I felt as if I were being judged while walking around Wegmans buying my vegan-approved supplies. Entering my kitchen with the supplies for my new endeavor, I began the process of baking my first vegan cake. I curdled the yogurt with the vinegar, mixed in the oil and the vanilla, then combined the mixture with the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder). I whisked it all together as the oven was preheating, achieving what was far from a regular batter consistency. This was so dry that it looked more like cookie dough, so I decided to add more oil. No measuring. Not even a guess at an amount. I just poured some in and mixed it until I had achieved something looser, but still drier than any batter I had ever seen. I poured the new mixture in the pan and put it in the oven. And so began my arduous task of waiting for the cake to bake. And waiting. And waiting. Sitting in the kitchen with my laptop watching The Emperor’s New Groove, I checked the cake every ten minutes. What was supposed to take 15 to 20 minutes took nearly an hour. Apparently, adding extra oil was not the best idea, as vegan batter is supposed to be drier. As the middle of the cake solidified at a glacial pace, the outer crust became harder and the cake began to overflow, falling off in small chunks and landing on the bottom of the oven. When it had finally, finally baked, I let it cool and started working on the frosting. Luckily, making the frosting went exponentially better. I melted Ghirardelli dark chocolate in a double boiler, and then threw in soy margarine, powdered sugar, a touch of yogurt for an emulsifier, and the frosting was ready! It even tasted like normal frosting; I felt that some self-

congratulations were in order. But being the impatient person that I am, I decided not to let the cake cool completely and so I pulled it out of the pan to frost almost immediately. This was probably not the best idea: the cake began to fall apart on the bottom (though this may have had more to do with my gross mistake of adding the extra oil). I frosted the cake, covered it in coconut, cut it up, and tasted it. Then I “forced” all of my friends to try it, including one of our editors-in-chief who is a bona fide vegan.

the final test


he cake was actually not bad. It was extremely moist, with lots of visible air pockets that would have made it nice and fluffy had the excessive oil not made it exceedingly dense. But it was definitely edible! In fact, it was totally passable for a dessert sold in a semi-decent bakery. If I ever try baking this cake again, though, it will be a one-off occasion motivated simply by the fact that I have no clue what else to do with the enormous carton of soy yogurt in my refrigerator (which tastes absolutely disgusting plain). In the end, while I could probably make this cake taste pretty good, I still love my butter and my eggs. After days of extensive research (read: consuming enough sugar to become a borderline diabetic), I realized that while it’s not impossible to make vegan baked goods taste like their animal-product-containing counterparts, it certainly is hard. I have a new found respect for those who can flawlessly execute a vegan delicacy. I was disappointed with Ithaca in regards to the vegan-friendly culture that I thought existed, and now feel bad for those forced to settle for the less-than-adequate products available to them. My own baking adventure was enough of a complicated and prohibitively expensive mess to turn me off from vegan baking indefinitely—unless someone else does it for me. Plus, I would eat almost anything if it were wrapped in bacon.

the end result


zooming in photo and layout by KATHLEEN JERCICH

Fundamentalism au Lait The Maté Factor sees Jesus in their tea


t looks like a place where Frodo Baggins could prop his hairy feet for a spell, preferably after all that business with the Ring. Housed in the old site of the Home Dairy Company on the Ithaca Commons, the Maté Factor is far more Keebler Elf cookie factory than Starbucks. In the warm and inviting interior, mugs ready to be filled with yerba maté tea dangle from personalized hooks for café regulars. The Maté Factor is the perfect venue for collegiate anti-hipsters, a refuge in earnestness from the drill of academia. And if you’re really dedicated to the place, they’ll invite you in on Friday nights for a circle of truth-speaking—but only if you’re willing to spout the Bible word for word. Much to the ignorance of many of its patrons, the Maté Factor is not simply a quaint café which appears to be housed entirely inside a giant, ancient oak tree. It’s also one of the main sources of income for the Ithaca branch of the Twelve Tribes Commonwealth of Israel, a sect of Christian fundamentalism which has grown from a tiny outlier in Tennessee to establish offspring in



nearly a dozen countries. The Twelve Tribes began as a ministry for teenagers called “The Light Brigade,” founded by Yoneq née Gene Spriggs in 1972. Starting as an outgrowth of Presbyterianism, it soon found itself in conflict with the Chattanooga, Tennessee, establishment. Unlike the properly segregated Southern Bible-wavers who also frequented First Presbyterian, the members of the Light Brigade welcomed anyone who wished to commit to their master, “Yashuah” (an alternative translation of the word Jesus). After a service of the mainstream church was canceled in favor of the Super Bowl, the Light Brigade—now informally known as the Community—separated in protest, choosing to commit themselves fully to the word of God rather than worship in congruence with those who they perceived to be hypocrites. Since then, churches have sprung up in more than twenty-five states across the U.S., as well as in countries as far away as Australia. To step into the Maté Factor, however, is an experience no-

where akin to finding oneself in one of the Baptist megachurches that have exploded all over the southern United States. There’s no altar, no visible pastor, no giant rendering of Christ staring accusingly down at the patrons. Instead, there are light snacks and smoothies: think Collegetown Bagels, only with an extra helping of Secret Jesus along with one’s Tofutti shmear. And if you happen to pick up the literature strewn along the counters, well, so be it—you’ll only find messages of inclusiveness, of inviting people to experience life together regardless of the niceties of their beliefs. To a failed Catholic such as myself, it actually sounds kind of comforting, in a “going to visit vaguely racist Grandma” sort of way. This impression persisted as I spoke with one of the workers at the Maté Factor, a roundcheeked, white-haired woman named Shoshana. When asked what connection the café had with the Twelve Tribes, she just blinked, smiling. “It is the Twelve Tribes,” she said, grasping my hand gently across the counter. “Okay, um, but,” I said politely, staring down at my hand and then back up at her, wondering how to best phrase my next question. “Is this business just a front to get people to ingest the Word with their caffeine?” seemed a bit impolite, after all, and I was still in her slapping range. Instead, I said, “So does this Maté Factor…fund your…sect? So you can…I don’t know, preach, or whatever?” “It is the Twelve Tribes,” she repeated. At my increasingly desperate look, she continued, “It’s a way to demonstrate to outsiders how we live and work together.” Finally, she released my hand. “You’re welcome to come to our Friday Sabbath, if you’d like. There’s food, and singing and dancing.” Practically, in other words, a Delta Chi pregame party after a few Four Lokos. According to their website, businesses like Maté Factor work mainly as outreach programs. By inviting hapless college students over for free food (well-known to be the average twentysomething’s kryptonite), they demonstrate the friendly, welcoming face of their organization. And they are friendly. In a 2005 Boston Globe article, reporter Christopher Dreher described the groups around Harvard Square as being “the best neighbors you’ve ever had,” citing the Tribes’ commitment to selflessness and unity of soul. For a student living on the opposite side of the country from her parents and everything else familiar, an organization like the Twelve Tribes might seem just the ticket. Still, as I took the pamphlet Shoshana gave me, emblazoned with the message “A Place to Belong,” I couldn’t help remembering the warning a friend of mine gave me when I was a tiny freshman, far from home and aching for somewhere I could fit in. “They’re very…traditional there,” Katie had told me, upon seeing my barely contained excitement at the thought of drinking tea out of a mug the size of my face. “They told me once that it was my duty to drop out of school and become a mother.” Glancing sidelong at my Adam Lambert haircut, she added, “And they hate the gays.” This seemed a bit like exaggeration. After all, the literature Shoshana had bestowed on me seemed to preach acceptance and forgiveness for everyone— sort of like over-caffeinated Unitarian Universalists. But, according to the Twelve Tribes website, the owners of the

Maté Factor and other businesses like it believe that “homosexual behavior is immoral and can be mortally dangerous.” It then helpfully quotes everyone’s favorite proto-Palin, Leviticus himself: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” For the Twelve Tribes, who read the Bible absolutely literally, this means that a little casual collegiate experimentation can net you a fine much heftier than a touch of the clap. In the same vein, the “Frequently Asked Questions” section of the Twelve Tribes’ website does a bit more to terrify than to reassure. In response to an inquiry regarding anti-Semitism, for example, the website demurs, “We do not consider [a passage in Matthew condemning Jewish people] antiSemitic, and we are not ashamed that it is in the Bible. It, along with Deuteronomy 28:15-68, explains why God has not been able to protect the Jews from century after century of abuse at the hands of wicked men.” Lest the reader be struck by the evasiveness of this statement, it hastily continues, “For Jews who follow our Master, however, these curses are removed.” That “Master,” in case you’ve been overwhelmed by Biblical citations, is Jesus. In other words, Jews who believe in Jesus are cool with the Community. As for all the others? Well, they’ve thrown their lot in with the lesbians. Aside from questions of homophobia and anti-Semitism, the Community has also been accused of child endangerment. Since the Twelve Tribes emphasize protecting their children from sinful outside influences, homeschooling and family businesses are commonly practiced, occasionally in violation of federal regulations. In 2001, the New York Post ran an article accusing the group of violating child labor laws, referencing their widespread policy of bringing children as young as thirteen into the workplace. While the subsequent $2,000 fines for fifteenyear-olds changing light bulbs and pushing wheelbarrows seem a bit excessive, it highlights the issue of whether groups like the Community are sustainable in today’s environment. Controversy and all, the Twelve Tribes sect is no better or worse than the average Christian fundamentalist group. For a certain type of lost soul, the sort of rigid rules it enforces may be soothing rather than oppressive. It does have one insidious addition, however. While most wonky religious sects restrain themselves to passing out Chick tracts in subways and shouting at people to repent on street corners, the Maté Factor could be just another café. It’s not as if the Community hangs a sign in their window supporting the Defense of Marriage Act or declaring that all African-Americans will be regarded as slaves until they accept Jesus as their savior. Just by buying a cup of tea, though, patrons are inextricably buying a share in that belief, whether they like it or not. And that, regardless of what Leviticus might say on the subject, is the real sin.

Aside from questions of homophobia and antiSemitism, the Commmunity has also been accused of child endangerment.


zooming in


Free Runners Run Free

IC students bring the sport of Parkour to Ithaca


t last, there is a sport for the inner iron man, adrenaline junkie and hippie that lie dormant in each of our versatile beings. Its French name, l’art du déplacement, translates literally as “the art of movement.” But thanks to Michael Scott, regional manager of Dunder-Mifflin’s Scranton branch, you may know it better as “PARKOUR!”

the birth of a phenomenon


arkour was officially born in 1997, when founders David Belle and Sebastién Foucan started the traceur (the French term for male practitioners of parkour, the female counterpart being “traceuse”) troupe Yamakasi, a word meaning “strong body, strong spirit and endurance” in the Lingala language, spoken in the Congo. Belle and Foucan would later part ways over financial difficulties and disparities in their definitions of the sport. Thirteen years later, parkour is still very much in its infancy. Indeed, there was no formal definition until September 2009, when the organization American Parkour, in true 21st century fashion, set up an online forum to determine what parkour is, and what it isn’t. We now know that parkour is, essentially, a non-competitive sport in which the player runs along a route with the purpose of navigating “obstacles”—which range from brick walls to tree branches—with optimum efficiency. However, practitioners of parkour would never want to be called “players.” Traceur should be used for the guys, and traceuse for the gals. The moniker is as sinister and downright cool


as it sounds, as it is derived from the French word for bullet. Parkour has been eking its way up from the underground through viral videos on YouTube and inclusion in one of the latest James Bond films, Casino Royale. World militaries took notice of these urban acrobatics and began to explore ways to incorporate the sport into their basic training. British Royal Marines have hired several traceurs to train their troops, and it is slowly being incorporated into our own Marines’ conditioning program.

badassery for the common (wo)man


ut while parkour has the appearance of being the lone wolf’s badass alternative to joining Fight Club, it isn’t exactly meant for the war zone. After all, this shiny, new art of movement has made it all the way to Ithaca. Connecticut-born brothers Michael and Dylan Miraglia, Ithaca College sophomores, started the IC Parkour/Freerunning Club at the start of this school year. Beginning in September, they filled campus hot spots and laundry rooms with flyers that quoted the hilarious Michael Scott and promised to teach “wall flips” and other advanced tricks. The Miraglia brothers began their careers as traceurs with classes at their local YMCA, and in turn introduced it to their IC roommates, who all conspired to initiate the remainder of the student body. The club’s first meeting drew a crowd upward of 30 people, which pleasantly surprised the founders and almost filled the small gymnastics room in IC’s Hill Center to capacity. The turnout featured guys and girls of all body types and skill

photos by ZAC BLITZ art and layout by CHARLES WANG levels, ranging from fitness freaks like Michael and Dylan to seasoned gymnasts who wished to kick the extreme factor up a few notches. The moon-bounce-like floor in the gymnastics room featured stacks of tumbling mats, which the college’s gymnastics team had exclusive use of before that night. Michael (president) and Dylan (vice president) acted as teachers during this first official practice, breaking down lightning-fast movements that normally happen in milliseconds into minutelong instructions. Over the course of the practice, they showed the new traceurs and traceuses the basic parkour skills: jumping, climbing, vaulting and swinging. By the end, those who had only a vague idea of what parkour was were successfully completing basic vaults. It looked easy enough.

brings the legs sideways and together over the object. As I bounded toward the obstacle, my internal dialogue went something like this: “Alright, you’re 6’ tall… that pile of mats you have to launch over is only 5’2’’ or so… c’mon, girl… you rocked Tumble Tots… no big deal… heed David Lee Roth’s call and ‘go ahead and jump!’” However, the truth that there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell (or in this case, a writer’s chance in parkour) for this wannabe traceuse to succeed soon became evident. I called it an evening after barely completing one lazy vault. I had already suspected that the members of the Ithaca College Parkour/Freerunning Club were superhuman even before my fear of falling was compounded by Plimpton ambitions. Afterwards, I put them on par with the DC Comics pantheon; their seemingly elastic bodies appear to adapt to the size of the obstacles over which they vault, like Mr. Fantastic. After returning to my destined place on the sidelines, notebook in hand, I discovered the most fascinating part of watching parkour: when one of the traceurs lands an incredible vault, jump or flip, an ubiquitous look of disbelief crosses his or her face. As Eric, Michael’s roommate and a club member, gushed, “You just feel so cool after you land.”

while parkour has the appearance of being the lone wolf’s badass alternative to joining Fight Club, it isn’t exactly meant for the war zone

jumping in feet first


decided to follow in the footsteps of the father of participatory journalism, George Plimpton, who played with the Detroit Lions and appeared in Good Will Hunting as a blundering, white-haired psychiatrist, just to get the story. I, who had given up all athletic pursuits since coming to college, save for the occasional jog or yoga class, was going to attempt the extreme. I tried to comfort myself with what Michael, Dylan and club treasurer Andy Fanno had told me earlier that week: “It’s only as dangerous as you make it.” This particular practice was designated for beginners, and only the most “basic” vaults would be taught: the lazy, monkey and dash vaults. Needless to say, I went for the lazy vault first, in which the traceur puts his or her hands on the obstacle and

hitting the streets


n Saturday and Sunday afternoons, the parkour kids emerge. They no longer have to meet at 10:30 at night in a remote part of campus, like a super-secret extreme sport cult. The campus is empty. The campus is theirs. “Class, club, whatever we call ourselves…” began Dylan,


zooming in “Let’s do some wall flips, but please, don’t kill yourselves.” The select few traceurs who considered themselves ready to make the transition from cushiony tumbling mats to concrete smiled nervously and donned shifty eyes. Dylan and Michael each then demonstrated a wall flip. This trick is exactly what it sounds like: the beyond-courageous traceur runs part of the way up a vertical wall, and then flips backward onto the ground. After completing several flawless wall flips in a row, Michael made it clear that parkour is not only an art, but also a science. “It’s like turning a door knob. You’re just training your muscles to do it through repetition. Now, when I do a vault, I just do it. That’s called ‘muscle memory.’” While no other club members took the wall flip dare, all of the traceurs agreed that the move outdoors wasn’t as frightening as expected. Two brand new members successfully scaled the concrete crossbeams that flank the sides of the main entrance to Williams Hall, which is home to future psychologists, chemists and mathematicians during the school week. “Parkour is limitless. There’s always something new to do,” remarked Dylan. Just when all present seemed on the cusp of attaining parkour enlightenment, an IC Police SUV pulled up alongside Williams Hall, and an officer apprehended Dylan. Motioning to the two traceurs now sitting comfortably 15 feet above the ground in Williams’ rafters, the officer said, “I don’t know how you got up there… so I’ll just give you a warning. I don’t want to write you guys up, but I will!” “I’ve gone outside of the court and town hall downtown, and I was told that it was fine… just as long as I don’t make a mess,” Dylan said, and grinned sheepishly. Legend has it that if a virgin ever graduates from IC, the silver abstract sculpture of a “fish” on top of Textor Hall will roll down South Hill. This artistic testament to the college’s eccentricity has become the headquarters for its traceurs, who claim that the surrounding concrete courtyard is the best place to parkour on campus. The authority that sanctions IC’s student organizations fears that the Textor Fish may take a tumble for another reason, as the Parkour/ Freerunning Club was officially denied legitimacy as an Ithaca College student organization just before midterm exam time. “The board found out what sort of things parkour involves, and got nervous about having to pay up if we ever


hurt ourselves or damaged anything,” Eric said. Michael and Dylan plan to appeal for recognition, and to try to convince the powers that be that parkour is, “not any more dangerous than gymnastics or football.” “Parkour is about respecting your environment, not breaking things or yourself,” Michael said. In parkour, one’s environment never presents an insurmountable challenge since the goal of every traceur and traceuse is to move through his or her surroundings as efficiently as water. The only question that remains is whether this brandspanking-new sport they practice can do the same.


Controversies surrounding America’s former wonder plant.



art and layout by MICHELLE SPEKTOR

ith its multitude of uses, some might conclude that hemp is the long-sought biblical manna, the heavenly food that kept the Israelites alive in the desert for forty years. It contains all nine essential amino acids and a high level of favorable omega-3 fatty acids, making it one of the only edible plants on which humans could exclusively survive—and hemp food products, such as hemp milk and hemp oil, are lauded as nutritious and heart-healthy. The plant is also a sustainable source of paper, soft and durable textiles, and even biodegradable plastics and fuels. As a drought-resistant herb that exhibits a higher yield per acre than most major crops, hemp is easily cultivatable and can flourish almost anywhere with little to no pesticides. The potential of hemp is astounding, but has been mostly untapped in modern-day American industries. Imagine how much healthier and more sustainable our society could be if we produced hemp food products and used hemp (instead of trees and cotton) to make paper and clothing. But we cannot do any of these things, because the growth and industrial production of hemp is illegal in the United States.


zooming in busting the myth: hemp is NOT marijuana


hile the terms “hemp” and “marijuana” are often used interchangeably, they are not the same plant. Marijuana, Cannabis sativa (subspecies indica), may contain up to 20 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component that elicits the well-known “high.” Conversely, the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa (subspecies sativa), contains less than 0.3 percent THC, an amount from which it is impossible to get high. Eating hemp or hemp-based foods, wearing hemp clothing, and even smoking hemp will not produce a high or yield a positive result in a drug test. The two plants are also easily differentiable. The sativa (hemp) plant grows on one tall, woody stalk, while the indica (marijuana) plant is shorter and leafier with more branches than its sativa cousin. The process of planting hemp and marijuana also differs. Rick, who asked that his full name not be used for this article, is a part-time manager of Ithaca Hemp Co., a part-time organic farmer, and a full-time hemp activist. In an interview, he explained that industrial hemp plants are grown close together on large plots of land while marijuana plants require more space on smaller plots. Additionally, the hermaphroditic hemp plant contains both male and female plant parts while the marijuana plant only contains female plant organs. “For gardeners and agriculturalists, it is very easy to tell the difference between [hemp and marijuana] plants,” said Rick, but unfortunately, the U.S. government has decided not to draw distinctions between the two.

domestically for the production of textiles, rope, and paper. By the late 1600s, a pound of hemp was worth twice as much as a pound of tobacco, and some colonies even permitted the partial payment of taxes in hemp. According to Hemp: American History Revisited by Robert Deitch, many of the United States’ founding fathers and important presidents grew, produced, and even smoked hemp. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were known to grow hemp on their farms, and Abraham Lincoln is said to have enjoyed smoking his hemp pipe. The very first U.S. flag, created by Betsy Ross in 1776, was made from hemp, and the original Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were written on hempbased paper. Until the 1920s and 30s, hemp remained a major source of paper in the United States and was ubiquitous in the textile industry. During that time, pharmaceutical companies investigated hemp’s medicinal qualities, while hemp seed was used to manufacture paints and varnish. Henry Ford even construc ted a car made from hempbased plastics that ran on hemp-based fuel. Hemp’s integral role in the growth of American industries dissipated in 1937 after the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act, which summarily banned the growth and industrial production of any Cannabis plant—including hemp.

Marijuana was banned in order to eliminate hemp as a viable competitor to the timber and synthetic fibers industries.

what the history books fail to mention


emp has been grown for thousands of years for textiles and food and became an important European crop in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It was favored for the production of rope and canvas (the word canvas is derived from the word Cannabis), and may have been used in the construction of Christopher Columbus’ ships. As hemp became a staple crop in Europe, it also became an important part of industrial and every day life in North American colonies. Most of the hemp produced in the British colonies was used


hemp’s untimely downfall


he outlawing of Cannabis by the Marijuana Tax Act and subsequent controlled substances laws are often attributed to the racist targeting of minorities for the recreational use of marijuana. However, Jack Herer, a major contributor to the modernday hemp movement, has suggested that another factor may have been important to the passage of the Tax Act. In his famous book, The Emperor Wears No Clothes, Herer promotes the idea that marijuana was banned in order to eliminate hemp as a viable competitor to the timber and synthetic fibers industries— all of which were owned by or heavily invested in by influential individuals in American politics.


In the years leading up to the Marijuana Tax Act, timber became a more widely used and increasingly inexpensive paper source. By the early 1920s, the hemp decorticator, a hempprocessing machine, had been introduced. Herer suggests that the potential of this cost-saving invention concerned many industrialists, especially those invested in the timber and newlydeveloped synthetic fiber industries. One such industrialist was William Randolph Hearst, a former politician and newspaper giant who also happened to be heavily invested in the timber industry. Andrew Mellon, then the Secretary of the Treasury, had invested millions in Dupont, a chemical company that held monopolies on products necessary for manufacturing paper from trees. The company also held the patent for nylon, a synthetic fiber to which hemp could be a major competitor. In 1930, Harry J. Anslinger, Mellon’s nephew, was appointed the head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and is credited with leading the government’s campaign against marijuana. In this era of robber barons and government corruption, Herer suggests that the combined powers of newspaper monopolies and intricate government-industry relationships could have easily manufactured a previously nonexistent negative public opinion of the Cannabis plant. Herer suggests that the term “marijuana,” one that had not been previously used, was introduced by these individuals in order to help rally public opinion behind their cause, all while failing to distinguish it from the hemp plant. Such was the controversial end of hemp in America. Anslinger worked with Hearst to publish yellow journalism-esque stories of the horrors of marijuana in Hearst’s newspapers, and Mellon and Anslinger obliged their corporate interests by shuttling the Marijuana Tax Act into effect. As a result, hemp was removed from the American spotlight, and its benefits, uses, and rich American history remain virtually unknown today.

presence in the textile industry, and non-biodegradable plastics permeate almost every nook and cranny of American life. Modern-day hemp activists argue that the legalization of hemp is crucial for a sustainable future, and thanks to their efforts, imported hemp food products and textiles have had a more noticeable presence in stores over the last few years. While imported hemp products are becoming more popular, Rick, the manager of Ithaca Hemp Co., still feels that more can be done for the American hemp cause. A major roadblock to the legalization of industrial hemp production continues to be the DEA’s refusal to distinguish between hemp and marijuana. “In the last eleven years it seems like I haven’t seen a whole lot of progress,” said Rick. “A lot of states tried to pass laws to legalize industrial hemp, but the DEA won’t budge.” Even on sovereign Native American lands, any attempt to grow hemp has been (sometimes violently) stopped by the DEA.

Hemp activists argue that the legalization of hemp is crucial for a sustainable future.

life without hemp: where we are today


ithout hemp, forest destruction primarily fuels paper production; nylon, polyester, and other fibers maintain a high

what can we do?


hile Ithaca is known to foster a variety of social and environmental movements, Rick finds the local hemp movement to be fairly nonexistent. “There are people who are aware of it, and there are people who like the products and might buy them, but there really isn’t much in terms of activism,” said Rick. However, the commitment of Ithaca Hemp Co. on the Ithaca Commons to the cause has brought quality hemp clothing, jewelry, and other products to local Ithacans and college students. The store opened in 2000, and Rick and the owner, Chris Diemand, have been in the hemp business together since 1997. Most of their merchandise comes from China, which has taken over the global hemp industry. Other countries with notable hemp industries include Canada and France. What can we do to support the cause? Rick, and other hemp activists might agree, that education, publicity and investment in hemp products are key. “The more people who know about it, the better,” said Rick. Supporting hemp also means supporting local merchants, health, and sustainable living. “When you buy a hemp product, it’s not from a corporation. Your dollars are supporting individuals like you and me,” he said. “And it’s about being healthy. It means you can live outside the system.”


zooming in

It’s Only


if You

Make It A w k w a r d



A layman’s guide to navigating the seas of social ineptiude. KRISTEN ASKIN


art and layout by LAURA VAN WINKLE

veryone knows the feeling. You are walking to class, probably bundled in a sweaty jacket and halfway up a hill, when you look up, make eye contact with someone in front of you, look away, and then quickly look back. The classic double take does not end there. Your stare hangs on the subject’s face for a few more (almost unbearable) seconds as your realization races to full maturity—that’s the “stranger” you were most definitely inhaling an extra-large buffalo chicken pizza with at CTP last weekend.


Before dropping your glance, or changing your facial expression from “blasé street-cool” to “OMG-shock,” a series of thoughts race through your mind. You might be embarrassed by the way you initially met this person (nom nom), or perhaps you are surprised that you completely forgot the person’s face until now, or maybe you are relieved that the mysterious number you entered into your phone last night finally has a face to match it. Congrats. Before becoming completely entrenched in your realizations, you will find that, yes, you are still awkwardly staring at

this person and that, thanks your curious stare, he is looking at you too. Now each of you will be put to the ultimate test: do you say “hi” to each other?

ing the guy from last weekend or the cute girl from your Econ class, not saying “hi” or refusing to acknowledge them actually only works to exacerbate the mutual discomfort.

the aquaintance problem

why it matters


hether it is an advantage or disadvantage, the vast size of our campus and student body creates a complex social environment that we must navigate on a daily basis. We all have our close friends, but we also have a whole other category of “acquaintances.” These are people we kind of know from one or two previous encounters that have now left us socially obligated to acknowledge each other. For example, you kind of know the girl who sits next to you in Econ section, just like you kind of know that CTP guy from last weekend. These acquaintances are people you definitely recognize, but do not necessarily know by name, or see very often. Regardless, it is safe to say that crossing paths with them is bound to happen at some point, though it is impossible to predict when these instances might occur. Walking to class or going to the library pretty much ensures a couple of run-ins with such acquaintances. Though the awkwardness is usually mitigated by the hordes of other students walking alongside you and obscuring you from view, sometimes, in empty hallways or offbeat paths, the awkwardness is simply unavoidable. There are also the rarer run-ins that make a walk-by run-in seem like a treat in comparison. Seeing your TA out at 12:15 a.m. on a Friday night and pretending not to recognize her is not really an ideal situation—especially when you’re reminded of it in Monday morning’s 9:05 section. And pretending not to remember the girl at the service desk at Olin who is fixing your printer jam, even after you looked like soulmates on the dance floor last weekend, is hardly better. I mean, you’re even Facebook friends at this point.


s awkward as it might be, it is probably better to acknowledge your acquaintances, whether through a smile or a “hey.” A simple greeting goes a long way and says a lot about a person; it makes you appear confident and friendly. In a school as big as Cornell, making friends is an important and comforting advantage, and running into your acquaintances will happen on a daily basis. The more people you know, the more socially situated you will be. Without the initial awkward “hello,” you miss the valuable opportunity to expand your social network. Dr. Mark Granovetter, a sociologist at Stanford University, defined and emphasized the importance of “weak ties” in his 1973 paper “The Strength of Weak Ties.” Weak ties, in his terms, are the relationships we have with acquaintances, or people we know only from one or two past experiences. He argues that weak ties, as opposed to strong ties (ties you have with family and friends) are most valuable within a social network. Without ties to acquaintances, individuals will be “deprived from information” and be “confined to the provincial news and views of their close friends,” leaving them at a disadvantage when compared with others who have more weak ties and therefore more access to information. The more weak ties one has, the greater the social cohesion is in any network. And, if the social benefits are not convincing enough, Granovetter also proves the value of weak ties within the labor market. In a study observing job seekers, Granovetter found that a strong majority found occupation through an acquaintance, rather than a friend, proving the value of weak ties in job mobility.

Without the initial awkward ‘hello,’ you miss the valuable opportunity to expand your social network.

handling the awkward


o, when you see someone you kind of know, what do you do? You are aware of your connection to this person, and chances are this person recognizes you as well. And while saying “hello” is a seemingly simple gesture, you run the risk of having your greeting going unreturned. Ouch. More often than not, the ambiguity of an acquaintance relationship leads one or both people to feel a little awkward when they bump into each other. For many, it is easy to take on a much “safer” approach: looking away (left, right, down, sometimes even up), uncomfortably composing a fake text (seriously, everyone knows it’s fake), or even pretending to simply be oblivious to the other person. But does it really have to be this way? Despite the level of awkwardness that may result from see-

get over yourself and say “hello”


hough the benefits of acquaintances are very apparent, the discomfort that comes from running into them often causes us to dismiss these values. While many of us find alternatives to facing our acquaintances, it is very important to instead remember that: a situation is only awkward if you make it awkward. Instead of finding an excuse to simply “not notice” the girl from section, or the guy you killed a pizza pie with last weekend, you might as well say a simple “hi” and not worry about being rejected. If anything, you will come off as being mature and friendly. Plus, you are empowering yourself by expanding your network. So, put the phones away. Walk in a straight line, and say “hi.” Maybe that girl in Olin will end up being your soul mate after all—it’s worth a try.


zooming in



Mutilation at


Clitoris controversy comes to campus. RENEE TORNATORE


he varieties of medical procedures that fit under the dark umbrella of female genital mutilation (FGM), the removal of part or all of the female genitalia, affect nearly 140 million girls and women worldwide. Although this practice is typically considered to be solely a third world practice, 170,000 females have experienced some form of FGM in the United States alone. And unbeknownst to many, this practice is allegedly occurring under the auspices of renowned doctors at our very own Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City. Some physicians, most notably Dr. Dix Poppas of the Weill Cornell Medical Center, have focused their research on intersex children and children born with otherwise “atypical” genitals. Their work has culminated in the development of a corrective procedure known as ventral clitoroplasty, a surgery that consists of removing parts of girls’ clitorises, ideally without damaging sexual sensation. Poppas’ work with this procedure has created an ethical uproar in the medical world; Internet bloggers have angrily posted their thoughts about the procedure, sensationalizing Poppas’ work as inhumane genital mutilation with an irrational purpose. If a girl is born with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), a clitoris that is deemed “too large” by a physician, the child can undergo clitoroplasty in order to reduce the clitoris to the socially accepted size. However, the necessity, safety, and efficacy of this procedure have been questioned for years. There is no evidence that having a large clitoris hinders any sexual function, but there is evidence that clitoroplasties performed in infancy



and early childhood are associated with an increased risk of harm to physical sexual functioning and psychological damage. There are additional possibilities for psychological damage that stem not only from the clitoroplasty itself, but also from the follow-up procedures that Dr. Poppas requires. During annual visits after the surgery, with a parent’s supervision, Poppas touches the surgically altered clitoris with a cotton tip applicator fixed with a “vibratory device,” and the girl is instructed to tell Poppas how strongly she feels a sensation. He also touches her with the device on her inner thighs, her labia minora, and the outside of her vagina, asking how strong of a sensation she feels using a zero to five scale. Poppas and his assistants also perform “capillary perfusion testing” in which one of them uses his or her fingernails to push down on the patient’s clitoris to see if blood goes away and comes back. This supposedly indicates healthy tissue. Dr. Poppas has stated that he intends to conduct these annual exams with the girls he has operated on and also wants to chart their sexual development over time. This controversy has caused medical professionals, legal officials, and parents alike to contemplate what kinds of procedures can legally be performed on children without their consent. Because the clitoroplasties are performed on young girls—typically under the age of six—the patient is unable to make the choice for herself; instead, her parents decide. According to the IRB (the Institutional Review Board that approves or rejects clinical studies on the basis of medical ethical standards), parents cannot sterilize or choose cosmetic surgeries for their children. Thus, the heated question arises: is ventral clitoroplasty considered cosmetic or functional? When a child is born with atypical genitals, two main issues need to be confronted. The first is the pressure to make a sex determination immediately, and the second is the decision about what to do with the atypical genitals. Intersexuality creates cultural anxiety, a need to place people into the socially acceptable and “normal” categories of male or female. Yet atypical genitalia are not entirely uncommon and pose no major health risks, which raises the question of whether it should even be considered a “medical problem” for which Poppas’“medical research” is necessary.

experience provided a number of perspectives on the FGM controversy at Weill. The doctor representing Weill Cornell, Richard Nachman, was alone in defending Dr. Dix Poppas’ procedures. Dr. Nachman claimed that Poppas’ controversial follow-up appointments are necessary and follow standard protocol. From the 60+ patients he has treated since 2005, Poppas decided to create a study in order to determine if there were still nerves in the dissected tissue. Dr. Nachman stated that, with IRB approval for the research, there is no deviation from the standard care that follows a typical medical procedure. Countless doctors were outraged and even refused to believe the nature in which Poppas conducts his follow up appointments. The idea of applying a vibrator to a six-year-old’s clitoris has been described by other physicians as “developmentally inappropriate,” as well as a colorful array of adjectives along the lines of “sick,” “twisted,” and “perverted.” Many children’s rights advocates argue against the IRB’s approval of these studies by citing the large potential for developmental psychological damage to the child. They also demand to know whether the girls and their parents provided complete informed consent, meaning they knew the full extent of the physical and psychological risks associated with Poppas’ procedure and follow-ups before agreeing to the procedure. Furthermore, the usefulness of the follow-up procedure has also been brought into question. While it may provide insights on the efficacy of Poppas’ clitoroplasties, it is unlikely he can use the information to correct nerve damage or other problems that may arise. Weill Cornell’s website about clitoroplasties for girls with CAH has been criticized both for the information it presents and the information it omits. The website does not cite evidence that having a larger than normal clitoris puts a girl at psychological and social risks. However, the website recommends the plastic surgery take place between ages of three and six months in order for female patients to “undergo a more natural psychological and sexual development.” Additionally, the website promises flawless sexual function post-surgery, without any mention of the risks of nerve damage, urinary tract infections, inability to orgasm, or psychological damage. Dr. Poppas is trying to advance the frontiers of medicine and help young girls and their parents avoid cultural anxiety due to biological abnormality. However, he is also utilizing societal pressure to promote a procedure which may not be medically necessary, all in order to achieve a “normal” physiology. One of the panelists in the discussion, Janet Green, was born with CAH and spoke about her lifelong biological and psychological struggle. She was raised as a female and her parents opted out of normalizing surgery to correct her enlarged clitoris. Green advocates ending clitoroplasties at Weill; she advocates stopping bodily shame by learning how to practice modesty. Instead of flaunting one’s body, one can learn to veil the parts that could potentially cause embarrassment or discomfort in the presence of someone else. As a longtime advocate for girls with CAH and people with atypical genitalia, Green broadcasted to parents and children alike that deviation from cultural norms should not affect the power of love. “Big clitorises do not negatively impact your life,” she said with a wink and a warm smile. “You can live just fine with them.”

Big clitorises do not negatively impact your life. -Janet Green

Cornell recently sponsored a lecture at the Ithaca campus titled, “Differences or Disorders,” which included a panel featuring a bioethics expert, a patient advocate, a lawyer that supports intersex children, and a doctor from the Conflict Advisory Panel at Weill Cornell. Their different areas of expertise and personal


zooming in photos and layout by HELEN HAVLAKK


of the

Tree Rings

An interview with the Director Emeritus of the Dendrochronology Lab



n the bowels of Goldwin Smith Hall, beneath even the basement, lies the windowless expanse of Cornell’s littleknown dendrochronology lab. I ventured down to visit the office of Professor Peter Kuniholm, Director Emeritus of what is officially the Malcolm and Carolyn Wiener Laboratory for Aegean and Near Eastern Dendrochronology. For those less versed in the odd byways of science, dendrochronology is a method of dating objects or archeological sites by counting and analyzing the patterns in tree rings. In my interview with Kuniholm, I learned how someone ends up counting tree rings for a living, why the lab is located in Goldwin Smith instead of a science facility, and why dendrochronology is so important.

from prep school to dendro lab


eter Kuniholm received a bachelor’s degree in English from Brown University in 1958 and a master’s in English from Vanderbilt in 1963. After graduation, he took a job teaching English at prep schools, where he taught for ten years at campuses in Massachusetts, Arizona, and Turkey. But Kuniholm says he found the work tedious, especially since teaching at a boarding school entailed being on call 24 hours a day: “I taught English for ten years—graded grammar, punctuation, spelling, that sort of stuff, got a master’s degree in it, and after doing that for ten years, I thought, ‘there has to be another way of making a living.’” And so Kuniholm decided to go back to school to qualify to teach at a college level. He was ambivalent about continuing his career in English, however, because as he put it, “the idea of going back to graduate school and getting a PhD by taking courses that I’d actually taught myself seemed stupid.” Instead, he applied both to a PhD


in English at Vanderbilt and a PhD in Classical archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania, and decided to take whichever offer came first—in this case, Classical archaeology. Kuniholm nodded towards the pile of grant applications and research papers on his desk and added, “So what am I doing now? Correcting grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Some things never change.” Kuniholm started the Aegean Dendrochronology Project in 1973 in the basement of the Ankara Museum as part of his dissertation, and brought it with him to Cornell in 1976 to found the dendro lab. I was confused at first about where dendrochronology fits into Cornell’s department structure, but Kuniholm told me that it is a course, not a major or a concentration, and that it is cross-listed between the art history, archeology, and Classics departments. Because it falls under three of the “arts” in the College of Arts and Sciences, they originally managed to secure space underneath the Temple of Zeus in what is now the Arts and Sciences advising center. This wasn’t exactly a coveted space, Kuniholm told me—it was supposed to become the university copy center, but a broken gutter on the east side of the building meant that the area flooded twice a year and the space was deemed too wet. Undeterred, Kuniholm created a small lab there with his then research aide, Carol Griggs. But when he and Carol demonstrated to the Dean that there were 2,000 square feet of space available for renovation, the Dean offered them a deal: he would give them a custombuilt laboratory in the basement if they would give up their current location in favor of the new advising center. They agreed, though Kuniholm told me the space was disheartening at first— “it had one-legged chairs with two-legged tables. It was just a mess. So we cleaned it all out and upgraded the thing, and we’ve been down here since 1984.” He narrowed his eyes and jokingly asked me, “What were you doing in 1984?”

beneath Goldwin Smith


he dendro lab’s current location is nice, if subterranean. Kuniholm told me that he had originally hoped to install windows to let in some daylight, but that they were unable to do so because the sewage and power lines are located outside the western wall of Goldwin Smith. “So we’re down here without any clue as to whether the sun is shining or whether it’s snowing or anything like that, we just sort of live down here,” he said. He added, “As someone from the Daily Sun said years ago, power at Cornell is determined by the number of square feet you control. So we were able to get a lot of real estate that no one else wanted. Currently, the lab houses some seven full-time and fourteen student employees. Kuniholm explained the fundamental principles behind their research: “You measure tree rings so that… starting with a living tree and working your way backwards, we can date things at the moment back to the third century and say ‘this piece of wood was cut in this year, and that piece of wood was cut in that year’ by matching the patterns.” This is extremely valuable in archaeology because excavators can call upon the dendro lab’s expertise in order to date different phases of their sites. By matching the patterns in the wood from the site to existing data, Kuniholm and his lab can determine in what year the wood was cut, and therefore in what year the excavated site was built. “It’s a cumulative sort of thing, “ Kuniholm told me, “So let’s say, one of these pieces is from a living tree, and I go back and I find a pattern, and then another pattern, and I can match it back. So you start from a living tree to a mosque to a Byzantine church to a Roman shipwreck to a Classical site and you take yourself back in time.”

meters before they get to virgin soil. So the whole city is sitting on top of 100 feet of debris that has accumulated over the last 1,700 years, which is bizarre.” They are also working on proving that earthquakes caused an extremely destructive tsunami in the year 557 or 558 by dating a site in which wooden pilings have been toppled in the same direction as the skeletons of five horses and a camel. The applications of dendrochronology extend beyond just dating; Kuniholm told me that his office-mate Carol Griggs has been using tree rings to research a millennium’s worth of climate activity. “Because of course we have weather records in Ithaca that go back a hundred years,” said Kuniholm, “But ... what does 100 years mean? What about the last 500 or 1,000 or 10,000 years?” Research in the dendro lab requires extreme precision. “Thick hair may be 3/100 of a millimeter thick. We measure to the nearest 1/100 of a millimeter,” said Kuniholm, “So we are measuring to maybe a third or a fourth of your hair thickness and trying to get it right.” Two people perform every measurement, checking the source of any discrepancies. This requires a lot of patience, which Kuniholm cites as the reason the lab consists mostly of women. Because of the meticulous nature of the measurements, dendrochronology allows an unprecedented level of precision. As Kuniholm demonstrated, “Here’s a gold coin that was found in a structure [in one of the sites]. But this [coin] could date anywhere from 538 to 565, which is a 27-year wiggle. Which if you walk into a bar in Collegetown and ask for a beer and they ask you how old you are and you say, ‘I’m 21 plus or minus 27 years,’ that’s not going to work.” By contrast, Kuniholm said, “I can go into this level here and, [using dendrochronology], say 550 exactly, plus or minus nothing.”

you start from a

living tree to a mosque to a Byzantine


church to

Roman shipwreck

and you take yourself

back in time.

from Cornell to Istanbul


ver the 35 or so years of its operation, the dendro lab has performed more than 10 million measurements. About 500 students have served as research assistants, many going on to graduate-level programs. Kuniholm remarked, “curiously, it was the medical and law schools who were interested in people who had the stick-to-it-ness to sit there and get the measurements right.” The accuracy of tree ring dating keeps the dendro lab busy. Currently, they are consulting on a $4 billion project in Istanbul, where the city has excavated an area six times the size of the Arts Quad in order to build a subway through the downtown. But Kuniholm told me, “In some cases, they have to drill down 29


zooming in

art and layout by ADAM MILLER

ANGRY MOM Not your mom’s record store.



ven on a damp and chilly Monday in late fall, the Autumn Leaves used bookstore on the Ithaca Commons offers a comfortable bustle. Local Ithacans and college students putter about the store, wandering between the fiction and poetry sections or mingling in the upstairs cafe. Few, however, venture downstairs to the basement, which holds one of Ithaca’s hidden treasures: Angry Mom Records. Angry Mom is certainly not the most well known shop in Ithaca; even frequent Commons-goers may have overlooked its subterranean presence. But despite its relative anonymity, Angry Mom is one of the only vintage record stores in Ithaca and certainly has more to offer in the way of personality and passion than the bland CD stock of Borders and Barnes & Noble. Venturing down that single flight of stairs from Autumn Leaves into Angry Mom Records brings a definite change of pace. Row upon row of vintage records replace the shelves of books, and the ambient noise transitions from the quiet hum of


conversation upstairs to a diverse and often quirky soundtrack. Just a quick glance at the most visible album covers reveals the depth and variety of Angry Mom’s collection. There are hundreds, if not thousands of records—popular and obscure, recent and vintage, with offerings for both the casual listener and the serious collector. The man behind Angry Mom’s underground record collection is George Johann, who has been in the record business for nearly 20 years. Johann originally got his start in the industry by selling records at shows and through mail order. Before opening Angry Mom, he ran a store called Midnight Records in Middletown, New York, a town about 150 miles southeast of Ithaca. In early 2009, Johann left Middletown to open Angry Mom Records in its current location with the help of his friend Joe Wetmore, the owner of Autumn Leaves. Previously, the space had been home to a satellite store of the Bop Shop, a Rochester-based record seller. When the space was vacated, Wetmore helped Jo-

photo by JEN KEEFE hann move in. “I had been selling records out of his window for a while and when I moved Joe offered me the spot and I took it,” Johann said. The move was hardly drastic, as Johann had previously called Ithaca his home. “I lived here before, in 2001,” he said, “and I’ve just been coming back every six months or so, seeing people I know. Now that I’m back I really like it a lot.” Johann’s passion for music and personal musical tastes began at an early age. “I grew up as a punk rocker, so punk rock is always my first love,” he told me. But that doesn’t affect the diversity of Angry Mom’s selection, he was quick to add. “Mostly what we sell is 60s and 70s rock, you know, old stuff, but it’s a lot of punk rock also, a lot of metal, and a lot of new indie rock.” Angry Mom stocks not only the obvious choices that one would expect to find in these genres—big-name bands like The Smiths and Talking Heads—but also some more unusual records. In the section labeled “Exotica,” you can find diverse items such as Les Baxter’s Jungle Jam. Or, if that is not quite your thing, you can head over to “Rock” and check out Rue de Siam by the late 70s French band Marquis de Sade. That same kind of range exists throughout the store, whether you prefer folk, punk, or classical. Johann’s collection, mostly vinyl, is extensive, and he’s always looking to add to it. And, beyond records, Angry Mom also sells various wares including “used and new records and CDs, record players and other audio equipment, record needles and whatever other strangeness I come across,” said Johann. Besides his retail work in the store, Johann has made himself a vital new force in Ithaca’s music scene by starting an Angry Mom record label. The project was inspired by a show Johann

attended over a year ago which featured Elsa and the awesomeAwesomes, a local band composed solely of Samuel Sveen, a 2010 Cornell alum. “I started asking around like, does he have any records out, you know, any releases? And he had just done this crappy little demo himself which didn’t capture what he was doing at all live,” Johann said. “It had to happen. I had to get a record out of his stuff.” Around that time, Johann heard about another Ithacabased band, Blow!, which has since joined Elsa and the awesomeAwesomes on the Angry Mom label. “I went to see them and I liked them so much also that we just decided to all do it at once.” The label kicked off with a launch party in August, and although presses are currently small—only “three and five hundred of each one of the releases,” according to Johann—it has been well-received. “The label’s going to expand for sure,” Johann said. Sure enough, Ithaca-based musician Johnny Dowd will be Angry Mom’s next release. As I browsed the records and got ready to leave, the song playing in the store—which seemed to be authentic sitar music—ended. Johann called out to one of his co-workers, “Okay, how about this one? It’s a bunch of children singing the Wonder Woman theme song!” And, so, as I climbed the narrow staircase back to the oblivious world upstairs, on it went: “Wonder woman! Wonder woman! All the world is waiting for you and the powers you possess...” Angry Mom is located at 115 The Commons, in the basement of Autumn Leaves Books.



Smoke Shops of the

Ithaca Commons 36

photos by Helen Havlak

2 kitsch magazine



4 kitsch magazine



6 kitsch magazine


zooming out

Made in Japan:

Weird Fads and Fetishes



erhaps because it is a lonely little island in the Pacific Ocean, Japan is a world of its own, an imaginative hotbed of both genius and crazy. The Japanese are well known for starting trends that may or may not become hits in other countries. A couple of popular fads have even managed to succeed in America: the handheld Tamogotchi, the virtual Gigapets, and Pokémon. There are more that don’t catch on because of cultural differences. Gigapets and Pokémon were considered socially acceptable and endearing because they dealt with innocuous critters; other trends however, have proved too kinky for prude Americans. “Cosplay” (short for “costume play”) cafés, in which the wait staff dons costumes based on characters from anime and manga sources, have become popular in Japan. Maid cafés are among the most popular types, in which waitresses dress up as French maids and cater to the customers, treating them as masters and mistresses. They are attentive throughout the customer’s visit, serving mostly small dishes, such as pastries. In more expensive, high-end maid cafés, the maids even go so far as to feed the customers, which seems demoralizing on both ends. To some extent, the maids become sexy maternal figures, feeding an expectant child in what seems like the ultimate sexual fantasy for men. However, the maid outfits are more cute than seductive, at least by American standards. Some maids enhance their uniforms with additions, such as animal ears; others speak in cartoonish, high-pitched voices, emphasizing their youth and cuteness. The maids are a unique crossbreed of geisha and Hooters’ girl, tantalizing the dominantly male patrons without using actual sex or cleavage. But they indulge their customers in many other ways. According to Wikipedia, services may include ear cleanings and hand or foot massages, which seem unsanitary in a dining facility. The cafés feature interactive activities as well, such as posing with the maids in photo shoots or watching animated shorts and dubbing over the characters’ voices with the patrons. Though some customers come for the sexual undertones, many customers, both native and tourist, visit for the novelty of the cafés. For alternate sexual preferences, Japan also offers butler cafés, but they haven’t become as popular. Due to the sexist ideals portrayed by places like maid cafés, some girls rebel through alternative fashions such as ganguro. Ganguro, which literally translates to “black face,” is a type of fashion originating in the 1990s which consists of bleach blonde hair, tan or almost oompa loompa-orange skin, and white or pale makeup on the lips and eyelids. Ganguro also wear bright colors and usually don many accessories, including facial stick-



ers and necklaces. Such a style defies strict Japanese culture and its limitations on the pale, docile Japanese woman. Though Ganguro is not exactly common, it does exist, especially in areas like the famous Harajuku district of Tokyo. The origin of ganguro is unknown, but some speculate that it might have originated in the popularity of black celebrities such as Janet Jackson in the 1990s. Their style is also similar to that of Southern Californians. Because of their intensity and unnatural-


The maids are a unique crossbreed of geisha and Hooters’ girl...

ness, these Japanese “California girls” really are unforgettable. An extreme form of ganguro is yamanba, in which girls use even darker makeup and wear even brighter, neon clothing. In fact, yamanba finds its namesake in Japanese folklore—it comes from a mountain hag with similar features. The Japanese also have other interesting ideas about what is attractive. Also known as yaeba, snaggle teeth are considered cute for women in Japan. They are extremely common, partly because of genetics, and also because the Japanese don’t emphasize cosmetic dentistry as much as Americans do. Crooked teeth are also common in children, so it may also be popular because it gives women a youthful, innocent look. Snaggle teeth are culturally accepted and encouraged in Japan, and even professional models, who are supposed to be epitomes of beauty and perfection, sport them as though completely normal and attractive. Snaggle teeth can be extremely alarming to American tourists who are used to straight teeth and don’t understand the appeal of crooked teeth. There are few American celebrities with snaggle teeth, except maybe Kirsten Dunst. Another exotic fashion fetish is kegadoru, translated as “injured idol,” in which girls wrap themselves in bandages and eye patches to look badly hurt. Followers of this trend enjoy the attention from men who tell them they look cute. Cute indeed. The bandages make a girl look helpless and almost infantile—an extreme version of the damsel in distress. It probably also indulges the sexual fantasy of the doctor-patient relationship, since the girls need immediate assistance from the able, male passersby.

Also, most outfits simply consist of scanty wraps, leaving little to the imagination. But their outfits are so exaggerated that it is obvious that they are uninjured. If they actually needed that much wrapping, they wouldn’t strut around in broad daylight displaying their bandages like peacocks. Even the colors have different significances. White bandages are pure and virginal, while black is naughtier. Kegadoru brings female desperation and attentionseeking cries to a new level—but perhaps they aren’t such a far cry from the skanky outfits that American girls often wear out on weekends. Finally, deeper in the shady realm of female objectification, lies underwear vending machines. According to, these machines are not a myth. Though they were banned in 1993, they definitely did exist, and maybe still do, in porn shops and other similar establishments. These machines dispensed underwear—previously worn by Japanese schoolgirls. The panties sold for about $50, with higher values for pairs that were worn more often. Though the consumers, probably dirty old men, never had direct contact with the users of the underwear, they were sexually stimulated by smelling the underwear or through other such obscene handlings. They had pedophilic fetishes called bura-sera, translated as “sailor suits” (in the style of most school girl uniforms, i.e. Sailor Moon). They were enchanted by schoolgirls because they were unadulterated, though ironically, they were buying their soiled underwear. Though Americans may not understand and even laugh at some of these fads, the Japanese perception of beauty and female sex appeal is very different from the American perception. Many trends depict Japanese women as child-like, sexual objects. While Americans normally prize maturity and age as part of a woman’s sex appeal, the Japanese are obsessed with youth. Their ideals generate corresponding behavior and trends that Americans find bizarre because they don’t share them. But then again, the Japanese probably wouldn’t understand the American obsession with Guidos either.


zooming out

photo and layout by NATASHA BUNZL

Daily Life Every morning, I wake up early to do my hair and makeup. I have to look great every day for school, because I am just SO so popular. I curse out anyone who bothers me. I cause a lot of drama and I make sure to spread nasty rumors about anyone who doesn’t like me. After school, I go to the tanning salon to get my best, orange look. Afterwards, I hit the gym to get the perfect body to impress everyone at the club. You can’t be a grenade or a landmine, can you? A New Jersey native myself, I know that this is usually the opposite of what really happens in the day-to-day life of a Jersey Girl. Every morning, I get up with 10 minutes to spare, hastily get dressed, get my books together and run out the door. Once I arrive at school, I hold open the door for everyone on their way to class. I greet people I know in the hallways. I try to stay away from any drama, because it’s pretty aggravating. After my classes I sit down and start my homework, because I can’t really be failing school, now can I?

Our Attitude I’m also an extremely rude and violent person. I have a very temperamental personality. Did I mention I hate drama? Except when someone says something nasty about me, then I have to say something back. I like to party a lot and talk to everyone I meet, and I flirt with all the boys I see. I don’t really focus much on schoolwork. The best part of my day is usually after school or between classes when I get to talk to my friends. But at the end of the day, school is really boring, and it only causes drama. I live for the weekend and going out! Again, this is a common misconception of New Jersey residents. The weekend is great, but we put value in school and work. There is more to the personalities of Jersey girls and guys than what is portrayed by The Situation and Snookie. We are not all angry, violent, drama-causing people. Some are social and others aren’t. Some like to go to parties every weekend, while others just sit around and watch movies.

The Truth about New Jersey Though people like the characters on Jersey Shore do exist, the majority of New Jersey residents are normal people just like all other Americans. The super-tanned and overly dramatic guidos and guidettes of Jersey Shore have created an extremely negative stereotype of the people of my state. When introducing myself to people, I sometimes mention that I am from New Jersey. This is usually met with an immediate, “I’m sorry!” But why should they be sorry? “People need to get to know the state in a different light. There’s so much more than that stretch of shore that New Jersey has become notorious for,” protested Andrew Chamorro, Ithaca College student and Jersey native.


No Ju An


Bed Add


m y G s t a R IN DE

Regions of New Jersey

t st gry ng



North Jersey is marked by malls every few miles and features its fair share of shopaholic residents as a result. This region of the state also tends to be very crowded. One might think that this could cause problems, but as a North Jersey native myself, I see the crowd as a chance to get close to many different neighbors. Amanda Del Sontro, a southern New Jersey resident and Ithaca College freshman, is also proud of her home state. “I personally love living in New Jersey, or rather, the very specific planet that is South Jersey. The area I live in is considered the boondocks, and it’s kind of in the middle of nowhere, if such a place in New Jersey exists, but it still manages to be in the center of everything. Within twenty minutes of my house, I have the beautiful and very rare environment of the Pine Barrens, a few colleges, a major city with a casino, multiple malls and the boardwalk. It’s all so convenient.” Many tourists flock to South Jersey on weekends or vacations, and for good reason. Central Jersey also offers a lot of great places and people. Some members of Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are from Central Jersey, Middlesex County and Freehold. Princeton University, an Ivy League institution, is also located in Central Jersey, and famous physicist Albert Einstein spent a good portion of his life in Princeton. With that much diversity, I have trouble understanding how someone can lump all people from New Jersey into the category of fistpumping, angry, tanning-bed-addicted gym rats.

And a side note about BENNYs Besides the fact the stereotypes are outrageous, the majority of the Jersey Shore cast aren’t even New Jersey residents, but are instead party-addicted tourists. Most actual New Jersey residents, like Del Sontro, show an extreme distaste for these guidos and guidettes. “Those people aren’t even from New Jersey. They’re what we down the shore call BENNYs, which is an acronym for the cities in the north where tourists usually come from. It’s not what you’d call a term of endearment, per se—a BENNY is someone with a penchant for obnoxious partying and trashing the coast. The common chant is “BENNY GO HOME!” According to Amanda, a “BENNY” is the abbreviation for Burlington, Edison, Newark, New York and Yonkers.

Message to readers:

All of you Jersey-haters, stop hatin’. I am proud of my much maligned home state, and I am proud to say that I have absolutely nothing in common with the orange drama-queens of Jersey Shore.


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Do you





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2 kitsch magazine

fter a breakup, a friend of mine Swarovski-crystalled my precious lady and it shined like a disco ball…All women should vajazzle their...vajayjays.” After Jennifer Love Hewitt, queen of every teen film of the late 90s, told George Lopez (and practically all of America) about her new nether decorations, everything from newspaper articles to YouTube videos began chronicling the bizarre—but oh so erotic—phenomenon. Though there is no Wikipedia page on the trend, the official vajazzling site,, states that vajazzling is “the act of applying glitter and jewels to a woman’s nether regions for aesthetic purposes.” The site goes on to explain the process more fully, with an extensive list of resources and FAQs about the entire experience. Still, a website can only go so far. After reading about it for so long and seeing Swarovski crystal after Swarovski crystal on this webpage, I decided to try it myself. I could become vajazzled one of two ways: I could do it myself or have someone professional hold my hand through it. Admittedly, I was very afraid of attempting any sort of decorative acrobatics on my “precious lady,” so I figured it would be best to have a professional accompany me on my journey to vajazzled spunkiness. And since informed that Ithaca’s very own Proper Puss offered the service, I called and made an appointment. The fateful day came. I arrived, my naughty bits lightly exfoliated and packing enough baby wipes to service an entire delivery ward at Cayuga Medical. I was nervous, of course, but at the same time, savagely curious for what was to go down. Let me just start by saying, Proper Puss is the most elegant establishment in all of Collegtown. Hell, in all of Ithaca. The store is decorated in shades of purple, gray, and black with damask print and kinky tchotchkes—very chic, and more importantly, very clean. But, ultimately it was the staff that made the trip

worth more than just a sparkly muffin. I have never met a more delightful, kookier, or more legit group of people. I knew my operator for maybe a couple of minutes before she started her work, but I felt like I had known her my entire life. I felt comfortable and sage which is very important—especially when the little voices in the back of your brain are screaming “MISSION: ABORT!” I lay down on a table and took off to Brazil, so to speak. Women need to be clean and clear before the professional can begin the vajazzling. It hurt a lot. I say this as bluntly as possible because, really, why talk around it? The woman was gentle and sensitive, but I just have a low pain tolerance. After I stopped crying from the pain of a Brazilian wax, I was wiped down, an adhesive was applied, and the stones were fitted to my vulva. It feels kind of strange at first, having some stranger’s hand touching you down there, especially when there are sticky crystals involved. But because the aesthitician was so nice and so conversational, I got over the initial awkwardness pretty quickly. Besides, you only notice the slight, sticky pressure at first. And finally, a good fifteen minutes later, voila: my vagina was a mound of Swarovski crystals in the shape of a star. Even beyond the Brazilian, I was quite surprised by the results. Yeah, it felt weird having a cool gel and crystals applied to a spot down where the sun doesn’t shine, but beyond that, it wasn’t that bad. Besides the initial awkwardness, I actually felt supremely sexy. As I put my panties and jeans back on, the feeling of the crystals nearly disappeared. For a second, I wondered if I had gone through with the experience or if I had just come out of a fainting spell. I could barely feel them. Throughout the afternoon, I almost forgot that I had them. Every time I went to the bathroom, though, it was like unveiling my own private disco ball. It was condensed awesomeness. It’s been five days since then. Unfortunately, this sprinkling of vaginal magic only lasts that long—my star has faded into an awkward series of triangles. Still, I liked the results, and if it weren’t for the 25-dollar vajazzling fee paired with my lack of funds, I would do it again. Why? Because it made me feel like the treasure that I am, damn it! I felt powerfully sexy, and sexily powerful. I had a sparkly vagina, and no one knew! Except for me, of course. If you’re at least a little bit curious, I encourage you to give it a try. Even beyond the undoubtedly obvious glamor of having glittery genitalia, you’ll feel just a little bit naughty because no one is privy to your secret. Except for you. And those with whom you choose to share it. Plus, it’s not like vaginas are exposed all the time. I—as well as women everywhere—might as well add a few extra special effects to the show.

art and layout by CATHERINE SCHRAGE

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Teach For


Returns to Detroit HARISEN KARDON

art and layout by LAIYEE HO


In America, educational inequality starts early and gets progressively worse over time. Children living in low-income households are already two or three grades behind their higher-income peers by the time they reach the fourth grade. Teach for America strives to improve the quality of public education for children in low-income communities. According to Teach for America, these children are predominantly children of color, who also face the burden of society’s low expectations and discrimination. Through the program, over 20,000 teachers strive every day to reshape schools and their policies in order to help these children break what Teach for America’s website calls the cycle of “unequal education.” These teachers, called corps members, are

Bland, superintendent of Detroit Edison Public School Academy, agrees: he called Teach for America’s move to Detroit “a critical step forward” for public school students in the area. Moreover, many community groups, including the Skillman Foundation, who are also lead investors in Detroit’s chapter of Teach for America, contributed 1.5 million dollars in funds to encourage and support the organization. These community groups believe the program will not only bring great teachers to the area, but also will also provide educational opportunities for deserving students citywide and reform the region to bring brighter students to the district. In order to effectively integrate this program into the community, Teach for America’s local partnership will be with the

Teaching for these two years... is a challenging but rewarding experience

committed to the program for two years in one of thirty-nine urban or rural areas across the country. Teaching for these two years in a low-income community is a challenging but rewarding experience that allows these teachers to gain leadership and management experience, both of which are essential for success in any field. Detroit, Michigan, is one of the areas in which Teach for America is implementing educational change. My twin sister, Evan, attended boarding school in Interlochen, Michigan, for several years, so I am familiar with the Detroit area. During my stays there, my family and I often visited struggling communities in the city and saw firsthand the lack of educational tools and facilities in these areas. Schools were run down and in dangerous neighborhoods, and it was evident these communities needed immediate support to help their youth. When I learned that Teach for America was restarting their program in Detroit, I was relieved to hear that there would be changes for these children. The program will bring 100 top college graduates to several of the region’s highest-need public and area charter schools, according to its website.

University of Michigan. As a Top 40 university, it will promote high standards for students both in and out of the classroom. Elson believes this collaboration will also encourage University of Michigan students to support the organization and even become involved after graduation, as the University is known for its “innovation in education and its focus on preparing teachers for urban schools,” according to its website. Supporters of this mission hope to make the bond between Teach for America and Detroit a lasting one, and gaining enthusiasts and teachers from within the community is one of the best ways of doing so. Overall, this initiative is expected to dramatically improve the quality of education in low-income communities in Detroit. The success of this mission is key for expanding the prestige and reputation of the organization, and will serve to encourage other communities to collaborate with Teach for America. However, at this stage in the mission, it is too early to determine whether or not significant progress will be made in Detroit’s education system. The local government and the Detroit Federation of Teachers are concerned that teachers from the organization will take jobs away from local teachers. Adding to their concern is

This initiative is expected to dramatically improve the quality of education in low income communities Maria Elson, a citizen and teacher in Detroit, is anxious to see what changes Teach for America will make for her community, as the initiative plans to return to the area for the 2010-2011 school year after a seven-year absence. In an interview, Elson noted that her public school district is continually looking to partner with successful organizations in order to improve her community. According to the Teach for America website, Ralph

the high number of layoffs: over 1,000 in the last year alone. Additionally, Congress is formulating next year’s federal budget and may cut funds currently allocated to Teach for America. Nonetheless, Teach for America will work with the money it is given, and I look forward to returning to Detroit in the next several years and seeing the progress towards educational equality and improvement in the schools.


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Dichotomy Religion at the





University of America art by KATY BRAUN layout by JEE LEE


here is it that drinking games and intoxication are banned, and sex is potentially punishable by suspension from school? I’ll give you a hint: at some of these institutions, modesty dress codes are enforced, there are curfews and visiting hours, guests of the opposite gender have to find a different friend to stay with, and men and women cannot live on the same floor. No, it’s not prison—it’s a Catholic college. Now, I don’t mean to imply that a college like this is completely uninhabitable by anyone but nuns. Obviously, a large number of students attend institutions like these. And of course every college has its own distinct set of rules. Every school falls into a different category of stringency—interestingly, Christendom College in Virginia is more strictly Catholic than the Catholic University of America. (By that, I mean that they do not let their students watch R-rated movies, and there is no “intervisitation” between the men’s and women’s dorms.) Still, I had trouble imagining that students seriously comply with all of these rules and so I decided to put this theory to the test. My American “separation of church and state” belief has raised me with an equally


REBECCA LUCASH strong “separation of church and education” mindset, so I knew the first thing to do was a bit of background research So what exactly is a Christian college? I found the perfect article: “What is a Christian College,” by Floyd V. Filson. He very concisely explained “A Christian College is one which seeks to make all its life an expression of intelligent loyalty to the historic Christian faith.” I don’t think that sounds like a bad goal. It doesn’t imply any dark and sinister purpose; just a simple desire to help students find themselves and to help them grow up to lead constructive lives as good Christians. I was with Filson right up until he said: “the over-individualistic habits [and] the fragmentation and compartmentalization of life, and the tendency to assume rather than actively foster a framework for life... are no longer possible; these things must go.” At that point I became a little creeped out; Filson’s poor word choice aside, his point is clear. A Christian college is one that seeks to make the faith pervasive and relevant in all aspects of a student’s life. (A minute clarification is probably necessary. A Christian college is not necessarily a Catholic one, but I decided to focus specifically on life at Catho-

lic universities.) Already, however, I was beginning to see a conflict. In today’s world, is it really possible to have faith included in every aspect of a student’s life? And, if a modern-day college student isn’t thinking about Christianity while drinking at a party, what is he or she thinking about? Furthermore, how do Christian colleges use discipline to enforce their rules? I decided that my fall-break visit to Catholic University of America (CUA) would be the perfect time to find out. After a five-and-a-half hour drive, I stepped out of my car and into the shadow of the largest Roman Catholic church in North America, known as the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. “Don’t worry,” the s t u -

dents assured me, “no one calls it that.” The massive building serves as a constant reminder that this is a Catholic institution. The reminder is surprisingly necessary. It’s a college campus, just like any other. The students go to classes (or don’t), hang out in the dorms, and party like the rest of us. No one is overbearingly religious, and religion doesn’t seem to have a large impact on daily student activities. When asked if religion plays a role in his life on campus, a CUA student (hereafter referred to as X) admitted,

“Not really, I try to go to church on Sunday but sometimes that doesn’t happen... sometimes the profs pray before class starts. But I kind of like that, I think it’s neat—makes me feel like I’m in the Middle Ages.” Overall, it didn’t seem like Catholicism was the main reason students choose to attend CUA. The decision for him, said X, was based on “mostly location and reputation. I wanted somewhere that wasn’t Florida and wasn’t too far north, and I’m Catholic so I figured what the hell.” I found this surprising given the stringency of the rules that the CUA administration expects students to adhere to: namely, a blanket ban on premarital sex, a 12 a.m. curfew for visitors, and quiet hours starting at 10 p.m. It

seems CUA is split into two groups: the people X refers to as “Bible freaks” (also known as the “God Squad”) and the “normal kids who just want to party on a Friday night.” It would be unfair to concede to X’s claim that the CUA campus is so sharply dichotomous. From my own experience, the division certainly exists, but I would hesitate to use the same language that he does. Some students follow the rules more absolutely, abstaining from alcohol and premarital sex. The “holier-


zooming out and men of other faiths and those who have no religious preference.” The hope is ultimately that seeing people who live good, Catholic lives will encourage the less religious (or even those of other faiths) to “enter into full communion with the Catholic Church.” Students who are not Catholic have the option to opt out of emails related to the Catholic faith (about holidays and mass services), but at the same time they are still encouraged to attend spiritual events. The administration seems to have trouble with the dual nature of their campus, but has a practical approach. For instance, the school bans premarital sex but also provides a guide to pregnancy resources that does not once mention marriage, and includes post-abortion support. Meanwhile the guide stresses that, “...consistent with its pro-life stance and its nondiscrimination policies, the University encourages students who do become pregnant to continue their studies and retain their on-campus housing.” So if you do become pregnant (because condoms are banned on campus, and the pill is allowed only for medical purposes), you can’t be kicked out of your dorm. But you can be removed from housing for having premarital sex. The basic message is that students are expected to adhere to the Catholic standards of the school, but if that doesn’t work out, the school is fairly understanding. The administration is not on a witch-hunt. While RAs are on a mission to catch students drinking, no one I spoke with had ever heard of someone being written up for having sex. I think the students themselves are doing a good job balancing both the religious and anti-authority sentiments evident on campus. It isn’t easy to party and enjoy life when your nextdoor neighbors are praying for your soul. The administration sends conflicting messages of accepting the faiths of others and yet maintaining a Catholic atmosphere on campus, so the students have to find a balance on their own. Since it is the Catholic University of America, the Pope visits on occasion when he is in D.C. The result for CUA students is a week off from classes. Some students go home, some stay to hear the Pope speak, and some buy ten cases of beer for their very own “Pope-apalooza.”

“ So

than-thou” aura these students have isn’t really their fault (we all know which of us is going to Hell), though it does create some uncomfortable moments when you can feel judgment radiating from a silent stare. The end result of the school’s moral and behavioral codes is not an overly effective one. CUA’s code of student conduct states that an “authentic Catholic community is born of deliberate ongoing commitment from every student to live in accordance with Catholic values and expectations.” I would argue that CUA has yet to attain this goal, but not for lack of trying. The administration firmly believes in and stands behind the campus rules, and they aren’t the most puritanical or unreasonable expectations for a Catholic institution. Banning premarital sex makes sense at a religious institution, and underage drinking is an issue at every university. The problem lies in the lack of unity between those who follow the rules and those who do not. Even here at Cornell we have an underground drinking culture and RAs who seem a bit overzealous when they write you up. At CUA, however, X noted that the RAs seem to “think they’re doing God’s work by getting you in trouble... I’m not going to say I wasn’t doing anything wrong, but they made up stuff to make it worse.” The conflict becomes not one of authority versus the student, but religion versus the student, and this strengthens the distance between the more religious students and the ones who are less so. X has reached the same conclusion: “the Bible freaks judge the shit out of you and insist that they are better because they don’t drink... In addition, the administration believes in this, and an unfortunate side effect... is a sharp division among groups on campus, i.e. there is no community.” Furthermore, freshmen and sophomores are required to live in on-campus housing, stressing the division between the more and less conservative students who could otherwise be voluntarily separated by living space. Living together in close quarters only strains the issues. So what is to be done? There is no quick fix for the situation. It is clear that disciplinary action against rule-breaking students only pushes the conflict underground, and any drastic rule changes by the administration might risk the integrity of the religious attitudes CUA tries to foster. X conceded that the school makes an effort—“they try and inject wholesome values and have Sunday school-esque events on campus,” but he also believes that “they leave out one thing, and that’s fun.” That said, CUA’s mission for campus events is to foster “holistic development by providing co-curricular educational opportunities and learning experiences for students.” School sponsored events aren’t known for being the most fun things, but the fact that CUA is trying is a good start. By uniting the campus at events, CUA attempts to teach its students to “contribute to the common good, and respect and value differences among ideas and people.” Clearly the administration recognizes the divide on campus between its students. As long as the University continues to admit students who find themselves at odds with a religious atmosphere, such a divide will continue to exist. Wouldn’t it then make more sense to simply let in only Catholics? Well, maybe, but the school believes, “A person’s religious preference or lack thereof is not in any way considered a factor in the admission process of The Catholic University of America. Everyone at Catholic University is expected to respect women


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l A a i r o t r a S From

Crocs Bad Juicy Uggs

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Hit Lis t






Track s


Fashion faux pas that should have been burned long ago. JAMES FAIRBROTHER


art and layout by JAMES FAIRBROTHER


he subject of many Facebook groups, Crocs have become a significant player in the global attack against our eyesight. I don’t care how comfortable they are, you look like a dumbass. No one past the age of seven should be wearing shoes to which you can attach Disney characters. To top it off, the “genius” who decided to make them in yellow must have a serious cheese fetish, because wearing those things will attract all the mice within a five-mile radius.



anal Street may be heaven for some, but the knockoffs need to stop. Why would you spend $40 on a poorly-made bag with some “C’s” not-so-cleverly made into “G’s” when you can buy a bag that actually looks good from a real, non-“designer” brand for the same price? Not all knockoffs are equal, and some do look like the real thing. But buying a fake will devalue the real brand and make you a fraud. And in some places, like Italy, you

can be fined not just for producing the fakes, but also for buying them. That’s a new definition of “buyer beware.”


Bad Logos

hile we’re on the subject of God-awful logo reproductions, let’s discuss the idea of the logo itself. René Lacoste was the first to place a logo on the outside of clothing when he introduced “le crocodile,” and that is where it should have stopped. A small insignia on the breast of a shirt is one thing, but oversized, repetitive lettering is another affair entirely. If you are going to spend a small fortune and give up your first-born child for a designer bag, then at least buy something that is well-designed and actually looks good, not just an item designed to have the largest surface area in order to fit on as many little letters as possible. I am so sick of seeing “LV” hanging from the arm of every other girl that walks by, and frankly, the Coach pattern looks like shit. Don’t design a logo if it doesn’t look good.


watch & listen


Juicy Tracksuits

all it what you will: tacky, skanky, unrefined, the downfall of civilization as we know it, but the Juicy Couture tracksuit is public enemy number one. It is a blight incurred on humanity that many have yet to acknowledge, or worse, have embraced whole-heartedly. Who came up with the bright idea that hot pink velour looks good on ANYONE (pun intended)? Oh yeah, that same person who then said, “Hmmm, how can we make this more trashy? I know! Let’s spell out the word JUICY in fucking rhinestones across our asses! And then market them to annoying-as-shit 12-year-old girls and their bleached-blonde, middle-aged mothers!” To quote Lucy of Peanuts fame: Good grief!

...the Juicy Couture track suit is public enemy number one...


Leggings as Pants

ycra and spandex are great for running. They keep you comfortable, wick away sweat, and totally make you look like a hardcore athlete even if you only work out once or twice a week because you ate too many cookies that day and feel like a fatass. It’s when people decide to wear these leggings as pants on a regular basis that it becomes a problem. Throw on a dress, a skirt, a parachute, something, please! Apparently camel toe is the new black. Camel-flauge underwear shouldn’t have to exist.



h, the mini dress and skirt. When that one girl walks by who can pull it off, heads turn, boys drool, girlfriends get jealous, and relationships crumble. Case in point: Heidi Klum. She has proven time and time again that with great legs and a waistline most of us can only dream of, this look actually works. But even she knows that there is such a thing as too short. Hence, the reason the micro-mini is on this list. Not only is it too short to serve as anything other than a headband, but far too many women think it actually looks good. Borrowing the term from Chelsea Handler, no one really wants to see your Pikachu. Witnessing the lady lumps of Paris, Lindsay, and Britney was quite enough.


A Sartorial Hit List


Harem Pants

t’s one thing to embrace your inner child. It’s quite another to try and emulate Jasmine in real life. Harem pants form possibly the most unflattering silhouette in existence. No one can rock these baggy, low crotch bundles of fabric except Gwen Stefani. If you happen to be Gwen Stefani and are reading this, rock on.


Fanny Packs

hat faux pas has become so universal as to be manufactured in both fluorescent neon acrylic and supple Gucci calfskin leather? The fanny pack, that’s what! Before I even discuss the bag itself, let’s talk about the name. The words “fanny” and “pack” in no way, either solo or in combination, evoke an attractive image. In fact, it sounds more like something a donkey would wear on a trek across the Grand Canyon. As for the bag itself, one might argue about its practicality and easy access with minimum hindrance of motion. But have you looked at the damn thing? Way to give yourself a belly pooch, even if you didn’t have one before. No brand could ever make the fanny pack attractive, no matter how good the quality of the craftsmanship or materials might be. And since when is a cross-body bag so much greater of a burden anyway?


Five-Finger Shoes

recent trend, many have discovered the supposed wonders of the Five-Finger shoe. Anyone remember toe socks from growing up? Well, now there’s a shoe to match! I’ve heard many

people that own them praise the amount of comfort they offer, but that begs the question, “Are you blind, or were you just suffering from temporary insanity when you bought those?” Anyone who has seen these in action knows they are hideous. I don’t care if they’re the closest you can get to walking barefoot, or how good they supposedly are for posture and health. If there were ever a time to pick fashion over function, this is it. If I had to choose between these and a pair of 8-inch YSL platform stilettos to wear for the rest of my life, I’d probably choose the stilettos. And I’m a guy.



ast, but certainly not least: the perennial plague that is the Ugg boot. These things have been popular for over Ten. Fucking. Years. That, my friend, is not a trend. That is what we call an epidemic. They were designed to keep surfers’ feet warm at the beach, not for you to prowl the mall as you swarm Hollister Co. and Abercrombie & Fitch. They might be warm, but you can’t wear them in the snow or the rain because the damn things aren’t even waterproof! That just makes for the most impractical winter boot ever created. Yet somehow, despite the awful design aesthetic and uselessness in weather warmer than 40 degrees or when there is a chance of precipitation greater than 12%, these boots keep coming back season after season. Even Jimmy Choo has “designed” an Ugg collection at this point. As an article so rightfully described them, Uggs are the cockroaches of the fashion universe.


Honorable Mention

he oompa-loompa, orange-glow spray tan. Hello Snooki, goodbye class.


watch & listen art and layout by LAIYEE HO

How the Other Half s ALEKSEY BOYTSOV


acebook has become the de facto platform for online social interaction in America and is vying for a similar position in other parts of the world. But despite its efforts to internationalize by adding new languages (with over one hundred currently available) and to move beyond the website’s original functions by using countless applications, Facebook doesn’t quite have the unchallenged monopoly it aspires to. In fact, the past few years have seen the rise of many other social networking websites, both American and foreign. Some appeal to specific interests, a few are intended as one-for-one Facebook replacements, and others are foreign copies trying to export and adapt the idea. One of the earliest and most controversial of these foreign “fakebooks” is the German social network StudiVZ (short for Studentenverzeichnis, meaning student directory), which was launched in 2005. The original website targeted only university students, but eventually expanded to include a high-school version, SchülerVZ, and another for non-students, MeinVZ. Each website features a design clearly adapted from Facebook, although lacking the trademark blue color scheme (allegedly chosen by Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg due to his red-green color-blindness), and instead opts for red, pink, and orange. The color change, however, is certainly not enough to obscure the website’s inspiration. Various features make it obvious, from its Buschfunk (meaning something along the lines of “grapevine,” but read “News Feed”) to its built-in instant messenger, not to mention the left-hand menu featuring certain familiar options (“Home,” “My Profile,” “My Friends,” etc.), albeit all in German. StudiVZ even treads on hallowed ground by copying the much loved (and loathed) Facebook “poke,” which becomes “gruscheln”—a portmanteau of the German words for “to greet”


and “to cuddle.” If that weren’t indication enough, some of the website’s error messages reference a directory called “/fakebook/.” Like it or not, it has paid off—the website now hosts over 16 million users. With popularity, however, comes controversy. StudiVZ has received its share of criticism for its similarities to Facebook. Zuckerberg himself can hardly be said to have invented the concept of social networking concept from scratch. However, his creation has become the new model, and there is no doubt that StudiVZ applies that model overzealously. In fact, StudiVZ fought off a lawsuit from Facebook on charges of “counterfeiting” in 2008. The lawsuit was found in favor of the German website, mainly on the grounds that it was launched long before Facebook itself was known in Germany, or even translated into German. Germany is not alone in possessing a domestic Facebook competitor which has outmaneuvered the real thing. Russia also has its own social network, VKontakte (literally, “in contact” or “in touch”). Accessing the website is like stepping into a time machine and travelling back to when was The website’s interface bears a striking resemblance to Facebook’s appearance several years ago, almost as if it had been frozen in the mid-00s—and yes, in blue. It is even more of a copy than StudiVZ is, and it proudly flaunts the features it presumably replicated from Facebook. Far from being a stagnant copy, VKontakte is a living, vibrant, and very active community. With over 90 million users, it is the largest social networking website in Russia, and has expanded considerably since 2008, when I joined it to track down elementary school friends. VKontakte currently comes in 50 languages, some of which—like on Facebook—are novelties or jokes. For

example, choices include a 19th-century pre-revolutionary version of Russian which makes one feel like a character in a particularly anachronistic Tolstoy novel, and a cheeky Soviet theme, which renames a user’s profile page into the “Dossier” and the News Feed into “Cominform.” VKontakte feels a lot less private than Facebook. It ignores the idea of networks and makes one’s profile searchable and viewable to all other members by default, though privacy settings can be changed to forbid this. This can lead to a barrage of spam and unsolicited invitations from unknown users. In that respect, VKontakte sometimes feels more like MySpace wearing a Facebook skin. Also like MySpace, VKontakte incorporates media on its website. It is interconnected with a number of other Russian services, like the subtly named YouTube knockoff, RuTube. VKontakte has become widely accepted in Russia. Some companies have even begun using it to send job offers, a concept unfathomable and probably rather undesirable to most Facebookers stateside. That’s not all, of course; there are plenty of other websites. Some are relatively large, like the Chinese Renren Network (formerly Xiaonei), which has taken advantage of China’s periodical blocking of Facebook to grab 22 million of its potential users. Others are intentionally small, like, which requires a valid

“good old days” before Facebook was opened to high school students. Still, despite all the complaints, relatively few users have actually left Facebook to join the new website. Most of today’s college students were in fact the beneficiaries of Facebook’s decision to include high school networks in 2005. Another service, Diaspora, vents its frustration with Facebook’s privacy policy and markets itself as a transparent, decentralized, open-source alternative. It is currently in the public alpha testing phase. It must be said that there are also many users for whom Facebook groups and fan pages just aren’t enough. For them, the Internet has a cornucopia of networking websites targeted at specific interests or subcultures, whether those interests are books (, green living (, or vampires and all things gothic (, targeted at fantasy fans, is something between a Facebook-style social network and a deviantART-like creative community. For those involved in the jet-set lifestyle, is a self-described “private international community of culturally influential people,” or as one website nicknames it, “Snobster.” Another example is the UK-based musical social network allows its users (of which it has over 40 million) to engage in an activity termed “scrobbling,” namely importing statistics from their computers and MP3 players to create a da-

Facebook doesn’t quite have the unchallenged monopoly it aspires to

Norwegian phone number to register, or the Spanish website Tuenti, which has gathered millions while sticking to an inviteonly system. These websites are serious rivals to Facebook, and sometimes are more popular it within their countries, and they shouldn’t be taken lightly. On the other hand, many of the foreign “fakebooks” are now defunct. Some have survived by carving out new niches to avoid losing their users, gradually distancing themselves from Facebook, such as in the case of Desi Martini, which drastically changed its layout and is now primarily a movie review website. Facebook’s near-monopoly at home may also be threatened. Enter: Google. The company dabbled in social networking once before with Orkut, which failed to take off in the U.S., but its previous forays have been more side projects than serious challenges. It is now seeking to extend its influence with a new product called Google Me, which is intended to add a “social layer” to existing Google functionality and link it all into a social network. The title seems like a reminder that, after all, “to Google” was a verb before “to Facebook.” It’s too early to tell whether Google Me will just pass by like Google Wave or Buzz, or whether it will prove to be a real rival to Zuckerberg’s creation. Smaller services are also attacking Facebook by capitalizing on its unpopular changes and privacy issues. Collegiate Nation, which has been in development for a couple of years, lifts Facebook’s basic functionality, but makes it a point of pride that only college students with a .edu e-mail address are allowed to register—an obvious shout-out to all those who still lament the

tabase of their musical preferences. There are some who gain a kind of insight from tracking their little musical obsessions and perennial favorites, or glancing surreptitiously at that bizarre week in January 2007 that was spent listening to nothing but Kraftwerk and the Fiddler on the Roof soundtrack (the Topol version, obviously). The website also features user forums devoted to discussing artists, concerts, and, yes, like any social networking website worth its salt, its own squabbling about new layout changes. Some find it heartening to have these smaller websites to turn to when Facebook becomes too much of a buzz, and a few users, like this writer, even manage to find a significant other in the process. In an environment that prizes online integration and consolidation, it’s too easy to see such diversity as a bad thing. One could interpret the popularization of social networks oriented towards specific interests or countries only in terms of Facebook’s failure to fill those niches. This is not necessarily so. In one form or another, Facebook is here to stay, but its drive to be everything for everybody may just be self-defeating. As it comes to monopolize our online socialization in some areas, it will shift from its original purpose (as it already has in many respects), and other websites will move in to take its place. In that respect, its destiny may not be so much world domination as symbiosis. The present might be as blue as that treasured original layout, but I predict that in the future, the Internet will still have a place for all the StudiVZ’s and Elftowns of the world.


watch & listen




re you a cowboy who smokes? No? Well, are you sure you’re really a man? After all, the iconic symbol of American masculinity is the Marlboro Man, and anyone who doesn’t want to be like him must be a pink-loving communist, the ultimate in male femininity. An abundance of advertisers seemed to have found, en masse, that men are perhaps an even more valuable and easily manipulated audience than teen girls. Turn on the TV and your masculinity is immediately assaulted. Does the idea of bacon and cheese between two pieces of chicken appeal to you? It does to the five men appearing in a commercial for the KFC Double Down. Their voices—squeaky and high pitched—sound like they could have been plucked out of a classroom of thirteen-year-old boys, but they suddenly become deep and authoritative once they’ve consumed the block of solid fat and sodium (32 grams and 1380 milligrams, respectively) that KFC markets as food. Clearly their product can turn you into the manliest of men, or, at the very least, can fix your voice after inhaling too much helium. Or perhaps you’ve stumbled across ads for Old Spice, one of which is succinctly summarized on their website as, “We’re not saying this body wash will make your man smell into a romantic millionaire jet fighter pilot, but we are insinuating it.” Although it’s unclear how one can “smell into” something, clearly you aren’t a “millionaire jet fighter pilot,” so naturally manly soap is the only way to go. The actual commercial contains lines alluding to the inadequacy of men who use “ladies’ scented body wash,” while the competent actor uses men’s scented body products (an oddly specific claim). Just what makes this product manlier than any other? Is it the sodium laureth sulfate? Or is it the manly magic of methylchloroisothiazolinone? To find the answers to these questions, I posed them to several chemical engineers, and was assured that these are wimpy and somewhat effeminate compounds, and that they are often picked on by the more masculine chemicals. Clearly, it’s not the ingredients that make this soap so manly. I continued my search for answers, and many hours of diligent research later, I discovered that the actor in the Old Spice advertisements is none other than Isaiah Mustafa, a former NFL athlete. Many may wonder, as I did, how they could have failed to recognize this individual. The answer may lie in the fact that he is wearing a negligible amount of clothing. Considering the attempt by the advertisers to evoke the envy of male viewers


by stomping over their lady-scented egos, it’s curious that Old Spice chose to have Mustafa wear nothing but a towel. It seems the only way to make a man doubt his masculinity even more must be to get him to devote his attention to a nearly nude man, and then to cause him to think about what that man does in the shower.

Clearly, it’s not the ingredients that make this soap so manly.

Although clearly satirical, it’s hard to doubt that within this ad, and other ones like it, is an attempt to play off of legitimate insecurities. When teen girls are the target audience, spokeswomen are chosen because of how beautiful, thin, and busty they are. After airbrushing and altering the image, these models are representations of an unattainable and inhuman level of perfection, playing on young girls’ lack of self-esteem. After all, what teenage girl can compare to an airbrushed Annalynne McCord, who has graced the pages of Seventeen, or Vanessa Hudgens and Angie Harmon, two of the many spokeswomen for Neutrogena? Advertisers try this on men, too. Perhaps the emasculation felt by breadwinning men from the decline in the economy combined with America’s rising obesity rate to form a “perfect storm” in which men particularly doubted their masculinity. That storm, similar to the effects of puberty on teenage girls, created an audience that can be too easily manipulated to pass up.

Regardless of the reasoning behind the sudden upsurge in manliness marketing, the effect is ubiquitous. In a bizarre twist, advertising has begun to influence the product; now many industries are trying to present a manlier image. This phenomenon has even begun to take over that last enclave for men who are less than manly: fashion. According to New York Magazine writer Mike Vilensky, “real men” are “in”, and, as the editor of GQ comments, “[In fashion] the twink thing seems over.” Gone are the days of the lanky, waif-like male models that seemed to stay in vogue long after the height of “heroin chic.” Models who resemble nothing so much as preposterously tall preteen boys, such as Alex Dunstan, have dominated fashion week shows of many leading fashion houses, including Burberry, Dior, and Prada. One can find others like him gracing the covers of past issues of Vogue, and dominating the ad campaigns of yesterday. But now, models such as Gabriel Aubry, the decidedly masculine star of the modeling world, have taken their place. This temporary fixation (by the fashion world, at least) on thin, tall, gaunt men may even be responsible for the changes that have occurred in men’s sizing. Women everywhere have long known the evils and wonders of vanity sizing. For those who are not yet familiar with it, vanity sizing is a magical process used by manufacturers that makes it possible for women to be a size 00—which, I’m told, is “more zero than zero”—or for someone who is really a size 14 to wear size 10 clothing.

Now, men too can be a part of this phenomenon. Adam Sauer, of Esquire’s style blog, recently found that in many stores, men’s pant sizes may be labeled as smaller than they truly are, with Old Navy’s pants taking the cake (and letting you eat it too, apparently) by being a full five inches larger than labeled. This fad may not last if the return to “real men” continues to grow and overtake the androgynous trends of the photos by HELEN HAVLAK past decade. Who exactly is this man whose masculinity is so much more real than everyone else’s? Prior to the introduction of skinnier models in the early 90s, almost all male models were actually the beefy, rugged men who are making a comeback today. As it turns out, recent models whose twig-like physiques we embraced were only a passing distraction, a diversion from what we really want: big manly men. We’ve started to return to traditional representations of masculinity; we’ve chosen the metaphorical Jacob over the metaphorical Edward, and now “real” men are back with a vengeance. Although the commercials for Old Spice and KFC seem somewhat absurd in their depiction of masculinity, the originally “limited time only” Double Down has been added to the permanent menu, and the sales of Old Spice’s products, after the release of their ads, are double what they were at this time last year. Clearly, someone’s buying it.



ng i H d o n p E e f y u p l p s: a H Perpetuation of the watch & listen

Prince-Charming Prototype



lot of girls hope for a doctor or business-owner type to sweep them off their feet. I, on the other hand, won’t settle for anything less than Prince Fucking Charming. The high doses of fairy tale endings and happily-ever-afters with a perfect man in a glorious mansion that were spoon-fed to me as a child have carried over into my adult love life, impinging on my quest for True Love. In addition, I have been sorely disappointed to discover that “charming” in this world means , “a man who doesn’t break eye contact for more than three seconds to gaze at your bosoms.” And even though I eventually grew out of the oneday-my-prince-will-come mindset, an ember of hope for Mr. Perfect is kept burning by the allure of romance movies and stories. These romantic media have become my go-to drug whenever I’m feeling cynical about men. They lift my spirits and make me hopeful again. I turn back into that little girl who thinks life would be perfect if I could just find that one special boy who would serenade me while riding on a flying carpet, fighting cephalopodic villainesses and liberating me from my evil stepfamily, all with the effortless swish of his glorious hair.


But after watching a love film or reading a romance novel, I am not in my right mind. I mentally abandon the real world to become a citizen of the make-believe world where my lover is flawless and always says the right things at the right time. And then the high fades, and I grudgingly step back into reality, to which I carry over my hopes that every guy I have a connection with will be my Aladdin. We can all agree that finding an ideal man is highly improbable. But, Hollywood romance flicks continue to fill our heads with false hopes for that one-in-a-million leading man. Take, for example, Jack from Titanic. Cute? Check. Charismatic? Check. Artistic? Check. Willing to make steamy, forbidden love to you in a parked jalopy? Check and a winky face. But how often in real life do you hear of love-at-first-sight stories that are as dynamic and blissful as the one between Rose and Jack? Never. And take Noah from The Notebook. He’s sensitive, hard-working, has a big heart and goes above and beyond for his Allie, reading to her every day to jog her Alzheimer’s-affected memory of their life together. On top of that, he built her dream house with his

own two hands. Show me a man like that and I will… well, try to steal him from you. Lastly, let’s not forget Gerry from P.S. I Love You, who sent his wife letters that would inspire her and help her move on after his imminent death. This man literally wrote love letters to her from the grave. Seldom do even live men write love letters these days. Still, Hollywood can’t be blamed for using the sappy stereotype: pseudo-reality sells. Romance flicks perpetuate fantasies that seem attainable and realistic, but in the end, they are still fantastic. Movie makers target women and girls who have been conditioned to believe in happily-ever-after with Mr. Perfect, feed their fantasies, and consequently, women uphold nearly impossible standards for men. These movies then become an addictive remedy for the pitfalls of real-life romance and restore whatever misguided optimism we might have had for a cinematic love affair. Whenever I am disappointed with the entire male population, I gloomily wonder, “Where in the world are these Jack/Noah/Gerry types hanging out?” And before I conclude that they don’t exist, I try to reassure myself by saying, “Well that’s what this heroine thought before she met Mr. SoAnd-So and he revived her faith and changed her life, so maybe

there’s still hope.” Then I pop in a chick flick and the vicious cycle continues. Although I thoroughly enjoy a good love story, they give women unrealistic standards for men, which is unfair to us and to them. Looking for the perfect man rarely works, mostly because no one can live up to the masculine ideal we have derived from men in the movies. Instead we should take it easy and let the right guy find us. Romance movies and books are good entertainment, but they shouldn’t affect our perception and standards in real life because they will lead us to a disappointing and possibly lonely future. In the end I think it’s great to believe in a literal sweep-you-off-your-feet kind of love. And it’s okay to wish for a handsome 6’ 4” doctor who writes you love songs on his guitar while riding on his white horse and can also cook, but we should be just as eager for and accepting of the idea of an average looking, non-dragon-slaying guy who, if nothing else, can only figuratively sweep you off your feet and make you laugh like no one else can. Not everyone gets to experience knockyour-socks-off love, because many times they overlook Mr. Right in their search for Mr. Perfect. So when it comes to love, choose to release some of that fantasy and grasp what’s real.

Where in the world are these Jack/Noah/Gerry types hanging out?



watch & listen photos courtesy of JANE ALDRIDGE and SEA OF SHOES.COM layout by MEAGHAN MCSORLEY

ont Row Fifteen andof theFr Iconic Fashion Blogger The Rise



ccording to the ever adorable Taylor Swift, age fifteen was a time “when all you wanted was to be wanted,” when your days were likely filled with the typical, mundane trivia of teenage life. However, these preoccupations are not universal. For a few, an average day as a teenager may consist of attending exclusive runway shows in the company of socialites and the executive editors of magazines. 18-year-old fashion blogger Jane Aldridge now ends her days in elaborate hotel rooms in fashion Meccas around the globe. For Aldridge, and hundreds of other bloggers just like her, the explosion of the blogosphere has led to a newfound acceptance for this young fashion blogger, even among the famously exclusive fashion elite. Aldridge’s new-found status as a fashion icon provides a shining example of the growing power of blogs. In April 2007, she was just another fashion-obsessed fifteen-year-old from Texas, but then she decided to start a blog called “Sea of Shoes.” She regularly updated her content, featuring personal outfit choices, commentary on designer collections, and images that sparked her stylistic imagination. It was not long before Aldridge developed a following. In March of 2008, Jane was interviewed for a short spot for Teen Vogue. She has now been featured in Vogue alongside her mother, Judy Aldridge, whose blog “Atlantis Home” is equally noteworthy, as well as in Vanity Fair, Elle, and an assortment of fellow blogs, who seem as obsessed with the young blogger as her readers. Today, Aldridge’s blog gets an average of 70,000 hits each day. Ms. Aldridge has reached near-celebrity status, and her star power extends further than most would think. In March 2009,


Aldridge published a post explaining that she had just received an email from Kanye West, who complimented her on a recent blog post and informed the very flattered girl that he was among her many dedicated readers. In 2009, Vogue introduced Aldridge to the organizers of the famous Crillon Ball in Paris, where she was debuted. A half-century-old tradition, the exclusive debutante ball has presented to society such wunderkind as Amanda Hearst, Scout Willis (daughter of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis), and a slew of European princesses. In addition to this elite invite, Aldridge also received a personal invitation from Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel’s head designer and a legend in his own right, to be fitted in a Chanel Haute Couture gown for the occasion. An aspiring designer herself, Aldridge has been recruited by both Urban Outfitters and Gryphon. Aldridge’s shoe line is already available online at, and the trench coat she designed alongside her mother will be available this fall. All this comes from a girl who graduated high school just this past year. Jane Aldridge, however, is only one of thousands of bloggers who publish their take on fashion and style on the web. Street-style photographer Scott Schuman was recently called the “style-blog godfather” by Bazaar’s Derek Blasberg. Schuman’s blog “The Sartorialist” was created in September 2005 and is considered ancient in terms of the ever-changing blogosphere. Far surpassing Ms. Aldridge, Schuman boasts an average of 120,000 visitors each day. At 41, Scott Schuman now has a monthly GQ column, a six-figure book deal with Penguin (to which his 2009 book The Sartorialist can be attributed), and was named one of Time magazine’s Top 100 Design Influencers

in 2007. These incredible accomplishments are in addition to his thriving photography business (Schuman has shot for Vogue Paris, Elle, GQ, and Esquire) and his primary occupation as a style blogger. Another young star, Tavi Gevinson, began blogging at the age of 11 for her blog “Style Rookie” in March of 2008. In 2009, Gevinson made waves as the youngest member of the fashion press attending New York Fashion Week. With an exceedingly mature and often groundbreaking sense of style, the now 14-year-old Gevinson has already appeared on the cover of Pop magazine, helped the clothing brand Rodarte release their Target line, and has a column for top fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar. At 4’11”, the tiny titan intends to continue working in fashion when she grows up. Schuman and Aldridge are among a not-so-select group who now consider updating their blog a full-time job. These style mavens earn considerable livings through advertising, selling their photos, and even providing their services as photographers, stylists, and guest designers. According to the Kelsey G r o u p , Dodes estimates that online ad revenue will reach $27.3 billion in 2010, with continual growth expected annually. This means that many more bloggers will be able to retire from their nine-to-five jobs in favor of writing new posts. The world seems wide open for this new fashion breed. According to the Wall Street Journal, chief executives of Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, and Bergdorf Goodman were relegated to the second and third row at the 2009 Dolce and Gabbana fashion show while fashion blog-

gers made their way to the front rows. The fashion industry insiders now look to the bloggers, but this was not always the case. Insiders looked down upon the accessibility of blogs, the creative license they allow, and the open dialogue that blogs create between bloggers and readers. But the very factors which once hindered blogging’s mainstream acceptance are now the same factors considered most valuable. Fashion bloggers can especially thank small designers for their initial inroads. These designers were early in their recognition of the valuable exposure that the blogosphere provides. In 2003, only one year after the creation of the first fashion blogs, a fashion blogger was invited to New York Fashion Week. It was not long before bloggers were seated in the fourth row at shows such as Bill Blass. By 2006, 40 bloggers had received personal invitations to attend the most exclusive runway shows at New York Fashion Week, and this September scores of bloggers from all around the country were seen flooding New York City for the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. Over the course of the past decade, the blogosphere has truly exploded. Its origins can be traced to the early electronic bulletin boards of the 70s and 80s. With the advent of the World Wide Web in the early 90s, the first web logs (eventually shortened to blogs) appeared. Beginning in 2003, when less than 1 million blogs were thought to be in existence, the number of blogs doubled every six months until 2006. Today, there are over 112 million blogs, with that number continuously climbing. As Karen Kay of Mail Online (the online version of the British newspaper the Daily Mail) so eloquently put it, “These days, to have one finger on the fashion pulse, you need to have the other one on your computer mouse, reading (or writing) the latest blogs.” The fashion blogger has become a powerful fixture in the once insular world of fashion that will not be going anywhere any time soon.

Aldridge’s new-found status as a fashion icon provides a shining example of the growing power of blogs.


watch & listen art by CHARLES WANG

Robots Like that Can’tSing A history of auto-tuning — from pop stars to news anchors


our lipstick staiiins…On the front lobe of my left side braiiins…” By now, pretty much anyone who listens to the radio should recognize this lyric from Train’s recent hit “Hey, Soul Sister.” The song has been played repeatedly on nearly every station since it was first released, and it’s easy to see why. Aside from its popular (if overused) subject matter, “Hey, Soul Sister” is one of the catchiest songs around; even people who claim to dislike it at first eventually find themselves singing along whenever it’s played. Personally, I’ve always loved “Hey, Soul Sister.” When I first listened to it a few months ago, I even remember saying, “Wow, this singer is awesome!” as Pat Monahan’s upbeat chorus blared from the radio of a friend’s car. However, my opinion of Monahan


RYAN LARKIN changed in mid-July. This was due to a horrifying incident that showed me just how misguided my statement had been: the 2010 MLB Home Run Derby. When I turned on my TV to watch the derby, Train happened to be performing “Hey, Soul Sister” live for the crowd at Angel Stadium. Though I had watched the song’s music video a couple of times on YouTube, I had never before seen it performed live. A few seconds later, I found myself wishing that was still the case. The song sounded so unspeakably awful and out of tune that it was barely recognizable. For a moment I even wondered whether Train was being parodied by some unfunny stand-up group — it was really that bad. Later on, I searched YouTube for other live renditions of the song in an attempt to convince myself that

Pat Monahan had simply been having an off day. Every video I found was just as bad as — if not worse than — what I had seen. The sad truth is that Monahan relies heavily on pitch correction software when singing “Hey, Soul Sister.” The software, more commonly known as “Auto-Tune,” disguises off-key notes in the radio version of the song and enables Monahan to reach notes that he would ordinarily be unable to hit. The song that was performed at the derby was indeed the same song that I heard at the beginning of the summer — it just lacked the smoke and mirrors that made it pleasant to listen to.

Ke$ha, T-pain...and the “Cher Effect”


uto-Tune is not new to the music industry. It has become an omnipresent technique applied to virtually every major pop or rock release on the market since the release of Cher’s 1998 single “Believe.” But the thing is, most people don’t notice it. Unless it is used to an extreme extent, Auto-Tune creates no noticeable jumps or skips in a person’s voice when it corrects a pitch. Because of this, people are often misled into thinking that certain singers have more talent than they actually do. Earlier this year, for instance, Taylor Swift was nominated for a “Best Female Pop Vocal Performance” Grammy for her song “You Belong With Me.” Though she didn’t win, she did end up performing the song alongside Stevie Nicks later that night. Her performance has since been panned by critics and fans alike. And who can blame them? It was awful. It might even have been worse than the performance Train gave at the derby. Swift was so incredibly off-key that she was actually difficult to watch — a shame, since Ryan Seacrest had just finished describing her as a “remarkably gifted singer.” The fact that she had been nominated for her vocals only deepened the irony. Taylor Swift may have won four Grammys that night, but she disappointed anyone who might have believed her to be a natural talent. Not all artists try to be subtle about their use of Auto-Tune. Singers like Ke$ha and T-Pain are well-known for adjusting the software to give their voices an artificial, robotic quality. One of the benefits of this technique is that it creates great techno and dance music. However, it requires absolutely no talent to use. A robotic voice is produced whenever consecutive tones are adjusted without the natural slide of a human voice added in to bridge them. Since there is no need for a flow between notes,

artists looking to distort their voice can do more than just sing out of tune — they can abandon effort altogether and speak their lyrics rather than sing them. One YouTube group known as The Gregory Brothers noticed this back in April 2009. At this time, they launched their hit web series “Auto-Tune the News,” a show featuring Auto-Tuned news clips set to catchy background melodies. Each episode ends with a mock award given to the “Best Unintentional Singer” to appear in the video (previous winners include Katie Couric, Ron Paul, and Barack Obama) as Michael Gregory jokingly sings his now-famous line: “Everything sounds better Auto-Tuned!” The popularity of “Auto-Tune the News” soon led The Gregory Brothers to begin Auto-Tuning other things as well. They’ve Auto-Tuned ads, video game scenes, and even an old speech by Martin Luther King Jr., but by far their biggest success has been in Auto-Tuning viral videos. The “Double Rainbow Song,” created from a well-known video of a hiker reacting enthusiastically to a double rainbow, became so popular that it was eventually released on iTunes, where it reached #74 on the pop charts. A subsequent effort, the “Bed Intruder Song,” became even more popular and reached #3 on the R&B charts. This is pretty remarkable considering the song is based on an interview with an overzealous witness describing a rape attempt in the projects of Alabama. But is the music industry’s recent obsession with Auto-Tune worth ambivalence over the industry as a whole? Sure it makes the songs on the radio sound amazing, but at the same time it blurs the line separating true musical artists from talentless art and layout by CHRIS MOE hacks. If Antoine Dodson (the guy who “sings” the Bed Intruder Song) can compete with Usher in terms of popularity, what does that say about the level of skill needed to be a professional singer? The Gregory Brothers are making good money off of songs that have been created entirely through Auto-Tune — this is not very different from what the people backing so-called “artists” like Ke$ha and T-Pain are doing. Furthermore, it is becoming very difficult to distinguish one Auto-Tuned song from another since every track on the radio seems to have perfect pitch. Everything may sound better Auto-Tuned, but sometimes I like hearing an offkey note that reminds me to appreciate the perfect pitch when it comes.


Fiction & poetry

Booty Call Breakfast JOSH TURK

You, my friend, are breakfast, a meal that I typically don’t eat. I can’t decide whether I think that you are Frosted Flakes, a banana, or dry, uncooked bran, but whatever you are, I can guarantee I don’t eat you all that often, if at all. Occasionally, I enjoy a late night stop at the nearby diner to slurp a cup of coffee or some toast and eggs. These are the times that I pause and think maybe you could be what I’m looking for— I know that I won’t marry an English muffin. I might want a light salad or salmon fillet, but I’ll keep you in my phone in case I get drunk and want you as a fall back snack.




Moving Man


Take a breath backwards, nail the knell of the bell to the wall alongside moments hands hold until they remember they can forget them in boxes. Roll your eyes back to last April, forget how I left you faded freckles above my lip, the unconsidered inflection of hips; I thought you would seem dierent lying down; but memories are only what we— Remembering to handle with care I reset the hands and pull back tape, brush aside foam peanuts inside a just-painted room. The faces in the photos look younger. The clock sounds the same.


Fiction & poetry art by KATHLEEN JERCICH

Second Coming An op-ed column in the form of a poem

JOSH TURK Amidst the heavy pounding of techno beats at the newest gay bar in Chelsea, the stench of sexual depravity hung like a cloud over the heads of the grinding, half naked men. Here no one’s ugly, everyone’s horny, and pill residue makes the bathroom counters appear fogged— or maybe that’s the amount of vodka in the veins of the faggots and freaks who frequent The Gloryhole, rated “worth the cab fare” by the New York Times, and the subject of Michael Musto’s last column. In a glittery burst of smoke and glamour appeared the man of the night: that’s right, none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. My inevitable moment of judgment after this night of debauchery would be better than my usual unhappy epiphany the next morning. Jesus looked good for someone who died 2000 some odd years ago. He wore His standard uniform: loincloth and sandals, this time the small bit of fabric was custom by Marc Jacobs. The sandals? from Balenciaga’s latest collection.


Sidebar here: I never could understand that if Jesus is the perfect man, how can He cover the Family Jewels with such a small cloth— but perhaps he tucks like the drag queens.

second coming

The Son of God made the following declaration:

“Hey Bitches! I’m back and better than ever! I know I never said when I was coming out—I mean back, but I wanted to wait for the perfect time for the Farewell Tour. At least now that Cher’s tour is over all you fabulous fags are free again!” This is His tactful way to address booking problems causing His second coming to be delayed for so long.

“I’m the original Helen Keller, I survived worse shit than she did and I’m not signing about it.”

He then declared he was here to judge us all, but not to be a bitch about it.

I decided that maybe Jesus wasn’t just fabulous, but simply divine! Next? the best PR stunt I’ve been witness to: He not only said He was picking up the tab but that all water was miraculously vodka— a better choice for the gays than wine I think. the Man with the Power decided not to make snappy judgments about all of humanity— which might cause Him to lose support in the Midwest. Instead of instant judgment, Jesus decided to think it over on His upcoming weekend in the Hamptons. For updates on Jesus’s whereabouts and to keep up with what he’s doing follow him on Twitter (@TheRealSavior)


Fiction & poetry


“A pair of powerful spectacles has sometimes sufficed to cure a person in love.” -Nietzsche



lone, Antonio sat at his kitchen counter, smoking his Gauloise. He felt sexy. His life was meant to be like this: solitude, his only company Leonard Cohen’s voice echoing out of his parents’ record player. A physics textbook sat next to him but the shine in the cover and flatness of the pages declared that it had never been used. Instead Antonio read Nietzsche’s Ecce Homo. “The demand to be loved is the greatest of all arrogant presumptions.” As he repeated this sentence over and over, he began to smile. Waiting a minute, he pulled a last drag from the cigarette and picked up the phone. After a few rings, he heard her voice, hesitant, excited, and intimidated. Antonio loved this power, he emphasized the deep sing-songy quality of his voice within his words; phone seduction at its finest. He stared at his distorted reflection in the stainless steel


refrigerator, half-heartedly listening to her blabber. She had just gotten out of the shower. He almost commented on her inevitable nudity, but instead decided to fabricate a dream from the previous evening. He embellished it for her, tailored it to enhance her adoration. He was well aware that her infatuation with him relied on his constantly asserted cultural superiority. So he spun his imagined dream… a window, her standing in front of it, silhouetted in an airy green dress, sipping an absinthe champagne cocktail at noon. Suddenly, she catches sight of a dark figure, throws her flute on the cherry wood table, and runs into the verdant yard. There, a big band plays percussive tunes into the evening, solely for her enjoyment. The dark figure turns as the door opens, and he stands in front of

her with open arms. Finally, they stand together, observing the sunset over the Atlantic, smoking cigarettes galore. He heard the click of her smile over the line. The trick had worked. But Antonio did not like to think of his elaboration as deception. It was probably just a fluke that in his sleep he had not produced a great Gatsby-like dream. Last night, maybe his fantasy was more Brigitte Bardot1 on the beach, but who’s to say Helena would catch that reference? He needed to simplify, become more mainstream for her. She probably would not understand the connection, the fact that he had fallen asleep to the sound of Serge Gainsbourg’s2 voice. Suddenly his meditation on his own cultural awareness was interrupted by her voice. “We belong in the twenties Antonio. ” All of a sudden she no longer sounded attractively vulnerable, but instead young and clueless. Sometimes the fact that he was the source of all the romance in their love exhausted him. Even if she were more emotionally invested, was it fair that he had to provide all the content? He was not impressed that she had understood that he was talking about the 20s. Any gradeschooler would have understood the reference. She sounded like an overzealous dolt, a doting girl plump with desire. He wanted to slap her. His rank needed to be established. He imagined her sitting in the bathroom, embarrassed and alone—so fragile. This image usually pleased him—his vulnerable, ignorant girl. But today her weakness irritated him. He clenched his hold around the telephone cord, and then released it, leaving a breathless hum on the line. He wanted the silence to debase her. Her voice cracked into the line, as she attempted to recover the conversation, his attention. Antonio took another

Gauloise out of the pack that Helena had sent him while on her trip to France just a week before. A thoughtful gesture, he noted. He realized it was time to grant her a glimpse of hope. “I miss you,” he cooed to the receiver. But instead of her responding to this with an “I love you” or a “you don’t know how much I miss you too,” as usual, Antonio heard “Really?” echo over the line. Her abject concern struck him, caught him off guard. Unexpectedly, he felt a pang of sympathy poke at his chest, much like her hot finger once did, a long time ago. This was a forgotten emotion. He was unsure of how to respond; before he could savor this moment his thoughts were interrupted by a clamor from the telephone speaker. After a breath, he heard her shaky voice echo over the line, weak and suggestive of tears. “I am naked and bruised.” “What the hell did you do?” he snapped. “I just slipped and my towel dropped.” She paused. “Antonio, why do you always trip me?” He forced himself to giggle at her and said, “We’re on the phone, I couldn’t trip you if I wanted to.” He almost wished he could just reach out to her, as he heard muffled sobs, but could not bring himself to be nice. Antonio never liked breaking a beautiful thing, especially not one he had created. In that moment, before thinking about his words, he said them. “Helena, you would not be intrigued by me if I were different.” He said this and then he hung up the phone.

I am naked and bruised.

1 French model, actress and singer of the 60s. 2 French pop star of the 60s who meddled with Bardot,

before marrying Jane Birkin. His most famous song is perhaps “Je t’aime… moi non plus,” which was banned in several countries. The title means “I love you… me neither.”


Fiction & poetry



bluebottomed night wrests its way through caustic pavement cracks it rests: heavy, holding, hushed sound folded into its creases i spoke once, inkstained tongue toxic fetters by lips with no nerve endings, teeth of tin took hold and split there is bone in the grass, gunmetal grazing like a half slaughtered sheep i can lie down now

temporal tempest (a commentary on masculinity) JILLIAN SCOTT

she roars and she sways; connective root systems torn limb from limb. turned masts within a sea of swollen leaves, he waits for an end to gales as hostile frost chokes the blossoming azalea. “time, as he grows old, teaches many lessons.�



art and layout by HELEN HAVLAK

The rain



was working away, crouched over my desk, when from behind me I heard the wet sound of departing lips. I turned around and noticed that my landlady had lodged herself in the corner of my open closet. She was undressed, and in the pale light of the rainy day, the grooves of her wrinkles were outlined in shadow. She remained silent and only smiled without showing her teeth, her eyes lit up pure white by the pale light of the rainy day. “What?” I stuttered, but then became afraid that my words might ruin the significance or poetry or whatever it was that was growing between us. So I stared, and she stared, and she didn’t move and never stopped smiling. I thought I should do something, and searched for cues as to what that might be. But all I saw was her smile, and so naturally I approached her and kissed it, and we made love in my open closet under the pale light of the rainy day. When we were finished, she coughed to clear her throat and slid up her pink and white panties. I lay defeated against the wall of my open closet, staring out at the rain which was, in my opinion, striving madly to stop the sunlight from reaching me, shooting down with violent persistence so as to make up in strength what it lacked in opacity. And I smiled at its failure and at the futility of its desperation, at the dryness of my safety and the clarity of my room, surrendering myself fully to the august afterglow of my orgasm. It was only when I heard the turning of my rusty doorknob and the definitive sound of my door being closed, that I realized my landlady had made her exit.


Fiction & poetry




Sunday morning we get dressed for Church like always. I wear a floral smock and nylon pantyhose like mother would, brush my curls in bold strokes like fellswoops. In the bristles are tumbleweed knots from the hidden parts of my wicked hair. Down the hall, Father’s door is open; He stands in front of a mirror frowning at his other, red-faced, eyes still shining from the night before. He weaves a long leather belt into his dress pants like a snake, pulls it so tight that, for a moment, I can’t breathe. At breakfast I look for the word of God in the alphabet of my milk. Thorny windows crown the tops of the church walls, I think so God can look in to see if our heads are down. Sleepy boys sing slowly, hymns kiss my eyelids closed and I begin to dream, hair spilling on the back of the pew, soft. I think of Christopher from next-door and that tingle below my belly when he held my hand. I see us on the swings, pumping higher until I fall off, head lurching. I wake up when my face smacks the Bible. On the cross, a man looks at me in pain, his black eyes say I have sinned. Holy Father. Holy, holy. Amen.




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The Minor in Inequality Studies The Minor in Inequality Studies allows undergraduate students of all colleges to supplement their studies for their major with a coherent program of courses oriented toward the study of inequality. The concentration is appropriate for students interested in government service, policy work, and related jobs in nongovernmental organizations as well as students who wish to pursue graduate education in such fields as public policy, economics, government, law, history, psychology, sociology, anthropology, literature, and philosophy. To enroll in the minor, please download an application from our website,, or stop by the CSI office in Uris Hall, Room 363. Our email address is The website provides current information on the minor, sample tracks of study, as well as CSI programming in general. 76


Kitsch Magazine - Fall 2010