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Study Breaks magazine is published twelve times per year by Shweiki Media, Inc. copyright 2012. All rights reserved. This magazine may not be reproduced in whole or in part in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or hereafter invented without written permission from the publisher. Reproduction or use in whole or in part of the contents of this magazine or of the trademarks of Study Breaks Magazine, Inc., without written permission of the publisher is prohibited. The publisher assumes no responsibility for care and return of unsolicited materials. Return postage must accompany material if it is to be returned. In no event shall such material subject this magazine to any claim for holding fees or similar charges. Study Breaks magazine is an entertainment magazine for the students of San Antonio, San Marcos, Austin and Lubbock, published 12 times a year. Corporate Office:

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NO T E F R OM T HE E DI T OR | by mark stenberg

By and large I’ve had the same New Year ’s Resolut ion for the last several years, which is to use less toilet paper and fewer t issues. It comes f rom some weird t ic that ’s scrambled my ment al sw itchboard and makes me conf use env ironment al stewardship and personal hygiene, which leaves me feeling const ant ly g uilt y and dir t y. More pressingly, in pract ical terms they ’re t wo of the worst goals to hold yourself to in terms of account abilit y, because you don’t want to keep t rack of either product af ter you’ve used it, which means that my dat abase for Tot al Quant it y Used is always just a really self-forgiv ing ment al est imate. On the bright side, in 2015 I once again reduced my tot al usage in half, f rom one toilet paper and one t issue, to half a toilet paper and half a t issue. And while it might be too early to call, 2016 is already look ing a lot like the Year of the Quar ter. And since I’m clearly st ruggling w ith my ow n Resolut ion problems and should hardly be considered an oracle of self-help, instead of t r y ing to paw n of f some plat it udes about the New Year New You, I’ve opted to share t wo shor t stories that I think about a lot and do wonders in helping me pull of f the world-wear y ennui v ibe that ’s so on t rend in 2016:

Editor-In-Chief @MarkStenberg3

“A las,” said the mouse, “the whole world is grow ing smaller ever y day. At the beginning it was so big that I was af raid, I kept running and running , and I was glad when I saw walls far away to the right and lef t, but these long walls have narrowed so quick ly that I am in the last chamber already, and there in the corner st ands the t rap that I must run into.” “ You only need to change your direct ion,” said the cat, and ate it up. --“A Lit t le Fable,” Franz Kaf ka

“There was a merchant in Bagdad who sent his ser vant to market to buy prov isions, and in a lit t le while the ser vant came back, white and t rembling , and said, “Master, just now when I was in the market place I was jost led by a woman in the crowd, and when I t urned I saw it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gest ure. Now, lend me your horse, and I w ill ride away f rom this cit y and avoid my fate.  I w ill go to Samarra and there Death w ill not f ind me.” The merchant lent him his horse, and the ser vant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in it s f lank s and as fast as the horse could gallop he went .  Then the merchant went dow n to the market place and he saw me st anding in the crowd. He came to me and said, “ W hy did you make a threat ing gest ure to my ser vant when you saw him this morning? ” “That was not a threatening gest ure,” I said, “ it was only a st ar t of surprise.  I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I had an appoint ment w ith him tonight in Samarra.” --The Appoint ment in Samarra,” W. Somerset Maugham Happy New Year!





C ON T R IB U T OR S S E C T ION | by study breaks staff



















01. Jacoby Bancroft

09. Gabi Gimson

Writer Journalism and Communication Studies

Writer English Literature Atlanta, Georgia

Reno, Nevada

02. Will Strecker Writer English

10 . K a r i n n a L o p e z Writer/Stylist Retail Merchandising Laredo, Texas

Denton, Texas

03. Alison Miller Writer Biology and Plan II

11 . A n d r e w W i l s o n Writer Plan II and Linguistics Frisco, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

0 4 . E l i j a h Wa t s o n Writer Journalism

12. Max Alspach Writer History Denton, Texas

El Paso, Texas

05 . M a d e l y n n e S c a l e s Writer/Photographer Journalism and Photography

13. Jake Harle Writer Supply Chain Management San Antonio, Texas

Richardson, Texas

06. Kara Roberts Writer International Relations

14 . S u n G o d Writer Journalism Milford, Connecticut

Cairo, Egypt

0 7. J o h n D a v i d W h i t e Writer Government

15 . C h a r l o t t e M c C l u r e Photographer Plan II Houston, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

16 . S t e v e D e m e n t 08. Michael Tyler

At tn. S tudent Wr iter s, Pho tographer s, and Graphic Designer s:

Writer Geography

Photographer Chinese and International Studies; MS in Athletic Training

San Antonio, Texas

Austin, Texas

Study Breaks is populated

primarily by student content,

which means if you’re a writer, photographer, or graphic designer and want to be

published, we are interested

in working with you. Whether you’re looking for a steady gig

or just a few bylines to beef up your portfolio, email mark@ with a few

samples of your work and brief summary of yourself.



T E X A S T O A S T | by mark stenberg • photography by ian friedel

TEX AS TOAST: MCDONALD’S MCMORPHOSIS “[The cleaning woman] thought that he was deliberately lying motionless, pretending that his feelings were hurt; she credited him with unlimited intelligence.” The Metamorphosis --Franz Kafka

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It occurred to me while I was eating my McMuffin on a muggy Tuesday night in a speckled McDonald’s booth, that there were two basic points of comparison between McDonald’s newlyminted All Day Breakfast Menu and the writer Franz Kafka. Later, another point of comparison struck me after rereading “Laughing with Kafka,” an essay taken from a speech that David Foster Wallace gave, in which he talks about

why it’s hard to understand Kafka’s humor. Here are the three similarities.


Despite the strong smell of chemical cleaners (a reverse barometer of a place’s resting state of hygiene: The more clean a place smells, the dirtier it is), I saw several bugs during my meal at McDonald’s.

The menu, which debuted countr y wide t o enor mous fanf are, abolished the 10:30am cur f ew

When my friends and I visited the restaurant, it was well into November and the “It’s Texas There’s Bugs” alibi that holds water during the summer was way past its expiration date. Even though none of the bugs were cockroaches, which—though Kafka never uses the word—are typically what critics and illustrators assume the narrator changed into in The Metamorphosis, I still made the mental association. The critters didn’t affect my eating experience per se, and since endophagy is the Protein of the Future anyway, I’d long ago accepted creepycrawlies into my heart and mouth as my larder saver. JANUARY 2016

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But like the no-see-ums flitting around my head, my synapses started firing. Bugs and Kafka are related because The Metamorphosis yes, but not exceptionally so—there are loads of other books buzzing with insect imagery. But there was another level of connection between Kafka and the Golden Arches, one that was a little more unique. You see, the whole reason that I had decided to eat at McDonald’s that night was because the restaurant had just unveiled its new All Day Breakfast Menu, and that particular coincidence

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led me to think about poor Gregor Samsa.


In Kafka’s novel, Samsa wakes up one morning to find that he’s undergone a massive change that makes him nearly unrecognizable (he’s turned into a bug). On October 6th, 2015, McDonald’s awoke one morning to find that it too had undergone a massive change that had made it nearly unrecognizable (All Day Breakfast Menu). Neither metamorphosis, in retrospect, appears to have been entirely well received.

The menu, which debuted countrywide to enormous fanfare, abolished the 10:30am curfew on McDonald’s breakfast items that had stood (in most locations) since Kroc first introduced breakfast in 1972. Though consumers had been clamoring for the cutoff’s abolition for years, McDonald’s had staunchly maintained that it was flat impossible to serve all-day breakfast. They claimed that since the same equipment is used to cook both breakfast and dinner—deep-fat fryers for hash browns and fries, griddles for eggs and patties, etc.—it would be a logistical

Unfor t unately, withou t hash br owns, the McMuf fin is no t much more than a cut e 5-bite snack

camel’s needle to offer both menus and still be as efficient as McDonald’s patrons had come to expect. When the dinner rush hit, spokespeople explained, it would be a simple matter of thermal and spatial impossibility to serve both. And for more than 40 years, that was that. But, as McDonald’s sales continued to drop, millennials continued to eat elsewhere, and the restaurant devolved more and more into what Boston ad agency Connelly Partners called “a piñata” brand, surprise, surprise—the restaurant suddenly found a way to make the impossible possible.

There are several important caveats to their raising of the spud limit though, the first and most flabbergasting of which is that many items that you know and love from the breakfast menu still aren’t served after 10:30am. For instance, although McDonald’s spokeswoman Lisa McComb (who I assume was handpicked for her McSurname) has said that nearly 90 percent of locations are selling hash browns all day now, my neighborhood Mickey D’s didn’t offer them, nor—as the vitriol of Internet trolls would lead me to believe—do many other locations.

Even more damning is what the Nation’s Restaurant News called the “Biscuit-McMuffin line,” i.e. the metaphorical line separating the McMuffin-scarfing North and the biscuit-munching South. Because many locations have trouble serving both all day, McMuffins rule most of the country while the “Biscuit Belt” of the South is a McMuffin dead-zone. Fortunately, my San Antonio location sold both, causing me to once again thank Sam Houston for situating Texas on the geopolitical fence, allowing it to pick and choose what exactly it wants to be Southern about. JANUARY 2016

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In addition to glaring menu lacunae, the McMorphosis is a massive, risky maneuver on the business side of things, and some franchisees are worried about the long-term ramifications of unfettered breakfast. A large reason for that concern is that breakfast foods on average cost less than dinner foods, so every customer who buys a McMuffin instead of a McChicken is actually dropping total McSales. This means that McDonald’s runs the risk of cannibalizing its profitability for an increase in volume, a backwards business move that’s really only justified by the PR brownie points that come

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from appearing to listen to customer feedback. What’s more, the all-day breakfast items not only diminish profit, they also push other, more profitable items off the plank. About half of the nation’s McDonald’s have already axed McWraps to free up space for pancakes and eggs. And therein lies the comparison: Like Samsa, not only has McDonald’s undergone a drastic, morningtime transition that’s startling and inexplicable—it’s kind of ugly. What’s the point of turning into a bug if you still have a human conscience—a man’s mind in a bug’s body will never work. And just

the same, what’s the point of putting breakfast items on the dinner menu if the options are limited, the bottom line suffers and fan favorites get chopped in the process?


At the end of his essay “Laughing with Kafka,” Wallace says to imagine Kafka’s art as a kind of door, with readers “coming up and pounding on this door, pounding and pounding, not just wanting admission but needing it, we don’t know what it is but we can feel it, this total desperation to enter, pounding and pushing and kicking, etc. That,



AND MANY MORE! Visit for more information JANUARY 2016

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finally, the door opens…and it opens outward: we’ve been inside what we wanted all along.” Wallace’s point (if you’ll allow for a quick and heavy reduction) is that Kafka’s humor is hard for most Americans—yes, specifically Americans—to get, precisely because we’ve been trained to think that humor is something that you “get.” In reality, enjoying a joke and understanding a joke are not entirely the same thing; case in point: there are few more effective

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ways to destroy humor than to dissect it (“Costello is mistaking the proper name “Who” for the interrogative pronoun “who,” etc.). To further Wallace’s analogy, the food at McDonald’s is a door that isn’t really there to be opened. This is because—and here’s the thing—it kind of doesn’t matter. Bold claim to say that a restaurant’s food doesn’t matter, I know, but think about it. You don’t really go to McDonald’s expecting good food. It’s there, to stretch the analogy a

little further, just so you can knock on it. Analyze too deeply, look too closely, knock too forcefully, and the door will open only to reveal that you’ve been inside what you wanted all along. Luckily for my crippling buyer’s remorse, I only came to this conclusion weeks after I had ordered a McMuffin sans hash browns ($2.79), a Sausage Burrito ($1.19) and a 3 Hot Cakes with Sausage ($3.39). The McMuffin, in all truthfulness, has long been my favorite item at

McDonald’s, so I was particularly excited about its All Day Breakfast ribboncutting. Unfortunately, without hash browns, the McMuffin is not much more than a cute 5-bite snack. The snack unpacked: The English muffin component of the McMuffin is far and away the best part of the sandwich. Even served at room temperature, there are few more rewarding textural contrasts than the muffins’ sandpapery tops, dusted with granular cornmeal, and their soft strands of sourdough cobwebs inside. The egg product, cooked à la astronaut in a Teflon ring, tasted like Styrofoam made from meringue, and the salt Frisbee disguised as a ham slice must’ve been portioned by a pig trying to stretch its comrades’ sacrifice. The cheese, so sue me, I removed. Taken together—as it must be—the sandwich is perfectly balanced in taste and texture, and could only be improved by enlargement. The Sausage Burrito tasted the way

food scientists have engineered things to taste when they’re “Southwestern,” which means a grilled red-pepper sweetness tinged with what Tabasco would taste like if it were raised by tomato juice that held down two jobs. The rubbery ham chunks, processed into jagged little polyhedrons, were the only thing that required chewing, as the scrambled egg slid clean down the throat hole as only baby-birded baby bird could do. The tortilla tasted like stiff tissuepaper cooked in cold air, and was the low point of the meal. The 3 Hot Cakes had a similar papery quality, sticking around in my mouth just long enough to prove that they were there, while the sweet syrup and chemically-heightened pork taste of the pork sausage reminded me of the food that you eat when you’re camping that makes you miss regular food. Call it the experience of McDonald’s, or the comfort of McDonald’s, or the

nostalgia or the convenience or whatever idea you want to affix the specific appeal of McDonald’s to, but one thing’s certain: You don’t go to Mickey D’s because of its Michelin stars. The food isn’t there to be “gotten.” We are talking, if you remember, about the most internationally lampooned restaurant in the world, the business that experts refer to as a “piñata” brand. A restaurant that serves food so inorganic and alien that mom-blogs have achieved deep Internet fame for photographing and chronicling its Chernobylesque rates of decomposition. And understanding that irony, understanding that the pleasure of McDonald’s is in the door-knocking and not the door-opening, is critical to realizing why the humor of it all is so perfectly Kafkaesque: McDonald’s, the most successful restaurant in the entire history of humanity, serves the worst food in the world. Das ist komisch. JANUARY 2016

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HO T JOY | by mark stenberg • photography by stephen dement photography

No Country for Lo Mein Hot Joy is doing some things to food that we’re betting your mouth is really curious about.

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I won’t do this often, I promise, but there’s one word that you need to know, and that word is bathos. It describes a specific kind of juxtaposition (some definitions use “anticlimax” as a synonym) where the highbrow and lowbrow intentionally collide, e.g.: “The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.” Hot Joy is bathetic. Many great restaurants are. Its food is an intentional mash-up of sophistication—in their technique yes, but primarily in their ingredients—and populism, again in their ingredients, but also in the informal, chillwave vibe of the restaurant. And the result of this ying-yang marriage—a litter of remarkably delicious inter-cuisine offspring like Spam-Fried Rice and Mac ‘n’ Cheese Ramen—is nothing short of a textbook best of both worlds situation. JANUARY 2016

Crab Fat Caramel Wings, A Diptych As told by Chef Quealy Watson

“I get a lot of inspiration from frequenting Asian markets, and last year I was actually able to go to Asia and doing nothing but shop. It just so happens that one day I found this jar of crab paste in oil—crab meat and crab fat that had been cooked down with spices, really—and I tasted it and thought, ‘Wow, that’s really intense and funky.’ But it turns out that if you put it inside something, then the f lavor spreads itself out and it turns into amazing umami. So it’s little finds like that turn into a lot bigger things, it was just an unassuming little jar, that I can say has helped me get to where I am today.”

“A little while ago, I was getting a new IPhone because my old one broke. So I’m making small talk with the guy helping me at the Apple store, and he asked what I did, so I told him that I work at Hot Joy. He got excited and said that he eats there all the time, he love the wings, and that a bunch of the Apple guys go there to eat. Then he says, ‘Yeah, but we have to tell people not to smell the wings before they eat them. We call them doo-doo wings. We say: don’t smell ‘em, just eat ‘em.’ So there’s that.”

CRAB FAT-CARAMEL WINGS 4 SERVINGS 1/2 CUP fish sauce 1 1/2 CUPS sugar 1/4 CUP thai crab (or shrimp paste in bean oil) 6 CUPS vegetable or peanut oil, for frying 1 CUP all-purpose flour 1 TSP. baking powder 1/2 CUP vodka 1 1/2 CUP corn starch 2 LBS. chicken wings, separated into wingettes and drumettes

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

1/4 CUP chopped roasted, salted peanuts Cilantro, tender leaves and stems, for serving


Bring fish sauce to a boil in a medium saucepan and cook until reduced almost by half (fish sauce will darken in color and become VERY fragrant/pungent), about 5 minutes. Add sugar and cook until a thermometer reaches 230° (mixture will be thick and dark, like a caramel). Remove from heat and whisk in crab paste; keep warm and set aside.

2. 3.

Heat oil in a large pot fitted with a fry thermometer to 350°.

Meanwhile, whisk flour, baking powder, vodka, 1 cup corn starch, and 1 3/4 cups water in a medium bowl.

Batter should be very thin, slightly thicker than milk and thinner than cream.


Season chicken with salt and pepper and toss in remaining 1/2 cup cornstarch. Shake off excess and working in 3 batches, coat with batter, then fry until chicken is a light golden brown and crisped (a thermometer inserted should register 165°), about 5 minutes.


Immediately toss into warm caramel, letting excess drip off. Serve topped with peanuts and cilantro. JANUARY 2016

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Chef Quealy Watson, the selfdeprecating and whip smart tinkerer behind the curtain, opened Hot Joy after working at the beloved-but-now-defunct Monterrey in San Antonio. In 2014, in one of the rare instances where something that’s called life-changing actually does change a life, Bon Appetit’s Andrew Knowlton placed Hot Joy on its Top Ten Restaurants in the Country list, famously calling Watson’s cuisine “dude food” and “stoner snacks.” Then, as publicity begets publicity, “stoner food” became the go-to epithet for anything made by a chef with an impressive CV and something with Fritos on the menu. While Watson himself doesn’t partake, he understands Knowlton’s reasoning for the titles. And while I also find the description helpful, it’s a smidge misleading. And while neither of us is Knowlton literally—no one in their right mind would think that a stoner could

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cook any of Hot Joy’s dishes—the phrase does have the unfortunate side-effect of downplaying the amount labor and meditation that go into Watson’s food. In a lot of ways, cooking is like writing: You have to learn the rules before you’re allowed to break them. And in that vein, Watson’s cooking is a lot like Hemingway, in that its approachability isn’t a sign of childishness or simplicity, it’s a sign of mastery. Making exotic food accessible, finagling scary ingredients like kecap manis and crab fat into friendlier forms with familiar faces like sour chili ranch, tomatillo jaew and dark roux dashi, is a lot like how the expression “coming full circle” means that the first and last stages of a process look the same but couldn’t be farther apart. Watson’s “stoner food” might look like undressed, trashy delight, and it might have all the religious toothsomeness of

a 2am pilgrimage to Waffle House, but make no mistake—it takes more work to make great food look unassuming than it takes just to make great food. The necessary question though— what’s with the bathos? Why not throw on linens and kidskin gloves and charge $40 for a re-reinterpreted Caprese and rake in the cash with bulldozer? Good question. A sizable chunk of the explanation is that part of Watson’s raison d’être deals with divorcing the association that people have between sophistication and quality, i.e. showing people that fancy things aren’t always good. Or more specifically, that non-fancy things are often good. The result is a menu that looks working class but tastes bourgeois, like the restaurant version of Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting. And if you’re scratching your head looking for the missing part of the


1 small onion, finely chopped


3 CUPS cooked and cooled jasmine rice (from 1

FOR THE TE X-ME X JAEW 1 jalapeno 1 tomatillo, husk removed 1 small onion, halved 2 cloves garlic

1 jalapeno, with seeds, finely chopped Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

3 large eggs, beaten to blend 1/2 cups dry)

2 OZ . cheddar cheese, cut into 1/4” pieces 1/4 CUP cilantro, tender leaves and stems 2 scallions, thinly sliced Hot sauce, such as Valentina, for serving

1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed, thinly sliced


1 guajillo chili

Roast jalapeno, tomatillo and onion over a gas flame until charred all over (alternatively, broil jalapeno, tomatillo and onion on broilerproof rimmed baking sheet until blistered all over). Meanwhile, toast the guajillo over open flame until lightly charred and puffed; chop and transfer to a food processor. Add garlic and lemongrass and pulse to a fine paste. Add soy sauce, lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, cumin and reserved charred vegetables. Pulse to a coarse

2 tbsp. soy sauce 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice, plus more 2 tbsp. fish sauce, plus more 1 tbsp. light brown sugar 3/4 tsp. ground cumin FOR THE RICE AND A SSEMBLY 1/4 CUP vegetable oil 2 corn tortillas, torn into 1” pieces

Working Class Ingredients + Something = Good Food equation, look no further—the answer lies in the Labor (or Labour). Nonluxury ingredients keep the overhead low, but they need a lot of finesse and coaxing

restaurant really easily, but since putting together a red curry is more complex but less expensive, people don’t consider it fancy. We try and make food that anybody can come in and order.”

Then, as publicity begets publicity, “stoner food” became the go-to epithet for anything made by a chef with an impressive CV and something with Fritos on the menu. to blossom into workably delicious end products, so that’s just what they get. “We’re not expensive,” says Watson, “but I still consider it fancy because we put a lot of work into everything. You can make a braised short rib at a French

Which if you’re a penniless young academic in San Antonio (or a penniless visitor, or a penniful fan of good food), the appeal of Watson’s food becomes immediately apparent. The back-ofhouse squad puts in an immense amount

puree; season with more fish sauce and lime juice, if desired (mixture should resemble a coarse salsa and be salty and flavorful). FOR THE RICE AND A SSEMBLY

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet or wok. Add tortilla and fry, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes; remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add onion and jalapeno to skillet; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add egg and cook, stirring constantly, until egg is scrambled and cooked through, about 1 minute. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until rice is beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add jaew and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and paste has concentrated slightly, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in cheddar. Divide among bowls and top with cilantro, scallion and hot sauce.

of work to make humble ingredients luxurious, which means everything on the menu stays unreasonably affordable, and not the “This is affordable gold” kind of affordable, but the kind of affordable you bring home to your parents. More importantly, we at Study Breaks are firm believers in the teach a man to fish philosophy, and Watson et al.’s cooking shows how you can make inexpensive things delicious if you know what you’re doing. And since you probably don’t know what you’re doing, we’ve included recipes for three of Hot Joy’s most famous creations: Migas Fried Rice, Crab Fat-Caramel Chicken Wings and the Tater Tot Chaat. The idea for the Migas Fried Rice came from a game that Watson and his staff play to keep their creative juices flowing. The rules are simple: Imagine the worst possible iterations of dishes—birthday cake fried rice was thrown around, or JANUARY 2016

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TATER TOT CHA AT 4 SERVINGS INGREDIENTS: 1C paneer cheese 1/2inch diced (about 8 oz.) 1QT Frozen Tater tots (Ore-Ida is my favorite brand) Tamarind ketchup* recipe below Scorched chili ranch* recipe below

1/2C medium diced tomato 1/2C medium diced shallot (or red onion) 1/2C chopped cilantro 1C Indian snack mix

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Note from the chef: We use a variety of Indian snack mixes, including a bhel puri mix. Just walk down the Indian chip aisle and see what’s good; it’s always an adventure. Pro tip: squeeze the bags to make sure they still have sealed air in them and haven’t had their packaging compromised. Stale snacks suck. PREPAR ATION:

Fry the tater tots in 375 ° oil according to manufacturer’s instructions (baking is fine too). Half way through frying the tots, add the paneer—we want it warmed through and lightly browned. Once everything is done, divide it among 4 bowls, top each with diced tomato

and shallot. With a squeeze bottle or spoon, add the chili ranch and tamarind ketchup to taste, about 1/4c per serving, more ranch if you’re me. Top with the snack mix and cilantro, then serve!


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14OZ tamarind pulp (the blocks, not concentrate)

2 Guajillo chilis

1/2 CUP of the above chili purée* recipe below

5 dried Chinese chilis(also called Japonese)

2 egg yolks

1 fresh poblano pepper

2.5C peanut oil

1 CUP water

1/3C buttermilk

1/4 Korean chili powder

1.5C sour cream

1QT water 1T ground cumin 1T masala curry powder 1T Korean chili powder 6OZ sugar PREPAR ATION: Simmer water and pulp till broken up and dissolved, press through strainer, reserve thick liquid, discard seeds and fibers. Add everything else to pulp, simmer, season with salt and sugar.

Cheetos Queso (my idea). But when sous chef Chris Cheatwood suggested turning a Thai dipping sauce called jaew into a Tex-Mex flavor base for migas, the idea

PREPAR ATION: Char Guajillo and Chinese chilis over open flame, till toasted and slightly burnt. Add to water. Char poblano pepper till charred and soft, de-seed, chop and add to water. Bring the chilies to a simmer, steep for 10 mins, add Korean chili powder. Blend till smooth.

a blender, rice and eggs and you’re set. The Tater Tot Chaat was inspired by Watson’s run-in with an Indian chaat restaurant in Queens that prompted him to keep the paneer, tweak the toppings and switch out potatoes for tater tots. It’s a labor level up from the Migas, mostly because of the condiments, but Flavortown wasn’t built in a day. Plus, once you have the condiments you have the condiments, and I guarantee you’ll find that with tamarind ketchup and scorched chili ranch on hand, a lot more things are edible than you’d thought.

The Tater Tot Chaat was inspired by Watson’s run- in with an Indian chaat restaurant in Queens didn’t sound like a joke at all. Plus the recipe doesn’t call for much skin in the game—all you need are some vegetables,

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1/3C lime juice 1T salt 2T msg 2T garlic powder PREPAR ATION: Put chili purée and yolks into a food processor, blend. While the processor is still running, add oil in a slow small stream, continue until you have a thick mayonnaise (alternatively just add purée to 3c store bought mayo), then incorporate the rest of the ingredients.

When we spoke, Watson mentioned

offhand that Ferran Adria had once said that a pear can taste just as good as slice of foie gras—that it might not

be as expensive, but it doesn’t taste any

better or any worse, just different. In the hands of a creative chef, especially one

who understands the sort of invisible potential flavor





things really






taste turns from a luxury you buy into a quality you create.

And since there’s no better place to

see that principle in action than at Hot

Joy, either use these recipes to game the

system, or if you’re in San Antonio, stop in and thank us later.


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*First-time guests only. Guests must reside in state where redeemed. Not valid for all services. Additional restrictions may apply. Visit for complete terms and conditions. Š 2015 EWC


W I NTE R 2 014 $10



B R OK E T HE IN T E R NE T | by kara roberts

BROKE THE INTERNET: Has the sexual ante-upping of modern media pushed past a sex positive society into something darker? And can we come back?

Coated in a porous sheet of ash and debris until a group of Spaniards rediscovered it in 1738, the once flourishing city of Pompeii is a dusty time capsule for the year 79 A.D. After its unearthing, the world was like, “Hey, what’s up? Hello” to the buried city that had housed some of Rome’s most distinguished citizens before Mt. V erupted. Everything from fleeing families to grandiose villas, artisan shops and the earliest known amphitheater were all cemented beneath a thick layer of volcanic icing. Also cemented: All the dirty little secrets of the Roman Empire, because as fate would have it, the city of Pompeii was the erotica hotbed of the ancient world. That’s right, you can walk the archaic city streets to the soulful tune of Marvin Gaye and bask in the resurrection of one of the world’s sexiest civilizations. In Pompeii, sex was everywhere and it was cheap—the cheapest in the Empire—and archeologists were keen on carpe DM’ing the world about the erotica buffet they’d just discovered. Public bathhouses and brothels were the common man’s watering hole and the artist’s blank canvas, and historians lined up for a chance to study (“I said alone, please”) the Mediterranean allyou-can eat Kama Sutra left on the walls of these windowless sexual sanctuaries. Households were even more extravagant. The décor fused luxury with kink, creating a style that would make for an uncomfortable dinner party even today. Imagine a world where scholars filled chamber pots by the light of flying penis lamps, and courageous young gladiators sparred with wooden swords in courtyards where penis-shaped wind chimes shimmered in the breeze. Statues of bearded dwarfs on penis ponies and pornographic murals of Priapus weighing his forearm-sized erection were marks of distinguished taste. There must have been a lot of mixed emotions during the dig. Discovering

body after penis after body after winged penis is a lot to process. But out of all the erotica that was dug up, there’s one sculpture that some argue should have been destroyed by the eruption. And now what you’re looking at here is a beautiful mid-century piece depicting Pan, the god of the wild, having sex with a goat. Disturbed? King Francis I of Naples was. Following a family vacation gone terribly wrong, Francis locked up most of the erotic collection—yes, that means you, Pan—and today the collection is behind closed doors and only available during 45 minute guided tours. But considering how easily accessible graphic imagery and porn is today via the Internet, the restrictions seem like a misplaced effort. The exhibit should be regulated, yes, to prevent curious tots from corrupting their malleable little minds, but the irony is palpable. The museum is hiding imagery that, quite frankly, is PG compared to what’s waiting a Google search away. Now, if a volcano erupted every time someone violated a sexual taboo, humanity would cease to exist, let alone fulfill any of the sexual fantasies that led to our demise. For the most part, a standard prescription of sexual mores have rooted society-at-large to fairly status quo intimate practices. However, there’s always been an appeal in pushing those boundaries—for every culture, a counter-culture, for every mainstream, an alternative. But even without volcanoes to wipe the slate clean, humanity has historically balanced itself in what retrospectively resembles a tidy pendular motion, swinging over the centuries from ultraconservative to ultra-liberal with fleeting moments of sanity in between. And over the centuries we’ve tasted some pretty rotten fruit, but thanks to our hardy sexual appetites our species has always managed to forge onward to strange new worlds. From the Agora to the Crusades, the Victorians to the Sade’s, there’s JANUARY 2016

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always been a reliable, and somewhat comforting, equilibrium. But the pendulum seems a bit unbalanced these days. Mass media in all its extant forms has been busily popping the bubbles that have always kept aberrant sexual behaviors in isolation, meaning that like-minded people across the world are no longer forced to stay in on Saturday nights. This is both a good and a bad thing. It’s good for people whose atypical sexual tendencies are harmless. It’s bad because combining sex, mass media and capitalism has led to boundary-pushing for the sake of boundary-pushing, and it’s being broadcast worldwide. Mass media’s never-ending search to find the Next Big Thing looks a lot like a network exec constantly holding a carrot in front of whoever it is that’s pushing the sexual envelope the farthest. The street name for this phenomenon is “shock value,” and it stems from the notion that what was innovative yesterday is old hat today. As a result, sex in the media has to constantly up the ante or it runs the risk of irrelevance, low ratings and failure. It’s an occurrence that David Foster Wallace documents well in “Big Red Son,” his 1998 coverage of the AVN Awards, essentially the Academy Awards of the porn industry. Wallace describes how in porn, and in a smaller but just as real extent in the media, there’s a sort of sexual ouroboros in effect. “The more acceptable in modern culture it becomes,” Wallace writes, “the farther porn will have to go in order to preserve the sense of unacceptability that’s so essential to its appeal…It’s

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San Marcos, TX

Imagine it ’s Christmas Eve. Your par t-time job offered to pay you double if you st ayed to work over the holidays. You unenthusiastically accept because, well, you need the money. So you’re st uck in San Marcos, alone, w ith only your fat cat to comfor t you. Maybe you binge watch How I Met Your Mother, eat a whole bag of Tw izzlers and curse at the screen because you still don’t k now who the Mother is. Either way, you realize you’ve been cooped up in your draf t y apar tment for too long and you’re in desperate need of a lit tle liquid solace.

It ’s dead on The Square, and you begin to walk quick ly as the brisk w inds prick the hairs you need to pluck from your nose. You stop, doing a double t ake at a door decorated by a brightly painted Sant a Claus whose massive hand w ith six f ingers ( yes, six f ingers) point s toward the entrance of a bar. Intrigued, you obey K ringle’s command. Through the creak ing glass doors you walk into what seems like your dad’s junked-up garage—rust y Budweiser signs clothe the interior from f loor to ceiling , hand-w rit ten messages splat ter barren spot s on the walls, multi-colored Christmas light s gleam cheerf ully above the bar and a st ained-glass sign that says “SHOW DOW N” is planted f irmly atop a refrigerator stocked w ith cold beers. “I’ll have a Lonest ar, please,” you tell Nat alie, the bar tender. “That ’ll be $1.00—it ’s happy hour,” she says politely.

You hand Nat alie your card, tell her to keep it open, and quietly pump your f ist in the in the name of cheap beer. You t ake a slow, f low ing sip and sink into the plastic sw iveling bar stool you’re sit ting on. You spin around to face the patrons and suddenly things don’t feel so bad—in fact, the bar feels familiar, as if you could look to your lef t and catch your f un uncle chat ting w ith the locals. A man k now n as “One-Eyed-Jeff ” challenges you to a game of pool and gives you encouragement despite your horrible loss. A guy named Mitch wearing a k nit beanie w ith f lappy earmuffs compliment s your Indiana Jones st yle hat, and Nathan shares stories about his passion for arboricult ure.

Soon you f ind that while you went to escape your loneliness, you wound up discovering a set of estranged family members you never k new you had. You t ake another sip of that $1.00 Lonest ar, happily, because you realize you’re not alone on Christmas Eve. JANUARY 2016

| 29

also clear—all moral and cultural issues totally aside—that this is an extremely dangerous direction for the adult-film industry to have to keep moving.” In other words, the system is destroying itself. The constant need to up the ante is driving the porn industry into some dubious, borderline-criminal areas involving such delights as barely disguised child porn and gang rape. All while the morality police, understaffed and outnumbered, watch as the adult entertainment industry slips into an

uncensored abyss. More disturbingly, the same concept is at work in the mainstream media, although the ratcheting up has occurred at a much slower pace. All the way back in 1947, the sitcom Mary Kay and Johnny made TV history when it aired the first married couple to share a bed. Scandalous, right? Nearly 20 years later, in 1964, a British soap called Emergency Ward 10 aired the first interracial snog. Less groundbreaking—four years later, the

African American actress was quietly written out of the show. Less than a decade later, the first live-action sex scene was shot in Melvin Van Peebles’ Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, in a scene in which the main character loses his virginity to a prostitute. The bathwater started heating up as TV networks warmed to the idea that sex sold, and PBS aired the first female nipple during a production of the Bruce Jay Friedman play “Steambath” in 1973. Then the 80’s unleashed a tidal wave

A student who was under the age of 21 was reported as talking to herself while seated in the lobby of the residence hall. The uncooperative student refused to answer several questions, but did admit to having consumed three drinks containing tequila at a friend’s house. The student stated she was fine and demanded to go to her room. When the student stood up, it became obvious that the tequila was rented not purchased. The officers stated they would escort her to her room, whereupon the student proceeded to literally “stomp all the way to her room.” True

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The University of Texas at San Antonio is looking for single women to be in a




about social interactions and alcohol.


of controversial sex scenes in both TV and cinema. The 1980 release of American Gigolo was the first mainstream film to show full-frontal male nudity; Bad Timing, another 1980 release, was pulled because of a rape scene involving an unconscious protagonist, a tableau that the website DVD Savant called “as disturbing as non-pornographic movies get.” In 1995, Harmony Korine’s Kids, basically the narrative structure of every parent’s worst nightmare, loosely followed Telly (Leo Fitzpatrick), a manipulative 16-year old who makes it his mission to take as many girls’ virginities as he can, though he unknowingly has AIDS. The film ends with Telly’s friend Casper raping Chloë Sevigny’s unconscious character, thereby unwittingly contracting AIDS himself. And undoubtedly, the most recent torchbearer for boundarypushing sexual deviancy is the HBO megahit Game of Thrones. The show is great, trust me, I binge-watched the shit out of it this last summer: Dragons, giant domestic wolves, epic battle scenes, love and despair—it’s television magic. But several scenes within the most recent season were excoriated by critics for their “unnecessarily” (their words) brutal, grotesque sex scenes. One in particular took place




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between characters Cersei and Jamie Lannister, who are siblings AND secret lovers. Ew, I know. Jamie returns to Kings Landing to find that his bratty son Joffrey has been poisoned. As they’re mourning next to his body, Jamie suddenly makes a move on Cersei. Again, ew. To paraphrase: Cersei says please stop it, Jamie says I don’t care, and you can fill in the rest. It’s a wildly grotesque scene, but even more incriminating is that in the books, the sex is consensual. That means that at some point, an HBO exec somewhere must’ve said, “No, let’s make it a rape scene,” which kind of hints at just what’s so dangerous about becoming desensitized to extreme sexual behavior: It has to keep getting more extreme. Violent sexual deviancy in porn is one thing—but its presence in mainstream media has the potential to become a slippery slope. Dr. Robert Jensen, a professor at the

School of Journalism at the University of Texas, has an academic focus on pornography and the radical feminist critique of sexuality and men’s violence. He illuminated a disturbing trend. “The amount of explicit and often very aggressive sexual content has increased in drama in the past 30 years,” said Dr. Jensen. “What kind of society is likely to result when society accepts these views of women not only in porn, but in mainstream media? My observation is that it produces a very unhealthy sexual culture.” As if to illustrate Dr. Jensen’s point, Emily* at Megaplex Videos told me that shows like Game of Thrones have sparked new interest in consumers’ appetites. Referring to the hyper-sexualization, rape and incest in the show, Emily said they’ve noticed movies like My Dad’s Big Cock and My Mom and Me flying off the shelves more than ever. Personally, Emily said, she doesn’t believe in the stuff, but it’s what’s bringing in the money and preventing them from Blockbustering.

acertain point s

So where exactly is mainstream media

taking us? It’s not news that society is losing its moral footing—any cynic

55+ will gladly tell you that—but it

seems like the game’s changed, like the pendulum might not swing back this

time. It’s as if in some cosmic irony, when Kim Kardashian’s ass “Broke the Internet” last year, maybe the Internet broke the pendulum.

There’s always been a comfort in

knowing that there’s a balance, a back-

and-forth morality, but that was a simpler time, a time before Google,

Game of Thrones and Megaplex Video.

If the media continues to up the ante in the name of shock value to rake in

the ratings, then who knows: Maybe one day in the future, our generation’s outrage over rape and incest will only

be as intriguing to our descendants as Pompeii is to us. Hopefully not.

*name has been changed

Police officers were called after homeowners complained that their student neighbors were emptying full trashcans onto their front yard. The student trash men, whose breath smelled strongly of alcohol, explained that several of their friends were throwing up at the same time and they needed more empty trash cans. But as fate would have it, their dumpster was full. The students were forced to clean up the trash and were issued warnings. False

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NE W Y E A R S R E S OL U T ION | by john david white

How to

R esolve:

Your G uide

to a Bet ter 2 016

It’s 2016, baby: New Year, New You. And it’s time for a serious change. Obama’s campaign slogan is now based on your life. That’s right—it’s time for some kickass New Year’s resolutions. Everybody has a part of themselves that they’d like to improve, so I’m going to show you how with a little discipline, you can rub your resolutions into your friends’ and families’ faces. And the best part? It’s all a lie. Because New Years resolutions exist for the sole purpose of bragging, all you have to do is follow these rules and you’ll be able to stay fat, lazy and selfish on your own terms, while still looking like a sweet combination of Kobe Bryant and Mother Theresa in the eyes of your enemies. (It’s also best to start considering friends and family as enemies at this point.)

R u l e #1:

is yo u do s r a e Y w l e of Ne u r t s ir Th e F e ar s Y w e N t u a bo n ot t al k

s YO U DO i s r a e Y of Ne w e l u R d n o Th e S e c YE A R S W E N T U AB O NO T T AL K

R u l e #2

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RULE #1 What’s the first thing every loser tries to do come January? Join a gym. Pathetic. Here’s what you’re going to do instead: Learn an instrument at the gym. Bam, you’re now getting three birds stoned: You have a gym membership card that you can staple to your shirts to show off to your coworkers and classmates; you’ll be getting a ton of positive attention as you melt faces with your guitar solos at the gym, and the best part is you don’t even have to work out. You can stay as fat as ever. You may want to invest in a corset.


You’re going to have to start a diet. But it has to be something patently unscientific and incredibly difficult or nobody will believe you. People love completely unproven and groundless trends when it comes to personal health, so the more unconvincing your diet sounds, the more convincing your diet sounds. Heard of the Paleo diet? Take it one step further and say that you’re on a diet of entirely extinct plants. That will give you the sleek appearance of a miracle botanist who’s saving the world one plant at a time, but also a really meta nutritionist who can’t be bothered with the likes of modern plants. To prove your diet to everyone, you can take pictures of ordinary salads and post them to Instagram. They’ll never know the difference. And if you have to eat in public at any point, just eat a bowl of Lucky Charms and say they’re dinosaur eggs.


There are a lot of assholes out there who say they just want to be happy in the New Year. This one starts to get a little tricky because it deals with the metaphysical. Happiness is a fleeting dream that you didn’t even know you were having until you’ve already woken up. That being said, it’s also super easy to fake, and a great excuse to get out of a sticky situation. If you ever find yourself in the middle of a boring conversation, just start laughing. Let the laughter build up to a maniacal howl, to the point where you’re actually crying. Then start shouting about how happy you are. Say something like, “I’M SO FUCKING HAPPY, I LOVE MY LIFE…I AM GOD!” Chances are that boring

person you’re talking to will not only leave you alone, but also leave with the impression that you are indeed happy.


My roommate told me that he as going to try to shower more. Gross. Heard of California? And other people say that they want to do laundry more often, which is lame. Here’s how you can tackle those simple resolutions for only several hundred dollars: Buy a bunch of tee-shirts in bulk that say “I <3 Showers.” 365 shirts to be exact. That gives you the illusion of a person who stays on top of their laundry, without ever having to touch that disgusting lint collector thing in the dryer again. And think of all the money you’ll save on dryer sheets! Most importantly, people will think you bathe regularly because you clearly <3 showers. Pro-tip: Build a fort with all the cardboard boxes that your new tee shirts will come in and save a ton of money on an apartment, which is technically Rule #5: Invest in Real Estate.


If a tree falls in the woods and nobody was present with a GoPro or a selfie-stick, was it chill? Balls no. As I mentioned earlier, Instagram will be a powerful ally in facilitating your web of deceit, but so will every other media outlet. In fact, why not bring back some of the old ones. Invest thousands in MySpace stock with the hope that the site will one day turn itself around and become the haven of vanity it was once. Don’t forget: This year is an all-out campaign to promote your greatest triumphs, so don’t be afraid to get creative with it. Most people will post lackluster Facebook statuses like, “Great Workout ;).” But a great counter to this douche power-move is to send that same phrase to each of your individual friends and followers in a direct message. They will be sure to be impressed.


Have fun, kids!


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HOU S T ON W H AT E V E R F E S T I VA L | by elijah watson


In theory, Houston Whatever Fest is kind of The Big Lebowski’s Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski of fests. It’s chill and relaxed, yes— the ‘Whatever’ being a sort of selfaware, lol-inducing trick designed to tickle out laughs—but in practice the fest’s not even remotely blasé, not in execution or identity, and is actually really anything but Whatever. This was only the second year of HWF, its inaugural year taking place in August of 2014. Moving the festival back a few months to November was a wise choice: although Andrew WK, Goldlink, Kreayshawn, Mute Math, Neon Indian, Passion Pit and others were on the roster last year, it suffered from low attendance. But from the very beginning, you could tell that this year’s HWF was going to suffer no such problem — people were no longer whatever about Whatever. Part of the reason for the popularity was the refreshingly local lineup, which wasn’t so much the gimmicky “Support Your Local Fest” local, as much as it was the “Nationally Recognized Musicians Who Happen to be from Houston” local. If you’re not a Houston native though, it’s easy to forget—or simply not know—that Houston is as artistically rich as it is. Sure, you’re aware of Beyonce, DJ Screw and UGK, and maybe you remember the early 2000s takeover by Lil Flip, Mike Jones and Paul Wall, but the Houston scene has in no way stagnated since then, and in fact continues to produce great artists that are contributing to, redefining and expanding their respective genres. JANUARY 2016

| 37

“Whatever probably means a mixmash of music: hip-hop, rock, metal — whatever goes together.” Eddie Oertell, Tour Manager For Gwar The first person to come to mind is B L A C K I E, Houston’s “DIY pioneer of American trash and noise rap.” His set was pure chaos, beginning when he jumped offstage into the audience. The crowd parted at his presence, the Moses of avant-garde rap and the audience, his curious disciples. Some onlookers knew what to expect with B L A C K I E, but most didn’t. They stood, mouths agape and bodies immobile, furtively pointing their phones

38 |


before hurriedly pocketing them when he headed in their direction. Photographers brave enough to step into his path were greeted with a push and one of the most menacing gazes I’ve ever witnessed. “B L A C K I E All Caps / Act like you know” he screamed, f lanked by the buzzing distortion coming from his collection of amplifiers. If you didn’t know of B L A C K I E before his show, you definitely did after it. And

just as soon as his set had begun it had ended, the rapper climbing over the barricade, falling on his back and crawling onstage. We cheered and clapped as the distortion and feedback went silent. “I’m B L A C K I E from Houston,” he said, waving. Then there was Vockah Redu, the Houston-by-New Orleans bounce artist that kicked off the festival with his two backup dancers; We Were Wolves, a group of sunglasses-

wearing, enthusiastic headbangers whose ability to blend heavy riffs with pop hooks immediately won over any skeptics in the crowd, and Fat Tony, one of the best up-and-coming regional rappers I’ve seen in awhile, accompanied by the self-proclaimed “Rap Game Axl Rose,” Ill Faded (who served as Fat Tony’s DJ). I’d heard of Fat Tony before his set at HWF, but didn’t know what to expect. What me and many other

spectators received was a full set of turnt anthems, distortion and reverb (he likes to use effects on his vocals, which is a refreshing touch from most straightforward rap shows), as well as a running homage to Houston rap old and new. Fat Tony shouted out fellow up-andcoming rapper Maxo Kream, whose most recent mixtape #MAXO187, was so critically well received earlier this year that I brief ly wondered why he JANUARY 2016

| 39

wasn’t a part of the HWF lineup. He also shouted out Lil’ Keke, an original member of Houston’s Screwed Up Click who popularized a dance (and song with the same name) called the “Southside.” “Y’all remember the Southside” Fat Tony asked the audience. Moments later, he was asking everyone that was unfamiliar with the dance to move to the front so he could teach them how to do it. I found myself saying “This could only happen in Houston” twice during the event’s two days: The first time when Fat Tony got everyone to do the “Southside”; the second when watching a Lil’ Flip set. For anybody my age (23) who grew up in Texas, chances are you heard Lil’ Flip on your city’s rap radio station. His hits: “Game Over,” “Sunshine” and “The Way We Ball,” played at every elementary and middle school dance party, banging as we awkwardly hug-danced or ate nachos and pizza. Yes, he took the stage two hours after his scheduled time, but Lil’ Flip

“This is how every person should be introduced to Houston,” I said to myself. But the fest wasn’t all not fun and games: A slew of carnival amusements were nestled in a corner, including a High Striker where attendees could gauge their strength for a few dollars. And just across from the carnival games area was another section, this one dedicated to an entirely different display of human strength: Micro Wrestling. Micro Wrestling was, arguably, one of the standout activities at Houston Whatever Fest. A wrestling federation that showcases the talents of midget wrestlers from across the world, Micro Wrestling is a combination of humor, stereotyping, suspense and theatrics, in addition to one of the most celebrated combat sports to ever exist. The entire spectacle is hyperbolic in the best and worst ways possible, e.g. a match that pitted an American soldier named Lieutenant Dan against an Afghan soldier named The Mini Sheik.

“Whatever is no pressure. Everybody should feel like they should put their true self forward, and that’s the Houston spirit about artists, the community and music.” Gabriela Barahona, Business Development For Top Vintage

sold nostalgia so well that the crowd happily let his tardiness slide. Yelling “Flip, Flip, Flip, Flip” during the chorus of “Game Over” with hundreds of people was an experience I never knew I needed until that moment. Underneath a starry Houston sky, a cool breeze slowly settling in for the night, I bobbed my head and smiled.

40 |


Once you mentally sidestep the utter lack of political correctness, Micro Wrestling is incredibly entertaining. There’s nothing like yelling “U.S.A.” as Lieutenant Dan body slams an opponent, spurring a collective, Ric Flair-esque “Woo” from the crowd. There was clapping, yelling and laughing, but Micro Wrestling was just an appetizer for what

“Whatever means everything, dude. It encompasses everything, it’s like laissez faire — I don’t care, it’s all good.” Ryan Cayari, Comedian For Space City Nerd HWF’s real bread and butter—comedy. “That’s right, folks,” said comedian Doug Benson as he began his set. “We’re at Whatever Fest where, whatever happens, who gives a fuck? Let’s have fun.” Plenty of people went to the fest purely for the its comedy lineup, which in addition to Benson, included T.J. Miller of Silicon Valley fame, and former Saturday Night Live actor Brooks Wheelan, as well as Ari Shaffir and a handful of Houston comedians like Adrian Youngblood and Dusti Rhodes. Once again, it was inclusions like these, as well as the fest’s emphasis on promoting Houstonian art, that made HWF such an enjoyable grassroots endeavor. Yes, there were big names like Ghostland Observatory, Gwar, GZA and Metric attached to the lineup, but the bulk of both the artists and comedians were based out of Houston. The connection between the city and the event is far from incidental—not

only would HWF be unrecognizable in another city, it probably wouldn’t even be possible. How many other cities, major metropolises included, have as much homegrown talent as Houston does? And how many of those cities could produce not just musicians, but comedians, artists and entertainers all of the highest caliber, all sharing the same unique regional vibe? “I want [Houston Whatever Fest] to represent the diversity of Houston,” said Jason Price, the founder of the festival, in a story for the Houston Press. “I want it to be not this mass-produced event, but I want it to remain grassroots just like the people who are coming and supporting the thing. That’s really what it means to me.” So far, Price seems to be on the right track. The setup of the festival lends itself to moments that probably wouldn’t happen at a bigger music festival. For example, during his headlining set,

GZA jumped into the audience and went through “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” and “Liquid Swords,” belting out the lyrics with hundreds of enthusiastic fans surrounding him. The moment was uncontrived and unexpected, something that spoke to the beauty of intimate events like HWF. Since





essentially acts as Houston’s Fun Fun Fun Fest-meets-Lollapalooza, Houston

Whatever Fest seems content to have

a niche all to itself: It promotes great local talent, which is an ambitious and

brave thing to do in an age of festivals where locations change but lineups don’t.






whatever about Houston Whatever Fest.

But not anymore — if the large crowd

of faux blood-drenched attendees at Gwar’s performance proved anything,

its that this festival is making its mark in Houston.


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WA S T E D MONE Y | by will strecker

W hen Athletes Make It Obvious How Lit tle Fiscal Responsibilit y They Have



We all know that professional athletes make ungodly amounts of money. More than you or me. More than your dad or your mom. More than you and me and your dad and your mom combined and multiplied by ten. And to everyone except your rich uncle (who’s not “technically” your uncle but has a wittle secret that, for the right price, mommy pwomises not to tell), the grotesque amount of money that athletes make is inconceivable. Hundreds of thousands and tens of millions of dollars, most of which goes to young men in their twenties without college degrees. What’s less astonishing: How often these multi-millionaires claim bankruptcy shortly after hanging up the cleats. The problem is so pervasive—and so destructive— that the NFL and NBA have taken to mandating Fiscal Literacy classes for rookies, and Herm Edwards’ “You only need one” financial advice (car, house, jewelry, woman) is embarrassingly poignant. So if you, like them, find yourself asking Where All the Money Went, look no farther: Study Breaks has compiled a list of some of the biggest money-wasting purchases in the history of professional sports, and even a few in the non-professional arena. Next time you’re eating uncooked ramen cause you couldn’t pay the water bill, think about this and seethe.


As a professional basketball player, travelling 41 times a year for away games can get pretty exhausting. And I’m sure having to tote luggage around 41 times a year can make the process even more tedious. A.I.’s solution? Don’t bother with luggage. Instead, buy new clothes in every city that you travel to, every time you travel to a new city. A small price to pay for convenience, right? When you’re a superstar basketball player, sure. When you’re an exsuperstar basketball player flirting with bankruptcy, not so much.

N O VA K D J O K O V I C In 2012, Novak Djokovic bought the only farm in the world that produces “pule.” Never heard of pule? Not surprising. It’s Serbian donkey cheese, and if you want some, you have to go through Djokovic. A pound of the stuff can cost well over $1000, even exceeding $3000 in some cases. It’s been described as “white, crumbly, and very, very rich,” like Djokovic! Initially, rumors flew that the tennis superstar just loves the stuff and bought the entire world’s supply out of an odd hoarding reflex. Headlines like “Djokovic Buys World’s Supply of Donkey Cheese” definitely pushed some papers, but the reality soon came to light. Djokovic, a Serbian, was interested in supporting the exclusively Serbian product, and purchased the rights of access as a means of supporting the cottage (cheese) industry, so more “Buy Local” than “Megalomaniacal Cheese Tycoon.” Still, I can’t say donkey cheese strikes me as fecund ROI material. How long does that cheese keep, Novak?


Aside from leading the Texas Longhorns to a 2005 Rose Bowl in one of the best football games of all time, Vince Young has done little else to warrant any kind of praise in the past decade. After being drafted second overall in the 2006 NFL Draft to the Tennessee Titans, Young proceeded to throw his money away on stupid investment after stupid investment. USDA Prime example: the Vince Young Steakhouse in downtown Austin, which he doesn’t even own anymore. Throw on weekly 5K tabs at the Cheesecake Factory and a habit of $600 shots of Louis XIII, and the picture begins to get a little clearer. But more than anything, his publicflight-turned-private-flight flex takes the cheesecake. In 2007, after a game JANUARY 2016

| 43

in Houston, Young decided that he wanted to travel back to Nashville alone. Wanting some peace and quiet after a long week is understandable. Buying out an entire Southwest Airlines commercial flight (120 of 130 seats) in order to have some peace and quiet, less so. According to reasonable estimates, the price of one night’s solitude cost him in the ballpark of $30,000. For a flight. It’s gotta be pretty difficult to blow $26 million in six years, but goddangit Vince worked hard at it and he earned every penny of his bankruptcy.


The former Wizards forward once had a great idea for turning his rookie contract into millions overnight. Singleton spent nearly $10,000 on lottery tickets in the hopes that with the odds in his favor, that $10,000 would turn into $640 million. Had he won, Singleton might still be in the NBA today, filling a role player position on some team for a discount. Instead, not one of Singleton’s 5,000 tickets yielded the winning combination, and now he plays for some irrelevant Euroleague team. Not a smart move if you ask me.


Can you, reader, ever imagine a situation in which you needed an ATM so badly that you wished there was one in your house? You probably can’t, and I definitely can’t, but Deshawn Stevenson can and did. In 2011, the Brooklyn Net spent around $3,500 to have said ATM installed in his kitchen, which prompts several questions: Whose money was in

the ATM? Why would Stevenson pay the reported $4.50 withdrawal fee to access his own money? Why was it so important that he had easy access to cash? Did he ever get frustrated using the tedious “Withdrawal/Deposit/Account Balance” menu every time he needed to move money around? Is there any purpose to this other than making it ultra convenient for his homies to buy drugs, guns and other illegal things from you? Did he have severe agoraphobia? How stupid did he feel when Venmo came out? Could he bust it open like a plastic piggy bank if he needed to?


I like to think players for my hometown teams are incapable of being stupid. Alas, this is not the case. Daniels was drafted by my Mavericks back in ‘03 and played in Dallas until ‘06, but it wasn’t until he was with the Celtics in ‘09 that he made a purchase that was so stereotypical, so utterly flippant, so short sighted and exorbitant that it leaves me at a loss for words. Daniels bought a chain. A chain of his face. A 3-D chain of his face. A custom made, 3-D, Marquis Daniels shrunken head made from 1.3 kilograms of 14 karat gold (the gold alone would cost $45,000 today). Although Daniels never disclosed the total cost, cover a softball-sized gold replica of a head with diamonds, add on black-diamond chain dreads and labor costs, and the price of this could easily approach $100,000, which is a reasonable estimate, which would only be accurate if Marquis Daniels were a reasonable person. Which he clearly isn’t.

A student who was under the age of 21 was observed sitting on a pedestrian walkway sign. When asked how much she had to drink, the student replied that she “did not have that many,” and went on to state that she had drunk one shot, one mixed drink and a beer. The student displayed an inability to stand with any degree of confidence and was seated. When asked for identification, the student placed three different IDs on the ground just prior to covering the items in the remnants of her night’s intake. Once legible, two of the identification cards were found to be fictitious. True

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As alluded to in The Hangover, Mike Tyson is an avid fan of tigers. But when he declared bankruptcy in 2003, his financial records showed that his tiger hobby was partly to blame for his insolvency. With an initial start-up fee of $140,000 in shipping alone, Tyson was in murky financial waters from the outset. Add to that a monthly upkeep of around $4,000/tiger, multiplied by 3 tigers 12 times a year, and it becomes apparent that Tyson spent an astounding $144,000 minimum just in caring for his precious pets. Plus, since Bengal tigers can live up to 18 years in captivity, he was looking at a potential $2.6 million buy-in. As badass as tigers are, and as great a boxer as Tyson was, he probably should just have got a pit bull.

Floyd “Money” Mayweather’s outlandish spending habits are well documented. And while I’m all for placing bets on sports, some countries don’t make as much money in a year as Mayweather bet on Super Bowl XLVIII. In 2014, the boxer wagered $10 million that the Denver Broncos would beat the Seattle Seahawks. The Broncos lost the game, and Mayweather lost $10 million dollars. And to make things even sweeter, the game was never even close. The Seahawks smashed the Broncos 43-8, putting up the third-highest point differential in Super Bowl history. I guess for someone who makes over $100 million per fight, $10 million here and there is nothing. But still, $10 million dollars. Gone. On one game.

Back in 2010, it came to light that several of Ohio State’s football players were trading team memorabilia to Edward Rife, the owner of a tattoo parlor and convicted drug trafficker. Of the players accused, and later proven guilty, quarterback Terrelle Pryor and running back Daniel Herron were the two big names. Pryor and Herron, among others, reportedly traded or sold at least nine Big Ten championship rings, 15 pairs of cleats, four or five jerseys and a National Championship ring for either cash or tattoos from Rife himself. The items were given away or sold for relatively cheap according to investigators. This was a massive no-no under NCAA rules, and while no one went bankrupt, there

Police officers were called to an assault scene between two groups of students attempting to get home from a night on the town. According to witnesses, a Hispanic student reportedly asked if one of the other students was “really a MMA fighter.” This led to a confusion that was settled peacefully, unbeknownst to one of the party, who suckerpunched an unsuspecting member of the other group before he’d heard about the truce. A fight broke out but the assailants f led as the police arrived. False

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were massive ramifications. The athletes were declared ineligible, Ohio State was barred from post-season play for years and beloved coach Jim Tressel lost his job. And they say tattoos are permanent.


For someone so great at what he did, Curt Schilling wasn’t so great at managing his money. After retiring, the former ace pitcher decided to open a video game studio, 38 Studios (named after his number). The studio’s only game, “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning,” actually did moderately well, selling a million copies. Isn’t it kind of weird that a professional baseball player wouldn’t make some kind of baseball video game? But despite the marginal success of his mythical, Lord of the Rings-esque attempt, in order to break even the game needed to sell three million copies. 38 Studios went belly up after six years and ended up costing Schilling over $50 million.


While this isn’t a purchase, it is an example of a large sum of money being put to exactly zero uses. Normally when if you’re given a check for $15 million, your first stop is to the bank to cash that hoe. Patrick Peterson, for god knows what reasons, has yet to cash his signing bonus and initial contract check. In Peterson’s defense, it’ll be a nice rainy day fund when he’s retired and looking for something to do.


The future Hall of Fame wide receiver who made close to $100 million in the NFL over his career is now broke AF. Like many before him, he’s attributed his bankruptcy mostly to external causes. One such undeniable source of financial and mental hardship for T.O. was the purchase of a bingo hall in Alabama that featured electronic bingo machines.

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Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with such a purchase, unless, of course, bingo is considered gambling in a state where gambling is illegal. Getting to the point: Owens bought an illegal gambling establishment in the anti-gambling state of Alabama. To make matters worse, he didn’t even get all the necessary licenses to run the business, which led to the forced shut down of the establishment and a loss of $2 million. Also, it’s against NFL policy for players to own a gambling establishment, so he was punished further by the NFL.

E DDY C U R RY Steph can be grateful that Eddy shares no relation, because the guy is a world class doof. Among many idiotic accomplishments, Eddy took out a loan for $575,000 with an astonishing 85 percent interest rate. When he was taken to court after defaulting the loan, Curry said he had nowhere near the $1.2 million he owed the company. What did he need the loan for, exactly? Bills. Specifically, he needed the money to pay back cable bills that totaled over $1,000 a month. Whoa. How much Skinemax can you watch?

by Andrew Wil son

R U C ULT U RAL LY INSE NSITIVE ? D o yo u k n ow wh e re d i f fe re n t c o u n t r i e s a re ? Yes, I took remedial geography

No, I understand there are other places with different cultures, I’ve just never seen a map!

What are your thoughts on im migration? It is a complete idea, but I believe the US should be less strict and uphold its reputation as a melting pot and safehaven

I understand this is not an easy move, but I want to restrict immigration regulations to create a static cultural climate in America

Would you ever eat Middle Eastern cuisine? Yes! I love the adventure! It’s like a plane trip for my mouth. I love to travel!

No, I am happy with my current diet . I’m not an adventurous eater.

What do you think of Asian people? I have never known a world outside of this magazine

They are people and should be treated with respect in accordance to basic human rights

Result: We can’t make any conclusion! This is a magazine! Why are you trying to determine your cultural sensitivity with the corpse of print media? Who are we to place value judgements on a stranger?

There are no countries where I’m from! Where are you from? Earth! I was just making a joke :) Aliens don’t read Study Breaks The great beyond I hate people who smell differently than me! Do you have a nose piercing?



I only eat raw beef with a spoon

Do you kiss your mother with these lips? Yes and she licks up every meaty morsel

I have no mother

What nationality are you referring to speci�ically? Asian refers to a multitude of nationalities, each with their own vibrant culture and history. I feel uncomfortable placing value judgements on a large generalized group of people. JANUARY 2016

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KARINNA LOPEZ Study Breaks Stylist

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Looking good effortlessly is a talent that not many people have, but with a few tricks you can master the vibe without looking like you’re trying too hard. Having style and being trendy are two completely different categories in my book. Today, looking hip is in—but how can you be unique when everyone around you looks the same? That’s where personal style comes into play. Some suggestions are to have key pieces that make you feel great and can be altered based on what you want to wear. A key factor in looking good effortlessly is knowing who you are as a person, which can easily help you when you want to stand out from the crowd. Must JANUARY 2016

haves for this month (always, actually) for both men and women are dark/light wash jeans, Chelsea boots, sneakers, biker jackets and trench coats. The rest of the outfit should fall into place with basics. When it comes to buying jeans, shoes or coats, invest in higher quality clothing to ensure lifetime use and a more polished look (because who doesn’t want to look like they have their life together?). On the other hand, fast fashion is great for trendy items, and if it’s a trend that’s not going to stick around for more than six months, then it’s OK to buy cheaper clothing. A recommendation is to save last season pieces for a good six months, and after some time you can start to wear them again. Eventually, people will want to hop on the bandwagon and it’ll be on trend again. It might be a little confusing, but trust me—everything that goes out of style will come back in eventually.

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M A K ING P E E ING ( UN ) S E X Y |

by alison miller â&#x20AC;˘ photography by ian friedel

Pissing the Fight Away: Is the push for gender-neutral bathrooms on college campuses clogging up the real issue? 54 |


Once, when I was in seventh grade, I walked into the boys’ bathroom. It was a complete accident. I had been sent by my English teacher to get some paper towels to clean up a spill, and as I walked to the bathroom my mind wandered to the boy I had a crush on. Earlier that day, while talking with a group of classmates, I had said something funny and he had laughed. Like, really laughed, not just politely laughed. (I’d like to say that now it takes more than an attractive guy laughing at my jokes to get me twitterpated but unfortunately no.) Awash in the bliss of my prepubescent romance and probably smiling moronically, I pushed open the heavy bathroom door and reached for the paper towel dispenser on the wall. The sinks were on the wrong side, that was the first thing I noticed. For a split second, I actually wondered why someone would move the entire plumbing apparatus to the opposite side of the bathroom when there hadn’t been anything wrong with the first side. The second thing I noticed was that there was a boy standing at one of the sinks, frozen in the middle of washing his hands. Even as realization sunk in and I blushed crimson, some small part of my brain retained command of its faculties. “Sorry,” I muttered, dropping my gaze and breaking eye contact. My hand, already halfway to the dispenser, hastily ripped out a handful of paper towels and, prize in hand, I bolted. I will never, to my dying day, forget the look of surprise on his face—and not just because the that face belonged to none other than the supreme object of my affections, the young Adonis I’d been envisioning so rapturously only moments before, and with whom I had trouble making eye contact for a week afterward. (N.B. We ended up going out for quite awhile later in middle school but ultimately no dice.) No, the reason I’ll never forget his expression wasn’t because of who he was, but rather how he looked. Pursed lips, raised eyebrows—it wasn’t just surprise, it was intrusion, violation. JANUARY 2016

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But what if it hadn’t been? What if seeing a member of the opposite sex in the bathroom was no big deal? What if bathrooms ceased to be gendered or sexualized spaces at all, and were equally accessible to men, women and everyone in between? These are the kinds of questions being asked at San Francisco’s Miraloma Elementary School, which has recently converted to a gender-neutral bathroom system for its kindergarteners and first graders. In explaining his motives, Miraloma’s principal Sam Bass said that the school has students all across the gender spectrum, and that its goal is to create a safe, supportive environment for them. While California has a reputation of adjusting rules to meet the needs of an exceptional few, Principal Bass denied that this policy was geared specifically toward a minority: “[This policy] affects ALL students. Not only do we want ALL of our students to feel safe, supported, and comfortable to be who they are, we want them to understand systematic equality for everyone.  We are teaching them a valuable lesson.” And, while Miraloma is certainly breaking new ground, they’re not the only ones with gender-neutral bathrooms on the brain. Since Bruce Jenner became Caitlyn Jenner, the trans equality movement has rapidly gained both publicity and momentum. This, in turn, has raised a host of new questions about how and where we pigeonhole trans persons in society. Do they use the boys’ or girls’ bathrooms? What locker rooms do they change in? Which sports teams do they play on? Now, before anyone gets their respectively gendered panties in a bunch about schools overstepping bounds and taxpayer dollars funding transitions, let’s be clear about the

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fact that this isn’t really that big of a change. Most kindergarten classrooms already have an adjoining, singleoccupancy unisex bathroom. Miraloma is merely extending this pattern to first grade classrooms. The gender-neutral bathroom conversion will follow the present class of first graders up through successive grades until eventually the entire school has been converted. Since the bathrooms are built to accommodate a single occupant at a time, boys and girls won’t ever be in the bathroom at the same time. The change is largely semantic more than anything else. It drops the possessive gender noun from the front of the restroom, meaning instead of the boys’ bathroom or girls’ bathroom, it will now simply be called the bathroom. But trans equality is a big deal at the moment, right? And it can’t all be as simple as semantics, right? While any movement as complex as trans equality is bound to attract its fair share of naysayers, the predominant emotion emerging from the

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sociopolitical fray hasn’t been negativity or disagreement, but confusion. It was one thing for America to accept the dichotomy between gender and sexuality proposed by the gay rights movement, and then another to understand that a person’s gender doesn’t dictate who that person’s attracted to. But just when America had begun to recover from wrapping its head around that idea, the trans rights movement asks us to split our concept of identity one way further—into physical/chromosomal sex, gender identity and sexuality. It’s like when Harry Potter discovered that Voldemort had created not one, not two, but seven Horcruxes: We keep discovering that our psychosexual selves are split in more ways than we could possibly have imagined. For a lot of people, that’s a quantum leap. It requires that we accept that our genitalia don’t necessarily correspond to the gender that we identify with, and that neither of those necessarily have anything to do with whom we decide to

have sex with. Coming to terms with that idea then means disposing of our binary classification of gender and sexuality. Someone might not be male or female, but somewhere in between. And in that same vein, they might not be heterosexual or homosexual, but somewhere in the gray area. Trans persons, in essence, defy the very classification system society has taught itself to use. The mere recognition of their unique status requires that we deconstruct the binary paradigm that we’ve used to sort people for so long. As such, that duality was one of the main objects of protest when the trans rights movement came out into the open. And what’s a more quotidian, ubiquitous reminder of that duality than having to choose between two bathrooms, male and female, multiple times a day? Bathrooms are everywhere, and trans people are tired of being forced to choose between a boy stick figure and a girl stick figure when they don’t relate to either one.

Having a gender-neutral option, they argue, would not only promote a friendlier, more sensitive environment for trans people but also provide a safe, ambiguous option for those trans persons who don’t, for whatever reason, feel comfortable outing themselves by choosing one gender over another. They make it clear that this issue isn’t solely about the trans population, either. Gender-neutral restrooms would make life a lot easier for parents with children of the opposite sex and disabled persons with opposite-sex caretakers. However, it’s important that we consider a few legitimate obstacles to the widespread institution of gender-neutral bathrooms—whatever those might look like. The first and most superficial of those are material limitations: space and money. Alan Duff, a graduate of Lawrence University and imminent law student, was dubious about the pragmatics. “So, should entire parts of public facilities across the nation be changed with public funds to accommodate a few [people]?” Duff asked. “I would need to see the costs. If gender-neutral bathrooms can be constructed at realistically low costs then I’m all for it.” It’s worth noting that the best estimates of America’s trans gender population put the number at around 700,000, or three tenths of one percent; for perspective, that’s one-tenth the size of the legally-blind population. Idealism aside, at some level the numbers just have to make sense. The University of Texas for example, which already has 32 gender-neutral bathrooms, requires that a gender-neutral bathroom be constructed for every five floors in a new building.  Still, Ixchel Rosal, who directs the Gender and Sexuality Center, understands that solutions need to be realworld friendly. She told The Daily Texan, “I think, in an ideal situation, certainly every building would have at least one allgender bathroom.  But I’m also aware that it’s a process, so I would say that we are making steady progress on getting to that ideal situation, but there is still more work to be done.” Unfortunately, the rest of Texas trends toward policies that are practically Victorian in their conservatism.  Current pending legislation would make it a crime under the definition of “disorderly conduct” for transgender Texans to use bathrooms that do not align with their biological sex, a phrasing and perspective that brings to mind Oscar Wilde’s Indecency Trial and its retrospective absurdity. On a deeper, darker level however, there are safety concerns to consider—both physical and psychological. Regardless of how supportive of trans rights they might be, women will inevitably be nervous about sharing a space with men because it subjects them to more opportunities to become victims of sexual assault and/or harassment. And what about survivors of sexual abuse? For them, gender-

inclusive bathrooms are fraught with potential psychological and posttraumatic complications as a result of their experiences. Liz Fraccaro, an anthropologist who had plenty of experience with gender-neutral

bathrooms while studying at University College London, accurately summed up the widespread apprehensions felt by females:


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“Initially, I was uncomfortable and a little threatened [by gender-neutral bathrooms]. There were only stalls, no urinals, and other than it being very crowded, there wasn’t anything about the space that was inherently uncomfortable.” “What was uncomfortable was the immediate realization that this space could be manipulated to be unsafe— being followed into the bathroom, easier sexual harassment, etc.  The reality is, no one was acting aggressively or inappropriately, and I realized my fears were misplaced.  Now, I don’t bat an eye at a gender neutral bathroom, but I still must consider when I enter whether the space is safe.” While anxieties about sexual assault are undoubtedly a symptom of rape culture rather than a de facto complication

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of gender-neutral bathrooms, we’d be foolish to ignore them. These potential problems could likely be mitigated if bathrooms were constructed on a singleoccupancy basis, or if stalls had floor-toceiling doors to discourage peeping toms and forced entry. Gianna Colera, who has a BS in Human Development and Family Sciences from UT and who lives with her boyfriend (making her something of an expert on sharing bathrooms with the opposite sex), believes the trick is in the implementation. “I don’t see a problem with single-stall gender-neutral facilities,” said Colera. “It’s exactly the same as your bathroom at home….If you want to discuss the implementation of multi-stalled genderneutral bathrooms the topic gets tricky…. To suddenly ask grown men and women to start sharing a restroom is asking

too much. As much as I want to welcome trans-women into my restroom, I do not want to share a restroom with a cis-male.” While such an arrangement (i.e., constructing a third, gender-neutral shared facility or reconfiguring existing facilities into separate single-occupancy unisex facilities) would undoubtedly be preferable to simply removing the “Men’s” and “Women’s” signs and declaring a free-for-all, it would also be significantly more expensive. And now we’re right back where we started at the issue of spatial and monetary constraints. Being a more or less cis female, I’m neither privy to the motivations nor the subtleties of the trans equality movement. But I’d be willing to put money on the fact that it’s not really about the bathrooms. I mean, sure, the labels are obnoxious (and from an aesthetic standpoint, the stick

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figures are just plain depressing). But is using a gender-neutral bathroom really going to improve the experience of emptying your bladder? Probably not. As with so many minority equality issues, it’s about the principle of the matter rather than the topic at hand. Remember Macklemore’s song about gay marriage, “Same Love”? (Of course you do.) With his impressive knack for perspicacity and conciseness, Macklemore sang, “…a certificate on paper isn’t gonna solve it all / But it’s a damn good place to start.” Changing the sign in front of bathrooms or giving trans people access to gender-neutral options isn’t going to fix anything—but it’s a start. It shouldn’t matter to trans people whether they use the toilets in the men’s or women’s bathroom—but it shouldn’t matter to the rest of us, either. When people stop noticing or caring whether trans persons are in their respective gender’s bathroom, the need for gender-neutral bathrooms will become obsolete. But ultimately it’s not about the bathrooms. It’s not about the stick figure labels. It was never about those. It’s about creating safe space for trans individuals. Safe from judgment, safe from heteronormative/cis assumptions and safe to express themselves to the freest, fullest degree possible.

WEAR » BUY » CELEBRATE 512.245.2273 | w w w.bookstore.txs tate. ed u JANUARY 2016

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by michael tyler, max alspach, and jake harle

Partially inspired by Shea Serrano’s Rap Yearbook, and partially inspired by the jaw droppingly good, historically saturated year for music that was 2015, Study Breaks enlisted three music writers and critics to settle their differences, squash their beefs and come together to decide on The Most Important Song of 2015. Before we start, it’s necessary that we point your attention to the word Important, because this list is not about commercial success, popularity, award nominations or downloads. No, important to yr. faithful writers means two things: highly influential to the “thing” that music is, i.e. innovative, provocative, game-changing or paradigm shifting to the actual sounds that come out of speakers; and two, a watermark of the year 2015, as in indicative or reflective of the year and its general zeitgeist. Also important to note: These are the opinions of three music savants yes, but they are in no way universal, impartial, or necessarily even correct. Several important lacunae, such as the absence of female musicians, were not oversights (and in fact caused great consternation to the jury), but the list of songs and artists they chose is ultimately what they, in their heart of hearts, found to be the best representation of Important Music in 2015.

S u fjan Stevens Joh n M y B e lo ve d

Lond on O’C onnor Nobo d y Han gs O u t An y mo re

TOP 8 OF 2015:

Fetty Wap - Trap Queen Kendrick Lamar - Alright

Ke nd ric k L am ar Alr i ght

Jamie xx - I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) (ft Popcaan and Young Thug) Sufjan Stevens - John My Beloved Kurt Vile - Lost my Head there Drake - Know Yourself Panda Bear - Come to Your Senses London O’Connor - Nobody Hangs Out Anymore

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Pa nd a Bear JANUARY 2016

Come t o Yo u r Se n s e s

FETTY WAP Trap Queen

Kurt Vil e Lo s t m y Head t he re

Jam ie XX I K n o w The re ’s Gon n a B e ( Go o d Ti m e s ) (f eat uring Popcaan & Young Thug)

Fetty Wap Trap Q u e e n

D rake K n o w Yo u r s e lf

V. DRAKE Know Yourself The beginning of Drake’s subjugation of 2015 began with a tweet one evening in February. It offered a link to an iTunes album featuring prayer hands and the text “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” hand-drawn in black letters across a white backdrop. And pretty much from that point on, Drake was everywhere. That of course makes the biggest song from the year’s biggest artist on the year’s best selling rap album important, and that song was “Know Yourself.” The ripple effect from Drake’s four and a half minute Ode to Himself made its presence felt throughout the entire year, and now everyone with ears is all too familiar with woe’s (Working On Excellence) the six (Toronto) and other Drizzyisms all courtesy of “Know Yourself.” It became a massive commercial success, and for a good portion of the year was the only song you really ever needed to throw on if granted aux privileges. It also marked the drying of the ink on a long-coming divorce between the Drizzy we knew from Degrassi and the new paranoid, I’m too real and I’m too big Drizzy that choked out music in 2015. None of this is meant to discredit Fetty Wap of course: “Trap Queen” did historically well, as did his debut album. With the releases of “My Way,” “679” and “Again,” Fetty undeniably disproved anyone who had called him a One Hit Wonder. Unfortunately, his unique yelping delivery wasn’t enough to beat JANUARY 2016

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out Drake. “Trap Queen” was a loveable party song that served its purpose, but at one point in 2015, Drake had every single song from IYRTITL on the Billboard Top 100. That’s the power of Drake, and “Know Yourself” is that power’s thesis statement.

WINNER: Drake - “Know Yourself”


V. PANDA BEAR Come to Your Senses Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper was released a year ago in the bitter cold of January, but the fifth album from Noah Lennox, bka Panda Bear, became instantly synonymous with the blithe feel of summer. Through the colorful and bouncy synths that built on each other, Lennox was able to create a universe of equal parts beautiful day glo and bad acid trip. Its subject matter is heavy—Lennox is trying to cope with the emotional realities of his father’s death—but it’s delivered with soaring vocals layered over a rolling acidic groove that was unlike anything else created this year. “Come to Your Senses” is an example of what the album offers as a whole, but despite the sound

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being Lennox’s most accessible solo work to date, it can’t knock off the King of West Coast Rap. Unlike many of the other chaos and outrage-filled songs on To Pimp A Butterfly, the Pharrell Williams produced “Alright” largely draws its appeal from its positivity, while still pushing the central message of TPAB. The theme of the 2015 Million Man March was “Justice or Else!” and last October when thousands of activists (including rappers such as J. Cole, Jay Electronica, and Common) congregated at the National Mall in Washington D.C. to honor the anniversary, it was the chorus of the To Pimp a Butterfly standout track that they chanted: “We gon’ be alright!”

WINNER: Kendrick Lamar - “Alright”

JAMIE XX I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) (ft Popcaan and Young Thug)

V. KURT VILE Lost my Head there In the autumn of 2015, Kurt Vile put out a phenomenal album in the form of b’lieve i’m goin down, a work that kept listeners’

heads nodding and feet moving to his new wave, folk and country-straddling brand of rock. Songs like “Pretty Pimpin” and “I’m an Outlaw” displayed his knack for combining charmingly quotidian lyrics with a perspicacity that’ve become Vile’s signature songwriting tics. “Lost my Head there” is the song that most encapsulated the album’s overall theme, a motif echoed by the hypnotic, dreamy weightlessness of the extended four-minute outro. The album is as solid of a rock-folk hybrid as you’ll hear, but it doesn’t compare with the masterpiece that was Jamie xx’s In Colour. Easily one of the top five albums of the year, the collection was strong from top to bottom. More importantly, it included the certified Banger of the Year “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times),” which featured the dancehall phenom Popcaan and rap’s dress-wearing lyrical chameleon Young Thug.   While Kurt’s album kept us going through the fall, compared to Thugger yelling “I’ma ride in that pussy like a stroller” on the tail of Jamie xx’s glimmering beat, there’s not much of a competition here.

WINNER: Jamie XX - I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) (ft Popcaan and Young Thug)


V. LONDON O’CONNOR Nobody Hangs Out Anymore London O’Connor is a 24-year old singer/rapper from New York. His debut album, O∆, (Circle Triangle) was released in June, and reflects with a fresh poignancy the confinement of suburban life and a finger-on-the-pulse take on growing up in 2015. “Nobody Hangs Out Anymore” is the best song off the album. In it, O’Connor, accuses his friends of wasting their time on the Internet and not hanging out irl, as well as his growing displeasure with their reclusion. It’s all very 2015. The song offers a unique vantage point on the Way Things Are that has value as a sort of bookmark of the times. In other words—it’s one of the most accurate and accessible social commentaries of any song all year. Despite this, it’s safe to say that O’Connor’s best singing and rapping days are ahead of him, while Sufjan, on the other hand, presented a vulnerable album that showed his maturation as an artist and a person. In Carrie & Lowell, Sufjan Stevens unpacks personal sorrow as he deals with the reality of his mother’s death. With sparse lyrics that often recall specific childhood remembrances, Sufjan paints a picture of the distant relationship he had with his mom. And no other song on Carrie & Lowell quite captures his battle against estrangement quite like “John My Beloved.” His crooning in the latter half of the song—along with the large, stunningly cold breath he takes in at the song’s close—hint at the inexpressibility of his grief. The production is simple and minimal, but the music’s strength is in its barrenness. In what is some of the

best Sufjan we’ve seen thus far, “John My Beloved” wins this matchup in a landslide.

WINNER: Sufjan Stevens John My Beloved

stratosphere—on his album. Foresight like that is industry shaking because it makes an album remarkable at its outset, but even more remarkable in hindsight. It’s trailblazing of that accord that makes a song a Song of the Year. And while it took five years for Jamie xx to create his debut album—the same amount of time it took Drake to release five records—it’s time for Jamie xx’s turn in the spotlight. The producer created a musical masterpiece that effortlessly merged the once-disparate genres of rap and electronic. He had the confidence and talent to make a mind-bending digital album at a time when the masculinity of dubstep was threatening to kill the genre. He’s also at least partly responsible for bringing Jamaica’s Popcaan to the masses in the US, as well as further solidifying Young Thug’s position in mainstream music. He’s been teasing us ever since “Far Nearer,” and his time is finally here.

DRAKE Know Yourself

V. JAMIE XX I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) (ft Popcaan and Young Thug)

WINNER: Jamie xx I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) (ft Popcaan and Young Thug)

Commercially, there’s little contest that Drake won the year. But his 2015 oeuvre was less ascendency than dominance—less game-changing than throne watching. Back in 2011 when he released Take Care, it was significant and boundary pushing. He put Kendrick Lamar on an album before anyone even knew who Kendrick Lamar was. He had Jamie xx produce “Take Care” before anyone knew who Jamie xx was. He was putting mystery R&B acts like the Weeknd—now floating in the mega pop JANUARY 2016

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Interestingly, this matchup pitted two emotionally charged songs against each other whose only real difference is the direction in which they point their emotional charge. Sufjan’s album, on the one hand, practically shakes with an introspective vulnerability, as “John My Beloved” acts as a kind of roadmap pockmarked with the artist’s personal scars. It’s as haunting and sober of a song as a victory song could possibly be. Kendrick, on the other hand, exclaims outward to a listenership that’s in pain and trying to heal: The difference between the two is the difference between a silent prayer and a rallying cry. In To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick essentially presents two sides of the same album: one, an unvarnished, chaotic work filled with unpolished emotions and hectic sounds; the other, one of the most memorable works of the year and one of the most powerful albums to deal with race ever recorded. Ultimately, Kendrick wins this matchup because this year his album and his music were bigger than him. Is “Alright” sonically or lyrically better than “John My Beloved”? Not necessarily, but in 2015 it’s more important.


WINNER Kendrick Lamar Alright

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V. JAMIE XX I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) (ft Popcaan and Young Thug) It’s only right that it would come down to this. Deciding between “Alright” and “I Know There’s Gonne Be (Good Times)” feels a lot like Solomon splitting the baby, because it’s not really about the music. Our decision here really reflects the criteria that we used for choosing The Most Important Song of 2015. In fact, it almost breaks clean down semantically— “The Most Important Song” versus “of 2015.” Sonically, audibly, musically, influentially—the winner would be Jamie xx’s “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times).” The song represents a sort of an Xzibit meme of boundary-blurring: It combines Jamie xx’s electronic/indie fusion and Young Thug’s rapper/singer/ gender-bender persona into a mixture of pre-mixed mixtures. It’s everything beautiful about music in the digital age, drawing influences from England, Jamaica, Atlanta, the 1970s, soul, dubstep, rap, electronic music—it’s a mishmash of potpourri and a blurring of the blurry. It’s innovative, it’s catchy, it’s fun, and it sounds so so good.

But it cannot win. 2015 was a scary year. So many bad things happened. Mass shootings, indiscriminate terrorism, epidemic disease, xenophobia, truculent politics— for people our age, it’s not a far cry to say that 2015 was the worst year we’ve ever lived through. And in America, above all else, 2015 was the year of the Black Lives Matter campaign. The movement, what it was forced to fight for and who it was forced to fight against, transcended every other tragedy that happened worldwide and at home, because domestic racial injustice is a uniquely and disgustingly American problem, and 2015 finally brought out into the open just how grotesquely the land of the free treats its black citizens. Following good kid, m.A.A.d City, Kendrick Lamar was in a position to launch his career into the stars with an album of bangers. He could’ve worked his fanbase into a frenzy with well calculated PR, dropped some teasing singles and then become a multi-millionaire overnight with the right mix of catchy and edgy. But he didn’t. He released an unapologetically political album, a manifesto of black pride that polarized listeners and threatened his mainstream reception, the bravery of which is something that’s probably very near impossible for you or me to understand. When To Pimp a Butterfly dropped in March, there’s no way Kendrick could’ve predicted how the rest of 2015 would unfurl, but when it did, and police brutality after racial injustice after thinly veiled murder stirred the black community into virile, violent protest, Kendrick’s “Alright” became the de facto anthem of protest. There’s no denying that Jamie xx and Young Thug’s collaboration changed music

for the better, but Kendrick’s “Alright” helped change lives for the better, communities for the better, grieving families for the better, and that’s why it’s The Most Important Song of the 2015.


Kendrick Lamar Alright J AJ N UU AR RY Y 2 20 01 16 6 AN UA

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QUE N T IN TA R A N T INO | by jacoby bancroft


t the beginning of last semester, I was faced with a question in my screenwriting class: Our professor had asked us each to say our favorite movie. Even before we started going around, I knew I was going to say Pulp Fiction. It’s a brilliantly scripted crime drama and it’s written by mad genius Quentin Tarantino. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but there was a smug part of me that thought my screenwriting professor would be proud that a student would have such a cultured response. I mean, Pulp Fiction is the holy grail of pop culture. To me, liking Pulp Fiction was the equivalent of “getting” film, and I was sure that my professor would appreciate that. Then my heart started dropping as one-by-one, students began saying Pulp Fiction as their favorite film. Pulp Fiction. Pulp Fiction. Pulp Fiction. By the time it got to me, my professor stopped and said, “Is there anyone in this room whose favorite film isn’t Pulp Fiction?” I was at a loss. I quickly said The Dark Knight and Brick, but also threw in that I too was a big fan of Pulp Fiction. I couldn’t believe I was that naïve. I had really thought Pulp Fiction was an artistic, underrated masterpiece, but that moment made me realize how wrong I was. To me, Tarantino had always been one of those directors who worked from the outskirts, an artistic anomaly who surveyed the more mainstream directors…and then went the other way. He’s a director whose voice and vision bleed through everything he does. You know when you’re watching a Quentin Tarantino film. And sure, there are an abundance of directors like that now, but to me, Tarantino has always been the first name that came to mind when thinking of famous directors with distinct styles. And yet while still distinct, I think Tarantino’s style has shifted of late— minutely, yes, but minutely in the way that tectonic shifts are minute, which is to say that they’re not. His films are still



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as eccentric an ever, but they’re not so much cult favorites anymore—they’re blockbusters. And while it’d be nice to chalk up Tarantino’s acclaim to an evolving, maturing palate of the movie-going populace, it’s really more of the opposite: Audiences haven’t grown to like Tarantino as much as Tarantino’s grown to resemble what audiences like. How did this happen? Looking back at Tarantino’s earlier work, it’s clear they were ahead of their time. His first major film, Reservoir Dogs, is a bloody gangster film with a bleak world view and bad men at its center. Violent films have always always a staple of the entertainment industry, but there was an unapologetic glee in the director’s early work that was unprecedented. I would like to think Tarantino had a big hand in ushering in the new age of ultra-violent, selfaware films, but he of course wasn’t the main factor. He was more of a product of the

times. With his films, it’s easy to tell how much he’s been influenced by the past. The old, classic directors were great because they blazed their own paths. The 70’s brought the first wave of independent filmmakers that worked to develop their own flourishes and style. Out of this era came Spielberg, Scorsese, Kubrick, etc. They weren’t influenced by anything other than their own artistic vision. More modern directors are different.

They all grew up watching those

iconic old-school directors, and as a

result, contemporary filmmakers got

to jumpstart their careers off their predecessors’ shoulders. All the great directors now are ones that were film

fanatics growing up and turned their passion into their own styles of art. Christopher Nolan, Alejandro González

Iñárritu, Wes Anderson and of course Quentin Tarantino are film loversturned-film makers. There’s such a

strong sense of admiration for the past

in all of their films, but it’s executed in extremely creative ways. We want see

these directors’ movies because they’ve proven time and again that their style

works. And perhaps more than any other director, Tarantino’s name carries a tremendous amount of weight. We seem inclined to see anything with Tarantino’s name on it because he gives us what we really want: Some sort of crime, original characters, quick-witted dialogue and (usually) a big, bloody finale. He’s violent, but somehow he makes us not only condone the violence, but root for it. I can still see the crowd going wild after Jaime Fox shot and killed Miss Laura with his pistol at the end Django Unchained. That a lone bullet somehow sent her flying back into another room in a completely exaggerated fashion only upped the audience enjoyment. And I remember how amped up I was after watching Brad Pitt’s Basterds burn down a movie theater full of Nazis and riddle Hitler’s face with bullets until it was a gooey mess.


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We as an audience have not only enabled Tarantino’s love of violence but encouraged it. We cheer the hardest when he gets exceptionally brutal, and in fact now look to his films in eager anticipation of the new ways he’s going to mutilate characters. This isn’t an odd expectation given that mainstream commercial entertainment seems to live and breathe sex and violence, but it’s odd because carnage is a pretty lowhanging fruit, and Tarantino’s early work didn’t really reach for it. His first two films, Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, are nowhere near familyfriendly, but they end in surprisingly subdued fashions. Reservoir Dogs cuts to black before the big final shoot out, and Pulp Fiction ends on interestingly optimistic note, where Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) talks two dangerous criminals out of robbing a diner. This always made me think that Tarantino began his career less violent, and that it was the audience that was responsible for egging on his more violent tendencies. We seem to like it when he goes bigger and bolder with his violence (see: Kill Bill Vol. 1) and come away disappointed when it’s a little quieter (see: Kill Bill Vol. 2). Inglourious Basterds ends with mass destruction, as does Django Unchained. And if the trailers and basic premise are any indication, the January 1st premiere of The Hateful Eight looks like another violent outing. There’s no doubt it’s going to make a lot of money, and there’s no doubt that it’s going to continue Tarantino’s ante-upping carnage streak, but maybe it’s not because Tarantino wants it that way, it’s because we do. So now we live in a world where everyone’s favorite movie seems to be Pulp Fiction. I used to think that Tarantino was too different and violent to ever be fully embraced as a mainstream film director, but now I see how wrong I was. Tarantino’s art carnage is the new mainstream for cinema, and whether he helped usher in this new status quo or he’s simply a byproduct of it, the outcome is the same. The entertainment industry is different now, and people like Tarantino will be at the forefront of it for many years to come.

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HO T OR NO T | by gabi gimson and inca mingus • photography by charlotte mcclure Surviving the quicksand of corporate America means just knowing not to struggle, but dammit the high of snapping the weekend pic that finally dethrones Jenna from HR’s photo of the garlic beef from that authentic Thai place—that’s worth sinking a few more feet into suicidal hatred.

Sometimes even taking a moment alone to contemplate existential nothingness still leaves you struggling to understand why those closest to you continue to engage in self-destructive behavior.

Nothing says waste of money like the entertainment slurring out the difference between a clown and a balloon artist every time he gets two poodle requests in a row.

Urban foraging becomes difficult after the knees give out, so assemble a team of indentured servants, preferably ones that you’ve created and trained for this express purpose. If the baby eats a cigarette butt, so be it—at least its toxins aren’t Whole Foods brand.

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You’d be past the infinite jest bullshit too if you’d spent five weeks breaking in a cherry pair of Sperry’s, only to find the toe box still pinched your bunion harder than one of Dad’s drunken titty twisters.

All the I-told-you-so’s in the world don’t even come close to the feeling of being the only one prepared to lead when greatness is thrust upon you.

TFW Mike Huckabee is next in line and you finally get to feed him his beloved pet Labrador.


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The key to a successful marriage is being able to take a moment to gather yourself and turn down the instant you realize that the Trail of Lites must be a totally different thing.

Do you want people to know that you consume controlled substances, but only in very moderate amounts? Forever 21 Men has come out with a line of shirts just for you! My personal favorite reads “Cocaine: 2ish bumps.”

The city witches can disguise themselves in black fest garb all they want, but a witch is a witch—the Puritans knew it and Roald Dahl knew it. They’re not buying all those herbs and spices to season their baths, people!

If ever your mom insults you by asking you to “neigh like a horsey,” exceed her expectations and become the horsey. It’s called method acting, mom! True thespians aren’t created, they’re born—now brush my mane.

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TFW you’re wearing Uncle Jay’s bug vision goggles when the gluten-free psilocybin hits, and all of a sudden you realize that even though everyone, like, says blue and green and red, they could all be, like, seeing totally different colors and no one would, even know.

Men, there’s no shame in chubby chasing. If the mere sight of that heifer’s front utter pussy area nearly rocks you off your orbit, then do your best acoustic rendition of DMB’s “Satellite” and charm the hooves off her till the cows come home.

It’s easy to see why it’s so hard to look past stereotypes all day when deep inside you know you’re just one big walking parody of yourself.

Perfecting ass-grab form is essential, but without any hand-toass contact your fraternity brothers may confuse your attempt at a heteronormative power move with a Fosse-esque jazz hand. So keep it straight and practice on Chad or Brett, instead. JANUARY 2016

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C A N ’ T MI S S E V E N T S | by study breaks staff







For three days, a flock of living, breathing mixologists just like you’ve read about in the papers will be muddling, enervating and infusing with as much self-importance as they can muster.


Watch as the secondbest team from the Pac 12 plays the third-best team from the Big 12 in a testament to the death of the inferiority complex.

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Fun fact: San Antonio has the largest MLK March in the country.

*See page 68

For one week only, venues across the city will open to the public and feature shows with free long lines, free bands that couldn’t normally muster paying crowds, and free regret.

Five weeks of unjuried, untested local theatre split into four categories: sub-25 minutes, sub-90 minutes, BYOVenue, and Mi Casa Es Su Teatro. It’s all free, unpredictable and local.

If you ever need a way to turn tears into pearls like Amir in Hosseini’s book that’s NOT ABOUT KITES, no need to stab your wife or chop an onion—just go to this concert.




A girl once told me that the worst date she ever went on was to a Monster Truck show, which is funny, because “Take Her to a Monster Truck Show” is at the top of most guys’ Best Date lists.

Jan 18-23





Jan 9

Participating restaurants offer fixed menus for cheap, so it’s a great way to eat at places you couldn’t normally afford, aka everywhere.




Kanye actually penned “Pussy had me floatin’/ Feel like Deepak Chopra” at a D. Chopra lecture, so imagine what seeing him could do for you!


Drinking game: Take a shot anytime someone at the exhibit says “How is this art” or “I could do that.”


Jan 15-Feb 15

An adult version of when everyone buys posters during the first


Trade secret—Russian House’s Monday halfoff vodka nights are an alcoholic’s Edengrad. Second, celebrate Russian Christmas for $30 and get an all-access buffet of Russian delicacies, traditional Slavic folk performances, live music and fortune telling.

Imagine an American Wurstfest and then add bacon-themed memorabilia.

Cowboy boots, the stale scent of cow turd, overpriced Bud Light and tykes barebacking sheep: It’s everything great about Texas.

A convention for people who love spicy food, not a convention for like-minded lemon zest lovers (trust us).

The perfect event for anyone whose New Years Resolution was to do more things they’ll regret.


week of school.



“An entirely serious Shakespeare play with a single drunken actor thrown into the mix.” Tickets are $18.


Surround yourself with people who have tattoos until you work up the courage to get that infinity symbol you’ve always wanted wait somebody else has that?


Contrary to popular belief January is actually named after Janice, my two-faced ex-wife.




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Actual Patients

THE SUN GOD ALSO ADVISES: Practical Tips, Tricks and Words of Wisdom from San Marcos’ Sun God Bully Behaviors Are Just Wrong By The Sun God (Dillon Scott) As an Aries I naturally side with the underdogs. So when I sense a bully in the vicinity, I start seeing red.

I was eighteen. My best buddy Jeff Roberts and I were standing in line waiting to get into a cheap-ass-beer kind of joint. Jeff is a funny person, to me at least. Others might think he’s a wise guy. So he says something funny and nonthreatening to a gentleman standing in front of us. Suddenly there are three guys towering over Jeff. One of them goes “Blah-Blah-Blah” and pushes Jeff. Into the fracas I fly. Blood is spilled and we all leave the club a little worse for the wear. Except that I’m feeling pretty good inside for helping Jeff. Flash forward to some 40-ish man belittling a Texas State freshperson about not throwing the Frisbee right. This same man then throws the Frisbee across the river, hitting an unsuspecting student with it. This goes on for years because the man is an “icon” and nobody says anything about it. Until one day I decide to stand up to this bully. One small shove from me. One giant shove for all underdogs.

I get it that most bullies are just looking for the attention they never got as kids. But allowing inappropriate behavior is the same as condoning it.

Interestingly enough, this bully behavior can also be found anywhere free speech takes place. For example, there’s a statue on the Texas State campus named The Stallions where people can gather to share their ideas. Sometimes they bring bubble machines and dance (I’ve been known to do my dance there a few times). Occasionally some preacher dude shows up shouting at students and telling them they’re sinners. Pushing your beliefs on someone is the same as pushing them on the playground. Not cool.

Being kind and “paying it forward” is a positive and loving way to make our society better. But sometimes we need to take a stand against bullies and tell them they’re wrong, in whatever way works best for you. Confronting a bully is a hard thing to do sometimes, but I look at it this way: It’s like going to one of those character-building workshops free-of-charge. Except that you feel better because you did it all by yourself. And you did it because it was the right thing to do.

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Study Breaks Magazine  
Study Breaks Magazine