S OME T HING ’ S R O T T ING IN T HE C I T Y OF A U S T IN T HE S UN GOD OF S A N M A R C O S A ND T HE RI V E R T H AT R A N T HR OUGH HIM
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SHAMIR Getting to know: Shamir, the 21-year old countertenor musician behind the 2015 LP Ratchet
FAKE OR CAMPUS WATCH: Half are fake, half are from the UTPD crime blotterâ€”can you tell the difference?
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CHIPOTLE: THE POLITICS IN YOUR BURRITO SOMETHING’S ROTTING IN THE CITY OF AUSTIN A RIVER R AN THROUGH HIM: SAN MARCOS’ DISPLACED SUN GOD KILLING KRIS KRINGLE THE VERY REAL NOT A JOKE CURSE OF LIL B WINTER FASHION THE IMPROBABLE FUN FUN FUN FEST THE FORCE IS STRONG WITH THIS GENER ATION SUPERHERO OVERLOAD
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NO T E F R OM T HE E DI T OR | by mark stenberg
As you may have noticed, food writing has become a large part of Study Breaks.
This month we profiled Jason White, a remarkably talented and internationally renowned fermentologist, which yes, is a thing. In November, we featured food critic Mike Sutter’s taco walkabout, and in October we showed you Yarrow, one TSU
student’s illegal pop-up restaurant. Plus, there’s also my dressed up Yelp screeds that still semi-pretend to be restaurant reviews—this month’s Chipotle piece doubles as a how-to guide for anti-soapbox soapboxing.
There are two explanations for the increase in food writing. The first reason, and
go ahead and imagine me doing this number
happen to decide the content of the magazine. Go figure.
, is that I love food and
The second reason is that especially within the last decade, cooking and dining
have become fixtures in pop culture. Call it the rise of chef culture or the foodietization of America, but nowadays where and what you eat is as much of a social
determinant as the kind of music you listen to and the clothes you wear—things that are called ‘tastes’ and ‘palates’ for a reason, by the way—and as a result, eating well in America has become both more democratized and more sophisticated.
Food porn like The Chef’s Table and Mind of a Chef leaves tween gourmands
breathless, while accountants dig in at ‘vegetable-driven’ gastro pubs and frat bros Editor-In-Chief @Fischo_Yachortoyle
cure hangovers that they got from crushing small batch craft-beers with phở and
poutine. Meanwhile, chefs aren’t just rock stars anymore—they’re artists, writers
and designers as well. Danny Bowien hosted several NYFW events this fall, Eric Ripert writes weekly for the Wall Street Journal and Paul Qui is opening a restaurant that promises to be the darling of Miami’s Art Basel. Food is now no longer a superfluous or fringe component of culture, but tangled right in the thick of it.
Because of this newfound sophistication, the temptation to mock goons like Guy
Fieri and Rachel ‘Spoontula’ Ray has become nearly irresistible. But Flavortown wasn’t built in a day, and like an ecosystem that emerged after a volcanic eruption, Bobby Flay et al.’s slash-and-burn cuisine was the forest fire needed to clear the food landscape for the saplings of good food.
As a result, popular interest in food now extends beyond knowing how to cook
it. A more mainstream interest in the anthropology of food has changed how we
look at things like latkes, tamales, gingerbread cookies and black-eyed peas. Most of America is finally reexamining their stuffy old traditions, and they’re finding
some vibrant stories tucked away in the stuffing. Because as much as we write
about the ‘Next Big Thing’ in food, sometimes looking back is much more exciting.
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C ON T R IB U T OR S S E C T ION | by sb staff
01. JACOBY BANCROFT is a fourth year college student at the University
of Nevada-Reno, where he’s pursuing degrees in Journalism and Communication Studies. He’s
passionate about all things Entertainment, and
has vowed to watch every movie and television show ever made. He hopes to one day become a
billionaire playboy who dresses up like a bat at night to fight crime.
02. WILL STRECKER is an English Major at the University of Texas at
Austin. A fifth year senior, he still has no plan after
graduation. Always the optimist, he expects to “figure it out” when May comes around.
03. ELIJAH WATSON
is a freelance writer who has written for Complex,
MTV, Noisey and Uproxx. He refers to himself as the ‘Black Jack Kerouac’ and hopes the nickname catches
on someday. Until then, you can get to know him on Instagram or Twitter @elijahcwatson.
04. JOHN DAVID WHITE
is a lover and a fighter who also has pics of his dog and original photo captions on Instagram @ jdw_burps
05. GABI GIMSON hails from Atlanta, Georgia, and is in her last year at St. Edward’s University, studying literature with a focus on creative writing. She is a loving mother to her vicious Pit Bull pup, Diamond Gucci
Venus Williams. Gabi spends most her free time meticulously grooming her eyebrows and writing odes to Fred Durst.
06. MICHAEL TYLER is an entry-level worker with one year experience who was recently relocated to North Dakota.
07. KARINNA LOPEZ
ATTENTION STUDENT WRITERS: We want you to write for us. Whether you’re interested in just a few bylines or a steady position, Study Breaks is looking for talented student writers who are also hopefully maybe a tiny little bit funny. If that sounds like you, email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. If that sounds like a friend of yours, send an email with their info and look forward to them definitely thanking you later.
is a fourth-year Retail Merchandising major at the
University of Texas at Austin who aspires to one day take over the world. In the meantime, she lives dayby-day, balancing being a student and becoming an adult. Follow her journey on Instagram @kariyissel
08. MARK STENBERG
is the Editor of Study Breaks, as well as a fan of food,
literature, writing, drinking and jokes. He lives in the gutters of San Antonio. Follow him on Instagram @ fischo_yachortoyle
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T E X A S T O A S T | by mark stenberg • photography by ian friedel
TEX AS TOAST: CHIPOTLE What do we talk about when we talk about Chipotle? Are we talking about the pop culture phenomenon? The restaurant that has Jonathan Franzen, Aziz Ansari and Jonathan Safran Foer writing quirky novellas on the sides of paper bags? The one that has the POTUS reaching over sneeze-guards, Tinderellas offering lascivious bargains in exchange for burritos, and guacamole that’s replaced a fridge full of Vitamin Water as the symbolic foodstuff of unimaginable wealth? Or are we talking about Chipotle the business phenomenon? The restaurant that quietly created the entire concept of ‘fast casual’ and then systematically monopolized it? The one bending fast food conglomerates over their knee and spanking them with quarterly growth so aggressive that burger oligarchs haven’t sat comfortably since 1993? Or are we talking about Chipotle, the ideology chain that also serves burritos? The Mexican restaurant that calls tofu sofrito and swung a product recall into a PR campaign? The restaurant that uses scarecrows in disturbing digital shorts, and vocally opposes GMOs, synthetic hormones, soil pollution and a laundry list of other environmental offenses? Technically, we’re talking about all three. Since its inception, Chipotle has evaded traditional pigeonholes: It is at once a cultural phenomenon, business phenomenon, ideological phenomenon and burrito restaurant. It is complex, mystifyingly and frustratingly so. And it just so happens that Chipotle and I have a very complicated history. It started as a love story. As soon as I turned sixteen, I went to the nearest Chipotle and applied for a job. Crushingly, they rejected my application, saying I had to be eighteen to handle the alcohol. As often happens, my thwarted love turned into unrequited love which turned into passionate love. I became Chipotle’s unappointed apostle, spreading the good news of the company that managed to both do good and be good. They held themselves to stringent sourcing and ethical standards, but still made the best pound-for-pound burrito in town. As a senior in high school, I gave a ten-minute persuasive speech on Chipotle’s merits, laying out its objective superiority to its competitors, based both on culinary and ethical criteria. Chipotle donated burritos to the presentation. Then I went to college. I fell deeply in love with the organic
food movement, drinking Michael Pollan’s locally-sourced KoolAid, making wishes as I rubbed Mark Bittman’s bald head and keeping a rabbit foot from a humanely raised and respectfully slaughtered hare in my burlap back pocket. In other words, I generally became a huge prick about food. I wondered why every restaurant couldn’t be a Chipotle, every grocery store a Whole Foods, every farmer a Joel Salatin, every chef an Alice Waters, and every man, woman and child an educated, ethical eater. I chastised my parents for buying eggs from Guantanamo chickens and tomatoes that had to be at least 80 percent pesticide. My mom rolled her eyes even as she paid for the groceries. I watched Food Inc., co-founded a community garden, flirted with veganism and somewhere in my sophomore year, reached peak douche. All the while though, semester after semester of philosophical relativism and ideological elbow rubbing had finally worn down my zealotry. Gradually, I began to realize that things rarely operated in absolutes. Slowly, slowly, slowly, I began to see shades of gray where I used to see black and white. Over time, this enlightened skepticism made its way toward my long held convictions about food. Maybe, I wondered, savoring the scandalous pleasure of my apostasy, just maybe, Monsanto wasn’t pure evil. Maybe Satisfries were a step in the right direction and maybe some people should eat margarine. Maybe all the anti-establishment, rooftop-farmer pamphlets I’d been bookmarking my raw cookbooks with were giving me a one-sided perspective. Maybe somebody needed to tell Big Ag’s side of the story, or McDonalds’, or GMO’s or milk’s. Don’t they deserve their academic apologists, their habeas corpus? The current food system is the current food system for a reason— nobody strong-armed America into dogpiling bacon-stuffed pizza crust, 4th Meal and Shaq Soda onto their diets. So who exactly is to blame? With ‘Consider the Source’ tattooed on my knuckles, I began my 80-page senior thesis defending processed food. Ironically, throughout college and while writing my magnum opus, I worked as a cook at a farm-to-table restaurant. The topic of my thesis was such heresy, such blatant sacrilege, that I had to lie to
my coworkers about it. I felt like a lame undercover spy, praising local pea shoots by day, exposing their environmental hypocrisy by night. My thesis, “Mastering the Art of Food Processing: An Appeal for the Destigmatization of Processed Food,” produced the expected results. Aghast audience members nearly rioted during the Q&A session following my presentation, demanding I name my corporate backers or be drawn and quartered. When an audience member, with the confidence of a chess master announcing checkmate, declared that surely You Are What You Eat, the air went out of the room. How could I counter such definitive, empirical evidence? “Well,” I said, “I actually chose another quote from Anthelme Brillat-Savarin [the man who said that] for the dedication page of my thesis. Savarin said that ‘The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of the human race than the discovery
of a star.’ So I kind of think he’d be in my corner.’” Witness protection quickly ushered me out of the room, shielding me from the non-GMO tomatoes being viciously hurled at me, and three years later I write to you from a remote cave hidden deep in the Shoshone Mountains. It was at this time that I began the current chapter in my relationship with Chipotle. I was saddened. I saw Chipotle as John Nash in A Beautiful Mind, schizophrenically tacking coded newspapers to the walls of a shack behind his house—a brilliant, gifted man frittering away his time and talent in pursuit of an illusory, misguided goal. Now fundamentally, I’m not saying that Chipotle is not an amazing restaurant. Everything there always tastes great. Their meats are succulent and aromatic, grilled veggies giving and sweet, salsas warm and deep. Their guacamole, to paraphrase writer Rowan Jacobsen, tastes like a Werner Herzog film. Make no mistake, Chipotle’s food alone would’ve made the restaurant a success. In fact, if I may be so bold, I would respectfully submit that many fans of Chipotle go—and now I know I’m out of line—they go maybe, just maybe, because the food is good, not because they only eat organic, non-GMO fare and finally found a burrito place that matches their rigorous ethical standards. Of course, Chipotle knows this. They know that most people eat there because the food is good. They know their average consumer has, at best, a middling interest in saving the world from Michael Taylor. But using the ancient Japanese art of marketing karate, they’ve mastered the ability of turning the force of their opponents’ attacks against them. By using their karate, any critique of Chipotle’s commitment to the environment, instead of being rebutted, is welcomed as fuel for their martyrdom-image engine. Yes, they don’t have to serve organic food, but they’re just so darned committed to their ideals that they do it even though it’s more work. According to their website, Chipotle aims to be a place “where people who choose to avoid GMOs can still enjoy eating.” This is good. But what about people like me, my family, friends and everyone I’ve unofficially polled, who don’t go to Chipotle to
into an ideological procrustean bed, boxing it up neatly for the sake of simplicity and squeaky clean brand image.
cast a vote? What about the people who feel like the issue may be greyer than right and wrong, the people who ordered one burrito hold the politics? The easiest solution would be to eat burritos elsewhere, like Cabo Bob’s or Freebirds, restaurants that make delicious food free of moral surcharge. But that evades the point. The point is that Chipotle forces a complex issue—how we feed ourselves—
The truth is that very few concepts are completely black and white, and modern agriculture is certainly not one of them. As such, all parties involved in the discussion must observe a necessary pourparler: that the first step to improving the food system is simply avoiding the temptation to oversimplify the dialogue surrounding it into false, digestible binaries. (Read that sentence twice, please.) Unless of course, the fuzzy warmth of moral righteousness is just as important to Chipotle’s bottom line as their burritos are. If that were the case, then they couldn’t simply remove unwanted pesticides and GMOs, they’d have to make sure everyone knows they’re removing them, hears them blowing their trumpets in the street. They’d have to do things like produce videos that pat themselves on the back, throw hip music festivals that flash their benevolence in neon lights, and explain to anyone with ears how exactly they stopped serving a menu item because it didn’t meet their standards. Which, coincidentally enough, is exactly what I saw when I approached Chipotle with two friends on a warm night in October. Carnitas were back, the sign said. Before I’d even stepped foot inside, I was informed that they’d been able to find a new supplier that meets their famously high demands (if you didn’t remember, that’s why they suspended it in the first place). I’m not going to review Chipotle’s food—we both know it’s delicious. You’re not going to stop eating there and neither am I (unless I’m banned after this), but next time you do, remember one thing. Don’t let your love for burritos politicize you without your consent. Learn both sides of the story. (You do that with everything else, why not food?) Understand that agriculture is a complicated issue, and complicated issues are rarely black and white. I’m happy that Chipotle starts the conversation, but let’s not muck that dialogue up by watering it down it. Let them make your burritos; you make your opinions. DECEMBER 2015
THESE FRUITS WERE MADE FERMENTING: IF S OME T HING ’ S R O T T ING IN T HE CI T Y OF AU S T IN , I T ’ S P R OB A BLY J A S ON W HI T E ’ S
Jason White, a 29-year old chef in Austin, is tall, tan and accidentally handsome, winnowy and taut in the way that only hot hours in cramped kitchens can make you. He’s also an international pioneer in the trendy new science of culinary fermentation. Although as a cooking method it’s an ancient practice, the science behind fermentation is relatively unexplored. Its ability to create robust, idiosyncratic flavors out of next to nothing, however, has elite kitchens across the world clamoring to change that. DECEMBER 2015
S OME T HING I S R O T T ING IN T HE C I T Y OF AU S T IN | by mark stenberg • photography by stephen dement photography & alicynn fink
n the muggy August morning we meet, White’s wearing all black and carrying an empty red tote bag around his shoulder. We were going foraging so that he could make a wild vinegar from our findings, despite the fact that White—unlike many modern chefs—typically tries to avoid foraging. “It’s something that I respect, absolutely, and I think it’s very valuable as far as connecting to the Earth,” White says, “but it’s something I’ve veered away from recently because I’m constantly battling to support urban farmers.” This kind of perspective is rare. Most chefs wouldn’t consider the impact of their foraging on local farmers, and even if they did, they probably wouldn’t consider that impact negative. But where others see non-relation, White sees subtle interconnectivity. This should come as no surprise, though. In fermentation, White’s specialty after all, nothing is unrelated. White was raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but split his time as a child between living in the city and living with his family in the nearby Sandia mountains. When he was two years old, a car hit him head-on going 60 miles per hour. “Ever since then,” he said, smiling, “I’ve had a more open view of the world, a little bit more luminous.” His family in the mountains lived frugally. There were about sixty people in their village, and many of them didn’t have modern amenities or refrigeration. As a result, they cooked what they could and preserved everything else, often making cheese from their goat and cow milk. These early years with his family in the mountains, the days and weeks he spent running through trees looking for silent spots and living off the land,
would go on to later influence White’s relationship with food, nature and farming. After a few years, his family moved to a morgue that had been converted to a house in Roswell, New Mexico. The building sat in the middle of 100 square acres of land, and had a rodeo arena and ample farmland that they filled with cows, chickens and goats. White hardly saw other people. As a result, he became very connected to the region and its geography, and it was there that he first became interested in the geology and organic structures of the world around him. His family moved again when White was eleven, this time to San Antonio. In the city for the first time, he didn’t adjust well. White dropped out of school in the 8th grade and never went back. From the ages of 12-23, he became a self-described
“city kid,” roaming the streets and getting into trouble. He became obsessed with music and audio engineering, and built his own sound studio so he could compose music and write Linux code. “Eventually,” says White, “I got in some trouble and ended up not having the choice of whether or not I could make music. That’s when I started cooking.” White’s taken me to the western edge of the Greenbelt, a swath of wilderness in south Austin, to forage. Growing up with New Mexico’s strong Native American influence, White developed an appreciation for foraging and terroir that’s heavily evident in his ferments and affinity for local product. But unlike many chefs, understanding the anthropology of local food is just as important to White as using it. He rhapsodizes about the differences
in food culture between the nomadic and static Native American tribes, the effects of those differences on modern food cultures, and how restaurants worldwide are beginning to see anthropology as a critical component of cooking. In Texas, where local tribes were largely nomadic and the native presence was mostly eradicated, chefs and farmers are forced to either look to Mexican culture for guidance on growing and cooking indigenous foods (not the worst thing in the world), or they have to learn through trial and error.
hough he’s looking for bay laurel, White periodically stops to identify different edible flowers. The bright red beacons of Turk’s Cap crowns guide our path like tiny taillights, but the summer heat has withered them, muting their natural sweetness. White’s furtively looking for acorns to use for a pet project of his, acorn mochi, but it’s too early in the year. He ends up filling his bag with violet day-flowers, tiny wild sunflowers, handfuls of Turk’s Caps and nature’s very own Red Hots—chile pequin. He picks the Turk’s Caps reluctantly, their ubiquity making them a little old hat for him, but he uses the flower as an example of fermentation’s Midas touch. “With very little you can produce something extraordinary,” says White. “You can get so many variations from one organic structure. I could make seventeen different things out of this one leaf, instead of four things that are all pretty similar.” “If I were to ferment Turk’s Caps by themselves and didn’t add any leaves, then the flavor would be much sweeter. But say I already had the flower vinegar and then I combined it with the leaf vinegar on a dish, it would be two distinctly different tastes of the same plant.” The ability of fermentation to create multiple shades of the same flavor is one of the reasons the science is in such high-demand, and one of the reasons why White has been asked to stage and teach classes to kitchen staffs throughout Austin, including lauded restaurants like qui and Barley Swine. Rene Redzepi, the head chef of noma, once famously likened flavors to letters in an alphabet where the dishes are words. The more letters you have at your disposal, Redzepi said, the more
beautiful of a word you can create. Through his fermentation, White is essentially giving letters to chefs that no one else has, which is an asset that’s hard to overvalue in the culinary world. The intricacy of his ferments are astounding, ranging from the recognizable: cured olives, pickled cucumbers and strawberry vinegar, to the unheard of: koji fermented blood-orange kosho; pinto-bean shell kombucha; fermented Hungarian pepper hot sauce; leek scapes in green rhubarb and juniper brine; eggplant fermented in gooseberry husk nuka zuke; quail eggs covered in lactic acid from fermented beets and Swiss chard ash, wrapped in corn husks and Texas salt; and hollowed out kefir lime cured in kombu and salt, stuffed with root puree, smoked and fermented with leeks, to name a few.
e posts pictures of many of his projects on his Instagram page @TeamSilent, which acts as his virtual resume. He’s amassed a cult following of chefs and journalists from across the country that routinely swap ratios and trade secrets in the comments section, and it was through his Instagram and picturesque experiments that I first stumbled upon White. But I was neither his first nor his most impactful stalker. Several years ago, a pastry chef at Uchiko in Austin contacted White after he posted a picture of a dayflower vinegar he’d made. The chef said that he liked what White was doing and wanted to experiment with his product. At the time, White had been working at Koch Ranches, a boutique country store in San Antonio. He had been cooking at several restaurants in San Antonio but had gotten burnt out, and although he went to Koch to get away from cooking, as fate would have it the store had just gotten a fermentation starter kit. White’s lifelong interest in chemistry and organics gave him a basic understanding of the science behind fermentation, and he began experimenting with different materials. Soon after the word had spread and lines begun to grow long, Uchiko contacted him. Since White didn’t have a car, his wife drove to Austin with his jar of vinegar buckled in the passenger seat. The chefs loved it and offered him a chance to stage, chef-speak for ‘work for free.’ For several weeks, White took a Greyhound from San Antonio to Austin to work. His commute eventually paid off. Uchiko officially hired him as a line-cook and unofficially hired him as their chief fermentation expert. After working at Uchiko for more than a year-and-a-half, White was given the opportunity to stage at the Nordic Food Lab in Copenhagen. And although he has since declined the invitation (there will be nothing rotting in the state of Denmark), the invitation shows the international reach of White’s influence. In addition to noma, White is working with an El Bulli alum on a highly-anticipated project that he’s asked to remain
secret, as well as several other projects that he requested remain undisclosed. I can say with impunity, however, that the breadth and scope of these ventures are indicators that Austin might soon be a culinary destination not only nationally, but globally. DECEMBER 2015
mmer & Rye, the restaurant White is helping open, will be a large part of that reorientation. The concept is the brainchild of Kevin Fink, a Thomas Keller trained chef hailing from The French Laundry in Yountville, California. Among other ambitious goals, the restaurant plans to have a gardening program that uses traditional Korean macrobiotic techniques, in addition to house-milling their own grains for handmade pastas and fermentation projects, as well as offering a dim-sum menu that will allow them the menu flexibility to change offerings as the seasons dictate. A media dinner that Study Breaks wasn’t invited to provides a glimpse of what that might look like. Fink made a tea scone flour tajarin with hoja santa petals, papalo pesto, Genovese basil and dried shrimp, which at least conceptually, is years ahead of the competition.
marigold and a cucumber as sweet as a cantaloupe. One of the keys to Barger’s unrivaled produce is the philosophy behind it. Instead of just planting what grows, Barger plants what wants to grow. Just because something can grow in a region, doesn’t mean that it’s built to. For instance, during the summer any plants that sport big, leafy greens like chard or kale, lose a lot of water to transpiration through their leaves’ large surface area. On the other hand, native plants like lambs quarters that have evolved in the oppressive Texas heat have naturally smaller leaves. And, as the heat increases, the leaves shrink to conserve even more moisture, which means they take less water to grow and their flavor isn’t negatively impacted by the heat. Not only can plants like lambs quarters, begonia and Malabar spinach grow here, they were built to grow here. As a result, a lot of the produce growing at Barger’s farm is completely foreign to most people. So, as she and White walk through the calculated chaos that is her garden, Barger points out plants, flowers and leaves that she thinks White could work with, and then lets him taste her suggestions. I watched White’s eyes flutter as he chewed the leaf of a peach tree. And here’s the real kicker: Since
Barger is growing things that no one
else grows, and White is fermenting things that no one else ferments, the two combined are responsible for creating flavors that have never really existed
before now. Which, as I shouldn’t have to tell you, is very, very cool.
White is a fermentologist, and so
he more than most knows that a good
product is the result of not just good ingredients,
between those ingredients. He’ll be the first to tell you that his growing renown
The restaurant intends to source what they can locally,
including everything they can get from Dorsey Barger and HausBar Farms. In addition to both being Study Breaks favorites, Barger and White are also frequent collaborators who feed off
each other’s creative vision. White took me to HausBar in east Austin to see the unique way Barger runs her farm, as well as how she and White bounce ideas off each other.
On a tour that may or may not have ended with squirrel-meat
tacos, I followed Barger and White as they sampled everything from the hoja santa and papalo that inspired Emmer & Rye’s
pasta dish, to pigweed, purslane, amaranth, salad burnet,
to farmers, chefs, ideas, ingredients,
nature, experience—are far from unrelated. He is constantly
seeking and giving advice, helping anyone who wants to listen, collaborating with anyone who has new ideas and sharing his luminous, inspired vision.
“Kitchens need to have more than just the knowledge of farm
to table,” says White. “They need to know how farms function,
and how kitchens can be inspired by that functionality. Are
we only inspired by the whole flower or by the pollen or by the petal? Or does how it’s fermented or the way it grows inspire
us, or how the soil’s treated—basically, where do we stop being inspired?”
S UN GOD | by gabi gimson • photography by i am san marcos
TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE PARK After Memorial Day Flooding Displaced San Marcos’ Beloved Sun God, Dillon Scott Struggles to Return
On Labor Day of 2015, torrential downpours caused rivers in Central Texas to rise to record-shattering levels and break from their flood banks. Many homes and businesses were destroyed and countless more were severely damaged, causing an estimated $27 million in infrastructure damage. In addition, the flooding resulted in 23 confirmed deaths. One Hays County resident affected by the disaster is a particularly well-known figure among Texas State students and faculty. Dillon Scott, better known to San Marcos locals as Sun God, Poseidon, King Triton or Zeus (his favorite), lost his home in the flood and was uprooted from the place he loves most, a city he calls “San Marvel”. Because of the flood, Scott has been forced to stay with extended family in Connecticut, in what he hopes to be a temporary arrangement. He is deliberate when he speaks over the phone and is quick to laugh about his reputation. He has a self-conscious confidence, as if he understands that he intrigues people, but knows that not pandering to that intrigue is key to sustaining it. Scott was born in Germany and moved constantly because his dad was in the military. He grew up in Killeen, Texas, for most of his childhood, until moving to Austin to go to the University of Texas. After graduating, Scott moved to Houston to work as a journalist for a few different oil and gas companies, but he got tired of the corporate world and found it increasingly difficult to cope with life in the city. He struggled with alcohol and drug dependency issues for years before experiencing a Come-To-Jesus Moment and beginning Alcoholics Anonymous. “I call myself a recovered alcoholic,” says Scott. “On December, 7 1996, I cried out to God for help, God brought me to AA, and AA brought me to God. That was my spiritual awakening.” He packed up and headed to Marble Falls with no career prospects and no plans. On the way, he stopped to visit his mom in San Marcos. The experience of visiting his mother’s house was a sort of homecoming for Scott, as he was instantly enamored with the leisurely pace of the town where he’d spent several childhood summers. “I visited Aquarena Springs as a kid,” says Scott, “and I came back for school briefly. But of all the places in the entire world where I feel like I belong, it’s San Marcos.” From that fateful visit in 2000 to the Memorial Day floods fifteen years later, Dillon Scott found solace at the headwaters of the San Marcos River. But it wasn’t until a friend introduced him to Bassnectar that he found his passion for Electronic Dance Music.
“I visited Aquarena Springs as a kid,” says Scott, “and I came back for school briefly. But of all the places in the entire world where I feel like I belong, it’s San Marcos.”
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“The dance has actually evolved over time,” says Scott. “It was the hands first, for sure. I’d kind of move them very quickly, like vibration. Then, as I got more comfortable with it, I started jumping up and down, and then I started twirling.”
CAN YOU FIND THE SUN GOD?
As he listened to EDM on his iPod Shuffle, the river began to take on a new meaning. He became aware of what he calls “synchronicity,” a force that he credits for leading him to San Marcos. It’s also the same force he credits for driving him out. Scott began experimenting with dubstep, techno and house music, but no other sub-genre gave him the same kind of outof-body experience that trance music did. The dancing that he’s famous for began unassumingly, just a lighthearted release brought on by the beauty of San Marcos and the rhythm of trance music. But Scott soon began to feel like something more spiritual was happening, as if some sort of divine force were overtaking him. What started as a pulsing hand motion toward the sun soon evolved into what my ballet instructors would call “working the space,” i.e. uncontrollable twirling. “The dance has actually evolved over time,” says Scott. “It was the hands first, for sure. I’d kind of move them very quickly, like vibration. Then, as I got more comfortable with it, I started jumping up and down, and then I started twirling.” A spiritual man, Scott believes he’s inspired by a higher power, although he’s reluctant to call that power “God.” He compares himself to the whirling Sufi Dervishes, religious dancers whose trademark spinning routine is considered to be a form of physical meditation. I imagine his white, shoulder-length hair tucked into a lampshade-shaped sikke, and his pooka-shell necklace peeping out from his destegul. It’s a fun thing to imagine. “Rumi, the poet and mystic, really speaks to me,” says Scott.
“He was a Sufi, and his particular religious order had Whirling Dervishes. They experience the same thing I experience: The more I spin, the closer I get to God. Maybe I get dizzy or something.” Several years ago, Texas State students and park regulars began to notice the whirling river dervish. At first, people
approached him tentatively, purely curious, but Scott eventually established a reputation as a pillar of wisdom for the young people who hung out at the park. “The kids,” as Scott calls them, would seek his council on everything from relationships to school. In return, he made friends with the students and started receiving invites to campus parties. Soon, Scott had become a local celebrity and was ordained the Sun God by students. While he admits to enjoying the attention, he’s still surprised by the amount of interest that his dancing has garnered. “This whole Sun God thing happened,” explains Scott, “and I went, ‘Okay, if you guys enjoy it, then I’m glad.’ I’m glad I can make them laugh, or be an inspiration, or whatever. But I really just do it, because—um—because I can’t help myself.” While Scott gradually embraced his newfound fame, there were some who didn’t appreciate the rising Sun God. A highly-publicized beef broke out
between Scott and Frisbee Dan, another Sewell Park fixture, when Frisbee Dan insulted Scott in an interview with a Texas State News program. Frisbee Dan blindsided Scott by saying—completely unprovoked—that Scott lives with his mother and has no job (which at the time was true). The interview caused a rivalry between the Sewell celebs that came to a head in 2012. Allegedly, Frisbee Dan threw a frisbee that landed at Sun God’s feet (the Earth is his footstool). This blatant antagonization forced Sun God to confront Frisbee Dan, which led to a fateful shove. “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” Scott told me, moments before saying several not-so-nice things. He claims that he pushed Frisbee in selfdefense, and that he was merely fending off a playground bully. Frisbee Dan has this “Roaul Duke if Roaul Duke were your dorky dad” vibe, so it’s difficult to imagine him as some blustery park tyrant. But according to Scott, Frisbee terrorizes fellow frisbee enthusiasts by
correcting their technique and chastising their throws. Unfortunately, Frisbee Dan filed a complaint against Scott for shoving him, and soon after, Sun God’s time in the Sewell sun was up. Scott was banned from the park for a year. He moved farther down the San Marcos River to city-owned Rio Vista Park, but Sewell regulars missed his jovial rituals. A few Texas State students started a petition to allow Sun God back into the park, but their attempts failed. Despite not being allowed into Sewell, he continued his daily routine. “I would wake up,” says Scott, “do my prayer and meditation—always—go to the gym, and then head over to the river. I basically call it ‘play all day.’” And play he did. Scott took to ambling up and down the streets of San Marcos, headphones blaring the peaks and drops of his music du jour as he danced. “I later came to find out that the Hays county judge would see me dancing and would laugh and shake his head. Sometimes they would call the cops on me and say,
‘You can’t dance here.’ Stuff like that.” Then, just after his one-year ban from Sewell ended, Scott had another scuffle with Texas State authorities. He and a friend had ventured into a part of the river owned by the university, an area near Spring Lake. When Scott returned to the quad, he found police waiting. They told him that he was banned from Sewell and all university property for an additional two years for trespassing. “I’d been there a million times, and as far as I knew, the area was semi offlimits,” explains Scott. “But they got me on their spy cams, and when I got back to campus, there was what looked like an entire SWAT team. Then they told me I was banned.” Scott thinks that Texas State authorities may have been looking for an excuse to keep him out. He believes that the backlash of his
one-year banishment from the park may have garnered enough media attention that the powers at Texas State decided to cut ties with him completely. “I spoke out [against the initial ban] in a few magazines, so I think the administration somewhat resented what had happened there. I don’t know what was going on, but they seemed to have had it out for me.”
However, Sergeant Daniel Benitez of the Texas State University Police Department denies that University
“Most of my close friends are college students, and every year I get what I call ‘Fresh People.’ Some of them have moved on, but I love Texas State. I’ve been to their museum, their ‘art place.’ I love being a part of Texas State, but it seems like Texas State doesn’t want me to be a part of them.”
administration and police harbored any animosity toward Scott. “We really don’t go out and pick on somebody.” Sergeant Benitez explains. “This is no different than anyone else we’ve come across. He was in a prohibited area, and we saw him on the surveillance cameras. We actually gave him a break, because he could’ve been arrested. But we’ve got bigger fish to fry.” He pleaded with the administration to be allowed back into his old stomping grounds, but ultimately, they decided against overturning the ban. “I started crying,” says Scott. “Spring Lake is the oldest continually-inhabited area in North America [Ed. Note: this is actually true], and to be prohibited from going there was really hard.” To make matters worse, Texas State police found Scott trespassing in another prohibited area of the river, and this time he was arrested. The officers pushed Scott into the police car before he was able to grab his shoes, his shirt or his iPod shuffle.
Scott claims that the area was commercial property, but he was forced to spend a night in jail for criminal trespassing nonetheless. Despite his run-ins with administration and police, all Scott wants is to be able to access Texas State and its amenities. Despite the misunderstandings, Scott has nothing but respect for the Texas State University system. “Most of my close friends are college students, and every year I get what I call ‘Fresh People.’ Some of them have moved on, but I love Texas State. I’ve been to their museum, their ‘art place.’ I love being a part of Texas State, but it seems like Texas State doesn’t want me to be a part of them.” But while the university pushed him out, another place pulled him in. After his mother’s house—his home of fifteen years—was nearly destroyed when the Blanco River flooded last Memorial Day weekend, Scott felt like he knew where he was supposed to go. “It happened rather quickly, and the flood hit unexpectedly. People died. Homes were destroyed. I had to find somewhere to go, and Connecticut seemed to be the logical place, because I have family up here.” As a result, Sun God found himself displaced from San Marcos and struggling to find a way to return. “I’m not quite sure what to do with the property there in San
Marcos,” he says, “because it’s along the Blanco [river]. Do I invest the money and get it fixed or what? I don’t know.” Scott is quick to point out that the Blanco River, not the San Marcos River, destroyed his home. He can’t imagine the river he feels so spiritually connected to would ever betray him. “I just have the greatest love and respect for the San Marcos river: The river of the ancients. The river keeps calling me back. It’s not Texas State and it’s not San Marcos; it’s the river.” Scott has lived in Connecticut since the flood, where he goes about his usual routine, but since there’s no river, he’s forced to dance to trance music in the backyard garden. “I still dance,” says Scott. “I do a little more gardening up here: planting, gardening, working outside. I tend to do the same thing here as in San Marcos, just doing it in a different place. I haven’t made any friends here.” He mentions synchronicity, the force he believes brought him to San Marcos. He’s confident that it will bring him back. And even though Scott doesn’t feel quite at home in Connecticut, he feels he was placed there for a reason. “I’m doing some relationship healing, like when I went to San Marcos and did some relationship healing with my mother. Now I’m here, doing some with other members of my family. That’s what I’m here for, and when that’s over, God will let me know.”
KILLING KRIS KRINGLE T he Banshee Screams for Cook ies and Milk
K IL L ING K R I S K R INGL E | by john david white • illustration by ian friedel
My name is Ralph and my world is fire and blood. Ever since
the left hemisphere of my world went black, one instinct has
carried me through the darkness: revenge. I used to dream
of white winters, footballs and turkey dinners, but now my
thoughts are haunted by nightmares of the bearded, bellied man who took it all away—and those damn dogs, the Bumpus’ dogs— those howling scavengers.
No longer can I taste the roasted duck I once shared with my
family, the tip of my tongue so stained with lye, so bitter from the stench of soap that every breath is pain.
But at least I still have my tongue—some of us weren’t so lucky. Maybe if I had just listened to
that bearded fool I wouldn’t be crouched outside
the old man’s home with blood on my mind and terror in my heart. “You’ll shoot you’re eye out,”
they said. “You’ll shoot your eye out.” Well…they were right.
I cocked my Carbine-Action, Two-Hundred
echoing in my skull, driving me madder with every passing day: “Tis the Season to be Jorry
Fa-Ra-Ra-Ra-Ra – Ra-Ra-Ra-Ra
Deck the Harrs With Barrs of Horry Fa-Ra-Ra-Ra-Ra – Ra-Ra-Ra-Ra”
But now’s not the time to be haunted by ghosts of my past.
Now is the time to act. I had no choice but to brave the cold and make my way to the place where it all began: the shopping mall.
When I finally made it to the asylum of horrors where Santa had mercilessly tortured my comrades for
“You’ll shoot your eye out.” Well…they were right.
Shot Range Model Rifle quickly, with none of
the old confidence I once knew. My bullets were still as deadly as ever. It was a cold night with
violent winds that chilled me to the bone, so I had worn the pink
body armor that my aunt had made for me. I had removed the two rabbit-like antennae that stemmed from the helmet so as
not to give away my position in the trenches. I thought of my baby brother as I waited. I tried to remember his face, the image I once had of him had long since blurred. Last time I saw him
smile it was with two good eyes. I don’t know how long it’d been since the Zeppelin accident, but his last words still haunt me. “Oh
years, I was full of nerves. I must have triggered a booby trap because there was a warm yellow
stain of liquid on my trousers. I could see him
sitting in his roost, surrounded by his circus of depraved elves. I knew the window was closing for me to end the man’s life, and if I didn’t act
fast, they were sure to give me a football. I took
aim just like the Red Ryder himself, slowing my breathing, envisioning the shot, squeezing the
trigger. Then, out of nowhere, a police officer grabbed the barrel of my gun and started
shouting at me, as if I were the criminal. “Jesus Christ, kid, what are you doing? Where the hell are your parents?” I said nothing.
“Are you lost?” he asked.
“Ha,” I chuckled to myself badassly. “Aren’t we all lost, officer?” I’ll be back for you next year, you fat son of a bitch.
boy, a zeppelin!” he shouted. Innocence lost.
I must have dozed off. The car in the driveway was gone and
the sun was slowly rising—it laughed at me as it climbed into the sky. “Oh fudge” I thought, as I tightened my boots and clenched my rifle. “He can run but he can’t hide—there’s only one other place the old bastard could’ve gone.”
It was a place my father used to take me before the world
descended into darkness. My father—a man of simple pleasures. Couldn’t change a tire to save his life, but he loved bowling, the herb-crusted skin of
roasted turkey and a heady Merlot. But more than anything—he loved my mother. What I wouldn’t give to share just one more Ovaltine
with her next to an open fire. I still remember the songs I heard with her as a boy, the jingles
THE LIL B CUR SE:
THE TERRIFYING POWER OF THE BASED GOD’S GREATEST DISCIPLE By Will Strecker
rapper, but his “mind wouldn’t let [him] do it.” B took this straight to heart, firing back at Durant via Twitter and announcing that the Based God’s curse will be active on Durant until the two play a one-on-one game of 21. This curse, still active to this day, means that Durant will never win an NBA title. At first, the curse seemed like bullshit. However, take into account that Durant has yet to win a title and was injured all last season, and there might be something to say for the Based God’s hex. It’s true that one instance doesn’t make a trend, but Durant’s case isn’t the only instance where the Based God seems to have intervened in the sports world. James Harden, all-star shooting guard for the Houston Rockets, is known, in part, for his cooking celebration—a
about social interactions and alcohol.
he Based God, brought to light through his vessel/ disciple Lil B—a talented rapper and former member of The Pack—seems to be interfering in worldly issues more frequently over the past several years, particularly in the world of professional sports. Not a religious man myself, I put little stock into the borderline schizophrenic ramblings of a marginally successful rapper, but with news of Lil B’s curses and blessings actually manifesting, it’s becoming difficult for me to ignore the supernatural powers at play here. Sound like blasphemy? Let me explain. We’ll begin with Kevin Durant. Back in 2011, Durant tweeted that he didn’t understand how Lil B was relevant, claiming that he tried to listen to the
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celebration that Lil B claims he created. In fact, I can attest to B’s claim. Cooking was a craze several years ago, myself an avid chef, well before Harden began using it as his celebration dance. The use of the dance isn’t what caught Lil B’s attention, however. Instead, Harden’s use of the dance without acknowledging the Based God as the creator and his blatant denial of knowing who Lil B is (when he clearly must know Lil B, or else where did he get the cooking dance from?) is seen as the utmost disrespect to the one true god. Lil B cursed Harden midway into the NBA’s 2015 Western Conference Finals, and from that moment on, Harden struggled in the series and the Rockets eventually lost to the Warriors. A remorseful Lil B lifted the curse on Harden after the series, just to reactivate it in October after Harden posted a picture of himself cooking on Instagram, again giving no credit to Lil B. We
By Mark Stenberg There’s a scene in Steve Jobs where Jobs’ daughter* runs to her emotionally mummified father, wraps her arms around his legs and whispers, “I want to live with you.” And if the reader would kindly agree to overlook the tasteless hyperbole of my coming analogy, then it’s safe to say that I have a similar relationship with Joey’s in San Antonio. I love Joey’s. I love its massive pool tables that offer free play Monday-Thursday; I love its affordable beer and good drinking food, its juke box and tiny men’s bathroom, and I love its outdoor patio and reclusive upper balcony. It’s also on the ~revitalized~ St. Mary’s Strip, which means it’s surrounded by other great bars. But after a few months of going, I’d developed an abandonment complex: I felt like Joey’s didn’t want me, like the bartenders deliberately took my order last and my songs always somehow got skipped on the jukebox. And like Jobs’ daughter,* it rattled me.
I’ve since realized that the root of the problem is not Joey’s—it’s the inability of many millennials (yr. author included) to digest authentic experiences without washing them down with irony. It’s not that we’re authenticityintolerant, per se; it’s just that we have trouble stomaching its ugly sister-in-law, vulnerability. Nowadays, in the widened gyre of 2015, simply liking something is grounds enough to be ridiculed. As a result, in order to both enjoy an experience and maintain a safe distance from it, many millennials develop a compulsion to either appreciate things ironically, or not at all. Bars like Joey’s, though, can smell this imposter syndrome from a mile away, and are standoffish as a result. Like not befriending people at Freshman Orientation because you know you’ll never see them again, Joey’s kittenishness is a defense mechanism against millenials’ fairweather affection. Ironic enjoyment doesn’t last, so Joey’s doesn’t pander to every 18-34 y.o. who gets an ironic two-month kick out of a divey pool bar. Like a rabbi thrice-rejecting converts, Joey’s doesn’t just throw open the gates for everyone who knocks. You have to swear fidelity, cast away your failsafe irony and prove your devotion. But once you do, you’ll be given a treasure far greater than any worldly possession—you’ll be given a Joey’s. *Jobs’ denied fatherhood—men are pigs!
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have yet to see how the reactivated curse will affect Harden, but given past experience, it doesn’t look good for the all-star. In a moment of divine intervention, again during the NBA Finals this year, Marreese Speights of the Warriors missed a breakaway dunk in Game 2, a game the Warriors lost to the Cavaliers. At the time, not much was made of the situation—chalk it up to bad luck. But, thanks to Sportsnation on ESPN, a tweet from Speights was uncovered from 2011 calling Lil B a “trash” rapper. Obviously, such disrespect didn’t go unnoticed by the Based God, and while Lil B himself didn’t respond to Speights’ tweet, it seems apparent that the Based God took the tweet to heart and intervened at a critical moment in Speights’ career. Once he missed DECEMBER 2015
the dunk, Speights saw very little action the rest of the series, and the Warriors went
on to win with little help from their big man. All of this seems rather coincidental, yes? There’s more.
Three more instances, all this fall, convinced me of the truth in Lil B’s madness. The
first one occurred the first weekend of October, when Florida’s football team was set to play Ole Miss. One of the Florida players tweeted at Lil B, asking for his blessing in order to pull off the upset over Ole Miss. B responded, tweeting at the University of Florida,
“Love you and Florida - Lil B.” That weekend, Florida beat Ole Miss in one of the biggest upsets of the college football season.
Later that week, University of Texas defensive end Bryce Cottrell followed Florida’s
lead and tweeted at Lil B, asking for his blessing to beat OU. Clearly Cottrell saw the
outcome of the Florida/Ole Miss game, and fed up with how horrid the Longhorn’s season was looking up to that point, decided to give the Based God a chance. Again, B responded with, “Love you and Longhorns - Lil B,” and that weekend, UT beat OU in what may be viewed as the turning point in Charlie Strong’s career.
And if you really look at the UT situation, the football team and really all Texas sports
in general (at least the bigger sports), it can be argued that Texas has been in a relative
slump since, oh what, 2011? And what else happened in 2011? That was the year Lil B
first enacted his curse on former Longhorn Kevin Durant. Perhaps when the Based God cursed Texas’ most prominent professional athlete of the century, the ill effects spilled over to the entire Longhorn Nation? Just saying. Regardless, it seems as if the Horns
have finally received the Based God’s blessing, so we’ll see what happens next. [Ed. Note: B’s blessing may have actually only applied for the OU game.]
Then in October, in an instance of profound inexplicability, the Texas Rangers blew a
2-0 series lead against the Toronto Blue Jays in the ALDS of the 2015 MLB Playoffs. After
dropping the first two games in Arlington, Toronto councilman Norm Kelly (or more likely one of his interns) tweeted Lil B asking for his blessing ahead of Game 3. B gave his blessing and sent his love to Canada, and in one of the craziest series of games in recent baseball history, the Blue Jays won the series 3-2, winning three straight games.
Even stranger is that the whole series was defined in one inning in Game 5. After
taking a 3-2 lead in the game going into the bottom of the 7th, Rangers’ short-stop Elvis
Andrus committed three errors back-to-back-to-back on rudimentary plays, allowing the Jays to load the bases. When Jose Bautista came up to bat, in true Hollywood movie fashion, he cranked out a grand slam to give the Blue Jays a 6-3 lead, a lead they would
carry until the end of the game. Given how well the Rangers were playing up to that
point, it’s inconceivable that they would play so poorly in such a critical moment. The only explanation is divine intervention, is it not?
Given the Based God’s undeniable track record, maybe it’s high time we turn our
attention to Lil B’s insistence on his (or her?) existence. Humanity has always turned to
the supernatural for answers to questions we can’t explain, and the idea of a God or an all-knowing creator is as old as humanity itself. Maybe we have it all wrong. May God isn’t a Christian, Jew, Hindu or Muslim. Maybe he’s a Based God, and maybe he’s real.
A staff member reported a non-student being very disruptive inside the library. The subject was ranting and raving while displaying his ability to conjugate four letter words. The responding officers located the subject as he was heading toward Jester Dormitory. During the investigation, the subject informed the officers that he was simply “having a bad day.” The subject informed the officers that he did hear voices, but the voices were always positive and encouraging. True
T HE S T Y L I S T ’ S NO T E S | by karinna lopez • photography by steve dement photography • clothes from frock on vintage
KARINNA LOPEZ Study Breaks Stylist
I have always loved December, not only because we finally get a break from school and are allowed to binge watch Nexflix guiltfree, but because we get to spend time with our loved ones and dress up for holiday parties. I like to think of myself as an adult, but honestly most of the time I feel like I’m playing dress-up whenever I have an event to attend.
FA L L FA S HI O N LOOKS
With this month’s style guide, I was inspired by fun times and vintage feels. I’ve styled an outfit for every kind of person out there, whether you like to go all-out for a party or like to keep casual vibes. Three items that you can never go wrong with that I recommend y’all (boys & girls) have in your closets are black boots/booties, oversized sweaters and cool vintage jackets (btw, your parents’ closets are great places to find these). Each of these items will keep you warm and help complete your overall outfit. My advice is to have fun with your clothes and not be afraid to be different, but most importantly: keep warm by drinking lots of hot chocolate!
C a m e l Fau x Shearling Jacket $160.00
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L e v i ’s 510 R i g i d S k i n n y Je a n $44.99
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P i n s A n d Ne e d l e s L a c e -Tr i m S w e a t e r $59
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Ne w L o ok 70 â€™ S S u e d e t t e P a n e l Saddle Bag $29.00
Super Sk inny L ow Je a n s $19.99
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G . H . B a s s Fau xLeat her Bomber w/ Wa s h e d F i n i s h
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C o n t e mp o r a r y Fau x L e a t h e r Cami $19.90
Sk ir t w ith Fringe $29.99
Celeste Fr inge Boot ie - Black $98.00
C A 53 W-1 C a s i o R e s i n D i g i t a l Wa t c h $32.00
F i s h e r m a nâ€™s Pullover $78.00
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A S O S Me t a l l i c Fo l d O v e r Clutch Bag $33.00
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F UN F UN F UN F E S T | by eli watson, photography by caleb freund
Fun Fun Fun Fest. Its very name implies an excessive amount of enjoyment: a three-day event featuring beer, food, comedy, music, sports and, most importantly, a taco cannon. In its ten years, the festival has grown from 20-plus artists to 100-plus artists, one day to three days and moved from Waterloo Park to Auditorium Shores (recently renamed Vic Mathias Shores). But the road to fun hasn’t always been smooth. Terrible weather conditions, last minute lineup changes, artist temper tantrums (the infamous Danzig meltdown of 2011), sound ordinances, festival entrance problems and, more recently, the possible relocation of the annual Austin event, have all threatened to hamstring the festival at one point or another. Fun Fun Fun Fest’s track record of overcoming these hiccups is partly responsible for their reputation of making the impossible possible. Also partly responsible—their uncanny knack for giving us exactly what we didn’t know we wanted because it didn’t exist. Nominees for this category include: memorable reunion performances from Death, Murder City Devils, Neurosis and Run DMC, a wedding officiated by former Black Flag frontman Henry Rollins, and, once again, a taco cannon. As connoisseurs of fun, Transmission Events knows that the headiest varietal of fun is the unexpected and unpredictable sort. And as a result, Fun Fun Fun Fest continues to expand on this idea as each year passes, this fest being no exception. Although presented as the festival’s 10-year anniversary (and therefore a cause to celebrate), the festivities didn’t really pick up until Friday evening, when performers like Antemasque, Converge, Hudson Mohawke, Rae Sremmurd and Coheed and Cambria took their respective stages. And even then, the energy of the first day (and those that followed) felt lackluster, the audience noticeably tame: little to no movement, hands stretched to the sky holding horizontal phones, anxiously awaiting a moment that merited a post on Instagram. The contemporary music festival is suffering from a syndrome that looks a lot like a show within a screen, within a screen, within a screen. Everyone’s fixated on capturing moments instead of enjoying them. Yes, both can be done simultaneously, but there’s an obvious desire to do the former much more than the latter these days. For better or worse it’s become normalized—we still talk shit about selfie stick users though, which is reassuring. But the days of screenless shows are long gone, a romanticized era that our children, their children and their children’s children will probably never know of. Yes, I know I sound condescending and cynical as fuck. But can you blame me after seeing Converge, a Fun Fun Fun Fest alumni notorious for their energetic and chaotic performances, giving their all on the Black Stage underneath a beautiful starfilled Friday night sky, and not one circle pit is being conducted? Not even one? That’s a scary sight. DECEMBER 2015
GETTING TO KNOW:
The 21-year old countertenor musician behind the 2015 LP Ratchet, Shamir has a voice that writer Lizzie Plaugic once said “limbers and stretches like a wad of pink Silly Putty dipped in glitter.” Shamir recently performed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and at Fun Fun Fun Fest, where he agreed to an interview on his 21st birthday, which is a kind and mature thing to do on your 21st birthday.
Honestly, anyone who can tolerate my mood swings. I wouldn’t say that
they’re crazy but I go from zero to one
hundred very quickly. Actually, I guess I’d say it’s from one hundred to zero. I crash easily.
Cigarettes. After that? I think that
it’s kind of hard for me to stand up for
myself because I usually put everyone else before myself.
Mex thing. [Ed. Note: This is both
I’d name him Ameen, the male version
Perfect pitch. When I watch people
No one can make you feel inferior
accurate and regrettable].
whose voices are perfect live, I always
without your consent. Not, well-
the person whose voice actually sticks
A comedy screenwriter. When I lived in Las Vegas I used to do comedy and stand-up, and I kind of want to be a mix between Woody Allen and the Duplasse Brothers.
think, ‘That’s not human. I don’t get it.’ I
think Nico has perfect pitch, for one, but with me the most is Arianna Grande— she sounds flawless to me.
In my sleep with roses in my hands
Mexican food and coke. I love Mexican
and a violet crown. But black roses
also love carne asada fries, but that’s
Anti-social people because I’m actually
food because you can get tacos with
corn tortillas, which are gluten free. I actually a West coast thing, not a Tex
of my mom’s name.
behaved women rarely make history.
Sassy cowboy is how I would describe it.
kind of anti-social. I get it.
A non-student who was seated on Guadalupe with his dog was reported by a business owner as trying to feed his best friend the coins that he had accumulated in his ball cap. The dog was apparently not interested in the chump’s change, but was being encouraged to try it by the subject. Officers questioned the subject and asked why he would offer his dog coins to eat. The subject said he “was full already.” He was given a warning against feeding his pet any more non-food.
But problems like that aren’t in the hands of our Fun Fun Fun Fest overlords. The masters are here to give us good music and amusing novelties that distinguish their fest from other fests. That’s their job and they do it really well. Where else can you watch a performance from Peaches (whose set should be taught as a sex ed course in high schools across the country) one moment,
and a reunited Babes In Toyland the next? Or watch GG Allin’s comedic counterpart Eric Andre talk about dropping acid while masturbating to Sailor Moon, and then jumping onstage to receive twerking lessons from Big Freedia? In fact, a crucial part of Fun Fun Fun Fest that doesn’t get talked about enough is its absurdity. The minds behind the festival make a point of packaging performers and spectacles together in a way that no one else has or wants to, and these juxtapositions are a large part of why FFFfest continues to grow. Of course, all music festivals have to follow some degree of protocol and Fun Fun Fun Fest is no exception, but when they break rules—and they do break rules— you never really know who or what’s going to happen. For one, the body politic that’s tasked with curating the roster seems ten years ahead of everyone else, and not just because their underground selection. When I told a friend that Afrika Bambaataa was performing, he absolutely lost his shit. “Who else is putting Bambaataa on at their music festival,” he asked incredulously.
Exactly. Idiosyncrasy like this has always given the fest subtle notes of underdog, and this year—FFFfest’s 10-year anniversary of all years—provided a blunt reminder of what can happen to underdogs. In June, because of recent renovations at Vic Mathias Shores, it looked for a moment like the festival either wasn’t going to happen or was going to have to happen elsewhere. The area had recently been split into three distinct sections: the main event lawn, the middle lawn and a designated off-leash dog area. Transmission Events wanted to use the off-leash dog area, even though it’s supposed to remain out of the mix when it comes to concerts and events. Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department and Transmission Events couldn’t come to an agreement, so the City Council intervened and unanimously passed a resolution that gave organizers the necessary acre. The use of the off-leash acre was a temporary fix though, meaning that relocation is still a possibility in coming years. But for now the battle was won.
And what do you do after you win a battle? Celebrate. The celebration extended beyond Vic Mathias Shores, and went late into the night at Red River Cultural District staples like Mohawk, Cheer Up Charlieâ€™s, Empire and Beerland, as well as at other downtown Austin venues like ACL Live, the Parish and Vulcan Gas Company. And the best part? Free as long as you had your wristband. No additional payment necessary. Sure, chances are you had to wait in line for 30-40 minutes, but thereâ€™s nothing like sharing a sweaty dance floor with people just as excited as you are that Toro Y Moi dropped Evelyn Champagne
King’s “Love Come Down.” The FFFfest Nites, especially in light of recent developments, play an important symbolic role in the fest’s underdog ethos. The construction of downtown condos and their corresponding rent hikes are threatening local venues, forcing beloved haunts like Red 7 and Holy Mountain to close in August and September of this year. As I walked to Cheer Up Charlie’s for a Nite show, I couldn’t get the grim image of shuttered venues out of my mind. But as we cheered at Cheer Up’s, I was able to forget for a second that owners Maggie Lea and Tamara Hoover still fear possible closure as a result of construction for the new Hyatt House hotel off Red River. As a friend, myself and the rest of the audience waited for Peaches to take Cheer Up’s outdoor stage, a platform dwarfed by a tidal wave of white stone backlit in pink and blue, we were greeted by CHRISTEENE, the opening act. A self-described “human pissoir [sic] of raw unabashed sexuality” and “a gender blending, booty pounding, perversion of punk,” the Austin-based performer put on one of the most memorable sets I’ve seen in a long time. Clad in a thong and flanked by two dancers, CHRISTEENE’s performance was a celebration of
arl 306 Pe
215 aT X 7 8 106 • S E T S • y arkwa
sex, acceptance and ass — specifically the asshole. At one point, CHRISTEENE stuck her face in between the ass cheeks of one of her backup dancers and remained there for several seconds. I thought of Iggy Pop, GG Allin, Sid Vicious and Donita Sparks. I was speechless from beginning to end, mouth agape and eyes wide, never once taking my eyes off CHRISTEENE. In a nutshell, that’s what’s really special about FFFfest: not only does the event reflect the musical diversity of Austin with its performers, but it also highlights local acts in grassroots venues, paying tribute to the complex root system that it takes to grow that kind of musical diversity. Hopefully that, along with Big Freedia and the taco cannon, will be enough to keep the fun alive.
b. If these Bigfoot/polar bear mashups lived anywhere outside of Hoth, it’d be in the densely wooded taiga of Sarah Palin’s helicoptersniping oasis.
2. A L A SK A
b. The one-legged stepfather of Anakin who bought the slave Shmi Skywalker, then freed and married her, is California because—and I’m not making this up—he’s a “moisture farmer.” Behold, the ghost of California’s Christmas future.
a. Cliegg Lars
4. C A LIFORNIA
b. Not only does Admiral Ackbar look like he’s from the Everglades, his famous line describes the entire appeal of Florida—a trap.
a. Admiral Ackbar
b. Both charmingly aristocratic and insufferable, both birth-givers to greatness. That’s the opening to my bildungsroman Luke-Skywalkeras-America graphic novel called The Force is Strong with This Out of Many One.
a. Padme Amidala
5. DEL AWA RE
b. Not only do they live angrily in the desert, but I’d bet the moisture farm that xenophobia plays a pretty big role in their lives. Sound familiar, Arizona?
a. Angry Tusken Raider
b. An overly-confident white guy who gets scared when Vader Forcechokes him a little, Motti looks like the Birmingham raconteur that Mrs. Saban flirts with at her famous Roll Tide Tupperware parties.
3. A RIZON A
a. Admiral Motti
1. A L A BA M A
IN HONOR OF STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, WE’VE CRE ATED A HELPFUL GRAPHIC FOR LE ARNING SOME OF THE SERIES’ MOST IMPORTANT CHARACTERS. IF YOU’RE A FAN SOUTH DAKOTA, LOOK AWAY.
b. One is the stiff man for R2-D2’s jokes, one is the stiff man for America’s jokes. The only difference is that C-3PO knows six million forms of communication, and Indiana is the birthplace of the KKK.
8. INDIA N A
b. This is supposed to be a compliment to Louisiana honestly.
a. Jabba the Hut
10. LOUISIA N A
33 38 12
b. Factoids: Tupac Shakur was set to be the original Mace Windu, but Samuel L . Jackson agreed to the part provided he got the only purple lightsaber. Mace Windu was on the High Council, which is the Washing ton D.C. of the Galactic Republic. Samuel L . Jackson is from Washing ton D.C., and Washing ton D.C. is in Mar yland. Got any more brain busters?
a. Mace Windu b. Both silent, rugged and conspicuously into guns, Boba Fett would get along just fine with an isolated cabin in Rathdrum where no one can hear you scream.
11. M A RY L A ND
a. Boba Fett
b. Both are close-minded (Watto immune to Jedi mind tricks; Kim Davis immune to mind-related anything), and both are basically junk store proprietors.
9. K ENTUCK Y
49 08 35 31 29 09 41 37 25 23 48 40 01 44 10 06
7. IDA HO
a. Bib Fortuna
18. NE W ME X ICO
a. Dianoga (Trash Monster)
17. NE W JERSE Y
b. Nothing says New Hampshire like a disgruntled old, aristocratic white man who makes you think of dookey.
a. Count Dooku
16. NE W H A MP SHIRE
b. First, the monkey-lizard’s first name is Salacious, which describes Nevada’s most famous export, Las Vegas, pretty accurately. Second, they’re both gross and disturbing.
a. Salacious B Crumb
15. NE VA DA
b. Who are these people? Irascible, unintelligible bounty hunters that threaten Luke Skywalker for no reason until Obi-Wan kills Evazan and severs Baba’s arm, aka anyone you’ll find at a bar in Montana.
a. Cornelius Evazan and Ponda Baba
14. MONTA N A
b. Partly because Darth Maul has the only two-sided lightsaber and Michigan is the only two-pronged state, but more because they’re both menacing, gritty and ultimately doomed.
a. Darth Maul
13. MICHIG A N
b. I don’t really have to explain this one, now do I, Boston?
a. Darth Vader
12. M A SS ACHUSE T T S
b. “The Sarlacc is simply a barbed hole in the desert sand which
a. Pit of Sarlacc
24. SOUTH DA KOTA
b. His face looks like tortellini, he’s speaking Kenyan and his name looks Cambodian: this multiculturalism, and the fact that he looks baked, could only come from Seattle.
a. Nien Nunb
a. Aunt Beru
b. The maternal caretaker of Luke Skywalker after he lost his parents, Aunt Beru had a glass of lemonade and a kind word for everyone.
30. WA SHINGTON
23. SOUTH C A ROLIN A
a. General Rieekan
a. General Grievous b. Robert E. Lee, born in Virginia, talented general and tactician, fought for the (bad) rebel side and lost. General Rieekan, born in Alderaan, talented general and tactician, fought for the (good) rebel side and won. I like to think they balance out cosmically.
29. V IRGINIA
22. PENNSY LVA NIA
b. A violent, mechanized simulacrum of life, kept alive despite a wheezing cough and exposed heart by his tired lungs and desire for revenge. And don’t even get me started on General Grievous!
b. You probably don’t know who this is, and I’ve never been to Vermont. Match made in heaven.
a. Mon Mothma
28. V ERMONT
b. Something about an army of Jango Fett clones and Mormonism but draw your own conclusions.
a. Jango Fett
2 7. UTA H
b. Badass rebel, lady’s man, consummate loner, showoffy gunslinger, driver of an oversized vehicle, frozen by cold, friendly to hairy people, rich—Han Solo is Texas.
a. Han Solo
26. TE X A S
b. Smooth like jazz, dressed like Elvis, and living in a place called Cloud City, no character on Star Wars had more swag than Lando Calrissian.
a. Lando Calrissian
characters fall into and are consumed.”
b. Because despite his proximity to a monster (California), the Rancor Keeper is an emotional, empathetic #creative who manages to turn his passion into a career.
a. The Rancor Keeper
b. Gonk droids were essentially power generators with legs. They were commonly found in underdeveloped worlds, and could only make a noise that sounded like the word “gonk.”
a. Gonk Droid
20. NORTH DA KOTA
b. The insidious evil, the smoker’s wrinkles, the weird all-black fashion choices, the corrupt public servants, the fact that Sith is an anagram for Hits which the Yankees buy and Broadway’s famous for. The list goes on.
a. Emperor Palpatine
19. NE W YORK
b. Mostly because Fortuna looks like an extra from The Hills Have Eyes (set in New Mexico), but also because he looks like he’d geek out over Hatch Chile season at Central Market.
percent from Oklahoma.
room in Episode Four is 100
head walking into the control
b. The stormtrooper who hits his
a. Clumsy Stormtrooper
36. OK L A HOM A
b. When Obi-Wan is struck down by Vader, his body simply disappears.
42. IOWA a. Obi-Wan Kenobi
b. “But what I do have are a very particular set of [Jedi] skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career.”
a. Qui-Gon Jinn
4 3. K A NS A S
b. A good ol’ boy from the heartland who falls in love with his sister and gets his arm cut off by his dad.
a. Luke Skywalker
a. Admiral Ozzel
b. He gets choked to death via television screen. That’s Mississippi AF.
b. *Sizzle noise
b. L a r gely be c au se t he Ewok v i l l a ge i s r em i n i scent of a r u s t ic Ma l l of t he A mer ic a s , but a l it t le be c au se t he Ewok s wer e goi ng t o e at Ha n , Lu ke a nd C hew bacc a but ch a nge d t hei r m i nd s be c au se t hey love d C-3P O, w h ich se em s l i ke a pr e t t y Mi n ne sot a n t h i ng t o do.
b. Everyone from Connecticut is a Grand Moff as far as I’m concerned.
a. Grand Moff Tarkin
38. CONNEC TICUT
b. Twenty years tops before NASCAR turns into Podracing.
37. NORTH C A ROLIN A
b. Think about it: they both have weird accents, are uncomfortably friendly, seem suspiciously Canadian and exist only for comic relief.
a. Jar Jar Binks
3 4. W ISCONSIN
which has 2 R’s and 2 D’s in it.
Island, making him a “Rhode Islander,”
I like to think R2-D2 was from Rhode
been there from the beginning. Plus
b. A tiny, fun-loving little droid that’s
33. RHODE ISL A ND
b. Silent, dressed in black, finger on the trigger.
a. Death Star Gunner
32. W YOMING
b. Piett only became an admiral because Admiral Kendall Ozeel got choked out by Darth Vader. West Virginia only became a state because Virginia got choked out by racism.
a. Admiral Firmus Piett
31. W ES T V IRGINIA
b. The OG lumbersexuals.
50. M A INE
b. Valorum lost his position as Chancellor after Padmé passed a Vote of No Confidence that disbarred him, which someone seems to have done to the state of Illinois.
a. Supreme Chancellor Valorum
4 9. ILLINOIS
b. Disgusting pig-lizards, yes, but Lucas really went too far with their horrendous deaths, making them fall into the Sarlacc pit, get eaten by the Rancor and Force-choked by Luke. “Bad but didn’t deserve that” seems to sum up Arkansas.
4 8. A RK A NS A S
b. These poor little guys led hardscrap lives in the Tattoine desert, but were still peaceful, industrious entrepreneurs.
a. Chief Jawa
47. NEBR A SK A
b. A dude so blazed that he’s green and can’t speak straight. Not reinventing the wheel here.
46. COLOR A DO
b. According to the Star Wars Encyclopedia, the style of music that Jabba the Hut’s house band plays is called “jizz wailing.” Mele Kalikimaka!
a. The Max Rebo Band
4 5. H AWA II
b. Scarlet t O’Hara’s “W hat shall I do,” and R het t Butler’s “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” is just the Georgian version of Princess Leia’s “I love you” and Han Solo’s “I know.”
a. Princess Leia
4 4. GEORGIA
T HE F OR CE I S S T R ONG W I T H T HI S GE NE R AT ION | by jacoby bancroft
I had a history teacher once who was obsessed with Star Wars. He wore ties with Tie Fighters on them, played The Empire Strikes Back on May the 4th and had a giant cutout of Darth Vader in his classroom that he talked to when no one raised their hands to answer a question. My entire class loved Star Wars, but we were all second-generation fans. We obviously weren’t around when the original trilogy unleashed its glorious brilliance to the world, and we were too
young to understand the significance and the bitter disappointment that came with the second prequel trilogy. My teacher often recounted the first time he saw Star Wars in theaters and how there was no other experience like it. He told us that although we could all be superfans now, we had missed out on the magic and wonder of seeing it from the very beginning. But that all changes this month. When Star War: The Force Awakens blasts into
theaters to kick-start an entirely new trilogy, for once this generation won’t be stuck playing catch up. This time, we’ll be standing beside the Day One fans to embark on this new adventure together. And what an adventure it’s going to be. It’s been more than three years since Disney bought the rights to Star Wars for a whopping $4 billon and announced their plans for an entirely new trilogy. It took some time to get their ducks in a row and plan out a worthy story, but now DECEMBER 2015
with The Force Awakens, Disney launches an ambitious film slate that plans to put a new Star Wars film in theaters every year for at least the next six years. Disney’s level of preproduction is just insane. Right now, the plan is to have a new Episode every other year, with anthology films in between to stop fans from ripping each other apart in anticipation. All the films have directors locked down, with Disney recruiting a wide assortment of talented people to make their mark on the galaxy far, far away. J.J. Abrams is of course directing The Force Awakens, which is beyond perfect. Disney needed someone who could both pay homage to what came before, while also crafting something entirely new. Abrams has proven he’s the master at this thanks to his rebooted Star Trek series and his throwback Super 8 film. They also needed someone who could handle the millions of prying eyes that would
ask questions about the film, and Abrams is famously tight-lipped when it comes to his projects. Seriously, it’s amazing how much Abrams was able to keep this project under wraps. Take Disney’s other massive franchise, The Avengers. Leading up to the second film, Avengers: Age of Ultron, it seemed like new spoilers were leaking left and right. By the time the movie was released, almost every hardcore fan had already pieced together the entire movie. The complete opposite is true for The Force Awakens. Even though this is one of the most anticipated movies in years, we still don’t know exactly what the plot of this film is beyond the Sith are back and they seem pissed. It was a brilliant move picking Abrams because it doesn’t matter how little they tell audiences about the plot of the movie, everyone and their grandmother is still going to see it. After The Force Awakens, things are going to start moving really fast. Next
year brings Gareth Edwards’ (Godzilla) anthology film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. It will tell the tale of the Rebel Alliance stealing the original Death Star plans that revealed its key weakness (as in, it showed how there was a small thermal exhaust port that blew up the ENTIRE thing if a laser was shot into it). The year after that, Rian Johnson (Looper, Brick) will take the reins from J.J. Abrams and write/direct Episode 8. Following that, Phil Lord and Chris Miller (21 Jump Street) will direct the next anthology film, the Han Solo origin story. After that, Colin Trevorrow ( Jurassic World) will direct Episode 9. The anthology film after that is rumored to be a Boba Fett origin story, and it did have Chronicle director Josh Trank at the helm, but after the disaster of his Fantastic Four film, Disney quickly fired him. Regardless, that’s an incredible amount of Star Wars films in a very short amount of time. The amazing thing is that our
survive Hayden Christiensen, the human
But, to play devil’s advocate for a
wet blanket. It’s not just the movies either.
second, there’s a chance that The Force
cartoons, etc., proving that Star Wars has
make Luke Skywalker evil or they could
Our generation has vigorously supported the video games, books, board games,
a cross-promotional platform richer than any other franchise, something rival execs
would do ungodly things to have. Star Wars isn’t just a movie series for a lot of young
people, it’s an entire universe of material
that never runs out of room to expand. Even though the prequel trilogy was met with a lot of negativity, it still hasn’t stopped fans from making The Force Awakens into the most anticipated movie of the year. That’s not an exaggeration either. Tickets went on sale 59 days in advance and in its first night, it easily skated by the previous record-holder, The Hunger Games, to sell the most tickets in a single day. It wasn’t even a close
Awakens is absolutely horrible. It could be cheesy, it could be boring, they could fail to capture the spirit of the original.
They could focus too hard on setting up this new story to sustain itself over
the course of a new trilogy and forget to tell a compelling individual story (a
problem I call Avenger-itis). Worst-case scenario, the movie is spectacularly average, meaning not a bad movie, but
not necessarily a great movie. This is the worst option because right now,
expectations are so high that anything other
disappoint. Bad reviews won’t hurt the box office, but they might temper the interest of fans who desperately want to believe in the franchise again.
I was never one of those hardcore Star
Wars fans. I haven’t read every single
book, played every single game or even watched every single cartoon. Although I am a staunch defender that Han indeed shot first, I have difficulty remembering
the names of all the planets and characters (Ed. Note: See pg. 62). When
the new trailer dropped online, I waited an entire day to watch it. Even then I still
got goose bumps watching it and cheered out loud when good guy Finn and bad guy
Kylo Ren were about to cross lightsabers.
What I mean by this is even if we’re
not the biggest fans, Star Wars still holds
a special place in a lot of hearts. There’s
something magical about the universe that this generation especially responds
to in a positive way. There will never
be another franchise that evokes such a strong response as Star Wars, and its generation made all of this possible. Our continued fascination with the neverending battle between the Jedi and the Sith helped keep the franchise alive. It kept Star Wars going after the Jar Jar Binks debacle and it helped the series
fight: The Force Awakens outsold The Hunger Games eight times over. There’s rumblings that the new Star Wars film has a chance to be the biggest movie of all time, and that’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility.
gravitational pull draws in people who weren’t even interested in the first place,
like the Death Star did to the Millennium Falcon in Episode Four. We’re on the verge of the next big Star Wars phenomenon, and
someday maybe we can tell our kids how special it was to see these films in theaters.
THE SUPERHERO GENR By Jacoby Bancroft Look up at the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman! No wait, not just Superman—there’s also Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Cyborg, the Flash and Aquaman riding his space whale! Oh hold on, here comes the Avengers with their new pals Black Panther, Dr. Strange, Captain Marvel and a SpiderMan who isn’t Toby Maguire or Andrew Garfield! Oh great, now the Guardians of the Galaxy are here and Rocket Raccoon wants Cyborg’s arm. Wait a second,
the X-Men just showed up with Gambit and Deadpool. Aw man, here comes the Fantastic Four…oh wait no never mind they just crashed and burned. Still, that’s a lot of superheros. Way back in 2008, Nick Fury dropped a line in an after-credits scene from Iron Man that intimidated Tony Stark and titillated audiences everywhere. “You think you’re the only superhero in the world?” Fury said. “Mr. Stark, you’ve become part of a bigger universe. You just don’t know it yet.” Samuel L. Jackson’s quip turned out to be prophetic beyond
his wildest dreams, predicting not only the expansion of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, but the unprecedented rise of the superhero genre. Unless you’re living under a rock that’s been coated with concrete and buried somewhere in North Korea (if that’s the case, kudos for being a dedicated reader), then you’ve probably noticed the influx of superhero movies over the past few years. If you’re one of those people who doesn’t like superhero films, I’m afraid I have some bad news: Between now and 2020, close to 40 of them will either be
RE’S SUPER PROBLEM WILL THE ABUNDANCE OF SUPERHERO FILMS BE THE GENRE’S KRYPTONITE?
announced or in production. Our culture has always been obsessed with the idea of heroes in one form or another, but recently the entertainment industry has been has been flooded with costumed crime fighters lifted straight from comic book pages. What’s more, the trend is expanding with every passing year. 2016 will mark a huge turning point as both of Marvel’s rivals, DC and Fox, will unleash their own shared cinematic universes to match Marvel’s monstrous success. It’s a move meant to rake in big bagfuls of cash, but with the superhero
trend running so hot, it’s only a matter of time before the whole thing implodes . Although Hollywood seems set on beating the superhero genre into the ground like the Hulk did to Loki in The Avengers, this should come as no surprise. Hollywood has always taken the trendy and let it run its course, going back to the early 1940s when westerns dominated the filmscape. Back then, westerns were basically superhero films with smaller budgets. They involved larger-than-life heroes facing down dastardly villains, and they dominated the box office for years.
The genre grew from the sense of helplessness and monotony that ran rampant in the United States after World War II, but as audiences settled into their new domestic roles, the harshness of the wild frontier lost its appeal. Studio execs forced the cowboys to ride off into the sunset one final time where they presumably laid down and died. When the 80s rolled around, the new trend was highlighting young adults. It sparked the rise of teen angst films and coming-of-age stories (thanks, John Hughes), but that trend ended when DECEMBER 2015
all the young people of that era grew up. After that, the 90s introduced Tom Hanks to the world, and suddenly the prolific actor was everywhere. That trend stopped once people realized that Tom Hanks was no mere man and began recognizing him for the omniscient, joybringing movie god that he is. The trend most college kids will recognize is the Found Footage format for horror movies. During the time period between 2006 and 2013, Hollywood executives were probably the happiest they’ve ever been. The Found Footage trend allowed them to produce extremely cheap horror movies that audiences gobbled up relentlessly. Of course, like all trends, this one eventually ran its course. It ended when everyone fully understood that these weren’t real ghost stories. I mean, of course everyone knew they were fake to begin with, but what had made them so scary was the idea that what we were watching had maybe actually happened. After churning out Found Footage film after Found Footage film, the part of our brain that was believing that lie eventually shriveled up and ceased to function. Today, superheroes are clearly the biggest trend in the film industry. Much like how westerns played off man’s fear of domesticity, superhero films capture the desire for larger-than-life heroes to save the day from nefarious threats. The most interesting thing about the superhero trend is all the different subgenres and styles that have kept it alive and thriving for so long. It can all be traced back to 2008, where two very different superhero films laid the groundwork for where we are today.
M A R V E L’ S I N T H E E M P I R E BUSINESS
The first film released in Phase One of Marvel’s ambitious plan was Iron Man in 2008. All of Marvel’s current success traces back to this film, and if it would have flopped, the movie landscape would look extremely different right now. On all accounts, Iron Man SHOULD have failed. It DECEMBER 2015
took a C-list character nobody outside of dedicated comic book fanboys knew much about, starred an actor with the reputation of a washed up drug addict and was directed by a man whose biggest film at the time was Elf. How did those elements come together to produce one of the biggest hits of the year? In a few words—it was fun. Helped by the seemingly endless charisma of Robert Downey Jr., Iron Man was a blockbuster with a clear sense of what it wanted to be and delivered a highly entertaining and enjoyable film. It was a perfect cornerstone to everything Marvel wanted their movies to represent and with it they were ready to move forward. Now Marvel is a gazillion dollar studio that seemingly cannot fail. All it took was patience, careful planning and several white dudes named Chris for the company to construct their flawless
cinematic universe. Marvel has turned into a well-oiled machine of efficiency, churning out hit after hit and course-correcting when something goes wrong. Oh, Ed Norton isn’t working as the Hulk? Replace him with Mark Ruffalo. Oh, there’s a staggering amount of white males leading our films? Focus on developing movies around Black Panther, Captain Marvel and Wasp. Marvel executives are also apparently mustachetwirling money-grubbers who like to pay their actors in Trident gum. They have a tendency to seek relatively up-and-coming talent that they can buy for cheap, have them sign a nine-picture deal, and keep paying them a pittance even as they become megastars. It’s ruthless, but it’s allowed Marvel to become the monstrous success it is today. Be warned though: Marvel’s unstoppable rise might also be their downfall. Their cinematic
Police officers responded to a 1st floor dormitory room to investigate a report of the odor of burning marijuana. Upon arrival, the officers could detect that all-too-familiar odor emanating from the dormitory room. One the occupants of the room was asked if there was anything illegal in the room, to which he responded, “Not anymore.”
universe was revolutionary and unheard of when first announced, but now it seems like every studio wants to copy Marvel in creating one. Plus, when you have a cinematic universe
and keep adding new superheroes to it, it becomes a little distracting when the superheroes don’t run into one another. In
almost every Phase 2 standalone movie, audiences always asked why the hero didn’t just call the other Avengers to come help. Now with Phase 3, even more superheroes are getting origin
stories and the gigantic world Marvel has pieced together seems dangerously close to collapsing.
D C N E E D S T O T R E A D L I G H T LY
2008 was a monumental year for DC with the release of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. For a movie about a guy who dresses up like a bat to fight crime, it was a tremendously high quality film. It defined what it meant for a superhero film to be “dark and gritty.” Now you hear a lot of superhero films describe themselves as “dark and gritty,” when what they really mean is “we are trying to be like The Dark Knight.” It received almost universal praise and cemented DC in the superhero movie business. The only problem? That version of Batman was completely standalone, not connected to any larger Cinematic Universe. Once Nolan’s Batman series concluded with The Dark Knight Rises in 2012, the same year The Avengers was released, DC had a major problem. It looked over at Marvel and saw that its Cinematic Universe was crazy successful and realized they now had nothing. What could they do? They tried throwing a lot of money in Christopher Nolan’s direction, hoping he would continue making Batman films that connected to a larger universe. They tried copying Marvel’s formula by releasing Green Lantern, a poorly put together imitation of Iron Man (cocky, charismatic lead character suddenly has a change of heart after a life-changing experience), and it failed spectacularly. It struggled to make back its massive $200+ million dollar budget and scored a measly 26 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Then DC realized that they needed to differentiate from Marvel’s light-hearted adventures by telling stories with a bit more edge to them. Cue Man of Steel, a film that took all the wonder and fun away from Superman to make him “dark and gritty.” It had some major flaws, like beating you over the head with Christ imagery and a controversial neck-snapping, but it was the first of DC’s attempts to create their own Cinematic Universe. That forward momentum will continue in 2016 with the release of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and the even darker project Suicide Squad, which focuses completely on the villains. It cannot be overstated how much DC needs these two movies to be successful. They have the next 5-6 years planned out in their own cinematic universe, which they call their DC Extended Universe, and it’s all based on the success of these two films.
S OM E BODY GE T A RU L E R… Although these film studios continue to build, one galaxy
with two universes in it is a little crowded. Can they coexist
or, as Charles Xavier would put it, are they destined to destroy each other? That question was brought to a head when Marvel and DC each reserved the same date for a major
release. May 6, 2016 almost saw the showdown between Captain America 3 and Batman v. Superman.
In one corner, you have Chris Evans returning as Captain
America after his first sequel was met with near universal
acclaim and made close to a billion dollars. In the other
corner, you have the first ever live-action team up of two of the most famous superheroes of all time. What would
happen? Would one film steal away the other’s audience?
Would they both be extremely profitable? Would they both suffer?
For a while, neither side backed down, puffing their chests
and waiting for the other studio to blink and change the date. After what seemed like an eternity, DC finally caved and pushed Batman v. Superman up a few months. They said
it was to better accommodate their other releases, but the
decision had to make all the studio executives breathe a little easier.
This was the first time this happened, but given the
large slate of superhero movies on the horizon, will it be the last? Most definitely not. Only time will tell if these
studios will continue the current pattern of leaving a few weeks in between rival movies, or if one of them will vie
for complete dominance and go head-to-head. The smart
choice seems to be to stay away from one another, but
these opponents can only circle each other for so long before someone strikes.
T O B E C O N T I N U E D…
At the end of every Marvel movie, there is a blurb telling
audiences when they can see their favorite heroes next (for example: at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the credits said “Captain America will return in The Avengers:
Age of Ultron”). Maybe that touches on why people are so
enamored with superhero movies. The story never ends. There will always be another threat to the world that requires
the forces of good to triumph over evil. Maybe at the heart of it, that’s what it’s about—the world can be a bleak place, but
superhero movies offer the comforting reassurance of clearly
defined sides, pure good versus pure evil, and audiences always know which side is always going to win. That, or people could just love Robert Downey Jr. Either/or.
It’s weird because when you tell people that you have a type, a lot of the time they
When you can’t use Grindr because you don’t get cell service in the warehouse, but you
not. You’re just a girl who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go get it.
think that you’re like limiting yourself, like limiting your options, but you’re totally
don’t let that deter you one bit. You get creative and advertise your thirst with some
Before Ms. Leeney came along nobody knew how to pump its stomach, and so when the hat got blitzed it just kept puking on first-years. After awhile it was kind of a
tradition, and Mrs. Norris always happily cleaned it up anyway, so a lot of alumni actually resented Ms. Leeney for what she did.
photography by madelynne scales
Sometimes you gotta ritually sacrifice thousands of
There’s a little thing called marital bliss, and there’s a little thing called
up, sheeple, if the bees go we all go.
consecrated flower maidens to make an omelet: Wake
soaking, and what Ed Begley Jr.’s forgotten about both could fill a BYU
When the local Skynyrd tribute band’s dick bassist kicks you out for drunkenly
If everyone at the turn-up function confuses you for Guy Fieri
knock the knickerbockers off these old white folks with a bellowing rendition
House, it’s probably time to retire the liberty spikes. Punk’s dead,
hitting on his girlfriend, what’s there to do but dust off dad’s accordion and of “Free Bird.” Tell all your friends it’s like Bonaroo fest but wurst.
because you forgot to take off your visor after a shift at Waffle man.
When the loudpack hit and you realize that “I Feel
The mirror doesn’t lie and neither does the wax sculpture wearing a dishful of potpourri on its head. Robin Hood
same underwater but there’s no time to explain cause
“modeling” gig or risk looking like BaVERYa big asshat.
Like Dying” and “Space Oddity” would sound the you gotta go now.
didn’t accessorize in a prop closet that doubled as a furry’s wet dream, so save the felt fedora for your Ricola-inspired
I always overthink the fucks quota: Like, how many fucks can you actually give in a
Next time the hot concession stand worker asks what you’d
you had two left, but you actually only had one, and then you used it, you think you’d
and flavor of every penis-shaped snack, and definitely
week? Does it get renewed monthly or is it like an all-time thing? Like, if you thought be sad but you wouldn’t be because you couldn’t be, right? Cause you’d be out?
like, try not to make her describe the girth, consistency don’t ask her to say it again, but this time “more slowly.”
Look at this picture, then watch the scene in Cheaper by the Dozen where Beans
When you smile because people think you’re just
doesn’t imitate art.
they have no idea you’re stealing their souls. If
dies and Fed-Ex runs away to Midland, and then tell me with a straight face that life
drawing some buck-toothed cartoon of them, but these walls could talk…oh wait, they can!
The funny thing about the human condition is that even when you are squad goals sometimes you still feel like a
lone speck floating upon the infinite abyss. Clutch that iPhone, but it won’t save you from your nihilistic thoughts.
photography by madelynne scales
20 C A N ’ T MI S S | by study breaks staff
Tamales are repurposed cornhusks filled with tasty masa, and the Pearl is a repurposed urban center filled with tasty people. You can eat one of them.
Every year it gets hotter, so every year organizers push this event further back, but eventually they’ll have pushed it back all the way into the summer and then what huh?
TAMALES AT THE PEARL SAN ANTONIO 12/05
TRAIL OF LIGHTS ZILKER PARK, AUSTIN 12/8-12/22
Nothing says finals are over like stumbling along a lighted path with your friends and a healthy eggnog buzz.
THE WEEKND TOYOTA CENTER, HOUSTON, 12/13
Losing feeling in your face means you’re doing it right, but pain in your face hurts means someone slipped krokodil in your LaCroix.
F O OD & DR I N K
S P OR T S/O U T D O OR S
TA L K
M U S IC
ROCK N ROLL MARATHON SAN ANTONIO 12/06
CHANUKAH EVERY WHERE 12/6-12/14
A magical time of the year best celebrated by eating latkes, lighting menorahs, spinning dreidels and watching Full-Court Miracle till your eyes bleed.
THE REVENANT EVERY WHERE 12/25
Bringing together time-travelling Jack Dawson, bird-whisperer Alejandor Iñárritu, and the tale of the rugged outdoorsman Hugh
Glass, The Revenant promises to be the biggest (unofficial) remake since Apocalypse Now.
WINTER SOLSTICE THE WORLD 12/21
Since this is the shortest day of the year, we recommend skipping it.
CHRISTMAS EVERY WHERE 12/25
The day that Christians believe God gave America its greatest basketball of the season will feature a Finals rematch, a Bulls/ Thunder duel, and a Rockets/Spurs thriller. God bless us.
OCTOPUS PROJECT PAPER TIGER, SAN ANTONIO 12/04
INTERROBANG SWAN DIVE, AUSTIN 12/04
Both musical group and unique grammatical symbol, Interrobang is an eight-part brass band on the rise. Check them out at Barbarella’s side entrance, Swan Dive.
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS EVERY WHERE 12/18
Unless someone has a Mind of Mencia film in the works, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is going to be the biggest movie event of our pitiful lives.
Watch this #CityOnTheRise slowly usurp Austin as the Live Music Capitol of World, beginning with the Passion Pit-esque Octopus Project.
POKEMON BREAKFAST CLUB TRIBE COMICS AND GAMES, AUSTIN Saturdays
You drive to this store, you buy yourself some Torchy’s, you talk Pokemon all morning— sometimes happiness is simple.
HITS RUNNING FEST CIRCUIT OF THE AMERICAS, AUSTIN 12/20
Literally your only chance to run on the
Circuit of Americas’ track, and you get to choose your distance!
THE BOOK OF MORMON MAJESTIC THEATRE, SAN ANTONIO 12/15-12/20
The funniest musical you will ever see in your entire life. Make it a date night, take your mom if she’s chill, or go alone and pretend your tears are from the laughing.
ANSEL ADAMS EXHIBITIONS MUSEUM OF TEXAS TECH HISTORY, LUBBOCK
Mostly because it ’s
The teaser for his “BFK” music video describes the video and Gibbs pretty accurately: “People smoke and brandish guns in Gary, Indiana.”
KWANZAA FEST FAIR PARK, DALLAS
free, but also because there’s a 5K, a debate contest, a lot of
handmade stuf f, live
A legitimately cool exhibition in Lubbock is a form of performance art in and of itself. But since being outdoorsy is really in right now, might as well see the photos of the guy who basically created the national park system.
if you live in Dallas
music and because
FREDDIE GIBBS EMPIRE GAR AGE, AUSTIN 12/04
Winter is when global-warming skeptics are at their strongest, so prepare yourself.
what else do you have?
MODERNO: DESIGN FOR LIVING IN BRAZIL, MEXICO, AND VENEZUELA, 1940-1978 BLANTON MUSEUM, AUSTIN 10/01-01/31
“50 year s of progress in five” describes the ment alit y of South Americ an designer s af ter World War II and my ambitious third ex-wife Karen.
A L E X G | by michael t yler • photography vice news
ALEX G. THE BEDROOM ROCK STAR WHO MOVED OUT Because of recent advancements in music-recording technology, any Average Joe with a laptop and a guitar can create a Bandcamp account and release their Adele covers to the masses, completely side-stepping the music industry hoops that were unavoidable for the artists of yesteryear. As a result, anyone can be an Emily Dickinson rock star, producing remarkable album after remarkable album unnoticed from their bedroom, but rarely do these closet musicians graduate from sleeping in four-posters to posing for posters. Even less often do they do so and manage to maintain the innocence and sincerity that made people listen to them in the first place. In fact, 22-year old Philadelphia native Alex Giannascoli might just be bedroom rock’s most successful exception. Giannascoli has been recording and making songs that sound like a combination of Pavement-meets-Elliott Smith-meets-Modest Mouse for no one but himself since his teenage years. He would take his tracks and upload them
to Bandcamp, where over the course of five years he released an astounding seven EP’s, quickly becoming a fixture in the Philly underground scene. Despite the early popularity, Alex wasn’t ready to commit to music as his long-term plan, and headed off to Temple University in 2012 to study English. He was unaware that this decision would wind up being the turning point in his career. While at Temple, he met Matt Cothran of Elvis Depressedly, who encouraged him to play more shows and take music more seriously. The results were overwhelmingly positive, and Giannascoli’s popularity continued to grow. Shortly after 2013 started, he signed to a budding Indie label called Orchid Tapes, a Brooklyn based label that is home to artists that perfectly match the downtrodden singersongwriter mentality Giannascoli embodies. in 2014, Orchid Tapes helped put out his home-recorded label debut, DSU, to widespread critical acclaim. School quickly became an afterthought. In the spring of 2015, following the success of DSU, UK label Lucky Number mastered and released to the world even more of the music Giannascoli had recorded in his bedroom, as Tricks and Rules made their debut. Fast forward to the fall of 2015 to find Giannascoli continuing his vertiginous rise. He signed with prominent Indie label Domino Records, who immediately put the ballad-warbling Philadelphian to work on a follow up to last year’s DSU in the form of Beach Music. This time around, Giannascoli’s popularity has forced him to leave the
bedroom, as he’s spent the lion’s share of the year touring the country. It’s tempting to assume that the change of scenery from bedroom to tour bus could sap the sincerity of such a young artist, but the effect’s been quite the opposite. Giannascoli has continued to churn out music with the same voice that he started with, only now it’s come to reflect newer and more eclectic influences. The effects of his touring are audible throughout the album. There are songs inspired by noise music (“Intro”), Southern Rock (“Ready”), the rhythmic focus of techno and even piano-based laments (“In Love”). As he adapts to life as an itinerant musician, his music will continue to expand as it digests new influences. But the Giannascoli that crooned alone in his bedroom, and that special something in those croons that got him out of that bedroom, whatever that is, is still very present in his music. What’s next for Giannascoli is hard to predict, as he’s appeared apathetic about his success and his future on several occasions. On his breakout EP, DSU, he relays his his ambivalence toward success on the song “Harvey,” sarcastically singing, “I love winning baby, I want it all, I wanna prove that I got balls.” Later, in a September interview with Grantland (RIP), Giannascoli said he “has no great aspirations. If fame and fortune come, that’d be cool, but if it doesn’t, that’d be cool too.” Despite his indifference to the limelight, Giannascoli’s cult following continues to grow and mainstream success may be unavoidable for much longer.
Employees at the student gymnasium called the campus police when two students got in a fight over a game of water volleyball. One student had spiked the ball downward onto another student’s face. The spikee felt the attack on his face was deliberate, and as retaliation, separated the assailant from his swimming trunks. Though the student quickly recovered his swimsuit, he claimed the cold water had made the incident very embarrassing. Both students were given gym suspensions. false
Artist: Alex G.
Album: Beach Music Songs to Listen to: “Bug,” “Brite Boy”
TOP 10 DECEMBER By Michael Tyler
1. Justin Bieber – Sorry
2. Taylor Swift – Wildest Dreams 3. Drake & Future – Jumpman 4. Drake & Future – Big Rings
5. DEJ LOAF FEATURING BIG SEAN – BACK UP 6. Grimes – Flesh without Blood
7. Snakehips featuring Chance the Rapper and Tinashe – All My Friends 8. Ty Dolla $ign featuring Future & Rae Sremmurd – Blasé 9. Neon Indian – The Glitzy Hive 10. Tory Lanez – Say It
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DECEMBER 2015 • SAN ANTONIO • STUDYBREAKS.COM