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KILLER QUEENS

Still reigning while rocking in a youth obsessed kingdom

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it body. Sultry lips. Legs for miles. This is how the general public would like to view the female recording artist, with an impossible expectation of eternal youth. But in today’s visually obsessed world, female artists are being judged solely on looks and the inevitable progression of time as opposed to their talent. Madonna’s performance at the 2012 Super Bowl in February is the most recent example of the harsh ridicule a legendary female artist must face when the age factor hits. According to Billboard. com, Madonna’s event had “10,245 tweets per second, one of the busiest moments in Twitter history.” Fiona Sturges recently reported in The Independent.uk that there were slews of tweet bashings headed Madonna’s way after the televised event, none about her actual performance, solely on her appearance. John Milleker from Maryland tweeted, “Good News: Unlike Lady Gaga, Madonna didn’t wear crusty, old meat as a dress. Bad News: She is wearing crusty, old meat as skin.” Yet in 2010, when The Who performed at the halftime Super Bowl show, a the majority of comments, according to an article published in February 2010 in Rolling Stone, were positive.

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Comments like “Truly an example of live arena rock!” or “There was plenty of energy there and Daltrey hit the only note that matters: the HEY at the end of ‘Won’t Be Fooled Again.’ Rock on!” with no mention of the age factor. Lead singer Roger Daltry is 67 and his fellow band members are all in their late 60s. Sturges recalled her interview with lead singer Siouxsie Sioux from Siouxsie and the Banshees that turned sour after she asked an age-related question. “I interviewed Siouxsie Sioux, then 46, and rightly got a flea in my ear for asking if she had considered retirement. She pointed out that I would never have asked a 46-year-old man the same question,” she said. So why all the bashing when it comes to women of a certain age performing as rockstars or pop stars? Denisse Hernandez, a 23-year-old biochemistry major, said that female artists need to tone down their looks when they age. She is a fan of Madonna’s but said she shouldn’t perform the way she used to 20 years ago. “She shouldn’t as an artist now wear her cone bra. She can still perform but not go out and dress the way she used to,” Hernandez said.


Professor of journalism Toni Albertson disagreed. “Who is making these rules and why should women have to follow these rules?” Albertson said. Albertson worked in the music industry for two decades and spent her 30s on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood as a promoter and magazine editor. She said there is a double standard that existed then, and now. “It would always amaze me how wrinkled up prunes like Mick Jagger or Robert Plant were praised for their music and never once critiqued for prancing around in short tight cut off T-shirts showing their bellies, but God forbid a female rock musician over 40 do the same,” Albertson said. Founding member of The Runaways, Joan Jett, now 53, said she grew up in a world where girls were told not to play rock and roll. She still plays music but on her own terms and said in a 2006 article in the Los Angeles Times that she has been ridiculed for still playing rock music at her age. “So now 20 years later people want us to get together so they can take shots at all these old babes trying to get back some youth. I mean come on; I’ve been there. I know what the press would do.” Jett regrouped with the Blackhearts for a 2007 sold out world tour, opening for Aerosmith and continues to put out new music. But the media are not always welcoming to these legends of rock. Take writers like Judy Berman from Flavorwire who label Madonna and other female artists like Aretha Franklin and Stevie Nicks as nostalgia acts. It is almost as if they are asking these talented artists to go away after they are no longer topping the charts. Berman refers to these women as “coasting by on songs they recorded decades ago.” She credits women who are multitalented such as Patti Smith and Joni Mitchell who have “moved outside the mainstream or into new media” by becoming authors and painters. Mitchell, a renowned folk singer who began her career in the 60s and later expanded to jazz and pop rock, has influenced artists from Robert Plant to Feist, to Neil Young to Prince. In a 2009 Los Angeles Times article, Mitchell, now 68, said she does not have much respect for today’s commercial artists, especially Madonna, but not because of her sexed up image. Mitchell said, “Americans have decided to be stupid and shallow since 1980. Madonna is like Nero; she marks the turning point.” Maggie Worsley, professor of music appreciation and a clarinetist, said that perfection is the focus for women in today’s media. “With plastic surgery, botox, and starvation a set norm for celebrities, the media’s focus has been on the perfect woman. Aging females don’t fit that mold and are therefore attacked.” Worsley said that she has seen ageism in her own career. “I’ve seen the aging orchestral boot-out thing a lot,” Worsley said. She added that older players are not only scolded in private, but can be asked to leave the group entirely. “It’s sad, but some would argue that it maintains artistic

integrity. If an older person can’t hack the part, and a younger person can, there’s only one thing to do... get out the shotgun. Just kidding! But it’s a metaphorical shotgun if you take someone’s livelihood away, isn’t it?” she said. “What’s thrilling however, are those older musicians who keep practicing their asses off and still sound amazing.” While many female artists turn to plastic surgery, Stevie Nicks, 63, admitted in an interview with CBS that she tried Botox but never will again. “I had Botox and I hated it. For four long months, I looked like a different person. It almost brought down the whole production of the last tour. It was so bad, I would look into the mirror and burst into tears,” Nicks said. In a Rolling Stone article published September 2010, Nicks talked about her 2011 album release “In Your Dreams,” and her long career. “At a certain point, I’m going to get too old for this, but making this album really shows that I’m not done yet.” Mt. SAC music department chair Dr. Jason Chevalier cited the beginning of MTV in 1981 and said, “Remember, the first video played was Video Killed the Radio Star, with the implication that the visual imagery is now equal to or more important than actual talent.” Chevalier also said, “Ageism implies the intentional exclusion of some…it is the fascination with youth and all things trendy and new that perpetuates the exclusion of the old and dated.” For Ann Wilson, who rose to fame in the 1970s with her sister Nancy in the rock band Heart, MTV nearly destroyed her career and her self-esteem. While appearance has always mattered in show business, MTV took it to a whole new level. In an interview with CBS in 2006, Wilson said that being a heavy female rock star was just bad business. She said she was under constant pressure to lose weight and that stylists would dress her in ways to disguise her size, or would film her hidden in a shadow. She said in the interview, “I was surrounded all these people who undermined my confidence.” Musicians, not only in the mainstream pop and rock worlds face the label of ageism but also those in the classical realm. Female music legends still have their admiring young fans. Jessica Rosas, a 20-year-old fashion major, is a fan of Lita Ford, Stevie Nicks, and Ann and Nancy Wilson, all women who have held their own in the music world for years. “I feel that women musicians aren’t taken seriously because it’s a man’s world,” Rosas said. “It’s sad how they get judged and ridiculed because of their age and just because they are women. Women should get more credit than they are given in the music world.” Debbie Harry, described as a sex symbol since her days as lead singer of the New Wave/punk band Blondie, described to Telegraph.co.uk the challenges of aging. “Oh yes, sure, it’s hard. Regardless of what I say about trying to be better at what I do, I rely on looks a lot. Women’s calling cards, unfortunately, are based on their looks.” brigette villaseñor


Clockwise from top: Nancy and Ann Wilson of Heart; Stevie Nicks; Joni Mitchell; Madonna Previous page: Debbie Harry of Blondie


BONE THUGS

20 Years and still harmonious

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“We were the only artists able to work with Eazy E, Pac, and Biggie. “That’s a blessing not many artists can say that,” Krayzie said. But even with all the fame, Krayzie still manages to keep his down-to earth personality. “I don’t want to think I’m on top of everybody…for everyone to label us as legends, that’s for the people to decide and if that’s what they are saying then I ain’t gonna deny it,” Krayzie said. Krayzie remembered the days he spent recording with Tupac and Biggie. It was during the time when there was a huge East Coast versus West Coast hip-hop rivalry and Tupac and Biggie were at the epicenter. “It was ironic they both had beef and we worked with both of them and then two weeks later they passed away so it was real crazy, real eerie,” Krayzie said. Today, there is a lot of controversy about how much hip-hop has music has changed, some say for the worse. While some blame technology, others blame the new generation or a combination of the two. Krayzie has his own take on today’s hop-hop scene. “I feel like a lot of artists today don’t respect the art because they don’t really have to work for it. So people just look at it as a way to make money real quick, just like selling drugs, you can make a quick dollar over here doing this, say anything on a beat; as long as the beat is good, we good”. Bone Thugs are currently working on a big project for their 20-year anniversary. “We are planning to do something real special whether it be making a new album or a world tour,” Krayzie said. Bone Thugs fans have been anticipating this day and it is finally in progress. The group is also planning to share unreleased music from the mid to late 1990s. Krayzie said he is just grateful for being a part of such an incredible era. “That era that we were in will probably never be seen again… It feels good to come from that era and still be here.” -AnAlisse De leon

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egends never die, legends or fade away, and in some cases, the more years that pass the greater their respect amongst fans grow. This is the case of Bone Thugs –N- Harmony, who are back and better than ever. Krayzie Bone, from the musical rap group Bone Thugs –NHarmony, reunited with his group this summer at Rock The Bells, one of the biggest hip-hop festivals, created new designs for his clothing line The Life Apparel, and released a new solo album on Nov. 20 called “Chasing The Devil.” Next year, Bone Thugs will hit their 20-year mark and there are exciting projects to expect from them. Krayzie Bone and group member Wish Bone recently toured in Canada and just came back from Sweden a couple of weeks ago. “It is so crazy the response they get in these different countries around the world, like there are people who don’t even know English singing word for word at these shows,” said Art Serrano, art director of The Life Apparel. While in Sweden they visited and spoke to schools about the music industry and said they had a very good response. Bone Thugs –N- Harmony grew up together in Cleveland, Ohio where they met and created the rap group in while in junior high school. They rapped in front of any crowd they could, any chance they got. They originally formed a group called “The Band Aid Boys” and performed at talent shows. In 1991, Krayzie received a call from rap legend Eazy E, rapped for him and immediately flew out to Los Angeles with the group members. The rest is history. “He was our mentor and for him to actually be the one to discover us, that was a dream come true,” Krayzie said. Krayzie added that he is still very appreciative towards rap legend Eazy E, who helped pave the way for his career that consisted of several Grammy nominations and over 50 million albums sold. Bone Thugs are most commonly known for being the only rap artists to work with rap legends: Tupac, Biggie, and Eazy E.

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PAPER PAMPHLETS -

A tale of life change

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our particular combination of disorders can be difficult to treat,” the doctor told me, handing me three paper pamphlets. I looked down at the pamphlets with confusion. How could all of my problems possibly be explained in those small folded pieces of paper? They felt so thin and limp in my hands. So unimportant. But the bold black titles shouted out at me mockingly: “Overcoming Panic Disorder,” “Coping with Manic-Depressive Disorder,” “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Your Life.” The sharp, carefully pressed corners stabbed into my hands as I clutched them tightly, trying not to cry when the psychiatrist explained the course of treatment.

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I have always known I was a little bit crazy, but sitting there in that overstuffed chair, in that unnaturally bright room, holding the proof in my hands, made my stomach sink to my feet. My life had been reduced to these three thin pamphlets. The person who had walked into that office and sat in that oversized charcoal armchair disappeared when the pamphlets were handed to me. As I flipped through the pages, my identity started to slip slowly away. My thoughts turned into symptoms. My traits became “indicators of mental instability.” My actions were now “obsessive rituals.” Everything about me, everything that made me who I was, had become little black words printed on plain white paper folded into three small pamphlets. As the words made their way from the off white pages to my mind and sunk deep into my brain, I felt myself disappearing, growing smaller. I was a sapling, weak and flexible. I was a flower, small and wilting. I was a tiny bean sprout, so delicate that I could be crushed with the slightest touch. “We can start you off with a low dose anti-depressant,” Dr. Saheed said as he took the booklet of prescription forms out of his desk and began scratching something out. “Would you like Celexa, Zoloft, Lexapro, Cymbalta…?” he trailed off. I still could not think, could not comprehend what was happening to me. My brain was still swimming with the bold black titles and endless symptoms, and now he had thrown more foreign words into the pool of problems. All I wanted was to control my problems, and now my problems controlled me. I shook my head in an attempt to clear my mind and swallowed around the dry lump in my throat. “Um, the first one, I guess,” I answered with a hoarse whisper. He scribbled the name down. “When you come back next month, we can double the dose and add a mood stabilizer.” The sound of the paper as he ripped it quickly from the booklet cracked around me like a bullwhip. As I added the little slip of paper to my stack of pamphlets, Dr. Saheed explained the side effects of the drug. Severe nausea, uncontrollable shaking, muscle pain and weakness, loss of appetite, vomiting, increased anxiety, abnormal bleeding, irregular heartbeat… The list went on and on and on. After a while I wasn’t really listening anymore. I felt numb. I just wanted all of the words to stop. I wanted to rewind, to go back to the moment before I stepped into that office. I wanted to go back to a time when I did not know I was crazy. I wanted to go back to when I was still myself and the most I had to worry about was what to wear to the movie date with my boyfriend that weekend. I closed my eyes for a moment, the doctor’s voice still droning on in the background like white noise, and I tried to pretend that I was dreaming. I had not gone to the appointment yet. I was still lying in my bed, perfectly normal and not crazy. Any moment now I was going to wake up and remember the terrible nightmare that I had. And I was going to get up and get ready and go to my boyfriend’s house instead of my appointment. We would watch TV and lay down and I would tell him about the horrible dream and he would tell me that it was just a dream and I was not crazy. He would play with my hair and I would smile and relax and forget all about the paper pamphlets. “Susan?” My pretend world faded away at the sound of my name. “Susan?” I opened my eyes and my heart sunk. I was not dreaming. I was not lying down. No one was playing with my hair.

And I was still crazy. Dr. Saheed was staring at me with concerned eyes. I looked at my reflection in his glasses and saw myself just as I was; tiny, trapped and transparent. My heart broke in two at the sight of the little girl stuck in those lenses like an innocent child in prison. She looked so sad and broken, so lost and alone. And she was so small. Am I really that small? I looked down at my shaking hands, then at my feet, barely touching the scratchy carpet beneath me. They looked normal. They were neither tiny nor shrunken. I appeared to be the exact same size as I was when I had walked into that office. But I didn’t feel like it. I felt just as small as the girl in the glasses. Dr. Saheed cleared his throat. It was as loud as a gunshot in the silent room. “Did you hear what I said?” I tried to say no, but no sound would come out of my dry throat. I just shook my head. “My main concern here is your age. In adolescents and young adults, this drug can have a high risk of suicidal thoughts or actions. I’m prescribing it to you because I feel the positive outcomes will outweigh the negative possibilities. But it is very important that you call me immediately and stop taking this medication if you are having any thoughts of suicide, do you understand?” Fanfreakingtastic. I come here for thoughts of suicide, and now I’ll be leaving with thoughts of suicide and a whole bunch of unpleasant side effects to go with it. Brilliant. I nodded and Dr. Saheed clapped his hands together. “Alright then, I’ll see you in a month.” I did not start crying until I pulled onto the freeway. And I did not stop crying until I pulled up to my boyfriend Danny’s house. He opened the door, smiling as always and kissed me on the cheek. “How’d it go?” I handed him the three pamphlets and watched fearfully as he flipped through them. I waited for the shock, the surprise, something. But it never came. He just looked up, still smiling. “So you’re going to be alright? He gave you something to help right?” I nodded and handed him the prescription slip. “Good.” I looked at him incredulously, wondering if he had actually read any of it. He walked past me and sat down, patting the spot on the blanket next to him. “Good?” I finally found my voice. It came out a little cracked at first. “I’m crazy. I’m not normal.” Danny looked up at me and laughed, pulling me down next to him. “You are perfectly normal. Everyone has something wrong with them.” His words sank into me. For a brief second, I thought maybe he was right, for a brief second, I considered the possibility that my life was not changed by this, for a brief second, I imagined that I was still exactly the same as I was when I woke up that morning. That brief second was all it took for a little part of my identity to return to me. And maybe someday soon, I thought, I will have all of myself back again. Danny pulled me to his chest and started playing with my hair. “You’re not crazy.” For the first time that day, I smiled. And I relaxed. And I forgot all about the paper pamphlets. —SUSAN VANNATTA


THE PAINTED WOMAN -

Escaping a tragic portrait of love

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remember the first time I fell in love. We were 17 and she was sitting at her easel, working on a painting of a California condor with a color palette reminiscent of an acid trip. I was lying on her living room floor, watching in a daze and attempting to write a few weak lines of a poem I’d been unsuccessfully been trying to finish. She never knew how many I wrote just about the red of her hair and the music of her laughter. We traded secrets back and forth, listening to Jenny Lewis, spilling our guts to each other about our antidepressants and insecurities without fear of repetition or judgment. I’ve never been hit by a freight train, but I imagine it’s something like the way I felt that day. She turned, blushing, and told me that she was fascinated by me, enough that she hinted less-than-subtlety that she wanted to paint my portrait, a request she had never asked of anyone else. In that moment I retreated back into the shell she had tried so hard to break through over the course of the month I’d known her. Incorporating me in her art was the most personal form of affection. More so than sex, a currency she spent freely. To sit and be a part of the thing she was so passionate about sounded terrifying; I declined, and it ranks as one of my worst regrets. When I’m being honest with myself, I think it was just that I didn’t want to know how she really saw me. That, and I didn’t want her to immortalize me in acrylics just to throw me away like a model after a cheap photo shoot. I didn’t want my novelty value to wear off just yet, and if she was looking at a portrait of me hanging in her apartment every day, how could it not? I saw the way she would make men fall in love with her, just to have her drop them after a month of fun when they could no longer hold her interest. I couldn’t stand the thought of her doing that to me. A year and a half passed, and we grew closer. “Best friends,” we would tell people who were confused by how much time we spent together. She wasn’t accustomed to the idea that women could love other women as much, if not more so, than they could love a man, and had been raised to think that it was inappropriate in every way. But I knew, and everyone around us knew, what she was really struggling with in that secretive little mind of hers, even if she was too afraid to express it. We slept in the same bed three to four times a week and went everywhere together. She took me to events that would normally be reserved for her boyfriends; they went uninformed, and I was her date. No one else mattered to me. Family, my friends, all fell by the wayside when it came to this girl. She eclipsed all and consumed my every thought. I was like a junkie needing her fix over and over again but was never satisfied with what I got. It did hurt, thinking that every time she said, “I love you,” it meant something different than when I would reluctantly reply. Eventually I got tired of waiting for her to accept herself and began seeing a handsome, brilliant, caring man. While he didn’t initially elicit the same emotional responses that she did, he treated me like a princess. That was enough for me. Nine months later we were about to move to Los Angeles together. It wasn’t until I was two days away from leaving that she came clean and finally admitted that she liked girls, me in particular. And thus I was faced with an impossible choice; the one I’d always wanted and the one who deserved me. In the end my brain overrode my heart and I left with him to LA. I couldn’t follow someone through the dark any longer, not when they were so utterly lost with no hope, no light. Two broken people can’t fix one another. They can make something brief and beautiful, like an elaborately painted vase laden with hairline cracks, but in the end it wasn’t going to hold any water. I was doing what was best for me, but I can’t say that I feel good about it. I had changed her life and then abandoned her at the moment of her revelation, her weakest, most vulnerable stage of the cycle I’d encouraged her to begin. For this I’m still ashamed. We still maintained half-hearted contact for a year or so after I left, and my feelings have only recently faded after completely cutting her out of my life. But she’s like a stain on your favorite shirt; it may lose some color, but it’s never truly gone. It’s been four years since I watched her paint that bird. Eventually I realized that she’s like Santa Claus; at some point I just had to grow up and stop believing in her. Since I’ left, she’s done nothing but destroy herself for the simple reason that she could. Foreign elements to her, like hard drugs, pornography, prostitution and flippancy are now hardwired into her lifestyle, and she’s no longer the person I adored, just a gross imitation, a knock-off brand of the only thing that I had ever loved more than myself. Now she sleeps with married men in motel rooms and desperate women in a cold brick building while being broadcast via webcam. All in the name of money, or “survival,” as she called it. She doesn’t sit at her easel any longer, asking for my opinions and listening to Jenny Lewis. She doesn’t confess her secrets and faults to a person she barely knows but inexplicably trusts. That girl is dead, but her memory haunts me to this day. —Sarah Venezio


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NOT YOUR AVERAGE JOE Nick Montana’s future starts with Mt. SAC

he Y chromosome of one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game of football is coming to Mt. SAC. Nick Montana has transferred to Mt. SAC from the University of Washington to try and help the Mounties regain the status of state and national champions. If the Montana name rings a bell, it should. Nick is the son of Joe Montana, a Hall of Famer and Super Bowl champion quarterback who appeared in four Super Bowls for the San Francisco 49ers, winning every game. Mt. SAC football fans are hoping Nick will bring some of that Montana magic to the Mounties football team. Nick dove into his football career in fourth grade. It wasn’t until seventh grade that he decided to make the switch from linebacker to quarterback. “There was no pressure from my dad or anything, I just kind of started liking it,” he said. Nick played his high school football at Oaks Christian in Westlake Village, Calif. He grew up in the San Francisco Bay area,

46 Substance Spring 2012

where his last name carries a legendary ring to it. After completing his high school career, Nick committed to the University of Washington. He played at Washington for two seasons, red shirting his freshman season. Red shirting means the season does not count against the four years of eligibility every athlete is allowed to play under NCAA regulations. Nick was backup quarterback to Washington Huskies starter Keith Price and appeared in six of the 13 games for the Huskies. He had one start in the season coming in the game versus Oregon. He went 12 for 22 in that game with 145 yards passing. He decided to transfer out of Washington to Mt. SAC due to a lack of playing time. “Unfortunately there was someone ahead of me a year older, he was going to be there another two years so I figure you only get four years at it I’d rather go somewhere I can play then go on from there.”


This will be the first time that Nick has attended a community college. “I had no idea about junior college so I talked to some people and they recommended a handful of schools,” he said. So why Mt. SAC? The Mounties football programs recent success contributed to Nick’s decision. “The coaches were a lot more organized, it was the closest program that resembled what a division one would be like in terms of the offense coaching style and organization of the program,” he said. The Mounties have won two state and national championships in the last three years. Last year Mt. SAC came up short in the state championship game against San Francisco Community College. Montana will be bringing a lot of talent and knowledge to the Mt. SAC football team. He said that he learned a lot in his two years at the University of Washington. He also said that playing at a division one school will give him a competitive edge. He explained: “I learned a lot of intelligence like reading defenses, it was a pro style offense so they ask us to know a bunch of stuff so being able to retain all that information and use it has helped a lot. How much information you have to retain as far as the playbook, reading defense, you’ve got to know the other team as well as your guys.” This is valuable experience that cannot be taught overnight. Nick said the concepts he learned up at Washington will translate well to the junior college level. “Wherever you go it’s a lot of the same concepts, some systems are more sophisticated than others. Playing against some of the D1 teams will help a lot at the junior college level,” Nick said.

Through all of his talent and success Montana keeps a level head and a humble heart; he knows he still has room to improve and weapons to add to his athletic arsenal. “There’s a lot of things I can work on: decision making, reading defenses, the list goes on.” Montana has been working on the weaker aspects to his game. “I worked with the offensive coordinator Coach Muss, he worked a lot with me. Everything to do from footwork to film study.” One season later, with a change of scenery from wet and windy Washington to sunny Southern California. Montana looks forward to starting his career as a Mountie. “It’s been fun meeting a whole group of guys and getting to bond with quarterbacks, receivers, and everyone.” When Montana has trouble with an aspect of his game he doesn’t have to look far for sound advice. A Hall of Fame quarterback is only a phone call away at all times. It doesn’t hurt that it’s his dad either. “He’s a great source for me to have, if I ever need some help he’s a pretty good source to go to.” Nick utilzes having a Super Bowl champion quarterback as a father. “He has taught me a lot, the biggest thing I got from him is how to hold yourself as a quarterback, everything that goes into leadership, being around the team, and holding yourself off the field,” Nick said. This will most likely be Nick’s only year at Mt. SAC. “My plan is to graduate in December,” he said. He is pursuing a degree in business. —Corey esquivel


THE RECESSIONISTA Staying stylish during hard times

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he recession is not an excuse for a sartorial drought. If anything the budget limitations can be an opportunity to get creative and examine which pieces in your closet matter most. Keeping it simple can be as easy as going into your closet and pulling out what you already have.

Communications major Kristina Gonzalez, 22, models her favorite summer looks—pulled from her personal closet built on thrift store steals—and paired with her favorite accessory: her smile.

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—Rich Yap

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“I love red lipstick. I always wear red lipstick even if I’m just wearing jeans and a t-shirt.” Bikini top: Victoria’s Secret Ring: Santee Alley


“The more simple a girl is, the prettier she is, I think.” Opposite page skirt: $1 Goodwill (go during the red and blue tag sales!) top: 50 cents from a thrift store. This page dress: “from my younger sister’s closet.”


Button down shirt: $5. Santee Alley Shorts: “A birthday gift from a friend.”


YOUR BODY IN THE BUFF How to primer your car

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NOTE: This should be done on a warm day. WHAT YOU NEED: 10 sheets of 400 grit water based sandpaper, (the number 400 will be printed on the sandpaper and it is usually black; they come in the size of sheet of paper). A bucket of water. 10 cans of primer paint (Home Depot sells good quality primer paint). 3-4 rolls of one-inch masking tape. Some old newspapers. A painter’s mask (you can also get this at Home Depot). STEP 1: Cut the sandpaper. Each sheet into four pieces about 5 x 4 inches. Cut one at a time as needed because you can take the leftovers back to the store. STEP 2: Dip the sandpaper in water one little square of sandpaper at a time, and sand the paint off your car slowly until it becomes dull. Be sure to keep it wet at all times and use only one piece at a time. You will be able to see and feel the wear of sandpaper and you will know when you need another piece. Be careful with all of the chrome parts and windows. When sanding your scratches and dings, sand around in circular motion until scratches are gone. You will see your old paint fade away; this is what you want to happen. When finished sanding the car, it should look dull. STEP 3: Wash the car and dry it. STEP 4: Use the old newspapers and masking tape to mask off your windows, chrome, tires, and car parts that you don’t want to get primer paint on. Be sure to park the car away from things you do not want primer spray on and keep kids away from the paint spray. STEP 5: Put on the painter’s mask.You must cover your mouth and hair, and wear some old clothes. It is time to spray! STEP 6: Shake the can well for about 3 minutes and start first by spraying the top of your car. Next spray the hood, trunk, and then the sides of your car fenders and doors. Be careful with spray cans because they are flammable and no smoking or drinking! Do not leave cans unattended. Store them away in a cool place when finished. You may want to take leftover cans back to the store. Let the paint dry for at least two hours before the taking tape and newspaper off. STEP 7: Now peel the tape off your chrome and windows carefully and slowly. Good luck! —Felipe navarro

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Pictured: Alex Urquidez

FROM BRUISES TO ARPEGGIOS

54 Substance Spring 2012

When life hit hard for one student,the guitar served as both shelter and escape


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y life changed the day I started playing guitar. I was involved in many things that I should not have been, mostly gang-related issues like selling elicit drugs to people and tagging up the walls of my city with my tagger name. The reasons why I did these things was pretty clear. Growing up in my family was never easy. My older sibling and I were in a foster home when we were children due to negligence on our mother’s part. This was the worst experience of my life. Not only were these people negligent, they were abusive bastards You know those pictures of brothers walking and holding hands? That was us. Just two little boys. What these people did was so repulsive it still gives me night terrors to this day. They would grab us by our hands and throw us in separate rooms and sometimes they would throw me in the closet. Lights out, pitch black, unable to speak. I have never told anyone about this until writing this piece. My aunts told us stories of how they would visit us and see the bruises but the foster parents would say we just fell. Those were lies they used to cover the beatings. I can recall this one event because the reoccurring night terror is so terrible that it makes me shake just thinking about it. I remember being so scared at one point that I hid under a bed because they were looking for me. They pulled me out from under the bed by my leg, my belly scraping the rug. “There you are you little ass!” I remember it so vividly. I was only 3 at the time but I still remember it. How could someone so young remember this? It’s simple. Some memories just haunt you forever. We eventually were put back into our mother’s arms. Having us taken away from her made her change. From then on life seemed like it was getting easier. Or so I thought. From the period of time when I was in kindergarten to about the fifth grade, I was a great student. Being in the fourth grade and reading at an eighth grade level is something that every parent hopes to see in a child. I was advanced in math, reading and also able to pick up a musical instrument and play it. I was a prodigy. I was in four different classes to adhere to my level of schooling. That all changed mid year in fifth grade. The California standards were raised. I now had to learn what the sixth graders were learning. This transition was horrible. I was a very shy kid and never asked for help when I needed it. I fell behind in all my classes. My great academic progress was lost. My parents saw me as a f **k up. It seemed that no matter how hard I tried to get back on track, I just could not do it. Somehow, I made it to junior high school. This is where everything bad that could happen, happened. I was distracted in class because I never knew what to do so I talked to the “bad students.” I quickly became one of them, getting in trouble, stealing stuff, talking back to the teacher, getting referrals, suspension. I got into the eighth grade and this is where I had my first encounter with drugs. My friend brought some weed to school and I had never smoked in my life. “Do you want some?” he said. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t want to look like an idiot, so I smoked. I

missed two classes that day, but I didn’t care. Everything felt so great at that moment. I was relaxed and did not care about anything. After about two months my friend told me I could make money. What junior high schooler doesn’t want money? I asked him how and he said, “ See that guy over there? Go take this to him.” I walked over and gave him the little sack. He handed me money! Not realizing I had just made my first deal, I picked up on how it was done and who to sell to. I learned who were the rats and who were the stoners. I eventually became known by a local gang member who was originally from Los Angeles. He introduced me to these older guys who I never met before and they asked me if I knew my city well enough to walk around at night. I said yes. I started selling this stuff in bigger increments, making about $200 bucks a night working four days a week. I was doing great. I was in deep and didn’t even know until that first day when I had a gun pointed at me. This feeling was so intense, so shocking, so terrifying, that I couldn’t move. I lost $100 in profit. I went back to my partner, the guy who I thought I could trust, and told him what had happened. He pulled a gun on me and said, “If you ever lose any profit again…” He didn’t finish his sentence, he just smiled and said,“ Don’t let it happen again.” School was only getting worse my freshman year in high school so my parents started home schooling me. I had no way of speaking to any of my friends. I was depressed. The drug abuse got worse. The next step was coke. I was doing terrible. My only escape was the drugs now that my friends were gone. Shortly after my sophomore year, my parents bought me a guitar. This is when I realized that I did not need drugs to feel great. Playing guitar was my therapist. It was my new love, my life. I was able to put all the mixed emotions I had buried inside into my songs. Thoughts of suicide still ran through my head and still do to this day. I try to keep a smile on my face and just write about it. And then my parents wanted to divorce. After years of not communicating, it was no surprise to me. The day I found out was the day they brought me into the living room with all my other siblings. They explained to us that things had not been working out for the past few years and that they just did not feel they could go on the way they were. I tried to stay strong but I couldn’t help but let out tears. I thought everything was finally going to get better. This just goes to show you things can turn bad quick. My thoughts of suicide were just too much to bare. I started writing a song that night: “And I’m on my own, have to find my way…” It may not be a happy song, but I wrote it so I could let my emotions out and people could understand me though my music. My guitar has been my escape from life. I learned that you do not need drugs to survive or to numb the pain because in the end it comes back. Not only does life throw some crazy things at you, but I believe the saying, “To each their own,” and in my situation, this means that people have their own escapes, something that helps relieve the pain at least for a moment. —AlexAnder UrqUidez


REHAB’S CENTER

A student's jouney leads to a clean future

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I

walked into the Salvation Army adult rehabilitation center in Pasadena. The first question I was asked was how long I had been sober. I told the man at the window the truth: I drank last night. “Do you really want to be here?” he asked. “Yes,” I replied. “Then you better tell them you haven’t done anything for at least three days.” I was blown away that he was telling me how to lie to get in, but I soon found out that he was also a beneficiary and had come in off the streets only a couple months prior. I signed all the paperwork and gave them all of my possessions. They gave me a bunch of secondhand clothes and walked me in. I was now being breathalyzed by Ray, a short blueeyed Italian with slicked back hair. I thought he was an employee by the way he looked, collared shirt, tie, well fed, and clean cut. I later found out that he too was a “benny.” I would soon call myself one too. Ray told me the rules of the house and then showed me where I would be sleeping for the next six months. It was a shabby dormitory with five steel bunks and Astroturf for carpet. There was no privacy, and the 50 people on this side of the building would share the bathroom at the end of the hall. I thought to myself, “Its better than puking myself to sleep behind the 7-eleven,” and I smiled. I walked back downstairs and Ray showed me where the box was, that’s the 8x20 rectangle painted on the pavement out front where can smoke, during certain hours. I smoked a cigarette and walked into the dining room. They dished me up some leftovers from lunch. I was amazed at how good they tasted. I realized how long it had been since I had actually eaten. I had been living on a mostly liquid diet now for about a year. That first meal was when it hit me, everything that had gotten

56 Substance Spring 2012

me here. I had lied, cheated, and stolen from the ones I loved just to hang out with a bunch of low-life’s and get loaded. I had attacked my family in every way I could think of in an effort to get them to forget about me; but in the end, when I had burned every bridge and nobody would even look at me anymore, they were the ones who picked me up; the ones that brought me here. I did not begrudge them for not trying to help me anymore. I had tried 100 different ways to live my life the way I wanted, and failed. Now it was time I started listening to someone else. What I would learn over the next few months would change my life forever. At first I thought they would just try to teach you how to take care of yourself and get your stuff in order, like an extended detox where they would just clean you up and get you a job after. I thought of the bums on the street and how I always thought if they were just cleaner, they could probably get a job and start supporting themselves. I would soon find out it there was more to this program than meets the eye. I would hear the stories of many men and learn from their experiences, strengths, and hopes; I would piece together my own story and start and realize why I had strayed. There was more to it than just alcohol and drugs, and I would find out that those were only symptoms of the problem. I was scared to death when I thought of life without drugs and alcohol, but the turning point came when I realized I did not have to worry about the rest of my life. I only had to worry about what tomorrow would be like, and tomorrow didn’t look that bad anymore. There was finally a light at the end of this long dark tunnel, and it was not the headlight of an oncoming train. Every day since that one is a little bit better than the last and every day I can wake up and look forward to the best day of my life. —Scott SchetSelaar


DOLPHIN DAZE

I

How alcohol, conversation, and a sea mammal brought out the best in a friendship drunk,” that night he was anything but happy. Almost immediately after his words began slurring, his thoughts and his words turned to despair. He said that he felt horrible about owing money, and that I must feel like he was just using me. Then he said that he needed friends like me because he was distant from his family and I was one of the few whom he could bond with. I knew that his relationship with his family was difficult, but I didn’t realize how strained it was, how opposite it was from my relationship with my parents. “I’m so happy when you guys come over,” he said. “It’s pretty much the only positive feeling, the only time I feel good, for the whole week.” I ended up hearing more of his difficulties and drove him around to help him recover until 6 a.m., learning more about someone whom I had not always seen as human or vulnerable up until that point. It was difficult to deal with him, even after that moment, because he remembered nothing from that night – not even vomiting an entire Denny’s breakfast at my curbside. But as I argued with him I could also see the reality that I was not being nearly forward enough. I wasn’t able to be honest and forthcoming when he wanted to hang out. Sometimes I would go to his house and do something half-assed, or I would say yes and later cancel. Most importantly, I was inept at connecting the dots when it came to his family issues. I didn’t realize that so much of his frustrations were due to his mother, father, brother and sister all being difficult to interact with, even though I had seen all of them and experienced it firsthand. And I did not tell him early enough that although it is horrible that his family is distant and cold, I cannot always replace them in the way that he wants. That night I learned that even the most difficult people are still human at their core, and in most cases they have a reason for acting the way they do. After that drunken daze, we still had our differences and even the occasional impasse of not talking to one another, but the issues lessened. Ultimately, he is a much more reasonable and likable person today. Alcohol enabled me to understand people a little more, but it has not aided anyone else in the process of understanding me. I just dance more and say weirder stuff, which is not exactly a game-changing revelation. —Matthew Medina substance Spring 2012 57

-Esau VillasEñor

saw a dolphin’s corpse wash up on the beach. Well, the dolphin was completely unrelated to what changed my life. But seeing the dolphin led to the life-changing moment. I was at the beach late at night because my friends wanted to find a secluded spot to drink, talk, and contemplate life. We figured that there would be no better thing to accompany alcohol than with a long walk on the beach. As soon as we got out and approached the water, we found the dolphin right away. We hurried to our getaway car, furiously making an effort to avoid being implicated for the murder of an underwater mammal. I made a mental note that I would not join any exercise program that involved running in the sand, and we drove back to a more local spot. That spot was a hilly area behind a community with houses good enough to be gated off. As a result, people occasionally snuck their way onto one of the best hills behind the houses, with a view of the suburbs and relatively little light pollution. It was so popular that someone decided to take a couch up there. My friends did not dare to touch it, concerned that there were mysterious stains all over it. Still, I was sometimes tempted to sit on the couch, just to have a moment of rest. I’m sure the stains were actually caused by spilled alcohol and sporadic rainfall. Then came the actual life-changing moment. It involved a friend who frequently borrowed money and would take weeks, even months to pay it back. He would also incessantly needle me to hang out more often than a few times a week. There were also several arguments in which he would question the way I lived without looking at his. In other words, he was pretty damn annoying. He was enjoyed my senseless jokes, though, and he was a good video game buddy. His spontaneous need to hang out sometimes turned into wandering adventures that paid off with intriguing results. In the past we had clashed several times and ended up creating several short-term periods in which we were not on speaking terms – two weeks of silence that started with me refusing to loan him money, one week caused by my annoyance with his rather personal hypothetical questions, four days for some reason I can’t even remember. Worse yet, most of our friends were mutual, so this was almost a social shutdown. He was a different person when influenced by alcohol, t hough. Despite his insistence that he was normally a “happy


ROMANCE IN TRANSIT Crush on a bus

T

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his was ages ago last year. January, maybe March. We only rode the bus together five times, only two times sitting together. The moment I laid eyes on you, I smiled exuberantly, because you looked so nice. You were getting on the 190 at the Badillo and Citrus Avenue bus stop, 9:15 a.m. on a Wednesday, heading to Mt. SAC. You were one of the rare people getting on the bus who had not immediately wiped their nose of “white Lindsay Lo� or put out a cigarette. You looked like the average super-cute thug King Taco worker or student. You saw me smiling at you, and your face sort of lit up.

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Your thug looks started with the signature royal blue LA Dodgers cap, which sits on your head at the right angle to where the light catches your glistening green eyes. You had a soul-patchtriangle-hairy-thing under your bottom lip, which I normally do not tolerate on my Latino men, but you made it work. You wore drab grayish-blue clothes that were slightly baggy. I had my wellknown “Jimmy Neutron” charcoal black hairstyle and OG tilted ray-bans on. I was holding a cup of coffee that, true to Starbucks tradition, kept spouting forth like a caffeinated geyser from the tiny sippy hole in the top, scalding my hands as I attempted in vain to dry off with a flimsy recycled paper napkin. I think you had big balls. You sat right next to me. There was genuine sexual tension, which is rare in Los Angeles County, and even rarer on the bus. You smelled really good. I sat upright, looking forward and not making eye contact, although I took off my sunglasses so you wouldn’t think I looked like a spy. I might have turned down my iPod shuffle so you wouldn’t know that I was thoroughly enjoying my listen to Backstreet Boys’ “I Want it That Way.” I didn’t make conversation. I just sat there and inhaled your scent the whole way to school. What was that sexual smell? It wasn’t cologne. I have bought cologne before, and they do not make men’s cologne that smells like this. Was it soap? Pine Sol? A particularly wonderful brand of fabric softener and/or dryer sheet? I have searched in vain for the scent since meeting you. I want to douse the rest of the bus riders with it. Fuck, I’d spray it all over my Shih Tzu if I could distill it. It was sweet, soft, but not girly. It was clean but not Febreezy. The next Wednesday, you got on the bus and sat next to me. Deliberately. There were dozens of empty seats on the bus, but you chose to sit next to me. I blushed. You blushed. You smelled even better. I might have even peed in my pants a little. You took out a book and pretended to read it. That book everyone is reading, Hunger Games or Games of Poverty or something by someone with an Iranian/Afghani/Middle Eastern name. Khaled. Ahmed. Whatever. I nervously asked you about the book. I think I made a really stupid comment about how I can’t read on the bus because I get car sick. This must have turned you on because I noticed your pants tented. You tried to explain the plot of the book, and you spoke very slowly and not particularly lucidly, in direct contrast to my high-pitched but enunciated prattling. It was obvious, probably to both of us but clearly to me, that we were not romantically suited for each other nor was there any intellectual chemistry. It was clear as crystal. I had at the time, and still have to this day, a boyfriend that I really love. Chances are, you have a boyfriend who rocks your world. I may have been a home wrecker for Halloween, but that doesn’t make me one in reality. I actually went home and told my boyfriend about you. I called you my Bus Boyfriend. I normally do not tell my boyfriend about random men who want to hit on me but who, true to LA style, don’t try. But I told him about you because I wanted him to be well aware that other completely random men want to be physically close to me because this is something that even jealous boyfriends are often prone to forgetting. You probably know, Bus Boyfriend, what it’s like when you’re with a boy for a couple years. If you know he’s faithful, you start thinking, “Hey, I’m the only one who has access to this booty...” Then you start thinking, “Hey, no

one else really thinks about this man but me.” My boyfriend took notice when I told him about you; he felt the slight threat that was implicit in our public transportation liaisons, as platonic as they may have been. He fucked me really hard for a couple of weeks, realizing that he was damn fortunate to have access to this poon. The last Wednesday I saw you, I noticed you too late. It was a really bad morning for me, Bus Boyfriend. I arrived at the bus stop before having that necessary first cup of soy caramel macchiato. The weather was foggy and so was my brain. You got on the bus and chances are you looked to see if our eyes would lock, because I felt a pair of eyes burning a hole in the side of my face. By the time I was jolted out of my reverie by your smell wafting by, you had passed by and had seated yourself farther back. For one entire stop I contemplated getting up and sitting next to you. Then a gigantic, hairy man with an apparent allergy to soap wedged me in against the window and it was all I could do to keep from straining my neck while looking back at you and hoping that you would at least get up and stand behind me so I could smell something besides the 300-pound armpit pushing up against my cheek. Then, after that Wednesday, nothing. I never saw you on the bus again. I never got to smell your pleasant scent again (OxyClean? Bounce? Something from King Taco?) I instead got to smell a variety of other, less desirable scents that other passengers had coated themselves in - urine, B.O., cigar smoke, booze-breath, copious amounts of Chanel No. 5. Do you know how many people are hot messes when they get on the bus, Bus Boyfriend? On the Metrolink to Los Angeles, 15 percent of the passengers are intoxicated, and they smell like it. And they sit next to me, Bus Boyfriend, like you used to sit, only significantly closer and with more balls and less shame. Besides drunks, I have had the honor of sitting next to bitchy little teenage gay boys who lisp loudly into their cell phones. Old ladies with severe whooping cough. Girls who can be no older than 12, dressed like mini-porn stars and put their feet up on the back of the seat in front of them. Children whose faces are completely obscured by snot. Lastly, young white men who think they are big black men and attempt to speak “jive.” (“Yo, yo, yo, man - that mah SHIT!”) Bus Boyfriend, where have you gone? Please return and save me from this misery! I don’t want you sexually. Hell, I don’t even want to talk to you - you can’t even discuss the main storyline of a popular novel and you probably don’t want to know any more detail about my inner ear and motion sickness. I just want to feel that odd, exciting tension again. And I want to smell you. You were my bus lover, my ego-boosting little bowl of potpourri. Please come back. When you were around, no crackhead could touch me. Due to the ever-so-slight threat that your presence created, my boyfriend nailed me more often and more sincerely than any other time. You made transportation tolerable and you improved my love life. If you got a job deeper in LA, I forgive you. If you graduated from Cal Poly Pomona, I congratulate you. But if you bought a car and now drive yourself to school, shame on you! —PhilliP Cao


POLITICALLY INCORRECT

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Youth struggle with feelings of apathy and indifference

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I

n the United States, where 61.6 percent of the votingeligible population took part in deciding the 2008 presidential election, political strategists have always looked for ways to increase turnout. If a citizen were likely to vote for a candidate, but is unenthusiastic about it, then they are less likely to make the effort to vote. For young voters, the challenge of getting them interested and involved in politics is even greater. George Mason University’s United States Elections Project found that 61.6 percent of eligible citizens voted in 2008. Shortly after the election, the Pew Research Center said that although young voters comprised only a slightly larger share of the total voting constituency compared to 2004, 66 percent of voters aged 18-29 supported Barack Obama in that year’s election. That is an increase from 54 percent who supported fellow Democratic Senator John Kerry in 2004, ultimately helping Obama to win the White House. Although the report stated that young voters were not necessarily the most important demographic that led to his victory, they also made for enthusiastic volunteers. Jerry Allen, professor of political science, said that turnout is more important to victory than people sometimes realize. “A lot of people say, ‘Well, a lot of tea party members aren’t all that excited about [Republican presidential candidate] Mitt Romney but they still like him better than Barack Obama, so wouldn’t they just vote for them anyway?’ That’s just not always the case,” he said. Allen added that turnout is important because being excited about a candidate or proposition is the surest way to ensure it, and that it helps encourage people to spread the word. Han Li Chow, 22, biology major, said that he is not involved in political activities as much as he should be. He said that he was unenthusiastic about voting in November, but said that involvement is still important, even if he himself has been imperfect. Chow pointed to simple apathy as one of the reasons that politics may be comparatively unpopular among young adults. “A lot of people just want to go home from school or work and see what’s on ‘Jersey Shore’ while forgetting about everything else,” he said. “They don’t realize things going on like SOPA, PIPA and CISPA, the bills that are intended to limit piracy but also threaten our liberties of what we can do online. They don’t see how their votes can affect their debt, their schools, and their families.” Chow said that he does not see how politicians could affect a social issue he feels strongly about: the portrayal of characters of Asian descent in Western media. “For a long time we Asian men were goofy and unattractive, and the women would fall all over the white men,” he said. “I understand why most politicians don’t go after things like that, but it leaves me wondering how to get involved.” Another issue that holds back interest among young people is the amount of partisan politics and the overall hostile environment. A March 2011 Gallup survey found that just 18 percent of Americans approved of the job Congress was doing.

At the time, they were unable to pass a federal budget with a rapidly approaching deadline to renegotiate the national debt ceiling. “That was ridiculous,” Chow said. “There was $30 billion in spending cuts in that budget and Republicans wouldn’t approve it. I’m not saying the budget would have been perfect but isn’t that exactly what they want, reducing the deficit through cuts?” Chow added that the amount of focus on issues that are unimportant to the majority of people is a frustrating distraction. “I’m not the biggest Obama supporter and I can understand disliking him, but they should do it based on his policies,” he said. “If he’s a Muslim, it shouldn’t matter; if he was born outside America, that’s a silly technicality, anyway.” Nicholas Bueno, film and television production major, said that he is a member of the Independence Party of America, a political party founded in 2007. “I like the goals that they set,” he said. “It’d be great to reduce partisan bickering and get to the more important issues, rather than debates on nonessential social controversies set up by people further on the fringes.” Bueno added that the party may not be successful in electing a candidate, but that is not the only measure of a third party’s success. “Third parties can make an impact in other ways,” he said. “It doesn’t have to start with the high bar of winning an election.” Allen suggested that lack of interest in politics, and the inability to deal with the associated hostility, may be due to having less immediate reasons to fight and stand for one’s beliefs. He added that while it is a good thing that today’s generation in developed countries face comparatively much less hardship, they may have lost something in that exchange. “Maybe students protesting the Vietnam War in a society where those opinions may not always be popular ultimately strengthened them as adults,” he said. Allen cautioned that though the politics of today were more hostile, there would always be people pushing others with negativity. “Look no further than Joseph McCarthy, the senator who ruined countless people’s lives by perpetuating the ‘Red Scare’ and creating an environment where good people are arrested on unfounded fears of communism,” he said. He added that it takes reasonable people to fight the tension and hostility in politics, even though it sometimes seems like an insurmountable goal to get the infighting and shouting to stop. “Civil discourse is an important part of American democracy,” he said. For young people hoping to become more politically active, Allen said they should consider starting with specific causes. “There are at least a few things worth spreading,” he said. “Talk about them, and see if you like the discourse that results. You may be surprised.” —Matthew Medina


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The rise of for profit colleges and the decreasing value of degrees

DIPLOMA MILLS

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magine that it is your big graduation day and college is finally over. Walking, diploma in hand, a disease-infested pigeon flapping its wings high above has a point to make. Before you can take cover, a giant acidic green and white bird shat lands squarely on the middle of your degree—do something quick because it’s burning through the paper. This is how New York-based attorneys, Jesse Strauss and David Anziska, might describe the worth of a Juris Doctorate from New York Law School, a school that ranks 135th best and leaves the average student $146,230 in debt. The chief problem according to the attorneys is that NYLS has misrepresented the employment profiles of their graduates and “has caused prospective students to misjudge post-graduate employment prospects and commit to earning a NYLS degree which has less marketplace currency than they reasonably had expected.” Strauss and Anziska sought $225 million in a class-action suit brought in front of judge Melvin Schweitzer of the New York State Supreme Court. Strauss and Anziska are launching a nationwide campaign against 20 other law schools. But outrageous student loans and poor employment statistics are not an isolated problem for older students seeking a professional degree in the prestige obsessed law field. Younger undergrad students are at risk of entering school with great ambitions while leaving with big loans by way of the newly popularized for-profit online universities. These schools, with unknown reputations and promises have been the interest of the Department of Education (DOE). One such school is the University of Phoenix Online (UOP), which boasts a 4-percent online graduation rate and has had to pay according to the DOE. Probes by the DOE into UOP have found several improprieties including: recruiters who created an entire FAFSA application for a student, recruiters who misrepresent and claim that FAFSA and Pell Grants would cover the entire cost of their UOP education, when it does not cover all costs. The same probes led to $9.8 million dollar settlements between UOP and the U.S. Government. One caveat with for-profit schools is that they do not qualify for government research grants because they do not engage in research. Instead,

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the for-profits have to rely on federally backed student loans—UOP being one of the largest recipients. However, despite unfavorable practices against title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 which covers the administration of federal financial aid, early evidence suggests that employers do not mind that in a turbulent economy. According to Arnita Champion, a 47-year-old business developer at Mt. SAC’s Career and Transfer Services, evidence that a flexible model for education is actually conducive to some non-traditional students, especially in light of the potential CSU admission freezes. “Some employers want a degree,” Champion said. “In my experience, I have not noticed any prejudices or biases against students with online undergraduate degrees.” Champion also suggested that students will want to supplement an online degree with relevant field experience to see if their intended major is really a fit. In other words, being a Starbucks barista is not going to necessarily shed any light if your bachelors’ in communication with a concentration in marketing is really a fit for you; whereas, interning at Starbucks headquarters probably would. Whether the turbulent economy or the ardent boom of the Google-it generation, institutions of higher learning like UOP and NYLS by design, are less restrictive in their admissions process, a characteristic that could attribute to a higher than normal attrition rate. Another thing affecting online schools and new or less eminent law schools is the practical reality of experts in the field who went to brink n’ mortar institutions. Although enthusiastic about online schools, Champion warned that employers would be weary if a candidate got all of their degrees online. “Definitely don’t get your Ph.D online,” Champion said. In his closing statement dismissing the class action suit, Judge Schweitzer said, “As reasonable consumers of a legal education, would have to be wearing blinders not to be aware of these wellestablished facts of life in the world of legal employment.” The well-established facts are that after law school, the majority of graduates struggle to find meaningful legal employment. —BRIAN TRINIDAD



Substance Spring 2012 Part 2