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VOLUME X, ISSUE II

thefineprintmag.org

WINTER 2018 FREE

A New Chapter

Florida's last feminist bookstore closed in Gainesville in December. pg. 33

Puerto Rico is still recovering from Hurricane Maria. How we can help, pg. 22


from the EDITORIAL DESK

H

ello darling reader, I hope this issue finds you well, whether you’ve been a follower of ours for months (or years? If so, good for you) or if this is your first time reading. I remember the first time I opened a copy of The Fine Print. It was three years ago at the start of my freshman year. I rifled through the pages of the Summer 2014 issue on my friend’s dorm-room floor, watching as she watercolor-painted a cut-out illustration of a manatee in a party hat. I’ll admit, I didn’t read any of the articles closely. At the time, I was studying biology, so diving into local journalism wasn’t something I’d considered. However, thinking back to that moment and to how confused and uncertain my life seemed, it definitely feels like foreshadowing. But I’d like to believe I would have found The Fine Print one way or another. One year and a change of major later, I met with some editor-friends to help recruit advertisers. (I kind of hated it.) As happy as I was to help out, the role demanded me to cold call and drop by local businesses to ask for money in exchange for ad space in our issues. This task did not mix well with social anxiety. Despite my ineptitude at convincing businesses to buy ads, I managed to weasel my way in and stick around. I moved from

coming to editors meetings and helping however I could without an accurate title, to copy editing, writing, photography and now here! Where I have the privilege of writing this editor’s letter. Writing this feels cheesy and sentimental, but it’s my last semester in college so I think I can get away with it. The Fine Print is such an enriching experience for me; as editors, we like to say that we “wear many hats,” meaning we dabble in just about anything we want with regard to our printing and production. And it’s just a great feeling to know the city you live in and about what’s affecting its people. This letter feels like too much about myself, but I guess the point I’m getting at is that we can always use your help. If you’ve found us and think we’re neat and want to know how you can get in on it, please -come to a meeting, email us, message us on Facebook, whatever. If you don’t think you fit in, stick around until you carve out your own role. Maybe you’ll have the chance to write this letter, too. •

Published with support from the Gainesville communtiy.

Editor-in-Chief

Molly Minta

Photo Director + Managing Editor

Anne Marie Tamburro

Art Director

Ingrid Wu

Print Editors

Jordanne Laurito Vincent McDonald Anne Marie Tamburro Ali Sundook

Layout Director

Béla Cunningham

Creative Writing Editor

Danny Duffy

Copy Editors

Samantha Boddupalli Claudia Fell Conger

Page Designers

Taylor Franklin Béla Cunningham Molly Minta

Web Editor

Molly Minta

MISSION STATEMENT

Our mission is to serve the Gainesville community by providing an independent outlet for political, social and arts coverage through local, in-depth reporting.

CONTACT US

Email us at editors@thefineprintmag.org.

FREELANCE SUBMISSIONS Multimedia, more stories, blogs and a community calendar. PLUS! Comment on stories, see photos from the printed issue (and more!) IN COLOR, flip through a digital version of the printed edition and much, much more, all updated throughout the month.

facebook.com/thefineprintmag @thefineprintmag

02 | T H E

F I N E P R I N T | thefineprintmag.org

The Fine Print accepts freelance writing, photography and illustration. Submissions should be sent to editors@thefineprintmag.org.

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DISCLAIMER

The Fine Print reserves the right to deny or accept the publication of articles or advertisements according to the decisions of its editorial board. The views of our writers do not necessarily express those of The Fine Print.


in this ISSUE

Cover art by Brittney Evans.

COLUMNS MONTHLY MANIFESTO, p. 05

READ UP, CHOW DOWN, p. 08

HOMESTEAD, INSTEAD, p. 12

Andaz's recipe for butter chicken.

Grab your sandpaper and sewing kits: We tackle how to repair furniture.

FOR THE RECORD, p. 10

SEEING STARS, p. 14

LIVING MEMORY, p. 16

WORK IN PROGRESS, p. 19

WEATHER TOGETHER, p. 22

COMIC, p. 21

ART + LITERATURE, p. 38

New online publication The Marjorie seeks to reclaim #FloridaWoman.

OPINION, p. 06

The history of Gainesville’s segregated public library is patchily preserved.

This issue, we spoke with GUTS, Gutless & Retrolux.

Will the end of winter end your relationship?

SPOTLIGHTS A UF professor has a first-hand perspective on the civil rights movement. Gender Trouble by clouders.

OPS workers are still vying for fair compensation.

Four months after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico still needs our help.

Art by Caroline Gaspich. Prose by Claudia Fell Conger.

FEATURES STRIPPED DOWN, p. 24

Photostory on Gainesville’s burlesque scene.

26– READ UP, CHOW DOWN

MAN'S SEARCH FOR MEMEING, p. 28 A NEW CHAPTER, p. 33 There’s more to political memes than absurdity and bad Photoshop.

26– A NEW CHAPTER

Gainesville’s last feminist bookstore closed in December, but its story lives on.

FEATURED STAFFER Sabrina Siegel

Illustration by Britney Evans.

26– STRIPPED DOWN

Photo by Anne Marie Tamburro.

Photo by Hannah Phillips.

Sabrina is a psychology and advertising senior who is pursuing a career as an art director/illustrator. She would describe her style as bold yet quirky, and showcases her illustrations on Instagram as @bysabs. She views her creative talent as her biggest outlet to impact this world. When she isn’t making art, she spends her time making too many playlists, enjoying the great outdoors and re-watching any other ‘80s movie she can get her hands on. Winter 2018 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | 03


PAPERCUTS

Paper Cuts

Ouch! That hurts, doesn’t it? Paper Cuts are our short, erratic and slightly painful updates on current, local and national events. See our website for more Paper Cuts at thefineprintmag.org.

#OPERATIONPUSH ON JAN. 18, FLORIDA PRISONERS began a month-long strike—called Operation PUSH—to demand an end to unpaid labor and price gouging in canteens, and the restoration of parole. The strike is the third mass action by inmates over the course of a year in protest of inhumane conditions in Florida prisons. At 99,000, Florida’s overcrowded prison population is the third-highest in the country after Texas and California, due in part to the elimination of parole for non-capital offenses in 1984. Many of these thousands of prisoners work without pay in prisons, saving the state of Florida $38 million in 2017. “Our goal is to make the governor realize that it will cost the state of Florida millions of dollars daily to contract outside companies to come and cook, clean and handle the maintenance,” the prisoners wrote in a statement. “This will cause a total BREAK DOWN.” The overcrowding, combined with understaffing, has fostered a culture where violence is routine and sanctioned, according to a year-long investigation by the Miami Herald. Among the horrific incidents the paper uncovered was the 2012 death of Darren Rainey, who was placed for two hours in a shower so hot that it stripped the skin from his body. The Florida Department of Corrections is adamant no work-stoppage has occurred. Yet prisoner-rights groups said in a Jan. 19 memo they’re received letters from prisoners in 16 different facilities who said they either participated in a strike or were preemptively punished for trying to do so. 04 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | thefineprintmag.org

"This idea that they're being retaliated against, it's the lingo they're using to keep perpetuating that this event is happening," FDOC spokesperson Michelle Glady told the Miami New Times. "There is no retaliation happening at any of our institutions." In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Dan Berger, author of "Captive Nation: Black Prison Organizing in the Civil Rights Era," wrote that the lack of information or clarity from the FDOC is designed to keep both prisoners and the public in the dark. “It is not just people who are locked up, but information itself,” he wrote. Though Operation PUSH is intended to be a month-long strike, prisoners may strike indefinitely until they’re heard. “This is our chance to establish UNITY and SOLIDARITY,” the prisoners wrote. “This is the strategy of Operation PUSH! A voice locked up is not a voice unheard!” By Molly Minta

SNOW-WHITE LIES IF THE BOMB CYCLONE up north or the snow coating Florida’s palm trees this winter shocked Sen. James “Jim” Inhofe, R-Okla., he hasn’t shown it. Sen. Inhofe, after all, is infamous for bringing a snowball in a plastic bag to the Senate floor on an “unseasonably cold” February morning just three years ago. In the dead of winter, he held the snowball up as proof that anthropogenic climate change must be a hoax. Perhaps Sen. Inhofe is unaware scientists have asserted for years that climate change meant more than just rising overall temperatures, but also more severe and un-

predictable weather. Walt Meier, a senior research scientist specializing in climate change at NASA, explained that as the arctic rapidly heats, jet streams surrounding the arctic warp, carrying extreme heat and cold to regions that don’t typically experience them. “If you look at the jet stream, you’ll see these big dips,” Meier said. “So you get more extreme heat waves, more extreme storms, more extreme cold.” Despite an overwhelming scientific consensus, Sen. Inhofe has yet to warm up to the idea of anthropogenic climate change. That could have something to do with the hundreds of thousands of dollars he has received from his top contributors at Koch Industries, Murray Energy and other fossil fuel miners—fuels whose consumption are directly linked to anthropogenic climate change. You would think that a senator from Oklahoma, one of the country’s most natural disaster-prone states, would be more concerned about potential extreme weather. Yet Sen. Inhofe prefers to meet climate change with jest, like when he built an igloo with his family on the National Mall and adorned it with a sign reading: “AL GORE’S NEW HOME.” Still, Sen. Inhofe is a ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee—even after writing a book titled “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future.” Maybe someday, right-wing politicians like Sen. Inhofe will come to agree with 97 percent of climate scientists—but probably not until we’ve all become fossils ourselves. By Jordanne Laurito


MONTHLY MANIFESTO

BY THE MARJORIE TEAM

F

lorida is facing unprecedented environmental challenges. We see our state’s vulnerabilities in climate change, which manifest in climbing temperatures, rising sea levels, worsening storms and the spread of emergent diseases. Coupled with the pressures from unbounded population growth, increasing tourism, intensive agriculture, habitat fragmentation and myriad other factors, our state’s natural systems are in a precarious balance. Now more than ever, Florida deserves a publication that contextualizes and casts a critical eye on the environmental issues characterizing our state. This is why we started The Marjorie, an online publication that provides in-depth, thoughtful and sustained reporting on the state’s environment. Part blog, part news magazine, part commentary, part community, The Marjorie is the brainchild of three journalists and Florida natives, Hannah Brown, Becca Burton and Anna Hamilton. Here’s a little bit about what you can expect from us: • We write about people doing environmental work in Florida • We infuse our own sensibilities, opinions and experiences through editorial work • We are a resource that connects environmental workers in Florida • We curate the most important environmental topics/ issues/reporting in Florida • We consider environmental issues through specific lenses — be they historical, feminist or humor — to shine a light on new angles and perspectives.

As well, The Marjorie’s mission is to build an online space where environmental leaders in Florida can network, learn the facts of environmental issues and hear the stories of the people who are most affected. We are working to build a directory of environmental leaders, and we are committed to supporting open dialogues amongst all sides, building a community geared toward protecting Florida’s changing environments. A crucial aspect of The Marjorie is acknowledging the role women have long played in Florida’s environmental movements. Our name is a tip of the hat to three women whose work helped define contemporary environmental advocacy:

author and journalist Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings; journalist, feminist and Everglades advocate Marjory Stoneman Douglas; and conservationist and activist Marjorie Harris Carr. We use the Marjorie as jumping-off points, guides and inspirations and celebrate their commitment to wild Florida — but we also intend to explore and complicate their legacies to bring nuance to the discussion of what we mean when we say “environment,” to whom those spaces apply and how we can do better moving forward. The Marjorie was created from a three-year project called The Renaissance Woman that focused on building a community where women could empower each other. From this, we learned that women in formation indeed do make one another stronger. This is a power that we believe must be shared with people of all backgrounds, not just the white women and men who often dominate environmental contexts. Florida’s environmental story belongs to no one — it is the diversity of cultures, experiences and perspectives that make this state the zany, magical and often incomprehensible place that it is. To capture this dynamic, it is imperative that a variety of stories are heard and that voices from all backgrounds are included in the discussion. Our January issue focuses on “Unsung Heroes.” Here we tell the stories of women who sweat and fight for environmental change every day, but are seldom acknowledged for their work or dedication. We highlight the women who protect Florida’s environment by taking on the dirtiest jobs from waste management to invasive species hunters. These women aren’t afraid to wade into the muck. The Marjorie is dedicated to bringing people together in the name of protecting Florida’s lands, waters, animals and people. We invite you to join our community of environmental leaders by engaging with us and participating in the conversation. Subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on social media for updates. All of this can be found at themarjorie.org. The story of Florida’s environment is sometimes tragic, sometimes triumphant. Wherever we go from here, The Marjorie will be there, too, documenting the progress and missteps and offering insight. We hope that you will join us in this project and engage with us as we work to tell the stories of Florida’s environment from perspectives that are often overlooked. •

www.themarjorie.org Winter 2018 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | 05


In the Eye of the Public

Public libraries are viewed as a democratic achievement, but we need to examine the ways in which they fall short.

BY MOLLY MINTA ILLUSTRATION BY INGRID WU

T

he first time I saw the architecture of the Alachua County Library District Headquarters Branch was in the background of a Snapchat that I viewed one day not studying in UF’s Library West. Behind the flowery Snapchat filter were the headquarters’ not-quite-mint walls and the facade of pseudo-industrial wooden beams.

06 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | thefineprintmag.org

Self-consciously hunched over my computer, the sour aftertaste of my overly sweet latte stuck in the back of my throat, I thought to myself that it looked like a much more pleasant place than Library West to (actually) study. On a sunny day, the tall windows bring a brightness to the public library that’s also a kind of happiness. The sun lights

the pages of the book you’re reading, sharpening its words, and illuminates the portrait of Martin Luther King Jr. that overlooks the computers as people, their heads aglow, democratically access the internet. Working in the public library, you feel like you are, as John Dewey wrote of public schools in “The School and


OPINION Society” (1899), part of “an embryonic community life, active with the types of occupations that reflect the life of the larger society.” Much is written about the creation of our public education system in the 1890s, its pedagogical advancement and its political advancement about 60 years later. And much is written about Dewey, an American philosopher and psychologist who argued that a civic education should train “each child of a society into membership within such a little community, saturating him with the spirit of service.” Not much, however, is written about Dewey’s views on democratic education vis-a-vis segregation (only that he did not publicly object to it). And very little is written about the inception and the advancement of the public library and its history as a political space. It’s almost like the public library has no interesting or complicated history at all. Yet we love the public library. A study from the Pew Research Center found that millennials are the most likely generation of Americans to use the public library. Accordingly, I’ve read multiple Twitter threads that praise public libraries as one of the last places in our country where you can exist for free. And this is true. Lots of homeless people utilize the public library for that reason. But there’s a problem with this construction. The phrase “one of the last” implies a sense of historical permanency as if, like the long-standing live oak outside your house, the public library was always as it is now. As public spaces become commodified (see: our national parks), it makes sense we’d come to value, and pay attention to, those spaces that are free even more. Concurrently, we fall into the trap of perceiving these spaces in a way sociologist Rob Shield calls “ignored one minute, over-fetishized the next.” We should be wary of this trap, and consider the ways in which our perception of the public library reflects American history not as it is, but as we wish it would be. Historically, Gainesville’s public libraries weren’t the free spaces they

The public library is a free space that should be valued and protected, but we wont be able to do that unless we understand its complexities. are today. The city’s first public library opened in 1903 with books donated by women from a literary society called the Twentieth Century Club; it was pay-toplay at $5 ($133 today). A second library opened a few years later in the office of a sewing machine company; it charged $2 a year. A 1991 pamphlet on local library history made sure to note, in opinionated historiography, that “perhaps competition was already bringing the price down.” After the two libraries decided cooperation was a better option and consolidated their resources, they approached the city about obtaining a grant from the Carnegie Corporation to build a free public library. Here, the history of Gainesville’s public library intersects with a key era in American history, the Gilded Age, a time of rapid industrialization between 1870 and 1900 that created some of the wealthiest men ever. Andrew Carnegie, one such wealthy man, made his money off steel. A Scottish immigrant, his was the classic rags-to-riches story. In 1889, after he was sufficiently wealthy, Carnegie began to fund the creation of public libraries to educate immigrants like himself. Like us, Carnegie loved the public library. After his death, the Carnegie Foundation would fund much of Dewey’s writings on the democratizing value of education. Ultimately, Gainesville secured funding the Carnegie funding, and the city’s first public library was built. Its location would move around until 1991 when the headquarters reopened in its original downtown spot. The 1991 pamphlet is detailed: It lists exactly how many people voted in a referendum on a property tax for the library. Yet it gives only two lines to the segregated public library, Carver Branch,

simply to say that it opened in 1953 and closed in 1969 as Gainesville’s schools were being desegregated. “There was no announcement: the branch was simply ‘closed temporarily for repairs’ and not reopened when there was no public outcry about blacks using the main library. For the first time, the library served all citizens equally,” it reads. Buried underneath a historical narrative of bootstrapping immigrants and scrappy women is one line that admits the story isn’t as idyllic as we might believe. We’ve thought critically of the public school. We understand it was not always inclusive. And from every new story about book-banning, we know that the public library is a target of those who seek to revise history through censorship. So why haven’t we reconsidered our attitude toward the public library? Like with our parents, we need to grow up to accept that these spaces are neither wholly good nor bad. In 1967, French sociologist Henri Lefebvre wrote that “space is nothing but the inscription of time in the world, spaces are the realisations, inscriptions in the simultaneity of the external world of a series of times.” In other words, space is the past physically interacting with the present. The public library today, as a space that is both valorized for its freedom and targeted for the refuge that freedom provides to homeless people, is an unexamined culmination of how our narratives, built up over years of history, interact with society today. The public library is also, quite literally, a space for the inscription of time in the world, that is, books. It is a free space that should be valued and protected, but we won’t be able to do that unless we understand its complexities. • Winter 2018 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | 07


COLUMN

READ UP

CHOW DOWN

08 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | thefineprintmag.org

BY BRIANNA MOYE PHOTO BY ANNE MARIE TAMBURRO ILLUSTRATION BY CAROLINE JINKS

G

ainesville is plentiful in places to find Indian food, but perhaps the most stylish, with its bold, funky sign visible from the intersection of Main Street and University, is Andaz—literally. Andaz is the Hindi word for “style.” Step inside the restaurant, and it’s evident why owner Parvesh Khirbat chose this name. Modern light fixtures make the sleek full bar and darkwood tables gleam in contrast to the spongepainted walls. Pieces of Mughal art, hand-selected by Khirbat, hang from the walls, depicting detailed renderings of peacocks and elephants. Come between 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for lunch buffet, and you’ll find large copper pots full of a variety of Indian dishes lining the buffet table. It’s a popular time of day for the restaurant—the buffet can serve around 100 customers a day— partly because Andaz is friendly for diners of many diets, offering vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. Chef Mehfooj Khan is attached to the name Andaz for another reason: because the restaurant “covers everything from A to Z.” Andaz’s dinner menu offers over 60 items including customer favorites such as chicken tikka masala, roasted chicken in a mild tomato sauce, the creation of which is actually traced back to England. For a similar dish with an origin in India, you can try the Mughlai butter chicken. Both dishes are cooked in a tandoor, a type of clay oven. Andaz also serves yummy delights such as flaky samosas, flavorful spiced curries, and grilled lamb chops marinated in yogurt and ginger. If you don’t eat meat, try the Paneer Vindaloo, potatoes and homemade cheese in a spicy tomato sauce, or the Baingan, spiced eggplant served with a sesame sauce. For those with a sweet tooth, Khirbat recommends the gulab jamun, balls of dough that are fried and then soaked in rose water. Tearing into a fresh, warm piece of garlic naan and then dipping it into a crisp, refreshing onion chutney is the perfect way to start off your meal at Andaz. From there, spoonful after spoonful of whatever entrée you choose, from potato- to goat-based dishes, will leave you feeling warm and happy—not to mention full. No food coloring or artificial flavors go into the food, and each order of naan is made to order and baked fresh in the tandoor. “Everything that we do is pretty much 90 percent made from scratch,” Khirbat said. Restaurant manager Omid Ahmadi said Andaz


READ UP, CHOW DOWN

ANDAZ INDIAN RESTAURANT 12 W University Ave. Gainesville, FL 32601 prides itself on being an innovative restaurant that stays true to the roots of its Indian cuisine. “Every year we’re adding something to our menu or every year we’re trying something new with our decorations,” Ahmadi said. “But some of the dishes (the customers) love, and they don’t want to lose them.” Khirbat, along with Khan, opened Andaz four years ago after they became friends at an Indian restaurant in Ocala where Khan worked. Khirbat was a regular customer of Khan’s, and appreciated his culinary skills so much he proposed they open a restaurant together. But the two knew Ocala was not where they wanted to pursue their dreams. “We alway wanted to be in a place where it’s vibrant,” Khirbat said. Khan, a five star chef from North India, was “born into” the world of cooking. Growing up in a family of chefs as a child in New Delhi, he was already learning and developing a love for the art of cuisine. He graduated from culinary school at 21 and worked in some of India’s five star hotels before deciding he wanted to “make wonders in food” in America. Admadi said it’s Khan’s talent, combined with the care that goes into his dishes, that sets Andaz apart. “He always adds a flavor of love to his food,” Ahmadi said. “Anyone from any culture or any country can try it and have a good experience.” Ultimately, there’s one factor to Andaz’s style that comes from outside the restaurant itself. “Lovely people in Gainesville,” Ahmadi insisted with a smile. •

BUTTER CHICKEN CHICKEN & MARINADE

Ingredients: • 1 kg chicken pieces • ginger and garlic paste • 1 ½ tbsp salt • ½ cup vinegar • 1 cup plain yoghurt • 1 tbsp chilli powder • ¼ cup oil

SAUCE

Ingredients: • 1 ½ kg tomatoes • 1 whole cinnamon stick • 4 tbsp whole dhania seed • 500 ml cream • 8-10 whole green elachi (ground) • 1 tbsp red chilli powder • 250g butter • 10 cloves garlic • 1 tsp katshru methi

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Wash and drain chicken until all water has been removed. Marinate the chicken with the above ingredients for approximately 2-4 hours. 2. Grill the chicken, ensuring both sides are evenly done. In the meantime, set the grilled chicken aside and prepare the sauce. 3. In a thick-based pot, add in washed whole tomatoes, 1 cup water, cinnamon, dhania, garlic, chilli powder, elachi, butter and salt to taste. Cook until tomatoes are soft and mushy. 4. Remove tomatoes from heat, cool, then liquidise the tomatoes until smooth. Once liquidised, using a cake flour sifter, strain the tomatoes to remove seeds. A pulp-like texture will remain in the sifter. Throw away the pulp left over in the sifter. 5. Take your smooth tomato base and pour it into a pot. Cook for about 30 to 45 minutes on medium low heat, allowing sauce to thicken until butter comes visible on the top. Once cooked, add your grilled chicken to the pot. 6. Cook for 5 minutes on high, add cream and cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes. 7. Garnish with chopped dhania. Serve with roti or basmati rice. Serves 4 to 6.

IN SEASON AND FRESH

Grapefruit • Kale • Pineapple • Onions • Beets • Leeks • Lemon • Oranges • Bananas • Avocados • Celery Winter 2018 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | 09


w

FOR THE RECORD Showcasing local bands , the next big thing and all your friends

Photo by Peyton Whittington

GUTS/HERE

INDIE FOLK SOUL ROCK

RELEASED Oct. 3, 2017 RECORDED IN Goldentone Studio SOUNDS LIKE Nothing You’ve Ever Heard KEY TRACKS “Shadow,” “Build It” WHERE TO GET IT Bandcamp UPCOMING SHOWS Changeville Feb. 8 INSTRUMENTS Samantha Jones (vocals), Kentucky Costellow (drums), Kara Smith (bass)

FOR THIS

GUTS can be dirty. GUTS can be dark. But most of all, GUTS can be a good time. GUTS, a three piece, all-women band comprised of vocalist Samantha Jones, drummer Kentucky Costellow and bassist Kara Smith, released their sophomore effort “Here For This” last October. The album has its own sound-one of beautiful harmonies, driving rhythms and touching lyrics. “Here For This” consists of five songs, each one a product of a new combination and permutation of Jones’ siren-esque voice, Smith’s punching bass lines and Costellow’s resounding beats. The band’s syncing beats and blend of alternative rock and indie-pop have led them to be compared to other genderbending bands, like Spoon and Death Cab for Cutie. But GUTS has a sound wholly

10 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | thefineprintmag.org

their own, a product of their rag-tag beginnings. “It doesn't sound like anything [else], because it's coming from everywhere.” Jones said. The band formed in 2013 in Gainesville’s first band roulette, a “Whose Line is it Anyway?” but for musicians that involves randomly putting musicians together to create a band. Initially, the group was four people strong, but three of the members, including Jones and Smith, were drummers. To vary the band’s sound, Kara Smith took up bass. 12 months and one premonition later, Costellow joined GUTS, completing the band with her energetic rhythms. “I had this dream that their original drummer was moving away, and the next morning [she] announced on Facebook, ‘Hey, I think I’m moving to California,’” Costellow said. At her New Years Eve party, Costellow cornered Jones and Smith. “I was like, you know, I play drums,” she said, coyly. It was a lie—Costellow did not know how to play the drums. But she tried out anyway. In a couple weeks, she taught herself by watching live recordings of the band. Costellow fit into GUTS so well, they didn’t look for another drummer. And so GUTS was born. “Out of all of that came this sound,” Jones said. “Here For This” has a stronger political focus than their first album “Lucky All Over”. Jones said this shift is evident in “Shadow.” The song is about being let down by men and, consequently, becoming suspicious. “The shadow, your gaslight, cast on the floor, and you’ll never have the option to darken my door,” Jones sings, her voice haunting. “You gave me one too many, one too many, one too many things to ignore.” Underscored by a snappy bass, the song becomes soulful. It evokes that knowing feeling one gets from seeing someone you don’t quite want to see at a party before they see you. “That song definitely delves more into patriarchal themes,” she said. “It's kind of heralding a new direction that we're moving in, where maybe we’ll be speaking more about issues socially.” GUTS is everything you could want in a pop band, lyrically sweet folk-punk anthems all wrapped up in a danceable rhythms. “It’s a collaboration of women who are all coming from wildly different places, and honestly I don't know how it works,” Jones said. Evident from their latest album, “Here For This”, it does work. • By Sydney Schultheis


FOR THE RECORD

GUTLESS/SOME

SCREAMY PUNK ANTHEMS RELEASED March 16, 2017 RECORDED IN Goldentone Studios SOUNDS LIKE Jeff Rosenstock INSPIRATION The Ramones, Against Me! KEY TRACKS “The Breaker”, “Growing Apart” WHERE TO GET IT Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music UPCOMING SHOWS taking a break write material

to

INSTRUMENTS V. Viana (lead vocals, guitar), Andrew Martin (bass) Tim McGowan (drums), Max White (guitar) ,Valerie Melina (keys)

VOIDS...

When singer-songwriter Viviane (V.) Viana started playing gigs in Gainesville, “Gutless” was the name of her solo act. Until members Valerie Melina, Max White, Tim McGowan and Andrew Martin came along, the project was, well, gutless. Gutless is a self-described “happy sad punk band” that specializes in slow-burning, angsty punk battle cries married with ear-splitting guitar melodies, dulcet piano harmonies and powerful drum beats. Gutless is a quintet by definition, but dabble in the cross-germination vibrant music scenes are known for. They often record and perform with Insignificant Other’s Simona Morales and other members of different local bands. This is how guitarist Maxim White joined. He was introduced to Gutless when they played with his hardcore band, Waste, at a show in Orlando in Feb. 2015. “I fell in love with Gutless that day, and I kind of weaseled my way in,” White said. But Viana doesn’t see it that way. She sees her bandmates as the project’s “saving grace.” Withou

RETROLUX /OPTICS

INDIE ELECTRONIC

RELEASED November 2017 RECORDED IN Shaye’s home studio SOUNDS LIKE Odesza, Bonobo INSPIRATION Flume, Sylvan Esso, Mura Masa KEY TRACKS Peachy, 21 WHERE TO GET IT SoundCloud, Spotify UPCOMING SHOWS Destination Okeechobee Feb. 15th INSTRUMENTS Anna James (Vocals) Mäynard Shaye (Production)

Electronic music. It’s abstract, not made with real instruments and can get a little weird when performed live. However, Retrolux, an indie electronic duo, thoughtfully translates the esoteric genre into something that feels real and tangible. Even though their music is made on a computer, Anna and Shaye bring a sense of humanity to their shows. They perform live and nothing is prerecorded; it’s intended to be genuine. At Retrolux’s very first show, Shaye even accidentally pressed the wrong button and stopped a song mid-way through. But that’s the point Retrolux intends to make with their music. They strive to engage their audience on a more honest level. Anna and Shaye met on Craigslist, and since then have curated a bouncy aesthetic and celestial sound in what is otherwise a mostly indie and punk dominated scene. With relatable, saccharine lyrics layered over dreamy production that still gets you to groove, Retrolux creates songs that are complex, yet cohesive. They juxtapose beats that are synthetic

them, she couldn’t have produced their most recent release, Some Voids…. This is the band’s sophomore EP, which dropped at 3:16 p.m. on March 16, 2017. (Get it?) Some Voids… is vastly more ambitious than their aptly-named debut EP recorded with local band Consent, Split with Consent. Each of the five tracks are expertly placed, the music’s cohesive layers (especially those from Melina on keys) provide a stark contrast to Viana’s passionate, shaky vocals. The lyrics tell a story that makes listeners want to raise a glass and yell out their feelings. For the band members, this is what punk is all about. “Punk blurs the dichotomy between artist and audience and everyone feels like an integral part of the experience,” Viana said. “You need that space where you can just yell and be vulnerable. Ever since I started playing music, shows have been that space for me.” • By Peyton Whittington

and digital with softer sounds that are more organic and raw. “I call it Building Shit Mountain —” Shaye said, “— then you carve away, and see what looks nice.” Shaye is referring to the process of creating Retrolux’s new EP - and actually, it’s called Optics. The EP is saturated with themes of youth and romance and reminds us all to appreciate the moments we experience and soak them all in. In the upbeat and rich “Peachy,” Anna sings “I don’t know about you, but I’m down to stay awhile…you say my name so sweetly.” Optics started as a “shit mountain,” but depicts the feeling of a sweeter and fresher landscape, sending listeners through the freedom of lush, rolling fields. “We’re heading in an alt-pop direction,” Shaye said. “It’s just so fun when the whole audience is dancing, it’s a really cool feeling.” • By Anika Huda

Winter 2018 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | 11


Mend Your Ways BY MARIA SOBRINO ILLUSTRATIONS BY SABRINA SIEGEL LOCATED IN NORTHEAST Gainesville, The Repurpose Project is an oasis of stuff, or as founder Sarah Goff says, a “one-stop shop and drop.” Used furniture, ranging from wooden cabinets to brightly hued vinyl chairs, are scattered across the grassy courtyard. Inside, rolls of fabric are packed in rows next to sewing kits, string and lots of used picture frames. Sarah Goff started the Repurpose Project in 2011 to provide the community with an outlet for the subtle gems traditional second-hand stores won’t typically accept. In the process, Goff said she aims to save local landfills from more trash and to keep income flowing within the community, instead of to national corporations. Everyday life can be wasteful. According to a 2015 Environmental Protection Agency report, 21 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from burning fossil fuels for the production of new goods from raw materials. Compared to the 12 percent of emissions that comes from the commercial and residential sectors, this shows that the creation of our stuff results in more emissions than the energy in our own homes. “You pay for someone to gather the material, to assemble it, ship it, display it, bring it home only for you to throw it away in a year,” Goff said. Not only is breathing new life into old furniture a humbling experience, it’s also better for the environment. But if you’re not naturally crafty, repurposing furniture can be a daunting task to undertake. In the future, Goff hopes to host workshops at the Repurpose Project to teach people how to work with old furniture. “People have a bad idea about what used is,” said Goff. “They think, ‘Oh, it’s dirty, it’s gross, someone touched this, it’s lived within.’ There’s tons of stuff that just needs a little dusting.” • 12 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | thefineprintmag.org

How To

Sand & Repaint Wooden Furniture Materials • 150 grit sandpaper (80 grit if furniture is varnished) • Goggles, apron, gloves • Two tack cloths • 220 grit sanding block (80 grit if furniture is varnished)

• Satin or semigloss paint with a latex or oil base • Primer (must be oil-based for oil-based paint) • 3 foam rollers • Clear finish

Instructions 1. Get your safety gear on! 2. Sand all surfaces to remove blemishes. Be careful not to gouge the

wood; you need the primer needs to stick to something. You know you’re done sanding when you can run a sock over the wood without it dragging.

3. 4.

Next, wipe the furniture with a tack cloth to remove shavings.

Use a foam roller to completely coat the wood in a layer of primer. If a stain bleeds through the primer, it will bleed through the paint, so make sure to cover it well.

5.

Once the primer is dry, use the sanding block to sand away any drips. Then, wipe the remaining material with the tack cloth.

6.

Use a mini foam roller to apply a coat of paint. Wait six to eight hours for it to dry.

7.

Sand the surfaces again, then wipe them down with the tack cloth. Apply two more coats of paint.

8.

Using a new foam roller, slowly apply a thin layer of finish while smoothing out any bubbles. Paint from the top down so you can smooth out any drips as you go.

9. Wait 72 hours for the finish to dry completely.


How

HOMESTEAD, INSTEAD

to

Check for Bedbugs Bed bugs usually are about the size of an apple seed, but their look depends on whether they’ve eaten recently. Unfed bugs are brown, oval-shaped and flat-bodied. Fed bugs have red-brown, elongated bodies that look more like balloons. They also give off a musty-sweetish smell. Finding traces of bites may be hard because they may be easily confused with other insect bites or rashes. Instead look for crushed bugs in the form of rusty-brown stains on mattresses or dark spots — their poop. Eggs are pearly white and may have a dark “eye” if they’re more than five days old. Bed bugs can fit anywhere that’s bigger than the width of your credit card. Check cracks in bed frames, bed springs, the seams of fabric furniture, mattress tags, curtain folds and drawer joints.

Troubleshooting

What's wrong with my lamp?

How

1.

Reupholster a Couch

To test any lamp, first plug it in. If the lamp doesn’t light up, there’s a few things that may be at fault.

2.

Remember to always be safe when playing with electricity, so turn off the lap before trying to touch any wires or the bulb. Plug another item into the socket to test if it’s the wall socket that’s at fault.

3. Once this is eliminated, it is time to search your lamp for faults.

First, look for any visible problems. Did a pet chew up the cord? Does the switch sound a little duller than usual? If you find that it’s the switch at fault, bingo. You’ll need to change the switch.

4. If the switch is part of the cord, you should look for the small

screw holding it together. Once you’ve undone the screw, check if all the wires are connected, tight enough, and in good shape. If not, you’ll have to replace the switch wires.

5.

If the switch is not part of the cord, you will have to unscrew the socket to check the internal wiring.

6.

If none of these are the culprit, check the bulb. Make sure the bulb is screwed on tightly enough.

7. If you still can’t find the

error, it may just be the bulb that needs replacing.

8. If still nothing comes to light, unplug

to

Materials • • • •

Tape measure Fabric Scissors Pencil

• Staple gun • Needle thread

+

Instructions 1. 2.

Measure the length, width and height of the cushions and the couch. Multiply the measurements together to determine how much fabric you need.Consider adding extra in case you make a mistake. Carefully cut the old fabric at its seams, removing it a section at a time. Lay out your new fabric. Use the old fabric scraps as outlines for the new fabric, cutting along them one section at a time. Allow for one inch seams. Staple the new fabric to the couch frame.

3.

4.

the lamp and try bending the metal tab within the socket. Look specifically for a tab too far down to make contact with electricity.

Winter 2018 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | 13


COLUMN

SEEING STARS

BY THE EDITORS, ILLUSTRATIONS BY JOHNNY QUACH

A

s the signs enter the final winter months, they may feel optimism’s temptations. The sky is bluer, the trees just a bit greener; squirrels and birds chase each other once again. And everywhere, it seems, there are couples holding hands or canoodling in the warm sun on the grass. But the signs would do good to resist that temptation. Relationships that froze over the holidays are liable to thaw and, like winter, end. If January is the break up month, February is your month to recover. March, your month to bounce back. What does the end of winter have in store for you? •

ARIES

TAURUS

GEMINI

You might be wrong and your partner might know it too, but is it more trouble than it's worth to admit it? Don’t let your stubbornness get in the way of moving forward. Winning an argument isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be -- save it for reenactments in the shower.

You have strong opinions, especially about art. And you’re not afraid to make these opinions heard, especially over text. Yet when it comes to your family, you falter. Soon, you’ll find yourself in a familial dispute over household decor. Maintain your decorum, but stick to your guns. You are right, the picture is ugly.

Your partner is your mirror image, and you’re certain it’s not projection. But beware of alienation: One day, the light may strike them differently, and reality will be illuminated. You’ll never be the couple you’ve fantasized about. Learn to live with it.

CANCER

LEO

VIRGO

YYou go with your partner to the store because you fear they’ll forget who you are in the ten minutes they’re gone and that, when they get back home, they’ll be like “Who the hell is this freak?” and make you leave. The solution is you should always go grocery shopping together.

Your friends remember what you were yelling about the other night at the party. It’s not the liquor’s problem, it’s yours, so be prepared to own it when you’re confronted. Next time, take the time to consider your jokes carefully. In the meantime, all you can do is overanalyze them while you’re trying to fall asleep.

Emotions don’t always make sense. It’s okay to feel, even if it’s just feeling for feeling’s sake. Don’t be afraid to confront the memories of them that you’ve been pushing away. Drive around aimlessly and cry to the songs you listened to together.

14 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | thefineprintmag.org


HOROSCOPE

LIBRA

SCORPIO

SAGITTARIUS

You’ve got your eyes on someone behind a screen or between the pages of some saucy visual novel, ignoring what’s right in front of you. Maybe don’t do that -- reality could pleasantly surprise you.

After years curled up in your shell, you’ve gotten used to the echo of your carefully constructed life. There’s no need to break out in the next few months -- after all, it’s warm in there -- but consider letting someone new in. It’s okay to hear a changing tune.

Take some deep breaths and put the phone down. They’ll get back to you when they’re ready. In the meantime, go look in a mirror and remind yourself how awesome you are -- you don’t do that enough.

CAPRICORN

AQUARIUS

PISCES

You’re not that hard to get along with, but you might change your mind about people at any moment, and they have to be prepared for that. Your past will give them the clues but they’ll have to figure it out by trial and error, and if they fail you’ll never want to sleep with them again. Good luck!

There’s no need to cry about them, but if you want to, go ahead and cry it all out. Cry yourself a river, or an ocean. Drown them in your tears.

You made Aquarius cry, didn’t you? Good thing you have gills. If you really want people to stick around, though, you need to learn to dive a little deeper.

Winter 2018 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | 15


SPOTLIGHT

Living Memory Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons teaches about the civil rights movement with a first-hand perspective: In the 1960s, she registered voters and organized demonstrations in Mississippi as part of Freedom Summer.

BY ELLIOTT NASBY PHOTO BY MARCELO RONDON

G

wendolyn Zoharah Simmons’ office is tucked away in a corner on the first floor of Anderson Hall. Instead of walls, Simmons’s office is fortified with bookcases full of the literature of the civil rights movement; situated among the books is the red spine of Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States.” Simmons was part of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, or SNCC (pronounced “snick”), a student-led civil rights group that organized some of the first sit-ins in Greensboro, N.C., and the Freedom Rides in Mississippi in the 1960s. Today, Simmons — or Zoharah as she is called by peers and friends — is a professor of religion and African American Studies at UF, in the unique position of having participated in the movements she teaches about. A Google search of Simmons’s name yields dozens of archived interviews. People from all over the country have wanted to hear her story. Yet it seems the enthusiasm with which she recalls her past has not diminished, but strengthened. She’s working on a book about her experience in the civil rights movement. Even on days she doesn’t teach class, she goes into her office on campus to write. “Just have a seat, please,” she said. She shuffled the papers stacked high on her desk, and began to dutifully recount her start in the civil rights movement. 16 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | thefineprintmag.org

Memphis, Tenn., 1961. The Jim Crow South. Simmons was sixteen and out looking for a summer job in the commercial district on the white side of town. Simmons later wrote in Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts By Women in SNCC (2010) that the air was so “thick and humid you could have cut it with a knife.” Simmons had cut out job listings from the town’s newspaper for offices and department stores, which she said were mainly directed toward Memphis’ white residents. But having taken a commercial course in high school, she thought she’d be qualified for work on the “nice” side of town. As she peered through the gleaming store fronts, she pictured herself getting one of these nice jobs. Simmons was face to face with her town’s racism for the first time, and she began to feel like there was a target on her back. “When I was a high school student, I had been protected in my community and in my home,” she said. “I never had to go out and face the White Southerner, where I wanted something from them.” Simmons was turned away at three locations. They wouldn’t even let her begin to say why she might be qualified, she said. As soon as they saw her enter, their minds were made up. This kind of work wasn’t for black people, they told her. What what she thinking, coming


SPOTLIGHT over here in the first place? As reality sunk in, rain came pouring down, soaking her as she angrily boarded the 31 Crosstown bus home. There was just a handful of black passengers seated at the back, where they were supposed to be, not looking for trouble, just an unbothered ride home. But Simmons, seething, confused, let down and dripping wet, decided for the first time in her life to sit in the front. She knew what it meant to sit in the front like that. Yet it remains unexplained why the driver never made her pay for it. He had every right to have her arrested, but for some reason beyond her, he didn’t. She made it home safe, that day forever lodged in her memory. “It was the first time that I became really aware at a deep level what it meant to be black,” said Simmons. “That was a chain broken on my mind.” A year later, Simmons began her first year of university at Spelman College, a black women’s college in Atlanta, as the civil rights movement was well underway. In Aug. 1962, Fannie Lou Hamer attempted to register to vote in Indianola, Mich., and was fired. In October, James Meredith enrolled in the University of Mississippi. Simmons was the first in her family to attend college. They had high hopes for her academic success, and they urged her to stick to school and to church. They didn’t want her joining a movement that was potentially life-threatening. “My grandmother even made me swear that I wasn't going to get involved, ‘cause she was worried about it,” Simmons said. “I swore I had no intention; I was so thrilled to be in college.” Devout Baptists, Simmons’ family insisted she join a local church as soon as she could her freshman year. In retrospect, this backfired. That church, mere steps from Spelman, the West Hunter Street Baptist Church, where Simmons saw Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speak for the first time. In a way, church became a cover for her burgeoning role as student activist, Simmons said. “I heard King teach our congregations about the duty of

“There were all these young people my age, who were putting everything on the line, and felt that I too had to do my part.” the citizen, most particularly the black citizen, to demand justice and fairness from her country …, to stand up and be counted as the children of God who were deserving of all the rights due to us as humans,” she wrote in a 2008 journal article titled “Martin Luther King Jr. Revisited.” The administration at Spelman actively urged its scholastic young ladies to stay on campus and away from the movement. Yet Spelman, in the buzzing heart of Atlanta, was fertile ground for SNCC recruiters. Simmons said they’d shout in the middle of campus that students were shielded

by their lifeless books, reading history while SNCC lived it. Despite the Spelman administration, civil rights filtered into the classroom, too. Two white, radical historians taught at Spelman: Dr. Staughton Lynd and Howard Zinn. Simmons looked up to them. They introduced her to literatures and radical thought she was not exposed to as a child, certainly not from her family. Both Lynd and Zinn worked for SNCC, and they encouraged her to join. “When I joined the movement, clearly, it was like ‘I got to be a part of this,’ in spite of my grandmother, my mother, my father, the school,” she said. “There [were] all these young people my age, who were putting everything on the line, and felt that I too had to do my part.” SNCC was a part of a broader cultural shift that emerged among the nation’s fervent youth. There was no leader and no centrality; none of the suits and planned appearances of a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “A lot of us younger people, the rowdy students, we were very different from King and his group,” Simmons said. Dr. King and the SCLC were deeply Christian. They preached about nonviolence and nobly loving the enemy from a place of compassion, love and peace. “Whereas in SNCC, you know, we might just get real quiet when they would start that,” Simmons said. By the second semester of freshman year, Simmons was attending SNCC’s meetings. By year two, she was participating in demonstrations and campaigning. She was arrested for her activism for the first time after a demonstration in a restaurant owned by Lester Maddox, who was notorious for only serving whites. Simmons spent the night in the county jail. “This too,” she later wrote, “was a first in my family.” Simmons said she would have died of fright if she’d been in jail alone. But luckily she was with fellow SNCC members, and they sang songs to keep their spirits high until their release the following morning. By the summer of 1964, Simmons’ involvement had escalated along with the movement. She found herself in racism’s pith in Laurel, Mississippi as a project director for SNCC’s 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer Project. The lead position opened up by chance, after Laurel law enforcement immobilized the original leader Lester McKinney for an old warrant. Mississippi Freedom Summer had three goals: register voters, establish the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and run the Freedom Schools, SNCC’s effort to educate K-12 children in basic school subjects like math and english. But the curriculum also meant giving people a practical education in government and the truth of African American history. The schools were meant to be an alternative locus of information, counter to what many African Americans had heard growing up in an oppressive sharecropping system. Broadly speaking, Simmons and SNCC were attempting to rewire the South’s motherboards, because decades of deprivation had led people toward what is called “internalized racism.” “It’s such a deep psychological thing, for a group of people to free themselves,” she said. “Living in a white supremacist society, we didn’t love ourselves. We had sort of been taught to hate ourselves.” In a way, the project forced her to become an adult. At age 19, Simmons not only marched as part of the movement, Winter 2018 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | 17


SPOTLIGHT led an integral part of it as a project director. She had to learn to command large groups of people, to speak with conviction, fire them up and keep them determined after yet another setback. And it was dangerous. The Ku Klux Klan firebombed several of SNCC’s office buildings and one of its Freedom School libraries. Simmons herself was held at gunpoint by a Laurel sheriff as she led a line of demonstrators to a sit-in. After the 6-weeks, most volunteers left Mississippi and returned home. But Simmons stayed, continuing to work in the state for a total of 18-months. She didn’t leave until her executive secretary, seeing that Simmons was exhausting herself, ordered her to. Simmons continued to work with SNCC for several years after, travelling as a spokeswoman with the Freedom Singers, a musical group formed to fundraise around the country. Simmons at a Dream Defenders rally in Gainesville. Photo courtesty of Simmons. At the end of the decade, as SNCC began to dissolve, Simmons contemplated going back to school to finish her her students the way her teachers at Spelman did for her. In degree. But Spelman had distanced itself from many of the radical the classroom and, even still, on the streets of Gainesville she students and faculty that had gotten swept up in the movement. remains to protest, speak out and prompt others to also. “I’ve never seen her grab the mic from anyone. She’s the person School would have to wait. Simmons would not complete her that wants you to be in front, telling your story,” Ortiz said. “They bachelor’s degree until 1988, from Antioch University. She continued her work in activism, travelling across the have this incredibly democratic ideology. It’s a whole culture of globe to war-torn countries of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and organizing.” Thailand to provide humanitarian relief with the American By listening, Simmons said, you become friends with people Friends Service Committee, a Quaker peace and justice who appear to be different from yourself. “You find out they really organization. In 1996, Simmons returned to academia to aren’t--they’re not different from you when it comes to the insides.” complete a dissertation on Islamic law and its impact on “People want the same thing,”she said. “They want to be treated women’s lives, the subject she teaches today. with respect, they want dignity, they want to be able to live where Paul Ortiz, director of UF’s Samuel Proctor Oral History, they’re somewhat comfortable, with food and clothing and shelter.” has worked extensively with Simmons after she started teaching Kathie Sarachild, a former SNCC activist and friend of religion at UF. He said that for Simmons, and other SNCC Simmons, in Mississippi that same summer. She said she knows activists of the movement, their drive came from a place that how frightening it was to go in to Laurel the way Simmons did not only wanted change but wanted to elevate those around and the audacity it took. She can still see that audacity in Simmons them by letting them tell their stories. “If you want to talk to someone about the meaning of today. “I think when people decide that they’re not going to be freedom,” he said “you know what does freedom mean? You afraid, their minds expand and a light goes on that’s visible to talk to someone who has been a slave.” As a professor, Simmons works to develop the minds of everybody,” Sarachild said. “And it probably never goes out.” •

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www.soundworker.net 18 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | thefineprintmag.org


SPOTLIGHT

K R O W in PROGRESS After they weren’t paid for time missed due to Hurricane Irma, OPS employees and the ACLC created a fully fledged campaign to pressure UF for better working conditions. BY DEEVA GUPTA ILLUSTRATION BY JOHNNY QUACH

A

fter Christa Ochoa graduated college in 2013, she got a job entering data in UF’s Department of Pathology as an Other Personnel Services (OPS) employee, a type of hourly, at-will employee at public institutions across the state. But Ochoa’s wages were low. There was a possibility she could be promoted to a Technical, Executive, Administrative and Managerial Support (TEAMS) position, which came with benefits, but after six months and no promotion, Ochoa left her job. Ochoa’s story is common, but it’s not among the worst. After Hurricane Irma, some OPS employees went into credit card debt or nearly lost their apartments because they couldn’t pay rent, according to a Jan. 28 report released by the Alachua County Labor Coalition, a group of individuals, unions and worker-friendly organizations. “Over a weeks worth of wages and zero compensation led me to lose my residence and become homeless,” one anonymous employee told the coalition in the report. Soon it became clear that these post-hurricane grievances were signs of larger exploitation. The report is based on anonymous survey responses from

at public institutions across the state, not just at UF. OPS employees are not eligible for paid leave because Fla. Statue 110.31 stipulates that, “unless specifically provided by law, otherpersonal-services employees are not eligible for any form of paid leave.” “I've never seen it before, but there is a state statute that mandates second-class employment,” said Jeremiah Tattersall, lead organizer for the ACLC. “This is ridiculous. There is a state law that an entire class of employees are, by statute, not allowed to have benefits.” OPS workers are commonly thought to be temporary positions, typically held by college students. The Florida Department of Management Services describes OPS employment as a type of “employee/ employer relationship used solely for accomplishing short-term or intermittent tasks.” Ochoa said this perception isn’t accurate. “People work for years as OPS,” she said. “I feel they're treated as regular full-time employees, but aren't given the benefits.” The ACLC’s report backs her up: 51 percent of OPS employees aren’t students. Their research shows the median

“The only way we see OPS employees getting power is if we elect a worker-friendly governor and board.” 525 employees and is part of an employee-led campaign by the ACLC to improve OPS working conditions at UF. As part of this campaign, the ACLC is looking to re-categorize all longterm OPS workers as TEAMS employees, a UF classification that receives benefits and paid leave. OPS employment is provided for in Florida law and work

non-student, hourly OPS worker at UF is a 29- year- old who has occupied their position for 4 years. UF is not the only state institution to use OPS workers. After Hurricane Irma, the Alachua County School Board initially did not compensate its OPS employees. It was only after an internal discussion did the superintendent agree to do Winter 2018 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | 19


SPOTLIGHT so, said Jason Fults, co-chair of the ACLC. Santa Fe College approved administrative leave for all their employees, including temporary ones. “The University of Florida is the flagship university for the state and a multi-billion dollar economic driver for the state, and it pinches pennies on essential employees,” said Drew Wilson, an OPS employee in web development. UF has its own personnel employee classification called TEAMS. Established in 2003, most TEAMS employees receive benefits, paid vacation, sick leave and job security through yearly or six-month contracts, according to a UF Office of Human Resources memo. The only difference between TEAMS and OPS is if you operate under the university’s policies or the state’s. Employees at UF often jump between the two classifications. Wilson was initially a TEAMS employee before he was given an ultimatum: remain as a TEAMS employee and take a pay cut, or change to an OPS position without job security. He called it a “kind of Sophie’s Choice.” When Wilson made the switch, he was laid-off. In response to the campaign, Jodi Gentry, vice president of Human Resources at UF, wrote in an email the university is currently reviewing its OPS hiring practices. Yet Tattersall said the UF administration is hesitant to

20 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | thefineprintmag.org

directly engage with the ACLC on this issue. “It's been deflect, deny, delay,” he said. “That's mainly their effort there.” Tattersall points out the inconsistency between members of the UF community — who are quick to agree OPS workers are mistreated — and the hesitancy of the administration. In early February, Paul Ortiz, an associate professor of history, presented a resolution to the faculty senate infrastructure committee to transition the status of long-term OPS workers to TEAMS. The campaign to improve OPS working conditions appears to be indicative of a greater malady affecting all of Florida: labor rights. Florida is a right-to-work state, meaning that workers cannot be forced to join a union as a condition of their employment. According to the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, these laws hurt union membership, weakening employees’ abilities to bargain for better working conditions. Fults said the only way OPS employees will receive just compensation is if Florida’s labor laws, including the statute that provides for OPS employment, change. These laws are reflected in UF’s Board of Trustees, which is appointed by Gov. Rick Scott. “The only way we see OPS employees getting power is if we elect a worker-friendly governor and board,” he said. •


Translations ay ponte linda = ay, dress up/"get pretty" te vas a poner eso? = you're going to wear that? y los tacones??? = heels??? y los tacones k?? = what about heels?? y papi no nos va ayudar? = and dad isn't helping us? y los- = and theno tengo ganas = I don't feel like it K COĂ‘O TE PASA??? = WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU??? levantate y ayudame! = Get up and help me!

Winter 2018 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | 21


SPOTLIGHT

WEATHER Together Texas and Florida are nearly recovered from 2017’s hurricane season, but American citizens in Puerto Rico still need our help. BY MARTHA PAZ-SOLDAN

I

t’s been over four months since three hurricanes barreled one after the other across the Caribbean. But as Floridians shove hastilybought canned beans deeper into their pantries, Puerto Rican residents of rural mountain towns stand ankle-deep in mud, hurling rocks into flooded rivers to form bridges for cars to pass through. With reconstruction stunted by unstable terrain and mudslides, the people in the mountains seem stuck in time. Retired United States Air Force officer Roberto Cintron is from South Florida, is no stranger to stories of leftover destruction channeled to him by friends and family living across several municipalities of Puerto Rico, from San Juan to Mayaguez. “Devastation in some of the islands is so extensive that some of them are completely uninhabitable and there are populations that have had to be moved off the islands,” Cintron said during a phone interview. “There are even areas where the water is still not drinkable.” San Juan Mayor Carmen Cruz Soto made Puerto Rico's cry for help clear during a September 2017 press conference: “We are dying here.” Yet the response from the States has fallen short as the Trump administration has shown reluctance to provide Puerto Rico the same rescue efforts it granted Texas and Florida. In January, the administration denied the island loans from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The island will not receive federal community disaster aid until its “cash balance decreases to a certain level”, according to a Jan. 9 letter from FEMA to Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory authority. This 22 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | thefineprintmag.org

c o u l d prove problematic for the portion of the island still without power and the people living in poverty that according to the U.S. Census Bureau is about 40 percent of the population. In late January, FEMA declared its intention to cut off its distribution of emergency food and water in Puerto Rico and turn over control of the distribution to the Puerto Rican government. Immediately, lawmakers from both political parties urged the agency to reverse its decision. In a Feb. 1 statement, FEMA reiterated its belief that the island has enough supplies to support the people in need but will continue to provide support.

Months after the storms hit, about 450,000 people in Puerto Rico are still without power. “Recovery has been slow,” said Nereyda Roman, an elementary school teacher from Isabela, Puerto Rico. “They’ve cleaned the streets, they’ve cleaned out all the fallen trees. But a lot of people still don’t have electricity.” Months after the storms hit, about 450,000 people in Puerto Rico are still without power, according to the United States Army Corps of Engineers. The extent of the damage to the island’s already weak infrastructure is making it difficult to stabilize a power source. Electricity is just one of many problems Puerto Rican citizens continue to face. Groceries can be hard to come by,


SPOTLIGHT as certain staples aren’t available in supermarkets, and progress on recovering the transportation network has been slow, Cintron said. The damage sprawls unevenly across the island, so municipalities deal with a range of threats to their livelihood. In Utuado, a municipality near Rio Abajo, Hurricane Maria destroyed the only bridge that connected it to the rest of Puerto Rico, leaving the population with little means of communication. The people of Utuado were virtually isolated from relief for months, earning their municipality the name “el campamento de los olvidados”, or “camp of the forgotten,” Roman said. Puerto Rico will soon contend with the start of its hurricane season in May. The means the window of opportunity to restore electricity is closing; people are concerned that if contractors are not able to provide a permanent fix, their patchwork repairs won’t withstand a Category 2 hurricane, Cintron said.

“When tragedy strikes and it affects every single person on the island, it’s not about how many times you fall, but about how many times you get back up.” The question remains: How can we help? The U.S. Agency for International Development website advises to hold off on donating material goods and instead provide relief through monetary donations. “The one issue with monetary donations is that the people of Puerto Rico have to go to the supermarkets and purchase food and because there isn’t power restored to all the supermarkets, they don’t have food available,” said Mario Agosto, a student at the University of Florida with family from Bayamon, Puerto Rico. If you know people living in Puerto Rico, the best way to help is to reach out to them ask directly what they need, Cintron said. Within the University of Florida, the Puerto Rican American Student Union (UEPA) offers a strong support system for students coming into Gainesville from Puerto Rico. Last year, the organization sent donations to the island for eight weeks, said Angel Santiago, the student union president. With a large part of residents displaced from their homes and most of these homes completely destroyed, a climate of frustration is inevitable. But the island’s spirit remains intact. In the metropolitan area, where most have landed back on their feet, San Juan residents celebrated the annual Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastian in late January. A four-day celebration of Puerto Rico’s cultural heritage, the Fiestas de la Calle featured an abundance of live music, artisanal stands and cultural events. The community came together, undeterred and full of energy, to uphold their cherished traditional manner of wishing the Christmas season goodbye. “The resilience present in the Puerto Rican people is absolutely beautiful,” said Agosto. “When tragedy strikes and it affects every single person on the island, it’s not about how many times you fall, but about how many times you get back up. That’s something that the people there believe until the end of the day.” •

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HOW CAN YOU HELP?

efore making a donation, be sure to look for vetted relief agencies through websites like Charity Navigator, which rates nonprofit groups based on accountability and transparency. The following relief agencies all received four stars, Charity Navigator’s highest rating:

DIRECT RELIEF

www.directrelief.org A humanitarian aid organization offering cash support and medical material aid to the affected Caribbean islands.

GLOBAL GIVING

www.globalgiving.org Their relief fund will provide assistance to affected populations in the Caribbean islands in the form of emergency supplies and then longer-term recovery efforts.

WORLD HOPE INTERNATIONAL

www.worldhope.org A Christian relief and development organization that has partnered with churches in the Caribbean and distributed water filters, solar chargers, generators and medication among the affected islands.

HISPANIC FEDERATION

www.hispanicfederation.org

Its “Unidos” hurricane relief fund will support Hurricane Maria victims in Puerto Rico with emergency relief.

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COMIC

STRIPPED DOWN Gainesville’s burlesque scene strives for weirdness and inclusivity. BY JORDANNE LAURITO AND HANNAH PHILLIPS t’s a chilly December night, but Loosey’s is hot. Faces are flushed with alcohol, and seats are packed tight. Latecomers hurry inside, careful not to let the cold in. Suddenly everyone’s shedding layers: jackets are sprawled over the backs of chairs, and a corset lays discarded on the stage. This is Guilty Pleasures, Breakaway Burlesque’s December Show. Burlesque is a performance art. Think cosplay meets striptease. Ornate costumes help performers tantalize and titillate as they explore stereotypes and push boundaries. They accomplish all of this while finding interesting and unexpected ways to remove their clothes. Gainesville's burlesque scene began in 2013 when Sally B. Dash created the Mischievous Madams. Three years later, Florence Rosé’s sister troupe, Breakaway Burlesque, joined the fold. Together, the two troupes are about 20 performers strong. Rather than compete, the three groups often share the stage and cheer each other on from the audience. These performers have built Gainesville’s burlesque scene into what it is today: Empowering, hilarious and sexy. The individuals who make up Gainesville’s burlesque scene do more than strip on stage. Each is responsible for creating their costumes: elaborate compositions of pasties and panties, and wildly decorated corsets. Many performers work multiple jobs to afford what can be hundreds of dollars in material. Story continued on page 26.

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Burlesque can be isolating work due to the prejudice surrounding it. One performer sought to keep her involvement a secret from her family, and succeeded for about 10 months before an ex’s Facebook photo gave her away. Another said she faces criticism for being a mother and burlesque performer. Those who do choose burlesque do so simply because they love it. Rosé said they love the intimate connection between the audience and performer that nakedness entails. Burlesque’s appeal is often thought to be for the male gaze, but that isn’t the case in Gainesville. Many performers identify as LGBT. "We're all a little queer," Dash said. In June 2016, the two burlesque troupes formed an alliance with Downtown Drag, a group of local drag queens, and held their first performance in downtown Gainesville. Now, Dash said, there isn’t a burlesque show without a drag queen in the audience, or vice versa. Despite efforts towards inclusivity, the burlesque scene 26 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | thefineprintmag.org

still has room to grow as the audience, troupe managers, rising performers and veterans are all consistently white. Phoenix Midnight, a member of the Mischievous Madams, is north Florida’s only black burlesque performer. “Burlesque is a safe space,” Midnight said, “as long as you’re white.” Midnight said it’s lack of visibility that keeps black women from engaging the scene. Troupe managers Dash and Rosé aim to address this problem by bringing in established performers of color from outside of Gainesville. They are eager to mentor every driven performer interested in joining their community and hope to see more diversity among their troupes. A show promoting newcomers in the community will take place on March 10 at the Hardback Cafe, produced by Dash. “I was very fortunate to have opportunities to get started,” Dash said. “Now I want to pay that forward and give new people the platform to show us their stuff.” • Previous spread: Rosé, the producer of Breakaway Burlesque, performs in a risqué cosplay of Kylo Ren from


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“Star Wars” during a show at the High Dive. Previous page: (top left,) Dash tightens Rosé’s corset backstage before a show at High Dive. “Yes, Daddy, harder!” Rosé moaned, prompting laughter throughout the room. (bottom left,) Dash, producer of Mischievous Madams, brushes the curls of her wig backstage before a performance at High Dive. (right,) Formaldehyde Flower shimmies as she strips. Flower is known for her gothic-inspired costumes; the troupe

calls her “our Spooky Sweetheart.” Current page: (top left,) Betty Shiraz emcees at the Burlesque Against Humanity show in downtown Gainesville. When she takes the stage, she asks, “Who’s your host-ass with the most ass?” To which the audience replies, “You bet your ass it’s Betty Shiraz!” (bottom left,) Rumor Hasset performs “Suppertime” from “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” during a show at High Dive. She collected tips from the audience in a makeshift

dog food bowl. (top right,) On stage, Dash is known as the Countess of Caricature for her heavily character-driven acts. “I love that title because it really fits my style and my background in comedy and theater,” Dash said. (bottom right,) Jenny Castle performs Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” while assuming the dual personalities of Smeagol and Gollum. Castle received a standing ovation, and reminded the audience that burlesque is as much about comedy as it is about sexuality. • Winter 2018 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | 27


MAN’S FEATURE FEATURE

SEARCH FOR MEMEING Lauren Poe’s Dank Meme Stash grounds community issues in humor, but locals question whether the page has any influence offline. BY ANNE MARIE TAMBURRO MEMES COURTESY OF LAUREN POE'S DANK MEME STASH 28 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | thefineprintmag.org

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t’s 2018. Oprah is a rumored contender for the next presidential bid. A reality television star already sits in the White House. Gainesville city commissioner candidates host campaign events at nightclubs. Silly disagreements with state senators escalate into slapping. People process the absurdity of the current political moment in various ways, but humor might be a universal response. The rise of Facebook-based political meme pages sprung from the fervor of the 2016 presidential election. They offered a new form of satirical commentary, crowdsourced from the online public rather than broadcasted by late night comedy writers or political cartoonists. Gainesville did not escape this trend. In the summer of 2017, a Facebook page by the name of “Lauren Poe’s Dank Meme Stash” appeared. According to the page administrator, its creation was based on two things -- the joy of conceptualizing silly ideas with Photoshop and a desire to offer a more liberal public commentary on local issues. The name of the page also acts as an homage to “Bernie Sanders’ Dank Meme Stash”, a popular page during the 2016 Democratic primary. The admin, who prefers to remain anonymous, said the page serves to poke fun at local politics and its figures while also introducing this community to people who would otherwise be unaware. Dating back to May 11, 2017, the earliest meme posted compares four figures relevant to the mayoral office -- Lauren Poe, who won the 2016 election; Ed Braddy, the losing incumbent; Craig Lowe, the mayor before Braddy who lost the 2013 race after being arrested for DUI during his campaign, and Donald Shepard, who also lost the 2016 election and was also arrested, but for charges of grand theft auto. Buried under the ironic humor this meme page and many others are known for, none of this context is obvious. “As I was making it, a week or so in, I had a friend tell me ‘I don’t understand any of these things, so if you’re gonna do this, link to articles about these topics so at least people can learn from it and you’re not just making a page to amuse you and 20 other people,” the admin said. Sourcing its content from both users and admins, the page’s posts address issues like elections, city commissioner meetings, and


FEATURE the University of Florida’s relationship with local government. According to 23-year-old Wallace Mazon, a UF political science student and activist, the page has more to offer than surface-level humor. “People see it. Before that, how were they getting information about local politics?” he said. “It’s really hard.” Mazon, who claimed to be one of the first 20 people to like the page, said that having links to related articles or information posted alongside the memes makes familiarizing oneself with local politics easier and more accessible. This is particularly helpful to to the millenial and student demographic the page seems to attract; 38 percent of the roughly 2,400 users who like the page are between 18 and 24 years old, and 33 percent are between 25 and 34, according to Facebook analytics. “Student voting rates in local elections in Gainesville are really bad. They’re bad for normal elections and worse for local elections,” the admin said. “I’d like to think that people are more likely to at least have passing knowledge of an issue if it’s in a meme form.”

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2 Students aside, voter turnout for local elections is low, falling short of just 12 percent in the March 2017 Gainesville general election, according to the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections’ statistics. Whether the page will have any effects on the voter turnout in upcoming elections is questionable, but the admin said the page at least helps make its users better informed. “I guess I’m kind of like Jake Fuller for the left,” the page admin said, referring to the local conservative cartoonist whose work is published in the Gainesville Sun. The admin said the memes operate in a similar way to political cartoons, providing humorous commentary to contextualize local issues, albeit with lower effort and more lowbrow jokes. “You can’t just publish a political cartoon about, like, how hot Adrian Hayes-Santos is,” the admin said, “Where [on the page], it’s a meme about how hot Adrian Hayes-Santos is, but at least people know who Adrian HayesSantos is, maybe know what issues he cares about.” The admin said the page plays into the unique intimacy of politics in a smaller town like Gainesville. “I think local politics is this weird, almost high school-like zone where everyone knows each other and everything is really personal and interconnected,” the admin said. “They have a lot of power in what they can do, so inherent in that is a lot of humor and inside jokes I think are really funny.” The size of Gainesville also allows for an

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3 aspect of the page that larger political pages likely miss out on: The subjects of the memes are aware of the page and actively interact with it. “Probably every Adrian Hayes-Santos meme gets liked and shared by Adrian’s mom, which is just adorable,” the admin said. Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe said he can’t remember the first time he saw the page, but it was probably after someone tagged him in a post. Like the admin, he equated the experience of seeing himself portrayed in a meme to that of being featured in a political cartoon. “There are some that just make me quite literally laugh out and chuckle,” Poe said, “It’s quite weird seeing yourself subjectified in that manner.” Poe said he finds the page both bizarre and hilarious. An avid “Star Wars” fan, he said one of his favorite posts featured his face pasted onto the body of the latest film’s villain, Kylo Ren, standing in front of the city commissioners at a recent swearing-in ceremony. “Whoever thought of that was just a little… Their axis is on a slightly different tilt than the

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rest of the planet,” he said. The city commissioners are all aware of the page as well, Poe said. While some of the memes are just for laughs, the page also features more critique-based posts that address community issues under a veil of humor. According to Poe, seeing politicians interact with the page can validate discussion. He said when he interacts with the page, he’s usually laughing along with it. “I don’t go on there and correct the record or chastise people for taking a certain stance,” he said. “It’s more that I’m having fun along with other people, so in that regard I think it’s important that it humanizes elected officials. Not all of the posts on the page have been well-received, however. According to Mazon, the page sometimes oversteps the boundary between satire and personal attacks. “This is not really hardbar politics, this isn’t Washington D.C.,” he said. “Bring out the facts, let’s not try to smear anybody’s name or try to make people out to be who they aren’t.” Poe said he usually interacts with the page to add to the laughs, but he once asked for a


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The admin of the page posted this meme about viral “hot cops” after antisemitic Facebook posts from one of the officers surfaced. “That was something where I was annoyed by the topics of conversation that were coming up about policing, and I was trying to shift it to be like, the fact that they’re hot is not the issue,” they said. particularly harsh meme to be taken down. The meme criticized former Gainesville mayor Ed Braddy around the same time Braddy was experiencing hardship in his family, unbeknownst to the admin at the time of posting. “I thought [Poe] thought it was too mean,” the admin said, “And then I found out later.” The admin acknowledged Poe’s complaint and removed the post. He expressed remorse over his decision to post it. “I think that’s a dangerous path to go down, and it’s just not fair to folks,” Poe said. “If it's all about the votes and the public policy, the public comments, then that's fine, but when it gets into the private life, that's sort of out of bounds for me.” Stepping too far into public figures’ private lives isn’t the only criticism the page has received either. According to Susan Bottcher, a former Gainesville city commissioner, the jokes

are either too obtuse for older demographics to appreciate or too specific for anyone who doesn’t already care to get. “When I talk to what I call ‘normal people’ . . . who I define as people who don’t eat, sleep, think politics like a lot of us do, just normal everyday people, they probably don’t pay much attention to it,” she said. “So if the question is, will that Facebook page actually influence people? I would say probably not.” According to Bottcher, Facebook meme pages and other political pages as well can leave users with a false sense of contributing to politics. “I think if people are going to be involved in any meaningful way, then Facebook isn’t exactly the most effective tool if that’s all you’re doing,” she said. Mazon said he thinks the educational value of the page does contribute in a positively to local political discourse by getting people involved in a way that’s accessible and entertaining. “But on the other hand, they might just read the meme, laugh or form another page thinking that it’s ok to just make memes about things and not go out and do something,” he said. The admin expressed similar concerns, saying that the users need to act beyond the page if they want to effect change and also that they should act in ways that contribute to the support and activism already rooted in the community. “I think there’s a danger of political groups spring up and being like ‘Oh, homelessness is an issue. Let’s start a group to address homelessness rather than trying to find a group that already exists and help them,” they said, “because those groups will have been in Gainesville for 10, 20 years and will have a better understanding, a better infrastructure to address it.” It is uncertain whether the page motivates people in Gainesville to engage in local politics beyond Facebook, but at its core, it at least makes them laugh about it and learn something they might not have otherwise. “Memes aren’t gonna change the world, ya know,” Mazon said. “It’s about direct action. But if you’re bringing awareness to something, I think that is a form of activism, so I guess it’s a double edged sword.” •

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A New Chapter

Wild Iris, Gainesville’s only feminist bookstore and Florida’s last, closed in December, but its story continues. BY MOLLY MINTA ILLUSTRATIONS BY BRITTNEY EVANS


FEATURE t’s 4 p.m. on a Friday in early December, and the neon open sign on Wild Iris’s glass storefront glows red in the fog. Behind the glass at the register sits Erica Rodriguez Merrell, manager and co-owner of Gainesville’s longest-running feminist bookstore and Florida’s last. Two customers rifle through her store’s chestnut bookshelves, asking Merrell for recommendations about the stock she knows by heart. They appear to have made it their mission to buy the whole store, their numerous purchases misshapenly stacked on top of a short shelf and a wooden chair. “I have a pile,” one of the women says to the other, another stack jumbled in her arms. “I’m just throwing everything on it.” On a typical day at Wild Iris, Merrell spent her time looking for new books to add to her stock, chatting with customers and playing tower defense games. She would be lucky if she made more than two sales. But that day was not typical. The usually jam-packed cases lining the bookstore’s walls were curiously empty; signs handwritten in marker on colored paper announced whole shelves 25 or 75 percent off. That day, Merrell was discussing the store with her two customers, and what it will mean for Gainesville when it is gone. Wild Iris closed its doors on Dec. 23, 2017, marking an end to a nearly 50-year history that stretches back to when the store began as part of the women’s movement in Gainesville. As other relics of that time period closed, Wild Iris carried on despite multiple name and ownership changes, despite never quite being able to break even from books alone. “There’s been challenges,” Merrell said. “But it’s been a part of everything good that’s happened in Gainesville.”

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pon hearing the news in Sept. 2017 that Wild Iris was going to close, Sallie Harrison, a staunch supporter of the bookstore, was beside herself. Harrison immediately made a beeline for the bookstore, dragging her friend Rosie along with her. “I’m having a lot of separation anxiety with this being the last in Florida,” she told her friend as they examined the store’s remaining stock. “For most of my adult life, I can’t imagine being in a town without a feminist bookstore.” Harrison moved from Mississippi to Gainesville in the late 1960s as the local feminist movement was just beginning. An outspoken woman, she became a part of a network of people who would demonstrate against sexism and shelter abused women in the homes of Fulbright scholars during the summer. This network was to become the South’s first National Women’s Liberation (NWL) group. “It was a lovely, magical kind of time,” said Linda Bassham, who ran Wild Iris when it was called Amelia’s. “And Gainesville was a very magical kind of place.” Bassham was also a transplant, moving to Gainesville in 1964 to attend UF. She took to the city because it was big enough for a lot to go on -- Feminists consider Gainesville one of the five

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North American cities where the women’s movement started -- but small enough that everyone knew everyone. Bassham was next-door neighbors to Judith Brown, who founded Gainesville’s NWL. Bassham was introduced to the growing feminist network in 1973 when she sought advice to help her long-distance partner, a rape survivor. Bassham could see the group was limited without a physical space, and she had been saving money from her job, as one of the first female railroad operators in Florida, to do something for women. So when Brown approached her that year about opening a women’s center, Bassham was more than willing to help. In 1975, Bassham helped finance the opening of Women Unlimited, the culminating point of the feminist movement in Gainesville. It housed the Sexual Physical Resource Abuse Center, a newsletter, a counseling center and Womanstore, the bookstore. “What do you want in a women’s center?” Harrison said. “A feminist bookstore, of course!” Women Unlimited occupied a white house directly behind Wild Iris’s former site on the corner of University and NW 8 street. The center aimed to be a space free of men that women could go to when they couldn’t go home. “Upstairs they had childcare and downstairs they would try to figure out how to destroy bills that were going through the Senate,” Merrell said. Like many feminist spaces at the time, Women Unlimited secured federal funding to pay for the operating costs of the space through the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act. Signed into law by Richard Nixon in 1973 and administered through Alachua County, the act offered job assistance to those with low incomes and the long-term unemployed. “A lot of women took advantage of this,” Bassham said. That was a problem. Through a paper trail of names, the county discovered government money was going to fund a feminist bookstore run by radical lesbians, Bassham said. The grant was taken away. Not too long after, Women Unlimited folded. “We had a sense that we were making history, that we were gonna change the world, that we were having a big impact, and in some ways we did and we were,” Bassham said. “And in other ways, the backlash has been incredible.” Over the course of the next decade, feminist bookstores across the country met the same fate as Women Unlimited as the grants ended after the election of Ronald Reagan. In 1985, a member of a conservative policy group stalled a grant for a women’s shelter when he announced, “I don’t think prolesbian, hard-core feminists should be getting a grant from the Reagan Administration,” according to “Feminist Revolution in Literary” by Junko. R. Onosaka. Combined with the defeat of Equal Rights Amendment, the magical era seemed over. But Wild Iris carried on. After Women Unlimited ended in 1979, Bassham bought the white house and re-opened the bookstore as Amelia’s in honor of her idol, Amelia Earhart. Amelia’s wasn’t explicitly a lesbian space, but stocked lesbian literature like “Rubyfruit Jungle.” Set partially at UF, the novel


FEATURE was one of the first books to positively portray lesbians. Amelia’s also sold vibrators, “which was pretty risqué at the time,” Bassham added. But, “independent bookstores are a real challenge,” Bassham said. “We just never really made any money off of it. … I’m surprised, pleased and surprised, that Wild Iris made it as long as they did.” Bassham sold Amelia’s and the house in 1981; the new owners re-opened the store in the building right in front of the original site. It would re-open again in this space in 1994 as Wild Iris Books and continue uninterrupted for 10 years until 2004 when it was sold to new owners, Lylly Rodriguez, who stepped down in 2008, and Cheryl Calhoun. Harrison, for her part, continued to support the bookstore, no matter who owned it or what it was called. She shopped at the store so regularly throughout her life that on the day she went to say goodbye to Wild Iris, she couldn’t find a book she didn’t already own. When Rosie pointed out Harrison already owned the book she chose to buy -- in fact, it was sitting on her coffee table before they left -- Harrison was ready with a defense. “I said, ‘Rosie, that’s not the point, damnit! I know I already have that book. What makes me feel better is that I’m spending money at a feminist bookstore,’” Harrison said. She bought the book and brought it home to display on her coffee table next to her original copy. errell moved to Gainesville from Miami to be with her boyfriend, now her husband, in 2007. She had been selling books for six years, and by that point, she was already a very self-identified feminist. One day, her boyfriend told her he was going to take her some place she was gonna love. He dropped her off at Wild Iris’s front door. “I had never been in a feminist bookstore, and it blew my mind,” Merrell said. “Immediately, I was like, ‘there’s all these books here I’ve never seen!’ And I had worked for bookstores for a long time; there’s very few books I hadn’t seen,” she said. Wild Iris was warm and welcoming, and it became the first place Merrell went to volunteer and find like-minded women. She ended up getting a job at Books-A-Million, but corporate bookselling was already becoming less and less satisfying. “Especially now that I knew a place like Wild Iris existed,” she said. After two years of volunteering, Merrell became co-owner of the store with Calhoun in 2009. In addition to selling books and knick-knacks like crystals and tarot cards, Wild Iris provided an inclusive space for discussion groups, activist meetings, mic nights and live music. “From the moment that I stepped in there I knew I was in a really, really special place,” Merrell said. “But I also saw lots of places for growth.” In some ways the store still clung to its past. Wild Iris still held women-only dance parties, and its reputation as a separatist space preceded it. Merrell used to get questions all the time

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about whether men were allowed in the store or if they sold “normal” books. In 2012, Wild Iris moved to the Civic Media Center courtyard off Main Street, and Merrell took over full leadership of the store a year later. She took the efforts toward intersectionality -- the theory created by feminist scholar Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw to describe how systems of oppression reflect the intersections of race, gender, class and sexual orientation in each person, namely black women -- changing it from a theory people could read about to something the store could practice. Merrell stopped the sparsely attended women-only dance parties,, and changed the bookstore’s feminist mic night to a queer feminist mic night. For a couple years, the store held transgender-only barbeques and brunches for women of color where mimosas were sipped to Beyonce. Wild Iris also organized Gainesville Free Store, a collection of donated items ranging from clothing to potty trainers that people could take from freely. The free store was started with the trans community and the homeless in mind. Merrell could also control the store’s inventory. While its space off University Ave stocked trans-focused books and other supplies, there was no transgender section before she started working there. Before it closed, Wild Iris no longer sold vibrators.

“From the moment that I stepped in there I knew I was in a really, really special place,” Merrell said. “But I also saw lots of places for growth.” There were some missteps. In 2015, Wild Iris hosted an art gallery called Viva la Vulva that featured photos of local people’s vulvas. The gallery aimed to be inclusive but received backlash from the trans community for equating genitalia with gender. “I just made people feel like they weren’t part of this space, and that just broke my heart in a million ways,” Merrell said. At one of the transgender-only barbecues, members of the trans community vented their frustrations to those who came from the feminist community. By the end of the night, the ribs were gone and, for the most part, so was the tension. For Merrell, feminist bookselling is akin to counseling. She knew that people would come into the store to look for a book or a friendly word that would affirm them, and she worked to make sure Wild Iris was a space full of love. She is most proud she was able to provide a space that could help people. “I’m really proud of all the people I have loved,” she said. One such loved stranger was Sterling Davenport. Davenport was introduced to the store his freshman year at UF in 2011, Winter 2018 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | 35


FEATURE when he walked past the bookstore to go to trivia night at a nearby restaurant. At the time, Davenport was struggling to be open with his sexuality. He was raised very conservative in Jacksonville, Fla., and he knew that his life plan -- to become a Republican senator -- would be dashed if he came out. At Wild Iris he found a community where he could be honest about his sexuality with himself and with strangers. “For the first time in my life I was able to be an adult among other adults who truly knew and respected me as a gay adult,” he said. “And they were just regular people who got it.” After Davenport came out to his family in 2012, Merrell and Calhoun were the first people he commisserated with when he had family troubles. He said just being able to be in the bookstore was instrumental in helping him rebuild himself. “It’s all just an unbroken chain of reaffirming me as a person just as I am, the good and the bad,” he said. In Jacksonville Davenport didn’t have access to any space like Wild Iris. To move to Gainesville and to find a space where he didn’t need to fear violence was freeing. “Living in Gainesville we’re surrounded. If you go five minutes in any direction, you end up in part of the country where people who love like you do or look like you do might be suffering violent rebuke, or at the very least angry words. And so we feel the need of that type of space very deeply,” he said. “Or we did.” y Dec. 6, the night of Wild Iris’s goodbye celebration, winter had set in. The smell of incense signalled the store’s promise of warmth, where a line of bundled-up people waiting patiently to buy a book hugged the perimeter of the store. Reminiscing around the firepit in the courtyard was the group that made Wild Iris the longest-running iteration of feminist bookselling in Gainesville. There were the owners, like Calhoun; loyal patrons, like Harrison; and the volunteers, Davenport, Crystal Sorrow, a spunky lady with multi-colored hair, and Kira Christmas. Christmas began volunteering at Wild Iris in 2012 to fulfill her high school’s community service requirement. She felt so at home in the space, she continued even after she met her school’s requirement. “If I had a bad week, at least I had the Iris to go to that Saturday,” she said. “I had this environment where I was welcomed and wanted, and I could help, and I could listen to other people’s stories. I could read stories.” Christmas is now a UF student majoring in Health Education and Behavior, and she works with Planned Parenthood as a community health educator. “I 100 percent would not be the same person that I am had I not, you know, spent all my time here,” she said. And Christmas has calculated: Over the course of nearly four years, she’s spent over 900 hours at the store. All the volunteers have their own favorite moment from the store, but Harrison’s stories of the scrappy, underground

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organizing of the 70s are the most captivating. “To know that we were key in the feminist battle is an awesome thing,” said Sorrow, who began volunteering at the store as a UF student in the 90s after she joined its consciousness-raising group. “Abortion wasn’t legal, women’s health wasn’t discussed. We put that into the community.” As smoke from the fire shifted with the wind, the conversation turned from bittersweet to introspective. In 2012, there were 14 feminist bookstores in North America. With Wild Iris closed, there will be 12. “I’m gonna miss being a part of what is a movement, just being a part of a feminist bookstore,” Christmas said. “There’s a movement in that. It’s dying out as the numbers dwindle each and every year for feminist bookstores.” Davenport asked aloud, broaching the subject on everyone’s minds: What caused Wild Iris in particular to close? he answer, at least in Florida, is two-fold. Feminist bookstores never profited off their books alone, and in this respect Wild Iris was not unique. For many years in the late 90s and early 2000s, Wild Iris sustained itself primarily through a partnership with the women’s studies program at UF. They would stock their shelves with professors’ syllabi, who in return would send their students to purchase their textbooks at the store. This model would shift drastically in 2008 when the Florida legislature passed new laws aimed at reducing the cost of postsecondary textbooks. These laws prevented professors from requiring students to purchase specific textbooks from specific places. Theoretically this would allow students to search for the cheapest option available on the market -- that is, available online. In practice, this law hurt independent bookstores. Professors were no longer allowed to require students to stop at Wild Iris, or any other independent bookstore in Gainesville.

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“We feel the need of that type of space very deeply. Or we did.” “If you look at that time frame, you’ll see many of the small bookstores around Gainesville close,” Calhoun said. “You’ll see Goering’s close. Florida Bookstore that used to be across from campus closed.” Wild Iris had lost its reliable customers. “Students,” Davenport said,” are not sustainers.” A murmur of agreement circled the fire. At least Wild Iris was still on University Ave with a bright aquamarine mural painted to look like a blue sky above a green field of irises. The store could still get foot-traffic, and continued to for a couple of years -- this is how Davenport found the store in 2011. Then in 2012, as Wild Iris was approaching its twentieth anniversary, Calhoun and Merrell received word their next-month’s rent was going to increase by 50 percent. The same day, they learned the cafe in the back of the bookstore that shared their operational costs


FEATURE was going to shut down. The choice was to stay open for three months, to close or to move. Naturally, they opened a bottle of wine. “The things that come over you drinking and crying,” Merrell said. “We were sitting in the back and we were kind of like, ‘what are we gonna do? What’s gonna happen?’” Merrell and Calhoun both felt they were only caretakers of the space. Wild Iris was really the community’s, and if the community wanted the store to stay open, it needed to come through. Calhoun, wine glass in hand, came up with an idea for the community to “vote” to keep the store open: One vote would be a $20 bill for 20 years. The campaign was a success: For days, people were coming into the store with $20 bills in hand. Wild Iris raised more than $6,000, which financed the move to a cheaper location in the Civic Media Center courtyard. “I still get goosebumps,” Merrell said. “I have very few times felt so loved and valued as I did with that campaign.” Yet as much as Wild Iris fit into the courtyard, Merrell said the space impacted sales. The store wasn’t able to get Main Street facing property; being tucked away decreased their visibility, foot traffic and, ultimately, sales. For her day job, Merrell is the finance director for Peaceful Paths. What she does is numbers and math, she said, and in the past year and a half, she could see the math was not good. “Somehow we’d always be okay and something would happen and kind of pull us out,” Merrell said. “Something would kind of always show up. But I think in my heart I knew -- I mean, I’ve known this day was coming.” Looking back, there is one thing Merrell is most proud of Wild Iris for doing: Exist. “When I first made the decision to close I was talking with my husband, and I had always been really obsessed that Wild Iris could not close on my watch,” she said. “And he slowed me down and was like, ‘do you realize that you’re the driving force of why it is still here from ten years ago?’” It look Merrell six months to make the decision to close the store. By mid-2017, she knew it was what she had to do. “It’s not a decision I came to lightly,” she said. “I think anyone who knows me or has been in here knows that I spent a lot of time making this decision. But as a business woman, as a person who loves this store so deeply, it’s time.” Davenport, Sorrow and Christmas seemed to know the store’s final day was coming, too. “It’s bittersweet. I know these people deserve to move on,” Sorrow said, referring to all her friends around her. “There’s not the financial stability at this point. Keeping a feminist queer bookstore alive is hard, so for us to be one of those that closed is really sad. It makes me wanna cry, but all the people that here I love, their stories continue.” n Dec. 26, Merrell, Christmas and company were back in the store, packing up the remaining inventory. It took two to three hours every week until late January

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to pack all the books into eight boxes and sort through storage. Most of the inventory was donated to other organizations in town. Some of the books went to Girl’s Place, the Pride Center and others; the remaining $6,000 worth went to the Friends of the Library. The display cases went to Third House, and Merrell’s signature rainbow chair -- or as she calls it, her throne -- went to Sorrow’s home. Calhoun said that over the years, as other feminist and LGBT-friendly spaces in Florida have closed they’ve sent their resources to live on at Wild Iris. Now, Wild Iris is doing the same. “Even with us we can see there’s been a process of passing along what resources were left,” she said. “There’s some part of me that thinks that even if we’re not successful in keeping Wild Iris alive as Wild Iris Books, it will stay alive in these other entities.” As they combed through the store, they found old posters from shows and open mic nights, buttons, bunches of paper napkins and cups, and an elaborate tapestry of a goddess decorated with the zodiac signs and phases of the moon. Some of the items they found were from before the store moved, when it was still on University Ave.

“It’s not a decision I came to lightly. I think anyone who knows me or has been in here knows that I spent a lot of time making this decision.” “It had its own journey,” Merrell said. “It’s its own entity, and it has its own story that’s bigger than us.” Then on Jan. 26, the movers came for the bookshelves. “It feels backward,” Merrell said, looking at the empty store. “I opened this space. I remember when it had nothing in it. I remember when I was building it, and now I’m taking it down.” Merrell said the process was painful yet pleasurable, like picking a scab; it contains an element of liberation. “I’m excited to enter that realm as Erica,” she said. “I think there is -- right next to the sadness -- there is this great freedom that I can be my own activist now.” For the first time in seven years, she’ll have Saturdays off to spend with her one-year-old. That past weekend, Merrell took her to the Women’s March and played with her in the grass, just as Erica, without any talking points or responsibilities to the store. “I keep thinking about how this is going to be a past chapter of my life really soon, which is still kind of surreal,” she said. “I think about what I’ll feel about it in 10 years and 20 years when my kid is old. I’m gonna be like, ‘your mom used to own a feminist bookstore and she was awesome!’ It’s already so tender to me. It’s already such a place where I’ve grown so much and done so many things. I’m really, really proud of what I was able to do.” • Winter 2018 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | 37


ART & LITERATURE

DOMESTICATED BY CLAUDIA FELL CONGER

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— lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. He pays nearly a grand a month for one bedroom in the apartment, but he doesn’t bother to hang anything on the walls. He tells me he couldn’t bring his cats because of his roommate’s aggressive dog. I never see the thing, but I hear it at night. The dog barks as though it was obligatory. The dogs of the city rarely seem to surpass ten pounds. That means it would take twenty city dogs to equal the reported weight loss of “Subway Guy,” Jared Fogle. I ask Z— why the city dogs are so small. He says he doesn’t know. He’s concentrating, opening a cardboard box of Easy Mac. Z— spends all of his free time hanging out on the eighth floor of the English department building. He shows me the official department fridge, complete with his own personal jar of peanut butter. He’s absolutely thrilled about the peanut butter. he dog predates peanut butter and chardonnay. The dog appeared before agriculture. It was the time of the hunter-gatherer. Archeologists mark side-by-side human-and-dog remains as conclusive evidence of domestication. Grief breeds collective grief, which breeds genetic manipulation. Domestication relies on relationships of mutuality. Gerbils are illegal in the state of California. In Florida, C— buys two young male gerbils in a Wal-Mart parking lot. The gerbil lady insists they meet in the parking lot. Her home is in a constant state of quarantine. She’s been a member of the American Gerbil Society for over a decade, she tells C—. There are no visitors allowed in the rodentry. The gerbil lady drives a blue minivan. Her hair is tablecloth, fire-ant red. She opens the trunk of the minivan, smiling. She’s been raising gerbils since 94, since before C— was born, since before the ad campaign of Jared from Subway. Do not equate gerbil with hamster. Do not anger the gerbil lady. The hamster is a solitary creature. A forest dweller, you can smell his piss a mile away. The gerbil is more social, perhaps more sensitive. You can barely smell his piss. Gerbils sleep together in moving heaps of body and fur. hree years after the WalMart parking lot, C— arrives home at eight a.m. Only one gerbil moves in the tank. Little D— lies buried in timothy-grass, his grey head immobile. C— shifts through the bedding, finding his tiny body half gone. His brother nibbles a patch of grey in mouth. C— closes her eyes. She hasn’t touched meat in six years. There are no visitors allowed in the rodentry. Appreciate the consistency. Hunter-gatherers first bred dogs on the basis of their behavior. These dogs were hunting technology. The brain of the dog is fifteen percent smaller than that of the wolf. Lighter brains in mammals denote gentleness. Anarcho-primitivists see domestication as a precursor to the global

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DRAWING & PROSE

shift toward totalitarianism. Those who harness the land must look next to the assimilation of others. Agriculturalists uproot the hunter. Man sees wild as an opportunity to tame. Domestication is never finished. The dogs of New York grow smaller, more compact. The Victorian era prompted the elite’s fascination with dog breeds, and the appearance of middle-classes in the 19th century created new status boundaries. This is the persistence of human above nonhuman—the performance of respectability. The well-behaved dog performs middle-class identity. t’s been two summers since I’ve seen P—. There are no trains in Florida. He wants to know why I didn’t tell him about the subway. You live in Massachusetts, you idiot, I say. P— says he’s already on the way to New York. He likes the drive. He says it’s like sleeping without guilt. He has dreams sometimes of the two of us slicing oranges, dressed in summer clothes again. And then he wakes up. Harsh lines of biology compose the soft lines of inference. When they burn, they burn freely. Manipulating the natural world is like trying to grope a mirror after it spills onto the floor. Gentleness drives into the ground, disappearing and coming back as something greener, something different. ask Z— why the city dogs are so small, and he tells me he doesn’t know. They are small because they have to be. The morning prayers send the dog barking again. I say it doesn’t sound much like a small dog. Z— says he doesn’t know -- he’s never seen it. He’s concentrating. This time he’s making a peanut butter sandwich. Archeologists discover the peanut butter and chardonnay in the fridge and call it conclusive evidence. Gerbils are still illegal in the state of California as C— leaves the WalMart parking lot with another one. The red-haired lady seems less translucent this time. oday there are hundreds of breeds of dogs and P— is wearing the same jacket as always. He looks at my hands and asks what it’s like to sleep under all that humidity. My knuckles are gloveless and dry, almost bleeding. You live in Massachusetts, you idiot. If he could take off his hands he would give them to me. •

COMFORTABLY NUMB by Caroline Gaspich

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CLAUDIA FELL CONGER is in the last semester of her undergraduate career at the University of Florida, studying English, Spanish and linguistics. She is an assistant teacher of English as a second language, a writer and a vegan baker. Winter 2018 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | 39


Est. 2008

The Fine Print, Winter 2018  

The Fall 2017 print edition of The Fine Print, an independent magazine in Gainesville, Florida.

The Fine Print, Winter 2018  

The Fall 2017 print edition of The Fine Print, an independent magazine in Gainesville, Florida.

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