the STRAND VICTORIA UNIVERSITY’S STUDENT NEWSPAPER
LOOKOUT: Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson at U of T
TIME TO DIVEST: U of T’s Carbon Problem
STUDY OR DIE: The Pros of Exam Season TLC
VOL. 56 ISSUE 11• APR.14 2014 • WWW.THESTRAND.CA
BOOKSTORE EXTINCTION 10
PICKUP ARTISTRY, FEMINISM 8
MARTEL INTERVIEW 14
VICTORIA COLLEGE ELECTIONS Our Student Government for 2014-2015
VUSAC PRESIDENT Rowan DeBues
VICE PRESIDENT OPERATIONS SIMON BODDY/FLICKR CC
ARTS AND CULTURE Conor Tangney
ACADEMIC AND PROFESSIONAL ADVANCEMENT Robert Fan
COMMUTER Sara Li Forouzanfar
EDUCATION AND EQUITY Claire Wilkins
SCARLET AND GOLD Olivia Klasios
BOARD OF REGENTS Angela Sun Blaire Townshend David Kitai Ellen Chen
VICTORIA UNIVERSITY SENATE Angela Sun Ellen Chen
VICTORIA COLLEGE COUNCIL Angela Sun Ellen Chen Robert Fan Sara Li Forouzanfar Simran Kataria
Total Votes: 508
MALAYSIAN AIRLINES TRAGEDY ELIANA STANISLAWSKI On Saturday March 8, Flight 370 of the government-controlled Malaysia Airlines flying from Kuala Lumpur disappeared between 8:10am and 9:15am. This Boeing 777-200 had 239 people on board; of which 227 were passengers and 12 were crew members. After three weeks of searching for the lost airplane and its passengers, Malaysian Prime Minister Majib Razak held a press conference on Monday March 24 at which he announced that the plane crashed in the southern Indian Ocean, and that there are no sur vivors. Malaysian Airlines notified the families of passengers prior to the press conference with a phone call or a text message if they could not be reached. They have also given the families of each passenger $5,000. Vessels and satellites from Australia, New Zealand, China, South Korea, Japan, the United States, and other nations are continuing their large-scale maritime search of the area where investigators suspect the plane crashed. According to the New York Times, sur veillance aircrafts are sweeping approximately 2,000 nautical miles a day. Days before Razak’s press conference, a French satellite found 122 pieces of nearby floating objects in this area, and day after day similar sightings have been reported in that vast region. Despite these various supposed sightings of debris in the water, all potential parts of the plane wreckage have
been ruled as “fishing equipment and other flotsam,” according to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. As the area apparently the size of the Indian Ocean continues to be searched, extreme weather conditions hinder search efforts and force currents to spread potential debris from the wreckage further apart. Mr. Hishammuddin Hussein, Malaysian Defense and Acting Transport Minister, said at a news conference that the plane appeared to have sent one more partial electronic “handshake” signal eight minutes after the last of the previously disclosed one. This transmission is not yet understood, but analysts are currently working to decipher it. Many families and friends of passengers are extremely dissatisfied with Malaysia Airlines, both because of the accident and because of the subsequent delays and miscommunications in the search for the aircraft. The relatives of MH370’s passengers, two thirds of whom were Chinese, mounted a protest in Beijing, breaking through police lines and marching to the Malaysian Embassy demanding the truth. The group declared that if mistakes on the part of Malaysian Airlines resulted in the crash, they would be “murderers.” Dissatisfaction and unanswered questions remain as family members demand answers and the world questions this myster y, the biggest in aviation histor y.
DR. NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON’S UNIVERSAL PRESCRIPTION FOR PROGRESS ARTWORK BY VIVIAN CHE
BAHAR BEHROUZI & THOMAS LU PHOTO EDITOR Imagine this: It’s Friday night and you’re spending an intimate evening in Con Hall with approximately 1700 of your closest peers. The lights are dim, there’s an excited tension in the air, and up on the projector screen is a dazzling image of the universe—the Hubble Extreme Deep Field. All around you echoes the warm and commanding voice of Neil deGrasse Tyson, seducing you with his ethos on life. On March 21, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson delivered a free public lecture in conjunction with his receiving of the inaugural Dunlap Prize from the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics. The prize honours his excellence in astrophysics and his accomplishments as one of this generation’s most prominent science communicators. Not only is Dr. Tyson an astrophysicist and the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural Histor y, but he is also a writer and a prolific radio and television host/educator. Recently, Tyson began hosting the documentar y television series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, picking up where Carl Sagan left off 30 years ago. It is fitting, then, that the topic of his lecture was about the intimate connection between science and society, and the dynamic mutualism between the two. His address offered a “cosmic perspective” on life and emphasized the importance of adopting the scientific method in fuelling the progress of society.
Here are three key points to take away from Dr. Tyson’s talk: 1. DON’T STOP ASKING QUESTIONS. A piqued curiosity motivated humankind’s initial ventures into algebra, algorithms, and astronomy during the 9th Centur y, and more recently into the controversial demotion of Pluto, in which Dr. Tyson himself played a role. Building on that, asking good and informed questions is integral to the scientific method, and therefore also to life. It is important not allow potentially misleading sources, like the internet and biased media outlets, to determine your opinion on technological advances. 2. SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENT WILL PROPEL OUR GENERATION FORWARD. A society that values its scientific accomplishments is one that will progress. Before the adoption of the Euro, Germany had mathematician and physicist Carl Friedrich Gauss and the equation of his famous Gaussian distribution on the ten deutsche mark banknote. This illustrates how science can permeate society and shape it–no wonder German engineering has developed such a strong reputation for reliability!
3. SCIENCE NEEDS TO BECOME MORE ACCESSIBLE BEFORE THE WORLD CAN MOVE FORWARD. Scientific progress and growth are dependent on their accessibility. The vernacular that surrounds the practice often creates an unnecessar y barrier to understanding and open participation. Additionally, even within the realm of research, competition between scientists and the resultant withholding of information is slowing down research. To conclude, Dr. Tyson is adamant that all of us share a responsibility as inhabitants of Earth to contribute to its development, and that the brunt of that development rests in scientific exploration. Moreover, each individual possesses a unique set of experiences and traits that they gradually amass as a result of growing up, be it intentional or not. These unique sets of traits eventually enable us to do our part in this dance between science and societal progress, which Dr. Tyson openly exemplified himself. When questioned as to whether he regretted compromising his impact on astrophysical research in order to pursue educating the general public, Dr. Tyson honestly admitted that his unique set of traits ultimately made him perfect for the job. They led him to where he is today, allowing him to do something he thinks no one else could do. So we leave you, our readers, with that thought, and Dr. Tyson’s culminating quote, “Science and technology, in the hands of enlightened people, can change the world.”
TIME TO DIVEST: U OF T’S CARBON PROBLEM
On March 6, 2014, Toronto350 formally presented the case for fossil fuel divestment to U of T President Meric Gertler. Every student owes them a debt of gratitude—its far past time for the university to address its relationship to global climate change. Toronto350, U of T’s branch of the North American climate action group 350.org, has been building up to this for a long time. Since 2012 they’ve been speaking about the need to present a solid case for divestment to the university’s administration, and for the past year the group has dedicated all their efforts to preparing it. I’ve gone through the brief, and you should too, if you have time - it concerns both your tuition and your future. They’ve done a good job. According to the University of Toronto Asset Management Corporation’s records, as of March 31, 2012, the University has investments of at least $49.3 million in corporations that profit, either directly or through a subsidiary, from major fossil fuel operations. This number is significantly higher than those previously reported in other media sources. That’s how much endowment money—to which your tuition contributes—is invested in climate change.
Combined, those companies hold more than 100 gigatons of carbon reserves. Prima facie, this sounds bad, but it comes out even worse if you think through the investment logic. The value of those companies—and therefore U of T’s return on investment—is dependant on those reserves being burned in their entirety. But that’s impossible, since it would result in catastrophic climate destabilization—a fact well-known, yet unacknowledged, by fossil fuel corporate executives. For those curious about Victoria’s stake in all this—which could be sizeable, give that it’s the wealthiest of all the colleges—you’re out of luck. I was unable to find any online resources outlining its non-real estate assets and investments, and student members of the Board of Regents stated that they had no concrete knowledge of fossil fuel investments. However, a number of members of the Victoria College community have claimed that the college may in fact own a small oil-field in Alberta, donated by an alumnus, out-right—though that’s pure speculation. These are questions that our administration must clarify. Students have a dual financial and
environmental stake here. The ethical murk of U of T profiting from dangerous changes in the Earth’s climate is obvious. It’s paradoxical to profess a mission of incubating the economy and society of tomorrow—by equipping students with knowledge and critical analysis skills—while funding said education with economic activity that undermines their environmental future. An educational institution should never compromise the future of its youth. In the wake of the divestment brief presentation, President Gertler announced the appointment of an Advisory Committee to study the issue and advise him on a course of action. Kudos to the President for that. I hope that the committee arrives at the decision that will best protect our finances, our planet, and our moral authority—for posterity’s sake. In other words, it’s time for U of T to divest.
JONAH LETOVSKY STAFF WRITER
DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE: THE TOPSY-TURVY WORLD OF MIDDLE-EASTERN REPRESENTATION
Meet Alice MacFarland, a 16-year-old, all-American girl and private school student. She’s smart, pretty, confident, and pretty confident with herself, despite the insecurities that most teenagers face. But here’s the thing: she is not your “typical” Westerner. She’s “half Arab”. Uh oh, plot twist! But don’t worry. She’s a rebellious girl, and so she isn’t too repressed as a result of her Saudi Arabian background, as some politically- incorrect people might be inclined to think. America has given her freedom, and all is well in her life—at least, until her parents get into a car crash. With a deceased mother and a father in a vegetative coma, Alice has no legal guardian to take care of her in the United States. She is therefore “kidnapped” and taken to Saudi Arabia by her maternal grandfather, and the leader of the country’s royal family. Her anti-Semitic relatives treat her poorly, referring to her as a “half Jew-loving monkey”, punishing her for being too “American” around the house and her “rebellious” past. Trapped in an oppressive wonderland where her powerful patriarchal grandfather constantly watches all the women in the royal household, Alice has no choice but to find some way of getting back to the land of the free Sadly, this isn’t just a made-up example of a story that is racist, Islamophobic and offensive. This is a plot of an actual pilot ordered by ABC Family, “playfully” titled Alice in Arabia, which caused quite a storm when online media outlet Buzzfeed got a hold of the script. According to Buzzfeed, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee asked ABC Family to withdraw their decision to pass the pilot. “Arabs are always portrayed as one of the ‘3 B’s’: billionaires, bellydancers, or bombers,” Abed Ayoub, legal director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, told Buzzfeed. “But with most problematic shows, there is always room for debate. With this particular show, there is none.” Even in the face of all common stereotypical tropes, which I, as someone who is of Middle Eastern descent and multi-cultural background, have unfortunately been associated with in the past—Alice in Arabia has brought stereotyping to a completely new level. Being represented as (please excuse my usage of strong language) a fucking jabberwocky, or any other creature from down the Carrollian rabbit hole, is something even I have never heard before. The show’s creator, Brooke Eikmeier claimed, via a post on a Facebook page, that “this show is meant to give Arabs and Muslims a voice on American TV.” But how is a show that relies on offensive, Orientalist tropes in any way liberating for Arab-Americans? Especially when the show pro-
AMANDA AZIZ FEATURES EDITOR
motes the idea that Arabs are the bad guys by forcing them into oversimplified stereotypes—such as being violent or anti-Semitic—and by envisioning the American melting pot as a bastion of freedom for the oppressed. Eikmeier is “giving a voice” to Arabs and Muslims by asking them to give up their own voices and culture. As someone with a Middle Eastern background, the idea of representation of me on TV is exciting, and something that I have been waiting forever since I first laid my eyes on a screen. How horrifying is it, when you finally get a chance to see a character that could represent you, to have that character fail you? ABC Family did eventually cancel production after realizing that maybe, just maybe, Alice in A rabia was discriminatory. But that doesn’t mean misrepresentation of Muslims and Middle Easterners is finally over in Hollywood. When was the last time you saw someone Muslim or of Middle Eastern descent, or someone who is Muslim, be nominated for an Emmy, Golden Globe, or Academy Award, and not for playing a role as one of the “3 B’s”? Being Middle Eastern and/or Muslim
is still “taboo” in the media. And if there actually were any real representation, the character would still have to justify their cultural background as a part of the storyline, so the viewers could make sense of the idea that someone who was not white was getting screen time. As Buzzfeed noted, while Alice struggles to keep up with the tyrannical demands in the royal Saudi Arabian household, the script mentions how “[she] turns even whiter, if that were possible.” By definition, any story is presented as a problem that needs to be solved. Apparently, the problem in Alice in A rabia, as well as in American TV shows and films in general, is being of Middle Eastern descent and/or Muslim. Hollywood and the Western media have gotten it wrong all along. The only problem about coming from a Middle Eastern or Islamic background is that you have to carry the burden of both pre-9/11 and post-9/11 stereotypes —ideas that people today still ignorantly and stubbornly perceive to be true. The Hollywood and the Western media are the problem, and it’s about time for more representation and less misrepresentation.
OUR MASTHEAD Editors-in-Chief
Patrick Mujunen Paula Razuri Blaire Townshend
Amanda Aziz Emily Pollock
Arts & Culture
Film & Music
Emily Deibert Olesya Lyuzna
Jade Bryan Sarah Crawley
Victoria Chuen Thomas Lu
Anthony Burton Rhianna Jackson-Kelso Eanna Morrison Barrs Lauren Van Klaveren
Contributors Eliana Stanislawski, Bahar Behrouzi, Jill Evans, Geoff Baille, Kevin Schenk, Annesta Duodu, Eric Leung
JUST THE USUAL Amanda Aziz FEATURES EDITOR Ford and Chow started the Toronto Mayoral Election Debate by going head to head against each other. Actually, there needs to be a switch of two words in that opening sentence: Chow and Ford started the Toronto Mayoral Election Debate by going head to head against each other. Much heated discussion and cringing from second hand embarrassment over past drunken stupors took place on March 26th, 2014, over live national television. Toronto was, and is, in need of a change— and has been for quite some time— and the whole world already knew it even before this election began. Do we even have to talk about last November? When it comes to transitioning, there is always the chance of being granted privacy during either the whole process, or everyone around knowing exactly what’s happening to you. Sometimes, on your journey to somewhere, you trip and fall down, and while getting back up you look around to only find yourself in the company of a passer-by who stopped to watch you take your involuntarily dose of cement. You desperately want to hide, but all you can do is just keep walking. But transitioning in an environment like a university campus seems next to impossible when all you’re trying to do is perfect yourself. There is graduate school to think of, your need of perfect grade to make you feel better about your other insecurities to worry about, and other goals, like getting that internship, that you’re just trying to achieve because everyone else is doing the same thing. You want to change, you want to be able to concentrate and improve your grades, and you want to be able to adapt to a cutthroat environ-
ment, but life isn’t happening for you. And you can’t study right now because there’s that thing tonight. You know, that thing that’s really important for your social life, because, oh god, what will happen when you graduate— will you have fewer and fewer opportunities to make connections with people? Where will your career go? Where will you fit in this overpopulated world? Stop. The Pixies have already sung it for you. Take time recollect your mind before it wanders away from you, and you ask yourself, where did it go? You might go into university thinking that you’ll want to continue on to graduate school, but you might end up having to leave it with the realization that your dream was a fallacy all along. Sometimes all of your plans are so stifling when taken together that ultimately, in order to move on, you have to let go of a few future aspirations. How funny is it that eight months ago, you were just trying to get the hang of getting back to school, and now you’re just getting the hang of leaving this place? The cycle never ends, does it? The moment you make yourself comfortable is the moment you need to start moving on to the next thing. You will always keep on transitioning— either heading on your way to rock bottom, or finally getting the hang of things (for now). But no one has to tell you where or what you’re transitioning to. If you allow change to happen, it will surely not be as drastic and horrific as you anticipate it to be. Also, it most certainly won’t have to be as messy as a political debate on live TV, either. Well, that’s a personal preference now, isn’t it?
Illustrations Sarah Crawley, Emily Pollock Cover Photo Victoria Chuen
The Strand has been the newspaper of record for Victoria University since 1953. It is published 12 times a year with a circulation of 2000 and is distributed in Victoria University buildings and across the University of Toronto’s St. George campus. The Strand flagrantly enjoys its editorial autonomy and is committed to acting as an agent of constructive social change. As such, we will not publish material deemed to exhibit racism, sexism, homo/trans*phobia, ableism, or other oppressive language. The Strand is a proud member of the Canadian University Press (CUP). Our offices are located at 150 Charles St. W., Toronto, ON, M5S 1K9. Please direct enquiries by email to email@example.com. Submissions are welcome and may be edited for taste, brevity, and legality.
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Patrick Mujunen • EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, 2011-2014 Three years as EIC later, here we are at last— “Finally!”, you might say—my last editorial as The Strand’s editor-in-chief. This job has a tendency to take a lot out of people (namely, one’s sanity, sobriety, and what was left of one’s academic career), but it’s also given me things like huge amounts of power and cash money, so I hope you’ll understand if I feel ten kinds of conflicted about finally peacing outta here. When I first got involved with The Strand years ago, I did so partly as a joke, partly to help out a friend of mine who was the EIC at the time (so in a way, Sophia, it’s all your fault) and spent most of my time doing the grunt work of production – exciting stuff like editing copy, fact-checking, chasing down attributions, and running coffee for the editors. This actually suited me just fine, since I never particularly liked writing for an audience, but enjoyed being a part of something that was considered vaguely “cool” at Vic, even if few people knew about us, and even fewer probably read the paper on a regular basis. When I first ran for EIC, it was on a platform of changing the institutional culture of The Strand from a douchey hipster rag to a progressive political outlet – one that would actually challenge the status quo instead of smugly re-affirming it. It was tough, and we certainly had some setbacks, but I think we’ve definitely taken steps in the right direction. One of the main advantages of campus journalism (definitely not the pay, though) is the lack of dependence on advertisers and subscriptions, which make it easier – and, I would argue, imperative – for publications to tackle controversial topics and act as agents of progressive social change. To quote some long-forgotten conference speaker, “This is the last time most of you will get to be your own bosses. Why not stir shit up while you have the chance?” In spite of holding down the dubious honour of longest-serving Strand EIC in living memory, I was
never really that into the idea of trying to crack into journalism – a field whose death knell is eagerly forecast year after year. After all the late hours, the stale coffees, the million cigarettes outside in the cold wondering, “Why the hell am I still doing this?” – I’d like to be able to say that it was all calculated; all part of some grand plan for getting ahead in life by making connections, building my human capital, leveraging my brand, or all the other vacuous crap that most student journalists I know are obsessed with. But the truth is, I’ve only stuck around at The Strand as long as I did because I fucking loved every minute of it, and for a long time it’s been one of the only things I’ve enjoyed doing. It may sound corny, but all I ever wanted was to put out a publication that I, our staff, and the Vic community could be proud of; one that actually stands for something beyond the venial handwringing and equivocation that dominates most of Canadian journalism. I’m not going to pretend that we’re perfect or amazing—far from it, which is why I love my coeditors to pieces: they’re around to bring me back round when I get a little too worked up (“Kill everyone now! Condone first degree murder! Advocate cannibalism! Eat shit! Filth are my politics! Filth is my life!”)—but it’s been incredibly uplifting to see the strides we’ve taken over the last few years as an institution. From being a campus punchline to being nominated for national student press awards, and being taken (semi-)seriously as a legitimate student publication, I feel like we might not be at the very bottom of the Canadian student press ladder anymore. And given the people that will be around next year, things can only get better from here. That’s why I need to take a whole bunch of space to thank everyone that I’ve been able to work with over the last few years – you guys made every second of it worthwhile, and working with you all has been the greatest privilege I could ever ask for. Too many names to mention, but I’d like to shout out my co-
EICs in years past – Fiona and Muna, you guys were an inspiration with your passion for progressive politics and ability to crank out incredible, radical editorials without breaking a sweat. Blaire: thank you for your meticulous attention to detail, for talking me through some of my most burnt-out moments, and for being such a calming influence in addition to all of your other commitments – how you’re able to pull it off, I’ll never understand. And Paula – thanks for letting me vent when things get rough, for picking up the slack when I’ve had to bail, and for being so committed to pushing the paper to the next level. Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my main girl Pauline, who was the most incredible co-editor and lifelong pal that I could have possibly hoped to have worked with – you were always my inspiration, and I still regret not amending the constitution to make us editors-for-life (KIDDING, everyone). Finally, thanks to Allie C. for holding the fort down for two years through sheer force of will, making us stick to our deadlines, being a pun/ headline MACHINE, and for taking the new kids under her wing and showing them the ropes. To everyone else who’s sticking around for next year (you know who you are): it’s been amazing to work with you and I couldn’t be happier about leaving the paper in your hands – I can’t wait to see what you guys do in the future. Remember, when all else fails, just track the shit out of the articles, steal lavishly from Flickr, and blame everything on the printers/the EICS/the devil, and you’ll be fine.
xo Pat 7
THE PATRIARCHY IS EVERYONE’S PROBLEM: MEN AND THE FEMINIST MOVEMENT
en’s Rights Activists are often vilified by radical feminists, who see them as being to gender what White Supremacists are to race: unnecessary and insulting. On the other hand, many men and even some feminists see these groups as a valuable forum for discussion, believing that the patriarchy can harm males too. As a feminist, my first reaction to the idea of “men’s rights” was laughter. Not because I want to make fun of men—it was the kind of laugh that comes out when you see something so unexpected that you can’t help find it funny. Men’s rights? I had to wonder: What rights could they possibly be missing out on? The right to a higher chance of getting raped? The right to get paid less than the opposite gender? The notion that men would need to meet in groups to discuss their supposed lack of rights seemed to me to be pointless at best, and potentially cause for great concern. This opinion may have come from the alarming proliferation of self-proclaimed Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) in the dark corners of the Internet, where sites like A Voice For Men preach about putting an end to “rape hysteria” and “feminist governance”. Though these MRAs claim to support equality for everyone, their ideology tends to be little more than thinly veiled misogyny. Given that the representation of MRAs online is far from appealing, I’ve come to dismiss anything that aims to discuss “men’s issues”. So when posters advertising a talk about “The War on Fathers” started popping up on campus, I can’t say I was too impressed. But I was curious about what exactly the “U of T Men’s Issues Awareness Society” might entail. The posters featured the URL for something called the “Canadian Association for Equality”. I’d never heard of this group, but they sounded a little less creepy than other MRAs. Some reading on the Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE) website told me that, despite specifically claiming they are “not anti-feminist”, one of CAFE’s areas of concern is “Academic Misandry”. The mission statement on their website carefully states that CAFE includes both men and women, and is specifically not a Men’s Right’s group…it is a human rights group that currently focuses on men’s rights. Alright, guys. Whatever
you say. More research revealed that, after a feminist protest at one of CAFE’s Uof T events last November, that bastion of impartial reporting that is A Voice For Men published an accusatory article featuring photos and personal information about one of the female protestors and calling her a bigot. Although CAFE claims to be unaffiliated with AVFM, their events are often featured on AVFM’s site, where an article by Dan Perrins compares protestors at the Toronto event to Nazis, describing feminism as “pure fascist Third Reich material”. Perrins went on to claim that feminists use all men as a scapegoat for their problems—I fail to understand how putting blame on feminists for men’s problems is any different, but maybe it’s just because I’m a man-hating fascist. Thinking my original judgment of MRAs had been justified, I told my boyfriend about the topic, and was surprised by his reaction. Rather than just responding, “Oh yeah, those guys sound whack,” he did a ton of research, and started challenging my opinion that guys have no place in feminist discourse. He pointed out that although men who vocally hate women while pretending to care about equality are terrible, there are also ladies who call themselves feminists but write off men as evil rape machines. Anyone who claims to fight for equality but acts hatefully towards another group is not a human rights activist, regardless of their gender or their label. It’s not fair to dismiss the views of all men just because some of them really suck. I didn’t want to accept this at first—when you’ve spent hours on the internet reading articles by guys who think feminists are as bad as Hitler, it’s easy to get defensive. As a girl who thinks dudes are cool and hates censorship, I always felt my version of feminism was fair and inclusive. But speaking to trusted guys about this particular issue made me realise that I was totally not open to male perspectives. Some asshole guys shouting through the megaphone of the Internet made me dismiss the possibility of positive male contribution to feminist discussion. “Men’s Rights” may have become a loaded term due to the backwards opinions of men behind websites like A Voice for Men, but men do
face gender-specific problems. According to Stats Can, the suicide rate for men in Canada is much higher than the rate for women. Data from the Canadian Council on Learning shows that men aged 20 to 24 are much more likely to drop out of school than women of the same age. American data from the Centre for Disease Control shows that a shocking 13% of boys are diagnosed with ADHD, compared to only 5% of girls. The great pressure our society puts on men to perform well in the professional sphere causes many men stress, as does the unrealistic expectation that “real men” are always emotionally stoic and physically strong. Despite Canadian progress in gay rights, gay men continue to face discrimination, and the struggles of trans*men—who are allocated no space within the Men’s Rights movement—are incredibly difficult. It is important to remember that feminism doesn’t aim to minimise the real problems that men face, it aims to achieve equality for all people. Men who claim to want the same while actively deriding women and blaming them for men’s problems are irrational misogynists. But this doesn’t make it okay to laugh at men interested in starting a discussion about men’s issues, or finding a place for men in the gender equality movement. Women should make an effort to make feminist spaces more open for respectful and interested men and trans* people, because their voices are an important part of the conversation about equality. A problem affecting everyone can’t be solved by only one part of society. After spending a lot of time speaking to male friends about feminism, I have come to realise that many guys are uncomfortable with feminism because (1) They’re concerned feminists are personally criticising them for being part of the patriarchy (2) They feel unwelcome in feminist spaces and don’t know how to start discussions about gender. This is a big problem, one that is probably at least partially fuelling the idiocy of websites like A Voice for Men. Active dialogue between men, women, and trans*people is necessary to solve our society’s gender problems. The gender norms of our society oppress everybody. The patriarchy keeps us all down—it’s everyone’s problem.
JILL EVANS STAFF WRITER
o try is to be terrified. Putting yourself out there, your true self, and not some representation that you’ve observed and studied, is the single most terrifying thing any human can do. A try from the heart and not the head leaves the heart to hurt—and unlike a try from the head, which can dismiss its failure with a simple “I guess I did it wrong this time”, a try from the heart has to face the rejection of itself. Blaise Pascal once said “The heart has its reasons which reason cannot know”, and without the crutch of reason the heart is left open, pulsating and exposed in the air of its own wants. What does this have to do with the social phenomenon of pickup artistry? A whole lot. The pickup artist movement promises gold to those who seek it: the undying hunger of another, attention at the snap of a finger, a scripted pole to vault over the hump of virginity. As an incredibly frustrated fourteen year old, I dabbled with the PUA’s version of the bible, a book called ‘The Game’ by Neil Strauss. It documents the author’s attempt to reinvent himself as an alpha male, the type of person who can squeeze out anything he wants from another person. He does this by attending classes run by a man who gives himself the pseudonym Mystery. Over the course of the book, Strauss goes from overweight, balding and socially anxious to fit, flirtatious and overbudding with (evidence-backed) confidence. What’s interesting about this isn’t that such a person exists, but that such a person can exist deliberately and by choice. When charm is manufactured by seminars and classes, is it charisma or manipulation? I asked the purveyors of TDot Pickup, Toronto’s local pickup artist community, some questions about the services they offer. The answers that I got, underneath the pretenses that the PUA profession throws up, seemed to be less about the act of objectifying and amassing phone numbers and more focused on building the confidence of those who signed up. They center around a “holistic approach” to building confidence, with the assumption that all that is desired will follow. Considering the negativity associated with many elements of the PUA market, all of my questions were seemingly answered with an approach that was centred more on curing the
social anxiety common to many who resort to these sorts of things. To be taken with a grain of salt, for sure—but as a mission, seemingly noble. The horror stories that crop up in discussion of PUAs illustrate a culture of misogyny, cluelessness, and flat-out disregard for social convention. An uproar occurred a little while ago with PUAs trolling the Eaton Centre food court, approaching girls with canned lines at a rate of two rejections a minute. An invasion of privacy, surely. But anyone who can be convinced that the donning of a fedora and feather boa (two staples of the technique of ‘peacocking’) to go out to a food court, midday, to randomly approach girls is a good idea probably isn’t a paragon of smart decisions. The entire logic behind using repeated routines and even magic tricks to convince someone to sleep with you is immediately objectifying, as it’s not even a two-way conversation. One can go online to any given PUA forum and find routines written out, word for word, to use in different settings—groups of people in a club, waitresses, even in class. These routines are geared towards achieving certain things, things with their own PUA “lingo”. These include routines to DHV (Display Higher Value); neg (a backhanded compliment); or to achieve ‘kino’ (referring to Kinesthetics, a pseudoscience explaining the ins and outs of how human contact builds rapport). There’s many more, but these examples give reference to the broader idea: that the darker sides of this movement have social interaction boiled down to a science, and a perfectable one at that. When we examine how PUA techniques are marketed, it’s easier to pinpoint where the resultant misogyny that is often a part of so many practitioners’ ideologies comes from. PUA techniques often promise the world to those who need them, the socially-challenged subjects finding the guide to getting what they think is the solution to their problems. Armed with a guidebook of techniques, the subject doesn’t need to worry about what they would say next: it’s already all there, typed onto a forum, guidebook, or scribbled in their seminar notes somewhere. The rejection of personal responsibility that resorting to these techniques facilitates is exactly what would seemingly absolve a person of accepting that it’s their fault they didn’t
work. As it’s marketed as a science with females as the target, it’s easy to see how any deviance from how things are supposed to work could be rationalized on the part of the PUA as a flaw in the target. This is obviously the peril of objectifying someone, yet it’s exactly what happens when things don’t go as the PUA planned (and as the system promised them). In short, the objectification inherent in these techniques not only invalidates the agency of the targets, but the techniques themselves and what they promise are just a bubble whose bursting releases a gas that clouds the judgment of the actor (used here in both senses of the term). This comes back to the fear inherent in putting oneself out there. By hiding behind these techniques, one doesn’t have to accept any personal responsibility for things not working out the way they’re “supposed” to. This is a pleasant shield from the pain of rejection, but it also is personally fruitless on the part of the PUA: seeking out and using these techniques in the first place ultimately keeps them from getting any sense of personal approval, as the techniques serve the persona that’s fabricated and not the person who sought them out originally. That’s why, in the vein of TDot Pickup, a “holistic approach to confidence” isn’t necessarily evil: it’s encouraging the person inside to be themselves, not to be someone else. If what ails a person in the first place that drives them to pickup artistry is a sense of loneliness and anxiety, learning how to become someone else isn’t going to solve that. Teaching someone how to come out of their shell and present their best self is a laudable thing, and some people who purport themselves to be PUA teachers are committed to doing just that. The problem with much pickup artistry is that it teaches how to get the love of others and not your own—but buried somewhere underneath the mud of the misogyny is a mission to make people less anxious and more self assured. There’s no salvaging anybody’s humanity when a system to trump it is being followed, but there becomes more humanity to salvage when someone’s encouraged to come out of their shell and anxieties. Nobody wins when the magic of life loses out to the science of magic.
ANTHONY BURTON EDITORIAL ASSISTANT
THE PICKUP GAME: THE STRANGE WORLD OF PICKUP ARTISTS
THE LAST CHAPTER
FLICKR: SIMEON PASHLEY
local bookstores close their doors
ANTHONY BURTON EDITORIAL ASSISTANT The World’s Biggest Bookstore, by name but not technicality, is shutting down at the end of the month. It joins the shuttering of Book City in the Annex as an object of mourning for Toronto’s bibliophiles. The mourning period for Book City had not lasted long before it was announced that Coles had sold the World’s Biggest Bookstore property. Although there are other Book City locations around the city, the Annex’s was a favourite for students as a place to idly browse for a couple of hours after class. As for the World’s Biggest Bookstore, I have fond memories of thinking it was true to name from when I was a young tourist of Toronto. While there is actually a Barnes & Noble twice its size in New York, The World’s Biggest Bookstore’s size and quirky selections—from wall displays devoted to Shakespeare, to wall displays devoted to only the campiest of erotica— made it a staple attraction at Yonge and Dundas, along with the late Sam the Record Man. We can look to a couple of causes for the simultaneous closures of two book stores of vastly different sizes. Many bookworms are quick to demonize the e-book, possibly for lacking many of the qualities that make reading books a special experience, like the smell of the pages or the quickness with which a book becomes one’s own with notes scribbled in the margins. The effects of Amazon’s devouring of the book market have manifested in a number of ways; just look at Chapters-Indigo’s move towards becoming a lifestyle store in an attempt to keep
themselves afloat. However, and at the risk of this sentence sounding like an advertorial, e-books offer a number of advantages over physical texts. For example, many classics with expired copyrights are available for free courtesy of Project Gutenberg and other, similar initiatives. As well, those e-books that aren’t free are often much cheaper than regular books. Without having to factor in any costs related to physical distribution, anybody with a cell phone or laptop (read: everybody) can gain access to these texts for much less than they would be sold for in print. E-books also circumvent many tricks that publishers play to keep afloat; for example, slight alterations in edition with which students are all too familiar when it comes to buying textbooks, and which are essentially pointless when there is no physical resale market to stay on top of. These and other publishing and sale conventions that e-books have made irrelevant can be seen as possible causes for the rising difficulties faced by the book selling business, and it’s no wonder that Chapters-Indigo have diversified their content in order to keep themselves relevant. (Starbucks coffee, anyone? How about some Lego while we’re at it?) The ways in which e-books have damaged the business of traditional retail bookstores is mirrored by everybody’s new favourite bookstore, BMV. It’s no coincidence that our two late bookstores are within spitting distance of this discount bookstore. What BMV does, as any-
one who’s gleefully purchased a copy of a $60 hardcover art book for $19.99 (Merry Christmas, mom!), is just as damaging to the business of traditional book retailers as the e-book is. BMV doesn’t simply purchase their stock directly from publishers for marked value; in fact, very little of what they purchase is acquired that way. They mostly do their business through buying and reselling used books (as the shrine-like “Buying Centre” in the Annex implies), as well as through publisher’s second-runs. This is the formula behind their ability to delight students and bookworms alike with their low prices— when was the last time you saw a book at BMV adorned without their discount price sticker? All of this hurts the publishing industry—at least as it’s currently formatted. Resale of books does not benefit anyone except for the secondmarket purchaser, and last-runs of books, which BMV also specializes in, are often just liquidation for the purposes of freeing up room in a stockroom. In other words, the publisher isn’t exactly pulling a profit. In this way, the secondhand book is much like the e-book, only it completely undercuts the market for publishers and the new authors they publish, instead of simply changing the game. The goal here isn’t to offer an argument or ideology, just an explanation. But in order to be a conscious consumer—to know where what you like enough to spend your money on comes from—it’s important to know the power of your own purchase.
STUDY OR DIE
on the pros of exam TLC
Aim to be like the stock photo— assured, confident, and forever smiling FLICKR: COLLEGE DEGREES 360 AMANDA AZIZ FEATURES EDITOR It’s a lifestyle choice, stationing oneself at Robarts, EJ Pratt, Kelley, or any library at the nearest convenience. Rushing back and forth frantically to find a free spot to study in, only to hole up in said study space until x amount of papers and number of pages for readings are complete. At this point, bleak fluorescent lighting now involuntarily replaces natural daylight, and talking to friends instead of studying is a questionable act. Once finals and exams season begins, being a functioning human being becomes a thing of the past. Instead, students descend into their human subtype-slash-stereotype that only TV Executives, Filmmakers, Authors, and that posse of Baby Boomers seem to have the “right” to laugh at. The rest of us are too busy crying. The famous finals lifestyle consists of animal-like do or die (or breakdown) behaviour, such as pulling out hair, biting nails, having stress-ridden conversations about studies, and usual library behaviour dosed with a heavy amount of neurosis. Seeing a person getting their sleep in less-than-traditional quarters doesn’t require a double take: all of this is the norm here. Everyone’s sleep deprived or overcaffeinated at this dreadful time of the school year. Although study culture is a rite of passage for the typical bloodshot-eyed university student, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to be an act of suffering. In university, studying can’t be avoided; studying is a part of the process of getting a degree. All of us understand that. However, the very act of studying can be stress-free.
Here’s a fact that is easily forgettable, but necessary to remember: no one is alone. That student sitting in the next study space to you in the library is also freaking over burning out and not being able to pump out a few hundred words left for that essay that was due two days ago. Getting sleep, eating your recommended amount of vegetables and fruits per day, and drinking water to avoid dehydration are common knowledge for staying intact. But sometimes, the obvious just doesn’t cut it for when things seem like they’re falling apart. Firstly, the idea of “competition” needs to be done away with. There is no winning and losing when it comes to being in school. The academic process is supposed to be about trying new fields out, and seeing what works for you. Comparison between who has done more allnighters, and who is smarter due to the 4.0 GPA versus your 3.5 won’t get anyone anywhere. Everyone has a different set of circumstances in their life that got them to the place that they are in right now, and the topic of intelligence and worthiness for being at this institution is irrelevant to that. This environment needs mistakes and failures. In the end, is anyone winning if they did a slew of all-nighters in a row and haven’t talked to their friends in a week? No one should applaud someone for that, but instead ask, “hey, how have you been doing lately?” The idea of taking a break needs to be viewed more positively within this study culture. Relaxing should not equate with slacking off. Who said that having high blood pressure is
a sign of a high IQ anyway? Time off from work will benefit you in the end. After all, your mind and body are like batteries that need recharging from time to time. And there are plenty of ways to recharge, such as listening to a song or two, and then getting back to work, or stretching and taking a brief (or long) walk, and rediscovering how the things that surround you are unique and beautiful. Or talk to friends, and remember your responsibility as one: be there for them and let them be there for you. Don’t forget who you were before you were assigned that 10-page paper. There’s a need for acceptance when it comes to breaking out of the typical study culture. Let’s say that there is nothing wrong with getting help, and getting help is the complete opposite of giving up (help should be equated with hope). Admitting that you can’t do this alone, or that you have no clue what you’re doing can save you from bringing more burdens onto yourself. Need that extension? Ask for it, and explain your reasons. Feeling too anxious, or have been troubled with the idea of getting out of bed? There are resources in and out of campus that can provide you with relief. Can’t read or write anymore? It’s okay, just give yourself time to get back on track. Your mind is just as important as your body. Take care of it gently. Especially at this time of the year, when you need it the most. Also, for the rest of your life—that’s kind of something important to consider for yourself.
FLICKR/ RICHARD LEMARCHAND
WES ANDERSON’S STYLE OVER SUBSTANCE GEOFF BAILLE STAFF WRITER Wes Anderson’s latest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, hit theatres in early March. Despite garnering overall high praise, detractors are making the same criticism that has tagged every Anderson film since his 1998 breakout classic, Rushmore— that the film is cheapened by the deliberate emphasis of style over substance. The stylistic idiosyncrasies that permeate Anderson’s filmography are on full display with Budapest Hotel: the demarcation of scene changes with Futura typeface subtitles, the excessive use of props, the strict adherence to a tri-tone colour palette, and a level of symmetrical exactness in the compositionality of each shot that is indicative of obsessive compulsion on the part of the filmmaker. Any given frame in a Wes Anderson film could be taken as a page in a vividly-illustrated picture book. Anderson draws less from Hollywood tradition and more from the European school of auteur filmmaking. For a filmmaker to be considered auteur, they need to have a distinctive personal vision that is reflected in unique stylistic quality, Anderson’s being the gorgeous two-dimensionality of his visual aesthetic. But what American critics have been so adamant in pointing out is how the characters in Anderson’s films come across as being equally
two-dimensional, like props in an extravagant set piece. It’s true that Anderson’s characters tend to feel more like caricatures than real people; they say things that real people don’t say, they wear vintage clothing, and they are exceptionally dry in their personality and demeanour. But to say that these characters and their interactions lack emotional content would be to overlook a theme that is central to almost all of Anderson’s films; that of the redemptive father figure. More often than not, Anderson’s films reach a climax with a father figure redeeming himself with an act of heroism. I’ll provide a few examples (spoilers abound): the insensitive Royal Tenenbaum risking his life to protect his grandchildren from a drunk driver, the narcissistic Steve Zissou reaching a protective arm across his estranged son in the midst of a helicopter crash, the neglectful Mr. Fox launching a neighbourhood-wide effort to rescue his kidnapped child. When critics point out the European qualities of Anderson’s films and criticize his precedence of style over substance, they are providing the subtextual criticism that his films simply aren’t American enough. This is probably why Anderson is continually snubbed by the Academy Awards in favour of
filmmakers like David O’ Russell, whose films tend to serve as indictments of American socioeconomic issues like corruption in politics, football fanaticism, and income inequality. But critics have been continually oblivious to the fact that, despite his obsession with European aesthetic, Anderson has spent his entire career paying tribute to a distinctively American theme. The concept of redemption and new beginnings has been ingrained in the American ethos since the Mayflower pilgrims hit Plymouth Rock, putting centuries of religious persecution behind them as they began to build new lives for themselves. The concept of redemption is what gives emotional weight to canonized works of American literature like The Scarlet Letter, or films like On the Waterfront. Perhaps Anderson’s decision to set a film outside of America for the first time with Budapest Hotel was his way of saying that he has given up on winning over American critics. The film is Anderson’s most aesthetically beautiful to date, and it might also be his most thoughtful and emotionally resonant. Maybe by the time that next year’s awards season comes around, critics will come to their senses and decided to give Anderson the credit that he deserves.
FINDING VIVIAN MAIER
THE FILM BEHIND THAT OLD BOX OF NEGATIVES KEVIN SCHENK (CUP) EDMONTON Finding Vivian Maier is as much about photography as it is about one man’s search for the person who took them. Vivian Maier was an unusual photographer. She worked for about 40 years from 1956 as a nanny in Chicago. During that time, she created a visual record of the city and its citizens through street photography, a style commonly described as candid documentary photography. But what makes her unusual is her choice to keep the photos to herself instead of sharing them with the world. The film begins as photographer John Maloof buys a box of Vivian Maier’s photos at an auction house across the street from his home. The photos only cost him $380, but he soon realizes they’re worth much more when he begins scanning the negatives and sees the quality of the work. He posts the photos to a blog, which quickly blows up. When large modern art museums reject his offers for exhibits, Maloof decides to investigate Maier’s story on his own. Buying more boxes of her film and various artifacts, he begins a quest to find out the unknown street photographer’s origins. The beginning of the film drags a bit if you’re even a bit familiar with Maier’s story. Since the
documentary wasn’t in the works at this point, a significant part of the exposition features Maloof speaking about what happened prior to filming. While his voice isn’t unpleasant to listen to, there are a few uninspired, straight-on shots of him speaking directly into the camera in his green apartment reminiscent of YouTube vlogs. Luckily, these are broken up by interviews with experts like award-winning photographer Joel Meyerowitz, as well as cuts to Maier’s photos, which show us the importance of her work. The film picks up when the introduction ends and Maloof’s search begins. The film’s premise gives it the potential to be a self-indulgent exercise by Maloof to push his own popularity instead of finding out why Maier lacked it. Fortunately, the film remains focused on her throughout. Many of the now-adult children she nannied are interviewed, with visual cuts to the photos they discuss. Seeing the visual proof alongside the interviews gives the documentary more credibility and it’s a great way to show photographs in a film. Pleasant ambient music ties the film together, always matching the mood of the film. Maier’s sense of humour comes out in her photographs
and audiotapes, and keeps the film generally lighthearted. The interviewees’ stories are often funny too, but there’s a tragic side to Maier. Her MaryPoppins-with-a-camera image takes a hit when Maloof discovers a darker side to her childcare methods. And although a concrete conclusion is never reached, clues point to a not-so-positive origin for Maier’s artistic motives. It’s easy to be skeptical of the Vivian Maier story with all of the hype surrounding the film, in both the photography community and in popular culture—the film’s Kickstarter campaign raised $100,000, much more than its $20,000 goal. But Finding Vivian Maier manages to show the importance of her photographs while revealing the quirky, mysterious photographer behind them. The film is less about her photography than it is about the woman behind the lens, but that should expand the appeal to it beyond just photographers. One of the interviewees tells Maloof, “I wish I could have found these negatives instead of you.” It leads one to wonder how many other Vivian Maiers are out there, just waiting to be discovered in old boxes full of negatives.
ON YOUR MARK, GET SWEATY, GO
A PREVIEW OF 2014’S SUMMER MUSIC FESTIVALS ANNESTA DUODU Spring may have just begun, but music lovers around Canada are already thinking ahead to summer and the annual music festivals that come with it. Multiple music and arts festivals take place during this season, with their focus ranging from jazz and blues to folk. As bigger festivals like Osheaga and NXNE (North by Northeast), as well as the newer outdoor music festival TURF (Toronto Urban Roots Fest), begin to release their line-ups, this summer’s festivals are shaping up to be a hit. One of the most popular Canadian festivals is the Osheaga Music and Arts Festival. Since 2006, Osheaga has been dedicated to showcasing both well-known and emerging local and national artists through music and visual arts, providing an overall amazing experience. So far, it doesn’t look like this year will disappoint. Osheaga will once again take place at the Parc Jean-Drapeau on Île Sainte-Hélène in Montreal from August 1 to 3. Tickets can be bought as 3-day passes, which range from $250 to $950. Osheaga is known to feature some of the industry’s biggest names, with artists such as Coldplay, The Killers, Arcade Fire, Mumford & Sons, and Ellie Goulding having performed in previous years. With this great track record in mind, fans waited expectantly for Osheaga to release their line-up on
March 11, 2014, and so far it looks to be promising. Some of this year’s headliners are American hiphop duo Outkast, English indie rockers Arctic Monkeys, and New Zealand singer-songwriter Lorde, as well as Jack White, Skrillex, and Foster the People. Other performers include Local Natives, The Temper Trap, Pusha T, Serena Ryder, and Kodaline. As the festival is known for releasing more artists closer to date, festival-goers are excited to see what else Osheaga has in store for them. With over 135,000 attendees at last year’s festival, those who decide to go are sure to have a great time. Another popular music and arts festival is the North by Northeast festival, which takes place annually at multiple venues in Toronto. NXNE will be celebrating its 20th anniversary from June 13 to 22 through music, film, comedy, and art. Tickets, which come in the form of badges and wristbands, range from $25 to $599, depending on the type of events you plan to attend. With 350,000 people in attendance over the course of the 2013 NXNE festival, one of the highlights was the free concert held at Yonge-Dundas Square for the Grammy-nominated indie rock band The National. With former headliners including Billy Talent, Ludacris, k-os, and Bad Religion, this year’s line-up is looking to be just as great. NXNE
2014 will feature artists such as St. Vincent, Juicy J, Goat, Spiritualized, Rhye, Danny Brown, Mac Demarco, Spoons, as well as Canadian folk quartet The Barr Brothers and English post-punk band Eagulls. More artists are to be announced at a later date. While Osheaga and NXNE are known for their ecclectic line-ups, the Toronto Urban Roots Festival primarily features indie rock, country, and folk musicians. Produced by Collective Concerts, Eggplant Entertainment, Lee’s Place, and Buffalo’s Funtime Presents, the second annual TURF will take place from July 4 to 6 at the historical Fort York Garrison Commons. 44 bands are set to perform over the course of the festival with artists such as Neutral Milk Hotel, Sam Roberts Band, Beirut, and Steve Earle set to be in attendance. Performers from TURF 2013 include She & Him, Arkells, and The Hold Steady. Summer may seem to be in the distant future, but with the increasing number and variety of music and arts festivals taking place in Canada, those looking to have a great festival experience won’t be disappointed. More information about tickets and the line-ups for Osheaga, NXNE or TURF can be found on their websites.
Get ready for festival sing-alongs by making your own versions of these popular hits. Accuracy not recommended.
PAULA RAZURI EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
, all the PERSON
at me, I’ll PLURAL NOUN
. But mighty ADJECTIVE
only got you
I’ve ever NOUN
, was born with VERB (PAST)
in her PLURAL NOUN
’s like, NOUN
-ing in the VERB
MARTEL WITH MALINOWSKI An Interview with Jay Malinowski of Bedouin Soundclash
fects where you are, maybe history affects you as a person, but in the end, I think it is always the feeling with whatever you are and doing the best you can, as opposed to worrying about where you are in the world.
ERIC LEUNG The story of Martel, told in the new album of the same name by Jay Malinowski and The Deadcoast, is the culmination of sounds and inspirations of a life of ten years on tour. Named after his greatgrandfather, who was lost at sea in 1869, Martel is Malinowski’s telling of a crossing of oceans to a place that is here—the story of his great-grandfather being carried, through Malinowski, to a time that is now. Inspired by personal reflections dating back to the days of Bedouin Soundclash, Malinowski was preoccupied with a basic question many musicians fear: where does it all go? Wondering where the last ten years of his life on the road as a musician had gone, Malinowski asked himself, “If these decisions in our life are based upon our own self-determination...or is it a pattern, or circumstance?” Reflecting on the time since his break with Bedouin, now riding waves of success with the release of the second album with his new band, The Deadcoast, Malinowski found himself dealing with a sort of postpartum depression. “When you finish a project, you get a fear that you’re never going to be able to do it again,” he commented. Challenged to create yet another album to channel this creative anxiety, the existentialist mystery of Martel is revealed through a collection of notes written by Malinowski’s grandfather. The theme of timelessness is driven through the raw, black and white visuals of the album. Accompanied by a sound that takes the listeners upon a trip from the Pacific to the Atlantic, we are invited for an 18song danse macabre of indie, acoustic, retro, string quartet, and piano ragtime mash-ups. Intrigued by his work, I sat down with Jay Malinowski and asked him a few questions about Martel.
Eric Leung: So tell me about the choice of artwork. How does it relate to the themes of personal growth and change you are trying to communicate with this album? Jay Malinowski: Visually on the album, the first side of the copy is me, but when you flip to the back it is of a family friend that served in the Merchant Navy in the late ‘50s/early ‘60s, who actually got me into reggae. So here is what we thought of the story of young and old Martel, going between Pacific and Atlantic with a visual timeline. EL: The music videos featuring songs from your new album, “Patience Phipps” and “The Tall Shadow from Saint-Malo”, were both shot in black and white. Was there any reason for this choice in visuals in connection with the kind tones for Martel you wanted to create? JM: We do want to keep everything consistent visually to the album. Obviously, black and white has a very historic feel to it. It kind of keeps it modern, yet it could be from somewhere else, and I think that relates to the mindset of Martel. When I first saw the ocean, one of the first things that inspired me was the way garbage could wash up on shore, but really be these Japanese fishing lanterns from two hundred years ago. I thought of how this was such a strange way of bending time in the ocean, how vast it could be, and the idea of how things could be lost in time. EL: What kind of message do you want to bring into the world with your album? JM: That situation will change. Maybe history af-
EL: So how do the sounds of the album relate to all the underlying themes you are trying to communicate with your audience? JM: Well, that’s why I wanted to work with a strings section. The keyword we used was ‘colonial classical’, using a strings section which I though had a very old-world feel to it, connecting to the past of Martel, but then updating it. All the songs we tried to sound out what the feelings we thought were to be evoked, whether it was the type of drum sounds from “Meet Me at the Gate” and the scales found in “Cool Ruler”, then going through to New Orleans jazz with clips of the Caribbean. EL: So tell me about your writing process. How do you work your magic? JM: Sometimes I may be reading something, sometimes the melody just comes. With “Patience Phipps”, I was reading her name on a page and thought that it was such a cool name to build a story around. It comes differently sometimes—put a few chords together and find something that evokes some lyrical content. I usually have a direction and something that I am working towards. EL: Jay, our time is almost up, so I have one last question for you. What musician, dead or alive, would you want to have dinner with? “Joe Strummer,” he answered without hesitation. Experience the journey of a young Martel, embarking upon an adventure from the Pacific to the Atlantic, rife with questions about his relation to the world. Approaching the opposite end of the coastline, his quizzical nature is contracted upon encountering an older version of himself, entering into an interior concern about who he is, what it is to be, and what he might become. How willing the listener is to undertake this maritime adventure created by Malinowski and The Deadcoast is dependent upon the pirate spirit within him or her. The salty taste of an ocean expedition is not for the faint of heart, but is inevitably an undertaking all will have to face, like Malinowski and his ancestors before him, grimly with a grizzled beard.
Cameltoe: Ten Years Later AMANDA AZIZ
I was ten years old, and didn’t know any better, I read YM (now defunct) and Seventeen as an anthropological experiment on what the typical Paris-Hilton-Nicole-Ritchie-Tabloid-Heiress-Idoliz ing-Vo c alFr y-Talking-Sidekick-Texting teenager of the year of 2004 would be wearing. Actually, though, I read those magazines because, at that time, I believed that I was three years too advanced from my actual age. Somehow, from the moment I hit that double-digit age, I thought that I needed to star t blindly prepping myself for the patriarchy like ever y other good, chaste girl out there in the world. You see, I thought I was ready for that, taking suggestions on ever ything from what to wear to what to listen to, but when it came to stumbling upon this Brooklyn trio called Fannypack, and listening to their underrated hit “Cameltoe”?
Donald Car tagena could not even bring himself to burn an audiocassette tape of this highly esteemed work of shit. Time to renew that ten-year-old curse, huh? Here are the top three Fannypack songs (in no par ticular order—you can’t rate this shit): Cameltoe: There’s no better way to show concern than to say, “I could see her uterus!” and, “Is your crotch hungr y, girl? ‘Cuz it’s eating your pants.” Laugh all you want, but this trio just wants you to know that you should “fix yourself” before you wreck yourself.
Seven-One-Eight: According to the most reliable source in the world, Wikipedia, this song was featured in the opening of that film no one cares about, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry. Or maybe I was ten years old, but fuck, I wasn’t people do care about these kind of films. The Strand’s last attempt at characterizing the sound of Fannypack, ca. 2003. ready for that. Have you watched the film Chuck & Larry? Apparently it has Adam Sandler That was the first time I got trolled by a band not troll ever yone?” And so I did act like one, bein it. I remember in first year I would (Nickleback doesn’t count, they professionally cause the moment I hit play, Stephenson House taunt people with my Adam Sandler impressions. do that). So “Cameltoe” was my dir ty secret for (the location of the old Strand office) was filled I actually wrote this piece just to mention that I years until 2012, after growing out of reading with horrified stares. went through an Adam Sandler impression phase. magazines that lauded societal conventions, and, I hate myself. you know, no longer wanting to prep myself for Apparently, I awoke a ten-year curse of the the patriarchy. At that time I, a first-year student “Cameltoe” because, after scarring my peer Booty Cologne: This song ain’t a hoot, but a toot. at Victoria College, Uof T, joined The Strand as an masthead members, one of the current Edi- But seriously, don’t listen to this song. Ever y time Editorial [Ass]istant, and was asked during pro- tor-In-Chiefs of the newspaper, Pat, found a ten- someone plays the song, an innocent human beduction if I had any music suggestions. I thought, year-old review of Fannypack’s album, So Sty- ing dies from far ting. “Well, today I feel like being an asshole, so why listic, in The Strand archives. Poor, non-existent
Apartment Hunting Woes EMILY DEIBERT So you’ve decided to move out of res, or out of your parents’ house. You’ve got a group together and you’re all set to find the perfect house. Everything’s going to be great, right? Wrong—and here’s why. Ads without pictures. I mean, even a crappy camera-phone picture would be nice. Even if it’s just one of the hallway or something. At least show me that there’s, you know, an actual apartment there. That I’m not coming in to view a dungeon in your basement, or your mom’s bedroom closet, or the shed in your backyard. Anything at all would be nice. Ads with bullshit pictures. It’s a step up from not including any at all, but come on: we can all tell when you’re using fancy lenses to make the room
look bigger than it really is. Even worse is when it’s just a picture of the outside of the building taken off Google or something. Sure, it’s nice to know that the building exists, but seeing a picture of the actual room would be helpful. Landlords that say their apartments are downtown when they really aren’t. Sure, walking from Bathurst and Queen to campus every day would suck, but at least that’s in the realm of being “close to campus”. But Kipling station? That is not “ten minutes from the University of Toronto”. It’s not even ten minutes by TTC. You can repeat it in your ad as many times as you want, but that’s not going to change the fact that that’s a long way out of downtown. “Call for details regarding price”. If you’re not
going to be up front about how much you want, you’re probably not in my price range. And I’m not wasting a phone call to find out. This: “Hi. The apartment is $600 per month, all-inclusive. Unfortunately I am not in Toronto at the moment as I have just secured a job in the UK, which means I will be renting my apartment out for a long time while I work here. I am sorry that you cannot view the interior, but if you send me your payment now I will mail the key to you by express and you can move in as soon as you want. Unfortunately the keys are here with me so you will have to send the money in advance.” Uh, yeah, right. Does anyone actually ever fall for these?
WE KANT STOP OLESYA LYUZNA
It was April 30, the last day of finals. Worn out by desperate, caffeine-fueled all-nighters and frantic, last-minute study sessions, we decided to celebrate our release with a bang. There were four of us: Fred, Angelica, Sandra*, and myself; we bought enough alcohol for a group twice as big. Sitting on the floor of Sandra’s dorm room, we reveled in our newfound freedom, downing shot after shot of tequila. But there’s only so much drinking you can do without getting bored, so after our fifth round of shots, we started looking for something that could make that night truly memorable. “Hey, what’s this?” shouted Angelica, wobbling slightly as she blew the dust off what looked like some kind of old board game. When she shook the box, a wooden board fell out of it, followed by some sort of odd magnifying glass. Sandra smiled knowingly. “It’s a – hic! – Ouija board,” she said, “It was super popular in, like, the ‘90s. My older sister passed it on to me.” She paused. “It’s for talking to spirits.”
At this, we all laughed, fueled both by disbelief and inebriation. We were all sensible university students. We didn’t b e -
lieve in ghosts. No one quite remembered how we got around to it, but several minutes later we were all sitting around the board, fingers lingering on the magnifying glass (which Sandra called a planchette), solemn aside from the occasional drunken giggle. Sandra was acting as medium, her voice intense as she asked if there was anyone in the room with us. For a minute, nothing happened. Then, slowly, steadily, the planchette moved to ‘Yes’. Startled, we looked at each other to determine who was doing it. But, somehow, everyone looked equally alarmed. “What is your name?” Sandra asked, her eyes focused on the board. Once again, the planchette started moving, as if of its own accord. Slowly, it spelled out…C-UN-T. Before we had the chance to ponder the story behind this spirit’s evidently foul upbringing, however, it was moving again: K-U-N-T. Once more, it was moving furiously, finally managing to correctly spell out a name that was all too familiar to Fred, the only philosophy major in the group. K-A-N-T. Somehow, this version seemed to unsettle him more than the previous two. “Oh no, not this guy,” he groaned. “I got, like, a 65 on my Kant essay, and I worked so hard on it. He makes everything so unnecessarily complex!” As soon as the words left Fred’s mouth, the planchette picked up speed again, flying across the board so quickly that we could barely tell what it was trying to say. But the message was clear: “One who makes himself a worm cannot complain afterwards if people step on him.” We stared, aghast, at the eerie board resting beneath our fingers. The alcohol seemed to have worn off. Fred’s face turned white, and he looked at us accusingly. “Which
one of you is doing this?” he almost yelled. “This isn’t funny!” The mild April evening suddenly seemed chilly, and we were all evidently unsettled. Voicing everyone’s thoughts, Sandra said shakily, “We would like to say goodbye now,” addressing the ghostly philosopher’s spirit. However, it seemed reluctant to leave, moving the planchette insistently to ‘No’. “Why not?” Sandra whispered. After a moment’s hesitation, the planchette started moving again. “What can I know? What ought I to do? What can I hope?” it asked, gliding feverishly from letter to letter. It was well on its way to a revelation, but suddenly the spirit’s rhetoric was cut short by Fred, who tipped over the Ouija board, sending the planchette flying towards the long-forgotten bottle of tequila. It sure looked like our séance was over. We didn’t quite know what to make of that night. Fred made us swear not to tell anyone about the night Kant dissed him, but we didn’t really want to refresh the memory of this supernatural experience anyway. The moral of the story? By the fifth round of shots, people start making bad decisions. So unless you want to be mocked by a famous philosopher, try to stick to only one kind of spirit. *names have been altered to deter evil spirits
Everyone knows how it is with shots: the first round renders knock-knock jokes hilarious, while the third has everyone spilling their darkest secrets. By the fifth, people start making bad decisions. I guess that’s what turned our jolly end-of-the-year celebration into an eerie ghost story that we would never again discuss, exchanging nothing but ominous looks whenever anyone mentioned the day in passing.
Published on Apr 13, 2014