ISSUE 68.07 KEVIN O’BRIEN
MICHAEL MERMELSTEIN email@example.com Music Editor
Comics Editor Culture Editor
Actor, Grunion Editor Art Director/Cover
Assistant Art Director/Cover
Head Illustrator Photo Editor/Cover
Advertising Executive This Week’s Assistant Editors:
COLLEEN BROWN, ALISON ERNST, VINCENT CHAVEZ, FOLASHADE ALFORD
MIKE PALLOTTA, VICTOR CAMBA, PARKER CHALMERS, MATTHEW TOWLES, BRYAN WALTON, DEVIN O’NEIL, STEPHANIE HERNANDEZ, COREY LEIS, MARY FUHRMAN, DEBORAH ROWE, LISA VAN WIJK, JANTZEN PEAKE, RICHARD LEVINSON, JESSICA MEISELS, KELSEY WEHSELS, TANNER PARKER, KEVIN JORGE-CRUZ, CHRIS PAGE, MICHAEL IACOUCCI, DANIEL PEREZ, MONICA HOLMES, CHRISTINA MOTT, SHANE RUSING, KEVIN NICHOLSON, CHELSEA HOBBY, SARA HATAKEYAMA, KATIE BROWN, DANIEL SERRANO, JORDAN MAEVE, MARLON DELEON, ALLISON HUITT, JILLIAN THOMAN, KIMBERLY TORREZ, JARRED BLUNK, TYLER STAFFORD, JUSTIN JUNG, WES VERNER, KEVIN NG, JOHN VILENUEVA, GENE KANG, RON MITCHEL, RACHEL CLARE, ADAM FAY, ELISA ANG , ANNETTE SCANLON, SARA HAASE, CLAUDIA RODRIGUEZ, SALLY KEY
Disclaimer and Publication Information
The Union Weekly is published using ad money and partial funding provided by the Associated Students, Inc. All Editorials are the opinions of the writer, and are not necessarily the opinions of the Union Weekly, ASI, or of CSULB. All students are welcome and encouraged to be a part of the Union Weekly staff. All letters to the editor will be considered for publication. However, CSULB students will have precedence. All outside submissions are due by Thursday, 5 PM to be considered for publishing the following week and become property of the Union Weekly. Please include name, major, class standing, and phone number for all submissions. They are subject to editing and will not be returned. Letters may or may not be edited for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and length. The Union Weekly will publish anonymous letters, articles, editorials and illustrations, but must have your name and information attached for our records. Letters to the editor should be no longer than 500 words. The Union Weekly assumes no responsibility, nor is it liable, for claims of its advertisers. Grievance procedures are available in the Associated Students business office.
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KEVIN SENT A LETTER LIKE NOTHING ELSE KEVIN O’BRIEN EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
ithout generosity the Union Weekly would not be able to continue. Each member of the Union Weekly began as a contributor, the only precondition for their title being that they are willing to contribute an article, illustration or photograph. Each week the paper is populated with content by said contributors, who sacrifice their time and devote their effort to produce the paper. That content is then read, edited, and laid out into the pages by the page editors, who forfeit the entirety of their Saturdays in that pursuit. From 11am on Saturday to 4am Sunday, the page editors, for no pay and no benefits, work until the paper is completed. The true extent of the page editors’ generosity can be understood in context, that context being that most do not directly aspire to careers in journalism. Community, as opposed
CONNOR O’BRIEN PHOTO EDITOR
the padding out of a resume, is a far greater motivation for them. I believe it is that clarity and specificity of motivation that maintains the quality of the Union Weekly. A reality that is made all the more stark when contrasted against another campus publication, which I have come to understand is run by shortsighted opportunists, driven by the promise of conflated postgraduate titles. If you want a stagnate job at a local paper, in which to fritter away your time, energy, and soul, then perhaps you should seek out this other publication and apply yourself. However, the sustaining generosity is not only internal. The Union Weekly is largely funded by Associated Students, Incorporated through funds generated by student fees. This semester, in the midst of an unfavorable economic climate, our printers have aided us by cutting our produc-
tion costs, and in doing so their profits, as a gift to ensure that we do not have to cut any more issues. On top of all that, our Literature page editor Katy Parker’s mom, Kary Parker gave us bags and bags of candy this week to nourish us. The purpose of elucidating this generosity is partially in thanks, but also to bring up this point: we need your generosity. We need you to come to our open staff meetings, on Fridays at 2pm, and consider giving some time and a part of yourself to the Union Weekly and to your fellow students. All I can promise you is that you will be welcome and will be provided with opportunity. Ask Away!
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DID YOU GET THE MERMO? MICHAEL MERMELSTEIN MUSIC EDITOR
Here is a simple question, what are we going to do now? Or more properly, where are we going to go? I know that might sound vague and threatening (vaguely threatening?) but with the recent decline of stand-by brick and mortar stores like Borders, the future is starting to look really weird. I don’t want to over sell it, but when storefronts have gone vacant for years at a time a whole battery of questions enter my mind. How long until these vacant store fronts metastasized into vacant strip malls? Vacant suburbs? This isn’t just about the economy either, the Internet has caused a fundamental shift in how we live. It’s only natural that it is effecting the organization of our cities. We seem to be more and more comfortable living our lives online. Which
is fine but it is getting to a point where entire categories of stores, are leaving us. Book stores, record shops, and video rental places are the first to go, but I think we are blind to how close we are to losing a lot more. Human interaction is beginning to feel optional. Next time you go out to eat look for a family with young kids, I guarantee the kids either have an earbud in or are transfixed by their cellphones. I know I am in danger of sounding like a Luddite here, and believe me I know that is an equally dangerous position to hold, but we need to remember our immediate age group. Okay, the last people to be raised relatively free from constant interaction with information technology. I did not get a cell phone until high school, more importantly, I
had no reason to even WANT one. Not so with the younger members of our age cohort; they are being pushed cell phones at younger and younger ageswhich I can only speculate will make for a really bizarre social world. Do you even know your neighbor’s name? I don’t. I don’t know anything about them. We no longer need that social base, we can pick and choose our friends based on people we might know, Last FM scrobbles, or 29 dimensions of deep compatibility. This might all sound like I’m on a Nostradamus tip, but we really are at the tipping point here. This confluence of rapid desuburbanization and migration to the digital world is in its infancy. I know I can’t wait to watch this whole mess unfold with a large popcorn and a medium soda. UNION WEEKLY
14 MARCH 2011
KKJZ Blues host Gary Wagner promotes the pledge drive on air.
INTERNATIONALLY HEARD, RIGHT IN OUR LIVING ROOM CHELSEA STEVENS OPINIONS EDITOR
n the upper reaches of our campus, nestled between the library and LA1, sits a remarkable piece of jazz’s past and future. The humble home of KKJZ’s broadcasting studio is marked from the outside by little more than a couple meager signs, with faint snippets of the iconic music wafting over heads of students passing on their way to class. As the kid of a jazz musician, listening to jazz radio was a regular occurrence in my household. I actually didn’t learn most people don’t listen to jazz until much later, when I became a musician in the genre myself. Kids who don’t have musicians for fathers generally aren’t exposed to it, and grew up with something close to The Beatles or The Eagles or some other two-syllable animal-related band. I mean, jazz is only for old folks and people that do a lot of shrooms, right? Thanks to my dad and KKJZ, my fiveyear-old, muffin-sized brain was spared from believing this stereotype. KJazz may not seem like a significant school landmark to many CSULB kids, but the station is recognized around the world as the best executor of jazz radio in the country. There are only five stations in the United States that broadcast jazz full
14 MARCH 2011
Interested in jazz, radio, or anything close? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit jazzandblues.org for volunteer and paid internship opportunities. Do it.
CONNOR O’BRIEN PHOTO EDITOR
time, and the most famous one happens to exist right in the middle of our campus. Legendary artists and DJs alike have visited and walked its halls. Many of the genre’s most brilliant and celebrated musicians view the station with great respect, as they’ve been a primary source for spreading their work to the public for years. Sunday was the final day of nine in KJazz’s first pledge drive of 2011. Volunteers came into the station every day of the drive to answer the calls of jazz supporters around the world, who donated anywhere from 40 to thousands of dollars to gain or renew a station membership. Memberships come with great discounts and early notification on events in the jazz world, for anything from concerts to master classes. On Saturday, a $15,000 pledge came from none other than Don Cheadle himself. I stepped across the threshold of KKJZ’s front door for the first time this weekend and instantly turned into a drooling, openmouthed fangirl. The station’s modest rooms and corridors are really exploding with records, CDs, autographed pictures from the world’s biggest jazz heroes, and I had about five minutes to silently freak out before I could gather myself and get down to business.
I entered a small space with a dozen or so volunteers, all smiling and chatting either with each other or the prospective members on the other end of their phone lines. It was instantly clear the volunteers were only there for one uniting reason: their undying passion for jazz. The payoff for volunteers, other than daily lunch and dinner from Naples Rib Company and a special sweepstakes for an iPod filled with music, comes from the knowledge that their favorite radio station can stay on the air. As listeners are often reminded in the station’s slogan, KKJZ is almost entirely “listener and member supported,” and it truly wouldn’t exist without the income made during each pledge drive. The nonprofit station costs $10,000 a month to run, and the vast majority of that money needed comes from people who call in for a membership. And, surprisingly, many of those callers are not old and do not do shrooms. One of KJazz’s best aspects is the wide range of music they broadcast, attracting fans of jazz in every one of its many forms. Some of the most knowledgeable DJs on the planet work at the station, from the illustrious Hellen Borgers, to the friendly blues-man Bubba Jackson, to the “walking dictionary of Latin jazz” Jose Rizo. As volunteer Lisa Krassner
puts it, the show hosts are “incredible resources, who tell the story behind the music instead of just playing it.” KJazz’s head manager Stephanie Levine gave me the lowdown on the station’s unique format, and how much effort they really put into kindling the jazz flame in our community and around the world. Their website allows anyone with internet access to stream the station live, which garners fans located everywhere from Russia to Kansas. They put on annual events and free concerts in LA and Long Beach, including the Blues Bash held right here on campus last year. Levine says, “We find ways to present blues and jazz in a way the community can enjoy it. For people who have the ability to support the station, it’s not about the money, it’s about the music. We want to keep jazz around for people to appreciate at any age.” I left the KKJZ studio on Saturday afternoon exploding with even more love and inspiration for the jazz art form and those who support it. There are few communities left in existence that spend every day being passionate about what they do, and inviting everyone else on the planet to be a part of it. All you have to do to join is tune into 88.1: number-one, member-supported KJazz.
GET NAKED INSTEAD
A STAND AGAINST THE ABOMINATION THAT IS MODERN WOMEN’S CLOTHING KATY PARKER LITERATURE EDITOR
I’m sorry to be another person in the world who has something to complain about, but I have something to complain about. I spent four hours at a mall today because the world is a desolate place and because cheap clothing produced on the other side of the world under sub-human conditions tends to cheer me up sometimes. Don’t worry about those humans, though, because out of the whole day, the only thing I could bring myself to buy was a giant sandwich. A guy had to work hard to make that sandwich, but I gave him a tip. A turkey died for me to have that sandwich, and for that, I’m sorry. My complaint is this: someone recently decided that fashionable clothing needed to be uncomfortable, complicated, weirdlooking, and entirely contrary to what makes women who look exactly like me
look and feel okay. Okay? I’m not that weird-looking. I look like many other people, and therefore, I don’t know why the people of H&M decided that a whole corner of the store should be devoted to yellowish-brown, suede poncho dresses. Yes, I sound like I’m 80 years old, and I undoubtedly lack a sense of fashion, but why do the men in my life get to wear the same exact type of shirt and pants every day while I am expected to figure out how to engineer a racerback tank top? If I want to wear a racerback shirt, I can’t simply wear the shirt. I have to buy the shirt and then go somewhere else and find a bra, a painstakingly-wrought bra with a fancy extra hook in the back that will hide the straps beneath the shirt. This is the bestcase scenario. Most times, the shirt will be completely translucent, or the front will
be cut precisely so that any boobs/nipples present will completely hang out of the shirt, and then I will have to buy another shirt to wear under the shirt I want, along with the bra. There’s more. Suddenly, everything is PINK. It’s not the good pink. Society demands that I wear sad, drab, dusty pink clothes which are the exact same color as my skin and make me look like a dead person. Buffalo Bill is dictating fashion and making pink girls look washed-out in all 50 states. Boob-cup dresses: WHY? Nobody’s boobs fit into those tiny cups, and yet I’m still pretending I can do it, like seveneighths of my boobs do not exist and are not toppling over or spilling beneath this enigmatic, mythical boob Yamaka thing. I really think someone just thought it would be funny to watch us try and figure it out.
Rompers are another cruel joke. I am somehow surprised every time I try on a romper that I am not seven feet tall and that I weigh more than all of the people in the world who wear rompers combined. What else? I don’t know. Shoes? Everything is a tiny sandal or a ballet flat or a heel/wedge thing. They mostly all hurt, and they mess up your feet forever. The point is, if I’m not just an inept, frumpy-clothesed little lady, then we as women are bending over backwards to try and prove through our appearance that we’re interesting, sophisticated, versatile, sexy people. Why do we have to try and convince everyone of these things instead of just letting them be known? I think it has to do with the laws of nature, or Scientology or something like that, and I think I will try to go shopping again tomorrow.
2011 SSOCIATED STUDENTS
ONLINE ELECTIONS UNION WEEKLY
14 MARCH 2011
PART ONE OF A SERIES NOAH KELLY CAMPUS EDITOR
ANDY KNEIS MANAGING EDITOR
hen the word rape is said, thoughts immediately jump to home invasions, alleyway assaults and violent strangers, and why shouldn’t it? Newspapers are perpetuators of the type of rape referred to as “stranger rape” and it gets headlines. What doesn’t get headlines, and happens so much more frequently, is what is known as acquaintance rape. Acquaintance rape is exactly what it sounds like: rape from someone you know and have met. For numerous reasons victims choose not to come forward. Unfortunately, many of the reasons victims choose not to come forward with their experience stem from the atmosphere surrounding sexual assault. There is a certain stigma that surrounds rape, and that stigma is bred from ignorance, lack of awareness, and closedoffness. Rape is misunderstood, and for the worse. There are many instances of sexual assault that are dismissed as not as important as the most extreme cases, as though there were a sliding scale of severity when it comes to assault. There isn’t: all sexual assault stems from the same place of power imbalance.
The first part in talking about sexual assault is awareness. Sexual assault is an onerous term, to be sure, but really sexual assault is most simply described as a coercive, unwarranted advance, by Linda Pena, Health Educator at the Health Resource Center. This isn’t limited to physical interactions, but verbal and suggestive language can constitute as sexual assault as well. Language and actions designed to strip away power from an individual in a sexual manner is assault, not just rape or molestation. One of the most despicable aspects of the atmosphere surrounding sexual assault is the tendency, and knee jerk reaction, to blame the victim. Even the thought of being blamed can shut a victim down, making it all the more difficult to find help. Let it be said now and forever, if you are a victim of assault, it is never your fault. Anyone who criticizes how much you have had to drink, what you wore to the party, or any number of things that shift the blame onto your shoulders is an awful human being who has absolutely no empathy and should never be listened to. The language that is used is often the
source of the problem that is encountered in talking about sexual assault. Dismissive attitudes and speech surrounding sexual assault are a hindrance, and this includes joking about rape and sexual assault. This attitude is detrimental to those who are victims and a serious issue. Devaluing what a person has experienced with judgmental behavior, or lack of understanding is undermining not only just the ability to talk about sexual assault, but the ability for a community as a whole to provide help. Sexual assault happens, and it happens more frequently and under different circumstances than what is publicized. Encourage your friends to open a dialogue about what can constitute as uncomfortable language and situations, and be aware that it is a multifaceted problem that deserves more attention than it gets. Words can be powerful, and the more open and upfront we can be with each other without judgment and bias, the closer we can get to not participating in unacceptable behavior. [Editor’s note: This article is part of a series of that will continue next week.]
POW WOW WOW YIPPEE YO YIPPY YAY NOAH KELLY CAMPUS EDITOR
14 MARCH 2011
CONNOR O’BRIEN PHOTO EDITOR
If you were on campus this weekend, you probably saw the rippling of your glass of water; the precursor to any coming rumble and quake of the ground. But it wasn’t a TRex skulking about campus, it was the annual Pow Wow put on by the American Indian Studies Program and American Indian Student Council. The gathering of tent-vendors and fry-bread ironically circled their wagons around the Native American performers, dressed in traditional garb and dancing around a large tree on the Upper Campus lawn. The all day event featured dancing, contests, and traditional drumming from Native American performers. Many vendors were hocking their wares to anyone walking by but it really seemed like a large, Native American themed flea market. Some of the food vendors just seemed to unceremoniously add the word “Indian” to whatever food they were peddling. Indian tacos? What the fuck are Indian tacos? Another food staple seems to be this product called frybread, which essentially is an overpriced fried dough platter with bargain brand food products splattered on top, like a Mexican pizza from Taco Bell, but shittier. The only experience I have with fry-bread is watching a show about how incredibly unhealthy it is to consume, and watching its rapid consumption on campus grounds. The pinnacle of this underwhelming affair was watching authentic cultural dancers in the middle of the event and random audience members ambling awkwardly up to the line of dancers and dropping wadded up dollar bills in front of them as some form of donation. When the dance was over, the closest dancers to the cash pile stooped and picked up what I could only assume was barely more than $30-50 in small bills. The entire scene felt disingenuous and cheap. Donations are great, and necessary, tossing them unceremoniously on the ground is crass and borderline obscene. Even the homeless have hats and cups.
LUCY NGUYEN ASI VICE PRESIDENT
What does the Student Recreation and Wellness Center, U-Pass, and 24-hour library during finals week have in common? These were all just a few of the many initiatives brought forth from ASI student leaders aimed at improving the health and wellness of the campus community, reducing our environmental impact, and providing the resources needed for academic success. Every year, new leaders come into office with a vision on how to better the CSULB educational experience and every year, you have the power to decide on who those leaders would be. Next week, you will have the opportunity to make our voice heard and vote for your next ASI leaders. These elected representatives serve as the your voice on campus and beyond, dealing with everything from CSULB’s general education requirements to student grievances to advocating for our students before the State and Federal governments. Without ASI’s impact on the campus community, CSULB would be a far different place. Since its incorporation in 1956, the Associated Students has grown to become a unique organization: it is both a multimillion dollar non-profit corporation that also serves as a student government. With over $15 million generated annually from student fees and operations, ASI is able to provide services such as intramural sports, student health care plans, grants to student organizations, programming, and student advocacy. In addition to those services, ASI operates numerous buildings on campus, including the USU, the Soroptimist House, Isabel Patterson Child Development Center, SRWC, and the Recycling Center. Facilities like these are essential to our college experience. Next week your ASI ballot will have candidates for multiple elected positions, including executives such as President, Vice President, and Treasurer. There are also 20 positions for Senate representatives; two for each of the seven colleges and six Senators-at-Large. These student leaders will serve on the Board of Directors and have a direct connection and responsibility to the constituencies they represent. Lastly, you will also have the opportunity to elect representatives to the USU Board of Trustees and other important campus boards, each having a significant impact on campus. Other ballot measures include the Bring Back 49er Football Referendum, which would recommend implementing a $86 fee increase phased over five years that would support a football team at CSULB, in addition to also covering NCAA women’s crew, lacrosse, and field hockey teams. It is more important than ever to be informed about the measures being proposed. CSULB students have a great opportunity to make a difference on campus every year. Exercise your right to vote through your online ballot via e-mail March 21-24 and make sure that your ASI leadership reflects your values and understands the mission of “keeping students first.” Go Beach!
MICHAEL MERMELSTEIN MUSIC EDITOR
adiolab started about eight years ago in New York City, and in the years since has gained a huge following of dedicated listeners. Now the show is available across 300 stations and of course on the Internet as a podcast. The show is the brainchild of reporter Robert Krulwich and composer Jad Abumrad. Together this unlikely pair has rewritten the rules for what a science show can be. Each show starts with a really simple concept like words or stress and uses these
abstract concepts as jumping off points for
exploration of profoundly interesting ques-
bringing the show on the road to various West
fascinating philosophical inquiry and cutting
tions concerning our modern world was en-
Coast dates. Radiolab’s show at UCLA’s Royce
edge science. Radiolab’s secret weapon is Jad
tirely fresh. The amazing musical cues and
Hall sold out so quickly that a second show
Abumrad who received musical training at
offbeat sense of humor didn’t hurt either.
was quickly added to keep all their rabid fans
Oberlin College and uses that knowledge to
Unlike any other science focused class or
at bay. With the obvious love Southern Cali-
bring a wonderful interplay between instru-
program I have ever seen, Radiolab regularly
fornia was showing for Jad and Robert, I took
mental cues, audio samples, and journalism.
blows my mind, and I mean in a life altering
my opportunity to finally talk to the host of
I first started listening to Radiolab a year
way. The show continually seeks out some
the show I love most and I spoke with Jad for
ago and immediately fell in love. Their scien-
seriously next level shit. Now in entering its
a good half hour about podcasts, science, and
tific approach to philosophy and continued
ninth season the good folks at Radiolab are
the benefits of a college education. UNION WEEKLY
14 MARCH 2011
Union Weekly: What would you say is the biggest difference between doing a podcast and doing a live show? Jad Abumrad: Well, God, when you’re on stage, suddenly your mouth is flapping and things come out of it, and you don’t have the benefit of being able to catch the words and cut them with scissors and put them in the right order. There’s a little more anarchy to it. It’s a little more sort of just, “whatever happens, happens.” So definitely for us as performers, it’s way different, because while everything is improvised on the show, it’s a thoughtful improvisation, where we’ll step back and be like, “Hm… What should we do here?” On stage it’s a little bit more freeform. That said, we try really hard to recreate, as much as we can, the experience of listening to the show on the radio and in podcasts. So it’ll feel very podcasty at times, because I’ll be up there with the clips, and I’ll be firing them live. We’ll be improvising between the clips. Zoe Keating’s [an avant-garde cellist from the band Rasputina] amazing challenge will be dropping in music scores and performing in the gaps. So it should still feel kind of like Radiolab, but a more freewheeling version. And we’ll also have videos, and pictures, and stuff which is obviously something we can’t do on the podcast. UW: Since we’re a college paper, I like to ask, what did you gain from your experience at Oberlin College that you’ve applied, or could apply, to the show? JA: God, I don’t know. If you had asked me that question a year or two out of school, I would have been like, “Nothing. I don’t know what my college education really did for me.” But then, literally like five or six years after being out, and even every year that passes, I sort of feel this more and more —it’s given me everything, really. The sensibility of the show, the way that I think about the world, the attitude that we take with the information that we’re dealing with, the way that music weaves itself through every thought, all that came from Oberlin. It’s sort
14 MARCH 2011
of like this big light that went off years late. Looking at Oberlin, and six years later, it wasn’t a moment, but it was a daunting feeling of, “Oh right, all of this stuff had reason, and it went into my head for a purpose. And it came out in a completely different form. I thought I would be writing music for films right now, and instead I’m hosting a radio show. So it’s a completely different universe than I thought I’d be in, but it has everything to do with what I did at Oberlin. UW: Did that just happen organically; was there no real rhyme or reason? It’s weird to think about how that process starts from the position of being in college. JA: Right. I don’t know if there was a rhyme or reason to it. I feel like I’m a couple of lucky breaks away from being a well-educated bum. There were a couple of near moments, a couple decisions I made along the way, like “I’d like to work in radio.” I didn’t necessarily have to meet Robert [Krulwich] —somehow it happened. I didn’t necessarily have to have been given the show Radiolab. Radiolab was a situation where no one was listening, so anything could go, which at the time felt like, “Whatever.” It felt like a neglected space, or weird side project. But, I look back it, and all of that stuff feels like just luck, you know? I mean, we worked really hard all the way through it, but I don’t know. We just got fortunate. UW: From your film score background, what is the more rewarding part of Radiolab: the sound design, the craft, or the content, the journalistic aspect? JA: I can answer that in two ways. The part that comes easiest to me is the setting—the things that have to do with sound and the music, and the way in which they can support the story. That just makes sense to me somehow. Journalism is something that I have to learn and it’s still something that I feel like I’m learning. And it’s hard at times. It’s hard to know what the right questions to ask. It’s hard to know what you don’t know.
It’s just a question that happens over and over for every journalist. But, what’s most rewarding to me is when they work together. There’s some weird place in a universe where, maybe, Radiolab comes from; where you’re talking about something that’s true, and at the same time it feels like a dream, and it’s like your sailing into this dream, that is all-the-while telling you about something that’s very real and very present, but it feels magical and surrealistic. And the music has everything to do with creating that feeling. For me, when we do that, when we can get a piece of journalism to dance like music, and it can feel like a sort of trance, that’s when it gets rewarding. And that only happens late in the process, after we’ve banged our head against the wall for hours. It’s at that point when I feel like, “Yeah, okay. We’ve done something.” UW: What’s the week-to-week like in just setting up the show and running it? JA: Generally, we work on two to three shows at a time. Which means we’ve got one… two…three…four… four producers, four and a half? And everybody is split on the different shows. At the early stages, where we’ve got a batch of different ideas, it’s a lot of research, a lot of calling. It’s a lot of doing interviews where you’re not quite sure what you’re going to get. And you either walk out of the interviews with a story to take away or you just kind of let it sit, think about it. It’s a lot of headless chicken moving about. And then, somewhere, a week or two after that, you get a sense of the thing you’re trying to make. And then we all kind of operate in a very traditional sort reporting, storytelling sort of way, where everybody makes drafts of the story, and they feed them to me, and I edit them. I’ll pass them by Robert and we’ll talk about story structure. There’s a lot of typical newsroomy sort of things that happen. As you get toward the end of the project, it starts to feel like you go into the cave, and when you’re dealing with the sound, the music, and all that sort of subterranean stuff, I’ll close the door for
days at a time. I’ve got a couple producers that I work with on that stuff and we’ll sit there in my office, really dimly lit, in this stasis, like really happy but obsessive despair? And we’ll just try and make it happen. That’s where the process gets a bit singular. That last stretch where you try to make the pieces, which you’ve worked on, to get the right shape, and you try to make them have the right feel. It’s the feel that we’re after. Right now, we’ve finished our last batch of shows and we’re onto the next ones. So there’s a lot of just research. UW: How has the show changed in the five seasons that it’s run? Five plus. JA: We’ve been doing it now for seven, eight years? Six years? I don’t even know at this point. It’s changed a lot. The stories have gotten better. We work so hard to find the stories now, you know? We used to find stories that we felt were pretty good and then we’d sort of try, through the production, to make them great. Now we really try to search for those stories. We put a real premium on them. Can we find stories that will completely change how I think about things? Not every story does that. In fact, most stories get you about three-quarters of the way there, and then they stop. We have much more of an emphasis on reporting and journalism in the process than we ever used to. It’s still a couple of people, particularly Robert and I, who like each other. The show is an expression of our friendship. And it still starts there. There are still periods in the process where Robert and I will take a long walk, and we’ll be like, “Okay, what do we really think about this?” And we’ll figure it out, and the show will kind of stem from those moments, really. UW: It’s really interesting. I imagined a lot more lab work. It’s cool that it starts so organically. JA: How do you mean? UW: From more relationship, person-
to-person, and less nose-in-a-book, even though both have to be there. I guess you kind of forget the more personal side of it. JA: That’s the whole thing, really. The sort of solitary part of the process is at the end, but the beginning is like, we’re posting things to everybody, everybody is feeding back, there’s arguments, there’s a lot of conversation. Any time we’re doing an edit of a piece there will be me and another person, our lead producer Sean Wheeler is there, we’re arguing, we’re editing it together. I firmly believe that no one brain can do this. You know, it’s all about a kind of synthesis, and I feel like my critical job is to synthesize other people’s opinions, really, in addition to my own, until the end, when it becomes about the sound, and then it does become a little bit about me closing the door. But most of it is an annoyingly social process. UW: How do you think the fundamental relationship between technology, science, and philosophy has changed in culture in the last couple of years? Do you think there’s more of a growth, more of a push towards studying it and appreciating it? JA: I definitely think so. I definitely think there’s been something that’s happening where there has been an intersection between science and philosophy. I feel like we, somehow, live on the fault line of those two in some weird way. I don’t know why it’s happened. I don’t know. I’d be hard-pressed to give you some answer. But yeah, I have noticed that. I can only answer personally. Like what we’re trying to do is just figure out how the world works, draw meaning from the world around us, and things are so complicated right now. You just want to be able to know how you feel about things. So, you walk into this strange, weird, complicated, seductive world, and you just kind of want to understand it, so you used to go to, like, a priest or something. That’d be the person you went to ask these deep questions. And, increasingly, I feel like you can go to people who are actually studying, empirically try-
ing to use data to get to these answers, which they’ll probably never get to. But it’s exciting to go to someone who’s trying to actually apply some measure of objectivity to these giant questions. So, I don’t know, I mean. Increasingly these scientists that we interview are willing to walk out on a limb. The cliché about scientisits, which we encountered a lot, that scientists only want to talk about what they know and nothing beyond that. But you will find people who are like, “No, I want to think broadly about the world and I want to wander past my area of expertise.”
For me, when we do that, when we can get a piece of journalism to dance like music, and it can feel like a sort of trance, that’s when it gets rewarding.
So, there is some kind of nexus that is happening. But, truthfully, at the end of the day, I don’t care about any of that. I just want to get to some new understanding of the world. And if a witch doctor could get me there, I would go to that person, you know? If an athlete could get me there, I would go to them. It isn’t so much about discipline, that it is about the questions. UW: What do you think about the state of podcasts right now?
cause I find there’s a sense of danger in all those podcasts. I just love the freedom of it. Literally, it feels like this kind of old style radio, where you just turn on the mic and you start talking. You could be as blemished as you are, and it’s okay. I like the idea that the expectations for the people who make it and who listen are different than say classic radio. And you get this weird explosion of strange, quirky experiments. Which is what we’re still not hearing on radio. I like this sense in podcasting that people are trying shit. They’re just experimenting. And it sucks most the time, but sometimes you get really great, great things that emerge from it. And in radio you don’t have that sense of experimentation for a whole lot of reasons. So I like it. I’m really interested in podcasting. I wonder what it will do to radio—to the box. I wonder if in five years we’ll call podcasting radio, or if we’ll call radio podcasting. I’m curious to know where this will all converge, or diverge. UW: I’m sure there are dozens, but is there one show, in particular, that changed the way you think day-to-day? JA: I was just talking to someone yesterday about the show we did about words, which was a show that really started from the simple question, “What would it be to live your life without having words?” Would it be simply like being like we are now, but not the ability to communicate? Or would it change something deep and fundamental about your soul? What is the real power of words? Do they describe the world, or do they, in some sense, create the world? And, I don’t
know, I have a kid who’s 19-months old right now, and he’s kind of grappling with his first words, and that show just hovers around us. I feel like the ideas we were talking about are disembodied in this little creature. I wonder what’s happening in his head. Is he just getting nouns? Is that what’s happening? Does he just have these labels? Or are these words, in a sense, changing him fundamentally. I think about that a lot. That’s a show which right now I feel like is changing me. UW: And if I may, just any last words for college students, just to be cheesy… JA: Last words for college kids? I guess, I don’t know what’s it like where you are, but there’s a sense when I went to school, that there’s a collection of people gathered in this one place, and this collection of people were deeply restless. The restlessness of the world. They weren’t satisfied with how the world works, and they wanted to change it. And there’s a sense of, “I’m going to walk out of these doors and I’m going to actually do something that does change the world.” And then every step you take out of college, they try to beat that out of you. It’s hard to find jobs. It’s hard to find work in the thing that you love. It’s just hard, hard, hard. But, there’s something so precious about that idea. About the sense that you are not happy with how things are, and that you will somehow stir it up. And I guess I would say, that that feeling that can sometimes be thrown back at you as naïve, now that’s like the engine that protects the spirit. Whatever you end up doing, make sure that you are somehow honoring that impulse.
JA: I don’t know, it’s funny. We have a popular podcast, so I feel like I should know more about podcasts than I actually do. I just, literally in the last three or four months, began to wander farther in my podcast listening, and I like it. There are no constraints, which is a good thing and a bad thing. I was just listening to Marc Maron, the WTF podcast, and I like listening to comedy podcasts be-
14 MARCH 2011
AN EVENING WITH JESSE THORN LEARNING HOW TO GET DRESSED AND BROADCAST YOURSELF FROM AMERICA’S SWEETHEART Photo by Noe Montes
esse Thorn has built a bit of an empire through his public radio program, The Sound of Young America, where he interviews people in the entertainment industry, through his podcasting empire at Maximumfun.org, and, most recently, through his creation of a popular men’s fashion blog called “Put This On.” Jesse works from his studio-at-home with a small staff: development director Theresa Thorn (Jesse’s wife), associate producer Julia Smith, two dogs (Cocoa and Sissie), and an intern. Last fall, I was that intern. Working for Jesse, I felt like a part of the family, and I compiled a bunch of fun memories in the brain in my head. On one of my first days, we were going to meet Judd Apatow at his office for an interview. We bustled out of the studio with recording equipment in hand and a sense of adventure in our hearts. While Jesse interviewed Apatow, I got to do cool intern things like nod my head along with Judd’s answers. And when Judd’s air conditioning came on during the interview, I got to turn it off so its loud buzzing wouldn’t be heard on the radio airwaves! Even before the interview began, there was some action! While we were setting up the microphones, Jesse Eisenburg popped his head into Apatow’s office (picture Jesse Eisenburg’s head popping up around a doorjam—it was a grand sight to see!). Eisenburg was presumably looking for Judd, and when he saw just us in there, he gave us a quizzical look, complete with a raised eyebrow or two, and then, without a word, he walked away. As Jesse Thorn put it, “We got Jesse Eisenburg-ed. He dropped a Jesse Eisenburg bomb in here!” The excellent Apatow interview, and many others, are available as podcasts. And here, now, is a conversation I had with the delightful Mr. Thorn: Union Weekly: You started your radio show, The Sound of Young America, in your college days at UC Santa Cruz. When did you know that you wanted to turn the show into your career? Jesse Thorn: I think I always had grand ambitions for the show, but I don’t think I UNION WEEKLY
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always expected that it would realistically become my career. We started distributing the show to its first station before I graduated from college, I think. That station was WUSM, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, who actually don’t carry the show anymore, sadly. You know, it was one of those things where we were essentially working in a vacuum, where everyone at the radio station was really nice (we still have lots of friends from the station), but nobody really cared what anybody else was doing on the air. I really didn’t even think, for sure, that I would continue to do the show after I graduated. It was really just that I applied for a lot of jobs and didn’t get any of them, and so I just needed something to keep me going. UW: What kind of jobs were you looking into that you didn’t get? JT: I remember, specifically, applying to drive the “prize van” for a radio station in San Francisco called “The Bear” that played country music. And… I actually kind of like country music, but that would have been kind of a weird job. The thing was that a lot of the jobs I was applying for, they probably weren’t hiring me because I was kind of illsuited to them. A lot of the support jobs in commercial radio require their employees to have a kind of “pleasant pliability,” and it’s not about whether or not you’re going to bring a lot to the table. Sure, plenty of people who work in those jobs do, but I think they would tell you the same thing. And in public radio, there are not a lot of jobs to be had, unless you’re a reporter, which I wasn’t. So that just left me applying for jobs as a receptionist and as a clerical worker, and I couldn’t even get those.
ON PODCASTING UW: While you were doing your show in college, you started putting it up as a podcast in 2005, if I remember correctly from when I was there interning for you, and archiving old episodes… JT: It was at the end of 2004, actually, about a year after I graduated college. UW: Oh okay, gotcha. And so would that make you one of first podcasters? I feel like you are. Is that right? JT: Yeah, I started podcasting The Sound of Young America before there was podcast support on iTunes. There were a lot of people at that point who had gotten interested in it who were interested in the technology, but not necessarily because they were interested in being performers or entertainers. Which isn’t necessarily a good recipe for great content. You know, television shows aren’t hosted by people who are interested in “picture tubes.” And, in terms of terrestrial broadcasters who were podcasting, there were, I don’t know, about 10 or 15 at the time that I started. And we were the first public radio show west of the Mississippi to podcast. UW: So I guess you’re sort of a founding father of podcasting. JT: I’ll leave that for you to decide, Leo.
ON DRESSING WELL UW: You’re the proprietor of “Put This On,” a men’s fashion blog. The blog’s tagline is “a web series about dressing up like a grownup.” It had an effect on me personally deciding to dress up a little bit more, and I’ve kind of steered away from Vans or Converse, jeans and a T-shirt. JT: Well, you’re a sharp dresser, Leo. Don’t sell yourself short. UW: Thanks. Thank you. What would be your advice to a college student on getting dressed? JT: I think it’s easy to confuse “dressing up” and “dressing well,” and I think for a lot of situations that a college student is in, dressing up is not necessarily what you want to shoot for. I think that every adult man should own, at the very least, one dark-gray suit, because you need something to wear at weddings and funerals and church on Sundays, if you go. But, beyond that, my best advice is to simplify. Something as simple as getting a good pair of blue jeans, making sure that your clothes don’t have visible logos or branding. One of the best outfits that a man can wear is a pair of classic blue jeans, a solid T-shirt, and a simple pair of sneakers. If I were to focus on one thing, it would be simplifying. And I mean that both in terms of aesthetics and in terms of volume. I think that fast fashion is not something I’m crazy about—the H&Ms of the world. And I think that it’s much better to have fewer, better clothes than more, trashy clothes. We live in a time when the most poorly dressed person in the world has a huge volume of clothes, and I don’t think that that helps them dress any better. UW: Gotcha. I was nodding my head in agreement the whole time you were talking. JT: Excellent. I was wondering what that wooshing sound was. UW: [uproarious laughter] I have some questions sent in from fans, as well. They’re all fashion related, and I’m just going to shoot off a couple for you. First off, where do you find inspiration for your style, and who are your biggest influences. That one comes in from [Comics Editor] Chris Fabela. JT: Hi Chris. I subscribe to lots of men’s style blogs, and I really love seeing lots of different expressions of style on the internet. I live in a city, Los Angeles, where there aren’t a lot of well-dressed men, frankly. But, certainly when I didn’t live in Los Angeles, just walking around was a great sort of inspiration. I also love to look at great stylish men from the past. I feel like we can learn as much from Cary Grant or Steve McQueen, as we can from Johnny Depp… Actually, I don’t think there’s really much we can learn from Johnny Depp. I think we can learn from Johnny Depp that if you’re a spectacularly beautiful person, you can pretty much wear any ridiculous gypsy outfit you want and you’ll look great. I would say that one of my biggest style heroes is Willie Brown, the former mayor of San Francisco. I grew up in the Willie Brown-era in San Francisco. He was mayor from when I was about 12 to 20, and he’s probably the
LEO PORTUGAL CULTURE EDITOR
best dressed politician in America. One of the things that impressed me most about him is that he’s a guy that grew up poor, in rural Texas, worked on construction crews to put himself through college and law school, and when he could afford to present himself well, he did. He was the kind of guy that never took “you’re not good enough” for an answer. So that was incredibly inspirational to me and it taught me a lot about the importance of dressing yourself well, as a measure of self-respect. And to learn that from someone who had their self-respect forged in the fire of the civil rights movement. He was the first African American speaker of the California assembly, and became one of the longest-termed speakers. And I always associtate his manner of dress with his tone, which was that he was just as good as anybody else. I would also say André Benjamin, aka “André 3000,” from Outkast, who I admire because he is both elegant, and whimsical, and a little bit ridiculous. I really see his more recent style, which is a little bit Gatsbyish, as being of a piece of a time when he wore a catcher’s mask and an Indian headdress. I think he’s always had a wonderful understanding of what clothes mean and how you can express yourself with the clothes that you wear. He’s a wonderful example of someone who has, as he’s become a man, allowed that to be reflected in his manner of dress. UW: And to finish it off, any parting words of wisdom for college students? JT: My words of wisdoms to college students, especially those who think of themselves as creative, is to find a project that you enjoy working hard on, and work hard on it, and try and find an audience for it, whether or not you’re getting paid for it. Try to get it to people who can help, who can appreciate it, and who can help you make it better. There’s no longer any reason for you to have to ask someone if you can make something. If you’re interning at a newspaper, or you’re in art school, or you’re just starting to write short stories, you no longer have to wait for someone to tell you, “Yes, this is publishable.” And I think that whatever you do, you should just try to work hard at it regularly, and enjoy the rewards that come from it, whether or not they are monetary.
ONE WOMAN’S JOURNEY FROM ‘BOSTON’ TO ANIMAL COLLECTIVE
SALLY FRANCIS KEY CONTRIBUTOR
can safely say that since 2004(ish) I have had an incredibly bizarre obsession with Animal Collective. I remember the first time I heard them I saw a music video of the song “Who Could Win a Rabbit” from Sung Tongs and it scared the shit out of me. It is a sadistic version of the story “The Tortoise and the Hare” and is directed by Danny Perez. So I wrote them off for a couple of months, until a friend of mine really started to get into them. Once I gave them another chance I was hooked. I have found that this is the case for many people and their relationship with Animal Collective; not down until they find “their song.” So “Winters Love” was on repeat for a couple weeks after this discovery of mine. Years go by, and while going through a Boston and Devotchka phase, Animal Collective seemed to stay on every mixed CD I made. They blew my mind at Sasquatch in 2009 and then on March 22, 2010 I had the chance to see their visual album “OddSac” directed by none other than Perez, at the Arclight Cinema in L.A. I met them prior to the viewing and, of course, completely embarrassed myself. Somehow I ended up telling them that I wanted to see them naked? Yes, this was going really well. Afterwards there was an afterparty that they were throwing. Obviously I could not turn
down a chance to be in the same general vicinity of my idols, so I started coming up with what I was going to say to make them fall in love with me and make me the center of their next album. Not really, but kind of, you know? I ended up going up to Deakin, the main man, and telling him something about how his music has been a therapy for me for years and that I hope he continues to make music because it has gotten me through a lot of hard times, and thank you. That’s pretty damn good huh? I was stoked, I promptly left so that I didn’t go up to him again and tell him every song and every part that I’ve ever liked about anything, mostly because my buddy said that I would make a fool of myself if I did. Now I want to tell all of you beautiful people why you need to listen to Animal Collective. I want YOU to know my favorite parts of my favorite songs so that you can also have your mind blown. I guarantee 80% of the people reading this are going to hate Animal Collective. But you also need to know Animal Collective is taking over the world. I have heard them on commercials, they play at Chipotle all the time and their song “My Girls” from Merriweather Post Pavillion was the opening song of the first episode of a new MTV show that I am too embarrassed to name because people keep
making fun of me for watching it. If you are apprehensive I urge you to listen to these three songs: “Summertime Clothes” from Merriweather Post Pavillion. One of the best things about Animal Collective is that their transitions are phenomenal, and Summertime Clothes shows that really well. I get a really intense feeling every time I hear those transitions, kind of like my insides are all happy and smiling at each other.“Fireworks” from Strawberry Jam is real catchy and I usually end up singing the beginning part while at work or biking or something. Finally, “Purple Bottle” from the album Feels is really badass. It’s a good transition into some of their weird stuff. It makes me feel like I am at a party with a bunch of tribal dancers that are all trying to convince me that their dance is better than the other tribal dancers, and let me tell you something, no part of that is a bad thing. For those of you that have listened to Animal Collective and are kind of sort of down, please listen to “In the Flowers” on Merriweather. I dismissed this song so many times because I thought the beginning of the song was, well, annoying. They do tend to repeat displeasing sounds for entirely too long, but I love that because it seems like it is all intentional and they are not afraid to make this music exactly how they envision
it. Anyways, skip to 2 minutes and give it 20 seconds and you will hear the best minute of any song ever. It starts off with saying, “If I could just leave my body for a night” and then shit gets real. I really do lose myself in that song, they break it down in a way that I have never heard. Turn it up. Close your eyes. Get crazy. If you are bipolar, this will give you mania. If you are a boy, this will give you a boner. This is Mania Boner Time USA. If you are high, turn it up louder because it will change your life. Sure, it might seem to be a little redundant afterwards, but that is the best part about them. They hide the good stuff in between a lot of sounds, so that the true auditory treasure seekers get to enjoy the real deal. I tell people all of the time not to talk to me about Animal Collective, because I will just talk and talk and then they will probably hate me afterwards. But it is honest time: Animal Collective, does give me mania, and it has completely changed my method of coping with things in a way that is very confusing and very special. It is better than any medicine I have been prescribed and there is something really freeing about having a natural way of calming or stabilizing yourself. Oh yeah, the song “Brother Sport,” once you hit around 50 seconds it gets really wild too. I can’t stop. They are all good. Yikes.
paradigm of the sort of band I aspire to be a part of: independent (as in, “fuck you, Music Industry!”), steadfast, innovative, and, most importantly, honest. Through my expeditionary pursuits on the web and in record shops, I found the Locust. A San Diego band fronted by the legendary Justin Pearson. The first time I heard them, way back in The 2000, I was kind of scared. Their music was unlike anything I’d heard theretofore, and I couldn’t believe that people were making such beautifully horrifying noises with their (ostensibly) human vocal folds. The Locust are famous for their brutally short song lengths and unhinged live shows. It wasn’t long before I realized how profound this outfit is. The Locust have changed my entire perspective on the purpose of music and what a band is capable of
creating and destroying. The purpose of art, I think, is to fuck things up. Fugazi was a response to the corruption and triviality of the Music Industry, and they set out to prove that a band can be successful (artistically) while remaining a free agent. The Locust endeavors to destroy the notion of music altogether. When juxtaposed, these bands are drastically different in sound; however, both bands rock handin-hand when working toward a definition of punk (if that’s even possible. See Crass for more details on the subject of “punk”). These two bands are justifiably among the most important bands of all time. If not this, then certainly within the last thirty years. As I said, I’m hesitant to say they’re my favorites, but they’d most definitely be with me when I get stranded on that island.
THE PUNK AESTHETIC COREY LEIS UNION STAFFER
I was first exposed to punk rock when I was in junior high. I’d just moved from Duarte, California, to Upland, California. I came from Royal Oaks Elementary, a school with a strict uniform dress code, to Pioneer Junior High, a school that seemingly didn’t give a damn about how its students dressed. I had no friends, and I was painfully shy. Junior high was miserable. I gravitated toward punk rock because it mirrored and validated my social awkwardness. It understood me. I started with the usual gateway bands like Pennywise, NOFX, and Bad Religion, then moved deeper in to Dead Kennedys, Misfits, and Crass, and deeper still toward Resist, Nausea, Aus-Rotten, and Discharge. It wasn’t until my freshman year of high school that I started listening to two of the most important bands in my life (I’m hesitant to say “favorite”
because I think that’s such a strong word to use when discussing bands and music). It was through Minor Threat that I found Fugazi. Because I liked Minor Threat so much, I started following the musical career of frontman Ian MacKaye. Of the handfull of projects he’s mounted, Fugazi is the most prolific, interesting, and influential. I’d argue Fugazi is one of the only true punk bands ever to have existed. It’s not their sound that’s necessarily “punk,” it’s their attitude. These guys eat, drink, and shit punk rock. Their strict DIY ethics, their refusal to market themselves through band merch and radio play, their shows always being all ages and never more than six dollars, their never planning what songs they’re going to play at any particular show — Fugazi is the embodiment of the punk aesthetic. They’re the
14 March 2011
Aluminum baby RULEZ
REVIEW OF ALUMINUM, A SHOW IN THE CARPENTER CENTER andy kneis & noah KELLY MANAGING EDITOR
fter watching a brief trailer for the performance of the show Aluminum on youtube, everyone in the office was slightly intrigued as to what to expect. It looked crazy! Shit flying everywhere, robot shit, and even cool Stomp-like music. In reality, it turned out to be a lesson in the power of cutting and editing of trailers to change the perception of something shitty so that it seems better than it actually is. As a friend and and editor, I felt like an asshole to have sent anyone to cover Aluminum. Thanks, Carpenter Center. Andy Kneis: I was pretty excited about this. You know, decent seats. Noah Kelly: They could have been better, that’s true. AK: …A long billowing aluminum curtain, that’s a recipe for a fun night. NK: To start the show, some aluminumdomed Bowie music video extras came to tell everyone to turn their phones off. Then they threw handfuls of aluminum confetti on some kids in wheelchairs a bunch of times. AK: The show began with some uncomfortable writhing of aluminum tubes. Two tubes had sex and had a smaller tube baby. Through the magic of tubesex. NK: Set to the erotic thumping of an industrial 8-bit soundtrack. Then some weird shit happens, red space tubes fall from the sky and something ominous happened. Oh I think the tube baby is gone. AK: Then some people fall from the ceiling in their tubes, and I was immediately disappointed that the show, which was billed about aluminum tube fucking, was now about twirling people in post-apocalyptic
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caveman suits. NK: Some dancing happened, and then one of the futuristic cave-dudes finds the tube baby that got lost. Then some hip hop tube guys show up? AK: A pointless hip hop tube baby comes out and isn’t allowed to play with the main tube baby. That’s tube racism. This is entertainment, and has a message. NK: For all those kids out there who needed to know how mommy and daddy tubes make baby tubes, and then don’t let them play with other tubes. AK: Then they moved on to what we all came to see: silver pillows. Whoever made this show really seemed to be into aluminum pillows, they were everywhere, people were lovingly inflating their silver pillows with a small leaf-blower and then they threw them into the audience. NK: Only after gyrating suggestively, and then throwing pillows at the kids in wheelchairs. And then they made a pillow man and attacked the kids in wheelchairs again. What the hell is with this? AK: It was around this time that I lost any hope that this show would have any kind of interesting industrial visuals or some kind of blurring between the lines of human and machine. Instead, it was dancers smiling as they twirled and messed around with silver shit. NK: I mean, the dancing wasn’t bad, but I feel lied to. This isn’t a show about aluminum. This is a show about dancing people and metal penises. AK: At this point, I was still trying to get my bearings. Okay, it’s about these people, not about the aluminum. Fine, I’ll just go with it, maybe my expectations weren’t letting me
enjoy things. That’s when the medley started. The tube baby (as played by a guy’s arm in a metal tube) began singing hits such as Guns ‘n Roses “Paradise City” and the theme from Ghostbusters. The tube sang. I don’t know what else to type here. NK: At least one of the kids in the wheelchairs in front of us was into it. I haven’t seen fist pumping that hard to GnR since the ’90s. I feel like something weird happened after this, but my eyes had started to glaze over at this point. AK: Yeah, same. There’s a point where you can’t process any more phallic silver tubes and your brain just shuts off. NK: Oh yeah, that’s right. That’s when the assault started. I had repressed those memories of the silver penis tubes shooting out into the audience. Boy, were those kids in the wheelchairs unhappy when they got all those penis-tubes dragged over them. I feel like this was one huge elaborate punishment for those kids. AK: But lucky for everyone, the silver penis barrage seemed like it was mercifully over. The tube baby was reunited with its parents. Time to clap at some dancers for a few minutes then head back to the Union office. NK: They also dragged some poor kid up on stage and made him stand there for awhile too. Hooray, clap clap. Oh wait, each dancer is coming back out on stage with a costume made of aluminum. I think I see a spider and a peacock. Well, this is cute I guess. Take your bows guys, the story is over. AK: Instead of taking a bow, they decided to each take a moment to do a quick freestyle dance. Yes, we remember that you’re all dancers; we didn’t forget. Okay, good
dancing guys, bye! NK: Lights are going out, okay, fucking finally. Wait, why is one of the techs sliding onto the stage. What? What is this green screen? Oh, this is kind of neat, they’re taking pictures of their silhouettes and their names are stenciled in. This HAS to be the end, right? I mean, you wouldn’t have more than three un-asked-for encores, right? AK: Listen guys, I get it, we’re all a little insecure and it feels nice to get clapped at for a while, but the show’s over. You did fine. Okay, a final bow for the dancers and this has to be it. Oh, fine, I’ll clap for the crew also but ONLY because I didn’t have to look at them for the last hour and a half. NK: Oh gross, oh gross, one of the dancers just twirled his cap and you could literally see the sweat fly off in great big droplets. We’re not even close to the front row and I think I got wet. I know dancing is tough, ,man, your body is in great shape, but your sweat is still gross and stinky. AK: The end finally came when a bunch of (surprise!) aluminum tubes acted as a curtain. Haha, just kidding, they kept dancing in front of the curtain. They were still dancing off the stage as the house lights came on. The lights mean you’re allowed to leave, but as far as I know the dancers are still in the Carpenter Center dancing in the lobby trying to get a few spare claps. NK: I wanted to stop and buy souvenirs but Andy wouldn’t let me. No hip hop tube babies for me. There’s not really much else to say. I give it Stars out of Numbers. AK: Agreed.
Clowny clown clowns A REVIEW OF FOUR CLOWNS Vincent Chavez UNION STAFFER
I was under the assumption that clowns were invented to terrify children. Like most modern children, my opinion of clowns was formed solely by media representations because my parents loved me. Stephen King’s It, Krusty the clown, Killer Klowns From Outer Space, Sweet Tooth from Twisted Metal, and the hemorrhaging clown from Billy Madison all contributed to my crippling fear of clowns. In general, people with make-up, big shoes, red noses, and/or the instinct to wrap children in cotton candy cocoons and suck the life out of them (I’m looking at you Killer Klowns) cannot be trusted. Lucky for me and my fellow coulrophobists (guess what phobia these people have…I’ll give you hint, it’s clowns!), Jeremy Aluma’s Four Clowns offers a depiction of clowns that doesn’t induce fevered screams of, “can’t sleep, clown will eat me!” What you get is an exaggerated display of the human condition showcased through the lives and deaths of four clowns, each one representing a clown archetype (sad, nervous, mischievous, and angry). The story,
divided into four acts, follows these clowns through the ups and downs of childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and death. Structure wise, Four Clowns is a Swiss Army knife of a show. Improvisational skits, musical numbers, audience participation segments, and miming bits function as transitions for the scripted story segments. This variety helps keep things lively and surprising. What kind of surprises lay in store you say? Well, if I told you they wouldn’t be—nevermind. I’ll just say that this play contains masturbation, suicide, cussing, torture, and rape. So if you were hoping for a more tidy representation of life, I would advise you to back the fuck away from the Long Beach Playhouse Theater. Otherwise, you may end up disappointed like Betsy Kinder from our local paper, The Daily 49er. I’d like to take a moment to respectfully disagree with Miss Kinder’s review of Four Clowns. Am I biased because I write for the Union Weekly? Just a smidgen. Why you might ask? Because I fucking loved the play! Kinder said, “the audience is bombarded with
over the top sex scenes and cussing,” and also that, “the clowns mostly play at emotions.” Life is in your face; it is obscene and ugly at times, which is Aluma’s main point. As for these clowns playing at the audience’s emotions I feel that this is central to the play’s story and humor. Every member of the audience may not be able to relate to the stories that are presented but they can empathize. I especially loved Nervous Clown’s gay, adolescent misadventures with love because it speaks to the outcast in all of us (especially the gay kind, I’m gay!). I appreciate that Aluma’s creation is not a one-sided happy clown show, but an honest, hilariously exaggerated, portrayal of the human experience. Shit gets real in the play because life is real. Oh and Kinder also mentions that the, “production lacks comedy and leaves audiences dumbfounded.” Um, yeah, if you’re humorless and/or slow... bitch. But a clown traditionally functions as a delighter and Four Clowns offers audiences many moments of spontaneous releases of laughter. Much of the humor comes from the audience’s awareness that the clowns
are playing humans. The actors’ expressive physical mannerisms also sell the comedy. Like when Angry Clown leapt into the audience during the “Adolescence” musical number and began to violently hump the empty seats in the fourth row. I wasn’t simply laughing because I find simulated sex with inanimate objects hysterical, but what really sold it was the fervor with which he worked those (lucky) seats. If you fail to find the antics of these four clowns touching, humorous, or entertaining you’re probably not human. Wait, that’s unfair. Children, who might not understand the jokes, probably won’t like the play. Old people, with their prudish views on sex, may not like the show’s freewheeling sexual spirit. Oh and people with sticks, branches, or other wooden sexual paraphernalia lodged in their rectums, who find nothing amusing because the foreign object in said asshole prevents them from finding any joy in life, will leave Four Clowns having wasted their sorry-ass time. Four Clowns is playin at the Long Beach Playhouse through March 19.
ism being thrown at me like angry darts, the Fincher lighting, and the exhausting temperature (I thought taking my jacket off would remove audience members from the compelling moment) continued to throw off my psychological equilibrium. There were moments where I wondered if this tiny establishment was just a fat inside joke. Moments when there was laughter from the audience where it definitely was not supposed to be funny made me think that some kids had the subconscious reflex of, “I know that guy, so it’s funny.” And I’m not bagging on the performance at all. Attending any showcase of Beckett is like going to a cult classic at the Art Theatre. Nerds, hardcore whatevers, hipsters, and people who just generally have interesting taste flock to it like
it’s tangible cred. The night was drowning itself in that cred. Being shoved into that not-too-large rectangular classroom with smelly theater punks did have a strange vibe that I liked because it felt edgy and unknown to 90% of the students at Long Beach. This was invisibly aided by the fact that this was all going on close to midnight. If this same scenario would have taken place at the Friday afternoon showcase, it would have had a totally different and probably forgettable feel. That’s why I’m sure I’ll go back as many times as Federico texts me a reminder. I feel it’s always going to be a weird experience where I can consciously see life happening before me and think philosophically about why I do the things I do, but Beckett was into that stuff, so it works.
Theatre de force STEVE ON THEATRE SHOWCASES STEVE BESSETTE UNION STAFFER, NICE GUY
I told my COMM 130 classmate Federico that if he didn’t text me on Thursday night about the theater showcase, I wouldn’t go. Sure enough I got a call from him, my mind almost simultaneously connected Federico, to Thursday, to the showcase. “Yeah, I’ll go,” I said. Even though theater consumed my already pathetic life during high school, going into college, I couldn’t have cared less. I respect the art of acting, I’m down with The Method, I have no problem with theater people (for the most part), why not go to a late night ritual with stage rats. Being in that theater building, awkwardly standing by as Federico and his cohorts jawed on, sitting knee-to-knee with drama geeks watching dark absurdist theater in a room so dimly lit that David
Fincher’s DP would have been jealous, was weird. Not in a bad way necessarily, I had fun and enjoyed the performance, I just had a weird time cramming into my brain that I was actually in that situation. The night showcased the golden goose professor of the theater department, Craig Fleming, performing Samuel Beckett’s one-man, one-act Krapp’s Last Tape, about a bitter old guy remembering his youth through the journal tapes he recorded throughout the years, subsequently recording one last tape. The staged area was setup with a desk where Krapp sat, with a reel-to-reel for tape playback, a single lamp hanging above, and three televisions. The televisions would light up with images to accompany the words of the tape he was listening to. That added abstraction, the constant symbol-
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A BOOK FOR BOOKIES
GRAB SOME GABAGOOL AND CUDDLE UP WITH A MAFIA BOOK, BABBO GABE FERREIRA ASSISTANT ART DIRECTOR
KATY PARKER LITERATURE EDITOR
f all the books that I have read, none have kept my mind hooked as intensely as Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia. If you define History Channel’s “Gangland” as terrifying and think Martin Scorsese’s 1995 film Casino gives you a good idea of how powerful the mafia is, it’s time for you to start setting new standards. Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia gives readers a new, mind-blowing perspective on how deeply penetrated the mob really is in our society (or at least how it was when the story told in the book took place). The book tells the story of Joseph D. Pi-
14 MARCH 2011
stone, an FBI secret agent who took on the challenge of going undercover in the Italian mafia under the pseudonym Donnie Brasco. What started out as a small-scale mission turned into the largest undercover operation in the FBI’s history. In the six years that agent Pistone infiltrated this criminal network, he built a good relationship with several of the top members of the mafia. He robbed, killed and partied with the mobsters, all of which he describes in deep detail in the book. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Donnie Brasco’s trajectory is the way he climbed his way up the ranks of the mafia. His ingenuity is admirable, and if you’ve ever wondered how the
fuck you become a mafia chief, this book will give you the answer. Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia ends with a short chapter in which Joseph Pistone talks about how his mafia years have affected his and his family’s life. Pistone’s accomplishments were unbelievable: over 100 criminals were successfully arrested because of his actions alone, and his job was so well done that certain FBI and NYPD officers, unaware of Donnie’s real persona, opened federal cases against him. However, this last section of the book makes readers question whether his self-sacrifice was actually
worth it. Pistone was forced to have plastic surgery, change his name and move to a new state in addition to taking several safety measures every time he leaves the house, be it by himself or with his family. It is a true case of emotional suicide. What makes Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia special and unique is the truthfulness of the information presented to the reader. There is none of the typical Hollywood and television drama and exaggeration added to Donnie’s accounts. They are factual, exciting, and will open your mind to a new world you might have not known existed.
9 6 3 2 8 7 4
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DISSECT MY BRAIN YOU’RE STUCK HERE
KEVIN NG UNION STAFFER
gruns from thE
Volume 68 Issue 7
This page is satire. We are not ASI, nor do we represent the CSULB campus. Email any questions, concerns, Tales, Crypts, to email@example.com, then go to hell.
Monday, March 14th, 2011
The Crypt Keeper Presents: A Terrifying Tale of Journalism BY THE CRYPT KEEPER Hello Boils and Gruels, it’s everyone’s favorite spooky story-teller, The Crypt Keeper, here to haunt the pages of the Grunion. I’ve been down on my luck recently, but I think this article might just widen my audience... or should I say FRIGHTEN? I probably shouldn’t, actually. This article is actually more of my story, what I’ve been up to lately. Recently, I filed for bankCRYPTcy, and my wife left me... for DEAD! Or maybe… for TED? Yeah, another corpse named Ted. He’s actually a pretty nice guy and much less decomposed, so I can’t blame her. This week’s tale is a story of CRIPPLING depression, and boneliness! I like to call it… “ClassiFright Ad.”
“Male Seeking Male To Spook” reads the classified ad a young, hip college student (much like yourself) picks up. He glances it over a few times. Looks pretty cool. The puns are spot on, and it asks for a cool young college student to come over to a lonely Crypt Keeper’s crypt for tons of fun and maybe a spooky story, too. It even does a quick rap that sounds pretty “Fresh,” unlike me, the CRIP KEEPER,
who is long dead! The rap reads: “Come on over, entertain these old bones/I’ll tell a story, a crypt is my home./I cry all night, but no tears come out/I’m a corpse, you dummy, I’m all dried out!” The young man is so shocked by the coolness of the article, his hair stands on end, and he drops the article on the ground. He leaves the article there on the ground, choosing to not follow up on the ad. A very GRAVE decision indeed! Meanwhile, the Crypt Keeper is just hanging in his crypt doing normal stuff. You know, hanging out next to the BONE PHONE, hoping some unfortunate soul may call. He doesn’t even mind if it’s the wrong number, it’s just nice for him to hear someone’s voice. He entertains the caller with a couple quick puns, “Sorry, you may have the wrong number. No matter, you’re all DEAD RINGERS in my book! Eeeyeah ha ha ha haaa.” But the dialtone had already started before he could complete the pun. The Crypt Keeper HANGS his head low in SHAME. After a while, once he’s sure no one is going to call, the Crypt Keeper checks his mailbox. No mail has come in a while, but he has a feeling in his GUTS, today might be the day. And sure enough, the mail SCARIER arrives. How SCAREndipitous, indeed. Since the Crypt Keeper is a bit self-conscious about his looks these days, he delivers his frightful puns through the mail-hole on his door: “Hello, IMPALEman, got any letters for this BAG of BONES?” The mailman does not even seem a tiny bit frightened, though. He simply replies “Sorry, Sir, only junk mail today,” as he slides the mail through the slot. “Rats!” says the Crypt Keeper.
Next time on...
gruns from thE
“Well, at least you were a polite man. Have a good FRIGHT, and PLEASANT SCREAMS!” says the Crypt Keeper, even though it is obviously the afternoon, making the pun pretty ineffective.
Meanwhile, the inconsiderate young man from earlier continues about his day, doing errands, and saying “hello” to his multiple friends along the way. Sickening. Like any LIVING human, the man has to take a quick trip to the bathroom. As he sits down, the toilet collapses underneath him. Backing away, he surveys the damage. Much to his HORROR, the toilet has changed into hundreds upon hundreds of the Crypt Keeper ad that he had written off earlier that day. Talk about MUCKRAKING! Writing it off as a fluke, the young man continues about his day. As he arrives at his home, he greets his beautiful wife who loves him unconditionally. How SWEET. After a candlelit dinner, the young man and his wife retire to the bedroom. Just as they are about to begin INTERCOURSE, the man feels a piece of paper between him and his wife. “How odd,” he says. He looks down, only to realize his penis has been transformed into a rolled up newspaper. No wonder his wife seemed uninPRESSed. It seems like the man’s start-
Tinkle Crankus loved torturing ants as much as he loved eating jelly SANDWITCHES (Eh yeah he he ha ha ha). Everyday he would take his trusty magnifying glass to the biggest anthill he could find, burn the limbs away from the little workers, and have a small snack, a sloppy Jelly SANDWITCH, under a tree to SKELEBRATE. “Ah. What a
ing to get the PICTURE. Fearing what other prized possessions of his may be transformed into a newspaper, the man spends his remaining money and seeks sanctuary in the tundra of Alaska. “Surely no curse could follow me this far,” he thinks. Just as he is about to relax, alone, and safe from danger on the tundra, he spots something in the distance approaching. His mind races with what the approaching demon may be. What newspaper related HORROR awaits? He realizes that it is nothing but a harmless penguin. He walks up happily to greet the CUDDLY CREATURE, only to realize that instead of only white feathers, the penguin has words written on it. “No.. no, it can’t be,” the man says. But of course the answer is yes. The classified ad is written on the penguin.
comes a decripit, old corpse, also known as the Crypt Keeper. BUT, here’s the twist: The Crypt Keeper is very friendly and actually a kinda cool guy, and he and the man have some laughs, and share each other secrets. “I always wished I was a squirrel,” says the Crypt Keeper. “That way, I could BURY A GRAPE, then in the winter I could eat a RAISIN.” The man doesn’t even care that he doesn’t say a pun or a spooky thing and they form an instant bond. They share all their secrets and they hang out for all eternity. TWIST #2: The Crypt Keeper in the story was ME! The Crypt Keeper. It was me all along. Talk about an autobiograFIEND!!! A ROT-obiography!!! AYEAH heheh ha haaa…
The man realizes that there’s only one thing to be done. He returns back to his home town, and decides to BITE the BULLET and respond to the Crypt Keeper’s ad. He approaches the Crypt Keeper’s home, and as if guided by some mysterious force, walks in. He approaches a bookshelf, which opens, beckoning him to enter a secret stairwell. The stairs wind down to an old dusty crypt, covered in spider webs. Suddenly, a coffin explodes open, and out
So there you have it kiddies, looks like that man really got his CUM MUFFINS. It just goes to show, you’ll get SPOOKED by a SCARY THING if you don’t pay attention to me! Sorry, I guess maybe I’m a little RUSTY with this whole pun thing. Just remember, if my ex-wife calls, tell her she’s a ROTTEN WITCH! Unless she wants me back, in that case, tell her I’m all FEARS!! EYEAAH ha ha ha HAAA.
wonderful day!” he SHRIEKED after a long day of burning ants. “I think I’ll take a quick nap under this tree before going home. Sure hope nothing bad happens,” as he took off all his clothes and wiped the excess jelly off on his butt before laying his head to rest. Little did Tinkle know that he accidentally rubbed some jelly into his butthole when he
parked his soft, sweet bottom on the home of a few angry ants. Slowly, they crawled up his butt and ate away and replaced all his organs. From that day forth, the ants controlled every aspect of Tinkle Crankus’ body. Then the ants used Tinkle’s body to run for presidANT. Let that be a lesson to you kiddies. Be nice to you Uncle and your ANT-E EHHEHEHEHHEHEHEH