Winter 2022

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WINTER 2022 VINDICATOR C leveland State University’s Art and Culture Magazine WINTER. 2022 Brewing Up a Union Page 26 Vindicator Wrapped Page 20 Kennel Crisis Page 24 Pumpkin Spice & Seasonal Flavor Boom Page 22

TURN AND FACE THE STRANGE

By the time December rolls around, I’m usually burnt out.

It’s not an unusual story. Throughout fall, the semester barrels forward — bringing with it more deadlines, more responsibilities, more things to juggle and pray you don’t drop. And then, with the frenzied blur of finals week finally coming to an end, you’re suddenly granted the room to breathe again. It feels surreal — to me, the coming of the New Year often feels like the eye of the storm. The feeling of the old passing and the new just around the bend that marks the end of the year offers a rare and beautiful moment to reflect on the past and hope for what the future brings.

This issue, there’s plenty of “new” to celebrate, especially with so many first-time contributors. Make sure to check out Jake Ryan’s review of “Pearl” and “X” on page 6. First-time or casual viewers of “Game of Thrones” will certainly want to check out Celeste Zirm’s fan-friendly introduction to “House of the Dragon” on page 10. Those who appreciate poetry and creative writing will also want to read Leah Bunner’s “Calypso” and Maris Wirt’s “Degenerate” on pages 40 and 42 respectively.

We also say goodbye to plenty of beloved faces at the Vindicator at the end of this year, as well. Check out Arts Editor Sheila Kiss’s last piece on overrated, underrated and perfectly-rated Trader Joe’s on page [xx]. Sheila, it was a delight to have you on the team. The Vindicator team will miss you dearly and wishes you the best on your post-graduate endeavors.

This is also the last issue that current Art Director Katie Justiniani will design for. Katie, thank you so much for all your hard work on ensuring that The Vindicator always looks absolutely stunning. Your unique style and use of color made your magazine designs absolutely striking — your creative spirit in The Vindicator is irreplaceable. We know that you will continue to spread your charm and creativity outside of CSU.

I may be a bit biased, but I believe that there’s nothing more leisurely and relaxing than spending some time reading. I hope that this issue serves as a peaceful break from the late-semester burnout. Take some time to recharge — you deserve it. As the year comes to a close, I encourage you to take the time for yourself to pause, reflect, and release the past while preparing to embrace the future.

Happy holidays and have a wonderful New Year!

Sincerely,

MEET THE CONTRIBUTORS

STAFF HEADS

Cara Robbins Editor-in-Chief

Katherine Justiniani Art Director

Jakob Roberts Assistant Art Director

Megan Mullaly Managing Editor

Lynn Nichols Copy Editor

Riley Roliff Multimedia Manager

Sheila Kiss Arts Editor

Cael Shaw Culture Editor

Emma Smallwood Features Editor

Sophie Farrar Fashion and Wellness Editor

Abigail Jarvis Social Editor

Abigail Preiszig Online Content Manager

DESIGNERS

Prathinav Dutta

Katherine Justiniani

Zanna Lewkowicz

Megan Mullaly

Jakob Roberts

Gabby Wise

WRITERS

Andrea Brazis

Leah Bunner

Halle Elder

Sophie Farrar

Abigail Jarvis

Sheila Kiss

Cameron Mays

Lainey Novak

Abigail Preiszig

Riley Roliff

Jake Ryan Cael Shaw

Emma Smallwood

Maris Wirt

Celeste Zirm

VIDEO

Riley Roliff

*The content of the Vindicator does not necessarily represent the opinions of Cleveland State University, its students, faculty, or staff: nor does it represent the members of the Vindicator staff or our advisors unless otherwise stated. The editor reserves the right to comment on any issue that affects the student body in general as well as the multicultural community at large. Letters to the editor and other submissions are accepted, however they must have the author’s name, address, major if applicable, and telephone number. All submissions become property of the Vindicator and the Vindicator reserves the right to edit submissions as deemed necessary. Magazine and newspaper theft is a crime; limit one per person.*

XTRA! XTRA! DOUBLE FEATURE!

review of the films “X” and “Pearl” by Ti West

Warning: This review will contain spoilers for both “X” and “Pearl.”

By the time the credits began to roll, Pearl (Mia Goth) had peered through my soul with tears in her eyes and a smile on her face. Despite the fact that it had been over three hours, I still wanted more.

Rewind to earlier in the evening when I began watching “X,” written and directed by Ti West and starring Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega, Brittany Snow, Martin Henderson, Owen Campbell and Cleveland’s own Kid Cudi. The film follows a group of promiscuous young adults on the road in rural Texas as they attempt to achieve stardom by making an “adult” film. Their film location is a small, secluded farmhouse owned by an elderly couple. At first, you think the old couple simply won’t like the young filmmakers because of their raunchy and “devilish” behavior, but you quickly come to realize that it goes much deeper than that. The setting sun spells doom for our characters as each of them is killed off one by one by the mysterious old woman and her husband: except for one, Maxine (Mia Goth). Maybe it’s fate, maybe it’s luck or maybe it’s because she has the “X-factor” — unlike one of the film’s main villains and the farm’s matriarch, Pearl (also played by Goth in special effects makeup).

One of the things I appreciate most about this movie is its style. It pays homage to the films of the era in which it is set. Its grainy, dirty, “shot-onfilm” look is akin to the low-budget horror films of the 70s, specifically “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” This is something that you don’t typically see nowadays with modern horror movies. The film is also genuinely unnerving at times. Without going into too much detail, a particular scene near the end involving Maxine and the old couple in a bedroom will leave even viewers with strong stomachs with feelings of unease and disgust.

The prequel to “X,” “Pearl,” was released in September of this year, just five months after “X” was released in March.

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PHOTO

Set nearly 60 years before the events of “X,” “Pearl” follows Pearl (still played by Goth, who co-wrote the film alongside West), a young farm girl whose sole desire in life is to leave her home behind and follow her dreams of stardom. However, she is held back by her controlling mother (Tandi Wright), an incapacitated father (Matthew Sunderland) and a husband who is overseas fighting in the Great War (Alistair Sewell). After going into town one day to pick up some medicine for her father, she takes the time to see a film at a local theater. The town is filled with people wearing masks due to the Spanish Flu outbreak, an eerie historical parallel to our own real-world experiences. While there, she meets a projectionist (David Corenswet) with whom she comes to have an affair. This awakening fills Pearl with hope that maybe one day she can be a star “just like the girls in the pictures.” Her mother, however, has different ideas, and is determined not to let Pearl leave her home. Her mother’s decision leads the two into a fight, causing her mother’s violent end at Pearl’s hands. At the climax of the film, Pearl auditions for a national dance troupe at her local church. Despite her best efforts, she doesn’t secure a spot. When she asks why, one of the judges responds by saying she lacks the “X-factor.”

In a similar fashion to its predecessor, “Pearl”’s style is based on the films of the time. Its bright, lively color scheme and cinematography resembles that of “The Wizard of Oz” in stark contrast to the unsaturated, gross look of “X.”

The cast in both films do a spectacular job, but the one who really steals the show is Mia Goth in her dual roles. Her haunting performance in “Pearl” culminates in a nearly seven-minute monologue near the film’s end. It’s implied in both films that Pearl is a sociopath, and this monologue serves as a confession. She knows something is wrong with her, but she doesn’t know what. Given the time period both films are set in, it’s unlikely she would receive the proper help she needs.

Much of what I didn’t like about these films can be easily boiled down into one word: nitpick. The only major fault with “X” is its pacing. The film can be a bit slow at times, especially in the beginning, which may lead to boredom among some viewers. “Pearl” almost has the opposite problem. The pacing of the film is fine, but the way it presents its content is totally different. There isn’t much in terms of a plot in “Pearl”; it is a character-driven movie, which some audiences may not enjoy.

Watching nearly three and a half hours of anything can be a chore, especially when it’s two entirely different movies back-to-back. But in the case of “X” and “Pearl,” that is the best way to enjoy these films. This isn’t even the last we’ll see of Ti West and this series, as a sequel “MaXXXine” is set to release sometime in the near future.

No review would be complete without an obligatory score at the end to summarize the contents into one numerical value.

FINAL SCORES:

“X”: 8.5/10

“Pearl”: 9/10

Maybe it’s fate, maybe it’s luck or maybe it’s because she has the “X-factor”
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(not everything has to be) GROUNDBREAKING

Why does it matter if “Midnights” is mid?

Nowadays it seems like people’s standards for art have reached an all time high. If something isn’t groundbreaking, Earth-shattering and world-changing all at the same time, then it is proclaimed as garbage and the person that created it is ridiculed. So why is art now held to such high standards? And why is the general public so hypercritical of everything? Not all music has to be Grammy nominated and record-breaking. Sometimes things are just okay and that in itself should be okay.

Taylor Swift’s newest album “Midnights” has been the latest victim of society’s high standards for artwork. Despite the records the highly-anticipated album broke and its positive critic reviews, much of the general public and Swift’s fans alike were left disappointed by the singer-songwriter’s most recent release.

“Midnights” saw Swift return to her pop past and leave her folk era behind in 2021 with sister albums “Folklore” and “Evermore.” New fans that started listening to Swift because of her stark switch in genre with “Folklore,” and old fans that started listening to Swift again because of the album’s craftsmanship,

were surprised to hear her pivot back to pop with “Midnights.” The album in itself was reminiscent of Swift’s prior works, such as “1989” and “Lover.” While some fans were excited for Swift’s popgirl comeback, others were left feeling let down by “Midnights.” The innovation and change-of-pace from Swift that came with the release of “Folklore” and “Evermore,” set her up for disappointment from “Midnights” listeners.

Admittedly, I’m pretty easy to please and am not supercritical when it comes to the art that I’m consuming. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed “Midnights.” Was it my favorite Swift album? No, nothing will ever top “Red” for me, but it homed an unique concept, was well-written and catchy. Songs from “Midnights (3 a.m. Edition)” such as “The Great War” and “Bigger Than The Whole Sky” even reminded me of songs on “Folklore” and “Evermore.” I can admit that the album is perhaps not as good as Swift’s previous two releases, but I think it would be plain silly to qualify the album as bad just because of that fact. To me, the public’s reception of “Midnights” is a prime example of society’s need for all art to be revolutionary and remarkable.

So why did this shift in standards happen? And when did society become the ultimate judge of what art is worthy and what art is worthless?

I believe the main culprit is the high quantity and

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intake of art that there is now. We have the world at our fingertips thanks to the complexity and ability of our smartphones. Social media and music streaming services in tandem allows us to absorb rampant amounts of art everyday. It also adds pressure on artists to continuously create to keep up with the evermoving pace. When a never-ending stream of art is available for us to constantly consume, our standards for said art are going to increase, especially when considering how art had to be consumed in the past.

What artists had to achieve to be deemed successful or talented in the past is far different from what they have to achieve today. The rise in popularity of streaming and the decline in use of physical media like CDs has changed how frequent we can listen to music and how available it is to us. Before, if you wanted to listen to an artist’s new song or album, you had to either buy the single or CD in a store or online on a site such as iTunes. Now, you can listen to new releases on a variety of platforms such as Youtube, Spotify or Apple Music, just to name a few. As always, the radio is there too, of course.

The easy access of music on these platforms has allowed us to consume a plethora of art like we never could before. Gone are the limitations that buying CDs and individual songs brought along with them. You are no longer restricted to only listening to the songs that you could afford to purchase and own. Purchasing a premium subscription to most streaming services is unnecessary in order to access their library of songs, with the exception of some limitations and ads.

Switching from song to song, album to album and artist to artist is as painless as ever. You can access the majority of music made by a simple tap of a finger. The ease of streaming feeds into our ability to be overly judgemental of what we’re listening to. When you have almost all of the music that’s ever been created at your fingertip, you’re undoubtedly going to be more critical due to the amount of comparison you can make.

I’m asking people to take a step back and appreciate things for what they are. The next time you’re listening to new – or old – music, take a second to appreciate the work that went into creating what is playing in your ears and the effort that was necessary for it to be made available to you. Ask yourself: could I make this? If the answer is yes, that doesn’t automatically make it bad. Take it as inspiration to create something yourself.

Creating art is no easy feat. And we shouldn’t treat it as if it is. You’re allowed to not like something or to think that something isn’t particularly great. Just remember that that doesn’t make it inherently bad. So what if something is just okay? Not everything needs to be groundbreaking to be worthy of love, respect and enjoyment.

Most Groundbreaking

Least Groundbreaking (But still great!)

A DEFINITIVE RANKING OF T-SWIFT ALBUMS (by

their groundbreaking-ness, NOT bop-ability)

“Folklore” (2020)

No album can top the surprise drop and genre shift that was “Folklore.”

“Reputation” (2017)

The girls that get it, get it. There’s nothing quite like Swift releasing an album about her bad reputation when her reputation was at an all time low.

“Red” (2012)

The original genre-changing, system-shaking Swift album. With “Red,” Swift established herself as a popgirl.

“1989” (2014)

“1989” set the tone for pop music in 2014 and the years to follow.

“Speak Now” (2010)

Swift was widely criticized for using too many writers, so she wrote “Speak Now” completely on her own. It not only became the fastest-selling digital album by a female artist, but also debuted at Number One on the Billboard Charts, proving Swift’s musical prowess.

“Lover” (2019)

Dua Lipa once sang, “Did a full 180, crazy.” Rumor is Lipa’s lyrics were inspired by Swift’s complete turn-around from “Reputation” to “Lover.”

“Fearless” (2008)

“Fearless” is home to Swift classics such as “Love Story” and “You Belong With Me.” Where would we be without her?

“Evermore” (2020)

Fans were still recovering from “Folklore” when Swift surprise dropped her sister “Evermore.”

“Midnights” (2022)

Swift’s pivot back to pop was a pleasant surprise for fans with a particular love for her albums preceding “Folklore.”

“Taylor Swift” (2006)

Least groundbreaking does not mean not groundbreaking at all. Not only did Swift release her debut album at only 16, but she was also the first female country singer to write or co-write a US platinum-certified album completely.

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Not everything has to be groundbreaking to be worthy of love...
WINTER 2022

HOUSE OF THE DRAGON

We’re going back to Westeros! Set 180 years before the birth of Daenerys Targaryen, “House of the Dragon” tells the story of House Targaryen in the days before its downfall. Whether you’re new to the series or just a casual fan of “Game of Thrones,” this guide has everything you need to know to enjoy this “Game of Thrones” spinoff.

WE’RE GOING BACK TO WESTEROS!

What Story Is This?

Game of Thrones fans, do you remember that scene in Season 5 episode 9 where Shireen Baratheon tells her father about the book she is reading, “The Dance of Dragons”? That’s this story. Essentially, King Viserys only has one child, a daughter named Rhaenyra, so he declares her the Heir to the Iron Throne and makes all the Lords of Westeros swear fealty to her. Later, he marries Alicent Hightower and she gives him a son, Aegon II. Now, who the actual Heir is becomes a question. Tradition says it’s the firstborn son, but everyone swore to Rhaenyra. In a very patriarchal Westeros, this is going to be a problem.

I’m Confused. Are All Targaryens Named “Aegon”? In short, yes. There are four major Aegons in the Thrones universe.

• Aegon I: “The Conqueror”, conquered Westeros and died long before this story starts.

Aegon II: King Viserys’s son by Alicent Hightower, Rhaenyra’s half-brother.

• Aegon III: Rhaenyra’s son by Daemon.

• Aegon VI: aka Jon Snow.

Who Are the Blacks and the Greens?

Since the Dance of Dragons is a civil war amongst the Targaryen family, the two sides are known as “The Blacks” and “The Greens.” The Blacks are those who side with Rhaenyra. The Greens are those who side with Aegon II. They’re called “The Greens” because of Queen Alicent’s green dress entrance during Rhaenyra’s wedding.

WHO ARE THE MAIN CHARACTERS?

KING VISERYS TARGARYEN the King of the Seven Kingdoms. (Played by Paddy Considine)

RHAENYRA

TARGARYEN

Viserys’ first-born daughter. Named Heir to the Iron Throne. (Played by Milly Alcock and Emma D’Arcy)

DAEMON TARGARYEN

brother to the King. Was the Heir before Rhaenyra. (Played by Matt Smith)

RHAENYS TARGARYEN

“The Queen that Never Was.” Cousin to King Viserys and wife of Corlys Velaryon. (Played by Eve Best)

What’s

With the Timeline Jumps?

In an effort to show the buildup of tension and generational hate between the Blacks and the Greens, the show starts with five episodes of teen/young adult Rhaenyra and Alicent (played by Milly Alcock and Emily Carey, respectively). There are several time jumps within these episodes as well, mostly explained in the show, such as the three year time

ARTS
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DESIGNED BY ZANNA LEWKOWICZ

A Guide to the “Game of Thrones” Prequel for the Casual Fan

jump between episodes two and three. The most notable, however, is the tenyear time jump between episodes five and six. The characters all age up and are (mostly) played by new actors, making episode six feel almost like a second pilot. Episode six introduces many new characters, most of them the children of the characters we’ve already met, and shows how the generational hate spread to them. This episode is definitely confusing, but in short: Jacaerys, Lucerys and Joffrey are Rhaenyra’s children with Laenor Velaryon, and Aegon II, Halaena and Aemond are Alicent’s with King Viserys.

What

is the Song of Ice and Fire?

ALICENT HIGHTOWER

Childhood best friend of Rhaenyra, eventually marries Viserys. (Played by Emily Carey and Olivia Cooke)

AEGON II TARGARYEN

first born son of the King, and son of Alicent Hightower. (Played by Tom Glynn-Carney)

OTTO HIGHTOWER

Hand of the King. Alicent’s father. (Played by Rhys Ifans)

CORLYS VELARYON

“The Sea Snake,” and “Lord of the Tides.” Married to Rhaenys Targaryen. (Played by Steve Toussaint)

SER CRISTON COLE

Rhaenyra names him a Knight of the King’s Guard. Queen Alicent’s sworn protector. (Played by Fabien Frankel)

WHAT ABOUT THE DRAGONS?

There’s a lot of dragons in this season, most of them far bigger than Daenerys’ dragon in “Game of Thrones,” Drogon, ever was. We have:

SYRAX Rhaenyra’s dragon.

ARRAX

Prince Lucerys Valaryon’s dragon.

CARAXES “The Blood Wyrm.” Daemon’s dragon.

MELEYS Rhaenys’s dragon.

BALERION

The “song of ice and fire” is the prophecy passed down from King to Heir throughout Targaryen history. It states that a terrible winter will come out of the North, and with it, the power to destroy mankind. “The Prince or Princess who was promised” is the only one who can unite the Seven Kingdoms to save everyone. We know that the event being referred to is the defeat of the White Walkers in the “Game of Thrones” episode, “The Long Night.” Fans still debate whether the Prince or Princess who was promised is Daenerys or Jon Snow, so hopefully this knowledge can help you form your own opinion on that. Also, the blade Viserys is holding in the scene when he tells Rhaenyra is the same that Arya uses during “The Long Night.”

What Else Should I Know?

“House of the Dragon” feels a lot like the first few seasons of “Game of Thrones” with its complicated plot points, extensive history and dialogue-heavy scenes. This show’s violence is significantly less gratuitous, focusing a lot more on the complicated dynamics of the characters. Of course, being a “Game of Thrones” show, there are still some scenes that exist simply for shock value, but far less than in the original show. If you find the storyline interesting and want to spoil the next few seasons, the source material comes from the book “Fire and Blood” by George R. R. Martin. The show was renewed for a second season the day after the first episode released and is projected to have 3-4 seasons in total.

Where Can I Watch?

All episodes of season 1 are streaming now on HBO Max with a subscription.

SEASMOKE

Laenor Valaryon’s dragon.

Okay, so technically we never see him living, but we do see his huge skull in the crypt. Known as “The Black Dread,” he was by far the biggest dragon.

VHAGAR

The oldest and biggest dragon we’ll see alive. Multiple riders.

DREAMFYRE

Princess Halaena Targaryen’s dragon.

VERMAX

Jacaerys Valaryon’s dragon.

WINTER 2022
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Winter Traditions

A look into some of the bizarre winter/ holiday traditions around the world

any of us here in the United States of America, when thinking about winter traditions, would come up with ideas surrounding Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. This could be presents under the tree, sledding down hills, Christmas caroling, spinning the dreidel and exchanging gifts. We are aware of these traditions because they surround us every year, but what do you know about traditions that are celebrated in the winter months from around the world?

Different cultures and different countries celebrate in their own unique ways, but there are some winter traditions that stick out. The following traditions and celebrations showcase some of the most interesting winter traditions from around the world.

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Polar Plunge

efore we go too far from home, this tradition is one that occurs right in our backyard. The polar plunge is a winter tradition that is celebrated in parts of the U.S. and Canada, primarily the Northeast and the Midwest. Usually occurring on New Year’s Day, participants of a polar plunge jump into freezing cold rivers, lakes and ponds wearing only their swimsuits. These events are often held for a charity fundraiser or to bring awareness to certain causes. Minnesota’s polar plunge is one of the largest fundraisers for the Special Olympics, and many other states use this tradition to raise money for Special Olympics as well. Would you try this daring tradition for a good cause?

Shoe toss

Across the Atlantic, this Christmas tradition from the Czech Republic has the ability to tell one’s future. On Christmas Eve, young, unmarried women perform a winter ritual in which they walk outside their homes and throw a shoe over their shoulder. Legend has it that wherever the shoe points foretells the women’s relationship for the next year. If it falls pointing towards the door of their home, it is a sign that the woman will be in a relationship in the next year. Sometimes, it means that she will be married within the year. However, if it points any way but directly at the door, the women will spend the next year single. Depending on the woman’s wishes, either option could be a good or bad omen. Would you prefer the shoe be pointing towards the door, or away?

Dongzhi Festival

Christmas is not the only holiday that is celebrated worldwide. Another common winter holiday celebration is the Winter Solstice, which occurs on the shortest day of the year, when the Earth’s pole reaches its maximum distance away from the sun. On this day, an important Chinese festival takes place in countries around east Asia. The Dongzhi Festival (named for a Mandarin term meaning “winter’s extreme”) has its origins in the yin and yang philosophy of Chinese culture. The hope is that as the days grow longer after the winter solstice, the positive, or yang, energy will begin to flow. During this festival, families unite and share in a feast to celebrate the coming days. One of the highlights of the meal is the ear-shaped dumplings, which carry a legend that a physician once took pity on the homeless people in his town and fed them dumplings, preventing their ears from getting frostbite (and inspiring the unusual shape). How will you celebrate the coming shorter days?

Yalda Night

Another celebration of the winter solstice occurs on Yalda Night, which is celebrated primarily in Iran, as well as other Persian-influenced countries like Afghanistan, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan. Yalda translates to “birth” in English, so this night is a symbol of rebirth as the days begin to grow longer after the solstice. This night is one of the most important celebrations of the year for those who celebrate as it has origins in ancient Persia and it is regarded as a celebration in honor of Ahura Mazda, the lord of wisdom. On this night, families gather together throughout the night reading poems to one another and share food and drinks. Some of the most important items on the menu include watermelon and pomegranates, as these two fruits are said to represent the cycle of life. What will you do this winter to promote your own wisdom coming out of the winter season?

Noche de los Rábanos (Night of the Radishes)

Heading back over to the Americas, Noche de los Rabanos is a celebration that occurs in Oaxaca, Mexico which begins on December 23. This three-day festival involves residents of Oaxaca carrying large carved vegetables, specifically oversized radishes. These radishes are carved to look like the Nativity and special symbols of Mexican folklore. The carvings began as a gimmick for vegetable farmers to gain attention from customers at markets, but the finely-carved radishes began to be bought as centerpieces for Christmas dinner. At some point, these oversized carved radishes became so popular that a competition was held to find the best one for the year. Today, the competition brings visitors from far and wide as the residents of Oaxaca parade through their city with their creations. Do you think you could create a veggie masterpiece?

Conclusion

These winter traditions from around the world showcase the amazing diversity of traditions that we have as humans, while also showing that we all want to celebrate in some way. Whether it is familiar Christmas traditions, freezing endeavors, celebrations of the coming longer days, or vegetable centerpieces, there are so many different ways to celebrate. Each country, culture and person has their own traditions and celebrations, but it is always fun to learn about how others celebrate as well. I wish you all the best of luck finding your winter traditions this year!

Different cultures and different countries celebrate in their own unique ways, but there are some winter traditions that stick out. “
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JANUARY 6

two years later

The insurrection and the state of polarization in the US today

Democracy de·moc·ra·cy

/də’ mäkrəsē/ noun

1. Government by the people; esp. a system of government in which all the people of a state or polity are involved in making decisions about its affairs, typically by voting to elect representatives to a parliament or similar assembly (The Oxford Dictionary)

At 12:53 p.m. on Jan. 6, 2021 the first group of insurrectionists surged forward through police barricades towards the seat of American democracy. By 2:13 p.m., while Congress was in session to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election, the United States Capitol Building was breached. For the next three to four hours, more insurrectionists would flood the halls of the Republic they claimed to love. They shattered glass, smeared human feces on the walls, smoked a bowl of marijuana under the Capitol Rotunda and threatened the lives of American congressional representatives. This is the United States of America — this was never supposed to happen here. Each person in the Capitol on that day had one thing in common: they believed in the “Big Lie.” The lame duck president of the United States at the time pushed an election conspiracy that claims the Democratic Party committed acts of voter fraud and cheated in order to win the Presidency. A bogus claim; One that a number of elected officials condemn today.

But what has happened since then? Two years is a long time. In that time we have seen midterm elections, a new mayor of Cleveland, two disappointing postseasons for the Guardians, an Ohio State loss to Michigan, and Alabama finally out of the AP College Football top four. Also in that time, our government has been working day in and day out to right the wrong that was Jan. 6. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, at least 946 individuals have been charged for actions related to their attempt to overthrow the democratically elected government of the United States. These charges include but are not limited to:

Entering and Remaining in a Restricted Building Disorderly and Disruptive Conduct in a Restricted Building

• Violent Entry and Disorderly Conduct in a Capitol Building Parading, Demonstrating, or Picketing in a Capitol Building

• Civil Disorder

• Obstruction of an Official Proceeding Assaulting, Resisting or Impeding Certain Officers Entering and Remaining in a Restricted Building with a Deadly or Dangerous Weapon

• Engaging in Physical Violence in a Restricted Building with a Deadly or Dangerous Weapon.

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People who have been charged include a member of the West Virginia state legislature, the Q-anon Shaman (Viking Guy), and “Bob’s Burgers” voice actor Jay Johnston. The FBI continues the investigation and searches to this day.

Who do we blame for the attack on our nation’s Capitol? The U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol has the sole goal of figuring that out. The Committee’s investigation focused on the 45th President of the United States who, on Jan. 6, gave a flagrant speech urging his supporters to “walk down to the Capitol,” enraged by fiery language from the former President and his allies. This includes statements like “Let’s have trial by combat” (Rudy Guilliani) and “If we don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore” (Donald Trump).

The Committee of seven Democrats and two Republicans organized itself and immediately began its inquiry into the events of Jan. 6. Then, to the public’s surprise, the Committee organized nine public and televised hearings at the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C. They published never-before-seen footage of the attack, along with recordings of interviews and testimonies from journalists, Capitol Police, militant groups like the Proud Boys, and countless people within Trump’s circle. The final hearing on Oct. 13 ended with the Committee voting to subpoena the former President himself: an action that he has since challenged in court.

So, what do we do to prevent another Jan. 6? What do we do as a nation and as a people to combat radical feelings on both sides of the aisle in order to protect our democracy? We must look at, and understand the state of polarization in our country today. I had the privilege to interview Dr. David Stack, a professor of political science here at CSU who is currently teaching a Special Topics course on political, partisan polarization in the United States.

The following questions and answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Cael: What aspects of polarization, if any, were on display on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6, 2021?

Stack: Affective polarization was an important driver of Jan. 6. Essentially, partisans seem to be increasingly motivated by a dislike or even hatred of the opposing party and have made partisanship a core part of their own identities. When an event like an electoral loss threatens these identities, partisans are prone to lash out. If political leaders encourage and justify lashing out — like Trump in the runup to Jan. 6 — you have a volatile situation.

Cael: Would you say that polarization has grown stronger or weaker since the events that unfolded on Jan. 6?

Stack: Hopefully, it has dwindled a bit. For the most part, candidates that lost their elections in 2022 have conceded their losses.

Cael: To what extent have you seen polarization on our campus? In Northeast Ohio? In Ohio? Specifically during the 2022 midterm elections?

Stack: I'd say enthusiasm for the election was high, people were aware of the importance of the election and students I talked with said they were likely to vote. When parties are far apart, the stakes of the election go up. So one small silver lining of polarization is that it can encourage voter turnout and civic engagement

How do we solve the issue of polarization? In the plainest terms, we moderate. We try to elect politicians that are closer to the middle. As a political science major, I see that many of my classmates and professors, including Dr. Stack, believe that serious internal reforms need to be made in order to truly reduce polarization, in Congress as well as among the public.

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What do we do as a nation and as a people to combat radical feelings on both sides of the aisle in order to protect our democracy? “
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If Carl Linneaus was on TikTok, he’d probably make all the plants and animals take political compass tests. Suffice to say, this four- quadrant spectrum seems to be the most popular form of taxonomy these days. To pinpoint why is as simply convoluted as binomial nomenclature. Are we a more political time? Maybe. Are we a more divided time? Potentially. Are we a more organized time? Yes. This is the time for needless classifications. Truthfully, we have run out of Latin words, and Buzzfeed quizzes are too millennia for our previous organizational systems to be of any use. We need the depth of the political compass test.

I, too, love classifying different people. Unfortunately, organizing people by politics is too pedestrian for my tastes. I prefer organizing people by organizational habits. My four- quadrant spectrum is relatively simple. The x-axis runs from “keeps everything” on the left to “throws away everything” on the right. The y-axis runs from “knows where everything is” on the bottom and “doesn’t know where anything is” on the top. My organizational habits compass requires no test, just a good look around. Administering the test involves a thirty-second scan of one’s living space with near instantaneous results.

I personally fall under “keeps everything” and “doesn’t know where anything is.” I have kept every document given to me since George Bush left office; however, I couldn’t tell you where any of this stuff is. I get the “keep everything” gene from my mother and the “doesn’t know where anything is” gene from my father. Sanitation workers are a part of the “throws away everything” and “knows where everything is” quadrant. They know everything they throw away goes to the dump. Famous historical figures whose organization quadrant I’ve determined include Wolfgang Mozart (keeps everything knows nothing), Alice Roosevelt (keeps everything knows everything) and Taio Cruz (throws away everything knows nothing).

It should come as no surprise that I relate to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Like the Rock Hall, I keep everything. Does anyone need to see Mick Jagger’s used tissue? Nope. Will I ever need my acceptance letter to Miami University? Nope. But we kept them anyway! At the same time, we both have no clue what we’ve got and where we’ve got it. Should the employees at the Rock Hall know where Joe Strummer’s Telecaster is displayed? Definitely. Should I know where my birth certificate is stored? Definitely. But neither of us do anyway! The I.M. Pei masterwork and I are linked at the soul.

It is this soul-level linking that puts me at a unique position to criticize the Rock Hall. Since I intrinsically understand its approach to organization, I intrinsically understand the complex socio-political position the museum has in Greater Cleveland society. To relate back to the political compass test, the best person to criticize George W. Bush is George W. Bush. Therefore, check out my video to watch one “keeps everything knows nothing” criticizing a fellow “keeps everything knows nothing”.

Appraising Cleveland’s Geographic Cultural Epicenter
PHOTO CREDIT UNSPLASH IMAGES THEVINDI.COM | 18 FEATURE
PHOTO CREDIT UNSPLASH IMAGES THEVINDI.COM | 19 WINTER 2022

PUMPKIN SPICE & SEASONAL FLAVOR BOOMS

From basic pumpkin spice to a wintery peppermint mocha to new twists on classic coffees, employees at massive chains are bamboozled each year by waves of caffeine hunters searching for their seasonal fix of coffee. But how big of a deal are these drinks? When did the hype start, and what is it like to work at one of the American coffee house establishments that sell these sought after drinks?

In 2003, Starbucks began searching for the right concoction to brew a perfect piece of pumpkin pie in a cup. An American director of espresso for Starbucks, Peter Dukes, said, “We saw the success we were having with peppermint mocha, the eggnog latte, and [other] seasonal beverages, and we wanted to expand in the fall period.”

The success Dukes was referring to was his team that created the peppermint mocha. The drink was launched in winter 2002 and, according to Starbucks’ Stories & News, “quickly became the most popular holiday beverage in Starbucks history.”

These seasonal drinks have cult followings. “Pumpkin spice latte” has over 40,000 posts on Instagram. It’s practically a holiday in and of itself when the flavor is made available — and the holiday keeps creeping forward each year. In 2021, the PSL made its season debut on August 24, nearly a month before the official start of fall.

Employees have deja-brew about the intensity of festive drinks. DESIGNED BY ZANNA LEWKOWICZ
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Photo by Darya Tryfanava at Unsplash

ABC7 Chicago reports that “Starbucks alone reportedly sells 20 million pumpkin spice lattes annually.” The week after the drink drop, Starbucks visitors increased by almost 26%, while Dunkin’ Donuts visits for pumpkin spice lattes went up 9.5%. It is no wonder that there are current shortages of the latte ingredients with the pandemic, new growth patterns for produce, supply shortages and consumer demands.

CSU student and Starbucks barista Wesley Buser spoke on mass waves of customer demands and delivery delays. “A lot of customers get frustrated. They scoff and act like it is our fault we don’t have it [ingredients]. Most of the time it is because truck shipments are late.”

Casual consumers and pumpkin spice fanatics alike may not realize the preparation that goes into making the festive drink season successful. Because pumpkin spice is one of the only specialty flavors (a drink with ingredients Starbucks does not have all year long) out of the fall drinks, all employees must be retrained before the big drop. Buser notes that their store often overstocks on supplies because “it is so intense.”

“We definitely get more customers around this time. My location does have quite a few regulars, but there are people who are only coming because of the seasonal festive flavors,” Buser said. “I think the flavors are definitely better during the holiday season as well, so I can’t even blame anybody!”

On the day The Vindicator interviewed Buser, it was Starbucks’ “Red Cup Day.” Buser said, “We order a lot of red cups. Last year we were out by noon. I don’t know if we’re out yet [at 2 p.m.], but it wouldn’t surprise me at all.” Typically (at least at their establishment), Buser said that managers don’t let employees know too far in advance when Red Cup Day is — for fear of massive employee call-offs and shift cancellations.

While Buser doesn’t work extra hours, they noted there aren’t seasonal bonuses despite the large

uptick in store traffic. “The most we get is if we work either on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.”

Holidays are no exception to the caffeine cravings. On Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve last year when Buser worked, “We had our drive-thru wrapped around the whole store all day, and at times into the street.” Buser even emphasized how their store has a larger-than-average drive-thru line that provides ample room for on-the-go customers, but the popularity of the store and the seasonal flavors “caused traffic problems.”

Despite the craziness of the season, Buser said, “I like working [during the] holiday season more than in the summertime. It’s nuts, but it at least makes the job go faster.”

In Buser’s opinion, “I feel like the pre-season hype wasn’t as strong this year compared to last.” Conversely, a study done by Restrurantdive.com found that “Fall menu traffic bumps at these brands have increased each year, indicating that the popularity of these specialty products is growing.” The increase in consumer popularity is what likely leads to the drops happening earlier, and the seasonal drinks staying in stores for longer.

The day after pumpkin spice lattes leave the Starbucks menu, Buser notices the reaction from customers. “Immediately [we’re asked], do you have pumpkin?” The month after the absence is even more heavily felt, and that’s when they are commonly asked, “When is pumpkin coming back?!”

Throughout the holiday season, remember — enjoy your festive, seasonal drinks, but also be reminded of all the hardworking people making your beverages. Stay holly and jolly for your baristas. Know that from August through February, they are seeing larger volumes of store traffic, drink orders and chaos. “We have to make sure we’re as calm as possible,” Buser said. “Because it is hectic.”

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Throughout the holiday season, remember— enjoy your festive, seasonal drinks, but also be reminded of all the hardworking people making your beverages.
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KENNEL CRISIS

A Cleveland shelter stays stagnant, struggling to maintain pet adoption rates

Animals in shelters across the country were swept into forever homes as Americans looked to furry friends to keep them company during the COVID-19 pandemic. The “pandemic-pup” became a staple source of love, comfort and relief while people were stuck at home at the beginning of the pandemic.

One in five households acquired a cat or dog since the beginning of the pandemic, according to a May 2021 survey by The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and a majority of these pets are still in that home today.

With many people back to in-person activities or experiencing financial hardship, adoption rates have slowed down, leaving many shelters struggling to provide for an increasing number of animals in their care.

“What we are finding is outcomes not keeping up with intake,” Sharon Harvey, the Cleveland Animal Protective League’s president and CEO of 15 years, said. “That’s the crisis. There is a critical bottleneck in the middle.”

Outcomes are how the animal leaves the shelter’s care: this can be through adoption, return to owner,

euthanasia. Intake refers to animals coming into shelters.

According to an October 2022 analysis of the national shelter database by Shelter Animals Count, there are 7.3% more animals entering shelters than leaving so far this year. Yet, compared to 2019, the number of intakes has decreased 17%, while the total number of outcomes has decreased at an even higher rate of 20%, meaning more animals are staying in the shelters now than before the pandemic.

“The pandemic kicked off a lot of changes,” Harvey said. “It’s a lot different now and we are trying to figure out what is causing those changes.”

A local shelter hit hard by this “bottleneck” is the Cleveland City Kennel– better known by their adoption and volunteer coordination program, City Dogs– who saw a slow down in adoption rates beginning mid 2021. They are currently at capacity, with 165 dogs at the time of the interview.

“Our intake numbers are back to where they were in 2019, but correspondingly outcomes have not gone up,” Izzy Esler, the adoption and volunteers coordinator at City Dogs, said. “I don’t think it’s exaggerated to call it a crisis. I think nationally in the animal shelter world everyone is really struggling.”

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As an open intake facility, meaning they cannot control the pace or volume of dogs coming in, City Dogs relies heavily on transfer partners, other shelters or private rescue groups that specialize in puppies, seniors, or specific breeds and take responsibility for their care and adoption. Unfortunately, according to Esler, almost all of their rescue partners are seeing slow downs in adoptions as well, so they are not able to take as many dogs.

With the amount of dogs in their care, City Dogs has had to get creative with pop-up crates and utilizing meeting spaces not meant to shelter dogs.

Shortages in staffing and volunteers have also had an impact on dog care at City Dogs and the APL. With the competitive job market, shelters are having a hard time retaining and keeping good staff.

“It’s not only a matter of space, it’s a matter of caring for the dogs,” Esler said. “Even with a really dedicated volunteer team, we’re really short staffed. If I compare us to 2019, we have more dogs and fewer staff.”

Esler states that shelters have made a lot of progress in providing enriching care to their animals, but lack of staff and volunteers makes it difficult to maintain daily enrichment on top of basic care.

“When I first started in 2016 it was a conversation of how many times a week a dog would get out of its cage,” Esler said. “Now, it’s a matter of everyday, so progress has been made. But, I think for the first time in a while we, as well as animal welfare groups across the country, will see back sliding on progress that we’ve made.”

Esler fears “back sliding” will lead to higher national euthanasia rates, something that has not been seen in years, and data supports those fears. According to the SAC analysis, non-live outcomes have increased by 9.4% nationally compared to 2021.

Both shelters made it clear that the terms “kill” and “no kill” used when talking about shelters are “divisive and misleading” because there is no such thing as “no kill.” All shelters need to euthanize their animals for one reason or another, but 90% of their outcomes must be something other than euthanasia to be considered “no kill.”

“Medical is pretty clear, we all need to make humane decisions when it comes to the end of our pets’ lives,” Harvey said, citing that it was a choice she had to make for her own pets as they aged.

Both City Dogs and the APL say euthanasia will never be something they use to balance intake and outcome.

“Every healthy, friendly or humanely and safely treatable animal goes out alive,” Harvey said.

Both the APL and City Dogs offer a variety of adoption, volunteer, foster or monetary opportunities for support.

“Anyway you can support your local shelter or rescue organization, do it,” Esler said. “I know a lot of places are looking for fosters. Fostering is a great thing if you can’t own a pet long term or are worried about financial commitment.”

APL volunteer opportunities include dog walking, grooming, cat adoption specialist, veterinary support associate, animal photographer, special event associate and more.

VOLUNTEER WITH THE
VOLUNTEER WITH CITY DOGS
APL

BREWING UP A UNION

The initial domino fell in December 2021, when a Starbucks in Buffalo, New York became the first of the company in the United States to file to unionize. Starbucks executives, including the president of Starbucks North America, immediately flocked to the New York town and occupied the store in groups during shifts. The tactics created an air of intimidation and made it nearly impossible for pro-union workers to discuss their views with coworkers. The tactics failed, the Buffalo store voted to unionize and the race commenced. The first 60 union elections, occurring through the winter and spring, had a stunning 90% success rate. Nearly a year and more than 250 unionized stores later, the number and success rate of stores filing to unionize each month has slipped significantly. For this, the hundreds of open unfair labor practice charges the company has racked up throughout the year likely deserves the blame.

The union is centered around Starbucks Workers United (SBWU), which is a collective of US Starbucks Workers organizing their workplaces. According to their website, SBWU is fighting for a wide range of things. Their non-economic proposals include the right to organize unions free from intimidation, protections against cuts to wages or benefits without prior negotiation, stronger nondiscrimination measures, health and safety policies, protections against unfair disciplinary action, the establishment of employee-staffed labor management committees for each location and more.

In the Cleveland area, the five Starbucks stores that filed to unionize have had successful votes. The locations include University Circle, Cleveland Heights, Clifton Boulevard, Westlake and the Warehouse District. The first store in the area to unionize is located on West Sixth Street. In a Cleveland Scene article written after their union vote, workers at the store described harsh hour-cutting practices, which they believed to be retaliation for their unionization attempt. Some workers described having their hours cut from 30 hours a week to 10, reducing workers’ ability to pay for basic necessities and leading to a high rate of turnover. An article in The Buckeye Flame that included interviews with organizers at the Clifton location found similar practices, and noted how hours for workers were often cut to right below the threshold needed to qualify for health insurance. At the Westlake location, consistent scheduling below the threshold was also a major factor in the decision to unionize. After filing to vote on a union, the Westlake store hired at least four additional workers, a move that workers saw as an effort to tip the scales of the vote.

Starbucks workers across the country fight for their right to unionize
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Maddie

said

stores unionization. “We were just like, ‘they can do it, we can also do it,’” she said in an interview.

According to Vanhook, one of the main things that she and her coworkers wanted to change through unionizing was wages. Another was the training system, which she said didn’t give new baristas enough preparation. Further improvements included wanting to change vacation and sick time policies and allowing customers to tip from credit cards. Other workers emphasized the need to fix understaffing issues, which leads to employees becoming overworked and stressed.

“I’ve had people break down and cry while they’re making drinks,” said Olivia Como, a barista at the Cleveland Heights Starbucks. “I’ve got customers that swear. I get sexually harassed constantly. And the company doesn’t do much about it … I don’t want anyone else to have to deal with that.”

Cleveland Heights Starbucks worker Sasha Burnette expressed concern that the company is preoccupied with making NFTs and providing unneeded benefits like free Spotify, rather than doing things that would help workers, such as updating credit card readers to be able to accept tips and fixing the registers that glitch nearly every shift.

“Their biggest priority is making money and they don’t really care about their workers,” said Como.

Employees have taken note of the vast amount of money flowing into the company since the pandemic began. “When the company keeps seeing billions of dollars in profits, we have to ask ourselves who is being paid that money,” said Cleveland Heights barista Hannah Woodside in an interview with the online media outlet Workers World earlier this year. “Because it isn’t us.”

Starbucks’ profits rose 31% in the final three months of 2021, and CEO Kevin Johnson pocketed a 39% pay raise through the year. This increase did not stop the company from raising prices and understaffing stores.

Vanhook said she encountered various union-busting tactics after her store filed to vote on a union. First were the captive-audience meetings. During the meetings, the store and district manager shut down the store during work hours and gave anti-union presentations to the employees.

“It would just be straight up anti-union propaganda,” said Joseph Nappi, another former worker at the West Sixth Starbucks, about the captive-audience meetings. “Oh, a union would be a third party. Oh, you wouldn’t be able to pick up shifts. Your manager wouldn’t be able to work with you, you can’t talk to your manager anymore, they’re going to take so much out of your paycheck for dues, stuff like that.”

Nappi said that unionized locations or locations suspected of wanting to unionize are commonly moved to being mobile-only.

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Vanhook, a former worker at the West Sixth location, that she and her coworkers were inspired by the Buffalo
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“Starbucks claims it’s for safety reasons,” said Nappi. “I don’t buy that.”

Nappi explained that the Starbucks mobile app does not have an option to tip, leading to a sharp decrease in the income of workers. Nappi said he felt a main purpose of going mobile only is to distance customers from workers, likely for the purpose of tamping down on public support.

“One of Starbucks’ main mission statements is being a third place, which is not home, not work, but Starbucks,” he said. “But now, you can’t go to Starbucks and grab a cup of coffee with friends and just sit down and talk, you can’t go to Starbucks and do work, you can’t go to Starbucks and get on a zoom meeting with someone, because they took that away from customers. I think it’s a way to distance customers from baristas to tamp down on public support for the union push as well.”

It is also common for workers to be disciplined or fired for small infractions happening months prior. This occurred to Maddie Vanhook early in November. She had just clocked in for her shift when she was pulled into a side room by the store manager and the newly hired district manager. The district manager explained that she was being let go because of a time she was sent home from a shift due to having a headache and a cough. According to the rules, workers are not supposed to come to work if they are experiencing these symptoms. This technical violation occurred in September, two months before her firing. Vanhook said firings and write-ups like this are not an uncommon occurrence at the location. For example, she explained that another worker at the store had recently been issued a final warning, citing an attendance violation that occurred in June.

Unfair firing and discipline practices like these are happening nationally. In mid-November, the National Labor Review Board (NLRB), a federal agency that deals with labor law, petitioned a federal court for a “nationwide cease and desist order” stopping the company from using firings to retaliate against pro-union workers. SBWU has accused Starbucks of illegally firing over 150 pro-union workers since the unionization push began. Despite the company’s claims that the firings were not acts of retaliation, evidence shows otherwise. For instance, a former Starbucks manager testified under oath in August that higher-ups told him to search records of pro-union workers to find things to use against them.

Starbucks’ spree of lawlessness was partially made possible by the hollowing out of the NLRB, which has not seen a funding increase since 2014. Due to budgetary strains, the agency’s staff has been cut by 37% in the last eight years. The budgetary and staffing issues combined with exponentially increasing unionization attempts and alleged labor law violations have led union leaders to call the situation a crisis.

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In the Cleveland area, the five Starbucks stores that filed to unionize have had successful votes. “
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Vanhook described an additional conflict that unionized stores have found themselves stuck in for months: struggling to get the company to come to the bargaining table. At the West Sixth store, the company canceled a date they set up for bargaining. At a unionized store in University Circle, the company walked out of a bargaining meeting five minutes in. Workers across the country have had to wait for hours for the company to arrive at scheduled bargaining meetings, only for them to walk out minutes later. Starbucks representatives claimed that the walkouts were due to workers in the session broadcasting the meetings for other workers who were unable to attend over Zoom, despite the fact that representatives had allowed workers to attend previous bargaining sessions remotely.

On November 17, over 100 unionized stores went on a one-day strike to protest the company’s union busting and refusal to bargain. The strikes took place on Red Cup Day, when the company hands out reusable red cups for holiday drink orders. The day was selected due to it being one of the most popular days of the year for the company.

“It’s Starbucks’s version of a Black Friday,” said Bee Woodside, a Cleveland Heights Starbucks barista.

The Red Cup Rebellion, as the workers called it, was the largest nationally coordinated action the union has done. To raise awareness of the union effort, striking workers handed out SBWU branded reusable cups.

Over the summer, the Cleveland chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) held a fundraiser concert featuring local bands and raised over $2 thousand for Starbucks workers that have had their hours cut. Cleveland DSA has also held rallies over the summer to protest Starbucks union busting and show support for workers. Other fundraiser events included a Cleveland SBWU organized drag show titled “Starf*cks: Union Busting is a Drag!”

Nappi stressed that all workers, no matter what job, deserve a union. “What I’ve heard a lot from service employees that work minimum wage is ‘well, I’m just a minimum wage worker, I don’t need a union,’” he said. “Yes, you do … You deserve it. You dedicate hours of your day to help your company earn a profit and you deserve to be represented at the table in these important business decisions.”

“My advice is always just to do it,” Vanhook said when asked what she would say to other workers who wish to unionize. “It seems really scary … but I ultimately think it’s worth it to be able to have that collective power between you and your coworkers and be able to be like, we have each other’s backs, even if our management doesn’t and even if our company doesn’t.”

“I was honestly really shocked to see how many people came out,” said Burnette about the strike. “We had musician union members come here, we had members of other unions and other people come by and hold signs with us.”

Workers said they have encountered strong community support throughout the unionization effort.

“People would put their names as ‘union strong’ on their mobile order cups and we would call it out,” said Como.

In addition to receiving encouragement from customers, workers have received support from local activist groups.

Other workers emphasized that strength comes in numbers, and that workers who are afraid to organize their store are not alone in feeling that way.

Nappi holds high hopes for the future of the labor movement. “I think this wave of unionization isn’t going to stop anytime soon,” he said. “It’s not only happening at Starbucks. There’s Chipotle stores that are unionizing, Trader Joes, more and more teachers and professors and people that are finally realizing ‘hey, I think what I do has dignity and I deserve to have a bigger voice in my workplace.’”

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HARD TO BE HEALTHY

Noone denies that being a college student is hard. You have to go to class, complete school assignments, work a job, maintain scholarships, take care of your relationships, attempt to be a functioning adult — all while trying to stay healthy. Health looks different for every person and body type, but it is hard to be any kind of healthy as a college student. The sweet, sweet temptresses of ramen, frappes, late night Netflix binges and entire packs of Oreos call out to you constantly. Cravings like these come with the intense brainstorming of studying, and all of that studying means preparing a healthy meal or exercising is hard to fit in.

Cleveland State Dining Services works to provide healthy meal options in their open locations for CSU students. At Grille Works, there is a veggie burger available as a vegetarian alternative. At the nearby Greens2Go, a generous heaping of salad toppings and dressing await atop a bed full of greens. At the smaller on-the-go locations such as Viking Express and The Link, Vikings can fuel up with fruit cups, sandwiches, sushi and small packaged salads before their next class.

Finally, there is Viking Marketplace, the campus dining hall. Within this hall, the goal is to provide “fresh ingredients, quality products and superior customer service on the menu.” Viking Marketplace has vegetarian and vegan options, plus a salad bar. Cleveland State Dining Services make an effort to offer healthy options to students.

Near campus, a few other healthy options for students are within walking distance. First, the on-campus favorite: Café Ah-Roma. There, students can get wraps, sandwiches, salads or a quick coffee. Next, the newly opened Pulp Juice & Smoothie Bar has smoothies, wraps, salads and power juices. Further down Euclid Avenue is the ever popular Fruit Stand in Playhouse Square, which opened in the spring semester of last year. The Fruit Stand offers more juices, smoothies, fresh fruit and acai bowls. On East 14th Street, right off of Playhouse,

Resources & restaurants for college students wanting wellness WRITTEN BY A bigail Jarvis DESIGNED BY P rathinav Dutta
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PHOTO CREDIT GOOGLE IMAGES

is Phuel Cafe. They have a wide variety of salads, protein-packed entrees and sandwiches. Finally, there are made-daily packaged meal options within Heinen's grocery store, as well as plenty of fresh produce and proteins available there to purchase.

Once fueled up, there are plenty of ways to continue to be healthy on campus. The Cleveland State Recreation Center offers a wide variety of equipment, clubs, classes and wellness programs to students and members to encourage a healthy lifestyle. Here’s just a few examples of programs and how to get involved:

Group Fitness Classes — Group Fitness classes are free at the Rec with a membership, which are free to current CSU students. Classes range from Zumba to strength training, offered both in-person and on Zoom. While free, they do require a reservation. Make sure you arrive five minutes early to class!

More info on Group Fitness Classes here: https:// www.csuohio.edu/recreationcenter/csu-rec-groupfitness-schedule

Adventure Rec — Step outside the campus recreation center and enjoy activities on trips outside of Cleveland to greater Northeast Ohio, neighboring cities and even out-of-state treks! Registration is required and easy to do online. Most of the equipment needed comes with registration, so don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone.

More info on Adventure Rec here: https://www. csuohio.edu/recreationcenter/adventure-trips

Club Sports — Check out all of the incredible club sports and dance teams CSU has to offer on VikesConnect. With clubs like sailing, soccer, belly dancing, tennis and ultimate frisbee, there is sure to be a club team right for you. If not, contact the Rec about starting your own club!

More info on Club Sports here: https://www.csuohio. edu/recreationcenter/club-sports

Intramural Sports — A competitive tournament focused on camaraderie may be exactly what you are looking for. Join as a referee or as an active player. These tournament programs value sportsmanship, leadership and wellness.

More information on Intramural Sports here: https:// www.csuohio.edu/recreationcenter/intramural-sports

Shine Well — Mental health is just as important as physical health. Shine Well works to balance developmental, emotional, environmental, financial, physical, social and spiritual health. Shine Well provides educational resources in order to create lifelong wellness habits and resources that will help an individual create a more well-rounded, health-conscious lifestyle.

More info on Shine Well can be found here: https:// www.csuohio.edu/recreationcenter/shine-well

Another resource that is valuable for overall health and wellness is the Cleveland State Counseling Center. The center offers group, individual and couples counseling, in addition to psychiatry and clinical case management. Confidential in-person or telehealth appointments are available through the center. The Counseling Center is here to “support and empower our diverse student community through the provision of psychological services.” Don’t be afraid to reach out and seek support; the center is available and ready to listen.

Health and wellness is a multifaceted beast, especially in college. With these resources and a mindful intent for self-care, hopefully that Hydra is a bit easier for all of our Vikings out there to fight through exams and heading into the darker winter season.

Health looks different for every person and body type, but it is hard to be any kind of healthy as a college student. “
PHOTO CREDIT GOOGLE IMAGES THEVINDI.COM | 29 WINTER 2022

That Cheating, No-Good (Car)Heart

Ifirst met Carhartt my senior year of high school. It was February 2019, and I had all but given up on finishing school strong. I was accepted to Cleveland State University for Film and Media Arts and I wanted a little time to relax before going to the Sorbonne of public universities in Ohio.

I spent much of that time hanging out in the Flats. Not John Boy’s Flats, but Cleveland Cliffs’ Flats. The sorts of dives where Fabuloso and spilled Bud Light mask the scent of death. This is where I fell in love.

Every soul drinking their pay away in this crowded joint wore the same Carhartt jacket. Carhartt was different from anything my suburban sensibilities knew. He was tall, rugged and handsome. The fellas I knew out in Brecksville were all so puffy and formless. Carhartt was loved by every gender, every race, every body. The only thing that connected his lovers was hard work and a blue collar identity. The folks wearing Carhartt — factory workers, construction workers, lumberjacks — were who I aspired to be. I knew I needed him.

Charming him was no problem. Carhartt was impressed by my knowledge of fall hazards at the old Sheet and Tube plant. I finally worked up the courage to ask him out. He scribbled something on a used napkin — a phone number with a Detroit area code. I was in.

From then on, it was a whirlwind romance. Even when summer rolled around, I still wore Carhartt

WRITTEN BY Cameron Mays A story of betrayal from the jacket of factory workers, farmers and film students.
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every day. Cedar Point lines, Huntington Beach, the pig iron furnace — nothing could separate me from this coat. That July, we took a big step in our relationship and rented a small, one-bedroom apartment in Slavic Village together. It was a short drive Downtown for me and right by Industrial Valley for him. Everyone told me I was rushing it and a healthy relationship takes time. I didn’t care. Carhartt was everything to me.

That wonderful summer of love slowly turned to fall and school began. I thought it might put a little strain on our relationship. Besides, a blue collar fit doesn’t always fit in a university commonly dubbed the Oxford of public research universities east of Westlake, north of Southgate and west of East Cleveland. Carhartt was worried, too, but I assured him I’d spend every hour I could with him. But school got the best of me, and I found myself spending long hours in a brutalist cathedral, studying film history and practicing acting. I’d come home to our little apartment too tired to spend time with Carhartt. I knew he hated it, but I hated it, too!

Then came December 7, a day that will live in infamy. Not because of the Pearl Harbor thing but because it had finally snowed. It was time for me to bring Carhartt to school. I skipped over to my closet, but Carhartt was not there. Maybe he decided to take an early shift somewhere. He’s known to be elusive — after all, he’s the preferred jacket of most apartment maintenance men! I decided to bundle up with two sweaters instead and caught the next bus Downtown.

The bus was late on account of hitting so many stray dogs. I snuck into the back of my class, History of Film, thirty minutes after it started. I could barely fit in my seat. The two people on either side of me had these massive jackets on. I looked around and realized the uncomfortable truth. Every one of these soda-spilling film students were wearing Carhartt. He betrayed me, cheated on me with my entire grade. I ran out of that forsaken lecture hall in tears, trying to figure it out. Maybe I was the problem, the reason he stayed out late each night, the reason he started hanging out with other film kids. Perhaps he found out my dad works in a bank, not on a bulldozer. I thought if I showed a little effort, he’d remember how it used to be. So, I stopped by Heinen’s before coming home, and picked up some meatloaf and a six-pack of Coors Light. Sure, it was takeout, but it’s the thought that counts.

I waited all evening for Carhartt to return. Minutes turned into hours. The lukewarm dish of meatloaf quickly turned to lukecold. The ice cold bottles of beer sweated like a nervous crook.

It was two in the morning when Carhartt finally came home. I sat at the dining room table with the

lights off the entire time. Carhartt was surprised to see me — like he forgot we lived in an apartment together. He gave me a forced hug. That was his mistake. I smelled it on him: another man’s cologne. Nautica Blue for Men. Carhartt never wears cologne, especially not the ones I gift him. He was cheating on me.

Carhartt slammed two beers. He didn’t even bother touching the meatloaf. He stumbled to our bedroom and fell onto our shared full-size mattress.So much for a nice dinner.

I laid awake all night. Carhartt snored like the logs he once sawed. As I watched him sleep, I knew he was happy. Only the wicked sleep well. Each gentle breath that brown work coat took felt like a dagger in my soul. In and out. I couldn’t take it anymore.

I ran to the kitchen. The butcher knife? The pairing knife? The chef’s knife? The fileting knife? The salmon knife? Why did we have so many knives? I opened the junk drawer and found my silver bullet: a pair of heavy-duty fabric scissors. Slowly, I tiptoed into the room. The miserable drunk lay there, reeking of my beer and another man’s cologne. In and out. I watched him breathe. In and out. That’s all I needed to do. In and out with my pair of scissors. I raised my blade. Cain and Abel! Clytemnestra and Agamemnon! Cameron and Carhartt! I brought this awful jacket into the film school and I needed to make sure it would never come back.

But I could not plunge the scissors into old Carhartt. Seeing that sun-bleached jacket removed from the glory of an honest day’s work and subjected to the backs of countless kids trying to film a void sequence was enough. I packed my bags with only the essentials and left the apartment. I sat on the cold steps of a Baptist church until the taxi picked me up. I decided to move out west and start over again. Not San Francisco or Los Angeles, but the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood. It’s a lot easier to start over in a sea of people in Gordon Square than the Golden State.

I was hurt by Carhartt, but his lascivious dalliance with my classmates didn’t stop me. I went through the five stages of grief most film students go through: 1.) try to write a screenplay about the experience, 2.) start over to do something more Lynchian, 3.) film something with your friends, 4.) never edit the footage and 5.) forget about it but talk about it like you won an Oscar. That next winter, Carhartt was nowhere to be seen. He probably heard about the hellscape I was just waiting to edit.

Two years later, I turned on the television. There was Carhartt. He was with J. D. Vance now, trying to help him appear like he was not a millionaire. I remember when Carhartt was young, when he was nothing. Now he’s turning tricks for neo-fascists.

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I laid awake all night. Carhartt snored like the logs he once sawed. Only the wicked sleep well.

TO EXTRACURRICULARS

The advantages of extracurriculars, by an underachiever

American students are pressured to “get involved” our entire lives. Whether for college applications or parents’ dreams, we were forced to go to club fairs, sporting events and orchestra concerts.

Many of us never even do anything we actually like. Students just end up doing what they were molded to or whatever will get them into a good college. You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who actually enjoyed National Honors Society or the sport their parents threw them into at age four.

I grew up with a distaste for organizations. I was a fervently independent child: a blessing and a curse. I tried every sport and hated them all. But, my mom insisted that I stayed involved.

I have never thrived in the traditional classroom environment. For years, I felt insufficient because I could not grasp school like my peers did. My feelings of inferiority accumulated into a hatred for academics.

To be fair to the school system, I am a magnificent underachiever. In high school, I just went through the motions; I was a C student and I didn’t have friends because I didn’t care enough to make any.

I had grown to an age where my parents could no longer force me to be in extracurriculars and let me finally have the independence I begged for. For a long time I tried to convince myself I enjoyed my solitude, but it was obvious that I was unhappy.

I decided I needed a community, a requirement that will follow me. I joined my school’s choir and drama club. These were activities that scared me, but inspired a new creativity I forgot I had and provided me with friends I retain even now.

A community is simply a group of people who share similar characteristics or beliefs. Everyone needs one, even anti-social underachievers like me

and countless other invisible American students. Extracurriculars are a tool in an academic setting to find belonging outside of the classroom.

It is widely accepted that students who participate in extracurricular activities have better academic performance, character and social development. These are all good things, but students often feel pressured to involve themselves in these activities not for their personal benefit, but for applications and resumes.

With the climate of American academics in everincreasing tension and severity, I don’t think the attitudes toward high school extracurriculars will change easily, or ever. But what about college?

You might be reading this and having regrets over the things you didn’t do in high school, the communities you never found. Likely, you are still in the midst of your academic experience. It is not too late! Cleveland State, like many universities around the country, offers hundreds of clubs and organizations — and not just ones that will embellish your resume.

If you feel like your athletic career was cut short after highschool, CSU offers club sports. A step up from intramurals, club sports gives students a team and helps them stay active and social. The university offers clubs that range from volleyball and soccer to sailing and dance. This might just be your sign to get back in the game, or even try a new one!

Greek life is an option at most colleges for those who crave a close knit social group and meaningful volunteering opportunities. Cleveland State is no exception. The university hosts several national organizations that promote academic and personal growth while providing members with a brotherhood or sisterhood of their own.

Maybe your artsy side has been overlooked for far too long. Cleveland State is home to organizations

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These were activities that scared me, but inspired a new creativity I forgot I had and provided me with friends I retain even now.
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like Anime Club, Improvisation Group and Film Maker’s Club. Artistic endeavors can expand one’s mind and inspire creativity in different aspects of life.

The campus hosts several diversity-based organizations. Best Buddies is a club dedicated to forming friendships with those who have developmental and intellectual disabilities. The Queer Student Alliance organizes events that focus on the queer experience. Other inclusion-based clubs include Latinos Unidos, African Student Association and the Muslim Student Association.

If you are into gaming, CSU has a surprising amount of video game-based organizations. From League of Legends to Super Smash Bros, these casual gaming clubs are low pressure ways to have fun and meet people with similar interests.

Politically-inclined students can find others with similar beliefs in Cleveland State College Democrats or Cleveland State College Republicans, and find people your age in your political party. If you want to make real change on campus and be part of the big decisions, the Student Government Association might be for you.

Campus has multiple faith-based organizations for religious students. CSU is home to Campus Bible Fellowship, Collegians for Christ, Muslim Student Association, Hillel and the CSU Pagan Alliance.

STEM majors (and those interested in these fields) have a large selection of clubs that might interest them. CSU Robotics, Sisters in STEM and Math Club provide brain-stimulating activities for those looking to challenge themselves. There is even a STEM Lifting Club for those who are looking for a swole brain and body.

This one is going to get a little meta, but you can even be a part of an organization whose sole purpose is to organize events. The Campus Activities Board (CAB) hosts events all year for CSU students to enjoy.

I haven’t even scratched the surface of the hundreds more organizations at Cleveland State. You can access the entire catalog of organizations and how to join them at VikesConnect.

My final bit of advice is to just get out there. Try something new even if you don’t want to. Force yourself to meet people. Not everything you do in college has to be to better your academic resume. Have some fun and make some friends. Do things that make you uncomfortable. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

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Do things that make you uncomfortable. Trust me, you won’t regret it. “

Lekko Coffee

With the ferocious lakefront winds, gray skies, snowy sidewalks, and exam season quickly approaching, The Vindicator has compiled a list of some of the best refuges from the cold Cleveland has to offer: coffee shops. These coffee shops offer an atmosphere perfect for camping out for an hours-long finals studying session, and each location offers some fantastic, caffeinated drinks to fuel you through the holiday season and the hell on earth that is finals week.

Hours: Mon-Fri: 7:00AM-5:00PM,

Disclaimer: I, the author of this article, am a barista at Stonefruit Coffee. While I have worked many shifts behind the counter, I have also spent many, many hours as a customer — laboring away over schoolwork — and I can attest to its comforting atmosphere while studying.

Stonefruit Coffee Company, located in the Fifth Street Arcade in Downtown, is a coffee shop as warm and welcoming as they come. With vibrant murals adorning the walls, an abundant amount of plants and spacious seating, this local coffee shop is a great place to hang out and escape the Cleveland winter for a bit. With a menu of drinks that goes up to a six-shot latte and cold brew that is strong enough to wake the dead, this shop may just offer you the recharge required for even more studying.

Located in:

Hingetown, 5 minute drive from campus Hours: Monday-Sunday: 7:00AM-7:00PM

Stepping into Lekko Coffee is like a breath of fresh air. The shop has abundant natural light and a peaceful, tranquil energy that will be a perfect fit for anyone who needs peace and quiet to be able to fully get into studying mode. There is plenty of seating in this Hingetown coffee shop, and the store is open until 7 p.m. every night, making it a great spot to study after classes let out for the day. With a wide range of coffee and tea (along with a great pastry and food menu), Lekko Coffee is a fantastic option for hiding out from the cold and getting some serious studying done.

Coffee house at University Circle

Located in: Uptown, 10 minute drive from campus Hours: Monday-Sunday: 7:00AM-5:00PM

Coffee House at University Circle is a CWRU coffee staple, but it is too great of a coffee shop not to share with CSU students. Located in a century-old house, this cozy coffee shop used to be a fraternity house, and subsequently a school of architecture before being turned into the haven for college students that it is today. This coffee shop is two stories tall with ample, comfortable seating and individual rooms that are perfect for both group and solo studying. They offer a variety of coffees, pastries and lunch foods alike, so it is the perfect place to camp out for a day of finals cramming.

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Cleveland coffee shops to help combat finals fatigue.
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Phoenix Coffee Company

Located in: Coventry Village, 15 minute drive from campus Hours: 7:00AM-6:00PM

Phoenix Coffee Company is Cleveland’s only employee-owned cooperative coffee company, with five shops located around the downtown area. While there are two Phoenix Coffee shops downtown (one in the Warehouse District and the other on East Ninth Street), the Coventry location is unmatched when it comes to creating the perfect study-sphere. Open almost all day, this Phoenix shop has plenty of seating and charging ports, is filled with plants and fun decorations, and has a fantastic menu of drinks and pastries. Located in Coventry — one of the most vibrant areas of Cleveland — there are plenty of fun restaurants, local shops and beautiful parks nearby to take a much needed study break.

Rising Star Coffee Roasters

Located in: Tremont, 5-minute drive from campus Hours: 7:00AM-7:00PM

Rising Star Coffee Roasters is certainly a star of the Cleveland coffee scene. With seven shops open around the downtown area, Rising Star has been a coffee staple in Cleveland for the past decade. While all the Rising Star shops are fun places to hang out, the Tremont location has the best studying potential. Only a five-minute drive from campus, this suave shop has ample, cozy seating ranging from individual tables to long counters that are perfect for group work. This Rising Star location even has an individual room that can be reserved through the baristas, so if you and your friends need a place for some undisturbed review time and great coffee, this may be the spot for you. With interesting, unique drink options and plenty of seating and work areas to go around, Rising Star Coffee Roasters is a perfect option for your next cram session.

Roasted Tremont

Located in: Tremont, 5-minute drive from campus Hours: Mon-Fri: 7:30AM-7:00PM, Saturday: 8:00AM-7:00PM, Sunday: 8:00AM-3:00PM

Are you looking for a cool, vibrant coffee shop to study for finals in? Look no further than Roasted Tremont. Roasted not only boasts a superb menu of drinks, but also is filled with knick-knacks, games, and artwork that make it a fun place to do a not-so-fun activity: studying. If all that wasn’t enough to motivate you to check out this shop, on Thursday through Saturday every week there is a vintage store open in the back of the store called ReFried Vintage. Get a fun drink, get some studying done and take a study break at the convenientlylocated vintage store attached to the shop.

Cafe Ah-Roma

Located in: Campus District Hours:

Cafe Ah-Roma has been an escape from the icy Cleveland winters for CSU students for over a decade. This coffee shop is conveniently located on campus, and with a wide selection of drinks, pastries and lunch items, Cafe Ah-Roma is a great choice for a finals campout. Though this shop can get extremely busy during the main class hours, there is plenty of seating to hunker down and get to work. While you can easily throw on some headphones and have a great individual study session, the on- campus location and atmosphere of Cafe Ah-Roma makes it a perfect place to meet with study partners and help each other through the pain of exam season.

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Cafe Ah-Roma has been an escape from the icy Cleveland winters for CSU students for over a decade. “

TRADER JOE’S:

PERFECTLY-RATED, OVERRATED, AND UNDERRATED

A look at the beloved grocery chain’s unique products

Acombination of beautifully-painted signs, intriguing food displays and the sometimes overly-friendly employees are all a part of the Trader Joe’s experience that we have come to know and love. Trader Joe’s has become a phenomenon in our culture and their grocery stores provide a unique and fun alternative to the standard grocery store. What is normally considered to be just a weekly trip to the grocery store becomes exciting with their collection of quirky products. They bring together unique food combinations alongside their food items from around the world.

The g rocery c hain b egan i n 1967 w ith t he fi rst location in Pasadena, California. The mastermind of Trader Joe’s was the titular Joe himself. According to CNN, Joe Coloumbe was a Stanford graduate and convenience store owner in Los Angeles who sought to reach a “well-traveled,” and “well-educated” crowd that would appreciate the unique products that t he g rocery c hain h ad to offer. Now, o ver 50 years l ater, T J’s h as g rown to 500 locations i n 4 2 states and has also become the culprit of internet virality, with many of their products “going viral” on social media platforms such as TikTok.

I personally have become a huge fan of the grocery chain. My semi-weekly trips to TJ’s have become an essential in my life. I always have a plethora of frozen meals and snacks in my kitchen for convenient and tasty meals throughout the week. I suppose you can s ay I have b een “influenced” by t he t rends a nd g rocery hauls I have seen on social media to try many of t he v arying products t hat TJ’s has to offer. I do not claim to be an expert, but I would like to to have a say in what products are a bop and which

ones a re simply a flop. Here we d iscuss some of TJ’s perfectly rated, overrated, and underrated products.

Side note: This is all based on personal taste and preference. I suggest trying new things and all of the goodness that Trader Joe’s has to offer!

Overrated items: Orange Chicken

I know this one is gonna make people mad because this item is so hyped up on social media. To compare this to Panda Express Orange Chicken is a crime. The chicken is dry with a strange texture and I didn’t like how overly sweet the sauce is. Please don’t hate me!

Outside-in Stuffed Gnocchi

I have not seen much talk about this product, but what the package promises is far from what you are getting. What we have here are large mushy balls fi lled w ith c heese i n a mediocre s auce. Don’t b uy these unless you want to be disappointed.

Chili Onion Crunch

The eggs cooked in Chili Onion Crunch, a chili oil that also features onion and garlic, that I saw all over TikTok had me sold on purchasing this product. Upon trying it, I wasn’t met with the flavor I hoped for and t he texture it adds is unappealing. Perhaps I have not yet used this product to the best of its abilities, but I was generally underwhelmed by this item.

Hash Browns

People speak very highly of these hash browns and even compare t hem to McDonald’s hash browns, one of the crown jewels of the hash brown hierarchy. These hash browns do not even come close. I never seem to get the crispy and savory experience I want

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from these, but they are good to have on hand in terms of convenience.

Bamba Peanut Snacks

I don’t have much to say about these besides that they are boring in comparison to all of the other snacks TJ’s has to offer. They just taste like peanut butter, which is not particularly a bad thing, but I almost wish there was a hint of sweetness or just something else to them.

Perfectly-Rated items:

Unexpected

Cheddar

The characteristics of aged cheddar and parmesan come together to make the perfect cheese! This cheese is an essential to any charcuterie board and is absolutely deserving of the hype it has earned.

Everything But The Bagel Seasoning

Although I do not believe Trader Joe’s invented EBTB seasoning, t hey most definitely p opularized t he pantry staple. I always have a bottle of this seasoning on deck to amp up my breakfast.

Chicken Soup Dumplings

I have seen these dumplings spoken about quite a lot on social media and they are no joke. The dough is tender and chewy; the broth in the center is rich and fl avorful. They s erve a s a foolproof h angover c ure and warm the soul on a cold day.

Chili Lime Rolled Corn Tortilla Strips

I think we can all agree these are superior to Takis. Although I love the kick that Takis bring, these are spicy w ithout b eing too s picy a nd t he l ime fl avor packs a punch.

Chocolate Croissants

These allow you to experience a freshly baked croissant in the comfort of your own home. Sometimes I forget that I left them out to rise overnight and I wake up to the most sweet surprise. Flaky, buttery and chocolatey is all you need to know.

Underrated items:

Gnocchi

alla Sorrentina

This gnocchi has become one of my favorite quick and easy dinner meals. The gnocchi is pillowy and chewy, and I like to jazz up the sauce with some seasonings and grated cheese. All around it is a delicious experience and a freezer staple.

Ghost Pepper Potato Chips

The w affle c ut on t hese c hips g ive you a d ifferent experience from the usual kettle-cooked style potato chip. The g host p epper flavor is definitely t here a nd t hey almost have a bit of smoky flavor.

PB and J Snack Duo

These have become one of my favorite snacks for a quick f ulfilling snack on a busy d ay. The c rispy p eanut butter-filled w afers paired w ith t he s weet r aspberry jam is nostalgic and downright delicious.

Asiago Cheese with Rosemary and Olive Oil

This cheese has become one of my favorites to add to a charcuterie board. The taste of rosemary alongside t he s alty a nd flavorful c heese m ake for a wonderful pair.

Gyoza Dipping Sauce

This dipping sauce alongside the frozen gyoza potstickers t hat T J’s h as to offer i s a m atch m ade i n heaven. It adds so much flavor to something t hat i s already delicious on its own. I have even contemplated taking a little sip of it because I like it that much.

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“Now, over 50 years later, TJ’s has grown to 500 locations in 42 states and has also become the culprit of internet virality, with many of their products “going viral” on social media platforms such as TikTok.”

Love Gifts

a meaningful way to show them that they’re on your mind. This playlist doesn’t have to consist of songs that they like or know, in fact, I’d encourage you not to include any songs they know. Make the playlist using songs you think the receiver would like, including songs you enjoy or ones that make you think of them. Personalize this as much as you can!

Gift a breakfast-in-bed tray

Breakfast-in-bed trays are perfect for individuals of all ages, especially college students (extra points if you cook them food and bring it to them on the tray!).

These trays are an easy way to avoid too much of a mess in bed by having an alternative surface for food to be placed. They can also hold laptops or notebooks to allow for multitasking.

Invite someone to volunteer at a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen with you If you want a selfless way to give back this year, why not do so in your community? Every county has someplace to volunteer at during the holiday season, especially as the demand for help goes up and availability goes

down. A lot needs done and extra hands are never turned away; this is a wonderful way to bring joy to someone’s holiday season.

Participate in Samaritan’s Purse: Operation Christmas Child

If you’ve never heard of Operation Christmas Child, I highly encourage you to check out their website, Samaritan’s Purse. Operation Christmas Child allows volunteers to pack and ship shoe boxes filled with gifts to children from ages 5 to 14 in developing countries. This is a heartwarming gift to complete solo or with a friend, and the joy that it brings is incredible.

GIFTS

Five senses basket

This is a creative way to include all five senses into your gift giving: taste, touch, smell, sight and sound. This allows the receiver to adopt heightened senses and enjoy a variety of gifts catering to said senses by purchasing gifts that tap into each sense individually. These don’t have to be super expensive either. They can be as simple as a candle or book to as extravagant as a diffuser or painted mural.

College Gear

Gifting college gear is a wonderful option for college students, as many students would always love to have more! Gear can include clothing such as sweatshirts or t-shirts, as well as items like cups or lanyards.

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Gift ideas for this holiday season, according to the receiver’s love language. PHOTOS BY kstudio
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Create a photo album or scrapbook

Photo albums and scrapbooks allow for a wide-range of creativity and individuality to shine through. Not only do these gifts celebrate your relationships or friendships, but they serve as a physical time capsule that the receiver will have forever.

Gift cards

Gifts cards are often considered an “easy” and unthoughtful gift. However, they can be a really great option, especially if the receiver has expressed interest in a specific food place or clothing store. This can also be a subscription to a popular TV streaming service such as HBO Max or a music streaming service such as Spotify Premium.

WORDS OF AFFIRMATION

Gift a Cameo

What’s a better way for someone to know how special they are than to be told personally by their favorite celebrity?! Cameo is a cool way for your recipient to personally interact with someone they admire or find entertaining! This one’s a bit different in terms of words of affirmation, but having your loved one’s favorite celebrity talk to them is a unique and fun way of expressing your love.

Gift a personalized book

There’s a variety of “I wrote a book about you” books that serve as wonderful ways to verbally present love. These are a good alternative to letters, particularly if you’re not the best with words organically.

Gift personalized jewelry

Personalized jewelry such as a necklace, bracelet or ring is a great gift option for any person! These can be custom-engraved with names, anniversary dates, meaningful quotes and so much more. Being able to look at these words on a daily basis is a special thing for anyone.

“Open when…”

This gift idea has personally been a big hit for myself as well as my friends! The gifter writes a certain amount of personalized letters (usually 5-10) with a time to open it written on each envelope:for example, “Open when you need encouragement,” or “open when you’re happy.” This might sound a little cheesy, but it’s a personal and special gift to receive because it represents a deeper relationship.

PHYSICAL TOUCH

Book a massage

Massages offer a good opportunity to de-stress and relax after a long semester! This can be a gift for just the recipient or you can make it a duo experience and go together.

Gift a blanket

3 5Blankets are simple, but universally loved by all. There’s a wide range of options as well, including but not limited to: sherpa, knitted, weighted and heated blankets. Blankets provide a sense of safety and can be very comforting to the user. Weighted blankets, specifically, have proved to be a hit for individuals of all ages.

Gift a self-care basket

Nothing says, “I love you” more than, “I love you and you should too!” Fill your self-care basket with face masks, body scrubs, loofahs, fuzzy socks and more to give the receiver a relaxing night in.

Go to Build-a-Bear

Disagree if you will, but Build-a-Bear is a fun gift and an opportunity to tap into your inner child. You could also make a Build-a-Bear to share with a long-distance friend or family member for when you aren’t able to see each other. It’s a good way to still feel connected to the people you love, despite the distance.

QUALITY TIME

Bake Christmas cookies

Get a group of friends or family together and dig out some old cookie recipes! Baking is a fun (and slightly messy) activity that can be appreciated by groups of all sizes. Turn on some Michael Bublé, bust out the red and green sprinkles and you’re golden.

Gift a customized puzzle

Puzzles can be a time-consuming activity, but can also be very fun and satisfying once completed. Customizing a puzzle by using a favorite photo of you and the receiver or using a photo of something they particularly like can be a stimulating and meaningful experience for both the gifter and receiver.

Gift concert or theater tickets

Tickets to concerts or shows are a wonderful way to cater towards quality time, especially when it’s a group or production they’ve mentioned before or like already.

Plan a whole night dedicated to Christmas festivities This can be a duo, family or friend group activity! Keep it casual and just enjoy spending time together. Try looking at Christmas lights, decorating the tree, watching a holiday movie or building a gingerbread house.

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Ill-Starred Longing LEAH BUNNER

I hear your name, Calypso, more often than I’ve wanted to You’re in the cafe guitar strings you’re in the scones

I bake overturn blueberries and lemon zest hypnotic limbs folding into themselves I said I’ll see you Friday morning and this time I mean it, Calypso, I promised two Tuesdays ago but you have to know I grew a fever so heavy I slept all day some nasty whirring in my head like a woodpecker Give me two more Tuesdays, Calypso, this time I mean it

I’m soaked in oatmilk I have Jeff Buckley on my shoulder this time I’m sleeping on hotel pillows and thrifted blankets my hair is so clean you could swim in it, Calypso, my bed was built on your island with my own wretched hands, Calypso, I’ve been thinning myself faint you could sculpt me solid but I’d still slip and sink so before they toss my body into the water turn the air to winter, Calypso, misplace the goodbye in the screaming wind hold me accountable hold me hostage hold me, Calypso, let’s kiss with a pole between us until our lips freeze let’s just stand still cold awhile I want to go home, Calypso, I want to go home.

Promise, Unraveled

Entreating words that should’ve been left on paper said too many times over until they’ve lost all structure until their form is nothing more than stray letters

The consonants don’t feel so grating anymore once rough around the edges now threadbare, worn by copies of bodies it’s always the same sound but it emits the most beautiful off of you and so, it’s the vowels that hurt the syllables that are still stuck like sour honey in the wedges of my brain

Beseeched with hands clenched so tightly like a prayer- straight into my lungs you beg but I already swore I’ll give you so much I want to give you so much but it’d be better for the both of us to just under-pour instead

How many times can you ask me for something that we both want but only I am able to impart

Entreating words that should’ve fallen out of a pencil because pen bleeds permanent a convoluted incoherence of ink until their form is nothing more than blurred cliche

How many times will you ask me for something I can give to you I want to give to you only you but while you’re still willing to tie the telephone cord around her throat too I’m going to keep it for myself I’m going to hold it so tightly as if it were me, myself please don’t take me please don’t just take me

THEVINDI.COM | 40 POETRY

MARIS WIRT

DEGENERATE

I can’t understand the reasons I live, or the moments that collect and only to give and the screaming, the pain, and the shackles held tightwith only the message that nothing is right

I see the disease and the currents that came The washing- the thrashingNow nothing remains And I wanted the world and the love it endures So I waited and waited for hope and a cure

I’ve mistaken your smile for shiny new things what you couldn’t give me- it wasn’t the same I teach and reteach and destroy my own thoughts My body, my brain, and the colorful spots

It hurts and it hurts and I’m never the same To pretend you’re mine, you gave me a name I wanted it all- all that you were and I wanted to hold you, I misunderstood

Fault is a pleasure and life is a pain but living and living till the end of my days

I wanted a world where nothing was hard and that love would soon come and never depart I wished and I prayed to the sky up above that the future was brighter and in comes a dove

I wish you’d come sooner- engulf my own heart And now no room for praying will tear us apart

I was promised a day when love would return So I’ll wait and I’ll wait for the rumors I burned Yes I’ll wait and I’ll wait to be understood.

PAS DE DEUX

We stand one foot next to the other holding hand in hand; a promise Large winds howl and push The end together is harmless

Looking down at muddy waters, your hand squeezes into mine Nothing stopping us from stepping offdescend this harsh decline

Heart thumpingShattering my ribs

I hear nothing but my own blood rushing; I can see you giving in

One step, another You let go of our fingers hold A promise we made to fall Hands slipping from railing’s gold

Set aside our word I watched you dance on air while standing from the ledge across your gaze, we shared a moment’s stare

If you are to take your life, let me also do the same Wait for me on widow’s peak -don’t leave me here in pain

We’ll watch the sunrise against the waves The ocean bid s adieu The birds cry out for another soul Peer our abandoned Pas de Deux

You’ve left me here to share your shame I’m nothing but a coward A weak mind with a weak heart looking at you spiral downward

If only I knew that I’d be left standing Did our time mean anything to you Was it all for nothing- my love, our life You left your answer with this view

If only I knew I would watch you struggle against the gale and scream your lungs ‘til full of salt If only I could have known you’d leave me to watch your ballad from up on top

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