TLW MagaZine #1

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The Rockers 1st Annual BBQ weekend Bodypaint and Photoshoot Party SKINN

Body art by Kitakiya Dennis, Anastasia Balabanova, and Lyric Prince


Hosted by Rockers! Closet




Our Summer Kicked off with some amazing house parties...

Bassment parties are Ground Zero for the rapidly growing interest in EDM here in Philadelphia


The One-on-One B-Boy Battle hosted by Vitamin Water at the legendary Sigma Sounds Studios


“ LEAVE

NUTHI NAT HOME ANDLEAVE I TALLONSTAGE”

t h e L a s TWo r d EVERY THIRD THURSDAY AT THE MOONSTONE ARTS CENTER




Fire dancer outside of the Dorian’s 1yr. Anniversary at the DoubleTree

You may not remember what you were doing on Saturday, July 15th between 10 and 11pm but if you were anywhere near Broad and Locust Sts. in Philadelphia that evening you may have thought you stumbled onto the set of an odd futuristic, neo-victorian movie set. You would remember having to make room on the sidewalk for plenty of jolly, costumed onlookers in a massive semi-circle in front of the DoubleTree Hotel cheering for a flame throwing dance troupe, one of several acts scheduled for the Dorian’s Parlor one-year anniversary party. (And that was just outside.) Disguised in a glass-buttoned, black satin corseted waistcoat of my own, designed and handmade by feyasterling, I vaguely blended into the mix of neovictorians, goths, dandys, and steampunks, clad in a dizzying assortment of corsets, waistcoats, geared-out limbs, copper weaponry, goggles, and bustles. Having never been myself, I was convinced that the event itself was happening right there outside. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Inside there were another three to four hundred people, laughing,

socializing, buying gear, books, corset patterns, masks, hats and even absinthe; the atmosphere inside could not have been more festive. In the main hall, there was a fashion show by the House of Cannery, a dance floor presided over by DJ Kilt Boy who played everything from Smashing Pumpkins to Puscifer and performances by The House of Egress and folk headliner Voltaire. Describing itself as “a sensuous spectacle of vintage glamour shining in the heart of Philadelphia”, Dorian’s is provides a unique look into one of the world’s most unique subcultures. Dorian’s Parlor is the premiere Steampunk and “alt-cult” meet-up that’ seems more like a convention more than anything else. Every month at Center City’s DoubleTree Hotel Dorian’s features fashion shows, vendors, live performances, food, dance party and Philly dressed in the best costumes ever! For more information, be sure to visit DoriansParlor.com.


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Uppercuts by Terrance Hendricks

-MON EY It has been a long time since Floyd Mayweather threw a combination as destructive as the one that put Victor Ortiz on his back in their September 17th championship fight. That vicious left/right combo put an end to a fairly entertaining fight that saw Ortiz getting frustrated for four rounds before finally losing it, and hitting Mayweather with a headbutt that would make E. Honda proud. Ortiz then apologetically hugged Mayweather several times before foolishly deciding to drop his hands. “Money” would respond by hitting Ortiz like he was trying to burst his head open “Fist of the North Star” style. Immediately after the fight, boxing fans and the sports media debated Mayweather’s lack of sportsmanship in the fight. The argument over Mayweather’s sportsmanship has now been rehashed in the media and in internet boxing forums ad nauseum. Whether or not Mayweather exhibited class in the ring is moot at this point, the fact is that Ortiz got knocked out and Mayweather remains undefeated. He also remains the most talented, yet universally despised boxer in recent history. The best pure boxer since

Pernell Whitaker, Mayweather’s skills are undeniable. But people do not watch Mayweather fight to see him exercise his sublime skill in the ring, they watch his fights with the hope that his opponent will somehow rise above the odds and give him the beating they think he rightfully deserves. Judging from the chorus of boos from the pro-Ortiz crowd at the MGM Grand as Mayweather’s hand was raised in victory, most of the those people bought tickets hoping Ortiz would be the guy to humble “Money” Mayweather. Not only did Mayweather deny his detractors the satisfaction of seeing him defeated, he humiliated Ortiz and further added to his villainous persona. The animus that Mayweather has been able to generate is key to his marketing scheme. In order to sell a boxing match to casual fans there has to be a good guy and a bad guy. It’s hard to keep fans interested unless they have a vested interest in the outcome of a fight. A black, rich, talented, arrogant athlete like Mayweather is never going to make many friends amongst American sports fans. However, instead of trying to clean up his image to appeal to a larger audience a la Michael Vick,


Mayweather has chosen to use the public’s negative perception of him to his advantage, making millions of dollars in the process. Mayweather’s conduct during the Ortiz fight and his verbal sparring session with Larry Merchant during the post-fight interview was what boxing fans have come to expect of Mayweather- that he act like a villain. Did people really expect for Mayweather to wait for Ortiz to put his hands back up? Did Magneto warn Wolverine before he ripped his adamantium skeleton from his body? # Mayweather is boxing’s supervillain and playing this role has served Mayweather well. In spite of all of the animosity directed toward him, Mayweather is one of the biggest draws in boxing right now. In seven pay-per-view fights he has generated 6.9 million buys and over $300 million dollars in revenue. From HBO’s 24/7 to Twitter, Mayweather has shrewdly used the media to promote himself. Mayweather recently exhibited his mastery of playing the bad guy when he tweeted the following in response to the fallout from the Ortiz fight: “Victoria Ortiz thought it was a head-butting contest. But that 2-piece gave him some act right.” When Oscar De La Hoya decided to chime in on the controversy, Mayweather countered with this gem: "I left the fight in the ring but Oscar and Ortiz keep doing interviews crying like some Golden Girl bitches. I will fuck both of you up." No matter what you make of his tweets or his other antics, by becoming the asshole of the boxing world; Mayweather has risen to the top of the sport. # Before Mayweather’s breakthrough, the only fighters making big pay-per-view money were either Hispanic or heavyweights. From the start of his professional career in 1996 until his last fight at junior lightweight against Jesus Chavez in 2001, Mayweather dominated the junior lightweight division. Despite the fact that he was an absolute monster at junior lightweight, Mayweather was largely ignored by casual boxing fan. Never possessing a particularly charismatic personality, or a dedicated fanbase, it was difficult for Mayweather to sell himself as a big money fighter. While he was highly regarded by boxing writers and hardcore fans, he could never seem to break into to the mainstream and make the money that guys like Oscar De La Hoya, Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield were raking in at the time. In the words of Andre 3000, Mayweather was “…making the crowds move but wasn’t making no cheese...” # It wasn’t until his first pay-per-view main event in 2005, where he fought Arturo Gatti for the WBC championship, that Mayweather began to get the attention and cash he had been seeking for years. The Gatti fight was where Mayweather perfected his bad guy act and became the man that boxing fans love to hate. Because this was Mayweather’s first time on the big stage he had to prove that he

could sell a fight. With the bout scheduled to take place in Atlantic City, Mayweather was facing one of the most beloved fighters of all time in his hometown. Gatti was a hero and Mayweather was defaulted into the role of the bad guy. Mayweather brilliantly chose to play the bad guy card that had been dealt to him. Mayweather took shots at Gatti throughout the fight promotion. Calling Gatti a “ blown-up club fighter”, a “C+ fighter who fights Cfighters” and vowing to punish Gatti in the ring, Mayweather played his villainous role perfectly. People soon forgot that Gatti wasn’t anywhere near Mayweather’s level and bought into the fight with the hope that their hero would shut Mayweather up. In the biggest fight of his career up to that point, Mayweather delivered a comprehensive beating to Gatti in route to a win by TKO. This would become the fight that showcased Mayweather for the sport’s universe beyond hardcore boxing fans and set him up as a pay-per-view brand name. The villainous “Money” Mayweather was born and the blueprint for future Mayweather promotions was set. # One of the originators of HBO’s 24/7 concept, Mayweather has used the medium to further promote his bad guy role. In the build up for his last five fights Mayweather has used 24/7 to openly flaunt his wealth, talk shit about his opponent, hang out with 50 cent, and berate his dad. Savvy and self-aware, Mayweather knows that most of the people who pay to see his fights want to watch him lose. He counts the people who come to see him lose as his “fans”, and like a true villain he loves antagonizing them at every opportunity. Whether he is burning a one hundred-dollar bill in a club or wearing a sombrero to the ring when he fought De La Hoya on Cinco de Mayo, Mayweather knows exactly how to push people’s buttons. # Unmatched in boxing ability, Mayweather has not fought an opponent who posed a legitimate threat to him since he fought Jose Luis Castillo in 2002. Because of his exceptional skills but also because of his ability to wisely choose opponents, none of Mayweather’s recent opposition has stood a chance of giving him a challenge, let alone beating him. Nevertheless, by setting himself up as a malevolent supervillain, Mayweather is able to sell these one-sided beatdowns to the public. It’s not hard to sell people on watching Mayweather get beat up. People want to believe in it, like Jesus or the Dallas Cowboys. Unfortunately, for all of the Mayweather haters this is a story where the bad guy will win in the end.


SPOTLIGHT

If Rage Against the Machine were fronted by two female vocalists, with de la Rocha’s charisma and miles ahead in lyricism and flow, then you would have the Mighty Paradocs in 2007 led by co-vocalists Rebecca Roe (Focus) and Camae Dennis (SuperDefStar). e two started as a rap duo aer meeting in a cypher on the campus of the Art Institute. ey eventually formed a band that quickly became a local mainstay in Philly’s underground punk and hip hop scenes known as the Mighty Paradocs. e first Rockers! shows were held at the Aqua Lounge, a street level bar that looked like a basement with a long brown bar counter and a makeshi stage on 3rd & Girard. I went to one of the first shows on a humid night in June four years ago; Rockers! was only months old and featured Lillie Ruth Bussie, GhettoSongbird and e Mighty Paradocs. One night, one stage and three bands led by black women who wrote and composed everything they performed. Aside from Afropick, an event created by Walida Imarisha and others a few years before to showcase and highlight diversity and specifically gave black women producing rock and experimental music a stage and audience—Rockers! was unprecedented. is was not by mistake; Camae Dennis with her band the Mighty Paradocs also shared the stage with other little known acts at the time like the Baptist Preachers fronted by Sheena Clay at Afropick. Without a doubt, Afropick inspired the creation of Rockers! and this was a perfect example. e stage was dark. e only way to see anything that was happening was either to be close to the stage or from very dim lights in the back of the room. e darkness added mystique to Lillie’s folk rhythms and a haunting black sunshine to GSB’s bass heavy, Black Sabbath inspired funk-metal.



! e Aqua Lounge was shut down no more than a month or two later, but that didn’t stop head booker Camae Dennis from keeping Rockers! alive. Soon aer Rockers! returned to a new location; South Street’s very own red room, the Tritone. Today, Rockers! and its vision to expose new and diverse artists and bands to the tristate area has come a long way from an unlit stage with a handful of people looking on, to one of the longest running and well attended monthly local and underground music events in the city. e Rockers! Spotlight, much like the monthly underground music event that inspired the name, will highlight local music that is under the radar and diverse. e focus will be on on live music and performance, not only covering the Rockers! monthly shows but little known nuggets of brilliance that go unnoticed and underexposed. In July, Rockers! featured the rugged rap metal of D.C favorite rowDown Syndicate, and the electro-


Rob Lindgren, one half of the electric-dance punk duo Revolution, I Love You at Rockers! in July. Just released their 2nd album, We Choose to Go to the Moon available now at revolutioniloveyou.com

punk duo Revolution, I Love You. Originally from Delaware, the duo moved to Philly permanently within the last year and have hit the ground running performing frequently in venues all over the area. R,ILY’s sound could remind one of area natives Brother’s Past but with more kick and an edgy vocalist. Their live set is spry and savvy, with Rob, the lead vocalist, leaning into the lyrics and his guitar with ferocity. In October Rockers! featured bands include resident Joe Jordan (JJX), GrindCity, Calvae, Blayer Pointdujour & the Rockers Galore. Following a raucous set by Mach 22, fronted by musical journeyman Lamont Caldwell in September.

On top of the eclectic mix of music one might find at Rockers! on any given night, what makes it really special is the audience. Rockers! brings together a colorful mix of races, genders and personalities jostles them in a mosh pit and spits them back out into the world happier and a little bruised. Rockers! is Philadelphia’s only monthly showcase of diverse underground music in a scene brimming with an insane variety of voices brewing just below the surface.



Immortality: Black History & the AfroFuturist The Importance of the AfroFuturist Aesthetic

Spatial Displacement by Andromeda Skyy


Theories of epigenetics suggest that there are particular genetic traits that pass down trans-generationally. These traits, depending on certain triggers in an environment, can switch on or off, catalyzing certain behaviors in a micro-system (such as a cell) or a macro-system (a person’s behavioral traits). In the same way that DNA is encoded in us, it is posited that we also inherent our ancestral memories; when ancestral memory is triggered in an individual, the memories may directly impact upon their health, psychology, or behavior. For example, the psychological disorder known as ‘Post-traumatic Slavery Disorder” theorizes that the repeated trauma


“...when ancestral memory is triggered in an individual, the memories may directly impact upon their health, psychology, or behavior.�


“In spite of being able to conceive of novel technologies and spin entire new worlds, traditional sci-fi stories, art, and film fail to conceive of worlds and universes where people of color aren’t virtually nonexistent.”


experienced by people of African descent during slavery and the decades of oppression following it, have passed from generation to generation, resulting in the dysfunctional, self-destructive behaviors patterns that can be witnessed in Black cultures around the world. If this sounds like a ripe idea for a science-fiction novel, it is; these ideas often manifest in traditional and modernday science-fiction, particularly as it applies to people of color and their existence in the future worlds that science-fiction typically concerns itself with. % I have noticed that the ideas behind epigenetics often manifest in traditional and modern-day sciencefiction, particularly as it applies to people of color, and their existence in the future worlds that science-fiction builds its very foundation upon. % Traditional science-fiction is a field dominated by white males. In spite of being able to conceive of novel technologies and spin entire new worlds, traditional scifi stories, art, and film fail to conceive of worlds and universes where people of color aren’t virtually nonexistent. In this way, traditional science-fiction is not able to escape the box of its present day reality. It reflects not novel ideologies, but instead reinforces timehonored narratives of white superiority over the rest of the mostly-colored world. Science-fiction reinforces the social narrative that people of color are not fit to survive, and will eventually be wiped out of the future due to their inferior genetics, or inability to adapt to social and environmental conditions. % The early summer blockbuster, X-Men: First Class gives a perfect example of this ideology. The only Black male character in the entire film (ironically named Darwin) is the first to die. Although his mutant ability is to adapt to his environment, he is not able to survive, and is thus not included in the changing world within the film. In the comic-book styled, hit sci-fi television series Heroes, there is only one Black female character named Monica Dawson, a college dropout living in postKatrina New Orleans. Also known as St. Joan, Monica inadvertently learns she has the power of adoptive muscle memory, allowing her to automatically replicate any physical motion she witnesses without having to practice it. In one episode, she is able to stop a robber who robs the fast food restaurant by repeating a wrestling move that she saw on a TV wrestling match. However, Monica is only able to duplicate moves she is physically capable of doing, and not the powers of other evolved humans. In a later episode called “Powerless”, Monica’s powers fail her when she is kidnapped, tied up and nearly burned alive by a young Black gang member. A white female hero on the show, Nicki, subsequently sets Monica free.

! Further examples of the unfitness of people of color to adapt to changing worlds abound in traditional science and and speculative fiction, evidenced by the


virtual non-existence of people of color in the story, or their eventual demise. Such stories are also suggestive of the social narratives about Black people only being well suited for sports and other non-intellectual endeavors due to a combination of intellectual inferiority and bodies built like animals (of the non-human variety). % Because we know science-fiction to be social commentary on the evolution (or degeneration) of society through the use of parable, it is difficult for people of color to rectify their lack of representation in these genres. People of color who might otherwise be attracted to these genres are often reluctant to attach themselves to narratives where they are consistently misrepresented, demeaned, or invisible. % The aesthetic and culture of AfroFuturism has emerged strongly over the past several decades as a conscious stirring of the ancestral memory in response to

Black Hooded Sweater Dress by feyasterlinginc Afghani hip belt Buffalo bone Necklace


the lack of representation of people of color in traditional science-fiction worlds. As a literary, artistic and cultural aesthetic, AfroFuturism (also known as Black Futurism) and the Black sci-fi literary genre function to awaken our inherited intuitions regarding our roles in history, our ancestors’ shaping of the present and our continued existences into the future. It considers Blackness as it appears and is defined in the future, critiques the present-day circumstances of people of color, explores the implications of technology on Black art and literature, and interrogates historical events involving black people across the diaspora through the vehicles of sciencefiction, historical fiction, fantasy, and magick. % Through AfroFuturistic art, science, music, fashion, and literature, we are presented with a creative, active, participatory approach to Black history and Black future, criss-crossing back and forth through space and time to find answers to the questions of our collective existence. It gives us a view of a history where our pasts continue to influence our present, and will repeatedly influence the future. With AfroFuturistic art, music, writing, and fashion, through the vehicle of the intuitive process of creation one can immerse one’s senses (hearing, vision, touch) in the past and future while still remaining “present.” Often in AfroFuturistic art and music, you will find a unifying of these various segments of time coalescing into one piece. % Award-winning poet, recording artist, and musician, who also played a minor role in sci-fi film 12 Monkeys, for example, performs a piece called Sha-Clack-Clack, prominently featured in the movie SLAM, that is written in the metaphysical language of time and space, telling the story of the Black man’s legacy, while providing social commentary on his present day conditions. Works of Afrofuturism equally evoke all segments of time (past, present, and future) in a way

that recognizes that these segments are actually practical fictions. % One can find in Afrofuturist art a marriage of history, such as ancient Egyptian symbology, with extra-terrestial technological elements such as spaceships, fused into a recognizable, modern-day snapshot. Eighties artist Jean-Michel Basquiat merged modern-day graffitti, African mythology, architecture, African masks, human anatomy, cosmology, and map symbols to make art pieces that silently commented on police brutality, slavery, cultural appropriation, apartheid, and other issues of facing black communities worldwide. Chiffon and Brocade Hooded Dress Eel Skin Underbust Harness Belt Amber & Glass Bead Gye Nyame Necklace by feyasterlinginc.


Black science fiction author Octavia Butler explores the issue of our inherited genetic abilities repeatedly in her science-fiction works. In her Patternist series, Ms. Butler tells the tale of a race of telepaths, from their origins during the Ancient Egyptian-era, up into a far future of aliens, colonization of planets, and mass telepathic mind control. Black horror and sci-fi author Tananarive Due also explores genetics and immortality in her African Immortals series. In this series, a Black journalist in Florida has unwittingly married one of the members of an ancient, immortal Ethiopian cult. Family and friends of the protagonist begin turning up dead as the cult stops at nothing to protect their powerful secrets from the world. Throughout the series, however, others learn about the healing power of the blood and go after it for their own purposes. Due uses the story of the ancient bloodline secrets and its implications on modern-day humans as a vehicle to explore issues of genetics, disease epidemics, colonization of Africa, and the ultimate fate of humanity. Like Butler, Due’s stories re-examines ancient African history, while analyzing the influence of lineage and genetics on present-day events. In doing so, she reaffirms the notion of African blood as being of supernatural quality. Through these inherently supernatural powers of the blood, African descendants are not only fit to adapt to survival, but they are indeed powerful enough to be the agents who will guide humanity into future worlds. Octavia Butler and Tananarive Due are two of several Black authors who employ epigenetics, lineage, and bloodline as both plot and metaphor in their stories in ways quite unlike traditional sci-fi, which depicts African descendants as the weakest links in the evolutionary chain. The characters in the stories of Black sci-fi and horror are often placed under circumstances where their genetic memory is triggered, forcing them to understand the ways in which the experiences of their kin are imprinted upon the pattern of their present-day experiences (whether on the cultural macro-level or on the individual micro-level), and how the lessons from those experiences can help them to become change agents in their ever-changing worlds.


“...African descendants are not only fit to adapt to survival, but they are indeed powerful enough to be the agents who will guide humanity into future worlds.�


When we are able to view our history as alive and actively pumping through our veins, rather than behind us, dead, or frozen in time, we become agents in our own histories, and all segments of time (past present and future) are given equal weight and consideration in our actions. Many stories found in Afrofuturism pose the same questions regarding humanity’s future existence, but provide a much different picture than those of the genre’s traditionally white counterparts in the science-fiction genre.

On October 28, 2011 Andromeda Skyy in conjunction with Philly Printworks presents The AfroFuturist Charity & Costume Ball. The first of its kind, the AfroFuturist Ball was concieved to heighten awareness about black people’s involvement in science fiction and to attract the creative works of artists authors, and performers in the AfroFuturist aesthetic.




Imagine a world where the weather was perfect. Where deserts didn’t exist. Where food could be grown absolutely anywhere because the weather conditions could be exactly what is needed for any geo-physical space. Imagine a world where natural disasters because of weather patterns like hurricanes could be eliminated. No more hurricane, or typhoon seasons. A world without harmful radiation from the sun. A world like this is possible. Unfortunately it cannot last. Our story is set in a time when at some point during the 21st century, scientist found a way to manipulate the planet’s weather system by changing the atmosphere, even reflecting harmful sun rays back into space. Today some believe that various governments are already participating in weather manipulation. Its called geo-engineering in most circles. Airplanes fly overhead dumping chemicals into the atmosphere, appearing first as the jet’s contrail but then lingering so long that they appear like very thin clouds in the sky. So called conspiracy theorists call it chemtrailing. And to this day government officials won’t admit that any operation of the sort exists. We’ve all seen contrails that last far longer than they should; that appear like clouds. Studies show that there is an increase in respiratory related diseases and illnesses. And what about the mysterious fish and fowl kills of earlier this year? Could something like this be happening right over our heads? I entertained the idea that it very well could be and despite the deaths, the illnesses and the subterfuge I tried to imagine a world where the benefits of weather manipulation flourished. However, none of the scenarios I imagined would last. The world of our nameless female characters is the onset of the dangers of geoengineering. The atmosphere is beginning to deteriorate just enough where masks are introduced to protect from dangerous areas in the eco-sphere, mainly highly populated areas. Masks are introduced as a new fad in fashion with the foresight that they will be needed more and more in the future. While the environment allows, they are bejeweled and made from soft fabrics and most significantly have become apart of cultural sharing and expression. ~DiLo DeMille





SUPER After three great years of going strong and giving Philly’s thriving party scene a reliable shot in the ass every week, Superdope says farewell. TLW was there for one helluva sendoff, karate chopping, headlocking, but mostly taking pictures. Take a look.

>>>>>>>>>

DoPE


The needle dropped on the first record at SuperDope three years ago and on a warm morning night in late September, the dance floor emptied for the last time at a festive finale that tore the roof off...

GARDEN PROJECT

Garden Project created by Lorem Elementary 6th Grade Class

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SuperDope brought a variety of people together and compelled b-boys and girls, the hip-hop heads and the casual partygoer looking for something to do, to leave it on the dancefloor thanks to eclectic live sets by host, DJ PHSH.

Week in and week out PHSH delivered the goods to an audience unafraid to sweat it out to his colorful mixes.


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didn’t want to listen to Watch the Throne in pieces. So when leaked tracks became available I ignored them. While the world anticipated the debut of the musical matrimony of Jay and Yeezy, two of the biggest names in pop music, in the form of a length LP I intentionally avoided any news concerning the debut. I focused on other hip-hop album of the year candidates like Tyler’s Goblin and Rae’s Shaolin vs. Wu.

I was so convinced that Watch the Throne would be one of the most cohesive and ambitious LPs of the year that I didn’t want to spoil my chances at appreciating hip-hop again by treating myself to early releases and snippets out of the context of the album’s story. I did this with My Beautiful Dark full Twisted Fantasy, 75% of the album leaked onto the Internet months before its release and by the time I got it, the narrative was ruined because I already listened to everything ahead of time and out of sequence. Hip-hop producer 9th Wonder posted a series of tweets about the album right after it debuted that I’m sure have been characterized as “hate”. One of them went something like, “WTT as a whole is not for me... I understand expansion/ experimentation in music, but it’s not for me. As a musician/ beatmaker/active participant in hip-hop, I want to be SCARED when I hear something, like when I heard Aquemini." Twitter was in an uproar. Mr. Wonder’s weak constitution and Jay Z and Kanye are Aquemini arguably Outkast’s best album aside, it was the notion that so awesome, that the WTT would be “experimental” that only notable features spiked my curiosity. I couldn’t on the album are dead resist an early download of the men and Beyonce. deluxe edition just days before Further proof that the Amazon release. WTT opens up blazing the throne you and I with the four and a half minute are mandated to masterfully produced "No Church watch is in heaven. in the Wild", featuring persistent bass heavy drums and vocals by the fluffiest member of OddFuture and songwriting prodigy Frank Ocean. After a minute of embellishing the contagious hook over the throbbing 88Keys soundscape, Jay-Z, known for his monotone but snappy flow joins “No Church…” with a jumbled, difficult to follow collage where he name drops dead philosophers who obviously have nothing better to do in death than applaud his "… As of 8/29 WTT was no. 1 for the 2nd week having cocaine seats/ all white like I got the whole thang sold 177,000 including (digital and physical copies). Cumulative sales as of that date were 613,000. One bleached...” month later as of 10/19, the album has sold 975,000 After another minute of crooning by Frank copies in the United States. Its debut week serves Ocean, Kanye caps it off with easily his most as the second highest debut week of 2011, while its first week digital sales of 321,000 downloads serve cohesive and substantial verse on the entire album, as the second highest one-week sales tally in digital dropping a patient and thoughtful retelling of a history. The album had the biggest one-week digital random night of debauchery, in a random upscale tally ever for a rap album and broke the United States ITunes Store's one-week sales record when hotel with coked up babydolls and group sex. West it sold nearly 290,000 downloads. It serves as Jayflashes his expert storytelling, “...coke on her black Z's 12th number-one album and West's fifth skin made a stripe like a zebra/ I call that jungle number-one album in the US.


fever/ you and I control the threesome/ just roll the weed up/ til i get me some...” At first he almost seems annoyed or mildly distracted by his submissive cohorts, but snaps to attention in the same breath and delivers a fitting love and spirituality metaphor as an unavoidable edict, “…we formed a new religion/ no sins as long as there’s permission/ and deception is the only felony/ to never fuck nobody without tellin me...” Unlike the Kanye of old, we’re presented with a promising glimmer of his potential growth as a writer. He avoids adding the now cliche details ubiquitous in hip-hop’s wild night scenarios. Where he would normally beef up his bravado, Kanye plays it cool, leaving just enough to the imagination, “…sunglasses and advil/ last night was mad real/ sun comin up at 5am/ I wonder if they got cabs still...” Unfortunately, “Lift Off”, the album’s second song begins the exact same as the one before, but less impressive with at least a minute of singing by a featured artist. It plays out in the same way as the first as well, four minutes dominated by singing and two skinny verses from Hov and his protégé. At best this song is skippable and should have been annexed for a future Beyonce full-length. In WTT’s favor however, it may be the only song on the album that sticks rigidly to the standard verse/hook syndrome, but doesn’t escape the repetitive featured singer and rapper formula prevalent throughout the rest of the LP. Ironically, WTT doesn’t actually “Lift Off” until after the Beyonce cameo, with nine of the best and most frenetic minutes in playful lyricism, banging production and opulence on any album or mixtape this year. It is here where Watch The Throne creates its most phenomenal moments. “Niggas in Paris”, produced by HitBoy, sets the stage for the 2nd single and the only song on the album where Kanye is sole producer, “Otis”. “Otis” & “Gotta Have It” produced by the Neptunes, showcase everything we love about Jay-Z and Kanye, and everything we love about their teaming up to do this project that was only supposed to be an EP. James Brown and Otis Redding make “Otis” and “Gotta Have It”, sound more like classic funk and soul songs with rap lyrics than braggadocious swagger rap. “Gotta Have It” alone contains samples from three separate James Brown songs. (Why the late James Brown didn’t receive a feature credit for his posthumous vocals on this track and maybe even the entire album, which uses Brown’s “Don't Tell a Lie About Me and I Won't Tell the Truth About You” as

ubiquitously as Otis Redding on “Otis” is beyond anyone.) Let’s hope it was something legal... “Otis” is exactly what everyone expected from WTT. It is the quintessential Jay and Kanye track and the perfect example of how their potential chemistry could have produced a classic album. “Gotta Have It” is further proof of the magical chemistry that could have made WTT exceptional, fashioning golden bars that see Jay handing off the baton expertly with, “w’sup m’fucka where mah money at/ you gon make me come down to your house where your mommy at/ mummywrap the kids/ have em crying for they mommy back/ tell em that their daddy is/ tell them i just want my racks…” and Yeezy, in perfect stride taking off with an unbelievably catchy co-sign, “racks on racks on racks (Racks!) Maybachs on bachs on bachs on bachs / Who in that? (Oh shit, it’s just blacks on blacks on blacks)/ (Hundred stack) How you get it? (Nigga layin’ raps on tracks)…” Sadly, the production for WTT more often than not seems to either favor Hov or Yeezy but rarely both rappers on the same track. The nine-minute block from track three to track five provides perfect examples

of beats that compliment both styles, even creating a little extra cushion for both to break out of their lonely comfort zones. However, after that WTT struggles to marry the two harmoniously. Jay-Z told Rolling Stone before the album dropped that, “…if we were gonna do it, we were gonna do it together. No mailing it in…” but that’s exactly how “Illest Muthafucka Alive”, a track suited for Yeezy’s charisma and creativity, sounds—mailed in. Jay grabs the mic after Yeezy goes a little dumb on it and it simply sinks, his boring and charsima-less vocals point out flaws in the repetitive production that weren’t there when Kanye was delivering.


On the RZA produced, “New Day”, the duo doesn’t even sound as if they are on the same planet, let alone the same hotel room recording this album. The “...me and the Rza connect...” line snatched from Raekwon’s “Incarcerated Scarfaces” sounds forced and starry-eyed, while both verses lack the sincerity that could have made this song special. “New Day” is somber and serious, warning future sons about the perils of fame over an uncharacteristically safe RZA beat that lacks drama. (Look, I’m not one to doubt his Hoviness, if he says it wasn’t mailed in then it wasn’t mailed in. And if Sir Hov thought that the best chance they had to make a classic album would be to record it with thirteen different producers, in four different countries, six different cities, seven separate studios, and two hotels, including the Mercer where it was finally mastered, then I believe him.) On “Why I Love You” Kanye simply plays cheerleader to Jay’s pitiful whining which sounds a lot like the pitiful whining on the Blueprint 3’s “What We Talkin Bout”. In a nutshell, Jay is as pissed off about the Beanie Mac situation as Kanye is about the Wiz and Amber situation. Neither is a good look for the self-proclaimed teflon dons. In the call and response styled hook Hova asks his former comrade, “didn’t I spoil you?” Wait… what? Is this the same guy who just got finished saying, “w’sup m’fucka where mah money at…” and shit like, “mummy rap the kids/ have em crying for they mommy back”? Foregoing the very necessary “there’s no crying in baseball...” analogy, musically WTT is not ambitious. 9th Wonder had it all wrong; there’s nothing experimental or expansive about WTT’s production. Its the same, looped, sped up vocals and soul sampled production omnipresent in hip-hop. Furthermore, the only “experimental” tracks one may be able to point to are the ones that use dubstep, but dubstep has always been used in hip-hop. The songs that they sampled aren’t even that much of a stretch even for dubstep. Additionally, those songs were already wildly popular before this album was conceived, appearing in mixes and used by DJs since late last year. WTT is the most politically opinionated album either emcee has ever made. Despite Jay’s

boycott of Cristal and Kanye’s fervently maligned Hurricane Katrina snafu, both emcees have remained relatively mute on socio-politics. However, it seems that having Obama on speed dial has politicized Mr. Carter in a way different from the Jay-Z we hear on “99 Problems”. This isn’t the black nationalist shtick of Dead PreZ or a more lenient Talib Kweli. Jay and Kanye, as documented in several interviews and pervasive throughout this album’s lyrics envision a new black elite or renaissance. One that is rich, affluent and above all else, FREE. (Even if that freedom entitles every nigga just one wild night in Paris), so it is worth noting that this is what makes WTT much more than an album by two rich rap stars. We hear a contemplative Jay and Yeezy on “Murder to Excellence”. Singing children toy with one’s heartstrings, followed by a “thought-provoking” hook sung by several unnamed featured singers, “the paper reads murder… black on black murder…black on black murder again…” Between Yeezy quoting murder statistics and ongoing black deaths by way of gun violence, while criticizing the media for the exact same thing; Jay delivers a quip imitating Anthony Hopkins from Silence of the Lambs in the garbled climax to a sheep-coat reference (seriously) and the sweet smell of success. He precedes that strange bit with more about “black ties/ black opulence/ black excellence...”, making this song the first trainwreck over two amazing beats ever. In every instance where this album suffers, there’s something out of character for the two gentlemen to accompany it. Jay suddenly blurts out, “what’s up blood/ what’s up cuz/ its all black/ i love us...” He even says “power to the people” at some point in that verse and despite each and every well intended black power reference and sudden change of heart in regards to the plight of less fortunate or ambitious African-Americans, who they both, mock, criticize and ridicule in nearly every other song on this album, not to mention their discographies, Jay and Kanye say damn


near everything they can to undermine the struggle for social justice and economic equality as it pertains to people of color. More or less to the point, shouldn’t one get the feeling that it’s, “too little, too late...”? We see further evidence of the duo’s awakened consciousness on Frank Ocean’s second pointless feature, “Made in America”, but we have to go back to the soulful “Otis” to find a politically defiant Shawn Carter, always the gangster, who suggests, “run up on Yeezy the wrong way I might merk ya/ flee in the G450 I might surface/ political refugee asylum can be purchased/ everything’s for sale/ I got five passports I'm never going to jail…” He ends that same verse with fluid cohesion when he postures, “...welcome to havana/ smokin Cubanos with Castro in cabanas/ viva Mexico/ Cubano/ Dominico/ all the plugs that I know...” Jay proves here that he still has something left in the tank fitting the beginning of his verse just before the sample chimes in like the master he is. The timing adds a grittiness worthy of a break neck head nod, making the

rest of the verse while heavy, easier to digest, “...not bad huh? for some immigrants/ build your fences we diggin tunnels/ can’t you see we gettin money up under you...” The new politically charged Jay-Z brushes off political exile by throwing money at it, then shows solidarity with the plight of so called “illegal” aliens and America’s unfair immigration laws. But his attempt at solidarity and metaphor fail when his goals boil down to ambition and wealth, while his Latino “brethren” are denied basic human rights. Not to mention, the nod to Fidel Castro, leader of a Communist revolution in Cuba who is probably as flattered as Obama to get a shoutout from Jay-Z on Watch the Throne publicizing their daily cigar dates. We shouldn’t be surprised to find irony and inconsistency here. This is the same Jay-Z that talks about invitations to the White House and rubbing shoulders with President Obama in “Murder to Excellence”. The same president Obama who continues to enforce unfair and heavy-handed embargoes

on his cigar buddy’s island nation only ninety miles away and has consequently exiled Cuba from the global economy. On multiple occasions Jay-Z, like nearly everyone, points to Obama’s presidency as a symbol of “new hope”. Jay takes it further with his black elite model, eluding to a “talented-tenthing” of the black community charged with the feeling that now “anything is possible” for black people because America has elected a black man as president. Obama on the record continues the policies of administrations before him. He refuses to lift sanctions and embargoes on Cuba in the face of disapproval from the international community until it becomes “more democratic. Off the record the Obama administration, much like Bush’s, does business with, provides aid and weapons to armed militias and the leadership of countries with far worse human rights records and totalitarian regimes than Cuba. I’m not advocating laying the problems of the world at the foot of the throne; the throne has too many bitches laying there already


but isn’t it fair that if Jay compares himself to Michael Jackson then shouldn’t we compare Michael Jackson to him? The King of Pop, if anything was a brilliant songwriter and one could hardly ever find such gaping intellectual holes in his lyrics, especially as it pertained to social justice, poverty or inequality. In other words, if in fact Jay smokes cigars with Castro in Cuba, then do they discuss these things? Do they discuss communism and the capitalism Jay has gotten rich from? I get it, no one serious about social justice or economic equality internationally or in the black community is going to take Mr. Carter and Mr. West seriously. They aren’t about to start occupying the cities where they keep their millions, but, if Watch the Throne is the new gold standard that they claim it is and the comparisons to Bill Russell, Michael Jordan and Michael Jackson are to be considered as more than just fluffy rap hyperbole, then its fair to expect greatness and at the very least intellectual coherence if not consistency, perfectly metered metaphor or not. Besides, no one is blaming two of the wealthiest artists in the industry for being out of touch with the impoverished roots they constantly cling to for street cred. In an artform where coming from the most dysfunctional background possible, including incarceration, a broken home, and poverty work to the artists’ advantage, that is to be expected. However, one of the ongoing motifs throughout this album is the uprising of a black elite, change in the black community and racial unity. Jay professes as much on “Murder to Excellence”, “domino, domino/ only see a few blacks the higher up I go/ w’sup to Will, shout out to O/ that’s not enuff we gon’ need a million

mo’…”, Kanye takes it even further exterminated over a period of time/ I by proclaiming that, “...its time we am human, I care, I matter/ I feel redefine black power...” But all of it bad for the people who got lost and I is as impotent as organizing a park- too anguish when people are lost/ wide watergun fight as a fundraiser Ipray/ and my prayers tell me to for drought victims in the horn of fuckin ball/ I will die balling/ Africa. [kanye shrug]. Jay and Ye balling makes me feel better/ i am discuss aspirations for a decline in Super Yeezy I cannot be stopped...” black on black violence yet ignore Although this is one of the its obvious ties to economic songs where the producers got it depravity, poor living conditions, perfectly right; banging out a beat poor learning conditions and a host that compliments both emcees, we of other problems that escape the can’t be certain of which gaze of two men “with all that “holocaust” Mr. West is referring. power”. We can only infer that he either “Who Gon Stop Me” means the Middle Passage, should be the title track of this commonly referred to as the Black album. Yes, I’m suggesting that the Holocaust or, the ongoing violence album name be changed to the name perpetrated against black youth right of the song more suited to the here at home. All we can be certain album’s theme. In the In another more ironic than interesting note about first fortyJay’s unwittingly weighty metaphor, Assata Shakur, five seconds ex-black panther and freedom fighter during the Kanye sums Black Liberation Movement is an ACTUAL political up the entire refugee. She escaped wrongful imprisonment and album perfectly, fled the United States to Cuba where she was “...this is GRANTED political asylum in 1984. More than likely something she did not have the luxury of flying there in a G450 like the as that particular model of the private jet series Holocaust/ had not been built yet. And we can be fairly certain millions of that she did not have five passports either. But our people even if she did, she would have had to flee to one lost/ bow our of the few countries with the same unique heads and relationship with the United States that Cuba has pray to the to prevent being sent back, like North Korea or Lawd/ til I Venezuela. The same silly details that make Jay’s die I’m gon’ claim ridiculous and irresponsible are the exact fuckin ball/ same conditions that allow Assata, an innocent now who woman, to remain “free”. Shakur, who actually gon’ stop used the Panther motto “power to the people” me? who when it meant something very real to both black gon’ stop me people and the police was essentially persecuted huh...” for it. Assata lives in Cuba and for the most part Translation: cannot leave unless she wants to be extradited “THIS back into US custody. She is not there vacationing distortion on and having cigars with an old and ailing Fidel my voice Castro. So yes Jay, maybe in your world “political right now is asylum can be purchased”, but who would want to just like buy it other than you? millions of people


of is that Yeezy’s response to these tragedies and millions of Translation: “THIS his people missing... is to fucking distortion on my voice ball! But before he can begin, Jay right now is just like offers some accompanying millions of people Holocaust fighting weaponry exterminated over a when he adds, “black cards, black period of time/ I am cars/ black on black, black human, I care, I matter/ I broads/ whole lotta money in a black bag/ black strap feel bad for the people who got lost and I too you know what’s that for...” Yes anguish when people are Jay, we know exactly what it’s for... preventing a black on black lost/ i pray/ and my prayers tell me to fuckin cat war/ outside of the black on black backdoor/ to your black on ball/ I will die balling/ balling makes me feel black backyard... But seriously, “Who better/ i am Super Yeezy Gon’ Stop Me” while nicely I will not be stopped...” produced is about as well thought out as the metaphor from “Otis” where he references legitimacy to his already amazingly the building of fences to keep out improbable career. In his veiled Lil’ immigrants, but applauds the Wayne diss, on “H.A.M.” it building of tunnels, exclaiming, appears as if he wants to be the “...we getting money up under only rapper to be able to rap about you”. Regrettably absent from Jay’s all of the luxurious things he can critique of border control is the do with his money, or worse the smuggling of women through those only rapper to actually have a good very same tunnels for the ongoing, amount of money. seldom discussed sex trade, not to In “Death of Autotune”, mention the plethora of drug and he chides new rappers (the gun smuggling operations plaguing majority of whom are from the the same people he wants to see south, most notably Lil Wayne) rise up, stop killing one another about everything from the size of and fill the empty places he has set their jeans to their rap skills to not for them in the new black elite. having any style of their own, If the criticism of Jay clamoring for relevance, while appears more heavy-handed than borrowing everything he can from that of Kanye, there’s a reason for the southern aesthetic. Without that. Kanye, like most rappers of apology and the brazen arrogance his generation appears to be in it that you’d expect from a bigot, he for the shits and grins. At heart, and Kanye release “HAM”, as the Kanye is a rare phenomenon, he’s a first single from WTT, a term fan that actually made it; who popularized by southern emcees. wakes up every morning and gets Which brings up another more to go to work with the same hypocritical than interesting note people he grew up idolizing. I about Jay-Z and his waning applaud his luck and his hard work. relevance. “DOA” as it’s called was His analysis of world affairs, his centered around hip-hop music’s desire for a black elite and his obsession with trends. At the political opinion are to be taken as center of its “critique” are warnings seriously as Lil B’s claims of being against everything Jay did early in Bill Bellamy, Justin Bieber or his career to become the mogul Hillary Clinton. Besides, Kanye’s and overbearing hypocrite that he poignant sense of humor and is today. But to bring it even closer fearlessness with gems like, to home, one of the premiere “...heard Yeezy was racist/ well I tracks on WTT is “H.A.M.” and guess that’s on one basis/ I only what is HAM but a trendy phrase like green faces...” shows that he’s made popular in the south that taking himself less seriously, while could just as easily be replaced Jay in an effort to further validate with crunk from six or so years his career, continues on a campaign ago? to tear down those that will keep There was a time when the art form going after he’s gone. the best emcee didn’t have to sell On Watch the Throne and the most records. Jay-Z changed some of his later albums, Jay-Z that. One could argue that maybe appears as if he’s trying to add

its because he has never been the best. He’s always been second to someone. When Big was alive it was him. After Big died, Nas exposed all of his platinum plaque rhetoric for the farce that it is and handed him a crippling debacle. But this time it appears that Jay’s biggest threat is from right under his nose. The star that he groomed and nurtured, has snuck up and without saying very much has spoke volumes about who the best may be (at least between the two). Right after “DOA”, where Jay basically ostracized himself from the entire South, Yeezy almost in solidarity with many of the emcees and producers he’s worked with, made an entire autotuned album. Yeezy worked with Lil Wayne on the Carter III the same album with Lollipop, Wayne’s breakout autotuned hit that some could say inspired “DOA”. On most WTT tracks there is an obvious chemistry issue. That’s to be expected; Kanye West and Jay-Z are not a group. They are not Outkast or Run DMC. They have not gone through the important process of deindividualizing themselves and assuming one name. Watch the Throne is two megastars “teaming” up and basically featuring on each other’s album. Unfortunately, this stifles the album’s creativity and makes Jay appear boring or outmatched except for very rare flashes of his old self. Kanye, as he should, simply seems more in touch with where hip-hop is right now while Jay appears like a fossil who has forgotten that he isn’t an artsy intellectual and that he actually made his fortune as a rapper. Kanye’s verses on WTT are more memorable, colorful and entertaining from start to finish. On tracks where they go back and forth West gets the better of Jay more often than not. So one has to beg the question, while everyone takes aims for the crown from afar, could it be Kanye his very own protégé, the emcee closest to him that has used this “opportunity” to prove who is more suited for the throne?


“...WHAT THE HELL

IS A WATER-

BEAR ANYWAY?”

An Interview With The Creator and Director

Of The Philly Fringe Fest Hit Play

WATERBEARS In SPACE Candra Kennedy


0WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION FOR WATER BEARS IN SPACE? My love for water bears knows no bounds, and after hearing about the TARDIS experiment (the actual experiment where they sent water bears to space), I knew I had to write a play about it. I'd written a film noir-esque show already, and I wanted to explore another favorite genre of mine, fantasy. I drew heavily on Never Ending Story, and listened to the Labyrinth soundtrack on repeat while writing. The Black Cauldron, and Werner Herzog also became huge influences, as well as awesome space movies like Moon and Solaris. I love the idea of two simultaneous worlds vaguely overlapping each other (á la Never Ending Story), and the idea of tiny microscopic animals that we can't even see traveling into the enormity of outer space, something most of us can't ever experience.

DESCRIBE YOUR ARTISTIC BACKGROUND AND THE EXTENT OF YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH PUPPETRY. I've been involved in theatre since I was 5 years old, and as a child I did a lot of writing..I wrote a lot of poetry and fantasy novels up until I went to college. I got my undergrad in theatre with a focus on directing and playwriting. Since coming to Philadelphia, I've done minimal work as an actress, and really decided to start focusing on puppetry when I worked at Mum puppet theatre as a house manager, and when I performed with my friend David Fishkin in his show Grandpa's Dildo Farm. I produced my first fringe show, Rails, in 2009, and I started working with PuppeTyranny when I met Leslie Rogers sledding in Clark Park later that year.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE RESPONSE IN PHILADELPHIA TO YOUR PROJECTS..?? AND WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS OF THAT RESPONSE? Very positive, which I'm immensely grateful for. I've done two plays now, Rails and Water Bears, and have received nothing but glowing praise from critics (City Paper, Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Mag), friends, and audience members alike. We got some great write ups for Water Bears, and a decent amount of pre-show press, which I hope can bolster our efforts to secure funding in the future. I'm just pleased as punch that I'm able to create things that bring people joy and entertainment.

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE PEOPLE TO TAKE AWAY FROM WATER BEARS IN SPACE? Well there are a lot of strange and interesting ideas in the script that I hope people were able to pick up on and think about. The idea of madness being accepted in the scientific community was very interesting to me. I read some articles about Amy Bishop and how several of her colleagues had always thought she had always been somewhat mad, but they just brushed it aside because she was a "genius" and aren't all genius's supposed to be a little crazy? I think we have that feeling towards artists too, that great artists are allowed a little insanity, because ARE MICROSCOPIC, WATER- HOW IMPORTANT that's what it takes to DWELLING, SEGMENTED ANIMALS WITH EIGHT LEGS. WAS IT FOR YOU be a genius! And so THE NAME WATER BEAR TO BE A PART OF people can start to COMES FROM THE WAY THEY rationalize their own WALK, REMINISCENT OF A THE FRINGE FEST terrible behavior BEAR'S GAIT. THIS YEAR? because it's somewhat accepted in the I've done two Fringe community. I always Festivals now, 2009 and try to include little 2011. It really is a wonderful time to be an easter eggs in my shows to give you artist...everyone is making and devouring something to find out the second time performance art at a staggering pace, and it's around (In Rails I hid an entire Pablo a great way to introduce yourself to other Neruda poem), and there are a lot of other artists and their works. I felt really aloof themes and ideas littered throughout the from the festival last year, even though I play, but what you take away from it is your knew a lot of people doing things for it, so it own...if people just came away entertained by a fantastical adventure story about some was wonderful to be back in it this year. In the end, that's really why I like doing the little animals, I'm totally happy. fringe festival - not because of the structure and publicity the actual organization WHY WATER BEARS??? provides, but more for the sense of community that the other participants I first learned about water bears back in provide. 2008, and was instantly fascinated with them. An animal that can survive virtually ...AND WHAT'S NEXT FOR anything, an animal that can turn off all CANDRA KENNEDY? bodily functions, including metabolism, and then come back to life? And not only are they hardy, but they're also just so weird. I I'm working on a new script that's really a bit of fan art. Our musical director for suppose all microscopic life is pretty Water Bears co-wrote an album a few years fascinating...whole worlds, with jungles, ago that has a really fun back story, and I'm oceans, wars, famine, predators and prey exist at the microscopic level. One write up working on adapting it in to a theatrical about a tardigrade that I read described the piece. Whether or not it will actually fly remains to be seen, but I'm really excited Milnesium species as "attacking their prey about it, and hope to have it ready by next like a miniature t-rex". It's weird to think year! In the meantime, I'm hoping I can about tiny animals acting like T-Rex's but stage Reservoir Dogs, and hopefully take on they have their own strange little kingdom a few more projects that have been down there, just as fascinating as our big percolating among my friends and I. one.

WATERBEARS