fortnightly student magazine
volume 16 â€” issue 11
MN museum of american art
state of the parties
psychotronic nightmare becomes reality
how do i know iâ€™m not a seagull?
the road less studied abroad
VOLUME 16, ISSUE 11 equity in the cities
MN museum of american art
state of the parties
the american identity
mount eerie review
waves of opportunity at the MOI
psychotronic nightmare becomes reality
how do i know i’m not a seagull?
©2017 The Wake Student Magazine. All Rights Reserved. Established in 2002, The Wake is a fortnightly independent magazine and registered student organization produced by and for students at the University of Minnesota. The Wake was founded by Chrin Ruen & James DeLong. Disclaimer: The purpose of The Wake is to provide a forum in which students can voice their opinions. Opinions expressed in the magazine are not representative of the publication or university as a whole. To join the conversation email firstname.lastname@example.org.
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
the road less studied abroad
It’s been three and a half years since I first sat in a meeting for a random magazine called “The Wake.” I picked up an article on what the characters of “Breaking Bad” were up to after the show was over, and I never stopped writing. Somehow I’ve taken the ride from freelancer to copy editor to Cities editor to Editor-in-Chief, and I’ve had a blast running everything on the editorial side this year. I’ve learned so much about the career of journalism and how a team can come together to create an awesome magazine, and I haven’t for a second regretted joining The Wake’s team. Next year The Wake will be going through some significant changes, shifting to an art-centric magazine, but we’ll stick to our roots in being a voice for all students on the University of Minnesota campus. If you’re interested in starting your own journey at The Wake, we’re currently offering job applications for the 201718 school year at http://www.wakemag.org/jobs-volunteer. Alex Van Abbema Editor-in-Chief
The Wake Student Magazine 126 Coffman Memorial Union 300 Washington Avenue SE Minneapolis, MN 55455
Alex Van Abbema
Amanda Feddema, Carter Blochwitz
Sound & Vision Editors
Illustrators Cameron Smith, Jasmine Wu, Jaye Ahn, Katie Heywood, Nora Peterson, Ruby Guthrie, Sophia Mazullo, Sophie Stevens, Taylor Daniels
Ben Halom, Carter Blochwitz, Chris Shea, Claudia Althoen,
Cody Perakslis, Emma Dill, Eric Newland, Isabella Murray,
Editorial Interns Carter Blochwitz, Chris Shea, Gabby Granada, Isabella Murray, Jacob Steinberg, Kate Drakulic, Liv Martin, Max Roberts, Sammy Brown, Simon Batisch
Julia Holmes Production Interns Brooke Herbert, Darby Ottoson, Grace Steward, Olivia Rezac, Rakshit Kalra, Sophie Stephens Art & Design Interns Cameron Smith, Katie Heywood, Mariah Crabb, Megan Smith, Sophie Stephens, Stevie Lacher, Xavier Wang
Jacob Steinberg, Karl Witkowiak, Kate Drakulic, Lianna Matt, Liv Martin, Liv Riggins, Max Roberts, Sam Batistich, Sammy Brown, Tony Burton
T H E WA K E
Equity in the Cities Mayor, City Council approves Minneapolis Transgender Equity Council BY CARTER BLOCHWITZ On Feb. 16, Minneapolis became the first major city in the country to establish an official advisory committee on matters concerning the transgender community. The City Council resolution, authored by Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, was approved unanimously and passed mayoral review. Glidden’s resolution calls for a 15-member Transgender Equity Council, which will focus on conducting research on topics such as policy, courses of action, and programs that will protect and empower one of the most vulnerable groups in the cities.
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Aside from being the first officially recognized LGBT advisory committee in the Twin Cities, the Equity Council is also the first of its kind nationwide. Minneapolis has been at the forefront of the battle for transgender and non-gender conforming residents rights since 1975, when the city was the first in the county to create an ordinance that explicitly prevented discrimination against all members of the LGBT community. Although it was a step in the right direction, major disparities remained and, to this day, are still prevalent in health services, employment, and access to public spaces. In 2014, the city of Minneapolis Transgender Issues Work Group was established, made up of members from many different city departments and offices. The informal group sought to tackle transgender disparities once more by engaging a broader community, suggesting policy alterations to the city, and it continues to operate today. In addition to the work group, a Trans Equity Summit has been held annually, which accents which issues would be addressed each year. “We have had great engagement and influence from transgender community members at the summit,” Glidden said. “Community members wanting to form a relationship with the city on policy and other issues is what drove interest in the council.”
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Last year, the primary focus of the Trans Equity Summit was geared toward the preparation and promotion of trans-inclusive employers and equitable workplace policies. These areas are slated to be some of the focuses of the Equity Council, though Glidden stressed that the new format will allow them to tackle many issues at the same time. On a national level, transgender issues have begun to pick up increasing mainstream attention with the formation of new branches within large groups such as the Human Rights Campaign’s Parents for Transgender Equality and ongoing efforts made by the National Center for Transgender Equality. Glidden hopes that this interest would continue to grow inside and outside of the transgender community as the city becomes more “mature and sophisticated with [its] commitment” to addressing transgender rights and disparities, she told the Star Tribune in an interview. The announcement of the council came as Andrea Jenkins and Phillipe Cunningham—two openly transgender candidates—are running for City Council in Ward 8 and 4 respectively. “The creation of this committee demonstrates the city of Minneapolis’ commitment to support and uplift the transgender community by bringing us to the table,”
Cunningham said in a Feb. 8 Committee of the Whole meeting. Both Jenkins and Cunningham have expressed their support for the new Equity Council, Cunningham calling it “truly groundbreaking.” Despite the undisputed creation of the council and two transgender candidates in the race for City Council, members of the LGBT community are nervous that a newly elected City Council may threaten to undo their recent victory. To quell these fears, Glidden stressed that the Equity Council will remain in the city until there is a formal action to take it away—something she says “would be incredibly difficult to accomplish.” Once the council is fully seated by the middle of this year, members will establish goals and a work plan, biennially reporting their research and recommendations to the City Council’s Committee of the Whole. The council will maintain regular contact and input from the transgender community through the Work Group, as well as other Minneapolis organizations such as OutFront Minnesota. “The council has an opportunity to really influence the city’s work on transgender disparities,” said Glidden. “To make a significant impact will require many stakeholders working together— the council can help produce the momentum for those stakeholders to focus on particular issues.” Of the council’s 15 members, eight will be appointed from the community, while others will be appointed by the Park Board, Hennepin County, and Minneapolis Public Schools. As of late March, applications for the Equity Council closed and the election process began for members, who will serve two-year terms. Meetings of the Minneapolis Transgender Equity Council will occur monthly and be open to the public.
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Minnesota Museum of American Art Space, collection, engagement BY KATE DRAKULIC “We ask what it means to be American, and then we complicate that through conversation and inviting myriad experiences to exist simultaneously,” said Courtney Gerber, curator of Learning and Engagement at the Minnesota Museum of American Art. Located in the Historic Endicott building, a short two blocks from Union Depot Station in downtown Saint Paul, the Minnesota Museum of American Art, or less formally, “The M,” showcases a variety of American artists of the 19th century to the present. The M first began as the St. Paul School of Fine Arts in 1894. “School” has been attached to the name for many years, but as the M has bounced around different Saint Paul locations, its name has changed to “Saint Paul Art Center” and “Minnesota Museum of Art,” finally adding “American” to the name in 1992. In the gallery’s work to reflect both the national and regional art, and the way in which the American experience fluctuates and varies from person to person, the M has come to acquire more than 4,500 pieces of fine art, fine craft, ceramics and textiles in its collection.
In an effort to bring diverse and relevant issues into discussion, the M has recently launched a series of “listening sessions,” where it encourages the community to participate in conversations about the importance and relevance of art and where there is room for improvement. In these sessions participants discuss barriers to accessing the arts and how it can be addressed in the community. “We’re going out into the world and we’re listening,” says Gerber. “We want to know what is needed from both our immediate neighbors and those outstate.” Gerber and her associates constantly consistently consider how to represent Minnesota.
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Currently, the M hosts Ken Gonzales-Day’s “Shadowland,” a collection of Gonzales-Day’s work that was inspired by and explores the construction of race and racialized violence in the United States. A large portion of the exhibit contains the result of years and years of in-depth research of lynchings and police brutality that took place in California during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
is to invite people to see themselves reflected in American art, and that’s a big mission,” noted Gerber. “American identity is complex and there’s not just one version, it’s about multiplicity and it’s about intersection.” Through engagement and conversations such as Listening Sessions, the M’s staff thinks through the most sustainable ways to maintain community relationships and incorporate feedback into their work. The M is free to the public and open Thursday through Sunday. Shadowlands will be on display until April 16. Upcoming events at the Museum include a Listening Session in Rochester the 22nd, in Saint Paul on May 13, and CreatorKids and Honors Visual Art Exhibition, which will feature work from students of St. Paul Public Schools on April 27. More information can be found on the M’s website, https://mmaa.org.
From past to present, Gonzales-Day considers these historical factors in the representation of his more modern-day pieces, which are also featured in the exhibit. Overall, his work includes powerful photographs, both black and white and in color. In taking on an extremely difficult and heavy subject matter, that of racially provoked violence and trauma, Gonzales-Day’s pieces are careful and considerate, especially given contemporary social and political occurrences. The mission, vision and values of the M additionally guide the way in which it presents itself as an institution and as a community collaborator. “Our mission, paraphrased,
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In her position, Gerber is deeply involved in the M’s educational aspects. “I think about using art as a vehicle for learning and engaging with one’s surroundings, whether that be one’s neighborhood, city, or state—a very personal engagement or group engagement,” she said. Gerber works with a variety of artists and organizations to arrange interdisciplinary programs, classes, community events, and even traveling exhibitions around the Midwest, with the help of Christopher Atkins, curator of exhibitions.
In terms of exhibitions, the M is relatively small, currently only showing one exhibition. Past exhibits have differed from being entirely collection based to entirely individual artist based, to a combination of collection pieces and pieces from multiple artists. The M prides itself in its work and relationships with local artists, and it always turns to them first before looking for art and artists across the country. “We have such a great community of creators and thinkers,” said Gerber. The M attempts to explore national issues within a more local context in this way.
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T H E WA K E
SPRING JAM 2017:
Creating the “Festival Experience” This year’s changes planned to attract upperclassmen
BY EMMA DILL
Although Spring Jam celebrates the end of a school year, plans for the event begin long before most students set foot on campus. Last July, the five Spring Jam student coordinators first formally discussed Spring Jam 2017, and they’re planning on making some experimental changes. They’re hoping that beer gardens and free pancakes will spice up the festival. A new group of students from the Student Unions and Activities Program Board plans Spring Jam each year. They serve their one-year terms beginning in the spring before the event. This schedule allows them to work with the previous year’s outgoing board members to understand the necessary scope of planning. This year’s board includes Bryce Thompson, Claire Koory, Eliot Goedeken, Leila Aboujouda, and Matthew Bork. Each student coordinates specific aspects of Spring Jam from volunteer coordination to social media and experiential marketing. Members also consult with faculty advisors who provide insight about past Spring Jam decisions.
One way Spring Jam 2017 will emulate the increasingly popular music festival is by introducing a beer garden. Although alcohol has never been served before, the addition aims to draw upperclassmen and graduate or professional students to Spring Jam and to enhance its “festival feel.” The beer garden will, according to student coordinator Aboudouja, show “the University community that students can safely consume alcohol.” Although the most challenging change to implement, a beer garden will offer a new experiential layer to Spring Jam. To further heighten the “festival vibe” the board will add a fourth carnival ride, shorten the event, and offer fair food instead of food trucks. Spring Jam festivities will actually start on the Friday before with Student Jam, a rebranded version of last year’s Spring Jam Warmup. Like Spring Jam Warmup, Student Jam will begin with a student group social that includes a diverse range of over 20 student groups. Interactive activities like giant bubble blowing, lawn games, and free food samples will accompany the groups’ booths. Student Jam will conclude with the final round Battle of the Bands competition. However, last year’s Spring Jam Warmup, the usual noon concert, will be replaced by Pancake Jam, where students will be treated to a free pancake lunch. Foregoing the midday concert makes Student Jam more accessible to students and saves on money that the board decided to use to attract a high profile headlining artist.
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The board’s early discussions, which were guided by student feedback, prompted event changes that aim to provide students with a “festival experience” and draw upperclassmen.
Despite the board’s early start, headliners enter their conversation only after Homecoming. When choosing the Spring Jam lineup, members consider several factors. Student feedback is considered first and foremost, Aboujouda said in an email. “Spring Jam is planned by students for students,” she said. The board also considers which artists have previously performed on campus, are trending in the media or on Spotify, as well as the artists’ public images. Practical concerns, like pricing and availability, are also considered. Members pitch their artist picks, decide how many should perform, and, ultimately, make final lineup decisions. Spring Jam 2017 headliners include A$AP Ferg, Jon Bellion, Robert DeLong, and Bad Bad Hats. However, artists sometimes fall through due to issues of availability or budget, so the board must also decide upon alternatives. Each aspect of Spring Jam requires extensive planning, but artist selection is the most challenging because finding replacements can threaten the board’s tight timeline. Waiting for University approval for event changes, like this year’s beer garden and new ride, also challenges the board’s schedule as
the approvals require time and are not always granted. After finalizing artist selection, the board shifts its discussion to the details of Spring Jam’s other attractions, such as the event’s food vendors, carnival rides, and everything else. The board focuses on different aspects throughout the fall and winter to make its goals and rough early sketches become a reality. Now, Spring Jam’s student coordinators anxiously await their plans’ coming to fruition with this year’s heightened “festival feel” and student focus. Like any good music festival, Spring Jam 2017 promises something for everyone, from its free pancakes and carnival rides to its live bands and beer garden. The board encourages everyone to experience what Spring Jam and Student Jam have to offer. Student Jam will be held on Friday, April 21 at Coffman Memorial Union. Spring Jam will take place on Saturday, April 22 behind Ridder Arena. Tickets are $25 for students and $40 for the general public and can be purchased at Coffman Union or the St. Paul Student Center from April 17-21.
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Absorbed in Thought U of M Sponge research to expand to other pollutants BY CODY PERAKSLIS Scientific and environmental communities are abuzz about the product of two years of research: a red sponge. At the Biosensors and Bio-nanotechnology Laboratory of the University of Minnesota, Dr. Abdennour Abbas’ division has discovered a better way to remove mercury from water. After this success, the team is beginning to look for more ways this deceptively simple concept can soak up other pollutants from our water. The sponge improves the existing systems to reduce mercury levels. Existing systems require the water to be within a certain pH, which the sponge does not. “The already available technologies like activated carbon,” said graduate student researcher Snober Ahmed, “are not efficient at capturing lower amounts of mercury.” This allows low levels of mercury to build-up to toxic levels with old systems. The sponge has no such issues.
The project all started with a small idea that was able to pick up financial support from the University. Indeed, “Once we have an idea,” said John Brockgreitens, another graduate student researcher on the team, “we go back to our advisor, our advisor goes back to the University and different funding agencies,” such as MnDrive for this project. The sponge can serve both local community waterways and companies that must clean waste products by regulation.
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“We didn’t know when we started that it was going to be so expansive,” said Ahmed. The sponge method can hopefully clean more than just mercury. “We want to target specifically lead, cadmium, phosphate, nitrate, and a whole range of waterborne pollutants,” said Brockgreitens. The mercury research already has a published paper of the results, and the team is excited to explore all of the different avenues for further research.
Special Snowflake Tries to Get Educated: “Dear God, I Can’t Take this Anymore” What I learned from a week of Breitbart News BY JACOB STEINBERG Breitbart News: the propagandistic hellscape previously headed by White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, who declared it “the platform for the alt-right,” and which unleashed right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos onto the world. Over the course of 2016, Breitbart went from being the United States’ 1,000th most active internet destination to the 42nd, with many of its readers getting almost all their news solely from Breitbart. Its content has frequently been called misogynist, xenophobic, and racist, but the boldness with which Breitbart bends the truth puts it in a league right up there with, well, the president. To find out what it’s like living in the alt-right bubble, I went on a four-day, Breitbart-only media diet. I was shooting for a week, but being limited to such nakedly biased news for that long proved to be grating enough on my psyche.
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Mercury is hazardous because, “When it goes inside the body, it interacts with selenium containing proteins and makes those proteins inactive,” Ahmed explained. So, the team thought, why not use the selenium binding to protect instead of destroy? The team grows selenium nanoparticles inside the sponge, then water filters through, and the sponge absorbs the mercury, making the final product safe for landfilling.
On Tuesday, the biggest piece of news was Donald Trump’s rollback of Obama’s Clean Power Plan, a move that is poised to put a halt on America’s efforts to limit carbon emissions and keep us on a dangerous track toward catastrophic climate change. You wouldn’t know that if you only read Breitbart, however, as its coverage of the executive order neglected to mention climate change even once. On Wednesday, I got to enjoy an op-ed by Ann Coulter about the evils of Obamacare. It was around this time that I started to break the internet’s number one rule: I read the comments section. Predictably, the most simplistic and reactionary comments rose to the top of the heap. “REPEAL Odildocare !” voiced one concerned commenter. A special note on Breitbart’s headlines: They read like rejected alt-right Clickhole pieces. My personal favorite was the attention-grabbing hook on the main page: “Tough Guy ¡Jeb! to Trump: ‘Stop Saying Things That Aren’t True.’” On Friday, nearing the end of this sordid affair, I was surprised to see an article about ideological bubbles and exposure to alternative viewpoints. I thought this was surely an early April Fools’ joke. This must be a sign of hope, I thought, that nuance and intelligent discourse weren’t dead to the alt-right. Then I looked at the comments. “I don’t trust or respect anybody that was stupid enough to vote for Hillary,” said one of the highest-rated comments. “You got that right,” read a top reply. “Their minds are obviously gone.”
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T H E WA K E
STATE OF THE PARTIES How have Democrats and Republicans been doing since November? BY CHRIS SHEA
The GOP: A House Divided
ART BY R U BY G U T H R I E
The Republican Party’s signature promise to voters collapsed in dramatic fashion as its legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare, became nothing more than a failed campaign promise. The party with unified control proved to be a party divided. Starting in 2009, the GOP promised to kill the ACA, making “repeal and replace” the party’s unofficial mantra as they took back control of the House in 2010. With its majority, the GOP voted 50 times to repeal the ACA during the Obama administration, but when the repeal stood a chance of passing, Republicans couldn’t stand together. The reason for this? Conflicting conservative ideologies. The most conservative members felt that the GOP’s health care bill did not go far enough, while some of the moderate members felt that the bill offered too many concessions to win over those on the far right. The main group getting the blame for this from President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan is the Freedom Caucus, a group of around 40 right-wing conservatives that formed in 2015. They insisted that the GOP’s bill should get rid of an ACA requirement that insurers cover health benefits such as maternity leave and mental-health care. This is a familiar complaint conservatives have had since the GOP gained control of the House in 2010. The group was even responsible for the removal of John Boehner as house speaker. The White House is now considering working with Democrats to try and push its agenda before it does anything with the Freedom Caucus. The debacle surrounding the GOP’s health care plan hurts the president the most. Trump touted himself as this great dealmaker, but ultimately fell short when it mattered most.
The Democrats: Restructuring in progress The election was a disaster for Democrats; there is no doubt about that. Not only did they lose the presidency, but also narrowly failed to retake the Senate, gained very few seats in the House, and their losses in state legislatures piled up. So what changes have the Democrats made since November? The biggest change Democrats have made is at the top: the chair of the Democratic National Committee. Following the DNC email leak, which seemed to show that DNC leaders favored Hillary Clinton in the primary election, then-DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned and Donna Brazile became the interim chair. Brazile then announced that she would not run for a full term. With no president to appoint a chair, this became the first contested DNC chair race since 1985. This contested race reminded many of the primaries between Clinton and Bernie Sanders, especially between the two frontrunners of the race: former Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota’s 5th congressional district. Why the comparisons? Ellison was backed by Sanders and was seen as the more progressive choice to be the new face of the DNC, while Perez was the more establishment figure, much like Clinton. Perez ultimately won the race, dealing a blow to the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, with many warning that by picking Perez, the DNC was alienating a “growing resistance” that organized against President Trump. The Democrats seemed to learn from their mistakes; after Perez won the race, he gave Ellison the role of deputy party chair. Yes, it was mostly a symbolic gesture, but it showed a step toward party unity, something the Democrats sorely need after their losses in 2016.
Healthcare isn’t the only thing that the GOP has been divided on. Republicans are deeply divided when it comes to trade policy, something that Trump prioritized greatly during his campaign. It will be interesting to see if Republicans can get together to pass a trade policy.
The next stage for Perez is to restructure the DNC. The first step in doing so was to ask all of the committee’s staffers to submit their resignations. This is no surprise—the party had already been reducing its staff size. The overhaul should be good for progressive members of the Democratic Party who very much want to move past the DNC’s actions during the election.
Overall, Republicans will need to regroup and come together, especially if they want to maintain their majority come 2018. Midterms are often reflective on how the president and his party are doing, and so far, they are not doing much.
The Democrats have taken their first steps toward reformation, but there is still work to be done. If Democrats want any chance of retaking any majorities in the 2018 midterm elections, they must continue in the direction of unity.
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Remake a Film Out of You
Is Disney going too far with live-action adaptations?
BY KARL WITKOWIAK With the recent success of live-action adaptations of their previous works—such as “Cinderella,” “The Jungle Book,” and “Beauty and the Beast”—Disney is just getting started with its newest film trend of adapting its animated films into live-action movies. “Mulan,” “The Lion King,” “Aladdin,” and “Peter Pan” are but four of the 21 live-action adaptations set to film in the next couple of years. Considering how successful the past adaptations were, it’s no surprise Disney is going about this new series of films. In short, they sell hard. However, is there any sort of artistic merit in remaking these animated classics?
“Who would remember the “Mulan” remake when compared to the original, animated movie with charming characters, memorable songs, and gorgeous animation?”
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Disney is not a company to let a marketable idea, or a chance to franchise a group of films, slip by it so easily (look at the Marvel or Star Wars cinematic universes). However, these live-action adaptations do not seem to be the perfect films to capitalize on. At least Marvel and Star Wars movies offer enough creativity and world building to be marketable and beloved by millions of moviegoers. The live-action adaptations, meanwhile, are neither loved nor hated, but seem to stick in the horrid middle ground of being digestible and agreeable, but also forgettable. Also, with 21 of these movies planned in the near future, they may quickly go into the cash-grab movie mold much in the same way as the slew of direct-to-DVD Disney sequels. To be fair, they may not turn out as bad as some of those sequels, but
they have just as much soullessness. Disney prides itself on heartfelt, joyful, and original movies that transcend time to become classics. Even today, Disney is still on a roll with movies like “Frozen,” “Zootopia,” and “Moana” that are beloved, and guaranteed to become Disney classics. The creative spark behind the company is still going. If these live-action adaptations are enough to keep the money ball rolling, then so be it. But with Disney pumping out to-be classic movies, the need to recreate its previous films seems a little redundant at this point. Sorry Disney, but I’ll stick with the classics for now.
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Being honest, the artistic merit of these live-action adaptations is minimal at best. Sometimes remakes are necessary in order to update a dated piece of media, but it often comes at the cost of originality. This was evident in the Beauty and the Beast adaptation, which, aside from minor changes, follows the original source material to a T. While the remake has received mixed to positive reactions from critics and audiences, it doesn’t hold a candle to the original source material, which is still beloved by people old and young, and is still regarded as a classic. There are a couple of exceptions of course. “Pete’s Dragon” was a pretty forgettable movie from Disney’s early days, so a remake with updated technology is rather welcome. The same could go for lesser-known Disney movies such as “The Sword and the Stone” or “James and the Giant Peach,” both of which are getting the remake treatment. However, most of these other pitched adaptations could easily fall into obscurity after the initial success. Who would remember the “Mulan” remake when compared to the original, animated movie with charming characters, memorable songs, and gorgeous animation? Same goes for “The Lion King” or “Dumbo.”
That’s not to say all of these live-action adaptations are unoriginal. Some of these will take newer spins on Disney classics or focus on beloved characters from the films, such as a film centered on Peter Pan’s fairy companion, Tinkerbell. Possibly the most interesting of these is a Winnie the Pooh movie centered on a grown-up Christopher Robin returning to the Hundred Acre Wood, a concept guaranteed to pull at heart strings. However, some of these films run up to the line of being questionable. I love Robin Williams’ Genie from “Aladdin” as much as the next guy, but he worked much better as a supporting character than he would as the main protagonist. Yet, there are talks of an “Aladdin” prequel called Genies focusing on the Genie’s backstory. That’s not even mentioning other oddball films, such as one based on Snow White’s sister, Rose Red and another based on….Chernabog? The demon from the Night on Bald Mountain segment from “Fantasia”? Really? On one hand, these spinoffs do offer some creativity and expansion on the mythos of the previous films; however, some of these films seem like massive stretches.
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T H E WA K E
THE AMERICAN IDENTITY What it is and why we shouldn’t fight for it BY BEN HALOM
As we head deeper into Trump’s tenure as president, those in opposition to him, from the Democratic party to the ACLU, have decried nearly every action he takes as an assault on American values of openness, toleration, and decency. In response, conservatives have argued that Trump is actually standing up for American values by placing Americans first and restoring respect for Christianity and European culture. This disagreement has led to media speculation as to the cause of this cultural divide, with articles like this one from The Washington Post describing, “The astounding political divide over what it means to be ‘American.’” When placed in historical context, however, this political divide is far from astounding. America has always been divided, and the attempt to create a unified American identity ignores history and damages the cause of progressives. It cedes rhetorical territory to the right by engaging in the language of national chauvinism.
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This is because the right is fundamentally correct about the elements that have historically constituted the American identity since colonial times. In the beginning, to be an American meant to be an Englishman in America. After the Revolution, the new nation defined itself in dual opposition to the tyranny of the old world and to the “primitive” peoples of the new. The American identity was founded upon the culture of the Anglo-American settler, uniting
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the interests of small farmers, Georgian planters, and Boston merchants on the basis of a shared racial, cultural, and religious heritage, in contrast to the “heathen” Indians and slaves. Even those often held up as the founders of American values of tolerance, like Thomas Jefferson or James Madison, saw the American identity as one of race and culture. While espousing principles of liberty and equality, both men owned slaves and pursued policies of Indian removal. They resolved this contradiction by presenting liberty as an “American” characteristic, one that could only be established by participation
“America has always been divided, and the attempt to create a unified American identity ignores history and damages the cause of progressives.” in a specific cultural milieu. Their liberty was that of the white independent farmer, a farmer guaranteed
access to land by the forceful expulsion of native peoples. This liberty fell to the side when it did not apply to them and people like them. The establishment of liberty in this context was very important. The narrative of America as a nation of liberty and tolerance is but another side of the narrative of America as the land of the white Protestant. This sort of thinking, this conflation of liberty and America, enables power to deny the history of the oppressed. Take, for example, the accusations that Trump’s travel ban and immigration policies defy “American values.” To make this claim is, in essence, to deny a history of oppression. Immigration bans are part and parcel of “American values.” Naturalized citizenship was only available to white immigrants until 1870. The Chinese Exclusion Act banned all Chinese immigration from 1882 to 1943. National-origin immigration quotas, which heavily favored Western Europe, were not repealed until 1965. All this means that open access for people of all nations has only even been a part of American values for 50 years. To pretend that the American identity cannot allow such tragedies is to deny the past, to deny the fact that our history is not just a history of progress, but also a history of oppression and the struggle against oppression. It is a history of division. To claim that there is a unified American identity supports the status quo by denying this division, by grouping slaveholders and abolitionists, robber barons and unionists, racists and civil rights leaders into the same supra-historical progressive identity. This stifles possibility for real progress, because this possibility is predicated on understanding that America is not inherently progressive, but rather that change arises from struggle. So let Trump have the American identity. The fight against Trump’s racist, warmongering politics of austerity cannot arise from something within the American spirit, because that spirit doesn’t exist. Rather, the will for this fight arises from a universal, transnational spirit of justice, the conviction that Trump’s program is morally wrong. The inspiration for this spirit of justice can be found in the people a unified idea of America would silence—people like John Brown and Harriet Tubman; people like Eugene Debs and Emma Goldman; people like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Only by understanding our history of struggle, rather than a deluded dream of unity, can we hope to provide a real challenge to the Trump administration.
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And allowing old ones to fade into the background BY TONY BURTON
Can a home be wherever you make it? Or is it a defined place of origin? These questions flooded my mind as I stayed on campus over spring break. Between the Ttarget runs and spontaneous adventures with my friends, I found myself listening to nostalgic music that often filled my high school years, reminding me of my life pre-college. One song that I found myself playing over and over was “Hometown” off of Twenty One Pilots’ album Blurryface. Until recently, the song was just another song. However, it’ sits message on leaving your hometown was eyeopeningeye opening. After leaving for college, the past seemed to fade into the background, or as it is stated in the song: “Our hometown’ s in the dark.” This idea of darkness surrounding my hometown is something I can definitely agree with as an out-of-state student. My hometown is something I miss, but not for the normal reasons. I don’ t miss the black hole that’ s is created through bypersuading people to stay and work there their entire lives. What I miss is the comfort and understanding of the way things are: the predictable traffic before school, the positive relationships with teachers and friends I’ ve known for years, the shortcuts to quickly navigate the hallways, and more things that come with time. Minneapolis has made me fall in love with the city and it’ s people, but it has also been a major reality check for me in terms of what the world is like outside of a small, familiar town. I’ m in love with the city, but I find myself missing the simplicity and understanding of home sometimes. Does this mean I wish to return to my hometown? No. It means that I should strive to recreate the same atmosphere wherever I go by becoming more familiar with wherever I am. For example, I’ ve found quiet roof tops at sunset that remind me of parking lot confessionals back in high school, and hidden places throughout the city where I go to relax and listen to my favorite nostalgic albums from those years of my life. I know that Minneapolis may be overwhelming, but with time, that overwhelming pace can become as comforting and familiar as my hometown, which has now faded into the background.
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“A Crow Looked at Me” A review of Mount Eerie’s new record on death and the lives we live in its wake BY SAM BATISTICH Beside her in their secluded home in Washington State, Phil Elverum lost his wife Geneviève to pancreatic cancer last summer. In the following months, Elverum coped by retreating to his second-floor office. There, he began work on a collection of songs, while learning to live a new life alone with his four-month-old daughter. The result was “A Crow Looked at Me,” a sparse and overwhelmingly melancholic retrospective of his wife’s life and death, and the eighth release of his solo project Mount Eerie. “Death is real.” These are Elverum’s first three words on “A Crow Looked at Me.” Against scant instrumentation with a lone guitar, Elverum spends the next 11 tracks considering this immovable fact and the futility of art’s mission to capture it. “Conceptual emptiness was cool to talk about,” he warbles softly on “Emptiness pt. 2,” “Back before I knew my way around these hospitals.” On “My Chasm,” his chasm is the one she created in dying, one he “doesn’t want to close.” He doesn’t seek redemption or closure. Geneviève is forever gone, and Elverum forever refuses this, as he declares on “Forest Fire,” “You do belong here / I reject nature, I disagree.” “A Crow Looked at Me” is a lo-fi masterpiece; it is conversational yet profound, sparing yet infinite. For 41 minutes, a splinter of Elverum’s reality is shared with us. As we move forward, he lives on without her, with their only daughter, his fading memories, and a lingering pain, impossible to truly share.
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Less popular programs in South Africa and Jordan give students unexpected experiences and vastly different social norms.
BY LIANNA MATT A P R 1 7â€“30
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Of the approximate 2,633 students the Learning Abroad Center (LAC) estimates went abroad at some point in 2016, only a small percent went through to Jordan and South Africa. Think 11 and 22, respectively, compared to the heavy hitters in the European countries. The continuation of a program isn’t only about enrollment levels: While students can get adventure no matter which study abroad program they choose, it’s worth looking past the big three programs of Spain (192 participants from 2016), the United Kingdom (189), and Italy (154)—even in countries that may not seem like the easiest choice at first. South Africa is often a country that students may choose if they want a more unorthodox study abroad but don’t want to worry about a language barrier. Political science junior Emma Dunn, neuroscience and psychology senior Annika Skansberg, and global studies senior Marna Wal were three of six students signed up to go to the University of Cape Town in fall 2016 through the affiliated Arcadia program. Skansberg enjoyed her time in Cape Town so much that she will be returning to complete her master’s degree in public health. However, the country was also under the spotlight in the fall because of the disruption its nationwide student protests caused. Several schools such as Fordham University in New York and Miami University in Coral Gables even canceled their 2017 spring programs, and South Africa’s Times Live reported in November that the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) study abroad program dropped from 650 to 290 applications for the first semester of the 2017-18 year.
The non-violent student protests at UCT were meant to create disorder and shut down the school.
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The student protests were commonplace; before the current movement, #FeesMustFall, #RhodesMustFall had barely left the scene. Wal and Skansberg had done enough research to not be too surprised, but the protests’ disruption of daily life completely surprised Dunn. Although Dunn admitted some more cursory research would have made the protests’ prevalence clear, the information and orientation that the students received before traveling to South Africa only fleetingly mentioned the protests. No one, not even the Arcadia or University of Minnesota staff, had guessed the protesters would succeed in shutting campus down for as long as they did, though. Each morning, Dunn, Skansberg, and Wal would check social media and emails to see if class was canceled. Sometimes they would find out because a protester
would come to the residence halls, take over the loudspeaker, and say the protests were happening outside and students could join. The non-violent student protests at UCT were meant to create disorder and shut down the school. Protesters would block the roads where buses drove; they would go into classrooms and create enough disruption—Dunn recalls a masked protester spraying a fire extinguisher in her class one day—that students and teachers would evacuate. While there were a few protest signs on one of the rare silent protest days, most of the time freedom songs that originated during Apartheid filled the air, their history giving the songs a universal aspect despite the protesters’ different native languages. The three students supported the cause; Dunn even wrote an editorial to the Minnesota Daily. To them, the protests enriched their knowledge and understanding of the people and culture they had spent almost half a year with. However, they never joined a protest. “I didn‘t feel like it was my job to join in, in a way,” Dunn said. “My job was to observe and learn, but this is their story and this was their struggle. I wanted to let that happen but make sure I was paying attention.” After classes were officially cancelled, some South Africans went home to work. Some who stayed fretted about whether they would be able to graduate that semester as planned. Many study abroad students took the time to learn about what was happening and travel—while keeping up with studies, of course. “Cape Town is very international and westernized and modern, and once you step out of that, it’s a different country,” Skansberg said. During one of her extra trips, she visited Coffee Bay Village. It was without running water or electricity, but it was beautiful, and a villager gave her and her friends a tour so they could learn about the way of life there. Throughout it all, the Arcadia staff on and off the UCT campus kept in contact with the students and with the University of Minnesota’s LAC. The South African history class taught through Arcadia kept going despite class cancellations, the 30 or so students instead cramming into their program director’s office. It was a place to discuss what was happening, but the topic was so ubiquitous it was hard to not hear about it.
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T H E WA K E
“I’ve been a part of the Black Lives Matter protests, so this wasn’t the first time I saw people protesting, but it was the first time I saw an issue affecting everybody, and that was really interesting,” Wal said. “All anyone talked about was the protests and stuff. They were either protesting, or they were upset about it; it was the topic of discussion. That’s the difference between there and the U. I don’t know one overarching issue that every single person would be discussing. I guess maybe the election.” Those kinds of discussions wouldn’t have happened in Jordan. Politics, sex, and religion were topics of conversation avoided on the streets of Jordan when Amanda Feddema studied there as a political science junior last spring. Besides the difference in culture and history, Jordan is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy, or as Feddema put it, “a dictatorship.” A Jordanian friend told her that it was because those topics were what rebellions were built on, and Feddema never heard of an alternative reason, official or not. The taboo topics weren’t that noticeable, but one time she, her Jordanian roommate, and a couple of fellow Americans were in a taxi, and questions about the Jordan king started bubbling up. Feddema’s roommate turned and said, “We’ll talk about this at home.” Despite the subtle warning, Feddema kept pushing. In the privacy of homes or on campus, where it was considered more of a free space, the only barrier was the initial discomfort of answering a stranger’s inquiries about your country’s ideology, strengths, and flaws. “On campus we would ask, ‘Do you have problems with secretarial violence, rape?’ ‘Jordan is perfect, no.’ People would eventually open up. It’s a weird thing to ask someone you don’t know, but it kind of helped make friends eventually.” After all, she would get past the small talk and learn about what people really think, what they value.
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Part of the reason she was able to push so much, Feddema admitted, was because of her American privilege, particularly easy to give because of her long, blond hair. According to Feddema, Jordanians would sometimes allow for more public political discussion between her and her friends because, well, that’s just what Americans do. They talk politics. Feddema went over with the affiliated CET study abroad program to increase her Arabic language skills. Jordan offered education in standard Arabic as well as the more used Jordanian dialect (compared to, say, Egyptian Arabic dialect) that translated to countries such as Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria). “There’s so many negative stereotypes about the Middle East and those who speak Arabic in general,” Feddema said. “Learning through an American lens [learning about the culture in the English language], you don’t get to dispel those as much. … Through Arabic it’s hard to explain. The words that are used to describe what you’re learning about aren’t the words you’re learning through English. It’s like you’re a baby again. You learn basic words, learn how to apply them, and learn how to apply them in a different way.” Feddema went to Jordan about a year before the travel warning was enacted. When I mentioned the travel warning to her, she immediately responded by saying one of the main reasons was probably the attack that happened in a large tourist area in December. A shootout occurred in the same area, near the tourist site Karak, a few days later, according to the Dept. of State. It is one of three specific events listed on the travel warning. While her experience by no means belittles the severity of the travel warning, it gives a glimpse of what studying abroad in Jordan could be like past the screaming headlines of newspapers and the haze of association with which people sometimes approach all countries of the Middle East.
It was the ﬁrst time I saw an issue aﬀecting everybody, and that was really interesting.
Jordan is one of three possible countries University of Minnesota students can travel to if they want to study Arabic. However, students wanting to study abroad there next year might not realize it’s available: The programs have been completely erased from the LAC’s website. University policy mandated it after the U.S. Department of State placed a travel warning on the country on Dec. 23, 2016. Students can still apply to the affiliate Jordan programs through CET and CIEE if they fill out a special petition. The trick is knowing that. “We’re always reaching the balance,” said Martha Johnson, the assistant dean at the LAC. “Ours are some of the more open and supportive [program] policies you find at any university. We’re committed to keeping as many opportunities as we can and to always balance that with student safety.” A tumultuous semester and a travel warning aren’t reasons to pick a study abroad program. But they don’t necessarily mean people should automatically write off countries like South Africa and Jordan as study abroad options. You would be surprised by what moments of history you witness and what little things change your perspective.
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Q & A
ALL IN THE
GAME The Wake: You’ve just returned from touring in Austin during South by Southwest, visiting Oakland and LA, meeting Pep from Salt N Peppa, spending some time with a man from NASA’s jet propulsion lab, and getting your laptop stolen. What else can you say about this journey? Excel: In Austin it was very exciting, met a lot of really cool people, actually pulled up on Method Man and he was smokin’ a blunt right outside of Wells Fargo. So we pulled up next to him and we had the blunt rolled, we were asking him if he wanted to smoke, but he had the headphones in, he was trying to hang low-key. We respect that so we just gave him the nod real quick, peace-up, roll out real quick. From what I understand you used to tour in Japan as well. Was that a connection you made state-side, or do you have fans over there? E: I was actually in the Marine Corps. So I served in the Marine Corps for about three and a half years, and during that time I connected with a cat Max Fisher, who was an aspiring artist as well. We put together an album called “The Message” with a producer out of Europe, and with that we were able to break through in the Japanese underground. My homie DJ Skeezy, who I actually connected with in Austin, is a DJ out of Detroit, if I’m not mistaken. He connected us with some good opportunities for advertising, so we got our stuff up on billboards and a few other things while we were down there, some radio ads and stuff like that, so we got some pretty decent recognition within the JapaneseAmerican culture that was infused. Then we found out later that there was a whole other existing culture below the surface that we had never imagined or seen, so we ended up playing a lot of those shows with people who didn’t speak English, who really weren’t out looking for American culture, and it was a beautiful thing. I could have somebody sitting in front of me for a half hour watching me rap, and go through a whole set and then go to talk with them after, and they
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The Wake met up with Excel in the grungy, pulsating parlor that is Hard Times Café. Cultivated coffees in hand, we took a moment to discuss tours past and present, hip-hop inspired nonprofits, lyrics from his latest album “Amethyst,” and his upcoming project with fellow rapper Black Mag!ck.
don’t speak any English, and I’ve connected with them this whole time. I’ve shared my emotions with them and I’ve seen them react in a way that I thought they were understanding every single word I was saying, and I appreciate how it gave me the opportunity to develop showmanship and be able to develop an eye for genuine connection with your fans, and the people who are watching you, prospective fans, and being able to build those relationships on a basis deeper than just speaking to them. It was very deep energy. In your song “Drinking Again,” you rap, “My exwife got to know that whole community. Maybe she’s got a new man, maybe she’s topping three. Man I’m stressing again, I’ll pop two of these.” How do you find that balance between being realistic, while trying to promote things you know are better for yourself and those listening? E: I’ve always tried to be very honest, very upfront, and very real with my music. And I’m not going to sugar coat anything just to be able to fit what may be ideal. What I’ve always seen hip-hop as is a vehicle for supporting a lens, or a window into what’s actually going on. If you want to change the lyrics, so to speak, or... when different people talk about “Why don’t they rap about this or or why didn’t you rap that.” To change
the lyrics, you need to change the conditions, you know what I mean? So when sharing the perspective that I had seen a lot within the military, there’s a lot of irrational bases, there’s a lot of jealousy and worrying, sometimes justified, sometimes not; often not. So that’s usually a very general consensus when you’re overseas, is like a lot of people are struggling within relationships either due to infidelity, or believing that there may be infidelity because of how complicated and stressful it can be on both sides. And just seeing the way it wears down on people and the epidemic of prescription drugs and opiates in this country, obviously drawing a little tie into that as well. You said that you were a former member of the Zulu Nation, an organization that is very well-known but not often understood. What was your involvement with them, and why have you since left? E: I was with the Zulu Nation for about a year with the chapter here that had become active again. When I
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Q & A
“I mean we got this eternal war going on inside of us at all times and I think that’s huge to be able to represent, stay true to yourself.”
P H OTO S C O U RT ESY O F E XC E L
first looked into it, it had been inactive and was being held down by my brother Stepchild, and I became involved just because of the lineage and all of the history, and everything that they have done, and a little bit of insight to that is getting back to the Stop The Violence Movement. Afrika Bambaataa’s history within hip-hop was hands-down one of the most influential and powerful things I had seen, and one of the reasons why I don’t idolize people is because of how much I looked into that, and being like whoa this is incredible, being able to follow this lineage and see everything positive that’s been done over the years. And then the reason why I left Zulu Nation was, again, because of Afrika Bambaataa and his alleged 40 years of childhood molestation, and everything that follows with that. And I say “alleged” very lightly because I am very sincere in my belief that he has been found guilty by a trial of his peers within the Zulu Nation. And what really struck me was not so much the fact that this man was stuck with whatever mental issues led him to this, because he was molested as a child as well, and these are the types of issues we need to be able to tackle and address early. The fact of the matter was that nobody in his circle had brought this to light or done anything about it, and when it came down to it I think that that was the biggest thing was that his circle that had protected him for so many years were still there, were still in power, and weren’t being sanctioned. And of course I considered them just as guilty as he was, if not more guilty in many ways. So that’s why I left. My functions within the Zulu Nation were very miniscule in the sense that we were still organizing, still building, and still pulling everything
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together. A lot of that transferred over to the Universal Movement for the Advancement of Hip Hop. A lot of people from the Universal Zulu Nation Omega Chapter, the Twin Cities Chapter here, basically carried our work over to UMAHH and we wanted to create something new, something dare I say, like, pure, in the sense that we were the people. There’s nobody over the top that we don’t know, we can’t trust, who we don’t see collecting our money and what not. It was very sincere in that we all know what we’re doing, we all know what we’re trying to do. So it was a bit of a setback having to reorganize and create a brand new organization with new goals, new intentions, but still being able to follow through with the same people; but that’s where we are today and that’s what we’re working with. So I thank Zulu Nation for allowing us the opportunity to come together in the way we have and teaching us so much through the experiences we had with Omega Zulu, and now it’s just time for a new thing, and that’s UMAHH.
Unfortunately this K-Pop is now blaring over our conversation, but we’ll continue. Shout-outs are a bit of a lost concept in hip-hop today, which kind of bums me out. You used to get those minute long, twominute long shout-outs at the end of a song for all your homies. Who deserves a shout-out from you? E: My homie Black Mag!ck, chillin’ right over there. AKA Count Blackula. We just started a project called the Arch Nemesis Project, so that’s Count Blackula and myself, Khemistro, on that joint. So this is basically our evil forms, you know what I’m saying? So we could say a lot of the things that we mean to say from that perspective and still be true to ourselves. Regardless, I think everybody has that good-bad, heaven-hell, you know, good-evil, whatever. The Wake: Freedom or jail, as Pac would say. E: Exactly, I mean we got this eternal war going on inside of us at all times and I think that’s huge to be able to represent, stay true to yourself.When anyone asks what sort of genre we are we always just say Twin Cities rock. It’s very Minnesotan I think. I think your environment has a profound influence on what your music sounds like.
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Waves of Opportunity at the MOI Acclaimed authors Kate DiCamillo and Dave Eggers support youth education in the Twin Cities BY CLAUDIA ALTHOEN S O P H I A M A Z U L LO
In a small, intimate reception area at the Illusion Theater located in Minneapolis, people milled around socializing, all there to support the MidContinent Oceanographic Institute (MOI). The MOI is not what you may think it is—it’s not a science lab studying an imaginary ocean in Minnesota—it’s a nonprofit organization for kids ages 6-18 that specializes in after-school tutoring, field trips, and creative writing, including book-making. Kate DiCamillo and Dave Eggers, special guests of the evening, were there on behalf of the MOI. The two authors gathered their own modest crowds during the reception talking about their books, the MOI, and stories from their lives. DiCamillo, a children’s author, has written books such as “The Tiger Rising,” “Because of Winn Dixie,” and “The Tale of Despereaux.” Dave Eggers, a writer, editor, and publisher, has authored several novels, including “The Circle,” “A Hologram for the King,” and “The Heartbreaking Work of a Staggering Genius.” Chad Kampy, executive director for the MOI, said that the name was inspired by Egger’s own organization, 826 National, a nonprofit organization like the MOI. Each of the chapters in 826 National has a creative storefront name, such as the chapter in San Francisco known as “The Pirate Supply Store.” The MOI is looking forward to becoming a chapter in 826 National soon. Board members of the MOI attended the fundraiser, including the Board’s President, Kathy Thomforde. It’s been a fast-paced year for Thomforde so far. She became the president this past December, and finished with the Young Authors program last month in March. “Good things can happen if it’s a good fit,” is how Thomforde sees it. She expressed her enthusiasm for the program, and mentioned the “responsibility for all of us to address the opportunity gap.” The MOI is hoping to double its budget of $200,000 per year to $400,000 by 2020. They are also always looking for volunteers who want to help with a great cause. Stillwater resident Sarah Olson had heard about the MOI from a women’s group she’s in. She brought her son, Finn, as well as his second-grade teacher, because they are fans of DiCamillo’s work. Finn’s teacher reads the Mercy Watson books to his class, and Finn received a book signed by DiCamillo, thanking his teacher for reading aloud to the students. One of Egger’s fans, Noah Rolf, expressed that he
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enjoys reading about “giant existential life crises,” and one of his favorite books is “A Hologram for the King.” Later in the night, Eggers read and showed pictures from his upcoming children’s book “Her Right Foot,” to be released later this year. During the VIP session, the authors spoke candidly about themselves. DiCamillo conversed about the job she had at Disney World during her college years, where she reminded people to watch their step, while wearing an outfit that looked like a “blue polyester spacesuit.” Eggers chatted about how he used to refer to himself as an expert whistler. One day, his friend asked him to go to her home studio to record his whistling. All he had to do was imitate the whistling of the other person who was present. He joked about how it was just three notes, but he couldn’t do it. After the reception, everyone moved into the theater. Throughout the hour-or-so with the authors, the conversation moved between topics of the MOI and their history with writing. There was general surprise from the audience when DiCamillo said she had received 470 rejection letters.
“You can live on the fumes of a good rejection letter for, like a year,” said DiCamillo during the discussion. Eggers mentioned how he hadn’t gotten into reading until much later in his young adult life—it was when he and other students were put in a room for a class with nothing but pillows and books, with no other choice but to read. DiCamillo and Eggers introduced three students from MOI who all presented their creative writing pieces to the audience. A lot of emotions seemed to be running through the kids—nervousness, shyness, excitement. Toward the end, DiCamillo read aloud a story kids from the MOI had put together, and while doing so, Blackout, an African American improv group, acted out the story. The group is based in Minneapolis and does performances related to art access and social justice. DiCamillo and Eggers brought together readers and advocates of all ages, but especially, increased awareness and support for the MOI. Minnesota may not have an ocean, but it has the next best thing: a nonprofit institute nurturing young student’s minds.
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Talking Transience Talk J AYE A H N
Visiting artist Hasan Elahi provides surveillance, technological, and security insight BY ISABELLA MURRAY
Over a decade ago, the United States government mistakenly featured interdisciplinary artist Hasan Elahi on their terrorist watch list. Amid the irony of pinning an artist who examines issues of surveillance, citizenship, borders and frontiers, and migration, undoubtedly a renowned art project came of the experience.
Beginning in 2002, nearly every hour of Elahi’s life is documented. Sporadic appearances of these photos were featured throughout his discussion: copies of every debit card transaction, every toilet he has used, dish he has eaten, bed he has slept in, airport he has traveled through. A GPS device in his pocket reports his real-time physical location on a map.
Standing in front of an overflowing audience in the InFlux auditorium at the Regis Center for Art, “At first the project started as a way of keeping myself Elahi introduced himself to the group on March 30, out of Guantanamo, but I’m maintaining my privacy by as he stood below a giant cherry red arrow pointed putting it out there,” Elahi said. “By putting it out there, at his stature. I’m telling you everything and nothing at the same time.” Seemingly comfortable with his lack of aloofness, Elahi eagerly welcomed those who came to see his visiting artist’s talk by showing everyone a direct pin of where they were, which included pictures of the auditorium and the building, as well as everyone’s altitude, latitudes, and longitudes in the InFlux auditorium. The University welcomed the now assistant professor at the University of Maryland, who came to speak as a guest of the Visiting Artists & Critics program. According to the art department, these talks are meant to “foster a greater understanding and appreciation of contemporary art through dialogue.” While his talk was open to the public, undergraduate and graduate students in the art school had the opportunity to attend workshops and further lectures with Elahi.
This Tracking Transience project lead to a lot of work for Elahi relating to further issues of surveillance, privacy, migration, citizenship, technology, and the challenges of borders. His talk featured 25 years of his work as an artist, most of which was debuted after his most renowned project. These exhibits were commissioned in places like Spain, Germany, and the American Southwest. Heavily influenced by war, circumnavigation, and camouflage, his work incorporates his infamous daily photos that are pixelated or arranged to make up greater structures. When asked about his satiric attitude toward surveillance, Elahi noted that his opinion on privacy was anything but sarcastic. In fact, he takes the notion of privacy very seriously, but he thinks the way to stay safe is by staying transparent.
“I personally prefer this option of hiding in plain sight. I’m Elahi was introduced for his most notable project in not interested in putting a mask on to be in public. I’ll response to being a “person of interest” for the FBI. The let you decide what’s valuable information,” Elahi said, project, called “Tracking Transience,” began after they “Going off grid is not an answer, it actually raises more tracked and interrogated him extensively for years red flags.” thinking that he was a terrorist. After a while, he decided to track himself to make it easy for “his own personal FBI Elahi hopes that his art will inspire others to help agent,” he said. restructure agencies. He thinks the day will come when all of us will be putting so much information out that “My FBI agent realized that I was totally harmless,” Elahi the need for agencies such as the FBI to archive all our said, “but the system simply does not trust itself to let the activity will no longer exist. FBI agent make distinctions on their tips.” “This is totally symbolic on an individual basis,” Elahi said. By acting in compliance, Elahi was truly trying to be “It’s not going to change the FBI, by me doing this, but defiant. “While something like this is going on, you if billions of people do this, it forces the restructuring of basically revert to a very animalistic instinct of survival. the entire intelligence system.” In my case, it meant cooperate,” he said.
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Loud at the Library: A Night of Songs Among the Stacks The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library repurpose a silent space
BY SAMMY BROWN The sounds of pages flipping, mouses clicking, and librarians shushing were nowhere to be heard on the last night of March at the Saint Paul Public Library (SPPL). As for accordion trills, popping beer bottle caps, and ringing guitar strings; they could be heard from the CD section to the children’s book collection, leaving non-ticket holders hungry for a listen. Quick to sell out, the final concert of SPPL’s Loud at the Library series showcased the versatility of libraries and their readiness to welcome all people and purposes. Loud at the Library, made possible by The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, is a concert series that offers members of the community a unique venue to listen to local artists. Their final concert of the 2017 season featured a twangy foursome called Tree Party. The folksy four weren’t afraid to flirt with dynamics inside the traditionally quiet space as they sang the lore of iconic Minnesotans. Beloved country blues musician Charlie Parr served as the main event, ensuring that concert-goers got loud and wild as they clapped along and hollered for more.
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The Friends and the musicians were sure to incorporate books into the boogying. The president of The Friends, Beth Burns, introduced the musicians
by what they were reading and encouraged audience members to share their favorite titles between acts. Parr kept his stage banter thematic as he told stories about his dad teaching himself to read as an adult and childhood days of recording checkedout vinyls from his public library over his sister’s Beatles cassette tapes. Presenting your library card earned you a Summit beer, further proving Arthur’s sage lyrics that having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got one of those bad boys. Though Loud at the Library won’t start up again until next January, the night showed the smorgasbord of opportunities that come with a strong public library. Pre-concert activities included a free knitting lesson and tours of their Innovation Lab, which includes a 3D printer and a sound studio. The Friends’ Director of Special Events, Liz Boyd, said that public libraries have moved “way beyond the stacks of books,” providing access to digital services, resources for small-business owners, homework and job-hunting help, language classes for those learning English, and so much more. Boyd notes that these services are hard to come by for free outside of public libraries, so SPPL is constantly adapting to make sure it can be a center of cultural hub for those who seek it.
In Pursuit of Childlike Artistic Confidence Acknowledging adult fears to liberate your artistic potential BY LIV MARTIN
Performing like that is not so easy now, and I truly envy the ease of 9-year-old Olivia Fabos Martin. I think I can pin the turning point in my musical career to when I went through puberty. The carefreeness I had as a child was replaced by adolescent anxieties that most people are familiar with. And with the added pressures that start to accumulate as we age, expectations from others and from ourselves can be almost crippling
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sometimes. I know the feeling of playing my cello in a practice room and feeling like a million bucks. When the time comes to perform in front of people, the pressure gets inside my head: my bow shakes, my face gets red and I become angry for giving myself a sense of false confidence. I think that the fear of judgment—from peers, from strangers, from mentors, and especially from ourselves—is an incredibly powerful feeling that many artists know well. When we have ownership over our art, whether it is an interpretation of a musical work, or an idea that became a painting, or a short film, we put a piece of ourselves out there into the world. That can be terrifying. Though we can acknowledge that this aspect of publicly displaying our art is nerve-wracking, there is also power in overcoming this fear and wholeheartedly believing in our self-expression. We can all learn to absolve ourselves from the pressures of adulthood judgements by returning to a simpler time, when our childhood confidence made us unstoppable.
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I have been playing the cello since I was four years old, all the while my mom has been by my side with her video camera, skillfully capturing my progress as a musician. Recently, I was looking back on a video of myself playing in a cello recital as a 9-year-old. Fearlessly, I stood in front of the audience and said “My name is Olivia Fabos Martin and I’m going to play Minuet No. 1 and Minuet No. 2 by Bach.” First, I noticed that my voice was so much higher than I was expecting, yet it was also so commanding! When I started playing, my demeanor was completely unbothered. My head swayed with the music and at one point I even stumbled on a note, but I continued without it phasing me.
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T H E WA K E
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A PSYCHOTRONIC NIGHTMARE BECOMES REALITY Twin Cities Film Society kicks off with rare horror double feature ART BY KAT I E H E Y WO O D
BY ERIC NEWLAND
Cheryl got off the subway alone, hurrying to get away from a strange man in a metallic mask. Heavy synth music plays as she breaks into a run to escape up the stairs. She screams as she nearly runs into the man at the top. The masked man hands Cheryl two golden tickets, to a mysterious movie at a strange theater. She invites her friend Kathy, and they skip school to check it out. The movie is a dark and cheesy horror about how demons will invade earth through the power of an evil mask. “They will make cemeteries their cathedrals and tombs your cities,” the narrator warns. Meanwhile, in the theater lobby, a woman named Rosemary tries on a mask in the hallway and it scratches her face. As the demons in the movie begin to eat the heroes, she heads to the bathroom, her face still bleeding. Suddenly, her wound bubbles and explodes in a bloody, gooey mess; her eyes turn a sickly yellow and her front teeth are pushed out by sharp fangs. Her friend goes to check on her and finds her in a stall. Rosemary turns and attacks, her fingers have mutated into claws, slashing open her friend’s face, and the demon apocalypse has begun. All of this was the first half hour of a rare Italian horror movie, “Demons,” directed by Dario Argento, spinning on a 35-millimeter film projector in all its original grainy, audio-distorted glory at the Parkway Theater on March 30.
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The blood and ghostbusters-esque slime effects were gratuitous. The plot was ridiculous and the use of character tropes were many and unapologetic. The screening was the very first event by the Twin Cities Psychotronic Film Society, which got its start late last year with the mission of bringing strange movies to light from the depths of film history. Daniel McNellie organized the group, an offshoot of the one in Chicago. He is a connoisseur of movies, the weirder, more misguided or unknown the better. The Chicago group first borrowed the term “psychotronic” from movie critic and writer Michael Weldon back in the ‘80s, McNellie said. According to the group’s website, Weldon used the term to suggest “a combination of weird horror films and electronic gadget-filled science fiction movies,” later to mean any sort of exploitation film. McNellie said the first group was “just a bunch of weirdos getting together watching weird movies. They just put a title on it, actually.” Psychotronic, like punk rock, was just a term to describe something that didn’t have a term yet, he said. McNellie was raised on bloody classic horror films. Unable to afford babysitters, his parents would drop him off at the movie theater with 10 bucks, and he would sneak around all day seeing “every godawful thing that was released through the end of the ‘80s and the early ‘90s.”
watched what we now consider early classics of the genre, like “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Dawn of the Dead,” “which might be the worst or best parenting ever,” McNellie said. As he grew up, his interest in the film world grew. Not just horror movies, but anything from sci-fi to independent film. Nowadays, he seeks out the work of outsider artists, directors who ignore the Hollywood rules of what’s good and what isn’t. The Twin Cities group aims to do something a little different from the others, McNellie said. Anyone can become a member by showing up to screenings, and any member can sign up to curate meetings. “Keep it a surprise, announce what you’re going to show, whatever,” he said. The second film in the Italian horror double feature was “Nightmare City,” in which a horde of knifewielding irradiated zombies, who are blood-hungry yet still somewhat intelligent, invade a city murdering at random. The military is powerless to stop it, and society collapses. The protagonist’s moral debates about mankind’s follies are heavy-handed, the zombies’ random violence is often directed toward topless women for no discernable reason, and the whole film is awkward and halting. “It’s amazing how halfway through, the audience turns against the movie, and then they just have to live with it,” one movie-goer commented on his way out the door. What the Twin Cities Psychotronic Film Society manages to dredge up from will be a grab bag of hilarity and horror. But one thing is for sure: it’s going to be weird.
On weekends, his family would rent a VCR, go to video stores and grab a bunch of horror movies. They
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Eclectic exhibit highlights student print art and rare art books that connect with the current political climate BY LIV RIGGINS
The zines, taken from the Gorman Rare Art Book Collection and shown just outside the James Bell library on the 4th floor, are an even more heterogeneous group. Heading past a student piece consisting of underwear inscribed with ‘Nasty Woman,’ I saw a
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This interdisciplinary approach is seen in the exhibit, with pieces calling attention to such issues as the IsraeliPalestinian dispute, intersectional feminism, and the lack of accessible healthcare in the U.S. Student work is the most physically accessible part of the exhibit, with a wide variety of individual interests, styles, and tastes shown in the artwork scattered throughout several study areas.
Wilson Library’s “Protest Publishing and Art: From the Copy Machine to the Internet” exhibits a wide variety of books and art from rare early zines and ‘70s ephemera to contemporary student prints. As protest art, these zines and prints “go beyond the message” into generative action, said Jenny Schmid, artist and teacher of the participating class “Books, Zines, and Comics.” She finds printmaking to be a unique art form because “it has a mixed history between fine art and graphic design...with a long tradition of artists who use print, standing up for the underdog.” Schmid sees art as “essential to our culture’s survival,” informing all realms of existence, and transforming the Twin Cities into something more than “a truck stop in the middle of the cornfields,” through the continued support and engagement of the community.
glass-enclosed gallery where the zines and small publications were displayed. Among the pieces included were a direct action manual of radical environmentalists “Earth First!,” information on the Hmong LGBTQ+ community, second-wave feminist literature, and miscellany zines such as “The Adventures of Mouse the Dog.” These zines are just a fraction of the astonishing variety and quantity of media in the Gorman Rare Art Book Collection. While the Gorman Rare Art Book Collection is free and open to the public year-round, the Protest Publishing exhibit ends May 19th. The exhibit will also be featuring performance art and a panel discussion during the opening reception on April 20th. More information can be found on the University Libraries’ website, and highlights from the Gorman Rare Art Book Collection can be viewed on their active Tumblr.
N OR A P E TE RS ON
How the old genre is making its way back into mainstream music
BY TONY BURTON Flappers, saxophones, synthesizers, and computerized beats—a strange, yet beautiful combination. A combination that has swept the dance floors of nightclubs across the world. Who would think that after almost a century of the rise of jazz, the music of Sinatra and Bennett would start making its way back into mainstream music and in the unusual way that it is. Modern DJs have been known to combine various incompatible genres ingeniously, and after listening to several tracks, such as Aiden Chan’s “All That Jazz” and “On The Rocks,” I can confidently say that jazz-inspired tracks are among my favorites. There’s some type of
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magic that occurs when you combine the woodwind orchestration and old fashioned percussion of traditional jazz with the throbbing basslines and combatting melodies of modern EDM.
My favorite mix to date would have to be “Lone Digger” by Caravan Palace as it is full of competing EDM and traditional jazz melodies, along with a leading female jazz vocal. This crossover does not only capture the spirit of jazz; it’s also complimented by respectable production.
The nature of these creations also reflects the nature of the foundational principles of jazz: for the music not to discriminate, even toward modern music such as EDM. As jazz superstar Louis Armstrong once said: “If you have to ask what jazz is, you'll never know.”
Other mainstream artists that have included jazz influences in their music include: Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, Alessia Cara, Amy Winehouse, and many more. Along with these artists, a few motion pictures have contributed to this new genre. The most noteworthy one being the latest adaptation of “The Great Gatsby,” which included the platinum-selling single, “Young and Beautiful” by Lana Del Rey.
In the 1920s, jazz ignited a generation to embrace each musical side wholeheartedly through both new forms of dance and increased acceptance of musical interpretation. This flexibility is mirrored through modern DJs crossing genres, so it’s only appropriate that jazz crossovers are the most fitting combinations.
If you haven’t yet, check out the artists listed above as well as the entire genre of EDM Jazz. If you find that the music speaks you, don't be alarmed. As Amy Winehouse once said regarding the influence jazz had on her: “I would say that jazz is my own language.” It could become yours too, even if it's in EDM form.
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T H E WA K E
S OUND & VIS ION
How do I know I’m not a seagull? A creative writing piece by Max Roberts Floating on currents of sweet air, circling the fat children with the hot dogs their even larger mother bought them to quiet their racketous complaints of hunger. I wait for the moment of weakness, for it will surely come, when the sausage has satisfied their attention and they forget its pleasure. The fat children will look away, and in that moment, I will have my fill. Oh, I wish for my fill of them! Doughy fingers, calzone stomachs, pastry cheeks! I wish to eat the children but in my rational mind I know I could never swallow something so grotesque. And I could share with the others, for there would be enough to go around for weeks, and at the end we would make our nests near their bodies for we’d lose our ability to fly. No amount of porous bones and feathers could raise me into the air after a month of feasting, but this is just fantasy. In silence I descend, circling like my vulture brethren, not wanting to be heard or noticed by either the children nor other gulls looking for the same opportunity. This is not a feast of children, merely a meal to satisfy the day. My time is near, I know by heart the look of these whales of children begging their mother to rejoin their pod. She declines, “Are you kidding me! You were starving two minutes ago, then you take two bites and you’re full? You better finish them goddamn hot dogs or so help me. We spent good money on them, don’t you dare be ungrateful and waste ‘em.” The pleading persists, “but mama” they whine, “we wanna go swimmin now. We ain’t hungry no more!” “I don’t wanna hear another word of it. Finish your hot dog or you can sit in the room for the rest of the day! Daryl, will you help me on this?” The man lying next to her peeked under the hat covering his face but his gut impeded his line of sight. He pulled his hat further down, “listen to your mother.” “But. We. Want. To. Go. Swimming.” “What did your father and I just tell you! NO!” “Imma throw mine on the ground, then ain’t nobody gonna eat it.” The piggish child turned up his nose thinking he’d won. “Sonofabitch,” the father pulling himself up from his lounger, “if I hear one more goddamn word from any of you I’ll put you over my knee and belt you! Eat your goddamn hot dog ‘fore I get angry.” He laid down, recovering his eyes, “Jesus fucking Christ, Mary Jo, if I’da known this is what you meant by surprise twelve years ago,
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I’da been packed and gone. Fuck!” He fell back to sleep. By the time this whole event transpired I had landed and began my approach. I zig-zagged back and forth, always looking at the ground as though there might be something there, but there wasn’t. I would get the prize or nothing. Finally, I was close enough to pounce, the timing was right with the children wallowing in their father’s abuse. The hot dog hung to one’s side, I jumped and snatched, pulling it free of the hand, and in a single move was in the air. I gulped it down in triumph, nearly choking from its size I dropped a few feet but regained balance once the majority had entered my gut. Behind me a scene erupted, “Mama, mama, that gull stole my hot dog!” Tears welled in the piggish child’s eyes. “Christ, Johnny. What’d I tell you!” Melting to the sand, “Mama, but I’m hungry now! I want my hot dog.” “Fer cryin out loud, I will not hear another goddamn word out of your mouth. You both better be outta my sight before I get to five or I swear on Christ himself your father’ll give you a whoopin when he wakes up. One, two, three…” The children ran. Once they were far enough Johnny turned to his sister, hot dog still clenched in her hand. “Dammit, I’m hungry now. Gimme a bite of yours.” “No. You lost yours. Didn’t you listen to mama? She said you’re a no good idiot that can’t even eat a hot dog.” “You shut up and give me a bite.” “No” Johnny walked up and drove his fist through her gut. She fell to the ground, clutching her stomach and dropping the hot dog. “Dumb, bitch. Don’t ever talk to me that way again, Susie, otherwise I’ll fuckin’ belt you.” He blew the sand sticking to the globs of fat that hung to the sausage, took a bite and threw it to the ground by his sisters face. “Tastes like shit. I’m goin swimming when you’re ready” and he walked away. “Fuck you,” said Susie and she got up to join him.
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