e o CLA Budget
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Harry Potter Reviews & More! 30 november â€“ 13 december 2010
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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Editor-in-Chief Maggie Foucault
Production Manager Tarin Gessert
Managing Editor Sophie Frank
Graphic Designers Tarin Gessert, Steph Mertes, Ryan Webert
Cities Editor Alex Lauer
Photography Editor Matt Miranda
Voices Editor Eric Murphy
Art Director Keit Osadchuk
Sound & Vision Editor Zach McCormick
Copy Editors Alex Gaterud , Agnes Rzepecki
This Issue Cover Artist Tarin Gessert
Bastard Steph Mertes
Business Advisory Board James DeLong, Kevin Dunn, Courtney Lewis, Eric Price, Morgan Mae Schultz, Gary Schwitzer, Kay Steiger, Mark Wisser
“remember the beginning of the empire strikes back, where han solo leaves the rebel base to rescue luke? he hikes across windy, lifeless terrain, and has to disembowel his alien mount and stuff luke inside to keep him alive through the night. yeah, it’s a little like that.” of course they didn’t really believe me. but it’s coming. you believe me, perhaps share my dread (or if you’re a rosy-nosed freshman from so-cal, you will). time to huddle next to our radiators, mug of whiskey in one hand, that book we’ve been putting off reading all semester in the other.
the wake is almost done for the semester (even we have to study sometimes), but you have one more issue to look forward to. we’ll also let you know how to get involved next semester.
Contributing Writers Jessica Bies, Jai Guo, Carter Haaland, Jon Schober, Leigh Anne Stein, Neale Torgrimson, Hallie Wallace
time to take one big collective breath and buckle down for the final stretch.
10:5 Established in 2002, The Wake is a fortnightly independent magazine and registered student organization produced by and for the students of the University of Minnesota.
over thanksgiving i tried to describe to my non-midwestern relatives/ friends the winter that was in my near future, tried to break it down into terms they would understand:
or hey, if you won’t break that easily, you could read the wake and put off work instead. this issue explores the twin cities free-scene, ponders immortality ( jellyfish ftw), and sees the return of our beloved “mind’s eye” section, giving science and technology (and all you techie writers) a fair expression.
Illustrators Angie Frisk, Meher Khan, Rachel Mosey, Guy Wagner
©2009 The Wake Student Magazine. All rights reserved.
now that sleep-inducing turkey and family reunions are well behind us (welcome to the digital age, where a week or two is like a century) it’s on to bitter cold and final papers.
The Wake Student Magazine 1313 5th St. SE #331 Minneapolis, MN 55414
Sophie Frank Managing Editor
(612) 379-5952 • www.wakemag.org The Wake was founded by Chris Ruen and James DeLong.
The Wake is published with support from Campus Progress/Center for American Progress (online at www.campusprogress.org).
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.
Keith Olbermann and Opinion Journalism By Eric Murphy MSNBC host Keith Olbermann’s recent suspension over personal political donations launched a national discussion of journalistic ethics and the line between journalism and opinion. (Though Olbermann is not a journalist but a pundit, the discussion is still relevant.) Olbermann donated a total of $7,200 to three candidates running in the 2010 elections, an expression of free speech in his private life, separate and apart from his job. Regardless of whether one thinks Olbermann is biased, these donations did not and would not have made a difference in how he performed his job: if he is already biased, there is no more incentive for him to argue the left’s case after these donations, since this was already his public stance; if he is not biased, he would still be able to separate his private political beliefs from his professional duties, just as he had been doing all along. In the worst-case scenario, he would have a financial incentive to tweak his coverage of the specific candidates to whom he donated, but this was not the case. MSNBC rightly reinstated him shortly after his initial suspension. The discussion did not end there. Ted Koppel, the former Nightline host, wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post called “Olbermann, O’Reilly, and the Death of Real News,” the point of which was to mourn the death of “objective” journalism written to serve the public interest rather than turn a profit. Olbermann responded with a compelling defense, arguing that opinion journalism is, in fact, in the public interest. According to him, golden-era newsmen like Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite are lionized not for their objective reports and gathering of facts, but for their courageous statements of what Olbermann calls “truth” (distinguishing this from “facts”): explicitly argumentative analyses of these facts in order to make a specific point. He cites Murrow’s arguments against McCarthyism and Cronkite’s argument to withdraw honorably from Vietnam as evidence and offers the failure of journalists to speak out against the Iraq War as evi-
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dence of the failure of purely fact-based (as opposed to truthbased, or argumentative) journalism. But while Olbermann thinks Koppel gets objective journalism wrong, Olbermann himself misunderstands the value of argumentative journalism. Murrow, Cronkite, and others did and do argue a case in their reporting, but their arguments were objective, so to speak. They came from an allegiance to the truth and the truth only, and were informed by a painstaking survey of all relevant facts: a firsthand trip to Vietnam or an investigation of Joseph McCarthy. There is a difference between what Olbermann does and what Murrow and Cronkite did. Olbermann’s arguments are frequently motivated by ideology and the perceived need to defend his “team” or attack the other, and are supported by cherry-picked facts and arguments. This is not a journalistic deployment of facts as weapons to lay bare the truth, it is punditry and propaganda. (To be fair to Olbermann, this is not always the case; he does sometimes argue from a place of truth and objectivity, and arguably played the role of a Murrow or Cronkite during the Iraq War when few else would, but this is not typical.) Koppel has the better part of the argument here. Opinion has always colored journalism—through editorial selection of what stories to cover, for example—but now opinion journalism typically consists only of ideological defense and political tribalism. Keith Olbermann is a newsman in the same way Jon Stewart is. Stewart quickly summarizes a news story so the audience will understand his joke; Olbermann quickly summarizes a news story so the audience will understand his opinion. Each can skew the story in their summary to prepare the audience for their particular viewpoint, and this should not be considered reporting proper. While MSNBC is guilty of its opinion journalism being motivated by ideology and group identification rather than truth or the public interest, the far more developed and grotesque example of Koppel’s criticism is Fox News. One can ignore that Fox News has no personal political donation policy, because any personal donations Fox News hosts make are their own private decisions, just as Olbermann’s
were and are. But Fox operates to support an ideology on an entirely different level than Keith Olbermann or MSNBC as a whole. Olbermann’s donations were personal; Fox’s donations and ideological promotion are strategic. Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee, both on the Fox News payroll, have political action committees that support Republican candidates. Media Matters has criticized Fox for promoting Palin’s Facebook page on air, which asks viewers to donate to her PAC in a prominent advertisement. Fox had to ask Huckabee to stop promoting a website on air that redirected viewers to a site that solicited donations for his PAC and collected emails to which he sent calls for political action on behalf of Republicans. The Democratic Governor’s Association filed a complaint against Fox for displaying the website of Ohio gubernatorial nominee John Kasich on-screen as he solicited donations on the O’Reilly Factor. News Corporation, which owns Fox News, donated $1 million to the Republican Governor’s Association this election cycle. (General Electric, which owns MSNBC, donates in roughly equal amounts to each party, and usually gives slightly more to whichever party is in power.) The in-kind donations—those in the form of on-air advertisement—may be even more egregious. Hosts talk up candidates they have officially endorsed or raised funds for. During the 2010 campaign, Palin essentially told Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell to use Fox News as a campaign messagemachine, saying, “speak through Fox News.” Three probable Republican 2012 presidential primary candidates are doing double duty; Fox News is simultaneously paying them and raising their profile. While MSNBC’s coverage certainly falls short of Koppel’s ideal, Fox is nothing but a 24-hour infomercial for an ideology. It is the QVC of the GOP. The “opinion” in Olbermann’s “opinion journalism” may be clouded with ideology, but Fox News personalities eschew the veil of opinion altogether and choose all-out advocacy. This is Koppel’s fear: “journalism,” even of the opinion kind, that advertises and promotes rather than informs and educates.
Obama in India by Neale Torgrimson President Obama’s ten-day trip to Asia took him through India, Indonesia, South Korea, and Japan. In Indonesia, he sought to unite the United States and the Islamic world. In South Korea and Japan, topics like North Korea and global trade were at the forefront. But it was his initial stop in India that may have been the most significant. In Delhi, President Obama announced that his administration would support India’s bid to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Currently only five nations—the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, and France—hold permanent status, although there are 10 other temporary members that are voted into two-year terms by the U.N. General Assembly. His announcement made a big statement indeed, but some have criticized Obama for making an empty gesture. For India to get permanent status it would need to get the approval of 130 U.N. members, a daunting, although not impossible, task. The next step would be a vote by the permanent members of the Security Council, with a unanimous vote of support necessary to grant membership. A positive outcome would be unlikely as China and Russia have strong incentives to veto such a movement. Although Obama’s commitment to India’s bid may not change the ultimate result, it does have tremendous significance. By committing to India, Obama is reaching out to a rising power, something all the more important after the recent souring of the relationship between the United States and China. Right now Beijing and Washington don’t see eyeto-eye economically, with the United States still owing massive debts to China. There is still the issue of Taiwan, with the United States giving the Taiwanese significant amounts of military aid while the Chinese refuse to politically recognize the nation’s legitimacy. With the relationship between the U.S and China going through a rough patch, it’s important for the United States to strengthen its relationship with its allies. India, not simply geographically, but also because of its billion-plus population, is in a unique position to counter China should things deteriorate further in our relationship. India also has a major role to play in the war on terror. It shares a border (and a major dispute) with Pakistan, whose relationship with the United States has been full of peaks and valleys to say the least. Solidifying a relationship with Delhi would act as a security blanket should the relationship with Pakistan become worse. India also has the largest Muslim population in the world (Indonesia, where Obama visited later on the trip, has the second largest) and is integral for U.S. relations to the Islamic world. Several other issues, such as climate change, make a strengthened connection to India all the more important for the United States. China’s rise has been fueled mostly by fossil fuels, especially coal, so making sure India’s ascent is green is all the more pivotal. Presently, it may be nothing more than a tip of the hat, but President Obama’s pledge to India now may pay off greatly in the years to come.
Obama Sends the Wrong Message with Asia Trip by Maggie Foucault On Nov. 5 President Obama embarked on a 10-day trip to various countries in Asia. The President stopped in New Delhi and Mumbai in India, Jakarta in Indonesia, Yokohama in Japan, and Seoul in South Korea. While the trip has been touted as a foreign relations outreach to some of the fastest-growing markets in the world, one of the fastest growing of those markets was intentionally skipped: China. Obama’s exclusion of China in his latest Asia tour will only be detrimental to the relationship between the increasingly powerful country and the United States. Obama’s other recent announcement—that he supports the inclusion of India in the U.N. Security Council—shows the Obama administration’s premature effort to prevent the fast-developing country from becoming too assertive and independent like China, an emerging superpower the United States both fears and needs. While the cities chosen for the trip highlight the economic focus of the tour (Yokohama is a busy shipping port in Japan, and Mumbai is considered India’s economic hub), China is still Asia’s leading manufacturer of most of the goods sold in U.S. stores. Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and numerous other cities house the factories supplying the U.S. and would have welcomed Obama. This oversight will only cool the Chinese people’s feelings toward Obama.
At the beginning of his trip, President Obama endorsed India’s bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council on national television. This strategic announcement comes as the U.S. becomes increasingly frustrated with China’s assertive blocking of many U.S. initiatives, including sanctions on North Korea and Sudan, two of China’s allies. The endorsement is dangerous for two reasons: it will annoy China, and India is nowhere near ready to participate in such an important council. While India’s proximity to the Middle East is of strategic importance to United States, the country’s social structure is still reeling from the caste system, and India is on track to be the most populous country in the world. If India wants to be taken seriously in the international community, it needs to address its most serious domestic problems before it can be rewarded with a Security Council seat.
If the Obama administration wants China to take the United State’s spot as the world’s police, they are well on their way. At the end of Obama’s Asia trip at Group of 20 summit in Seoul, Obama took the opportunity to criticize China’s undervaluation of its currency, the renminbi. This criticism could lead to China vetoing more and more U.N. motions and resisting anything proposed by the United States. If the Obama administration wants China to take the United State’s spot as the world’s police, they are well on their way. Resistance to other world powers has dominated China’s political actions. Why the Obama administration believes that hardball tactics will work on a country known for its difficult demeanor and cold shoulder, no one knows.
Students Organizing for America Alleged Vouching Fraud by Carter Haaland Tuesday, Nov. 2 was one of those patriotic voting days. Good citizens and members of communities all across the nation took time out of their day to complete their highest civic duty. It wasn’t hard to spot folks wearing their red “I Voted” stickers proudly on Election Day, and even into the next week. The day consistently manifests patriotism and allows citizens to actuate their role in a democratic system. However, alleged voter vouching fraud may have tainted this year’s gubernatorial elections. Members of the U of M student group Students Organizing for America (SOFA) are facing criminal investigation and potential felony charges in the aftermath of November’s civic holiday. The controversy is centered on illegal voter vouching at University Lutheran Church just off Washington Avenue. Third party vouching is a way of registering on Election Day without proper ID or a bill with one’s current name and address on it. Someone registered at the same precinct must sign an oath claiming that they know that the individual is a resident of the precinct.
The supposed vouching fraud incidents of Nov. 2 seem to have been overlooked by the news media. Allegedly, several members of SOFA were congregating outside of University Lutheran and pairing up vouchers and individuals that needed to be vouched for. It is unclear whether or not the pairs knew each other; if they did not know each other and the voucher signed the oath, he or she would be in violation of Minnesota state law and face felony charges. Eventually a judge approached a woman from the group and confronted her about the person she was vouching for. The woman said she did not know the individual and was merely doing what SOFA instructed her to do. When attempting to vouch for an unregistered woman, another SOFA member could not give the woman’s correct address and was told by the judge that he would not be allowed to vouch for her. The SOFA member then got into a shouting match with the judge and was literally dragged off the premises. SOFA president Jeb Saelens was present when these events took place but was asked to leave because the state’s 15-person vouching limit had been reached for the day. Saelens declined to comment for the article. SOFA is a registered University of Minnesota student group that supports the Democratic Party and is “committed to continuing President Obama’s grassroots efforts.” The organization is dedicated to promoting voter education and increasing youth voter turnout rates. The U of M group is merely a branch of the much larger tree, Organizing for America (OFA). OFA was created by Obama just three days into his first
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term as president. The organization is also dedicated to propelling aspects of Obama’s agenda such as the reformation of the healthcare system and the 2009 stimulus package. Minnesota is one of only states to allow vouching as a means of on-site registration. The concept is controversial because critics argue that the inevitable chaos at voting sites may foster illegal vouching, as may have been the case at University Lutheran. Supporters argue that vouching is a feasible way to justly increase voter turnout rates. Vouching is perhaps one of the reasons that Minnesota consistently ranks among the top states in voter turnout rates. In 2008, 78 percent of eligible Minnesotans turned out to vote in the presidential election. This was the highest voter turnout among all states.
The supposed vouching fraud incidents of Nov. 2 seem to have been overlooked by the news media. The Minnesota Daily reported on the incident but thus far Fox News is the only major mass media organization to have covered the events. The Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, and other Minnesota news sources all have omitted the events from their daily coverage. As of right now the cases are under further investigation. A report has been submitted to the Hennepin County’s attorney’s office and the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office but Chief Deputy County Attorney Pat Diamond has yet to speak out regarding the report. Only time will tell if the claims have credibility or if the controversy is directed at just, law-abiding citizens.
When is a Jobs Program not a Jobs Program? by Eric Murphy “Jobs, jobs, jobs” was the rallying cry of the 2010 elections. Americans consistently rated the economy and lack of jobs as the most important issues facing the country by large margins. Republicans won control of the House of Representatives, many governorships, and state legislatures all over the country presumably because voters preferred their position on this issue. House Republican Leader John Boehner even claimed the election gave them a “mandate.” Given these facts, one would expect the Republicans to immediately start talking up their plans for job growth and stimulating the economy upon taking office. As it turns out, that is not quite the case. Boehner’s “mandate” claim was not about jobs at all; in fact, he claimed the mandate was “for Washington to reduce the size of government.” In other words, he interpreted the election results to mean that Americans wanted government to do even less to promote job growth. Republicans around the country have rapidly signed on to this baffling misinterpretation of the message from voters. The policies they have put forward almost exclusively work to undermine economic recovery and job creation. Nationally, they have proposed to cancel what remains of the spending from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (aka the stimulus bill), which has already created or saved as many as 3.3 million jobs and lowered unemployment as much as 1.8 percent according to the Congressional Budget Office. They have spoken out strongly against the bailout of General Motors—in fact, the bailout was one of the events that kicked off the Tea Party movement, which proved to be a major reason Republicans were so successful in 2010. The only problem is that the GM bailout actually saved over 1 million jobs in 2009, and has saved over 300,000 more this year (and will wind up costing taxpayers almost nothing to boot). On Nov. 18, House Republicans blocked the extension of unemployment benefits. In addition to being flagrantly uncompassionate and unfair, especially while simultaneously calling for cutting the taxes of the wealthiest Americans, this is poor economic policy. When unemployment insurance was created in 1935 after the Great Depression, it was not to create a nanny state that invited freeloaders to live off the government; instead, it was to sustain demand during economic downturns and periods of high unemployment. Instead of the economy losing a laid-off worker’s entire wage, it would only lose a fraction, and the newly unemployed citizens would immediately put these payouts back into the economy by spending them on necessary goods and services. Most economists agree that unemployment insurance payouts are one of the most effective ways to stimulate the economy, and a study by the Department of Labor found that extending unemployment benefits in 2008 and 2009 “kept an average of 1.6 million Americans on the job in each quarter” and “lower[ed] the unemployment rate by approximately 1.2 percentage points.” The further extension that House Republicans blocked could save up to 700,000 more jobs.
Incoming Republican governors have also announced plans for massive cuts that will remove demand from the economy and cost jobs. In Wisconsin, the governor-elect, Scott Walker, has promised to cancel a high-speed rail project (funded entirely by the federal government) for which construction has already begun, a measure that will cost jobs in construction, operation, and maintenance of the line, plus detract from the projected economic development around the line—a number that could be in the thousands. He has also promised reduced pay and benefits for state workers. Likewise, Michigan’s Rick Snyder and New Mexico’s Susana Martinez are proposing cutting the state payroll to cover budget deficits. New Jersey governor Chris Christie, elected in 2009, rejected $3 billion in federal money for a rail tunnel project that would have created 6,000 jobs. Florida’s governor-elect Rick Scott has similarly pledged to return $2 billion in federal funds for highspeed rail in his state.
One would expect the Republicans to immediately start talking up their plans for job growth and stimulating the economy upon taking office. As it turns out, that is not quite the case. There’s no getting around it: these cuts will cost their states jobs. Complicating the issue is that many Republican gubernatorial candidates will have to solve budget deficits caused by the recession, yet made campaign pledges not to raise taxes. For example, in Ohio, Governor-elect John Kasich will face an $8 billion budget deficit, but said he would not raise taxes to fix it, and would in fact simultaneously eliminate Ohio’s income tax. Balancing an $8 billion dollar deficit with only spending cuts while also making the problem worse with massive tax cuts will suck a huge amount of demand from Ohio’s economy, necessarily costing a significant number of jobs. And any economic help from the tax cuts they propose will have to be offset by even further spending decreases, further lowering demand. While Republicans talk almost constantly about the need to create jobs, the policies they are pursuing will actually cost jobs and halt economic recovery. They are parroting ideological tenets that are not based in economic reality. Either they are being intellectually dishonest for political purposes in the promotion of their policies or they have a profound misunderstanding of how government and the economy work. Ironically, Republicans have claimed a popular mandate for these policies, even though their consequences will fall most heavily on the working and middle classes. Indeed, they won the election to a significant number of offices by campaigning on these policies. But they only did so by telling a story about the economy and job creation that the facts simply do not support. keit osadchuk
CLA: We Stick On “Student-Centricity” by jia guo On November 11 and 12, the College of Liberal Arts 2015 Committee held two town hall meetings in regard to its final report to the dean. Many students and faculty members attended these meetings to voice their opinions about the recommendations made in the report. CLA, the biggest college at the U, faces roughly $12 million in budget cuts in fiscal 2010. If this budget cutting continues in the next five years, CLA will shrink some faculty research and graduate programs in order to meet the ends. In the CLA committees final report, they stated that CLA “must reorganize internally and become more efficient and more focused.” When asked to clarify the implications of “reorganizing,” Christopher Uggen, sociology professor and co-chair of the CLA committee stated that,“Reorganize means that we need to scrutinize all the current programs and figure out the most efficient way to serve students.” There are about 15,000 undergraduates and 2,000 graduate students spread among 30 departments in CLA. The college offers nearly 60 bachelor’s degrees and more than 50 minors or tracks. Officials say they will consider combining or eliminating some of these programs, especially where the total number of enrolled students is less than 10. Some courses offered online for non-U of M students will likely be sustained as they provide another financial avenue for the college. When it comes to reorganizing, Uggen said that it is necessary to spend the least amount of money as efficiently as possible. “Narrowing the focus” of the college is important, as money freed up by cutting programs would transmit to and support the current programs. All the existing programs will be stron-
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ger than before, thereby serving students better, because CLA will make sure they still have enough money. The College of Liberal Arts provides many specific and unique programs that draw students to the University of Minnesota to partake in these programs. Inevitably cutting programs will cut down on this variety, but to what extent is not yet clear. According to the CLA report, the college would renew the current curriculum structure to better serve students. Uggen detailed some of the proposed structural changes, “There are some courses which have restrictions on grades. For example, you aren’t able to take some courses unless you are a junior, and that is unnecessary if students could do well in those classes.” Uggen claimed that this renewed curriculum would contribute to student-centricity with limited money. “I feel optimistic about CLA, even though budget cutting is a reality that makes us feel it is difficult to grow. We still can find new ways to be creative,” Uggen said. He explained that there are many available opportunities and resources outside of the university, which CLA could engage in and seek for support. Private donations and alumni are among them, both of which play a key part in the university’s funding. According to the report, 70% of CLA’s budget is off the table, because 40% is paid into University cost-pools set and controlled by central administration and 30% is for core tenured faculty. As a result, the budget will be cut from the remaining 30%, which means non-faculty instruction such as teaching assistants, teaching specialists, and lecturers are being considered for pay cuts, except for cutting faculty research, student services and some graduate programs. Every year, there are fewer new faculty members hired, so professors’ and some of the faculty’s salaries are less likely to be cut, because the college needs to keep them in order to protect the higher teaching and research standard, which in turn protects the unique programs. The University will still work to protect and encourage faculty research, even though the budget is cut. “It is not just
the money that matters; there are values and credibility we must keep,” Uggen said. When asked if cutting the budget would have any influence on student tuition and fees, Uggen said that increasing tuition won’t fix the problem, the committee doesn’t want to increase students’ tuition and fees. Ultimately, the committee does not make the decision, however. The decision of whether or not to increase student tuition and fees lies with the central administration and panel. It will be a long process to change CLA. What it will become is still unclear, though the future of CLA seems promising under the claim of “student-centricity,” as they reorganize the current programs and curriculum structure to create a more efficient and vigorous teaching and researching system. “Student-centricity” is the core concept during this process, as stated by Uggen. On the other hand, CLA will try and take advantage of the Twin Cities’ sufficient resources to draw more money and encourage students to go out of campus to touch and absorb the diverse opportunities. The 2015 report provides a vision of connecting the university to outside resources as well as efficiently training students to prepare for the 21st century. The report is completed and it will pass on to the hands of CLA Dean Jim Parente who will then decide whether or not to implement it. As the change of CLA would have a direct influence on students and faculty, their voices are welcomed during the reforming process. It is necessary for those within CLA, and even those within other schools, to question the claims made by Uggen and others in charge of this restructuring. This is undoubtedly a time of great change, and it is up to us to steer this change in our favor instead of taking the cheap way out. As it looks now, Uggen has his eyes well down the road, but they are fixed on the bank rather than on the college. If he thinks he can just keep repeating “student-centricity” in lieu of real answers, he’s got another thing coming.
Student Protests. Students Protest! by Hallie Wallace
On Wednesday Nov. 10, 50,000 students gathered in London to protest the government’s proposed tuition raises. Currently, most British university students at public institutions pay just under $5,000. The tuition increases would raise yearly rates to a maximum of about $14,000. According to the BBC, government ministers have said that their plans offer “a fair deal for students.” When I first read about the proposal, I was shocked for two reasons. The first was because of how drastic the proposed increase was. However, I didn’t feel bad for the students at all. The cost of in-state tuition at the University of Minnesota is comparable to the proposed rate, and often the cheapest option for a fouryear degree that Americans have. Our European counterparts have it good when it comes to higher education. A friend of mine from Norway was actually paid to go to school, and in Portugal students generally pay only for their textbooks. As recently as 1997, all British students were offered a free university education. The second reason I was shocked was because of how many students came out to show their discontent with the government’s handling of its affairs. Imagine 10,000, let alone 50,000, students showing up for an event at the U of M that doesn’t have to do with football!
The last time something even remotely radical happened at our university was back in 2009 at convocation for the class of 2013. I was there (however unwillingly), and witnessed the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) banner drop from the upper deck box seats. Unfortunately, most of the crowd was made up of wide-eyed kids fresh from Faribault or Woodbury with not the slightest clue what the banners were referring to. Even with all of the literature that was dropped from the upper levels onto us incoming freshmen, most people that I talked to later were confused. Protests do sometimes occur on campus. On Oct. 7 of this year there was a protest against high tuition and worker layoffs, but the gathering of 100 people in front of Northrop Auditorium wasn’t exactly radical. It was but a blip on the radar for the greater university population, and no one cares about another protest out in front of a building. How about a sit-in, at least? Without highly organized coordination and support from groups across campus, we will do nothing of lasting importance at our university. At the same time, we need people to participate in these groups. Where have all our activists gone? We need to get people agitated again. No one enjoys taking out student loans and paying all the money he or she earns to the university, so why aren’t more people visibly upset? It is because we have become so apathetic that we barely give any struggle a passing glance. But this is our struggle, our university, our future. This isn’t some person on a street corner with a clipboard asking us if we have a minute for starving children or the Boundary Waters. If unorganized radical student groups with no sense of solidarity cannot help our cause, where else can we turn? Well, we have the Minnesota Student Association (MSA), our student government of sorts that is modeled after our state’s legislature and gets about as much done as a middle school student council. Any resolution that is passed is non-binding, which basically means the MSA has no real power in our uni-
versity’s system. According to its description on the U of M website, the council’s “principle events and programs include DEF and SEF Grants, the ‘Lend a Hand, Hear the Band’ Concert, Student Concern Forum, the Renter’s Survey, the Renter’s Guide, and community safety walks in addition to other events.” A community safety walk isn’t going to address my issues with tuition, and “Lend a Hand, Hear the Band” isn’t going to affect my disillusionment with the school’s high-paid administration. With a seemingly exhausted list of ways to produce change on campus, what’s an angry, radical student to do? We can look to Europe and Canada for examples. How did students in London get 50,000 people to show up for a march against the conservative party in power? How did French students coordinate university participation in last month’s nationwide strike? What made for such high student participation in the riot-protests in Greece this past spring? The answer is student unions. What I am talking about is completely different from the University of Minnesota’s own Coffman Union. In Europe or Canada a student union functions more like a labor union, representing a collective student voice that can put pressure on the administration or on the state to give into its demands. Instead of having a group of people that few people actually voted for play congress with the university president as “student representatives,” the union would be made up of us, your regular run-of-the-mill students. We would make decisions that affect our university life, and then, through direct actions, demand that our voice be heard. Such direct actions could include sit-ins, marches on the president’s office, or university-wide strikes—anything that would make the cash-cushioned regents turn their heads and shake in their robes. We need to make them understand what we can do together, and eventually they will give in. Bruinink’s regime will end next year, and the presumptive new President Eric Kaler, another old white guy, will take his place. Now is the time to change the direction of the university. It’s time to organize and put some power into our hands.
Students for a democratic society
Introduction by Maggie Foucault, Sophie Frank, Joe Kleinschmidt It seems like everyone these days is a “poor student” or a “starving artist” (or at least everyone from CLA), but that shouldn’t mean we have to stick to the standard trifecta of cheap Friday nights—studying, partying, and hanging out on the internet. There are tons of cheap things around town, from $3.50 Vietnamese sandwiches on Eat Street to student rush tickets at the Guthrie or Orchestra Hall, from Riverview Theatre ($2 movies on Tuesday nights) to Blue Door’s $2 taps. But what about living for free? We challenged Alex, our spanking new Cities Editor, to spend a weekend on the town without spending a dime. The rules: no out of pocket expenses (even if daddy’s picking up the tab), no lounging around at home, food at the back of the cupboards is fair game, but there’s no eating out (if it comes with a check) or trips to the grocery store, so pack a lunch. Free weekends can be done all over the city, not just on the free-food-filled frat row or on campus with help from generous student groups. Art museums all over the city offer free exhibits, regular exhibits at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Weisman are always free, and the Walker offers many special exhibits and events for free as well. Smaller galleries may not have as many exhibits as the big dogs, but they tend to be on the free side, like Burlesque of North America (1101 Stinson Blvd). During the holidays, many restaurants and venues offer free things in exchange for a non-perishable food item, something all of us college students have tucked away in our kitchen (refried beans, anyone?). Bryant Lake Bowl offers a free game of bowling for an edible donation to the Joyce Uptown Food Shelf, and Punch Pizza recently offered a free meal in exchange for a donation to Second Harvest. Many of these offers are one day only, so it is important to always be on the look out. Don’t let penny-pinching get in the way of a wonderful weekend. Be spontaneous, live in the moment, and always remember, in the words of R Kelly, “It’s the freakin’ weekend baby, I’m bouts to have me some FUN!”
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Photos by Alex Lauer
No Money, No Problems By Alex Lauer There are two things I find troubling about college students. Well, two things in particular. The first is that they complain about being broke but spend all of their hard-earned money (or their parental allowance in a lot of cases) on booze. The second is that they claim there is never anything to do but party, especially on campus. When I tell people that I don’t drink but always have the best weekends ever they either think that I’m rich or that I’m some weirdo. No, I don’t spend my weekends flying to exotic countries. I don’t spend them drinking Mountain Dew and playing World of Warcraft either. To show everyone that there are tons of amazing things to do, none of which include purchasing or consuming alcohol, I decided to document my adventures on the weekend of Nov. 12th. I also vowed not to spend a cent. Due to my sole class on Friday, I started my no-money, noproblems weekend Thursday night. Earlier in the week I heard that Scott West, one of the live painters from the band Cloud Cult, was exhibiting his work at the local art gallery Tarnish & Gold, and I decided to check it out. After a little research I found that the gallery was less than four miles from campus, and that on Thursday night it was holding a free screening of the new Cloud Cult documentary No One Said It Would Be Easy. After deciding that paying for gas or a bus fare would violate the main rule of the weekend, my bike became my method of transportation. After a rather picturesque night ride, the glowing Minneapolis skyline to my left almost the entire way, I pulled up into the driveway of what looked like a modern two-story garage built in the ’50s. I locked my bike and proceeded to open a door on the first floor, not entirely sure it was the right entrance. I walked into a warm, welcoming atmosphere where eccentric people were conversing in chairs, waiting for the film to begin, while others gazed at West’s engrossing abstract nature paintings. The funny thing was the people were just as interesting as the art. A moody girl with unkempt dreadlocks poking out of her black beanie had tucked herself into a couch as close to the screen as possible. A skinny, stolid young man with at least 10 facial piercings, three of them in his nose, was glaring at a chatty girl seated in front of him, boring holes in the back of her head. Another lone man sitting near the back, probably the oldest person there, was either homeless or had come from the film Machete 2 where he played Machete’s twin brother. The documentary was exponentially more polished and moving than I expected, definitely worth more than a lot of movies I have paid to see (Enter the Void, anyone?). The gallery owners were even nice enough to make popcorn for everyone who came, topping off the first of three free days. Friday night I heard about a Tau Kappa Epsilon grill-out from one of my friends. While an evening at a frat house may not appeal to everyone, the basic point was free food. There are
so many events on campus that offer free food as an incentive to come—CLA feedback panels, club meetings, religious gatherings—it’s almost a sin not to take advantage of them. So for dinner I had two free hot dogs. I don’t think I had ever truly appreciated hot-off-the-grill food until I ate it in 30-degree weather. Then it was off to Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church. Yes, I went to church on a Friday night, but it’s not what you think. Local bands Retribution Gospel Choir, Zoo Animal, and The Starfolk performed, turning the ornate sanctuary into an all-out loud, out-of-control rock venue. There were no prayers or plugs for people to join the congregation, and people from all walks of life were welcome to partake. It was even better than seeing a show at The Varsity or First Avenue, as most of the musicians were hanging around before and after their performance, talking with people as though they were just there for the show too. I even got the chance to speak with Holly Newsom, lead singer and guitarist of Zoo Animal. To be completely honest, I was a little apprehensive about seeking her out after she sent her last shrill notes reverberating throughout the hall, threw down her guitar, and strode offstage. Fortunately my apprehension was unfounded and she was incredibly nice. Saturday could have been a movie-marathon day, with the picturesque snow drifting past the window. I did start the day by watching Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince on TV, for obvious reasons, but I yearned for more. Apart from Harry Potter fever, the snow created an urge within me to bake homemade cookies, but I had to come up with a way to accomplish this without making a trip to the grocery store (and thus, spending money). First, I raided my kitchen. Second, I substituted random ingredients for ones listed in the recipe that I didn’t have, such as quick oats for flour, peanut butter for butter, and random candies for chocolate chips. These mutant cookies ended up being incredibly delicious, and were quickly devoured. That night I went to a 10-minute play festival put on by the U’s Xperimental Theatre in Rarig. The performances ranged from completely ridiculous, with encouraged audience participation, to grim, with the audience holding its breath. It showcased so much student talent that most outside of the theatre department never get to see. Unfortunately, Sunday had to be a study day (inherently costeffective), but I wasn’t sour, as the weekend started early, and I went to some of the most diverse and inspirational events yet this semester without even opening my wallet.
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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
by Jessica Bies
by Zach McCormick
By Alex Lauer
When Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was released in 2001, Harry Potter fans were treated to the cinematic eye candy they so desperately craved. The three leads, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, in addition to being appropriately pint-sized, seemed to fit their roles perfectly.
I gotta say, I was a bit disappointed in the lack of insanity at this Potter premiere. It might have been my choice of location. The AMC 15, situated in the heart of downtown Minneapolis’ “entertainment destination,” Block E, isn’t normally a place that brings “magical” to mind. But despite my humble surroundings, it was still difficult to shake the feeling of diminishing returns. I’ve been to several midnight Potter premieres and this was decidedly the most civil and un-dorky. Sure, there were a lot of people, but only about half of them were in costume and most were college students or older, leaving me wondering if Harry wasn’t growing fast enough to keep up with his core fan base.
I did some of the most intense and rewarding studying of this entire semester last Thursday. I was, on that ominously gray and cold day, brushing up on my spells, charms, jinxes, and hexes in preparation for the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. Being a devoted Harry Potter fan since my mom bought me the first book back in 1998, I wasn’t about to go to the second-to-last midnight premiere dressed as a Muggle.
What they lacked in theatrical skills was more than made up for with an apparent eagerness for the roles they played. Whether racing through the halls of the magical Hogwarts or battling fearsome trolls, fans were drawn in by the magic the three children brought to the set. Now, nine years, six movies and a new director later, Radcliffe, Grint and Watson are called upon once again to bring a little magic to the screen in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” the two-part installment that will become the longawaited finale to the Harry Potter theatrical series. A few things are different right from the outset. Gone are the glittering halls of Hogwarts. Gone is the adolescent camaraderie. Gone are the bubbly, enthusiastic children that graced the stage almost a decade ago. In their place are three young adults, on the run from their own ministry, the evil Lord Voldemort and even from themselves. Still battling the residual effects of the teenage angst that plagued them in movies three through six, Harry, Ron, and Hermione must come to terms with the fact that they are now almost completely on their own. One of the biggest obstacles the teens face now is not how to elude capture, but how to overcome the emotional baggage they have slowly accumulated over the course of the last several movies. The battle against Voldemort rages on, but it is a quieter battle than we are used to. Though The Deathly Hallows has its fair share of action scenes, the real focus is on how the three teens will manage to cope with their new lives. Whether or not they will be able to do so is a question left to be answered in part two of the movie, which will not come for another several months.
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That would be a shame, too, because this was the most interesting Potter film to date. The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 might have finally nailed the tricky balance between the series’ whimsical and dark sides, mostly by significantly easing up on the whimsy. The movie is relentlessly dark in a way that most Potters have shied away from in the past but manages to mostly avoid the overwhelming angst that permeated the last couple. Sure, Daniel Radcliffe’s facial expressions are still mostly in the pensively staring/brooding zone, but the big three shoulder their newfound acting responsibility with surprising maturity. Without the backdrop of Hogwarts, the film loses some of the series’ majestic vistas, but it also helps streamline The Deathly Hallows and remove a lot of the dumb-joke-and-sub-plot deadweight. What we’re left with is a lean Potter flick with more room for some pretty spectacular action sequences and fight scenes that feel compelling and dangerous for the first time. It appears Potter’s handlers have made a conscious effort for his movies to grow up with his audience, and it’s paid off, provided they can release the final one before we’re in our thirties.
I’m fortunate enough to have an identical twin brother, so of course we went dressed as Fred and George, the Weasley twins. Our accompanying wizards included our little brother as Ron Weasley and three others as Draco Malfoy, Lavender Brown, and Hermione Granger. Unfortunately, not as many people as I expected had dressed for the occasion. I feel this is because the people who originally grew up with the books are now old enough that they feel dressing up is below them, that they are too old. If you really think that, you might as well just say you’re too old for fun. As we were some of the most elaborately dressed, a kid wearing a cloak and wielding a video camera came over to us in line. He asked a series of questions related to the movie and the premiere. Hopefully I make it onto YouTube. As for the movie, I shouldn’t say much because my biggest pet peeve is people giving away spoilers, even though everyone should know what happens because they’ve read the books (you’ve all read the books, right?). Let me just say that I could have used another hour or two, but everything that was covered in the movie went beyond my expectations. I’m so glad that they have stuck with director David Yates, because he isn’t afraid to make these movies dark and more than a little disturbing. This isn’t the happy-go-lucky, semi-perilous film of the past. This is a story of an overwhelming evil and nightmarish force that has taken hold of the world, and three young students are the only glimmer of hope against it. This is some of the best storytelling the world has to offer.
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The Liberation of Conan O’Brien by Neale Torgrimson Conan O’Brien hasn’t been on air a whole lot these past few years. With the 2007-2008 writer’s strike, the period after Late Night and before The Tonight Show, and his exodus from NBC, it is safe to say that Conan has been off air lately more than he’s been on it. Plagued by low ratings and a rival host, Jay Leno, who never wanted to leave in the first place, Conan was forced out by NBC and forced to take a settlement (but. as getting screwed goes, you could do worse than settle for $32 million). After the settlement, Conan was contractually barred from television until September. Conan then set off on a 30-day comedy tour of the US and Canada titled The Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour. Shows usually consisted of Conan playing songs or going through a monologue, with celebrity guests making appearances. The tour swung through Minneapolis this May. While on tour, it was announced that O’Brien had accepted a spot on a new late night show on TBS, which would later be titled Conan. But after the long wait Conan is finally back on air. This is a pretty big deal for a lot of people our age. Growing up, Conan was ‘the’ late night show for me. Who else would celebrate Central Time Zone New Year’s? Yeah, Jay Leno was always occasionally funny and his “Headlines” bit was almost always a guaranteed laugh, but my heart was with Conan since I could stay up late enough to watch him. By the time I was in high school, posters of Conan’s state quarter skit (“Alabama: Now with Dentists) began to show up on lockers throughout the school, and impersonations of his 1864 baseball player were as common as quoting Ron Burgundy. So when Conan got promoted, only to be let go, it felt like Conan fans were let go too. But with Conan’s return, it seems like he’s in the right place: slightly inaccessible. When he was on Late Night, his time slot acted like a filter, as viewers not in on the joke went to bed. Watching Conan then was always about wanting to watch him, not watching his show just because it was on. So with Conan on TBS, it seems like the natural spot for him: far enough so those that don’t get his humor don’t have to turn the channel after the news, but accessible enough for those willing enough to press the 7 button on their remote. As far as comedic content went, Conan was more of the same. It did seem that Conan relied heavily upon skits that focused on his dismissal from NBC and his new home on basic cable. Jokes like “If this TBS thing doesn’t work out you can catch me on my show on VH1 called Coning for Love,” or a bit where British comedian Ricky Gervais continually shot clips of congratulations and condolences for O’Brien “just in case”. To some extent it was a little tiresome to hear NBC jokes every
night, especially since most of his jokes at the tail end of The Tonight Show dealt with the same thing. But I could hardly blame the guy for still dwelling on it. You could tell during his last few episodes at NBC that he was losing his dream job and that the whole ordeal had upset him greatly. It seems with time the NBC jokes will become less and less frequent, as newer, more pertinent news comes up. Honestly, some of my favorite parts of the first week’s worth of Conan weren’t skits by O’Brien at all. In the first episode he showed a hilarious Taiwanese computer generated news re-enactment (you may have seen one covering the Tiger Woods story) complete with bong-smoking viewers and the ‘self pleasuring Bear,’ who, unlike the real masturbating bear, actually spanked a monkey, leading this viewer to believe that something was lost in translation. Another bit where Conan donned a Nixon-like mask of himself labeled “ex-Talk Show Host” was also very funny. But some of the better skits made fun of TBS and the basic cable format. A skit where all-stars of basic cable (including Bruce Jenner, a Hoarder, and a few of Deadliest Catch’s Alaskan King Crabs) welcomed Conan to TBS was particularly funny. It does seem like the TBS jokes will be fertile comedic ground for some time to come and won’t thin out like the NBC jokes that have been told before if only for the reason that they’re just being told. But it doesn’t seem like TBS will be such a bad place for Conan. A few of his guests (Tom Hanks, Jon Hamm, and Michael Cera) didn’t have anything upcoming to promote. No shows, no movies, no pet projects: they were just there. Second-tier guests like the comedienne Charlyne Yi would not have appeared on The Tonight Show because the of the emphasis for higher ratings. A guest like Charlyne Yi likely wouldn’t have attracted the audiences major television would require, but with Conan on cable it seems that viewers are coming to him, regardless of whether or not his guests are megastars. So it seems like Conan is simply putting on air the people he wants to put on air, and that’s a good thing. In his first episode, Conan jammed with his backup band (now sadly sans Max Weinberg) and rocker Jack White, with whom he performed with when he made his Nashville tour stop. The skit where Conan interviewed TBS’ standards and practices guy highlighted his comedic nature and his returned sense of comfort. He asked what was okay to say on basic cable (“Manaconda” and “Taking Grandma to Applebee’s” were deemed acceptable), showing he was happy being slightly raunchier than the Jay Leno crowd wanted when he took over last year. It just seems like O’Brien, while no longer at his dream job, is more comfortable in his new spot and that should make for good late night television again. Troy Holden
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Call of Duty: Black Ops by Neale Torgrimson
Duenday By Zach McCormick
How do you follow one of the highest-selling video games of all time? Breaking the single day sales record is a start, which is exactly what Call of Duty: Black Ops, the latest game in the first person shooter franchise, did. While it was released a year after 2009’s Modern Warfare 2, Black Ops is not a sequel. It may play similar to prior games, but its Cold War setting is a first for the series, and the change in setting does wonders for the single player campaign. An interrogation session involving the game’s main character, voiced by Avatar’s Sam Worthington (Ed Harris and Gary Oldman also voice characters), leads to blurred memories of covert missions, ranging from the Bay of Pigs to Soviet gulags to
Vietnam. The story doesn’t make for great literature, but it is fun and a noticeable improvement over last year’s mess.
It’s 2010, people. Slug’s pushing 40 and most of Doomtree’s away on tour so much they’re starting to stretch the meaning of “local rap crew”. Heiruspecs are seemingly on that “we play shows when we feel like it” type of hiatus and the Twin Cities recently lost one of its strongest rappers to a tragic and untimely death. Is it any wonder there seems to be a wellspring of fresh faces in our hip-hop scene lately?
“Matt’s Cool Raps” to environmental politics on “What’s Happening,” featuring the venerable Unicus from Kanser. The two MC’s have a precocious talent for weaving their verses around one another’s and both seem to approach the mic with a smile and a mutual chemistry that belies their offstage friendship. In2 even proves he’s got a pipes by singing a few of the album’s hooks, like on “Both Sides of the Spectrum”, the record’s for-your-sorrows cut.
Duenday’s one of the young groups that seems hungry to fill that void, showcasing a laid- back, old-school flow over lush backpack rap beats that they make in house. Rappers In2wishin and Initial MC crafted this self-titled debut while still in college (Initial’s a U of M boy) but the duo aren’t serving up any open-mic night rhymes here. Duenday have a charming, slightly goofy steez that’s firmly grounded in their Southside hippie-hoodrat lifestyle and write tracks that range from lightweight house-party bangers like
On Stage at Spring Awakening By Leigh Anne Stein
After eight Tony Awards and only four years on Broadway, the coming-of-age musical Spring Awakening came to Minneapolis for the second time on November 6 and 7. It was a short run at the Orpheum Theatre, but a full audience proved the show lost none of its appeal and popularity. An adaptation of Franz Wedekind’s 1891 play, the musical is a collaboration of folk-rock music from Duncan Sheik and script by Steven Shater. The story focuses on themes like sex, child abuse, homosexuality, conformity, and abortion, making it quite a controversial piece. I’ve seen shows from both the floor seats and nosebleed balconies in the Orpheum before. This time, I was one of the lucky few students seated onstage. Experiencing Spring Awakening’s musical numbers from an ontological perspective was definitely eye-opening. I recommend it. The actors will touch you, flash their chest in your face, and jump onto furniture inches from where you sit. Performing the same choreography on the same
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However, most players will be playing Black Ops online. The new multiplayer brings in new features like a currency system, which can be used to by new gear or be risked in wager matches. The multiplayer does seem more suited for casual gamers, as the pacing, while still frenetic, isn’t as chaotic or unforgiving as previous entries. A ridiculous, but entertaining zombie mode (featuring a shotgun-wielding JFK) is thrown in for good measure. While its annual presence is beginning to become a little tiring, Black Ops is a terrific game that lives up to its popularity.
“Bounce”, the track that introduced most of us to Duenday, is a great entry point to the group: it’s a confident and skillful identity statement with a chill soul beat and great teamwork on the hook. In other words, it’s exactly the kind of hot single that these talented young up-and-comers need to make their mark on the local hip-hop scene.
stage set-up from the original show, the actors have practiced their steps enough times to know not to drop a prop on your head. Or accidentally roundhouse-kick your face during audience favorites, like the high-energy number “Totally Fucked.” The young cast touring with this season’s production did a fantastic job building the momentum and emotion of every scene and number, all with a minimalist stage set-up. Short blackouts and spotlights left little room for error during scene changes. The hidden chorus singers were a great surprise. Masquerading as student attendees seated on stage, understudies pulled out microphones and joined the chorus partway through the production. I don’t think audience members will look at their neighbor the same again. The actors poured sweat, spit, and effort (trust me, lots of spit) into a flawless production and deservedly drew tears from the crowd. Brava!
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3 Artists You Should Know About by jon schober
THE RADIO DEPT. This Swedish trio has been around for 15 years making shoegazey pop songs, though it’s not surprising if the name doesn’t ring a bell as American press has yet to give these guys much attention, despite their overwhelming popularity in Europe. These guys make an appearance on the soundtrack to 2006’s Marie-Antoinette; while you may have hated the movie, you have to admit the music was pretty great. The Radio Dept.’s new album, Clinging to a Scheme, was released earlier this year to unanimous praise, and the band has already put out a new EP as well as various singles. They are literate and sweet, but not too mild to be political, blatantly critiquing the Swedish election system in one of their singles. My life has been made musically complete by the recent announcement that they are coming to the 7 th St. Entry for a special show in February—an unusual Midwest appearance. The Radio Dept.’s stateside tours are generally relegated to the East Coast, and primarily New York City. Expect their show in Minneapolis to be sold out in an instant and snatch up your tickets while you have the chance. It will probably be another 10 years before The Radio Dept. return to this corner of the Midwest.
BRIAN ENO Brian Eno is well known for his extremely long proper name (Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno), and boasts a similarly lengthy music career. He has been making music for 40 years, yet somehow manages to sound as fresh as ever in his newest release, Small Craft On a Milk Sea. Having already produced a spectrum of artists ranging from David Bowie to Coldplay, from Slowdive to U2, his own solo work is often overlooked. This hopefully won’t be the case with his newest effort, which features a notable collaboration with Jon Hopkins, fresh off a date at the Southern Theater with Tim Hecker (a blissed out and extremely loud ambient drone show). The album is divided into two main parts, half electronic tunes, and half rock-infused, both of which were improvised, putting all of us aspiring, but slightly tone-deaf musicians to shame.
WEEKEND When Slumberland Records releases a new album (most frequently without prior press warning), you know it is going to be good. This is how we were introduced to The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, Crystal Stilts, and now, Weekend, a hazy garage rock effort toeing the line of total punk. The album is virtually indecipherable except for some driving compositional melodies, which, however repetitive, manage to keep you engaged and bobbing your head. With concert dates already lined up supporting Japandroids and A Place To Bury Strangers, in adition to their prior releases on the venerable Mexican Summer label (where Best Coast and Real Estate got their starts), it won’t be long before three guys are headlining shows.
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The Most Motivated Cult Ever By Alex Lauer
If there were ever a time to become a fan of Cloud Cult, it would be now. The group, led by songwriter and frontman Craig Minowa, is seeing all its hard work come to fruition. I say “group” instead of “band” because Cloud Cult defines itself through more than simply musical means. If you’ve ever been to one of their concerts, you know what I mean: it’s impossible to experience one of their live shows without noticing the two painters onstage channeling inspiration from that night onto canvas. The group’s newest album, Light Chasers, was officially released in stores on September 14th and they have been touring ever since. If you have been unable to attend a live show, there is still the possibility of viewing some of these vibrant paintings. Scott West, one of the onstage painters, is currently exhibiting his work at the Tarnish & Gold gallery in Northeast Minneapolis under the title STILL. In true Cloud Cult fashion, West is unable to fit into the mold of a typical gallery show, saying that it will also be part performance art. He will be present during open hours at the gallery, painting even more work and rearranging the pieces that are already in place. If two artistic mediums weren’t enough, a special screening of the Cloud Cult documentary, created by West and John Paul Burgess, was held at Tarnish & Gold on Thursday, November 11th with both artists present. West’s work within STILL is neither disappointing nor revolutionary, but it is very accessible and interesting. When speaking about his work, he has said that he takes characters and themes imagined while onstage during Cloud Cult sets
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and brings them into his studio to evolve. The natural world, a common theme within Minowa’s songs, is taken to another level through West’s seamless combination of noticeable characters with visually engaging abstraction. Two portraits that hang side-by-side are the obvious standouts. One, titled “I feel like the rain,” is of a man’s face (a self-portrait?), depicted in colors conveying dark warmth and concern: everything below the nose is melted and dissolved. Its partner, “And if my eyes were on my back,” is cold and melancholy, presented to the audience through the cool tones and tortured expression of a woman’s face, but it melts upwards instead. As this is an evolving show, by now there could be even more compelling pieces such as these. Since I decided to peruse these works of art on the same night the Cloud Cult documentary, No One Said It Would Be Easy, was being screened, I had the chance to see West and John Paul Burgess, the directors, give an introduction. I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a more appropriate introduction to anything in my entire life. John spoke of his first tour documenting the group and how it ended up being nothing like he expected. In particular, he acknowledged his association of rock tours with late-nights, non-stop partying, and heroin, but admitted, “It wasn’t like that at all...everyone went to bed at nine.” Then, in his conclusion, he shared an oddity about the production, “There was a strangely emotional push to finish at the end. I’m curious to see how it will hold up.” In a moment of unimaginably perfect timing, half of the tape holding the makeshift screen to the ceiling immediately peeled off, sending it crashing down behind the director. It was quickly repaired and stayed intact throughout the film, but it seemed like an ominous sign at the time. Now, I’ve been a fan of Cloud Cult ever since my brother burned me a copy of The Meaning of 8, but, to put it nicely, their music videos have always been sub-par, especially for one of their most popular songs, “Chemicals Collide.” That video is a mix between a screensaver and Video Production 101 effects. Needless to say, I didn’t have high expectations for this film. I nonchalantly ate a bag of free popcorn, provided by the gallery owners, as I watched a typical testimonial of
people talk about how they were affected by their music. This may have been a good opening had it not been used by every band who has ever made a promotional video. I’ve heard you always get hit when you’re at your most vulnerable, and this proved that theory. The depth at which Burgess got into Minowa’s soul was as inspiring as it was heartwrenching, exposing him both at his most proud and his most tortured. That’s what it was about mostly: Minowa and how he began and developed everything that is Cloud Cult, building this family around him. The format was an amalgamation, taking traditional elements of documentary (interviews, tour footage, narrated pictures) and mixing them with music video, science class lesson, and animation elements. This allowed for the odd, typical Cloud Cult flavor to make a unique appearance without contaminating the raw emotion.
John spoke of his first tour documenting the band and how it ended up being nothing like he expected [...] ‘everyone went to bed at nine. As for Light Chasers, it is a concept album in which every song deliberately flows from one to another, creating a story line from “The Mission: Unexplainable Stories (Journey to the Light, Pt. 1)” all the way to “Arrival: There’s So Much Energy in Us.” Some may find this format intriguing, but many people will undoubtedly think something along the lines of, “So this means it’s some experimental music I have to listen to all together every time?” No. Despite the many critics who have taken this stance, most of the songs on the album can stand alone. I would even say that some of them are the best that Cloud Cult has ever created, such as “Today We Give Ourselves to the Fire,” “Running with the Wolves,” and “There’s So Much Energy in Us.” I urge you, whether you first heard of Cloud Cult long ago or just this year, to at least look into some of these artistic endeavors: this album, documentary, or art show. I dare you to not feel a connection.
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Superchunk w/Times New Viking @ First Avenue, $18, 7:30pm
Andrew Bird w/ Alpha Consumer @ First Avenue, $30, 18+, 6pm
Gay Witch Abortion w/ TV Ghost and I Dead Meat @ Turf Club, $8, 21+, 9pm
12/4 - 12/5
Mason Jennings w/ Sarah Harmer @ First Avenue, $22 advance, $25 door, 18+, 6pm
Broken Bells @ First Avenue, 18+, 8pm
12/8 Dark Dark Dark and Brute Heart @ Cedar Cultural Center, all ages, 7pm White Hinterland, Claps, and Elite Gymnastics @ 7th Street Entry, 18+, 8pm
Doomtree Blowout VI @ First Avenue, all ages, 6pm
Trash Film Debauchery presents Monster Dog (Starring Alice Cooper) @ the Turf Club, Free, 9pm Radio Kâ€™s Girl Germs presents My So-Called Life episodes @ Red Stag Supperclub, Free, 9pm
Immortal Jellyfish By Carter Haaland Good ol’ Benjamin Franklin once said, “The only things certain in life are death and taxes.” Modern technology has yet to defy this statement but a minuscule little jellyfish may be proving Mr. Franklin wrong—dead wrong. The Turritopsis nutricula has come to be known as the immortal jellyfish. This little hydrozoan has the ability to revert back to its polyp form after becoming sexually mature, essentially restarting its life cycle. It is able to do this through the cell development process called transdifferentiation, which alters the differentiated state of cells and transforms them into completely different, new cells. Scientific studies have confirmed the specimen’s ability to restart its life and also found no limitations on the amount of times the jellyfish is able to do this, rendering the creature theoretically immortal. Although under perfect conditions this Samson-esque creature could potentially live on and on and on, most Turritopsis nutricula eventually fall victim to the standard hazards of ocean dwelling, such as being eaten by predators or disease. When a Turritopsis nutricula has passed its embryonic stage and is released from its mother, it eventually settles on a sta-
tionary object such as a rock. At this stage, it is transformed into a polyp and begins to grow multiple, identical polyps until it forms a colony. The colony of polyps then begins to grow many horizontal grooves. The grooves eventually mature and break free from the colony as free-swimming jellyfish. Once a jellyfish has reproduced, it starts the process over. The umbrella reverts itself, the tentacles get reabsorbed, and a new colony of polyps begin to take shape. It’s like getting married, having kids, and then going back to college to find a new mate to have babies with. The jellyfish is believed to have originated in the Caribbean but has now spread throughout most of the world’s tropical oceans. It’s a tiny bell-shaped creature with a maximum diameter of 4.5 millimeters and is typically as tall as it is wide. Young specimens have eight tentacles that are evenly spaced out around its edges and adult specimens have as many as 90 tentacles. Don’t go burning your wills just yet, as it seems Franklin’s assertion will still be applicable to humans for the time being. None of the work done by marine biologists and geneticists has found any sort of way to bring the cell recreation ability
Wii Dildo Attachment Starts New Wave of Long-Distance Relationships By Maggie Foucault Until recently, the Nintendo Wii video game system was the newest technological addition to the American nuclear family. Children, parents, and even grandparents would gather around the sleek system to watch their relatives flap like a bird in order to guide a computerized, chickensuited avatar to a goal, swivel their hips to move virtual hula hoops, and jerk their bodies to steer cars. Now, thanks to Germany (of course), the Wii has graduated from the familial state of pre-adolescence and moved straight into adulthood. Scientists at Bauhaus-University Weimar in Germany have developed, according to their website, the “first body-massaging device, that can use motion for stimulation,” or a dildo attachment for the Wii. Known as OIOO, the Wii dildo is a device with capabilities far beyond what can be seen by the naked eye. No more will society be subjected to movies lamenting the horrors of the longdistance relationship (I’m looking at you, Justin Long). No more will lonely nerds have only their right (or left) hand to
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of the Turritopsis nutricula to the human race. Sadly, our understanding of this rare and bizarre creature will not yet allow us to cheat death.
Scientific studies have confirmed the specimen’s ability restart its life and also found no limitations on the amount of times the jellyfish is able to do this, rendering the creature theoretically immortal. The process by which the jellyfish transforms its cells and “starts over” has not been observed in nature nor have we developed a way to distinguish a newly spawned polyp from a jellyfish that has recently reverted back to polyp form. The process is so thorough and so instantaneous that it prohibits us from being able to estimate the age of a jellyfish that has perhaps lived many lives.
keep them company. No longer will tech-savvy lovers be at a loss when cyber sex loses its appeal. The OIOO has broken the last barrier to a truly global society; using Skype, the OIOO can recognize the motions one user is making with their dildo-equipped device and replicate the vibrations on a different user’s wiimote on the other side of the world.
No more will lonely nerds have only their right (or left) hand to keep them company. OIOO is not the only wiibrator on the market; a company called Mojowijo has a similar device that is currently in the beta-testing phase. Mojowijo promises on its website that the wiibrator will be ready by the 2010 holiday season. Both devices have similar designs: a long, cylindrical attachment for one remote, and a similar attachment for the other remote with a conveniently placed hole in the end, designed for the male par-
ticipant. The Mojowijo is gaining a surprising mass-market popularity and was featured in widely circulating magazines such as Wired, San Francisco Weekly, and French Elle. The possibilities arising from the development of such a product are endless. Repurposing wiimotes for sex is only the beginning; cell phones, laptops, even normal vibrators could all be repurposed or redesigned for erotic stimulation. Programs like iTunes could be integrated so as to change songs as the tempo of the vibrations increase or decrease; pay-shows via web camera could use the remotes to add a physical aspect. The use of a wiimote for sexual stimulation is really not so surprising. As technology has developed, so has pornography. What do you think the first camera with a focusable lens was used for? Film cameras? How about the vibrate setting on your Blackberry, in a pinch? Even in ancient times, after paper was invented it was quickly used for the dissemination of pornography. If one thing is true about the human race, it is that any new technology can be sexualized.