Almost (YOUTUBE) Famous p. 9-11 30 Days of Biking p. 4
vol. 13 | issue 12 May 6 - May 19
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©2013 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 the students of the University of Minnesota. The Wake is published with support from Generation Progress/Center for American Progress (online at www.genprogress.org).
Production Production Manager
Sondra Vine, Eric Berry, Kelsey Schwartz, Brittany Long
Hologramarama p.6 Yeezus as Lord & Savior p.6
3 Reviews p. 7
Web Editor Sam Gordon
Business Manager Cooper Henckel
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30 Days of Biking p. 4
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The Case for an Open-Sourced NSA p. 5
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Almost (YouTube) Famous p. 9-11
Online Editor Lauren Cutshall
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Distributors Shawna Stennes Morgan Jensen Sara Glesne
This Issue Photographers Sam Lindsay, Kelcie McKenney Illustrators Sam Lindsay, Peter Mariutto, Lianna Matt, Kelsey Schwartz, Camille Westfall Contributing Writers Joseph Buchholz, Lauren Cutshall, Kristen Erickson, Sara Glesne, Aidan Hutt, Brittany Long, Haley Madderom, Christina Maples, Lianna Matt, Kayla McCombs, Kelcie McKenney, Alex Nelson, Abigail Linn, Rommel, Sam Schaust, Nick Theis, Alex Van Abbema, Kristen Wangsness
Well, Wakies, it’s been swell. Better than swell, actually. Amazing, life changing, mind-blowing, and other words you’ll find in Buzzfeed’s SEO tags. But for me, they aren’t clickbait. They 100 percent true. This year The Wake accomplished everything I wanted it to, and then some. We interviewed the infamous Gandalf cosplayer; themed an entire issue around food and another around comic books; featured an adorable kitten on the cover; and reminded everyone on campus how much they actually miss Mike Gould. The “and then some” I’m talking about is everyone who makes The Wake possible. This year we somehow managed to have the biggest and best group of staff freelance writers and illustrators I’ve seen in my time here—and going forward, I know it is only going to get bigger and better.
Of course, The Wake wouldn’t be possible without the people who read it, either. It’s an incredible experience to be able to bring stories that matter to people who care about them. It’s also incredible when people who care about stories that aren’t being told come to The Wake to make sure they’re heard. One of the best things you can do in your college career—as a reader, or a writer, or a reader who is interested in writing—is to join The Wake. Show up to a meeting, or stay for the whole year; it's up to you. We're here to tell your stories as you need to tell them, and we depend on you to help us tell the stories people need to hear. And after three swell, amazing, mindblowing years, I just have to say: thank you for the stories. Alyssa Bluhm Editor-in-Chief
Cities 30 Days of Biking
It may seem strange that Minneapolis is consistently at the forefront of the top-bicycling cities, considering the arctic climate, but events like 30 Days of Biking keep cyclists going.
By Christina Maples
But why would one choose April for 30 Days of Biking? Why not some summer month where riding is always beautiful? One explanation is that the idea happened in March and the next month was April.
Another gem that makes Minneapolis a top-cycling city The multitude of community bike shops, greenways, cycling lanes, and biker cafes only begin to reflect the immense cycling culture that exists here in Minneapolis. To celebrate and encourage this, April is deemed 30 Days of Biking—a simple concept that started just four years ago by a couple of locals, inspired by a similar event called 30 Days of Yoga. Individuals of all cycling abilities are encouraged to pledge to bike for 30 days and share their experiences through social media. You can catch all the action by searching #30daysofbiking or following @30daysofbiking on Twitter. With the support of sponsors such as the Red Stag Supper Club, Recovery Bike Shop, and Re-Cycle, Minneapolis cyclists put together a variety of group rides over the course of last month. Just to name a few, there was a yoga crawl ride, a tour de breweries, a Thursday social, a Thai feast nite ride, and a pink moon ride followed by a bonfire. This year there were a total of 6,974 pledges from all around the world. For every 30 pledges, a child received a bike via Free Bikes 4 Kids. Aaron Smith got started leading a ride called Fleche de L’aube, French for the arrow of dawn. This ride started at 6 a.m. every Saturday morning at the Dunn Brothers on East Lake Street and ended at a local breakfast joint.
Individuals of all cycling abilities are encouraged to pledge to bike for 30 days and share their experiences through social media This month will be the marker of the one-year anniversary of the Fleche de L’aube. Smith designed this ride so that people with busy day schedules could have the opportunity to get out and ride at least once a week. It’s designed to be at a slower, easier pace for those who aren’t jumping at the opportunity to put in an 80-miler at 6 a.m. on a Saturday. As his blog describes, “We ride or change flats or drink coffee or bullshit for two hours, whichever comes first.”
If you can ride every day in a Minnesota April, embracing each weather condition that Mother Nature decides to throw at us, you can ride all year ‘round Smith said the best part about the event is that it breaks down the two extremes that most adult cyclists get put into: “The Lance Armstrong” or the “Lost my License.”
The alternative, though, is that if you can ride every day in a Minnesota April, embracing each weather condition that Mother Nature decides to throw at us, you can ride all year round, as you’ve probably experienced a snow storm or two, and some crazy wind, rain storms, and sunshine. “What’s nice about 30 Days of Biking is that it encourages individuals that may not be the typical ‘cyclist’ to give the cycling lifestyle a try” Smith said. “It’s a positive impact on our road culture for sure and I believe it helps promote a healthier way of living all around.”
It opens the doors of the biking community to show that it is an activity that can be enjoyed by anyone, for whatever their reason, and to whatever degree suits their lifestyle. “The Fleche is a good example of this,” Smith said. “We’re faster than perhaps your typical 30 Days ride, but slower than the typical spandex roadie ride. It has an emphasis on food and community as opposed to going out and getting the hard work done.”
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VOICES The Case for an Opensourced NSA By Nick Theis
Oppenheimer’s Little Boy and the rest of his children were menaces. I mean the atom bombs. Orwell had some bad kids too. I’m not sure, but I think James Clapper, Director of the National Intelligence agency, is one of them, maybe even the Big Brother of Orwell’s whole family—the cult of surveillance—that is, the NSA. These military technologies—nuclear weapons and mass surveillance—have a lot in common. Not just their potency, their unwieldy size, and Plutonian deeds, but their top-secret inception, their disclosure, and pursuant adaptation to the spheres of the civilian technocrats. Leaks by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden provided the world the first glimpses of the National Security Agency’s highly secretive agenda and capacity. After these disclosures Snowden was charged with various federal crimes under the Espionage Act. It may be worth noting that similar charges of conspiracy to commit espionage were brought against Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in the 1950s for giving information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union. The U.S. government put the Rosenbergs to death in 1953 for this crime. And although Snowden is largely, and rightly, viewed as a whistleblower while the Rosenbergs are generally thought of as communist spies, the witch hunt that the Obama administration has brought onto Snowden does make him something like a living Rosenberg. And at any rate, NSA drag-net surveillance is a modern Manhattan Project, shrouded in total secrecy, criminal on a global scale—another military expropriation of a crowning scientific achievement. A nuke will always be a nuke. But when an atom cracks like a coconut, it’s either blowing up a city or powering it. That is to say Oppenheimer’s children, had they not been raised into a culture of war, may not have turned out so rotten; nuclear energy may never be perfect (cf. Chernobyl, or its sister city Fukashima, for further explanation), but nuclear weaponry will always be “death, the destroyer of worlds,” as it reads in the Bhagavad Gita, (cf. Hiroshima, and the Castle Bravo Incident for more info).
Likewise, dragnet surveillance will always be dragnet surveillance. But now that at least the tip of the NSA iceberg has been exposed to the American public, what are we the people going to do with it? Should we shut it down? Recycle its parts? Or should we leave it running, but open-source its software, democratize the facility, and transform it into a collective humanitarian project, like the International Space Station? The analysis of NSA metadata may one day provide the foundation for a scientific study of information flow in human populations. The transformation, diffusion, and cycling of information that exists within the human sphere, the politics of our socio-cultural economy, and its mysterious parallels to biological systems—ecological, molecular, and neural—could at long last be analyzed as positive science. We finally have the technologies to study human society in the same scientific tradition as we study, for example, the brain. Technology like the MRI, which allows us to view 3D renderings of living, thinking human brains, are not unlike the NSA’s apparatuses, which can allow us to, in a way, view living, thinking human society in real time. It is worth noting that the government is not the only one with this potential. The private sector has this capacity as well. Palantir technologies has developed data surfacing software that is just as nasty as the NSA’s, and does much of the same stuff that we know the government does. It can
take massive databases and produce relationships wherever you wish to look. But this software goes for a million dollars. Whether this technology is proprietary or a government secret does not matter. In each case the consumers or victims have been deprived of their right to know. This is why opensourcing the NSA (or Palantir, for that matter matter) is not just a good idea: it is fundamental for democracy in the Age of Information. Hackers have tried to keep up with these software developments, but the problem is not that simple. In reality it depends not just on who owns the software, but who owns the data. Without free data, even free software is useless. Information does not flow freely online. Facebook owns your Facebook posts, and when you post, Comcast owns the infrastructure, and Verizon owns the FCC. This all comes back to that enduring platitude: “nature or nurture?” Were Oppenheimer and Orwell’s offspring somehow doomed to be evil? Are nuclear capabilities and global metadata collection intrinsically corrupt? Or is our society responsible for distorting the great scientific and technological possibilities of civilization? The answer is of course that it is a venomous combination of nature and nurture that creates demon children, and it is entirely within our collective capacity to rehabilitate these monsters for the good of the human race.
Music has never been so digitized By: Sam Schaust
It seems the music industry never runs short on ideas to reinvent itself, whether it be going from hard copy to digital, or fumbling on how to tackle sharing music. These days, visual artists—like the team who downsized Brad Pitt into a man-baby named Benjamin Button—are crafting what the industry calls digital resurrections. Everyone else in the world calls them holograms. As we all remember, like Jesus on Easter, Tupac was resurrected not long ago, and he awed the world with his sensational realism. Despite being composed of only light bouncing off a Mylar screen, Snoop Dogg and their audience truly believed an icon lived another day. Recent happenings say Holo-‘Pac isn’t alone in this trend either, as Janelle Monae and M.I.A. pulled off the world’s first hologram-enhanced duet earlier this April. At launch parties
Yeezus as Lord and Savior Rappers and Religion By: Kristen Wangsness
“I am a god, I am a god,” Kanye claims in multiple tracks on his album Yeezus. To most, this statement, as well as the album title and religious iconography utilized in his performances on the Yeezus tour are simply comparisons, is not meant to be taken literally. But a small group of people are taking these declarations to the next level, putting Kanye on a pedestal of worship with a religion called Yeezianity. Yeezians want you to know that you’re a god, Kanye’s a god, everyone you meet is a god. They’re dishing out divinity like Oprah giving away cars. Where Christianity teaches to love others as Jesus loves you, Yeezianity promotes loving yourself as Kanye loves Kanye. Is Yeezianity a real religion? Maybe, maybe not—even its creator, who wishes to remain anonymous, admitted that Yeezian-
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for the Audi A3, Monae was beamed into New York to drop verse on M.I.A.’s “Bad Girls,” while simultaneously in Los Angeles M.I.A. rapped on Monae’s live performance of her song “Q.U.E.E.N.” Now I’m sure some of you naysayers may be thinking, “What has the world become when a person can no longer pitch a full water bottle into Justin Bieber’s baby face?” or “What about random onstage hiccups? They are like a novelty to the show, and without them Ashlee Simpson would probably still be singing.” If these are the only downsides you see, imagine this: soon there could be an all-hologram lineup at Coachella headlined by The Beatles, Bob Marley, Nirvana, and motha-punching Mozart. It’d be a mistake to think this newfangled technology is rare to see, only shown in a galaxy far, far away. In fact, Lady Gaga just tweeted about the newest opener to her tour, saying, “My favorite digital pop star Hatsune Miku is opening
the ARTPOP Ball from May 6-June 3!” Who is Hatsune Miku, you say? She so happens to be Japan’s über-popular cyber celebrity made famous by hit songs that are entirely generated through a singing software called Vocaloid. Love ‘em or knock ‘em, these digital resurrections are pioneering musical performance. Although holograms are technically a step down from what Jurassic Park was, neither lacks in being a soulless animatronic creation. For now we’ll stick to gauzy light shows over lifelike robots. In the end, the future of live music is dead, and now it glimmers and swings to a beat while lacking a heartbeat of its own.
ity is currently more of a mildly satirical concept than an organized religion, though it could potentially grow into something more. While Yeezianity is still in its baby stages, the bridge between rappers and religion was built long before Yeezus. KRS-One wrote a book titled The Gospel of Hip-Hop. Tupac is sometimes referred to as Black Jesus. Last year, Eminem released a single titled “Rap God.” Religious comparisons are often controversial, as they are problematic if taken at face value. To idealize problematic human beings in a state of religious worship is to excuse their flaws and to sanctify aspects of their character that shouldn’t necessarily be celebrated. However, religious terms and iconography incorporated in rap music are not necessarily signs of a divinity complex or idolization. The stories and symbols are so widely known that rappers can use religious references to tell their own stories in an easily recognized parable. In relation to Black Jesus, Tupac explained, “I’m not saying I’m Jesus but I’m saying we go through that type of thing every day. We don’t part the Red Sea, but we walk through the
hood without getting shot. We don’t turn water to wine, but we turn dope fiends and dope heads into productive citizens of society. We turn words into money. What greater gift can there be.” Maybe like Tupac’s Black Jesus, Yeezianity isn’t so much about building Kanye up as an idol, so much as using recognizable symbols to allow the listener to see something notable, if not divine, within themselves. Kanye’s declarations of divinity are intended to inspire self-confidence in his fans, “if you’re a Kanye West fan, you’re not a fan of me, you’re a fan of yourself. I’m just the espresso.” Yeezianity is on point about one thing: even Kanye wants you to love yourself as Kanye loves Kanye.
3REVIEWS Lana Del Rey
By Alex Nelson
Ideas about the brain, social justice explored
A Success at Northrop Auditorium By Abigail Linn Rommel
Despite announcing a massive national tour (that sold out in just minutes) and teasing her second full-length LP, Lana Del Rey has kept most of her new material under tight lock and key. Fans haven’t seen more than an album title (electrically pegged Ultraviolence) and a few rumored leaks that show feeble promise for what is to come, given the singer’s ridiculously large cornucopia of unreleased recordings. That is all until she released the slow-burning first single from the new album: “West Coast.” Del Rey announced in February that she’d be working with Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys producing her new album. “West Coast,” our first taste of this collaboration, has the band’s signature blend of subtle funk and angst written all over it. Tense plucks on guitar strings are balanced by drawn out synth reverberations. It sounds like the song is slowly being washed ashore by the tide. I imagine listening to the song while relaxing on a swaying beachside hammock that looks like it’s under the Kelvin Instagram filter. It’s beautiful for sure, but something doesn’t sit right. The verses are tighter, yet more unsettling than the lush, dark sounds found on Born to Die. This time, instead of “Dancing in the Pale Moonlight,” she sings, “I can see my baby swinging/ His parliament is on fire and his hands are up.” I get the feeling she brought Auerbach something like “Off to the Races” and he worked his gritty Black Keys magic to create this scorching ballad.
This year, TEDxUMN hosted its spring event at the recently reopened Northrop Auditorium. TED is an internationally renowned presentation series. It stands for “Technology, Entertainment and Design.” TEDxUMN is the University of Minnesota’s local extension, which organizes programming to spread “TED-like ideas.” On a rainy Sunday afternoon in April, TEDxUMN members witnessed a room filled with audience members greater than original ticket sales had prepared them for.
Savages Breathe Carolina By Brittany Long Any idea what would result from a mix of the upbeat rhythms of electronica, the catchy lyrics of pop, the heaviness of rock, the smoothness of R&B, and the angst of screamo? Well, a lot, actually, but there is really no other way to describe Breathe Carolina and their new album Savages released on April 15, 2014. While a description like that could lead to a weird mash-up of Usher, Fall Out Boy, and Black Veil Brides, Breathe Carolina’s Savages seems to bring something new to the table. To be more specific, Breathe Carolina seems to have an overlying mixed sound of synth-based beats, melodic chorus, and (there seems to be no other way to say this) occasional harmonious screaming. Anyway, on to the specifics of the album. “Shadows” is a more electronic-based song and demands listeners’ attention with the way music and voice blend with the chorus, surely inducing world-wide ear-gasms. “Savages” on the other hand, is a favorite because of the catchiness of the melody and lyrics. It’s a song that will stick in your head for days at a time, in a good way. Lastly, “Chasing Hearts”, while not as popular as the previous songs, catches one’s attention because of the R&B sound quality standing out from the rest of the album. The song turns out to be a friendly surprise for the listener.
First in the event came technology. The presentation was themed around healthcare and neuroscience. The speakers covered themes ranging from wellbeing to decision making to mapping the brain with technology. The second session covered entertainment in a variety of ways. Performer Ananya Chatterjea was especially intriguing. Artistic director of Ananya Dance Theatre, Chatterjea shared two dance pieces with the audience. The first involved a prop: a giant bubble. She spoke about hope and allowed the audience to interpret her dances, though she made it clear that the focus was on social justice. The last set of speakers shared poems, discussed the power of video games, and channeled creativity, from the audience, through humor. Event attendee and University of Minnesota student Joe Dillion said his favorite speaker was one of the last: Barry Kudrowitz, because he interacted with the crowd by engaging them in activities focused on ideas. He said he liked best that Kudrowitz explained “how the brain region that functions with creativity and humor are the same.” While speaking to an audience is usually about telling, many of the speakers, Chatterjea and Kurdrowitz included, demonstrated that it can involve so much more.
All in all, it is definitely worth your time to listen to Breathe Carolina’s new album Savages. Happy listening! HITSONHITS.COM ONEWORLDEDUCATION.ORG
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Almost (YouTube) Famous 50,000 people follow her. She could be a sensation. But does she want that? Written and Photographed Kelcie McKenney
Poised to capture the perfect angle, Lauren Skager’s tripod faces the wall of her dorm room that is covered in iridescent tendrils. Waiting for the camera that will capture Skager’s face, the tripod looms down on the now-empty chair pulled away from the glimmering silver strands that are the backdrop to the majority of her videos. Always filming between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to use the natural lighting that flows luminously into her favorite corner of her room, Skager is used to setting up her camera before making videos, which she will later upload to YouTube.
She clicks her Sony camera flawlessly into the tripod; her movements are natural, comfortable, and well-rehearsed. She grabs a piece of scrap paper, folding it in half before wedging it between the camera and her tripod, keeping the two steady. She laughs, and mumbles, “This is very DIY of me.”
looks that people would never expect you to wear. “It’s not supposed to flatter your body,” Skager said. “It’s embracing the ugliness we all have and owning it.” She pushes her viewers to wear whatever they want. She’s like a best friend with a unique fashion sense inspired by film and old photographs that she wants to share with you.
At first glance, Skager may seem like an average college student. With an intended major in strategic communications and minor in experimental video at the University of Minnesota, she fits the role. But to others she is better known as Lauren Rose, a thrifting fashion blogger and activist who has built a sizeable online community of her own through her YouTube channel that she started back in high school. With uploaded fashion videos about her recent thrift hauls and a series of “Lauren Gets Deep” videos that dive into such topics as feminism and “nice guys,” her following of just under 50,000 subscribers isn’t unusually large. It rests on the brink. It’s where a successful but not yet viral YouTube blogger waits before being skyrocketed to half a million subscribers or more. It’s the prequel to a success story of a girl living in Sanford Hall who makes YouTube videos out of her dorm room that reach thousands of people who care about what she has to say. But what’s the next step? While the Lauren Rose channel has built popularity of its own, Skager doesn’t know what she wants to do from here. Will she push her channel further into the limelight? Or will she take a different route? It’s a question Skager is asking herself every day.
But Skager has reached a turning point. Across YouTube a similar level of viewers and subscribers is extremely common, but two plateaus of followers exist. One is at the 50,000 mark. The other is at 500,000. The first plateau is easy for creators to get stuck at. It’s where a channel’s videos directly relate to a small pocket of viewers, but the brand hasn’t been pushed to encompass a larger audience. Like Skager’s channel, her community of followers has a similar fashion sense, but the normcore movement isn’t a humongous one. While the 500,000 mark is similar, these users have relentlessly pushed brands, have built up a following from constant upload of content, and have a strong personality that stands out from any other channel. But to break the half million mark, content has to be completely original and across the board relevant to nearly everyone.
Success So Far In comparison to the most popular and successful channels with millions of subscribers on YouTube, such as PewDiePie, Jenna Marbles, and Smosh, Skager’s 50,000 subscriber following may seem like it’s just scratching the surface of YouTube potential. Needless to say, this doesn’t mean she isn’t successful. Skager’s fashion videos are centered on telling the stories and inspirations behind the pieces purchased in her thrift hauls and buying vintage online videos. She showcases her style of wearing normcore, a trend of rocking ugly
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Skager’s content is enjoyed by 50,000 people, but it’s tailored. She gets views, most of which come from her subscribers, not from outside viewers. But those views are enough to pull in revenue. Skager has Google AdSense, a program run through YouTube, turned on. It puts ads on the videos of channels and rewards the YouTuber for every 1,000 views of the video (called a CPM rate) and for each time a viewer clicks on the ad. Skager’s CPM is at $7.35 – last year’s average CPM across YouTube was $2.09. With Google taking a cut out of the revenue, the amount of money a channel can make rides heavily on the viewership. “With Google AdSense, basically you can make $5 or you can make $100,000 a year,” Skager said. “It is such a wide variety. And for someone like me who makes videos a couple times a month but still has a fan base and a following, I am able to go out to eat when I can.” The ads Skager puts before
Feature her videos make enough money for her to feel financially comfortable for a college student. Her most popular video, an Ombre DIY from 2011, has over half a million views. From upload to today, she has made over $800 off it alone, and viewers continue to trickle in. She doesn’t make a living off of the ads on her videos with the viewership she has now, but there’s a chance that could change. To Network or Not to Network? Maker Studios has recently shown interest in Skager. Started by YouTubers, it is one of many companies called networks that hold the purpose of lifting channels to their fullest potential through networking, collaboration, increased marketing, and better-tailored ads. Recently purchased by Disney for $500 million, the network has direct connections with advertisers who bring in ads that are specific to content on a channel. Maker Studios’ “The Platform” is a sector of the company specifically designed for women’s fashion and beauty channels, which is why they’ve been courting Skager. Her thrift hauls and fashion advice fits in with the other channels already networked, but brings a unique, thrifted fashion style that Skager has created herself. “If you’re going to be an independent creator it’s really hard to compete with these networks, because they build their brand,” Skager said. “And another part of going into these networks that is super helpful is that they will promote you.” If Skager were to join and sign a contract with Maker Studios, her AdSense would be replaced by a new system of ads through the network that would bring more relatable
ads to her fashion-focused viewers. However, Maker Studios would take a larger cut out of her profits. If Skager says yes to the contract it means increased revenue, a greater reach, and possible job opportunities for her in the future. “I think it’s the allure of progressing with my YouTube channel,” Skager said. “It’s an instant fame opportunity.” If she signs a contract with Maker Studios, her fame and success could be set in stone, but she’s hesitant to say yes. “I think this is where YouTube is going,” said Skager, “But I’m not exactly sure if I want to go there, too.” Skager’s hesitation comes from the pressure to stay relevant and constant with content on YouTube. “I think with college it’s harder to keep up with video-making and there are other pressures, too,” Skager said. “Separating your web brand from your real life can be really hard.” With the rise of social media, branding yourself or a channel is a necessity for success. But without any sort of help, creating and effectively marketing a brand can be daunting and near impossible. “Your brand needs to go outside of YouTube,” Skager said. “And if you’re doing it alone it’s hard to compete with those stronger networks.” The connections they’ve built are what help push channels into the limelight. All for the Audience Keeping up with the channels that have millions of subscribers, pushing ad revenue, staying up-to-date with video content, and relentlessly promoting the channel’s brand to point of internet idolization is the goal of most YouTubers. But Skager feels as if maybe she doesn’t want to be an “idol.”
“I don’t want, ever, to have fans,” Skager said. “And I feel like that’s not a marketable strategy, and that’s the whole network situation I’m kind of leaning away from.” Skager’s decision of whether or not to join a network will ultimately determine where her channel goes from here. Unlike many other YouTubers currently battling for greater popularity, Skager’s goal of relating to her audience on a personal level comes way before expanding the financial success of her channel. How can you define success on YouTube anyway? Is it monetary gain? Is it increased following? Or is it the satisfaction alone of knowing you’ve impacted your audience? “I’ve made so many connections with these young guys and girls,” Skager said, “and I feel like I could never completely leave them behind.” Her personal mission for all her videos, from thrifting fashion hauls to her activism chats, is all in the name of her audience, and her decision for where her channel is going will be in the name of her audience as well. “I don’t want them to idolize me,” Skager said. “I just want to be buds.” Layla Assad, Skager’s best friend and admitted fan of her channel, was originally surprised at her friend’s popularity on YouTube. “It was strange seeing my friend was a famous figure on the internet,” Assad said. “But she’s just very likeable in her videos. It’s almost as if you’re talking to her one-on-one.” What’s Next? Regardless of her hesitation to pursue a contract with Maker Studios, Skager is adamant on keeping up with her blog, Curbside Fashion, and posting videos whenever she feels like it. The community of followers she’s built up feel like old friends, and her opinions and personal activism are things she wants to share with them. “Now that I have a voice,” Skager said, “I have to do something with it.” Her passion for women’s rights and other cultural commentaries have an outlet through her involvement with MPIRG at the U of M. Her recent involvement with the “Got Consent?” campaign addresses rape culture on campus and takes her passion for activism off the internet and into the world. This appetite for making a difference is what her most dedicated followers respond to, and it’s something she wants to continue sharing with them. Perched in the chair that is framed by the glimmering afternoon sun against the glitter hanging from her walls, Skager centers herself in the reflection of the camera’s lens. Her expression is relaxed and comfortable, as if her chair was made precisely for this reason. Flipping the moveable screen of the camera up, she looks at the projection of herself. Where her channel is headed is something she might not know yet, but making videos is something she’s done before. And it’s something she’ll do again. She smiles, finishing the last step before leaning forward to click record on her camera.
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The Rake’s Guide to Festivals
A rundown of the new festivals on the block, and why you need to be there BY LAUREN CUTSHALL AND SARA GLESNE We(ed) Fest – Half way up Mount Juneau, Juneau, AK If you love music as much as we do, you are familiar with that awesome concert high. No, not high off of music—but literally…high high. And if you love that feeling as much as we do, well, hold on tight, because music festivals are changing. This summer, in the event that Alaskans vote to legalize everyone’s favorite plant when it goes up for debate in August, 2014 will mark the first official year of We(ed) Fest. At this four-day festival, the music never stops and neither does the pot—as long as the sun is shining. Luckily, Alaska’s 19 hours of sunlight in the summertime means maximum smoking time. This is the time to smoke it up and realize that everything sounds vaguely like Bon Iver when you’re high as a kite. This summer’s lineup is sure to include all of the favorite local bands where country is confused with some kind of unnamed alternative music. Is it something new and interesting, or is it just country twang? No one knows, but who really cares? While the event is entirely BYOD (bring your own dope), expect munchies tents at each stage, sponsored by Little Debbie. So come one, come all, come as you are, because at We(ed) Fest, everyone is friends with Mary Jane. Comstock – Northrop Mall, University of Minnesota, MN Located right here on our very own campus is the University of Minnesota’s ultimate music festival—Comstock. As a springtime event, Comstock will host an awesome three days of peace and music right on Northrop Mall. The festival is definitely amping up this coming year and is undergoing a complete overhaul. Over 25 artists will be performing, compared to the nine or so groups of years’ past, and the name is officially changing from the innocent, high-school reminiscent “Spring Jam” to the big leagues, 1970s reminiscent, “Comstock.” While the sidewalks are cluttered with tents, the real festivalgoers know the best places to set up camp (pro tip: the bridges over Washington Avenue are great for waking up to sunrises and staking out an early morning concert spot). So as Comstock approaches, just remember: peace, music, and Ski-U-Mah.
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‘Murican Appural – Simultaneously held in Nashville, TN and Portland, OR What do you get when you cross unheard-of indie artists and America’s favorite country stars? ‘Murican Appural Music Festival! Every festival fiend is sure to find their new favorite song when they come across an indie band paired with a popular country music star. The festival grounds will be covered in people wearing cowboy boots for both necessity and irony, and it’s the only place where everyone is wearing either a Stetson or a flowered turban headband. But if it is your first time fusing the hipster vibe with the patriotic vibe, have no fear—everyone gets a free pair of high-waisted cut-offs when you pre-order your tickets, or a beaded fringe crop-top if you buy at the gates. Lineup highlights currently include: Carrie Underwood and Underwood Typewriter, Blake Shelton and the Shetland Ponies, and Taylor Swift and T. Swift’s Grammy Headbangers. And in true ‘Murican Appural form, keep an eye out for some questionably NSFW patriotic advertising leading up to the big weekend. Beelzebub Fest – Hell, Michigan On the sixth hour of the sixth day of the sixth month of the year, a ritual will be completed that opens the portal between life and death in Hell. In the township of Hell, Michigan, that is. The denizens of Hell, Michigan, will welcome otherworldly and terrestrial guests alike on June 6 as a zombie voodoo rite will summon both living and deceased members of such classic bands as the immaculate Black Sabbath, Slayer, and AC/DC. Falling stars in the world of death metal will also make their presence known through throaty screams and satanic lyrics, like bands Master and Death (not the protopunk band out of Detroit your little sister made you watch the Netflix documentary about). Slots are still open for DIY metal bands whose vans might break down between Chicago and Pittsburgh in the infernal summer heat. Tickets are currently selling for the cost of your eternal soul. No traveler’s checks will be accepted at this time. Yolo Gangnam Tour – Seaside Heights, New Jersey The most insupportable elements of pop-culture in recent years will combine to reach their apex this July on the sandy shores of Seaside Heights, New Jersey. South Korea’s infamous crooner Psy is bringing his posse along to teach followers of the YOLO philosophy how to express their Gangnam style.
The Rake staff was fortunate enough to sit in on Snooki’s pre-recording sessions to get a sneak peek at her surprisingly calm, pensive adaptations of folk classics (think Dylan and Baez duets before he went electric). But don’t let yourself feel overly informed from just that description. Camp out early to make sure you don’t miss her syrupy sweet voice occasionally interrupted by angry, screeching outbursts at da boys as they stroll by. The sounds of seagulls and K-pop will fill the air as crews of confused men with overly-gelled hair remind us that white men can’t dance to even the most repetitive, least creative beats that international pop music throws at them. Shh Festival – Minneapolis’ Central Library Presented by 89.3 The Current’s “Are You Literate?” contest, Minneapolis’ Central Library will be transformed on Aug. 6 into a space to experience the most profound music known to man: total and utter silence. More than just a music fest, the event is an experience that will leave the music of nothingness ringing in your ears for days. Attendees are warned that if they attempt to speak, wear squeaky shoes, or aren’t able to hold in their sneezes, they will be met with a crescendo of exclamations including “HUSH!” “SILENCE!” and “SHOW SOME RESPECT!” The only sounds allowed in the building will be in the mysterious alien aircraft-like loft space attached to the building’s east side. In that room, performers (mainly babe librarians) will struggle to maintain syncopated page turning, and will occasionally stamp return dates on back covers. No, this is not just their doing clerical work. You obviously don’t understand art or music.
Up For Review
A look at various aspects of campus life BY ALEX VAN ABBEMA After reading countless reviews of one-time LP releases and cult TV show reviews, I decided to attempt something much less mainstream: reviewing various aspects of life on the University of Minnesota’s campus.
Frat Party The atmosphere is dingy and wild; I’m at a frat party. When I arrive with my so-called friends, I see a spectacle of drunken fools and boorish behavior. Loud and vulgar “rap” music is being played, which sounds like an overall cultural abomination, nothing like the classic rap of the ‘90s. Women along the walls are engaged in performance art called “twerking,” something that would surely make their fathers wonder why they didn’t keep a closer eye on them as children. Somebody offers me a sip of their drink and I oblige, hoping that this will make me become the “life of the party.” The bartender is obviously no mixologist. The drink tastes like it could double as paint thinner. All I hope to find is a classy dance with a lovely lady. I find one pretty girl, and ask if she would like to dance. She answers in the affirmative, but to my horror she soon starts gyrating her buttocks on my genital region. Horrified, I immediately leave to find my “friends” so we can leave this freak show. They however, are busy acting like hooligans, so I decide to leave alone. A terrible overall experience.
Being part of a riot Our hockey team recently lost the National NCAA Hockey Championship, and I hear a large amount of commotion outside. I decide to follow the crowd toward Dinkytown to see what it’s like to be a part of such a large crowd. I had not anticipated the craziness that would soon follow. When we arrive at Dinkytown, it seems like a déjà vu of that horrible My Chemical Romance concert of a few years back, with hundreds of kids channeling their teenage adolescent rage. I see people shooting off bottle rockets, and engaging in all sorts of tomfoolery. I happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and get pepper sprayed. My face feels as though it is on fire, and I decide that I’ve had enough of this, and leave this wretched experience.
Public Bathrooms With an ambiance that is both haunting and surreal, campus bathrooms are a very interesting place to spend some time. I start with the restrooms of the esteemed Coffman Memorial Union. I am pleased to see that there are four fully furnished stalls, but a bit disappointed that there are only two urinals. There is some educational reading material inside the stall doors about sexual assault, and I come out of my business feeling quite informed. There is no writing on the stalls and I appreciate that the walls look clean by regular stall standards. Unfortunately, while most of the public restrooms I come across on campus are tolerable, I see plenty of restroom etiquette that could be improved. Oftentimes
I see men violating a key component of the gentleman’s code: you don’t use the urinal next to somebody if there are others open nearby. The restroom in my residence hall, Centennial, is much different from those in Coffman. There are only three stalls, and there have been plenty of times where all three stalls are full. When this is the case, I have to go down another floor to do my business. It is quite inconvenient.
Working Out I have never been much of a fan of working out. I find that those who do it should focus on academics or good book-reading rather than making their bodies unnecessarily muscular. However, I’ve noticed myself feeling a bit out of shape so I decide to see what the Recreation Center has to offer. It seems so much bigger than it needs to be, and I wonder why so much university funding is going towards a center for frat bros who are trying to get “swole.” Nevertheless, I choose to go over to the bench press to start out. I find that the bar itself is quite heavy, so I choose not to add any weight. After my second set, a man wearing a shirt that would be snug on a kindergartner asks me how close I am to being done. How rude! I decide to let this man have his precious bench and move on to another area. I move over to the track to jog, and start running. After about a minute, somebody tells me that I’m running the wrong way on the track. Fed up with everyone telling me what to do, I decide to leave. This experience has reaffirmed why I hate working out so much.
Masterful Covers Stretch Artistic Boundaries
Unlikely outings feature work better than the original BY KRISTEN ERICKSON 1. Bon Iver covers “Necrophobic” by Slayer Original: This 1986 track is a thrash metal classic by a band obsessed with the human frame in decaying, neo-Nazi imagery, and other topics you probably wouldn’t discuss with your mom at the dinner table. Cover: Bon Iver uses his eerie, auto-tuned harmonies to great effect here. He gives the song so much emotional feeling that you can vividly picture him in his Wisconsin cabin, lovingly stroking his acoustic guitar, and singing lyrics like, “Asphyxiation/suffocation/gasping for air” to describe his tender, broken heart. 2. Old Crow Medicine Show covers “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” by Skrillex Original: The EDM track leaves little to be desired, with a beat drop that manages to both give an insane headache and make listeners wonder where the good old days of artists actually playing their instruments have gone and how songs like this will affect the intelligence of future generations. Cover: Thank goodness for this cover. Using banjos, a standup bass, and a snare drum to create drops, Old Crow is able
to give this song a boot-stomping quality where the shouting of “Yes, oh my god! Scary Monsters” is given a late-night bar sing-along feel rather than a seizure-inducing EDM one. 3. Sigur Rós covers “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen Original: A song that no one at The Rake will admit to liking, no matter how many times they’ve watched the Harvard baseball team video or sung along to it while alone in the car, since it will result in swift termination of their name from the masthead. Cover: Just like their other masterpieces, these Icelanders introduce some much needed sophistication to this shallow pop hit that anyone with taste can easily understand. If it’s hard to believe that such a simple pop song about getting a date could be transformed into a sonic masterpiece of Icelandic post-rock perfection, then you obviously have never heard a Sigur Rós song before, especially one like “Hringja í Mig Kannski” (“Call Me Maybe” in Icelandic, obviously). 4. Patti Smith covers “Teardrops On My Guitar” by Taylor Swift Original: This was where the ever romantically scorned Swift got her start: a song that could actually be claimed
by the country genre (unlike that dubstep thing she does today) about a girl who just wants her hunky guy friend to notice her, while she blames him for the water damage to her instrument caused by her own tear ducts. Cover: The godmother of punk whispers her way into this country-pop candy until releasing an angry, scream-like vocal that transforms this song from a girl whining about a boy into a feminist anthem that sounds like Smith will go from crying onto her guitar to using it to bludgeon whoever the hell Drew is with it. 5. Arcade Fire covers “Boyfriend” by Justin Bieber Original: Another example of why pop music is worse now than it has ever been, and has no chance of ever being remotely good in the future. After listening, it is advised to listen to the Beatles’ greatest hits in order to recover. Cover: Using nothing more than an organ, a harp, and bongos, the always artistically superior Arcade Fire are able to give this song a haunting quality, with lead singer Win Butler singing, “If I was your boyfriend/ I’d never let you go,” as if he were attending the woman in question’s funeral. This is masterful work from artists that we actually do not want to go back to Canada.
Best New Tracks
Must-hear music from the University of Minnesota BY KAYLA McCOMBS Freshmen: “Lanyard Jingling as I Walk” A track that has been reinvented year after year by the Edina-based group, always with a new lining of anxiety and forced confidence, “Lanyard Jingling as I Walk” fully captures the heart and soul of the university’s youngest contributors to the music scene. The unpredictable melody produced by Freshmen is artistically concocted by stepping or trudging rhythmically while wearing a heavy lanyard full of keys. The result is a haunted jangling that highlights a darker music scene on campus, of course with Freshmen’s signature crumpling of a campus map marking the closing of the song. The Broken Records: “Wow It’s Nice Out… Damn Now It’s Cold Again” The upbeat alternative sounds of The Broken Records really thrive in their newest track. “Wow It’s Nice Out… Damn
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Now It’s Cold Again” is a catchy piece notable for its repetitive chorus in which the two singers chant, “Can you believe it’s 70 degrees? Why is it snowing in April?” over and over again. It seems to reflect the inner turmoil and suppressed anxiety of those struggling to adjust to change as the song slowly simmers out into an ironically peaceful ending. Sorority Squat: “Don’t We Look Classy?” All-girl screech-pop trio Sorority Squat harness their unique vocal abilities and interpretive heel-walking to produce a song that is the perfect manifestation of screech-pop. The clever tangling of Tiffany, Rachel, and Nikki’s voices, accompanied by the scraping and clacking of their stilettos on the sidewalk, is a beautiful and blatant rebellion against a society that embraces normalcy. Sorority Squat achieves the impossible by combining rugged, edgy sounds with high-pitched
howls to create what the sophisticated find repulsive, but the stunningly unrefined are inspired by. Nobody’s Friend: “I Think You’re Mistaken” Charles Halloway, known by his loyal fans as Nobody’s Friend, has further pushed himself onto center stage in the genre of acoustic-chill-rock recently, and “I Think You’re Mistaken” is the latest masterpiece. Recorded in the front row of a comparative politics lecture, the song is a quiet tribute to the university students who are infinitely more intelligent than their professors. It starts with a gentle clearing of Halloway’s throat, followed by a slow progression in which he tries and tragically fails to correct the man at the front of the room. A symbolic commentary on social hierarchy, this song features the slow, whiny voice of an artist seeking true recognition.
Jimerson: Once you pick it up, you’ve kind of committed to something. You can’t eat half a taco and set it down. It’s going to fall apart. You’ve got three of them, so you pick up one and make sure you don’t have anything else going on until you’re done. The Wake: What’s the best beverage to have with your tacos? Jimerson: Just a can of Coke. We do have Diet Coke now, just because we have so many people ask. We don’t drink it, it’s gross, but people really wanted it. The Wake: Does Taco Cat have a mascot? Jimerson: There’s no specific cat. I don’t even think Dan and I especially like cats. Neither of us have cats. I have a dog. I’m not against cats. I’ve owned them before.
Jimerson: That crowd you’re talking about is the one we started with, ‘cause those are the ones who originally heard of us. I think as we expand, become more well known, and actually print some menus, we might be able to get more of a diverse crowd.
We just wanted someone to deliver tacos. We were mainly confused of why no one was The Wake: I didn’t even think about printing menus, but that’s probably a thing you need. Jimerson: We only have pins. Every order comes with pins. We’re getting new pins made that will say on the side, “Call number, get tacos,” and then the phone number will be on the side. But I think we need some sort of little paper menus that we can put in there, just so you can put it on your refrigerator.
The Wake: So why Taco Cat? Jimerson: It was based off a zine our friend ran many years ago. But also, Taco Dog sounds disgusting. Would you buy tacos from an underground place called Taco Dog? The Wake: No. I think it would be a hot dog wrapped in a tortilla. Jimerson: Taco Dog sounds like a tequila bar out by the airport where every night is ladies night. The Wake: What was the zine? Jimerson: It was called Taco Cat and it was run by a couple of Dan’s friends. We were just trying to come up with a name. The Wake: Was it about tacos? Jimerson: I don’t think so. I think it was an art zine. The Wake: iPhones and Apple products don’t have a taco emoji, but they have nearly every other popular food. How do you feel about this?
Jimerson: They would be very long and drawn out, miss the point completely, and reference about 17 obscure bands from the ‘80s. (Dan Laeger-Hagemeister, the other half of Taco Cat, then joined the interview) The Wake: If you could go back in time and feature Taco Cat product placement in any movie, in any era, what movie would you pick? Jimerson: Top Gun. Laeger-Hagemeister: Die Hard. The Wake: Who would be eating the tacos? Laeger-Hagemeister: Bruce Willis.
The Wake: Who would win in a fight, a taco or a cat?
Jimerson: Can we get Bruce Willis to kill a man with tacos?
Jimerson: I don’t think they would fight. I think they would love each other.
Laeger-Hagemeister: Yes. Shoving them down a guy’s throat.
The Wake: In a sibling way or a romantic way?
Jimerson: That’s the kind of product placement we’d want.
Jimerson: Probably in a sibling way. I don’t like to think of my food loving anything in a romantic way.
Laeger-Hagemeister: Killer tacos. The Wake: What’s the weirdest taco you’ve ever eaten?
The Wake: If you were a pregnant woman and you craved any weird topping on your taco, what would it be? Jimerson: One of my friends was telling me about spending time in Mexico and they would do tostados, and then a thin layer of lard, and then pico, and then fresh cilantro on top. He said it was the best thing in the world, so that’s what sounds good to me. The Wake: If a cat had a taco strapped to its back, and the cat fell, would it land on its feet or the taco?
Laeger-Hagemeister: I once made a spaghetti taco. The Wake: What did that consist of? Laeger-Hagemeister: Exactly what it sounds like. It was late at night. You can infer from that… Jimerson: A certain level of intoxication. Why didn’t you just eat the spaghetti? You’ve got perfectly good spaghetti and you think, “I’m gonna take an extra step to make this more difficult.”
Jimerson: With my luck, the taco would land face down. The Wake: Do tacos have nine lives?
Jimerson: That should probably be fixed. You could send taco emojis to everyone. My phone isn’t even set up to have emojis, so I really don’t know what I’m missing.
Jimerson: No. They have a life of about 35-40 minutes. After that, they’re not good anymore.
The Wake: How many of your customers do you think are drunk when you deliver tacos?
The Wake: If Pitchfork were to give Taco Cat a review, what do you think they would give you?
Jimerson: Less than we anticipated. We definitely deliver to a lot of stoners.
Jimerson: They would put us on Best New Band of the Week and they would give us a 6.2 out of 10.
The Wake: I’m assuming that your demographic is mostly young, white, hipster crowd, but are there other people that surprise you that are ordering?
The Wake: What sort of remarks would they have?
Laeger-Hagemeister: I had a ten-inch flour tortilla, so I just rolled it up.
Find Taco Cat at www.tacocatmn.com / www.facebook.com/tacocatMN / @tacocatmn *Editor’s note: Yes, this is the bizarro issue, but Taco Cat is a real thing. If you’d like to place a bet on how soon they will overthrow Taco Bell, email us. If you’d like to send us Taco Cat tacos, also email us. Please.
Q&A: Taco Cat Minneapolis Duo Starts Taco Delivery Service BY GRACE BIRNSTENGEL What happens when one Jimmy John’s biker and one Sea Salt Eatery cook really wish someone in Minneapolis would deliver them tacos? A Taco Cat is born. Taco Cat is a bike taco delivery service created by Tristan Jimerson and Dan Laeger-Hagemeister, currently operated out of the kitchen in Midtown Global Market. Taco Cat offers five different tacos, all of which you can buy in a set of three for $8.
Jimerson: The one in Uptown. A lot of these guys are still working there, or biking around with Peace Coffee. A lot of them will come from working there all day and then come here and bike all night.
Jimerson: We’ve thought about that. There’s no fryer here, but eventually when we are in a space and have a fryer, we’d like to make churros and deep-fried plantains.Things like that that are an easy upsell and delicious, on top of tacos.
The Wake: Do you know how much money you would make if you delivered to the U of M? Because it would be a lot.
The Wake: So you’re not just going to limit yourself to tacos?
So if you find yourself craving tacos on a Tuesday through Saturday at 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. in a southern Minneapolis area, call 612-7235388 and let the magic happen.
Jimerson: There’s just no way for us, in this location, to reach that with any viable delivery times. But, in the future, if we look to expand, we’re definitely going to be looking at the U and Northeast. Those are areas we used to go to, but now that the volume of sales is up, we can’t.
The Wake: It says on your website that you take barters. Do people barter with you a lot?
The Wake: Are you looking at moving into your own space?
Tristan Jimerson: They haven’t really this year. We’ve had barters in the past. That’s the biker’s choice.
It was much smaller before, one day a week, underground, as a joke. We did it for two years and had so much fun. So we were like, ‘Let’s see if we can do this for a living.’
The Wake: What would be an acceptable barter? Jimerson: People have bartered for alcohol. Usually, they’re very much in our favor. We’ve gotten bottles of nice alcohol for tacos and things like that. It’s all biker’s discretion. We had a guy who traded tacos for a tattoo. It was a large order that he paid back to us, and then went and got a tattoo. The Wake: What was the tattoo? Jimerson: He actually got a Taco Cat tattoo. There are a couple people with Taco Cat tattoos. The Wake: Do you have one? Jimerson: I do not. I will get one. I just haven’t had the time. The Wake: Do you ever deliver the tacos? Jimerson: I don’t bike. I’m a very casual biker, not hardcore like these guys. I’m very fat and lazy so I definitely stay in the kitchen and cook. My business partner, Dan, doesn’t bike very much either. He’s the guy on the phone most of the time.
Jimerson: Eventually. We’ll be here for a year, at least. We’ve got that signed with Midtown Global Market. They’ve been really great to us here. We have full kitchens and are taking advantage of that. The amount of capital we had going into this was laughable when it comes to starting a restaurant. So working with these guys has been great because we don’t have to manage all the kitchen equipment. We just pay rent and clean the counters. We bring in all our own ingredients. We have cold storage here, and the basement of the market is a whole labyrinth of storage for all the restaurants here. So if we ever need additional storage, we can rent it for a small monthly fee, which we’re already looking into. The Wake: I know you’re focused on keeping the menu simple, but do you have any plans to expand at all?
Jimerson: He did. He spent years there. We met, actually, at Jimmy John’s when we were both working there. He was there earlier today. He put in his two weeks…way too late.
Jimerson: I have a lot of ideas for things that I want to do. We were originally planning to have six tacos, the sixth being a special that rotates out every week. I think we still are going to do that, I just haven’t had time to get my shit together and make specialty tacos every week. Some of the ideas are serious and some aren’t.
The Wake: Which one does he work at?
The Wake: Dessert tacos?
The Wake: He came from Jimmy John’s, didn’t he?
Jimerson: No, I think we’re going to expand the menu a little, but tacos are always going to be our main thing. The Wake: So Taco Cat is a palindrome. Do you have any other favorite palindromes? Jimerson: I always say racecar because it’s what comes to mind. I feel like I should know more, because the palindrome thing comes up a lot, but Taco Cat isn’t really a new name to us. We’ve been doing this for a couple years now. It was much smaller before, one day a week, underground, as a joke. We did it for two years and had so much fun. So we were like, “Let’s see if we can do this for a living.” The Wake: Did you ever expect it to turn into something legitimate like this? Jimerson: Not really. That was never the intention. We always wanted to see if it would work. We just wanted someone to deliver tacos. We were mainly confused of why no one was. We thought, we’re not the smartest guys in the world; we can’t be the first people to come up with this. There has to be some fatal flaw. The Wake: What was the fatal flaw? Jimerson: We haven’t found it yet. I’m terrified every single day. I think the reason most people don’t do it is that most delivery food is either consistently cold or consistently hot. We mix temperatures. I think that’s tricky. It means you have to cut your delivery time very, very short. The tacos are never going to get there piping hot. They’re always going to be warm. The Wake: What’s the best taco you’ve ever had in your life? Jimerson: That’s tough. There’s a little taquería in Santa Barbara, but I can’t remember what it’s called. The tacos were amazing, but it was also in Santa Barbara, on the beach, so that adds to it as well. The Wake: What is the best way to eat a taco?
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Too Cool for Comfort Drowning in the mainstream
he went, fascinated by the new face who disappeared. He became a fad, an overnight phenomenon. Oprah contacted his agent to ask for him to be on her show whenever he turned up again.
BY KRISTEN WANGSNES The Rake was able to sit down for an interview with an artist whose recent album has been near the top of the charts for weeks and is expected to go platinum, but it doesn’t look like there’ll be much talking. I entered the changing room to see him lying face down on the floor, halfheartedly pounding one fist into the carpet. He has requested his name not be released, in the interest of not gaining any more attention than he has to. That request was the only full sentence I could get out of him. While any other musician would be ecstatic in his shoes, the artist is beside himself. He did everything right, he thought. He didn’t sign to a big-name record label. He put a limit on the amount of promo materials that went out with his name on them. He refused when radio stations asked to play his songs. For the past five years, this artist has released music under three pseudonyms in addition to his real name so that he could make a living while never letting any of his identities get too mainstream.
A black slouchy hat pulled low over his head as if in mourning for his hipster fanbase.
But then the nightmare happened. Some B-list celebrity found his music and liked it. They tweeted a link to the music video, and the number of iTunes downloads increased exponentially within the afternoon. The number of google searches for his name skyrocketed. He was asked to give a performance on both Saturday Night Live and at next year’s Superbowl halftime show. He tried to disappear, to wait out the craziness. Maybe if they didn’t see his face for a while, the crowd would forget about him. His plan backfired. People wondered where
At the time of the interview, the artist was slated to take the stage in front of a roaring crowd. But this gig was different. Too many people showed up to this one. The artist remained face down on the floor, looking like he had no intention of appearing onstage after all, a black slouchy hat pulled low over his head as if in mourning for his hipster fanbase who had surely deserted him after his splash into the mainstream. Security came in and said my time was up. As I was escorted out, the guard shook his head at the defeated lump of a musician and said, “He wasn’t always this way, he liked himself better before he was cool.”
Guess Who’s Bach? Michele Bachmann ventures into hip-hop BY AIDAN HUTT Some former politicians use their experience to go on lecture circuits. Others follow specific passions, such as George Bush’s adorable venture into painting. Since Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s 2013 announcement of her decision not to run for a fifth congressional term, speculation has been rampant of her post-political plans. Nearly a year has passed with only whispers of her plans, but finally your cries have been answered. Leaked by an anonymous source identifying himself only as “a longtime supporter of Israel,” The Rake presents a sneak preview of Bachmann’s first post-political creative project — Comeback Season. Comeback Season is an eight-track EP, acting as a prelude to the full-length album she will later release through Rhymesayers Entertainment upon her exit from office later in 2014. The EP is a self-described “post-urban hip-hop experience,” a musical genus whose revival is long overdue. Echoing steel drums enforce a shrill yet haunting landscape, while coverage of Comedy Central hosts Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert badmouthing the Congresswoman is heard like whispers across the track.
In the first track on the album, “Guess Who’s Bach (Intro),” Bachmann lays down bars like, “Born in Waterloo, my bitches call me Napoleon/Pillaging the streets like Kahn, my conqueror game Mongolian,” a line that will not only impress Childish Gambino fans, but also inform listeners of her foreign affairs savvy. Already, critique from the liberal media on Bachmann’s new hip hop career is rampant. Some media analysts call the EP “cheap, obvious, and pandering to young audiences, in an attempt to set up for a second run at president of the United States in 2016.” More patriotic hip-hop heads have rejected the project for sharing the title with a mixtape by Canadian rapper Drake. Politics aside, The Rake has to stop and ask: is her intention important, regardless of whether it’s to run for president, release stress, or make art? If her music bangs hard in the whip, does her intention matter? The EP is a solid body of work with great prospects for Bachmann’s post-political musical career.
1. Guess Who’s Bach (Intro) 2. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell For What 3. How Can The Deficit Be Real If Money Isn’t Real ft. Jaden Smith 4. Presidential Bricks ft. Rick Ross
5. My Bitches ft. Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, and Sarah Palin 6. Family Values ft. RiFF RAFF & Gucci Mane 7. Build the Fence 8. NOBAMA www.wakemag.org
Keep Your Foot Out of Your Mouth How to Sound More Knowledgeable About Music BY LIANNA MATT So as we all know, it’s music festival season. Don’t be that person.You know who I’m talking about: the one who’s along for the ride and a good time but so out of your element in a sea of music connoisseurs. To help hide your musical ignorance, check out these easy ways to infiltrate conversations with people who actually know about music. 1) Never, ever compliment an artist without adding a negative critique as well. Otherwise you’ll sound like a sycophantic lackey, or worse, one of those passive mainstream listeners who idiotically bobs their head up and down to pop tunes in their father-bought car. Instead, give a lukewarm comment about the general atmosphere. Then follow it up with a vague but disillusioned comment about the direction of the band. While it won’t get you far past the gates of
newbie-ism, at least it takes the red, corporate sticker of America’s Top 40 off of your forehead.
To really cement the impression that you know things about music, you can’t just spout out copy-and-pasted expressions from The Rake’s music reviews all of the time. It’s a lifestyle. 2) Never, ever look confused about the name of a band. I don’t care if you think that the name was pulled out of a Scrabble bag. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll get an, “Oh, honey,” and a sympathetic glance before the true diehards excommunicate you. To try and direct the conversation away from your knowledge gap, offer a shrug and a cryptic comment such as, “I’ve found them to be so cubist when it’s the era of Xanadu, you know?” and then switch to a band
you at least looked up on Metacritic. To really cement the impression that you know things about music, you can’t just spout out copy-and-pasted expressions from The Rake’s music reviews all of the time. It’s a lifestyle. To ease your way into this, here’s a bonus tip, a gift from us to you. When faced with the physical CD, stick up your nose at its shiny lacquer.You can only buy the band in disc form if: 1) You are wearing ripped and/or black skinny jeans and a beanie (or, if you’re really digging this whole summer thing, a vintage sundress), 2) There are people to testify that you loudly complained that the tinny CD has no hold on the vinyl record and that you’re only buying it in this lowly form for the greater good of the band, and 3) If you have at least one classic book in your bag such as Anna Karenina to balance out the CD’s faults. Good luck out there in the world, little teenybopper.
Unexplored Musical Territory Conquered by Prepubescent Choir Kidz Bop takes pop hits to a new level BY ALEX NELSON “I am a champion, and you’re going to hear me roar,” declares a chorus of children in the first track of the 25th installment of the legendary Kidz Bop series. Backed by a full-choir of glorious youthful voices, the song’s vocalist shines with vibrant confidence. I thought for sure that Katy Perry’s stale anthem “Roar” was on its way out, but who other than a group of prepubescent, imaginative children to reinvigorate this hit with optimism and energy. Kidz Bop 25 tackles 16 songs that dominated the airwaves over the past few months, and each tired hit receives this same treatment of revitalization. For example, the five refined voices of Kidz Bop try their hand at rival boy band One Direction’s smash hit “Best Song Ever,” and prove that, unlike the boys (whose career is founded solely on aesthetics), they’ve got the talent and musical prowess to power the exciting song and hit a home-run. Another stand-out is the kids’ rendition of mega-hit “Royals.” Ella Yelich-O’Connor surprised people with her young age, but she combated her early accomplishments by playing as if she was older than she actually is. Instead of singing about “grey
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goose, dripping in the bathroom” or “blood stains,” Kidz Bop pacifies the lyrics to “gold teeth, gold goose, singin’ in the bathroom” and “grass stains” and “ball gowns.” Yeah, these kids are young, and they know it. They don’t have to pander to a sex-craved audience or refute their young age. This fact makes their music even more excellent and surprising. While honest about their age, the children featured on Kidz Bop 25 aren’t afraid to show off what their pipes can do. They include a heartbreaking rendition of Miley Cyrus’ excellent “Wrecking Ball.” There’s a particularly tear-jerking moment about two-thirds through the song where the bass and instrumentation fall back after the chorus to reveal a vulnerable and sensitive vocal melody that taps into emotions far beyond those seemingly experienced by pre-teens. For Kidz Bop 26, I’m rooting for a Nina Simone or Jeff Buckley cover, as these kids can clearly handle emotional material. In their cover of Nicki Minaj’s “Starships,” the cunning, resourceful Kidz Bop writers swap Minaj’s rash and inappropriate “Higher than a motherfucker,” lyrics for the more suitable, “We’re Kidz Bop and we’re taking over!” Pro-
claimed in that same ear-candy harmony over the shimmering synths of the original song, it is sure to get you pumped up for Kidz Bop 25. Get their new album now and catch them on tour in 2014.
Couch Co-op: A Guide to Party Games BY JOSEPH BUCHHOLZ
It’s a familiar scene. Smoke dissipates in a haze hanging near the ceiling, illuminated by the dim light bulb rocking back and forth from a shoddily spinning ceiling fan. The collective noise of chatter is muffled by the thud of a kick drum layered over a repetitive baseline. A Nintendo 64 is somehow running despite its tangled mass of cords being tripped and trampled over. The co-operatively played N64 is a paradox. The Nintendo 64 is the most perplexing artifact in this scene, because it’s a social agent for the anti-social. It’s a vacuum where anti-socialites can interact and feed off of each other. Super Smash Bros., Mario Tennis, the minigames in Pokemon Stadium, Mario Kart 64… all of these cartridges are havens for couch-locked stoners, friends dragged along who want to escape the party, and that one disproportionately buff kid who needs an outlet for his testosterone addled competitive nature. The thing is, you can only race around Rainbow Road so many times. We’ve been playing these games for over a decade and a half; don’t you think it’s time to switch it up? Luckily, we’re in the midst of a couch co-op renaissance. A slew of games have come out over the past year that strike a sweet spot for party games: they can be picked up by anyone and mastered only by the truly dedicated. Here is a list of games that will revitalize your party, even after you’ve played A$AP Ferg for fifth time trying to get people to dance.
Spelunky (Xbox 360, PS3, Vita, PC)
Samurai Gunn (PC, coming soon to PS4 and Vita)
An instant classic. Up to four players can descend randomly generated stages laced with unforgiving traps and enemies. Think Indiana Jones transformed into a roguelike cave explorer. Perfect for people with varying attention spans, you can play for just 10 minutes or kill a whole afternoon.
A blisteringly fast-paced bushido blade fighter, you duel with up to three other players rendered in 8-bit pixelation. Think 2D Smash Bros. with samurais and guns. It is perfect for people who like samurais and guns.
A four-player co-op shooter with the same distillation of ultra-patriotic hyper violence as Team America: World Police. Bro’d out action stars (Brobo Cop, Rambro, Indiana Brones, etc.) shred destructible levels into empty husks of desolation. Think Contra plus every action flick you’ve ever seen, perfect for NRA members who pay for bald eagle tattoos with 9/11 commemorative coins.
(PC, PS4, Ouya) A 16-bit arena based fighter, players use cloaked archers to swiftly dodge and impale other players with arrows. Think 2D Smash Bros. with archery. Perfect for those who bought a PS4 with their tax return and can’t find a use for it outside of calling it a Fifa and “chel” machine.
Broforce (PC, plans for PlayStation platforms)
Rebecca Black’s Friday Underrated and overstated BY HALEY MADDEROM You can’t deny that Rebecca Black takes Friday to a whole new level. Just listen to her viral hit single and absorb the beauty of repetition that allows us to think about Friday and the weekend to come at all hours of the day. American culture covets Friday as a day of release from the business of everyday life. Friday achieves this very effect as it subsumes us in a cloud of longing for the weekend, weekend. If I asked David Bowie, he would get it. Most of the haters out there can’t seem to break the surface in order to really get what Black is trying to communicate. So before surrendering to popular opinion, absorb “Friday” for its musical and visual effects and recognize the human condition depicted in the music.
The song starts out with a subtle mixture of “yeah” vocalization and commences with a calendar animated by Rebecca’s face, cleverly depicting the passage of time while maintaining focus on the star that matters. It transitions into Rebecca’s personal life, where one immediately realizes that Black’s Fridays are far from stellar. She likes to spend her Fridays sitting in a car, standing in a car, and deciding where to sit in her car. The point is that everyone is having fun and that’s all that matters. At the end of the night when she finally makes it to the party, the animated calendar reappears, the music slows again, and she begins to sing once more about days other than Friday—like Saturday, and Sunday, which comes afterwards.
The music’s sporadic style and the lyrics’ subtle transition from future to present throughout the song reinforce the reality that, without a doubt, it’s Friday. She sends a strong message telling us all to live in the moment and enjoy each Friday as it comes. Katy Perry also supports the depth of Black’s music, even using her as a guest star in the music video for “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F),” along with world-renowned saxophonist Kenny G. and teen idols Corey Feldman and Debbie Gibson. Rebecca has clearly revamped a musical sub-subgenre dedicated to Fridays that have not seen daylight since the ‘90s. She’s started a kickback trend—one to hitch onto before popular opinion drowns it out.
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Don’t Let Your Friends Cave to Pitchfork Addiction Sixty seconds of awareness can save lives BY LIANNA MATT
This is a public service announcement from your local health service: Passing by the study cubicles downstairs at Walter Library, the click-clacking of students’ laptops accompanied frantically racing eyes as students tried to write their duetomorrow final papers. Except for one silent spot: Megan Jakovich. True, her eyes were racing, but her fingernails weren’t clacking. They were glued to the mouse pad scrolling down endless Pitchfork reviews. Jakovich, a junior at the University of Minnesota, had talked about nothing else except all of the festivals that she wanted to go to over the summer. “She had The Pitchfork Guide to Festivals all printed out and highlighted in various colors based on proximity and how much she wanted to go,” friend Krista Schreiner recalled. “We just thought she was really stressed from school and this was her way of escaping for a bit.” While dreaming about the free-flowing concerts may have
provided an escape, it seems that Jakovich has lost the bread crumbs that could lead her back to reality. Shortly after she glommed onto the festival guide, one by one her top websites morphed into various sections of Pitchfork, and so did her conversation topics. Then her fingers started shaking if she wasn’t holding her phone, her laptop, or anything that could connect her to the Internet and to Pitchfork. Schreiner said, “Getting addicted to a website is one thing— I’m sure we all have our go-to site for relaxation—but I remember when I was getting ready for school and turned the radio on…Meg came over and turned it off and told me that I might end up listening to a song that wasn’t ‘Pitchfork approved.’ I thought she was joking.”
uncontrolled spewing of Pitchfork writer quotes. If untreated, POS can lead to anemia, over-attachment to electronic devices, and cranial explosion from too many Pitchfork reviews. The only known treatment for POS is by limiting the afflicted’s electronic access, but this has been met with some resistance as well as theft charges when people come out of the bathroom and find their laptop missing. However, if your friend never leaves their laptop at all, looking up Pitchfork reviews while in the restroom, please seek immediate help from the Center for Renewing Independent Music Opinions (CRIMO).
Don’t let this be your Pitchfork-obsessed friend. Act now. Pitchfork Obsession Syndrome (POS) has been striking one out of every 2,000 college students over the last several years. The symptoms include sudden anger over Wi-Fi connection loss, inability to listen to mainstream music, and
No Queen Bee Crowned
Beyoncé and Lorde fail to prove worthy of their thrones BY ALEX NELSON
Beyoncé Knowles: BEYONCÉ (Rating = 2.0)
Lorde: Pure Heroine (Rating = 2.59)
Back in December, the criminally overrated, attention-whore, offshoot of Destiny’s Child Beyoncé Knowles hurriedly dropped what she’s calling a “visual album.” The release, uncreatively titled BEYONCÈ, lacked any and all forms of promotion ahead of its availability on iTunes.
Also seated atop the Iron Throne of pop culture at the moment is Lorde. It seems that this pesky and problematic teenager pops up wherever you look these days. Seventeenyear-old Ella Yelich-O’Connor rose (undeservedly) to commercial success last summer after the release of her mediocre smash-hit “Royals.”
The singer didn’t even bother to tease the lead single, “Drunk in Love,” which is nothing more than a Rihanna-style trash rehash of Beyoncé and husband Jay-Z’s already sub-par “Crazy in Love.” Still, that tired anthem remains a high-point of the album, as it’s buried between sex-saturated abominations like “Blow,” and the repulsive “Partition.”
In September, she released her debut album, Pure Heroine, which failed to extend her soundscape past that signature boring, slow-pulsing bass line that underlies each song she’s released. Since then, Lorde has appeared to perform for huge audiences at the Grammy’s and Coachella.
At her age, it is simply pathetic and unfounded to desperately clutch what remnants of sex appeal she seems to think she still has. Beyoncé, you are 32, married, and a mother, for chrissakes. Your flop of a new album proves that it’s time you gave up the spotlight for once in your life. Leave the sex appeal to the experts (read: hot, trendy, ofthe-moment Miley Cyrus or steamy, tatted, bad-boy Justin Bieber). BEYONCE.COM
One thing I will admit she gets points for is consistency: she consistently disappoints. Her strange hair and acne-prone face have no place in the mainstream media, and her awkward dancing and cryptic mannerisms are jarring and uncomfortable to watch. Critics call her lyrics poetic and telling, but they can just as easily be written off as maudlin and angsty. Lorde advises her fans, “You can call me Queen B,” but that title is hardly deserved by her, or Beyoncè for that matter. I’m waiting impatiently for the day that some Westeros warrior storms her media-castle and sends her witchy ass back to obsolescence. SUFFOLKVOICE.NET
As a Minneapolis native and long-time Wake fan, I am truly honored to have my website, Pitchfork, be the inspiration for this issue of the magazine. After all, imitation is the highest form of flattery. I’m glad that more media outlets are finally beginning to understand how to properly analyze the art surrounding them. Too often do we critique art at face value and forget to take into account the artist’s personal life—and judge them accordingly. Overall, I give this issue of The Wake a 9.2, much like my review of Broken Social Scene’s You Forgot It in People from 2003. A high enough rating that people will pay attention to it, but not high enough that people will think I’ve gone soft. Because if there’s one thing we value at Pitchfork, it’s a steadfast, reasoned treatment of art—never influenced by our own subjective, personal ven-
dettas for the musicians that didn’t let us in their bands. Never. Music journalism is a growing industry now more than ever. The key to success is just starting your own website, hiring all of your friends with the same opinions as you, and swaying the entire indie music community to agree with said opinions based on your overwrought vocabulary and sleek page layout design. Thank you, Wakies, for spreading Pitchfork’s message across the University of Minnesota. It’ll be nice to have some competition in The Rake. Maybe now, fewer hipsters will surround our office like zombies, begging for us to tell them what to think of the new Baths track.
Fortnightly Student Magazine
Keep Your Foot Out of Your Mouth p. 7
Don’t Let Friends Cave p. 3
Unexplored Musical Territory p. 7
No Queen Bee Crowned p. 3
Q&A: Taco Cat p. 8-9
Couch Co-op p. 4
Up For Review p. 10
Rebecca Black’s Friday p. 5
Masterful Covers p. 11
Too Cool for Comfort p. 6
Best New Tracks p. 11
Guess Who’s Bach? p. 6
The Rake’s Guide to Festivals p. 12
It’s time music journalism run on a two party system. That’s worked really well for American politics, right? Ryan Schreiber Pitchfork founder
The Rake Music Festival
Come lose more than your self in the music Highland, MN — July 16-19 — www.rake.com for Info 2.
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Fort nightly Student Magazine
Q & A: Taco Cat p. 8-9 The Rakeâ€™s Guide to Festivals p. 12