Write On, Downtown
A Journal of Student Writing at the ASU Downtown Phoenix Campus
April 2015 Editors-in-Chief
Rosemarie Dombrowski Catherine Rezza
Michael Bartelt Molly Bilker Haley Bosselman Zack Bunting Kaitlin Kroum Sophia McGovern Terra Pinckley David Redkey Tamara Williams-Akins
Deanna Johnson Mullican
Visit our companion journal at writeon.asu.edu.
Cover Photograph Gabriel Radley
Contributing Artists Amanda Lacasse Angela Lufkin Sophia McGovern Francesco Onorato Gabriel Radley Jenilee Rollefstad Ariel Shamas
Contents Letter from the Faculty Editors
Phoenix, Baby (a love poem)
by Annika Cline
Hometown Para El Hombre Que Me Crió, To the Man Who Raised Me
Traditions of a Non-Conformist
Saturday at Ageez Barbershop
The Protectors of Diné’Tah
It’s More than a Game
by Josephine Contreras by Alex Wilson
by Renard Roberts by Kara James
by Drew Andre
College Town Keep Calm and Frat On
ACT’s and SAT’s: The Good, the Bad and the Truth
A League of Our Own, What’s Next? Allowing Female Athletes to Play in Men’s Professional Sports Leagues
Letter to Bleached Blonde Girl
by Jordan DeRego
by Hannah Goodman
by Janay Moffatt
by Karen Belloso
Old Town Chalk Dust
King James Version
by Carol Demarco by Carolina Marquez by Anna Flores
The Bastard Son, Christ by Alex Wilson
Downtown Highs and Lows, Notes from Left Field
Psychoanalysis: Cheerless Junkieâ€™s Elegy
Color and Change for Roosevelt Row Arts District
A Letter to Aaron Lawrence
Art Underfoot: The Heart of Art in Downtown Phoenix
by Linda Pagel
by Carolina Marquez by Jenilee Rollefstad by Grace Massey
by Nicole Genova by Molly Bilker
Around Town Assemblage on the Station Platform
Riding the Bus to Work
The Settling Moment
by Michael Bartelt by Carl Welsh
by Joel Smalley
by Molly Bilker
Uptown Words for Jenny
by Stephanie Bailey by Chloe Brooks by Naomi Alcala
An Open Letter to Stage Moms
by Carolina Marquez by Danielle Quijada
New Town The Writing Prompter V.2
An Analysis of “The Squalid Grace of Flappy Bird”
Police Brutality: A Necessity to Keep Civil Justice?
Destructive Pussy Riots
The Power of the Voice
Miyazaki Films are Moving Masterpieces
by Annika Cline by Ian Bogost
by Aaron Seiple
by Jonathon Kistner by Louisa Stanwich
by Cassidy Trowbridge
Out of Town The Haitian Way: Piti Piti Na’rive
Tree-ness: On the constitution of things
The Great Hot Air Balloon Trauma
Somewhere in the Desert
About the Editorial Staff
About the Authors
by Andre Simms
by Michael Bartelt
by Sophia McGovern by Anna Flores by Molly Bilker by Molly Bilker
Letter from the Faculty Editors First, we’d like to thank Dr. Barbara Lafford, Faculty Head of Languages and Cultures, for her ongoing support of our endeavors, eight years strong. We’d also like to express our undying gratitude to Deanna Johnson Mullican, graphic designer for the College of Letters and Sciences, for her continued partnership with Write On, Downtown as well as her dedication to its evolution. We would also like to extend our sincerest gratitude to Mary Ehret for her continued support of our celebratory launch luncheon and the project in general. As for the student contributions, they’re truly immeasurable, but here’s our best attempt: To our returning photographers — Gabe Radley and Amanda LaCasse — as well as our new artistic contributors — Francesco Onorato, Angela Lufkin, and Ariel Shamas – your stunning work has helped transform this year’s journal into an interactive, visual narrative. To our editorial staff; Molly Bilker, Haley Bosselman, Zack Bunting, Kaitiln Kroum, Sophia McGovern, Terra Pinckley, David Redkey, Tamara Williams-Akins, and our returning editor and graduating senior, Michael Bartelt — your insights and skills made the weeks of scoring seem shorter, the oftentimes grueling layout process the most productive and inventive in the journal’s history. You are our backbone and our motivation, the visionaries we need in order to continue growing this journal. Finally, to all of the student writers and photographers who submitted their work to Write On, Downtown and those whose exemplary work was selected for inclusion — you’re the reason why we do what we do, and you’re the reason why we love our Downtown Phoenix campus. RD & CR
Phoenix, Baby (a love poem) Phoenix, you’re looking good. really good. ave desierta mucho gusto. golden sand city smattered with coffee freckles, mural tattoos on your back-alley walls— don’t try to hide them. i noticed your hazy-hazel eyes the first time i saw you from a plane. they winked with countless streetlights after dark (you’re so bright). and i know your skyscrapers aren’t that tall, but honey, that’s overrated anyway. Phoenix, you have muscle mountain arms. they embrace adventure— never let that wild west thing become too cliché, Southwest skin stubbled with prickly cacti, caressed by chinstrap highway. your smile is missing teeth but shining, and may i say that blue looks a lot better on you than the red you used to wear. just saying. Phoenix you’re hot. really hot. there’s a reason the sun shows you more love than just about anywhere else. Phoenix, i don’t mean to objectify you, i know what you’re like on the inside. my sneakers have walked all your sides and i still love you. stubborn on occasion, holding to concrete beliefs that i don’t often share, but i respect your opinion— independent thinker, open with enough space for change, behind the times sometimes but always staying true, never trending cuz it’s cool and i respect that.
i wanna know what you know, so teach me how to rise from the ashes— soul blazing, lungs sucking smoke and dirt in an attempt to exhale some sense out of the ways you’ve been done wrong. i wanna be there when you need me. Phoenix, you’re blushing in the most beautiful sunset i’ve ever seen. i live in your heart. literally. and you live in mine. figuratively. i wanna grow with you, Phoenix, so i’m staying right here. where i belong.
drawing by Angela Lufkin
photo by Amanda LaCasse
Para El Hombre Que Me Crió, To the Man Who Raised Me by Josephine Contreras
Apa, Grandfather, Do you remember the days in which I would anxiously await the arrival of my cousin, Mark, from Kindergarten? He would walk down our long gravel driveway, sometimes with you and other times with Ama, Grandmother, and sit at our usual spot at the coffee table. A soft breeze would flow across the yard and sweep into our small country home. During times such as these, the long white curtains you had for ages would sweep open and flow in the wind. I remember the times when I would fall asleep in the living room, only to wake up in the middle of the night and mistake them for ghosts. Yours was the bed I always ran to when this happened, and I would cry about the Cucuy, or ghost/boogieman I had experienced. One exceptionally windy day, when you were walking Mark home, the curtains were going crazy, distorting my view of the two of you. The outlines of your bodies far down the driveway appeared to be shadows; shimmering against the sunset, spilling pink and orange across the skies. Once the two of you arrived, Mark sat down next to me and pulled out a pencil and his homework, as he normally did. He then gave me a blank paper and a pencil of my own, but handed the pencil to me in my right hand. It was uncomfortable, and with a frown, I switched my pencil to my left hand. It was Mark’s turn to frown, and he exclaimed, “You’re supposed to write with your right hand!” He proceeded to shove the pencil in my right hand. With the two of us being ridiculously stubborn, our squabble went on for a good few minutes. Eventually Mark gave up on making me write with my right hand, and began showing me the different letters and sentences he was learning. Mark thought I was doing everything wrong, because he did not know people could be left handed. Looking on, you chuckled at our bickering. This is my first memory of writing, and this was also the day I discovered I was left handed. Memories such as these make me think about where I have come from, and how much I have improved in the years of my education. We learned about literary sponsors in class recently, and the first person who came to mind was you, Apa. You always told me education was the most important part of growing up, because you never received an education yourself. You and Ama always pushed me to do my best in school so I would grow up and become successful. 11
Para El Hombre Que Me Crió, To the Man Who Raised Me The Bible was the first book I learned how to read. Ama would spend every night reading it to me. I was always so amazed by the different names within the Bible; most of the time I didn’t actually understand what I was reading aloud. Despite my small attention span, that never stopped her from teaching me. My memories before attending school consisted of this, and of when you would take me to the library for little reading sessions the librarian held for kids who were not in school yet. There were always book-themed parties involving a lot of prizes. Your hulking frame towered over all of the other people within the room. Sometimes I would compare you to the tall, sturdy, and worn bookcases within the library I adored so much. I loved the way you would cross your arms, hold your head up, and just watch the events unfolding before you. You always spoke of how you hated the library and sitting down during the reading parties, and yet you were always there for me. There were always kids screaming with excitement, and throwing objects around the room. It was completely obnoxious, but I know you endured these parties for me, because you wanted me to be as well educated as possible. Because of you and Ama, I learned how to read and write far before Pre-K. The only memory I truly have of Pre-K is the last day. I ran up to you in our beat-up, old, white, Chevy truck and got in, pulling out a Barbie journal from my backpack. My teacher had given it to me as a gift for being a good student all year, and you just gave a soft smile and patted my head. You were not as excited as I thought you would be. Normally when I told you about the rewards I was given, you would exclaim and tell me how proud of me you were. Only this time, there were no exclamations or praise. The smile I loved so much did not spread across your face, and your dimples, which mirrored my own, did not appear. You then told me your brother had passed away and I would be attending a funeral. I did not understand what a funeral was until we got there. That funeral was the first entry in my journal, with awfully scrawled handwriting and a picture of a tombstone, which resembled more of a deformed circle. From that point on, I made it a tradition to keep a journal. It was because of these journals I learned to love writing, and expressing myself through it. There was another influence that enabled me to express myself whenever I wrote. Do you remember Mrs. Steffek? She was my English teacher in middle school, and she is the one who really tuned me in to writing. She knew I had problems with verbally expressing myself, and noticed I spent a majority of my time reading or scribbling little remarks that crossed my mind during class. So she told me to write about others. It did not have to just be about people, but events also. So I began writing, and all of my thoughts flowed into my journals, which resulted in me burning them. I would stay up long into the night, writing until my hand and eyes would ache. You told me I was weird for wasting all of my time writing, only to destroy my work. You could not understand, I had no interest in going back and looking at my past thoughts or feelings of experiences in my life. I had already lived these events and did not feel the need to reminisce. When I did not have anything to say, or did not feel like thinking about other people or events, no writing occurred for me. My first writer’s block occurred at the age of nine, on July 29th, 2005. This day is so specific because this was your 55th wedding anniversary, and also the day my mother passed away. Those anniversary days were always so bittersweet for me, because it was both beautiful and heartbreaking. I stopped writing for a full year, because I was unsure 12
Para El Hombre Que Me Crió, To the Man Who Raised Me of what I was feeling or how to explain it. I did not feel the need to explain myself or my thoughts to anyone or anything. During that time, I began to focus more on reading. You commented on how my face was in books a lot more, and you wanted me to read to you. Years later, you told me that was your way of making sure I was okay. We never talked about my mom, but we always talked about the books I was reading and my feelings about them. In that time period, my reading taste was sci-fi and fantasy, or books about kids dealing with themselves. I wanted to be anywhere but my present, so in order to escape the real world, I resorted to books that were not about reality, or about my problems at least. I felt like there was nothing for me to say, but there was always something for me to read. The moment a thought or feeling swept into my mind was also the moment it flew out, like the breeze of the day I discovered I was left handed. Do you remember us reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower together? My copy of the book is now so worn, it feels like the pages could fall out at any moment. The pages are dogeared and browning with age. When I first received the book, I would stop in your room and we would read a chapter or so. There were always little comments or chuckles from you on how my reading had improved, and it was far better than yours. Then you would tell me the same story of how you could hardly read or write, but you were glad I could because of my education. I learned my love for quotes at this time by reading this book to you. There is a specific quote from the book and it goes, “So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I am still trying to figure out how that could be.” That quote was the only phrase which could explain how I felt during that time, and I began writing again. By writing, I mean I began filling my journals with not only thoughts and feelings, but quotes and song lyrics. These memories with you are what enabled me to relate so well to the autobiography concept of writing introduced to us in class. Anything I wrote was because of an event in my life. Any book I read reflected my mood at that point of time. Any change in my writing occurred because of events or lessons in life. Because of this, whenever someone asks me what I write about, I never know how to answer. I would write about all sorts of topics or thoughts. However, when you would ask me what I was writing about, I would smile and answer, “You.” My favorite smile of yours was always the greatest reaction. I wish I had taken the time to tell you what I said was true. When I was writing, sometimes it truly was about you. Then, the year after you passed away, you were always reflected in my writings. I became obsessed with writing to you, and trying to express all the words I was unable to before, while you were still alive and diminishing away. It took a whole year of trying for me to realize, at some points, there were no words. Nothing seemed good enough, and so I came to the conclusion my mind and heart were at war with themselves. I suppose I was scared of how I felt, and to be honest, I felt rather guilty. Why was I not able to tell you how much you meant to me? It was excruciating, witnessing the man who I always held as so strong and sturdy, wither away before my eyes. Just know the words I wrote, no matter how jumbled or confusing, were and are from the innermost parts of my heart.
Para El Hombre Que Me Crió, To the Man Who Raised Me It is because of this, that if I show someone my writings or books from my personal library, it reflects how strongly I feel about them or how open I am to them. The only person I used to share my books with was you. You are the reason reading and writing has shaped my life, and even saved it. I can look back and reminisce, and realize how far I have come, not only in life but also in my education and as a writer. English became my favorite subject because it was your hardest subject, and it was fun teaching you the little aspects I learned on a specific day or week. I am grateful you always pushed me to do my best and persevere, no matter how hard life got. You saved my life, and I will always be indebted to you. Your death anniversary is coming up, and it is times like these in which I wish I could go back; back to the times on your bed when you would talk to me about my education. There was always the same story of how you came to America as a migrant worker, so you could not get a good education since you were always in the fields. We would laugh at how at one point you were 17 and still in the third grade, and so you decided to drop out. Then you would turn to me and conclude, “Do not ever do that mijita, my daughter. You and your education are the only key to success. Always learn, always read, and do not stop writing for me.” I have not stopped loving my education, reading or writing. I have not stopped, and it is all because of you. Forever your mijita, Josephine Emilia Contreras
photo by Ariel Shamas
Traditions of a Non-Conformist by Alex Wilson
The wings of a Sailor Jerryâ€™s sparrow fade with time. Honolulu soldiers jump through rebel history. Lines run from shop fronts to bordello last stands. The death of war mixes with the permanence of ink. Cased animal skulls rot, cat flesh falls to dust. His eyes toy with mechanic puzzles. Forever machines and hipster coffee makers, the artistic ramblings of an empty head. The word love adorns his neck. The word love adorns his knuckles. He lines a squid how Jerry would, all style and honesty, all simple with flair. Behind him the back room contains broken Vespas, electricity and items powered by it, weed, and a door to a gravel lot.
Saturday at Ageez Barbershop by Renard Roberts
It’s Saturday morning. You are excited and eager for tonight because you have a date with the finest girl in Arizona, but then you look in the mirror. Your hair is nappy as hell, so you know you have to go to the barbershop. If you’re like me, you head over to Ray and Arizona Avenue where Ageez Barbershop, the busiest shop in Arizona, is located. Ageez has built a reputation for providing the best haircuts in an old school barbershop environment. The atmosphere is the added bonus; the shop is relaxed and just an enjoyable place to be. OJ, a sixth-grade kid, who helps out around the barbershop said, “The atmosphere is not serious. We joke around, have fun, talk about sports, and have open conversation” (OJ, personal communication, 10/04/14). On a typical Saturday afternoon, Ageez will be packed and filled with interesting banter. On this particular Saturday in October, one side of the barbershop is having a serious debate about the Ebola crisis and what needs to be done about it. On the other side of the shop, the dynamic is completely different. The barbers and customers are interacting like old friends; clowning on one another is commonplace. The conversations are always entertaining. One common topic is women. One guy said, “If a girl is looking flawless, have me drooling, but she hasn’t touched her feet, I can’t do it,” which made many of us who were listening to the conversation crack up. This is just the type atmosphere that people looking for a “classic” barbershop love. Ageez Barbershop gets its name from owner Anthony Gathers who is also known as “A.G.” (“About Us,” 2014). Anthony opened the shop in 1996 as the first “black barbershop” in the East Valley (“About Us,” 2014). He founded this barbershop to provide a sense of community and style. The barbershop’s website promises “stop by Ageez and you’ll be sure to get the latest in sports, politics, religion, and family.” The most popular day at Ageez is Saturday. People of all ages flood the barbershop from the time the doors open at eight in the morning until closing at six p.m. The slogan for Ageez that appears on a large sign in front of the shop is “we specialize in all styles.” The seven barbers who work there specialize in Fades, Afros, and Mohawks. People come in requesting various cuts and styles, and leave more than satisfied. Going to Ageez is like going to see family and close friends. When I asked Marv, one of the barbers, about the
Saturday at Ageez Barbershop atmosphere in Ageez, he said, “It’s relaxed and enjoyable” (Marv, personal communication, 10/04/14). There was a large bench area in the heart of the barbershop where I sat down next to a child and his father, which speaks to the diversity of ages in the shop and the family atmosphere. Looking around the barbershop, a word that perfectly describes the decor is vintage. Hanging on the walls is sports memorabilia as well as artwork depicting the inside of different barbershops. Near the back of the barbershop is a wall that is dedicated to Muhammad Ali with pictures of him in the ring along with some of his most inspirational quotes. Televisions playing the best college football games hang the walls. Occasionally when there’s a big play, everyone, including the barbers, stops what they are doing and shifts their attention to the screens. Once in a while a debate on sports, social welfare, or other issues will come up between the barbers and customers. Sometimes the people in the discussion will get so passionate about what they believe to be right that everyone in Ageez will be engaged in the debate. The shop is separated into two sides. On the left side, there are three chairs in a line. Each chair serves as the barber’s workstation. Starting from the front, the first barber goes by the name Prince. He loves sports and is a mentor to many of the youth that come into the shop. Isaiah stands next to him. Isaiah is the youngest and newest barber to Ageez, but he can cut many different styles. At the end is Bryan, who is also one of the youngest barbers but has a lot of experience cutting hair. On the other side of the barbershop are the other four barbers, whose chairs align across from the barbers on the other side. Nearest to the entrance is Donny; his chair is rarely empty. He is a good person to talk to, and I’ve had multiple conversations with Donny. He always gives me insight and inspiration. Next to him is the Los Angeles Laker fanatic, Alonzo. His expertise is in cutting fades and tapers. Third in line on the right side is the elder of the barbershop, Marv, who is the most experienced barber at Ageez. His finished product speaks to his experience and tenure. At the end of the barbershop is Mark. He is one of the most consistent barbers when it comes to high quality haircuts. These barbers all contribute to making this one of the most successful barbershops in Arizona and preserving the family oriented service Ageez is known for. There are three barbers in particular that help Ageez stand out from an ordinary barbershop. The first one to highlight is Marv. He has been cutting hair for over 20 years and a barber at Ageez about ten years. Every time that I go to the barbershop on Saturday, he is there serving customers from open to close. When I asked him what his favorite part of being a barber was, his response was “meeting and interacting with many different people” (Marv, personal communication, 10/04/14). I recognize Marv as the elder of the barbershop not just because of his age but also his wisdom. When a debate pops up, his voice is often heard, and most people end up agreeing with him. His views are highly respected in the barbershop. From experience, we move to the freshest barber at Ageez, Isaiah. Although Isaiah has only been at Ageez for about two years now, he has plenty of experience as a barber and is actually the one who cuts my own hair. He is one of the shortest in height compared to the other barbers, and also one of the most mild mannered. Isaiah doesn’t express too much emotion, but I’ve learned over time that he is very intelligent. He will often school me on 17
Saturday at Ageez Barbershop different things that I can take away from the barbershop along with my clean haircut. While I was at the barbershop one Saturday, I asked him why he chose to come to Ageez, and he said, “because of the reputation that Ageez had around the valley.” Isaiah has had a lot of success as a barber as well as an impact on the way I see the world and approach life. Prince, one of the most popular in the barbershop, has been working in Ageez for over twelve years. Prince exhibits many qualities that make him an amiable barber. He has a son that is now a freshman in high school and on the football team. His experience as a father and former coach gives him the ability to connect to the youth at the barbershop. He is well connected to the community and has strong relationships with different people. As a man who is involved in his community, he is able to speak on the same level with the people that sit in his chair. When I talked with him about his experiences as a barber at Ageez, he mentioned what he remembers the most is watching boys grow to be men (Prince, personal communication, 10/04/14). From the time the barbershop opened in 1996, it has established itself as a hotspot for a diverse group of people. Ageez’s diversity gives you an awesome opportunity to network and expand your presence in the community. Another thing that makes this barbershop such a special place, especially for black men, is that it provides us a two-hour escape from the stresses and burdens of the world. And if you go to Ageez as a regular like I do, which is every other Saturday, you leave with not only a great haircut, but with a sense of renewal, which is something we all need every once in a while. For the youth, Ageez is more than just a place to get a quality haircut to show off at school. It’s a place full of experience from men of different backgrounds. Both boys and young men have access to excellent male role models, a necessity in every young man’s life. My fondest memories as a child going to Ageez were sitting on the bench just listening in on the conversations from barbers and customers. As the time now approaches six p.m., the barbers are finishing up with the people in their chairs. It has been a long day for them. Isaiah told me there have been Saturdays where it has been so busy in the barbershop that he wouldn’t eat at all that day (Isaiah, personal communication, 10/04/14). When barbers finish their last cut, they go around giving daps to the remaining barbers and walk out. When the last barber is done, he turns off the lights, locks the door, and recaps the day’s laughter and animated discussions — another Saturday at Ageez.
References Gathers, A. (n.d.). About Us. Retrieved October 28, 2014 from http://ageezbarbershop.net/about-us/
The Protectors of Diné’Tah by Kara James
In the beginning when the world was created, the Diyin Diné (Holy People) gave the Diné (The People) a choice. In one hand they held yellow corn pollen and in the other they held leetso (Yellow Dirt/Uranium). They had to make a decision because they could not have both. In Navajo belief, the yellow corn pollen possesses the positive elements of life. Therefore, the Diné chose yellow corn pollen and the Diyin Diné placed leetso beneath the Earth. Uranium was thought of as an element of the underworld that should remain beneath the ground. According to Yellow Dirt: A Poisoned Land and the Betrayal of the Navajos (2010), the Diyin Diné warned the Diné that if leetso was to be dug out only bad events would follow. “They say they were warned by one of their own not to intertwine their fates with Leetso.” (Pasternak, p. 33) However the Diné went against their warning and in the 1940’s, Leetso (Yellow Monster) was born. The Navajo Reservation is one of the largest Indian reservations in the United States. The Navajo Nation sits on 27,425 square miles in the four corners area of the southwest. It is home to the majority of the more than 250,000 enrolled members of the Navajo Tribe who live in sparsely populated towns and isolated homesteads that dot the countryside. This area holds an estimated 25 percent of recoverable uranium in the US (LaDuke, 2005) and has become the center of uranium mining and production. This dark history has left the land scarred and its inhabitants ill. Long ago, when the Navajo emerged into the fourth world, four sacred mountains were created in each of the four directions. The area enclosed within these sacred boundaries became known as Dinétah (The Land of The People). These lands range from desolate stretches of rock and dirt, to lush mountains, to strikingly beautiful sandstone canyons, to volcanic stone moments that rise precipitously above the plains. In 1864, the Navajo were forced off their land and relocated to the Bosque Redondo Reservation. Four years later, the Navajo were able to return to their homeland in which a reservation was created that covered the four corners area - the states of Arizona, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico. “[A] lone of all the Indian tribes forced from their homes, the Navajo had come to the one place where they belong” (Pasternak, 2010, p.12). The white men showed up in the summer of 1943 (Pasternak, 2010) As summer became fall, the white men continued to pour in. According to Adakai, Son of Woman with the Stone House and Man with the Red Hair, “The Diné kept an eye on the intruders, watching as one group took over a vacant cabin near a trading post.” (In Pasternak, 2010). If asked, the white men would explain they worked for an International Mining Concern. They 19
The Protectors of Diné’Tah scaled and sketched the ranges of the land as far as the eye could see. They didn’t reveal what they were really after: uranium for atomic bombs and nuclear warfare. The Navajo had a complicated history with white men who wanted to exploit their resources (Pasternak, 2010). The tribe claims jurisdiction over any territory where mining would affect Navajo residents, regardless of who owns the land or the mineral rights (Madden, 2014). Mining executives argue that the tribal ban does not apply to their leaseholdings in an area known as the “checkerboard,” at the reservation’s southeast edge. This is where the tribe’s communal land gives way to a hodgepodge of parcels held by federal and state agencies, private businesses, and other owners. Places like Church Rock and Crownpoint are a part of this checkerboard and have solution-mining sites planned on their lands (Madden, 2014). When the uranium mines opened, Navajo men were able to work closer to home. The railroad working life was behind them. A few Navajo miners felt that the yellow dirt was similar to corn pollen because they were helping retrieve this element for the nuclear bombs during World War II. They believed they would be compensated once the war was over. A few landowners would lease their land for mining because they needed the money to survive. The Navajo were unaware of the potential dangers yellow dirt could cause them when they extracted it from the mines; the Navajo had no word for radiation. They were not informed of health hazards and dangers caused by uranium mining. It was during this time an Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) doctor thought it was a great idea to use “Navajo miners as a natural experiment, letting dire health consequences unfold without explaining the hazards involved” (Kahn, 2010). This study was between AEC and the Public Health Service. Doctors did not warn miners of their risk for illness, suffering, and death. The majority of the Navajo population could not speak English nor had prior education. “When my father operated a mine, he never said that he was ever told about uranium.” (George Tutt, Timothy Benally Interview) As time went on, many Navajos fell ill. Traditional Navajo healers did not have a clue as to what caused illness among the men. Medical doctors simply stated that the individual was dying. Many of the illness caused by radiation included cancer and lung and heart complications. One by one the men were dying off, leaving behind their wives and children. Once the illness spread across the land in the 1960’s, widows came together to form a group to discuss the sudden deaths of their husbands and the actions needed to get their message across to the U.S Government. “Several of these women became leaders in the fight for justice for uranium miners and their families. The traditional Navajo view of the earth as their mother had been disregarded in the quest for financial gain, as she was repeatedly pierced, blown up, and destroyed in the quest for the ‘yellow dirt’” (Kahn, 2010). After many years’ struggle to bring the Mother back to balance, these women succeeded; the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) passed in 1990. Amended in 2000, this act provided extended financial compensation and an apology to many workers (Brugge, Benally, Yazzie, 2001) who contracted certain cancers and other serious diseases. Included were those exposed to radiation released during above-ground nuclear weapons tests and those exposed to radiation during employment in underground uranium mines (Health Resources & Service Administration). Many Navajos feel this “compassionate 20
The Protectors of Diné’Tah compensation” is not enough. Harry Badoni, a former miner (now deceased), points out how inadequate the compensation was in one case: My sister called on me at home last summer. She told me that she needed a new lung on one side. We talked about this at length. She said that the doctors quoted her over $300,000 for this operation … I think it is a shame that the government compensation for the miners is a mere $100,000, not even half the price of a new lung. We are dying and nothing can be done about it. (Brugge, Benally, Yazzie-Lewis, 2001) Furthermore, widows had a different perspective about the compensation. Dorothy Joe says, “No amount of money is worth a life. We lost our loved ones. They’re gone forever. We’ll never see them again. Money doesn’t talk; it does not have feelings such as love. It cannot talk to you and hug you. Our children will never know how it feels to be hugged by their fathers” (Brugge, Benally, Yazzie, 2001). Moreover, some Navajos in Church Rock and Crownpoint, New Mexico were victims of the nation’s worst radioactive uranium spill. In 1979, a liquid uranium tailings dam was breached and 100 million gallons of radioactive liquid spilled into Navajo waterways (LaDuke 2005). After 35 years, the cleanup of the nearby mill is bogged down in disagreement between United Nuclear Corps and federal regulators. In 1994, the U.S. Geological Survey confirmed that Kerr-McGee and other mines discharged radioactive waste in the Puerco between 1960–1962 and 1968–1986. Today, there are over 1,000 uranium mines abandoned on the Navajo Reservation. The majority of which have been left without proper cleaning and disposal of waste. Much of the waste left behind by mining corporations made its way into water sources and into nearby areas. This radioactive waste causes illnesses which make living conditions in certain regions unfit (Woody, 2013). Moreover, children were born with birth defects without investigation of environmental risk factors: A study funded by the March of Dimes in Shiprock, New Mexico showed that a mother living near a uranium mine or mill was more likely to have a child with a birth defect known as Navajo neuropathy, a syndrome found in Navajo children that caused hooked fingers and toes and liver and eye damage … [It was thought that this defect] did not have an environmental etiology … [R]esearchers decided that it was related to genetic mutation creating inborn error of metabolism; … although [a] pediatric neurologist who saw many of these children considered uranium exposure as a possible cause. (Kahn, 2001) Pasternak (2006) concludes, “From the 1940’s into the early twenty-first century, the United States knowingly used and discarded an entire tribe for the sake of the atomic bomb” (p. 34). In 2005, the Navajo Nation finally banned uranium mining on its land. Acts of cleaning and proper disposal of mines are still being discussed with federal regulators. Since theses events that took place on the Navajo Reservation, the Navajo Nation is taking precautionary steps to mining within or around the reservation. Mining companies returned in hopes of 21
The Protectors of Diné’Tah gaining permission from the Navajo Nation to continue mining on the reservation. They stated they learned from their mistakes and now they have advanced technology, which is considered safe. In Hydro Resource Inc. proposals, the uranium would be removed by in situ leach mining, a process of injecting chemicals into the ground to strip the uranium from the underlying sandstone. “The in situ leaching process has been shown to increase concentrations of uranium, other radioactive elements, and heavy metals in the groundwater by up to 100,000 times” (LaDuke, 2005). However, the Navajo Nation is not pleased with their proposal. As long as the tribe continues the ban of uranium mining, it can begin the cleaning process of the many mines left abandoned throughout the reservation. In order to prevent a tragic event, such as the uranium mining on Navajo land of the 1940’s, one must be able to recall the past to protect the future. During the 1940’s, a large majority of the Navajo didn’t understand what was going on; now there are more educated members. Education is the key to preventing the same event by learning from the mistakes in order to make a better future. As Adakai explains, If you are wise and can understand teachings it will take you through life” (Paternak, 2010). Thus, Mitchell Capitan, President of the Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining, who lives less than half a mile north of the uranium processing plant at Crownpoint declares: For more than twenty years, we will be exposed to “acceptable” levels of additional radiation to which we are not now exposed, in places where we live, pray, hold ceremonies, work, buy food, haul water, educate our children, and seek medical care and wellness. In the face of this clear and unjust risk, why should anyone expect us to sit by quietly and happily embrace our new neighbor, the uranium processing plant? (Shaiman, 1998) The amount of damage the U.S government has caused the Navajo Nation and its people cannot be compensated for. The Navajo were placed between four sacred mountains. The area within these mountains became known as Dinétah. This land was given to us by the Holy People — each stretch of land made with care. We are the protectors of this land; without it we lose ourselves. A nation without land is a nation without identity. This is our home; where would we go if it was destroyed? We must protect the land for future generations to come. This is our land, our home, it is Dinétah.
The Protectors of Diné’Tah
References Brugge, D., Benally, T., & Yazzie-Lewis, E. (2001). Uranium mining on Navajo Indian land. Retrieved from: http://www.culturalsurvival.org/publications/cultural-survival-quarterly/united-states/ uranium-mining-navajo-indian-land HRSA. (n.d.). In Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved from: http://www.hrsa.gov/gethealthcare/ conditions/radiationexposure/faq.html Kahn, L. (2011). Book review: Yellow Dirt: An American Story of a Poisoned Land and a People Betrayed. Policy, Politics and Nursing Practice, 12(3), 186-188. Retrieved from Academic Search Premiere [EBSCOhost] database. LaDuke, W. (2014). Navajos ban uranium mining. Earth Island Journal. Retrieved from Academic Search Premiere [EBSCOhost] database. Madden, M. (2014). Mining firms again eyeing Navajo land. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com Pasternak, J. (2010). Yellow dirt: a poisoned land and the betrayal of the Navajos. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster. Reese, A. (2011, May). Navajo group to take uranium mine challenge to human rights commission.” New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com Shaiman, M. (1998). Uranium mining on Navajo lands. Race & Class. Retrieved from Academic Search Premiere [EBSCOhost] database. Shebala, M. (2009). Poison in the Earth. Navajo Times. Retrieved from: http://navajotimes.com Woody, B. (2013). Navajo Nation battles uranium corporations, nuclear industry. Retrieved from: http://www.pslweb.org/liberationnews/news/uranium-and-the-navajo-nation.html
photo by Gabriel Radley
It’s More than a Game by Drew Andre
It’s game time and we have a highly anticipated matchup staring two-playoff caliber teams. Wearing the school clothes is Drew Andre. Wearing the suits is the Education System. These squads have been competing for years and by now there is a fierce rivalry. We call it a rivalry, but most of the time the education system comes out on top, as they are the best team in the league. This year they have managed to take down every other team that has crossed their path. Other squads like Jimmy and Sara have won in previous matches but the resounding favorite for tonight’s matchup is the Educational System. Let’s get to know the players from both teams. Starting with team Drew Andre: This team is lead by strong sponsors that have helped him be successful for years. The leading scorer for the Drew’s is his mom. Since he began to speak, his mom has been leading the way as his main literary sponsor. She spent a lot of nights reading and making team Drew better and more comfortable with literacy. Every day she coached him by showing him the importance of reading, and made him enjoy literacy. As the years have gone on she has continued to promote him to advance his skills in literature. Another key component to this team is the rest of Drew’s family. They have always supported him and helped him advance in literacy by reading to him and by leading by example. All of his grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and his father have been instrumental in this development. Nearly everyone in his family has been successful in education, graduating college, and then getting quality jobs. This has made Drew want to be strong in literacy. The remaining players for Team Drew Andre are the X-factors for Drew’s development; they include, his freshman through junior year English teachers. They have joined the team more recently but have been very important in the growth of this squad. All three of them taught Drew different practices to improve his literary abilities. They pushed hard and worked to make Drew the best he could be. Given that they were honors teachers; they forced him to improve his skills and develop even more. Now the lineup for the Educational System: Starting at quarterback and the general of this team is the School Board. They work hard to make the way students are taught boring, and don’t force good teaching. This strategy has led them to years of success against the student teams. They make sure to make the curriculum is filled with books and essays they know the kids will not enjoy such as Shakespearian plays, and long novels like Great Expectations. The System does not care about the students themselves. This tactic has made them a dominant force throughout the league. The right hand men to the school 26
It’s More than a Game board on this roster are bad teachers. Teachers who are lazy and don’t work to make their students better do a great job of destroying any students in their way and that has helped them win, again and again. The Educational System is not afraid to play dirty and this is why all other teams hate them. They are truly a tough opponent, but lets see how Team Drew fairs. It’s time for kickoff … and we’re off. Team Drew elects to receive the ball. After a kneel in the end zone the Drew’s have the ball on their own 20 yard line. Drew steps back into the pocket and see’s an open receiver and he launches the ball up and his mom makes grab over the strong defense and there she goes, to the 40, the 30, the 10, touchdownnnnn Drew! Team Drew gets off to a big start getting on the board right away. In Drew’s early life he felt good about literacy; he wanted to learn and he wanted to get to know everything he could. He found learning interesting and therefore he enjoyed it. With the help of his grade school teachers and his family Drew was successful. Team Drew continued to dominate in the first quarter and the educational system has been playing so poor, if anything, they have only been helping team Drew so far. At the end of one: Drew 14, Educational System 0. We head to the second quarter and the matchup is beginning to heat up as we’re seeing some fire from the Educational System. The defense has looked strong in this second quarter for them, as they’ve been doing a fabulous job holding off the Drew’s offense not allowing them to advance. However Team Drew continues to fight back playing strong defense of their own. Only a field goal scored in the second quarter and it’s by the Educational System. Going into halftime Team Drew 14 and The Educational System 3. Looking back at that quarter Drew is getting older. He’s now in junior high where he’s beginning to have to be more independent and he has more responsibilities. This scene is a lot different than elementary school. The classes are much more packed, the workload is harder, and the teachers aren’t as focused on individuals. However Drew has been able to stay focused with the skills he has learned in the past. Will he be able to hold on? We’ll find out right now … Welcome back it is time for second half action. The educational system will start the third quarter with the ball. The System looks ready to go and they score within the first two minutes of the half. I don’t know what was said in that locker room, but whatever was said it worked. Educational System closes the gap on Team Drew’s lead; it’s 14 to 10. Team Drew has the ball now and Drew throws an interception right into the hands of his bad teacher Lazy English, who will run it all the way back for a pick 6. The educational system will take their first lead of the game 17 to 14. Team Drew has entered this second half looking sluggish. On the other side of the field however the Educational System is looking stronger then ever. It’s almost as if they’re growing stronger with every failure by Team Drew. The Drew’s have the ball and are working their way up the field. First and 10 on the Educational Systems 30 yard line. Drew hands off to his Freshman Year English teacher who takes it up the middle to 20 to the 10 it looks like it might be enough … but no Freshman English is stripped from behind by School Board, fumble! The Educational System recovers. Team Drew loses possession after what seemed like a promising drive. The Educational system takes their time working the ball up the field and eventually score right before the end of the third quarter. 24 to 14, Educational System. 27
It’s More than a Game Drew, now a high school student, has found himself falling behind in literacy. He has tried but has not put nearly enough time in to be very successful in high school. It is no longer up to his sponsors to help him; it has to take his own will power to succeed. He doesn’t have much time left as he has fallen behind but it’s still possible for him to come out on top. It is the fourth quarter and we have had a great matchup so far in this game. Team Drew has shown he can compete but the effective Educational System has been too much for the Drew’s. Lets get down to the action and Team Drew has possession. They go three and out and are forced to punt after a good defensive drive for the educational system. As the quarter continues we see an absolute battle from teams. Team Drew refuses to be taken down by the clearly stronger Educational System. Back and forth we go no team being able to get on the board. Team Drew has looked strong this quarter but has not been able to get their offense going. Five minutes remaining in the contest, the Drew’s are on the Educational Systems 40 yard line. Team Drew is able to gain eight yards, but not enough for the first down and they will settle for the field goal attempt. Drew’s senior year Journalism teacher steps up to take the daunting 42-yard field goal. Here’s the kick on its way … and good through the uprights! Team Drew makes it a one-possession game. 17-24. The Educational System starts their drive with four minutes remaining in the game. The System works its way up the field, keeping the ball on the ground to keep the clock running. They’re at the 50-yard line now and its 3rd and 2. If the Drew’s can’t get a stop here it will mean the game. Principal Oblivious is in the backfield. The System snaps the ball and hands off to the Principal who takes it up the gut and it looks like he will get the firs — NO! The tackle is made, and the referee spots the ball short of the first down marker! Team Drew is still alive! Now it’s Drew’s offenses turn. 1:52 remaining in the game Educational System 24, Team Drew 17. The Drew’s will take it on their own 20-yard line. Drew Andre at quarterback is moving the chains. Three completions in a row! The clock is running, under 30 seconds left in the game Drew steps back out of the pocket. He has no open receivers, and it looks like he is going to take it! Yes, he heads up the left side of the field, jukes a defender and then breaks a tackle. He has an open look at the end zone. To 15 to the 10 touchdown Drew!!! Unbelievable! Team Drew scores! 23-24 now the score, and the question remains; will they play it safe and tie the game with an extra point attempt, or go for two and the win? They call time to discuss the matter. We’re back and here comes the offensive team for the Drew’s and they are going for it! I can’t believe it, an extremely risky play that will either win them the game, or cost them the game. They’re going all in for this one. Drew takes the snap steps back looks into the end zone and lobs a pass up to College in the back of the end zone. College jumps and reaches up with one hand … and he has it! It’s good! Team Drew Scores! Team Drew wins in remarkable fashion, 25 to 24; the Educational System cannot believe it. Some how team Drew perseveres and wins knocking off the undefeated Educational System! Although Drew faltered at times in high school by the time he got to his senior year he realized what he had to do to be successful, and where he wants to go in life. Instead of being beaten down by the system whose goal is to do such, Drew makes it into college 28
Itâ€™s More than a Game and begins to work harder than ever with a goal to continue his education, and make the most out of his literacy opportunities. The big bad Educational System was unsuccessful in stopping Drew from going down the hole that many kids have gone through dropping out of school, and not continuing their education. Instead, Drew and his team of literary sponsors are victorious and get to move on to the real world. AND THATâ€™S THE GAME LADIES AND GENTLEMAN!
photo by Gabriel Radley
Keep Calm and Frat On by Jordan DeRego
Dear ASU frat boy who thinks he is God’s gift to Earth, society, ASU, and sorority girls everywhere: “Keep Calm and Frat On” What exactly does it mean to “frat on?” Does it mean to wear an American tank top? Does it mean to drink all of the alcohol in the greater Tempe area? Does it mean to get your charter revoked hazing? Does it mean to take pictures of your brother’s drunken girlfriend to post on Instagram? Does it mean to host a racist party in honor of an American holiday? Or maybe it means to make a pornographic video in the chapter house? According to the Oxford dictionary the definition of a frat boy is, “a young man who behaves in a boisterous or foolish manner considered typical of members of college fraternities.” Your everyday boisterous/foolish behavior includes everything that you think is cool. For instance: wearing Sperrys, short shorts, obnoxious colored polos, bro tanks, and snap backs OR wearing a suit in 100 degree weather; coming unprepared to class and/or being 25 minutes late to class with Jimmy Johns; riding your skateboard to/from class full speed down Palm Walk; flashing your Greek letters in an attempt to increase your chance of a hookup, pretending you’re interested in a girl’s hometown in order to “get some,” and yelling provocative things at girls walking down Apache (in the hopes of getting some). For “Bill Fratty,” president of Beta Beta Beta a 5’4, 130 pound junior at ASU, winning a girl over definitely begins with the following Q & A: “Do you know what would look good on you? Me.” These are clearly the words every girl longs to hear. And then there’s the appealing behavior of Bill Fratty at one of his Greek events. The men of Beta Beta Beta were asked to show up twice a week to practice for a performance. President Bill told one of his brothers he was going to be a little late to practice because he was “sick.” However, he showed up with no signs of being deathly ill, 10 minutes late with a Jimmy Johns sandwich and stated, “The party don’t start ‘til I walk in.” OK, I know, boys are never reliable and are always late but when you are the president of your fraternity and a representation of Greek life … Bill Fratty and his species are also fueled by websites such as Total Frat Move. TFM is a website of news and entertainment that condones or highlights the activity of frat boys. Anyone can submit a TFM post to the website and be praised for their obnoxious behavior. 33
Keep Calm and Frat On For example, one of my favorite posts from yesterday states, “Proposing a toast in honor of myself. #TFM” If there was a card you could send to yourself saying, “Congratulations on being hot and awesome” fraternity men would do it. I would also like to point out that TFM is populated by many stories specifically related to or publicized about ASU fraternity men. Because TFM applauds this kind of behavior, many fraternity men find it funny and cool to act like an asshole. At special events, Bill Fratty may be found doing something egregiously inappropriate, for example, something defamatory toward women, possibly even racist, such as attending the party thrown by a member in Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) fraternity chapter at ASU on January 19th 2014. According to The Huffington Post, 16 members of TKE faced suspension from the frat because of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day inspired party where people dressed up in racially offensive costumes (Kingkade, 2014, para. 1). Pictures posted on social media sites had hashtags that read, “#blackoutformlk, #ihaveadream, #watermeloncup, #hood” (Hamedy, 2014, para. 3). Granted, the men in charge of hosting this party obviously were not very bright and don’t understand the concept of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but it also doesn’t excuse their behavior. Urban Dictionary even seems to have a similar opinion: Frat boy: A college kid who thinks he’s better than everyone else because he is in a fraternity. Some college kids are frat boys even though they aren’t in a fraternity. Frat boy behaviour is typified by drinking shitty beer, hitting on high school girls, making fun of punks, and wearing boring clothes. (dolaor, 2007) Bill Fratty will one day graduate from college, leave his frat house, and become a defense attorney or a CEO. Bill will be a husband and a father and ASU Greek life will just be a past memory of college. For society’s sake, hopefully Bill Fratty will have grown out of his barbaric behavior by then. Bill, my final beef with you is this: If frat boys were just a smidge humble, then you might actually be nice guys. There are over 20 fraternities on ASU’s campus with decentlooking guys, but the minute they slap those Greek letters on their shirt they might as well tattoo the word TOOL across their forehead. I’ve written this letter “about” Bill Fratty more so than “to” Bill Fratty because I know that Bill Fratty rarely reads, and he never reads anything of substance. Therefore, you could consider this a public service announcement to all of society dealing with incompetent fraternity men. Loyally, A Sorority Girl
Keep Calm and Frat On
References Definition of frat boy in English:. (n.d.). frat boy: definition of frat boy in Oxford dictionary (American English) (US). Retrieved April 24, 2014, from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/ us/definition/american_english/frat-boy dolaor. (2007, September 22). frat boy. Urban Dictionary. Retrieved April 24, 2014, from http:// www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=frat%20boy Hamedy, S. (2014, January 31). Arizona State fraternity apologizes for MLK-themed party mocking blacks. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 24, 2014, from http://articles.latimes.com/2014/ jan/31/nation/la-na-nn-asu-fraternity-apology-20140131 Kingkade, T. (2014, January 25). ASU Fraternity Members Involved In Racist MLK Party Could Face Expulsion. The Huffington Post. Retrieved April 24, 2014, from http://www.huffingtonpost. com/2014/01/25/asu-fraternity-mlk-racist-party-expulsion_n_4666258.html Total Frat Move. (n.d.). Total Frat Move. Retrieved April 24, 2014, from http://totalfratmove.com
photo by Gabriel Radley
ACT’s and SAT’s:
The Good, the Bad, and the Truth by Hannah Goodman
Anxiety rushes through you. Your senses sharpen and you can hear everything. Off to your left the clock ticks, counting down the seconds, erasing time. To your right is that guy who you vaguely recognize from either history or biology class; you are not quite sure. You can see delicate beads of sweat slowly rolling down his face. The papers in front of you are filled with bubbles labeled a. b. c. d. or e. Only some of the bubbles are filled in and time is running out. The girl in front of you chews on her number two pencil, and the girl next to her nervously taps hers against the desk. Somebody coughs, another person sneezes. You look down at your SAT. The test you are currently in the process of taking holds your future. However, many question whether or not the American College Testing Program, ACT, and the Scholastic Aptitude Test, SAT, are accurate and effective ways to measure a student’s knowledge. In 1901, before the SAT and ACT, students who applied to Columbia, Barnard and New York University were the first to take College Board exams. High school teachers and colleges created the College Boards, exhausting essay tests in subjects such as chemistry, psychics, Latin, history and math. “The College Board was the standard-setter for American education,” educational historian Diane Ravitch stated. “[It] said ‘these are the works we want students to study’” (Barnes, 2002). Psychologist Carl Brigham, a firm believer in IQ testing, created the Scholastic Aptitude Test in 1926. Brigham thought he would be able to predict an applicant’s future success in college. In 1959, 33 years after the creation of the SAT, the ACT was created due to the increase in students enrolling in college. The ACT is the SAT’s biggest competition. However, the ACT differs from the SAT in that the SAT was supposed to measure a student’s ability to learn, where the ACT measures what a student already knows. How can a student’s knowledge be measured if the student has not yet learned the information? Brigham began to realize that the SAT could be detrimental to school curriculums. He did not want teachers to start teaching students the test (Barnes, 2002). 38
ACT’s and SAT’s: The Good, the Bad, and the Truth In 2005, Brigham’s worst fear became reality. The SAT’s intent shifted from an IQ test to a measurement of academic preparedness, and the education system shifted with it. Schools began to “teach the test” to their students, causing a lot of controversy. Kim Nunlist, a high school teacher in Berkley, California believes ACT and SAT are completely ineffective. “I teach how to take a multiple-choice test … [it is] completely inapplicable to the rest of life” (Barnes, 2002). Choosing the right multiple choice question will not help you find a job, it will not help you get groceries, and it will not help you feed your family. The problem with schools teaching the test is the information is so limited to certain areas of study that students are not receiving a well-cultured education anymore. Instead, they are learning how to eliminate multiple-choice answers and then make their best guess. When will these skills be applied to life outside of academia? Furthermore, according to Robert Schaeffer, public education director for the Bostonbased National Center for Fair and Open Testing (also known as FairTest) “Test scores are a common yardstick, and that’s a falsehood unless the yardstick is made of elastic or silly putty … Kids whose parents have money can buy them higher scores on the SAT or ACT through coaching courses and private tutors to help them beat the test” (Moore, 2007). Schaeffer makes a good point. Researcher Linda Valli, who conducted a study on fourth and fifth graders and their curriculum found, “With the press of high-stakes assessments, teachers’ conceptions of teaching quality seem to be narrowing” (Valli & Croninger, 2000). In an interview, Valli elaborates: We were simply looking for good teaching practices, but what we found during the study was the shift to high-stakes testing actually undermined the quality of teaching in reading and math. Our data shows that what we would call high-quality teaching decreased over that period of time. There were declines in teaching higher-order thinking, in the amount of time spent on complex assignments, and the actual amount of high-cognitive content in the curriculum. We believe these declines are related to the pressure teachers were feeling to “teach the test.” Of course, this runs counter to the stated idea of No Child Left Behind, which is for students to achieve rigorous standards. It is not what we set out to find, but it is what we discovered. (Jacobs, 2007) According to Tamar Lewin’s recent article in the New York Times, David Coleman, President of the College Board, announced in March 2014 that there will be programs for low income families to help out with the application cost of SAT’s (2014). This is beneficial for low-income students who have been affected by the cost of the SAT. However, waiving the SAT fee will not solve the problem; low-income families in low-income areas receive an education that does not compare to a high-income family’s educatio. (“Defining the SAT,” 2009) Waiving the fee of the SAT’s does not solve the educational gap between high-income and low-income schools. Statistically, students who come from high-income high schools do better on the SATs and ACTs than the students who come from low-income schools (“Defining the SAT,” 2009). Because of this educational gap, waiving the fee is not going to benefit most low-income students, since the majority of low-income students will test academically inferior to high-income students anyway. 39
ACT’s and SAT’s: The Good, the Bad, and the Truth In 2007, Caren Scoropanos, a spokeswoman for the College Board claimed, “The SAT is, together with high school grades, the number one predictor in first year [performance] of college. It’s more predictive than high school grades alone” (Moore, 2007). This may have been true back in 2007, but the current president of the College Board recently admitted that high school grades are a better predictor for student success in college compared to the standardized tests (Lewin, 2014). Dr. Mary Beth Gasman, an assistant professor at Pennsylvania University’s Graduate School of Education agrees, “Tests only have limited ability to predict success. They tend to be relied upon heavily by people in admissions … you can’t expect people to perform equally on the test when you have not prepared them equally” (Moore, 2007). Everyone comes from different backgrounds and can perceive the wordy and confusing ACT and SAT test questions differently. The test does not take into account the diversity of its participants, nor does it take into account the amount of preparation each student receives; thus, the test is almost completely unfair. In a 2009 interview with Valarie Strauss, a reporter for The Washington Post, Robert Schaeffer advocated for test optional admissions, “FairTest has strongly criticized the misuse and overuse of the SAT (and ACT) because independent research … demonstrates that the tests are inaccurate, biased, highly susceptible to coaching, and not necessary for making high-quality admissions decisions.” He added that there is no test that will ever be able to properly measure a student’s ability to perform (Strauss, 2009). Because of FairTest, more colleges and universities have started to have test optional admissions. Coleman acknowledges the SAT “becom[ing] disconnected from the work of our high schools” (Lewin, 2014). To resolve some of the controversy, the College Board has recently decided to revamp the SATs. Lewin (2014) summarizes the changes made to reconnect the SATs with the high school curriculum. One of the changes is in the SAT vocabulary section. Instead of using rigorous and challenging, yet obscure, vocabulary words, the new SAT will use words more frequently encountered in college courses. Words like “synthesis” and “empirical” will replace words such as “depreciatory” and “membranous.” Even though these words will be easier to relate to for some, others may find the words just as difficult. Taking out the catastrophic vocabulary words will help enormously. On the other hand, those students who have never heard of the word “empirical” before can be expected to struggle with this part of the exam. Lewin (2014) also relates the changes in testing of mathematical concepts. Instead of covering a plethora of concepts, the new SAT will cover three: linear equations; complex equations or functions; and ratios, percentages and proportional reasoning. In addition, calculators will be permitted for some of the mathematical sections; other sections will not allow the use of calculators. Narrowing the math concepts down to three major concepts makes the mathematics section of the test more manageable. However, it may mean that high school curriculums will later adapt to this narrowed mathematical concepts. This will later affect students who want to go into math-heavy fields such as engineering or physics by providing them with only limited mathematical knowledge, leaving them unprepared for college. The new test will once again be out of 1,600 instead of 2,400 with the top score being an 800 in both reading and math. The essay, which has been required for the SAT since 40
ACT’s and SAT’s: The Good, the Bad, and the Truth 2005, will become optional in the new test and will be scored separately if taken. Another change that will be implemented is the termination of the guessing penalty, meaning if a student were to guess an answer and get the answer wrong, no point will be deducted (Lewin, 2014). In spite of all of these changes, there will always be problems. President Coleman admits that there will still be “unproductive anxiety” stemming from these tests (Lewin, 2014). Licensed social worker and health coach Ellen Smith says, “Being anxious about taking tests is very common, especially the SATs, because there is so much pressure from teachers, parents, and peers on students to get good scores … often, getting into the college of their choice is at stake” (Barhyte, 2013). With the ACTs and SATs, there will always be stress and anxiety. This revision of the SAT may make life a little easier for students when it comes to vocabulary and math, but the question remains – is this an effective way to show a student’s knowledge? No matter how many changes the College Board makes, the SAT and ACT will never properly demonstrate each individual’s knowledge accurately. Even 80% of classroom teachers believe that these standardized tests are not a fair measurement of the students’ work (Lewin, 2014). What can be done about this problem? More colleges have shifted their focus from the SATs and ACTs by having test optional admissions (Strauss, 2009). It is easy for small colleges and universities to have test optional admissions, but what about big colleges and universities such as Arizona State University or Penn State University? Since these schools are so big, SAT and ACT scores seems to be the easiest way to decide which students should be admitted. However, there is another number these colleges and universities should be looking at even more critically. A student’s grade point average [GPA] better reflects that student’s work ethic. But, this comes with problems too. Sometimes, a student’s GPA is not a proper reflection of their motivation and drive. A student may have a high GPA but was not required to do any challenging work in class. Therefore, they do not work hard and their GPA is not a proper reflection of their work ethic. The opposite is possible too. A student who is taking challenging classes in high school may be working hard but struggling to do well in class, which affects their GPA. How can this be compensated for? Colleges and universities should also be offering interviews and essays to get to know their applicants better. By doing this along with test optional admissions, colleges will be able to understand who their applicants are and whether or not they will be a good fit at their school. For big colleges and universities, having interviews and essays is difficult because the volume of applicants is so high. These big schools should have a minimum GPA that students are required to meet. If applicants choose to take the ACT or SAT then that’s one more test score for schools to look at. However, it should not be the focus of colleges and universities. No matter how many changes are being made to the SAT or ACT, it will always be problematic. The stress and frustration for students will continue making the college process harder than it needs to be. By relying less on standardized tests, and more on essays, interviews, and GPA, colleges would be able to decipher who is and is not a good candidate. In an era where technology is prominent, colleges should stop trying to use tests to measure a student’s ability and should find other ways to get to know the applicants. 41
ACT’s and SAT’s: The Good, the Bad, and the Truth
References Barhyte, D. M. (2013). Combating test anxiety. CollegeXpress Magazine, 16-18. Retrieved from Academic Search Premiere [EBSCOhost] database. Barnes, J. E. (2002). The SAT revolution. US News & World Report, 133(18), Retrieved from Academic Search Premiere [EBSCOhost] database. Defining the SAT downward. (2009, March 13). USA Today, 8. Retrieved from Academic Search Premiere [EBSCOhost] database. Jacobs, B. (2007, December). No child left behind’s emphasis on ‘teaching to the test’ undermines quality teaching. Endeavors 10(17), 3. Retrieved from http://www.education.umd.edu Lewin, T. (2014, March 5). “A new SAT aims to realign with schoolwork.” The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com Moore, N. Y. (2007, February 22). Pushing the debate over the usefulness of ACT and SAT. Diverse Issues in Higher Education. Retrieved from http://diverseeducation.com Strauss, V. (2009, November 18). A critical look at the SAT and ACT. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://voices.washingtonpost.com Valli, L., & Croninger, R. (2000). High quality teaching of foundational skills in mathematics and reading. Data and Research Development Center. Retrieved from http://drdc.uchicago.edu
A League of Our Own, What’s Next? Allowing Female Athletes to Play in Men’s Professional Sports Leagues by Janay Moffatt
“There’s really no one that can match her right now … but what she’s doing out there on the floor…it’s not fair. She’s too big and too strong … she’s great.” —LeBron James In an ESPN interview about Brittney Griner’s successful debut, her rookie year, LeBron James recognized her domination on the court and how her success isn’t only due to her great skill, but because of the lack of competition from other female players. With players like Griner, a question is raised: should female athletes be allowed to play in professional men’s leagues? Besides Griner, other female athletes have proven their ability to compete against their male counterparts (Esteban, 2011). Some of these women include Danica Patrick, Seana Hogen, and Jackie Mitchell. Patrick is currently an auto-racing driver who has achieved many feats that her male opponents have not yet accomplished, such as finishing third in the Indy 500. Seana Hogan is a legend in the sport of Ultra Cycling. In 1995 she achieved the distinction of setting the overall ultra cycling record time for distance between Los Angeles and San Francisco, which to this day has not been beaten by any man or woman. Jackie Mitchell played professional baseball in 1931, at the age of seventeen, and proved her skills as a pitcher against the New York Yankees by consecutively striking out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, players remembered as some of the greatest to have ever played the game of baseball. These women have accomplished great feats in their careers and have proven their ability to compete against men in the same athletic profession. In 1972, Title IX was signed into federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in schools that receive federal funding — specifically, athletic programs … and has provided further equal opportunity for women and girls on many levels. According to Assistant Professor of Law and Director at the Center for Sport and the Law at the University of Baltimore, Dionne L. Koller, “Title IX as applied to athletics is a high-profile, controversial public policy effort that has opened up a world of athletics to millions of girls and women” (2010). Title IX has made it even more possible for female athletes to develop and display their elite ability in their athletic careers. Although not all female athletes can be compared to their male counterparts, there are a few exceptions that can compete head-to-head against male athletes. Because of these women, it can be said that, if they so 43
A League of Our Own, What’s Next? choose, they should be allowed to test their athletic abilities in a men’s professional sports league without discrimination. It is true that there are biological and physical differences between men and women, sometimes causing one to sex to succeed over the other in certain situations. Because of this, for most people, the idea of men and women competing in the same sports league is outrageous. In a New York Times article, Dr. Vilain, a medical geneticist and the director of the Institute of Society and Genetics at UCLA, discusses the eligibility of women in men’s sports: [We] are faced with an impossible quandary: a socially imposed sex division in sports, with no objective way to draw a line between male and female. What should be done?...Forget for a while about gender identity politics: eligibility of women in sports has been framed as a gender issue. It should not be. Let’s focus strictly on athletic performance … (Vilain, 2012) With this being said focusing strictly on athletic performance forms yet another question… What makes an elite athlete? elite: (noun) 1. A select part of a group that is superior to the rest in terms of ability and qualities. (Oxford, 2014) elite athlete: (noun) 1. One that performs at the top of their game. One that brings something beyond the average. (Sciencelearn, 2014) Not only is an elite athlete someone who performs at the top of their game, but they also accept challenges and strive for great accomplishments within their career. Taking into consideration these definitions, there have been-and currently are-female athletes capable of competing against men. For example, Martina Navratilova, a Czech-American former World Number 1 tennis player. Over the course of her career, she was distinguished as the WTA’s ‘Tour Player of the Year’ seven times, named the Associated Press’s ‘Female Athlete of the Year’ and declared one of the ‘Top Forty Athletes of All-Time’ by Sports Illustrated. Along with Billie Jean King, she has won twenty Wimbledon titles and currently holds the best season win-loss record for both men and women (Martina Enterprises, 2014). Navratilova’s accomplishments alone prove her elite capabilities and threaten some of the greatest players today in men and women’s tennis. Another example of an elite athlete is Nancy Lieberman, who in the early 1980s, was the first woman to play in a men’s professional basketball summer league. Lieberman is also a Basketball Hall of Famer, two-time Olympian, three-time All American, two-time collegiate national champion and a two-time National Player of the Year at Old Dominion University. Her achievements, devotion, and passion for the sport serve as inspiration to not only women athletes, but men as well. In an ESPN interview on whether or not Brittney Griner was ready to play in the NBA, Nancy Lieberman said, “I was extraordinarily average on my best days. And I was a point guard, so I could stay away from the physicality of the game and still do my job [passing, running the team]” (ESPN, 2013). It’s possible that Griner wouldn’t be much of a threat in the NBA as she currently is in the WNBA; but what makes Griner different from most players is her elite capabilities and her drive to overcome challenges. In a 2013 interview about playing in the NBA, Griner 44
A League of Our Own, What’s Next? stated, “Let’s go! I’m there!’ But first thing’s first – WBNA. If I get a chance to go and try out with the big boys, hey, I’m going to do it. I’ve never shied away from a challenge. I’ve always been the girl to push the envelope” (Friemel). Although Griner is aware of the difficulty of this challenge, like most elite athletes, she welcomes the next big challenge in her career. This same opportunity should be seen with female athletes in all sports. A woman, who meets the criteria of being an elite athlete and seeks to take her game to the next level, should be allowed to do so without discrimination from anyone (e.g. men, women, fans, teams, etc.). Despite the major accomplishments of these women, many people still believe that a woman would not be able to hold her own in a league such as the NBA. Or it would be seen as a publicity stunt — to increase fan interest. In an essay on the psychosocial impacts of athletic participation of American women, sports sociologist Don Sabo debunks six “patriarchal myths” encoded within American culture that “help to legitimate structured sex inequality in all sectors of society” (2007). One of the myths is the “Coed Catastrophe,” which assumes that athletic competition between both sexes is harmful to women, men, and society. Some negative assumptions include the physiological disparities between the sexes, and the destruction of men’s masculine self-esteem, and women’s self-image. Although these assumptions may be true, there are positive outcomes of allowing both sexes to compete against one another, which include the abolishment of gender stereotypes, enhanced respect and empathy toward the opposite sex, and allowing both sexes to learn how to work with, rather than against, one another and apply these lessons in others sectors of their lives (Sabo, 2007). The myth of the “Coed Catastrophe” and the five others in Sabo’s essay still influence American culture, but with ongoing empirical research, these myths will eventually fade away, allowing the full potential of all American women athletes to be recognized and respected. On the positive side, allowing such a drastic change to the U.S. sports industry would increase media attention for both leagues. The men’s league, because there would be new competition, someone who could possibly out-show the star player — and the women’s league, because fans, teams, and coaches would be on the look-out for the next elite prospect. Accepting such a change would also help to increase the overall number of female athletes. It would encourage and empower many young women to follow in the footsteps of some to the greatest female athletes in sports history and to continue striving for absolute equality, in all genres, between sexes. With the increasing level of tolerance and equality in our society and the evolution of both male and female athletes, the idea of both sexes going head-to-head in the same sport is more imaginable. In the past, there have been many female athletes who have held their own against their male counterparts, but their accomplishments were not properly recognized. As far as the United States has come in the effort of equality and tolerance, allowing these elite women athletes to take advantage of an opportunity such as playing in a men’s professional sports league, should not only be allowed without discrimination, but welcomed by leagues, teammates, and spectators of the sport.
A League of Our Own, What’s Next?
References ESPN First Take. (2013, April 4). Is Brittney Griner ready for the NBA? [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkQbCtz9q18 Esteban. (2011, October 28). 9 female athletes who competed against men. Total Sports Pros. http:// www.totalprosports.com Friemel, J. (2013, April 9). Brittney Griner talks about being bullied, playing in the NBA, and trying to block LeBron James. The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved from http://collegesportsblog.dallasnews.com Helin, K. (2013, May 28). In her first game Brittney Griner becomes first WNBA player to dunk twice in a game. NBC Sports. [Video File]. Retrieved from http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com Koller, D. L. (2010). Not just one of the boys: a post-feminist critique of Title IX’s vision for gender equity in sports. Connecticut Law Review, 43(2). Lieberman, N. (2014). About Nancy Lieberman. Retrieved from http://www.nancylieberman.com/about/ Martina Enterprises. (2014). Martina Navratilova’s biography and stats. Retrieved from http://martinanavratilova.com Oxford Dictionary. (2014). Definition of ‘elite’. Retrieved from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com Sabo, D. (2007). Psychosocial impacts of athletic participation on American women. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 83-93. Science Learning Hub. Definition of ‘elite athlete’. Retrieved from http://www.sciencelearn.org Sport Science Lab. (2014). What makes an elite athlete? Retrieved from https://www.sportsciencelab.com Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Sec. 1687 2(A). US Cong. Retrieved from http://www.dol.gov/oasam/regs/statutes/titleix.htm Vilain, E. (2012, June 18). Gender testing for athletes remains a tough call. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com
photo by Amanda photo LaCasse by
Letter to Bleached Blonde Girl by Karen Belloso
Dear bleached blonde girl that told my friends and me to stop speaking Spanish because this isn’t Mexico: You may not remember me, but my name is Karen. We crossed paths as you walked out of American Eagle with your two similar looking friends with extra fake tans, store bought ripped shorts, and see through tank-tops covering their neon swim tops. I was walking by with one of my close friends and we were having a conversation in Spanish. Do you remember now? If not, I’ll go into more detail. You see as we walked by you and your friends, you rolled your eyes and said aloud, “F*$%ing Mexicans don’t understand that this is AMERICA.” I stopped and looked you straight in the eye and asked if you were talking about my friend and I, which you answered yes. After that you went on explaining how people should act in America. I want to share with you some of my thought that your words made me reflect on. First, I apologize. I am so ashamed for speaking a language extremely foreign and distant to this land, the United States. It had not come to my attention that English is the sole language spoken in this country. I now understand. Now that I go back to that moment, in which you so intelligently pointed out that I had no right to even be in this country, I see how wrong I was. Like you said, “This is America,” and only Americans have ever inhabited this country, no other race or group of people ever lived in this country before Europeans came. So I should, “just go back to Mexico where I belong.” I am only a daughter of immigrants. I heard about this man once, Rush Limbaugh, who has his own conservative radio show, and you remind me a lot of him. You both have similar ways of expressing your thoughts of other races. Both of you also have very similar thoughts about how the U.S should be run. On one of his shows, he proclaimed “You’re a foreigner. You shut your mouth or you get out” (Limbaugh, R.). He was referring to Latinos in the specific show. I see how he has a point, just like I saw your point. Both of you believe that we should act like guests in this country, and if we do not like how things are here we should just go back “home.” I think you should learn more about this man. I honestly think you two have a lot in common; you may be soul mates. But, back to the issue at hand; I now see how unfair it is to deprive the English-only speaking portion of the public of knowledge of my weekend plans with my boyfriend or know my mom’s secret recipe for guacamole-it is after all a very great recipe. For me to not share my opinion on girls wearing shorts that better resemble underwear at ASU, would 48
Letter to Bleached Blonde Girl be uncaring, disrespectful, and un-American. I assume you are like David Duke who once said, “I don’t call myself a white supremacist … I’m a civil rights activist concerned about European-American rights.” You probably just want un-American people to stop doing un-American things. It is understandable that you want me and “my people” to keep your people’s traditions and rights. Now, I would like to take the time to thank you for educating me on American mall etiquette. Thank you for the geography lesson. I had not noticed that this country was not Mexico but the United States of America. You should have seen my amazement and surprise as I walked back to my car with finally realizing I was in the U.S.A. When I saw all the AZ license plates the blindfold was dropped from my eyes, I am in the U.S! Secondly, thank you for the History lesson; you educated me well on the history of this country and taught me that the first people to populate this land were you, “the Americans.” Also, thank you for the language lesson, I learned that the exclusive language spoken here is English and other languages should be reserved for other countries. I can now use your stellar grammar as a model and start using phrases such as, “For reals though, this ain’t your country” and “like, OMG you wetback, go back to like that hole or something.” Lastly, I would like to thank you for your comments that it would be, “unfair to speak, like, in another language.” I learned so much from you; you are so educated, so I thank you for sharing your expertise. Let’s all move forward with this newly enlightened perspective, which will no doubt keep us on the path to more bills like SB 1070. What a great bill don’t you think? It’s a fair bill that will surely come with many benefits to everyone in this state. It “requires police to determine the immigration status of someone arrested or detained when there is ‘reasonable suspicion’ they are not in the U.S. legally” (Arizona’s SB 1070). Such an amazing bill! It totally doesn’t go against the U.S. Constitution or abuse any rights what so ever. “Some worry that law enforcement officials will use race, color, or national origin as their basis for determining whether or not they have a reasonable doubt about a person’s immigration status even though the bill specifically forbids discrimination of this kind,” but I don’t think anyone in this country would do that; no one is racist here, so no racial profiling will happen (Is Arizona’s SB 1070 Immigration Law Constitutional?). It is impossible. How could there be racial profiling if all of Arizona’s authorities treat everyone equal? Sheriff Joe Arpaio once said, “I’m an equal opportunity law enforcement and incarcerator — I lock everybody up” (Kofman, J). I think this bill will do great things for this state - I bet you would agree. So as a final thought, I think we should get together and discuss our thoughts on bills like SB1070 to try to get the U.S looking more the way you imagine it. With people like you, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and Rush Limbaugh, I am sure this country will be a better place. Thank you truly, Karen
Letter to Bleached Blonde Girl
References Arizona’s SB 1070. (n.d.). American Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved April 18, 2014, from https://www.aclu.org/arizonas-sb-1070 David Duke. (n.d.). Portrait. Retrieved April 20, 2014, from http://www.schikelgruber.net/daviduke.html Is Arizona’s SB 1070 Immigration Law Constitutional? (n.d.). US News. Retrieved April 22, 2014, from http://www.usnews.com/debate-club Kofman, J. (2008, October 20). Despite Criticism, ‘America’s Toughest Sheriff’ Expects to be Reelected. ABC News. Retrieved April 28, 2014, from http://abcnews.go.com/ Limbaugh, R. (2006, April 6). The Limbaugh Laws - The Rush Limbaugh Show. The Rush Limbaugh show. Retrieved April 20, 2014, from http://www.rushlimbaugh.com.
photo by Amanda LaCasse
Chalk Dust by Carol Demarco
On the blackboard in our first grade classroom, Sister Mary Maura printed, in her perfect penmanship, St. Adalbert’s School Christmas Party December 20, 1948 She added “SAVE!” for the blackboard monitor whose job it was to clean the backboards and bang the chalk dust out of the felt erasers at the end of the day. Suddenly her sour puss turned into her “priest smile” and I didn’t even have to look at the door to see why. Father Adrian was standing in the doorway. Father Adrian was our new assistant pastor. His last name was Polish like the rest of ours, but his looks were Italian, like Julius LaRosa and Perry Como wrapped up in a pierogi. He would visit the ladies in the church basement when they cooked for funerals and fish fries, and from what I saw, he didn’t say much, just smiled and smoked cigarettes. Father came to our room to announce that he had drawn a name from our class for the Christmas party gift exchange. Sister Maura’s fake smile got bigger as if HER name had been picked. At recess, while the boys played their stupid games, girls each dreamed of getting a gift from Father Adrian … a holy picture, a prayer book, a glow-in-the-dark rosary. We were busy getting ready for Christmas: procession practice for midnight Mass, singing practice for the Polish Christmas Carols, and of course, the Christmas party. Every morning, after Mass, Sister would write how many days to the party on the blackboard. Finally, the countdown was over. The church basement was decorated with crepe paper hanging from the ceiling and a big Christmas tree was loaded with the ornaments all eight grades made. Ferdinand, our janitor, played Santa and we all recognized his long skinny Abraham Lincoln frame, but today he had a red velvet suit, cotton batting for a beard and spats over his work boots. We all loved Ferdinand the same way we loved Santa so it didn’t matter. The stage was set up with the American, Wisconsin and Polish flags behind our two priests in their black cassocks and white collars. Father Bednarski, our pastor, always wore a little black hat with three corners. They sat in fancy black chairs and were smiling like crazy. The rest is a blur, because as I was taking all this in, my name was called out and they announced that Father Adrian had picked my name. Sister Maura gave me a shove and sent me up to the stage. He picked me up, put me in his lap and gave me my gift, a small chalkboard and a box of white chalk. Then he lit a cigarette and I didn’t flinch when an ash dropped on the 55
Chalk Dust back of my hand. The nuns clustered around the stage as our projectionist, Ferdinand, AKA Santa, prepared the showing of Bing Crosby in The Bell’s of St. Mary’s. Sister Maura suggested the Father sign my chalkboard and he did. It read “God Love You, Fr. Adrian.” They all swooned. As I walked home with my trophy I thought about how useless a chalkboard was. How did Abraham Lincoln learn anything using something so puny? But the more I thought about Father Adrian’s message-God Love You- it missed a world in front like “May,” “Should,” “Does” God love you. Maybe he didn’t have room on that little board. That evening my uncles gathered to start their Christmas celebrations laced with shots and beers. The Chalkboard was passed around, like something sacred. My Dad decided that I would never use it. He gave me the box of chalk to use on my easel blackboard and headed down to his basement workshop. He nailed it to a beam over his tool bench where Father Adrian’s message would not be erased. I never went to the basement to get a jar of pickles from the fruit cellar or shake the coals in the furnace without glancing at Father Adrian’s chalkboard.
Good Friday by Carolina Marquez
They greeted Jesus with palms, I think they threw palm roses at his feet. They don’t have thorns, but they sting with betrayal. It’s like the crosses my mom made every Palm Sunday and left all over the house to remind us that God would save us like he saved Jesus. I had two in my car, three in my room. I lost them all when I moved — threw them out or lost them. The light rail was full. I had to sit next to a homeless man braiding palm leaves into roses for change. He gave me mine for free.
photo by Gabriel Radley
King James Version by Anna Flores
I was given a bible on my 12th birthday. The other Christian girls chose boys to kiss after Wednesday’s service. They sang in the choir with those lips and smiled up at God with teeth polished by a preteen sinner’s tongue. They were art. Their breasts spilling over red tank tops like wine out of a communion cup. I wore long skirts. Pretty ones with blue glitter at the pockets where my hands were tucked in fists. The Bible encouraged me to pray when I got my first period, but I still didn’t feel like a woman. I fell in love with a boy who never smiled and claimed to be an atheist. He held me like I was nothing fragile. I lost my Bible the day he kissed me.
King James Version Later I found it and realized I no longer understood why Jonah was eaten or why Judas had lied. My father grew old quickly, his back worn like the spine of my Bible, his pages filled with stories too. Like the time he got drunk, dragged his conscience 116 miles, and ended up at the side of a highway somewhere between here and Tucson. Stumbling in dirt-clad boots trying to find his Eden and finding the mountains instead.
photo by Gabriel Radley
The Bastard Son, Christ By Alex Wilson
Ali leaned over the black dresser in one of the bedrooms of the penthouse while I eyed a vagina, butterflying it open with my index and middle finger. Sliding his black AMEX to form lines of coke, Ali rambled about his last name. My mind focused on the coke. I couldn’t see Ali’s process, but he always split cocaine the same way. Right about now, he would be dividing up two sizable lines for himself while I received two smaller — but still considerable — bumps. Every month, Ali would come into my practice and slip me cash in exchange for prescriptions of Adderall, Xanax — anything to mix with the myriad drugs I suspected he already pumped into his body. At our last meeting, Ali offered me a free trip to Las Vegas in exchange for running a basic medical examination of the escorts who would be attending the party. The cash and trip away from my wife prompted me to accept the offer without further question. Ali Isa was born the bastard son of Saudi oil royalty. On a trip to America 28 years ago, a Saudi prince knocked up three women, all of whom birthed boys. The prince made the unwed American mothers a deal: if they never sought him out, he would support the women and their sons financially. With no other choice, all the mothers took the deal. Now Ali and his two brothers lived in the same neighborhood, in million-dollar houses purchased with the money of a man they would never meet. His origin held more lore and mystery than mine. I was raised by old money in Maryland before I moved to Los Angeles for med school, where I met my wife. Now I live a respectable life, far from glamorous, with the woman I suppose I love and my son. In that moment, though, my family didn’t matter. My whole life didn’t matter. The only relevant aspect of reality, to me, rested in stiff lines against Ali’s AMEX. He always told the story of his last name when he prepared coke, using it as a status symbol beyond the credit cards and rolled-up $100 bills. “Our mothers were just open-leg whores,” Ali said. He looked over to the girl my latexcovered fingers examined. “No offense.” The girl gleamed a bought smile. “None taken,” she said in her best hotel-concierge voice. 64
The Bastard Son, Christ Amal, Ali’s brother, stroked the leg of hired companionship while I finished up the last medical exam of the night. Their collective birthday party had started one room over. The girl Amal toyed with and the girl I examined were the last of dozens. The rest had entered the party with Ali and Amal’s other brother, Hani, to entertain guests and eventually fuck a to-be-determined partner. “When my brothers and I turned of age, we chose a new last name for ourselves, one to make us a family — not just by blood but by bond.” I never learned how he met his brothers. Between words of disgust for their mothers, women they perceived as loose tramps, the account of how the three bastards found each other never graced my ears. While Ali stroked his intellectual dick, I stood up from the girl on the bed, her skin wrapping her protruding ribs, and walked to the cocaine Ali had been cutting. With my free, ungloved hand, I took a rolled bill from Ali, placed it against the dresser, and inhaled my bumps, one to each nostril. I played with my nose for a second, pinching and pulling the septum before running my free index finger against the leftover grains and licking it clean. Nothing tasted or smelled better than ether-based coke. In the early ‘90s, Mexican cartels started cutting cocaine with meth or cheap speed — anything to make the final product less expensive and more addictive. Now, dealers take the watered-down Mexican coke and cut it even more. They add baby laxatives and Mannitol to create more product to peddle. Somehow, Ali always found coke that rivaled the purity of the ‘80s — before greed and cutting became an expected practice rather than a sign of a shit dealer. “We chose Isa because it meant Christ,” continued Ali. “We are the bastard children of a god who does not wish to see us until we are dead.” Ali took the bill from my hand and snorted his lines and God complex. Black tile lined the floor and walls of the penthouse, creating a shadowy mirror effect. Wherever I looked, a blurred shell of myself met my gaze. The constant clashing of my own eyes unsettled my nerve, and I tried to focus on the girl spread open on the bed. “We’re almost done. I just need to ask you a few questions,” I said, still playing with my nose. “Go right ahead,” replied the girl, sitting up from the comforter and sipping an open Diet Coke from the night stand. “Any unusual discharges?” “No.” “Any discomfort vaginally?” “No.” “Any discomfort anally?” “No.” “Any discomfort in the throat?” “Sort of.” The girl’s voice twitched. “What’s sort of?” I asked. The drip from the coke started to hit the back of my throat and the girl in front of me became harder to focus on. “Whenever I drink wine or liquor or anything like that, it burns worse than it should going down.” I started using coke to stay awake after long nights of studying when I finally had to take med school tests. I’d say a good portion of my academic success resulted from cocaine. 65
The Bastard Son, Christ These were the ‘80s, and my would-be wife trolled parties as a socialite. She latched on to me — the doctor, the old money. I was a status symbol to her, just like Ali’s credit cards and origin story were to him. “How long have you had this pain?” I asked, my eyes fidgeting in my skull, desperately trying to turn toward the coke. “I guess a little over a year,” said the girl, running lingerie up her legs. “Can we catch whatever she’s got, doc?” asked Amal, standing up from his bed and walking over to the girl I examined. The Isa brothers held no regard for the well-being of others. Their desire for carnal delight only rivaled the disdain they held toward their mothers. To the women who bore them, the brothers were biological paychecks — a way to unburden themselves of college loans, a means to an income. “No,” I said. “But she should go to a doctor.” “I know,” said the girl. “It’s been on the list, but it’s hard to find time, you know?” “So she doesn’t have an STD or anything?” Amal pressed. “No,” I reiterated. “But she should really go to a doctor, a proper one.” Before I finished my sentence, Amal grabbed the girl by the arm, standing her up on ridiculous heels, and led both her and the prostitute he toyed with through the bedroom door, down the hallway, and into the party we could hear pulsing through the wall, only insulated by hotel paint. Ali stepped up next to me as I watched the girl leave with Amal. He pulled at his septum. “How do you know the girl’s throat thing isn’t an STD?” he asked, impatient for his own drip to start, to feel the euphoria and sense of accomplishment coke provided to those who did nothing with their lives. “The throat pains she’s feeling aren’t associated with sexual diseases.” “Then what does the pain mean?” “She probably has lymphoma, late-stage.” “Cancer?” I said nothing. “So she’s dying?” Ali’s foot started to tap against the tile as he asked, and I could tell the coke had hit him. The little humanity he might have felt for the girl disappeared in his shrinking pupils. “Yeah, she’s dying, and sooner than later.” Ali took two quick loud sniffs before patting me hard on the back. The unexpected blow wobbled my intoxicated balance and I had to step forward to catch myself. Ali slid his AMEX into my hand before walking toward the hallway door. “There’s something about dying pussy, makes it more valuable, more sexy.” He pointed to the AMEX now in my hand. “Feel free to cut yourself some more lines,” he said, walking into the hallway. “Maybe order more bottles.” I spun the card in my hand for a moment and thought about my wife. I wondered if she knew I still used. I wondered if she would even care, as long as her spending money felt no effects. I thought about the girl Ali planned to fuck. I thought about his dick rubbing 66
The Bastard Son, Christ against the cancer in her throat. I thought about my son and contemplated if he’d ever seen his father behind a cracked door, bending over a table, inhaling deeply. I placed the card on the hotel dresser next to the eight-ball — three and a half grams of powdered trouble and bliss — and walked into the hallway and toward the elevators.
photo by Gabriel Radley
Highs and Lows, Notes from Left Field by Linda Pagel
It’s November, 2001. Game 7 of the World Series. It’s “Yank this” t-shirts. A Stealth Bomber blanketing the ballpark. Shirtless fans with painted chests and purple wigs. It’s the Yanks and the D-Backs, winning the war on terror. It’s completing a double play. Diving for a catch or leaping over a wall. It’s the faithful fan in the upper deck, twirling flags. Sedona red, black, and white. It’s doing the little things. Stealing a base. Executing a perfect bunt. Or the big things, like hitting a grand slam. It’s also lack of offense, blown saves, painful slumps, and season-ending injuries. It’s The Big Unit dominating batters. Killing a bird with a pitch. Winning 5 Cy Youngs. And throwing a perfect game at 40. It’s the boisterous vendor shouting, “Lemonade. Lemonade. Just like Grandma made!” It’s looking like a rock star, even though you’re a starting pitcher. And belting out “Rockin’ in the Free World” at Fan Fest. It’s baseball in the desert. Bobbleheads and Polar Pops. It’s the boys of summer. Bringing hope and healing to loyal fans.
photo by Gabriel Radley
Cheerless Junkie’s Elegy by Carolina Marquez
I blow my mind all day, lost somewhere between Hell and Texas, inhaling this gas or the hot wind coming down from Santa Ana. And I was born suburban. The sour taste of each day’s first lie, they’re raving drunk with the honey wine, driving the hills crazy. California seems long in the summer. But it can’t spoil my dream. Did it end? There’s no telling. Now I’m so effortlessly vulgar and sad, my marrowbones will rot. It has something to do with silence and idleness. And no one is getting any younger. Poetry ends like a rope, like an ocean with the dizzy procession, like death. I am thinking that a poem could go on forever.
Color and Change for Roosevelt Row Arts District by Jenilee Rollefstad
PHOENIX, Arizona—Some only know it as the dirty, crowded area every Goth teenager in the valley treks first Friday evening of each month, but things are changing. Roosevelt Row Arts District, roughly the area on Roosevelt St. from 7th Street to 7th Avenue, received nods for unique shopping venues and unusual places to eat and drink but never much more than that. Now something new is drawing the public’s eye; Roosevelt Row is densely covered in new murals. Produced at an impressive rate over the past two years, these murals have generated not only publicity but also foot traffic. The perseverance of experienced artists and the emergence of new talent has Phoenix well on its way to becoming a hub for public art. Encountering a painting that covers the entire side of a building carries with it a certain shock value. The average mural is a huge undertaking — a wall requires cleaning, repair of bricks or mortar, multiple coats of latex primer, and upwards of 50 cans of spray paint. The result is an interactive experience. Emotions are evoked while your brain takes in the image as a whole and then focuses on details such as form and texture. But murals are more than enjoyable art installations; they communicate many messages. As a visitor to a city, you are exposed to a representation of the city and the people who live there. Murals function as landmarks. Their colors proudly exclaim that a community is willing to invest in the area, to deter graffiti, and create a more beautiful environment for pedestrians. Artist Andy Brown thinks murals offer people a change of scenery, and ultimately, a destination. Whether travelling 30 minutes from Chandler or hundreds of miles from out of state, he believes the art is a reason to come back. “Phoenix is starting to blossom as a creative city,” said Brown. The 34-year-old artist has lived and worked in cities known for cutting-edge art scenes like New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle. “People say, ‘You’re from Phoenix?’ like it’s a bad thing.” He came back to Phoenix a year and a half ago to change their idea of Phoenix, starting with Roosevelt Row. His goal is to contribute to the development of Phoenix’s art scene by doing his best work and challenging other artists. It is rare to find an artist not focused on his or her own fame. Brown admitted he does not put a mural on every wall that is offered to him. Instead, “I’d rather have an up-and-comer do it,” Brown stated. Other artists are concentrated on increasing recognition of their distinctive style. When veteran muralist Lalo Cota paints a wall, it becomes recognizably his. He is a 75
photo by Jenilee Rollefstad
motivated, competitive artist who says he will continue to do what he loves every day until he physically can’t any longer. When asked about his favorite mural, without hesitation he replied, “The next one.” In 2011 Cota painted a mural on Roosevelt Row that came to be known as ‘Gold Oil and Drugs’, a Dia De Los Muertos style portrait of Benjamin Franklin. It no longer exists because last summer he decided to collaborate on a new mural with his 16-year-old daughter who has inherited her father’s passion for art and will most likely be doing solo work in the near future. Cota gushed about another young artist he thinks will develop into a major contributor within the next ten years. Joseph Perez, who signs his work ‘Sentrock,’ is currently in Chicago attending art school but left his mark on Roosevelt Row’s 8th Day Coffee & Culture building before he left. His talent has been acknowledged in Phoenix already; he was offered the side of Phoenix Public Market on Central Avenue just north of Roosevelt and, at the beginning of this year, he was a part of a huge tribute mural for Francisco ‘Enuf’ Garcia, on 16th Street. Even more amazing work is expected upon his return to Phoenix. At the rate Roosevelt Row is developing, within ten years it may surpass cities like Tempe and Scottsdale that have already established themselves as pedestrian friendly destinations. Cota says it is somewhat of a novelty now that artists he grew up with can’t afford rent there anymore and have relocated to Grand Avenue or 16th Street. With ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus expanding dorm space and the gargantuan luxury apartment complex called Roosevelt Point on the corner of 3rd Street, those walking the sidewalks of Roosevelt Row will continue to be a young, hip crowd. The conditions are ideal for Roosevelt Row to continue flourishing and growing as an art scene and tourist attraction. As the number of murals increase along Roosevelt, it is 78
photo by Jenilee Rollefstad
Color and Change for Roosevelt Row Arts District
photo by Jenilee Rollefstad
Color and Change for Roosevelt Row Arts District
likely the number of new visitors to the area will as well. Like Brown, Cota expressed an excitement about the new artists bursting into the mural scene. Established artists need to see fresh work like that of newcomer Sierra Joy Stew on The Dressing Room, a multicolored mountainous scene that is not broken-up by windows of the store front, instead the mural bleeds over them. Lauren Lee also added a new mural to the district this past year, called ‘Three Birds.’ It all started with the business, Green Haus, soliciting designs for a mural through a Facebook contest. Lee’s proposal was chosen amidst 60 other applicants. A trained fine artist, she created a stunning piece. She says, “There is nothing urban about it,” and believes it received so much publicity because “it attracts a different kind of people.” Before your visit, it may be helpful to spend some time on the ‘street art and culture’ blog, Phoenix Taco (phxtaco.com). It is a unique resource that catalogs murals by artist, location, and date. The site also features exceptional photography from the talented Niba DeCastillo. Email subscriptions to the site are available so you can remain up to date about new murals in Phoenix even after you return to your hometown. To keep up on works in progress from your favorite Phoenician artists, the free application Instagram is the place to go. Several street artists take snapshots of their projects and some even specify their location. It simply requires tracking down an artist’s username and then “following” their feed. So this summer, after enjoying a glass of wine at Carly’s Bistro, take a stroll east along Roosevelt Street to see how Phoenix’s artists are continuing to transform the city by transforming brick walls.
References Lalo Cota—email email@example.com Lauren Lee—email firstname.lastname@example.org Andy Brown—email email@example.com
A Letter to Aaron Lawrence by Grace Massey
Dear Aaron Lawrence, Recently I read your 2005 article, “Why a Needle-Exchange Program is a Bad Idea,” at redorbit.com, a website that publishes articles about science, health, and technology. You made some very valid points and arguments against needle and syringe programs [NSPs]. I agree that simply giving away clean needles is no way to solve the current drug problems in the country. I also agree that addicts who take part in this program are at a high risk of death simply from their self-destructive behavior and risky life choices; we cannot assume that while taking part in a needle exchange program the addicts will begin making better life choices. You pointed out that needle exchange, addresses only HIV and hepatitis infections and does nothing about the other criminal, medical and social aspects of drug addiction” (Lawrence, 2005). When needle and syringe exchange sites were illegal and first being implemented in cities across the country, their total reason and ultimate goal for giving out clean needles was stopping the transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus; this goal was accomplished. According to a recent study, drug users now “account for 10% of people living with HIV” and “cities that had ever had NSPs had an average annual decrease in HIV prevalence of 18.6%, compared with an average annual increase of 8.1% in cities without NSPs” (Wodak & Maher, 2010). At the time that needle and syringe exchange sites were just beginning to open in the United States, the country was seeing an incredible amount of HIV and AIDs cases and one of the causes was linked back to sharing drug needles. Before the exchange sites became legal in the United States, volunteers would go around to neighborhoods where there was a dense population of drug users (“History of Health,” 2014). They focused completely on the possibility of stopping the transmission of HIV and not getting caught distributing the drug paraphernalia by the police. With this information, I understand your claim that the programs only address the one issue of HIV infections, but as the programs developed and began to gain momentum, they evolved into much more than they once were. You state that the programs do nothing about the criminal behaviors associated with drug use; when the exchange sites were being developed this was an extremely valid concern. Now, however, years after the first site was established, the issue has thankfully been addressed. At every exchange site the participants are introduced to and educated on treatment options and risky behaviors, referred to treatment programs, and recommended to attend counseling and group therapy/support meetings (Centers for Disease Control 80
A Letter to Aaron Lawrence and Prevention, 2007). A study conducted in 2013 actually found that “provision of clean needles/syringes does not increase the injecting frequency among IDUs (injecting drug users)” (Shang et al., 2013) and therefore does not increase the occurrence of criminal behaviors. Another study, published in the American Journal on Addiction, found that when participants took part in group counseling services provided at the locations, their heroin and cocaine use began to decrease (Kidorf, King, Peirce, Kolodner, & Brooner, 2013) and thus their criminal behaviors associated with injecting drug use would also decrease. Having these needle and syringe exchange sites available to drug users also means that the addict does not have to commit illegal activities to obtain a clean needle. Instead of stealing from medical facilities and threatening medical staff such as pharmacists to provide them with the clean needles, they can simply go to a site and exchange their used and dirty needles for clean ones. By having the program, criminal activities are actually discouraged. Even if the needle and syringe exchange sites decrease criminal behaviors, there is still the medical concern surrounding the program. It’s great that they can decrease the prevalence of HIV and potentially decrease a users dependence on injecting drugs, but one of the major costs that accompany addicts is their medical bills. Luckily, within the past few years this issue has also been addressed. Many exchange sites have started including basic medical care at no cost to the participants. Addicts who would previously ignore symptoms of a medical condition and allow their health to deteriorate to the point where hospitalization was the only option, can now go to an exchange site and have their health assessed at the first symptoms, saving taxpayers the cost of hospitalization. The hospital visit would at a minimum cost a couple thousand dollars. According to a study conducted in Australia, the first visit to a needle and syringe exchange site that offers basic medical care costs only AU$52.22, which is 47.66 U.S dollars. The same study found that the following visits then cost even less because vaccinations, blood tests, and costly exams are no longer necessary because they were already conducted (Islam et al., 2012). Overall, the New South Wales Public Health Bulletin found that “for every dollar invested in NSPs, more than four dollars was returned in direct health-care cost-savings within ten years” (Wodak & Maher, 2010). You also showed concern for the social aspect of drug addiction. As I mentioned earlier, the exchange sites offer a variety of different services, including group therapy meetings. By attending the sessions the injecting drug users can meet with other addicts and talk freely about their concerns, fears, and anything else that they may need support with. The addicts are able to relate with and be supportive of one another as they begin the treatment programs that the exchange sites have referred them to. Aaron, I know that you are not opposed to taking action against the current drug problems in the country and that you are willing to aid people that are in need, including addicts. One of your concluding statements in your article was that you believed the efforts put into needle exchange sites should be put into programs, “such as creating more opportunities for counseling, funding rehab clinics, and providing more healthcare coverage for uninsured drug users” (Lawrence, 2005). When you wrote the article, perhaps you weren’t aware of all the services provided by the exchange sites. I do realize that, in the years since your article was written, some changes have been made in the program and it has become much larger than it once was. The truth is this program now discourages 81
A Letter to Aaron Lawrence criminal behavior, while addressing the social aspects of addiction through group therapy and counseling sessions. The program goes a step farther and even refers addicts to clinics that can work with their financial situations where treatment can be started. They also provide basic medical care at no cost to participants, acting as the healthcare insurance you believe should be implemented. Needle and syringe exchange sites are not what they used to be, and as such I respectfully ask that you reconsider the program keeping in mind all of the advancements and changes that have been made in the years since the publication of your article on redOrbit. Sincerely, Grace Massey, An Advocate of Needle and Syringe Exchange Sites
References Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2007). Syringe exchange programs--United States, 2005. MMWR: Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, 56(44), 1164-1167. History of health: Needle exchange in San Francisco. (2014). San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Islam, M. M., Shanahan, M., Topp, L., Conigrave, K. M., White, A., Day, C. A. (2012). The cost of providing primary health-care services from a needle and syringe program: A case study. The Drug and Alcohol Review, 32(3), 312-319. Kidorf, M., King, V. L., Peirce, J., Kolodner, K., & Brooner, R. K. (2013, May-June). An observation of lower rates of drug use over time in community syringe exchangers. The American Journal on Addictions, 22(3), 271-276. Lawrence, A. (2005, August 26). Why a needle-exchange site is a bad idea. RedOrbit. http://www.redorbit.com/ Shang, L., Chen, X., Zheng, J., Zhoa, J., Jing, J., Zhang, J., …Wilson, D. (2013). Ability to access community-based needle-syringe programs and injecting behaviors among drug users: A cross-sectional study in Hunan Province, China. Harm Reduction Journal, 10(8). http://www.harmreductionjournal.com/content/10/1/8 Wodak, A., & Maher, L. (2010). The Effectiveness of harm reduction in preventing HIV among injecting drug users. The New South Wales Public Health Bulletin.
The Heart of Art in Downtown Phoenix by Nicole Genova
The architecture of City Hall greatly distinguishes this building from any other Downtown Phoenix skyscraper. Men and women dressed in business attire scurry around the street rushing to get to their next meeting, their next crappy coffee break, their next dire emergency. No one stops to notice the water flowing from the aqueduct-like structures, or the giant gold and bronze sun, representing the “City of Phoenix.” Inside, the award winning “Art Underfoot” gallery remains silent, dark, not a soul to be found. Judy Guilds, chairman of the Phoenix Art and Culture Commission said, “What’s amazing is that this is a public building, where people are always rushing to get from one place to another, but with this incredible art you get people to slow down and say, ‘Wait a minute, this is fantastic!’ Without a doubt, both students and citizens need to be aware that “things are hot in Downtown Phoenix!” When I first approached the empty space, I wasn’t even sure the gallery was open. However, Judy Guilds approached me rather quickly with her light-hearted demeanor. I was surprised by her initial friendliness when everyone around us seemed so serious. Judy looked very professional herself; she too was dressed in business attire. As we spent more time together on that Friday, I learned that Judy is especially passionate about the galleries and art programs in Downtown Phoenix as they are enriched with an abundance of history. In fact, the gallery at City Hall has been around for about six decades. “Eventually the Phoenix Women’s Club wanted to have an art museum so obviously now we do have an art museum, which started in 1953.” Though there is no permanent collection in City Hall, the current Terrazzo “Art Underfoot Gallery” is a feast for the architectural buff, art junkie, and intellectual student set. Some people may not know what Terrazzo is at all. “It’s Italian, but it swept all over Europe. So it was used in public buildings because it was a good durable.” But Terrazzo is more than just a tile floor, and in the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport it’s a never-ending masterpiece. The exhibit maps this picture perfectly. The walls of the museum are painted white and teal, matching the tiled art mounted on the walls. Samples of the Terrazzo floors as in the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport are hung throughout the exhibit. The designs and colors are complicated, yet beautiful. Their glossy finish shimmers through the delicate glass. I could make out the images of airplanes, wings and old Mexican floral patterns etched into the colorful, maroon and topaz stone. Incredibly, something so ancient could be 83
photo by Gabriel Radley
Art Underfoot: The Heart of Art in Downtown Phoenix depicted in such a modern atmosphere. “Four artists who had never done Terrazzo before — basically they were painters, sculptors, in the usual types of mediums that you see in art — and they had to be taught by the Terrazzo floor makers how to make a design that could go on a Terrazzo floor.” The entire process was labeled in steps for the viewers and was also visually recreated for visitors of the exhibit. Judy Guilds talked me through the tedious process. I was not only physically able to see, but able to feel, the surfaces and “mud like” textures of the long- winded stages. So you see (points to artist bio and sample) this is one of the artists renderings for, what happened right here (points to later step in the process). So what the Terrazzo guys had to do once they had this was number each section for what color they would use to come out with that. And it was like paint by numbers! It was amazing … for the artist it was a new awakening, they had never done it before. You know you think of the Mona Lisa. You see that painting, but what you’ve got here is a floor as big as that wall! So you have to be thinking in a huge concept to know what you are eventually going to have. As the morning progressed, Mrs. Guilds took me through the rest of the process that took place in Sky Harbor Airport. In the end, the Terrazzo construction was about a fouryear endeavor. However, all the blood, sweat and tears paid off for the artists as well as for Phoenix Sky Harbor. In 2013, the Office of Arts and Culture was given the “job of the year” award from the National Terrazzo and Mosaic Association. Even with a majorly advertised event occurring during the same time that morning, the museum was still strangely empty. In fact, Mrs. Guilds stated the exhibit draws about 50 visitors per week. “We get moms who bring their 4-year-olds in to look at the process and dabble in the different materials. We have a display case, we have several things out that they can look at. All the way to seniors who are visiting from Toronto. We get lots of out-oftowners because we are on the map of Downtown, so they can find different things to go look at.” The art gallery at City Hall will rotate its exhibit about every six months, so there is more than enough time to check them out. In addition to the fascinating and quirky Terrazzo exhibit at the “Art Underfoot Gallery,” Judy informed me that the gallery has also, in the past few years, featured several other unique showcases. “Well, our first exhibit was about the fact that Phoenix had this thousand-piece portable collection. So we had a lot of the first pieces that were bought by the committee in 1915.” The second exhibit displayed photographs showing mainly the industrial evolution of the city of Phoenix. Half of the images consisted of older historic buildings dating back to the 1800s and closed in on midcentury, modern times: And then the third gallery, printmaking, we have a fabulous collection of an early 20th century print-maker and when I say “prints” I mean desert scenes, cactus with all the spines (and if you know anything about printmaking you know that you etch it first on a piece of metal and then you roll it to make the actual picture) and oh my goodness! Two print artists that were just fantastic that we have in our collection. So I mean our collection is vast and varied!
Art Underfoot: The Heart of Art in Downtown Phoenix Displayed at the gallery at City Hall are dozens of pictures of the local street art from right here in Downtown Phoenix. The art ranges all the way from light rail installation art to Japanese gardens. Maps are provided at the exhibit for self-guided, walkable tours or tours via horse and carriage. These casual forms of entertainment greatly contribute to the urban culture Downtown. The average individual would not expect to find giant 3D murals expanded across a building or see three-dimensional shaped structures complementing a form of public transportation. Even though the art is clearly visible and easily located throughout the city, Judy mentioned that most locals are not aware of this art campaign, especially the students at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus: We’ve got a team of folks from your PR department, we’ve been working with them to plan how to get the word out. One of our main focuses is the kids at ASU Downtown, definitely. We want to get them more involved in the arts organizations Downtown, plus we want to get them to know that this [gallery] is here and we want to get them involved in arts related activities because the arts scene in Downtown Phoenix is just, really, really exploding! You’ve been to Roosevelt Row obviously, you’ve been to First Fridays, it’s a very fun event, and again, it’s for all ages too. I mean I love First Fridays! So we want to get the word out that Downtown is a great place to go and see art and just become involved in general. Judy believes that it is very important that Phoenicians are aware of the many local businesses involved in the artistic programs Downtown. “The Downtown Merchants Association, Downtown Incorporated, they all have a very vested interest in keeping the art scene going and working with arts and culture organizations.” Public art will always need to be preserved by the community because art is unfortunately vandalized. Some art projects are not even completed before being destroyed. “One of our main projects that we have going on is starting a non-profit that will help with maintenance of the public art. There’s only so much money in a city budget that you can squeeze out for maintenance we need a non-profit that will work on that.” Currently the Arts and Culture Commission is brainstorming a solution to stop the destruction of local art. One of our main jobs in the Arts and Culture Commission is to get the public art going, we have panels and we have artists that we interview and then that ball starts rolling. So, 1% of every capital project is automatically given to the public art department, and then the public art department comes up with an idea for art in that project.” Last year the Commission raised about 8,000 dollars’ worth of grants for arts organizations. It’s definitely time to “get the word out!” “Art is hot in Downtown Phoenix! Art junkies don’t have to wait until the “First Friday” of the month to get their creative fix. Unknown to most college students and RoRo bums, City Hall is a main artery of the heart of art here in Phoenix. Although Artlink may seem like the primary attraction, City Hall provides much of the informational aspects needed to enjoy events such as First Fridays, especially for those unfamiliar with Downtown and its artistic masterpieces directly underfoot. 87
Apology by Molly Bilker
“Life’s an offensive proposition from beginning to end. Maybe those who can’t tolerate offense ought to just go ahead and end it all.” — Tom Robbins 1 She left a message saying: this is just another example of white savior/culture vulture— why-don’t-you-get-the-fuck-out you-don’t-belong-here-anyway— Or We don’t need to explain ourselves to anyone. You’ve tokenized my opinion by asking for it. Word on the street is There’s no such thing as an ally. Go home white bitches 2 All right, I’m headed back to my blanquita comunidad. I’ve learned supporting diversity is a failed proposal.
Apology Oppression it is. I am glad that you, like me, see no other option. 3 Day 1 of my new mission means today I saw a black man on the street, pulled my shoulders up high, crossed against the light so he wouldn’t look at me. Two lesbians kissed. I threw rocks, bloodied their heads. When a woman in a wheelchair tried to stop me I pushed her over into the street. I bought a gun to protect myself against the ghetto. 4 So this is what the top of the world feels like. 5 Our friend is one-eighth Native American. I’m just exhausted from dealing with white people. Baby, you are white people. I’d fuck with our roots or burn down the whole tree. But you forget THERE ARE BIGGER ENEMIES HERE than me. OK though. I’ve got my gun.
photo by Gabriel Radley
photo by Francesco Onorato
Assemblage on the Station Platform by Michael Bartelt
A brown pigeon among other regular pigeons eating abandoned fast food is the woman in her wheelchair digging through her yellow bag or the bearded man sipping coffee out of a biodegradable cup, who himself is a cliché connected to some plant life set in some rock to create the illusion of a pleasant landscape. I can’t catch shade from tree or structure. The voice on the platform says something ending in “… dos minutos.” I need to finish writing this poem when a man asks to use my phone.
Riding the Bus to Work by Carl Welsh
I never planned to start riding the bus to work. But cars do break down, and saving enough to buy another car would take a bit of time. So that’s how I found myself standing on Indian School Road, next to the Bus Stop sign at morning rush hour, watching all the cars whiz past. I got to work that first morning a bit late, but I mumbled something about traffic and everyone understood. I did not explain that the bus had stopped at every corner, that no one had correct change ready, and that our driver that day was the chatty sort who did not seem in a hurry to go anywhere, much less get me to work on time. I learned to take an earlier bus. There are some downsides to riding the bus in Phoenix of course; their names are May, June, July, August and September. October became my favorite month, because some time in that month we would experience the first of many wonderful days when the high temperature would not be expressed using three numbers. Oh, wonderful October! Riding the bus had some educational aspects that I did not anticipate. I watched the world of personal communication evolve from pagers to cell phones, witnessing my first cell phone conversation on the bus one morning. It went something like this: “Hello, guess where I am … No, really, guess where I am … I know it’s early, just guess where I am . . Oh come on, just guess …” I never found out if the person guessed correctly, as I had thankfully come to my stop. Other conversations were sometimes of a more personal nature. On more than one occasion I had to listen to someone tell a friend, in lurid detail, about the lying, cheating, (deleted) son of questionable parentage and his despicable activities. Revenge was often a theme in these narratives, but most were not very imaginative. I did learn about resilience though, and how even in the depths of despair one could still find a spark of hope. Once, after listening to a long and suitably tearful recounting of the deceitful and cheating ways of a particular young man, I heard the young woman ask her friend, “But … do you think there’s a chance I can get him back?” Most conversations were rather routine though, and went something like this: “Hello … No, I’m still on the bus … We are almost to Central … Not till I get home … No, you can’t … Well, you’ll just have to wait … We are almost to Central … No, you can’t do that either …” and so on, but you get the idea.
Riding the Bus to Work One conversation has always left me wondering though. And I think I can speak for almost everyone on the bus that day when I say we wanted to hear more. One afternoon, when the bus was packed and crawling through rush hour traffic, a well-dressed woman got on at Central. When I say well-dressed, I don’t mean wearing a nice dress. I mean a dress that looked like it was created for the woman wearing it, everyone on the bus noticed right away. And everything matched. The shoes, the purse, the necklace, a bracelet. Even the gloves. Gloves, who wears gloves? But they looked perfect; you could not imagine her without them. Three men and one woman vied with each other to offer her their seat. She graciously accepted one, as if this was an everyday occurrence. I was standing close by, and could see her in profile. It was a hot day, but if there was a hair out of place, I could not see it. (Actually, her hair looked like it would never do such a thing.) She sat looking out the window, and the bus went on. After a few minutes, a muffled tone sounded and she began to take off her gloves. The rock on the ring that she wore on her left hand actually flashed in the sunlight as she pulled the glove off. (Rock really is the only word to describe it.) She opened the clasp of her purse and the tone sounded louder, a beautiful bell. She took out a cell phone, smiling as she looked at the screen, and pressed it to her ear. I can’t remember the exact words, but it went something like this: “Hello … No, I’m all right … Yes, yes … No, but I can’t really talk right now, I’m on a bus … Yes, a bus … No, really … Well, I guess you could say that … No, he didn’t … No, it didn’t come up, it didn’t get that far … (There was a long pause somewhere in here, long enough so that it became obvious to everyone that there were no other conversations going on anywhere on the bus. I’m sure she noticed, but she didn’t let on, just kept smiling and looking out the window while she talked.) No … that won’t be necessary, I took precautions … Oh, you are wicked! … Nothing like that, I’m really all right … No, the Car Service will pick me up at the resort … Yes, why do you think I’m on a bus?” At that point I realized we were coming to my stop, so I didn’t hear any more. But I can imagine …
The Settling Moment by Joel Smalley
Inside the vet’s office, All Creatures Domestic & Exotic, a hum drove a black and yellow striped fish, shaped like a pine tree shot from a cannon, drifting on its side through a current of bubbles. The body tumbled against the glass, skipped down the crystal clear window and bounced over smooth neon pebbles and rushed past a tidy row of identical, hollow ceramic houses at the bottom of the boxy aquarium and caromed back into the current of bubbles on the far side of the glass to start the loop over. “What a terrible place to die,” Anton thought. Booper the Golden Retriever opened and shuttered her eyes, snapping images of Master Anton. She wedged her body between his legs and rested her head on his lap. Her eyebrow whiskers inched together and twitched as she blinked. Her eyes drifted back and forth between him and the aquarium. Anton hoped that Booper could not see what a terrible and cheap veterinarian he was paying for, the only vet on the Phoenix 226 bus route. If he had not befriended the bus driver, he would have had no other way to get her there, outside of stealing a truck from the scrap yard. When he had joked with Annalisa about it, half-joked, she had said, “Let’s hold off on stealing until we move into level five desperate.” “I had pegged us at level six,” Anton had said. “It’s a sliding scale,” she had said. But they were desperate. Annalisa had been sitting with her hand on Booper for most of 24 hours. They had occupied the hallway runner that covered the worn splinters and scuffs of the hardwood floor just outside of their son’s vacant room. “Right,” Anton had said. He had been squatting for 15 minutes, the dog between them, and his feet had been getting numb. He had rested his back on the door to the empty room. “That sliding scale ends when you join the Impec-Union. The one union you can only join when you can’t afford any dues.” “I don’t think we can do this. I don’t think we can cheer ourselves up right now.” “If we don’t,” Anton had said, “one of us is gonna blow.” At that, Annalisa pet Booper faster. “One of us,” she had said. “I don’t know what you mean. I don’t understand what you mean by that.” “I just meant that we can be ticking time bombs.” “We?” “Both of us,” he had said, trying to control his voice with the door pushing against his back. He had reached out to gently stroke Booper’s bony hindquarter. The soft fur covered 96
The Settling Moment skin so thin that Anton could detect the bump of the screw in her ilia, a remnant of a fracture Booper suffered after wandering behind the car when Anton had been teaching his son to drive. With just a little bit of pressure on it, she would have to get up and abandon this spot in the hallway. Maybe even forget the pain she was in. “We can both be ticking time bombs.” “I like how you think you can say ‘both’ and I am supposed to think you mean it could be you,” she had said. “Just stop trying to do that. Just stop.” Anton had pushed back against the door and slid up, knocking off the metal Ursus Crossing sign nailed to it. It clacked on the hardwood. Booper had picked up her head and stared right into his open mouth as if the crashing sound had out of it and it was the only sound he was capable of making. Then Booper had lowered her head back to the rug. “We need to get her up,” Anton had said. “You are not stealing anything.” “No. No. We are trying the blind bus thing. We just need to get her up.” “She’s so tired, Anton.” “I know,” he had said moving towards her hindquarter, “I know all that.” And here they were. Dead fish spinning in the aquarium, Booper’s head in his lap and a pair of sunglasses, the only necessary disguise to violate the Valley Metro “No Pets” policy, dangling from his shirt pocket. Anton wrapped a thumb and fingers around Booper’s silky ears and slid his hands the length of them. This frequently led to Booper’s eyes longblinking into sleep. He stared through the fish tank at a long-faced, sallow complexioned man, white hair slicked backwards on his head and overgrown eyebrows bushed with age. In the man’s lap, rolled on its back, appeared to be a black bear cub, though through the porthole lens of the tank, everything appeared very round. The man wrestled a baby bottle filled with white fluid out of a worn leather satchel and popped the bottle into the mouth of the black bear cub, which wrapped paws around the bottle. Anton leaned forward and said, “Hey Buddy, is that a bear cub? Jesus. This place really is exotic.” “Bear?” The man’s voice is deep but dried out and smelled of scotch when he spoke. “You god damn idiot. This is an Akita.” Anton, feeling like a god damn idiot, squinted through the glass. “The only survivor of the litter,” said the man. “Oh,” Anton said. “They think mine may have cancer.” He looked at Booper. Her eyes were closed. “They think it might be —” “Boy, if you were listening at all you would have heard me say this is the only goddamn survivor. There were Four. A litter of four.” Anton peered around the glass. The Akita had all the features of a black bear cub. A broad head. Round ears. A tan snout. It’s a black bear cub. Booper’s head had become very heavy when a wide-waisted woman with cat-print scrubs emerged from the door and said: “Booper”. “What kind of a name is Booper,” said the bushy-browed man on the other side of the portal fish tank.
The Settling Moment Booper’s eyes opened at the sound of her name. Anton raised his hand and the woman walked to him with a yellow sheet of carbon paper, gridded with purple print and check boxes. She pinched a crisp line to fold it over. “This is your diagnosis code from the lab. Give it to the doctor when you go in.” “Why are you giving this to me?” “You see that blonde girl there? With the droopy eyes,” she said. Anton nods, “The one not wearing scrubs.” “You got it.” She smelled like iodine and wore smiling, silver cat face earrings. “She’ll lose it if I put it with your file. Trust me.” “Thanks,” said Anton. She scratched at the dog‘s white and gold ear and her eyelids closed again. “Booper is an adorable name.” She smiled at Anton. “They’ll call you in a minute.” She turned and headed back to the door. Anton opened the paper and the crinkle set Booper’s tail wagging. This time there was an additional check mark. Below “Hemangiosarcoma”, “Adenocarcinoma” also had a check. Beside both marks, in the open margin, someone had drawn a frowny face. “I’m not supposed to see this,” Anton said. “This place kills pets,” the bushy-browed, portal man said. Anton glanced at Booper, her head heavy again and her tail had stopped. The man stroked at the Akita bear cub’s belly. He did not look up. “Did you say kills?” The man’s massive bushy eyebrows shadowed a flash from his eyes as he barely shook his head and put a shushing finger to his lips. “Really,” said Anton. “A conspiracy?” “You are lousy, you know that? A lousy person.” “Look, Buddy, you’re the one saying this place is going to kill my dog. What the hell kind of person says that?” “The kind of person who’s trying to help you is all. You should take your dog and his stupid name and get out of here.” “I can’t. I don’t have a choice. This is the cheapest place.” “It’s not worth it.” “And it’s on the bus route.” “Steal a car.” “Why the hell are you here then?” The bushman plucked the bottle from the Akita bear’s mouth. The animal made a growling gurgle and the bushman patted its belly, then whispered, “I intend to document their failures every step of the way with this one. And when it ultimately dies in their care, I am going to sue them inside out. I am going to take everything. I will see this place implode and collapse like a can in a vacuum. And I don’t care about the goddam money. You think I give one good goddamn about the money? No. You want to know why I’m here? I’ll tell you why I am here. Revenge.” ─
The Settling Moment Two months ago, Anton had come home from the scrapyard after trying to ride the bus for the first time, to find his 20 year old son’s room empty and the car gone. He waited for the bank carpool to drop off his wife and he walked with her, by the hand, to their son’s room. Clean, indented rectangles on the carpet mapped the absent furniture. Plowed vacuum lines striped the carpet. They could smell the fresh scent of deodorant mixed with a musty dust and the stale synthetic lavender of the vacuum filter. The walls were unkindly bare and the room looked large, like a great waste of space. They decided to wait. He was probably fine. He would call. He would come home. They would have dinner. Everything would be as it was. But after 24 hours with no word, no call, his phone number went to nothing. Annalisa called the police hysterical. Making threats. Within six hours, the cops had found him in a TraveLodge in Wickenburg with the car and half of the family’s three thousand dollar savings account. Annalisa asked how soon they could see him. The officer said that the son had no interest. He didn’t want to see them. Annalisa accused the officer of lying. She demanded to see her son. She threatened to use her position in the foreclosure department to take the officer’s house. Anton took the phone from her. The officer asked Anton if he wanted to press charges. He said no. He said, “Let him have the car. Let him go. I want you to let him go.” All of this seemed to have taken hours. Anton checked the minute counter on his phone. It was four minutes. And then that was it. There was no contact. There was nothing. Anton had heard, through one of his son’s friends, that one of the boy’s professors had acquired a grant to study bears in Alaska and this had been where the boy was headed, to spend time chasing down black bears, following them through a season and recording the development of bear cubs. It is a kind of cruel thing to know, Anton thought, that mammals can have a litter. Left alone in the wild, mammals, such as dogs or bears can have disposably large sets of offspring with the knowledge that some will not survive infancy or some will be picked off by predators or some will be lost to accidents or starvation or even in some cases, by their own progenitor. And all of this seemed in vain when you thought about the fact that the successful offspring went away. They did not spend their lives near their parents. Most mammals staked out their own territory and if they crossed their parents they fought till both were bloody and exhausted or one was dead. Over space. There can be no doubt that there has always been a contradiction of purpose between parent and offspring and the only resolution was space. Territory. It was something that Anton somehow had lost and his son still had a waking instinct for. By the time Anton and Booper reached the bus stop, the short leash seemed too heavy for her. Anton had learned to sit in the front of the bus. It smelled better. People tended to leave you alone in the front. And it was easier to get off. By sitting in the front he had struck up a friendship with Yuri, the Ukrainian bus driver. Yuri had suggested passing Booper off as a service animal. Anton played his part, wearing the ridiculous pair of sunglasses, but the longer he waited, he was sure he would have to carry her on the bus and he didn’t think Yuri would go for it. The bus pulled up to the stop as a dust wall was building in the east. The wave would hit before he was home and they would have to walk the last half mile against the dirty harsh wind. Booper stared at the step with her head swaying. Anton stood behind her, pretending not to see her fading. Yuri reached into a purple fanny pack and 99
The Settling Moment held out a peanut butter cookie. Her nose twitched and she leapt up and took the cookie with unforeseeable fluidity. Yuri winked at Anton, who was happy to stay in character and not return an impossible smile. He took a seat towards the back so he would not have to hear another story about Yuri’s pregnant wife. About his third child. About how wonderful it is to hold a baby. About how, in Europe, people only had one child. But here, you could have three and no one thought anything of it. Instead, Anton opted to watch the city go by as a cloudy horizon of dirt inched over the East Valley, a dust storm as unstoppable as time. Phoenix was not a bus town. Yuri had promised that people on busses don’t pay attention, that no one would doubt his imitated blindness, but Anton thought this was a misunderstanding of this city. It was a car city. Only disillusion or dire circumstances forced people close together on busses. In close quarters, they tried to look like they weren’t studying you, but everyone was watching everyone else. They would notice, they just wouldn’t say a thing. They would keep to themselves, maintain their space. Phoenix was an inadvertent experiment in territorialism. People moved here to get away from congestion, and given the space, you spread out. You create your own territory. You separate and isolate. That’s what overloaded the streets with cars. Tiny territories. Tiny settlements against nature. Anton watched as dust gathered like a magnificent avalanche and ground over the suburb east of the city. A one day dustbowl, reducing all visibility and isolating each cramped suburban homestead, swaddling territory lust with a satisfying illusion and unsowable airborne caliche. “So there is something we can do?” Annalisa stood on a chair hanging an old family portrait. The chair teetered when Anton finally came in, grit still digging in around his eyes and Booper collapsing on the tile by the door. “It isn’t much. It will give her three more months. And that’s a maybe.” “Well maybe we should,” she said. “It’s almost cruel. Look at her.” Even perched on a chair, the vaulted ceiling and arched entry made the house look swollen and palatial and vacant around Annalisa as she wobbled there with an eleven inch frame on the enormous wall behind her. “There’s something else,” Anton said. “It’s going to be around three thousand dollars.” “Oh,” she said. “Yeah,” he said. “We can’t.” “I know.” He slipped off the sunglasses and tossed them onto the cluttered kitchen counter. He rubbed at his eyes. He told her about the man in the waiting room who had said the vet killed pets. How he was going to let his own dog die. He told her the man was crazy. “I wouldn’t put a thing into what he said,” Anton told her. “Then why are you telling me this?” “It just bothered me. It bothers me. He is just going to let that puppy die. Because he is an asshole. Swindlers like this come into the yard all the time with copper you know they have ripped off from somewhere. And we just take it. We just put up with it. I am so tired of putting up with shitty people.” “But what does that have to do with us? With Booper?” 100
The Settling Moment “I just think it’s shitty that this guy is sacrificing his dog like this and we would do just about anything to keep ours alive.” “We’re not really much better,” she said. “How can you say that?” “What have we been talking about? Just letting her die, right? We’re talking about not doing anything. How long does she have if we don’t do anything?” “Maybe a week.” “I think someone should do something,” she said. “If this guy shouldn’t be allowed to do that why should we?” “This piece of shit is letting a healthy dog die. Ours is dying from cancer?” “Because we haven’t saved enough? Because we haven’t made enough? Because of things we haven’t done? What if he,” she said, looking down on him from the chair, “what if when he comes home we have to tell him that we let Booper die.” “Jesus, Anni, what if he never comes home?” The dog’s labored panting sounded percussive and endless. It is such a small sound to fill such a large house, but it carries. It would, Anton thought, be so quiet without it. “So,” she said climbing down off the chair, “we do nothing. That’s what we do.” “The other option costs two hundred.” “Don’t even say it,” she said. “When he wanted the dog, we all agreed we would take care of her, not give up on her.” “I know,” he said. “I remember. I’ve been thinking about that very thing. And if we weren’t in this situation . . .” He didn’t know how to finish the sentence. Annalisa slipped down onto the floor beside Booper and sighed. “I feel like not doing anything is why we are in ‘this situation’.” He shuffled to the guest bathroom and ran cool water into the sink. Skids of toothpaste smattered all over the counter had hardened after two months. The boy could never seem to make toothpastes stick to the brush. He was always in a hurry. He couldn’t get it done fast enough. He couldn’t hold the brush steady. He couldn’t squeeze the tube lightly enough. Without a will to clean, the bathroom had remained it its state, preserved with green mint reminders. He stared at himself in the dim light of the windowless bathroom and wondered if he would ever know what made the boy leave. He wondered if it was an act of mercy. So the boy would never have to tell them why he left. Or if he couldn’t. Or if it was a knowable thing at all. If it was territorial. If there had been signs. If it was something he or Annalisa had done. Or hadn’t. The bathroom fan, recessed in the ceiling and vented out through the roof, rattled with the wind of the dust storm. In an hour or so, all of the dust would have to come down somewhere and add another layer of dirt to every shelf, every countertop, every surface in the home, making everything look even more abandoned than it already did. He scooped up handfuls of cool water in his dry, wrinkled hands. He leaned in and splashed at his face. He tasted mud in his mouth. He patted his face dry and walked back out to his wife, who sat beside their son’s dying dog, with her head on her knees. “I have an idea,” he said. “You have to trust me, though.” She turned and looked up at him. “What are you going to do?” “I think we are now at level five desperate.” ─ 101
The Settling Moment In the abandoned foreclosure on 1948 S. Gallagher Street, Anton snapped on the head lamp and turned his head back down the hallway. He had kicked up enough dust shuffling down the hall to ignite a tube of lighted dust. He liked to look at it. It was the only time you could really see light. Like the light wasn’t really moving and time was holding still. The dust also suggested the house hid no squatters. He tugged on the leather gloves and felt the hole in the left thumb. He would have to be careful with the insulation. Above a pallet in the garage, he had found the water-heater connectors, dangling and disconnected, that fed the ½ inch copper arteries of the house. He hacksawed the hot and cold just past the connector sodders. He chased the lines with the headlamp. There were going to be several elbows which meant multiple holes in the drywall. He started calculating and settled on three hours. There might be enough time for one more house before Annalisa was up for work. If he got it right, it would leave enough time to shower and put together her morning coffee. And hopefully convince her that a garage full of copper was in their best interest. He cut the elbows that bent up into the walls and dragged the starter lines through the hall and piled them by the back door. In the dark, he made his way to the bathroom and the head lamp revealed a smashed bathtub - slit, cracked and dented with a hole three times the size of the drain. A headlamp survey of the floor gave birth to a new galaxy of random constellations, a planetarium winking off the wall and ceiling as light reflected off the shattered pieces of the sink and mirror. That’s how you get even with the bank right there, he thought. He fired up the reciprocating saw and started with a square to open up a panel between what was left of the shower and sink. The hot and cold were separated by about four feet. As he cut parallel, the two lines curved together. Another crappy house built during the boom. He hacksawed the connector for the hot and started pulling. Insulation was already getting in through the thumbhole and his thumb started to itch. He kept pulling. There was going to be about 18 to 20 pounds of copper in this house. There were four more in the neighborhood. There would have to be one more hot night like tonight to come up with three thousand. With the hot pulled, he hacked at the cold and it leaked from the backpressure, soaking the glove that was getting insulation. If the thumb got wet, the insulation would push right under the skin. He picked up the sawed-out panel to pin back some of the insulation and heard a metallic crash in the hall. He switched off the head lamp and crouched in the corner. He held his ground, holding the 14 inch pipe-wrench in one hand and twirling the stolen Southwest Scrap truck key in his pocket. After 10 minutes without a sound, he couldn’t wait anymore. He was going to have to do something. Time was a precious currency. He stood up and plotted a course through the shattered glass. It was impossible to be soundless. The crunches and crackles exploded in the dark. By the time he stepped into the hall, he had decided to sneak out. He heard coughing in the kitchen and stepped into a bedroom. He tried to hold his breath and wondered if he could get the window open. Without a set of blinds or curtains, the moonlight illuminated the room. He stepped backwards, watching the door and pushed it closed with his foot. As the door closed, a pair of eyes appeared in the dark and he froze. Someone tall was looking down at him from behind the door. And in that second, as his throat tightened to scream, with his muscles locked and his heart accelerating like a
The Settling Moment getaway car, he saw the headband. Then he felt like an idiot. He snapped on the headlamp and examined the poster. It was Zach Randolph in his Grizzlies uniform with a basketball under his arm. Hearing his escalated breath, he tried to hold it and surveyed the room. Scattered pieces of Legos. Unboxed crayons. A broken silver trophy and hand drawn pictures pinned to the wall. This was a child’s room. Hastily exited. Then Zach Randolph disappeared with a crack, replaced by a stout, wide-headed, man with a beard like an animal, shiny and wet and matted, overgrown like an abandoned field. He smelled like mold and dirt and urine. His hair mashed to the side of his head. “What do you think you are doing to my goddam house?” Anton had been sure that given a moment such as this, when instinct would be required, that in an instant he would know what to do and he would go with it. But nothing kicked in. He was still standing in an abandoned house, in some kid’s room, and his tools and seventy-five dollars of copper were on the other side of a wild imposing hulk. “That’s my pipe,” the man said. “All of it.” Anton turned to face him and he puts his hand in front of his eyes, trying to stop the headlamp. “It’s my scrap,” he said. “So I’ll thank you to leave it and go. And get that fucking light off of me.” “Hey, look,” Anton said. “Look I need the scrap. I need it.” “I don’t give two fucks what you need, methhead.” “We can share it. Really. Two guys can pull twice as much.” “You gotta be fucking kidding me. I don’t want your meth.” “What? I meant the scrap.” “Why in fuck would I share my scrap? I got a family to feed. Leave your shit and get the fuck out.” “I can’t leave my tools.” “If you don’t get the fuck out right now, you’re not going to be able to leave,” he said swatting at the light. Anton muscles and stomach tell him he is going to have to fight. He had never been in a fight before. He has always imagined he could handle himself, but he had never tested this. The bearded man blocked the door and Anton could see no way around. It still seems to him as if there should be a logical way to solve this. To explain that it’s not meth. It’s a dying dog. It’s his son’s dog. It’s his wife. His marriage. Everything depends on it. He can’t understand why the man won’t just share. If he would just step aside, they can take up his tools and get the pipe out, maybe even the wire. The light beam between the two men swirls with floating particles. Anton steps back and a something cracks under his shoe. He turns the headlamp down to his feet, picks up his shoe and sees a broken crayon. And he can no longer stand the thought of the man in the doorway coming into the room. “Okay.” He says. “Just get out of the way. I’ll leave.” The moonlight fades as a cloud passes over the house. The room darkens and Anton can no longer make out anything but what is in the light beam, which is pointed at the feet of the man at the door. “I’m not moving. Go out the window, you little fuck. I’ll put you through it if you don’t go right now.” “Don’t come into this room. Just don’t. I can just go around.” Anton moved towards the door. 103
The Settling Moment The man seemed to grow wider, rise up on invisible haunches and swallow up the door frame as he stepped into the room. He growled something Anton couldn’t understand. Anton’s fear, his muscle tightness, his desperation opened up a stretch of space in his brain. A wide open space without houses or trees or clouds, only earth and sky and stars casting infinitesimal fires that blurred everything together without lines or constellation or meaning. Without lines or borders the only thing left to protect was the space around him. He launched himself at the man and landed on top of him in the hall and tried to pin his arms, but his own hand already had something heavy in it and he could not make his hand open. But he was on top. In one flashing second, Anton believed he could win the fight. That he had won the fight. The man landed a hard blow right below his eye. Anton could feel his cheek split under the hit and the contact resonated inside his head and he pulled his hand to cover his cheek. His jaw ached and he fought an urge to yawn as another blow landed on his forehead and he heard the glass crack on the headlamp. Another blow smashed his hand into his cheek and his fingers went numb. Then a blow and sharp pain followed as a shoe connected with his rips. He gasped for air as the man stood over him and looked into the child’s abandoned bedroom. “You already pull the A/C coils you piece of shit? Holding out on me, you cocksucker?” As the man tried to move into the room, Anton swung the wrench, hoping to make contact with anything. It glanced off the bathroom frame and thudded on the man’s calf. The man buckled and as he turned around Anton swung again and made contact with the man’s knee. The man grabbed at his knee and at the doorframe and before he went all the way down Anton landed another quick blow and the clanking metal of the wrench blended with a crunch of something inside the knee. Holding his jaw in the darkness, Anton dropped the wrench and tried to stand up. The room shifted and the horizon pivoted. Blood warmed his cheek and chin. He used the bathroom door frame to pull himself up as the bearded man screamed without words. Anton gathered up his tools. He wished he could take back the last blow to the knee. He wished he had never heard that sound of bone giving way, felt the reverberation of it in the wrench. He leaned over the man, who had gone fetal with screams, pulled the door to the child’s room shut and wandered his dizzy way out of the house to the stolen truck with no spoils. With the freedom of a truck, Anton circled the city, driving past bus stops staked out by the sleeping homeless. He drove past neighborhoods with tidy rows of nearly identical houses with wood fences and brick walls, boxes invaded and conquered by people. He drove past three veterinary offices and two emergency vet clinics. He drove to two ATMs and withdrew fifteen hundred dollars and skipped the truck back into the current of dawn traffic. In the comfort of the cab, with his face swelling and his shirt filthy with sweat and blood and dust, he drove to All Creatures Domestic and Exotic, parked in the corner away from the street light and fell asleep. He dreamed of bears wandering the city and mauling people unfortunate enough to be caught out. He woke up mid-morning afraid to move. The puckered gash on the right side of his face might split back open and bleed again. The taut skin ached. His head felt too big for his 104
The Settling Moment skull. After a half hour, he watched Yuri go past on the 226 and imagined him talking about raising children in the quiet, crimeless Phoenix suburb. Anton wondered what they thought at the scrapyard. If they had called the cops. If he would be arrested. He did not know how he would defend himself. He had started to concoct a story about closing up the night before and being beat up trying to stop the theft of the truck and then finding the truck and stealing it back. With his head throbbing, it seemed like it could work. He thought of his wife waking up alone and making her own coffee. He thought of her waiting by the door with Booper. He wondered if Booper was still alive. It seemed so long since he had been home. A Chrysler SUV with bubbling tint parked beside the truck. The bushy-browed man climbed out wearing a crisp white button-up shirt with the sleeves rolled up and an unlit cigarette in his fingers. He opened the back hatch, pulled the brown satchel over his shoulder and scooped up the Akita puppy. Anton picked up the pipe wrench and a roll of seventy-five twenty dollar bills. He stepped out of the truck and the heat from the asphalt pulled his face even more taut. “Get back in your car,” Anton said. His head reverberated with the words. His cheek barely moved with his mouth. The bush-browed man looked up. “God damn.” “Get back in your truck. I want to make you a deal.” The man focused first on Anton’s cheek and then on the wrench. “No goddamn way.” “Please,” Anton said. He held up the wrench. “I’ll leave this in the truck. I’m not going to do anything with it. I couldn’t. I want to give you this.” He held up the roll of twenties. The man scanned the parking lot. The puppy gurgled a little growl. “You want to give me money?” “I want to make a deal. I’m really tired. Please. I need to sit.” “Booper,” the man said. “Yes,” Anton said. “Booper.” The man moved back to the Chrysler. He climbed in the door and unlocked the passenger side. Each step made Anton’s cheek shake like it could fall off. As if he held a golf ball there. He laid the wrench in the back of the pickup and opened the Chrysler door. He eased into the seat, careful not to cause the cheek to bounce. He sat for a moment inside the bushy-browed man’s car. It smelled like scotch and cigarettes and shoe polish. It mixed with Anton’s sweat and grease from the scrap truck. “You stink,” the man said. Anton stared out the windshield at the road where cars and trucks passed them headed wherever they wanted to go. “What do you want,” the man said. “I want to buy your dog. The puppy. That puppy. How much?” “I told you,” the man said. He shifted the dog to his other arm. “I’m going to sue this place. I need this thing.” “I’ll save you the trouble,” Anton said. “I will buy him right now.” “I’m getting revenge. I don’t give a good goddamn about money.” “Listen,” Anton said. “Listen. Let me give you some advice. Some fatherly advice.” “How old do you think I am, you idiot?” 105
The Settling Moment “Just listen. Listen to me this once. Don’t do this. It’s not going to work. It’s not worth it. You’ll regret it. It won’t bring back the other three and then you won’t have a dog at all. You won’t have anything. Just walk away. You can just walk away.” “You’re a fool. You have no idea what I’m doing. Do you even know what revenge is?” Anton’s head seemed to be gaining weight. It tipped back and to the side. He let his head hang forward a moment to rest in his hand and his ears whooshed as if every car in the city passed right by him in every direction. He was running out of ideas and he could barely think. Anton considered walking into the lobby and telling them the man’s plan. To warn them. To stop it. He would go in and talk to the woman in the scrubs with the cats. What was her name? “Is that it then?” “Remember when I was here the other day? With Booper? And the nurse came over to talk to me?” “Sure. Whatever.” “She warned me about you. She told me not to listen to you. She told me they are on to you. They are setting a trap for you. That’s what she told me.” Anton’s head, blood moving through arteries with a sound like busses inside his skull, thought it just might be possible that the woman had said that. He couldn’t quite remember what she had said. It might have been just that. “God damn bitch. God dammit.” “Look,” Anton said. “Here it is. I have a roll of money right here. I will buy that pup and give it a good home. I will take good care of it. I promise. Isn’t that better than letting it go like that. Let me do this.” The man’s bushy eyebrows curled up and then pushed down hard over his eyes. “How much?” “Um,” Anton tried to remember how much there was. How much he had taken out. “A thousand.” “Good god. This is an Akita. I have AKC papers.” “I can give you thirteen-hundred. I have fifteen hundred here, but I need two hundred for my dog. Thirteen hundred and you walk away with money and I take good care of this pup. I don’t even care about the papers. Hey, they are just going to kill it anyway. You aren’t going to sue them. That was never going to work.” “God dammit.” “Please,” Anton said. “Let me see it. Let me see the money.” Anton counted out his savings. He kept ten twenty dollar bills, rolled them up and stuffed them into his jeans. “God dammit,” the man said and scooped up the money and stuffed it into the leather satchel. He picked up the dog and held it in front of his face with its legs dangling in front of him, then passed it to Anton. Anton turned the puppy on its back and curled it under his arm. It lay still, content to look up at him. “Can I have the milk too? The little milk bottle?” The man sighed and reached into the satchel. He pulled out the bottle and then a tin
The Settling Moment container with a rubber cap. “It’s not milk, you god damn idiot. It’s formula. Now how about you get out of my car before I change my mind. And do something about your face, would you.” Anton pushed the door open. The bushy browed man plucked a lighter from his dash and flicked at it until he lit his cigarette. Anton got into the pickup and closed the door. He sat in the space with the pup tucked safely under his arm. Its skin felt thick and healthy and its fur bristly. He looked down at it and the rushing picked up in his head. Maybe it was the rushing. Maybe it was the midmorning sun. Maybe it was the dream. Maybe it was the wide brown snout and the little black claws. But the little thing, curled up under his arm, really did look like a wild little bear cub there in the cab of the pickup outside of the vet’s office.
Purgatorio by Molly Bilker
transit: a state of getting but not having, going & not being. purgatorio. here waiting for judgment — an older couple, tourists: his shirt African animal print, rounded nose; her hair streaked white and amber, ankles swollen. Do they know where they are? “That map is deceiving,” the man next to me says. if you speak, they will listen. in limbo they’re hungry for stories. today, it’s a black toddler and parents, an overweight Indian asleep in tight soccer shorts, and white men with hair combed back over loss.
Purgatorio “No good restaurants in downtown Phoenix,” says the man next to me. the boy stands on his parents’ legs, looking out the window, supporting himself on their shoulders. & he is just part of another lost generation, roaring out the frustration before he even knows its name. sometimes the question is only which circle we are headed for. bicycles hang suspended and click together. the rails creak and squeal.
photo by Gabriel Radley
Words for Jenny by Stephanie Bailey
Dear Jenny McCarthy, We all know who you are. You’re a television personality on The View and you’ve been in multiple movies like Scary Movie 3 and John Tucker Must Die. You’re also very well known for your opinions on the child vaccination movement. It’s understandable and expected that you would have such an interest in vaccinations; after all, you have a son, Evan. Evan’s story of autism has been made very well known in your crusade against the use of child vaccinations. You, like many other parents, love your child and want to do what was best for them. Evan got vaccinated so he wouldn’t end up like another child in a hospital bed. You’re incredibly strong for not only being able to raise a child with autism (and well), but for doing it as a single, hard-working mother. It’s only right that you take your status as a celebrity, and all of the fame and public impact that comes with it, to try and do something positive for the public—for example, your anti-vaccine movement. We have to make sure that what happened to Evan, doesn’t happen to another child. I’m an undergraduate nursing student at Arizona State University, so this topic is particularly interesting to me as well. I’ve spent hours upon hours researching the benefits and risks related to child vaccinations. I cannot tell you how many medical journals I’ve dissected on the matter. What I’m saying is, the concerns you have regarding child vaccinations and their link to autism is completely understandable. It seems to me that you have every right in the world to be worried about such a cause. After all, these vaccinations are supposed to protect our children against harm, not cause it. I’m not the only one who understands where you’re coming from either. People from all around the world are struggling with what you’ve had to go through. An organization in Ireland, The Hope Project, has been quoted as stating, “Every day new parents are ringing us. They all have the same tragic story. Healthy baby, child, teenager, usually a boy, given the DPT (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus) or DT (diphtheria and tetanus), MMR or MMR booster followed by a sudden fall or slow, but steady decline into autism or other spectrums disorder.” It just goes to show how many helpless people are dealing with this incredibly painful and traumatic circumstance. There is no doubt that there was a correlation between Evan’s vaccinations and the time that his autism started to appear; Jenny, you are absolutely correct on that. Being the great mother that you are, you collected data about vaccinations. Having an open, wellrounded, and educated opinion is key in making proper decisions as a parent. Especially, a famous and influential parent as yourself. Your actions and beliefs will always have some 113
Words for Jenny sort of an impact on the movements and opinions of the general public. This is why it’s so important for us to find the true cause behind autism. We have to do it for Evan and for all of the current and future generations of children. The data presented to us for the use against vaccinations is very well known. The doctor we all know to be the front-man of this data is Dr. Andrew Wakefield. His study of MMR vaccines in England and its description of the chain of dangerous events that eventually lead to autism are very compelling and believable to most of us. But, what if Evan’s vaccinations as a child didn’t actually cause his autism? Correlation doesn’t always indicate causation. We have to keep our options open as we continue our march against autism. Having a closed mind and jumping to conclusions is what could land children into hospital beds. I’m sure you’re very busy — being a single mother to a great and ambitious son can be tough work. Maybe there wasn’t enough time in your day to discover that Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s conclusions were based off of falsified data and have since been proven wrong. Andrew Wakefield isn’t even a doctor anymore. He had his license revoked as a result of this very study. A recent article in The New York Times addresses this study that we all find concerning: Few theories have drawn so much attention and, in turn, so much refutation: a 2003 paper in The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, which reviewed a dozen epidemiological studies, concluded that there was no evidence of an association between autism and M.M.R., and studies in peerreviewed journals since have come to the same conclusion. In Britain, the General Medical Council revoked Wakefield’s medical license after a lengthy hearing, citing numerous ethical violations that tainted his work, like failing to disclose financing from lawyers who were mounting a case against vaccine manufacturers. The Lancet, which published the original Wakefield paper, retracted it. In a series that ran early this year, The British Medical Journal concluded that the research was not just unethically financed but also “fraudulent” (that timelines were misrepresented, for example, to suggest direct culpability of the vaccine). (Dominus, 2011) With this being said, it is clear that the correlation between autism and child vaccinations isn’t a causal one. This point has been solidified when information was released regarding the reason of this correlation. The American Academy of Pediatrics posted an article online regarding the correlation and explained: About 90% of children in England received MMR at the time this paper was written. Because MMR is administered at a time when many children are diagnosed with autism, it would be expected that most children with autism would have received an MMR vaccine, and that many would have received the vaccine recently. The observation that some children with autism recently received MMR is, therefore, expected. However, determination of whether MMR causes autism is best made by studying the incidence of autism in both vaccinated and unvaccinated children. This wasn’t done. (American Academy of Pediatrics, n.d.) 114
Words for Jenny Just like you, the rest of us want to know whether or not child vaccinations should be used. Numerous studies have been conducted regarding vaccinations and the safety they provide to their participants. An article in the Oschner Journal tells us: The reduction in morbidity and mortality over the past century as a result of routine childhood immunizations is quite dramatic. Smallpox has been globally eradicated, while diseases such as diphtheria, polio, and congenital rubella are virtually nonexistent in North America. Other life-threatening conditions such as measles, Haemophilus influenza type b disease, and pertussis have been dramatically curtailed to the point where families no longer fear their devastating effects … We have seen a dramatic decrease of hepatitis A in all ages in the United States since the introduction of the childhood vaccine. As with the influenza vaccine, hepatitis A immunization in children has an even greater impact on the health of adults through herd immunity. (Bronfin, 2008) Autism may not be caused by vaccinations, but we know that the reduction of disease and illness throughout society is. Thinking about the parents who at this very moment have children in hospital beds, this final question is raised: What could they have done differently? Every parent wants to do what’s best for their child. Especially you, Jenny. We’re all one step closer to making a correct and informed decision about what to do in regards to our children’s health. We’ve assessed that vaccinations have no discovered causation to autism. We also know that vaccinations decrease the spread and continuation of illness. Child vaccinations may or may not have unknown negative effects associated with them, but as it stands, we as a society know of very few to none. Let’s do what the parents of children in hospital beds could have done differently and vaccinate our children. Sincerely, Stephanie Bailey
References American Academy of Pediatrics. Autism and Andrew Wakefield. Retrieved April 18, 2014, from: http://www.aap.org Bronfin, D. R. (2008). Childhood immunization controversies: What are parents asking? The Oschner Journal, 8(3), 151-156. Retrieved March 8, 2014, from the National Center for Biotechnology Information: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov Dominus, S. (2011, April 20). The crash and burn of an autism guru. The New York Times. Retrieved May 2, 2014, from: http://www.nytimes.com Famous Vaccine Quotes. (n.d.). Great mothers questioning vaccines. Retrieved April 27, 2014, from http://greatmothersquestioningvaccines.com
photo by Gabriel Radley
Waiting Room by Chloe Brooks
“But you don’t like corned beef.” “No, I don’t like corned beef. What kind of an Irish girl am I?” She pats her coppery pompadour with one wrinkled, crimson-nailed hand. “You should get a dark wig,” he tells her. “A dark wig?” “Yep. I think you should get a dark wig.” He pushes his bifocals up his liver-spotted nose, and his silver eyebrows pucker slightly. “Like in that show, The Americans.” “Hmm?” “Remember, she went through all her disguises?” she prompts, scooting forward in her purple plush chair and angling her legs toward him. “Blond, brunette, redhead?” He thinks for a moment. “Yep, I bet she had a lot of wigs.” “I bet she did.” “But it stayed on when he pulled her down,” he says, thoughtfully. “What?” “Remember when he pulled her down and banged up her knee?” “No, that wasn’t the wife,” she corrects him. “She had the disguises. He banged up the knee on the girl he was in love with 20 years ago. Remember?” “That’s right,” he nods. “What I don’t understand is,” she says, and her voice drops to a whisper, “what I don’t understand is if you lose all your hair, how do you keep the wig on? Do you glue it?” “Well, I would think it would be easier,” he says slowly. “I had wigs in the Seventies that were real hair, but she told me they’ve come a long way since then,” she says with growing agitation. “But they were loose. They were a loose-weave net and what you would do is take a bobby pin and stick it through the netting and into your hair and that’s how you held the wig on. But if you’ve got no hair, you’ve got no bobby pins!” “Screws.” “Screws?” He shrugs. “Ask them.” “Well I’m going to.”
Waiting Room “But look here,” he says, folding his magazine. “I was reading about this Formula One stuff. More rookies than ever this year.” “Oh, wow,” she says and crosses her legs. An outside door opens and a young man walks out with two small girls in tow, one tiny hand in each of his. The girls kick at each other as they pass the window, their black hair shiny in the early afternoon sun. “Cute,” the woman says, nodding toward the girls. “Mmm,” he grunts, and his eyes look tired beneath their wrinkled lids. “Do you think they get chemo too?” Across the room a pale door opens and a pale woman walks in. “You’re not glowing,” her husband says with slight surprise. “Nope,” she answers. “They said I wouldn’t.”
Ana by Naomi Alcala
Blurred vision, dizziness, blood rushing to my ears, I knew what was coming next. “Just ignore it,” I said to myself, “it will pass.” My legs, trembling, could not take another step. The fuzzy black spots took over my vision and the sidewalk was no longer visible. My biggest fear had finally caught up to me; my body was fighting my mind, and I was swiftly losing the “control” I thought I had. Her name was Ana. Ana was a very close friend of mine. We met around the age of thirteen, and began getting closer as the hardships and troubles in my life increased. From my parents’ horrible arguments to my loved one’s deaths, Ana was always someone I could count on. Little did I know, she’d slowly take over my life. She’d feed off my insecurities to keep her alive. Ana, more commonly known as Anorexia Nervosa, was the disease that consumed my youth for three years. It was the end of my eighth grade year, I was 13, and I was addicted. I don’t know how it happened, but it was a terrible experience. My seventh grade year I was a straight A honors student. Then, going into eighth grade, my parent’s fights got worse and both of my grandpa’s had passed away within the same week. I needed something that I could be in control of, so I turned to not eating. Although Ana taught me everything I needed to know about eating disorders, she failed to let me know about what would happen when coming down from the high. The feeling was similar to falling down a bottomless pit. As I fell deeper and deeper into Ana’s grip, I lost control of my grades, my friends, and even my family. Starving myself was something I felt I needed to do at the time, but now I realize how much it changed me as a person. In school, I was a completely different student. I went from being attentive, passionate, and energetic to tired, hungry, and cold all of the time. In class, I would often try to interact in conversation with the teacher and I would ask and answer several questions. After my disorder had taken its course, I had no energy or motivation to even speak in class. I could no longer focus on anything for longer than 15 minutes. Instead, I would be concentrated on what work out I was going to do afterschool. My grades, which were once all A’s turned to D’s and F’s and I didn’t even get to attend my eighth grade promotion. This went on until the end of summer before my junior year. My grades during high school were up and down. I would have to focus harder than most people but I had always tried to make a good relationship with my teachers. One day, I had fainted while walking 120
Ana to class and had to be rushed to the hospital. Being taken alone in an ambulance was one of the scariest experiences of my life. When my parents arrived, they were in tears and so was I. After they left, I was all alone in my hospital room and that is when I realized how much this disorder was really affecting my life. Instead of being with my friends doing schoolwork or having fun, I was stuck in this lonely hospital. After my experience fainting, I decided it was time for me to stop. I was not only hurting myself and my opportunities, but I was also hurting my family and the people closest to me. Over summer, it was extremely hard to not count calories or restrict my diet. So, to distract myself, I decided to get more into reading. I read books like Into the Wild, The Great Gatsby, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and many other great books. Reading Into the Wild was a book that really helped me recover. It is a true story about Christopher McCandless, who decides to get away from everyone in his life to travel to Alaska. This book snapped me back into reality because I could really relate to Christopher. His character motivated me to get into a good out-of-state school and focus on my career so I could then travel wherever I wanted too. In order to do this, I would have to start focusing on school again instead of my disorder. The reading I did over the summer opened my eyes and made me interested in taking more AP classes my junior year, so I ended up taking AP English and AP US History. Junior year was an extremely hard transition. I had to find something else to manage all the stress I had, I was gaining weight, and my classes were harder than I was used too. At the end of junior year, I had all A’s and B’s, a smile on my face, and I was 15 pounds heavier. Instead of restricting, I found that working out gave slightly the same feeling. I also found that it was easier to focus in class and study, making it easier to get better grades. Now that I am in college, the thought of going back to counting calories and starving myself still comes up in my mind, but I have grown enough as a person and as a student to know that it’s not beneficial to my health. My disorder affected so many other aspects of my life besides my health. It affected my personality, my schoolwork, and my perception of the body image. Looking back at it now, I realize that this disorder has helped and hurt my educational experience. When I had my disorder, it was difficult to excel in my classes. However, without it, I wouldn’t know what rock bottom is. I now have the motivation to pursue anything and everything I want to achieve in this lifetime. My battle with Ana is a part of my life, but it does not define me. I am more than the numbers on the scale, and to anyone with this disorder, so are you.
photo by Gabriel Radley
Cinderella Story by Carolina Marquez
I don’t understand people who won’t look you in the eye. I’m not going to deprive myself. She was kind of everything I wanted— a pansexual gothic nymph warrior. I take a Xanax every single night, projectile vomiting all my demons. It was disturbing, even off-putting, if you weren’t in tune with the zeitgeist. I was happy to do it. We’re quite the opposite, but we’re two halves of the same coin, beauty in the space between us at a time when the world was divided between the heads and the straights. I’m interested in looking good for me. I’ve become so infantilized, never confident enough to lead anything. I never want to hear the sound of your voice I was the biggest bitch, but fuck you.
An Open Letter to Stage Moms by Danielle Quijada
To the delusional-superficially-fixated, fake-confidence-perpetuating stage moms: I would like to formally congratulate you on being crowned the Ultimate Grand Supreme in parenting. On a lazy Sunday afternoon, I sometimes find myself flipping from one channel to the next in the quest to find the most intriguing show on TV. Recently, what seemed to be a lifesized Barbie (in toddler form) pranced across my 32-inch television screen. The channel had landed on TLC’s Toddlers & Tiaras — a reality show exposing a harmless “confidence boosting” activity for toddlers. Three Ultimate Grand Supreme titles and dozens of glitzedout dresses later, I found myself entranced by the loudmouthed stage moms and horrifying culture surrounding toddler beauty pageants. When I had finally escaped my couch-potato trance, I was furious. Dating as far back as 1921, beauty pageants have played a powerful role in determining beauty in the American society. In 1921, the first Miss America was crowned and the “attitudes towards what it meant to be an ideal American woman” began to mold the artificial, shallow views that society has of beauty today (1920’s - Decade in Review , 2013). Since then, the culture of beauty pageants grew and evolved into a popular past time amongst the beautiful youth, primarily in the South and Midwest. In 2009, a TLC reality show, the now infamous Toddlers & Tiaras, found its way onto TV screens across America. The show unveiled the twisted journey behind toddlers’ pursuit in being crowned as the most beautiful toddler. Pageant obsessed families mostly come from lower socioeconomic statuses, but somehow manage to always find just enough money to pay for their three-year-old daughter’s four-hundred dollar entry fee and two thousand dollar glitz dress — not to mention all the other fees involved with the high-principled beauty pageants (Child Beauty Pageants: Stolen Childhood). Though entrancing, the reality show ultimately reveals the reprehensible culture behind pageantry for toddlers, and the emotionally scarring experiences stage moms put their children through. Like the layers of makeup and perfectly curled hair that is hair sprayed ten times over. Like the bleaching of their teeth and application of fake nails. Like the questionably mature talent acts and surface level personality questions. Stage moms will stop at nothing to go after that crown.
An Open Letter to Stage Moms A common theme continuously seems to surface amongst the hour-long episodes: the robotic mannerisms and artificial beauty that the toddlers epitomize for the duration of each beauty contest, in order to ultimately reveal what true beauty is and determine who wins the crown. I mean, as one Toddlers & Tiaras stage mom puts it best, “It doesn’t matter if you can breathe or not. It only matters if you look beautiful” (25 Best Quotes From Toddlers & Tiaras [Gallery], 2013). Because at the end of the day, the most important thing isn’t your child’s happiness, but rather how beautiful they are when they are all dolled up. A Toddlers & Tiaras participant attests to and exemplifies the real importance of winning; “I won princess, but that’s the only thing I got out of the whole pageant. It makes me really sad inside” (Toddlers & Tiaras: The best quotes ever, 2014). Don’t worry, delusional-superficially-fixated, fake-confidence-perpetuating stage moms, fellow adults in the beauty pageant industry will understand and validate your decision in pushing your daughter towards toddler beauty pageants, right? Wrong. A Fox 411 article exemplifies just how supportive a fellow adult in the beauty pageant industry is; “Keith Lewis, the Director of the Miss California USA and Miss California Teen USA, is ‘terrified’ by the mere idea of child beauty contests, and even more so the motives behind why any parent would want their precious young one to transform into a pageant ‘princesses’ – especially on reality television” (Parents of Children on TLC’s Toddlers & Tiaras Hurting Their Kids, Critics Say, 2010). The motive behind parents’ decision to enter their child into such beauty competitions vary, but one thing is for sure, they sure do excel at seeing just how strongly these beauty pageants affect their child in the long run. One of the best parts about beauty pageants, is that they do not only allow your toddler to be temporarily judged upon how great their physical appearance is for just one day, but they also allow them to take that criticism with them throughout the entirety of their developing, adolescent life. Studies by Psychology Today have taken a deeper look into the vastly beneficial long-term effects that subjecting your child to “confidence boosting” and morally upright activities have on them; “Intense participation in activities that spotlight physical appearance instills the idea that physical beauty and superficial charm are keys to success, thus making self-worth and self-esteem inextricably tied to attractiveness. The take home message for society is that natural beauty or brains aren’t enough to ‘make it’” (Cartwright, 2011). Really, I must commend you on exploiting your three-year-old daughter’s “beauty” through perfectly bronzed skin, frightfully photo-shopped headshots, and gobs and gobs of make-up. Bravo. Beauty pageants in moderation, or even as a stepping stone to a more balanced place in the modeling and acting industry is one thing, but to take on toddler beauty pageants as an essential part of your family’s lifestyle bears no justification. By entering your toddler into these competitions week after week, further fostering your little one’s skewed perception
An Open Letter to Stage Moms of beauty — you are setting them up for self-esteem issues in the future and maybe even just seeking fulfillment (through exposing your child’s beauty) for a void in your own life. Bravo. Sincerely, Danielle #bestparentsever P.S. Don’t forget to say hi to the tremendously successful Honey Boo Boo and her mother, June Shannon, for me at next weekend’s pageant. I’m sure you bounce parenting and pageant skills off of each other all the time.
References 1920’s - Decade in review. (2013). Retrieved April 2014, from Miss America: http://www.missamerica.org/our-miss-americas/1920/review.aspx 25 Best quotes From Toddlers And Tiaras [Gallery]. (2013, January 7). Retrieved April 2014, from College Candy: http://collegecandy.com Cartwright, M. M. (2011, August 12). Child beauty pageants: what are we teaching our girls? Retrieved April 2014, from Psychology Today. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/food-thought Child beauty pageants: stolen childhood. (n.d.). Retrieved April 2014, from Fun Guerilla: http://funguerilla.com/child-beauty-pageants-stolen-childhood/ Parents of children on TLC’s ‘Toddlers in Tiaras’ hurting their kids, critics say. (2010, June 3). Retrieved April 2014, from Fox 411 [Fox News]: http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment Toddlers & Tiaras: The best quotes ever. (2014). Retrieved April 2014, from Zap2it: http://www.zap2it.com
photo by Gabriel Radley
The Writing Prompter V.2 by Annika Cline
Once upon a time, a man steps up to the writing prompter when it is his turn, in the HipStir Coffee Place. He puts $3.75 in, reads both the instructions and outstructions, eats the liability wafer, and the writing prompter begins: Describe your perfect dream vacation? Types the man, “Well I’ve never been to the Virgin Islands, I think it would be there, and-” Interrupts the writing prompter: Where did you go, what did you do, who did you hang out with, and etc.? Types the man, “Oh, I didn’t realize it was a vacation that already happened. Well, I don’t think I would describe any of my past vacations as perfect. Or even dreamy. But, I guess if I had to pick one …” Interrupts the writing prompter: Write from the point of view of a ball of yarn being chased by a cat. Types the man, “Hey this is set a little fast, is there a way to change the prompter speed? It didn’t say in the instructions. Am I given a limited number of minutes for each prompt? Does the prompter even respond to these questions? Why isn’t there a small survey given at the beginning to gauge my interest in the animation of inanimate objects, i.e. a ball of yarn? Is this—” Interrupts the writing prompter: Change perspectives. Now you are the cat. Types the man, “Ok fine, I can be a—” Interrupts the writing prompter: You are being chased by the ball of yarn. Types the man, “Now this is just a tad ridiculous, don’t you think?” 131
The Writing Prompter V.2
photo by Amanda LaCasse
At this moment, the barista approaches him, holding a bowl that on second glance the man realizes is a coffee mug that simply looks like a bowl because of its impossibly large circumference and tiny handle that is easy to miss. “Jim?” asks the barista. “Yes that’s me, and that must be my mocha—” “We’ve been calling your name for two whole minutes, Jim, to come get your Mocha Choco Latte YaYa, so sorry if it’s cold, Jim,” the barista says in a rush, squeezing the bowlmug onto the table next to the writing prompter, then hurries away. “So sorry,” the man says. Then, “Clever name by the way, I saw the film,” but the barista is already yelling out, “Henley! Your Espresso Patronum.” So the man turns back to the writing prompter, which for the past three and a half minutes has been adding Zs to the page. “Hey are you broken or something?”
Are you ready to write? The man is taken aback, but quickly closes his slightly agape jaw and comes up with at least three ways the technology of the writing prompter could have conjured that response without it being sentient. He types, “I’m a writer. I’m always ready to write. Sometimes I get writer’s block and have a hard time getting started but I’m always ready for the moment when inspiration hits me, sometimes at the strangest of times and that’s why I always carry my moleskin and 132
The Writing Prompter V.2 fountain pen around, for any occasion when the writing bug bites. I’m always ready but lately it just hasn’t bitten, the darn thing, even though I’m always waiting with open mind and heart. That’s why I came to you, you darned contraption, to be prompted, because I thought that might help and was cheaper than Creative Writing for Dummies, and coffee shops typically inspire me, that’s why I’m here, see? But so far it’s been a waste of nearly four dollars that I could’ve spent on some Lady Marmalade crepes to go with my themed coffee, except I probably would’ve gagged on the pun, it’s too much for me, I’ve never inserted a pun in a piece of writing in my life and don’t get me started on metaphors!” There’s a pause. Here’s something meta for you, Jim. You are the writing prompt. “Wait wha— Session expired.
An Analysis of “The Squalid Grace of Flappy Bird” by Ian Bogost
Flappy Bird is a mobile phone game that was released last December, but didn’t get more than a few thousand downloads until after the New Year’s (Bogost, 2014, para. 5). The game has players piloting a small bird by tapping on the screen, maneuvering it between obstacles that resemble pipes. In the recent Atlantic article “The Squalid Grace of Flappy Bird,” Ian Bogost argues that the game Flappy Bird is the perfect epitome of the idiotic games Americans buy today. The game’s popularity is mostly due to its unbelievably sharp learning curve and difficult mechanics, but Bogost states that this difficulty doesn’t bring quality to the game; it just makes it more addictive (para. 6). He ultimately argues that Flappy Bird is awful, but that it also “forces us to admit this inconvenient truth of games,” which is that most of them can only offer us squalor (para. 1). He does this through his historical analysis of the gaming industry, his comparison between games and other mediums, his use of figurative language to compare the game with a menial task, and his use of personification. Bogost lays the foundation of his claim about the inane nature of Flappy Bird by providing a detailed history of the video game industry, and games in general. Bogost argues that games like Super Mario and Endless Runner were pioneers for the gaming genre that Flappy Bird would soon come to emulate, a genre that would come to be known as masocore gaming (para. 8). Masocore gaming is usually characterized by its “trial and error gameplay” and hard mechanics, but typically offers the player some form of progression (para. 8). Flappy Bird borrows from these attributes, but offers no progression. It is through these comparative historical analyses of the gaming industry that Bogost both establishes the uselessness of this game while simultaneously establishing his expertise on the topic. Bogost juxtaposes games with other mediums of entertainment to set up his argument for why Flappy Bird is the worst of an already broken establishment. He makes the statement that most, if not all games, are subpar, that “you don’t play a game to experience an idea so much as you do so in an attempt to get a broken machine to work again” (para. 1). Where other mediums like books and movies might bring us misery with their poorly constructed narratives, games usually don’t even offer us a relatable human narrative (para. 2). Games are also special in the fact that they may not necessarily offer us the 134
An Analysis of “The Squalid Grace of Flappy Bird” “misery of boredom or stupidity, but the misery of repetition” (para. 4). He also compares sports to games and video games, stating that sports “yields its beauty through the practiced triumph of the human body and will over circumstance,” while games can only offer us repetitive anguish (para. 4). It is these comparative statements that establish the author’s ideas on video games, and will set him up later to discuss why Flappy Bird is so painfully representative of all these things. The game is better put into perspective for the audience by the author’s use of an analogy. The author compares the struggle in the game Flappy Bird with his experience at attempting to fix the handle on a bathroom drawer. After verifying that all the hardware meshed, and everything worked on its own separate from the whole, the author spent three hours failing at his repair. Playing Flappy Bird, the author argues, offers has the same frustration to offer. After spending hours understanding the game and learning the mechanics, deconstructing the game in a sense, the player fails to master the game, or ‘fix it’. Meaningful progress is unachievable, and the only thing the player can find is frustration (para. 18). At the same time the author confesses he was unable to stop trying to repair the drawer, even though he logically knew that there would be no positive outcome from the experience (para. 18). He states that “a commitment to Flappy Bird is akin to the sensation after two hours splayed on the floor of your bathroom” trying to fix an unfixable drawer, in that nothing was gained except your own misery (para. 18). He argues that Flappy Bird can only offer this masochistic experience for its players (para. 18). The analogy of this chore is perfect for conveying his idea of what this game has to offer, and is applicable to most people who’ve ever had to do a menial task, making it an effective strategy when relating to his audience. Bogost also personifies the game Flappy Bird, which better clarifies the characteristics of the game that make it idiotic. He does this by saying in his article that “it wants nothing and expects even less” (para. 10). By portraying it as this callous figure he conveys to his audience a more emotional representation of why the game is bad. Instead of thinking of the game as just being sloppy and ill formed, he paints a picture of a game that doesn’t even try or care to entertain you. He also personifies other masocore games by saying “masocore games want nothing more than to please their players with pain and humiliation (thus their appropriation of the term masochism)” showing that even those terrible games care somewhat. In contrast with other masocore games though, “Flappy Bird just exists” (para. 10). He shows that even hard games that are meant to make their players pull their hair out, at least at some level ‘care’ since that is what they are meant to provide, where Flappy Bird is just indifferent to the player. This last personification shows the game’s stupidities by presenting the game as this cold figure that has no need or wants to entertain the audience. These personifications reiterate his claim that this game has nothing to offer people by getting across the point that the game is this cold and uncaring figure. Bogost makes a lot of claims about Flappy Bird and other games like it on the market. Many of these remarks are unkind, but he is not without reason to deeply criticize them. He points out that Flappy Bird is stupid, boring, repetitive, and without purpose or direction. In summary, Bogost’s article states that Flappy Bird has nothing to offer the human race, and is the definition of what is wrong with the gaming industry. He does this
An Analysis of â€œThe Squalid Grace of Flappy Birdâ€? through his analysis of the gaming industry, his figurative language, his comparisons and personification, all of which paints a picture for the audience of a truly awful game. But he does offer a single compliment for the super popular mobile phone game, that it is so bad it may just show us the truth of what we are devoting so many hours of the day to.
References Bogost, I. (2014, February 3). The squalid grace of Flappy Bird. The Atlantic. http://www.theatlantic.com
A Necessity to Keep Civil Justice? by Aaron Seiple
Darrin Manning, a 16-year-old African American boy, was a star basketball player with no criminal history to speak of. He was a straight A student who never got into any sort of trouble. On January 7, 2014, he was with a couple of his teammates heading to a game right after school when he encountered an officer who decided he was suspicious and subjected the boys to the local stop and frisk procedures. The police officer thought they looked suspicious due to the scarves that were covering the lower halves of the their faces. They were given these scarves by their principal since it was extremely cold out that day. Once stopped, Manning was handcuffed and the police officer started frisking him. The officer was around his genital area when she grabbed ahold of his genitals and continued to pull and twist with extreme force. He then heard and felt a pop. After the whole situation was over Manning went to the hospital to receive surgery on his genitals. He was later informed that he may never be able to have kids (McLaughlin, 2014). He could sue the officer and receive all the money in the world as compensation — but he may have had his future taken away — and no amount of money could make up for that. Police brutality is an unnecessary and cruel practice that citizens should be educated on and that can be prevented through proper training of police officers. There are many factors and questions that are important when talking about police brutality. The most important one is to first define what police brutality is. A simple definition for it is any violation of a civilian’s rights. The problem with this definition is that it is vague and rarely holds up in court. NBC News wrote an article about how police brutality is different depending on where you are, not only around the world, but within the United States: “The nation’s 17,000 law enforcement agencies set their own terms — and when citizens cry foul, the courts spit out wildly inconsistent results” (Dokoupil, 2014). Dokoupil also writes about a decision made by the Supreme Court in 1989 about the legality of excessive force, which discusses whether “… the police officer ‘reasonably’ believed that the force he or she used was “necessary” to accomplish a legitimate goal” (2014). This means that if a police officer truly believed the only way he could catch a shoplifter was to shoot and kill him, he was legally permitted to do so. This example might seem extreme, but cases similar to this occur every year. Law enforcement agents have too much power in our society; this power needs to be dispersed among the public.
Police Brutality: A Necessity to Keep Civil Justice? Rachel A. Harmon, a professor of law at the University of Virginia asked a similar question to the one above. She asked in the Northwestern University Law Review: when is police violence justified? She came to the conclusion: police uses of force should be considered reasonable within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment if they are necessary to protect against an imminent threat to the state’s interest in facilitating the institutions of criminal justice, preserving public order, and protecting officer safety; and if the harm the force risks is not disproportionate to the importance of the state interest at stake. (2008) Harmon is conveying the point that every case regarding police brutality needs to be taken and examined singularly. Every case is unique and must be treated as such. Many civilians are unaware of the shocking number of cases of police brutality in our country. Cato Institute is an American libertarian think tank that has a focus on public advocacy, media exposure, and societal influence. Cato now runs The National Police Misconduct Reporting Project (NPMRP). This project collects all types of data that has to do with police misconduct and presents them using smart maps and graphs. According to Cato’s 2010 study, there were 4,861 unique reports of police misconduct with over 240 fatalities in 2010 alone (Packman, 2011). In most states this number continues to rise. Whether this is due to a lack of police training, or a more unruly public, there has to be a solution in sight to bring this number of occurrences down. The NPMRP also compared their statistics for police officers to the general public. For every 100,000 police officers, there were 264.7 violent assaults reported, compared to the 262.8 violent assaults for every 100,000 civilians (Packman, 2011). This means that in 2010 there were a higher percentage of assaults committed by law enforcement agents than the general public. We are supposed to look up to the police as protectors of the peace, but do they really keep the peace if they have to use excessive force to do so? Police officers have an extremely difficult and high stressful job. When they go to work in the morning they might not make it home that night. Many have families to support and care for, and they do not want that taken away because they were too lenient with a criminal. But there has to be a better way than “shoot first and ask question second.” Anthony J. Pinizzotto, a graduate from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a former FBI agent for over 25 years, assisted in developing and teaching the program “The Use of Deadly Force in Law Enforcement” for the FBI. Pinizzotto also led a study about law enforcement restraint in the use of deadly force published in the International Journal of Police Science & Management. In their study they asked 295 sworn, active police officers about their experience with deadly force in the field. Their data was pleasantly surprising. They found that “approximately 70 percent of the police officers sampled had been in a situation where they could have legally used their firearm but chose not to. Furthermore, police officers exercised restraint in deadly force in 93 per cent of the situations in which they could have legally fired their weapon” (Pinizzotto et al., 2012). In my opinion, this study might have been tainted and a little biased towards the police. After all, the 295 sworn officers he asked only make up .033% of the over 900,000 active law enforcement 138
Police Brutality: A Necessity to Keep Civil Justice? agents. Pinizzotto could be stacking the deck in his favor to try and show that the media bombards us with only the negative cases and not the positive ones. These cops not using their guns is a good thing, but not something that should be rewarded. It is like a student doing homework for school: a student doesn’t get an extra reward because they did their homework, they are simply expected to do it. A cop’s number one tool to keep the peace should not be their gun. Another factor to examine when researching how to minimize police brutality is to see if there is a pattern as to where and when it occurs. Do police get more nervous in areas with a higher crime rate? Are police more likely to use their guns when there is more of a certain race present? Another study published in the International Journal of Police Science & Management, one led by Kim M. Lersch, a professor of criminology at the University of South Florida, answers these exact questions. The study used data from a single municipal police department in the southern USA for the year 2000 and concluded: Officers used force in areas that were viewed as threatening, as measured by both perceived and actual levels of threat. These measures of threat were the only consistent predictors of use of force by the police officers, regardless of the type of force used. Other neighborhood characteristics, such as residential mobility, household composition, and even the crime rate were not found to be consistent significant predictors when the number of incidents of active physical resistance was included as a neighborhood measure. (Lersch et al., 2008) Information similar to this could be extremely helpful in preventing numerous cases of police brutality from occurring. If the government were to create a committee or an advocacy group that collected data from across the country, they could save hundreds of lives and millions of tax dollars in settlements every year. Yet it seems like the government is continuing to ignore the ever-growing problem as if they have nothing to do with it. Police brutality is a difficult subject to talk about and try to reform. Police officers argue that they need to be able to use their weapons whenever they feel threatened or see a potential risk. As a person who has never lived a day as a police officer, it is hard for me to relate to the ever-present threat of death, but it also allows me to think logically without my prehistoric fear response kicking in. There has to be better training that these officers can take that will help them complete their jobs in a more effective and non-abusive way. Thankfully, the cause to stop use of excessive force is ever growing with the aid of smart phones. People are able to, within a second’s notice, take out their phones and start filming. These videos tend to make it onto social media, which then potentially spreads the video to millions of people. Eventually, people will get fed up with seeing a new video every day of a civilian like themselves getting beaten, shot, or Tased by the police for no good reason. If the frequency of police brutality cases continues to rise, I see an extremely dark future for America. I see a country that is completely controlled by fear. People are afraid to leave their homes and do their daily activities. America is now a dystopia with no sense of freedom. This may sound like a science fiction novel, but I believe we are not too far way from this becoming a reality. Fear is one of the strongest emotions that we have as humans, and it can only be trumped by hope — hope that peace will soon rule the world we live in, and that police brutality will be eradicated. 139
Police Brutality: A Necessity to Keep Civil Justice?
References Dokoupil, A. (2014, January 13). What is police brutality? depends on where you live. NBC News. Retrieved from http://nbcnews.com Ganeva, T., & Gottesdiener, L. (2012, September 28). Nine terrifying facts about America’s biggest police force. Salon. Retrieved from http://salon.com Harmon, R. A. (2008). When is police violence justified?. Northwestern University Law Review, 102(3), 119-1187. Retrieved from Academic Search Premiere [EBSCOhost] database. Lersch, K. M., Bazley, T., Mieczkowski, T., & Childs, K. (2008). Police use of force and neighbourhood characteristics: an examination of structural disadvantage, crime, and resistance. Policing & Society, 18(3), 282-300. Retrieved from Academic Search Premiere [EBSCOhost] database. McLaughlin , M. (2014, February 6). Philadelphia D.A. investigating Darrin Manning’s claim that cop ruptured testicle. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com Packman, D. (2011, April 5). 2010 npmsrp police misconduct statistical report -draft-. Retrieved from http://www.policemisconduct.net/2010-npmsrp-police-misconduct-statistical-report/ Pinizzotto, A. J., Davis, E. F., Bohrer, S. B., & Infanti, B. J. (2012). Law enforcement restraint in the use of deadly force within the context of ‘the deadly mix.’ International Journal of Police Science & Management, 14(4), 285-289. Retrieved from Academic Search Premiere [EBSCOhost] database.
photo by Amanda LaCasse
Destructive Pussy Riots by Jonathon Kistner
There is something to be said about Conquering America, and your newfound fascination with “Feminist space.” The queen of the night crowns her successor — a five-year-old artistic hustler. An influential human being. We hit the town, a psychological night of terror dressing up and making out. We are connected — the chosen ones.
The Power of the Voice by Louisa Stanwich
Our voices are powerful instruments that we utilize every day. Accompanying our voices are usually hand gestures and facial expressions that aid us in communication. Now, imagine a world that is pitch black, and voices are the only means to express every feeling and emotion. Voice actors’ sole purpose is to imagine this predicament every time they step foot in a recording studio in order to make a drawn character come to life. Without the luxury of the other forms of expression, our voices become vital. Unlike movie and television actors, voice actors are recognized by their voices, not their faces. A forgotten art form takes place in those recording studios, and the last thing people think about is the identity of the voice giving the words on a sheet of paper or a drawn character on a screen, life. A culture, according to the Merriam-Webster English Dictionary, is defined as “the beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time.” There are copious amounts of artistic people in this world who declare themselves actors — members of “the Screen Actors Guild” or “Hollywood culture.” But in order to be an actor one must “represent a character in a dramatic production” (Merriam-Webster English Dictionary). However, not all actors act on a stage or are seen on a screen. Contrary to popular belief, the voices we hear in our favorite animated movies do belong to actors and those actors make up a unique niche of the acting culture. Voice actors are more than just people who stand behind a microphone and read words on paper; they are a legitimate sub-culture given their unique history within the entertainment industry, unpretentious attitude, strong vocal quality, unique skill set, shared passion for the arts, and creative ability. Voice acting didn’t just appear out of thin air, and it is not just becoming a prominent means of artistic expression today. It has been an art in the making for many years and its rich history is one of the many characteristics that make this group a sub-culture. In the documentary film, I Know That Voice, director Lawrence Shapiro gives the history of voice acting that includes exclusive interviews with well-acclaimed voice actors who discuss their art and careers. As reported by the documentary, defining character voices as a particular niche in acting came from British Musicals and Vaudeville in the early twentieth century. Then came silent films, where actors used only their bodies to express themselves and an occasional text box appeared on screen to guide the audience through the plot line. Pretty soon cartoons arrived on screen and had their dialogue in a text box. Voice acting is not complete, however, without the technical means to perform. Reginald Fessenden, a brilliant Canadian inventor and mathematician, was captivated by Alexander Graham 143
The Power of the Voice Bell’s invention of the telephone. Fessenden wanted to create a way to communicate without the constraint of wires. In 1900, Fessenden set out to work for the United States Weather Bureau, and while he worked there, he recorded the first voice-over while reporting on the weather during a test (Ciccarelli, 2010). Sound could finally be brought to films with this new advancement. Films with sound, better known as “Talkies,” became popular in the 1900s. Talkies were film shorts with recorded sound, which included only music and effects. The first feature film originally presented as a talkie was The Jazz Singer released in October 1927 and produced by Warner Bros (Shapiro, DiMaggio, and Reid, 2013). More familiar was the first cartoon voice-over in 1928 by Walt Disney as Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willie. The following year, Warner Brothers produced the first cartoon series, Looney Tunes (Ciccarelli, 2010). Because voice acting was a brand new art form, the first voice actors were the radio talk show stars. “The radio not only prepped me, it prepped everyone else in cartoon,” said Janet Waldo Lee, famous for her work in the cartoon series The Jetsons (Shapiro et al., 2013). The radio voice talent was exactly what this new industry needed in order to make an impact. These people already had experience talking in a microphone and conveying their every emotion without the luxury of a camera. “Radio is very much like an animation session. Like so many things in life you just borrow from whatever experience you have,” explains voice actor Stan Freberg, famous from his work in Lady and the Tramp (Shapiro et al., 2013). Radio is still a major form of communication today because “Radio can reach people in a way that no other form of media can” said Victor Aronow, a major administrator of Radio Phoenix, the community radio station of Downtown Phoenix. Yet, the voice actors using their talents in the animated films or other outlets, are not normally the same voices we hear on the radio every morning while driving to work. The businesses of radio and voice acting has expanded greatly, but they have become separate enterprises and no longer seem related. The only two things that might relate radio and voice acting today, are the fact that they both still depend on their voices to tell a story and that their face is not helping them land a job. This sub-culture draws comparatively humble people who have similar belief, and are more focused on “craft” into the fold rather than the other forms of acting. Actors from Hollywood have an infamous reputation of being un-genuine people, who are constantly acting, even in their everyday life. However, voice actors are known to have a different personality from these on screen actors. Cree Summer, a voice actor from the beloved show Rugrats, recalls her experience in the on-screen acting world: “I’ve had a few on camera gigs where everyone does this shtick about how much they love each other. It’s such bullshit. The truth is in voice-overs you really do love each other. They are just good people” (Shapiro et al., 2013). Due to the lack of attention from paparazzi and the press there is a barrier between the public and this unique art form that voice actors appreciate. It allows them to be “normal” people and have a life outside of their job. Dee Bradley Baker, most famous for his voiceover work in the cartoon series Phineas and Ferb, explains in his blog why he switched to voice-over acting full-time by saying: “Voice acting is quick, air-conditioned and you don’t
The Power of the Voice have to memorize any lines. You’re in, you’re out. One can work a few gigs in an afternoon and still have time to get home and spend time with family and cook dinner” (n.d., para. 7). On-screen actors are constantly under close watch and have to be careful. Although voice actors should be careful, they do not have to worry about going to a coffee shop down the street in fear of being recognized. The only thing recognizable about these actors is their voice. Although both on-screen and voice-over actors need attention from their colleagues and the public in order to move forward in their careers, voice actors are a unique niche of acting and accordingly, they share strong vocal quality. For starters, it is not only about how good the individuals’ voice sounds to the ear; it’s also about acting. The stereotype “Voice actors aren’t real actors” (Alburger & Penny Abshire, n.d.) is scoffed at by all voice actors and actors in general. According to Voiceacting.com “Whether you soliloquize on a stage in a fancy shirt, or perform in front of a camera or speak in from of a microphoneyou are an actor. And a good actor is what you must first become in order to have a shot in voice-overs.” Being able to act well is a criterion for membership in this sub-culture. Voice acting is not strictly about the power of the voice. Even if you have been told you have a fabulous voice “… the business of voiceover today is not about your voice — it’s about what you can do with your voice! In other words, voiceover work is about acting. It’s about how effectively you can communicate a message, attitude, or emotion through only the sound of your voice” (Alburger & Penny Abshire, n.d.). Some of the greats including Mel Blanc, who was known as “the man of 1000 voices,” led the way for everyone in this career. “He was actually a good actor and that is why he was so good at all the characters. He was a method actor. He became the characters,” said June Foray, whose most notable work was as Rocky the Flying Squirrel in The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (Shapiro et al., 2013). Chuck Jones, an animator, cartoon artist, screenwriter, producer, and director of animated films most memorably of Looney Tunes said, “Foray is not the female Mel Blanc, Mel Blanc was the male June Foray.” Just like Mel Blanc, June Foray was an actress herself. Foray stated that, “In order to be a good voice actor you have to be an actor and you can only be born with that talent.” Being an actor of any variety demands commitment and passion. One has to have a passion for the arts in order to pursue something in the arts as a career because one day you are in and the next day you are out. As Bob Bergen from “Voice Trax West” said “Never do anything in this business for the money. You have to do it because you get a high at the microphone” (Shapiro et al., 2013). In addition to having strong vocal quality, voice actors also have to have a unique skill set. Just like the traditional on-stage or on-screen actors, voice actors work for hours to find the perfect voice for each character they assume the role of. “Voice acting is about creating characters who may be funny or may be dramatic or may be scary or whatever. It’s the same as acting. You just don’t have to wake up at 6 a.m., which is why I’m interested.” explains Jess Harnell from Animaniacs (Shapiro et al., 2013). They also have to find the rhythm and pitch for the character they are portraying. Voice actors need to be able to do different voices and each of those voices will most likely be in different pitches. Therefore, voice actors not only have to be talented actors who can figure out their character, but they also have to be talented vocalists who can figure out their pitch. Kate Miller, most famous 145
The Power of the Voice for her work in Sealab 2021 states in I Know That Voice, “You have to have an ear, you have to hear yourself in your head, you have to have command of your instrument” (Shapiro et al., 2013). Voice actors have to use different pitches, rhythms, and intonations to effectively express their lines. Today, voice actors are a seemingly small sub-culture within the entertainment industry that is fused together not only by their powerful vocal quality and skill, but also their shared passion for the arts. “Does anyone realize how brilliant these voice actors are? They have to get every cryptic expression that you would do on camera on mic. They’re the storytellers. That’s their gift. And nobody gets it unless you are sitting in my seat” states Ginny McSwain, a voice casting director for Smurfs, the movie (Shapiro et al., 2013). When the general public goes to see a movie and hears the famous phrase “In a world…” in movie previews, they do not automatically think, “I love that voice … I need to know who is speaking.” Same thing happens in animated films. If a voice actor does his job correctly then his voice is no longer associated with himself but rather with a character he is represent leaving his own identity behind. The concept may be confusing to some people. Why would anyone want to leave their identity a mystery? For voice actors, fame is not why they wake up in the morning, go to their recording studio, and start work. They do their job because it is what they love to do. They love the art of storytelling and enjoy becoming different characters with only the use of spoken word. They have an intense passion for the art, and feel the need to make use of their passion to pay their dues in the entertainment industry. The passion each voice actor has for their craft enables ingenuity and therefore, the voice acting culture is defined by creativity. One of the most creative aspects voice actors must have is versatility. “The thing I love is that one guy can be the voice of multiple characters and no one knows or realizes” explains Tone Kenny from the cartoon series Adventure Time (Shapiro et al., 2013). This is essential to each voice-over actor. Without being able to portray multiple different personalities or feelings, a voice actors’ progression in the industry will suffer. It is part of who they are as people. They are able to become different people by just using the power of their voice. “Versatility is the name of the game. The more changes that you can make the more characters you can come up with the better chances are you’re getting cast” says Nancy Cartwright, famously known for her work on The Simpsons (Shapiro et al., 2013). In the documentary I Know That Voice, it is stated that if you can read a Shakespeare monologue in the voice of a specific character such as Sponge Bob from SpongeBob SquarePants, then you have the creativity, versatility, and ability to change your sound enough to be a voice actor for a major animation film. Not only is versatility in sound an aspect of creativity in voice acting but also versatility in age, gender, and race. As Jason Marsden from A Goofy Movie explains, “On camera I’m limited to what you see here. I mean yeah you could put me in old age makeup and I could play an older version of myself. But you can’t make me look 10 years old again. But I can play 10 in a cartoon or I could play a female if I wanted to.” Because the audience can’t see the actor, there are absolutely no restrictions as to who or what an actor can be. This gives actors more options for characters to play and ultimately more job opportunities. Voice acting “… potentially offers an actor a lifelong career. Unlike on-camera, you can still work as a voice actor when you’ve lost your youth or you grow out of a specific physical type. You 146
The Power of the Voice don’t have to worry so much about being typecast or cast according to your age, appearance or even species” (Baker, n.d., para. 7). In short, voice-overs, voice acting and voice actors are a sui generis group of artists that take their craft seriously, but don’t take themselves too seriously. They are people who are willing to work hard to find their own voice within the industry and commit to perfecting every aspect of it in order to make spoken word come to life in the form of a character seen on screen.
References Alburger, J. R., & Penny Abshire, P. (n.d.). Get started in voiceover. Retrieved from http://www. voiceacting.com/Training/Get_Started/get_started.html Alburger, J. R. (1999). The art of voice-acting: The craft and business of performing for voice-over. Boston: Focal Press. Baker, D. B. (n.d.). Op-Ed. Retrieved from http://iwanttobeavoiceactor.com/on-camera/ Baker, D. B. (n.d.). VO myths. Retrieved from http://iwanttobeavoiceactor.com/get-ready/ Ciccarelli, D. (2010, June 16). History of the voice over. Retrieved from http://blogs.voices.com/ thebiz/2010/06/history_of_the_voice_over.html Ciccarelli, S. (2007, July 23). Meet the voice over industry. Retrieved from http://blogs.voices.com/ voxdaily/2007/07/voice_over_industry.html (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/ Shapiro, L. (Director), DiMaggio, J., & Reid, T. (Producers), & Sonnier, B., Shapiro, A., DiMaggio, J., & Reid, T. (Writers). (2013). I Know That Voice [Motion picture on DVD]. United States: GoDigital.
Miyazaki Films are Moving Masterpieces by Cassidy Trowbridge
Since the invention of the television, children of all generations remember a time when they woke early on a Saturday morning and ran to the living room to watch their favorite animated cartoon. Were these children consuming art? Perhaps. Despite the simplistic nature of animated characters, they break the limitations of traditional live-action film by transporting viewers to an entirely new world. Animated children’s films have become one of the most competitive genres in the entertainment industry, but does that equate to art? Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki is a highly acclaimed producer, screenwriter and animator whose films address environmentalism, feminism and politics. Miyazaki’s animated films are works of art because they display technical mastery, communicate emotion, and create meaningful dialogue among viewers. Technical ability in art is often defined as having an education in art, but there are various ways artists can display their mastery of skill. Leo Tolstoy (1896) emphasizes the importance for an artist to be able to form a relationship with the viewer through skill, “with him who produced, or is producing, the art, and with all those who, simultaneously, previously, or subsequently, receive the same artistic impression.” For example, ballet dancers attend prestigious schools to master their art form of dance. The San Francisco Ballet website cites ballerinas begin training at ages 7-10 and take 8-10 years of classes to become professional (“Common Questions: San Francisco Ballet,” n.d.). Similarly, traditional and highly esteemed painter Rembrandt studied under two masters of art before embarking on his own art career (“Rembrandt Biography and Chronology,” n.d.). Rembrandt’s skill of painting allowed him to work to become a recognized artist by the age of 22 and was able to take his own pupils soon after (“Rembrandt Biography and Chronology,” n.d.). In the animated film industry, Disney has set the standard for technical skill. These skills include character design, plot development, and art direction. Particularly, Disney paved the way for children’s animated films by using about 18 frames per second, meaning for every second of the movie there are 18 images. By using this standard, Disney is mirroring live-action films that are at 24 fps, creating the same fluidity and sense of movement as film (LaMarre, 2009, p.64). Miyazaki has created an entire studio dedicated to a level of work unparalleled in the anime world. The official Disney website dedicated to exporting Miyazaki movies to the United States says, “Known as a hands-on worker and artist, Miyazaki painstakingly crafts features that take years to complete … For Princess Mononoke, it is estimated that 148
Miyazaki Films are Moving Masterpieces he personally drew 80,000 of the film’s 140,000 animated frames” (“Princess Mononoke,” n.d.). Miyazaki is noted for his dedication to his craft and personal touch in his films. Much like Rembrandt and ballet dancers, Miyazaki has dedicated a large portion of his time to focusing on his ability to animate and produce full-length feature films. This dedication has produced pieces of moving art. Art must be able to affect a connection with its audience. Art should conjure feelings of nostalgia, love, sorrow, anger or passion. According to Tolstoy (1896): To evoke in oneself a feeling one has once experienced, and having evoked it in oneself, then, by means of movements, lines, colors, sounds, or forms expressed in words, so to transmit that feeling that others may experience the same feeling — this is the activity of art. For example, The Scream, by Edvard Munch, is known for its yellow-pale faced character that is so shocked and frightened we are emotionally impacted (“The Scream,” n.d.). Though it is, like most cartoons, anatomically incorrect, we see the mirrored features of a gasping mouth, wide eyes, and body language. The Scream communicates fear and shock so well the piece has lasted the test of time and been praised throughout the art world. Miyazaki uses multiple mediums in his films to communicate emotion with his audience. One of the most prominent is his distinct character design and attention to detail. While fantasy can seem distant from reality and often stretched too far, Miyazaki remains believable and connects to the audience on an emotional level by creating realism. For example, in his movie Howl’s Moving Castle, a fantasy film, the characters Sophie and Howl are simple figures, but they are surrounded by thousands of baubles, which have been drawn in great detail. If Miyazaki were to only draw a simple room with the characters in it, he would be leaving out the tone of the image. In one scene, Howl — a powerful wizard — is sick and worn down after fighting a war on two sides to remain neutral and Sophie — a young girl who was turned into an elderly woman — is a loyal friend who watches over him as he sleeps. The deep concern Sophie displays creates an emotional response in the viewer, resembling our own realities of watching a child sleep, sitting by an ailing grandparent’s bed or simply concern for another human being. Miyazaki’s movies often include as many quiet and contemplative scenes as action and adventure ones, mirroring life’s nature to move from one mood to another. Bringing his vision of the grandiose and fantastical to life takes great attention to detail; Miyazaki’s use of mirroring of life through an animated lens is how his art stands as an emotional bridge between himself and the audience. We often look into museums for art because we consider them worth looking at, contributing to our minds as a catalyst for thought. Tolstoy’s criterion for art found that must be infectious, “If a man … experiences a mental condition which unites him with that man and with other people who also partake of that work of art, then the object evoking that condition is a work of art.” Works such as photographer Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother depict the ravages of the Great Depression (“Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother” Photographs in the Farm Security Administration Collection: An Overview,” n.d.). The photograph has remained a popular work of art because of the conversation the art incited about poverty. The viewers emotionally connect to the photo and a social message. In the animation world, Disney remains a powerhouse because of their ability to connect to both adults and children. More recently their Pixar film Wall-E grossed over $223,808,164 149
Miyazaki Films are Moving Masterpieces (“WALL-E,” 2008). The film dealt with a dystopian future in which humans have destroyed Earth and made the planet uninhabitable. Despite the grim premise the film managed to engage children and promote a social message of environmentalism. Miyazaki’s films often stand out among traditional children’s movies for his nontraditional choices. He often casts strong female lead characters, addresses environmental issues, and promotes pacifism. Japan’s highest grossing film is Spirited Away, by Miyazaki who uses both a female lead and addresses environmentalism (“Spirited Away, ‘2002). Unlike Disney’s tendencies to create musicals where the main female character dances and sings, Chihiro is Miyzaki’s own views on young women. Unlike Ariel from The Little Mermaid who washed up on shore to a prince, Chihiro is thrown into a scary new world of working at a Japanese bathhouse for spirits. The movie also features environmental issues in the analogy of a “river spirit. ” Chihiro is the smaller girl who is seen pulling a mountain of trash from a spirit at the bathhouse. The river spirit is a muddy, smelly mess when he enters the bathhouse, but with Chihiro’s help he is able to cleanse himself, becoming a pure and clean spirit. Miyazaki’s river spirit represents the rivers of the world that people pollute. This mythical obstacle the main character faces showcases a real world problem. The audience feels sympathy for the river spirit and triumphant for Chihiro. This scene of heroicism accomplishes much of what Dorothea Lange’s own portrait tries to accomplish — inciting a conversation about the ills of society. Without addressing the human condition through universal themes, Miyazaki’s pieces would not be art. Audiences watch Miyazaki movies to enjoy a fantasy adventure, but what they are consuming is moving art. Animator Hayao Miyazaki shares his talent for animation, communicates complex human emotions, and raises societal questions with his audience, which all culminate into art. While Miyazaki has retired from producing full-length feature films, he has left a major mark on the history of traditional animation, Japanese Anime and the art world (Ehrlich, 2013).
Miyazaki Films are Moving Masterpieces
References Box Office Mojo. (2002). Spirited Away. Retrieved April 3, 2014, from http://boxofficemojo.com Box Office Mojo. WALL-E (2008). Retrieved April 3, 2014 from http://www.boxofficemojo.com Camp, J. V. (n.d.). “What Is Art?” by Leo Tolstoy (1896). Julie C. Van Camp’s Faculty Homepage. Retrieved April 2, 2014, from http://www.csulb.edu/~jvancamp/361r14.html Common Questions: San Francisco Ballet. (n.d.). San Francisco Ballet. Retrieved April 3, 2014, from http://www.sfballet.org/planyourvisit/learn/common_questions Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother” Photographs in the Farm Security Administration Collection: An Overview. (n.d.). Library of Congress. Retrieved March 31, 2014, from http://www.loc.gov/ rr/print/list/128_migm.html Edvard Munch Gallery. The Scream. Retrieved April 3, 2014 from http://www.edvard-munch.com Ehrlich, D. (2013, October 21). Review: The Wind Rises. Film.com. Retrieved April 3, 2014, from http://www.film.com/movies/the-wind-rises-review LaMarre, T. (2009). The anime machine: a media theory of animation. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. Princess Mononoke. (n.d.). Studio Ghibli - The Official DVD Website. Retrieved April 3, 2014, from http://disney.go.com/disneyvideos/animatedfilms/studioghibli/princessnews.html Rembrandt Biography and Chronology. (n.d.). Rembrandt van Rijn: Life and Work. Retrieved April 2, 2014, from http://www.rembrandtpainting.net
photo by Gabriel Radley
out of town
The Haitian Way: Piti Piti Na’rive by Andre Simms
The Haitian people have an expression, Piti Piti Na’rive, which translated from Creole means “Little by little, we will arrive.” The mantra may seem ironic to many westerners considering that the first images to go through the majority of people’s minds are of destruction and unparalleled poverty, such as the devastating earthquake, disease, and trash-filled rivers. While those images are accurate, there are so many hidden gems that get overlooked, such as foundations like What if? and the Haitians who strive to make their country better. With the bad seemingly outweighing the good, the Haitian people have plenty of reasons to wallow in self-pity and succumb to all of the negatives. Instead they choose to embody the philosophy Piti Piti Na’rive, as have I. At 2:41 p.m. on July 16th 2014, my flight landed in Port Au Prince, Haiti. My first stop was a local program in Cite Soleil, which is, without a doubt, the poorest place in the western hemisphere. The program’s name was SAKALA, which is both a word on its own in Creole meaning, “We will find our way together” and an acronym Sant Kominote Altenatif Ak Lape meaning “The Community Center for Peaceful Alternatives.” Located in what was once a GAP sweatshop, the center provides a safe haven for local children whose daily reality includes bouts with malaria and chikungunya, trash rivers, fires on the sides of the streets, and houses made of sheet metal held up by wooden planks. Immediately, I was met with overwhelming hope and happiness. Kids in the center range from toddlers up to high school age, spend their days dancing, playing sports, learning sustainability and English. Talking to them, I was awestruck by their amount of hope. They had aspirations ranging from politics to teaching and everything in between; a beautiful thing to see. Later in the week, I visited the What if? Foundation, started by Margaret Trost, the mother of one of my former high school classmates, who now works to feed children in Port au Prince. When the foundation first began in 2000, it only had enough funding to provide one meal a week to roughly 500 kids. Now almost 15 years later, the program has grown to serve 6,000 meals a week along with adding a summer program and new school scholarships every year. While I was there I met Lavarice, the head of both the food program and the Na’rive summer program. He told me that, although amazing progress has been made, the journey isn’t over. He shared his vision of expanding the program into a building that could house the school, summer program, and the food program in the same place. Reading about 155
The Haitian Way: Piti Piti Na’rive this program as an incoming freshman in high school, then taking part in serving after I graduated, helped me realize when you give things time, and people believe in them, progress can be made.. It took 15 years to get the program where it is, and if you ask anyone affiliated with the foundation, they’ll tell you they aren’t where they want to be, but they are getting there. I realize how different my mindset is now. People lead lives full of instant gratification, especially in the United States. They want everything now and when it doesn’t happen, they simply move on to the next thing. I think a lot about what it would be like if Americans had to endure what the Haitians have been forced to endure. The greed and anger that might arise from tragic circumstances would be completely antithetical to the togetherness that is displayed in Haiti. At the What If? Foundation, kids weren’t fighting each other or stealing food, and after seeing that, I couldn’t help but think about the fact that where I grew up, kids were killing other kids over a pair of shoes. I was astounded when I was told that despite the poverty, there was barely any crime in Haiti. If true altruism does exist, Haiti is where you’ll find it. They’ve had to deal with a lot as a country, and undoubtedly there’s been progress, especially since the earthquake. No one truly knows how many Haitians were displaced after the earthquake, but over 250,000 people live in a five square-mile stretch in the mountains. Of those 250,000, only approximately 200 families have sufficient water. In addition, numerous schools were poorly retrofitted and consequently destroyed during the earthquake, with almost 80% of the children not attending school. Clearly, there are still a daunting number of problems to fix, so many that it’s hard to imagine, where one would even begin. The Haitians may not know either but whatever they decide, they will do it together. The job is far from over and it may never be, but I have faith that the Haitians will arrive.
Tree-ness: On the constitution of things by Michael Bartelt
Don’t print this poem. I don’t believe in power constituting right, because there is nothing more excellent than a tree being a tree. Humans can’t do trees better than trees do trees. We can’t even figure out ourselves, and despite our many pages of record, we’ve killed trees trying to figure out what can’t be known, because there is nothing when things aren’t allowed to be just as they are.
Mizungo by Sophia McGovern
photo by Sophia McGovern
Kampala. The hand of a stranger is the only reason I havenâ€™t been run over or mugged. From every inch of the city, there is a reminder that I do not belong, but I am fascinated. Kampala is a hive swarming in a pattern of life, which my privileged brain isnâ€™t wired to understand. The sounds of laughter, smiles, never ending music and car horns load the air, and it is beautiful. But there is an edge of danger that lies beneath it. It is as sharp as the creases in the suits of the businessmen who weave in and out of the begging children on the streets. These streets teem with dark faces that coldly turn to land on me, the outsider, from everywhere. From the back of motorbikes, and from inside vans bursting with strangers heading in the same direction. From truck beds loaded with policemen who wear
semi-automatic rifles like sashes. These faces stare at my white skin that reeks of money and a life in an America that more closely resembles the lost Eden. Hands graze my bags that burst with valuables that could start brawls. They brush over my glowing skin, and quickly take hold of my mysteriously soft hair. The unfamiliar hand I squeeze tightly, leads gently, and silently wards off the propositions and proposals from men who canâ€™t see past my female form and pale skin. I am coveted. My body is all they 158
photo by Sophia McGovern
want because it is wrapped in a promise of a better life. I am mizungo. I have no identity besides my lack of color. It is a sign of the poverty that has passed over me, but clings to this air, and sprawls out all around me, possessing this crazy city. I am untouched, blessed, and desired.
The leisurely days in Lyantonde show me that I can fly. The motorbike grumbles under me, lugging me up the infinitely orange hills, and into the rural villages. The green bursts so violently it nearly smacks my eyes so used to a beautifully beige desert. The jungle twists and takes hold of everything around it. Children weave in and out of trees flashing smiles, waves, and shouts of “mizungo!” The wind that promises rain drifts the hidden music, smells, and orange dust, fufu, through my hair. It pulls my face into a smile brighter than it has ever known. This is bliss. Pure bliss. No drug could ever get me this high. The haunted nights in Lyantonde remind me that I am running. Lying on my bed, exhausted from the high of the day, comes the inevitable crash. Instead of children flashing waves and smiles, my mother — nearly a skeleton — breaks into my thoughts. Visions from years ago show me that she is broken, clinging to a past that never existed. She stares blankly ahead with hollow eyes in a yellow nightgown that hasn’t been washed in weeks. I see my sister and I, mere children, hiding her notes, and the knives. Anything she could cut away her life with, so that the younger ones won’t wake up motherless … I can barely sleep in this world so far from my own. I spend the nights living nightmares, and counting the minutes until morning. I am relieved she finally tried, and ended, her empty threats, but even more relieved she failed, and that I escaped. I am back in the arms of the people I love and understand the most. My bags, which are officially relieved of duty after six weeks, crowd the floor. My best friends hand-picked the dust bunnies from the dingy carpet, which took much more effort than the store bought bouquet that makes me cry. The flowers sit in a jar dug up from the back of our cupboard behind the saucepans we never use. 159
Mizungo I haven’t slept in 68 hours, but I can’t miss any part of this hazy reunion. She sits on his right, hiding behind a cloud, and we laugh and munch on brownies instead of begging her to tell us how painful this summer was. He cuddles with both of us, and I hold the two of them tighter, knowing he could have been killed along with me in the Kampala streets, and that I wasn’t there for her when she needed me. The permanent breeze Plays with the leaves of the mango trees, pawpaw trees, and banana plants… The sun beats at a constant 80 degrees, and bounces off the endless green. Gospel music blares from the speakers, fenced in by scrap metal. The whole town is mingling in the tiny yard, Thanking Jesus for the heaping plates of food and for his endless love. It is Sunday and a Day of Thanks, full of smiles. Children with their hair shaved short Bounce and weave in and out of the happy crowd. For hours they laugh and sprint and play with one another. I am the first “mizungo” they have seen. I pull out my camera and they pose. They are sure they will be famous, They feel my skin wondering if the white can be washed away.
photo by Sophia McGovern
A hand lightly touches my shoulder, Pulling me away from the children. “That one in the blue dress is a boy. He likes to wear dresses and his stubborn mother lets him.”
Inside, the World News, constantly playing, Shows bright politicians chanting about shooting gays on the street. International lawyers fight to kill the law supporting their imprisonment and torture. The people laugh and words of hate float up behind the Gospel music. “His mother is stubborn. She is teaching him to defy God.” The children continue to bounce and play under the sun, posing for my camera, as my hands shake. In my room, months after my adventure, I string up the pictures on the twine that zigzags across my walls documenting milestones. Children caked in dirt stare back at me, reminding me of how many desperate voices have been muted in Lyantonde, the town I grew to love. I stand on my bed, arranging them so the colors flow, but those eyes cannot blend in with the rest of my life pinned back by clothespins. My girlfriend watches me work, lying at my feet. I tell her these families’ stories, and of my group’s goal to provide them water tanks so they can strive for more than basic survival. I tell her how beautiful those children are. I tell her how much more needs to be done. I tell her I wish I could show her that beautiful country. But I don’t need to tell her that could never happen. I don’t need to tell her about the ugliness that would wait for us. About how dangerous those green hills and orange roads and open smiles could be.
Sailor man by Anna Flores
The first ferry of the day had just crossed over. At seven a man stepped out on the balcony, and silent answers crept across the stars. The moon looked different to him. He emerges a fabulous shadow only the sea keeps, holds a flashlight to his eye. I said, Are you a Boy Scout you lovely and unpurchased Product of America, with fine eyes and a dash of Indian blood? Through artificial tunnels and recurrent dreams, I find my motherâ€™s watch. He throws it down the sewer. It was an icy day, so cold we hoped for coffee. His frosted eyes that lifted altars brightened the waters beyond. A theater of the dead flames into song andâ€” like a pale evening drink, he is gone.
The Great Hot Air Balloon Trauma by Molly Bilker
He washed his face in hot water, and then he shaved. He washed his face again. He dried it with his hair towel still damp from the shower. He wiped his face with the back of his right hand. He went and put on his shirt, then he put on his tie. It was a light purple shirt with a dark purple tie. He straightened his tie, stepped back, straightened it again. He opened the medicine cabinet and took three Anafranil pills. He pulled at his cuffs and touched one wrist, then the other. He turned off all the lights as he left and closed the door behind him. It was Friday, which meant he would see his daughter. Eloise. This was a name Jane and Daniel had landed on in a sort of magical way. It wasn’t a tough decision, they just wanted her to be Eloise, and she was born, and her hair was reddish-blond pressed to her tiny forehead, and she was Eloise. He drove to work and tapped his feet as he listened to Ella Fitzgerald, the first three tracks on the cassette he kept in the car. Today, he felt good. Daniel worked in marketing for a firm that sold plumbing equipment. In the mornings everyone on the marketing team met for forty-five minutes, then Daniel spent most of his day in a cubicle. At times he went and talked to Sandi, the accounts manager. Today he just stayed in his cubicle. At 4:00 in the afternoon he left work and drove to his daughter’s school, where she was playing outside in the after school care program. When she saw him, she ran over to him and he picked her up and she leaned forward and kissed his cheek. She was eight now, and Eloise was trying to be a grown-up sort of girl like her mother. “How are you?” He asked. “You can put me down now, Daddy,” she said. He placed her carefully on the ground. They walked around the side of the car and he opened the door for her as she climbed in. “We made cards in class for Valentine’s Day!” She said once she was settled. “Do you wanna see?” He had seen the card. She was clutching it to her chest when he picked her up and he’d taken it out of her hand to get her into the car seat. “Of course I do,” he said. “Daddy’s gotta drive now, but you can show it to me when we get home, okay?” “I put glitter and lace on it,” Eloise said. “I’m sure it’s the most beautiful Valentine’s Day card I’ll ever see.” He turned right at the red light and started heading back towards home. 163
The Great Hot Air Balloon Trauma “How’s your mother doing?” He hazarded. Jane didn’t want to talk to Daniel. She didn’t talk to him unless it was about Eloise. They had a fight when Eloise was six and Jane decided she’d put Eloise in Norton, her elementary school, and didn’t talk to Daniel. It was very complicated for him. He felt very bitter that Jane behaved like he wasn’t Eloise’s father, and he also missed her very much and wished she would forgive him. “Mom is fine. She’s got a new boyfriend, Spencer,” Eloise said. “I don’t like him.” “Why not?” “Well, he’s not you.” “You shouldn’t dislike people just because they aren’t me, Ella,” Daniel said. He turned left at the light. “I’m sure whoever your mom decides to spend her time with is a good guy.” “I don’t like him anyway,” Eloise said firmly. Monday. An empty apartment. Daniel threw away all the trash and put away the toys. He put her Valentine’s card on the fridge. He washed his face with hot water, shaved, washed it again. It was the same routine every morning: the same tie straightening, the same walk to the medicine cabinet, the same three Ella Fitzgerald songs. He put on his left shoe first, then his right. In the car, he found himself singing along with “A-Tisket, A-Tasket”: “She took it, she took it, my little yellow basket — and if she doesn’t bring it back, I think that I will die.” His voice was breathy and soft and he stopped singing along once he realized he’d started. Today felt dark and empty. Every Monday felt this way. At work he saw a flyer on the bulletin board for the festival. The flyer was printed on thin paper and the images were full of dark lines from the ink heads on the printer. The bright colors were washed out: a photograph of a smiling woman with dark hair and a smiling man with a strong jaw and blonde hair in the basket of a hot air balloon. He folded up the flyer and put it in his pocket. He went and sat in his cubicle. He went to talk to Sandi, but she was out sick. Bad. How could he ever explain this to anyone? It was like there was a layer of translucent film between him and the world. As if he could almost touch. It was like all the colors in everything around him were bleached. He opened his briefcase and took out his pill bottle and took a pill. Gently. Today, he did not feel good. As he was leaving work he reached down into his pocket and was surprised to find the folded up flyer that he had taken from the bulletin board in the hallway. He was surprised that he was surprised. It wasn’t like him to forget about anything. He opened it up with his left hand. He looked at the picture of the man and the woman in the basket of the balloon and thought about Eloise and thought about Jane and her new boyfriend Spencer. The festival opened on Thursday and ran through Sunday. They would have all sorts of colorful hot air balloons and booths on the ground selling trinkets and fried foods and if you had the money, you could ride in a basket. Daniel, of course, did not have the money. But that wasn’t the point at all. 164
The Great Hot Air Balloon Trauma The same routine every morning. He washed his face. He flossed his teeth in the same order. Left shoe, right. On Tuesday his shirt was light pink and his tie was dark. On Wednesday his shirt was light blue and his tie was navy. He took five pills on Tuesday and six on Wednesday. Always the world was closing in on him, but each day he was closer to Friday – that was what he fought through the week for anyway. On Wednesday he fell asleep at his desk with his head propped up on his hand so it would look like he was reading the documentation he’d pulled up on his computer screen. He slept for twenty minutes and dreamed. His dreams were vivid and very colorful and disturbing. There was a screaming train and a bleeding greyhound dog and a big stadium of people who were shouting and hooting and cheering until it became a roar like the sound of the ocean through a conch shell. He was woken by hand placed lightly on his shoulder. He jumped, tumbled out of dream, spun on his chair to see Sandi. “Daniel,” she said. “I’m sorry to distract you.” “Oh, no, I was just.” “I just wanted a second opinion. If you could look over these papers and see that everything is in order.” He rubbed his eyes and scanned the documents. The words fell through the page; he could not really read them at all. He handed them back to her. “Will you tell Anson I had to go home?” He asked. “I would, I’m just. In a rush. I’m very sick.” She looked confused. “I can tell him. Are you okay?” “I’m fine, I’m just very sick,” Daniel said. “I just have to go home.” He got up and picked up his briefcase and closed out of his document on the computer and shut it down. “If you need anything, just call me,” Sandi said. He nodded and walked out. Trains, greyhounds, people cheering. He turned the flyer over in his hands. He went to the fridge and looked at the Valentine’s card from Eloise. It said “Daddy” in big block letters, and his chest went tight. He lay down on his back on the bed. He looked at the flyer again. If only he could take his daughter to the hot air balloon festival. That would be something, wouldn’t it? Something to tell her mother. He did really feel ill, sick to his stomach, some dark thing knotted up inside him that refused to let go. When Daniel woke up the next morning, he had slept through his alarm. He called work in a daze and told Anson he wasn’t coming in. He was too sick. He was not sick at all, really. He went back to sleep for an hour, then he got up. He took a shower. He washed his face with hot water and shaved and washed his face again, put on a tan shirt with a brown tie. He was sitting in his entryway, completely dressed, briefcase at his side, without anywhere really to go. He wandered around the apartment once. He sat down again. He wandered around the apartment a second time. He went to his bed and looked down at the flyer. It was 9:00 a.m., and the festival opened at 10:00. He had time.
The Great Hot Air Balloon Trauma In the car he took out the Ella Fitzgerald cassette. He didn’t want to listen to it. The very fact that he didn’t want to listen to it flooded him with a cold sort of distress. He had printed out instructions and was following the highway down out of town to the big field where the hot air balloon festival was to take place. He dug through his glove compartment, but there were no other cassettes. He had spent so many days listening to Ella that everything else had slowly vanished from the car. He parked in a dirt lot. There were not many other people there, but it was only 9:30. On the field, balloons were laid out with their cloth tops rumpled on the grass. Daniel walked through and looked at all of them. There were people bustling around. He didn’t know at all how hot air balloons worked. He went back to where people were setting up stalls and found the information booth, which had a pamphlet entitled, “How Hot Air Ballons Work.” He took a pen out of his pocket and wrote the extra “o” in balloon, then leaned against the stall and flipped through the pamphlet. This is how hot air balloons work: it is very simple. The balloon is called an envelope and it holds the air that is heated. An open flame beneath the envelope heats up the air inside. Hot air is less dense than cold air, so it floats upward, carrying the balloon and the wicker basket with the people inside along with it. This was very obvious, Daniel thought. He thought maybe there was some great secret. He already knew this but he thought there must be more, something as grand and magical as hot air balloons must be more than just cloth and fire and hot air. Daniel thought of Icarus for a moment, and then the thought fled his mind. He put the pamphlet back on the stack and straightened the stack. Then, he went back to his car and leaned against it as he watched as the balloons, one by one, filled with hot air and became springy and buoyant in their spots on the ground. His favorite one was a big yellow balloon with brown vertical stripes down the sides. The big brown one was almost in the middle of the field and was bigger than all the rest of the balloons. There was a short girl with straight blonde hair wearing a track suit standing next to the balloon with a tall, broad-shouldered man. She was standing on her tiptoes and kissing him. There were probably fifteen people there, climbing into the basket of the balloon, lifting and moving the sand bags, smiling and kissing and shaking hands and laughing. The field was full of bright, round balloons. They looked like bubbles suspended in glass. They looked like fruits hanging from the low branches of a tree: limes, lemons, peaches, apples, oranges, plums. They looked ready to break free from the Earth and through the atmosphere and perhaps never return. At 10:15 a.m., the first balloon lifted off the ground. It was blue and red and black. The people inside waved from the basket of the balloon. One woman threw flower petals down and they danced over the field and landed on the people below. One by one, balloons took flight, with small crowds of people cheering and clapping below. It was quiet. The balloons hung in the air, silent and tranquil. The sun was warm and Daniel leaned his head back, shutting his eyes. His favorite balloon lifted from the ground around 10:45. He walked into the field and stood underneath it, watching it rise. The people inside were waving down and they
The Great Hot Air Balloon Trauma all looked so happy, so content and at peace. It went up 100 feet and then 200. The people inside smiled and laughed and waved. One of them threw flower petals down and they fell on Daniel and he took one in his fingers and rubbed it, velvety soft, and it made him smile, too. At 697 feet in the air, the right side of the balloon collapsed. Something was happening. Daniel watched as part of the balloon fell in and a stripe of fire erupted up the cloth of the envelope. He could hear the passengers shouting in fright. “Oh my god!” One woman called, hoarse with terror. The whole apparatus was tumbling to the ground and Daniel began to run: he had 697 feet of balloon falling to make it back to the stalls, out of the field, into safety. There were so many screams. He covered his head and kept running. Behind him there was a crackling sound, the kind of snap you hear when a bone breaks but so much larger, like the bones of some prehistoric beast, and Daniel was still running and still running and running, and there were still people screaming and the sound of falling crumpling fabric and the pops and whooshes of fire. There were people running the other way, toward the crash, people with volunteer shirts and fire extinguishers and people with their arms outstretched and their faces wild. Daniel kept running away from the crash all the way until he was back at the stalls and he slid into one and collapsed to the ground and that was when he turned around. There were not screams coming from the balloon anymore. There were no more screams coming from anywhere. There were shouts and many voices, but no one was screaming. He wanted to get up and run toward the wreck and help whatever way he could, but instead he buried his face in his hands and looked away, leaning his head against the wood of the stall. It was 1:00 in the afternoon. There were policemen. There were firefighters. An officer was taking a statement from a girl who was standing at the booth next to Daniel, the blonde one in the track suit. She kept pushing her hair back with her left hand as she told the officer what happened. They had taken Daniel’s statement an hour ago, and he stood around now, bewildered. There was caution tape up around the wreck site. They were carrying bodies out on gurneys covered in blue sheets. Daniel walked over to the wreck site and pressed against the caution tape, looking at the burnt and crumpled balloon. All the other balloons were laid out gently on the field as they had been when he got here. It was 5:30 in the evening and the police had gone. All the bodies had been taken out and now it was just the festival people cleaning up the wrecked balloon. Daniel stood in a daze and watched them carry the big cloth envelope, torn and crumpled and burnt, to the bed of a big truck parked over in the lot with his car. The girl in the track suit went over to help with the basket and broke into tears when she got there, falling to her knees in the field. A plump woman with red hair rushed over to comfort her. Daniel walked over to his car and opened the door. He pulled out his briefcase and opened it and found his bottle of pills. He poured them all out into his hand and swallowed them, then walked out into the middle of the field among all the balloons, lay down on his side, and fell asleep. ─
The Great Hot Air Balloon Trauma He awoke to the sound of running water. Bleary and confused, he looked around the room. Everything was spinning. He shut his eyes again until the sensation of motion went away, and then he opened them. He was in his own bed. The running water shut off and Jane came in, carrying a basin. There was a washcloth floating in it. She looked surprised when she saw Daniel’s eyes open. “Hi,” she said. He licked his lips and squinted at her. “The doctors said I could take you home, but they thought it would be a little while before you woke up.” She walked over to him and put the back of her hand against his forehead. “Your fever’s broken.” He looked at the basin and the washcloth. “I was just going to wash you down a bit. I thought cool water might help with the fever. You were so feverish. They think you picked something up out there in the cold. And then the stomach pumping. I don’t know.” He remembered the balloon. “It was falling,” he said. “Flaming.” “You don’t need to talk about it just now. Rest. We’ll talk soon.” He shut his eyes and dozed off. He had a dream, but it was not vivid. It was very shadowy. There were shadows in the woods. When he woke up again, Eloise was sitting on his floor, drawing pictures in crayon. He looked at her and his heart skipped a beat – she was humming as she drew, some bouncy, rhythmic song. She was smiling, too, but a little ghost of a smile, like she hadn’t even noticed she was smiling. “Ella,” he called. His voice felt tight in his throat. She looked up. “Do you want me to go get Mom?” She asked. She was out the door before he could answer. Jane came in and Eloise stayed in the doorway, hovering. Daniel propped himself up on his elbows in the bed. “You look much better,” Jane said. Her voice was tentative. Daniel’s mouth was dry. “I haven’t seen you,” Daniel said. His voice felt weak. She sighed. “No, it’s okay,” he said. “I just wish I could see you without, you know.” His elbows hurt so he fell back down onto the bed. “When they found you in the field, you’d been out there all night. And at the hospital they realized the reason your heart was barely beating wasn’t that you were out in that field in the cold but because you had an entire month’s prescription worth of anxiety pills in your stomach.” Jane lowered her voice as she talked, quieter and quieter, so Eloise couldn’t hear. “What happened?” Daniel shook his head. “I don’t know.” “Daniel.” A warning note crept into her voice. “You can be mad at me,” he said. “I would be.” “I’m not mad at you. I just want to understand.” “All those people were screaming.” “Do you need water?” He nodded. She got up and went with Eloise to the kitchen and came back with a glass of water. When she got back, Eloise wasn’t with her. “I love you very much, you know,” she said matter-of-factly as she sat down on the
The Great Hot Air Balloon Trauma bed by him. “But I can’t be part of your life. I can’t take care of you like this. I tried. It was exhausting. Sometimes you make me so angry.” He nodded. She leaned forward and kissed his cheek. She went out of the room and Eloise came in. She was carrying something tight to her chest. “I’m glad you’re okay, Daddy,” she said and she put the Valentine’s card next to him on the bed. He looked at it and smiled. Glitter was shedding from the card onto his bedsheets. “Thanks, Ella,” he said. “It’s the most beautiful Valentine’s Day card I’ve ever seen.”
Somewhere in the Desert by Molly Bilker
There are days it doesn’t matter how much you did or the good times you had. It doesn’t matter how much you apologize or how much you loved or what you did to lift up the lost and lonely. It doesn’t matter the bear hugs, the head against chest, your elbows locked into mine. The damage has been done. The elevator ride to my apartment dims, flickers lights around me. I lean against the wall like the way I hold my head spells out A-L-O-N-E and shut my eyes. There are days when it doesn’t matter how hungry you were or how much you ate. It doesn’t matter how you smiled and she smiled too, or the way the feeling of community folded in around you when you were with all of them, and life was good. It doesn’t matter why they cheered when you came in the room or how they admired you—and they do. I am a pit churning inside myself, a single incandescent bulb in a storage cabinet. I am the size of an almond and buried in my diaphragm. I think I loved you in a way wider than my arm span could express, stronger than the clench of my jawbone, and perhaps in a sea too vast for the raft of you. Perhaps there was no sense ever asking you to paddle across. Maybe I loved you more than the superhero of your bones could know. I’m not saying it should have been any different. Or that I expected anything else of you. This afternoon I was like a schoolgirl whose bag ripped out the bottom between classes, scattering pencils and papers and binders and tampons everywhere, so overcome with the shock and loss that there was nothing to do but tremble in the hallway and sob. My key scratches in the door and shivers into the lock. When I sit, the world turns sideways and falls down. Everything looks dim yellow and gray, colored like the face of the dead and dying. I am trying not to think too hard. But there are some days it doesn’t matter how much you think or how much you’ve planned. You could wear sweaters and have marigolds in your hair. You could kiss someone across the table at lunch. You could put on stockings with runs up the back. You could drink tea with sugar cubes and cream. You could be talented and acclaimed and feel the hot glow of success around your shoulders. You could finish writing a new song. But I am still here at the kitchen table. Two bills in my hands. And there are days it doesn’t matter if I try to think I’m okay. I meet you somewhere in the ocean, or somewhere in the desert.
photo by Amanda LaCasse
Editor Bios Michael Bartelt is a senior finishing a bachelor’s degrees in English literature and journalism and mass communication. He has worked as a tutor at the Writing Center on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus for six semesters, and this is his second semester as an editor at Write On, Downtown. His first chapbook of poetry, Poems for the Future President, was published in 2014 by Four Chambers Press. Molly Bilker is a junior journalism major obtaining concurrent bachelor’s and master’s degrees through Barrett, the Honors College. She also minors in English and Spanish for the professions. She is a voracious reader and writer. Her favorite things include but are not limited to: flightless birds, baking, feminism, riding motorcycles, gospel rock, guinea pigs, getting into impassioned-but-respectful debates, chocolate, and playing with language any way she can. Haley Bosselman is a sophomore at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU. With an emphasis in print and minor in film and media studies, she hopes to someday write for a magazine about pop culture and social issues or make documentaries. In her free time, Haley likes to explore the Internet, read, and lay under the sun while listening to music. Zack Bunting is a journalism major at ASU. He would love to have a career in music journalism or just get paid to write things in general. He works at Lawn Gnome Publishing at Fifth and Roosevelt. He likes playing the banjo, buying new socks, and listening to punk music. Personal motto: Don’t Panic. Rosemarie Dombrowski, Ph.D., co-editor-in-chief, is the co-founder of the Phoenix Poetry Series and a poetry editor for the Phoenix-based literary magazine Four Chambers. Her first collection of poetry, The Book of Emergencies, was published by Five Oaks Press in 2014. She can typically be found performing around downtown and/or teaching classes on Lady Gaga, the anti-story, and rebellious poetics. Notably, she never wears flats and prefers to be called “RD.” Kaitlin Kroum is a self-proclaimed coffee enthusiast, lover of naps, and beginning yogi. She is also a sophomore at ASU, majoring in communication. In her free time, Kaitlin enjoys writing, going out to eat, and dancing terribly in public. She aspires to one day have a pet owl. Sophia McGovern is a junior in the creative writing program and a global studies major through Barrett, the Honors College. She hopes to join the Global Health Corps and work for an NGO advocating for women’s rights, while writing. Until then, she will enjoy as much of the simple pleasures of Waffle House hash browns, tea, and Netflix as she can.
Terra Pinckley is a freshman and sports journalism major at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. While sports are her passion, Terra has received at least one write-in vote for Justice of the Peace for the city of Phoenix, and hopes that this exposure will further her political career. David Redkey, currently pursuing concurrent bachelor of arts in English and communication from ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, enjoys being an editor for Write On Downtown and finding spare time to create his own pieces. His concrete poem (accompanied by a recorded reading), “Kemetic Medical Practices,” is forthcoming in the Spring 2015 issue of Canyon Voices, an online literary magazine at ASU’s West campus. He resides in Phoenix with Aggie, his wife; Mikaela, his stepdaughter; and their two cats. Catherine Rezza, co-editor-in-chief, is an instructor of English at the Downtown Phoenix campus who holds an MFA in Fiction from ASU and a BA in political science from Brown. In her spare time, she’s freakishly good at Trivial Pursuit. She aims to misbehave. Tamara Williams-Akins is a freelance technical writer, originally from Washington State and currently residing in Phoenix, Ariz. While technical writing pays the bills, her love is writing creative non-fiction and short fiction, taking her stylistic inspirations from the Modernist and Post-Modernist authors. Tamara is a full-time student at Arizona State University and will finish her bachelor’s degree in English literature in the spring of 2016.
Author Bios Naomi Alcala is currently a freshman and her major is health sciences (pre-professional). She plans to be a psychiatrist after she graduates from medical school. She is interested in paddle boarding and hiking. Her personal motto is to be a beautiful cupcake in a world full of muffins. Drew Andre is a freshman at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. His goal is to be a sports broadcaster for a major professional sports team. He loves to talk to people, spend time with friends, watch sports, and play golf. His personal motto is “Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out.” Stephanie Bailey is an undergraduate nursing student in the College Nursing and Health Innovation at the Downtown Phoenix campus. Karen Belloso is a student worker in the Psychology REACH program and studies social work in the College of Public Service and Community Solutions.
Chloe Brooks is a senior journalism and mass communications major. A blogger and journalist, she often combines her two loves of writing and Phoenix — and if you’ve never spent any time downtown, you absolutely should. She believes one should never go anywhere without a notebook, and is a firm believer in the healing powers of hot coffee and a long walk. Annika Cline is a senior whose about to become a freshman in the real world. She is getting her degree in journalism and mass communication and a certificate in social transformation. She plans to continue her work in public radio and has already accepted that she won’t make much money, but that exceeding levels of happiness will ensue and maybe only a minor mid-life crisis. Josephine Contreras is a freshman and social work major. She plans on getting plenty of experience in several departments of social work, and eventually starting her own practice in counseling. Her passions include helping others, writing, reading, photography and drawing. Her personal motto is, “Un dia a la vez.” In English: “One day at a time.” Carol Demarco’s creative writing professor suggested that if students got an “A” for the course that they should share their writing, but if they got a “B,” they should keep it to themselves. She got a “B,” and it’s taken her over fifty years to get past that insult. In the past year, her history of her hometown lake titled “The Lake of the Shining Arrow,” as well as her short memoir “Chalk Dust,” have both been published. Thus, her advice is to never let go of your love for writing. Jordan DeRego studies criminal justice and criminology in the College of Public Service and Community Solutions. Nicole Genova just switched her major from journalism to film and media studies. Her future plans are to become involved in ASU film programs and hopefully get a film internship in L.A before graduating. She loves to write, loves photography, and being with friends and family. Her personal motto is to maintain a positive mindset, and to work and grow to achieve my goals. Hannah Goodman is a sophomore in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. While she is a journalism student her emphasis is radio and TV production. Her plan is to have a career in radio and hopefully live in England. Kara James is in her second year at Arizona State University. Her major to date is air traffic management. She eventually plans to become an air traffic controller in the civilian world then would like to attend officer training school to be a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force. A Navajo philosophy she chooses to live by refers to walking in beauty and balance, baa shił hózhǫ́ (about it with me there is happiness).
Jonathan Kistner is a junior at ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, majoring in English with a minor in film and media productions at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. He also plans to earn a creative writing certificate through ASU. Currently, Jonathan works as a respite and habilitation care provider. In his free time he enjoys hiking, working out, being with friends, and having a good time. Grace Massey is a sophomore majoring in health education and health promotion. After receiving her degree from ASU, she hopes to continue her education toward becoming a physician’s assistant so that she can touch the lives of others every day. She is passionate about quality health care and interested in the reduction of health disparities in the U.S. Carolina Marquez is a junior finishing her dual bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism and mass communication at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Growing up watching TV shows and movies she should not have watched motivated her to become a filmmaker. She hopes her journalism degree will guarantee a life of travel and adventures. She believes that the only thing that can hold her back is herself. Janay Moffatt studies exercise and wellness in the School of Health Solutions. Danielle Quijada is currently studying journalism as a sophomore in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She just returned from studying for spring semester in London and hopes to further her travels and passion for writing and photography by becoming an international journalist who tells the untold stories of those from each of the far corners of the world. Renard Roberts grew up in Gilbert, Ariz., a city that’s predominately white, but it’s always been important for him to be a part of the black community because that’s where he feels free to be himself. He does this by supporting the black organizations at Arizona State University, working as an intern at the Arizona Informant, a black newspaper, and by going to a black barbershop, Ageez, every other Saturday. Jenilee Rollefstad is a student of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and studies graphic information technology. Aaron Seiple is a student of the College of Letters and Sciences and studies history at the Polytechnic and Downtown Phoenix campuses. Andre Simms is an 18-year-old freshman majoring in journalism. He’d love to be a reporter who travels the world to write about and work with nonprofits in countries hit by natural disasters. He loves seeing the world and is deeply inspired by its stories and people. His personal philosophy is also the subject of his essay – “Piti Piti Na’rive,” which means “Little By Little We Arrive.”
Joel Smalley spent years as an exploratory senior before the university bureaucracy arranged his betrothal to an applied biological sciences major. He intends to continue climbing on and falling off of the wagon of writing while studying biology of the cerebellum in search of a cure for maintaining balance while riding in wagons. He enjoys reading, writing, hiking, swimming, gardening, and taking away rebounds from taller players in basketball. Louisa Stanwich is a freshman majoring in journalism and mass communication at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She is interested in storytelling through creative outlets such as advertising, digital media, and videography. She hopes to one day work for a big entertainment company such as Disney, or NBC and help that company tell their story through the media content they release. To many, this dream sounds nonsensical; however, she strongly believes in taking the path less traveled. Cassidy Trowbridge studies in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Carl Welsh spent six years in college obtaining a nursing degree, which he received in 1979. His future plans including anything but nursing. He claims to have buried his passions years ago; thus, his personal motto is “dig.” Alex Wilson is in an aloof state of education, not knowing exactly how far along in the collegial process he is. According to “The Man,” he’s a journalism major along with the addition of several English classes. He hopes to one day be a full time writer and, if not that, just a regular alcoholic. His interests include feeling conflicted about his life choices and looking at strangers until they feel uncomfortable.
A Journal of Student Writing at the ASU Downtown Phoenix Campus