Write On, Downtown
A Journal of Student Writing at the ASU Downtown Phoenix Campus
April 2014 Editors-in-Chief
Rosemarie Dombrowski Catherine Rezza
Kailin Biggerstaff Amber Collins Vanessa Ray Gibson Mitch Hacker Cailey Hale Michael Hardin Jr. Emilee Howard Chad Ligaya Haley Madden Marley Molitor Erin Mondt Shelby Moore Brett Nachman Marilyn Napier Leah Newsom Julie Ruminski Adam Waltz Mara Zegarac
Deanna Johnson Mullican
Visit our companion journal at writeon.asu.edu.
Cover Photograph Amanda LaCasse
Contributing Artists Caitlin Carter Cierra Eubank Amanda LaCasse Cydney McFarland Marley Molitor Erin Mondt Shelby Moore Marilyn Napier Brandy Reinke Mara Zegarac
What the Day Holds: An Introduction It’s not difficult for us to explain why we do what we do, why we gravitate toward the purposeful, the creative, the beautiful manipulations of language. Write On, Downtown is a journal of student writing, born out of the critical eye and creative efforts of a team of student editors whose passion for the written word (and the photographic image) runs deep. We have always been a diverse community of creators, and the differences we celebrate in ourselves are oftentimes the differences we celebrate in the pieces we select for inclusion. For some of us, the creative impulse strikes early. For some of us, there’s no greater attraction than to work that engages the fresh perspective of a new day. Why do we bother with the rest of the day,/the swale of the afternoon,/the sudden dip into evening,/then night with his notorious perfumes,/his many-pointed stars? This is the best — — from “Morning” by Billy Collins For others, there’s something regenerative about the afternoon, possibly in what the midday symbolizes, how it alerts us to the passage of time, forces us to focus on the daylight hours that remain. This afternoon a thunderstorm crossed the/valley … Ten minutes later I was dry … Suddenly the meaning of baptism/is clear to me: you can begin again … — from “In the heat of late afternoon” by Gary Young At some point, every writer has the impulse to meditate on endings, the possibility of an ending engendering something new. Every writer has contemplated the meaning of finality as well as infinity. And we’ve experienced the fear as often as we’ve seen the beauty. Above us, stars. Beneath us, constellations/Five billion miles away, a galaxy dies/like a snowflake falling on water. — “Flying at Night” by Ted Kooser As Whitman might say, this journal contains multitudes. In totality, it represents a day in the life of a writer, a photographer, an editor – a collective of visionaries who understand that beauty can be found anytime or anywhere. … the day erased, the lesson/done … emerging, silent, gazing, pondering … Night, sleep, death and the stars. — “A Clear Midnight” by Walt Whitman
Acknowledgments The editors of Write On, Downtown would like to express our gratitude to Deanna Johnson Mullican, graphic designer for the School of Letters and Sciences, for her continued partnership with the editorial team as well as her dedication to the production and publication of the journal. Without her input and skills, the print version of the journal would never go to print. We would also like to extend our sincerest gratitude to Mary Ehret for her continued, ardent support of our celebratory launch luncheon and the project in general. Gratitude must also be extended to the following parties: To Barbara Lafford, faculty head of Languages and Cultures, for her ongoing support of our endeavors. To Chad Ligiya and Amber Collins for the designing/building of our e-zine and the entire WOD website. This is Chad’s second year on the project, and his hours of dedication and code-writing (something that none of us artsy types can even begin to understand) have been invaluable to the journal’s expansion into the digital medium. To our editors who doubled as photographers — Marley Molitor, Erin Mondt, Shelby Moore, Marilyn Napier, and Mara Zegarac — and contributed many of the stunning visuals that make up this year’s journal. Your work has literally made everything more beautiful. To our entire editorial staff, 18 students strong, who comprised an amazingly diverse, talented, driven, and committed group that steered this issue from its inception (i.e. a handful of initial selections) through grueling hours/weeks of layout and copy editing. You are our motivators, our mediators, our visionaries, and the reason why this journal is thriving today. Finally, to all of the student writers and photographers who submitted their work to WOD 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
photo by Cydney McFarland
Contents Dawn Bees Pulling the Lilac
Be Nobody’s Darling
It All Begins With a Single Saucer
Artificial Nectar: The Story of ‘Tantalus’
by Shelby Moore by Adam Waltz
by Rayan Mohammed by Shelby Moore
by Haley Madden
by Cherilyn Schutt by Shelby Moore
Morning Beautiful Flowing Problems: The “Water is Life” Mural
Miracles at the Vistula Lagoon
by Carissa A. Cunningham by Alex Pearl
by Monika George
Noon Acting Out Optimism
Afghan-Pakistani Girls and the Right to an Education
by Brittany O’Connor by Erika Alcantara by Shelby Moore
I Believe in Guitars
An International Community of Friendship: The Humphrey Fellows
Let Us Join Together in the Banning of Pit Bulls, Men, and Irish Americans
The Power of Competition: If You Ain’t First, You’re Last
by Desiree Pharias by Madison Alder by Hailey Felts
by Cherilyn Schutt by Matt Faye
Dusk Shattered Reflections
High School Dance
I Believe in Small Towns
The Blue Room
The Mural as Art in Downtown Phoenix
by Vanessa Gibson by Haley Madden by Rachel Rime by Angie Millar
by Haley Madden
by Rayan Mohammed by Shelby Moore
by Alex Stevenson
The Rocky Horror Culture Show
Pitching: An Art Form All Its Own
Underground Death Metal
About the Editorial Staff
About the Cover Artist
by Mara Zegarac by Angie Millar
by Kaitlin Kroum
by Michael Bartelt
by Nicholas Wicksman by Quijan Coleman by Cherilyn Schutt
by Vanessa Gibson
by Rayan Mohammed by Alex Pearl
photo by Shelby Moore
Bees Pulling the Lilac by Shelby Moore
The purity of the apple blossoms is incredible, shadows as long as they are northern and every-vine-stock is like the crack-up of books. Ralph flew to Bristol to see her; the curl of her blond hair, “You don’t mind if they sit next to me on street cars,” their arms nudge, and moved gently west. But then, if you put a cigarette out in it, they brush shoulders. “I don’t mind if they sit next to me on street cars.” “I am happier than you are …” Her breath comes and goes under the green gas lamps, exactly numerous. They lost their way in the holy wood, walking waist deep in the fog coming in from the ocean. Most people remember their gardens with cement flowers, solidified swimming pools or lilies of gold, cream, rose — strong ankled, sun burned, almost naked. So, they found an audience ready, smoking the right cigarette and waiting for evening’s grace. “Your husband’s shirt to wash, please.” Laundry of that lovely absurd summer. and on and on, like a hat being taken by the winds.
photo by Mara Zegarac
The Checkup by Adam Waltz
They say one of the first things you notice about somebody is their smile. I waited against my will When she came out and called me by name. Fate. She was different. She was Nervous. It wasn’t her timid body hiding behind a clipboard that caught my eye, A body that looked so promising, but never panned out to the pictures in the beauty magazines that still collect dust under her childhood bed. It wasn’t her pre-pubescent eyes that sulked in boredom when she was away from her cats and that one pet lizard that just won’t die. That wasn’t it. It was her smile — Bright With a metallic hue that would make train-tracks jealous. She took me back to her room, Sat me in her chair, Brought my feet up, Pulled out the tools, And put on the rubber gloves. Kinky.
The Checkup She was in control, Pressing her body up against my elbow, Turning my head, Breathing heavily because her allergies were acting up. Gorgeous. Her titanium-tinted complexion Shined a powerful light on my second incisor. She asked me how I was doing, And with her finger in my mouth — That’s right — I said the most romantic thing I could think of, “Arrr uhhhgg.” Sexy. It must’ve worked Because she spent extra time on the rinse and suction. Tasted like mint. Minty. It’s the kind of love that Has your jaw in pain, The kind that will take 6 months for me to come back for more. She said next time we will Take pictures. If only my mom knew what the insurance was paying for.
Blue Arrows by Rayan Mohammed
1. The outside water fountain is a lonely place moments after the rush of sneakers have filed into their respective boxes after recess. The air conditioning welcomes his stink and ripped navies and folds her cold hands around his salt-wet face as if cradling a two-sided prayer. 2. When the arms of the arsonist refused to stretch any further, he bent them into the arch of a bow and lit his words between his teeth and his tongue; blue arrows to burn down what his arms could not reach. 3. Find him on the corner of tomorrow and last weekâ€™s spaghetti, right outside the window where he grew into a field of grass once. Next to the fishermanâ€™s wooden boat of splinters, he splinted all that grew skyward to his limbs. 4. She exhausted the angels with how much she spoke. Counting on her feather-like fingers all the things she wanted to learn that they both knew she never would. But, he didnâ€™t have the heart to plug the hole in her face from where the stardust floated out and let the rambling go on
photo by Shelby Moore
(a parody of Gertrude Stein’s ‘Dinner’ and ‘Eating’ within Tender Buttons) by Shelby Moore
Contained and flawless threads — silk short and forgotten rhythm, billowing billowing billowing and almost permanent. Candle. They’ll amount amount from surmounting reds and less sir crimsons. They’re promised, future oils. With out jawlines. They’ll place. The intentioned animal is rite with taut waves. Settling paper yes will there be more to surmount go more-so to shift? More-so to move or more to place? Leave it know. They’ll place, these buttery reds. Not they’ll place to flesh rise and rise as cavernous skin does. We’ll where them. We’ll eye them and where them again. Nature repeats, they’re promised. Knees and elbows. They’ll place surely place, surely place, place surely they will place and fold back as they will fold to. To and to and to.
Be Nobody’s Darling by Haley Madden
His wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing. It is we, sinful women, who are not awed by the grandeur of those who wear gowns who didn’t sell our lives who don’t bow our heads who fold our hands together. The women at the parents’ meeting must wear rings for continuity, whimpering skirts in a tugged wind, like a man’s hand. All your face is clouded, like a child that sobs within, seeing a pattern or merely an appearance you still don’t have a face. Do not let you(r) head deny your hand. Do not pretend to convenient beliefs even when they are righteous. Do not be missed by details simply because you live them. Now, even if the night gives chase, these eyes shall not be put out. It first begins today: be nobody’s darling. Be an outcast. 21
photo by Shelby Moore
It All Begins With a Single Saucer by Cherilyn Schutt
A footstep pressed in snow, its hollow holds cup and spoon. Brown sugar and almond biscotti tucked into its crevasse, earl grey in a demitasse à gauche — la Cathédrale Notre-Dame, in hand — a baguette of ham and cheese, am brot — said in Grandmother’s German tongue. These cold cuts: liverwurst spread over black bread and pickled herrings fished out of tiny glass jars. A single saucer, home for the dripping spoon, the teacups enameled with drooping roses, but only until the Sunday table cloth is ironed and bleached in the white hot sun. Like water slipping through my fingers so many cups shattered by the marble floor, all those delicates pieces unwilling to stick together, some days nothing can be fixed by a tiny tube of glue.
The Story of ‘Tantalus’ by Shelby Moore
Boxes, it should have been juice boxes … more than their fair share from the snack table. Red, sweet-nectar high-theft. The turned backs of Goddess beehives and twill pencil skirts. Clearly they won’t miss the Cherry Crush nectar they protect. Only able to grab one before the teachers take survey, his fellow men rat him out for a less than bountiful steal. “Sit in the time-out box!” It should have been foursquare boxes, four friends contained by chalk and a red, rubber ball.
photo by Shelby Moore
Beautiful Flowing Problems:
An Interpretation of the “Water is Life” Mural by Carissa A. Cunningham
Downtown Phoenix reflects the many cultural backgrounds of its residents. One of its most unique cultural attractions is its murals. “Water is Life” by Jeff Slim (the head artist), a Native American artist from Arizona, and other various local Phoenix artists, addresses the problems surrounding water rights, coal, and the Navajo nation, while simultaneously expressing the beauty of Arizona’s rich cultural roots. The mural was created as a part of a project called “Water Writes.” The Estria Foundation funds the creation of murals that reflect the water rights issues of their respective locations in order to raise awareness among residents as well as all who visit the area. The murals demonstrate the culture and skills of the local artists who create them. “Water is Life” encourages residents to work towards sustainable energy by creating a duality between what is being done correctly and incorrectly with water in Arizona. The mural that dresses the south-facing wall of the Valley Youth Theatre at Fillmore and First Street depicts an elegant, nude Native American woman who is pregnant with twins. She sits cross-legged with her eyes closed; a halo crowns her raven locks. A peaceful look graces her face; she dominates the positive space in the center of the mural. Behind her, the mountains of Arizona stand tall and proud, adding to the serenity of the piece, and beautiful white clouds float through a flawless, blue sky. Mother Earth is represented by the Native American woman sitting in the middle of the mural. The twins in her womb represent the duality of good and evil, a common theme in Navajo culture. The mountains and clouds symbolize the unique beauty of the Arizonan landscape. In particular, the mountains hold significance because of their size. Human beings find themselves in a particular sense of awe when confronted with colossal things. Despite the feeling that standing before large scenes such as the ocean or the mountains induces fear and, in some cases, a feeling of insignificance, they also can cause an atmosphere of serenity and peace. Remembering one’s place in the universe reminds humanity that they are, in fact, significant. Humans remain an integral part of nature. To the left of the Native American woman there is a coal factory pumping out clouds of black smoke. The black clouds form into a skull that adds a threatening vibe to the left side of the mural. A giant water hose twists away from the factory, pumping water into the desert scene. Deep fissures and canyons run along the ground. This part of the mural demonstrates the suffering of the land because of coal mining. Blackness is dripping into 29
Beautiful Flowing Problems an aquifer, and the clouds surrounding the factories are morphing into poisonous fumes. The coal plants on the reservations create huge health and safety issues for the inhabitants. The mural demonstrates that Native Americans on the reservations feel worried about the effects of coal on the land and on their children. Overall, this part of the mural is darker in tone and in color, furthering the urgency of the issue at hand. This part of the painting is quite simple to understand because its symbols are not far off from the actual problem. Coal factories in the Navajo Nation provide a large amount of energy to the people of Arizona and a huge amount of revenue to the Navajo Nation (Curley, 2013). However, just as the mural depicts, coal mining has disastrous effects on both air and water quality. Furthermore, coal is an exhaustible resource, and “the tribal government has failed to invest coal revenues into other forms of industry” (Curley, 2013). Concern about the already struggling Navajo Nation economy is reflected in the deep fissures and canyons in the work. The Navajo Nation’s leaders and advocates fear that once the coal is exhausted, the economy will take a terrible turn for the worse (Curley, 2013). On the other hand, to the right of the woman lies a much more hopeful scene. Solar panels and wind turbines peacefully gather energy, while sheep graze nearby. On the far right, a jovial-looking water mask gushes out water. Along the bottom of the painting there are native Arizonan cacti and plants, such as corn and pumpkins. Mother Earth gestures towards this part of the painting with an open hand. This symbolizes Mother Earth’s hope for the future. According to Jeff Slim, “we’re trying to portray how the water is used and how it is being misused” (Wang, 2013). The solar panels, wind turbines, and grazing sheep represent what Arizona is doing right with regards to water rights. Sustainable resources are the hope for the future, according to the artists. The jovial water mask represents water coming from the natural environment instead of being pumped in from the Colorado river — as depicted on the left side of the painting. The native plants at the bottom of the painting create a, “a general direction toward hopefulness” (Curley, 2013). Unlike Navajo beliefs in duality, the beautiful plants at the bottom of the painting make it significantly more hopeful. Instead of a hopeless image of a war between good and evil, the mural has elements of hope throughout. The imagery described above holds deep cultural significance. The artist demonstrates ethos by showing his audience his deep understanding and appreciation for the culture of Arizona. The reason that the artists chose a Native American woman to represent Mother Earth is that critical decisions are being made about coal and water on the Navajo reservations. Doing so shows that the artist holds a deep cultural and political understanding of the issues regarding water rights in Arizona. The artist also uses pathos by representing the earth as a motherly figure. By using “Mother Earth,” the mural begs the audience to realize their deep connection to the earth; just as a mother cares for her child, the earth gives humanity what it needs to survive. Jeff Slim hopes to trigger love and care towards the earth by presenting her as a mother figure. Slim also uses logos on the left side by representing the political issues of coal without the heavy use of symbolism. Instead of using emotionally charged symbols, Slim uses fairly accurate depictions of the subject. In this way Slim presents himself as a logical individual with a large amount of knowledge on the subject. 30
Beautiful Flowing Problems In addition to the implications of the symbols, the location of the mural also holds significance with regards to the meaning of the painting. The mural is located on a children’s theater. This mural will be seen by children for years to come. Children will ask their parents and their teachers about the mural, and will learn about the issues of the future. Putting the mural in the view of children makes a statement about what is important with regards to solving the problems presented in the piece. Much like the twins in the Native American woman’s womb, our children will decide what is right and wrong with regards to these issues, and will lead us into the future. Jeff Slim is the head artist among a team of artists in collaboration with the Estria Foundation, Black Mesa Water Coalition, Water Is Life, Downtown Phoenix Partnership, and local artists. He has lived and worked in Arizona all his life. He is Native American, and as such is knowledgeable about the issues in this work. Jeff Slim says that his artwork is “a continuous exploration of ways to communicate and connect with my surroundings” (2009). He seeks to use his experiences to speak about modern issues in society. In this way, he exhibits ethos. Overall, “Water is Life” shows a deep understanding of the issues surrounding water and coal in Arizona. Jeff Slim effectively shows his own connection to the work as well as his knowledge about the subject. He demonstrates this through his superior use of imagery, symbolism, and cultural awareness. The artist captures the modern worries about energy use and its impact on air and water quality for Native Americans and Non-native Americans alike. In addition to its use as an educational tool for the community, the mural beautifies the area that it occupies. The rich, vibrant colors instantly attract the eye and cause a pleasurable visual sensation. This mural undoubtedly adds beauty and knowledge to the Downtown community.
References Curley, A. (2013, May 11). Water and energy: Mural, NGS lease extension, and ASU forum. [Blog post] Retrieved from Navajo Sociology: http://navajosociology.blogspot.com/2013/05/water-andenergy-mural-ngs-lease.html Slim, J. (n.d.) Bio/Resume. Retrieved from http://theallelectrickitchen.tumblr.com/Bio/Resume Wang, A. (2013, May 10). ‘Water Writes’ mural in Phoenix part of global initiative. AZCentral Retrieved from http://www.azcentral.com/community/phoenix/articles/
photo by Cydney McFarland
Inspiration by Alex Pearl
The month is November, and the woods look like they only can in the early morning, just after dawn while the earth has yet to warm after the sun’s arrival. Sunlight is present, but it still seems as if the world is adjusting its eyes from the darkness of night — the light, unhindered by the leafless trees, filters in weak but crisp. The crunch of branches and pine needles can be heard as two men, their breath wreathing about them in the cold, stumble through the bracken-covered soil, talking among one another. From their unkempt appearances, their intense but erratic banter, and the way they glance about at their surroundings, trying to imagine a story behind each tree and shrub, a well-versed observer may surmise that the two are writers — a supposition confirmed by the nature of their conversation. Specifically, the two men are talking about fear. The slow waking of the forest is hastened by their trek, and their discourse concerning man’s most primal emotion acts further to spur its arrival from restful silence. The two discuss the difficulty of evoking fear in an age where “just about every angle’s been exploited, or for that matter driven into the muck and beaten to death” and bemoan their inability to conjure something “so simple, and yet so sinfully mass-produced” with the innovation and inspiration of a true artist. They wonder aloud to each other if there are any unused methods of provoking the human mind, if anything that they or any other author could write could be truly revolutionary or extraordinary to the refined literary palate. “The films, of course, have been trying this for a good long while,” one says to the other. “Yes, and failing. How many times does Joe Hacksaw have to be miraculously raised from the dead before contemporary audiences realize that creativity has been replaced by a ravenous bid for ticket sales?” the other replies. “And it’s not like novelizations are paid any heed nowadays, even if they could keep a proper pace for legitimate horror to be properly administered,” the first responds, ignoring the cynicism of overgeneralization and eager at the chance to lambast as many peers as possible. As is the way with intellectual conversations, one man quickly identifies the side of the argument he thinks he can attack the easiest and begins to do so, the other taking a defensive position and neither fully understanding why they find the topic worth attacking or defending. The subject returns more than once to the advent of originality in horror and the importance of novelty to inspire true terror in an audience. 34
Inspiration They walk on, the woods becoming as thick behind them as it was before them — the two have been travelling since dawn. The world is still dim around them when the weight of the knife in the first author’s jacket begins to become noticeable. He reaches within his coat and adjusts it so that it sits at a more manageable angle, and resumes his argument. It wouldn’t be long now. When the conversation turns to Poe versus King, the first author decides that they are now far enough within the woods. He would attack his companion before the other could respond, embracing the darkest corners of the human soul and witnessing the primal fear of a human being about to perish, and flay him alive to fully grasp the true foundations of horror and finally vanquish his overpowering writer’s block. He turns to his contemporary, draws his gleaming blade … and stops. The second writer is also holding a long-bladed knife, formerly concealed within the folds of his jacket. Great minds think alike, they both think to themselves before they lunge. To each man’s chagrin, their respective attempts at a swift and dramatic murder is met with a struggle, and both knives are knocked away. The two remain locked, grasping and struggling to retain the upper hand, one writer trying to fasten his fingers around the other’s throat and the other reaching to gouge out his adversary’s eyes. One suffers a blow to the head and falls to the ground, taking the other man with him. They continue clumsily scrabbling at each other for some time, and while they scuffle, the sun rises and the forest fully blooms into morning. The fight stops. The fight stops, not because either of the writers is dead, but because both of them have been struck with a particular realization: The whole thing’s gone to pot. What horror story ever told involved an evenly-matched fight between two grown men in broad daylight? This anticlimax wouldn’t do. There was no fear in this. It wouldn’t do at all. The writers stand up, brush themselves off, retrieve their knives (both having been taken from an expensive kitchen set, and too valuable to leave behind), and together head silently back towards civilization, awkwardly mumbling a vow to never speak of that November morning again so long as they lived.
photo by Amanda LaCasse
Miracles at the Vistula Lagoon by Monika George
Precipitated personalities in avant-garde moods, wax and wane, wane and wax like the moon. Precipitation falls, the earth revolved around the mood, the moon, the room. Broke; looking upon things baroque. Nuance the expressive depth, centuries composing expressive death. Erosion navigating suspicious plane crashes to the ruled, the cruel. Oppressive oppositions persisted.
photo by Marilyn Napier
Acting Out Optimism by Brittany O’Connor
Remember the material, speak clearly, and make them laugh. As a seasoned comedian, you’re focused on these three things as you exit the greenroom and emerge onstage to a fired up crowd. You thank the previous comic and ask how everyone is doing. After a mediocre response, you shout into the microphone, “That’s all you’ve got?” and wait until they are bursting with applause — a much more satisfactory response. Immediately, you can tell what the atmosphere in the room is like. There have been a few warm up acts beforehand, drinks all around and laughter at the smallest jokes; it’s clear that it will be a good night. The routine is started, the jokes spill out one after the other, and the laughs keep coming. When your 15 minutes are up, you give a final enthusiastic, “Thank you!” to the crowd. Immediately you get blown back by the amount of applause you receive. Nothing will ever beat this, you think, and you head off-stage, taking notice of the people giving you a standing ovation. Being a professional comedian is not easy, but those moments in the limelight certainly make it worthwhile. The criteria for being a comedian have changed over the thousands of years the profession has been around. The origins of comedy can be traced back to ancient Greek plays, which were designed to poke fun at philosophers, fellow artisans, and politicians (Cartwright, 2013). In the Middle Ages, comedians were known as jesters or jongleurs and were assigned to high courts to entertain royalty through singing, dancing, and general tomfoolery. Comedy, as it is known today, began to take off with vaudeville stars in the early 1900s, transitioning into silent film actors, such as Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. “Talkies,” or movies with sound, such as It Happened One Night and Duck Soup, helped pave the way for a new era with comics becoming as big of stars as leading men such as Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant. Today, comics are a distinct part of the entertainment culture and can be found anywhere from movies, TV shows, books, and on the radio. Getting into comedy only takes a few key things, but some may be harder to grasp than others. First, along with any other career choice, there must be a reason for wanting to get into the culture. The motivation can be as simple as, “I want to make people laugh,” to more along the lines of, “I want to be a celebrity.” Travis Thurman, local comedian for over 20 years, stated, “I just wanted to be in the limelight and be famous, have lots of girls chasing after me, and stuff like that” (Personal Interview, November 11, 2013). If there is no passion before getting on the stage, then the jokes will fall flat and the career will be over before it began. It is also essential for a comedian to have humorous and relatable enough material that warrants time on stage. Stepping up to the microphone is no easy task to begin with, 43
Acting Out Optimism and if a neophyte has nothing to back himself or herself with, then he or she is simply going to have a bad time. After coming up with a few good jokes, a comedian then needs to be able to take the criticism and judgment of the audience. Once all of this is accomplished, the only thing left to worry about is the everyday heckler and drunk (who, coincidently, are often one and the same). Taking the plunge into this subculture of the entertainment industry is not often easy, but, if well prepared, success is bound to happen. On special nights you can often find Travis at Stand Up Live in downtown Phoenix, taking the stage to some loud song that sends the audience back to their teen years. As they enjoy the blast from the past, Travis launches into joke after joke about his childhood, including one about growing up at 83rd Avenue and Indian School Road. Instantly, you can hear the sighs of the audience, as they know the reputation of the area. “Growing up we called it the west side, but what is it now?” he asks the audience. “West siiiiiiiiiide!” they all respond in unison. From there on, it’s jokes about Halloween, vacations, and the family — all relatable topics for the audience. Everyone is watching as he moves back and forth across the stage, making sure to grab the attention of everyone in the room. His antics are high as he tells his stories, with an excess of hand gestures and accents to add more flair to his routine. With some final show tunes that everyone sings along to, Travis introduces the headliner of the night and takes a bow, ducking behind the curtain to the greenroom. Once the show is over, it’s drinks, handshakes, even a photo op or two, and then time to head home. For every comedian, the most important quality to possess would be the ability to craft a joke. Keeping the routine fresh and relevant is essential to being able to maintain an audience, and there are many ways comedians go about this, whether it’s by taking classes or looking up interesting subjects online. Other comics, such as the writers of the TV show South Park, wait until the very end of their deadline to stay as topical as possible by basing their jokes on the week’s headlines. Travis, on the other hand, comes up with jokes by writing about his personal experiences. “If there’s something that you find funny, whether you’re at work, on vacation, or even just sitting on the toilet reading a magazine, if something … grabs your attention, that’s what you share with the audience” (Personal Interview. November 11, 2013). By having material that is easily relatable and not too outrageous, comedians are able to reach a deeper connection with their audience and ensure bigger laughs. There are many challenges that go along with being a comedian. In the very beginning, it’s all about realizing that this type of work is something you want to do, and that may take time. “I tried doing drama, tried doing theatre, and in theatre you really have to commit to yourself and be there 100 percent” (Personal Interview. November 11, 2013). It wasn’t until auditioning for the improvisation group Magically Unfolding and Spontaneous Entertainment, or M.U.S.E, that Travis realized “… how much fun it was to come up with your own type of improv, your own punch lines” (Personal Interview. November 11, 2013). Just like any other job or hobby, it takes time to discover where you fit in. Once a comedian has taken the plunge, it’s all about the jokes, handling the criticism and easing the nerves. You must “earn your stripes” in a sense by going to open mics — where anyone from the audience can be the entertainers — enough times to warrant a slot at an actual club. But as Travis found, “It does get easier, especially stage presence. You know your timing; you 44
Acting Out Optimism know how to do your speaking on stage, your tone of voice, not to rush through it. You know in your head, you can set up a time frame of jokes that fit in the 10 – 20 minutes that they allow you to do” (Personal Interview. November 11, 2013). While entering the culture may be rough, just like with any occupation or hobby, it gets easier with more practice and experience. Along with the initial challenges, there are plenty of rewards. Travis found that after the show is the best part of being a comedian. Once a show is over, this is where the night’s performers get to “… meet people, find out if they liked you, they shake your hand, find you on Facebook” (Personal Interview. November 11, 2013). The notoriety that local comedians can have is immense, as they tend to have a better fan base locally. After a couple of shows, Travis would have “… people coming up to me afterwards and saying, ‘Hey, we really enjoyed your show … where can we see you again?’” Once there are people asking after you, you’ve made it, at least on a local scale. This is when bigger gigs are offered, such as in Travis’s case, opening for Joe Rogan, Louie Anderson, and Brad Garrett. Even more recently, Travis found himself headlining at The Tempe Improv, one of the biggest honors local comedians can receive. Though it may take some time to get to that level of popularity, the rewards certainly outweigh the time spent. Plenty of kids have thought, “I’m hilarious, I’m going to be a comedian when I grow up.” Later on it’s dads with their “Dad, I’m hungry,” “Hi Hungry, I’m Dad.” jokes who think they are on the same level as Jerry Seinfeld. In reality, there are only so many people who have what it takes to do just that. Those who have made their way through the comedy facet of entertainment culture will say that it’s not easy to get started, but once in, everything starts to fall into place. The jokes become easier, the laughs become greater, and the rewards pay off for the difficulties faced early on. The perks of the culture are also enjoyable, such as being able to meet and hang out with famous comedians, or more simply, free drinks. But most importantly, as Travis has found, “There’s nothing more fun than being able to make an audience laugh” (Personal Interview. November 11, 2013).
References Cartwright, M. (March 25, 2013). Greek comedy. In Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from http://www.ancient.eu.com/Greek_Comedy/ Otto, B.K. (2001). Fools are everywhere. In Fooling Around the World: The History of the Jester (Chapters 1 and 7). Retrieved from http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/640914.html Thurman, T. Personal interview. 11 Nov. 2013.
photo by Shelby Moore
Afghan-Pakistani Girls and the Right to an Education by Erika Alcantara
In 2011, a young Pakistani teen, 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai said, “Even if they come to kill me, I will tell them that what they are trying to do is wrong. That education is a basic right … They cannot stop me” (Seyah, 2012). For the past several years, Yousafzai’s voice has become one of many other women’s voices in the Middle East who are defending their rights to education despite a long history of danger and suppression. While their fight has taken the international stage, many have come to wonder how this social injustice started, particularly in Afghanistan, current holder of one of the lowest rates of literate women, and its neighboring country Pakistan (Article 26). The primary contributors to the suppression of these girls’ rights include the Taliban’s oppressive, strict rule during the late 20th to early 21st century, the dangerous combat zones where girls attend school, and the traditional views constraining these young women in what they can become and do.
History of the Taliban Their Rise In the 1980s, the Taliban formed in response to the Soviet Invasion in Afghanistan. The group featured mujahideens, Islamic followers who deem themselves “holy warriors” (“Mujahideen,” 2013), tribesmen from Pakistan, and aid from Pakistani Intelligence (Bajoria, 2011, par. 2). This resulted in the Afghan War — waged for 13 years until the Soviets were driven out of Afghanistan, yet the Taliban remained politically active (“Mujahideen,” 2013). The union between the Taliban and Pakistan remained close until Pakistan’s government severed ties after 9/11. Then the militant group began to gain more traction and power throughout Afghanistan and the rural regions of northern Pakistan (Bajoria, 2011). Afghanistan Falls and Rebuilds After the Afghan War, the Taliban focused on a new agenda: taking over Afghanistan. Afghanistan was growing weaker and divided between the North and South (Bajoria, 2011, par. 2). The country’s weakness, featuring “chronic poverty, unemployment, and corruption” (Bajoria, 2011, par. 17) allowed the Taliban to gradually gain more power 49
Afghan-Pakistani Girls and the Right to an Education throughout several rural areas and neighboring regions. Eventually, by the fall of 1996, the capital city, Kabul, was captured when the militants toppled the country’s government and began their reign of terror (Bajoria, 2011, par. 2). However, in 2001, the Taliban fell from power during the American campaign immediately following the events of September 11, which drove the militants to the outskirts of Afghan’s border. According to the U.S. State Department, the United States and Afghanistan have remained committed to creating needed groundwork via hospitals and schools to provide basic rights for Afghan civilians (Kissane, 2012, par. 5).
Cause — Taliban’s Ruling Education for Women and Girls Banned During the Taliban’s rule from 1996-2001, the militant group banned many Afghans’ rights and publicly killed any who defied their beliefs (Bajoria, 2011, par. 2). One of the main rights banned was that of girls’ and women’s right to an education; they were no longer allowed access to schools, colleges, and other academic institutions (Bajoria, 2011, par. 3). Such laws created a sharp decline in female enrollment where, according to UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, “fewer than a million Afghan children attended school,” (Torgan, 2012, par. 8). Furthermore, the Taliban utilized their power as a method of silencing any who defied their laws, including teachers who provided underground education and girls who secretly attended school. Shabana Basij-Rasikh was one of these hundreds of Afghan girls who attended underground schooling during the Taliban’s reign. “We all knew we were risking our lives — the teachers, the students, and our parents … we always wondered what they [Taliban] knew about us” (Basij-Rasikh, 2013). Taliban’s Perspective Toward Girls and Women The Taliban also governed and created a society that maintained narrow-minded, conservative views toward girls and women. Several rules explicitly required women and girls to be fully covered in veils from “head-to-toe” (Bajoria, 2011, par. 3) and restricted them from political positions (Kissane, 2012, par. 10). Furthermore, women could only leave their households with a “mahram,” a male relative [although some families secretly hired mahrams to create loopholes around the Taliban’s policies] (“Afghan Women,” 2012, pg. 8, par. 3). Such regulations strengthened the Taliban as a dominant force, placing women’s roles in society as inferior to men for long periods of time.
Taliban Rule Messages to the Afghan Public The Taliban have spread propaganda all throughout Afghanistan with messages of fear, radicalism, and dominance. Such propaganda have included statements that foreign troops, particularly Americans, and even Afghanistan’s current government are the true enemies of civilians’ security; where up to 42 percent of Afghans agreed in a 2011 regional polling (Bajoria, 2011, par. 17). Additionally, with the rise of the internet, the Taliban has integrated social media to their advantage, including using Twitter, uploading videos and 50
Afghan-Pakistani Girls and the Right to an Education various information, streaming radio content called “Voice of Jihad,” and even texting (“All Change,” 2011, par. 12). One former Afghan diplomat and current analyst, Ahmad Sayedi, stated that, “These young guys are … radicals of the computer … and the internet era” (“All Change,” 2011, par. 11). Such tactical, constant indoctrination has perpetrated the country’s regression, especially for young women’s rights to education and reform. Taliban’s Selected Control The Taliban have largely targeted rural civilians in Southern Afghanistan and Northern Pakistan, where the Pashtuns, the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan, live (“Pashtun,” 2013). Such demographics were sought after to easily influence locals and recruit young men who have had experiences with poverty and a lack of education and political infrastructure since the Afghan War (“All Change,” 2011, par. 8).
Effect — Taliban’s Lasting, Psychological Influence Their Influence Today Since the Taliban fell from power in 2001, the group has remained resilient in defeat. The extremists have not only continued propagandizing their construed beliefs and objectification of women, but have also gained followers and sympathizers, particularly highly impressionable, uneducated young men from the rural outskirts of Afghanistan and Pakistan (Robertson, 2013, par. 5). In the last decade, such individuals have targeted series of attacks upon female students, instructors, and schools: November 2002 in the British newspaper The Guardian, authorities there have been investigating a series of attacks by suspected Taleban sympathisers against girls’ schools in the province of Wardak, near Kabul … attackers left behind an unexploded grenade and several leaflets warning parents to keep their girls at home. (“Article 26,” n.d., par. 20, 22) The Taliban’s strong, psychological influence over young recruiters and allies has remained a potent obstacle to these young women’s safety and pursuit of their educational rights. Pakistani Relations The Taliban’s influence does not only extend in Afghanistan, but also in Northern Pakistan. The Tehreek-e-Taliban, independent from the Afghan division, have also displayed their extreme beliefs against girls attending school (Bajoria, 2011, par. 9). The most prominent event was the militants’ recent, and failed, attempt to assassinate female Pakistani teen and education rights activist Malala Yousafzai, in December 2012, for her outspoken efforts to inspire girls in the Middle East to demand their basic right for education (Seyah, 2012). The Taliban’s efforts to silence women for several decades has ultimately resulted in the surge of anger and motivation for Afghan-Pakistani women to fight for their rights. One such example includes the Islamic women’s rights’ group, Minhaj-ul-Quran, who are, according to the Associated Press, displaying these emotions immediately following Yousafzai’s failed assassination (“Pakistani members,” 2012).
Afghan-Pakistani Girls and the Right to an Education
Cause— Conflict Zones Lands of Strife For many Afghan-Pakistani girls, going to and from school can become a “life-threatening journey” (Torgan, 2012, par. 1), especially in conflict zones between the Taliban insurgents and foreign troops, including attacks by the Taliban and their allies. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a report states that in Pakistan alone there have been 411 to 884 civilian casualties (Robertson, 2013, par. 14). Furthermore, the United Nations has stated that 185 attacks upon Afghan schools and hospitals occurred just in 2011 (Torgan, 2011, par. 3). These numbers display how dangerous it can be for girls to even leave their home, much less attend school. In addition, in regions where Taliban insurgents are high, more girls are likely to be threatened or attacked by the militants. In a 2010 study by Human Rights Watch, a non-profit humane organization, research supported this idea by finding that in Taliban-insurgent areas, women and girls have received “night-letters” containing threats if they continue to leave their homes (“All Change,” 2011, par. 15).
Practices Within Conflict Zones Harming the Innocent Throughout these regions of conflict, girls have often become targets for the sole reason of attending school. According to recent reports, girls have been subjected to having acid thrown at them, have received bomb threats, and have had their local wells poisoned (Torgan, 2012, par. 5). One American-Afghan author and scholar, Nushin Arbabzadah, opened up about this issue, “You close the door behind you, and you enter a war zone … the walk from home to school … is the most dangerous part … you are told to stay covered, keep your head down, and walk quickly” (Torgan, 2012, par. 2, 4). Some girls who lived through such experiences, such as Afghan education activist Shabana Basij-Rasikh, have cleverly devised several methods to detract attention. In a speech for a TEDxWomen event, Basij-Rasikh confesses that she “dressed as a boy … took different routes so that no one would suspect where we [Rasikh and her sister] were going … cover our books in grocery bags,” (“Dare to Educate,” 2013). While many Afghan-Pakistani girls have gained some success in obtaining access to education, the Taliban, their supporters, and any others who oppose girls in school have yet to cease in their brutal actions. After the failed assassination attempt of Malala Yousafzai, her assassins’ spokesman proclaimed, “Any female that, by any means, plays a role in the war against the mujahideen should be killed” (Ghitis, 2012, par. 9). No Class Today Girls not only are in danger when attending school, but also may have no access to schools for periods of time due to the schools being shut down from attacks, bomb threats, and lack of local governmental protection. According to the United Nations, 152 documented attacks in Pakistani districts featured partial or total destruction of schools (Pakistan, 2012, par. 2). As for Afghanistan, “safety concerns and infrastructure issues” (Kissane, 2012, par. 6)
Afghan-Pakistani Girls and the Right to an Education have shut down 640 schools from 2007 to 2009, while 300,000 students were dispossessed of their education from 2008-2010 (Kissane, 2012, par. 18). Additionally, Basij-Rasikh reveals, “From time to time, the school would suddenly be cancelled for a week” during the Taliban-led years in order to avoid suspicion. In addition, many schools are too far from students’ homes. In an interview with a Pakistani student, a girl who has kept her name private revealed, “I walk 3 miles every day … We are three girls … if … one of us is not coming then we all stay at home” (Shah & Shah, 2012, par. 40).
Effect — Low Female Attendance Empty Classrooms While Afghanistan has made substantial progress in enrolling 8 million students into the education system since post-2001, only 2.4 million are female students, according to a 2011 UN report that reveals the country has some of the world’s lowest female attendance rates (Kissane, 2012, par. 11). Many parents have pulled their daughters out of school from fear of threats and civilian casualty. According to a 2010 study, “parents are reluctant to send their … daughters … because of the tenuous security situation rather than ideology” (Kissane, 2012, par. 17). According to Christine Roehrs, Director of Save the Children, a non-profit humanitarian organization, “In Afghan culture...there is a high dropout rate of young girls after the early grades,” Furthermore, about 4 million children remain un-enrolled, where the majority of them are young women. The same holds true for Pakistan where, of the only 50 percent of the country’s enrollment who are are female, 56 percent drop out (Shah & Shah, 2012). Lastly, Afghan civilians have worried that the withdrawal of American troops in 2014 may alter the positive catalyst for education in the last decade (North, 2012, par. 7). Parents’ Resilience Despite such grim events, many parents have not given up their hopes for their daughters. Basij-Rasikh introduces one of her students’ fathers who stood up for his daughter amid threats by saying “[Ahmed] and his daughter … missed being killed by a roadside bomb by minutes … As he arrived home, the phone rang, a voice warning him … they would try again …’ Kill me [Ahmed] now, if you wish but I will not ruin my daughter’s future” (“Dare to Educate,” 2013). For parents such as Ahmed, resilience has provided motivation and hope for these millions of girls.
Cause — Religious, Social Values Long Standing Tradition Afghanistan and Pakistan have maintained strong religious and social values since the introduction of Islam in the mid-7th century (Kissane, 2012, par. 24). However, while these ideals may always remain integral to their societies, they’ve also played a role in the stagnation of girls’ access to education. For instance, elders, locals, and religious institutions, especially those outside of urban cities, often look down upon many families who allow their daughters to attend school. In Pakistan, where communities were asked
Afghan-Pakistani Girls and the Right to an Education what contributes to making a “good” Muslim girl, “participants were unanimous that a Muslim girl should be brought up according to Islamic teachings … there was vagueness toward what this implied … [except] schools did not contribute” (Shah & Shah, 2012, par. 24). Many who disagree with education see the academic system as a threat; educated young women may seek independence rather than the current cultural values of familial, domestic needs (Shah & Shah, 2012, par. 26).
Religious, Social Values’ Manifestations Construed Idealism For much of the older generations, education for girls is seen as unnecessary and sinful. One Pakistani student, who was not named for sake of privacy, confessed, “my dadi (grandmother) is always telling my mother not to send me to school as it will bring evil — that Maulvi Sahib (Imam of Mosque) ordered women to stay home and serve family and their men” (Shah & Shah, 2012, par. 26). One Pakistani teacher stated, “We are women ourselves … if we annoy Maulvi Sahib … can be bad for us and for the school” (Shah & Shah, 2012, par. 28). These deep rooted “values” and traditions have ultimately affected young women’s access to basic education throughout multiple parts of their lives and their society.
Effect — Gender Discrimination and Exploitation Young Women Silenced For generations, many girls have been brought up to obey, especially statements of the codes of Maulvi, in fear of repercussions or becoming marked “enemies of Islam” (Shah & Shah, 2012, par. 27). Furthermore, young Islamic women have been restricted from religious analyses of the Quran, which actually encourages female equality and universal knowledge (Shah & Shah, 2012, par. 13). As a result, many girls have been subjected to violence thanks in part to “gender discrimination … [and] long tradition” (Torgan, 2012, par. 34). This lack of female integration and involvement has further amplified the control over young women in order to create and maintain a more conservative, male-dominated environment. Become “Good” Wives and Mothers Early marriage and domestication has become the societal norm for many young women, rather than having them attend academic institutions. Many families place marriage over education as a priority to maintain their izzat, family honor, “[If] we lose izzat in family … no one will marry our daughters,” according to an interview with one of several Pakistani mothers (Shah & Shah, 2012, par. 38). Another Pakistani mother quipped, “My husband married our elder one last year … soon to be a mother herself … very quiet … very weak … but she is a good daughter — never complains” (Shah & Shah, 2012, par. 36). However, by making izzat a priority over their daughters’ educational growth and independence, parents ensure that young women remain excluded from decision making and are unable to create long-term, positive growth — which may actually help their own izzat.
Afghan-Pakistani Girls and the Right to an Education
Conclusion The suppression of Afghan-Pakistani girls’ rights to education has now become a major international concern. These young women have faced significant barriers to their educational rights, including the Taliban’s extreme ruling over these countries, to the dangers of living in Taliban-insurgent conflict zones while firm, sacred traditions and aged attitudes become priorities over young women’s educational and social independence. If Pakistan and Afghanistan wish to pursue growth in the political and economical well-being of their citizens, the needs of young women must be addressed. Fortunately, several groups have brought their efforts to the table, such as Afghan Connection, a non-profit group that has built 30 schools centered in rural communities (North, 2012, par. 30). According to the director of the organization, Dr. Sarah Fayne, these schools are located near students’ homes and feature female teachers to empower and connect with these young women (North, 2012, par. 31). In addition, the national government is stepping up to the plate, including Afghan Education Minister Farooq Wardak, who has pledged to keep Afghan girls’ education a top priority well after the American withdrawal in 2014 (North, 2012, par. 28). Beth Murphy, a filmmaker who spent time with Afghan girls in schools, shared her experiences, “To see these girls walking to school, delighted to be learning and spending time together in the classroom, writing their own names for the first time, reading their first words — I felt hope for the future” (Torgan, 2012, par. 6, 14).
Afghan-Pakistani Girls and the Right to an Education
References All change, all the same: Afghan Taliban 10 years on. (2011, Oct. 4). Dawn. Retrieved from http:// dawn.com Article 26: Right to education. (n. d.). BBC World Service. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk Bajoria, J. (2011, Oct. 6). The Taliban in Afghanistan. Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved from http://www.cfr.com Basij-Rasikh, S. (2013). Shabana Basij- Rasikh: dare to educate women [Video file]. TED. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com David, C., & Wall, K. (August, 2013). Afghan women speak - enhancing security and human rights in Afghanistan. University of Notre Dame. Retrieved from http://www.kroc.nd.edu Ghitis, F. (2012, Oct. 15). Girl’s courage, Taliban’s cowardice. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn. com Kissane, C. (2012). The way forward for girls’ education in Afghanistan. Journal of International Women’s Studies, 13 (4), 1-19. Retrieved from Virtual Commons Bridgewater State University database Mujahideen. (2013). Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com North, A. (2012, Oct. 11). Success and challenges in Afghan girls’ education. BBC. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk Pakistan: protect student, teachers, schools from attack. (2012, Oct. 19). Human Rights Watch. Retrieved from http://www.hrw.org Pashtun. (2013). Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com Robertson, N. (2013, April 15). In Swat valley, us drone strikes radicalizing a new generation. CNN. Retrieved from http://cnn.com Seyah, R. (2012, Oct. 12). Malala in 2011: my people need me [Video file]. CNN. Retrieved http:// www.cnn.com Shah, S. & Shah, U. (2012). Girl education in rural Pakistan. RISE – International Journal of Sociology of Education, 1(2), 180-207. Retrieved from Hipatia Press database Torgan, A. (2012, Sep. 26). Despite deadly risks, Afghan girls take brave first step. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com
Mid-Class by Shelby Moore
Mightier than the sword was the red Bic pen meant for corrections: run-ons, non-sequiturs, improper word choice; now corrupt in the pocket of last season’s stone oxford. Earlier in the hour, he wasn’t aware how deep his nervous chewing dug into the utensil a running river of sticky ink percolated like oil. The textile above his chest, that bore no galloping symbol of confidence, now sported fashionable splotches of “crimson is the new red;” a heavily-edited paper on the pit-falls of attracting the opposite sex. Above his heart, beating, the blemish wept. He felt he might, too. Trotting to the boy’s room could help dry the wound, or a P.E. uniform used as a bandage. Ready to dart, weary of nosy-eyes with his jockey-knees pointed towards the classroom door — just then, she eating her lunch asked if he’d like a napkin; her mom had packed two by accident.
photo by Marilyn Napier
I Believe in Guitars by Desiree Pharias
From the color of the wood to the feel of the grain and strings, every guitar has a different look, feel, and sound. Guitars are one of the most iconic instruments in history, having a place in every band. From Jimi Hendrix to Keith Richards, guitarists have found a way to weave their music into our nation’s culture and history. Accordingly, they have always been an object of emotion for me. Each time I see one in the hands of an able musician, I’m instantly reminded of my unwavering belief in their power. The age of Rock and Roll was when guitarists flourished. This new genre of music skyrocketed in the 1950’s as a genre for teens. The leather jackets came out and the thirst for cute boys with a guitar was born. Elvis was the definition of a rocker rebel with his deep voice, bad-boy look, and famous hip thrust. Needless to say, rocker-boys have been following in his footsteps ever since. My Rocker: My brother was the typical rebel without a cause. That’s when I was first introduced to the bad-boy façade that so many of today’s youth have mastered; the kind good little girls go nuts over. I thought my older brother was the most talented kid alive when I would hear covers of Jimi Hendrix and other classic rockers trickle down the stairs. This is when I began to think all guitarists were fun-loving, easy going bad-asses like my cool older brother. However, I soon realized they come in many forms, including the troubled soul. Along with the classic rebel, there is the thought-provoking, sensitive song writer. Bob Dylan, notorious for his ballads on the anti-war movement and U.S. civil rights in the 1960’s, has been one of the most respected song writers of our time. And, even this musician, who was more in tune with his lyrics, had a guitar to back up his words of protest. Since then musicians have used their songs to express their thoughts, feelings, and points of view. My Songwriter: In high school my favorite enchanting, perplexing, guitar god was none other than John Mayer. I would pop his CD in my old beat up golden Hyundai Santa Fe and jam out to him every morning before school. With that devilish smile he had me fan-girling all over the place, complete with a framed poster in my room. This was the first time I thought not all guitarists were bad-ass rebels without a cause, because not only was Mr. Mayer an amazing song writer composing brilliant guitar riffs, he was an artist with words. This is when my adoration for guitarists deepened; when I realized they could also
I Believe in Guitars possibly even be the sensitive, lovable, boyfriend type. With my idol’s lyrics engraved in my mind, the memories of my high school experiences were engraved in the same folder, being instantly associated with John’s songs. B.B. King is what comes to everyone’s mind when you think of a blues man, breaking ground with his unique guitar compositions. His songs are described as “complex vocallike string bends” making his work identifiable and unique. B.B. King was a one of a kind blues artist, much like my blues man was one of a kind as well. My Blues Man: By the time I was a senior, I thought I had guitarists all figured out. I had grown accustomed to them and had developed a soft-spot for them. So when a quiet, brown-haired, hazel-eyed, real life prince charming came sweeping in, with the added bonus of a guitar in his hands, I was instantly hooked. He serenaded me beneath the stars in Litchfield Park just like any alluring musician would, sinking the hook in even further. But he wasn’t a rebel like my brother, and he wasn’t open and sensitive like John. This was a guitarist I had never seen before. Reserved and to himself, he was a challenge for me to fit into my blue-print of what I thought a guitarist was. It wasn’t until after he broke my heart (which was the only thing that did fit into the blue-print I’d created) that I realized this was a different breed of guitarist. The “woe-is-me” bluesman. The troubled soul. Needless to say, this was a rude awakening from my guitar god fantasies. I believe in guitars, in all their many forms, whether they’re acoustic, electric, or even classical. With that I also believe in the rebel without a cause, the sensitive heart throb, and even this misunderstood blues man. No two guitars possess the same body, neck, and strings and no two boys possess the same personality. With that, whenever I see a guitar I’m amazed by their ability to make me think of my past memories; I instantly think of my own personal guitarist. I have grown to appreciate guitars and their many forms. There are days I want to jam out and sing to an electric guitars head-banging riffs, and there are days I want to chill out and let an acoustic serenade me to sleep. On that same note, I have grown to appreciate the different boys behind them, rooting for each one, whether it is the romantic songwriter that has left me with lyrics engraved in my mind, or the blues man who left me heartbroken.
photo by Cierra Eubank
An International Community of Friendship An Ethnography of the Humphrey Fellows by Madison Alder
In this ethnographic essay, I researched the Humphrey Fellows at Arizona State University to find out how they relate to one another and identify themselves as a cohesive group. In my research, I personally interviewed: Dr. Bill Silcock, program curator and director of Cronkite Global Initatives; Javaria Tareen, a Pakistani journalist; and Ivana Braga, a Brazilian journalist. The Humphrey Fellowship program is only three years old at ASU, but has been running for 35 years in the United States. The program brings international journalists onto different college campuses and teaches them about American culture, journalism, and values, but I have discovered that while Fellows are in the program they also gain international friendships that will last a lifetime.
An International Community of Friendship
At the Arizona State University Downtown Phoenix campus, on the fourth floor of the Walter Cronkite building, take a left at the elevator, take a right down the hall, and there you will find a room filled with discovery, knowledge, and friendship. The Global Initiatives suite is no ordinary classroom; posters line the walls, a row of flags display their colors brightly on the wall opposite the entrance, and clocks report the time from countries around the world. It is welcoming in the suite; it fills you up with creativity and excitement. It isn’t sterile, hostile, or strictly academic, but more like a small home with desks. To 10 incredibly accomplished international journalists, that’s exactly what it is. I was about to walk out of the classroom after setting up an interview for my research when a small woman approached me. She asked in polite, broken English, “Excuse me, do you have five minutes?” I thought about it briefly. “Sure,” I replied with a smile, not even thinking about what these next five minutes might entail. This was my first step into the world of Ivana Braga, a Brazilian journalist with a heavy Portuguese accent and an infectious laugh. She pulled up a chair for me and asked me if I could help edit her paper for the Humphrey Fellowship blog. She wasn’t able to get an appointment for a tutor to look 64
An International Community of Friendship over it, so I — a complete stranger — was her next option. I sat down and began to read. Already, the English was difficult to understand in the very first line. I asked her what she had meant to say and she began to explain it to me using words, her hands, synonyms, anything that might help get the point across. After finally understanding what she meant, I helped her correct the sentence and we moved on to the next one. Each time we went through a sentence, we got better at communication. As time went on, Ivana began to see the mistakes herself and correct them without my help. Kristi Kappes, the program manager of the Humphrey Fellows, came over to our desk with a jar full of Christmas Hershey’s Kisses and offered us some. Ivana ran to the other side of the desk and grabbed two. She set one in front of me and then began to unwrap hers — a mere taste of Ivana’s kindness toward a complete stranger. When we finally got back to the paper, we came across an incredibly difficult sentence. Simultaneously, we tried to use words, our hands, synonyms, anything to try to communicate the idea and soon realized how silly the miscommunication actually was. So, there we sat in the Global Initiatives suite, two strangers, eating Christmas candy, laughing because we couldn’t understand one another to save our lives. That original five minutes had soon morphed into fifteen. The Humphrey Fellowship began at Arizona State University in 2010, but its history stretches far longer than that. The Humphrey Fellowship Program was born after Hubert H. Humphrey, former vice president of the United States, passed away in 1978. President Jimmy Carter decided to create the program in Humprey’s honor because of his interest in international relations. “The Humphrey program, a collaboration of the U.S. State Department and the Institute of International Education, selects as fellows accomplished mid-career professionals from emerging democracies” (Oswalt, 2011, para. 3). The central idea for the program was to bring international journalists to America to teach them about American culture, traditions, and allow them to make global friendships that would last a lifetime. Today, ASU is one of 18 universities that houses Humphrey Fellows in its collegiate community. The Fellows stay here for a school year (10 months) taking classes, practicing English, learning about American culture, and much more. I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Bill Silcock, director of Cronkite Global Initiatives and curator of the Humphrey Fellowship program. Dr. Silcock’s office is a small room at the back of the Global Initiatives suite. With its photos, maps, posters, and artifacts, it is the best microcosm of the world I have ever seen put into such a small space. Leading the Cronkite Global Initiatives is no small task; it takes a lot of planning and responsibility. Dr. Silcock said it was primarily his international interest that made him want to get involved with the project. Before the project started, the mission statement was, “for the students, faculty, and staff to be able to see the world — know the world, so they can report the world better,” Dr. Silcock explained. Not only does this program benefit those involved, it also benefits the greater ASU community. During their time here, the Humphrey Fellows are enrolled in several classes, explore the city, and do community service as ways to become exposed to American culture by interacting with and becoming friends with Americans. The program’s other purpose is to teach international journalists about American journalism and for them to hopefully go back to their countries and represent the American culture in a better light. However, Dr. Silcock clarified, “Never do
An International Community of Friendship we inflict Americana on them.” The Humphrey Fellows are allowed to think whatever they want to think about America. They are only exposed to America in the program. After that, it is up to them what they think; although, the program usually produces favorable outcomes. Most of the Humphrey Fellows I encountered had glowing remarks about the United States, but one woman I interviewed had several critiques of the American media she was willing to share with me. “I really don’t like the style of journalism going on in the United States … I haven’t seen anything covering the internal investigative stuff in the U.S.,” she said over the blaring broadcast of CNN in the First Amendment Forum of the Walter Cronkite Building. Javaria Tareen is a journalist and advocate for issues involving gender, child protection, and education, from Beluchistan, Pakistan. She is a perfect example of why the Humphrey Fellows program exists. It isn’t just so we can show everyone how ‘perfect’ America is, but so we can become aware of global problems and in doing so, realize our own faults. Little did I know I was about to realize a large fault of my own. “Do you know the name of the president of Pakistan?” I shook my head ‘No.’ “The Prime Minster?” Again, I dolefully shook my head. The ignorance hit me like a train and I sat there dumbfounded at my own stupidity. In front of me was a brave, international journalist scholarly stating her observations after living in my country for a while and I didn’t even know the leader of hers. This is probably true for most of the Humphrey Fellows: They know about America, but Americans don’t know about their culture. They journey far from home and when they get here, they have each other. “It’s a kind of special relation[ship]; you cannot describe it because you are away from your family, so you find that here, among the people, the Fellows that you just met a few months ago,” Tareen shared with me. “And the relation[ship] gets stronger day by day because when you face different experienc[es] — if you are sick, you will have someone to take care of you,” Tareen said. It’s similar to what freshmen experience in their first year of college because, typically, it is the first time they have lived away from home, and the people they meet immediately become family. The only difference with the Humphrey Fellows is that it’s on a much larger, global scale. The next day I interviewed Dr. Silcock again. This time I wanted to get a better feel for the culture of the Humphrey Fellows, and so I asked if there was a Humphrey Fellows magazine. Unfortunately, there is no such thing, but the 2011-2012 Humphrey Fellows were featured in The Cronkite Journal, a periodical chronicling the events of the Walter Cronkite School. He handed me a copy. The magazine was thick with importance. I flipped through the glossy pages until I found the article about Fellows. A stunning picture of the Fellows was on the left page and on the right was the article. The article was titled, “From Pakistan to Phoenix: Humphrey Fellows Spend a Year at Cronkite.” The article was centered on three male Pakistani journalists who worked their way to the top through hard work and dedication to their craft. One of them, Akbar Hal, started his own online newspaper in English. Another, Javed Afridi, was part of the 24/7 English-speaking news station in Pakistan. And the last of the three, Mukesh Kumar Ropeta, was a member of the English-speaking Geo Television Network in Jacobabad (Oswald, 2011, para.6-para.23). They are the finest in their country and somehow they found their way to the Humphrey Fellowship program to heighten their education and expand their global knowledge.
An International Community of Friendship At the end of the article was a large quote box. It read: “When you walk on to this campus you truly become a global citizen.” These words were spoken by Akbar in reference to his experience at the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus. This made me stop and think. In all the time I spent in the Global Initiatives suite, I had marveled at the worldliness of its atmosphere and décor. Not once did I stop to think that, to the Humphrey Fellows, it is their time in America that makes them feel like “global citizens.” Sure, it seems obvious, but it is hard to think about when you are awestruck by the vibrant cultures that make up the Humphrey Fellows. That day I truly understood why the Global Initiatives suite looks so much like a home. I sat in the lounge area of the suite checking over my notes after my interview, when Steven Kapoloma walked in and began talking to Ivana Braga. “Bragger,” he fakewhispered to Braga with a playful laugh. “Ivana Bragger,” he said in an attempt to do a play on words of her last name. Ivana looked at him confusedly. “What is ‘bragger?’” Braga asked. Kapolama looked at me from across the room with a smile and asked, “You know the word ‘bragger?’” It took me a minute to make out the word he was saying over his Malawian accent. When I finally understood, it was back to the way it was the first day I met Braga: me desperately trying to think of synonyms. “It’s like saying, ‘I’m the man,’” Kapolama said laughing. “Ivana Bragger.” Of course, this whole time Kapolama was kidding because Braga is the farthest thing from a bragger. I couldn’t help but to be reminded of a siblinglike relationship between the two. This was a sentiment I felt each time I visited. In an attempt to understand the Fellows more, that night I visited their blog and I came across a rather lengthy and well-detailed story written by Hina Ali, a journalist from Pakistan. It was titled “The Night the Fire Alarm Went Off.” In the post, she chronicled the events of the night, noting how she and her roommate didn’t know what it was at first and how lucky she was that she always keeps a bag filled with her most valued possessions in her room for times like this. She took many pictures and documented the event like a true journalist, but it was the final line from the post that stuck with me. “The moment we went outside, I looked for my Humphrey friends (we met just three weeks ago) it took me a few seconds to spot one of them, I hugged [her] and I thought to myself, ‘I care about them more than I realiz[ed]’” (2013, para. 16). In that final line, Ali captured the feeling I received from this group from the beginning: an everlasting bond of camaraderie. The Humphrey Fellowship program is a community of academics, exploration, and friendship. Through their time here, they create life-long relationships that expose them to new cultures. They share celebrations, accomplishments, failures, good days and bad. They are a family that comes from all over the world. Each of them contributes something different to the group. For Dr. Silcock, it is his leadership; for Braga — her happiness; for Kapolama — his humor; for Tareen — her intellect; and for Ali — her thoughtfulness. The Humphrey Fellows didn’t just let me interview them, take pictures of them, and sit in the corner of the suite taking notes, they opened up to me, showed me their world, and welcomed me into their joy-filled home, and for that, I am grateful.
An International Community of Friendship
References Ali, H. (2013, August 31). The Night The Fire Alarm Went Off. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://cronkitehhh.personal.asu.edu (Braga, I., personal communication, December 2, 2013). (Braga, I., personal communication, December 9, 2013). Oswalt, A. (2011-2012). From Pakistan to Phoenix: Humphrey Fellows Spend Year at Cronkite. The Cronkite Journal, 1, 12-14. (Silcock, B., personal communication, December 3, 2013). (Silcock, B., personal communication, December 5, 2013). (Tareen, J., personal communication, November 27, 2013). (Tareen, J., personal communication, December 9, 2013).
Let Us Join Together in the Banning of Pit Bulls, Men and Irish Americans by Hailey Felts
Dear Michael O’Neill, It has come to my attention that you were attacked by a pit bull during the summer of 2011 while walking your dog and suffered injuries to your calf and abdominal area. The pit bull was so vicious that you could not unleash the dog from your flesh until you stabbed it with your hunting knife. I congratulate you for staying strong and surviving such a horrible event by standing your ground and not letting the pain or fear of dying override your natural survival instinct. Since this attack, you have become a public speaker about pit bulls and advocate that they are a “dangerous breed.” In your hometown of Nederland, Colorado, you have successfully convinced the town to allow a specific breed ban to pass, stating that any dog that is, or resembles, a pit bull cannot be owned. However, you have not stopped there. It is my understanding that you want every pit bull in the nation to be euthanized because you “feel like you have a responsibility to the community” (Snider, 2011). As a victim of a dog bite myself, I know what traumatizing effects can occur. I was 11 years old, playing in my neighbor’s yard just like any other day. It had been four years since the family had moved in with their three daughters and two American bull dogs, Nikko and Yankee. Nikko and Yankee were often let out to play with us kids and that day was no different. As my friends and I ran around, I could feel the wind in my hair, the sun on my face and laughter in the air until Nikko decided he, too, wanted to join in on the fun. Nikko started chasing me and it wasn’t long before he caught up to me; he jumped up and latched onto the first thing he could get his teeth into: my butt. I fell to the ground and my friend’s mom ran over and grabbed Nikko off of me, but the damage was already done. Blood began soaking through my pants and I was soon picked up by my mother and taken to the hospital for stitches. I received ten stitches but the pain that followed me was more than physical; it was emotional. The following months I had lost the feeling of security and safety in my neighborhood, something no person should have stolen from them. I was constantly afraid of every dog, and it took me a long time to go back to my neighbor’s house. Even then, I was on edge and always asked that the dogs be caged while I was there. Mr. O’Neill, I know what it is like to want someone dead because of what they did to you, to want to help the community by restoring your sense of security and safety that was so easily taken from 69
Let Us Join Together in the Banning of Pit Bulls, Men and Irish Americans you. I stand by you and believe every dog that is violent and has shown aggressive behavior in the past should be euthanized for the safety of others. However, what if we used your logic and euthanized everything that had potential to harm us based on their stereotypes? Take for example, men. Some men have been known to beat, rape, and even murder women. On average in the United States, three women are killed every day and 600 women are sexually assaulted (NOW, 2012). Children are not left out of the abuse; they too become victims. When violence is witnessed by a child, growth and development can be hindered, and lingering feelings of fear and low self-esteem are not uncommon. “Children who have been exposed to family violence suffer symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, such as bed-wetting or nightmares, and [are] at greater risk than their peers of having allergies, asthma, gastrointestinal problems, headaches and flu” (NOW, 2012). To protect our women and children and restore a sense of security, we should go ahead and kill all men; that is, according to your stance that, to protect the community, we should get rid of potential dangers before they even have a chance to become dangerous. Verified by the 2008 U.S. census, there are roughly about 40 million Irish Americans living in the United States, you yourself being one of them. Just as you want people to know what it’s like to own a “dangerous breed” (Snider, 2011), I want people to know what it is like living with the Irish. The Irish have been known for their drinking, and it has been reported that a whopping 54 percent of Irish Americans engage in risky drinking each year (O’Connor, 2012). About 75,000 people are killed due to alcohol related deaths; 34,833 people are killed because they’re the ones drinking and thus die due to liver failure or cancer. That means 40,933 are the victims and die due to the consequences of others drinking, for example, getting hit by a drunk driver (NBC, 2005). This means that, on average, 112 people are killed every day because someone chose to drink and ended up killing another person. I believe this information is more than enough to provide a basis for this unfortunate stereotype and, agreeing with your logic, we should go ahead and kill all the Irish Americans to prevent any more alcohol-related casualties. I know that you are only trying to do what’s best for your community, and that you are reaching out because you’ve been traumatized, but there are more efficient ways of handling the situation than getting rid of an entire breed based on the actions of a few. I agree with you — dogs that are aggressive and cannot be trained should be euthanized. However, the dog that attacked you had no prior attacks or even showed signs of aggressive behavior in the past, so how could anyone have guessed that the dog would decide to attack you? Pit bulls, or any breed of dogs, have not been known to attack without a reason. Could it be that the pit bull attacked you because it felt threatened by the dog that you were walking? I am not trying to make an excuse for the pit bull or its actions in anyway; I am simply trying to understand what set off the dog that morning. We, as a community, as a nation, should try and understand the behaviors of pit bulls, instead of euthanizing the entire species. By understanding the breed, we can properly train pit bulls to be well behaved and to not be aggressive toward other dogs or humans. This logic not only applies to pit bulls, but every dog and every animal that we don’t quite understand yet.
Let Us Join Together in the Banning of Pit Bulls, Men and Irish Americans
References NBC, (2005, June 25). Alcohol linked to 75,000 U.S. deaths a year. NBCNews.com. Retrieved April 24, 2013 from http://www.nbcnews.com/id/6089353/ns/ NOW. (2012). Violence against women in the United States: statistics. National Organization for Women. Retrieved April 24, 2013 from http://www.now.org/issues/violence/stats.html Oâ€™Connor, G. (2012, March). Breaking the code of silence: the Irish and drinking. Irish America. Retrieved April 24, 2013 from http://irishamerica.com/2012/01/
photo by Cydney McFarland
Waiting Rooms by Cherilyn Schutt
There are too many waiting rooms in the world. There is no God here. Only a bible on his knee, he tells me the voices in his head laugh at him and sometimes tell him to do things he doesn’t want to. He speaks in tongues; it’s violent, a violence of words. It’s a narrow road ahead, and I fall into a black hole. There isn’t enough air in the elevator. The ceiling is stretched out of ambiguous shadows and hypnotizing white noise; it’s spinning like Ford hubcaps and metallic bicycle spokes reflected by this oppressing desert sun.
photo by Shelby Moore
The Power of Competition If You Ain’t First, You’re Last by Matt Faye
“Time for dinner!” My mother’s words might as well have been the shot signaling the start of the Kentucky Derby, as my brother and I raced down the stairs, jostling for position, and almost falling flat on our faces in the process. As we turned around the railing — or as we saw it, the “final stretch” — we could faintly hear my mother’s shouts over our huffing and puffing. “Slow down, slow down! Not everything is a race!” In reality, that could not have been further from the truth when it came to my brother and me. From the moment we woke up to the moment our heads finally hit the pillow, there wasn’t one moment that passed when we were not trying to outdo each other. Whether it was our grades in school or who could finish his dinner first, it seemed that we were destined to compete against each other. It is the power of this competition that I believe makes me who I am today. Athletics were a big area of competition for us. From our first game of T-ball all the way through high school, my brother and I were on the same baseball team. Not only were we on the same team, but we played right next to each other on the diamond. I played second base, while my brother, Tyler, played shortstop. Any casual baseball fan knows that in order for the infield to run smoothly, the shortstop and second baseman must have a special connection. They must almost “know what the other is thinking.” While Tyler and I had that special connection, that didn’t mean we always liked what the other was thinking, or doing for that matter. “Get the ball out of your glove!” or “Are you kidding me with that throw?” were common phrases shouted across the diamond back and forth between us. My brother and I were constantly trying to “one-up” each other on the field. I would watch him make a diving catch, then try to make one even better on the next ball hit my way. Tyler would hit a single, and I would try to hit a double. It was engrained in us. While the competition between us was fierce, it never outdid the common goal of the team. In fact, it did quite the opposite. Our teammates saw that we thrived off the competition and matched that same energy. The competition was not only making my brother and me better, but the people around us as well. Today, my brother and I have a great relationship and are closer then we have ever been. However, without our competition, I doubt this would be the case. As grateful as I am
The Power of Competition for the opportunity to compete against, and form a bond with, my brother, society today does not support such competition. I sit at my six-year-old nephew’s soccer game and listen to the coach tell both teams that they won, or that neither team was a loser. Does anyone really believe that? I go to my sister’s softball tournament and watch every team get a trophy for participation. Well, guess what? In every game, there is a winner and a loser, and everyone knows that. I guarantee that the first-place trophy is a lot bigger than the trophy for participation. Tyler and I grew up pushing each other to our limits and never settling for second place. My brother is now in his senior year of high school, still playing shortstop on the baseball team. I intend to still yell, “Are you kidding me with that throw?” Why? Because I know that if you’re not first, you’re last, or you might as well be.
photo by Mara Zegarac
Shattered Reflection by Vanessa Ray Gibson
“Sing to the Nightingales, sing to children’s tales, sing to those above, sing to whom you cherish of, cherish of, cherish of … cherry dove, cherry dove, a dead love, a dead love … sing to gut entrails, sing to bloody tales, sing to those below, sing to end life, also …” Sophia Maren Worthington jerked her head up once the bell rang loudly throughout the classroom. “Ms. Worthington, maybe you should pay more attention to the lesson rather than focusing on the inside of your eyelids.” Mrs. Evil-English-Teacher glared. “Sorry …” Sophia grumbled. She gathered her things and rushed off to the bathroom, as she always did after every class ended. “Maren!” Winnie, Sophia’s best friend, called out. “Don’t call me that, Fred!” Sophia snapped. “What’s with the mood?” “I keep drifting off in class, not that I care, but I mean, I almost missed the in-between, and my hair can’t afford that!” “Sophia … your hair looks fine, so do your make-up and clothes. You don’t have to check the way you look every minute of your life.” “Well, Wynnifred, I have to care. I was blessed with this face, I should respect the way that I look.” Sophia inspected herself closer in the mirror, taking out her mascara. Rubbing the wet brush over the mascara cake, she stroked it over her lashes. “Besides,” she whirled around to face Winnie, “now that the carnival finally opened again, think of all the people I could meet! The connections I can make! Therefore, I must look my absolute best!” She faced the mirror again, pressing her red lipstick against her lips. “You aren’t going to become an actress by attending a carnival! Sophia, you know that since the accident, what, five years ago, that you must be at least eighteen to gain access. How are you going to manage that?” Sophia sighed. “Those crazy men are long since gone and 17 is close enough. And with the way I look, there is no way anybody is going to deny me access.” “Unless the entrance guy is a woman,” Winnie said. “Hey, that wouldn’t be a problem either,” Sophia laughed. “Sophia, where do your morals lie? You have always been this way; I just don’t understand how you can be so care-free and conceited, all at the same time! It isn’t 83
Shattered Reflection appropriate; this is not how girls are supposed to behave!” Winnie shook her head, curls flailing. Sophia looked up from the mirror, a sneaky glimmer in her eye. “Be Research Girl and get me a list of all possible entrances just in case I can’t get in.” Sophia snatched up her purse and clicked away in her heels. I knew I wouldn’t have a problem entering. Sophia thought. Nerds are so easy. Easier than me. She smiled at herself. “Maren, what are you doing here?” Sophia didn’t glance up from her compact mirror. “Don’t call me that.” “But Maren, you can see yourself so much better in the fun house mirrors. Let’s play tag.” Sophia finally looked up and her jaw dropped open. “Oh.” She blushed. “Tag, you’re it,” Landon-Blake, almost everyone’s school crush, ran off towards the Vanity Mirrors of Narcissism. Sophia looked around at the lit up grounds. People were running around winning prizes, eating cotton candy, laughing hysterically, and screaming bloody murder from all of the spinning rides. Sophia took a step toward the fun house mirrors, smirked, and then bolted for them. She entered the dimly-lit mirror room, completely alone. Strange that nobody else is in here, she thought as she checked herself out in one of the mirrors. A face appeared behind her, causing her to inhale sharply. “Landon-Blake!” She turned to punch him in the arm playfully, “Where is everyone?” “Well, I work here, and all I had to do was go over to that door and place an ‘Out of Order’ sign on the front. I can also lock the door, want to see?” He grinned, walking over to secure the door. “Uhm, that’s alright, really. I know how doors lock.” She started to leave when he slammed her against one of the mirrors, pieces shattering. “What are you doing!?” She screamed, tears already starting to fall from her eyes. “Aw, why are you crying, princess? The fun has barely started.” He grabbed a piece of the fallen glass and slashed her cheek with it. She fell to the floor, horrified. “What are you doing!?” She repeated, looking at her reflection and watching the blood drip from the cracks of her fingers where she was holding her cheek. “My face! You’ve ruined my face!” “You ruined my sister! Just because she wasn’t pretty enough for you and your circle of friends! It was because of you that she ran off to those witch men! They killed her!” “I didn’t know she would do that! I didn’t know they would do that! It was five years ago! We were thirteen!” she screamed, weeping. “You should have died instead. You’re dirt. You’re ugly.” He took up more glass pieces and proceeded to slit up her face and arms. Blood oozed from the gashes as he was finishing his procedure. Watching as she gasped for breath in a pool of her own blood, he gave her one last look of disgust, and then bolted out of the place.
Shattered Reflection Sophia strained to pick herself up, but being too weak she could just barely lift her head. She glanced at the mirror right in front of her, her eyes growing wide with horror. There were deep open cuts all over her face, and her jet-black hair was hacked off in random places, swimming in the blood beneath her. I’m hideous! Slowly reaching out, she picked up a shard lying next her, lifted it beneath her chin, and dragged it across her throat. She watched herself die in the reflection of the mirrors. “Bloody Mary … Bloody Mary …” Lily’s voice quivered. “I can’t do it, Violet,” she called through the door. “Oh, just do it! You aren’t worthy of being called my sister if you can’t say a simple name. It’s only a story anyway,” she sneered. Lily took a deep gulp of air, and whispered into the mirror, “Bloody Mary.” An icy gust of wind passed through her body as her candle light flickered out. Lily peered into the darkness, trembling. “Loathing, vile, little thing! Repeat my name and you shall scream!” A voice screeched from beyond the mirror. Lily dropped the candle, hysterical. “Violet! Get me out of here! She’s real! She’s real!” “Are you really trying to tell me you saw her? Liar!” Violet accused as she opened the door. Lily ran over to the light switch and flipped it on, out of breath. “Oh please, you can give up the act now — Lily, what is that?” Violet nodded her head over in the direction of the mirror. Lily looked over at it and fell to the floor. Writing was scratched into the mirror, dripping red. Violet read aloud, “Fickle rats who called upon, said my name, you’re soon done!” Violet nervously laughed, “Where did you get the red paint at, huh Lily? This is just a joke right? Just paint?” she asked, narrowing her eyes. Lily shook her head, crying. “C’mon, let’s go,” Violet picked Lily up by her shoulders, half-dragging her out of the bathroom. Violet tossed and turned all through the night, pondering the possibility of Bloody Mary’s existence. Lily never lies, not even for attention. But then again, it’s just a silly game. People have been playing it for years! In America, Australia, and here in Britain! Maybe she just scared herself, made herself believe. But where did the writing on the mirror come from? An idea occurred to Violet, “Fine. If Lily is telling the truth, then I should investigate for myself.” Violet climbed out of bed and proceeded to rummage around one of her night stand drawers. She grabbed a long, thin, match and walked into her bathroom. “Meow!” Violet jumped. Her kitten slinked between her legs and trudged into the bathroom ahead of her. Violet breathed a sigh of relief, following after her cat. Silently, she closed the door, faced the mirror, and lit the match.
Shattered Reflection “Bloody Mary,” she started, her heart pounding a million miles a minute. “Bloody Mary,” she inhaled sharply, getting ready for the next, final words. “Bloody Mary!” Silence. Violet looked around, somewhat disappointed, staring at her match as it slowly burned out. Violet waited a couple of minutes, and then turned on her light switch. When she looked back at her mirror, her knees buckled. She threw her hands over her mouth, stifling a scream, as she read what she saw. FILTHY CHILDREN, SOON DISEASED. ALONE AT TWILIGHT? YOU’RE DECEASED. These words were written in the kitten’s blood over and over again. Violet quickly attempted to get up, clumsily falling back onto the floor. She eventually thrust her door open and ran to her open window, getting air. She glanced over at her clock. 11:52 PM. She thought over the words that threatened her. This can’t be real. This is a joke. I refuse to believe any of this! Bloody Mary isn’t real! This isn’t even how the legend goes! But my poor Snuffles is dead! She moaned, collapsing onto her bed in a fit of tears and disbelief. The wall clock struck midnight. Violet lifted her head from her wet pillow, breath becoming shallow. She heard odd noises coming from her bathroom, as if feet were shuffling. “Wh — who’s there?” Violet stammered, unable to move. Her eyes began to widen as her bathroom door slowly creaked open. A dark silhouette of a figure limped towards her. Violet tried to run away, or hide, but she was completely overcome with fear. “B-bloody M-M-Mary?” she whispered, almost face to face with the creature-like girl now. The girl was draped in a shredded white dress, her long, scraggly black hair all up and down her body, yet her face was pretty, despite the three cuts along it. She had big, round eyes, though they were black. Her eyelashes were long, lips plump, and cheekbones, high. However, there was an evil demeanor about her. Revenge. Violet closed her eyes and screamed, “I don’t believe in Mary Worth! I don’t believe in Mary Worth! I don’t believe in Mary Worth!” Mary tilted her head, stretched out one gray hand, and slashed a cut into Violet’s cheek with her jagged fingernails. Violet’s mouth dropped open in an “O” of complete shock. Mary took a step back, squinted her raging eyes, and yanked her head in the direction of the glass trinkets that were lined up against the walls. Violet’s body flung in to one of the walls, glass crashing all around her. She fell with a thud onto the floor, howling with pain. Mary squinted at Violet again, and Violet was thrown against her full-length mirror. Shards of glass pierced through her body. “Bloody … Mary … not … real …” Her voice trailed off as Mary shifted her body and crept to the ground, quickly crawling towards Violet. She took one bony finger and dipped it into Violet’s gushing blood. …
Shattered Reflection Lily traipsed into Violet’s room, singing, “Oh Violet, I’ve actually made dinner, and unburned!” Lily looked around at the mess of Violet’s room. “What did you do in here? Redecoration I presume?” She smirked.“It’s not very lovely. Come out, come out, where ever you are! Oh please, I am sorry for being such a drama queen earlier, but I am fine now!” Red paint on the mirror caught Lily’s eye. “AHA! I knew it was you! I am such a mug!” She stepped towards the mirror to read what had been written. “Disgusting, treacherous, horrid slug, you’ve chanted once more, now you’re sleeping with bugs.” Cold chills ran down Lily’s spine. “Violet? Where are you?” Lily walked into the bathroom and sighed, turning towards the mirror. From the shower rod swung her sister, pale, bloody, and lifeless. Lily twisted around to face her dead sister, screaming. “As Lily continued to scream” — DING! The bell rang, signaling that class was over. Marcy looked back down at her story, half-sad she couldn’t finish reading for her class, and half-grateful. She made her way over to the bathrooms to adjust her stringy, brown, mousy hair. “No point in trying, freak. Great story by the way! Not. Think all that freakish stuff up yourself?” Heidi asked, crossing her arms over her chest. “Yes …” Marcy answered quickly, attempting to leave the queen bee’s nest. “I don’t think so! Like you’ve anywhere at all to go. You know, I wouldn’t have read that story, if I were you. Some people might get nightmares, or turn you in for being such a crazy freak.” Marcy continued to look down. “No. You know what they would do? They would try it out, call upon ‘Bloody Mary’ themselves. There is no way you made that entire story up. So, let’s see if it’s real,” Heidi said tauntingly. “NO! Don’t do that!” Marcy yelled. She looked around at their bewildered faces, then added, “It is just a dumb story, no need to take it seriously.” Heidi’s eyes twinkled, “Then you won’t object if we play this game.” Marcy started to dash out of the bathroom, but Heidi barked to her minions, “Grab her! And lock the door. And shut off the lights.” Marcy struggled against the girls’ grip but failed in escaping miserably. “Alright! Alright! The story, it isn’t mine! But it is real! Bloody Mary is real! She came to me two years ago in 1942. She told me that her story needed to get out and that I was the only one who could get it out to the public. She said if I told people then I could live. I didn’t though, so she came back. She was going to kill me unless everybody knew about her. She needs people to know so they will play the game. Please, don’t play while I am in here with you, I can’t trust such a s-avage soul. Just let me go and you can say her name as many times as you like!” She spilled, bawling. Heidi merely laughed at Marcy’s insanity, walked over to the lined up mirrors and chanted, “Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary …” 87
Shattered Reflection “Don’t call her that! She hates it. It isn’t her name. She is going to kill you!” Marcy cried out. “What is your childhood trauma? Is her name Sophia then? The girl in your story? Yeah, I don’t believe a word you mutter. BLOODY MARY!!!” Heidi screamed out, finishing the deadly chant. She glanced over at Marcy and laughed, “Let her go. We’ve done enough damage for now. Besides, the boyfriend is waiting for me.” Heidi’s friends let go of Marcy, pushing her to the floor. “AHHHH!!!!” somebody shrieked. “I’m bleeding, I — “ Silence. The girls stopped dead in their tracks. Singing filled the room. “Sing to gut entrails, sing to bloody tales, sing to those below, sing to end life, also …” Heidi stepped forward to peer into the darkness, when something sharp penetrated her torso. She gurgled with agony, falling to the floor, feeling more stabs and hearing more screams. It felt as if she were taking a ride through a paper shredder, or as if five hundred wolves were eating her alive. Heidi continued to scream. One quick slash across her neck ended the sound. Marcy stopped singing and skipped over to the door to turn on the lights. The scene was a bloodbath. Five girls lie dead, severed from head to toe. She looked down at her blood-spattered hands, brought them up to her lips, and licked her fingers, smirking. I’m going to tell everybody exactly what happened, Marcy thought, Bloody Mary killed them.
photo by Erin Mondt
High School Dance by Haley Madden
7:04 p.m. Slashed whiskers line the drain, douse every spot in poison number 5, melted gummy bears glaze her mouth. Hair spray firms each strand, and pearls line the bone. Pleather blisters her heels while silk makes nice with every curve. Hurry down, the limo just pulled up. 7:34 p.m. A misted hand hugs the small, subtle breath hits the lobe. You look perfect. Ribbon-wrapped wrist, pink petals on a coat. Just one more shot, look this way you two.
High School Dance 9:47 p.m. Peering out on this space, a place of rose and apple mace and boys with borrowed blazers their fathers wore to Christmas Eve three years ago. Chaperones shake hands like he shakes hips and she shakes her to drugged beats and the crash of drunken shoulders and wasted feet. 10:52 p.m. A basketball court syncs to the thump of her overworked heart but why stop? The night is young and so are you, so shake the petals off your wrists and the sweat from boysâ€™ necks and move closer than before.
photo by Cierra Eubank
I Believe in Small Towns by Rachel Rime
The sun begins to set as the lights come on over the field. I’m standing on the sidelines with a jersey on, watching as the other team warms up; their red and black jerseys just begging to be pummeled. As I look back at the bleachers, a sea of orange washes over the horizon. Students, teachers, parents, and grandparents fill the stands. The cheerleaders and dance team wait anxiously on the track. The entire town is dead, except for the south end, the Panther stadium. Cortez, Colorado has a population of 8,000, an elevation of 7,000, and is nestled in between the La Platas and the Rocky Mountains. Surrounded by lakes and desert, and filled with unforgettable memories and irreplaceable people, Cortez taught me to appreciate simplicity and live with gratitude. Small towns love their football, and the people love supporting their team on Friday night games. My friends and I have never missed a game since middle school, which was when we realized how many hot boys played football. As soon as school was out on Friday afternoon, we would make our Sonic run and head home to get ready for the game. On big game days we would wear our favorite boys’ jersey and write Panthers on our bellies. By 7pm, we were in game mode and by 10pm, we were in chow mode; meeting every Friday night after a game at Jimmers (the best BBQ place in town). We filled that long table in the middle up and talked about highlights of the game in between bites of “fat boys.” After I finally found my bed, I sat and realized how lucky I was to have such a tight circle of football-loving, fat-boy eating, friends. I know now that Cortez made these things possible. I’ve become a girl who values what that small town offered me. There’s something simple about just grabbing a tent, a fishing pole, a couple of friend, and heading down to the lake. Every summer night, we would jump off of rocks into the cold water and play chubby bunny so many times, there were no longer any marshmallows left for s’mores. Staring up at the stars we would try to count every last one and gaze at the vastness of it all (you just can’t get that view from a smoggy city street). Or, tell stories by the fire of last weekend, or that one time we all went swimming in the middle of the night in the Dolores River. Or when everyone climbed on top of the Mesa Verde pass and scared the hell out of foreigners. Camping was an escape, an adventure, and a memory to add to the small town of Cortez.
I Believe in Small Towns Those endless summer nights taught me something collectively. That the best memories aren’t made in crowded bars or in strip malls. They’re made in the middle of nowhere with the people who know you better than you know yourself. I believe living in a small town shows an individual the importance of simplicity and friendship. I believe in small towns. Not just for the football games and the bonfires, but for the community, for the small businesses owners, the farmers, the local city council members, and the town mayor. I believe in the RE1 school district and all of the underpaid, overworked high school staff. I believe in the bus driver who knows all the students by their first names. I believe in back roads, and getting a little mud on the tires, I believe in simplicity and gratitude, and I never underestimate the power of a Colorado sunset. Everyone’s seen the TV show Smallville, a series filmed in a small town in Kansas. I would dedicate my Sunday nights to that show, gawking over Clark Kent, the main character, the star of the show. As the setting ranged from tall wheat fields to a water tower, to “Main Street,” I couldn’t help but realize that — although I might not be Superman — I was Clark Kent living in that small quaint town of Cortez Colorado. Although we didn’t have much in that town, it had everything I needed: life lessons, friends, family, and a Friday night football game.
photo by Caitlin Carter
Lines by Angie Millar
He keeps spilling movie lines. Clichés soaked in Manhattans. I think he mentioned that he’s the best version of himself around me. I don’t think it’s midnight, But maybe if it was, I could believe this nonsense. My patience is waning. Let’s find some original lines. For example: I’d rather you confess your love than say you see the good in me.
The Blue Room by Haley Madden
Sitting and stewing and brewing, construing. Glazed glitter, dirt and not copper nothing elegant & more. A ladyâ€™s imaginate is very rapid, you know. He tells them, They persuaded me at the clinic to send her away. He said, words were her plague. Personally, I disagree with their ideas. Just lies and a scornful eye. We must not look at Goblin men, we must not buy their fruits. Many men shrink from the task. The task of Me. But what do they see? A woman in the shape of a monster. A monster in the shape of a woman.
The Blue Room More than anything perhaps, creatures of illusions that we are. I thought of putting my thoughts to rest. I washed thy face, but more defects I saw. And rubbing off a spot still made a flaw. So I take phosphates and phosphites, whichever it is. But the silence depressed me. It wasnâ€™t the silence of silence. It was my own silence. It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility. It is thoughtless to condemn them if they seek to do more. True genius, true woman! It calls for gigantic courage and strength. Yet success is counted sweetest by those who neâ€™er succeed. In this present state of society, it appears necessary to search out the most simple truth.
The Blue Room You must tell yourself, we can only reason from what we know. I would always rather be happy than dignified. A woman like that is not ashamed to die. If I were a man and wished a wife, as many do, I would seek her fantastic nature, capable of romantic actions yet wild as a falcon. I will get out of here. I will write. Let me live, Live and say it well In good sentences. She breathed a quick prayer that life would be long.
photo by Marilyn Napier
Monocles by Rayan Mohammed
crack teeter-totter over two-tooth punks air balloon hysterics
overgrown feet little leeway for needles pipe the pipeline stooges sharks pulling
welcome dear commentators
of restless unease
hoax of monocles and black whiskers
angry captain angrier captain screams and spits the deck floor bodies and bullets knotted
Chains by Shelby Moore
There are chains around your ankles linked to the heaviest things man knows: seasoned duck, bolognese, pie a la mode. You’d really like to make it back to your home within a home, to where you rest your head at night and hang your telephone. But, being chained, feet will not budge and a film’s just starting to roll. You’re being offered beignets with fudge, on your bottom you will go. To your bed, you will not make it. Tonight these cushions will comfort you. Sink and meld your bloated self into stripes of white and blue.
photo by Brandy Reinke
The Mural as an Art Form in Downtown Phoenix by Alex Stevenson
The Barrett Downtown Mural, located in a non-descript alleyway just behind Lawn Gnome Publishing on North 5th Street (and thus, in the midst of the Roosevelt Arts District), is truly one of a kind. The piece is split between a rift in two brown picket fences, and stands as a fitting visualization of Lawn Gnome’s status as a bookstore through its portrayal of three very different literary icons — Gloria Anzaldúa, William Shakespeare, and Frederick Douglass. Contrast of these great figures’ heads is marked through color, and their respective quotes by which they are positioned. Overall, the mural is a reflection on literature, and the knowledge that reading perpetuates. With a backdrop of soft lavender, perhaps mauve in a certain light, the ‘B-TOWN D-TOWN’ Mural almost lays out a calm, collected environment of someone’s favorite place to read. The warmth of Anzaldúa’s orange, Shakespeare’s yellow, and Douglass’ cool turquoise only complement this theory further. It seems directive and informative in an inspirational way, though certainly not presumptuous. Other than arbitrary shading, particularly that which contours Anzaldúa’s cheeks, there is little change in the lightness and depth of the color, creating a sense of unity. The quotes themselves, however, are anything but uniform. They stretch in free form, swirling around the left side of each author’s face, a testament to the individual freedom of imagination that reading ignites. There is a paramount appeal to credibility through the usage of distinguished individuals within the work itself. This ethos provides grounding and context — reading and subsequent knowledge are important to success. The specific rhetoric of the utilized quotes gives the audience a sense of logos — “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free,” by Douglass, and, “The fool does think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.” Both captions provide a humbling look at the pursuit of knowledge, and as such a universal idea of bettering yourself through understanding. Gloria Anzaldúa’s quote has much more of an emotional appeal — “Books saved my sanity. Knowledge opened the locked places in me and taught me first how to survive and then how to soar.” One understands the magnitude of her situation only through empathy — we all have moments in which certain information changes our lives with such magnitude — and relates emotionally.
The Mural as an Art Form in Downtown Phoenix Connor Descheemaker, a Barrett Honor’s student at Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix campus who was involved in the formation of the mural, gave some compelling exposition on the mural’s conception through a personal interview. The Barrett community was outgrowing their end of the year event, and the piece was formulated as a way to show the students’ impact on the downtown area, something that they could draw pride from, but also as a way to serve the community aesthetically. Through personal connections at Lawn Gnome, the location was found and the entire Barrett Downtown community, specifically the 2012-2013 freshman class, had some part in the formulation, with the piece completed in May of 2013. This in itself gives a sense of social context — a celebration of community by impassioned local college students who are aware of their impact upon the area in which they live. Inspiration is the clearest product of the B-TOWN D-TOWN mural. As a generation that places much more emphasis on technology, we are forgetting the raw power that only a good book is able to possess and purvey. Our society seems to have little time for classic literature and forgets the sociopolitical advancements that great literature helps formulate — as Frederick Douglass and Gloria Anzaldúa help promote from the piece. Both were well known social reformers and activists who, according to their quotes, owe much of their success to reading. In a way, there is much more to this mural than context and what meets the eye. Both Frederick Douglass, an avid abolitionist (A&E Television Networks, 2011), and Gloria Anzaldúa, a self described, “chicana dyke-feminist, tejana patlache poet, writer, and cultural theorist” (Jones, Jones, Olson, & Teale, 2000), were pioneers for social change in their respective societies. Without them, these movements would not have been nearly as strong. We live in a city stricken by identity crisis, one of the largest metropolitan areas spread across a sprawl of various communities that share a city in name only. How we resonate with these brave figures, how we connect to them, and how we connect to our Downtown Phoenix community are all questions this mural incites. Without this mural, the alleyway behind Lawn Gnome would not have an object of discussion — and an insightful advertisement to read more or shop at the local vintage bookstore. With it, however, we are given thought provoking messages from some of the biggest thought provokers in history; forget whatever modern society may say, or pressure to do. Sit down with a good book, open your mind to experience something new, and use the experience to go out and change your own community.
References A&E Television Networks (2011). Frederick Douglass biography. Retrieved from Biography at http:// www.biography.com/people/frederick-douglass-9278324 Descheemaker, C. (2013, Nov 21). Interview by AJS Stevenson. Barrett downtown mural. Jones, E., Jones, E., Olson, J., Teale, R., & Curtright , L. (August 2004). Gloria Anzaldua: biography/ criticism. Retrieved from University of Minnesota Voices from the Gaps at http://voices.cla. umn.edu/artistpages/anzaldua.php
photo by Marley Molitor
Exposure by Mara Zegarac
I felt the pieces slip through my fingers, Razored the fine edges of my skin Like cutting through paper snowflakes On the Sunday before Christmas. He threw glasses against the wall, Watched them shatter and his lips Turn up in a tortured smile. Chewed the remnants into bits, Letting his tongue run over Iron, he tasted iron. Bitter, but sweet — a new Part of him never tried. Blood traveling on highways To throbbing cheeks. “Eat your words.” But they hurt, don’t they? Rather be sliced open By dull bones than recall The summer night before I left. I hope the pieces leave scars — Jagged cuts on your throat From the inside — Like branding a young calf Whose innocence means nothing In light of claiming property. For you, I would re-thread The strings of my arteries To bring life to a dying organ. My heart is never sealed, Never seared or sewn shut, Only freshly open for the world to see. Come take a look, cut me open.
Psyche’s Fall by Angie Millar
I Never challenge the popular girl to a beauty contest. But she decided to. She welcomed the fury of love. He was sent on a mission by the prom queen — what a good boy. He failed at shooting her in the heart. Suicide by omission. Now he says he loves her but no one can know. Popular boys aren’t supposed to be with girls like her. II It was one of those blind marriages. She wasn’t supposed to look at him. His face wasn’t beautiful. He might be a monster. So she took a peek and he left. Now she weeps, soothing a broken heart with ice cream.
Psyche’s Fall III She must fetch a present from the dark — but no looking. She opens the box and faints, skull slamming into the ground, present shattering. It was nothing significant anyway, just like her. IV He asked for her life because he couldn’t live without her. Young lovers are so naïve. He wants her tied to him forever. She’s revived just to live enslaved.
photo by Shelby Moore
The Rocky Horror Culture Show by Kaitlin Kroum
Those who are “cultured” are seen as refined, educated, artsy, and an expert on what is going on around them. When one mentions the word “culture,” nobody thinks of people that are obsessive, outrageous, quirky, or even sado-masochistic. When one mentions the word “culture,” most people don’t think of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It is 11:00 p.m. on a Saturday night in Mesa, Arizona, and the cast of Broadway Bound and Gagged is ready to perform. People are scattered throughout the red seats of an AMC movie theater. Nervous chit-chat fills the air as people with red Vs marked on their faces in lipstick contemplate their choice in entertainment for the night. Suddenly, a man with a booming voice and a light saber shouts, “Where are all my virgins?” Scantily clad women run excitedly through the crowd to pull those who are marked towards the stage. The virgin sacrifice is about to begin. In Rocky Horror culture, the term “virgin” does not refer to someone who has not yet engaged in sexual relations, but rather someone who has not had the pleasure of experiencing this well-loved film performed live. The Rocky Horror Picture Show first premiered on September 26, 1975 at the UA Westwood Theater in Los Angeles, California (“Rocky Horror Timeline,” 2013). The movie was based on the musical from London: The Rocky Horror Show. While audiences in London, America, and Australia grew to love the live version, the film version was a flop. The phenomenon of its cult audience started in 1976 at the Waverly Theater in New York City, when kindergarten teacher Louis Farese yelled, “Buy an umbrella, you cheap bitch” (“It was Great When it All Began,” 2013) during the now-famous rain scene. Since then, people have been dressing up, throwing props, shouting obscenities, and acting out scenes of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at “shadow casts” across the globe. At this point, the virgins have been sacrificed — or rather put through a glitter ridden spank-train, and the lights in the theater are dimmed. The cast is in place, the screen flickers and, right before the music starts, the man with a light saber screams, “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, God created a pair of lips and those lips gave great head!l The famous lips begin to sing. The movie may be playing on the big screen, but audience’s attention is drawn towards the fabulous actors who are lip-syncing on stage. Brad and Janet are driving an imaginary car towards an ominous castle and are greeted by a RiffRaff that is wearing a be-dazzled bra under her blazer. There’s a certain magic in the air, or maybe just copious amounts of glitter and rice, and everybody — the cast, the virgins, 120
The Rocky Horror Culture Show the faithful fans who have seen Rocky numerous times — everybody is shining (The Rocky Horror Picture Show, 1975) Despite being one of the most unsuccessful productions to hit the silver-screen, major stars have been born out of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, such as Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Richard O’Brien, and even the rock star Meat Loaf. Tim Curry played Frankenfurtur in the original British production of The Rocky Horror Show and Meat Loaf joined the cast as Eddie when the production moved to The Roxy in Los Angeles. Despite such well-known names, the production itself was cheap and disorganized. The original play was so small that the actors did their own makeup and the production continuously moved from theatre to theatre. Meat Loaf didn’t even know what the play was about when he joined the cast, and he didn’t receive a script until about a month into rehearsals. While the movie was being filmed, they ran out of money and had to cut down on special effects. Yet, through all these challenges, The Rocky Horror Picture made it to the big screen. It is the determined spirit of all of the people involved in the original productions for the play and the movie that have impacted audiences for generations and have kept it alive for so long. The Transylvanians have gone home, the cast have taken their final bows, and everyone was Time Warped back to present day. It’s 2 a.m. and an excited energy still buzzes among the group as they exit the theater, not to go home and sleep, but to celebrate across the street at Denny’s. They talk not only about the night’s performance, but also of fond memories of their past performances, the first time they saw the movie, and their everyday lives. There are high-school students, accountants, parents, ex-soldiers and collegestudents, all of whom are from different places and from different walks of life. Despite their differences though, they have become a family — a family held together by the magic of Rocky Horror. “I hated it the first time I saw it!” This is the usual response that any one of the cast members blurt out when asked about their first viewing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It is viewed as a rite of passage, or even as an official loss of innocence, because most of them first saw the film in their early teens. “I first saw it when I was thirteen and I thought it was so weird, but a couple of years later my friend dragged me to a live performance and I was hooked. I knew I had to be a part of it” explains Kerrie Grove, a freshman at Northern Arizona University, who played Columbia, the sequin clad tap dancer featured in the Time Warp. “The live performances add another element to the film, from the music, the audience participation, everything” states Hunter Terrell, the actor who played Brad Majors, “and both the actors and the audience are fans of the movie and in that sense, we’re all connected.” In fact, not only are actors connected with their audiences, but with Rocky Horror theatre troops all around the world. “I don’t know how many conventions I’ve been too, but I have friends in part of Europe and the Middle East because of them” says Terrell. Such conventions travel all across the country and not only are they a chance for fans to perform and bond over The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but to also view other cult classics such as Rocky Horror’s little-known sequel, Shock Treatment. People obsess over The Rocky Horror Picture Show all over the world, not because it can give them a taste of fame, but rather because it can give them a sense of belonging.
The Rocky Horror Culture Show Even though Rocky Horror fans are a family, many outsiders do not understand what exactly it is that the fans have bonded over. The answer is simple: sexuality. “There’s something very freeing about wearing a corset,” jokes Terrell. He is not the only one who feels that way. People who are gay, lesbian, transgender, or even straight can explore the wild side of their sexuality through The Rocky Horror Picture Show, in an environment in which they will not be judged. The film itself focuses on a transvestite and other subjects that are generally considered taboo. Little Nell, the actress who plays Columbia in the original movie, stated, “The theme line, ‘Don’t dream it, be it,’ really struck a nerve at a time when people were much more conservative” (Cousans, 1995). Ever since its original release, The Rocky Horror Picture Show has broken down barriers for those who are confused about their identity. While they may have bonded over sexuality, the fans of The Rocky Horror Picture Show are not a bunch of sex-crazed weirdos who can’t function well in a normal society. In fact, besides donning a corset every weekend, Rocky Horror fans lead relatively normal lives. At Denny’s there are techies that dressed up as zombies who are bragging about their kindergarteners and their dogs. The bedazzled Riff-Raff is complaining about going back to her desk-job come Monday, and Hunter Terrell is blowing out the candles of his 29th birthday pancake, while still dressed as Brad Majors. “People think that we’re weird all the time, but it’s really just when we all get together,” said Victoria St. Erne, a cast member who is also a freshman at Arizona State University and vice-president of the DPC Awareness Club. Allie Goldstone, a blonde gymnast who played the character of Rocky Horror said, “I think that I’m a pretty normal person; this is just me on the weekend and I still have to go to school during the week.” While they may have invested money and many Saturday nights into their production, the actors don’t let it completely take over their lives. “I understand that I can’t make a career out of Rocky Horror, but it is a hobby I can have for the rest of my life and that’s enough,” says Goldstone. The Rocky Horror Picture Show may have been considered one of the biggest flops in the history of film, but it has become a success in many other ways. Its fans have not only made it the longest running film in history, but a center for the misfits, eccentrics, and rebels. It’s a culture in which it’s okay to be a virgin and also to walk around in underwear and fishnet stockings while screaming profanities. It’s a culture that accepts anybody and everybody, just as long as they are prepared to be outrageous. As Susan Sarandon said, “Maybe it’s just like love, maybe we shouldn’t try to dissect it, just enjoy it” (Cousans, 1995). Love is exactly what emanates from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the love between the actors, the fans, and the virgins — the love for a film that has changed their lives.
The Rocky Horror Culture Show
References Cousans, P. (Producer). (1995). Rocky Horror Double Feature Video Show [Video Documentary]. United Kingdom: Twentieth Century Fox Film It was great when it all began. Retrieved November 2013, from The Rocky Horror Picture Show: The Official Fan Site: http://www.Rockyhorror.com Production. (n.d.). Retrieved November 2013, from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_ Rocky_Horror_Picture_Show Release. (n.d.). The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Retrieved November 2013, from Wikipedia: http:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rocky_Horror_Picture_Show Rocky Horror Timeline. Retrieved November 2013, from The Rocky Horror Picture Show: The Official Fan Site: http://www.Rockyhorror.com Sherman, J. (Director). (1975). The Rocky Horror Picture Show. [Motion Picture]. United Kingdom/ United States of America: Twentieth Century Fox.
photo by Marilyn Napier
Jigsawing by Michael Bartelt
You’re leaving soon, and I know I won’t say all I want to. I won’t ask you if you think of me during the week (you only stay the night on Fridays and Saturdays). You say you don’t sleep well on your dorm room bed. You say, “This is so easy.” I say shouldn’t it always be, but don’t say why. I wouldn’t want to say anything to make you think it wasn’t easy — feelings aren’t easy. I won’t say that I don’t feel so damn lonely and crazy when I’m with you. I won’t say that I hate your friends and that I hate how they make me look like an asshole around you. You say I’m not an asshole. I say you’ll get tired of me soon. You say I won’t be able to get rid of you. I won’t say that I think you’re right because I think about you all the time. I won’t say that I think about calling you just because I like talking to you. You would say that’s too “domestic.” I want to say I like being at home. After all, you changed the roll of toilet paper in my bathroom once. I want to say your ex is your biggest drawback. I want to say you’ve been broken. I want to say I’ll spend eternity jig-sawing the intricate pieces of your heart until their whole and we can “fall in love” (whatever that means). You’d probably think I was crazy. But I’d be crazier if I said that under different circumstances I think we could be … never mind. I think I may at least be able to say that the tease is good enough for now,
Jigsawing but my tongue-biting will leave more sad un-saids in my head when you are driving on the I-10 toward Tucson and I’m sitting on my couch high and listening to melancholy music. I won’t say I’m broken. And I won’t say that there are puzzle pieces scattered and hopeless on a table in my head, as I wonder if we could have been whole and think how it would’ve been better to spend eternity trying to put the pieces together.
Pitching: An Art Form All Its Own by Nicholas Wicksman
Art is a funny thing with many different guidelines: “It has to be a painting,” “It has to look pretty,” “It has to be old.” Art has been viewed as a means to relieve stress, a way to convey a message or to convey spirituality, and, most popularly, a means to display talent. If someone can make good music, can write well, can do anything well, one can almost always bet that he or she is going to display that talent to some extent. Sandy Koufax, four-time perfect game pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, is not the most commonly associated name with the word “artist,” but is certainly an artist in his own right. Koufax is arguably the best pitcher to ever take the mound in baseball, and when he did, it was an art form all its own. Koufax helped to prove that art is not just something that can be put up on a wall in a museum. Art can be an action, a moment in time that encompasses talent and emotion. He proved that art must stand above other ordinary, everyday occurrences, it must be conveyed with passion and emotion, and it must be capable of emotional reception by the audience. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states that art “… has a complicated history: new genres and art forms develop, standards of taste evolve, understandings of aesthetic properties and aesthetic experience change” (Thomas), yet many put strict limitations on art. One widely accepted criterion is the necessity for art to clearly convey the emotion felt or emitted by the artist while he or she created the artwork. Leo Tolstoy, 19th century writer and author of What is Art, defines art as beginning “… when one person, with the object of joining another or others to himself in one and the same feeling, expresses that feeling …” (1896, para. 7). Tolstoy establishes that an artist must convey emotion through certain external conditions. Koufax’s pitching is one of those certain external conditions. Koufax, among others, proved that pitching is an art, easily expressing his creative skill through his emotions. While emotion cannot be measured or valued, the emotion Koufax gave is evident in his post-season statistics. Koufax almost single-handedly brought the Los Angeles Dodgers four World Series, and throughout the span of those four World Series runs, allowed-on average-less than one run to the opposing team. It is not crazy to think that Koufax’s emotion is shown through his post-season statistics, because had he not had emotion and passion for baseball and pitching, then he would not have worked as hard as he did to perform in those four World Series wins. One of the reasons Koufax was so dominant and creative, was that he could do as he pleased with the ball, just as a painter
Pitching: An Art Form All Its Own can do as he or she pleases with a blank canvas. Koufax’s blank canvas was the baseball, and his fingers were the brushes. Many people judge art based on its value. The most expensive painting sold to date is “The Card Players” from artist Paul Cézanne, and it sold for $267 million (List of most expensive paintings, 2013). While Koufax’s performances can never be sold and never be monetarily valued, they were just as valuable as any of Paul Cézanne’s, or for that matter, Picasso’s, or van Gogh’s paintings — simply to a different group of “buyers.” In tandem with conveying emotion, art must also be, in a sense, out of the ordinary. Art must be able to stand above other everyday occurrences. The same way a Monet painting, to most, stands above a framed doodle, performance art is art “which works in any of a variety of media that are executed, premeditated before a live audience” (Delahunt, 2010). Performance art is commonly comprised of choreographed dances or theatrical pieces. However, when performance art is defined as one medium “executed, premeditated before a live audience,” by definition pitching, being executed before a live audience, is performance art. Koufax was one of the best performers in all of baseball. This southpaw proved every time he took the mound that pitching was an art, an underappreciated form of performance art. Yogi Berra, the legendary Hall of Fame baseball player, once said, “I can see how he [Koufax] won 25 games. What I don’t understand is how he lost five” (Sandy Koufax Quotes, 2013). Berra, whose name will forever be sacred in almost any sports household, was stumped as to how Koufax even lost five mere games. Koufax, throughout his Major League Baseball career, threw a total of four no-hitters, second only to Nolan Ryan with seven (No Hitter Records). Now it can be thought that Koufax and other revered pitchers are having these rare performances out of luck, and that may be true to some extent. Occurrences of rare happenings may sometimes be luck, and some may be “the fate the gods gave” but for one man to perform a feat, such as throwing a perfect game, multiple times simply is not luck by any stretch. For one man to perform an action so eloquently, with such a high talent even once is in its own an art form. For many pitchers, baseball is a means of employment, however; for almost all pitchers, it is their life, their every day, and the emotion put behind every single pitch is just about unmatched by anything. Whether it be high art, utilitarian art, or most any other art, it must be capable of emotional reception by the audience. “The more individual the feeling transmitted the more strongly does it act on the receiver” (Tolstoy, 1896, para. 31). In this case, Tolstoy establishes that in order for art to greatly affect the receiver, it must first be transmitted strongly, emotionally, and otherwise. Edvard Munch painted one of the most recognizable paintings, The Scream, in 1895 (Sotheby, 2012). The Scream depicts a man who is clearly distraught with dark red skies in the background and his hands on his cheeks next to his gaping mouth. This painting did not become such a recognizable painting by accident; it became such a highly valued painting because Munch transmitted his individual feeling very strongly. Through the brushwork and colors, those who saw the artwork felt the emotion Munch intended to convey. At the time Munch created this painting, he was “… gripped by anxiety …” (Sotheby, 2012, para. 3) and that is clearly shown. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy also defines art as “being expressive of emotion” (Thomas, 2012 para. 17). On October 6, 1965 Sandy Koufax showed his emotion, by requesting not to pitch the first game in the 1965 World Series. 129
Pitching: An Art Form All Its Own The 1965 World Series pitted the Los Angeles Dodgers against the Minnesota Twins, and Koufax was set to start the first game. However, that first game landed on Yom Kippur, one of the holiest days of the Jewish religion. Sandy Koufax requested not to pitch this game due to this fact. The choice to not perform is not commonly thought of as art — and that is true. But it can be argued that having the respect and dignity to not perform a task, for the right reasons, shows true emotion towards a subject, and in this case, it shows the fans, viewers, and audience members the sheer amount of emotion Koufax had for the game. Had Sandy Koufax had no emotion for baseball, he would have pitched on that night, during Yom Kippur, with his head elsewhere, rendering him not capable of performing to his best. When an artist decides not to perform his artwork, it is for few reasons; he/she is either not willing to complete this artwork, or is not able to perform to the best of his abilities. In this case, Koufax relates to the latter. He later went on to receive the Cy Young Award, an award that is given to the pitcher considered to be the best in each league. Koufax retired just after his last World Series appearance in 1966, not an uncommon happening; however, his retirement speech is where the focus must shift. Sandy Koufax gave a very emotional speech, as he was forced to end his career early due to health issues. Sandy Koufax continues to prove to his fans and to others that his emotion and love for baseball and the art of pitching continues to this day, as he has joined the Dodger organization at the young age of 77, as a special advisor. This life-long dedication to baseball goes to prove that he is an artist, and shows that through his emotional devotion to baseball. Theodor Adorno claimed in 1969 “It is self-evident that nothing concerning art is selfevident” (Classificatory Disputes About Art, 2013). Art cannot be defined by one person, there is no committee, no group, no organization dedicated to finding the true definition of art. There is no such committee because there is no true definition of art; art has too many circumstantial parts, too many gray areas. There are a variety of genres of art, and that variety increases by day. Although there is no defining line for art, it can easily be argued that Sandy Koufax, the hall of famer, was, and is, in his own right, an artist. Sandy Koufax himself established one criterion for art: “Pitching is the art of instilling fear.”
Pitching: An Art Form All Its Own
References Classificatory disputes about art (n.d.). Retrieved February 26, 2013, from Wikipedia: http:// en.wikipedia.org/ Art (n.d.). In Oxford Dictionaries Online. Retrieved February 16, 2013, from http:// oxforddictionaries.com/ Delahunt, M. (n.d.). Art. Retrieved February 18, 2013, from ArtLex: http://www.artlex.com/ List of most expensive paintings (n.d.). Retrieved February 18, 2013, from Wikipedia: http:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_expensive_paintings No Hitter Records. (n.d.). Baseball Almanac. Retrieved February 18, 2013, from http://www. baseball-almanac.com/recbooks/rb_noh1.shtml Sandy Koufax Quotes. (n.d.). Baseball Almanac. Retrieved February 18, 2013, from http://www. baseball-almanac.com/quotes/quokouf.shtml Sandy Koufax World Series Stats (n.d.). Baseball Almanac. Retrieved February 18, 2013, from http:// www.baseball-almanac.com/players/playerpost.php?p=koufasa01&ps=ws Sothebyâ€™s - Overview. (n.d.). Sothebyâ€™s - English. Retrieved February 18, 2013, from http://www. sothebys.com/en/sales-series/2012/impressionist-modern-art-evening-sale/overview.html Thomas, A. (n.d.). The definition of art. In Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved February 13, 2013, from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/art-definition/#ConDef Tolstoy, L. (n.d.). What is art? California State University, Long Beach. Retrieved February 16, 2013, from http://www.csulb.edu/~jvancamp/361r14.html
photo by Amanda LaCasse
Underground Death Metal by Quijan Coleman
Underground death metal bands are a derivative sub-culture of the metal music culture. The musicality, the fans/crowd, the promotion, and venues are unlike that of any other musical sub-culture. Contrary to popular belief, the music and lyrics themselves require mounds of intellect and talent, much more than the music of today’s pop and rap music that floods the radio. As opposed to the “Shake that ass and drop it low” and “I kill n*gga’s” lines of mainstream music, death metal takes a poetic approach in order to get the lyricist’s point across with lyrics such as, “Miles between you and I lies the last place I hung my heart.” Admittedly, there are some lyrics and bands that use the music to portray violence and hate. However, the music itself (i.e. guitar riffs, drum patterns, and the vocal style) takes a lot of talent, practice, and imagination. In order to create metal music, band members must possess a heightened sense of rhythm, timing, and skill. The drummer must utilize his entire drum kit, from the simple hi-hat and cymbals, snare drum and kick pedal, to the double-bass pedal, the china cymbal, and all of the tom drums. The drummer is the most crucial part of the band, because he will keep the tempo steady as it changes sporadically throughout the entire piece. The guitarist is important because he must understand that the genre does not consist of meager power chords. It is imperative that a death metal guitarist employs almost every fret and every scale into his writing and, most importantly, recognizes the concept of a “breakdown.” During the breakdown section of almost any death metal song, each band member slows down their tempo and the guitarist’s job is to create the deepest, heaviest sounding riff he can in order to get the listener to feel the artist’s true emotion; the down-tuning of the bass note (taking the lowest string and making it even lower) is an essential part of this section. The vocalist is the primary source of the feeling incorporated within the band’s musicianship. In order to create the sounds expressed by a death metal vocalist, one must muster every bit of emotion and evoke it into one note originating from the diaphragm (though the throat is what most would perceive as the most incorporated part of it). This is done by pushing the air out of one’s mouth by flexing the organ. While some vocalists omit the words they say by putting emphasis on the growling nature of the vocals — so that the listener focuses on just the sound of his voice, others, especially during breakdowns, produce less of a growling sound while still using the technique to make sure that every phrase they utter is understood loud and clear. The vocals are supposed to give the listener a personal connection to the music being played. 133
Underground Death Metal Emerging in the mid-1980’s and stemming from the influences of bands like Pantera, Black Sabbath, and Venom (“Death Metal,” n.d., p.1), death metal combined the fastpaced, blast beating drums of black metal and the complex guitar riffs of heavy metal with growling, screaming vocals and the addition of constant tempo changes to spawn a new era of music. The minor scales and down-tune used by the guitars to create most of the music along with the vocals give the genre its title and arouse the stereotypes of demonic symbolism and, in some instances, the presence of death within the music itself. [Although the sounds of the vocals emanate an evil presence, the first death metal band on record, Possessed, wrote lyrics that took on the persona of an individual possessed by demons — who tries time and time again to free his soul from Satan’s control and describes his experiences in Hell.] The band later coined the term “Christian death metal” because of lyrics such as, “Watch the gods take revenge … Seven churches down in hell, in the land where Satan fell” from the title song of their 1984 debut album, Seven Churches, their references to God smiting Satan, and their praise and acceptance of holy repentance. Today, death metal is a sub-genre of metal music with a plethora of sub-genres within itself. For example, the previously mentioned Christian death metal, which consists of all the sounds and likenesses of death metal with lyrics that represent religious faith and, at times, even embody the presence of Christ himself. On the opposite end of the spectrum, deathcore or grindcore incorporates lyrics of death and destruction, most of which involve harming anything or anyone from themselves to women. These darker genres are what give death metal such a demonic reputation. However, among avid fans and listeners, they are not accepted but, in fact, frowned upon for “ruining the essence and musicality of the metal genre” (“Deathcore”, n.d., p.8-10). Although the genre was originally a dominantly male scene, women have become a large part of the movement and make up a large population of most metal shows. Bands like Iwrestledabearonce, Eyes Set to Kill, Opeth, and In This Moment all feature female singers who, at times, have more intense vocals than the males. Underground death metal is anything within the death metal genre that has not gained recognition by a label. Because of the diligence and effort they put into making their music, most of the bands within this sub-genre make much better songs than those who are under contracted labels. They do so in order to get recognized by popular death metal labels such as Razor&Tie, Sumerian Records, and Artery Records (“Metal Bandcamp: Metal Labels on Bandcamp”, n.d.). Shoved into the pit by a mass of raging teenagers and young adults, I found myself surrounded by flying fists and feet and forced to fend for myself. Knowing nothing else but what I had seen in videos, I began making the same spastic movements of my counterparts. In a mosh pit, no holds are barred as crazed fans fervently hardcore dance, flailing their arms and legs in every direction, heads down to avoid being hit by the others partaking in the activity. During my band, LeVidity’s, last set, an individual was knocked out and the entire venue shut the show down in order to get the person out and into the ambulance. [The idea of people unintentionally, yet constantly, bashing each other may too dangerous. But those within the pits are very respectable people.] When someone falls on the floor (this came to
Underground Death Metal my surprise), a circle is immediately formed around the individual and another helps him up, no matter what. Though I had been in other mosh pits in more open, outdoor areas, attending a show of Arizona native underground death metal outfit, Capitol — at Tempe, Arizona’s Marquee Theatre truly immersed me in the blood, sweat, and adrenaline that embodies any metal show. Even on the outside of the pit, the entire congregation is jumping to the rhythm of the drum’s cymbals and head-banging relentlessly. During these shows, the band has complete control over the crowd’s response and activity. The performing band’s synchronization, energy, and sound quality fuel a frenzy of emotion among the crowd that drives them to dance the way they do. Eric Hernandez, lead guitarist of Capitol feels “a sense of empowerment and dominance” as he watches the “crowd react to one of [my] solos” (Personal Interview. November 29th, 2013). Mikey Moreno, lead vocalist of Capitol, believes the best part of performing is “when you look into a sea of unfamiliar faces screaming along to the lyrics of [your] songs” (Personal Interview. November 29th, 2013), Regardless of knowing the band playing or not, the feeling of the music is impossible to ignore. A good breakdown will trigger a stomach-dropping feeling that makes anyone want to join in with the other raging fans. Underground death metal conveys the strongest sense of emotion to the listener. To get signed, an underground band will spend countless hours trying to perfect every aspect of the music they create. The ultimate goal is to sound as unique as possible without branching out of the genre itself and get a new, “Oh, well that’s neat. I see what they did there” reaction from those who will appreciate its musicality. The effort put forth by these bands is unlike that of any other genre [due to the talent that is required to create even the simplest of songs.]
References Deathcore. (n.d.). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved December 2, 2013, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deathcore Death metal. (n.d.). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved December 3, 2013, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_metal Metal Bandcamp: Metal Labels on Bandcamp. (n.d.). Retrieved December 2, 2013, http://metalbandcamp.com/p/metal-labels-on-bandcamp.html Possessed. (1985) Seven Churches. Combat Records. Lyrics retrieved from http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/p/possessed/seven_churches.html
photo by Amanda LaCasse
The Wake by Cherilyn Schutt
Youâ€™ve stood in too many doorways, eavesdropping on your mother, hearing things you wish you could forget: Neighbors in silence under fluorescent lighting. The bald man from the third floor chewing on a cigar, tortillas and broth passed around like kisses and prayers, carnations and Virgin Marys. You ask yourself who they are: a line of men down the stairs, ambiguous silhouettes and ash trays. They stayed until dawn. The daughter is head to toe in black for a year, a widow for the rest of her life, por todo mi vida. These village women, they outlive their men.
Saltwater by Vanessa Gibson
our tears are small, dew instead they are the most fragile part of our existence our tears are the oceans crashing and tearing apart our world; they form from passion, despair, outrage. within one, vulnerable moment, our tears transform us into heaps on the floor, nightmares, prisoners. but our tears are small, dew instead.
Dark Rooms by Rayan Mohammed
The thing about dark rooms is that when the smokes clear and the motes settle on the scraps of leftovers, only visible by the moonlight singing its way inside like a phantom through the window, the room begins to vibrate in its eeriness. In these dark rooms, both the heart and toes are vulnerable. The shards of rusty light bulbs scatter themselves across the hard tile, jingling along with whatever sounds still linger inside the walls; the rattling bookshelves and the ocean of letters that fell from their rotting shelves; the chandeliers crashing down to their knees in repentance. But do not shy away from these rooms or the darkness that inhabits them, fear only that in the darkest part of the night yellows are made golden and shards of light bulb may remind you of grandmotherâ€™s roasted pumpkin seeds before she ate herself skinny.
photo by Erin Mondt
Corpus Domini by Alex Pearl
His alarm rings. Like every other morning, his conscious thoughts rage against his subconscious to dispel the compulsory bonds of routine and return to sleep, but he is ultimately thankful for the dull reflexes that swing his legs over the side of his bed. His thoughts swim slowly, his body carries him to a standing position and turns him around to face the bed. Rumpled sheets, the crinkled indents of two bodies in the fabric. As usual, his wife has begun her day before him. His hand curls into a fist, briefly, though he does not know why. Legs shuffle to the bathroom, limp arms forced to tension to run a toothbrush across yellow-tinted teeth. He shuffle out of the bathroom, out of the bedroom, still undressed, a list of objectives for the day tabulated and promptly forgotten. Heavy feet shifting down the stairs, one past the other, the muted thuds of meat-wrapped bone on cheap carpeting. Exit to the kitchen, where his son sits at the table eating cereal. He does not know where his wife is, but he is sure everything is alright. As his brain thaws and uncoils, he looks from his son, seated in an amply-padded chair, to the refrigerator, from where he intends to retrieve a grapefruit and a carton of milk. He wills his feet to move around the kitchen table to the fridge, but they ignore him. He tries again. Fatigue, he thinks, has once again robbed him of motivation, and the locomotion provided to him by his subconscious has wavered. He takes a step toward his son. He tries to blink in confusion. His eyelids do not move. He tries to turn his head. It is fixated upon his child. His eyes begin to dart back and forth, roll and against the paralysis. He raises a hand as his son looks up at him. His actions are not his own. There is confusion now, coupled with alarm, as he reaches out to the child and pulls him, roughly, from his chair. The son looks up at the blank face of his father, whose frantic eyes contrast disturbingly with his slack, stolid face. There is recognition in the boyâ€™s expression that something is wrong, but he is too complacent in his home, his kitchen with its warm yellow wallpaper, his chair covered with torn Sesame Street stickers, his brightly colored cereal, to fully grasp that he is in danger from his own father. His father, whose expressionless face pulled back into an elated snarl, lifts the boy up, turns him on his side, and bites into the softness of his belly with a squelching tear.
Corpus Domini His son cries out in alarm and pain, and he tries to no avail to bring his body under control once more so that he call an ambulance, call the boy’s mother, beg for forgiveness, anything. But all he had were his senses: the fragile, soft limbs struggling and spasming against his grip, the screams of confusion and agony, the smell of stomach bile and blood, and the taste of still-living meat that he swallows before it can grow cold on his tongue. There is a cruelty to this, he thinks, that the ears and tongue and skin which have rebelled against him still bother to send his brain, the lonely grey island in a murderous squall, the devastating details of his son’s death. He is assaulted by the boy’s wheedling scream, the thrashing legs that shake the body and the small hands that have quit struggling and begun to scratch and claw in a blind attempt to end the pain. Skin, baby fat, muscle, and tendons torn from the small rib cage and ground between his teeth — his desire to vomit becomes overpowering every time his head rears back to swallow. He chews on regardless, the bits of his son mixing in his stomach like warm and mindless eels. The second the screaming stops, he drops his son’s unfinished corpse in the pond of blood that has gathered on the kitchen tile. The stench is unbearable. He turns away from the small, torn body and walks out of the kitchen. His feet move with increasing assuredness to the door leading to the house’s carport — the door where, he realizes, his wife will enter through when she returns from work this afternoon. His body stands in the doorframe, his nose an inch away from the closed door. His body waits. He spends the first hours trying to return to normal. He stares into the reflection of the windows set into the door, sees his stolid face superimposed in the glass over the dark garage and tries with all his faculties to move, to twitch, anything, because if he doesn’t, he knows what is going to happen next. In the last hours, he relents and his brain numbs, folding inward upon itself. The world becomes locked in a dull glaze, where there is no sun climbing higher to the point of afternoon, there is no wife, in danger of returning home to him, and no motionless child spoiling and spilling in the kitchen. He ignores his boxers, which his body has soiled multiple times since consuming his son. He wants to sleep, to forget, but he cannot. He is not allowed. He is alone with his thoughts, and his thoughts are unbearable. Finally, the garage door begins to creak upward, his wife’s car sliding inside along his. His body remains motionless, still standing in the doorway, stock still. She climbs out of her car as the garage door descends behind her, and walks around her husband’s car to the garage door. His eyes roll frantically again. He redoubles his efforts to move, to run away, to tell his wife to run. She reaches the door and her hand finds the doorknob. She looks up to see him through the window in the door. She gives him a curious look but opens the door regardless. He opens his mouth. His mind lurches, electrified. He attempts to force his lungs to work, to obey him as his lips have done. His tongue stirs. His wife walks through the door, asks him what he’s doing home, why he is still in his pajamas and not at work. She opens the door and sees the blood, smells her house and the offal miasma that has spread in the past hours. 143
Corpus Domini His mouth will not move further. He fights with all his strength to tell her to escape, to explain the situation, to use the small victory he has gained over his body to save what is left of his family. With each passing second, he can feel his brain erupt with terrified fury, buzzing in his skull with desperate need for an utterance, a scream, any simple ululation that might cause his wife to retreat. His tongue moves again. It probes outward, glides across his lips, and leaves a warm sheen of saliva behind, the taste of copper. As his hand reaches up to close around his wifeâ€™s face, he relents. His amassed concentration, desperately constricted around the last vestiges of his hope, slips from his consciousness into the ether beyond thought. His hand brings his wifeâ€™s head crashing into the doorframe and she slumps to the floor, her movements weak but aware. His lips are drawn back once more into their inexplicable, elated grin, and as the soul concedes to the body, the last vestiges of lucidity fade from his widened eyes.
About the Editorial Staff Kailin Biggerstaff is a senior journalism student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. She admires those with a talent for storytelling and loves reading a good tale, whether it is fiction or fact. When she is not reading or writing, she likes to be busy working or playing. Her energetic cockapoo, Zoey, usually does the trick of keeping her occupied. Amber Collins is a 26-year-old senior at Arizona State University, pursuing a general studies degree. She has been focusing on writing and literature, and hopes to one day be an editor and/or writer, but admits that ruling the universe is her backup plan. Her hobbies include reading, drawing, and planning for the zombie apocalypse. Rosemarie Dombrowski (RD), editor-in-chief, is a lecturer of English on the Downtown Phoenix campus and holds a PhD in American literature. She teaches a special topics class on Lady Gaga and another on poetic anarchy. Additionally, she co-hosts the Phoenix Poetry Series and is an editor for Four Chambers literary magazine. In her free time, she’s a poet, a blogger, a dancer, a fashion aficionado, and a mom to a very quirky son. Vanessa Ray Gibson is a senior at Arizona State University who is double majoring in literature and film and media studies. She is not exactly sure what she’s going to do with her life but she knows the answer lies in grad school at SAIC. She thinks this internship is rad, the copy editing is fun, but she sucks at writing about herself. Mitch Hacker is a junior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. Mitch was born and raised in Los Angeles, Calif. After he graduates, he plans to return to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the entertainment industry as a producer. In his free time, Mitch enjoys exploring the greater Phoenix area for its hidden gems. Mitch is also in the process of completing his private pilot certification. Cailey Hale can usually be found at concerts in downtown Phoenix, in “down dog” at the yoga studio she works for, or nose-deep in a novel on her bedroom floor. She loves coffee ice cream, avoids long-term planning, and cannot wait to own her first Golden Retriever. Cailey’s life-long ambition is to be the editor of a hit book series, where she can clock-in to work from Honolulu, Prague, or anywhere else her travels might take her. Michael Hardin Jr. is a junior at Arizona State University pursuing a degree in creative writing. He is an aspiring fantasy writer who currently has more ideas in his head than on paper.
Emilee Howard is a senior at the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus working on getting her degree in general studies and family communication. After getting her bachelor’s degree, she aspires to get her master’s in family and marriage therapy. Emilee is a cyclist, has two cats named Bean and Oliver, and has an unhealthy obsession with Angel’s Trumpet and crocheting. Chad Ligaya is a health sciences pre-professional major in his second year on the editorial board of WOD. He enjoys long walks on beaches, romantic dinners beneath the moonlight, and engaging in other similarly frivolous activities. His hobbies involve online gaming, Photoshop, video effects editing, recording vocal covers of his favorite songs, and avidly serving as a teen mentor for his church’s Youth Ministry. Haley Madden is a lover of all things food and writing. She has been writing and reading since she was young, and it’s one of her greatest joys and rewards. Haley is about to graduate from Arizona State’s journalism school and hopes to find work that inspires her and allows her to become a better writer and communicator. Marley Molitor is a sophomore journalism major at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and plans to go into broadcast media. Marley would like to work in some sort of television production after college, especially action-sport television like Red Bull. Erin Mondt is a sophomore at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She hopes to someday do PR work for a professional sports team while staying classy in beautiful San Diego. She enjoys sports and listening to The Beatles on her record player. She loves to vacation at the river with her family and drink green tea because she thinks coffee is overrated. Shelby Moore may work at the least French creperie in town, owing its influence to both global and hyper-local cuisine, but that’s alright: between the French films he loves to watch, the French croissants that haunt his dreams, and the French woman he knows he’ll marry, one could easily tire of the French too soon. And so, while he waits to wed, he’ll be eating blueberry muffins and chronicling American food with a coffee in-hand. Brett Nachman returns for his second year as an editorial board member for Write On, Downtown. He is a journalism major and psychology minor. Brett spends his free time playing the piano, working out, volunteering at an animal shelter, writing for an entertainment site, and catching up on the latest episodes of favorite TV shows — not simultaneously, of course. Marilyn Napier is a sophomore pursuing a degree in journalism. She hopes to someday work for National Geographic, at least that is the dream. Originally from Seattle, she’s an outdoor enthusiast and is out hiking and exploring any chance she gets.
Leah Newsom writes short stories. She is currently studying creative writing at Arizona State University. She is an Arizona native, born at the hospital just down the street from her home in the Coronado Historic District. As a barista at a local coffee shop, she is often heavily caffeinated. Her cats’ names are Penelope and Bella Pants. Catherine Rezza (CR), co-editor-in-chief, is an instructor of English on the Downtown Phoenix campus who holds a master of fine arts from ASU and a bachelor’s from Brown University. She teaches rhetoric, composition, fiction, and creative non-fiction writing. She believes in the superiority of the Oxford comma. She is team Stark: Winter is Coming. Julie Ruminski is a literature major with a minor in geography at Arizona State University. She aspires to become a writer and travel the world after college. Adam Waltz is a poet and a tennis instructor (a deadly combo). His wit can be compared to a Tarantino screenplay, and his writing style is on par with Tarantino wit. He is a legend in his own mind, and with any luck, he’ll be a legend in your mind, too. Mara Zegarac is a senior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalim and Mass Communication with an emphasis in broadcast and a passion for radio. She’s worked for the college radio station and interned on the morning show at Mix 96.9. She is a selfproclaimed makeup addict and bargain shopper. In her spare time, she enjoys writing on her blog, reading books, and playing video games.
About the Cover Artist Amanda LaCasse is a junior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and a Phoenix native. In her free time, she frequents coffee shops to read and do homework, shoots photos of anything and everything, eats and cooks (mostly) vegetarian food with friends, and journals thoughts, events, and poems — even when she doesn’t feel like it. She doesn’t believe in putting titles at the beginning of poems because it gives the audience a chance to judge them before they know them. Amanda also enjoys taking day and weekend trips anywhere and everywhere within Arizona, especially to Jerome and Flagstaff. You will find nearly every Iron and Wine CD in her car.
A Journal of Student Writing at the ASU Downtown Phoenix Campus