The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Author: Nicolas Lemus (Page 1 of 3)

Ted Burns ’19 Shares His Creative Process

This week, I interviewed Bates students Peter Nadel ’19 and Ted Burns ’19 about their participation in Burns’ musical group Short Shorts. He’s self-produced and released several albums and mixtapes on Soundcloud and Bandcamp. He recently played in the Little Room with Moon Daddy and Coldfish. Curious about that experience and his development as an aspiring campus musician, I headed over to Burns’s dorm room to talk.

The Bates Student (BS): This past performance in the Little Room; was this your first live show? How did you feel about it?

Ted Burns (TB): This was my second. The first was in the basement of Hayes my sophomore year. There were two big differences, so previously, it was just me on the guitar. This time, I played an original song; usually it’s just covers. And it was the first time I was backed by a live bass, played by Peter.

Peter Nadel (PN): That’s me.

TB: Peter played bass, then in the background –

PN: Hey, world.

TB: – there was a drum track I made on GarageBand to play alongside me. So it was a big upgrade.

BS: When did you decide to start making music?

TB: In the summer of 2016, I first listened to what are now my two favorite musical artists of all time: Car Seat Headrest and Japanese Breakfast. Why I love them — and this is what inspired me to make music — is that they both had a history of putting out music that was like a minute long and sounded very simple. And my impression of a song was always that it had to have all these parts, but it made me realize: no, you can start by making a really low bar for yourself, as long as you’re making anything at all. So that summer, I made two “albums” that no one will ever hear, but they have titles, cover art and stuff. Those are my first songs. It progressed from there as I got more confident with my abilities.

BS: Tell me a little bit about your influences. What are some artists that you think about when you make music?

TB: I’d say Car Seat Headrest, Japanese Breakfast, Bo Burnham, Fun., and recently Frank Ocean. When I make a song, it’s because I’ve heard a song that does something that, I’m like, “I want to do that.” Usually a song will start there.

BS: What genre do you consider your music to be?

TB: I can read you the tags I have myself under in Bandcamp. Alternative, bedroom pop, indie rock, lo-fi. I’d say indie rock or pop, I have a strong, blatant pop leaning.

BS: What is your lyric writing process like?

TB: I think a lot of what I write about are the things that have happened to me, but, more often than not, I draw on a specific feeling that I’ve had, and I’ll try and turn that into a story. It’s like thought experimenting on a feeling is what I’d say. Lyrics are something I’ve been focused on recently. I want them to be really good.

BS: Is there an eventual sound you’re working towards?

TB: In my perfect world, I’m in like a professional studio with a full band, but that’s like the “dream” in terms of sound. I’m lo-fi right now, ‘cause it’s just true.

BS: Any upcoming projects?

TB: I [recently] put out a B-sides thing that was just a bunch of rough drafts, so I’m mentally preparing to do something big, like a lot of effort. It probably won’t be until like the summer, I want-

TB: So I’m ready to do something big

BS: That sounds ominous.

TB: I want my instrumentation to be more complex…and I want more lyrical complexity.

BS: Last question, why Short Shorts?

TB: So my version is that in the summer, when I was trying to think about a name for myself, I did Short Shorts, ‘cause I did cross country and track, so I just wore those a lot, and then I kind of like how short shorts are exposing. Basically, it’s a catchy name, and it has meaning that I can derive from it.

Short Shorts is Ted Burns ‘19. Find him on Soundcloud and Bandcamp.

A 90’s Playlist (For You!)

Keeping with the reverie of the season, our beloved and bacchanalic 90’s weekend, I’ve got some songs for you: a loose playlist of transatlantic alternative rock and pop; selections from Scotland and England and good ol’ America included.

“Race to the Prize” – The Flaming Lips

The lead single from The Flaming Lips’ 1999 The Soft Bulletin, “Race to the Prize” is a song of cheer and play. The instrumentation is whimsical and frisky, flourished by a harp feature and a theremin leading the melody. It’s so spirited that The Flaming Lips rewrote it as an Oklahoma Thunder fight song named “Thunder Up.”

“Here’s Where the Story Ends” – The Sundays

A personal favorite, and a perfect example of jangle pop from the 1990 record Reading, Writing & Arithmetic. Accompanied by trembling guitars plucked from a Smiths song and a sweet, breezy melody, The Sunday’s leader and vocalist, Harriet Wheeler, leads the pace and emotion of the track with a voice that flips and turns and flutters.

“Sudden Organ” – Yo La Tengo

A jittery, fuzzy thing from Yo La Tengo’s 1993 release Painful, a whole two release before their monumental I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One. This song is a frenzy, filled with noise, pulled on by beefy guitarwork, and finished off with a collapsing, screeching organ solo. Hazy and hectic, but still intimate and melodic.

“All My Little Words” – The Magnetic Fields

From The Magnetic Fields’ enormous 1999 triple album 69 Love Songs, “All My Little Words” is a lovely little song. A declaration of affection accompanied by a warbling banjo line, doubling male-female vocals, and halved by a shimmering, echoing electric guitar solo, this track is kinda sappy and twee, but indie pop goodness all the way. Put this on a mixtape for your crush.

“The Plan” – Built To Spill

One of the eminent indie rock voices of the 90s and now, Built to Spill is known for their front-and-center guitar styling and jamming tendencies. From their 1999 Keep It like a Secret, “The Plan” comes on strong with whipping, layered electric guitars frothing over into a mid-song bash before pulling away for a whispered last verse.

“Like Dylan in the Movies” – Belle and Sebastian

From the very beginnings of Scottish band Belle and Sebastian’s long and laborious career, “Like Dylan in the Movies” is a song chock with interesting composition, not limited to layered vocals, cello backing, two instrumental solos and a glockenspiel lead out. It’s bustling and smooth though with lyrics that are quiet, brooding and half-sinister/half-sweet.

“Movin’ On Up” – Primal Scream

Another Scottish band, Primal Scream sounds like they might be a metal outfit, but they just ain’t. Working somewhere within psychedelic rock and alternative dance, “Movin On Up” is a song of celebration and feel-good grit. Leaning heavily on gospel influences, this song grooves to handclaps and soaring chorals. Fun fact: Featured on the soundtrack to Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

“Bankrupt On Selling” – Modest Mouse

Short and sad, like a slap on the face, “Bankrupt on Selling” is the penultimate track to the 1997 album The Lonesome Crowded West. Lacking percussion, but full of bitterness and bite, something like a bar rant set to guitar, this song will put you down. If you’re looking for something to cry to, this might be it.

 

Pedro O’Haras: A Tale

Wintercold in predatory descent upon Lewiston, ME. Hamfisted polar swell haranguing upon the city with apish destruction and clearblack freeze seizing the roads. Sliding down Main Street goes a dented Volkswagen the color of sharkskin, carrying myself and three of my closest friends (Jack, Zack and Abby), freshly returned to campus, each of us squealing with hunger. The Volkswagen speeding, hangs a sharp roger, back wheels skidding on the ice, into the parking lot of one local Pedro O’Hara’s, Home of L-A’s One and Only Authentic American-Mexican-Irish Dining Experience. We four escape the VW and rush for the door, swing in, stomp the slush from the grooves in our boots, and make our presence known. Table for four? “Yessiree,” says the waitress, dressed in sweats, and corrals us into the O’Hara half of Pedro O’Hara’s: a pubbish place, walls metaled by novelty license plates, sporty decor and memorabilia adorning here and there, TVs buzzing the game at full volume, and a great big bar at nucleus; many lads and lassies circling it. Our waitress seats us into a corner of this space and asks us, “Can I start you guys off with anything?” And we say (executively, hungry), “Yes, Miss Maytruh Dee, how ‘bout some nachos for a band of famished youth?” And she runs off with the order. From our corner, we can observe the scenery of the pub. Many dudes fixing their attentions to the Titans-Chiefs game (yelling, slamming hands, coaching the little figures in the TV screens), couples and gangs chatting, most of the in-pub population somewhere between easy breezy buzzed and blasted despite it being only 7:15. One man approaches (correction: teeters and dodders towards, his recent drinks blushing in his cheeks and blood, a general stink of no-good about him) two ladies seated at a table, splitting nachos, and asks, “Eshcuse me, pahdon me, could I haavve a nasho please?” And the ladies, politely, hand him a nacho and he takes it and eats it and thanks them with great compassion, and then attempts to begin conversation, and everybody privy to this exchange freezes and doesn’t at all know what to do. He stays there, besieging these women, with measly, and not at all charming, chit-chat for a long amount of time. Our waitress returns with our own nachos and glasses of water, which bounce and ripple in the overblown bass of the pub’s speakers. The nachos, though hot and cheesy and fine enough for some hungry bodies, were too few chip, too much olive, and certainly not meal enough for my party. Perusing the menu, one notices that it is halved into Pedro’s (Mexican fare) and O’Hara’s (Irish fixings) and that the restaurant does not serve some sort of freakish Mexican-Irish fusion cuisine in the vein of Guinness-soaked chimichangas or corned beef burritos. We order and wait and watch our surroundings degrade before us. Another man has joined in bothering the two women at the table. The waitress dances poorly with a patron. A skunk-drunk customer drops it low and fails to return to standing position. There is suddenly yelling irrelevant to the game, which is in favor of the Titans. Who knew such chaos wrought in L-A? Our orders arrive and in general, across the table, they’re fine, a solid six-outta-ten. My Reuben sandwich is sort of limp and soggy, like a sock out of the wash, but certainly tasty. Abby’s shepherd’s pie is mostly cheese. Jack’s chimichanga will return to destroy him. Zack finishes his tuna melt and pushes away his plate with a shrug. We leave as soon as we can.

 

Remo Drive’s Greatest Hits delivers a momentous debut

After the Hotelier’s soft transformation from straight emo to a mellower indie rock sound, alternative rock has been in need of a significant emo record. Remo Drive, an emo/pop-punk trio out of Minneapolis, MN, headed by guitarist and lead singer Erik Paulson, succeeds in bringing a revitalizing record, full of the spirit, charm, and vigor.

Lasting only forty minutes, the album is short, but complete, full of variety and energy. At first listen, Remo Drive might resemble The Promise Ring’s accessible pop-emo sound, as well as early 2000’s, Guilt Show era, The Get Up Kids. Jeff Rosenstock also comes to mind and, though Paulson’s vocals are significantly sweeter and perhaps more palatable, they share the same affinity for tight, smart lyricism. Greatest Hits also shows very little adherence to genre, foregoing the twinkly, math rocky complication of strict emo, instead affecting a sound oriented at times towards pop punk, sometimes lighter indie rock, sometimes post-hardcore.

The album opens with “Art School” a fantastic, dynamic track, flipping between bouts of stormy guitar riffs and Paulson’s reaching, aching cries on the chorus. It is lamenting and sentimental, but yet bumping and quirky. Towards the tail of this track, the vocals are dropped and the song devolves into a soft, pattering instrumental transition for “Hunting For Sport,” a heavier, thrashier song. It’s a fine song, but a tad too long, its coda stagnates and dampens rather than ornaments. “Strawberita,” is the best named song of the album, and another standout track, opening with a desperately catchy guitar pattern and channeling into a love song of bitter self-awareness, split by a playful interlude.

“Yer Killing Me” was released as the lead single of the record and for good reason. Of the album, this track holds the most personality, the most moments of sing along anthems, the most memorable lyrics. It’s a prototypical emo song, Paulson sings of heartbreak and disgust, failed attraction and self-destruction, emoting through an especially sardonic, silly chorus, the climax of the album, the moment of magic. While these songs certainly stand on their own, the entire album impresses, holding the whole forty minutes without a significant divot in quality or investment, there is no red-handed weak link in this record.

Not since Jeff Rosenstock’s worry has there been such a shining example of punk without pretension. This album is a great addition to the pop punk canon, an exciting debut and perhaps the best punk album of the year so far. This record is anthemic and proud, its lyrics full of melodrama and misanthropy, its instrumentation thriving and kicking. Sometimes Remo Drive is a little self-indulgent: the tracks saunter on for a few seconds too long, the track titles are ridiculous and the album title, Greatest Hits, is, depending on your outlook, rather smug. But Remo Drive is charming and sappy, young like you and I, its three members just a year either side of twenty.

Despite their youth and relative inexperience (recall, this is their debut) Paulson and friends do an incredible job of breathing life into emo, honoring its shouty sappiness, snarkiness and gruff. Most of all Remo Drive succeeds in making an album that is genuine, emotional, and pleasing. This record is the product of rejection and frustration controlled and cooled, twisted, like blown glass, into something beautiful, fragile, and real.

 

Real Estate makes sure you keep them “In Mind”

In Mind, Real Estate’s fourth studio album, is the product of the band’s newest incarnation. After having split with founding guitarist, Matt Mondanile, the band has picked up Julian Lynch, an accomplished, productive musician in his own right, as their lead guitarist. Also new to the Real Estate lineup is the producer Cole M.G.N, who has worked previously on such projects as Dev Hyne’s Palo Alto OST, as well as Julia Holter’s prestigious 2015 release Have You in My Wilderness, both records diamond-bright with electronic flourish. Whether or not by Cole’s direction, Real Estate has made an interesting shift in their use of audial space, having in the past left conscious room in between their music. In Mind eschews emptiness for texture, every strata of the album filled with synth and sensation.

The album starts off especially strong, beginning with their lead single “Darling,” the most successful synthesis of their new styling. It begins with a sharp, cool synth introduction, giving way to Lynch’s guitar talent. Despite the modifications, Real Estate maintains their singular sound: clean, looping guitars, woven together, riding to lead singer Martin Courtney’s charming, pastoral lyricism. Good or not, In Mind begins with Real Estate’s best and most successful effort. That is not to say the rest of the album is disappointing, but rather, In Mind hits with its hardest earliest, the middle of the album occasionally slacking and dropping in its inspiration.

But it is a fine album with fine songs. The seven-minute movement “Two Arrows” begins as a drowsy march, moving deliberately but dreamily, its back-half fraying into a lush fuzz of synth squeals, reverb and resonance. It gathers sonic momentum and volume but cuts tightly and abruptly into silence, the structure of the song an apparent nod to “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” off of Abbey Road. Following, “Holding Pattern” is the sleaziest, jammiest song on the album, affecting Steely Dan-style guitar patterns, heavy on the ride cymbal, rolling at a pace just a tad faster Real Estate’s languid style of play and performance.

Just as the album began with force, it ends so, with the five-minute, multi-movement “Saturday.” The song begins with a lovely, hesitant piano intro, careful but warm, uncharacteristic of Real Estate’s guitar heavy modus operandi. Soon enough, however, the band returns to its old tricks: dueling guitars file in, and then a rhythm, supplementing but not overpowering the piano. At two minutes, the song kicks into pace, regretfully dropping the piano, transforming into a surf rock song, strumming and chuffing.

If there is any sort of thematic presence to this record, it would be an awareness of space and surrounding, both in the music as well as the lyricism.

As mentioned before, this album does the most to create landscapes of sound, full and stereo, focusing on encapsulation. There is a clean richness to this album unheard in the Real Estate discography. In the record’s lyrics, Courtney focuses most intently on the natural space around him, making mentions of the birds (“black and yellow finches”), plants and weather (“six AM rain”) that make him feel most at ease. In context, this makes sense: Courtney has left New York City to raise a family upstate.

Perhaps this is Courtney rationalizing his change of scenery, coming to ease with domesticity. But despite settling down, there is no sense of defeatism or stagnation but, rather, expectancy for good to come.

 

Fifty Shades Darker confuses and bewilders

You, reading this, are young and taut, enduring of stress and substance. You enjoy the sensation of self-destruction: the slick burn of a cigarette, the hot dissolve of a shot down the gullet. Is this you? Do you enjoy fast food? Empty calories, trans fat, the sick sweet of high fructose corn syrup? If you do enjoy this, taking your body and mind, subjecting it to psychological and physiological obstacle, then you should watch Fifty Shades Darker, the middle film of the Fifty Shades trilogy.

It is a ridiculous film, with a ridiculous conception (recall this to be the multi-million dollar adaptation of an online fanfiction) and a poorly written, incredibly lame script. If this script were a live animal it would be a limping raccoon, crawling out of an overturned trash can, a dumb expression on its thoughtless face. The script is a war crime, a real atrocity committed against humankind. This film joins a long list of incredibly destructive American inventions like the M2 .50 caliber machine gun, the self-guided surface-to-surface ICBM, Agent Orange. This film is the reason people around the world burn the American flag. It’s films like this that make me sympathetic to fascism. An authoritarian regime would have never let this happen. This movie is perhaps morally corrosive.

Here are some events that happen within the film: a half dozen scenes of kink and romp synchronized to Soundcloud trap beats; Anastasia Steele (played by the very pretty, enduringly charming Dakota Johnson) kicks a man in the crotch; Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan, admirably handsome, enviably fit) survives a helicopter crash; one very loud and startling gunshot; the audience learns what nipple clamps are; a scene with some spanking; Christian Grey does a prolonged shirtless handstand; a Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream plug.

Things I liked: Dakota Johnson’s bangs; the phrase “sex dungeon” used more than once; Zayn Malik and Taylor Swift collaborate on a single that isn’t as good as Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me Like You Do” but is this still pretty good, regardless; wine is thrown at faces.

This movie is sometimes a porno, sometimes a drama, sometimes a romantic comedy. It is very pastiche, one might be able to argue that the film is a postmodern masterpiece: ironic, involved, knowing and capable of all the stupid tricks it pulls. I do not think that is the case however; I think it is a goofy, tacky movie with funny writing and so-so acting.

The movie is not difficult to understand or watch, and besides a few moments of especially painful dialogue, the film goes by rather easily. It is a dumb movie, unbelievably so, but it is at least self-aware. It knows what it is doing and sometimes it is very funny. You have to enter this sort of thing with little to no expectation, perhaps a little intoxicated, and just learn to enjoy the stupid things some people do with a boatload of cash and film equipment.

If somebody were to pull a gun on me and touch the barrel to my temple, demanding that I see Fifty Shades Darker, I would acquiesce, but I would not see this movie again under my own will and want. It was a kind of fun thing I did once and will never do again, but if you like putting out matches with your fingers and waking up with hangovers then you might like this movie.

 

Exit the King delivers a thought provoking performance

I am given a program and enter the Black Box Theater, which is smaller than I imagined, but indeed a “black box.” Its walls are painted with a thick, inky gloss. The lights – cannon shaped – radiate heat and light unto the set of the play – three thrones – assorted other chairs. Light also falls onto a standing guard, Samuel Findlen-Golden ’20, who is looking around with these wide startling eyes and holding a spear, but the head is actually a cake knife. It is all very disorienting. I just want to sit down. I do.

I notice the set, which is very impressive and interesting and presents an atmosphere of decay, a central theme of the play. Who designed it? Oh, her name is Flannery. O’Connor. No, you dunce, read the page: Black-Ingersoll. Flannery Black-Ingersoll ’19. Beautiful set design Flannery. Bravo. I love those mirror shards, the sweep of red velvet across the back wall, the white sheer creeping the way of the audience, which is small but attentive. Beside me are my friends who are giggling and red. I am giggling too now.

Some sort of operatic piece has been playing for some minutes now and I am only hearing it now, a soprano’s tame and trembling howl. Listen to that vibrato, muchacho. Incredible. It is cutting out now, the lights are beginning to dim, and the soldier stands in the receding light, wild eyes catching what is left of the departing atmosphere. The curtain rises. There is no curtain. The show begins? It is always hard to tell when life ends and art begins.

The guard is suddenly yelling. That is something that sort of continues, the yelling. The actors and actresses all yell with such irreverence, with intent to disorient and confuse. It is very psychological. It is kind of silly. All of the actors enter, the play begins. It is director Charlotte Cramer ’19, watching from a corner, observing her work.

Exit The King is silly and horrific and simultaneously melodramatic and bleak. It falls within the Theater of the Absurd. The script rhymes and reasons with itself solely and not the audience’s expectations. It is very funny, but always very startling. It is incredibly well written.

Similar to the yelling, there is a lot of rather visceral noise and touch. I recall Queen Marie, played by Claire Sullivan ’18, slapping an electrical box in a way that actually frightened me. Things similar to that.

Somebody is laughing at every joke made (there are lots of jokes made) and I am starting to wonder if she were planted in the audience by the director, as a sort of pro-laughter agitator. She is laughing with such heavy pronunciation, like a gun salute: huh-huh-huh. I am laughing too now. I do not think at her; I would like to imagine I was not so cruel.

The end is sad and stares you in your frightened sockets. It is genuine, stare-into-the-abyss sort of terror. You would think that we, as an age group, a young generation, would not be able to so acutely portray that sort of horror but the Robinson Players do so, wonderfully. Much of that capability, rested on Michael Driscal ’19, the rambling, dying king, who provided so much of the confusion and fear of the play. Other notables: Julia Gutterman ’20, who delivered her lines and character with a lovely deadpan and Justin Demers ’18, who portrayed the Doctor and did so with wit. Bravo.

The play ends. I am happy to have been there.

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Doors

I. A girl walks out of Commons and presses the handicap button with one of her free hands. She is not holding anything that might inhibit her from opening the door and she is apparently able. The door opens on command, as it was designed to do. The girl walks through the open door and presses the button a second time, making sure the second door stays open so she can walk through without impediment. She exits the building and walks into the rest of her life. None of this makes any sense to me and I hold my head in absolute bewilderment and scream.

II. When kicking a door in you should first examine the material and construction of the door. If the door is wooden, then you are golden. If it is metal, you should return with a thermite charge or some other small explosive. When kicking a door in you should pay special attention to the weak points built into the door: the hinges and just below the knob. Stand yourself in front of the door and prepare yourself for the shock of foot to door. Bring your knee up and then extend your lower leg with all your force into the door. The door should then separate from its frame and hinges, allowing access into wherever it is you are going. You may also attempt a running jump kick, which is much more badass.

III. If somebody were to exhume a cadaver and slump it against the door (at Commons), the cadaver would successfully open the door with the weight of its dead, unanimated body. If a dog has enough bulk and initiative it could easily rear onto its hind legs and paw the door open. If I were to ride a bicycle with enough speed into the door (helmet on, of course) I think I would be able to bump open the door. It is all so simple, it is all so effortless. Why force a machine to do it for you?

IV. I once saw a man dangling three bottles of champagne between his fingers and what looked like a full rack of a ribs (St. Louis style) on a ceramic platter. He stopped at a door and looked it up and down with puzzlement. He turned around and brought his knee up and then kicked his heel into the door like a donkey. He shouted “Yo, watch out!” and then walked backwards through the door. Everybody was impressed.

V. My mother worked at a department store in her young adulthood. She arrived to work late one day and walked quickly through the parking lot and towards the front sliding doors. She told me she did not remember what she was thinking when it happened, but she arrived at the doors with too little caution and walked into the door face first. She broke her nose.

VI. Because you can does not mean you should. The world and its many people are vulnerable. They do not want to be taken advantage of or misused. Everything has a purpose, fills a niche. The bird whistles its matin. The squirrel scurries and collects. The handicap button opens the door for people who have trouble opening the door. Do not rob the button of its purpose. Do not diminish its purpose. Just open the door with your hands.

 

Sankofa

Sankofa is a word from the Twi language spoken by the Ashanti people of Ghana that translates to English as “return and fetch it,” but also referring to a much longer proverb: it is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten. The word can also be expressed as a glyph within the Ashanti Adinkra tradition of symbol-making as a stylized heart or as a bird in forward motion, reaching behind with an egg held in its beak. These signifiers all refer to the idea of return and recollection, reflection on the past as to learn for the future. Sankofa means that whatever has been lost or forgotten or left can be revived and brought to light; from bringing past to present one can learn to advance armed with knowledge and knowing. Sankofa, in all its forms and manifestations, exists currently in the United States as an important symbol of African-American introspection and the shared name of organizations across America meant to bring enlightenment of black culture.

Our very own chapter presents Testimonies in Melanin Magic, a multimedia exploration of the wake of African diaspora, here and abroad. The show is a collection of performances, both live and recorded, taking shape as spoken word, acted skit, a capella, dance and documentary. The show winds through about twelve vignettes focusing on the many facets of black living. Live skits confront the nuances and challenges faced by the African-American community, ranging from hair to hate. A student dance samples the many forms of Afro inspired music, styling and dance. Between segments, an unseen narrator reflects on the pieces while introducing commentary and thought into the show. The whole thing reads as wholly conscious, all aware of the good and bad known to black men and women worldwide. You, as an audience member, are given a real glimpse into lives not your own, lives very different and far.

As much as Bates brings the show to life, a sizable portion of the content is recorded and imported. Some of the show’s high points do not belong to the students or performers or anybody in the room, but to the distant creators of the visual works (these are several small documentary pieces and poetry readings). It’s an odd feeling. These pieces are fine and bring attention to the issues meant to be exposed, but at the price of outsourcing. But again, it is better to have than to have not.

The show is indeed an exploration. A look into the artistic manifestations of the African diaspora. The show presents itself as aware, in the most painful way. The whole thing begins with an exposé of the danger of living in America. The most repugnant memories of brutality and violence in this country are refreshed with a dark, silent video. The student performers walk onto stage, in voiceless recognition and solidarity, fists raised. So sets the tone of the performance: knowing, wincing, angry. Despite it all, the fear and algesia, light shines through. Humor and energy sparkle in the hollow darkness. Energy does not leave. Happiness does not either. The idea of Sankofa lives freely and brightly, reminding one and all, that there are lessons in the past and life (precious, gracious life) in the future.

 

I am a large athlete, allow me to explain my paper cup use

Hey, what’s up bro. I just got back from lifting. I’m wicked thirsty. Absolutely parched beyond saving. I am as dry as a lunar mare. I need some electrolytes, bro. Bro, I need some electrolytes. I am desperately hypertonic. No bro, get that efficient and reusable plastic cup away from me. I don’t care how long I’ve had to adjust my habits to my environment – begone with that cup. Bro, I need something slightly bigger for my massive and dexterous hands. My hands are hubcap large; they have their own postal codes, coordinatures. The average twelve-ounce plastic cup will disappear in the wasteland of my palm.

These hands (these instruments) are too full of vigor and strength. I need something bigger, in the 14-16 oz. range, more suited to my Herculean athletic frame. Your average plastic cup will shatter under the elephantic power of my digits; I am a human hydraulic press. I need a cup with give; something that will mold to the influence of these incredible, masculine paws. Bro, I am in dire need of a paper cup. My hydration depends on it. Wait, bro, what? These cups are intended as to-go carriers for hot drinks? The vox populi is pleading for the reduction of paper cup use? How dare they. I am a throbbing beacon of male virility. My body is a chuffing, pulsating machine: I need to fuel it, maintain it, regulate it. I need my liquids in tight, logistical order. I am the modern Tantalus. These lips can only touch reinforced paper. I cannot drink from any other cup; this is my grail. You ever seen that Indiana Jones movie bro? Remember when the guy drinks from what he thinks is the grail but then the knight says “you chose poorly” and he withers away to a lifeless husk? That’ll happen to me if I ever drink from a plastic cup.

I ran some numbers. I use two of these paper cups a day, four hundred or so a year. I probably use more. Sometimes I need to double-cup. I need the double-cup for the double-dose of ‘Rade, you dig? This body (this feat of engineering) needs to double-cup on the odd occasion, once in a new moon or blue moon or whatever.

May I empty this contoured head of mine? Bro, may I philosophize? Listen to this paradox: I will sit at the table closest to the fountains, which would allow me the most ease when refilling a regular sized cup, but I will use this paper cup so I won’t have to get up as many times, compromising the utility of my position. You’d think for an econ major I’d understand utility. It’s pretty wicked, bro. Bro.

Watch me drink out of this paper cup. You are watching me spread myself across the face of this earth, consuming, reaching like an oil spill. Can you contain me? This powder blue button-down and khaki combination certainly cannot. Watch me proliferate. Watch me violate. Watch me exploit. Watch me wither forests and drain rivers. Watch me replace the essence of the natural world with my own. I will strangle Gaia, mother goddess, to submission with my full, calloused man-hands. I am master of bodies: mine and all others. I will dominate this Earth one cup at a time.

 

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