Category CULTURE

KD Interviewed

A few months ago, we were fortunate enough to sit down with Kevin Devine.

Listen in to to hear some wise words from an honest, thoughtful, and well-read artist.

INSIDERS CRITIQUE GREEK LIFE

Written by a TCNJ fraternity member and a TCNJ sorority member, who asked to remain anonymous.

The Greek philosopher Epicurus, whose legacy has survived since 270 BCE, believed that he had the secret to attaining and maintaining happiness. While volumes of Epicurus’ works have been lost over the years, his philosophies continue to influence the collective consciousness today, guiding people like ourselves who want nothing more from life than to be happy. Current TCNJ students who find themselves unhappy here often join one of the College’s Greek organizations. Although it is not acknowledged overtly, many people believe joining will bring them a few steps closer to the happiness we all seek. We may shed light on the pros and cons of fraternalism by comparing and contrasting it with Epicureanism, a school of thought in which Greek life may find its roots.

IN DEFENSE OF TENURE, FOR NOW

I understand why tenure is such a sore point when it comes to discussing educational reform. In what sensible system would a dysfunctional cog be not only preserved but guaranteed repeated raises and benefits? How does anyone, no matter the system, advocate for the oiling and reoiling of outdated, ill-fitted pieces? How could one possibly argue for tenure, especially with so many “bad teachers” ruining our kids and the future of America as we know it?

EDUCATION & RELIGIOSITY

A Michigan Institute for Social Research study found that education majors are the likeliest of any college demographic group to become more religious within six years of graduating high school. The institution determined religiosity based on rates of participation in religious services, as well as how important a role respondents said religion played in their lives.

New Alternative Rappers

Wiz Khalifa, Photo by theurbandaily.com

 

 

Wiz Khalifa’s debut hit, “Black and Yellow,” does not sound much like other hip-hop singles on the radio right now. There is no Auto-Tune, no Pitbull guestspot, no club that can’t handle the Pittsburgh-based MC. Khalifa’s aesthetic is one that was pervasive in mainstream hip-hop at the start of the 2000s, when up-and-comers like The Game and Ludacris were scoring with gritty singles more representative of their abilities as rappers than pandering to any crossover audience. Back then, the Internet was just beginning to play a major role in the development of new artists. Today, a whole new group of alternative rappers led by Khalifa are just beginning to break into the game using online mixtapes and hip-hop blogs as their weapons of choice.

Pondering ‘Prog’ – The Tea Club

It seems as if the band is considered progressive rock by default: if there is no way to compartmentalize their music into an existing genre, it is conveniently sorted into this collection bin of odds and ends. Progressive rock, then, could not be an easy scene to get into — in defying classification, it should be difficult to know what makes a band peg themselves as ‘prog’, which may ultimately be all that holds it together as a genre.

This label could simply designate various strange novelties in music, but may indicate more than what is missing in the giant canopy of rock’s pre-established music scene. A sense of the ineffable qualities that hold a band in the progressive rock genre might be glimpsed between what a few members of this Barrington-based band had to say about music.

Pine Ridge Poverty

Pine Ridge, a Native American reservation in South Dakota, is one of the poorest places in the Western Hemisphere:

A Lakota on Pine Ridge receives on average $3,700 annually from the tribal trust fund, less than an American citizen receiving welfare.

National unemployment rate is at ~10%.

Unemployment in Pine Ridge is at ~90%.

Alcoholism rates in Pine Ridge are over 80%.

Life expectancy at Pine Ridge is 47 years for men and 54 years for women, second lowest in the Western Hemisphere only to Haiti.

There is one dilapidated supermarket for roughly 45,000 residents on Pine Ridge, far southwest in a corner of the reservation, inaccessible to most. A middle-aged old man with skin the color of the earth and weathered beyond his years, stands beside the entrance to a memorial of his ancestors at Wounded Knee. It was here that the resistance and dream of his people died in 1890, when over 350 Oglala Lakota men, women, and children were massacred by the U.S. 7th Calvary. He tells us this story, and at its conclusion asked for a few dollars; he does this with dignity, yet it seems an activity he is accustomed to. He needs the money to pay for a two-hour, out-of-state drive to the nearest supermarket — a Wal-Mart in Nebraska — for enough food to last a few weeks, and then he will once again begin saving for the trip.

ATHEIST: Put Religion in Public Schools

The Pew Forum’s recent study detailing the abysmal religious literacy demonstrated by most Americans is disturbing, but not at all surprising. The smear campaign waged against Muslims over the past few months has been a painful reminder of how–especially in a country where gross ignorance of religion is the norm–opportunistic blowhards can easily manipulate matters of alleged supernatural significance. With vast majorities unable to correctly answer even the most basic questions about Islam, for example, is it any wonder that an innocuous Islamic center in Lower Manhattan could spur so much misinformation and hysteria?

LGBT Thoughts

Recently, news of Tyler Clementi’s suicide has pervaded most media. The circumstances surrounding his death, as well as his youth and promise, add to the tragedy of his unfortunate choice. We should mourn Tyler fully, use his story as a lesson, and perhaps, in the future, think before we act. It must be understood at the outset that this article is not intended to undermine this heartbreaking incident. However, the omnipresence of Tyler’s story is an opportune catalyst by which I may air a thought that has been on my mind for some time. It is simply this: gay men receive much more attention than gay women. Anyone who has friends or a computer knows about Tyler. But how many readers have heard about Carol and Laura Stutte?

The Stuttes are a lesbian couple from Vonore, TN, and their house burned down in early September 2010. An article detailing the incident appeared on wate.com, and stated that the couple believed the fire was arson – more precisely, a hate crime. This belief seems justified; the word “QUEERS” was spray-painted on their garage, and in August the couple had complained to the police of harassment from their neighbor. The article says the neighbor “threatened to kill them and burn down their house.” It was by sheer luck that no one was home that night; the couple had been too fearful to return to their property. There has been no follow-up story on the police investigation. More details on the story can be found on wate.com, but suffice it to say, this was a serious, intentional, and violent hate crime that went entirely unnoticed.

Photo by Bob Fowler/News Sentinel

To be sure I wasn’t the only person in the dark on the Stutte’s story, I typed their names into Google trends, which uses keywords to produce line graphs showing the history and frequency with which those words were searched on Google (or bar graphs showing which countries searched those terms the most, and in which languages.)  Now, allow me to give some perspective – if you type “cat banana” into the search bar, you get a fair amount of information; the first searches for “cat banana” start in late 2008 (a stressful year, I imagine) and then stop almost immediately. They do not appear again until early 2009, and those terms have been searched with relative frequency ever since – mostly within the Philippines. Type in “Tyler Clementi” to Google trends, and you will see a huge search spike in recent weeks. Type in “Carol Stutte” or “Laura Stutte” or “Carol and Laura Stutte,” and Google trends will tell you it has too little data to form a graph.

I’m happy for the attention that the LGBT community gets, no matter how it is skewed. Social change sometimes takes baby steps. However, I would hope that members within the community would take measures to rectify this obvious inequity. And then, perhaps in the future, no one will have to point out the obvious irony of unequal attention within a movement fighting for equal rights.

BY SARAH STRYKER

The Cold Lore

My fascination with Antarctica always struck me as a strange, random blip of an interest—something that I was drawn to for no apparent reason. I viewed it as a divergent fascination, separated from my other passions and pastimes — an isolated hobby of sorts that didn’t necessarily fit into the rest of my life; or, if I was feeling a bit new-agey, perhaps an inkling of a past, more adventurous life. Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton’s journals kept me up nights, a map of the barren white continent has remained taped to my wall for years now, and every few months I inevitably end up on various websites, researching future employment possibilities down South—real South.

One Nation March

Fighting for What’s Right (and Against the Right)

There are not many opportunities in a lifetime when a person’s hope for humanity is restored. When trapped in a hailstorm of bigotry, hate speech, political and corporate greed, and bla- tant media lies, it becomes difficult to hope to be rescued from the quicksand. In a society willing to spend more on locking up the bodies of youths than on educating and opening minds, this generation is growing disillusioned with contemporary polity. It is easy to feel like a small, garbled voice lost in the furor of a bustling city and lose the motivation to fight back.

On October 2nd, tens of thousands of small voices turned into a voice greater than could be imagined (or, at the very least, greater than the voices of Glenn Beck’s rally!).

The One Nation Working Together march was a rally of thousands — of unions, organizations, and student groups —

marching to put America back to work, demanding good jobs, equal justice, and quality public education for all. Despite this main goal, the vision of the march was whatever the attend- ees made of it. Topics from LGBTQ rights to Palestinian lib- eration were displayed on the myriad signs of the marchers.

It’s never too late to stand up and fight the Right. With a voice as powerful as the one that bellowed on October 2nd, I don’t doubt that victory lies in our future. We come from all ethnic backgrounds, faiths or non-faiths, sexual orientations, gen- der identities, nationalities, races, immigration statuses and abilities; and we demand a society of equality — a society with liberty and justice for ALL, not some. Stand up now and fight for full equality — liberty and justice not for some, but for all.

BY NAT SOWINSKI

Homecoming: An Insider Perspective

An overwhelming depression accompanies the end of Homecoming. Members of Greek life prefer to attribute this phenomenon to the return to normal life; but let’s be real, everyone knows it’s the startling lack of alcohol in their system.

Homecoming is an escape; everyone involved in this week of debauchery and mayhem is simply reliving his or her childhood.

Music in 2010

First and foremost, 2010 is proving to be a big comeback year for hip-hop. Last year had its fair share of memorable singles, but ultimately failed to deliver in the album department. But hell, when even Rick Ross is putting out a critically acclaimed album (check out Teflon Don!) you know the genre must be enjoying good times.

Hip-Hop Revival

Leading the pack so far are a couple of old standbys: Eminem and Big Boi — and what isn’t there to say about Big Boi’s solo debut? Mathers’ intractable “Yo I’ve been through a lot but I’m still here” mantra doesn’t break new ground, but Recovery has been adept at recapturing the interest of old fans who had been let down by 2009’s Relapse. The OutKast MC’s Sir Lucious Left Foot, Son of Chico Dusty was more than a reworking of Speakerboxx/The Love Below; it was a revelation, a much-delayed, much-hyped product that managed to hold relevance away from its gaudy backstory once it saw the light of day.

This is neither the time nor place to carp that Antwan Patton’s “Shutterbug” has not been all over the radio, but no other genre-borrowing rapper makes quite the journey he does into outside realms before coming home to his Southern roots. Patton’s record has been handed stellar reviews from the likes of The Village Voice, Allmusic.com, and Spin. Finally, if you want to dig deeper into hip-hop’s long list of summer successes, pick up the debuts from Indiana rapper Freddie Gibbs, EP STr8 Killa and its outstanding mixtape Str8 Killa No Filla, and K.R.I.T. Wuz Here from Atlanta MC Big K.R.I.T. [King Remembered in Time].

Irish Indie Love

If you’re an indie rock fan, chances are you maybe might have heard that there’s a new Arcade Fire record. And it’s kind of good. (It did debut at number one in the US, the UK, and Canada. And Ireland.) The Suburbs does hold up surprisingly well over a staggering sixteen tracks, whether or not it surpasses Funeral. The Montreal torchbearers tactfully refine their old standards rather than stumble through unnatural ones – featuring unabashed Springsteen worship on “Month of May,” unabashed emoting on “Sprawl II,” and plenty of “us against the world” lyrical themes.

While Arcade Fire further established themselves as an indie standard, Brooklyn duo Sleigh Bells is the new buzz band that most penetrated the blogosphere. This male-female tandem of Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss delivered with Treats, a collection of pop songs for the recession era — homemade or low-budget sounding but infectious and, well, noisy enough to cause a stir. On the singles front, of the summery buzz bands, Best Coast delivered with “Boyfriend,” and The Drums with “Let’s Go Surfing.”

Soulful Stunner

Perhaps the summer’s most genre-bending success was Janelle Monaé, a pop/R&B/everything-in-between singer based in Kansas City. On her debut, the 25-year-old Monae pulls innovation from eccentrics like M.I.A. at her creative peak (read: not Maya) blended with ’80s Prince. It may also prove to be the only album in history to feature Big Boi and Of Montreal.

On the pop front, the charts were predictably dominated by more genre-conglomerates and guest spots, with considerably less acumen. For instance, a perfectly good David Guetta single, “Getting Over You,” was strapped with a pair of dumbbells, LMFAO and Fergie, on its way to Top 40 success.  However, there were a few Top 40 highlights; “Mine” further proved Taylor Swift to be one cool lady, and “Misery” made it cool to like Maroon 5, however nonchalantly, to the point of not caring. On the topic of not caring, the two most played songs on Z100 appear to both involve Pitbull. Never mind, let’s gear up for fall.

BY CHRIS PAYNE

Factory Girl Talk

Think of Girl Talk—the stage name of mash-up mastermind Greg Gillis—as modern music’s Andy Warhol. Both are ardent recycle-ists: Warhol turned soup cans into Fine Art; Girl Talk turns other artists’ songs into his own. Both are willing to undermine an ideal of authenticity: Warhol would let people impersonate and even sign for him if he didn’t want to show up at a gallery; Girl Talk makes almost no original sounds of his own, yet he puts his name on his mash-up albums. But most importantly, both are firmly rooted Pop artists, and yet both consistently question what it means to be Pop.

Part of this means that both artists allow for multiple interpretations: some say Warhol was fully embracing low-brow Americana, like Brillo Boxes, while others say he was ridiculing it, using repetition to emphasize absurdity. Similarly, it’s easy to understand Girl Talk on many levels: is he celebrating all pop music, or is he juxtaposing lesser works with unimpeachable songs for implicit criticism?

But of course Girl Talk, like Warhol, is much more than a series of simple juxtapositions. Gillis has declined to offer any central or guiding theme in any of his work, except to say that he is a “pop music enthusiast.” Instead, each of his songs is not only original, but also unique in message. Some of his sampling is pure celebration of good pop music from many eras (as in “Smash Your Head,” the instant classic of Night Ripper, with Notorious BIG’s “Juicy” over Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer”). This includes bringing yesterday’s hits to younger listeners, reminding older listeners of forgotten gems, and allowing everyone to relish in universally beloved hits. In fact, Gillis admits, “It’s important that you can recognize all the elements. The whole basis of the music is that people have these emotional attachments to these songs—whether they love it or hate it. Being able to manipulate that is a really easy way to connect with people.” *

Yet, in complete contrast, some of his songs are subliminally political, almost neutering chauvinist rappers by giving them “emasculating” backgrounds (as in Feed the Animals’ “No Pause,” in which Eminem’s club-sex rant is made silly in front of Yael Naim’s “New Soul”). Still other songs work in a different way, elevating the banal, crude, or more lowbrow in pop to the level of more critically hailed works, by giving them new background beats, or removing vocals, or repeating lyrical loops over and over. But all of his music does serve one mission: the exploration of new pop possibilities, by making music that amounts to much more than the sum of its parts.

What makes Girl Talk great, though, is expressed not in words in phrases, but in dance. With entirely sampled, diverse material, he has made cohesive albums that bring genres — and people — together. He makes commercial music cool, and he makes cool music commercial. Because his music is simultaneously so rhythmic and capricious, people who like “My Humps” and people who like The Band can find something to listen to and agree on, especially with crossovers like Jackson 5 rippling throughout.
*(From an interview with Pitchfork.com)

Hippie House

I am seated cross-legged on a tapestry rug. There is a hole in my left sock. The hole serves as an escape route for my big toe. My big toe curls towards a discarded composition book with a bent cover. The book cover’s pho-marble surface catches the shadow of a hooka stem. The hooka stem snakes around a pensive circle of bodies. The bodies are wedges together in the cracks of a futon, a love seat that has seen better days, and two overstuffed arm chairs. Behind the furniture are four walls. The four walls carry art. Each art piece bleeds together at its respective edges, forming one overwhelming scene of rats, long-haired boys, trees, neon globs, and bears with halos.

The kaleidoscopic scene holds up the ceiling, which, at the moment, appears to be made of smoke.

This is not your typical college home. Nor is this your typical college gathering. Tonight I am a guest of the Hippie House, one of TCNJ’s little-known off campus residences. Members of the house are hosting one of their weekly get-togethers – a poetry reading. Etiquette is simple: come prepared to recite or listen. I plan on reading a passage from a book by Roland Barthes. Other selections on the itinerary include The Raw Shark Text, a journal entry entitled “Room 314” and an essay called “Good Noses.”

“Good Noses” is written by Philosophy major Steve Klett. Klett is one of the house’s current occupants. Klett moved into the house in August of 2008. Prior to August, Klett lived in the College’s dorms. When asked what prompted him to relocate, Klett states “I felt daft. I forget what that word means but it seems to fit. There comes a time in which the rooster needs to fly from the coop and the chick needs to leave the nest. I was, you know, looking for a room of my own, to quote Virginia Woolf.”

Klett occupies one bedroom. The remaining two tenants are Greg Letizia and Leandre Bourdot. Bourdot is a Fine Arts major. Her creations take up a large portion of the dwelling.
Presently, she sits in a corner, penning ink drawings for a bookmaking class. Bordot claims that becoming a part of the Hippie House has been both a hindrance and a source of stimulation for her work. Glancing around the tightly packed room, she confides, “There are mornings when everything together is inspiring and there are also mornings where everything plays off each other and becomes stagnant.”
As for Letizia, he has taken a leave of absence from the College.

Nevertheless, he remains an avid writer, often reciting typewriter compositions via a voice distortion box. Out of all of the occupants, Letizia is the most elusive of the bunch. I ask him what the credo of the house is. Maybe it is because of a recent screening of Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland,” but as Letizia speaks, he begins to resemble the smug, jargon-littered Caterpillar. Steam issuing from his nostrils, blue-tinted glasses perched on his nose, Letizia muses, “The essence of the place is the essence of the place and the goal is the goal. It is a place for I to be I.”

The overall ambiguous quality of the Hippie House is perhaps what attracts students to it. The crowd that frequents social events like Poetry Night range anywhere from five to eighteen people. Stationed amidst these individuals, I feel mellow and in same measure, completely absurd. Snippets of conversations filter into my ears. On the surface, topics are similar to that of most young people. Visitors tonight talk about:
Books,
(“That is completely convoluted in its contingency.”)
partying too hard,
(“Hey, I think I left my crown at your house the other night.”)
and music.
(“Could you hand me that singing bowl?”)
However, as illustrated, if you listen closely, discrepancies appear.

Ken Kesey, leader of the Merry Pranksters, asserted that “you are either on the bus or off the bus.” By coming to the house, I am choosing to embark on the ride. I believe it is for worthy reasons too. Some partial cynics (me included) may claim that sixties youth counterculture is officially dead, dissipated by the absolution of the political and social issues of its heyday.

Still, within the house there exists a smaller, equally valid resistance against the sameness of suburban college life. No one wears TCNJ sweats and Uggs. Of course, it wouldn’t be a problem if you did. Apparel choices are never judged.

In fact, clothing itself is considered optional.

Breaking News: No Free Will!

Wednesday, International Union of Sociochemistry representative Daryl Wayne announced that free will is merely an illusion. The president of the renown organization urged the public to remain calm, adding that people need not panic if they find they cannot control their response to this scientific breakthrough.

“Thoughts,” Wayne declared at the annual conference,“are simply chemical reactions in our brains, and humans have been acting out a predetermined chain of sociochemical events since they first came to be.”

According to the New Jersey State Police, since Wednesday’s announcement, incidents of criminal activity and tomfoolery have sharply risen.

“I was just walking down the street, when a man approached me, tore off his pants, and began to jump up and down in a humping motion,” one anonymous woman informed The Perspective. Reports also indicate that the man was saying “unntz unntz unntz” as he harassed at least a dozen other Ewing citizens late Wednesday evening.

Witness Sarah Smith incredulously added that there was no camera crew. Neither Johnny Knoxville nor Bam Margera could be reached for comment.

Riots have also broken out on two different fronts.

One group of demonstrators has formed near the entrance of the International Union of Sociochemistry headquarters in Trenton touting WWJD gear and signs reading messages such as “Helaman 14:30,” “Free My Will,” and “Your Mom is Predetermined”; one participant’s sign read caustically, “Did You Predetermine This, Asshole?”

One woman, incensed by the implications this news has on the existence of a Judeo-Christian God, captured the crowd’s sentiments with a pointed question, “Without free will where does peoples’ accountability go? What does this mean for good and evil?”

The other party of protesters, described as donning tie-dyed shirts and smelling of marijuana, has begun peaceful protests in front of the U.S. Department of Justice. The Perspective reporter on the field has reported rally cries such as, “Hell no, we can’t go!” and “Together we stand; together we fight; we have no choice but to demand our rights!”

One young man at the rally told our correspondent, “I knew I wasn’t to blame for my unemployment and drug habits; if we don’t have control over our actions, we shouldn’t be forced to suffer from their consequences.”
Others at the gathering demanded that relatives or loved ones be set free from jail, reasoning that, without free will, the prisoners couldn’t be blamed for their actions—they were merely victims of circumstance.

When asked about how he planned to respond to the International Union of Sociochemistry’s statement, which effectively decreed all human behavior inculpable, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder maintained that law will continue to be enforced as usual; Holder cited his own lack of volition as reason for deciding so.

As of now, the fate of mankind is uncertain: with doubt cast upon the existence of God and peoples’ newfound immunity to blame, some are desperately grasping at the straws of morality, seeking out the few morsels left untouched by this pivotal discovery. Based on the current rate of society’s disintegration, some sociologists project that by late 2012, society as we know it will collapse upon itself.

Trial and Error: A Solution Four Thousand Years in the Making

“THESE are the times that try men’s souls.”
–Thomas Paine

Having written so on the eve of the American Revolution, Thomas Paine was right – those were times that tried men’s souls. Nevertheless, when you consider the almighty, objectively infallible bigger picture, his words are misleading. Peoples’ souls have always been tried; they’re being tried right now. All of the times are the times that try men’s souls.

The astounding fact of the matter is that, in this modern age, we’re not so much being tried by a callous and indecisive nature – we’re being tried by our own embittered and faltering peers.

So if you should still desire happiness, gender-neutral reader, you would do well to go live in a box. Best to be alone in the truest sense – sitting blindfolded, with earplugs in, duct tape over your mouth, and naught but your pulse to play with.

Of course, that’s just the ideal solution – it’s fairly impractical, when you get right down to the heart of it. If ever you had to remove the duct tape – and you would have to – it would more than likely flay your skin. The earplugs would chafe your ear canals. The blindfold would keep you from seeing the time. Your box would eventually rot away, and then what would you do? Get another box? Nice boxes are not so easy to come by.

The more pragmatic solution – on pain of death, we should stop smiling. We’re already on our way.

If you take even a cursory glance at human history, it would soon become clear that, while we have had our momentary successes, on the whole, we have not gotten along all too well – in fact, success itself has been at times the very instrument of our undoing. At the risk of belaboring Aesop’s fable, as a species, we are wolves; as individuals, we are wolves in poorly tailored, unconvincing
sheep costumes.

You’re a wolf, and I’m a wolf. We both know it, but neither of us will admit it. So we dance until one of us eats the other, only to realize that sheep costumes don’t make wolf meat taste like flanks of lamb. We are shrewd and unhappy rogues.

But it’s not all bad.

A closer look at human history will reveal a stark dichotomy.
Compared to the present, the past is a lame piece of soggy bread. We’re good – at least compared to the thousands of years of brutal butchery, artless oppression, and spilled milk. Trying times indeed.

Apparently, then, we’ve done something right. Regardless of what atrocities have happened in the past, then, this gives us a definitive solution to the problem of strife: Stay the course.

In the interest of tomorrow, keep your jollies to yourself.

We ought to continue to stigmatize and ignore our peers – their friendliness must only be a front for poison and guile. We should persist in provoking drama, fanning the flames with an acid breath, watching the sparks catch. Indeed, lets judge away; the world is our domain to define, discriminate, denounce. Let no man, woman, or child be safe from our cold and arbitrary antagonisms. Melodrama, the plague of the prosperous, must ferment and burst out as an inflammatory plague, turning social life political. Bitchiness must continue to break life down into a fetid mire of stagnant sludge.

We must take everything with the utmost Siberian seriousness, asserting beliefs as positive truths, opinions as facts; no mistake is forgivable, no transgression forgettable.

More than anything, heed the following:
It is imperative that we take everything personally. It’s raining on our parade; poor drainage was put in place by cosmic forces to unmake our hubris in some small way. We should all just go lay facedown in the mud.

Let us not smile too much, lest we change our strategy and ruin our good fortune.

Let us not laugh too much, lest we enjoy life too much to continue the struggle.

Let us continue, ultimately, to be wolves.

But then, there are some who would joy to see a world recreated from only the bones of this one: their world would be a beautiful sphere of ornamented cubicles, each cradling a peaceful package of one – one person, content in isolation, satisfied in solitude, soaking in the balmy darkness, absolved of everything emotional. An intemperate light would no longer betray our faults, reveal the dust of our imperfect existences. Nothing need be said, written, or thought. This is the ideal solution – living in a box. But it’s bullshit.

We’re social creatures. It will never work.

Nevertheless, it’s altogether senseless to expect each other to be reasonable, let alone sympathetic to our peers; we are obviously incapable, and, more often than not, our beliefs dictate that we be unflinching, unmovable, unshakeable in our foolishness. At the least, we have proven ourselves unwilling. So let us continue to live alone among the masses.

One can feel the stony and lifeless glances of others. It brings a refreshing chill to the soul – a relief from the heated drama elsewhere. Apathy and escapism cushion the hardest, sharpest beds of reality. One can sense the transitory nature of our laughter. It is a wheeze in company of laughter at its best.

Unlike Thomas Paine, we are not in the midst of a political
revolution, but we might here and now revolutionize the idea of revolution. We shall protect the status quo from aberrant developments and stay the course.

In the interest of tomorrow, keep your jollies to yourself.

This Land is My Land!

Arizona’s recent passage of a new law that enables police officers to act as immigration control agents has sparked racially charged activism and debate around the country about who has the right to exist on this land. However, despite arguments over the constitutionality or cost-benefits of the law, very little has been said about the root causes of human migration. If the proponents of this bill truly want to halt undocumented immigration, it will not be through a law criminalizing movement; they need to critically examine the effects of foreign policy, particularly the economic policies between the United States and Mexico that leave many Mexicans no better option than to make the dangerous trek into the American Southwest.

Recent global adherence to free-market capitalism has not led to the prosperity of all people, as promised. In fact, the opposite has occurred–in countries with weaker economies, the dismantling of borders and opening of markets to foreign investment and ownership by way of lowered or absent tariffs effectively killed domestic businesses which cannot compete with large multinational corporations.

Mexican farmers who are unable to offer prices lower than American and Canadian agro-corporations are forced out of agriculture and aren’t able to move to another sector. Mexican peasants and working class, increasingly unemployed as foreign industry’s advantageous position outcompetes domestic industry, are forced to contribute to the plight of their countrymen as they buy the cheaper, foreign produced products and foodstuffs. In Mexico, where there is now little opportunity for work or sustainable wages, those negatively affected by free-market economics move into the ranks of the permanently unemployed, many times in rapidly urbanizing areas, or to the migratory life of a seasonal worker. Or they attempt the move to America where there exists some semblance of an opportunity to carve out a life for themselves.

Despite Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s assessment of the Arizona bill, which he says will “open the door to racial discrimination,” he has not addressed the conditions or unequal trade agreements like NAFTA that leave Mexican citizens little choice but to emigrate. Mexican immigration to the U.S. would seriously halt if opportunity within their homeland existed for impoverished people, but under the present conditions, the development of a viable Mexican economic infrastructure is hampered by competition with the U.S. and Canada as established by free-market economics and structural adjustment policies. Both the U.S. and Canada could work to dismantle free-market agreements like NAFTA, but why would they if they benefit from the terms of the agreement? The daily comforts and low prices American and Canadian citizens enjoy come at a heavy price – one that is implicitly Third World, and in this case Mexican.

If we seek a considerate response to immigration, we as United States citizens need to look at the effects of our actions on people around the world. We cannot allow jingoistic, anti-immigrant Americans to monopolize the debate about immigration around “protecting what is ours” or “keeping this an English-speaking country.” I don’t feel most Mexicans are enthusiastic about leaving their families and native homeland to travel to a country where they will experience language barriers, social segregation, and in most cases little job security and illegally low wages. It is not acceptable to turn a blind eye to the plight of these courageous people because they’re willing to work for cheap; that’s monstrously inhumane and casts Mexicans as more important as workers than they are as human beings.

What is necessary is a disavowal of privilege from First World nations to dictate the terms of other nation’s economies. When we can begin to identify as human beings–and not along borders of socially constructed nationalities–we can begin to acknowledge that we are all members of the human race deserved of equal treatment and opportunity, regardless of our country of origin.

We need to critically examine the effects of free-market economic policies disseminated by the U.S. abroad and understand that all of us, through our purchasing power and democratic right to demand action by our government, are part of the process contributing to undocumented immigration.

IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH

TCNJ STUDENTS HONORING GOD’S CALL TO MARRIAGE

Jolynn and Matt Graubart, both graduating from TCNJ this spring, met and began dating when they were fourteen years old. As a hardened cynic, I was shocked, amazed, and slightly disappointed to learn that no family feuding or double suicides had occurred along the way. Imagine my further surprise, then, when I was informed that this undergrad pair had in fact been married – and happily so – for the past year and a half.

ON FASHION

Sometimes habits lead to unintentional discoveries.

DECONSTRUCTING FACEBOOK

We are a restless species—a species restlessly navigating new technology.

TCNJaded

Are you happy?  Visit The College of New Jersey’s homepage and it is impossible to avoid statistics advertising students’ undying love for this institution. One blurb boasts that “85% of TCNJ’s most recent graduating class rated their undergraduate academic experience as either excellent or above average”; another proclaims that TCNJ has an almost unrivaled sophomore year retention rate. Listen in on prospective-student tours led by glittering, striped-shirted “Ambassadors,” and you’ll likely hear that students are enamored with their campus, their professors, and their peers.

But potential TCNJ recruits are not getting the full story.

Now in my junior year, after five and a half semesters’ worth of parties, club meetings, and discussions with scores of TCNJ students, I have noticed an unavoidable undercurrent of antipathy – a sense of unexpected dissatisfaction, a reluctant acceptance of lowered standards, and perhaps even mild (yet unconcealed) resentment.

It may not be a sentiment held by the majority, and it’s not widely acknowledged or discussed, but this simmering discontent is too consistent and pervasive to be ignored.

At the heart of the issue, it seems, is an identity crisis. Much more complex and consequential than any petty “North vs. South Jersey” debate, there is a recurring, implicit dialogue going on at TCNJ about the kind of school this really is – and what we are collectively projecting to the outside world.

For one, students here are constantly defining themselves to others. Even within New Jersey, TCNJ remains somewhat unknown. Thanks to the not-so-distant name change of 1996, when speaking of where they attend college, students are often forced to explain what the TCNJ acronym actually stands for. And whether we refer to our school as the former Trenton State College or by its current name, neither typically rings a bell for those outside New Jersey. Even Trenton State alumni are sometimes incredulous that the “T” in our title really does now stand for “the.”

After the College has been identified, many students find that the next question is whether or not they are education majors. Sophomore Andressa Leite observed, “People, mostly older folks, know TCNJ as Trenton State – as a teaching school. I have been met with surprised stares when I mention that I am not majoring in education here.” All of us are plainly aware that TCNJ has only recently transformed itself into a credible liberal arts college – in stark contrast to its past image as little more than a first-rate teacher factory.

But aside from concerns of academic perception, students routinely grapple with more fundamental questions of our institutional character: How smart are we? How smart are we supposed to be?

Promotional material produced by the College’s Public Relations Department constantly reminds us that TCNJ is considered a “public ivy,” but anecdotal evidence suggests the label might not yet be applicable. One student, who asked to remain nameless, gave a harrowing account of an incident that for him called into question whether admission standards are truly as high as we are led to believe:

“Last semester in a political science class, the professor asked a girl whether the incumbent party’s candidate had won the last presidential election. She finally stopped texting on her Blackberry and replied, ‘Can you define incumbent?’ I just about slammed my head on the desk.”

Of course, antipathy toward the College does not stem purely from academic concerns. Many students here rightly find the classes valuable and the professors engaging, but are highly disappointed with the surrounding cultural and social atmosphere. Unlike Princeton or other places closely associated with a proximate university, Ewing is clearly not a “college town”; there is very little active nightlife and definitely no discernible downtown area. And unlike nearby Rider University, our fraternity housing is required to remain off-campus. To access nighttime entertainment or some kind of Greek function, we have to put in quite a bit more effort than those on other campuses, where by comparison social opportunities are seemingly limitless.

College administrators and other consultants are now smartly working on a “Campus Town Project” that could make TCNJ more active and inviting. In the meantime, however, students must make the best of what is currently available.

I have found that for some, what TCNJ most sorely lacks is not necessarily a vibrant ‘night scene’ but an interesting and varied social life more generally. Some find refuge in fraternities and sororities, others in solitude or smaller gatherings – but a noticeable portion of us are often stuck somewhere in the middle.

We are thus disillusioned that in order to meet people after midnight, one must typically shell out $5 for frat party entry; and to those underwhelmed by cheap beer, Greek-life stereotypes, and blaring music that defies conversation, the experience often leaves much to be desired. One student attempted to identify the problem with these parties: “They become such a routine,” he said. “The same rowdy guys hanging around the beer pong table, the same crew playing flip-cup, the same girls grinding on sweaty dudes – and one another. It becomes stale and predictable.”

But for Andrew Kaplan, a freshman who transferred out of TCNJ halfway through this spring semester, more interesting frat parties would not have sufficed. “I felt disconnected with the student body – I felt a lack of intellectual stimulation. I felt trapped, so to speak, because of the location of the school. There are not many outlets outside of campus.”

Luckily for us, college students have endless ingenuity. Cluster enough people from our age bracket into a concentrated area, and some entertainment and camaraderie must inevitably result. But an environment more conducive to building meaningful relationships outside the dorms would nevertheless be a welcome addition. Too often it seems we must pursue substantive social lives in spite of our college’s atmosphere, rather than with assistance from it.

Of course, there is a context for these criticisms; most of us are happy with TCNJ. And after all, there is no school, regardless of prestige or endowment size, that is without faults. Every college or university – from Harvard, to NYU, to our humble suburban enclave – must deal with complaints from those who are dissatisfied for any plethora of reasons. That being said, we should not act as if these faults are nonexistent. Only upon acknowledging them more openly can we work to improve.

Sarah Burdick contributed reporting.

LADY MADONNA


Nose-bleed tickets to Lady Gaga concerts are apparently going for upwards of $100 a piece. What happened?

THE GIT ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

BY R. BARBARA GITENSTEIN

THE FOLLOWING IS FROM DECEMBER:

“I am always supportive of our students’ right and responsibility to express their political opinions, regardless of the issue under discussion or the stance they may take. Specifically, in regard to the “Freedom of religion and Equality in Civil Marriage Act” (S1967/A2978), I believe the question to be considered by the legislature is one of equality and civil rights.”

R. BARBARA GITENSTEIN is the president of the College

TCNJ FOR FREE SPEECH: Support, Oppose, or Feel Apathetic Towards Tucker Max

By GLENN EISENBERG

Members of our campus community have been flinging around the terms “freedom of speech” and “censorship” without much thought to what they truly entail—rendering them nothing more than buzzwords and diminishing their actual meaning.