Category CULTURE


The light seeping in through the blinds, the slam of car doors sounding the start of the workday, and the soft patter of my housemates’ drowsy, dragging footsteps downstairs signify the end of my nights.

Nighttime lends itself to a certain quiet, a certain clearness that the day just doesn’t have for me. While others are happy to crawl into a cozy bed at an hour close to midnight and far from dawn, I am content and revitalized by the prospect of the long stretch of time ahead. I’ve always attributed these vampiric tendencies to some innate interest in the under-working of a city and its inhabitants, a fascination with the pun-ridden “darker side of things.” (This has been my excuse for years, anyway, whenever someone sees me stumble out of bed just as the sun is going down.) The isolation that I often find at night is also just more conducive for work—it’s a lot easier to hunker down and write an essay or a story when no one is awake to provide me with a distraction that I would undoubtedly welcome more often than not. But still, it is disconcerting at times to realize that everyone else is in my house is waking up as I’m trying to get to sleep, and it’s often frustrat­ing that everyone is going to sleep when I’m done with my obligations and raring to go.

I look to other creative minds for consolation; Karl Marx, Willem de Kooning, and Franz Kafka all worked during the night. Some­times I think of these people as the clock ticks away towards morning and wonder if they felt the same way, if they needed the backdrop of darkness to illuminate their work, if they fished something out of that dense expanse of night and twisted and chiseled it into some­thing for themselves. There are no pretenses once the sun goes down; the bright, orderly appearance of the day is gone.

Night owl Frank Loesser, the American songwriter best known for his scores to Guys and Dolls and How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, simply and eloquently captures a certain feeling that all night-dwellers can relate to:

My time of day is the dark time

A couple of deals before dawn

When the street belongs to the cop

And the janitor with the mop

And the grocery clerks are all gone.

The nighttime is an intimate setting; it is occupied by few, and few want to regularly occupy it. Loesser conveys the tone of this sparsely populated time of night and describes a reclaiming of sorts. Whether by choice or by neces­sity, the night owls are taking their share of the world around them; part of the 24-hour cycle is theirs, too. This “dark time” is Loesser’s time of day.

Perhaps this feeling of simultaneous singularity—of being lone and inde­pendent against the vastness of the night along with the unity of being in the company of the few others who occupy the day’s darker side—is what makes the night so appealing, especially for artists. This duality parallels the artist’s mindset; the ultimate goal of any creative thinker is to be a unique individual (and distinct from the rest of the artsy hipsters). Yet at the same time, artists need a sense of community, a feeling of common purpose and connection with like-minded people. Achieving a balance between these two sentiments is difficult, but the night allows some momentary harmony.

Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks illustrates this balance. Hopper depicts three customers and a worker in a late-night diner. It is an evocative piece, one that conjures up a lot of feelings at once. The bright, fluorescent-lit interior of the diner appears as a haven, a beacon in the dark, sleeping street surround­ing it. The customers, the last remnants of the city’s unsleeping world, have gathered here and are brought together by their common seclusion. They are at once isolated and united.

But this concept of the night as an artistic equilibrium is not just a specula­tion; science also comes into play. Recent studies have shown that night owls are simply just more likely to be creative thinkers. Although a full explana­tion has yet to be formulated, researchers say that this could be the result of an adaptation to living outside the norm. In short, it may not always be the creative mentality that causes an inclination towards nighttime. In fact, the inclination towards nighttime might be what causes a creative mentality. “Be­ing in a situation which diverges from conventional habit—nocturnal types often experience this situation—may encourage the development of a non-conventional spirit and of the ability to find alternative and original solutions,” wrote psychologists Marina Giampietro and G.M. Cavallera in their February 2007 study, “Morning and Evening Types and Creative Thinking.” (This can be found in the psychology journal, Personality and Individual Differences.)

Hans Van Dongen, an associate research pro­fessor at the Sleep and Performance Research Center at Washington State University, has also contributed important findings towards the study of biology-based sleep preferences. He and his colleagues discovered that a small group of brain cells (suprachiasmatic nuclei, for any biopsychology students), sends sig­nals to the body that synchronize our sleeping patterns with the time of day. For “evening types, their “biological clock” is essentially set two hours later, and for “morning types,” two hours behind. This internal clock may be partially determined by genetics.

The science of sleep is intriguing, no doubt, and also provides a legitimate-sounding excuse for a lot of us late-risers, but for graveyard shift workers, this research may be meaningless. Although we may not associate the waitress taking our bleary order at 3 a.m. with the typical idea of a nighthawk—the test-cramming college kid, the drunk, or the starving artist painting into the wee small hours—she is more immersed in the undertow of society, that un­conventional society of the night, than any of us. The number of graveyard shift workers has been steadily increasing over the years. While the night shift was originally reserved for security guards, bakers, factory workers, etc., it has now come to include a wider array of positions, like computer programmers, technical support workers, and health care workers.

To work nights is to inhabit another world entirely—a Bizarro World, the day turned upside-down. Tracy Niece may be a familiar face to many of you; she works nights at Parkside Diner, usually from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., and sometimes 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. Niece has a full head of blonde hair and such a droll, relaxed way of talking that she may first strike you as aloof. You soon realize, however, that her manner has no edge to it; she is just unaffected.

“[Working the night shift] is hard to get used to at first,” Niece said, “and then when you get home you don’t wanna sleep.” Niece said that her schedule is completely turned around, but she must adjust on her days off. Niece has an eight-year son, which makes napping impossible. “Sometimes you stay up for days,” she said. Niece spoke about the people who came in during the night—as expected, a lot of drunk and high people stumble into the diner for a post-party snack. She was lighthearted as she related this, suggesting that they were easy targets for selling pricier menu items. “Yeah, you want some pork chops?” she laughed.

Other night workers also frequent the establishment—doctors, correction of­ficers, nurses, etc. One is likely to encounter an eclectic mix of people going to Parkside late at night; the clientele is a diverse bunch, spanning a wide range of ages, races, and demeanors. And the closer one gets to dawn, the more likely one is to encounter an older crowd, presumably the retired, settling down for breakfast. It is a modern day Nighthawks, a sundry crowd of drunks, insomniacs, and early-risers, all brought together for one reason or another at a small, well-lit diner in Trenton. The romantic ideal of the night owl is hard to shake, but Niece provides us with a more sobering perspective. When asked if she had any last comments, she simply replied, “Don’t work the graveyard shift.”

The hours after midnight are both expansive in their possibilities and limited in their practicality. For some, they signify neither, and represent only a neces­sity of living—the graveyard shift is not a popular one, and most people take night shifts due to the lack of competition and better chances of employment.

I write this now as the sun is rising. Pulling back the blinds, I see neighbors heading to work, a garbage truck rumbling down the street, and birds lighting on the telephone wire. It’s a new day, and I’m not even done with the old one yet. Staying awake through the night allows for a strange mixture of observa­tions—you see the day, you see the night, you see the night give way to day again; the whole metaphor-ridden cycle of the world is before you. Van Gogh once said, “I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.” Closing my blinds again against the glare of the early-morning sun and crawling into bed, I have to agree.


The current state of the economy seems to perpetually weigh on the minds and wal­lets of many. There is worry, a sense of uncertainty that makes us guarded, brac­ing for some sort of future hard knock that could throw us off kilter.

Soon to be graduating, I too have fallen victim to thoughts of unemployment and financial woes. However, recently I was re­minded of a simple truth: everyone deals with a lack of dough differently. Potential coping mechanisms include begging, bor­rowing, job multitasking or, as I experi­enced, stealing.

This past summer, I was the victim of an inattentive subway Pick-Pocket.

It was the type of crowd that accumulates after all down-town businesses spew their employees out onto the sidewalks at the end of a nine to five day. The release is short-lived. Almost immediately, all move en mass to the tube lines below. There, weary and in need of a decent dinner, we stood back to back, waiting on chipped concrete islands for a train that would take us to our next destination and, eventually, home.

Nothing separated the encounter from anything else I had come to consider nor­mal commuter chaos. Gritty metal smell, faint perspiration, someone breathing on the back of your neck as you push forward towards a yellow line, make a dash towards snapping doors. Inside, everyone plays some sort of unspoken etiquette game in which one is not allowed to make eye con­tact with other passengers. Instead, focus shifts to ads featuring beaming Chinese women, women who learned English as a Second Language in ONLY TWO WEEKS. Instructions on how to pull the dangling emergency brake cord (tempting, despite no crisis being imminent.) The flickering of overhead fluorescent lights. Movement of pixilated graffiti scrawled on uneven brick walls.

Though not allowed to acknowledge other passengers, one is allowed to stand close to them. A new rule, set to replace eye con­tact, states that where there is space, there is opportunity for another rider. It is under­stood that bodily boundaries are wasteful. Such borders could house another arm, leg, shoulder, torso, if the occupier would be so kind as to allow it. So, we allow it.

It makes sense that I wasn’t aware of a hand being added to the mix. It is also under­standable that I wouldn’t feel a subtle shift happening in my handbag, a stranger care­fully groping the last bit of untouched terri­tory in the cramped car.

My trip was short, my stop the second on route. I got off quickly, eager to get on my next mode of transportation: the bus. It was only after I had gotten back to my house that I noticed something was off. While search­ing for my keys, I realized that I had been unzipped. The interior pocket of my purse was wide open, its contents splayed out in all directions. I didn’t recall ever opening it myself, let alone hastily grabbing at what it contained.

It was then that I realized that I had almost been robbed. I say almost because what the thief managed to steal was of high utility but little cost to me.

He stole a maxi pad.

Why? I’d like to think it was a fluke. Per­haps he saw the bulging pouch and thought I was packing wads of cash instead of wads of thick, feminine products. But alas, I was a poor woman on my period, not a rich lady hauling twenties.

My mind reeled with plausible sequences that could have followed the encounter.

Did he realize his error and immediately drop it onto the grimy floor?

Worse, did he shove it into the front of his coat without a second glance?

Even worse, upon pilfering it, did he smile a little on the inside, watching me exit, know­ing I was none the wiser?

Did he make the discovery on the next plat­form, surrounded by New Yorkers who are not phased by anything – not even a dirty man, frozen with shock, holding a crumpled, pink-wrapped sanitary napkin in his out­stretched palm?

Did he remain unaware of his mistake until he was alone, back at the abode, ready to add it to a growing pile of embezzled items?

When he pulled out the pad, was he disgust­ed with himself more for what it was, or the fact that he accidentally pinched it?

When he pulled out the pad, did it make him question why he was a Pick-Pocket in the first place? That maybe this was the Universe’s way of telling him it was time for bigger and better ventures?

When he pulled out the pad, was he pissed at me?

I don’t know. What I do know is I am lucky he took the only disposable possession I had.

Future lessons gleaned from the experience would involve being less oblivious to my sur­roundings. Furthermore, I plan on continu­ing to stock my odd purse compartments with maxis. Enough with trite practices involving money hid in your socks. I recommend that all people, female and male, cram their pock­ets, wallets and bags with pads. Banks may fail, Stocks may crash, Recessions may occur. Nevertheless, as I have demonstrated, lady wares protect in more ways than one.



“My name is Tucker Max, and I am an asshole.”

Tucker Max is an asshole. He is a self-proclaimed asshole, and seems to be proud of it. No one denies this. Currently, the merits of hosting a self-proclaimed asshole at an academic institution are under heavy debate. One side seems to think the asshole’s right to free speech gives the college justification to present him, the other claims that it is morally culpable to willingly endorse and financially support such an asshole. I, however, am not interested in a debate over how many assholes we can bring to TCNJ. Rather, I feel that an element of Tucker Max’s persona remains unaddressed, and is representative of a key dilemma in American culture: The Success of the Asshole in Western Society.

What is an asshole? If we accept Tucker Max’s definition, in his own words, from his own website:

“I get excessively drunk at inappropriate times, disregard social norms, indulge every whim, ignore the consequences of my actions, mock idiots and posers, sleep with more women than is safe or rea­sonable, and just generally act like a raging dickhead.”

An asshole, it would appear, is someone who has cast the founda­tions of Western virtue to the wind. Such a person, according to this definition, has lost all control over his or her physical desires, to the point that these desires are no longer checked by any higher mental capacity. This person has acquired a complete disregard for the ef­fects of his or her actions on his or her fellow human beings. Truly an asshole, indeed.

However, regardless of whatever criticisms we may make of this particular asshole, there is one undeniable affirmation: he is ridicu­lously successful. Despite, or perhaps because of, his being “a raging dickhead,” Mr. Max has made himself a much-lauded figure in soci­ety. Why, one might ask, does someone who indulges to admittedly unhealthy excess and has no concern for other people garner such success?

The answer, I believe, lies in one key issue: pride.

Self-worth, or pride, is inherently attractive, both in terms of social and interpersonal relationships. It shows that the person who knows you best – you – recognizes and acknowledges that you are “worthy.”

Our society, however, has arbitrarily aligned “pride” with what is considered to be morally bad, and the opposite of pride – humil­ity – with what is considered to be morally good. As a result of all this, people who want to be virtuous tend to strive toward the ideal of humility over pride, artificially devaluing themselves. People who do not wish to see themselves aligned to virtue (such as Mr. Max), on the other hand, are free to indulge in pride, and, as a result, possess a degree of self worth, albeit excessive.

Therein lies the success of all assholes. For all their faults, social forc­es have left them as one of the only groups possessing at least an ap­propriate amount of self worth, leaving the majority of non-assholes with an undue dearth of self-value.

The solution to the proliferation of assholes in Western culture, therefore, is for good people to reclaim “pride” as a moral virtue. When you get right down to it, it’s a matter of honesty. If you’re a good person, you should recognize that, if only to be truthful to yourself and the world. In fact, you should thrive on it. That’s right – thrive. Too long have I seen good people not value themselves ap­propriately, with sorry consequences for themselves and the good of the world around them. The success of this one asshole, which our college so willingly endorses, is not a random anomaly; instead, it represents a systematic failure of our society to properly value its members.


When our parents discuss “the classics,” there is little leeway and little variation. How can one argue the greatness of The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, and Nirvana? The music of past generations existed in a pre-Internet age, when the masses were exposed to a precious few chart-toppers whose canonization was met with deservedly few objections. But since the turn of the millennium, genres have split sharply, and an exponentially expanded musical marketplace has made viable the potential for canonizing more ‘underground’ artists.

So when we sit down to tell our children about the “classics” of this era, which names will be dropped?

We won’t have to dig too deep for artists whose careers have been wholly synonymous with the success of their respective genres. And yet, there are many more landmark-making musicians whose relative obscurity might cause them to be missed by those still reliant on the FM dial.

Unbeknownst to many, these active acts are churning out generation-defining records to a gracious crowd of music insiders and indie rock aficionados.

The following is a list of ten artists, some of whom have become ubiquitous, and others who struggle for recognition outside high-brow cultural circles. These performers may well be considered the “classics” for future generations:


Countless new rappers are supposed to “change the game,” but few have matched the hype like Kanye did earlier this de­cade. Not content merely to popularize “positive rap,” the self-proclaimed “voice of this generation” has morphed sparkling production and pop sensibilities into several distinct formats since his 2003 debut, The College Dropout. In 2007’s Gradu­ation, Kanye borrowed driving beats from European techno, threw down his signature rhymes and hooks, mashed it all together, and emerged with another Grammy. Just over a year later, with 2008’s sparse, Autotuned anti-rap 808s and Heart­break, Kanye managed to both evade “career killer” status and drop several more irresistible singles. Aside from creat­ing some of the era’s most emblematic music, West’s much-publicized personal exploits have revealed a sometimes arro­gant, always eccentric, and yet utterly relatable pop star. Do yourself a favor and check out his perpetually CAPS LOCKED musings on Twitter.


James Murphy, the New York City-based DJ, producer, DFA Records honcho, and LCD mastermind is the first on this list whose music should be considered classic, but whose appeal might yet be too narrow for such a designation. Since 2002, Murphy has released two acclaimed albums, both lauded by critics as defining contributions to electronic and dance mu­sic. By combining decades’ worth of musical knowledge with entrancing disco-electro-house-synthpop, Murphy has brought a renewed legitimacy to a genre long dogged by passing trends and an ecstasy-ridden past.


Before they became the most frequently name-dropped band in the indie rock blogosphere, Arcade Fire was an unknown husband-wife project kicking around the Montreal under­ground scene. Funeral, their 2004 debut, entered the fray at a time when three or four-piece garage bands were the hot item. Then, suddenly, the concept of twenty musicians onstage si­multaneously playing everything from guitar to glockenspiel became the new craze among music journalists. The band turned down offers from nearly every major record label and released 2007’s Neon Bible, their almost-just-as-good follow-up, on Merge Records – known for employing less then ten people. Not only are they indie rock’s saviors; Arcade Fire is also not for sale.


Dominated by disposable teen pop at one end and rap-metal at the other, mainstream popular music hit an all-time low at the turn of the millennium. JT of course cannot be blamed for Limp Bizkit, but for helping to popularize the boy-band trend as *NSYNC’s front man, he is guilty-as-charged. However, since going solo in 2002, Timberlake’s epiphany-like reinvention has mirrored the very rebirth of mainstream pop music in the latter half of the decade. Early critical claims of brilliance were ‘justified,’ pun in­tended, by 2006’s FutureSex/LoveSounds – the most au­thoritative pop album of the 2000s. Producer-extraordi­naire Timbaland infused heavy R&B influence into the pop mogul’s sound, and the artist who was once ridiculed as nothing more than the object of middle school-aged girls’ wet dreams had arrived as the decade’s most mature face in pop music.


While some artists pride themselves on keeping a con­sistent sound, Radiohead has built a fanatical following with an album-by-album metamorphosis. Five years af­ter “Creep,” their comparatively innocuous debut single, 1997’s career-defining OK Computer captured the para­noia of a generation just coming to terms with a new age of technology. Always ones to stay ahead of the curve, Thom Yorke and company released 2007’s In Rainbows exclusively as an online download, allowing purchasers to name their own price (including $0.00). As of late, the fivesome seems unwilling to craft another record by con­ventional means, an approach likely to be verified by a much-anticipated new album in 2010.


“Takeover,” the second offering on Jay-Z’s 2001 classic The Blueprint, is one of the most merciless diss tracks in the annals of hip-hop: the breaking point of his heated feud with Nas. Who other than Jay-Z could self-assuredly dis­miss the artist behind Illmatic (arguably the genre’s great­est album) as a “little fuck?” Jay-Z is the hip-hop authority, the purveyor of countless hit tracks, and guest of honor on even more. By 2009, Hova declared himself “the new Sina­tra” and wrote “Death of Autotune,” seemingly as the only man alive whose ego was big enough to stop the stampede of T-Pain imitators.


During an era in which mainstream rock has crum­bled beneath the weight of post-grunge sludge and mall emo nonsense, these one-time new wave reviv­alists are one of the few dependable standards on the rock radio dial. From the synth-happy New Or­der worship of their 2004 breakthrough Hot Fuss, to the similarly detectable Bruce Springsteen worship on 2006’s Sam’s Town, Brandon Flowers’ crew has enjoyed remarkable consistency on the charts despite major shifts in sound. And really, who can blame the enigmatic front-man for taking well-deserved shots at Fall Out Boy and The Bravery?


The fascinatingly obtuse Sufjan Stevens has kept indie kids guessing his next move all decade with little success. His ac­claimed “50 States Project,” which promised a concept album thematically based on every U.S. state, has produced only two entries since its 2003 inception – and may already be over. But for many, 2005’s Illinois will suffice; even with a limited dis­cography, the Brooklyn minstrel is among the decade’s most successful artists, leaving fans holding their breath while he decides what to do next.


The indie scene was introduced to songwriter Antony Hegarty in 2005, when he was awarded Britain’s cov­eted Mercury Prize for best album, beating out a slew of heavy favorites. That year’s I Am a Bird Now and this year’s Crying Light are spellbinding orchestrations of dark cabaret, with Hegarty’s quivering vibrato as the fo­cal point. As a member of New York’s gay community, his music explores issues of gender identity, self-per­ception, and life and death – with chilling immediacy.


In an Atlanta scene plagued by repetitive gangsta postur­ing, Outkast’s dynamic, left-brained persona has set the standard for innovative contemporary hip-hop. Is it any wonder that since the duo went on hiatus a few years ago, we’ve had to endure the rise of Soulja Boy-esque bangers and generic Auto-tuned money-grabs? Those whose thirst was not fully quenched by 2004’s uber-successful Speak­erboxx/The Love Below should remain cautiously optimis­tic: Big Boi and André 3000 will be back sooner or later. The pair will carry with them the funkiest, oddball-est, and perhaps most meteorically successful catalogue of the de­cade, from “Rosa Parks,” to “B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad),” to the crossover hit to end all crossover hits – “Hey Ya!”



At the dawn of this new decade, we reflect with humility on the accomplishments of the last. In 2000, could we have predicted the ubiquity with which the Internet now functions in our lives? Could we have foreseen an existence that is so reliant on the daily conveniences it provides, and the extent to which it has pervaded nearly every crevice of knowledge, communication, and culture?

Doubtful we could have. So as another decade burgeons, let us step back and ponder the implications of such a spellbinding change in human experience. Since its bubble inflated in the mid-1990s, the Internet has transformed itself at a breakneck pace, accommodating our every need with the utmost preci­sion. In a mere fifteen years, it has evolved from a relatively meager novelty to an all-encompassing force, on which we project every aspect of ourselves, both individually and collec­tively. Through it we have consolidat­ed our basic needs of informational consumption — television, phone, mail. Our entertainment, our social lives, professional lives, our educa­tion, and our politics all can now be understood through the medium of the Internet.

With that in mind, let us look ahead — far ahead. If all this could be accom­plished in fifteen years, what might be the situation in eighty? When the last of us takes our final breath, what will the Internet have become?

Perhaps it will have evolved into something ineffable, transcendent — something not explainable by any word or notion we currently have at our nearsighted disposal.

Indeed, it is possible that the Internet will have bound us all together, as one people, connected by one singular wave of en­ergy. We in turn will behave much more consciously of our fellow man, no matter how far across the globe he dwells, and we will expect the same in return. Our propensity to empathize, fraternize, and otherwise negotiate interpersonal relationships will have been radically altered, stretched beyond the wildest imagination of anyone limited by today’s hopelessly minute breadth of knowledge.

With every passing day, as the prescient Carl Sagan once de­clared with stirring adoration, a still more glorious dawn awaits. His message resonates with frenetic anticipation; we can hardly contain our innovation, our feverish curiosity, and our ever-accelerating spiral into technological oblivion.

How privileged we are to live in this time of the Internet’s in­fancy — of infinite possibilities. How privileged we are, indeed, to live in this time of the whole of science’s infancy, for from the greatest galaxy to the smallest electron, there is so much more to know about our cosmos. Our path of discovery barrels on unhinged, unmitigated, and emboldened further ahead with each dramatic achievement.

At the beginning of the last decade, the nascent Internet was at worst a gimmick, at best a mildly interesting pastime for the curiously-motivated and the technologically-informed. It occupied a limited but potential-ridden crest in our collective psyche — but as of yet, daily life did not necessitate the Internet.

And what a difference a decade makes. The Internet now boasts all the variety, all the idiosyncrasy, and all the unpredictability of traditional life. Ten years ago, one could reasonably answer the question “what is your favorite website?” Today, that same question is unaware and awkward: there is no longer a distinction between the Internet and non-Internet living. These two aspects our existence have merged — and irrecover­ably so.

We now operate in an electro-world of sorts, one in which our connection to this greater force is soon to be the glue that binds friend and enemy alike. Still further it binds nation-to-nation, culture-to-culture, ethnicity-to-ethnicity, and neighbor-to-neighbor. Those who suffer will be heard. Those who are neglected will be noticed.

And then there is the Internet and democracy. Not democracy’s popular political manifesta­tion (though its reshaping of that is also mo­mentous) but the cultural manifestation — the sort that more reliably enters our everyday lives.

No longer does a privileged minority lay claim to a monopoly of knowledge – soon it will be accessible to everyone. It will be democratized. What now matters more than the mere acquisition of knowledge is how that knowledge is subse­quently processed, synthesized, and repackaged into a product of rea­son. Common pedagogy must thereby transform itself accordingly.

And what does it mean to have a portal to the whole of human knowl­edge in our pockets? To think: We walk around today with ‘smart-phones,’ devices through which we can contact anyone in the world in seconds, and through which we can simultaneously gather information about any topic we so desire. For a species which has spent most of its days hunting, gathering, child rearing, and clinking rocks together, this is a profound new evolutionary trend.

Even more profound, more impressive, and yet for many disconcerting is the astronomical pace with which this technology is developing. Some rightly decry its potential for manipulation and tyranny. But do they real­ize the Internet may instead be our great liberator?

Those who live in oppression now have a voice. Those who might oth­erwise be lost in deafening silence to the annals of history now have the ability to make known their grievances. We now partake in the anguish of our fellow humans with more intimacy, more humility, and more solidarity. Indeed, the Internet is gradually opening our eyes to the world.

But what is it, and what will it look like in eighty years? Perhaps we would be arrogant to attempt such a conjecture. Many find this ambiguity disturbing. I find its reality thrilling.

Through this publication we endeavor to help guide our social transformation such that it will finally be to the benefit of everyone, collectively and individually, acting with unity as we harness the impending power of awesome technology.

In eighty years, will the last among us look back to 2010 with a quaint nostalgia, wondering what life must have been like in such a primitive state?

As we speculate, perhaps the long arc of history will have rendered much of human suffering obsolete. Perhaps we might have finally coalesced into a single global union, once hampered by the arbitrary barriers of race, gender, and cultural identity, but at last shaken free the polarizing chains of centuries past.

Perhaps the ongoing upheaval in Iran, aided by social networking and remote Internet access, will be presented as the first case in which traditional political oppression has become shelved with other dusty relics of history.

Of course, it is beyond our capacity to know. But for now, we’ll do what we can to move things along.



For the typical white, middle-class, college-aged American, the concept of con­temporary racism seems foreign — or even extinct. But for one TCNJ student, the bitter reality of racial prejudice in America today has become a fact of life. A short while ago, Aaron*, a student raised in a conservative Jewish household, began seeing an African American girl named Jessica. After happily dating for a few weeks, Aaron called home to tell his family the pleasant news: he was in a new relationship.

He never could have anticipated his mother’s reaction.

“It was nauseating,” Aaron told The Perspective. “She said, ‘I don’t want you in my house; I don’t want to pay your tuition; I’m cutting you off; I want nothing to do with you.’

Aaron is “a white Jewish boy,” his mother lashed, “and should be sticking with his own.”

Aaron said, “she feels like I’ve somehow betrayed our people, like I’ve spat on the graves of our ancestors. It’s not something I feel like I could combat with logic. It’s emotion; it’s ignorance; it’s hatred. I’m not going to be able to sit down with her and talk her out of it.”

Aaron’s mother, however, claims not to be a racist. “I’ve worked with black peo­ple,” she reportedly said to her son. “I don’t dislike black people. But I don’t want them in our family, and I’m disgusted by the thought that our son is with one.”

Recalling a dispute he and a professor had had not long ago, Aaron reflected: “He was telling me ‘You’ve been sheltered; you’re white; you’ve never experienced rac­ism. You don’t know what racism is.’ I said by and large, racism was dying out. But then I come home and find out it’s in my own house.”

“Looking back,” Aaron added, “he was right.”

“I’ve been sheltered from it most of my life by virtue of being a white, Jewish boy,” Aaron said. “But there is more hatred in society and even within my own walls than I ever could have possibly conceived.”

“Our relationship is never ever going to be okay with her,” he said, “but Jessica and I are going to stay together. I love my mom as much as the next person, but if respect for her means I have to accept racism into my heart, I’m not going to do it. I do not want that to be a part of me.”

He explained further, “I’m sickened by it; I’m sickened that the woman who birthed me thinks this way. I cannot bear the thought that I came from a racist mother. That’s in me now – that hatred is in me. Even if I don’t think that way, whatever it was about her upbringing, her life experience – that’s in my blood.”

“Remnants of racism still exist in society,” Aaron concluded. “And they need to be pointed out and fought wherever they are found.”

*Names changed


Do you yearn to be quipped at cleverly while feeling your self-esteem evaporate? Is your fascination with English Pleasure Gardens undying? Do you long to hear the phrase “things look bleak for you” said with the dulcet tenor of a London accent? If you answered yes to any of these, then you are mad. But you are also a perfect candidate to become a pupil of the enigmatic James Stacey Taylor.

He is ironic, intelligent, and breathtakingly tall. Early American fables claim he carved the Grand Canyon by dragging an axe across the desert – the name was later changed to Paul Bunyan for legal reasons. Now, he enjoys a quiet life of educating young minds in the Philosophy Department of TCNJ.

Dr. Taylor was kind enough to answer several questions for The Perspective – and even suggested a few him­self when he discovered the interviewer was woefully incapable. Now sit back, secure tongue firmly in cheek, and enjoy the musings of a delightfully sardonic Brit.

Where did you grow up?

Mainly in the Bedford Park area of London; this was the first planned Garden Suburb, dating from the C19th Arts and Crafts movement in England, and so was a very pleasant place to grow up. Yeats lived a few houses down from the house I grew up in, and wrote several of his major poems there. Not when I was living there, of course—he was dead by then. Or so his biographers would have us believe.

Where did you go to university?

At St. Andrews University, in Scotland, and UC Berkeley, for my undergraduate work and first postgraduate degree; then Bowling Green State University in Ohio for my further gradu­ate studies. And, no, I don’t play golf; it is a silly game. There are far easier ways to get that little white ball into those small holes.

When did you move to America, and why?

I spent a year at UC Berkeley, as part of my undergraduate degree. I moved more permanently in the mid 1990s, to con­tinue graduate work in philosophy. At the time the chances of securing an academic job in America were much higher than in Britain—there were simply more available—and an American degree was considered advantageous. Plus, I was misled—the man who recruited me to study in Ohio claimed that the Midwest was just like California. It isn’t.

Have you seen much of America?

I’ve lived in the Midwest, the Deep South (Louisiana), the Shallow South (Virginia), and on both West and East Coasts, so I’ve experienced quite a wide variety of American life. In­cluding line dancing and tractor pulling, both of which I ob­served from a safe distance.

What do you like about America?

The general friendliness of people, and gas station hotdogs. These are probably the most important contribution America has made to the culinary arts. (The hot dogs, that is.) They’re absolutely wonderful, and so cheap! Plus, you can load up on vegetable-based condiments, and so they’re healthy, too.

Do you like horror movies?

Why does this question follow questions about America?

Of course! I used to live in a town that was the set of a recent horror film, whose working title was Backwater. (It was re­leased as Venom, and is terrible.) When you’re living in a town that’s being filmed as the backdrop to a horror film called Backwater things look bleak. Especially if the film crew have to spruce the place up so it doesn’t look too creepy. I recom­mend Spoorlos and Anatomie as terrific horror movies—al­though stop watching Anatomie after the first scene. It goes downhill rapidly. And is mean to utilitarians.

How did you get interested in philosophy?

The school I went to (i.e., for the equivalent of high school) had a very good Sixth Form Library, and subscribed to aca­demic journals in philosophy and classics, among others. I was browsing through the philosophy journals, and found the articles in them fascinating, especially those to do with theo­retical ethics. Unfortunately, this happened after I’d been ac­cepted to read for a Law degree at an English university. So, I gave up my place there, took a year off, and applied to read philosophy at St Andrews.

What are your interests in philosophy?

I’m interested in medical ethics, especially the morality of us­ing markets to procure human transplant organs. I’m also in­terested in the related questions of whether death is a harm to the person who dies, whether the dead can be wronged, and whether the dead can be harmed. (The answers are no, no, and no. The dead would be very lucky indeed, were they to exist to instantiate such a property.) I also work on theories of personal autonomy—what it is for an action or a desire to be correctly attributable to one as one’s own. And I have interests in the work of Descrates, Berkeley, and nineteenth century utilitarianism.

Do you have any other academic interests?

Yes—history (especially medieval English history), and clas­sics (especially the Epicurean school). I’m also keenly inter­ested in plagues, especially the Great Mortality of the C14th. That was a real disease—not like the weak-kneed stuff that’s around now.

Do you have any pets?

Three Catahoula hunting dogs, and an embarrassingly large number of cats. An embarrassingly large number of cats is any number above zero.



In July of 2009, a few months after Adriana Silva first moved into her rented house in Ewing, she received a call on her mobile phone from an unrecognized number. Adriana took the call, as most of us presumably would – with a hint of cautious curiosity.

A man with an oddly conspicuous Indian accent greeted her. “Hello, is this Adriana?” he asked, to which she ambivalently affirmed.

“This is Jasdesh (pronounced Yash-Desh) Patel,” the man said, “calling on behalf of Jasdesh Patel.”

He abruptly claimed to have taken quite a liking to her Facebook photos – though they were not confirmed friends. “Jasdesh” offered his finest compliments, calling Adriana a “voluptuous woman” who should expect his friend request. Tentatively, she awaited the caller’s electronic entreat, hoping to no sooner discover him to be a jokester with poor taste.

After indeed receiving and accepting the man’s request that night, but only allowing restricted access to her information, Adriana perused his profile. She noted an especially generic default image that seemed as though it were extracted from a cursory “Indian man” Google image search. Doubtful that there was anything of substance to be found about him on Facebook, Adriana resolved to permanently block the apparent charlatan.

After removing him as a Facebook friend, Adriana received multiple calls and voicemails from unknown numbers – all of which proved to be the work of Jasdesh. He called to extensively lament her deletion of their friendship.

The man, whose identity is still a mystery, also wanted to let Adriana know that he was not going to leave her alone.

The calls continued, and Jasdesh’s inquires became more explicit. He asked Adriana whether she was “DTF” (see: urban dictionary) and shelled out additional sexual advances.

The situation intensified when Jasdesh announced that he had Adriana’s address – and would soon be paying her a visit.

Now fearing for her safety, Adriana did not appreciate Jasdesh’s offers of “private computer lessons” – despite his supposed credentials as an Intel employee. In an attempt at what he considered humor, Jasdesh implied that like his company’s graphics chip, his nether-region featured a “Pentium Processor.” Jasdesh was fond of making jokes, though most were likely funny to him alone.

Then the jester got creative. Adriana received a call from a different man who said he had been instructed, via Facebook message from Jasdesh, to call her. The confused man believed he was given the number of a long-lost cousin. These blatant invasions of privacy, troublesome in their own right, kindled greater trauma for Adriana and her housemates. Whatever the culprit’s motive, she felt threatened. Collectively unsettled, Adriana’s housemates began to speculate about who was really on the other end of the line.

Immediately coming to mind was their passive-aggressive neighbor, Don, who regularly displayed contempt for having to live across the street from college students. Not long ago, out of pure spite, he defiantly threw one of the housemate’s garbage cans down a hill. Don’s grievance, they said, was related to some alleged violation of property line adherence. Don actually called the TCNJ administration to complain about the girls, which suggested a strong commitment to making their lives unpleasant. Though he didn’t strike them as particularly tech-savvy, the girls said, Don could not be ruled out as the man behind Jasdesh.

Another plausible suspect was a young man who sublet one of the rooms in Adriana’s house for a short time over the summer – and then vanished. He refused to pay his share of the utility bill, and then subsequently taunted Adriana with text messages about getting off scot-free. With apparent enemies such as these, the perpetrator’s motive is potentially not as innocuous as that of the run-of-the mill creepster across the ocean.

For a time, the phone calls stopped, leading Adriana to believe that there was an end in sight.

One night, as Adriana sat in her living room, her phone began to vibrate: Marcella, her BFF, was calling. This would not normally be cause for concern, of course, but Marcella was sitting right next to her.

The two scrambled to find Marcella’s phone and confirmed that she was not, in fact, calling – they let the call go through to voicemail. But seconds later the individual purporting to be Marcella called again. This time, Adriana answered, and was greeted with a familiar line: “This is Jasdesh Patel, calling on behalf of Jasdesh Patel.”

They decided to contact the police.

But the girls’ report wasn’t met with the judicious vigor that they had anticipated. One particularly unsympathetic officer rolled his eyes and dismissively exclaimed “Oh, God” when Adriana and Marcella tried to explain their situation. At one point the officer interrupted them, saying that they “did this shit to themselves” by making their information available online. He posited that Adriana probably had posted her phone number on Facebook, giving access to anyone with a computer and a motive. Admittedly, there did not seem to be much that the police could do at the time, unprofessional attitudes or not. But still, a bit of sympathy for what was undoubtedly a form of harassment would have been appreciated.

This much is clear: what may have started out as a lame attempt at a prank soon turned into a stress-inducing nightmare. Adriana has already taken a hiatus from Facebook, having only recently returned with a disguised name. The girls also plan to change their numbers and are looking into using their cell phone providers’ records to track down the pursuant. It is difficult to say, however, whether any such investigation would put an end to Jasdesh’s advances.

To be sure, technology allows for the potential of self-perpetuated isolation. Physical “facetime” has for many turned into “Facebook time” and for still many more, texting and email have replaced all other forms of communication. The argument can certainly be made that the rise of the Internet has brought with it a rise in reclusive behavior – or, at least, a rise in the number of excuses one can conjure up to justify staying holed in a dark room.

But in Adriana’s case, and others like it, the problem isn’t that we are becoming disconnected, it’s that we are becoming too connected. The allure of the Internet, and of social networking sites in particular, is the phenomenon of simultaneous connection and disconnection; without leaving our pajamas, we can know what millions of people across the world are doing. In most instances, those who surf over to our profiles do so benignly. And even among hackers, trolls, and other commonplace Internet villains, their antics rarely result in any lasting damage. Typically, the havoc they wreak stays confined to the virtual world.

But what can be done when disturbances transcend the cyber realm, when our screens can no longer be our savers? What happens when electronic threats become dangerously real, and how are we to know what to take seriously? Though it is difficult to imagine an individual with both the mental capacity to track down a foe’s personal information and the level of immaturity to use it as a means of harassment, such antagonists are certainly out there. I’d postulate that this sort of pithy troublemaker is similar to the kid who puts gum on the underside of door handles and unscrews the caps on salt and peppershakers.

So carefree Facebookers, be warned! Whether they reside across the ocean or across the street, the enemy you cannot see is often the most dangerous enemy of all.


Hailing from Wasilla, the duct tape capital of the world, Alaskan warrior princess Sarah Palin dog-sledded into our hearts but eighteen months ago, when the joyous news broke that she had been nominated as the Republican Party’s Vice Presidential candidate. Since her ticket’s defeat at the hands of a possible Marxist with no birth certificate, the post-mortem campaign reports have long been written, and the subsequent intra-party backbiting has simmered. But like any true maverick, Sarah always gets the final word. Her already-nostalgic autobiography, Going Rogue: An American Life, proves that the voting electorate was wholly duped by spiteful McCain staffers who sought to taint her valorous public image, as well as vengeful news anchors who maliciously besmirched her exemplary character.

It cannot be denied that the GOP displayed virtue and courage by choosing a woman candidate, knowing full well that her gender would fuel vicious criticism of working mothers; as we know, most Americans are still not quite comfortable with undomesticated females running amuck. Her selection, it should go without saying, was a noble sacrifice indeed. Sarah, who has spent a career working darn hard to fight that double standard, describes in detail her efforts to reconcile a politician’s unforgiving schedule with the duties she must perform as a humble matriarch. Back when the highest office to which she aspired was the mayorship of a small tundra hamlet, Sarah would tote along her brood as she went door-to-door, introducing the tykes to eager residents of fair Wasilla.

Like the Republican Party at large, Sarah is a champion of women’s rights and freedoms. Us women, she triumphantly declares, have won this nation’s greatest freedom: the freedom to give birth. Because of trailblazers like Sarah, we have been bestowed with the opportunity to mold and to nurture our nation’s youthful minds forevermore. Together we rejoice in thanks for the freedom to charter America’s next course. Ladies, take Sarah’s advice: “choose life.” Because by so doing, we accept the solemn duty to carry on this country’s celebrated lineage – a duty that embodies true womanhood, true patriotism, and true victory.

Sarah is also a strong proponent of change, courageously noting that “every part” of her 2006 gubernatorial race echoed the revolutionary motif. But settle down, faithful readers – change is a privilege, not a right. It must be earned the old-fashioned way: hard work, prayer, and vague statements related to the definition of freedom. Don’t even get her started on same-sex marriage; Sarah simply will not stand for any back-assward attempts “to change that definition” of marriage as between one man and one woman. What honor! What eloquence!

She does, nevertheless, confess: when the long road in pursuit of Wasilla’s prized seat of high governance turned rocky, and her household upkeep started to slip, the one thing she sure could have used was “a wife.” Sarah all the while professes herself to be a fierce advocate of gender-equality, calling on women to forge ahead in what is too often a man’s world. Though a visionary, Sarah is also grounded in reality: she recognizes that at times it is necessary for women to step down from their platforms and reaffirm what is intuitive within us – that, all said, our rightful place might well be in the home.

Going Rogue also highlights the unfair media coverage to which Sarah was subjected during the campaign as clear testament to the nefarious hidden agendas of CBS and ABC. Both networks launched surprise attacks against the unwitting steward of freedom on two separate occasions: one during an interview with CBS’s Katie Couric, and the other during an interview with ABC’s Charles Gibson. Questions from Couric such as, “Why in your view is Roe v. Wade a bad decision?” and “When it comes to establishing your worldview, which newspapers and magazines do you regularly read?” were clearly out of line, confirming their asker’s insatiable liberal bias. How dare a broadcast journalist demand that Sarah name specific titles of publications from which she draws influence! It is enough to know that her political platform is based on freedom, liberty, freedom, the right to bear arms, and folksy mannerisms.

The beleaguered heroine also withstood misplaced criticism over her assertion that Alaska’s proximity to Russia is causal to her impressive foreign policy credentials. Despite what Manhattan elites might have us believe, this claim is completely plausible. Paul Begala, a CNN contributor, later obnoxiously retorted: “I can see the moon from my backyard, but that doesn’t make me an astrophysicist.”

Mr. Begala, I pity your lack of self-confidence – in America anything is possible. Now pull up your bootstraps and get to work: a celestial playground awaits you!

And for Gibson of ABC to “not seem as interested” during his paltry interview! Where is the professionalism, the respect, the love of God and country? And that Couric – what a ruthless manipulator! “Katie’s purpose – shared by most media types – seemed to be to frame a ‘gotcha’ moment,” Sarah writes in another blazing display of bravery.

Any public perception problems were not of Sarah’s doing. McCain campaign politicos did a poor job in prepping her for these interviews, she says, and the guardian of family and faith was left to her own underdeveloped devices. Vindictive chief strategist Steve Schmidt, she claims, happily watched as she sunk like a block of lead, intentionally withholding any efforts to keep her buoyant.

Not to be outdone, Sarah has caught her fair share of unsuspecting freedom-haters in their own ‘gotcha’ moments. When bridled with criticism from vegetarians and vegans for her activities as a celebrated huntress, Sarah offered a simple, no-nonsense philosophy: “If God had not intended for us to eat animals, how come He made them out of meat?” Oh, you’ve cornered them now, Sarah! I do wonder, though – if God had not intended for us to eat other humans, how come He made them out of meat? No matter!

And so, reader, if you ever feel out of touch with real America – or teabaggin’ disillusioned white people – do not fret! If your knees begin to tremble in the face of diversity and modernity – stand proud and firm! And if the American Dream seems to be slipping away into the abyss of Katie Couric’s ivory tower – press on! Crack open a copy of Going Rouge, young patriot, and be at ease. Your savior has arrived, and her magnum opus is in tow.


So I’m sure at this point that everyone has seen them; it’s kind of hard not to. They’re balls. Four of them. They are each bigger than a person, and they are sparkly and vaguely teletubby-colored. And apparently almost 1800 people are mad as hell about them.

I’ve rarely seen such an eruption of dialogue on this campus (and no lie, it brings me great glee), and certainly never over anything so innocuous. But there’s an incredible deal of anger about them, ranging from the money spent on them to their clash of aesthetics with the architecture to just that they look like aliens landed on the grass. So I figured, being a senior art major at this school, I might as well clear up a few things:

First, the money. That seems to be the biggest problem everyone has; but what they don’t realize is that the money spent on them could not legally have been spent on anything but public art. Not elevators, not computers, not scholarships, not art supplies for students. It’s part of a program called Percent for Art. Check out New Jersey Statute 52:16A-31. According to this, any new public building created at the expense and for the use of the state must incorporate a fine arts element, costing no more than 1.5% of the total cost of the construction of the building. The four balls are only about .67% of the cost of the new Art and IMM building. Furthermore, there are some other things to consider: these are a permanent installation, not a limited-time exhibition or one-time performance. Read over the SFB article every week in the Signal; the price of the balls has been far exceeded by one-time several-hour concerts – for example, the allocated total funds for this year’s three concerts and four comedy shows came to $225,000 and $120,000, respectively. Keep in mind that while everyone pays over $200 a semester for activity fees, only a limited portion of the campus community attends any of these given shows – under a thousand people, in fact, because Kendall Theater and the Mayo Concert Hall can’t accomodate any more than that. Meanwhile, these are pieces that are permanently accessible to everyone, at all times.

Which brings me to the next point of contention, which is that they are an eyesore. Honestly, I feel no sympathy for people tooting this horn. I’m sorry, is your Disneyland campus ruined now? (And that’s only half-sarcastic – TCNJ boasts in its prospective student brochures that they consult extensively with designers from Disneyland to craft their campus aesthetic.) Is the subtle balance of pseudo-colonial architecture constructed within the last fifty years and recently lead-free astroturfed sporting fields that severely interrupted? Does glitter really piss you off that much, make your blood boil and your pulse throb in your temple? Were you previously reveling in a joyous bubble of red brick, twiggy trees and shrubs, an experience now forever lost? (And on that note – do you know how much those pretty little trees cost?)

Another point to keep in mind is that this is the first piece of public art on TCNJ’s campus. The first. Ever. For all that it boasts of its fine reputation, even deigns to call itself a “public ivy,” it is the only college in the state that I can think of that has been up to this point art-free – take a quick drive down 206 to Princeton and witness the multiple pieces strewn amongst a campus even more firmly set in its historical aesthetic. My younger sister goes to school at Stockton, a more humble college, and yet they too put us to shame – for all that their buildings look like college-ized high school buildings, their campus has seen fit to make a point of including statuary. Fuck, Panera Bread has more public art than we do. As far as looking out of place goes, they’ll have a more logical context with future pieces of art to come.

Meanwhile, Willie Cole is an internationally-renowned (far from unknown, as some have been claiming) prominent African-American artist, a recipient of numerous awards who very recently had a solo show of his work at the Met in New York; he has work in the Met, at MoMA, at the Whitney.

As far as I’m concerned: I like ’em. I’ve never been a big fan of the pretentious super-collegiate architectural facade this school so values, and I love that these pieces are such a departure and contrast. Sure, I think the justification sent out by John Laughton (Dean of the School of Art and Communication) is a bit of a stretch; I get what they’re going for conceptually, with the spheres representative of a basic shape which forms the armiture of more traditional work in drawing, painting and sculpting, and the individual colors representative of individual pixel colors which together comprise a digital work. But I don’t think it needs to rest on that; I think the real strength of this work lies in the fact that something so innocent, so innocuous, so utterly harmless and uncontroversial has created the biggest uproar in my time here. They are far from aesthetically unpleasing art – gosh darn it, they’re down right… pretty. Just straight-up pretty. I’m not sure how much further one can push the concept of “pretty” than sparkly purple, pink, yellow and blue. Trust me, there’s plenty of more traditional art that’s just downright fugly (while you’re in Princeton checking out their outside public art, stroll into the gallery, up the flight of stairs, and spend a little time in contemplation in front of “The Pasta Eater” by Luca Giordano.)

And if you’re one of those people who, infuriated by the presence of the balls, has come to question the need for artists in society, and has even been driven to advise them to “get a real major, like accounting”: first of all, back away from your computer, throw out your iphone, rip off your clothes and run out of your house – sorry, none of those products you’re surrounded by would exist without an artist in charge of their design. You’ll have to take to foraging hunter-gatherer style, unless you don’t mind touching that artist-designed food packaging; and once you get to the register, you’re screwed. That stuff you’re pulling out of your wallet? That stuff that accounting revolves around? You know, money? That’s the most art of all – the grandest of conceptual art pieces! – simply a piece of paper with some carefully arranged lines, with absolutely no inherent value (unlike clothing, or food, or shelter), just that which everyone has decided to agree on and honor in daily trade. Suck it up, bitch! We live in a visual culture.

And as a Dutch lady once said, “Since when is having some balls a bad thing?”



Princeton professor and noted philosopher Peter Singer visited TCNJ on October 20 to discuss his new book, The Life You Can Save. His 1975 manifesto, Animal Liberation, is widely credited as the touchstone of the modern animal rights movement. Singer sat down with The Perspective to discuss vegetarianism, politics, and the rights of non-human animals.



Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – the environmental ethos that has been etched into our minds since elementary school. More recently, these words or other derivatives have been appearing on t-shirts, cosmetics, and even coffee cups. But how much thought is actually given to the actions that they purport to suggest? Does the mass production of “environmentally-friendly” t-shirts realistically help to reduce over-consumption? Are cosmetic companies actually putting reusable shampoo bottles on the market? Is 10% of that Starbucks cup really post-consumer recycled material?


“You know how to whistle, don’t you Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.” Lauren Bacall crooned this to Humphrey Bogart in To Have and Have Not in 1944, and although the same instructions would likely still apply, perhaps now no one would be listening to them. The act of whistling doesn’t seem to have aged as well as the film. In fact, whistling seems to have all but disappeared from modern society, particularly among our generation.

whistle cartoon




Once a year, the inhabitants of suburban New Jersey gather together in celebration of that most joyous of autumnal days: Homecoming. On drizzly fall afternoons, as birds warble and leaves float gently to the grass, in the distance the sound of revving engines and pumping subwoofers disturbs the bucolic atmosphere, announcing the arrival of the Homecomers.

A long caravan of every imaginable sport utility vehicle emerges, each equipped with infinite trunk space and a sturdy tailgate, for it is known that on this day no man shall be without these essentials.

The wagons purr to a stop and their brood spills out, busying themselves with tent poles and hammers. Within moments, a canvas city is erected and the day’s festivities can begin. In play, children scramble through mud while their parents spit-roast the heartiest of Oscar Meyers. It is reminiscent of a renaissance fair.

During this charming harvest festival, the people share all manner of delicacies painfully acquired through a season’s toil. The revelers usher in the colder months, enjoying the last of their summer bounty before winter’s frost makes Cheetos and Miller Lite scarce.

Yes, the onlookers eagerly stuff themselves with meat and mead in anticipation of the day’s sporting events. A pastime whose spectators can gorge themselves while watching others exercise is a great pastime indeed.

The day’s climax manifests in the crowning of the Homecoming king and queen, figureheads of fruitful farming. Both are perfect physical specimens, the best the human race has to offer, and were selected using the same process as prizewinning pumpkins. The attendees feel secure knowing the fate of the human race is saved with the pairing of these two thoroughbreds.

As the day winds down, the steel caravans head back to their homesteads. They leave in their wake muddy lawns, a plethora of refuse, and happy memories of living the American Dream.

Needs More Clockwork: An Essay

With novels like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s 1984 spearheading themes of social justice in many high school classrooms, it’s a wonder one of the more

clockwork2recent dystopian novels, Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, has been left out of the academic line-up — like a large, smelly kid left out of a pick-up kickball game.


The Hurt Locker

Calling attention to independent movies, Roger Ebert said, “it’s a miracle any film gets made. Millions of tiny pieces have to come together.” It’s extremely difficult for independent filmmakers to finance their own projects while competing with profit-guzzling blockbusters that are backed by the mainstream film industry.

An example: According to Variety magazine, Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, director Michael Bay’s explosion-laden sequel about wars between aliens and robots, was the first movie ever to receive full support from the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force. The military, funded by taxpayers, didn’t hesitate to provide the use of “Marine hovercrafts, Navy subs and nearly every kind of Army helicopter and Air Force plane in service… all coordinated through special arrangement with the Department of Defense.”