Beats @ Columbia, glimpsed in the end credits of John Krokidas’s Kill Your Darlings.
Ended my week’s festivities at CMJ Music Marathon by seeing a spunky femcee from Edmonton, Canada. Click above to see my review on Altcitizen.
She’s the indie Knowles, and we’re ok with that.
“My food is faster than yours!!! #fashionweekdiet” I woke up early for a bus back to NYC and saw this Instagram picture, posted by British supermodel Cara Delevingne. She and a model pal, wearing fresh faces and center parted hairdos, are holding up sizable McDonald’s bags with their teeth. The pal, Jourdan Dunn, is winking at the camera.
I knew what that image was trying to do to me. It was trying to make me think: “Look! Not all models are anorexic try-hards! Some are confident in their bodies, and although this is a serious career-making time for some folks, they are not taking this time too seriously. They are just frolicking on the couture playgrounds of NYC, London and Paris, as they should at their age. What a great life!” It was trying to make me, as a 22-year-old woman living in and participating in the culture of one such playground, feel that I could relate to these likable personas.
But I do not feel this way. Not even remotely.
22-year-old Amory Blaine, the autobiographical hero of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise, may have predated computers by several decades, but he sure did nail the troubles of today’s media environment in the following passage, from the chapter entitled “Restlessness.” It’s particularly relevant to the viral ephemera produced by popular blogs, and the recent acquisition of the Washington Post:
"We want to believe. Young students try to believe in older authors, constituents try to believe in their Congressmen, countries try to believe in their statesmen, but they can’t. Too many voices, too much scattered, illogical, ill-considered criticism. It’s worse in the case of newspapers. Any rich, unprogressive old party with that particularly grasping, acquisitive form of mentality known as financial genius can own a paper that is the intellectual meat and drink of thousands of tired, hurried men, men too involved in the business of modern living to swallow anything but predigested food. For two cents the voter buys his politics, prejudices, and philosophy. A year later there is a new political ring or a change in the paper’s ownership, consequence: more confusion, more contradiction, a sudden inrush of new ideas, their tempering, their distillation, the reaction against them —
And that is why I have sworn not to put pen to paper until my ideas either clarify or depart entirely; I have quite enough sins on my soul without putting dangerous, shallow epigrams into people’s heads”
-This Side of Paradise
FUNemployment amirite? Right? Guys?
People were gathered in a circle, dripping like popsicles in various states of undress, as the delicious yellow sun set along the grid. It was an eclectic crowd, as is to be expected at mass protests and at Union Square in general, where the drum circles and break dancers and Hare Krishna chanters rarely attract undue amounts of attention. People hoisted up signs reading slogans like, “I AM TREYVON MARTIN,” “AMERICA DOESN’T CARE ABOUT BLACK PEOPLE,” and even, “VINCENT CHIN, WHY LET HISTORY REPEAT ITSELF?”
"We forget to love our neighbors. I’m not even going to front, I do it too," a small woman wearing a hat with an upturned brim was saying from the center of the circle. Her limbs seemed to fail to keep up with the movement in her eyes. She was scared, she said, for her dark-skinned brother. She was saddened that her bright friend could not get financial aid to go to med school. She did not want to reproduce in a country like this, she said. “We need to get uncomfortable," she lamented. A man near the inner edge of the circle wearing multiple Che Guevara pins echoed her like a one-man choir.
A tall man entered the crowd to speak, and the crowd issued a ripple of “Mic check!” when he appeared to whisper. Someone handed a megaphone to the baritone. He read quotes from a small holy book in a placid, sleepy tone. To the crowd’s dismay, his quotes failed to reverberate even when amplified. He was drowned out by a chant of “NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE!” The sun had set, the green Whole Foods sign was lit up, and a double-decker bus drove by with wide-eyed tourists aiming their cameras at the crowd from the top deck. The chant died down, and a woman standing next to me said, “I still want peace, though.”
A woman named MJ entered the circle, and said that she had lost a brother to a policeman’s bullet 10 years prior. A few people teared at this. A third woman took the megaphone to say she was angry. She was black, and a woman, and angry, and in this country, in 2013, this is not acceptable. “Well, FUCK that!” she shouted.
Finally, an eager man in a blue bandana pushed through the crowd to get to the megaphone. When his turn came, he reached into his pocket and read from a sheet of lined notebook paper. He read the names of 33 US states. “Texas!” was the first one. States that had instated Stand Your Ground Laws. Such a law in Florida permitted neighborhood watch patrol George Zimmerman to kill 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in an act of self-defense as the boy walked back to a friend’s house after buying Skittles.
"Thank you for research!" Someone in the crowd shouted. The man in the blue bandana retreated back as people tittered and waited for the next speaker. A woman named Anita took to the concrete stage. “Advocates for peace don’t carry guns," she said. “Jesus didn’t carry no gun!" A woman in the crowd turned to her friend and said of Zimmerman, “He’s gonna be just like OJ. He’s gonna get his ass blacked up."
I left the crowd and caught up with the man in the blue bandana. He was a street artist who had made several chalk creations now displayed in the square. The drawings were body outlines with smashed Skittles coming out of the head. The candy that had become a symbol of the boy’s innocence, of his fateful snack run, contrasted all too well with the violence of his death. The artist wasn’t heavily involved in the protest, or social issues in general, for that matter. He wasn’t black, and he wasn’t particularly angry. He wore a shirt with Trayvon’s likeness on the back.
Rallies and protests are bound to attract oddballs, onlookers, and drifters. This protest was no different. After the not-guilty verdict was handed to Zimmerman on Saturday night, protests erupted all over the country. To the crowds, the legal details of the case were insignificant. To an extent, the wishes and the intentions of the individual people involved were insignificant. To the crowds, the legal system’s failure to convict Zimmerman and bring justice to Trayvon are endemic of the larger failures of public safety and of education. The larger failures to acknowledge and eliminate racism.
And so the crowd was moved and it was moving. It was growing and it was undulating, and it was singing “We Shall Overcome.” Its body was plastered with the images of the same face in the same hoodie over and over again. The candy and the gunshot are guaranteed to be the only things that remain of Trayvon Martin himself. In this way, the crowd lifts him, and it drops him.
It was always your dream city until the reality of life here hit you like a two-ton taxi at 75mph.
Senior column for the Columbia Daily Spectator. Who knew a free etiquette dinner could be so worthwhile?
One of my favorite Tumblrs.
Yesterday, Twitter launched #music, its new app that allows users to see and hear what their favorite artists are listening to. Last week I covered WBAR, the student-run, free-form radio station of Barnard College, in an extensive feature story.
If it catches on, #music may present an opportunity for emerging artists, such as the ones WBAR draws to its shows, to make their names and songs viral, and to spread the word about other new artists, especially if a celebrity with a large following mentions them.
I thought it might be fun to see what WBAR’s favorite artists, past and present, are listening to and tweeting about. Their eclectic tastes did not disappoint:
LE1F (@LE1FNY) –on the “skronky” rapper’s page, you can find tracks from A$AP Rocky, Lil Kim, and Kendrick Lamar, as well as French DJ Bambounou and rap group Drones Over Bklyn. His upbeat, sassy tweets are also worth a peep.
Roomrunner (@rmrnnr)- a favorite of WBAR Promotions Director Nathan Albert, the Baltimore bunge rock band will be playing at the WBAR-B-Q April 27th. They like Beach House, Marnie Stern, Dan Deacon, Future Islands, and the Foo Fighters.
Bikini Kill (@thebikinikill) – the feminist punk band broke up in 1997 but their page features other female powerhouses such as Joan Jett, the Donnas, MIA, Yoko Ono, and Girl in a Coma.
Mos Def (@MosDefOfficial) – He hasn’t appeared to tweet much since he last played at Barnard in 1997, but Mos Def, who writes poetry these days by his real name, Yasiin Bey, does like Talib Kweli.
Swearin’ (@aqcrutchfield) – Swearin’ is an underground pop-punk group from the Baltimore and Philadelphia areas, and the Twitter tastes of lead singer Allison Crutchfield reflects that: Pixies, Grimes, Neko Case, Julian Casablancas, and Loretta Lynn.
Vampire Weekend (@vampireweekend) – The Columbia alumni, who have had tremendous mainstream success since their days as WBAR DJs, tend to tweet about similarly successful artists: Calvin Harris, Janelle Monae, Arcade Fire, Chromeo and Sleigh Bells all make their list.
It’s easy enough to spend a few hours going through the pages of #music. This might just be the cure to the impending post-Coachella blues.
Approximately a month after the Boy Scouts of America sent out a divisive survey to its 1.1 million members about gay membership in the organization, and thirteen years after the Supreme Court decision that upheld its ban on openly gay scouts, Scout leaders have made an announcement today about a proposal to reverse the ban. The new membership policy would apply to scouts themselves, but not scout leaders.
England has a rich tradition of scouting dating back to the turn of the 20th century, when British army officer Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell wrote Scouting For Boys, so naturally the issue has fascinated British audiences. Over at The Guardian, strong opinions have been voiced by polls, editorials and reader comments for both sides of the debate, but more or less overwhelmingly in favor of lifting the ban.
South African news source The Independent has covered the boy scouts story since the BSA affirmed its decision to deny membership to gay members in July. Scouting in South Africa has undergone several changes due to its history of racial discrimination. The Independent’s coverage has elicited some colorful comments from readers who support the ban, including one reader who suggested Madonna, who spoke out against the ban in March, “can go start Gay Scouts.”
The Latin American community has been relatively quiet on the issue, but an op-ed appeared today by Fabiola Santiago in El Nuevo Herald, the Spanish-language division of the Miami Herald that reaches communities in Latin America and the Caribbean. In it, Santiago states, “Discrimination has no place in the Scouting movement,” and “The Boy Scouts should promote tolerance and inclusion.”
The new proposal will be voted on May 20th, and must be approved by approximately 1400 members of the Scouts’ National Council. Openly gay members are not excluded from scout organizations in Canada, the UK, Germany, Sweden, and Australia; nor are openly gay members excluded from the Girl Scouts of America.