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CESIUM

magazine
Issue 5: Maturity Purchase
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(table of elements)
from the editor 3
contributors 4
nightlife 36

Boyfriend 6
Fiction by Grant Tracey. Growing up, long-distance.
Raisins 10
Essay by Susan Hodara. Love and raisins.
audibles 12
Brian Tambascio reviews albums from The Feeling, Bloc Party
and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.
mixtape 14
A look at the music you should be listening to.
cinema 16
Rebecca Hay takes a critical eye to Wonderland.
interview: Giants 20
Emily Berregaard talks with the instrumental group, Giants.
In Defense of Cheap Booze 29
Essay by T.J. Washington. Forget premium - drink cheap.
Scenes from an American Protest 30
Essay by Adam Moore. Discovering the lost art of raising hell.
(from the editor)
“You may find yourself in a nuanced view of the world than I had before. I don’t do
beautiful house, with a beau- half of the stupid shit I used to do – although any former
tiful wife, and you may ask girlfriends would love to debate that. I don’t listen to Dash-
yourself, how did I get here?” board Confessional anymore. I am responsible. Kind of.

Wiser words than I could ever And so, as the editor and the staff grow up, we’re celebrat-
come up with, spoken by a true ing Cesium’s awkward adolescence as well. This issue
social poet. Attentive readers marks one year of publishing for us, and in that short span
may recognize this quote and of time, we’ve gone through some changes, some big and
the associated band, and as small. Perhaps one of the most exciting additions is in the
ridiculous as it may be to use Cesium family; I am honored to have my dear friends and
‘80s art-school punk as the crack designers Andy Evans and Wes High join up, and
basis for any serious musings, you can expect some sweet graphics to come of it all.
I’ve recently found quite a bit We’ve got a new cover look, and even a new page size.
of truth within the beautifully
resigned, “Once in a Lifetime.” We’ve also spent some late nights and plenty of alcohol
on updating the webpage (now a shiny Flash application!),
As David Byrne intelligently pointed out on the 1980 and now you can get your Cesium in any number of ways
milestone, Remain in Light, maturation is a funny thing. It you’d like – from reading it online, downloading a copy you
always creeps around in the shadows, hanging over your can print out or buying a nice, shiny version to hold in your
shoulder. You never can seem to see it coming. And all of hands.
the sudden, like an unwelcome houseguest, it shows up,
carrying a full-time job (with benefits), utility bills and car Of course, the content isn’t going to change too much.
payments. Perhaps the most ironic part of it all is that I This month we’ve got some fiction from Grant Tracey, an
don’t really feel any older – society just says, “sorry dude, interview with great instrumental band, Giants, a report
but it’s time.” from the January antiwar march in Washington D.C., plenty
of cool photography and a defense of cheap booze. What
Of course, our personal maturation is happening simul- else could you ask for?
taneously within a broader growing-up, which can fre-
quently confuse things. Our culture and society continue Thanks to all of you who continue to grow with us. I hope
to change, some ways positive, and others negative. The to hear from you all.
media continues to push envelopes and see where the
lines are – if there are any at all. The Internet continues
to mature and move to a level of sophistication unheard
of only a few years ago. We are rapidly trying to keep up,
to acclimate to the new levels of hyper-information, now
available with a click.
Adam Moore
Editor-in-Chief
Of course, none of this is meant to cast maturity in a dis-
paraging light. Maturity has brought me a broader, more
(contributors) The brilliant writers and artists who give us
something to publish.

Grant Tracey
wrote “Boyfriend” and teaches creative writing at the University of
Northern Iowa. His second collection of stories, Playing Mac and Other
Scenes, was recently published by Pocol. He also edits the North Ameri-
can Review and enjoys listening to the Ramones. 1-2-3-4!

Susan Hodara
wrote “Raisins” and is a writer, freelance journalist and editor, and who
has been writing memoirs for more than 15 years. Her articles have been
published in the New York Times, Communication Arts, House, West-
chester Magazine, salon.com, and more. Her memoir pieces appear in
several anthologies including The Westchester Review, I Wanna be Sedat-
ed, My Heart’s First Steps and Surviving Ophelia. She calls Westchester
County, NY home.

Elliot Carlin
photographed “Scenes from an American Protest,” and is currently pur-
suing a degree in Political Science and Economics from the University of
Iowa. He plays the drums in his spare time, and is spending entirely too
much time on his debut EP.

T.J. Washington
wrote this issue’s essay on cheap alcohol, and why he continues to drink
it even though we all know he can afford the good stuff. He is currently
managing the day shift at Blockbuster, and would like to remind all renters
to be kind and rewind.

Michael Roach
contributed photos for our issue. He has recently published his first
book of photography, entitled Street Photography of New York’s Capital
Region. His work has also been on display in a variety of group and solo
exhibitions around the New York area.

Emily Berregaard
interviewed the band, Giants, and is a UNI student, majoring in English
with a creative writing minor, although she wishes to be elsewhere. She’s
into making plans that she won’t follow through with and doing things she
always said she would never do. She enjoys making music and clothing,
reading poetry, independent films, and writing. She someday wants to
travel to far away places and help people who need it.
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Fiction by Grant Tracey
The bus was leaving Iowa City in forty-seven minutes and and depth than I ever could. I’m just good on a stupid,
Brian Hagopian wanted his daughter Sophia to have time standardized test,” he said one evening over fried chicken.
alone with Eli Fletcher, her first ever boyfriend. “I’ll just Brian just wished the kid wasn’t bisexual.
walk around. Maybe go to the bookstore,” he said. “I’ll be The tips of Brian’s ears ached as he walked
back before the bus leaves.” through a construction site, passing scarred plywood
“Sure, Daddy.” Sophia leaned against the shoulder and scattered bricks before fronting on a courtyard. A
of Eli. He was brushing hair from her eyes. His own hair fountain fanned water. Brian was so hot that he walked
was black and braided. right through it. Spots formed on his glasses. He enjoyed a
Outside, the afternoon was a bright, heavy curtain. world thus arrayed.
Brian sought spots of shade, but his shoulders tired as Last year’s high school boys liked Sophia but
heat shivered through the thin branches on sidewalk trees. never asked her on a date. A mother of one of Sophia’s
Brian wanted to like Eli and he did. female friends referred to Brian’s daughter as “that Jewish-
Eli had an amazing ability to listen. In the midst of looking girl.” Sophia’s “exotic” looks were courtesy of
a conversation, he’d pause, chin raised, eyebrows peaking Dad, a mix of Lebanese and Armenian. Brian’s freckled
over gold-rimmed glasses as he absorbed words, phrases, wife Edie was all Dutch and Irish. Anyway, he was glad to
halting for little epiphanies before speaking. see that now that she was in an Eastern college Sophia’s
Brian also admired Eli’s humility. The kid scored features—dark hair and eyes, full lips and strong nose—
32 on his ACT but thought the test “wasn’t worth a were rightly appreciated.
damn. Your daughter writes with so much more sincerity
 / 36
“What do you want to do with your life?”
Absently, Brain walked into a comic-book shop. He hadn’t albums of all time. Eli had read the list and so far had
been in one in years. When Sophia was seven, Brian read collected 138 of the titles. He was educating himself, and
Lee/Kirby’s Captain America and Lee/Ditko’s Spider-man Brian found that and Eli interesting.
to her, shifting into a variety of voices and lowering to a At the comic shop, Brian was underwhelmed.
guttural lull when playing the Red Skull. He pointed to the There was way too much anime and not much in the way
blocky forms, forced perspectives, and square fingers of of old-school superheroes. The owner, a heavyset guy with
Jack Kirby’s illustrations. He preferred Steve Ditko’s lithe a thin ponytail, asked if he could help and Brian mentioned
lines and ethereal shapes to Spider-man. Sophia liked Ditko.
Aunt May and felt sad for Peter Parker because things “His stuff is hard to come by,” the man said.
never went his way. “Well, that’s life,” Brian said. “I’ve got the first thirty-eight issues of Spider-man”
“Dad, me and Eli have talked about this,” Sophia The owner nodded and picked up a leather-bound
had said ten days ago as they drove south on Highway edition. Captain Atom. It was a series that Ditko had done
380 to meet Eli at the bus station. She held her shoulders at Charlton in the early 60s, just before Spider-man.
sideways, looked at her father, lips parted, and then “I’ll take it,” Brian said.
glanced through the window. Green lines of grass “Sure. Hey, you know your glasses have spots of
shimmered with humidity. water on them.”
“I don’t know. There’s a part of him that he’s Three or four nights before purchasing the Ditko
denying in being with you—” comic collection, Brian joined his daughter and Eli in
“Dad. We’ve talked about this at length. He’s the basement. They were sitting against a set of plush
faithful to me and I’m okay with who he is. No worries. pillows, watching Bamboozled. Sophia had seen it in a
Really.” multicultural class at college. Her professor defined it as a
Brian imagined them, like he and Edie years piece of charged, Menippean satire.
ago, walking along the quad in a clip of moonlight, sitting “So, Eli?”
under a dim-lit porch to an Admin building or in a park on “Sir?”
a set of swings, talking about their futures, their sexual “What do you want to do with your life?”
experiences, and what they loved about each other. The “I don’t know. I’m not even twenty yet. I figure my
back of his throat felt like a dry towel. twenties are a time to play a little, find out what I might
“Dad, he loves me.” want to do and not box myself in.”
“No worries,” Brian repeated. Brian nodded, and Sophia shot him a puzzled look,
Within minutes of picking up Eli at the terminal, eyes dancing with a “Daddy-be-careful” glint. “I didn’t
Brian was completely disarmed. The young man called know what I wanted to do either when I was nineteen,”
Brian, “Sir,” and said he loved his film reviews. He had Brian said. He sat on the far end of the sofa and watched
read them online. Brian didn’t know that the Waverly the movie with them.
Herald posted them online. Edie opened the basement door and carried a
“One question, Sir.” The cuffs of Eli’s flannel shirt platter of soft drinks. “Is he giving you the third degree?”
were peeled back. “Which is the better film: Stop Making she asked Eli.
Sense or The Last Waltz?” Sophia laughed. “No. Dad’s cool, Mom.”
“Neither. Rock ’n’ Roll High School.” Eli sat forward, punched up a pillow, and rubbed
“With the Ramones. Cool.” his fingers along the sides of his temples. He paused. “You
And that was it. know. I just want to say to both of you that I really, really
Brian liked how Eli connected to popular culture. love your daughter.”
A few years ago Rolling Stone ranked the top 500 rock “We know,” Edie said, handing out soft drinks.
 / 36
“Yeah, but this bisexual thing—”

Eli sipped a Pepsi. “All of the offensive artifacts we He reached the top of a small hill and a Greyhound
see in the film are real,” he said to Brian. drifted into the heat. It turned away at the corner. “Shit.”
“Yeah,” Sophia said. “It’s Lee’s way of making us Brian stumbled into the station.
see truths and force us to want to act. That Jolly Nigger “Dad—” Sophia approached. “Look what Eli got
Bank. They really sold those ugly things.” me as a going-away gift.” It was Empire Falls by Rick
Brian folded into Sophia’s shoulder. Russo.
“Dad. This was a really difficult movie to talk about “That’s cool.” Brian hadn’t read it, but he had
in class. The students didn’t know what to say.” always planned too. “I thought I missed—”
“I can imagine,” Brian said. “No, Sir,” Eli said. He was riding on a Trailways.
As he walked back through scarred plywood and The bus that departed for Dubuque was a Greyhound. “I
splayed boards Brian glanced at his watch. Ten minutes read Empire Falls last summer. It’s really good. Great use
before the bus leaves. He picked up his pace, imagining of voice. Russo’s like the Dickens of our time.”
sad good-byes and taking Sophia out for ice cream, Brian would have to get around to reading it. He
comfort food, like he did when she was upset as a little girl. always liked Dickens.

 / 36
Sophia kissed Eli on a cheek and a Trailways bus her forehead. “Fifty-one days,” he said.
filled up the spaces in the station’s front window. Brian looked away and the bus driver collected
Two or three evenings ago, Brian surfed tickets.
“bisexuality” on the Internet. For some in the gay What Brian couldn’t understand is if he was okay
community, bisexuals are seen as poseurs, people who with Eli’s orientation, why couldn’t he tell any of his friends
are really gay but want to pass. A university study linked that his daughter’s boyfriend was bisexual? Instead, he
gay and bisexual sexual desires. A diverse pool of men let people assume that the kid was hetero. “Because it’s
were monitored with censors as they watched a variety of a private thing,” Edie said in their office the other night.
pornographic images. S traight men responded strongly to Really? Or was Brian embarrassed, a little bit? “No. You
all forms of straight and women on women sex. Bisexual know how others would react. Judge him.”
men reacted to the same imagery that gay men found And what Edie said was true. When Sophia first
erotic, but when asked about their sexual preferences, started dating Eli, his roommate Jason introduced Eli
bisexual men preferred to be in heterosexual unions as “My gay friend. Oh, and he has a girlfriend. This is the
when in love. It all had something to do with romantic girlfriend. Go figure, huh?” Everyone laughed with good-
conventions. natured awkwardness.
“What are you doing, now,” Edie asked, cracking Eli promised to call Sophia in an hour or two and
open the office door. Her hair was a mix of red highlights he boarded. The bus ride to Indianapolis was fifteen or so
and dirty auburn. Her blue eyes were full of mischief. hours with a long layover in Chicago.
“Nothing.” He sat by a window that faced Brian and blew
She sat down and looked at the computer screen. “Looks kisses at Sophia. “See you, dude,” Brian said with a big
like a lot of nothing.” She grabbed her husband’s arm. wave and Eli nodded. The bus then groaned and pulled
“You know, I’m okay with Eli. How many young men would away.
declare their love for a daughter to the girl’s parents?” Sophia watched it fade into traffic and the sun.
Brian nodded. “There he goes,” Brian said to say something.
“He’s sweet and old-fashioned.” “Fifty-one days. You’ll see him in fifty-one days. You’ll be all
“Yeah, but this bisexual thing—” right.” He tapped his daughter’s shoulder.
“Is it really that? Or are you afraid of losing your “Fifty-one days,” she said.
little girl? There’s another—” “You want some ice cream?”
“No, no, that’s not it. At least I—” How could Eli be “No, thanks, Dad.” She laughed and cried at the
happy in a monogamous relationship when he would be same time, remembering, no doubt, Dad’s old tricks to
denying half of his sexual identity? Wouldn’t he cheat on make her feel good.
Sophia? They walked up the street towards their red Yaris.
“That’s a myth,” Edie said, crossing her arms. “What book did you get?”
“Bisexuals are just as monogamous or as adulterous as “Oh, it’s goofy,” Brian said. “Early Steve Ditko.
straight people. Your eyes wander, but you never act on Captain Atom.”
your wandering eyes. I’m sure it’ll be the same for Eli.” “Oh, the Spider-man guy.”
“My eyes don’t wander—” “Yeah.”
“Oh, please.” “Maybe I’ll read that when I get done with Russo.”
Brian smiled. “You’ve been reading up on “That would be fine,” he said. cs
bisexuality too, haven’t you?”
“You bet,” she said.
Now, Brian, Eli and Sophia stood outside as the
bus driver loaded bags. The sun glinted sharply along the
sidewalk and Sophia was crying as she said good-bye. Eli photos by Michael Roach
was crying too. He brushed back her thick hair and kissed Get more fiction at www.cesium-online.com

 / 36
(RAI SINS)
For years, I didn’t buy raisins.
I couldn’t have them in the
cupboard without eating them
Essay by Susan Hodara incessantly. I tried storing them
in the refrigerator, and fastening
the waxy bag they’re in inside
their box with a rubber band,
but I could not outwit my urge.
Once I knew they were there,
neither they nor I were safe.
“. . .I couldn’t control my intake”
I consider raisins a healthy alternative to M&Ms. I consider kept in plain sight on their kitchen counter in a glass jar.
them a fruit, a source of iron, a digestive aid. I consider There the raisins sang to me, an incessant urging that
them a viable means of satisfying an oral craving by eating threaded through whatever else was occurring in the room:
them, like kernels of popcorn, one at a time. I have looked “Eat us. Eat us. Here we are.”
numerous times at the calorie count per serving size (130
for 1/4 cup) and then deceived myself that 1/4 cup is much Several months ago, I reverted and purchased a box.
larger than it is, and that this kind of calories is surely pro- There was no reason I couldn’t control my intake, I told
cessed more rapidly than others as fuel. myself. They are a worthy addition to a well-stocked
kitchen. Why shouldn’t I be able to have them in mine?
Rather than eating them one at a time, however, I grab For several days, I continued to act as if they weren’t there.
wads of them, pushing them together with the tips of my When I decided to eat some, I took a limited quantity,
fingers until they rise from the container attached to one put them on a plate, and placed them one by one on my
another in a group large enough to be called a mouthful. I tongue, then chewed well until they were gone. But within
do this over and over, standing in front of the open cabi- a week, my will had eroded, and I was back to wads.
net door, my hand dug deep into the box even as I’m still
chewing the previous wad. By now, I have taken to buying my raisins in bulk, refilling
the box as necessary. I sent away for a translucent plastic
I’ve tried the little boxes to regulate my serving size. I’ve cover that fits perfectly over the top to keep them fresher.
even tried the mini boxes, which I’ve estimated contain no The letters R-A-I-S-I-N-S are raised in boxy capitals along
more than 30 raisins total. But raisins packaged as such its rectangular surface. I hit that box after lunch and after
are a nearly different food, unable to fill the needs served dinner, and in the middle of some entirely unrelated activity
by their cousins in the full-size boxes. It is their numerous- in the kitchen. Sometimes while I’m talking on the tele-
ness that draws me, the endlessness of those sweet and phone, I’ll find myself with my hand inserted, pressing the
wrinkly units, one, then another, and always more. sticky pieces together, without even realizing it. cs
I never sicken of raisins, no matter how many I eat. But
they hold a power over me; I stopped buying them so I
wouldn’t eat them. Even then, when I visited my brother
Illustration by Joshua Johnson
and his family, I made straight for their raisins, which they Find more essays at www.cesium-online.com
11 / 36
(audibles)
This month, we take a look at three albums you might enjoy
pumping through those massive headphones of yours.

The Feeling – Twelve Stops and Home


2/4

The first major release from The Feeling is an intriguing piece of work, a consummate
pop album reveling in decade-old sounds, with splashes of falsetto genius and anthemic
prowess that owe quite a bit to late ‘70s soft rock. Tracks like “Kettle’s On” and “Strange”
shimmer with gorgeous pop moments and layered instrumentation; unfortunately, many
of the songs get predictable and overstay their welcome – turning many of these promis-
ing tracks into something more forgettable. Twelve Songs quickly begins to drown in a
sea of Supertramp/ELO/Queen sounds, and The Feeling seemingly forget to add some-
thing unique to the proceedings. Nevertheless, even though you know exactly how the
songs will unfold, and even though you’ll most likely forget this album after a listen or
two, you’ll still find yourself trying to restrain your foot from tapping while it’s in the player.

12 / 36
Bloc Party - A Weekend in the City
3/4

Well-crafted songs are the foundation of Bloc Party’s success and their second album
features everything from passionate choruses to overflowing harmonies. Unfortunately,
it seems that the group might be taking a cue from fellow Brit rockers – like U2 or Muse
– in attempting to make every track an epic. That remains to be seen, and Bloc Party’s
intense lyrics can border on the preachy at times, but lead singer Kele Okereke has
started to expand his vocal resume. “Waiting for the 7.18” and “On” feature Okereke’s
forceful lyrics with more instrumental emphasis on gradual crescendos and rich build up.
“Hunting for Witches” and “The Prayer” are exciting tracks with accelerated tempos and
addictive choruses that only Bloc Party could produce. Many of the songs on this album
are made with very skillful dedication but a run of similar tracks that end in “over the top”
fashion begins to blend together. Nevertheless, Bloc Party is one of those bands that ev-
erybody seems to know and with A Weekend in the City their reputation for making smart
rock won’t fade away any time soon.

Clap your Hands Say Yeah - Some Loud Thunder


2.5 / 4

The acoustic chant pop monster that is CYHSY has returned with their second album,
which is softer than the thunder of their debut. When these five guys from Brooklyn and
Philly appeared, the media exploded in excitement, but unfortunately the follow-up album
has not quite lived up to the hype it was given. Some Loud Thunder certainly provides
listeners with some adequate tracks, addictive melodies and psychedelic vocals, but the
album as a whole tends to drag on and not stay as consistent as their self-titled debut.
Standout tracks include “Love Song No. 7” which reveals the group’s darker side with
ghostly vocals and distant piano, and “Satan Said Dance” features an upbeat mishmash
of futuristic keyboards and repetitive choruses. The album unfortunately has its share
of flops, like “Upon Encountering the Crippled Elephant” which is an odd, very out of
place polka instrumental and the mindnumbingly dull “Arm and Hammer.” Overall, the
band says the course of once again giving us something we haven’t heard, but fails in its
ultimate goal to impress.

13 / 36
(mixtape)
A look at what’s spinning in the Cesium offices.

J. Haynes – Life From the Plantation

With a beat out of an old Nintendo game, J. Haynes lets the rhymes flow about his time
being, “an educator/with mega flavor.” If you like MC’s with unique subject matter and
flow to spare, you’ll want to end up here.

Spank Rock – Sweet Talk

Crank the sub and roll down the windows. Between this track and the close runner up,
“Backyard Betty,” Spank Rock is quite possibly the most erotic deep bass music we’ve
ever heard, and that’s not a complaint. Who knew a guy saying, “tap that ass” repeatedly
could be so fucking sweet.

Sigor Ros – Saeglopur

Sigor Ros is one of those bands that takes some time to get into, but once you do, it’s for
good. This song begins with sparkling chimes and piano, and quickly builds into one of
the lushest soundscapes we’ve ever heard. And that’s just at the two minute mark.

Sufjan Stevens – Holland

Stevens has this way of crafting pop songs that absolutely break your heart, in the
most beautiful way possible. Off the soundtrack to the popular Showtime series, Weeds,
Sufjan’s voice floats while the many instruments (all played by him) quietly exist in the
background. Keep a tissue handy.
14 / 36
The Thermals – Here’s Your Future

Imagine the Holy Book cast as a punk-rock opera, and you’ll come out with this track
from the Thermals. Complete with God, Christ, and a few other bit parts (Moses?), this
track simultaneously glorifies and destroys thousands of years of religious tradition.
Brilliant.

Wilco – I’m the Man that Loves You

Starting off with a great fuzzed-out one note riff – seemingly paying homage to George
Harrison – the song quickly transforms into a drifting 70s pop tune (think Steeler’s Wheel)
with flashes of country brilliance. No matter where Wilco takes this tune, whether it is into
tight harmonies or unbelievable dissonance, it works.

Killer Mike – That’s Life

Preach, brother, preach! The oft-maligned, oft-forgotten brain trust behind tracks like
“A.D.I.D.A.S.” and “Bump in Yo Trunk” is back, flowing ecstatic over a Hammond organ
and dispensing nuggets of street pragmatism to set all of us straight. “We wear our
pants big/Because our mothers were too poor to buy our size/Call it what it is/it’s fucking
poverty!” he cries, and the people said amen.

Tom Waits – Rain Dogs

“I sold a quart of blood and bought a half a pint of scotch” – with quotes like this, there’s
no question that this guy is a grade A badass. His smoky voice and bizarre lyrics
completely set him apart from everyone else out there right now. His folk, jazz and blues
tunes have won him Grammy Awards for two different albums, but still hasn’t gotten the
attention of our generation, as he deserves.

Owls – What Whorse You Wrote Id On

This is a unique four-piece band that merges jazz improvisation with post-punk sounds
and surprising vocals with poetically permeated lyrics. Although they are not around
anymore, they made a very solid album on Jade Tree records in 2001 that is very worth
possessing.
15 / 36
R
(cinema)

WONDER
RLAND This month, Rebecca Hay
takes a look at a movie filled with porn stars, coke and a hot Kate Bosworth.

The Back Story The Movie


By 1981, porn king John Holmes was past the glitzy If you’ve seen Boogie Nights, you have a good background
days of being Johnny Wadd, and found himself steeped for this movie; if you haven’t, I would suggest visiting it
in a serious drug habit. Surrounded by other heroin and first. Wonderland centers around the two main accounts
cocaine addicts, Holmes’ world is that of drug deals and given to police by Holmes (played by a scruffy but young-
robberies – and showing his 13.5” penis off at parties as looking Val Kilmer) and David Lind, a friend of the murder
a novelty. In the summer of 1981, five of his friends turn victims (played by Dylan McDermott, though you wouldn’t
up beaten with lead pipes, four of them dead. Holmes is know it without looking at the credits).
involved, but exactly what part he played in the murders
and the robbery that led to them is uncertain. The movie meanders between police interrogation,
flashbacks to the crime scenes, and the complex
relationship between Holmes, Holmes’ jaded wife (Lisa
Kudrow), and his naive young girlfriend (Kate Bosworth).
Since this is for Cesium, it probably goes without saying

17 / 36
“. . . but with a lot more lead pipe killings.”

that there are copious amounts of drugs involved – viewers be commended for this film, considering he hadn’t done
will quickly notice the correlation between illicit substance much of anything before Wonderland, and hasn’t done
use and really bad things happening directly afterwards. anything since – which, considering the content, isn’t
Think Blow, but with a lot more lead pipe killings. much of a surprise to us.

Don’t let a few assorted pipes to the head fool you The Wonderland DVD comes with some interesting
– Wonderland is a very pretty movie. Scene transitions features, most notably of which is the actual crime scene
are almost always supplemented with graphics ranging video. As I understand it, the video shows the crime scene
from newspapers to mug shots, and several moments are as it was found by police, bludgeoned bodies and all. I
presented like a music video, complete with well-placed haven’t been able to bring myself to watch this, but I figure
classic rock tracks. The movie is noticeably dark, but it is worth a mention for those who really like gore.
thankfully the numerous drug scenes are more entertaining
than depressing, which is nice. Director David Cox should
18 / 36
“. . . John Holmes just happens to be involved. ”

My Take
I like this movie quite a bit, and it’s a solid rental, but and story. This isn’t really the movie to watch if you want
there are some things you should know about my taste in to know about John Holmes the porn star – that movie is
movies. First, I like Val Kilmer. Second, I am an unabashed Boogie Nights. Wonderland is simply a true story placed in
sucker for excessively stylized cinematography. Third, a “what happens when you take too many drugs” context,
murder stories intrigue me, even more so when they are and John Holmes just happens to be involved. cs
particularly brutal and the events are based on actual truth.
If you’re still with me on any or all of these points, the
movie is probably a pretty safe bet, despite what the kid at
Blockbuster says.

The movie has been criticized for a perceived lack of


direction and a somewhat ungratifying ending, but I would Get more movies at www.cesium-online.com
argue that this is made up for in style, good characters,
19 / 36
(interview)

GIANTS
Interview by Emily Berregaard

In the past, intrumental music has always been regard- Cs: Who are your influences?
ed as a style for elevators, old people and the boring. Brad: Red Sparowes
However, as time progressed, more and more people Heath: Appleseed Cast
have explored the various styles and fashions of this Steve: Unwed Sailor
growing genre, and many artists have found it easier to Dave: Saxon Shore
express themselves through notes and sounds rather
than words. Many people have argued that this lyric- Cs: How has your sound changed since you started?
less sound can grow tedious and dull, but it has been Or has it?
proven by bands such as Explosions in the Sky and James: We made things a little more complex
Russian Circles that it just takes a lot of talent and abil- Heath: When we first started a year and a half ago, we
ity to grab a listener’s attention. With those high de- made our music by keeping the room for vocals to be
mands, it is obvious that solid instrumental bands are added. Now that we know that we want to stay instrumen-
few and far between. tal, we have made our sound strictly for instruments.
James: Yeah, we kind of switched from the idea of “verse,
Giants, a five-piece band from the Cedar Valley – deep chorus, verse” which we were using on our first EP.
in the heart of Iowa – have spent over a year perfect-
ing and finding their style by adding members, shaping Cs: Do your songs have a meaning or attempt to ac-
their sound and playing with highly regarded bands complish a certain mood?
such as The Appleseed Cast and Saxon Shore. James: Music is a message. People have told us that our
I have been fortunate enough to not only watch Giants music is uplifting. We just simply like making music and
grow as a band but as people and true musicians. This listening to it.
ridiculous interview was a very characteristic experi- Brad: Music is interpreted for each person’s own under-
ence for me, that I only wish the rest of you could have standing.
been a part of, due to the fact that their personalities Steve: Yeah, we’re really abandoning any pre-set idea.
play a huge part in the amiable aspect of Giants as a Heath: We just play music to play music.
band. The following is just a glimpse of what Heath
(guitar, rhodes), Dave (bass, bells), Steven (guitar, per- Cs: Why did you decide on no vocals? Are you ever go-
cussion), Brad (drums, organ) and James (guitar) have ing to reconsider that?
to offer. Steve: You can say a lot with just music.
Brad: Sometimes it’s easier to say without words at all.
Heath: There is a lot of emotion in the music alone.
Cesium: Why the name Giants? Dave: This way, you can make the music what you want.
Brad: I thought of it while contemplating my own body With words, the emotion is already decided for you. We
structure. leave it open to interpretation.

Cs: Have you guys toured? Cs: Are you being looked at by any labels? Are you
Heath: We’ve been on one official tour and it was about looking to get signed?
two weeks but we got stranded in Detroit because our James: There are a couple of small indie labels that we’ve
beloved van, Ghost Yogurt, broke down. had intense conversations with, and are deeply considering.

21 / 36
But only time will tell which is the right plan for us.
Heath: We would love to be signed by the time we put out
our full length, which should be in March.
Dave: Our show December 28 will probably be a little bit of a
teaser-release, if you know what I mean.

[ed note – Since this interview in early January, Giants has


signed with Medical Abuse Records out of California that will
put out their full length album in the spring of 2007]

Cs: Who have you played with in the past?


Heath: Appleseed Cast, Anathallo, Saxon Shore, Small
Towns Burn a Little Slower

22 / 36
Cs: Were you guys friends before you were in the band
together?
James: I wasn’t. I was just friends with Brad, and then got
to know everyone else through Brad.
Brad: Yeah, I got James in on things.
Heath: So. Basically. James wasn’t our friend.

Cs: What has been your biggest challenge so far?


Heath: Money.
James: Our hero, friend, and mentor Ghost Yogurt break-
ing down.

Cs: What do you foresee being your biggest challenge


coming up?
Heath: Funding our full-length album, pressing and promo-
tion. Getting too far into it without the money.

Cs: If you get signed, will you guys make any altera-
tions in your lifestyles?
Steve: I considered dropping out of school for a while, if
things are promising.
Brad: Relocation.
James: Whatever it takes as a whole to make everything
work out.

Cs: What is your ultimate goal with the band?


Heath: Play extensively all over
James: Travel as bros, band members and friends.
Steve: Freely express ourselves through a musical medium
of all of us.

Cs: How would you label everyone in the group?


James: Heath handles a lot of the management stuff. Brad
talks to promoters at shows … because we’re shy. Steve
talks to people to make them like us. Me and Dave are just
here to hang out and bring the laughs.

Cs: Tell me about the recent addition of Steve to the


band?
James: I always thought there was a chunk missing from

“ Blithe ”
our sound.
Steve: I joined the band in October of this year. Heath
called me late one night and talked about the current state
of the band and the future direction that the band was
hoping to go in. He continued to say that everyone in the
band desired me to be a part of this and help push forward
a more mature direction and expansion.
23 / 36
Cs: How did it help? Cs: Tell us about your new album?
Dave: There is more substance to our sound. The sound Steve: We’re setting it up like a story line, following a
became more full. character going through different experiences. Some are
Brad: We had to add Steve to help reach our fullest poten- positive, some are negative. Theme is a story line.
tial. Heath: We’re setting it up like this: section one is going
to be happy and upbeat. Section two is going to be very
Cs: What type of CD do you think the new album will minor and sad. The third section is going to be huge and
be? triumphant. And at the end, it’s going to kind of be like,
Dave: A lot of people have told me that our EP was good “we made it through this together.”
for sleeping and thinking and studying.
Brad: We hope to get people to appreciate our music. It’s Cs: Where does your inspiration come from?
not really supposed to be background music. James: I think the music that we write is really influenced
by the things we’re going through in each of our lives. I
Cs: What do you guys listen to? know that when we were writing our minor songs, both
Steve: Acoustic folk and instrumental music. Heath and I were going through pretty tough times. And
Heath: I listen to a lot of Owen. A lot of Owen. And then not to sound lame or anything, but when we were all going
the other times I listen to instrumental. to different schools across the Midwest, it was a lot easier
Brad: Bad punk rock, crust punk, and Japanese power- to write sad music.
pop. Heath: We all play a roll in this band. I think both Brad and
James: I listen to all of those things, and then some fast I communicate really well when we’re first writing music.
metal. We kind of get the ball rolling.

Cs: What do you think about when you play? Cs: Describe Giants in one word
James: After I have my music memorized, you can just Steve : Blithe.
kind of lose yourself in what you’re playing.
Heath: I think a lot, about this one girl that broke my Check out the Giants online at
heart…
www.myspace.com/giantsmusic
Steve: I think about climbing trees, and running through
and
fields.
giants-music.com
Dave: (Laughs)
for previews from their new album.

24 / 36
(In Defense of Cheap Booze)

In a world obsessed with “premium,” what has become of the low end?

Essay by T.J. Washington


If I am to be completely honest, I will admit that the But socially, I feel like I should be imbibing at a different
choices I make in regards to alcohol consumption leave level. Not in terms of volume, but in terms of class.
me rather conflicted. And it’s not a confliction in the usual When I go out with my coworkers or even my more
sense, as in, my religion tells me it is wrong to become socially-conscious friends, we find ourselves at martini
intoxicated, or that I can’t seem to keep my clothes on bars. In dimly lit havens for the hip, sipping on Appletinis
when the shots start. made with only the highest of top-shelf vodka. It’s swanky.
And we pretend to be entirely too cool, even though that’s
The confliction comes from the types of hardly the case. I feel like an imposter, because part
alcohol I drink. of me – most likely part of everyone – has bought into a
construction.
I buy bottom shelf.
I buy discount. Modern culture, it would seem, has been seduced by the
Closeout. idea of decadence in all facets of our lives. We live in a
Fire sale. society based on the idea of the “super” and “ultra premium.”
A society obsessed with imagery of the upper-class and the
I buy alcohol that burns more than necessary going down high life (not the Miller sub-brand). We don’t just drive SUVs
and makes my head throb more than required in the when it’s entirely unnecessary; we use ultra premium photo
morning. This stuff could be used as surgical antiseptic paper, shampoo and dog food. We spend extra to trade up.
and minutes later as a household cleaning agent. It’s the We pull out our credit cards.
stuff you keep under your kitchen sink, instead of in your
liquor cabinet – the stuff of college students and bums. And the fever spreads each year. Average, middle-classed
Popov Vodka. Five O’ Clock Gin. The brands will vary people and still-struggling college students are joining the
according to the distillery closest to your house, but the party, people who years ago would have just been drinking
tastes all stay the same. beer. In 2004, consumers purchased almost 5 million cases

26 / 36
(or 45 million liters) of Absolut vodka, and the numbers For what it’s worth, even business mogul/television star
continue to skyrocket as we find ourselves strolling down the Donald Trump released his own brand of “super premium”
aisles of the specialty wine store. We are buying Belvedere, vodka in late 2005.
Stoli, Grey Goose, and Ketel One vodka, often at more
than $20 or $30 a bottle, and at rates unheard of only a few According to Competitive Media Reporting, more than
decades ago. $1.2 billion was spent in 1998 on alcohol advertising in
If we need an example of our newly found ultra premium measured media (i.e., print media, outdoor advertising,
love, we need look no further than Patrón, one of the first radio and television), and you can be sure companies
ultra premium tequilas on the scene – arriving before anyone aren’t promoting their low end stuff.
even realized they needed ultra premium tequila. Frequently
retailing for over $40 (and that’s not even the “good” stuff), Yes, we are awash in a corporate-created sea of premium
Patron has become a symbol of wealth in hip-hop culture, alcohol.
and is featured in a wide variety of songs; perhaps most
recently in Jay-Z’s “Show Me What You Got.” Fuck, even Lil’ But is it even a problem? Of course, there are moments
John has dedicated a track or two to the fairly young brand when you can tell the difference between Ketel One and
(created in 1989), meaning that the ultra premium liquor club Vladimir – in that dry martini, or over the rocks, as is how
has reached critical marketing mass. much of Europe consumes it. But when you drown it in
orange juice or tonic, there’s no point. You’ve wasted those
There is a culture surrounding these brands, a real mystery hard-earned student loan dollars for a bottle of something
and temptation that draws us in. Visit absolut.com, and you probably won’t remember in the morning anyway.
you’ll find one of the sexiest websites ever designed.
Bombay Sapphire, an ultra premium introduced in 1987, And what have you gotten out of it, besides a hangover?
has created a series of annual awards for glass designers, You’ve bought into a slick conception of “cool.” Of “hip.”
while their ads extol us to, “pour something priceless.” You’ve made the decision to buy something with an

Five O’ Clock Vodka


750ml ($5.70)

27 / 36
Canadian Reserve
Blended Whiskey
750ml ($6.25)

el Rum
h i t e Lab
nt W 5)
a r a mou ml ($5.9
P 750

28 / 36
obscene profit margin, and have put more money into
the pockets of a corporation – and marketers who will
continue to churn out sexy Bacardi commercials, where no
one, surprisingly, ever throws up and no one is ever sick of
grinding mindlessly on a dance floor.

Taking a swig of $5 bourbon, in contrast, feels like a


steel-toed boot to the chest. A wake up call that gets the
blood pumping and the stomach tumbling. It jolts you
from your cultural stupor, out of the wine tastings and the
martini sipping in some dark club. You are choosing to not
give into corporate illusions of mystery, sex and fashion
that come with a $25 bottle of rum. You are creating your
own environment – defining your own culture – instead
of waiting for the all-night, tequila-fueled dance party to
come to you.

It’s hardly fashionable. And, sure, there’s a certain work


ethic needed to drink some of the basest of moonshines
– but in today’s super premium world, drinking cheap
alcohol may be one of the biggest social and cultural
statements you can make. cs

Burnett’s
London Dr
750ml ($ y Gin
7.65)

29 / 36
(scenes from an american protest)
One man’s experience with a dead art.
Essay by Adam Moore
As we boarded the bus, leaving a frigid Iowa City parking The bus ride itself was bearable, in a sort of “roughing it”
lot, there was a sense of exuberance. We threw our signs way. We knew we had a purpose, that we were going to
and coolers and suitcases underneath the bus, packing be speaking for a majority of America, many who lacked
spare magazines and newspapers above us and settled the means or time to go to our capital and speak for
in for the drive. themselves. So the aches and pains and inconveniences
were simply par for the course.
On the weekend of January 27th, 2007, a weekend when
freezing temperatures stretched lazily across the nation In-between cramped seats and frequent fast-food stops
and most of us would have been content to snuggle up (your choice: McDonalds or Burger King), we traveled
next to a fire or other heat source, several busloads of non-stop, plowing our way through the highway desola-
people from Iowa City found themselves packed onto a tion of Illinois and Ohio. We slept through Indiana, through
charter bus and setting off for Washington D.C. to pro- Pennsylvania and woke up in Maryland, which strangely
test the Iraq War. enough, looked just like our home state, with margin-
ally less snow. There was a Wal-Mart and an Applebee’s.
And we would be joining thousands of other people, from There was a Sinclair station.
Topeka, Kansas; from Bangor, Maine; from Bear Creek,
Alabama; from all across the United States, to resurrect Saturday morning found us in a small Waffle Stop –
the lost American art of raising hell. amazing eggs! – fueling up for the day’s events. Planning.
31 / 36
Organizing. We would arrive at a subway station located I remember the weeks leading up to the protest. I would
in the outskirts of town, gather our signs and placards, tell my family, my friends, anyone who cared to listen, that
and ride approximately 30 minutes into town. We would I was going to Washington to protest the war. It was inter-
then make our way to the National Mall, a historically sig- esting watching their reactions; some people would get
nificant strip of land directly in the middle of D.C.’s 68.3 excited, saying, “I’ve always wanted to do something like
square miles. We were going to stand between the Wash- that!” Some people would look surprised, and ask why.
ington Monument and Congress, on the same ground They looked frightened of the idea. Activism was foreign.
that hundreds of thousands of protestors had marched
upon, calling for equal rights, for change. We were going
to scream and shout until someone heard us, dammit.

And that’s just what we did. From mid-morning until late And I remember growing somewhat scared myself. As
in the afternoon. As people from buses and trains slowly the days grew closer, I wondered, “what am I doing?” I
trickled to the Mall, the crowds grew. Volunteers and grew nervous, and questioned my motives. Didn’t I have
social groups handed out free signs, stickers, buttons. better things to do? Perhaps there was a reason I hadn’t
Anything to spread the message. done something like this before.

The chants intensified. An organic hope floated through I started listening to culture, to popular society, which
the crowd. In surprisingly mild temperatures (the only emphatically said, “don’t bother. Nothing will change.”
nice day in DC for weeks, we were told), we spent hours
listening to bereaved mothers, political figures and even I tried to find an out.
a few movie stars demanding a change in doctrine from
the tiny, white house just a few blocks away. Our feet
throbbed. Our arms grew tired. And it was inspiring.

32 / 36
After the speeches and the pep talks, close to
100,000 people – depending on where you got your
crowd estimates from – took to the streets, flooding
downtown DC, marching and generally causing a
ruckus, just like those before us had done.

We marched in past the Supreme Court, by the


Library of Congress. A group of young men excit-
edly read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights out
loud, applauding and carrying on excitedly after each
amendment. Capitol police watched on with a look
of bemusement and general distance. A man boldly
screamed out, “know your rights!” repeatedly. Giant
devil puppets danced wildly, covered in Halliburton
scrawls. Cameras clicked. Crowds of protestors
camped in front of buildings, covering the steps with
bodies and decorating DC with the will of the people.

People have said – whether amongst themselves or
in the media – that the protest as we know it is dead.
That it died years ago, perhaps sometime in the 80s
and 90s, with the rise of a “me first” culture and
increasing disconnection with our fellow citizens. And
it’s always said with this sort of lament, with a tone
that implies, “I sure wish people still protested things.”

How ironic is it, that in an age of increasing inequal-
ity (economic, social and otherwise), in an age of fear
and uncertainty, that we pronounce the protest dead,
when it’s both as necessary and as doable as ever.
Communications have moved so fast, and connected
so many people (even if it is in a tenuous “cyber-
space” way) that the ability to organize and plan has
reached new levels. We can truly spread a message,
a thought, a decree in a matter of seconds.

Protesting is the truest form of democracy,
literally the bringing of people to together
to push for change. Scaring those in
power enough to listen, giving them
flashbacks to Lexington in 1775
and France in 1789. Waiting for
reports from the ground. And the
protest is dead? What does that
say about our society?

33 / 36
And suddenly, it was night, and the Mall was empty,
covered in litter and water bottles and discarded slogan-
eering. The chants had all evaporated, wafting into the
atmosphere, leaving only the D.C. sound of cab horns
and faint sirens. We made our way back to Union Station,
exhausted but fulfilled, and hoping to catch the soonest
train back to the bus. And travel 21 more hours home,
where our families and friends waited for reports. cs
Nothing on?

The North American Review


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(nightlife)
FAT tuesday

We found ourselves standing at a ledge,


looking over at Lent, and realized it was
time for a good party. Euforquestra took to
the stage and belted out hours of smooth
grooves – seasoned with classic organ
riffs and dead-on percussive rhythms. The
Deadwood shook late into the night, and
when we woke the next morning, hung
over from the midnight costume contest
and the endless Hurricanes, we collectively
decided to give up going to work.

36 / 36