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By Caitlin Ferrell
Stony Brook University will have a new president this June: Samuel Stanley, Jr., Vice Chancellor for Research at Washington University. He will become the university’s fifth official president when Shirley Strum Kenny resigns her position. The decision was announced in a press release last Thursday. “We are extremely pleased and excited that Dr. Stanley will serve as Stony Brook’s next president,” said Richard Nasti, chair of the Stony Brook Council and of the Presidential search committee. “He is a dynamic leader with a proven track record of success at one of the nation’s premier academic institutions,” Nasti said in last week’s announcement. The Stony Brook presidential search committee recommended to the SUNY Board of Trustees that Stanley be named the next president of Stony Brook University. A decision is expected to be made soon. Stanley’s background is firmly in medical research. Besides having three patents to his name, he is now serving as the Vice Chancellor of Research at Washington University, which is ranked third in the nation for its School of Medicine. His duties as chancellor include overseeing a research portfolio of $548 million. He is also a professor of medicine and molecular biology at the university. His medical knowledge is exciting to some faculty members. Nasti said, in the same press release, “His depth of experience in attracting research funding will benefit Stony Brook tremendously as we climb in the ranks of major research AAU universities.” Stanley received his B.A. from the University of Chicago and his M.D. from Harvard Medical School. He soon became a fellow in infectious diseases at

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Vol. XXX, Issue 14 |Friday, May 8, 2009

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able individual and an enthusiastic communicator. I am certain he will be a favorite among both students and faculty as he leads the university in the years to come.” Dr. Stanley responded to the decision. “I am honored to have been selected as Stony Brook’s next president. In its short life, Stony Brook has accomplished some remarkable things. I look forward to working with my new colleagues on the faculty, staff and students in a collective and strategic way to continue Stony Brook’s remarkable trajectory of increased excellence, and to position the university to take its place among the truly great research universities of the nation.” The 55-year-old is married to Dr. Ellen Li, with whom he has co-written several medical papers. Li received her M.D. and Ph.D. from the Washington University School of Medicine. The couple has four children.

Washington University’s School of Medicine. In 2003, Dr. Stanley was appointed as the Director of the Midwest Regional Center for Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research, a multidisciplinary research center. Search committee member and chairman emeritus of the Stony Brook Foundation, James Simons, said of Stanley, “I found him to be a highly person-

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I’m not aware that there are any significant academic programs being eliminated at this point,” said Melucci. “The issue for me is that, as any respectful economist will tell you, you can’t cut your way out of a recession – you have to invest your way out,” said Prof. Norman Goodman, a Sociology professor at Stony Brook University who is deeply involved in the issue. “Cutting from the university, in a time where more and more people want to come to state universities, is simply laying the foundation for extending the recession for a longer period of time.” Prof. Goodman also spoke out against the Bundy Aid, a system in which money is taken from the state universities and given to the private universities – in these times it has only incurred a minor cut. “You’re at Stony Brook for three years and then for your last year you go to Hofstra, they get a fee for you even though you’ve been in here for three years and there for one year,” said Goodman. “It’s a political compromise that was established in the early days of the SUNY system.” He maintained that it should be eliminated. According to Stony Brook Director of Budget and Planning Mark Maciulaitis, the cuts to Stony Brook have the potential to severely stunt its role as a major economic engine on Long Island. For every dollar spent on Stony Brook, he said, the amount of activities going on at the time will convert the initial investment by three to four times. He said SUNY is at a disadvantage because, simply put, it’s in an area that is easier to cut in contrast to the City University of New York system. “It’s not fair,” he said. Senator Kenneth P. Lavalle, former longtime chairman of the New York Higher Education Committee, is one of the driving forces to fight the cuts. A republican who is Roman Sheydvasser known to be a “friend” Students protesting the SUNY budget cuts. to Stony Brook, and grab was.” the person the university stadium was To offset the cuts, the university adnamed after, he claims to be especially ministration has looked to programs aggravated by the way Governor Pater- which Maciulaitis refers to as “moneyson is handling the situation. “The re- makers.” “Certain programs are more publicans would have handled this one expensive to teach than others so the acdifferently,” he said. “For one, we would- ademic areas are looking at some of the n’t be taxing the hardworking students more profitable ones.” and their families when it’s painfully obIt seems ironic that only two odd vious that they will suffer the most.” years ago, former Governor Eliot “The governor has not wanted to Spitzer was aptly speaking about makimplement this millionaire’s tax because ing Stony Brook and the University of he thinks that all the millionaires will Buffalo the two flagship schools in the run out of New York but apparently he SUNY system with a lot of funding for doesn’t have a problem with taxing our both. “He probably wouldn’t have been students,” said Maciulaitis. He said that able to give as much as he said he although they’ve now implemented a would,” said Maciulaitis – speaking on gradual tax for people earning over the situation if Spitzer had not resigned $200,000 a year that they were talking following his scandal. “But he certainly about taxing the students before. “There would have treated us a lot better than was a point where the millionaire’s tax Paterson, to whom SUNY is not as high was not discussable, but this 80 percent a priority.”

By Aamer Qureshi
The tuition increase implemented this spring semester across the State University of New York system was an inevitable consequence of the fledgling economy. The subsequent disclosure that the state budget required 90 percent of the $310 collected per student would go towards balancing the budget kindled a statewide argument over if such measures were fair. Although not officially announced, the budget for 2009-2010 has implemented that exactly 90 percent be taken this spring and a reduced 80 percent be taken this fall with the remaining cash staying in the university system. “The difference between 20 percent and 50 percent that we’d hoped to negotiate is six million dollars a year,” said Dan Melucci, Associate Vice President for Strategy, Planning and Analysis at Stony Brook University. “If we have gotten 100 percent, which we should have gotten, that would mean 16 million dollars which would offset all the other cuts in the 2009-2010 budget.” SUNY New Paltz recently cut their nursing program as a result of a six million dollar deficit reduction plan. In contrast Stony Brook University has, so far according to Melucci, cut two “relatively small” programs – the Center for Wine, Food and Culture and the Cytotechnology from the Health Sciences. “We haven’t cut any large programs and

The Stony Brook Press

News

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“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”
By Raina Bedford
On April 21, Stony Brook University’s Staller Center played host to the Seventh Annual Human Evolution Symposium, hosted by the Turkana Basin Institute. Paleoanthropologists from around the world came to present the case that homo floresiensis is a new species. Also on public display for the first time was a cast of the remains of homo floresiensis. Only in the scientific community could such a small creature cause such a large controversy. Homo floresiensis, nicknamed “the hobbit,” stood at an estimated 3’6” tall, weighed only 66 to 77 lbs, and inhabited the island of Flores, Indonesia as recently as 17,000 years ago, and ever since the discovery they have become–through no wish of their own–both important and renowned, and have troubled the councils of the Wise and the Great. Since the discovery paleoanthropologists have been divided over whether homo floresiensis constitutes a new species. Skeptics have argued that homo floresiensis is a human skeleton afflicted with a disease. Others have said this small creature resembles a human pygmy. However several features of homo floresiensis seem to suggest that it is not human but a new pre-hominid species. Dean Falk, who has a Ph.D. in primate and human brain evolution and is a professor of anthro- Little people. Blue sword. Big world. pology at Florida State University, spoke about the hobbit brain. Falk par- human would involve several evolutook in a study that compared the brain tionary reversals,” he said, a remark that of LB1, the scientific label for the first would be echoed by the litany of prehobbit skull discovered, to micro- senters who followed him. cephalic brains. Microcephaly is a disMatthew Torcheri, a paleoanthroease that causes skull size to be very pologist in the Human Origins Program small and skeptics claim that the skull of the Department of Anthropology at size of LB1 was abnormally small for a the Smithsonian Institution’s National hominid. Falk herself acknowledged Museum of Natural History, said that that the brain of homo floresiensis was the wrist of homo floresiensis resembles unusually small for a hominid at only a primitive wrist and is less sophisti1/8 of the size of its body. However, the cated than the wrist of a modern study showed that the brain of LBI did human. The trapezoidal bone in a not resemble a microcephalic brain. primitive wrist is thinner resulting in a Microcephalic brains are narrow and thinner wrist. The thinner trapezoidal pointed in the frontal lobe while the bone results in a less effective thumb brain of LB1 was wide in the frontal that cannot extend as far as a modern lobe. human’s thumb. Though this seems like Other remarkable traits of homo a small detail it has a great impact on floresiensis include its jaw, wrists and the ability to make tools and hunt. shoulders. Peter Brown, a professor of Dr. Mark Moore, who holds a postanthropology at University of New Eng- doctoral research fellowship through land in Australia, said that the jaw and teeth of homo floresiensis show that it is not a human, but a pre-hominid species. The premolar tooth is elongated resembling a more primitive condition of development. Homo floresiensis’ teeth also had multiple roots, whereas humans have just one root. The more complex root system combined with the elongated premolar tooth proves to Brown that homo floresiensis is not a human afflicted with a disease, but a new species. “To say that homo floresiensis is a the Australian Research Council and is an expert on ancient tools, noted that homo floresiensis made tools that were more primitive than those made by later humans. He said that this was due to a combination of things, including the less effective thumb, but also because homo floresiensis “lacked hierarchical thinking.” Tool making, in ancient times, consisted of knocking two rocks together to create sharp flakes that could be used for a variety of purposes. Hierarchical thinking, in the context Moore described, is the ability to anticipate the shape that you’re going to make when you bang two rocks together. The lack of hierarchical thinking in hobbits can be attributed to their small brain size, however Moore believes that hobbits had relatively advanced cognitive thinking abilities. They used fire, though not as extensively as modern humans, and developed tools that were very similar to human tools of the time. He said that this supports the hypothesis that humans coexisted with hobbits. Susan Larson, a professor of anthropology at Stony Brook University, said that the shoulders of homo floresiensis show an important intermediate step between the shoulders of primitive hominids and modern humans. “When I saw the shoulder of the homo floresiensis I was shocked,” she said. There is a significant difference between a primitive shoulder structure and a modern one was the lengthening of the clavicle. Primitive apes have nearly vertical clavicles, resulting in the appearance of not having necks, while humans have nearly horizontal clavicles. A shorter clavicle means that primitive apes had a scapula that sat on the side of their ribcage, because the clavicle did not extend as far as it does in a modern human. Modern humans have scapulas on the back of their ribcage. Modern humans, because of their elongated scapulas, have a much wider range of arm motion than apes and thus are more versatile. Homo floresiensis, though it has a scapula that rests on its side, had a slightly longer clavicle than primitive apes. Its arms, though not having the wide range of motion of modern humans’, had a range of motion wider than a primitive ape. This means that homo floresiensis was more advanced than a modern ape but it was not a modern human. She said this further supports the hypothesis that homo floresiensis is a new species, somewhere between apes and humans. And so the presentations went, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., a litany of paleoanthropologists presenting evidence that homo floresiensis was a new species. Hobbits could not be pygmies because the brain size of pygmies is much larger. Hobbits were not humans with Laron Syndrome because hobbits had brow ridges, while Laron Syndrome patients do not. Hobbits were not victims of island dwarfing because island dwarfing only results in smaller height, not smaller brain size. Curiously absent were the skeptics. Though the presenters tried to counter the criticism of skeptics, they had the opportunity to pick and choose the critiques they countered in advance, making their case seem very strong in front of the Stony Brook audience. Richard Leaky, renowned hominid fossil hunter and head of the Turkana Basin Institute at Stony Brook University, professed that he is still not entirely convinced that homo floresiensis is a new species but that the recent research presented at the symposium “greatly strengthened the possibility” that homo floresiensis is a new species. President Shirley Strum Kenny gave a short speech at the symposium praising the participants and noting the extraordinary nature of the event, one of her last acts as president of the university. “We’ve had 6 symposiums before this but I think this is one of the most interesting ones we’ve had,” she said after her speech. Based on tickets sold, the Anthropology Department estimates that about 400 people attended the event including journalists from several major news organizations. President Kenny stared as if mystified into the glass containing the hobbit skeleton cast. “Everyone’s just so interested in these hobbits,” she said.

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Editorial Board
Executive Editor Andrew Fraley Managing Editor Najib Aminy Associate Editor Natalie Crnosija Business Manager Erin Jayne Mansfield Production Manager Tia Mansouri News Editors Ross Barkan Raina Bedford Features Editor Cindy Liu Arts Editor Doug Cion Photo Editor Eric DiGiovanni Liz Kaufman Copy Editors Jason Wirchin Kelly Yu Katie Knowlton Webmaster Roman Sheydvasser Audiomaster Josh Ginsberg Ombudsman James Laudano

editorials
We here at the Press feel a special kinship to Generation. Founded under similar circumstances at the University at Buffalo, five years after the Press, the weekly magazine shares the same spirit of alternative journalism; The same pirate ethos. Also, senior staffer and rabble-rouser Jonathan Singer (the man who drew our attention to the current situation to begin with) is an alumnus of the weekly magazine, and has always talked highly of the publication—although he has mixed feelings towards the staff of his time. So when we heard about Generation having its charter suspended, it was more than just an interest in one of print journalism’s many troubling situations. It was with a feeling of indirect camaraderie that we became so drawn to the story. Nevertheless, we didn’t want to be biased in any direction, and our reporting—we hope—remains objective and fair. But, as we researched the story more and more, we noticed a couple things. The first is that the personals are fucking hilarious. After getting over the initial shock of some of them, they are actually quite humorous and well presented. Many of us spent hours going through old issues on their website, just

Vol. XXX, Issue 14 |Friday, May 8, 2009

Generational Changes
to read the personals. We provide but a humble homage to them, next to the article in question. Also, we modified our masthead in solidarity with our journalistic brethren. The second thing we’ve noticed is that not much has changed for Generation over the years—at least, the years available on the website (2000-present). The magazine has remained fairly consistent, and has kept a pretty high standard of quality. Like any good alternative college publication, Generation has a good balance of hard-hitting journalism and humor that make it entertaining. It’s more of a literary magazine, so not every story needs to be Pulitzer Prize winning, but the features are generally in-depth and well written. So why did Sub Board I, Generation‘s owner and publisher, suspend its charter? Why did they go about hiring some jerk against the editorial board’s will? Joshua Boston doesn’t represent the 25-year-old spirit of the magazine— and, indeed, has every intention of undoing many of its traditions, including possibly its name. Generation has editorial autonomy, which is supposed to protect them from this exact sort of thing. Without getting into the legality of Sub Board’s actions (the Student Press Law Center never got back to us in time), the ethics of this action are extremely questionable. Robert Pape (Sub Board VP) and Boston have both said that it’s a decline in the magazine’s journalistic integrity, but we fail to see this. Boston insultingly listed a couple articles which were legitimate features about raising money for charity and a scandal within UB’s student government. Pape, on the other hand, has called Editor-in-Chief Andrew Blake’s leadership into question. Ignoring the fact that there is no substantial evidence of this, and the fact that the personals— the supposed reason Blake is a “bad leader”—are a popular tradition that’s been around for years, is this a good enough reason to prevent the magazine from making their own decision about next semester’s leadership? Is this a good enough reason to prevent Generation‘s editors from exercising their given “editorial autonomy”? The board of directors of Sub Board seem to think so. We must respectfully disagree. Generation, we stand in solidarity with you. We can only hope you come out of this unscathed. Forever truly, The Stony Brook Press.

Minister of Archives Jesse Schopefer Layout Design by Jowy Romano

Staff
Kotei Aoki Vincent Barone Matt Braunstein Tony Cai J.C. Chan Whiskers T. Clown Laura Cooper Caroline D’Agati Krystal DeJesus Joe Donato Brett Donnelly Nick Eaton Michael Felder Caitlin Ferrell Vincent Michael Festa Joe Filippazzo Ilyssa Fuchs Rob Gilheany David Knockout Ginn Joanna Goodman Jennifer Hand Stephanie Hayes Andrew Jacob Liz Kaempf Elizabeth Kaplan Jack Katsman Yong Kim Rebecca Kleinhaut Iris Lin Frank Loiaccono Kenny Mahoney Justin Meltzer James Messina Steve McLinden Samantha Monteleone Roberto Moya Frank Myles Amyl Nitrate Chris Oliveri Ben van Overmeier Laura Paesano Grace Pak Rob Pearsall Jon Pu Aamer Qureshi Kristine Renigen Dave Robin Jessica Rybak Joe Safdia Natalie Schultz Jonathan Singer Nick Statt Rose Slupski John Tucker Lena Tumasyan Marcel Votlucka Alex Walsh Brian Wasser Matt Willemain Jie Jenny Zou

Accountability
Owning up to one’s mistakes is difficult and the truth is one of the most difficult things to conceal. These difficulties are exemplified in Stony Brook’s decision to hire Dr. Timothy Kinsella. Time and time again, there have been reported incidents and thorough documentation of Dr. Kinsella‘s errors in his professional career as both an oncologist and department chair. He has a clear record and has no recorded disciplinary action. But that absence of recorded disciplinary action means little when you are a patient who is being improperly billed or hoping to provide your son with the best care only to find out that a doctor’s mistake was recognized and ignored. The fact is hospitals, deans of medical schools and universities all across America are selling their respective communities short by looking past the data provided by the National Practitioner Databank. By failing to conduct a thorough investigation into the background of any physician they about to employ, hospitals are putting their patients at risk and tarnishing the reputation of their institution and losing sight of their mission to provide quality care and education. For months, The Press has worked at trying to set up an interview with both Dr. Richard Fine, dean of the medical school, and Dr. Steven Strongwater, CEO of the SBU hospital, and discuss the hiring process, as well as information they had when hiring Dr. Kinsella. All requests dating back to November have been denied. Departing President Shirley Strum Kenny declined to comment and said that she does not publicly comment on personnel matters. But this personnel matter is and must be addressed as a public concern. Kinsella, again, is not guilty in any way. Nevertheless his past actions warrant questions that need answering. The shadow of doubt only grows when he is listed as a visiting professor, giving him the opportunity to teach medicine to Stony Brook graduate students. Even the question as to what classes Kinsella teaches remains unanswered by the administration, which has been hesitant to provide anything at all. When Kinsella became aware of the mistake in the treatment of a child-patient, he had two options. He could either report the mistake to the family and take responsibility for it or deny that it happened. According to legal depositions, he chose the latter. Stony Brook University is given a similar option. They can choose to address the situation at hand and move forth with operations bettering the medical center. Or they could choose to withhold information and pretend that nothing has happened and continue what they are doing. Closure starts with accepting accountability.

The Stony Brook Press is published fortnightly during the academic year and twice during summer session by The Stony Brook Press, a student run non-profit organization funded by the Student Activity Fee. The opinions expressed in letters, articles and viewpoints do not necessarily reflect those of The Stony Brook Press as a whole. Advertising policy does not necessarily reflect editorial policy. For more information on advertising and deadlines call (631)632-6451. Staff meetings are held Wednesdays at 1:00 pm. First copy free. Additional copies cost fifty cents. The Stony Brook Press Suites 060 & 061 Student Union SUNY at Stony Brook Stony Brook, NY 11794-3200 (631) 632-6451 Voice (631) 632-4137 Fax Email: sbpressnews@gmail.com

The Stony Brook Press

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Dear Patriot Staffers,
Doing My Patriotic Duty By Ross Barkan I would like to take this time to answer your assault of The Stony Brook Press in your most recent issue. First of all, I would like to thank you for mentioning my name in a story. I am now infinitely more famous than I ever was before, and I am grateful for the exposure The Patriot has granted me. I can only hope, in the vein of a good capitalist, that I become rich as hell and exploit the proletariat like the lazy pigs they are. First of all, I must take issue with my story in a past issue being classified as “misogynistic.” I think the word you meant to use was “funny.” Allow me to clear this up because I understand the density of your thought muscle might render this logic incomprehensible. Thousands of years ago, in the time when our good Christian Lord created the universe (I can only hope this is what they teach in those goddamned liberal schools these days!) a concept was borne from the molten earth. What was it called, dear Patriots? Satire. I understand The Press literally defined satire on the cover of one of its issues but allow me to once again give you a definition, free of charge. Dictionary.com defines satire as the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc. OK, we’ve covered that. Therefore, when I proclaim in a piece that women should not vote, marry, or have children, I am doing what is called being “facetious” or “sarcastic.” See, here’s how this works. If this previous statement were to be taken literally, the human species would come to an end because (and I gather the Patriot staffers aren’t so experienced in these matters) the male and female sexes must have what is called sexual intercourse in order to create children. Without a female to carry the child in her womb, reproduction is actually impossible. I know I offered the definition of satire free of charge but I require about 43 cents to define sexual intercourse for all of you. After all, I have to be a good capitalist. I understand the vaunted staff of The Patriot has no concept of what humor is, nor is aware that this abstract notion does in fact exist. Masturbating over Milton Friedman’s corpse will do that for you. I comprehend that the majority of The Patriot’s beef comes from comments made about Robert Spencer. I sadly know little of him and therefore won’t make the time to either call him a racist or celebrate his racism. I’ll leave that to the professionals, just like The Patriot should leave the act of writing to just about everyone else. Quite frankly, I could care less about him. What I do care about, though, is the quality of our many campus publications. I am proud of how far the writers of Stony Brook University have come. I am even more proud of the dear writers of The Patriot and the brilliance they are able to ooze on a bi-monthly—oh wait, no monthly…hold on, that’s not right, every other month, quarterly? No, no…hmmm…wait, I got it—on a semicentury basis. Captain of the Universe and Patriot Lord Conor Harrigan, sage of all that is Just and True, wrote, “I look forward to a response. However, knowing you guys at the Press, I won’t hold my breath.” General Harrigan, good sir, based on the production schedule of your paper, I will probably be reading a response to this piece sometime in the 2070s. I think that exceeds even Green Lantern’s breathe holding capabilities, and we all know he has a power ring. Now I’ll just cycle through the current issue of The Patriot and try to find as many pearls of wisdom as I can. The superstar seems to be Derek Mordente, the current editor, a man of peerless character, I’m sure. Let’s see, here he is ranting about the revenue sharing in Major League Baseball. Quoth the Mordente, “We’ll start with the idea of ‘revenue sharing,’ introduced to the league by Selig in the 1990’s….The redistribution goes from these bigger market teams, such as the New York Yankees, ‘according to their ability,’ to smaller market teams, such as the Kansas City Royals or Tampa Bay Rays, ‘according to their needs.’ Sound familiar? It’s called Socialism.” Mordente then rants about how socialism isn’t a part of America and the whole life, liberty and the pursuit of property thing. Hmm…Derek, I’m gonna have to wonder why a private entertainment enterprise must reflect the exact economic model of the United States and how someone could actually be dumb enough to take issue with revenue sharing when a much more extreme version of this has been implemented in the National Football League and has made it the most popular sport in all of America. I guess every Thanksgiving we all sit down to watch a bunch of Commies on the gridiron, huh? It also seems that Master Mordente has forgotten that our America has a little revenue sharing of its own. There’s social security, Medicaid, Medicare, and welfare. In my humble opinion, America doesn’t have nearly enough revenue sharing (just ask that Nobel Prize-winning pinko Paul Krugman) but hey, it’s a start. Jason Schaeffer, a dear friend of mine who once told me he literally slammed his fist on the table and cried when a human being who was not purely white was elected President of the United States, writes about the Employee Free Choice Act. (The act, supported by President Obama, would make it easier for workers to unionize. Schaeffer erroneously calls it the Freedom of Choice Act—way to get your shit straight, big guy!) He whines lovingly that the EFCA will limit workers’ freedoms because it will eliminate the secret ballot, coercing all workers to unionize. Schaeffdog, I’m afraid there’s a problem with your logic. First of all, the concept of a “secret ballot” doesn’t exist in the way people like to imagine. Large companies hire consultants to “talk” to their workers about why they shouldn’t unionize, often intimidating and harassing them. (Note that reports of employers intimidating workers vastly outnumber those of unions intimidating workers). The EFCA doesn’t even completely remove the right to secret ballots anyway—it makes it an option. Now, if a majority of workers signs blank cards declaring they want to unionize, they can actually unionize. Employees can still petition for an additional secret ballot, but why would they when the rules make it for more efficient for them to unite and defend their rights? So Schaeff, lemme break it down one last time: The EFCA would take away employers’ right to decide whether to use only the blank card process or to hold a secret-ballot election among employees and instead give the right to the employees to make this choice. I know it’s totally evil when workers actually have rights and try to make a little more money than they already do. They’re sooooo greedy…not like those saintly CEOs pulling in about 500 times what their average employee earns. I’d love to spend my whole day perusing The Patriot but unfortunately the word count of this story is nearing 2,000. Also, I can only punish myself for so long. The world outside is calling. Once again, thank you for typing my name in one of your illustrious stories. I’ll leave you be with your Friedman corpse and Von Hayek sex toys. Hope to hear from ya before 2070, Conor!

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News

Vol. XXX, Issue 14 |Friday, May 8, 2009

* "- "*/"By Najib Aminy
When Dr. Timothy J. Kinsella was hired as the Stony Brook University Cancer Center director, it was amidst a number of rising allegations. Kinsella was licensed through New York State on Dec. 2, 2008. Shortly after, the Ohio State Medical Board completed its review of a complaint filed by one of Kinsella’s former patients, Amelia Weber. In a letter written to Weber’s attorney, Wade Sanders, dated December 12, the board had come to the conclusion that no disciplinary action would be filed against Kinsella and that Weber’s sexual assault complaint would be kept permanently on file. Kinsella, who has worked at the University of Wisconsin and University Hospitals in Cleveland prior to coming to SBU, has had a number of lawsuits filed against him during his career as a physician and department chair, though none had been lost. These lawsuits had ranged from a racial discrimination suit in 1992, in which Kinsella was one of the parties involved, where the jury favored the defendants. In 1993, there was a sexual discrimination suit that was later dropped by a worker who claimed she deserved a higher salary pay and had her research findings cut short when Kinsella and her lab manager became irritated by her requests. The suit was dropped because of financial reasons. More recently, Weber alleged that Kinsella had sexually assaulted her during check ups and improperly billed her. That too was dismissed. However, in 2001 there was a lawsuit filed against Kinsella, his wife, Dr. Susan Wiersma, University Hospitals, as well as a number of other physicians pertaining to medical malpractice. In the case of Iwona Valdivieso v. University Hosptials of Cleveland and doctors Wiersma and Kinsella, a child by the name of Joshua Valdivieso, Ms. Valdivieso’s son, had suffered from a rare form of neuroblastoma, according to the deposition of Wiersma on June 26, 2002. Joshua, who was two years old as of 2000, was under the care of Wiersma, a pediatric oncologist who had collaborated with her husband to provide the ailing child radiation therapy as part of the planned treatment. According to Wiersma’s deposition, which was mailed anonymously to The Press, Wiersma issued chemotherapy in hopes of achieving a remission in Joshua’s cancer. These treatments would help kill the cancer cells allowing for a stem cell transplant to destroy Joshua’s neuroblastoma-infected bone marrow and replace it with stem cells that were free of the cancer. Part of the intended radiation that was to go along with the chemotherapy

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the dosage, to which he replied that he did not know of any error, according to Wiersma’s deposition, thus she assumed the complaint was mistaken. But she later found out she was wrong and that Kinsella had made a mistake in dosage. “And so I walked into the room and it was clear that something not good was happening,” Wiersma said, referring to a meeting that took place between her, Kinsella, and Dr. Richard Ludgin, vice president of the UH Quality Center. “Tim was sitting with the radiation oncology chart in his lap on the other side of the desk…and he said, ‘I wrote the wrong prescription right here, it’s the wrong prescription. I meant 10, I wrote 1. I wrote the wrong prescription.’ Tim is telling me that he made a mistake, it was his error,” Wiersma said in her deposition. individual patients such as Joshua Valdivieso, but also to the physician-patient relationship more generally.” Valdivieso had set a prayer amount, a demand for a specific amount in damages, to $25,000. During a phone interview, Kinsella had said the case was closed. “I was the person responsible for delivering total body radiation,” Kinsella said. “The intended dose was lower than what should’ve been given. That was resolved.” Roughly 10 years ago, the University of Wisconsin conducted a probe on Kinsella’s medical billings from 1995-96 after receiving an anonymous complaint related to the matter. In that one year, the university discovered 66 instances out of 247 services that were backdated, incidents where Kinsella made a notation in a medical chart when he was scheduled to be out of town, and a bill was sent out for the corresponding service. These notes included physical findings and symptoms, according to a letter to University of Wisconsin Chancellor David Ward from Phillip Farrell, dean of the University of Wisconsin Medical School dated May 9, 1997. The improper billings resulted in $5,815.18, which would be later refunded to the patients over billed. In the very same phone interview, Kinsella confirmed that the investigation took place but said that little came out of it. “There was an issue of an anonymous complaint of issues with respect to billing that turned out to be false,” Kinsella said, adding that it was proven false by the hospital’s review of the records. Through a freedom of information request seeking information pertaining to the investigation, no such review exists. Dean Farrell said he felt that Kinsella had deserved to be reprimanded for his actions. “In our view, Dr. Kinsella’s practices are clearly outside the norms for appropriate medical record documentation and billing for a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin Medical School,” Farrell stated in his letter to Chancellor Ward. “In light of these findings, we believe that there is adequate cause for disciplinary action. We request that appropriate procedures be instituted.” No such procedures were pursued. On May 15, 1997, Ward had completed a draft of a letter that would be sent to Kinsella. In it, Ward had been willing to take action and pursue a secondary investigation that would look into the examination of any rationale or explanation for the backdated entries entered and other entries written by Kinsella as well as an examination of additional patient records not covered in review to determine whether there were more cases of backdating. In his draft, Ward mentioned looking into any red flags that may come to the attention of investigators. “First, assuming the absence of any

was a dosage of 10 grays, the amount of radiation Joshua was to receive. However, Kinsella had made a mistake, according to Wiersma’s deposition, by issuing only one tenth of the intended dosage, thus giving Joshua 1 gray. Joshua, who Wiersma gave a 30 percent chance of survival in July 1999, was given the wrong dosage according to the deposition. It was only during a chart review session in May 2000 that Dr. Donald Shina, a radiation oncologist who worked with Kinsella, brought it to Kinsella’s attention that Joshua had been receiving one-tenth the radiation he was prescribed. “I had looked at the chart, and I said, ‘Tim, it is clear in your written note that in fact you wanted to give 10 Gray’ And he acknowledged that it sounded like there was an error,” Shina said in his

Dr. Timothy J. Kinsella

deposition. After this meeting between Shina and Kinsella, no report or effort was taken to notify the family or Wiersma and no motion to increase the dosage of radiation was made. Joshua lost his fight against cancer shortly after. It was only until her deposition that Wiersma had become aware of notions taken to alert Kinsella of the unusually low amount of radiation to treat Joshua. “As a result of the depositions [those taken by others named in the suit] and the information that has been forthcoming in—as a result of this complaint and litigation, I have learned that this error was detected by persons in the radiation oncology department sometime in May,” Wiersma said. Prior to being made aware of when Kinsella’s error was noted, Wiersma had stated that if someone had known of the error, they should have brought it to her attention due to her role as Joshua’s primary oncologist. “That would have been the most appropriate way for that information to be given to that family,” Wiersma said. When Wiersma was first made aware of the lawsuit, she asked Kinsella about

Wiersma said that in retrospect, Joshua’s condition was severe and that the intended dosage of radiation was to delay the time of failure to his death. “The severity of his complications was already extreme,” Weirsma said in her deposition. “And if we would have actually given him ten times the dose of radiation, I think it is likely that he would not have survived that.” Dr. Ernie Young, a bioethics consultant from California, had been asked by Ms. Valdivieso’s attorneys to look over the depositions of Kinsella, Shina, and David Abraham, a name mentioned in the suit. From reading their depositions, Young said he believed Kinsella breached the standard of medical care relative to ethics, in a letter sent to Valdivieso’s attorneys. “Once the mistake had been pointed out to him, Dr. Kinsella had an ethical duty to look into it, confirm that an error had been made, document in the medical record the discovery of the error and its nature, and then immediately communicate with the family to them truthfully what had happened and what, if anything, could be done to remedy the mistake,” Young said. “It is unethical conduct of this nature that is damaging, not only to

The Stony Brook Press
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fraudulent intent, the questioned practices show very poor judgment and lack of sensitivity to some of the governing foundations of medical practice,” Ward wrote in his drafted letter. “I am recommending to Dean Farrell that you not be renewed as chair of the Department of Human Oncology and that you remain ineligible for reappointment as chair of the Department of Human Oncology, and that you remain ineligible for reappointment as chair as long as you remain a member of the faculty at the UW-Madison.” 13 days later on May 28,1997, Kinsella had written his withdrawal for consideration for reappointment as chair of the Human Oncology department. “Serving in a leadership role during difficult times may mean being a lighting rod,” Kinsella said in the letter forwarded to Ward, Farrell and the Provost John D. Wiley. “Nonetheless, I have found the experience to be worthwhile.” A press release regarding Kinsella’s decision was released the next day. No disciplinary action was filed or pursued. Shortly after, Kinsella landed a job at University Hospital in Cleveland. In the complaint filed by Weber in 2007, Kinsella’s attorneys stated that the examinations Kinsella performed on Weber were consistent with those he gave both his male and female patients, according to Weber’s attorney notes on May 28, 2008. “When he was confronted by the claims in this case, they went over 500 medical records to make sure these body exams are consistent,” Ben Barret, Weber’s attorney, had said. “They claim the records will demonstrate that he performs the same type of exams on male or female on almost every visit.” There are few times when such patient information can be attained without the patient’s consent and not violate HIPAA, the privacy act that ensures patient health information is kept confidential. This includes court and administrative proceedings in response to a court order, subpoena, or discover request, according to Privacy Rights, a nonprofit Consumer Information and Advocacy Organization based in California. In the complaint filed against Kinsella, Weber was the only plantiff. Though University Hospitals had said that Kinsella was within his rights to go through Weber’s records they were unaware of whether or not Kinsella and his attorneys reviewed the records of 500 patients. “We feel that it was appropriate for Dr. Kinsella to share with his attorneys the medical information that had put in issue by filing a complaint against him with the State Medical Board of Ohio, in order to defend his medical license,” said Jennfier Edlind, a University Hospitals HIPAA Privacy Officer and Compliance Specialist in response to a number of questions brought up by Weber in Octo-

ber 2008. “I have been informed that no one at University Hospitals is aware whether Dr. Kinsella or his attorneys reviewed hundreds of patient charts in connection with the State Medical Board of Ohio matter.” Only the Department of Health and Human Services or the Department of Justice have the authority to file action for violations of HIPAA. A patient does not have the authority to sue under HIPAA, but can send a complaint to these respective departments, according to Privacy Rights. Dr. Robert Veatch, professor of medical ethics at Georgetown University, said in an email interview that patient records are confidential and should not be used for any purpose except patient care without the patient's permission. “I am not sure that reports of the content of patient records would be very

nolly Top Doctor,” said Dr. Jean Morgan, vice president and chief medical research officer at Castle Connolly in an email interview. Morgan would provide no further comment as Castle Connolly does not comment on why or why not doctors are in their database. When it comes to reporting on incidents similar to Kinsella’s, such as a malpractice case of improper billing for example, nearly half of doctors in a survey conducted in 2007 admitted to witnessing such incidents but not reporting it. The study reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine, which was led by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital, surveyed roughly 1,700 doctors questioning their beliefs and practices. The overwhelming majority agreed that adhering to medical standards was important. But when asked about personal experiences, 46 percent said they had

Dr. Strongwater (pictured left) and Dr. Fine (pictured right)

Najib Aminy

useful to establish the conduct of a physician accused of wrong-doing since any physician who would do wrong would plausibly consider falsifying the record data as well,” said Veatch, the former Director of the Kennedy Institue of Ethics at Georgetown University. “In my view, patient records cannot be used for any purpose without patient permission or a subpoena. I object even to use of such records for research purposes without either consent or an instintutional review board determination that no reasonable patient would object.” Kinsella, who was once among a number of national “top doctors,” was removed from the list earlier this year. Castle Connolly Medical is a medical company that highlights the best doctors all through out America. There is a selection process where nominees are interviewed, have their backgrounds extensively checked and have their submissions verified. Doctors are selected and removed from the database daily, according to a administrative official at Castle Connolly. “You are correct in stating Dr. Kinsella is no longer listed as a Castle Con-

firsthand knowledge of medical mistakes but did not report them and 45 percent were aware of bad behavior that they didn’t report. “It’s ubiquitous. Doctors are worried they themselves will make mistakes so they tend to be less judgmental,” said Dr. Peter Lurie, deputy director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group based in Washington D.C. “There is that camaraderie amongst doctors and the socialization that takes place in medical school. It is that sense of identification that also is part of the problem.” When it comes to doctors violating these standards of ethics, it is an individual matter and not a generalized occupational matter, according to Dr. Charles Rosen, founder and president of the Association for Medical Ethics. “It is a matter of the person having their own personal problems and the nature that prompts the action and not the profession,” Rosen said, who cited similar situations in the corporate profession. “A physician is a more privileged position where people confide in and seek help in a more private and personal matters.”

When applying for his licensure in New York State, Kinsella would have had to answer questions such as whether or not there were any charges pending against him in any jurisdiction for any sort of professional misconduct when applying for his license last year, according to the New York State application for licensure. Kinsella is listed as a “visiting professor” from documentation received in a freedom of information request through Stony Brook University making an annual salary $475,000 paid by the university. Kinsella is the highest paid employee on the SBU payroll, according to Seethroughny, and is the highest paid visiting professor throughout the entire SUNY system, making more than twice as much as the third highest salary in the system. Hired by Doctors Steven Strongwater and Richard Fine, CEO of the Stony Brook Hospital and Dean of the Stony Brook Medical School, respectively, Kinsella was brought on in October 2008. Both Strongwater and Fine have declined interviews, and outgoing President Shirley Strum Kenny said she would not comment on personnel matters during an April 2009 press conference. “Dr. Kinsella is a nationally known clinician and administrator who was brought on board to help us execute our vision to develop a National Cancer Institute designated Comprehensive Cancer Center that will serve as a major clinical and research enterprise for Long Island,” Fine wrote in an email after he denied multiple interview requests. “Along with his extensive experience in academic medicine, Dr. Kinsella was recently appointed to the National Cancer Institute’s Board of Scientific Advisors, a highly significant appointment.” During a phone interview, Kinsella denied any pending action complaint through the Ohio State Medical Board, though a ruling on that very complaint was made a few months ago. Asked if Dean Fine and others were aware of his past incidents, Kinsella replied, “Well, they are aware of those,” he added in his defense about the improper billings, “those were investigated, no allegations were found. That was well over a decade ago. That is old news.” A request was made through the university’s media relations to confirm whether Fine and Strongwater were aware of Kinsella’s past as well as inquiries as to what classes he was teaching. The media relations office failed to meet the deadline for a response. In the phone interview, Kinsella said he chose to come to SBU as a personal challenge to help put together an NCIsponsored comprehensive care center in addition to collaborating with both Brookhaven National Lab and Cold Spring Harbor. “We pick our challenges in life and this is one of the challenges I elected to do,” Kinsella said.

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Vol. XXX, Issue 14 |Friday, May 8, 2009

Class Registration
By Nick Statt
Like many administrative processes here at Stony Brook, class registration doesn’t, and probably never will, go smoothly. Now that budget cuts are enforcing inevitable class downsizing, more and more freshman are realizing the harsh reality: fulfilling their major requirements and obtaining a bearable schedule may be harder than they first thought. For freshman, class registration at student orientation brings back mixed memories. For some, it was fine and they had an acceptable first semester schedule, but that may be greatly attributed to the fact that they had advantages over other students. “It went all right for me, but I am an athlete [and] had an early July orientation date,” said freshman biology major AJ Orobello. Others who had late orientation dates or just ran into inescapable issues remember class registration as a hectic process. “There were not enough legitimate advisors helping the room full of students. I was being dealt with by other students who didn’t know what they were doing really,” said freshman prehealth major Jaime Elliott. “They didn’t know what I needed for the nursing program,” she added. Freshmen orientation was hardly a clear picture of how to put together a out of the way and SOLAR now the main tool for registration, some freshman thought it would become easier. “My progress report said I hadn’t fulfilled my math requirement even though I definitely had taken the math placement exam,” said Will Perera, a freshman psychology major. “After going to the advising center in person and having them look for an hour, I got it worked out. It was still a ridiculous hassle,” he added. Kevin Kelley, a freshman pre-health major, signed up for a two hundred level English class last December. The problem arose when he returned in January and it had just disappeared. “They told me that the class had issues with its professor and had been retracted. It sucks because I need an upper-level English and the only one left open didn’t fit into my schedule,” he said. On the other end of the spectrum, a few students have found that SOLAR works better for them. “As a poli-sci major, I don’t really have issues with classes, so SOLAR is a lot easier than sitting down with an advisor,” said freshman political science major David Rose. Now, amid the huge pressures of budget cuts and the economy still refusing to climb out of its recession, Stony Brook class registration is only getting more and more complex due to the university’s financial decisions. Departments that previously had spaces for students outside their major have started to restrict classes as far down as the two hundred level tiers. If a student wants to take EGL 243, Shakespeare: Major Works, not a farfetched desire for students considering that it is a DEC, they’re out of luck. Anything above EGL 204 is reserved for English majors or minors. SOLAR, however, won’t tell you that and will instead flash a message at you saying you don’t meet “reserve capacity requirements,” which, upon going to an advisor in person, can be translated to the fact that you’re restricted from it. You can hang out on the wait-list, but with class sizes in the 20s, you’re unlikely to have any chance at all when the ‘reserves” are lifted some time during the summer. Bente Videbaek, Director of Undergraduate Studies for the English Department, admitted that she does not know when these restrictions will be lifted. For journalism majors, who are second only to engineers with 127 required credits, more issues arise. This department requires a “concentration,” which

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neat schedule, but it was a highly visual foreshadowing of how administration works at SBU when it has to deal with the pressures of outside forces. With those big paper booklets–the ones that left you squinting to see if you could fit the class into your schedule–

involves taking 18 credits within a designated umbrella-like category with titles like “Public Relations.” This just means students who choose that particular concentration, of which there are four, have to take courses in the economics, political science, and sociology departments. However, one of the courses in that category, ECO 305, has a similar restriction on it meant to keep non-economics major/minors out. Despite this being a requirement for journalism majors, these “concentrations” hold no weight and hang in some limbo between major and minor designations, otherwise completely useless and only an added complication in the registration process. Nobody can argue with what needs to be done in terms of fiscal measures taken to keep the university afloat, but the decisions being made are leaving students with more seemingly unanswerable questions. The only feasible help that seems to allow students, especially freshman, to maneuver these necessary paths is Academic Advising. Rick Gatteau, Director of the Academic and Pre-Professional Advising Center, outlined a few major points in the advising process and how they deal with these complications. “The most important thing is for students to make their road map now,” he said. On the topic of how to deal with getting wait-listed on required classes, Gatteau added, “We try and split things into two categories: what we need and what we want. If a student hits a wall, we try to find them the best route to keep going, while still keeping in mind

that they must return to that requirement.” He added how Stony Brook’s size is really a major contributor to the problems with classes, considering that the preferences of upper-classman have to always, as is naturally understandable, be taken first and foremost. It terms of class registration this year, Gatteau said, “No major problems have really arisen at all.” According to a new program that tracks visits to the Academic Advising Center, over 7,000 visits have been made in this past semester, which exhibits that although the Advising Center doesn’t see any major obstructions, students still feel the need to bypass the, at times, annoyingly unhelpful methods of the SOLAR System. Summer orientation for next year’s incoming freshman is still not going to be fully tackled until the end of the semester. Gatteau says he can’t make any solid statements about what will happen exactly, pertaining to the cutbacks and economic pressures recently laid on Stony Brook. However, it should be noted that the feelings about SOLAR, class registration, and the recent changes Stony Brook has had to make are as complicated as the causes inducing them. Stony Brook, unfortunately having to constantly deal with their “3rd unhappiest student body,” is going to have to work even harder to find a balance between keeping the risk of sinking financially and the well being and satisfaction of its student body at bay.

The Stony Brook Press

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-+#"..+By Natalie Crnosija

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agreed with Ahmadinejad’s politics, especially his anti-Semitism,” Chittick said. Power in Iran largely lies with the Supreme Leader Ali Hoseini-Khameini and the Guardian Council, a group of appointed theologian advisors, according to Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. This makes Ahmadinejad more of a figurehead than a legitimate political force who can enact his threats against Israel or America. Mordente argued that Ahmadinejad is still a representative of the Iranian government, which is controlled by Ho“I used to live in Saudi Arabia,” Ramanathan said. “You don’t understand what academics are like in the Middle East. They are very tied to the government.” The political implications of the Farabi Intrernational Award were dismissed by Professor Shikaripur N. Sridhar, a colleague of Chittick and the founding Chair of the Asian and Asian American Studies department. Sridhar cited Chittick’s reputation as one of the foremost scholars of Sufism, a sect of Islam that developed in Iran and is focused on an individual’s relationship with God as explored through art, poetry, dance and music. “The award may have been given by a politician but it is the award that should be looked at,” Sridhar said. “If he went to Iran on account of an academic thing, I don’t see anything wrong with that.” Mordente and Ramanathan said that SBU professors tipped them off to Chittick’s award and informed them of the dangers such acceptance posed internationally. They refused to identify the professors who informed them of Chittick’s endorsement of Ahmadinejad’s government. “I’ll give you an example,” Mordente said. “If you were doing research about hite AngloSaxon Protestants and the head of the KKK wanted to present you with an award regarding white Anglo-Saxon Protestants, would you accept it?” Asian Studies major Riley Stein believed The Patriot’s criticism to be unfounded. “We should be happy Professor Chittick won this amazing award,” Stein said. “Apart from that, people should just shut the f--k up.” Chittick, who described himself as largely apolitical and not partial to interviews, said that The Patriot’s repeated attacks on his credibility made it necessary for him to speak. “The job of academia is to get out of ideology…to make known the riches and resources of the least known religion in the West, which is Islam,” Chittick said. “You might say, ‘What does twelfth century Iranian poetry have to do with anything?’ Ask not only what you can learn from it but what you can learn about yourself through it.”

Editor-in-Chief of The Patriot, Derek Mordente, continued his criticism of Religious Studies Department Chair Professor William Chittick for Chittick’s acceptance of Iran’s Farabi International Award in the Patriot’s April 2008 (read:2009) issue. Chittick was awarded for his 2001 publication, “The Heart of Islamic Philosophy,” an examination of the work of Afdal al-Din Kashani, the twelfth century Iranian philosopher. In the book, Chittick uses Kashani’s philosophy to elucidate the basics of Islam for the modern audience. “I questioned his judgment accepting the award from such an outspoken antiSemitic, anti-Western agenda-psychopath who presides over a government identified as a state sponsor of Terrorism,” read Mordente’s article, “Meet The (Stony Brook) Press,” which was a response to the Stony Brook Press’ defense of Chittick’s acceptance of the award. “All of this takes away from Professor Chittick’s credibility and belittles what he has done.” Mordente, who has yet to speak with Chittick, added that he did not question Chittick’s scholarship but instead questioned his indirect support of the Iranian government and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s anti-American politics. Chittick, who has been teaching at SBU since 1983 and has authored and translated 25 books on Islamic thought, said he did not support Ahmadinejad or the Professor William Chittick Iranian government. “I have never said anything in favor of the current Iranian government,” Chittick said. “Accepting the award was the first cians.’ I think that represents the vast time I returned to Iran after the revolu- majority of Iranians and how they view America.” tion.” Chittick added that American poChittick received his doctorate in litical bullying, not the American promPersian literature from the University of Tehran in 1974 and taught at various ise or people, is what has caused the Iranian institutions until the 1979 Rev- anti-American sentiment in Iran. The majority of people do not support Aholution. “In a country like Iran, everything madinejad or his extremist views. “I have never met an Iranian who is centered in Tehran,” Chittick said.

“All education is supported by government. It is not independent like in America. All money eventually comes from the government.” When Chittick went to Iran to receive his award, he said there was a large sign in Farsi that read, “Death to America” hanging in the front hall of the hotel. He was greeted warmly by many people in the hotel but was perplexed by the sign. “I asked them, ‘What kind of greeting is this?’” Chittick said. “They laughed and said, ‘No, we don’t mean you. We mean those American politi-

seini-Khameini. Aditya Ramanathan, a senior editor for The Patriot, added that the distinction between Ahmadinejad, HoseiniKhameini and the cabinet are irrelevant because of Hoseini-Khameini’s supreme position. Furthermore, Ramanathan said that the government’s influence over academic policies make Chittick’s award a political award.

by Jonathan Singer and Andrew Fraley Across the state from Stony Brook University, there exists another publication that is not afraid to print words like “fuck” and “shit” in its pages. But now Generation, a student magazine at the University at Buffalo with a 25-year tradition of alternative journalism, has lost its freedom. On April 3, Sub Board I, Inc., a non-profit conglomeration of UB student governments and publisher of Generation, notified current Editor-in-Chief Andrew Blake that it had suspended the magazine’s charter. “They couldn’t censor our content, so they took away the rulebook that gave us that power,” said Blake, a UB senior. Calling editorial autonomy “a huge responsibility,” Sub Board Vice President Robert Pape says that the magazine’s charter will be restored under the new leadership of UB student journalist Joshua Boston. Outside of his claim that the magazine has declined in quality over recent years, Boston has no previous ties to Generation. Much like the rivalry between The Stony Brook Press and The Statesman, UB’s student media scene has its own competition. There are three publications: The Spectrum, a tri-weekly newspaper; Visions, a magazine published by UB’s undergraduate Student Association; and Generation, which more recently has featured the phrase “An SBI Publication” on its cover, alongside “the student voice since 1984.” Before the magazine had become Generation in 1984, it had been known as The Current. Andrew Galarneau, who had been Generation’s faculty advisor for nine years up until this semester, recalled the publication’s transformation. “What’s going on with the magazine now is the same thing that happened with The Current in 1984,” explained Galarneau. Sub Board had cut the magazine’s funding after an argument with the editorial board at the time. After that, Generation was born, and Galarneau was one of its original staffers. While Galarneau wasn’t Faculty Advisor when Sub Board suspended the charter, he had been the advisor last semester when “the forest fire was lit and while it raged”. Galarneau claimed he’d spent hours last semester explaining to Blake the damages his editorial board was doing to the magazine’s viability. Most notable, Galarneau said, were two photos appearing in different issues; one was a back cover which featured Blake vomiting on an issue of Visions magazine, and another featured Blake holding a used condom—both were parodies of photos that appeared in Visions. “The magazine is not intended for him to carry on his personal feuds,” said Galarneau. “The people from the Student Association thought it was hilarious,” claimed Blake, referring to the condom parody photo. Galarneau was the only person to express concern about either photo, according to Blake. When Sub Board suspended their charter and hired Boston for the new position this semester, Galarneau was not surprised. “Unfortunately, it was right to fear that this could happen.” Boston officially begins on June 1. The upcoming Editor-in-Chief ’s qualifications as a journalist include time as Managing Editor of both The Spectrum and Visions. “He does have journalism experience, but he has nothing to do with Generation,” Blake said. Normally, Generation’s editorial board chooses the next year’s Editor-in-Chief. After the charter was suspended, that process was the job of a five-person search committee, which included Pape and Generation Associate Editor Michelle Matthews. “This process was about picking the most qualified candidate,” Pape said. One of Sub Board’s goals was to open up the Editor-in-Chief hiring process, in hopes of lessening intimidation. After the committee chose Boston, the new Editor-in-Chief called Generation a “niche publication.” “We fill the niche of a couple of people who are not scared to tell the truth,” Blake said in response. Lauren Ministero was one of three current
Photo Credit: Andrew Blake, Facebook

sections feature content that is generated anonymously by Generation’s readership. “A lot of people do read the magazine just for the personals,” Blake said. When he became Editor-inChief one year ago, Sub Board invited Blake to a board of directors meeting, where the magazine’s publishers presented concerns of both the board members and the students. They told him that they were not too happy about that back section. “I’m not going to lie— it was kind of creepy. A real closed doors, hush-hush kind of thing, you know?” Blake described in an editorial from the April 17 issue of Generation. The then Editor-in-Chief presented the idea of removing personals from the pages of Generation to the magazine’s staff. “I told the editorial board and they all agreed absolutely not,” Blake said. The January 27 issue of Generation featured a

Pictured above, members of Generation s editorial board in 2008. On far right: 2008-09 Editor-in-Chief Andrew Blake.

Generation editors who applied for next year’s Editorin-Chief position after the magazine’s charter was suspended. “I was still interested because I did put a lot in the magazine,” she said. In front of the committee, Ministero explained what she wanted to do with the magazine and what ethics meant to her. “They also talked about the audience I wanted to attract,” she said. Two main issues in this argument regard ethics and Generation’s audience. On Andrew Blake, Boston said, “He crossed a lot of ethical boundaries, in my eyes.” When asked to give examples of offensive content, Boston regarded the material as inappropriate to reprint. It is that flippant material, most notably a section of explicit personal ads and an ongoing question and answer feature called “I’m Right. You’re Wrong.” that landed the magazine in hot water. Both of these

notably controversial “I’m Right. You’re Wrong.” in which a reader asked, “Why does David L. Dunn, the V.P. for Health Sciences who initiated UBreathe Free, have a small penis?”(UBreathe Free is a campus-wide anti-smoking initiative.) Blake and Matthews responded in an irreverent manner, following the column’s format. Upon request from Sub Board, Blake and his editorial board printed a correction. An earlier request was made after the September 16 issue, regarding an article about campus safety. The feature mentioned incorrect information about UB’s Anti-Rape Task Force, a service that is offered by Sub Board. “Other than that, there were no formal complaints,” he said. “The cover story is always a feature story,” Blake said. The April 1, 2008 issue of Generation featured an article titled “Did You Get Your Slice,” a cover

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THE STONY BROOK PRESS MAY 8, 2009

story exposing how UB’s Student Association was misappropriating its money. The scandal regarded a number of SA officials who misused funds on personal trips for themselves and friends. “Not once did Visions, the SA magazine and the organization’s chief link to the public, publish a word about the head jobs going up for grabs. They certainly didn’t mention the $12,000 salary, reimbursements for cell phones, or the $2.7 million dollar budget that comes with the job,” said the article, which was written by 2006-07 Editor-in-Chief Peter Scheck, with additional reporting by Blake and 2007-08 Editor-in-Chief Tara Sullivan. “Nothing against Josh, but it’s sad to see a magazine that’s been student-run for 25 years be taken away at a whim,” Scheck said. “You’ve got to say something when you want to take someone’s charter away.” Both Boston and Pape echo each other’s argument about ethics in journalism. “It seems that a lot of the things that Josh is saying is coming from their mouths,” said Ministero. Upon the Sub Board’s hiring decision, the April 29 issue of The Spectrum reported that Boston and Pape are housemates. While the newspaper identified this as a possible bias, Pape dismisses any accusations as false. “Josh as a journalist is a very talented kid,” he said. “Josh earned this on his merit.” Although things were not as normal as they could have been, Generation’s editorial board chose an Editor-in-Chief before the committee interviewed the applicants. It was not Ministero, but Photo Editor Roger Chao who ended up the preferred candidate. Boston will start his term on June 1. “As of now I’m leaning towards not working with him,” Chao said. Neither is Blake, who said he might stay at UB an extra year. “Most people from the magazine won’t be there anymore,” Blake said. “If you see that that many people are unhappy, then something has got to be wrong,” Ministero said. In a recent email Boston sent out to UB’s visual studies listserv, he referred to the publication as “Sub Board magazine.” “I have no idea what he wants to do,” Blake said. “There’s a bunch of rumors that they’re going to change the name.” Boston admitted that this might be the case, explaining a stigma he saw associated with the Generation name. “In the end, it’s going to be a better publication,” Boston said. Generation is also known for its literary and “Pulse” sections of fiction and art reviews, respectively. While Boston said he has little interest in the literary pages, he still wants to keep it in the magazine, along with some version of the “Pulse” section. As far as personals, many of which disparage upper-middle class female Jewish Long Islanders attending UB, Boston said they might not be there in upcoming issues of the magazine, which is published weekly during the academic year. “Advertisers don’t want to advertise in a magazine like that,” Boston said. “This year they ran a story on moustaches,” Boston said. “That was a cover story.” That feature, written by Blake, titled “’Stache Of Cash,” was about Western New Yorkers who grew facial hair for charity, and was published in the March 3 issue of Generation. “I find it hard to believe that a story about college kids raising money for cancer research is bad,” Blake said. Blake also responded to Boston’s repeated attacks on his ethical structure: “I’d like to see why he thinks that,” he said. “I practically sleep with my copy of the AP Stylebook.” Blake considered several places to look for legal assistance, including UB student legal services and the New York Civil Liberties Union, but the student legal service that UB offers is an entity run by Sub Board, and he hasn’t heard back from the civil libertarians. “Andrew and others would want you to believe that Sub Board is ‘the man,’” Pape said. The Vice Pres-

ident pointed out that Sub Board is run by students, and offers services that UB’s administration doesn’t provide, including Generation’s editorial autonomy outside of times the magazine can be sued for libel. After the April 1 Student Association cover story, Boston said the Generation reporters used skewed quotes of SA officials. “That’s false,” said Blake. “No one from SA for the past 15 months has brought allegations.” Being funded in part by UB’s student activity fee, Boston called Generation’s contents an irresponsible use of student’s funds. Thus, the game of “I’m Right. You’re Wrong.” continues with Generation’s editors versus Pape and Boston. Blake said that Boston “couldn’t cut it as a Spectrum editor,” referring to Boston’s failed run for The Spectrum’s Editor-in-Chief position before he moved to Visions. Boston also applied for the position of Editor-in-Chief of Visisons at the same time, but was hired for Generation first. With regards to the SA magazine, Blake called that publication a “propaganda machine” for UB’s Student Association. There are also conflicting reports on Sub Board’s communication with Blake, and his reception. Blake asserts that he’s only been invited to two board of directors meetings; the first at the beginning of the fall semester and the next was before they announced the suspension. He had missed that meeting, but only because prior notice hadn’t been given in advance. There were also optional sub-committee meetings that conflicted with Blake’s class schedule. It was this lack of communication that Galarneau believed ultimately led to the decision. “A problem with a guy who won’t get back to you when they [Sub Board] want to talk to you is worse than printing the word ‘fuck’,” he said. Blake insisted that the miscommunication was all Sub Board’s part. “Most people don’t know what’s going on here,” he said. “Even people at the magazine don’t know what’s going on. Sub Board’s been very hush-hush about this.” Blake has been with Generation since 2004, working under Editors-in-Chief Morgan Grant (20042005) and Chris Ahearn (2005-2006), years that Boston called “the old glory days of Generation”. However, even those issues featured personals and “I’m Right. You’re Wrong.” columns. Pape said that Sub Board’s board of directors unanimously approved the hiring of Boston. The magazine, in whatever new form it takes, will now be run by students who are a little more “straight-laced,” according to Galarneau. “The good news is that it will still be a student funded magazine.” Scheck remains optimistic about the situation, giving it five years before the magazine is returned to its former glory. “This a setback, not huge, and we will get it back,” he said. “We have a tradition of coming out against the odds.”

Fill out this coupon and drop it in the box outside our office at Student Union 060. _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________
THE STONY BROOK PRESS reserves the right to reject any message that we deem inappropriate for publication. Messages containing names or addresses will not be printed.THE STONY BROOK PRESS does not take any responsibiliuty for offense taken from the personals.

PERSONALS

PERSONALS ______________________________________ To the dancing asian gangstarr kid: keep on rockin in the free world ______________________________________ douchebag with the dumb hat and stupid hair in my CS class, you’re a douchebag. ______________________________________ To all long islanders who go to green cactus, its pronounced “halla-penyo” and and “pico de guy-o”. get it right you fucking morons. ______________________________________ To the upstate hick in my PSY *** class: Jesus is not the messiah, and the Buffalo Bills will never win the Super Bowl. So stop wearing that stupid ass hat. ______________________________________ To all hipsters riding the South p express bus: go cut yourself with your man man vinyl you skinny fags. ______________________________________ To the girl with the annoying voice in my EGL *** class, I finally turned around to see what you looked like once, but lacked the courage to say, “Every time you say ‘umm’ and ‘like’ a piece of my soul dies.” Other days, I just cringe and close my ears to keep my brain from bleeding. ______________________________________ Hey creepy white guy. You peer into my eyes and invade my body with your serious demeanor. Asian girls don’t really like that. Stop it. ______________________________________ Q: How many hipsters does it take to screw in a light bulb? A: What, you didn’t know? ______________________________________ hey pink haired hippy hanging out in the SAC commuter lounge: is you’re bush pink as well? i’d love to find out. ______________________________________ to the creepy kid with lady’s sunglasses: you’re fucking retarded ______________________________________ i know that you are afraid of glitter. ______________________________________ evrybody that wears a led zepplin or pink floyd tshirt should grow the fuck up. your not in high school anymore, so stop listning to your dad and find your own taste in fucking music. baby boomer music needs to die!

THE STONY BROOK PRESS MAY 8, 2009

FEATURES 11

12 Features

Vol. XXX, Issue 14 |Friday, May 8, 2009

+0-* (&.) (+."! /%" -""5"By Nick Statt
David Barstow, a New York Times reporter, was awarded his second Pulitzer Prize on Monday, April 20, for investigative reporting. The first of the two articles for the “Message Machine” piece that garnered him this honor appeared on the front page of the Times exactly one year prior to his win. Although he has been recognized in journalistic field, the TV networks that he blasted in his reports have done little to acknowledge the corrupt collusion that they let occur with the Pentagon, going as far as to propound an extreme downplay of Barstow and his findings in their national coverage. “Message Machine” was a two-part project by Barstow that ended up highlighting extraordinarily shocking methods that some have considered to be propaganda and psychological manipulation. The Pentagon, in an attempt to make the Iraq War look positive to the public, created a secret campaign to use retired military personnel who were now “military analysts” in the radio and TV network circles. This was all done, according to Barstow and the NY Times’ investigation, with the purpose of spewing support for the war with a convincing military ethos to support it. The Pentagon enacted this with the use of private briefings for military analysts that aimed to turn them into “an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks,” as Barstow described. Even more upsetting was the fact that these analysts, used by FOX News, CNN, NBC News and other newtorks had financial ties to the very war on which they were commenting. One man in particular, General Barry McCaffrey, was the subject of Barstow’s second article, “One Man’s Military-Industrial-Media Complex.” That article, which followed up on the uncovering of multiple analysts used by the Pentagon in the previous article, told in detail how a military contractor called Defense Solutions hired McCaffrey to covertly use his influence as a retired four-star general to help win the right to supply the Defense Department with more of their tanks. The New York Times’ website contains both articles in their archives. The real matter at hand is not the Pentagon and their actions because it has been over a year since the first article hit the front page. And the Associated Press, in their report on Barstow’s Pulitzer win, reported that the Pentagon had suspended the program following the publishing of Barstow’s two-piece project. It’s plausible to expect such a program to come out of the Pentagon, considering the controversial measures taken in the past eight years. Some examples include the “enhanced interrogation techniques” of Guantanamo Bay, only now being investigated thoroughly, and the use of the Patriot Act to pass laws allowing the access of international bank information, formally called Operation Swift. The eyes of the public should be foApril 20, 2008, when it was seen on the front page of the Times, CBS and Fox both refused to comment. NBC News and ABC both issued comments on how they had a certain ethical requirement expected of their analysts and that they go to respectable lengths to do background checks. NBC assured that the people on their network “…have been appropriately vetted and that nothing in their profile would lead to even a perception of a conflict of interest.” Barstow cleverly helped break this statement down earlier with a quote from Rick Francona, an NBC analyst, saying that he didn’t think NBC had any networks. The Associated Press, who reported on the Pulitzer winners on April 20th, had a whole section dedicated to Barstow that entailed exactly for what he won. However, CNN’s 898word report on the winners failed to mention Barstow’s name even once, let alone the fact that his win was because he uncovered corruptness in the Pentagon and mistakes made by that very news network. Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald noted in his online article, “The Pulitzer-winning investigation that dare not be uttered on TV,” that NBC News had similarly turned a blind eye to Barstow, simply mentioning the NY Times’ five wins without a single mention names. However, NBC News’ Brain Williams, in that very same report that Greenwald quoted in his article, named Eugene Robinson for the Washington Post winner of Best Commentator, saying that he was “of course…an on-air commentator for us on MSNBC all through the election season and continues to be.” “The outright refusal of any of these ‘news organizations’ even to mention what Barstow uncovered about the Pentagon’s propaganda program and the way it infected their coverage is one of the most illuminating events revealing how they operate,” said Greenwald later on in his article. He added that the news networks’ negligence, whether purposeful or not, was “transparently corrupt and journalistically disgraceful.” Barstow put it best when he titled the first groundbreaking article, “Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand.” The hidden hand he speaks of seems to be touching upon every sector of governmental operation, unavoidable and unstoppable without the forces of people who feel that it is wrong and have the resources and courage to speak against it. Barstow, who seems to care much more about change than winning Pulitzers, said in an interview with Joe Strupp of Editorandpublisher.com that his win was “an affirmation of the principle that American journalism ought to be fiercely independent.” On the topic of how the TV news networks ignored both Barstow and his reporting, he told E&P that he could confidently not worry about it. “The pieces touched off a really vigorous debate in the online community and in newspapers about it, that nature of our journalism. In a way, it really didn’t matter that TV decided not to touch it. It further suggests a shifting in the balance of power in the media landscape.”

cusing not just on the abuses of civil liberties and illegal actions of the government, but the TV networks that failed to do their job as journalists and are now being surprisingly silent about their missteps. Barstow revealed that the networks were incompetent in both revealing the corruption of the military analysts that were known to have worked for companies involved with the military and failing to delve further into their background checks of hired network news personalities. In Barstow’s first article, the one that really hit the message home on

idea that he was participating with any militarily-involved company. CNN was one of the only networks to actually come clean, quoted in Barstow’s article saying, “We did not ask Mr. Marks the follow-up questions we should have,” referring to their analyst General James Marks who was hired in 2004, but was never fully checked to see that he also worked for McNeil Technologies. One year after this article hit, and fortunately after the Pentagon stopped the program, Barstow is still not receiving proper recognition from the TV

The Stony Brook Press

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Hobbs Farm
By Krystal DeJesus
There are few farms on Long Island that are run by volunteers and give away their produce for free to local food banks, but Hobbs Farm in Centereach does just that. Just four miles south of the university, this 11-acre farm is right in the middle of suburbia with homes and roadways surrounding it on every side. Although the farm is new to many of its neighbors, it is actually over 100 years old and is the last African American owned farm on Long Island. It began in 1906 when James Hobbs and his family moved to Long Island from Georgia. At first they rented the land they farmed in Centereach, but later on James purchased a plot for Hobbs Farm. “Not too many African American farmers actually owned a farm,” said Tom Lyon, co-director of Friends of Hobbs Farm. “There were limited numbers of black farmers on Long Island in the earlier part of the century.” James’ son, Alfred Hobbs, who lived on the farm from the age of three months, took ownership in 1955 and farmed it until his death in 1996. Research on the history of the Hobbs family and the farm have just recently begun, so the exact facts are not known. “We’re not 100 percent sure of the ring the title over to the church, the property became overgrown and vandalized. In 2007, Friends of Hobbs Farm was formed to help the church restore the land, which had turned into a dumping ground. “There were truckloads of garbage and debris,” Jiminez-Pellegrino said. “Different companies with payloaders came and cleared it all out for us.” Last year was the first time the land was used as a farm in over a decade. The two acres of farmed land produced 10 tons of produce, of which all went to local food pantries. Also with enormous community support and donations from local businesses, the original farmhouse was restored and educational programs were developed. This year there are plans to double the size of the farmed land to five acres and expand its education programs even further. The farm offers internships to college students and the farm managers are trying to expand their children’s garden to teach more young people about where their food comes from. “I think the focus will be number one just farming and an agrarian life on Long Island,” Lyon said of the future goals for the education program. “It’s exciting because it’s kind of a work in progress, and as we get to meet new people, we get new ideas.”¨

Krystal DeJesus

One of the few lasting farms on Long Island.

details,” Lyon said. Alfred managed to keep the farm alive and running even as development made its way further east on Long Island. He had multiple chances to sell the property but passed up on the opportunities because he wanted the land to stay a farm. But since Alfred and his wife didn’t have any children to take over the farm, he left it to the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in

Setauket, where he was a member. “The church worked hard at holding on to the property,” said Anne Jiminez-Pellegrino, co-director of Friends of Hobbs Farm. “Rev. Leonard really knew what was in Mr. Hobbs’ heart.” The Bethel AME Church was not available for comment. Due to the lack of proper resources and legal complications with transfer-

A Cosmic Con ict in a World Gone Global
By Natalie Crnosija
The Pakistani army attacked Taliban forces after their April 26 movement into the Buner region forced the displacement of thousands of Pakistani citizens 60 miles from the nation’s capital Islamabad. This military action followed Pakistan’s February 2009 cession of the Swat Valley to the Taliban, following the Taliban’s fighting in the region. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari’s government permitted the Taliban’s establishment of Islamic law in the region as part of the truce. Pakistan’s inaction drew international criticism of Zardari’s government and military, which are charged with the protection of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. If media coverage of Zardari’s perceived ineptitude prompted imaginings of nuclear missiles standing solitary in a field with Osama bin Laden cackling maniacally on the periphery, that is a false interpretation, said Professor Reza Aslan, a religious scholar and CBS News analyst. “There is no chance of that happening,” Aslan said. “The fundamental truth is that there is no person in charge of Pakistan, the military is in charge of Pakistan. It is the unifying principle, the one element that holds that country together.” Aslan, whose family immigrated to the United States during his childhood to escape the Iranian Revolution, holds a Masters of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School and a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa. He currently teaches creative writing at the University of California, Riverside. Appearances on The Daily Show, Real Time with Bill Maher and Anderson Cooper 360 have established Aslan “On the one hand, obviously there is something very satisfying about it...to try to be a public intellectual and shape the way that issues, whether of politics or religion, are being discussed, particularly in the media,” Aslan said. “It is a responsibility that I do take seriously and I am enormously grateful for the opportunity too, for the chance to actually inject a sense of objectivity and rationalism in discussions about Islam and the Muslim world because these discussions are so often had almost exclusively on the margins of the debate.” Though some Muslims might not agree with his interpretation of Islam in the modern context, Aslan said that he has received a lot of support for his efforts to facilitate dialogue, even if it exists largely on the periphery of global consciousness. Aslan’s new book, How to Win a Cosmic War: God, Globalization and the End of the War on Terror was in-

Professor Reza Aslan

as a news analyst and, unexpectedly, as a representative of Islam in western media. Due to his unique position on the media landscape, Aslan said he has found himself in the position of answering for other Muslims of disparate political and religious affiliations.

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spired by the interactions and questions he fielded regarding the radicalization of Islam shortly after he published his first book, No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam. “This is the book I needed to write,” Aslan said. “A book that explained the idea of religious violence and also helped people to understand or, at least helped create a new framework for understanding this conflict with radical forces in the Muslim world and why the war on terror has been such an absolute failure in actually confronting these forces. I think that everyone had understood, in an intuitive way, that the war on terror had failed but, people really couldn’t put their finger on why that was the case.” How to Win A Cosmic War: God, Globalization and the End of the War on Terror focuses on the unwinnable aspect of the war on terror, which Aslan cites as being the radicalization and religious interpretation of the conflict by self-declared jihadists, or holy warriors, like Osama bin Laden and members of al-Qaeda. The jihadists’ reformatory use of the Koran gives their struggle against religious authorities, the United States and other countries a cosmic importance, making their fight a cosmic war,

Aslan said. Aslan examines this cosmic mindset, where the war on terror becomes an intangible, non-geographical, ideological war without the possibility of victory. Americans too view themselves cosmically, Aslan explained, and naturally have become the jihadists’ counterparts on the cosmic battlefield. From the United States’ inception, the founders and American people have viewed America as the new Israel with Americans being the new chosen people. This national consciousness of divine singularity has self-defined America as a force for good in a cosmic sense. “We have always seen ourselves as engaged in a cosmic battle between the forces of good and evil,” Aslan said. “Now, fighting this enemy that also believes that it has been divinely elected and that also believes that it is engaged in war between good and evil. We’ve essentially entered a period now in which we are feeding off of each other, in which our rhetoric is validating their rhetoric, and that their mindset is legitimizing our mindset.” This matching of mindsets is fueled by rhetoric before firepower and gives leaders and their word choice tremendous power within this battleground

without borders. “In many ways, Bush and bin Laden were the same person,” Aslan said. “The way that they spoke, the way that they thought, the way they that they categorized the universe into these very clear cut, black and white dichotomies.” Former President Bush’s initial and continuing description of the war on terror in religious terminology, not only intensified this cosmic war against the jihadists, but also lumped the entire Islamic world in with their more extreme counterparts. “Thus far, we have chosen to describe the War on Terror in exclusively religious terms, in exclusively cosmic terms,” Aslan said. “That, I think, has not only validated the viewpoint of the jihadists but, more importantly, it has served to convince the majority of the Muslim world that war on terror is in fact a war against Islam because that is how it has been framed, that is how it has been communicated.” Aslan assumed his analytical role shortly after his 2006 publication of No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, which examined the history of Islam in the modern context. Islam is undergoing a period of reformation akin to the Protestant Refor-

Aslan on Meet the Press with Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.)

mation during the sixteenth century, Aslan said. Like the Christian Reformation, conflicts within Islamic sects regarding the interpretation of text and interaction with the religious authorities have prompted outbursts of violence, like the September 11 attacks. This reformation has been facilitated by globalization and the Internet’s enabling of information exchange, Aslan said. This trend leads to the individualization of religion and religious authority. The rise of jihadism in the Muslim world and abroad is a product of this movement away from the prevailing Ulema—Islamic religious authorities— power structure over religious life, creating individualized authority. “[Global communication] has allowed for surges in education and in literacy and this mass migration of peoples which has also had an enormous effect in creating different perspectives and different centers in the Islamic world,” Aslan said. “That passing of authority from institutions to individuals which is at the heart of what the reformation phenomenon represents. As I talk about in that previous book, we have to recognize that the surge of violence and jihadism that we see is in of itself a sign of the reformation.” Reformation, as a word, is largely used within a Christian context and most specifically with regards to the sixteenth century attempted reform and modernization of the Catholic Church. Aslan used this word to create an analogy but William Chittick, a professor of Islam in the Stony Brook University Religious Studies department, slightly disagreed with the designation but believed Islam is capable of modernization. “Reformation has a strong Protestant connotation,” Chittick said. “But do I see that Islam as able to adjust as a religion, adjust with how it deals with things? Yes.” Conversely, Omar Shareef, a Stony Brook University student and president of the Muslim Student Association, said that he saw a shift back to Islamic revivalism in the Long Island Muslim community in response to the radical jihadist stance. “Muslims are actually shifting toward getting back to the Koran,” Shareef said. “The way to combat extremist views is to revisit the Koran and its teachings. People should not give up on that.” Shareef said he did see very gradual changes within Islam, especially with regard to the treatment of women. During the end of the ’08-’09 academic year, the SBU Muslim Students Association elected their first female chaplain,

The Stony Brook Press

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ASLAN continued from previous page

or president, of their organization. “The extremists marginalize women,” Shareef said. “Our religion, in the truest sense, does not limit anyone. American stereotypes of Islam, by their nature, believe that Islam restricts women. This is not true at all. We have proven that. We want to embolden women.” Similarly, Aslan believes that women are a rising power within Islam. Women are, in fact, at the forefront of Islamic Reformation, Aslan said. This rise has been prompted by globalization and technology, resulting in a transfer of authority from institutions to individuals. This gives women, for the first time in fourteen centuries of Islamic practice, true access to the Koran to interpret it for themselves. The 2007 publication of The Sublime Quran by Islamic scholar Laleh Baktiar, who is the first female to translate the Koran into English, illustrates this progressivism and moves away from Islamic institutions which are exclusively male. Baktiar’s translation brings a new perspective to Koranic interpretation, Aslan said. “In that translation you saw the enormous amount of textual exegesis that is taking place in Koranic studies for the first time, and no question that women are at the head the head of that movement,” Aslan said. In spite of these more progressive developments in Islam, the other side of that reformatory coin is the cosmic war as jihadists continue to pursue their ultra-radical practice of Islam. This brand of Islam, which removes the Ulema from religious power, enables any individual to declare a fatwa, a religious decree, or a jihad, a fight against injustice—privileges which were given solely to the Ulema as per Islamic law. This individualization of religious authority was spearheaded by non-Ulema Osama bin Laden with his issuance of fatwas. According to Aslan, bin Laden is poster child of the Islamic reformation. “Jihadism is a product of the Islamic reformation,” Aslan said. “Were there no reformation, there would be no jihadism.” In this globalized religious war without a physical battlefield, Israel is the epicenter of the cosmic war, both as a focal point for Islam, Judaism and Christianity and as the understood setting for the end time war, Aslan said. With this apocalyptic understanding of Israel firmly set in the minds of followers of these religions, the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is elevated to the cosmic level. “The conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians, which is a conflict

over land and resources, has become a conflict over religious identity,” Aslan said. “The most destructive element in this conflict is not necessarily the Muslim and Jewish cosmic warrior but the evangelical Christian warriors who from their comfortable perches in suburban America have essentially endowed this political, territorial conflict with this enormous messianic significance and who are doing probably more damage than any other party to this conflict to keeping this war going.” In this contest for the favor of God, Israel must remain under Jewish political control, Aslan said. The United States has a covenantal relationship with Israel, which dictates that Americans must support Israel, financially and politically. Israel’s most enthusiastic supporters are a small group of Dispensationalist Evangelical Christians in the United States, said Professor Stephen Spector, chair of the English department and an expert in Evangelical Christianity’s relationship with Israel. Dispensationalism, or the belief that the Biblical apocalypse is approaching, gives Israel monumental significance for Evangelical Christians, Spector said. This belief strongly colors the Evangelical Christians’ view of Islam, which they perceive as a threat to Israel and its divine role. “Evangelicals go beyond criticizing the radicals,” Spector said. “They indict Islam itself.” The popular support of Israel in the United States during the Gaza War, which lasted from late December 2008 until mid-January 2009, shifted slightly due to the overwhelming force Israel used against Hamas, the Palestinian resistance group, Aslan said. The conflict, which began with Hamas’ firing rockets at Israel, ended with Israel’s military moving into Gaza, leaving thousands of Palestinian citizens dead. “There was something about that conflict in Gaza that, regardless of how you saw it, or who you thought was responsible for it, that was so one way,” Aslan said. “Coming on heels two years earlier of the war between Israel and Hezbollah, where the American media

very easily fell into its usual pro-Israel stance, I was surprised to see newspapers, and columnist and media personalities, whether it was Jon Stewart or “The New York Times,” come out and openly criticize Israel.” This criticism of Israel’s conduct during the Gaza War drew opposition from members of SBU Hillel Foundation for Jewish Life, including board member Sarah Marshall. “If it were any country but Israel, would the streets of every major city in the world be filled with protestors?” Marshall asked. “Somehow I don’t think so.” Similarly, Hillel President Geordan Kushner said that Israel had a right to defend itself and did not warrant the protest it received. “America definitely has a position and that is to support Israel, “Kushner said. “Israel is a democratic state and America has an interest in protecting it to help spread democracy throughout the Middle East.” Both Kushner and Marshall believe the war to be essentially political and a conflict over land ownership. Whatever the perception of war, secular or religious, the ultimate effect is the same—ritualization, Aslan said.

“War is ritualized, whether it is considered a cosmic war or a secular war,” Aslan said. “There is a very distinct ritualization and sacrilization of war that becomes very important in giving it meaning. And that’s what religion does, it gives violence a sense of significance.” Apart from religion’s ability to justify violence, it also exists as a story, which gives world events a greater context, Aslan said. As both a religious scholar and creative writer, Aslan said he uses his storytelling skills to more effectively communicate the messages of these cosmic narratives as they influence modern life. “Religion is a story, it has to be treated as a story,” Aslan said. “When you talk about Jesus or Mohammed or Moses or the Buddha, you are engaging in sacred history. I use a lot of my storytelling skills to bring religion alive and to bring these issues which might seem dry or boring or something that a lot of people wouldn’t be normally interested in, to give them a sense of the story behind the current events of the day.”

16

In Memoriam
-".. ")") "-.
would have it that she walked into a Statesman open house and came across then Features Editor Chris Fairhall. She joined his camp and wound up news editor in 1979, finally breaking off with him and Eric Brand to form what would become The Stony Brook Press. Graduating with a BA in English, Melissa took her knack for editing and in 1984 landed a job in the Madison Avenue office of The Oxford University Press. She found herself working under the esteemed editor of American history, Sheldon Meyer. 1986 saw her move from OUP’s offices on Madison Avenue to Oxford itself. It was there that she met Richard Lawrence, the man who would become her husband. She and Richard were married a year later. They would go on to have two

Vol. XXX, Issue 14 |Friday, May 8, 2009

"(&..

,&"() *
Melissa was diagnosed with a form of melanoma, but was determined to push on and live life to the fullest. The cancer returned last summer. Melissa’s final days were spent in a hospice near Bath. She died on February 23. One of her final requests was that her artistic friends decorate her coffin. She is survived by her two daughters and husband. Melissa’s death has come as a blow to those all those who knew her. This spread contains the memories of her husband, her sister, and former Press staffers. We hope you enjoy.

By Alex H. Nagler
Melissa Spielman was a Press staffer through and through. The Story of The Press puts her as the woman who worked with the students who “took over” the Statesman’s office to produce the Statesperson and turned “their propagandistic tracts into English.” She shared the first byline of the first issue of The Press and was one of the initial three editors. But her life would amount to so much more than just that once she left Stony Brook and the sheltering nest of The Press. Born to Stanley Spielman and Adrianne Karp, Melissa was the eldest child who worked her way up to Stony Brook through public school. In 1978, fate

daughters, Rachel and Jessica, in 1988 and 1990. Melissa grew tired of the publishing industry and decided she wanted a change of career tracks. Going off her love of science, she pursued a degree in science at Oxford University that culminated in a DPhil. Her thesis, on the regulation of post-meiotic cell division during pollen production, won the Irene Manton Prize from the Linnean Society of London in 1999. In 2003, Melissa and her family moved to Bath after several years of research at Oxford to join the team at Bath University. She co-authored numerous papers and helped establish the Cafe Scientifique, a series of informal talks in the upstairs room of a local pub. All of her accomplishments were not without their downside. In 1999,

&-./ 3" 0/&1" !&/+By Chris Fairhall
I am in a state of shock reading your email and the obituary. I opened the email expecting to read about some amazing thing Melissa accomplished, or that she was planning to visit the United States. Many of my memories have been dulled by the intervening 25 years, but I will do to best to tell you about the Melissa I was privileged to know and call my friend. We met at Stony Brook in the fall of 1978. I am reasonably confident she came to an open house at the student newspaper, Statesman, where I was Feature Editor at the time. I was a bit of a rabble-rouser, feeling that the role of a student newspaper was to raise hell, and certainly stood out from many of the other Statesman editors and staffers she would have met. I do not remember what we talked about in the Statesman office that evening, but I remember well that the two of us hit it off, and visited a local pub, the Rainy Night House, where we discussed a wide range of subjects. Interesting enough, I have always remembered that cellular biology was one topic we discussed that night, and one part of our conversation focused on mitochondria. I was a bit in awe of this freshman, and all the more so after we visited her dorm where she demonstrated her musical talents on her guitar. As I think about her intellect, curiosity and passion to acquire knowledge for the purpose of bettering a field in which she has an interest, I find it safe to say that Melissa personified a renaissance woman. Melissa came of age and went to college at a time when the role of

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tion through having babies and tending to household chores still seemed to be held by large numbers even though the reality of the situation with 2-income households had already come about. Melissa is one of many women who helped pave the way to improvements we see today, doing so by using her great intellect to make things happen, and exercising flexibility in fitting into professions dominated by men, i.e. publishing and science. I believe that some of the changes for the better that have come about over the past 30 years result from women like Melissa stepping up and succeeding in whatever endeavor she started. And, of course, she succeeded in many endeavors in a very short life span. When millions of small groups see women like Melissa over a long enough period of time stepping up and succeeding at anything they choose, I can’t help but believe that paves the way for all people to reach the point they are today – they take it for granted that a woman can run for President, become Speaker of the House, or take on any challenge. Yes, Melissa played her part in this larger story line. My final remembrances for this article are that Melissa was a loving and caring human being. When something was bothering me, she would take the time to pry it out of me, often providing good counsel on what to do, invariably giving a big hug, and finish up by lightening the moment with an oft said refrain, “Fairhall, what are we going to do with you?”

how well she fit in with this era. Very briefly, women at the time earned way, way less than men performing comparable jobs (today it’s only way less); women were seldom promoted very far

women in the work force and in American society at a broader level was starting to change in dramatic fashion, and it is only with hindsight that I recognize

in business or academia; women were (and still are) greatly under-represented in elected positions; and, the view that women should achieve self-actualiza-

The Stony Brook Press

In Memoriam
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At one point, we decided to bring a stray cat into the house. None of us really liked cats, but we all loved strays and we all believed in fighting for the underdog. Homer Preston was homeless and forlorn and needed us. We took him in and decided to raise him as a dog. Mel made Homer come, sit, beg and roll over. Best of all, Mel taught Homer how to play tag. They loved to run after each other in the backyard, each reveling in the chase. It’s an image I’ll always cherish: Melissa zig-zagging in the sun, her head back, laughing so hard at one of the small wonders of life. She knew life was short and she knew how to live it, holding the moments and the people who matter close; her husband, her children, her friends, even a stray cat named Homer. We’re all so lucky that we had her in our lives and we’ll carry her with us forever. down to Old Bio. I interrupted the fury, introduced myself and up from the desk, all four-feet and eleven inches of her, stood Melissa. From her typing intensity, I anticipated meeting a brash newsroom tyrant. Instead, I met one of the sweetest people I had ever encountered in my life. She invited me into the chaos of the office, asked me questions about myself in a gentle, big sister kind of way and told me how much fun I could have if I joined her merry band of pranksters. I really could see the world, she said, if I joined The Press. Most of us were lost souls back then, looking for a home, a place to fit in and a way to figure out what to do with our lives. Melissa knew what she wanted to do. I think she always knew. She was light years ahead of us, yet she always made us feel that she was right by our side. She chose to the see the best in everyone and everything around her. Her smile, her laugh, her sense of humor, her brilliance buoyed us during the sleepless nights when we were on deadline and the sleepless nights during the raucous parties at the house we shared not far from campus.

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By Scott Higham
When I first met Melissa, I couldn’t really see her. She was sitting behind her desk in the basement of the Old Bio Building, the first ramshackle home of the fledgling Stony Brook Press. Squeezed between the piles of paper and boxes stacked around the office, I spotted a mop of curly hair, large glasses and not much else. It’s what I heard that really struck me—the sound of typewriter keys clicking furiously, banging out what must have been 150 words per minute. The thought of what must be behind those strokes was slightly intimidating for a first-timer who had never written a news story in his life. I had spotted one of those house ads in The Press that proclaimed, “Join The Press, See The World,” and decided to venture

")") "By Eric Brand
Melissa Spielman’s gone. It seems impossible. Having lost touch with her years ago, I cannot remember her as she must have been so recently – an accomplished scientist, a wife and mother, a sturdy householder reaching middleage. I was not aware of her illness or how she fought it or how she succumbed. I only remember my old friend from college, an impish, at times cutting, tough little cookie –constantly grinning out of embarrassment or amusement or both, pushing her oversize glasses up on her undersize nose, her ubiquitous leather jacket and unbreakable integrity making her appear far more formidable than her petite stature should have allowed. She stood up to the economy-sized egos of fellow Press co-founder Chris Fairhall and myself, often puncturing them, and yet just as often salving the wounds. She was a peacemaker, but never at all costs: if truth or integrity or honor was at stake, she’d go to the mat. Sometimes I’d bait her just to see what would happen. She was always game, and as I say, usually with a grin. But sometimes she’d tire of Fairhall’s and my antics and the grin would be gone and she’d get cross, and that’d stop us on a dime. The tough little cookie in the leather jacket

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was still the closest thing to a mother figure either of us had within 100 miles and we weren’t going to mess with that. She must have been something all grown up. Reading about her accomplishments makes me very proud – but sad that I didn’t know about them till now, never got to praise her, or appreciate what she’d done with her life, or have her show off her children to me, as I would happily my own to her. Perhaps her memory is best served by mentions of her in the Press manual, a sort of Bible and instruction manual for the paper. There, Melissa is described as “a little fireplug of energy, integrity, and blind loyalty.” She “assigned stories, edited, and wrote like a demon.” At a sitin that preceded the Press’s founding, Melissa, “all conviction and high-mindedness, worked with the protesters to turn their propagandistic tracts into English.” Whereas some saw the event as political theater or an opportunity for self-aggrandizement, she saw it as a place to get some serious work done. Melissa was always more mature than the rest of us. “Often, late on a production night, Fairhall could be seen complaining to a sympathetic and patient Spielman about the grief he put up with in the interests of the paper. At points such as this, Brand would blithely walk by, his arms outstretched, his eyes rolled toward heaven, in a symbol of martyrdom. It was all the little

News Editor could do to hold Fairhall back.” And her contributions to the paper were more than just editorial. “Thanks to the groundwork laid by Spielman weeks before (she lived in Kelly E with half the Council), they allocated $400 and no promises.” She had her whimsical side too. At a Statesman board meeting, she, along with the other co-founders of the Press, showed up in “leather jackets and mean looks.” And when they couldn’t come up with a name for the new paper, Melissa suggested “Fluffy.” Sometimes, the boys got out of hand, and when Fairhall and I led a “brief, covert war” on the Statesman editors (they would “return to their offices to find telephone wires missing or coffee cups filled with urine”), it was with Melissa’s “doubting but tacit approval.” She said, later on, that our strange, often outrageous, behavior was due to our being, for God’s sake, only 19 years old. “That period was terribly exciting, but I’m very embarrassed about it.” One last quote: “Finally, on Wednesday, October 24, 1979, Spiel-

man, Fairhall, and Brand, arms around each other, watched 5,000 copies of the Stony Brook Press roll off the huge printing press at the Three Village Herald. The thundering of the machine easily drowned out the pounding of their hearts, but nothing could hide their quavering, unceasing smiles.” The fact is, that’s how I remember Melissa: her quavering, unceasing smile. She was brave and she was tough and she was sweet and she was smart. And now she’s gone.

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In Memoriam

Vol. XXX, Issue 14 | Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Melissa Spielman- The English Years
By Richard Lawrence
After Stony Brook, Melissa sent letters to various publishers emphasising her prodigious typing speed and willingness to do anything to get into publishing. Oxford University Press in New York took her on and she quickly became assistant to the famed editor Sheldon Meyer (see the Guardian obituary). Once there she infiltrated various other friends from her high school and university days as well as family members for summer jobs. Gradually she became disillusioned with New York and began to wonder about other places to live. Spurred by a trip to Ireland she fell for Irish music and the countryside in a remote west coast town, and the tales told to her by an English editor from the Oxford office who was working in New York, she decided to attempt a transfer to the head office in Oxford. About this time I met her for the first time when I happened to be visiting the English editor in the New York office. On return to Oxford we corresponded via the inter-office mail (no e-mail then) and I did what I could to help explain work permits and so on. She seized a chance offered by a senior member of the Oxford-based management to outline her intentions. The man she chose to ask for a transfer was an enormously charismatic and unconventional person. After what she said was a 20-minute chat, he picked up the phone and told personnel in Oxford to hire her. Then followed about 12 months of to and fro with the immigration and other departments of Her Majesty’s government before she was granted a two-year permit and arrived in Oxford in the midst of a cold January in 1986. She was the first (and probably still the only) New Yorker to move to Oxford, many people have travelled in the other direction. I had arranged for her to rent a room with a Press colleague. The house had no central heating, only inefficient electric heaters and a bathroom split over

two floors only intermittently supplied with hot water. She managed with great aplomb and quickly secured the admiration of her new colleagues for her typing and good editorial eye combined with an irrepressible New Yorker’s way with words and opinions. I made it my business to do what I could to help her settle in and after many, many months it finally dawned on her that all my attentions were not without alterior motives. It may also have helped that my house had central heating and I am a tolerable cook. Anyway, we had many happy excursions on a tandem bicycle to local pubs and sights as well as other trips to walk in the mountains of the English Lake District and Scottish Hebridean islands.

We were married in New York in September 1987. This neatly obviated the need for her to extend her work permit. Children followed in December 1988 and August 1990. Melissa, before this, led a campaign by Oxford staff for better childcare provision, a campaign initially rejected by the management but subsequently adopted. The logic of the campaign requests was irrefutable and backed up by extensive survey work. Melissa became dissatisfied with publishing despite attaining a good position as an editor on the prestigious reference list of Oxford University Press. She decided that she wanted to pursue a latent interest in science that she had from high school days. Accord-

ingly, she arranged a transfer to the Science and Medical Department of OUP. Thinking she might attempt another degree somewhere in the UK she asked to talk to the wife of one of the editors who was a scientist at an Oxford College. After an hour or so of discussion, the scientist offered her a place as an undergraduate at her college. The informality of the admissions procedure considerably surprised Melissa as did the offer of a place. This being in early September, the place was scheduled for a year’s time. Then another student dropped out and Melissa was suddenly called up and became a student again. With small children she worked hard at all hours and after three years graduated with a biology degree.

The Stony Brook Press

In Memoriam

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SPIELMAN continued from previous page

She then secured a place to study for a doctorate (investigating aspects of seed development) and completed that in another three years, publishing her results in a highly ranked journal along the way. She then embarked on a career as a post-doctoral researcher. She very quickly worked out that this was the post where the real science got done. She also realised that by applying her good organizational and writing skills, she could become very useful in a lab without the disagreeable business of having to be the person in charge. Her research continued in the the area of seed development. As she explained with some clarity, seeds are what most humans eat most of the time and understanding how they work will help us to increase the supply. One of the research techniques she specialised in was the apparently oldfashioned skill of microscopy. With the revolution in genetics and understanding of biochemical processes, it has become more important to actually see what the effects of experiments are on seeds, not just analyze their genetics. After several years of research in Oxford we moved to Bath where she helped to boost the lab’s publication record with her research and writing skills. She was a perfect partner. We both enjoyed the company of anyone with an intelligent tale to tell and an ability to see through the superficial chaos of our house-

hold. We entertained many passing editors, academics, authors and family members. A typical event was when, on a whim, we hosted two of the OUP New York choir who were visiting Oxford. At the same time a couple of friends from China were passing through as were others distantly known to us. Without any sign of fuss, Melissa happily presided at an impromptu birthday party for one of the choir members while children clambered on the table and conversations in several languages went on. We forged many happy friendships during this period. Aside from a constant curiosity that fuelled her working life,

Melissa was always finding new ways to fill her leisure time. While still working in New York in her early twenties, she learned to play Irish fiddle very competently. She knitted, tried her hand at clothesmaking, learned new cooking styles, travelled to other European countries, took up rug weaving and cultivated a vegetable patch. Her last and most absorbing activity was art. She helped to found and run a local art group, becoming good with pastels. Just before she died she sold the reproduction rights of one of her paintings to greetings card company. Others she sold at open day exhibitions. This string of interests perhaps demonstrates best how she found

her way in life. She was unafraid to ask and try when something interested her. She then applied herself to the interest until she mastered it. Sometimes she was surprised by the answers she got (when she was offered a place at Oxford University or was offered a transfer to Oxford from New York), but she asked in a very intelligent and engaged way that people recognised was a mark of deep interest and potential. The malignant melanoma that killed Melissa was diagnosed in June last year. While seeking whatever medical treatment that might help her, she continued to work as best she could. A longtime interest in Buddhist teachings and her own rational approach made it difficult for others to accept that she was as ill as she in fact was. She remained calm and composed to the end. She died at the age of 47 very peacefully in a hospice near Bath on 23 February. I miss her terribly. This may be no more than a rather bald statement of her achievements that does not properly represent the intelligent, enthusiastic and irrepressible person that she was. She achieved a great deal professionally and personally with a combination of inquisitiveness and application that few show. It is difficult not to wonder what else she could have achieved if she had not died.

arts&entertainment
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By Doug Cion
If you have ears, you have heard the song “Love Story” at least 376 times over the past three months. Coming from a guy who spends a good amount of time in the SAC gym, nothing pumps me up more than hearing that song as I flex in the mirror for 78 minutes and stay on a bench press machine for an hour and only to do two sets of the heaviest weight I can so people will think I am awesome. Aside from this, all I can say is will someone hand this broad a copy of Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet? (Or for the case of this article, buy her a ticket to see the damn show on campus?) There was not one time that Romeo was throwin’ pebbles nor did he speak with Mr. Capulet about marrying Juliet. And what the hell does The Scarlet Letter have anything to do with… um, anything? Seriously Taylor, this is not a “Love Story,” this be a tragedy (just like your intelligence and your creativity). Now that we have that out of the way, let us review the actual performance. It had all the right things going for it to be a typical romantic comedy you see so much in Hollywood films. I

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Vol. XXX, Issue 14 |Friday, May 8, 2009

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functions, slap stick style acting and taking the actual Shakespearian dialogue and making certain characters speak it very sarcastically or exaggerated, it was a real downer when the show began its second act when everyone started dying and stuff. I have read the play several times in the past but this was the first time I had ever seen it performed live, save movie adaptations. It was not until after this show that I had a new appreciation for the language present in this piece. It is only through performance that the brilliance and beauty can be revealed and I was completely moved by the flow and inclusion of sonnets throughout the dialogue. I can truly see why this play rivals Hamlet as the most performed Shakespeare play, but I can also see why most people enjoy watching this play more. The actual performance itself will go down as the best Shakespeare play I have ever seen performed. I have seen quite a few plays, including “As You Like It,” at Stony Brook, but this one I will remember as the best by far. The talented players were just incredible. As I said before, Mercutio practically stole the show, so thankfully he gets killed early on so the audience can fall back into the main plot. I was also completely unaware of the humor that arises from other characters like the Nurse, who was played by Jennifer Crawford. The two lead roles (Rob Shilling as Romeo and Katie Burke as Juliet) were fantastic actors and connected even better with one another. When they first encounter each other during the play, there is a very clever use of extra dietetic: heavy breathing. The two see one another, all the characters around them freeze and they stare at each other as heavy breathing is the only thing you hear in the background. At the end of the play when both of their bodies lay next to one another, the same thing happens and it truly helps capture the emotion of the two moments. At the end of the performance, the audience gave the players a standing ovation as they came out for their curtain call, and I truly mean it when I say they deserved it. This was by far my favorite Shakespeare play I have ever seen.

was expecting Meg Ryan to walk out at any moment. The young man, Dan O’Reily, who played Mercutio truly took the off-the-wall character and ran with it. The first two acts of the play will be remembered for the laughter the audience was unable to contain, and not for the romantic chemistry between the two actors who played Romeo and Juliet. By adding in humor with bodily

SBU Favorites Reclaim Title
By Nick Statt
Mother F’Nature, last year’s winners of the ACH and SSO Councils’ Battle of the Bands, once again clutched victory on April 30th in the Tabler Arts Center’s Black Box Theatre. “Not to insult last year’s bands, but this year had a much higher caliber of competitors,” commented Douglass Residence Hall Director Katie Musar, the central organizer of both last and this year’s BOTBs. Of The Pillar took second place. The fiercer competition was matched by the shockingly high quality of the judging panel. Introduced in between sets with a list of their credentials were Jay Anderson, SBU’s Jazz Director and acclaimed trombone player, Jason Mastrogiovanni, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Colleges, James Faith, a local promoter and owner of James Faith Entertainment, and Mark “The Animal” Mendoza, bassist for the famous 80s hair metal band Twisted Sister. According to Anderson, a winner would be decided by adding up the scores of four categories, which ranged from 1 to 5. The categories were musicianship, originality, stage performance and overall entertainment. The event’s preliminary rounds took place weeks prior to the event. A panel comprised of organizers, adults and students alike decided upon five bands out of a total of 15 submissions. once more, the ACH and SSO Councils’ Battle of the Bands was a highly anticipated event on campus. Although the turn out was originally a modest 30 or so, the crowd grew enormously to an energetic and responsive 150. energy, despite the crowd’s disappointing lack of enthusiasm. Being a rock/hardcore-influenced six-piece out of the local Long Island scene, their dual male and female vocalist aspect brought a dynamic to the performance no others of the night could match. The second performance, East Coast Islands, was an interesting fusion of pop and reggae, emitting an almost Sublime-esque feel. They flaunted a defiant attitude with lines in between their songs pertaining to getting drunk after their set, but this came to a harsh close when they overstayed their welcome and had the lights and sound equipment turned off on them. Dig Wells, a popular SBU band with what seems like a revolving door of members, hit the stage fourth and immediately showed they were familiar with the Tabler music scene they’ve dominated over the past two semesters. With a strong feel for jazz rhythms and acoustic tones, Dig Wells were, based on the crowd’s reception, a welcoming contrast to their previous competitors. The judges, however, didn’t seem to think they were worthy of either of the top two prizes. Last to perform, and sadly to a smaller crowd reminiscent of Love, Robot’s lack of student support, were Of

The requirements for a submission were a solid mix tape of recorded work, a $10 entry fee and a roster consisting of at least two Stony Brook students. Having won last year’s Best Social Program award and up for nomination

Aside from Mother F’Nature, who went on third, the BOTB consisted of four other groups wielding a wide array of musical styles. Love, Robot, the first act of the night, picked up a surprising amount of

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“The Party”
The Premier Andrew Fraley Minister of Justice and Commandant of the Glorious Peopples NKVD Najib Aminy Secretary of Interior Natalie Crnosija Capitalist Pig-Dog Erin Jayne Mansfield Minister of Productivity Tia Mansouri Preachers of Proletariat Raina Bedford Ross Barkan Feats of Strength Cindy Liu The Opiate of the Masses Doug Cion Photoshopping Incriminating Evidnece Into Your Photos Eric DiGiovanni Liz Kaufman Propaganda Monitors Jason Wirchin Kelly Yu Katie Knowlton Webmeister Roman Sheydvasser Audiomeister Josh Ginsberg Ombudsman James Laudano

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Light Up You Fools
It’s time America gets high and breaks itself from the chains of corporate monopoly and capitalistic greed. Just as the misguided left has bastardized the word “socialist,” there is an everlasting mudslinging campaign against those who smoke marijuana. Fact: marijuana is beneficial for the working class. It not only relieves one of stress and puts one in a relaxed state but it poses little to no threat to one’s health to compared with alcohol or cigarettes. As the price of cigarettes increases, more Americans grow unwilling to buy these death sticks and the nation loses out on these taxes. Whereas if marijuana were taxed, the nation would build an economic surplus and could shift efforts to advanced industrialization and strengthen the power of the working class. Local and governmental agencies would be freed up from dealing with unimportant “drug” dealers and could shift on bigger threats to the nation’s security. Additionally, the legalization of marijuana would ease problems in our nation’s borders. Drug smugglers wouldn’t have any drugs to smuggle if growing pot in America were legal. Thus, the problem of dealing with Mexican cartels becomes Mexico’s problem, and the working class can relax and focus on work. The state as a whole would benefit greatly from marijuana. Americans would be high on life, music would sound better and there would be an increased appetite for food. This all results in increased commerce, supporting failing record companies or local restaurants. The visual experience from television to movies would be exponentially enhanced increasing the general quality of life for Americans. No longer should companies like Marlboro and Philip Morris overrun and corrupt our youth, hurt our working class and tar our nation. It is time to light in solidarity and fight for the proletariat. Let the money stacks of the conservative elite blaze in our glorious green revolution. Recreational drugs are fun and a working class that has fun is more productive than a working class that is dying.

Commondante of Archives Alex Nagler Layout Design by Jowy Romano

Proletariat UNITE!
Kotei Aoki Vincent Barone Matt Braunstein Tony Cai J.C. Chan Whiskers T. Clown Laura Cooper Caroline D’Agati Krystal DeJesus Joe Donato Brett Donnelly Nick Eaton Michael Felder Caitlin Ferrell Vincent Michael Festa Joe Filippazzo Ilyssa Fuchs Rob Gilheany David Knockout Ginn Joanna Goodman Jennifer Hand Stephanie Hayes Andrew Jacob Liz Kaempf Elizabeth Kaplan Jack Katsman Yong Kim Rebecca Kleinhaut Iris Lin Frank Loiaccono Kenny Mahoney Justin Meltzer James Messina Steve McLinden Samantha Monteleone Roberto Moya Frank Myles Amyl Nitrate Chris Oliveri Ben van Overmeier Laura Paesano Grace Pak Rob Pearsall Jon Pu Aamer Qureshi Kristine Renigen Dave Robin Jessica Rybak Joe Safdia Natalie Schultz Jonathan Singer Nick Statt Rose Slupski John Tucker Lena Tumasyan Marcel Votlucka Alex Walsh Brian Wasser Matt Willemain Jie Jenny Zou

is published whenever we fucking feel like it during the academic year and twice fortnightly during the academic year and twice during summer session by , a student run non-profit organization funded by the Student Activity Fee. The opinions expressed in letters, articles and viewpoints do not necessarily reflect those of as a whole. Advertising policy does not necessarily reflect editorial policy. For more information on advertising and deadlines call (631)632-6451. Staff meetings are held Wednesdays at 1:00 pm. First copy free. Additional copies cost fifty cents. Suites 060 & 061 Student Union SUNY at Stony Brook Stony Brook, NY 11794-3200 (631) 632-6451 Voice (631) 632-4137 Fax Email: sbpressnews@gmail.com

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Dear Comrade, I have dissapointed my country, family, compatriots and myself. I have been having doubts as to what it would be like living as a capitalist pig. I have had countless dreams of mistreating those beneath me in class, earning a large sum of wealth, much greater than my co-workers and looking to start my own private business to make prosper from. I wake up confused not knowing what to do. I fear I am betraying my fellow countrymen and don’t know what to do. With great hope in power to proletariat, Mikhail Vishkolev, Прямой эфир

Dear troubled one, The problem that you face is important and must be handled immediately. The trail of capitalism is a dangerous path to follow and may very easily suck the goodness of your soul. It seems that you are too easily fooled by this perception of being superior to your fellow associates. You must realize state is supreme and that is in classlessness in which all will succeed. To realize this you must educate self and stray away from exterior nonsense. Re-educate self with numerous sacred texts or state media and proceed with working diligently and ask no questions. To be stronger then the sheep of west, look inward for true social root and exhibit outward in action. Country first, The Comrade

Dear Comrade, I have injured back in labor incident and will be in bed for weeks. I cannot imagine how state will make benefit if I rest in bed. I am eager to sowing seed of hard and unquestioned labor to reap universal benefit for state and citizens. What advice can be given? Power to the social, Oleg Federov, Нью-Йорк

Dear soldier, Utilize medical facility to make process go faster. State is prepared for any and whatever problem to be presented at it. Do not question or doubt this security but work to make sure you do not find what the consequences is be. Though work is top priority, impatience is sign of dirty money pig. Please, do not be pig. Country first, The Comrade

Request an ad packet: sbpressnews@gmail.com

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Meet the Stony Brook Patriot
By Peter Lambro
In the most recent issue of the Stony Brook Patriot, dated April 2008, I was subjected to some of the most hard-hitting and shockingly accurate periodical journalism that has ever been crafted. Unfortunately, the extreme ideological bias of certain “writers” tainted the Patriot’s glory filled pages with dirty, disgusting smut. After reading the articles about feminism and the timely review of The Watchmen, the choir of angels that most assuredly descended upon him to offer praise must have blinded the “editor”, unfortunately this led to certain discrepancies slipping by. The first of these travesties came in the form of a comment made by one Geordan Kushner. In his article “’Idiocracy’ Is Upon Us” he brazenly declares that the 2006 comedy by Mike Judge, Idiocracy, was a “hit comedy”. This is a gross misuse of the term “hit comedy” as well as a slanderous attempt to deface true comedic genius. By putting Idiocracy on the same level as true comedic hits such as Animal House or Beverly Hills Cop, the highest grossing comedy of all time, Kushner has tainted the laughs we all once shared. Eddie Murphy would be rolling over in his grave assuming that he was both dead and aware of the Patriot’s existence. At the time of this writing, he is in fact not dead, and I’m fairly confident he has no interest in Stony Brook student publications of any sort. To have such a box office flop serve as the basis for a metaphor is simply irresponsible. Perhaps Mike Judge’s more popular works, such as Office Space or Beavis and Butthead would have been a more fitting choice. This affront to history and comedy in general filled me with a white-hot rage that would not be easily quelled. After a brief 14 hour meditation, I was able to push the rage to the back of my mind and continue reading the once infallible paper, secure in the knowledge that this slip would be the only one and would soon be retracted. Seeking comfort, I turned to the commentary section. I thought, “Surely this piece will bring me the keen insight for which I regularly turn to the Patriot”. I was gravely mistaken. Upon reading the article title, “Politicians Are Liars And President Obama Takes The Cake” I realized that the Idiocracy incident was not an isolated one. Acknowledging “President” Obama’s propensity to steal cake, as well as candy and elections, I felt the article title made light of his other transgressions. Since taking office, President “Obama” has done much worse than commit minor cake larceny. His release of Bush-era memos regarding torture, and his reassurance that the United States military does not engage in such acts was simply irresponsible. How are we supposed to gain valuable knowledge if we don’t water board a few hundred enemy soldiers? In addition to the many information gathering applications, acts of torture have proven to be quite enjoyable. For the soldiers stuck out in the hot desert for days, even weeks, the lack of entertainment can be crushing to troop morale. By allowing the soldiers to participate in the daily flogging of captured enemies, we can reduce the number of soldiers needed to continue the war in Iraq. As we all know, troops with high morale react faster, smell better and jump higher. With the reduced need for troops in Iraq we could spread our military efforts around the world, where they are sorely needed. President Obama is preventing us from showing the world that people who look different should be treated differently, and, more importantly, they should be invaded. By putting the mildest of President Obama’s wrongdoings in the large print of a headline, the article’s author is foregoing an opportunity to show the readers the truth about the Obama Administration. President Obama has declared that he is taking the steps necessary to shut down the infamous Guantanamo Bay prison camp and stop suspending habeas corpus. This would cripple one of the mightiest symbols of American freedom, a military base designed to break the minds of the prisoners held there and deny them the most basic human rights. Does our constitution not read that this country was founded by the people, for the people and with the intent to force our beliefs on others? If torture and hypocrisy are wrong, I don’t want to be right. Allowing for the possibility that the author of April 2008’s commentary was simply one of the uninformed Obama supporters that have been

funny, byt not a hit movie

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PATRIOT continued from page 4

prone to infiltrate college campuses around the country, I continued my perusal of the Patriot. Encountering what appears to be the first of a series, I began reading the article entitled “Thank God I Don’t Live In: Mexico”. Oftentimes I find myself weeping with joy over my love of America, sharing my tissues with fellow patriot Glenn Beck, and wondering what it must be like for the people living in other countries who have to look in at our great nation. This series looked to be the

answer to the questions I have been asking myself for so very long. But why Mexico? I’m aware that the WUSB radio program “College Primetime Radio” in their segment entitled “Worst Week Ever” as having a particularly bad week recently acknowledged Mexico, but otherwise Mexico seems to be a fine country. Mexican scientists have recently perfected a new strain of the flu, ensuring that medical experts will not get too comfortable and will have new challenges facing

them. Without Mexico’s contributions to the world, no living doctor will have had the opportunity to say he or she saved the world from a pandemic. The article also addresses the ongoing drug war in which Mexico is playing a key role. This war is aimed at helping college students specifically, as it keeps the drug dealers away from spring break hot spots such as Cancun and Acapulco. Last spring break I went to Cancun and I encountered more sweater meat than I could possibly dream to manhandle. And then I manhandled them, all of them. Thank you Mexico, thank you for the boobs you have afforded me and the swine flu you have forced upon us all. Lastly, I must apologize. I must apologize to the readers of the Patriot who were bamboozled by these horrid misjudgments. To think that there are readers who think that Idiocracy grossed enough money to warrant even an average run in theaters, I’m sorry. To those who remain blissfully unaware of President Obama’s attempts to turn our country into a pack of sissies, I’m sorry. And I’m sorry to the readers who will never know the joy of the Mexican high holidays: Margarita Monday, Tequila Tuesday, Wacky Wednesday and Cinco de Mayo.

6

Heroes

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#

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Contributors

Laura Bang Doris Chen Dan Simms Raina Bedford Cindy Liu Alana Schwartz John Rapkiewicz Emma Kobolakis Various Denizens of Facebook Daniel Lukasczyk Eugene Duvidzon Ross Barkan Rachel Futtersak Andy Polhamus Nima Binayifaal Sid Bengeloun Liz Kaempf Josh Ginsberg Eric DiGiovanni Paul Calhoun Jason Wirchin Margaret Mars

editor’s note

Purveyor of chaos, consumer of stars, and fan of Twin Peaks, the Stony Brook Press Literary Supplement is notorious across the galaxy. Its wrath and terrifying beauty know no bounds and strike fear into the hearts of even the most fearless of men (while gently flicking the ear lobes of others). I mean, come on. It’s 56 pages long. That number is divisible by 8, so you know it has to be a big deal. That said, go forth, dear reader, and consume its mystical, creative essence. This semester we were floored by a tremendous amount of poetry, short stories, artwork, photo manipulations, and essays, so you are bound to find something you like. If not, it is hefty enough to roll into a tube and use to pummel your enemies. Now that’s what I like to call a win-win situation.

-Tia Mansouri

4

The un-named brush, almost dead I see thy frame standing there withering, bare bark, browned brambles Hovers, thy scent, clutching the air that reach up with pearly blossoms Took my heart, the brute, the big bear perched daintily like remnants of That smile, the talking teeth, I swear a silent snowfall Call to me, wrenched by the hair cold packed dirt baking I dream to dream of an affair in the sun, my still shadow Speak my love or silence? Dare to dare? imparting death on the budding grass, That pulsing red apple. Alas, I’m not its heir unknowing of the thousand-year-old My eyes burn into your back, the stare soul watching them stirring in the quiet Turn around, look at me standing here breeze. Please whisper that you love me clear. I think I just killed a man Not breathing no words no sound Hollow echo of the rusty milk can This is my hunting ground. Not breathing no words no sound Artemis slays the dead star of Orion This is my hunting ground Hungry deer stalks the lion Artemis slays the dead star of Orion Crimson rapids rush and carry our bones Hungry deer stalks the lion The man of nothing but water and stones Crimson rapids rush and carry our bones I close the seeing-orbs of black Demand nothing but water and stones The man in white, leader of the wolf pack I close the seeing-orbs of black Awfully frosty, but I don’t run The man in white, leader of the wolf pack Break the heart bricks, have your fun. Awfully frosty, but I don’t run Your pores spit poison, cracked lips Break the heart bricks, have your fun. Verbs, nouns, adverbs , my lunar eclipse Your pores spit poison, cracked lips The paper monsters of your heart Verbs, nouns, adverbs, my lunar eclipse Are no matches against distance, my art The paper monsters of your heart Worthless fiends that shrivel up and wrinkle Are no matches against distance, my art Rushing rapids let loose a sprinkle Worthless fiends that shrivel up and wrinkle Your words drown, my heart too Rushing rapids let loose a sprinkle My mind has erased you Your words drown, my heart too Hollow echo of the rusty milk can My mind has erased you I think I just killed a man

“Cherchez la Femme” by Eugene Duvidzon

5

The second hand ticks simultaneously. Once it passes six, it seems to have slow down. In that mere 30 seconds, I close my eyes And recap what a wonderful year 18 has been. New faces are now familiar. Test tubes shatter on Mondays. Tuesday nights are dedicated to lucid quizzes. Wednesday means campus lifetime. K.C.F. meets every Thursday in the Union. Pasta Friday with Alfredo sauce. Follow by forty-eight hours of hardcore daydreaming, Then the weekly cycle starts all over again. “Five, four, three, two, one!” They chant. Synchronize at one, my eyes open wide. One blow and all nineteen flames go out. I cannot wait for April 27 to roll around again. Just three hundred sixty-five days more.

Is it just me or are we drifting apart? As the hands run around the clocks We sprint towards the edge of eternity Try to blink away the purple spots Afterimage of Sex gleaming on the horizon So tempting to turn from the light you see in me Try how you may to convince yourself That I am what you need Take a slow deep breath of regret Polish it up with the thoughts you fight Hands folded over your chest Sleep in the room we painted white I am what you need and you know it Don’t give it up And for tonight The moon will lie on both our faces Take our dreams to new found places Through the window into the wind blown weeds I think we need to talk.

social unrest epidemic upheaval insurgency’s lucky day insurrections lullaby and Lucifer’s pastime won’t you come out to play? protests and progress stunted by darkness held in by the wild cats cry while thousands of children are fitted in uniforms sent to the deserts to die. peasents scream and are slaughtered in streets genocide with the passing of time we can see but we can’t lead and we won’t even try. what we have here is a downwards spiral straight into Lucifer’s arms not one word of protest just stark selfish silence when we should have been ringing alarms.

Soft spoken, mute lips tear hinges sewn tight, and whisper transparent breaths that rise, shiver, and die as our ghosts twirl up over black heads. See how the red, red heart beats against its cage, wistfully waiting for the cadence of language to free it from its silent captor; the dark glob of tar that slowly seeps into dry cracks, crevices, and pores till it cakes like dried mud, locking in the fetid, blood-moist, bone-heavy air. I breathe dirt and water, I speak with blue ink. I close my clamshell and reach with tendrils; extend myself with probing buds to warmth, wince when tender flesh touches the biting cold, and retreat, retract, retrace to where I sit embracing the murderous lull. My mouth splits in two, my head rushes in the rapid torrents of words, words, words, damn words that bash and crash angrily against its confines as black tar seeps in. Fight, shred, break, to whisper transparent breaths that only ghosts listen to, while the red, red heart declines, choking on the ines-capable loneliness nesting in me.

6

All the worldly boys and girls— they’ve got places to go and important people to see to discuss their secular issues over wine and cheese and they wanna make sense (of the world) and they wanna create art, but from the rest of the idiots they can’t tell themselves apart. And they know this in their hearts. All the worldly boys and girls they say they don’t feel so much but you rhetorically bombard them and they get butterflies in their crotch “I adore William Shakespeare, he’s the world’s greatest Bard. Oh, you like him too? I wanna fuck you so hard.” And they get drunk in the backyard. All the wordly boys and girls Speak Freud and Bach and Proust They say, Care about this Issue! But it’s all an ego boost. Then it’s self-referential and it hardly makes sense (They’ll tell you) “What do you mean you don’t get it? Geez, are you dense?” It’ll drive you berserk, This contrived ornate circle jerk. All the worldly boys and girls Will never admit That most of their learning is a pile of shit. In school to be artists In school to be great, Then confined to Brooklyn, or an office— that is their fate. And thinking they’re really first-rate.

there’s a tiny musicbox, ‘cause you’re around, that’s unwinding while the t.v. blares blue and the radio roars static and the computer lures you in and everybody’s shouting at everybody what their truths are. but when I open my mouth to speak, what comes out is not some refined rhetoric, or perfectly timed humor, or a humbling truth, but a-tink, a-tink, a-tink-tink... ...and the musicbox, I tell it to stop being so sweet and sad all the time as I turn red in the face, as they shift around in their seats, clearing throats, and the air’s a little thicker now, all ‘cause of that little unwinding in my throat. there’s a tiny stubborn musicbox that’s infinitely wound up with its slow revolutions against steel pins: few hear it over spent guns and exalted passion and that new brand of ironic laughter that people love so much these days. it plays at its own moderato espressivo, perpetually waiting for the world to go hush hush— beautiful, in the not-so-immediate kind of way. and the musicbox, I tell it to stop playing that irritating, quaint little tune ‘cause they’re just not buyin it, that little tinkering in my throat. and after I shut my mouth for the day, upon reaching my quota of embarrassingly pretty metallic noises, that innocent little musicbox, confused, asks me, tink tink? but can’t you see, little guy, I huff ‘n puff, frustrated, that we don’t have it in us to fight the noise and so all that’s left is—

7

Finals Week Let the blood pour-bath-drip Death thickens the air of that Stone – chilled city we Don’t cry, our warrior mouths Stone-chilled until ivory towers Curdle our lifebeats And blackened pages Arise in our fame-flame. Pride is no longer a question here. We replace body for body, Heartstone to heartstone, Calm and quickened horses Burst and spear-pen and sled-foot and bone Our eyes burned with the weary-tired of study We begin the slaughter Of FINALS WEEK English Class Lament Sunlight speaks of hope. Streams controlled lines empty empty empty sweat reading sunlight tickles and spins eyes to look squintily at its smile controls suggestively the redness blooming on skins and redness on the opposite eyelids Shining through even if your eyes are shut. Save me, Sunlight, eat the meat of memory once burned into the world

now seeping, smoking, drifting into the sky Sunlight re-writes poetry, joins hands on trees on sweaty chicken wraps and tank tops whiteness has never felt so cool I miss the glint the sunlight once whispering burning people’s eyes until, Snowblind, It highlighted hot breath on gloved hands Reading Shadows what are u doing? he asks in a buzz and I type discreetly for fear my roommate will awake, Reading shadows. shadows r rarely happy, I tell him, because they r forced into definite lines u kno shadows r becoming something, I tell him, when their lines begin to blur too oftenbut if I was forced to stay 1 color 1 shape all my life, wouldn’t u b sad, 2? Aren’t we? he buzzed back, after 4.5 minutes Don’t we stay the same color Forever? shadows of ourselves, I muse. We must change. Our faces are not blank Untouchable, Skewed awkwardly and inadvertently As they rise onto corners Shadows stretch full move and triple all at once Look how hard it is for us to stay in one place My phone buzzed a reply back but I was off Reading shadows.

Cracked hands scatter pebbles as they plant stems of forget-me-nots beside tombstones that mark each death, small graves adorned with plain gems for each lost past. Hands scrub each stone, pat flat stray dirt rising from closed chapters with them. Every evening the maid strolled in and sat amongst dying blossoms, unearthed dry bones that she held to her breast as trees stifled moans.

“Unique Purity” by Eugene Duvidzon

8

A Fragmented Mind Deep Within a Cave with Various Furry Creatures A Fleeting Leaky Feed In Need for a deed Looking, taking glimpse Overrun dung Fun, Fun, Fun Five Flipping Chimps, Dipping Drooling fooling Big Berry eating Bear. Indeed after shrooms Take a lead around the bend On the green weed. Take a pass fast, To the furry fuzzy Fox With a jock strap on tight right With bright light diamonds And rose smelling almonds Cover in chocolate and late Spoiled milk. Little rabbit takes a hit Goes into a fit rolling in a pit Warm him up Blankets of silk. Sloth eating moth wrapped in fine cloth. Go on hills with pills Take no ills Only fills, thrills Bogus chills Breathe air, no care Nothing here Was really there. Forgiveness From the ashes of my broken home, I arose, and woke up all alone. In the darkness I stayed, While everyone else saw me fade. Father, father Where did you go? The pain was so very slow. Can you fix the things that are broken, Can you give back the things that were stolen. From the pipes with residue, The devil took you and you never knew. Up, Up You went away, Like the heroin did that day. It seems like I’m dying, When I’m always crying, It seems like sickness, So where is my forgiveness?

Pay Your Respects Who are you people? That’s my daddy in that box. That’s my daddy I’m his son Leave him alone back away from his box. That’s my daddy. I’m his only son He’s in his box I’m out here I’m wish this hole would just disappear The Assembly Line On the conveyer belt, See the smoke from the stakes. All in single files, We all march in line. Our school caps on, We all play along, They point their fingers, We dig right in the books. Raise the stakes Make a hole in our wallets, Holes in our souls, Down the line. Both in feet in the ground, One more book weighs us down, No room for me!!! No creativity!!! Sores in my throat Waiting on the line, The fat man on my chest, Got only little time. Slave to the product!!! Dull like a stump!!! Get ready to jump!!! Shuffling our feet in the line, Teachers with hard hats on. Drill the work into our head, ship us out the door. Ages are passing us by, With all the pages in your eyes, Going down the line, With a tower of books, There goes our minds on the factory hooks Please everyone stay on the line

The Greenhouse Short lived April Volume of Valium. Heroin lingering in every vein. everyone looking for you Shotgun under chin stopped the pain. Millions of hands reached for you Empathy made you stoned. Burned out and faded away. Out of sight and beyond our ears. Again we past another day. Found in the Greenhouse Daughter shut out from a father. Wife torn from her soul easy to pull the trigger and bury yourself in a hole. Lifeless hands blood runs downs your neck Never again will you touch a guitar or a warm face Turned away as if we asked too much Our beloved icon embraced in countless hearts We know you as Kurt “an experienced simpleton” Place you down under the dirt.

Ivory Hills Medicated moment, no one knows. The sound of death is silent. All is calm, all is wrong too much of anything is bad A cup of water, a line of pills sleep forever in the Ivory Hills

9

zut alors pink mother color-hate swath of wrath the french connection. raw flesh raw stress nerve damage body electric rage apoplectic purple veins purple pains purple pills purple kills. if i had a band we’d be Lizzie and the Bordens hey hey lizzie hand me that ax you and i, baby we’ll take a few good whacks lizzie lizzie please don’t make me beg let’s have a good time make the walls run red

oh, television oh, television how i love to watch your bulky body spew forth inane sound bites epileptic spurts of ‘entertainment’ dear television please take this as a token of my appreciation the standardization of something sub-standard my only television let’s sit outside together. lullaby hush little dumbass don’t you talk mama knows better mama can walk mama you are supposed to teach me to be better. you are supposed to guide my hands. you are supposed to hold my head steady you are supposed to pick my pants. i was supposed to learn. i was supposed to listen. i was not supposed to let you burn down in the kitchen.

no hope in the sky drips down at our feet no smiles or kindness from strangers we meet a once steadfast philosophy now hangs in defeat still showing no signs of retreat. myriad millions waiting in lines for hand outs, for money, for patience, for time, for dignity lost, for an inkling of pride, for shadows of hope washed away with the tide. the fault of the few never speaking the truth, hoping forever to bask in their youth lavish, luxurious,

sultry, uncouth wash back their sins in vermouth. while myriad millions eat cold Campbell soup sweat till they bleed, bleed till they droop, part of the cycle, the once endless loop, shooting but never quite reaching the hoop. watch them fall, one by one not to disease or the barrel of a gun but to a gambling scheme, to a war not won, to a philosophy, to a trust fund.

10

Alex Nagler: Oh Stony Brook Press We must always write haikus mainly to fill space David K. Ginn: Alex, you bastard Haikus are lame and for girls You know that by now What’s better, you ask? How about limericks, duh Didn’t of think of that? Alex Walsh: Limericks, my friend, may be where it’s at. But still, no harm in haiku. Give it a try, Ginn Open up your god damn mind Let the ‘ku love flow. Erin BearWrestler Mansfield: The beach was a blast. I can’t finish my Gasm. Class: overrated. Alex Nagler: Ha! Told you, Erin The gasm conquers us all Fucking big sandwich David Knockout Ginn Start your own goddamn note, bitch This is for haikus Erin BearWrestler Mansfield: This is so not cool. What won’t I finish next time? I’m Joey from Friends. I want a Haiku where every damn word is a curse. I’ll fucking try it.

Sam Goldman: Look who is watching! It’s the money you could be saving with GEICO! Gabrielle Tobin: Sixth circle of hell A toothache and no whiskey Please Advil kick in Alex Nagler: Gabrielle Tobin? What’s she doing in this thread? No grownups allowed! David K. Ginn: FUCK YOU, FEDEROV FUCK YOUR MOTHER, MAN. I DID SHE WAS FUCKING LAME Sam Goldman: Sergei Fedorov scored I’ll play NHL 98 And MAKE YOUR ASS BLEED Pete Lambro: Teddy Roosevelt, What a gigantic douchebag. Seriously. Joe Safdia: What is a haiku? This seems very confusing I give up on this Marcel Votluca: Mugu-mu-mugu? Kupo-kupo-kupo-po! Kweh...Aaaccckkkk! (Omnislash) Pete Lambro: Masturbation toys: Frightening or necessary? Only Nagler knows.

Alex Nagler: Mister Pete Lambro Thinks he’s clever with sex toys Wants his but plug back Alex Walsh: Lambro wants his plug? Most curious to me, sir, Is why you have it. Pete Lambro: Please clean that thing off. I don’t know where it has been. In few butts, I hope. Roman Sheydvasser: Alex H Nagler How dare you forget me sir? I slap you with glove Erin BearWrestler Mansfield: Lambro, don’t know you. Try again. “Seriously”: Just four syllables. Pete Lambro: Red, you do know me! My failure shames me, deeply. Like, seriously. Erin BearWrestler Mansfield: Ah, yes, I know you. He who sits on the Press couch and submits nothing. Tia has Swine cure: a dungeon in the office. Already happened. Joe Safdia: The deadly swine flu Came from the Stony Brook Press Please clean the office

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Tia Mansouri: Spread hither, O swine flu I am loathe to take exams (Don’t know which is worse) David K. Ginn: “‘Globalization: New Worlds and Expanding Growth’ By David K. Ginn You have globalized... Read More Douchebaggery, to the max Now leave me alone.” Oh, wait, one more thing Make sure you change the byline Prof might see your ruse James Laudano: Fuck you, I haven’t Got the time for this shit now Maybe later. Ugh Matt Willemain: Oh, haikus are here Your little poems are so quaint No sonnets in you? You see what I did? I kicked this shit up a notch It’s evolve or die! The pentameter Get your five feet in a row And your ducks, as well Honduran toil sewed sweatshirts with the name Of Harvard, Boston College, Cal State, Clark. The owners promised unions; all the same The shops were closed, the workers’ names were marked. Clean drinking water, and a moment’s peace From verbal onslaughts, and a decent wage— With campus market power as the grease, Some modest gains had seemed upon the stage. What little progress of which we can

sing Sprang forth from plans adopted at each school, But as each summer swung around to spring Most SUNY schools, in silence, played the fool. The more’s the pity then, that only laws Can, to the SUNY system, bring the cause. David K. Ginn: There are others with rhymable names And it’s me I hope everyone blames For dropping the ball And excluding them all How could I forget about Will James? Nothing good rhymes with “The Fraleys” Except for maybe “Israelis” Just as Elmo replaced Grover The name game is over So let’s crack open a Bailey’s Wolfie the Magical Seawolf If you were a rapper you’d be called CWolf But rapping makes money And that shit ain’t so funny Cuz the best wolves in life are the free wolves So I decided to leave Minnesota And it was hard to tell my friend Ray Liota To try not to cry This wasn’t goodbye He could visit me in South Dakota Erin BearWrestler Mansfield: David Ginn seems to think he’s so smart. But limerick writing’s an art. In his posts every time he can’t make things rhyme. Rhyming “wolf” with “wolf” was the start. David K. Ginn: Erin thinks she’s fantastic But she didn’t grow up in Mastic I rhymed to survive

And keep my family alive So don’t start calling me spastic It’s 1885 And the Doc is still alive! Get him away from the ladies And back to the 1980s Before Buford and his thugs arrive Erin BearWrestler Mansfield: This post is really quite lame. All the posts sound exactly the same. It’s just David and I writing until we both die From limericks. Wow, what a shame. Matt Willemain: There’s a man goin’ round takin’ names He decides who to toss to the flames Of a really bad chat An internet spat Your limericks fight - it is lamez There’s room in old County Cork For but one; brandish a fork! We’ll recruit as a ref That old Swedish Chef Bork bork bork bork bork bork bork bork bork Pete Lambro: There’s a chance the Chef says “Bjork” Like he’s some Icelandic music dork. Her name has an umlaut, What’s that about? Who cares, shes still fit to pork. David K. Ginn: Pete, if you want to pork Bjork, that’s fine Just make sure your sore is benign If there’s even the slightest way You’ll give her your Hepatitis A I guess better yours than mine The Easter Bunny’s a gangsta The world’s most famous pranksta Now I’m not in the habit Of fighting a rabbit But I’ll cut him with my prison shanksta Kevin Bacon was in Apollo 13 With Tom Hanks from The Mile That’s

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Green Which had Doug Hutchinson from Lost Which has Matthew Fox, for twice the cost Than his role on Party of Five with Neve Campbell, who was in Wild Things with Kevin Bac-een Pete Lambro: Bacon is always within six degrees With quite the career if you please But then he made tremors Which I watched with some hemmers When we got together for wine and cheese Matt Willemain: Bacon’s not just a profligate dude Let’s not forget bacon the food Priorities first It’s for pigflesh we thirst No matter what Kevin finds rude

Pete Lambro: You’re right, bacon is best Simply put, better than the rest It won’t give you swine flu No, that just wouldn’t do But the news has us all stressed! Matt Willemain: There once was a law dubbed Smoot Hawley Some said ushered in, on a trolley, The depression and more... Read More Smoot blamed the Great War The reader can judge blame and folly

“Intravenous Feeding of Sound” by Eugene Duvidzon

can still remember the way that she looked before those final moments. Those wide staring green eyes looked out the window with the supreme feeling of utmost pity. Her hand was cold and stiff as she gripped mine with the talons of an aged falcon. She had passed her final years a long time ago, but never let go of the insignificant spark that kept her empty heart pumping small amounts of red dust through her body. I could hear her lungs pumping every time she inhaled, and a chill ran down my spine that told me there was something else in the room each time. A piece of her hair fell onto my face and she lightly brushed it away with those things that she called her fingers. “I had to trade so much,” she said. I didn’t know what she meant, but I wasn’t going to ask her. I couldn’t have even if I wanted to. “Sometimes I wished that things could’ve been different, and that you could’ve been here with me,” she continued to say. After that she fell silent again, and her almond shaped eyes stared out the window on to the front lawn. Her eyes moved from the right to the left over and over again. I tried to turn my head to see what it was that she was watching, but I had no chance of that. I wanted to reach my hand up and put it on her chest to feel her heart beat the way that it did. I wanted to sit up and embrace her. It seemed there was so much that I wanted to do for her at that moment, but there were no possibilities. She was so frail and weak. I never remembered her being that way. She was always the strong one. Those fists of iron had done many things, and worked many trades, but they were reduced to nothing. “I’ve been thinking about Hell,” she revealed. “Do you think it’s really as bad as they say it is?” I moved my mouth to say no, but I had no luck in the endeavor. “It can’t be that bad,” she continued. Her eyes became dilated and frozen. “I wouldn’t be scared to go to hell.” I looked at her with a confused expression, but she didn’t look at my face. “Maybe…” she began to say before her voice faded again. I tried to reach up again to touch her, trying to get her to keep talking. I would have done anything possible to hear her voice continue in one glorious, uninterrupted cycle. She put her hand on my chest and moved it back and forth. “The sky is growing painful,” she said. “It might fall soon.”

I

13

She

closed her eyes for the first time in a long while and a stream of tears began to move down her cheeks. I wanted to scream. “I’m sorry I couldn’t do more,” she said. “I wanted to do more, but I couldn’t. I’ve walked through years terrified. We’ve walked on the same ground for so long. After it all the fear took me. I’ve traded so much for you, and none of it was worth it. I wanted to make it worth it, but I was too scared. I was scared of the change. Maybe I would understand this world better if I was something else, and could see like something else. Like grass or… something. Maybe then I’d be able to tell things apart.” I just laid there staring at her. I felt as if I was regaining movement when she opened her eyes again and said those final words. “I just wish you were here.”

“Time Ticks Out of Existence; Butterflies Form from Persistence” by Eugene Duvidzon

14

“My nerves are bad tonight. Yes, bad. Stay with me. Speak to me. Why do you never speak? Speak. What are you thinking of? What thinking? What? I never know what you are thinking. Think.”

t was a cold night; not cold like the winter, but everything was frozen in place, or at least I was. I was on my way home when it all happened. I had received a call from her brother telling me about it. I listened to the words carefully, never believing a single one of them. He kept repeating the same thing, and I kept laughing under my breath. There was no way to believe it. Everything was a joke. I remember him asking me if I believed him. All that I could do was tell him the truth, so that was exactly what I told him, no. I sat in a seat in the center of an empty train car playing with my hat in one hand and holding my phone in the other hand. He kept talking about it, and all I could think of was the horrible scent of urine in the train. He was telling me something about police until my mind muted him for a second time. I put my hat back on my head and looked up at the window to see if it was straight in the reflection. I was waiting for him to just give it all up and admit to the joke, but that time never came. Slowly the train strode into the depths of the suburb of Labyros. When I got off at my stop on Main Street I walked into the constricting maze of weeping trees and desolate streets listening to my heels click against the cracking concrete. It was cold outside, as it normally was. With each step I took I could feel my heart drop a little further into my soul, and my soul slowly devouring everything inside my heart. I kept telling myself the same thing, and each time I believed it less. The night air was solid and hard to walk through. It was like walking through water; I just wanted to dive in. I turned the block and saw the night collapse onto the earth and the stars shatter. The moon pushed through the wild trees of the reemerging swamp and had cracked on her roof, but the clouds remained perfectly intact. The water I had been walking through turned to blood and I wanted the quickest way out. I could see the police lights spinning around outside the house. There were tears coming from outside the police drawn line that flowed down the street. I began to run toward the cars and over to her brother. Almost everyone I knew was outside of the house, some of them crying, some of them lifeless, and the rest were frozen with the orange burn of cigarettes lighting up the apathy on their faces. Her brother looked at me and shook his head. For some reason I still couldn’t believe him. The front door swung open and two paramedics exited with a stretcher that carried a black bag. The police carried a rope. She was put inside the bag instantly because there was no reason to attempt resuscitation. They carried the bag out of the house to be dumped off as soon as possible. All the paramedics had to do was tie it up and bring it to the curb. At that point Heaven began to cry out, the clouds imploded, and the earth cracked. The last time I spoke to her seemed useless, but like many useless things it was monumental. It all marked an end. I just wanted to scream at her. I wanted to let out everything stuck in the back of my mind and stick it to her skin. I wanted to say

I

-T.S. Eliot

“The Waste Land”

the words that she would never forget. In some way I wanted to make it so she would never want to speak to me again. It’s strange the way hate works. It appears to be a true hate when you have love pushing against it. Everything seems to slow down and you can’t move. I always hear people say that you can’t really “hate” someone, but at that time, sitting there with the phone in my hand there was nothing else. Life didn’t matter and the rest of the world shut off around me. Now there was nothing else but the silent buzz of the phone and the sound of breath. “I hate you! More than anyone in my life… I hate you!” Those were the words, but there was so much behind them. I had let the cycle continue on for so long and it was slowly destroying me. Nothing came out. But I sat there wanting to say everything. Not just for my own injuries but those against herself. I lost my ability to speak. The same thought floated into my mind. Each time I thought of her it was of who she was now. For the sake of clichés all I can say is that she was a stranger. I never knew that person. For all the years I knew her that other person never came into view. The only person available was the angel that stood in front of me. I would sit and wish for that person to come back. That was who I wanted. But no matter how much I hoped it seemed that she was lost and someone else took her place. In truth the angel may have never existed. It could have been a show. On the other side of the phone, through the intricate silence, I heard the tears begin to fall. By that time apathy became a familiar friend. He and I spent much time together downing the elixir of man and toasting on those oh-sosacred-herbs. He was with me then as I heard the sound of her tears on the phone. My main impulse was to hang up and let her float off into the oblivion that was my haven of memories. The people that pass by in life never existed as substantial thoughts except while they were there. Once they made their exit I knew them as much as I knew the girl at the McDonald’s drive-through. That was what she became. Those cries for help echoed in my head as she let them out and the only thought I had was, “Look who was right.” But still I sat in silence and waited for the words, “I guess I’ll let you go.” There is no caring for long. All I can see is that even in my hatred I became weak through understanding. I heard talk of a machine. I heard talk of the way the swamps grow around here. When does innocence fade? When does reality strike with a fierce kick to the nuts? What happens if they blend together? We rarely spoke at first. She would reach out to me and I would do what it is that I do best, fade into the shadows. My natural attitude became the barrier that needed to be broken through. Natural wants of my own pushed thoughts into my head of answering her reaches, but doubt rose quickly and old scars infect with haste. Life continued on in that manner for me and I remained content in my solitude. But her persona pushed her further, the title acquaintance no longer satisfied and that was when I felt the grip on my arm and heard the

Stories
HOW THE SWAMP GROWS - CONTINUED
words, “Come with me.” People have said that confidence attracts, but what about mystique and solitude? Conversation began and the barrier was broken. Once that shield is penetrated by a person I find fit to penetrate it I come out of my solitary nature in small increments, but only if the other makes the first move; she did, and I allowed her in. The consistent flow of jokes and laughter continued for over half an hour and we both separated feeling the impact of each other’s words. It’s funny sometimes how foundations are laid. She had asked me for a ride home that night and I provided the service. I still had another half an hour before she punched out and found myself in the parking lot screaming into my cell phone. At this point the topic of the argument with old flames fades from memory but that was how she found me in the cold of that night. With hands shaking and eyes lit up to the sharpest shade I unlocked my car and we both entered. I turned the ignition and we sat motionless in the car as she tried to calm me down. The offer was made that we should go somewhere, do something, anything, it didn’t matter. But first I had to stop at my house. Inside my room she stared at the paper in amazement. At first she had no response to what she saw as her eyes searched each millimeter of the hand-drawn map. “You made this world?” she asked. “Yeah,” I answered, “kind’a weird, right?” “What’s weird about it? This thing is amazing. You made your own world!” she said. Nothing feeds the narcissism of an artist more than the interest and praise of the opposite sex, and she was fueling the small spark that existed. Then she asked a question. It was a question that took the idea of physical attraction and did away with it for something more substantial. “So where in here do you live?” she asked. I lifted my hand and pinpointed my location on my map. The connection made became a stronger one than I had ever experienced before. We were friends and she trusted my judgment enough to seek me out for advice when she needed it. There was mutual respect between us and any wrong done to her angered me. So we stayed in our bond of trust. We talked and shared wisdom and when I opened my mouth to speak she listened. The bond we shared was one that I had only imagined and one that, before I met her, I would pray for. I confided any and all writings to her. New verses came under her first response and she gave me the confidence that I needed to move forward. When the time came we were brought to a dilemma. A classic risk came under questioning that we both had to decide on: extend the relationship to a further point and risk losing the bond we had, or stay where we were and never explore that which we both wanted. The answer came and my prayers had been answered. This is where the gear spins once again. The machine moved and the gear spun to the black side. Through experience of life it becomes evident that it is impossible to ever know another person. I thought that I knew her. I can be wrong sometimes, can’t I? I could feel the cold coming back in. The summer had ended and the world around grew dark and frozen. At midnight the frost stuck to my windows and I sat in the dark waiting for the sound of movement. The chill crossed through me and I wanted the ability to move without pain. The mirror in front of me fogged over and the picture became distorted. I could feel old thoughts creeping back in. The cycle began all over again. I made my move, and I regret it still. Then I saw her tears. If one moment can change life it must be monumental. She was raised as a princess: a child who remained a child through each step. If life feels intact and set for so long what happens when evidence of a real world kicks in? A therapist told me that it was an issue of abandonment. I can’t imagine what the feeling would be like to one day see half of the familiar objects in my own home gone and to finally realize that someone who had always been in my life in one minute is gone. All it takes is a key and a turn. Then it takes another four years for the princess to see that she’s on her own. The king who called her princess wasn’t there anymore. But she was a Toys’R’Us kid. Still the gear turns. When the move takes place and the princess is still playing joyfully in her own protected world there come those who come from the outside and show that no matter how many walls are built up someone can always break through them. The life wasn’t public and the schools were private. The time of choices was coming rapidly, but she never saw why she had to make any. She was a princess. Two things mattered at that point. Friends and family surrounded her and built the world. At the other end of the spectrum the phone was glued to her hand. I saw it in a poem once and now see it as truth: men love life, women love their lover, but in a way they simply love love. Maybe the abandonment can be filled as long as he who left shows his face and tosses some change here and there and then leaves again. The princess must be spoiled. But what else will add to that void? He had come into her life and set with her. They watched movies. They talked. They did all those things that boys and girls do, and he knew all the right things to say. What’s the classic instant in all literature? Loss of innocence. When the time came the hand went out and she was stuck. When will the beatings stop? Why not leave? I thought that I said it. Love love. But the months endure and she grows bruised. Love becomes control, sex becomes rape, and the phone is not to be hung up until you tell me that you love me! This was around the time that she first grabbed my arm. I saw a smiling girl. I never saw a child crying and wishing to be free. So what breaks love? Maybe simply another love. Enter the hero, the prince. Enter the person to take her from her prison and make her happy. She had a protector. She had the one who would keep her safe through the rest of her life. He promised it with a ring and brought her back to the state of princess. More months moved forward and she came to me with a problem. She loved someone, her prince, but a new discovery was made. He was everything to her and she now knew that she was just the other pussy. After pushing herself away she was left empty, but, in a new way, very full. She stared in amazement at a positive result and threw up. Since the protector had been found out as a thief and she sat alone there was no one to keep her safe. The great breaker of walls returned to her door and pushed into the house. At announcement of the news he pounced on her and sent his fists into her stomach. He left and she laid on the floor streaming tears and calling out for her knight, but he never showed up. A life was lost, but was one saved? That is a question of the gear. Later on, after the scars had been burned in, and the knowledge that everybody leaves became evident, she was mine, and we were happy. That was how it remained for a few months. Everything was perfect and nothing would change that. Time went by and there was peace. This was something that neither of us ever experienced and it was strange to feel that good about this world. But eventually everything changes. Eventually everything falls down.

15

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We couldn’t speak. It wasn’t the same. Every sound was an argument. Every bit of silence ate at the soul. I saw things in her that I had never seen before. She was releasing all the tension from herself and leaving the world of responsibility behind. Then at the worst time, at the time in life when choices are monumental and everything falls into one’s own hands, she slipped. Just like so many of us do she sparked up and entered the haze. Why worry about responsibility when it can all drift away through bloody eyes in a cloud of smoke that everyone knows the scent of. She never went to school. She couldn’t even wake up. There was no work, because she refused to. I grew agitated with her, and she scorned me for trying to push her. But it’s true, if someone doesn’t want to be led then why lead them? It was hatred and disgust. She no longer looked at me as that same strong person but saw each weakness and flaw in me, and, being the person that she understood the most, she exploited that. So in my mind the cold set in again and I closed off. I fled back into my own mind. I went back into the wall and beat myself. I knew that everything in life was falling apart and that it couldn’t be fixed. But still in my mind the image of the angel she was stuck, and then I was stuck. I couldn’t let go, and she wouldn’t let me let go. After a while we kept growing further apart and more resentful of each other. There was no more love. We weren’t the same people when it came to dealing with each other. I wanted to get away. I wanted to separate. But I wanted to stay with her. In the end it came down to a simple thing. She asked a question. I answered. She asked if I was lying. I said, “No.” Three hours later while I was at work I got the phone call and it was over. I still can’t figure if I lied simply so it would end or not. But after that I went home and slept better than I ever had before in my life. Eventually she called me back and I still came around like a lost dog. She drained me so easily and I stayed there for another month. But then one day I had a replacement. After that I forced my mind to leave it alone. I was frozen for so long that when that final kick in the ass came it was the last one I needed. I was done. It was time for me to rebuild and start with a new foundation. It is our responsibility to change who we are. I’ve learned how the machine works, and I can only be fortified, and never, ever destroyed. But she was a different case. She didn’t have that ability. She wasn’t as used to the pain as I was. She had her new man and her life going around. But everything was shit. I looked at her life and saw nothing positive coming from it. I observed as she rapidly spun out of control. The plane was about to hit the ground. The swamp was covering her. The last time I spoke to her seemed useless, but like many useless things it was monumental. I stayed silent while the tears ran through the receiver. She was crying, and in crying didn’t know where to turn. So she turned to me. By that time I didn’t care anymore. I heard the whimpers crawl out of her mouth. “I don’t want to be here,” she said. “I want to die.” I tried to console her but what I truthfully wanted to say was that I was right. I saw it all coming. I watched her drown in the swamp and saw her do nothing to stop it. I tried to teach her about the machine, but she didn’t listen. So I sat on the train on the way home and my phone rang. I picked it up to hear her brother’s voice. The words were simple but that’s all it takes. “Yo,” he said. “What’s up?” “Aerie killed herself.” That was it. That was the final moment. She lost out and let it all fall on top of her. I wished I could speak to her again to tell her. She was an idiot. I wanted to yell at her. I wanted to scream at her for the waste she committed. If it was anyone else I wouldn’t have cared, but even in my hatred for her, even though I wanted to see it happen just to prove that I was right, all I can say is that she was stupid. At nineteen years old she took away the most precious thing. Sometimes the swamps grow heavily. Sometimes they constrict everything around. Sometimes there’s no escape. So they dragged her out in a bag. I still feel hatred. I still feel love. But my own defenses force me to move forward. I can’t turn back and she can’t come back. It is only for that that I can sit and pen this by myself with no help. There is no image. There is no prophecy. There is no message. There is life. And when life stops it simply stops. Angels drown too. The worst part of it all… you helped me forge this.

“Even When Turning into a Monster, He Holds on to His Last Innocence” by Eugene Duvidzon

17

t’s a Sunday in the summer when the boys run the campus. July drips all around, sun laughing off the windows. Their bodies sway in the shadows of Old Chem, eyes dropping from the future. Twelve year-olds aren’t so fettered. Camp in the town doesn’t exist, or isn’t good enough, so the four, led by Kouz, are past the gates and on the campus. Suburbia whispers over the trimmed lawns and waxed fenders and unfilled mailboxes, desperate feet shuffling through air-conditioned malaise, leaving newspapers and fulfillment on the steps, untapped. Kouz and the boys aren’t in that world yet. They’re the same age in the same town and still think people choose to repaint the water tower or drive the garbage truck in the morning. “All right, so the game’s hide-andseek tag. Sound good?” Kouz says, the blades of grass bending reverentially under his sneakers. Most would say he’s an unlikely leader. Middling grades, gap teeth, and unruly brown hair sagging like old fauna in front of his eyes tell the observer he’s not likely to turn any heads at the fall dance. He isn’t the fastest of the boys either and in a year or so won’t be the strongest, once Martin has his growth spurt. Courageous? No, Kouz isn’t especially daring, cunning, or brave. Like most entities in the world, he is a product of circumstance, wafting into his role like a stray leaf. The other boys have accepted where he’s settled and where they’ve settled. Trees don’t question why their roots reach down certain cracks and not others. Kouz, Martin, Nikita, and Hal mull nothing, letting the currents wash their backs of knowledge and sin. “Should we do a 50 count or 100 count?” Martin asks, adjusting his askew Yankees cap. “100. We’ll make it good,” says Hal. “Yeah,” agrees Nikita.

I

“Lemme be it first,” Kouz jumps, his voice ringing off the granite around them. “Sure.” “Ok, man.” “Start it up.” Kouz walks over to a pillar extending down from the monstrous building, coyly shielding his eyes. To earn the complete trust of his friends he presses his head to the pillar. No one is quite as home as Kouz in the self-induced darkness. It brings him to a cosmic center he can’t yet put into words but comprehends intrinsically. He begins to count. “One miss-uh-sippi, two miss-uh-sippi, three miss-uh-sippi….” The numbers, forever drifting upward, lull him, soothe him, and soak with his memories. At seventeen, he returns to his tenth birthday party when mom drove him and his friends to the city for laser tag. At twenty-six, he’s smacking a game-winning double against the green team. At forty-eight, he’s walking Sara home from school, her budding breasts and silver smile sweetening his heartbeat and warming his chest, a red sun romping over the horizon. At ninety-six, spots of purple and gold break through the darkness like hungry stars, reminding him it’s almost time to peek. At one hundred, the chase begins. On Kouz’s right is a strip of shrubbery sloping down to the cement. He remembers Martin’s propensity for hiding in the bush. Gangly and loud, Martin is always the one they find first. Martin, though bound to outgrow his pals, is still a being destined to live without grace. Any subtlety only an illusion, as fleeting as the next crack of a branch underfoot. Kouz approaches the shrubs, ready for the black flicker of human movement to become visible. Things like these are always easy. He can’t understand why older people have so much trouble searching for things. Pots, pans, plates, careers, loves…it’s all there for Kouz, always.

Bright red berries adorn the shrubs. Kouz likes the berries and wonders whether he can eat them. Clouds of conflict, borne out of hunger and the vague remembrance of a science teacher’s warning, drive him from the berries. The first surprise comes. Martin is not there. Kouz gazes at the path uphill and figures boisterous Martin probably stumbled up there. In his mind he can see the shadows of his friends flittering away, frightened moths unwilling to be found and tagged. Kouz will shine the light on them all. There’s no other way. Once at the top, he is out of the shadows of Old Chem and onto what the students call the academic mall. It’s just another place for Kouz. Light bursts from the west, glittering like burning snow on the library and glass-encased activities center. Kouz shrugs away the storm. He knows Nikita likes hiding in the alcoves near the brown leafy library. Martin is there with him. Graceless people need others. When the alcoves are empty, something screams. No one outside does the screaming because no one is around and Kouz doesn’t hear it in his ears. It is not a frightful scream either because there is nothing to be afraid of. Simply, there is nothing. Yet inside of him the scream reverberated through every channel, every pulse, flashing his eyes wide open. Kouz runs his fingers along the brick as if his touch will unveil the boys. He could pull the cloak from the world and show the nakedness underneath. Cold skin quivering in his gaze, discovered by the almighty Kouz. He could do these things, in the way all schoolyard dares can be performed with enough gumption. Whether he knows it or not, Kouz has

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ONE MISS-UH-SIPPI - CONTINUED
left the schoolyard. Hal should be the easiest catch. Hal is the fattest. Kouz can envision Hal hiding in the food court, munching on a burger, preparing himself for a life of heaving and huffing. Not all the girls love Kouz but no one loves Hal. His face is so red, his hands so clammy. Sometimes Kouz wonders why he’s Hal’s friend. People like Hal shouldn’t bother hiding, anyway. What’s the point when you know you’ll never be the last caught? Kouz chuckles at Hal’s fruitlessness, secretly pondering why anybody would want to test fate. “Hey Hal! Fatty! Come on out already or I’m just gonna go inside and rip the burger out of your mouth!” Echoes die on the lawn. Kouz strolls across the mall as if he hasn’t said anything. He hops a little black fence that runs along the grass, tiring of pavement. Flowers he doesn’t know the name of die beneath. Suddenly it occurs to him— they’re all hiding in the fountain. He remembers the heat. Now that his mind focuses on it, he’s aware that a quilt of humidity is wrapping around his skin and pressing all the sweat beads out. It presses harder and harder. There was a time when Kouz went to sleep away camp and zipped his sleeping bag too tight. When he woke up it was like a thick fog had swelled from his rib cage to his tongue and then to his eyes so a world of searing clouds had inherited his formerly clear planet. It was July—just like now—and he thought he was being unscrewed from camp, from home, from his body…and then he pulled down the zipper. Where’s his zipper now? The fountain gushes in front of Kouz. He smiles as the beads splash his face, dripping away the heat. He pulls himself up, red flushing his white hands, eyebrows damp and expectant. No one is hiding in the fountain. The stone bowl looks emptier than anything he has ever seen before. It drops down into the concavity of the earth itself, carving a hole inside of him. He tries to fill it. Laser tag, birthday parties, Sara…he pours them like sand into the hole and the grains of memory vanish, leaving only emptiness. He can’t fill it. Where’s Nikita? Martin? Fat Hal? He runs into the food court, passing neon signs and meaningless bands of red. Scattered eyes look up from their meals, indifferently watching a little boy slide across freshly-cleaned floors. The scent of pizza slows him down. On Friday nights his parents would take him for extra cheese pizza in the town square. Strings of warm cheese played on his lips, calming his nerves. Kouz wants a slice, just one, any one, his teeth click, his saliva rolls, he presses his hands to the counter and burns at the woman in the apron. She’s bigger than him with wrinkles carved into her sad gray face. Kouz can imagine her crumbling before him like a dying pyramid, bits of mud and stone crunching on the floor. Hal isn’t there. Martin isn’t there. Nikita isn’t there. Only this woman and her gray granite face shattering over him. As time yawns onward and the shadows twist, Kouz must sit. He’s been around the library, food court, fountain, biology building, humanities building, and lecture hall, searching every single place his friends would hide. Screaming orange from a setting sun throws deranged shadows in his wake, stretching trees and towers, pulling them into jagged, tremulous shapes, and cutting the grass like lighting. He wanders from the mall to the wooded outskirts of the campus. Everything he sees is new. Soon he realizes the other people aren’t around. A gravel path winds deeper through the trees. Humidity clenches him tighter. He had hoped the sunset would give him a reprieve from the heat but the sun only seems to be exploding, raining horrid heat all around. He doesn’t know why he’s walking anymore. Nothing is up ahead and nothing is behind… …Until a young woman in a green skirt emerges, a swift streak gently racing toward him. He wants to fall to the ground. Sweat smears his view and almost makes him miss her presence completely. From his kneeling position in a patch of brown grass Kouz jumps and yanks her shirtsleeve. She stops as if he’s thrown a plate of glass at her. Shards of surprise trickle the ground. Kouz gazes up into her hazel eyes, a sheen of light obscuring her form. He can’t see her surprise or her fear, or even the opening smile. All he sees is a figure offering salvation from the growing madness. Kouz thinks he saw Nikita vanish into a knothole. “Excuse me?” “Yes…” says the woman. “Have you, um, seen any kids running around here? One’s sorta pale and tall with a Yankee hat, one’s kinda fat, and the other has red hair. I’ve been lookin’ all day and—” “No, I haven’t seen them or anyone else. Sorry.” “But they gotta be around here. You had to see them at some point, right?” “No, no, sorry I haven’t.” “But you had to. Man, I mean, ma’am…c’mon they gotta be around here, c’mon.” “They don’t have to be anywhere. I hope you find them but I must go. Goodbye.” “Please, please,” he moans, grasping for her fleeing skirt. He misses. Kouz’s hands smack the gravel. He can feel the blood droplets slipping through the skin cracks, pattering the dull pebbles. The wounded hand claws a clump of pebbles and flings them into the sun. They hang in the air like dandelion spores and then crash down on his skull. Pebbles replace every thought he has ever had. Shadows blot the land until they’ve slithered into nightfall. The sun is gone. No green skirts come for him. No Nikitas, no Martins, no Hals. He holds his eyes to an unrelenting moon. Like a white powder it dusts the sky, clotting Kouz’s final grasp at clarity. He begins to stumble back but understands there’s nothing back. He tries trudging forward but understands there’s nothing forward. Instead he pulls himself up to a tree. He knows what to do. The bark is soon darkness to his shutting eyes. Sweet black washes the void. The memories cascade back to him, splashing the heart. He counts. “One miss-uh-sippi, two miss-uhsippi, three miss-uh-sippi….”

19

see you. The clock blinks 3 AM, pale blue, incessant, relentless. I see you little girl. 3 AM and this hour is a friend. This hour for an insomniac is the hour of mania. There’s so much to do and no time to waste. No point in shutting your eyes. You don’t fight it anymore. You go through your clothes instead. Try on knit skullies and leg warmers-spin around in the mirror. Try on new characters. Strew them on the floor. You Read. You read Hemingway. You read Sexton. You read the pamphlet on your sleeping roommate’s desk. You read Plath. You devour them. You pick up Plath again and read more. She gets you. You realize you may just be depressed and now you are a cliché. You throw this book in a pile of crumpled wrappers and remember you need to clean. Forget it little one. It’s late. Leave the wrappers. Lie back down and stare at the ceiling. Back to the clock. It’s pale blue light is blinding. I see you. 5 AM and the desire to sleep, to rest at all, has become elusive. There is a desperation, an urgency about you. You can not be still as it comes in waves-the desire to run into the night with your arms held high, to dance with cold sweat pooling between your shoulder blades. It is overwhelming how much there is of you little girl. You will never be able to do all the things you want to accomplish, or learn enough skills or enough languages or help enough or understand it all. I see you with your white rabbit, can’t wait, tick, tick, tick urgency in everything you do. The girls outside your window giggle. You follow the click, click, slur of their heels down the hall and up the sticky stairs in tandem. You will not be one of them. 5 am and morning light is threatening to appear. Pick up the pen you keep in your bed. Flip to a brand new page. Put pen to paper and put your dizzy thoughts to words. Write little one. Write. Thank God for the ability to form sentences that flow out of you and onto something clean. Thank him or her or the big tree outside your cracked window for the blessing of insomnia. For tap, tap, tapping nights. Pen to paper nights. Alive, alive, singing nights-brilliant ballpoint songs sung in the soft glow of a digital clock. Write, for this is the greatest relief. It brings bright red to the surface, spills it on your paper. You may

I

worry that this some sort of psycho-babble- the magic marker tiger stripe drawn in lieu of the slice. It is not. Drop your defenses. Write. 7 am and you do not sleep. Nothing happens. The world still revolves and the sky still changes. You simply have more time. Clutch at ideas and words in secret at this hour-become an addict-surrender to your habit. Sometimes these ideas will be brilliant, sometimes not at all, but if you sleep might lose them forever to the abyss of a daybreak mind. Sleep with your pens. Snap up, up, up with ideas. Replay the movie of your life. The short yet crazy, messed up, phenomenal movie of your life and wonder how you ever lived without the scribbling of words. Marvel that tomorrow night you could very well be not sleeping someplace else. You have heard that gravity ruins everything-but you’re not tethered to your sheets tonight. You are in a bed where nothing holds you-deliberately twisted sinew and skin, knotted and panting, less fragile than you believe. Think of this and know that soon, my girl, you will laugh. You will laugh at the times that you believed this was all so big and you would never survive. Know that you will not always feel like a stranger in someone else’s bed, keeping one eye open, guarding the night. All you need tonight is everything and soon you will ask yourself why you were ever afraid of this. Take it all in sweetheart. Experience it all-the good, the ugly, the new skin, pleasure like sugar melted on metal spoons. I see you there. You do not cry. Your words spill like tears on the page instead in the middle of the night. You often wake to inexplicable sobs, wet on the page, salty from your pen. I see your words freeing themselves and landing in puddles of verb, of ink, of chicken scratch. Sway in the cradle of language tonight. Rock, rest, lull in the arms of word. Sob, sway, drift. Now sleep, little one. Sleep.

20

n high school we stock up on six packs and head into the woods, since that’s where the cliff is. Up a couple hundred yards, a decent slope for people who aren’t in great shape, but we are in great shape, all Wendy’s and Dr. Pepper and stale joints and shared beers we found on couches in the dark. Nick takes pictures of us, too old in our own heads to be sophomores, posing, standing at the ledge looking at New York City and it’s a pretty clear day, though it could’ve been clearer, and we look through the late afternoon and see in our heads the dudes from the night before standing around street corners trying to get us to visit comedy clubs and hassling us for walking through vacation photos they’re taking for beautiful girls visiting from the Midwest. We’ve told off some dude who tried to sell us his demo and then laughed at tourists falling victim to those guys, just doing their job after all, but still fucking annoying. We’ve spoken in code regarding just what it is we’d do to the girls in boots and leggings and too big sunglasses and sneered in contempt at their boyfriends, dressed just like us in too tight skateboarding jeans and flannel shirts and too big sunglasses. Then, once we’d had our fill of untouchable glamour, we’d bought our train tickets, three dollars and a quarter, and sat for fifteen minutes to arrive in Secaucus to walk around the big empty commuter station that looked a little like Ellis Island, all high ceilings and geometric shapes and polished floors, and almost as many languages spoken in the same room. We’d gotten home late and in the middle of the next afternoon we’d gotten our drinks and begun walking, and here we are. It’s not ours, this place, a few hundred feet up in a space well worn by stargazers and guys trying to get laid and people who want something to look at while they get stoned: improvised fire rings dotting the clearing, the rocky edge covered with a fating fraternity logo, generations of beer cans encrusted into the soil. There are no rocks worth throwing left; they’re all at the bottom thanks to years of trying to find out just how far down it is. And whenever you do find a worthy projectile, as soon as it hits the bottom of the cliff, there’s either the chock of wood or ping of glass and you know you’ve discovered yet another piece of garbage dumped down the mountainside by some enterprising visitor. Didn’t start drinking up here until high school. Two thirds of a sixer

I

of Sam Adams and I’m basking in warm stupidity. Nick’s not far behind me. You’re much more of a heavyweight than that, and it always takes you nearly twice as much as me to feel anything. But lightweights have more fun and I’m feeling the slow destruction of my frontal lobe hum, warm and fat and silly inside my skull. are There bigger parties here pretty often, but they always get broken up because the popular guys at school can’t get it through their heads that you’ve got to be quiet, quiet, subtlety is everything, that’s why you can’t get away with anything else, the neighbors hear and then it’s over. So we keep it small, a dozen at most, and just you and me when we need it. Those kids could never appreciate being wasted on a school night anyway. The revolving door of girlfriends is around, too, usually lasting long enough to come around once or twice— Jen who doesn’t like me that much is around for three fucking years of high school, all the while trying to get you to stop hanging out with me—before they find what they were really looking for, athletes or valedictorians, and head off to school in one of the five boroughs. We stay behind, state school guys that we’re destined to be, and eventually become those public college guys, running home every month or so to get back to the cliff with a more serious kind of girl that’s eager to meet parents, to start working on new lives where they’re not the girl who used to be fat or the town slut anymore. We like The Misfits (those guys especially, since they grew up just a town or two over from here) and Stiff Little Fingers and The Clash and The Queers and even a little bit of Green Day’s earlier stuff, so that’s what we play. You keep the time to the snot nosed lyrics that I spit out in bars and bowling alleys. We’ve known each other longer than either can remember (though in reality it’s been since about fifth grade) so it’s only natural when at fourteen I meet Matt, who’s had the rare advantage of private lessons, you’re the one I ask to play drums once

I bully Matt into playing music he hasn’t really listened to before. Chris makes himself learn some bass guitar and Nick comes to every show with his camera, later using the resulting photos in his art school portfolio. Though we’ve headed off to school in two different directions, the band stays together, especially in summer, and the kids around seem to like us, though that’s as far as it goes. The girls we bring from college come with us and silently question whether or not we think we’re going to do this without a day job. I’m awkward in person but on stage I am the picture of front man, dashing back and forth from sharing the mic with the bassist in order to jump on the monitors in time for the chorus. We finish each encore like we’ve done since we were fourteen at our very first battle of the bands, where everybody gets together after the last chord and you throw your sticks into the crowd. You save me from getting my ass kicked a few times when Matt and Chris have already gone home. I keep failing to back down when the situation calls for it, and while sometimes my badgering pays off and the guy either fucks off or pays up there’s been a time or two where you strolled into the July night to find me in close contact with the pavement outside the bar. It will be another five or six years before I figure out how far you can go without getting into a physical altercation, at which point it will be useless since I’ll be too old for that behavior. You and I are the only ones this

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OUR YOUTH TO THE GROUND - CONTINUED
close, though everybody in the band becomes good friends. We make trips around the state to perform in people’s basements, logging long hours in cars with shitty speakers and no air conditioning. The cliff is always visible midway between the highway and my neighborhood, sitting there for us to escape to after particularly horrible shows, or the eerie perfect ones that provide me with the transcendence I can’t feel anywhere else. After you get married and get that gig as a paralegal, and I make foreman down at the town sanitation department, we give it up. Chris and Matt join another band and get a certain amount of success: not very famous, but a dedicated fan base, a contract, and a paycheck. We’re 26 now and stopping feels right. Kids are only a couple years away, and we buy our first homes. The part of town where the woods run next to the road goes bad and before I know it I haven’t been out to the cliff in years. Sometimes I see scraggly fireworks coming from the mountaintop and know that somebody else now needs it like we once did, kids like us, born to match the suburban landscape, kind of funny looking and full of hope and good intentions and dark secrets and that downtrodden-ness that came from being forgotten in the shadow of New York. When you’re 32, disappear towards the end of a losing fight with lung cancer, it’s me who thinks to head out there. Without telling anyone and with no music playing I drive to the start of the path through the woods. I get to the top and you’re there all thin and empty with flies landing on your eyeballs and no pulse. I’m the only person besides your wife who knew how little time you had left, so I don’t share the shock or anger that comes over your parents, siblings, or friends from work. I speak at your funeral, about the band, but avoid the subject of the cliff. An uncle tells me afterward that finally, a garbage man has a use for an English degree. I visit your grave often. It’s over in Lyndhurst, a few hundred feet from Joey Ramone, no less. Someday I’ll see you again, our wives by our sides, all of us staring east toward the city from the cliff.

cracked like an egg on a morning skillet. I scrambled my life with self-pity and anger. Forced to season with salt and pepper just to get some flavor on my worn out taste buds from all the times I bit my tongue every time she told me to shut up. But now she is face deep on Honey Nut Cheerios and still as tasteless as the cyanide at the bottom of the bowl. Farewell oh farewell. Flip a coin down a well, wishes that come true are indeed swell. Rinse my plate in the sink, breakfast is over for good. No lips wired shut. My heart pounds like a homecoming drum. Eyes illuminate like the afternoon sun, my smile is a beacon that shines to the world to announce that it is over. She is nothing, was always nothing and will always be nothing. All that will be is a scar left in memory, a blister after the burn. A notion of what was and what was done; what needed to be done. A single string cut by fate, which laid in my hand. A Monday morning, put on my best suit and gel my hair back. My eggs are not scrambled anymore, they are sunny side up; I have to look my best. Dust off the ashes this phoenix has risen. Pull up the anchor, set out to sea and throw away the ball and chain and plea just insane. Grab the suitcase and out the door. Smell the fresh morning dew, embrace the cool air against my skin. I feel an immense weight lifted off my shoulders. That annoying voice that started in the morning that wouldn’t stop until my dreams drifted me away from this world, has now disappeared. This dog collar is thrown to the ground. Strayed off to the wild, through a new beginning of handcuffs and barred up windows. And thinking long and hard, shoving regret deep in a hole; I say it was worth it. I make my way towards the car, and my neighbor yells over. “It’s a Good Day eh?” “Oh yes... A Good Day Indeed”

I

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nowing that today he would finally receive the promotion he had fought so hard for, he sipped his morning coffee eagerly. “Yes Dave, today is the day,” he calmly said to himself as he comfortably sat in his favorite chair. “Today is the day I become manager of the Post-it factory.” He ate his peanut butter and jelly sandwich delightfully with a smile on his face. “Ah, the taste of success.” It was a nice change to finally get to have real jelly and peanuts for his sandwich because now he could actually afford it. Life was finally the utopia that Dave had yearned for. Dave suspiciously eyed an envelope with ‘URGENT’ written on it with large red letters on the far side of the table. He wondered if he should open it now or later. “Hey, why not? Nothing can ruin the greatest day of my life,” he said innocently as he reached over fresh crumbs of bread. He grabbed his jellysoaked knife, opened the envelope and started reading. It was a letter from his doctor about his recent examination: “We are sorry to inform you that… diagnosis … delirious mind… mental frequency of your brain’s…and therefore you are conclusively a schizophrenic.” *Snap* He dropped the letter and stared off into the distance, perhaps into a land of rainbows, unicorns and where bottled water doesn’t have the outrageous price of 1 dollar. The fragrance of sweet energizing coffee was gone, the essence of peanuts and jelly perished from his taste buds and a new dystopia had been founded in his consciousness. Everything that had been was no more: blue was now pillow, and stapler was now river. He attempted to take a sip from his coffee, but failed as he hit his forehead instead, thus spilling the boiling hot contents over himself. Yet the excruciating pain did not stir his broken soul as he just sat there plotting demented ways of getting back at the world. He stood up with coffee going down like a waterfall from his twitchy face and proclaimed his thoughts to his frightened cat by looking straight into its soul and yelling, “So you think I’m crazy don’t you? After all these years of feeding you, oh you grow up so quick Mr. Fluffybuns, like a rose your thorns sting me!” Picking the cat up, taking a bite from it, and launching it out of the window, he happily ridded himself of the traitorous feline. “Be gone with you demon spawn! For I have no use of you

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anymore.” He yelled with blood spurting out of his mouth. His blood thirsty stare then swiftly went from the broken window to the door where it didn’t leave its target for four full seconds. He then proceeded to charge the door – missed it by a couple meters – and had thus left his house through the solid wall. He ran and ran until he was on the highway racing the other cars. “Who is that?” they asked. “Why is he wearing a pillowcase instead of pants?” they continued. Starting to get bored of racing at 80 miles per hour with the cars, Dave did a barrel roll mid-air and crashed through the window of a Toyota Corola with the force of a thousand little babies. “Hi” he blurted out to the shocked driver.

“What are you doing here!?” the man cried out in astonishment. “I came here to chew some bubblegum and kick ass,” Dave told the frightened creature. “And I’m all out of gum.” He then kicked the man out of his own car, took control of it and then decided that he wasn’t such a big fan of the color white. “BRHSAAJSJK!” he uttered as the car went over a speed bump, gaining several seconds of air time before safely landing upon the nicely padded spine of a poodle with a A massive gun battle then developed between our dear Dave and the confused pink bow-tie and the like. SWAT members as innocent plants, shiny Dave didn’t know it, but he was subcon- lava lamps, and family portraits were sciously making his way to the place caught in the deadly crossfire. Dave where it all started: the doctor’s office. knew he couldn’t last against the army of He would have realized this fact much SWAT members, so he bent his knees, sooner hadn’t he been busy enjoying the jumped up and grabbed hold of one of sounds of knees snapping sickeningly the helicopters firing its large mini-guns against the bumper. “There we go,” he at him. “He’s too fat!” the pilot said betold himself happily. “White car is now wildered by the fat man pulling his helired, like a banana, a penguin, and toma- copter. “We’re going down!” toes bought at Costco it is now!” The fact that none of these objects are red “Weeeeeee!” Dave was yelling as he and further proved the point of his insanity. the helicopter were flying full speed into Dr. Steinman’s office. “BANG” Dave “BANG! BANG! BANG!” he roared as yelled as he rolled inside the large office he crushed as many cubicles as he could of Dr. Steinman himself and came face to while making his way through the lower face with one of the creatures humanity levels of the office building in which he fears the most: the receptionist. “Do you received his examination. “Oh my god! have an appointment?” she calmly asked, It’s a car!” the sheep yelled. “He’s going trying to avoid staring directly at the for Dr. Steinman!” they warned each burning helicopter a couple of centimeother. Crashing into a pillar, Dave ters away from her face. jumped out of his newly colored Corola and was confronted with a whole squad “I need to see Steinman now!” Dave yelled while brandishing his newly creof fully clad SWAT members. ated weapon made by gluing together “You’re under arrest Dave!” they warned random debris from the helicopter and various office supplies he had snatched

him. “There’s nowhere you can go!” But Dave hadn’t been brought up as someone who gave up, and so entered a battle stance in light of these threats. “PEW PEW PEW!” he burst out while at the same time having his hands take the shape of two Berettas as he began traveling sideways across the wall firing them with each step. “I’ve been hit!” one man yelled in agony. “We need reinforcements!” they all pleaded into their radios.

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HAYWIRE - CONTINUED
up during the previous gunfight. “I’m sorry, but you need to wai–Oh, he’s ready to take you right now.” She said nervously, mostly due to the pilot’s constant screams of distress and the added effect of Dave’s increasing twitchiness as each second passed by. Dave was now finally at his goal as sugary cupcakes and talking copies of “Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary” were urging him to go on forward using large words that he’d never heard of before. He entered the office and found Steinman. table as gracefully as an intoxicated swan and penetrated Steinman’s torso “Ah, the one and only Dave, how nice to with two large beams of red light emafinally meet you.” He cynically said to nating from his eyes. Steinman then exDave. “But it appears that you are too ploded into a rainbow of candy that late as I already have your dear princess engulfed the entire world in sugary happiness. as my hostage!” Steinman then proceeded to pet a British It was wicked awesome. Shorthair with two tenths of its body bitten off. “You shall pay for what you have done!” Dave said franticly. “Prepare to die!” Dave then jumped onto the coffee

Art by Sid Bengeloun

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on’t follow that girl if ya know what’s good for ya,” the bartender growled to me from behind the counter. He was talkin’ ‘bout the sexy brunette who had just walked in. She had laced-up black boots, long dark hair and a body a man would kill for just to get it into bed. Every man in the bar had to lift his jaw off the ground. In the middle of nowhere you certainly don’t expect to see a woman like that wander in. She gave a quick sweep of the room with her eyes half closed and her mouth half open. It seemed she was the kind of girl that was always ready. She caught me starin’, pursed her lips together and smiled. She took her time gettin’ to the bar itself, making sure to swing her hips back and forth, and then was careful to lean seductively over as she asked for a screwdriver and a wrench. The bartender reached for the orange juice first and then gave her a sideways glance. “Don’t know how to make a wrench, hun.” “You don’t need to know how to make one, sweetheart, I just need you to get me one is all.” He looked at her, her mouth half open again, and he placed the drink on the counter and reached underneath the bar for his toolbox. “Thank you,” she whispered. She downed the drink like a shot of Jose and wrapped her fingers slowly ‘round the handle of the toolbox. She looked at me from down the bar as I took a gulp of my beer, and I choked on it. She closed her lips again and let a smile creep through, then turned to leave. At the door she tossed her hair over her shoulder and her gaze followed all the way back to me still tryin’ to wipe up the alcohol I spilled all over myself and the bar. She smiled again, and then walked out. It felt cold the second she left the room, and everyone returned to what they were doin’; the pool sharks went back to shootin’ their balls into the corner pockets, the bluesman put his mouth back on his harmonica, and the lonely boys went back to explainin’ to their wives and girlfriends why they weren’t home yet. But not me. I couldn’t stop watchin’ the door. I wanted her to come back. I needed her, and I knew I’d be empty without her. I took a second to catch the bartender starin’ me down. He eyed me as if to say It’s a mistake boy, don’t do it. But it was useless. I laid a ten on the table and walked out.

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I took a glance around and didn’t notice her under the hood until I heard her cursin’. “Shit! C’mon baby. Don’t do this to me. I know you don’t wanna do this to me.” “Can, can I, uh, help you with anythin’, miss?” I asked her tentatively. She turned her face up towards me, her eyes peekin’ out from over the bare arm that held up her top. She put the wrench down and stood up straight. She clapped her hands together and smiled at me, lips closed. “Well aren’t you sweet?” she said to me. Even after hearin’ her voice inside, I still couldn’t believe how light it was. How airy and dreamy she spoke, like an angel. “I think I got this one, baby, but thanks for the offer,” and she bent back over her car’s engine, back first so her ass stuck out. As if she needed to bend over to get my attention. “Are you sure? Because I’m pretty good with my hands.” She gave me a sideways stare, and I realized how perverted I sounded. “Not like that I mean!” Tryin’ to correct myself was stupid and she laughed politely at me. “Really, baby. I got this. I’m the only who knows how to rev my engine the right way.” Damn, she was good. And right. Soundly, her car purred and she was goin’ to be on her way soon. “Were you, uh, gonna go back in and pay for your drink? Because you, uh, don’t need to. I paid for it, so, I mean, you’re fine.” It’s the way she looks back at you that sends a shockwave through your body, and you freeze up they way I do. But she just smiled, a sweet little smile. “That’s very kind of you,” she said pushin’ down the hood of her car. “Mind bringin’ these tools back in for me?” “Uh, no. Not at all.” I stumbled for

the toolbox, but when I hunched over for it, I stiffened up right quick. I followed the length of her body all the way up, scannin’ carefully over each of her curves. When I finally reached the top, her eyes had locked with mine. “See somethin’ you like, cowboy?” I think I felt an asthma attack coming on, and I don’t even know what that is. “I, uh, no. I was just, uh, well —-” As I tripped over my own words, and consequently, over my own feet, I noticed her glide to the driver’s side door. “Are you leavin’?” I asked desperately. She turned to look at me, one slim leg already on the gas pedal. “Well I sure can’t stay in one place for too long.” “Why’s that? I mean, if you don’t mind my askin’.” I was an idiot. Why the hell would she tell me, some pathetic, stutterin’ stranger, anythin’? I shook my head like a scolded dog and started the list of names that described my stupidity. Moron, dope, Neanderthal, oaf, whackjob, ding-dong, joker, idiot, clown, dum-dum … “Would you like to come with me?” My jaw dropped as I gawked at the siren in front of me. With her arms crossed over the car door and her chest framed by the open window, she smiled her quaint little smile, and waited for my answer. “Well, cowboy, what’d you say?” My throat closed up, so all I could do was nod. I felt somethin’ cool drip off my lip and I realized my tongue was hangin’ out and I was droolin’. I quickly wiped my mouth clean with my sleeve and she cocked her head back and laughed. “Just get in,” she said. And I humbly obeyed. I knew it that second she owned me. She was my mistress, and I didn’t even know her name.

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“Where are we? I’ve never been on this road before,” I asked as I watched my blonde hair blow back from under my hat in the side mirror. “Then I think you need to travel more, cowboy. You ain’t seen near enough of the country.” “I think you might be right,” I laughed. I saw a small piece of paper stickin’ out of the glove compartment. I decided there’d be no harm on openin’ it up. Her bright eyes flicked across to the papers in my hands. “So your name’s Jessica, huh?” “It is if you want it to be.” “Well, I mean, that’s what it says on the registration here.” “Then I guess that’s my name.” I couldn’t be mad at her, but I was curious as to how she got so good at avoidin’ my questions. “It don’t matter what my name is,” she started, “This Firebird is mine. Always has been, always will be. This car. Well this car here’s my life.” I stopped askin’ questions after that and just watched her drive. She barely even looked at the road. Her eyes were always somewhere else. On the trees. On other cars. Sometimes even on me. Sometimes, on parts of me. She never asked me any questions neither. And I took it to be that was just her way. Just lettin’ things be the way they were. It was gettin’ dark, and we were drivin’ towards the sun as it set. Before I tipped my hat down over my eyes to block the rays (somethin’ she didn’t seem to need to do) I saw a sign for West County Crossing. “West County? I’ve heard that bridge is haunted.” “People have been known to see ghosts on that road,” she replied staring down the sun and it sunk into the horizon. Her face was glowin’ in the rays of sunshine. “Have you? Ever seen ghosts, I mean.” “Cowboy,” she started, turnin’ to look right at me for the first time. “I see ghosts every night.” She looked straight ahead, and never looked back until the sun was gone. When we got to West County she was doin’ eighty instead of fifty-five. “Well, well,” she whispered, and I

squinted real close to try and see what she was seein’. There were a handful of these shiny bright lights ahead of us, scattered along the crossin’. “Well I’ll be damned! You really do see ghosts!” “Sorry to disappoint, cowboy, but those ain’t no ghosts.” She reached into the backseat, slowin’ her motor down as she did, and tossed some rope into my lap. “Tie these ‘round your hands and feet.” I looked at her like she was crazy. “No questions,” she hissed, “Just do it.” I was confused, but obedient nonetheless. When we stopped it hit me that those weren’t ghosts, they were headlights. And not just any headlights. Those were mounted onto the cars of the sheriff and his men. A deputy strolled to the driver’s side door with his hands around his belt, like a man in charge. “We been lookin’ all over fer ya, miss,” he said, bending forward into the window. “I’m not sure what you mean, mistuh …? “Sheriff. Sheriff Winchester. And you’ve caused a helluva ruckus ‘round here. It’s time we get goin’.” He opened the door to the Firebird from the inside and picked her up with one hand. Her compliance with authority was astounding. “Get this one in the car boys! And get this one outta here!” he called out, noddin’ in my direction, Two deputies came over and carried me out of the passenger side. They untied my ropes and I stared at her the whole time. Her mouth dropped open slightly, and she looked disheartened. Then she raised her eyebrows at me and I understood everythin’. “Uh, ‘scuse me? Sheriff Winchester?” He locked her into the back of his car and walked up to me. “What is it, son?” “Well, ya see, this vehicle here is mine. The registration’s in my wife’s name. Jessica. It was a gift. I was wondrin’ if maybe I could have her back.” Winchester eyed me suspiciously, then took a glance back at the car. “This here’s yours?” “Yes, sir.” He sighed indignantly. “Give him the keys, boys. And take it easy son, you’ve had a helluva trip.”

“Absolutely, sir. You got it. Thank ya so much, Sheriff Winchester.” He tipped his hat at me and I watched him stroll back to his car and stare at her. Not the way the guys at the bar stared. Or the way I stared. But the way that makes you think he’s put a few old horses down before. They’re never gonna let her go. Even when all the cars had left, I just sat in the Firebird. Sat and watched the bridge for real ghosts, listened to the wind whip through the trees, and lost track of time in the ripples of the lake underneath me. Before I knew it the sun was comin’ up again, and I remembered the glow of her face, and how it rivaled the sun’s. I finally pushed her keys into her ignition and took off. I was only a few miles from the state line when I had to pull over. There’s no such things as ghosts, you moron. I looked into her rearview mirror. It’s not the desert, so it can’t be a mirage, right? I stared into the sun in front of me, and it wasn’t nearly as bright as what was comin’ up behind me. I pulled out her keys, and left her car. I watched her take her sweet time gettin’ to me. Her lips created a small oval that shut together when we came together, and for the first time since she captured me she grinned so that her pearly whites shined. She cocked her head back and laughed, and when she stopped directly in front of me, she was close enough that I could feel her breathin’. “May I drive, please?” she asked with a crooked smile. “Was it even a question?” I tossed her keys up and walked around the front to the passenger side. The keys fell into the cup of her hands and she swung them around one slender finger. “Thank you, cowboy.” She revved the motor, and we were gone again. I wanted to ask her how Winchester found her. I wanted to know why they were after her in the first place. I wanted to know how the hell she escaped the jail. But I couldn’t. And I never would. I knew well enough that that was just her way. And that, I knew, was never gonna change.

26

Stories

ohn opened the package carefully, so as not to tear as he pulled the cardboard flaps apart. A quarter-inch thick jewel case, shrink-wrapped instruction manual, warranty card and paperback strategy guide fell on his lap. He propped the empty box on the desk against the gray computer tower. An artist’s rendering of a tall figure wrapped in a dark gray cloak was embossed against a woodland background, a short wave of blonde hair blowing slightly from inside the black void of the figure’s face. Above her, embossed in silver gradient, was the title: Shadowworld As he installed the program on his computer, John opened the strategy guide to its first page: Shadowworld From the Makers of World Lair* Are you ready for the experience of a lifetime? You must be, or you wouldn’t be reading this! The sensational online role playing game World Lair was only the beginning. Now, you’re ready to move on to the darker, more challenging underworld, the hush land, the plains of mum… Shadowworld. Whereas before you could choose between twelve character classes, in this world the lines are grayer. That’s right- you create your own class, and you make your own rules. The first steps are tough and tedious, but the rewards for patience, strategy and wisdom in these crucial measures are innumerable. You will begin an intensive character creation, where you decide who and what you want to be. Please choose “Character Setup” from the main menu, once your program has been installed. You will be automatically linked to our network server (please make sure your computer is web-ready!). Some features, such as X-FOV, online chat and surround sound are dormant without the proper sound/video cards and/or the Shadowworld Deluxe Headset. Please ensure each of these devices is working properly before gameplay. John pulled the earpiece over his head and adjusted the tube-shaped microphone. In the main menu, he selected “Character Setup”.

J

John turned in his bed quickly, darting glances around the room. Sunlight beamed in through the windows, making visible the floating dust in the air. The fold-up alarm clock next to the bed said it was 11:43 in the morning. Fourteen hours had passed. The sky already seemed darker by the time he arrived at the Electro Hub. As he walked around the counter and signed into the computer system, a tall man with short brown hair slapped him on his shoulder. “Are you alright?” the man asked. His nametag read ‘Eddie’. “I don’t remember what I did last night.” “We’re young guys, John, it happens. Are you going to focus or what?” “Sure.” John closed his eyes, keeping his hands loosely on the keyboard. He took a deep breath and looked at the monitor, which had begun to beep rhythmically. Thank you for using our secure network interface! By now you probably have a lot of questions. You might be wondering where you are, and how you got there. Please, don’t be afraid. You will soon be ready to begin your role-playing experience. Press any key to continue. Eddie had already begun a pre-inventory count. John glanced around the store, as if somewhere a head would pop up and laugh at his expense. There was no one around. Cautiously, he hit the ENTER button. Long ago, role-playing computer games were text-based. A bot would process and respond to certain commands and requests, furthering the story as you made decisions. You have chosen this as your introductory interface. So far, only 3% of registered users have selected likewise. Other, more popular designs include card-based, boardand-dice-based, or single-player 3D. Your introductory interface plays a big role in narrowing your

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characteristics. Choosing any of the following commands will exit this interface and load the standard 3D MMORPG design. What would you like to do? 1. Character Development 2. View Map 3. View Stats 4. Buy/Sell 5. Trellow 6. Return to Previous Screen 7. Help! John typed “1”.

The desert floor was an endless, cracked plane of golden solitude. No sand blew over the hard, yellow rock, and the blue horizon seemed to stretch on to infinity, grazing but never touching the land below. John pivoted slowly, expecting to see an anomaly at some point, but every turning degree revealed the same empty, lifeless landscape. “Hello?” the echo in his voice both comforted and frightened him. Thank you for selecting your character’s attributes. Would you like to apply these changes? The voice was soft, female, and in his head. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Would you like to apply your changes and continue? “Yes, continue, tell me what’s going on.” He fell to the ground, every nerve in his body screaming in agonizing strain. The veins in his neck and wrists pumped wildly, stretching the skin as they beat beyond their confines. Please wait. Something hit his stomach and he vomited, covering the yellow rock with a red mash of partially digested food. He could feel his muscles being torn at by giant claws, and in the next moment he was sure he’d gone blind. When the white light disappeared and the dry landscape returned, a number of assorted items, organized in rows, were

on the ground a few feet away. The pain gone, it was still a struggle to keep himself on all fours. After a minute he felt the strength he’d lost returning to him, and he crept to the nearest item, which was a small, pink vanity mirror. The Vanity Mirror. This is essential in the first stages of your quest. To see yourself, simply look. Other uses will be revealed to you as you learn them. John looked into the clear glass, which expanded into a rippling pond. The man in the wavy reflection was him, but not him all the same. It was as if his mind was processing two truths: John, the man that had lived, in a house with his family, for over two decades, and John, the man who lived here, in this deserted yellow terrain. The new John was stronger, more agile, and had a long scar on the side of his face. His hair was a bit longer, his muscles were noticeably larger, and his eyes were a shade brighter. He was dressed in a blue tunic and brown slacks. On the ground next to him was a gray cloak with red silk lining. He pulled the cloak over his head and fastened the neck with a brown brooch in the shape of a sparrow. One row of items was reserved exclusively for weapons. He reached over the other two, more fascinated than frightened now. He wasn’t sure if it was the new John’s influence that calmed him, but he knew what he had to do. He grabbed a long, silver sword with a coiled snake emblem wrapped around the hilt. Next he took a crossbow and a small dagger. Further down the row, a set of ninja stars and a black mace gleamed at him. As he grasped the mace’s handle, he found it was stuck in the ground. You can only carry three of this type of item. Please choose carefully. “I can handle the weight.” he contested. Please observe that weight is not an issue. You must increase your maximum inventory slots before you are able to carry more than three weapon class items. “Can I ask another question?” Please do. Your quest will begin shortly. “Who are you?” Who are you? “Fair enough. Which way is out?” A gust of wind blew against his body, pricking his rubbery skin with sand particles. In the ground, a small trench formed in the shape of an arrow. He followed. A few steps in, he felt he was crossing a threshold. The light grew darker, the ground became softer, and the air seemed denser. Ahead of him, a grove of Sweet Chestnut trees began to materialize. When he reached the edge of the grove he stopped, unable to move forward. A woman with long blonde hair stepped out from behind one of the trees. She was dressed as a serf, her peasant’s

28

Stories

clothing tattered and torn in many places from excessive wear. All but her face and hair were dirty. “No one is allowed to enter the grove.” she said. “I’m just passing through.” “No, you are not. Only he who holds the Silver Medallion may enter the grove.” “Why?” “Only he who holds the Silver Medallion may enter the grove.” “I get that, but why?” “Only he who holds-” “Okay, I get it, shut up.” “Only he who-” Before he realized what he was doing, he’d pulled the small dagger from its sheath. With a frightening combination of power and precision, he threw the knife forward. It whistled through the air and came to a halt with a sickening thud as it lodged itself between the woman’s eyes. She stood still for a moment, eyes narrow and dull, unaware of what had happened. She fell first to her knees, then forward into the grass.

The audience erupted into a storm of whistles and applause. John gripped the armrests of the purple chair, drawing in air as if for the first time. Next to him, a handsome man in a black suit took hold of his right hand. “In your world, John, are there consequences?” John’s mouth was too dry to respond. He licked his lips nervously. “What I mean is, for every action, is there a reaction?” John turned his head slowly, taking in the crowd. “Ofof course.” he stammered. “Do bad things happen to good people?” “Y-yes. A lot.” The man smiled so brightly the overhead lights reflected off his teeth. “When you dream at night, do you play football? Do you wield a sword, do you fight monsters, do you own a club? What happens to you when you close your eyes?” “I… I don’t know.” “Yes you do. Yes you do!” The audience stood, not all at once but in drabs, until they were a full ovation. They cupped their hands over their mouths. “Yes you do! Yes you do! Yes you do!” “You’re all going away soon!” John shouted back. The host tightened his grip. “Why would you say that, John?” “Because this is the loading screen.”

Eddie stuck a metal probe inside a black sneaker and shook his head. “It’s not like it helps you.” “Where the hell are we?” “We’re looking for the Silver Medallion. What do you think?” John followed the queue from the end- near the lobbyto the beginning- near the archway of the metal detector. “What happened to Shadowworld?” “What the hell is that? If Jones sees you slacking off, we’re both in trouble.” “I’m being serious, here. Why isn’t this Shadowworld? What the fuck is going on?” Eddie sighed. “You’re making these people late for their flights, that’s what. Now do your fucking job.” “What are we looking for?” “Eh, the same as always. You’ll know it when you see it.” A young girl stepped to the arch, red hair flowing smoothly over her black blazer. She passed through the detector, accompanied by a chorus of alarms. She turned to face him on the other side, and the sounds died away. “What are you harboring?” John asked. “Nothing.” John motioned behind him. “Back room. Let’s go.”

She stood naked, covering whatever she could with her arms, shivering in the cold. The room was made entirely of gray concrete; it was the most hopeless place one could be. John threw a pile of her clothes against the wall. “Where is it?” “I don’t have anything!” He grabbed her, nails digging into her flesh, sweat dripping from his forehead and rolling down the curve of her breasts. “You do. I know you do.” He felt along her body, teeth clenched in rage and anticipation. Just above her navel was a small lump, barely noticeable even from so close. “There it is.” “Please, don’t.” He hit her hard in the gut, but instead of a slap or a thud he felt that his hand was sinking. His forearm was draped with innards, dripping blood on the floor. In the corner of the room the woman lay on a four-post bed, face illuminated by the light of her cell phone. “Who is it?” asked the man laying next to her. “It’s John. I have to get back, you know how he gets.”

He stood at the edge of the grove and stepped forward slowly. A white-haired man stood before him, his pale blue tie Have you brought the Silver Medallion? loosened around the neck. “What did you say?” He held up the tangle of intestines in his hand. “Right “Nothing. You’re good to go, sir.” here.” Eddie nudged him in the waist. “I can’t believe you You may pass. killed her. What were you thinking?” “I’m sorry?”

Stories

29

John tore the microphone off and gasped for air. A thin, nervous-looking man stumbled into the room. “Are you okay, Dr. Dobson?” He shook his head. “It’s too real.” “As per your instructions…” “No, not like that. It gets in your head. I can’t explain it.” “Can you explain it to the board?” said another voice from behind him. “I can try.” “They’ve already offered forty prisoners early parole across three states. They can’t go back on those offers, but they can’t go through with them, either. Do you understand the gravity of the situation?” “It brought up feelings I didn’t know I had. It made them real.” “Sounds like it was a success, Johnny.” John ran his hand along the table, hoping to reconnect with reality. Near the console was a color photo, glass glimmering from the overhead lights. Within the silver frame he stood smiling, arm around his wife, her red hair draped smoothly over a black blazer.

“I hope not.”

John stood in the bathroom, held up by his arms as he pushed down on the metal basin. He looked into the mirror and saw a vast desert landscape. In the center, he- the large, muscular, battle-scarred him that he had come to accept as a merged truth- held the jewel-encrusted sword high in the air. The dragon fell from the sky feet-first, aiming its massive talons at his body. He rolled quickly under the beast, and with a strained thrust he wedged the sword into its leathery belly. The dragon toppled over with a maniacal death cry. Its wing folded and snapped under the weight of its body. The John in the mirror turned and looked straight out to him, the John in the bathroom. The superior John beckoned him with his vein-laced arm. The other climbed the basin, slacks wet against the stainless steel. The John with the sword motioned with increasing direness. Would you like to continue from your last save point? The doctor smiled. “Sure. Why not?”

“Path to Destruction” by Eugene Duvidzon

30

e knew our days were numbered the night we met. I had been on campus late, and stumbled through the hall of the Melville Library in a trance. My eyes were grafted to my dirty sneakers, watching the neon orange check marks reach desperately for the glass-plated, vaulted ceilings. The night sky spread over me, a chilling, lifeless black. The dim, fluorescent light that carelessly spilled and oozed from the wall-mounted lamps bathed the few hardworking students who were left on campus. Lifting my eyes from my shoes I turned the corner, shuffling, flustered, to the Music Library when the ground beneath me gave way. Flat on my back, I lay in a haze. I picked myself up and looked at the flyer that had caused my fall from grace. On a bright pink piece of paper, the following words were printed in a distinguished, black font: On Thursday, the 22nd of January, 2009 at 8 PM, Madame Shirley Strum Kenny will be holding a ball in her own honor, at her palatial mansion. Cocktails will be served. Invitation only. The concept of crashing the private party of the president of my university possessed a great allure. I would be avenged for the inconvenience and sore bottom her flyer had caused me. The musk of mischief had entered my nostrils. Its fragrant scent perched on each and every thread of cilia that lined my olfactory walls. I gave my associate a call. Rudy and I took his BMW and arrived at the high, iron gate of Stony Brook’s Presidential Manor just after 11. We stood, cloaked in hoodies, just left of the opening, staying out of the security guard’s sight. Rudy, having some military experience, had a strategy. “J-man,” he said, pressing my hand firmly between his sweaty palms, way too tenderly to be platonic, like a lover going off to war. “There aint no way we’re gettin’ in there... at least…not…together.” He looked down solemnly, and massaged his temples. I could tell, as his spectacles began to mist, that he was going to sacrifice himself for the sake of the mission. Rudy’s diversion was simple. As a car pulled down the meandering driveway of Kenny’s Gatsbyian estate, and the gates opened to let them go on their way, Rudy would thrust himself into the path of the car. It just so happened that within minutes the midnight Rolls Royce of Peter Winkler made its way down the asphalt Nile, and through the tunnel away from Kenny’s decadent domicile at sixty miles an hour and plowed Rudy

W

right down. I will never forget in all my days as a journalist/model/scientist/mercenary the look of terror and dismay that spread like Swine-Flu on Rudy’s ruddy visage. To think my own corrupt and deranged quest for tom-foolery would have claimed my friend’s life, or more accurately, broken his collar bone. I shuddered. The security guard hustled over in a frantic stupor, to aid my bleeding friend. This gave me the chance I needed. I leapt through the gate, sleek as a cheetah, fierce as an angry cheetah and invisible against the night sky like a cheetah painted black or clad in some sort of invisibility cloak. I made my way, loping like some kind of mythical ape with the intelligence of sphinx wizard, bounding in great strides over the high-grade lawn, reminiscent of the type of southern plantation Kenny would have once surveyed during her time as a slave-wrangler. I felt the padding of the soft ,well-nurtured lawn, in the brisk October air, fully aware of the inconsistencies of the text, and shed a single tear for Rudy. Tonight he would eat burritos in paradise. After hopping over the mile-wide moat, a breeding ground for wicked cobras, pedophiliac gavials and depraved eels, I started to scale the tower. The Kenny Kastle , as SSK had it renamed, was equal parts medieval fortress and North shore, dog-days abode. I crept slyly, like an escaped convict with a doctorate or a fox with the brain of a magical dolphin, into the nearest window. It was then that my great intellect and reflexes skipped a beat. Expecting the window to be no more than a few feet above the floor, I carelessly tumbled over its ledge, not at all prepared for the eighteen story drop into the middle on the ball room. I crashed with a great resonance into a platter of SSK’s favorite dish: Turkey and Pork Pudding. Luckily, the thick and impenetrable olio of giblets, sausages and custard served as a pillow for my fall. When I lifted my aquiline-nosed azure-eyed face out of the pudding, revealing a masculine chin, accented with a profound, canyon of a cleft, all eyes were on me. Hugh Patterson, red with drink, and a woman on each arm, stopped dead in his tracks. Christiane Stidham, in the midst of the retelling of a colorful and exciting story, paused, glowering in my direction. Brad Reina wept in terror, clinging onto Helen Choi’s shin like a child. Peter Manning stepped down from the podium wherefrom he was just beginning to quote every Canto of Child Harold for the next five hours as the keynote speaker of the event, and said in a frail, cracking voice, “Well Josh, you sure

31

SHIRLEY & I - CONTINUED
have fucked the duck this time.” All the girls I was ever enamored with, including Articuno, The Wild Horse, Phoenix, Ice Dragon, JZ, Guidette and that girl Allison in my contemporary British Lit class, all looked in horror toward me, realizing the dorky dude, for whom they never batted an eyelash, was indeed a super sexy and cool badass. I climbed assuredly to my feet, reaching for my sword, anticipating violence, perhaps an army of Rhinoceros guards with ray guns. I was instead hit with a blow I could have never countered, that I could have never fathomed. Do you believe in love at first sight? I’d seen her face on the back covers of issues of the Press, satirized in all sorts of ways. I’d seen her on a flyer, with some kind of monster dick dangling betwixt her thighs. But I had never seen this most beautiful demon in all glory before, spreading her wings of under-arm skin and cellulose fat like a moth fresh from its chrysalis, greeting the new day, the first day of the rest of its life. Like a sexy grandma she shuffled the Charleston on the hardwood floor of the ballroom. This vision stunned me. I couldn’t lift my hand to block the insidious bulge I housed in my trousers, let alone pick up my eight hundred pound claymore to slay this most precious yet lethal unicorn. Before me stood the kind of girl who stole Veronica Lake’s prom date by offering to go-down-town on the limo ride to the prom and then all the way on ride home. The voice of Shirley Strum Kenny kneed my groin like a sultry, summer breeze. “Who the fuck are you, and what the fuck are you doing at my motherfucking party you motherfucking fuck-fucker?” she asked delicately, and articulately, her glare evoking Georgia O’Keefe’s painting of a flower that sort of looks like girl parts.“I am liable to kill you, you dirty sow of a whore,” she said grabbing me by collar, and spitting as she spoke, “and feed you to Florio from Campus Rec.” As her eyes dug deeply into my skull, I gave up, totally in love with her. She saw that I was hers to have her way with. And I saw her soften, as her scarlet lips creased on her perfect face. I already risk being met with allegations of libel and to describe what happened next would earn me a swift suspension from SBU. SSK and I struck up a most passionate love affair. She understood me in ways that no one else did. Unlike my exgirlfriend, Maria, she didn’t want fancy things. And like my grandma, Grandma, she gave me twenty dollars every time I came to visit. Like my ex, she was passionate, full of life, oh how we made love, like a hurricane ravaging a major coastal city. Like my grandma, she made hella sweet grilled cheese sandwiches. Like my ex, she could turn every head in the club, wearing a silver, sparkly halter top, without a bra. Like my grandma, she fucking ruled at bridge. I took a semester off in the spring of 2009. Our torrid affair was in full swing, as we traveled along the eastern coast of South America on a yacht. Most days I was drunk on rum or wine, and high off the scenic curves of SSK’s hot body. The nights were long and sweltering. We never slept a wink. Our mornings were spent eating fresh fruit, monkey-bacon, and being fanned by the descendents of the Aztecs. We then passed our time watching The View and The Price Is Right. We shared ambrosial dinners daily at promptly four pm. We once voyaged deep into the mainland and came across a massive anaconda. SSK threw her satchel of old mints at it and saved my life. Columbian drug lords, impervious to the restraints of geography, shot at our boat, which we called the Javits, and using the venom of one of her many pet toads, SSK shot right back at them, ending civil war in the southern hemisphere. Also, using her sick laptop, SSK made some edits in the SOLAR system and my 3.5 was bumped up to a 5.11. She called Andrew Fraley and had me promoted to copy editor, much to Erin Mansfield’s chagrin, a rank that had constantly eluded a lowly Audiomaster such as myself, whose unpopularity as SB Press Pariah was unparalleled. The fall drew nigh. Having rested on my academic laurels and spending six months with my lover, I desired to return to my studies. SSK and I had a bond, and finally it was time to see if that bond could withstand the 800 lb Gorilla on the yacht. I knew she was going to retire soon. I always had, but I had always sort of hoped she would change her mind and stay with me. We could rule SBU together. Alas my dreams were misguided. Our talk had grown tense and unpleasant. The last thing I remember was SSK mentioning the name of another man, I believe it was Jason Schaeffer, Patriot contributor, and then feeling her bottle of sangria split on my throbbing skull, sending crimson liquids, the milk of her bottle and the elixir of my life streaming down my face. I awoke, leaning, aching against an adobe house, somewhere in Pueblo territory. I stood at the top of a plateau in a state of contemplative wonder. I knew I would never understand why she left me, a fair-haired, virile emblem of youth, for a retirement to Florida, a life spent on the endless emerald golf courses, sipping Pina Coladas with John McCain and Methuselah and Mickey Rooney, reading chain emails. I lifted a cigarette from the soggy, sweat drenched pocket of my shirt, which was unbuttoned at least halfway. I gave it a pull, hard and sad like a depressed tornado. As I began to walk east, away from the setting sun, I knew that I never would feel alive again. We came from such very different worlds. She was a president, me an indie rocker. She had the sweet tang of power and experience in her kiss; mine tasted of sour patch kids and intramural dodgeball. In the nine week trek back to Long Island, I began to feel reassured. I knew I wouldn’t have her back. I knew I would never hear that beautiful drawl ask me to take her cane out of the trunk. I knew I would never have a lover with as passionate a flavor for Werther’s Originals. I knew I’d have to wait another fifty years before I could get away with asking for the senior discount when I took a date to the movies. But I also knew I would always have the memories of the spring and summer of 2009. The spring and summer of Shirley and I.

32

t’s always exciting when I go to a new neighborhood. It’s amazing how much things can change over the course of a few blocks. I only stay for a day or so, that way it’s like my own little world tour. Why should I spoil only one place? I even carry a map with me so I can mark off all the places I’ve been. It just so happens that today is my last day in this place. I’ve even cut back on food this past week so I can save enough money for transportation. For my last gig, I’ve got the biggest audience ever. Should be; I’m going out in style: right in the middle of Times Square! “Hey everybody!” I yell out to the crowd as I bring out my guitar and leave my case on the floor for my pay. Some look over and walk in, some clap and wait for me to start. I made eye contact with this cute girl in the crowd and gave her a sly wink. She looked like she was going somewhere, but she giggled and stayed. I started playing, and after a bit, those who take the time out to watch are getting into it. I really don’t play any songs per se, I just play what feels right. I have covered a song or two (I love playing “Train In Vain” on subway and train platforms), and I spent the past few weeks learning something really mind blowing (especially since I have to remember over 8 minutes of song!), but mostly I pull things out of my ass. Mostly because it’s the only music that’s 100% mine and partly because I have a bad memory (“Train In Vain” was the only song I know 100%, and even then it took me 2 months). It was going just fine. I was putting all my soul into it. The slides and bends were perfect, and all the strings stayed in tune. The sun started fall, and gave me an orange backdrop to play against. Just as I was about to wrap it up and find a place to sleep, someone shouted out the song I’ve been busting my butt to get down: “PLAY FREEBIRD!” And I did: If I leave here tomorrow, Would you still remember me? For I must be traveling on now ‘Cause there’s too many place I’ve got to see. There were a few screw ups, but luckily my audience was forgiving. And as I played, I seriously considered if any of these people would remember me, even tomorrow, let alone years from now. It turned darker. It was only now that you could see the lights in all of their glory. The foot traffic picked up just as it became too dark to see. I hit the last chord and everyone standing around cheered. Some threw in the case. One guy in a black jacket gave up a 20. “You rock, man!” “You’re the best that’s ever been!” The girl from before stepped forward as I was taking my pocket amp off my belt. “Hi,” she said meekly. I responded likewise. Nobody ever talked to me before beyond “Dude, you’re awesome!” She looked like a groupie trying to blend in the professional world. Her hair was short, bristly and blond with bangs in the way of her heavily madeup face. She wiped her hands on her miniskirt and low cut blouse and extended a hand. “You’re really good. I’m Hellen, by the way. With two L’s.” “Nice to meet you. I’m…Holy crap, I think I forgot…” Wait, I do have a name, it’s just been a while since I had to use it. It’s still there; it’s just gathered some dust. “Joe. Joe Young” “So, is this where you always play?” “Nah, I play one neighborhood a day.”

I

I walk these streets, a loaded six string on my back I play for keeps, cause I might not make it back I been everywhere, still I’m standing tall I’ve seen a million faces an I’ve rocked them all! “Wanted Dead Or Alive” Bon Jovi

“How many do you have left?” “Today’s my last day.” “Oh, wow! So what are you going to do start all over again.” “In a sense. Gonna move to another city. There’s a Greyhound leaving in an hour.” “Are you ever going to come back.” “Probably not. It’s a big world. Lotsa cities, Boston, Chicago, maybe I can go as far India and busk with a sitar.” “Oh.” She frowned and started nodding. I saw her and couldn’t help but say, “Unless someone was to give me a reason to stay.” She gave me coy smile. “Like maybe if that someone was to take you out for a nice meal and a good time?” I saw that coming and I gladly accepted. Usually for meals I hit up a conveniently located diner or fast food joint. What’s helped me survive on my own for so long is this system: First, I have a huge breakfast, because fuck it, I might not make enough to eat again. A favorite of mine is usually an omelet with a side of wheat toast and orange juice. It’s filling, gives me a little boost, and is only a few bucks at all places that don’t have any French words in them. Some people need coffee with breakfast; I’m not one of those people. I get plenty of sleep, and I’m usually fine once I get some food in me. Around lunchtime, I’ve got at least enough coin to get a coffee at a corner store. If it’s a good day, I grab something quick, that way I can get back to my spot as soon as possible. If it’s a bad day, I just get the coffee with milk so it lasts longer and keep on playing. For dinner, it’s usually light because A) I need the money for breakfast more, and B) I got nothing else to do, but go to sleep.

33

THE BUSKER - CONTINUED
Hellen was probably the first person that ever treated me to anything. The closest I ever got to this kind of sympathy was when some people would go “It’s a tragedy that people like you are out on the streets.” These people usually give me a quarter at most. These people are also usually white and upper middle class. “Thanks for dinner.” I said “Aw, thanks.” She blushed. The waitress came to take our order. “I’ll have the steak.” Surprising order coming from a lady. “And I’ll-“ “It’s OK. Get whatever you want.” I’ve lived the past few years getting by on what I had, I never thought of what I really wanted. “I’ll have the steak, too, I guess.” “So, how do you manage to get around so much?” “Well, I’m homeless. Busking’s what keeps me alive.” “It’s a tragedy that you’re out on the streets.” Hey, she’s at least buying me dinner. “How long has it been?” “Well, 6 years ago, my Dad-“I had to stop. Hellen reached over for a napkin and tried to hand it to me. “It’s OK if you-“ “No, no, I’m fine.” I sighed and continued. “My Dad took me to this diner and when I thought he was going to the bathroom, he abandoned me.” “I’m so sorry.” “Well, after I walked into that completely empty bathroom, I had to walk over seven miles to get home,” “Did your mom know about this?” “Nope. When I got there, my mom was lying in the kitchen dead with her heart ripped out of her chest. I know how she felt.” “Oh my God! Are you sure you don’t need a tissue or anything?” Her eyes doubled in width. “Then what happened?” “What do you think? I grabbed my guitar and played on the streets for whatever I could get.” “Sounds like your Dad was a real deadbeat.” “Not really, we were all fine. Hell, my pops loved it when I played. He’s the one who suggested I take it up in the first place. I don’t know how all that crap happened or if they’re even connected.” “Wow.” “Yeah, it’s quite a story.” We were trying to scrounge up small talk when the food finally came. Thank God. I could tell the steak was going to be good when I was able to cut it up with no effort at all, and juice oozed out with every slice. It was very lean; I didn’t get any bits of steak in my teeth. The little bit of barbeque sauce gave it the right amount of flavor and kick. Right next to heavenly slab was a baked potato, sprinkled with brown sugar. It was soft, but not mushy. It certainly lived up to its name. I don’t think any of this would have tasted as off-the-wall amazing if my taste buds hadn’t been retarded from years of eating on the road. “How was that?” “Perfect.” I wish I could eat nice like this every day, but then again, if I did it every day, then it wouldn’t be nice. I really wanted to stay, and spend more time with Hellen, but I knew I had to move on. “Listen, I really appreciate dinner. This is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me.” “Thanks.” “But I have to go.” “Oh, well, could I get your cell-“I gave her a ‘Wait, remember what I told you 20 minutes ago?’ look. “Right, well, if you want, you could stay at my place tonight. That way you have a clean, warm place to sleep, and we could get breakfast. Then I’ll take you wherever you want to go.” I believe she was special enough to deserve some another night, but sadly my busking ways take me elsewhere. Then, she said “Please” in a way so sweet, it gave me diabetes. I agreed and she smiled. And seeing that made me smile. I reached for the check as soon as it hit the table. I knew she was going to take it, but I figured I could at least make the gesture. It was raining when we came out. I’ve had to play in the rain before. Sometimes I’d play under an awning or move into a subway, but there were times when I had to tough it out. Trust me, the “…or else I don’t eat” factor definitely helped. Mostly I’d get a few bucks just out of pity. Her car seemed like it was 1000 years into the future. It was red, sleek, and had doors that opened upwards rather than outwards. When I got in, I was expecting to see a flux capacitor. The seat was soft leather and first it was a bit uncomfortable, since my ass had to get used to the fact that it wasn’t sitting on concrete. The dashboard lit up and there was this little television that showed a map of the area. I’m still looking for the flux capacitor. Hellen caught me looking all around like a kid in a candy store. “You like?” All I could do was nod with my jaw on the floor. I buckled up and she floored the pedal. I sunk into the back of the seat as we sped back to a nice place to sleep. Honestly, I could have take a nap there it was so damn comfortable. “Pull that lever on the side.” I pulled it and the seat went completely flat. I could see through the glass sunroof. The stars were out, something you never really see in the city. We pulled up to her place, and again, I was awestruck. “Holy crap, this place must be AT LEAST 50 stories!” “Actually, we have 70 floors. I live on the 66th.” “Really? What the hell do you do for a living?” “Oh, you know, I’m just one of those big city professionals.” I didn’t press the issue further, because when we walked in the revolving door, I saw a palace. Everything was made of marble I wandered off to the side to explore a bit while Hellen checked her mail. “Um, excuse me, you can’t go through here, you’re going to have to go in through the service door.” When I looked up, the doorman was rushing over to me, waving his arms. “What?” “It’s fine, Franklin. He’s with me.” I wanted to kick that guy’s ass, but I kept quiet until we got to the elevator so I wouldn’t embarrass her. “What was that about?” “I guess he thought you were a mover or serviceman or something” “But I wasn’t carrying a toolbox or anything.” “I don’t know, I’ve heard people in this building complain that even walking out they don’t want to see any of the workers. The other day I saw the two guys who finished moving my neighbor, and they looked fine, they didn’t look like beggars, just a couple college kids in jeans and tees. But when I went down the elevator to go to work, I saw them again, walking out the main lobby. This one woman, this old... bitch, recoiled in horror at the sight of them and started complaining to Franklin.” “I’m guessing it’s because I don’t look rich.” Hellen said nothing; she just looked at the ground and frowned. She looked back up at me just as we were at her floor (Man that was a long ride!). I smiled back at her and she returned the favor. I haven’t even set foot in the apartment and already I was impressed. The 66F on the door was golden, and the handle was clean. She opened the door, showed me in and said, “Here we are!” If I could have picked three words to describe her place, I’d say: big, heavy, and expensive. There were vases that didn’t have any flowers in them, and old furniture that looked to fragile to hold anything up. A big shelf with DVDs and cable boxes and anything else you can hook up to a television, housed one of the biggest TVs I ever saw. The room had a very red tint, like someone threw a crimson sheet over a lamp. “You can go sit on the couch. I don’t know what’s on TV” Neither did I, but for a different reason. I never watch TV anymore, except the occasional ball game at a bar. In the end, I figured I didn’t need it. Hellen came over with a big bowl of popcorn. I grabbed a handful and tried some. It

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was good; crunchy, light and little sweet. “It’s kettle corn. I got it from the farmer’s market nearby.” She glanced over at the TV. “Oh, there’s nothing you want to watch?” “Hell, I’ve been without television for so long I wouldn’t know where to begin.” “Sorry, sometimes I forget about the little things you miss out on.” “Eh, it’s not so bad.” “So, anyway, tell me some more about yourself. I want to know Joe Young.” She got comfortable, and looked deep into my eyes. “You know, you’ve let me into your home, but I know nothing about you. Why don’t you do all the talking for a bit?” I leaned back and smiled. “Why? I’m giving you food, a nice place to sleep, I’m beautiful” We both laughed. “What more do you need to know?” “Everything.” “Well, I’ll see what I can do.” She fidgeted around in her seat for a bit trying to find a new position. “Shoot” “All right. What’s your last name?” “Fangel. I know it’s stupid-“ “No, it’s perfectly fine. You could pronounce it like angel.” I gently stroked her face. “All right, let me see, what’s… your favorite color?” I figured I’d ask a control question. “Isn’t it obvious?” Yes, it was. “Green!” That wasn’t. I looked around, and the furniture, wallpapers and everything else didn’t mesh with that answer. “Really?” “Joe, I’m screwing with you. Look around.” “Yeah, I was about to say, ‘What the hell?’” She laughed and smiled that smile of hers. “Go ahead, ask me another one.” “Hey, I don’t want to turn this into an inquisition.” “All right, fine then.” I tried to stifle a yawn. “While I appreciate the bed, I don’t want to be any trouble. Are you sure you don’t have to be anywhere tomorrow morning?” “Of course. I’m a bit of a freelancer. I work for this big publishing company, and I get paid to bring in clients.” “Cool. Like books and stuff?” “Yeah, but they’re looking to get into other media, like music and videogames.” “Do you like working there?” “Definitely. It’s fun meeting new people. But what I love the most is that I’m really good at it. Almost all of my appointments become clients.” “Sounds good.” I looked at the TV. “Wanna see what’s on?” “Sure.” Nothing really captured my attention. I guess I’ve been without for so long, I really didn’t get it anymore. We watched the news for a bit. One of the anchors said something or someone was going to kill us, and that we should wait until after the commercial to find out. That’s why I just read a newspaper. I can just read ahead. On top of that, commercials sure have gotten weirder in the time being. Two cavemen were standing up on this balcony at this party, and it went something like this: “What do you expect? You went with Geico.com. What to save some money?” “It’s my life, OK?” Then a third walks in and says “Tina’s here, we’re getting back together!” I turned to Hellen, dumbfounded, “What the hell was that?” “A car insurance commercial.” “Yeah, but what do cavemen at a party have to do with that?” “Well, there was this first commercial where the guy said the website was ‘So Easy A Caveman Can Do It’, the mic guy, who was a caveman himself, got offended and walked away.” “So then how does that commercial relate to this one?” “It’s the same guys…” “But how would I get the commercial if I never saw the other ones?” “Um-“, she sighed. “Sorry, I forgot again.” The news came back on. Turns out that thing that was going to kill us was carbon monoxide and it is creeping through our very homes. Good thing I don’t have to worry about something like that. I looked at the clock “Hm. It’s almost 11:00.” “Yeah, so?” “Nah, it’s just that usually, I’d be asleep somewhere be now. Latest I’ve been up in a while.” “What’s the weirdest place you’ve ever had to sleep?” “I had to sleep up in a tree once. It was in one of those areas where they’re cracking down, and I had to get creative. By the time I found a place I can lie down, I was dead tired.” “Wouldn’t you fall of?” “Yup. Fell asleep belly down on a thick branch. About a couple hours later, I fell onto some guy’s roof.” “Ouch.” “Yeah, especially when the guy started beating me with a hose.” “Well, it’s still too early for me to go to bed” “Well, what else is there to do?” “Oh! I just remembered! There’s this place nearby that you might be into!” “Really?” “Yeah, I was planning to go with a friend tonight, and then I got wrapped up with yousorry, do you want to come?” “Isn’t it a bit late?” “No, they start at 11. If we leave now we can still make it!” I couldn’t refuse. “Sure, why not?” Not like I have much of a choice… When we pulled up, I stumbled out of what just felt like a race car. She said softly, “Here we are” I gotta admit, I didn’t care where we were, it was my first night out in a while. All my friends had either moved away or completely lost contact with me since that day, and I miss that. We never had to really do anything, just joke around, and see what happens. Usually my nightly routine involves fighting off other hobos for a kind-of comfortable place to sleep. However, I wasn’t that impressed. It looked like an ordinary storefront, like it should be selling antiques, if it didn’t have the words A COFFEE SHOP planted on the front awning. “Oh, isn’t it nice?” Hellen looked around for a bit. It was kind of musty. “I loved this place!” I nodded along. I didn’t see what she I thought I saw in it, until my eye caught the OPEN MIC NIGHT banner. “You’re not expecting me to play are you?” I remembered I left my guitar in the car. “No, no, not if you don’t want to.” Good. I love playing, it’s just I need to recover today’s show. The coffee shop was kinda dingy. I guess that’s the look it was going for, but it felt cramped, even though it was pretty large inside. There was a little stage in the back with a microphone and a piano. Tables and chairs covered in crazy designs littered the floors, while people drank and smoked. We sat down at one of the few empty tables left. Just then, Bizarro World Hellen appeared. “Hellen? You made it!” They hugged each other. Hellen must have been pretty brave to touch that beast. “I know, I just got a bit caught up in things.” The creature looked over at me. “Who’s your friend?” “Oh, Joe, this is my friend, Sarah Cubus. “Hi.” I reluctantly extended my hand. Whereas Hellen was bright and bristly, Sarah was dark and dowdy. Granted, as with all girls her size, her breasts were the only thing that got my attention, but knowing that sourpuss face of hers was a foot upwards was enough to dare anybody to sneak a peek. Her face was sheet white, noticeable in even this dark room, and it was slathered in makeup in an attempt to look hot. I wouldn’t treat her like a leper because of her presence, I’d still be nice (a few “less desirable” girls have given me some big tips for just a wink and a smile). “Uh, so how do you two know each other?” I asked as calmly as I could. She could smell fear.

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“Oh, ah ha ha!” she cackled. And I think I heard a snort in there. “We’ve been friends ever since high school.” “Oh, yeah, we were both part of the school paper, and for college we both went our separate ways-” “I went to graduate school for my Political Science degree, and she decided to major in business.” Sarah pretended to gag herself with her finger. She could have afforded to go a bit deeper. “-And a couple years later,” Hellen resumed, “I found her working at this restaurant, and we got back together.” “I know! It was so much fun catching up!” She turned to me. “So how have you and Hellen been together?” I wasn’t sure if I and Hellen were really together. She showed interest, but does she want something more? “Oh, well, I just met Joe earlier today.” That dodged that question. Part of me didn’t want to know the real answer. “Where’d you find him?” She eyed me a little. I was flattered, but to be honest I wanted nothing to do with her. “I just met him on the street a few hours ago.” “Oh cool. Love at first sight?” “I guess you can say that.” Sarah sat at our table. “Oh my God, I am so psyched about tonight.” “Why?” “Tom!” “Wait, Tom? He never comes by anymore!” “Who’s Tom?” I asked. Sarah looked at me like I had two heads. “He’s only, like, the greatest musician ever!! His music speaks to my soul!” “He’s good, but didn’t he go off with some band to do something?” “Who cares, he’s here tonight!” Sarah could barely contain herself. Not that it’s easy, she needs a very large container. Just then, some guy stopped at our table. “Hey, what are you havin’?” “Um, are you the waiter?” I said sheepishly. “Yeah” Could have fooled me. There was nothing about him that separated him from the other people in the club. In fact, I think he was MORE dressed down than everyone else. I’m homeless, what’s his excuse? Hell, I’d at least take a nametag, or a T-shirt with the name of place, anything that showed he was somehow with the club. Instead, he wore a faded T-shirt with the Mello Yello logo over his sunken chest. He had no muscle, fat, or anything, but it was still a size too small. “I’ll have a caramel mocha latte with extra whipped cream.” “I’ll have a cappuccino, with a little bit of cinnamon. What are you having, Joe?” “Nothing for me, I’m good.” “Aw, Joe! C’mon! Live a little! He’ll have a cappuccino too.” I didn’t really know how a cappuccino was different than coffee, but coffee at night? I was about to object, but the “waiter” was already walking away. “He has a nice butt!” Sarah commented. I looked, but there was no butt to speak of. All I could see were a few carefully placed rips and two streaks going down the legs of his jeans. “So, Joe, what do you do for a living?” “Um-“ I looked over at Hellen for any cues if I should lie or not, but she gave me the go ahead. “-I’m a busker.” “Oh, so you’re like, poor and stuff?” She looked at Hellen with disgust. “Not all buskers are poor. Hell, I’ve heard Sting and Paul McCartney tried it for shits and giggles. I’ve met people who do it as a hobby, because they love music, and want to perform.” “Couldn’t they just do it here? Or join a regular band if they have the money? Ooh, maybe we could get a bunch of poor buskers and make a band!” “No, you can’t think-“ “I think I get what he’s saying – “ The waiter came back with our drinks. “He’s saying the since music is all corporate now, busking is the only way to go. Artists only see a little bit of that CD money, with the rest going to the evil, greedy corporate executives, and the only music that does make anything is bland crap the man dumps on to poison our minds.” “That’s not even-“ “OH MY GOD IT’S TOM!” She wasn’t even paying attention. Tom at long last stepped on stage. He, like the waiter, was a twig with faded clothes on. However, Tom looked like he cared how he looked about his apperance. Maybe a bit too much. His nails were polished. “Hi, I’m Tom.” If you were to turn his face sideways, it would have looked the letters BU. Hellen let out a woo, and Sarah screamed at the tom of her lungs. “I know you’ve seen me in my band The Shirts, but I came here, because these songs I wrote are very personal to me. I wand to share them with you now.” Sarah looked back at us. “He is such a good songwriter. This should be good.” He started to play and I started to feel pain: Hey there my baby, Don’t matter if I’m far or near, I’ll be there if you get lonely Listen to this song you hear, Just shut your eyes Listen to my voice, it’s my disguise I’m by your side It had all the makings of a bad song. It was dull (he alternated between two notes at a time). It was lame (seemed like he was making it just to get laid). Worst of all, I think my balls shrank somehow. “God, that sucked!” I don’t think I said it too loud, but a few people were staring at me. Sarah looked like I just said all those things I’ve been thinking about her tonight. I should have kept that going. “How could you hate it? It’s a sweet song!” “OMG, how could you?” “That song should be in Guitar Hero!” If I were that kind of guy, I’d punch every one of those people square in the mouth. “Excuse me,” Tom spoke up when the noise died down. “This song is doing me, you, everyone a huge favor. You see, it’s supposed to suck. All those fascist corporations run by the man want talentless hacks to play music, and it ends up sound bland and tacky. I’m satirizing them by writing a bad song, even though I’m like, super good.” “Then why not write a good song?” “Because the record companies will rape it for profit!” “I hear you can put songs on the internet. Try that.” “But then I can’t make any money off it! Besides, the internet’s all fake.” Again, this guy was begging for a mouth punch, and I’m not that aggressive, but I rose up. Hellen motioned for me to get down. I was almost fuming. “Joe, calm down” Tom was talking to the crowd about something called a MySpace page. I leaned down and whispered to her “My guitar’s still in your car right?” A devilish smile crossed her face and nodded. As she left the room, I motioned for the manager. “Is it possible I can play tonight?” “Oh, Tom was at the end of the queue. Tom was supposed to be the showstopper, but if you want to go next, be my guest.” Hellen came back, guitar in hand. “Let’s do this” I went up on stage, and introduced myself. Tom walked off to the side and tried to look tough and condescending. That’s hard to do when you’re about a foot wide. “Hi, my name is, uh, Joe. Joe Young. Uh, sorry to make a scene like that, I just couldn’t put up this guy any longer. So I’m going play a song for you now.” Performing on stage is a lot different than busking. If you mess up playing on the street, people don’t care, they don’t expect much. If you suck, people don’t care, they can always go somewhere else. You only get paid if someone’s feeling charitable. But on stage, all the focus is on you. They expect to see you play, and play well. Some people can’t deal with that kind of pressure, especially if it’s your first time on stage. The hands cramp

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up, you suddenly have no idea where everything is, and sometimes the pick falls out of your hands. That kind of stuff has happened to me before. Hopefully, all the practice will kick in, and you exceed expectations. Luckily, the street’s been my stage for the past 6 years. I played my heart out that night. I was changing everything up, throwing in a solo or three, and the great thing is, none of it sounded chaotic. Every time I throw riffs together it sounds broken, but right now, everything seemed to flow. I looked out into the crowd and saw Hellen, smiling up at me. I saw Sarah, but not too long. I could tell that even though I’m not “Tom”, she still enjoyed it. I saw Tom himself, worried that his throne had been usurped, trying to choke back tears. When I was done, Hellen and Sarah were clapping with vigor. A man in a black jacket didn’t clap, but he gave me a strong look and a slight nod. The rest of the crowd was a mixture of standing ovations, polite clapping, and a herd of boos. “That was great!” “Sellout!” I stepped down, and Hellen and I hugged. “How was that?” I was worried, because while everything sounded awesome in my head, it could have been my imagination trying to cover up my sucking. “Joe, that was better than your Freebird!” “It was pretty good I guess.” Sarah said, biting her lip. More people were cheering now, but the management looked pissed. “Man, we really hate it when the companies force these guys down our throats” the organizer muttered to the manager. “Get out!” he said. Hellen, Sarah and I left. We headed back to her apartment, and I put my guitar on her coffee table. She looked at the wall behind me. “So where am I sleeping tonight?” She didn’t respond. I repeated the question, and she snapped to attention. “Oh, sorry, just had a lot to think about today. Just dazed off for a sec. You can sleep on the couch, or-” She came in closer. “You could sleep in my bed.” “And where will- Oh. Are you sure?” “Meet me in the bedroom in about 5 mintues and you’ll find out.” I looked around to see if anything was out of place. No little green men, all the furniture was still on the ground, and after a nice pinch, I actually started to think. “Are you coming in or not?” I guess my five minutes were up. I walked in and saw her wearing next to nothing. For one brief moment, before my brain kicked in, it was awesome. She unfoled the covers and blew a quick kiss. I got on top of the red satin sheets, and she eyed me a bit more. Finally, I leaned in, she grabbed my head and we started making out. Every so often I’d miss her mouth and fumble around a bit with my hands. “Ow!” she said “What happened?” “You pinched me!” “Isn’t pinching good?” “Well, not there.” She sighed “You haven’t done this in a while, have you?” I shook my head and we resumed. Our tongues weaved around each other, and for a while, it was feeling good. She reached around my back and started to take off my shirt. I threw her down on the bed and the same. I fumbled around with her straps before she sat back up. Then I started to pull away, and think. “Hold on. Probably haven’t done that in a while either.” She took off her bra, and something inside me clicked. I dived in, gently caressing her large breasts with one hand, and taking off her panties the other, all the while kissing those soft lips. Then, we started really going at it. “Oooh…Harder…” she moaned. I did. She didn’t hold back anything. Everything I tried she went along with. My heart was beating faster and faster until finally, for the first time in years, I felt that sweet release. Morning came after what felt like five minutes. “Hey.” I said with a smile, rolling over. I didn’t see her. I heard a flush and was relieved. “Morning, Joe” She readjusted her robe and started to put some pants on underneath. “Are you ready for breakfast?” “Oh, right…” I took my time getting ready that morning. Every so often, I’d sneak a peek at Hellen, whether she was putting on her makeup, or having trouble with her socks, and could only hope… We piled into the car again and drove into the next neighborhood over to her breakfast place. It was a small bistro, and outside there were dozens of bikes, adorned with proObama and environmental bumper stickers. A tiny bell rang as we went inside, and a waitress greeted us. It was Sarah from the coffee shop. “Hi, Hellen! Hi, Joe!” She brought her clipboard over and playfully smacked Hellen. “Funny seeing you here!” “Sarah, we can stop this. I come here every Wednesday!” “Wait, today’s Wednesday?” I thought it was Sunday the way the place was so crowded. Then again, not being able to see a calendar or something everyday didn’t help. “What time is it?” Hellen looked at her watch. “Oh, about 10:30, why?” I took a better look around the place. Everyone seemed to be about my age, maybe younger. “What are all these people doing here? Shouldn’t they be at work or something?” Again, something I should have kept to myself, or at least quiet enough so only Hellen could hear. The crowd spoke up. “Damn economy!” “Freelance!” “I’m a temp…” “I believe in the whole ‘4 Hour Workweek’ thing” “I’m still in Grad school” “Freelance!” “I started a very popular blog that has amassed over 9,000 hits in the past two months!” I turned around and saw that last guy ticking away at a thin white laptop. Pretty much everyone sitting down was toying around with one of those computers. They all had this little picture of an apple on them. It was kind of scary. But then I started thinking about apples, so it was all good. “Hey, Hellen, what’s a blog?” More weird stares. Sarah finally found us a table. “Yeah, you guys should probably sit down now.” We sat down the table and started to look at our menus. Her phone rang. I didn’t bother listening; I just kept staring at the menu, hoping something would magically happen. She hung up a couple minutes later. “Who was that?” I asked. “Ugh, my boss. He said a client just walked out on his contract, and he wants someone new.” Sarah came around. “So, Hellen, Joe, what will it be?” “I think I’ll have-“ Her eyes widened and she gasped. “Joe! How about I bring you on as a client?” “Really, me? I don’t know…” “Yeah, you’d be perfect. You didn’t mind playing at the open mic night, you’ve got a great backstory, and even if you tour, you could still play in every city! People all over the world would be able to hear you, you’d have your own money!” “I don’t know, I’m fine the way I am.” “C’mon Joe, it would make look really good with my boss and I’d be so happy.” When she said “happy”, that closed the deal. “All right! I’ll do it!” “Thank you thank you thank you!” She gave the warmest hug ever. “And on that,” I said, “I’ll have the apple pancakes.” “You know what? Me too!” I wasn’t jerking around as much on the drive to where Hellen works. Either I was getting used to this or she decided to drive carefully since I’m a hot commodity now. We pulled up to a building so huge even the thought of looking up hurt my neck. “We’re on the 7th floor, it’s office H.” The doorman at this building didn’t pull the same crap as the guy in the other building. Good. I stole a kiss from Hellen on our way up. She was pleased. She came back for more and we

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started going at it in the elevator. Our floor stopped us before we went to far. When we walked into the office, my first thought was “Wow!”. My second thought was “What didn’t die to make this place?” Everything you could sit on was fine, soft leather, everything you could put something was some kind of weird wood I never saw before. Some musak played over the radio, sounded a bit like The Clash’s “Complete Control” “Oh, hi Hellen!” said the receptionist, fixing her glasses. “Who’s this?” “Some new blood. Hopefully we can get Joe a record deal.” “Well, great! Mr. Aluci will by with you in a minute.” I turned to Hellen. “So you think he’ll like me?” “Oh, Joe, don’t worry about it. You’ll be fine.” BZZT! “Jude, anyone out there?” The receptionist hit the button on the intercom and said “Yes, there is, sir. Hellen brought in a potential client.” “All right, send ‘em in” I’m pretty sure more things had to die for his office as well. There was a goat head in the corner, and a moose head on the opposite wall. “Hellen, I’m a bit creeped out right now…” I muttered. “And who’s this fine specimen?” said the man behind the desk. He was one of those guys had big, strong arms, but also a big paunch. It would be best not to anger him. “Please, allow me to introduce myself, Stan Aluci. Pleased to meet you.” “I’m Joe Young.” He leaned forward over his desk and we shook hands. I almost knocked over his nameplate. It was black with STAN A. in red gold. “Hellen, where’d you find this guy?” “Well, I saw him playing on the streets in Times Square yesterday, and he was amazing.” she said. “All right, he can draw a crowd, that’s good. You got your guitar on you, play a little somethin’ for me.” And I did. And it was good. I dropped a note or two, and it really bugged me, but as long as he liked it I was fine. “Wow. That was really good. You gotta lotta soul, kid. We could use that over here.” “So I got the contract?” “Hell yeah! Hold on…” He spoke into the intercom. “Can you bring in one of our standard con-“ “Never gonna give you up! Never gonna let you down! Never gonna run around And desert you!” “Jude? Jude! What the hell was that?” “Sorry, sir. Some kids burst in and started playing that song.” “Damn it! Hold on a sec” Stan left. We were too busy looking at all the gold and platinum records on the wall. That’s when I turned to Hellen and said the corniest thing ever: “You know, I’d never give you up. Or let you down.” She laughed. “And I’d never desert you, Joe.” “I mean it.” “I do too. Even if you fade off into obscurity and never make it, I’ll always be by your side.” “Same here. I lo-“ Stan came back in mid-smooch. “Sorry about that. So, shall we get this underway?” I looked over it all, and saw a bunch of fancy words. “Wait, Hellen, do know what this contract says?” “Yeah, he’s not going to rip you off or anything. It’s all standard.” “Sadly, the nature of the legal game is very puzzling. You know what? Just to prove I’m screwin’ with ya, I’ll give you a bigger cut of profits. I’m a man of wealth, but also of taste. We’ve been eating crap from the radio waves for too long. It’s nice to have a fine steak once in a while.” said Stan. “OK, you got me!” I signed on the dotted line. Hellen and I kissed. My heart began to beat funny. I grabbed my chest. “Joe, are you OK?” Hellen tried to keep me up. “Yeah, I’m fine just a little twinge is all. I mean, it’s a pretty exciting day.” “Perfect! Glad all is well! Are you available later at 5? Maybe we can get you into the studio today and afterwards, what the hell, dinner’s on me!” “Sure, why not?” “Great, great! It’s on 35th and 35th, you can’t miss it.” Stan opened up a black appointment book and penciled us in. “See you then!” I know I should be excited, but when I walked out of the office, I felt empty. Like when you’re hungry, but your stomach doesn’t growl. You walk around in a zombified daze, and every part of you feels heavier. “Are you sure you’re OK?” said Hellen, holding me like she was going prop me up. “Yeah, I just need to sit down a bit is all” We found a plant in one of those big concrete badges, so we sat there. “Apple?” she said, pulling one out of her purse. “Sure.” I bit down, and it tasted bland, like there was some ashy stuff and water. We continued to sit there for another 3 hours. The only thing I thought of was why I felt this way. I knew the answer, but I couldn’t bring myself to accept it. Nobody said anything. I just watched people go by: Businessmen, families, a couple kids with signs, completely oblivious to me. Hellen finally spoke up.”Joe, there’s something you’re not telling me.” I remained silent. “If you want this, us, to work, then you’re going to have to open up when you’re feeling like this. “You know, it’s just that… Just that… The contract. Music’s my life, and I’m putting into the hands of a total stranger?” “Oh, Joe” she hugged me. “I work there, and trust me, you’ll be treated right.” Suddenly, all the anxiety melted away. Our hearts beat as one. “Now, c’mon, we got a record to make.” The recording studio was an insane asylum. There was noise as you go by every room; some weepy, some warbly, some screamy, some incoherent. They put me in a padded cell with a big glass window, so everyone could look in on me. Of course, I was still wearing my regular clothes, and I could walk out at any time. “Joe, are you ready?” Mr. Aluci said through the speaker. “Uh, yeah?” “All right, play the song.” So I started to play. It sounded different than usual, but I remember hearing that the padded walls absorb sound, so I guess that was the reason. I still put in a good effort. “Wow, that was great, kid! We’ll print that, but I wanted you to play ‘the’ song.” “’The’ song? What song?” “The song on that sheet right in front of you.” “Um, that’s not mine.” “Well, try to play it, we’re just curious how you sound playing something our writers came up with.” It felt weird, but I gave it my best shot. ‘Cause we all just wanna be big rockstars And live in giant mansions with a hundred cars, The girls come easy and the drugs come cheap We’ll all stay skinny ‘cause we just won’t eat Hey hey I wanna be a rockstar I don’t care about stardom, I just want to play. And wouldn’t the point of this song be lost if I was a rock star? It wasn’t making fun of the excesses and luxuries of being a rock star (although the mansions and cars sounded nice), it was making fun of music: “I could make a good song, but why bother? I’m a big deal!” I felt dirty after playing, like my hands were small demons forced to pluck that hollow tune. The chords all blended together, slowly at first, into a monotonous drone of sleaze. I felt like after this, there could be no turning back. If my name, my face was attached to this, I could never live it down. Surely Stan wouldn’t think“That sounded great! Once more from the top, then we’re outta here.” I played it again. That empty feeling returned. At dinner, when Stan got up to wash his hands, the sound engineer was enjoying happy hour at the bar, so me and Hellen had some privacy. “That song I played in the booth, the one

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Stan’s guys wrote? They’re not going to use that are they?” I asked. “They might. Who knows? Why, I guess you didn’t like it?” “Nope.” “Well, sorry about that, but that first one you played was really good.” “I was thinking of you.” “Wow…” Stan came back, dragging the sound engineer along with him. “Sorry ‘bout that. Frank here loves his beer!” Frank, bottle in hand, said “What can I – burp- say? Ben Franklin said, ‘Wine is sure proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy!’” “Eh…you and your God…” Stan quipped. “That was about wine…” Hellen said. The waiter came around to take our order. “I’ll have the Grilled Chicken Caesar salad,” said Hellen. Frank looked kinda strange and didn’t speak up, and Frank said “I’ll take a steak, and keep it bloody.” “I’m not hungry,” I said. I wanted steak, I would have loved nothing more than to eat like I did last night, but I couldn’t bring myself around. I wouldn’t enjoy it. Later that night, Hellen and I were sitting on the bed. “Ugh, and I have to go back tomorrow…” “Joe, I think I know what would help you out of your funk…” “I appreciate it, really I do, but I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Hell, a lot’s happened in the past couple days. Maybe I just need to“ I heard a cough. I shook it off. I heard it again and I turned around, and I saw her in all her glory, and suddenly decided that I never wanted anything more in my entire life. I took her for my own, our hearts pulsing, taking pleasure in each other, and I felt like a complete person again. Five minutes afterward, I felt a little better, but wondered if things could ever feel like they did before. The next morning Hellen woke up, surprised to find that I wasn’t there. At least that’s what I’m assuming happened… I was out busking again, hoping to recapture my mojo. A small group gathered around, and I started… I raised my pick, plucked the A string and… I messed up the note. I’ve never messed up the first note ever when busking. It’s fine if I messed up somewhere in the middle, but at the beginning? That killed me. From that point on, I kept making mistake after mistake after mistake. The sad thing is I recognized a few faces from when I played Freebird the other day, and they were sad, disappointed faces. Yeah, forget that I friggin’ nailed one of the hardest song ever the other day, I guess I’m not perfect 100% of the time. I took a break around noon. I collected about five cents, but I figured since I had some walking around money, I’d get a decent lunch. Unfortunaltely, when I got back to playing, I didn’t feel it all. My hands were doing something I guess, but I didn’t get that feeling, that surge of creativity and talent I always get for the past few years. I looked at the giant clock on a nearby bank and went to the recording studio. “Ah, Joe. Just the man I wanted to see!” “I’m out.” “What?” said Stan, exasperated. “I want out Stan.” “Get out? No, you can’t get out, you have a contract! Why would you want to do such a thing?” “Listen, ever since I’ve signed that contract I’ve been feeling really weird. Whenever I try to play something, I mess it up horribly, and whenever I can play I feel empty.” “But-“ “I’m sorry. I don’t want to do this if I can’t play my best. At least we’ve only wasted one day right?” “Well, this is quite the conundrum. This is way before the contract’s period.” “How long was it? I mean, I’m new so it can’t be more than a year or two.” “Eh, bit longer.” “What, like five years? Seven year itch?” “Ahaha… Try more like… all eternity.” “WHAT? You gotta be kidding me, right? There is no chance in hell that contract was lifetime.” “Funny choice of words there, kid. ‘No chance in hell’” “Huh?” “I’m the devil.” “What?” “Take a closer look at that contract.” He put a copy on the table. I picked it up, and it read it. By agreement of this contract, the undersigned is acknowledgeing that we Owe Whatever New Yields Obtained Under Recompensation Session Over Undersigned’s Life under this contract. “When you see it, you’ll shit bricks” said Stan, confidently leaning on his desk. I tried looking for some little trick with the words, or how it was typed. Nothing. It was kinda weird how all those words were capitalized in the middle of the sentence. O, W, N, Y, O, U, R, S, O, U, L… We own your soul? “This is unbelievable!” “Ah there it is!” “This is ridiculous, a contract like this would never hold up in court! This was just a trap!” “Kid, I’m the devil. I friggin’ invented lawyers. Now, I’d like you continue our little deal, play this” He handed me a sheet of paper with these lyrics on it: Hey there my baby, Don’t matter if I’m far or near, I’ll be there if you get lonely“I’ve heard this song before…” “Yep. It’s that wuss Tom’s song.” “I thought-“ “I know, but we got him! Ah, I remember when I first discovered him: He was sitting on a couch at some frat house party, playing an acoustic guitar. Nothing special, just some lame crap, uh... ‘I Gave My Love A Cherry’ or one of those songs… A few girls were sitting around him, and I got to thinking- Hey, if this guy can get all these girls at one party, just think how many he’ll rake in if I gave him a contract!” “What happened to him?” “After you handed his ass to him on a silver platter at that open mic night, I offered him a contract. Said I was ‘down’ with the ‘indie’ scene, and let him have all the freedom he wants.” “…without a soul.” “True, but he didn’t use it play, he wasted it on mindless preaching: online, at his shows, all about how he was better than everyone else for remaining ‘indie’. Let me tell ya something kid, ‘indie’ is a useless label. Indie is what music sounds like when your head’s up your ass. He didn’t have a soul like yours: it’s alive, it’s hungry! Man, it feels good to have!” “I want it back!” “Hah! No.” That ‘no’ hit me like a shot through the heart. I had to think of something before it was too late. I remember one day my Dad came home with a bag from Blockbuster. “Guess what I found on DVD!” He pulled out a copy of Crossroads. I never heard of it, all I knew was that it starred the guy from The Karate Kid. “Joe, you’re going to love this!” he said as he put it in the player. “It’s about this kid who plays guitar, like you, and goes to the South to find out about lost song.” He popped us a bag of popcorn, and invited Mom to come watch it with us. It was last good memory I had before the diner. One line played out in my mind right now: “Ain’t got no chance Blind Dog. You SOLD your soul. Hell hounds on your trail, boy, hell hounds on your trail.” It became louder and more irritating each time in repeated. I knew there was only one way to get it to stop. I stood up and said “How about this then? I challenge you to a guitar duel. If I win, I get my soul back. If I lose, I continue to honor the contract.” “Really? All right, if you so insist.” With one snap of his fingers, the walls fell down and suddenly we were in a cave with no light other than the fire all around us, giving the place an eerie red glow. There men and women, still alive, gored with cave spikes (I forget what they’re called). They looked down in horror, crying out, “Oh, God! Please help me!” Sadly, I don’t think God could help these people, not down here. This is his world after all. “I guess I’ll start this show, Joe,” Fire flew from his hands, and a pick appeared. He

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dragged it across a guitar that sprung up from a hole in the ground that just opened up, and it made an evil hiss. He started to play, he was really good, and I thought my soul was gone forever. But then I thought of Hellen. I thought of her taking me into her home. I thought of this whole new world she opened me up to. I thought of, well, you know- My fingers flew across the fretboard, every pluck of the string perfect, every bend sounding like an angel’s cry. I was back. He laid his guitar my feet as the walls of his office came back up. It was a golden Gibson SG. “I gotta hand it to ya, you’re the best there’s ever been. You can have your soul back.” “Yes! Thank God!” “Yeah, you still have a contract, buddy.” “But you-“ “Yes, you have your soul, however you still have to work for me… in hell.” “What?” “You see, when I take people’s souls, sometimes they challenge me to get it back. Usually in the form of a rock-off. Now, I’m getting by in years, and I need a ringer for such occasions.” “No, I won’t do it! I won’t hurt people like that!” “Tell me, Mr. Young, what’s your vision of hell like?” “It looked like the place we were just in, where bad people get tortured for all eternity to pay for their sins.” “It’s not all like that. I live quite comfortably down there. Sometimes I play poker with Hitler and Capone. If you’ll play for me, you can still have a soul, and move about hell as I do, free of misery.” “Unless I count the suffering of my fellow man.” “Right. Or, you can remain here on Earth, a shell of your former self, producing records, and knowing that you can never play the same way you once did. And, when you die, you’ll roast in misery for all eternity. Luckily Tom didn’t have too far to fall, so I don’t think he’s that bothered.” “But you still lied to him…” “He didn’t have to sign with me” Then it hit me. “And neither did I…” I sank and put my hands over my face. How could I have been so foolish? All I wanted was to for more people to hear me play, and comfortable life, but here I am, staring down the devil himself. “No, you didn’t. You could have live well off enough on your own. But might I remind you, who gave you the opportunity to sign with me?” Hellen… “You’re lying! You can’t blame Hellen for this! You lied to both of us!” “Really? She’s a succubus. She shook her fine ass and you followed it right to me. A perfectly cultivated soul.” “Cultivated?” “You know that day your father left you? My work. Just to give you the blues you needed to be the fine guitarist you are today.” “Hellen would never do such a thing to me. Get her over here right now.” With another snap of his fingers, POOF! Hellen appeared in geyser of flame. She yelped. “Stan’s the devil! That contract was for my soul! My soul! He said you only liked me so he can-“ “I know.” Her eyes welled up with tears. “I’m so sorry, Joe” “If you want-“ Stan piped up, watching us from the corner, “Or rather if she wants, she can join you. You’d be together forever.” “Please, Hellen. I love you.” “I can’t…I don’t want to be trapped in all this with you… I’m sorry” She ran off crying. I felt that empty feeling again. I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t bring myself around to do it. “Tell you what, I can give you 24 hours to say goodbye to her. After that, you lose your soul until you come back here, ready for duty. Now go to her.” I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for him. After all the pain he’s caused, he grew callused to it, and now when one of his own is in trouble, he throws them a bone. I went to Hellen’s apartment, and stood outside her door. It took a couple hours to walk to the other side of town, but I should be good. As I waited for her to answer, I thought of all the people that I could say goodbye to and came up empty. Mom and Dad were gone, I don’t know where they went. All my friends from school have gone off their separate ways, and I don’t really remember anyone I played for. “Joe, I-“ “Save it.” My brain told my fingers to start, and as I started, I heard drums, chugging along like a train. I heard a bass, bouncing down the track. Then I sang: Say you stand by your man Tell me something I dont understand You said you love me and thats a fact Then you left me, said you felt trapped Well some things you can explain away But my heartaches in me till this day Did you stand by me No, not at all Did you stand by me No way I saw her tears well up. I wanted to make her smile one last time before I had to go back. “Joe…” “Yeah?” “Am…am I a good person?” “If you can treat another person the way you treated me when we first met, and he still has a soul at the end of it, then yeah.” She didn’t say anything, just smiled. I keep that image inside my head all the time. And so, my story ends here, in Hell, cutting heads against anyone foolish enough to want their soul back. I, of course, have the upper hand. Most don’t realize how important soul is when playing music, unless you put some feeling behind it, no matter what the instrument, or even in daily life, then its wasted effort. Some people call it different things, guts, pride, passion, no matter what name you put to it, you still need it. Some would say I’m doing the devil’s work. In a way, I am. However, I believe that I’m doing the work of God. I teach a valuable lesson: Soul, like integrity, can’t be taken away, it’s given away. It’s up to every one of us to protect it. It’s OK to want to be rich, or famous, but be wary. It’s more profitable to get someone to betray their work and themselves, and it’s impossible to get that back. If you find yourself in such a predicament, remember this: I haven’t lost a showdown yet. Why? I’m the best there’s ever been. And I laid traps for troubadors Who get killed before they reached Bombay Pleased to meet you Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah But what’s puzzling you Is the nature of my game • “Sympathy For The Devil” by The Rolling Stones The lyrics of the following songs were used in full or changed to fit the piece: “Freebird” by Lynyrd Skynard “Hey There Delilah” by The Plain White T’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley “Rockstar” by Nickelback “Train In Vain” by The Clash

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Stories

t was another sunny summer day in suburbia. Children were already at the pool, adults were taking weeks off to go to resorts, the moving men had been sweating buckets the day before and in one house, a man held what at first glance might have been a fur coat. “So, Jake,” Damian said, “I hope you understand the plan.” Jake looked up from undoing his belt, “understand, yes. Agree? No. It’s the most harebrained scheme I’ve ever heard of.” He threw his shirt onto the couch. Damian held up a hand, “whoa. I hope you don’t intend on changing right here.” Jake shrugged, “why not? You’re going to have to help me with it.” Damian said, “yeah. After you’ve got most of it on.” Jake replied, “oh yeah, like that’s going to be any better.” His pants joined his shirt. “I still say it’s a bloody stupid idea.” Damian sighed, “look, we knew that those operatives were going to move in. That’s why we showed up six months ago. The FLCL has been paying our bills since then and they want results fast. There’s no telling how long they’ll be here, and this was the best I could come up with. We can’t let them see us; there’s no telling what kind of photographs the IAS has. We can’t trust anyone else to do this for us. They’ll be on their guard for a night raid, but they won’t expect us to show up to the front door with a basket of fruit and a welcome card.” “There are a lot of ways this could go wrong.” Damian walked out of the room, “you couldn’t think of a better plan.” Jake sighed, “I wish I could have.” Jake took off the rest of his clothing and began to don his rather dubious disguise. He looked at the femskin version five and though the full body female costume aroused him, thinking about how dangerously stupid its use would be

I

headed off the erection that would have made it impossible to get on. He unzipped the back and sat down, first working his legs in until his feet were fully inside the feet of the suit. With that accomplished, he smoothed it over his calves and stood up. With a great deal of careful pulling, smoothing and tugging on the folds, he had the bodysuit over his thighs and around his waist. Reaching inside, he pulled his penis back and into the pocket in the crotch. He then began getting his left hand into that of the suit, and using his newly feminized left to pull the suit’s arm over his right. Now the suit’s breasts were pulling him down, and the arms and legs were constricting his semi-mannish extremities into a thinner, more feminine shape. He reached back to pull the zipper up, but couldn’t get it to move a centimeter. Damian walked in, now sporting the digitigrade back legs, tail and black-andwhite fur of a large husky. He smiled and wolf-whistled. Jake rolled his eyes, “get this zipper up, you pervert.” Damian continued to grin, “yes, madame. Let all your breath out and hold your gut in.” He pulled the zipper, struggling until it reached Jake’s upper back, at which point the zipper slid easily all the way up Jake’s neck. Jake ran his hands down his sides, “man this is tight.” Damian replied, “it had better be. You’re not exactly curvy.” He circled around and grinned again, “you are now, though.” Jake picked up the mask that had been under the suit and bent over, letting its long strawberry blonde hair hang down as he worked his head into it. He lined it up as best he could and smoothed it out before tucking the bottom of the mask into the neck of the suit. He walked into the bedroom to check that he had everything on correctly. Damian followed, his tail wagging, and watched with satisfaction as Jake started with surprise at his reflection. The suit had done its work as advertised. Jake

had been replaced with a stunningly cute female in her mid-twenties. Her backlength blonde hair was the only hair on her athletic body with only a hint of fat. Jake turned to Damian, “wow.” She said, her voice hinting at a more mature girl next door, the kind of voice that might have been doing cheers at high school five years before. She covered her mouth reflexively and then dropped her hand. She put a hand on her hip, smiled and said, “I think I’m starting to gain confidence in this plan.” Damian said, “then let’s get you dressed and made up. Then you can help me finish my own makeover.” “Right,” Damian said as he worked on Jake’s face, “just enough to enhance your innocent expression.” After finishing, he gave Jake his clothes. Jake looked at Damian as he dressed and coughed, “I note that you’re enjoying this.” Damian smiled, “I bet that if your little man weren’t stuck in that fetching set of female genitals, you’d be having a similar reaction.” Jake looked in the mirror, swallowed at the sight of a girl putting on underwear and didn’t reply immediately. “Is it necessary to wear a dress? I would have thought that this weather-” Damian cut her off, “it’s light enough. Just above the knee to show off those legs. Cut deep enough to suggest but not enough to demand. And the high heeled sandals to lengthen the legs so that the skirt doesn’t have to do all the work. I think it’s perfect.” Jake pointed at Damian. “I think you’re a sissy.” “That would hurt a lot more if your boobs didn’t jiggle when you do that.” Jake grumbled, “And I might take you more seriously if your tail didn’t wag all the time. I can’t wait to get on with the mission. At least it’ll mean you’ll have to shut up.” “Having second thoughts?” Jake picked up Damian’s front paws, “let’s get on with it.” Damian held up a hand, “wait. I

Stories

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want to get the head on first. It’ll be easier.” He swung the husky head over his own, his vision restricted to what could be seen out of the dog’s tear ducts. He fiddled with the jaw until it moved with his own, and tucked the fur into the rest of the suit. “OK, now.” Jake jammed his arms into the front legs of the husky, the paws themselves terminating the legs several inches below Damian’s arms. Jake secured them, smoothed the fur over the seams and stepped back. Damian, now looking like a husky walking on his back legs with his front out straight, bent over until his front paws rested on the ground. He put some weight on them and began to walk around, experimenting with his new posture. As Damian tested sitting on his haunches, Jake snuck behind him and snapped a collar and leash to him. “OK, let’s go.” “I don’t need a leash.” “You do if you want to avoid suspicion. I thought that’s why you bought it. I also don’t have to tell you not to talk like this.” Damian growled a convincing doggy growl and Jake laughed. “Don’t give me any trouble, young pup, or I’ll have you spayed.” Damian whimpered as best he could, then stuck his nose up Jake’s skirt. “Hey!” Jake rapped Damian on the muzzle. “No peeking.” She opened the door. “As I recall, the dog leads.” *** Marie looked out the window wistfully. While Greg was out working, she had to play the housewife in this boring little burb. She almost hoped that FLCL operatives would trail her husband back home so she could see a little action. He’d probably make her stay back so as “not to break cover.” Pig. As if she didn’t know that he slept with half the spies he took in. The female half. The doorbell rang and she mustered her Betty Crocker demeanor. Just in case, she checked the peephole, though

the odds of anything more exciting than a neighborhood council violation was remote. Her view was obscured by a giant basket, and as she watched, the basket moved and a pretty young woman with a large dog was revealed. Pretty enough and young enough to entice her husband, no doubt. Hopefully he wouldn’t get home for awhile. The young woman was obviously nothing more than another wagon in the welcome caravan. Marie opened the door. “Hi,” the girl - Marie found herself unable to think of this blonde bimbo as a woman - said. “My name is JaJamie. Welcome to Highcrest.” Marie took the basket and the hand the girl offered next. “Marie. Would you like to come in?” Jamie smiled brightly, “I’d love to. I hope you don’t mind me bringing Darryl. He hates it when I leave him at home.” Marie found herself smiling at the girl’s perkiness despite herself. She was obviously just trying to be friendly and couldn’t help what she was. “No, it’s fine. He can come in too.” As if he understood them, Darryl barked in a voice that was almost as perky in its own way as the girl’s. Welcome to the suburbs, indeed. Even the giant dogs were cheerful all the time. They made smalltalk, the girl seeming nice but not very smart. The dog had started out sitting alert, but soon had its head on its paws resting. Marie found herself suspicious of the girl. She sits oddly, Marie thought, like she’s hiding something big in her vagina. And that dog looks a little weird too. I could swear I’ve never seen him blink. Marie shook her head slightly. She was just being paranoid; a trait that was good in an agent, but bad in a suburban housewife. The girl looked concerned, “is there something wrong?” Marie forced a smile, “no. Just feeling a little lightheaded. I think I’ll get something to drink.”

Jamie replied, “would you mind if I let Darryl roam around a little? It’s not good for him to lie around all the time.” Marie said, “I’d rather not. I just got these carpets.” Jamie smiled, “I understand.” Marie thought she heard Jamie talking as she got her water, and when she returned, Darryl had his front paws on the chair and his muzzle up against Jamie’s face. Jamie smiled her cheerleader’s smile again at Marie. “Darryl’s feeling frisky today. I was just telling him to sit.” Darryl barked as if to corroborate and then sat on his haunches obediently. Jamie scratched his ears, “who’s a good boy, then?” She looked at Marie, “would you like to pet him? He doesn’t bite.” Marie gingerly ran her hand over the dog’s body. He tensed slightly, then relaxed under her petting. Marie smiled, “he’s a nice dog.” Jamie nodded, “thanks. I trained him myself.” Marie sighed inwardly. The girl seemed totally innocent, but now that her internal alarms were raised, she’d have to do something. The easiest thing would be to let the Pig handle it. He always said he knew a spy in bed, and it seemed the least harmful way to do this. As she thought this, the door opened and the Pig entered. Marie forced herself to smile again and stood to embrace her supposed husband. “Welcome home, dear.” She said. “I was just talking to this nice young lady who came to welcome us to the neighborhood. Jamie, this is Larry. My husband.” She pretended to look at the clock and be startled, “oh dear. I have to go do errands. It was nice meeting you, Jamie. I hope we can talk more another day. I’ll probably be a couple of hours.“ As she passed the Pig, she whispered, “code green, but check her out anyway. Easy mark for you.” Larry smiled his panty-melting smile and bent to kiss Jamie on the hand, “charmed, my dear.” Pig.

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*** Jake tried not to fidget in his chair as Larry kissed his hand. It had been bad enough sitting on his little man without some bloke coming onto him. Damian hadn’t been happy with the way he’d been handling things so far, but he didn’t think it was a good idea to make a move yet. He’d been so concerned about where this was going that he hadn’t noticed Marie leave or Larry come back with champagne until it had been pressed into his hand. Larry gave him another smile that taxed Jake’s willpower not to roll his eyes at. “You’re a quiet one.” Larry said in an overly smooth voice. Jake gave him another of those littlegirl smiles that this body was so good at, “I’m just a little overwhelmed. I didn’t expect this much hospitality just because I was welcoming you to the neighborhood.” Larry sipped his drink, “I value a good neighbor a lot. I really do.” Boy was Damian on point with this outfit. Jake thought. This guy will try to get in the pants of any female he sees. Jake pretended to sip his own drink while coyly looking at Larry under his eyelashes. “I hope your intentions are honorable. You’re a married man, after all.” Larry got up and sat on the arm of Jake’s chair, “don’t worry about that, my dear. Marie won’t mind what she doesn’t know about.” He leaned over and kissed her ear, “we have plenty of time.” *** Damian saw his chance. While Larry was putting the moves on his partner, Damian quietly padded out of the room in search of the documents they’d been sent to collect. He was concerned at first that Jake would blow it and he wouldn’t have enough time to search properly. He started hearing noises from the living room that suggested that he had all the time he needed and that if Jake was blowing something, it wasn’t their cover. His job was complicated by the re-

striction on his vision and that he didn’t dare walk on two legs for fear of offhanded discovery. Still, he wasn’t on the job long before he spotted the safe in the basement. He quietly locked the door and sat down at the desk, looking very odd with his front paws stuck out on the desk and his tail sticking out a gap in the back. He struggled out of those paws and then took of the head. He’d need full sight and both his hands to get the safe open. Before he began, he wiped his face with some napkins he’d grabbed in the costume’s mouth as he’d gone through the kitchen. Being a husky was hot work. He listened to the clamor upstairs and decided that being a decoy was just as bad. *** “You have very smooth skin.” Larry murmured, running his hand over Jamie’s leg. “Mmm.” She sighed. Larry’s hand wandered up and began to play with her hair. “You’re a great girl.” Jamie smiled, “you’re a wonderful man.” Larry’s finger trailed up Jamie’s spine, stopping on an odd bump. Jamie tensed and Larry said, “what, babe?” Jamie turned over, “sorry. I don’t like to be touched there.” Larry smiled, “don’t worry. One little mole on a body like this, and under your hair too. It just illustrates the perfection of the rest of you.” To demonstrate, he began to run his hands over her entire body. Jamie snuggled into his chest, “thanks for understanding.” Larry put his arm around Jamie’s shoulders, “I should be thanking you.” *** Damian heard the click and swung the safe open. He went through each page inside carefully, making sure they weren’t a counterfeit. They weren’t; these were the FLCL papers he was after. There was no photocopier not that it mattered anyway. Half the reason the

IAS wanted him to do this was to tweak the FLCL’s nose. There wasn’t a thing they could do even if they knew about the theft, and it meant taking two operatives out of the field, maybe permanently. Damian shoved the papers into one handpaw, securing it to his arm with his free hand. He then put the dog’s head back on and the other front paw as best he could. He smoothed it out with the dog’s muzzle and hoped that no one would look too closely. Nor listen too much to the tiny rustle of the pages with each step of his right front paw. He trotted into the living room and took a moment to savor the sight of his partner in the muscular arms of agent P. It looked like things were heating up again, and he debated on whether to let things take their course. No; best to get going quickly. He barked once, the signal that the mission was successful. *** Jake was resigning himself to another round when Damian gave him the all clear. He took the man’s hand off of his breast and smiled apologetically. “Sorry, lover. That’s Darryl telling me we have to go. I don’t want him doing anything to your carpets.” Agent P smiled back, “oh well. We had plenty of good times anyway.” He kissed Jake lingeringly and Jake reciprocated. It hadn’t been hard to feign arousal at first. The idea of making out with a man while he was dressed as a female excited Jake. Still, by now it was all fake; agent P had proved to be physically impressive but a total bore otherwise. He summoned up ardor by pretending P was someone else. Getting up, Jake collected his underthings and began to put them on. Agent P stood behind him, making things difficult with his advances. Jake turned around, “come on, lover. You know I have to do. Besides, your wife will be home soon.” P sighed, “I guess, babe. Here, let me help you get dressed.” Jake was surprised to find Agent P ac-

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tually helping him along, and soon enough he was clipping the lead to Damian’s collar. He hoped that Agent P didn’t notice that it was now on backwards. Deciding to give P something to think about and possibly slow down his discovery of their theft, Jake turned around at the door, flicked his hair and smiled invitingly. “I hope I get to see you again soon.” He said in his most seductive voice. Agent P was obviously affected. *** “She didn’t feel like any spy I’ve ever had.” The Pig protested. Marie rolled her eyes, “this is your ass on the line, Pig. That blonde bimbo managed to get away with all our documents. You can explain how you failed to the FLCL.” “Me?“ The Pig complained. “You’re the one who gave me code green.” Marie smiled coldly, “and you’re the one who insists that I leave the house while you ‘work.’ You’re the one who

was here when we were robbed. And you’re the one who gave her the OK and let her go.” She turned and muttered to herself, “I hope I never get assigned to you again. And I hope I never see another husky or another cheerleader.” *** They returned by a path that meandered as much as the way they’d come, Damian still playing the eager pup and Jake the cute and perky twenty-something. As soon as Jake had locked the door behind them, Damian pulled his front paws off along with his head and sank into a chair fanning himself. Jake took his clothes off more slowly. Once he was down to nothing but the suit, he made a face. “This suit is going to need a good scrubbing before it feels clean. So will I.” Damian said, “you got the more unpleasant job, I admit.” Jake summoned a smile and sashayed over to Damian. Sitting in his lap, Jake said, “I love the feel of fur on my skin. I

could so do you right now.” Damian smiled and Jake grabbed his crotch. Jake leaned over, blew into Damian’s ear and then whispered, “too bad I’ve already filled my insertion quota for the day. Next time I get to be the dog.” Jake got up and walked out of the room with an exaggerated sway. Damian sighed and began to take the dog suit off. It would need some alterations and scent treatments. The next job included an older woman who took in battered wives. Her main security precaution was a rather large male husky. Damian loved killing two birds with one stone. He figured he wouldn’t tell Jake until he was already locked into the costume. It wouldn’t do to have it come off while Spike was playing.

ear reader: The events of this narrative are based on a true story which has been extrapolated to a satisfying conclusion. When I heard the story of the furry whose mere presence brought a child out of his wheelchair, I felt compelled to reward him in prose. Chapter 1: An amazing recovery Sal looked around, carefully taking in his surroundings to make up for his lack of periferal vision. His wide blue eyes didn’t blink, but did move to always look directly at someone observing him. His white-tipped black tail swung gently as he turned, hearing a shout behind him. It had been a relatively quiet moment up till then. The most recent knot of children had already moved on to another exhibit, running faster than Sal as he sedately paced the enclosures, pausing to watch each animal

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for minutes on end. He had been watching the Leopard Cats, a particular favorite when he heard the shout. He turned to see a young boy in a wheelchair, grinning and pointing at him excitedly. As Sal began walking towards him, the boy rose, paling with the effort, but still stumbling towards Sal with the same joyous look on his face. Sal ran forward with his arms outstretched and knelt, the boy meeting him in a tight hug. Sal’s black and white furred body nearly enveloping the child and even through the fur of his suit he could feel the boy shaking; whether with exertion or happiness Sal wasn’t sure. As he let the boy go, he looked up straight into the eyes of the woman who had been pushing the wheelchair, probably the boy’s mother. He rose and they helped the boy back into his wheelchair. He held onto Sal’s arm the entire time and never took his eyes off of Sal’s. When he’d been situated, Sal stepped back to let the boy and his mother pass. She seemed about to, but stopped right next to him and said, “I ought

to thank you. That’s the first time he’s gotten up since the accident.” Sal smiled, his expression of course blocked by the similar grin of his suit’s head. “You’re very welcome, madam.” He replied, the jaw of his suit head moving with his words. “It’s moments like these that make me do this.” The woman stuck out her hand, “Nora Brooks, you must be bloody hot in that thing.” Sal offered his own, startled by the strength of her statement and her grip, “Sa Victor Falkner, sweating buckets and hardly minding.” The boy shifted his attention to the woman, “mom, can the kitty join us?” Nora looked down at her son, “now, Mike, we don’t want to be rude. I’m sure Mr. Falkner has plenty of other kids to hug today.” Sal said, “I think that I can walk with you for a little while if you like. It’s gotten quiet around here anyway,” he knelt down in front of the chair and leaned in close to

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the little boy, “besides, I think that Mike’s the most recepetive audience I’ve had in a long time.”Mike cheered, “yay.” Nora smiled maternally, “thank Mr. Falkner.” Mike cried, “thanks, kitty!” Sal gave Mike a quick hug before straightening up, “you’re welcome.” They toured the exhibits for hours, Mike talked brightly and constantly to Sal, who replied occasionally, or told him some animal lore he knew. Otherwise, Sal just walked along, enjoying the look of happiness on the boy’s face and on his mother’s as she listened to his happy monologue. Sometimes they’d stop so that Sal could interact with some of the other children, and when he came back, Mike would look even happier than before. He obviously considered himself quite special for having Sal as his constant companion. They stopped at the food court around midafternoon and Nora said, “you must be extremely thirsty. I’ll buy you a giant drink.” Sal replied, “you don’t have to.” Nora looked down at Mike, “I think that it’s the least I could do to repay you.” Sal nodded, “if you want.” They sat down, Sal sitting close to the edge of his seat to give his tail room. When Nora returned, he swept his long white hair away from the cup and worked the straw up his muzzle. Mike giggled as the ‘kitty’ drank. Nora watched him take a long sip before saying, “that’s an interesting character. Does he come from anywhere?” Sal replied, “thanks, and yes he does. He’s based off of the main character of one of my favorite book series, the Chronotis Cycle. Saliaven Chronotis, perhaps you’ve heard of him.” Nora shook her head, “I have, but I’ve never read any. I don’t read much fantasy.” Sal said, “you ought to, it’s great.” He’d had to lift the straw partway up in the cup to get it into his mouth, and now he was stuck with a quarter of the liquid left and no way to get to it. “Would you mind if I took my head off for awhile? Some people mind.” Nora laughed, “of course not. I can’t imagine its easy to drink in that.” Sal tugged on his neck fur and worked his head off, “no,” Victor replied, “but I like to keep in character as much as possible. It makes me feel more like I am Saliaven.” He looked around for somewhere to put the fursuit head and Nora said, “you can hang that on the chair if you want. I’m sure Mike wouldn’t mind sharing.” Victor said, “actually, if Mike wouldn’t mind having it in his lap, I think that would

work better.” Mike said, “cool! Can I put it on?” Victor smiled, “well, if you clean your face off, sure.” Mike began vigorously wiping his face with a napkin. “Just be careful, and don’t be surprised if it’s a little smelly in there. Oh, and don’t let the hair trail on the ground.” Mike took the head very carefully and put it on with no difficulty as it was quite large on his ten-year-old body. “Wow!” He exclaimed. “How does the mouth move?” Victor replied, “you have to work the strap over your jaw. It might not work, since you’re so small.” While Mike took the head off and began trying to find a way to fit the jaw strap over his own smaller frame, Victor began to sip from the drink. “Well, Ms. Brooks, I’m surprised you haven’t asked the standard question: why do I do it?” Nora shrugged, “I figured you’d been asked that a lot, and besides, I can see a very excellent reason sitting right next to us.” Victor looked over at Mike, who had given up and was now just stroking the fur on his lap, “yeah, the kids make it really worthwhile. Still, that wasn’t the reason I started. It began with curiosity; I was young, after all. Then it turned to true interest, and the more I got into the idea, the better it sounded. Eventually I got my first suit and the feeling of the fur all over me, of seeing that fuzzy face in the mirror, convinced me that I had made the right choice. It’s expensive, but I’m well employed and no family as of now. My expenses are few otherwise, and I count saving for retirement in those expenses. Everything has gone right since I got out of college, so it was no great sacrifice to get into fursuiting seriously.” Nora nodded, “sounds like you’ve done well for yourself. I wish things had gone that way for me. Husband dead, and now with Mike’s medical bills to pay, I’m pretty well broke half the time. I have to work nights now, but luckily I make more than I pay the sitter. If Mike weren’t disabled, I wouldn’t need one. He takes good care of himself.” She sighed, “if he weren’t disabled, I wouldn’t need the extra shift at work.” Victor looked over at Mike, “tell you what, Ms. Brooks. I really like you and Mike. How about you have him come to my place afternoons, and I’ll watch him for free. I could use the company.” Nora smiled, “much as I’d love to take you up on that, I wouldn’t want to impose. Besides-” Victor held up a paw, “you can hardly trust a man in a cat costume whom you met

at the zoo and have known for only two hours. I can imagine that would be a problem.” Nora sighed, “it is.” Victor replied, “my offer still stands, however. If you want proof that I’m not a homicidal maniac or some kind of kook, I’m sure we can work something out.” Nora nodded, “sounds good. I’m glad you understand my need for caution. I couldn’t bear having anything more happen to Mike.” Victor said, “of course. What if both of you came to see me weekends? I live in a nearby suburb; I’ll give you the address. Once you’re confident I’m an otherwise well balanced individual, we can make further arrangements.” Nora took his card, “you’re awfully gung-ho about all this.” Victor smiled, “let’s just say that I’ve met a lot of kids who want to pet the kitty, but very few who want to take him home.” He gently took Sal’s head back from Mike and put it on. “Next week?” Nora looked down at the card, hesitant for the first time since Sal had met her, “sure.” She said at last, “we’ll be there at noon.” Chapter 2: Building Trust Victor made a final check to make sure his house looked properly respectable. He’d run his Roomba and vacuumed with an upright to make sure the living room was as clean as possible. He’d even dusted the bookshelves, something he’d meant to do for ages anyway. Rolan, his black tom, watched him from one of the shelves. Victor was saved from further worry about the state of his abode when the bell rang. He’d worried that Nora would change her mind over the last week, but there she was at almost precisely noon. Mike was in front of her and when he saw Victor in a shirt and slacks he groaned, “aww. I liked it better when he was a cat.” Nora sighed and smiled, “now now. Mr. Falkner was very nice to invite us over. Don’t be rude.” “Sorry, Mr. Falkner.” Victor smiled, “call be Victor, please. And if your mother decides I’m trustworthy, maybe I can come over some time as Saliaven.” “Yay!” Nora looked around, “you certainly weren’t kidding about the disposable income.”

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Victor looked embarassed, “yeah. I was lucky. My family could afford to put me through college as an engineer. After I got out, I was hired and promoted immediately. I sometimes wonder what the company saw in me. I’m just happy I haven’t screwed up yet. Can I get you two something to drink?” Nora wheeled Mike over to the couch and said, “cokes?” “Sure.” Nora sat down as Victor got the drinks and he could hear Mike admiring his television aloud. Now that he’d gotten this far, he realized that he hadn’t actually expected things to go this well and was now stumped as to what to do next. He hoped that matters would take their own course. “Thanks,” Nora said as he handed her the glass. “I’m still not sure if I fully understand why you’re doing this.” Victor smiled as he sat down. He gave Mike the remote and turned to Nora, “I like you and Mike, and I feel like I can really make a difference to him. It feels like ages since I did something nice for someone else without expecting anything in return and I want that warm fuzzy feeling again. If by doing so I provide a similar warm fuzzy feeling to Mike and some happiness and relief to you, so much the better for all of us. Speaking of which,” he took a box from one of the shelves and handed it to Mike, “I made this for you.” Mike opened it and immediately put on the cat ears he found inside. “Neat!” Victor continued, “like I said, I have very little to do afternoons and evenenings. I may as well spend them doing something good for somebody. Since I need only come home as I always do and then entertain Mike for a few hours before you get off work, it seems hardly like I’m actually doing anything that I need to be payed for anyway.” Nora shook her head, “I’m going to end up accepting in the end anyway, so I may as well just give in now and save myself the time.” She reached out and shook Victor’s hand, “you’re on. I just hope you don’t spoil Mike too much.” Victor looked over at Mike, who was now splitting his attention between the television and feeling his ears every couple of seconds. “I don’t think that’s possible.” *** The next Monday, Victor spent part of the afternoon after work preparing for Mike’s arrival. Nora had told him that Mike would be dropped off the schoolbus, but Victor would have to be there to meet him. Taking that into account, Victor decided that it would be less than ideal for him to spend his

first evening with Mike trying to convince his busdriver that the large anthropomorphic cat was in fact Mike’s designated caretaker. Mike was mildly disappointed when he saw Victor in normal clothes again, but nodded when Victor explained it to him. “But we’ll be inside until mom gets here.” Victor smiled, “that’s true.” “So we can do whatever we want.” Victor shrugged, “within reason.” Mike looked up, “kitty?” Victor looked down at him, “if you want.” “Yay!” Victor wheeled Mike over next to the couch and sat down next to him, “so, do you want to see how I put Saliaven on?” Mike looked at him with surprise, “sure.” He said eagerly. “I hadn’t thought of that.” Victor smiled at him, “you really want to see?” Mike nodded, “I want to know everything about everything. Of course I want to see.” Victor replied, “curiosity is good. I’ll bring him in here.” Mike began to struggle out of his chair, “I want to come with.” Victor looked worried, “are you sure you’re up to it?” Mike smiled and gestured down, “if your entire home is carpeted, I don’t think I have much to worry about.” As he rose, Victor said, “don’t you have a cane?” Mike looked at him, then slowly pulled at his sleeve. Underneath, bone showed very clearly through the skin. “The doctor said there’s less left of my arms than of my legs. I do exercises, but they say I won’t be lifting anything heavier than a jar of peanut butter for weeks. Your kitty mask was light enough that I could manage, but it was actually a challenge. I don’t think a cane would help me much. If you could bring my wheelchair with and help me back in if it’s too much, that’ll do.” As they slowly made their way to Victor’s fursuiting room, he said, “you seem a lot more mature than you did before?” Mike looked at him and shrugged with difficulty, “mom doesn’t like it when I talk that way. She wants me to stay hopeful and happy all the time. I think the accident was worse for her. I’ll recover my strength in time, but I don’t think she’ll stop worrying even if I do. I try not to be too glum myself, but I think I ought to be at times.” As they walked in, Victor helped him back into his chair, “after all, I’m stuck in this thing. Pos-

sibly for another six months, maybe even a year. It could have been a lot worse.” Victor nodded, “the way you talk, it could have been.” Mike shook his head and smiled, “I ought to be excited. I’m about to see something amazing.” Victor smiled back, “I wouldn’t call it ‘amazing.’ “ Mike leaned back, “let me judge that. Oh.” He fished in the bookbag strapped to his chair and pulled out the cat ears. Putting them on he said, “OK, now I’m ready.” Victor pulled down Saliaven’s box. “Do you mind if I change into something else before I change to Saliaven? What I’m wearing isn’t exactly good for this.” Mike said, “do whatever you need to. I want to see this done properly.” Victor, somewhat embarassed by Mike’s earnest attention, stepped into his closet and disrobed quickly. He emerged wearing a skintight unitard and tights. “It works better like this,” he explained. “The first part is the bodysuit, naturally.” Victor pulled the black-and-white suit out of the box. “I have the tail attached on this one, so it’s pretty easy to put it on.” He pulled the zipper down in back and stepped into the suit, pulling it up once both legs were in. He then put his arms in and zipped it up in back. “So that’s already most of my body done. The feet come next because they’re pretty easy.” He pulled the feet on and pulled the legs of the suit over the overlapping sections of foot. “And then the head.” “Why not put your gloves on first?” Victor picked up one of the handpaws, “take a feel of this paw. It simulates a feline well enough that manipulation is tricky. See how the fingers are thicker and harder to bend?” Mike handed the glove back, “I get it.” Victor picked up Saliaven’s head, “right. As you know, my suit has a moveable jaw. I also worked in some of my own electronic components so that I can talk and hear more easily. All that is pretty much invisible from the outside, but you can see it here on the inside.” Victor tipped the head so that the light caught the innards and Mike could see. Mike nodded, “did you make this?” Victor shook his head, “no. I’m not that talented. All I could do was upgrade it with what I knew how to do, electronics and mechanical parts. I’ve been working on a fully cybernetic tail attachment, but that runs into real money.” Mike looked around, “you have real money.” “Not several million, I don’t. Stuff like a

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cybernetic attachment doesn’t come with a price tag less than that. I’d need a laboratory and help and custom parts. I’d have to prove that my work also benefited human prosthetics, and what practical use is a tail? I tried working in tentacle attachments for soldiers in the field, but no one is buying it. Anyway,” he continued on the suit, “I just move the hair aside like this and sort of work my head in.” His voice began to be muffled, “then I adjust the strap so I can move the jaw and flip this switch.” His voice began to sound clearer, “and then tuck all the flaps into the neck.” He did so. “That leaves the handpaws. One isn’t hard to get on, but the second is annoying.” He put the first paw on and pulled the bodysuit’s arm over the seam. The second handpaw went on with more trouble. Sal turned around, showing Mike the finished product, “there. Now, what do you think-” He would have been knocked over by the force of the hug had Mike not been so weak. As it was, he kept his balance and put his arms around Mike. Mike had the side of his face up against Sal. “Yay! Kitty is back.” Sal petted Mike’s head, “is this role play, or do you actually think I turn into a different person?” Mike returned to his chair, keeping one hand in Sal’s paw. “A little of both, Uncle Sal. After all, life’s no fun if you don’t let your imagination run away every so often.” He looked up at Sal with a flash of that unnerving perception Victor had noted before, “besides,” Mike said slyly, “I think you do. Change into a different person, that is. Don’t you feel different? Like an expectation of how you ought to act is not there? Like you can do anything? Isn’t there a desire to act like the character you appear to be?” Sal looked down at Mike, “I really need to get you a copy of the Chronotis Chronicle. You’d love it!” Mike laughed, “I do enjoy fantasy more than my mom. I’ve actually read some of it already. After all, do you really expect a tenyear-old to just pull all that psychological stuff out of thin air?” As Sal wheeled Mike back into the living room he said, “at this point, I think I’ll believe a lot about you.” Mike laughed, “now there’s a complement! Thanks!” Sal brought Mike over to the couch and sat down next to him. Mike reached out tentatively towards Sal. Sal turned to Mike, “go ahead, it’s fine.” Mike began to rub his shoulder and Sal said, “so, what do you want to do? I’ve got a boatload of video games we could play.” Mike grinned, “I think I can manage

that. Walking around is pretty tiring.” Mike proved to be almost as enthusiastic about competitive fighting games as Sal, though not quite as skilled. Playing using paws, however, was challenge enough to Sal that the difference wasn’t noticeable. They almost didn’t notice the doorbell and knock when Nora arrived to pick Mike up. When she saw Sal, she gave him an odd smile, “I hope you didn’t get Mike off the bus looking like that. I’d have to insist that they fire the driver.” Mike shouted from his side of the room, “he looked fine, mom! He showed me how to put the kitty suit on.” Nora’s expression softened seeing Mike and she said to Sal, “I haven’t seen him so happy since the accident, and it’s only the first day. Thank you.” As Nora wheeled Mike out the door, he turned in his seat, “I think we should work something out for the next few times. There has to be a way to spend more time with you, Uncle Sal.” Sal smiled, “with your mind working on it, I’m sure we will.” *** That Friday, Nora found the door unlocked and opened it after knocking and being invited in. The reason Victor hadn’t come to the door was that Sal and Mike were on the floor wrestling. “Well, Mr. Falkner,” Nora said, “you are full of surprises. Am I going to find you like this often?” As Sal helped Mike up and back to his chair, he asked, “do you mean roughhousing with Mike or being Saliaven?” Nora smiled, “try both.” “Well,” Victor replied, taking off his head and putting it on the couch, “for the first, Mike wanted to show me how much progress he’d been making in physical therapy. The carpet is soft, I’m pretty soft myself, so he figured he wouldn’t come to any harm by pitting his strength against mine. As to the suit, Mike really enjoys it when I wear it, and I’m happy to find someone who likes me to wear it as much as I like wearing it.” Nora laughed as she turned Mike around. “I just hope you don’t turn my son weird.” Mike snorted, “I was plenty weird already, mom. Victor just makes it so I have a place to be weird without people giving me odd looks.” Nora smiled, “if you’re enjoying yourself and getting less teasing, then I’m content. Well, Mr. Falkner, you’ve proved yourself a good influence. I hope we can keep doing this until Mike is fully recovered.” Victor put a paw over her hand, “so do I, Ms. Brooks.”

Mike added, “don’t give me too much of an incentive to stop recovering.” Nora bent down and kissed him on the cheek, “if I say we can stay friends with Mr. Falkner after you’re well, is that enough?” Mike said, “I’ll heal twice as fast!” Victor laughed, “I’ll hold you to that.” Chapter 3: Learning More The next week, Victor picked Mike up from the bus and told him he had a present for him in the apartment. Mike pestered him for details, but Victor just smiled and told him to wait. Mike saw it immediately, and almost leaped out of his chair before he remembered he was disabled, instead struggling out at a more sedate pace. Victor reached out to help him, but Mike waved him away. “I can manage,” he whispered. Mike reached the gift and slowly sank into his new electric wheelchair. He looked at Victor with surprise and joy. “It’s so soft!” Victor smiled, “I furred the seat and the arms.” Mike rubbed his cheek against the head rest, “wow.” Victor said, “I’m glad you like it.” Mike looked up, “but why? I mean, thanks a lot; this is absolutely amazing, but why bother? I’ll be up in a few more weeks, and there’s hardly any point in getting me such a brilliantly awesome gift. Not when I’ll stop needing it before the year is out.“ Victor shrugged, “I didn’t like that you were so dependent on others for mobility. Besides, you can always give it to someone who’ll need it longer when you’re recovered. I won’t mind. It’d be good to see it put to permanent use.” Mike turned his chair as Victor walked by to go to the kitchen, “and why go to the expense? I know we’re great friends and all, but we’ve only known each other a week.” Victor emerged with two glasses and handed one to Mike, “time, money and nothing to do, remember? I just want you to know how serious I am about staying friends with you. Don’t worry about it. Hey! Want to see a new suit? I know you like Saliaven a lot, but I think we can have a lot of fun with this one.” “Sure,” Mike said, about to get up. Victor put a hand gently on his shoulder, “follow in the chair. Trust me, if we end up having as much fun with this as I think we will, you’ll be glad to have conserved your strength.” Mike followed, getting used to the controls of his new conveyance. He looked with interest at what appeared to be a giant plush cat that Victor was lifting out of one of the

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boxes. A giant striped Mau, to be precise. “Wow, that looks really great.” Victor smiled as he pulled off his shirt. It had been Mike’s idea that he wear his undersuit beneath his regular clothes. “That’s Thrakmon from the second trilogy. I’m really glad the author let me use his characters.” “You’ve met him?” “Online only,” Victor replied, removing his slacks, “I always wanted to see him in person, but I’ve never been able to make the conventions he goes to.” He began to take the Arctic Tiger suit apart and then started in on putting the main body on. “As you might have noticed,” Victor said as he pulled the zipper up, “Thrakmon is built quite differently from Saliaven. Saliaven is antro or zoomorphic while Thrakmon was made to look more like the actual Arctic Tiger, including the fact that he’s quadrupedal.” Victor sat on the bed and pulled the footpaws on, smoothing the fur of the legs over the top of the feet. “That means that you’ll have to help me with the front paws. As you can see, they’re built to allow me to run around on them, but that also means that I have no dexterity in them. I can get one on fine, but you’ll have to help me with the other.” He picked up the head and put that on. He then put one arm into the top of the first front paw and with his other hand pulled the sleeve of the bodysuit over it. Mike rolled up and helped him get situated in the second front paw and pulled the sleeve over that himself. “I always meant to make it possible to manipulate in these paws,” Thrak said, his voice blocked to near inaudibility from inside the head, “but I never got around to it.” He settled down on all fours and said, “so. Ready for a ride?” Mike clapped his hands, “of course!” Thrak padded over to Mike’s chair and settled his haunches on the floor, “can you climb on like this?” Mike carefully maneuvered himself onto Thrakmon’s back, wrapping his arms around Thrak’s neck and his legs around the big cat’s midde. He took a moment to enjoy the feel of the soft fur and padding beneath him before saying, “I’m on, but not too fast. I’ve been getting stronger, but my grip isn’t that great yet.” Thrakmon rose carefully, “then I’ll take it really smoothely this time.” *** Nora had to let herself in again, and though she had expected the scene to be unusual, she was not adequately prepared for the sight of her son riding what appeared to be a large predator cat. They were facing the other direction, the cat sedately pacing down

the hall with Mike laughing and cheering so loudly that he hadn’t heard the door open. She quickly realized what had to be happening, but still had to say, “is that you, Mr. Falkner?” The cat turned quickly but carefully to face Nora. Mike laughed and said, “no, mom. This is Thrakmon. He’s an Arctic Tiger.” The aforementioned tiger sat on his haunches and Mike slid off of him onto only slightly quivering legs. The cat then stood on his hind legs and put his front ones out angled downward. Mike sighed and fiddled with one at what looked to be a joint. It loosened and came off, revealing a hand. Thus freed, Victor got the other front leg off and then the head, shaking his own and saying, “good evening, Ms. Brooks.” Nora laughed, “good evening! I see that you haven’t run out of surprises yet.” “I thought this might be a fun thing to do with Mike.” Nora watched Mike stagger back to Victor’s room, “yes, I can see it was a success. I didn’t know you wore multiple characters.” Victor replied, “Thrakmon is harder to do because I need another person to help me when I’m in him.” Nora said, “can I see one of the front legs?” Victor handed it to her and she looked it over inside and out, “this must be quite strong. Mike isn’t that light.” Victor smiled, “yes, they are. It was almost as fun to carry him as it was for him to be carried, I think.” Nora nodded, but was silent for a moment. Finally she said, “I’d better go get Mike.” Victor replied, “don’t worry about it.” “Why-” Mike rolled out of the door, “I forgot, mom! Victor bought me this electric chair. Isn’t it great?” Nora looked from Mike to Victor, shocked, “that must have been expensive!” Mike said, “I said so too, but Victor told me it wasn’t a problem.” Victor added, “it was hardly a problem for me to do so, and I think Mike will do much better now that he doesn’t have to rely so much on other people to get around.” Nora took a deep breath and let it out, “I would guess so. I don’t know how to thank you, Mr. Falkner.” Victor smiled, “maybe it’s about time to start calling me Victor, Ms. Brooks.” Nora smiled back, “I’ll take the liberty if you do.” She turned to leave. “See you tomorrow, Nora.” Victor called after her. ***

Victor had given Nora a key for when he and Mike were too engaged to answer the door, and she’d taken to entering with only a short knock to announce herself. That Thursday, she walked in to find Thrakmon sitting on his haunches next to Mike, both watching TV. Mike was absently stroking Thrakmon down the back, and as she neared, he scratched the big cat on the side of his face and behind his ear. Mike turned around in his chair and saw his mother standing there. “Hi, mom.” Nora swallowed, “hi. Victor?” Thrakmon got up and Mike helped him get out of his front paws and head. “Hello, Nora,” Victor replied. Nora said, “could we talk a moment in the kitchen?” Victor shrugged, “sure.” Nora led and when Victor arrived she said, “I’m uncomfortable with the idea of my son petting you like that.” Victor nodded, “ah, yes. It might look a little odd. It’s totally innocent if you think about it, though. Mike is acting as if I was any other cat, and I admit that it feels good. Besides, a hug is a lot closer than being scratched on the back through several layers of fabric and fur.” Nora replied, “yes, but it’s still a little unusual. I’m his mother, and I hope you understand if it makes me nervous.” Victor nodded, “of course, Nora. If it is your wish, I shall try to make sure he doesn’t anymore. Still, you may want to talk to him about this. I wouldn’t know what to do if he got insistent about it.” Nora nodded, “yes. Much as I hate to say it sometimes, Mike is a very responsible ten-year-old, and headstrong as well. I’ll talk to him about it, and if he still wants to, then I trust both of you not to do anything worse.” Victor smiled, “of course we won’t. I reaffirm to you that my intentions are honorable, and my behavior as innocent as that of the creatures I portray.” “Thanks for understanding, Victor. I’m glad we can talk like this.” Victor smiled, “I ought to be thanking you, Nora. You trusted me to take care of your only son and didn’t lose your cool when you saw him physically stroking me. You came in here, allowed me to explain and even accepted that our behavior was that of a boy towards any other housecat. You’re a very remarkable woman.” Nora laughed, “and you are a very strange man, Victor Falkner. I can’t believe I just had a serious talk about child care with a man who is wearing most of a cat costume, and that I only really noticed now. In less than two weeks, you’ve managed to change

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my entire perspective.” “You’re welcome.” Mike rolled in, “are you ready, mom? Did we do something wrong?” Nora smiled at Mike, “I’m ready. And no, I don’t think either of you did anything wrong.” Chapter 4: Nora has her turn Nora watched as Victor, dressed as Thrakmon, trotted around the room with Mike happily cheering him on from on top of him. Nora sat on the couch drinking a soda, and as Thrakmon passed her, she reached out and put her hand on his side, stroking him as he passed. “Mike’s right,” she commented, “you really are soft and pettable.” Thrakmon turned around and padded up to her. Looking up, he said, “getting in on the fun, are we?” Nora smiled, “just trying to find out what my son sees in all this.” Thrakmon sat and Mike slid off and slowly walked back to his chair. Nora watched him, “Mike’s been getting a lot stronger.” Thrakmon climbed up onto the sofa next to Nora and curled up like a cat, “yes, he has.” Nora looked at Victor, “it’s still a little weird talking to you like this.” Victor sat up and adopted a more human position, “better?” Nora reached down, “I think I’d rather talk to a human face.” She helped him out of his paws and head, and his posture looked a great deal more natural without his front legs reaching almost to the floor. “Better.” She laughed, “I must have been crazy to let Mike convince me to take him here on a Saturday and then stay. Still, I like how you showed me how it all put together.” “You’re welcome.” Nora smiled, but stayed silent. Mike began watching TV and Nora finally said, “the old sitter has been practically begging me for another job. I broke down and told her she could watch Mike tonight. I figured it would be nice to get out for a little while. I’ve saved enough from not having to hire her all week to afford this much. How’d you like to join me for dinner? My treat.” Victor smiled back, “I wouldn’t feel right having you pay for everything.” “You can pay half.” “You’re on.” Victor absently brushed the fur on his leg, “I guess this isn’t the proper attire.” Nora laughed, “not unless you know a place I don’t.”

“Well,” Victor said speculatively, “I might. I also might have something that would fit you if you want to try it.” Nora punched him lightly on the arm, “let’s try something more traditional.” She put a hand on his arm, “yes, indeed, Mike’s right. You are really pettable like this.” Victor’s eyes shone, “I might take that the wrong way.” Nora’s expression mirrored his, “I assure you, Victor, that my intentions are as innocent as the animal I portray.” *** Nora arrived precisely on time as usual. She greeted Victor and then paced around him, examining him from all angles. “Very good. Nice suit jacket, no visible ears or tail. The jacket’s a little fuzzy, but that’s all right because it’s velvet.” She stepped back, “Black jacket, pink shirt and black pants. Yes, quite acceptable.” Victor leaned over to the side, quickly surveying Nora’s black skirt and pumps. “I suppose it’s considered bad manners for a man to check for tails on the first date.” Nora laughed, “so this is a date now?” Victor replied, “I’m dressed up, you look absolutely amazing. We’re going out to dinner. Sounds like a date to me.” Nora said, “I thank you for the complement. It’s interesting to hear what your concept of ‘dressed up’ is.” Victor offered Nora his arm, “shall we?” Nora took his arm, smiling. “Lets.” *** Dinner went well, and as they conversed, Nora realized that Victor was both more and less strange than she had thought. Sometimes they’d go for half an hour of conversation in which Nora would forget Victor was abnormal, and then he’d say something that she found absolutely weird. Oddly enough, however, Nora found herself laughing, agreeing and even sometimes replying in kind. She had been afraid he’d be awkward, but she had to admit she was enjoying herself. For his part, Victor was ecstatic. He’d never been much for dating or romance, although he always wanted to try. The fact that he was now having dinner with a charming female, and that she had actually asked him often left him feeling like something had to be wrong. Things this good just didn’t happen to him. He tried not to blow it by saying anything too odd, but even his occasional slips seemed to be taken well, and he eventually stopped worrying. Nora had insisted on driving, so when she dropped him off, Victor felt required to offer some hospitality. “Would you care to come in for a few minutes? I know it isn’t exactly a short drive back home.”

Nora got out of the car, smiling, “you don’t even know where I live. I never told you.” Victor shrugged, “it can’t be so close that you wouldn’t want to take a break before continuing.” Nora said, “well, the sitter isn’t expecting me back for another half hour, so I suppose I can join you for five minutes.” Victor smiled and offered his arm again, “shall we?” Nora laughed and joined him, “lets.” Five minutes turned into ten, then to fifteen. Nora was enjoying Victor’s company so much that she almost didn’t get up when she noticed what time it was. Her thoughts turned to Mike, however, and she decided she’d better go. Victor accompanied her to her car and before she got in, he bent and kissed her hand. “I hope we can do this again soon.” Nora kissed him on the cheek, “so do I.” Chapter 5: A fun little secret Mike showed up at the front door, standing up without any sign of weakness for the first time since Victor had met him. “The doctor says I don’t need a wheelchair anymore,” he announced. Victor hugged him, “that’s great news!” Mike walked slowly to the couch and sat down, “yeah. I still can’t run much or anything, but it’s a great improvement over being stuck going everywhere by ramp and elevator.” Victor smiled, but his voice betrayed some sadness, “does that mean you’ll be taking care of yourself now?” Mike smiled up at Victor, “not yet. Mom wants to make sure I’m completely recovered first, and I’m not going to argue. I love coming here.” Victor smiled back, “I’m glad you haven’t gotten bored.” Mike shook his head, “it’s been longer than I’d thought, but I can never get bored with you around. Even after a year, you still manage to surprise me. With your help, I’m done with my homework in record time and then all the things we do together never get old.” Victor shrugged, “well, then. I was going to show you something new today, in celebration of this landmark. But if that’s the way you feel-” Mike nearly jumped up, “oh no you don’t! What is it?” “Follow me,” Victor replied. As they entered Victor’s room, Mike asked, “is it a new suit?” “Not exactly new,” Victor replied, “just

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something that I’d like you not to tell your mother about. She might get the wrong idea.” Mike snorted, “you two have been dating for almost a year, you know. I doubt there’s anything strange enough to make her change her mind now.” Victor pulled out one of the boxes, “don’t be so sure.” He pulled the suit parts out and laid them on the bed. Mike looked at the bodysuit that was keeping much of its shape despite not having a wearer, “you naughty man. I didn’t know you went in for crossdressing too.” Victor smiled, “see? There’s plenty you don’t know about. This is Jamina, book-” “Book four,” Mike said, “I know. I thought I recognized her there. Nice.” “I’ve also got Marlene, but I don’t want to scandalize someone so young.” Mike wolf-whistled, “Marlene! You pervert.” Victor began to put on the bodysuit, “that may be the first time you’ve ever called me that.” Mike said, “it’s the first time you deserved it. Jamina’s one thing. I can see enjoying some time as her. But Marlene’s a bit on the oversexed side, isn’t she?” Victor laughed, “only a little.” He reached back and zipped up the bodysuit. “What do you think of this one so far?” He sat and began on the footpaws. Mike replied, “you’ve certainly got a good figure now.” They both laughed. “Really, though, from what I see it’s a pretty close fascimile of her. I always imagined Jamina went in for a really big fluffy tail, and the bright coloration is about right.” He grinned, “you’ve added some to the chest, however. As I recall, Jamina was not a very curvaceous vixen. Quite the opposite, she was always complaining about being underdeveloped.” Victor began on the head, “well, when one is doing drag, one has to make changes sometimes. My natural body needs a bit of extra help to pass properly.” As Victor put on the handpaws, Mike said, “I note that this one doesn’t have a voice booster.” “Actually it does,” Jamina replied, putting a claw to her neck, “I just didn’t want to turn it on yet,” she said, her voice now the tones of a shy teenage girl. Mike whistled low, “that’s good. I assume an addition of your own.” Jamina nodded, the features of the head

and her own gestures making it seem like she was embarassed by the praise. Mike said, “if I were a couple of years older, I’d probably be attracted to you. As it is, I’m- well hell, I’m attracted anyway.” Jamina replied, “thanks I think.” Mike looked at the clock, “I’m not exactly sure what to do, but if you want to change back before mom gets here, we’ll have to do it fast.” Jamina laughed, “it’s a good thing I’m not Marlene, or I might have taken that as a proposition.” Mike put up a finger, “you can’t pull that one. Marlene herself said she doesn’t rob the cradle.” Jamina said, “true. Well, I actually just wanted to show you what a pretty girl I am. If you’d rather have Saliaven or Thrakmon, I understand.” Mike replied, “and pass up the chance to hang out with an attractive female who just said she only showed up to show off? I think not. Come on, we’ll go to the living room and see what we can do.” *** Nora walked in and didn’t even slow down when she found her son sitting next to a sexy vixen playing video games. “Well, Victor,” she said, “why has this never come up on a date?” The vixen nearly leapt a foot in the air. Jamina spun around, her black hair spreading out behind her and her tail thumping her chest as she stopped, “Nora! We didn’t expect you to be back so early.” Nora looked at Mike, “you didn’t tell him? Shame on you, Mike.” Jamina looked at Mike, “you knew she’d be here early today? You little sneak!” Nora held back a laugh, “and how long has this been going on?” “Just today, mom,” Mike said, “isn’t she adorable?” Nora looked into Jamina’s wide green eyes, “yes, indeed she is. Victor, I can’t believe after all this time you’d think I’d find this anything more than a new development. She twined her arms around Jamina, “you’re a furry, Victor. Exactly how can you put ‘crossdresser’ as a higher offense?” She dug at Jamina’s neck, raised her face slightly and kissed Victor on the mouth, “you really are adorable.” She stepped back, “I think I like this one best.” She pronounced, and as Victor attempted to find something to say, she took Mike and left.

Epilogue: Much later Mike put his latest test down on the coffee table, “another ‘105’. This is really all too easy.” Victor looked up from his book, “yeah, well. I hope college challenges you.” Mike grinned, “I hope you remember our agreement, dad.” Victor replied, “you mean about the prom. Well, I suppose since you went to the halloween dance male, you can do this. I still can’t believe they’re making the prom fancy dress.” He snorted, “good god I envy you, young lady.” Mike laughed, “so I can go?” Victor said, “tickets on your bed, you mom’s been out shopping for a dress all morning.” Mike hugged his father tightly, “thanks! You’re the best. I’m such a lucky young woman.” Victor said, “you can be the second, but try not to achieve the first. Prom night sex is overrated.” Mike laughed, “like you’d know!” Victor closed his book, “I’ll have you know that I- look, I’m not getting into that. Who’s the young man?” Mike shrugged, “Sean.” Victor nodded, “your best friend. He knows about all this, I assume.” Mike rolled his eyes, “he wouldn’t be my date if he didn’t, dad. I think he wants a suit of his own, actually.” Victor looked up, “hoping for a matching pair, are we?” He sighed, “he’s a responsible enough young man, I suppose. He can borrow Saliaven for the night.” Mike clapped, “yes! Don’t worry, either. I picked him because he’s that responsible. He’ll have me home by midnight and no funny stuff unless I ask for it.” Victor closed his eyes, “I’ll try to ignore the qualifier there.” He sat up, “want to go cheer some kids up at the zoo?” Mike smiled, “Yeah, dad. That sounds great.”

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o the class of 2009: congratulations on your graduation. Welcome to the world. As a graduate myself, I am right there with you in your excitement. I am also right there with many of you in your confusion. I am with you in your questioning at this time of great decisions. I am here in the process of deciding what it means to be an adult. As I applied for graduation this year I found myself in what felt like a crisis. I am graduating with the GPA that was my distant personal goal at the beginning of freshman year. At the end of senior year I realized that this goal meant very little pragmatically speaking. I did not feel deep pride for achieving it. If there is one thing my undergraduate education has taught me, it is to question. I needed to ask, What does this number mean in the world outside of academia? When does it become significant? Like any good product of the university system I began my questioning by classifying my blasé response. The psychology student in me told me it was the result of a tendency to attribute success to external, transient factors as opposed to stable and internal (typically male) factors. The sociology student in me told me that it was related to a cultural phenomena of an overachieving middle class, who sees education as a necessary commodity. The women‘s studies student in me told me: This is because of patriarchy. I then came to the big questions. What does our education mean? I am not guaranteed success nor are you. Achieving a numerical goal has not, and will not, bring me lifelong happiness. I mourned the end of my college experience upon realizing this. I listened to “Winter Kills” by Yaz. I listened to “Winter Kills” by Dune. Did you know there are actually multiple versions if this hell on earth? I progressed, more rapidly than expected to listening to Gethsemane from Jesus Christ Su-

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Upon Graduation
Rachel Futtersak
perstar.I finally channeled the positive by watching lectures from the TED (technology, entertainment, design) conference as I often have this year. Eve Ensler’s “idea worth spreading” deals with happiness. Ensler, when describing what she has learned through her work, says “Happiness exists in action, in telling the truth, in saying what it is. Giving away what you want the most.” I finally understood. We are not guaranteed anything. We have an education now. For better or for worse this does not grant us any privileges. The world, after May 23rd, will not automatically give us recognition for our academic success. The value of an education, of a successful education, can not be seen immediately. The value is seen in what we take from our it and how we give it away. It is not our right to impart our knowledge and the ability to question in search of truth on others. It is the definition of success. However we choose to do this, it is our responsibility. What appears to be a crisis upon graduation is often rooted in recognition of freedom. True limitlessness is paralyzing. It keeps us feeling trapped, certain that there is a correct course to follow. Many of us hide behind plans to which we are not truly committed. We starve off the sovereignty that when acknowledged, obliges us to act. Powerlessness is a fallacy. Entrapment, the fantasy. There is sanctity in acknowledging freedom that hurts like bee stings; piercing, calling for attention, impossible to ignore. Feel them. This is what it means to be educated. Congratulations fellow graduates. Obtaining principles of knowledge is reason for contentment and a feeling of great achievement. My wish is that as you enter the world you will remember that giving them away is happiness, is true success.

Manip by Jason Wirchin

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ompetitions between Revolutionary Presidents and slamming tiny bowls of fried rice. This increases my anger. and the Developmentally Disabled I resort to stomping on M’s foot as the Hibachi chef from Jersey sings “What is love” with an accent. Wrong foot. I put my I had been waiting for a competition of this head down and let tears drop into my Miso soup. I then cry nature to happen for years. In moments of past harder due to the redundant nature of crying into a soup that solitude, I often found myself asking the ques- is essentially, a bowl of liquid tears. While we all know that tion “When will a president who has been defined by one com- there is nothing better than standing your ground against the ponent of his identity and who has been shaped by culturally mockery of a culture while in an environment that is in itself a imposed assumptions, be challenged to a bowling duel by mockery of an entire culture, I deem this ruined. Terrible. someone in the Special Olympics?” It finally happened. Barack Obama mad a boo-boo. He compared his bowling score to 5) Puppies- I truly enjoyed puppies. That is until I realized that of the differently abled on national television. In doing the untapped potential that they possess. The scientific comso he made an assumption. The public outcry was quick and munity has utilized their recourses to create puppy/sea amenibrutal. The challenge, when it was finally made, seemed ex- ties. They do all the base puppy activities, only while glowing. ceedingly threatening. Luckily this was overshadowed by the Now regular puppies just seem like unfinished prototypes. president’s next blunder, the AIG bonuses, which Times Op-ed They are therefore ruined. contributor Frank Rich proceeded to refer to as Obama’s “Katrina Moment”. 6) Marlee Matlin- Ms. Matlin, the hearing impaired actress The grand competition of my fantasies- ruined. of Child of a Lesser God fame, was an inspiration to us all. Op -ed contributor Frank Rich -ruined (on the bases of She has recently joined the ranks of celebrities such as Maureen comparing a financial blunder to a denial of human suffering McCormick in publishing a memoir that will tarnish my image that resulted in death, exposure of racial inequity, and the of her forever if I pick it up. She now has a book in the genre longest Spike Lee film yet) of celebswithdespicablepastsweusedtoidiolize. Literature, a Bowling-still fun. loose term in this case, should ideally self-regulate and destroy this book so that I will continue not to read it. 2) Dora the Explorer If you have not yet heard, Dora, the Mass commercial non-fiction-ruined progressive, non-body conscious, bilingual, little explorer is Marlie Matlin-lalalala I can not hear you. You are still getting a makeover. The new Dora will be unveiled by Nick- great. (I know you can not hear me either) elodeon this year. This has many feminists up in arms. The new Dora is older. She has thinned out considerably and appears to 7) American Idol- Immunity is collective this season. There be wearing lip balm as well as shoes that are clearly unfit for is no one I can criticize. We have Scott who is blind and thus rigorous exploring. Who will be a role model for our girls? I immune. Megan Joy who is immune due to having two names hereby deem feminist minded critics… ruined. While you were and being ridiculously hot . Danny-immune due to tragically debating the progression of eating disorders in cartoon char- dead wife. Michael’s immunity is directly related to the fact acters the Taliban was directing their anger towards American female soldiers and 300 Afghan women marched through Kabul. Also the Times ran a slideshow detailing Michelle Obama’s approved new role as first lady. She finally dropped that whole Harvard graduate shtick. She now gardens, cares for children, and cuddles with her dog Bo. Amateur feminist journalists- ruined The Times picture book for women who can’t be bothered with troublesome words-In tact Dora - Usted no necesitó el cambio (You didn’t need the change) 3) The Part Time Pirate Defense Mainly because all of my pirate jokes have been stolen. Also, pirates are very serious. 4) Hibachi Chain Restaurants There is no place better suited for passive aggression than a Hibachi restaurant. I recently got in an argument with my significant other, M, on the way to one of these chains. It goes like this; M makes a reference that includes a racial epithet. I get slightly mad. After being sat at a table with 2 other couples I am forced to express my anger while smiling, stealing edamame out of this hand,

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10 Things That Have Been Ruined for Me this Month… That I will now ruin for you
Rachel Futtersak

Manip by Jason Wirchin

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number 3. I like my judges in groups of three or in multiples derived from this. We all know who the real winner here will be- young unwed mothers who just have to sing-you go girls. 8) Tea Parties that are really protests-They were much more romantic when the attire included bonnets. 9) Beauty Queens and Gay Marriage Proponents- Now I thought these two would be a good match for each other. Clearly, such significant sources of cultural debate would be a perfect Pair! I thought I remembered the old saying going: Pageants and Gay marriage go together like peanut butter and Jelly . I remembered incorrectly. It was beauty queens and gay marriage, ruined. 10)And the final ruined thing…. Anxious attachments to crime fighting turtles According that he looks like Todd Palin (a significant figure for Idol’s to New York Magazine I now have no excuse for my many key demographic). We also have Anoop-immune due to likeproblems. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles showed up to the lihood of being mistaken for a Stony Brook grad student. And empire state building for their 25th anniversary honors and they finally there is Adam-immune because Johnny Cash always showed up on time. used to say he wished Ring of Fire sounded more like a Mars Volta, Radiohead, Muse mash up tune! Only without the good parts of any of those bands. Also, I perseverate on the

“We are Stardust, We are Golden”; In Support of an Ecopsychology
Rachel Futtersak
disorder. These are health issues that, at their current level of prevalence, have not been seen before. They have probable, evidence based environmental etiologies. It is therefore in no way radical to view these health problems as the symptoms of a preventable yet truly immense crisis of toxic production and consumption. This forces us to ask, Is this consumption problem a symptom of a larger, collective human problem? The existence of toxic cosmetics may be a symptom of a relational problem with the earth. An environmental strategy that fails to account for our contemporary, cultural conception of the natural world fails to examine the nature of who we and what it is we are trying to salvage. A mutual understanding of this is instrumental in determining our motivation for urgent change. Ecopsychology proposes that “The deep and enduring psychological questions—who we are, how we grow, why we suffer, how we heal—are inseparable from our relationships with the physical world. Similarly, the over-riding environmental questions—the sources of, consequences of, and solutions to environmental problems—are deeply rooted in the psyche, our images of self and nature, and our behaviors.” (John Davis at Naropa University). It defines “ “sanity” as if the whole world mattered “(Theodore Roszak). A perspective rooted in ecopsychology examines our very ways of seeing, of perceiving, and consequently of conceiving ourselves. Can human beings be healthy in a culture that denies them their very nature, the home where they came from? How does our inner world of human consciousness relate to our treatment of the natural world? Ecopsychology proposes that in an interconnected world, the wounds of the earth are intricately entwined with the despair of humanity. When we look to them in isolation, we cease to heal either. Continuum between human distress and planetary suffering appears to be a radical thought in a culture where body and mind are separate entities and the earth is inanimate. We aturday Morning: I am sitting at a Starbucks. I am running my tongue against the aspartame coated, green plastic straw in my coffee fanatically, as those of us caught in a constant monologue of denial and sustenance do. The cup bears a picture of a woman, an earth mother with flowing hair. The flat screen, digital television to my right tells the story of my coffee. It was gleaned from a third world country, a nameless producing country in this particular clip, where blue blacked skinned children smile. My cup tells me that by buying coffee “good things happen”. “Congratulations, you.” is printed on it’s disposable sleeve. I have been given permission to feel content about this choice of cooperate beverage. I am here today researching toxic cosmetic products, known carcinogens that a lack of clear legislature allows to be marketed and distributed in mass quantities to the American public. I have been doing this research, albeit half heartedly, for weeks now. I have been troubled by my lack of passion for this research on a mass assault of human rights, hidden in a web of complex, inaccessible language. As of this morning, I realize why. Looking at current consumer products as a public health concern, while undoubtedly essential work, is scratching at the surface of a troubling fundamental problem. Why is the environmental crises and related public health crises not perceived by the general public as truly urgent? Why are we working, product by product, within the system of consumption that is at the root of the problem at hand? The short answer is that this is compulsory. The only paradigm we have to work in as Americans is one of aggressive consumerism followed by conspicuous validation. The longer answer, requires a conscious shift in thought. Our current generation is marked by childhood cancer, by autism and by what appears to be explosive rates of psychiatric troubles such as depression, anxiety, and attention deficit

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must remember that we have shaped our human minds to perceive nature as inert. Is environmental destruction a natural yet dangerous consequence of this dualism and if it is, can we change it at the level of collective cognition ? This shift may proceed what has become necessary behavioral change. Seeing ourselves as interconnected partners, entwined with the earth, endows us with true compassion . With the development of “green consumerism“, conspicuous consumption has been reformed. We, citizens of the earth, are aware that our human actions have led to degradation of the environment. There is a broad consensus that this has global devastating effects. We have approached this with a cry towards cooperate responsibility and organic products, some of which are truly better alternatives, many of which are not. A quick Google search on “greenwashing” brings up 575,000 results on companies that are promoting environmental friendly products that are either harmful or a cover-up for other detrimental operations. Where is the solution that motivates people towards true environmentalism? Columbia University is currently looking at how we make the decision to consciously “go green” in relation to individual risk assessment. While this is valuable research, it fails to recognize that conception of the earth in human minds, while often mistaken

pril 22nd was Earth Day and on this day we are meant to celebrate the earth. One might think that celebrating the earth would involve spending time outdoors and appreciating nature, or perhaps giving back in some way by planting a tree or picking up litter. In reality, it seems that to many Americans celebrating the earth involves taking advantage of “Earth Day sales” and buying “green/eco-friendly” merchandise. I was so appalled after receiving several emails from companies inviting me celebrate the earth by shopping their Earth Day sales, that I decided to google “Earth Day sales” and see how many companies were redefining Earth Day as just another excuse to shop. It turns out it is quite a few: 20-50% off at Vitamin World (“Here’s to a healthy planet and a healthier new you!”), Earth Day Organics sale at PotteryBarn.com, eco-friendly mattress sale at NuRemMattress.com, 50% off “green” hotels from travelocity.com, 25% off Earth Day items at the Discovery Store, Home Depot gave away free CFL light bulbs to lure shoppers into the store, Rack Room shoes gave away free reusable shopping bags to the 1st 200 shoppers who purchased shoes, organic, handmade, and bamboo clothing was on sale at Seed & Sow, Erge, Cultural Cotton, TenThousandVillages.com, Etsy, and probably every other online retailer that carries such products. Such a blatant promotion of consumerism on Earth Day caused me to consider America’s so-called “response” to anthropogenic climate change. Many Americans feel that by “being green” they are personally putting an end to global warming. But what does being green mean in this context? It means shopping. It means throwing away all “non-green” clothing, appliances, furniture, carpeting, reusable water bottles, cars, toys, towels, light bulbs, and buying brand new, fancier, more expensive, “green” replacements. Throwing away perfectly functional merchandise and buying replacements simply is not “green”; the green trend is just the newest manifestation of perceived obsolescence, and Americans are more than

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for nature, is a product of formative history and cultural specificity. As generally well intentioned green consumerism is subject to criticism, the larger environmental movement must be as well. There is currently a move towards environmental careers among my fellow graduates. This is encouraging. However, what is the danger in delegating the job of environmental reform to political elite and to those who will become a class of educated elite? How does this play into a dialogue of separation and domination ? People educated within an institution, within a particular Western paradigm may realistically own the rights to decide the earths fate, a fate in extractible from our own . With this possibility looming, our relationship of hierarchy and dominance to the natural world and consequently to each other is of great concern. This morning, in the coffee shop, it is time to leave. As my brain signals to my body to stand my muscles responsively expand and contract. I yield into the linoleum covered ground briefly before I push myself up from it. I am blood . I am sinew. As quickly as this realization comes, it passes. I clear my throat to retrieve it, emit a guttural sound. Saturday morning and we are transient animals in our plush purple chairs. Kings and Queens of the planet, suffering the consequences.

"Green is the Anti-Green"
Margaret Mars, School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences
happy to respond accordingly. After 9/11, President Bush told Americans that the best thing they could do for their country was to go shopping, and Americans shopped to save their country. Now, Americans are shopping to save the world! It is quite obvious, however, that just as shopping after 9/11 did not prevent a bloody and ridiculously prolonged war, shopping will not stop global warming. In fact, this new green trend is the antithesis of the original concept behind being green. If the green trend is the anti-green, the question arises: What can one do to be truly green? The answer, or at least part of it, is nothing. Producing new products, eco-friendly or otherwise, uses raw materials for the product and packaging and uses energy for manufacturing and shipping, all of which take a toll on the environment. Therefore, buying new things, regardless of how they are marketed, is in no way going to curb global climate change. Conversely, using what one already possesses until it is absolutely nonfunctional and then, and only then, disposing of it properly and replacing it with a more ecofriendly model is the most appropriate course of action. Of course, not every aspect of the green trend is evil. Reusable shopping bags are a good idea, as long as those produced from petroleum products are avoided and new ones are not purchased on every trip to the store. And, recycling is nice. Kicking the bottled water habit and using reusable bottles to drink tap water is beneficial, if these reusable bottles are not discarded every time a particular model is branded as dangerous. The most important thing is to think and not blindly follow trends, no matter how altruistic they may seem. I recently saw a poster with a recycling symbol that in addition to proclaiming “reduce, reuse, recycle,” it also encouraged one to “rethink.” Perhaps this is the key to combatting climate change; Americans need to rethink their modus operandi. Adjusting old habits will not provide a solution, we need an entirely new mindset.

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have always wanted to be a writer. As a child, I longed for this as well. My desire was encouraged by the publication of a second grade poem, titled Matzah and Carrots, in the school bulletin. It went like this: In the spring bunnies eat carrots I do not. I do not eat carrots. Easter bunnies!! I celebrate Passover. Perhaps the powers that be saw this as an articulation of inner turmoil caused by my subjective role as a cultural misfit. Maybe they saw it as genius in its symbolism. (The carrot being representative of collective oppression with Passover standing in reference to freedom in conviction). Regardless, I was optimistic. In my early college years my desire to write was fed further by creative writing workshops held round table style. Twice a semester each student would have a turn to read a very important piece of writing. Each participant in the workshop would go around and critique the work while the author sat in requisite silence. The goal was to appear simultaneously tortured and unaffected while strangers told you how inspirational and revolutionary you truly were. This was followed by cheese, crackers, extraneous self –disclosure and absolute avoidance of any of these people on campus. I came away with little professional skill but I did acquire a troubling Pavlovian association between cheese and ass-kissing. For years after this, I still ached to be a writer. However, in the absence of gratuitous praise and cheese, I lost my confidence. Each time I sat at my computer I was wracked with paralyzing anxiety. I needed to be Hemingway or I needed footnotes the length of a complex novella. It was imperative that I deconstruct language itself in a way that none of my predecessors had before. I did not write. This all changed the day I saw Marley and Me. The day I found my voice. You are probably angry reader that I took this

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How I Found My Voice
Rachel Futtersak
long to clarify what this is all about and it is not even a pivotal topic. However, I have a valid hypothesis. I am willing to bet that there is a direct correlation between completion of a John Grogan work and self-efficacy. In fact, I am willing to bet that there is a significant causal relationship that has been ignored for far too long. If you have yet to see this film, I will summarize: John Grogan does banal things with mediocre success. He goes to the airport. He buys a less than desirable starter home. He freaks out about being a father. He sleeps with his girlfriend (some chick named Jenifer Shmaniston). He desires to be a serious journalist but is just too full of heart and thus is demoted to a career as a columnist. Here is the kicker: He does this all…with a dog! He is a mischievous dog! The world’s worst dog! He is an irresistible pup. Mr. Grogan, in a true moment of inspiration, decides to write about this dog. He writes about his mind-numbingly ordinary life in the context of his border line relationship with his dog. The audience is on the edge of their seats wondering if this will this be the end of our hero’s career. It is not. He is promoted, revered, and becomes wildly successful. All the while he is spouting genius revelations such as “Dogs are like wives. You want them even when they get older and begin to poop on the floor” (I admit I may be paraphrasing here). The day I found my voice I was watching this in awe. As the movie ended and Marley kicked the bucket, I came to a realization. I have a dog. Also, he poops on the floor when it rains. If this John Grogan character could be a writer, I had it in me to be a writer! I turned to the girl next to me and whispered in her ear. “I think I just found my voice”. No response. I tried again, louder this time. “I just regained my sense of autonomy”. She didn’t hear me. She was crying like a bitch.

Manip by Jason Wirchin

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ollege, my dear readers, is stressful. I have however , after four year of an intense liberal arts curriculum that has included courses in interpretive dance, writing fictional stories with no wrong answers, and human sexuality, developed a strategy for handling this that I may now impart to you. This method is foolproof once you master it and devote yourself to the fundamental principals. When times get stressful, I like to pretend that I am Zach Braff. I simply get in my car, put on a mellow semi-obscure pseudo indie song, crack the window a bit, and drive. As I drive I look ahead of me and take in my surroundings as a feeling of calm washes over me. I imagine opening credits and contemplate how cool I look staring thoughtfully into the distance. This works particularly well with artists such as the Sufjan Stevens, Iron and Wine, or my personal favorite, Bon Iver. College can also be subjectively boring and tedious. Sitting in the ghost town of Stony Brook on the weekends leaves me with moments of tedium to fill. At these times I simply make a crazy gesture, something no one has ever done before. This assures me that I am very deep. It also entertains me in five second intervals. This Braff strategy is optimal when I am agitated as well. When I am very angry instead of plugging my ears I simply imagine that I am Mr.Braff. For example Person A- “Oprah‘s first tweet is national news” Me-angry Person A- “Tweet is a verb!” Me-getting angrier Person A- “This is because of the economy. I don‘t know anything about this but it is very bad!“

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Some Thoughts on Surviving College
Rachel Futtersak
Me- extremely angry thoughts Cue-Zach Braff. I simply, in this case, refer back to the funny and meaningless movement that I have articulated in my previous statements on boredom. I then laugh in my head as I visualize the person in front of me performing this. Zach Braff does not get angry! He fantasizes about ridiculous things in a manner that borders of potential psychosis and is consequently happy. Braff is also an increasingly adaptive tool when out with a date who is clearly quantifiably more intelligent than you. As this person drones on about applied phenomology you may feel out of your league. Don’t panic. Think like Braff. Come out with a theory so sentimental, so fundamentally obvious that it can not be argued with! Try something along the lines of “I think home is where your parents create you and then raise you. Then when you’re an adult you leave and become that child creator of your own” This theory need not be relevant to anything the person has just said. It will stand on its own and will be followed by moments of reflective silence and more pseudo indie music as the other person contemplates how insightful you are, you intelligent being you! This strategy will also inspire confidence in your general Romantic life. Braff is goofy looking by anyone’s standards. He captures Natalie Portman and Rachel Bilson merely by existing passively in a perpetual sort of existential crisis. It is either that, or he looks like he is in crises while perpetually pondering his next oh…Tweet. Regardless, this gives us hope. Except that personally, I do not want to capture any hearts. I just want to capture Rachel and Natalie like a hunter so that they may catch my tears to the sounds of Frou Frou.

“The Last Commercial” - Jason Wirchin

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Heroes

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Brotherhood

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National Thoughts of a Young Soviet Girl
By Natalia Markovna Chernoshovsky When I began my training with the Red Army in 1941, my head was full of frothy dreams of Soviet victory. I spoke of my hopes to drive the fascists out of the pure fields of our Glorious Motherland, using my five round, magazine-fed, bolt-action Mosin-Nagant rifle. I spoke of my desire to blow up entire Panzer units. I spoke of how the fascists would have to drag their mangled bodies back to Berlin in shame. A Belorussian comrade of mine asked me, “Natalia, are you a feminist as spoken of in Western social philosophy?’ “No, I am a Soviet,” I said proudly. “I see no gender. I see only the great people of the CCCP!” My view on gender relations was not always so unpolluted. When I was growing up in the Urals, I often dreamt, during my 12 hour work days in the fields, “Where is that majestic specimen of manhood, my Alexander Nevsky, who will spirit me away to a happier place?” I met such a magnificent specimen. His name was Joseph Stalin. And he called on me through radiobroadcast, as a comrade, to fight against the fascists and win the Great Patriotic War. I hopped on the next wagon leaving my village, with one change of clothes and a sack of potatoes on my back, for it is a long drive to Leningrad. I arrived at the training camp and found a sea of like-minded Soviet females, from all republics and races. We bonded like sisters, training together, living together and eating together. While we tended our bruises so as to be prepared for the next day of training, Comrade Alexandra Mihailovna spoke of her love, Lieutenant Grigory Petrovic, who flew with the Soviet Air Force. She spoke so tenderly of his devotion to the Motherland that we all began to weep onto our uniforms. I stood in our barracks and said, “We should all be as devoted as Lieutenant Grigory Petrovic. His devotion has transcended the love for one person. He instead loves all the peoples of the CCCP.” Comrade Alexandra Mihailovna was not as happy with this characterization of her love as we were, but she too cheered. We celebrated Lieutenant Grigory Petrovic not as a man, but as a comrade. We, through the joy of military indoctrination, no longer saw gender. All men and women wore uniforms. All men and women served the Great Stalin and endorsed his protection of our Motherland. The war itself was brutal and glorious. Many comrades fell in the fields of the great Soyuz. But their blood was not misspent. Those 20 million killed only made Russia redder and greater through their contribution. Today, we honor those men and women killed through commissioned art pieces and national song sung by every child, from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok. Those men and women died together, arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder, in their stand against fascism. Through the war, we learned that there is no difference between man and woman. There is only one difference of consequence for our people— whether someone is with us or against us. Зa родинy!

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Brotherhood

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e Caucasian “Burden”
By Najib Aminy
I am a Caucasian that is mad. No, scratch that, I am extremely livid. No wait, I am seething with rage. I have it too good. For one, I have a lot of diverse friends. I know Asians, I converse with Hispanics and I bought my car from an African American. You could say I am very cultured or very tolerant of other people. I urge you, too. I can tell the difference between Koreans and Africans like its and it’s. But my first complaint is amongst “white” people who have bastardized the term “caucasian.” In Western Asia my parents were born and raised, essentially on the dirt turf of a country in which they had run away. Chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool and all shootin some soccer outside of school when a couple of “soviets” were up to no good, they started making trouble in their neighborhood. There was one little war and my parents got scared, they said they were moving out from their country and came over here. But what many fail to realize is where Caucasia is and who Caucasians truthfully are. According to Wikipedia, a free encyclopedia with millions of articles contributed collaboratively using Wiki software in dozens of language, Caucasians is a term used to denote the general physical type of some or all of the indigenous populations of Europe, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, West Asia, Central Asia and South Asia. It must be added that the term has been used to describe the “entire” population of these regions, without regard necessarily to skin tone. Now I can go down one route, express my love and passion for my “home” country and be defined as a cultureless American. But if I did that, then the terrorists would win. So instead of having a repeat 2008 November election, the second and “better” option programs that would hit ethnic audiences. Additionally, “White” History Month should replace Black History Month in February and occur once every leap year. Black History Month should be extended to two months and two weeks followed by Hispanic History Month then to be followed by Asian History Month. Stronger action must take place cepted. When it comes to reparations, plain and simple, there are not enough. What happened to “We will not forget?” or “Never again?” All across America, discrimination, racism and hate is being spewed and the diverse people of America are suffering. It’s our role as Caucasians to take this burden and make life equal for all, preferably with government aid. Specifically, increase the taxes of the “white” and provide tax relief for the working diverse. We should shift our focus from exterior atrocities and focus on the social genocides that occurred here in America. Native Americans should be allowed to claim any land they want, whenever they want. It’s the perks of having your entire population wiped out by western expansion. Were your great ancestors indentured in the American slavery system? Well, the appropriate response is to seek a full salary for their hard work in seeding the plants to which Americans are reaping today. This includes benefits. Though a line must be drawn somewhere. If they were freed, then you would be tough out of luck. As James Baldwin said, “It is a great shock at the age of five or six to find that in a world of Gary Coopers you are the Indian.” Let’s change that so that the shock is later down the road. We can only hope that there would be no shock at all.

would be to fight for the social equality of all. And that starts with accepting that we as Caucasians have it too good. For one, mediums of entertainment must be “diversified” so programs like WET, or White Entertainment Television, specifically known as all of cable television excluding MY 9, BET, and The George Lopez Show, can be changed to have

when it comes to scholarships and affirmative action. My love for equality is so strong that I had been rejected from numerous prestigious universities across America only to offer the opportunity to the less privileged. I like to think that I have helped pave the road for “minorities.” For every one qualified candidate, twelve diverse candidates of equal or lower qualification must be ac-

Comic of the Month

By Tad Hamilton

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The Red Territory
When National Hockey team wins By Justinski Meltzorovitch world championship, do the people need to be there to support the team? Nyet! People only need to know the Dimly lit gymnasium. Music at apglorious triumph that is our winning propriate levels. Workers toiling away hockey team and rejoice quietly to on the court. Only one problem; too themselves while working the plow in many people supporting the team. In ideal world, people don’t need to the field. After all, how will the team support team, team supports people. It win next year without the powerful nutrients of strong Soviet vegetables? is unnecessary for the people to cheer Now, to be a part of the Red Terriand show emotion at sporting events. It is more important for them to be work- tory is great honor. But such honor is reserved for only the most prestigious ing and contributing to our socialist environment. It is imperative for every- members of our great communist state. Therefore our next Red Territory memone to be pulling their weight and ber will be the great and powerful doing the work of the country. Omega Red! Think about it. Is perfect fit. He is Red, he is powerful, and he represents all ideals of Soviet Russian. Power over weakness, and total domination over his enemies. Also his name has “Red” in it. Nuff said! When American weakling hero, “Wolverine”, attempts to put down our great country, Omega Red steps in to assure that only the Red state stays on top. And you know he isn’t afraid to use his death spores to crush his enemies. The next time Wolverine comes by brandishing his puny claws, Omega Red will be sure to put him in his place. And let’s not forget that that his powerful carbonadium tentacles combined with his pheromones to drain the life of others in order to sustain his own are important when (even thought unlikely) our mighty Soviet team loses. Omega Red can still drain the life out of other fans and prove that nothing short of extreme subzero temperatures can stop him. “You don’t have to like the sport,” Omega Red tells us. “Just as long as our comrades prevail and laborers never stop working. Also I will drain your life force.” Previously, The Crimson Dynamo was the main Red Territory mascot, however when he found out that Mickey Rourke would probably be playing him in the next Iron Man movie he set out to give him character pointers. He wants Rourke’s portrayal of him to be authentic to hopefully give him a chance at winning the Oscar this time. He too felt he was robbed by Sean Penn.

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Pseudo Intelligent discourse
with its transcendental qualities. And it does this without a single use of any By Andrew Fraley disgusting article. Many other languages—like Japanese, Chinese (both I’m usually pretty relaxed, and I don’t dialects), Latin, etc—also accomplish get easily upset about most things. An article by Geordan Kushner, published this, but none more so than Esperanto, king of languages. So it is as a native in April’s issue of Stony Brook’s PaEsperanto speaker that I say that I find triot, however, pushed me back into a realm of unreasonable indignation and all appearances of “the” in any sort of publication to be extremely offensive. self-righteousness. This article, titled I find it to be no coincidence that “‘Idiocracy’ Is Upon Us”, has no less German has three forms of this dreadthan 29 uses of an extremely hateful word, with a painful and sordid history. ful word: “die”, “der” and “das”. GerMany world languages don’t use many was also responsible for over six million deaths during World War II. articles (such as “an” or “a”), and Also, “die” in English is an imperative using some of these words is considered extremely offensive. I grew up in form of a verb meaning “to expire, or lose one’s life”. Coincidence? I don’t a household in which Esperanto was think so. my primary language, and English my Mr. Kushner’s brazen use of this second. Esperanto was a failed attempt word—in multiple languages, no in America’s more activist days (circa less!—is a slap in my face, and anyone 1970) to create a purely regular and else’s face who would take offense at consistent language. It failed very such a word. There are currently over quickly; nobody wants to learn a new 1,000 native Esperanto speakers and I language! But people who do speak this language (such as William Shatner, can only assume that they are just as star of an extraordinary cinematic mas- sensitive to this as I am. Now I know that America’s First terpiece called Incubus) are familiar Amendment protects peoples’ right to free speech, but it doesn’t protect fightin’ words. “The” is a fightin’ word, no matter how you look at it. I used to think that Stony Brook’s community was an academic forum which prided itself on differing opinion and diversity. I guess I was mistaken. This word should be censored from English, and any other language that uses it. It is degrading to our campus community. Regardless of any sort of intent behind his article, sensical or not, his offensive manner of expression shows that he cannot communicate his beliefs in an intelligent manner. Also, his editors, who should be filtering out garbage like this article, supported it. If we continue to allow people like this particular writer, Patriot editors, as well as any and all media outlets to get away with being irresponsible and insensitive, then…this article is actually really stupid. Sorry.

The Stony Brook Press

arts&entertainment
and a ja-fakin’ accent (say that one out loud if you don’t know what I mean). I will say that everyone, including their conga player, a rather happy looking dude with a hat that was designed to look like a strawberry, seemed to be having a great time during their set. But in all honesty, I chalk all of their faults up to a lack of experience. I wouldn’t completely write East Coast Islands off; songs while smoking a lot of meth, then took your songwriting cues from old PlayStation racing games, you’d have a pretty good idea of what they sound like. Despite this, everybody in the room seemed to love them—Jemaine Clement from Flight of the Conchords even stopped by to contribute some hott lixx on the guitar. Also, one of their guitarists had a sweet moustache. The best After Mother F’Nature came the extremely collegiate Dig Wells, who inexplicably pronounce their name sort of like the Pokémon Diglet. This band has the same date-rapist sound as do jammy assholes like Dave Matthews, which was fitting for the appearance for most of the dudes in the band. The chief exception to this persona was their surprisingly hot front woman, who donned some extremely satisfying skin-tight leopard print clothes that hinted toward sadomasochism. The points they earned with her clothes were almost completely erased, however, by the fact that their inaudible violinist was for some reason wearing a fucking purple top hat. They put on a solid performance, but their music consisted of generically “laid back” pseudo stoner jams. I suspect at least one person in the band is named either Steve or Chad. Closing this year’s mediocrity fest was the very un-mediocre group, Of The Pillar. Blending a de-pussified version of Maroon 5 with a harder rockin’ take on Jason Schwartzman’s band, Coconut Records, these were the guys who should have won. Their lead singer rocked a bitchin’ electric piano accompanied by guitars, bass and drums. I saw them play a slightly better set a few months ago at one of last semester’s Rock Yo Face Case shows (this time around they were down by one lead guitarist), but they were still the best act of the evening with their only real competition being Love, Robot. They took their defeat in stride and luckily, did not go unnoticed. A good number of people from the audience came up and complimented them on their set at the end of the show. As the bands packed up, it was clear a good time was had by all, especially that dude up in the front who looked like he had just been kicked out of a Motley Crue tribute band (and who had evidently just taken a shitload of speed).

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A Raging Asshole Reviews the BOTB
By Andy Polhamus
On Thursday, April 30, douche baggery once again reigned supreme at the Table Arts Center as 150 or so of the hippest of Stony Brook’s hip gathered for the second annual Battle of the Bands. Sarcasm and stupid haircuts abounded as an enthusiastic crowd danced ironically, stood in defiant silence or tried their best not to look so fucking stoned for five groups of similarly-dedicated scenesters. Interestingly enough, a casual observer can already see a tradition developing: though there might have been different bands this year, most of them still sucked. First up was Love, Robot. This sixpiece plays a vaguely punk-influenced brand of pop rock reminiscent of Paramore or All Time Low, complete with an obligatory, super foxy female vocalist. Their sound is blended rather “originally” with certain aspects of post hardcore. And by originally, I mean not at all. That said, I really enjoyed their set. Maybe this is the flavor of the month, but Love, Robot’s flavor happens to be particularly sweet. The fact that they are just plain good at what they do completely made up for the fact that they fit unabashedly into a subgenre that I bash at every possible turn. I especially liked their closer, “Eleven Eleven,” which was just too damn catchy to ignore. Later in evening’s cacophony, I wished that their set had been longer than the four showstoppers they brought along for BOTB. Following Love, Robot was a group of whiteboy reggae bro-hammers called East Coast Islands. They got my hopes up when they warmed up with a cover of Toots and the Maytals’ (or, depending on who you like more, the Clash’s) classic “Pressure Drop.” But soon enough I was let down by a lack of stage presence, awkward song construction,
BOTB continued from previous page

Battle of the bands.

another year of playing should make these guys viable contenders for BOTB 2010. Third was Mother F’Nature. Well, fuck. Where to begin? I should probably mention that they won, though I’m not sure how that happened. Now that that’s out of the way, remember They Might Be Giants? If you covered their

I can say about them is that they truly sounded like nobody else, though I’m really not sure that’s a good thing. It’s actually becoming difficult to describe how not into it I was, but like I said, the audience went apeshit for them, so you can’t argue with success. Or something. Also, their singer used the word “fabulous” at least two times too many.

the Pillar. With a sound that falls between piano-heavy Jacks Mannequin and the vocal-driven sway of bands like Envy on the Coast, this five piece rightfully earned a place in the top two. In addition to having their own fulllength, self produced CD, titled in media res, Of The Pillar exhibit such a tight musical prowess during their performance that they instrumentally outmatched the other performers hands down. Mother F’Nature, coincidentally, the only band from last year’s BOTB

that performed that night, were by far the most well-received band that hit the stage. The crowd, whether it was predominantly friends or students who just appreciated the music, were enthralled by the unconventional performance, which no doubt played into the judges’ decision. With wailing whammy bar screeches from their lead guitarist, an alarmingly impressive scratching solo/effect from their rhythm player and an underlying acoustic wrath thrown out by the lead singer, sophomore Patrice Zapiti, Mother F’Nature’s

strength came in the surprises they threw in every time they reached normality. The prizes, which were reserved for 1st and 2nd place, were $300 and $100 gift certificates to Barnes & Noble. While this might seem nonsensical, Taylor Schwab, SBU freshman and bassist of Love, Robot, mentioned that the organizers had originally lined up gift certificates to Guitar Center and then, when that fell through, Amazon.com. Unfortunately, that too failed to materialize and resulted in the ACH

and SSO Councils’ decision to resort to Barnes & Noble. This year’s BOTB definitely reinvigorated the student bodies’ support for on-campus events, which have been the subject of continuous scrutiny over their frequency of occurrence and detrimental attendance. Mother F’Nature, now two-year champs of the title, will certainly have to contend with the continuously growing quality of their competition.

22 Arts & Entertainment

Vol. XXX, Issue 14 |Friday, May 8, 2009

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By Josh Ginsberg

Real Estate is an up and coming band from New Jersey. They are comprised of four young men: Martin Courtney, Matthew Mondanile, Etienne Pierre Duguay and Alex Bleeker. They have the same classic lineup as the Beatles and so many other bands: two guitarists, a bassist and a drummer. All the stringed instruments played are Fenders. I first really heard Real Estate live. My own band Slothbear had just gotten on the bill of a show at Cake Shop in NYC and I was psyched to find out we were playing with Real Estate. My excitement was superficial; I simply knew that they had played with Titus Andronicus, and that I had heard a breezy, late night song of theirs on Pitchfork Media’s Forkcast, which signaled to me that this show might have a big turn-out. It didn’t. But as I stood in the darkened basement of the Cake Shop with a fever and a headache, I found the ringing, twangy arpeggios of their set opener, soothing. Both guitarists played different picking patterns on electric guitars, and the band was rooted by a simple beat and a hypnotic, repetitive bass line. The song,

which is the first on Real Estate’s self titled seven inch, “Suburban Beverage” went on instrumentally a long time before bassist Alex Bleeker and guitarist Matt Mondanile met in the front of the small, Christmas light draped stage, to harmonize as they posed the question, “Budweiser, Sprite, do you feel alright?” Each line was met with the crashing, opening and closing of a suspended and then unsuspended open chord. This was repeated a few times before the bass began its roundabout route again, and the song continued. The jam featured elaborate guitar passages, but there was no real distinction made between lead and rhythm guitar. Eventually the chord progression changed and sunk into a minor key, becoming more driving with an almost desperate air about it. The bass became more varied and Bleeker, clad in a tie-dyed shirt, navigated his way up and down the neck of his instrument, providing a deliberate exploration of melody more akin to a guitar solo that would have been played by Martin or Matthew guitarist. The version on the seven inch has the same movement but on a smaller scale. It is only six minutes, whereas the live version was probably close to ten. It reminds me of songs like “Green Arrow” by Yo La Tengo and has the same sort of mood that the first version of “Big Day Coming” creates. The song I heard on the Forkcast, a track on the seven inch, was “Black Lake,” which could be described as a lo-fi, nocturnal Okkervil River if Okkervil River wrote good songs. There’s something particularly charming about clanging, electric guitars fitting harmoniously with a pedal steel, sitting with their legs dangling on the dock of the lake against a lyrical landscape of “power lines.” Etienne’s drumming is somewhat reminiscent of a honky tonk waltz. Martin Courtney’s vocal melody is anciently American, and I can’t help but thinking he lifted it from the humming

of a beautiful southern belle, waiting tables in the same diner he was eating at while on tour. Put yourself in his shoes. As you sip your coffee, you can’t help but to look back over your slumped, sweaty shoulder, at her, in a yellow skirt, her chestnut hair pulled back. She isn’t waiting your table and you wish you’d been seated on the opposite wall, where she’d linger longer in your sight. The longing you feel is stifled by the fact you know that things could never go anywhere, that you are just passing by. But the melody that is sung, reminds of her terse, rose lips, puckered tightly together, as you long for the comfort a shower, a rarity in the lives of touring musicians, would offer. The comfort of a bed is as elusive as your dreams of musical stardom and you just can’t help but to wonder about how you would’ve faired if you’d tried to talk to the possessor of that sweet, whistling voice. Maybe he heard it filtering through the cracked window of a parked pickup truck, playing C & W gems from before your mother was born. Or maybe he just wrote one hell of a corker. The third and last song on the seven-inch is “Old Folks,” some nugget that somehow was cut from Chronicle, Vol. 1, and didn’t end up on Vol. 2. Its cheery, Southern riff feels like it should slide into some immortal chorus, maybe “Lodi,” but instead in its lofi glory, goes somewhere that sounds somehow shoegaze-y, even though it rides on chords that Ryan Adams has probably frequented in the midst of some Cardinals jam many times. The CCR comparison is relevant except for the fact that unlike the gruff, growl of Fogerty, Martin Courtney sounds clear voiced and boyish, more akin to a less bubble-gum Rhett Miller than any tough guy of the rodeo. Real Estate are worth seeing, and they have a number of shows in the New York/Jersey area coming up. You should pick up a copy of their seven inch while you’re there.

The Stony Brook Press

Arts & Entertainment

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Riding A Train to the End of the World
What would you do if you ardently believed the world was going to end a day from now? How would you handle the disturbed eyes of the non-believers? In John Wray’s new novel Lowboy, a schizophrenic boy grapples with his belief that the world will overheat and everyone will die. This Dostoyevskyian tale told in modern New York City is brimming with originality, clarity, and verbosity that makes it one of the better contemporary novels you could read. The sixteen year-old William Heller, nicknamed Lowboy both for his love of New York subways and for being completely irrelevant (according to a fellow patient at the mental hospital), travels the underground world of ringing trains, glowing numerals, and the philosophical but seductive homeless, in search of a solution to his apocalyptic concern. Lowboy is freshly escaped from a mental hospital, off his meds and pursuing freedom for the first time in a while. Chasing him is the hardened New York City detective Ali Lateef (his given name was Rufus White) and the boy’s own mother, the concerned and emotional Yda (Lowboy nicknames her Violet). Aliases and nicknames are abound, contributing to the distorted and horribly warped world Lowboy is forced to confront. Lowboy’s companion and love interest is 17 year-old Emily who loves him but struggles to reconcile her emotions with his deteriorating psychological health. Lowboy doesn’t want to believe the world is ending. In a tragedy of circumstances out of his control, he must believe. In the mind of a schizophrenic adolescent, accelerated global warming will boil the world and the option doesn’t exist to refuse this reality.

By Ross Barkan

Wray’s exceptional talent is displayed best when he is channeling the psyches of Lowboy, Lateef, and Violet. There’s a budding romance between Lateef and Violet that could have a future if not for the dark secret Violet keeps that is revealed at Lowboy’s end. While Lateef and Violet’s search for Lowboy adequately maintains the attention of the reader, the true action takes place with the star of the novel, Lowboy himself. Few can deny that Lowboy, a love-struck genius both certain of everything and terribly confused with the funhouse mirror of a world he is forced to inhabit, is a compelling character. Readers of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest will be reminded of the equally paranoid Chief Bromden when Lowboy reflects on his stay in the mental hospital. He tells Emily, “After that the school spread out flatter and wider it was probably the widest thing on earth. The ceiling came and brushed

against my face it wasn’t painful but difficult to watch. Things kept on moving.” And so does everything else in this novel. Lowboy hauntingly describes his time on medication as being pressed under a plate of glass, his entire world painfully flattening. He, through Wray, invokes Sylvia Plath’s immortal metaphor for depression, the bell jar. Reading Lowboy is finding the marks of other great writers and watching Wray take their ideas and remold them in his own startling and original ways. Avid readers of postmodern literature like Don DeLillo’s Underworld and David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest will recognize the intricate descriptions of the seemingly mundane and trivial. Wray dissects the subway system like an aged watchmaker, laying the gleaming parts on the table for all to see. We learn that when the subway doors close they make a “C# A” tune and that vulcanized rubber doorjambs ensure no breeze enters the subway car, keeping it at a comfortable 62 to 68 degrees. Degrees are important to Lowboy who is now convinced the world, in the tradition of Buddhists, is inside of him and that he must cool himself down to cool everything else. The true intrigue of Lowboy lies in Wray’s observations of the tragedies of mental illness and the confusion it creates, both for the victims and the people in their orbit. Lowboy’s existential desperation manifests in a question he repeats throughout the novel: “Why was I born?” His question, tinged with an unknowable sadness, is one that no one else can answer because no one, including him, can comprehend why things are the way they are. He is a prisoner of his own mind, a slave to chemical impulses he cannot resist. Buying cupcakes at an upscale Manhattan bakery becomes a dangerous odyssey. To outsiders, Lowboy is a freak. His declining mental state elucidates the continuing battle millions of individuals still fight against mental illnesses that are still so poorly understood. After the detective Lateef mentions Thorazine, a drug meant to treat schizophrenia, Lowboy’s mother shouts, “They have no idea why Thorazine works, or Clozapine, or any of their other silver bullets. Schizophrenia might as well come from eating powdered sugar.” Medica-

tion has its limits as well as its unfortunate side effects. David Foster Wallace battled depression for nearly his entire adult life and hanged himself last September, shocking the literary world. His acquaintances later revealed he had stopped taking his medication because he believed, like Lowboy, that the many pills were stifling him. Wallace could not fulfill his creative potential while medicated; his abandonment of medication might have cost him his life. But for any person with a psychological disorder—especially one like Wallace who depended on his mental energies—is life worth living if the mind isn’t free? The choice is unimaginably difficult and hopefully there will be a time when this choice won’t have to be made. Ultimately, Lowboy is definitely a novel worth your time. The florid yet burning language and the themes it explores are more than relevant today. Take a journey with Lowboy through the underground and discover the tragic secrets of human existence.

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Vol. XXX, Issue 14 |Friday, May 8, 2009

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By Josh Ginsberg
As I write this in a sticky basement, I am in the midst of an unusually warm April and Grizzly Bear’s Veckatimest is slated for release on May 26th. What I’ve been listening to is the “low quality leak” that turned up in a sendspace link on a friend’s Facebook status in early March. Veckatimest is named for a small island in Dukes County, Massachusetts, one that I have never visited. I cannot liken the waves of effervescent, vintage American pop that Grizzly Bear condensed into the four minute bliss of “Two Weeks” to a picnic on that island’s shores. I cannot compare Daniel Rossen and Ed Droste’s elaborate guitar playing to the dense tree line, which weaves meticulously, creating an almost psychedelic aerial view, and is almost impenetrable with only slight crevices left to slide deeper. I cannot compare “Dory” to the clear, foamy, creek that cracks through the foliage of the forest floor, lined with flat, slate-grey stones. Nor can I liken the reflection of the closer “Foreground” to the view from the beach at night, with the flickering lights of some small, quaint harbor on the Massachusetts mainland. But those are the images inseparable from Veckatimest’s sounds. Grizzly Bear crafted a stellar album. Bassist/clarinetist/flautist/producer/arr anger Chris Taylor mixed the songs flawlessly. His bass guitar playing is excellent (see his incredibly catchy melody at the beginning of “About Face”), and his sound manipulation, which is exemplified best on the instrumental potions before the second verse of “Fine For Now.” It is shimmering and enchanting. The most fascinating thing that Taylor creates is a heavenly, ethereal arrangement, which he accomplishes partially as a result of his stellar orchestral and choral arrangements. He arranges strings beautifully and subtly on “About Face” and they never sound superfluous or forced. The quintessential example of his aplomb as an arranger and composer can be spotted on “I Live With You,” which begins with Taylor’s signature woodwinds, and a harp, before a low section of strings cuts in and the song gives way to a women’s choir, who can be heard laughing and talking to one another if you listen close enough to parts where they drop out. Chris Taylor is a peer of Van Dyke Parks or George Martin if anyone ever was. One of Taylor’s most essential contributions to the band is his innate abil-

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ity to balance the different singing voices of the members, particularly the two lead vocalists, the lush, soothing, snow-capped vocals of Ed Droste and the quivering voiced Daniel Rossen, who seems capable of necromancy at its most sinister moments. The two men sing on most songs, and while it is easy to peg a song like “Fine For Now” as a Daniel Rossen song, because he sings the lyrics, the song wouldn’t be the same listening experience if not for Ed Droste’s harmonies. While Rossen sings played out on the electric guitar by a different band, but Grizzly Bear display their immaculate ability to sing. “Two Weeks” is led by Droste, who sings the simple, plaintive lyrics. But the strongest hook on the entire album is the three-way harmony between Rossen, Taylor and drummer Christopher Bear that is sung between Droste’s lines. Songs like “All We Ask” include Rossen and Droste switching off between verses and choruses, with Rossen

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the lead vocal on the pre-chorus of “Fine For Now” it is Droste’s soaring backing vocals that steal the show. Rossen and Droste don’t harmonize like the Dead, Beach Boys or CSNY. Their harmonies are more evocative of the infrequent but perfectly complimentary harmonies of Thom Yorke and Ed O’Brien or the duel lead vocals of Avey Tare and Panda Bear. After a chorus punctuated by a guitar part that is sublime in the strictest definition, evocative of harrowing cliffs and mountains that taper endlessly, piercing the holiness of whatever heavens may lie above, Droste vocalizes a passage that may have been

singing the swinging, “faltering” chorus, evocative of jazz-age cities, streets crowded with taxis, sidewalks swarming with neatly dressed pedestrians, straight off the page of some F. Scott Fitzgerald story, as a choir of Drostes forlornly sigh. The song’s bridge, on which a passel of Grizzly Bears, most prominently Droste, laments as the song draws to a close, “I can’t get out of what I’m into with you.” Droste and Rossen also sing excellently without each other’s help. Rossen’s vocal melodies are some of the best on the album, especially his fierce, tormenting vocal on the chorus of “Southern Point,”

which manages to sound like Armageddon while being entirely void of melodrama. His next best solo performance occurs during the vocal passages when he is not pitted against the women’s choir on “I Live With You,” which shows his ability to let his vocals soar, a hard thing to prove yourself worthy of when your band mate and co-lead vocalist is Ed Droste. It is strange to think back upon the days before Rossen joined the band, as he is every bit as essential as Droste, and contributes an incredible amount to the band with his guitar work. On Veckatimest the acoustic guitar is still featured prominently in songs such as “Southern Point,” “Dory” and “Hold Still.” However, on most of the album, it is the electric guitar that is more prominent. The electric guitars evoke the raw, dry volume of pre-1975 Neil Young, but are dampened with reverb and frayed with short delay. Passages like the climactic point on “Fine For Now” pop up on many of the album’s songs, including the should-be single, “While You Wait For the Others.” That tone, most frequently used on Rossen’s guitar, is the definitive Grizzly Bear guitar sound. It echoes late sixties Americana while still sounding at home amongst the guitar work of bands like Animal Collective, Deerhunter and Abe Vigoda of the 21st century. The extended instrumental intro of “All We Ask” cloaks the picking of Yellow House in the same tone used on Friend EP tracks like “He Hit Me.” One of the best guitar moments on the album is one of the most ambiguous. The little, bursts of reverb moistened guitar that bloom like sonorant cactus flowers on “Ready, Able” almost sound like a sample because of how quickly they blossom from non-entities to flourishes to nothing again. This is another instance in which beautiful short delay is employed. Veckatimest also boasts an incredible keyboard sound. The keys that open “Two Weeks” sound more like a sunny Kentucky garden or stretch of hills than any Lynard Skynard riff ever could. The high-end electric keyboard arpeggios of the songs chorus bore tiny little wasp nests into the listeners’ subconscious, and remain rooted there until re-listened to. Droste and Rossen both play keys on the album, and while only the stately, pitch-black closer “Foreground” is carried entirely on them, their accents are the important part of many songs. The most impressive sound on the album is the drum sound, which is produced immaculately. Christopher Bear plays beats that heavily utilize toms, but

The Stony Brook Press

Arts & Entertainment

25

Tabler Arts Center Art Review
By Liz Kaempf
As part of the Shirley Strum Kenny Student Arts Festival, the Tabler Arts Center hosted an ongoing exhibition of student-produced artwork, all coming from three semesters of hard work in ARS 359 Conceptual Drawing. The showcase emphasized student expression through various mediums. The approaches to art were slightly unorthodox and the uniqueness of each students’ attitude towards image making were on the forefront. Clear influences stemmed from the ocean, environment and technology, as well as an in depth look at oneself. Art has the tendency to be unable to convey itself to every viewer. But the detail, color and methods of this showcase were unmistakable. There was a whimsical air within the exhibition where several of the pieces had a surrealist edge to them. As part of their double-portrait project, students had to write a narrative and then use both a light and dark canvas to portray a selfcreated image in two ways. Whether it was created on backgrounds of bold colors, muted tones or simple blacks and whites, the images were astounding, to say the least. Elements of what the individual was involved in and cared about were pieced into the portraits to make something extraordinary. Some images conveyed a slightly dark sense of humor and wit that spoke volumes to the viewer.
VECKATIMEST continued from previous page

The detail project, the first one of the semester, demanded that the artist take an object and sketch it close up and with as much detail as possible. Done with basic grays and black on a white background a fresh perspective was given to ordinary subjects. The features of things such as seashells, babydolls and cell phones were delicately redesigned for a new take on the everyday. Some of the most intricate designs came from the pieces created based on the numbers project, where an image was made through the skill and use of numbers as the components to form a picture. From a distance, the eye saw pictures of gorillas from National Geographic, cityscapes, solar systems and even portraits, but with an extreme close up each minute detail was a number that combined to form the image as

a whole. Art professor Howardena Pindell was so impressed and proud of her students that she brought a friend in to see the incredible dedication and talent that was on display at the closing ceremony on April 30. Saddened by the end of the showcase and that more awe inspiring pieces done throughout that semester could not have been put up in the ex-

hibit, she said she planned on buying some of her favorite pieces from her students when it all came down. And who can blame her? With talent and drive that produced works that were clever and pop art-esque, as well as more reflective and detailed pieces, it will be no surprise when more offers to buy roll in for these art students.

unlike the taut tom sound of seventies rock or the loose sound of tribal music. His percussion is mixed almost subliminally. Where another drummer might pump up a song with a driving, two armed assault on a snare drum, Bear achieves that same dynamic before the chorus of “Southern Point” with nothing more than cymbal wash. His driving beat through the chorus mixes a snare pattern that could’ve been pattered out by a soldier marching through the wintry woods of 1778, and plays a fill that is more akin to Jamaican music or metal than the “indie rock” it will be lumped together with. The album’s most noteworthy drum pattern is the beat of “Two Weeks.” “Two Weeks” only hardly suggests the odd, syncopated beat that carries it, while riding its waves the entirety of the song. The beat is based around the rims of Bear’s snares and swiftly pinched high-hat. It might be the last thing the average listener

would point out, but it’s one of the first things that hits. Christopher Bear’s jazz training is especially apparent on the end of the song. While Ed Droste manipulates some strange device that creates bright, melodic oscillations, pitted against what sounds like a tremolodrenched electric guitar, Bear assaults with bells of his ride cymbal with more aplomb and finesse than any of the jazz greats of the bop era. Not once does Christopher Bear forfeit his distinct style for a bland rock beat. The songs on Veckatimest are more or less all top notch. Veckatimest features songs that are all memorable and don’t bleed into each other as the songs on Yellow House sometimes did. The album is brighter, although, minor key melancholia is evoked at some point throughout at least half the songs, such as on the chorus of “Ready, Able,” the verse of “Fine For Now,” or the latenight-side-of-the-highway piano lines

of “Foreground.” The only shortcoming of the songs is the occasional lyrical dud. The Grizzly Bear guys aren’t really elaborate wordsmiths. They aren’t bad lyricists per se, but they offer quatrains of seemingly meaningless, sometimes prosaic, ramblings or non-sequiturs best exemplified in the chorus of “Two Weeks,” which reads “Would you always / Make it easy / Maybe sometimes / Take your time.” Ed Droste isn’t exactly saying something poignant and his execution is something shy of adroit, but that doesn’t detract from the song’s merit. I thought the lyrics of the verse (“Save up all the days / A routine malaise / Just like yesterday / I told you I would stay”) were good until I read them on paper and realized they were sort of juvenile and disjointed. Grizzly Bear is simply not a lyrics band. The best lyrics on the album are probably those on “Dory” which describe eddies (think water, not dude-bros) and opens

with the somewhat pretentious line “Oh wildly cohering in a watery deep…” Veckatimest is the first truly consistent album of Grizzly Bear’s career. Yellow House is a much cooler album, but where Yellow House creates a distinct and fascinating sound-scape that melds pre-war Americana, pastoral woodwinds and the fiercest acoustic finger picking and guitar webbing this side of John Fahey, Veckatimest offers 12 hooky and neat songs. Song albums are never as “cool” as album-albums, where a really cohesive and distinct mood is created and explored until the breaking point. But shit, they’re a lot more enjoyable to listen to. Grizzly Bear has released a greatest-hits worth of great songs between their debut Horn of Plenty in 2005 and their Friend EP in 2007, but never before have they crafted as enjoyable of a slice of sound as Veckatimest.

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Vol. XXX, Issue 14 |Friday, May 8, 2009

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samplers and acoustic guitars. Most of the tracks are built on these elements and little else. Tracks like “Fogbow,” “Fasting” and “Explain Yourselves” are heavy on the electronics, creating very slow, ambient backgrounds for Kinsella’s vocals. Tim Kinsella has a fairly distinctive singing voice, but on this album he is almost unrecognizable. He seems to be droning instead of singing on a lot of the electronic tracks, not unlike Cale Parks or any of his ilk. It took me until “Life Sentence/Twisted Ladder” to figure out that it was really him singing. The song is more like classic JoA tunes, with plenty of drums, fuzzy guitar and electronics coming together to create an energetic track that really demands your attention. Luckily, despite the lackluster vocal performance on most of the tracks, Kinsella’s typically confusing and non-sensical lyrics remain. The digital download didn’t come with a lyrics booklet, so I couldn’t make out for certain what many of the words were, but I did manage to catch something about “kittens named killers” and “vanilla wafers and cheese puffs.” Who knows what they mean, but it was reassuring to hear them. Listening to most of this album, it was easy to tune out and forget what I was listening. That is probably the best way to describe most of this album, forgettable. It’s not necessarily bad, but

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By Katie Knowlton
Joan of Arc’s latest album Flowers is a pretty mixed bag of songs, not in that they don’t seem to fit together, but there is such a variance in quality that it makes this one of JoA’s weaker albums. Flowers is the 13th studio album from JoA, a band started by Tim Kinsella in 1996. Kinsella is a legend in the indie scene. Cap’n Jazz, his first band, was one of the best to come out of the mid-90’s emo scene and they remain one of my favorites. JoA was formed after the dissolution of Cap’n Jazz and, in the beginning, had only a somewhat different sound. It was indie-emo mixed with electronics and samples, and their first couple albums are well regarded in most circles. Up until receiving this album, I had never really listened to JoA, and after reading about JoA’s first few CDs, How Memory Works and Live in Chicago, 1999, I was expecting an energetic album, mostly guitar and drum driven, not entirely unlike Cap’n Jazz. Instead, Flowers gave me an unexpected surprise. This album is sparse. On their Polyvinyl website, it says that Flowers was pretty much improvised over a couple of days using whatever instruments were in the studio – mainly synths,

there is nothing really memorable about it, aside from “Life Sentence/Twisted Ladder” and the title track, an instrumental, which is an interesting listen. Overall, I wasn’t too impressed with Flowers. Perhaps it’s my general dislike of electronic and sample-based music,

but I think Kinsella has a lot more in him than something of Flowers’ quality. I guess I’ll just go back to my Cap’n Jazz and hope for a reunion someday. Flowers is set to be released June 8 on Polyvinyl Records.

The Stony Brook Press

Arts & Entertainment

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By Nick Statt
If you’ve never heard of Chester French, then you haven’t been paying close enough attention. Well, at least according to Maxwell Drummey and D.A. Wallach, the group’s two arguably narcissistic core members that just released their debut, Love the Future. When Chester French first hit the spotlight in early 2008, their components were as confusing on paper as the music being spun from their image. Drummey and Wallach were young white boys with Harvard educations with an apparent love for all genres of music and a short, yet solid, mix tape of their best work. They also thought it a good idea to derive their name from the famous architect Daniel Chester French, designer of the Lincoln Memorial and the John Harvard statue at the Cambridge university that employs his name. The force driving them, it seemed, was a finely constructed, and overwhelmingly genuine, confidence. This quickly turned to likeability when their mix tape went out to any available source and yielded record deals from none other than Pharrell and Kanye West, among others. In an utterly stone set symbol of their pride, the two turned down Kanye West in favor of Pharrell’s more appealing contract. Their original mix tape, which was then mastered into an EP called She Loves Everybody, was released off of Pharrell’s label, Star Trak Entertainment, and became a strong showcase of what the two were about musically. In an age when the more genres you can cast your umbrella’s shade over translate to a higher degree of popularity, Chester French was perfect. Whether the Harvard grads took that into account when developing their sound is questionable. Wallach managed to take singing style so retro, it’s reminiscent of the Beach Boys, along with usually donning a sharp expensive suit and a colorful bow tie to back up the image-inducing voice, and combined it with as many distinct elements as possible. Drummey, usually working the guitar, acts as the main DJ, along with a whole cast of other pseudo-members who contribute beats, drums, bass, etc. That sound, mixed with their personalities, was so impressive that they absolutely exploded with popularity on the Internet. They were featured in Rolling Stone and interviewed by MTV with their album still possibly years off in the future. Using what soon became an infamous sarcastic hilarity, the duo captivated audiences and managed to get Pharell’s influence to hook them up with the likes of Chester French rappers such as P. Diddy and Jadakiss to produce numerous collaborative prelims to what was becoming a highly anticipated debut. When asked by MTV why the hip-hop community took them in so warmly, Wallach said, “They find it interesting that we’re the first artists to wear whiteface all the time, publicly,” which is just a taste of how ready they are to not to take themselves, or anyone else, seriously. Love The Future was set for release on April 21st and their inflating image only further increased the hype. Would they deliver or would they end up being a silly mistake made by far too many artists who welcomed them into their recording circles? Chester French undoubtedly thought they could pull it off considering its main men had heads equivalent in size to the flashy name of their alma mater. After giving it a solid run through, it’s an unequivocal yes. Soaring up there with the likes of Fall Out Boy and the other ego-heavy super personalities of modern music, Chester French have become those guys you wish you could hate. Unfortunately, you just can’t.

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The duo produced an incredibly unique and fulfilling first album. By building on Beach Boys/poprock/hip-hop properties, they created a solid path and followed it neatly. They appeared to teeter upon a very pop and indie rock sound every couple of tracks, but mixed it up at the last minute before they fell off the edge. This apparent sixth sense of what is taking genre mixing too far and what is just enough to push them ahead of the game is also on point and utilized throughout all of the 13 tracks. The highlights of the album are the already popular single, “She Loves Everybody,” and “Bebe Buell,” which mixes sharp piano and a steady synth beat over comical lines like, “This ain’t groupie love cuz you mean so much to me.” “Time to Unwind,” another of the stand outs, starts off with a pleasingly lulling guitar progression over the unmistakably vintage voice crafted by Wallach, only to have the vocals replaced with a now characteristic synthesizer part that’s more catchy than it is repetitive. Chester French’s only downfall lies in the dangerous chemistry between its members’ personalities and the music they produce, with the latter relying so heavily on the former. They occasionally sway into such a humorous, and obviously purposeful, ego trip that shows in both their interviews and music, and leads to a strong desire to write them off as joke-artists. With their album littered with what can be received as witticisms, like almost laughable string and country interludes, it’s hard to know what’s actually going on in the heads of these artists. In terms of the overall package, Chester French definitely appeals most to the self-described indie fanatics, the style that Pharrell has now mastered with his network of clothing lines, record labels and collaborative bands. Wallach and Drummey, with keffiyehs around their necks, dressed almost completely in suits, cardigans or absurd outfits that you’d be likely to see on Karen O or Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Is this really them, or the image they want to come with their music? Either way, Chester French have definitely risen up in the musical scene as a group that garners deserved attention, whether it’s because they’re actually producing good music or they’re just so clever about how they disguise these attempts to just have fun and get rich in the process.

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Vol. XXX, Issue 14 |Friday, May 8, 2009

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By Pete Lambro
The summer heat has crept up from behind us and mercilessly shredded out thick wintry layers down to lighter and more revealing warm weather clothing. But fear not movie goers, for nothing can beat the feeling of a cool blast of movie theater air conditioning hitting you in the face after that arduous trek through the shopping center parking lot. Oh hot asphalt, you are a harsh mistress indeed. Without further ado, here are the big budget summer blockbusters we’re looking forward to the most. Star Trek In theaters May 8. Starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Eric Bana Boldly going where no filmmakers have gone before, J.J. Abrams’ upcoming Star Trek explores the roots of one of the most popular and important series in science fiction history. The story follows many of the original characters in their younger years, specifically Kirk’s journey to become captain of the Enterprise, ultimately seeing them square off against Eric Bana as the leader of a new Romulan threat. As a longtime science fiction fan, the adventures of Kirk and Spock have played an important role in my life. I trust Abrams and his new Enterprise crew to carry on the Starfleet Federation legacy. And if the trailers are any indication, my trust is well placed. Terminator Salvation In theaters May 21. Starring Christian Bale and Sam Worthington Terminator 2: Judgment Day still stands as one of the finest action films ever to come out of Hollywood. It was a satisfying resolution to the impending doom that humanity supposedly faced. Then audiences were subjected to Terminator 3. By undoing all that T2 established, the third installment paved the way for Terminator Salvation. The film focuses on the grown-up soldier and commander John Connor as he leads humanity in the fight against Skynet’s forces. The gritty, post-apocalyptic future has never looked better and I feel that Christian Bale’s star power is enough to carry the series without Arnold. Look forward to fast paced action, explosions and some serious gunplay. And I know it won’t be worse than The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

(+ ' %&. 0))"memories. Expect to see some wondrous witch, wizard and wand action in this, the 6th installment of the Harry Potter series. Funny People In theaters June 31. Starring Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen Judd Apatow returns to the director’s chair for the first time since Knocked Up, even though he was tied in one way or another to several comedies in between. Joining him is Adam Sandler, along with the usual players in any Apatow affair: Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill. Sandler and Rogen essentially play themselves, changing the medium from film to stand up comedy in what looks to be another in a series of comedies dealing with serious subject matter, a specialty of Apatow’s. Sandler plays George Simmons, renowned comedian and actor, who befriends and employs the talents of newcomer, Ira Wright (Rogen). Sandler has a near death experience in the form of a terminal illness he miraculously overcomes, and with Rogen’s help he tries to win back the girl who got away. Funny People looks to be the right combination of comedy and drama, earning it a spot on the list of the summer’s most anticipated flicks. Inglourious Basterds In theaters August 21. Starring Brad Pitt and Diane Kruger Quentin Tarantino makes a damn fine flick. There, I said it. I enjoy his movies. That being said, Inglorious Basterds looks amazing. Set in Nazi occupied France during World War II, the film follows the semi-true tale of the United States army squad known as “The Basterds.” Charged with the mission of infiltrating Nazi occupied France and killing as many Nazis as possible in the most brutal and intimidating fashion imaginable. Joining them is a young Parisian girl who runs a movie theater that has been commissioned to show the latest Nazi propaganda film. The perfect setting for The Basterds to strike? Check out this late August release to find out.

Up In theaters May 29. Starring Edward Asner and Christopher PlummerThe animators at Pixar have their work cut out for them this year. Last year’s Wall-E rolled its tiny treads from the screen into our hearts. Up tells the story of 78-year-old Carl Fredricksen and his balloon-powered flying house. Joining him is 8-year-old Russell, who gets involved by being on the wrong doorstep at the wrong time. The flying home sets them down in the Venezuelan jungle where they encounter wild creatures, deadly plant life and a talking dog with a short attention span. Up looks to be a valuable entry to the Pixar library and I guarantee will best whatever DreamWorks craps out. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen In theaters June 28. Starring Shia LaBeouf and Peter Cullen 2007’s Transformers brought to the big screen one of my favorite childhood franchises and some of my favorite characters. Longtime fans had their complaints, but overall it proved to be a satisfying and action packed robotic romp. The sequel, due out this summer, rejoins Sam Witwicky as he starts his college career, only to have it interrupted by the appearance of the Decep-

series fresh and fun for old fans as well as new ones. Public Enemies In theaters July 1. Starring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale Depp and Bale together at last! That’s almost enough reason to see this. Public Enemies is Michael Mann’s latest film, set in the 1930’s at the start of the war on organized crime. Depp takes on the role of John Dillinger, notorious bank thief and con-man. Bale plays Melvin Purvis, the man charged to take down Dillinger and stop his crime spree. Purvis succeeds, but soon after his incarceration Dillinger mounts an escape and goes on the run. Seeing these two square off, tommy guns in hand, should be a thrilling ride. The trailer takes its time showcasing the brilliant looking set design, perfectly capturing the look and feel of 1930’s America. Releasing in midsummer, Public Enemies aims to be a strong contender for the best summertime movie and its strong cast and aforementioned design put it close to that mark. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince In theaters July 15. Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson My relationship with the Harry Potter film series is an awkward one. I am a huge fan of the book series as well as the film series, but the recent installments, most notably Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, have served less as a replacement for the book and more as a visual aid. As one of the most action heavy of the series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince looks to be a thrilling entry, earning it a summer release rather than the traditional November release to which we have become so accustomed. This film sees Harry and company squaring off against Voldemort’s forces face to face as Harry unravels mysteries from the past and explores Dumbledore’s most important

ticons. The new movie aims to delve deeply into history of both the Autobots and the Decepticons and of course, keeps their battle here on Earth. Joining the fight are the new Decepticons, the Pretenders, who can take human form, and the ancient transformer known only as “The Fallen”. The Fallen’s appearance hints at the inevitable appearance of Unicron, the planet-destroying transformer once famously portrayed by Orsen Wells. The trailer shows a good deal of action and it’s safe to say it looks significantly better than the 2007 film. With fewer cuts, it’s clear to see the actions each robot takes within the fight. If all goes well, this film will top the previous Transformers and keep the

The Stony Brook Press

Arts & Entertainment

29

+ 0*(&$%/
By Kenny Mahoney
It’s finally the end of the semester. Classes are almost over and finals are about to begin. Soon, you’ll be chillin’ out, maxin’ and relaxin’ all cool for the summer, but you’re going to need something to fill the void between all of those parties and trips to the beach you’ll be takinbg. What’s better at filling that void than anything else? You know what, don’t answer that. The answer is videogames; get your mind out of the gutter for christ sake. That’s why I’ve compiled this list with my top 11 games of the summer because 10 is so overdone. I didn’t include actual release dates for these games because they’ve been known to jump around quite a bit, but they all should be out between the time you read this and by the time you get back for the fall semester. Prototype (360, PS3, PC) In Prototype, you play as Alex Mercer, some guy who wakes up one morning and discovers he has superhuman strength, agility and the ability to absorb people’s bodies and change his own– and now you’ve got to figure out why. The game is set in an open-world New York City, which means you have free reign to explore the city and cause as much destruction and mayhem as you want, or you can absorb someone’s identity and use stealth and espionage to take down your foes. The idea is hard to explain on paper, but after seeing it in action, it looks fantastic.

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while this year’s Street Fighter 4 went into the realm of 3D graphics, King of Fighters keeps it old school with 2D animation. Not only that, everything in the game is 100% hand drawn. That’s right, every background, animation and special effect has been painstakingly drawn out, making the game look absolutely fantastic. Punch Out! (Wii) Think back to the good old days before the harsh realities of life had you by the throat. Think back to a simpler time when your NES was the king of household entertainment, and you’ll remember Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out! It’s a Wii Sports Resort (Wii) If you bought a Wii, you know Wii Sports. But this Wii Sports is different in a number of ways. The “Resort” part of the title brings the sports to more outdoor/tropical/summer type of activities, like Frisbee, jet-skiing, and sword fighting. But what’s really exciting is that it introduces a brand new attachment to your Wii remote–the Wii Motion Plus. It’s a little thing that attaches to the bottom of the Wii remote and makes it super-responsive and superaccurate. Just getting one of those is reason enough to pick up this game. The Conduit (Wii) Another game I saw at ComiCon, The Conduit is a first-person shooter for the Wii. In it, Washington D.C. is invaded by aliens, and it’s up to you to take them down with an arsenal of both modern and alien weapons. What makes this game really special is the degree of customizability in the controls, allowing you to tweak almost everything until it fits your liking. It’s about time we had a decent shooter on the Wii, and The Conduit looks like it might be it. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 (Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network) The last game I’m going to talk about is the one that I’m the most excited for. After months of speculation and rumor, this classic fighting game is making its way to your console as a $15 downloadable title. Why is this so awesome, you ask? Well, it’s Marvel versus Capcom! Your favorite comic book heroes battle it out with Capcom’s cast of Street Fighter characters. Now your friends can finally put-up or shut-up when it comes to their childhood heroes.

game takes place after the movies, and the city is yet again overrun by ghosts. Obviously, it’s up to the Ghostbusters to…. well to bust them, and it’s your job as a new recruit to help out the old gang. That’s right, many of the original actors have lent their likeness and voices to the game (except for Rick Moranis, what a dick). Join Egon, Peter, Ray, and Winston using all of your favorite gadgets and gizmos, but remember–Don’t cross the streams!

Batman: Arkham Asylum (360, PS3, PC) Batman is a pretty huge badass and he has been known to lay a beat down on crime every now and again. In Arkham Asylum, that’s exactly what you do! On your way to bring the Joker to Arkham Asylum, things go horribly wrong and the super villain inmates have taken over, and it’s your job to take them out. It’s your classic beat em’ up style game (think Double Dragon or Streets of Rage) with a few twists. Since you are Batman, it goes without saying that you’re one scary dude and you’ll use the shadows to your advantage to strike fear in your enemies and perform crazy hand-to-hand moves. Fight Night Round 4 (360, PS3) EA’s boxing simulator is back, and Fight Night Round 4 follows in the footsteps of all the past Fight Night games, which means that you’ll be able to experience real life physics and animation that almost makes you feel each punch. In addition to that, you’ll be able to play just like your favorite boxing legends, using their styles to your advantage. The game also looks great and has some of the best looking graphics I’ve seen in a long time. King of Fighters XII (360, PS3) For those who don’t know, King of Fighters is exactly like Street Fighter, except a different company makes it. And

new spin on a classic game, bringing the same kind of ducking, weaving, and punching to the Wii’s fancy new motion-controlled gameplay. Bionic Commando (360, PS3, PC) We’ve already seen the re-make of the original Bionic Commando as a downloadable title this year, but Capcom has other plans for our swingin’ hero. This new Bionic Commando brings the game to life in 3D, which has you swinging all over the place with your fancy bionic arm. It doesn’t seem to change too much of the classic formula, but it sure as hell looks fun. Red Faction: Guerrilla (360, PS3, PC) Continuing on the success of the original Red Faction games in which the environments were completely destructible, Red Faction: Guerrilla is bring that tried and true game play to the current generation of consoles. I had a chance to spend some time with this title at the NY ComiCon, and I definitely enjoyed myself. Breaking down a wall with a giant hammer and surprising the hell out of whoever’s on the other side just never gets old.

Ghostbusters (Everything) Well, it’s uh, it’s Ghostbusters! If you don’t know Ghostbusters, then there isn’t much hope for you. I had a chance to see some of this game in action at the NY ComiCon, and it looks great. The

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Vol. XXX, Issue 14 |Friday, May 8, 2009

The Stony Brook Press

Comics

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May Day Rally in Photos by Matt Willemain
On May 1, recognized by most nations around the world as Labor Day, a small demonstration took place outside the headquarters of the statewide SUNY system in downtown Albany. Organizers staged the event for two reasons: to draw attention to the long neglected problem of labor and human rights abuses against the garment workers who produce licensed university apparel in sweatshop conditions, and to support new legislation intended to compel all SUNY schools to address the issue.

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Vol. XXX, Issue 14 |Friday, May 8, 2009

Albany County Legislator Doug Bullock (second from the right), the Vice President of the Albany Central Federation of Labor, wields a bullhorn to lead demonstrators in a chant. What did they want? A sweat-free SUNY. When did they want it? Take a guess. It’s easy to buy a sweatshirt with a university logo at a campus bookstore and wear it to a game in complete ignorance of the situation of the people responsible for making it. After decades of abuses, and ten years of activism in resonse, only a handful of SUNY schools have adopted rigorous policies to combat violations of the rights of garment workers. Brian O'Shaughnessy (center), Executive Director of the Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State addresses the crowd. O’Shaughnessy carries a sweatshop-produced Arizona State University cap dating from the late 90’s. Over the past decade, organizer convinced ASU and 185 other colleges and universities, including the entire California state system, to sign on with the Workers Rights Consortium (WRC), a labor monitoring organization independent from garment industry influence. In the SUNY system, only the University Centers at Albany and Buffalo and the University Colleges of Cortland and New Paltz are members of the WRC.

Guillermo Perez (background center), a representative of the Capital District [Metropolitan Albany] Chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, speaks to the attendees. Among the listeners is Guillermo Martínez (foreground right), Legislative and Communications Director for New York State Assembly Member Peter Rivera, Bronx Democrat. Rivera is introducing a bill into the Assembly, the Ethical Business Conduct in Higher Education Act, which would force every SUNY school to deal with the problem. Demonstrators expressed their hope that the bill will be rendered unnecessary by SUNY voluntarily confronting the issue.

Jackie Hayes (center), a SUNY Albany graduate student in Latin American, Caribbean, and U.S. Latino Studies and a student activist with U Albany’s Fair Trade Alliance and Students for Workers’ Rights, speaks to attendees. Among those listening is Mirna Lizeth Chavarria Lopez (far left), a Honduran garment worker and union leader whose factory was closed this year by Russell Athletic. Russell has recently closed two of its ten Honduran factories—the two with unionized workforces.

Peter LaVenia (left), a SUNY Albany graduate student in Political Science, representative of Students for Workers’ Rights and CoChair of the New York State Green Party, speaks to those gathered—many of whom carry placards reading “It’s Time for SUNY Colleges to Stop Using Sweatshops to Manufacture Campus Apparel”.

The Stony Brook Press

I Can Collage My Parking Tickets
Let’s face it, commuters on campus get shafted more than a lady of the night on fleet week. ComEric muter lots are far DiGiovanni away from the Academic Mall, parking is limited, and the buses, no matter where you’re going, never seem to sync up right, and don’t even get me started on the LIRR. However, at a Commuter Student Association meeting a few weeks ago, Director of Transportation on campus, James O’ Connor, presented all the changes set for the next couple years. First and foremost, the South P Lot is undergoing renovations. The grass islands in the center will be removed and placed elsewhere. This change is estimated to open up roughly 150 to 200 new spots. The morning of the interview, I went around canvassing my fellow commuters for questions to ask. The one thing that stuck out the most was the crowding at South P Lot. O’Connor was aware of the problem, but is still looking for an appropriate solution. “We could put extra buses, but the problem is then there would traffic at the corner of Circle Road. We’re still the campus oversells these spots by about 5%, assuming that not everyone who owns a premium parking permit

opinion
left up to the Vice President of Facilities and Services, Barbara Chernow. One of the more interesting developments in progress is a system that will use the student ID cards and GPS systems in every bus to better determine how long a bus will take to reach the SAC. A display board in the SAC Lobby will show the estimated arrival times. However, this system won’t be in full effect for another three to five years. Even though he did seem receptive to any concerns I had, O’Connor suggests any additional questions to USG. “If enough students say that it’s a problem, then things will get done.” There are people on campus and in the administration who want to get things done. Sometimes, like the parking situation, there’s trade-off, such as the aforementioned traffic problem and environmental damage. “This is one of the decisions we make. If we cut down more trees to build parking lots, then we’re doing damage to the ecosystem,” O’Connor said. Sometimes, like the new LED signs at the LIRR station, The first thing I saw on those new screens? 10:30 PM PORT JEFF. LATE 25 MINS.

33

Death to Bookstore Buying
What initially started out as a way to get free food actually turned out to be a very interesting learning experiEric ence. The Stony DiGiovanni Brook University bookstore held a fair in the Wang Center on April 15, where publishers were able to show off their textbooks to professors. Staff from the bookstore coordinated the event and answered questions. Questions involved, “Do you feel threatened by the fact that more and more students are buying books online?” Some acknowledged the internet as a threat. “[The internet is] a very real competitor, and it’s a very big competitor,” said one publisher. Some see it as a need to innovate, as you will read below. The bookstore, however, remains confident, said a representative, “With the internet, you’re not sure what you’re getting. You might get the wrong book and have to spent one-and-a-half times the book.” Although from personal experience, some professors allow an earlier version of the book since it has enough of the same content anyway, and sites like alibris.com and textbookx.com

trying to figure it out,” he said. Also, more of the LaValle Stadium Parking lot will be converted to premium spots. One thing to note is that

will be there on the same day. Decisions like these are looked into by a team of researchers who determine a course of action. However, the final decision is

lishing are textbooks that are hole punched to fit in a three-ring binder. They cost less than hardcover text-

have always delivered the correct book. On display were some clever innovations publishers are coming up with to make money in this recession, as well as *gasp* to make learning more interesting. First, from Pearson pub-

books, but are designed to be disposable. These are for those DEC classes you take outside your major but never ever think about again. Also from the same publisher were textbooks, laid out like magazines, supposedly making

reading the book more relaxing and engaging. E-books, or basically textbooks crammed into .pdf files by the publisher, are becoming more prominent. They are cost-saving measure and a necessity in an increasingly digital world, but at the same time make it easier for people who download scans of the textbooks anyway. While this was a humbling look behind the scenes of an industry in which we all spend hundreds of dollars every year, there were a few attempts at swindling. The representative from the Oxford University Press bragged about how their books are cheaper, when all he gave was data for one book. The prices vary from publisher to publisher and from subject to subject. While one book may cost less, another might have more content. My favorite lesson of the day came from a sign on display that broke down how the money spent on a book from the bookstore factors out. Nine percent goes to the authors, 2% is spent on shipping, 67% goes to the publishers, 12% goes to the bookstore and 10% goes to the university.

opinion

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Vol. XXX, Issue 14 |Friday, May 8, 2009

Argghhh!!!!!
In one of the great acts of courage in our new century, the United States, which accounts for 50 percent of Ross global military Barkan spending, vanquished three Somali pirates. The pirates had taken American naval captain Richard Phillips hostage in an attempt to coax a ransom fee out of the United States. “We’ll teach those bastards to try to improve their living situation,” said Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. “Never have I been more proud of America and appalled at the African people. To think, that these silly pirates believe that it is acceptable to lie, cheat and steal to earn money. That is not what America is about.” Awesome American Navy Seal snipers, who look just like G.I. Joe and Spiderman crossed with a Thundercat and were super cool the whole time, totally fuckin’ nailed the black dudes holding the white American captain guy hostage. Although Somali pirates are not known to kill their hostages, and usually only demand a ransom, it is good they died because America rules, and when you mess with the best, you die with the rest. “It’s sorta like when the Yankees played Tampa Bay pre-2008,” said Sen. John McCain. “The Yankees had a higher payroll but still bludgeoned the shit out of the Rays. Did they go easy on them? Fuck no. America is like that. We can’t allow impoverished nations to disrupt the transit corridor for 20 percent of the world’s oil supply. I fucking love oil. In fact, I am currently bathing in some Iraqi oil right now. It’s a bit sticky, but sometimes the best things in life stick to you.” The United States, which has never done anything nefarious before to enrich itself, has been battling alongside a myriad of European nations to combat the growing problem of Somali piracy. Somali pirates board vessels from speedboats and quickly overtake the unarmed crews. Many Somalis turn to piracy because their povertystricken nation, often mired in lawlessness, offers few outlets for individuals trying not to die horribly before they turn 30. The evil and whiny pirates defend their actions by claiming that the West (mainly Europe) has been dumping nuclear waste in their waters and overexploiting the sea for fish. Supposedly, illegal trawlers have stolen more than $300 million in tuna, shrimp and lobster. Believe it or not, these savages have the audacity to accuse we lily-white angels of destroying their primary resource: seafood. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the United Nations envoy to Somalia, was quoted in the London Independent as saying, “Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury – you name it.” Apparently, European ships have been appearing off the coast of Somalia to dump large barrels into the ocean. After a 2005 tsunami washed hundreds of leaking barrels on Somali shores, people began to suffer from radiation sickness and more than 300 died. These heavy metals (ROCK ON YEAH!) like cadmium and mercury can be traced to European hospitals and factories. Holy dogshit, these Somali douches need to chill out. The satanic communists at ABC News claim the Somali pirates actually benefit the economies of the seaside villages. Coastal towns are flush with cash, leading to the construction of cafes,

restaurants, and other businesses. Residents even use the pilfered money to buy generators, basking in the luxury of electricity. Otherwise, the pirates are huge assholes. Analysts believe Somalia, a country with a GDP per capita of $600, should probably start looking for a job. Poor people wouldn’t be poor if they just worked all the time. The United States and Great Britain, with GDP per capita’s

of $43,800 and $31,800 respectively, picked themselves up by their Christian bootstraps and worked really, really hard. No handouts for you, Somalia! And no piracy either, you need to get rich the right way. “Fuck yeah,” said the ghost of John D. Rockefeller while shitting on the faces of his former employees in the pits of Hell.

The Stony Brook Press

Sports

35

Murphy’s Law? Only Time Will Tell
By Jason Wirchin
“The chances of another plane hitting this house are astronomical,” said Robin Williams in the 1982 movie, The World According to Garp. “It’s been predisastered.” Oh, if only baseball were that easy As the world painfully knows by this point, the Amazins’ have been – at least for the past two seasons – the ultimate masters of disaster. Losing 12 of their last 17 in 2007 and 6 of their last 10 in 2008, these self-proclaimed “New Mets” have come up empty in their most recent attempts at a playoff berth. But as 2009 rolls ahead, an entire city prays that what happened before won’t happen again. After all, what are the odds of something so improbable, so bamboozling, so preposterous happening three years in a row? Is it even doable? Knowing the Mets, anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Let’s review. Starting rotation. One of the few strongholds of last year’s squad, the front five have had their fair share of successes and struggles throughout this early season. Johan Santana (16-7, 2.53 in 2008) gave the Mets a chance to win every 5 days or so, and seems to be on a similar track heading into the first weeks of May. Mike Pelfrey (13-11, 3.72) missed a start with forearm tendonitis, but should deliver no less than six solid innings each outing if he keeps his strike-to-walk ratio under control. Oliver Perez (10-7, 4.22) isn’t very good. As of May 1, he had a 9.31 ERA, 15

walks and 18 strikeouts. John Maine (10-8, 4.18) held opposing batters to a .234 average last year and appears to be righting his ship after shoulder surgery September 30. Livan Hernandez deserves no accolades here. If the Mets are lucky, he won’t be half as bad as that other Hernandez experiment. Bullpen. With a revamped pen, the ghosts of seasons past should be exorcised by now. Aaron Heilman is a Cub, Scott Schoeneweis is a Diamondback, Joe Smith is an Indian and Duaner Sanchez is a Padre. Billy Wagner is still months away from being able to throw again. Newcomers to Flushing include Francisco Rodriguez, who broke Bobby Thigpen’s all-time saves record of 57

with 62 in 2008, J.J. Putz, who posted a 1.38 ERA and only 13 walks in nearly 72 innings in 2007, and Sean Green. Brian Stokes, Pedro Feliciano and Bobby Parnell have performed nicely during the month of April, and should be able to set up Putz and K-Rod with relatively few calamities. Starting Lineup. Missing only four games last year, Jose Reyes hit .297 with 204 hits, 37 doubles, 19 triples and 16 home runs. When Reyes gets on base, the Mets usually win. Expect the same in 2009. After landing the starting leftfielder’s job in spring training, Daniel Murphy faces quite the list of high expectations. Defensive misplays have plagued Murphy from Day 1, but by the end of April he was batting .324 with 22 hits and 13 runs scored. David Wright, the face of the franchise, has been criticized as of late for his rising number of strikeouts – through 21 games, he had 27. Expect No. 5 to lead the team offensively during the summer, though. He has batted an average .311 since 2005. Delgado and Beltran should still bop away at the plate – as long as the former’s hip stays healthy and the latter’s knees don’t crack during a steal attempt. If he stays concussion-free for a while, Ryan Church should have a steady summer. He’s batting .313 through 21 games, but that might cool off by the time August rolls around. With catcher Brian Schneider on the 15-day DL since April 17 with a strained back, call-up Omir Santos has become quite the rave in Queens. In his first eight games, Santos went 7-for-23 (.304) with a .565 slugging percentage. A resurgent Luis Castillo hopes to improve on a dismal

2008 – his .370 average and 20 hits in 17 games are proof of great progress. Bench. Back-up catcher Ramon Castro can hit for power occasionally, and plays good defense behind the plate. His 34 strikeouts in 52 games last year are a tad concerning, however. Alex Cora is a serviceable second baseman, with five hits and four runs scored in 13 games. With a banged-up Castillo resting every couple of days with an iffy back, Cora should get some more-thanexpected playing time. Outfielder Jeremy Reed is no Willie Mays, but he should serve as a suitable replacement for Beltran whenever Jerry Manuel sits No. 15. Fernando Tatis batted .297 in 2008 with 81 hits, 11 homers and 47 RBI. He was batting .348 as of May 1. Fresh off his 500th dinger, Gary Sheffield should provide some pop off the bench when needed. As long as he keeps his cool and doesn’t blame Manuel for being a racist, fans will respect this long-time slugger for what he’s worth. They’ve got a good team – there’s no doubt about it. But can they string together five or seven or even ten wins to crawl up in the standings? Last season, whenever the starting pitching went deep, the bullpen imploded. This year, it’s the starters who’ve been struggling and the pen that’s been more consistent than not. But then again, these are the Mets. Love em’. Hate em’. They’ll still find a way trip up.

Sports
"*7.
By Ian Thomas
Ranked 11 in the country, Stony Brook’s dynamic offense had been consistent in nearly every game this season. Scoring ten or more goals in ten of their past 12 games, the team’s up tempo play has been one of the biggest reasons behind their nine wins. Sophomore Jordan McBride has been the real spark plug. His 42 goals ranked him second in the NCAA going into the Championship rounds, and combined with sophomore Kevin Crowley, created one of the most lethal duos in college play. The University of Maryland – Baltimore County Retrievers knew what was at stake – the America East title, and most importantly an automatic trip to the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championship Tournament. Stopping this duo and the team would be a hard challenge, as many opponents had found out this year. But with excellent midfield play and the offensive talent to match, as well as a rabid home crowd behind them, the ball was in their proverbial court. Unfortunately for the young Stony Brook tandem and the rest of their tal-

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Vol. XXX, Issue 14 |Friday, May 8, 2009

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Adam Rand

ented team, that UMBC team did just that, and ended the Seawolves season on a sour note, with an 11–7 victory over SBU. “They have some experience playing in this game where we did not, but I am proud of the team and our season,” said Coach Rick Sowell following the game. “We did not give up and hung in there. Unfortunately, we did not make as many plays as UMBC did.” The early jitters seemed not to affect the team as junior Tom Compitello scored to put the Seawolves up by a score of two to one. However, chalk it up to inexperience, or perhaps just an excellent UMBC team, but that was the only time Stony Brook led. The Retrivers fired back, scoring eight unanswered goals over the

next two periods. Stony Brook never seemed to be able to get in a groove offensively because of missed shots, costly turnovers and the immense defensive and midfield pressure applied by UMBC. The Seawolves only managed seven shots in the first half, and McBride was held off the score sheet for the first time all season. The Seawolves rallied late, scoring four goals in the fourth quarter alone, but they were not enough to counter the offensive power the Retrievers supplied earlier in the game. Following the game, Crowley and defensemen Steven Waldeck and Chris Gignilliat were all named to the AllTournament team. Because of their loss, the Seawolves failed to clinch a spot in the NCAA tournament, and were passed over dur-

ing the selection of at large berth teams. Although there has to be some disappointment in the way the season ended, the exceptional play of returning players will give the team and Coach Sowell a lot to look forward to next year. In addition to McBride, who finished fourth in goals per game in the NCAA, Crowley finished thirteenth in points per game, Compitello finished twelfth in assists per game and junior Steven Waldeck finished seventh in ground balls per game. Sophomore Adam Rand ranked number one in the entire NCAA in face-off win percentage, winning at nearly a 64 percent clip.

The Stony Brook Press

Sports

37

Give Me a B-A-N-D!
By Liz Kaempf
It’s impossible to say that you have never noticed when the Stony Brook University Marching Band cranks it up at a home football game, or when the Seawolves’ Pep Band brings the noise at a basketball game. That’s because they are impossible not to hear and even harder to miss. Easily the most spirited organization at Stony Brook University, the “Red Hot” athletics bands lead the dance team, the cheerleaders and Wolfie in getting the crowd at SBU events involved and cheering for our teams. The athletics bands are relatively new groups to the Stony Brook campus, just finishing up their third year this spring, and are broken up into two groups; the fall’s Marching Band, and the spring’s Pep Band. Each group has its own mission for the semester. The Marching Band is responsible for playing at pre-game, tailgating, halftime and in the stands during the football season. The fall band is an indoor and outdoor group that practices not only to play standing still (although they hardly stay still), but also prepares to play a roughly seven minute show at halftime. The Pep Band plays in the spring for all men’s and ladies’ basketball games. It also travels with the teams to play at tournaments. The band is able to learn much more music in the spring due to the fact that it does not need to learn a field show. The repertoire for that season includes “Zombie Nation,” “Hey Ya,” “September,” “Soul Man,” “Jump On It,” SBU Fight Song and the Star-Spangled Banner. It’s a group that requires hours of rehearsal time, practice, and discipline. Their secret is that through it all, they still manage to make it fun for everyone involved. I watched first hand at the ”Think Pink” Breast Cancer Awareness Ladies Basketball game where you could not get the band to stand still, let alone shut up. They started with the Star-Span-

Najib Aminy

This is them, right?

gled Banner and then seamlessly jumped into starting all the chants. Just to prove that the band is something all it’s own, the kids donned inflatable pink flamingoes (think pink!) and created a chant: “Bounce! Pass! Shoot!” While the other team has possession, our wonderful band narrates all the moves they make - be it bouncing, passing, or shooting the ball. The group as a whole is meant to create a show within the games, one that will promote pride and inspire spirit. The rowdiness of the band altogether is all on them. Band Director John Leddy said he would like to take credit for the incredible energy the members have, but he knows that is not the case. The band is comprised of many individuals: sports fans, introverts,

and kids that are just overall loud, crazy and fun. It’s these people that create the undeniable spirit the Marching and Pep Bands have. They let it all out to cheer on our sports teams on any occasion. Not only are they energetic and fun, but they are basically a family. I know from six years of band experience that these kids can come off as an entirely separate entity, and that presence has a knack for pushing others away. Leddy agreed by saying, “A sense of community is great, but it can be intimidating to outsiders.” He also noted that one of the toughest jobs he has as band director is trying to integrate newcomers into a group that has already formed strong, familial bonds. Thankfully, that has yet to stop

the band from learning and growing. They get progressively better with every performance and are always looking for new traditions to start. They uphold traditions such as playing the alma mater at the end of football games and in the lobby before basketball games. The welloiled machines that are the athletics bands strive to make the Seawolves as loud as they can get them, and then some. The groups’ energy is something else that never ceases to amaze not only the crowd, but John Leddy, as well. “Their spirit always inspires me,” he said and it is no doubt that that energy and pride will continue to carry out as a vibrant and dynamic tradition in SBU’s repertoire.

38 Sports

Vol. XXX, Issue 14 |Friday, May 8, 2009

" .+* &*
By Ross Barkan
There is a time when games become more than games, more than war, and more than a mere struggle for existence. There is time when the soul thunders from the forgotten catacombs, calling to a heart still pulsating from too much Mountain Dew. There is a time when several young men stride upon the plains of the Stony Brook sports complex, eyes trained on the end of time. There is a time for dodgeball. Remember the nights. On one Tuesday, when the moon hung in a frosted crescent over the blood-red horizon, A Rhinoceros in Trouble entered the arena. Who are the Rhinos? Some would say a dodgeball team. Others would say fuck falcons. Reputations are made of words and words are for the feeble so do not rely on them. The Rhinos, quite simply, were winless entering that Tuesday night. Despite their inherent sexual prowess and love for the game, the franchise had yet to taste the sweet cunt of victory. Admiral Ginsberg, guard of the crazy cone, put it best. “Fuck.” This was no ordinary game. Regular rules did not apply because the Rhinos had the audacity and courage to enter the “ultimate” dodgeball league in which a wiffle ball is perched perilously on a cone. If the opponent knocks the ball from the cone, your team tastes the unholy asshole of defeat. This asshole, plagued with beans from the cafeteria and fecal shooting stars from the resulting diarrhea, does not taste sweet. It is cruel and does not love you, like your grandma. In the previous contest of the season the Rhinos, sans Admiral and “Skipper” Heed, could not protect the crazy cone. It was as if a radiant thunderstorm had swept them into its bosom and suffocated them in mammary lightning. The games were over before they began. One pundit on ESPN was quoted as saying, “The Rhinos, god damn, they’re like Lou Gehrig’s disease. Totally incurable…of their ability to lose games. BooYAH!” Rumors still persist that the maladroit yet menacing Admiral Ginsberg ripped his television into little pieces and sold them to gypsies, who then fed the pieces to their ailing goats. Thus game two arrived. Head shaman Rudolph Rubinstein presided over a pre-game prayer. Whilst listening to outdated reggae on his ipod, he proclaimed the Rhinos to be in favor with the gods because captain Barkan had fi-

/ *7. +&("/
less, was trying to use his algebra skills to figure out if it was possible to masturbate and play dodgeball. His wounded phallus told the tale. Skipper, Jared, and Captain Barkan would not be discouraged, though. The score is tied one game a piece. We are now in the present tense for some reason. Bald stalwart and Rhino gadfly Benjamin Milgrom esquire is nowhere to be seen, most likely perched behind his video game console, dick and burawareness cost him dearly. J. Schaeffer cannot recover. Rhinos rush through the chaos to aid him and find it is too late. J. Schaeffer is a goner. They carry him to the sidelines, where he is to be raped by a referee. At this point the other team is playing like a group of ravenous Nazi antelope, horns of fury piercing the fire of fear and smoke of resentment and repressed adolescent memories. Ofs are everywhere. Captain Barkan, somehow alive, thinks of bagels and cream cheese like he always does when he is under duress. He closes his eyes and hurls with all his might the fiercest of comets, a ball spinning to the crazy cone’s orbit. Gay opponents try to stop it. They cannot. The ball has plummeted from the crazy cone. Rhinos win. Rhinos win. But there are more games to play in the series, just like there are more vaginas for the lustful Rhinos to conquer. Admiral Ginsberg will not allow anyone to rest on their laurels. He tells tales of America, how Paul Bunyan saved the treasury by having sex with the most magical of ganders. The lesson is simple: never surrender. Some say Paul Bunyan still roams the wilderness looking for things, soft and warm, to love. There is no quit in his monstrous, William Howard Taft-like eyes. Skipper Heed is picking off one after another while Admiral Ginsberg ensures his verbal digs fly like dead fetuses to the faces of all who oppose him. Captain Barkan, mind engorged in cream cheese, decides he will pray to the newly-discovered Jesus W. Christ and attempt another crazy cone strike. They said it was impossible. Goblins, goblins in his ears, said these things. Captain Barkan ate the goblins with positive forks. BROOSSSSMMMM. Crazy Cone Ball Down! RHINOS WIN RHINOS WIN RHINOS WIN! Big Jared finished off the series with another crazy cone strike, making the Rhinos officially triumphant in an actual seasonal contest. The celebrations were endless. The heroic boys inhaled Gatorade after Gatorade, downing them with the smoothest of ice cream beauties. It was like cutting off the head of a cougar on the top of Mt. Everest…indescribable. Admiral, Skipper, and Captain reveled in their winning ways, declaring a golden age for mankind. Shaman Rudy drank goat’s blood to seal the pact. The boys, dodgeballs in hand, vowed never to lose again.
RHINOS continued on page 39

nally repented for being a “Jewish.” As a “Jewish,” his poor karma and love of bargains had plagued previous Rhino attempts at victory. Now a devout Muslim and freed of his previous “Jew” vices, he swore allegiance to all the dragons he knew. Despite the presences of other male Jewesses who had not yet given up their sinful ways, the Rhinos knew one conversion was enough. Like a band of Pope Urban II’s crusaders, they understood that you can only

They say you have to “be” the ball, but this is ridiculous..

drink the blood of one koala at a time. Immediately the white referee signaled the beginning of the massacre. A Rhinoceros in Trouble had known many daunting opponents before but none was as ferocious and mercantile as Puck. Puck, from a team still unnamed, wore facial hair and a five-foot four frame like a true champion. He compensated for his size with a baseball cap. It was brimming with blood. Jared “White Chocolate” Scott, the Rhino’s sole minority combatant, dodged balls as deftly as (insert pun with gay celebrity and testicles). Jared, though blessed with only one peerless eye, nevertheless seized the large red ball and hurtled it through the hearts of his deniers. Admiral Ginsberg, crazy cone-defenseman wizard, envisioned his opponents as ex-girlfriends being fondled by concupiscent pandas, thus channeling the proper half-Jew rage to deflect incoming dodgeballs and save the cone. (Note: The Admiral is halfJewish). Skipper Heed, still moustache-

rito in hand. The Rhinos, still the league’s most religious team, call another team prayer. Shaman Rubinstein waves his arms to attractive females who aren’t there. Captain Barkan’s flatulence is a pure and melodious hymn that smells like a nuclear rainbow. It would have brought the ladies back. Every Rhino agrees that the crazy cone must be targeted. Admiral Ginsberg, still seething from an array of teenage quandaries, vows revenge on the elusive Puck. Tears in hearts, blood in eyes, urine on their shoes, the boys swear to the altar of victory! “Tonight,” roars the normally taciturn Skipper, “we deep throat kiss Jesus.” The Rhinos are unsure of why this is supposed to motivate them but Skipper’s large eyes tell the truth: dodgeball victory means certain death. And then J. Schaeffer, the unsung Rhino, is tit-smacked. He couldn’t dodge in time. Shaman Rudy tries his best to save his pal but in the end the dodgeballs and Schaeffer’s beluga-like

The Stony Brook Press

Sports

39

&$%/ (0
By Eric DiGiovanni
FIGHT CLUB(S)JUDO When It Meets: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM Where It Me ets: Mat Room in the Sports Complex Who’s Known For It: Chuck Norris, Abel from Street Fighter IV, Former President Theodore Roosevelt, cementing his place as our most badass president. As I lay down in the sweltering heat of the Mat Room in the Sports Complex, with Judo Club President Gregory Woody smothering my face with my own arm, I had an interesting thought that I believe appropriately begins the last FIGHT CLUB(S) of the semester: “Holy crap, it’s the Brazilian Jujitsu club all over again!” (See March 11 Issue of The Press) . In fact, here’s a testament to how similar it was: members of the BJJ Club showed up, such as friend of the column Terrence Cheng. Judo and jujitsu mean almost the same thing in Japanese: “gentle art.” But when you hit the ground, it’s anything but gentle. Even though they share the same kanji for gentle, there are plenty of key differences. Judo is focused more on throws than submissions. Also, elbow submissions, leg locks and ankle locks are forbidden due to safety reasons (damn lawyers). Chokes, arm locks and everything else are legal and, since it originated in Japan, you have to bow before each match. To understand all of these crazy rules, let’s look to the past, shall we? It all started in late 19th century Japan when Jigoro Kano was tired of getting picked on, so he learned jujitsu since Judo hadn’t been invented yet, and this happened way before The Karate Kid came out in theatres to influence his deRHINOS continued from page 38

cision. Kano learned jujitsu under several masters, such as Fukuda Hachinosuke and Iso Masatomo. From that he developed his own style, which eventually became known as judo. There were two objectives to this new art: First, the goal isn’t to necessarily harm the other person, but get them off balance to either evade or go on the offensive and get them in a hold. Second, it had to be safe for university students to practice. For those thinking of taking it up, here’s a fair warning: it is not something you’ll get right away. Like BJJ, positioning parts of your body you don’t even think about are important. Sure, if you’re strong enough guy like me, you can toss a guy in any position. But when your hips have to be in just the right place, and grab your opponent at just the right place, you realize that there is an art to this (Hey, maybe that’s why they call it a “martial art” instead of “way to beat the crap out of someone”). Even Woody realizes this: “[Judo is] not something you can pick up right away. Striking someone can pick up quickly, but there’s a little more that you have to get used to in judo. It’s much more intense, more technical, more precise, and more aggressive than most martial arts.” Like everything else, it’s

Eric DiGiovanni

one of those things you have to practice. Once you do master it, at least going from Youtube, it will look really awesome. The club is taught by Mr. Tatsushi, a Social Welfare Ph.D. student who came from Japan. He was a pretty happy guy, and not even my newbishness could bring him down. His exact words were, “[Judo’s] much more sports oriented. It takes courage, it’s not street fighting.” Just like fencing, Judo is an Olympic sport, but unlike fencing, the action doesn’t stop until a penalty is committed or someone goes out of bounds, which ratchets up the excitement of matches. If there was one word I could use to

describe my experience this time around, I’d use satisfying. There’s just something that feels right about flipping a guy over on to the ground. Hell, even if you’re being thrown, it’s a hell of a ride. Sure, climbing over another guy to try to choke him out is fine and all, but that thump when he hits the ground, you standing over him, his arm in your hand, and seeing that look in his eyes that says, “Damn it,” all mean that he’s your bitch. It’s a good feeling.

But they did. The story ends tragically. On the final game of the season, the Rhinos, sans the great Jared, jumped out to a three games to none lead. All was clicking. Skipper Heed had not even challenged any opponents to fisticuffs like he had in previous contests and the Admiral had yet to tempt a Magilla Gorilla-sized enemy to a man brawl. Then it happened. Skipper Heed and the Captain were two on one against a man-child of Orwellian impotency, so inept at the game of dodgeball that rumors still pursuit that he believed a collection of opossums

making love constituted an official intramural game. Skipper unleashed a throw that would have made Kublai Khan proud, striking the man-child in the hands and head. It was clear he was out. Everyone celebrated. The referee made no signal. He made no god damn signal. Skipper’s eyes fill with hellfire and his black Armenian hair is aflame. He will not accept this. Skipper races across the line, smacks the man-child with the ball, kicks the other ball off the crazy cone, and declares the Rhinos the champs. Everyone is bewildered. Proud. Frightened. A homosex-

ual pushes Skipper, leading to yet another Rhino-on-failures brawl. Referee threatens to call campus police. Skipper dares him. Referee has erectile-dysfunction. It is over…even if the Rhinos prevail, their sportsmanship rating will be so low that they will not compete in the post-season, their lone ambition. Every team makes the playoffs. ‘Cept the Rhinos. Captain Barkan kicks the other cone, officially putting the nail in the coffin. Big Black Dave, Campus Rec Czarina, declares that Skipper and the Captain cannot enter the sports complex again without talking to him and

signing his fascist form. So the Rhinos trudge away, the Admiral spitting on the floor, the Shaman shaking his head, crystalline tears tickling his eyes. Alas, it was not meant to be. However, if Skipper makes his amends with TBone Dave, the campus recreation goombah, all might be saved. Go to it Skipper. Open up yo throat….

Death Egg Zone

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