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CESIUM

m a g a z i n e
(Hey, what’s the matter?)

Vol 1. Issue 4. Fall 2006 Can’t find your last issue?


Sold it for beer money?
Editor-in-Chief Ran out of Charmin?
Adam Moore
We completely understand.
Assistant Editor
Brooke Orcutt But before you panic,
remember...
Art Director
Andy Sommer

Graphic Design Consultant


Maria Moore

Business Director
Matt Wolcott

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explore your style
(Table of Elements)
Mis•cel•la•nea
from the editor 4
contributors 5
mail call 
nightlife 37
We take in a concert at UNI, and head to the WQPT Brew Ha Ha in Davenport.
upcoming events 40

Art
The Applicant 8
Fiction by Wade Geary. A new take on garage saling.
Saipan 11
A poem by Dave Donovan. Our long-time web friend hits the print.
Marylin, Full of Grace 12
Fiction by Chuck Dooley. A young woman looks for answers in a foreign land.

Me•di•a
audibles 18
Brian Tambascio reviews albums from Cut Chemist, Zero 7 and Boy Kill Boy.
a closer look 19
We take a closer look at the new release from Iowa City’s Death Ships.
mixtape 20
A list of the songs we’re bumpin to. And that you should get.
return to the cult 21
Brian Tambascio searches for meaning in Back to School
School.

Cul•ture
One Man’s Trash 22
Essay by Emily Berregaard. A tantalizing look at dumpster diving.
Tuesdays with Walken 26
Essay by T.J. Washington. Just what does Christopher Walken mean to society?

Pol•i•tics
Voting for Dummies 30
Don’t know how to get heard? We’ll make it easy for you.
plain speaking 32
T. Dalley Waterhaus takes aim at poverty and (of course) Republicans.
Playing with Words 34
Essay by Vaylord Zupke. What do those politicians really mean?
fun with figures 36
We crunch some numbers after the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
(from the editor)

I’m looking for a lot of things. to expand your horizons, and that’s what we’re all about
I’m sure anyone close to me would testify to that fact; around here.
I’m always looking for new music, new films, new writing So, since it seems that we’re always on the lookout, we
that blows my mind. I spend weeks looking for the perfect figured we might as well dedicate this issue to celebrating
used guitar (a classic Les Paul) or the best sub sandwich the art, the drama and the payoff of … the search. How are
(Sub City, in Cedar Falls, Iowa). I’ve spent months looking we going to do it, you ask? For starters, we’ve got a double
for the perfect beer (Sam Adams Boston Lager), and years shot of fiction (including the triumphant return of Chuck
looking for the perfect girlfriend (the search continues). It Dooley!) and even a little poetry, all involving people look-
seems that my existence is in a continual state of search. ing for one thing or another. We’re looking for answers as
And sure, it’s an age old cliché, but aren’t we all looking we head towards the upcoming midterm elections and our
for something? Not for material things, but for the deeper newest addition to Cesium, Emily Berregaard, does a little
stuff. The ideas that get pushed to the rear of life while we searching of her own, exploring the world of dumpster
work 40 hours a week or go to school. We’re searching for diving (you heard us right).
love, for fun, for excitement. For a reason to wake up each Oh, and perhaps you noticed. That’s right, the black
morning and do it all over again. And it seems for every and white look? Well, we’re searching for money to print
answer we find, the more questions that are raised. this damn magazine in color. Don’t worry, the great writing
But even though we never seem to find the results we you’ve come to love us for (hopefully it wasn’t the looks…)
crave, I have come to believe that that’s the best part of is still intact.
searching; we often end up stumbling upon something Until we meet again. cs
we never even knew about. Take the burgeoning Pandora
website (www.pandora.com); type in the name of an art-
ist or song that you especially like, and the website will
search through its extensive database and play songs
related to the artist or song you specified. You can even
guide its search, telling it what tunes you like and which
ones you don’t. Pretty cool, and you’ll most likely come
Adam Moore
Editor-in-Chief
across some new stuff you’ve never heard; it’s an easy way

mis•cel•la•ne•a / 
(contribs)
We trade 15 minutes of semi-fame for actual payment to our brilliant writers

Emily Berregaard wrote our look at dumpster diving and its benefits; she is
currently enrolled at UNI and enjoys playing music with comrades and making
paper cranes out of magazine ads. She’s a real good cook and wants to create
documentaries someday. She gets pleasure out of being brutally sarcastic and
yearns to travel the Eastern countries.

Wade Geary wrote “The Applicant” for this issue, and is an instructor in the Eng-
lish Department at the University of Northern Iowa. He is currently working on a
short story cycle bounded by a citywide garage sale. “The Applicant” is a part
of that collection.

T. J. Washington returns to the pages of Cesium with his introspective look at


Christopher Walken. “Hopefully this means he’ll answer my fan mail now,” he
says. He is currently enrolled at Iowa State University in an academic discipline
of some sort.

mis•cel•la•ne•a / 
(mail bag)
We take a moment to listen. See, we weren’t ignoring you after all.

Cover Comments

Just wanted to say love the cover (Summer 2006). I knew Georgie had something else up
there.
-Jason P. • Marion, IA

Sweet cover art, dude!


-Kevin R. • Cedar Falls, IA

Fashionable Mistakes

I was confused when I looked at the fashion spreads (“Fashion’s Newest School”, Summer
2006). The names listed couldn’t have been the names of the models, because I saw a few
repeats. What’s up?
-Jackie • Cedar Falls, IA

[Ed. Response: the names listed with each photo were the names of the designer, as we
wanted to give credit to the people that conceptualized the designs. Sorry for any confu-
sion. We also forgot to acknowledge Minnie Lee as the designer of the schoolgirl outfit.
Our apologies]

I thought your fashion coverage was a little faculty heavy…don’t forget who made the
clothes!
-Lindsey V. • Cedar Falls, IA

Stuck in the Web

What happened to the website? I’ve been there, and there haven’t been new articles for
a while. Did you guys quit?
-M.R. • Iowa City, IA

[Ed. Response: sorry for the delay. Unfortunately, in addition to Cesium, most of us work
full-time jobs and it’s hard to keep up.We’ll get back with it, and begin posting articles from
our past issues online too, so you can read anything you’ve missed. Hope that helps.]

Corrections

We totally misspelled the name of our fiction contributor in the last issue. It should have
been spelled Tristan Abbott. The person responsible has been sacked.

Make sure to write us at cesiummagazine@gmail.com with all your comments, gripes or


corrections. Letters may (or may not) be edited for clarity or content. Readers who have
letters selected will receive a pat on the back for being ambitious.

mis•cel•la•ne•a / 
$401 $401
Do these numbers trouble you?

Militarism does violence not only


to those engaged in or fleeing
from battle, but to those who
suffer because of misplaced
national priorities.

Join the campaign to allow


conscientious objectors to pay
their taxes into a fund for
non-military use only.
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(The Applicant)
fiction by Wade Geary

Pick it up.
Check for stains.
Look for scratches. Expiration dates. Bends or tears.
Anything that would bring down its value.
See, like this. This stack of Highlights magazines would
be worth something if they didn’t look like they’d been
crusting away in this person’s basement. They should
be orange, not piss yellow. Humidity can devalue a lot of
things. Anything made of paper, that is.
You’ve got a dehumidifier, right?
I had a problem three assistants ago. Don’t want to re-
live it. If you’re going to be my assistant, we need to get
this stuff straight right off the bat.
We need to be on the same wavelength.
Twins separated at birth, you and me.
Stop smiling. Don’t ever smile at a garage sale. Unless,

art / 
of course, it’s appropriate for the hustle. for the vase. Or better yet, you can just take the vase, no
Appearance is everything. I’ve had people bring down charge. They’ll insist on it. They might wink at you, show-
the price of tires just because my shirt was buttoned up ing that they understand. Maybe they’ll even give you their
and tucked in. Like I was a real know-it-all. With my base- telephone number, you know, so you can periodically up-
ball cap, I’m just a casual shopper. I go unnoticed. I’ve date them on your sister’s condition.
even worn just a tank top. Seriously, a tank top. Whatever The zone of trust.
helps us fool the seller. And we abuse it.
We play certain roles. We take that trust and turn it into gold, just like Rumpel-
We become someone these people want to meet. It stiltskin. This is how we make our living. By selling people
helps as we pry into the arena of special prices. depressed lives. They’ll want to help us overcome.
And I’m not talking about twenty-five cents off little Think I’m a bad person?
Andy’s pj’s that he outgrew. We’re thinking bigger. Tables Think I’m sick and need help?
that have been overlooked. Books that people constantly Think what you want. The fact is I’m helping these
search for on the internet. Buffets that would go for hun- people by doing what I’m doing. I’m taking their self-pro-
dreds at trendy consignment claimed “junk” off their lawns
shops. These are the things we We take that trust and turn it into and putting it into my truck.
target. And we get them for next
to nothing.
gold, just like Rumpelstiltskin. This The stuff that’s been on their
to-do list for years can now be
We don’t pay for sentimental is how we make our living. By selling scratched off.
value. people depressed lives. They’ll want to The amount of money ex-
We don’t pay for these people’s changed shouldn’t matter. And
bills that are adding up. help us overcome. if you have a problem with the
The fact is this. People need lying, then let me tell you a
to get rid of things. Whether it’s an old couch or a girlfriend thing or two. Take a look around here. Give this garage
of six months, there’s always a time to move on. sale that we’re at a quick glance. Look at these people,
Very few things in life age well. That’s why people move these items, this community were in. Feels lonely, doesn’t
on and let certain things depart from their lives. And then we it. The people holding these sales, they like the idea of
gladly acquire them and take them under our guidance. having people walk around and look at the items that add
We’re foster parents for the lost children of commerce. up to their pathetic lives.
Temporary father figures for forgotten items. These people need conversation. They need a rent-a-
Just because it’s old to them doesn’t mean it can’t be friend.
new to someone else. Here we are. We’re for hire.
Are you with me? Ever see those commercials telling people they should
Listen up. I want to ask you some questions. help the needy because in the end, it just feels good? Well,
You have a college degree, right? Did you do any act- we make it so they don’t even need to leave their house.
ing at school? Introductory classes? Anything like that? Or, at least their garage.
OK, forget the classes. Ever go out? Go to the bar with Want to do your good deed of the day? Sign right here
your friends? Try to score some chicks? What kinds of and we’ll arrange everything.
things would you say? When we leave the garage sale, these people will be smil-
Let me guess, anything but the truth. An appropriate ing ear to ear. Everything inside will feel . . . what . . . warm
reaction to what she said. and fuzzy. They might even have a tear in their eye. But most
The puzzle pieces to a one-night stand. importantly, they won’t feel near as lonely. They’ll momentarily
Improv that hopefully led to something a bit more forget the things that make them cry at night. That their boy-
scripted. friend beats them when his beer isn’t cold enough. That their
You were acting. You’ll be doing the same thing on this wife is sleeping with the next-door neighbor. That they only
job. You’ll be a son whose mother’s birthday is coming up. see their kid one weekend a month.
A high school teacher whose students would learn more if The burden of everyday life, we lift it off their shoul-
the school’s budget was higher. A brother of a breast can- ders for a few hours. The vaudeville we create washes
cer patient and through her tears the other day she spoke away all worries.
of a vase, exactly like the one on sale. It would sit out on Call it free-market therapy. You’ll be the shrink, we’ll
her dresser, the afternoon light a few inches from putting be the patient. Let us lie down on your couch and let the
the spotlight on the purple lilies that were freshly picked. BS flow.
See, it’s all about details. Now remember, don’t let the roles switch. If they do,
That stuff I just said, it came from nowhere. then we’re in trouble.
I don’t have a sister and I’ve never lived anywhere that We don’t want to hear their stories. We want to beat
had fresh flowers to pick. them to punch. We tell them our own.
But I created a temporary universe. That is what you They’ll want to tell you the story behind the item, where
have to do to bridge a relationship between the seller and they got it, how old it is, why they’re finally getting rid of it.
yourself. The details create this zone of trust and sooner or All their stories can do is justify the price tag they put on it.
later, this person insists she’ll take no more than a quarter Maybe even make them decide to not sell it.

art / 
Still with me?
If they’re selling a sweater for seven bucks and they
tell you their late grandfather made it, it’s doubtful they’ll
lower the price. But like I said, we beat them to the punch.
We let them know that our mother would love that sweater
because the cost of energy bills in the winter seems to get
higher every year.
Are you questioning any of this?
Don’t think it’ll work?
Sound too easy?
Trust me; we get help from other people. What we do
wouldn’t be possible without the other customers. Why?
OK, look at that guy over there by the kitchen supplies.
See him? He’s wearing a cream-colored shirt. Yeah, that
guy I see quite often at some of the local garage sales. I
don’t know if he’s an antique dealer or a collector or what.
Anyways, I love seeing him because he is the barter king.
Every time he goes to pay for something, he’ll try to lower
the price. Even if the item only costs fifty cents, he’ll try to
get the price down to a quarter.
The funny part is seeing the reaction of the seller.
What’s the word I’m looking for . . . stoic?
Remember this. Just because someone is selling an
item doesn’t mean they want to get rid of it. It more often
stems from need than it does from desire.
Sellers take lower offers like they do spit in the face.
Understand?
In the garage sale community, barter is an ugly word.
That’s why we do the exact opposite.
We’re the cold water after an hour in the sun. And when
we’re done hosing them down, they should be ready to
give you a spare key to the house.
Get it?
Pass it on. Preserve.
Alright, enough lessons. There’s a reason we’re doing
this interview at a garage sale. I need to see you in action.
Go ahead. Take a look around.
And remember, we’re the good guys.
So find an item and pick it up.
Check for stains.
Look for scratches. Expiration dates. Bends or tears.
Anything that would bring down its value.
Okay, you’ve got that part down.
Now it’s time to think of a story.
Go ahead. Tell me. cs

Go online for more fiction at


www.cesium-online.com

art / 10
(Saipan) poem by Dave Donovan
was the place but im equally sure and i think
of battle that jimmy dropped a few
and uncles himself beforehand if my uncle Jimmy
the death and the man who killed him
of my uncle Jimmy farmer’s kids too could rise together
that learned to aim
we learned this for the treeline one last time
at an early age and write hopeful
letters back home i think i might know
the south pacific where they
that broadway and all these years later would
never sang about comes news that aim
American congressmen their
where illinois farm kids have been using Saipan rifles.
learned to aim as a vacation getaway
for the tree-line
and write hopeful letters to fuck teenage girls
back home and arrange sweatshop factory
jobs
uncle Jimmy fell for the other teenagers
and never got back up not so lucky

art / 11
(Marilyn, Full of Grace)
fiction by Chuck Dooley

The airport is desolate in the morning and I’m not re- remember it’s a 12-hour flight and that’s way too long to
ally sure where to go, so I just walk forward until I see have a disgruntled seatmate. Instead, I just keep my eyes
someone who works there. I end up in front of the United straight ahead at the seat in front of me, some guy’s Wall
ticket counter, with harsh lights illuminating the early Street Journal poking over the top.
morning darkness, and a woman who looks like she’s been And then the captain comes on, or maybe it’s just a
preserved. From the oversized tag on her shirt I see her far away flight attendant, or maybe God, but I swear I
name is Jan, and she’s cheery for it being four in the morn- hear a deep voice say, “For those of you closing a chapter
ing and I just stand at the counter with a suitcase and a of your lives, we’ll be showing The Notebook as our on-
bulging carry-on, and ask for a ticket. board entertainment.”
“And where will we be traveling today?” she asks, That’s when I lose it and start crying, and the lady de-
punching keys quickly on the computer in front of her. bates whether or not to say something. The old man just
I tell her I don’t know. She looks up over the lip of the sleeps, his bald head against the window and the world
plastic countertop, a plausible combination of both confu- rushing quickly by below, leading to vast ocean. It all feels
sion and interest. Jan kind of half-laughs and asks again, like a deeper metaphor.
like I was kidding the whole damn time, and I just tell her
straight-faced that I don’t know where I’m going, but I say ***
that I know a little Spanish from college. Then she jokingly
suggests Madrid, telling me that she’s always wanted to go He’s down on one knee, holding the ring up to me, trying
there but never had the opportunity. I say that sounds good, his hardest to be romantic in the situation, but Lord knows
sounds nice and pretty, and she pauses for a moment before there’s no way to be romantic with this hanging over us, over
her fingers continue their flight over the keys. She realizes our twenty-something heads.
it’s not a joke, and maybe its because she can tell there are “Will you make me the happiest man alive, Marilyn?”
tears just welled up, full of pressure behind my eyes. he says, his hands shaking with that tiny diamond ring he
She tells me it will cost 1800 bucks. I hand her my Visa bought on credit, hoping that I’ll say yes because his big-
and she swipes it. She hands it back and it’s warm. gest fear has always been abrupt rejection, and I don’t really
want to say yes, but his blue eyes are fixed on me, begging.
*** I can feel my stomach turning for a thousand different rea-
sons, and the stars are looking down in disapproval, but I just
I’m on the plane finally in Chicago, after a short connect- say yes because it’s easier than not.
ing flight from home and a huge ticket mix-up in O’Hare. I We drink sparkling grape juice to celebrate out in the
shove my stuffed bag in the overhead and sit down, some cornfield, where he says, “Mary, this is it. It’s like we’re clos-
geriatric patient on one side and some middle-aged lady ing a chapter of our lives and opening a brand new one,”
chewing her nails to the quik on the other. while he strokes my hand. Then we drive back to our apart-
Next thing I know, we’re in the air, those giant engines ment, where we go to sleep, and he puts his arm around me
whirring to my right, the clouds surrounding us, climbing like everything is going to be okay. And maybe it is, but I just
to 30,000 feet. The flight attendant says, “Miss, would you lay there and stare out the window at the half moon and won-
like a drink?” and I say yes, give me three of those mini- der if this is fate making me slow down and where exactly
bottles of vodka. She asks if I want any orange juice, but happiness comes from and a million other things that I can’t
I just shake my head, no thanks, and she asks if I would talk to Ben about.
maybe like some tonic water, but I’m already breaking the
seal on the second bottle. I jolt up in my seat, the plane is shaking something
The woman next to me takes a break from her ragged awful, and I notice the old man is upright too. My eyes feel
nails to watch this thin creature put down three shots rapid- like giant puffs of tissue, but I look to the woman next to
fire. I can tell she’s eyeing me, and I want to turn and tell me anyway, and she just pats my arm and says, “It’s okay
her to take a picture because it’ll last longer, but then I honey, we’re here.”

art / 12
When I step off the plane and into the airport, it’s a into the twisted streets, and it reminds me of a tangled cir-
whole different world, and I’m in a slow-motion kind of cul- culatory system, which in turn reminds me that I haven’t
ture shock, because I hadn’t really thought this far ahead taken my pulse in a long time. I feel for my wrist, find the
and I’m not really sure what to do. People rush past me steady beat and count for a minute. 84. Not bad.
speaking all kinds of languages and I try to remember my Carrying over the sound of bells calling the faithful
Spanish and tell myself that it’s just like riding a bike, that to worship is the lady that walks around aimlessly on my
you never forget, but for some reason I’m forgetting all my street, up and down and back and forth in the crowded
verbs and don’t even think I could say, “Hello, my name is alley, praying her rosary loud into the sky. Why she doesn’t
Marilyn,” at this point. go to church is beyond me, but I figured that’s between
I make my way outside and spot a cab with a man lan- her and God, and in the meantime I’ve been listening to
guishing inside in the summer heat. I pull open the door her for close to a month, every day I’ve been here, and it’s
and launch my bags into the backseat, and he barely looks become somewhat reassuring. I was so intrigued that one
back at me, just eyes me a little too long in the rearview day I inexplicably found myself thumbing through books
mirror before he mumbles, Dónde usted esta dirigido, and on Catholicism and the rosary at an outdoor book market,
I just freeze because I can’t even figure out what he said. I and now that I know what she’s saying, sometimes I follow
piece together the words in my head before I ask him to say along or mumble it under my breath.
it again, slower this time, and explain that I’m not from here. She’s at the end of the Fourth Joyful Mystery, leading
He laughs and then says it again, this time with a ridiculous into the Our Father when there’s a knock at the door, and I
pause between each word, and I finally understand him, sort of jump, half because I’m still meditating on the pre-
even with his eyes crawling all over me in the mirror. sentation of Jesus, and half because I’m not expecting any
I think about where I want to go, and I realize that I know company. I debate just standing there and not answering
nothing about Madrid. I don’t even have a travel guide or the door, pretending that I’m asleep, or that I’m some-
a map, so I try to think of a memorable location from my where else altogether, lost and wandering in the streets of
Spanish classes, and the only thing that I can think of is Madrid, mingling with the other millions who are running
the Basilica de San Francisco el Grande, from some boring and calling Spain a temporary home. It seemed easier
slide show presentation. He nods once, and the car peels than actual human interaction.
away from the curb, and leads us crazily through a tangled They knock again, and I hear distinctive Spanish from
maze of streets and alleys, to the very center of ancient the other side, a low voice filled with gravel. It’s the guy
Madrid, while my stomach tightens and rolls in the back- that rents the tiny apartment to me, and his high-pitched
seat with every sudden turn. wife with breasts that have to hang down to her knees.
The knock sounds important, and immediately a thousand
*** scenarios run through my head with the Our Father in the
background; they might be with the police, for who knows
The cramps are evil, fucking painful, and all I can do is what reason, or maybe Ben is with them and he’s finally
lie in bed while the Methotrexate and Misoprostol make my tracked me down, and I’ll have to explain what the hell I’m
body reject its uterine lining. They come and go, kind of like doing in Old Madrid, why I ran, and why he won’t be able
waves lapping against the shore, and I wonder if it can feel to name his child.
anything. The clock says two, and with every cramp in my I finally pull open the door to see the short couple
abdomen, the time rolls slower to morning. There’s a cricket standing in front of me, his dark hair obviously dyed, while
outside the window, chirping, as if Mother Nature knows hers turns to a silver gray.
what I’m doing and disapproves. Arrepentido para la interrupción, pero esta carta se
Ben doesn’t know, he’s just rolled over on the other side marcó urgente, he says quickly, and she just nods along as
of the bed, snoring and occupied with dreams of a happy he hands the manhandled envelope to me.
family of three. I pack my bags in the darkness, shoving what- It’s from my friend Maddie, the only person I contacted
ever I can find into the suitcase, and I call for a taxi and wait after arriving in Madrid to tell where she could get a hold
at the curb, doubling over when the pain gets really hard to of me, and that scares me right away, since I told her to
handle, and that cricket still chirping like mad. only get in touch in an emergency. I don’t notice the two
slide back down the stairs to their own shitty apartment.
When I wake up, it’s a slow process, with my eyes open- I slide open the flap on the envelope, lingering over
ing and closing, clearing out the dreams, and then my brain the variety of postmarks on the front and think about how
whirrs into action, figuring out exactly where I am. There much work it took to get the letter from America to gritty,
are church bells ringing, a multitude of them, singing out urban Madrid, and I almost just want to avoid whatever is
in various tones and rhythms and my head is still cloudy inside and just dwell on the intricacies of that. But I open
from the sleeping pill I took around four in the morning to it anyway, and pull out the small piece of notebook paper
shut my mind up. I eventually stand at the window of my first. I can hear that same lady out in the street, praying like
tiny apartment, the only cheap apartment I could find after God is listening to only her, and the Hail Mary floats in and
hours of wandering around Old Madrid, and look down out of my window.

art / 13
Dios te salve, María. Llena eres de gracia: El Señor he’s a star he thinks he knows what fashion is, but he’s still
es contigo. a man, and I bet he tries to wear a brown belt and black
The note is short, and it says that she thought I might shoes until his maid stops him.
like to see the attached newspaper clipping and that we And all of that is exactly why I take him home. He comes
should really talk as soon as possible, and I pull the sec- back to my too-small apartment and locks the door behind
ond folded piece of paper out of the wrinkled envelope. It us and makes me strip for him, half barking and half-urg-
looks like the guy and his wife tried ing, más lento, pele más lento. He says
to get into it before me. As my fingers fold it open, my my breasts are too small, and I’m
Bendita tú eres entre todas las eyes jump to the picture of getting dizzy from the second-shelf
mujeres. Y bendito es el fruto de tu
vientre: Jesús.
Ben, and he’s smiling just like I alcohol when he proceeds to fuck me
roughly, until my legs are sore and
As my fingers fold it open, my remember him... bruised, and I want to cry out and tell
eyes jump to the picture of Ben, and him, but I don’t, I just lay there.
he’s smiling just like I remember him, a huge goofy grin Because he’s nothing like Ben. That’s why I do all of this.
for miles and short cropped brown hair messily arranged
like he just got out of bed. Classic Ben. ***
Santa María, Madre de Dios-
I pull it to my face, read it closer and it says he’s dead, I’m ridiculously sick, my head throbbing from what-
killed himself with a shot to the head, and strangely, I im- ever I managed to put in my body over the course of the
mediately wonder where he got the gun. He wasn’t the evening and I keep throwing up all over the place, my eyes
kind of guy that owned a gun. It’s dated two weeks ago, at closed, just hoping to find the toilet. After the sick spell
least according to my calendar, which could be off too. passes, I sit at the window, just like I have every morning
Ruega por nosotros pecadores, ahora y en la hora de for months, not knowing what to do or where I need to be,
nuestra muerte. and it bothers me. I get up and get dressed, avoiding the
I want to cry, I want to cry, and God I wish I could. But mirror, because I don’t like what I see anymore and lis-
between the Misoprostol and random sobbing attacks ten to the woman running through her rosary again. It’s a
while walking through the street markets, there’s nothing Tuesday or a Friday, I’m not really sure which because the
left, really, just a void. A hole in my being, where I file the calendar has lost all meaning to me, and the only reason I
clipping and the enclosing calling card for safekeeping. can tell is because she’s on the first Sorrowful Mystery, and
The room goes to a spin, and I fumble for a chair before I she’s like the atomic clock of prayers.
hit the wood floor. I’m feeling empty and the tea I made isn’t helping, so
Amen. for some reason I decide to go to the Cathedral that sits
close to my apartment. I’ve walked past it before when I’m
*** out at the street markets, sometimes going up to the heavy
wood-engraved doors, putting my palm on the handle and
We’re drinking and drinking and the bottle doesn’t considering pulling, but I always drop it and walk away,
seem to go down. The liquor just floats at the same level, feeling ashamed and lost and stupid. But today I’m there,
and it occurs to me that the bartender is bringing us new and the door is in front of me, and all I can hear are those
bottles of gin and putting it on our tab. I briefly wonder just sorrowful mysteries in my head and I pull open the door
how much each sip is costing me, but then I pour myself an- without a hesitation and walk straight in.
other glass, strong and probably close to one part gin and It’s dark, there’s no light streaming through the giant
one part tonic, and forget about the whole damn thing. stained glass windows, each depicting a station of the
I’m sitting across from Gabrio, some television per- cross, the only light coming from the candles lit towards
sonality I’ve never heard of and just met randomly tonight the front, which is good because any more light and my
while I sat alone at a small pub, and he’s talking and talk- head would start pounding again. They’re burning a deep
ing, and it seems like he can’t shut up. He’s a complete red, casting a warm hue over the place, and there are sev-
dick, totally self-absorbed and artificial and now really eral women kneeling in front of the candles, praying softly
drunk off my offered gin. The conversation meanders, one to themselves, and I suddenly get scared because I feel
second telling me about how he personally tracked down like I don’t belong.
his maid when she was kidnapped, and then about how he I slide into a pew and sit, not really sure what I had
uses Preparation H to get rid of bags under his eyes, but planned on doing once I got here. It seemed like the
doesn’t want anyone to know about it and I’m not to men- woman outside my apartment, the women kneeling up
tion it ever again. I notice that Gabrio wears his sideburns front, everyone else knew what they were looking for, and
long, and he thinks it’s fashionable but I want to remind him I was left clueless. Muddled Spanish rises from the front,
that Elvis was doing that years ago and that he’s no fashion but I manage to pick out a lone prayer or two in English
pioneer, no matter how expensive his suit is. I guess since among the others.

art / 14
I look up to the stained glass windows with the prayers the beginning of architecture, and I imagine they are just
and Our Fathers filling the background like muzak. My eyes ready to fall over stone by stone into the street. The driver
land on the Fourth Station of the Cross, another tidbit that I alternates between obscene hand gestures out the win-
stumbled upon from my studies of the Catholic religion, and dow to troublesome pedestrians and suggestive glances
I recognize Mary meeting her son on the way to his death, at my tank top through the rear view mirror, and then holds
and she’s devastated, and actually faints from the shock. She the piece of paper with the address up to his face, close to
knows the sorrow in every mother’s heart who has lost a child, his nose, like he needs glasses, and he probably does. He
the book said grimly, and I wonder if I qualify, or if I was looks at the paper too long, studies it, and I close my eyes
excluded through some kind of technicality. so I won’t watch us drift off the road into oncoming traffic,
I study that stained glass, at Mary watching her son but he seems confident of the vehicle’s path.
march to his crucifixion, and I wonder if anyone told her He looks back at my tank top, and I pull it up by the
that she was closing a chapter of her life. straps, even if there’s not really much to look at, and then
Which only makes me wonder what my child could he asks me why I’m headed to Miraflores, partly because
have been, and where Ben is, and I wonder if its all my fault I don’t belong on that side of Madrid, and partly because
for running, or if I’m forgiven because I’m only 22 and just he’s trying to distract me from the fact that he keeps sneak-
out of school and scared and not sure if I even loved him, ing peaks at my chest. I briefly consider telling him that it’s
let alone wanted to marry him, or if I can ever be forgiven none of his damn business, but the realization that I’m alone,
at all. And I start to cry again, masses of tears breaking locked in the car with this strange smelling pervert quickly
through that barrier with all that thinking, just me in a big sets in and I lie instead, telling him that I’m going to inter-
Cathedral, with vaulted ceilings that go up and never stop, view with a television personality for a maid position.
letting the sound mix in with the prayers and echo end- He perks up. Quién es?
lessly to God’s ears. The ladies up front don’t notice the “Gabrio.” I pause, trying to remember his full name.
crying, they’re focused. “Gabrio Allende Santiago?”
To thee I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. The cab driver lets out a gasp, like he himself has just
O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, met Gabrio, or the Pope for that matter, and starts chat-
but in thy mercy, hear and answer me. tering about all things television. I try to keep up, but the
And for a split moment, I think they’ve been praying screeching wheels and wind flying through the windows
for me the whole time. makes it hard to hang on and so I just pretend that I can
hear every word, just to stay on his good side and keep
*** him from giving me the run-around on the fare. Then the
driver starts chuckling, really perverse like he just heard
Encinta, he says, making some vague marks on his clip- a sick joke, and says quite matter-of-factly that he hears
board as I sit on the exam table in what could only be de- Gabrio is hung like a horse, and it makes me want to laugh
scribed as a hygienic tarp, and the cold steel still radiates and say otherwise, but I keep it to myself.
through the thin material and chills the back of my thighs.
Usted está encinta, the doctor says, like it’s no big deal, and I The house is impressive, at least coming from the
think for a moment he was going to congratulate me on the cramped city living I’ve been used to; it’s a bright white,
results of my tests, except he sees that I am by no means freshly painted and well-kept, with simple black shutters
excited by the news. The room is uncomfortably quiet while adorning the large picture windows all over the front.There’s
he scratches away on that damn sheet, and I can only think a tall, black wrought iron fence surrounding the property,
that this is some sick joke played on God’s behalf. which looks like it extends into a decent-sized backyard,
He asks me if I have any questions or concerns, and I and the path leading to the front door is meticulously land-
can only manage to shake my head and get dressed quick- scaped with Pollock-like swashes of color in every shape
ly and leave the office, not really sure where to go. and form imaginable, and all of it together makes the task of
I stop in a small shop for a cup of coffee, hoping the walking up to the door seem a little more imposing.
caffeine will jolt me back into the present from the surreal- I tell the cab driver to wait there as I slide out of the
ist image my world has become, and I’m sure coffee won’t car, trying to angle my body so he doesn’t look at my ass,
hurt the baby, but I’m not really. but he insists on accompanying me up to the door, and we
argue about it for a good few minutes. It’s obvious that he
*** just wants to catch a glimpse of Gabrio and maybe even
his fabled package but he plays it off like it’s the gentle-
The taxi is flying through the streets at an alarming rate, manly thing to do and some sort of Spanish tradition, at
just booking around corners and I wonder if they train all that. I finally give in, throwing my hands in the air and turn
the cab drivers in Madrid to drive like maniacs, or if they to start the long walk, and the cab driver bails out and is
all just began their careers in New York. We’re passing quickly at my side.
stone buildings that look like they’ve been around since After I ring the doorbell, we wait for what feels like

art / 15
forever, but is really probably just thirty seconds, and a The bar is dark, and I like it because it lets me hide
woman not much older than my mother answers the door, in the shadows, tucked into the corner towards the back,
a head full of gray above the healthy tan. I ask if Gabrio is even though the actual place isn’t that big. The brick walls
in, and she says no, he’s left for a location shoot somewhere absorb the light coming off the tables from the hundreds
in Europe, but her accent is way too thick and I can’t make of small candles, and it’s just enough for me to see the
out the exact spot, although the cab driver is nodding like faded notebook paper in my hands, crinkled and worn
a stupid lackey, and the maid says it will be quite a while from a week of re-readings. It’s from Maddie, her last reply
before he will be home again. to the letter I sent off hastily after the doctor proclaimed
And then the maid gets this incredibly suspicious the news while scribbling messily on the clipboard.
look on her face, like we’re there to rape her and steal the And it’s a short one, one line standing out in smudged
wrought iron, and I don’t suppose I blame her, considering black ink from the page.
the two of us standing at the doorstep look like quite the Are you keeping it?
ragtag bunch, a pasty brunette and a fragrant, squatty cab It’s signed Love, Maddie, but that part is lost on me, and
driver. She raises the duster in her hand, like it will protect all I can see is that one line, slightly off-centered and a sin-
her, and I want to suggest holding it in front of her chest, gular punctuation mark lobbing the biggest question my
but before I can do that, she starts snapping thick Spanish way since I arrived eight months ago in this city, complete
in our direction, demanding to know what we want. with rushing cabbies, no air conditioning and a woman
I start backing away, and she’s threatening to call for that says the rosary like it’s her job. I sink further into the
the police, and I can’t figure out what the hell we ever did corner, with smoke obscuring my vision, and I feel it in-
to her, but she’s still shouting demands to know what we vading my hair, my pores.
want, and I just try to say that I wanted to talk to him about I finger the label on the bottle of gin in front of me,
his television show, or some lame excuse like that, but I slowly peeling off from the heat in the bar and my inces-
forget the Spanish word for “show” and it comes out as sant picking, even though the alcohol inside hasn’t been
“explosion,” which is ridiculously similar. My piecemeal touched. I consider keeping at it until the label is gone,
language only makes her more suspicious, and then she and then I wouldn’t know what’s in the bottle and I wouldn’t
ducks back inside, slams the door shut, and I can hear the feel bad about drinking it. It seemed like decent logic, at
deadbolt latching rudely. least for the given situation.
We walk quickly back to the cab, and I make a point The letter hits the table and I turn my attention to the
to look over my shoulder every plane ticket Maddie included
few steps just in case the maid We walk quickly back to the cab, and I with the letter. Flight 2530 from
finds a shotgun and I tell the make a point to look over my shoulder Madrid, connecting in Chicago
cab driver to go back the way
we came. He pulls away from
every few steps just in case the maid and then back home, leaving in
a week at nine in the morning.
the curb and we drive in silence finds a shotgun... Back home, as if there is such
for a few minutes, but I can tell a thing anymore. The gin label
he’s trying to figure out what the hell just happened. Qué peels off completely and crumples into my hand.
el jode? he says without looking back, and I wonder if he I lock eyes with the bottle. It makes a persuasive argument.
was saying it to himself. I just look out the window, and he The bartender comes over to the table, his olive skin ob-
utters the obscene question again, louder this time, and I scured in the lighting and stands in front of me, the shadows
can tell he’s starting to put the pieces together. He turns making him look strangely demonic and sinister. He places
around and says that I’m full of shit and says I wasn’t going his palm on the table and leans forward, and I concentrate
to interview for a maid job. on his eyes, just let those dark eyes come in, and it reminds
I sarcastically tell him that he’s a genius, and ask what me of Ben for some reason, which unsettles me.
exactly tipped him off from our interaction a few minutes “Is everything okay?” he asks.
back, and it pisses him off, but I don’t really care at this “No,” I say in English and realize it’s the same in Span-
point, as my head is spinning anyway. He demands to know ish. He doesn’t press the issue.
why the hell I took a 45 minute cab ride out to Miraflores,
and I let the question hang in the stale air for a few mo- ***
ments, as I decide how to answer.
I catch the driver’s eyes in the rearview mirror and tell I look Ben in the eye, my hands folded into his, and I can’t
him that I’m pregnant with Gabrio’s kid. help it, I can’t help it at all, and I just start crying. It’s a full body
The cab driver mumbles something, sounds like sure, cry, the kind where you can feel the tears squeezing out from
bitch, and for the last 35 minutes I watch Madrid pass by in your toes and fingertips and it feels like all of humanity crying
our collective silence. through you. He just keeps his gaze straight out to some far off
spot while my head sinks down into his shoulder.
*** “I’m sorry,” I say. It’s only two words but they feel much

art / 16
weightier coming out of my mouth. His finger pulls a tear
away from my cheek and it’s classic Ben.
“I only want you to be happy,” he says quietly, and I
squeeze his hand a little tighter, if only because I know it’s
true. “I never meant to-“
“I know, I know.”
“You don’t want to go back, do you?” he says authorita-
tively, like he already knows the answer, which I guess he
does anyway. I shake my head and sniffle.
And the plane tickets are now somehow in his hands,
and he’s ripping them in half, into quarters and smaller
pieces. Then he opens his palms and we watch the tickets
take with the breeze, fluttering out of sight, flying just like
plane tickets should.
“Find yourself a home,” he says. “For the two of you.”

I wake up, and the sun is just peaking over the city. I
reach for my suitcase, and begin packing. cs

art / 17
(audibles)
This issue, our resident music maven, Brian Tambascio takes a look at three bands living on the
musical fringe and searching for some mainstream love.

The Audience’s Listening • Cut Chemist

For those of us that aren’t underground, turntablist Cut Chemist (Lucas MacFad-
den) is best known for being a member of the seminal hip-hop group Jurassic
5. The veteran DJ shows his love for scratching and hip-hop on his major label
solo debut, The Audience’s Listening, which includes a plethora of mad beats,
but nevertheless, fails to forge new territory. There are a handful of tracks that
shine, such as “The Garden,” which features a chilled vibe and a smooth bossa
nova guitar; “Storm” plays host to an addictive, futuristic backbeat accom-
panied by rappers Edan and Mr. Lif.  Unfortunately there are more than a few
misses, like “Spat,” an odd scratching telephone conversation that seems out of
place, and “What’s the Attitude,” a drab and vapid track wasting rapper Hym-
nal’s abilities. While not an album for everyone, for the turntable freaks among
us, The Audience’s Listening gives us a scratch or two for a long-suffering itch.

The Garden • Zero 7

Welcome to trippy folk-synth wrapped in acid jazz-rock. Zero 7’s third album
to date features more vocals than previously heard, leading us to believe the
band isn’t made completely of robots. The group’s founders, Henry Binns and
Sam Hardaker, call in lots of guest vocalists, including Sia and Jose Gonzalez, to
add a touch of class to the newest definition for chill. A handful of songs, such as
“The Pageant of the Bizarre” and “Today” feature laid back electronic grooves
over soft vocals, yielding a smooth combo you could do yoga to. The album also
shoehorns in a vast array of summer night jams such as “This Fine Social Scene,”
which features a haunting chorus, and a mindfully instrumental piece entitled
“Seeing Things.” Unfortunately for individuals who prefer more up-tempo dance
tunes, Zero 7 has little to say this time around, but connoisseurs of easy listening
fusion should dig into The Garden.

Civilian • Boy Kill Boy

In the long-going heat flash of mediocre groups from the UK desperately try-
ing to make a second coming of the British invasion, we finally find one worth
discussing.  Don’t let the name fool you into thinking these guys are some sort of
satanic metal band because their hook-laden Brit rock is anything but foul. The
first single, “Suzie,” landed them in the middle of the music press’ radar, with a
pop rock sound that found them compared them to indie stalwarts Hard-Fi (a
band, coincidentally enough, is from the same area in London). Even though the
album sports more of an upbeat post-punk vibe with tunes like “Six Minutes”
and “Back Again,” the boys kill with dead-on ballads “Ivy Parker” and “Shoot Me
Down.” Being compared to heavyweights The Cure and Oasis may only serve
to blow up Boy Kill Boy’s ego, but their album can stand up to the comparisons.
Don’t turn your back on Civilian.

The rating scale? Read the beakers.


1 beaker: Pass on it • 2 beakers: Only if you’re a fan • 3 beakers: Damn good • 4 beakers: Buy now!
Make sure to get more music for your inner music geek on www.cesium-online.com

me•di•a / 18
(a closer look)
This issue, Cesium reviews a band a litle closer to home and looks at the debut album from
Iowa City’s Death Ships.

Death Ships
Seeds of Devastation

The strange thing about bands hailing from the great


landlocked state of Iowa is that no one, from fans them-
selves to the fickle music press, seems to expect much;
as if Iowans playing music are inevitably just passing
time before they return to the cornfields. And ironically,
local bands that achieve any level of popular recogni-
tion always seem to be bordering on the extreme (e.g.
Slipknot), perhaps in an attempt to escape that mould of
Iowans being musically indistinctive.
So you can imagine it was a relief when Death
Ships, hailing from Iowa City, Iowa (an artistic and
musical center in its own right) showed up and re-
leased their first full length, Seeds of Devastation. An exercise in subtlety, it both embodies elements that
sound extremely worldly, and at the same time, so very Midwest.
The sound is rooted firmly in the alt-county roots of their peers, echoing of Wilco and early Sun Volt, with
an artistic spaciness that rings of the Great Plains and the wide open spaces. The entire disc is home to airy guitar
parts gently layered over each other, and the end result is a haunting, ambient drone; perfect for an evening of deep
thought outdoors. “Little Mystery,” is perhaps the epitome of Death Ship’s ability to conjure up cowboys of the Old
West; likewise, on “Great American,” when lead singer Dan Maloney drawls, “This is the great American…ideology,”
you can almost imagine he’s singing the soundtrack of covered wagons and Manifest Destiny.
Of course, to define Seeds of Devastation solely through the country angle would be a massive injustice
to a band that is more Neil Young than Lyle Lovett. Death Ships seem to revel in taking a song that appears con-
tent to remain achingly gentle and then turning up the volume. Tracks like “Grand Deceiver of Information” and
“Story Never Gets Old” demonstrate their ability to both harness a little distortion (just a dab) and Beatlesque
melodies to measured effect; “City Never Sleeps” builds and builds, culminating in a dramatic rock fashion.
Sure, Death Ships have a certain level of equilibrium that they tend to gravitate towards (always playing with
emotion, but never too much), but the album has enough variety to keep both the pop-heads and the country
boys agreeable.
One can surmise that Death Ships entered the studio looking to explore their sound, and it’s admirable;
in the end, there are a few tracks where the experiment goes a bit awry. “Sarah” finds the band starting off with a
quirky guitar riff that quickly heads into campy Cake territory (who the hell brought the trumpet to the studio?),
but fortunately those moments are few and far between on this album. And when it’s all said and done, Seeds of
Devastation shapes up to be a promising release from a band that’s bound to break the Iowa curse. cs

Track picks: Great American, Little Mystery, Echo Children

You can hear more from the Death Ships at their myspace page:
www.myspace.com/deathships
and
www.deathships.com

me•di•a / 19
(mixtape)
In our latest feature, we take a look at a few of the tunes getting stuck
in the editors’ heads this time around.

The Envy Corps – Story Problem


Sure, it sounds like something Modest Mouse might have put on the B side of Good News for People Who Love
Bad News, but you can’t have much more fun than this band from Ames, Iowa. We’re especially suckers for the
sing-a-long at the end, if only because we love to sing along too.

Ghostface – The Champ


Part Rocky, part classic Wu Tang flow, this song blows us away with Ghostface’s uncanny ability to drop semi-
obscure cultural references into thick lines like, “You staring at the angel of death/Liar liar, pants on fire/you
burning up like David Koresh.” Genius.

The Format – Time Bomb


Arizona-based The Format seems to channel classic A.M. radio melodies into this focused ear-pleaser off
their latest release, Dog Problems. Close your eyes while vocalist Nate Ruess wails, “Was it worth it?” and think
about all those old breakups you’ve tried hard to forget.

Rhymefest – Fever
Ok, ok, so it might qualify as a guilty pleasure, but Rhymefest, the Chicago-born rapper brought up in the shadow
of Kanye West, brings us this track from Blue Collar. The perfect song for the summer’s blistering heat, his low-
key jabs at mainstream hip-hop (“I made a billion dollars on ringtones!”) turn it into a keeper.

Dub Trio – Cool Out and Coexist


Part heavy, heavy metal, part laid back dub style, it’s like these guys don’t want to choose a particular genre,
and that more than works for us. They transition from intense, pounding double bass assaults to groove-driven
stoner dub, with plenty of grey area in-between. For those who can’t decide if they’re pissed off or relaxed
(like us).

Snow Patrol – Chasing Cars


Off the newest release from these indie-rock stalwarts, Snow Patrol never fail to bowl us over with what seems,
on a purely surface level look, like standard pop lyrics and instrumentation. A soft, sweet tune that ends with
an amazing wall of sound. Lush would describe it properly.

Feist – Mushaboom
It starts out with what sounds like a band tuning up, turns into a sunny-day melody with soft hand claps in the
background, and finally transforms into a song you’ll never get out of your damn head. Do yourself a favor, and
watch the video. Preferably drunk or stoned.

Junior Boys – In The Morning


Sounding like a more experimental and techno Postal Service, Junior Boys create one of the sexiest, andro-
genic grooves of late. Ziggy Stardust eat your heart out; if it was up to us, we’d probably label it post-astro-
fuck.

The Six Parts Seven - A Blueprint of Something Never Finished


A haunting dirge making the most of atmospheric guitar hums and a few drums in an empty room. Listen
closely and you can hear Brian Eno’s spirit floating in the background. A must for listeners who like down-
tempo Radiohead or The Books.

Want to hear these tunes without having to buy the album? Check out links to these
artists’ myspace pages on www.cesium-online.com

me•di•a / 20
(return to the cult)
This issue, our resident cinema expert, Brian Tambascio pays tribute to the comic legend Rodney
Dangerfield, and his frequently forgotten cult hit, Back to School

Some background

In 1986, standup comedian Rodney Dangerfield (famously on the


receiving end of no respect) was quickly completing the transition
from a comic mainstay in New York to that of actor. After popular
roles in Caddyshack and Easy Money, Dangerfield would co-write
and star in Back to School, a light-hearted movie depicting Danger-
field’s return to the academic world after years as a successful busi-
nessman selling big and tall suits. Featuring great performances
by Sam Kinison as a Vietnam-obsessed history professor, and Sally
Kellerman as Dangerfield’s English professor and love interest, the
movie was, strangely enough, a huge success for Orion Pictures,
eventually grossing well over 100 million dollars (one of the first
major comedies to do so), and is generally regarded as some of
Dangerfield’s best cinematic work (for what it’s worth).

What’s the big deal?

At the surface, nothing really. Watching Back to School today may


seem like no big deal, but the truth is that the film remains one of
the direct forefathers of the collegiate comedy; following in Animal
House’s footsteps, Back to School would go on to influence movies
a spate of films, from PCU to Old School. Dangerfield’s antics and
hilarious one-liners (“Bring us a pitcher of beer every seven min-
utes until somebody passes out. And then bring one every ten min-
utes.”), much like John Belushi’s as Bluto, would become a template
for the wisecracking party glutton in every teen/college comedy
since. Watch the cinematic montage of Dangerfield preparing for his final exams (including the reading of textbooks in the
shower), and then watch the end of Van Wilder, the successful collegiate comedy from 2002; you might experience deja vu.

Of course, just because Back to School was one of the original college romps isn’t enough to secure cult status. The movie
is not only home to several Oscar-nominated actors (Sally Kellerman, and Ned Beatty as the dean), but also great pop
culture references. A running gag finds author Kurt Vonnegut showing up to write Dangerfield’s English paper (which
receives an F and Kellerman’s stern reproach, “Whoever wrote this paper doesn’t know anything about Vonnegut!”),
and the popular 80’s band Oingo Boingo playing at one of Dangerfield’s dorm parties. The room in which Dangerfield
takes his final oral exam is the same room used for Alex Owen’s audition in Flashdance. Obscure references and inside
jokes are what really serve to catapult Back to School into that vaunted realm of cult film.

The cult legacy?

After the 80’s, college comedies seemed to pop up everywhere, Animal House was rediscovered by a new generation
(released on a special edition DVD), and Back to School seemed to get lost in the midst. However, with the rise of the
internet and the release onto DVD in 2003, cult fans continued to hold Back to School in a special place, writing about
the film on websites like 80’s Retro Rewind. Comedy Central eventually added Back to School to its roster, potentially
introducing the movie to a whole new generation of people who didn’t even know Rodney Dangerfield, and the band
Sum 41 even channeled the movie into their music video for “In Too Deep,” featuring the band in a diving competition
(an integral part of the film). Dangerfield passed on in 2004, but is remembered by comedians and cult film buffs alike
for his unique comic style and brief cinematic history.

How should you watch it?

Watch with a Miller High Life and some 80’s new wave on the stereo. cs

me•di•a / 21
(One Man’s Trash)
What’s the ultimate way to save the planet, and maybe
find a decent pizza or two?
Forget recycling, forget carpooling.
We take a look at the
mysterious world of dumpster divers.

Essay by Emily Berregaard

cul•ture / 22
We live in a nation where environmental deteriora- books, packaging, furniture and even electronics. It’s all
tion lies in over-consumption. We are buying too rap- free, and it’s the one place where there’s something for
idly to even use what we’ve got. While the average person everyone. People are generally disgusted when they hear
consumes far more than is necessary to subsist, our rich that you look for goodies in the trash, but after they real-
society is quite oblivious to the fact that our available land- ize how ridiculously bright you are after experiencing it,
fill space is quickly disappearing. According to Biocycle they’re usually up for trying something new.
magazine, in 1990, 247 million tons of non-hazardous waste Of course, there are also hazards to this under-the-radar
was annually being sent to the soil. In 2001, just 11 years pastime; police tend to consider themselves extremely
later, it jumped to 409 million tons. That’s over 1 ton, or clever in finding you rummaging through the dumpsters.
2,240 pounds, per person in the United States. Dumpster diving is not illegal, but because you’re tech-
Industries are shipping off cardboards and plastics nically on private property, all they can do is ask you to
(among various other equipment) to be buried in the leave. Which means they know that they’re starting a game
little amount of space we have left. Along with these reus- of cat and mouse, as you just go to your next location.
able items go a number of chemicals into the soil which For those of you who might be interested, you must first
don’t die once they are buried; they often migrate, leak- learn there are various degrees of dumpster diving, all
ing into waterways, causing an which are important to under-
unbalance in a river’s chemical ...in 1990, 247 million tons of non- stand wholly before going out
makeup, and increasing the hazardous waste was annually being on an expectant quest.
amount of algal blooms – which
won’t disappear for years, even
sent to the soil. In 2001, just 11 years thatFor instance, it is important
divers understand the ap-
if we ceased putting garbage later, it jumped to 409 million tons. propriate seasons of diving.
under ground today. Oh, but Don’t go rummaging after a
you do your part. You recycle your bottles and milk jugs. good rain, for obvious reasons. Always look for hot spots.
I’m proud of you, and I’m sure it helps you sleep at night. Watch for stores going out of business, especially video
But how about another alternative? Some call it “fishing stores—they always throw out antiquated VHS tapes that
the skip.” Others might call it “binning” or “garbing,” but no one will buy, in mass quantities. Mid-May is also a good
to most, it is known simply as dumpster diving. time to go to campus dumpsters, where not-so-clever col-
While it is clear that most Americans dismiss this idea as lege students throw away couches, chairs, desks and even
a hobby for the homeless, it is a shock to me that there isn’t computers in perfect working order. Worksites generally
more blather for the fruitful art of it. For example, I found toss sizeable amounts of firewood, furnishings and power
a perfect, undamaged box of wine glasses (normally $50) sockets. Often times, bookstores will throw away a book
behind a fine home décor shop. I also went without buying with a rip or tear in a page or two, which leaves hundreds
groceries for a month because I was too busy thinking of of books left with their only purpose, and no one to read
ways to use my multitudes of various breads from Panera them. Also, if you want to be extremely thrifty, go to your
Bread. There have been nights when a pizza sounded nice, usual thrift shop’s garbage, and get all of the picked over
but spending money did not. With Papa Johns close by, and clothing items. (Be sure you’re not going through the dona-
their dumpsters conveniently located, 3 or 4 pizzas were tion bin, because then you’re technically stealing.)
ready in no time (discarded because of a mix-up in the The most well known dumpster diving endeavor is the
order, and still warm). expedition for food. It is a little known fact that the anti-
But glassware and pizza aren’t all that can come from hunger organization, Food Not Bombs, gets a significant
swimming in the bins; Carol Tanzi (a.k.a. the Goddess of amount of its food from dumpster diving at small markets
Garbage), is a highly regarded, award winning interior and corporate grocery stores. The USDA estimates that
designer and talk show host. In attempts to make a differ- Americans throw out over 96 billion pounds of perfectly
ence in the environment she took those things that could good food each year.
be reused and turned them into practical design objects Some people question the sanitation of food in a
– including plastic water bottle vases and yogurt container dumpster, but you will be surprised to know that food rou-
candle holders – all from sifting though dumpsters. Tanzi tinely discarded in places like supermarkets and baker-
has made many television and radio appearances, includ- ies is safe for consumption. Of course you must use your
ing on CNN and in the San Francisco Examiner, and contin- judgment; if something smells funky or feels awkwardly
ues to surprise with her crafty recycled designs. squishy, don’t eat it (you’ll regret it). Don’t disregard fruits
Some cultures and societies seem to hold the practice and vegetables. Those are often golden. Supermarkets
in higher esteems; British television recently produced have to throw away any produce that has minor blemishes
a show featuring a house renovation using entirely sal- – they are still completely edible. Just watch out when they
vaged materials, entitled Changing Rooms. There is even have compactors instead of dumpsters – those will eat
a growing academic discipline (dating from 1971) called you alive. Bakeries are primetime because they throw out
garbology, technically defined as, “the study of a society bread that is only one day old. If you’re an ardent diver,
by examining what it discards,” with the largest program you know that going to a bakery more than once a month
run out of the University of Arizona. is usually too much, as when you dive once, you come out
No matter what your particular outlook on the practice, with a surplus.
it’s hard to deny diving can be useful for food, clothing, While divers have to respect authority figures and store

cul•ture / 23
managers, dumpster diving is legal in most states. But to
avoid confrontation, going fishing for goodies is best to do
early in the morning or late at night. Try this at home:
Of course I was a little wary of looking for my regular
supplies in dumpsters, but once I experienced the magic
that is derived from it, there is no turning back. And not
So you’re ready to give dumpster diving
to sound corny, but it has been a positive learning expe- a try? Here’s a quick checklist from our
rience for me as well. It has taught me to use my money resident expert.
more wisely—not spend money on things I know I can get
for free. It has also taught me to not throw things away that • Flashlight.
I know other people can use. Because I am more aware, I Even when you dive during the day, it is hard to
definitely think twice before tossing something out of sig- see in a dumpster, and when you’re in rubbish
nificant value. Maybe if we put our hands together, we can heaven, you’re going to need to know what you’re
help minimize our yearly waste. grabbing at.
Though it sounds risky, dumpster diving is not only
free but is really fun and very fruitful. If you wish to put a
stop to the amount of unnecessary money going towards • Proper clothing.
profiteer corporations and our government, and want to This might sound common sense, but wear cloth-
help do your part to eliminate waste – gather up some ing that protects you and you don’t mind getting
friends and go “fish the skip.” cs dirty. There’s a lot of broken glass and sometimes
unknown chemicals in dumpsters, so it’s good to
be prepared.

• Bring gloves.
You would be surprised (or maybe not) at some of
Interested, but want to read more before you fish the the things you find in the trash, and you may regret
skip? Check out The Art and Science of not having something protecting your hands.
Dumpster Diving by John Hoffman.

Check out www.cesium-online.com for links to Carol


• Take a friend.
If you don’t like something you find, someone else
Tanzi’s website, to see some of her homegrown art.
might. Therefore, you may be able to make more
use of the things you find. Also, a fellow diver al-
ways has your back and watches out for you, and it
is good to have someone there in case you get hurt.

• Check the date.


Be aware of when garbage day is. You want to get
a more bountiful amount of goodies, so make sure
to go right before garbage day.

• Clean up.
Make sure and leave the area nicer than when
you came, there are plenty of places that now
how dumpsters locked up and/or have barbed
wire because diving is viewed as a problem. So,
be respectful and keep the garbage open for the
rest of us.

• Be selective.
Don’t waste your time with restaurants or office
dumpsters. Restaurant waste bins really only have
a few tomato slices and funky smells, and office
dumpsters are full of files and paper cuts.

cul•ture / 24
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(Tuesdays with
Walken)

He’s a legend. But why?


Illustration by Court Jones
essay by T.J. Washington
It doesn’t set in until midway through Domino late one evening. That is, that he’s the exact same
in every movie; not in terms of characters played, but in terms of persona. And the fact that it has
taken me so long to realize it probably means that I’m behind the curve.
To explain, Christopher Walken is featured as a selfish television executive in the film Domino. He
plays it well, which is really just a nice way of saying that he’s playing it the same damn way he played
it in Wayne’s World II. And Catch Me If You Can. And Pulp Fiction. While it has taken years of cinematic
observation (at least on my part), I’ve finally honed my scientific observations: Christopher Walken
always plays the part of Christopher Walken.
How can a man, obviously inhabiting so many different roles, always inevitably play himself, you
may ask. The answer is rather simple, and anyone who has watched more than a handful of movies
featuring the larger-than-life figure would come to the same conclusion; Walken has made a career
of being that awkward guy, the semi-outcast, the strange man with pathos. He carries a distinct
accent, talking in fits of starts, stops and inevitably grand pauses, reminiscent of Shatner, but even
better. He draws from the same bag of facial expression in every role, which brings up his face in
general, one of the most distinctive looks in Hollywood today.
He is instantly recognizable, a cultural stalwart of cinema. And no matter what role he is playing,
from serious drama to goofy comedy, these attributes persist, coloring his character to a thin line of
camp. He is Walken; anything else would be inauthentic.
And we love him for it.
Ruminating on this character, this man many of us have literally grown up with, I realized that
Christopher Walken had accomplished the rare feat of transcending his human limitations, what
God gave him, to become something bigger. An active metaphor for generations of moviegoers and
pop culture nerds. But just what, to be exact, would be difficult to pin down.

***
Already pushing into his 60’s, Walken has lately found bias, so I asked a few lead-up questions (“Hey, man,” “Can
himself playing uncles, fathers and the like more and more I ask you a question,” “Do you watch a lot of movies,” etc.)
frequently, with the best examples being 2004’s indepen- to prime my subject. Of course, at the end of the day I’m
dent film, Around the Bend, and 2005’s modern cult clas- a writer, not a social scientist, so I didn’t really have a set
sic, Wedding Crashers. He’s an actor growing gracefully process (so much for the scientific method). I just talked
into his age, a living legend akin to Hopkins and Hoffman, about Walken, as long as it felt natural to talk about such a
watching fledgling actors treat him with a deference re- figure, and then we went on our way.
served for elders. Of course, there were the people who were indifferent,
And yet, one can’t help but wonder how members of who felt no connection to the man. There were people who
the Net Generation (also referred to semi-affectionately seemed nervous, like I was stalling just long enough to
as Generation Y) feel such affection for a man that is often coordinate some sort of terrorist ambush. But, I am proud
older than their parents. When I find myself and my friends to say, if only as a defense for an entire article about a sup-
at cultural odds with the Baby Boomers and even Genera- porting member of 2005’s questionable The Country Bears,
tion X (who came directly before us), we continually seem over half of my subjects took the bait.
to gravitate to Walken, return to him, a man born before the “Walken! Fuck yeah, man! He fucking rules!” was the
Baby Boom was even named. And if that wording sounds usual response, give or take a few obscenities. Most people
entirely too religious in its construction, that’s because it would go on to name two, three movies starring Walken
should; mention a Walken flick to your average college that they enjoyed. Three people quoted memorable lines,
student, even a movie barely featuring the guy, and you’ll both from Wedding Crashers and his frequent guest ap-
get an enthusiastic, devoted response organized religion pearances on Saturday Night Live (most notably a sketch
would kill for. where Walken plays a record producer named Bruce Dick-
To test this, to try and put Walken to the vaulted stan- inson and continually calls for more cowbell). One person,
dard of science and ensure that I wasn’t writing an article God love him, even did an extended and well-intentioned,
based on some kind of personal, perverse movie star af- but materially thin, Walken impression. That was enough
fectation, I decided to conduct a mini-field experiment. It for me to decide I wasn’t crazy.
wasn’t a complex procedure; I simply walked around your Reviewing the facts later that evening, I realized that,
average college campus and stopped people (16 of them if assuming one person in 16 had a serviceable impression
you need an exact count) to chat. I was conversational; for of Christopher Walken, and that there are approximately
some reason, I was worried that my love of Walken would 17 million people enrolled in a college (according to the
influence my interviewees with a sort of informal observer 2004 census), we can (perhaps unreasonably) extrapolate
cul•ture / 27
that there are over 1 million frat boys, internet geeks and Walken soon found a role in Woody Allen’s classic, Annie
debate club members with a Walken impression. That Hall, as well as in The Deer Hunter, playing a brutalized
they’ll actually show you. Sober. and destroyed Vietnam grunt.
Now I’m really not crazy. He wins an Oscar for his work in The Deer Hunter.
He is not kitsch.
*** But how has this man, this strange actor with such a
striking face and an even more striking way of delivering
I’m watching television fairly late; it’s Comedy Cen- his lines not become a joke, when he stars in wonderfully
tral, and a stylized ad airs promoting the upcoming roast abysmal films like Blast from the Past and Mousehunt, and
of William Shatner. It seems like a great idea on Comedy readily acknowledges that he will never turn down a role?
Central’s part; what could be better How has Walken not been roasted
than tearing apart one of society’s
greatest kitsch icons? I’m watching
“I make movies that nobody will and lampooned, when comedians
like Jay Mohr and Kevin Pollock
this 30-second spot, and it’s obvious see. I’ve made movies that even I make a living off aping his style of
that Shatner is in on the joke. Some have never seen.” delivery?
nerds in classic Star Trek uniforms A man that looks like he might
flank the mugging Shatner, singing be the burned out handyman prowl-
the series theme hideously off-key, and he’s pretending to ing your office is now acknowledged as a legend. A man
hate it. But he loves it, you can tell very plainly. that was once employed (at least, according to his official
At that moment, I am tempted to drop Walken into the biography) as a circus lion tamer at the tender age of 15.
dubious category that Shatner seemingly pioneered long And as much as I love him as an actor, it doesn’t feel right,
ago: the ironically hip star. And why not, I think; Shatner especially when Shatner is placed right next to him.
began his career as badass captain James T. Kirk, pilot- Walken once wisely mused,“I make movies that nobody
ing the USS Enterprise bravely, “where no man has gone will see. I’ve made movies that even I have never seen.”
before.” Sure, it was goofy sci-fi, at times low-budget and I believe it.
silly, but more often than not, fun to watch. He brought the
same kind of start-stop narration and the same intense, ***
but somehow off-focus, emphasis to the table that Walken
did (at roughly the same time, the late 1960’s), but Shatner I’m at the video store, looking for something good. Per-
really embodied a kind of over-acting that made people haps something with Walken, but I’m not set on it (all the
laugh. And not really at jokes Bill Shatner was making, but research I’ve done so far has tired me a bit on his style). I
at himself. pace the aisles, when I notice that I can’t escape the damn
But from those humble beginnings, Shatner and Walken guy. He’s in everything, on a myriad of DVD cases and VHS
began traveling in divergent paths. Shatner, perhaps un- sleeves. I start counting as I walk, just picking out the mov-
able to see himself turning into a tasteless pop culture ies that I know he’s in, or movies that list him prominently,
joke, or perhaps brilliantly seeing it before anyone else where I can see it.
could, began his descent through the dregs of post-Kirk. I eventually canvas the store several times, checking
Towards the end of his Star Trek tenure, in 1968, Shatner my work, searching for missed movies or small cameos.
would release an album entitled, The Transformed Man, It’s getting close to closing time, and I’m sure the employ-
where he traveled in turns reciting poetry (most memo- ees want me out of there, so they can do whatever video
rably Hamlet’s famous death monologue) and butchering store employees do when the doors are closed, but I’m on
modern pop songs (most unfortunately, “Lucy In The Sky a goddamn mission, so they’ll have to keep cool. Some-
With Diamonds”). No one could figure out if he was really thing tells me they would appreciate my zeal.
kidding, or if he was deadly serious. He sounded serious. I count 32 movies on my own. And I’m sure I’ve missed
From there, Shatner would experience a bit of an act- quite a few.
ing drought, and he was quick to blame it on typecasting At the counter, I talk to Matt (that’s what his nametag
(Walken is quoted as once remarking, “Is typecasting re- says, plus two years of service). I tell him that I have just
ally a problem?”). Apparently, no one in Hollywood wanted counted 32 movies featuring Christopher Walken, and ask
to hire an over-acting Captain Kirk. He’d find work starring if he can do a search on his computer to tell me if I’m close.
in the Star Trek movies, and eventually as T.J. Hooker in He dutifully informs me he can’t search by name, but that 32
the eponymous series, but people refused to see Shatner is very possible. Matt is a bit of a trivia buff it turns out, and
as anything else but Kirk. Shatner would eventually evolve quickly informs me that Walken has been in over 90 films.
personally, realizing himself as a typecast actor, and has He has become utterly ubiquitous. I go home with a
recently begun to play on that, appearing in Priceline.com copy of Man on Fire.
commercials and offering himself up to roast. He has ad-
mitted, that, yes, he is The Captain. Accept no substitutes. ***
But while Shatner has become content to become a cult
icon in the form of an old sci-fi space man with bad acting Part of the epiphany comes from an interview I read on-
chops, Walken has taken a different path. Showcasing him- line with Christopher Walken. The interviewer has decided
self in a variety of television shows early on in his career, to ask about his unique style of delivery; if it was inspired by

cul•ture / 28
actors before him, or if it’s a sort of method he’s developed. Levy, knew otherwise. The turd of a film (which Roger Ebert
It doesn’t include it in the text, but I can imagine that the called, “completely unnecessary”) couldn’t be saved by
room goes silent for a few awkward moments while Chris Jackson, no matter how hard he tried, but I challenge you to
mulls over an answer. think of a movie where Walken’s presence wasn’t enough
Walken cryptically replies, “I’ve always been a char- to keep you smiling at an otherwise shitty script.
acter actor, although I’m not quite sure what that means. I dare you.
All my scripts are absolutely covered in notes, so any time In October 2004, Walken finally arrived in Hollywood.
I say anything - even `pass the salt’ - I have six subtexts, He received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, lit-
comments on what I really mean when I’m saying that.  erally cementing himself in acting lore for generations to
Maybe that’s what gives the impression that I’m saying one come. I think many will agree with me, from Quentin Tar-
thing and thinking something else.” antino (who was at hand at the ceremony) to the kid with
And it suddenly clicks, like the eureka moment when a the half-assed Walken impersonation: 2004 was much too
lone apple fell on poor Newton. long of a wait. It was much too long for a man who’s not just
If Shatner has evolved to stand for the ironically hip, an Oscar winner, not just a James Bond villain, not just a tap
the loser-turned-star, Walken has evolved to represent dancing fool (watch Fatboy Slim’s, “Weapon of Choice,”
indie cool. Walken needs not turn down a role, ever, and video for proof). It was much too long for a man who taught
it’s doubtful he ever will, simply because of the fact that he us how to be both creepily individual and undeniably cool
oozes liquid awesomeness. No matter what the script calls in the same space and time.
for, no matter how bad the director or the special effects, When Christopher Walken dies and leaves this earthly
we can always expect Walken’s trademarked persona to place, we will mourn en masse, because, very simply, we
be there. That independent, cool, left-of-center figure that will have lost one of the last truly interesting, indie cool
never fails to intrigue moviegoers. And that lends an in- cultural figures. And then who’s left? Shatner? cs
stant credibility and enjoyability to movies that might oth-
erwise find themselves lost on the video store racks.
Perhaps one of the best qualities about Christopher
Walken, and the reason for his transcendence of the acting View some of Court Jones’ other illustrations at
field, is the fact that we don’t tune into to Saturday Night www.courtjones.com
Live or his latest movie to see the characters he will play.
No, no. We tune in to see Walken be cool, be crazy, be Find a link to watch Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice”
menacing. It’s as if the characters he takes on are simply video, starring Walken himself,
bullshit reasons for a director to get him on camera; they at www.cesium-online.com
don’t really matter, as long as he’s there.
No other actor embodies cool in his very persona like
Walken; it might have once been argued that Samuel L.
Jackson was in the same situation, the veritable font of ba-
dassery, but anyone who saw 2005’s The Man, with Eugene

Totally lost? If you don’t know anything about Walken, Scotland, PA (2001)
there’s no better time than now to start. Here’s a com- • Walken takes on Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
piled list of some of Christopher Walken’s best work, to Catch Me if You Can (2003)
catch you up to speed: • He gets another nod from the Academy for this sup-
porting role.
Movies
Television
Annie Hall (1977)
• One of his best, as Diane Keaton’s demented brother. Any of his 6 hosting stints on SNL (1990 – 2003)
The Deer Hunter (1978) • He’s created great characters, from Bruce Dickinson to
• Wins an academy award for his portrayal of a broken the Continental.
solider in Vietnam
Wayne’s World II (1993) Various
• One of his earlier, and hilarious, dives into comedy.
Look for the Graduate tribute at the end.
Pulp Fiction (1994) Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice” video (2000)
• He delivers one of his most haunting monologues • Watch Walken’s best moves as he dances like a fool.
about where to store a watch. True Crime: New York City (Video Game) (2005)
The Prophecy (1995) • So it may just be his voice, but it’s still Walken.
• Considered by fans to be one of his best roles ever.

cul•ture / 29
(Voting for Dummies)
It’s September, and that means one of American’s most important (and most ignored) civic responsibilities
looms around the corner: voting. You may think, along with 100 million other eligible Americans, that voting is a
faded vestige of promises of equality and representation for every citizen. However, it is important to note that as
Americans stop voting and voicing their opinions, our representatives will stop fighting for the things you hold dear.
Your vote, no matter for what candidate, Democrat or Republican, means that your voice has been registered in the
national discourse. You can bring about change. And what’s sweeter than that? Here are a few handy steps to get you
on your way.

1. Get registered.
There are several ways you can accomplish this; one of the easiest ways to register is to hop on www.rockthevote.com
and click “register to vote.” It will walk you through the process for your state, and produce a form that you only need
to sign and mail into the state.

Don’t have a computer, or are hesitant to use a website endorsed by P. Diddy and Paris Hilton? No worries; you can
log onto your state’s Secretary of State website for printable voter registration forms (just Google “Secretary of State
Illinois” for instance), or you can just head on down to your county auditor (most likely located at the county court-
house) to do it in person. Forms for registration are also usually also available in local phonebooks and at DOT license
stations. No matter where you register, don’t forget to sign the registration forms!

Remember that most states have deadlines for registering before an election, usually 15 to 30 days before the general
election (November 7th for state and national general elections). Some states allow you to register on the very day of
an election. Find out at www.rockthevote.com or by calling your county auditor, and make sure to get your paperwork
in before the deadline.

2. Get informed.
Some may consider this an irrelevant addition to our list, but for us here at Cesium, it is one of the most important.
Because our government is an indirect system, our elected representatives and officials act as your mouthpiece in
Washington and in your state. What good is voting for an official if they aren’t even going to speak for what you believe
in?

pol•i•tics / 30
Pick a few topics or issues that are important to you and do some research. Who is running in your area? What are
his/her stances on the things you think are important? A great way to get some basic information about upcoming
elections is by logging onto Wikipedia (find a link at www.cesium-online.com), and searching for “United States House
Elections, 2006” or “United States Senate Elections, 2006”. Sure, critics have slammed Wikipedia for not being a com-
pletely sourced site, but we’re just looking for the greater picture. You’ll find some handy overview pages detailing the
major races, and links to candidates’ websites, where you can get even more information about their views. Read the
newspaper and consider attending campaign stops. Every bit helps, and when the elections roll around, you’ll be sure
of who you want representing your ideas.

3. Get located.
Finding your polling place is essential, because most cities have multiple polling locations on Election Day, and you
don’t want to be running around trying to find the right one. Either check www.rockthevote.com close to Election Day
or the trusty Secretary of State website. Both places will ask for the address where you are registered to vote and direct
you to the correct voting station.

If you’re not going to be around on the big day, request an absentee ballot from your state. Log onto the Secretary of
State website, print and fill out the application, and then send it back to the address given. Just like your registration, this
form has to be in before a certain deadline; the application should make it clear.

4. Get there.
Show up at your polling place, and bring a government-issued ID. If your ID matches the address you registered to vote
at, you’re gravy; if not, bring proof of residence, in the form of a check, bill or letter from your school with your registered
address on it. The staffers at the polling location will get you through the rest of the process.

5. Get heard.
Once you’re in that polling booth, take a breath, and do your thing. You may be voting on a computer screen, filling in
circles or pulling a lever. Any way you do it will be easy. Go home knowing that you’ve participated in your government.
Feel good! cs

Find links to voting registration sites and Wikipedia election summaries on www.cesium-online.com

pol•i•tics / 31
(plain speaking)
This issue, our resident liberal, T. Dalley Waterhaus gears up for election season and turns his eye
towards those under America’s radar.

If it hasn’t become apparent by now, my dislike for


the Bush crew and his cohorts is incredibly solid, and
ramping up as we approach the mid-term elections in No-
vember; for this issue’s rant, I briefly tossed around the
idea of revisiting the Bush administration’s rampant record
of failures, from the botched conquest of Iraq to Katrina’s
exposure of governmental prejudice.
But then I realized the entire nation has heard about
those. Hell, we’ve lived those, and still are. So I decided to
discuss something entirely under the popular radar.
A recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau announced
that one in eight Americans lives in poverty, and almost
one in four African-Americans. In addition, the world’s
largest economy is home to almost 47 million people with-
out any form of health insurance (and this is not counting
those with limited coverage), an increase for a fifth con-
secutive year. This all comes as the economy continues to
grow at 3.2 percent, and we are happily informed of our
new prosperity by CNBC. Apparently, as evidenced by our
most recent census, the tide is rising for a select few, while
the rest of us are left behind.
This report comes at a time when the administration
is desperately trying to maintain a façade of power. We
are busy stopping Iraqis from killing each other, keeping
Afghanistan free from terrorists (except Bin Laden) and
ensuring that Iran doesn’t figure out how to make a nuclear
bomb. We are trying to preserve the peace in the Middle
East. We are, to say the least, an active nation, exerting our
glorious power across the globe to make the world a bet-
ter place. Or so I’m told.
However, in the meantime, and contrary to what the
administration would like you to believe, we are losing the
very power that once made America the strongest nation It is our country that these people hurt the most. They
on Earth. Adam Smith, a 18th century thinker and proto- miss days from work because they are continually ill. They
economist, would first propose the notion that a healthy, declare bankruptcy. They go hungry. They suffer, which
productive labor force is the most valuable commodity a causes the economy to suffer, which in turn causes each
nation can possess. And while that theory has been de- one of us to suffer. It’s a vicious trend, but the worst part
bated, contested and altered in many ways since his day, about it is that we know this. And if I know this, and can
the bare truth of his statement rings true in modern so- find it out simply by typing, “Americans without health
ciety; you may have all of the raw materials or all of the care,” into Google, it should stand to reason that our lead-
technology, but if you don’t have a productive workforce to ership, the people in Congress that are supposed to be
transform and operate these things, you don’t have shit. caring for their constituents, should know this. Survey
And yet, perhaps because Bush still hasn’t listened to his after survey has pointed out that we are hurting ourselves
audiobook of Econ 101, the administration and neo-cons in by allowing people to sink into abject poverty with no
the upper echelons of power are damaging the labor pool social support net.
that they should be intent upon preserving. While we are For instance, surveys conducted by the National Coali-
spending billions upon billions of dollars in Iraq (actually tion on Health Care (NCHC) indicate that nearly one-quar-
now well over 300 billion, according to costofwar.com), there ter (23 percent) of the uninsured reported changing their
are close to 50 million citizens in the United States that can- way of life significantly in order to pay medical bills, and
not go to an emergency room because they cannot afford the that more than 25 percent said that housing problems re-
eventual bills. These people cannot buy prescription drugs sulted from medical debt, including the inability to make
to treat ailments in their early stages, and must resign them- rent or mortgage payments and the development of bad
selves to lives of extreme pain and serious complications. credit ratings. It also quoted a Harvard study noting that

pol•i•tics / 32
approximately 50 percent of bankruptcies were partly due minute breaks to sit down. These people, who slaved away
to medical expenses. And the list goes on. at repetitive machines for seven dollars an hour were
Sadly enough, we continue to do it to ourselves. The constantly tired, constantly in pain, but couldn’t take any
federal minimum wage currently sits at $5.15, and hasn’t time off due to financial obligations. When I (naively) sug-
seen an increase for nine years (in which inflation and gested to a coworker one night, “why don’t you look for a
costs-of-living continue to shoot up); doing the math shows better job?” he laughed to my face, and then genuinely
that a person making minimum wage, working 40 hours replied with an abject look, “Man, if only it was that easy.”
a week year round (full time), would pull in an income That one sentence said it all, and nothing of the sort was
of $10,712, well below the 2005 federal poverty line of ever brought up again.
$15,735. We can certainly change this, but Republicans in These are the people our government has failed. The
Congress have repeatedly stalled the advancement of leg- people we, as a society, have left behind while Exxon de-
islation to help the working poor year after year, despite clares record profits and Republicans fight to rescind the
studies from the Economic Policy Institute showing that a Death Tax. The people whose labor is only worth five dol-
raise in the minimum wage would affect most positively lars an hour, and are not deserving of medical treatment.
working families in the bottom 40% of American wealth The same people you saw running from knee-high, waist-
without any substantial job loss (as Republicans continue high, head-high flood waters as Katrina rushed into town
to claim). and no one said a damn word.
Of course, there are those that argue for the antiquated Walk down the street and count 8 people. And remem-
notion of some fabled American bootstraps; that the 32 ber one of those is living in poverty in the most prosperous
million Americans living below the Federally-appointed nation in the world.
poverty line (making fewer than 20,000 dollars a year for Perhaps I shouldn’t be so harsh; you can go to the polls
a family of four) should get off their asses and work a little in November knowing that some of your American tax
harder. That would get them an education, a good paying dollars are being used to help those in need. In Iraq. In
job, and most likely, some form of corporate health insur- Afghanistan. In Lebanon. cs
ance. According to these people (most likely Republicans),
poverty is a self-inflicted state.
I would like to argue that these people have never
endured low-paying jobs, scraping every cent to pay for
steadily rising rents in steadily declining neighborhoods. Check out the running total of the cost of the Iraq War at
To pay for an unreliable car. For unforeseen (and often www.cesium-online.com (courtesy of costofwar.com)
outrageous) medical expenses that creep up. To pay for
children and school and clothes and three-dollar gasoline.
The people that argue those in poverty are just lazy are the
same people that send their children to expensive private
schools (their alma mater, of course), spend their week-
ends playing horrible games of golf and swigging Grey
Goose like it’s water. These people know nothing of work.
These people are in office now.
I have distinct memories of working side by side low-
wage laborers in a printing bindery one summer out of
college. We worked nine hours a day with only two 15-

pol•i•tics / 33
(Playing with Words)
Poltical doublespeak is nothing new; but now it’s costing us our education,
our liberty and even our lives.

essay by Vaylord Zupke

Language is a tricky thing; it can be inherently vague. to bring forth; notice that they are often at odds with the real
Because of this, the use of language, or should I say the goals. The goal of this Congress and administration is to di-
misuse of language, has always been an integral part of vide and conquer, not only Iraq and the countries involved in
politics. The art of doublespeak, the intentional use of this never-ending “War on Terror,” but the environment, the
ambiguous language, has been carefully cultivated by educational system, homosexuals, atheists, liberals, the poor
our politicians for years. Most of us remember President and all those who don’t fit into the neo-conservative agenda.
Clinton asking, “It depends on what your definition of is Need some proof?
is…” However, this trend of spinning language has been The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) is the
taken to a new level with our current administration. Lan- unfortunate educational hallmark of this presidency.
guage is no longer used to simply distort or muddy; it is President Bush, who snuck into Yale under a preferential
now used to outright lie. system and received well below-average grades, decided
Reviewing many of President Bush’s policies, you’ll find to completely reinvent our educational system. For those
a collection of rosy-sounding programs and military actions of you not familiar with NCLB, schools that perform well
which paint a picture of a cleaner, more peaceful world. A on standardized tests receive proper levels of funding and
world where democracy is king. However, you must look those who perform below-average on the tests have fund-
deeper in search of the truth with this administration’s use of ing taken away from them. It sounds good on the surface,
titles and declarations. Try reading the titles of Congressio- but this carrot on a stick system of education does exactly
nal bills and understanding the policies they are attempting the opposite of what it sets out to do. Schools needing the

pol•i•tics / 34
most attention, mostly inner-city schools with high minor- to alienate homosexuals who want to get married. Let’s
ity populations, get left behind. Far behind; some inner- be honest; marriage does not need to be defended at the
city schools in America are now reporting a 44% gradu- national level. Churches have the ability to do so without
ation rate for minority students, according to the Boston government intrusion into citizen’s lives.
Globe. NCLB, a wonderfully named program and the key And then there’s the Death Tax. This ominous sound-
Republican effort to revamp our schools, ends up deceiv- ing entity is something the Republicans want repealed,
ing the American taxpayers and becomes an injustice to but it wasn’t even an issue until recently. After several
American students. unsuccessful attempts they changed their approach. Re-
Of course, misleading publicans successfully rela-
government-assigned moni- It is estimated that you are eight times beled the “Inheritance Tax”
kers don’t only affect our the “Death Tax,” which, in
students. The rosy-sounding more likely to be struck by lightning than reality, affects less than 1% of
dress-up of bullshit continued to see an American flag burned. Americans. The original goal
with Operation Iraqi Free- of the inheritance tax was to
dom. As most (and even I) be- prevent vast accumulations of
lieve, Saddam Hussein was an evil man. However, the lib- wealth, as the top 5% of Americans currently own 50% of
erty-loving Operation Iraqi Freedom managed to free the the wealth. However, as the Death Tax because more and
people of a Middle Eastern country from one dictator and more inconvenient to Republican loyalists (the filthy rich),
replaced him with 250,000 American troops and a flimsy the Republicans and the conservative leadership simply
government that cannot even defend itself. The honest as- changed the names, and again, easily fooled the public.
sessment now is that the Iraqis are no freer now than they American citizens are under a constant barrage of mis-
were four years ago. Plans are in the works to construct a leading language. Democrats want to “cut and run” from
massive new U.S. embassy in the heart of Baghdad, ensur- Iraq. Democrats are just “tax and spend liberals,” despite
ing that Iraqis will always be under the vigilant eye of a the fact that our Republican legislators have increased the
new superpower. An average of 3,000 Iraqi civilians die a federal budget by 29% since 2001. But Americans have the
month while over 2,600 Americans have been killed and ability to see through the language, and a choice to make
over 19,000 wounded. Let freedom ring. November 7th. Democrats have the ability to take over
And while Bush runs amuck with America’s foreign both houses of the Congress. Americans have the chance
policy, establishing democracy in places that want noth- to reign in many of these mislabeled and mis-marketed
ing to do with it, you can thank Congress for genius ideas programs through the ballot box. We can stop the Terror-
like the Flag Protection Amendment, The Defense of Mar- ist Surveillance Program (sounds good), which spies on
riage Amendment, and the Death Tax (the tax formerly Americans without a warrant (not so good). We can stop
known as the Inheritance Tax). All three programs at face this endless War on Terror (sounds good), which is killing
value sound great, which is usually enough to pacify the thousands of our young men (not so good). We can finally
average American. make this administration accountable.
Protect the flag? Hell yes! Harold Pinter, winner of the 2005 Nobel Prize for Lit-
Defend marriage? Why not! erature summed up this administration’s tactics perfectly,
Tax me when I die? Fuck no! saying,“Political language, as used by politicians, does not
These clearly sound like pieces of legislation designed venture into any of this territory since the majority of poli-
to protect Americans and American values. However, dive ticians, on the evidence available to us, are interested not
deeper into the issues and you’ll find it laced with xeno- in truth but in power and in the maintenance of that power.
phobic and homophobic rhetoric. To maintain that power it is essential that people remain in
According to the Republican Congress, the threat to our ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth, even the
flag is immense; they play like hundreds of thousands of truth of their own lives. What surrounds us therefore is a
American flags are being burned every year. This of course vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed.”
is not the case (It is estimated you are eight times more Are you tired of the lies? Tired of the misdirection? Or
likely to be struck by lightning than to see an American flag not tired enough? cs
burned). Nevertheless, this summer Congress spent its pre-
cious time introducing the Flag Protection Amendment, and
told us that it would keep an important symbol of our nation
safe. Those who did not support the Flag Burning Amend-
ment were quickly painted by the neo-cons as un-Ameri-
can; and yet, we needed the admendment as much as we Read “Voting for Dummies” on page 30 for more
needed an Amendment protecting white males. It became information about how you can make a
another example of government inaction masquerading as change this November.
effective lawmaking and leadership.
The Defense of Marriage Amendment (again, portrayed
as all-American, because marriage is apparently an Ameri-
can invention) showed up around the same period. As great
as it sounded, it was not designed to defend marriage, but

pol•i•tics / 35
(fun with figures)

The figures:
441.6 billion
current annual U.S. military budget (does not include Iraq or Afghanistan Wars)

110 billion
amount of aid, in dollars, allocated for the Gulf Coast by the Federal government

81.5 billion
estimated damages from Katrina (worst in U.S. history)

45 billion
estimated amount of aid, in dollars, actually spent, according to Federal Government

11.5 billion
amount of aid and grants allocated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development for housing reconstruction
in Louisiana and Mississippi

100 million
amount of money distributed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development thus far

pol•i•tics / 36
(nightlife)
Wednesday, August 23rd
KUNI Welcome Week Concert
Russell Hall Bandshell, UNI

Cesium and KUNI showed up to welcome students back


to the grind of the school year with some good music, not
to mention free pizza. Held outside by at the Russell Hall
Mosaic bandshell, which has been tagged for demolition
within the year due to the music department’s expansion,
the concert seemed all the more exciting. It was fun had by
all, with a small but into-it crowd enjoying the afternoon’s
sunny entertainment.

The show opened with a stripped down set by Adam


Bolts of The Beat Strings, Iowa’s very own claim to a sort
of punk-new wave sound merged with relentless emo-
tion. Bolts, the lead singer, performed a short, intimate set
composed of only his voice and an electric guitar; it was
quiet, but equally moving. After Bolts quickly left the stage,
we were treated to a 45-minute set from Iowa City’s Death
Ships. Drawing on their alt-country tone (see our related
full-length review on page 19), they crooned through their
debut album, Seeds of Devastation, with soul, even with the
sun beating down mercilessly on the stage.

After Death Ships left to tend their merchandise table, The


Wheelers from Marion, Iowa filled the stage confidently
with only three members. Screaming and hollering their
way through a set of what you might call noisepop or hard-
core buzzrock (they both work), lead singer Greg would
make announcements before each song, like, “This song
is called Ibis. It’s about a bird!” It was brutal, loud, and in-
credibly awesome. cs

Go be friends with all of them (and us too!)


Check out www.cesium-online.com for
handy links to myspace pages to all of these bands.

Don’t forget to support public radio!


Our thanks to KUNI, found at 90.9 on your radio dial.

mis•cel•la•ne•a / 37
Saturday, September 16th
WQPT Brew Ha Ha
LeClaire Park, Davenport, IA

Cesium attended this year’s annual WQPT Brew Ha


Ha festival in Davenport, Iowa, directly on the banks
of the mighty Mississippi in the historic downtown
area. It was a fun afternoon spent sampling some of the
finest beers and spirits that the world has to offer, and,
best of all, raising money for a good cause
The good cause, you ask? WQPT, the public television
affiliate in the Quad Cities, like many public television sta-
tions around the country, has been plagued by reduced
funding from government sources (WQPT has been home
to a $100,000 fiscal year cut this year alone) and is busy
trying to keep the cameras rolling. Events, like this one,
are an important addition to WQPT’s arsenal; according to
special events coordinator, Bea Brasel, WQPT planned on
hosting 2,000 folks during the one day event, raising ap-
proximately $30,000 for the coffers through ticket sales.
We were glad to do our part to keep Sesame Street on
the air, and met plenty of people in the same spirit, enjoy-
ing free samples (of both beer and various cheeses), live
music and watching the major college games on projec-
tion screens. Everyone from Budweiser and Millstream
Brewing to exotic German and Swiss beer makers were
present, doing their best to win the crowds over; we left
with plenty of stickers and drink coasters to spare. There
was a separate area strictly for the showcasing of unique
homebrews that won our hearts over.
And what came of all our research and fund raising?
Here’s the report you’re waiting for:

mis•cel•la•ne•a / 38
The beers that bowled us over:

Anchor Brewing’s Liberty Ale – An amazing lemony taste you’ll never see coming.
Podkovan Dark Lager – A great beer, boasting a slight honey tone.
Kingfisher Premium Lager – A Budweiser on steroids. We took two.
Pilsner Urquell – Our first introduction to the Czech Republic. We’ll be visiting more often.
Sierra Nevada Wheat – Everyone knows SN’s pale ale, but this one’s time in the spotlight should be nearing.

Check these out for a little adventure:

Murphy’s Extra Stout – Heavy like Guinness, but with a lot more character.
Elmwood Brewing’s English Brown Ale – Robust and malty, with some chocolate somewhere in there.
Jack’s Pumpkin Ale – Distributed through Budweiser, hang onto this for Halloween.
König Ludwig Weiss Royal Bavarian Hefeweizen – don’t let the long name fool you; this is a trip reserved for the most
adventurous of beer tasters.

Steer clear of:

Monty Python’s Holy Ale – Uninspired and flavorless. Hardly what we’d expect from some of our favorite comedians.
Coniston Brewing’s Blue Bird Bitter – Tasted like a blueberry muffin. Which is good, except it still tasted like beer too.
K Cider - Tasted like apple champagne, only worse. Leave it to the British.
Flying Dog Wheat Beer – Decent flavor, but not worth nine bucks a six pack.

All in all, it was a great event for a great cause. We’ll plan on being there next year. If they’ll have us back, that is. cs

You may have missed this year’s event, but it’s never too soon to mark your calendar for next year’s; check out
www.wqpt.org for more info.

Want to make sure there’s a Brew Ha Ha next year? Consider donating to public television, and help keep quality
television kicking. Check out www.wqpt.org or an affiliate near you.

Want the next best thing to being there? Check out our photo slideshow at www.cesium-online.com

mis•cel•la•ne•a / 39
(upcoming events)
Damn, it’s getting cold out. Good thing we’ve compiled this handy list of events to keep you warm.
At least until November.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Air, one of the best electronica/French pop acts around (no, you’re thinking of Air Supply) is playing the Crocodile
Lounge, a criminally-cool lounge located on the South Loop of Downtown Chicago. Sip on something smooth while you
listen to the Francophone duo create some spacey trip-hop.

Get more info, from maps to ticket sales, on the Chicago AOL City Guide (just search for Air and Croc Club) at aol.
cityguide.com/Chicago

Sunday, October 1 – Saturday, October 7, 2006

Oh, shit. It’s that time of the year again. The University of Northern Iowa is home to possibly the craziest Homecoming
celebration in the Midwest. Sure, there’s lots of university-sponsored events throughout the week, including the Campa-
nile on Friday night (where everyone makes out under the clock at midnight), and there’s the required football game on
Saturday, but really, everyone just gets drunk. Come for the beer, stay for the inevitable puking.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Like Sublime, but never got a chance to see them live? Yeah, we didn’t either, so the next best thing will be at The Yacht
Club in Iowa City, Iowa. Reclining Buddha will be covering Sublime starting at 9 sharp.

Cover is 5 bucks at the door. Get ready to sing along. You can get more info at (we’re not kidding here) www.iowacityy-
achtclub.com

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

In one of the most original ideas we’ve heard in a long time, The Reverb, located in downtown Cedar Falls, Iowa is host-
ing a special Halloween Show, featuring a tribute to rock. For only five bucks, you can watch bands dress up as classic
acts (AC/DC, Sex Pistols, Nirvana, etc.) and play short tribute sets.

Show starts at 9, doors open at 8. Call The Reverb at (319) 277-4404 if you need more info.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Voting day! Get your ass to the polls.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Stop by for another installment in the excellent Live from Prairie Lights reading series at the Prairie Lights Bookstore in
the heart of Iowa City, Iowa. This time will feature non-fiction readings from Doug Bauer (author of Prairie City, Iowa) and
Lan Samantha Chang (director of the revered U of I Writer’s Workshop).

The readings start at 7, so that means you still have time to party afterwards.

mis•cel•la•ne•a / 40