Review: Lana Del Rey – “Lust For Life”

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There’s a moment on Lana Del Rey’s fourth record, Lust For Life, that should hit her biggest fans (or as Hipster Runoff dudebros in 2011 once called them, apologists) harder than nearly all of her lyrical catalog. For those listeners that once found themselves entranced with the smoky voice totally consumed, and maybe a little depressed, by the moments of quiet domesticity with her lover on “Video Games,” it should come as a revelation to hear that same voice turned outward to the world around her: “We get so tired and we complain / Bout how it’s hard to live / It’s more than just a video game.”

This watchful eye on a world in turmoil is a motif across Lust For Life- which, in the early days of the promotional cycle for the album, seemed worrying considering all the obligatory “political pop” done so inelegantly by her peers. Still, if any major voice in pop music seemed fit for the challenge, it was Lana- an artist so deeply reliant on iconic Americana imagery that even the slightest shift away could seem like a revolution.

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Personal Space: PWR BTTM and How Online Mob Culture Hurts Both Accusers and the Accused

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Lena Dunham and Matthew Rhys, S6E3 of HBO’s GIRLS

Earlier this year, my favorite show GIRLS made waves with a bottle episode called “American Bitch,” in which the main character Hannah meets one of her literary idols, the fictional Chuck Palmer. Chuck’s had some allegations made against him- several women have come forward on the Internet with claims that he sexually assaulted them, specifically, that he forced several of them into oral sex on his book tour. Hannah, a burgeoning writer, publishes a piece on a “niche feminist website” expressing her rage and frustration at the accusations, stating “If one more male writer I love reveals himself to be a heinous sleazebag, I’m going to do a bunch of murders, create a new isle of Lesbos, and never look back.”

Continue reading “Personal Space: PWR BTTM and How Online Mob Culture Hurts Both Accusers and the Accused”

American Rage and Suburban Malaise: A Study of the Urban Punk Underground

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Martha’s Got a Limp Wrist (Photo by Christian Contreras)

This piece has been censored for the UIC Radio blog.

It’s difficult to write about punk without draining it of its chaos.

The greatest punk shows are soaked in sweat and blown into the red. The best punk lyrics are incomprehensible, the best punk venues include a highly suspect dirty mattress in the corner, and the best punk showgoer is one who will sweat all over you, push you into other strangers, scream in your face, and then let you bum a cigarette at the end of the night. When writing about punk neglects to include that sense of disorder and entropy, you get sterile talk of what is, above all, the art of violent, cathartic release.

When I was a teenager, DIY punk shows in Chicago were my safe haven. Growing up gay, there are very few spaces in which you know that you’re not the only outcast- which isn’t to say that I was some sort of hunchbacked adolescent hermit, but when you come out of the closet early, there’s a very thin line you have to walk, knowing all the eyes that rest on you. Getting drunk, then moshing and screaming and sweating in trashed apartments on the weekends was just the sort of chaotic release I needed to keep from cracking under the pressure.

There’s an energy at every great punk show that finds its way up your spine and lets you know you aren’t the only one who just needs a f*cking break. There are systems in place working against all of us- some more complicated or institutionalized than others- but the fun of a punk show is sourced from the moment it allows for young, frustrated, bored, and fed up people to stop needing to think for a while.

Eventually though, you stop being seventeen years old and it’s no longer socially acceptable to struggle through an Aquafina bottle full of whiskey, sweat through your shirt and make out with a high schooler at the end of the night.

Continue reading “American Rage and Suburban Malaise: A Study of the Urban Punk Underground”

Another Trick: Tracing the Pervasiveness of Teenage-Adult Sex in Gay Male Spaces

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Note: This blog does not reflect the views of all of UIC Radio

Scrolling Twitter the other day, I found myself confronted with a well-meaning rant from one of my younger straight male friends. In response to a since suspended account’s unveiling of the “new and improved Pedosexual flag and symbol!”, paired with some generic “love is love”-esque statement, he responded, “This s**t is so disgusting and invalidating. What the f**k!”

My initial instinct was to jump on board with him- I drafted a few versions of a tweet along the lines of “Just on behalf of the entire LGBT+ community, pedophiles have absolutely ZERO to do with us.” Upon more thorough consideration as my finger hovered above the Shout Into The Void button, I wasn’t sure that was entirely true. Continue reading “Another Trick: Tracing the Pervasiveness of Teenage-Adult Sex in Gay Male Spaces”

Blahsmopolitan No. 9: “The Great Grindr in the Sky” AKA “Bottoms in Neverland”

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This is Blahsmopolitan, a weekly column about one freshman’s misfortune as he navigates his New Adult Life in Chicago, and the songs that soundtracked it. New stories are posted every Thursday, alongside a curated Blahsmo playlist to complement your reading and get you through the week with some new music. This week, our columnist asks someone to choke him, searches through his sexual Rolodex, and realizes he’s been thinking too much in hopes that you can learn from his mistakes.

Stream this week’s playlist on Apple Music.

Hey! I read this piece at UIC’s English Department open mic! Watch a little bit of my reading here. I swore a lot there but the transcript has been censored for the blog. 

I spent the majority of my high school years hooking up with one of my best friends, which, in the long run, I don’t recommend. It’s a complicated living dynamic when you wind up going to the same college as said friend, and then have to live with a person who you’ve asked to choke you so you could c*m. Plus, the one time we hooked up in college was marred by him saying “Take off your stupid Thrasher shirt” and I was like, “Do you even know the new me?”

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Blahsmopolitan No. 8: “All Fags Go to Heaven”

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This is Blahsmopolitan, a weekly column about one freshman’s misfortune as he navigates his New Adult Life in Chicago, and the songs that soundtracked it. New stories are posted every Thursday, alongside a curated Blahsmo playlist to complement your reading and get you through the week with some new music. This week, our columnist gets bullied into googling porn, cries about the Mars Rover, and realizes he’s in love for the first time in hopes you can learn from his mistakes. (Sorry I’ve been gone so long! I’m in two workshop courses so I’ve been totally drained creatively- this is my first final piece. Enjoy!)

Stream this week’s playlist on Apple Music or Spotify.

This piece has been censored for UIC Radio. 

I was five years old when I got my first computer. It was a pale, white, unfortunate thing that moaned and groaned to life, a process which usually took about ten minutes. I already had my own email address, (bluesclues@ameritech.net, can you imagine that not being taken today?) and a little scuba diver followed my cursor around as my obsessive-compulsive self made alphabetized catalogs of all the CDs I owned so as to better keep track for the radio show I hosted under my bed. It was a lot of Spice Girls with a hint of 50 Cent. A real variety show.

Being one of the first people in my neighborhood to have not one but two computers with Internet access, I was obviously the talk of the Kindergarten class. A playdate with two Internet-enabled computers meant that we could play Stratego or Bowling Blitz from opposites sides of the room! It was unheard of. It all made me very popular, which was only boosted by the fact that I lied and told my classmates I won a Nickelodeon sweepstakes with a prize that was just too special to tell.

Fun as it all was, something changed once Ella Thomas started coming over.

Continue reading “Blahsmopolitan No. 8: “All Fags Go to Heaven””

Blahsmopolitan No. 7: “No Crying in the Uber” AKA “Help! I’m Stalling and I Can’t Get Up!”

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This is Blahsmopolitan, a weekly column about one freshman’s misfortune as he navigates his New Adult Life in Chicago, and the songs that soundtracked it. New stories are posted every Thursday, alongside a curated Blahsmo playlist available on Apple Music and Spotify to complement your reading and get you through the week with some new music. (Not this week, though!) This week, our columnist breaks his leg, breaks the same leg again, and considers a conspiracy theory in hopes you can learn from his mistakes.

The first week of my first semester, I did a celebratory kick at my first college party, tore a ligament, and fell in blinding, screaming agony in front of everybody. Within seconds, a circle of staring sorority girls had cleared around me as I frantically tried to pull myself off the ground to no avail. In retrospect, I probably looked hilarious, but at the time, it was no joke. I could straight up not stop screaming. Not, like, cute groaning and embarrassed smiling. No performance- dead eyes, and full-bodied shrieking. Water on the Wicked Witch of the West. Not kidding.

Continue reading “Blahsmopolitan No. 7: “No Crying in the Uber” AKA “Help! I’m Stalling and I Can’t Get Up!””

Blahsmopolitan No. 6: “Love, Contractually” AKA “Queer’d Science”

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This is Blahsmopolitan, a weekly column about one freshman’s misfortune as he navigates his New Adult Life in Chicago, and the songs that soundtracked it. New stories are posted every Thursday, alongside a curated Blahsmo playlist available on Apple Music and Spotify to complement your reading and get you through the week with some new music. This week, our columnist deals with a close friend coming out of the closet, speaks to a Lobster Demon, and turns into a goldfish in hopes you can learn from his mistakes.

Stream this week’s playlist on Apple Music or Spotify.

My sophomore year of high school, I got a Facebook message from a guy who once made himself hard during AP European History and showed me the outline through his sweats.

He was shorter than me, but with absolutely shredded abs and an attitude that was incredibly easy to fantasize about. Someone who hates every single person in school except for me? Someone who despite being sixteen told me he knew how to finish a guy without even touching their dick? I asked him for advice on how to get a body like his and he delivered anecdotes of sprinting shirtless in the coldest hours of the morning. A Katy Perry song played in my heart for him.

Continue reading “Blahsmopolitan No. 6: “Love, Contractually” AKA “Queer’d Science””

Blahsmopolitan No. 5: “Lullaby for a Roommate” AKA “Hello Daddy, Hello Mom, I’m Your Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Child With Mental Illness”

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This is Blahsmopolitan, a weekly column about one freshman’s misfortune as he navigates his New Adult Life in Chicago, and the songs that soundtracked it. New stories are posted every Thursday, alongside a curated Blahsmo playlist available on Apple Music and Spotify to complement your reading and get you through the week with some new music. This week, our columnist heads home for the holidays, writes an actual advice column, and repents for his dorm life sins in hopes that you can learn from his mistakes.

Stream this week’s playlist on Apple Music or Spotify. Blahsmopolitan and its playlists contain mature themes. 

I get that it’s super corny to be the person who goes away to college and then can’t shut up about how much they miss home. College is supposed to be the holy Mecca of good times, the cure-all to high school’s nine circles of social hell, the place where you go to become your true self and never look back. Don’t get me wrong, my first semester of college has given me tastes of all of those things, but there is no such thing as an overnight cure to having a terrible and mostly pointless life, and there’s no such thing as a semester-long cure either.

My qualifications to say this are as follows: I’ve gone to a city college with a 60% commuter population for about three months. I’ve made about four friendships that I could see becoming deeper than just someone to get wasted with, I’ve been passed out drunk almost every weekend, and I’ve taken strictly 100-level courses in areas mostly unrelated to my major. Despite all these deeply formative experiences, I am incredibly excited to go home.

Continue reading “Blahsmopolitan No. 5: “Lullaby for a Roommate” AKA “Hello Daddy, Hello Mom, I’m Your Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Child With Mental Illness””

Blahsmopolitan No. 4: “The Panic at KΔP” AKA “Veni, Vidi, Veni Again”

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This is Blahsmopolitan, a weekly column about one freshman’s misfortune as he navigates his New Adult Life in Chicago, and the songs that soundtracked it. New stories are posted every Thursday, alongside a curated Blahsmo playlist available on Apple Music and Spotify to complement your reading and get you through the week with some new music. This week, our columnist gets a lesson in weed culture, outsmarts some sorority girls, and goes home with a stranger in hopes that you can learn from his mistakes.

Stream this week’s playlist on Apple Music or Spotify. Blahsmopolitan and its playlists contain mature themes.

Before I begin this story, I want to be very clear on my feelings about U of I. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a god forsaken land. God has left the building, and 18-21 year olds have been left to their own devices to roam the Earth and think of new mixed drinks and hazing methods. This story takes place within the span of 24 hours. It took 24 hours to do all of what you are about to read. U of I is where innocence goes to get tied up by all four limbs and attached to pygmy horses, yanked at with just shy of the correct force to totally sever it- forever in a limbo between responsibility and debauchery.

If you have even the mildest case of FOMO, I do not recommend going for any longer than a weekend. If you are a person like me, who does stupid things for the story, do not go at all. I am already considering going back to have more material for this column. It is the sort of place where every time you go out, you will be greeted by some sort of mistake that informs who you are to your very core, and you will never regret it, but you will almost definitely fail your classes if you have even the slightest dwindling in your willpower.

Anyway.

Last Friday night, I got a bad feeling.

Continue reading “Blahsmopolitan No. 4: “The Panic at KΔP” AKA “Veni, Vidi, Veni Again””