The Englewood Fairytale

The most charming cliché graced my Sunday morning and I want to tell you all about it.

I showed up at Ogden Park at 8:30 AM to pick up my bib and aqua-blue t-shirt for the 3rd annual Englewood 5k. I was by myself and spent the 2 hours until race time reading, pretending I’m good at stretching, and watching the whole community turn out for selfies and hugs. It was equally heart warming and alienating for someone who showed up solo.

Come race time, everyone passed under the timing arch, jogging to the beat of the Legends Drumline, which is objectively the greatest running music ever created.

Continue reading “The Englewood Fairytale”

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A Working Spring

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Courtesy of Lost TV.

Three jobs and twenty one credit hours have kept me off of UIC Radio’s front page this semester, much to the dismay of my twelve readers (I ❤ you guys & gals). A busy spring also kept Nick V, Cheech, and me from sitting down in the same room together for about two months. When we finally found overlapping free time, we spent the better part of two hours animatedly talking about Syria, Chicago’s water, and the prison system. But between catching up and conversations eventually bleeding into politics, I managed to ask a few questions and listen to some phenomenal answers.

I wanted to interview the FreeFAM founders for a second time. Last fall, they’d impressed me with their business-minded approach to their genre. Without sacrificing individuality and independence, they seek to create a brand to support all kinds of artists. Coming from a city with a music culture that’s very “out-for-yourself,” their message is refreshing. FAM is in the name.

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Courtesy of Lost TV.

 

An obligatory catch-up is needed first, as these guys have not sat still since the last time they visited UIC Radio’s studio. They’ve been playing gigs, traveling, and working with producers like CB Mix, credited on Chance’s Coloring BookThey’re working with LRG to create clothing and Pat Banahan of Lost TV to make videos. The group just released a music video for Bless the Bottles, (my personal favorite so far) featuring the same BMW I8 King Louie and Vonmar used in their own video. They even played a show at College of DuPage, which only sounds mildly impressive until you learn COD won’t back anyone without a tax ID and business number. They even have a website. FreeFAM is officially in business.

On Tuesday, I asked Nick V and Cheech about branding. I wanted to know what audience FreeFAM would draw as a full-blown music label complete with t-shirts and dispensaries. Both brothers said “local” immediately. They don’t want to limit themselves to Chicago, but their focus is building up a platform to support all members of music production. Their circle includes engineers and videographers, animators, and even a few family members for legal counsel. The want anyone who’s drawn to an image of family, brothers, positive moves, and a platform that’s there to serve their clients. Cheech commented that “non-threatening artists” are what resonate in Chicago today.

 

Nick said he wants people with energy. “Energy to party, to help, to create.” He’s got a vision of FreeFAM as a charity and force for good in Chicago. We inevitably broke into ranting about senators and bills, but Nick had a ton to say about water quality. It was endearing and inspiring and had me walking home thinking how one could add water filters to a music label…But that’s beside the point.

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Courtesy of Lost TV.

I asked about brands that could “make or break” an artist. Lil Wayne and Cash Money were brought up, as was Future, who got in a legal battle with his manager and was forced to release two albums ahead of time so he could start making his own money. Some artists get caught promoting BS; Cheech brought up the Fyre Festival flop. But Jay-Z’s own streaming website was mentioned as a positive. “It all depends on if a brand will encourage or control you,” Nick told me. A label obviously wants a return on investment and will have to control an artist’s image if money is lost. So who’s got their label working for them? Cheech laughed at this thought and brought up Kanye. “His label has been taking so much money from his music. Someone’s been making 50% off all of his songs.”

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Photo courtesy of Lost TV.

Controlling the artist is beyond the aims of the Freedom Family. Both brothers explained respect for their artist is the only reason they’d sign someone, and there’s no need to control someone they respect. They don’t intend to cultivate a brand that interferes with music production or limits the evolution and development of an artist.

“At the end of the day, music is the most important. But music won’t be heard without branding.” Other groups have PR people to handle web pages, social media, and scheduling. But for FreeFAM, “It’s just me and Cheech,” Nick says. The work is taking a toll; Nick V’s been off social media and left with what sounds like carpal tunnel in his hands and a prescription for range-of-motion exercises. “Shouldn’t be constantly posting, anyway,” he admitted. I told him not to worry about it. “It’s always nice to hear from family.”

 

Have a Scien-tastic Day!

Humanz: In-Progress Thoughts

The Gorillaz just released a new song called Let Me Out as I type this. My phone buzzed and everything. But more on that in a bit.

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I know they’ve been aging with us, but it’s still weird to see cartoon characters all grown up. Photo courtesy of RedBull.com.

It took me a few days of listening to collect my thoughts on the four songs off Humanz we’ve witnessed so far. I’ve got mixed feelings about all of them, but they’ve only made me want to hear more. We know how the Gorillaz operate; the album is a message, so getting bits of it at various intervals isn’t satisfying. It’s like eating a steak dinner over the course of a week. But they put enough thought into their art to make it worth a six-year wait. And that’s why I love the Gorillaz.

We know we haven’t got the full story yet. Let’s recap:

Hallelujah Money: 1/19/17

Ascension: 3/23/17

Saturnz Barz: 3/23/17

We got the Power: 3/23/17

Andromeda: 3/23/17

And now…

Let Me Out: 4/6/17

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Photo courtesy of the Gorillaz YouTube.

Hallelujah Money was released at an interesting time, all by itself. It drew tons of criticism for being “un-Gorillaz,” and its critics were further criticized for being critical. I have a few thoughts on this that you’ll likely want to hear, seeing as you’re reading my blog: The Gorillaz work hard to not have a typical style. In fact, their style is that they don’t have a style; they experiment outside of their genre. It adds mystique and rejects structured normativity and it’s what drives fans crazy with delight. All I can think is when fans listened to Hallelujah Money and thought, That doesn’t sound like the Gorillaz, they really meant was, That doesn’t sound like Plastic Beach.

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Photo courtesy of Metro

My other opinion on this matter is that you can be a fan of something without loving everything about it. Example: I think the US is pretty neat, but I also wish we didn’t have a Cheeto as president. If you’re one of the people worried you’re not a Gorillaz fan because you don’t like what you’ve heard of Humanz, or if you’re on the opposite end telling others they’re not Gorillaz fans because they don’t like what they’ve heard of Humanz, cut it out.

But back to its release date: January 19th, 2017. The day before the presidential inauguration. The Gorillaz’ music has always been attune to what’s going on in the world at the time, and though it was written several months before the election, the creators admit that afterwards, the album took on a new meaning. I won’t badger you with my analysis of the significance of its release date and it’s lyrics; I’ll provide a few of my favorite lyrics here and leave that to you (and if you can tell me what the Spongebob wail at the end of the song means, you get bonus points).

Scarecrows from the Far East/ Come to eat/ Its tender fruits/ And I thought the best way to perfect our tree/ Is by building walls/ Walls like unicorns/ In full glory/ And galore/ And even stronger/ Than the walls of Jericho

Until we say so, nothing will move/ Ah, don’t worry/ It’s not against our morals/ It’s legally tender/ Touch my friend/ While the whole world/ And whole beasts of nations desire/ Power

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Photo courtesy of Pitchfork.

Next up is Ascension. I’m not an EDM person, so I’m not a fan of this one, but it sure does have some killer lines. Albarn himself said in an interview that Humanz is a “party, club record,” but it has a “weird darkness about it.” Saturnz Barz is what really got me. The video was crammed with references to horror films, likely the work of Jamie Hewlett, who’s a huge fan of the classic thrillers. The main theme of the Clint Eastwood video and the ends of Rock the House‘s video are inspired by the horror genre. As it’s clear most of the visual budget was diverted to the Saturnz Barz video, I’d recommend watching it multiple times. There are tons of hidden gems in the details, the first being a creepy face in the basement window appearing only four seconds in!

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Photo courtesy of Something About Magazine.

We got the Power and Andromeda came next, judging by the corresponding music videos. Though similarly to Ascension‘s video, it’s clear the creatives didn’t invest as much as they did in Saturnz Barz. This is surprisingly common for the band. Tomorrow Comes Today‘s video was done in two weeks, as Jamie forgot he had a deadline for the project after animating other videos for their Gorillaz album.

I was intending to weigh in on Let me Out, but I’ve only listened to it three times. As any Gorillaz fan knows, that’s not nearly enough if you want to understand the song. Their music is so intricate and thought out, enjoyment comes with familiarization of each album.

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Photo courtesy of HotNewHipHop.

This is why I’m excited for the end of the month. Three weeks doesn’t sound like too short, but stand by! Humanz will be released on April 28th.

Have a Scien-tastic Day!

Generic Is The New Basic

Trumpcare/Ryancare making you nauseated? Me too.

A short one this week, as (let’s be real) we gear up to take on more hours at work next week. That’s how we spring-break UIC style. This means I write about something I’m fascinated by, and don’t need to research, as I usually would. My main game is healthcare, so my odd interest this week is drug policy, e.g. the laws that govern our prescription drugs.

Ready for that nausea to lurch to full-on heaving? Let’s get to it.

-A drug patent in the US lasts ten years. The company of origin has a decade to market the absolute hell out of it before the recipe (ingredients AND quantity) are released. This is how generic drugs exist, usually comprised entirely of the active ingredient of the “designer drug.”
For example, Tylenol’s active ingredient is acetaminophen. You can buy Tylenol for 15$ a bottle, or get much larger bottle of just acetaminophen for about 6$ at Jewel or CVS. Benadryl’s active ingredient is diphenhydramine. It’s a mouthful, but you can just buy a generic “allergy relief” box of pills for $4, with the only ingredient being diphenhydramine–it’ll serve the exact same purpose with the same quality. Read your labels!

-“I did read the labels! And the drug I saw on TV has more ingredients, not just the active ingredient! That makes it better than its generic version!”
This accusation is half-right. Brands put more things in their pills, but these ingredients are usually inactive. It’s essentially to make people believe that their drug is more comprehensive.

-“Then why do branded drugs cost so much more?” Because they can. And because they spend billions of dollars on marketing. The US and New Zealand are the only developed countries that allow direct-to-consumer marketing by pharmaceutical companies. Those wacky ads featuring 60-year-old white couples fishing and going to a ball game? They’re illegal practically everywhere else, because they divert pharmaceutic money away from research and development, and the ads are often misleading. Just think of the super-fast disclaimer at the end.

But back to the “because they can” part. Ahem. IT IS ILLEGAL IN THE US FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO EVEN TRY TO NEGOTIATE DRUG PRICES WITH PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES. Not difficult; not uncommon; illegal. That’s why epi-pen prices were allowed to rocket to hundreds of dollars a year ago. Because the CEOs had no opposition. And big surprise! People with life-threatening allergies need eip-pens to live, so they’ll pay whatever the cost.

-“OH GOD, why can’t we stop this?” Because designer drug brands make lots of money this way. The more money they make, the more powerful their lobby is in DC. I’m sure you’ve heard of “Big Pharma.” They’ve got more lobbyists, more cash, and more power than the National Rifle Association.
It took one meeting with Big Pharma lobbyists to turn Donald Trump’s view from “hey people should be able to afford their drugs” to “more money for Pharma means more innovation and more jobs or something.”

Oh man, here I said that’d be short, and yet here we are. Next time you’re in CVS looking for allergy meds, headache relief, or researching a new birth control pill, look at the ingredients. Then find the generic that boasts the brand-name’s active ingredient on its box. If you’re curious about all the other ingredients, you’ve got a smart phone. Look ’em up! If the generic’s package says “Compare with [Brand Name Drug]” that means it’s identical, except the pills might be a different shade of blue, or come in a bottle rather than a box.

The only difference is marketing. Be an educated consumer. The only way these kind of lobbyists will back off is if we stop feeding them.

Have a Scien-tastic Day!

 

“It’s A U S T E N, With A Space Between Each Letter.”

“In the write-up, how’d you like me to refer to you?”

“See, that’s a little complicated now.”

Austen Nobles has been making music since we met in 6th grade. He’s been writing and performing as “Nobility” as long as I can remember. He’d release tracks that sound so professional, no one would expect a high school student had anything to do with their production, much less author every aspect himself.

On February 20th, I met the further improved A U S T E N.

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Photo courtesy of A U S T E N.

 

Austen finished his degree in Recording Arts at Tribeca Flashpoint College. He produces beats to match his own lyrics, or at the request of other musicians. His own lyrical strength is in verses. He laughs as he admits it’s too bad, because choruses are what make you like songs. He’s always been good at free-styling, but we both felt awkward just calling his music ‘rap.’ So we talked about it. He sighed and spoke honestly: “It’s a joke to say you’re a rapper; you come off like a try-hard.” We moaned about Soundcloud-pushing artists, but Austen admits you don’t need to be signed anymore, if you can build your own fan base. And no, that’s not easy, and yes, I have no shame.

Austen produces for different artists based on reference tracks. He tells me a lot of beats get made and never used. But they always get finished. Of course, that doesn’t mean he’ll stop working when a track is technically complete. “I was going to release a song for Valentine’s Day,” he said, “but it’s still not good enough.”

I hate asking the question “what are your influences?” because it’s so plain. Thankfully Austen had interesting answers which managed to save this part of the write-up.

The first name mentioned was Childish Gambino. I was giggling and said he and Donald are both quintessential “Black Nerds,” and added if I’d had to guess his favorite influence, that’s who I’d have picked. Austen laughed and explained. “I really just relate to Donald Glover. If you’re a suburban black kid, you probably really like Childish Gambino.”

*Pause for 12 minutes of fawning over Atlanta.

“Childish Gambino expresses insecurity in his songs, and that’s relatable,” Austen continued. He added that we’re bored of the overconfident theme. Austen tries to portray a mix of some confidence and some insecurity in his music. “Where I’m at now, I could make sexy songs but I don’t feel comfortable doing that with my style just yet,” he smiled.

“So no ‘Adult Music’?”

“No ‘Adult Music’ here.”

I pressed him to elaborate on style: “Your music is nostalgic and fun. You have such a range and it’s not every day you find a rap song you just enjoy listening to. How did you manage to do that?” Immediately, Austen gives credit to his upbringing. He had plenty of exposure to indie, folk, metal, 80’s, you name it, and a love for different genres shows in his imaginative tracks. “Taste,” he says, “is the give-away that you’re new to this.” An artist unsure of their style won’t cross genres and their music feels limited. Austen continued, “You’re either a niche artist or you’re an evolution artist. I am—at least—I’m aspiring to be an evolution artist so my music can change.”

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Austen at the Music Garage, Summer of 2016. Photo courtesy of A U S T E N & Taylor Nettnin

I looked down at my paper for the next question.

“How’s your foot?”

Austen leaned his head back and covered his eyes with his hand. He grinned.

“It’s better.”

The last time I saw Austen perform, he had kicked off the brace holding a stress fracture together so he could dance. “Did it hurt? Yeah. But there’s this thing called adrenaline,” he added simply. I hate to say the risk of him getting hurt was worth it, but that was one hell of a performance. I didn’t know rap could be so engaging to watch live. He obviously cared a lot about how he performed, so I asked him why.

To him, gigs are a lesson. “What worked? What didn’t? Like, I learned which songs the crowd participates with and which ones not perform.”

“How do you tell an artist has experience based on their performance?”

“They’re calm. They already know how to capitalize on moments in a song, but they won’t look rehearsed. Each time performing feels fresh.” Austen earns this by treating each performance like it’s his last, and cited that sage advice was from his dad.

I sure would like to tell you about Austen’s unfinished songs I got to preview, but that’s not for me to disclose. I will say I’m excited and I’m really feeling the perks that come with writing for college radio.

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Photo courtesy of A U S T E N.

When my questions had been exhausted, we wandered around campus catching up. I made Austen do something I like to call “The BSB Challenge.” We walked into the center of the Behavioral Sciences Building and I asked him to find a random numbered classroom. After 20 minutes in the riot-proof, unfinished, Brutalist cement trap the Flames call home, there was no sign of Room 357 and we were in need of some fresh air. We did make it onto the roof though, and what BSB lacks in aesthetic, it makes up in location.

Humble to the end, Austen stood staring at the skyline and said, “I’m really not one for photos, and I hate to ask, but this view is so good.”

“No worries! And it’s not just good, it’s un-BEAT-able.”

“Just take the picture.”

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Photo courtesy of Jamie Leigh.

Have a Scien-tastic Day!

 

What Is A VenoSci And How Does It Chiptunes?

Nothing like dancing your feet through a fog machine and cutting your hands through flashing neon lights to clear up your writer’s block.
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I was lucky enough to learn about a show put on by MILKSHAKES in combo with Rora TEAM, an online label that deals with creative DJs and EDM composers. The event took place in the Digital Art Demo Space and featured artists from New York to California. Each performance was accompanied by customized visuals projected on a screen behind the stage, accentuating every turn and change in the music like an accompanying instrument. The team behind the visuals, lights, and smooth-running set ups of the show made the night beautiful.
At the expense of journalistic integrity, I’m going to play favorites. I couldn’t complain about any performer, but three really stood out.
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Photo courtesy of Rora Team & MILKSHAKES
First up is Brackets. When she got behind the table, I recognized her as the gal who got the crowd jumping even before her performance; her dancing  was practically contagious. Her set was high-powered and loaded with variety and tons of crowd-pleasing references. Also worth mentioning: she’s a Chicago native and Rora TEAM co-founder. If Brackets can find the time, she says she’s down for an interview and a visit to UIC Radio. No clever segue here, just click the brackets for the sound cloud: [][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
Though a tough act to follow, Brackets had no weight on Skinny McToothpick. His white hair and neon jacket gave the impression of a radioactive cartoon character. The music only contributed. So much energy packed into each brilliantly composed song kept everyone on their toes. You know when a performer gets so pulled into their work and enjoys them self so much, it makes you feel good just watching? Skinny McToothpick was more of a performer behind the table than most instrumental musicians and singers I’ve watched. I’m surprised he had the energy to rejoin the crowd and keep dancing after his set. See for yourself!
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Photo courtesy of VenoSci
The real reason I attended was to watch a good friend of mine, VenoSci AK(to me)A Aaron. I’m very lucky that the people I grew up with pursued their creative passions and then invite me to their performances. It’s been amazing, watching my friend improve and develop his music, but personally, I’m thankful it hasn’t changed too much since the shows he’d put on in high school.
What was that about journalistic integrity? Ah, yes. My unbiased review:
VenoSci makes chiptunes, and if you aren’t familiar with the genre, it’s well worth looking up. Here’s his Soundcloud for you to stream while finishing this article. Anyone who says DJing isn’t performance art obviously hasn’t seen this artist in action. VenoSci performs like the buttons he presses on his set up send electricity up his arms and moves with his music like he’s modeling for the crowd how to dance to his compositions. No wonder he describes performing as sweaty, exciting, and fun. During the show, he used a few pieces of Toy Box’s “Best Friend” and let the audience sing along. He even left the table and danced with the crowd to his own creation.
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Photo courtesy of VenoSci
VenoSci rocked the house and then agreed to be interviewed for UIC Radio. What a fabulous Saturday for this blogger!
Asking him to explain how his set up works to a non-tech, non-video game savvy person was an awkward inquiry, but he managed to get his process across. He uses 2 original Nintendo Gameboys, 1 Korean GP2X handheld, and a PsP 1000. Aaron added that, “since some of this equipment is over 20 years old at this point, things often go wrong: devices crash, SD cards aren’t recognized, batteries die frequently… It’s always an adventure having to maintain a quality set and also to troubleshoot hardware on the fly.”
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Photo courtesy of omicrono.elespanol.com

 

To make music on his Gameboy, he uses a special cartridge. Rather than containing a game, it contains a piece of custom music software. This allows the artist to control the sound card directly: “I can sequence out full songs which I then playback live. I use similar methods for playing back songs on my GP2X, but instead of synthesis, I sequence samples.”
What always amazes me is Aaron’s ability to make music feel nostalgic and classic, though it’s most at home among modern EDM genres. He credits this to the “built-in ‘nostalgic’ feel” in his software, as it’s an original Gameboy. He explained the soundcard is 100% stock, so the same soundcard has produced soundtracks to Pokemon and Zelda, two games our generation knows pretty well, even if we only got to watch our older brothers play them.
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Photo courtesy of VenoSci.
Aaron cites Japanese dance music as his biggest inspiration, mentioning Maltine Records, MadMilky Records, and artists like Tofubeats and Perfume. Combining these more complicated influences within the comforting 8-bit framework of the Gameboy is Aaron’s main challenge and inspiration. It ensures his music stands out while making his audience cheer.
I left the venue Saturday night with a hug and a promise that I’d be the first to know when he was on deck for his next show. That means you’ll be the second.
Have a VenoSci-en-tastic Day!

Some People Choose To Hear the Beauty In This World

“PAINT IT, BLACK! IT’S PAINT IT, BLACK, OH MY GOD!”

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Poster for the 1973 Sci-Fi film starring Yul Brynner that inspired HBO’s TV show of the same name. 

I had to call it before any of my friends figured it out. And I couldn’t hold it in; I was so excited. If you’ve ever wondered what The Rolling Stones would sound like if they had to write a spaghetti western theme with an orchestra at their disposal, that’s reason enough to check out Westworld.

This show scored major points by contracting Game of Thrones’ composer Ramin Djawadi to arrange classic songs in a style fitting for the wild west and its many veneers.

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Photo Courtesy of HBO.

Season One’s line up includes songs from:

  1. Sound Garden (Black Hole Sun)
  2. The Rolling Stones (Paint It, Black) (Obviously)
  3. Johnny Cash (Ain’t No Grave)
  4. Radiohead (No Surprises, Motion Picture Soundtrack, Fake Plastic Trees, Exit Music (For A Film)) Djawadi actually uses a cover of MPS by the Vitamin String Quartet for the show!
  5. The Cure (A Forest)
  6. Nine Inch Nails (Something I Can Never Have)
  7. Amy Winehouse (Back To Black)
  8. The Animals (House Of The Rising Sun)

These songs eerily fit into moments where Westworld’s main characters become consumed with curiosity, self-doubt, risk, and disbelief. The tunes echo a sensation of unrest in the characters and their audiences. If you’re a lyricist, you’ll notice the meanings of each song mesh with the on-screen drama in a way that makes your jaw drop, like you’ve just solved a riddle. You’ll hear House Of The Rising Sun play in the town’s brothel and realize that Ain’t No Grave could be referring to the hosts. Or the guests. Or the programmers. Or everyone.

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Photo Courtesy of HBO.

Does Djawadi select modern songs so the modern guests subconsciously feel at home while visiting the new “Old World?” Does he want the audience to feel this way, too? The songs are certainly hard to pick out when they’re partially buried under the din of gossip and shoot-outs that push the plot. Often, they’re played on an out-of-tune player piano, a novel piece of mechanized art for the portrayed era. Hinting at automated humanity while producing a hollow, creepy sound are Djawadi’s version of hitting two birds with one bullet.

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Photo Courtesy of HBO.

Whatever his reasons, this soundtrack has been added to my trail running playlist. Motivated by such an emotional, underdog-chiding echo, maybe I’ll finally make it to where the mountains meet the sea.

Have a Scien-tastic Day!

 

The Magical Mystery Tour

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I ended 2016 in Liverpool with my boyfriend and his family. On a foggy December day, we boarded a bus and drove around the city, learning the history of the history of rock & roll. I’m not the biggest Beatles fan, but anyone who discounts their music as uninfluential or superficial is trying very hard to sound sui generis. Whatever your opinion on the mop-tops, rock & roll as we know it wouldn’t exist without the crisscrossing streets of Liverpool.

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The street on which Ringo Starr was born and grew up.

We started at the famous docks in the historic port city where the Beatles Museum is located. Driving between the downtown area, we saw the park where John Lennon’s parents met, the houses where Ringo and George were born, Penny Lane, and Strawberry Fields (both actually real places!). We drove down the street where Lennon witnessed his mother be fatally hit by a car. We stopped at the graveyard that holds Eleanor Rigby (apparently unrelated to the song) near the church that turned down a young Paul McCartney for a choir spot, and saw the pub across the street from the arts college where John spent most of his time when he was supposed to be in class.

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Strawberry Fields

The tour ended at the Cavern Club, a club three stories underground, shaped like a tube station. I’m not sure what it used to be in a past life, but it’s been a hidden gem of Liverpool before The Quarrymen ever met. As the Beatles, the lads played here about 500 times over the course of two years.

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The Cavern Club. Check out the writing on the ceiling!

 

Display cabinets built into the brick walls housed treasures collected over the club’s lifetime, including one case that housed three guitars, one sporting the signatures of Freddie Mercury and Brian May, one with Mick Jagger and the rest of the Stones, and the third boasting the name David Gilmour.

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Say what you will about doo-wop, boy bands, and silly British teenage boys (and I’ll probably agree). There’s something powerful about three generations of people, from Brazil, the US, South Africa, the Philippines, and everywhere in between, all crowded in an underground cave in a rainy English city just to sing a song about holding hands that was written 53 years ago. Something that certainly qualifies as magical.

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Have a Scien-tastic day!

Aleksandar Zhitmirsky

What a mouthful. And what an exhibit!

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Joseph Goebbels (Head of Nazi Propaganda) and a Hollywood Producer in the 40s-50s

 

Humanism + Dynamite at the Art Institute is the most shocking exhibit I’ve seen there in ages. Brilliant prints of India ink and original editions of propaganda magazines showing off the decades-long career of Zhitmirsky, a Soviet propaganda artist.

His job was to turn the German soldiers against their leaders in WWII. And then, he was tasked with turning the American people against our capitalist leaders throughout the Cold War.

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“The War Drummer”

Hundreds of prints depict controversial leaders, from Goebbels to Truman, akin to apes, fat cats, Hitler, and nuclear missiles. In his work, Zhitmirsky always appeals to the disenfranchised individual, whether it’s a German soldier fed up with his duties, or a poor American, feeling that the economy is unfair. He speaks to “you” in his illustrations, while depicting incredibly intimate and personal situations to strike a certain chord among his viewers.

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“American Foreign Policy”

Zhitmirsky’s most incredible feat is his ability to get you to examine yourself. Sure, Soviet propaganda isn’t a reliable method for basing judgement about the character of a country, but an exhibit like this reminds one to keep a skeptical eye, and that there is power in questioning authority. Doubt is a sign of intelligence, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t study for your exams.

Have a Scien-tastic day!

 

Advice From Our Nobel Laureate

It hasn’t been my week, and if you’re a UIC student, odds are it hasn’t been your week either. It seems our role in the world is now set in stone.
But for those of you managing to sleep solely by picturing the progress taking place outside the US, you’re not alone.

Who loves Bob Dylan? The Nobel Committee and myself, apparently. We may not be bearing down on the most progressive four years our country has ever had, but it is our duty as citizens of a globalized society to support positive measures inside and outside of our country.

Music that gets you through an uncertain time is worth sharing. Dylan’s gift to us this year is his writing, reminding us that a step backwards doesn’t mean a change in direction. The progress we have made isn’t gone for good.
I await its inevitable reemergence with poetry that has withstood the test of war, civil rights, and time:

“Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’
For the loser now will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’”

For everyone at UIC, have a peaceful week.