Donald Trump Isn’t The Problem


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Donald Trump did not create the current awfulness of our politics; he is the product of it. Every evil, nasty thing you see on TV with the name ‘TRUMP’ attached to it is not his idea, not his creation. Trump doesn’t have original creations. He is just a name, a name to attach to other people’s creations, be they buildings, golf courses or horrific, life-ending legislation. To quote HBO’s John Oliver, he was (initially) a ‘sh*tty lifestyle brand,’ nothing more.

I say this because I have a very real fear that if Donald Trump leaves, so will people’s interest and awareness of the mess in this country. It is because people failed to be interested for so long that Donald Trump became president. It is because of passive disinterest, not active evil, that he came to power. All-too-common attitudes like, “I don’t care about politics,” ultimately gave him way more leverage than the minority of people who chanted, “Make America great again!”

Studies have shown… what the rich want [politically], the rich get, and when it comes to the rest of us, tough luck!

State and local community issues need to become a focus, and they are something we can start focusing. on. now. Both Democrats and Republicans alike have betrayed us, to varying degrees, for favor of the upper class. Studies have shown when it comes to actual results and enacted policies, what the rich want, the rich get, and when it comes to the rest of us, tough luck! This is oligarchy. Donald Trump isn’t the reason Illinois doesn’t have a budget. Donald Trump isn’t the reason colleges are in danger of shutting down. Admittedly his decisions are exacerbating all of this, but these dilemmas existed well before his rise to power. If Hillary had been elected, we would still be dealing with our problems closer to home (and many/most of the national ones, as well). It all originates at the top.

There’s no reason for it to be this way. Way more of us exist than them. Waiting a potential four (or god forbid, eight) years for one human’s time to be up is a strategy for brutal loss. This is something Bernie has been practically screaming from his old, tired lungs ever since the election started. Just as Trump can’t be solely responsible for the bad, as many before me have desperately pointed out, Bernie (nor any one president/figure) can’t be the sole source of good. It is our responsibility to fix this mess at all levels, continuously, as collective Americans. I don’t have all the answers. I just know what isn’t the answer. And the answer isn’t to start and stop our activism with Donald Trump. 🇺🇸


Trev Richards is host of the weekly talk program Trev on UIC Radio; Live, Mondays 8:30 – 10:30 PM Central Time. Follow/listen on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, iTunes and SoundCloud

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TREVIEW: Why Lady Gaga’s “The Cure” is the Most Depressing Song of the Year

“Treview” is a spontaneous and grossly-titled series in which I, Trev, review new tracks or artists that spark a greater conversation outside the music itself. Whether it’s titillating controversy, an impact on culture, or a shift in the musical landscape, these songs are more than meets the ear.


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Make no mistake: I was very disappointed with the direction of Joanne, and while I frequently sweated through my intense CrossFit workouts light cardio to the multi-culture appropriating ARTPOP, I recognize it to be largely a flop as well. News of Gaga returning to more standard pop fare was exciting. After periods of jazz and faux folk, I, like many, desperately longed for some new, certified Gaga bangers. It’s revelation to absolutely no one that Lady Gaga hasn’t been as musically or culturally relevant since 2009, when she released her goth-pop masterpiece The Fame Monster EP. Meat dresses, #1 hits, anatomical controversies; Gaga was on top of the world, sparkler ti***es and all. Her weird, theatrical impact on pop music continues to this day. This is why listening to her latest single, The Cure, is so sad. Gone are the sonic risks, the sexual ambiguity, the Ra ra-ah-ah Roma roma-mas. Every aspect of her identity on this track has been weathered and dismantled, removed board by board until all we’re left with is Scheiße.

The Cure is a song that is sure to be void of radio failure, but is also totally void of herself. Even at her lowest, most celestial-centric moments, Gaga could still be counted on to be one thing: Gaga. Where some nauseatingly tried to cash in on civil rights movements in an act of marketing expediency, Gaga championed the LGBT community in her songs with a true and tangible compassion reciprocated to the fans that offered her support when she was no more than a club act with some buzz. Where most album covers are focus-group-honed, inoffensive squares of current trends, Gaga’s are a clusterf*** mashup of motorcycle-meets-maiden. Now, she has abandoned her signature anthemic sincerity and advocacy, replacing them with a hollow dance-hall track indistinguishable from the entirety of current Top 40 convention, complete with cover art that features, presumably, the best result of a photo shoot who’s rank insipidness challenges its very songsake and a background of grey that borders on sardonic. Remove the vocals, and it’d be virtually impossible to tell that this is a project of Mother Monster’s at all. One can’t help but wonder how much of it even is.

With The Cure, modern pop’s true queen has handed in her crown for generic sounds and guaranteed sales.

I’m sure I’ll still find myself casually listening along, that is, if I can ever move past the fact that this is simply the least-Gaga Gaga song that’s ever been released. Having been a fan since I too was one of the many closeted, little monsters in a small town, listening for a source of identity and freedom (The Fame was the first album I purchased in its entirety), this admittedly cuts deeper for me than it probably should or does for most. It’s understandable for her to be fatigued after several attempts, and years, of trying to be true-to-self have, for the most part, not paid off critically or commercially. Certainly there’s nothing wrong with wanting your work to be appreciated. Perhaps this is the start of an era with a subsequent EP or album that will redeem it. Maybe this will just be a one-off Coachella gift. I have to admit, the initial seconds of the song gave me post-Joanne hope. Lady Gaga heading back to dance territory, or even dance-hall for that matter, is certainly something welcomed by myself and fans worldwide. This is to say as long as it’s her dance territory. As long as it’s not this. With The Cure, modern pop’s true queen has handed in her crown for generic sounds and guaranteed sales. Little Monsters everywhere are asking themselves: “Where’s mom?” I feel sad listening to this. I feel sad for Lady Gaga.

Listen to the song and cry along with me here:


Trev Richards is host of the weekly talk program Trev on UIC Radio; Live, Mondays 8:30 – 10:30 PM Central Time. Follow/listen on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, iTunes and SoundCloud

Going Through Gay Puberty in a Conservative Community

This is the first installment of a multi-part series detailing my experiences during the initial realization of my sexuality at twelve years old and the subsequent struggles I endured because of it. Capturing these moments is a difficult and extremely emotional process for me. I hope at least some of you will read along and find something worthwhile. – Trev


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Part I: Sitting on the Edge of Heaven

Self discovery can be a tremendously beautiful and illuminating experience. It is a time when a young person chisels the brilliantly unique sculpture that is their identity, sharing characteristics with many others yet somehow amalgamating into one that is wholly its own. I remember the initial joy I felt: pure, unreserved. An abundance of internal confetti rained down as all the various parts of my self united for a toast over a grand celebration of realized soul. Recognizing a personal talent, experiencing a first kiss, discovering a taste in music or a sense of fashion; there are few processes on this Earth as manifestly beautiful and natural as this. Left to its default, this time can contain some of the most glorious experiences in a person’s life. For some, this is exactly the case. For others, such as myself, the party gets busted. This is more in the sense of a malicious raid conducted by abusers of authority rather than justice being brought upon some obstreperous breakers of law. It didn’t start out awful, however.

My development began like anyone else’s. Eighth grade was the year I discovered a significant amount of myself, especially the sexual components, while the previous three were mainly focused on basic survival. Middle school was a mostly dark and treacherous tunnel of an experience, but eighth grade would emerge as the beaming light at the end of it. It’s not that I was brutally shoved into lockers or stricken with abject poverty. Materially and externally, I recognize that I’ve lived a relatively fortunate life. My assaults have been almost exclusively emotional in nature. These, of course, range from the minor to the more substantial. For an example of the former, when it came time for the rather inclusive fifth grade Christmas play, yours truly was honored with the role of the most corpulent character in all the land: Santa Claus.

Getting stuck with the part of Crisco Kringle can be attributed to my being quite portly in those days. Upon receiving the role, I was distinctly told by my teacher that we would place, “… a pillow or something,” under the tawdry, red outfit when the time came, because of course I hadn’t been typecast for being the plumpest pupil in the room. Needless to say, come showtime, it became quite clear that my designation was based on fitting the costume more than the role. After getting dressed I asked about the proposed padding only to be met with a terse, “I think we’ll be okay.” Yep. So this festive Humpty Dumpty rolled his jolly, fat ass onto that stage and gave it his all, sans pillow or dignity. It’s worth noting that I don’t have much red in my wardrobe to this very day, as if the mere sight of it irritates me, like some kind of bulimic bull. This is still far less direct than the time my seventh grade history teacher recommended I try out for shot put because I was, ‘nice and stout,’ (to this day I get triggered when perusing selections of beer) followed by derisive chuckling by both he and my supposed “best friend” at the time. Both at home and within those halls, these sorts of minor aggressions would be consistent but trivial compared to the larger tribulations to come.

General body dysmorphia aside, by eight grade I had started eating better and moving more. Turns out self-hatred can be somewhat of a motivator, at least temporarily. Point is, I was feelin’ myself. I had an unprecedented level of confidence and comfort towards school, in part because that prepubescent, transitional phase where kids are desperate to prove their maturity and value against increased competition had simmered down. People had on the whole chilled the f*ck out, at least until next year, when we’d once again be launched into the bottom of a feral, hormonal wilderness. It was at this time I also started to recognize my attraction to other boys. In the earliest stages, before feelings left the unnoticed, background hum of subconscious and entered the frontal realm of labels and suppositions, these feelings granted me nothing short of unadulterated bliss. Crushes developed, boners boned as my overly naive mind navigated itself through exciting, new territory. All of this culminated into a moment where I was taking care of the placement of teachers’ mail per my duties as an ‘office assistant.’ (This willingness to please and assist authority would come to plague my development more than anything else.) Staring into a name tag-covered wall of schlocky, wooden cubes, my internal monologue reached it’s breaking point. Just say it. Admit it to yourself. Aloud, alone, I resigned and whispered, “I’m gay.”

In this instant I actually smiled. There was no feeling of wickedness or vice. Once the word had materialized, however, it was a short amount of time before indoctrinated judgement cast its dark, unloving shadow. My party got busted. The scratching sound of needle being abruptly ripped from vinyl pierced through the room as men in uniform despotically kicked down my doors of self, barking and breaking as the joy was replaced with fear and the celebrating turned to living nightmare. Such is often the experience of being gay in rural America. Much like the figurative festivity, the risk of continued disruption is usually mitigated by relocation, ideally to places that honor the separation of foliage and fashion. I tabled the problem at hand for the time being.

Over the following weeks and months I endured internal warfare. Images of the scaly, smelly flesh of demons that had been taught to my obsessive compulsive mind since I was six flooded my spirit. Shrieks of anguished and aflame disobeyers served as the soundtrack to what was supposed to be a formative and wonderful period of my life. The invisible crusade raged on until, one night, I decided to call upon the One I had been taught to in times like this. I knew what I was feeling was wrong, but I didn’t actually feel wrong. I also knew that I loved God very, very much, and I wanted all of his love in return. So, amidst the backdrop of another unnervingly still, Midwestern night, feeling as small as I ever had, I seated my twelve year old self on the edge of my bed. With desperation and incertitude, I held my clammy, adolescent hands together and spoke to him, aloud, “God, if there is any way, any way at all for you to love me the way I am, please do. Please, show me that you do.” There was no response. I remained confused and alone, waiting for God to love me. Waiting for permission to love myself.


Trev Richards is host of the weekly talk program Trev on UIC Radio; Live, Mondays 8:30 – 10:30 PM Central Time. Follow/listen on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, iTunes and SoundCloud

Trump’s Presidency Is the Largest Terrorist Attack Since 9/11

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Inauguration Day was a tragedy of epic proportions. The largest attack on our nation’s soil since 9/11. This time, the terrorists are not operating planes or weaponry. They are grasping pens, sitting behind wooden desks, preparing to erode every last modicum of decency through detrimental legislation. This is a turning point. Do we succumb to evil? Or do we rise up and prove, once and for all, that this is a nation which values life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for ALL of its citizens? Time will tell.

One thing is certain: we cannot passively sit on the sidelines. Not anymore. They’ll come for your food. They’ll come for your internet rates and access. Your clubs, alcohol, fashion, music; all of it. They’ll design everything to enrich themselves and their corporate brethren until you and I can no longer afford the distractions that we used to ignore the steady weathering of our rights. This is not to say distraction is inherently wrong, but opting for the more immediately convenient route of escapism is not a path towards prosperity.

In the past we’ve comforted ourselves with defeated cries of, “Nothing will ever change,” “There’s nothing I can do.” Ignored the news while we binge watched, drank, ate. Many people have long existed in this country without being afforded these distractions to mask their suffering. We didn’t care. Now? It’s caught up to us. Sad that it took personal stake to galvanize the general population, but here we are. Joining them in the ranks. Gasping on our sandy islands of privilege as a tidal wave rises against a bright orange sky and washes away the false sense of security and paradise we once relished in.

The time for action is now. These are the days they will teach to generations. Where were you? What did you do? What side did you align yourself with? When your relatives flip through the photo album, will they embarrassingly hide the nature of your character? Or will they be proud of their heritage, proud of the legacy you left behind and proud to be Americans? The choice is ours.