Category Archives: Arts & Culture

Dystopian worlds: fiction’s latest trend

Photo under  Creative Commons by Enokson
Photo under Creative Commons by Enokson

Imagine a world that is in disorder. A world where a nation is run by a totalitarian government, experiencing oppression, and the thought of death is constantly looming in the minds of citizens. Suddenly, an individual seeking a revolution arises and starts an uprising that will change the nation.

Does this sound familiar? It should, as it is the storyline of a couple dystopian novels that were recently published. A current trend of post-apocalyptic novels turned blockbuster movies has been circulating right after sparkling vampires had won over the hearts of audiences everywhere.

Series such as The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Divergent by Veronica Roth have been highly popular among young adults. However, both series seem to contain the same storyline – the world is in complete chaos and someone needs to fix it.

The question, however, is why now? Why are dystopian novels turned into movies so popular among the young adult audiences now?

This fascinating genre of novels has stemmed from a long history, perhaps starting in the 1930s. According to The Guide to Dystopian Literature, post-apocalyptic novels are based on the fear of state. Novels such as 1984 by George Orwell and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury were all inspired by communism and World War II.

Moving on, the “second wave” of dystopian literature was highly inspired by “environmental crises” and the Cold War. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro are all novels that seemingly contain a sort of worry for the human body and “distrust of the state.”

Now, a wave of popular culture and the after-effects of September 11th, 2001 have sparked the interest of young adult audiences toward dystopian entertainment. The Hunger Games and Divergent are two popular novel series that have been turned into blockbuster films. 

Both movies differ in plot, as The Hunger Games series is set in a futuristic society, Panem, while the Divergent series is set in a post-apocalyptic society. Panem is run by a powerful government, that each year, chooses two teenagers from each of the twelve districts to battle in a competition that involves a fight to the death. Katniss Everdeen, a girl from District 12, volunteers to participate in replacement of her younger sister, Prim. This then starts and leads toward the uprising that is described later in the books.

On the other hand, the Divergent series, set in a post-apocalyptic society, is divided into five factions – Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite. The story follows Beatrice “Tris” Prior, who is in search for her own identity in this community that is divided. 

However, there is one trait that these two series have that past post-apocalyptic novels have lacked: romance.

Romance mixed with a tough heroine are aspects that both novels contain. The authors of these novels made sure to incorporate some sort of love interest between the heroine and her companion while they are starting and seeking for a rebellion. For example, in The Hunger Games series, Katniss Everdeen eventually falls in love with her District 12 partner, Peeta Mellark. In Divergent, Tris falls in love with Four while training in the Dauntless faction.

This connection between two characters targets the interest of young adult audiences, more specifically the women. Perhaps Hollywood decided to turn these novels into movies because the trend of romance between vampires and humans has been run down and has finally come to an end.

However, there is a much deeper meaning as to why audiences are so drawn to post-apocalyptic stories today. A theory suggests that the attraction could be because today’s generation has been impacted greatly by the September 11th attacks. The fear or worry that a disastrous event can occur at any time could be instilled within the minds of young adults today.

According to Cecilia Goodnow, this genre of literature is favorited because “it mirrors a world beset by some of the most frightening problems in recent memory, from climate change to terrorism and the shredding of privacy and free will.”

Furthermore, according to a recent studyThe Hunger Games seems to reflect “the post-9/11 era where individual freedoms have been threatened.” The study gives the example of when Katniss experiences the perils of “speaking out against the government.” This in turn can be seen as a comment “on the ease in which an American citizen today could be reclassified as an enemy of the state.”

By seeing these fictional characters live out and fight against the communal fear within their world, it easily depicts the “what could happen” if today’s world experienced that.

“It is the fear and sense that something is shifting that draws the attention of young audiences today,” says Laura Garcia-Moreno, SF State humanities professor.

Whether or not it is about rebellion or a journey toward a more simplified life, what each heroine within these dystopian novels give their audience is hope; hope for a better life and hope for a better future.

Beats N’ Stuff #2: hiphoppin’

Hello everyone!

This week’s playlist theme is “hiphoppin’”, which will explore just that, hip-hop (and trip-hop too I guess). Hip-Hop’s evolved a lot over time, from the smooth rhymes of A Tribe Called Quest to the harsh beats of Dr. Dre to the melancholic yet insanely popular Drake. The beautiful thing about hip-hop and rap is how diverse it is, hip-hop can be anything from two Japanese girls rapping in a karaoke bar (ala to a man rapping about the absence of his damn croissants.

For this week’s “hiphoppin’” playlist, I picked out some notable hip-hop artists, a legendary hip-hop producer, a trip-hop artist, and one of the biggest rappers in the game right now.

 1.) “3030” by Deltron 3030

Hip-hop group Deltron 3030 consists of producer Dan the Automator, Kid Koala, and the one and only Deltron Zero aka Del the Funky Homosapien aka the guy that raps on some songs on Gorillaz’s first album. Deltron’s Deltron 3030 is a wacky space rap-opera set in the year 3030 (duh), and it’s arguably one of the greatest hip-hop records of all-time. Deltron Zero and crew are actually going to be playing at this weekend’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival on Saturday! It’ll be a blast. They’ll allegedly have an orchestra with them, so you can yell out “Deltron Zero, hero, not no small feat” along with a triumphant horns.

Recommended if you like: Gorillaz, musicians that have only released two albums in 15 years

2.) “MFN” by Cibo Matto

Cibo Matto are a New York City-based Japanese trip-hop duo hailing from the nineties. They recently reunited in 2011 with the culmination of their latest album Hotel Valentine releasing this past February. The album is funky and weird, proving that the ladies Yuka Honda and Miho Hatori haven’t changed one bit in all those years. While it doesn’t touch their masterpiece, Stereotype A, Yuka and Miho still show that they’ve got the “it” factor. Cibo Matto will also be in San Francisco this weekend for two shows: one at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass on Friday and one at The Chapel on Saturday night.

Recommended if you like: the video game Jet Set Radio

3.) “Just Tonight” – PR0P0SE

My personal favorite record label is the small internet digi-punk-esque Maltine Records. The best thing about Maltine: they put out all of their music for free! I discover a lot of rad musicians on there, one of them being the hip-hop duo PR0P0SE. Part thamesbeat, part Onomatope Daijin, PR0P0SE is a fun Japanese rappin’ duo, and exemplifies Japanese hip-hop at its finest.

Recommended if you like: Funky/retro-inspired beats

4.) “Don’t Even Try It (feat. Funky DL)” – Nujabes

Nujabes, or Jun Seba, is a legendary hip-hop producer who unfortunately passed away in a car accident in 2010. His relaxing, chill-enthused beats were refreshing in an era filled with repetitive beats and a lack of originality, and he began a trend of like-minded producers around the world. Nujabes is personally one of my top five favorite musicians of all-time, and his music spanning from his studio albums to the score he wrote for Shinichiro Watanabe’s anime Samurai Champloo stand as evidence for his immense talent. Though he may be gone, he will never be forgotten.

Recommended if you like: Good music

5.) “0 to 100/The Catch Up” – Drake

I grew up watching Degrassi on The N, later renamed as TeenNick. It’s still very, very, very strange to me that little Jimmy Brooks grew up to become a famous rapper outside of Canada and hangs out with Lil Wayne on a regular basis. Regardless, Drake has proven that he’s not just a hit-maker, but can legitimately make thoughtful music. In a year where both he and Kanye West both released new albums, the last thing I expected was favoring Drake’s album (though Yeezus is also great in its own right!). While this particular track may not be evidence of that, it at least has a killer beat.

Recommended if you like: That episode of Degrassi where Jimmy upstages Ashley at her own concert by going on stage and rapping (a metaphor for Lil Wayne’s career after launching Drake’s)

The State of Comedy in SF State’s Comedy

Before I roll up my sleeves and unload, first things first: going up on stage in front of people and doing anything takes giant testicles or massive ovaries. Public speaking is more feared than death meaning most people would rather be the corpse in the casket than the person delivering the eulogy at the same funeral.

That is important to note while reflecting on SF State’s comedy night on September 25th, a night where amateur comedians go on stage at The Depot and do some good ol’ fashioned stand-up comedy. It would be too easy and quite rude to dig into amateur comics for not being equals to Louis C.K. or Dave Chappelle. After all, every comic has to start somewhere and that somewhere usually is not that funny.

Photo taken by Michael Leri. Comedian Mark Smalls, the night's best act, took the stage on Thursday and handled hecklers at The Depot.
Photo taken by Michael Leri.
Comedian Mark Smalls, the night’s best act, took the stage on Thursday and handled hecklers at The Depot.

But it would be impossible to casually gloss over the shortcomings of some of the comedians. Comedy is made up of four pillars: delivery, timing, originality, and (most importantly) sting. Every line, every joke, and every set must at least utilize a few of those elements. The best jokes do all four.

Each comedian succeeded and failed in different respects. The opening act may have seemed like a loud, dry fart that only received blank stares and nervous coughs from the audience, but the jokes slightly improved as each comic took the stage. Despite the stumbles, most of them had at least one great joke that allowed them to cruise to the end of their set, which is sometimes enough. After all, this was a free show. However, it became harder and harder to enjoy the jokes – great or not – because of one simple aspect: the terrible heckling.

Heckling is a part of comedy; it just happens. But that reasoning does not excuse it.

Photo by Michael Leri. David Naimyar grabbed the mic after a rocky start by the opener.
Photo by Michael Leri.
David Naimyar grabbed the mic after a rocky start by the opener.

Every single comedian had to go through the same thing: screaming, swearing, and interrupting from the drunk people in the audience at every possible moment. Bad jokes were met with shouting. Great jokes – given that they were not cut off and nearly ruined – were met with even more increasingly-incoherent shouting. It bred an increasingly hostile environment between the crowd and the comedians on the stage – and that is the saddest part.

Comedy, at its very core, is about having a good time. Satirical reflections on society or just really great punchlines yield escapism that stand-up comedy – at its best – does better than any other form of comedy. Laughing at hypothetical issues is a good way to forget about the very real problems that happen in your life. That’s why comedy exists; to escape our lives for a bit. It is equally as confusing as it is depressing when this goal is not shared by certain bad eggs in the audience. This mentality ruins the experience for everyone in the room and no one benefits from it.

It is a mentality that, frankly, I do not understand. It is almost as if the people in the audience cannot stand to see someone else getting attention. So, in a pathetic attempt to direct attention back to them, they do the only thing their tiny, lizard brains allow them to do: starting becoming a loud asshole. Being incredibly rude is commonly mistaken by idiots to be the shortest route to being funny. It is commonly why a lot of unfunny people you may know are probably overly sarcastic or derive their material at other people’s expense. There is a certain nuance to being rude and funny, something only the greats like Daniel Tosh understand.

Stupid people in the audience usually do not pick up on those subtleties.

The rude comments made by the hecklers were butting head-to-head with actual jokes, and, sadly, the loud bellows from the idiots were overshadowing actual jokes by the actual comedians. It became a dick waving competition filled with a bunch of chodes from the audience and the louder chodes usually “win.”

Photo taken by Michael Leri. Comedian and host Jordan Cerminara telling his own jokes.
Photo taken by Michael Leri.
Comedian and host Jordan Cerminara telling his own jokes.

The chodes from audience even had a chance to snatch the mic during the open mic, which is where the real fangs whipped out. Tension was already high but exponentially increased as the awful hecklers took the stage and attempted to do some “comedy.”

Or I should say “The Thing Formally Known as Comedy” because a few of the hecklers that were drunk enough to stumble on the stage basically committed homicide against all things funny. Getting their intoxicated selves up there was almost a godsend because it cemented the fact that being funny is way harder than it looks, so, when in doubt, shut the fuck up.

Photo taken by Michael Leri. SFSU student Michael Oberst takes the stage during open mic.
Photo taken by Michael Leri.
SFSU student Michael Oberst takes the stage during open mic.

After a “performance” that was basically just the word “faggot” shouted sixty-five times, it devolved into a mess that it did not ever completely recover from. Rap battle scenes in 8 Mile were not as hostile as some of the stand-up duels that took place upon that tiny stage within the college. The situations allowed from some solid insults, but, even then, it did not feel like it had the essence of comedy inside them – just mean-spirited burns.

I walked out of The Depot not only disappointed as a fan of comedy, but as a person. There were some good laughs, sure, but the sheer hostility of a small, loud section of the audience soured me on the whole experience and overwrote the good time that was buried within there. I love to laugh and absorb comedy. It is a shame that others cannot respect that.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Pumpkin Spice Edition

Fall is just around the corner, and how do we know this? Because Starbucks has unleashed their fall drinks including their infamous pumpkin spice latte! Companies far and wide are jumping on the pumpkin spice craze this year and have created a pumpkin spice classics of their own.

Below is a list of some of the craziest pumpkin spice products on the market and, being the brave soul that I am, I tried each and every one of them to save everyone the hassle of deciding what they really wanted, because, you know, deciding what pumpkin spice product you want can be a tough decision.

Pumpkin Pie Pop Tarts: I tried these two different ways because there are two types of people in the world – those who warm up their Pop Tarts and those that eat them straight out of the package; I felt like I needed to fairly represent both. First, I tried the Pop Tart not warmed up and it was not bad. The pumpkin spice taste was strong as well as too sweet for my preference. I would probably only be able to eat one every so often because it would be too much for me. When warmed up, it was one hundred times better. I felt like the pumpkin spice taste was not as strong. It almost felt like I was eating a warm pie on Thanksgiving. If you are going to eat these, I would highly recommend heating them first. Rating: Good

Pumpkin Spice M&Ms: Actually, these do not taste like pumpkin spice. When I first opened the package and looked at the candy pieces, I thought I was in a world of trouble; they were big and fat and all I could think of was “this is going to be pumpkin spice overload.” I was surprised when I popped them into my mouth and they tasted like normal M&Ms, with the tiniest hint of nutmeg. After eating about four or five M&Ms, I did not even notice the nutmeg taste. Rating: Bad

Frontera Chipotle Pumpkin Salsa: No to all the nos – I did not like this one bit. If someone took a picture of my face when I was eating this, it would have looked like the squiggly faced emoji – the one that looks in pain. The salsa was extremely bland with a weird pumpkin taste and whole bunch of heat. The heat is not what bugged me, it was the pumpkin flavor. There was too much pumpkin that engulfed your mouth with every crunch of the chip and it did not complement the rest of the flavors in the salsa. Rating: Ugly

Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale: The beer tasted like a normal ale to me. If I did not know that this was supposed to be a pumpkin beer, than I would not have realized that it had any type of pumpkin in it. It was a good beer, but it did not live up to what was on its label. Rating: Bad

Chobani Pumpkin Spice Blended Greek Yogurt: This was really good in my opinion. It was not too sweet and it did not have an overwhelming taste of pumpkin spice. It tastes like Chobani took a pumpkin pie and mashed it into Greek yogurt. It is really creamy and does not have any chunks in it like some Greek yogurt can have. I also really like the light orange color it has. Rating: Good

In the end, most of the products I tasted were not that bad and I think that a lot of people would like them if they like sweet foods. I’m not a fan of super sweet food, which is why I liked the Chobani yogurt the best. Pumpkin spice is a great blessing in disguise and I will always give a new pumpkin spice product a try just because I love it that much. Now, I am off to get yet another pumpkin spice latte and welcome fall!



‘Gotham’- A Recap and Review of TV’s Hottest Show

Photo under  Creative Commons by Prayitno
Photo under Creative Commons by Nate Grigg

Warning: This piece contains spoilers from the season premiere episode of Gotham!

When Gotham opens, you are introduced to Selina Kyle, better known as Catwoman, witnessing the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne, who are shot and killed right in front of their son in an alleyway.

The show moves onto the Gotham Police Department, where we see scruffy detective Harvey Bullock and his new “war-hero” partner Jim Gordon, who is the show’s man focus. Bullock and Gordon are called to the double murder of the Waynes, where Bullock tries to leave the scene, knowing the murder will cause a lot of uproar and trouble for him. Bullock tries to convince Gordon to drop the case, stressing that the Major Crimes Unit should take it.

Bullock, disliking having Gordon, as a partner, tries to get Captain Essen to let him switch partners or convince “solider boy” to request a transfer. After the failed attempt, the viewers are introduced to crime scene investigator Edward Nygma, who is presumably the Riddler. Bullock and Gordon visit the “crime queen” Fish Mooney her henchman, Oswald Cobblepot, or Penguin.

The next morning, Bullock comes up with a lead through no other than Fish – Poison Ivy’s father, Mario Pepper. Pepper is known as a low level thug that is in possession of Martha Wayne’s stolen pearl necklace, which was stolen from her right before she was murdered.

You soon see Penguin get into a police vehicle, belonging to detectives Montoya and Allen, and snitch that Pepper may have been set up by Carmine Falcone, who is believed to have organized the Waynes’ murder.

Gordon, the protagonist, finds out about the framing of Pepper and passes it onto Bullock, pressing that the information may be true because some of the facts did not match up. Bullock invites Gordon to talk to Fish himself to clear the air, which only makes the situation worse. Fish, while being entertained by the joker, has her thugs kidnap Gordon and prepare to kill him. Bullock makes a bid for Gordon’s life, which then gets him into trouble when Fish feels like he is threatening her.

Falcone swoops in and saves the day, saying that Fish needs to ask permission before a cop killing and lets the guys go in peace. Falcone says that Pepper was framed “not to conceal the true killer but to swiftly give the city a peace of mind it needed.” Afterward, Bullock tells Gordon that he needs to prove himself by offing the snitcher, Penguin. Gordon, fighting with what is wrong and right, walks Penguin to the end of the pier and whispers in his ear to “never return to Gotham,” takes a fake kill shot, and Penguin plummets into the river.

Gotham ends with a flash forward to the river were we see Penguin surface and climb ashore, where he promptly kills an innocent fisherman.

This show was great and if I had to give it stars, it would be five out of five. The introduction of the popular characters were flawless, especially how they introduced them in different fashions, like the Riddler having riddles about crime evidence or the joker doing standup comedy for Fish. Having the characters introduced this way already sets their back stories into motion, but also gives an element of surprise. If people do not catch the little clues that are given, then they will not necessarily know that they are meeting an important character.

What makes Gotham awesome though is that it does not entirely focus on Bruce Wayne. Everyone knows Batman’s story and how he became Batman, but if you do not read the comics, then you do not know how the other characters became who they are today and with Gotham, we will learn just that; especially with the emphasis of Jim Gordon.

Twitter was all a buzz when Gotham premiered on Monday night. Many people said they were hooked from the first opening scene, amazed with how Gotham was portrayed on television. Others did not like how Gotham premiered all the main villains in one episode, adding that this may drag the rest of the season down with less anticipation when learning about each villain.

Gotham is a series that I will continue watching, I am interested to learn more about each villain and how Jim Gordon will become commissioner.


@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz

 Photo by Brenna Cruz, special to Xpress

Starting today, September 27th, a seemingly unusual partnership starts on Alcatraz Island. From now until April 26th 2015, Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei’s exhibition @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz will be shown on the historic federal prison island turned national park site. The significance of this? For starters, this artist will not be attending his own show.

Well, at least not for now. The artist is, and has been, banned from leaving China since April of 2011, and will continue to be indefinitely until Chinese authorities allow him access. He was originally detained for eighty-one days on the premise of “tax evasion,” but has continued to be detained because the Chinese a government suspects him of “other crimes.” Others say it is because Chinese authorities have not liked Ai for some time because of his outspoken politics and art.

Ranked in the top twenty of most influential artists in 2011, it is not hard to believe that Ai has a huge following online, with about one hundred and two thousand followers on Instagram and more than two hundred and fifty-five thousand followers on Twitter. Hashtags including #aicantbehere, #passportnow, and #flowerforfreedom are dedicated to the artist and his work and have been spreading across social media. Since his the first day of his detainment, the artist has taken a picture of flowers on a bicycle and posted it on social media daily, symbolizing his inability to travel; some followers have done the same to show their support of the artist.

So, how is it this show came into fruition then? Curator and executive director of the For-Site Foundation, Cheryl Haines, took it upon herself to come up with one of the most symbolic while slightly ironic places to hold the exhibition. Haines has been planning with Ai since his release from jail two years ago, when she offered to bring him a prison for his work to be featured in.

“This exhibition is a very large undertaking for our foundation and addresses some very basic issues important to us all, the need for human rights, freedom of expression, and the role that communication plays in creating a just society,” said Haines in an interview with SF Gate.

The curator, the artist, the For-Site Foundation, Golden Gate National Recreation Area (the National Park area that has managed Alcatraz since 1972), Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy (the nonprofit partner of the GGNRA), along with groups of volunteers have worked together to plan and execute this exhibition.

Many of the pieces in this art show are a part of a larger global discussion – that of prisoners of conscience. The goal of this initiative is to draw attention to other activists and political prisoners locked up or put under house arrest globally, and the injustice in such a system that allows this. The exhibition includes pictures of one hundred and seventy-six prisoners of conscience, including Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and Martin Luther King Junior, made out of one point two million LEGOs and then constructed by volunteers in San Francisco following more than two thousand sheets of instruction put together by Ai.

“Alcatraz has been a place for movements of freedom to be seen ever since the indigenous people occupation in the 1970s. With Ai Weiwei’s exhibit, this brings the same conversation to a global scale,” says Alexandra Picavet, public affairs officer for Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Entrance to see @Large is technically free, because Alcatraz Island is a National Park site, but the ferry ride over to the island via Alcatraz Cruises is $30. Other packages are available as well, with things like the early bird special and gift for $50 and a guided tour plus the gift for $125. You do have to make sure you purchase tickets in a bit early – they tend to sell out a few weeks in advance.

But this show is much more than LEGOs. Every part of the exhibit intends to send a message; a colorful dragon kite representing personal freedom, porcelain flowers in sinks and toilets representing the comfort flowers could bring to prisoners, and a giant wing, made out of repurposed Tibetan solar cookers and kettles, representing freedom that can be viewed by visitors, but not accessed are just a few of the pieces of the exhibit.

Although it is also aesthetically pleasing to visit, @Large raises more important questions than “why did he chose that color over this other one?” It brings visitors and onlookers to think about what exactly constitutes right and wrong, who deserves to be treated like a criminal, who does not, and what type of society we live in now, the year 2014, that would allow this and many other injustices in the world.

As Ai has been quoted time and time again, “If there is no freedom of expression, then the beauty of life is lost. Participation in a society is not an artistic choice, it’s a human need.”

Pepper and Assault

Today, some of the most popular videos on the internet are prank videos; possibly because people seem to find it hilarious to watch people other than themselves get tricked. However, it is a genuine tragedy when these types of videos are used to violate anyone in a sexual matter.

On September 20, popular British YouTube prankster, Sam Pepper, uploaded a video, that has since been deleted, titled “Fake Hand Ass Pinch.” It showed Pepper asking random women for directions. While the women are distracted, Pepper would grab their bottoms and blame the groping on passers-by. Prior to the video getting deleted because of the many reports, it gained over one million views within two days. 

Most of the girls in the video, understandably, reacted with discomfort and surprise. One girl, in particular, is seen backing away while saying, “I don’t like that.” After Pepper’s inappropriate actions, these girls shrugged it off; however, the amount of disgust and anger that appeared on the girls’ faces say that they did not recognize Pepper’s behavior as a joke.

Hours after being uploaded, Pepper’s video garnered a vast amount of negative attention, both from his viewers and the YouTube community. Laci Green, a YouTube star who is known for her videos on sexuality, wrote an open letter on her Tumblr page to Pepper calling out his inappropriate actions.

“People don’t like to be violated and they don’t like to see their friends and girlfriends be violated either,” Green writes. “And yet, history suggests that perhaps you find this humorous.”

Green has also reached out to other YouTubers who have co-signed the letter. Among those YouTubers, Hank Green, Tyler Oakley, and Grace Helbig are a few listed as co-signers.

With over two million subscribers, he reaches out to mainly the young adult population, many of whom were highly offended. His viewers took to the Twitter-sphere to voice out their opinions. The hashtag #ReportSamPepper ended up being one of the trending topics on the social media site. While Pepper may have thought the video to be of absolute hilarity, other users thought the complete opposite. Some have tweeted that Pepper should be reported for sexual activity, while others simply state that the video is downright rude.

According to The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, “one out of every six American women have been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.” This now includes the women that are seen within Pepper’s video.

I think the video is a great example of how sexual violation of women is used frequently, especially in a more casual sense. Even though sexual harassment is not a new topic, the usage of it in videos on YouTube is something that is becoming more common. This is not the first time that the YouTube community has dealt with sexual abuse.

This past March, YouTube musician, Tom Milsom, was alleged to be participating in a sexually abusive relationship with a minor. Milsom, 22, has since admitted his relationship and has been attacked by the public through Twitter.

In light of recent events, however, Pepper uploaded two more videos in response to the first “Fake Ass Hand Pinch” prank. The second video, which has since been deleted by Pepper, was of a woman going up to various men and grabbing their buttocks. As opposed to the women, the men involved reacted in a slightly different way. Instead of being a bit clueless, they instantly knew that the woman was the one who touched them. In addition, they were also more vocal for one man asked, “why did you do that?” Majority of the men also knew that it was the woman who groped them because she did the inappropriate action in a more obvious manner. The woman acted upon her actions when the men were alone, unlike Pepper who waited for the women to be in a large group so that he can blame his wrongdoing on another individual.

The third video titled, “The Reveal,” shows Pepper stating that “all videos were staged and scripted.” He further states that the people involved were well-aware about what was going to occur. Pepper’s three-part series was a part of a “social experiment” so that he can voice out an awareness to all his viewers that sexual harassment and abuse is something that should be addressed.

While these particular videos have gone viral, it is not the first time that Pepper has sexually violated women on-camera.

Over a year ago, Pepper created a video entitled “How to Make Out with Strangers.” Here, the YouTube star pressures young women, on camera, to kiss him. Again, some of the women in the video seem to feel uncomfortable. Each of their faces have a questioning look as well as a look of annoyance. One woman in particular was approached by Pepper despite the fact that her boyfriend was only a couple of feet away.

If Pepper thinks it is acceptable to film and upload these types of videos, he is clearly not in the right state of mind. Being famous on YouTube does not justify ignorant or abusive behavior. If Green’s letter and recent video, “Sam Pepper Exposed,” is not enough to put an end to these casual occurrences of sexual harassment, what else can we do? Until then, Pepper’s videos will still grab more attention, just as he wanted.

As tweeted by popular YouTube comedian, Mamrie Hart, “With a Pepper comes assault. #ReportSamPepper.”



Kanye’s Controversy

Photo under  Creative Commons by Daniele Dalledonne
Photo under Creative Commons by Daniele Dalledonne

“I can’t do this song, I can’t do the rest of this show until everybody stands up.”

For those of you who do not know, Kanye West said this while performing in Sydney, Australia earlier this month. He expected his audience members to stand and show their support of him and the work he has produced. He then went on to say, “Unless you got a handicap pass and you get special parking and shit.” It was only after stopping the show, sending a bodyguard to make sure that the audience members that were still seated were in fact seated in wheelchairs, and stating his frustrations for having to wait, West continued his show.

The conversation has been on social media and in the news about Kanye West being an “idiot” or “making a fool of himself.” While I agree with that, I think there is a much more useful conversation that should come from this classic example of ableism — discrimination against disabled or handicapped people.

The first topic of discussion should be the way our society defines our bodies and the “correct” way to use them. Kanye is guilty of perpetuating the notion that standing is the highest form of showing respect. Emily Smith Beitiks, assistant director of Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disabilities says, “Our culture includes many rituals in which standing is the norm, seen as a way to give the highest praise.” When a judge enters a courtroom, you stand. When the bride walks down the aisle, you stand. When a singer in a play steals the show, you give him or her a standing ovation. The list goes on about how people place assumptions upon others because they have a particular idea of how the body should work. Making those assumptions point to ignorance and a lack of knowledge when it comes to disabilities.

Another blunder of West’s is one that our society as a whole is guilty of: policing the disabled. From handicap placards for cars to filing paperwork, disabled persons are constantly being scrutinized and questioned as to whether they are truly disabled or just trying to reap the benefits. “People with disabilities face stigma and discrimination daily,” says Beitiks, “yet if anything positive seems to come from being disabled, you are then scrutinized to prove your disability, often again and again.” The fact of the matter is that some disabled people are in a wheelchair but are able to stand for a minute at a time, while others are incapable of standing for even a second. There cannot be discrimination based on the severity of a disability; there must be understanding and empathy.

West has been very open about the fact that when he was younger, his teachers believed he had a learning disability. In his song “We Don’t Care” off his album The College Dropout, West raps, “Now tell my momma I belong in that slow class/ Sad enough we on welfare/ They tryna put me on the school bus with the space for the wheelchair.” He has faced discrimination based on his own abilities and yet he still displays ignorance when it comes to this topic. This incident brings to light that there are misunderstandings and misconceptions even among the disabled community, not just from the outsiders looking in. Even people who have experienced ableism in their own life are capable of participating in discrimination against other disabled groups and people.

The conversation about West being a walking contradiction and being the king of sticking his foot in his mouth is entertaining, there is no denying that. I have enjoyed watching clips of interviews and reading all the absurd things he has said. But the situation that occurred in Australia has a much deeper take-away about disabilities and how to educate the public about them. This is the conversation that needs to be happening, this is the issue at hand, this is the problem that can be solved—let’s not target Kanye, but realize that we are all part of a culture that ostracizes and alienates people with disabilities.

Dances On The Wall: Punch Releases Their New LP at 1-2-3-4 Go

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  • 1-2-3-4 Go! Records in Oakland, CA host Punch's release of their new EP.
  • Rad opens the show.
  • Torso's lead singer, Ethan, talks to the crowd before their set.
  • Punch's front woman, Meghan O'Neil, sells merch.
  • The lead singer of Secret People before their set.
  • Laine German, 4, stands in the middle of the crowd wearing his mom's headphones.
  • Punch.
  • Meghan O'Neil of Punch.
  • James Monk rises above the crowd.

Photos and Words by Lorisa Salvatin

There is quietude as the small crowd outside 1-2-3-4 Go Records filter into the store and browse through records, as they wait to pay and enter the backroom for the show going on that night, but this is only the calm before the storm.

Fast drumming, thumping bass, and rhythmic guitar riffs filled the small dimly lit room on September 19. And while the occasional onlooker bobbed their heads with the beat, if not completely headbanging, the crowd seemed quite mellow through the opening sets played by Sacramento’s Rad, the Bay Area’s own, Torso, and Secret People.

The slow build up only crescendoed for as soon as headliners, Punch, hit the stage, causing the crowd to rage with the energy that punk shows are known for. Along with many of their old songs, the San Francisco based punk band played a number of their songs from their newly released record.

Circle pits formed. The crowd pushed to the stage. Bodies flailed. Voices rang with every heart-thumping to-the point song, each with a message needing to be heard. And with the last song ringing through the air among the fist raised high, together the room chanted, “Make it count! You can’t make it last!”

Young artists showcase work at ‘the loin’

Artwork by contributors of the Poor Won Jive collective. (Martin Bustamante/Xpress Magazine)

Doing what you love and making money don’t often fall into the same category. Put into the mix being a college student, and those odds drop even lower. But sometimes being both young and passionate work out to ones advantage.

Take Poor Won Jive, for example. A collaboration of three young artists, who are using their talents, connections and their drive to make a name for themselves in the art world of San Francisco. Initially created as an art magazine, Poor Won Jive became a haven for other young art contributors who had art to hang but no wall to hang it on, so to speak. Brothers Roarke Lacey, 25, and Colin Lacey, 21, and friend Jesse Simmons, 21, are of the three men who created the group. Collectively, they wanted to create a place to expose the artwork of young people, who don’t always have the resources to do so.

“I don’t think any of the artists we’ve featured have been over their twenty’s,” said Colin Lacey, “typically it’s the younger people that don’t have a place to display their work.”

After three magazine issues and more and more contributors giving Poor Won Jive their artwork, the guys decided to showcase these artists in a more effective way. That’s where Jeff Bruton stepped in. Bruton, 41, is the owner of The Loin, an apparel, art and assorted goods store located in the Tenderloin.

“I knew Poor Won Jive as a bunch of young artists that weren’t getting any publicity for the work that they were doing,” said Bruton, “and I wanted to be the one to give exposure to those artists.”

Poor Won Jive’s trio Colin Lacey, Jesse Simmons and Roarke Lacey. (Martin Bustamante/Xpress Magazine)

Bruton thought that his store, which used to be located on Eddy St., was going to close down due to rent increase, but was shocked to find a last minute location on Larkin St. to keep the ship afloat. Bruton thought, what better way to celebrate the grand opening of his new space then with an art gallery gathering young artists and speculators and a keg of beer to welcome the Loin back into the game?

So fittingly titled “Friends,” the Poor Won Jive group art show fulfilled the artist’s expectations of both exposure of art and selling the art, and even set precedence for not only a great art show but also a damn good time.

“Whether all the kids that showed were here to buy art or were just here for the beer, the purpose of bringing people together for art and fun was perfectly executed. And hey, there are some ‘sold’ signs on the pieces, so it seems quite a success to me,” said Lena White, who heard about the art show from a friend.

The gallery showcased over 10 artists, all of whom had their work for sale. On top of the work, the gallery also sold Poor Won Jive’s magazines and the Loin’s apparel and goods.

The artwork was affordable, the music was good and the crowd was drunk. All in all, the art gallery demonstrated what young artists in San Francisco are capable of with a bunch of gutless talent, the right connections and some friends to make it all worthwhile.

Concert Review: Porter Robinson

Lights showered down on hundreds of people filling the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium last Friday, their bodies moving and hands waving to the thumping bass emitted from the stage. On occasion, a colorful LED hula hoop or a person lucky enough to find shoulders to climb on finds their way to the surface of the sea of hands. At its horizon, backlit by colorful pixelated images is the maestro of this energy pulsing through the venue: Porter Robinson.
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  • Lemaitre opens up for Porter Robinson
  • Lemaitre opens up for Porter Robinson
  • Bay Area native, Charlie Yin, a.k.a. Giraffage warms of up the crowd with his low-fi, downtempo dj set at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.
  • Giraffage closing off his set.
  • Porter Robinson opens up his set with "Sad Machine".
  • The crowd throw their hands in the air as confetti drops from ceiling.
  • More confetti showers over the crowd with the end of Porter Robinson's last song.
The night opens with electronic duo touring from Oslo, Lemaitre, whose vocally driven mix of a little funk and a hint of Indie warms up the crowd. While a follow up by Bay Area native, Giraffage, brings the vibes down, with his low-fi, down-tempo DJ set, playing a number of his originals and handful of remixes, including “Money” and a drop filled rendition of R. Kelly’s “Remix to Ignition.”
But the crowd clearly came for Porter Robinson, filing into the venue as the lights dim, marking the headliner’s set. Lit only by the translusent table at the center of the stage, he presses the key on his midi, filling the room with a light hum, before exploding into “Sad Machine.” The crow dances and sings along to “Lionhearted,” other remixes Robinson plays, and his originals as well, including “Flicker” and “Sea of Voices.”
 “This is the first time playing in front of a crowd this big,” Robinson says to the crowd, noting that he has played a number of larger electronic music festivals, but this is the first time he’s gotten to sing in front of his own crowd this large.

An Intro to the Depot

Being a student here for more than a few years now, you think I would know the ins-and-outs of the campus pretty well; apparently, that is not really the case. Before this semester, I had never been to the Depot. I had heard about it from time to time, but never even knew where it was.

Though it is right under our noses, many students at SF State might not know that our school has its very own venue. That venue is called the Depot, and it hosts everything from Open Mic, comedy, and board game nights, to performances by both student and outside musicians.

Now that you know that there is this venue on campus, you might be wondering where it is. The Depot is housed on the floor below the ground level of the Cesar Chavez Student Center. If you know where the Pub and Tuk Tuk Thai are, it is right next to that.

“All freshman year I went to the shows with all my friends and we had a really good time, so I wanted to get involved,” says Lizzy Schliessmann, manager of the Depot. “I’ve been here for three years and it is the best decision I’ve made in college I think so far.”

The Depot holds events every weekday. Last week Wednesday, they had karaoke from 12 p.m. until 2 p.m. for those wishing to sing their hearts out during lunch time, and on Friday, they had “quality TV time” between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m., where Bob’s Burgers was enjoyed by onlookers. Slam poetry is also something that the venue becomes an outlet for. S.P.E.A.K., a student slam poetry club, puts on twice a month at the Depot.

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And in case you were wondering, all activities and performances at the Depot are absolutely free.
“I think it’s awesome because it gives students here an opportunity here to actually perform as opposed to just seeing random artists,” says Lucas Benacerraf, a business major who is in the process of shifting to a BECA major.

When there aren’t events happening at the Depot, the space is filled with tables and chairs populated by students either studying or unwinding with friends over a drink or two.

“I’ve really enjoyed it so far,” says Katrina Rickman. “The booze keeps bringing me back.”
If you or someone you know would like to perform or get involved with the Depot, an e-mail to should do the trick.

“There’s a little place for anyone creative at the Depot, so if we could hook you up with that, we would be delighted,” says Schliessmann.