Category Archives: Culture

Gentrification: An Installation for Awareness and Call to Action

Brochures from the exhibition, Gentrification, with information on the project.  (Photo by Derek Macario/Xpress Magazine)
Brochures from the exhibition, Gentrification, with information on the project. (Photo by Derek Macario/Xpress Magazine)

Being a native San Francisco working class student myself, gentrification has been an ongoing condition for life in the city. From elementary and middle school in the Excelsior, high school in the Sunset, working in the Tenderloin and Western Addition, and living with my parents in the Bayview, I have seen all kinds of changes in the city for the past 20 years.

However, even with my own experiences, there are many histories held from those of previous generations living in San Francisco. And there are many individuals and organizations that dedicate themselves to protect and preserve that history.

Eviction in San Francisco are displayed at The Art Gallery. (Photo by Derek Macario/Xpress Magazine)
Eviction in San Francisco are displayed at The Art Gallery. (Photo by Derek Macario/Xpress Magazine)

The Human Rights Commission’s Equity Advisory Committee and The Art Gallery have worked together to exhibit the complex issues on housing in San Francisco. The exhibit is located at SF State’s Ceaser Chavez Student Center, and today is the last day to see the exhibit, which is open until 6pm.

The exhibition presents the definition of gentrification as, “a general term for the arrival of wealthier people in an existing urban district, a related increase in rents and property value, and changes in the district’s character and culture.”

Portraits of San Francisco residents and their thoughts on gentrification. (Photo by Derek Macario/Xpress Magazine)
Portraits of San Francisco residents and their thoughts on gentrification. (Photo by Derek Macario/Xpress Magazine)

With ceiling-high portraits of people from San Francisco, their pictures are presented with personal perspectives of what living in San Francisco means today, and the exhaustive housing conditions they continually face. Between evictions, sky-high rent, unfair housing situations, and displacement, San Francisco has been facing a housing crisis, which has drastically affected the low-to-middle-income residents that have been living in the city for decades.

Portrait of a San Francisco resident and her thoughts on housing situations. (Photo by Derek Macario/Xpress Magazine)
Portrait of a San Francisco resident and her thoughts on housing situations. (Photo by Derek Macario/Xpress Magazine)

This exhibition gives space for the voices of residents facing displacement, as well as provide them a platform to share their experiences of what they’ve seen happen to others.

Portrait of a San Francisco resident and her frustration with the housing situation. (Photo by Derek Macario/Xpress Magazine)
Portrait of a San Francisco resident and her frustration with the housing situation. (Photo by Derek Macario/Xpress Magazine)

During the reception event of the exhibition, Paul Day from the Equity Advisory Committee, said that part of the affordable housing issue is “humanizing the issue.”

See the video made by ASI of the reception, here.

After seeing the exhibit, I left thinking about how gentrification has affected  a much larger number of people and families than I previously figured. And seeing the stories of these people in the gallery, I now put the faces and personalities to the problem San Francisco residents are facing.

 

 

 

Social Sketch: A Creative Gathering for Community

Image courtesy of Courtney Cerruti.
Image courtesy of Courtney Cerruti.

Creative gatherings take shape in many different forms, from art exhibitions, workshops, public lectures and readings and so on. For San Francisco-based artists Courtney Cerruti and Mike McConnell they organize Social Sketch, where they invite people to come together, draw, as well as eat and drink. Their intension is to create a sense of community through these art gatherings in San Francisco, the Bay Area, and beyond.

I went to my first social sketch last November at Thee Parkside, by myself. I’ve known Courtney from mutual art friends, so I knew I’d know at least one person there. But when I got there I sat with other people and made friends and exchanged drawings and drank. I had a good time.

Then, last month I went to the Social Sketch at MUA in Oakland, again by myself. And again made new friends, who had also gone alone. Once again, had a great time and encourage everyone to check it out sometime.

Participants at Social Sketch last year. Image courtesy of Courtney Cerruti.
Participants at Social Sketch last year. Image courtesy of Courtney Cerruti.

Heads up, there is a Social Sketch taking place at workshop space and art collective, The Secret Alley (180 Capp St.), tonight from 7-10pm. BYOB (Bring your own booze, burrito, and sketching supplies).

 

Following January’s Social Sketch at MUA in Oakland I had a chance to ask Courtney and Mike about their experience with Social Sketch so far. I’ll be referring to myself, Derek, as D, Courtney, as C, and Mike, as M.


Derek: Can you describe what social sketch is?

Cournety: Social Sketch is a casual environment where creatives and aspiring creatives can meet, sketch, collaborate and chat.

Michael: It is also is a way for all of us who are connected through means of social media to meet in person and connect on a more personal level.

 

D: When did you first being thinking and planning of social sketch (in sf)? How did you vision it? Did you feel events like this were lacking?

C: Social Sketch started because Mike and I would get together and paint. These nights were pure experimentation with no rules. We would pass paintings back and forth and wind up with some really fun and inspired results. We both posted work from the evening on Instagram under the hashtag #ccrabbit. We had an amazing response to the work, and people commented that they would love to join, so we thought why not open it to a larger audience.

M: We wanted it to be a way for people to connect face to face. Unlike other live drawing events that often focus on artists working by themselves on their own work in front of the public, we wanted to encourage people to collaborate on pieces together. In the past I’ve found collaborating as a way to experiment and break out of the norms if my normal art practice.

Image courtesy of Courtney Cerruti.
Image courtesy of Courtney Cerruti.

 

D: Social Sketch reminds me of other art gatherings like Sketch Tuesday at 111 Minna, except for Social Sketch its free, open to the public, and anyone can participate, not just watch other people draw. why was that important in deciding what Social Sketch is?

C: The first social sketch was free to attend, but invite only. Mike and invited a large group of friends, colleagues and followers just to see how it would work and how people would respond… if they would even come. We held the firstsocial sketch at El Rio which has an large open outdoor space as well as alcohol. We had about 20 people attend and everyone had fun, created work and expressed an interest in coming to them regularly.

M: I feel like the community aspect of social sketch is important. You didn’t have to define yourself as an artist to attend and contribute. At the el rio event some people just hung out and told stories or shared what we were doing on their Instagram feeds which helped give the event momentum.

 

D: How have you gone about organizing with Michael, and working with your hosting venues?

C: Mike and I work really well together. Being artists, we tend to work down to the wire and keep it fairly casual, so the venue changes monthly and we contact bars and cafes we like and we think have the right space to accommodate a collaborative event like sketching.  We take it on a case by case basis and event has grown organically.

M: We tend to both pool from our social networks. We work really well together, most the organizing happens in rapid texts, while having a #ccrabbit painting session or a walk around the city.

 

D: What have been some challenges with putting on the social sketch, and spreading the word?

C: So far, we’ve had an amazing response. Every time we hold a social sketch we each get several inquiries about how people can start one in their area. We’re so excited that we have two new chapters of SS starting in Washington and Colorado and we have plans to help organize more in California.

M: The main challenges have been securing a venue. You have to work around the busy nights at bars and find places with adequate seating and lighting.

 

D: Why are you using places like bars and restaurants for Social Sketch, instead of another kind of art space? What are your arrangements with the places where social sketch happens, are you paying them, or something else?

C: We don’t pay the venues where we hold Social Sketch but we hold sketches on weekdays and there are usually 20-40 ppl who drink and eat while drawing. I think the addition of food and drinks help create a casual and communal feel.

M: Bars are also open to the public. So on their slow nights they are happy to host and it makes it casual. We don’t have to guarantee certain numbers or pay a fee. Allowing SS to remain a free event.

Image courtesy of Courtney Cerruti.
Image courtesy of Courtney Cerruti.

D: There is also a collaborative component at social sketch, where people can traded and work on drawings together. Why is collaboration important for Social Sketch?

C: We encourage people to collaborate and trade work but its not mandatory. People can also come to social sketch and work in their own sketchbook. Its incredible how much work is actually created and people are always shy about taking pieces home. We have a huge pile of work left over that we bring to the next SS to circulate.

M: I think collaboration is important to challenge your ways of art making. The casual aspect allows you to not feel every piece has to be so precious. It’s very freeing in that way.

D: Part of Social Sketch is geared toward an emphasis in community, can you tell me more about that. What community/communities are you trying to bring together and how do you feel social sketch works to do this? An art community? friends and friends of friends?

C: Although it doesn’t seem like it all the time, the art community of San Francisco is really small. Sometimes, however, its easy to stay in your own small group of makers and friends. Because I live in the East Bay but work in SF I have artist friends on both sides of the Bay. I also have friends who are fine artists, friends who are crafters, and friends who are just starting to explore art making. Bringing these people together can create bigger and broader communities and the work we create together in collaboration the results are always unexpected. Above all though, we want these nights to be FUN.

M: I think it helps break down the barriers between artists and makers. We all have egos I suppose and it’s nice just to be part if a creative collective. I also love Oakland and like getting my sf people over the bridge. I was part of Oakland live drawing for years and was one of the only sf people who would commute over. It was amazing meeting all these other talented and interesting people.

For the latest news from Social Sketch and see when the next events are, visit Social Sketch on Facebook.

Exploring the Creative Arts Building

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Exploring different departments on your university campus can lead to some interesting encounters and some fun videos. We were lucky enough to have Miguel Verdugo and David Bookbinder let us record them performing Grand Duo Concertant Op. 48.

Filmed, produced, and edited by Jannelle Garcia, Jayda McClendon, and Olympia Zampathas.

Pandit Chitresh Das dies at 70

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Though Pandit Chitresh Das may not be your everyday household name, his name has a worldwide reach. Pt. Das dedicated his entire life to his artform, and legacy, the North Indian Traditional dance style of Kathak. Kathak is one of the six classical dances of India, and the only North Indian style. It is derived from the word “katha” which means to tell a story and is also known as one of the most dynamic theater arts in the world. A solo Kathak dance can last several hours. The dancer, who wears, ghungroos, or five pounds of bells strung around their ankles, responds to the instruments playing during the Kathak with a matching rhythm.

Pt. Das passed away on Sunday, January 4th 2015, from acute aortic dissection at the age of 70. He is survived by his wife, Celine, and his two daughters, Shivaranjani, three and a half, and Saadhvi, one and a half, and his many disciples around the globe. His influence is widespread, with more than 47,000 likes on his dance company’s Facebook page alone.

A Facebook post by Pandit Chitresh Das' wife, Celine Schein, the day her husband passed away.
A Facebook post by Pandit Chitresh Das’ wife, Celine Schein, the day her husband passed away.

His death came as a shock to everyone surrounding him, and many remember the Kathak master as a “legend” and someone truly dedicated to his passion. Here is a photo posted on the dance company’s Facebook page just three days prior.

Pt. Das was born and raised in Calcutta, India, grew up a child prodigy, and a disciple of the great Kathak guru, Pandit Ram Narayan Misra.

Das at age nine in traditional Muslim costume.  Photo credit: Chitresh Das Dance Company and Chhandam School of Dance
Das at age nine in traditional Muslim costume. Photo credit: Chitresh Das Dance Company and Chhandam School of Kathak
Pandit Das at age nine performing with the  great tabla master Pandit Samta Prasad.  Seated in front is Chitreshji’s Guru,  Pandit Ram Narayan Misra. Photo by Chitresh Das Dance Company and Chhandom School of Kathak.
Pandit Das at age nine performing with the
great tabla master Pandit Samta Prasad.
Seated in front is Chitreshji’s Guru,
Pandit Ram Narayan Misra. Photo by Chitresh Das Dance Company and Chhandom School of Kathak.

In 1970, Pt. Das moved to the United States on fellowship. He continued to perform in a multitude of performances in the States and India. By 1980, he founded the Chitresh Das Dance Company and Chhandam School of Kathak. Though the company is based in San Francisco, it is now known as one of the world’s foremost Indian classical dance companies and now has branches in Boston, Toronto, and India.

Pandit Das on the cover of the Junior Statesman. The story highlighted Pandit Das' performance for Uday Shankarji and told of his preparing to come to the U.S. Photo by Chitresh Das Dance Company and Chhandom School of Kathak.
Pandit Das on the cover of the Junior Statesman. The story highlighted Pandit Das’ performance for Uday Shankarji and told of his preparing to come to the U.S. Photo by Chitresh Das Dance Company and Chhandom School of Kathak.

The Chitresh Das Dance Company’s mission is to produce exemplary traditional, innovative, and collaborative works of North Indian classical Kathak dance, increase awareness of Kathak dance, and train future generations and build local, national, and international community support for the Kathak tradition.

In 2010, Upaj: Improvise, a documentary produced by lifelong disciple of his, Antara Bhardwaj, tells the story of how Pandit Chitresh Das and, grammy winning tap-dancer, Jason Samuel Smith, met and began collaborating to create their world-touring performance, India Jazz Suites.

Pt. Das said he wanted to dance with Jason Samuel Smith on his 70th birthday in November and he did. That was his last public performance.

“Life and death are the only reality. You come alone, you go alone. Only thing to do in between is practice and do whatever you do with love.” – Pt. Chitresh Das

To learn more about Kathak, check out the Chitresh Das Dance Company’s website. To see more videos of Chitresh Das, click here.

I don’t think I’m mistaken when I say that it was Pt. Das’ goal to have the legacy of Kathak to be passed on for many generations to come has been a success; he’s touched the lives of so many, his goal was not in vain. May the Kathak guru rest in peace. He will be greatly missed.

A memorial service for the Kathak master will be held on Friday, January 9th at Mount Tamalpais Mortuary and Cemetery (2500 5th Avenue, San Rafael CA 94901). The Chitresh Das Dance Company and Chhandam School of Kathak website asks attendees to leave time for parking.

Schedule:

9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.: Viewing – Chapel

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.: Service (outdoors)

The Interview – a breakdown of the shakedown

So, assuming that you’re not totally disconnected from the media, you’ve probably heard that a certain movie that was supposed to premiere on Christmas Day is not going to be shown in theaters because of terrorist threats – and if you haven’t heard the news, that sentence might sound a little crazy to you.

And, trust me, you’re not alone on that one. It is something that you’d assume was in the plot of some sort of action filled thriller or off-beat romantic comedy, but nope – this is real life.

The movie sparking this wild round of controversy and threats is the comedy “The Interview,” starring James Franco and Seth Rogen. Rogen was also a co-writer and director of the comedy. The plot focuses on a talk show host and a producer of a television show who manage to schedule an interview with North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un, and are then recruited by the CIA to assassinate him.

So, how’d we go from a comedy on a topic that’s not completely foreign to the big screens, assassination of a dictator, real or fictional, (Team America, anyone?) to terrorist threats and cancellation of said movie?

Hopefully, this timeline helps break down some of the key events that have happened so far.

June 24th 2014 – North Korea’s Central News Agency, the only media organization allowed in the country, condemned the film and promised “merciless” retaliation if the film was released. A North Korea spokesman was cited by the state KCNA news agency as saying: “Making and releasing a movie on a plot to hurt our top-level leadership is the most blatant act of terrorism and war and will absolutely not be tolerated,” according to BBC.

November 24th – the first in a series of Sony hacks happens. Social security numbers, company passwords, and upcoming movies are all released by the hackers of a group who call themselves the GoP or the Guardians of Peace. Employees and their families are threatened through emails sent by the hackers.

December 17th – eight days before the planned-premiere of the film, Sony, the company producing “The Interview,” is hacked again. This time, emails cite 9/11 type attacks of theaters that show the film.

December 18th – After the four main theater chains in the nation make statements refusing to show the film, Sony cancels the Christmas Day premiere.

December 19th – The FBI states that they have enough information to confirm that North Korea was behind the threats. “For example, there were similarities in specific lines of code, encryption algorithms, data deletion methods, and compromised networks,” the FBI, according to NPR.

President Obama disagrees with Sony’s decision to cancel its December 25th release, calling it a mistake and stating that they should have talked with him first. “We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States,” the president said in his year-end news conference.

Sony stands by their call saying that they wouldn’t have pulled the film if so many theaters hadn’t refused to show it and that they fully support the First Amendment. They have been pulling advertisements and trailers for it off of YouTube and other sites, but state that their intention is to still have it distributed.

Obama discusses adding North Korea back to the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism, which it was removed from in 2008 by the Bush administration during nuclear negotiations.

December 22ndThe Verge reports that the Internet thinks that “The Interview” is the perfect movie. It has been rated 9.9/10 stars on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) with over 22,000 reviews.

North Korea refers to the hack as a “righteous deed” but claims not to be responsible for it.

And that is all the news so far.

Sony hasn’t announced a date for the release or platform it will be distributed on yet, but has stated it is their intention to get the film out there. If the world will actually ever see it, who knows.

A Fashion Legend Passes Away

The Oscar de la Renta website remembers the iconic fashion designer.
The Oscar de la Renta website remembers the iconic fashion designer.

Influential fashion icon and world-renowned designer Oscar de la Renta died at the age of 82 on Monday, October 20th in Kent, Connecticut, where he and his wife, Annette, resided. The Dominican designer has been at the forefront of the fashion industry for the past five decades – having dressed first ladies from Jacqueline Kennedy to Michelle Obama.

The immediate cause of death has still not been announced but De la Renta was diagnosed with cancer in 2006, though last year told the media that he was “totally clean” of the disease.

The sad news has created an outpour of tributes for the designer who had created friendships with both political and fashion professionals like former First Lady Laura Bush and Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour.

“He never once complained about his illness, always positive, always looking forward. His last words to me were I love you, and I said I love you back,” Anna Wintour writes on Vogue.com.

“We will always remember him as the man who made women look and feel beautiful,” former first lady Laura Bush said to CNN on Monday evening.

The award-winning designer began his passion for fashion and design at the Academy of San Fernando in Madrid, Spain. The then 17-year-old designer’s sketches were first noticed by the wife of the U.S. Ambassador to Spain, who then requested a dress to be made for her daughter’s debutante ball. The pictures of his design-come-to-life for the ball were sent to Life magazine and, from there, De la Renta’s career emerged.

Known for his ready-to-wear designs, De la Renta made the move to the Big Apple after getting a coveted spot to work with Elizabeth Arden. From there, the designer went on to be the first Dominican to become the creative director for a French fashion house at Balmain.

Even with his passing, the Santo Domingo native’s legacy will live on with his fashion house, which will debuting their first collection in New York in February.

One of De la Renta’s most recent and highly-acclaimed designs was for human rights lawyer Amal Alammudin and Hollywood’s once most-eligible bachelor, George Clooney’s wedding in Venice, Italy last month.

The most recent accomplishment before the designers passing took place at the Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards in 2013, where former first lady and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented De la Renta with the Founder’s Award aka the “Oscar” of the fashion world.

Along with his legacy, the designer leaves behind his wife, Annette de la Renta, an adopted son, Moises, and two step-children, Alex and Eliza Bolen, who currently run his fashion house.

 

 

 

Moving away from home experiences: SF State Edition

 Creative Commons photo by DeSalesUniversity

If you Google “moving away from home” the first few hundred search results will include the words “why you should move away” or “10 reasons to move away from home,” but none of these include the reasons why nearly 55 percent of young adults have difficulties making the transition from their hometown “bubble” to the unknown realms of the college campus.

According to a study done at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2011, only 14 percent of college students attend college five-hundred or more miles away. Some of the factors that go into these statistics correlate with the amount of money it costs to live further away from home; families tend to spend 5 percent less on college expenses when their child commutes from home.

Other factors are less financial and more psychological; one study done by a clinical psychologist at the University of Alabama showed that one out of ten college students have such bad anxiety and symptoms of depression when they move away from home that they seek therapy.

For some students, seeking therapy isn’t enough. “About the first week of move in, before the school semester had even started, a first-time freshmen resident was experiencing major anxiety about being at college and in a dorm environment and moved back home,” said SF State student and resident assistant Kandice Niziurski.

The twenty-one-year-old also felt symptoms of mental distress come within the second and third month of being away from home. “Once I got here, the first month was kind of a haze, but the second month it began settling in that I was really on my own and I had my first real encounter with what depression is.”

In the journal of American Academy of Pediatrics, homesickness is defined as “distress and functional impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from home and attachment objects such as parents.”

For eighteen-year-old Kylie Johnson, the move from Temecula to San Francisco didn’t only detach her from the comfort of her parents, but from the once inseparable bound between her twin sister and her.

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Photo under Creative Commons by DeSalesUniversity

Even with the downsides of moving hundreds of miles away from home, a large majority of college students found the silver lining in this transition point of their lives.

For Niziurski, it was the engagement of extracurricular activities and a workout schedule that helped her bounce back and create a stable and healthy lifestyle for herself in the Fog City.

“If I had to do it again, I would do it in a heartbeat because I always wanted to move away from home and this gave me the opportunity to do that and learn about myself through the transition,” says Niziruski.

For other students, moving away from home was their escape. “I needed to get away from the L.A. scene back home and I love how people here are much more open-minded,” says English literature major Audry Struthers.

Another key factor in students flying the coop is the yearning to become independent. “I was way too dependent on my parents and family back in Southern California, so I needed to escape that and learn what it’s really like to be on my own,” says SF State student Rebecca Vasquez.

Some of those responsibilities for students include learning to cook, clean, and take care of themselves for the first time in their life.

“One of the negatives of this experience has been having to do everything on my own and balancing school work, but it has been a good life lesson so far,” says Struthers.

For a majority of students, with the new zip code comes a new, fresh identity, with no strings attached. “I have really been put out of my comfort zone – I was really shy and introverted back home and I feel like in San Francisco I can explore my true self and blossom into a more outgoing person,” says Vasquez.

A Culture of Violence is Alive and Well in the NFL

Ray Rice during the  Baltimore Ravens training camp. Creative Commons photo by Keith Allison
Ray Rice during the Baltimore Ravens training camp. Photo under Creative Commons by Keith Allison

Janay Rice was a victim of domestic violence. As individuals who have never had to walk in the shoes of a victim of abuse, we do not know how to accept that she could endure such treatment, even once, and stay. But as the wave of stories have flooded the Internet with the hashtag #WhyIStayed, it has become more clear why women and men from every walk of life do stay.

Janay Rice does not owe us anything. Why she made the choice to follow through with marrying Ray Rice, to openly place blame on herself for the attack, and to defend him now, no one knows but her. What we do know is that there is clear evidence of what Ray Rice did: he spit in her face, knocked her down to the ground, and dragged her on the floor. Janay does not owe us anything, but the NFL owes it to women and society as a whole to allow no tolerance to abuse.

This week , the Baltimore Ravens released Ray Rice from the team, and the NFL suspended him from the league. They should have done this seven months ago when the first video documenting the abuse  was released. Now, these decisions have caused more confusion than clarity.

The first video, leaked by TMZ in February, shows the Baltimore Ravens running back drop his then-fianceé’s lifeless body to the ground; the elevator doors hitting against her motionless legs, Rice pushes at her body. The second video, leaked on Monday, September 8th, reveals the full extent of the violence that took place.  For the NFL to not exhaust all of its resources to confirm exactly what happened in that elevator was disregard to all victims of abuse.

Just two years ago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell promised to make changes to the league’s policies dealing with domestic violence after a chain of such incidents arose. After acknowledging from the original evidence that the twenty-seven-year-old committed domestic violence, he concluded on July twenty-fourth that a fair punishment was a two-game suspension. The moment the NFL made that decision, they confirmed every accusation that they do not give a shit about women or victims of abuse.

All that this recent video did was show everyone, in detail, what they already knew. Goodell, Ravens coach John Harbaugh, and owner Steve Bisciotti claim that further repercussions were not made because no one in the organization had seen this video before it went viral – this is unacceptable.

Rice was charged with third-degree aggravated assault and indicted by a grand jury. Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain said in a statement that his office approved Rice’s request for New Jersey’s pretrial intervention program, allowing him to avoid any jailtime. This led to the NFL’s “halt of fact-finding,” according to Goodell. The video was out there, TMZ got their hands on it, and if no one affiliated with the Ravens, Goodell, or the NFL had seen the video, they chose not to.

The Ravens made an immediate decision to release Rice after seeing the entire surveillance footage, and the NFL followed by suspending him indefinitely. Goodell stated the same day that it is possible that Rice could someday return to the NFL.

The fact of the matter is that twenty-one of the thirty-two NFL teams employed a player with a domestic or sexual violence charge on their record last year, according to statistics from U-T San Diego. Ray McDonald, defensive tackle for the San Francisco 49ers, was arrested for alleged domestic violence just two weeks ago and played during the team’s first game of the season on Sunday.

Regardless if Rice ends up being suspended permanently, this will not change the history or future of domestic violence in the NFL. The league instated its new Personal Conduct Policy last week, before the new evidence of Rice was revealed. Under the new penalties, domestic violence or sexual assault violations will merit a six-game suspension for a first-time offense and an indefinite suspension of at least one year for a second offense.

This is bullshit, and it has got to change. Violence is not justified by paying fines or sitting on the sidelines. Physical abuse is serious and real and it needs to be treated that way. The NFL is a massive and influential organization and until they drastically change their policies surrounding such conduct, they are fully condoning domestic violence.

Concert Review: Ed Sheeran

  • Ed Sheeran performed Tuesday August 26 at the SAP Center in San Jose. Brenna Cruz, Photographer/ Special to XPress
  • Rudimental’s trumpet player, Mark Crown, hypes up the crowd near the end of their performance. Brenna Cruz, Photographer/ Special to XPress
  • Ed Sheeran explaining the story behind one of his songs. Brenna Cruz, Photographer/ Special to XPress

Written by Olympia Zampathas

Photos by Brenna Cruz

 

For a Tuesday evening concert and over an hour and a half before the opening act is scheduled to begin, lines on multiple floors wrapping around the SAP Center arena in San Jose are jam-packed with excited fans, mothers, and boyfriends waiting to be let inside to see the British musician that is Ed Sheeran.

Sheeran, whose new album “X” has been topping the charts in the United Kingdom and United States, and who won a VMA for Best Male Video for his song “Sing” last week, played to thousands Tuesday, August 26. Inside, the excited crowded were funneled into various sections of the performance center as they awaited the opening act, Rudimental.

While not a big name in the United States, the band brings the energy and enthusiasm characteristic of major rockstars with high fives and grooving to their own music. The band, who won both the Brit Award and Mobo Award for best album in 2013, features two lead vocalists, a trumpet player, killer drummer, and guitar player, with unique and energetic style that flavored their set.

The band exits the stage with an emotional sing-a-long, engaging band and audience alike and paving the way for the main act. As a silhouette emerges from the back center stage, the crowd explodes into a screaming fest and my eardrums are shot.

Despite the crowd flocking to see him, and his recent VMA win, Sheeran is nothing but humble, praising his opening act and describing it as an honor to follow them.

As his performance begins, the crowd surges forward to pack the standing room-only portion of the arena.

Save for the guitar hung on his shoulder, a microphone and Looper pedal front and center, Ed stands alone on the stage. He starts out with an upbeat melody on his guitar and lets the instrument fall to his side, but the sound continues from the Looper. He begins to belt out “I’m a Mess” off of his most recent album, “X,” the crowd echoing him, word for word.

His dynamic performance a mix of live-recorded vocals and guitar, rapping, bits of beat-boxing, taking pictures of the audience with his phone and a bulky, cartoon-esque Polaroid-like camera he purchased in Japan, and the fast paced singing he is known for continues for the next hour and a half. The musician/songwriter plays “I See Fire,” featured in “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” as fiery visuals are shown behind him before he abruptly exits the stage at the end of his set.

Desperate for more, fans chant, scream, and clap until he reappears on the stage for a 15-minute rendition of “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You.” He performs a four-song long encore, ending with a radio-favorite, “Sing.” He leaves audience members with the message to never stop singing, wherever they are, wherever they go. As people filter out of the arena, a wave of appreciation for the talent I witnessed comes over me and I head to the car completely content, happy, and a little hoarse.

Tune In, Go Native

Written by Chantel Genest
Photos and video by Tony Santos

2It is seven thirty at night and as students make their way home and the campus slowly calms, the Creative Arts building is in the midst of an artistic collaboration that will bring the college grounds back to life. Local musicians are arriving in the radio
lounge, a crew of audio and video producers are setting up a makeshift stage, and in just
a couple of hours the hosts of Native SF will bring an all-out musical roar to KSFS
listeners.

SF State students Ryan McGeary, Phil Di Leo, and Garrett Peters co-host a program on the university’s KSFS radio station every Tuesday from nine to eleven. The trio brings an innovative show with live performance to listeners each week. With the
help of a crew and the skills these student producers have, fans get not only live radio
entertainment from the station but also video content on YouTube to revel in the local
music whenever they want.

This student-ran radio program is part of SF States Broadcast and Electronic
Communication Arts (BECA) department. The department provides real life skills and
experience to radio and television students each semester. Students get substantial
training and education in areas including TV and radio broadcast, video production,
audio production, sound art, aesthetics, multimedia, writing for media, legal issues in
media, and media management.
1“Though this building is old the resources for students here are incredible,” says
Gina Baleria, SF State online media and radio lecturer. “The full-fledge TV shows and
radio station are amazing. The perfect storm of opportunity is right here.”

The Creative Arts building houses one of Northern California’s biggest
production facilities for radio, television, and multimedia. With three color television
studios, a music-recording studio, radio station, video and audio post-production labs,
and an online lab, everything needed for students to practice and perfect their art form is readily available.

With so much going on in just one building, it seems crazy that many people on
campus do not know about BECA. Inspired and motivated students populate all of
department’s emphases and one of the biggest downfalls is a student coming to SF State
and not being aware that this program exists and missing out on a number of invaluable
classes.

“At the end of each semester I get students in my office lamenting about
graduating,” says Jeff Jacoby, the department’s radio director and advisor. “Not because
they are not happy to be graduating, but because they were not able to take all of the
BECA classes that they wanted to.”

Jacoby came to SF State and took over the KSFS radio station in 2006. While he
entered into a very well known department that was operating on all cylinders and had a
community of generally very happy students, he had some major goals he wanted to fulfill.

“I wanted to change the culture of KSFS so that the radio station became student
property,” says Jacoby. “It became their radio station—not mine, not the department’s,
and not SF State’s. That is how you get students to connect and engage with their
education, by giving them control.”

Each semester Jacoby starts his advanced KSFS radio class by informing his students that he has three sound studios and that everything they do in those studios will
be broadcasted over the web and played for an audience. He asks them one question: I
am going to hand you the keys to this facility, what are you going to do with it?

“I want them to push the envelope of what radio is and what radio can be,” says
Jacoby. “Radio is changing so dramatically and its definition needs rewriting.”

Ryan McGeary is one radio student who took Jacoby’s words to heart. As the
original creator of Native SF, McGeary wanted to expand his show and make it
something new and exciting and challenging. He was ready and willing to invest himself
and all of his time into making it something great.

“It started off as a playlist program because that was the obvious choice,
everyone was doing that,” says McGeary. “But I have been playing in the Bay Area
music scene for eight years or so and it made sense to use those connections to make my
show more interesting.”

Into his first semester producing Native SF, McGeary decided to bring in bands
during his program to play live in the studio. As fate would have it, the first band he
booked included Phil Di Leo. After that performance, Di Leo jumped on the chance to be
a part of the program and has played a major role in it ever since.

“I liked what he was doing and wanted to help out any way that I could and that
turned into what we have today,” says Di Leo.

3With two sets of connections and two ideas of what great music is, the program
has been able to see a range of different bands and genres. Along with seeking out bands
to book, McGeary has been reached out to many times when musicians hear about their
show and want to be on. There is no limitation on the talent that comes in as long as the
team believes they are local and have quality music they are more than excited to have
them.

“No one is big or small, it is all about the music and exposing new music to
people,” says McGeary. “Although, we do like to think really, really big and not limit
ourselves to any level of fame either.”

The third member of the group, Garrett Peters, is the production manager of the
entire KSFS station and co-hosts an additional radio show called Blare It! on Saturdays
from noon to two with Danny Molina. He and Di Leo are also in a band called Edward’s
Crossing together. After initially assisting McGeary as part of his managerial roles,
Peters liked the direction the show seemed to be heading and decided he wanted a take
on a permanent role with Native SF. McGeary and Di Leo were more than welcoming.

“We are a good team, we all can visualize similar images in each other’s head and
understand what we are talking about,” says Di Leo. “We are all open to new things and
are all very receptive to each others ideas.”

The team shows up hours early each Tuesday evening to set up for the broadcast.
Microphones and cords are placed all around the room, having to be checked and double-
checked and triple-checked. Cameras are set up; lighting is arranged around the lounge.

When the band shows up they brief them, do a sound check, audio and video record a
five to six song set while live on the radio, and have to clean all the work up in thirty to forty five minutes to be out of the Creative Arts building by eleven. After that, all of the separate elements from production are assembled; at least three songs for each of the live bands are edited and put up on YouTube.

“In our experience the live radio is not the most lucrative part of it,” says
McGeary. “We try to put content out in multiple platforms and have multimedia out
there, not just audio.”

The co-hosts have melded into a driven, creative, and collaborative unit and it
shows both on air and off. In between hours of setting up a play space, grueling over
perfect sound and audio checks and the never-ending editing of mass content, these
friends give off a constant circle of comradery and good-natured shit talking.

As all three members share similar backgrounds being musicians themselves, they
have an understanding of what bands want and expect and need to perform well. When
the bands come in, keeping a good vibe and staying professional with what they are
doing makes the program go smoothly.

“Native SF is a three-man production team that strives to bring unheard and enjoyable music to people in a presentable way that is both beneficial to be viewed in the
audience perspective and the bands perspective,” says Di Leo. “We are a middle-man for
bands that are trying to speak to their fans.”

As much as these guys do to run the show, they definitely give credit to the other
students who come out and help each week. There are so many things that need to be
done and just three people couldn’t possibly do it without recruiting help from outside
majors like photojournalism and cinema. A core group of about six other SF State
students show up with cameras and lights and whatever is needed.

“It has been rewarding to see those people come out of the woodworks become
the people that we rely on every week,” says McGeary.

When it comes down to it, Native SF is doing exactly what it is meant to. As their
advisor Jacoby discusses, you have to push the boundaries, give a definition to radio, and own your product while doing it.

“Phil and Garrett and Ryan, what they are doing, what Native SF is doing on
radio, is classic BECA student behavior,” says Jacoby. “That is exactly what I want
students to be doing.”

KSFS has over sixty scheduled programs playing one-hour to two-hour sessions
throughout the week between eight in the morning and eleven at night on ksfsmedia.net,
which is also run by BECA students. No shows are exactly the same, and the free form
radio structure of the station allows for a range of topics from Travis Schilling’s
Countdown to Coachella to Rocky Matthews & Brionne Bauchman’s The Rocky Hour
Show, a sex education and relationship advice talk show.

“You can have a show about books, about all hip-hop, a talk show, a sport show,
whatever you want,” says BECA senior and KSFS General Manager Michael Payton.

“Basically every hour you are on the station you are doing something you want to be
doing.”

Even with all of the freedom that BECA radio students receive in their artistic
process, the faculty guiding them is what allows for such a productive and creative space.

Jacoby does impose FCC regulations on them because it is exactly what will have
to be used after they graduate and “that is good training.” He also imposes the idea that
they have an audience and that they should serve their audience.

“I think this experience will prepare me for the radio world after I graduate
because the teachers really focus the coursework on things that will help us in the real
world,” says Sara Bailey, co-host of Dopest of the Decades on KSFS.

Some may think that radio is a dying medium, but the students and faculty in the
BECA department and on KSFS know that that is not the case. Even as terrestrial radio
declines in the shadow of Internet radio, the station here is already set up on the web and the moment online radio is available in the car, KSFS will already be there.

In truth, what radio is cannot really be said. With the use of multimedia, podcasts
and YouTube, and the enormous available outlets on the Internet to get content out, radio
is more than what it used to be. To be in the industry students have no option but to
become multifaceted and that is exactly the aim that the BECA department has for them.

“Radio is definitely morphing into something different but it is so alive and so
vibrant,” says Baleria. “Everyone is still listening, everyone is still tuning in.”

Like the hosts of Native SF, creativity and innovation is spilling out of the
Creative Arts building every day. The BECA department is highly renowned all around
the country and students leave with vast experience and opportunity to succeed. You can
find a BECA student interning or working at almost any radio station in the city and the
professor connections and achievements only put them even more ahead of the crowd.

“They show us how we can do it,” says Peters. “They give us the tools and we pick up those tools and we do something cool.”

Flask Mob

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  • A photographer takes a photo downtown on Saturday, April 19th, 2014. The group was part of Flaskmob, a flashmob of photographers who meet monthly to take photos and network together. Photo by Ryan Leibrich / Xpress
    A photographer takes a photo downtown on Saturday, April 19th, 2014. The group was part of Flaskmob, a flashmob of photographers who meet monthly to take photos and network together. Photo by Ryan Leibrich / Xpress
  • Kyle Thomasson plays the guitar while others take photos on Saturday, April 19th, 2014. The group was part of Flaskmob, a flashmob of photographers who meet monthly to take photos and network together. Photo by Ryan Leibrich / Xpress
    Kyle Thomasson plays the guitar while others take photos on Saturday, April 19th, 2014. The group was part of Flaskmob, a flashmob of photographers who meet monthly to take photos and network together. Photo by Ryan Leibrich / Xpress

Written by Marianna Barrera
Photos By Ryan Lebrich

As soon as the sun sets, the mob slowly starts to gather between Sansome and Commercial Streets. Soon hundreds of people are gathered on that same corner being loud, drinking, and drawing attention to themselves.
“Flask Mob! Flask Mob!” chants everyone as soon as founders Evan Thompson and Sabina Farrugia show up and begin to lead the way. Once at their first stop, everybody poses for a group picture and smoke bombs are distributed. In no time, the air is filled with smoke and the flash of cameras is all around.
Filling the streets by the hundreds, they drink, smoke, laugh, and photograph anything around them. They are a family; they are Flask Mob—some of the Bay Area’s most creative minds gathered and ready to take over the streets of San Francisco.
Flask Mob started as an idea after Thompson’s friends and online followers constantly asked to go shoot with him. Thompson is known for his truly invigorating pictures of the San Francisco skylines, not fearing boundaries and always going above and beyond to capture the perfect shot.
“There’s always new spots to find, and there’s always new buildings,” says Thompson, “so once we found a name and a reason to meet up, that’s how it organically started.”
The idea behind Flask Mob was to create an event where people with an interest in photography could gather and learn to take pictures in places where Thompson usually does, all while having fun and drinking.
“We’re creative people,” says Farrugia, “So we wanted a forum for people to hang out, chill and network, and do stuff that we like to do.”
The catchy name was created by Farrugia, taking the idea of flash mobs and making it their own.
“Flash mobs meet and dance at a random location. Flask Mob would meet and drink at a random location,” says Thompson.
One of the main group objectives is for people to network with each other, in a more nontraditional way.
“We want it to be fun, because I have to do networking stuff all the time, and a lot of it is stuck up, wine, suits—not fun,” says Farrugia, “creative people typically aren’t’ the people who want to be in suits with wine discussing what they can work on together.”
Flask Mob was the answer, it would be a networking event in which people could still have fun and not have to worry about traditional networking stuff.
“So we started telling people to pack a flask, pack a camera and show up,” says Farrugia.
The first meetup took place last November with about seventy people. Since then, word of the mob has been spreading quickly through social media, increasing the number of attendees by the hundreds.
“Everyone was so about it from the get go,” says Faruggia, “It became a lot bigger than we had planned. “
The mob now has almost four thousand followers on Instagram, and more than five hundred email sign-ups for their upcoming website.
Throughout the night, the streets and alleys of San Francisco are illuminated by flares, spinning steel wool, and everyone’s excitement. Bystanders were confused, their cars slowing as they tried to figure out who this group of people was. Employees would come out and ask who they were as the mob passed by their business.
The group made five stops in their route. Leaders of the mob tried to control the crowd by separating and communicating with each other via walkie-talkies.
One of the bigger problems the mob has had to deal with, is the constant tagging.
“It got so out of hand with the tagging that we actually pulled the plug. We said it’s done you guys,” says Farrugia about one of their previous meets.
“We do encourage expressing yourself, but there are ways to do it,” said Farrugia, “A lot of our friends are graffiti artists, and I have tagged back in the day, but that just has to be separate from what were doing, mainly because we can shut down really quickly.”
Flask Mob is trying to keep under the radar as much as they can, thus staying out of trouble is a big concern. John Kim, a former social media follower of Thompson was taken in after the first meetup, and is part of crowd control for the mob.
“The crowd started to get bigger, and I kind of tried to control it on my own,” says Kim. “It’s hard, but I’ll try to start at one section and try to keep them in line, and we communicate with walkie-talkies too, because nobody answers their phones.”
Kylle Thomasson walked with his guitar and was singing with others throughout the night. The crowd cheered for him and sang along, bringing even more enthusiasm to the already rowdy group. At multiple points, he provided music for a free style rap performed by two other attendees.
“I feel like I’m family. It’s like I came here and was accepted, you feel me?” says one of the freestyle rappers and first time attendees, Michael “Burnt Toast” Young. “ It wasn’t like, ‘Oh he’s an outsider’ I felt welcome here.”
The night continues until past midnight, the crowd’s enthusiasm going strong and by the end of the night, after a few security guards kicked everyone out of the Yerba Buena gardens, the mob slowly started dispersing.
Flask Mob events are held once a month, and every other month such as last month, instead of walking the streets, they will gather at a spot to network and drink with each other.
“Flask Mob, as it grows, it’s a learning experience in how we coordinate the large amounts of people,” said Thompson.
Thompson felt as if he was not able to communicate with everyone by just doing the walking Flask Mob. His goal for the alternate meet ups is to be able to know everyone in the group, and have a chance for everybody be able to talk to each other as well.
“I like how we’re meeting all these new people and learning from each other,” said Andre Soto at his first Flask Mob event, “We get to make a connection with everyone, and it’s a way of connecting with your community. It’s perfect.”
For now, the renegade group is staying in San Francisco, but Thompson is already working on expanding the mob and, by the end of the year, plans to take over 3 more cities.
Their next stop: Los Angeles.