Tag Archives: column

Not My President

 

There is no question that politics and ideas concerning our new president have been the main topic of conversation of millions of Americans. You hear the opinions of people in your classes, overhear it during your commute to school or work, on social media, and even during award shows.

The November election was the first presidential election in which millennials made up the same proportion of the U.S. voting-age population as the baby boomers according to an analysis of U.S. census data from the Pew Research Center. Both generations are roughly 31 percent of the overall electorate. It’s understandable since there is now a lot at stake like the fate of immigration, international relations, contraception, and other important social issues. There is a lot citizens have to be outraged about, a lot to fight for and fight against.

Protests are not only growing nation-wide but globally. Take the Women’s March, for example. A total of one hundred thirty-seven cities outside the U.S. were in support of the march back in January, protesting various issues such as women’s right, reproductive reform, LGBTQ rights, and more.

I attended the protest in San Francisco back in November the day after Trump won the presidency. Thousands of people were in attendance. SFPD was there to monitor our demonstration that started from Powell street, through the Mission districts and all the way back to City Hall at Civic Center. Intersections were blocked. Cars that passed by honked their horns in solidarity. It was a peaceful protest, but no one there had peace of mind concerning our new president.

It was a beautiful event, nevertheless. The streets surged with a mass of people as representatives of the true United States– one that accepts and respects all genders, religions, and race– all came together in positivity.

We chanted for equality.

We chanted for human lives.

We chanted for love. We smiled, laughed, hugged, and commended each other on clever slogans and signs like “Pussy Grabs Back”.

It was a sea of love and determination, and as much diversity as you could possibly dream up, all moving as a unit towards a common goal—to bring awareness to some of the social and political issues the government should be addressing to accurately represent the public.

“That’s the power of peaceful protest. That’s our First Amendment right–our right to freedom of speech that is enshrined in our Constitution,” says Ana Brazaityte, a San Francisco artist based in the Mission and avid protest attendee, “This doesn’t go for this particular protest alone, but for all protests that have sparked and spread like wildfire all around the world.”

We are living in a new sort of America where activism gets a rebrand: “Protests are the new brunch!” It shows up on protest signs, tweets and is even the title of the January 30 episode of Jon Favreau & Co’s podcast “Pod Save America,” where Guardian reporter Sabrina Siddiqui explains that for a lot of young people protesting has become the new normal. For example, more than half a million joined the Women’s March in Washington DC in what was thought to be the largest inauguration protest ever, dwarfing the 20,000 when George W. Bush took office in 2001 and the 60,000 who protested against the Vietnam war before Richard Nixon re-took office in 1973. Instead of gathering with like-minded people having bottomless mimosas, we are gathering to call-out the bottomless injustice.

Not only people who oppose these protests, but also the government especially as well, should be taking this these countless protests not as another trend but as a massive gathering of people showing concern about the state the country and even the world is in.

No matter what cause you are fighting for in these protests, the issue doesn’t necessarily have to relate to you personally. The protests at the airport, for example—you don’t have to be an immigrant to be able to empathize with people being detained for hours with no access to counsel, their rights being completely violated–people who are coming into the country legally with proper documents but are still being detained. Just like in the women’s march, you don’t have to be a women to recognize and stand up to the fact that the rights of women have been under attack for ages.

Some wonder if these protests are even effective to create social and political change. An analysis by economists from Harvard University and Stockholm University found that protests do in fact have a major influence on politics. Research shows that protest don’t work because big crowds send a signal to policy-makers—rather, it’s because protests get people politically activated. Larger turnout for the initial protest had lasting effects on voting, political contributions, ideology, and future participation in the Tea Party movement.

“There is not enough data to correlate that knowledge of protests lead to tangible change,” says Argie Hill, a student at UC Berkeley and another avid demonstrator who has attended about 50 to 60 protests.

“As a person with marginalized identities I always question the motives of protesters. If they couldn’t see my humanity before, I sincerely doubt they see it now. But numbers lead to tangible change and as such, protests are important, however, organizing is the key.”

Though it might seem that way, Protesting is not a fad. New protesters might have been distracted or uninterested in the past when other people have been in the fight for a long time before picketing became popular. It’s a valid argument to criticize new protests, but no matter how long you have been protesting—whether you’re just starting now or have been doing so your whole life—it’s all part of a movement toward a better future. Americans are waking up and expressing the outrage they always knew they had, but felt they never had the courage to express.

“In many ways it’s intrinsic to a capitalist system to reform itself with the life blood of the working class and adapt to challenges against the status quo,” says Hill.

There’s definitely a lot more work to be done and protesting is just one of the first steps to eventually make a difference. “Protesting is war. We are not really fighting to be heard, we are fighting to exist,” says Hill.

 

 

A Slice of Sports with Liz Carranza: I Got Love for Woodson

liz_1Photo by Martin Bustamante

 

By Liz Caranza

As I walked up the ramp, the smell of steak and bacon wrapped hot dogs filled the air as a sea of silver and black cheered “Raiders!” I couldn’t stop smiling because, after a year, I was finally reunited with my Raider Nation family. I was finally home.

I could not wait to get inside the stadium to watch my team play against our AFC West division rival the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, and, most importantly, watch my favorite Oakland Raiders player of all-time dominate the field.

It was a second-and-tenth play and the Chiefs had the ball on the Raiders’ 42-yard line. The game was tied 7-7 with only 1:09 left in the second quarter. The coliseum was packed and the “Raiders!” chant filled the coliseum.

The Chiefs’ quarterback, Alex Smith, threw a quick pass to Travis Kelce. Kelce spun his way through defenders, and, at this point, I clasped my hands together because I knew he had the ability to reach our end zone. Then, Kelce was brought down by Raiders’ safety Nate Allen at the Raiders’ 25-yard line. It is here where everyone in the coliseum went wild.

Running down the sideline with the football is a black jersey with the number 24 in silver and the name WOODSON on the back. Raiders’ safety Charles Woodson made history once again, and I witnessed it.

The 39-year-old veteran, for the first time in his 18-year NFL career, recovered two defensive fumbles in one game. Woodson also appeared in his 250th career regular season game, which is the most of any active defensive player and is tied with former Raiders’ kicker Shane Lechler for the fourth among all active players in the league.

As the game came to an end with us blowing our lead for a 34-20 loss, I sat in my seat and waited for the line to exit the coliseum to shorten. At that moment I recalled a date that is forever stuck in my memory: April 18, 1998. I was 4-years-old. I remember sitting down on the couch with my fingers wrapped around the handles of my pink sippy cup next to my dad and older brother. I was a tad bit confused of why they were cheering so loudly and high fiving each other.

There’s three reasons why I remember this day so clearly. One, my mom took a picture of the three of us sitting on the couch geared up in Raiders’ attire. Two, my mom loves to pull out the picture from the family photo albums to laugh at how I had an “annoyed-with-the-world” facial expression. Three, and the most important reason why, it was the day of the 1998 NFL Draft where Woodson was drafted as the fourth overall pick by the Raiders.

So why is all of this relevant? This is pretty much when I started to follow Woodson’s career.

I’ve seen him improve over the years, and seen him become a leader for our defense. It’s football plays such as Woodson’s two interceptions off Manning in week five of this season where he made NFL history that make me love football and Woodson even more. I witnessed, for the first time in NFL history, a 39-year-old defensive back intercept a 39-year-old quarterback. If you sit down and think about it, it’s pretty insane that it took Woodson 18 years to read Manning’s moves to finally pick him off.

Even though Sunday’s loss left a bitter taste in my mouth because we completely blew any chance we had of making a playoff run, I witnessed Woodson add another accomplishment to his Hall of Fame career.

Woodson has truly committed to one of the Raiders’ slogans, “Commitment to Excellence,” that not many players who have worn the Silver and Black uniform have done. His passion and commitment to the Raiders’ organization is a big reason why I respect and love him so much. Thanks Mr. Charles Woodson for everything you have done for the Raiders’ organization. You will always be a part of the Raider Nation until you decide to leave the game, and you will always remain one of my favorite players of all-time.

Loud and Clear with Oscar: They’re From the Future, Not From the Past

Photo by Martin Bustamante

 

By Oscar Gutierrez

[dropcap size=”50px”]O[/dropcap]ne of the most important pieces of advice my mother ever gave me was “It is better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.” I never understood how my mother would benefit from this considering I could have easily ruined her life, but luckily, I turned out pretty okay. As the years went by I started making more sense of the world around me as well as the person I was becoming.

At the beginning of the year I got my hands on a demo from a band that called themselves Girls Living Outside Society’s Shit, or G.L.O.S.S. for short. I found out about the band through Maximum Rocknroll’s New Blood section where they introduced themselves as “queers, trans women, women of color, gender queer femmes, feminists,” who “love hardcore and are sick of being sidelined and misrepresented.” Of course, I made it a point to listen to the demo the very next day.

The first track blasted through my speakers as vocalist Sadie Switchblade yelled the words:

“They told us we were girls, how we talk, dress, look and cry, they told us we were girls, so we claimed our female lives, now they tell us we aren’t girls, our femininity doesn’t fit, we’re fucking future girls living outside society’s shit!”

I remember the powerful music that accompanied these words and how I had never heard anything like it. It was fast, aggressive and pushed me out of my element. There was something significant about me starting my year with this demo. American author and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston would describe it best by saying “there are years that ask questions and years that answer.” Previously I had been home for the winter break and had attempted to come out to my mother after multiple sessions of crying and explaining the difficulty of being in such a position to my sister who I told sometime in the Fall.

G.L.O.S.S. gave me a year that answered many questions about my identity. I always made sure to apply my mothers advice about never asking for permission and allowing myself to ask for forgiveness, but within the context of my identity, I did not see such opportunity. G.L.O.S.S. was redefining the words of my mother and allowed me to realize that in addition to not asking for permission, I also wasn’t obligated to ask for forgiveness, ever. This band was unapologetically performing hardcore punk music, most popularized by cisgender, heterosexual and white men.

Let’s be clear with this though, G.L.O.S.S. is doing this for the “outcasts,” and no, it does not simply mean anyone “feeling” left out, because let’s be real, even the most privileged feel this at times. They make it clear that they’re talking about the rejects, girls, queers, downtrodden women who have shed their last tears, fighters, psychos, freaks, femmes and all the transgender ladies in constant transition as listed in their song “Outcasts Stomp.”

“Like, it’s such a rare thing it’s like finding a fucking unicorn in the woods and once you find it some Cis Het White dude jumps on the unicorn’s back and rides that thing all over the woods screaming about how awesome unicorns are,” wrote Imogen Greer Reid, in an article titled Dear Cis People: Can we Talk About G.L.O.S.S for a Minute?

Additionally, in the process of completely appropriating a movement that doesn’t belong to cisgendered, 0heterosexual white men, they have been more explicit with their attacks against G.L.O.S.S. Just last week the band Whirr, posted some transphobic tweets claiming that G.L.O.S.S. was “just a bunch of boys running around in panties and making shitty music.” The tweets gained wide attention from those in and out of the punk community. Whirr’s future wasn’t guaranteed and moments later, their label, Run for Cover Records, dropped them. The next day Whirr seemed to regret their comments and posted a statement saying a friend got a hold of their Twitter and tweeted those statements. Not only was this met with a multitude of photos of Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me” singles and screenshots of the infamous “Why The Fuck You Lyin?” video, but also a very surprise visit from Sadie Switchblade, vocalist of G.L.O.S.S. who made a Twitter specifically for the situation.

It’s responses like the ones stated above that make me confident about the future of punk in terms of queer and trans people of color. However, the statements made by Whirr also show how far behind we are, not only on educating people about transphobia, but also calling out those who don’t feel as though they should listen. To me, G.L.O.S.S. is a representation of understanding that I don’t need to ask for forgiveness if I didn’t ask for permission.

To live unapologetically, but also at the frontlines of what may threaten me the most, is an important revolutionary act. We need more of these acts that bring queer and trans people to the frontlines of punk and recognize them as key individuals in the construction of this subculture. It takes work, listening, and understanding, but most importantly from the people G.L.O.S.S. does not represent, it mainly means, taking a step back and letting girls be girls.

*Note: This column is solely my experiences with identifying with G.L.O.S.S. and is not intended to speak for anyone, but myself. I write this column as a cisgendered queer man of color and recognize that my experience is solely mine.

A Slice of Sports with Liz Carranza: Women in Sports Journalism

Photo by Martin Bustamante

 

By Liz Carranza

Back in March I visited New York for the Society for Collegiate Journalists Conference, where journalism programs from around the nation gathered for workshops varying in investigative reporting, sports and photography contests. I met students from some of the top universities in the nation, such as the University of Alabama, the University of Florida and the University of Connecticut. While it was an experience I will cherish dearly, I left the conference with disappointment.

It was disappointing to see the lack of diversity within the sports seminars, and the conference as a whole. Sports journalism – and sports in general – is male-dominated. It is rare to see women in these fields receive the adequate recognition and respect. There is a misconception that women in sports journalism have no knowledge about sports and are just a pretty face.

I remember stepping into the first sports seminar on the first day of the conference; I felt the entire room stare me down as I took a seat in the front row. At first, I thought people were staring at me because I was dressed in all black with my gold septum jewelry shining from my nose, but I was wrong. I slowly turned around to a sea of people, and realized I was the only person of color. To top it all off, I was one of three women in the room. I immediately felt uncomfortable.

I shrugged off the uncomfortable stares and continued to stay positive that the next sports seminars would bring more people of color. Again, I was wrong. Every time I stepped into any of the sports seminars, eyes were glued on me.

I’ve had a few individuals tell me that the only reason why I chose to become a sports journalist was so I could interview “attractive men” and be the “pretty face in front of the camera.” I can’t help but laugh at their comments. I chose this career because I love writing about sports. I have a very personal connection to it because of my family. If you read my first column piece, you’ll remember that sports have always been an important part of my life. Family bonding in my childhood revolved around attending sporting events or watching the events from home.

I love finding out new things about athletes that you normally would not discover from them on the field. It’s the little moments in sports that make me love writing about them. It’s when you interview an athlete and they tell you the obstacles they overcame to get to where they are.

Back in early June, thanks to one of my journalism professors, I had the opportunity to attend the Oakland Raiders’ Organized Team Activities. When I saw Raiders’ kicker Sebastian Janikowski standing 10 feet away from me, I just wanted to burst out in excitement. Of course I kept my cool and wrote down notes in my black moleskin notepad. Then I saw one of my favorite Raiders’ player, Charles Woodson, run down the dashes next to me as he started firing up the rookie squad with encouragement. As I prepared to enter the conference room, I felt nervous and my stomach turned into knots. I was in a room filled with sports journalists, and I was the only woman of color. It was at that moment I knew I chose a career I love. It was also at that moment that I realized that I have the power to make a change.

Yes, there’s been positives in the sports world involving female athletes. We saw the U.S. Women’s National Team defeat Japan in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup to become the first national women’s team to win the Cup three times. Yes, we have Serena Williams and Ronda Rousey dominating their sport, but what about women in the sports media? What are they receiving? Nothing really.

Returning from New York and attending the Raiders’ Organized Team Activities really motivated me to continue with sports journalism, especially with the lack of women of color in the field. I want to make an impact in the field and demonstrate that women do know about sports, and that we do have knowledge about stats, sports history and athletes.

Women of color – and really all women – bring something new to sports journalism. In a platform that is dominated by men, I believe women have the ability and knowledge to tell sports stories. We bring different opinions and ideas to the table, just like men in sports media do. I think sports newsrooms need more women, especially more women of color, into their platforms, so the stereotype of “just a pretty face behind the camera” can end.

Don’t Call Yola an Angry Black Woman: Her Name is Actually Felisha Though

Photo by Martin Bustamante

 

By Fayola Perry

In the 1995 movie “Friday,” Craig, played by Ice Cube, and Smokey, played by Chris Tucker, are sitting on Craig’s porch when the resident dope fiend, Felisha, played by Angela Means, comes by and asks them to borrow a car, a joint and a couple of other items. After the pair engage in a back and forth with her, Craig asks Felisha to excuse herself from the stoop by uttering the now infamous phrase, “Bye Felisha.”

This year’s end of summer blockbuster biopic, “Straight Outta Compton” chronicled the rise and fall of the legendary rap group, N.W.A. in which Ice Cube was a founding member. He also wrote, as well as starred in, the movie “Friday.” In the biopic, it is revealed that Felisha is also the name of a woman who managed to make it back to the group’s hotel room. She is asked to leave the hotel room when her boyfriend and his posse came to the hotel room asking for her. An altercation ensued and that’s when we hear the phrase, “Bye Felisha” uttered upon her exit. Since the movie’s release, it’s been confirmed by members of the group to have originated there and then made its way into the “Friday” script shortly after.

The phrase has been popular in black communities, but with the use of apps like Twitter, the phrase spread like wildfire to the rest of the world. When it became a trending topic on “Black Twitter” where it no doubt trickled down and made it’s way into lexicon across the interwebs and into the mouths of the unknowing.

The use of “Bye Felicia” in popular media is a very basic example of cultural appropriation. The hordes of people who think they can relate, but in reality cannot, who use social media and say Felicia “isn’t actually a person,” in their Tumblr posts or say things like “it’s just something people say” have no idea that they are diluting and distorting the significance of the phrase. The statements essentially undermine the importance of cultural symbols and ignore the origin of cultural symbols, which are taken for granted in popular discourse.

Cultural appropriation is the concept in which the elements of one culture are used by another outside culture. It is typically viewed as a negative phenomenon because the culture being borrowed from is usually ignored both intentionally and unintentionally.

Cultural appropriation can often be seen in aesthetic trends, costume choices for Halloween and in the popular media adoption and glorification of linguistic patterns and physical attributes as they trend.

Taking it a step further, cultural appropriation often refers to a particular power dynamic in which the member from a dominant culture, in this example WASP (White Anglo Saxon Protestant) ‘culture’ is the dominant, hegemonic culture, that takes elements from a group they systematically oppressed, in this example, the oppressed are black people.

Pretty problematic, right?

There is someone in the back of their classroom right now reading this in preparation for Halloween, wondering if they’re a racist because they wanted to wear a feather headdress and moccasins as their costume.

The answer to that question is yes and no. It’s more complicated than Donald Trump’s relationship with poor people.

There is this tricky gray area between cultural appropriation, where people take without attribution of origin and cultural exchange, a situation in which both parties have a mutual appreciation, fascination and willingness to understand the complicated and intricate histories and power dynamics in play.

Cultural appropriation minimizes and trivializes the history of oppression. What may seem so small to one group can be a haunting reminder of traumatic experiences to another.

Cultural appropriation allows people to show love for a culture, but still hate the people from that culture. As comedian Paul Mooney once said: “everybody wants to be a nigga, but don’t nobody want to be a nigga.”

“Hunger Games” actress Amandla Stenberg posed the question, “What would America be like if we loved black people as much as we love black culture?”

Both of their statements allude to the idea that using aspects of Black culture or participating in parts of Blackness is great as long as I continue to have the ability to move around and avoid certain situations and power dynamics in the privileged body that is usually not Black.

Another way to conceptualize this is to think about the Bay Area and it’s inhabitants in the quest for authentic Mexican food without having to go into dangerous neighborhoods to get it. Dangerous neighborhoods is usually code for areas that are heavily occupied by people of colour, in this case it’s Mexicans and or Latinos. It says that I’m entitled to your culture, but I would never want to be you or have to deal with you.

Appropriating culture makes things okay for one group while making it taboo for another. Things that people of colour are reprimanded for and ostracized for are okay when White people do it. A lot of this can be seen in hair trends. In popular fashion magazines black hairstyles like bantu knots and cornrows are given new names like “mini buns” and repackaged and reimagined on white bodies.This makes it socially acceptable but instantly deemed “ghetto” and unprofessional when worn by the people who originated it. The feelings of the privileged who are more often than not white, are prioritized and hierarchically situated above marginalized people of colour.  Marc Jacobs is deemed a trendsetter for sending “mini buns” down the runway while the original creators never receive credit. Much like the phrase “Bye Felicia.”

Cultural appropriation sanitizes and spreads lies about people’s culture. It takes away the story Felisha, the addict who represents and symbolizes so many black and brown women’s struggle with drug addiction in that era and makes her a passing internet trend.

This lack of attention to detail can perpetuate racist stereotypes. Someone may think they are paying homage to someone’s culture and the person whose culture they’re paying homage to is completely offended at the misrepresentation.

Fear not, you can enjoy a great burrito if you are not Latino and do yoga if you’re not Indian, but be thoughtful, check your privilege and be considerate of context and history. Everyone has some type of privilege, people of colour appropriate each other’s cultures as well. We must all be mindful of our lens, other people’s perspectives, the legacy of oppression and try our best to make sure that  we are not continuing it. At the very least, know where the appropriated element came from and at the very, very least, spell her name right. It’s Felisha, not Felicia.

 

Loud and Clear With Oscar: ‘Can I Get In?’ Youth and Accessibility in SF Punk

Photo by Martin Bustamante

 

By Oscar Gutierrez

I walked into a daytime punk show at a bar in San Francisco where the person at the door took a thick Sharpie marker and drew two huge X’s on my hands. I gave them a $10 bill and was let into the gig. I remember two bands, Dropdead and Permanent Ruin were playing and I really only went to see Mariam Bastani of Permanent Ruin scream in the face of a bunch of drunk old dudes that attended the gig. This was my first time attending a punk gig in San Francisco and I waited about four months to do that. Don’t get me wrong, I really wanted to be at all the shows, but I was not 21, and if you know San Francisco punk well enough, you will know that punk shows are commonly hosted at bars.

I remember sitting on a bench and observing people while I ate tater tots and drank a tall glass of Pepsi. I was looking for more people with X’s on their hands because I was eager to make new friends that were into punk upon my arrival to the Bay Area. I found this harder than expected. I was the youngest in a sea of older punks, but it just did not make sense to me. I understood a couple of things that I was warned about when moving to the Bay. One of which was that if I wanted to go to gigs that were all-ages, then I would have to go to Oakland. The other was that if I found a show in San Francisco, the $5 ticket average that I got in Los Angeles would probably not be the case.

I did not expect this absence of young people in the punk scene to affect me as much as it did. It was months before I went to another punk show I could get into, but within that time I was so depressed that getting out of bed was a huge task. I wrote a column that gained some popularity in issue #368, also known as the queer issue, of “Maximum Rocknroll” where I talked about the defining moments of coming to terms with queerness as a punk in San Francisco. However, I never had the opportunity to talk about the moment in which I was so utterly depressed from the lack of access to gigs in San Francisco because of my age.

I knew about San Francisco punk long before I actually moved here and I was ecstatic at the thought of being part of a scene with a legacy so important to punk. However, I did not consider who was given access to the scene. I argue that the scene did not only give access to people over 21, but also to white older men that frequented the scene and never left. The truth is that I never want to leave punk either, but if you checked out my column last week, you would know how definitive it is to have someone, in this case my sister, pull you into a scene that comes to define your identity.

I often think of the reasons I got into punk, but also those of friends I frequently hung out with. Not to generalize or clump punks into a single narrative, but the majority of my friends used punk as ways to address issues in their lives, while simultaneously addressing some of the bigger systemic problems like racism, patriarchy and homophobia. I remember that my thoughts on that bench as I ate tater tots was not so much based on the fact I would not have friends in the Bay Area, but more so on the fact that youth in San Francisco were being cheated out of a subculture that was primarily based on their histories and lives. How could youth be left out of a scene that they are so fundamentally a part of?

I found that a lot of these issues of access were not always the case in San Francisco. When friends of mine and I got together earlier this year to organize an all-ages punk festival for the Latino, Chicano and Indigenous punk community in the Bay Area, space was one of the most difficult things to find. At the time I was heavily starting to organize with a youth organization in the Mission District called People Organizing to Demand Economic and Environmental Rights. PODER has been working in the Mission for years with youth in the community. Teresa Almaguer, the youth program coordinator, remembers the amount of space available for punk gigs, primarily in the Mission.

“Punk music was everywhere and you used to see them all over the Mission in San Francisco and it happened in multiple places,” said Almaguer. “PODER even hosted a couple of gigs for the youth, but now all I can think of is SUB-Mission, but to my knowledge everyone is moving everything to Oakland.”

To think that late last year I was stage-diving into a crowd of young queer punks at a Limp Wrist gig at SUB-Mission shortly before its closure this year is a scary thought. Gentrification has been fundamental to the displacement of punk spaces for young people and I believe it’s time we explicitly talked about it in that context. It’s the reason that spaces like bars charge anywhere from $8 to $10 for a punk show, sometimes with no touring bands on the bill. So, if there is no space for youth that are into punk, then where exactly are they going? The truth is that with some of the youth I engage with, punk does not leave their room.

“I went to couple of shows, but mostly in Oakland,” Michael Lee, 17, of South San Francisco said. “There’s that house World Rage Center in Oakland and they host a couple of shows, but it’s kind of far so I stay home a lot and listen to stuff on Bandcamp.”

I went to punk gig last week at Thrillhouse Records, which is the only punk record store in San Francisco currently hosting shows for all ages. While at the show I understood the importance of going deeper than beginning to host gigs for all ages. When young people have been turned away from the scene for so long, the chances that they are coming out to any show, all-ages or not, is unlikely. Places like Thrillhouse and other San Francisco venues that host these shows continually have the same old white dude demographic.

I talked to Arturo Trejo, the lead singer of Colonia, a punk band from San Antonio about the issue before he prepared for a panel on marginalized identities at Think and Die Thinking, an all-ages do-it-yourself punk festival for the LGBTQ community, women and punks of color in San Jose. I was defeated by the idea that there were no young people represented in the panel as a major reflection of the scene itself. Frankly, not being able to find young voices to speak at a festival meant for youth sounded a bit contradictory to me. Regardless, the panel did include some voices that I strongly admire and hold high to my knowledge of punk. But even then, the people at the table had difficulty advocating for the access of spaces to young people. The panel was a clear reminder of how little opportunity young people have to speak, not only in punk, but in general. I am 21 now, but I was still holding on to the experience that made me so passionate about creating space for young people to listen and engage with punk music.

Contrary to popular thought, I do not think San Francisco is doomed. I came with the intention of creating community with other punks in San Francisco that were young and of color, and although that was not the case, I honestly believe in the possibilities of creating more space for youth to engage with punk music in San Francisco. Do I go to 21 and over punk shows now that I am 21? Yeah, totally. Truth is, I do not blame you or myself for doing this. I have some friends that are in some amazing bands and will do all-ages punk shows when given the opportunity. However, if we are not actively working to give the tools to young people, then punk as we know it has absolutely no future. This is dangerous to a generation that is facing one of the most intense social climates in history, specifically pertaining to people of color, queer and trans people.

How you generate access is up to you, but it looks as simple as making mixtapes, fanzines and shows that are available to people of all ages. Former coordinator of “Maximum Rocknroll” and volunteer at Thrillhouse records, Ari Perezdiez has been heavily expressive on issues of access to young people.

“If we do not share the tools that make our punk scenes accessible to everyone, then we have the next generation of punks recreating a wheel that is not necessary,” Perezdiez said. “Meaning that if we do not share our resources, we are going to have a generation of punks making the same mistakes.”

Although I do believe in the power of learning from mistakes, I also believe in not setting up people for disaster. I often think of the punk generation that is older now and still actively participating in the punk scene and I wonder if they ever held gentrification accountable for not giving access to a new generation. For now, I want to sit with the idea of the possibility that youth will find another way to release their anger and frustrations in San Francisco. No doubt this will take patience, but I hope that I can see the bit of progress during my time in this city.

Answers, Not Questions by Colin Blake: Altoids Tin Flashlight

 

 

Feature image 2

By Colin Blake

When the last Altoid is consumed, the container is often tossed as soon as possible. However, even though the tin material is not resilient like steel, or as rigid as aluminum, it can be turned into a vessel for a great many things, one such project is converting the tin into a usable flashlight. If small-scale electronics, repurposing and recycling, along with testing your finger dexterity is of interest, this project is for you.
Making a flashlight from a Altoids tin will not yield a high-energy light in most cases. However, it will yield an interesting conversation piece that can illuminate a table to find missing keys, bring light to a dark corridor, and clarify what you just stuck your hand into, if the need should arise. More than that, it is just fun to challenge your abilities at making something.

Suggested prerequisite skills:
1. Basic soldering.
2. Basic direct current (DC) knowledge.
3. Rudimentary power-drill experience.

Total parts pic

Step one: amassing parts.

1. Two 5mm 12v indicator LEDs.
2. One three-amp toggle switch with rubber boot.
3. Two nine-volt battery connectors.
4. Two nine volt batteries.
5. An Altoids tin.
6. Various lengths of heat-shrink tubing.

This project should not cost a lot of money: Assuming no tools need to be purchased, this build should cost no more than $22 or $23. The most expensive category in this build is batteries: Two nine-volt batteries cost $10. For this build, all the electronics components were purchased through eBay.

LED measurement

LEDs for scale

Step two: drill holes for the lights.
These are small LEDs: the shank diameter is only 5mm, making them near the smallest LEDs available. Because of that, it is paramount to make these be nearly a press-fit into the body of the casing. Mark lightly and accurately the position of the holes to be drilled. Once marked, center punch the Altoids tin in the location the LEDs are to be. Once the case is center punched, drill a small pilot hole, 3/16ths of an inch or less, and gradually increase the size of the bit until 5mm is reached. Trying to drill the hole in one shot will likely tear the metal since tin is soft, made worse by how thin an Altoids tin is.
Drill pilot holes

Drill holes complete
Step three: drill a hole for the switch.
Mounting a toggle switch is personal preference, but here, it’s mounted opposite the lid hinge and in front of the battery bank for packaging purposes. This switch also has a 5mm shank, therefor, making the drilling process exactly the same as the lights.

Switch parts

Switch measurement

Test fit LEDs and switch
Step four: packaging.
This flashlight is being designed to run for hours at a lower luminosity than a regular light would be. Because of that, two nine-volt batteries are to be placed side-by-side and wired in parallel to boost amp-hours, leaving no room in the rear of the case for a maze of wiring. All of it must be centralized in front of the battery bank to avoid pinching wires. The gauge of the wires used is thin enough that it is likely possible to route wires above the batteries, but this light has no safety fuse and should avoid that risk.

Battery test fit
Test fit the batteries, LEDs, and switch to get a rough idea of where the wires will need to be routed.

Small lesson: wiring the batteries in series will double the voltage of the battery bank output. Using a multimeter, the voltage jump can be seen. Doubling voltage may immediately blow LEDs, reduce their lifespan, or if the situation is grim, cause a fire.

Single 9v voltage

Two 9v's in series

Step five: solder the connections.
Crimping wires isn’t an option on this build. Crimped joints are far too weak, bulky, and impedance-generating; all of which is unacceptable here. Dexterity and finesse are virtues here. In particular, soldering the leads of the wires on the switch is the most challenging portion of this build. Crimp-style, blade connectors exist to make this job easier, but they are rare, overpriced, and still a crimped union, which is weaker. Calculating the length of wire needed and wiring the switch outside of the tin is likely the best bet in getting a good soldered union.

Sorting positive leads

LED's wired to switch

Planning power and ground
Remember: Modern LEDs are almost entirely non-polar units. This means that although they have red and black wires coming from the internal circuit board, it doesn’t matter if red is positive or negative when being wired. However, check to make sure that is indeed the case for LEDs that are purchased for a project: back-feeding a circuit is sure to destroy it.

Circuit complete

Circuit complete 2

Order of current flow:
From the positive terminals of the parallel nine-volt batteries, power should flow to the switch in the off position. From the switch, which is still in the off position, direct the power to the LEDs: these are to be wired in parallel. Finally, terminate the grounds of the LEDs to the battery bank negative terminals. The circuit has now been completed and the lights should turn on if the switch is flipped.

Step six: odds and ends.
This is the the the time to look over all the work: Wiggle any wires to check for a loose connection, tug at the switch to make sure it is tight, ensure the batteries are connected, make sure the soldered joints are insulated with heat shrink, and of course, make sure the lights turn on.

A Slice of Sports with Liz Carranza: Football is back, baby!

It’s that time of year when all I hear is ESPN Sportscenter’s “dah dah dah, dah dah dah” theme song jingle from my cellphone at the most random times of the day.   

It’s the best time of the year because the love of my life is here to visit me. It’s the thing that makes me ecstatic, makes me throw fists full of fury in the air; the one who makes me jump out of my seat and makes me want to pull my hair out at times. He puts me through this grueling 17-week long emotional roller-coaster ride, but I love him. Football season is finally here and that means the Oakland Raiders are back in action!

I woke upon the first Sunday of the season with this joy bursting in my heart. This soon turned to a bitter taste in my mouth that, for the past 13 years, I’ve become accustomed to as a Raiders fan.

My phone flashed as the “dah dah dah, dah dah dah” filled the room with the alert that the Raiders’ starting quarterback Derek Carr was out with a hand injury in the second quarter. To make matters even worse, the team was trailing the Cincinnati Bengals 24-0 by halftime.

Things just continued to spiral downhill for Oakland. Safety Nate Allen injured his knee, which was a big blow for the defense who looked lost the entire game. Allen leaving the game after the first half left the middle of the field open for Bengals’ wide receivers to sprint away carefree. The injuries just kept rolling through. Veteran safety Charles Woodson hurt his shoulder and defensive tackle Justin Ellis left with an ankle injury.

The team got slammed in a disappointing 33-13 loss. Over the years I’ve seen my team get blown out by the end of the first quarter, so this embarrassing performance by Oakland was nothing new to me.

I grew up in a household where family bonding meant watching sports, and that involved watching the Raiders every Sunday. I remember growing up, Mark Acasio, or as most individuals know him by Gorilla Rilla, would stop by our home to pick up some of my mom’s homemade pozole and tamales. He would spend a few hours talking to my brother and dad about football while I ran around screaming “Raider Nation! Just win baby!” He would chuckle and tell my dad he was raising me right.

People always ask me why I continue to be a Raiders fan. My response is always the same, I bleed the Silver and Black and I always will. Even if the team decides to move to Los Angeles to share a stadium with the San Diego Chargers, I’ll still be a faithful fan.  

It’s the wild cheers and high-five celebrations with strangers inside the Oakland Coliseum when Woodson catches an interception that bring me joy. It’s when you see kicker Sebastian Janikowski attempt a 63-yard field goal against the Denver Broncos to make NFL history that keeps me cheering. Last season I stood in the Black Hole with my clothes drenched in water yelling “Let’s go Raiders!” to see my team win their first game of the season against the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday Night Football. It was one of the best feelings to see Oakland win after losing for 10 straight weeks. It’s these type of moments that make me love football and the Raiders so much.

I’ve been waiting 13 years since our last Super Bowl appearance to see my team gain their possession as a top AFC team instead of the league’s laughingstock. My prediction for the remainder of the season is Oakland will end with a 5-11 record. There’s still 16 weeks and 15 regular games left in this season. Let’s see where the team goes from here and how they’ll play against the Baltimore Ravens next Sunday.
Let’s also see how I survive this 17-week roller-coaster relationship I have with the Raiders. If you see a girl walking down the third floor of the Humanities Building dressed in three shades of black, an iced medium coffee in her right hand, and looks sleep deprived, don’t worry, my relationship with football does this to me. All I know is, I’m just really happy football is finally back!

Loud and Clear with Oscar Gutierrez: An Introduction

Photo by Martin Bustamante

 

By Oscar Gutierrez

“Un, dos, tres, cuatro!”

I was shoved into a wall as a sea of punk rockers in leather jackets and colored hair slammed into each other and jumped in complete mayhem. The band played an out of tune musical medley in a backyard that stretched about 20 feet wide. The PA system laid on top of trash cans allowed the projection of the screams onto speakers that pierced my ears while 40 ounce bottles of beer splashed through the crowd. The stench of marijuana, beer and sweat covered my clothes at the end of the night. This was a punk gig, I was 12-years-old and I was terrified.

I became obsessed with this feeling and it became a ritual. I had an entry point when it came to punk, and that was my family. My sister was a freak and left the house in some questionable hairstyles. However, I will never forget her impeccable taste in punk music. In many ways, my sister allowed the expression of the anger I did not know I had. Everyone has the entry point into punk, and for you, this may be it.

When I was 10-years-old and listening to a record by a band called Life’s Halt, I realized that I liked it so much because I could see my anger in it. Life’s Halt was not white, and although the majority of the band was heterosexual men, the color of their skin was very reflective of mine. There was a lot happening in the ‘90s when bands such as Life’s Halt, Los Crudos, Spitboy and Iconoclast were playing gigs and releasing records. In a lot of ways, they allowed me to understand the fabric of my community and family.

Let’s rewind for a bit, because I really want you all to understand what punk is not. Punk is not simply a genre and it’s definitely not a style of clothing. I’m really sorry that Hot Topic lied to you, but someone really had to tell you at some point. Most importantly, two things I will be talking about repeatedly are that punk is not and will never simply be something that came from Europe and it’s definitely not music made solely by men.

I write this for those particular reasons. The common narrative of punk is this weird fantasy of the Sex Pistols giving us Anarchy in the U.K. I refuse to believe that, and you should too. Punk has been fundamental to people’s anger and survival beyond the limits of what this narrative has taught us. Instead I offer the narrative that talks about the marginalized identities in punk music. I seek to offer a critique and challenge current popularized notions of punk, specifically in the Bay Area.

I ask that you all consider punk more of a reaction as opposed to a music genre. Although there is a distinct sound when it comes to this music, I want your focus to be established on the who? what? where? and most importantly, why? of punk.

You may know little to nothing about punk, and although there is really no such thing as “experts” in punk, I do plan on giving you the knowledge necessary to show up to a gig and know the basics. You must really know that San Francisco is one of those prime places for punk.

Last summer I had the opportunity to travel the U.S. for two months with a queer punk band from San Francisco–Sissyfit. I learned two major things on this tour. One is that I do not like humidity and the other is that punk in San Francisco is beyond amazing. San Francisco is one of those punk utopias where you can find a gig every weekend and a punk rocker to hang out with every other day. We have Thrillhouse, one of the only cooperatively run punk stores left in the nation. We also have “Maximum Rocknroll“, the longest running punk publication in the world. Yeah, the world.

It’s no surprise that legendary punks like Alice Bag, writer of “Violence Girl: East LA Rage to Hollywood Stage, A Chicana Punk Story” and vocalist of the legendary punk band, The Bags, added two chapters in her book simply about San Francisco. While many give Los Angeles the praise (that it really does deserve), San Francisco can equally stand up face-to-face against Los Angeles with punk histories equally as deserving of said praise.

Think of this simply as a preface of what is to come. I have been digesting punk, the people, bands and scenes for way too long, and I think it is time I share it with you. You’re going to need some patience, and maybe some medical insurance (broken noses happen) and the flexibility to buy new earphones as they continually break from the screeching noises. Expect a topic of conversation, my current favorite bands, upcoming gigs, and my general thoughts on the current state of punk in San Francisco. I’m going to be as visual as possible, but this is really going to take your participation. My intention is not to force you into punk, but to really capture the importance of it.

As the great San Francisco queer punk band Limp Wrist would say, “thank you.”

Beats n’ Stuff #13: The semester’s almost over, stop stressin’

I’m the worst at not being stressed out. At this point in my college career, I think being stressed out is ingrained in my every day life, coupled with sleep depravity and a worrisome caffeine addiction that would make a doctor’s head spin. The one thing that keeps me from not going insane is music and a nightly episode of Friends on Netflix.

Right now, it’s nearing the end of the semester. Everyone’s stressed out. Instead of tearing your eyes out about the three five-page papers you have due on the same day, sit back, grab a soda and snack, and listen to these lovely, positive tunes.

You’ll get through this tough time, just as you did last semester. Stay strong. I believe in you.

 

5.) “trUe thang” by I LOVE MAKONNEN

The “Tuesday” warbler is one of the most weirdest success stories in recent hip-hop. Drake found his track, rapped on it, and then signed I LOVE MAKONNEN to his own label October’s Very Own, or so the story goes. Makonnen’s newest mixtape Have Some Water 5 further demonstrates his bizarre sensibilities in r&b. The track “trUe thang” has a serene-area-in-a-JRPG-vibe that baffles and delights. Perhaps Makonnen will become the first purveyor of hybrid genre dream-pop-r&b.

4.) “くるかな” by Especia

Especia has been dubbed as the first “vapor wave idol group,” but their idol pop melodies translate far beyond the oversaturated and yawn-inducing genre of vapor wave. Especia’s music is reminiscent of Western 80s pop, and you’ll be humming along whether you like it or not. In addition to a far different aesthetic to other J-Pop idol groups, the girls of Especia are easily one of the most stylish idol groups around.

3.) “LIFE IS GOOD (feat. Jay Park)” by Epik High

Korean hip-hop group Epik High’s been around since 2001, and their most recent album SHOEBOX was their best record yet. Epik High’s going to be playing at the Warfield in May, but unfortunately it’s gonna cost you an arm and a leg. Instead of shelling out nearly $100 to see them, one’s probably better suited to watching their amazingly colorful vertical video for track “Born Hater.” Note: watch it on an iPad or iPhone for the best effect.

2.) “SO WHAT! (feat. Seira Kariya)” by tofubeats

I’m surprised that I haven’t thrown this song on a playlist before, but tofubeats’ positive, enjoyable forays into pop and hip-hop are among my favorite tunes of the past couple years. “SO WHAT!” features 21-year-old singer Seira Kariya and evokes a throwback-pop sound, much like the afore-featured Especia. Tofubeats’ genre of choice sways, but his sense of structure and melody is unmatched in the electronic scene in Japan.

1.) “Wishes (feat. Tkay Maidza)” by Swick & Lewis Cancut

Swick & Lewis Cancut was featured on Ryan Hemsworth’s first Shhh Secret Songs compilation, themed after the color pink (which also features my favorite Kero Kero Bonito song, “Flamingo”). Singer Tkay Maidza’s a cross between Charli XCX and Santigold, bubblegum pop vocals with attitude. “Wishes” is a track to play at a party to get pumped up, or just to dance around your room while doing your very, very late spring cleaning.

Beats n’ Stuff #11: I Know What You Scrobbled Last Summer

I’ve had a Last.fm account for eight years. Eight. Years.

Glancing at that join date is pretty daunting. In those eight years that I’ve had a Last.fm account I’ve gone through puberty, had a Myspace, deleted a Myspace, created a plethora of other social media accounts, graduated high school and moved out of my rinky-dink small town to go to college, and most importantly: drastically changed my music taste. Last.fm has been there with me through all of that, whether I knew it or not.

Last.fm, for the uneducated, is a music social media site that “scrobbles,” or tracks what you listen to, and caters lists according to it. For example, my top played ‘overall’ artist is Kanye West. However, at the turn of my music taste as a budding indie aficionado, I deleted a lot of the artists I listened to in the past. In truth, my top played would probably be rock group Say Anything, but that fact is now lost in the realm of 17-year-old “pop-punk is dumb” era-Caty.

In 2007 I was 15, young, angsty, and really into pop-punk, as any young girl would be. My first concert was My Chemical Romance (of course), and I loved Fall Out Boy (and anything signed to pop-punk staple Fueled by Ramen), Say Anything, and Brand New more than I loved myself. Music was a ride or die type of hobby, and I wish I was as passionate about music today as I was as a 15-year-old teen (…says the girl writing a bi-weekly music column).

The most insane thing about my long, presumably lost last.fm account is that it’s still active, scrobbling my music unbeknownst to me. Every now and then I’ll get a notification from the app on my computer, but other than that, I rarely check it anymore. I hope that Last.fm keeps scrobbling my music for all eternity, and exists as a relic for teenage-me’s sake.

This playlist, “I Know What You Scrobbled Last Summer” is dedicated to the forgotten pop-punk tunes everyone seems to pretend they didn’t listen to. This column will be more of a walk down memory lane, so you can skip down and listen to the playlist if you don’t really care to read sentimental garbage from yours truly. Proceed at your own risk.

 

1.) “Colorblind” by Say Anything

When I first saw Say Anything, I was chaperoned by my mom to the Warfield. I was up in the balcony, but I remember seeing Say Anything, my favorite band at the time, and how passionate their performance was. Hellogoodbye closed the night, and I left with my mom to catch Bart home, only to run into frontman Max Bemis in the lobby. I was 15 and star-struck: here is this dude whose lyrics meant everything to me. When he autographed a goofy belt I had bought from the merch booth, I damn near wept. I saw Say Anything a total of three times in my youth, and they never let me down.

2.) “There’s No ‘I’ in Team” by Taking Back Sunday

Taking Back Sunday’s Tell All Your Friends is a pop-punk classic, and a record that I listen to far more than I care to admit (but here I am, admitting it). “There’s No ‘I’ in Team” catalogs the scandalous feud between other pop-punkers Brand New (specifically frontman Jesse Lacey, who was formerly a bassist for Taking Back Sunday). As a teen on the Internet, reading about their vehement band drama on Livejournal was the equivalent to skimming through celebrity tabloids in line at Safeway.

3.) “Honey This Mirror Isn’t Big Enough for the Two of Us” by My Chemical Romance

Ah, My Chemical Romance. MCR. The pop-goth princes of rock. My Chemical Romance had less of a pop start, and more of a hardcore one. As they grew as a band, their sound grew much more accessible, and soon were dominating the airwaves with records like The Black Parade. My first concert ever, and no I do not count seeing Smash Mouth at the Alameda County Fair as my first concert, was My Chemical Romance on the Black Parade tour, and it was great. I wore way too much makeup and looked like a raccoon, and I sang my heart out (with my dear mom by my side, bless her heart).

4.) “The Future Freaks Me Out” by Motion City Soundtrack

A Facebook friend recently posted a status about an alleged Commit This to Memory, their most notable album, tour Motion City Soundtrack embarked on, much to my dismay. I didn’t go, but I wish I had. Motion City Soundtrack encompasses the nerdy-side of the pop-punk scene, with their highly danceable tunes and earnest lyrics, and even features production by Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus.

5.) “My Heart is the Worst Kind of Weapon” by Fall Out Boy

Back in the day, Fall Out Boy and their signed record label Fueled by Ramen were everything to me. FBR was how I found new music and kept up with the music I already loved. When I went to Warped Tour years and years ago, my heart was broken when Cobra Starship and The Academy Is… held their meet and greets simultaneously, I chose to meet the latter, which I don’t think I regret. Regardless, Fall Out Boy was opened a massive door to a lot of music for me, and even if their music past their album From Under the Cork Tree isn’t really my taste, I appreciate them nonetheless.