A Three Subject Post.

Spring break is now over, and to celebrate/mourn that fact, this post will have three matters of subject. Matter the first:

An open letter to Post cereal, the makers of Blueberry Morning. 

Dear Makers of Blueberry Morning,

     Fuck you. You have destroyed my cereal. Somewhere down the line, you changed either one of the ingredients of your flakes, or the entire flake recipe itself. You have taken what was once a beloved breakfast treat and turned it into barely edible refuse. Once upone a time my bowl of Blueberry Morning consisted of small, freezedried BUT TASTY, blueberrys which were copious in occurence and which liked to reside at the bottom of the bowl, leaving a plethora of surplus berries waiting for me towards the end, immaculately diced almond slices, and a wonderful flake that stayed crisp for way longer than you would expect, and even when the milk had done its dasterdly deeds and softened the flake, SOMEHOW it retained an aire of crispness, like a cold winter morning. Now, sadly, those flakes are gone. Instead, they have been replaced with some air filled astrocity, barely warranting the merit to be called a flake. These “flakes” turn to mush in about 30 seconds, and leave me with the feeling that I am Goldilocks, trying to devour a too-cold bowl of bear porridge, hardly aware of my impending doom. In conclusion, I hate you, and am going back to Puffin cereal and Raisin Bran.


   Isaac D. Miller



Onward, ho.

There exists a photographic technique called Tilt-Shift photography. What this does is give the effect of the subject being a miniature model of the sort you would see surrounding toy train sets. This is achieved either digitally or by use of a perspective control lense, which gives the photographer the ability to shift and tilt the lense position. This usually blurs the tops and bottoms of the image, giving it extremely shallow depth of field that fade into perfect focus as you get closer to the center of the image. This makes the image look like it was taken with a macro lense, thereby making everything in the photo look like tiny scale models. 

Anyways, I have never seen this done in a video before, but this extremely talented man, Keith Loutit has a series of videos, that he has made with time lapse photography combined with tilt-shift. To say the least they are spectacular. This video is called Bathtub IV and is guaranteed to brighten your day, so watch it. It tells what song was playing at the end of the video for anyone interested. WATCH IT.

Bathtub IV from Keith Loutit on Vimeo.

And finally, I just wanted to mention something that has recently come to my attention that bothers me much. I recently got hired as a staff photographer for UCSC’s student newspaper, City on a Hill Press.
http://www.cityonahillpress.com and http://www.sluglife.org (our news blog). I got my first assignment on Sunday, to cover a Monday public forum type meeting with one of our writers, Jenna Purcell. The meeting was about UCSC Family Student Housing. This housing is on campus, away from dorms, for single parents, and families with little kids who are attending UCSC. The price of rent is supposed to be kept artificially low, as many of these parent/students are on or below the poverty line. Many of them are TAs, and that is their only source of income. Over the last decade, their rent has been raised 62%, from $750 roughly, to over $1200 currently. This meeting was about another 7.5% rent increase.
We listened to countless testimonies, that were being told to the Assistant Chancellor and three of her colleagues (one of whom looked exactly like Alec Baldwin on 30 rock.) Many of these students, just shy of their Masters and Doctorate degrees, are being forced to abandon hope, drop out of school and move. Others face the decision of staying, or being able to afford adequate food and diapers. Many parents voiced concerns over the mold infestations in the walls, that are causing their young children to develop allergies and constant coughs. Others spoke of having infant children and going the entire Winter without a working heater, or months without a stove.
Hearing all this was frankly embarrassing. The administrators vowed to have the mold issues looked at, but said that realistically, they will still most likely raise the rent. Apparently this extra money will either be going into a future construction fund, which has neither a budget nor a ground breaking date, or to help payoff our school’s $25 million in debt. Sadly, there is not much anyone can do at the moment to combat this, but as I follow the story more, I will update. Out.



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Finals, Murshaq, 5 hour energy.

If there are any people who read this regulary, which I severely doubt, I am on a finals hiatus and will resume updating in 2-3 days. In the meantime…

This man is my hero. If you are somehow unaware of his recent exploits, namely involving Rick Santelli, Jim Cramer and Tucker Carlson, I highly suggest you google that shit asap. John Stewart is providing us with a necessary media check. Hate him if you want, but he is single handedly keeping some very powerful voices in line. Thank you Mr. Stewart.

john stewart.

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I owe 25…Hotels, man. Part 2.

1 Dilke House, Malet St. looks exactly how I expected a place called “Dilke House” located in central London to look. It is three or four stories of ornately molded cement until about midway down where it turns into a patchwork of brick and tall barred windows. We hurry down the steps past the black, iron wrought fence, pointed tips guarding us as we go. The door is locked, but we know the secret code, C1245  zed. The last zed is important and we all love it. Walking in, to our left is the office where all of the AIFS employees who get to deal with us work. Most of them are not much older than us, and have already partied and travelled with us. They feel more like friends than anything else. As Ranier and I enter this room, Ged lurks about mischievously in the background and we are greeted by Alex Lopez. Alex is the only American employee at this office. She is from Texas but went to Stanford and is therefore a perfect mixture of country twang and bay area hipster. She welcomes us with an audacious “SUP Y’ALL!?” I respond to this by making a mental checklist.

1. Find and destroy her boyfriend. [ ]

2. Seduce and marry her. [ ]

I am doubtful and yet optimistic about this outcome. Ranier and I discuss important topics with Alex such as “Where all that equipment be going?” and what the cheapest way to get drunk is.  We want to talk to Kieren as well, but he is sitting in the corner, typing zealously, dutifully engrossed in his work. We cross through the entry way and into the computer lab. This room is full of our friends, and not only from the Northern California group. Friends from L.A. and Washington and San Jose are all rapidly entering and exiting the room, writing papers, or perusing the World Wide Web. We spy our good friend Erik Sullivan Faussner purchasing plane tickets from RyanAir in the corner. We go to talk to him and his deep baritone voice penetrates and then rises above all other sounds in the room. He tells us for the seventh time about the time he got drugged at a frat party with his bros and woke up wearing a tutu in a cactus. This story will never get old. Seriously.

Email has been checked, Facebook has been updated and we are all starving. Ten or twelve of us all walk, once again, across the street and up the stairs to the cafeteria. This cafeteria is ineffably better than any other I have been to and is more like a restaurant. As we enter, the gossiping voices of the many students already eating echoe off the curved glass ceiling. This room looks more like an atrium or green house than a cafeteria. We push as many tables and chairs together as we can and go up to order. I order the fish and chips. It is reasonably priced and always gets me full. Our numbers appear on the board above the pickup window and we each run up to get our food. We sit together at the long table and prattle on about everything going on in everyone’s lives. I eat my fish, chips, salad and mushy peas. No one likes these, but I am enthralled with them. Before we know it, it is 1:30 and everyone heads to their classes.

Entering room 2C, Ellen Kruse is getting her books and laptop out and hooking it up to the projector. Sydney, Tracie and Gina sit in the front of the room. James, Ranier, B and I sit in the back. This class will be a bit different than our earlier one. None of us has done the reading and Ellen’s voice is going. She will be typing her lecture about Ovid’s Metamorphoses. For the next two hours we complete that mornings crossword puzzle and attempt to name all 150 Pokemon. Ellen eventually realizes she has continued class for 15 minutes longer than she should have and releases us. Everyone explodes out of the building.

B has joined Ranier and I and we decide to do a little retail therapy at Oxford Circus. We realize this will require us to get on the Central Line, transferring to the Northern. For this we have to get to the Goodge street station which is luckily only blocks away. We turn the corner and begin walking. We pass shops on our left selling antique books, delicious looking and expertly decorated cakes and minimalist furniture. We turn another corner and cross the street, making sure not to be run over by the fanatical driving of the taxis. We now pass small fruit stands and the Carphone Warehouse, where we all went at the beginning of our time here to buy cell phones. We all have the same, tiny, light beige Nokia that lets us call and text each other, which we of course do constantly. We never forget to Top Up. One of the best features of this phone is the ability to assign a little avatar to each contact. These ranged from a blonde and freckled child to musical notes and dragons. It is very fun. We continue down the street though, nearing our destination.

                We enter the tube station and head down the lift, board the train, and make it to our transfer point. Luckily the trains come very often and we don’t have to wait long. One nice thing about the different lines is the variety of architecture at each station. Even the insides of the trains differ greatly. Some are laid out very similarly to BART at home, others more like the Metro in Paris, and still others have comfy, couch-like, bucket seats. These are my favorites. We finally arrive at Oxford circus and hundreds of people exit the trains. We are pushed arm to arm by the masses and force our way to the surface, gasping for air, drowning in a sea of people. Relief does not come though, for Oxford Circus is a bustling beehive of activity, just as crowded if not more than the tube cars. We cross the street and enter Topshop.

Ranier and I head upstairs while B heads downstairs. She is probably looking for her twelfth pair of Uggs. Ranier and I enter the men’s section and are confronted with hundreds more people. The aisles are busy. The streets are busy. This city is busy…and it always is. We all return downstairs eventually, empty handed. Nothing seems to have caught our eye today, but we will try again. The pound continues to slip against the dollar and not shopping almost seems like a waste. Our rampant American consumerism is not foreign in this city. B heads off on her own path home. She is a homestay kid who lives in Musswell Hill and she has a long tube and then bus ride ahead of her. The bus ride is more fun though. When you sit on the second story, right in the front, on the iconic, vibrantly red, double-decker busses, it feels as if you are flying.

Ranier and I make the necessary tube transfers and eventually arrive back at our flat. Andy and James are here too now. We all sit in the living room on our laptops. We fight over who gets to play what music, who ate whose last bag of crisps, and whether or not Paul Newman is gay. James is sure that he is. James is an idiot. We do this for a couple hours. All of us make a half-hearted attempt at reading or writing papers but no one succeeds. We will leave our homework until the last minute or beg for extensions. We are too excited to work. It is Wednesday which means tonight is Karaoke night. Everyone goes to Karaoke, even some of our teachers. Drinks are cheap and fun permeates the air. We have a couple hours before we need to leave though and James, Ranier and I decide to get dinner before heading over to the Sullivan Girl’s house. The obvious choice for dinner is Thai Taste. This is the tiny Thai restaurant just across the street from our flat. They have some of the best Chicken Pad Thai that any of us has ever tasted. It is reasonably priced at £6 and comes quickly. We call and order. We are lazy and tell them our customer number, 169, so that they will deliver it to us. Because we have spent over £15 we get one small can of coke. This is the worst deal ever because it is comically too small for three people to split. Ranier of course wants it. James and I don’t object. The food gets here and we dig in. Our chopsticks blur as we quickly scarf down the delicious noodles. As soon as we are finished we layer up and head out.

The Sullivan girls are Tracie, Sydney, Gina, Fraser, Nichelle, Kari and Melissa. We met them in our classes and quickly began hanging out with them a majority of the time. James and Frasier have recently begun dating and seem to really like each other. The dynamic between them is extremely entertaining to the rest of us, so everyone is happy for this. The girls live three blocks down Cromwell, on the corner of Cromwell Rd and Earl’s Court. We exit left of our apartment and pass the internet Cafés and Sainsbury grocers. We pass row after row of beautifully decorated Kensington flats and peak inside the windows as we pass. The three of us walk in unison and our pace is quick. We reach their flat and click the button to get buzzed in. We hear the buzzer start and the heavy door click to unlock. We know that they can see us in their camera, but pretend to be nonchalant and not look at it. We walk in and head to the lift. The lift is mirrored on all four walls and creates the illusion that we are standing amongst infinity. The doors open on floor six and we head inside.

When we get in, Big Rob and Brian Chinnery Donovan LaDow are already here. Fraser yells hello and quickly disappears into her room with James. This is the last time we will see them tonight. Rob has brought over a four pack of Strongbow Super and we start to pre-game. Brian is in the bathroom with Melissa and Nichelle cutting hair, crocheting a frock or possibly inventing cold fusion. His skills are reportedly limitless. Kari is pouring leftover whiskey into tea cups, cereal bowls and any object or item that has the possibility of holding liquid. We drink and the warm, bitter sensation stings our tongues and throats, settling momentarily in our stomachs before the warmth begins to rise to our cheeks. I slowly make my way to one of the flat’s five balconies. This main balcony is bursting at the seams with memories. Its cold steel textured floor and black railings are ripe with the beginnings of romance, deep conversations and laughter. The paint is chipped from countless nights spent sitting here, engrossed in blankets and each other. The view is nothing short of breathtaking and looks across a hidden London borough. The cobblestone streets are quiet and reflect the moonlight that shines down on them. Ornate, ancient chimneys jut up towards the stars, percolating the sky with their vast numbers. The overall vista could easily be the backdrop of a Dicken’s novel.  It is calming out here. I walk out into the cold and stand, looking out across the expanse, hoping something will happen, knowing it will not. Moments later my wishful thinking is interrupted by a rapping on the glass.

It’s time to go. Gina is staying in because she doesn’t feel well and wants to draw pictures of her new puppy Sir Piccadilly, Duke of Zanzabar. She is excited that later Sex Education will be on BBC4, followed by everyone’s favorite show, Embarrassing Teenage Bodies. The rest of us head out.

We walk left down Earl’s Court. This road dazzles our eyes through the dark. A plethora of pubs, Indian restaurants, liquor stores and cheap kebab kiosks blink their prices at us through brightly lit bulbs. We take the tube back to school on the Piccadilly line. We walk the same route we did that very same morning, though at night, the dynamic is much different. The long boulevards and tall buildings seem mysterious and ancient. We return to the entrance of the ULU and flash our University of London ID cards to the bouncer and bound up the steps. The clamor of voices and clinking of glasses becomes increasingly loud with each progressive step.

We finally reach the school pub, The Duck and Dive, and see a hundred or so British and international students shouting wildly. We realize that the football match is not yet over and they are all watching the screen. It quickly does end though, and the stark division of Tottenham and Chelsea fans immediately forget their differences and begin to socialize. Karaoke night is very popular because all pints of light beer are only £1.20p. We find a table. It is a sturdy, black surface with picnic style benches. We like this table because it is close to the stage. More and more AIFS students continually arrive and the pile of coats gets larger and denser by the minute. Many of us head to the bar to order our drinks. I drink Foster’s, as do most of us. Erik drinks whiskey. Kari drinks Guinness. Andy pays £12.50p for a pitcher of Redbull and vodka. He will later regret this. Sign-ups for karaoke begin and students rush the stage. While this goes on, trips to the bar continue, our pockets growing lighter and our indulgences beginning to manifest themselves less subtly. The noise levels of the pub echo more and more as time ticks by. Sydney makes Tracie and I pose for pictures. We change our opposing facial expressions rapidly and Tracie shakes her fist at me. Finally the lights dim.

The Karaoke master himself, Takeshi, takes the stage, dressed in his usual attire. Just like every week he wears a vibrant and busy Hawaiian shirt and khaki pants. His glasses reflect the spotlights that are aimed at him. He begins announcements that never change.

“Hello…and Welcome! To Takeshi’s Karaoke! Ten pm to Midnight! Every Wednesday! Free drink vouchers for the first four singers and if you sing well we will vote and you have the chance to win £20!”

What could be better than winning free drink vouchers, or better yet, an extra £20 to spend at the pub? None of us know. Takeshi takes his place at the back of the stage, behind his Macbook, amongst numerous knobs and dials. First up is Ranier singing N*Sync with big Joe on backup. Ranier showcases his dancing skills, mimicking the dance moves from the music videos that he won’t admit to having seen. We cheer in unison. Next is the British student who looks vaguely like Jack Black with metal hair. He sings Gay Bar just like every week. Each time he sings it his rhythmic humping of the mic stand becomes more elaborate and I wonder when it will stop. Probably never. Other students we don’t know enter and leave the stage. We boo at most of them. Occasionally there are excellent vocal performances, but these are few and far between. It gets closer to midnight and by this point the majority of us are drunk. Even Mary Scott and Ellen Kruse have joined in on some of the fun. Erik stumbles onto the stage. He begins his rendition of We are the Champions by Queen and the crowd goes wild. There are about 30 of us from AIFS here tonight, a sizeable group, and we all push together to get to the front of the stage, singing loudly and in unison. You can no longer hear Erik singing, and that says something. Arms intertwined, we rock back and forth, stumbling through the verses and screaming the chorus. B somehow finds her way on stage, mouth wide as ever and shares the mic with Erik. Copious cameras are flashing, colored lights are dancing through the air, and the scene feels surreal. We sing through the song’s entirety.

                The hands on the clocks, as well as our cell phones and watches slide to the twelve and it is time to go home. Still tangled together, we all grab for our warm clothes, but don’t need them. Our inebriation will take the place of a jacket for the ride home. As a couple hundred of us students spill into the darkened streets and begin our trek to the tube station we continue to sing loudly. We carry each other and hold hands. We dance as we walk and are inarticulate. These moments are bliss. As our warmth and fervor parts the cold I feel happy. For one of the few times in my life I am totally and completely content. I am happy and whole here. Both our past experiences and future endeavors in this place excite me. I am not alone in these feelings. Many of us will not admit it, but though the elation of the evening is fresh in our minds, in the back stirs the nagging knowledge that in 47 or however many more days, we will be boarding a plane. This plane will leave Heathrow airport, arching over the tundra of Greenland and gliding across the Atlantic, over Canada, and down through Illinois, over the snow capped Rocky Mountains, across the deserts of Nevada, and finally touching down in San Francisco. This plane will separate us from this place, as well as each other, and though we have made countless plans to see one another it will be different. The pressures of becoming adults will take their toll and responsibilities will once again become evident.

                This is not important right now. For tonight we are young and we are free. We reach Russell Square Tube station at 12:24, only minutes before the last train leaves. The gate outside is partially closed and the attendants usher us inside. We reach the lift with seconds to spare but know we will all be okay. We push together happily to fit more and more of us into the cramped compartment. When the last person has finally cleared the border of the steel doors we let them shut. Every square inch of this room is populated by smiles and laughter. The doors slowly close, and the sounds of our immense pleasure descend into the century old tunnels, growing fainter and fainter, until they are gone completely, and the station is once again silent.


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The Fantastic Mr. Anderson

I am a Wes Anderson fan. I’ve loved every movie he’s ever made and they have yet to disapoint in any way.  Rushmore basically defined the formative period of my youth and yes, I’m aware that Wes Anderson is all over the book/website Things White People Like.

One thing I have always wondered about is what he does in his spare time, and apparently hes been making some commericials. I knew that he had directed in and starred in the American Express “My Life, My Card” ad and had done some stuff for AT&T, but what I recently discovered while purusing http://www.Slashfilm.com (best film industry blog on teh internetz, thank you James) was that he recently entered into the realm of Japanese advertising. Not just that either, but Japanese advertising with American, A list, mega stars. A few months ago Anderson and Brad Pitt teamed up to shoot this commericial for Japanese cell phones…that do…stuff….? I’m not really sure what the ad is promoting about the phones, nor could I find out after some research. I can’t embed the video…for legal reasons. Take a look, its only 30 seconds.


Like all of his movies, Anderson’s style is so incredibly, unmistakably his. I’ve been thinking of a way to try and describe Ansderson’s style on my own, but someone else’s words suit this cause perfectly. 

“Wes Anderson is known for making independent-type stylistic films that mix poignancy and dry humor. Examples of his humor include malapropism and understatement. About his American Express commercial, Anderson states that his films, “point out the beauty in flaws and vice versa.” Anderson’s films, visually, often make use of close-ups, quick pans, and slow motion shots. He often uses folk and early rock as the background-music in scenes. His often damaged characters are viewed in a compassionate light. The depiction of escapism and companionship through chemicals seems to be one of his trademarks also. In each of his films, one or more of the main characters smokes cigarettes or marijuana, excessively drinks, takes pills, etc. To accompany the cigarettes in his films he also features Zippo lighters prominently; from Dignan in Bottle Rocket lighting firecrackers to Raleigh St. Clair in The Royal Tenenbaums. Additionally, his films often feature a heavy-smoking female character. A recurring character in Anderson’s films is a respected middle aged male who is essentially a fraud. All of Anderson’s films, with the exception of The Darjeeling Limited, end with slow motion sequences – although The Darjeeling Limiteds third to last shot is in slow motion. Also, with the exception of the independently financed Bottle Rocket, his films employ a similar visual style, primarily through the use of vivid primary colors. He is known for deliberate, methodical cinematography, using 90 degree camera angles, parallel and perpendicular arrangement of forms, and frequent use of symmetry. All of Anderson’s films utilize the font Futura Bold in either the opening credits, title sequences or closing credits and is also displayed in other printed materials used throughout his films. Each film also uses Futura Bold to display the main closing credits in a particular format where the first name is displayed in a title case and the last name is displayed in all caps (except The Darjeeling Limited which uses capitals for full names). Furthermore, almost every Wes Anderson movie contains a shot of one or more characters under water.”

Thank you wikipedia.

I will add though that the fashion in Anderson’s films is a HUGE deal. Google fashion and Wes Anderson together and you will get copious results that all basically tote “Where Wes Anderson leads, designers follow.” The style is quirky, preppy, geek, high fashion. You can read volumes about his hiring of Marc Jacobs to create the custom luggage in Darjeeling Limited. Their is so much detail put into it all, it is hard to imagine how he organizes everything in his head. I won’t get more into that though. There are many style and fashion blogs that have already written extensively on this topic. 

The last thing I want to mention is the upcoming stop motion animation, Anderson directed, produced and written adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

For anyone unaware, Roald Dahl is the children’s writer of James of the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda fame. Considering how highly stylized all of the film adaptations of those stories are, coupling Dahl and Anderson sounds like a logical and fantastical choice. I’d love to see something between Anderson and Terry Gilliam at some point…though I can imagine some butting of heads over creative control. Anyway, most of the Anderson regulars are on board for voices in the film including Bill Murray, Anjelica Houston and Jason Schwartzmann. Cate Blanchett is voicing Mrs. Fox and Meryll Street as a yet to be named character. George Clooney is the lead voice. I can’t help but wonder if this grew out of his kinship to Bradd Pitt or vice versa, with the commercial spawning from the Clooney as Mr. Fox?  Or neither. Okay, thats enough giddy fanboy-ing.

I’ll be posting part 2 of my London chronicle in a few days. 

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I owe 25….Hotels, man. Part 1.

I’ve been dreaming a lot lately, about London. In regards to my own reflection and sanity, I’ve wanted to chronicle, in detail, my memories of an average day of my time living there. For as long as I remember, one of my life goals has been to live in London, and I must say, it was everything I had hoped for and more. London represented so much to me: the level of society I’ve always wanted to experience, the history, the culture, the opportunity to be totally out of my comfort zone, my first time living alone, and a chance to start over, devoid of any sort of reputation, good or bad, that I may have. So here, for my own sake, is an average day beginning at Ashburn Gardens.

I wake up to the sound of my cell phone, buzzing its alarm in high pitched midi tones. The room is dark, but light peeks through the blackout curtains that cover the tall, barred windows of James and my room. As we are in the basement, I can hear the tap, tap, tap of feet walking by outside, and their shadows pierce the rays of light beaming in. One leg hangs off the edge of my bed, considering it is barely wide enough to fit me. I’ll never know how James and Frasier both fit comfortably so many nights. I get up and open the door, momentarily waking James as he tells me to “shut the fuck up.” He means it lovingly though. Entering the hallway, I spy Ranier sitting at the kitchen table, peaking over his laptop. He starts yelling out the weather for the day but suddenly turns on music. It is Alive with the Glory of Love by Say Anything. We listen to this song every single morning before class and shout the lyrics. It amps us up for the day. Our kitchen and living room  are constantly filled with music. Though James will not participate most of the time, Ranier, Andy and I have developed a tradition of certain music at certain times. For example, when Ranier cooks we listen to hardcore music and wear bandanas, chopping fervently and singing as we prepare the various meats and spices. I think of this as I enter the kitchen area and become overwhelmed by the smell of vinegar and soy sauce. As always, the sink is overflowing with dirty dishes and pungent water. Next to it, the stove is cluttered with last night’s pots and pans. We had family dinner which is usually chicken adobo. I clear a space on the stove, turn it on, and put the tea kettle on after filling it with water. I run down the hall towards the bathroom for a shower. As I do, I almost slam into Andy who is just returning to our flat…at 9:30am. 

“Where ya been Andy???” asks Ranier

“Picking up some sandwhiches at the Tesco?” I add

“Oh, you know, just making my rounds.” answers Andy.

What else. Making his rounds is Andy’s default answer to what he was doing, but we all know he has been on the phone with his girlfriend for hours. We accept it. I get in the shower and the hot water immediately sprays out of the plastic showerhead. Everyone in the building complains about their water pressure but we are especially gifted with no shortage of it. Ranier’s hundreds of full, half used, and empty shampoo sample packets litter the floor of the shower. I hop up and see that James has gotten up. He’s listening to Morrisey and reading Slashfilm in the living room.  I go to my now boiling water and pour it into a mug, adding my packet of English Breakfast as well as a little milk. James scoffs at this. His tea is black. I drink quickly as Ranier is stuffing books into his bag. I grab my backpack and we run out the door, up the stairs, through the lobby, glancing at the humongous, antique framed looking mirror as we pass it. It’s now 10:15 and we don’t want to be late for Patrice’s class at 11. 

I pull open the heavy wooden door and we greet the day. The cool, crisp London air rushes into my lungs. I love it. The streets are busy. Cars and scooters mingle amongst each other on Cromwell Road. We cross the street, commenting on the Bentleys, Aston Martins and Lamborghini that are parked on our street. Ranier notes that he thinks Madonna lives near us. We walk down Cromwell, passing the Waitrose on the right. Two homeless guys rest under a dirty, stained, down comforter. We cut through the Gloucester Mall to avoid the cold. The sun has yet to warm the day to a reasonable temperature, and Ranier always thinks his v-neck t-shirt and red wool scarf will be enough. It never is. As we arrive at the Gloucester Road Tube Station, we pass the guy in the sweatpants and black leather fanny pack, silently selling THE BIG ISSUE to support the homeless. I wonder to myself if anyone has every purchased that magazine. It seems doubtful.

 We descend into the tube station, sliding our Oyster cards across the sensor, clad in their vibrant yellow and blue IKEA cases. The lift doors are closing as we approach them, so we’ll take the stairs…it’s only 78 steps. We sprint down the spiral staircase and run through the labyrinthine tunnels towards the Piccadilly platform. A train has just arrived and we jump in. 

“Please mind the gap!” a chipper voice informs us over the loudspeaker. We will hear this at least 20 more times before arriving at our destination. It’s just after rush hour so we both get seats. Ranier sits down and immediately falls asleep. I pick up a discarded morning copy of the London Lite. The headlines are much the same: Gordon Ramsay beats his wife, the economy is worsening, Arsenal won, and Europe is optimistic about not-yet-president-elect Barack Obama. I count the stops ahead of us, 15. I look away and attempt to name all of zone 1 on the Piccadilly and impress myself when I can do so. Earl’s Court, Gloucester Road, Knightsbridge, Hyde Park Corner, Green Park, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, Covent Garden, Holborn, Russell Square and King’s Cross Saint Pancras, each stop conjures up memories of a time, an event, or any other number of things that took place near them. We finally reach Russell Square and dash off the train and up the stairs towards the lift. We push through the crowd of people, all bundled up in scarves, coats, and warm winter hats. We make it on the lift and wait for the doors to close. They begin to beep as travelers attempt to fit one last person into the windowless room. As it ascends towards the street level, I look at the advertisements and laugh at the fact that I continually see graffiti on ads around London, only the graffiti is there to correct spelling or grammar errors in the ads themselves.

The doors open up towards the floor to ceiling, glass tiled windows looking out into the street. We turn right and slide our Oyster cards once more across the sensors, lightly brushing them, as the barriers part ways to allow us through. We exit to the left and start walking. The newspaper stand is busy as always, selling snacks, coffee, periodicals, and an assortment of leather goods and luggage. People busily try to hand us ads for calling cards and charities, but we are poor students, who want to save our money for the countless nights of debauchery ahead of us. We cross the street, dodging cars, jumping puddles and weaving between slower pedestrians. We cut to the right, the shortcut we learned after many mornings of having to walk all the way left, past the British Museum, with the big granite lions outside, guarding the entrance. We walk up the steps between King’s College and the School of Oriental and African Studies. The familiar smell of roast chicken is thick in the air, and Ranier and I both start moaning about how hungry we are. The brightly lit, neon orange, light up palm trees stick out like a sore thumb amidst the dreary gray morning. We traverse a few more corners, walking amongst the rest of the 18-24 year old University of London students. Finally we are at the entrance of ULU.

As we near the entryway, we see the faces of our friends, entering and exiting the building, running across the street between ULU and 1 Dilke House, the AIFS Student center. Ranier and I say hi to everyone. Fraser is sitting on the wooden benches outside, smoking a cigarette, talking to Melissa. We walk inside and to the left, into the cafe. Like clockwork, Kari has just gotten there, and is walking towards the coffee machine. I meet her for our morning ritual. She tells me that “academic Kari” is absent today. We get our coffee, pressing the black coffee button, and filling the paper cup. I add my milk and two sugars, stirring rapidly. We approach the counter and pay the 95 p. As several of us rush up the stairs, it gets warmer and warmer.

By the time we have climbed the three sets of stairs and entered our class room, everyone is panting, sweating, rapidly throwing off scarves and coats and hanging them on the rack in the back of the room. B is already there, sitting in the middle of the table, of the middle row, middle column. Ranier sits on the left, I on the right. B whips out her notebook and shows me the epic dragon she has been drawing. It is cartoony with lots of shading. This is what she is most proud of. B is becoming a master of shading with ballpoint pens. To the upper right sits Robin, Sydney and Gina. Sydney looks at me and yells “ISSSSAAAACCCCC!” remembering the time we searched for hours to find ice cream cones while on tour near Stonehenge.  Behind me, directly to my right is Kari, and next to her Melissa. If this was Intercultural Communication, Fraser would sit in between them and would already be flirting with Mark Nelson but it’s not. Patrice walks in and we all get excited. She bounces to the front of the class and greets us with a huge Patrice smile. We all start talking to her about a million things at once, her excitedly commenting on each of us. Then she begins to lecture. The class is Magic, Witchcraft and Religion. It’s interesting, and we talk about Santeria, but eve ntually, as we all sip our coffee, begin to doodle, pass notes, and tune Patrice out. Ranier starts munching on his morning meal. It’s the usual, a stick of beef jerky, a bag of chips and a Redbull. Breakfast of champions. I talk often in class, and call Patrice, Patrish, after the odd little man who came in and lectured us about Witchcraft in England. I look around the room, scoffing at Marissa, glaring at Marilyn, and blowing kisses to Sophia. Eventually class ends and we all hurry out the door, grabbing our coats as we go. Most of us run down the stairs, out the door, through the passage of cold air, and down the steps to Dilke House.


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Get ready for some Day After Tomorow type shit…

First off, read this article.


Secondly, no one probably did, or at least not in entirety. I will now prepare for you a very brief executive summary.

-Leading scientists and climatatologists have agree that in in the next 100 years the earth will warm between 2 and 6.4 degrees celsius and that earth’s population will reach roughly 9 billion.

-If the earth warms by 4 degrees celsius, there will be a dramatic shift in world climates. This will result in…

-Loss of 30% of coastal lands due to rising sea levels and loss in 90% of sea life due to increased acidity levels.

-The rapid growth of the worlds deserts, making over 1/3 of the current  earth lands basically waterless, totally unprone to vegitation, and mostly uninhabitable. But wait, theres more!

-Conservative estimates are that this would quickly decrease the earth’s population down to about 1 billion. Thats 8 BILLION deaths. 

-The only places that would be really condusive to habitation and food growth will be places like Canada, Russia, parts of Northern Europe, Scandinavia, New Zealand, Southern Australia and the newly 75% ice free Antarctica!

-Forget Lions and Tigers, if it moves, we will have eaten it to satisfy our carniverous needs, but the world will be primarily vegetarian by this point. 

These estimates are not even a worst case scenario, just a possible one. This is in OUR lifetime. The brains behind this predict this outcome unless a 70% drop in our carbon emissions is reached before 2015. Currently we are achieving a 3% drop per year. Basically we’re fucked. In light of this, it’s time that I compose a list of skills and items necessary for life in the post apocalyptic, waterworld/planet of the apes-esque world of tomorow!


So, what immediately springs to mind is the fact that I’m not proficient with a crossbow, obviously. That shouldn’t be too difficult. More importantly, I need to obtain one of these…

1233211458621…because if I’m hungry around 2076 and need a snack, apparently I’m going to need to take down a rhino, or possibly a giraffe. The plus side of the mass extinction of our furry friends is that I’ve always wondered what a bald eagle burger or a polar bear steak would taste like. 

Next, I’ve always deemed a neccesary skill to have would be the ability to pilot a small blimp. I’m not talking about anything of Hindenburg stature, but a small dirigible, like the Nazi’s used in WWII or the ones that fly over ball games and advertise tires. Fuel will be either non existant or in short supply. One thing we will have plenty of is helium and/or hydrogen. Savvy.

The last thing I will list here and now, as I need to eat my Hungarian mushroom soup for lunch, (while there is still a Hungary), is a sidekick. A sidekick is extremely helpful for navigating your way through the massive sand dunes and fiery lakes of tomorow. They can be indispensible for taking bullets, holding down wild game while you bite into them, and playing cards to pass the time. I figure mine will probably look something like this…or  possibly this…



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Too hip or not too hip?

In the ever-fun-to-read publication, Adbusters, which I became acquainted with during my time with Julio and Brians girlfriend in the bathroom last year, there has been a very interesting cover story for some time. The article, Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization by Douglass Haddow,


is all about the author’s apparent total alienation from “hipsters” and everything associated with them, as well as his immediate disgust upon familiarizing himself with hipster culture. 

I really, honestly did like this article and agree with many of the author’s points. I won’t get into this here, but I would encourage people to read the article. One thing I disagree with, which it seemed was implied in his writing, is that Haddow sheds negative light on everything these hiptsters like. Let me make a short list of things that do not make one a hipster.

1. Vintage Camera Equipment

As a photographer who learned photography with analog equipment and progressed to working totally digitally, I am sick of digital in many aspects. I fucking love printing in a darkroom, the smell of fixer, cutting paper, cable releases and twin lense reflex cameras. I haver very strong opinions about how the advent of and continued evolution of digital camera equipment is cheapening the “art” and value of photography. Liking polaroids, holgas, and Canon AE-1s DOES NOT MAKE YOU A HIPSTER.


2.  Saturated, Solid Colored Clothing

Obviously American Apparel springs immediately to mind.  This is unfortunate. I like some things at AA. For instance, their zip up hoodies are like wearing butter…and I mean that as a good thing. Wearing a selction of bright, over-saturated, solid colors is something I think many people have been doing since before they were able to dress themselves. I know my mom dressed me like a fucking mcdonald’s ball pit when I was a toddler. Personally I think a lot of graphic t-shirts are tacky. WEARING BRIGHT SOLID COLORS DOES NOT MAKE YOU A HIPSTER.


3. RayBan Wayfarers

This pisses me off a lot. I personally have been scoffed at for wearing these. The thing about Wayfarers is that they can be made to look like shit. For example the plethora of neon colored, Jackson Pollock-esque spatter painted, glasses are not attractive. Wayfarers though, and even all the cheap, off-brand, plastic ones, are TIMELESS. These have been worn since 1952, by many people, not hipsters. Celebrities such as JFK, George Harrison, the majority of the RatPack, Audrey Hepburn, Roy Orbison, Andy Warhol, etc, etc… These have never been out of style. My only point in that wearing Wayfarers DOES NOT MAKE YOU A HIPSTER.


Though there are other things I could drone on about as I sit in my philosophy class listening to the TA blabber on about how he grades, I will make one more claim.

4. Epic Animal Shirts and Plaid

I like animals. I think that wolves are awesome. They hunt in packs, can blend in with the snow, and make exciting howling noises. I think dinosaurs are awesome. The fact that giant, carniverous, spike laiden, long necked, armor plated beasts roamed our earth a hundred million years ago excites me. I think these things look cool. Perhaps I want to proclaim these feelings on a shirt. Furthermore, I like the outdoors. I like camping. During these times, one may want a warm, comfortable and sturdy material, made from wool. Many of these are plaid shirts. They sell shirts like this, as well as epic animal shirts, IN the wilderness. WEARING THESE THINGS DOES NOT MAKE YOU A HIPSTER.




I am totally aware of how incredibly shallow and materialistic this all sounds.  I’m just really getting annoyed by the fact that myself and others,  get called out as “hipsters” for wearing, or having interest in the aforementioned things. I feel like Julios opinion of me will be lowered for writing this as well. Oh well. That is my rant. The end.

P.s. on the subject of t-shirts, if anyone reads this, and I don’t think anyone does, other than KP, possibly Julio, and definitely not Rebecca Wage, please buy this for me.



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