Spring Sounds Like Weezer

[spring]In the past few weeks, our campus has been bathed in more sun than it’s seen in months. Even if it hasn’t made a noticeable difference in your mental health, many students will agree the campus has a renewed feeling, and passersby have a bigger spring in their step.
With this renewed feeling, many people are listening to music that they weren’t listenening to during other times of the year, tunes they link to the season.[amy5]
“It’s getting to be Weezer’s The Blue Album weather out again,” anthropology junior Laura Bell said. “Every spring I get the same feelings as I did my freshman year of high school when that CD was on repeat in my CD player. That feeling of knowing nothing matters but friends, being outdoors and good music.
“To quote ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower,’” she said, “’it’s that infinite feeling. I don’t know how else to describe it. Ah well, I’m just excited for it to be spring.’”
The idea that seasons can play a significant part in people’s moods is not a new concept. More specifically, light and music have long been associated with putting people in good or bad spirits.
In the first century, Aulus Cornelius Celsus, an encyclopedist and author of De Medicina argued to be one of the greatest Roman medical writers, said:
Live in rooms full of light
Avoid heavy food
Be moderate in the drinking of wine
Take massage, baths, exercise and gymnastics
Fight insomnia with gentle rocking or the sound of running water
Change surroundings and take long journeys
Strictly avoid frightening ideas
Indulge in cheerful conversation and amusements
Listen to music.

Sounds like good advice. Two centuries ago, light and music were among the advice for a healthy life, and the change in daily sunlight intake is one defining feature of the seasons.
Although to varying degrees, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), or seasonal depression, affects one to two percent of adults. Usually occurring in the winter months it’s also referred to as the “winter blues.” But women are two to four times as likely as men to experience it, Chris Larson, assistant professor of psychology and social science, said.
“About 10 percent of the population suffers from subsyndromal SAD, a milder version also known as ‘winter blues,'” Larson said.
[jenny]Dr. Michael Terman of the psychiatry department at Columbia University presented a much larger estimate of the disorder in a statement on the Center for Environmental Therapeutics Web site. He said, “as many as half the people in middle and extreme latitudes experience some discomfort that is associated with seasonal changes.”
Of these, a much smaller proportion (about five percent in the United States) will experience more severe symptoms, including depression, Terman stated.
Perhaps the numbers are difficult to estimate because people experience SAD to such varying degrees, and many may not examine their moods closely enough to notice the differences seasonal changes make.
International relations junior Ashleigh Burgess is one who has taken notice of her moods through the seasons. “Winter is good at first, with falling snow on branches,” she said. “Eventually, though, depression sets in and I want to see the sun.”
Burgess also notices how music, much like the amount of light in the seasons, can affect her moods. “Music is very mood-oriented and definitive for me, so specific songs and artists can invoke a lot of emotion, whether it be happiness or loss, sadness or excitement.”
Her mood dictates her music choices throughout the year. In the winter, Burgess finds herself listening to artists such Damien Rice, Joni Mitchell, Travis, Beck’s Sea Change and Oh, Inverted World by The Shins.
Fall is a time for Coldplay’s Parachutes, White Ladder by David Gray and Sweet Baby James by James Taylor, she said.
Burgess plays a lot of Ani DiFranco come summer, as well as The Black Keys, Jack Johnson, Sublime’s Greatest Hits, Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Californication and Weezer’s The Blue Album.
And Madonna’s Immaculate Collection, Daft Punk’s Discovery and The Hard Lesson’s live EP are guaranteed mood-altering music for Burgess, any time of the year.
Lyman Briggs freshman Anna Wasson’s music choices also vary with the changing weather and daylight throughout the year.
“When fall comes, I get ‘mind-y,’ not moody; I suppose I become more grounded,” Wasson said. “I like to listen to Renaissance-era music during the fall — Celtic or English folk stuff. Live whistle music is fun to listen to at the Michigan Renaissance Festival in Holly. Gryphon, a ’70s-era folk rock band, and Flook, a traditional Celtic band, have a ‘harvest time’ sound.”
Wasson said that as the weather gets chillier, she gets more manic, which is both a positive change and a negative one.
“I can be really productive, but I can also get sick with anxiety,” Wasson said. “When I get like this, I like to listen to Mozart. Mozart’s stuff is insane. I also have a CD with Bach’s Inventions and Sinfonias, but Peter Serkin [the pianist] plays them too slow. I like to play them on the piano myself when I feel crazy — and I like to see how fast my fingers can fly!”
“When winter really sets in, and it’s cold and stark outside, a type of music that I think would be referred to as ‘Scandinavian symphonic prog’ is great to listen to,” Wasson said. “I think this is because Scandinavian folk music uses the minor keys a lot.”
This spring, Wasson said she’ll be trying out some 1970s progressive music.
“I’ve really clicked with it, she said. “Jethro Tull’s Songs from the Wood makes me think of forest clearings, flowers, mushrooms and Smurfs.”
As for summer, Wasson says she gets intense mood swings and always has to keep moving. [sarah5]
“For this reason I like ‘surface music,’ like Weird Al, VeggieTales and political satire stuff,” she said.
“There are two things that almost always make me feel chipper,” Wasson said, “sunshine and flutes. I feel so much better on sunnier days. Mid-Michigan is kind of bad in that respect.”
No one knows exactly why the seasons can be so mood-altering, Larson said. It could be a disruption in hormones like cortisol, secreted by the adrenal glands in response to any kind of physical or psychological stress. It may also have to do with retinal sensitivity to light, Larson added.
“Low winter temperatures may trigger the body to rest and disrupt circadian rhythms,” Larson said. As seasons change these circadian rhythms, close to our “internal clocks” can shift.
Seasons, then, may be having gradual jet lag effects on your body. Another likely cause of SAD is an increase of melatonin, a sleep-related hormone that can cause feelings of depression. The hormone is secreted at higher levels in the dark, according to the National Mental Health Association. Usually daylight triggers a slow in the hormone’s production, but those with SAD may still have too much, and are often treated with light therapy. Seasonal effects on moods will be greater with people prone to depression, and the seasons will be more likely to have a greater jet lag effect.
According to Larson, people who experience SAD to the greatest degrees are also those with conditions like panic disorder, social phobia and bulimia. Another common link to SAD is a disruption in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter strongly connected with mood and memory, which is triggered by the sun.
Larson said SAD rates begin to decline after age 50, when circadian rhythms also change, and by the age of 65 it is not particularly common.
But the connection between mood, music and memory seems very easy for college-age students to make.
“Music really depends with what time of the year you connect with it,” advertising junior Anthony Ciolino said.
Ciolino said Silverchair’s Diorama and Source Tags and Codes by Trail of Dead remind him of a past springtime, and so he gets in the mood to listen to them every spring.
“That’s the first time I listened to them a lot, and by listening to them, it was just a really happy time,” he said. “I had just gotten a new job, gotten over an ex-girlfriend, I was becoming closer with my friends, school was ending and my AP classes were over.”
Ciolino also links an artist’s mood and style with a certain season.
“Interpol’s album, Antics, actually came out the first day of fall last year, and it was so cold and miserable out,” he said. “You couldn’t have asked for a better day.”
Every year it seems like the Michigan winter will never break, but it’s spring once again. Get out your favorite lift-me-up music and step in to the sun. It’s bound to put you in a better mood.

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How To Be…The Ultimate Spring Breaker

It’s spring break once again. The time when college kids from across the country flood the streets, beaches and bars of exotic locales wearing as little clothing as possible. What better time is there? Take advantage of your spring breaker status this year by exceeding all those old blasé expectations of booze and beaches – take it to the next level and become the ultimate spring breaker. How to top last year’s drunken stint on “Girls Gone Wild,” you ask? Read on, my tanned friend, and discover the secrets of being an ultimate spring breaker.
Explore new ground. The art of an ultimate spring breaker is leaving a lasting impression that goes above and beyond what has already been done. Generations have danced in these streets, flashed many a boob and addressed Mexican police with various four-letter words; you will not leave your own mark unless you conquer new territory. This means not only having an outrageous game plan, but also sticking to it, no matter how many tequila shots you’ve had. Remember, what happens in Cancun stays in Cancun. The ultimate spring breaker understands this, and doesn’t just want to bend the old rules, but break new rules no one has even fathomed before.
[camera] Behave as though a camera is always on you. (Preferably one from basic cable; networks are just too tame.) Know that camera, love that camera – hell, make love to that camera. Draw attention to yourself by any means necessary. Dance, flirt, punch, kick, scream; from the moment you step off that plane, everything you do must be TV material. Remember, MTV may say it’s in South Padre, but it very well could be wherever you are, too. Never forget that. The last thing you want is to find yourself broadcast over the globe taking in the culture of the area while wearing something that doesn’t cling to your body by mere strings.
Speaking of which, stop wearing clothes that cover more than 10% of your body (or, just stop wearing clothes altogether). Tanning is obviously a must and should have commenced in early January, so by the time you peruse this helpful manual, you should be as bronze as an Olympic medal. If, by some freak accident, you failed to reach maximum levels of brown, don’t fret (it makes you look unattractive): there’s a simple fix. Don’t go to bed the first night and then sleep on the beach until sunset. Don’t forget to ask the locals about tide levels and how to repel crabs and jellyfish while you sleep. And be as friendly as possible – remember, you are on TV.
Document it. Don’t waste film with pictures of the sky, the ocean, the white sand or any interesting locals; you’ll want to save your memory card space for the friends that are going to drink the most and are already wearing the least. If this sounds like everyone you came with, a few other clues as to whom should get most of your camera time include: the guy who once wore a construction paper hat to a party and walked around ordering everyone to drink more, the girl who once threw your roommate’s TV out your third-story window and anyone who has ever snorted a shot of tequila.
If you are drunk (which should be approximately 80 percent of the time), tell everyone. Most people, especially those who aren’t drunk, don’t typically notice whether or not the person they are talking to is inebriated. This problem is easily solved by repeating this important tidbit of news every few sentences.
Assume a new identity for yourself. You could be an astronaut, a Vegas dancer or a surgeon; whatever makes you feel as sexy as you truly are. Remember, everyone there is probably a college student – you have to be more. Introducing yourself along with your imagined occupation will give you an edge on the other boring college students filling the bar.
Go ahead, be a hero. Times of celebration can also coincide with times of trauma, and with the community service experience from their probation officers, ultimate spring breakers are highly skilled at helping people. Where would the girl who cheats on her boyfriend every time she gets drunk be now if you weren’t always there to calm her down? Where would the guy that always wants to sing Salt ‘N Pepa be without you gently leading him away from the microphone? Surround yourself with drama and begin the heroics. It helps to always schlep along someone who can be guaranteed to either cry, fight or strip.
[beer] Never, never, never be swayed to leave a club with “hot locals.” They won’t believe you are an astronaut, they won’t take you anywhere that has foamy dance floors and they can outrun police faster than you can say, “Where’s my passport?”
Get up before sunset if you must, but only if there’s a happy hour at the pool bar. You may find yourself stuck waiting while someone is in jail or the hospital, or jail and then the hospital. If this happens, the only thing to do is explore the area – sober. Aquariums are a great place to meet fish. Ancient Mayan or Aztec ruins seem to be everywhere you look, plus Mayan funeral masks are more terrifying the less sober you are.
The rest is up to you. Ultimate spring breakers are born, not made, and these rules are merely a guide. As you prepare to return to East Lansing, you may feel as though you didn’t see enough; you want to experience more. That’s the way to think. While lagoons may get polluted, waterfalls may dry up and ruins may collapse, there will always be 50-cent shots resting on the washboard stomach of an exotic dancer, waiting for your return next March.

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Best You’ve Never Heard: The Hard Lessons

[hard3] The Hard Lessons can teach you a thing or two about the blues and the excitement of rock n roll, if only you’ll let them. The young band of a year and some months is coming to Lansing early next month and bringing their garage rock grooves with them for a high energy show filled with gritty blues twang, abounding energy and vocal sentiments that are both charming and catchy.
Already considered an essential band in Detroit’s garage rock revival, The Hard Lessons have an extremely impressive resume for only a year and a half in existence. After meeting in their classes together at Michigan State University, singer and organist Korin Louise Cox, better known as Ko Ko Louise and guitarist Agostino Vissocchi – call him Gin – formed in April 2003 after Gin discovered Ko Ko was an organ player.[lesson]
“He didn’t know at first. It was like he expected me to introduce myself as “Hi, I’m Ko Ko, I play the keys,” Ko Ko laughed.
Once they realized the possibilities of their musical collaborations, drummer and fellow Utica High alumni Christophe Zajac-Denek, better known as The Anvil, -and rightfully so if you’ve seen the drummer in action- completed the auspicious trio. Although they had attended the same high school they didn’t really know each other, and started talking about playing together only when they bumped into each other at the Magic Stick in Detroit in December 2002.
“When I go see a show, I love to see that the band loves what they’re doing,” Ko Ko said. “When I listen to a record I look for other things, but at a show its about making a connection with the audience through energy.”
So what bands have shown Ko Ko a good time lately? “I was in the Loger House in Detroit a couple days ago, I saw Whirlwind Heat,” Ko Ko said. “The band that opened was Lee Marvin Computer Arm, and it was just a really fun show with a lot of energy.”
The Hard Lessons are no strangers to their fellow bands, especially The Sights, who are good friends of The Hard Lessons, and the mutual fans they share. “It’s not like we go hide in some green room after we’re done playing,” she said. “We go out and see the same people that were at our shows at others, there’s really a great scene around East Lansing.”
On recording, The Hard Lessons are vibrant with loud, rasping rock and roll guitar, hard yet danceable beats, an addicting, punching organ and a boy/girl singing dynamic that always keeps things interesting. Both Gin and Ko Ko croon with a classic case of the blues, but counter it with an equal amount of fun and cheer. [hard1]
Justin Spindler, Music Director at WDBM The Impact went to elementary school with Christophe “The Anvil” and went to junior high with Augie. “The best thing I can say about The Hard Lessons,” he said, “is yes, they put on an excellent live show, but on top of that, they actually get out to other shows and they are one of the few bands that are more into the scene than just their band.”
MSU sophomore Anthony Ciolino is a huge fan the Detroit garage rock revival and has had the opportunity to see The Hard Lessons’ live show on multiple occasions. “I like them a lot because a most other college bands are stupid hippie jam bands or really crappy emo punk rock, and because they have a really great stage presence,” he said.
The Hard Lessons’ inspirations span across the music that resonates from their soulful vibe, not just the beginnings of garage rock in the 60’s. “They’re definitely a piece of it,” Ko Ko said. “If you follow rock and roll from the beginning, it’s impossible to ignore 60’s garage rock like MC5 and The Stooges, but another thing that really got me was Motown – my family was always listening to it and singing it. And our drummer was in a ton of jazz bands, rock and roll was a big step for him.”
“We’re all inspired by completely different things,” Gin said. “Our drummer especially has a record collection you wouldn’t expect for a guy in a rock band – a lot of jazz, lounge, Buena Vista Social Club type stuff. We all really dig soul and greasy R&B and of course Rock N Roll. We could list a thousand bands, but it doesn’t even matter. We’re inspired by pure, passionate music… and record players, and vans, and smokey bars, and dancing, and staying up until 5:00 am, and driving through the night, and rest stops and sleeping on peoples’ floors. We’re putting everything into music right now and it feels great.”
As of next summer Ko Ko, Gin and The Anvil plan to embark on their first national tour, playing songs from their first full length album (due out at the beginning of 2005) all over the U.S. and hopefully the UK.
“As cliché as it sounds,” Ko Ko said, “we’re shopping our album around to labels right now, then starting next summer it will be nothing but rock n roll.”
Catch the Hard Lessons October 28 at Small’s in Hamtramck and November 5th in Mac’s Bar in Lansing.

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Paintings that Paint Themselves

[kresge] “Paintings That Paint Themselves, Or So It Seems” is one of the most appealing, yet mysterious, titles to give the collection of art that is currently on display at the Kresge Art Museum. Gathered from twenty-four artists from all over the world, this event houses some wonderful abstract paintings and highlights a movement that has begun to generate excitement and creative verve throughout the artistic epicenters of the US- the artistic center of the world.
Kresge Curator April Kingsley conceived the idea for such an exhibit while pursuing a different type of art. “I was looking for pieces to fit into a show about perfection, and these seemed perfect as well, but in a different way, Kingsley said. “Something that looked beautifully crafted, but not necessarily crafty.”
Kingsley isn’t the only one appreciating abstract art. In fact, abstract art has grown into something that has people excited and communicating with each other more than ever since its relatively recent beginnings in the 1970s. “It’s not like there was a movement back then, no one was aware of each other until now,” she said.
The paintings range from headache-inducing optical illusions to united color and movement on canvas to subtle reminders of impressions that feel softly familiar. “You really don’t have to think about it, you just sort of get lost, and it moves and changes, kind of like meditating,” freshman Sarah Martinez said during her visit to Kresge. “People tend to think its not art, but there is value to it even if it is aesthetic value, just to get your mind off the rest of the world.”
Trying to explain the impact of the art is about as easy as explaining why you feel good, or bad when you wake after a long, deep sleep. A good half of the experience is subconscious, completely void of any tangible explanation. Some paintings may not strike you as anything particularly moving, but the ones that do seem to permeate somewhere under the surface of the skin. There’s a feeling that you are absorbing the painting’s energy, sparking a wave of sensations, and communicating impressions that may or may not have anything to do with the artist’s intentions. April Kingsley agrees with this sense of ambiguous communication. “It’s about conveying feeling; spiritual communication,” she said.
[abstract]Whether or not an artist’s audience is stimulated the same way the artist was stimulated while creating the piece is not really the point as Kingsley pointed out, quoting Franz Klein, an abstract impressionist, “if it meant that much when you did it, it will mean that much.”
These paintings are the fruits of limitless experimenting by artists. From the beginnings of abstract art in the 1970’s, Bernard Frize and David Reed came to be known as the pioneers of abstract art, although they lived in different countries and never knew came in contact.
In Paris, Frize explored the infinite techniques of producing texture. He was known to clump brushes together, add substances to prevent colors from mixing, sand down layers of paint to bring out hidden colors, and mix wet paint with already dried skins.
At the same time, David Reed engaged himself with the liquidity of oil and alkyd paint, and creates his “self-determined” paintings by denoting his actually physical capacity; the length of his strokes are the actual length of his arms, for example.
The possibilities available to Frize, Reed and other abstract artists today have splendidly grown. New resources, chemistry, temperature, drying time, gravity and chance are all possible factors in a painting’s final outcome. Above all, mystery hangs over paintings that appear so fluid and untouched by a human hand.
Kingsley believes part of the abstract art movement comes from a revival of optical art, which uses the eyes as an organ of pleasure (or displeasure). There’s also the sense of those who are exhausted with the prevailing “soul searching political art and gender art”. While those types of art obviously haven’t gone away, abstract art is a breath of fresh air, an opportunity to feel rather than think.
“People want to go back to looking at art for the sake of looking at art,” Kingsley said.

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