Playing Santa

As the weeks wind down to the holidays, the rush to find the best gifts intensifies. When it comes to gift giving, I pride myself on getting just the right presents. But, with my limited budget – hey, I’m a poor college kid – and busy schedule – hello…projects, papers and exams! – things get a little crazy. Yet, through all this madness, I think I’ve found some pretty cool and rather inexpensive gifts for the hippest of the hip.
The Cool Collector
My friend Jason is one of those guys who I often look to find out what’s hot. Even before you read about it in the glossy pages of a magazine, or see it toted around by celebs on the OC, he knows about it. So, what do you get a guy like this?
This was a tricky one, but I think the solution is to dress up that sweet little iPod of his with a carrying case. More and more companies and individuals are designing funky little satchels for the devices.
Catherine’s Pita Shop at http://www.catherinespita.com has over 20 iPod cozies each for $25. Each one is handmade and will keep any iPod safe from scratches. They are trimmed with colorful stitching and decorated with patches, fur and clear vinyl. The one that ultimately caught my eye was none other that the “Horny Pickle” cozy.
The Girly Girl
A couple of weeks ago my friends and I drew names for our yearly “Secret Santa” gift exchange, and I got the girliest one of them all, my friend Erin.
With one thought in mind, I headed straight to Eastwood Towne Center . Destination: Victoria’s Secret.
What girly-girl doesn’t love getting new bras and panties?
I browsed the store a bit before finding the new Angels Uplift. It’s feminine, slightly padded and comes in pink. Perfect. And, for $36 to $38, it was exactly on budget.
The Music Buff
My friend Chris knows more about music than most radio DJs. He has an eclectic taste that spans The Doors, Radiohead and Death Cab for Cutie. He can also hold his ground in a debate on almost every genre of music.
I quickly picked up a little something white and stripey from his favorite band, The White Stripes. Jack and Meg’s first live DVD entitled “Under Blackpool Lights” has just hit shelves. Filmed in Blackpool England in January 2004, the DVD includes over 25 songs, including previously unreleased material. The coolest part of this best buy (bought at Best Buy, where else?) was it only set me back $12.59.
The Clueless Cooker
My dear friend Andrew can’t cook to save his life. You know the kind, Easy Mac and frozen dinners every night. All of that can’t be good for a person. I really don’t think he’s inept, just unmotivated about making good meals.
So to solve his eating dilemma, I made a trip to Grand River and popped inside Curious Book Shop. This place is an awesome used-book maze. Rows and rows of books arranged by subject are packed inside the tiny alcove of a store. I found the cookbook section and browsed through the different types of cookbooks: Italian, Chinese, healthy/diet and then finally the fast and easy recipe cookbooks. I found “Betty Crocker’s Microwaving for One or Two.” Complete with tons of pictures, I cannot think of a better cookbook for someone who relies on the microwave so much. For $6.50, this used cookbook is a steal.
The Eclectic Stylist
Last, but not least, there’s Audrey who makes weekly thrift store runs. She is always at her sewing machine, adjusting garments and making things like gloves out of wacky scraps of material. She buys new clothes from JCrew and the Gap, maintaining a very hip, yet grown up look.
Shopping for her was not the easiest of tasks. But I managed to find the absolutely perfect accessory to compliment her chic style in Lansing’s Old Town.
In Absolute Gallery I found unique jewelry from Beijing in a display case: a gorgeous potato pearl and colored glass bead bracelet .I knew right then that the $20 bracelet was destined for Audrey’s wrist.
And the cherry on top
Say goodbye to boring, old run-of-the-mill stocking stuffers, these are the ultimate.
“Garden State” can be pre-ordered at www.foxstore.com for only $19.95.
Talib Kweli’s “The Beautiful Struggle”, for only $12.99, has good beats and rhymes.
Boons Farm Wine, at only $3 per bottle, is fun and fruity…c’mon, just admit that you like it!
Trojan Shared Pleasure Warm Sensations Condoms for when you just have to be naughty. Plus, they’re only $12.99 for a pack of 12.
Starbucks Gift Certificates can fill any stocking with warm, caffeinated goodness.

Posted in Arts & CultureComments (0)

Silent Night, Corporate Might’

The day after Thanksgiving has traditionally been the busiest shopping day of the year. Millions of people cram themselves into malls and stores across the country to start their Christmas shopping, but many activists are challenging everyone to put down their credit cards and buy nothing on November 26.
Buy Nothing Day was founded in 1991 by a number of small activist groups on the Pacific coast, in places such as Seattle and Vancouver, who believed there was a lack of critism of consumerism. In 1994, Buy Nothing Day hit the Internet and really took hold. Now groups all over the world in places like the US, Japan and the UK now celebrate the day.
[buy]One of the major supporters of Buy Nothing Day is Adbusters Media Foundation. Founded in 1989 by Kalle Lasn, Adbusters works through its magazine and Web site to change the way people live. The foundation focuses on political, corporate, ecological, and psychological change and supports a number of different movements like TV Turnoff Week and Unbrand America.
Tim Walker, the campaign manager for Adbusters, said he thinks that mindless consumerism needs to change. He said he wants people to start thinking more closely about the decisions they make while shopping.
“Everyday there are 3,000 ads rammed into our heads,” Walker said. “In the back of people’s heads, they know something is wrong. This is a great way to celebrate it.”
Walker said most people find out about Buy Nothing Day through word of mouth. People tell their friends, family and even coworkers.
“Most of it is grass roots action,” he said.
There are different ways of celebrating Buy Nothing Day. The most obvious one is to abstain from buying anything in the specified 24 hour span. Some people are planning more creative ways to protest consumerism, such as passing out flyers, making up skits to perform outside of malls, or buying a cart full of merchandise only to return it immediately over and over again. Walker said one group in Orlando plans to bring mirrors to a mall to show shoppers how consumerism has possessed them.
In Detroit, a number of activists, such as James Stephan, are also working to put together efforts to support the day. Stephan said he supports Buy Nothing Day because “rampant consumerism and commercialization of sacred holidays has taken over our culture.”
“Buy nothing day shouldn’t be once a year, it is a way of life,” he said. “The idea is to live by what you need, not compulsively buy things you want.”
Another Detroit activist, Thomas Trent, said people need to work harder this year to make this campaign more well-known. He said he might distribute flyers in parking lots and shopping malls to get the message out.
“All we can really hope for this year is to build momentum,” he said. We need to change people’s minds. We need to get people to think about why they shop ’til they drop.”
If you would like to learn more about Buy Nothing Day or want to get involved, visit the Adbusters’ website at www.adbusters.org .
To quench your thirst for anti-consumerism, sing along to this rewrite of the famous Christmas carol, written by Ohio song writer Tony Beres:
Silent Night, corporate might, third world plight, they don’t care bout human rights,
Pollute the sky destroy the earth, kids with cancer before their birth,
Don’t support their greed don’t support their greed.
Deadly fight, stockings stuffed tight, what’s become of holy night
Pray for justice pray for peace, Let’s bring (famous chain store) to its knees
Don’t support their greed, don’t support their greed.

Posted in Arts & CultureComments (0)

Your Town: First Sunday Gallery Walk

Those chilly Sundays can get a little boring and monotonous hanging around East Lansing all day. This Sunday, why not take a drive into Lansing to Old Town for the First Sunday Gallery Walk?
For over 20 years, on every first Sunday of the month, gallery owners in Old Town, Lansing, and Okemos open their doors to showcase their new collections.
Old Town, located just north of the capitol, is a particularly hot spot for a variety of artists, galleries, and people situated closely together. Spider, owner of Spiderhouse Market and Antique explained the event as “an art gallery crawl.”
Absolute Gallery owner Kathy Holcomb said people who have never been to a First Sunday Gallery Walk should come because, she said, there is something for everyone. “Every first Sunday we do something different,” she said. “I like to shake things up.”
[art]Each gallery has a different ambience that lets the walkers enjoy something new as they go from place to place, with plenty of cafes along the way to keep people fed and refreshed. Most of the galleries provide free snacks and treats as well. It is also a great opportunity to socialize and meet the artists.
Robert Busby, owner of Creole Gallery estimates 50 to 300 people show up for the walks depending on the weather and other circumstances. Busby said the atmosphere is very relaxed and inviting for everyone.
“Some people come dressed up from church, but there are some people who are riding their bicycles in sandals,” he said.
Holcomb said she hopes students will take an interest in Old Town. She believes it will appeal to them because it’s a free event and something to do on a Sunday. “It shows art galleries are approachable,” she said. “A lot of work is available on a student’s budget.”
For the next walk on November 7, the Creole Gallery will be continuing to show a collection by Rosemary Kavanagh O’Carroll called “A Peace of Cloth.” Her work compares a contemporary portrayal of Joan of Arc to the women and children in Afghanistan.
“She always works with a theme, which I like,” said Busby. “She is a very talented artist.”
Over at the Spiderhouse Market and Antiques, an exhibit entitled “Los Dias de la Muertos” celebrates the Day of the Dead. Spider said he likes to work with local artists and new artists.
“Everyone needs to get started somewhere,” he said.
One artist who got her start in Old Town is Meg Breiter. Breiter has worked on her art professionally for twenty years and will be showing a fantasy artwork collection at the Absolute Gallery beginning at the November 7 walk. She used graphite on paper and board to create her intricately detailed pictures.
“It is unbelievable. I can’t imagine how she can do what she does,” Holcomb remarked.
Chad Bennett,a local artist and a regular to Old Town, said he thinks that people should check out First Sunday Gallery Walk just to find out what is going on artistically.
“Some funky things happen down in Old Town,” he said.

Posted in Arts & CultureComments (0)

How To Be…a Tailgater

What would cause a typical college student who loves to party to stay in on a Friday night, get up at an ungodly hour on a Saturday and go meander aimlessly around MSU’s enormous campus? Tailgating, that’s what.[beer]
“It’s the best party you can go to. It just beats everything else,” apparel and textiles senior Jen Streby said.
The key to the ritual tailgater is planning. It’s important to rest up so they’re ready for the main event. “Personally, I like to take it easy the night before tailgate, just so I feel good in the morning and have lots of energy to take with me to the game,” hospitality business senior Scott Fisher said.
For most tailgaters, the saying early to bed, early to rise couldn’t be truer. Real tailgaters tend to get up before the sun to get a jumpstart on drinking. “If it’s an early game, we don’t stay out, so we don’t miss the tailgate,” business sophomore Dan Palcynski said. “If it’s a noon game, I’m up by 5:00 or 5:30. I want to be there by 6:00,” Streby said. “First thing I do is crack open a beer when I get up.”
There seem to be two types of tailgaters: the diehards and the casuals. You can normally tell the two breeds apart by their style of dress. The diehards get decked out from head to toe in MSU apparel, with MSU t-shirts, hoodies, and even Spartan green mini skirts for the girls. “I have the whole getup,” social relations sophomore Missy Rubalcava said. “I wear green beads and put (temporary) tattoos on my face.”
The casual tailgaters aren’t so interested in showing their school spirit. Their main objective is imbibing that sweet nectar of the game-day gods. “I think the adults are mostly there to support the team,” Spanish sophomore Amy Burger said. “The kids just want to get drunk.”
Once a tailgater is up, dressed and ready to go, he or she has two main tailgating destinations: The Rock or The Tennis Courts. The Rock, located off of Farm Lane near the Auditorium, hosts mostly sororities and fraternities. On the other hand, the Tennis Courts, at the corner of Wilson and Chestnut, boast of individual tailgates, most out of the back of people’s vehicles.
In the past, there has usually been a DJ at the rock but not for upcoming tailgates, Fisher said. “Here [at the rock] is a big group of people enjoying a good time before going to the game, it’s like one big tailgate,” he said. He added that at the Tennis Courts there are many different tailgates with a variety of music, games, drinks, and hard liquor, but that only beer is allowed at the Rock.
Regardless where a person chooses to go, tailgating is a prime time for socializing. “I stumble around to miscellaneous people that I know, they offer me beer, and I accept,” apparel and textiles junior Joseph Rezene said.
Things can also get a little crazy, Burger admitted. “One time I got my pictures back from being developed and there was one picture of me in a tree at the Tennis Courts,” Burger said. “I definitely don’t remember that.”
While its all beer and good times in the morning, it can get ugly as the day wears on. Tailgating tends to bring out a mob mentality. One tailgater even admitted to stealing someone’s grill when they weren’t around.
“As they get drunker, they start to urinate in public,” police officer Dan Dekorte said. “They also begin to start fights.” To calm some of the chaos, MSU has proposed a number of new rules that will regulate tailgating events on a trial basis. One might wonder what a tailgater will do without his or her beloved games of flip cup, beer pong, or “Chug the Bucket.” But, tailgaters seem to be a hardy bunch that can weather any storm in the name of partying.
Even though tailgating causes trouble for authorities, Wilson Hall’s Assistant Hall Director Michelle Vital does see some benefits. “It’s a good recruitment factor with all these people celebrating Spartan pride,” she said. “There are a lot of positive factors if it is done responsibly.”
As the tailgate winds down, some students make their way over to the game or back home. Either way, most end up passing out at some point thereby ending the ritual tailgate. “We come back here, eat in Case, nap for three hours, get ready and shower, especially if we got beer on us, and go back out,” Rubalcava said, spoken like a true Spartan.
The lure of the party and the ritual tailgate seem to be all that keeps students going through the week during football season. Dressed in the traditional costume of green and white, they descend upon campus in droves for a day of unadulterated pleasure before limping quietly back to their homes to regain consciousness. Of all the rituals of the college species, the tailgate is truly a sight to behold.

Posted in Arts & CultureComments (0)