Go \’Green\’

I\’ll blame it on my dad and his composting pile that I got into the environment. Or maybe the fact that my mom just brought me an old book of hers called \”Ecology and Man\” (featuring a post-it note with the letters \”WO\” in front of \”Man\” – thanks, mom.) I guess I come by nature-loving naturally.
Whatever it was, I\’ll admit it – I do like the environment, and I think you should, too! The \”green\” movement is not new by any means, but it has picked up speed over the past year or two thanks to Al Gore and \”An Inconvenient Truth,\” various conscience-minded celebrities and the final understanding of some that the earth really is in need of some tender lovin\’ care.
The movement is quite old, really – Rachel Carson, Aldo Leopold, John Muir and Henry David Thoreau would be pretty pissed if we all started gloating about bringing change about. Rather, it is now just in dire need of some help. If Thoreau was worrying about Walden in the mid-1800s, then I think we\’ve got some major work to do more than 150 years later.
Of course, I can say something about the environment at any point in the year. It\’s important to celebrate it during the frigid cold of February (or should I say April now?) as well as during the unbearable heat of August. Remember the environment when the leaves are changing as well as when they\’re blooming. There\’s no time not to care! But April is especially important because it is the month to celebrate.
On MSU\’s very green campus, and in the surrounding areas, there is a lot to do to be a part of the environment\’s care. Here are some events taking place within the next month.
Healthy Individuals and Healthy Communities – How Can Higher Education Help?
Part of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development Speaker series, Laury Hamel, the author of \”Growing Local Value: How to Build Business Partnerships That Strengthen Your Community,\” will speak at MSU. The event will take place Wednesday, April 11, at 7:30 p.m. in room 105 of South Kedzie Hall, and is free and open to the public. For more information, visit EcoFoot.
Step it Up for the Earth!
Legislation for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions is an important component in the environmental movement. Although there has been some movement forward in dealing with the environment (the Supreme Court decision of pollution control being one of the most recent), there is still much work to do.
On Saturday, April 14, the local chapter of Step it Up, described as a national day of climate action, will take part on MSU\’s campus. The event will be located on Adam\’s Field, across from the IM Circle building, and next to Cowle\’s House. The action begins at 11:30 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m. Both the East Lansing mayor, Samir Singh, and the Lansing mayor, Virg Bernero, will be speaking about climate change and its effects in our area. Student speakers will also give tips on how to live sustainably, and why it\’s so important. The climax of the event will be at noon with a photo-op, featuring a sign that reads, \”Step it up, Congress! Cut carbon 80 percent by 2050.\” The student organizers ask everyone to wear green or white apparel, or anything MSU-related. There are already 1315 events planned in all 50 states. Visit Step It Up for more information.
Be Good to your EarthDay
On April 22, Earth Day, the MSU environmental group, ECO, will be co-hosting an event with Green River Cafe. Author Mel Visser will be on hand to discuss his new book on the pollution of the Great Lakes and the Canadian Arctic, Cold, Clear, and Deadly. There will be grilling outdoors (in the back of Green River Cafe, if weather permits) and food available inside. An open-mic night for readings, poetry and music will also take place. The event begins at 4 p.m. and will conclude at 10 p.m.
Wind Energy and Economic Development Forum
On Tuesday, April 24, Wind Powering America and the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative present a forum addressing the economic development impacts and manufacturing opportunities presented by wind power development. The event runs from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Kellogg Center on MSU�s campus. There is no cost for the event, but registration is required: Click Here to Register.

Posted in LettersComments (0)

Funny in Any Faith

[mosque]Imagine being in line to board a flight while a man in front of you is talking on the phone with someone else, using words like “suicide” and “bomb.” Obviously, you only hear his side, and immediately think the worst: he must be Muslim and he must be planning on blowing up you and the other passengers. You decide to book it – fast.
Now pretend you’re watching the current Canadian Broadcasting Corporation hit Little Mosque on the Prairie. The main character, a Muslim, is talking on the phone with his mom, telling her that the move he is currently in the middle of is not “financial suicide,” and that he “didn’t drop a bomb” on his dad. Of course you know what’s going on – you have the distinct pleasure of being a member of the viewing audience. But the woman behind Amaar (the main character), looks immediately panicked, and rushes to find a seat on another flight.
It seems pretty ridiculous now, right? But the fact is, Muslims in both Canada and America find themselves faced with absurdity everyday, especially since 9/11. This particular show, created by Zarqa Nawaz, a Muslim, aims to show these daily events in a previously taboo light – with humor.
Nada Zohdy, an international relations and psychology freshman, thinks the reason that Little Mosque works is because it appeals to everyday life, rather than events that are only seen on CNN coverage. “I think the deal with it is that it’s good to poke fun of things Muslims do, and not the basic Islamic principles,” Zohdy said.
And maybe that’s the true reason the show has proven to be successful so far. Chicago-based comedian Azhar Usman said response for Nawaz – whom he has worked with and calls a friend – has been very encouraging. “[The reaction to the show] has been overwhelmingly positive,” Usman said. “We have been really honored and delighted – and not just among Muslims.”
The show aims to create a spectrum-wide appeal, using humor that Muslims can relate to, but also providing fodder for the average CBC viewer. “[The show] has crossed over and increasingly diversified,” Usman said.
Mohammad Khalil, a visiting instructor of religious studies, said using television shows like this one, and other forms of media to counteract the preconceived image many Americans have of a Muslim, is important. \”It presents counter-images to Muslims like Bin Laden [who do not even make up one percent of the Muslim population],” Khalil said. “It attempts to balance out potential stereotypes.\”
Intolerance in America
[book]Hardly a new notion, intolerance and bigotry in America began when the country did. Throughout our more than 200-year history, the archetypal white male figure has dominated, leaving an assortment of minorities to fend off hatred. Although we no longer employ slaves and women have been able to vote for almost 90 years, much of the population would say intolerance is alive and kickin’. The Muslim population in America ranges from 1.1 million to 5 million, according to various websites, and has always fallen victim, but most significantly since 9/11.
“Since 9/11, [the status of Muslims] has both improved and gotten worse,” Khalil said. “More people know, and are either sympathetic or antagonistic.”
Whether someone is sympathetic or antagonistic, Zohdy said the fact that any sort of information being portrayed about her religion and its people is the most important thing. “With 9/11, something good can come out of anything,” Zohdy said. “There’s some negativity, but it stimulates curiosity.”
The curiosity Zohdy speaks of is something she’s experienced often, especially since she decided to start wearing a hijab, the traditional Muslim head covering. “I’ve been lucky – I’ve never had anything blatantly offensive happen to me. More than once, people ask me questions.”
Teaching a Lesson
With most television comedies, the moral at the end of the story is often not as important as a few laughs and automated applause. However, because of Little Mosque on the Prairie’s subject matter, more often than not will a lesson be taught. Khalil thinks that the most important lesson learned is also the broadest and most easily accessible: “Muslims are just like everyone else, and we’re more similar than we are different.”
[three]He believes that the positive response so far to the show will create a far-better representation of the majority of Muslims. “Overall, even if the show has no other message, they’ll see the counter-image of normal Muslims.”
Both Khalil and Usman compared the show’s overall effect to that of The Cosby Show, which portrayed a well-to-do black family in the 1980s. Usman said the show was so successful because it “decoded blackness” with the help of Dr. Alvin Poussaint, who was a script consultant.
“People say we need a Cosby Show, and this show is well-received by Muslims,” Khalil said.
Zohdy thinks the best message the show will produce is the idea that, although these actors portray Muslims in Canada well, it does not epitomize every single Muslim. “It’s important for whoever watches the show to know that the characters [in the show] shouldn’t be represented as Muslims as a whole.”
She also hopes that the attention surrounding the show will bring viewers to really look into the religion. “To teach people, they shouldn’t watch the show instead of reading the Qur’an [the Holy Book],” she said.
Allah Made Them Funny
As one of the few American Muslim comedians, Usman has had to work against the typical grain of American entertainment. But one of the fundamental rules of comedy is that making fun of oneself is the best way for a laugh.
“If you can’t poke fun of yourself, then people can’t take you seriously,” Zohdy said.
Usman said he has been generally well-received among all types of audiences, but knows that being a comedian is all about working your way out of a hard place to emerge victorious. “Humor has always been used as a tool by people who are underdogs,” Usman said. “It’s a way to deal with reality, to fight back.”
[azhar]And by laughing at subjects that make most people walk on eggshells, Usman and Co. aim to make it just another day at the comedy club. Usman created the “Allah Made Me Funny – the Official Muslim Comedy Tour” with fellow Muslim comedian Preacher Moss three years ago. According to the tour’s website, www.allahmademefunny.com, the goal of the comedy gigs is to “make a comprehensive effort to provide effective, significant, and appropriate comedy with an Islamic perspective, which is both mainstream and cross-cultural.”
Khalil thinks laughter can be used skillfully to bring the focus back to the idea that everyone is inherently the same, and can learn to laugh together. “Anytime you can get people to laugh, it allows people to reexamine. It lightens things up a bit.”
On the television show’s pilot episode, the main character said, “Muslims around the world are known for their sense of humor.” Although he was kidding in the show, Khalil said, just like any other group of people, Muslims are funny, too. “People are funny in any faith, and we do have a lot of laughs,” Khalil said.
Laughter is the Best Medicine for Prejudice
“Comedy is tragedy plus heart,” Usman said. The comedian uses this mantra as part of his routine, finding comfort that anything that may be viewed as distressing to his faith can be turned around and used as material. The idea of finding humor in relatively sad situations is nothing new, but when it becomes Muslim-themed, the situation is fresh and original.
Usman cited the Qur’an in reference to the theme. “The part of what makes me fundamentally a human is that we laugh and cry,” he said. Usman said comedy and tragedy are “inextricably linked with one another.” To be able to laugh hard will lead to crying, and vice versa.
In comedy, basically everything goes. Some comedians aim to offend, others preach a particular message and a few (or more) use self-deprecation (Geez, they don’t get any respect.) The bottom line is that comedy is used to bring people together, because in a world where anything can suddenly push friends, neighbors and relatives apart, the need for a uniting force is ultimately essential. Comedy’s history has shown each disenfranchised group finds a way to make light of their plight, and in some cases, find ways to make things better. It’s true that laughter is the best medicine, and America is in full need of a prescription.

Posted in Global ViewComments (0)

Madam President

[whitehouse]We go to school and live in a state where women rule (if not in the all-encompassing sense, then at least in the literal way.) We’ve got Lou Anna K. Simon as our prez, Jennifer Granholm (D – Mich.) as our governor and Debbie Stabenow (D – Mich.) as one-half of a kickin’ Senate duo. Plus, women all over the state rose arms with family members in only a way that politicians can (you know, the awkward two-armed victory response.) Gretchen Whitmer (D – Mich.) and Terri Lynn Land (R – Mich.) are two examples that a change in the political tide might be getting closer and closer, at least in Michigan. And throughout the nation, women are gaining more leadership roles. Political fireball Nancy Pelosi (D – Calif.) is now Speaker of the House – the first woman to hold the position. But does the U.S. have what it takes to really nominate a woman for president and is the world ready for the most powerful leader of the free world to be a-gasp!-woman?
If our current leader, George W. Bush, is any indication of a male perspective regarding women in high positions, then we should all cringe. In response to Nancy Pelosi’s impending approval as Speaker of the House, he said, “I shared with her the names of some Republican interior decorators who can help her pick out the new drapes in her new office.” All kidding aside (and really, Dubya, you’re not that funny), the appointment of a female Speaker is a big gain for women – and society, in general – everywhere. Not only is she the first Speaker of the minority gender, but if either Bush or vice president Dick Cheney were unable to fulfill presidential duties, then Pelosi would become the first female president in the U.S. (Similar to Gerald Ford’s appointment in 1973 after Richard Nixon and Spiro T. Agnew’s resignation with Watergate scandals.) How’s that for girl, nay, woman power?
Currently, there are 86 women represented in Congress: 70 in the House, and 16 in the Senate. But still, that means only 16 percent of our representatives are female (there are 535 total members in both branches) in a country where over 50 percent of the population is female. The first woman in Congress was Jeanette Rankin in 1917, three years before the 19th Amendment allowing women the right to vote. Coincidentally Rankin was from Montana, where women had been voting for a few years already.
So, is this a sudden surge of female representatives, or are we still a long way off? You won’t hear many people complaining that there are too many women being elected, but one of the biggest media focuses in this year’s midterm elections was the gender of many of our candidates. “I think it’s awesome, not just for women, but when anyone gets active and involved in social issues,” English sophomore Julia Allen said. “Everyone complains, but what do they do about it?”
However, some question whether it really should be about women or not. Jon James, an English and creative writing sophomore, said that gender shouldn’t matter in this situation, and it should be mainly focused on whether or not the candidate is good. James said he didn\’t think someone should be elected to the presidency just because of her gender. “I would hate to see someone nominated for race or gender,” he said.
The Other Clinton in ‘08
And then there\’s the excitement surrounding Hillary Clinton and her supposed bid for the 2008 presidential election. Will she or won’t she? If she does, who will support her? Should we vote because she’s a woman or because she’s the best there is?
Penny Gardner, Ph.D., an adjunct professor of women, gender and social justice studies, said that it’s about time a woman was talked about for the highest political position in the United States. “I think a viable candidate that is female for president is really important to the women movement and for those who fought for equality for all,” Gardner said.
Although much of the speculation is focused on Clinton, most agree that any chance for a woman to be in office is a step in a good direction. Both Allen and James said they wouldn’t vote for a candidate because of his or her gender. James thinks Clinton’s political stances are too fragile for the Democrat party to stand on, and thinks she is getting a biased fanbase. [jon]“The main appeal of Hillary [Clinton] is because she’s a woman,” James said.
But Allen said she would support Clinton if she were to run, “I wouldn’t want to vote for anyone based on gender. But I think I would back Hillary personally because she would take more liberal stands, that I agree with.”
Lydia Weiss, the director of Women’s Council and a sociology junior, with a specialization in women, gender and social justice, also said she’d vote for Clinton, but thinks that her gender makes her even more appealing.
“It’s a really tricky position, running a woman – it’s the most powerful and symbolic thing that the Democrat party can do,” Weiss said. “I don’t know a lot about the stances of her, but I’ll vote for her either way. I think she will do well.”
Weiss finds it more of an issue that having women in office – and top offices, at that – is the most important thing to bring awareness of the unbalanced genders to the forefront. “They wouldn’t have her running if she wasn’t the best – she won’t be used as a token, but as a good politician,” Weiss said.
Others, however, think that a woman in 2008 might not even happen.
“I think we’ll see a woman president in our lifetime, but maybe not in ’08,” Marissa Yardley, an English and creative writing junior, said. Yardley is optimistic about the idea of a female leader, but isn’t sure the country has changed quite enough to do so.
“People just want to get Bush out, so they might stick closer to what we’re used to,” Yardley said. In other words, they\’d vote for a male leader.
Weiss is not as optimistic, either, and said that the next election will really show whether or not the tides are changing toward a more balanced ticket. “It’s hard to tell [about women becoming less of a minority],” Weiss said. “2008 will really determine if this was a fluke happening.”
Is Talking About Women a Moot Point By Now?
Some argue that there shouldn’t be such a big discussion about having women in power because it goes against the equality that women are striving for. Others say that we still don’t live in a gender-less (nor race-less, religion-less, sexual orientation-less) society, so it’s consequential to talk about.
[lydia]“It should not be a big deal that it’s a woman, and shouldn’t be emphasized that someone should be elected for gender,” James said. “I think women could be better at certain positions, and men are better at others. Like, Secretary of Defense [seems like more of a male job.]”
Yardley, thinks, though, that announcing the gender of a candidate and talking about women in these higher positions is fine. “I think it’s very important to talk about,” Yardley said. “Everything can be a feminist issue. That’s how we think. You can’t hide it [that she’s a woman]. You automatically start making judgments about it.”
Gardner agrees that it needs to be talked about. “I think it needs to be discussed,\” she said. \”If we don’t acknowledge our success [as women], no one will.” She said it’s “important for those in the non-dominate culture to recognize and be informed of all our successes.”
Weiss said she wishes that discussion about a candidate’s gender could be gone, and that we could just focus on the key issues, but until we live in a classless, sexless, raceless society, these points will still matter. “I’m getting sick of hearing ‘the first woman to …’,” Weiss said. “Women are seen as having a gender and men aren’t. [Talking about women] also shows progress, and it’s important to realize women are making advances and if you ignore it, then advances are ignored, too. I wish it was a moot point – we don’t say ‘the first man to stay home…’ we still live in this world with discrimination.”
Furthering a More Gender-Equal Education
[penny]What also is important is fueling an education, starting in elementary school, that shows more of female power in history, Gardner said. “There’s no place for women who aren’t stellar, but there are for men,” Gardner said in response to top female leaders like Granholm, MSU president Simon and U of M president Mary Sue Coleman as being the best of the best. “We have to work twice as hard, for half as much.”
Gardner also said that the role of women in learning history is pretty much non-existent. “I definitely believe that we are written out of history,” she said.
And most agree that much of the education we receive, especially in our formative years, cater to a male perspective. “Kids growing up hear about kings, male presidents, but you’ll spend two minutes talking about suffrage,” Yardley said.
Weiss said that the issue of women as role models is so important because it helps to foster good ideals for both genders at a young age. “We should start acknowledging what women have done for the world,” she said. She went on to say that the literature students read at an early age focuses mainly on the male perspective and doesn\’t cater to a more equal world. “You don’t learn about that because history books are in the patriarchal system,\” Weiss said. \”Showing women are strong and capable will be encouraging girls to do this. Everything is so engrained in society and there are many fronts and battles that need to be re-fought to encourage women.”
But James said he doesn’t agree with the idea of trying to incorporate more female events in teaching history and other subjects in school. “That creates more of a problem – it says that there’s a separate history if you just put women there [in history books],” he said. James also said that \”focusing on differences only makes it worse.”

So, what kind of headway have we really made? Although much of America can agree that we are at the point when women in these types of roles are becoming more common, it is still a hot topic for the country to discuss.
Hillary in ’08? Don’t count on it just yet… let’s get through these next two years and then take a look at the candidates. While many say they’ll vote for her because she’s a strong female candidate, there are still a large number of people with qualms about her actual politics and the fact that since she’s a woman, she’s garnering a lot of attention.
Regardless of your political stance, it’s important to acknowledge the fact that women have been a minority throughout our entire history, and still remain as such. Once we learn how to incorporate women into the majority and leave the minority, women will finally have something to cheer about.

Posted in Global ViewComments (0)

Madam President

[building] We go to school and live in a state where women rule (if not in the all-encompassing sense, then at least in the literal way.) We’ve got Lou Anna K. Simon as our prez, Jennifer Granholm (D – Mich.) as our governor and Debbie Stabenow (D – Mich.) as one-half of a kickin’ Senate duo. Plus, women all over the state rose arms with family members in only a way that politicians can (you know, the awkward two-armed victory response.) Gretchen Whitmer (D – Mich.) and Terri Lynn Land (R – Mich.) are two examples that a change in the political tide might be getting closer and closer, at least in Michigan. And throughout the nation, women are gaining more leadership roles. Political fireball Nancy Pelosi (D – Calif.) is now Speaker of the House – the first woman to hold the position. But does the U.S. have what it takes to really nominate a woman for president and is the world ready for the most powerful leader of the free world to be a-gasp!-woman?
If our current leader, George W. Bush, is any indication of a male perspective regarding women in high positions, then we should all cringe. In response to Nancy Pelosi’s impending approval as Speaker of the House, he said, “I shared with her the names of some Republican interior decorators who can help her pick out the new drapes in her new office.” All kidding aside (and really, Dubya, you’re not that funny), the appointment of a female Speaker is a big gain for women – and society, in general – everywhere. Not only is she the first Speaker of the minority gender, but if either Bush or vice president Dick Cheney were unable to fulfill presidential duties, then Pelosi would become the first female president in the U.S. (Similar to Gerald Ford’s appointment in 1973 after Richard Nixon and Spiro T. Agnew’s resignation with Watergate scandals.) How’s that for girl, nay, woman power?
Currently, there are 86 women represented in Congress: 70 in the House, and 16 in the Senate. But still, that means only 16 percent of our representatives are female (there are 535 total members in both branches) in a country where over 50 percent of the population is female. The first woman in Congress was Jeanette Rankin in 1917, three years before the 19th Amendment allowing women the right to vote. Coincidentally Rankin was from Montana, where women had been voting for a few years already.
So, is this a sudden surge of female representatives, or are we still a long way off? You won’t hear many people complaining that there are too many women being elected, but one of the biggest media focuses in this year’s midterm elections was the gender of many of our candidates. “I think it’s awesome, not just for women, but when anyone gets active and involved in social issues,” English sophomore Julia Allen said. “Everyone complains, but what do they do about it?”
However, some question whether it really should be about women or not. Jon James, an English and creative writing sophomore, said that gender shouldn’t matter in this situation, and it should be mainly focused on whether or not the candidate is good. James said he didn\’t think someone should be elected to the presidency just because of her gender. “I would hate to see someone nominated for race or gender,” he said.
The Other Clinton in ‘08
And then there\’s the excitement surrounding Hillary Clinton and her supposed bid for the 2008 presidential election. Will she or won’t she? If she does, who will support her? Should we vote because she’s a woman or because she’s the best there is?
Penny Gardner, Ph.D., an adjunct professor of women, gender and social justice studies, said that it’s about time a woman was talked about for the highest political position in the United States. “I think a viable candidate that is female for president is really important to the women movement and for those who fought for equality for all,” Gardner said.
Although much of the speculation is focused on Clinton, most agree that any chance for a woman to be in office is a step in a good direction. Both Allen and James said they wouldn’t vote for a candidate because of his or her gender. James thinks Clinton’s political stances are too fragile for the Democrat party to stand on, and thinks she is getting a biased fanbase. [jon]“The main appeal of Hillary [Clinton] is because she’s a woman,” James said.
But Allen said she would support Clinton if she were to run, “I wouldn’t want to vote for anyone based on gender. But I think I would back Hillary personally because she would take more liberal stands, that I agree with.”
Lydia Weiss, the director of Women’s Council and a sociology junior, with a specialization in women, gender and social justice, also said she’d vote for Clinton, but thinks that her gender makes her even more appealing.
“It’s a really tricky position, running a woman – it’s the most powerful and symbolic thing that the Democrat party can do,” Weiss said. “I don’t know a lot about the stances of her, but I’ll vote for her either way. I think she will do well.”
Weiss finds it more of an issue that having women in office – and top offices, at that – is the most important thing to bring awareness of the unbalanced genders to the forefront. “They wouldn’t have her running if she wasn’t the best – she won’t be used as a token, but as a good politician,” Weiss said.
Others, however, think that a woman in 2008 might not even happen.
“I think we’ll see a woman president in our lifetime, but maybe not in ’08,” Marissa Yardley, an English and creative writing junior, said. Yardley is optimistic about the idea of a female leader, but isn’t sure the country has changed quite enough to do so.
“People just want to get Bush out, so they might stick closer to what we’re used to,” Yardley said. In other words, they\’d vote for a male leader.
Weiss is not as optimistic, either, and said that the next election will really show whether or not the tides are changing toward a more balanced ticket. “It’s hard to tell [about women becoming less of a minority],” Weiss said. “2008 will really determine if this was a fluke happening.”
Is Talking About Women a Moot Point By Now?
Some argue that there shouldn’t be such a big discussion about having women in power because it goes against the equality that women are striving for. Others say that we still don’t live in a gender-less (nor race-less, religion-less, sexual orientation-less) society, so it’s consequential to talk about.
[lydia4]“It should not be a big deal that it’s a woman, and shouldn’t be emphasized that someone should be elected for gender,” James said. “I think women could be better at certain positions, and men are better at others. Like, Secretary of Defense [seems like more of a male job.]”
Yardley, thinks, though, that announcing the gender of a candidate and talking about women in these higher positions is fine. “I think it’s very important to talk about,” Yardley said. “Everything can be a feminist issue. That’s how we think. You can’t hide it [that she’s a woman]. You automatically start making judgments about it.”
Gardner agrees that it needs to be talked about. “I think it needs to be discussed,\” she said. \”If we don’t acknowledge our success [as women], no one will.” She said it’s “important for those in the non-dominate culture to recognize and be informed of all our successes.”
Weiss said she wishes that discussion about a candidate’s gender could be gone, and that we could just focus on the key issues, but until we live in a classless, sexless, raceless society, these points will still matter. “I’m getting sick of hearing ‘the first woman to …’,” Weiss said. “Women are seen as having a gender and men aren’t. [Talking about women] also shows progress, and it’s important to realize women are making advances and if you ignore it, then advances are ignored, too. I wish it was a moot point – we don’t say ‘the first man to stay home…’ we still live in this world with discrimination.”
Furthering a More Gender-Equal Education
[penny]What also is important is fueling an education, starting in elementary school, that shows more of female power in history, Gardner said. “There’s no place for women who aren’t stellar, but there are for men,” Gardner said in response to top female leaders like Granholm, MSU president Simon and U of M president Mary Sue Coleman as being the best of the best. “We have to work twice as hard, for half as much.”
Gardner also said that the role of women in learning history is pretty much non-existent. “I definitely believe that we are written out of history,” she said.
And most agree that much of the education we receive, especially in our formative years, cater to a male perspective. “Kids growing up hear about kings, male presidents, but you’ll spend two minutes talking about suffrage,” Yardley said.
Weiss said that the issue of women as role models is so important because it helps to foster good ideals for both genders at a young age. “We should start acknowledging what women have done for the world,” she said. She went on to say that the literature students read at an early age focuses mainly on the male perspective and doesn\’t cater to a more equal world. “You don’t learn about that because history books are in the patriarchal system,\” Weiss said. \”Showing women are strong and capable will be encouraging girls to do this. Everything is so engrained in society and there are many fronts and battles that need to be re-fought to encourage women.”
[girl]But James said he doesn’t agree with the idea of trying to incorporate more female events in teaching history and other subjects in school. “That creates more of a problem – it says that there’s a separate history if you just put women there [in history books],” he said. James also said that \”focusing on differences only makes it worse.”

So, what kind of headway have we really made? Although much of America can agree that we are at the point when women in these types of roles are becoming more common, it is still a hot topic for the country to discuss.
Hillary in ’08? Don’t count on it just yet… let’s get through these next two years and then take a look at the candidates. While many say they’ll vote for her because she’s a strong female candidate, there are still a large number of people with qualms about her actual politics and the fact that since she’s a woman, she’s garnering a lot of attention.
Regardless of your political stance, it’s important to acknowledge the fact that women have been a minority throughout our entire history, and still remain as such. Once we learn how to incorporate women into the majority and leave the minority, women will finally have something to cheer about.

Posted in Global ViewComments (0)

Scene and Heard

SCENE

Tibetan Monks Visit Kresge Art Museum– The Tibetan art will be on display at Kresge May 1-7.

The May Revolution– A film written and directed by English senior Ben Bode, and starring studio art junior Kevin Zmick and English senior Christin Trogan. The movie is loosely based on The Catcher in the Rye, a J.D. Salinger novel about the extremes of the pursuit of happiness. The film will be shown at Magdalena’s Tea House Tuesday, May 2 at 8 p.m.

Cat Chow, Second Skin: Ingenuity Transforms Fashion into Art– Nearly 20 poetic garments by contemporary artist Cat Chow will be on display at Kresge Art Museum, May 6- July 28.

East Lansing Art Festival– The top-ranked festival will take place Saturday, May 20, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday, May 21, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. There are free concerts, an international food tent and free art activities.

HEARD

Your Mother Should Know: A Tribute to The Beatles– The Mac’s Bar show will be Saturday, May 6. Eleven bands are set to perform, including The Pantones, Dirt Road Logic, LaSalle, Canada, The Gentlemen Callers, Speakerphone, The Flouride Program, Hugh Jorgan Luau Band, The Pop Project, Jeff Raudebaugh and John LaCross.

The Plurals– will play Friday, May 12 at Magdalena’s Tea House with A Story Told. The show begins at 8 p.m.

Molly-Jean– will play Friday, May 12 at The Window in East Lansing.

The Dirtbombs– a Detroit staple, will play the Temple Club Friday, May 19 at 9 p.m. with The Ghettobillies and Dead Stream Corners. The show is $10 advanced tickets for 18 and up.

La Famiglia– Grand Rapids’ hip-hop ensemble that performed at our benefit bash in April will be at Mac’s Bar Friday, May 19.

Posted in Arts & CultureComments (0)

Best You\’ve Never Heard: The Velvet Audio

His body writhed and twisted across the carpeted floor, with no apparent concern for rug burns or muddy shoe prints. Marlon Hauser, the dynamic lead singer of Velvet Audio, a Detroit quintet of equally exuberant music-loving kids, brought together this fab five for the sole reason of rocking. And in their case, rocking hard.
[band1]Besides Hauser, Velvet Audio consists of Justin Walker and Ayinde Zuri on guitar, Brandon Weiner on bass and Zenas Jackson on drums.
Velvet Audio is one of those bands that exudes a Detroit hipster vibe, people who are way too cool for the likes of me, and probably even you. Yet, speaking to them in person makes no real claim for that. They’re just people trying to get by and play music for a living– but unlike you and me, they’re much, much cooler.
“I’ve been playing music for a while,” Hauser said. “That’s what I want to do. That’s what everyone else wants to do– especially at this point [in music], good, straightforward, honest artists to say what the hell is happening [in the world.]”

From the looks of it, Velvet Audio has a pretty good start doing just that. The entire band formed in the beginning of 2005 to play shows together after Hauser, Walker and Zuri met and began playing together. They then met Jackson and their former bass player and the spark was there. “It was instant chemistry,” Hauser laughed.
Hauser reluctantly labeled the band as “Detroit rock,” but made a point to say that they don’t have a certain style, since all the members formed from different backgrounds and “morphed into one type.”
For a taste of their kind of music, many comparisons have been made to the legendary hard-rocking Detroit band, MC5. Others look at the band and see a throwback to the days when musicians were definitively kick ass, yet cared about what was going on in the world around them. Whichever way you look at Velvet Audio, you’re sure to make some sort of comparison yourself. “Some say [we sound like] The [Rolling] Stones, Lenny Kravitz, Hendrix, Guided by Voices, even Blue Oyster Cult,” Hauser said.
The main reason you might not be able to subject a band to one certain breed is the fact that many of the good bands of today were listening to Motown, psychedelic funk and war protest anthems, by way of their parent’s 45s and tape decks.
“I had a pretty diverse upbringing,” Hauser said. “My parents were Black Panthers and listened to everything from Miles [Davis], John Lee [Hooker], Coltrane, The Stones. As for the rest of the band, [influences are] classic rock, new wave, early Joy Division, garage, techno, jazz.”
Before Hauser decided to devote his life to the pursuit of rock truth, he was a violin-playing rhythm and blues lover. “I was an R&B singer for a while,” Hauser said. “And then in my freshman year of college, I heard some Hendrix and it was like a switch just turned in my brain. I learned the guitar and began songwriting.”
He took Hendrix’s eccentric stage presence to heart and began his own form of playing to the crowd. Hauser is often seen bare-chested, stretched out on the stage floor belting “Revolution!” while Walker and Zuri peruse the crowd, guitars in tow, and Jackson keeps a weighty beat on drums.
[band3] “Our live show is pretty nuts, spontaneous,” Hauser said. “I guess our live show is better [than on their impending album], but it’s hard to tell.”
One show the band remembers well was their insane take at Dally in the Alley, a mini-Woodstock-type jam near Wayne State University in downtown Detroit during September. “Everyone who’s someone has played it– we headlined a stage,” Hauser said. “We were wasted out of our minds, so we played crazy and the audience wanted three encores. They mobbed us after and we signed autographs.”
That’s the type of performance to expect from Velvet Audio and their turn at one of Detroit’s historic music festivals stamped their place in a long line of bands in Detroit Rock City.
Being a Detroit band has its perks– great venues, big city and diverse fans, to name a few. “There’s a few good places to play and enough creative drive and talent,” Hauser said. “It’s an excellent jump-off point, most of the fans are amazing and cool.” But with great times usually comes a seedy underside that only those deeply involved within it know of.
About the Detroit scene, Hauser said, “I’m a bit jaded against it.” The segregation his parents fought so hard against still takes place in the music scene, according to Hauser. The mostly all-black band has felt the tension of Detroit’s music club, but refuses to let it get in the way.
Songs like “Revolution” are politically charged and represent the social conscious the band portrays.
And how would Hauser like to pose for a Rolling Stones cover, the infamous mecca for any band who wants to be known? “I’d like to pose with a Black Panther in the background behind me and then an American flag tying up my mouth,” Hauser said.

[band2]Velvet Audio mixes the funk and soul of James Brown and Curtis Mayfield and the bluesy rock of Hendrix, all while keeping true to their Detroit heritage with shout-outs to MC5, Stevie Wonder and The Stooges.
The band is scheduled for a number of concerts to tout their upcoming album, which will be available near the end of the summer. The album is produced by Jim Diamond, the White Stripes’ producer, and will feature 14 songs, a much heftier load than their three-song compilation disc that they have available now.
Look for Velvet Audio at a number of Detroit\’s rockin\’ venues: April 22 at Fifth Avenue, May 13 at the Painted Lady, June 10 at the Magic Bag and July 8 at the Masonic Temple. Want to hear a bit of the smooth jams for yourself? Visit their myspace website: www.myspace.com/velvetaudio1. Or just look for that super-cool band hanging out in Detroit making you look bad.

Posted in Arts & CultureComments (0)

Scene and Heard

SCENE

Obras de Mexico– This exhibit features Mexican artists from the twentieth century and is in Kresge Art Museum from March 25– April 30. Artists include David Alfaro Siqueiros, José Clemente Orozco, Jean Charlot, Alfredo Zalce and Juan Salazar.
Friday Night Film Series– A French New Wave film, Breathless, will play in the MSU library’s regular film night. Breathless uses classic French New Wave techniques: location shooting, improvised speech and a vague script. James Keller will present the film on Friday, April 7 at 7 p.m. in the library’s main conference room, W449.
Undergrad Exhibit Opening Reception– Kresge Art Museum will play host to undergraduate students on Friday, April 14. The reception takes place from 7–9 p.m. and is free to all.

HEARD

Neko Case– The sweet-voiced singer will perform at the Temple Club Saturday, April 1 at 7 p.m. All ages are welcome and tickets are $20. Case will perform with the High Dials.
Le Gusta and The Family Tree– The two bands will jam at Mac’s Bar Friday, April 7. Doors are at 9 p.m. and tickets are $5 for 21 and over and $8 for 18 and up.
Rock vs. Racism– Friday, April 21 at Mac’s Bar will showcase many bands rocking against racism. Bang! Bang!, The Avatars and Corporate Gun, as well as more unannounced bands will perform.
The Big Green Benefit Bash– The Family Tree, La Famiglia, Molly-Jean and many other fantastic local acts will be a part of the concert in the park- Valley Court Park, that is. The show will be Saturday, April 22 from 2-6 p.m. and will benefit Starfish Organization. Slam poetry, acoustic acts and a silent auction will also be part of the lineup. The event is free, but donations for the charity are welcome.
The Hard Lessons– The Detroit trio return from the West Coast Saturday, April 29 at the Temple Club. The show starts at 6 p.m., with a lineup including The Casionauts, Island View Drive and Aspyre. Tickets are $7 in advance and all ages are welcome.

Posted in Arts & CultureComments (0)

Scene and Heard

SCENE

Michigan Writer Series– Mark Yakich, a National Poetry Series winner and assistant professor of English at Central Michigan University, will speak at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 17 in the MSU Library’s main conference room (W449).

Friday Night Film Series– Umberto D will be presented by Joseph Francese, from the department of French, Classics and Italian. All films take place in the MSU Library in the main conference room (W449) at 7 p.m.

Celebration of the Arts– The annual event will take place at the Union on Friday, March 24, and at the International Center on Saturday, March 25. Visitors will be able to look at art submitted by MSU students and listen to live music.

Michigan Writer Series– Paul Clemens, author of Made in Detroit will speak Friday, March 31 at 7:30 p.m. in the MSU Library’s main conference room (W449).

HEARD

Open Mic Night– Wednesday, March 1 in the Union Main Lounge. Folk singers will start the event at 7, followed by an open mic from 8-10 p.m.

Saturday Looks Good to Me– Before they head off to the South by Southwest Music Festival in Texas, the Michigan band, along with The Czars, Shuttlecock and Canada, will play at Mac’s Bar Friday, March 3. Tickets are $8 for 21 and over, and $10 for 18+.

The Paybacks, The Muggs and Johnny Headband– Oh my! Three Detroit bands in one Temple Club, Friday, March 10 starting at 10 p.m. Tickets are $7 for 21+ and $10 for 18+.

Battle of the Bands– The fourth-annual concert showcases local talent in an American Idol-esque voting process. The winner of the show earns a $1500 gift certificate to Elderly Instruments, and second and third places receive $1000 and $500, respectively. Deadline for entry is March 3, and the show will take place on March 31 at the International Center. For more details, visit the UAB website, www.hfs.msu.edu

Posted in Arts & CultureComments (0)

Scene and Heard

SCENE

Blast from the Past: Art of the 1960s– Kresge Art Museum will feature a prolific spread of 55 works, including pop art, abstract expressionism, figurative expressionism, color field painting, geometric abstraction and op art. The exhibit is at Kresge from Jan. 9- March 19. ?

Being a Young Poet in the Cafes of New York City during the Sixties: A Poetry Reading by Diane Wakoski– Wakoski, a celebrated American poet and English professor at MSU will read and discuss selections of her poetry from the sixties. She has published more than forty collections of poetry. The reading will take place Thursday, Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. in the Kresge Art Museum.

Superbowl Sunday– Sunday, Feb. 5 at Mac’s Bar in Lansing. “Dollar Night” at the bar, with almost everything at $1 between 7 and 11 p.m. 21 and over only.

Friday Night Film Series– The film, Cold Mountain will be shown at the library’s biweekly event Feb. 10. The event begins at 7 p.m. in the North Conference room of the main library, W449.

Poetics of Sex and the Pornography of the Invisible: American Avant-Garde Film of the 1960s– Jennifer Fay and Justus Nieland, assistant English professors at MSU, will show short films and clips by Stan Brakhage and Andy Warhol, along with the Film Fuses by Carolee Schneemann. The program will take place Thursday, Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m. in Room 108, Kresge Art Center.

Friday Night Film Series– A Soldier’s Story, the 1984 film inspired by the Melville novel Billy Budd, will play at the library series Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. in W449 of the library. The film is based in a racially-divided Louisiana town in the 1940s, mixing war with baseball.

HEARD

Thunderbirds are Now!– The Detroit-area band will play at the Temple Club in Lansing on Thursday, Feb. 9 with Circle Takes the Square, Honeycutt and Junius. The show begins at 6 p.m. Tickets are $8 in advance. All ages!

The Hard Lessons– Our favorite East Lansing-turned-Detroit rockers will be at Mac’s Bar Friday, Feb. 10. The trio will play with The Holy Fire and Johnny Headband. The show is 18 and over, with tickets at $6 for 21+ and $8 for 18-20.

The High Strung– Brooklyn’s own will be at Mac’s Thursday, Feb. 16.

A Story Told– The local band will play at Magdalena’s Tea House on Friday, Feb. 19

Animal Collective– The electronic-folk band will breeze through Lansing at the Temple Club as a stop in the Midwest part of their North American tour. Playing with the band will be First Nation and Barr on Friday, Feb. 24. The show will begin at 8 p.m., and tickets are $10. All ages welcome.

OH MY GOD– with Lasalle and The Nice Device at Mac’s on Saturday, Feb. 25. Doors open at 9 p.m. Tickets are $6 for 21 and up, $8 for 18-20.

Posted in Arts & CultureComments (0)

The Chronicles of Nanowrimo

In the terms of Nanowrimo, the National Novel Writing Month contest, I am a complete and utter failure. As I write this on the 19th of November, past the halfway mark in which 25,000 words should have magically traveled from my brain down to the tips of my fingers and into my Apple, I’ve found that I’m concentrating more on the article about writing the novel than the novel itself. Where did November go?[computer1]
It was only two and half short weeks ago that I decided to take up the challenge of writing a novel. Neophyte that I am, I signed up with glee, thinking that 50,000 words total, a “novella” as some would call it, since it would take up only 175 pages, would be rather easy since I loved writing. I guess I forgot I was a full-time student, magazine editor and former caterer, who was trying to have a life. Nonetheless, on Nov. 2, I was enraptured with the idea that writing a novel would be the first step towards greatness and a writing career.
Starting was obviously and most definitely the easy part. I decided to do so, thanks in part to my cousin, Kevin, whom I noticed was signed up, too. That gave me the kick to actually do something about it, to start the process and craziness that is Nanowrimo.
Favorite authors? Check. A list comprised of Lewis Carroll, Kate Chopin, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ray Bradbury and Zadie Smith encompassed the profile made to look like a page out of the unwritten book I was supposed to be writing. [the1]Best music to write to? Got it. Give me classical, Bob Dylan, Sigur Rós and Coldplay, and I’ll write all night. Well, as long as it’s not the novel, because we all now know how that turned out. Non-writing interests? All written down. Wow, did I really put in ‘other types of writing?’ I did what I thought was impossible- I looked dorky among a website full of ‘em (and in the best way possible of course, since I associate myself as one.) The profile, as any unassuming checklist of your life can be, was elementary because, hey, who doesn’t mind writing down a few facts that will let others know who you are?
The actual idea of an organization supporting fellow novices like myself is a treat for the creative writing community. The website, www.nanowrimo.org, is a far better teacher-over-your-shoulder than even the real thing. By signing up, I allowed my trials and tribulations to be seen by the thousands of participants at any give whim. The idea that the public could be watching me was exhilarating, yet extremely frightening. For those first few days when November still smelled like fall, I thought that I would definitely get this novel done, because I didn’t want to look bad in a community I so badly wanted to be a part of. [opus1]But then again, I did just end a sentence with a preposition, so where do I find the nerve in thinking I’m good enough to write a novel, much less be applauded for it?
I often made up dreams (you know, the kind when you are just about to fall asleep, but are fully aware of your senses, and can just guide yourself through the thoughts) about what would happen had I wrote this novel. Obviously, I received the acclaim of MSU and the surrounding community. After being thanked by LouAnna for inspiring the students and residents, I was whisked off to NYC to start the dream of what I’ve always wanted- to get my work published. Although none of this is true (dammit), it couldn’t hurt to dream, could it?
Actually, I should’ve been spending those moments that were embodied in dreamland writing away so I could get to that particular spot. In Nanowrimo speak, it didn’t matter that I was an English and creative writing major, or had a background in writing at all. All walks of life found their niche within the month’s goal, constructing what was ten times better than my own work. One of the best things about my attempts at Nanowrimo was the humility I gained because the fact that I couldn’t finish a page made me realize I still have a long way to go.
Was I really so blind to relinquish all thoughts of school and work in the name of novel writing? I laugh at myself now, because it seems as if I was a silly teenager in the early days of November, looking to write an irrational number of words, instead of the worldly and knowledgeable 20-year-old face I’m wearing, adjusting to the cold hard facts that I just failed at something I attempted.[stocking]

The group on Facebook for Nanowrimo is 14 members strong. I get e-mails from the regional group leader, asking me if I’d like to bring my laptop or scratch pad to a local coffee shop to converse with fellow novel-writing folk and be inspired to write those last 49,908 words that I still have working inside of my head. (Honest! I’ve got all the ideas, but only 92 words have actually made it onto a page. No one said novel-writing was easy…)

And as the reader happens upon this, a new month has ascended, and the National Novel Writing Month has ceased, thus ending my hopes that I might finish the novel. Although my tale might echo many others who had to give up for a variety of reasons, there are success stories among the almost 60,000 participants. It might not be interesting to some that there is a website and an organization that devotes itself fully to the shaping of authors young and old attempting to speed-write their way through an entire novel. But isn’t that what all writers have to face- knowing that not everyone is nearly as interested in what they may produce as they might want? [trash1]
It’s a curious way in which a story becomes a novel. The possibility of the impossible, a theme found in so many of the great books we’ve become accustomed to, is perhaps the greatest lesson Nanowrimo gives. By encompassing oneself wholly, perhaps a novel really can be achieved. One of these days, I might finish this novel. My opus, as was Mr. Holland’s, might be a lifelong journey that culminates near the end of my career. Or perhaps I’ll follow in the footsteps of Mary Shelley and Zadie Smith, writing a masterpiece (Frankenstein and White Teeth, respectively) at a tender age. Whatever I do, only the chronicles of Nanowrimo will know for sure.

Posted in Arts & CultureComments (0)