While it has only been a year, it is already hard to imagine listening to radio without Indie88. Kicking off its official launch on Sept. 3, 2013, Indie88 recently celebrated its first birthday, leaving me to reflect on all that it has achieved.
Upon release Indie88 sought to offer an alternative to top-40 pop hits, and the increasing lack of variety that 102.1 The Edge was offering, hoping to provide an outlet for “indie” music that didn’t get the attention it deserved. While it was hard not to cringe at the idea of anything explicitly describing itself as “indie,” I couldn’t help but feel excited. Radio to me had become the primary way to expose myself to top-40 music – something I do enjoy – and the idea of discovering music outside of that genre was something I had all but abandoned.
So what happened? Well, the station certainly took some time to find its bearings. Having grown to resent the stale playlists of The Edge, I was skeptical when the station started off playing some of their tried and true favourites. This Edge nightmare included, among others, a collection of Bob Marley tracks to chill you out, a strong mix of Arcade Fire, Metric, and City and Colour songs to comply with Canadian content laws, and an uncomfortably large amount of Rise Against.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Arcade Fire as much as the next guy, but those bands weren’t exactly expanding my musical horizons. In fact, more often than not it seemed 102.1 The Edge looked to play only tracks that were popular three years ago, refusing to dip their radio toes into a pool of artists that were popular, but not receiving radio attention. I wanted to find out about someone new. I wanted a change of pace.
I quickly began to realize that Indie88 and I shared a very similar vision. Whenever I tuned in, popular artists like Vampire Weekend, Alt-J, and Bloc Party filled the air just as often as Arcade Fire or Metric, creating a fresh balance of tracks that catered to a wider audience. Moreover, instead of simply relying entirely on Dallas Green and Emily Haines to uphold Canadian content laws, Indie88 played artists like Purity Ring, Caribou, and Hannah Georgas, further adding to the variety. Indie88 even made sure to flip through a few 80s classics and other artists that younger audiences might not be familiar with, to further mix things up.
The more I listened, the more I found new songs I liked. As time passed, it became a kind of unwritten rule amongst my friends to just put Indie88 on by default, as it had “something for everyone”. While the station is still far from perfect, it has helped to shake up radio in the Greater Toronto Area, and for that I am truly thankful. So happy birthday Indie88, keep on bringing fresh music to commuters everywhere. To quote the high school yearbook classic: “you rock, don’t ever change.”
The Sil is hiring for 17 paid positions that will run from September 2014 to April 2015. McMaster students who will be taking 18 units or more the next academic year are encouraged to apply, regardless of journalism experience. Apply if you have an interest in writing, multimedia, photography and/or videography. Apply if you want to work with other student journalists to open dialogues that are important to students and add to dialogues initiated outside the campus press. Apply even and especially if you're not sure you'd be the 'right fit' for this.
Submit a resume and cover letter by signing into the MSU's job portal: https://www.msumcmaster.ca/jobs. The deadline to apply is Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at 11:59 p.m.
Positions available are listed below (* indicates newly-created positions):
Distribution Coordinator (non-editorial)
It was one year ago this Valentine’s Day that I found my grandpa’s body.
On an otherwise usual Thursday, I arrived home after an anthropology tutorial to find him laid down by a heart attack at the side door of the home we shared. He hadn’t made it inside.
A lot of things changed on that day. I lost my housemate, my grandfather and my friend. The world lost a scientist, a beer-connoisseur and a remarkable human being. As anyone who has lost loved ones will know, that day was the first day of a journey I didn’t choose to embark upon; one I didn’t even realize was in motion until long afterwards.
Such journeys, of course, are not without their ups and downs – some immediate, some down the road. I found out what it feels like to ride in the front of an ambulance in a state of shock. I know what it’s like to hold the hand of a person you’ve known your whole life, when their hand has no life left in it. I realized the inanity of the things we cling to, as I grieved the melting of the snow bank into which he had fallen.
I discovered what it is to have the association of an innocent object trigger a wave of uncontrollable sadness, and that this is inevitable as much in private as it is in public. I became anxious that I would lose more people that I loved suddenly, soon, without warning. I also questioned the fact that grandpa died on Valentine’s Day.
“Why did it have to happen on Valentine’s Day?” I repeatedly asked myself. I suppose I was worried that this celebratory day would be spoiled by sadness, or that the inescapable nature of such a heavily advertised day would be hard to bear.
I’ve discovered that neither is the case. In fact, my feelings are quite contrary.
I’m now glad Valentine’s was the day. For what other day of the year is entirely devoted to love? Behind the commercialism, superficiality and fanfare of February 14, the essence of love remains.
Valentine’s has become a reminder of my wonderful, supportive friends, of the strength of my family and the love I have for them, and of the romantic love I share with my partner. Valentine’s isn’t just for lovers - it’s for love of all sorts: friendly, familial and romantic. And it’s for the kind of love that lingers in my memory of a time, a place and a person who is lost but never forgotten – especially on Feb. 14.
Senior ANDY Editor
I have grown up loving Woody Allen. I have been inspired by his ability for storytelling, by his witty humour, his incredible creativity. I have found his films emotionally engaging, intellectually stimulating, and entertaining for their beautiful cinematography and vibrant settings. My love for Woody has grown and developed over the years and has allowed me to negotiate complicated ideas. I can relate to many of his female characters while also being critical of the way they have been portrayed. I can find his love stories funny and honest but also unrealistic and weird. I can be comforted by having human anxieties articulated but also accepting of the undeniable condescension of those some narratives. I have read his biographies, watched the documentaries about him, and even looked beyond his cinema at his ventures into theatre and literature. He has been an important creative role model in my life and I stand first in line for every new film (which is an admirable feat considering how prolific the man is). But now I feel lost and disgusted, both with myself and with Woody.
This past weekend, Dylan Farrow, 28, the adopted daughter of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, released a scathing letter that accuses her father of sexually molesting her when she was seven. In it, she throws down the gauntlet to the entire Hollywood establishment, which has recently honoured Mr. Allen for a lifetime of achievement. Anyone who’s a friend of Mr. Allen, she charged, is no friend of sexually abused children. Of course, in the days that have followed, articles have surfaced with details of the story that support Woody, or at least complicate the issue. At the time of the alleged abuse, he and Mia Farrow were locked in a custody fight. She was furious over his affair with Soon-Yi (her 21-year-old adopted daughter) and Allen believes that Mia coached Dylan to tell the abuse story. There is evidence to back him up. Dylan’s story changed several times, the doctors found no physical damage at the time, and Allen’s psychiatric and lie-detector tests support his stance. Mia has been cited as being unstable, and she apparently sent Woody a Valentine’s card that told him, “You took my daughter, and I am going to take yours.”
Of course, none of this information is particularly compelling. Woody Allen is rich and powerful, and his influence almost certainly helped his case. This would not be the first time that a celebrity has evaded criminal charges through their position. And calling Mia crazy and unstable is not a new defense against women seeking to resist injustice, and for me, the sexism undermines its validity. Abuse victims have always been silenced by our society and regularly blamed for their traumas. It would be easy for me to call upon Woody’s defense in an attempt to reassure myself that it is okay to keep liking him. I could use the additional information that the headlines have likely purposefully excluded and tell myself that I can carry on – both Woody and his fans are innocent until proven guilty! While this might allow me to remain selfishly steadfast in my love for the man and his work, it would be shallow and hypocritical. If I can recognize at least some of the hegemonic structures at work in this story, I cannot simply discount them because they involve an artist who has deeply influenced me.
So what now then? How to reconcile the possibility that a brilliant artist might actually be a horrible man? The question of should we and could we separate the art from the artist has always been with us. From Roman Polanksi to Coco Chanel to Pablo Neruda to Orson Scott Card to Wagner to Esra Pound to T.S. Eliot. Anti-Semitism turns up so often in the résumés of 20th-century artists that it almost seems part of the job description.
Perhaps it’s relevant to consider the extent of immorality. Is a rapist more deplorable than a racist? A misogynist worse than a homophobe? A child molester worse than a murderer? Maybe in the case of comparing a psychopath to a sexist the seriousness of the crime becomes relevant. But otherwise, the area is so gray and so subjective that these debates of moral relativism are likely not relevant.
It’s easy to point out that in the case of the artist, badness or goodness is a moral quality or judgment; in the case of the art goodness and badness are terms of aesthetic merit, to which morality does not apply. But it seems confusing and contradictory. When you experience art, it seems ennobling. It challenges our assumptions, changes our discriminations, broadens our horizons, and indirectly asks us to be more sensitive, human, vulnerable, honest. Surely, we imagine, art makes us better people. And if art has this power over those simply experience it, then it must have endowed something far more inspirational in the creator of the art. Clearly this is not necessarily the case.
Woody Allen has a new film coming out and I was looking forward to seeing it. Especially since it’s starring Emma Stone and she seems perfect for an Allen script. I want to support the art, but not the artist. But this is impossible – the two seem inextricable. It will be easier to draw the lines when Woody dies, but given that he’s going strong at seventy-four, this is not currently a viable (hah) option. And what kind of person does that make me, wishing death upon someone so I can go to the movies?
So far, there have been two couples in my life that have made the strongest cases for marriage: my parents, and Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
The former has been an ongoing persuasion since as long as I can remember, where I grew up watching two people as they brought out the best in each other. The latter, however, were almost as swaying in a matter of moments and in a midst of smoke at the Grammys three nights ago. Although it’s true that what they offered was still part of their public image (it was on a stage after all), it was nonetheless a product I might someday be willing to buy.
They sang Beyoncé’s “Drunk in Love,” which is essentially an anthem for their fantastic and enthralling sex life. And their performance was definitely sexy – but also fun, playful, and showed a partnership that seemed adventurous and exciting and powerful. Rarely do we see a portrayal of marriage in this light. It’s often about settling down, slowing down, reorganizing priorities so you are no longer at the top, having kids, getting a mortgage, staying home from work – being responsible and respectable and wearing white.
Although there’s nothing wrong with any of those decisions, none of it seems particularly appealing to me. I found it refreshing to watch a performance celebrating marriage for the professional, sexual, and creative fulfillment it can offer.
At this year’s Grammy Awards, the only thing bigger than Pharrell Williams’ hat was the social media backlash. I didn’t watch the whole ceremony, but I was frequently checking in through Facebook, and amid the deluge of posts about the awards’ outrageous irrelevancy, one in particular caught my attention.
Aside from some grammatical polish, the comment was essentially as follows: “The music industry has changed, it’s not the 1970s anymore.” A few others echoed this sentiment, although names have been withheld to protect the innocent.
Such golden-age thinking should be familiar to anyone who has ever watched a Pink Floyd video on YouTube. Of course, the obvious rebuttal is that a lot of uninspiring music was also popular in the 70s. Over time, the chaff gets forgotten.
But this commenter’s paean to the music industry of yesteryear became especially ironic at the end of the evening, when the biggest award went to an album that sounds, for the most part, like it was recorded in 1979.
Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories won Album of the Year, and the helmeted duo shared the honour with a host of collaborators who rose to prominence four decades ago.
Before Nile Rodgers’ infectious strumming on “Get Lucky” made that song the official anthem of H&M change rooms worldwide, it could be heard on 70s disco chart-toppers by Chic and Sister Sledge.
Giorgio Moroder, in turn, was used to working with machines well before the robots recruited him. His synthesized backing tracks for Donna Summer laid the groundwork for electronic dance music in the mid-70s.
It is almost certainly true that the Grammys are irrelevant and pointless, although everybody who made this complaint online while simultaneously watching the telecast kind of undermined themselves.
But the stance that the awards somehow demonstrate the music industry’s fall from grace seems wrongheaded, especially in the year of the robots.
Senior ANDY Editor
Four of ANDY’s top five films of 2013 are love stories – Her, The Past, Blue is the Warmest Colour, and Upstream Color. Although these films are far more than their love stories – each one offers a whole universe of ideas and relationships – a common thread that runs through each work is a magnetic romance that both pulls and propels.
It’s true that most films contain love stories. They’re used as plot devices, as symbols, and as means of attracting audiences who want to see beautiful, naked bodies writhing on the big screen. Sometimes they are undeveloped, haphazard and corny. Often times they’re dishonest and silly and will only fill our most shallow longings.
But occasionally, a love story will stir something deep inside – it will invoke and articulate an emotion or an idea that we only ever felt instinctively. It will attach words to our desires, characters to our anxieties, and stories to our fears and dreams. We insist that the love stories of 2013 in our list do just that. But I am curious about what kind of information they reveal about us – why these love stories, why now?
We could look at Her and Upstream Color and comment on the giant, nearly unsurpassable space between the lovers. Does this speak to the loneliness of the modern age? Is Her about our love story with technology – how it makes us accessible, it unifies us, and yet alienates and disconnects us?
But this, to me, does not feel adequate. This brief interpretation is not sufficient for describing the true depth of emotion and intensity that this film brings to the surface. There’s something more here, something more about human intimacy and how it can be expressed and experienced in unique and unpredictable ways. At times, Twombly’s love-filled conversations with the digitized Samantha feel not unlike someone’s internal dialogue with a character in a book, or a musician in a song, or an actor in a movie. In each case, there is something strange and paradoxical going on – you look inwards, while also looking outwards.
Or we could think about Blue and say that its love story is a political statement – that it works to promote relationships and stories that subvert heteronormative narratives. But this too feels terse and incomplete.
Again, this story was too present, too fresh, too alive and too breathlessly engaging for so shallow a political analysis. This was more a film about human sexuality, about human connection, about how romantic love somehow speaks to our most desperate desire for contact. It was about how people find each other, fall apart, move on, and then spend forever wondering what happened and how they ended up here.
The Past expresses some of these same questions – how do relationships have this ability to be so fleeting and yet stay inside us for so long? How do we give ourselves over to another person so completely, fully aware that if they go, they’ll really be gone?
Bad love stories are really bad. Nauseatingly, loss-of-faith-in-humanity-bad. But good love stories – they’re really, really good. Sometimes they will carefully probe – other times they will aggressively challenge. But most of all, they make us feel less alone in our curious, inexplicable longings. Our top five films did that for us, and we hope that they may do the same for you.
Assistant ANDY Editor
One of the great mysteries of ANDY is our best-of-the-year list selection process. No more. In the interest of transparency, the formula is revealed here for the first time.
In order to keep up with the best of world cinema, our foreign correspondents attend many far-flung film festivals. We also take notes on countless films in the Silhouette screening room. While most theatres offer oversized cardboard soft drink cups, our private auditorium is equipped with graduated cylinders so we can catch our reviewers’ tears and quantify their emotional response.
ANDY is equally obsessive about tracking the year’s biggest and best albums. We don’t just sift through the endless stream of promotional copies that pour into the Silhouette office. When Kanye premiered the video for “New Slaves” by projecting it against a wall in Williamsburg, our reviewers were on an adjacent rooftop with a pair of binoculars. When Beyoncé abruptly dropped her latest album at midnight on Dec. 13, a lot of people stayed up late to listen. Our writers haven’t slept since her last record came out.
Once each writer’s best-of-the-year ballot is complete, they are sent in individual, sealed envelopes to the Silhouette’s auditor. The ballots, not the writers.
Just kidding. Obviously that story has more loopholes than the plot of Gravity. In reality, these rankings were decided over dinner at the Phoenix, using a napkin-based tabulation system. Like all best-of lists, our picks are hardly authoritative. These are some of the films and albums that affected our writers most in 2013. Feel free to agree, disagree or scribble your own napkin.
Assistant ANDY Editor
You might not read this fact in any recruitment brochure, but the most distinctive feature of McMaster’s campus is presently a gaping hole in the ground. This state of affairs will likely persist until September 2015, when construction on L.R. Wilson Hall is scheduled for completion.
Even though the new Humanities building is not yet standing, the emerging superstructure does stand for something. The site symbolizes the convergence of several different kinds of creativity. The engineers who designed the new building and the musicians who will someday perform in its 450-seat concert hall are bound together by their common creative spirit.
I started seeing the girders and concrete forms this way after reading Richard Florida’s The Rise of the Creative Class, Revisited (2012). According to the author, the titular class is a fundamental driver of economic growth and anyone who creates new ideas or engages in complex problem solving is already a member.
Florida also offers a compelling vision of how universities fit into this creative economy. Although he never specifically mentions Hamilton, Florida’s observation that many cities have transitioned from manufacturing to “meds and eds” sure sounds familiar. Yet Florida cautions that educational institutions should not be viewed as self-contained and inexhaustible economic engines. Universities don’t just “crank out research projects that can be spun off into companies.”
On the contrary, universities have the potential to play a much broader role in growing prosperous communities. By fostering technology, talent and tolerance, universities can contribute to “quality of place.” This encompasses all the characteristics that define a place and make it attractive, from architecture to art crawls.
In this way, Florida argues that universities and their surrounding communities are profoundly interdependent. Universities bring together talented people who generate new ideas and knowledge. Vibrant communities, in turn, encourage these individuals to pursue their projects locally and attract still more creative types. Thus, the benefit that a university brings to its community is less a straight line than a self-reinforcing circle.
From this perspective, helping to organize an artist’s talk for the Spotlight on the Arts festival, an activity that improves quality of place, is arguably as important to regional growth and vitality as programming the next Tinder.
Not all of Florida’s theories are so persuasive. He acknowledges that creating quality of place can sometimes resemble gentrification, but fails to elaborate. Furthermore, his concluding argument that all jobs can ultimately be made creative seems like tacked-on panacea for any accusations of elitism. I am also mystified by his guess that “if Bob Dylan were to come along today, his agent would probably send him to the weight room.”
Nevertheless, the model of the university as a “creative hub,” rather than just an assembly line for patents and spin-off companies, remains powerful.
With this in mind, the Wilson Hall construction does not have to be an eyesore for the next year and a half. Rather, the site can be seen as a reminder that all students, regardless of their faculty, are connected by the camaraderie of their creativity and can contribute to a community as vibrant as the brightly painted slats of the construction fence.
Well, it has been quite a ride.
After nearly a year of trying to cope with depression and generalized anxiety disorder, I have chosen to withdraw from McMaster in order to get my bearings.
This probably does not mean much to you, as I am just a guy with a face in a newspaper. But maybe I should mean something to you.
I – along with some other editors at The Sil – am a real person and have faced real struggles. We have discussed it here in a handful of articles. You may have struggled, too, or you could be struggling right now. And that is okay.
Trying to grind through this for a year is my biggest regret – the only part of my whole story that I am ashamed about. Saying I was okay and that it would blow over only made it worse, and I should have been honest with myself.
That is the takeaway I want anyone to have from my experience. If you are feeling depressed or anything close to that, it is not going to change unless you do.
People will support you, you just have to let them.
Senior ANDY Editor
A few nights ago, I watched Pan’s Labyrinth for the first time. It’s a Spanish film about a young girl who escapes her broken family and war-torn environment by indulging in fantasies that come from her many fictional books.
The story inspired in me a kind of emotional turmoil that can only be matched by my frustrated hate-love affair with the likes of other extremely sad films (e.g. Life is Beautiful). The movie was shocking and made me cry, but I was also left feeling sorely confused. The young female protagonist triumphs in the face of imaginary evils and emerges as the princess of a fictional realm, but in “real life,” she is not so lucky. In fact, her desperate desire to engage in her fantasies ultimately leads to the film’s tragic ending. I was left, heartbroken and distraught, wondering – what was the purpose of it all? Her beloved books gave her moments of happiness, but – they were ineffective as a means of contending with her reality. For the first time ever, I was convinced – maybe she should have read less.
The film is far more intricate and gorgeous than this brief description of my own personal struggle with the story. It is likely that I have missed the point. Please watch it, come find me in the Silhouette office, and convince me that I am wrong. I can be very easily convinced that reading is what saved her, and not what killed her.
This is a work of art that has deeply affected me. In this semester’s final issue of ANDY, we have included works of art that have moved our writers in some way. Send us yours?
Assistant ANDY Editor
Not many movies play at Westdale Theatre, but the select few that do are almost always high calibre. Unfortunately, The Way Way Back was an exception. I saw the film this summer and was unimpressed by its clichéd coming-of-age story about a teenager vacationing with his family in a sleepy seaside town.
I was surprised, then, when David Sedaris used a similar premise to craft the most affecting thing I read this semester.
In his autobiographical essay “Now We Are Five,” which appeared in The New Yorker on Oct. 28, Sedaris chronicles a recent family trip to a beach house off the coast of North Carolina.
Sadly, Sedaris’ family is incomplete. His estranged adult sister Tiffany committed suicide shortly before the vacation began, and her absence lurks underneath Sedaris’ characteristically wry anecdotes about beaches and BarcaLoungers.
Even though summer vacation is far from mind in first semester, Sedaris’ piece struck a chord. I am happy to be back in school and reconnecting with the people that I have gotten to know over the past four years. Yet, I am also always mindful that at this time next year most of these same people will have graduated and scattered in different, far-flung directions.
I do not want to liken anything that I have experienced this semester to the loss of a family member to suicide. Nevertheless, Sedaris’ delicate balance of humour and pensiveness absolutely captured my current state of mind.
When I look back on the first three months of my fourth year, I think about “Now We Are Five.”