On One Hand

April 20, 2007

4:20

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 4:20 pm
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I was disappointed when my mom said she saw “tens of thousands” of people gathered in Civic Center Park in Denver on 4:20pm, April 20 this year. It was late that night when I spoke to her, and she said the video clip on the news showed that the “whole park was packed” with people. I knew that meant a lot of protesters in favor of reforming marijuana laws, since Civic Center Park is huge; I have been to festivals there that were said to have held upwards of 100,000 people.

I was disappointed with my mom’s story only because it suggested Denver’s celebration was bigger than Boulder’s – and therefore I missed out on a truly historical event. I was out on Boulder’s 4:20 field, in front of the library on the CU campus, and Boulder’s gathering was impressive in itself. But perhaps in light of Denver County’s recent decriminalization or marijuana as city ordinance, and the University of Colorado’s attempts to crack down on 4:20 smokers in the past few years, the epicenter of the celebration has shifted away from the university toward the state capital 20 miles away.

But no, according to all the local media, Denver’s apparent throngs of people were an illusion in the video my mother saw. The Rocky Mountain News reports that there were 100 police at Civic Center Park and almost as many arrests, and, as the same paper reports in another article, “over 700 people” at the rally.

Meanwhile, the News reports about 3,500 pot smokers on the Norlin Quad field in the center of the CU campus, says the News. A handful of police were there keeping an eye on the protest, but few tickets were issued. Several of the local businesses and restaurants adjacent to campus; like Dominos Pizza and Chiba Hut subs, sent vendors out to the field to sell food. There were whole pizzas, t-shirts and sandwiches, all sold for $4.20 apiece.

I was on the field at 4:20 distributing copies of the 4th issue of il.lit.er.ate Magazine. We got out about 250 copies and another 250 up on the Hill where the students meandered to buy food after smoking. I didn’t smoke anything myself, (I hardly ever do anymore), even on this smoker-friendly day. It’s just not my thing. I was more into the spectacle, which is the biggest protest I have ever seen on a CU campus.

Last year’s 4:20 was on Farrand Field, a field near the dorms where the celebration is traditionally held. The event was huge my freshman year – a special date, being 4.20.2004, but after that, CU’s reputation as a “party school” and subsequent media debacles with riots, drinking-related deaths, and ousted professor Ward Churchill left the university hoping to prevent 4:20 from being a chance for more public criticism. The next year’s 4:20 was rainy, and the field was closed down, so students gathered in the parking lot adjacent and rushed over the barricades at the last minute. Cops turned the field’s sprinkler system on, but there were so many bodies on the field that the water didn’t reach most of them. The next year, cops cracked down again, barricading the field and photographing people who went on to it anyway. Photos were posted Online, and anyone who identified one of the pot-smokers got a $50 reward while the identified person got a $100 ticket. The CU police department got its ass sued off after the ploy; apparently, while smoking pot is illegal, doing it in a specific place and time is protected speech and the smokers’ citations, which were issued for “trespassing,” were void.

This year all of Farrand Field is turned up under construction. It is unfathomable to me how it takes a full year to remodel a field, which consists of grass and dirt, but the university has had Farrand Field closed since August and it is currently walled off by 8-foot construction fences and enormous mountains of dirt and gravel.

Norlin Field was the alternative, and it seems to have been a good one: law enforcement officials resigned themselves to let the peacefully-indulgent protest happen. So 3,500 giggly and hug-happy stoned students proved that it isn’t that big of a deal.

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March 24, 2006

Cabaret

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 4:06 pm
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I am so proud of my boyfriend right now! He just starred in a CU student-produced version of the musical Cabaret, and his performance made me tingle in ways I never have outside his bedroom. The show was awesome, Clay’s voice was awesome, Clay’s acting was awesome, and it’s been the talk of the campus (at least the portion of campus that I interact with) for the last few days. The show opened on Tuesday and the seats were only half filled, but by Thursday word-of-mouth acclaim boosted the performance so that tickets sold out just as the show opened, and on Friday, the last performance, tickets sold out around 2 pm. That Friday is the Friday that spring break starts, so on a campus where the majority of students are flooding out for ski trips and week-long escapes to the Bahamas the show has managed to be enough of a draw that person after person is being turned down for lack of space.

Unfortunately the Campus Press, the paper I write for, didn’t publish an article about the show until the fourth day, when tickets were already sold out anyway. I begged my editors to assign a story to someone, saying it was good news because the student-produced (and highly controversial) show was unique, but no reporters volunteered to take the story. I couldn’t take the article myself because of the conflict of interest, seeing as how my boyfriend is the lead actor and I know the director and producer, Ira Spector, and many of the actors through Clay. So finally, since I would not let it go, and also because, as I would argue, the article was very worthwhile to begin with, my paper’s editor-in-chief wrote a review of the show when he saw it Thursday night.

The online review of Cabaret was glowing, which is not only good for the people who struggled to put Cabaret together, but also gives me AWESOME BOYFRIEND POINTS for getting my paper to do the review. Clay will be leaving me for Mexico tomorrow, but now goes on a high note and I’ll hope it carries until he gets back.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Cabaret, it’s about a risque strip-club/brothel in Berlin in the early 1930’s, when Nazi politics were gathering power in Germany before World War II. As the characters take their seemingly unpolitical roles, a frightening political energy slowly begins to build and is eventually looming over every personal relationship. Frequenters of the nightclub form a tight-knit community, sort of like a pornographic and historical musical version of the sitcom Cheers. The main character, Cliff (who Clay played) is an American writer who travels to Berlin to write a novel, gets tangled in some pretty deviant sexual relatoinships, and eventually has to choose between staying with the girl he falls in love with and fleeing Germany as the Nazis gather strength. He is also forced to choose to stay with or disown friends when they announce affiliation with the Nazi party. Everyone is slutty as hell, engaging in twosomes, threesomes, prostitution, abortions, same-sex love, heterosexual love and an especially poignant relationship between a German Jewish man and an older German woman who, as antisemitism becomes a serious movement in Berlin, has to choose between facing ostracisation by marrying a Jew and dumping her fiance. The show is funny, cute, sexy, lascivious and poignant in today’s world where people are saying, just as they did in 1930s Germany, “yeah, shit’s happening but it will never go that far, it can’t, this is Germany.” Cabaret is an extremly powerful play and Ira Spector (the producer and director) did not spare any controversy, re-adding some of the originally-intended homosexual energy that was omitted in the Hollywood version from the 70s and arranging the play’s title poster collage into an ominous swastika.

I am standing in awe of Clay and falling for him more every day, hoping and praying that it works out between us. We’ve been having a lot of problems that tend to sit on his side of the situation and there is little I can do to help him overcome his turmoil. But we’ve had a wonderful last few days: we fought a lot but it turned out good because we got some things out in the open where they could be more easily worked out. (That always happens when we fight.) We took a shower together this morning and Clay turned off the light and lit some candles. I hummed Cabaret songs to myself while he washed my hair. We’ve had a few awkward moments. I had to watch Clay kiss four people on stage, and I went to see the show twice so it happened twice, and on Tuesday night our date that I asked for got canceled. There were problems with condoms being too small, problems with me crying and not being able to stop, and finally, a problem with us getting walked-in on by Clay’s roommate. But if we work out it will be worth it. I am nervous but happy.

January 20, 2006

Sorrority Story

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 12:28 pm
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When caught in a stampede of 400 shrieking sorrority girls, strange thoughts flash through your mind. I’ve been hopelessly tossed through mobs before, in riots on Halloween 2004 when 1,500 drunk and angry university students fled down College Avenue to escape rubber bullets and thick clouds of tear gas. It’s humbling to find yourself equally hopless in a mob of a third as many 90-pound blondes.

I was sent on assignment for the Campus Press to a gymnasium where roughly 350 girls would discover which sorrorities they were accepted into. The article was about a situation called “deferred rush,” which is when sorrorities recruit freshmen in the spring rather than the fall.

I got to the gymnasium about 40 minutes before the event began, just after dark. I waited patiently by the door while a few 20-year-old girls gathered in the room to set up. The Director of Greek Affairs waited with them, and I would occasionally talk to him or random girls to ask if any person I could interview had arrived.

“Do you know who Katie Matthews is?” I asked one young woman with straight blonde hair and blue eyes. Katie Matthews, I was told, is the spokesperson for all of the sorrorities at CU and I hoped to get a quote about how the community feels about recruitment in the spring.

“Yes, I know her,” the woman told me, “but she’s not here. Do you know what she looks like?”

I shook my head.

“Well she’s got these really pretty big eyes,” she told me, pointing at her eyes, “and really pretty curly brown hair.” She pointed at her own blonde hair. “Got it?” She smiled, revealing two rows of perfect teeth.

Knowing that Katie Matthews has brown hair was actually quite helpful, since virtually everyone in the room so far was blonde. I thanked the woman for her time and wandered across the room as more gathered. I didn’t think I recognized anyone matching the woman’s description in the fifteen or so people present, so went back to the person I just talked to in case Matthews had come in and I missed her.

I caught the woman’s attention and asked if Matthews had come in.

“What?” the blonde stared at me, confused.

“Is Katie Matthews here yet?” I repeated “I talked to you just a minute ago, didn’t I?”

“Uh, no.” She shook her head, then smiled. I had approached the wrong person.

I wanted to ask, do you, uh, have a twin?

Less than 20 minutes later over 400 girls were in the room, most laughing and chattering as they anxiously awaited their bids. I clung fearfully to the Campus Press photographer, sneaking around the edges of the room and picking out people to question.

“I feel so out of place,” the photographer told me when existing sorrority members began performing a dance for the new recruits. She quickly lowered her camera to snap photos as the row of dancers lept two and fro across a line on the hardwood floor.

Girls received their bids soon after. Gathered in groups of about 15, each led by an existing sorroity member, new recruits opened envelopes containing the greek letters of the house that would take them in. One by one, girls in each group would gasp and begin jumping and screaming. And once a girl began screaming, that’s what she did, for the rest of the night. The volume gradually rose to a deafening din over a seething mass of shiny-haired heads exactly five and a half feet from the ground.

A few girls, unhappy with their bids, slipped out the door in tears. Wary of the increasingly powerful assembly of elated girls I tried to take the same route to the door.

That’s where I lost control of my direction. Girls in tight jeans and fuzzy boots pressed against me on all sides, screaming and stomping. I was helplessly caught in the flow. I was reminded of an online video of a cat thrown into a room of starving rats, where its white fur quickly turned red as it was eaten alive. I clung to a handrail outside the gym with river of girls pouring down the stairs around me, while girls holding greek-letter signs gathered in groups on the ground spread before me like a frothing ocean.

The most striking sensation from within the mob was its smell. “Lavender” and “apricot-blossom,” soaps, hairspray, perfume, fabric softener, deoderant and every kind of lotion scent wafted across my body. In my old beanie, stubbly face and tattered thrift-store clothing I suddenly felt dirty and overgrown. I wished I’d shaved. I wished I’d combed my hair and not worn a hat. I felt like Sasquatch. Terrified, I wondered, when was the last time I showered? I brought my elbows to my sides and pressed my arms and notepad like a cloak over my chest.

It was the most awesome and terrifying experience of my life.

November 10, 2005

Here’s a thought…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 1:09 pm
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I want to email a sociology professor and reccomend a study investigating why over half of all blonde professors at CU are in the School of Journalism. It seems like all J-school women have some variation of (this is a very unscientific term) sorority-girl personalities.

Also, I’d like to investigate why the J-school is 80% white girls, and why the vast majority of those girls either have Gucci purses or want to have them in a university where anything from sweats to potato sacks is perfectly socially acceptable.

I mean that jokingly, but on a more serious level, one assumes that the reason why news anchors tend to be relatively attractive women is that they’re the ones the networks think viewers will be drawn to. (Of the top ten TV news personalities in 2002 according to Lycos, 5 are blonde women, 2 are brunettes, the remaining are wrinkly or overweight men, for whom I guess looks aren’t as important.) But the J-school doesn’t hire people or accept students based on style or looks, so somehow these people are self-selecting at a very early stage. It’s like this: if you’re smart hot and blonde, you want to go into journalism. If you’re smart and ugly, you want to go in to philosophy or political science.

The first words my JOUR 2011 professor said to our class during the Spring 2005 semester:

“Hi everyone, I’m Dr. Lynn Clark. I’m 40. I know I don’t look 40, but I’m 40.”

If you need an idea of the type of look and personality I’m talking about, think of Katie Couric, Paula Zahn, Diane Sawyer, or Laurie Dhue. Actually, think of any female Network anchor.

February 9, 2005

Ward Churchill

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 11:18 am
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After Ward Churchill has had an opportunity to publicly defend himself (Last night in the Glenn Miller Ballroom, to 1,800 people and over thirty television cameras), I am feeling better about everything that has happened here recently. Churchill’s support has rapidly grown over the past few days, and now encompasses the majority of students at CU Boulder, many of those being students who initially opposed him. Almost all of the faculty support Ward Churchill’s freedom of speech, though they are more careful than the students are to state that they don’t agree with what he said. Hopefully, with more honest press in the future, the general public will begin to see things more rationally as well.

I think it’s interesting to analyze which crisees in boulder become national spectacles and which don’t, and try to find out why such things work the way they do. To all of you who don’t live in Boulder, you may be surprised to know about an event at CU that occured earlier this school year, that didn’t get as much attention as the Ward Churchill controversy. In the middle of the fall semseter, an economics professor, who is a Viet Nam veteran, got into an argument with a student who identified as a pacifist. He asked her if he believed that all violence was wrong, and she said yes. He then took out a pocketknife and held it a foot from her neck, asking, “what if I do this, then? Now do you want to use violence, to defend yourself? Do you still think all violence is wrong?” Witnesses report that the professor spoke with a loud, uncontrolled voice and that the student was legitimately terrified.

That event didn’t erupt into the same kind of scandal that Ward Churchill faced. Local papers reported it, but it didn’t escape the sphere of Boulder news. Apparently, a phrase in a political essay can be considered more dangerous than pulling a knife on a student. The professor was not fired (and I’m not saying he should have been), and though he was formally rebuked by the university’s regents, he didn’t face any penalty for his actions. The liberal student at the center of the event said she understood the professor’s passion and didn’t want him fired. There were no Campus Republicans calling for “responsibility and accountablility,” and the news gave it little attention.

About a year ago now, from another auditorium on campus, guest speaker Anne Coulter told students “My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building,” and, “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.” She was paid $20,000 by the students of CU to preach a message just as inflammitory as the one that Ward Churchill made. She was paid $20,000 for a single night of making such comments, whereas Ward Churchill teaches every day, doesn’t include inflammatory language in his everyday lessons, and he makes less than five times as much in a year.

Sometime over the summer, CU’s President, Elizabith Hoffman, told the media that the derogatory remarks made by the CU Football team toward its female kicker were excusable. She agued that the word “cunt” can be considered “a term of endearment.” The coach of the team adamnantly defended his players, accused rapists, because the woman they allegedly raped was “an awful kicker.” Gary Barnett wasn’t fired (though many called for it), and the Campus Republicans had no problems with the fact that his salary and benefits add up to over one million a year, which is over ten times what Ward Churchill gets.

I think these ironies reflect the political climate of the media, the ignorance of general public, and the conservatism the state of Colorado. First, we know that statements that contradict with our president’s opinion on 9/11 are anathema, that free speech is considered by many to have qualifications, and disharmonious rhetoric will be used for character assasination of dissidents. We know that the regents at CU Boulder are conservative, that the state polititians in Colorado are conservative as well, and that they, as a group, will use any opportunity they can to paint CU Boulder as a hippie-ridden bastion of America-hating anarchy because they know that much of the legitimate logic and science conducted at CU Boulder (and most universities) produces evidence that goes against the conservative cause. We know that Ward Churchill is vehemently liberal, while the economics professor who held a knife to the students’ neck was not nearly so, and that the Campus Republicans are keen on sparking emotional, lets-throw-reason-out-the-window debates and ad-hominem arguments, as evidenced by their photographs of bloody fetuses, donkey pinata debacle, and upcoming “straight pride rally.” I don’t know if I need to say any more about it. You all draw your own conclusions.

October 14, 2003

Vulva

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 11:43 pm
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The focus of last Thursday’s sociology class was a video of several women lounging in a small room on pillows and couches, looking at, and taking pictures of, each others’ genitals. The video included close-up shots of different vaginas and the group therapist, an older, curly-haired woman with large glasses, describing the organs and their constituent parts.
“Oh, this one is a renaissance vulva if I ever saw one. Look how the inner labia has those gorgeous flamboyant frills. It’s truly beautiful,” she would say, with the enthusiastic voices of the other younger women in concurrence in the background.
“This one – this is an art deco. Look how clean-cut and simple it is. Look at the pink color. Look at the well-defined shape of the clitoris. Incredible.”
When the video was finally over and the lights came on, the topic of conversation was which guys were the most flushed. Some were hunched over with legs crossed or their books placed conveniently in the upper part of their laps, but most were just red-faced and uncomfortable. “Oh, he’s not blushing at all,” one girl said, indicating toward me. Personally, I found the video enlightening. I had never known what a vagina actually looks like spread open like that. I guess they were, in a way, kind of cute.

After a few days of wild shapes vaguely resembling soggy flowers flashing through my head, I finally had a dream about one. It wasn’t a full-blown sex dream with the sudden need for a change of clothes and possibly new sheets, but it was nonetheless very charged. It involved a naked female figure lying on some hard surface in front of me, myself, one finger extended, trying to get the individual off, and some sort of sliding-glass door and blur of other irrelevant objects in the background. I’ve never had more than the slightest heterosexual inclinations my entire life, yet here I was doing my business not thinking that anything was unusual about the situation. I was simply trying to bring the lifeless body to orgasm by rubbing the tiny button above the hole with my index finger. Nothing weird about that. She was lying completely still; she only expressed a twinge of motion when she finally came. I woke up like I normally would after a sex dream that hadn’t come to completion; my alarm was going off so I got up and got dressed as usual. Nothing unusual went through my head. It had just been a sex dream like any other.

It wasn’t until I was walking to my sociology class this afternoon that it occurred to me that the body in my dream had been female. I was kind of shocked by the realization and I think I may have laughed out loud. I figured that during the dream I wasn’t doing anything to a person per se, rather, to a soulless body, but it was still female, which is entitled to at least a certain degree of contemplation. I vaguely remember during the dream the thought that this was a male individual in a female’s body, which would lessen to an extent the implications of the dream, but my mind probably just added that aspect later on. I would expect to have been taken aback by the female body, but during the dream I wasn’t. I’ve always been inspired by the suggestions that no one is one hundred percent heterosexual to think that maybe no one is one hundred percent homosexual either. It’s possible. Whatever the case, I know that I still like guys. I definitely still like guys.

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