Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mismatching is the New Matching

-Anyi Howell

I don’t know what came first, mannequins mismatching, or people. I first noticed mismatching was in when I saw seven different girls hanging together at the train station wearing 30 different colors. The brightness just about burned my retinas. Since this observation, I’ve noticed that some stores encourage loud fashions. I see mannequins outside of stores in East Oakland wearing all kinds of colors. I don’t know if these dolls are leading or following the mismatching trend, but all the dressed up mannequins on International Blvd. look like some insane, tacky police lineup.

Back in the 90’s when I was young, mismatching was acceptable. The pro-black, Afrocentric culture drove the style in those days. Anything with red, black, green, and yellow or a Malcom X logo was a mandatory item for your closet. The popular clothing brand Cross Colours mismatched Afro-Jamaican themed clothes that were eye-catching in color and jaw-dropping in price. Cross Colours ruled the airways via movies like “New Jack City,” hip-hop music videos and Def Comedy Jam. The style was so in vogue I saw Jewish and Caucasian people wearing Cross Coulours and “X” hats and jackets. My mom wouldn’t allow me to get them, and by the time I got some Cross Colours and wore them outside, they were out of style and a female classmate scoffed me and my inability to coordinate. I played it safe since then, always matching so I never have to be embarrassed when talking to a girl again.

Back then, it was about cultural expression, today I don’t know what’s going on. Youngstas like to fashion themselves after “punk rockers” with a hip hop twist (Think “skinny jeans” and Air Jordans, or wallet chains, vans and gold chains). I think this is a reflection of kids trying to recapture the 80’s – but I was around in the 80’s, and I don’t remember seeing anything as wild as what I see today. Back in the 80’s fools wanted to look like Michael Jackson with their thriller leather suits.

While some people are throwing coordination caution into the wind, I am glad to say I’m still matching. Even when my colors are loud, people compliment my style when I match them. So no matter what the fashion trend is, I say matching will never go out of style.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Green Houses are the New College Dorms

- Lauren Silverman

Yesterday the New York Times featured a story on the “SEED House,” Oberlin College’s new sustainability house. In “sustainable” college houses, you are more likely to find people competing over who can take the shortest shower, not who can chug the most beer.

“Green living” isn’t only popular at hippie colleges such as Oberlin. At the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where I go to school, some dorms and many cooperatives are taking a shot at sustainable living. A few weeks ago, when I was hanging out at a friend’s cooperative, I was chided for leaving on the bathroom light. My friend yelled, “We’re in an energy saving competition with the other cooperatives!" Compared to college dormitories and apartments, cooperatives are in a prime position to save both energy and money.

When you live in a cooperative you buy everything in bulk, reducing the price, packaging waste, and gas-guzzling trips to the grocery store. Communal living and cooking also helps cut down on the carbon footprint. In addition to greening daily routines, by turning off heaters and unplugging appliances, kids in cooperatives are greening the common house party. Just last month, Ann Arbor’s Luther House featured a “Go Local” party, where all the beer was locally made and to get in the door you had to “Bring Your Own Cup” aka "B.Y.O.C". Not only was this demand good for the environment, but it was good for conversation too. My friend’s polka-dot mug and my gold chalice were excellent ice-breakers.

Sustainable houses and parties are a great start. I just hope the green trend grows beyond the walls to surrounding college campuses.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Disrespect is the New Chivalry

- Alana Germany

When I began work on my story, “Disrespect is the New Chivalry” the “new” approach to courtship was really starting to bother me. I would be walking down the street or through the BART train station and “Hey lil’ mama!"'s would come out of nowhere. One time, when I was walking home by myself, two young guys ended up walking a couple blocks behind me. The entire time they were behind me they shouted, “Yiiiiiiiiiiii Yiiiiiiiiiii,” trying to get my attention. Even though I knew “Yii” was signature slang in my hometown of Richmond, California, I’d never hear it used as a mating call. I mean, when did the standard “Excuse me Miss” become “Ay bay-bay” or “Hey, sexy,” and now “Yii”?

Writing this story inspired me to talk to my mother and a few other elders in my community. Hearing about how boys used to approach dating, I felt even more annoyed with my male peers. My mom told me stories about how her date would have to come inside the house and meet the entire family. When addressing the parents, it was all “yes ma’am, yes sir.” If the parents didn’t approve of the boy, my mom wouldn’t go out with him. It may still be like that in some towns, but that isn’t the case here in the Bay Area. Now anything goes.

Our generation needs to raise its standards. But that won’t happen unless we are taught to. I was taught to maintain high standards, but my mother is over 50 and she raised me based on the standards of her time. For the young mothers having babies at 15 and 16, this is their time. If this culture of disrespect is all they know, they won’t teach their children any different, and they cycle will continue. Writing this piece was my way of calling out for help, and trying to end the destructive pattern so many teens have become accustomed to.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Public is the New Private

-Lauren Silverman

What’s the new what? I say Public is the new Private. Let’s face it, conversations that used to be conducted through private e-mail exchanges are now posted for all to see on facebook walls. Clothing that used to simply imply “I’m better than you” now actually says “I’m better than you”.

It’s gotten out of hand. For my generation, sharing information is no big deal. I no longer hesitate when I type my phone number and detailed plans for the evening on social networking sites. In fact, sending information through private channels has become unheard of, even out of style. The last time I got a Facebook message, I expected it to be SUPER juicy, since only I would be able to access it. Facebook messages are like emails, whereas wall posts are visible on your public profile. I thought the message would at least include a social security number, or perhaps a dirty comment about a backstabbing friend. Instead, the message was just a simple “what’s up” – this secretive “hello” almost offended me. I mean, who sends a hello message and doesn’t make it public? With wallposts such as “I went to this show last night and got so drunk, and then I hooked up with some hot guy named Jake and we spent $14.00 at the hookah bar on Mission…” there is really no need to send private messages.

Young people aren’t only publicizing extremely personal information online, but they’re broadcasting messages through their apparel and accessories. When I walked into Target last week I noticed a wide variety of handbags, the majority of which had messages emblazoned on the front. While t-shirts that say “Angel” or “Devil” on them have been on the rise over the last few years, it’s only recently that purses and jewelry joined in on the public display trend. Bags that used to have pretty patterns and delicate embroidery are now printed with things like “I AM NOT PLASTIC,” and “MY BABY’S DADDY BOUGHT IT FOR ME”. Whether the messages are about saving the environment, or random, they are almost always unnecessary.

The word “subtlety” is being drowned out by lewd and loud comments. We now know each other’s innermost desires (to one day publish a novel that Oprah selects for her book club) and greatest fears (to live alone with a house full of cats at the age of 75), whether we want to or not. There’s no denying it, in today’s day in age, transparency is definitely trendy. But I’m still quietly debating (on youtube, myspace and blogspot) whether public is in fact better than private.

(Image from

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The “Freakin'” Dance is the New Lambada

-Anyi Howell

When I was in middle school it was freaking. Before that it was humping. It was always inappropriate. It was always a simulation of sex. It was never called the “Rape Dance,” that is until some kids were caught on tape doing the forbidden dance with some onlookers saying “Rape that ho”. Now “Freakin'” or Humpin'” is being misinterpreted as “Rape Dancing”. Changing the name of this dance style yet again won’t do anything to stop the dance itself from happening. It will only change young people’s attitudes and associations with the word rape, which is much more serious than two willing partners dry humping to the high hats and the bass of the beat.

On there are two videos that accurately portray what would be called a rape dance. The first is a young, sweaty Caucasian high school student walking up to people and grinding on them. The subjects, who are repulsed, push him off of them. This is a real rape dance because there is an unwanted advance. The other “Rape Dance” is a bunch of annoying geeks shouting in cheerleader fashion “Stop! Don’t touch me there! This is my private square! R-A-P-E! Get your hands away from me!”.

There was a Brazilian song and dance called the Lambada in the 80’s that was deemed scandalous because it was a dance where partners grind bellies together. Some men killed their wives in Brazil for doing the dance with other men. While no one is killing over young people freaking on the dance floor, the outrage is still there. But youngstas have always been dirty dancing. Bobby Brown got arrested in the 80’s for gyrating with women on stage. Elvis was censored on the Ed Sullivan show in the 60’s for gyrating his pelvis by himself; they refused to include any part of him below the waist in the frame. I have a solution for people worried that “humping” will lead to rape, just as the Lambada led to murder: start teaching the Waltz and the Polka in schools again, or maybe the “Barefootin'”.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Rick Ross is the new Notorious B.I.G.

-Brandon McFarland

I'm sure people have made this comparison before. If you're a rapper with an infatuation with good eats then you should be honored to be compared to the best Brooklyn rapper "Black and ugly as ever/ however..." Ross has the swagger, the skill and stamps of approval from the best rapper who needs to retire...again. Ross even borrows a couple of scenes from Biggie's "Warning" video. Two girls one fat guy on the phone.

Rick Ross Feat. Jay-Z - Maybach Music

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Bathroom is the New Office

-Anyi Howell

I’m not ashamed to admit it; I’ve held several conversations on the can that directly pertain to business. I’ve also looked over contracts and planned events, all while relieving myself. In the sitcom Seinfeld, when the character George read a book in the bathroom, it was “flagged” and people didn’t want to go near it. I wouldn’t give a crap (no pun intended) if someone read a book in the bathroom. I’m not saying that you should invite people into your bathroom/office, but I feel like business shouldn’t stop moving, just because your bowels are.

When you are away from home or the office, the best place to have some privacy is in the bathroom. As an entrepreneur, I have to be able to conduct business, even when I’m at my day job. IF I whip out my cell phone while working at the check out counter to close a deal, my supervisor says I’m neglecting my duties. On the other hand, if I excuse myself to the bathroom to return the call, I get the opportunity to close the deal without getting into trouble.

Using the bathroom for social and business matters is nothing new for me. This one time, when I worked at a hardware supply store, I took a little more than 15 minutes to use the restroom because I was text messaging someone. When I left the men's room, my manager asked why I had taken so long. I simply replied, “I was handling my business.” You see, what happens in the bathroom is supposed to stay in the bathroom, so I didn’t have to give a detailed explanation to my boss.

The key to using your bathroom as your second office is to not abuse its privacy and convenience. After all you don’t want to “flagged” as an employee, or at least not until you close that million-dollar-deal.

For more on workplace bathroom etiquette, you might want to check this out.

*Toilet desk image from (

Friday, May 2, 2008

Internships are the New Summer Jobs

-Lauren Silverman

Back in the day, when school ended for summer, it meant it was time to get a job. Maybe you’d work nights at an ice cream store, bag groceries at the local market, or watch over kids at day camp. Don’t get me wrong, I do have a few friends who are filling out applications for these more traditional summer jobs, but most of them are filling out applications for low-paying, high profile, summer internships. Today, high school and college students are willing to sacrifice the short-term benefits of having extra cash for the long-term benefits of a full resume.

When I began my summer internship search I thought it might be possible to secure an internship that paid, and was meaningful. On, an interactive website that helps match individuals with volunteer and job opportunities, you do have the option of specifying that you are searching for a paid internship. But let’s just say the results list is real short. Internships that pay are more difficult to find than a younger sibling at a raging Fourth of July fair. And even if you can get your hands on an internship that pays, like I did, a few calculations will show you that your stipend of $500 a month amounts to about $3.50 per hour. The last time my hourly wage was $3.50 an hour, it was the summer after 5th grade when I was a “mother’s helper”.

Yet I consider myself lucky. More and more of my friends are opting for 9-5 internships that don’t offer any reimbursements whatsoever. They’re doing this for two main reasons. First, they are genuinely concerned with working on a project they value. Second, teachers, employers, and parents are stressing the importance of gaining experience and bulking up resumes. As a result, internships have become the new summer jobs.