Thursday, January 18, 2007

TV Party Tonight

After a month long vacation in beautiful Orlando, Florida I have finally made my return to Brandeis University. Getting back into new classes feels great, and re submerging myself into productive life feels even better. The vast differences in my mentality and feelings between the time spent in Florida and time spent in Massachusetts, more specifically the space between feeling braindead and feeling viable, have gotten me thinking a lot about the benefits of education. Coincidentally, an assignment to read Francis Schrag's Back to Basics has shed some light upon these thoughts. Schrag believes there are three goals we as a society should have for our great-grandchildren.

From Schrag's Back to Basics
1. Our great-grandchildren should care about arguments and evidence bearing on any course of action or conclusion they are contemplating.
2. They should be disposed to continue their own learning.
3. To the extent possible, they should have developed the capacity to continue that learning.

I think it was my Junior year of high school that I told my parents that I don't care about learning. My father, though a stubborn man, could not empathize with this position at all, as knowledge and learning to him have been commonplace necessities throughout his life. This attitude of mine persisted through all 12 years of my public education, up until my first semester here at Brandeis. Upon beginning higher education I truly felt a shift in my personality, many of my views changed, many of my interests changed, and more than anything a desire to learn emerged. My family and close friends who had known me for years noticed, I noticed as well, but figured it was the result of finally growing up.

I now believe that this abrupt change is mainly due to the way I'm being educated. Schrag's belief is that the current educational system (Back to Basics was written in 1995) is not sufficiently nurturing the future existence of the three goals for our great grand-children. My time spent in public schools made me an apathetic person, made me someone who does not care about or value learning. I did well, obviously well enough to get into a respected university, however I can remember none of what I had "learned." I got the top score possibly on the AP Exam for the highest Calculus class available, and cannot remember a single fact, nor did I attach any emotion to the subject. High school was a game and most importantly a mission to get the right scores in order to attain a scholarship to the right university. Going by the standards of the three goals, I can say that I, along with all my teachers, failed high school.

Why has the US become apathetic? The finger should not be pointed towards the Internet, TV, drugs, etc. Instead let's remember the SAT was introduced in 1901. Since then the popularity of standardized tests has grown significantly. We now find even elementary education is geared at the passing of specific tests, and around the 8th grade the potential life-ruiner SAT, what could be better identified as Suffering Academic Trauma, is introduced. School is not fun, grades are given inaccurately, all knowledge is temporary, and certain children are left behind because of an inability to achieve a minimum number. The arbitrarily granted successes and failures of public education are breeding students who do not value expanding their minds. This is why people care so little about their own society, or care little to look past their already existing political views. Schrag explains that a student may learn the scientific method expertly, but as an adult will never appreciate what made it a valued part of the informational sphere. If we raise children who do not want to learn, they become drones in the democratic process. No one will be there to listen to the arguments of Presidential candidates, the one with the more aesthetically pleasing tie will win. An off-color liberal university saved me. Who is going to save you?

I realize this offers few answers. Schrag notes that there truly is no easy way to grade one's successes when put in the context of the three goals. However, one must bear these in mind throughout the schooling process and while observing one's own children's progress. Getting an A in a history class is an achievement, however it can only be considered a success if this gives the student insight into the workings of the world in his or her adulthood.

All in all, I'm off to dinner then to see Howard Zinn read segments of his new book. However, I'm ducking out early to catch the new episode of The Office. Ironic this may be, but I must know what happens to Dwight.

Much love

Monday, January 8, 2007

An Evening with Aaron Bloomfield...

Yesterday evening, I sat down (on the Internet) with Boston resident and all around great guy, Aaron Bloomfield. We discussed his many current projects, opinions on the scene, video games, and choice meals. Be sure to check out his blog and keep up with this guy because before you know it he will be on ESPN 2 playing poker. Enjoy.

Gil: What’s up Aaron? How is Boston doing right now?
Aaron: To tell you the truth I'm not really sure. It's been a few weeks since I've actually been in the city to hang out or do anything related to the core.

Gil: What's been keeping you in the 'burbs?
Aaron: The recent acquisition of a Nintendo Wii mostly. Plus some of my friends from high school are around for the first time in a while so I've been catching up with them and playing a lot of cards.

Gil: You're a well-liked man around the city, especially in the Hardcore scene. When did you first become involved in Hardcore?
Aaron: Damn, good question. I guess it depends on the definition of "involved." I didn't start going to shows until 6 years ago maybe? But i grew up in Southern California skating and listening to various punk bands when I was in middle school. I probably heard Black Flag for the first time when I was in 6th or 7th grade but it took me a little while to get into the more modern core.

Gil: Which would you say is more important: New kids getting in touch with old bands, or old kids staying interested in new bands?
Aaron: I'm sure people would disagree with me but I think it’s more important for kids to get down with newer bands. There should definitely be a balance, but the currents bands are what are here and now you know? How shitty would it be to go to a show and have a bunch of young dudes saying, "this band sounds like they want to be the Cro-Mags but can't pull it off," instead of having a good time and appreciating what's around now?
Gil: I definitely agree, my friend Sergio who is sitting next to me says "Oh yeah Aaron, straight on! Straight on!"

Gil: How did the nickname Apps originate?
Aaron: Apps started because of my voracious appetite. When I was working at B9, we used to go to this spot Red's. Dudes used to try to get me to eat the largest amount of food possible and I would, and then wash it down with a slice of chocolate thunder cake. Some notable meals are as follows:

The Ribs-This is a plate covered in a rack of ribs. Once you negotiate that layer there are thick helpings of mashed potatoes and corn beneath to do you in.

The Half Chicken/Half Ribs-Same as the first except you get half a rack and half of a chicken.

Chicken Parm lying on a bed of French fries-no explanation necessary. The ribs have also been had on a bed of fries.

I once ordered an omelet made with 6 eggs and filled with steak tips, cheese, and mushrooms.

Gil: You do The Business Journal Fanzine. Would you like to give the readers a little background on this?
Aaron: I don't even know what that is

Gil: Any future plans for The Biz Jurn?
Aaron: Like I said man, I've never even heard of it

Gil: You've also been playing in a new band called Frozen Wave. How is that going?
Aaron: We had one practice and recorded a song into a tape player. I'm pretty happy with it. I don't want it to be a full time job or anything. Our one song sounds like a Foo Fighters b-side which is cool. Hopefully we can get it going again in the upcoming months.

Gil: What is your involvement with the Bridge 9 Records Message Board?
Aaron: HAHA, well I'm more of a lurker now. I post every once in a while if I feel compelled to or especially interested in the topic at hand. What I like to do now is ban people or change their posts to make the board a funnier place to kill some time.

Gil: You have an especially keen relationship with Brandeis University, more so than most non-Deis Bostonites. Why would you say this is?
Aaron: Well, like 4 years ago there used to be this band in California called For The Crown. I met those dudes on a tour they did in SoCal and when Posi #s of ‘03 rolled around they were looking for a place to stay. So basically what ended up happening is these two guys Andrew and Donald came and brought their friend Sofy with them, and they all stayed at my house and we drove to PA together. Fast forward now like 2 years. Sofy goes to Brandeis and we start hanging out regularly. So that's pretty much how I have met everyone at Brandeis, except you. Also, I'm a Jew and we all know each other.

Gil: You and I both love the ladies, in fact, a conversation of ours prompted me to write an article about how to pick up women (entitled How to Pick up Women - coming soon). How would you describe the struggle in Boston?
Aaron: Haha, yeah. The obscure compliment actually isn't even my move. I have to give credit to my boys Justin Garcia and Kyle Knox, who will probably never see this interview, but they are the ones who came up with that (as far as I know) and also "So are we gonna hook up or am I just wasting my time?" As for me, what I like to do is wait until the summer when I am selling semi-offensive t shirts outside of Fenway Park and then make bird noises at girls way out of my league when they pass by. So yeah, I guess "struggle," is actually the perfect way to describe it.
Gil: Don't forget the struggle.
Aaron: Don't forget the streets bordering Fenway Park.

Gil: You're about to embark on the Semester of Gaming. Are you excited?
Aaron: Oh fuck, you have no idea. First of all, I have a Wii. I'm working on Zelda and I have some select Gamecube titles to fuck with also. Then there are the virtual console games, hopefully some old SNES RPGs. I also have a Nintendo DS on the way and Harvest Moon for it, which is my favorite game series ever. On top of this I am going to get a 4.0 GPA.
Gil: Sidenote: My friend John Park, who is sitting right next to me as well, is a big fan of Harvest Moon.
Gil: However, Sergio is not.
Aaron: Sergio wouldn't know a great game if it cast a level 60 spell on him.
Gil: We are all laughing. That's going in the interview.

Gil: As a fellow rookie blogger, what can you say about how has improved your life? I know blogging has brought mass joy and recognition to my life.
Aaron: Shit man, I like my blog a lot. I need to be better about updating it. I like writing about poker hands a lot. Hopefully when I start school again I will have some stories about how stupid everyone I go to school with is.

Gil: Well Aaron, that's all I've got for now. I'm looking forward to seeing you once again next week. Any final thoughts/shoutouts before we part?
Aaron: Shoutouts: Gily F. Baby, Link, The Blue Ocean Strategy, my puppy, Mental, and most importantly Sergio.
Gil: Hell yeah!

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

This Is For You Fest 2006 Day #3

The lateness of this post was slightly more than expected due to the quest for batteries for my digital camera, however the pictures are finally loaded and ready to be elaborated upon. It may be 2007, but I think I'm still capable of giving an accurate representation of Day #3 at Florida's best fest - This Is For You Fest.

We woke up tired from the previous night of partying. I was sad to leave the Chris Tharp HQ as it had been so good to me the previous days. We thanked Mrs. Tharp for letting us into her home and said our goodbyes to the faulty shower and nail impression that sits on his coffee table.

This is Kim Kuhn. She takes awesome photos and is always taking pictures of bands. A lot of people complain about the amount of time it takes for her to post pictures on the internet, I'm one of these people (however most of the time it is in jest). Check out her photos here. Oh, and Kim has a fancy fan as shown. How fancy is that?

Expired Youth played. These guys drove from Chicago just to play the fest and left right after. That's fucking dedication. Their singer wore an awesome Straight Ahead longsleeve, I was impressed. Definitely best shirt of the day, if not the fest (stiff competition from a Biohazard tour shirt). I picked up their 7" on Think Fast Records and it definitely does not dissapoint. Check these guys out and go see them as soon as you can because word on the streets is that they won't be around for much longer.

Here's Chris Tharp eating another PB+J. He won MVP of Day #3 not only because of how often he ate this sandwhich, but just overall by being one of my favorite kids, being the only guy in Daytona who likes clothes, loves Years From Now and Crime In Stereo, is my long lost brother, and is hilarious. Our boy Clay accidentally knocked over a YFN CD while attempting to say goodbye to people and Chris screamed at him "Go already! Just go! Leave!" It was spectacular.

Newest addition to the LIS Fanzine Crew

We concluded the day by going back to the Chinese buffet. It was even better the second time. This time we got one huge table.

Noteworthy bands

Expired Youth (Youth Crew from Chicago done extremely well)
Foundation (ATL mid-90s style Hardcore go buy the demo it rips)
Years From Now (It is no mystery that I love this band and that I love these guys. Go buy the full length CD out now and find out how much you've been missing.)
Make or Break (Orlando old school style HC)

Day #3 was really all about being tired and sore from the previous days, checking out new bands, going off for your friends' bands, and saying goodbye to the kids you had so much fun with. With those things considered, and despite Iron Age and Iron Boots cancelling, it was a success.

My pickups from the fest

Years From Now Daytona Seal Shirt
Cro-Mags Overpower Overcome Shirt
Expired Youth "Where We Stand" 7"
Better Than A Thousand "Self Worth" 7"
Years From Now "We're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat" CD
Foundation Demo
Shelter Demo
Permanent Teaser
Meantime Demo

Check in soon for an interview with Aaron Bloomfield.

While I typed this up I listened to Token Entry, Turning Point, and Straight Ahead. You should do that as well.