Sunday, December 17, 2006

confessions of a dj

don't tell tom petty, but i like eddie vedder singing american girl much better; i am eddie's american girl, not tom's

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

From gay to GAY

How has a word rooted in happiness been transformed into classifying sexual orientation and found itself as a slang-termed insult?

When I added the bachelor of arts in creative writing curriculum with a minor/focus in journalism to my plan of study at the end of this summer I was so excited. I made the decision to put 79 credit hours focused on calculus, physics, and chemistry on hold. I took the plunge, changed my plan of work from a bachelor of science in chemistry to a bachelor of arts in chemistry and decided to do what really made me happy- write. For the first time in my college career (College becomes a career when you take more than four years to finish) I am not failing a course, I enjoy classes, I am upset if I miss class, I am not stressed or depressed, and most importantly I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

With the creative writing curriculum came a linguistics requirement, so I analyzed the grade distribution and picked ENG 327: Language and Gender; hoping that the sociology classes I had taken would come in handy. The class has been interesting. I've been able to learn about the differences in men and women's speech, which I hope will aid me in my future radio career. But now it's crunch time.

The semester is coming to a close, projects are due, finals are in less than two weeks, and term papers are causing anxious habits to surface in even the best of students. I am by far not one of the exemplary students- one of those over achievers, nope, not me. I am a procrastinator. I tell myself I work well under pressure and I actually do; it's one of those natural journalism traits. But now I need some help.

For my term paper I am examining the use of the word 'gay'. I will define that critical period in history when being gay went from a happy and excited state to a notion of one's sexuality. Was it the movie industry, novels, music, pop culture, or the complex construction of society that initiated such a drastic change in the context of the traditional adjective? Yet, most importantly, I want to know, or attempt to know, why people feel the need to use the phrase 'that's so gay'. Is it done unconsciously? Does it offend homosexuals? Do homosexuals use the phrase? What repercussions will society bear after decades of using the phrase?

Behind any project there is an underlying inspiration and in this case I am brought back to the crucial developmental years of adolescence.

I can remember it so clearly. It was the summer before my freshman year in high school, two weeks before school started to be exact. We were standing in the breeze way, waiting for our parents to pick us up from our first day of band camp [insert band nerd jokes here]. I was the fat girl out of my group of girlfriends; the dorky, socially sheltered, flat-chested, yet-to-be-kissed girl that could play French Horn pretty damn well. Being in band was one of the areas of my life in which I could excel and still feel comfortable. It was where I made some of my closest friends. We stood there, the three of us, chatting about all of the rules and disciplinary actions which we had been introduced to earlier that day.

" I can't believe we have to do ten push-ups when we mess up," Becca said. She was the fully developed, peppy, smart-mouthed, rebel, trumpet player.

"Yeah, I know. I can barely do three push-ups," Emily said. Emily was the daughter of well known doctor, slightly plump, quiet, smart but still cool, clarinet player.

"I suck at push-ups," I remarked, glad to know I wasn't the only wuss.

"Having to do push-ups when we mess up is so gay," Becca said, rolling her eyes and shaking her head.

I was confused. Gay? I thought gay was when a guy liked a guy, or when a girl liked a girl- like Ellen Degeneres.

"What do you mean 'gay'," I asked.

"You know, gay- like stupid or dumb," Becca replied with a tone in her voice that made me feel another level of nerd for not knowing what gay meant.

"Oh yeah, of course," I said.

It was from here on out that when anything got on my nerves, was not easily understood, or lacked a readily available insult it became 'gay'. I became conscious of my use of the phrase when I came to college. Taken out of my Southern small town comfort zone and placed in a melting pot of cultures and sexualities I realized that I might be offending someone.

This language and gender class has given me the chance to find out the details behind the word gay. There is a lot of work to be done, and I am working with a short deadline. I want my paper to reflect a wide array of ideas, so I am asking for your help and input. Take a minute to reflect on what I have written, process g + a + y, and tell me the origins of your vocabulary.

Please contact me via

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The best of '06 coming soon

You won't see my writing posted on Pitchfork. You can't read my take on the latest releases in the pages of Paste magazine. My words aren't scattered about the Triangle on a weekly basis in the Independent. Yet, here you can get it all. So after talking with a friend about a 'Best Song of 2006' list they were composing for a popular music website, which I personally view as a pompous-over-written and often skewed view on music, I've decided to embrace the soul of independent music and give everyone my Best of '06.

Before the year is over I will deliver to you the cream of the crop from the Triangle music scene. I've been thinking about this for a while and feel that as a DJ at WKNC and a budding writer I owe it to WKNC listeners, local musicians and myself to stand and deliver. It has been a packed full year of CD releases, live shows, and on-air interviews. The talent and musicianship found in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area is top notch and will make the decisions almost painstaking. The list should be posted sometime between Christmas and New Years- after all there are still plenty of shows to be seen before we ring in 2007. As of now there will be five categories:

  • Best Live Performance
  • Best Album Released in '06
  • Best EP Released in '06
  • Best Song
  • Best Interview of '06

Stay tuned.....

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Worth a Listen

The works of these artists have hit home and earned the 'Worth a Listen' spot on the memoirs. The music I enjoy and listen to is not limited to what only appears under this heading, but artists who find themselves here have done something right. Their music is worth writing about, and worth a listen.

Artist: Rocky Votolato

Album: Makers
Suggested Tracks: Uppers Aren’t Necessary, White Daisy Passing

Twenty-eight year old, family man from Seattle, Rocky Votolato, has written a full length album stripped of fancy instrumental layering. Twelve tracks of emotional lyrics and country-folk-inspired guitar tabs will calm the savage beast and give the depressed a glimmer of hope. Mellow and sometimes melancholic tunes will ease the endless days of winter gray skies.

Having been bashed for emo-ish lyrics that lack inspiration and depth, critics fail to see that simplicity is key. Taking a departure from the complex over-processed sound that is ever present in the 'indie' music scene these days, Votolato relies on a story-telling approach to composing songs. The placement of harmonica adds texture and an occasional electric guitar give such songs as "Where We Left Off" a much needed push. The lyrics could be dissected, analyzed, and hung up to dry, as some reviews have done, but taking them out of context deconstructs the artistic sequencing of the tracks. The songs are what they are.

What would be interesting is the addition of another sound- hammered dulcimer or viola perhaps.

Artist: Whistlestop
Album: Train-wreck demos
Suggested Tracks: The Money’s tight, The Well

Local independent
Raleigh artists Mike Roy, Joshua Snyder, and brilliant songwriter/guitarist Rob Watson have produced toe-tappin tunes rooted with a folksy blues sound. Inspiration for the lyrics come from Watson’s childhood spent with his grandmother- the warm summer nights where they would sit on the front porch of their farm house and she would play guitar to gospel songs. Adding in Mike Roy on alternating lead/accompany vocals and harmonica gives the group a well blended sound; honest, simple, organic music that’s good for the soul. Hopes are that the demo sheds light on their talent and provides opportunities for better recordings because the recordings are fairly raw.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

How is a college student supposed to get an internship these days?

My lack of money smacks me in the face again

Raleigh's daily metro- The News and Observer is hosting a career fair to help college students studying journalism find internships. They state that they know editors are crying out for talented journalists in all skill areas and that their goal is to do something and suffice this apparent need. They want to provide "students and young journalists a weekend opportunity where they can be exposed to these fields and get excited about career opportunities in a single visit." Well great for you, but when you charge a $30 registration fee you cater only to the students who have expendable funds. Becky Beach, organizer of the event, states that the fee is needed to cover the expense of renting the conference room and equipment from the hotel. For most, thirty dollars isn't a lot of money, but for some it can go a long way. Let me explain just what thirty dollars can cover.

Five amazing things Andrew Jackson and Alexander Hamilton can do:

1. Pay a portion of the bills. It's always nice to have electricity.
2. Buy groceries for a week, or two if you enjoy consecutive meals of meat-less spaghetti.
3. Fill up the gas tank and alot for a snack. Now this varies on the price of gasoline.
4. Purchase winter clothes, but only if your shopping destinations include the Bargain Box and Goodwill.

~and what some may consider more important over the above

5. A Friday and Saturday night filled with local music shows accompanied by a solid buzz.

What would you do with $30?

I'll figure it out when it comes my way, but until then I will be attending the NCSU career fair on Thursday from 3-5 where there will be free food and no registration fee.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Sitting sitting, waiting waiting, leting my minutes go down the drain.
All I want it is to interview Built to Spill
Is that too much to ask?

Sitting sitting, waiting-

Left a message and a voicemail...
Cross your fingers and hope to cry

Attempting to expand my interview portfolio

Listen while waiting, NPR style

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Purging my emotions instead of working on my English paper

I should be cramming to finish my paper which examines the dream as a literary device in Jane Eyre, but instead I am writing here about what has been making my brain itch. Money, and the lack there of. I am terrible with it. It seems to disappear and it's not like I've been drinking every night. When I do drink I never have a tab of more than fifteen dollars. I've been pretty damn responsible lately and I still cannot account for the absence of my cash flow. And when you have to worry about if the rent will be paid, if the power will stay on, the status of your credit, and praying that the insurance will not be revoked on your car-- school becomes another degree of stressful. Then comes decision making. Do I need to scale back my level of involvement with the radio station? WKNC is my therapy. It is what makes me happy. After finishing my shift, knowing that maybe just one of the songs I played for my listeners made their day, made them beat on the steering wheel of their car and scream at the top of their lungs, is one of the best feelings I have ever felt. It's better than anything you could feel from any drug. But because of money I have to contemplate whether I need to get a job (because my disbursement of financial aid is long gone) and give up my time with the station (yes, DJs do not get paid) or stick it out; hoping that a financial fairy will come my way. And I am not alone in this financial predicament.

Erskine Bowles, president of the University of North Carolina system, has issued a 6.5 percent increase on tuition for the next four years- supposedly also placing a cap on the increase, but we'll see how that pans out as the great old north state endures a painful devirginizing introduction to the lottery. President Bush is giving tax cuts to the rich. The rich who give their children a gas guzzling SUV that cost on an average twice the amount of my college career. After tax cuts come the cuts in grant money for college student and the coinciding increase in interest rates on student loans. College is costing more and more for the middle class than ever before. Salaries for entry level jobs are decreasing. The odds are not in my favor.

Now back to that wonderful English paper- "In a close reading, analysis, and interpretation of a passage from Jane Eyre, insight can be gained into Bronte's use of the dream as a literary device."