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Arts & Entertainment

HashItOut: Episode 2

Digital Managing Editor Eldrin Masangkay and Social Media Director Francesca Manto are back again to discuss 3 trending hashtags from this past week. This week we talk about #StephGonnaSteph, #BadInventions and #Being13 This is a great listen for NBA Warriors fans or for those who just want to remember their early teen years. Take a break from studying and enjoy.

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Throwback Thursday, Week 2: ‘Frats’ and ‘brats’

A student strongly disagrees with a Daily Bruin staff writer Donna Prokop's depiction of fraternity rush. (Daily Bruin archives)
A student strongly disagrees with a Daily Bruin staff writer Donna Prokop's depiction of fraternity rush. (Daily Bruin archives)

It should surprise absolutely no one that Greek life – especially discussions of its merits or lack thereof – has always been a lightning rod for student controversy.

Tuesday’s incident involving the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and Alpha Phi sorority should make that clear. But on this month 36 years ago, the Daily Bruin Viewpoint section, now known as Opinion, was inundated with a fistful of letters simply because a writer discussed her unpleasant run-in with fraternity rushers when her car broke down.

Staff writer Donna Prokop caught some flak for a column that was, admittedly, short on details and substance. Her only piece of evidence for fraternity misbehavior was being mistaken for a stripper; it was the peppering of insults toward the “stampeding hoard (sic)” of “low life” fraternity brothers that did her in.

Prokop was criticized for her gross over-generalization of fraternity life, but the responses, too, were lacking. Some were statements of #NotAllFraternities. “Many fraternity guys retain a strangely human capacity for warmth and kindness,” wrote biochemistry student Steven Merino. Others responded with a dose of casual sexism. Four fraternity brothers concluded their letter thusly: “We don’t really think it was the car that overheated.” Alpha Epsilon Pi member Steven Morris accused Prokop of stereotyping men and responded in kind, writing that if she were a man, “she might have had the intellectual ability and instinct that would have led her to check her radiator level every so often.”

This somewhat minor and quite trifling exchange between Bruins is a stark contrast to heavyweight criticisms of Greek life today. The critical discourse of fraternities and sororities has since shifted from elementary discussions about the artificiality of its members to serious analyses of how Greek life as an institution – not the individuals per se – perpetuates or sponsors sexist attitudes and practices de facto racial segregation.

Take, for example, The Atlantic’s lengthy investigation of how these once-scrappy brotherhoods and sisterhoods have become well-funded behemoths adept at avoiding legal culpability and intimately connected to the halls of American political power. In short, fraternities and sororities have ingrained themselves in American college life, and are more or less armed with the finances and the connections to stay this way.

Whether one wants to promote, reform or ban Greek life, the fact that these conversations – not whatever that was from 1979 – now consistently happen is a good thing.

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Arts & Entertainment

Hiatus Kaiyote brings its neo-soul to the El Rey Theatre

Vocalist Nai Palm of Hiatus Kaiyote playing the keyboard at the El Rey Theatre. (Julie Paik/Daily Bruin)
Vocalist Nai Palm of Hiatus Kaiyote playing the keyboard at the El Rey Theatre. (Julie Paik/Daily Bruin)

Neo-soul has returned with a futuristic twist and Hiatus Kaiyote is leading the movement.

Hiatus Kaiyote, a quartet from Melbourne, Australia, played two sold-out shows in Los Angeles this past weekend as part of its world tour for its new album, “Choose Your Weapon.” To make matters more exciting, the group chose the El Rey Theatre, a decently sized venue lined with red carpet – yes, even on the walls – and intricate glass chandeliers.

The act, well known for bringing back neo-soul from the late 1990s, includes vocalist and guitarist Nai Palm and band members Paul Bender, Simon Mavin and Perrin Moss.

It’s been two years since Hiatus Kaiyote released an album, and “Choose Your Weapon” has come as a gift to all of us. Its 2013 album, “Tawk Tomahawk,” is what caught my eye, but the new album seems to pave the way for a new style of funky rhythmic shifts with hints of punk rock instrumentals.

In the midst of a trendy crowd, all dressed in forms of vintage fringe and New Member jackets, Knxwledge opened up the show with hip-hop remixes of tracks by Kendrick Lamar and Dr. Dre. You heard that right. Knxwledge, the opener for this year’s Bruin Bash that wasn’t too well received, opened for Hiatus Kaiyote.

I laughed to myself at the coincidence and couldn’t help but roll my eyes in memory of how poorly the crowd received his opening act. This crowd seemed to agree as they responded with some side conversations and yawns. Queen Magic, another opener, took over to perform some of his songs that have been trending on Soundcloud. The crowd loved Queen Magic, especially when he brought out an interpretive dancer for his last song. It was unexpected and that’s exactly what the crowd needed.

After almost two hours of openers and a pair of numb feet, the crowd was greeted by Hiatus Kaiyote with “Choose Your Weapon,” enticing the crowd with the band’s idiosyncratic keyboard drift and gritty bass. The song, filled with diverse grooves and electronic additives, sounded like the beginning of a ’90s video game but to many it was a preview of the wild journey the night was about to become.

In between songs, Nai Palm explained that Japanese anime influenced many of her songs, especially “Laputa.” In this particular song, Hiatus Kaiyote demonstrated something nostalgic in that the band brought back the slow easy drifts, a technique the group based its last album off of. The swaying crowd basked in the purple stage lights. For those five minutes, the El Rey seemed to be at peace.

The quartet then switched up the mood with “Breathing Underwater,” a musical tribute to Stevie Wonder, allowing Palm to display her incredibly talented guitar solos. The band flipped the tempo playfully throughout the track, making it easy to spot the shoulder-dancers in the crowd who weren’t familiar with the song.

“Prince Minikid” and “Jekyll,” two songs that spotlight the Afro-beat ballads and intense funk vibes, were recent additions to the lineup. The new songs on this album definitely strayed away from classic neo-soul and distinguished themselves individually with a splash of funky, spooky, orchestral and rhythmic concord.

Hearing “Molasses,” one of the album’s most decorative songs, sent exhilarating chills down my back; it was almost terrifying to feel the bass vibrating in my bones accompanied by Palm’s silky voice. The crowd loved “Molasses” – we attempted to sing along, but quickly realized that we couldn’t keep up with Palm’s next-level voice.

For $40, Hiatus Kaiyote provided an A-plus night to old and new listeners not only with an excellent execution of their musical charisma but also with the group’s humility, as Palm was constantly thanking the crowd. My favorite song “Fingerprints” wasn’t performed, but I guess that’s just another excuse for me to catch them at Hiatus Kaiyote’s next American tour.

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Two social movements your high school history textbook probably missed

Think back to your high school history textbooks and try to recall how much space publishers allocated to various social justice movements. Columnist Aram Ghoogasian argued that textbooks’ underrepresentation of different communities’ histories generates the misunderstanding efforts like the recently passed College of Letters and Science’s diversity requirement aims to remediate. Here are two social movements you might have missed in primary textbook publishers’ effort to save space or erase alternative interpretations of history.

The American Indian Movement

Feb. 8, 1887 – Congress passed the Dawes Act, which allowed Native American tribal land to be federally divided and allocated to Native Americans.

  • Native Americans were incentivized with citizenship to live in the federally allocated zones, in isolation from their former tribes.
  • The goal of the act was to assimilate Native Americans into mainstream society to reduce conflicts that were ongoing until the early 1900s.
  • The act led to the dispossession of lands among many Native American tribes and was a direct attack on Native American culture until Franklin D. Roosevelt passed the Indian Reorganization Act in 1934, which outlawed allocation.

Nov. 9, 1969 – Richard Oakes along with a group of Indian supporters started a symbolic occupation of Alcatraz Island, which soon turned into a full-scale occupation that lasted 19 months.

• Though its exact history among indigenous people is unknown, Alcatraz Island is a part of multiple Native American groups’ pasts. After becoming a federal prison, it held many Native American prisoners.

• The occupation evolved into a movement to reclaim the deed to the island and establish an American Indian university. Though federal negotiators tried to offer much smaller concessions, the movement grew in strength and refused to accept anything less than their original requests.

• Though participants were eventually removed from the island by the Nixon administration, it is partially credited with shifting the tone of American policies that granted Native Americans more autonomy in their rights and access to land.

Aug. 11, 1978 – The American Indian Religious Freedom Act became a federal law which granted Native Americans access to sacred lands and objects.

• The law was intended to address the problems created by the government’s mass reallocations of Native Americans over two centuries. The division and redistribution of indigenous territory left tribes without access to many of the sacred lands core in their religious beliefs and shared culture.

• The legislation also protected the use and preservation of formerly illegal objects used in worship, such as animal bones and peyote.

• Symbolically, the law also acknowledged that the federal government had infringed upon Native Americans’ religious freedom through past policies and sought to remediate the injustice.

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Movement

June 23, 1952 – Dale Jennings, who was arrested in what is now MacArthur Park for lewd behavior and allegedly soliciting a police officer, went to trial.

  • Jennings was a founding member of the Mattachine Society, a Los Angeles gay activist group started in 1950 by gay men to advocate for their rights. The group publicized his case, drawing in volunteers and donations.
  • The society created a committee to bring attention to the issue of police entrapment. Members said police officers purposefully engaged suspected homosexuals in order to charge them with lewd behavior and believed the practice should be outlawed.
  • Jennings admitted to being homosexual, but pled not guilty to the charges. Most men entrapped by the police at the time pled guilty to avoid public scrutiny. The jury voted to acquit Jennings, finding evidence of police intimidation, harassment and entrapment.

Jan. 13, 1958 – The Supreme Court of the United States decided the first amendment applies to LGBT culture in ONE Inc. v. Olesen.

  • Los Angeles Postmaster Otto Olesen, the United States Post Office Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation objected to some of the content published in ONE: The Homosexual Magazine, including some pulp fiction and erotica, on the grounds that it was obscene, lascivious and filthy.
  • Eric Julber, a young attorney who had authored one of the magazine’s cover stories, filed an injunction against Olesen. Before the Supreme Court, the district and appeals courts rejected his suit, deciding that an injunction would imply homosexuals exist as a privileged class.
  • The Supreme Court reversed the lower courts’ decisions without hearing any oral argument. ONE Inc. wrote in its next issue that the decision affirmed that homosexual relationships and their descriptions were not obscene.

June 28, 1969 – After a police raid at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City, violent protests erupted in the streets and lasted for six days. This uprising has come to be known as the Stonewall Riots.

  • The riots came at a time when there were still strict laws against sodomy and homosexuality, which was considered a mental disorder.
  • LGBT individuals were some of the most marginalized, and had extremely low social prospects because of systematic discrimination.
  • It is one of the first important protests on behalf of equal rights for LGBT individuals, and was a catalyst for several pro-equality movements on behalf of these communities.

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Journalism, the Trading Card Game

Journalists trade stories rather than cards. (Creative Commons photo by Oliver Hallmann via Flickr)
Journalists trade stories rather than cards. (Creative Commons photo by Oliver Hallmann via Flickr)

As journalists, our trade is stories.

Listen in on a gathering of journalists out to dinner – or more likely out for drinks – and you’re likely to hear sophisticated talk about the advances in data journalism or high-minded conversation about ethical considerations of publication, wedged in between the gallows humor that describes the state of the industry, and how we’ll end up broke and on the streets with only our humanities degrees to keep us warm.

But stay long enough and you’ll get to the real meat.

Here’s an observation for you: In any discussion between journalists given enough time, you’ll start to hear other people’s stories exchanged like Pokémon cards on the third grade open market.

Do you have the one with the lady with quite obvious mental health issues who regularly barnstorms city council meetings? How about the one about the professor publicly ridiculed for his race at a professional event? The one about the recovering Catholic with an autistic son and a gay best friend?

We’re not doctors or lawyers and we don’t have the same sort of rules governing interactions with our sources. The relationship between a subject and a reporter is somewhat more tenuous under the Obama administration, and without thesame privileges. But in any case, how could we not gleefully blab? It’s only a natural qualification of our jobs.

I don’t know when I first realized the profession that I fully intend to pursue in post-collegiate life is inherently immoral.

It might have been when I first talked to a woman who opened up about discrimination she experienced throughout her career. I turned around and made it a lede.

Or it could have been when I had a conversation with a homeless guy from Alaska, snatched a few quotes from him and left him in line at the shelter.

Or maybe it was when I first read Janet Malcolm’s indispensable work on journalism ethics, “The Journalist and the Murderer.” In the first paragraph of the book, she lays it out quite bare and beautifully. “Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible,” she writes.

I was talking to a fellow young aspiring journalist a few weeks ago and asked her why she got into the profession. She answered that she “wanted to tell the stories of people who couldn’t do it themselves.”

It’s a sentiment I might have spouted off a few years ago if you asked me the same question, but I’ve discarded it for the incredibly patronizing reasoning. I believe I’ve come to terms with the fact that I love journalism for the baser reasons of my personality, along with my better angels.

The gossiper that digs up mud on celebrities on TMZ? There but for the grace of God (or Harvey Levin) go I.

The big ego who needs to know things before other people and make sure everyone else knows it. Well there’s a reason why Twitter is mainly popular with celebrities and journalists.

Even the quiet, but relentless ambition. Which I would contend makes me a hungry reporter, but others have chalked up as just being nosy.

The thing is I think I’ve done good work even with this realization, or maybe in small part because of it. I’ve looked into the tamping down of free speech on college campuses, the plight of street-food vendors on Los Angeles sidewalks and even the occasional missing tortoise.

So much for my short-lived efforts to steer clear of shameless self-promotion.

All this is not to say that journalism is a bad field and I hope no one thinks I’m discouraging anyone to get into it – far from it. Being all those things doesn’t preclude you from being honest, brave and, most importantly, compassionate. While the practice of journalism may sometimes be distasteful, its fruits can be quite nourishing.

We need the gossipers, the ambitious and the talented with enormous egos. These are the ones who write brilliantly about the state of healthcare in America using the example of the veteran who can’t get his medication, the ones who risk their lives trying to get the real story out from war zones and the ones who help lead the charge in taking down a corrupt team owner caught with his pants down.

I’m just letting you in on a secret: Journalism – even (or especially) if performed with good intentions – is still just journalism.

But all of this comes from one. So take that with a grain of salt, or better yet, a shot of whiskey.

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