Madison Dobrzenski

Madison is the Editor-in-Chief for the Niner Times. She is a junior double majoring in Communication and Spanish, with a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. Madison is from Fayetteville, North Carolina, so naturally she loves J. Cole and has seen his house more times than she can count. When she isn’t binge watching a TV show or writing for the Niner Times, she’s working at Mellow Mushroom, drinking iced coffee or attending a concert with her friends. For any inquiries, she can be reached at

CONCERT REVIEW: Twenty One Pilots: “We are Twenty One Pilots and so are you.”

The lights are still black–there’s a black curtain covering the stage. It’s been an hour since the opener performed. The audience is anxiously awaiting one of their favorite bands. Anytime something even slightly moves on the stage, the audience cheers. They’re waving lights that are the colors of the band’s last album, “Trench.”

The bass line for their song “Jumpsuit” starts and the audience screams.

The drummer, Josh Dun, walks around the stage with a stick of fire and a bandanna covering his face. The crowd is wild.

Photo by Pooja Pasupula

He puts the fire out; the stage is black again. Then there’s a car on fire in the background. Lead singer, Tyler Joseph, is playing the bass while Josh Dun is on the drums–they’re wearing their iconic masks and they’re on their own platforms that are rising. Confetti falls. The stage energy is unprecedented.

In almost every aspect, Twenty One Pilots’ stop in Charlotte on June 12, 2019, on the “Bandito” tour was a perfect show.  It was the best production I have ever seen. The show also had lots of audience interaction, which is oftentimes the best part of seeing your favorite artist live. Musically, the band delivered a phenomenal performance with an incredibly well planned set list. It had a perfect balance of energy, build up and a great variety of their discography.

Photo by Pooja Pasupula


In terms of production, you couldn’t have asked for anything more. In my experience, most concerts have a couple of cool effects for production value. Usually, there will be fire and a platform that rises or screens with cool effects; and maybe a stage in the middle of the floor where the band goes for part of the show. Sometimes it’s as simple as some costume changes. However, this show had a little bit of everything. The show started with fire and confetti, and somehow, it only went up from there. During their second song, Joseph fell backwards towards the car and ended up on the top level balcony of the arena. I can’t even count the number of costume changes there were. Throughout the whole show, their huge screens on the sides of the stage and one in the center showed the band with cool effects, clarity, and a close view that really made your view amazing no matter where you were in the arena. About halfway through the show, lights came down about 5 feet over the general admission’s heads, and Joseph walked across the lights while singing. He got to a second stage in the middle of the General Admission area, where he played five slow songs. What might have been the coolest part of the show was when the audience held a platform for Dun, his drum set and Joseph for them to perform while being held by the audience. Not only was this an impressive and unique form of crowd-surfing, but it added audience participation that is unparalleled. Ultimately, their production allowed them to move all over the large arena, be seen everywhere they were and make every audience member feel special by doing so–it really made the show more than a “concert”–it was an experience.

Audience Interaction

Their production allowing them to be all over the arena, combined with Joseph’s conversational nature of speaking to the audience, really made the show also have a heavy dose of audience interaction. Personally, I don’t like shows where I just feel like I stumbled into a band rehearsal–I want the artist to talk to me. Don’t get me wrong, some artists can’t find the balance and talk too much as a result–but that’s not what happened at this show. Before singing “Legend,” he informed the audience that the song is about his grandfather, sharing a piece of advice that he learned from his grandfather’s life–“it’s always worth it to fight to the bitter end.” Anytime that he was able, he would ask the audience to start songs by singing a certain part and even ask them to physically participate. He asked the audience to jump to the beat during multiple songs. He also asked them to get as low as they could and jump at the start of a song. He also talked to the audience about the show and the audience itself–saying things like “You look good. You smell good. We’re going to change that by the end of the show,” and “This is turning out to be one of my favorite shows of the whole tour–don’t mess it up.”

Joseph was definitely the lead singer and the voice of the duo, but that doesn’t mean Dun didn’t participate with the audience in his own way. Between songs, Dun threw about 4 drumsticks across the audience. And let’s not forget his playing while being held by the audience.

Audience interaction was spread very well throughout the show. Joseph talked about individual songs, about the audience and even told the audience to cheer for “his friend, Josh Dun,” multiple times. This audience interaction made the show interesting and was one of many ways the duo made the audience feel like they were experiencing something truly unique.


Musically, the duo is known for genre-bending. They made sure to live up to this by having a set list that really showcased their ability to cross genres and their ability to balance the energy throughout the show.

They played a good amount of their rap songs, rock songs, and slower piano-focused songs. They also placed all of the songs strategically in their set list so that the audience was never bored. Not to mention, they played for over two hours–which I’ve never seen before. The longest headliner set I have ever seen is an hour and 45 minutes.

The pace and length of the show is not the only aspect of the music that made the show as great it was–it was also the music itself. Joseph’s voice was always on key, inviting and the volume was just right–the instruments were never overpowering the vocals, which can happen easily at concerts.

Not only was Joseph’s singing and rapping engaging and a clear display of talent; Dun’s drumming was incredible. He had several drum solos that really showcased his talent and throughout the show, which gave the audience a great beat to dance to–and trust me, they danced. They danced a lot.

Twenty One Pilots is a very prevalent band right now. They’re known for specific costumes, genre-bending, production-heavy shows, and a dedicated fan base. This performance really showed why their fan base is so dedicated and has been for nearly ten years. Their fans were singing along to every word, dancing to every beat and holding onto every word of advice of humor that Joseph spoke. This band means a lot to them and judging by their performance, their fans mean a lot to them. They truly gave their fans an unforgettable experience–an experience that made them feel like they belonged–Joseph’s last words in the show were “We are Twenty One Pilots, and so are you. Thank you.”

I think I am speaking for all of the fans from that show when I say–no, Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun–thank you. 

(Living Guide) Eco-friendly homes

Are you looking for ways to be kinder to the planet with just small choices each day? Do you find yourself throwing things away then thinking maybe you could have reused them? Do you think you could be all around more eco-friendly in your living area? Here are a few simple choices you can make in order to be kinder to the environment in your living space.

  1. Use a reusable water bottle.
    This small thing makes a huge difference in the environment. Even if you can’t afford an expensive reusable water bottle, reusing a cheap plastic water bottle is one of the best things you can do for the planet. Make sure you remember to take it with you everywhere so you’re not forced to buy a one use water bottle somewhere!
  2. Use reusable grocery bags.
    Yes, these cost money, but you can also use tote bags you already have as well as buying the cheapest ones at the store, which are sometimes only 75 cents or so. Make sure you remember to bring them when you go grocery shopping or else it’s just a waste!
  3. Stop using paper towels.
    I know this one is a little strange, but ultimately, some households go through paper towels way too fast. One way to limit your paper and plastic usage is to just not buy paper towels; this forces you to use rags and towels and then wash them, which is better for the environment.
  4. Reuse absolutely anything you can.
    This one sounds obvious, but it’s not. The best thing we can do for the environment is reuse things that are normally only used once. You can use a pasta jar as a change jar or to hold good memories from the year — or even decorate it and make it a sugar jar! I have a large container of Old Fashioned Oats at my apartment right now and I am just thinking of different things I can clean the container out and use it for. Before throwing things away or recycling them, just think: is there anything I could use this for?
  5. Recycle. And do it the RIGHT way.
    I am sure you all have heard to reduce, reuse and recycle. Well, I hope you took it to heart. The only thing I don’t know if everyone knows is that it is also bad to recycle the wrong things or to recycle the wrong way. Before putting things in the recycling bin, be sure you are breaking them down, rinsing them out as needed, and make sure they have all the parts they need. For example, with recyclable water bottles, they used to not take the caps, but now they do. It’s important to make sure you are recycling the right things for your area and doing it the right way. As long as you do that, the earth will appreciate your kindness!

One person can’t save the planet all by themselves. However, if we all take the effort to make some of these small choices in our homes, we could have a huge impact on the planet. If you are interested in doing what you can for the earth, I hope you found these tips to be helpful and beneficial to you, and the environment!

(Living Guide) Living the plant-based life

I’m sure you’ve noticed the trending lifestyle changes amongst many people, especially many college students. I’m sure you’ve noticed the signs in the dining halls labeling things as “vegetarian” or “vegan.” I am certain you’ve either said “oh, I could never do that,” or “I wonder how people do that?” Well, if you are wondering the second question, I am here to help you potentially transition into a more plant-based diet with these helpful tips.

  1. Know why you’re doing it. Some people try to transition into a vegan or vegetarian diet just because it’s trendy, but that is not a good reason and will not help you enjoy the process. In order to transition into a plant-based diet you will enjoy, you need to understand your convictions and motivations behind doing it. For example, what made me want to transition into a vegetarian diet almost three years ago was doing research and finding out just how bad the meat industry is for the environment. I’ve always considered myself an environmentalist; I’ve always recycled, used reusable grocery bags and reused basically anything I am able to. I felt like a hypocrite if I continued to contribute to this industry that didn’t look out for the environment like I aimed to.
    That was my motivation; everyone has different ones. For some people, it’s the environment; for others, it’s the animal cruelty. If you are even remotely interested in a plant-based diet, do research and find out what would motivate you. Without your own convictions, it won’t be an enjoyable process. Find your convictions and motivations and then plan out your new lifestyle!
  2. Take your time. A lot of people who want to transition into a plant-based diet just think they have to go from an omnivore to a vegan in the matter of a day. There’s this shame surrounded by just becoming vegetarian or pescatarian (a person who just eats fish) or only cutting out red meat. People think it’s all-or-nothing. This simply isn’t true. I began my journey by cutting out all meat except for fish. After a year, I cut out fish. Then after a year of being fully vegetarian, I cut out dairy and became vegan. This slow transition ensured that I could take my time learning what my body needed, figuring out what vegetarian and vegan foods I liked and allowed me to explore my options. Ultimately, your diet is your own lifestyle choice and you can choose any pace you think will be best for you.
  3. Snack a lot. In order to change your lifestyle this drastically, you’re going to have to change some of your habits. One habit you should pick up is snacking a lot. While you are definitely able to get enough protein and iron with a plant-based diet, you have to go out of your way to think about it. Your main courses in meals don’t have as much protein or iron, so you should get your protein and iron in little things throughout the day. Snack on nuts, peanut butter crackers and fruit to ensure you’re getting all of your daily nutrients.
  4. Be open to trying new things. When you cut meat out of your diet in any way, it takes a bit of effort to do so. You have to think of new main courses for meals, find new restaurants, and of course, answer the age old question, “Where am I going to get my protein and iron?” You can’t possibly expect to transition into a plant-based diet without trying some new things. You might need to try different foods to be sure you’re getting your protein; you might need to try new restaurants because your old favorites don’t have as many options as you’d like. Either way, this isn’t a bad thing, but it does mean you need to be open to trying as many new things as possible.

If you’re considering cutting down your meat intake in any way, I hope you listen to these tips and they are beneficial to you on your plant-based journey.

Thank you, Mayday Parade

Mayday Parade held a concert on Nov. 15 at The Fillmore Charlotte. Mayday Parade is a band that began in Tallahassee, Florida in 2005, following the merger of two bands, Kid Named Chicago and Defining Moment. The band is known for their emo-rock sound and for writing songs about love, loss and heartbreak. Personally, I learned about them in middle school when I was at my all-time emo-est. At that time, I was incredibly thankful to have a band to relate to at such a personal level. At the concert for their latest album, “Sunnyland,” all I witnessed were grateful fans having a good time with a band they clearly hold close to their hearts. Between sets, I interviewed multiple fans to get a feel for what Mayday Parade means to their fans and their experiences with love.

I asked Traci Hayes what Mayday Parade means to her and her experiences with heartbreak and love, to which she answered, “They just know my soul.” I can certainly relate to this; many of their songs are about loss and give you lyrics to explain the emotions you can’t explain. For example, in one of their most popular songs “Miserable at Best,” the second verse says, “Everything I would give, is everything you couldn’t take, cause nothing feels like home, you’re a thousand miles away.” These lyrics are insanely relatable for someone going through a rough time with someone they love. These lyrics explain what it’s like when the person you love is simply not someone you’re meant to be with, for whatever reason, yet you love them all the same. These emotions are not simple; they’re very complex. Love is not always full of emotions we are easily able to communicate with words, but Mayday Parade’s lyrics explain these emotions beautifully.

I asked Kevin Camacha what Mayday Parade means to him, to which he said, “They remind me that it’s all temporary.” This is another thing I can understand. Mayday Parade’s lyrics are not only relatable but by being relatable, they provide the listener with a sense of hope. This band has been through what you’re going through, and they are still here to tell the story — so it’s all temporary, and it’s going to be okay.

For some people, Mayday Parade not only explains their feelings in all their complexities but simply provides them with a sense of nostalgia few other bands can match. In their song “I’d Rather Make Mistakes Than Nothing At All,” the band seems to reflect on a relationship that’s gone wrong in the past. One of their lyrics says, “All these days have turned these months into a year, and I’ve been spending every second wishing I could disappear.” These lyrics seem to reflect. Reflection is a common theme in Mayday Parade lyrics, as seen in another song of theirs, “Call Me Hopeless But Not Romantic,” the song begins with the lyrics, “I can’t believe that so much time was spent on my own,” and continues to say “Is it just me or has the time we spent come undone? I know forever is not what you meant.” These lyrics are reflecting on a relationship in the past, which is something most people can relate to on some level. The lyrics combined with the tunes of these songs remind many people of their past-selves and past relationships like it does for the teacher, Grace Batten, who attended the “Sunnyland,” concert. “They take me back to days of no worries,” Batten stated. Jessica Brown, a teacher that attended the show with Batten, stated that it reminded her of when she was 16 and used to listen to their music with her friends while driving in their cars. This sense of nostalgia is unique because these people are still attending Mayday Parade’s show years later — while in their 20s — to feel that nostalgia I am referring to. They were comforted by Mayday Parade’s lyrics at one point, and now use their music to remember “days of no worries.” They do this so much so that they’ve stayed fans of Mayday Parade for 7+ years, and it brought them to the “Sunnyland” show in Charlotte that night.

“I would tell them thank you and that they don’t know how far their music reaches,” Camacha said when asked what he would tell the members of Mayday Parade. This answer was similar to anyone interviewed at this concert. When asked, everyone said in some form or another, that they would say “thank you” to the band that seemed to be everyone’s lifeline. It seemed that “thank you, Mayday Parade” were words that ring true for any Mayday fan. Whether they bring you an immense feeling of nostalgia that you need to get through the day to day, like they do for Batten and Brown, or whether they remind you of how temporary life’s troubles are, like they do for Camacha, they give you a reason to say “thank you.”

Despite the fact every fan listened to Mayday Parade for a different reason, they were all thankful. These fans listened to Mayday Parade for different reasons; they listened for different things. Some listened for hope, like Camacha, while some of them listened for relatability. Some of them have listened to every song Mayday Parade has released, while some only listened through to certain albums. Some attended this concert craving old songs, while some attended desperately wanting to hear the new ones. However, what all these fans had in common was their love for a band that brought them immense happiness through music. I think that’s something we all can agree that we need, so thank you, Mayday Parade.

Featured photo by Pooja Pasupula.

Concert preview: Mayday Parade

Mayday Parade
The Fillmore Charlotte
Friday, Nov. 16 at 8 p.m.
Doors open at 7 p.m.

Mayday Parade is an American pop-punk and pop-rock band that began in Tallahassee, Florida in 2005 following the merger of two local Tallahassee bands, Kid Named Chicago and Defining Moment. The band has made its name in heartbreak, with both upbeat and slow songs that touch on the saddest experiences life has to offer, such as death, love and loss.

Their debut EP “Tales Told by Dead Friends” was released in 2006 and sold over 50,000 copies. In July 2007, Mayday Parade released their debut album “A Lesson in Romantics” which features upbeat songs about romance and all the sadness it brings. Their second studio album “Anywhere but Here” was released in Oct. 2009 and their third album, which was self-titled, was released in Oct. 2011. Their fourth album, “Monsters in the Closet” was released in Oct. 2013, and their fifth album, “Black Lines” was released in Oct. 2015. Their most recent album, the one they’re currently touring for, is titled “Sunnyland” and, breaking their October album release streak, came out on July 15, 2018. Each album has a different sound, some heavier and some softer than others, but they all give vulnerable emotional complexity that has given Mayday Parade their fame. “Sunnyland” is a mix of heavy, upbeat and soft songs that all have different themes. According to the previous set lists for the “Sunnyland” tour, this tour will feature their hits from that album as well as the hits from previous albums, calling all Mayday Parade fans, new and old.

Photo by Pooja Pasupula

Vacant spending: why are we getting a hotel on our campus?

Recently it has been announced that UNC Charlotte is planning on constructing a hotel on campus. The hotel would be located at the J.W. Clay Boulevard stop on the Blue Line Extension light rail line, located at the intersection of North Tryon Street. According to The Charlotte Observer, the Charlotte city council approved rezoning the area and spending up to $8 million to subsidize part of the project, paid for by local tourism taxes. The rest of the funding for this $84 million project will be coming from the UNC Charlotte foundation, a nonprofit that “exists to support this great University.”

This isn’t a unique idea; many colleges have hotels and convention centers on their campuses. The Carolina Inn at UNC Chapel Hill and The StateView Hotel at NC State are two examples of North Carolina schools that have hotels on their campuses. There are many schools outside of North Carolina that fall into this category, many of which being Ivy Leagues.

So is this a good thing or a bad thing? Is this the UNCC Foundation “supporting this great University” and does it to the job well? I’ve heard mixed responses from students about the construction of a hotel on campus; however most of them have merely been confusion. Why are we getting a hotel and convention center on campus in the first place? The list of hotels within walking or shuttling distance of campus is countless and we are able to use the Student Union or SAC to hold conferences anyway. Most students that I’ve talked to about it just think the money being spent on this hotel could be used in other ways, such as parking, renovations of other buildings, programs to help improve pay for adjunct professors, more study abroad programs, and more scholarship programs. While some of these can’t be done through the Foundation, some of them can, such as programs and scholarships that they already help support, and I believe that is a better way to support our university at this point in time.

Another question that plagues my mind when it comes to this hotel is whether or not the revenue it will bring in is imperative to the betterment of our university. According to The Charlotte Business Journal, projections for the hotel in its seventh year of operation include “$13 million in room revenue, $5.5 million worth of food and beverage sales and a room-occupancy rate of 73.5%.” I’m no mathematics major, but that seems as if it will take a lot of years to build up its reputation and income, while the money being spent on the building could be used for different improvements now.

As I mentioned before, many other schools have hotels on their campuses. This isn’t too unique. However, most of these schools are all older and more established universities. We have catching up to do to these colleges, and I don’t believe building a hotel is the way we need to do it. In many ways, we are still making a name for ourselves as an institution. There are other improvements and developments to be made to further advance and establish our university like the aforementioned schools.

Not that a hotel could never be a good idea on our campus; I just don’t think now is the time. I think the students don’t care for the idea.

It is also important to make the distinction that, except for the $8 million coming from the Charlotte City Council, this hotel and convention center is being funded by a private foundation. For example, many students would prefer this money be spent on more and better parking. However, the UNC Charlotte Foundation does not play a role in parking and is not particularly controlled by University restrictions. This means that it’s up to the Foundation where their money is spent, a fact that I won’t dispute.

What I will dispute is whether or not this hotel is necessary or desirable to UNC Charlotte students. This kind of development is seen as a positive one, but it would be hard to argue how necessary it truly is. There are countless hotels around campus, we are able to hold conventions in the Student Union and if you asked all of UNC Charlotte’s students, I guarantee you that the majority either won’t give a damn about a hotel being built on campus or they would straight up not want it. A lot of them will probably agree with me when I say that the UNC Charlotte Foundation can support the University in so many other ways besides a hotel. I’m aware that they already do help with scholarships and programs, and those are appreciated, but those programs can grow and flourish instead of giving this money to a hotel.

Truly, I just don’t see the point in an $84 million project that no students asked for or truly needs. Maybe a hotel could be beneficial in the future, but as a new and growing University, I feel like there are many other ways the UNC Charlotte Foundation could support students. If you asked the students what they want and need, I doubt that a hotel is high on their priority list, so I don’t think it should be this much on the radar now.

Queen of Peace Comes to the Queen City

On Thursday, Oct. 6, the Spectrum Center became a center of spiritual and vulnerable experience. Billie Eilish and Florence and the Machine both brought such powerful and vulnerable energy to the stage that one couldn’t help but be enchanted. When I knew I was attending a Florence and the Machine concert, I knew I was going to have a unique experience, but I was not aware of how incredible that experience would be.

 Opening Act Billie Eilish. Photos by Pooja Pasupula.

Billie Eilish started the show with electrifying dancing and an all-encompassing stage presence. The 16-year-old singer sang her hits like “bellyache,” “my boy,” and her duet with Khalid, “lovely.” She also performed her “Hotline Bling” remix on a ukelele, which was my personal favorite song in her set. Before singing “idontwannabeyouanymore,” she asked, “Who here hates themselves?” People raised their hands, and she said, “This one’s for you.” Her music surely speaks to the insecure and depressed, just like some of Florence and the Machine’s music. Eilish was definitely an excellent choice for an opener for Florence and the Machine because her music isn’t so similar that it would feel like you’re hearing the same music for two straight hours, but it’s not so different that it isn’t a good match. Eilish really set the tone for the show with her dancing and her energy.

When Florence came to the stage, all hell broke loose. How could it not with a literal angel walking onto the stage? They began simply, with Florence Welch at the mic stand singing a hit off their newest album, “June.” Her voice was immaculate. They then performed a fan favorite from the “High As Hope” album, which was “Hunger.” With that song, Florence Welch set the tone for the rest of the show. The song is very vulnerable and open, and at the chorus of the song, so was Welch’s dancing. I didn’t expect the amount of dancing I saw at this concert. If a song could be twirled to, Welch twirled. If a song could make your hips move, her hips were moving. The amount of passion and power in her dancing was key in her performance.

After their third song in their set, which was “Between Two Lungs,” Welch took a minute to introduce the band, as most bands do. She then requested that everyone dance with her on the next song (that would be a theme). She was constantly requesting things and interacting with the audience.

On the next song, “Queen of Peace,” which is from their album “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful,” she danced so much that you couldn’t help but dance with her. The song has a royal sound to it and a good dancing beat that just makes you want to move — and move we did. She made all of the people in the front jump to the beat, and if you stopped, she insisted that you keep jumping. She was truly paying attention to her audience and interacting with them and their experience.

 Florence and the Machine. Photos by Pooja Pasupula.

After “Queen of Peace,” the band stopped playing and Welch began speaking about the next song and what it means to her. The next song was about her time growing up in South London and how difficult and unique her early teens and late 20s were. She reassured people in the audience within that age range that it will be okay. She also subtly discussed all that’s happening in the world politically and culturally. She never explicitly said that’s what she was referring to, but it was clear in her tone and her words. She explained that she was happy to be in a place full of love because lately, her heart “feels like it’s being squeezed every day.” She then led into words of hope, stating “but a revolution of consciousness begins with individuals! And hope is an action, so keep hoping and doing small things. You may not think the small things you do make a difference, but they do.” She was urging people to continue to hope and do the small things that make a difference. Then, she asked that everyone hold hands during the song “South London Forever,” which has a line about holding hands with someone that you just met and it not getting better than that. The song amplifies youth and freedom, and she really made us feel that in our souls.

Before their song “Patricia,” which is about Patti Smith, Welch explained that it’s about being a powerful woman and how Smith was her North Star in doing so. She also explained that there’s a bit in the middle of the song about toxic masculinity, and then stated, “but I feel like there’s very little toxic masculinity at a Florence and the Machine concert, I feel like if you’re here you support women, so thank you!”

Welch continued to make the concert more than just a concert, but an experience. During their hit “Dog Days Are Over,” at the bridge of the song, the band stopped and she said, “I’m going to ask you all to do something a little weird and vulnerable.” She requested that everyone in the venue put their phones down. She asked that everyone enforce the rule and if we saw anyone on their phone, to politely, “in the British way,” ask them to put it away. She then asked us to reach up. At the start of the bridge, where she says “run,” we were all supposed to jump. She said to let go of any stress or anything holding us back through our fingertips. She explained that this was a safe space and would stay in that venue, and you couldn’t help but trust her.

After that impactful performance, she asked us all to tell everyone next to us that we love them. She promised that we do.

There was not one song in their setlist that wasn’t full of passion and power. She sang more hits like “Ship to Wreck” and “Cosmic Love.” She danced powerfully through each and every one of them.

They finished their setlist (excluding the encore, of course) with her most rock ’n’ roll sounding songs: “Delilah” and “What Kind of Man.” During “Delilah,” Welch ran off the stage and into the General Admission area. She was there for about half of the song, and my only criticism with that is that we didn’t know where she was and the camera couldn’t see her during that time. She returned right before the start of “What Kind of Man.” During most of that song, she walked in front of the stage, holding hands with fans and singing to them.

She waved. The band bowed. They pretended that was the end.

The band came back for an encore and the audience screamed. She walked up to the mic stand and sang “Big God,” a powerful hit off the “High As Hope” album as confetti fell. Not for 10 seconds like confetti usually falls at concerts, but for two straight songs. For their two encore songs, it was raining orange sparkly confetti. Their second encore song was their biggest hit, “Shake it Out,” and she requested that we be her choir for that one. We definitely were. There wasn’t a single person there that wasn’t singing their hearts out.

Ultimately, Welch made the space safe, intimate and full of passion. The band played beautifully and the stage looked amazing, but her energy really drove the show. Her energy definitely drove the show in the right direction. Her balance between peace and passion throughout definitely earned her the title of “Queen of Peace” in my book.

Can’t see the signs

Recently an email was sent to residents of Moore Hall informing them of a policy that does not allow signs, flags or other decorations to be hung in dorm windows. The email quoted the Resident handbook’s “window policy,” stating: “Decorations, including but not limited to posters, flags, signs, writings, stickers, and banners, are not permitted on windows in residential rooms, residential hallways, or in residential lounges within University residence halls. NO items of any kind are to be hung or displayed on windows or from windows in these areas.” Students were required to take their flags/signs/decorations down that same day the email was sent by 11:59pm or they may have faced documentation.

This is a policy that many students were unaware of, myself included. While those of us that live on campus obviously signed the housing contract — so we agreed to follow this policy — I do find it to be problematic.

There is a different section of the Resident handbook that lists permitted decorations and it states that “no decoration may block the use of windows, doors or cause tripping hazards on the floors.” The primary use of a window is to be opened and closed to provide air flow and to look outside if a resident chooses. Obviously, the primary purpose of a window in a dorm is not to be seen into, so why does it matter if decorations are hung up in windows if the resident is still able to open or close it if necessary? If it does not block the use of the window, then it is solely because of the potential content that could be displayed in the windows, which in my opinion, is a violation of our First Amendment rights.

I live in an apartment-style dorm on campus; I pay for my college (which includes my dorm) out of pocket each month, like rent at an off campus apartment. I live on campus because of the convenience and because I enjoy living with my friends. I live on campus, which comes with a set of rules; I accept that. However, I do not think those rules should interfere with my ability to express myself. I don’t think those rules should have anything to do with the decorations in my room, unless it’s about what I use to hang them up which is for damage control purposes. I don’t think these rules should infringe on anyone’s right to expression unless it poses clear and present danger, which as far as I know, has not been an issue for any flags or signs sitting in windows. Not only has hanging things in windows not caused an uproar, but it’s typically been used as a form of entertainment. I remember walking to SoVi last semester and seeing people write messages with Post-it notes. They would say “hi” and “bring food.” These signs weren’t hurting anybody. These displays were humorous; these displays were done by Post-it notes, which weren’t going to leave any damage on glass, and certainly didn’t “block” the use of the windows.

I’ve also walked by dorms that have had Trump flags or Pride flags, both of which can stir up emotions in people on opposite ends of the political spectrum. I’ve seen posts on Only_49ers where people have complained about these flags or signs, but I’ve never seen fights start because of them. I’ve never seen them cause a clear and present danger.

In the Supreme Court Case Schenk v. United States, it was established that free speech can only be infringed upon when it presents clear and present danger. Unless there was some form of danger or chaos occurring that the residents have not been informed of, there is no present and clear danger that comes with hanging signs or flags in front of windows. There is no reason why this form of expression should be censored.

The same rule came about at Ohio State University in 2017 and students were displeased with the policy, claiming that it was a violation of their First Amendment rights. David Goldberger, a former constitutional law professor at OSU’s Moritz College of Law, stated: “A campus is supposed to be a place where all manner of viewpoints can be expressed. University students aren’t children.”

This is exactly right. We aren’t children. We are adults. We are adults with opinions and whose money is paying for the space we’re living in. If you live on campus, whether you’re making monthly payments like me or taking out loans and paying them back later, you’re paying to live on this campus. You’re paying for that window. We’re paying for that space, and if it’s not causing any sort of danger, then we should be able to use the space within those four walls as we so choose, so long as it does not present clear danger to someone else.

Photo courtesy of Katelynn Pennington

Celebrating, Not Capitalizing

Photo by Pooja Pasupula

In the early hours of June 28, 1969, New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar and dance club located in New York City. The Stonewall Inn was a space that accepted even the most marginalized members of the LGBTQ+ community, particularly trans and gender non-conforming people of color, a group that was and continues to be discriminated against and the least recognized within the queer community. During the raid, one woman in handcuffs, later recognized as Stormé DeLarverie, was hit over the head by an officer and pleaded to the crowd: “Why don’t you guys do something?” And do something, they did. The raiding of the police in what was a safe queer space turned into days of demonstrations and rebellions from bar patrons, later becoming the notorious “Stonewall Riots.” Bar patrons, predominantly people of color, fought back against the police for the mistreatment and targeting that they were fed up with. The uprising was a driving force for queer activism and organizations, including, but not limited to, the start of the Human Rights Campaign, the Gay Liberation Movement and the birth of Pride.

Before Stonewall, the protests and demonstrations of the gay rights movement were passive and unthreatening. The marches were done in silence and even had dress codes. Stonewall showed that passive acts weren’t going to cut it anymore. Pride needed to be more than a march with a dress code. It needed to speak for Stormé DeLarverie. It needed to do something.

The first Pride march took place on the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots to commemorate the uprising. Heavy with emotion and strife, the march was organized by many queer activists. Craig Rodwell, his partner Fred Sargeant, Ellen Brody and Linda Rhodes wrote a proposal for the march to be held in New York City, as well as an annual march to be held every last Saturday in June with “no dress or age regulations.” While the proposal was getting approved, bisexual activist Brenda Howard was doing the planning. Meeting in Rodwell’s apartment and bookstore, the details for the first NYC Pride Parade, then known as the Christopher Street Liberation Day March, were decided. Using the bookstore mailing list, they were easily able to get the word out. It was also Howard’s idea to turn the festivities into a week-long celebration, which is something many cities continue to do to this day. With the hard work and passion of this team, the first pride march was held on June 28, 1970, with no dress code or age regulations.

Clearly, Pride began as a passionate response to police brutality, discrimination and queerphobia. It began to commemorate the mistreatment of an incredibly marginalized group of people and to ensure that we would not forget how far the LGBTQ+ community has come and where it needs to go. Pride began to instill hope in queer people. It began to instill resilience. If you’ve ever attended a Pride parade, then you know how free and welcoming of an atmosphere it is. The first time I attended a Pride march, I was brought to tears by the amount of support, community and love there was in one location. We’ve come so far.

However, by coming so far and making so much progress, the Pride festival and march has developed into an extremely commercialized event. During June, you can walk into Target and purchase a rainbow tank top or a T-shirt that says “Love Wins.” If you attend the parade, you’ll see Food Lion, Wells Fargo, Bud Light and so many more companies selling shirts, passing out merchandise and wearing rainbow colors. This should be a good thing, right? This means that corporations are endorsing equality, right?Not necessarily. A lot of queer folks take issue with what Pride has become. They argue that corporations attending and endorsing Pride has made Pride too white, straight and commercialized. They argue that we’ve strayed too far from where we started. If I am going to be honest, I mostly agree with them.

Don’t get me wrong, I recognize the ways this is a sign of success for the LGBTQ+ community. The fact that corporations are able to confidently back the LGBTQ+ community without fear of backlash shows how far we’ve come since Stonewall.

In Charlotte, we have the largest Pride festival in North Carolina. However, Charlotte’s Pride parade is officially named the Bank of America Charlotte Pride Parade. Pride has gone from the “Liberation Day March,” to a name like the “Bank of America Charlotte Pride Parade.” What does this say about Pride? Is it really about instilling hope and resilience anymore?

Truly, that’s not all it’s about anymore and that’s not the problem. It’s okay that Pride has changed, because society has changed. People have changed. We have progressed since Stonewall. The parade is not only a sign of hope, but it shows how far we’ve come and that it’s a celebration of the community. It’s a celebration of what we have survived and how we have thrived. However, the celebration is now being used by corporations as a profiting tactic. Companies are attending Pride, putting out Pride ads and if you go into any store during Pride, you can most likely find rainbow flags. With Charlotte being a prominent banking city, this is especially true. I mean, hell, the Pride parade itself is named after Bank of America. Banks and big companies will attend Pride festivals across the country, which would be fine if they truly walked the walk.

I think it does say a lot about our growth as a society if corporations are able to attend Pride and be public about it. I think that in the abstract, it is a great thing. In fact, companies will sell Pride merchandise, rainbows and all, and donate it to queer charities. However, they will donate such a small fraction of the profit made from the merchandise that it’s a cheap excuse for support. For example, H&M donates 10 percent of its sales from its “Pride Out Loud” collection, while J. Crew donates 50 percent of the purchase price of its Pride shirts. Not only could H&M donate more to LGBTQ+ charities with how big they are, but H&M also has a manufacturing plant in China, a place known for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. How can a corporation claim to be supportive of the LGBTQ+ community and not be ethical in its production? They want money. That’s it. And that’s not what Pride is or should be about.

When the New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, they were not met with rainbows or 10% of a fight. They were not met with negotiation. They were met with rebellion. They were met with strength. They were met with Pride. Not Pride that is now reduced to a rainbow T-shirt that barely even benefits queer people, but Pride that makes people feel supported and recognized. The type of Pride that represents Stormé DeLarverie, Brenda Howard, and all the other activists that got us to where we are. The type of Pride that should be remembered, commemorated and celebrated, not capitalized on.

Photos by Pooja Pasupula.

Effective Discipline

A sentence I’ve said all my life that shocked my peers: I’ve never been spanked. When that came out of my mouth, people always said they were jealous of me. I always responded by saying that my mother didn’t need to spank me, and also she didn’t feel it would punish me as well as other means of punishment. Despite this, I do think spanking can be an effective form of punishment, if it’s not done in excess, and if it’s not your go-to.

An opinion my mother always held, and I agree with, is that it depends on the child. Different children need different forms of punishment. If you’ve ever heard of the “five love languages,” then you know people communicate emotions differently. The love languages include “words of affirmation,” “quality time,” “touch,” “gifts,” and “acts of service.” The idea behind this is that people give and receive love differently. I personally think other emotions can be treated the same way. Some people are more impacted by physical punishment than words, and others are more impacted by restrictions on what they are able to do. For example, when I was a kid, if I got in trouble, I got yelled at for a period of time and then sent to my room. I didn’t have a television in my room, so I had very little to do. I was left in my room to think about whatever I did. For me, that punishment was enough, because I was left with my own thoughts, which usually strayed to whatever my mother had said. However, this might not work for some children. Some children may need different punishment, and sometimes that may include physical. 

I don’t think there is anything ethically wrong with spanking a child every once in a while, as a form of negative reinforcement. It may be equally as effective as not spanking your child, and may yield positive results. For instance, a study done at Calvin College, surveying 2,600 people, said that students that were spanked as children perform better in school. This could be because spanking tends to instill fear of the parent performing the spanking, as well as respect. It is very difficult to spank your child, and only expect them to respect you; they’re going to fear you as well. If you’re okay with that, then I think it’s an acceptable form of punishment, as long as it’s not done in excess.

In 2014, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was controversially charged in severe abuse of his 4 year old after beating him with a switch. In my opinion, this is excess, and crosses the line from “a form of discipline,” to “beating.” I think spankings and beatings are different, and that’s because they are. The definition of a spanking, according to Merriam-Webster, is “the act of slapping, especially on the buttocks for children.” The definition of a beating is “an act of striking with repeated blows so as to cause injure or damage.” I’ve heard many people talk highly of beating their future kids, or of the beatings they received as children. Adrian Peterson defended his own act, saying “My kids will know, hey daddy has a biggie heart but don’t play no games when it comes to acting right.”

A quick spanking when a child says something bad, draws on the walls, or any other undesirable behavior is understandable. You don’t know the child’s personality yet, and it’s a quick, easy means of punishment. However, when that hitting goes beyond one or two strikes, it’s excessive. The child gets the point; there is no need to go overboard, especially when spanking has not been proven to be ANY more effective than other forms of punishment. The study at Calvin College is only an example of one study; there have been many more, although they haven’t found a lot of valid results one way or the other.

According to the American Psychological Association, corporal punishment typically makes kids more aggressive in the long term. In an interview done with children ages 3 to 7 from more than 100 families, children that were physically punished were more likely to turn to physical resolutions to problems with peers and siblings. Along with these cons to physical punishment, it instills fear. Some parents and pro-spanking people may see fear as respect, but you can have one without the other. The easiest way to have one without the other is by using forms of punishment other than spanking.

For a lot of people, they can’t fathom a form of punishment that isn’t spanking, because that is all they’ve known. However, there are many other ways to correct a child’s behavior, and those ways are just as valid and effective. Talk to your children like they’re people, explain why what they’re doing is wrong, and force them to think about it. You’re treating your child with respect, while still correcting the undesirable behavior. Spankings are an option, not the default.

Retroactive: The Pop Culture that Shaped Us

Photo courtesy of Nickelodeon.

Jeffrey Kopp (A&E Editor)

Movie: “Tarzan” (1999) – This is a film that hits me in the feels every single time that I watch it. The soundtrack by Phil Collins adds so much emotional depth to the movie; “Two Worlds” and “You’ll Be in My Heart” are the definite standouts. This is by far my favorite Disney movie of all time; just thinking about it makes me want to find my copy of the VHS tape and take a trip back to the jungle.

Song: “Hey Ya!” (2003) by OutKast– The lyric, “shake it like a Polaroid picture” has been repeating on a loop in my head since 2003. The catchy beat immediately transports me back to the simpler times of elementary school; the deeper meaning behind the song flew over my head as a child, but I’ve been able to appreciate it more as an adult. This is a song that has stood the test of time and is definitely one of my all time favorites.

TV Show: “SpongeBob SquarePants” (1999-Present) –  Every generation has something that culturally defines them. In the case of millennials, that is Nickelodeon’s most iconic cartoon. I have so many fond memories of watching “SpongeBob” with my parents and friends, laughing at the absurd scenarios and jokes that have evolved into memes in recent years. Without any doubt, “Pizza Delivery” and “Band Geeks” are two of the greatest episodes in television history.

“Breakaway” album cover courtesy of Walt Disney/RCA

Stephanie Trefzger (Assistant A&E Editor)

Movie: “Twister” (1996) – Granted, I only saw this movie once as a child, but it probably had the biggest impact on my life.  It scared the absolute hell out of me, and I had nightmares about tornadoes ripping through my house. In an attempt to assuage my fears, my mother encouraged me to learn more about tornadoes, and suddenly I was obsessed with weather.  Despite the science in the movie being outdated, Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton inspire a love and fascination for storm chasing in me to this day, and it has been my dream job for the better part of my life. If only my mother would let me.

Song: “Breakaway” (2004) by Kelly Clarkson – I love drama, and this song, as well as the album by the same name is full of it.  When I was in the car and I heard the opening notes, I would immediately stare out the window like Clarkson describes and acted like I was in a music video.  This album is also part of the reason I have trust issues; upon its release in 2004, it was the only Christmas gift I asked for from my parents. My dad, however, bought 2003’s “Thankful.”  While this is an excellent album, I felt disappointed and betrayed.

TV Show: “Shark Week” (1988-Present) – Ok, so this is more an annual event than an actual TV show, but I got super hyped for it every year (and still do).  Maybe it’s because I’m a Pisces, but I have always loved the ocean, and after my disillusionment with dolphins, I became enamored with sharks instead. Due to my obsessive nature, I learned and accumulated enough knowledge about them over the last few years that I am able to take the fun out of any shark movie fairly quickly.

Photo courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment.

Hunter Heilman (Editor-in-Chief)

Movie: “She’s the Man” (2006) – At the time, “She’s the Man” was basically the funniest film I had ever seen in my entire life. This 2006 teen adaption of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” was Amanda Bynes at her most charming, the 2000s at their most iconic, and teen comedies at their most genuine. Everything about this movie is peak nostalgia and perfect memories of a much simpler time.

Song: “The ABBA Generation” (1999) by A*Teens– There is no album I have listened to and loved more in my life than Swedish pop group the A*Teens’ 1999 debut album, The ABBA Generation. Comprised of nothing but ABBA covers, I was exposed to the magic of both teen pop and disco music all in one go. Personal favorites of the album are “Mamma Mia,” “Voulez Vous” and “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight),” the latter of which still remains my favorite music video of all time. I love this album so much I can get emotional over it.

TV Show: “What I Like About You” (2002-2006)– I had a bit of a thing for Amanda Bynes when I was younger, as I simply found her to be the funniest person working in media targeted to people my age. I didn’t discover “What I Like About You” until shortly after it was canceled in 2006, but like “She’s the Man,” it showcased Bynes’ talents as more than just a child star. The chemistry in the hilarious cast and absolute lunacy of much of the show’s plot only cemented it more as my favorite sitcom ever.

Photo courtesy of Disney.

Kathleen Cook (Sports Editor)

Movie: “The Lion King” (1994)– I loved the songs and the characters – Timon was my favorite. I’ve actually never watched the scene where the dad dies though.

Song: “Come in Eileen” (1982) by Dexys Midnight Runners– I thought it was actually “Come on Kathleen,” because my mom would always sing “Kathleen.” I was heartbroken when I first heard the song without my mom singing it and realized it was Eileen and not Kathleen.

TV Show: “Dragon Tales” (1999-2005)– I had the stuffed animals for all of the characters and had a dance routine I would do to their song.

Album art courtesy of Universal Records.

Alex Sands (News Editor)

Movie: “Beethoven” (1992)– I had three St. Bernards growing up and they all were as crazy as Beethoven in this film. They’re big slobbery messes with really big hearts and lots of love. The film is not only a nostalgic early 90s film, but it hits home.

Song: “Leave (Get Out)” (2004) by JoJo– I recently rediscovered this banger song. The only problem is the real version is not on Spotify. So whenever I want to listen to it in the car, I force myself to listen to D-Money’s remix. You may ask “Who is D-Money?” I don’t know, but he should stop rapping.

TV Show: “Lizzie McGuire” (2001-2004)– I would like to give a shout out to Bitmoji for fulfilling my childhood dream of having my own animated version of myself like Lizzie McGuire. I was a die-hard Hilary Duff fan when I was kiddo and watched the episodes over and over. To this day, I still ship her and Gordo.

Photo courtesy of Nickelodeon/Viacom.

Josh Worley (Video Editor)

Movie: “Gone With The Wind” (1940)– Growing up, I first remember watching this movie with my grandma. The movie takes place in a time period that I am most fond of from a historical perspective.

Song: “Africa” (1982) by Toto– Whoever says it’s not, can choke.

TV Show: “Hey Arnold!” (1996-2004)- The greatest cartoon to ever grace this universe. There were deep moments that, when you were a kid you didn’t really think about, but they hit home now.

Photo courtesy of Jive Records.

Hailey Turpin (Lifestyle Editor)

Movie: “Peter Pan” (1953)– I wanted to be apart of Peter’s Lost Boys and I would jump off the couch to try to fly like him. I couldn’t get enough of it.

Song: “Oh Aaron” (2001) and “Not Too Young, Not Too Old” (2001) by Aaron Carter– My sister and I religiously listened to Aaron Carter back in the 2000’s. I have no other words besides talented, brilliant, incredible, amazing, show stopping, spectacular, never the same, totally unique.

TV Show: “The Fairly Odd Parents” (2001-Present) and “My Life As A Teenage Robot” (2003-2009)– As an elementary school kid I was very particular about the shows I watched, and those two were the most interesting to me! The graphics and storylines were so good, and still are. I will always love Chip Skylark.

Photo courtesy of Cartoon Network.

Pooja Pasupula (Photo Editor)

Movie: “Toy Story” (1995)– While Toy Story is not my number one favorite Pixar movie, it’s the movie that always reminds me of my childhood and brings me the most nostalgia. This movie was always playing on every TV when I was a child and there are so many iconic characters and scenes encased in it. It made childhood seem like the best thing ever to be apart of. The whole series is centered around the inescapable circumstance of growing up, and being hit with that inevitability as a child was always hard for me. The whole series brings back memories of clinging to childhood and not wanting things to change.

Song: “… Baby One More Time” (1998) by Britney Spears– A timeless classic that never fails to make me smile or sing along. I was never exposed to music as a child and when my aunt found out she started to play Spears’ album around the tiny townhome she shared with my family. It’s the first song I have any memory of. At the age of four, I had no concept of what dancing was, so I would skip around our townhome to the beat of this song as my way to jam along to it. Hearing this song throws me back to that memory and the nostalgia of what the 90’s/early 2000’s era felt like.

TV Show: “Teen Titans” (2003-2006)– I’ve always been enamored with superheroes and watching this show as a child was what sparked my adoration for them. While Wonder Woman and Batman have been my core favorites for most of my life, the Teen Titans were my first love. I used to feel very vulnerable and helpless as a child, but watching teen superheroes kick ass gave me hope to one day be as strong and brave as they are. They were who I looked up to and idolized.

Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema/Warner Home Video.

Leysha Caraballo (Photo Editor)

Movie: “Elf” (2003)– Watching “Elf” every Christmas season with my family was one of my favorite traditions growing up. Will Ferrell is so over the top ridiculous, as usual, but in a heartwarming way in this movie.

Song: “Numb” (2003) by Linkin Park– Linkin Park’s “Numb” showed me that music didn’t have to fit the pop music mold. I may have been a bit melodramatic, but I connected to the sound and message of the music. They were my absolute favorite band throughout my adolescence.

TV Show: “That’s So Raven” (2003-2007)– This show never got old for me, to the point where I watched multiple all-day marathons. Raven had sass, attitude and confidence – all of my favorite things!

Photo courtesy of Nickelodeon/Viacom.

Mia Shelton (Opinion Editor)

Movie: Seventeen Again” (2000)– Not the one with Zac Efron, but the one with Tia and Tamera Mowry. I loved this movie because it was a unique and fun concept; grandparents using soap that their grandson accidently spilled his science experiment on that makes them seventeen again was fun to watch. I also love Tia and Tamera and seeing them on television and acting started my passion for acting. Also the grandfather is very cute when he turns seventeen.

Song: Circle of Life” (2004) by the Disney Channel Circle of Stars– I loved it because it had all of my favorite actors and actresses sing in the song like Raven Symone, Christy Carlson Romano, Hilary Duff, Tahj Mowrey and many more. Hearing their unique voices combined on one of Disney’s greatest song from its most notorious movie was very moving and fun to sing along to.

TV Show: Kenan and Kel” (1996-2000)– I loved this show, because they always made laugh. Kel’s obsession with orange soda and Kenan’s elaborate plans to make money made my stomach hurt from laughing.

Photo courtesy of Reprise Records.

Emily Hickey (Managing Editor)

Movie: “The Wizard of Oz” (1939)– When I was four, I watched it every day for a year and insisted that my mom dress me up in my Dorothy dress and put my hair in the two braids. Every time I watch it now I am reminded of my childhood love for the movie and for the amazing soundtrack (that I still know by heart).

Song: “Landslide” (1975) by Fleetwood Mac– My aunt used to burn her favorite songs onto CD’s and give them to my mom, and as soon as my sisters and I listened to “Landslide,” it was immediately our favorite song and has been throughout our lives. When I was three, I put on a performance of the song in front of all of my extended family.

TV Show: “Ghost Whisperer” (2005-2010)– Starting in elementary school, every Friday my dad and I would watch the new episode aired at 8 p.m. Despite after a few years it scared me too much to continue watching it, it’s still my favorite because of the time spent with my dad.

Photo courtesy of Lucasfilm/20th Century Fox.

Daniel Head (Technical Director)

Movie: “Star Wars: A New Hope” (1977)– Duh! I watched this movie and fell in love with the “Star Wars” universe. I was obsessed with the idea of intergalactic travel and warfare, and loved the characters. Everything about the movie was great to me, and I’m still obsessed with “Star Wars.”

Song: “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” (2005) by Panic! At the Disco– I loved the sound song, and pretty much all of my friends did too. Just singing along with all my friends makes it memorable.

TV Show: “Stargate SG-1” (1997-2007)– I grew up with it and, again, I was obsessed with science fiction and the characters. I think that just the depth of the characters and the universe was enough to make me look forward to next week’s episode; to see some awesome new world, new alien race, or new piece of technology. A good plot was just the cherry on top for me back then.

Photo courtesy of Disney.

Angie Baquedano (Assistant Lifestyle Editor)

Movie: “Hercules” (1997)– I love Disney and I practically grew up on it, and when they introduced the movie they brought in my love for Greek mythology. The music was exceptional and I had the BIGGEST crush on Hercules (or should I say HUNK-ules).

Song: “Jailhouse Rock” (1957) by Elvis– I’ve had this really weird obsession with him since I was a kid. I can’t explain why or how this happened, but it did and I’m actually his wife, so…surprise.

TV Show: “Rocket Power,” (1999-2004) “Cat Dog” (1998-2005) and “Hey Arnold!” (1996-2004)– It might be impossible for me to choose just one for this. Apart from being a Disney kid, I was definitely a Nickelodeon child.

Album art courtesy of RCA Records/Columbia Records.

Madison Dobrzenski (Assistant Opinion Editor)

Movie: “The Ultimate Christmas Present” (2000)– I loved this movie so much as a kid, and to this day I can’t really explain why. I think it’s just because I also didn’t experience a lot of snow, so I empathized with them? I also loved anything Brenda Song was in when I was a kid, so that might have had something to do with it.

Song: “Girlfriend” (2007) by Avril Lavigne– I used to blare this song with my friends when I was in elementary school, despite being absolutely no one’s love interest, because we were like 12. I can still throw down to it to this day.

TV Show: “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” (2005-2008)– I loved this show for a lot of reasons. One, there was a smart character with the same name as me. Secondly, I always felt “different” because the show paints Zack out to be the cute and cool twin, but I had a crush on Cody.

Lana Del Rey: A Queen in the Queen City

“It’s a good time to be a woman in the music industry. Well, it’s getting better anyway.” Just two days after the Grammys, Grammy-nominated artist Lana Del Rey spoke these words at the Spectrum Center. On Jan. 30, the “Born to Die” singer transformed the Charlotte venue into her own beach, open highway and horse racetrack.

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely loved Lana Del Rey’s newest album, “Lust for Life.” There wasn’t a single song on that album that I didn’t play on repeat during the summer of 2017. However, if you somehow didn’t adore that album, there was no need to worry at her show, because it was the perfect blend of all of her albums. The setlist was essentially the hits from each of her five studio albums, and then some. The sultry singer performed all of her hits, including “Summertime Sadness,” “Born to Die,” “Off to the Races” and one of my personal favorites, “Ride.”

For each of her songs, she had two large screens that were in black and white, along with two dancers for most songs, and for a lot of the tracks, she did simple choreographed dances alongside her dancers. My favorite song from this concert is her second one on her setlist, which was “Pretty When You Cry,” because of how sensual the set and her dancing was. Right at the end of her first song, “13 Beaches,” Lana sat down with her dancers, and then laid down on the stage to perform “Pretty When You Cry,” which, despite being a song about crying, is a pretty sexy song as it is. Lana, throughout the whole song, remained on the floor of the stage, posing in different ways alongside her dancers, which went well with the sensual atmosphere of the song. She had one large screen in the middle of the stage, showing her on the floor, along with two screens on the sides of the stage. The screens showed her on the floor, and the crowd absolutely loved it. For that whole song, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.

Not only did she perform hits from each album, choreographed beautifully, but she performed older songs, such as “Serial Killer” which wasn’t released on a studio album, and one requested song. If you’ve been to a concert before, you know how artists will ask “what song should I do?” and then let the audience think they suggested a song, but really it’s one of a few songs they have prepared. It’s nice, but it’s clear that typically they will only perform it if they are prepared to. Lana didn’t exactly do this, in fact, she didn’t even ask the audience what song she should do. After performing “Ride,” the front row began to chant, without any prompting from the singer, “Heroin! Heroin! Heroin!” which is the name of one of her songs on “Lust for Life.” Upon hearing her fans chant her song, she walked around the stage with her hand on her hip, clearly contemplating whether or not to perform it. After thinking about it, she goes “that’s kind of a funny one to request, isn’t it?” and the crowd goes bananas. Despite thinking it’s a funny request, she begins to sing their song while squatting down and making direct eye contact with her fans. When getting to the chorus, she says “how does it go again?” and she let the crowd sing the chorus. Adorably, after the chorus she sings it again and laughs and goes, “I love that part!” Well yeah, Lana, I’d hope so, you wrote it.

This wasn’t the only way she made the arena show feel like an intimate affair. In the middle of her set, she went down to the front row and greeted as many people as she possibly could. She took pictures with them, talked to them, accepted gifts and notes, and even let them kiss her on the cheek. She did this for at least eight minutes. This may seem small to some people, but I’ve been to many concerts, and it’s rare that an artist does this in the middle of their show, let alone for that long during the setlist. After greeting people, she went back to the stage, holding many flowers and letters, and said “thank you for all the flowers and notes, I’m going to read them on my way to my next show.” She is an artist that I definitely believe when she says that.

By really performing a song her audience requested, acapella and in such an intimate manner, and by greeting her fans and taking the time to really talk with them, Lana Del Rey really made a simple concert into an experience, not only for those in the front row, but the whole arena. The only way that concert could have been better is if she was serenading me alone. Next time this queen comes back to the Queen City, I’ll be seeing her again, and I highly recommend that everyone else does too.

CMS’ Multicultural Debate

On Tuesday, January 23rd, I attended a Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board public hearing. They were discussing a revision to their multicultural clause, which describes different cultures and identities that are protected in the classroom. The revision would make the clause now include gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. Of the roughly 30 people that spoke at the public hearing about this policy change, the vast majority of people were outraged that this policy had the slightest potential of being approved. Whether they were pastors or parents, almost every single person that spoke against the revision did so because of their religious values that they believed would be imposed upon by the teachings the policy would enforce. The multicultural policy that was already in place included education excellence regardless of race, religion, and natural origin. Some people had a problem with gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation being compared to race, religion, or natural origin. The Rev. Flip Benham strongly disagreed with the revision, stating “You can’t make a moral wrong a civil right. Being black isn’t a sin. Being Chinese isn’t a sin. Homosexual sodomy is a sin.” The pastor also called out councilwoman Carol Sawyer for her sign at the women’s march and her activism, claiming that she is putting a political agenda in schools. The pastor got quite heated, and had to be taken out by security, as did a couple other citizens that were yelling during the hearing. The ironic thing about Rev. Flip Benham arguing that sexual orientation and gender identity shouldn’t be compared to race, religion, and natural origin, is that unlike the traits being proposed, religion is something you DO choose. Even if you were raised in a certain religion, someone made a conscious decision to participate in that religion at some point. The aspect of someone’s identity that really shouldn’t be compared, if any, is religion, however, it should still be protected, just like the other aspects of one’s identity. The people against the policy that were so heated that they had to be removed, or even the people with coherent and very thought out speeches, all were arguing essentially the same argument, and it’s pretty easy to logically argue against. The Rev. Flip Benham is just one example of the many pastors came to the podium quoting scripture, declaring the sinful nature of homosexuality and a “transgender lifestyle.” I totally understand if your religion is not okay with you being a member of the LGBTQ+ community, as a churchgoer of many years with a Catholic father and a Christian upbringing, I really do understand the inner conflict. However, no matter how much empathy I feel toward people who are just trying to do the right thing for their religion, I can’t understand, logically, how they can expect all of Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools to enforce their religion. Our country was founded on freedom of religion, and despite what people think, that means your religion will not be the same as everyone else’s. Another argument people brought up many times was that this would rob them of their chance to talk to their children about “sensitive moral questions.” Many parents were under the impression that their children would learn about gay sex, how to be transgender and things that would “confuse them.” I heard a parent say that students learn enough about human sexuality in health class. This policy doesn’t require teachings of “homosexual sodomy,” or anything of that nature. The fact people would confuse this policy with teachings of sodomy is ridiculous. Instead of thinking “this could confuse our children,” maybe they should say “oh, maybe if LGBTQ+ culture, history and information was taught like heterosexual culture, history and information, LGBTQ+ students would grow up to have lower rates of suicide, mental illness, and less issues accepting themselves. The policy is promising educational excellence regardless of race, color, religion, nationality, and now, thanks to the 7-2 vote for the revision, “gender identity/expression or sexual orientation.” That may be vague, and could possibly include teachings about the LGBTQ+ community, which would not be a bad thing, but that isn’t the debate that was being had at that public hearing, and people seemed to be blinded by their religion or anger to see that. They were too worried about other people’s values being taught. My friend Nikolai Mather, a UNC Charlotte student, invited me to the meeting. He came to the podium after many speakers against the policy change, trying to tell everyone the ultimate reason we were even having the discussion: “Let me remind all y’all why we’re here and why this proposal was recommended: to protect trans kids.” He went on to describe “threats, name calling and discrimination from peers and teachers on a daily basis,” that he received when he came out as a trans man. No one should have to go through that, despite what your values are. Nikolai made that point, and luckily, the policy committee saw it that way too. The most important thing this policy includes is protection for kids. It protects and encourages an education for students regardless of their identity and all that could encompass. It requires that teachers, peers and administration treat each student’s education equally and with respect. For people who were holding signs about loving their children and shouting about it so much, I can’t fathom how they would be against such a thing.

H&M: The Dumbest Monkeys in the Jungle


When I first saw the H&M ad of the black child in the “coolest monkey in the jungle” hoodie on twitter, my first thought was “how did no one catch this?” I wanted to have the opinion “I’d like to think this was a coincidence.” I thought “I have no way of knowing whether or not this was intentional, but I’d like to think it wasn’t.” However, the problem with me thinking that is that it doesn’t address the fact that “unintentional” racism is unacceptable. Going into 2018, we need to be aware, and make others aware that these sorts of “accidents” aren’t excusable anymore. Even if this was an accident on H&M’s part, someone at that photoshoot should have said something before that ad was put out, and the fact that no one did is an issue on its own. It comes with any “ism”, when you’re so used to it, that you don’t notice it, that’s a problem. We are so accustomed to racism and sexism (and many other forms of prejudice and oppression) that we sometimes don’t even notice them in pop culture. So many movies, advertisements, or tv shows have stereotypical characters and make sexist or racist jokes. The idea of “accidental” or “unintentional” racism means that as a society, we are sometimes not conscious enough about what we say or produce. H&M wasn’t conscious enough in the ads they were putting out, and understandably, it upset people. The issue isn’t the hoodie itself, “coolest monkey in the jungle” is a cute idea for a children’s sweatshirt. The issue is that it was put on a black child, and no one thought “oh, this might come off as racist?” The mother of the model, Terry Mango, said “if I bought that jumper and put it on him and posted it on my pages, would that make me racist? I get peoples opinion, but they are not mine.” The answer is no, it wouldn’t. The sweatshirt itself isn’t the problem, and it would be a completely different story if the model put it on himself, but he didn’t. While “unintentional” racism is certainly something to discuss and recognize, it is the least of our issues right now.


In our current political climate, we have much bigger fish to fry. As a country, as a society, and in the world, we have much bigger forms of racism to protest over. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely think you shouldn’t shop at H&M. But not just because of their racist ad. I also don’t think you should shop at Gap, Old Navy, or Forever 21. Have you ever wondered how these companies’ clothes are so affordable? It’s because they are made in countries such as Cambodia, Bangaldesh, Myanmar, and even America, in outrageous working conditions, by very young women (the majority of these workers are women) and for unlivable wages. These sweatshops are extremely hot, causing workers to fall out from working long hours in unbearable heat. These sweatshops do not follow normal labor laws; the workers are forced to work 60-100 hour weeks, in hot and unsafe conditions, for well under minimum wage. After the racist ad they put out, they have since hired a “diversity leader.” “The recent incident was entirely unintentional, but it demonstrates so clearly how big our responsibility is as a global brand. We have reached out, around the world, inside and outside H&M to get feedback.” was included in their statement . Their unethical working environments, however, have been recognized, but not fixed. In 2013, the Rana Plaza factory collapsed in Bangladesh, killing roughly over a thousand workers. This caused many companies to agree to make a commitment to providing safe working environments for the workers making their clothes, H&M included. H&M was the first and largest company to sign the 2013 Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. Sadly, according to the Asia Floor Wage Alliance, there has barely been any progress made. “Due to failed compliance with the accord, 78,842 garment workers in Bangladesh continue to produce garments for H&M in buildings without fire exits.” A report done by the Clean Clothes campaign, only looking at H&M’s best factories since the collapse in 2013, has also shown that progress has been incredibly slow. About 61% of those factories didn’t have fire exits that meet the Accord’s standards, and that number is far too high for how at-risk Bangladesh is for factory fires. Other risks included in the report were lockable doors, sliding doors, and collapsible gates. I’m not saying a racist ad isn’t a priority, or that unintentional racism is acceptable, because it isn’t. We need to watch our language and what comes natural to us, and that goes for companies as public as H&M. What I am saying is if H&M can’t keep their promise of providing safe working environments for the people that make their product, then their “unintentionally” racist ad should be the least of their worries, and the least of ours.