Vagrant Journalism

Published pieces from the past, the present and of the potential future.

Posts Tagged ‘new journalism’

5 June 2007: “Recognition, Restoration, Reparation”

Posted by Christina on March 6, 2009

soad-araratThis was our final project for the Arts Criticism class. We were to focus on how art has a role in today’s society and, regardless of what form it took, how society perceived the art.

“Recognition, Restoration, Reparation”

“The history of the Armenian people is a story stained with tragedy, destruction and injustice-but, nevertheless, also a story of faith, perseverance, accomplishment and hope.”

– Governor of California, George Deukmejian, 1983-1991

The late-19th century and early-20th century was witness to atrocities occurring in and around the areas of historic Turkey and Armenia. The dictatorial triumvirate of the Three Pashas, Mehmed Talat Pasha, Ismail Enver and Ahmed Djemal revolted against then ruler Sultan Abdul Hamid II and orchestrated the events that lead up to the year when everything culminated in 1915. These members of the Young Turks, an organization believing in the reform of the Ottoman Empire’s current administration, went to extreme ends to get their point across. They dictated the details of the massacre, leaving a profound effect on the years of World War I.         

Historically, in 301 A.D., Armenia becomes the first nation to accept Christianity as a state religion. Traditions die hard in such a tight knit community of believes and Christianity had become more than just a tradition, it had become their way of life. To be persecuted for such an integral part of their Armenian heritage and identity lead many to believe that they would rather die and be forced to defy what made up a part of them as a whole. In their tirade of wanting ultimate rule, the main goal of the Three Pashas was to persecute the Armenians for their religious beliefs, tearing apart families for their Christianity and trying to separately brainwash the babies and youth they collected and orphaned into following the Muslim way. It was the first mark of the new century that showcased how important a religion was to a nation and how far they would go for their beliefs.

The lengths to which their Young Turk Revolution rattled against Hamid’s monarchy extended across the Caucasus. It was through these motions that placed The Young Turk movement into a position to develop a culture-oriented life for their surroundings, which they did by ways of stealing and conquering the culture around them. Rampant pillaging, plundering and raping of an entire nation of people could never amount to any sort of intellectual, artistic or political advancement. In fact, in the shadow of their actions, they remained in a state of decline that brought them to an even lower position culturally.

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8 May 2007: Book Review – Fitzgerald and Hemingway, Cries from the Lost Generation

Posted by Christina on March 5, 2009

gatsby-sunThis was a book review for the Arts Criticism class on Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

Reviewing Fitzgerald and Hemingway: Cries from the Lost Generation

With characters that lead lives seemingly more listless than another’s, both Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby showcase a generation that feels lost amongst themselves after the toils of World War I have given their psyche and overall outlook on the world the once-over-twice. We find a collection of personas who have reached the peak of their youths and are tirelessly enjoying clinging on to the tail end of those dreams for as long as they can. Hemingway’s leading man, Jake Barnes, battles with a form of apathy for his surrounding, which renders him a listless wanderer in his own life, and the undeniable emotion of human nature, one which makes him cry himself to sleep sometimes. Meanwhile, Fitzgerald’s main character, Nick Carraway, finds himself perhaps uncomfortably displaced amongst the recklessness of this post-war generation lost amongst themselves and is haphazardly thrown into the thick of it. Where we may question whether either character consciously accepts their fate or not, we most definitely find a force of resistance may trump one over the other’s.

Both Hemingway and Fitzgerald found themselves in common company throughout their careers. Taking part of a movement in Paris that housed a certain “Lost Generation,” a group of writers began to really find themselves. This period marked a coming of age for many notable writers we revere today who, well into their lives already sequestered into their specific niches, realized a revamping of style and personal outlook was due during this time. Bumping elbows with the likes of Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein and T.S. Eliot, the influences of their mantras and schools of thought show up as themes that run deep with both The Sun Also Rises as well as with The Great Gatsby. Both characters reflect on a new peak in their lives that lead to a cathartic understanding and simultaneous shock at the way society has since developed after the war.

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24 April 2007: Movie Review – Children of Men

Posted by Christina on March 5, 2009

365863867_d3dd990ce6_oI took a Literary Journalism seminar called Arts Criticism where we basically honed our skills in writing about various forms of art. I was excited about this class because with the New U, I was essentially doing just that. There’s a difference, however, and by the end of this class I had not only honed my skill in arts criticism but it gave me a new way of approaching the writing I did for the New U.

Movie Review: Children of Men

Since our brains could grasp the concept of civics, we’ve been taught the trials and tribulations of governments gone awry. We all read the likes of 1984 and Animal Farm in high school, most likely, and learned about how societies crumble underneath a flawed rule. We also learned about rebellion and in going through each of our awkward teen years experienced our own form one way or another. Most importantly, we’ve watched through the symbolic gesture of all forms of art media what may befall societies that have been ripped apart and their rebellion against each form of the man.

More recently, we find these themes in films like V for Vendetta and perhaps even The Island where a utopian society has been driven apart by a government that was supposed to take care of them. In Children of Men, the idea of the failed supposed perfect society is revamped in a modern yet dilapidated version of Great Britain. The prospect of a new generation has been completely eradicated with a global infertility that has lasted for nearly two decades. Even with a society that has come as far as it has with technological advances and may have at one time held a positive outlook towards better living situations finds itself feeling as if the end of the world has already come. No one bothers with the streets and everyone leads a bleak life of nothingness and protesters feel rejected by their gods. This is where we experience a real post-apocalyptic world where the true meaning of the end of the world has arrived.

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8 December 2006: Last Night A Reefer Saved My Life – The Plight of the Cannabinoids

Posted by Christina on March 3, 2009


This paper I did for a class called Justice and Injustice where we were to write about some sort of injustice happening in the world. I wrote about the injustice received to small business owners, particular marijuana dispensaries because I liked to push the envelop as far as I could and to all kinds of edges. Here is yet another example.

Last Night A Reefer Saved My Life: The Plight of the Cannabinoids

“You know, the young people need to know the difference between drugs and medicine. Man makes drugs, in a laboratory. But medicine grows from the ground naturally. So there’s a big different between medicine and drugs. Watch out for the drugs.”

– Carlos Santana, Can’t Find My Way Home: America in the Great Stoned Age, 1945-2000

Adam Christopher Gingras enters his own house on a Friday night in the dead of summer with his arms high up in the air shouting, “I am unarmed and live here! I am coming in! Please, don’t shoot!” Four Orange County Sherriff Deputies have surrounded his house with their squad cars and are in his home with his three dogs.

“A car registered to this address was in a high speed pursuit this evening,” one curlicue says to him.

Gingras proceeds to explain how his fiancée had gotten into an accident with that car eight months ago. They were supposed to have their information taken off but the police traced the VIN number to the address they were at now. Now, Gringas, a medical marijuana patient and primary caregiver who knows more about the chemistry involved the each type of TCH chemical and what hormone they attach to than these self-proclaimed defenders of humanity’s rights and laws, is watching his plants get ripped from the roots and snipped at the bottom stalk by those same defenders.

“No, shut up, you can’t call your lawyer yet. Sit down,” snorts the curlicue.

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16 June 2006: “Destinations Where They’re Far More Suited Than Here”

Posted by Christina on March 2, 2009

mother-baby-motherchild74This was another piece done for a Literary Journalism class that focused on the aspect of basic creative writing when it came to a story. I took the approach of following a story that had already happened through research and interviews rather than stand alongside a story that was happening while the class was working on their respective assignments. My unconventional approach, while different than the rest of the class’s, was not incorrect but wasn’t very mainstream either.

I followed the story of a close family friend who had experienced trauma in her family life and while she has managed to take each day as it came, it effected her and the future of her remaining family deeply. However, this is her story of survival more than anything else.

“Destinations Where They’re Far More Suited Than Here”

Chances are, most ancestors of today’s first generation took that trip across the Atlantic, ended up in Ellis Island with pennies in their grandmother-mended pockets, woolen socks on their travel-weary feet and some home-spun hat on their racked heads. War and poverty tore people from their homelands, made them yearn for the stories of gold-laden streets with an abundance of opportunity.

Beirut, Lebanon was one such place. Where the late-1960s and early-1970s produced a war-torn country, citizens disenchanted with their homeland and most parents of today’s American-born generation waiting for the first chance to get out. Families sent their children away to free them from the burdens of a dilapidated government, thrust them in the face of opportunity. This usually meant the United States.

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10 March 2006: When Drug Escapades Turn Fiendish Revelry into a California Nightmare at The Castle

Posted by Christina on March 2, 2009

nico-jimFor this assignment we had to rewrite a story we had previously read in interview form. This was, by far, one of the most interesting stories I had read and we read a lot of Lester Bangs and a lot of interviews from people who, forget fly-on-the-walls, but they were cockroaches-on-the-walls and that heavily into all the muck of this great moment in music history.

When Drug Escapades Turn Fiendish Revelry into a California Nightmare at The Castle

Danny Fields sat comfortably couched in a plush, Elektra Records company armchair in some executive’s office licking last night off his palms and fingers. Hands bright orange with none other than LSD, the company freak was at work. They paid him to be exactly who he was, too. The one guy with enough business sense to start the record company wouldn’t be caught dead out in the street, sniffing the scene for the high it was worth just to get the reality of what was cool and more importantly, what would sell. That’s where Danny came in and all he had to do was be cool, which he achieved every time he sat in that billowy chair, licking the LSD of his fingertips.

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24 February 2006: Never In a Million Years But Apparently Pigs Do Fly – A Diatribe for My Falling Anti-Hero, Billie Joe Armstrong

Posted by Christina on March 1, 2009

green_day_196933mThis was, by far, my favorite assignment. In our Lester Bangs days – and oh how excellent they were – were we exposed to a lot of interesting forms of writing about music. One was the diatribe and we were to write our very own diatribe. Whether it was part of the assignment or I took the challenge upon myself, the following diatribe is about a figure in music history I once absolutely adored, but eventually wholly abhorred by the time their self-proclaimed “rock opera” came out. Please. The only rock opera, as far as I’m concerned, is Tommy and before that was the concept album and that’s all that will ever be. I’m not going to get started.

Never In a Million Years But Apparently Pigs Do Fly – A Diatribe for My Falling Anti-Hero, Billie Joe Armstrong

Rock journalist Ben Graham, who has made notable contributions to UK’s New Music Express and Kerrang!, gets polite, prissy voiced Nancy McClean to say “masturbate” and “marijuana” in an accurately articulated London twang. The juxtaposition between her persona and her actual words make the statements more poignant, particularly since she’s talking about Green Day. Going from the piss-ridden bathroom stalls and alleyways of 924 Gilman Street to a Grammy for Dookie, though says more than any biographical narrative.

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10 February 2006: I’m Waiting For the Band…And It Happens to be X

Posted by Christina on March 1, 2009

x-masqueFor this assignment we were to practice marketing an album and having recently interviewed Kristine McKenna who had best be-friended all of X, I was completely smitten on all accounts. I wanted to do what she had been able to do for so many years, even if on a very base and scholastic level. I marketed one of the band’s greatest albums and had a lot of fun doing it. I referenced The Velvet Underground in my title, too. Referencing obscurities was something I was quite fond of and still am, but to a lesser obscure extent than before.

I’m Waiting For the Band…And It Happens to be X

Whatever was happening in the Manhattan Bowery district in New York City was unbeknownst to the club proprietors at the time. Awkwardly titled and rightfully acronymic, the area’s largest bar was Country, Bluegrass, and Blues and Other Music For Uplifting Gormandizers and promised to be just that-home of voracious consumers of music. The youth of the nation looked towards New York for the birth of the punk that inspired them; Television and the Ramones were regulars on CBGB gig playbills and were soon followed by the likes of Talking Heads, New York Dolls and Patti Smith. Andy Warhol led his motley crew of artists that emerged from the 1960’s and came into the 1970’s as the godlike Velvet Underground headlined by icons Lou Reed and John Cale.

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3 February 2006: Showcasing Hybridity in the Making of ‘A Love Surpreme’

Posted by Christina on March 1, 2009


This assignment was more like a critical essay on the theme and idea of hybridity. We were to write about how it was used in a book about music so that we understood a new level of literary journalism. Writing about something real while turning that reality into symbolic gestures – like how Ashley Kahn took the reality of John Coltrane’s mode of music making and turned it into something that symbolized the musician’s life – was something we were to practice in our own writing outside of school. We learned the importance of that here.

Showcasing Hybridity in the Making of A Love Supreme

The underlying notion of hybridity is key in Ashley Kahn’s book in that the characteristics of hybridity-various pure forms that then combine to make an even better form-further qualify the gravity and importance of John Coltrane’s signature album, A Love Supreme. Kahn uses the notions of hybridity to bring connections between the pure and separate forms that have literally mixed throughout Coltrane’s life as well as pure and separate forms that he has mixed figuratively through his music. In this way, Kahn shows how Coltrane’s life mirrored his music which, in turn, shows how truly intimate he was with his music. This fact of intimacy makes this monumental album truly personal and makes the message, whether spiritual and religious or not, all the more potent.

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27 January 2006: Johnny Thunders: Man, Musician, Gender Bender

Posted by Christina on March 1, 2009

johnny_thundersThe following set of pieces I wrote for a class called Writing About Music and for an entire quarter, I was truly in a state of euphoric bliss. The readings were excellent, my music tastes were expanding by the minute and my love for writing about the arts were perpetually challenged. The entire quarter was like the best workout my brain and writing skills could have ever had an for this class, I will forever be truly thankful.

For this assignment we were to write a sort of biographical narrative for a musician who had died too young. We were given a list from which we could pick, otherwise a vast majority of the class would have picked Kurt Cobain, Tupac or Jim Morrisson (maybe)  and everyone would have the same topic. I picked Johnny Thunders from The  New York Dolls.

Johnny Thunders: Man, Musician, Gender Bender

Who would have thought a product of England and the 1980’s most prominent, melancholic crooner would have once been the head of a New York Dolls fan club? Steven Patrick Morrissey would later organize a Dolls reunion for the Meltdown Festival in 2004 and release a live DVD by his Attack label. Sadly, this reunion lacked the presence of the band’s original guitarist, vocalist and one of its songwriters, Johnny Thunders.

If HBO has made Sopranos addicts, tuning in weekly with as much fervor as a religious zealot, and stick around for the credits, for “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory.” That’s Johnny Thunders and his New York Dolls in all their glory saying, “Hello.”

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