Comfest is Debauched and Depraved

When the sun is highest in the sky in the summer, the ancient venal ritual of solstice lechery is still celebrated by the lascivious patrons of Columbus’ Comfest.  Comfest, or Community Festival, has very few redeeming qualities.  The music, restricted to local jam bands who take 3-minute Grateful Dead songs and turn them into 18-minute drones, leaves something to be desired – namely: originality.  If people aren’t coming for the music, then what is it?  It seems that human beings have an insatiable desire to pack on top of one another in massive hordes.  Wherever there are people gathering, you can damn well guarantee more people will gather – it’s the herd instinct.  There was beer though, but I first had to navigate the beer line.  Instead of a simple wristband, Comfest sells tokens for their beer, and by the time I was swindled by their shell game, I found I’d paid $11 for 32 ounces of Labatt Blue.  Eleven dollars for beer made by Canadians.  With my wallet a little lighter, I turned around to see droves of alt-bro hipsters and post-hippie young professionals swarming in the muddy grass, looking vaguely confused as to why they are there, why they are anywhere.  Time to find some shade.  Under the trees I found an impromptu gathering of Juggalos and was forced to move after they started spraying Faygo all over everyone.  After finishing my beer and slithering through throngs of aimless bare-breasted women and androgynous flamboyantes , I decided I’d had enough.  Walking back up High Street toward my car, I witnessed a man being brutally beaten by three other men.  He was trying to defend himself with a pair of Timberland boots.  I closed my eyes and thought ‘there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home,’ and before I knew it, I was back on the gritty streets of Dayton, where I found I could breathe again.


walk on by

looking away

as she passes


another day another

bat of the lashes


the music fades, departs

her eye evades and darts


the blind eye sees all

from creation to the fall


on top for now

and can’t fathom how


the vigor soon withers

with slant stares and shivers


today no word or gesture

will she turn around for


until youth festers

and beauty gets sore

Jim Tressel Resigns

COLUMBUS – A young coed was walking down High St. near the Ohio State University on Friday when she was stopped by undercover police and questioned in regard to the jersey she was wearing – an official NCAA football jersey belonging to Terrelle Pryor.

Sandy Summers, an OSU student, single mother, and part-time dancer, said the jersey was given to her after a night of casual sex with the football star.

In exchange for sex, Pryor agreed to give Summers his jersey.  According to the NCAA, this is a violation of Sec. 27 Art. 4 of the NCAA revised code – stipulating that student athletes hold no ownership rights over their jerseys, memorabilia, or likenesses.  Student athletes give up this right when they sign NCAA contracts.

Summers admitted that she only had sex with Pryor because he is the team’s quarterback.  This fact – combined with the gift of the jersey – led to the NCAA Grand Dragoon Council’s decision to uphold the mandate of their ownership over student athletes, and suspend Pryor for several games.

Legendary coach Jim Tressel was also suspended and eventually forced to resign, caving to pressure from the council.  NCAA coaches are held to higher standards than players, and are expected to police, spy on, and rat out their own players at the slightest indiscretion.  A coach is responsible for his players’ behavior on and off the field, according to the NCAA.

“The fact that Tressel knew Pryor got laid and didn’t tell anyone about it says a lot about the man’s character,” said Dick Jiggler, NCAA spokesman.

Jiggler says the Dragoon Council is considering measures to combat the practice of players receiving compensation for their talents and skills.  Radio Frequency Identification has shown promise recently in the “chipping” of stray dogs.  The NCAA’s idea is to embed an RFID chip in all collegiate athletes – in order to keep constant watch over their movements and behaviors.

“The NCAA exists to preserve itself,” said Jiggler, “if we start giving athletes a share in the business, there won’t be any money left for all of us here at the NCAA to keep our jobs.”

I’m going to turn this in for a grade because I.DONT.CARE.

A friend traveling to a foreign country like Spain faces a litany of challenges indeed.  He or she must not only cope with the striking indifference of the natives toward his preposterous and arrogant American posturing, but he or she must make rare use of tact and respect – two qualities lacking in most modern young adults.  Americans, especially after the specious wars in the Middle East, have been conditioned from an early age to react to any national criticism with unflinchingly patriotic hysteria.  For a traveler, the trip requires that he or she leaves their American “training” behind them and look at the world, as if a child.

Having proper intercultural attitudes and manners are like squeezing a baby robin’s egg, if he or she tries too hard, the egg cracks and the traveler is revealed as ignorant as the natives suspected.  If he or she doesn’t try hard enough, then any respect from the native crumbles and the traveler is reduced to a tourist – a miserable leech that gains nothing from his or her travels except souvenir trinkets from the running of the bulls.  The distinction is between the traveler and the tourist.  The elusive key to intercultural manners and attitudes is respect.  A traveler respects the intricacies, eccentricities and outright oddities of the places he or she visits.  A tourist views the foreign land as a sort of Disney world, with an attitude of “what can I get?” rather than “what can I learn?”

While an American might salivate at the prospect of drinking beer at McDonalds, the Spaniards do not consider this indulgence to be of any value, cultural or otherwise.  The fresh-faced traveler is well advised to educate his or herself on the ways of the Spanish, though they might at times seem bizarre.  Some things verge on the obscene to puritanical American sensibilities.  For instance, in theory, nudity is completely legal in all of Spain.  The traveler should dispense of his or her aversion to the nude human form, and embrace the pervasive nudity present in Spain, on the beaches and in the parks.  He or she should not stare, but instead “do as the Spaniards do,” and pretend that nudity is a natural part of life.  Utmost, he or she should respect the fact, as an American, that naked people are in fact expressing a revered quality known to Americans as “rugged individualism.”

A traveler is advised not to ask such banal questions like “donde esta McDonalds?” to the local populace, because they will surely take offense.  Instead he or she might attempt to learn a few bits of Spanish before departing.  The endeavor will earn the traveler more respect from the Spaniards, and they will usually answer in English.  Many Spaniards are very friendly and eager to communicate with travelers, though often times a Spanish-speaker will pretend to understand your questions, rather than lose face.  A traveler must discern and communicate using body language, as Spaniards are often flamboyant nonverbal communicators.  The traveler will encounter some culture shock at first, but the cure can be found at the local Spanish watering hole, the Cantina.  After loosening up the inhibitions with a few cervezas or some sangria, the travelers and locals like find their sober prejudices melting away onto trays of tapas and much cultural learning can take place.

The traveler must be ready for a long night, however, as the drinking customs of the Spanish, though reputed to be less rowdy than those of their Northern European counterparts, is in fact shifting with the times to become more party-oriented.  There are several types of bars in the urban areas of Spain, and each type confines itself to specific one or two-hour periods of the night when it is open for business.  Spanish drinking culture requires that the traveler bar-hop all night.  Americans – long indoctrinated into thinking that secondhand smoke causes instant cancer – might be surprised, pleasantly or otherwise, with the candid approval of smoking in all public places.  After years of Fascist rule, Spaniards take a more laissez-faire attitude toward personal freedom and consumption.  Whatever happens, the traveler should never, under any circumstances, engage in the sort of behavior deemed “arrogant American.”  This involves walking lazily through city streets, talking loudly in restaurants, and getting drunk and singing American military marches at the top of the lungs in the middle of the night through otherwise quiet neighborhoods.  This is a surefire way to make the locals despise Americans, and it betrays a total lack of intercultural awareness and respect.

Spaniards value family above all else, and the traveler should veer away from jokes aimed at a Spaniard’s mother or sister, as a Spaniard man is very protective over his relations.  This harkens back to the Spanish tradition of machismo in social situations, and though officially women hold equal status with males, the machismo of ages past is reflected in the dominance and chivalry expressed by Spanish men in social situations.  When women meet men in Spain, they kiss on both cheeks. The traveler is well advised to not interpret this action as one of romantic interest, for it is merely cultural and akin to shaking hands.  When people talk about or introduce someone, an American may think that everyone he or she meets is named Don or Donna.  This is not the case, Spaniards preface all names with Don or Donna in a way similar to the way Americans address each other as Mister or Miss, though they do it far more often.

Most of all, the quality of respect is essential.  This applies in all areas of life and communication, but during travel it is especially important.  If a traveler can free his or her mind from prejudice and arrogance to embrace an open mind, then he or she will find his or her travels enjoyable, educational, and rewarding for a lifetime.

in dreams

sight unseen

no belief in the queen.

only in dreams

the faith, the screams.

feign to ignore

yet all else is a bore.

stirring up missions

and pilgrimage wishins.

of a glorious place

and a vision, her face.

but it is not real

with no deal to seal.

press on, tired one

the world’s just begun.

it’s funny, ironic

the sound’s melodic.

yet a picture

of you with her.

brings back dreams

faith returns, it seems.

Middle Class Fashion

Fans of Tegan & Sara and Regina Spektor will find kindred spirits in Middle Class Fashion, a power-pop trio from St. Louis.  The band is set to bring their upbeat, piano-driven sound to South Park Tavern on June 3.  DCP’s Benjamin Dale sat down for a one-on-one with lead singer Jenn Malzone, and found out what it means to be fashionable, in a middle class sort of way.

 What’s the music scene like down in St. Louis?

I feel like it has gotten new life in the past few years.  There’s a lot going on around Cherokee St. – a lot of new venues around that area, record stores, various locally owned businesses.

You’re in another band as well as Middle Class Fashion right?

I’m actually in two other bands: Tight Pants Syndrome and Paper Dolls.  MCF started as a side project with Brad Vaughn from Paper Dolls and Brian McClelland from Tight Pants Syndrome.  It’s definitely turned into a priority now.

You have a beautiful voice, reminiscent of Regina Spektor.

Thanks.  I hear that a lot, and it’s huge compliment, whether or not it’s true.  She’s brilliant.  I love her classical and jazz background and her ability to play with words.

What influences your own songwriting?

I grew up around lots of classical, then went the opposite way and loved anything “weird.”  The mix of those two creates my sound.  Plus my mom studied piano and was an accompanist for years and my dad owns a piano gallery here in St. Louis, and they’ve influenced me too.

So music’s in the blood?

It really is, pretty far back.  My great-great-grandpa was an Italian opera singer in New York.  He owned a bank but moonlighted under the name Fausto.

 At least he was a banker with a soul.

That’s right, a good mix.

You were a psychology major in college.  How does that influence you?

I learned that nothing is black and white or one-sided, making it pretty impossible to completely dislike anybody.  We’re all made up of lots of good and bad.

Is it impossible to completely like somebody too then?

I suppose with that logic, maybe – unless by completely liking them you’re accepting their dark side and liking that as well.  Now I’m psycho babbling…

Do you have a dark side?

I don’t sacrifice animals or anything.  But everybody has a dark side.

Vampires or zombies?

They’re both just so trendy, but vampires.  They’re hotter.  Who wants to hang around a zombie?  Ghosts are cooler than vampires and zombies, hands down.

Do you believe in ghosts?

No, but I want to be proven wrong.  If I saw one I’d probably call a doctor because I’d worry I was having a hallucination.  Then I’d call the Ghostbusters, of course.

St. Louis is home to Budweiser.  Is everyone loyal to Bud in St. Louis?

No.  I love Schlafly, a St. Louis Brewery with great beer.

What kind of beer would you drink if you were rich?

I love Delerium Tremens, also La Fin Du Monde.

If the world ended tomorrow, what would you listen to?  Would you have apocalypse sex?

All this crazy rapture talk – who wouldn’t have apocalypse sex?  I would listen to David Bowie or My Bloody Valentine, I think.

The word ‘hipster’ gets thrown around a lot lately in the music scene.  Should the word be buried or embraced?

Why not embrace it?  Even people who do things less authentically still have good intentions.  They aren’t hurting anybody.

What if they get Tight Pants Syndrome?  Aren’t the male hipsters hurting their unborn children? 

I guess that’s an occupational hazard.

 If you chose to have children, what kind of parent would you want to be?

I wouldn’t force any of my opinions or beliefs on them, but I would show them all the options, like my parents did with me.

Would you insist that they dress with Middle Class Fashion?

As long as they weren’t putting themselves at risk for Tight Pants Syndrome.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Still playing and writing music, adopting a relaxed understanding of life and having traveled a lot more, I hope.

Could you be content with contentment?  Or does angst drive you?

It’s so much easier to write when that angst is there.  But I think it’s possible to be inspired without angst, for sure.  Lately my songwriting is about revisiting past situations, while not getting caught up in them again.

We look forward to seeing you play at South Park on June 3.

I can’t wait!

Rant on Rand

I have a problem with Objectivism, Ayn Rand’s regurgitation of Nietzche’s Ubermensh for religious purposes.  The problem is – Rand assumes that businesspersons, entrepreneurs, and single-minded egotists are freer from corruption than their counterparts – the looters and psychopaths in government.

The crux of Rand’s philosophy can best be summarized as such: Helping people does not help them.

This phrase seems counterintuitive and it is.  Her “philosophy”  – if you can call it that – is really just a collection of nihilistic maxims that could only arise in someone’s brain after drowning in a lifetime of academia.  Laymen refer to it as “bullshit.”

Rand idealizes the 19th century of laissez-faire capitalism as the golden age of reason and prosperity.  The historical reality is much different.  As the world’s population boomed, so did the need for expansion.  The westward expansion of the late 1800’s did in fact create prosperity for many, yet the entire century was plagued by recurrent economic booms and busts, leaving many destitute and starving.  Industrialists sought to exploit everyone, even children, to increase their bottom line.  The US government was sometimes the only force preventing the businessman from creating de facto slaves.

America’s economic prosperity of the 19th and 20th centuries was largely due to Western Civilization having found itself on an unexploited continent – with abundant, yet limited resources to plunder.  As these resources began to dwindle, demagogues disguised as philosophers pop their heads up and try to explain the challenges by demonizing some groups and idealizing others.  The truth always lies somewhere in between.

While I agree with Rand that politicians and big government exist solely to sap the will and creativity of their subjects, I do not agree that businesses do a better job of creating “happiness” in the world.  History suggests that governments and businesses do an equally shitty job of creating a better society.

Sociobiologist E.O. Wilson once demonstrated, via the scientific method, that happiness is more related to genetics than anything else.  Some people are chronically unhappy, regardless of their station in life.  Some people are poor and content.  If your life situation makes you depressed, then it is entirely within your power to change it.  If you are depressed for reasons other than your life situation – that’s why they invented Prozac.  There are also many people who will sit and listen to you bitch and moan about your horrible family, boyfriend, job, etc – for a price, sucker.

No philosophy, religion, government, or economic system can account for the depths of human evil.  No system can likewise fully account for human good.  The human condition has been around for a while now, folks.  The universe exists in a balance, a yin-yang of constantly shape-shifting forces.  The forces balance each other out.  Our evolution as individuals and as a species is constantly undermined by the dark force of entropy.  And yet we are still here.  Chugging along, year after year, humanity continues to overcome the odds.  Many people will never be content to accept challenges, as they think that the elimination of effort and problems is the ultimate utopia.

In reality, it is those challenges that make us stronger as a species, and more ethical as human beings. To eliminate them is to eliminate our own capacity to evolve.

Ayn Rand, in her arrogance, cannot account for the persistent strain of altruism throughout human evolution, which is just as significant as the individualism she unabashedly touts.  This altruism is at least partially responsible for her own existence as an organism, and to abolish the duality of forces within us is to deny the fundamental struggle of being human.  Emotion is as vital as reason for the human organism.  Life is pain.  Existence is futile.  But our curiosity keeps us going.  Our joie de vivre keeps us happy.

Life is short, and you can either make the best of the time you have, or constantly search for answers that will never come.

Happiness comes from within, no society can create it.

Oh yeah – the film adaptation of Atlas Shrugged sucks worse than the book.