Selected Albums

Last month I had the pleasure of viewing the documentary “Nothing Can Hurt Me.” It follows the Memphis band, Big Star, as they recorded their few seminal albums in the early 1970s. It was soft rock with an edge. They were just a group of guys who loved Led Zeppelin, but also shared a unique capability to capture the Americana sound of Tennessee. Essentially, they were a variation of the Eagles that could be loved by a bunch of late eighties Sonic Youth fans. Big Star is arguably the greatest band that no one has ever heard of. Each of their albums have been referred to as classics in the past forty years, but not when they first released them. Why? Because it wasn’t until the decade after that people started to pay attention. For the following two decades, Big Star would be cited as the inspiration for founding members of R.E.M, the Replacements and Wilco, and finally they would gain a major cult fanbase.

The point is this: music publications give the impression that they can sense the cultural significance of an album within days of its release. Some use terms like “instant classic” or “seminal” not long after they’ve had an opportunity to listen, trivializing the quality of the job experience. How can they use this language and still accurately survey the state of popular and alternative music? If common sense has anything to say about the matter, classics take time to be recognized. They aren’t always stand out from the very beginning.

Should we then wait a month before reviewing an album? A year? A decade? As disappointing as I find this, it’s impossible. It’s no longer a difficult task to produce one's own music, though it can be tedious at times. We live in a society completely saturated with media, and we need to discern what is worth listening to from what is simply wasting our time. That’s why for the rest of my time as Arts & Entertainment editor, I will no longer be writing what not to listen to. For that matter, I will no longer write about what you should listen to. I will simply be making suggestions. I’ll simply nudge you towards what you might like. Here are five albums from the past year that you should maybe check out, but only if you want to.

Malibu – Anderson .Paak

Anderson-Park-Malibu-Cover-Billboard-650x650Summer releases from Miguel and the Weeknd set the tone for a darker R&B. While these Top 40 artists are embracing the night, Anderson .Paak invokes the tones of a sunny day. He layers his D’Angelo-esque vocals on top of smooth synths and funky guitar and horn riffs, and he does so with the intensity of James Brown. I recommend the album and his live performances.

Primatives – Bayonne

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I waited for this album for a year. Seriously, a year ago Bayonne had one single on Spotify. When the album came out, I was very far from being disappointed, and the one-man band of Roger Sellers created a work that makes transient psychedelia very catchy. It’s calming. It's Animal Collective if they were produced by Phil Collins. This will be a name to look out for in the future, so get a head start and listen to his debut album. 

Art Angels – Grimes

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A lot of critics have been praising this album, noting that Grimes is finally settling into a sound that she can call hers. I hope this isn’t true. Don’t get me wrong, this is my favorite release that she has made to date. Its wild mix of synth-pop and experimental power pop rushes you through the mind of a true artist in our lifetime. With any luck we’ll just see her keep growing.

Cardinals – Pinegrove

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Americana driven emotional punk. It may very well be my favorite genre, and Pinegrove really scores big here. It really doesn’t take a special talent to imply a Ryan Adams like attitude to lyricism that attributes the qualities of contemporaries like Modern Baseball and Into It. Over It. However, it takes immense talent to draw the personal connection that I would have to a Ryan Adams album. This band has passion, and I can’t recommend a new band more than Pinegrove.

I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It – The 1975

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What can I say, it’s pure ear candy. No band today writes hooks catchier than the 1975 does, and they really should be celebrated for this talent. 

Superdelegate Oligarchy

By DJ Crosby Over the course of the 2016 Presidential Elections, the word “superdelegate” has been engraved into our minds. Various news outlets, magazines, and online news sources have introduced superdelegates to us, but they have yet to express the importance or even define what a superdelegate is. North Park Political Science professor, Dr. Jon Peterson was interviewed in hopes of clearing up this super confusion.

The Republican nomination and the Democratic nomination processes vary. The Democratic nomination has more of a focus on the superdelegate key than the Republican nomination. CBS News says that the Democratic nomination is effected by the “712 wild cards with an outsized amount of power.” These wild cards are also known as democratic superdelegates. According to CBS, a superdelegate “falls into one of three categories: a major elected official, including senators and members of the House of Representatives; a notable member of the party, such as a current or former president or vice president; and some members of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).”

These are people in the political system who hold a large, swaying opinion in regards to the democratic nomination, in hopes of becoming President of the United States. CBS News indicates that some of the current Democratic superdelegates include President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore.

When asked what the difference is between the Republican and Democratic superdelegates, Dr. Jon Peterson said, “The Republican Party does not have superdelegates, per se. They have delegates who are seated automatically (that is, they are not elected), but are limited to three per state. Typically, these are high-ranking party officials, like the state’s party chair and a couple of party committee members. Unlike Democratic superdelegates, these Republican delegates must vote for the candidate who won the popular vote in their state.”

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The Republican nomination does not depend on the superdelegates because they do not have them. The superdelegates were created by the Democratic National Convention before the 1984 presidential election “in an effort to give party leaders more control over whom their party nominated for president.” Standing at a whopping 15 percent, the superdelegates of the Democratic party are more than the regular delegates. Peterson states that “just like 'regular' delegates, they get to vote for who should represent the Democratic Party in the presidential election. Unlike 'regular' delegates who are committed to a certain candidate, superdelegates are free to vote for anyone they like.”

In the last few weeks of the Presidential election, many Democratic voters have become concerned with the power the superdelegates have. For example, Senator Bernie Sanders has won the majority of primary elections but still trails Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in delegate count. Currently, Sanders holds 38 superdelegates to Clinton’s 502. One has to wonder why Sanders is trailing Clinton in an extremely large superdelegate gap—464 to be exact.

When asked why this could happen, Dr. Peterson shed some light on the subject. He stated that “after its disastrous convention in Chicago in 1968, the Democratic Party changed its delegate selection process to take power away from party officials and give it to the people. However, many Democratic officials were unhappy with who the people selected to be the party’s candidates in 1972 (George McGovern) and 1976 (Jimmy Carter) and sought to regain influence over the nominating process. So they gave elected officeholders and party officials votes at the convention by making them superdelegates. Even though only 15-20 percent of all of the delegates are superdelegates, it makes it more difficult to win the party’s nomination if you are an outsider.”

Peterson connects this to our current election: “For more than 20 years, Bernie Sanders served Vermont in the House of Representative and the Senate as an Independent. He changed his affiliation to the Democratic Party in 2015. That does not give many long-time Democrats much incentive to support him over Hillary Clinton, who has been a Democrat since 1968.” When looking at this aspect of the election, one could agree that the fact that Sanders has been an Independent for the majority of his political career could be a plausible reason for his lack of superdelegates.

Republican “superdelegates” do not exist in the way we know the Democratic superdelegates do. Republican “superdelegates” are not permitted to vote for a candidate if that candidate did not win his or her state primary. Democratic superdelegates have wildcards that are not tied to any one Democrat. They can freely pick who they will support. Because of all of the pressure and media coverage, Peterson iterates that “Given all the attention that the nominating process is getting this year, there will likely be pressure on the parties to change the process in future elections.”

SGA Budget Crisis

By Lyndsie Cox  With the SGA budget deficit over the past year, a lot of questions were raised about the effects on funding of this year and if it will affect students in the future. Director of Student Activities GG Flint and SGA Treasurer Niko Sanchez were willing to answer questions and provide some background about the budget crisis, that has now been resolved.

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Regarding the lack of funds, one aspect is how it started. After Laurie Konecky, former director of student activities left, SGA realized they were short a large amount of money. An accumulation of over $10,000 had been overspent from past years, unknown to this year's SGA executive committee. Flint described how every year SGA is allocated money based on how many students attend North Park. In order to get an accurate number, SGA has to wait several weeks in case any students drop out. Konecky left before the six weeks were up, which is when Flint stepped in and was alerted by the business office that SGA had a deficit. Sanchez explained that these expenses SGA did not know about were due to miscommunication.

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A large part of SGA is managing the budget for all of the clubs on campus. Clubs were given $500 to spend each semester, and had to provide information on how the money was spent. According to Flint, the clubs are given this standard amount for each semester and that was unrelated to the deficit, decided before they knew about the debt. Sanchez met with each club president at the beginning of the semester to clarify any questions and look at how they planned to spend their money.

SGA has a constitution that they have to follow and there were changes made regarding the budget, but this was again, unrelated to the deficit. SGA had plans to change the constitution in more than one way, not just how the budget is run. They are leaning more toward allowing clubs to decide how much money they need. This will ensure bigger clubs are getting more money to accommodate more people while smaller clubs are also getting the money they deserve.

With all of the information regarding this deficit, it became worth questioning whether or not a boat dance was possible after Fall Music Fest did not take place this year. A large scale event was really important, according to Flint, to include a majority of the student body. SGA felt that the boat dance was a necessary event even though the budget was a tight squeeze. SGA has managed to allocate funds well and they kept enough money in reserve to cover the deficit to avoid negatively affecting next year's account. Because the boat dance was expensive, clubs have not been able to spend as much money this spring semester. Most clubs did not spend the full $500 that they were given, so the executive committee decided they would put money to the dance instead of clubs. The boat dance did have ticket sales, which created some revenue as well.

In regards to how the budget will be run next year, Sanchez shows optimism. He stated that he has done everything in his power to end this year in a positive manner and keep SGA on the right path. According to Sanchez, whether or not better budgeting will make way for more events next year "all depends on what SGA wants to do for next year." Sanchez also explained the expenses and finances of SGA for the 2015 fiscal year, and how the new software they use to budget is completely different.

It is apparent that SGA is working hard to fix the deficit and make positive changes for next year. Clubs and students certainly were impacted by this issue in funding, but SGA is making strides in improving the budget and trying to ensure this does not happen again.

Hello Christina Sawyer

By Maddie Gombis 

One of the privileges that comes with going to a small university is that students have close relationships with their professors. Because this is the case, students have the opportunity to transform their own education. By being in dialogue with professors about how they can optimize learning and reach their full potential, students can change the way education operates for other students as well as themselves. They can create harmony between various disciplines and prevent the pigeon-holing of students who are interested in going far beyond their major's focus.

This idea of students creating their own paths of study is especially important in an age when the humanities and the arts are considered less productive than business studies or the sciences. If students can find a way to reconcile the soul-forming qualities of the humanities and the practicality of the sciences, they should feel the freedom to do so.

North Park's new Arts Administration major is the perfect example of the way that students can work with professors to close the divide between the arts and business. This past weekend, I had the pleasure of contacting Christina Sawyer, a senior at North Park, about how she and a few other fellow music students shaped their own educations and facilitated the creation of a new major. 

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MG: Tell me a little bit about your major and the direction you plan to take with it.

CS: Arts Administration is a fairly new major in the music department that, broadly explained, bridges the gap between the arts and business. Personally, I'm very drawn to grant writing and program development for nonprofits. My internship with Hope For The Day (a local organization focused on suicide prevention through education and the arts) has solidified these passions for me. We'll see what happens after graduation in May. The wonderful thing about this major is that you have plenty of room for electives that make it your own.

MG: So you sort of built your own major a couple years back. What sparked the desire to do this?

CS: Firstly, the only "credit" I can take is the fact that I asked for a new major that blended music and business. In the middle of my sophomore year, I was breezing through my B.A. Music degree and wasn't satisfied. I'd actually started off at NPU as a composition major, but I soon realized I didn't want to teach or perform for a living. Speaking with fellow music students, many of us realized we felt the same. We wanted to keep performing and growing as musicians, but we had other passions and gifts that were being neglected. There was no major that blended music and business, and I felt that there was a substantial demand for such a relevant pairing. As it turned out, I wasn't the only one.

MG: What were a couple of things you felt necessitated the creation of a new major?

CS: While I could've just started over as a business major with a minor in music, that didn't make sense to me. Why not create a major that allowed someone to firstly be a musician/artist and then translate that over into management or development? After all, no one understands other artists better than a fellow artist. Other local universities had degrees like "Music Business Management" or "Performing Arts Management", and it seemed only logical for North Park University to stay current and embrace that idea in a musical city like Chicago.

MG: Describe the creation process. Who did you work with? What did you have to do?

CS: This is the part where I give a HUGE shout-out and express my gratefulness to Dr. Helen Hudgens, my faculty advisor. She didn't just listen to our desires and dreams; she acted and met the need she saw. She was truly an advocate for all of us, and we wouldn't have the programs we have today without her. There was a lot of red tape to go through and approval that was necessary before our dreams could be realized. Working with Dean Johnson, three new B.A. programs were introduced my junior year: Composition, Jazz Studies, and Arts Administration. Previously, composition had only been a concentration.

MG: Was it just a matter of taking a certain combination of classes or did you do independent studies to shape your own education?

CS: Thankfully, because there is a lot of room for electives, I was able to take more nonprofit and business courses than are necessary for the major. THIS is the part where you are able to tailor the degree. Taking courses that weren't required such as Financial Accounting and Foundations of Marketing allowed me to explore areas of interest. My friend Bernadette Hagen is also on the Arts Administration track and is blending music and theater! David Ashley (the first person to graduate with the degree this past December! Woo!!!) dreams of opening up his own nonprofits and serving underprivileged communities. Independent studies are definitely a possibility. I feel like the fact that the three of us switched over to this program in the middle of our educations left us with less time to experiment and play with it. I hope those who come after us can take it to new levels!

 

MG: What were some of the complications you ran into, if any?

CS: As the first batch of students to attempt the major, we definitely had moments of confusion and figured things out as we went. I'll never forget Dr. Tom Bracy sitting down at Viking Cafe with Bernadette, David, and me at 8 AM for our Introduction to Arts Administration course. Because the class was so small and we were the only ones in the major, he'd just pour all of his wisdom and knowledge into us. We'd have amazing discussions, and he really encouraged all of us to search our hearts and figure out where God was leading us. Lesson planning for a group as diverse and tiny as ours must have been challenging, and he did a wonderful job.

MG: What are the prospects for a major like this?

CS: That's what's most exciting to me: There are so many options! Depending on their personal gifts and acquired skills, someone with a degree in Arts Administration could end up managing performers, developing nonprofit and/or community arts programs, owning/operating a record label, stage managing, and even becoming an executive director or industry attorney (with continued education). Those are just a FEW possibilities. Your imagination and work ethic are your only limits.

MG: What kind of doors have been opened now that you've sort of created your own program?

 

CS: I feel more freedom and self-assurance than I ever have. With so many options that allow me to use all of my gifts, I don't feel stifled or pigeon-holed. The ability to have a creative career that offers stability is very important to me as well. I have job offers and options coming from multiple sectors, which just proves how versatile the degree is. You'd be surprised at how many employers and companies that have nothing to do with the arts are interested in someone because they have a creative edge.

MG: Does this set a precedent for other students who wish to transform their own education?

CS: My dream for North Park is that the Arts Administration degree can become more accessible to visual artists and theater majors. For now, it is housed under the music department. This is a fantastic start, but Arts Administration is for ALL artists! Don't be afraid to speak frankly with your faculty advisors and personalize your major with the courses you choose to take. Select classes that challenge you and take you out of your comfort zone. You might be surprised at how many untapped talents are just waiting to be discovered! Don't constrain yourself. As Dr. Bracy often told us, the path your life will usually NEVER a clean, straight line. It's a series of zig-zags, curves, and detours. It will be okay! You're more than prepared, even when you don't feel ready.