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Denebola » Julia Sklar http://www.denebolaonline.net The Award-Winning, Official School Newspaper of Newton South High School, Newton, MA Fri, 17 Jun 2011 02:00:19 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.0.2 Volume 49: That’s What She Said http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/02/10/volume-49-that%e2%80%99s-what-she-said/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/02/10/volume-49-that%e2%80%99s-what-she-said/#comments Wed, 10 Feb 2010 08:50:12 +0000 Claire Pezza http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3613 Hey Ladiezzzz, we know, it’s hard to believe, but the illustrious Volume 49 has come to a close. Because every good “farewell article needs at least one cliché, we’ll say it’s been a wild ride. We wouldn’t have it any other way, though.

The volume began with that semi-awkward Article Ideas meeting at Amrita’s house where we surprised you all with your favorite flavors of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Remember, we covertly hid the ice cream flavor question in amongst other weirder ones in our first staff-wide email? “Do you sleep with a stuffed animal at night? “What’s your favorite season? and of course, “Best Ben and Jerry’s flavor? But don’t worry, we know we’ve gotten weirder since then.

Vol49 managed to produce what was arguably the first March issue in the history of Denebola that didn’t suck, and the epicness continued for all glorious eight issues afterward. So let’s recount the g00d timez, shall we?

We know that staying here past our bedtimes may seem entirely unappealing to the unseasoned outsider, but you can’t tell us that receiving 10 orders of scallion pancakes a night and the occasional ice cream cake in return for your efforts isn’t worth it. You just can’t.

No one quite knows how it happened, but we got through Grad unscathed. If anyone who’s not a Denebola veteran is reading this, we’re gonna do a little analogy, old school SAT-style. Grad is to Denebola as Wednesday is to the school week: the hump. Once you get through Grad you can do anything (though you still won’t be able to figure out what the status of the Book Review is). And now it’s time to brag a little. Not only were we unscathed, we made the biggest Grad issue in Denebola history. THE biggest (that’s what she said). And yes, Jesse, the front page did look better after you made their heads all the same size, we’ll admit it now.

The blackbird may sing in the dead of night, but he also came flying into 9202 one unassuming spring weekend paste-up when Mr. White decided to open the window. Sadly, only JSklar and JYoffe were here to see that go down, but we assure you our fearless advisor is fully capable of trapping a live, wild bird in a plastic bag.

We never used the phrase “SO THUG more than when we were copy-editing Fold, Feats wins for most cohesive section, and thanks to News for always being so prompt during Monday night send-ups (no, but we do love you guys. Seriously).

We laid pages to the rhythm of Alex’s persistent percussion and beatboxing, and Justin’s smile and BALLIN’ ad-getting were all we needed to de-stress ourselves in the midst of some classic Denebochaos, like the time the printer would only print in alien language (oh wait, it still does that. NICE!).

Now for the sappy part of our farewell (you knew it was coming, so no tears, please). The first time we had to stand up in front of the homeroom and yell at you guys to get ad$ was weird. We didn’t feel like your leaders; we were just some scrawny kids at South. But just like we grew up and learned how to run a paper, you guys grew up with us, learned how to make a paper.

We won’t lie. When we sat down to make the staff list last February, we had NO idea if this volume would work. What could we expect from a volume assembled primarily, and unnervingly, of first-timers? But what we found in this very same staff was a family. A weird, and really dysfunctional, but legitimate and loving family, too. We’ve definitely come a long way as a volume with regard to the paper, but also with regard to our relationships with one another.

We got to know each other so well that we could predict Tango Mango or Starbucks orders even before someone placed it and driving each other home in the middle of the night was practically expected. We knew whose phone was ringing from across the room based solely on ringtone.

So here’s to The Big Fifty coming up behind us. We’re not a track team (nor is Denebola a locker room), but we’re passing the baton. It’s been fun, but it’s time for us to go, so peace out, snitches. ILY, The SEs.

Oh, and never forget that Robbie’s soft spot is his velcro’€you will thank us for this tip later.

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V-Day B-day http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/02/10/v-day-b-day/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/02/10/v-day-b-day/#comments Wed, 10 Feb 2010 07:58:58 +0000 Julia Sklar http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3682 Grocery establishments really seem to enjoy kitschy holiday decorations. You name it, they’ll decorate for it. You know what I mean? Christmas, Halloween, Groundhog Day, doesn’t matter.

Those plastic streamers will cascade from the ceiling, Mylar balloons will hover above each checkout aisle, and cheery window decals will greet the parking lot with “C’mon, Punxsutawney Phil, you can do it! Valentine’s Day is also one of these lucky holidays, and as the Valentine baby that I am, in my naïve younger years I was absolutely certain that these decorations were in honor of my birthday, not some fat baby with a bow and arrow.

You have to understand, being a Valentine baby is exceptionally complicated, and the associations change from year to year. From preschool through to the end of elementary school I was essentially Queen of February Fourteenth’€that was back when we had Valentine’s Day parties in class, and not only were there cupcakes for my birthday, but there were all kinds of cookies and candy for Cupid, too.

For receiving Valentines, everyone else got a bag that blandly said, “Happy Valentine’s Day! but I always got one uniquely marked with “Happy Valentine Birthday, Julia! and I got to wear a crown. What more could a girl ask for?

Those were the years when the biggest problem facing me on my birthday was whether signing my first grade crush’s Valentine with “Love, Julia instead of just “’€Julia was too provocative, or whether the “J on my cupcakes should be pink or red.

Second grade was the only year I was threatened with dethroning. My regular teacher, out for maternity leave, was replaced with a staunch, tight-bunned, glasses-on-the-tip-of-her-nose substitute who cancelled our Valentine’s Day party and made me put my cupcakes back in my locker, where they remained for the rest of the day, uneaten. I still haven’t gotten over it.

Understandably, things kind of died down in middle school, with regard to the complications of my birthday. Middle school is like a wasteland of nothingness with a few specks of awkwardness thrown in here and there. We didn’t bask in the frivolities of icing covered, candy strewn Valentine’s Day parties anymore, deeming them too “childish.

But really, when are you ever too old for a candy heart with the words “Kiss Me imprinted on it? No one gave out Valentines anymore, and couples merely consisted of hand holding for a week before the tragic breakup of soul mates. At this age, my birthday is neither rewarded with sugar-filled parties nor challenged by friends in legitimate relationships.

This year, however, is different. February 14 is a triple threat: my birthday (most important aspect of the triad, obviously), Valentine’s Day, AND the Chinese New Year. Oh boy.

But it’s all good. When you tell people your birthday is on Valentine’s Day, they always give you an adoring smile and it makes my birthday not just any other day in the year.

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500 Days of Summer: Behind the scenes with the screenwriter http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/11/25/3143/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/11/25/3143/#comments Wed, 25 Nov 2009 08:00:13 +0000 Julia Sklar http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3143 What happens when you tell the story of a realistic romantic comedy out of chronological order with sweet tunes playing in the background and an intelligent, witty script running throughout?

500 Days of Summer is born; that’s what happens. First shown in the United States for wide release on August 7, this 2009 Sundance Film Festival convert became an instant hit as soon as it reached mainstream theatres, defying blockbuster norms with its unique, offbeat vibe. The movie self-proclaims that it is specifically not a love story–but a story about love–from the beginning, and as such, breaks the mould of the typical “boy meets girl plot (so guys, this is not a chick-flick).

I got a chance to conduct an email interview with screenwriter Scott Neustadter about his experience from start to finish with this cinematographic gem. And if you didn’t have a chance to see this movie while it was in theatres, I highly suggest you grab some popcorn, the DVD (when it’s released on December 22!), and your best friends. You won’t regret it.

JS: What was the original inspiration for this screenplay, and how has it morphed from the original, if it did?

SN: The original inspiration for the script was really twofold. First, I got dumped pretty good by this girl. As often happens, I spent a lot of time afterwards trying to figure out what went wrong, and while I was thinking about it I came up with the title 500 Days of Summer, with Summer being the name of the girl and 500 being the length of time of the relationship.

From there, I got the idea for the structure’€the jumping around in time, etc. Once I got that, I knew that I could write about this relationship in a way that might actually be interesting to other people, as opposed to just me, and my friends who were helping me get over this girl.

 

JS: How long did this movie take to make from the first conception of the idea to premiere day? What was the basic process? 

SN: It took more than a year to write, about six months for me to be confident enough to show it to people, another year for it to be optioned [when a producer gains the rights to a screenplay from the writer], and then 18 months after that to get made. The filming was done in 29 days so it was really the rest of it that took a long time. Truth is, in Hollywood terms, it actually happened pretty fast, all things considered.

 

JS: Was it always your goal for 500 Days of Summer to make it this far into mainstream theatres?

 
SN: When we [Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber] first wrote it, we didn’t think of it as a movie. We just wanted to write something we were proud of, and I wanted to stop thinking about that old girlfriend. It was a way to get it out of my system, really. At no point did we ever think other people would read it let alone make it into a movie. So the fact that it was in so many theatres, and liked by so many people, is really pretty shocking (and awesome!).

JS: Can you talk a little bit about your experience with The Sundance Film Festival?

SN: I went to Sundance [a prestigious independent film festival in Utah] with my entire family’€parents, sisters, aunts, uncles, it was really special. We had screened the movie for audiences twice before that, while we were still tweaking [it]. The audiences loved it so we were excited, but you still never know how it will be received by a paying audience (those first [two] audiences were test audiences who got in for free). The first time we showed it at Sundance the crowd went crazy and that was a pretty gratifying moment for all of us.

 

JS: What was the process of getting Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel on-board, and ultimately working with them, like? Were they set to play Tom and Summer from the beginning?

SN: Fox Searchlight, who were paying for the movie, would only make it if the right actors said “yes. Luckily for us Joe and Zooey said “yes and Searchlight said they would make it with them. A lot of the credit has to be given to our great director Marc [Webb] who everyone was very excited to make this with, and knew he would do a killer job with it.

 

JS: In terms of the writing process, what was the decision behind telling the story in an extremely unique chronological direction, and not following the conventional love story archetype? 

SN: My co-writer [Michael Weber] and I are movie fans. We love movies. And my favorite movies are always ones that take risks, and do things in an unconventional way. When we were writing this, though we weren’t thinking about getting it made, we were thinking about writing something we’d be proud of, writing something that we’d want to see. So it was natural that we would take some risks and try some unconventional things.

The chronology was the first idea I had’€I don’t think we would have written this as a screenplay otherwise. Almost every romantic movie made for the past decade seemed to be made from the concept up’€what is the crazy hilarious obstacle that will keep two people apart for 90 minutes’€and we didn’t want to do that. When I had the idea for the chronology, that became our “high concept. That was the thing that we felt might get someone to keep reading (I used to pitch [the movie] to people as “boy meets girl meets ‘Ëœmemento’).

 
The real reason [the characters don't end up together] is because we wanted to write something real and sincere. This was about a real relationship in the real world, told through someone’s memory (and warped through his pop culture-heavy brain). The real relationship didn’t end “happily, but I wanted it to end “hopefully. So we chose to do [the latter] instead and luckily they let us keep that in tact.

JS: How involved were you in the design of the actual filming? (i.e. the brilliant scene in which the viewer sees Summer’s party both from Tom’s real-life perspective, and wishful thinking perspective’€was that the director’s design, yours, both?)

SN: That was my idea (and thank you for liking it). Of course it’s a very easy thing to write (“reality does x, “expectations does y), but a very difficult thing to actually film. I could come up with the idea, and I could write it down, but you have to be really gifted to pull it off. [The director] Marc, and the crew, and the actors did a tremendous job executing the sequence, something I never would have been able to do. And it’s easily my favorite thing in the movie.

 

JS: What has it been like seeing such a positive response to a piece of your own work? 

SN: It’s nuts! Way beyond my wildest imagination.

 

JS: What is your favorite aspect of the final product of this movie (an entire scene, a single line, a song, etc.)?

SN: I’m really proud of a lot of things in the movie. And I have so many favorite aspects that go beyond the actual product itself. I love the film as a whole, I love the reality/expectations sequence, I love the dance number, I’m really proud of the last two scenes, I love the soundtrack, I love that we even got to have a soundtrack. But then, I also love the friends I made [while working] on the movie, all the amazing people who worked on it, the emails I’ve gotten from people who said it helped them get over a breakup.

I’ll tell you something else amazing. I just got engaged [¦], and I never would have met the girl were it not for writing this script. So there’s really no end to how many favorite things I have about this movie.

 

JS: What would be your best piece of advice to aspiring high school screenwriters?

 
SN: My advice is to read as much as you can. Good scripts, bad scripts, it doesn’t matter. You learn by osmosis, by loving something you read and realizing why it’s great, or by reading something terrible and learning what the writer did wrong. Watching movies is nice, but you won’t learn how to write unless you read everything you can get your hands on. That’s my two cents.

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The monitoring of library computers infringes on students’ right to privacy http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/11/25/the-monitoring-of-library-computers-infringes-on-students%e2%80%99-right-to-privacy/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/11/25/the-monitoring-of-library-computers-infringes-on-students%e2%80%99-right-to-privacy/#comments Wed, 25 Nov 2009 07:00:48 +0000 Julia Sklar http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3187 If you think that what you use the library computers for is solely between you and the computers, think again. No, the person sitting next to you is not slyly glancing over your shoulder, but, metaphorically speaking, the librarians are.

From their own computers, the librarians can view the activities of all other library desktops and can take action if a student’s computer activity is deemed inappropriate. At times, a mere warning will pop up on the screen, informing the student that if he or she does not cease using the computer inappropriately the screen will be locked.

Other times, this formality is skipped altogether and, without notification, the computer screen will suddenly go black.

Unsurprisingly, many students are unaware of this fixture to library etiquette here at South’€most likely due to the lack of openness about this policy. There already exist several notices posted on or near the computers, warning against excessive printing from teachers’ websites and Powerpoints, as well as disclaiming that printing from Sparknotes and similar sites costs a fee.

Why then, with these other policies clearly noted, does there remain no indication that librarians can view our computer screens at all times? Indignance at having a computer screen go inexplicably black might be lessened if it were expected. And as the divulging of South’s secret cameras in 2007 made clear, policies that bring student privacy into question must be openly expressed and made publicly known if they are to be tolerated.

Furthermore, there is no clear indication of what is, in fact, considered appropriate use of the library computers, nor is it clear whose judgment call this is. Generally, I have seen that the use of such websites as YouTube, Free Rice, and Gmail leads to screen locking, but despite their frivolous reputations, these sites are often accessed for educational purposes.

Many English classes use Free Rice’€a website that allows you to practice vocabulary, and, with every correctly defined word, donates rice to third world countries’€to learn new words at a rapid pace, and the students of these classes must access this website as part of nightly homework.

Gmail, and other email providers are constantly accessed for sending essays and other schoolwork between the home computer and the library. And lastly, there’s YouTube. I personally like to listen to music while I work, so when I’m at the library cranking out an essay, I leave YouTube open in the background so I can listen to music with my headphones’€but I’m still working on an essay.

It seems extreme to have a computer locked on these grounds, when the student’s intentions might have been reasonable. There are, undeniably, students who abuse the library computers, and it is without a doubt outstandingly frustrating when you want to be productive and peers have taken the computers to play games. But the misuse of some shouldn’t mean the constant surveillance of all.

It is true that simply because the librarians can constantly monitor our computer activity at all times doesn’t mean they are. But emails from many teachers and all guidance counselors include a confidentiality notice at the bottom, stating that the contents of the message are between the sender and recipient only. That being said, this library policy is dancing dangerously close to an invasion of privacy.

I agree that there needs to be a way to ensure that computers, which we have the privilege’€not the right’€to use are used responsibly. But I don’t feel that this policy of watching every terminal handles the problem appropriately.

At the very least, the monitoring policy should be common knowledge amongst the students; we have a right to know, at least, that the librarians are giving us no privacy while we use the computers.

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Fall Recipe: Pumpkins aren’t just for carving anymore http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/10/21/fall-recipe-pumpkins-aren%e2%80%99t-just-for-carving-anymore/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/10/21/fall-recipe-pumpkins-aren%e2%80%99t-just-for-carving-anymore/#comments Wed, 21 Oct 2009 06:10:02 +0000 Julia Sklar http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=2958 Who conceived the idea of putting squash in bread, I ask you? From afar, this gustatory combination seems unlikely, and downright unappealing; I assure you, though, that that is false. Pumpkin bread is, in fact, the godliest creation to ever grace this planet.

As a seasonal specialty, however, it only comes around once a year if you are not baking it from scratch in the comfort of your own kitchen.

Most of you probablyly only make the association to pumpkin bread based on your run-ins with it at Starbucks in the brisk fall months (in case you’re wondering, they have finally brought it back for this season. Yes! September Starbucks runs were just not as much fun without it). I mean, when Starbucks takes it to the next level by sprinkling pistachio nuts across the top, how could you resist?

But at ten billion Calories and nearly two dollars a piece, despite it’s deliciousness, is it really worth it? Probably not. Pete’s, in Newton Centre, also sells pumpkin bread (all year round, beat that, Starbucks!), but again, it’s a severe waste of money.

I propose a revolutionary option to solve this problem: make it on your own! I promise you it’s not that hard¦I’ll even hold your hand while you do it if you need the moral support (no I won’t). But in all seriousness, for those of you who scrunch up your nose at the idea of cooking or baking anything, pumpkin bread is the best place to start!

Pumpkin bread is the best, it’s adorably seasonal and New Englandy, you’ll be proud that you accomplished baking something properly, and you can even use it to suck up to a teacher whose bad side your on this term.

Now, I am about to bestow upon you a truly priceless gift. Visa should make a commercial about this. Here is the pumpkin bread recipe that I always use. Treat it well:

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup pumpkin purée*
1/2 cup olive oil
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

* To make pumpkin purée, cut a pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff, lie face down on a foil or Silpat lined baking sheet. Bake at 350°F until soft, about 45 minutes to an hour. Cool, scoop out the flesh.

Freeze whatever you don’t need for future use. Or, if you are working with pumpkin pieces, roast or boil them until tender, then remove and discard the skin.

METHOD

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Sift together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda.

2. Mix the pumpkin, oil, eggs, 1/4 cup of water, and spices together, then combine with the dry ingredients, but do not mix too thoroughly. Stir in the nuts.

3. Pour into a well-buttered 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Bake 50-60 minutes until a thin skewer poked in the very center of the loaf comes out clean. Turn out of the pan and let cool on a rack.

Now, for all you pumpkin haters out there, even you cannot stand up to the greatness of this bread; it will knock you down.
Pumpkin bread is the only pumpkin related food I enjoy, the rest I find kind of vile. In fact, during pi day in middle school one of my friends won a contest by reciting the first 100 digits of pi correctly and was rewarded with a “pumpkin pi. I tried it. I hated it.

But, pumpkin bread will forever have a place in my heart, and I hope that it now has one in your heart, too.

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Looking for a sweet treat? Freeze dishes out satisfaction http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/05/13/looking-for-a-sweet-treat-freeze-dishes-out-satisfaction/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/05/13/looking-for-a-sweet-treat-freeze-dishes-out-satisfaction/#comments Wed, 13 May 2009 17:58:53 +0000 Julia Sklar http://www.sandbox.denebolaonline.net/?p=2365 Freeze! Everybody clap your hands¦and welcome Freeze, Newton’s newest addition to the extensive array of ice cream shops around town. Strategically located nowhere near the feuding J.P. Licks and Coldstone Creamery, Freeze is tucked away across the parking lot from the Waban T-stop, and behind the Waban Square Starbucks.
You’ll be able to find it instantly’€if not for the word “Freeze plastered across the awning than because of the ridiculously bright color scheme of the store (it’s neon galore).

Freeze opened its doors on Friday, May 1 just in time for the beginning of consistently hot days (as opposed to those random spurts of 50 degree weather that we had back in January), and also in time for the finals-induced ice cream frenzy that tends to ensue here at Newton South this time of year.

For weeks, South students have been abuzz with the news of this new ice cream store, making plans to skip out during their free blocks to go give it a try, or to drive on over as soon as APs were done to celebrate.
I finally got a chance to give it a try myself sometime last week, and let me tell you, it’s worth it.

With ice cream flavors on the menu ranging anywhere from red raspberry to mint chip to ginger they don’t offer nearly as many flavors as, say, Cabot’s, but they definitely run the gamut of usual favorites and some new ones’€and the best part is, they’re all homemade.

Of the flavors I was able to sample (chocolate, red raspberry, mint chip, cookie dough, coffee, Oreo, and maple butter walnut) I would definitely put maple butter walnut near the top of the list, if not first.
It was rich and creamy like all good ice cream should be, but it also had the perfect nut to ice cream ratio. Not so many nuts that every spoonful was a crunchy disaster, but not so few that you felt as if you were playing where’s Waldo with your walnuts.

As for red raspberry, I’m not a big fan of raspberries and even I could’ve eaten a whole bowl of it.
The cookie dough and mint chip, just like the maple butter walnut, were perfect in their amounts of dough and chips, respectively.

Notably, the Oreo was extremely satisfactory, presenting itself with intact Oreo cookie chunks mixed in to the vanilla ice cream as opposed to the grey mush that usually comes of mixing brown cookies with white ice cream.
Obviously chocolate and vanilla were on the menu, but there was nothing too extraordinary or insulting about either of them (although I would have been extremely worried had I walked in to find neither of these flavors present).

The one thing every flavor had in common though was the incredibly strong taste.

The coffee ice cream could wake up even the deepest sleeper in the morning, and the maple butter walnut actually tasted like it had a direct line to a maple tap running through it.

The only way in which Freeze falls short is with its prices. You thought J.P. Licks was expensive? Well, at Freeze a small is $3.45 and you get two scoops about the size of ping-pong balls. This assessment must be taken with a grain of salt, however, because not everyone who has gone there has had this experience, so maybe it was just a bad scooping day.

In addition to their rich and flavorful homemade ice cream, Freeze is also home to frappes (milkshakes by non-New England standards), ice cream sodas, and sundaes.

If ice cream isn’t your preferred choice of cold dessert, Freeze also dishes up frozen yogurts such as chocolate almond or chocolate chip, as well as Italian ices in outrageous “flavors like rainbow, which has a lemony taste.
So, if you’re in the neighborhood and you find yourself in the mood for ice cream, stop by at Freeze in Waban Square to cool yourself down and enjoy the fun atmosphere, the friendly employees, and of course the delicious ice cream’€and if those are not enough incentive, then let it be known that they have free dog treats if you’re walking by with a furry friend.

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Fashion trends evoke political and historical messages http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/12/17/fashion-trends-evoke-political-and-historical-messages/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/12/17/fashion-trends-evoke-political-and-historical-messages/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2008 07:00:58 +0000 Julia Sklar http://denebolaonline.net/denebola/?p=551 In the halls, in the classrooms, in the library, there are South students following the latest fashion trends without knowing what their clothes represent. It’s probably fair to say that nobody ever informed them of the implications of their clothing, so they kept wearing what was “in, but then again, the internet is zooming past us all at warp speed 24/7, so how hard could it be to find out?

Not very hard, I’ll tell you. After all, I, who seldom use the internet for anything outside of Facebook, stumbled across the interesting origins of keffiyeh scarves and low pants all on my own.

Keffiyeh scarves are undeniably the “it scarf right now. Go poke your head into the hall right now, and I guarantee you’ll see someone wearing one. For those of you scratching you heads in confusion right now, a keffiyeh is a large, square-shaped piece of fabric with knotted fringes around the perimeter and a pattern reminiscent of checkers or plaid running throughout the cloth; they usually come in white/black and red/black. Wearers of the scarf tend to fold the cloth into a triangle and tie it bandana-like with the “triangle in front.

This pattern on the cloth is derived from the headdresses that Bedouin tribesmen would wear when passing through the desert in order to shield their face, eyes, and hair from the hot sand.

In the 1930s, however, this traditionally Middle Eastern accessory was no longer used for functionality, but was instead adapted as a sign of Palestinian nationalism and the idea that Israel should not exist. In the 1960s, it was popularized as more than traditional garb by Palestinian National Authority president, Yasser Arafat.

Arafat was rarely seen without one covering his head, and as he had a major influence on the Palestinian people, the trend took off from there.

Eventually the scarves made their way west to America where they have become so ubiquitous that stores like Urban Outfitters and Delia’s picked them up, and bands such as Vampire Weekend mentioned them in their lyrics.

Both stores, along with many others, began to sell them in colors other than simple black, white, and red, relabeling them as “Peace Scarves or “Anti-War Scarves blatantly trying to mask their origins to promote sales.

Nonetheless, there was a huge public outcry as many people discovered their true identity and what they symbolized in the modern world, and both Urban Outfitters and Delia’s pulled their lines.

Another public outcry occurred regarding this seemingly simple accessory when Food Network star Rachael Ray  filmed a Dunkin’ Donuts commercial while sporting one. As with Urban Outfitters and Delia’s, Dunkin’ Donuts pulled the commercial.

By all means keep wearing them because you think they’re pretty, because all your friends are wearing them, or because they sell them at your favorite store, but just be aware of the message you evoke when you wear one.

On a lighter, less controversial note are the origins of wearing one’s pants down below the waist. It is a little surprising to find out that this isn’t just some random fad, but that it actually stems from fairly recent historical events.

During the late 1970s and 1980s, in many cities across the country, but particularly in Boston, there were frequent race riots that unfairly targeted African Americans. There were particular neighborhoods that were hurt by these riots more than others, and the result was that men in particular were incarcerated for unjustified reasons.

As the families would come to visit their fathers, brothers, sons, etc. in jail they had to relinquish their belts to the prison guards for the duration of the visit so that they could not be passed on to the prisoners for use as nooses or weapons, but it was also to humiliate the visitors as well; as a result of not wearing a belt their pants would drop down to below their waists.

In the neighborhoods with particularly high concentrations of jailed members many individuals from the community began to wear their pants low without a belt as a way to show their solidarity and support for the families with temporarily missing members. It was also to serve as a “screw you to the institution that was jailing their loved ones.

Now many high schoolers across the country, including many kids at South, wear their pants like this. It is no longer a symbol of solidarity so much as a popular expression of fashion. As with many things, as generations progress, the younger members no longer have any connection to the original cause of a certain fashion.

Both of these trends, the keffiyeh scarves and low-riding pants, have very interesting origins that are primarily unknown to the audiences they target. Now that you know, maybe you’ll have something to think about before picking out your clothes in the morning.

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I like Camp! http://www.denebolaonline.net/2007/09/23/i-like-camp/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2007/09/23/i-like-camp/#comments Mon, 24 Sep 2007 07:25:00 +0000 Julia Sklar http://denebolaonline.net/wordpress/?p=54 Middle school is a place teeming with self-conscious adolescents. A time when it is impossible for many students to be who they are because no one really knows what that means yet. When these same people get to high school, some level of uncertainty remains, but it is eventually replaced with a new found confidence.

It is not, however, a hop, skip, and a jump from one situation to the other. Students don’t just walk into Newton South and magically transform. There must be a connecting piece, an in between, some place to grow.

For me that place was overnight camp. Every summer since I was 13, I have gone “home” for four weeks. Yes, my home that I know, the one with the legal address, is located in Newton Centre, but my other home is located at Camp Med-O-Lark. Med-O-Lark is located in the tiniest town I’ve ever visited, where the residences of the entire population fit around one four mile long lake. Yet it has had the largest and most lasting effect on me than any other place I’ve ever been.

I felt brave going into my first day of camp with complete strangers. I got to my cabin early that day. There was only one other girl in it, and we instantly bonded over the enormous stacks of books we had both brought to camp. Soon, the buses arrived and all 300 of the camp’s second session residents filled the atmosphere. When the other girls in my cabin arrived and found out I was new, they bore ear-to-ear smiles. I was immediately surrounded in a claustrophobic but overtly loving circle. They showed me the ropes and gave me encouraging smiles reassuring that I would have a blast at camp.

I did have a blast. No wait, not just a blast, but an indescribably blissful experience.

I remain best friends with every girl who surrounded me that day, including a girl I had once known but considered my “mortal enemy.” That’s what Med-O-Lark can do: turn enemies into best friends, and best friends into family.

I can’t speak for every camp, but I know at my camp no one is judgmental in the least. In fact, the absence of judgment at Med-O-Lark is almost surreal. My friends have seen me at my highest and lowest, and I can say the same for them. We’ve seen each other wear radiant smiles, cry hopelessly over homesickness, complain after not showering for three days, and conversely look beautiful and crazy for the uniquely-themed senior dances.

Even after all these things, my camp friends are people who love genuinely and unconditionally no matter what the circumstances.

Med-O-Lark has something else up its sleeve to offer besides a second family; it gives its campers an invaluable and indispensable gift: confidence.

Med-O-Lark’s artsy, hippie, “be who you want to be” vibe showed me that it didn’t matter what brand of clothes I wear, what music I am enjoy, what books I read, or who I hang out with. Med-O-Lark taught me that the only thing that matters is if I am happy, and if I am, then I will be able to find like-minded people.

This is about when I usually tell the rain boot anecdote, so here it goes. I went to Filene’s Basement one afternoon in the fall of eighth grade before my second summer at Med-O-Lark, not out of necessity, but out of my sheer desire for new things. I passed a rack of colorfully ordained knee-high rain boots.

At first, I gave them no notice. As a humble eighth grader, I was not the type of person who would wear something that flashy. Then I realized that they would be perfect for rainy days at Med-O-Lark! Little did I know that the ensuing summer, a camp wide mud fight would break out in a puddle that encompassed the entire field and a kayak, and these rain boots would come in handy.

I purchased my choice of blue, pink, and brown striped Wellington rain boots with the coming summer at Med-O-Lark in mind.

One day a few weeks after my second summer at camp, it was raining “cats and dogs” and in a sudden fit of Med-O-Lark-style confidence, I decided to wear my crazy boots to school.

When the bus left the stop, I panicked. What was I thinking? I couldn’t wear these to school! At Med-O-Lark I was different, bolder, and more out going, but at school I was the typical, bland eighth grader, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to show my Med-O-Lark inspired colors at school. But life would have it that whether I wanted to or not, I was wearing those boots to school.

It just so happened that I got a lot of “Hey! Awesome boots!” from teachers and students alike that day. While wearing rain boots to school may not seem like a huge deal, I am positive that in wearing those boots I realized that it wasn’t only okay to be confident at Med-O-Lark, it was okay to be confident all of the time.

Of course I admit that as a high school student, I still have my days where my confidence doesn’t shine as much as I want it to. If I had not been to Med-O-Lark, however, my confidence wouldn’t shine at all.

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