Xenia Rubinos is a Brooklyn-based musician who released her second album, Black Terry Cat, last year. The album received overwhelmingly positive reviews, such as and 8.0/10 rating from respected music publication Pitchfork.
I was recently lucky enough to be able to sit down with her for an interview before her show on March 6 at Kings in Raleigh.
The interview started with a discussion about her new album, which was quite commonly revered as a political work about the struggles of minorities in the United States.
“I am talking about my personal experience,” said Rubinos. “I’m making some reflections on societal things; income inequality, the experience of being a person of color in America, being a woman, image issues.”
“I think that perhaps since there are maybe fewer people who look like me or have my background that are given a chance to tell their story then people call my story political.”
Rubinos later talked about the problems that arise with music’s need for definition.
“That’s intrinsic when talking about music,” said Rubinos. “You’re going to be put into categories and boxes.”
“Our identities are more complex than one box that you can check off. That’s why those categories are challenging.”
Rubinos said that she wanted to move in a more specific and personal direction with this album, a move that she thinks helped people connect with her music.
The news media would not be what it is today without profiles and features. As America’s Best points out, these stories were originally intended to increase circulation of newspapers.
They are in some ways both constant and changing styles of writing, with human interest turning from outlet to outlet on a regular basis but never straying too far from the fundamentals of an emotional human story. But change has undoubtedly rocked the foundations of profile and feature writing since its inception. The pure format itself is less popular than it was in the past, but pieces of it are adapted regularly in beat and even hard news reporting. For example, it has become commonplace to humanize politicians that formerly would have been quotes on a page.
There is certainly some merit to this approach, as the press should not only be a narrow understanding of political affairs, but also a way to make them informational and interesting. It helps to get the people informed.
Dr. Seuss: Wild Orchestrator of Plausible Nonsense for Kids
By Cynthia Gorney
Gorney does well in this profile of the venerable author to characterize him as not only the creator of his brand of wit, but also someone who lives in it. She ensures that there is a Seuss-like curiosity that appears wherever his work takes him in the world. Just as importantly, she also is sure to convey his perfectionism and how that ties him to his father, which allows him to maintain his character while also making him distinctly relatable to the average American adult. He is fun-loving and hard-working, comedic and very serious. Even the title belies this balance: Wild is equated with Orchestrator and Plausible is equated with Nonsense.
Koch Grabs Big Apple and Shakes It
By Saul Pett
It’s no mystery after reading this story Ed Koch was a contentious mayor. Pett never lets an assertion go by without an anecdote featuring the mayor to back it up. What results is a mixed bag of a character, which is just what Pett wanted.
His Dreams Belong to the Next Generation/An Old Flame Still Burns After 50 Years
By Diana Griego Erwin
Erwin, in two relatively short pieces, makes the reader think that they are not reading the news. These stories are teeming with little details that slow them down and make them tick. This shows the value of persistent note taking while reporting in the field. It is necessary to write a compelling feature on a person. The reader sees themself in the details.
For Lerro, Skyway Nightmare Never Ends
Finkel uses extensive setting description that goes hand in hand with the character of the story. For example, Lerro talks about living like an animal and Finkel backs it up with a dreary description of Lerro’s regular surroundings. Finkel also does well to describe the success of Lerro’s past and using that as not only an emotional device but also one that brings us into the present moment. Although it certainly is not a cheery story, it is very powerful.
This story is interesting because it ties three very different things together and makes it interesting and cohesive as a piece. Mingus and chicken act as themes that tie the ends of the story together. They provide an arc that the reader can follow and be interested in.
Shattock has the advantage of a fascinating story here. Most people could never imagine someone with a disease as degenerative as ALS directing a film and Shattock likely realized that in choosing this story. Her interviews with Fitzmaurice about the day to day difficulties of directing with ALS and how he overcomes those difficulties are excellent bits of detail – they show us how he fights adversity, something we all relate to.
He knows that it sounds like a non-story, like something you would scroll right past, but he has quite a lot to tell.
Beiser is a freelance journalist, which has helped him in the development of this story.
Throughout his discussion with a group of Elon journalism students on the morning of Monday, February 7, Beiser talked several times about pulling on the string of a story and finding much more than you thought you would.
“Sand is actually the most important solid substance in the world,” said Beiser, “it’s the literal foundation of modern civilization.”
For all that Beiser has to say about sand, there are lessons that journalism students can take home. When he talks at length about what is made of sand, we learn the importance of good beginning research. When he talks about the people who have died over sand, we learn the necessity of human stories. When he talks about the story’s ties to environmentalism, to technology and to business, we learn about connecting your story to many interests.
Beiser also took time after his presentation to address students’ questions about journalism directly.
“This goes for any journalist, you should always just be looking for stories everywhere all the time,” said Beiser, “but me in particular, I do a lot of international stuff. I like to travel and I’m interested in international issues so I just read a lot. I try to read a lot of off the beaten path publications and international press and I just stumbled across this story about the sand mafia in India.”
“Know that it’s tough,” he said. “I’m sure you guys are really well aware that the whole industry is in tough times. Nobody knows what’s gonna happen. It is not an easy way to make a living.”
“But it is great,” continued Beiser. “It is really fun when it’s going good. I mean, it’s the most fun, it’s the most excitement, it’s the most interesting job you can really have.”
Beiser was brought to the school though the Pulitzer Center. You can find his articles on sand for Wired here and for The Guardian here. He is currently working on a book continuing his findings for Penguin-Random House Books.
His website and contact information can be found here.
Peter Rogen, acclaimed Rumi interpreter, gave performative readings of 13th century mystic poet Rumi to an audience of students, faculty and staff on in LaRose Digital Theater Friday evening.
Rogen was joined by musicians Amir Vehab, Yvette Gogass and Gail Niziak.
According to Jane Ciabattari of BBC, Rumi is the bestselling poet in the U.S. This level of popularity in contemporary book sales points to the poet’s universal appeal.
Elon got a slice of that universal appeal Friday night.
The evening consisted of Rogen performing poems, Vehab, Gogass and Niziak performing music and even a little dancing.
At one point, Rogen discussed the social relationships of mystics.
“We’d do this all night,” said Rogen. “Singing, poetry, silence.”
“No one knows what they’re going to sing next or which poem verses they’re going to recite.”
Vehab taught the audience a little bit about the instruments used.
“What’s interesting about the instrument we chose tonight is that these are the authentic instruments,” said Vehab, “not only of the time that Rumi lived and existed and interacted with people…but also these are from that region.”
At the end of the evening, audience members were invited to come to the front of the Theater and dance to the music being performed, as mystics would do.
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Maddy Gross is, in some ways, your average Elon student. As a cinema student, she is regularly busy with class and extracurricular work, serving as head writer for the ETV sketch comedy show Elon Tonight.
Gross also spends her time working on and performing her stand-up comedy routine. She has been doing stand up for eight months now and has worked her way into the local community.
Gross’s next comedy show is this Saturday, February 25 and it is a big one. She has taken it upon herself to organize, host and perform in a show on Elon’s campus that will benefit the American Civil Liberties Union.
“I went to a benefit for Handicap International over fake break,” said Gross. “It was in a community center room, like not a real stage, but they had really really talented comedians and they raised something over $1,000. There weren’t even that many people because it was a small community center room and I was like ‘Okay, there’s people at Elon who have money, we can make this work!'”
“At first, I was thinking about doing it for Handicap International,” said Gross, “but then the Muslim ban happened and ever since that it was like ‘Alright, no question, here’s what we’re doing.'”
“I figured it’s one thing to support organizations that will speak out against it, but this is an organization, among other organizations too, that is doing something tangible,” said Gross.
“That’s the hardest thing to fight, I think, when you have the law on your side.”
Gross also mentioned that she like ACLU’s name recognition as a draw.
Gross paraphrased Martin Neimöller’s poem “First they came…” as another part of her inspiration and a reason why Elon students should attend.
“You definitely have to consider that,” said Gross. “You don’t know when it’s gonna be some part of your identity that’s on the line.”
The Elon Stands Up ACLU Benefit will be held at 8 p.m. in McKinnon Hall. Cover charge is $5. The line-up is Hannah Benson, Mikey Gibley, Spencer Hodges, Ryan O’Rourke and Maddy Gross.
Business reporting is important to people beyond just the world of business. It has a common importance in that it deals with normal people living out normal lives that are affected by the work that they do. It also has a common interest in this way – work is what many of us build our lives around, so it is interesting to us to hear the stories of other’s work. Oftentimes, those stories get at their humanity.
The Life of a Cowboy: Drudgery and Danger
By William E. Blundell
Blundel’s study on the business cowboys is so interesting that the business is almost lost within the humanity of it. It is almost a full-blown profile of Jim Miller, one of this country’s last remaining cowbosses. Only occasionally does it get into the failing business side of the cattle industry and even then, the effect of that portion is most felt on the character of Miller. This connection is in many ways what drives the story to effectiveness, because it gives the audience a human prism to see the figures through.
Making it Fly: Designing the 757
By Peter Rinearson
An airplane is a thing that many of us fear. It is a thing that instills anxieties about freak accidents and heightens worries of bad weather. And for all the anxiety that airplanes cause, it is a wonder that more of us don’t research them more – that is, until you read Rinearson’s in-depth feature on them. At points, Rinearson’s writing sends your head spinning with the difficulties of compromise. At others, he turns the door of the Boeing 757 into a stubborn character or a simple cork. The end result is what feels like a thorough understanding of the complexities involved in crafting one of these machines, matched with a much more thorough understanding that it is too complex to ever comprehend. Perhaps Boeing is best left to their devices and our faith is best left in them.
Property Tax Exemptions: Legal but Terribly Unfair
By Michael Gartner
As a rule, people don’t like talking about taxes. They are usually either terribly boring or something to dread. Gartner knows this, so he takes taxes and turns them into something worth rallying over. He appeals to another modern human emotion – resentment towards the big guy. The big guy in this case is just anyone getting away with the tax exemption described. He makes sure the readers understand how unfair it is by repeating and elaborating on his points several times.
Davenport does well to provide quotes from both sides of this issue. This gives the reader an in-depth analysis of the situation in a short amount of time. What’s more, because of the nature of this story, it is naturally interesting to give the two sides. The fact that they are so at odds really helps push this past the business side.
This is a good example of a business article because it is talking about a subject that normally resides within pop culture, but connects it to the business world. This is a story that catches the eye of potentially millions of millennial – just look at PewDiePie’s YouTube subscriber account. In this way, it’s almost clever deception. People who see this article and click on it out of interest might end up learning a thing or two about advertising principles.
Forsyth uses the emotional ties that people feel for animals, particularly endangered ones, to make this an article worth reading. By the end of it, the reader has a basic understanding of the issue. Forsyth also does well to set the scene of the habitat concerned with descriptive language and pictures.
“Elon Day started in 2014, we launched it in conjunction with our 125th anniversary,” said Rivas. “It was a day for us to come together and basically celebrate our pride in Elon and also to celebrate philanthropy. We wanted to make it known in the community the importance of making gifts to the University to support our programs.”
“The most we have raised was last year,” said Rivas, “we raised more than $955,000.”
Jennifer Boozer, assistant director of regional alumni engagement, talked about some Elon Day details.
“Elon Day is a partnership between a lot of different offices on campus;” said Boozer, “Student Life puts on several events, Communications is really involved in putting out publicity, but it most prominently is coming out of the Advancement Division, and specifically Alumni Engagement.”
“We are hosting 38 events nationwide – Elon Day Parties – in the evening on Elon Day for out alumni chapters to have a chance to participate where they live,” said Boozer.
Carly Dagit, Elon first year, has not yet celebrated Elon Day.
“I actually haven’t heard anything about it,” said Dagit.
Elon Day is taking place on March 7, 2017. There will be a large College Coffee event.