That time to be a slut.

“Yeah, it’s Halloween, which means girls can dress slutty without seeming too slutty”, a girl once said.
–“Well, then you’re making it seem like all girls want to dress slutty and on Halloween, they seize that opportunity”.

Hmm….What happened to the days where Halloween was about dressing up as your favorite Disney character and getting lots of candy from your friendly neighborhood parents?  For us college students, is this what the time-honored tradition of disguises and spooky treats have become– an occasion for debauchery, drinking, and gluttony?  Is this what everything becomes in college?

I would have to say that the statement about women and slutty clothing does seem to apply for a fair number of females in the university setting.  It, of course, does not help that most adult female costumes tend to be on the sexier side, with high-slit witches gowns, low-cut bar maid tops, extremely short and skimpy French maid outfits, and slinky Cruelle de Vil dresses.  What about our culture today generates this desire for women to become sexy whores on an occasion when they can be anything but?  When they can step outside the bounds of our heavily sexualized and sex-dependent mass culture to become an entity entirely removed from mediated societal norms?  Is this continuation of the push for sexy women ever going to stop?  Is it right?

The answer is that the sexualized women is not always right.  Of course, women have come such a long way in political as well as personal liberation, allowing for the open discussion and acceptance of sex and the sexualized female.  However, once that liberation becomes a means of exploitation, then that is where the line must be drawn.  And, I believe, on Halloween, this exploitation is more evident than ever.  It is true that as women, the choice always exists– we can be that fairy tale princess or we can be that half-naked Minnie Mouse.

For this Halloween, my friends and I decided to forgo the sluttiness this year and become Disney princesses.  With a party themed as the classic Disney Romances, we had friends who dressed as raggedy Cinderella, shy Christopher Robins, Giselle from Enchanted, Alice in Wonderland, bookworm Belle from Beauty & the Beast.  It was a nice change to see people fully clothed and having fun without the desire to seem as sexy or seductive, but merely cute and enchantinng.

That’s not to say that it’s a bad thing to be sexy or seductive.  I fully agree that women should always feel comfortable being sexy and seductive, that we have every right to be open about sex and sexuality.  But, perhaps, on Halloween, we can get away from the normal societal claims of the overly sexualized woman to return back to our childhood dreams of being Disney princesses*.

*It is acknowledged that Disney princesses are not always the ideal; this is another topic for another time.


Gabby Park likes to eat and make short videos with her friends.

On unconventional art

They told me that the truth of the universe was inscribed into our very bones. That the human skeleton was itself a hieroglyph.
— ‘Something to Remember Me By’ from Collected Stories, Saul Bellow

Generally, when my roommate and I find a breath of a space between the obligations of academia, we declare that we must experience a wider, bolder swath of life — a swath of life beyond the innocuous margins of the text, the pedantic erudition and the giant, intellectual abstractions digestible only in quiet rooms steeped with the aroma of books. In these moments of vast aspiration, we have been known to turn to art — to experiencing this genre of life on our own terms under no overarching formalities or fine, symmetrical theories.

On most days we are terribly conventional pair, opting for UMMA or the DIA to set up our inevitable encounter with a masterpiece of leviathan proportions. Under the shadow of this work of art we would stand, humbled and bemused by its catastrophic beauty, yet unable to intelligently articulate why we felt the way we did. It might’ve been the subtle variations of color, the bluntness of the visual narrative or something more intuitive, like our individual capacity to identify with it that made it so poignant and remarkable. Regardless, our aesthetic senses were piqued. Our goal achieved, we would meander back home to tend to our books.

Traditionally speaking, art grasped our attention in the context of a museum, under soft bright lighting, backdropped with wide expanses of benevolently-hued walls. An air of legitimacy bound the place together.  Yet, perhaps the most ruthless art, the art that had stricken me and had made me feel that terrifying unshakeable vulnerability in the depths of the marrow, occurred most peculiarly in my physics class.

The subject in question was the human body.

Time and time again, I am enthralled by Nature’s wit, manifesting in tasteful, charming creations in every taxonomic branch of life; I am rendered utterly incapable of verbalizing its sheer grandeur. Oftentimes, I don’t think we truly appreciate how miraculous our bodies really are and how come a century or two, the frontier of science will hardly come close to imitating every complexity of our human anatomy. On the most basic, structural level, we are composed of a series of levers and wedges and joints which collectively, so to speak, cheat the inexorable downward pull of gravity. I lift my arm and my mind can only hope to understand the mechanisms that have just transpired beneath this opaque coating, the sliding and pulling and pushing of tendons, exerting a perpendicular force with the radial length of our forearms. And something so plain like hands – these sculpted specimens of extension have created and destroyed and pantomimed across tables and surfaces for centuries. Musicians, with their combination of crisply abrupt tips and taps of fingers on taut strings, of fingers alighting on piano keys to produce a swell of seamlessly strung chords, can give thanks to every delicate and carefully placed sinew, tendon entwined on bone. Further, our ears are capable of capturing these ghostly waves of sounds traveling at amplitudes and frequencies, ethereal and impalpable, yet absolute. (If only I understood what sound looked like inside myself.) One cell proliferates so our growth accelerates, pieces all compiling together to create exquisitely contoured masses constituting as life. What a daunting endeavor Nature has taken, refining era after era, for all these laws come together and combine to culminate in a fully functioning human being. (And here we are, suspended in this strange position as observers and corporeal manifestations of these laws. It is an innately human conundrum exclusive to our species.)

Nature’s ingenuity is perhaps the best coalescence of science and art that I have encountered. It is an art that reaches a degree of personal relevance beyond what can be found in traditional museums. Needless to say, my roommate and I are thrilled about the Arts & Bodies focus by the Arts on Earth program happening this semester and will be traipsing around campus to attend the various events.

The art of nature – and the art of bodies makes me certain that science is the artist that I revere and am enthralled by the most.

Sue majors in Neuroscience & English and tends to lurk in bookstores.

The Art of Balance…

The Art of Balance…

The other night my roommates and I were talking about the role of food in our lives.  To say the leas,  we titled it as the leading actor.  Now, to give you some context, none of my roommates or myself is fat, but we do enjoy eating.  We noticed trends of binge eating, which tend to occur around stressful periods such as midterms and finals.  What is it about the comfort of food that seems to fill that ‘void’ in our tummies?  The urges that make us want more even when our jeans won’t allow it?  Ah, yes it’s a little thing I like to call the inability of self-control.

Food is a comfort.  It acts as a best friend, a stuffed animal, a lover…but like any of these, overuse leads to destruction.  Life is all about balance.  In college you do not want to find yourself labeled strictly as a partier, nerd, or slacker; but hopefully a mixture of all three..thus a balancing act.  Eating is no different.  You need to make sure you intake fruits, vegetables, carbs, meats, and sweets all in moderation in order to succeed in a well balanced diet.  My Dad always says, “Everything in moderation is a good thing.”  I agree because it gives you the right to indulge!  (In moderation of course)

Just remember back to the 90’s when the food pyramid was the iconographic symbol of the decade.  The thing was popping up everywhere, in grocery stores, on purses and on cooking accoutrement such as aprons.  Ah yes, the food pyramid was the pioneer for labeling possessions, the precursor and grand poo-bah for modern Andy Warholits who think they are oh so original.

The food pyramid has taken a back seat and has allowed dietary nuances to sprout in its place.  Through American discourse about food, they feel like they can alter its dominant presence.  In actuality it is the obsession with the discussion that leads to more overeating. Our society is obsessed with eating, and it shows through obesity.

As you go through this next week count the number of times the topic of food is brought up.  I assure you, you will loose count due to its frequent occurrence.  Try balancing the amount of time you talk about food with other comforts, like love lives, wicked professors, or lazy landlords, and just maybe, you will see those pounds fade away.

Good Luck!

Sara Olds majors in Art History and enjoys long walks.

“I’ve Got a Crush on a YouTube Star”

It happened a few days ago and it was utterly magical. I was sitting at my desk underneath a warm sky of flickering Christmas lights (a dorm necessity!). Every so often, the heater next to me would loudly croak, letting out soft puffs of air which tickled my nearby toes. Both hands cradled my face as I tried to make sense of reaction mechanisms. In an attempt to keep myself awake and focused I had decided a little bit of Taylor Swift would do the trick (don’t judge- you know you love her too). It unfortunately didn’t, as I still managed to doze off a half a dozen times. I finally gave up and felt completely defeated by the fact that organic chemistry was still a mystery to me. Hopeless and tired I went to shut my computer off and that’s when I saw him. His tiny face was smiling back at me from below the related videos section. Curious as I was, I clicked on the link. That’s when I fell in love.

His name is Gabe Bondoc and he is ridiculously talented (did I also mention ridiculously adorable-check out his kick ass glasses!). Most wannabe singers on YouTube belt out covers of the latest top 40 single with a downloaded instrumental in the background. Gabe doesn’t (that’s right- I’m on first name basis… at least in my head I am…). He accompanies himself on every song with his guitar (occasionally with a ukulele) and sometimes creates unique versions of the songs he covers by using his own lyrics (listen to his cover of “Love Story” to see what I mean). Part John Mayer (the talented guitarist and musician, not the self-obsessed tool) and part John Legend, Gabe is a breath of fresh air in the usually tired realm of YouTube covers. Plus, those of you who have a musical taste as eclectic as mine (my iPod playlist has stuff ranging from Ravi Shankar to Ray J) will definitely find something to your liking in Gabe’s collection of covers. My personal favorites have to be his cover of “The Way You Look Tonight,” “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room,” “So Fly,” and ”Part of Your World.” He even manages to make the music of the Jonas Brothers sound soulful! If you get through all of his amazing covers, be sure to check out his original songs (Listen to his song Dorm Room and try not to hum along). In addition to having a great voice, Gabe can most definitely write. His originals have the melodic temperament and lyrical intelligence that can be best described as a hybrid of Jason Mraz and Colbie Callait. Plus, on a completely unrelated side note, EVERY video is done in ONE TAKE- how can you not be impressed?!

Gabe Bondoc is truly a fantastic artist and is one of the few YouTube cover artists that has the potential to have a successful professional music career. If you become as obsessed with Gabe as I am be sure to check out his Myspace (, Tumblr (, or Twitter ( Let me know what you think of this “Youtube Star” (which by the way is the title of one of his originals) in the comments sections below. Enjoy and have a great week!

P.S. Dear Gabe- in the off chance that you search your name in Google, find this post, and read it I just want to say “Ello” 🙂

To get started check out the video that started my obsession

The Necessity of Planning

I debated long and hard about what costume to wear this Halloween. It’s not just a simple choice of going to Meijer the day of a party and buying something that fits and is cheap. Oh no, I plan.

Sometimes not enough. My senior year of high school I decided on being a Jedi, and I wanted to make it myself. I bought fabric, patterns, and set to work. It quickly became an issue of time. You see, I didn’t, and still don’t, know how to use a sewing machine and making a costume by hand is a really long process.

I ended up roping my sister to help me because she knows how to work the contraption. We were up past midnight on Hallow’s Eve and I had to pay her half the Reese’s I got that year. And while I was immensely proud of my costume I still got pwned by a young kid dressed up as Darth Vadar because his light saber extended AND lit up.

So, for this year’s costume it has to be easy to make. And recognizable. My junior year, I bought 40 peacock plumes and made a tail I attached to the back of a dress. This thing was huge, easily had a six foot span, and with a purple dress and beautiful plums I figured it would be pretty obvious that I was a peacock.

Turns out that was wrong, this one lady called me a turkey. A turkey! And I couldn’t defend myself because I had lost my voice for a week from working at a haunted house. I was unable to say ‘trick-or-treat’, let alone point out this woman’s mistake. My friends still call me a turkey sometimes.

So yes, Halloween costumes have to be easy to make, and it has to be obvious what you are. Oh, and cheap. We are college students.

So I looked through my clothes (nothing’s cheaper then what you already have) and found a pair of cargo pants that had potential. And Salvation Army has a ton of stuff too. Go on Thursdays, it’s student discount day. Take me if you need advise. 

Cargo pants, black top, and a summer fondness for revisiting Disney cartoons. Add a small box covered in printer paper colored to match the proper accessories and some red hair dye and a Kim Possible cosplay is born!

We’ll just ignore the fact that my hair is short and curly and that my martial skills are so bad I can’t even fake a pose.

Warhol liked pretty boys

Andy Warhol was always considered to be a distant person. When people approached him, he flinched and backed away. When someone talked to him face-to-face, he hardly looked straight on into the person’s eyes. Whereas, during a conversation, one would gently touch the shoulder of his companion to emphasize a point, Warhol would whip out a camera and take that person’s picture. It was his way of showing affection. Yet, always being the recorder of an event creates distance between that person and the event itself. The photographer cannot ever be fully present at a party when they are constantly roaming around looking for people to photograph. But Andy was just that kind of guy.

Even in his art, there is always a sense of removal and distance, almost a sense of clinical observation. The subjects are subjects themselves, with no embellishments or extravagance. The images of Andy Warhol in the Warhol Snapshots exhibition in UMMA are not the typical, iconic images of his career. There are no silk screens of Campbell’s soup cans or Marilyn Monroe. There are no Brillo boxes. Instead, there are Polaroids and silver gelatin prints of the everyday experience of being Andy Warhol.

After being nearly fatally shot in 1968, Andy retreated into his silvery shell of The Factory, his studio where countless subjects of his art marched into for their closeups. It was widely said that it was in this foil covered studio that people felt the most like themselves and the least judged by others. Andy’s studio became a refuge for people not widely accepted by societal norms: homosexuals, transsexuals, artists, addicts. Even those who were rich and famous or came from influential families found their safe haven in the studio. Though he was a gay man who lived with his mother, it wasn’t always in his initial intentions to transform his studio into such a refuge. It just became like that. Numerous people flocked to him for their own 15 minutes of silk screen printed fame.

But in the snapshots of his life presented in this exhibition, one can easily see the things that caught Andy’s eye. He was interested in the interactions between people, various people, both in the midst of their crowded surroundings and in their own solitude. And in these pictures of other people, we can begin to tell about Andy himself. Judging from the many pictures taken at parties and social events, we realize that Andy was very much a part of the social scene– apparently, he never missed a party. And he never missed a party without his camera, either. He was captivated by small things– a truck parked in front of an instant win lottery sign, three gorgeous men laughing over a glasses of alcoholic drinks, three ladies’ colorful high heels. While examining one photograph featuring Liza Minelli, we instantly become aware that it is not Liza Minelli herself, whose back is turned to the camera, that Andy wanted to shoot– it was actually the cute Asian man sitting down behind her, staring directly at the photographer. And as we look from one picture to another and another and another, none of which shows Warhol himself, it becomes evident that Andy was always the person who always took the photographs, not the one photographed.

In fact, the tragic truth was that Andy believed that he was ugly. Even as he drew and took pictures of these people that he called gorgeous, even as he said, “Everyone is beautiful, it’s just that some are more beautiful than others”, he thought himself to be ugly. Perhaps as these “beautiful” people sought security in Andy’s studio, Andy also sought security in his art featuring these beautiful people. But as someone who became one of the most famous and recognizable artists of all time, what would Andy have to be insecure about?

In a way, this creator of iconic proportions presents the case of those on the margins of society. He may be brilliant, he may be famous, but if he is different, than he can never fully feel safe in a world where he is not understood and in a world where he feels he does not belong. Maybe that is why so many people followed him and nearly worshiped him as an artist. He brought out in them– the rich, the famous, the beautiful– insecurities that they had hidden for so long and had always longed to stifle and hide, yet he did not judge them; he understood. And in that studio, as their photographs were being snapped, at that party, where candid shots were being taken, they understood that he would not exploit their weaknesses to their disadvantage, but that he would take them in all of their good and bad and raise them up to a level on par with the ever enviable Marilyn. That he would transform them from regular people to iconic figures. That they would, in his art, become that which they had always desired to be: Accepted.

— The Warhol Snapshots Exhibition curated by Christina Chang at the University of Michigan Museum of Art lasted from August 29 to October 25 2009 —


Gabby Park spends hours in museums and restaurants, with a notebook and a fork in hand, respectively.