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South by Southwest: One Rockin' Spring Break

(03/20/03 5:00am)

When the frost melts and the spring sun starts to shine, the horn-rimmed and the pasty need release as much as anyone. For those who would never be caught dead screaming "SPRING BREAK 2003, WOOOOH!" and bumpin' uglies to J-Lo, the very best option is Austin's annual extravaganza, South by Southwest. One of the largest music and film festivals in the country, SXSW - in shorthand - is for many fans, bands and industry people one of the most important events of the year.

Column: Democracy is dead. Long live democracy!

(02/18/03 5:00am)

At this point in his life, my father was marching on the Pentagon and being jailed in defiance of his country. I find myself at 21, my country once again living in interesting times, so to speak, and I am a protest virgin. Now, I hate injustice as much as the next dude, but the myths of '60s activism didn't live long for me: Protests of my father's time were violent, faddish and futile. The ones a few years ago in Seattle were even worse. I was beginning to fear my political maturity would come and go, leaving me with no cause to say "I was there."

Column: We're all going straight to hell

(01/28/03 5:00am)

This is not some liberal guilt trip, some nostalgia-sick rip, some thorny-crown-and-cross kick. This is fear, thick and panicky; this is paranoiac acid flip; this is existential crisis; this is Orwell, body-snatchers, a bad moon rising. Tonight a man will speak to America about its state, about evildoers and the freedom that they hate, and if he gets his way in a few weeks thousands of people thousands of miles away will begin to die. And soon after that people over here will begin to die, in airplanes and shopping malls. But our planet has already begun to die and, perhaps within those lifetimes that remain unshortened by bombs, this Big Death will make all that other death seem little. Take solace in the big goddamn picture.

Operatic Space-Elf Glacier Epic

(11/14/02 5:00am)

After a performance at New York City's Beacon Theater, Sigur Ros came back onstage to thunderous applause not once but three times. Never bothered to play another note, though--just took a bow in front of a screen that read "Thank you" or some such in Icelandic. After maybe 15 minutes of hungry clapping, the lights finally went on and a cry of disappointment erupted from the crowd. Was this break of rock concert protocol a gesture of modest appreciation or a coy snubbing? With this band anything is hard to tell, but to be fair, a Sigur Ros show is not quite a rock concert.

Running with the Devil

(10/31/02 5:00am)

In the heart of old Chatham County, buried under the thick darkness of forest glade, there lies a circle of dark infamy. It's called, in hushed tones and low moans, the Devil's Tramping Ground. The few who know of it dare not speak of its secrets--except for Lead Music Writer Macy Parker's grandma, who apparently is a witch. I asked whoever was in The Chronicle lounge that day what they knew of it and was met with cold, almost angry stares.

Column: Masada revisited

(10/08/02 4:00am)

Virtually every Jew who makes aliyah to Israel will visit the ruins of Masada. Some of the Jewish applicants to this school probably wrote their application essays on the experience. Every Israeli soldier, too, will at some point climb its many steps to say prayers as dawn breaks over the Negev desert. On the grounds below you can see the campsites where the Roman army laid siege to the fort for several months. Almost a thousand Masada Hebrews chose suicide over surrender, and became an enduring symbol of the Jewish will for solidarity and sacrifice in the face of oppression.

Durham Band

(09/26/02 4:00am)

All this talk about a "Durham Renaissance," and you still think it's that hippie caftan shop on 9th Street? This Saturday is a chance to get your first sloppy mouthful of Durham at the Durham Band Showcase. Put on by the Durham Association of Downtown Arts (DADA), the show will run noon to midnight at Durham Central Park, is free to the public and will host at least 13 bands from the area. (And no, I didn't know there's a Central Park here either, but apparently it's on Foster Street, near the Hunt Avenue intersection and across from the Liberty Warehouses.)

Ren Provey!

(09/19/02 4:00am)

Here at Recess it is our ongoing mission to observe and, if possible, grope the culture of the student body. Seeing that the spiffy promenade outside the WEL had not yet been christened, we took to the streets, put our ears to the well and listened for the people's voice. Anticipating that this voice would be meek and muttered, we provided voters in advance with some well-intentioned options.

Old habits dying in the New South

(09/17/02 4:00am)

"Yeah, Duke is a blast," he said and then snorted. "But Durham--man, what a s---hole." I was visiting Duke and stayed with this guy from my high school. My pre-frosh experience confirmed his claim: a sloshy Homecoming night that spilled all over the quad, and the next day a hasty walk through 9th Street before dropping into Cosmic Cantina. On a Thursday night four years later, I sit on a West Campus bench and watch several freshmen, restless and emaciated like a pack of starving dogs, wander into what seems to be the only populated section. They emerge minutes later, forlorn, without beer, and one of them whimpers: "Man, what a s---thole."