Sunday, September 24, 2006

Elevator Experience

In remembering my elevator experience, I forgot to add one aspect of the story. Perhaps it was too tramatic for my direct recolection or perhaps it was my sub-conscience journalistic objectivity's hidden dicision to leave out irrelevant material. Either way, I forgot, so here it is. During the sixth minute, or so, I encountered a rogue professor on a fifth floor stop. He smiled at me dearly, then in a moment seemingly out of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, his diposition changed and in a near violent outburst, he picked up and threw a cardboard box into the elevator, barely missing my head. He smiled again and I will leave this professor un-named for libel purposes, but I feel it needed to be told.

In this story, I was only allowed thirty minutes and I still feel as though I lost control of some of my material, which transfered to my writing. I have been having trouble with this lately, and cannot seem to link my thoughts with transitions and relevency. What can I do? I guess some more editing is in order and maybe some re-writes. But writing on deadline is tuff and time is not always easy to come by, especially at this point in my life. If anyone has some magic organizational punch, Ill take a few gallons. On second thought, Id take a few gallons of jungle juice as well.

Elevator Intro

On this page, Michael J. Robertson’ s Feature Writing class holds witness to six accounts of 30 minute elevator rides, each with its own tale of sensory perception. In one elevator, the stench of stale Nacho Cheese Dorito chips wafts in with an entrant, alleviating in minutes, while the smell of relish and perfume tainted popcorn are the permanent residents of others. Dim florescent lighting and bright colored signs en-trance the eyes of unsuspecting riders while inside these descendants of stairs, recreating the Ca and Mogley scene in the Jungle Book. Profanity, mouse-squeaks, and polite beeps liter the enclosed spaces with some of the most peculiar noise pollution some have ever heard. And characters such as the Brown Hawaiian Shirt Man, the single white nat, and packs of Bon Appetit employees play critical roles in each of the six vertical productions. Accounts, from six different elevators are around the USF campus, describe events beginning with packages reeking of cigarettes to encounters ending in awkward flirtation. Please, read on.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


"Going down?"
"Going up?"
Today, not just any direction could suffice, it took no direction at all to land such an unpredictable experience. As the door opened, the smell was of relish and stale garbage, accented with breezes of cafeteria food. Walking through the entrance, my feet stuck to the floor as my arm grazed the wall, caressing a substance I would rather not have been exposed to. I could imagine if I had touched my tongue to the wall, would it have caused a Christmas Story-esc shenanigan that only the San Francisco Fire Department could save me from?
One dim fluorescent bulb lit the grimy rectangular box and the door closed behind me, I was now the prisoner of one of the most horrific elevators in USF history. Looking up, the ceiling had scratches in it reminiscent of a horror movie and the walls were broken and damaged as if a Veloca Raptor were once trapped inside.
Moving up and down, the elevator grimaced as mostly Bon Appetite cooks traveled between the first and second floor. The capacity warning stated that myself and 2350 extra pounds could fit, but I was hardly convinced. Bon Appetite employees, as I discovered, travel in packs and their conversations are based around "working too many hours" and griping about a certain arch-enemy that someone shouldn’t have "high-fived."
The only relief I had inside was in the friends I made onboard. The first was the emergency telephone bolted to the left side; I knew I could depend on it for rescue if suddenly I had to call someone warning them I was hurling helplessly from the fifth floor to the first. My other friends came in the form of buttons: one read, "push in case of emergency," and the other, "push in case of fire." God save the poor soul who ever gets trapped inside that wretched box during a fire.
Judging by the mustard colored walls that fade into a tope ceiling, one can tell Adolf Loos had no part in its interior design, but still, the rusted metal floor made of six uneven panels gave a sense of home– that is if home was San Quentin. Two USF event staff entered next– puzzled looks and odd stares were exchanged– then out of no where the shorter of the two spoke up, "You are just hanging out in this thing." She had figured me out in less than three looks so I half-heartedly agreed. Apparently the USF event staff stipend their wages with odd jobs as psychics. She then said, "You should get a job at Rasputen’s. They have a guy there who just rides up and down, but he has a stool." Laughter ensued and they stepped off no later than they could.
This was to be my last encounter with human life before the elevator idled at the second floor, the Bon Appetite kitchen, for fifteen solitary minutes. As time passed, the increasing loneliness brought about a certain insanity and I concluded my worst fear would be realized if someone stole my shoes, leaving my bare feet without defense on the soiled floor. On the other side of the dingy silver door, I could hear a strange buzzing mixed with the hybrid language of Spanish and Chinese used by the cooks. The only other noise was an out of tune whistle, which I soon tried to match.
In a brief moment of sanity, I decided I needed to return to the real world, outside this mind trap. Pushing the third floor button, the elevator lurched up one floor and the doors slid open. As I retreated from this travesty and looked back, I saw a green sign printed with white lettering. I could only wonder– if I called 422-6464, would the permits for this elevator really be on file?
written by: Jacob Marx

Video Games

For years video games have been blamed for so many of the troubles the youth of our nation face today, including attention deficit disorder, an unhealthy and sedentary lifestyle, social anxiety disorder stemmed from a lack of real life interaction, and even a warped sense of reality. But lets face it, in a time of desperate need, video games are a steadfast and unwavering friend. Never has a Playstation, or as neigh sayers like to call it, "the ruiner of lives," been too busy to just hang out and chill. At no point has an X-box ever judged you, calling you too fat, not cool enough, or too ugly to be your friend. When you are stranded inside and alone on a gloomy day as the rain pours cats and dogs over the asphalt on which games of basketball are usually played, who is there to keep you comfort? Nintendo, that’s who, rain or shine. The truth is, a video gaming system does not have it in its circuitry to leave you high and dry, bored out of your mind with nothing to do, its job is entertainment.
So why is it that concerned parents, psychologists, and "the man" alike try to bring down our closest of comrades, Nintendo, Platstation, and X-box? The answer is as complex as it is
disheartening, they just don’t understand. They don’t understand that a friend doesn’t have to be a person. For our generation, the advancement of video gaming has been that of the advancement of a person. When we were entering grade school, we had regular Nintendo and Atari to calm our nerves and dissolve our first day of school fears. As we excelled in playground sports in the fourth grade school, so did our game play at home with Fifa Foreplay Soccer and Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball on our Sega Genesis’ and Super Nintendos. Upon entering the scary new world of middle school where we actually changed class rooms, we were blessed with the newest wave of systems, Nintendo 64, Sega Dreamcast, and Playstation. In Highschool we landed our first real girlfriends as well as our first dates with reality based gaming, the Playstation 2 and the internet capable X-box. And now just as we enter the next stage of our lives, the most complex yet, College, a new breed of gaming has emerged, the Playstation 3 and the X-box 360, available soon.
The truth is, we are as familiar with the stages of video game advancement as we are with the growing up of our best friends, maybe even more. For example, remember when your best friend broke his leg jumping his bike in the fourth grade? Kind of. Now, remember one week later when you got a Super Nintendo for your birthday? Yeah, that was the best day of your life! See, and that same Super Nintendo kept you both busy for those 6-8 weeks when you were waiting for your friend’s leg to heel. In the end, friends don’t have to be real, they just have to be there. And for this reason, I know I feel better having a Playstation that has my back.
written by: Jacob Marx

Too long have ball sports dominated the spectator entertainment arena in the US. It is not to say that I, as general sports fan, do not enjoy four pro games a day along an entrancing highlight reel, back rounded with a new Jay-Z rap song, showcasing slam dunks, home runs, and big hits on the grid iron, but I crave more. I want more excitement than the comfort of Saturday college football action or an almost guaranteed 162 games of baseball that my friends over at Yankee Stadium can offer me. I want something other than a pro football game for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Sundays– maybe just breakfast and dinner. I need salvation from the daily grind of batting orders, special teams, and hook shots. Which of the more non-traditional sports will be my messiah? Will the X-games offer me warmth in the cold of a lonely winter night? Probably not. Will hockey... well, I won’t even discuss hockey, frankly, it sucks. So where am I to turn for a fresh batch of sporting entertainment? Don’t be too riddled by my antidote, it lies in six simple letters– NASCAR. Im not exactly sure what those letters stand for, but I know what they mean– country music, fast cars, loose woman, and a little thing I like to call beer, and nothing fancy if you get my drift. A herd of country folk will usually pull trailers into the middle of the gigantic racing track and, from what I can tell, about three days of tail-gaiting will ensue. Now, in my opinion, participation in this "NASCAR world" can’t be healthy in long periods of time, but while the heart is young, I say live it up.
On the actual racing day, super fast cars make an endurance sprint for about 500 miles, looping around and around the oval of hot concrete, taking hard pressed turns to gain position, and passing opponents using the old soccer mom "im late for my kids practice, so its ok for me to cut you off" technique. NASCAR is, despite popular opinion, very entertaining, especially when 20 cars spin out and wreck all at once. Its true, people don’t mind when the cars crash, its just one of those things everyone is secretly waiting for. The world of racing is expanding and immersing American culture, from F-1 circuits to quarter mile drag challenges, and NASCAR as the front man. Im not saying on any given day I will be wearing a Hamm’s t-shirt and a Michelob Light ball cap as a crown while screaming at Jeff Gordon to pass Tony Stewart on the 182nd lap of the Banquet 500, but I might catch a few hours of racing on a Saturday afternoon for some college football relief. Change is not bad, I’m giving NASCAR a chance, besides, its not like im watching hockey.
written by Jacob Marx

Man’s Best Friend
In a recent conversation, a friend told me that a dog is not "man’s best friend," but merely a vessel of unconditional love for all who come near, carrying no real loyalties. Well I say balderdash. Now mind you, this friend is a girl and has no reference to what a "man’s" best friend really is. So let me tell you.
First off, what classifies a best friend? A best friend follows you into any adversity, any struggle, any conflict– without hesitation. Take Lassie for example, swimming out into an ice cold river to save her owner from drowning, absolutely neglecting her own safety. Lassie almost died, but if not for her instinctual canine abilities, or in this case, inabilities, little Timmy surely would have. Im not saying it takes habitual blind action to be a best friend, but a brash decision in the face of danger every once in a while would be nice. The point is, a dog cannot think about consequences the same way people can, so they will react to save your life way before any person would.
Don’t believe me? Don’t believe that dogs don’t think about consequences? Well, take your dog out to an extremely fast moving river (class five), throw a red ball into the rapids, and see what happens. Complete disregard for safety, that’s what. However, that’s precisely what a best friend is for– doing exactly what you say.
Now, I’m not advocated that a person should take advantage of an animal totally undivided in his loyalties, but that a best friend is of mutual standing and either will go to any length to help his counterpart– regardless of future reciprocation or consequence. Here is a true story, from the website for the book, Yorkie Doodle Dandie, written by William A. Wynne, about a Yorkie named Smoky who saved her best friends’ lives, simply because she was asked to.
"Early in the Luzon campaign [during WWII] Smoky pulled a string with vital phone wires attached under a taxi strip preventing the need to place 40 US fighter and recon planes in peril of destruction by enemy bombings. The three day digging task to place the wires was instead completed by this little dog in two minutes. The pipe was 70' long and 8 "in diameter with four inch high sand piles that filtered down at each four feet segment in the drainage culvert. She had never done this before. She came through the pipe because she was asked to." Now if that isn’t undaunted courage and loyalty, then I don’t know what is. Thank you to all dogs– to all of man’s best friends.
written by: Jacob Marx

The Ocean
It seems that the follies of ocean travel have become overlooked by vast majority of the citizens of the world. A false sense of security has taken control of the sea faring public and from what I can tell, this fog of delusioned safety is only growing thicker. Alarmingly, people all over the world have come to believe that we have the obedience of the ocean in a head lock and submission has been guaranteed. I’ll tell you, that’s just not the case, submission isn’t guaranteed.
Cruise ships routinely venture out over the great abysses of the ocean without a care in the world, and more than that, they even mean to party. Fishing has transformed from a means of catching food for the survival of sea dependant cultures into a multi-million dollar recreational industry where commercial boats embark daily on fun filled trips for the whole family. Fearful of the ocean, sea worthy boats were once great vessels of wood and steel, propelled by expansive sails and heavy oars. Now, Sea-doos and Malibu jet boats skip across the waves of the great blue yonder in an almost cocky manner, as to say, "I dare you," to the water beneath them.
From where has this boldness derived from? When did the fears of sharks, sea monsters, and drowning cease to reside in the minds of humanity? In the past one hundred years, the ocean has tried to regain its stature, but again and again, we are persistent in forgetting the dangers of the sea. For instance, the Titanic hit an iceberg and most of its passengers drowned– the next day, cruise ships were still setting off into the cold of the Atlantic. In the aftermath of the great storm retold in The Perfect Storm, recreational fisherman were right back out there. Even after Jaws terrorized that small town, children all over the world were still swarming beaches world wide.
Now, negating the perils of the ocean can be traced to once significant event. Ever since Columbus proved that the a ship wouldn’t fall of the end of the world if it went out to far, its been a losing battle for maintaining the ambiance of a powerful ocean. Moreover, as time has passed, humanities innovations have camouflaged the sea’s hazardousness. Examples of this include the inventions of the life preserver, the life raft, and the lighthouse. Don’t be fooled by the names, these things don’t make the ocean a safer place.
Take for instance the life preserver, it sounds like its adding a mountain of safety to your voyage, because its preserving your life, but its not. What does it really do? It makes you a sitting duck for the likes of sharks and killer whales. It says its "preserving" your life, yeah maybe preserving the freshness of an orca’s next meal.
The life raft– a device used to keep the victims of a sunken ship afloat and dry– sure seems like a great idea. But, did you ever think that the life raft is not only keeping moral people like you and I alive, its also keeping pirates alive and well to hunt on the high seas.
Lastly, the lighthouse, as one would assume, marks where the landmass starts so ships don’t accidently run into it. However, after a little investigative journalism, that’s not the purpose of a lighthouse at all. What they really do is aid in the sailing of ships along coastlines. Hence, a less educated captain could sail straight into jagged rocks, thinking he has another couple hundred or so feet before land and consequently, sink his ship.
The next time you decide to enter the depths of the sea, think about the hidden dangers and don’t be fooled by the world’s current "safe ocean" masquerade. Don’t subscribe to the idea of facing your fears and jumping in feet first, the ocean is a truly dangerous place, just ask Leo.
written by: Jacob Marx

Swimsuit Edition
If a stranger were to approach me on the street and tell me that a bunch of the most beautiful girls in the world would ruin my Friday afternoon, I would tell him he was crazy. Sadly though, this stranger wasn’t crazy, the 2006 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition did ruin my Friday afternoon.
From years of subscription, I have come to expect greatness from the parade of beaches, bums, and Brazilian cut bikinis that enrich the pages of the SI swimsuit edition every new February. They once took me from Tunisia to Greece in the 2001 edition: Goddesses of the Mediterranean and then into the heart of Latin America in the 2002 edition: Red Hot. In 2003 and 2005, SI didn’t play any games or beat around any bushes, they just gave the titles Too Much Fun and SI Gets Hotter to their issues, making it clear that they had no other goal that showing beautiful models in risque swimsuits. But now, with the release of the 2006 edition, Beach Party, SI has really dropped the ball starting with three major flaws– location, location, and location.
Now, the locations of the beach parties include: Columbia, Hollywood, Tahiti, an art Studio, Cat Island, and Las Vegas. When did Las Vegas get a beach? And when did Cat Island become a real island? The point is, the "beach party" theme doesn’t fit for one major reason– two of the swimsuit model destinations don’t even have beaches (believe me though, the day Las Vegas does get a beach, the place is going to be unrealistically cool, one could even say, better than Cat Island?). Maybe a more fitting title for this years issue would have been– Hot Girls Modeling Small Swimsuits in Random Locations, instead of the vastly misleading and ultimately deceptive, Beach Party.
Another issue I have with this year’s swimsuit issue, is that there is no hint of any kind of party, fiesta, or soirĂ©e. From cover to cover, there were no party poppers, cone shaped hats, or confetti. Never did I see a boom box, a volley ball net, or a super-soaker fight as I flipped through the pages. And where was the kiddy pool full of jungle juice? Absent, along with the pinata.
Of course, it is not to say that girls in barely-there swim wear can’t be fun, just not the sort of thing one should designate as a party (*I’m not prepared to stand by this statement). One section of the magazine, entitled Bombshell Beach, does come close to a party setting. There is a group of girls. They seem to be having fun. But these characteristics don’t necessarily mean party, they also fit common institutions such as college sororities, all-female dorms, and most Hooters restaurants.
I can tell that the models inside this issue did their best, as not to blame them for this tragedy. So who is to blame? Perhaps the deadline snuck up on the editors, forcing them to make an ill- willed decision. Maybe the different teams of photographers couldn’t converge and decide on any one topic. Maybe the government even had something to do with it. The point is, someone must be held responsible for this catastrophe. And in the end, I can only give one simple answer about these misplaced themes, mis-characterizations, and content flaws– I love swimsuit models and the all the terrific works they do around the globe.
*Note: Cat Island actually is a real island. It’s in the Bahamas!
written by: Jacob Marx

Eviction Notice

It has come to my attention that under certain contractual rent agreements, the treasured security deposit, which is often lost at the end of your stay, will automatically be returned if the not so sacred tenant/apartment relationship ends in eviction. Now, for those of you who don’t realize what this means, its like getting back the money you spent on your girlfriend during your problematic year-long relationship after you break up, as if she’d been pocketing the money, hiding it in a box and in a fit of rage, gave it all back right before the end. I know what your thinking, "I’d like an eviction please." Now, eviction can come quite easily for the naturally talented, but for those who can’t quite get the job done, I’ve devised six simple, and cost effective, ways to get you booted from your place faster than you can say, "Hey guys, we just got evicted!" But not really, cause some of these ideas take time.
In order to achieve a regular business week eviction, because you have to buy a plane ticket to visit that girl you met in Costa Rica next week, I recommend the good ol’ fashion ‘I collect noise in my apartment’ approach. To start off, borrow your friend’s 15' car subs, place them conveniently on the floor above your lower neighbors bedroom, and connect them to a thousand watt stereo. Upon bed time, blast Mace till 5:30 am, ignoring any irritating doorbell ringing, Police or not. Remember, sleep with ear plugs so you yourself aren’t disturbed. At 7:00 am, wake up and make breakfast while dropping every pot and pan you own on the kitchen tile. From noon till four, attempt to mimic the howler monkeys you saw that one time on the Discovery channel. Repeat for five days straight, assuring your landlord each evening it won’t happen again, and next Monday, a pay check in the form of an eviction notice.
For a faster check out, and I’m talking about an unnaturally quick removal, its time to join the big brother/big sister and walk a pet program at the same time. And don’t just enlist once, form different aliases and join upwards to twenty or thirty times; you need your neighbors to think you have opened a day-care and a zoo under the same roof in one day’s time. After you have all your players, a gaggle of kids and a multitude of animals rivaling Noah, organize all sorts of games– tag, hide and seek, kings, flip cup, and, of course, pin the tail on everything. Two days tops, guaranteed.
For those vegans out there, I have devised a much more natural method of eviction. It gets down to the roots of the problem and the origins of our country. However, I am warning you, if you don’t know any Cherokee’s or Navaho’s this probably won’t work. What I’m advocating is a rain dance. No animals are harmed and nature only benefits, especially you, because studies have shown that neighbors hate dancing, specifically rain dancing, and eviction is next to assured.
I’d like to thank my friend Ryan and the United States military for the next measure to be taken against the filth of the security deposit. I have three words for you, sniping and water balloons. Actually I have seven words for you, sniping, water balloons, and your neighbor’s great aunt. You do the math, three plus seven equals ten– a perfect ten.
It’s time to put away the Lincoln Logs and Legos, my last two methods are both unorthodox and illegal, so the blame is on you if you chose to be so bold. The fifth algorithmic program (a thesaurus word) involves a rogue gas leak and a conclusion that ends not necessarily in eviction, but you do get the security deposit back. All I’m saying is if there is no building, there can be no irresponsible damage to a certain apartment in that building, that’s all im saying, hands off.
Finality is said to be certain only in death and taxes. All the same, I have always believed finality is certain in death, taxes, and a doctor’s excuse note. To be more precise, I’ve never met a landlord who is willing to keep a tenant when he is certain that person has a plethora of hepatitis, yes, three fold: A, B, and C. If self respect and pride aren’t your game and you are willing to give up a reputation for future references, than a family friend who happens to be a doctor is your best bet in gaining back a security deposit. Five hundred dollars plus is what you gain. Is eviction worth the price? If so, than I not only recommend, but commend you on your decision to take my advice.