Identity Crisis

I’ve made the joke before, but it’s true that I decided to get into journalism because of Spiderman. Actually , it was because of Peter Parker. I was on my marketing co-op this time last year, driving around Scarborough, stuck in traffic on a particularly unpleasant day.

I was in debt, I was destroying my car and I was driving around for up to 12 hours a day in questionable areas to say the least. All this was in order to service a promotion program for some already rich company who wanted to gather some extra (and possibly entirely useless) market research.

It was at that very moment in Scarborough that I decided I wanted to do something different with my life. I wasn’t immediately sure what that was. After all, it had been two solid years of marketing at this point, being groomed for a career in the industry.  So I asked myself, WWSD?  “What would Spiderman do?”

The main problem was that I needed a career, I needed money but I wanted to be happy. Well, when Spidey wants to blow off steam he swings to the nearest crime scene and beats thugs into a pulp.  The only problem there was my apparent lack of super powers. So crime fighting was, sadly, not an option.

But the great thing about Spiderman is that he’s really Peter Parker. The great thing about Peter Parker is that he has real problems. He needs money, he has to pay rent and take girls out on dates. So what does Parker do for cash? He’s a journalist.

Ok granted, he’s more accurately a photo-journalist, and for the longest time he was a free-lance photographer, but that’s where I got the inspiration.  If it helps, we’ll just say Eddie Brock, who was a journalist of the regular variety, was the real inspiration.

So, when I went back to school for my summer semester, I got a hold of Josiah, he forwarded some of the things I had written in the past to former editor Ryan. Ryan started sending me assignments for the print, I got in touch with Bryan who was kind enough to post my blogs and I’ve been writing away ever since.

Not to kiss ass, but the TRAVIS experience has been great. It’s rewarding, fun, challenging and everybody has been super cool, encouraging and helpful. I feel like I’m learning a lot and (hopefully) getting better.  It’s been driving me to get into journalism as a career in a big bad way.

But it’s been hard to break away from marketing.  Marketing has been good for me in a lot of ways. It makes you more aggressive, competitive and knowledgeable for the real world. Principals you take away from marketing can aid you in just about any field of interest you have.

So I don’t regret my 3 years of marketing, but the conflict is do I continue on this path, or move on to journalism? Sure, finding a job will be easier in marketing, and a much more lucrative one at that. Also, two more years of school isn’t exactly appealing, but journalism is just so much more liberating.  It’s not that I think it’s the “easy” path either.  Like anything worth doing, I can see that it requires a lot of hard work and dedication.

Thus, my identity crisis. I’m trying to decide who I’ll be after college. Spidey has gone through a few identity crises, but most famously, when the wall crawler was torn between his classic red and blue outfit and his sinister black one.

Journalism is my red and blue suit. It’s my true colors, it’s a suit I really like wearing (no tights jokes please) and who I’d really like to be.  Marketing then is the black suit. It’s got some definite benefits and it looks cool, but it’s stuck on me. Like the alien symbiote, marketing and I are two separate things, and the longer I keep wearing it, the more it sinks its claws into me.

So, do I rip off the venomous black suit and don the classic, true to myself red and blue threads? Or do I stay with the slick black suit and reap the full benefits?  I’m torn between the two.

Of course I’d ultimately like to be able to combine the two and use skill sets from both in my life and I’m sure I will. But we can’t always be two people.  Oh well, the identity crisis continues.

Your friendly neighbourhood,

– Chris D’Alessandro

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TRAVIS Vs. Classified

I haven’t met anyone who hasn’t heard of Classified. When moms start singing some of the words to his songs “Anybody Listening?” and “Oh… Canada”, you know he’s pretty famous.

Just like every other interview, I’m in pre-game mode. I’m running my questions over in my head and feeling extremely anxious. Just as I get collected, my phone rings.

“Hey, this is Classified, how’re you doing?”

I wanted to stay calm and tell him I’m good but instead, I said, “I’m kinda nervous.” Lucky for me, Classified is a pretty cool guy and tells me not to be. There’s a friendly tone in his voice as he asks me a little bit about myself and where I’m from. My first question for Classified is about where his name came from.

“I came up with that name when I was 16. I always tell people I wish I had some crazy story about it but I got nothing.” Like all artists, he didn’t have a name in the beginning and couldn’t stick to one he liked. “When I was looking through the newspaper, I saw classified so I started coming up with a bunch of different things to play off the word.” Eventually, people started calling him Classified and the name stuck.

Unlike most rappers, Classified didn’t grow up in a big city like Toronto surrounded by inspiration. He grew up outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia in the small town of Enfield, which has a population of around 3,000. While in high school, Classified, along with a couple other guys started rapping where they became known as “the high school rappers.” “We rapped at school dances, which gave me the energy and hype that made me want to do this.”

After high school, Classified moved out of Enfield to live in Halifax. “I think being from a small town, you can’t just focus on that one area you’re from because the world’s a lot bigger than that small town. When I moved to Halifax and started doing stuff there, I had to start thinking bigger. Instead of focus on Halifax, I started focusing on Canada.”

From that mindset, Classified has gained a fairly large fan base throughout Canada not just by his music, but communicating with his fans. Since he’s usually online, he’ll talk to fans through e-mail, Facebook and Twitter. After shows, Classified isn’t someone to say “no” to a fan. “I’m going out signing autographs, taking pictures and doing whatever they want. After 10 years of doing this, I think that’s what’s built my fan base. They know that I appreciate them coming out and I’m not just there for a pay-cheque.”

As a producer, Classified is always looking for new talent to work with. Since he lived in Halifax, he holds contests there to find young rappers to work with and hopefully give them a name. To do this, they have to have the drive and the attitude to take hip-hop seriously. “It’s a rare breed, it’s hard to find that artist that’s really going to take it to the next level and really going to push their shit,” Classified said.

Since he’s become big name in the Canadian rap game, I asked where he would be if he weren’t who he was today. “Luke Boyd [his real name], the computer support technician. That’s what I was doing before I started hip-hop full-time.” Classified was laid off from his job at MT&T in 2003, the same year his album “Trial & Error” was released. “I had it all planned out. Let me get my unemployment and go hard on this music shit for a year.” On the second last day at work, he was offered another job that would pay $40,000 – $50,000 a year. Instead of taking the spot, he chose to be a full-time hip-hop artist and producer. “My parents were fucking loosing their mind but it worked out. I really wanted the music shit and when my unemployment ran out, I started making money from shows. I kept covering my bills and every year, I become more and more successful. I think the parents are happy now with my choice.”

With Classifieds next album “Handshakes and Middle Fingers” being released March 22, he said it’s going to be the same quality music as the other records. Each new album, Classified tries to step up his songwriting, rhyming and production. “It’s just the next step of my life, what I’m going through and what’s happened to me over the last two years. I just put it together, put some beats over it and rap it.”

– Matt Main

What’s Going on in Egypt

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you’ve probably heard something about the protest going on in Egypt. If geography isn’t your forte, Egypt is a country in North Africa. They are bordered by the

Hosni Mubarek

Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south and Libya to the west.

 

The protests began on January 25 with tens of thousands marching through the streets of downtown Cairo to the beat of the ousting of their president Hosni Mubarak who has been accused of corruption throughout his administration.

The protests sparked worldwide attention due to the increasing use of social media like Twitter, Facebook and Youtube that allow activists to coordinate, communicate and document the events as they occur.

Prior to the Egyptian protests, major demonstrations were occurring in Tunisia that began in December. The protests began after thousands of Tunisians became dissatisfied with high unemployment, food inflation, corruption, suppression of freedom of speech and poor living conditions. The ongoing conflict has resulted in 219 deaths and 94 injuries. It also led to the ousting of the now former Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali 28 days after the protests began.

The Egyptian protests, like that in Tunisia, have focused on issues like food inflation, corruption, suppression of freedom of speech and high unemployment. But unlike Tunisia, Egyptians are also fighting against police brutality, state of emergency laws, and the lack of free elections.

In Egypt, the death toll currently stands at 300, including 135 protestors, 12 policemen, 12 escaped prisoners and 1 police chief.

Mubarak dissolved his government in late January. In response to mounting pressure from protestors, he announced he would not seek re-election in September.

On February 4, “The Day of Departure,” Ahmad Mohamed Mahmoud was the first journalist to die while covering the protests. He succumbed to gunshot wounds sustained on January 28.

As recent as February 6, protestors continue to camp out in Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo. Journalists continue to be targets for prosecution. A journalist named Ayman Mohyedlin was arrested by soldiers in Tahrir Square. Protestors against the regime now exceed 1 million people.

International reactions to the protests have varied. Most western states have announced that only peaceful protests should continue.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said that Egypt remains an important partner for Canada and that “We urge the Egyptian government to ensure full freedom of political expression for its citizens.” He added that the Canadian government “continues to stand by the people of Egypt as they demand democratic reforms and respect for human rights. We urge the Government of Egypt to begin an immediate transition toward democratic reform.”

U.S. President Barack Obama stated that his first concern is preventing injury or loss of life and said: “What’s needed right now are concrete steps that advance the rights of the Egyptian people. Ultimately the Egyptian people will determine the future of Egypt. The United States will always be a committed partner to that future, with the Egyptian government, and with the Egyptian people.” He also said that the Egyptian protesters have rights that are “universal,” with the right to peaceful assembly and association, free speech and “the ability to determine their own destiny. “These are human rights and the United States will stand up for them everywhere.”

— Curtis Sindrey

Sheridan Fashion… Sofia – Art Fundamentals


– Steph Martyniuk

The Alexisonfire Video

This is a little something we whipped up a few months back.

– Bryan

Sheridan Fashion… Trevor – Musical Theater


– Steph Martyniuk

World Champion Hide and Seek

These guys don’t even have iPods!

But in reality it’s pretty amazing. How many other undiscovered tribes are there left in the world? Living in the jungle seems pretty taxing, and these guys look pretty healthy.

The video says at the end that contact is risky as things like the common cold could decimate their immune systems. Things like Justin Bieber and Twitter could decimate their lines of communication as well. If you had never heard of the internet how would you feel finding all the things on it?

I think I’d much enjoy hunting things with sticks and singing hymns in a loincloth to having to get up at 7 to take the train into the city.

I wonder, do they ever have trouble sleeping at night? Do they have cravings? What do they do for fun? Are there fashion trends?

-Bryan