Why I found Rider TV’s Latest Episode Offensive

By Ayse Hunt 

Here at Roosevelt, we have so many amazing platforms for expression. This blog, the Roosevelt News, and Creative Arts Quarterly are just a few of the ways that students can express their thoughts and opinions. Rider TV is another avenue for expression we have here at Roosevelt—and it is one of my personal favorites. One of my favorite episodes was from Season 1, when James Leroux is jumping on tables while playing the saxophone solo from “Careless Whisper” and making everyone around him giggly and uncomfortable (If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend checking it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNNy-mmsL6E )

I was, however, disappointed in Rider TV’s latest episode that went live on the 14th. My main issue with the episode was the opening sketch.*

The viewer is greeted with the words “ISLAMICA: Similarities between the Islamic and the United States”. I think it is worth noting that “the Islamic” does not imply the Islamic State or ISIS, but rather people who consider themselves Muslim. From the note at the bottom, saying “from deep inside the ISIS compound”, we can see that the comparison was intended to be between ISIS and the U.S. There is a massive difference between ISIS and the Muslim population as a whole, as I’m sure the producers of Rider TV are aware, and I would have liked to see that difference made explicit in the sketch.

The next image on the screen is that of three shirtless actors—because people in the Middle East apparently don’t wear shirts—pretending to be members of ISIS. They begin listing events on a timeline; some of the events are key points in the creation of ISIS, while others are various moments from the lives of a select group of Roosevelt students. While all of the comparisons completely undermine the gravity of the situation with ISIS, the one that stood out to me from the others:

[ISIS Member #1] “2002, Claire Prestbo shits her pants while in kindergarten class.”

[ISIS Member #2] “In the same year, 166 are killed by Pakistani rebels in Mumbai”

I did research on this attack, and the only terrorist attack I found record of in Mumbai during 2002 was a bus bombing that killed 2 people and wounded around 50 others, which is catastrophic in its own right. It’s possible that Rider TV was referencing the tragic 2008 bombings that killed around 170 (I saw death toll estimates anywhere from 162 to 174, depending on the source). The fact that it is unclear which terrorist attack was intended to be the butt of the joke illustrates my biggest problem with the whole sketch—for many, the situation with ISIS is a matter of life and death and not something to be taken lightly. These terrorist attacks that have made into the punchline of this sketch have killed countless civilians over the years. Making jokes about the deaths of innocent people in light of recent conflict is something that is intentionally offensive, I would be shocked if Rider TV made jokes about the school shooting that took place last month in Marysville, and I fail to see how making jokes about the death of people in the Middle East is any different.

The second part of the sketch has two of the “ISIS members” comparing extremism in the Middle East with so-called extremism in the U.S. You can see a screen shot of the images that were shown to demonstrate each kind of extremism below. Pictures of Lady Gaga compared with a depiction of civilians held at gunpoint, an image of an obese man eating an extremely large cheeseburger compared with a photo of armed members of a terrorist group. When this scene was shown during my third period class, there was no laughter. There was awkward shifting in chairs and the widening of eyes as we all seemed to be asking ourselves, “What are we watching?”

                 I get that Rider TV was trying to juxtapose some trivial aspects of our lives with the gravity of the situation in the Middle East for a witty affect, but I found the jokes offensive, and not in a funny way. There is a fine line between finding light in the midst of tragedy through satire and making fun of a humanitarian crisis in an inappropriate way.

It’s troubling to me that this episode reached the audience it did seemingly without self-reflection. I would hope that the producers behind Rider TV would watch something like the “ISLAMICA” clip and ask themselves whether the jokes are in poor taste or just simply inapt for a TV show that is backed by ASR and Roosevelt.

I can only speak for myself, but moving forward I hope to see Rider TV apologize for this misstep, or at the very least ensure that sketches of this nature don’t get a green light in the future.

*In the interest of full disclosure, I feel that I should share that my mom’s family is Muslim and that I was raised according to Islamic values. I have experienced ignorance before, including being asked if my grandparents are part of Al-Qaida and things of that nature. This issue is particular offensive to me for this reason. 

Roosevelt’s Froula Organ Pipes Up

By Luisa Moreno

     The Froula Memorial Pipe Organ is once again being played at Roosevelt, after intermittent periods of disuse and repair. Thanks to students’ efforts, it once again will play its notes along with the Roosevelt orchestra.

     In 1940, the Froula Memorial Pipe Organ was dedicated to VK Froula, the beloved first principal of Roosevelt, after his death in 1938. From then on, the organ was played by principal Cecil Bullock in the mornings, welcoming students to school, or playing at assemblies, until the he retired in 1965. “After he retired, the organ wasn’t used for many, many years[. . .]so it wasn’t being maintained,” orchestra student Parker Lambert says. The organ was forgotten until 1983, when student stage manager Ron Sillence found the organ and began repairing it himself. In 1997, senior Raven Bonner Pizzorno decided to rebuild the organ as a senior project, and it was played at the 1997 Holly Berry Concert. Some basic maintenance took place in 2001, but when Roosevelt was renovated in 2003, parent Andrea Wilson helped create the Friends of the Roosevelt High School Froula Memorial Pipe Organ to help save the organ from being sold or thrown away. The group raised the $79,000 to reinstall the pipe organ in the Performing Arts Center in the new Roosevelt building, and reconstruction began in 2008. Housed at the Lincoln High School wood shop, volunteers put 5,100 hours into the organ. In October 2009, an inaugural concert was held in the Roosevelt theatre. Three student organists played, Halden Toy from Marysville-Pilchuck High School, Cara Peterson, a 2008 Roosevelt graduate, and Thomas Varas from Ballard High School. Roosevelt sophomore Brendon Mcmullen composed a piece played by experienced organist David Locke, and Dr. Angela Kraft Cross also played.

George Shangrow played the organ in a second concert that year. A friend of orchestra teacher Anna Edwards, Shangrow was killed in July 2010 in a car crash with a teenage driver.  “It was just kinda hard after he died,” Edwards says, and because she also didn’t have the time to continue using the organ, it was once again left alone.

Now, in 2014, the organ has been brought out again to delight a new audience. “We thought it would be awesome,” Lambert says. Edwards says the students played a big part in the organ being brought back. “They were the ones who kinda resurrected the whole thing.” Jason Dan played the organ at the recent Pumpkin Seed Concert. It will also be played at the Holly Berry Concert in December, and Edwards will play it at a Seattle Collaborative Orchestra concert in March.

Although largely unknown, the Froula Organ has spanned seventy-four years at Roosevelt. It is a memorial to Roosevelt’s beginnings, and shares its renovation with that of the school’s. Orchestra student Ava Scarborough says the organ’s revival is a valuable addition. “Not every school has an organ, and I have to say this probably one of the most unique schools. I came to Roosevelt because of its uniqueness, and I definitely think the organ contributes to it.”

Roosevelt Jazz I’s First Performance Launches Another Prestigious Year

By Sophie Aanerud

 

The Roosevelt High School auditorium buzzed with anticipation Saturday night. A combination of students, parents, teachers, and general jazz connoisseurs milled about, all ready to bear witness to the first performance of the first performance of Roosevelt’s 2014-15 Jazz Band I.

 

“It’s so nice to finally be out of the band room, playing for actual people,” remarked director of the Roosevelt Jazz and band program and conductor of Jazz I, Scott Brown, as he stood on stage before the 23-student band.

 

The concert, which was part of the annual, internationally recognized, Earshot Jazz Festival (which spans from October 10th to November 11th), was opened with an introduction by the festival’s executive director, John Gilbreath. Gilbreath praised the Roosevelt jazz band, reflecting upon its rich history of success in competitions such as Essentially Ellington.

 

In a performance which spanned almost an hour and a half, the band touched upon a range of material, from standard, bouncing charts written by Sammy Nestico (a primary arranger for the Count Basie Big Band), to more demure ballads such as famed trombonist, J.J. Johnson’s, Lament, and Billy Strayhorn’s intellectually enriching Raincheck. The band closed with an exuberant rendition of Sammy Nestico’s Ya Gotta Try, which featured a rapid-fire tenor saxophone battle between juniors Santosh Sharma and Jesse Beckett-Herbert.

 

Though the band, in its infancy, lacks the unified sound associated later Jazz I performances in previous years, the great energy and skill of the musicians is undeniable. With a host of performances upcoming (beginning with a free performance Friday, November 14th, at the Seattle Public Library’s Central Branch in which the band will perform selections from the Seattle Public Library’s KOMO collection of sheet music from the 1930s to 1950s), the band will only improve.

 

As the audience filed from the auditorium, all conversation was on the swinging band and its bright future. It would appear that another strong season is in store for the Roosevelt Jazz Band.

The Sizzling Hellfire Fury of the Mars Hill Church is snuffed: Former “Angry Young Prophet” Mark Driscoll disbands Seattle’s local Megachurch…”It’s still all about Jesus!”

By Daniel O’Connell 

After almost 20 years as the proud head pastor of the Mars Hill Church, Mark Driscoll has announced that they will no longer exist organizationally by the end of year. Though some of the locations will remain on as small-scale, independent churches, most will be sold to third-party investors. This decision came as a shock to much of the 14,000+ members of the Church, and Driscoll says that “Mars Hill Church has never been about a building or even an organization” and that ultimately “Mars Hill is a people on mission with Jesus…that singular focus continues as these newly independent churches are launched.”

The organization has come under fire in the past for both their controversial and cultish behavior as well as the public actions of Driscoll himself. Back in July of this year, exhumed documents conveyed his opinion on the state of modern America, stating that we lived in a “completely pussified nation” and that Adam (of Adam & Eve fame) was the “first of the pussified nation.” During the following two months, a slew of testimonies from former members appeared online regarding the church’s internal conduct. Many of them claimed that within the Church they were required (read: strongly encouraged) to maintain an open-book policy regarding how much they would donate to the church on a regular basis, but the faculty of the church itself did not reciprocate in the same manner; rather, their expenses were kept under tight wraps and obscured from analysis. It was later revealed that much of the funding went towards amenities such as music videos and world travel. To become a fully-fledged member of the church you are required to attend months of rigorous classes centered around a book written by Driscoll himself (Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe) and formally agree to submit to the authority of the church in an official document. Oftentimes, pastors within the church would become far more intimately involved in the private lives of it’s attendees – ahem, it’s fully-fledged members – than is advisable. According to an interview conducted by Brendan Kiley of The Stranger, one pastor ordered a member to end his long-distance relationship with his girlfriend in Colorado. When the member in question refused, said pastor found the phone number of his girlfriend’s father and warned him of the dangerous path he had taken, and that he might be putting his daughter’s life in danger.

The Mars Hill Church, as with all American Megachurches it seems, was never a stranger to controversy. However, it would also seem that this congregation in particular was far more violent, abusive and downright deserving of this controversy. Perhaps it is better for both the sanity of it’s former members and the general moral environment of the Pacific Northwest that Mark Driscoll and his merry men move on to greener pastures, preferably somewhere where his thunderous sermons are not quite so audible. I would suggest a cave, but no doubt he’d return in three days, as angry and boisterous as ever.

Jon Stewart’s Apology for the No-Vote Joke

By Ayse Hunt

Jon Stewart from “The Daily Show” did an interview with CNN’s Christine Amanpour prior to Tuesday’s Midterm election to discuss his opinions. When faced with the question “Did you vote?” the talk show host surprisingly replied with a simple “No.”

When Amanpour inquired further, Stewart said, “I just moved. I don’t know even where my thing is now.” You can watch the interview for yourself here

This comment understandably raised a few eyebrows, as a large part of Stewart’s satire-heavy show relies on his outspoken opinions about politics. Amongst a sea of celebrities who took to their Twitter and Instagram feeds to encourage their fans to vote in the Midterm elections, Stewart’s comment stood out.

During his live broadcast of “The Daily Show” on election night, Stewart clarified his intentions. Amongst laughter from the audience after a clip of his CNN interview was played, he said, “Let me explain something—I’ve known where my thing is since I was thirteen.” He continued, “To set the record straight, I did vote today and I do know where my thing is. I was being flip, and it kind of took off, and you know what, I want to apologize because I shouldn’t be flip about that…because I think it sent a message that I don’t think voting is important…”

Despite his apology, I don’t think that this miscommunication will fade too quickly from the mind of the public and “Daily Show” viewers. The dismal voter turnout that the U.S. has become notorious for, especially in Midterm elections, has become a looming threat to the efficacy of our democracy. Though Stewart’s joke couldn’t have really come at a worse time, it is heartening to see the countless media outlets that picked up the story and the general consensus that voting in the Midterm elections are an extremely important duty. Most opinion articles that I saw felt that Stewart was sending the wrong message to potential voters everywhere.

While Stewart was held accountable for his comment on his abstention, the vast majority of Americans who did not vote in the Midterm election are not. Even though this election is over, it is important that we continue to reinforce the idea that not voting is not cool, because if I’ve learned anything thus far in AP Gov, it’s that without intensity in belief and mobilization from the masses, change cannot happen.

Roosevelt vs. Ballard Football

By Dane Rogerson

            The Roughrider football team took down the Ballard Beavers on October 24, 19-13, in their second matchup of the year. The Roughriders came out strong on the first drive, with a seventy yard touchdown run from Jackson Reavis. The Roughriders scored one more time, and went into the locker room at halftime with a 13-0 lead over the rival Beavers. The third quarter was scoreless, as the Roughrider offense failed to put together a drive. Lucky for Roosevelt, the defense held strong throughout the third, until wearing down in the fourth. In the final twelve minutes of the fourth quarter, Ballard found the end zone twice, and closed the gap, only trailing by six with the score at 19-13 in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Roosevelt’s run-heavy attack seemed to die down after halftime, as they never found the end zone again. Despite a sloppy game on both sides, the Roughriders pulled out an unnecessarily dramatic 19-13 win to advance to the Metro Championship game.

 

Moving on to the championship game against the 98th nationally ranked Eastside Catholic Crusaders, Roosevelt did not fair as well. On the cold Halloween night, the Roughriders came out strong, advancing the ball for two back to back first downs on the Crusaders before having to punt. Things went downhill from here for the Roughriders, after an immediate response form the Crusaders with a thirty yard punt return and touchdown later that series. There was much of the same throughout the first half, as both teams left the soaking wet field and filed into the locker rooms at half with the score 41-0 in favor of Eastside Catholic. In the third an fourth quarters the Roosevelt defense toughened up and didn’t allow another point, but could not find the end zone themselves. The final score remained 41-0, but both teams are guaranteed playoff births. The Roughriders will ride again against Central Kitsap High School on Saturday the 8th at Memorial Stadium at 4:00 P.M in the first round of the state playoffs. Go out and support your team.

Throwback Thursday: Costumes of Halloween Past

Ayse Hunt

 

We asked Roosevelt students to tell us about their favorite Halloween costumes from years past, and here’s what they said:

“When I was a little kid I was a grape. Actually, I think I might have been a bunch of grapes. I chose it for myself, which was impressive because I was only 2 or 3. I just really liked grapes.”

–Seth Lambert-Vail

 

“I was a dead cheerleader in 6th or 7th grade —I put leaves in my hair and made it look like I was dead.”

–Avery Connell

 

“I was a paper bag one year. I literally just put a bag over my head.”

—Henry Bowman

 

“I was a witch when I was 11. I made my younger brother dress up as a cat and be part of my costume.”

–Camilla Rask

 

“I wore a George W. Bush mask for Halloween in 8th grade. It was funny because everyone thought that I [had intended to dress up] like a clown.”

–Jesse Beckett-Herbert

Privatization of Prison Services Leads to Inmates Getting Shafted

By Ben Gauld

 

State officials, in both Ohio and Michigan, are furious after reports of maggots being found either in the food served to inmates or in dangerously close proximity to where the food is prepared. The link between the two incidents? Aramark.

Aramark is a food services provider that recently signed lucrative deals with both Michigan and Ohio to handle the preparation of the food served in each state’s penal system. Both deals are worth over $100 million. Ohio paid $110 million for Aramark to provide food services to the states prison’s from September 2013 to the end of June 2015 whilst, last December, Michigan shelled out $145 million for a three year pact with Aramark. However, it appears that both states are already having buyer’s remorse.

Since signing the contract with Aramark last September, the state of Ohio has already levied $272,200 dollars in fines due to poor conditions surrounding the preparation and distribution of the food while Michigan imposed $98,000 for similar reasons.

The Michigan Department of Corrections deputy officer, Randall Treacher has accused Aramark of consistently running out of food and making unauthorized substitutions when such shortages do occur.

The state of Michigan claims that their contract with Aramark will save the state between $12 million to $16 million over the duration of the contract. However, the slashed budget resulted in 370 state workers losing their jobs. The result has been an understaffed operation that has left prisoners highly dissatisfied with the quality of their meals.

The conditions of the food served to prisoners in Michigan caused them to protest this February. Two-hundred prisoners at Kinross Correctional Facility marched single file into the courtyard and protested for 25 minutes before returning to their cells. The executive director of Michigan Corrections Organization union, Mel Grieshaber, expressed concern over the quality of food being served in prisons in Michigan. “I hope they get things worked out, because when it gets warm out … we’re just fearful something might kick off” he said. From 2002-12, US prisons have been responsible for 49 outbreaks of foodborne illness resulting in more than 100 ill, according to the Center for Disease Control. Because of our countries questionable past when it comes to food safety for prisoners, his fears are justified.

Grieshaber felt that the quality of the food was unfair not only to the prisoners, but to the guards tasked with maintaining the safety of the institution. “These guards don’t get frequent breaks and often have to eat the food served at the prison themselves” he said. He also seemed concerned about the prospect of restless prisoners which could potentially lead to violent confrontations between inmates and security. He also maintained that, just because the inmates find themselves in prison, doesn’t necessarily make them bad people. “I’d say around 80% of the guys in (prison) are good guys who have made mistakes in their past…they deserve to be treated humanely.”

Because the organization at fault here, Aramark, is a for profit corporation, minimal expenses and corner cutting are incentivized as it makes them more profitable. Aramark is publically traded meaning that it has an obligation to make as much profit as it possibly can to please its shareholders.

A senior attorney with the Food Safety Program at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, David Plunkett said that the fact that Aramark is a private enterprise doesn’t necessarily mean the quality of their service will be any worse. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s privatized or not. The people who get those contracts ought to be doing a good job.” However, in this particular instance, it is apparent that the privatization of the food industry in correctional facilities has created unsafe conditions for inmates across the country.

Governor Rick Snyder (R) faces pressure from both the political left and right to end the contract and place the food services of prisons back into the hands of state workers to ensure the safety of the inmates. State Representative Sam Singh (D) claimed the states contract with Aramark “only serves to jeopardize public safety”, a sentiment echoed by State Senator Tom Casperson (R) who said that he is concerned “not so much (with) the money, as the safety.”

The unsanitary and generally poor service provided by Aramark has causes Michigan to rethink its contract. Due to the fines imposed on Aramark for various malpractices, the Michigan Department of Corrections is determining whether or not to terminate the contract or, if not terminated, how to rework the contract to ensure higher quality service to the states inmates. However, it didn’t get terminated because we can’t have our governments corporate sponsors feel alienated lest they stop funding our politicians campaigns. Michigan instead appointed an “overseer” to the process which has resulted in Aramark employees pay raises averaging $2 per hour coupled with more workers training and a 20% increase in staffing. It’s shocking that their punishment is being forced to do things they should have been doing anyway but such is life.

While we may call ourselves the “land of the free”, the United States holds 25% of the world’s prison population while only containing 5% of the world’s population. Despite the overwhelming amount of people incarcerated in this country, they still are an easy political target for budgetary maneuvering due to the dubious notion that “because they committed a crime, they deserve whatever misfortune that befalls them.” Frankly, this is bullshit and there is a reason our constitution outlaws cruel and unusual punishment. Prisoners deserve, at the very least, humane treatment during their time in the penal system and, for blatantly failing to provide it, the contracts Ohio and Michigan signed with Aramark should be terminated immediately. Sadly, things don’t work as they ought to in our countries political process. After all, money talks, bullsh*t walks and a gigantic, multi-corporation like Aramark surely has enough money to buy a whole lot of megaphones.

Ravenna’s Greeter

By Sage Bitter

 

If you frequent the Ravenna Neighborhood, it’s likely you know Larry. Mainly because Larry is not the kind of guy who lets you walk by without a greeting. Or, if you don’t seem to be in a hurry, an update on the weather. Larry Jorgenson as he tells it, was “Born in Renton, 1953.” Displaying his second most used catch phrase after his greeting “Hi! I’m Larry!”. By splitting his time at the Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center where he has a monopoly over the bench by the door, and in the center of Ravenna Park at a bench by the wading pool, Larry welcomes as many people as he can each day.

Larry has a cognitive disability, but it in no way changes how he has tirelessly fulfilled his duty to “greet the people” in Seattle for about the past thirty years. Since that time, he’s become a beloved fixture in the Roosevelt and Ravenna community. As Tom Ewings, from the Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center said, “Larry knows people from when they were kids, and now they have their own kids”.  Ewings also mentioned that having someone with a disability, like Larry, in the neighborhood, bridges a gap; leading to a more inclusive and positive community. Larry is a television weather aficionado, as well as a basketball enthusiast and an 80s pop/rock listener. And when he offers his routine cheerful greeting with a smile and s a wave, it’s hard to resist the urge to smile back in return. Larry makes people feel welcome wherever they are, from the lobby of the community center waiting to drop off their kids at daycare, to the forested ravine. When asked why he addresses each person that comes by, Larry said, “It makes me happy.” There couldn’t be a better reason than that.

Larry has made his mark on the neighborhood, and Ewings said on the days he’s not at his bench, the question he is asked most often is, “Where’s Larry?”.