There is nothing I love more than this temporary, unpredictable, inexplicable existence we all share.

When people say they aren't afraid to die, I can't relate, because I can't fathom losing the only existence I've ever known, and I don't have the faith to imagine something better beyond it.

The concept of the 'day' is how we most commonly organize our lives and process the passing of time. It is also a unit of measure for our successes, our failures, our growth. A fulfilling life should be filled with fulfilling days.

I plan to one day become tired (and satisfied) enough to willingly relinquish it all.

Fusion Youth Radio gives teens the mic (CH News- 7.18.12)

CHAPEL HILL - When Alex Stephens approached Carrboro High School student Jasmine Farmer last summer about a youth radio program he wanted to start in Chapel Hill, her first thought wasn’t a simple yes or no.

“I thought, ‘This guy is nosy’,” Farmer said.

“We were at (Carolina Brewery), and I was clearly talking to this female about how I do poetry with Sacrificial Poets,” said Farmer. “(Alex) heard me say ‘Sacrificial Poets,’ and he asked me if I wanted to do this audio thing over the summer. I thought, ‘That’s awkward.’”

Stephens co-directs The Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History, based in St. Joseph CME Church on West Rosemary Street. It’s involved with just about every activity in the historically black Northside neighborhood, from gentrification and downtown development, to education, to the writing of wills.

Upon hearing Farmer’s recounting of events, Stephens laughed.

“We were at the same table!” he said.

Nosy or not, Stephens’ dinner proposal would ultimately become a major part of Farmer’s senior year. She is now one of five student-hosts of the Fusion Youth Radio program, a partnership between the Jackson Center, WXYC and the spoken-word group Sacrificial Poets. Named after North Carolina’s biracial fusion politics movement of the 1890s, the show airs at 5 p.m. every other Sunday on WXYC 89.3 FM.

“For young folks who don’t have a lot of outlets to get their artwork out there, FYR comes in and creates a place where they are the stars and they are the features,” says Sacrificial Poets executive director Will McInerney.


Conceived just last summer and on-air by October, FYR came together quickly, the result of passionate directors, a strong core of youth hosts and producers, and a degree of serendipity.

For Stephens, it began with finding a team.

After meeting Farmer at dinner, he found two students through a Youth Leadership Initiative summer field trip, two through St. Joseph’s, and two more from Farmer.

Seeing the opportunity to both give their poets a voice and further their educational work, Sacrificial Poets reached out to Stephens. At Digital Waves Youth Media Festival in New York, Stephens and Sacrificial Poets program director Jacob Jacoby networked and watched a live audio slam competition, and returned to Chapel Hill with a better idea of how to pursue youth media production.

Still, an on-air radio slot wasn’t a necessity. Until the students made it one.

“The live show came out of the initiative of the youth,” says Stephens. “They wanted to do it.”

Almost on cue, WXYC station manager Nicole Campbell contacted Stephens. A mutual friend had mentioned Stephens’ youth radio project, and Campbell was interested already.

“Something that we struggle with at WXYC is trying to prevent ourselves from being so insular, and we want to reach out to the community, and that makes us relevant,” said Campbell. “It also makes radio more political, like it should be, in my opinion.”

By the fall semester, she was able to fit FYR into a biweekly Sunday evening slot.


“I learned a lot about editing and a lot about software, which is why I want to go to school for it now,” says Farmer. “And I learned how to write better. I think my poetry has gotten a lot better because I learned how to do more with narration.”

“I’ve seen evolutions in consciousness in the things they think about,” said Campbell.

Jones Franzel, who runs the Public Radio Exchange’s youth platform, Generation PRX, has kept an eye on the development of FYR since talking to Stephens last summer.

“What’s been so impressive about FYR is how Alex has really pulled things together quickly,” says Franzel. “They’ve been doing a real variety of work, and they’ve been great about sharing their work on PRX and finding an audience outside of Chapel Hill.”

According to Franzel, youth radio is a small but growing field, with just 50 or 60 youth radio programs currently operating in the United States.

These days, recruitment isn’t a problem. It only took one high school visit last fall before Stephens and McInerney were bombarded with applications.

“We were only looking for a couple folks, but we ended up with a handful,” said McInerney.

There is always room to expand, but for now, the primary focus is to improve on the program’s quality.

“This has been an amazing experience for me,” Stephens said. “It’s exhausting, but it’s also really fulfilling. I have a different sort of energy when I’m working with youth – when they’re excited, it’s hard to not get excited. And that really energizes me, and I want to keep working, keep pushing and trying to help them through these new artistic endeavors.”

Ryan Cocca is a student at UNC and the owner of Thrill City, a Chapel Hill-inspired clothing brand that helps fund local nonprofits like the Jackson Center. He can be reached atryan@thrillife.com.

SEA hat mocks for collaborations with UMichigan’s Theta Chi and Alpha Phi, and French online streetwear boutique Haute Culture. The spectrum of SEA relationships in a nutshell. 

Japan’s Uncomfortable Relationship With Young Girls

This past Friday, my younger brother and I headed into a city within Tokyo (because Tokyo is really like 23 cities combined) called Akihabara, mainly known for its obsession with young girls shopping . We left our apartment with really just one store in mind— a place called “Super Potato”— interested to see what kind of rare, supaa old video game equipment and memorabilia we could find.

Since a stunning revelation around age 15 or 16 I have been a big-time video game hater, but for some reason I can’t get enough of old video games and systems. For me, the worse the graphics are, the fewer buttons on the controller, the better. I don’t even like playing them so much as I like the idea of them. It’s weird, I know.

Anyway, considering that as my criteria, Super Potato was my kind of shop.

When’s the last time you saw this many Game Boy cartridges all at once? 1996? And this is just one part of one rack! This was my archaic video game paradise. Unfortunately, the staff at Super Potato had me figured out; in almost all cases, the older, more unsophisticated something was, the more it cost (true hipster logic). You could probably walk out of there with an XBOX and no one would bat an eyelash, but an original 1990 Virtual Boy that can’t be played for more than 10 minutes before burning out your retinas?? Try ¥12000 (~$140). If the trip to Akihabara taught me anything, it’s that Japanese society is creepy  if you own a gaming system, do not throw it away. That thing will probably double in value in the next decade. That’s like, $200 profit for the 10-years-from-now you. You’re welcome. 

Super Potato (and many of the other stores in Akihabara) turned out to be awesome, full of random, incredibly old video game merchandise that I can’t imagine the origins of (like the shrink-wrapped Mario doll above). Flashing signs, video game equipment old and new, huge crowds of people— as far as stereotypes go, it was a wonderfully Japanese experience. Little did I know how truly Japanese it would become.

Soon, as we ventured out of Super Potato and down Akihabara’s main strip, I started to notice one other uniquely Japanese cultural institution: the girls. 

Now, I’ve known for some time about weird Japanese attitudes toward young women (and really young women), thanks mostly to my parents. Stuff like old men with anime pillow girlfriends, high school graduates being able to sell their used underwear to old guys, you know, stuff like that. But I had never been faced with the young girl obsession quite like this. We walked down the street, and I swear at least one in every four shops had some kind of focus on young women, and only had male customers inside. Sadly… creepily… but predictably… video game shops seemed to go hand-in-hand with young girl shops, because honestly what goes together better than porn and video games? Above, we have a Playstation game that appears to be called 1/48 that involves you and a lot of girls in skirts.

Below, we have something that will probably (hopefully) make you pretty uncomfortable unless you are a seasoned child molester: wallet-sized pictures of teenage girls for sale. 

Now, I know what you’re thinking.

Isn’t that illegal?

Who actually buys them, and have they no shame?

And, How much do they cost?

To answer your questions:

Dear God I hope so, and if not it should be.

Creepy old Japanese men, and apparently not.

A little more than a dollar each, all over Akihabara.

What looks like an innocent collection of smiling girls, is really a wall of individually priced masturbation accessories! Good thing this guy brought a backpack, there’s a lot of quality merchandise in here. (Are you uncomfortable yet? Don’t worry, there’s more.) 

I hate to be so pragmatic about a topic so thoroughly creepy and disgusting, but I just have to play devil’s advocate here. Have these people never heard of the internet? I mean if you’re going to be a pervert you could at least be frugal about it.

Some of the newer products.

On-the-go dispensers. In case you’re wondering, yes, I felt pretty dirty taking pictures of all of these pictures. The picture below probably doesn’t even seem that strange to you anymore, because thanks to the last six your threshold for creepy has been elevated by about 400%. But trust me, it’s weird.

Told you.

Dolphin Divers looks like a good game (or tv show, or movie?). Meanwhile, the women of Akihabara (and men with jobs/less free time to buy high school girl pictures) continue on with their days. 

The Opposite of Loneliness


The piece below was written by Marina Keegan ‘12 for a special edition of the News distributed at the class of 2012’s commencement exercises last week. Keegan died in a car accident on Saturday. She was 22.

We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s…

(via arrozyfrijolesyo-deactivated201)

Our friend Susie killing it in Montreal.

Check out the mashup acoustic track from Leia Sadiku!

Ricky Powell is commonly known as the Fourth Beastie Boy and Def Jam’s unofficial chronicler. A New York native photographer, it seems logical that he has teamed up with PONY for a limited edition range of dunks that dropped in Berlin last week.

-Turner Gray