Sunday, June 29, 2014

Athfest 2014

Having recently graduated, I have found myself back in Athens.  Though I still consider Athens my home, a lot has changed while I was away falling in love with the small town life and history of Milledgeville.  I was able to keep in touch with Athens through weekend visits and recent publications claiming its status as one of the south’s best kept secrets.  As I return and begin my adult life where I spent all of my adolescence and childhood, I hope to share my findings here so others may see what a magical the Classic City is.  

I can’t think of a better place to start this journey than with the annual Athfest music festival.  Originally started in 1997 to promote music coming out of Athens, Athfest has always been an important weekend for the community, as well as myself personally.  The glorious Pulaski Street stage is where I saw Perpetual Groove and Reptar play for the first time.  It’s where I, along with many others, celebrated the music the Modern Skirts had given us as they played their final show.

The Pulaski Street Stage, seated where Washington meets Pulaski, is where I spent most of Friday night.  My friends and I set up camp at Ted’s Most Best to enjoy Reptar, Family and Friends, and Judah and the Lion.  Not being too interested in battling crowds, Ted’s proved to be a great spot.  We were able to hear and see the bands, while enjoying refreshments in the form of Ted’s phenomenal sangria, $2 PBRs and, of course, King of Pops.

I ended the night at the Georgia Theatre for Dead Confederate.  This was just my third or fourth time in the theatre since their reopening in 2011, and I am still amazed by what an incredible building this is.  If you haven’t visited the gallery, located behind the upstairs bar, you really must.  This is my favorite spot and an amazing reminder of all of the history the Theatre holds.

I spent most of Saturday hopping from place to place with friends visiting from out of town.  At Little Kings I got the pleasure of seeing Life is a Flower, Life is a Gun (as well as enjoying a pick-up game of cornhole).  These guys are not to be missed.  They’re eclectic mix of instruments make for an amazing sound.  If you, like me, are a sucker for string instruments, this is a must listen.

Much of Saturday was built up around seeing Kishi Bashi that evening.  The once member of Of Montreal, Kaoru Ishibashi, graced Athens with his presence and did not disappoint.  NPR recently had his new album, Lightght, streaming and it was constantly filling the walls of my small Milledgeville apartment.  This album is perfect for a Sunday Summer Drive.

Further Reading--For more on Athens and the music scene check out these posts:

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Why the world needs more female anti-heroes

With this weeks release of “Maleficent,” we see a rise in popularity of a female anti-hero, someone who is seen as a protagonist though they lack the noble and respectable qualities that make a person such.  Through shows like “Breaking Bad,” “Dexter,” “Mad Men,” and “Boardwalk Empire,” we have learned to embrace and root for the anti-hero, but only when said character is a man.  In our society, women are taught to be likable and the majority of female protagonists are portrayed this way.  When we see a woman doing the morally corrupt in order to get what she wants, we view her as selfish and entitled.  Though these women are ones we may not want to come across in our own lives, it is important that media portray all sides of women.

An argument could be made for each of the four protagonists (Hannah, Jessa, Marnie, and Shoshana) in HBO’s series “Girls.”  This is a show that resonates with me and many of my twenty-something peers because the characters find themselves in familiar situations--struggling with finding a job in the current economy, awkward dating scenarios, the ups and downs of female friendships--which are depicted more honestly than they usually are in media.  We are used to seeing women in more stylized situations and are often made uncomfortable by seeing these characters more realistic reactions.

Nancy Botwin is perhaps the closest we have, at least on this list, t0 a female Walter White.  The series “Weeds” picks up after the death of Nancy’s husband when she finds herself in a financial rut.  Through the first seasons audiences applauded Nancy for finding a solution to these problems, even if it meant growing and selling marijuana.  Unfortunately for Nancy, society sees mothers as a symbol of morality.  We have a much easier time letting it slide when a male character is depicted as being a bad dad, thus audiences shied away in later seasons when Nancy became more self-focused and was willing to put her family in dangerous situations to better herself.

Having been a high schooler hellbent on being the hippest girl in school (I strongly believed a love of “Garden State” was all there was to it) when “Juno” came out, I was ecstatic several years later to hear Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman would be teaming up once again.  What may be the worst quality of Young Adult’s Mavis Gary, is that she knows how terribly and immature she is acting, but has no plans of changing her ways anytime soon.

“Masters of Sex” was one of my favorite new shows this year and a lot of that had to do with Lizzy Caplan’s portrayal of Virginia Johnson, one half of the groundbreaking team of sexologists Masters and Johnson.  One quality of an anti-hero is that they violate societal norms while continuing to succeed in society.  Though this show is set in the 1950’s, Virginia must overcome many restrictions women in the workplace still battle today.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Unslut Project

eUnslut Logo
by Taylor Solomon
Emily Lindin was first called a slut in 1997 at the age of eleven.  Her middle school began to fill with rumors that she and her boyfriend were having sex, which soon turned into rumors that she and a number of boys were having sex.  She was labeled “the middle school slut,” and torment and bullying (both sexual and emotional) stemmed from her new reputation, which followed her through high school.  Lindin began the Unslut project in 2013, by creating a blog where she posted diary entries from when she was ages eleven to fourteen.  She is sharing her story hoping it will help people be aware of slut shaming and sexual bullying and how often they occur.  In an interview with the blog Qual Pipe, Lindin listed two goals of the Unslut Project.  First, “to serve as a resource to girls who are currently victims of sexual bullying.” And second, “to spread the word to as many people as possible that slut shaming is appallingly prevalent on an individual and societal level, and that it is up to us to change our view of female sexuality as a culture.”
Lindin’s middle school experience is relatable, whether you were bullied or not.  She writes of note passing, dances, and school trips.  The ways she and her classmates talk to and treat is other is reminiscent of how my friends and I acted at that age.  Considering I was not in middle school until five years after Emily, I’d venture to say kids still treat each other similarly.
emily lindin
Not only does Lindin talk about herself being bullied, you can see times in her entries when she is mean to a classmate or calls someone a name based on whatever their own reputation may be.  This goes to show how common of a practice this is and how easily we can be the bully without even realizing it.  Though the people in Emily’s entries are middle and high schoolers, an adult can still read them and see ways in which they may need to reevaluate their treatment of their own peers.
One thing I found interesting reading through Lindin’s blog was how much they relied on the internet as a tool to bully one another.  And this was in 1997–their main options were e-mail and instant messenger, though there is the occasional free website made in order to harass or call out a single student.  Lindin has said the hardest entry to read and share was one about a friend of hers making an instant messenger screenname, “DieEmilyLindin,” and then using it to anonymously torment her.  Social media has progressed so much since then, making a source that was already easy for adolescents to get their hands on, that much easier for them to turn to.
Lindin’s project is one that I believe is very important and I look forward to supporting.  Her website has now grown to include a section where people may share their own stories of sexual bullying and a blog where she writes posts on the topic.  She just finished production on the movie, “Slut: A Documentary Film,” in which she speaks to sexologists, psychologists, and media figures on how we can shape society so that words like slut are no longer used as insults. 
You can read Emily’s diary entries at

Terry Richardson: Modeling Nightmare

by Taylor Solomon
If you are familiar with the fashion world, then you have more than likely seen the photography of Terry Richardson.  Richardson has photographed countless celebrities including Chloe Sevigny, James Franco, Gwen Stefani, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, and even President Barack Obama.  He’s worked for publications like VogueGQ, and Rolling Stone and brands including Marc Jacobs and Tom Ford.  He even directed Miley Cyrus’s now infamous “Wrecking Ball” music video.  His style of photography is simple and recognizable with high commercial success, but there is a reason these big name brands should stop fueling his fame.
Starting in 2010, several models have come forward saying that Terry Richardson sexually assaulted them during a photo-shoot.  The models who participate in these shoots are often “unknowns,” and are therefore less familiar with the work and more willing to do whatever they can to make a name for themselves.  The acts themselves are vile and demeaning, and just when you think you’ve heard them all, another model speaks out about an uncomfortable experience she’s had with Richardson.  The allegations include everything from Richardson asking a model to be nude and simulate oral sex on a man present at the shoot to Richardson asking models to perform sexual acts on himself.
Liskula Cohen (pictured above) stated that in twenty-four years of modeling, the only time she walked out on a shoot was with Terry Richardson.
“He made me feel as if I was a prostitute…I want other girls who read this to know that if you do something like this, you will survive, but it will haunt you.  I have scoured the internet for these images and thankfully they are nowhere to be found.  But it haunts me in my own mind…That shoot was nearly twelve years ago and it still outrages me…I am a forty-one year old mother and this is how my work experience with Terry has left me.”
Terry’s work has often sexualized women, even when working with celebrities.  Take his 2010 GQ photoshoot of Glee stars Cory Montieth, Dianna Agron, and Lea Michele.  Montieth is photographed completely clothed and playing drums while Agron and Michele are shown in skimpy outfits and provocative poses.   Similarly, GQ used Richardson for a 2012 spread of Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston where Rudd is seen wearing a suit, while Aniston poses in a bra and mini skirt.  This is a pattern in Richardson’s photography: men are fashionably clothed while women are scantily clad.  In the same way Montieth was photographed with a drum set, his photos of men often include sets or props that play off of what that particular celebrity is known for.  In a 2011 issue of GQ, Derek Jeter is pictured standing with a baseball bat, and in a 2010 issue, Jeff Bridges is photographed in a sweater reminiscent of his iconic role in The Big Lebowski.
Gossip Girl
Recently, Terry Richardson spoke out regarding these claims for the first time, calling the whole thing an “emotionally charged witch hunt.”  He explains that sexual imagery has for a long time been a part of his work, and he has chosen to only work with consenting adults, all of whom signed release forms. The latter here is particularly interesting considering model Sarah Hilker described the girls at one of his shoots as being “so drunk they could barely stand, never mind be of sound mind to sign a model release form.”  It is also important to make the point that, though he takes a stance against these allegations, he never denies anything.
notbuying it
People have already started to stand up against Terry Richardson.  H&M, who in the past have used him to shoot advertisements, say they have no plans to use him in the future.  In hopes to shame big companies, Jezebel has published a list of all of the magazines who have chosen to use him since the first claims in 2010.  Lena Dunham, who in the past has been socially linked to Richardson, recently said in an interview “I’m not big on regrets, but I regret posing for Terry Richardson.  As for being friends with him, he’s not and never was my friend… I’m also not in the business of being BFFs with alleged sexual predators.”  There is currently an online petition reaching out to these big name brands and asking that they choose not to use Richardson’s photography in the future.  It is important that in a world that can look past claims and assaults when they pertain to so-called artists, we have the strength to stand up for what is right.
Originally written for:

Friday, March 7, 2014

10 Things to do for International Women's Day

Tomorrow, March 8th, is International Women’s Day, a holiday for celebrating the women in your life and the many political and social achievements of women.  As this holiday is so important to me, I wanted to share some ways to celebrate.

1. Enjoy women in all forms of media.  Watch “Persepolis” or “Iron Jawed Angels.”  (Both available on iTunes)  Read Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich or, one of my personal favorites, We Killed: The Rise of Women in American History, and oral history collected by Yael Kohen.  Listen to Carly Simon, Carole King, and Joni Mitchell.

The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago
2. Educate yourself on women’s history.  There are many museums devoted to women’s history like the Women’s Museum of California and the National Museum of Women in the Arts.  If you can not make the trip to one of these places, you can always visit the International Museum for Women online and enjoy the knowledge their website has to offer.

3. Host a dinner for your friends.  Cooking a meal is a great way to make yourself feel appreciated, while doing the same for others.  Plus nothing goes better with friendship than food.

4. Let the women in your life know they are appreciated.  Call your mom.  Send your best friend flowers.  Write a thank you note to the professor who mentored you through college.  These are ways to acknowledge others which are simple, but still incredibly effective.

5. Pamper yourself.  If you are a follower of my writing you know I am all about the Treat Yo Self and I can’t think of a better day to show you some love!  Whether it be taking a warm bubble bath, going for a sunny walk, or curling up with a mug of tea to watch your favorite series of Netflix for the millionth time, care for yourself by doing what you want.

6. Wear a purple ribbon.  Purple is often a color used to represent women’s rights or empowerment.  Wear a ribbon to publicly show your support.  If others ask you about it this is a great opportunity to share this cause with them.

7. Donate.  There are many organizations working to educate the population on women’s health and social issues.  Giving your time or money to these groups can be a huge help to them as well as make you feel accomplished.

8. Write a letter to a company that uses sexism in their advertisements.  You were given a beautiful empowered voice, use it!  You never know when it could be your words that really make an effect on these companies whose image can be so powerful in media today.

9. Write a letter to a company who shows a commitment to gender equality.  As important it is to voice an opinion when you believe something is wrong, it is just as necessary to show an appreciation of those who you believe are doing the right thing.  Often times if people are acknowledged for something they did in the past, they’ll continue to act that way in the future.

10. Teach a younger girl in your life how it feels to be empowered.  Younger generations are so important for our future.  Take the time to teach someone younger than you about women’s history and what we can still do to make an impact.

Originally written for Under Athena's Wing.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Under Athena's Wing

I have started a new blog, Under Athena's Wing, to document some of my more feminist musings.  Please check it out!  It was just updated with some of my thoughts on the Winter Olympics.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Stay Together for the Kids

While reminiscing on when I started a blog to write solely music I had to go back and read this post.  Blink-182 is still one of my favorite shows I've attended.  Hope you enjoy my thoughts on their reunion in 2009.

I am extremely excited about Blink 182’s reunion.  In early middle school, I was familiar with songs like “First Date” and “All the Small Things” and I really liked them.  The summer after 8th grade, we went on a trip to Disney World.  The large Virgin Records Store that sat on one end of the Downtown Disney strip held inside of it “Blink 182’s Greatest Hits” on sale for seven bucks.  How was I supposed to pass that up?  I purchased the album, and just like that.  I was hooked.  That was in 2005, the same year the Tom DeLonge left the band.  I had settled with the fact that I would probably never see Blink live, but the next summer I was able to settle for the next best thing.

2006 was the year I became obsessed with Fall Out Boy.  I was somewhat late in the game, but I listened to “Take this to Your Grave” like it was going out of style and led those around me to think I had been listening since it first came out.  Once I heard they were headlining, all I thought about was the Honda Civic Tour.  I wanted to go badly, but I didn’t hear much about the other acts until much later.  I did some research to figure out who they were.  Cobra Starship (I knew one song), The Academy Is… (I knew their lead singer was rather attractive), Paul Wall (I liked “Grillz” and I knew he had something to do with it), and then there was +44.  Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker.  Two men I longed to see, for a long time.  I was so excited and thought they did an awesome job at the show, but that’s not the point.  Blink is back, and I am psyched.

At this point, I can’t say that I will like their new stuff, but I can’t wait to hear it.  I’m also hoping that this time around I will be able to fulfill my dream of seeing them live.  I think this is a great time for Blink to reunite.  This is a time where bands that are considered pop punk and even just punk, are nothing more than straight up pop.  But not with Blink on the scene, this is a chance for younger generations, who have never had the chance to listen to Blink, to subject themselves to an awesome group.  But for now, we must sit and wait to see what sort of journey Mark, Travis, and Tom have in store for us.  Blasting “Dude Ranch” and “Enema of the State” the whole way.

Originally written February 11, 2009