New wave might be thought of as a sound of the past, but with his debut album, Ethiopian-born Kenna shows that it can be very current.
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New wave might be thought of as a sound of the past, but with his debut album, Ethiopian-born Kenna shows that it can be very current.
Late on a Tuesday afternoon, the doorbell rings. Through the peephole are two college-aged men dressed in slacks, short-sleeve white button down shirts and ties. Each clutches a book in his left hand. Enough noise has been made that they must know that someone is home, so I open the door. The taller, skinnier, more awkward looking one introduces himself as Elder Johnson*. His friend, he says, is Elder Stewart. Elder Stewart, who is slightly short with all-American good looks, stands at the bottom of the porch; Elder Johnson does all the talking. "Hi, how are you today?" "Did we wake you up?" "It's a beautiful day today, isn't it?" "So what are you studying?" "Do you know about the Book of Mormon?" I try to be polite with their questions, but I'm late for a meeting and I know, without any consideration, that I am not interested in what they have to say. "I really need to get going, sorry," I say as I slowly step back from the door and begin to close it. "OK, we understand, we know Penn kids are busy. Here, why don't you take our number." Elder Johnson pulls out a small sheet of paper that says: What is the purpose of life? What is the true nature of God? Can families be together forever? Where do we go after this life? Answers to these and other eternally significant questions can be found by visiting www.mormon.org We'd love to have you visit us. On the flyer, he writes down their number, even though I tell them I do not want it. They are persistent, but not pushy. After I shut the door, I look down at the piece of paper and realize that, though I am not interested in converting, I need to know more.
Mike Skinner, the British rapper better known as The Streets, moves across the stage, violently shaking a bottle of beer over his head, and spraying its contents all over himself and those near the front of the stage, without missing a lyric. He sings, shouts, and raps into the microphone as his body pulses with the music. Six hours earlier, when Street sat down for an interview with Mike Skinner, he was calm, quiet, laid-back. Are you surprised by your success? Yeah, I mean in the U.K., it started off really slow. It kinda grew slow and gradually got big. People weren't getting into it really. Then it kinda grew slowly, so it wasn't really surprising. But in America that was a lot more surprising, because for one, I didn't think they'd be able to identify with the it. Again it's moving slowly but I think because you're so far away, that the leaps that it takes, it's surprising. Why do you think U.K. acts have such a hard time making it big in the U.S.? Well, I think that anyone has it hard making it big in the U.S. and I think anyone has it hard making it anywhere. And I think, you know, the U.S. bands can cater to U.S. tastes and they have those tastes and there's always going to be different tastes in different countries. And that's why the U.K. band can do better in the U.K. than America. And also I think there's a lot of U.K. bands that try to do America on American terms and the ones who do work, that really do get embraced, are the ones who do it on their own terms. I think America really, they respect that. What do you think of the whole 'bling bling' culture? I just think it just reflects what those people want. It's interesting, bands like, you know, I think, if you've kinda grown up with nothing, the first opportunity, you're gonna try to get everything, so you know, even though the rappers don't really represent what normal people do, they represent what they want, and that's just as important. Although I don't think bands should always necessarily be about talking about things that everyone knows, but that can be good. If you talk about things that people want that's good as well. The bottom line is that all those bling bling records, people buy them. The one thing I've realized is that you can't make people buy records that they don't want to buy. So, I don't know. You know obviously, that's my strong point, not a lot of people have been doing the reality stuff lately. And that's quite refreshing and interesting. But I think that if everyone was out there was doing stuff about normal life, it would all be a little too ordinary wouldn't it? And if someone came along talking about stuff like bling bling, it'd be really exciting. Id on't think it's that what I'm doing is better, it's just so different, that it just makes it more interesting. How tired are you of being compared to Eminem? Not tired, I mean its something that everyone asks me who interviews me. I think that you have to be compared to someone. Do you think it's based on race? Yeah, well I think maybe in America. It's more of an issue in America. No one mentions the color of my skin in England. In America, they do pretty much every time. So that's just something that I think is in the American psyche. That's just cause the color of your skin, you can tell a lot more about someone by the color of their skin. In America, it's more safe to assume that if you're black, you're from that background, and if you're white you're from that background. But in England, that's no berring. There's people from all walks of life, from all cultures. It's a lot more integrated, England, a lot more integrated. So I think in America, you can be more sweeping. MTV quoted you as saying that you could go "toe-to-toe with Eminem anytime." Do you think you're a better rapper? No no no, that was quoted out of proportion, I think we were talking about drinking. That's the thing I've learned as well. You can have a conversation with someone and they'll take four words and blow it up. And that particular quote, once someone's got that, once I've said that, then it can be turned, and I hope it won't work against me. And I'm sure eminem can appreciate that and read between the lines. But no, I don't think I'm a better rapper than Eminem at all. But I think I'm more of a kind of a storyteller. I like the beat as well, but I'm more about the whole song. So you think you can drink more? I'd drink him under the table. Who would win in a fight? He'd probably beat me in a fight. Do you have a dream list of other artists you'd like to work with? I don't really believe in meeting your idols. I've got idols but I don't actually think I'd be that [excited] about working with them. The way I work is quite independent and quite focused and another person working with me, I wouldn't get the same results I don't think.
On a cold Wednesday night, David (name changed at his request), a 21-year-old Wharton senior, pounds beers, smokes weed and scouts potential hook-ups at a fraternity party. After several rounds of drinks, he abandons a game of beer pong and strolls into a dark bathroom to relieve himself. A girl he does not know eyes him and follows him in. They start to make out while the party continues on the other side of the wall. By the time David leaves the bathroom, he will have known her quite intimately, while still unsure of her name. Throughout his education, David has been bombarded with statistics about the risks of unsafe sex and the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 65 million Americans are living with an incurable sexually transmitted disease. Two-thirds of all new STD cases every year occur in people under the age of 25. For the first time in ten years, the infection rate of HIV has risen. These numbers may scare David, but not nearly enough. He rarely uses protection -- despite having multiple sex partners. It has been two weeks and a day since David had unprotected sex in that fraternity bathroom. Early on this Thursday morning, he heads to 1201 Chestnut Street to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases at the Philadelphia Community Health Alternatives. After spending four years worrying about grades and internships, he is now motivated enough to find out if his sexual habits have in fact impacted his physiological health. "I actually wanted to do it right now because I had slept with a girl unprotected, and I feel like if the girl would let me do that, well then, maybe she has been having a lot of intercourse on her own," David says. While his worries are specifically about the sexual history of this one partner, he is less concerned about his own past. "If she's been having a lot of intercourse on her own, you know, before me, then I just feel like that kind of increases the chances because she wouldn't make me wear a condom. And I was a little nervous about that. I feel like that might have been kind of slutty on her part and so I wanted to get tested." While her failure to ask him to wear a condom makes him think that she might be a "slut," he excuses his own carelessness by saying that he just got caught up in "the heat of the moment." As David waits in the sparse reception area of the clinic, he tries to remember what he did the night before. His head hurts, his memory eludes him and he does not think that he hooked up with anyone, but is not certain. Eventually, a counselor motions for David to follow, leading him into a tiny room furnished with only two chairs and a table covered with safe-sex pamphlets. Of the experience, he says, "They put me in a room all by myself with an STD counselor, and she just started talking to me about STDs and asked if I had any questions. She made me feel really comfortable. She asked me about my sexual life, how active I am." But soon the counselor began to highlight the realities of his sexual negligence. David recalls, "She sat me down and said, 'I want to ask you a question. What would happen if your results came back HIV-positive?' I first blew that question off, but we got back to it, and the first thing I said was, 'I know I'll be able to live a normal life, but then again, any girls I sleep with, they could get the disease from me, and I would never want to do that. I wouldn't want to give someone a disease like HIV. If I was positive, I would like to think that my life wouldn't change, but inevitably, it would.' It's just one of those things that you don't think about, you don't talk about, but you've got to face. It's just reality. I need to escape from this invincible world." Being young and feeling untouchable sounds a bit cliched, but David has taken this as truth. "I kind of feel that at my age, that I'm invincible and nothing can hurt me or bring me down. Nothing can stop me. And also, the whole notion that I'm at Penn, what goes along with that is that the girls I've had sex with, I know they came from a good background, good families, good neighborhoods." If David is at all representative of Penn students, they assume that because everyone here is smart, they can make a stupid decision without risk. But now, David is facing the error in his thinking. While he has had unprotected sex with multiple partners in the past, the fact that those partners may have done the exact same thing is what makes him feel vulnerable. After speaking with the counselor, David is brought into another room where a doctor draws his blood to test for syphilis. It is during this step that he may bring a friend, partner or family member for support or company. The blood sample is followed by a urine sample which tests for for chlamydia and gonorrhea, a less painful method than the previous one of inserting a swab in the penis or cervix. For the HIV test, David is given a choice between another blood sample or an oral swab. He chooses the swab, which picks up the mucous membrane from the walls of the mouth, offering a less intimidating, painful way for those nervous about being tested. After all the samples are taken, David drops his pants so the doctor can check if there are any visible signs of herpes or genital warts.
Welcome to the gayborhood, where the grass is greener, the street is cleaner and the people just a little bit gayer. Bar crawling between the blocks of 11th and Broad streets, and Pine and Walnut is an experience not to be missed whether you're gay, straight or everything in between. So if you're looking for a mac-tion packed night on the town, here's a little guide to the scene where Philly's brightest flames burn.
Comfortably settled on our West Philadelphia campus -- in our Logan Hall classrooms and Freshgrocer shopping aisles -- it is easy to forget how much of Philadelphia we Penn students avoid, or just don't see. We certainly would never trek out to Ridge Avenue to check out who's behind the bar at Mr. Chip's Lounge. We don't even bother striking up conversations with the likes of Harry Ochs, the friendly Reading Terminal Market butcher who dishes out recipes with every cut of meat.
Morcheeba follows up Fragments of Freedom, their disco-infused pop record, with a mellower and richer album that grows more interesting with time. While not as instantly likeable as their previous works, Charango's layered tracks cannot be fully appreciated with the first listen. Adding more horns and the eponymous charango -- a small guitar made from an armadillo shell -- to their trip-pop acoustic/electronic mix, Morcheeba have succeeded once again at reinventing their sound.
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