The OC Blog Back Issues Our Mission Contact Us Masthead
Sudsy Wants You to Join the Oregon Commentator

“Graham cracker logic”; a media digest special on the Emerald magazine and Student Insurgent.

Here’s my look at the two most recent campus magazines: the Insurgent and Emerald Magazine. Expect the end of the term to bring you a couple more: Our holiday issue and, I assume, a new Ethos.

Das Kapital

The revolutionary dialectics espoused by Toy Story on VHS

Finding a song on your iPod that doesn’t conjure memories of an ex-boyfriend (p. 5). Getting angry at people who post Facebook status updates about their pets (p. 13). Worrying about your post-collegiate job and housing prospects (p. 15). All of these things, evidently, are part of the “Thought Revolution” the Student Insurgent proclaims to provide (Inside cover).

The Insurgent, which put out its most recent issue on Monday, actually has little to do with revolution, of course. Instead, it constitutes an extended meditation on the core of the most privileged, bourgeois interpretation of the college experience: “finding yourself,” or less euphemistically, growing up.

“I wondered if anarchism is an ideal which we hold fast to after growing up in a childhood which had no boundaries (like I did), being shocked by the sudden introduction of authority into our adult lives,” a prisoner writing to the Insurgent and identified only as “Nathan” muses (p. 4). Perhaps, that is, we’re all just going through a phase, and how nerve-wracking is that? This, rather than its stated mission of creating an ecological and egalitarian future (p. 2), appears to be the guiding mantra of this Insurgent.

Not only is the uncertainty of growing up the theme here, it’s not even a particularly revolutionary brand thereof. Contributors write about shaking off chrysalid drug habits (p. 6) and memories of ex-boyfriends (p. 5). Its “10 (other) Commandments” (p. 13) are not revolutionary dogmas, but rather admonitions for pet campus peeves. Anti-“jeggings,” anti–”name-dropping,” anti-leaving class early; hardly anti-establishment. Cimmeron Gillespie takes a tangent from the plight of the homeless to share his anxieties about his own post-graduate future (p. 15). The magazine’s advice: “Committing crimes in front of a police station may lead to incarceration” (p. 18). Disney videocassettes are called “classic” (p.10).

I bet the Zapatistas do not own many classic Disney videocassettes.

There are exceptions. There is a pro-stealing piece on p. 21, although it comes from a writer who is seemingly in Akron, Ohio. Then there’s “conservative corner,” (p. 7) Philox Liddel argues in favor of abolishing women’s sufferage, blaming it for, among other things, inflation. That’s right, the only true political piece in this supposedly revolutionary magazine calls for a virulently reactionary backward shift in public policy.

I hope someone from the Siren, the only publication on campus that is serious about revolution, catches wind of that. Speaking of which, the least revolutionary campus publication also hit stands recently.

The boy with the cold, hard cash is always Mr. Right.

The Insurgent cannot hide its fundamental philosophical uncertainty, Emerald Magazine‘s core philosophy is utterly tangible: the strategic deployment of consumer products will better your life.

The centerpiece, the manifesto, is provided by a profile of a free-range turkey farm (p.16). It starts by creating an Orwellian mythos around a 1943 Norman Rockwell painting.

The grandmother and her husband probably raised the turkey themselves, ensuring they would enjoy a healthy, delicious bird on Nov. 27.

In the past, families either raised their own turkeys or got one from someone they knew.

In 1943? Really? I’ll call my grandma after I write this and ask whether she knew anyone who raised turkeys in WWII-era Columbus, Ohio, and post a retraction if I’m wrong, but I think someone is misinformed about the 1940s.

What follows is a whirring, matter-of-fact description of the specialized machinery that kill a free-range turkey — “kill, scald and pluck station. … kill cones … scalder … a bin lined with pegs that spin around to remove the feathers … evisceration table … a utensil called a lunger is used … to remove the lungs and the rest of the gust … quality control … slow-chill tanks.” A fuller excerpt is at the bottom in an appendix because it contains a darkly amusing error.

Then the commercial strategy of the farm is hagiographed. “‘It’s healthy mentally as well as physically.'” The mythos is cemented with “Like Norman Rockwell’s painting, sometimes staying nearer to the original is a better bet.”

The article isn’t online, but it’s not really complete without the juxtaposition with the display advertisiments on the page anyway. Because, and I’m not being cynical here either, the Emerald magazine’s chief purpose is to sell advertising.

The gristly turkey-slaughter description is greatly enhanced by the ad for “nude hours” next to the article. We’ve got decorating and party tips for Christmas parties next to a notice on Career Center registration; the Divine Cupcake calls to us alongside descriptions of a gingerbread Autzen Stadium; gift ideas are attended by an ad for Oregon Football-themed furniture; a winter beer review has a green box at the bottom asking “Depression? Anxiety? Eating disorder? ADD/ADHD? Relationship Problems?”

There’s an outlier: a somewhat out-of-place ode to a hip hop dance troupe.

Appendix: a humorous excerpt. The author tries to warn us, but doesn’t go far enough. Emphasis mine:

Those who would like to keep their appetite [sic] for their Thanksgiving turkey are advised to skip the next paragraph. But those who want to have an understanding of the process, continue reading.

Just outside the butchering facility is the kill, scald and pluck station. Normally a two-man process, the turkeys go head down [sic] into kill-cones and have their necks slit. It takes about one minute and thirty seconds for the turkeys to bleed out, then be moved to the scalder. [Glad I skipped that.]

The scalder has 140-degree water with a rotator that is designed to loosen the feathers. After the scalder, they are put in a plucker, which is a bin lined with pegs that spin around to remove the feathers. The blood, guts and feathers all get composted. [That wasn’t so gruesome.]

From there, the birds move inside. Their feet and heads are removed at the evisceration table [odd evisceration technique] where incisions are made to clean out the turkey. Next a utensil called a lunger is used to clean out the inside of the turkey, and remove the lungs and the rest of the guts. [Probably the most gruesome paragraph.]

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.