Life on the Edge

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Mar 312010
 
Authors: Dave Anderson
 Posted by at 5:34 pm

The most illegal game: CSU alumnus, filmmaker plays volleyball over border, risks life in prison

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Mar 312010
 
Authors: Anna Baldwin

In 2006, Brent Hoff faced a life sentence for participating in a game of volleyball.

His lawyer advised that if he, a documentary filmmaker, hit the first volleyball over his makeshift “net,” that he could be put away in prison. And that was if he could get close enough to the net to do so.

This was not the typical volleyball net. Rather it was made of metal with razor sharp barbed wire at the top and protected by guards with guns.

The net more commonly serves as the fence on the boarder of the United States and Mexico, at the San Diego and Tijuana border.

Sending anything across international borders without clearing customs could have resulted in a felony charge for Hoff. After three volleys of the ball, he’d be subject to mandatory life imprisonment under California’s three-strikes law.

“How funny would that have been?” Hoff, a Fort Collins native and CSU alumnus, said. “Getting sent to jail for playing volleyball?”

Hoff was not originally supposed to partake in the game, but said he had to fill in after the professional team he hired failed to show after having reservations about the gig on the drive over.

The international match, played with several Tijuanans on the other side of the border, served as material for the short film, titled “Wallyball,” for Hoff’s quarterly DVD magazine Wholphin.

Eventually “Wallyball” debuted in 117 countries and was showcased on the Wall Street Journal’s Web Site.

Hoff and his friend, Team USA, won the match 15 to 13 over Team Mexico. No bullets flew and no one went to jail.

The road to Wholphin

The journey to cofounding Wholphin in 2004 is as interesting as it is random, said Hoff, who insists he has been completely unqualified for everything he’s ever done.

Hoff graduated from CSU in 1991 with a degree in political science, which he recalled as a wonderful, relaxing four and a half years where he “played a lot of volleyball and Frisbee golf, played in a band and had a lot of nice ski trips.”

“That is pretty much my entire memory I have of it,” Hoff said. “I felt like it was a little bit like a holding pen before people had to get jobs and act like adults.”

After graduation, he moved to San Francisco to play in a punk band. Though the band didn’t last long, Hoff would pen the book “Mapping Epidemics,” which chronicled the history of disease outbreaks, without any previous writing experience.

Eventually, Hoff would swap coasts, moving to New York in 1999, where he started dabbling in independent films while working on a documentary about heavy metal musicians.

Hoff got his break into the film and TV writing business after a chance encounter with Madeleine Smithberg.

The co-creator of the Comedy Central show “The Daily Show” overheard Hoff in a New York restaurant telling a friend about dolphin rape and gave him her card.

“You have to put yourself in the position to be lucky like that and to meet people,” Hoff said.

He was offered a job on the show, where he worked for about a year as a producer and writer.

But Hoff would eventually leave after being fed up with what he called “mean television.”

“I remember sitting on a plane with Steve Carrell and being like, ‘What are we doing, man? Is this going be our career? Going around the country and making fun of people? That’s not very nice,’” Hoff said.

After leaving Comedy Central, Hoff tried his hand at creating shows for Nickelodeon and “really bad reality shows for VH1.”

Eventually Hoff was ready to move on to something different, some serious filmmaking where he didn’t have to have any bosses and he could control the stuff he made.

The 4,000-pound wholphin in the room

A Wholphin, Hoff said, is a rare species of animal –– a cross between a 400-pound bottlenose dolphin and a 4,000-pound false killer whale.

And when he and friend Dave Eggers looked to develop an electronic magazine, Hoff said he wanted a name that would embody the type of films they wanted to feature and what type of films they were looking for.

“I was looking for films that were amazing and unusual and beautiful, and I realized I was looking for cinematic wholphins,” Hoff said. “It’s impossible to spell, impossible to pronounce, so very unusual, and it’s like a whole different product –– exactly the films we wanted.”

Wholphin is a collection of short films that Hoff said don’t really have a place outside of their initial small venues, as well as films that the magazine produces or directs itself.

“We tried to figure out why for a lot of short films there wasn’t a place to see them beyond the film festivals,” Hoff, who is currently the editor, said. “We wanted to try to get these films out.”

The films featured on the DVDs are from many countries across the globe, and all feature unique topics. Several of these include a crying competition, where the first person to get a tear to hit the table wins, and the most humiliating breakup ever.

On their most recent issue, one film features the world’s most dangerous jog, where astrophysicists perform an annual nude run from their Antarctic compound to the South Pole marker –– about 90 meters.

“I’ve been able to make a lot of silly short films, and it’s been really great,” Hoff said. “It’s not really about educating people. It’s really about showing great films. It’s about showing the things that I observe.”

Hoff also said the films cover prominent social issues. His inspiration behind creating “Wallyball” was to demonstrate the only thing the border fence was good for: a volleyball net.

Wholphin will have an Asian tour in the fall and issue 12 is in the works.

As for Hoff, he’s recently written two scripts –– one about a 3-D giant squid and another about the last days of Old Dirty Bastard –– but he’s also looking into directing.

“I’m starting to do more Hollywood stuff, and hopefully it won’t suck my soul dry,” Hoff said. “I’m also venturing into directing. But it’s really hard to get people to give you a lot of money for a film, so we’ll see.”

Hoff said he’ll continue to travel and “see great films and enjoy meeting interesting people.”

“I’ve always had this blind optimism … and that’s probably why I’ve had the success that I’ve had,” Hoff said. “And if you want something bad enough and you put yourself in a position to have a shot at attaining it, chances are you will get that shot.”

Staff writer Anna Baldwin can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:29 pm

KCSU DJ Profile: DJ DJ

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Mar 312010
 
Authors:

Real name: Dan Frelly
Show: 1 to 3 a.m. Sundays

Q: Years at KCSU?
A: Only a few months

Q: Favorite music genre?
A: A lot. Punk, garage, lo-fi, noise, ambient, folk and even a bit of gangsta rap. I went there.

Q: What’s your favorite album right now?
A: Harlem –– “Hippies”

Q: What’s your favorite artist or album of all time?
A: The Nimwits

Q: Favorite concert this year?
A: The Strange Boys at the Hi-Dive. Simply delightful.

Q: Why should people listen to your show?
A: I have the voice of an angel and the play the music of gods.

 Posted by at 5:07 pm

KCSU Top 30

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Mar 312010
 
Authors:

1. Broken Bells –– “Broken Bells”

2. Free Energy –– “Stuck On Nothing”

3. Fang Island –– “Fang Island”

4. Gorillaz –– “Plastic Beach”

5. Javelin –– “No Más”

6. Radar Brothers –– “The Illustrated Garden”

7. Frightened Rabbit –– “The Winter Of Mixed Drinks”

8. Liars –– “Sisterworld”

9. Rogue Wave –– “Permalight”

10. Monster Movie –– “Everyone Is A Ghost”

11. Love is All –– “Two Thousand And Ten Injuries”

12. Donora –– “Donora”

13. Local Natives –– “Gorilla Manor”

14. Mimicking Birds –– “Mimicking Birds”

15. Lightspeed Champion –– “Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You”

16. Black Tambourine –– “Black Tambourine”

17. Twin Tigers –– “Gray Waves”

18. jj –– “jj no. 3”

19. Groove Armada ­­–– “Black Light”

20. Happy Birthday –– “Happy Birthday”

21. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club –– “Beat The Devil’s Tattoo”

22. Quasi –– “American Gong”

23. Electric President –– “The Violent Blue”

24. Xiu Xiu –– “Dear God, I Hate Myself”

25. Ruby Suns –– “Fight Softly”

26. Whigs –– “In The Dark”

27. Standard Fare –– “The Noyelle Beat”

28. Strange Boys –– “Be Brave”

29. Besnard Lades –– “The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night”

30. Joanna Newsom –– “Have One On Me”

 Posted by at 5:05 pm

Flobots not quite ready for a big kid bike

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Mar 312010
 
Authors: Ian Mahan

Before the Denver-based band Flobots consider having a guest singer appear on an album, maybe they should consider putting the handlebars and training wheels back on its bike.

Or wait for another presidential election to come around.

“Survival Story,” the follow up to the band’s 2008 breakthrough album “Fight With Tools,” might have the band scrambling for survival.

All of the lyrical creativeness that made “Fight With Tools,” a unique blend of hip-hop and alternative rock is completely drained from “Survival Story.” Musically, the band presents itself as the Flobots, but throughout the album there are times the band seems to lose itself.

On “White Flag Warrior,” featuring Tim McIlrath from Rise Against, the band implements the use of a banjo, which takes away from the overall anti-war message that the band is trying to convey simply because its annoying.

“Good Soldier” and “Superhero” bring plenty of creativeness to the table as far instrumentation goes, but once again, lyrically the Flobots seem to have nothing important to sing.

Overall “Survival Story” isn’t awful. However, it’s just not quite on the same level of the expectations created by “Fight With Tools.”

The lyrical shallowness of the album alone calls into question whether or not this Mile High City six-piece only has a political agenda or if there’s something beyond the dropping of bombs that gets these incredibly talented musicians going.

Either way, there’s no handlebar bike tricks coming from this band anytime soon.

Music reviewer Ian Mahan can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:03 pm

Deep in election poo

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Mar 312010
 
Authors:

Among the biggest issues being addressed in this year’s student government elections: Dog poop on the Lory Student Center Plaza.

Ben Weiner, who supports the campaign of David Ambrose and April Ragland for the top two spots in the Associated Student’s of CSU, filed a formal complaint against the campaign of Cooper Anderson and Jennifer Babos after one of their two campaign mascots –– lap dogs –– defecated on the plaza.

The complaint alleged that campaigners did not pick up the dookie, but covered it up with snow, which goes against Fort Collins’ animal cleanup rules.

Weiner writes in his complaint, “the leaving of fecal matter from an animal, whether owned by the temporary handler at the time of said incident or not, is a clear violation of the Fort Collins Municipal Code, and in turn the (Associated Students of) CSU Elections Code.”

This grievance was part of a barrage of complaints filed against the Anderson/Babos campaign by members of the Ambrose/Ragland ticket. It seems ironic that these allegations were filed directly after a number of fines were assessed to Ambrose and Ragland the night before. The criticisms are being hotly debated in the elections committee, which effectively prolongs the elections process.

Despite the fact that the turd did go uncleaned against city ordinance, the complaint is clearly counterproductive, especially given the nature of some of the other allegations –– like copyright infringement –– being thrown around in the campaigns.
Excuse the pun, but it’s like Weiner found a rotten peanut in a steaming pile of poo.

If campaigners are going dedicate large portions of their time to finding dirt on the other candidates, maybe they should look at the issues that matter.

 Posted by at 4:22 pm

Water privatization is globally inequitable

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Mar 312010
 
Authors: Wade McManus

If you have lived in Colorado long enough, you are probably aware of the water issues we face. The problem can be summed up in one word — scarcity.

Fresh water is disappearing around the globe from excessive consumption, poor water management and pollution. As early as 2025, two-thirds of the global population may not have access to fresh water.

A terrible trend has started in the previous decades that make this scenario all the more frightening. Around the globe the responsibility of water management has fallen into the hands of multinational corporations like Coca-Cola, and their French corporations, Suez and Vivendi. Realistically, they have scrambled to win the right to water.

They manage the water business just like you would expect any corporation — to maximize gains. Just like any resource, the price of water goes up while it grows scarcer. And the global elite aim to make as much money as possible with disregard for social consequences.

In many impoverished nations the global financial institutes like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank coerce privatization.

Under mandate, corporations often adopt an infrastructure constructed and paid for by government, and they move in with promises of improving efficiency and water quality. But time and time again, they fail to follow through.

When water falls into the hands of corporate interests, the price jumps and the quality often worsens. The global poor are being out-priced for access to water.

In much of the global south families pay two-thirds of their monthly income for water, and in others, many people are denied access to a faucet.

The actions of these corporations should be considered criminal, yet they are predictably backed by neoliberal trade organizations like the World Trade Organization. Likewise, they have a monopoly of face time with global governing bodies like the United Nations and buy their endorsement.

They have entrenched themselves in the global water business.

Corporate elite smugly claim that privatization is the way to alleviate problems of scarcity; the market after all will balance itself. But water is not a commodity like soda.

Market economics do not account for social consequences, and people should not be denied access to water on the basis of poverty.
Economic incentives do not consider those who lack the ability to pay. Water should flow where it is needed and not to the highest bidder.

Some assume that privatization of water is necessary for effective management and the technological innovation needed to conserve fresh water sources and to distribute it rightfully.
This has not proven to be the case.

After privatization, there is a failure to maintain the water distribution infrastructure resulting in a massive loss of useable water, and in reality it would be in the corporation’s interest to even further limit access to fresh water to drive up the price (though I hope no one would be so perverted).

Much of the technology created to deal with these issues has compounded the problem. Desalination plants pump out billions of gallons of “clean water” (though concern is rising over its cleanliness). It also creates billions of gallons of a poisonous by-product that is pumped back into our oceans, not to mention increasing the concentration of salt in the very water that they are try to desalinate.

Private corporations are not equipped with the incentives or mindset needed to ethically conserve fresh water resources and to distribute it equitably.

Water is viewed as a human need that is sure to have a reliable market, and trillions of dollars are horded collectively. CEO’s and stockholders are making a fortune while the global poor are to drink the water those corporations contaminated.

Water is the basis of life and a human right. To deny access to water is to deny access to the right to live well.
Reversing this frightening trend will require water to be viewed not as a private good, but a public trust.

Wade McManus is a senior political science major. His column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 4:19 pm

We need protection, regulation to prevent financial collapse

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Mar 312010
 
Authors: Samuel Lustgarten

There’s no denying our explosion of wealth. Our American economy’s gross domestic product has grown from $2.8 trillion to a little more than $14 trillion between 1980 and 2008. Unfortunately, much of that wealth is clotted in the top 1 percent of the population. Free-market capitalists balk at this idea, claiming we’ll see it “trickle-down.” But the other 99 percent are waiting. They’ve been waiting for thirty years.

Brash arrogance in the financial world led to a climax of grandiose proportions. In a lucrative world of high risk and high reward, the markets imploded.

As a country, we’re still reeling on both sides of the aisle because of this recession. But there are some who have been spared the horrors of lost homes, unpaid bills and a decline in the quality of life. From about 2001 to 2007, the 400 wealthiest
Americans saw their collective net worth increase from $1.0 to $1.6 trillion. Meanwhile, average salaries for workers declined by $2,000.

Hallelujah for capitalism, prosperity and the free-market; none of which exist, except in disgusting mutations of their once well-intentioned hope.

Adam Smith, credited as the founder of capitalism, warned against monopolies and the possibility of runaway competition. Walmart is a prime example; as it moves into any city, with tremendous pricing power, mom-and-pop stores disintegrate.

The free-market, touted by the likes of CNBC’s Larry Kudlow, is non-existent. We subsidize our agricultural industry –– undercutting most of the world’s prices. Then, in the ultimate hypocrisy we demand the destruction of tariffs through capitalist arms like the IMF and WB.

Prosperity has come in a perverted, deregulated economic model founded by Milton Freidman. Friedman, who served on the President’s Economic Policy Advisory Board for Pres. Reagan in 1980, coerced American politicians into deregulating the financial industry. Since then, five recessions have claimed the financial lives of this nation.

A plutocracy has flourished –– unstoppable if we don’t act soon. With the wealthy in power, they’ve elected leaders that appoint
Goldman Sachs CEOs to be Treasury Department heads. Pockets are lined and lobbyists violently disrupt the fundamental idea that politicians should represent the people –– not corporations.

Instead, we have representatives who are evil sooth-sayers; appeasing the lobbying gods. Power is ripped away from the people and given to the wealthy.

When $700 billion of TARP money was requested by the frail, reeling banks, we caved and gave them what they wanted. The banking industry had convinced our politicians that full-scale meltdown would occur if we didn’t save them. Rather than securing their assets, companies like AIG paid out $450 million dollars in bonuses to top executives.

The boom-and-bust cycle is widely criticized, and one proponent for regulatory reform is Elizabeth Warren, Prof. at Harvard Law School and Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel on the financial bailout.

Warren is a hard-hitting lawyer who has made a living defending the middle class in bankruptcy cases. Now that she’s asking questions about TARP and the Timothy Geithners of the world are beginning to squirm. The ways the money has been spent have been largely undocumented, unlawful and unjustified.

This is the Wild West. Until we establish a sheriff who will have complete oversight and regulatory power, the regular investor and middle class have no hope.

Markets will continue to be manipulated, short-term profits will be maximized and the profit-model, which results in the systematic firing of employees, will be hailed as the best thing since sliced bread. If we don’t change it now, we’ll likely see another recession within 10 years.

Unregulated capitalism inherently leads to more losers than winners. Executive pay has skyrocketed compared to average wages. Our financial heroes and success stories breed a society motivated by monetary wealth. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are rich beyond belief, but their money came from defeating smaller businesses and cutting the extra “fat” (firing employees).

This amoral behavior is commonplace, but there’s a better way. Regulatory reform is our prescription. The opportunity is upon us. Strides are being made, and things like the Credit Card Act of 2009 are a testament to our ability to fix this ailing, predatory system.

Don’t be swept up in the falsetto of financial freedom. Arm yourself with education –– and for God’s sake, unionize.

Samuel Lustgarten is a junior psychology major at CSU. His column appears weekly in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 4:14 pm

Ram Talk

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Mar 312010
 
Authors: Compiled by Heidi Reitmeier

To the guy next to me buying Justin Beiber tickets on a computer in the library: Are you kidding me?

Have you noticed at the new rock wall that 90 percent of the people climbing on the big wall are chicks and 100 percent of the guys leaving have a kink in their neck. Coincidence or perspective?

Craigslist Personals: For when drunken nights at a party just isn’t enough to get you laid.

Can anyone tell me how getting a bunch of people to wear the same shirt daily for more than a week is going to make me more likely to vote for you?

April is the month men are separated from the boys. The men still have mustaches.

 Posted by at 4:04 pm

Ambrose, Ragland ticket assessed additional fines

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Mar 312010
 
Authors: Kirsten Silveira

The elections committee found presidential candidate David Ambrose and his running mate April Ragland guilty of allegedly campaigning before the official start of elections and assessed a fine of $75 Tuesday night.

The complaint gives evidence of e-mail correspondence between Ambrose and Tim Campbell, president of Students for Concealed Carry at CSU, in which Campbell promises Ambrose and Ragland an official endorsement.

The e-mail, sent March 2, explicitly requests Ambrose explain how he plans to address the issue of concealed carry on campus, a practice the CSU System Board of Governors banned last semester. The policy will officially go into effect on or before August 1.

Earlier that same night the duo was assessed a $25 fine for allegedly posting libelous comments about a competing campaign on their Facebook page and a $50 fine for allegedly violating residence hall guidelines regarding the distribution of platform handouts.

Another hearing, in which the committee will determine the “fair market value” sending the handbills to all dorm residents, will take place on Friday.

Ambrose and Ragland will have three business days to pay all fines, amounting to $150, assessed during Tuesdays meeting.

__Senior Reporter Kirsten Silveira can be reached at news@collegian.com._

 Posted by at 6:36 am