Posted in Kat's Newest Posts

Hard Times: Embracing the Struggle

Kat’s Music and Comics Corner Vol. 2 Issue #13

It’s here. The dreaded finals week. The end of the semester that feels more like the end of the world. Everyone around me is sleep-deprived, highly stressed, achingly hungry, and on the cusp of a mental breakdown. I’ve had my share of late nights in the 24/7 hours Leonard Lief Library cramming with friends and what I’ve learned is that peace of mind in college does exist as long as you do your assignments as soon as you get them, attend all classes (and pay attention, duh), and study at least four hours a day… it really works… in a perfect world. Which we don’t live in. Anxiety and depression exist. Death and heartbreak. And the bane of every college student’s existence– procrastination. So, how do we achieve this seemingly impossible peace of mind with all these things coming at us? My coping mechanism is always music.

While you’re huddled at home or in the library with coffee running through your blood a pretty poppy tune to get you through it is Paramore’s “Hard Times”. Hayley Williams’ lyrics tell the story of a struggle with self and with others. That’s what we all go at this time of the year especially as people who are just trying to figure out if what we said we wanted a year ago is what we wanted now. That goes for careers, friends, lovers, and even family members. Things that we have been neglecting or are toxic. These are the things that she sings about. “Hard times, gonna make your wonder why you even try/Hard times, gonna take you down and laugh when you cry/These lives, and I still don’t know how I even survive.” She’s basically singing about how life ain’t easy and how it can be a cruel captor of your time, love, and energy. The song is kind of ironic because it’s a super upbeat 80s jam vibe that fools you into thinking that everything is hunky dory when really it’s spiraling downward and we’re about to hit rock bottom. That’s the mystical and funny thing about music. It could be lyrically about something sad but it can make you break out into song and dance.

The reason why I wanted to share this song at the end of the semester was that I felt like, as a struggling, emotionally distraught college student, others like myself would appreciate the throwback to a musically amazing decade and also the painfully relatable lyrics. I hope when you listen to this song it empowers you to push through the deadlines and the brutal exams. To all those who read my blog, thank you for making it all the way to the end of the semester with me. You’re the real MVP. Kat out (for now).

– Kathryn “Kat” Fornier

Posted in Kat's Newest Posts

Lo Que Siento: The Spanglish Deconstruction of Toxic Masculinity

Kat’s Music and Comics Corner Vol. 2 Issue #12

I took three years of Spanish back in high school and you’d think, at this point, if someone were to approach me speaking solely Spanish that I would be able to hold my own. Ha… no. It’s truly shameful because had I actually dedicated myself to my studies I would have gained a really useful language skill, but even better, I would have entered the beautiful world that is the Spanish language. I’ve always thought the Spanish language sounded super romantic and spicy, but I didn’t realize how poetic it could be. Then, I heard Cuco’s “Lo Que Siento” and now I can’t stop listening to it on repeat. There’s no better season for this level of audio cheese. 

So it’s cuffing season. I just recently learned what that is. It’s the season to pair up with someone and become a couple. It’s funny how much like wild animals we can be. Searching for someone to mate and hibernate with to survive the winter. It’s an emotional survival of the fittest. Cuco’s music is a healing balm for the cracked, crumbling souls longing for love. I will admit the first time I heard “Lo Que Siento” I didn’t really like it. I thought it was so corny and cliche, way too saccharine for my tastes. But then, like a victim of cupid’s bow, I got trapped in love’s spell and all the sickeningly sugar-coated sentiments in Cuco’s song became endearing and real. Both the English and Spanish lines are written pretty well, but it’s lines like “Sin ti mis días son largos y se sienten tan amargos (Without you my days are longer and they feel bitter)/Me ahogo en un lago de mis lagrimas que hago (I drown in a lake of tears that I make)” that really make me want to curl up in the fetal position, eat a pint of Häagen-Dazs, and silently cry.  Cuco, real name Omar Banos, is only 19 but his lyrics are so blatantly filled with sensitivity and vulnerability, which is something bold and even dangerous for a young, Latino male to express openly about.

The best part about Cuco’s “Lo Que Siento” is that it’s a public display of a young man’s emotions for someone. In a culture where you’re supposed to be filled with machismo or male pride, Cuco shows other young men that it’s cool and a-okay to cry and be lovey-dovey. I mean, his twitter handle is @icryduringsex which kind of speaks for itself. These types of personality traits would usually be shunned in the Latino male community and be considered something to be ashamed about. Often times, in music both visual and audible, women are overly sexualized and objectified so it’s refreshing to hear Cuco’s romantic ode to his beloved. We need more music like this to break down and dispose of toxic masculinity. ‘Lo que siento’ translates to “How I feel” and I think that’s all we really need to hear rather than “What I desire”, “What I want”, or “What I lust”. Not that those aren’t normal things to feel, but I think that there should be more recognition and attention for feelings and emotions of the young men in our urban community. These are our fathers, sons, teachers, politicians, artists. We need to nurture them, not emasculate them by feeding into the idea of toxic masculinity and machismo. 

– Kathryn “Kat” Fornier



Posted in Homepage, Kat's Newest Posts

Eet: Today’s a Bad Day (And That’s Okay)

Kat’s Music and Comics Corner Vol. 2 Issue #7

It’s like forgetting
The words to your favorite song

How could someone forget the words to their favorite song? All those hours of practicing the words and getting the rhythm down seem to have gone to waste because now you’re sitting in your car, the radio is actually playing your favorite song on an oldies station and as soon as the singer begins you freeze. We’re human and it is inevitable as humans to err, but another thing about us humans, we love to try and be perfect. Probably because of pressure from our parents, friends, teachers, or society. We’ve got to have flawless skin, perfect white smiles, and carry all the knowledge our fragile heads can possibly bear. We are sometimes made to feel like making mistakes will completely obliterate all of our progress, but that’s not true. On days when things aren’t going your way, whether you’re running late on a heinously delayed subway train or you forgot that today was your exam that you happened to not study for or like Regina sings, you forget the words to your favorite song, all we can do is two things: cope and hope.

As I usually preface with all the bands and artists I talk about here in my blog, Regina Spektor is one of my favorite musicians. She’s an angel. Her voice is so gentle and pure, she can play the piano nicely, and her lyrics are either unsettlingly eerie or silly or really beautiful. It’s hard not to fall under the spell of her music. Far is my favorite album from her and although there are other tracks on this album that I like more, I felt like this one really related to the way I feel today. I woke up this morning exhausted from small hours of sleep throughout the week, late night outings, night classes, and exercise. My little sister was my alarm this morning. She always reminds me to wake up at 7 AM to feed my cat, Mishu, if I don’t wake up on my own. I can barely keep my eyes open. I go to the kitchen, see that the litter box has crap in it, so I clean it out accidentally spilling some litter on the already litter covered floor. My little sister who woke me up is snapping at my other littler sister and I try to intervene and then she snaps at me. I grumpily disengage and go back to sleep. Well, I try to and then my mother comes into the room to nag me about how my side of the room is a hot mess. Which is true, but I pretend to be asleep even though I know she knows I’m awake. I just want to disappear. I want this day to be over and it’s only just begun. It’s these little things that crack away our sanity and test our ability to handle high stress and not so ideal situations that sometimes (most of the time in my case) we put ourselves in. Sometimes the darkness almost wins and like Regina sings, “You spent half of your life/Trying to fall behind/You’re using your headphones/To drown out your mind.” We have to find the thing that brings us to a place of calm or at least escapism to deal with all these things that come tumbling down on us. Sometimes we just have to exit.

Right now, I’m on my way to work and I’m one of the lucky ones who actually like their job, co-workers, and boss. But not all of my friends and family are as lucky as I am. Some people are working two or three jobs and sometimes even one terrible, overwhelming job is enough to put you in an emotional grave. It’s the season of fall and that means you can try to avoid from falling down, but like the leaves in this autumn, you will succumb to a bad day, as will everyone around you. It just happens. The best we can do is find that one thing or person that calms us and hope for the day to end kindly. Trudge on my college mates, we can make it through this bad day.

– Kathryn “Kat” Fornier

Posted in Kat's Newest Posts

I Kill Giants: Fighting Your Demons

Kat’s Music and Comics Corner Vol. 2 Issue #11

If you asked me what my favorite comic is I’d probably say a tie between Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga or Rick Remender and Wes Craig’s Deadly Class. Two of the best (if not the best) comics out there on the shelves for both their writing and their art. But if you asked me what my favorite graphic novel is I would kinda cheat (because technically it is a comic as well) and say I Kill Giants. So it’s technically a comic and I was gifted all six single issues by my cousin/best friend (Best. Gift. Ever.) but when I first discovered it it was at the Midtown Comics in Grand Central. My original first semester block buddy and I were perusing the graphic novels and he pulled out I Kill Giants. He then proceeded to give a short but enticing description of the story. He pretty much sold me the book in that very moment because I took it out of his hands and said, “I’m getting this”. I did get it that day and it was a decision I would never grow to regret.

Joe Kelly and JM Ken Niimura really built a masterpiece together when they wrote and drew I Kill Giants. Kelly writes character dialogue effortlessly and the clever metaphors he’s written into the story for Niimura to portray through his art are so well thought out. But by far Kelly’s greatest accomplishment in this book is the creation of Barbara, our main biting, bunny-eared female protagonist. If Barbara was a vegetable she would be an onion because she is written with so many layers (ogres have layers and so do girls). She’s the kind of character who will be brazenly rude and insult her gym teacher’s sexuality in front of the entire class but she’s also the kind of character who will resort to self-harm to unhealthily cope with her problems. She puts up a strong girl facade and even as resilient as she really is, Kelly doesn’t let us be completely fooled by her sharp-tongue and rough exterior, he let’s us see her at her most vulnerable. Niimura’s art really compliments Kelly’s writing style. Niimura has an original style that finds a happy medium between a manga-style and a comic-style that’s so whimsical and loose. It’s crazy how a couple of lines can speak volumes. I really feel the emotions in the pages in both the words and the art.

Throughout the book Barbara is constantly battling these giants that only she can see and it’s never explicitly said whether or not they’re real or imaginary, *SPOILERS AHEAD* but if you read between the lines you figure out that what she’s really battling is her demons. Barbara, like me, has depression due to her problems at home. Her mother is cripplingly ill and eventually passes away. Barbara copes with this by “killing giants” but what she’s really doing is trying to fight the waves of depression from drowning her. I’ve personally and luckily have never experienced the death of a loved one, but this story gives me the strength to know that it’s possible to live through it. It won’t be easy, but it is something that can be healed over time and although the fight with depression never ends, there are things and people and a life worth living for.

– Kathryn “Kat” Fornier

Posted in Kat's Newest Posts

Junky: “Boy, You Better Treat Me With Respect”

Kat’s Music and Comics Corner Vol. 2 Issue #10

Usually I alternate from writing about comics and music each week, but there is this boyband that I have been listening to nonstop and I couldn’t wait for next week to write about them. So instead of writing about a comic this week, I’ll be writing about a rap collective based in California called Brockhampton. Originally formed in Texas, the thirteen members talked via Facebook and decided one day to move into a house together to form a boyband. Some of the members are artists and designers, some double as producers and rappers/singers. The vocalists of the band include Ameer Vann, Kevin Abstract, Dom McLennon, Merlyn Wood, Matt Champion, JOBA, and Bearface. Each vocalist brings something different to the table and they all come together each with an individual unique sound  make such a fire sound. Bearface’s sweet sounding voice and Kevin’s sultry power vocals and Ameer’s smooth, deep voice and Merlyn’s in-your-face rapping and Dom McLennon’s strong lyrics. And then there’s Matt Champion’s rap verse in Brockhampton’s album Saturation II from the song “Junky”. It’s a very topical song that covers all kinds of serious issues like drug addiction and homophobia in the rap game, but Matt Champion’s verse about rape culture has a really strong message that I feel needs to be highlighted.

I watched this interview by MTV of Brockhampton and I found out that the rape culture verse was actual a personal subject for Matt Champion. You can tell from the lines in the verse that it’s something that Champion really cares about and feels strongly about He raps, “I hate these shady folk that want a ladylike/But don’t treat lady right, but they be sayin’ like just the tip”. He calls out the men out there who have forced women into having sex and doing things they don’t want to do. I feel like this topic is so important and relevant in today’s world. For those who keep up with the Twitterverse, #MeToo was circulating around and it was starting a lot of discussions and it did a great job of raising awareness toward something that often goes unvoiced or ignored. Champion continues by rapping, “And yeah, you mad ’cause she ain’t f*ck, mad ’cause she ain’t suck/Beat your a** before you got time to say “why not?” I used to have the erroneous idea that I had to please and listen to everything my partner wanted even if it made me uncomfortable or if I didn’t even want to do it, but as I’ve learned through discussion with other women I’ve come to the realization that it’s okay to say “No” and if a man doesn’t respect your wish then he’s doing something wrong, not you. Matt Champion’s anger toward men who feel like they’re entitled to a woman’s body feels like righteous fury that fuels the feminist in me. And he goes on to rap, “Where the respect? Is your a** human?” I share Champion’s frustration. I don’t think there’s any excuse for sexual harassment or rape. And I don’t like getting political, but some of the dumbest, most ignorant comments about rape have come from the mouths of politicians, men in power, men with influence, men. Champion ends the verse by expressing his frustrations with a death threat to any potential rapists and sexual harassers. My best advice to men like that is to heed Champion’s words:”Respect my mother, ‘spect my sister, ‘spect these women, boy.”

As a woman who has experienced some of the things that Matt Champion raps about, this song has a special meaning to me. A personal meaning. The line that I use in the subtitle of today’s blog is actually from Brockhampton’s song “Gold” from their album Saturation but I felt that it really applied to the subject at hand. I actually wrote a poem recently in dedication to all those who participated and also to those who were spiritually a part of the #MeToo. It’s entitled “A History of Touch” and I’ll be performing it at Obscura’s Open Mic Night next week Wednesday on November 29th. You should come through and see me and all the other amazing performers. Also, don’t forget to give Brockhampton’s “Junky” a listen and while you’re at it their whole discography (keep an eye out for Saturation III).

– Kathryn “Kat” Fornier