Posts Tagged ‘Mario Vergara’

Complaints? What complaints?

December 12, 2008

School spirit. We all know what it is, and chances are that after we graduate we’ll have some as alumni. But one of the first things I noticed upon arriving at this school was a serious lack of pride in its students. Sure, we all wear our school’s logo on our hoodies, and I was one of the multitudes jumping up and down singing “Oh When The Storm Comes Rolling In” at last week’s quarter-final comeback victory in Belson Stadium, but I can’t help but notice the amount of complaining St. John’s students do.

We gripe about our location, the quality of our education, the food, the residence halls, campus events, the basketball team, even the lack of attractive females on campus (well, at least we did before we saw this year’s freshman class, *wink*). In 2007, the Princeton review ranked our school #7 on it’s “Least Happy Students” list, the highest St. John’s has ever ranked in any Princeton Review list.

So what is it about our school that makes students so unhappy about going here?

For those living on campus at least, a major concern is the services the department of Residence Life provides resident students.

“Residence Life should provide students with four things: Good living conditions, quality food, entertainment, and safety,” said Andrew Scott, who lives in the townhouses, “St. John’s department of Residence Life has failed in all these areas.”

As far as good living conditions are concerned, students have found many faults in the living conditions in St. John’s dorms. For Andrew Scott, these problems manifested themselves in a leaking shower, cockroaches, several leaking air conditioning units, and sprinklers without caps in what were supposed to be brand new townhouses. “There was a lack of preparation for students moving into the townhouses. The construction wasn’t finished, and you could tell they cut corners when building them.”

Faulty plumbing and air conditioners are what you can expect if you’re lucky enough to get housing in the townhouses, but what about student’s who can even manage that? Last year, with two new housing facilities opening and a host of new places to live, housing selection was a disaster.

Louis Nicosia, a Junior, was one of the many given an incorrect appointment time last year. He said: “I was told that my appointment was at 8:30 a.m., which is a great time, and when I arrived they turned me away and told me to come back at three, when most of the housing was already taken.”

As for the food Residence life provides, St. John’s also gets low marks. Montgoris’ abomination of a cafeteria is one of the most reviled things on campus.

While the low quality of the food is what angers most residents, Montgoris’ trayless Tuesday and Thursday program is especially unpopular. Chartwells, the catering service in charge of Montgoris, claims that the money it saves by not washing trays it donates to the school’s midnight run charity program. “As a coordinator for the midnight run program I can tell you that we haven’t seen a dime from Chartwells” says Andrew Scott.

While Marillac cafeteria provides an alternative to Montgoris’ food (And this writer uses food in the loosest terms, it’s more like pig swill), and extremely popular thanks to the meal exchange plan that allows students to substitute one meal under the value of $7, It’s often crowded, with little food available during peak hours and nowhere to sit. “The Meal Exchange ends at 9:30, 10 minutes before night classes end,” said Michael Keenan, “There’s a very narrow window of time dictating when you can or can’t get food.”

There’s very little complaint by most students when it comes to entertainment, however, many complain that the school hemorrhages money into campus events, neglecting more important departments. “I was at an event that was attended by about eight people, and we each went home with an entire pizza and a load of cups and bagels,” said Keenan “that’s a serious waste of money. A lot of campus events are just people giving away pizza.”

Most unpopular of all with residents is the school’s visitation policy which students just love to complain about. Computer science major Kevin Whelan puts it best: “The University justifies the visitation policy as an instrument for keeping the students safe, but I think that with the Founder’s Village Townhouses, it’s clear that the University can treat its students as adults with regards to visitation without compromising their safety.”

The general opinion on campus is that students are treated more like children under the custody and care of St. John’s university rather than tenants who ware paying thousands of dollars to reside on campus.

So what’s the verdict? Are Student’s complaints justified? Answer the poll, and comment with some more complaints:

-Mario Vergara

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The Great Debate: Beirut or Beer Pong?

December 2, 2008

I’m tagging this entry as part of our “Beyond Gate Six” category, because nobody’s playing beer pong inside gate six, right? *wink*

It’s been argued back and fourth through time, but which do you prefer?

Beirut doesn’t suffer the negative connotations that the word “beer” brings, although it does sound a bit pretentious. According to the Daily Princetonian, the name Beirut came into existence during the Lebanese civil war, Beirut being the capital of Lebanon and the game being analogous to bombs being dropped or missiles being fired.

According to a survey conducted by College Humor, out of 44,938 respondents, 23.6% prefer the term “Beirut”, while 76.4% used the term “Beer Pong”.

So which is it at St. Johns?

-Mario Vergara

Stuff We’re Loving: The Ten Best Songs of 2008

December 1, 2008

Remember that song that goes “Ela, Ela, Ela, eh, eh, eh, etc”? How about the one with that cool ink-blot video about the guy who didn’t know if he was crazy or not? Of course you do, because those songs will forever be identified with the year in which they were released, but what about this year? Which songs will you hear on the radio in a few months and say “that is sooooo ’08”?

Le Deuxième etape of the Flashlight’s Best Of series focuses on the songs that defined the year in which proximity to Russia qualified you to be Vice President, regardless of whether or not you could point out Australia on a map. Some of them were top 40 hits, others were underground successes, and one of them is about seven minutes long, but regardless of what genre of music you listen to, at least one of them is likely to remind you of the year 2008.

10)T.I.- Whatever You Like

About a month ago, I was in charge of the music at a friend’s house party. His iPod didn’t have much to choose from, so I wound up playing this song about eight times throughout the night, but nobody seemed to care. Every time it came on, people embraced each other and sang along, and five minutes after playing it, people would still come up to me and ask me to play it again (although that may be because they were pissed drunk and couldn’t remember that they had just heard it). Between this song and “Live Your Life (Feat. Rhianna)”, you couldn’t turn around without hearing T.I.’s southern drawl, and justifiably so. As I said before, his album “Paper Trail” is his best work to date, and one of the year’s best albums, so it’s only right that this song spent seven consecutive weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 100.

9) Kevin Rudolf (Feat. Lil’ Wayne)- Let It Rock

As soon as Producer/Singer/Guitarist Kevin Rudolf released this song, America embraced it. Upon being sent to New York’s own Z100 radio station the song quickly became the station’s most requested song, as well as the New York, Miami, Los Angeles and Chicago markets. With no marketing or promotion, “Let It Rock” was featured by the NFL, the NBA, and Dancing With the Stars, until finally getting picked up by the Philadelphia Phillies, becoming the official song of the team’s World Series winning playoff run in 2008. Why did it become so successful? It could be the inclusion of feature-rapper-with-the-Midas-touch Lil’ Wayne, but it’s more likely that the song’s crossover appeal meant that it would be embraced by both hip hop and rock audiences. It has the swagger and production values of a rap song, but Rudolf’s subtle guitar licks and melodies denote a more danceable sound. Either way, this genre-defying track justly deserves it’s place amongst the year’s best songs.

8 ) Kings of Leon- Sex on Fire

This song went to number one in British, Australian and Irish charts. In fact, the only major English-speaking country it didn’t go to number one in was the band’s home, The United States. Nonetheless, it is still the Kings of Leon’s highest charting song in the U.S., and anyone who listens to K-Rock or any other alternative rock station has heard it at least once and fallen in love with it. Originally derided by both the band and the music press, the world embraced lead singer Caleb Followill’s vocals, and the song’s simplicity translated into a damn good pop song. Not bad for a bunch of boys raised by a Pentecostal minister.

7) Metallica- The Day That Never Comes

This album should be an honorable mention on our Best Albums list, as it is the best album the band’s put out since the Black Album, and this is the record’s finest moment. It may sound similar to “One” and “Fade to Black”, and it does have a similar structure, beginning as a slow-ballad before speeding up amid lead singer James Hetfield’s cries of “This I swear”, but it serves in reminding us of the band’s glory days, before the squabbles with Napster and the mediocrities that were their previous few albums. It serves in reminding us that this album is easily their best work in the last 17 years.

6) Estelle- American Boy

While Kanye spent the year whining about his problems through an auto-tune machine for his fourth album, he at least took the time to spit one decent verse in British singer Estelle’s immaculate “American Boy”. Produced by Will.i.am., who was also busy this year writing campaign songs for Barack Obama, the synth-heavy beat harks back to the days of the 1980’s, and there is nothing cooler than Estelle’s London accent giving shout-outs to every major American city, but what really makes this song is Kanye West’s rhyming skills, and it’s what made this song a hit. Shame his new album sucks.

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Stuff We’re Loving: The Top 10 Best Albums of 2008

November 30, 2008

Stuff We’re Loving: The Top 10 Best Albums of 2008

Ah, 2008, the year in which Obama was elected, the Giants won the Super Bowl against incredible odds, the Phillies won the world series (but no one cared), and when about 90% of us realized our majors aren’t going to make us any money in this economy and considered Pharmacy or Law school. But 2008 was also a vintage year in music, which is why I’ve compiled a list of the ten best songs and albums of the year. The list of songs is coming later, but for now, here are the Flashlight’s choices for the best albums of A.D. 2008. Feel free to agree or disagree, but, to paraphrase Mr. Adam Sandler in “The Wedding Singer”, I’ve got access to a blog and you don’t, so you will listen to everything I have to say. Enjoy:

10) Guns N’ Roses- Chinese Democracy

Chinese Democracy

I know, its not as good as we’d hoped. But it’s gonna be on everybody else’s top ten list, so I might as well put it on mine. You know the economy is in bad shape when Axl Rose doesn’t want to sink anymore money into this $14 million ego-trip of an album. Sure, everybody is gonna whine about how Slash is gone and no one can play guitar like him, but if there’s anything that listening to a Velvet Revolver album teaches us, it’s that Slash may have been the talent in the band, but Axl was the visionary. Nonetheless, Slash could sure put together a guitar riff, and without him, Chinese Democracy makes Guns n’ Roses sound like an Avenged Sevenfold cover band. But it’s an Avenged Sevenfold cover band with two decades of hype behind it. What’s better then that?

9) The Teenagers- Reality Check

Reality Check

No, it’s not Serge Gainsbourg, but this band of Parisian misfits do share his one-track mind. The lead single “Homecoming” was nicknamed by DJ’s “the Clap Track”, as it was so sordid, it was believed to have sparked a rise in STD rates in London nightclubs. Most of the album is spoken word, and includes a stalker’s love note to Scarlett Johansson and a song called “F**k Nicole”. 39 minutes of dirty, sexy French goodness.

8 ) MGMT- Oracular Spectacular

Oracular Spectacular

Armed with keyboard riffs that are catchier than smallpox, MGMT have astounded pretty much every major festival attendee this summer. Thanks to events like Glastonbury and Coachella, the anthemic “Time To Pretend” and the gorgeous “Kids” were two of the years biggest indie songs, and the rest of their debut album is just as good. Best thing to come out of Brooklyn since the Warriors, Spike Lee and integrated major-league baseball.

7) Lupe Fiasco- The Cool

The Cool

This one might have come out in 2007, but it was December, and I was to busy basking in the Dominican sun to pay attention to its release, but come January I was convinced that Lupe was the re-incarnation of Rakim (I know he’s not dead, but hey, it’s fun to start rumors). His debut Food and Liquor had some amazing singles, but ran a little on the long side and didn’t really have as much substance, but this follow-up, a concept album involving characters with names such as The Cool, The Game and The Streets, still astounds me with it’s storyline and the dexterity of Señor Fiasco’s rhymes, even a year later.

6) Coldplay- Viva La Vida of Death and All His Friends

Viva La Vida

I must admit, I was not a Coldplay fan until I heard a few key tracks from this album, then I heard Yellow then I heard the rest of Rush of Blood to the Head and Parachutes, so I must say, they are quite good. I still stand by my claims that X & Y was still a bunch of third-rate wannabe U2 crap, however.

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Beyond Gate Six: Scientists in Mexico Turn Tequila Into Diamonds

November 15, 2008

Tequila Diamonds

While people in Sierra Leone are getting their hands cut off in a war over diamond mines, Scientists at the National Autonomous University of Mexico have discovered how to make diamonds out of Tequila.

While experimenting with organic solutions that could result in an ultra-thin film of diamond-like material, the scientists discovered that a mix of 40% alcohol and 60% water worked best in forming the structure of a diamond. This is similar to proportions found in tequila.

However, this doesn’t mean that Jose Cuervo is going to open up a store on Fifth Avenue next to Harry Winston, as artificial diamonds are mostly used to coat cutting tools. Still, it proves science can pretty much do anything. Viva Mexico!

-Mario V.

The Angry Johnnie: Five Things You Shouldn’t Wear To Class

October 27, 2008

I don’t consider myself an expert on fashion, but there are some things that really annoy me about the way people dress when they go to class. Here’s a few things that really bother me about my classmate’s dressing habits:

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St. John’s Survival Guide: Fighting Homesickness

October 27, 2008

On autumn days like these, when the mercury is low and the air is cold, I think about how it’s only going to get colder, and I think about Miami, and how I used to be able to go to the beach at this time of year and it was never cool enough for me to wear more than a t-shirt outside.

Homesickness overwhelms me, and I begin to fondly remember what palm trees looked like and grow angry at the fact that every street here named 10th street is followed by 10th lane, 10th terrace, 10th place, etc. I start to find fault in everything native to Queens, and count the days until Thanksgiving so I can finally return to a place where they know how to make pastelitos and Cuban coffee.

So in order to combat homesickness, I list the things that I love about New York City in general and Queens in particular, which usually reminds me that I’m usually bored to death in the summertime and I’m actually much happier where I am now. So here are just five of the infinite things that make living in New York better than living anywhere else:

1)Fake Irish Pubs: They don’t even serve Guinness, and most people who work there don’t even know who James Joyce was, yet most bar-owners here in NYC insist on making their working-class dives appealing by hanging up Irish Flags and calling their bar “The Galloping Green” or “The Shamrock”. These places usually have no clients, so they almost never give you a hard time, and everything there is dirt-cheap, so you’re guaranteed to have a fun night.

2)Cherry Valley: I’m pretty sure that there are a million deli’s that serve food that is just as good as what’s served at this legendary Whitestone establishment, but I’ve yet to find a single one. You know the place must be good when it doesn’t deliver, and yet people still flock to this out-of-the-way corner of Queens at odd hours of the night just so they can gorge themselves on sandwiches soaked in gravy. It’s ridiculously good food, particularly when you’re in a, lets say, inebriated state.

3)The “Baby Don’t” Guys: Chances are you’ve seen this breed as you walk down the street. They’re the guys that have just gotten into a fight with their girlfriends, and are running around the street pleading with their girlfriends not to throw their things out the window of their apartment. “No baby, baby don’t, not the X-Box, please, I said I was sorry, baby don’t!” You don’t usually find altercations like these in Miami, as there are no buildings with more than two floors, so it’s highly entertaining.

4)Playing “Spot The Rat in The Subway”: This is a little game I invented while waiting for the E (as in “Extremely Slow”), The G (as in “Get a Car”), and the F (as in “Fuck you if you think you’re going anywhere”). It’s a pretty simple game: Five points are rewarded if you spot a mouse, ten points if you spot a rat, and fifteen if you spot a really big cockroach. Its very entertaining on late nights when you’re on the way back from Manhattan.

5)Jackson Heights: The only place to get great Colombian food in Miami is my grandmother’s kitchen, but Queens has an entire neighborhood full of great Colombian restaurants. I’ve had some of the best empanadas and sancochos on this side of the Panama Canal, and I’ve finally found the perfect bar to watch Colombian soccer games in. One night, at four in the morning, I started up a conversation with the “Arepa Lady”, a street vendor who used to be a judge in Medellin before emigrating to the United States after receiving death threats from Pablo Escobar. If that doesn’t sum up the American Dream, I don’t know what does.

So if you ever find yourself homesick, just do as I do and list the things you love about New York, and you’ll soon find yourself oblivious to the fact that when you go outside with wet hair it freezes after thirty seconds.

-Mario Vergara

Stuff We’re Loving: The Village Petstore and Charcoal Grill

October 24, 2008

Some of you might have heard of Banksy, the anonymous British graffiti artist notorious for leaving his guerrilla art in cities all over the world, like these:

Banksy
Banksy2
Banksy3

Well he’s finally opened his first “exhibition” in New York City, and I use the word exhibition in the loosest terms. (more…)

Stuff We’re Loving: DIY Costumes

October 16, 2008

Halloween is just around the corner, but don’t panic if you haven’t bought your costume yet. The best costumes are made with cardboard, spray paint, and a little creativity. Here’s some examples:

Spongebob Squarepants (more…)

Stuff we’re loving: New York City Waterfalls

October 1, 2008

Waterfalls 1
waterfalls 2

The $15 Million art installation is closing on October 13th, so make sure you get to see it before it goes they way of Christo and Jean-Claude’s “The Gates”.

The NYC Waterfalls are four artificial cascades erected in different sites along the East River. there are two in Brooklyn, one in Manhattan, and one on Governor’s Island. They run from 5:30 through 9:00 PM on Mondays and Wednesdays, and from 12:30 through 9:00 on Tuesdays, Thursdays and weekends.

Nycwaterfalls.org shows you where you can get the best view of each waterfall, most of these vantage points are Downtown and Brooklyn, withing walking distance of each other, and easily accessible by subway. There’s also a suggested bike route that allows you to get a view of all waterfalls from several locations.

Circle Line Downtown gives boat tours of all four waterfalls as well as other sights in New York Harbor.

Just remember, there’s only 13 days left to see them!

-Mario Vergara