“Aiken Remembers”: Celebrate Our History and Community This Sunday

Press release: http://www.aikenstandard.com/story/0715-Joe-Lista

This Sunday, I will be presiding over and hosting a show at the Aiken Community Playhouse called “Aiken Remembers: Our Community Through the Lens of Joe Lista.” I wrote a column about it months ago for Verge, but now we’ve finally arrived. This Sunday, we will gather on-stage at 3 with four guest speakers who will lend personal stories to the already fascinating pictures of our town from the years 1954-1964.

https://derekberry.wordpress.com/2012/04/05/verge-article-about-aiken/

This project has been more than one year in the making, ever since my boss sent me into the archives to find interesting photographs. With the help of URS, this evolved into a show to honor Todd’s father Joe Lista as well as take a closer, personal look at the era. Afterwards, we will show further pictures from our archives while enjoying refreshments.

I am completely stoked for this show, and I hope it brings back nostalgia for those who lived through this era while piquing intrigue from younger generations. Though some of the pictures cover controversial topics, such as segregation and socio-economic boundaries, this era emphasized community. Though we were a small town, we thrived together. Hopefully, we can regain this sense of community, and remembering how we did so once is the first step to doing so.

If you are a history-buff or a connoisseur of photography, you should come out to the Aiken Community Playhouse main stage in the URS Center of Performing Arts to enjoy this spectacle. I have spoken and interviewed all of our guest speakers and can ensure you that their stories are worth listening to.

The show will be broadcast live by Aiken Standard TV.

Once we reclaim our past, we can make today a yesterday we can be proud of.

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6 Most Annoying Facebook Status Updates

The worse-than-attention-whores attention whore status

Like if you breathe air!

Really? You’re so desperate for people to “like” your status and in extension prove your escalation on the socio-popularity scale that you’ve given up putting pictures of your cleavage as your profile picture and instead have resorted to this. This “like if…” disease has spread from Youtube to Twitter to Facebook and even to the comment sections of some blogs. No matter where I see it, it is annoying. It is a strange cry for help, crying for people to show other people how many people LOVE YOU “IF YOU LIKE MY STATUS.” Sorry, but just because someone likes your status doesn’t mean anyone really likes YOU.

The Genius Friend Hackers’ Status

OMG, you totally got hacked!!!!! Because you left your computer open!

Your friend left his computer on with you in the room, so that gives you free reign to go to Facebook.com where doubtless your friend never logs out from. Then, you can claim to have “hacked” them by leaving an obviously dumb status on their profiles. Your hacking skills are simply superb, you wondrous computer whiz you! Right up there with Lisbeth Salander. I bet you could hack into the Pentagon, or at least their Facebook page in the event they never log out and leave you, their wholly untrustworthy friend, alone in a room with their laptop.

The Passive Aggressive Status

Someone really is such a jerk. Really, I’m not trying to talk about anyone in particular here, but sometimes, people are so mean, especially people whose names rhyme with Penneth and start with same letter that word “Kangaroo” starts with. Not that I’m pointing any fingers. But some people are just jerks!

If you have a problem with someone, especially a significant other, confront them about it. Maybe if you actually talked about your problems with the person with whom you have problems, those problems could be resolved in a normal way. You, however, have chosen to leap to the interwebs to bash that person’s honor for all your friends, relatives, and knitting club members to see. Wow. Well, you really got that guy! I bet, seeing this, he really decided to change his ways. Jerks worldwide must have realized how much of a jerk each was being upon reading your inspirational words.

The Chain-Letter Status

If you are reading, do not stop because if you do, you will die. Tonight at midnight a hobo clown with acne will somehow appear in your room and eat your liver while you’re still alive. And then he will make you listen to Kreayshawn, undoubtedly the worst female rapper since Nikki Minaj and somehow even worse. Then he will dance to it. If you wish to escape this fate, post this as your status and annoy the hell out of your friends because they will see Kreayshawn mentioned again, and again, and again. You have until midnight.

I believe I have said enough.

There’s a FOOTBALL game on! Status

My team is better than whatever gay, stupid team they’re against. Dear stupid fans of opposing team, you must have a seriously horrible life based on your decision to support that particular team that my sports team is playing against, though one week from now I will be updating about how loser-idiot-like the refs are for making my team lose.

Oh, and….. TOUCHDOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!! SUCK IT!

I literally want to strangle everyone who does this. If you’re so passionate, why are you on Facebook? Put your Blackberry away and pay attention to the game.

Romeo’s status update

I love you, insert vomit-inducing pet name here.

Maybe you can tag that you’re in Verona while writing this status, but soon I swear you’ll be posting from your casket. This is horribly stupid and unnecessary. If you love someone, tell them. But bellowing it from the proverbial housetop of your profile page is just pathetic. It gets worse when you start wall-posting each other the way most couples might chat. If you have that much to say to each other, why not go on an actual date so you can actualize the love that you feel so compelled to spread over the cyberweb. And if I think that’s bad, I certainly can’t wait for next week when you two star-crossed idiots break up.

The “I’m not too update to drunk my status” status

Js Gut hoom. Lst nite wuz totlly crazy, brah. Still so wsted… flasblas

Oh, you’re drunk? That’s nice. You’re so drunk from partying last night that you came home, opened your laptop, typed “Facebook.com” into the URL. Then you signed onto your Facebook account somehow correctly spelling your e-mail account jersyshorefan00404@gmail.com right on one try. Then, you typed this status with gangster grammar, which no one can understand. Instead, how about going to sleep until 2 o’ clock in the afternoon so that tomorrow you can wake back up right in time for your afternoon shift at the gas station.

What is considered UNmanly?

We all know what might be considered manly (Chuck Norris, Daniel Day Lewis, and films about war), but what exactly does it mean to be UNMANLY? Because I am so oft labeled thus, I’d like to explore exactly what that term constitutes.

I could... probably achieve that.

Does it mean that I don’t “lift weights,” but instead attend Pilates classes? (Ok, fine, it’s Yoga…. Ok, FINE! Yoga on Wii Fit… Just leave me alone OKAY! I admit, it’s actually table tennis on Wii Fit, so just stop judging me, please!)

Maybe being unmanly means eating healthy cereal like Special K or some other granola-based barf disaster. Granted, painting my toenails and joining a ballet company… but wait, have you guys SEEN male ballerinas? They’re more fit than Rugby players. So maybe ballet IS manly? Because think about it, you spend all day with beautiful women in tights. Yet society seems to point to other adjectives when describing a male ballet dancer. It doesn’t make much sense.

Okay, maybe plucking your eyebrows still lies in the UNMANLY camp of activities, but other things that used to be considered effeminate have become more… well, manly.

What’s the big deal with being manly, anyways? I mean, so I don’t smoke cigars and wrestle bears, but why should I? I’m sure given the right occasion, I might put a grizzly in a choke-hold, but unless it’s attacking me, why would I ever attempt to do that? The quest to be manly evolved from when men went to war. I mean, all men went to war. There was no military to speak of, so when America needed to fight a war, it enlisted every man. Farmers and merchants and blacksmiths and horse riders. They took boys as young as 14, handed them a gun, and pushed them onto the battlefield.

Think on a Civil War battlefield where these men are strewn across the grass. Every grass blade sports flecks of blood, the corpses piled over each other. You can see by the position of the bodies that the battle lasted long. Three hours. But the boys kept running out, fighting. They kept fighting. And it was not as if either armies harbored disdain for each other– only months before, they had been countrymen. Yet now confronted with what they were told was the enemy, they fought. They killed.

They shot and stabbed each other and kept trying to do so simply because if not, these boys would look unmanly in front of their friends. To not fight was the coward’s way. It was each boy’s duty to fight and if he fled, he could never overcome that act of unmanliness, that betrayal of honor.

It was pointless. Wars fought for the same reason men today still choose to pile more weights onto a barbell if they’re lifting in front of their friends. There is a certain spark in some people that will encourage them to lay down their lives for a war. Others do so because they cannot do otherwise and continue to live with masculinity intact.

 

Football, Too, Is a Religion

We attend football games religiously.

7 o’clock Friday, the field is illuminated in white. We stand in a pit of sweat and grunge, carrying flags like small spears into battle. Dressed in uniform green, we are antsy. Already the strips of menacing paint beneath our eyes is peeling off. The band lines up in two separate columns on either side of the goalpost. Tensing our bodies, we press up against the back of the pack of football players. Music begins, builds- with this crescendo we tumble through a banner. Stumbling across the pristine green field, squinting up at the giant white lights. Football season has begun.

Truth is, I had no idea it was called a goalpost until I just googled it:  I was prepared to call it “that white thingie with two white arms.” As far as I can tell, anyone could be winning at any moment. My knowledge of football is limited. Sometimes, I’ll watch the opposing team score a touchdown and begin dancing, only to remember seconds later that I should be sulking.

Us getting touchdown:  good.

Them getting touchdown:  bad.

Watching high school football, I suppose you have to remember these things. Not that football isn’t terribly exciting- I just don’t know much about the logistics. Or the rules.

That doesn’t stop me, though, from getting caught up in the excitement. Just what about a football game excites us? Makes us leap up in the precarious bleachers, rocking back and forth. We’re a mob of filth, sweat, and war paint. There is no science to spirit- you just have it. Must have it. Breath it. Because, if you’re not exhilarated by your team, then what do you stand for? This is a crash course in loyalty, and you show yours by painting your face two different colors, wearing a sparkling golden toga, and chanting at the highest volume.

We sing psalms of praise toward the football gods, raising our arms in innate worship. Football, if you do not know, becomes an intensely spiritual experience. Like at an old Protestant revival, we stomp our feet and raise our arms and dance in tight circles. We howl into the night sky, bodies wiggling, faces convulsing.

Football season has begun.

Of course, football could its very own religion. Texts written on it read longer than the Bible and Torah put together. Every Friday is our night of worship, and we spill into the stands hungry to worship. What if we put this much energy into God, though? What if we approached God’s love like we do football? We fall down in reverence and chant his name? We fist pump?

We could approach so many things this way:  especially things we don’t understand. You don’t need to fully understand football to get caught up in the ecstasy of the moment. And I’m not condemning football here. Football may be the only sport that pumps me so full of testosterone, I want to transform into the Hulk.

But with so much energy devoted to football, what else can we devote our energy to?