Sanctuary Yet Sacrifice

This poem discusses the paradox of skating. While physically and mentally challenging, the sport will forever be a vital part of my life.

Feet frigid and fingers frail

head and heart hammering  

eyes watering in the wind

bruised body on the brink of blowout.  

As my blades slice through the slippery surface

my coach’s disappointed face fills my vision

and the taste of defeat fills my mouth.

Everyday I ask why I do this

why I put myself through the struggle

why I devote my life to the sport.

Yet everyday I’m back

doing it all over again.

Painful to the body yet vital to the soul

the lure of the ice never leaves.  

Because the reward of success is like no other;

years of pain are nothing compared

to one day of victory.


Fragile Souls

A found poem is created by flipping through a book and selecting random lines to create a cohesive poem. Here is my found poem based on the book, The River Reader by Joseph F. Trimmer.

Beneath the fat lies

deeper still

a series of moral puzzles

endless worrying about the rules

high anxiety of the competition

manipulation and control.

No matter how much we twist and turn

no system will protect us.

Do you believe you must always lie?

There is no easy answer to this question.

But we are such fragile souls

so we must be very careful.

Oh, there is risk everywhere

each decision, large or small

may be crucial to

this style of living.


Silver Skates

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Leslie and Charles are my newfound friends who skate at the Codey Arena rink in West Orange, NJ where I also train. I am so incredibly impressed with their earnest desire and unequivocal commitment to learn to skate, and wanted others to learn about their story. So one day, I approached them and asked if I could interview and write an article about their skating interests and pursuits. I was so honored to have them agree and I couldn’t wait to get started to learning more about their interesting lives. Leslie and Charles is an inspiring couple who we all can admire - they follow their passions and show us that age isn’t a limit.

Don’t be afraid to try new things and it’s never too late to start living a more healthy & active lifestyle.

https://hudsonreporter.com/2019/04/24/silver-skates/?fbclid=IwAR3rAp2IkTcbXc2fj9svvwKXl7ZfeETyh9zBCFb2GQzxoTV_paH2Foo4qu8ene

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Lost and Alone

Careful to only move one muscle at a time and make as little sound as possible, I began to inch my way out of the dark confines of the cave. I placed a shaky paw onto the grass and pushed my body into the sunlight, exposing myself to a vast expanse of unfamiliar territory.

On high alert, I followed my nose to the distinct aroma of fresh water. I made sure to stay hidden beneath the foliage, bristling in fear at every unknown sound and smell. But once I caught sight of a small stretch of water, thirst overcame me and I bounded full speed to the sparkling surface.

I dove into the lake, purring in satisfaction from the delicious taste after suffering from days of thirst. But despite the revitalization I received, I could not shake the loneliness that remained. I racked my brain, desperate to recall anything of my life before I was abandoned in the cave, but I felt nothing but emptiness.

My thoughts were suddenly interrupted by the snap of a twig and I found myself face to face with a small hairless creature. I bared my teeth and hissed in intimidation, but before I could pounce, a larger creature appeared and released a horrid blood curdling scream. I darted off in time to see the large creature whisk the smaller one away, retreating as fast as its two legs could carry it.

I realized in surprise that they were running from me. Power surged through my veins as I realized my ability to inflict fear on these strange creatures. I scoffed at their stupidity. Arrogance replaced my loneliness and I set forth to find the creatures to terrorize them.

I followed their trail and reached a clearing filled with rows of cave-like dwellings. I watched in confusion as dozens of creatures came in and out of the dwellings, communicating with odd gestures and unusual sounds. This must be where they live, I concluded.

Teen Angst

While listening to the song “In My Blood” by Shawn Mendes, I was inspired to express my low spirits in a poem, incorporating the lyrics (in italics).

All the feelings built up inside
Hard to express, yet hard to hide.
Laying on the bathroom floor, feeling nothing
Overwhelmed and insecure
, the tears start gushing.
As waves of sadness come crashing down
You get lost in a sea of emotions and drown.
No medicine, no cure
Nothing to relieve the pain you endure.
No one can see the angst consuming your heart
Alone is where you fall apart.

Are Humans Primarily Driven by Self-Interest?

I will be competing in a new debate forum at my first speech and debate tournament of the new year. ‘Big Questions Debate’ is a new format which presents students with a complex worldwide question and each student is required to debate both sides of the resolution. Big Questions Debate will not only help advance my knowledge and promote interest in learning more about a subject matter but it will also enhance my debate experience by encouraging and challenging me to engage in life discussions that may not align with my previously held beliefs and values.

The Big Question Debate for this weekend’s tournament is Resolved: Humans are primarily driven by self-interest, and here are my arguments for both sides…which side do you agree with?

I. AFFIRMATIVE SPEECH
Psychological egoism, the idea that humans are motivated by self-interest and selfishness, is highly prevalent in society. Despite having good morals or values, at the end of the day, the most important person to you is yourself.

Skating Promotes Fitness and Good Health

The Journal Publications, January Issue
https://www.thejournalnj.com/publications-monmouth-county/holmdel-journal/holmdel-current-issue/


The editor of my local paper asked me if I was interested in writing another article for its publication. The theme of the first issue for the new year is ‘Health and Fitness’. I immediately embraced the opportunity as it is THE perfect time to introduce skating as a new and fun exercise for everyone to learn. Also, January is National Skating Month and it’s a great time to promote interest in skating and support US Figure Skating’s annual celebration of the sport.

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'Reader in a Lost World" Review

My tenth grade English teacher and advisor, Dr. Holden, recently published an article, “Reader in a Lost World”, (http://marginalia.lareviewofbooks.org/reader-in-a-lost-world/) for The Marginalia Review of Books which is an online international review of academic literature on history, religion, and culture. As I was only exposed to his writing in the classroom, I was curious to read what he had to say and discover his purpose and technique as an author.

While reading about the misconception students and teachers have about writing an essay, I found myself nodding along in agreement. As I was trained to do so, I naturally formulate arguments in the standard five paragraph format. Although I often struggle to adhere to its boundaries, I continue to submit essays in this format without a second thought. However, reading this essay made me open my eyes to the truth - literature has no formula. Therefore, I should not be following one. I found this incredibly enlightening to learn about as I can apply this newfound knowledge to my own writing.

Today’s modern generation currently suffers from a lack of literary comprehension. Beginning at a young age, the classic five paragraph essay structure is ingrained in students’ minds, creating an illusion that any deviation from this norm is not acceptable. However, strict adherence to this standard format does little to enhance students’ writing abilities; rather, it creates a model they feel they must conform to which prevents them from elaborating on creative thought. As students focus on writing within this specific format, they lose sight of the true purpose of an essay. Far from merely serving as a tedious school assignment, the essay embodies a thought-provoking use of the mind “engaging with something real.”

The art of producing a well-written essay comes from one’s ability to read. As reading is the foundation in which all forms of literature is built upon, “the essayist is [therefore] … an image of the reader.” Reading also serves to convey new experiences, connecting human minds and providing insight into one’s inner thoughts through his/her subjectivity. “By reading we encounter life as another,” in which our opinions and perspectives are affected by the words we read.  

Because an essay intends to address a specific topic or object, “it is the generic form of subjectivity.” The writer strives to imprint his perspective of the subject on the reader, therefore influencing the reader’s subjectivity with his own. To do so successfully, the writer must have full freedom to explore and express his thoughts - and this is why the five paragraph essay fails. One cannot create a compelling piece of writing by conforming to restraining boundaries. In the grand scheme of things, the essay serves a much more significant purpose than what is taught in the classroom.  

Written with colloquial yet sophisticated diction, Dr. Holden draws on his experience as a teacher to express his perspective on the purpose and significance of an essay. He uses direct literary references to connect his argument with characters/storylines that readers are familiar with. In the sentence, “It is the crack in the wall through which Pyramus and Thisbe—or any two people—can speak,” Dr. Holden includes Greek mythology to further enhance his argument. To provide more substantial support for his reasoning, he also cites well-known writers such as Kant, Montaigne, and Emerson to logically appeal to readers.

Crazy Rich Asians: We are Asian, Hear Us Roar!

I can’t remember the last time I went out to see a movie with my whole family…was it when I was 10 yrs old?…12 yrs ? My brother and I got dragged out on a Saturday night, the one night I usually block off to hang out with my friends, to see “Crazy Rich Asians.” My father had been excessively talking about this new movie, explaining the importance of supporting the first all-Asian film in 25 years. So on one of the rare nights he was off from work, my family took a trip to the movie theater. I admit I did not know what to expect at first, but I was immediately captivated by the Chinese music once the movie began. As I laughed and cried, I was pleasantly surprised at how touched I was by this film. I was especially impacted by the strong feminism portrayed in the movie with powerful female characters dominating the storyline. As each woman acted as a direct inspiration to me, I was compelled to further analyze the characters and their characteristics.

http://publications.myranney.org/torch/2018/12/12/crazy-rich-asians-we-are-asian-hear-us-roar/

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Girl Scouts- It's a Whole Lot More than Cookies

The Holmdel Journal Publication, December Issue
https://www.thejournalnj.com/columns/teen-scene-emily-chang-girl-scouts-its-a-whole-lot-more-than-cookies/


I am so honored to be selected by the CEO of Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore to write an article for the community paper about Girl Scouting and its mission and values. Given the country’s current challenging and hostile environment, it is essential to discuss programs that encourage love, compassion, and giving to promote peace and unity among our fellow citizens.

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'Human Flow' Documentary Screening

Source: https://www.humanflow.film

Source: https://www.humanflow.film

A hush fell over the crowd as the lights dimmed. Every audience member’s eyes were glued to the front of the room, as if locked in a trance. As images of innocent families enduring immense suffering filled the screen, raw emotion was present on every viewer’s captivated face.

On Oct. 25 from 6 to 9 p.m. in MAN 105 of Brookdale Community College, students and residents of Monmouth County gathered to watch “Human Flow,” an emotional and informative film depicting the greatest human displacement since World War II. In the documentary, filmmaker Ai Weiwei travels for one year through 23 countries to capture diverse yet urgent stories of innocent people forced to leave their homes.

Viewers received insight into refugees’ physical and mental struggles as they witnessed them desperately trying to escape famine, poverty, climate change and war. Scenes depicting police brutality, sick and injured individuals, dying children and blood curdling screams deeply affected the audience. Almost in tears, one viewer claimed the film was “two hours of full misery,” due to the vivid imagery of human mistreatment.

“[The film] was very impactful because I went through that,” a young man in the front row courageously spoke up, reflecting on his own experience as a refugee. He was especially affected by a scene where a young boy was promising his brother that he would never leave him, no matter how bad things got. The spectator explained how touching it was to see love and family prevail in the midst of disaster.

Professor Ashley Zampogna-Krug, who led the film discussion, was “stunned by the sheer resilience of human nature.” Watching the film was incredibly enlightening to her, she said, opening her eyes to humans’ unbelievable ability to persevere despite such detrimental and seemingly hopeless scenarios. In the film, one refugee explained that “if there is will, nothing is impossible.” Seeing positivity in such a treacherous environment was extremely inspiring and encouraging, audience members said.

However, the film proved that humanity did not necessarily favor people. Debbie Mura, a journalism professor from Toms River, recalled a scene where refugees chose to feed stray dogs and horses rather than give the food to the starving people. “[This] shows how much we care about animals and not human beings,” she said.

Despite the film’s success in stimulating intense emotions among viewers, the audience found fault in certain production qualities.  “From a cinema point of view,” one said, “it was very difficult to follow, which made it lose some of its impact.” She criticized the subtitles for being too small and fast, preventing her from being able to understand certain scenes, especially ones spoken in foreign languages. Nodding her head along in agreement, another viewer added that the film was “a little long on a production note.”

While response of the film consisted of mixed opinions, one belief remained the same. Every audience member was incredibly touched, as the film triggered emotions of sadness and sympathy for the suffering refugees. Voicing the thoughts of every person in the room, one man said, “watching this was an eye opener to appreciate all you that have.”

A Memory's Accuracy

Carey, Benedict, and Hoffman, Jan. “They Say Sexual Assault, Kavanaugh Says It Never Happened: Sifting Truth From Memory.” The New York Times, 25 Sept. 2018

After hearing about the charges against Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh, I decided to do further research to gain a better understanding. I came across an article that analyzed scientific elements of memory to explain the case which I found incredibly enlightening and changed my perspective on the situation.

In light of the serious sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Judge Kavanaugh, experts have taken a closer look into the science and accuracy of one’s memory. Although multiple women have come forward claiming Kavanaugh attempted rape, Kavanaugh continues to deny allegations that he was responsible for such actions. This makes people wonder what the real story is and who to truly believe. Studies have proven that memory is selective, and its details lose accuracy over time. The brain “encodes” emotions and sensations that the person endures in the moment, affecting individuals in the same situation in different ways. Timing of memory retrieval is also a crucial factor because this can affect the accuracy of memory. Random senses, situations, and words may trigger a certain memory and allow a person to suddenly recall things they did not think about before. In this situation, alcohol plays a role as both sides were intoxicated. Alcohol affects one’s memory and often leaves a person unstable and delusional. This brings into question the credibility of both Kavanaugh and one of the accusers, Dr. Ford, since they both consumed alcohol and therefore their stories are not necessarily accurate. Both Kavanaugh and Ford strongly stand by their case and believe they are telling the truth, however their side of the truth may be distorted by their memory/interpretation of the situation.

Memory and the accuracy of one’s memory plays a pivotal part in both Kavanaugh's and Ford’s credibility. There is no true evidence to prove either side, so recollection of events is all that the court has to go by. I think it is really important for Americans to understand the science behind memory before jumping to conclusions. In any situation, people should be fully informed on both scenarios before forming an opinion and choosing a side. After reading this, I personally support Ford in her case. She was able to remember this event after 36 years because it was so traumatic to her, whereas Kavanaugh may not remember it because he was drunk and unhurt. “Experts suggest, there are scenarios in which someone could have committed an assault and yet also have almost no memory of it.” Kavanaugh may be telling the truth, but his version of the truth may lack certain memories.

Despite writing about such a controversial topic, I was struck by how the authors, Carey and Hoffman, maintained an unbiased tone throughout their article. They focused on the facts that were provided without ever once letting their opinions or emotions get in the way. They used credible research and statistics from scientists and experts to provide readers with as much information as possible. By providing the facts, readers had the opportunity to formulate their own opinions on the situation.

Guinness Oyster Festival

The warm September air was filled with nothing but laughter, singing and cheers. The usual traffic was replaced with happy families, enjoying delicious food and unique shopping. As summer officially came to a close, the streets of Red Bank came to life.  

The ninth annual Guinness Oyster Festival took place on Sept. 30, 2018 from 12-7 p.m. in the White Street Municipal Parking Lot. Modeled after the Galway Oyster Festival to celebrate the beginning of oyster season, this popular street festival in Red Bank was once again a huge success.

The event served as a “culinary feast,” showcasing Red Bank’s restaurant dishes, as well as food from vendors. From lobster rolls to oysters to fried oreos to chocolate bacon, there was an option for everyone. Food vendors were so popular that their lines took up almost the entire width of the street.

One food vendor sold various flavors of gourmet pastry dips. This family business explained how fortunate they were to discover the event through the Internet because it rewarded them with enormous publicity.

“[It was] a very great experience. We’ve had a lot of business and the people were really nice,” said 19-year-old Alyssa Cassisi from East Brunswick, one of the workers running the stand. “We would love to come back next year.”

The festival was also kid-friendly. The roads were closed and guarded with police officers to ensure a safe environment. Freshly painted faces and twisted balloons made frequent appearances as kids excitedly scampered through the streets. They were drawn to carnival rides, a bounce house and for the first time, a petting zoo.

Two stages provided space for live music, seating and dancing. The music consisted of a mix of Irish, blues, funk, pop, rock and roll and more. Vendors also played a major role as people purchased unique items, such as jewelry, clothes, hats and other nick-nacks.

Some stands were designated for good causes. Many charity stands that worked to raise money and raise awareness.

Orphan Outreach solicited donations in order to fund international travel and medical mission trips.

However, not everyone received the desired results. “The people are quite stingy, for whatever reason,” said Dianne Berg, 52, of Toms River, a volunteer for Orphan Outreach.

This festival was so popular that people even crossed state lines to be there. Barry Allen, a 59-year-old from Philadelphia, travelled two hours to attend with his wife. This was his first time and he was incredibly pleased with the experience. “This was a great event,” he said, “with great food and great music.”  

'Let Teenagers Sleep In' Review

As I begin my junior year in high school, I am already experiencing the mounting stress and anxiety of this critical year and sleep is definitely something I don’t get enough of. Although I already knew how important sleep is, I was surprised to discover how extremely crucial it is for teenagers specifically. We often sacrifice our sleep for more pressing things, such as homework, extracurriculars, and social life. However, we fail to consider the repercussions. As a teenager myself, Henry Nicholls’ Sept 20 NYT article, “Let Teenagers Sleep In”, definitely spoke to me and I felt myself nodding along in agreement to Nicholls’s statements. Although surprising, his claims definitely made sense. For instance, his scientific evidence proves why I have a habit of sleeping in so late. I am glad to finally have credible evidence stressing the importance of sleep and explaining my sleep habits.

Due to the education system, increases in technology, and biological changes, teenagers suffer from sleep deprivation, preventing them from receiving the necessary 8 hours of sleep. As teenagers’ brains are still developing, lack of sleep negatively affects their mental and physical health, potentially leading to serious issues such as mental illness, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and more. Studies have proven that schools start much too early and this causes students to lack focus and attention in class. Technology is also an issue because of the difficulty for teenagers to resist the lure of their electronic devices. Blue light emitted from such devices suppress melatonin levels, the body’s critical sleep hormone. Teenagers’ biological makeup also comes into play because as bodies experience puberty, they develop a natural, uncontrollable tendency to stay awake later and sleep in later. These factors contribute to the sleep deprivation that teenagers suffer from, leaving drastic damages on their overall health and well-being.

Nicholls begins his article with an enticing lede, posing a question to get readers immediately interested. After this descriptive hook, he dives right into his argument, presenting solid statistics to begin on a strong note. He takes a clear stance from the start, fully supporting the fact that teenagers need more sleep. Nicholls successfully uses pathos, causing feelings of sympathy to arise among readers, especially in parents. He also presents cold, hard facts as evidence to support his argument, demonstrating the use of logos. As a high school science teacher, Nicholls is able to use not only his academic knowledge, but also is personal experience that he draws from his teenage students.

Art and Fashion in Skateboarding

By: Emily Chang
Please note fictional names were used to protect the privacy of individuals. Happy Reading!

Golconda Park is adorned with a variety of beautiful stickers, bringing color & culture to the park

Golconda Park is adorned with a variety of beautiful stickers, bringing color & culture to the park

A rainy Tuesday morning in Brooklyn does little to stop people of all ages as they make their way to Golconda Park, the hottest new spot in town. Colors flash by as participants skillfully fly into the air performing tricks and perfecting their technique. Dressed in baggy attire, gliding on embellished boards, these people are easily identifiable: skateboarders.

For as long as skateboarding has been around, art and fashion have followed. This huge aspect of skateboarding culture is often under appreciated and even looked down upon by conventional society, but these skaters’ artistic talents are often not given nearly enough attention.

“Why be boring?” said John Garcia. The 20-year-old from Fort Greene, Brooklyn explained how much he loves seeing people use their artistic eye to create sensational effects in both art and fashion. He, along with other skaters, believes skateboarding doubles as both a sport and a form of individual expression.

The beautiful designs that adorn boards are unique to each skater, giving individuals their own personal, creative outlet to explore various designs and patterns. Using their boards as their canvases, skaters can express themselves through colors, designs, and sticker selections.

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Stickers are one of the most recognizable characteristics when referring to art in skating. As described by Garcia, they are a “sign of creativity.” They are a key element in the decorative process, appearing in every shape, size, and color.

Skaters select stickers based on personal preference - many stickers have undercover meanings and symbolic references, while others are chosen simply for the overall aesthetic. Popular sticker trends include rebellious slogans, favorite animals, and memorable locations.

Steve Rodriguez, the 47-year-old creator of Golconda Park as well as an avid skater himself, referred to each board as a “personal DIY gallery” of stickers.

“Stickers have always been a part of skateboarding,” Rodriguez explained, due to the fact that almost every participant uses them to customize his or her board.

Stickers also function for advertisement purposes, allowing skaters to show off their favorite brands. Neff, Zumiez, and RipnDip are just a few of the many companies that can be found displayed on customers’ boards.

Rodriguez also mentioned that “a lot of people actually make stickers themselves using sticker sheets,” and garnishing their board with their designs allow them to promote their brand and gain recognition. Not only is this good publicity, but the intricate detailing of brand stickers also makes them aesthetically pleasing and shows off the creator’s artistic abilities.

Besides art, fashion plays another major role in skater culture. Typically dressed in loose-fitting pants, printed t-shirts, and sneakers, skaters aim for a look that represents a cool but comfortable vibe. Not only does the relaxed, casual clothing allow skaters to move around freely, but it also reflects their free spirits.

More recently, urban skater fashion has become immersed in high fashion. Skaters’ clothing choices make a statement, influencing pop culture icons and inspiring new trends as a result. Hunter explained that many celebrities such as A$AP Mob “get a lot of their fashion from skating, you know like baggy pants.” As trends continue to evolve each day, more and more skater qualities are becoming enmeshed in popular culture.

Although skaters’ fashion ideas have become more prevalent in today’s society, this actually negatively impacts them. Companies such as Vans and Supreme which initially existed solely for skaters, have now become huge brands that have expanded far beyond the skating community.

“If skateboarding companies get more popular, they’re going to hike up the prices and then we can’t wear our own clothes. It’s kind of messed up,” said 17-year-old Lisa Tsang from Brooklyn.

For instance, Supreme has existed for 24 years, initially considered nothing but skate-wear. However, more recently, this company has become a reputable brand, especially for celebrities and rappers. Their prices have skyrocketed with shirts, sweatshirts, and hats costing in excess of $1,000.

Like Supreme, many other skate companies’ customers are not skaters anymore. This has negatively impacted the skating community because their culture is no longer uniquely theirs. These brands have become more of a world fashion statement rather than something only skaters share. Lewis Clark, a 14-year-old from Brooklyn, is against this, saying it is “taking away the culture of skating.”

Skaters are also very emotionally attached to the brands which they identify as skaters’ clothes. When Justin Bieber and Rihanna were spotted wearing Thrasher shirts, skaters lashed out in protest.

“ Back then, skateboarding was rejected by the public. People got mad at skaters and told them they are a nuisance to society,” skateboarder Henry Smith commented on Youtube. “It pisses off skaters that (were) ridiculed by society, and now society just seems to take away one of our major companies.”

Even Thrasher magazine’s editor, James Phelps, believes celebrities have encroached on the skating industry. He released a statement that cursed out “clowns” like Bieber and Rihanna for wearing skater clothes.

Despite the fact that popular culture has begun to take over skating culture, this has not stopped skaters from continuing to express their true selves through art and fashion. Aesthetics are a pivotal part of their culture which should be celebrated in order to preserve the “skater look.”

“The most fashionable people,” Smith said, “are skaters.” 

The Evolution of Street Art

By: Emily Chang
Please note fictional names were used to protect the privacy of individuals. Happy Reading!

Walking through the streets of Brooklyn, murals, sculptures, and stickers on every corner never fail to fascinate tourists and residents alike. Adorning walls and embellishing buildings, street art brings a variety of color and vibrance to the neighborhood. Whether seen as art or vandalism, it is a pivotal part of New York culture.

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However, it has not always been this way. Originating underground through the grimy subway tunnels, it took a while for street art to work its way up to street level, eventually escalating as high as buildings and rooftops.

“None of this will ever last,” said Ken Lee, a 40-year-old street art photographer from Brooklyn. Due to the constantly changing world we live in, street art continues to rapidly evolve in synch with the environment and modern society. Different factors both positively and negatively affect the development of street art, making it what it is today.

In the public eye, street art has always received negative connotations, perceived as merely a rebellious act for lower-class misfits. Because it is illegal and offensive to many property owners, it is easy for people to make this generalization. Although these stereotypes may have been true in the past, they no longer apply to every aspect of modern street art.

According to Lee, the negative stereotypes associated with street artists are currently no longer “as strong as you would think.” He claims that all of the street artists he’s met are “wonderful people,” despite the fact that they break the law on a daily basis.

The illegality of street art is actually what brings its allure. Lee describes legal art “like seeing animals in the zoo vs seeing them in the wild.” Illegal art really makes people think about its undercover meaning and what the artist went through to successfully display it. The amount of effort dedicated to a piece shows how important it is to the artist - important enough to risk his or her life.

“The idea of it being illegal is an incentive,” said Raymond Conlon, a street artist from Brooklyn. He claimed that if it was legal, he would not be doing it.

Conlon’s work displayed right next to a surveillance sign- a clear sign of rebellion yet also a huge risk

Conlon’s work displayed right next to a surveillance sign- a clear sign of rebellion yet also a huge risk

People also commonly associate street art with mostly male figures. Although women have been involved in street art since the beginning, the community has always been dominated by men. Recently, however, street art is “being increasingly taken over by women,” according to David Mason, an art historian.

Lee claims that the recent women’s movement is “like a reckoning,” inspiring women to use their voice to make meaningful contributions to the street art community. “I think it’s cool, I think it’s great,” said Conlon, showing his full support of female participation.

Feminist street art displayed in Brooklyn

Feminist street art displayed in Brooklyn

Social media is another factor that has played a major role in popularizing street art, especially among younger generations. With platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, artists have the ability to post pictures of their art for the whole world to see. In a society where everyone’s eyes are regularly glued to their phones, online posts are a great advertisement method to grab people’s attention.

Although Conlon agreed that social media has significantly benefited his career, he admitted there are negative aspects as well. He said that social media “dilutes the quality” of the art, as people will choose to view it online out of convenience rather than experiencing it fully in person. This consequently eliminates the authenticity of the art and sometimes even blurs the message the artist is trying to convey.

Street art also significantly contributes to gentrification, spreading the culture and allowing it to thrive in new places. “Artists tend to be the first to come to a new area,” said Conlon. “(They are) responsible for bringing gentrification in.” Filling streets with vivid images not only brings culture in, but it also helps brighten and “uplift a community.” The artwork plays a role in attracting tourists as well as permanent residents, and the neighborhood quickly fills with life.

Gentrification, however, pushes artists out, ridding the neighborhood of their work and culture. Ion explained that as time progresses and apartment prices rise, artists’ incomes do not increase at the same level. Artists are therefore unable to financially support themselves in a community that has priced them out.

Because of gentrification, artists are constantly moving and bringing their work with them. As they discover new locations, their art conforms to the different environment, affecting their styles as a result.

Conlon claims that he is unhappy with some of his old work because his “style has evolved.” Artists’ designs and techniques change in synch with the surrounding world, allowing fresh new pieces that reflect modern issues to circulate through the streets.

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However, artists maintain their identity by preserving a strong voice through their work that is uniquely theirs. Despite changes in style, artwork is often easily recognizable due to the creator’s distinct voice.

Despite the myriad societal changes that have affected street art over the course of time, one aspect has remained the same: the artists’ overall goal.

“Being known for your art,” Conlon said, ““and then being able to use that to do good things.”

The Crucibles - Characters that are Flawed but Good

The Crucibles is playwright by Arthur Miller that represents the Salem Witch Trials that took place in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1692. After reading this play for school, I realized a similar theme that was also depicted in The Scarlet Letter. This inspired me to analyze the similar theme in both books about the possibility for flawed characters to be good. 

People often find it difficult to look past one misdeed a person is guilty of. However, despite one flaw, people still have the potential to be good. In the Crucibles, John Proctor committed the crime of adultery when he had an affair with his 17-year-old housekeeper. However in the end of the story, Proctor tells the truth and consequently abandons his good reputation. He also sacrifices his life for others and remains loyal to his friends by refusing to give up names. Therefore, despite committing a crime and being the cause of the entire witchcraft hysteria, Proctor was a good person and did the right thing in the end. His situation is similar to Hester Prynne's story in The Scarlet Letter. Although Hester was also guilty of sexual indiscretion, she made amends by creating beautiful needlework for the community and devoting time and money to charity. It was hard for people to realize her actions were genuinely good but , she made efforts to make up for her sin. It is clear that it is possible to still be good despite one mistake or misdeed.    

The Great Gatsby and the American Dream

The Great Gatsby is known as the great American novel and it has easily become one of my favorite books. Gatsby was on a quest for love and he went to extreme measures to achieve his goal and reach success. This inspired me to think about the American Dream and how F. Scott Fitzgerald represented this theme through Gatsby's story. 

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Gatsby

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Gatsby

Fitzgerald portrayed the American Dream by depicting Gatsby's difficult journey from rags to riches in attempt to win the girl he desires. The American dream is about reaching one's full potential and prosperity which is exactly what Gatsby does. He is stuck in the past and shapes his entire life to reach the goal of being with Daisy. In order to achieve this goal, Gatsby knows he must obtain wealth to impress and satisfy Daisy. The green light on Daisy's dock represents the color of money and Gatsby reaches out to it because it is something he wishes to possess. In addition to becoming wealthy, Gatsby pursues the American dream by attempting to achieve moral perfection. He models his life after Ben Franklin's schedule events as shown in the flyleaf of a book. However, Gatsby's journey to wealth did not follow the moral road as he was involved in the illegal liquor business with Meyer Wolfsheim. His actions therefore portray a negative perspective of the American dream because he achieved his goals unethically.