There are certain sensations that we eventually became inundated by, and, after sufficient exposure, try to suppress to the deep recesses of our minds in order to maintain sanity. There are a few cases of this for me. For example, I often hear the sounds of MTV U playing in my college cafeteria, which I escape via earbuds. Or the sounds of ongoing construction, often resolved by the same solution as the prior example. But, a particularly notable example of this phenomenon came rushing back into my mind relatively recently, and I thought I’d share it with you all today.
Do you have a pit in the place where your heart should be? Do you have episodes of deep and endless depression? Do you desperately need inner peace? Is Twitter the only thing you have to live for? Do you like memes?
Hello everybody, and welcome to the first installment of Cookin’ With Cory, a new series (well…maybe) for Mid-American Culture. Today I’m gonna share a recipe with you that I think you’ll love. So, let’s dive right in.
We are just under two months into 2018. This year has certainly had its ups and downs. These last two months have certainly been eventful. From Jennifer Anniston splitting with her husband, to Elon Musk’s Space X rocket launch, to the tragic Parkland shooting and everything in between, 2018 is shaping up to be one interesting year. After the somber tone of my last article, I decided to brighten the mood of the Wednesday articles a little and write about three things that have happened this year that made me smile (anyone who knows me knows how rare an occurrence that is).
I know, I was a little late jumping onto the Fortnite wave. However, I did finally jump on and I haven’t gotten off since. I started playing right around the new year. I can honestly say that Fortnite resurrected gaming for me. I hardly ever used my Xbox for anything other than Netflix until I started playing the game and now I play it almost every day. I’m going to paraphrase a tweet I saw a while back… Fortnite brought back the all night gaming with your friends, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Modern Warfare 2 days. Honestly, that is so true. Fortnite has undoubtedly made my 2018 better.
2. God’s Plan
In my 20 years of existence, I have never enjoyed a music video more than I enjoy the video for Drake’s “God’s Plan”. Something about seeing Drake give away the entire $996,631.90 budget the video made me extremely happy. As big a Drake fan as I already was, seeing this video made me like him that much more. Hopefully, more celebrities will follow I his footsteps and spread this kind of love in 2018.
1. The demand for stricter gun laws
Something great seems to be coming from the tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida. While the shooting itself was horrific and completely avoidable, students from the school have taken the opportunity to use the platform given to them by the shooting. They are demanding that the government take action to prevent anymore tragedies like this from ever happening again. Students, adults, and many lawmakers across the nation are calling for increased gun control measures. President Trump even signed a memo calling for the banning of bump stocks, which were used by the Las Vegas shooter who killed 58 in October of last year. While this is absolutely not enough, it shows that even the far right can be pushed to do the right thing if the people demand it. This could save a significant amount of lives. If real gun control measures are implemented in 2018, then that would be a revolutionary step in the betterment of society. Seeing the victims of the horrible tragedy rise to the occasion and call for change is one of the more empowering things I have ever seen.
2018 is sure to be an eventful year. I’m looking forward to seeing how this list changes as the year goes on.
Twitter: @ BigRedAFerg
By now, I would think that just about everyone is at least vaguely aware of what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. On the off chance that someone reading this is unaware, a gunman walked into the school and opened fire with an AR-15 assault rifle, killing 17 people and injuring many more. I feel that it is necessary to address this senseless tragedy. There are certainly people who think that this is the wrong time to talk about what happened and what needs to be done to stop it. I completely understand this viewpoint because children being slaughtered in our nation’s schools is an uncomfortable topic. However, there will never be a “right” time to discuss something like this. It will always be uncomfortable. Mid-American Culture has given me a platform with which to express myself in an uncensored, honest, and very personal way. I am going to use this platform to give my thoughts on the situation as honestly and directly as I possibly can.
I was just over one year old when Dylan Harris and Eric Klebold opened fire on the students at Columbine High School in 1999. The events at Columbine were horrific. News of the shooting dominated the media for weeks and weeks afterward. For the most part, Americans had never experienced something like that before. The thought that children attending school might have to find themselves under attack by deranged gunmen was unprecedented. Citizens and politicians alike were determined to never let anything like this happen again. This, of course, was not what happened. Since Columbine, there have been 25 fatal school shootings in the United States. Myself and my generation have grown up in the era of mass shootings. Politicians have made countless attempts and empty promises regarding the prevention of gun violence during my lifetime. As what happened in Florida clearly shows, nothing has helped. Nothing has helped at all. Many lawmakers aren’t even trying to solve the problem anymore. But, at least we have their thoughts and prayers.
While all mass shootings are obviously horrendous, school shootings hit especially close to home for me. I am a 20 year old college student studying to be a high school teacher. During my first semester of college, I was in an entry level class for education majors. One day, we did not do any work in this class. Instead, the chief of the campus police came to talk to us. The topic was mass shootings. He gave my class some background about mass shootings and what to do in the event of a shooting on campus and things like that. After he left, the woman who taught the class had a conversation with us that I will never forget for the rest of my life. She pointed out the frequency with which school shootings occur in the United States and the undeniable possibility that we, as future teachers, might have to face an active shooter situation one day. She addressed the importance of protecting students at all costs in these situations. We discussed teachers who had given their lives trying to protect students in these situations. I came to the disheartening realization that protecting students from gunfire had become part of the curriculum for those studying to be teachers. Gun violence in our country should never have reached the point where teachers have to be taught how to shield their students from bullets. But, here we are. Some people even take it a step further and say that teachers should carry guns in every school throughout the country. They really think that teachers should be expected to prepare themselves to kill an active shooter, who in many cases would be a student from the very school in which they teach) at a moment’s notice. If those in the field of education wanted to carry a gun and shoot bad guys, they would have entered the field of law enforcement or maybe joined the military. That is not what teachers got into the profession to do. They want to teach. The fact that a teacher having a handgun in his or her desk to fight off an attacker armed with an AR-15 is the best idea that many of our nation’s leaders have for preventing these shootings is sickening. But, at least we have their thoughts and prayers.
As more facts about the school shooting have become available, one thing is increasingly clear: This could have been prevented. Florida has some of the least strict gun laws in the country. Buying an AR-15 rifle is as simple as walking into a gun store, filling out a small form, not having a felony record, being over 18 years old, paying for the gun, and walking out with it. Stricter laws about the sale of firearms very well could have prevented this. In September of 2017, a YouTube user under the username Nikolas Cruz commented that he was going to “become a professional school shooter”. The FBI received a tip about the comment but nothing ever came of it. On February 14, 2018, a 19 year old man named Nikolas Cruz walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School carrying a legally purchased AR-15 rifle and unloaded “countless magazines” of ammo into the students and faculty of the school. President Trump stressed the importance of reporting potential threats to law enforcement after the shooting. What he apparently fails to realize is that Nikolas Cruz was reported to authorities. Under President Obama, regulations were put in place designed to prevent people who are identified as potentially having mental illness that could lead to this kind of attack from purchasing firearms. Critics of gun-control argue that if gun-control laws work, this should have prevented the shooter, who was said to have been known for erratic behavior, from getting a gun. The question is valid. Why didn’t this stop the tragedy in Florida? It is because President Trump signed a bill revoking these mental health checks in late February of last year. In the last few years, the Republican controlled Congress has voted against several pieces of gun-control legislation. Any number of these failed laws could have prevented this attack. But ultimately, Congress gave us no such laws. Fortunately for us, they were courteous enough to offer us their thoughts and prayers.
When I write for this site, particularly about politics, I try to write with as little bias as possible. But, given the circumstances, I am going to admit my bias here. I am biased against mass shooters, the deadly assault weapons many of them use, and the people who do nothing to prevent these attacks. I am biased against the gun lobby who is indirectly responsible for the deadly gun violence epidemic in our country. I am biased against every single politician who takes money from the gun lobby in exchange for pro-gun votes because they find the sound of campaign contributions to be louder than the screams of dying children will ever be. I am biased against the law in the United States that prevents the CDC from researching the national epidemic of gun violence because the NRA against such research. In 1996, Australia was struck by a senseless mass shooting, the likes of which it had never seen. Just weeks afterward, the country enacted some of the strictest gun laws in the world. It banned certain types of firearms and the government bought the firearms back from its citizens as compensation for their loss. There has not been a mass shooting in Australia since. Gun control laws work. When something tragic happens, whether it be drunk driving deaths, workplace accidents, mass shootings, or whatever the case may be, the answer is not to give up. The answer is certainly not to try to solve the problem by introducing more of what caused the problem to begin with. The answer is to eliminate what is causing the problem. Until our government acts, the epidemic of gun violence will not stop. The American people have demanded it in the past. Instead, they were given thoughts and prayers.
I found myself slightly optimistic that real change could occur after the Florida school shooting. The aftermath of the tragedy feels different. People are calling for real change. Our leaders seem passionate about preventing violence from striking again. It did not take long for me to lose this optimism. I remembered how different things felt after the Las Vegas shootings. I remembered how different things felt after the Pulse Nightclub shootings. I remembered how different things felt after the San Bernardino shootings. I remember watching one of my greatest heroes, President Barack Obama, crying after the Sandy Hook shootings. The defeated look on his face said it all. Despite his best efforts, and the efforts of many others, he couldn’t bring about the kind of change that this country needs when it comes to guns. No change will come until the American people demand it. Not everyone will wants to hear this, but thoughts and prayers will not do a damn thing to stop these atrocities. I will not apologize for saying that. I will not apologize for pushing my radically liberal stance of wanting less dead schoolchildren in America. Nobody should ever apologize for saying what is right. The time has come for change. The time is now. Demand it.
This week, instead of writing about my take on some current event or discussing the state of politics in America, I decided to take a break and write about my other interests. While my Wednesday posts will generally be focused on current events and politics, I’ve decided that once every few weeks, I will post about something entirely different to keep my content fresh and to prevent my writing from going stale. As you can see from the title, the first of these posts will focus on the discography of my favorite artist: Drake. I am a total Drake stan. During my freshman year of college, I wrote a 5-page essay detailing why Drake is the most versatile musician of the 21st century. I understand that I’m practically asking for some heat from a solid chunk of the music community when I say this, but I genuinely believe Drake is the best music artist of this generation. The man has a superb discography, complete with the numbers to back up the hype. Just this week, Drake dropped his two track EP Scary Hours and nearly melted the internet. The lead track, “God’s Plan,” broke Spotify’s single-day streaming record. These new songs paired with their crazy amounts of success led me to consider what Drake’s projects are. So in the spirit of the 6 God’s newest successes, here are all 8 of his major projects, ranked and analyzed.
8. What a Time To Be Alive
Best Track(s): 30 for 30 Freestyle, Digital Dash
Worst Track(s): Scholarships
By normal standards, What a Time To Be Alive ranges anywhere from an average to a slightly above-average album. However, by Drake project standards, his collaborative mixtape with Future is “meh” at best. Outside of “Jumpman”, (a song which I found to be entirely overrated), no particular track on the tape stands out. This can not be said for any of Drake’s other projects. Both Drake and Future exhibit nice flows put on top of a catchy beat on “Digital Dash” and Drake makes use of his underrated imagery skills by giving the listener a glimpse into his lifestyle on “30 for 30 Freestyle.” The rest of the songs on the project aren’t particularly noteworthy. I’d go as far as to say that some (I’m looking at you, “Scholarships”) are downright mediocre. While a few other tracks do have some redeeming qualities that you would expect from a Drake song, they do not prevent WATTBA from being last on this list.
7. If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
Best Track(s): 6PM in New York, Jungle, Madonna
Worst Track(s): Used To
If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is an extremely interesting album in the sense that it features some of Drake’s most underrated songs, as well as some of his most overrated songs. Some of the most popular songs on the album such as “Energy”, “Legend”, and “10 Bands” are good songs in their own right, but do not deserve a position amongst Drake’s top tracks. The album also features the song “Used To” feat. Lil Wayne which is the absolute worst song Drake has ever released in my humble opinion. His flow on the song is whiny, the beat is subpar, and the song is an overall travesty. That being said, the album does have its high points. I consider both “Madonna” and “Star67” to be in the running for the title of Drake’s most underrated song. “Jungle” is as close as Drake has come to replicating his cultural phenomenon “Marvin’s Room” and “6PM in New York” features some of Drake’s hardest hitting zingers. If I’m being honest, Drake could probably record himself eating cereal and call it (insert time here) in (insert city here) and I would love it because I’m such a sucker for the series. But regardless, “6PM in New York” is still a hot song. Unfortunately, given how overrated I think many of the songs on this album are, it finds itself at number seven on this list.
6. Thank Me Later
Best Track(s): Fancy, Find Your Love
Worst Track(s): Fireworks, Karaoke, The Resistance
Thank Me Later is pop-star Drake at his finest. I would argue that “Find Your Love” should be Drake’s most commercially successful song. If he were to have released it today, at the height of his popularity, instead of in 2010, I think it would have shattered records on top of records. The album also features pop highlights such as “Over” and “Up All Night”, which will almost surely make Drizzy’s Greatest Hits album one day. The album isn’t entirely pop, however. “Fancy” is an extremely underappreciated example of Drake’s rapping ability. On the downside, the album leads with three very underwhelming tracks and pop-star Drake simply isn’t my favorite rendition of him. However, the album is still solid overall.
5. More Life
Best Track(s): Passionfruit, Can’t Have Everything, Teenage Fever
Worst Track(s): No Long Talk, Get It Together
This album was probably the hardest one to rank. I couldn’t decide what to do with it. The good songs are there. The great production is there. The hype is there. It just doesn’t feel like a real Drake album. To a casual fan, me saying that probably makes absolutely no sense. But I think some of the more intense Drizzy fans will agree with me. “Passionfruit” is one of the best songs put out by any artist in the last several years. The song is freaking everywhere. We get glimpses of old school Drake on “Do Not Disturb”, “Can’t Have Everything”, and “Lose You”. “4422” is one of the most unique songs ever put out by Drake and I can’t help but feel the positive vibes it irradiates every time I hear it. I even enjoyed the tracks with Giggs more than most. Everything about this album seems really good. And for the most part, it is really good. A good comparison for this album is actually a meme I saw on twitter recently involving a spoon. We all have that one spoon in our house we don’t like. The spoon works perfectly well and for all intensive purposes, it’s a really good spoon. But we just don’t like it as much as the others. That spoon is More Life.
4. So Far Gone
Best Track(s): Best I Ever Had, I’m Goin In
Worst Track(s): The Calm
The way I see it, So Far Gone is the exact point when Aubrey Graham ceased to exist and Drake was born. He had made music before, but this project thrust Drake onto the scene and the rest is history. This compilation of fire is virtually nothing but bangers. “Successful” is one of the smoothest Drake tracks ever. “Best I Ever Had” is absolutely iconic. “Uptown” and “I’m Goin In” feature Drake spitting bar after bar with nowhere to go but up. There is very little you could say negatively about this project. The only thing holding it back from the albums holding a higher spot is the fact that this is probably Drake’s least musically diverse project. However, it is still flames.
Best Track(s): Weston Road Flows, Views, Too Good
Worst Track(s): Faithful, Grammys
Oh, Views…. What you could have been…..
During the weeks leading up to its release, Views was being hyped up by Drake to be his absolute masterpiece. This led to it being one of the most widely anticipated albums of my lifetime. The album is good. Actually, its very good. What it isn’t is Drake’s masterpiece. However, it is still one of his best albums. I came very close to giving it the number two spot. Ultimately, I gave it to a different album for reasons we will get to later. But for now, let’s dive into Views. “Weston Road Flows” may be Drake’s best example of storytelling. The title song “Views” has some of the best punchlines we had heard from the 6 God since his So Far Gone days. The album also featured two of Drake’s most commercially successful songs in “One Dance” and “Hotline Bling”. Everyone with the ability to hear (and probably even a lot of people without it) can testify to how huge both of these songs were. I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention how good the feels songs on the album are as well. “Redemption”, “Fire & Desire”, and “Feel No Ways” all hit you square in the heart. However, I would argue that the best song on the album is “Too Good” feat. Rihanna. Views released in the prime of Drake’s relationship with Rihanna and the duo was unstoppable. Listening to them go back and forth on the song is awe inspiring. It is a crying shame that Views doesn’t get the appreciation it truly deserves because of the immense expectations that were forced upon it.
2. Nothing Was The Same
Best Track(s): Come Thru, Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music
Worst Track(s): 305 To My City, Furthest Thing
If Thank Me Later is pop-star Drake at his best, then Nothing Was The Same is rapper Drake at his absolute best. Rapping the way he does on this album, Drake could go bar for bar with absolutely anyone in the rap game. Rapper Drake is my favorite version of Drake and he is in his absolute spitting prime here. That is why NWTS slightly edges out Views for the number two spot. The album leads with “Tuscan Leather”, the best opening song in Drake’s repertoire. What follows is a stunning spectacle of Drake’s impeccable rapping mixed with his signature feels songs. “Started From The Bottom” is arguably Drake’s most iconic song. “Hold On, We’re Going Home” would have to be up there as well. If you want to hear the 6 God outshining some of the top artist in rap today, then listen to “All Me” and “Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music”. Not only that, but the album also features “From Time”, which is competitive for Drake’s best showing of his sensitive side. Nothing Was The Same would be just about any other artist’s top album. However, it lands at number two on Drake’s discography.
1. Take Care
Best Track(s): All of them
Worst Track(s): None
I will try to keep this brief because I could literally go on and on about Take Care. In high school, I wrote an essay about why this is the greatest album of all time. I can honestly say that Take Care is the only album I can listen to all the way through without even considering skipping a track. “Marvin’s Room” is the quintessential feels song. “HYFR”, “The Motto”, “Crew Love”, and “Headlines” are all iconic. The title track “Take Care” brings together the power couple of Drake and Rihanna to create the best pop song Drake has ever released. This album brings together all of Drake’s different renditions of himself (excluding Island Drake, as he came about a few years after Take Care‘s release) and created the greatest masterpiece in hip-hop/R&B/pop history. In addition to that, Take Care served as my introduction to both The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar, who are two of the biggest icons in music today. Take Care is a piece of musical art, the likes of which we will probably never see again. That is why it is number one on my list.
I’m anxious to se how others feel on the subject. Feel free to comment your list, or tweet it to either me ( @BigRedAFerg) or the Mid American Culture twitter account ( @M_American_C).
It’s 2018, the government is literally shutdown (at least as I’m writing this, that may change today at noon) and as for everything else… Continue reading “Politics or Nah?”