NC State University is right in the middle of a sprawling city. Because of this, it is not very common you will see wildlife around campus. Since the start of last year, I have tried to take a picture whenever I see the fauna of campus. Starting from last fall, I want to share some of the animals I have run into.
Wildlife Pictures and Stories
The animal that started this collection for me is this black cat I ran into at 3:01 in the morning on a late-night walk in August. There was something mystical about running into this little guy at night so late at night when there wasn’t a single person around Centennial Campus. I have not seen this cat since it ran off into the night shortly after I took this blurry picture, but I hope they are doing well, living a full and happy cat life.
The next animal I ran into was a doe and her fawns at night about a month later. Again on a late night walk, I ran into this nice little family at 3:13 in the morning. It’s been almost a full year since this late-night encounter but these deer fawns are probably fully grown now, roaming around campus on their own.
After a winter break away from campus, I went on a run around Lake Raleigh. While on my run I looked over the water and saw these two lovely turtles basking in the sun. Since then, I look out at that log whenever I pass by it, and often another turtle is there, basking.
Seeing this snake peering over at me out of the corner of my eye as I left my building was quite the jump scare. This is probably the largest snake I have ever seen out in the wild. However, when I realized that they meant no harm and were just relaxing out in the evening sun, I relaxed. When I returned to the spot a few hours later, they were gone.
While this is a very small fraction of the wildlife I have seen around NC State’s campus, I think these animals in particular had quite the impact on me.
I am glad that while NC State is in such a big city, there is a lot of nature around, allowing for animals like these to make their way into students’ lives. Taking time to enjoy and appreciate the nature around me on campus has been a great source of stability through difficult coursework.
If you want to experience nature around campus but don’t know where to go, some good places are:
The year is 2012, I’m 11 years old and in desperate need of braces. However, I have five baby teeth that won’t budge and thus the dentist is going to rip them from my skull. I’m young and scared, and am told that for the duration of this appointment I can listen to music really loud in my earbuds so that I don’t have to hear the tools that are ravaging the insides of my mouth. I have an iPhone 4 and a pretty hefty iTunes library that I had been building for the last couple of years on my iPod touch. I ponder what to listen to, but eventually land on One Direction’s then-brand-new album “Take Me Home.”
As I’ve touched on in previous blog posts, I was a huge fan of One Direction (or as we called it back then, being a Directioner). I was solid in my choice and thought it would be a good time to memorize some of the lyrics better since it had just come out the month before. I don’t remember how long the extraction of my teeth took, but I do remember getting through all of the songs at least once and also being told that some of my teeth were “stubborn.” Did the album succeed in drowning out the dentistry noises? Absolutely not.
I also remember listening to the album a lot in the week or so after my teeth were pulled in the recovery process. This is my first vivid memory with an album that I chose of my own volition, and I hope to share more memories with albums in the future.
When I was a pre-teen, I, like millions of other people, was obsessed- and I don’t use that word lightly- with One Direction. I had posters and random branded merchandise (a toothbrush and toothpaste), I read fanfiction, the whole nine yards. My older sister was also very into them, and our obsessions fed off each other. From their first album all the way until their last, we were invested, although the sparkle did fade after some time.
By the time they were on their third tour titled “Where We Are Tour,” I had been wanting to go to one of their concerts for what felt like forever. As a Christmas gift, my parents got me and my sister lawn tickets at their Charlotte show at PNC Music Pavilion (then known as Verizon Wireless Amphitheater). We were ecstatic.
I had a soccer game earlier in the day, but after I came home and showered and got into my concert attire (a flannel, grey t-shirt, and jeans), I was ready to go. Upon arrival, my sister and I quickly realized that my soccer game had impeded us from getting there when doors opened, and that we’d be seated at the back of the lawn.
As disappointment crept up my throat, two middle aged women approached me and my sister, and told us that they had seated tickets that they were not going to use. At first skeptical, we further questioned them, and they explained that for some reason I no longer remember that they were leaving and no longer needed the seats. My sister, the older one, and thus in charge used her best judgement and decided that this was legit. We walked up to the guards scanning the seated tickets and they pointed us in the right direction: we were going to be astronomically closer than we had expected.
I don’t remember a single thing from that concert. The only fragment of a memory I have is that I cried during “What Makes You Beautiful.” Apparently, Harry Styles put on a banana costume. But what I will always remember is those two women making two teen girls’ dreams come true, and that for a while, it was the best night of my life.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, I was a Niall girl.
When I was in 7th grade, at the awkward age of 12, I got the opportunity to go to my very first concert. I went with my older sister, and to be honest, I don’t remember any of it. However, what I do remember is how we got the tickets.
One morning, I was awoken by my dad way before I was supposed to get ready for school. I was groggy and confused, but once I gained awareness of my surroundings, I realized he was on the phone with my mom. They were frantically trying to tell me that my mother had won tickets to a Selena Gomez concert coming up in October. I was excited, confused, bewildered, but more than anything, I was tired. Thus, I shrugged it off and tried to go back to sleep.
When I woke up for the second time that morning, I quickly remembered what had happened earlier. Had my mom actually won tickets to a Selena Gomez concert? How had she done that? Why did she want tickets to see an emerging Disney star?
On the way to work on that early morning in 2013, my mom was listening to a local radio station and they were giving away two concert tickets to see Céline Dion. Or, at least that’s what my mom thought when she called in to try to win. Miraculously, my mom was the lucky winner, and in the process of securing the details of when and where she would receive the tickets, she found out that she had won tickets to see Selena Gomez, not the beloved singer of “My Heart Will Go On.”
She figured that her 16 and 12-year-old daughters would be excited to go, as neither of us had gone to a concert before, and boy was she right.
Although I don’t remember a thing from that night, I love telling the story of how a mistake, some luck and a coincidence led to me and my sister going to our very first concert.
My good friend, Doris (a.k.a. DJ Babycakez on WKNC 88.1), told me a story the other week that I’ve thought about every day since. As I remember, when Doris was in high school, she’d go to a local coffee shop to see her friend’s band, among others, perform in a weekly show. The crowd was apparently quite the mixed bag. It really comes down to the rats.
Among the crowd was a small community of rat owners that would bring their pets to the show each week and allow them to crawl up and down their bodies as they walked around the main floor. As Doris recalls, the owners would sometimes approach groups of people and introduce their rats as if they were people. My favorite rat name that Doris relayed was Stargirl. What a name for a rat.
This story is a prime example of the generally intriguing nature of a concert crowd. In my experience, and clearly Doris’, concerts tend to draw out some fascinating people with equally fascinating stories. Even among a niche music genre or band, there’s usually a jarring combination of people compared to other sorts of gatherings.
It is with Doris’ story in mind, I call upon everyone to remember their favorite concert crowd encounters and to savor the fact that you’re likely to meet someone outside your average realm at nearly any concert you attend.
Here’s to concert rats, unique individuals and Stargirl, of course,
The label “experimental hip-hop” seems to now extend to more artists in the industry than it used to, but there’s no denying Death Grips helped found the genre and still remain at its center. Though Zach Hill is often noted as the leading creative of the group, Stefan Burnett, better known as MC Ride, is the vocal star. His punk, industrial-inspired delivery feeds on noise and electronic styles and production to create an unmatched sound. With Andy Morin also on keyboard and production, the music trio has put out six studio albums, a mixtape and six other miscellaneous projects.
Death Grips formed in 2010 and I’ve been listening since 2015. Considerably late to the show, I still found myself among very few fans in my area during high school. That being said, I spent my teen years in Wake Forest, NC. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Death Grips’ internet and streaming popularity were stronger than ever and continuously growing. I was a proud, but delusional, DG fan.
When you find a new project as inventive as Death Grips, it feels like stumbling upon gold. I thought I was nearly alone in this discovery and it took time for me to realize they were incredibly popular. As years passed and their popularity still grew, I found myself listening to Death Grips as often as I used to, but now in private. There was a certain embarrassment of Death Grips for me, and since talking to friends, I’ve learned for others, too. The embarrassment, perhaps stemming from a sudden jump of feeling special to being just a cog in the DG machine, was polarizing. Older listeners retreated to their rooms to partake while newer listeners were outwardly experiencing their newfound feeling of uniqueness.
Death Grips, despite their ever-altering audience, continue to put out music and I’ve noticed, both in myself and the people around me, the former DG embarrassment lifting. As people come to terms with liking music simply because it’s good and putting less concern into whether or not it boosts their individuality complex, I find that Death Grips is getting more public love from their long-time listeners.
As an ode to my lifted DG embarrassment, here’s a short list of some of my favorite Death Grips songs (in order of release):
One of my favorite things about Spotify is the curated playlists made just for you, especially the yearly rewinds; it’s so interesting and gratifying to see how my listening habits change over the years. There was one playlist that caught my eye recently called “Your Summer Rewind,” which features some of my most-played songs from past summers. As I scrolled through the playlist, memories flooded back of when, where, and who I was during those summers.
There are the classic upbeat summer songs about being happy and loving the sun, like “Shotgun” by George Ezra, “Sunflower,” by Rex Orange County, and “Sunshine” by Tom Misch. But most of the songs are all tied to a specific memory, place, or person.
Summer 2019, the summer before my freshman year of college, I was very emotional about leaving home, I even made a whole playlist about it. That explains “Nobody” by Mitski, “A Little More” by Catie Turner, and “A World Alone” by Lorde. A few weeks into college, I couldn’t stop listening to “Halo” by Beyonce, so that too, wormed its way onto my playlist.
Summer 2018, I listened to “Blonde” by Frank Ocean all summer, so “Pink + White” and “Nights” made it on the list. I remember listening to “Nights” for the first time at the pool with my friends, looking up at the stars, feeling whole. That summer, my friends and I decided it would be fun to memorize the rap in “Determinate,” a song from “Lemonade Mouth,” a Disney Channel Original Movie. I listened to it dozens of times, trying to keep up with the fast-paced lyrics, so many times, that it too made it onto my Summer Rewind.
Summer 2016, I was still mostly listening to pop music, and Jon Bellion had just come out with “The Human Condition.” “Guillotine,” was my favorite song off of that album, and it used to be my most played song of all time. Other songs from that album found their way on the list: “Maybe IDK” and “Morning in America,” just to name a couple.
Summer 2015, I discovered my love for music, and became obsessed with Troye Sivan. His debut album “Blue Neighborhood” and preceding EP “WILD” had yet to come out, so I was listening to “Happy Little Pill” on repeat. I can’t listen to it anymore because of the strong nostalgia it gives me, transporting me back to when I was freshly fourteen years old and not even a freshman in high school. But Spotify doesn’t know that, so onto the playlist it went.
The playlist is only fifty songs, but it felt like going through old photo albums, reading old texts, and opening a time capsule all at once. When I look through playlists from summers past that I made, I am reminded of the experiences I curated and fantasized, the summer I wish I had; that is not always representative of how things go, or what I end up listening to, it’s subjective. Spotify, a program made with code and algorithms, shows me the tracks I actually listened to most, a third party view of my past.
I was making my way through the crazy world of Tori Amos, and I noticed something weird. She kept making Nine Inch Nails references. She name-dropped the band, their album titles, etc. Puzzled, I checked the Wikipedia page for “Under Big Pink,” and realized Trent Reznor was credited with backing vocals on the album’s sole love song. How did these two artists from opposite ends of the music world come together? Little did I know I was about to get pulled into a mostly joking conspiratorial tale of hatred, (Courtney) love, and one of the funniest celebrity duos on earth. There are multiple blogs devoted to laying out these absurd stories, but the one I found most entertaining was this article’s namesake: The Tori and Trent Conspiracy. If you have a spare hour to read this and the other blogs linked, I highly encourage you to go on that journey, but if not, I’ll hit the highlights here.
So, let’s lay out the Dramatis Personae, shall we: Trent Reznor, creator and sole member of industrial rock’s breakthrough band: Nine Inch Nails. Perpetually miserable and probably a danger to polite society. Next, Newton, NC’s own Tori Amos. Classical pianist, songwriter, godmother of 90s chick-rock, weirdest redneck hippie witch-woman alive. And finally… Courtney Love. Okay look, I’m probably one of the last seven people on earth who actually likes Love, but even I have to admit that if you listen to more than a few stories from artists who knew her, she comes off as kind of the archvillain of 90s rock. No, she did not kill Kurt Cobain. Yes, her band is better than Nirvana (Come at me). Yes, she is a female version of the villain archetype on Ru Paul’s drag race. Everyone on the same page? Too bad, the story is starting anyways.
Tori and Trent
Tori Amos and Trent Reznor report admiring one other’s music long before meeting. This is a little weird, considering Tori Amos is a progressive pop singer a la Kate Bush, and Trent Reznor is a screaming nutjob a la the Butthole Surfers (real band NIN toured with), but it’s true. There are some shared themes between them though: both are unreservedly confessional lyricists, and they both really like pretending to be Jesus. Apparently, Trent Reznor reached out to say he loved “Little Earthquakes,” and a friendship was born.
Both musicians have given numerous accounts of their relationship, some seemingly contradictory, but all accounts of their friendship are bound together by being just absolutely hilarious. Amos seems to think of herself as a surrogate mother figure for Reznor, saying that she thinks he would be a lot less angry all the time if he had some more nurturing. To quote from Spin magazine’s interview with Amos, “What Trent Really needs is a blanky and a hot chocolate with marshmallows. He doesn’t need another hole to crawl in. I think someone should give him one of those little hard hats with a miner’s light on it, so when he gets lost in a dark hole, he can find his way out.” This is obviously VERY funny if you’re familiar with any of Reznor’s work, but it pales in comparison to “The Chicken Incident,” where Amos, upon visiting Reznor in the house of the Manson murders (which Reznor had rented out because you know, of course he had), spontaneously forgot how to cook chicken. She was going to make him dinner because, in her words, “He just looks so anorexic sometimes. I just look at him and go, baby, you need my cooking honey.” But on this fateful evening, she couldn’t as much as fry a chicken. This incident was apparently so scarring to the born southerner that she called her mother on the spot to ask her why she had just ruined a dish that she had been making for 20 years. Her mother, either a witch, a master comedian, or both, told her solemnly that ever since the Folger’s coffee heiress died in the Sharon Tate house, there has been a curse against anything culinary on the premises. No wonder Trent Reznor is so angry all the time, celebrity ghosts keep ruining his food.
So, what’s this about a conspiracy, and where does Courtney Love come into all this? Well, that’s where this objectively delightful story takes a turn for the tabloids, and I don’t totally feel comfortable repeating some of the things Bizarre Love Triangles or even some actual news sites say about the matter. I’ve linked the blog’s crazed spirals of conspiracy if you want to hear them yourself. But, to summarize, Tori and Trent’s relationship falls apart, according to Reznor, because of “Some malicious meddling on the part of Courtney Love.” This is a little confusing given Love and Amos have ostensibly never met, but Courtney has maintained that she had a romantic relationship with Reznor briefly, something Reznor denies. This has led to speculation about Love’s motives, and the precise nature of Reznor and Amos’ relationship, as well as lyrical analysis of songs Amos, in her own words, had “allegedly written” about Reznor. The blog also goes the extra mile to rope in every major 90s alt-rock star in the process. It’s a wild ride, but don’t take any of it too seriously.
So… what does all this tell us, other than to not make chicken on the site of a brutal murder? Well, I guess if I must make a closing remark it would be that genre is a fickle thing, and sometimes artists from opposite worlds can have some common ground. Amanda Palmer of Dresden Dolls fame wrote an interesting article about the two of them if you want an introduction, and if you like one, but haven’t heard of the other, give them a listen, you might find something new.
Let me paint you a picture. A group of respected men walk into a New York Corner Store. They have a little chatter with the owner, otherwise known as “Papi,” and ask for a chopped cheese, a staple New York delicacy. It differs from it’s cousin, the Philly Cheese Steak, in the distinction that the steak is chopped up along with the cheese. After a short discourse on the goods of their exchange, the conversation between the men shifts to new and upcoming rappers “acting like they’re cozy.” This facade seems to antagonize the group of men, because the new rappers are not cozy. The group of men have been in the game, working hard for years, and quite frankly it’s offensive to see these new rappers come in, “sweat-suited up,” with their cheap, off brand clothes while concurrently trying to look like the homies. They are not cozy.
Another unnamed member of the group, who had until now kept quiet, interjects and concurs that he has also taken notice of the recent mockery. However, he goes on to describe how exorbitantly cozy he is. While these new rappers may seem cozy, the man speaking is coming through with the Playboy boxers, with the Playboy fitting, wearing old man socks with the things that hold them up (the sock holsters). He reassures the group that he is cozy and the other men seem to approve.
While this outfit is undoubtedly cozy, a third speaker, who I can only assume to be Rocky, brings light to the situation. He shows a confidence that leaves the group thinking if they even know the true meaning of “cozy.” He uses his outfit from yesterday as an example. While a seemingly meaningless phrase, the use of the word “yesterday” implies that for Rocky to dress this cozy is nothing to him. It’s something he casually does on a daily basis. As to the outfit he wore, it consisted of the Valentino shorts with white and red pinstripes. Rocky sported a real goose down feather bubble jacket. He described it as “very cozy, warm.” Then he had the durag hanging down with the bow string slinging in the wind. It was a two toned durag, with red on one side and white on the other. Some say he was so cozy that he fell asleep before he left the house. When asked what his inspiration was he told them “global warming.” In short, he was “too cozy.”
This is an intro to a song called “Yamborghini High,” a tribute to the late A$AP Yams. It’s one of my favorites and I think the intro was just too good not to share.
Hope you guys enjoy, -The DJ formerly known as “Chippypants”
Do you like album art? I know I do. Some of the best albums were characterized by their album art. Take Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” for example. Any Pink Floyd poser can easily identify the iconic light refraction through the pyramid, probably more than they actually know what the album sounds like. A lot of fame can be attributed to an eye-catching cover. But nothing is more eye-catching than the Instagram account @albumsofbikinnibottom.
The creative genius who runs this account takes album covers and reimagines them as if they were created in the SpongeBob universe. They cover all the greatest hits, from Van Halen to Weezer. For example, take the Nirvana album “Nevermind.” Instead of the classic image of a baby swimming after a dollar, we have a picture of Patrick under the sea happily reaching for a dollar in Bikini Bottom currency attached to a fishing hook. (Side note, did you know that babies can naturally swim before they learn how to walk? Crazy, right?)
Other honorable mentions include What I’ve Become by Ashes Remain and A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out by Panic! at the Disco. For the Ashes Remain album a Faceless Man in a chair is replaced by SpongeBob sitting in his armchair when dancing anemones comes on the television and the Panic! at the Disco cover includes all of the main characters sitting around a table in a manner that reminds me of the last supper.
However, my favorite album replacement has got to be Blind Melon. The creator of this masterpiece replaced the dancing child with the meme of squidward with the bloodshot eyes and all of his arms outstretched in a frenzy. It’s almost better than the original.
For more silly album replacements, I highly suggest you check out the Instagram for yourself @albumsofbikinibottom. You won’t be disappointed.