An Open Love Letter

Happy anniversary, KDVS and me! Five years ago on this very night, I timidly entered a Wellman classroom and for two hours sat entranced by DJ Rick‘s storytelling. Here is what I wrote in my journal that night:

“KDVS meeting tonight, music history chart of hip-hop and prog/industrial all over the board. So cool! Learned more there than in English 1. So I’m an official volunteer now, they seem like cool people.”

When I ventured into that first meeting as a mid-quarter newcomer, I didn’t know I would find a welcoming, stimulating community in a matter of weeks. The catacombs of KDVS became a home base, a refuge providing warmth in the winter, AC in the summer and good sounds year-round.

When I performed my first volunteer task for Joe Finkel, scanning images for the next KDViationS, I didn’t know that for three glorious years my name would be at the top of that masthead. I, too, got the distinct pleasure of ordering hours-hungry minions to do my bidding.

When I first heard Big Sammy‘s radio show, I didn’t know that I could like hip-hop that much, having only heard KSFM’s garbage until then. It was the first of many revelations about new kinds of music, a series that altered my own radio show until unrecognizable from its original form.

So thank you, KDVS and all my fellow DJs, for five fantastic years. I never dreamed I would find such a love.



December 15, 2009. Tags: , , , . autobio, music. Leave a comment.

The Ta-da! Moment


Every interview I’ve read or conducted about a teacher mentions their “A-ha! moment.” Apparently it’s this magical epiphany when a student finally understands the concepts a teacher has been driving at all along. It’s proof that their work is not for naught.

Well, I’ve never delivered an A-ha! moment, but I have executed many — what I will call — Ta-da! moments.  This came to mind tonight as I concluded my screenprinting class at the UC Davis Craft Center. The Ta-da! is the epiphany when a student realizes he is capable of amazing things.

Ta-da! You can silkscreen any image you want onto a T-shirt and wear it right out of the classroom, without going to a professional printer!

Ta-da! Your hand-scrawled poetry has been printed 6,000 times in a magazine and is being distributed all over the country!

Ta-da! You can record a song in your bedroom at night and hear it played on the radio the next day!

I remember my first Ta-da moment delivered: In high school I booked my friends’ band, Red Sauce, to play a concert in our auditorium. When I brought to lunch a copy of Alive & Kicking that listed their name in the events calendar, the guitarist ran through the quad yelling unintelligibly and flailing the paper around. That’s when I decided I must find more ways to say, “Ta-da!”

November 5, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , . autobio. 2 comments.

The Worth of College and Community

In “The College Calculation,” (New York Times Magazine, Sept. 24) writer David Leonhardt questions the worth of a four-year college education in our current economic setting. Students graduate with an unmeasured amount of knowledge gained, few — if any — job opportunities, and $20,000 in loans to pay off. Is the debt worth the education that may or may not guarantee you a higher-paying job?

Leonhardt cites a 2007 Census Bureau report that claims college graduates with bachelor’s degrees earn an average of $47,000 annually, while their dropout counterparts earn $33,000. I have trouble commenting on this sensibly, because I am a College Graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree, but in my first year out of school I made approximately $3,000. I applied to exactly 46 full- and part-time jobs before I gave up counting, and then only a few more before I gave up and enrolled at Sacramento City College. To me, the question is not whether the education guarantees you a higher-paying job; it’s whether the education guarantees you a job at all.

When I was accepted to UC Davis in 2004, I think it was partially thanks to (what I believe to be) the campus’ desire to rise into the “upper tier” of the UC system, alongside UCLA and UC Berkeley. After “increased efforts to attract prospective students,” the university accepted way more freshmen than it had room for; this didn’t hit until 2006. That fall, classrooms overflowed, an influx of bicyclists caused more funny accidents than usual, and — the craziest part — freshmen were turned away from the dorms and asked to find apartments instead. We complained about it then, but compare it to now, when UCs are accepting 2,300 fewer students per year, and I would much rather have a seat on the lecture hall steps than a rejection letter.

That said, I would also prefer a seat on the steps even if it meant paying a tuition increased by 32 percent, because of one aspect of a college education Leonhardt failed to mention: everything gained outside of a classroom. I learned how to take pride in my school and my town, how to fix my bike, how to make friends who will most likely be business connections for the rest of my life. My English B.A. might not mean anything to potential employers, but my experience at KDVS and The California Aggie (both of which I could participate in because I was a Davis student), doing real-life PR and publication work, will get me where I need to go.

So to answer Leonhardt’s and my own question, yes, it is worth it. It is worth it to be a part of a community, to learn exactly what that means, and to write your own definition of how you fit into your school, your world — just hope your definition doesn’t include the word “unemployed.”

September 30, 2009. Tags: , , , . currents. 2 comments.