Ayer, mis padres me dijeron que tenemos que mudarnos a Maryland después de la vacación porque mi padre consiguió un nuevo trabajo. No quiero mudarme porque todos mis amigos viven en Alexandria. ¿Qué debo hacer?
Desafortunadamente, no hay nada que puedes hacer si tu padre ya ha aceptado el trabajo. Pero no te preocupes. Maryland no es tan lejos de Alexandria. Intenta visitar a tus amigos con frecuencia. Vas a conocer a nuevos amigos en Maryland también. ¡Buena suerte!
Recientemente, habia un rumor que soy un ‘homewrecker.’ Una chica en mis
clases cree que yo robé su novio. Pero, Teresa, no lo hice. No sé porque ella cree eso. Su
novio y yo solamente somos amigos. Quiero hablar con la chica que me acusa, pero
tengo miedo. Necesito su consejo.
No soy un homewrecker
Querida No soy un homewrecker,
Entiendo que tienes miedo, pero, es importante hablar con la chica que te acusa.
Te aconsejo que cuando hablas con ella, sè calma y cortés. No necesitas más drama en su vida. Explica a ella que tú y su novio solamente son amigos. Tal vez debes compromisar
con ella, y no pasa el rato con su novio mucho más. ¡Buena suerte!
Since T.C. was designated a Persistently Lowest Achieving school last year, students and faculty have done their utmost to change T.C. for the better. Various policies, rules, and administrative action have rendered T.C. unrecognizable from last year. Although the school’s atmosphere has greatly improved, the effectiveness of the academic transformations has yet to be seen.
Since the change of administration this year, there has been a notable increase in direct administrative action towards students. “I think one of the major improvements we’ve seen so far is the climate of the school,” said Assistant Principal Peter Balas. Both school security and administrative surveillance have increased, from within the lunchroom to between classes, in order to reduce the numbers of students skipping and fights. “I think that [the administration] is doing a better job, [controlling] cell phones and ipods and so on,” said AP Statistics teacher Sally Miller. Math teacher Gary Thomas admitted he has not seen drastic improvements in regards to the general atmosphere. “It’s not clear to me yet that any of the plans have made a difference,” said Mr. Thomas, although he remains optimistic for future improvements.
One aspect of the transformation nearly everyone seems to agree has been successful is the increased discipline. T.C.’s new principal Suzanne Maxey’s disciplinary procedures have gained popularity due to their effectiveness. “We spent a lot of time over the summer planning with various staff members make sure that we had processes and procedures in place dealing with student conduct, whether for tardiness and attendance, and basically enforcing the rules,” said Mr. Balas. Overall, the number of fights between this year and last year has drastically decreased, and the number of students outside of classes has reduced as well. Mark Eisenhower, the executive associate principal in the Pathways to Graduation program, said “so far this year there have been less than half the fights compared to [the same time] last year.” This positive trend can be attributed to various portions of the administrative change, and many teachers and administrators have different ideas on where this positive influence lies. Administrative secretary in the Pathways to Graduation program Cosonja Lee credits the increased effectiveness of discipline to the dean system. “With the dean process, discipline is more immediate,” said Ms. Lee. Responsibilities previously designated to one administrator are now divided among the deans. The deans bear responsibility for discipline and direction where as academic principles are responsible for instruction.
Since last year’s PLA designation, T.C. Administration has done a great deal to restore Titan pride within the school. “One of the things I think that Ms. Maxey has done really well is to increase school spirit here at T.C.” said Mr. Balas. “Whether it’s [the band] playing in the lunchroom before a game, or having a pep rally, I think the level of student pride has greatly increased.” Overall the general climate of the school has improved, with more students getting involved in Titan events from the hypnotist show to volunteering for National Honor Society. “I think people are generally more [happy] to be here,” said senior Yosyp Shvab.
The transformation has not only affected the social environment of T.C., but aso its academics. The “no zero” policy was implemented to help students who were struggling in classes by making the lowest grade a 40%, which could be a 50% if the student put forth effort. To some, however, the policy seems unnecessary, or even counterproductive. Mr. Thomas has implemented a similar policy in grading his tests and quizzes for several years. “Whether I gave a 50% or a 20%, it didn’t make a difference,” said Mr. Thomas. “Where in life do you get 40% for not doing anything? I just don’t feel like we’re setting kids up for success in life with that attitude,” said Ms. Miller. Many students are skeptical of these new policies. “[It’s] just grade inflation. It makes sense from [an administrative] perspective, but they’re just inflating the numbers,” said Shvab. “I’m not really sure what the point is.” Some teachers feel the answer to academic issues is to hold students accountable. “We have all these great programs: the math center, the writing center, and the Saturday morning program, so there are a lot of teachers here before and after school [to help students],” said Ms. Miller. “[To improve grades] I think we have to make the students more accountable.”
The T.C. community has changed drastically changed since the PLA designation of last year. New policies and old rules are being revised and enforced in an effort to shake off this title. By all accounts the social aspect of the school has greatly improved to the level it needs to be at. However, the academic environment of the school still has a long way to go before T.C. can overcome its PLA status.
It was a cool November evening when I saw an Alexandria City Public Schools official engaging in potentially dangerous activity. I remember it clearly. My friends and I had decided to go shopping after school. On the ride back, with tired feet and empty wallets, the four of us joined the mass of commuters making their way home through the sluggish evening rush hour. We reached the busy intersection of Quaker Lane, Braddock Road, and King Street. The group was pretty quiet as we sat at the red light, until someone looked outside and saw who was in the car directly to our right.
Through my passenger-side window, merely feet away from where I sat, I saw a real live ACPS employee. We stared in awe, almost in disbelief that such a person existed outside the world of textbook budgets and school board meetings. It must have been a funny sight – four teenage girls gawking, slack-jawed, at something as normal as a person driving a car. Somebody joked, “How awkward would it be if they just looked over here right now?” We all agreed to stop our rubbernecking, but obviously continued to sneak quick looks. Then, one of us noticed that something was a little off. The driver was not looking forward, but rather directing his or her full attention downwards.
“Wait. Is [he or she]… texting?”
We immediately resumed our staring. It was true! This important, respected Alexandrian was holding up a phone, with his or her hands at the wheel. Then, even after the light changed and his or her car was in motion, the phone stayed up, and the official’s attention was still not fully directed at the most important task at hand – driving.
Our car buzzed with excitement. We considered taking a photo, but no one had a camera. Plus, we were way too scared of being seen. We began to wonder – isn’t texting and driving illegal in Virginia?
The answer is “yes.” And not only is it illegal, but incredibly unsafe. According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, in 2008 alone there were 28,395 crashes involving distracted drivers. Of those crashes, 114 people were killed. In response to the dangerous and growing trend of cell phone use while driving, Virginia banned texting and emailing while behind the wheel. The law went into effect on July 1, 2009.
The law is very specific. Drivers are forbidden from manually entering letters or text into phones for communication, as well as reading email or texts. The only exceptions are for drivers of emergency vehicles, the use of GPS navigators, when reporting an emergency, or when the vehicle is lawfully parked or stopped. The consequence for violating the law the first time is a $20 fine. If it ever happens again the price jumps to $50.
However, not many people are caught breaking this law. This is because it is considered a “secondary offense,” – an officer must have grounds to stop or arrest the driver for disobeying another law to issue a citation for the use of handheld person communication devices in a motor vehicle. Nevertheless, Maryland and Washington, D.C. have primary enforcement on texting bans, which means that officers do not need another reason to pull a driver over.
Moreover, whether the law has primary or secondary enforcement, whether it is punishable with a fine or a jail sentence – illegal is illegal. The details hardly matter. The Virginia legislature has deemed texting behind the wheel unlawful, so anyone driving in Virginia is prohibited from doing it. This includes everyone, from busy soccer moms and stressed commuters to chatty teenagers and, yes, even leaders in the local community.
The fact that this person is a prominent figure in Alexandria should be even more reason for him or her to adhere to rules and restrictions. City leaders should hold themselves to even higher standards, because citizens depend on them and look up to them. If a T.C. student sees an adult – specifically one who has authority over them and an important role in the area – ignoring a law, then there is no way of knowing that the student won’t say, “If they don’t have to respect the rules, neither do I.”
I have always been taught how important automobile safety is, both at home and in ACPS classrooms – I spent months in Driver Education, in an Alexandria public school no less, learning about every possible way to be safe on the road. If I look over and see someone doing something like this in the vehicle one lane over, I think, “That’s stupid, though not unusual.” Then, I do what I can to stay away from the dangerous driver – I’m not trying to dent my parents’ car. In this situation I thought, “That’s stupid,” and, “Why is this person responsible for decisions that affect my education and my future?”
When informed that four witnesses had seen him or her texting while operating a motor vehicle and asked for comment, the official said, “I think it’s highly unlikely. Maybe someone was calling and I was looking down at my phone to see who was it was.” Of course, there is no way of knowing for sure unless we were sitting in the passenger seat beside him or her – how does one tell the difference between checking an email and checking a call from the next car over?
The official confirmed that he or she was traveling between meetings that evening, that he or she did go through the intersection of Quaker, Braddock, and King, and that he or she arrived at his or her destination shortly after the time we reported our sighting.
This is in no way an attack on ACPS and its employees. I know they are important people – and important people have important things to do. This particular employee was undoubtedly busy taking care of things that may even have been for my benefit as a T.C. student. However, if this particular text or email was that important, he or she should have at least waited until the car was stopped again to resume working.
Even texting at the wheel of a vehicle stopped at a red light is not a safe activity. “There is no call, no text message too important it can’t wait until you get to your destination,” says Ray LaHood, United States Secretary of Transportation, who tells drivers to “put their cell phones in the glove compartment.”
It’s simply a word of warning: if you are a public figure, nearly everywhere you go there will be someone watching – and it’s up to you, ACPS officials, to set a good example for everyone else to follow. LaHood says, “Taking personal responsibility is the key to all of this.” Because if a city leader does not seem to think that safety is important, why should anyone else?
“Some retailers want to look to new things,” said Joseph Egerton, founder of the Arts Afire Glass Gallery shop on King Street. On Monday, November 22, Egerton and other small business owners discussed challenges and changes facing Alexandria retailers at a meeting of Agenda Alexandria, a nonpartisan organization that encourages debate on community issues. Retailers have had to adapt as Americans have become more dependent on technology. “Younger people are shopping online instead of going to retail stores,” said Egerton. “They spend their money in different ways.”
Small business owners have begun using social media to attract customers. “Most of us have commerce sites,” said Elizabeth Todd, who owns The Shoe Hive in Old Town. Although some small businesses still publish newsletters, most use the Internet and have Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. However, social media has not replaced traditional shopping. According to Christina Robinson, Vice President of Commercial Real Estate for the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, the majority of shoppers still want to see products in stores. Store websites are used to compliment the shopping experience. “We do not sell a lot directly on our website,” said Egerton. “[However,] it has brought us customers from around the world. I find it invaluable.”
Efforts to attract customers have become increasingly important during the economic recession. “Americans have lost a tremendous amount of net worth during the last couple years,” said Bill Reagan, who founded the Alexandria Small Business Development Center. “[This has] changed our buying patterns permanently. We are looking for value and bargains.” According to Reagan, all retailers offer sales to attract customers. “[Retailers] have to understand what [their] market is, who is buying, and offer value,” said Reagan. “When there is value, people will buy.”
Alexandria retailers work together to protect their businesses. Todd created the Old Town Boutique District three years ago, which is comprised of 28 stores that represent each type of store in Old Town. “Its purpose is to market Old Town as a shopping destination,” said Todd. “Each year we try to grow and do different things.” The District distributes maps and shopping guides and sponsors an annual scavenger hunt. “People try to work together to see what other stores interest their customers,” said Todd.
The Small Business Development Center was created to help retailers. It links retailers to professionals who offer them guidance. Professionals visit businesses and conduct training workshops. “We are there to strengthen businesses and fill in areas where they might not have all the expertise they need,” said Reagan. The Small Business Development Center works with another organization, the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, to strengthen the economy for retailers.
The parking situation has challenged Alexandria business owners, particularly in Old Town. It is often difficult for shoppers to find parking spaces. “[There is not] enough parking,” said Charles Langdon, a commercial real estate agent and Old Town resident. “All the open space that a [new parking] garage could go in has been consumed.”
Parking garages are filled by city employees, forcing shoppers to park on the street and in residential areas. Shoppers and retailers have been frustrated by the Old Town parking meters that only accept quarters and dimes. The instructions on the meter do not specify this, which has caused shoppers to lose money when they put the wrong type of coin in a meter. “It wasn’t a well-thought-out program,” said Egerton. “Shop owners have had to keep quarters on hand and pay parking fees for customers.” According to Egerton, the new parking meters were implemented in July 2010 and have caused sales to decrease. “A lot of people have not come back to Old Town because they end up with parking tickets,” said Egerton.
While parking meters have hurt retailers, the water taxi has helped. “[The water taxi] has had a tremendous impact in terms of the number of visitors coming from National Harbor,” said Reagan. During the first year the water taxi was used, visitors’ spending generated two million dollars more in taxes than in previous years.
Reagan said that he felt “cautiously optimistic” about the future of small retailers in Alexandria. “This holiday season there should be about a 2.3 percent increase [in retail sales],” said Robinson. According to her, companies have seen a recent rise in consumer confidence. However, it can be difficult for small businesses to support themselves financially. “The toughest thing we all face is being able to cash flow our businesses and survive during the tough times,” said Todd.
Accordingto Egerton, online sales in the United States totaled 131 billion dollars last year, which caused stores to lose money. If a shopper orders a product online from a store that is outside his or her state, then he or she does not pay a sales tax. This can make a substantial difference in a business’s revenue. “It is unhealthy that small, independent stores are primarily their own financiers. It is unsustainable,” said Egerton. “I wish I knew the future of retailers in Old Town.”
The next Agenda Alexandria meeting will be on January 24, 2011 and will address the role that residents play in the development of Alexandria.
Wake up, get ready, and drive to school is the morning routine for most of the students attending T.C Williams High School. However, a small group of students prefer one of the “greener” alternatives: biking.
T.C. Williams was built in 2007 as an eco-friendly school. It has low-flow sinks, a roof garden, and a growing recycling system. However, one thing seems out of place. “T.C. definitely could be more bike friendly,” said science teacher Patrick Earle, who is the school’s environmental steward. As the environmental steward, Mr. Earle focuses on how the school can become “greener”. He is major advocate for energy conservation and recycling, and he thinks that T.C. needs to take a closer look at bike transportation and storage at the school.
Mr. Earle realizes that the bike racks at the school are completely exposed to the elements. He thinks they should be covered to shield off rain and snow, and in turn students will not have to worry about their bicycles getting wet or damaged. He says a great place to put the racks would be under the stairs of the parking garage.
According to Mr. Earle, the City of Alexandria has to help, too. “Alexandria also has to commit to becoming more bike friendly,” said Mr. Earle of the bike paths and traffic in Alexandria. “King Street has no bike lanes, and there is no safe way to get to T.C. [on a bike],” said T.C. parent Margaret Wohler. She, like Mr. Earle, thinks that for T.C. to improve its bike safety, the city of Alexandria also needs to improve . “The City needs to invest in bike lanes, and locks… and it needs to be a joint effort [between Alexandria City and T.C.].”
Why students bike to school can be attributed to many reasons. “I bike to school because its good exercise,” said sophomore Avery Weaver. Weaver bikes to school most days, but some days she does not. “I sometimes don’t bike if it’s raining or snowy,” said Weaver. The lack of a covered bike rack prevents some students from biking days when the weather is an issue.
The number of students that bike to T.C. is disproportionate to the number of students that drive. It is simple to understand this by looking at the size of the parking lot in comparison to the bike racks. However, why students drive to school rather than bike or walk can be attributed to many things. “People would rather drive because it is faster, easier, and lets people sleep in,” said Ms. Wohler.
Many people say that T.C. is poorly equipped for bikers. Others say this reflects on how many people actually bike, and if more people biked, then more money would be put into making T.C. bike friendly. Many people, like Mr. Earle, feel T.C. needs to take an initiative to become more bike friendly, and strengthen its title as an eco-friendly school. With the increasing awareness of environmental issues, emission free transportation, like bicycling, is coming into greater focus in the T.C. community.
Fightin’ Titans sponsor Robert Trout believes “school spirit started” in 2004 with only six people. Former T.C. student Dean Muhtadi can be credited with starting Fightin’ Titans. In 2007, the first year in the new building, Fightin’ Titan t-shirts were made for the first time. Now, the group has expanded to 400 people and is expected to grow. “I think T.C. sports have become more entertaining over the years because we have better athletes,” said Mr. Trout.
Fightin’ Titans supports T.C. athletics, mainly boys’ basketball. At home and away games, students in the group sit together to cheer on T.C. teams. Senior officer Rebecca Kahn said that she joined the group because it is a fun way to support T.C. “It’s something everyone can join in on, which makes it fun,” she said. “I just liked the idea of being a part of a peppy, excited fan section.” Members also find it a great way to spend time with friends while supporting T.C. “I joined because it was a good way to get together with my friends and get excited for games,” said junior Dora Isopescu. “I’m proud to [be a part of] such a big student cheering section.”
Many people wish to see the group expand to involve more sports. “I think that Fightin’ Titans is fun,” said Executive Associate Principal of Athletics and Student Activities Stephen Colantuoni. But he hopes that the group becomes involved in more activities. Mr. Trout agrees, “It’s always been [a group that supports boys basketball] but we need to broaden it out to other sports [and] support girls’ games too.”
“Friday Night Lights was the beginning of something,” said Mr. Trout. The group has recently started to come out to support other T.C. teams. Senior officer Trav Clark said that the group supported the volleyball team this year during a playoff game. While the officers, Mr. Trout and members have a desire to expand the group, according to senior officer Ben Goodwin, it is up to the student body. “The expansion of the group to attending other events hinges entirely on the student body’s desire to attend additional event,” said Goodwin.
Although many encourage the expansion of the group, some feel that the “Fightin” in the name is not appropriate. According to Mr. Trout the term “Mighty Titans” was used to represent T.C. when it first opened. Eventually the term evolved into “Fightin’ Titans.” Mr. Colantuoni feels that in context the name is appropriate. “We would work hard, play hard, fight hard, that’s the context I take it in,” he said. “It’s a name, it’s not what we represent.” This is why Mr. Trout does not try to make the shirt designs violent. “We try to make it look comical,” Mr. Trout said.
T.C. athletes enjoy having their fellow Titans cheer them on during sporting events. “I think the Fightin’ Titans are a great spirit group,” said varsity basketball player TJ Huggins. “They bring energy and enthusiasm to the environment. They definitely get us pumped up for games. It’s great knowing that all those people will be cheering for you through thick and thin. It’s never bad to have a ‘sixth man’ in a game of five on five.”
Teenagers and children in the United States and in many other parts of the world live in a society where there is easy access to computers, the Internet, cell phones, texting, and other forms of technology. For many teenagers, the Internet and cell phones are main forms of communication with their peers. With the availability and ease of use of such technologies, “Cyberbullying” has become a more prevalent problem for teenagers and younger students.
According to stopcyberbullying.org, cyberbullying is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. Some of the main forms of cyberbullying are through texting, email, chat rooms, interactive gaming websites, instant messaging, blogs, virtual worlds, and social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. “Technology makes bullying so much easier, and makes it harder to get caught,” said sophomore Aliyah Nelson. Cyberbullying usually has a connection to school life, since it often decreases during the summer months.
Cyberbullying has increased greatly over the years. “It’s convenient because if someone won’t say something to your face, they’ll just do it online,” said sophomore Domina Williams. According to dosomething.org, in a national survey of 10 to 17 year old students, twice as many children, teens, and preteens had indicated that they had been the victims and/or perpetrators of online harassment in 2005 compared to 2000. The psychological and emotional effects of cyberbullying are similar to real life bullying experiences. Unlike bullying in school, cyberbullying often continues after school hours and on weekends.
Cyberbullying can be difficult to trace because being a perpetrator on the internet allows anonymity. “It [the internet and digital media] makes it easy, so anyone can do it,” said sophomore Amana Ali. It is often difficult to identify the source of the bullying and remove the information that has already been posted. Bullies usually know the victim and are almost always from the same school. According to dosomething.org, girls are almost twice as likely to be the victims and perpetrators of cyberbullying that boys are.
Statistics show that many students have been victims of cyberbullying. In a survey by i-SAFE America, it was found that 42% of students from grades 4-8 have been bullied online, and one in four reported incidents happening more than once. More than 35% have been threatened online, and in one in five of those cases, more than once. Fifty-three percent of students surveyed admitted to saying things that were mean or hurtful to other people online, and one in three admitted to doing it more than once.
One of the forms of cyberbullying are web pages made with the sole purpose of targeting and harassing a certain student or group of students. An example of this was a Facebook group named “We hate Stina Johansson,” which was the culmination of a prolonged bullying at school. Facebook took almost a month to remove this page.
Recently, a Facebook page was made on facebook.com, that harassed t more than 20 students students at T.C., most of them girls. That page, however, was deleted after being up for less than two weeks. “Facebook needs to do a better job at monitoring cyberbullying,” said sophomore Amana Ali.
Although many students are encouraged to report cyberbullying, about 58% of students who were cyberbullied do not report the incident to a parent or other adult, which can become a problem. “If nobody reports it, then they’ll never know,” said sophomore Amana Ali. There are many reasons why cyberbullying often goes unreported. One of the main reasons is embarrassment on the part of the affected student. Other reasons include thinking that attacks will escalate if an incident is reported, fear of being blamed, and fear of receiving restrictions involving digital access.
Cyberbullying has many negative consequences. The suicide rate between 10-14 year olds has almost doubled in the past two decades. Teens and kids who are cyberbullied show negative emotions, such as feeling sad, anxious, and having lower self-esteem. Although cyberbullying is not legal, it can sometimes be difficult to prosecute cyberbullies. In some cases, when schools try to discipline students for actions that took place off campus, they are often sued for exceeding their authority or violating free speech rights.
Many organizations have tried to provide support for victims of cyberbullying and help parents prevent it. Cyberbullyhelp.com, stopcyberbullying.org and safehorizon.org are just a few sites that support and find help for victims of cyberbullying.
In the basement of a seemingly average-looking house drum beats echo, guitar chords are strummed, effects pedals are tested, and T.C. band, The Lowdown, sit down for an exclusive interview with Theogony. The band is formed of four T.C. juniors, Sam Jones (guitar/vocals), Matt Blevins (drums), Cameron Pattisall (bass guitar), and Phil Espinoza (guitar).
On December 12, 2010, The Lowdown will be playing at the 9:30 Club as part of The Next Big Thing Tour, a showcase of local bands from the Maryland-Virginia-DC area. At one of their practices before the anticipated performance, the self-made band (except guitarist, Phil Espinoza who was practicing with his other band at the time) answered questions about their start, their identity, and their future.
THEOGONY: What’s the story behind your band name?
Sam: I thought it would be really cool if before announcing that we went on stage someone would say “Here’s the Lowdown,” like giving someone basic information about something. It would sound cool if you were announcing a band, “Here’s the Lowdown” and then a bunch of kids would walk on stage and break your ears. I mean, men. Manly men.
THEOGONY: Who are your band influences?
Matt: Miley Cyrus (laughter)… no.
Sam: I like The Misfits, I like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jimi Hendrix, The Ramones. Who else?
Matt: Led Zeppelin.
Sam: Yeah, that’s a big one.
THEOGONY: What genre do you identify with?
Sam: Rock n’ Roll. Everything. We’re just about everything.
THEOGONY: Didn’t you do country one time?
Sam: Yeah, we did that.
THEOGONY: When did you meet?
Sam: It was a dark and stormy night…
Cameron: Long walks on the beach…
Sam: We [Matt and Sam] met in fourth grade in all-city band.
Matt: I met Sam in the bathroom of Minnie Howard cause I punched him the face.
Sam: For no reason. Just put that we met in all-city band and became good friends.
Cameron: I met Sam in ninth grade in art class and he tried to get me to join his band and I said no, and eventually I said yes.
THEOGONY: Where have you performed before?
Cameron: Titan Expo, the [Scholarship Fund of Alexandria] Telethon, Titan Expo again, house parties. We’re about to play at the 9:30 Club [for The Next Big Thing Tour].
Sam: We still have tickets to sell!
THEOGONY: Do you know what time you’ll be playing?
Cameron: No, they’ll be conveniently telling us a few days before.
Sam: And we get to tell everyone who bought the tickets before.
THEOGONY: Do you have any habits or rituals before you play?
Cameron: We always eat after [we play]. Once you start eating, practice is officially over.
Sam: Except, today was different. Instead of eating, we put Christmas lights on my house.
THEOGONY: Do you know what songs you’ll be playing at the 9:30 Club?
Sam: We’ll be playing mostly originals.
THEOGONY: So, you write your own songs?
Sam: Yeah, we write our own songs, we’re quite good at it now. We used to not be. We go back and look at some of our old stuff and we’re like, “What were we thinking?”
Cameron: Yeah, it kind of sucked.
Matt: We’re like, that must be an early Lowdown song, when they were still called The Lowdown.
THEOGONY: Are the songs that you write about similar topics?
Cameron: We actually don’t have any topics, so I guess that they are really similar. I haven’t actually listened to a single lyric of any of our songs because they don’t actually make sense.
Sam: Because I write the lyrics and he listened to one and he’s like “Is this song about scaring kids on Halloween?” It was. Yeah, there’s a verse about it.
Cameron: They’re not about anything.
Sam: The more recent ones have some actual meaning to them.
Cameron: Don’t tell anyone that though.
THEOGONY: What’s the music-making process?
Cameron: There’s a very simple way we write: one person just plays something when we need an idea and everyone throws in their own thing…it usually takes about five minutes. Or else Sam will write a song in his free time and we’ll come over and he’ll teach it to us.
Sam: Yeah, but your songs last forever.
Cameron: I wrote a song once and we played it for like half an hour.
Sam: It lasted forever.
Cameron: They get pretty good, though.
Sam: They get really good, but we never record them.
Cameron: Then we edit them too much.
Sam: Then I try to add lyrics and I forget what I’m saying.
Cameron: Then we get pissed off and never go back to them.
THEOGONY: What’s your favorite song to play?
Sam: We’re good at our own songs.
Cameron: It’s always really fun when we play Smells [Like Teen Spirit].
Sam: It’s always really fun playing Smells Like Teen Spirit because we don’t actually try when we play it…It always just sounds like a mess.
Cameron: No, I’d say we do an alright job. We always pop a few strings or break a drumhead.
Sam: We’re also good at Santeria by Sublime. We cut out a verse everytime we play it.
Matt: It’s hard to play other people’s songs.
THEOGONY: So, you mostly play your own?
Sam: Yes, because we know what we wrote. We made it up so we know what we’re doing.
Matt: But in someone else’s song, they wrote it and it’s hard to put yourself in their shoes.
Sam: We find it harder to make something else your own if someone else wrote it.
THEOGONY: Do you have the stuff you wrote written down?
Band in unison: No.
Sam: I have lyrics written down in a little notebook.
Cameron: I’ve never played the same song twice.
THEOGONY: What’s your ultimate direction as a band?
Sam: Sideways. (cackles)
Cameron: I think we want to go east, maybe south
Sam: I want to go into another dimension.
Cameron: I think we want to make a whole lot of money.
Sam: Money’s good. I like money.
Cameron: Money, fame.
THEONGONY: Have you actually made any money?
Cameron: If you look at the grand scheme of things, we’ve probably lost money.
THEOGONY: How did you learn to play?
Cameron: I got interested in playing guitar when I went camping with some friends and this guy was playing his guitar the whole time…like Sam is right now…and he was always carrying it around and everyone was watching him and he wasn’t even that good at it, so that was motivation, to be better than him and go back and show him up, which I eventually did. After a few years, he had a couple years on me. But, yeah, I learned that in like the fourth grade and then in the sixth grade I got into playing bass in the school band, and it just took off from there…
Matt: I taught myself everything I know.
Sam: Matt’s a multi-instrumentalist; can you give them the list?
Matt: Any kind of guitar, drums, bass, I used to play trumpet, and not really piano…like one song.
Sam: You know notes.
THEOGONY: And you, Sam?
Sam: One of my friends convinced me to get a guitar, but since I was left-handed I knew it would cost a lot money. So I got my first, my only, acoustic guitar and took lessons.
Sam: Yeah, I took lessons, I’m a cheater. I got a teacher, but I got another teacher cause the first guy wanted to teach me old classic rock stuff and I wanted to learn [plays guitar in a non-classic rock way]. I wanted to learn crazy stuff like that.
THEOGONY: How old were you?
Sam: Twelve. And I took more lessons until I was cast in [the 2008 T.C. production of] Fiddler [on the Roof].
THEOGONY: Anything you’d like to say on Phil’s behalf?
Sam: I found out he could play in eighth grade and was really good.
Cameron: He’s probably the best among us.
Sam: He’s really talented but he can’t read music.
THEOGONY: Did he teach himself?
Sam: Yeah, he taught himself.
Matt: He’s not a cheater.
Check out the Featured Videos page for a video of the LowDown practicing.
Theogony records show that this boys’ restroom on the third floor has not had a working soap dispenser since the first week of school in September. Broader Theogony sponsored research has shown that this bathroom is not alone. In fact, recent results show that more than 40% of T.C. student bathrooms do not have a fully operational hand-washing station. Check the next issue of Theogony for additional coverage of this important health issue at T.C.