Author: Madeline McGuffin

Frankie Teardrop rocks out

“This next song is a rock-n-roll song,” the front man of Frankie Teardrop said, and the band launched into yet another raucous number, pleasing the dance-happy hipsters in the front row. If you couldn’t muster the willpower to slide on the black ice all the way down to the Art Barn last Friday, let me tell you that you missed out on an ecstatic little grungy romp. Though I was one of a brigade of skeptics, the show this punk band put on was a great time for all in attendance.

The lead guitarist, wearing a black muscle t-shirt, was locked into a seemingly constant deep-lunge position with occasional hip thrusting. Getting a few good feet of air at one point mid-shred, he landed in a full splits and continueds his face-melting seamlessly.

Soaked in the pigment-rich red and blue lights, the vocalist’s mouth stretched into a charmingly off-key shriek: the image of a grungy, longhaired Buddy Holly with his large wire-rim glasses.

The afroed drummer added an element of cleanliness and simplicity to the beat in a simple grey t-shirt, enhancing the cacophony in the small, wooden room, bouncing his harmonious crashing and bashing sounds upwards into the cavernous rafters.

The crowd occupying the balcony above, dressed in dark colors, leaned their weight onto the railing, dangling ring-laden fingers off the edge, nodding their heads appreciatively and scanning the crowd below for others worthy of a place on the balcony. The colored lights jumped and clashed on their faces.

By contrast, the crowd at the forefront of the venue was visibly thrilled, hopping in place, head-banging delicately. One kid arrived with lit Christmas lights wrapped around his head for reasons unknown. The visible excitement generally halted past the first row, where the crowd was once again sullen and somber, clumped into respective social cliques. The group I arrived with, however, was an outlier, claiming the back row position in the violently thrashing mosh pit.

In attending this event I felt as if I had been transported back into a time before the innovations of auto-tune and studio re-mastering. While some might consider this a dark, primeval time in music history, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a simple, unabashedly genuine and real experience, one in which the audience is on the same physical as well as metaphysical plane as the band. This kind of gig unites people in a way that just doesn’t happen anymore. The Great Equalizer, if you will. One of the tech workers even took off his beanie to head bang for a few moments, his long hair flying wildly and with abandon.

At one point I snatched a piece of cold pizza that had been left over from the band’s pre-gig binge. I propped open the back door, and stepped out for a minute to enjoy under the light of the nearly full moon and the ever-present shadow of the wind turbine. That one moment standing out in the cold eating cold pizza, the pulsating throb of the band slightly muffled, was an existential one. I went back inside after a few frigid minutes to find the vocalist having a little back-and-forth with the audience.

“Anybody got a Tumblr out there? Original content or re-blogs?” he asked.

He got a scattered affirmation from throughout the crowd.

“This song is about Chicago. It’s called ‘Chicago,’” the frontman said.

This was followed by an instantaneous explosion of instruments. I begin to take part in the thrashing, thoroughly enjoying the unbelievably collegiate vibes.

Overall, this was a supreme event, wrought with utter joy and the excitement and vitality of youth. The Pause Techs claim that the set-up was surprisingly simple and seamless – coupled with a smooth show and a good turnout the gig was a hit. The band themselves was surprisingly skilled and enjoyable in a grungy, garage-band way. Also, they had some killer dance moves. For a ragtag group of local Minnesotan boys, Frankie Teardrop slayed.

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Senator Dahle on education

A local driver’s education teacher, a Minnesota state senator, an Iowan: Senator Kevin Dahle is many things. On Tuesday, Feb. 9, Dahle, who represents an area including most of Northfield in the state senate, addressed students in the Black Ballroom, speaking about what happens behind the scenes of the Minnesotan education system.

A teacher for upwards of 32 years, Senator Dahle started off at a school in Sebeka, Minn., where the principal coincidentally had the same surname. Dahle joked that it is how he got his first job, as his boss wanted to have some kind of lasting legacy.

In his talk, Dahle first addressed the issue that a starting wage of $37,500 a year, coupled with student loans, is not attracting many young people to start teaching in America. For this reason, he hopes to enact various strategies to encourage young teachers, such as loan forgiveness, low interest loans and tax incentives. Another major key to Dahle’s strategy lies in abolishing the Minnesota teachers licensing exam.

“We need to draw people into the state, not send them elsewhere,” Dahle said. “We need to try to streamline testing.”

He claimed that Minnesota’s brutally strict licensing exams are not always necessarily applicable depending on the type of teacher. For example, someone interested in teaching kindergarten should not be required to know how to do advanced calculus.

Abolishing the teacher’s licensing exam in Minnesota would also encourage ethnic and socioeconomic diversity of teachers within the state, which has a primarily privileged, white and well-educated class of teachers. There are also several obstacles in teaching at different school districts. The complexities of the process overall are discouraging to aspiring teachers, which Dahle claims is the root of the teacher shortage that the state is currently experiencing.

The replacement of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) by the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 also ties in deeply with Dahle’s perspective on the antiquated education system in Minnesota. The teacher’s licensing exam itself was in fact born out of the NCLB, and the recent replacement considered Dahle’s critique. With this new program, there will be increased flexibility within Minnesota as to who is qualified to teach.

The low federal government involvement in funding on a state level that existed under the NCLB Act created many unforeseen problems. As almost all the funding for schools was supplied through the state system, the states themselves were pitted against each other in competition for the best teachers. While the goals of the NCLB Act were admirable, Dahle agrees that its goals were not applicable on a state-to-state basis.

The father of a fourth-grade girl, Dahle has fascinating opinions on the topic of the gender division within the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. The difficulty of drawing young women to and retaining them within the STEM realm is a major issue at all levels of education. On a state level getting women into the STEM field is difficult, and Minnesota is no exception.

Dahle’s panel was highly educational and chock full of riveting tidbits on the current state of our local school system. While he is closely linked with the community around Northfield High School in his role as a teacher, his election to state senate has forced him to take a national perspective.

“If you go into teaching, I don’t think you’ll ever regret that. It builds an excellent foundation for the community and the future,” Dahle said.

About Madeline McGuffin

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Proposed SGA Constitution changes put to the vote