My sister came to visit me this month, bringing with her all of the things about home that I hadn’t realized I’d been missing. She smelled like the bus, but also like the laundry detergent our mom uses, and the fruit snacks from Costco that she keeps in bulk in our pantry. As we walked through Clinton Hill, past the brownstones and Saturday morning runners, she was amazed at how true New York was to the movies. Though my sister was on a one-day excursion away from our parents, she was there for another reason. We were seeing one of our favorite bands that night.

Jukebox the Ghost is a group that I would drop everything for, but up until this month, it had been a while since I’d listened to them. The band - comprised of keyboardist Ben Thornewill, guitarist/bassist Tommy Siegel, and drummer Jesse Kristin - formed over ten years ago in DC. Their music is all over the place—a bit of rock, a bit of pop, with the occasional mandolin and synth thrown in as well. They write songs about heartbreak and the end of the world, and throw rainbow horses onto their album covers (see 2018’s Off To The Races). They aren’t afraid to make fun of themselves (see basically any music video they’ve ever made). So, it came as no surprise that the group were throwing a big Halloween bash at Webster Hall on the 26th. Or, Halloqueen, as they call it, where Jukebox plays a set as themselves, then dresses up as the members of Queen to play a set of the British rock band’s songs.

Growing up, Jukebox the Ghost was one of the few things my sister and I could agree on. The two of us are as different as siblings can get, yet something about this music allowed us to find common ground. It’s what we would sing as I drove her to dance practice, what we’d crank up after late night 7-11 runs during the summer. We still send each other occasional Instagram messages of Jesse’s adorable dog Thelonious and freak out over all the new singles the band releases sporadically. As the two of us walked up to Webster Hall, the marquee reading “SOLD OUT” in huge letters, it felt like a moment made for us.

We spent the entire concert sharing smiles, the songs we’d screamed along to so many times before blaring through the speakers. We laughed as Jesse repeatedly dropped his drumsticks and gawked over Ben’s keytar solo in “Jumpstarted.” About halfway through, though, a familiar acoustic riff trinkled in slowly. Tommy’s gentle fingerpicking and soft voice rang out through the room. “Long Way Home” is a song off of Jukebox the Ghost’s 2014 self-titled record. It’s a quiet ballad, complete with soft harmonies and lyrics. The speaker is insecure about their place; in their relationship, in their life. The feeling lingers within each verse. When listening, I’ve always thought about it as the journey that a person needs to go through in order to find where they belong. I’ve viewed it as a want for stability, for comfort in hazy times. After five Jukebox shows, this was the first time I’d ever heard this song live.

This month was one of figuring out, in a way, where home was. It’s a common theme of being an overthinking college student. Maybe it was the stress of midterms or the sudden change of seasons, but I was bombarded with a collection of feelings I couldn’t quite decipher. I felt uncertain about my future, uncertain about what I was doing, what I was feeling. New York suddenly felt foreign when it had been a place of comfort for me for so long. Yet, at this show, screaming these lyrics alongside my sister, I was at ease for the first time in a while. There was a part of my old self along with my new one. It was a weird combination, but it made sense.

My throat was still sore as I took the train back from Port Authority on Sunday, after sending my sister off on her bus back home. It was a groggy morning, the rain tracking onto the platform, yet it didn’t bother me. I put in my headphones and pressed play on a song that is slowly making its way back into my life again. I’d lost track of the things that make up a home for a bit; the music, the people, the feeling. Maybe it took a recollection, but “Long Way Home” reminded me that you are never truly on your own. You can leave your heart in two places. 

Monsters. We grew up watching the movies, reading the ghost stories and even writing about them. The monsters in our bed, in our closets. The monsters everywhere and all around us. 

“Evil isn’t born, it’s made.” I think the evil queen said this during an episode of “Once Upon a Time” when she was trying to convince the Wicked Witch that she could change her life. There is truth to this, in fact, it’s one of the biggest truths I carry with me wherever I go: That we all have the potential to seek greatness, and grasp a more mature, well-rounded part of ourselves from within our hearts.

What is a monster? When you think of them, do you think of the cartoons you sometimes watch with your little cousin, tiny monsters running across the screen, so ugly that they’re kind of adorable? Or do you think of “The Exorcist,“Silence of The Lambs” and “It,” something so horrifying, you sleep with the door cracked open? A threat, real or fictional, that causes you to leave a spill of light from your closet just so you don’t drive yourself crazy staring at the darkness?

It’s open to interpretation, but throughout the course of my life, I’ve come to realize that the most terrifying monsters aren’t the ones that have fangs, clown makeup, chain saws and look like crazy maniacs from the underworld...they could very well just be everyday people sitting right next to you. Why do people suddenly become unable to interact with others? Why are there bullies? Here’s the secret I have to tell you guys. We are each born with a monster inside of us. 

What’s life all about? Deciding how you want to live, but most importantly, deciding which part of yourself you want to use in order to live. Do we become monsters or the best versions of ourselves? One of the most extraordinary examples of how a monster can potentially be unleashed is presented, metaphorically, through Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein novel. 

Mary Shelly was one of the bravest women of her time, simply because she had the courage to do what was considered one of the most hostile acts imaginable, especially for women in that particular generation- she took what she was feeling and transformed it into a masterpiece. Mary Shelly wrote “Frankenstein” when she was only 18-years-old. It came out of a ghost story competition, and she got the iconic idea through a dream she had had. Shelley wrote the book shortly after losing her daughter, Clara. Shadowed by tragedy, she heroically exposed the remaining bits of her dignity to the world and by doing so, created the genre that would change the future of history and film forever. What's more, Shelley wrote the novel during a time where literature was dominated by men. She was restricted, but she persevered in order to tell this important tale. In many ways, she is one of the reasons I am able to write today. She is my personal definition of a hero.

Shelley created a story that contains the dark truths of humanity. Before I start to babble about her extraordinary technique and the magic that is sewn within the text, let me tell you the first thing I learned after reading this potent work of art: Indifference and cowardice are both the same as surrender. It takes courage to allow yourself to see corruption that has interloped into our environment, to acknowledge it, and it requires an even larger, an enormous amount of bravery, a rare fearlessness that we don’t always encounter. In the Frankenstein novel, the Creation is hated from the moment he first opens his eyes and is shivering within the gloom of his Creator’s bedroom, who insisted that he is the opposite of “Adam,” that he hadn’t envisioned such “revolt” when he had ventured through the graveyard, collecting body parts in order to create him. The poor Creation. 

This is an exaggerated example of bad parenting, I mean, imagine growing with no guidance. Becoming completely and utterly abused, neglected and alienated. According to psychology, many serial killers were neglected, abused and experienced a variety of traumas. A lot of them were also socially alienated. Just like the Creation in Frankenstein. Before he transformed into a monster, the Creation had the ability to participate in society, he had even saved a girl from drowning in a river. I mean come on, if that’s not heroism, then what is? He was rejected by Victor, his “father,” and society because of his looks

Evil isn’t born, it’s made. The creation never had a chance of being good, or being able to use the better part of himself, because the tiny, limited world in which he had struggled thrive in convinced him that he didn’t have one. I mean, in Chapter 12 of the novel, the creature stalks a family and listens to their dialogue, their emotions, because he is desperate for any type of interaction. Devoid of love, how was the creature supposed to love? 

The creation never had a chance of controlling the monster inside of himself, and allowed it, the darkness, to overpower him. By the end of the novel, he had turned into a maniac, and I believe Shelley is proving several points. If they aren’t raised properly, with support, love, guidance and meticulous, strategic care, they are at risk of severe trauma. 

We must embrace one another and celebrate the different and unique, rather than fear it and show indifference. Be welcoming rather than hostile. Don’t exclude, but include. Like the Evil Queen said, evil isn’t born, it’s made. We control our darkness, and we manipulate our thoughts. But most of all, according to Marry Shelley, we bring out the best in others and in ourselves. People are a lot stronger than they care to admit. 

Eventually, we will wake up with enough maturity and wisdom to be able to love every single part of ourselves, even the parts that we hate. The only way to be able to control the monster inside of you is to become friends with it and use it only for good, healthy intentions. The parts that we cannot stand, our flaws when mixed together, whether you believe it or not, create our unique, individual monsters. Hopefully, you’ll realize that in order to be able to function, you need both the good and the bad, the ugly, all of it. 

And unlike villains, and evil forces, that are eventually defeated, this version of yourself, where there is nothing but confidence and love, the version of yourself where you comprehend every single side, will be indestructible. 


Illustration by Penny Dasi

For years there has been a relatively common complaint among students about the nature and purpose of the work made in the educational process. Students will spend hours and hours on a drawing or piece of art with the only pay back being a grade of some kind and little else to show for it, leaving the art they worked so very hard on seemingly forgotten. One solution to this problem would just be to make education free and affordable for all so students wouldn’t constantly be thinking to themselves “why am I paying this much money to work this hard only to get shat on by some dude for a stupid letter grade?”. However, the real solution is simple and much smarter; take every student’s artwork and build it into a giant mountain.

Now why does the mountain need to exist, one may ask? Another question is why does art need to exist? To prove one key point- that it can. Art is complicated, life is complicated, art is big, life is big, this mountain… it’s big. At least 13 stories tall. Literally and metaphorically. Why 13 stories tall? Because that, I believe, is how much the work worth putting into this mountain is worth, and that’s quite a lot of work, even if it may not seem like it. Also, the mountain would replace the needless fountain in between the library and that other building that has like…the LAC in it and other things? The point is, when the horses come to visit Pratt, they won’t just be parading around a fountain, they’ll be parading up and down an entire mountain. 13 stories of material is just enough to symbolize the frustration of creation without soul, as 13 is unlucky, and spending hours and hours on work one does not actually care for is the very definition of unlucky.

At the bottom of the mountain, serving as its foundation, would be a concoction of all sculpture major’s artwork, as most of its rectangular but more importantly heavy, and spacious. The next layer would be comprised of the blueprints and rough sketch design for every single assignment from every single major, thus bringing the mountains height up from ten feet to probably at least one mile in height. In order to condense the mountain and not make it one large flimsy pile of paper, however, the blueprints will have to be coated in a thick glue-like substance, thus causing the mountain to now look like a giant abstract cinnamon roll. From there, we simply add every single unwearable project created in the fashion department for padding and to separate the heavier layers from the lighter ones. This is to make the mountain—in the extremely unlikely case it's needed to be—mobile. Just in case the lease does finally run out on the Pratt property and all that. Next, any other 3d or 2d work (with the exception of the painting, film and photography majors, of course) would be placed into a compactor to be made into 3 foot by 3 foot bicubic blocks that would make for a more organized and easily climbable mountain. Each block would be carefully placed on the mountain, just as carefully as the artwork the block is made from was created as. Finally, at the top of the mountain, a series of hard drives containing only the crappiest 2d technical work would be melted down to form a special and unique mantle for another series of hard drives containing the best films and photography created at Pratt institute. In addition, the mountain would be layered, with every single unwanted painting from the painting major, each carefully cut from its canvas and even more carefully stapled to the side of the mountain to add color.

Finally, using a single bulldozer, a haphazard pathway will be carved to the top of the mountain so that only the strongest students may ascend it. If this all seems a bit too complex, there is a much simpler solution; simply let people make the kind of work they need to make.

With college tuition rates and student loan debts at an all-time high, many students are burdened with their finances. For many, who are for the first time experiencing a sense of responsibility and independence, budgeting and managing finances is an overwhelming task. Not everybody is privileged enough to not have to care about when they’re getting their allowance, how to afford that outing, how to pay for those supplies, and most importantly - do I have enough money for a proper meal? 

Studies show that 11.2% of college students in America face some kind of food insecurity (2015 - Urban Institute), which refers to a state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. Students often find themselves compromising on a meal or two daily in order to not spend money. It’s not only unhealthy to go without at-least 2 proper meals a day, but it also affects your academic performance. In such situations of heightened prices, student loan debt and surging tuition rates, it is the onus of the local government and institutions to introduce schemes and policies that can ease the burden on students. 

Pratt Institute is concerned about food insecurity within its own campus, firmly believing that no student should go without a proper meal. In an effort to tackle food insecurity, the Pratt Food Insecurity Team (which comprises of members from Health Services, the L/AC, Res Life, Student Gov, Diversity Equity & Inclusion, and NYPIRG) have instituted the Pratt Pantry. The idea was inspired by a similar pantry system in another school in New York. Started in early 2019, the goal of this initiative is to provide a resource for all students who are facing hunger and food insecurity. It’s an inspiring initiative and admirable initiative and the props go to Jasmine Cuffie, Health Services who are in charge of the Pratt Pantry. It works like any other Food Pantry, but for all Pratt Students! The Pratt Pantry also collects data on food insecurity and aims to solve systemic issues of diversity and inclusivity associated with hunger and food insecurity. As per the student body census, in which about 490 students responded, a percentage of students higher than the national average were facing food insecurity at Pratt. 

The Pratt Pantry is located in room 010 of Chapel Hall. It’s open from 10:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Wednesdays. All visitors are given access to a variety of non-perishable food items (such as canned goods, dry fruits, grains, and other products) which they are free to take in whatever quantity and can visit as many times as they need. The pantry is also looking to incorporate perishable items in their stocks in the future, after having a risk management analysis on it. The pantry works on a donation system, so every Pratt student is encouraged to donate to the Pantry if they find themselves able to do so. As of now, 100% of donations are from the student, faculty, and staff, although the Pantry wishes to expand and tie-up with local restaurants and food services. Each student is also recommended to download the ShareMeals app where they can find out areas and events which are giving out free food on campus or nearby. Since the Pantry does not assess need every time you visit and it works on donations, it’s only expected that people access this wonderful resources based on an honor system. The Pantry also provides other local food insecurity resources along with recommendations for applying to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP/EBT) and general tips for city living on a budget. It also works in tandem with the Center for Career and Professional Development to educate students on financial wellness. The Pantry also looks forward to working with AVI Fresh’s (Pratt’s catering service’s) dietician on nutrition management and healthy food studios. It is through these partnerships and collaborations that the Pantry works in such an admirable manner - always visioning a sustainable and fruitful expansion. 

The Pratt Pantry is a major breakthrough in campus involvement with social issues of food insecurity. It’s a means to assess, solve and negate hunger throughout campus. It’s a commendable initiative and deserves the utmost appreciation. If any student reading this finds themselves able to donate, the Pantry does take on-campus drop-offs. It’s staffed through volunteers from different departments and anybody who feels they have the time and dedication should definitely aim to help out, do their bit


Image by Aliza Pelto

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