My Business is Your Business

Lots of teenagers have different types of jobs that make different levels of money. Most jobs pay minimum or slightly above minimum wage. When I started working, I didn’t want this to be the case. Like anyone else, I like making money.  And, comic books are a passion of mine. But for many years, I never thought of combining the two things.

My display at a show.

My display at a show.

It all started one afternoon over the weekend in October of 2010 after my father left the house for several hours. I, being an adventurous ten-year old, decided to explore the attic of my house. Within a few steps, I came across stacks of comic books– 1960’s and 1970’s comic books! I started reading them until my father came home and discovered me going through his comic books that he had saved all these years. The rest is history. What started as a hobby would give me the opportunity to earn thousands of dollars in the coming years. So, what do I do exactly? I buy and sell comic books.                                          

The hobby of comic book collecting has grown bigger and bigger over time. This is because of publishing companies growing bigger and bigger due to gaining interest. The film industry has drastically changed the amount of interest in comics today. Companies like Disney, Marvel, and even DC are making huge amounts of money at the box office with their comic book-themed movies. Televisions shows are also being premiered on network TV and streaming services such as Netflix, and Hulu. The fact that via mass media, individuals are able to experience these stories without even having to read the comics, is a big deal. The comic market is so big, many comic conventions have sprung up all over the world. There, you can meet creators and buy and sell comics and other related merchandise. But where does this stuff com from? How is it sold? That’s where I come in.

This is serious business.

This is serious business.

I capitalize on this strong and growing market by purchasing anything I think I can make decent money on, such as collections, at shows and on eBay. Something I look for the most are first appearances of popular characters. So far, I’ve spent thousands of dollars on comic books.  In a nutshell, I buy comics from Dealer A, then sell them to Dealer B. Usually, it is much more complicated: imagine the above scenario and multiple it by many dealers with lots and lots of inventory, which means lots and lots of cash.  It’s hard work, but it’s well worth it. 

This is something that I enjoy very much and over time, I hope to make my business even bigger than it already is!  

 

 

Artist Spotlight: Being As An Ocean

Being As An Ocean playing live.

‘Being As An Ocean’ playing live.

Being As An Ocean is a post-hardcore/melodic hardcore band from Alpine, California. The band was formed in 2011 and is currently still active and making new music under the record company, Equal Vision. They were originally formed when Tyler Ross, Ralph Sica, Joel Quartuccio, and Shad Hamawe left their previous band, Vanguard, because they were looking for a different sound. The demo versions of two songs, “The Hardest Part Is Forgetting Those You Swore You Would Never Forget”, and “Humble Servant, Am I” that appeared on their debut album, “Dear G-d”, were streamed as two singles on the band’s myspace page on January 4, 2011.Originally, they had their guitarist write the entire album as soon as they formed. Later, it was fully tracked in an old hotel called, “The Palms”, and was then later sent to Brian Hood to be mixed and mastered. “Dear G-d” received overwhelmingly positive reviews. After its release, they toured over 20 countries including Canada, Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom and Australia.

The lyrical content of this album in particular is arguably very Christian. While many critics assert that the band is a Christian band, the band has said several times that they’re just Christians who love to make music. In 2013, Shad Hamawe and Jacob Prest left the band due to personal reasons, and their desires to step away from the intense touring schedule. The members who still remained started to record some material and also held auditions to recruit new members. The band recruited Connor Dennis, the former drummer of the hardcore punk band, Sleep Patterns, and Michael McGough, guitarist of the band of post hardcore band, The Elijah.

With these two new band members, they released their second album, “How We Both Wondrously Perish”.  Lyrically, musically, and vocally, this album surpasses the last one. They recorded the album in Atlanta, Georgia at “Glow in the Dark Studios” and it was released on May 6, 2014. McGough was the biggest addition to BAAO in all the best ways from his playing to his singing. Quartuccio’s vocal delivery on this album drastically improved, but over all, he is very well known for his passionate, yelled vocals and the spoken word poetry usually infused with the band’s music. Shortly after it’s release, the band stated they were working on a new album to be released later in 2015. They released the main single, ‘Little Richie” and soon after they released their self- titled album.

On this album, the lyrics rip through listeners’ hearts: ‘We still defile and abuse the innocent/Like items to be sold or owned/Slavery and prostitution is no place for a nine year old”(Death’s Great Black Wing Scrapes The Air, “Mediocre Shakespeare”, 2014) and “A loving marriage from the outside, but oh,/ how ferociously he’d hit her/Richie stood by the bleach white bedside/Ma held his face in her hands while he cried”(Little Richie, “Being As An Ocean”, 2015). Overall, this is possibly the best and most authentic band in the music scene today. Check them out; you won’t regret it one bit.

Here are some links to their social media outlets and music outlets:
http://www.facebook.com/BeingAsAnOcean
http://www.twitter.com/beingasanocean
https://www.instagram.com/beingasanocean/
https://myspace.com/beingasanocean/music/songs
https://invoguerecords.bandcamp.com/album/being-as-an-ocean
https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/being-as-an-ocean/id492982354
Merch:
http://merchnow.com/catalogs/being-as-an-ocean
http://www.impericon.com/en/being-as-an-ocean.html
http://www.merchconnectioninc.com/collections/being-as-an-ocean

Are Superfoods even Super?

imageA superfood is typically know as some sort of produce that is supposed to give extreme (or “super”) efficient health benefits. This concept of “super foods” is not new at all; eastern cooking has ingredients like ginseng, turmeric, buckwheat, etc. that are staples, and seen as holy ingredients. Lately, though, superfoods has been sensationalized by advertisers.

Superfoods include blueberries (antioxidants, phytonutrients, lowers chance of cancer, slows age related diseases i.e. Alzheimer’s, Dementia), tomatoes (lycopene, vitamin C, potassium, lowers chance of cancer, fiber, and lowers cholesterol), kale (phytonutrients, lowers chance of cancer/ decreases levels of cancer causing liquids), black beans (protein without artery clogging substances, antioxidants, fiber, iron), broccoli (Folic acid, vitamin C, and suppresses tumor growth/ reduces risk of cancer), Salmon (despite the Mercury, omega 3 that reduces inflammation, betters circulation, and balances good and bad cholesterol. B vitamins, and Selenium that prevent cell damage which helps with preventing cancer), and oats (potassium, fiber, magnesium, phytonutrients, lowers cholesterol and prevent heart disease).

To check out more superfoods, here’s a list of 52 of them: http://www.womansday.com/health-fitness/nutrition/a3180/eat-healthy-america-52-superfoods-25519/

Whether you believe in the representation of superfoods of being “super,” doesn’t really matter. Science has proven a healthy diet creates a healthier body. The choice is up to you.

Sacco and Vanzetti

Sacco & Vanzetti.

Sacco & Vanzetti.

Sacco and Vanzetti were Italian immigrants who served as scapegoats for an armed robbery, which occurred at the Slater and Morill Shoe Company in the Spring of 1920. On April 15th of that year, over the course of the aforementioned robbery, two men were shot dead. They were ambushed while transporting money between factories. The first victim was Alessandro Berardelli, a security guard who died in the attack, and who reached for his .38 caliber revolver before being shot 4 times. The second victim was Frederick Parmenter, who died after being shot twice as he tried to escape. A stolen Buick was used as a getaway car by the perpetrators, who shot at other workers during their escape. The killers used a .32 caliber pistol, the “Savage Model 1907”.

Sacco and Vanzetti were originally identified as suspects after their close personal association with the likely culprits, who had now escaped to Italy, brought them to the attention of the police. Both were adherents to a sect of anarchism that preached emancipation from the state by any means, including violence. Even before the Cold War, political dissidents were viewed with keen suspicion. The two men were tracked down, arrested, and searched. Sacco had his Italian passport, dissident propaganda, and a .32 caliber pistol with bullets that were of the same type as those used during the crime. Vanzetti had shotgun shells and a .38 caliber revolver, matching Alessandro Berardelli’s missing weapon. Both men lacked immediate alibis for the day of the crime. They were both charged with the aforementioned murder-robbery, and Vanzetti with a previous crime in Bridgewater which was believed to be connected.

The Bridgewater crime was tried first, and was presided over by Webster Thayer– a man with disdain for foreigners and radicals alike. Early on in the trial, which began June 22nd 1920, the prosecution presented a multitude of eyewitnesses who put Vanzetti at the scene based on his facial hair. The defense “fired back” with a flurry of witnesses– 16 in all– testifying that they had bought eels from Vanzetti throughout the day of the Bridgewater crime, in accordance with Italian tradition. Unfortunately, these witnesses were easy to disorient under cross-examination because of their poor or non-existent English proficiency. There was some controversy over whether Vanzetti should take the stand to defend himself, but nothing became of it; retrospective legal analysis indicates it may have aided his defense if were able to outperform the other defense witnesses. Vanzetti later claimed that his defense attorney, John Vahey, had conspired against him with the judge because of their mutual bias against political dissidents. In August of 1920, Vanzetti was given the maximum sentence, 15 years, for attempted robbery in the Bridgewater crime.

For the Braintree crimes– the murder robbery mentioned at the beginning of the article– Sacco and Vanzetti stood trial together. The trial began in May, 1921 and was presided over by the same judge who oversaw Vanzetti’s aforementioned attempted robbery conviction. The state presented strong circumstantial evidence against Sacco and Vanzetti; Sacco was absent from work, Sacco’s gun was of the same caliber as that used in the murder, and both men were adherents to a strain of violent anarchism. The prosecution presented witnesses indicating both men in the crime; again, the defense team responded with a series of their own witnesses, including Sacco and Vanzetti. Sacco was in Boston applying for a passport at the time of the crime and had lunch there. Several witnesses, including a clerk at the Italian consulate, corroborated his story, although the prosecution alleged that those providing his lunch-alibi were fellow anarchists. During the trial, much was made of the similarities between the murder weapon and the weapon collected from the two men. At the time of the trial, forensic analysis was fairly unsophisticated and as a result they were unable to identify even the weapon model during the trial, much less the exact weapon. It was later discovered that Sacco’s weapon was not the primary weapon used in the crime, and it is thought that the bullets matching his weapon were planted by the prosecution after the fact. Despite this, the defense was able to rebut claims that Sacco’s weapon was so unique as to be identifiable with certainty, since 300,000 guns in circulation would have matched its forensic profile at the time.

Sacco and Vanzetti were found guilty of the Braintree crime after 3 hours of deliberation on July 21st, 1921. Even at the time, many believed that they had been convicted on the basis of their anarchism, despite claims to the contrary by the jury. Both men were sentenced to death in the electric chair, since first-degree murder was a capital crime. After several appeals, a credible confession given by another man, and the protests of their supports, Sacco and Vanzetti were put to death. Both men refused to see a priest prior to execution, in accordance with their atheistic beliefs. Sacco’s last words were, “Farewell, mother”. Vanzetti’s last words were, “I wish to forgive some people for what they are now doing to me”. They died at midnight on August 22nd, 1927.

Kpop Background

imageKpop (Korean pop) is a music genre associated with South Korea. It’s basically pop music in Korean, and less lazy. There is almost always a specific and original dance routine to each song (not including ballads), which fans learn. The songs can range from cute, sexy, angsty, etc./ or be a combination of all. Kpop is not to be confused with non- pop music. Kpop isn’t the only genre of music in Korea, it’s just the one that’s most well known amongst Korean music.

The Korean music industry is ruled by the Korean government. They approve all official idols. The top three most well known agencies are JYP, YG, and SM. They tend to have eccentric personalities. Korean people tend to look on the companies as well, because they tend to be quite comedic, rich, and eccentric men. And they sometimes get involved with each group’s reality show. These companies also have their hands in a lot of other industries as well; food, sports, modeling, management (for celebrities), etc.

JYP
They hold the contracts to some of the biggest Kpop stars in the industry. For example, JYP owns 2pm (boyband), Miss A (girl band), Wonder Girls (girl band), Got7 (boyband) and a lot of others. More than that he holds artists that are in hip hop, R&B, Electronic, Dance, and Rock as well. Run by Park Jin-Young. The company is named after his initials. (In Korea and in a lot of other Asian countries the last/ family name is first. But he chose to put it first name to last.)

YG
Again named after the company owner’s initials, Yang Goon. Has artists in all the same genres, but started its company roots with hip hop. His personality is somewhat shown when his group BIG BANG (boyband), in an interview where they do impressions of him and talk about his behaviors. They mention his new want for attention. He now makes public appearances on TV, when previously he had refused to be shown on camera for the past couple of years.

SM
Founder, Lee Soo Man, (again with the initials thing.) He owns a large amount of the biggest Kpop girl groups. Girl’s Generation, f(X), Red Velvet, and BoA. And boy bands; Shinee and EXO. Some of these groups have around for roughly a decade and still look perfectly youthful, and execute dance routine with experience and grace. Girls Generation didn’t even go through a too terrible 2000’s faze, like most other artists.

Sometimes proper management is questioned, but that’s up to everyone’s own opinion.

Big Apple Con 2016

Last weekend, Big Apple6664e9_e1d4745e675a4e82ba63bec24dabcca3 Con, a comic book, art, sci-fi, and toy convention took place. The convention was located at the Hotel Pennsylvania, which is across the street from Penn Station.

In 1996, Frederic Greenberg, host of Great Eastern Conventions cancelled his show. Mike Carbonaro, with Metropolis Collectibles CEO, Vincent Zurzolo, quickly planned a show to replace it. Over 4,000 people attended. The show was a huge success and so were the shows that followed.

On March 5th, the convention was held again. In my opinion, it was a great show. I bought and sold vintage comics for the duration of the show. There was also cosplay. Cosplay is basically like dressing up for Halloween, except that it is superhero, comic, movie and pop culture themed. Some people spend hours and hours of time making their costumes. For some of us who are lazy, we buy costumes which can cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars for the sake of authenticity. There were panels where people held discussions about a specific predetermined pop culture theme, this along with comics, of course. There were creators/artists/writers/actors/ and other celebrity guests.

This convention was definitely a great opportunity for fans to make friends and meet new people along with reestablishing old relationships. It is enjoyable and I hope more people will get to experience it in the coming years.

The Effect of Location on Hip-Hop

Diversity within the genre of hip-hop is a luxury not often appreciated. Similar to other music genres, different subsets have distinguished themselves, but rap is the only to have sounds exclusive to location. Different cities adapt their respective preferences, whether it be rhyme delivery, use of inflection, utilized tone, or even subject matter. Although every city has its exceptions, most tend to follow the mold created by the surrounding environment. Just as distance between areas allow the development of different cultures and behaviors, rap has its own separate corners each directly influenced by local issues and lifestyles.

Houston: Houston is widely known for its heavy utilization of the boom-bap sound. Known for the drunken quality of its rhythms, producers often use slower drum kits never going past the quarter note level. One may ask, how did this slurred and trippy audiology establish itself in Houston? One direct cause may be the glorification of lean. Lean is a concoction ideally made up of prescribed cough syrup (promethazine codeine) and vodka or sprite. The effects include feelings of euphoria along with motor-skill impairment and lethargy to the point of feeling dissociated with one’s physical body. Houston rappers wanted to channel this same euphoria into their music, creating the slow boom-bap sound that Houston has come to embody. This is seen in work such as Chamillionaire’s “Ridin’ Dirty” as well as in the discographies of artists like Paul Wall, Pimp C, Mr. Mike, Baby Bash, and Kirko Bangz.

Eric B and Rakim of New York

Eric B and Rakim of New York

New York: New York, the birthplace of hip-hop, has one of the genre’s richest histories. It is undeniably difficult to draw parallels between groups like A Tribe Called Quest and Pro Era. However, it would be a crime to ignore the fact that the city of New York itself is central to what New York rappers talk about. Hip-Hop in the Big Apple is territorial. Pro Era went so far as to create the Beast Coast movement. New York artists are constantly shouting out their respective blocks, boroughs, or neighborhoods. Any rapper from the South Bronx will make it known that’s his hood. The same goes for Jamaica, Harlem, Flatbush, and so on. This characteristic can be attributed to the fact that anyone raised within New York City lives and breathes alongside the city itself. The city is its own being, and why wouldn’t one mention a childhood friend?

California-
Compton: Compton is the site of hip-hop’s mainstream revolution, headed by the N.W.A., who made the most of their opportunities with their raw honesty in the 90’s. Ever since, Compton has sought to speak on the issues plaguing its citizens as accurately as possible. Whether it be political injustices or the issue of growing gang violence, Compton artists put it all out on their tracks. This sense of social and political awareness is unique to the MAAD City, and even today’s artists from the area have sought to uphold the example set by N.W.A. With artists like Kendrick Lamar, Isaiah Rashad, Jay Rock, The Game, and Vince Staples all verbally bleeding out on their instrumentals, it is safe to say Compton hip-hop is in good hands.

Bay Area: Bay Area rap has only recently grown in popularity, seeing how most Bay Area artists are underground, or still on the come up. This particular region has developed a culture very different from the traditional urban scene, making use of a more breathy tone and allowing the instrumentals to be the central point of attention. These more ‘withdrawn’ vocals are a result of the welcoming and pristine appearance of suburban environments. Bay Area artists try to implement these misconceptions into their works. This being said, artists like Tyler the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, Sage the Gemini, IAmSu!, and the HBK Gang are all at the forefront of the Bay Area’s rise, speaking to the flaws of suburbia and the more subtle self-destruction enacted within this perceived paradise.

Chicago: It would not be far from the truth if one said that Chi-town is married to the glorification of violence. Chicago is referred to as “Chiraq” by its own residents. If that doesn’t speak for itself, it would help to bear witness to the content put out by Chicago’s artists. Chief Keef, Lil Durk, BJ the Chicago Kid, Fredo Santana and countless others constantly give voice to a central theme of firearms. Hip-hop has always been known to encourage pride and ego. Chicago rappers pride themselves in their aggressive natures, as that is the means to validation in the environment. It doesn’t help that access to guns is always an inviting opportunity, seeing how even children in their pre-teens walk around strapped. However, it should be noted that many other artists have made an active effort to go against the mold set by the city. These include Chance the Rapper, Mick Jenkins, Lupe Fiasco, and Common.

Atlanta artist Raury performing

Atlanta artist, Raury, performing.

Atlanta: Atlanta could be considered hip-hop’s “lab” or testing ground. Especially as of recent, Atlanta has been testing the boundaries of the genres. Fortunately, this has not hurt the success of the city’s artists. Artists like Future, Young Thug, and Rich Homie Quan have patented the ‘rap mumble’, which entails low and rapid vocals that could be difficult to understand. Other artists and groups like Migos have made use of the machine-gun flow. This style has rappers spitting at a set rhythm with very few breaks in the flow. And then there are those who implement southern soul into the genre, creating a smooth and effortless vibe. Big K.R.I.T. and Raury are great examples of this subset within genres. Taking all this into consideration, Atlanta is easily rap’s most diverse city, and collaborations between its artists are consistently revolutionary.

Hip-hop, as a collective, cannot be denied its diversity. Progression and additions to the genre are guaranteed and will continue to satisfy the cravings of hungry listeners.

Who is Manoj Bhargava?

Manoj Bhargava

Manoj Bhargava

Manoj Bhargava is an Indian American businessman and philanthropist who has given 90% of his wealth towards many great causes, and also pledged to give 99% of his money in 2015 for philanthropic causes. Charities and programs he’s funded include free lunches at underprivileged schools and teaching women how to take care of themselves in businesses. Manoj Bhargava also heads foundations such as The Hans Foundation and Rural India Supporting Trust. And, he has earned a billion dollars in sales from a product he invented. Figured it out yet? Have you heard of 5- Hour ENERGY? Well, Manoj Bhargava is the founder and CEO of the 5- Hour ENERGY company. There are many wealthy people out there who, in my opinion, aren’t doing the most they can with their money for the benefit of others.

Bhargava was born in Lucknow, India, and moved to United States as a teenager. He lived in an impoverished neighborhood in Philadelphia. His family rented a house for $80 a month and used to split a coca cola for four people as a treat. He attended a prestigious boarding school, Hill School, and excelled in mathematics early in his academic career. He was a student at Hill School before going to Princeton. He dropped out of Princeton after one year, because he didn’t find himself fit for the lifestyle of a Princeton student. He also didn’t find the learning challenging enough. So, he dropped out without getting a college degree. Afterwards, Bhargava didn’t get any job offers he wanted. Manoj did some office work and construction jobs. He did these jobs until he went back to India and became an ashram monk.

After a decade in India he ended up permanently moving to America to help his parents’ plastics business. He wasn’t enthusiastic about running the family business. So he used the business and his skills to buy manufacturing plants and make them more efficient. He then sold the company in 2006 for $20 million, and went into the energy drink business. He made a huge success in his business. He funds many projects in order to help the world around him.

 

Manoj Bhargava constantly works towards a better future for people in need of water and electricity. He had a team invent a hybrid bicycle. Basically, if you pedal this bicycle for an hour you will have electricity for 24 hours. They call this, “Free electricity.” In many other countries electricity isn’t stable. Even in the U.S. the electricity can go out after a natural disaster. There isn’t  any pollution being produced by this machine. He also recognizes the need of water everywhere. A project called Rainmaker, which turns seawater or any dirty water into drinkable water. The Rainmaker can make a thousand gallons per hour. This is efficient for people who have trouble getting drinking water on a regular basis. This could help places like California that suffer drought problems. He is always looking for inventions that could change the world and chooses to help the project by funding them and hiring people to work in them. These inventions could eventually change how the world runs.
Being an ashram monk, he learned that excessive consumption can harm you, while a simple life could have you better off. He doesn’t even have a second house, because he already has, “Enough problems with his first house.” He believes that if you have wealth, then it is your obligation to help those who are in need. These goals he has developed aren’t just for himself, but for the benefit of others. If there were more billionaires like Manoj Bhargava, then maybe our world would be easier to live in.

Neomasculinity: “Roosh V”

roosh-v1

Many people have stated their opinions on their beliefs for the limits of women’s rights. One voice that speaks loud and clear is Daryush Valizadeh, an American blogger who posts controversial writing bashing modern- day women. He is also notoriously known as the leader of a group self-named as “Return of the Kings”. Roosh has many platforms on which he advertises his opinions such as a blogs, books, and in his public speeches.

Recently, there has been a large controversy over Roosh V because of his threatening tactics. One of his most outrageous articles was about the issue of rape. He proposed that “ rape [should be made] legal if done on private property. I propose that we make the violent taking of a woman not punishable by law when done off public grounds. In a later post he quickly retracted his statement by stating that his rape article was a “satirical experiment”.

But his views on women are as expected: misogynistic, scrupulous, and utterly offensive. He claims that fat women, women with short hair, women with tattoos/piercings, and women that talk too much are unattractive. Along with being sexist, Roosh V also has some colorful opinions on homosexuality and Western culture. He suggests that all heterosexual men leave America because “You will sleep with thinner women who don’t have attitude.”

On February 6th, Roosh V planned to have an international “meet-up day” across 43 countries. Though he is banned from many places such as Australia and Canada, his devoted followers were committed to continuing the pro-rape meet-ups. As of the posting of this article, all meet-ups have been cancelled with Roosh claiming he doesn’t want “crazy fat feminists” counter- protesting his group.

He is currently hiding out at his mom’s house.

dontRape