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David Morales

David Morales’ professional background includes work as a writer, journalist, musician, and in human services. He has a BS in Psychology from Eastern Michigan University and has a deep empathy for the creative process, establishing relationships with a wide range of media sources including publishing houses, editors, and authors.

Melanites is celebrating brown boyhood

Find out how you can celebrate brown boyhood with these amazing toys

Jenifer Pierre is the CEO of Melanites and is celebrating brown boyhood. She has developed a toy doll for boys of color that will give children more options in the toy stores. 

Her beautiful dolls help to build confidence and explore potential possibilities. Pierrie is not only creating a toy, she is on a mission to make a difference in the lives of young boys of color.

“At the center of everything that iam doing and with my background in volunteering and mentoring, celebrating brown boyhood is my objective. I’m more than just a toy company.”

College News recently spoke with Jennifer Pierre to discuss how she came to develop her smart and innovative toy. She informed us how marketing ploys effect children of color who have fewer options at toy stores and how her doll promotes a positive outlook on identity formation. Currently in the beginning phases, you can contribute to brown boyhood by visiting http://www.brownboyhood.com.             

College News: I was on Facebook the other night and I saw an article about Melanites and brown boyhood. I wish I would have had a toy like this growing up! What inspired you to create this beautiful doll?

Jennifer Pierre: I’ve been interested in the toy industry especially dolls for a couple years now. Around Christmas time, I would go shopping for toys for family members and I couldn’t really find something that looked like me or them. Last summer when I was mentoring at the South Miami Career Center in Florida, I had a lot of interaction with young boys in the class room versus outside with their friends, and having conversations about what they wanted to be when they grow up. They really helped me to see that the messages they received were not very positive and what they aspired to be when they grow up was very limited based on that. I want to change that because I know how influential you can be to kids at a young age and how you can inspire them. That’s how I started Melanites. I really wanted to celebrate brown boyhood and encourage that time in development.

You should also read: Rihanna is Dior’s first black spokesmodel! 


CN: You speak about hyper masculinity and the effects of toys like guns and army dolls and you definitely present an alternative to that. When is Melanites expected to release the toy in stores?

JP: Right now in the summer I’m currently in an incubator with Boston College and I’m working on manufacturing right now! I hope that they hit the shelves by early fall. They could be available for Christmas even!

CN: Melanites has developed accessory kits for the doll. Could you tell me a little more about them?

JP: Yes, that is one of my favorite aspects of the doll. These were ways I could help encourage kids who dream big. Every kit is going to be centered around that theme so that they could learn about different fields and use that education as well to inspire them too!

CN: So the Melanites accessory kits help to build different personas and identities, such as the thinker, doer, maker, and performer characteristics. What made you decide on those building blocks? 

JP: I didn’t want to tell kids what they had to be when they grow up. I didn’t want to say – oh you have to be a lawyer or you have to be a doctor.  What I wanted to do was help them explore the world. I’m a big supporter of the idea that [students] have different aspects that they might be interested in. When I was mentoring, what I noticed was that if a young kid was interested in Basketball and he was interested in reading, he would separate those parts of himself; failing to mix those two aspects of his identity. It’s really just based on the stereotype that you are either a jock or a nerd. I really want to change that mindset and help kids embrace any part of themselves. I developed these different themes so that they can be more comfortable exploring.  

CN: I’m sure you are aware of the studies that involve African American children identifying negatively with black dolls and associating the white dolls as better or more beautiful. What do you think contributes to that?

JP: Yeah I have heard of this study! I think it is both an absence and the fact the we only have one option. Let’s talk about diversity. When we go into the toy aisle regardless if it is for boys or for girls, there is only one option for us. With all those options that are on the shelves, the options for us are tucked away in the back. It represents all the cues of what it means to be brown or black and that’s just not enough. For an African American or Bi-Racial girl going into the toy aisles, all they are going see is this one token doll that might have long straight hair and green or purple eyes that does not resonate with them. Especially with boys who love super heroes and action figures going into that aisle, they are not going to see someone that is a hero that looks like them. They are more likely to see a villain or a character that is on the opposing side that looks like them they are a hero. That just regurgitates that message as you mentioned with the doll studies that we are somehow negative that we are somehow bad – quote, unquote – and that is not a positive message for a child. Because when they are looking around, they are trying to see someone who looks like them, what are they doing, how are they perceived? At the time, for some reason all the see are these values of how they could entertain by either being a rapper or how they can entertain via athletics either be being a Basketball player or a football player. There are not enough options for them to expand.

CN: Jennifer is there anything that you want people to know about your product that hasn’t been mentioned?

JP: I guess I want people to know that this project was started with a social mission attached to it and that mission is to celebrate brown boyhood. At the center of everything that iam doing and with my background in volunteering and mentoring, celebrating brown boyhood is my objective. I’m more than just a toy company. The purpose of the product is to empower young kids especially young boys of color. That’s my mission behind all of this. That’s how I want to impact the kids in my community. I’m looking to partner with non-profits like Big Brother Big Sister. Ive had conversations with them about workshops. Just how people think of the fable “Goldie Locks” as a means to teach and empower young girls to break stereotypes, I want to do the same thing for young boys of color and that’s why I started Melanites and why I’m celebrating brown boyhood.  

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Dr. Pepper Schwartz discusses a new relationship study by AVVO legal services

College News talks to Dr. Pepper Schwartz

Sharing her expertise on relationships, Dr. Pepper Schwartz speaks with College News about a relationship study by AVVO at such an appropriate time of year as spring is the season for love. She is best known as the co-host of a unique and top rated show Married At First Sight, as well as the author of 25 books on the subject of love and relationships. Now a new study from AVVO, a legal service market place, reveals how attitudes about marriage and relationships are changing.

“rel=”nofollow”I think the question of the permanence of marriage is more of a hope than a belief these days. We are in flux I think as a nation.”

In our modern world, relationships are constantly changing with internet dating sites, marriage and divorce. College News spoke to Dr. Pepper Schwartz about the progressive attitudes on what people consider a good relationship commitment and a good relationship style. She presents the fascinating findings in a new AVVO relationship study that provides interesting and often surprising insight about the way people feel about relationships. She also tells us a bit about her outrageous and unique show Married At First Sight and fills us in on the complex legalities behind marriage and divorce and how AVVO can help provide you with the legal advice that you need.       

You should also read: We interviewed Wang Chung songwriter Jack Hues


College News: Dr. Schwartz why is AVVO involved in conducting a research project about relationships?

Dr. Pepper Schwartz: AVVO is a site that offers legal help on demand in many categories but one of the major categories is domestic, such as separations, divorces, prenuptials, and family planning. These are situations where couples either coming into a relationship or out of one need help, and it’s hard to provide that kind of help if you don’t know your customer. What is marriage these days? How are men different from one another on these issues? What’s happening with dating? What do people feel about fidelity these days? How does money affect it? I mean, there are all kinds of issues that AVVO needs to know to be able to serve people better. So they did this large national study which I’ve consulted on, and I’m happy to bring to the public some of those findings.

CN: What are some of the highlights from the AVVO relationship study?

Dr. S: Well the good news is that most people who are in relationships are happy! Two-thirds of women and three-fourths of men are very happy in their relationships. Women have a few more things that they carp about than men do, but in general that is good news. I think the most interesting thing to me in the study was that a full 42 percent of people felt that marriage might be outmoded and were willing to consider other ways of being in relationships. Unlike previous decades where people felt everyone had to be in a relationship. Only about a quarter of the AVVO study felt that was important. So there is a lot more leeway and a lot more liberality taking people in. There’s been a five percent change in favor of gay marriage, even in one year and the majority of people around the county do believe in gay marriage. Except it is a little softer in the south, with only about 40 percent or so in favor of it. But I think the attitudes of who should be married and whether they are same sex or not has changed. I think the question of the permanence of marriage is more of a hope than a belief these days as 85 percent of people want marriage to last, but a lot of people are prepared for that not to be the case. We are in flux I think as a nation.

CN: Your show Married at First Sight is one of the most unique shows on television. Could you tell us about it and why it’s so popular?

Dr. S: It is an outrageous concept to begin with. We take the experts, there are three of us this season. We take the people who have applied, more than 35,000 people have, to be married to someone who is a perfect stranger to them. They meet at the altar, they get married, and then we follow them and say – go on their honeymoon, when they move in together and follow their daily life. I think people are interested in how people manage once there is a commitment in place. How do they make that commitment real? How do they get to know each other? How do they solve problems? And how do they – we hope – fall in love?

CN: What else does the study show about attitudes toward marriage, family planning and divorce?

Dr. S: I think one of the things that we have learned is that while people want marriage they are not at all to shy or to conventional to avoid it these days. We do have almost a 50 percent divorce rate depending on what part of the country we are talking about, and we found that women in particular are not afraid of being alone and don’t feel it’s stigmatizing. Very few people now feel that divorce is a sin, only one and ten, and that tends to go with more religiosity in general. People who attend a religious institution are much more likely to put marriage in the forefront rather than just a relationship. But I think we are seeing that people are getting more comfortable with online dating. They are waiting later to get married. There’s a lot of cohabitation and there is just more of a spread on what people think is a good relationship commitment and a good relationship style.                                 

CN: It’s been a few years since the gay marriage law passed. What is gay marriage looking like after this year?      

Dr. S: What is interesting is that gay marriage has only been legal for a few years so we really don’t have any good statistics on divorces, on the other hand, we are getting gay marriage divorces. I have certainly talked to people where they are surprised about what it takes to get divorced. I have worked with several couples where they are shocked and are like – “oh my gosh! this legal institution isn’t just about declaring your love to the world.” It has economic costs and there are all kinds of things that could happen when people who were each other’s closet turn into somewhat oppositional to greatly oppositional. Then they find that they need legal help. They need to even know what the law is, what their rights are and whether they can do mediation versus going down the rat hole of a protective battle. That’s why AVVO did this study to help acquaint people with the fact that there are professional lawyers out there that could be consulted for a fixed fee, for not much money, to find out what the legal implications are of the relationship. For more information, you go to www.avvo.com – AVVO, to see the whole study and also to see the free advice that lawyers give people with domestic issues.                                                    


We interviewed Wang Chung songwriter Jack Hues

Wang Chung songwriter Jack Hues discusses his quartet and “A Thesis on the Ballard”

Jack Hues and the Quartet are a captivating collaboration of music and art. Their album “A Thesis on the Ballard” applies jazz resources to the traditions of English folk. Jack Hues discusses the literary content of music and how text influences his songwriting.  

“Using poetry, orchestra and maybe jazz resources to create these sort of hybrid pieces, is the territory that I’d like to move into.”

Hues spoke to College News about the various genres in the industry that have influenced his music and the cohesive nature of his quartet. With the new release of his album “A Thesis on the Ballard” Jack Hues takes us on a celebration of art and expression, capturing the essence of creativity and sophistication in songwriting. Hues and his delightful quartet are sure to be a next favorite on your playlist. 

College News: How was the show at the Borderline in London last night?

Jack Hues: It went great actually. It was a small but select audience, but I would expect that for this project. It was fairly obscure and athematic. Really, I just wanted to have an opportunity for the band to play. Because it’s a sort of “jazz” project, which really means improvisation, it’s difficult to rehearse. If you know what I mean? So playing in front of an audience is the way to do it, and they loved it. So we had a great time!

CN: Your album “A Thesis of a Ballard” is a celebration of art and you wrote this collection of six songs to poems by Kelvin Corekoran. What drew you to this project?

JH: Yes, he was there reading the poems in person! He delivered a talk about them, how he wrote them and then we played them. It may sound a little overly serious, but in a sense, it gives a great context to a song. With my work in Wang Chung, I’d usually write my own lyrics. There are only a couple of examples where I worked with other people. In fact, all of the examples actually never saw the light of day. But on our last album “Tazer Up”, we did a cover of a song. I found that working with someone else’s text is a very interesting exercise for a song writer like me.                 

CN: “A Thesis of the Ballad” is listed as collaborations volume three on the album.  Volume one is with two other poets, Simon Smith and David Herd while volume two is with the Canterbury rock band Syd Arthur, who are on the brink of releasing their second album with Universal.

JH: Yea, that is a great privilege to hear isn’t it? Magill who is the bass player of Syd Arthur, was doing the sound for us at The Borderline last night. He is a good friend, a great sound engineer and bass player. Joel and Magill gave me a copy of their CD, which isn’t released yet I don’t think, but it’s great. There is one track that I think you are going to be hearing on the radio quite a lot.    

CN: Not only does “A Thesis on the Ballard” feature great music and poetry but also the works of Anna Fewster, a well-known artist from the UK who designed the album art with letterpress.  How did you become to work with her?

JH: Shes actually the wife of a friend of mine. For a while, I taught songwriting at a university here in Canterbury. There is a guy there named Robert Stillman, an American – one of your compatriots, a lovely guy and a really great musician. His wife Anna does a special sort of screen printing. So I asked her if she would be interested in creating an illustration. The album “A Thesis on a Ballard” on vinyl has a 12-inch format, which I think is really a nice size for that illustration with the booklet, and with Kelvins poetry, the whole thing is a really nice package I think. 

CN: Is this your latest album since “Tazer Up”?

JH: Yes, it is! “A Thesis on the Ballard” would be the most recent thing I have done. Before that was “Tazer Up” the Wang Chung album in 2012.

CN: And before “Tazer Up” you had “Illuminated” that was recorded in 2007, then “Shattering” in 2008. Those were also recorded with Jack Hues and the Quartet?

JH: That’s right! They were recorded with Jack Hues and the Quartet. At that time the quartet had a different line up. I suppose the nature of jazz is that you tend to be working with different musicians. The chemistry of bands is much looser and you work with differnt people. With rock bands, the personalities tend to evolve, so the chemistry there is very important. In jazz, it’s more like going for more of the — “Top Guns” as it were. So on these first couple of albums, I was working with this amazing saxophone player named Paul Booth, and he contributed a whole lot to that. But what I was trying to do I suppose artistically with the current Jack Hues and the Quartet, was to create a sort of hybrid where Iam working with experienced and really talented young jazz players. But the spirit of the project is that we are band rather than just a bunch of individuals getting together and jamming. Again, the purpose of doing these gigs was to start generating that feeling of the band as a unit in the sense that I knew it in rock music, and I think there is a lot to be said to that.

CN: I think one striking thing that I noticed right away is the essence that you are creating with Jack Hues and the Quartet and how jazz had traditionally worked with poetry and other aspect of art and how you are collaborating with other artists. Is that an intentional feature of this project?

JH: It is, yes. I think with Wang Chung, seeing that as my career as a rock musician; it can be quite insular. It’s sort of like they are what they are. When you bring in outside influences, they only float in the peripheral. It’s quite hard to do collaborative work. Though I guess we did that when we did some of the movie scores. My quest as a songwriter is to try and sort of expand the territory that I have covered. My interests in music is very wide. I listen to a lot of classical music which includes Mozart and that sort of thing. Then you have to more modern classical music. A piece that Iam really into at the moment is by a guy named Hans Abrahamson called “Let me Tell You”. It’s a really amazing piece! He is like an orchestra and soprano solo singer. Using poetry, orchestra and maybe jazz resources to create these sort of hybrid pieces, is the territory that I’d like to move into.

CN: In reviewing earlier interviews you had spoken about how one of your earliest influences was some of that early British punk from the 70’s and I was curious after hearing that if you were you a fan of the band Joy Division?

JH: You know what, I was never a fan of Joy Division. I subsequently got more into them. Coming into the music scene in England in the late 70’s, there were a bunch of bands like The Smiths that was led by this literary content about what they were doing. I’m sure they will forgive me for saying this, and Iam sure they don’t care, but they were sort of amateurish in their approach to the music, which was very much what punk was about. It was about non professionalism; it was about self-express and It was very inspiring to me having been through three years of music college at that time. It was sort of liberating to think outside that box that I was framing myself in. I was more interested in bands at that time but for me, I was more driven by the music. So let’s say a band like Siouxsie and the Banshees for example, is a band that had a big influence on me and all sorts of bands which sometimes I had the opportunity to work with at that time.                      

CN: What do you want you fans to know about your new project Jack Hues and the Quartet?

JH:  I’d encourage anyone and any Wang Chung fan to check it out! Iam not sure if you see any connection with the work I am doing with the quartet and the work with Wang Chung. For me, there is sort of a DNA that I have that imprints itself on everything that I do. Ive written songs since I was 12 years old, and I still think it’s a vital way of writing music. The six songs that form “A Thesis on the Ballard”, I think are sort of concentrated, distilled examples of where I’ve got to as a songwriter. I do think that it’s is successful. People are touched by the songs. I feel “A Thesis on the Ballard” deserves a wide audience and I’d invite anyone to listen to it with an open mind. 

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Rock N Derby kicks off this weekend

The Rock’n Derby kicks off this weekend with Clutch and Lamb of God

The founder of Bamboozle John D’Esposito has started a new project — Rock’n Derby.  This three-day event kicks off in upstate New York and features bands like Clutch, Corrosion of Conformity, Lamb of God and many more, all while hosting a demolition derby. On May 20 – 22 the Scaghticoke Fairgrounds turns it up for the Rock’n Derby, a ground breaking festival that is the first of its kind.

The demolition derby and rock fest has caught the attention of a compelling group of fans. Both hard rock fans and demolition derby fans make this concept a one of a kind concert experience. John D recently spoke with College News about the dynamics involved in creating an event like the Rock’n Derby and why this new concept is suited for a wide audience. 

“Fans along the east coast have been waiting for a unique concert experience like this, which evolved from the success of The Bamboozle in New Jersey.”  

Now hard rock meets demolition and derby competitors are lining up from all around the country to compete in the Rock N’ Derby. This exclusive experience has drawn racers for a chance to win cash, prize packages and media exposure in the demolition derby world. It is the most talked about event of the season, featuring shows that have never been seen before.

John D spoke about the immense team work involved in preparing not only an excellent lineup but event services that correspond with the demolition derby.

“We subcontracted an expert to handle the demolition derby. There will be a show each night and the bands will be playing during the derby so the festival will be operating while the derby is going on.”

 John D is known for putting on a good show and the Rock’n Derby is just another example of the incredible events that allow people to experience something new and original. So prepare for a vacation experience with the hard rock gods, an action-packed demolition derby, camping among the stars, and the Rock’n Derby at the Scaghticoke Fairgrounds this weekend.   

You should also read: “Most Likely to Die” in theaters Friday the 13th

“Most Likely to Die” in theaters Friday the 13th

The Perez Hilton and Anthony DiBlasi interview

The night before their ten-year high school reunion, an unknown killer stalks and brutally murders a group of former classmates, spoiling their pre party plans. MarVista Entertainment and director Anthony Diblasi proudly present a proper spring slasher “Most Likely to Die”. Starring Heather Morris and Perez Hilton, “Most Likely to Die” hits theaters this Friday the 13th, marking a shattered killer reunion that is sure to linger throughout the graduation season.   

Perez Hilton and Anthony Diblasi recently shared their experiences with College News about what it’s like working with each other on the set of their new film “Most Likely to Die”, and how their collaboration evolved into developing this sensational slasher. Perez also caught us up on the latest celebrity gossip, his plans for the summer and let us in on his new acting roles.

“When you are creating and wanting to establish yourself, your job has to be the priority. It has to be your lover and your whole life”.

Perez and Anthony also shared their paranormal experiences, revealed what Scooby-Doo character they would be if they had a choice and discussed the casting process for the film “Most Likely to Die”.

College News: Your new movie “Mostly Likely to Die” kicks off Friday the 13th. It’s a proper slasher movie of the 90’s like “Scream” or “I Know What You Did Last Summer”. What drew you to this project?

Anthony DiBlasi: That was really the main thing that drew me to “Most Likely to Die” when the MarVista producers approached me and sent me the script. Growing up in the era of “Scream”, “I Know What You Did Last Summer” and “Valentine”, which are not all great movies, but I think they are a movie of that generation. They were these horror films that really spent time creating a villain that was kind of sexy in a way. It was a time when horror films where coming out of the 90’s being very sleek, being very much these – whodunit, slasher films. They were distinctively different than those of the 80’s because they were like – oh wait! We can shoot these in a way so that they are sexy and stylish, have great camera work and really focus on the characters. And of course a movie like “Scream” and “Most Likely to Die” do that really well, because they have characters that are so appealing to the audience.   

Perez Hilton: Well, I’ve always been a huge fan of horror movies since before I should have been watching them. I remember watching in the 80’s, so many vampire movies. I don’t know what drew me to that subsection of the genre, but I love vampire movies. I love all horror movies! I’ve always been a huge fan and I’m just excited to put my college degree to good use. This being the first movie I’ve done in a really long time. I was actually in a horror film last decade in 2000. I did one called “Camp Fire Stories”. It’s nice to return to the genre that I am a true fan of.     

CN: What is your favorite horror film of all time?

AD: Definitely “The Shining”. Growing up, horror never really scared me that much, but “The Shining” always got to me. It’s always something that stuck with me. I still watch it. I think as far as slasher films, the ones I really enjoyed like “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, are movies that I watch over and over again. I am one of the rare people who likes “Nightmare on Elm Street 2” which a lot of people don’t.

PH: Of course it would have to be “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, because it had the most interesting and haunting villain. I mean “Halloween” was great and awesome and epic, but Michael Myers didn’t speak and Jason didn’t speak. Freddie Kruger spoke!        

CN: I think a lot of that has to do with the plot as well as the casting. Anthony, could you tell me a little bit about your casting process in “Most Likely to Die”?

AD: We were going for a nice group of young actors and we did a lot of casting calls in Los Angeles. The MarVista team had brought us Heather Morris from Glee and I thought she was a perfect fit for the lead role. She had that final girl feel. She’s a strong female character, she’s a strong actor and has a strong presence. Someone that you could believe that would step up and get down and dirty when they had to, and she does in the movie. Then the wild card that was kind of dropped on us was Perez Hilton. One of the mangers had approached us and said, “what about Perez Hilton?”. And I thought – you know, that wouldn’t be a bad idea. It’s a good role, it’s one of the leads and it’s a very flushed out character. Something that he had never played before. It’s not like he is coming into this thing — like a cameo, as if oh, I’m Perez Hilton. No! It’s a lead, I met with him and just really felt like he had a quality that was inherent in that character that was on the page. So it was a pretty easy process, and I think people are going to be really surprised by Perez in “Most Likely to Die”. He is extremely funny and kind of steals a lot of the scene.      

CN: What was it like to work with each other on the set of “Most Likely to Die”?

AD: Perez Hilton was excellent! He is a busy guy. Every morning he kind of staked out his plan on the set, because he had to work during the day on other things as well. He would do his radio show every morning, which is short, but he’d always have to do it. He is extremely professional and willing to try anything. If there was anything that anyone had to do that was awkward, I’d always ask Perez to do it and he’d be down to do it 100 percent. He was just brave as an actor. Just willing to do what it takes to get it done.

PH: Anthony DiBlasi was awesome! He was very open to collaboration. I try to be as easy as possible and usually I am. Like I am professional! I show up early, I do my job, and I’m as easy as possible. But what was great about Anthony, is that he is very receptive to ideas and encouraged them. So before we even started filming, I expressed to him my excitement for being a part of “Most Likely to Die”, but also my anxiety. Their might be a huge suspension of belief to see me play a heterosexual. But that’s what that part was written for originally. So I asked how he would feel about making my character gay, just so that it would be closer to me but not be myself. I still wanted to be in character, but I didn’t want people being distracted by – oh look at Perez trying to butch it up or trying to play some straight dude! He was totally cool with that. Or like another day, he had me be more involved in one scene that I wasn’t supposed to. He asked if I would scream for him! I said, well sure so long as you give me a few takes just to make sure I don’t make a fool of myself on the first one. He’s like, “of course”. He was great, he was awesome, I have nothing but glowing things to say about him.      

CN: Perez you are well known in the UK for your appearance on Celebrity Big Brother and for your celebrity gossip blog. What’s the latest celebrity gossip out there?

PH: Gosh! Well today was a crazy day for that! With Blac Chyna being pregnant with Rob Kardashians baby! It’s still trending on Twitter and Facebook! It truly is a real life soap opera. It is insane! 

CN: Have you ever experienced paranormal activity?

AD: I’m always on the lookout for it! I chase it down if I can. I’ve had some ghostly encounters. I stayed in New Orleans once when I was working with Clive Barker and he sought out the most haunted hotel there. The room I stayed in was owned by this civil war general, and there had been a lot of sightings of him. He had kept slaves in the house that had died tragically in ways, and every night before I’d go to bed, I had blood on my arm, randomly. It happened three times on three different nights. It was a streak of blood on my arm and it did not come from me. I don’t know where it came from, but I think the general might of had something to do with it.    

PH: Hmm? I don’t think so? Not really! I am not going to lie and make something up!

CN: If you could be any character in Scooby-Doo, who would you be and why?

AD: Any character in Scooby-Doo? Well, probably Velma, because she’s hot and she has a nice rack! What’s the other one? The blonde? Shes the stereotypical – you know, the hot one, but everyone knows that Velma is the real, you know — the nerdy hot chick!       

PH: Any character in Scooby-Doo? I’d probably be Scooby-Doo because he’s the star! He has his name in the title and he makes the most money.

CN: So whats next? What’s after “Most Likely to Die”? 

AD: I’m actually doing another movie with MarVista Entertainment who’s releasing “Most Likely to Die”. It is like a Hitchcock style thriller called “Beneficiary” which is in post-production right now.         

PH: Well Iam doing “Most Likely to Die” which Iam really excited about. I am actually doing a lot more acting which is just amazing. I’m in “Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie”, a fun cameo and that comes out this summer. I’m also doing a couple of sitcoms, but those haven’t been announced yet. Like just you know, as guest star on a couple of sitcoms. Two to be exact! Which will come out in the next few months. So I’m really excited that I get to have my day job, which I love. Then I also get to just explore the other side of things, which is a return to my roots!

CN: Perez do you have any advice to any aspiring bloggers out there?               

PH: My advice to young people would be that the key to success in any industry, whether you want to be a blogger, a director, or anything you do, its just really about work. The amount of work that you put in! There is no such thing as balance when you are building. When you are creating and wanting to establish yourself, your job has to be the priority. It has to be your lover and your whole life. For the longest time, it was and is still a huge priority in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I still work incredibly hard, but now I also have more balance in my life because I’m in my late 30’s. But when you are starting out, you have to be prepared to work, work, work, work, work as Briana says.

MTV’s Ryan Devlin talks about Africa and his brand This Bar Saves Lives

The Ryan Devlin interview and This Bar Saves Lives

The Ryan Devlin interview and This Bar Saves Lives

Ryan Devlin co-founder and CEO of This Bar Saves Lives, a brand that makes premium snack bars that provides a solution to hunger and malnutrition around the world, talks about his business and how you can save lives too. Ryan is best known for hosting MTV’s hit series, Are You the One? returning for its fourth season this summer. Now he is on a mission to feed the world and help children who are suffering from malnutrition.

“A child dies every 12 seconds from severe acute malnutrition and it doesnt have to be that way. All they need is a safe caloric food aid and that’s what we donate.”

For every bar sold, Ryan and his business This Bar Saves Lives, will donate a packet of life-saving food to a child in need. And so far, over 750,000 packets have been distributed around the world.

Ryan recently spoke with College News regarding his trip to a refugee camp in Liberia, where he became inspired to help millions of children suffering from malnutrition. He provided an insightful and unique perspective to what drives passion and purpose in our lives and careers. He also spoke with us about his motivation to become an actor, his time at Michigan State university and shared tips on how you can start a business to help save lives too.  

College News: How did you get into acting? What made you want to become an actor?

Ryan Devlin: I did a lot of acting when I was in school in Michigan. Elementary school, middle school, high school and then even at Michigan State university, so it had always been just something that I really loved to do. School plays, local theatre productions, and then at Michigan State, I was part of the film makers club. We would make short little films; I worked with the campus TV station and I did some theater productions as well. I wasn’t a theatre major, I studied business at Michigan State, but I always used acting as a fun and creative outlet. So when I graduated from school, I decided that if there was ever going to be a time to take a crazy swing at a dream – now was the time. I was young, I had my degree and not many responsibilities in life at that age, so I decided to move to Los Angeles, grab a bartending job and give acting a shot. It didn’t happen overnight I can tell you, I worked really hard and it took and couple of years to get my – quote, unquote – break. They say out here ‘it always takes 10 years to make an overnight success. It didn’t quite take that long for me, but it took a bit and fortunately, I’ve had a pretty good run at things ever since.      

CN: So using acting as a platform, how did you actually get involved with hosting MTV’s Are You The One? which returns for its fourth season this summer?   

RD: I had only kind of done a little bit of both acting and hosting and I enjoy them both. It’s a totally different type of work. With acting, you’re ignoring the camera, and with hosting you’re often talking straight to the camera. It’s a different set of skills. It’s a differnt kind of energy and I’ve always liked them both. So when MTV and the producers of the show Are You The One? came to me with this concept, I had already hosted a few other shows for MTV and they were cool enough to ask me if it was something I’d be interested in doing. So as soon as I heard about the concept for Are You The One?, I was 100% in. There is just no show on television like Are you the One? It’s unique, it’s fun, it’s crazy but it also is a really interesting game and every once in a while, people fall in love and win money. So that’s pretty cool too.

CN: Being that you also starred in Jane the Virgin and Grey’s Anatomy. Juggling between actor, producer, family man and now, CEO and humanitarian, how do you keep it all together Ryan?

RD: Somedays are better than others David. Honesty, I’ve got no complaints! Life is good. When you are in my kind of business whether you’re a performer or an entrepreneur – you know self-employed, whatever you are doing in that line, it’s always good to have a lot of irons in the fire. That way you don’t put too much of your eggs in one basket. I love producing, I love acting, I love hosting, and I love running this company, This Bar Saves Lives. All of them are passionate projects for me. So it’s never a dull moment. I love to pop out of bed at six am every day and get to work. I think it makes me a better husband and a better dad, because Iam passionate about what I do. That I think really permeates everything else in my life. Beyond that — how I keep from completely falling apart in all my career? I do rock climbing, which is a great way to focus on that task at hand. I unplug at night. When dinner starts the phone goes away. Its dinner! Its playing with my family. Its bath time. I don’t take my phone into the bedroom and that’s really hard to do these days, when you run your own business. I find that I keep much saner if I set a rule for when I put my phone down for the day. It really helps me to keep focused on my priorities in life.  

CN: Speaking of your business This Bar Saves Lives, how does the bar save lives, and how did you get started with the business?     

RD: The concept for This Bar Saves Lives is really simple. We are a one for one company. So for every one of our products that we sell, we donate a packet of life saving food to a child in need. We do that through a variety of non for profit partners and we send food aid all over the world. We’ve sent shipments to Haiti, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Philippines, Nepal, and Guatemala. Wherever there is need. And there is need everywhere to be honest. The concept started when myself and the co-founders of the company took a trip to Liberia. We were doing some humanitarian work over there. We visited some refugee clinics, some doctors and nurses that were treating children, suffering from severe acute malnutrition. It is really scary. It’s like the most dire stages of starvation. It’s really hard to see, but it is 100% treatable and preventable. All they need is a safe caloric food aid and that’s what we donate. It’s a packet of food called Plumpy’Nut and it’s on our webpage. There are videos and more information on how Plumpy’Nut works. It’s very simple! We just decided right then and there that we needed to get more of this food aid to children in need. A child dies every 12 seconds from sever acute malnutrition, and it doesnt have to be that way. Our whole motto is “We eat together”. So when you buy one of our bars, and they are really good tasting bars with lots of different flavors, you get to know that you’re making an impact to the world. You can find them at stores all over the country. We just rolled them into 1000 Target stores. It’s been a really successful model. We have great customers and supporters and we are growing really fast. It’s fantastic!  

CN: Where can I get your product This Bar Saves Lives?

RD: We just expanded into about 1000 Target stores. You can go to our website and there’s a store locator. So just type in your zip code. We are in a ton of coffee shops and in Whole Foods Market locations, Target locations, and we are in a lot of hotels and natural food stores. I am sure you can get them near you or you can of course swing by thisbarsaveslives.com and put in an order and they will be shipped right to your door!

CN: I like it! I can save the world and satisfy my hunger at the same time! Ryan is there anything that you want to say to students out there that might be interested in starting a business of their own?

RD: My biggest piece of advice to anyone who is looking to start a business is ‘fire aim ready’, which is of course the inverse of ‘ready aim fire’. Those are words that I’ve kind of lived by throughout my whole career and definitely with This Bar Saves Lives. You can really have a great idea, product or service and start to put it all together, but you can over think things. You can overdevelop, you can basically kill the project by wanting to make it perfect before you put it out into the world. That’s how startups die. If you’ve got a business and you are ready to rock, get it out there! Fire, just fire, and you’re going to learn way more when it’s out there then if you are just trying to develop everything in the back theme of your own head. You’re going learn from customers, from friends and family, from other businesses, and from competitors. Just get it out there and make mistakes. It’s ok to make mistakes and then evolve or pivot or feel good about where you are at and push forward. When I was at Michigan State university, I had all sorts of little side businesses and things that I was trying to do to essentially not have to go to class or not take a bartending job. Some of them worked and some of them didn’t work, but it pays from the years to learn something by doing it. If one idea doesnt work out, then it has just prepared you that much more for your next idea like This Bar Saves Lives.

You should also read: Vincent Castiglia: blood painter discusses Gary Holt signature guitar

Vincent Castiglia: Blood painter discusses Gary Holt signature guitar

The accomplished American surrealist Vincent Castiglia talks to us about everything from his literal sacrifices to his Gary Holt signature ESP

The Gary Holt signature ESP electric guitar wielded in blood, is the latest composition by American surrealist Vincent Castiglia. Castiglia is known for his monochromatic blood paintings that examine the contrast between life, death, and the human condition. While many surrealists allude a fantasy or dream realm, Vincent Castiglia’s compositions extract a sense of interconnectedness that transcends all human boundaries.  

“It’s my concentrated, sanctified space in time. I approach these canvases like an altar. They are literal blood sacrifices that I take seriously.”

On his website, Castiglia presents his eye-catching, opaque blood paintings along with his featured works, such as the Gary Holt signature ESP electric guitar.

Recently, Vincent Castiglia spoke with College News about the new Gary Holt signature ESP electric guitar. Castiglia also shared his thoughts on the design and inspirational concepts that reveal an empowerment story with a spiritual context through the use of his bodily medium.   

COLLEGE NEWS: I’ve admired your work for years and now the Gary Holt signature ESP guitar has brought me back to early 90s music when I was a kid listening to Slayer. This project seems to be a perfect fit for you. 


VINCENT CASTIGLIA: Aw yea, 100% man, it’s another example of working in my career with some of my heroes. Giger was an example and that was a pivot point where I felt like the skies had opened up, to have been acknowledged by Giger in that way and similarly to work with Slayer and to work with Gary Holt and ESP. The first show I ever went to was a Slayer show. It was like 94 with Slayer, Machine Head and Biohazard at Roseland. So to be working professionally with them and doing such personal work for Gary Holt is just surreal you know?

CN:  Your genre of surrealism draws a contrast between life and death which you relate to your disposition. With that said, what was your situation like when you painted the Gary Holt ESP electric guitar?           

VC: You can really look at the work and delineate, pretty clearly where I was at each particular point in time and something that I’ll point to in the work, which has changed over the years I think, is the amount of violence to the flesh. Before a certain point, these figures were ripped up and there was so much decay. It was very much the place where I was coming out of or trying to get away from.

So in recent years, I feel like the figures themselves have become more whole and stronger and this piece is really a representation of that. Obviously I am working with Gary Holt and his signature ESP electric guitar, so I wanted to have his input on it. He said that he wanted something sick! That was the operative word and that’s awesome. But something so personal for him, working in his blood and everything, I wanted to get some concrete direction. We came to the idea of a classical depiction of Lucifer not the contemporary, ugly you know disfigured looking scary monster but an actual biblical kind of classical representation; the most beautiful angel. He is depicted moving through some fire. There’s flames and a lot of movement. 

CN: Speaking of movement and the texture or pulse to your work, the Gary Holt signature ESP guitar seems to come alive as the surface seems to pop right out at you. How do get the viewer involved in this movement?

VC: Well, It’s really a matter of composition. The canvas here was the shape of Gary’s ESP signature guitar; those were my parameters. It was a matter of the design occupying the space fully. What I mean by that is not going small, or I should say going large enough that what is most important about the design is communicated in the size of things. I do that on canvas as well. It’s like there is conscious thought put into some things and the rest of it kind of just happens, the nuances, but that’s very deliberate in the composition. So in this case its Lucifer and he was the most important thing about this composition so he needed to be the largest. In order to get that sense of movement, I’ve got this three quarter view and also the fire is waving. It’s moving from right to left indicating his movement.            

CN: Why did you decide to use the Gary Holt signature ESP guitar as a canvas?

VC: Well, we had talked about the project and whether or not it would be possible and that was the motivating force. Gary Holt wanted the ESP signature guitar, I was completely into doing it, and it was a matter of whether it would be possible or not. I didn’t see why not, it was just a matter of getting that surface to work with me, and to work with the blood. I had never worked with a guitar before but logistically, I felt like it would be like any other surface and it wasn’t initially because what I was trying to paint on was primed for an acrylic or an oil. The blood was not initially working because it was basically just repelling it. I got about a quarter of the way through when I realized that it was not adhering. I had to treat it in certain way which took a great deal of prep work. Once I got it to stay I just went to the throat. I’d cite it as my most detailed work to date.

CN: I know you used 18 vials of Gary’s own blood to create the ESP signature electric guitar. How much blood have you ever used for one piece and is this the first time you have used someone else’s blood?     

VC: It’s the second time working with the blood of the collector of the artwork. I used my blood primarily throughout my career. I did a portrait for comedian Margaret Cho in her blood and Gary is now the second. And since then, it’s becoming somewhat of a thing, people would like to be in the work. It’s incredible! I find it to be one of the most magical things, to take part of someone’s physicality and the essence of what makes them, them. Their actual DNA and to create a piece of artwork based on that is the most profound transformation of substance and form that I can think of in this life. 

I usually get about 15 to 20 vials out of myself at a time continually. If Iam taking blood from a collector, I can get little more than that. As far as how much I couldn’t even say. A whole lot!

CN: How does it feel that the Gary Holt signature ESP electric guitar is touring and being played it in front of millions?

VC: It’s incredible and it’s even more incredible that its Gary’s blood. It so perfectly fits him and it fits Slayer. You can’t write a Slayer song without the word blood in it. He is in the forefront which is producing this sound using his vital fluids. It’s the completion of this conceptual circle. I couldn’t have done it without Gary, he is a metal god and it’s like working with the blood of the Gods.

CN: Are you planning on doing any more work with other artists or making anymore guitars like the Gary Holt signature ESP guitar in the future?  

VC: There is a new project on the horizon which is so new I can’t even talk about it yet. It’s another singularly unique awesome and inspiring project like the Gary Holt signature ESP electric guitar. I can tell you that it involves using another musicians blood.

CN: You spoke of your childhood stressors that you faced in previous interviewsCould you discuss how the stressors in your childhood relate to your work?  

VC: To put it lightly, growing up was a nightmare. Making art was something that I did as early as I could hold a pencil or a crayon or whatever the fuck I had at the time. It was the most effective way to dissociate from my environment. It became something I couldn’t get away from. Its like I had to. If I had to be honest about it, making art was a distraction. I needed it. Then it became catharsis. After doing it for so many years it became a guiding force where there was consciousness and deliberate content being addressed in the work.

My mother was mentally ill and undiagnosed. She has sense passed but it was a very confusing time for me. There as a lot of abuse. She was a hoarder of rotting garbage, of trash and food. So I grew up floor to ceiling in garbage and with maggots in my mattress and on the walls. The place was a disaster. The actual circumstances were beyond description. The work was, not to sound trite, how I fucking survived, and it became so much more. It was about thoughtfully addressing my issues. That’s why my work is so personal to me.

CN: What kind of art were you making as a child?

VC: Well I liked to draw demons ripping people apart and eating them. In time, it wasn’t just raw emotion, it became deliberate. Some people need to go to church and that serves their purpose, that’s how they connect with whatever they deem the creative force. This is like my way of connecting with the universal life, through working on my paintings. It’s my concentrated, sanctified space in time. I approach these canvases like an altar. They are literal blood sacrifices that I take seriously. Life doesnt have to be so serious all the time but my work is.  

CN: Vincent is there anything else that you want to say about the Gary Holt signature ESP electric guitar?

VC:  I have some new hand painted limited edition prints in the store and posters signed for as low as $60. I have hand painted editions which are hybrids between an original and museum quality print drenched in my blood. Essentially it’s a print that I’ve painted on and comes with a certificate of authenticity. They are available through my webstore.  

Clutch with Lamb of God at the Rock N Derby

JP Gaster from Clutch discusses the North American 2016 summer tour

Jean Paul Gaster is a drummer known for his hard driving pocket grooves that have been the force behind Clutch for over a decade. Now with the release of their new album Psychic Warfare, Clutch has just announced new North American tour dates. The influential heavy rock band from Maryland, Clutch will be with Lamb of God at the Rock N Derby. And with a top of the Billboard charts reaction, Clutch and JP Gaster are sure to give their fans a unique and powerful hard rock performance. 

“I make an effort every day to play as hard as I can and to make that night unique. But the challenge is to get up there and to make a real musical statement.”

Recently, JP Gaster spoke with College News about Clutch’s new up and coming tour dates, a vinyl edition of two previously unreleased tracks off of Psychic Warfare and some of his major influences and inspirations as a drummer. JP also discussed the creative process when he writes music with Clutch, the origins of the drum and how he applies the concepts of Jazz syncopation in the Hard Rock context.

CN: What I like most about your drumming is how you stay in the pocket and groove. It stands out and fits so well with the drive of Clutch. With so much going on in the music, how do you keep your style so versatile?

JP: I think a lot of it has to do with that first stuff that you listen to. Those first things that make an impression on you really kind of stamp who you are as a musician. So in my case, I grew up just outside of Washington D.C. There’s a lot of music happening here. Some of the music that was happening was something called Gogo. Gogo is a very percussive kind of Funk that really only happens here in the Washington metropolitan area. So as a kid, I remember hearing some of these songs that were local hits by guys like say Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers or maybe Experience Unlimited; Rare Essene; Junk Yard Band. These were all Gogo bands that were very well known here in the area, and there was always that music around. I think a lot of the groove setting that your describing really comes from that. And of course, there is a lot of other stuff there too. I listen to a lot of things like Funkadelic and James Brown, The Meters, a lot of New Orleans music. For me, drums are a rhythmical thing. The groove aspect is one of the things that attracted me to drums in the first place. There are a lot of drummers out there that do a much more psychical approach on the drums. By that I mean it’s more about trying to throw in as many notes in as possible in any given area. To me that’s not exciting. I like to make it feel good and I like to make the musicians around me, the ones I am playing with like Clutch feel good. And ultimately, it’s about the audience, they have to feel good too! So that’s my job.

CN: I checked out a few your videos on YouTube and what struck me was how you incorporate Jazz as part of your creative process. Clutch is a band known for its hard driving riffs. How does practicing Jazz influence your drumming?

JP: I think you have to go back and think about the history of the drums and why the drums are here to begin with. The drums are a Jazz instrument. People have been playing percussion since the very beginning of time and that includes drums, but the idea of a drum kit is relatively brand new when you think about how long people have actually been playing drums. The idea of having one guy playing a bass drum, a snare drum, a sock cymbal, a ride cymbal, that all happened right at the turn of the century, right as this thing called Jazz started to happen. For me, it makes the drums easier when I study Jazz, because it gives me a better understanding of where the drums came from. For me, it’s a language and the more you know about the language, the more things you can say. That’s an important part of the drums. I do not consider myself a Jazz drummer. I can barely make may way through a chart. I couldn’t do it if I had to. But I think the greater lesson is understanding time and understanding coordination and how that relates to time. Understanding syncopation, how that relates to time. All those are Jazz concepts. But really, those are concepts that can be used in any number of genres. When I’m at home practicing drums, I do not practice playing hard or playing loud as I would when I’m playing live with Clutch. It’s much more of a mental practice and that includes Jazz exercises and includes listening to a lot of music more than anything.

CN: I can completely relate to that you know working out that Syncopation and applying those ideas in the rock context would seem to give you a lot of freedom as a drummer for Clutch. How do you think about rhythm? How do you write with Clutch? Do you construct your beats or do you sculpt them?

JP: I listen to what the other players are doing and I think about what the lead voice in the music is. So most of the time especially with Clutch that lead voice is a vocal. It’s about supporting that vocal. As a drummer, I’m listening to what everyone in the band is doing and I’m thinking to myself, how do I best support that vocal and make that vocal sound good and feel good. That’s the job of a rhythm section. That really dictates what happens after that. Once you have an understanding of what the vocal point of that piece of music is, you can go about supporting it, and that’s really how I start to create my parts.

CN:   That’s awesome! So you are more sculpting your drumming with Clutch more then you are writing? It’s more of a process? It’s something you can relate to?     

JP:  Exactly! In the early stages of writing a song, I play time and that’s it! Sometimes very straight, just time. The only purpose that it serves at that point is keeping time for the other guys in Clutch while they work out parts. I’m listening to what they are doing while that’s happening and then I start to react to that. And that’s really where the stuff starts to happen. When the guys in Clutch start to get into it and play, I react to that. Then they react to my reaction, and then from there the song begins to you know take shape. I really try not to look at it as — this is a drum part– I try to look at it as an entire piece. An entire band thing! It’s not about –let me come up with some fancy ass beats that no one’s ever played before. Again, that kind of playing isn’t interesting to me. I’m much more into music than I am chops.

CN: What are some of the biggest challenges that you face while playing the drums for Clutch?

JP: Some of the biggest challenges? Well, you know I’ve got to be honest man, playing in Clutch is probably the best gig a drummer could have. And by that I mean, I can literally play whatever I want! We get up there on stage and you know each song is interpreted just a little different each night. So I really have the ability to sort of change things, express myself differently from night to night. Depending how I’m feeling, depending on how the crowd is feeling — thinking about the band, how they are playing. I guess, I can’t really think of a challenge other than just getting up there and really doing the best that we can. I make an effort every day to play as hard as I can and to make that night unique. Maybe that can be challenging at times too, because sometimes you are on the road–your tired, maybe had too many beers the night before or maybe you didn’t get enough sleep. You know, all this stuff. But the challenge is to get up there and to make a real musical statement, and not just run through the numbers.

CN: Absolutely! In the coming months, Clutch kicks it off with Lamb Of God, supporting up and coming tour dates with Corrosion of Conformity. Can we expect anything new from Clutch?

JP: Well, Clutch will be playing a lot of stuff off of Psychic Warfare obviously that’s our newest release. We are very excited about those songs. I think probably those songs play themselves better live than any previous record. We really hit a high water mark with Earth Rocker, the record prior to this, and we knew we had our work cut out for us. We took that to heart, and I think we made a record that translates to the live situation even better than Earth Rocker.

CN: On April 16, Clutch has two unreleased tracks from Psychic Warfare, “Mad Sidewinder” and “Outland Special Clearance.” Can we expect to hear Clutch perform those tracks on this tour?

JP: You know, that is a very good question and maybe that will happen. Clutch has played “Mad Sidewinder” before live. That was actually one of the first tunes that we got together for Psychic Warfare. Once we got into the sequencing of the record, that song sort of got pushed aside momentarily. That song plays very well live, and I think in a lot of ways, I think it is one of the songs that is most related to the material on Earth Rocker. So we very well could play that one or “Outland Special Clearance” who knows.

CN: Clutch has had some success with its latest record Psychic Warfare. In fact, it was number 1 on the Billboard rock charts and 11 in the overall charts. With these two previously unreleased tracks from Psychic Warfare, is Clutch anticipating a top of the charts reaction?

JP: I think probably not. These two songs were released on a special piece of vinyl. It’s limited to 5000 pieces. They’re numbered. They have a beautiful etching on one side and two songs on the other. This was not a piece that was designed to sell a whole bunch. It’s more of a Clutch collector’s item. But I will say, you will be able to stream those songs coming up. We will be putting those out later in the summer time. But for now, the only way to get these songs is on vinyl.

CN: That’s way cool and that’s a really good way to I think speak to Clutch fans and give them something classical.  And speaking of classical. Some of my favorite music from Clutch is from the early 90’s. Can we expect to hear any early 90’s Clutch music on this tour?

JP:  Sure! Clutch makes it a point to change the set list every night.  We actually came up with a method years ago that involved each guy taking a turn and making the set list. So the first night out would be Dan, and then myself, and then Neil, and then Tim. So because of that, there’s a pretty wide variety of songs that we have to pull from. And that does include some of the earlier songs, all the way to the brand new stuff.

CN: So what’s next for JP and what’s next for Clutch?

JP: First thing is, I’m going to finish sweeping up the Clutch warehouse here. We’re going to get some rehearsals in before we start this tour coming up, which is really just around the corner from us! We’ve been off for a couple almost a month and a half now. We went down to Australia, so we’ve had some down time. We’ll get together and rehearse, then we’ll do this Lamb of God tour which will take us all the way to June. So me and the guys from Clutch will be quite busy for the next couple months.      

Comedienne Jenni Pulos and the #whattheflush campaign

The beloved actress and comedienne Jenni Pulos interview

Actress, producer and Apollo winning rapper Jenni Pulos and the #whattheflush campaign are taking water conservation to the next level. Using less than a gallon of water per flush, the ultra-high efficient Stealth toilet by Niagara is the first of its kind. While droughts and the lack of water remain a top environmental issue, Pulos shares some insightful water conservation practices that every house hold should incorporate.

“We’ve had a major drought in California and for that matter we want to save our planet and conserve water as much as we can for the future, for our children, for now! So doing your part even though it seems like a little will add up to a lot.”

On the #whattheflush campaign website, Pulos presents the ground breaking siphonic flush system, with vacuum assist technology that makes this patented toilet one of a kind.

Recently, Jenni Pulos spoke with College News about the importance of water conservation, the #whattheflush campaign and the new Stealth toilet by Niagara. Pulos also let us in on the latest interior design trends of 2016 and revealed her plans for her next rap venture.     

COLLEGE NEWS: In areas where there are droughts the lack of water or the access to clean drinking water are issues. 

JENNI PULOS: They are issues, that’s right David and now it’s time to do a spring cleaning and put in a new toilet in your home which is why I’m here to talk toilet. I am a part of the #whattheflush campaign with Niagara conservation and I’m so happy to be promoting and putting out into the world the stealth toilet which uses less than a gallon of water per flush. If you do the math, that can save you up to 20,000 gallons of water per year per household. It’s proven, it’s a quiet toilet and most importantly it really works! I’m so excited about that because you know obviously when you think – oh ok you’re not using a lot of water, what does that mean? Well they have patented the vacuum assist technology. So they’ve really done all their due diligence about making the best toilet out there for all reasons and it really works. It’s $149 so you’re obviously going to get that plus you’re going to get your money back in water bill savings and rebates and all those kind of things, so it’s your soulmate of toilets.

CN: Could you tell us a little more about the #whattheflush campaign?

JP: Yes, it is promoting this stealth toilet that they have developed and put so much work and research into. Its a beautiful design. It’s clean lined, it’s simple so can fit into any style of home and like I was speaking of before the technology is actually working so that it vacuums out the waste and takes it far away so with a small amount of water you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck. I’m just excited about it. I really believe in it and the campaign is fun because we want people to laugh about it but also take things seriously. We’ve had a major drought in California and for that matter we want to save our planet and conserve water as much as we can for the future, for our children, for now! So doing your part even though it seems like a little will add up to a lot. And that can also include turning off your faucet when you brush your teeth, definitely making sure to try to take a shorter shower, the little things that add up, being mindful of your landscape and watering it — how often you water — always checking for leaks; leaky faucets; valves; a broken sprinkler. Those are the kind of things that we don’t see that can really cause problems in making an escalating water bill.

CN: Considering the recent events in Flint, Michigan and the water crisis there, what are some other water conservation practices we should incorporate into our lives and our homes?

JP: Well like I said before, I think it’s important to make sure that you don’t have any leaky valves, any leaky dripping faucets, or any broken pipes. I mean those are the kinds of things that you know takes a little bit of work to investigate but it’s absolutely worth it. And then again not over watering your lawn, making sure your sprinkler is on a timer. How often do you really need to water? We bought a home now that has a decent amount of lawn but we’ve had a situation where we realized in watering less the lawn looks better. You just have to be very mindful of how you water it. It’s just more work and you know anything worthwhile is a lot of work so we’re asking you give a little work back to our planet for generations to come, our children, and let’s get ahead of the game. We’ve been so behind the game in so many things and in our country and our world let’s get ahead of it and that by everybody doing their part and so you can start that by saying – you know what? #whattheflush. I’m going to put in a stealth toilet for $149 bucks and I’m going to make my money back and it really does work. That’s the thing I want to stress that this is not just an– oh ok? but it’s not going to really flush. No baby! #whattheflush. It’s on.

CN: Speaking of getting back to work and staying on top of your game, how did you go from being a talented actress and comedian to solving home fix-it problems as one of the most beloved characters on Bravo?

JP: Well David I never really envisioned myself nine years ago being here today but I’m here to tell people you may not think you’re going to get to where you want to be with where you’re at now but just work hard and bloom where you’re planted I like to say and embrace failure. It’s ok you know, don’t care about what people think about you, run your own race. I say that as a forty-something rapper and an older mother and you know I had a lot of failures in my life and a lot of people have always told me no and I choose to run my own race and succeed anyway. And fail too. But people always say to so many working parents and working mothers and working fathers for that matter, how do you balance it all? Let’s face it, we’re all barely keeping it together and we have to give ourselves credit for doing so much and that’s what I loved about working with Niagara is that they’re having fun with this campaign but there are also serious about helping our planet and helping people save money and creating a good life for future generations.

CN: What are some of the biggest design trends for 2016?

JP: I think you know wide plank floors are beautiful and they’re also very in right now and lighter floors. Reclaimed wood is something I love. I put it in my own home. I’m seeing a lot of interesting things with that in range hoods and using a different texture there. Also mixed metals, brass, copper, mixing chrome, even bringing in platinum can really add a beautiful touch. I love wall stencils and wallpaper and adding pops of color you know accent walls never goes out of trend and grays, whites and classic colors are still very hot.

CN: I was wondering. Do you have any plans for writing more rap music for children?

JP: I do yes. I currently am gathering information for my two-and-a-half-year-old but there will be more children’s rap songs so stay tuned, stay fresh and stay rocking the beat. There are never enough jams out there so all you aspiring rappers just start creating.

CN: Jenni where can we go for more information about the #whattheflush campaign and Niagara?

JP: For more information, visit whattheflush.com you can also purchase the stealth toilet at Home Depot or Home Depot online.

CN: Jenni it was a pleasure speaking with you. Is there anything else that you think that needs to be said about the Niagara and the #whattheflush campaign that can get across the importance of these toilets in the household across America?

JP: I think the most important thing is just go out there and make the change today. Go to Home Depot, go to whattheflush.com and change out your toilet and you’ll be making a big difference.

The Flint water crisis and environmental racism

Michigan governor Rick Snyder under federal investigation

FLINT, Michigan — Off the shores of the Great Lakes, which provide the largest bodies of fresh water in the world, the Flint water crisis has manifested and environmental racism may be to blame. This Flint water crisis has prompted federal emergency action. Elevated levels of lead poisoning among children and other health concerns, such as legionnaires disease has claimed the lives of 10 people. Last week, President Obama declared a state of emergency in Flint and announced plans to send $80 million in aid as state lawmakers approved $28 million to help the Flint water crisis. Now Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is facing heavy criticism as accusations of environmental racism have prompted a federal investigation. 

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The Flint water crisis started in 2014 as a cost-cutting measure while the city was under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager. When the emergency manager switched the water supply from Detroit, which originates from Lake Huron, and began pumping water from the Flint River, residents immediately noticed a change in their water quality.  They reported a foul stench and a dark rust color. Soon after, many people became sick and developed skin rashes while state officials ignored their initial complaints of the tainted water.This was the first sign of the Flint water crisis.

However, state officials did eventually respond and to combat high levels of fecal coliform and E. coli, the city increased the amount of chlorine pumped into the water system. As a result, further testing revealed a concerning level of trihalomethanes (TTHM), a contaminant made up of four chemicals that formulate when heavily treated water mixes with debris and garbage. As dangerous levels of bacteria began to multiply, toxic amounts of lead seeped out of the pipes and into the Flint water supply, causing the Flint water crisis.

The Flint River has a well-known history of industrialized pollution. According to Rolling Stone Magazine, “factories had been dumping sludge and crud into the river for decades,” stated Stephen Rodrick. He goes on to explain that “this man-made disaster can be traced to one fact: Republicans not giving a shit about poor kids as much as they give a shit about the green of the bottom line.” But it is not just the slow response and denial from the government that reveals the reasons for concern rather how this political infrastructure came to be.  

In 2011, when Gov. Rick Snyder first took office, he allowed the state to take over the management of economically troubled cities like Flint and Detroit. “Part of the state’s reasoning for the takeovers was that it needed to step in to provide for the safety and welfare of citizens,” stated Rodrick. This means that elected city officials like the mayor and council members were stripped of their power and replaced by emergency managers. These state appointed emergency managers have been long criticized for being undemocratic and have been a source of controversy in the state because they’re not representative of the communities that they serve.    

The investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office comes more than a year after the switch was made to the Flint River under the control of a state appointed emergency manager. Many suspect foul play and demand the removal of Snyder from office. “The racial quotient of the crisis has also been controversial, with critics of the government’s response saying that something like this would never happen in a predominantly white, affluent area,” stated MLIVE reporter, John Counts. The competency of government and their attitudes toward healthcare and the environment in a majority-black city where more than 40% of residents live below the poverty line are reflected in the inaction of leadership as the water crisis in Flint, Michigan has left many with unanswered questions. 

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