Author Archives: jo3walsh

A Year in Poughkeepsie

By: Joe Walsh

The Location of Marist Colleges spring concert. From edgecastcdn.net.

The Location of Marist College's spring concert. From edgecastcdn.net.

It is 10 a.m. on April 26, 2009. The sun kissed 80 degree Sunday only hampered by the mild clouds of college hangovers. Andrew McMahon, lead singer and pianist of Jack’s Mannequin, moves gracefully along the Marist College riverfront where he is taking the stage in six hours. His easiness is a great contrast to the place he was in just over a year ago.

McMahon is not the type to come across as a nervous wreck, however. He embodies the laid-back Californian attitude that is always noted any profile done on a musician, actor, etc. That does not mean that he is immune to stress though.

The Glass Passenger, Jack’s Mannequin’s latest album, was released in September of 2008. On April 14, 2008, the band played for a sold out audience in Poughkeepsie at The Chance. At the time McMahon and his band were debuting potential songs for the new album.

“I’ve come to the point with this record where there’s a chance that I may sit back and be

Andrew McMahon: Singer and Pianist of Jacks Mannequin. From altpress.com.

Andrew McMahon: Singer and Pianist of Jack's Mannequin. From altpress.com.

like, ‘ok I love this record, but it’s not the perfect record in my mind,’” McMahon said. “I think that the only reason might be is that the period of time it represents is so vast…that I may never be able to totally pin this down.”

That insecurity was lost on the crowd at the Marist riverfront who had months to let the album grow on them since its release. Of course musicians don’t necessarily want to make albums that need to grow on people; McMahon included.

“I’m so addicted to immediacy.  Like when I play the record for people…I wanna see people lock with the song on the first go around. Even though I know rationally speaking, when I listen to a record a lot of times, a couple songs pop out on the first listen. Then next time a couple other songs pop up.  On this record…I think I put too much weight in the tracks having to hit immediately.”

His tour manager Sean Johnson, better known as Casper, knows how important crafting new songs are to McMahon. His demeanor is slightly more tense; having to make sure the show at The Chance goes as smoothly as possible. When he sits at the bar, it is like he really could use the rest from running around.

“Andrew loves talking to his fans,” Johnson said. “You see some guys just want to get on stage and get out. “He wants to let the people whose lives he affects with music, influence him as well.”

Someone like McMahon, who has the main creative control of Jack’s Mannequin, is the type to be hard on himself regardless. Even during his show at The Chance, months before The Glass Passenger’s release, the crowd was feeling the vibe of the new tracks. Fans who arrived early enough to hear him do sound check were even buzzing about “Cell Phone” through the muted walls.

“It’s kind of a different arrangement that I have with the band,” McMahon said. “I did Something Corporate and that was my ‘band.’ And I think I learned through that process that for me to get what I wanted out of Jack’s Mannequin was to have veto power.”

Veto power for McMahon seems to be working for everybody. Fans have reacted very well to the new album.

“I had it preordered for months,” Marist College junior Ryan Mital said. “Maybe I’m being corny but I just have a real connection to the stuff Andrew McMahon puts out.”

McMahon’s approach to music is what allows for that kind of connection.

Andrew McMahon on the Water. From photobucket.com.

Andrew McMahon on the Water. From photobucket.com.

“With a record I could be singing about a completely different subject matter and really cutting into my own core, and the listener can be taking it in a completely different context that applies to their own lives. In that sense it becomes so deeply personal because it not only becomes personal for you, but for everybody else. That’s always my goal: people can take my experiences from what I’m writing down and apply it to their experiences and live that song through in their own life.”

That perfectionist drive he puts forth to make his music so relatable goes beyond making something just for people to listen to.

In the fall of 2008, mtvU recognized McMahon, but not for music. His charity, the Dear Jack Foundation, received the “Good Woodie” for social impact at the Woodie Awards. The main beneficiaries of his charity are research centers for pediatric cancer and leukemia.

McMahon himself is a leukemia survivor. He never tries to call attention to it during interviews. He doesn’t want anyone’s pity; he’s just happy to be helping. To date roughly half a million dollars have been raised. “For me as a human being, that is something to be hugely proud of.”

Jack’s Mannequin takes the stage at Marist College just after 4 p.m., the sun unrelenting. The singer that walks on stage is one who is at an accomplished point in his life. A successful album that laid to rest any insecurity he had, and a foundation that is making use of his celebrity status for good. Always the optimist, he put it best back in that darkly lit bar on that cold April day a year before, without knowing the continued success he would experience:

“I’ve been blessed to have a lot of those kinds of moments that have been milestones that have helped me to punctuate my life musically and artistically.”

Advertisements

Managing the Dollar Demand

By: Joe Walsh

Everyone knows the economy is in rough shape. If you are a college student with a middle class upbringing, money can be very tight when the tuition bill comes. For a student that has a sibling about to enter college, money can be even more of an issue.

Unfortunately, there aren’t an abundance of scholarships that erase a full four year’s of college bills. Oprah and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition have the market cornered on those for their lucky recipients.

Fortunately, there are strategies to help ease the burden. Joseph Weglarz, the Executive Director of Student Financial Services at Marist College, sat down with The River Reporter last week to discuss how to best make the financial burden of college easier on students and their families.

It’s a Jigsaw Puzzle

“I always tell people that ask me how to best pay for college to treat it like a jigsaw puzzle,” Weglarz said. “You have to find multiple ways supplement the cost of college.”

That means those cure-all scholarships mentioned before really are a rarity. Weglarz suggest to use some of the following programs and strategies to

The 529 Plan

“Most people don’t know about this but it can be one of the pieces you use to ease the burden financially.”

There are two subcategories of the 529 Plan: pre-paid tuition plans and college savings plans.

The pre-paid plan lets someone purchase college credits early at a locked in rate. It is only

Plan ahead with your money. From learnnc.org

Plan ahead with your money. From learnnc.org

available for participating universities, but state governments generally guarantee the investment. On the downside it does not cover costs like room and board

The college savings plan is a bit more flexible when it comes to what the money goes towards. Account holders have the money they put in invested for them. On the downside, the investments are riskier and are not usually covered by the state.

If you did not notice, this is something that requires you to save ahead of time for school.

Off Campus Housing

Even though Marist provides on campus housing, Weglarz says, “You can find more affordable housing off campus.”

The trade-off here obviously is the convenience of location with on campus housing and the added expense of gas to commute.

The FASFA

You probably heard of this from your high school guidance counselor. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is received by the federal government and determines if you need federal assistance.

It is all about using multiple sources of money to pay for school. From cardiomyopathy.org.

It is all about using multiple sources of money to pay for school. From cardiomyopathy.org.

Weglarz admits however that the average middle class family does not receive much from the FASFA.

“The FASFA doesn’t take into account fact that you may have a mortgage or how much the cost of living is where you live,” Weglarz said. “The government does encourage students and families to contact the school and try to work something out with them.”

Endowed Scholarships

Marist College has a wide range of scholarships students can apply for. They are easily accessible from the Marist Web site. They are awarded based on need and academic major.

“A lot of them have specific requirements, but if you find one that’s for you, you should definitely apply,” Weglarz suggested.

You also need a teacher recommendation for them, so be sure to talk to a professor about getting one.

The Verdict

“Like I said,” Weglarz concluded. “There is no one solution to paying for a higher education. You have to approach it from different sides. Like I said before, it’s like a jigsaw puzzle.”

Hey, Aren’t You…

By: Joe Walsh

Mistaken identity is a hallmark of American culture. We genuinely love reaping the benefits of interpersonal confusion, especially when you have the same name as someone else.

Eddie Murphy portrayed a con man with the same name as a deceased senator in The Distinguished Gentleman. Name recognition on the ballot is what got him into Washington with ease.

The Distinguished Gentleman. From crawfordsworld.com.

The Distinguished Gentleman. From crawfordsworld.com.

I have even been on the receiving end of mistaken identity. During my first semester here at Marist College I was placed in College Writing II when I had never taken the test to skip College Writing I. After inquiring at the registrar’s office, I found out that another freshman, named Joe Walsh as well, had taken and passed the aforementioned test.

Due to an error on their part, he was placed in College Writing I, and I was placed in College Writing II. However, since I earned an A in the class, I was not made to take College Writing I at all. Sweet!

Were it not for this wonderful case of mistaken identity, I would have had to take two excruciatingly tedious writing classes that marginally improved my post-high school skills. Instead, I had to just take the one.

Big thanks to the other Joe Walsh. Seriously, thank you.

As pumped as I was over my minor victory, someone has me beat hands down.

Melissa Huckaby, a 28-year-old Sunday school teacher, has been accused of kidnapping, raping and murdering 8-year-old Sandra Cantu; a playmate of her 5-yer-old daughter.

The Accused: Tracy Huckaby. From listown.com.

The Accused: "Tracy" Huckaby. From listown.com.

Lucky for her, there is another Melissa Huckaby who happens to be a 28-year-old Sunday school teacher that lives just 14 miles away in Manteca, California. And get this: she has a 5-year-old daughter too.

Jackpot!

Instead of having to face all the social hostility from her community alone, she has help. Now she can focus more on dealing with the crushing sense of guilt that is no doubt sapping the majority of her mental energy.

The convenience of Manteca Huckaby taking flak for the Tracy, California Huckaby comes at a time of dire need. It is likely too much to deal with both the personal anguish and the social hostility, especially with all her frivolous mandatory court appearances of late.

I’m sure she wishes Manteca Huckaby would help her out there too. Unfortunately, that probably won’t pan out.

The Confused: Manteca Huckaby. From hollywoodcelebgossips.com.

The Confused: "Manteca" Huckaby. From hollywoodcelebgossips.com.

Manteca Huckaby has even been getting grief online. She recently had to take down her MySpace page from the overwhelming amount of threats sent to her. Tracy Huckaby must be tickled pink with the idea that her MySpace page has less hate messages because of it.

Fringe benefits!

It’s classic cases like these that make me love America even more. Instead of doing any real investigation, we Americans just assume what we are easily presented with has to be the truth. After all, the extra investigating is such a waste of time when we could be spending it tweeting or checking our favorite gossip blogs; perezhilton.com for me!

Hostage Standoff Concluded

By: Joe Walsh

The MV Maersk Alabama. From blogshevik.com.

The MV Maersk Alabama. From blogshevik.com.

Richard Phillips, the 53-year-old captain of the MV Maersk Alabama was freed Easter Sunday ending a five-day hostage standoff with Somali pirates.

His rescuers were Navy SEAL Team Six snipers who shot and killed three Somali pirates holding Phillips captive in an enclosed lifeboat hundreds of miles off the Horn of Africa. The fourth pirate in the lifeboat surrendered soon after.

Vice Admiral Bill Gortney ordered the snipers to shoot when he determined Phillips was in imminent danger. The lifeboat was about 25 yards away from snipers positioned on the USS Bainbridge, which was towing it out of rough waters.

“This was the biggest story of our Easter break,” Marist College junior Sal Furino said. “Looking back, it seemed like the only things we did over the weekend were keep close track of the Somali pirate hostage situation and celebrate Easter. It was dreadful but captivating. I was relieved to hear that the captain was finally free.”

Last Wednesday, April 8, Phillips surrendered himself to the pirates to protect the rest of his crew who had held off the intruders by locking themselves in the engine room. They later used what has been called “brute force” to retake the ship and overpower some of their captors.

The USS Bainbridge was the first to arrive near the lifeboat. Upon the Bainbridge’s arrival, the Alabama made its way to the Mombasa port in Kenya, its original destination. The Alabama had a Navy team of armed guards on board for the remainder of the trip.

The Alabama was carrying 17,000 metric tons of U.N. food aid for the East African region.

“The thing that has hit me the most is that these pirates are taking food from people in need,” Michelle Reid, a junior at Marist College said. “They don’t have the right to take it for themselves when there are so many people that need that food.”

Pirates in the region have been reacting to the news, stating that they will now escalate their level of hostility to foreign ships.

“Now they became our number one enemy,” Jamac Habeb, a 30-year-old self-proclaimed pirate told the AP regarding the U.S. “From now on, if we capture foreign ships and their respective countries try to attack us, we will kill them [the hostages].”

The Contemporary Pirate. From wired.com.

The Contemporary Pirate. From wired.com.

The precision of the U.S. Team Six snipers who attacked the pirates, aiming for the heads and shoulders, allowed Phillips to escape the lifeboat unharmed.

Phillips had previously tried to escape the lifeboat on April 10 by swimming but returned when the pirates shot at him.

A U.S. ship had tried to come near the lifeboat early on but retreated after it was fired upon. In an effort to not escalate the situation, the U.S. ship did not return fire.

When Phillips was brought to safety after the 5-day ordeal, he was not looking for praise. His statement to President and CEO of Maersk Line Limited was modest and heartfelt.

“I’m just the byline. The real heroes are the Navy, the SEALs, those who have brought me home.”

Korean Provocateurs

By: Joe Walsh

A North Korean missile launch pad. Image from time.com.

A North Korean missile launch pad. Image from time.com.

Sunday, April 5 marked North Korea’s first successful launch of a multistage rocket. The rocket went over Japan and landed in the Pacific Ocean at 9:30 p.m. EST.

This demonstration proved to the world that North Korea can not only launch a rocket, but one that has the ability to carry a destructive payload; though this test did not contain such a payload. Regardless, it has become something of deep concern to countries like South Korea, Japan, and the U.S.

“The fact that North Korea has the potential to attack our country in a huge way is shocking,” said Marist College junior Dan Greco. “The only mild sense of security I have is that they are probably more likely to hit a target on the West coast since it is much closer than attacking us here on the East Coast. It’s still clearly unacceptable, but I feel a little safer.”

The U.N. at large has issued several sanctions against North Korea, specifically U.N. Security Council Resolution 1718, in an effort to deter their nuclear ambitions. North Korea’s official news agency tried to assure the international community in an official statement that their efforts were merely to serve as “strictly peaceful purposes, largely to aid our search for food in outer space to meet the needs of our starving population.”

“I don’t know about you, but last time I checked nobody has found an abundance of food just sitting around in space,” Greco said. “They could have at least bothered to come up with a more realistic excuse.”

President Obama is currently abroad, forcing him to give a reaction from outside the White House in a less formal address to the American people and the world community:

“The launch today of a Taepo-dong 2 missile was a clear violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1718, which expressly prohibits North Korea from conducting ballistic missile-related activities of any kind. With this provocative act, North Korea has ignored its international obligations, rejected unequivocal calls for restraint, and further isolated itself from the community of nations.”

The launch beckons back to Vice President Joe Biden’s famous statement during the 2008 presidential election.

“Mark my words: It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy,” Biden said. The vice president relating the current situation to the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

Not even he could have known that the test he spoke of would come less than three months into the president’s first term. Six months was giving anti-U.S. countries too little credit.

“I thought Biden was going to be wrong about us getting tested so soon into Obama’s first term,” Marist College freshman Jimmy Mercadante said. “I’m sure he’s not in the mood to say, ‘I told you so,’ with something like this. Plus, a multistage rocket just sounds intimidating, you can’t deny that.”

A multistage rocket uses two or more “stages” to propel itself. These separate stages have their own fuel and engines so that when the fuel is burned up, the rocket can release the empty sections. This reduces the amount of weight the rocket has to move for future acceleration by the other stages. It can be seen on rockets leaving NASA at Cape Canaveral, FL.

When President Obama was in London a week ago, he asked Chinese President Hu Jintao to

From U.N. Dept. of Public Information

From U.N. Dept. of Public Information

speak with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il in an effort to quell his nuclear ambitions.

“The Chinese…don’t want to see the Japanese get nuclear weapons,” ex-Pentagon official Lawrence Korb said. Korb, currently a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress think tank added, “We need to tell the Chinese if North Korea keeps it up we’re not going to be able to hold Japan back.”

Citizens like writer Michael Hughes are recalling past U.S. conflicts and applying them to current struggles.

“…Obama must exude strength and not blink as he stands eyeball-to-eyeball with Kim Il Jong, because it will set the tone of conflict in these early stages of the New Cold War.”