The Truth Board

A Blog by the Editors of
The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Falling for Another 9/11 Controversy

It has been 10 years since 9/11 made its mark on American history and yet the disastrous memory has continued to linger within the media. It seems to me that there are often only two options. 9/11 can become a source for plot and drama, as seen in the recent opening of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, another excuse to make money from yet another 9/11 movie (of which there have been up to 38 made, according to Wikipedia). Alternatively, if the tragedy is not directly addressed, then it manages to creep into any image or statement that threatens a similarity.
A new poster for the upcoming season of the hit show Mad Men has recently fallen victim to this controversy. The poster utilizes the singular image of a businessman falling upside down. Besides the air date, no other text is present, not even the name of the show. For fans of the show, this image is instantly recognizable as the same man that falls past billboards and skyscrapers in the opening credits. For critics on the hunt for anything related to 9/11, however, the falling image is a direct insensitivity to the event. Rants immediately emerged online that compared the singular image to that of “The Falling Man,” the literal title for a picture taken on 9/11 of an anonymous man jumping headfirst out of one of the falling towers.
My initial reaction to the Mad Men poster was an appreciation of the cleverness and creativity behind the advertising. I don’t believe it’s a stretch to say that a majority of people who were to view the poster without knowing of the imposed 9/11 reference would simply see it as just that: an advertising technique. As my eyes skimmed from the poster to the following headlines of controversy, I immediately raised an eyebrow towards the connection. Obviously the two images are similar, but the animation of the businessman falling in the opening credits of the show has been around for years. Funny that no one has made the connection until the image was isolated onto a poster.
The stretch of this connection, as well as the accusations of insensitivity, baffle me. Though I cannot remotely begin to understand the healing process and scars of those who lost family members in the 9/11 attacks, I can pull from my own understanding of loss. Who would want to be reminded of that horrible day year after year? True, there is worth and value in the remembrance of those affected; however, by constantly pulling 9/11 connections out of the media that surrounds and consumes all of our daily lives, we are only opening up scars that need time and distance in order to heal. It is hard for me to believe that the team behind the poster for Mad Men’s new season were intentionally hoping to exploit the removed connection between their iconic image and one of 9/11.
We have reached the ten year mark since this disastrous event took place, and now, perhaps, it is time to move on. We don’t have to forget, but we do need to back down from assuming an insensitive connection in anything that may remotely resemble 9/11. As for Mad Men, perhaps this controversy will garner viewers for their new season, but should we assume that they were plotting that all along?


Monday, January 30, 2012

The high school syndrome

I only loved five classes in high school: Independent Study of Art, Humanities, a class called S.E.A.L (which mostly surrounded an interest in culture), Creative Writing, and AP U.S history. Every morning I woke up, went to school, and tried my best, so that I could get A’s and graduate but I never really actually cared about my classes. I can’t help but wonder and lament about my abysmal ratio of classes I liked versus hated and as I sit and reflect upon this occurrence I realize the commonalities between these classes and the reasons I liked them.
Firstly and foremost, in all these classes I had teachers who have an inexhaustible love and passion for what he or she teaches. Secondly and for the most part, each of my teachers had and have confidence in their students. This may seem trivial, but this trust let my teachers give me, or my class, a lot more freedom for student led discussion and more creatively generated work. If I could say anything about high school, it would be that I liked the classes that had a vague structure, but let me fill in the blanks. When I had the most say in my learning, I churned out my finest work and while enjoying the process. My art teacher let me create my own lesson plan and guided me through different projects that I ultimately chose, and I made some of my best art pieces so far in that class and I loved working on them.
Now three years later and this dilemma still remains a fresh thought in mind, but why? Perhaps because I’m running into this same problem at my university where I now pay teachers to bore me to death with power points and lectures that talk at me instead of include me. College, where I now choose to skip class because I would rather catch up on other work rather than go to a class where the most interesting things I’m seeing are the doodles I’m drawing in my spirals. Maybe I’m misguided in my attitude but lately I feel, as a English major with a writing emphasis, I have had little or no say in what classes I have to take and when I finally fulfill the credits that are required, the electives offered really have no relation to the type of writing I thought I would pursue in college. I entered college with the belief that I would be able to write creatively at least every semester and yet somehow all my lower division and upper division classes rarely involve any creative writing at all.
I don’t mean to complain, because I have had classes like British Literature two, Language of Fiction and Language of Poetry, that I absolutely adored, but for the most part the things I’m looking at and studying don’t really align with my goals of writing fiction. I find myself working constantly on analytical and critical essays and every time I start a new one I ask myself “why did I choose a writing emphasis when I hate this style of writing?” In truth, there aren’t even that many creative writing classes for majors which definitely makes me second guess my choice in emphasis.
This thing that I feel which savors a little like regret makes me stress a hope that something about the English department might change in the future. If I could ask for anything I would want more discussion-based classes that let students really participate in their learning. Maybe more workshop classes that let you edit and rework your writing rather than just turning in one final draft to your teacher for a grade. Lastly, I honestly just would want more options for people who came into this major with hopes of flexing their own writing muscles instead of lauding or critiquing the style of someone else’s. I went through high school barely caring about anything I learned, I don’t want college to be a repeat.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Underwear Goes Inside the Pants

While working at the McCarthy Dormitory last Saturday night, I decided I should turn some music on as I attempted to start my homework. I was about to click Wiz Khalifa's music station on Pandora, but decided I was in the mood for something different. I chose Dubstep. However, instead of some bass and random noises that people call music, a song in which a man was sharing his opinions on different issues in the world began to play. I was going to change it but then I began to see his humor (as he used extremely sarcastic wording), and posted some lyrics on my Facebook to see if anyone else had heard of it.

This homeless guy asked me for money the other day. I was about to give it to him and then I thought he was going to use it on drugs or alcohol. And then I thought that's what I'm going to use it on. Why am I judging this poor bastard?

To my amazement, instead of people continuing with the lyrics or commenting about them, I just got 9 likes and 2 comments from my family members who were not particularly happy about the drugs and alcohol reference.

The results of my "experiment" made me analyze exactly what I do think when I come into contact with the homeless. For example, if I am going to 7-Eleven or the market and there is someone in front asking for money, I either look for a different entrance or drive the extra half a mile to another location. I know that these people are not trying to hurt me or cause conflict but I am overwhelmed with such sadness and pity that I would rather not face them. Truth is, I have given homeless people money a few times in my life, but I did not feel better about myself. Instead I kept thinking about the person who had received my change. I wondered about things such as how much do they make in a day, how did they get to such an awful place as they are, and if they had any family?

I know I would never end up living on the streets because of my family, but there is always that “what if” question looming. What if I did become addicted to drugs or alcohol, would they be able to help me? And would the pennies and nickels people gave me help or hinder? It is amazing that a 4 minute and 54 second song could have such a strong impact on me.

Narrated by a comedian, Wikipedia states that the song toped the UK Singles Chart in which it was first released in 2006 under the name Lazyboy. While the song is funny, what isn't is the fact that the current homeless rate is 636,017, according to This means that for every 10,000 people in the general population, 21 of them are without a home, and for veterans the average becomes 31 homeless vets per 10,000 vets in the general population. Because of these startling facts, I believe that there needs to be more programs out there that give the homeless opportunities to get out of their particular finiancial situation and start over again. Instead of people laughing at the problems of our world, they should be willing to take a stand and help make a positive change.

- Victoria Federico

Friday, January 27, 2012

Birth Right

Leaves on trees give sound to sighing winds that move in and out of my living room window. Peering through the glass are pieces of sunlight that illuminate dancing patterns of dust. They hardly seem worried about settling anywhere on this lazy Sunday afternoon. Although I had not invited anyone over, the room is full of friends. My house often seems to gather company much in the same way that it gathers the dust I watch float towards no particular direction.
They sit on the couch, chairs, and futon arranged around each other and discuss their days. I chew on a toothpick and space out, my legs kicking off the end of a loveseat I am draped over. Preoccupied with thought, I am not engaged in the room’s chatter. With another birthday around the corner, I find myself contemplating the meaning of my finite existence, a task that hushes my voice among the outgoing assembly of students whose minds are still fresh from class, work, and life outside this room and my thoughts.
The conversation is silly and light-hearted. I only half listen until my ears perk up at my name.
“Wait, Rica, isn’t your birthday this week?” my roommate Nora asks, momentarily tearing herself away from a crippling Reddit addiction. Her Persian skin and dark features make her a shadow in the unlit corner of the kitchen.
I roll my eyes. “Yeah, I guess it’s on Friday.”
I silently pray that this answer will end the discussion. On the twenty-seventh day of the first month of each year, catastrophe ensues in the form of a botched party or failed plans or an empty bank account all in the name of my birth. My resentment of this day is only half-serious, but still I hold dear this cynicism because, frankly, I can. Leslie Gore got it right- It’s my party, I can cry if I want to.
“Oh my God,” Sean squeals, sprawled out on a futon covering a good chunk of the living room floor. His blue eyes are wide with anticipation. “What are we gonna do for it?”
More aggressively than I intend, I answer, “I don’t know, why do I have to do something?” After a brief pause, I collect myself and recover the answer. “I mean, I don’t know. I hate birthdays… they never work out.”
Life for you began exactly so many years ago, some floating voice says. Then it rips me away from an age I had just gotten comfortable with in order to don some new identity. This year, I am forced to forsake the all-too infamous age of 21 for a much murkier hue of 22, casting me to a fate known as being in my 20s. Gross.
Sean tries hard to rally. “Com’ on… it’s supposed to be a fun way to remind you that you were born!” I sit unconvinced as others chime in on possible party ideas. What purpose does this reminder serve? I have heard that the highest percentage of suicides occur between Thanksgiving and Christmas, a time where people are dragged into days meant to fill some void in us. How many are instead reminded of what left the holes there in the first place? Is this true of birthdays too? I wonder if anyone felt so poetically inclined as to end his life many years later on the same date it began.
What will this pile of celebrations become when I crush under the pressure of age and expire? What compels me to find comfort in only the most perverse views of this personal holiday? Dripping wax crawling down candles look like teardrops; wrapping paper seems a superfluous decoration stuffed in a trash bag.
And yet, I still want to believe in some sort of renewal or awakening that we all seek on this day. Will this year be important? Will some profound life event make seeing this day next year more significant? Finding meaning in it feels like reading palms with no knowledge of the lines’ symbolism.
Still combating the rebuttal from a crowd eager to have to a party to look forward to over the weekend, I concede to the notion of raging while still reserving my right not to.
“OK, OK, I get it. Look, just be on-call, all of you… we might go out, or I might just make you sit with me and commiserate all day. Either way, I expect full attendance and no complaining. “
And maybe that’s it. Maybe we all need one day to be allowed to act in ways we are deprived of the rest of the year. Birthdays are the only days of the year where people are truly excused for being loud, unreasonable, irrational, miserable, wasted, annoying, or passed out in the corner of a bar. If nothing else, I am allowed to revert back to the state of mind I had when I was in fact born, knowing the self-indulgence can be excused simply with the presence of a birthday hat or pin or shot.
This is the one day where age and its meaning should not weigh on my mind. I have the whole year to do that. Perhaps someone a long time ago decided that if one should be so lucky to live to see another birthday, it is her birth right to be distinguished as someone who has made it another year in this realm. Certainly that someone deserves a day of free shots, good wishes, and permission to act badly. We all deserve happy birthdays; some of us just find happiness in negativity. And that is my right, one day a year.

Your weekend warrior,