Boston's calling: your local music festival
There’s something entrancing about the pulsating beat and pounding bass that shakes the ground beneath your feet during a live concert. The bond between you, the artist and the crowd is a force to be reckoned with as you stomp and scream your favorite lyrics at the top of your lungs. However, music festivals, like our local one known as Boston Calling, can be a bit of a mystery to young people like myself. You don’t really know what to expect, with names of dozens of artists descending into tiny font and thousands more people bound to show up and support their favorites and newfound music. It can be intimidating, especially when your mom is grilling you about the details you don’t have. Last year, I went to Boston Calling and lived to tell the tale. I'm here to tell you (and your mom) all about it.
According to an article by WBUR, Boston Calling has changed a lot from a small event in City Hall Plaza in 2013 to a large scale festival taking place in the Harvard Athletic Complex in Allston with the likes of Foo Fighters, Rage Against The Machine, and Red Hot Chilli Peppers headlining in 2020, and Travis Scott, Tame Impala, Paramore, and more in years past. As well, there are performances from Boston Ballet and comedians. You can make a pitstop at the arena and laugh with the likes of Micheal Che and Melissa Villaseñor, and this year, local comedian Lamont Price. The festival is also known for the food and drink vendors that you can preview before using the official Boston Calling app. There is much variety to be found, and something for everyone interested.
Franz Criscione, a 17-year-old at Boston Arts Academy, has been twice, and plans on going for the third year in a row. “My overall experience was very fun. I thought that the multi stage platform really created a super cool atmosphere of music all the time. That specifically made me listen to so many artists I hadn’t heard of before that I ended up liking a lot.” Like many big events, it’s always better (and more fun) to bring a few friends, as Criscione recommends. “You want to have a crew around you at all times, there is a lot going on and being alone with so many people in one place can be disorienting. Having a group of people to be able to check in with and have fun with will improve your experience overall.” Even with conflicting tastes, having another person drag you to an artist that you’d never hear can help you discover artists you never would have without them.
The Boston Calling website provides a handy list of things to bring in their FAQ, including:
  • Sunscreen (non aerosol)
  • Hats
  • Sunglasses
  • Non-professional film and digital cameras
  • (1) Factory-sealed bottle of water (non-glass container, up to 1 gallon in size)
  • A small clear plastic bag (no backpacks are allowed inside the festival)
  • Valid Driver’s License for will-call and/or to purchase alcohol
  • Comfortable footwear (shoes or sandals must be worn to enter festival grounds)

They provide lockers that can be reserved, recommend comfy and lightweight clothes and lots of water. It’s a practical list and something your mom would recommend. Is everything absolutely necessary? No, but no one wants to be walking around in grass fields in heels or without your own water or some sunscreen to protect from the May sun.
I was lucky enough to have been a volunteer last year, meaning while I spent a decent amount of time serving food to those who spent money for the experience, I was able to go and escape to jive to Logic’s swift and lyrical flow and MARINA’s joyful pop beats. So if you see the ticket price of $399.99 plus a $46.99 fee, trying to volunteer and offering your services can get you places. We all know the feeling of wanting to attend an event and stressing out about how to save up. But in trying to volunteer, you can rack up some community service hours and just be a general help during this hectic time.

Going to a festival is an ideal experience for someone who wants to be able to chill, bounce around, and hang out with friends in a musically fueled space. And at the end of the day, the festival isn’t that overwhelming. The only overwhelming part is figuring out what to explore next.
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A beginner's guide to buying your first guitar
Photo by Anton Shuvalov of Unsplash
Do you think there is such a thing as a beginner guitar? If there is, then why are there so many different ones out there? I don’t think there is one single beginner guitar because there are so many different types that are specific to the genre of music you play. As someone who plays guitar, I, of course, think there are certain guitars you should stay away from if you are a beginner — guitars with nine or 13 strings, or weirdly shaped or sized bodies. A basic guitar has six strings, a fretboard — the lines on the neck —  a head where you tune it, a neck and a body. 
So, which guitar is best for you to learn on? If you don’t know, then you’re in luck! This guide will tell you about different guitars and which one I think you should get depending on the genre of music you like to play. 
If you like playing rock with heavy beats but simple melodies such as “Purple Haze” and “Thunderstruck:”
Squier Stratocaster ($150+): This is an electric guitar with a double-cutaway, meaning it has two cuts in the body so your hands can reach the whole fretboard, six strings and a “horn” shape for balance. Electric guitars are different from acoustic as they plug into an amp and can have a very clean or very distorted sound. This is a very popular guitar with a popular shape. I think this guitar is good for rock because many rock musicians use it like Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Holly and Eric Clapton. It has a rock sound, but it’s not good for heavy metal because it can hit hard beats but not heavy beats.
If you like playing pop with good rhythm and a catchy melody:
Squier Telecaster ($180+): This was the first successful solid-bodied electric guitar with six strings. Instead of a two cutaway it has one cutaway. I think you should use this guitar for pop because a popular pop player, Prince, used this guitar. It can hit beats ranging from pop beats to hard beats. This versatility makes it a good choice for pop musicians. 
If you like playing hard rock (highly amplified harsh-sounding rock music with a strong beat), heavy metal with a heavy use of aggressive vocals, distorted electric guitars, bass guitar, and drums or grunge (rock music characterized by a raucous guitar sound and lazy vocal delivery): 
Epiphone Les Paul ($200+) : This is a solid-bodied guitar with six strings. This is also a very popular guitar to play. I think this is a good guitar for these genres because many hard rock bands, heavy metal bands and grunge bands use this guitar. Some are Metallica, Guns N’ Roses and Nirvana. This guitar can hit soft beats up to really heavy beats.
Epiphone SG ($175+): Another solid-bodied guitar with six strings that is very popular today. It has a two cutaway and two prongs that look like horns. I think you should use this guitar because many rock players chose this guitar. One famous guitar player that used this is Angus Young. This guitar can also hit beats ranging from soft up to heavy.
If you like playing folk which originates in traditional popular culture or that is written in such a style:
Fender CD-60S ($200+): This guitar has six strings, a mahogany back and sides, and a rosewood fingerboard. The dreadnought-sized body provides a traditional full-bodied tone. I recommend this guitar because I have this guitar! This guitar can hit soft beats up to smaller hard beats.
Yamaha APX600 ($300+): This is a thinline acoustic-electric guitar (a thinner bodied guitar). It is comfortable and easy to play. I recommend this guitar because it is rated well on the Guitar Center website and from what I know, people really like it. This guitar can also hit soft beats up to smaller hard beats.
If you like playing Blues which traverses a wide range of emotions and musical styles:
ES 335 ($400+): This is a vintage semi-hollow guitar with great playability and warm tone. It is a bigger bodied guitar but is still a very good one. Even though this is more expensive than the other guitars on this list, I still recommend it because it is a very popular blues guitar. This guitar doesn’t just play a warm tone, it can hit hard beats too!
I hope this gives you some advice about picking a guitar. With the right guitar, you will definitely become the musician you want to be. 
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Young Critics' Pascale Florestal amplifies the importance of diversity in pop-culture criticism
Photo courtesy of Delon Photography
When considering going to a new restaurant down the block or checking out a play that just came to town, chances are the first place you’d turn to are the reviews. Critics serve the important purpose of giving people an initial impression of art and culture, becoming a bridge from creators to appreciators. Their words can determine a product’s reception.
With critics carrying so much power, how important is it for their demographics to be diverse? In the modern world of theater, the contributions from artists of color have been growing exponentially, with the likes of Jordan Peele, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Kehinde Wiley to name a few. While the types of media are diversifying, critics have not been able to keep up. According to a report from Variety, 82% of critics who reviewed the top 100 grossing movies in 2017 were white.
“How are white reviewers able to understand and contextualize the experience of artists of color?” Pascale Florestal, director of Young Critics Organization, asked herself. Florestal noticed that works by people of color are often judged more harshly, or are not understood by critics. In theater especially, she describes how reviews can be “the only documentation of these experiences, so what happens when the majority of people reviewing do not represent the community or the stories being told?”
Hoping to spark a change in the world of professional criticism, Florestal founded the Youth Critics Organization with WBUR’s “The ARTery” to focus on training young adults of color in criticism. The Young Critics Program now trains 12 young adults by taking them to theater performances to critique. It strives to teach youth about criticism and reporting, and how to exercise these skills while viewing performances all around Boston.
Pascale has been surrounded by the arts since the age of three and was shaped by theater after being put in dance classes by her parents. Her love for theater intensified after she participated in backstage work for community service in high school. 
Eventually, she was inspired to get a BA in Theater at Ithaca College. After immersing herself in the industry for so long, she began to notice an imbalance in the reviews that different types of art receive.
“[In the] last like four years, a lot of new work has been happening, which has been so exciting and there's also been a big surge of theater of color,” she explained as we sat in the Boston Center for the Arts. “And one of the things I kept noticing is the people who are reviewing [these new productions] are mostly old white men.”
One she noticed, she realized the lack of diversity hurt both the audience and the artists.
“I felt it was imperative that we have younger voices to talk about the work because they're going to be the next people coming in doing this work, seeing this work, hopefully investing in it,” Pascale said.
With the help of top New England writing consultants, participants will become more familiar with criticism, while also getting to leave with a nice check after each review. Encouraging a more diverse group of people to pursue this type of reporting opens up an opportunity for a much-needed ripple in the world of criticism.
Expect a boom in the world of critics and a long overdue one at that.
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SCP Foundation wiki: reader's dream or navigational nightmare?
Sometimes the most interesting stories start not with a hook, but with a government-ordered file number. Such is the case with most stories on the niche SCP Foundation Wiki, a site that parodies government websites. The wiki is a fictional catalog of cool people, places and things, and the stories that surround them, à la “The X-Files.” 
Some bizarre stories include a woman who can stick her hands into photos, an alternate-dimension version of the Foundation that is attempting to invade the multiverse and a giant unkillable lizard. The main story of the wiki is that “The SCP Foundation” attempts to capture these beings and keep them secret from the world. To keep a record of these beings, they catalog them on the wiki, which is designed to appear as a secret government website.
Those who would make comparisons to the somewhat more mainstream Creepypasta wiki  — another site that lists scary events and things — would not be wrong to do so. Both sites use the Wikidot website platform, a collection of forums and pages that catalog information on a number of topics. They also both have thousands of writers who use them as outlets for their creativity — and both stem from horror themes, referencing urban legends and popular science fiction. However, any person who has visited both wikis would see glaring differences between the two. The Creepypasta wiki has a low standard for the written works on the site, which leads to many poorly written, repetitive stories. In contrast, admins who run the SCP wiki are quick to criticize or even remove works they view as “not up to par” or unoriginal, and the community itself views the entire wiki as an opportunity for all members to improve their writing skills. Many people revise their stories and SCPs after posting them on the site’s main logs. This striving for originality and constant improvement can lead to an amazing reading experience, as writers will expand their stories into other genres such as action and drama. When it comes to expanding on cliché ideas in interesting ways, this wiki gets a passing grade.
The wiki is also open to new readers, with full book-length stories that are often made to introduce new readers to the “SCP Lore.” These stories include diverse casts of characters, such as members of the LGBTQ+ community and diverse races. Stories can include lesbian witches, nonbinary wizards and transgender wendigos. I guarantee that if you can imagine it, one of the nearly 1,000 writers on the wiki has written something like it. Also, if you are looking for a more audio-based introduction to the community, there are plenty of YouTube channels explaining and reading the wiki to listeners.
The community is quite cohesive, as writers and readers are often very accepting of each other’s so-called “headcanons” — or personal interpretations of characters and stories — in the universe, with the phrase “no real canon” getting thrown around a lot when discussing things and events in the “Foundationverse.”
There has only ever been a few problems with writers not respecting admins, and in those situations, writers were banned and articles were removed. When it comes down to it, the SCP community has weathered any and all drama that has come its way, and shows no sign of ending this pattern in the future. If you are looking for a stable fandom to join, with a welcoming attitude towards new readers and writers, this is the place for you.
However, any person who has visited the SCP wiki will see a problem that community support cannot fix. The site is frustrating to navigate. Like many wikis, the SCP Foundation wiki isn’t made in a creative way, and is built from a cookie-cutter framework. Also, the admins and most people in the community aren’t exactly skilled when it comes to site design. This, combined with the sheer amount of information that is saved on the site, makes it dense and difficult to navigate. For this reason, I would give the site a failing grade for ease of navigation. 
As I’ve said before, if you have a certain reading itch you want to scratch, be it sci-fi, fantasy, horror or any other niche fiction theme, you will most likely find it on the SCP Wiki, as long as you are willing to search for it.
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A Bajan's do's and don'ts
Photo by Jon-Ade Holter of Unsplash
Have you heard of the country Barbados? It’s an island in the Caribbean. When I say Caribbean island, what do you think of? Playing on the sandy beaches, having a fun time in the crystal-clear water, amazing food and upbeat music may come to mind. But, you should also think about getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, ants infesting your home and random stray cats asking for food at your doorsteps! If you ever plan on visiting Barbados, follow my tips on how to make the best out of your trip.
Things to do: 
  1. Visit in the summer 

If you’re going to Barbados, go during the party months of June, July and August because that's when Crop Over, also known as the Harvest Festival, happens. Crop Over is a 200-year-old tradition that celebrates the end of the sugar cane season. There is a lot of partying in the streets, parades and food. Crop Over ends with the biggest festival of them all, Kadooment, where people dress up in colorful and feathery, skimpy garments to march in the streets and party all day. 
  1. Hire a tour guide

It's easy to get lost in Barbados! The island has rocky, narrow roads and you have to drive on the left! But, if you get a tour guide, you can ask them to take you to places like Harrison Cave and beaches with pink sand and clear water, according to US News & World Report Travel Guide, which will make your trip more fun. My mother, Medina Jones, said, “It's best to get a tour guide. If you're really new, find a map or local.” 
  1. Carry bug spray

The bugs in Barbados are going to be wild! According to Barbados.org, there are flying cockroaches, ants, sandflies and the notorious mosquito, all which you can combat with the bug spray. Make sure to buy the bug spray in Barbados because the bug spray in America isn't strong enough to kill all of the bugs. Jones said it would be great to bring bug spray but don't expect it to work all the time. “Usually bugs come out at night, so be more careful then.” 
Pack accordingly 
When packing, the first thing you want to do is get proper summer clothes, the lighter the better. Another thing to do while you’re packing is to exchange your American money for Bajan dollars — the rate is approximately two Bajan dollars to every American dollar. Also, bring an umbrella because when noontime hits, the sun will be beaming and make you hot and sweaty. You also need the umbrella because it rains randomly and then stops at least 10 minutes later. Be sure to pack sunscreen to prevent sunburn and tan lines. 
  1. Eat the local food

When you go to Barbados, try the food. Cou cou and flying fish is the national dish. It's cornmeal with a side of tomato paste sauce with fish in it. You should also try macaroni pie. No, it’s not macaroni in a pie, it’s just baked macaroni and cheese. This is a big staple in the country’s diet. Another food you can try is a fried savory food called fish cakes. It's made with saltfish and dough batter, seasoned with scallions and other seasonings, then fried to a golden ball of perfection. According to Crane.com, it's the most popular food for tourists in Barbados. Other staple foods are rice and peas and a fruit called gineps, but in Barbados, they call them Bajan ackees. Not to be confused with the Jamaican ackee, it has the shape of a grape with a hard outer skin that you have to bite off. It's very sweet and sour. You can get them from street-side vendors in Barbados. “If you’re new to the island I really would recommend the food, there's a lot of flavor and spice that will make you feel very very excited,” Jones said. 
Things not to do:

Beware of the animals 
Barbados is full of animals like the green monkey, bats, lizards and rabbits. There are also animals like wild cats and dogs. To combat these tricky animals, don’t feed them! Yes, they may seem cute and cuddly, but they could have rabies, ticks or fleas and they could come back for more food if you feed them. I fed the cats and for sure they came back! Not sure about the dogs, but on the safe side don’t feed them either! If you see a monkey, don’t get too close. They can feel threatened and attack you, resulting in serious injuries. That said, animals aren't all that bad, but don't go out your way to bother them. If you bother them, they'll bother you. “Be careful too, and take awareness if you get bitten by an animal. Get medical treatment as fast as possible,” Jones said. 
Avoid poisonous trees 
In Barbados, there are many trees and fruits that look pretty and you may want to eat its fruit. However, you have to be aware of one tree in particular: the manchineel tree. Known to grow near coastal beaches, it is a poisonous tree that grows a deceiving fruit that looks edible, but could lead you to your short-timed death! 
Don’t wear camouflage 
When you get to Barbados, it's best that you keep your camouflage clothing at home! It’s the Bajan Law that you can’t wear camo clothing because it's only reserved for the Barbados Defense Force. This isn’t limited to just green camo, any color camouflage can get you detained!
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