Sidelines and Sessions


On Spec

Filed under: Uncategorized — spsukaton @ 7:44 am

It doesn’t work. Craigslist knows how I feel:

It’s great that you have decided to start a blog, or a new webzine, or to publish your latest book, however it is damn nervy to ask writers to commit to writing articles (such as the gaming people who want FIVE articles per week) for free. A professional writer doesn’t need “exposure”, they need money. Professional writers don’t waste time working on spec for startups, they only work on spec for established publications. Would you ask a hairdresser to style your hair for free because you couldn’t pay them but offer them the “exposure” of telling everyone who did your hair?

If you want professional writers – PAY THEM.



Protected: Perspective

Filed under: Uncategorized — spsukaton @ 8:16 am

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Limerick for Penn Masala

Filed under: Uncategorized — spsukaton @ 9:37 am


I really can’t stand what you do.

I’m procrastinating thanks to you.

Yet your songs are so smooth,

almost crafted to soothe

and I’m enjoying your music, ’tis true.


Review – “The Future of Faith”

Filed under: Uncategorized — spsukaton @ 3:12 am

Spectrum magazine picked up my review on Harvey Cox’s Future of Faith – and the discussion was pretty lively (for a week, at least.)

Best news ever as I slog through the last two weeks of fall quarter. Two papers for Bartchy, a geography final for Gillespie. My misery and my reputation have a direct correlation.

Again, if you have any interest in religion at all check out my review here, and consider buying the book (through Spectrum’s affiliate account, if you would hahaha.)




No Turkeys

Filed under: Uncategorized — spsukaton @ 3:09 am

I had enough at the office. My dad made a roast. I kicked in mashed potatoes. My aunt brought green bean casserole and Dutch apple pie a la mode. Oh, and we all brought our appetites. A turducken would have been interesting, the obscenity of so much meat in my house notwithstanding.

I swear, my table gets more whitewashed every Thanksgiving – not a grain of rice to be seen anywhere, nor a drop of sambal. My dad decided to eat Serreno peppers with his food instead.

Strange how things work out. Chalk it up to time.



Filed under: Uncategorized — spsukaton @ 8:29 am

I’m a very musical person. I hate saying that, since any jumped-up college kid with an iPod can say the same – and most do. Even if they just bandwagon bands (or if they do the ironic-hipster-reversal thing and start talking about bands nobody’s ever heard of – can’t stand that!) But that’s the door into a rant I don’t feel like going on right now. For know I’ll just repeat the words of a fellow saxophonist and DB staffer I respect – “so many music journalists aren’t musicians themselves, and it affects their work!” Imagine then, listeners!

But seriously, Consequently, specific kinds pull specific levers in my soul – the way smells or textures do for other people.

It’s been a very rough quarter, on a lot of levels, albeit a deeply satisfying one, my highkey (thanks for the word, Janelle!) stress and lowkey silence notwithstanding. Music soothes the savage beast, so I decided to let my fingers pull up a website at random as I write. It’s a college marching band. There’s just something about trumpeters pulling off high E’s that soothes my brain like a hot bath and a pint of Ben’N’Jerry’s Karamel Sutra. Nerdy as hell? Perhaps.

Social cachet aside, I feel like I’m eating my first substantial meal in weeks – my current choices have been fulfilling, but something about marching music makes me feel cozy, regardless of how I feel about high school or college or my reputation or church or the universe. Not uplifted – Selah’s got me there. Not empowered – Blue Scholars does that well enough. Just cozy. Unalienated. At home. Psychologically dressed-down.

It’s…unpretentious. Refreshing. A kind of “coming out,” to borrow from a friend and fellow blogger. The other parts of my identity that I occasionally play up or down – the writer/editor, the college student, the activist-theologian, the historian – all fall away, like clothes.

That’s not to say that I belong in the stands every Saturday – I don’t, for a lot of reasons. But hearing or playing the sort of stuff that does belong there simplifies my life, or at least takes me back to a time when my life was simpler – I knew who I loved and hated, I wasn’t worried about the entire universe, and I wasn’t paying for school.

I’m probably the only one who gets like this, but holler if you feel me.




Filed under: Uncategorized — spsukaton @ 9:31 am

Where’s San Bernardino?”

If I had a dollar for everytime I said that, I’d buy my mom the Mercedes she always keeps singing about.

Where is it? Take the 405 south to the 10 East and drive 90 miles.

Take the 10 to the 215 and exit Waterman, turn left and drive to my place. Don’t hit the chick with the bruises and stroller and another baby on the way – she’s an old friend.

Don’t drive too fast going by the country club – there’s an elementary school there, and it’s the closest some of those kids will ever get to comfort.

You’ll know you’re there when you see the painted bridges saying “A City on the Move” in the middle of sprawling chaparral and sand. Oh, it’s on the move all right – you leave it or it leaves you, as it moves on to gated communities, Starbucks, and “historic districts.” Sound familiar?

Don’t linger too long in Redlands – cops’ll run you off the street if you’re too young, too dark, or too anything.

If you drive through late at night on weekends on the way to Vegas, tune into 99.1 and listen to the baby mamas dedicating songs to their guys who are “far away” in Chino or San Quentin.

I used to hate home. I got roughed up by the cops in high school because I looked shady. I got clowned on by teachers because I wasn’t so hot at math. To this day, I still don’t get how I got into UCLA. I guess I got lucky

I was just a small-town boy coming out here – a kid from a town nobody knew, who went to a church nobody knew, from a country nobody knew. Then I met y’all – children of nurses and postal workers and engineers and teachers, believers and doubters, charmers, beauties, and decievers, and I realized that you’re from San Bernardino, too.

You see, San Bernardino is everywhere. Anywhere kids grow up with big dreams and slim chances. Anywhere parents stay up sweating over bills in a haze of cigarette smoke and worry and try to hide it from their kids. Anywhere people  say things are “fucked up” because they don’t know any other way to say it yet. Anywhere wealth lives cheek by jowl with hunger. No matter if you live by the country club or by the train station, everybody’s just one missed payment away from the soup kitchen – San B is where everybody prays, and doubts, and hopes.

Everybody’s from the same place – maybe it’s Carson, or Oakland, or San Diego – but we’re one people, riffing different variations of the same blues, of the same struggle, of the same hope.

So, where’re you from?


Filed under: Uncategorized — spsukaton @ 7:39 am

“But I tell stories…like this one.”

-Jason Bayani, “Ardenwood B-Boys”

I have no idea how I didn’t know about NPR as a teenager. I was a news geek back in the day – how come I never heard of Ira Glass? He spoke to my wonky soul, and NPR’s music choices would have been epic in a life dominated by marching or pop. After an evening of listening to NPR and DB Radio (yes, Daily Bruin has radio, you should listen!) I’m pretty sure I’m going to work in radio in some capacity.

I feel drawn to radio. This isn’t a surprise, in retrospect. TV’s not nearly that important in my life – I haven’t had one in my house in a decade and a half. My family compensated with films and, to a greater extent, radio. I have the frequencies for every major station that reaches San Bernardino memorized (so clearly that I worked my mom’s car radio for almost a year when its display broke.)

Jazz? 89.1 or 94.7, of course. Country? 95.1 or 105.1, depending on how close to LA you are. Something more contemporary, perhaps? 96.1 once upon a time, 99.1 since my auntie graduated high school, 102.7 going West and 104.3 for old school. 103.5 for soft rock, 96.7 and 103.9 for the opposite – and let’s not forget 89.7 and 107.9 on Saturday mornings on the way to church. Hell, I remember 92.7 broadcasting from Avalon! I’ll bet no ‘dino kid my age remembers it – they all had TV!

But I do love radio. It’s one of the few things in me that isn’t subjection to the bifurcation my life’s subject to – church and street. It reaches back to my childhood and remains constant – TV can’t compete with it (because my eyes have been trained to read, instead of being browbeaten into submission by the boob tube.)

Perhaps Arkae’s right – we’re the same person we were when we were 5 years old – that is, the emotional, psychological, spiritual filters that we take new growth in are frozen at 5 years old. If that’s so, I suppose that’s why I’m such a sound junkie.


I am sick

Filed under: Uncategorized — spsukaton @ 10:39 pm

…as a dog. (I never really got that expression, but it sounds particularly apt here.)

It was bound to happen eventually. What with my odd sleeping hours, my silly work habits, and the dialectical weather we’ve been having. (Don’t get me wrong, this Indian summer is hella bomb, but did it really have to come after 2 weeks of gray skies and freezing rain? Of course not.)

So I am making up my absence from work (well, it’s not really making up, but I feel like I ought to do something) by blogging and writing – I have a book review for Spectrum due soon.

I’m pretty sure this isn’t H1N1  – just a typical (albeit nasty) cold, since I don’t have any fever, chills or stomach trouble. Everything else is coming on like a bitch – I have to breathe through my mouth, I have to drink to prep my throat to swallow, and I’m drippy like a faucet.


Oh, Irony!

Filed under: Uncategorized — spsukaton @ 8:52 am

I’m mixed up in all sorts of ways.

Most of my friends love the obvious irony of my story: loud brown kid with an eclectic erudition and pedigree, raised with one foot in a suburban-rural county seat’s white flight and the other in a polyglot city on a (beautiful) hill, ambling up into a secular-humanist, postmodern red-brick ivory tower to the west of Tinseltown.

My life’s centered around Adventist/public tension, and it’s been fun. It’s typically subtle counterpoint in the bottom of my heart and back of my head – a line in an essay verging on homiletic, a touch of hymnody in my voice as I sing on the way to class, a paraphrase of an epistle in a column draft,  or a twist in my turns that goes back beyond marching band into the days I wore green pants and shined my shoes. Old friends might not even see it – I miss it, too. A few catch it. Sometimes, though, I’ll face something in my past or present that hits the chords hard, bringing the dissonance front and center.

Tonight was one of those times. I was reading a piece on the benefits of local organic produce – apparently, not only is it cheaper, but your money supports your community, you save energy and labor costs, and it’s healthy and easy eating. Couple that with a half hour of Adventist blogs and ironic t-shirt designs, and the old incongruity reared its head again.

Most Adventists, by virtue of doctrine, tradition, and the inertia of culture, are vegetarian, or make friendly gestures in such a direction. Most that don’t are bred Laodiceans (like me – and I’m not proud of it, believe me) or cultural outsiders (converts from a carnivorous culture, like first-gen Indonesian-Americans) or behavioral backsliders (like my mom.) Even still, old conditioning remains. I’m iffy about pork and shellfish in most of their incarnations, and only my most ironclad ‘rebel’ friends will join me in a steak dinner.

Vegetarianism is always the first “peculiarity” I explain when people ask me about my background. “So, why don’t you guys eat meat?” I’ve got the answer so trimmed down that I spit it out in 45 seconds last week. Journalese for the win. I’ve noticed I have to explain it less and less as I get older. More and more worldly folks are going veg, and for interesting reasons – ethical, political, medical, economic. UCLA has salads coming out of every orifice, and has banned beef in dining halls on Thursday. Meanwhile, more of my Adventist friends and acquaintances flesh-grub on the down-low. (To quote Adventist vintage tee makers 1844, “Meat is for Heathens.”  This caricature is gloriously epic – as the homie Wrong would say, “it’s funny because it’s truuuuue!!!!!!!!!”

All irreverence aside, it’s a good point. Adventists sneak down the street to have a burger, bust labor unions, and hike on Saturday. Non-Adventists make it rain at Whole Foods, wring their hands over Darfur and Burma, and take shots on Thursday. Even those boxes don’t fit everyone in each camp – but that’s far too long of a story to tell.

It’s kind of comforting to know that both sides of my character have institutional and individual internal inconsistencies – it makes making them coexist inside my head and heart so much easier. While I still try (and fail) to live as an exile in this world, I also try (and fail) to remember that the responsibility that comes with my native citizenship is to treat everyone I come across as a neighbor, a fellow citizen, my biological kin in the human family and spiritual kin as the image of God.

As I drag my insomniac bones to bed (in time for 7 hours before work, insh’allah) I don’t claim to have  resolution. The dissonance, the tension remain. My friend A – a religion scholar, jeanhead, and closeted idealist – defined beauty as “incongruity. Why is a girl on the street beautiful? She looks like she shouldn’t be there.”

I suppose I live a pretty sexy life life, then. No human life is completely consistent, but this tension is intense, pervasive, and as far as I can tell, permanent.

Happy Monday, everyone.

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