Field

alexanderjoelx

Currents

winter 2015

Field

Trippy

WAVES

FOOTBALL:

Still Undefeated

gaming

the

OLD-FASHIONED

way

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contents

Gaming the

old-fashioned

way · 6

Malibu’s best

acai bowls &

breakfast

burritos · 13

it’s ok not to

be ok · 10

Meet miriam · 19

top active

lifestyles · 23


Field trippy · 27

Pepperdine

football: still

undefeated · 37

from farm to

fork · 43

our place · 49

frustrated with

focus · 55

Literary

corner · 58


LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

MARIELLA RUDI

Territorially, Malibu is where the spectrum of the California

Dream ends. But what happens when you put a college in one

of the most enviable real estate markets in the country?

As cultural-ambassador Kendall Jenner tweeted back in January

2012, “Malibu is the happiest place on earth lol.”

According to Jenner, we have already peaked in terms of

reaching the last frontier. This notion becomes truer the moment

your eyes set on the cliffs dropping into the Pacific’s horizon

from your perch on campus. As life-long Waves, the ocean

forever will serve as metaphor for the future. It is impossible for

us to ignore the tacit impact the ocean and the Pacific Coast

Highway has had on our education and personal growth.

In my application to Pepperdine, I wrote about Joan Didion’s

“Slouching Toward Bethlehem,” as the archetypal Californian

collection of essays, and its impact on my Angeleno adolescence.

She remade the California that I’d always seen but never

understood. She painted devastating and stylish portraits of

Malibu, Los Angeles, and California, and in turn, commented on

the modern-American condition.

Didion, who lived with her writer-husband and daughter in

Malibu in the ‘70s, reported on the people in Malibu and her

experience with the fabled coastal town.

While acknowledging some committable cardinal sin of letters

from the editor, I will now quote my college application: “It’s special

because California was a myth before it was a state. Millions

of dreamers fled to my home: at first for land, later for gold,

and eventually for fame. Every day I wake up I’m living someone

else’s dream.”

Pepperdine only amplified this notion of living the dream.

Hashtags and Instagram posts alone can attest to this fantasy.

In a journalistic compulsion to come full circle in my narratives,

I want to bring my journey back to Didion. Like my literary idol,

I used my homegrown skepticism as a way to not get sucked

into the illusion.

teeming suspicion that we will always be outsiders looking in.

With our diploma comes a fluency in PCH’s roadside vernacular.

Malibu, a 27-mile stretch of coast synonymous with fame,

luxury, and affluence, belongs to the daily puns of the Reel Inn

Fish Restaurant and Market, the Crazy California-style Mr.

La Salsa, and the multi-million dollar homes we will never see

behind great walls of shrub. A drive down PCH often felt like

escape from a home that was never really ours.

In preparation for this issue of Currents Magazine, I read every

article of every issue I could find in the Morgue (the Pepperdine

Graphic Media archives). From chronicling the day-to-day

operations of a fledgling campus radio station and its ragtag

group of operators to the sorority-indoctrinated Ring-by-Spring

phenomenon to countless debates dedicated to “Pepperdine

walking the line between academics and religion,” Currents has

served as fodder to the student body’s creative ambition and

curiosity. My research led to the conclusion that this magazine

has one job: to capture the zeitgeist.

For this issue, we hoped to do our job with an emphasis on the

personal narrative. While still reporting on the local flavors and

idiosyncrasies, we uncovered internal testimonies and stymied

dialogues. We wanted to put a spin on the problems and conditions

of the college student today.

We let the outsiders do the writing. We captured images that

express the paradoxes of fashion, art, and nature in Malibu. We

had fun with every process, and we hope that shines through

the pages.

Unlike Kendall Jenner or Joan Didion, I haven’t figured out what

Malibu means to me. I only have a host of memories and associations

that hopefully this magazine helps to preserve.

Mariella Rudi

As Malibu transplants, Pepperdine students cannot escape the


Staff

Mariella Rudi

alexander hayes

JB Maza

Jill Amos

Lauren Davila

Shawn Jones

Editor-in-Chief

Creative Director

Assistant Editor

Photo Editor

Currents Assistant/Social Media Correspondent

Currents Assistant

Advisors: Elizabeth Smith, Courtenay Stallings


GamInG

the

Old-

Fashioned

Way

BY CHRISTOPHER CHEN

ART BY GARRISON WRIGHT

There are at least four decades worth of people who

were practically raised on video games, since video

games were popularized in the 1970s. For me, I remember

a time when video games were just something

that I talked about with friends on the playground.

Video games in general were considered

more of a childish past time than a serious medium.

My parents did at one point or another ask me when

my interest in video games would stop. I didn’t know

back then to be honest, but I also had a feeling that

my interest in video games would wane with time.

As a child, I always viewed adulthood as being a sudden

transition. I figured I would find video games and

cartoons boring from the moment I became an adult.

CURRENTS · 6


I was naive; my love for video games

never left, even as I got older. And

why should it?

I would wonder when my collection

of games would vanish. But with

each new game on the shelf or review,

I always found something new

to hold over my obsession. Regardless

of the end quality, I remember

every time I put in a fresh disc and

the first hour that followed, which I

completely embraced.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I can

ever replicate that feeling ever

again. Like an addict, I will forever

search for that first high. I suddenly

feel old, like I can no longer

grasp the changes that are occurring

around me.

I stopped using an Xbox One, or

Playstation 4, or Wii U, which is a

sign that I have not aged beyond the

previous console generation.

It could just be that I don’t have the

time to commit to amassing a collection

for a new console. However,

there is another reason why I decided

to stop using Wii and Playstation

3 — I didn’t want to depend on

Internet connection just to be able

to play games.

Part of the reason is because my

consoles are in a place that gets

very slow Internet reception (in my

dorm on campus). But there might

be a more psychological reason to

my problem.

At this time, I am a minority. I still

cling to my physical copies while

others are more than willing to purchase

codes to get downloadable

content beamed directly into their

systems. In an age where people

amass huge backlogs of games from

shopping sprees on the Playstation

store, it’s easy to spend more time

buying add-ons for your game than

the actual game-playing. I haven’t

bought a single game in two years,

let alone from a network store.

I have much less free time than I

have in the past.

The truth is, I generally

dislike having

to depend on something

other than a physical store.

We are living in an age in

which physical stores are fading

away, and the Internet is

taking over as the place where

everyone shops for everything.

The closing and decreasing revenue

in brick and mortar stores, like

Borders and Best Buy, are evidence

enough of the growing dominance

of the online shopping industry.

Furthermore, progressively more

games are locking players out of

full-access to game content, requiring

additional payment just to

get the whole experience. I became

a gamer at a time when the entire

game was available to me immediately.

Expansions were reserved

only for computer games at the

time, which I felt I didn’t need to

play.

These days it feels like consoles are

closer to being glorified PCs to the

extent that I can barely make a distinction.

For these new systems, an

Internet connection matters more

than ever to get the full experience

out of any game.

While everyone else around me has

adapted to these changes with little

issue, I feel that I can never fully

adapt to this new era of technology.

I just feel uncomfortable with the

thought of physical discs eventually

fading out of existence.

And that is one of the reasons why I

no longer make any real purchases.

I know that I will no longer be able

to get the full experience. Rather, I

will be constantly bombarded with

patches and updates for games that

were shipped out before they were

remotely polished. Most of all, I

don’t want a console that prioritizes

linking me to the Internet over

doing its job and simply letting me

play games.

7 · CURRENTS


Call me sentimental, but similar to print

books, I find more accomplishment in

seeing my game physically handed to me

rather than downloaded on my console.

There is that sense of commitment to

buying a game physically, as if I am now

obligated to play it immediately.

I can’t replicate the same joy that I had

when I was a child.

My attempts at sticking to physical releases

are ultimately futile. Digital distribution

is almost everyone else’s go-to

method for purchasing video games. In

the end, someone like me will never be

able to experience the same kind of joy

again.

It just frightens me to think that the way

of life I had grown so accustomed to will

eventually fade away. And I feel like I’m

the only one with these emotions.

CURRENTS · 8


It’s ok

ok.

BY NATE BARTON

PHOTOS BY ALEXANDER HAYES

We are consumers of stability caught in a rabid

evasion of dissonance. We blast party pop

on full volume — hands lifted into the air we

think we own and the darkness we refuse to fear.

We smile and chirp about the shiniest celebrity

amid the sunlit orb of our perfect lives, unable to

recognize this vital and necessary reality:

It is OK to not be OK.

Based solely on Instagram posts and the talk of

beaches and Lamborghinis, it would seem that

Pepperdine has the uncanny ability to manufacture

unending moral happiness. Perhaps it is

cultural. Perhaps it is affected by the PR campaign

designed to show prospective students

that Pepperdine is a beachside Eden (where

Adam has a $100 haircut) or to convince freshmen

they should go abroad their sophomore

year (“It ... will change ... your LIFE,” they say

with no advertising schema whatsoever). But

the fact is that 64 percent of Pepperdine students

report being lonely, according to a 2011

survey by the National College Health Assessment.

That is seven percent above the national

average. Perhaps there is more to the ocean than

waves.

It is high time we recognize that the sunniest

fields have shadows too. When will we allow

ourselves to experience the breadth of human

CURRENTS · 10


The notion

that students

at Pepperdine

should always

be happy is a

fallacy. It sets

up expectations

that dismiss

real problems.

It standardizes

disappointment

and sterilizes

reality.

11 · CURRENTS


emotion without this complex brew of anxiety

and guilt? When will we realize that

this life is not a commercial and that it is

OK to be unhappy at Pepperdine? Why the

denial?

That is not to say we should be pathetic, ungrateful

or scared while receiving a prestigious

education in the hills of Malibu. Pepperdine

truly is one of the most remarkable

places on Earth. The purpose of this article

is to validate the immense gravity of fear

that pulls on the ribcage and fills, with bees,

the thoughts of those faculty whose brain

chemistry or relationships have betrayed

them, those freshmen whose radiant sunbeams

of excitement at the acceptance letter

have fallen into the prism of alcohol abuse

and depression, those law students whose

tired compass whizzes in every direction,

those transfer students whose mother just

died, those staff members whose marriages

curdle like old milk — those whose darkness

is darker than the Malibu sun is bright.

Do not settle. Do not arrive.

The life-posture that accepts absolute, hurried

stability at the probable death of empathy

and depth is part of the knotty culture

of shame we perpetuate. Some call it the

“Pepperdine face,” in which real problems

are shouldered in silence behind $600 sunglasses.

In this way, the “Pepperdine face” is

a performance for the sake of appearances,

not a reflection of reality.

How are we supposed to react to the idea

that we should always be perfect, happy and

indefatigable? How are we supposed to deal

with real problems when they are pushed

away like something shameful or dirty — a

blip on our newsfeeds?

Pepperdine cannot save you. The blueness

of the ocean and the whiteness of the sand

are not Amazon-packaged deliveries of

contentment and joy. Yes, we live in Malibu,

California. Yes, it is where they filmed Zoey

one-oh-freaking-one. But we are still people

and our faults and fears are just as real.

Tell this to people back home in Ohio,

China or Texas and you risk being labeled a

thankless pessimist. They — whose crooked

idea of joy relies on the sandbox in your

backyard — may never understand that

“paradise” has its graveyards and pretenses.

A look at assumptions

Gazing from the expansive vista of Hero’s

Garden, the universe seems whole. Perhaps

it’s the marbled romanticism of grace that

sees rock faces and distant waves as the

harmonious tinkerings of God. Look to the

ground and tell the cannibalistic, half-eaten

microcreatures that the world has order.

Look to the sky and tell the stars — caught

in the reverie of a supermassive black hole,

draught in the cyclic tension of spacebits,

aflame, — that nature has order, that the irreverent

prejudice of God allows the death

of star systems without eulogy.

Happiness, constancy and peace are not

built-in features. Only romantics assume

fulfillment. To crave wholeness while recognizing

fault is to transcend. Finding this

tenuous intercourse of hydrogen and time

— such terrible chaos ballasts a terrible

peace. Catastrophe is in here: the gravity

and melody of assumption and blind faith.

The notion that students at Pepperdine

should always be happy is a fallacy. It sets

up expectations that dismiss real problems.

It standardizes disappointment and sterilizes

reality.

But perhaps like Kafka, Cornel West and

Hannah Montana, we should understand

that every good narrative is dynamic in part

because it begins with catastrophe. “Life’s

what you make it.” It is what happens in the

ashy gray of the bombsite that defines character.

True joy requires an understanding of

the hollow depths of pain and the brilliant

intoxication of redemption. Constant happiness

is torment.

Art, said Rumi, is flirtation with surrender.

Dying, therefore, plunges into the art

of surrender — the one true mold. All art

loves death and therefore transcends it. Art

is when your lungs heave like an iPad in

the dryer and, like a dying star, cave in on

themselves — pulling you into the petroleum

reverie of love. A tiny white strand of

ego lost in a deep blue gaze.

This is the radical appeal to our shared humanity.

This is the tired belief in authenticity

and truth: it is OK to not be OK. It is not

your responsibility to be happy — it is your

joy to be human. Now is that so cynical?

CURRENTS · 12


acai bowls & breakfast burritos

PHOTOS BY ALEXANDER HAYES

13 · CURRENTS


CURRENTS · 14


MALIBU’S BEST

AÇAÍ BOWLS

SUN LIFE

A blend of banana,

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blueberry, apple juice,

almond milk topped

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seeds, strawberries,

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VITAMIN

BARN

Acai, strawberry,

blueberry, raspberry,

banana, ice, apple juice,

coconut oil, topped with

granola, fresh banana,

blueberry then drizzled

with honey

COOGIES

Housemade granola,

mixed berries, guarana,

bananas, and shredded

coconut

JOHN’S

GARDEN

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acai, blueberries,

strawberries, bananas

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sliced almonds, granola

and honey

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WINNER, WINNER

ALMOND DINNER

SUN LIFE

Malibu’s treasured Sun Life Organics took the cake in

this competition because of the unique acai blend and

the use of almond milk brought the bowl together.

15 · CURRENTS


MALIBU’S BEST

BREAFAST

BURRITOS

LAW

SCHOOL

CAFE

Eggs, ham, potato,

cheese, peppers & onions

MALIBU

COUNTRY

KITCHEN

Bacon, cheese, potato &

Egg

JACK-IN-

THE-BOX

Bacon, sausage, and

ham, plus scrambled

eggs and lots of shredded

pepper jack and cheddar

cheeses

LILY’S

CAFE

Beans, cheese, bacon,

and eggs & the famous

Lily’s sauce

#1

WINNER, WINNER

BACON DINNER

MALIBU COUNTRY

KITCHEN

You’ll miss it if you blink while driving down PCH, but Malibu

Country Kitchen stomps the competition. It’s something about

how all the ingredients melt in your mouth.

CURRENTS · 16


17 · CURRENTS


CURRENTS · 18


Meet

Miriam

BY JOAN DALY

PHOTOS BY MARISA PADILLA

It was about five minutes past midnight

in the HAWC when Miriam

rushed over to me. This was her

lunch break. I tried my best to wipe

the sleep from my eyes and appear

just as perky and lively as the Sodexo

employee was. I was about to interview

the most enthusiastic, popular

and beloved employee at Pepperdine

and didn’t want to miss a beat.

Miriam is stationed at the HAWC

cafe, the late-night agora that serves

as a campus watering hole, and as she

sat down, she apologized for running

a few minutes late — she had been

catching up with a student. Miriam

loves the students, and they love her.

She generously offered to share her

dinner as we settled down, which I

obliged, as it was a midnight snack

for me. And we quickly eased into

conversation.

19 · CURRENTS


Currents: Miriam, you’ve been at Pepperdine for a few

years now. Have you always worked this late-night

shift in the HAWC?

Miriam: Yes, I have. I’ve been here for three years. I

usually work 6:30 p.m. to 3:30 a.m.

C: How do you feel about working this night shift?

M: I love it. It works out great for my schedule and me

with my three kids Anthony, Carmen and Arturo.

C: That’s amazing. In the years that you’ve worked

here, do you have a standout, favorite memory from

the HAWC?

M: I don’t think I can pick just one. I would have to

say that as a whole, its been incredible to watch the

students here grow up. They come in as freshmen and

learn a lot about themselves, and I see them year from

year growing more mature. It’s so nice to see the same

students every day, how they’ll come into the HAWC

all stressed out from their day, and then leave relaxed

after some food, some company, and some talking.

C: And I’m positive that the students look forward

to seeing you each night, too. Do you have a favorite

thing about the HAWC and working here?

M: Definitely customer service. I love being able to

help the students out and be accommodating to them.

Sometimes just being friendly and helpful can make

their day.

C: You probably see a lot of crazy things that students

do go on in the HAWC. Do you have one memory

that sticks out to you?

M: Mmm, yes. One time, a girl dropped a glass bottle,

and it went everywhere. I didn’t want her to feel bad

about herself, so I helped her clean everything up, and

CURRENTS · 20


I wasn’t angry. I think she was surprised. I sprayed some perfume to freshen

the HAWC up and told her not to worry.

As we chatted, a young man slid into the seat next to Miriam and hugged

her, and I could tell that he was one of the students she was referring to

when she said she loved watching us grow up. It was clear they had known

each other for a while. He introduced himself as Jared Jackson, and I decided

to involve him in our conversation as well.

C: Jared, I can tell that you and Miriam are pretty close. How did this happen?

Jared: I don’t know, I guess I would just stop by the HAWC a lot, especially

during my freshman year. Just like, in the middle of the day to chat and to

relieve stress. She’s comforting.

C: Miriam, students here truly value your presence at Pepperdine; Jared is

just one testament to that. How does that make you feel?

M: Well, when kids come to college, they’re away from home. They’re homesick.

I just act like a mom to these kids, when they come in late at night, tired

and stressed. I talk to them and listen to what they have to say. I wouldn’t

have a job if it weren’t for the students; I am thankful for them.

C: How do you think Pepperdine would be without the HAWC?

M: The kids would have no place to really hang out. There would be no place

to get food at night and just be with your friends. Huge crowds of kids come

during Greek Life rush weeks and Songfest season since they all have late

nights. They would have nowhere to go and relax after a long day. We need

the HAWC for their sake.

C: Do you think that your time at Pepperdine has taught you anything?

M: Definitely patience. Patience and tolerance. Everyone is coming from a

different place with a different story; all of the students are away from home.

I’ve also learned to not take any rude comments personally. I just ignore

those things; again, you don’t know what that student is going through.

C: Miriam, you are considered one of the most beloved members of the

Pepperdine community. Everyone either knows you or wants to know you.

Would you like to comment on that?

M: Well, I just do my job, and that job involves being around people and

being considerate of their wants and needs. I always say to treat people the

way that you want to be treated. I use that philosophy here in the HAWC.

C: And now, one last question for you Miriam; what is your favorite food at

the HAWC? And what is the student favorite?

M: Ahhh, well, I love the chicken ciabatta sandwich. It’s my favorite. But I

think that students love the chicken tenders. We always run out of those on

busy nights.

21 · CURRENTS


Miriam had finished her dinner, and it

was just about time for her to head back

to work. She was beaming by the end of

the interview. She told me to stop back in

soon to chat. It might’ve been past midnight,

but I could now see why students

were crazy about the HAWC at hours

like this: they had Miriam to brighten up

their days (or rather, nights). Miriam was

worth being a night owl for.

CURRENTS · 22


TOP

ACTIVE

LIFESTYLES

THE MALIBU WAY

PHOTOS BY SAFEENA PADDER, SHAWN JONES & ALEXANDER HAYES

23 · CURRENTS


CURRENTS · 24


ROCK

CLIMBING

SANTA

MONICA

RINGS

25 · CURRENTS


PADDLE

BOARDING

TRAIL

RUNNING

CURRENTS

· 26


27 · CURRENTS


A PHOTO STORY BY

jill amos

MODELS

SAFEENA PADDER

TALEA LISCHETZKI

ALLISON HUBBARD

CURRENTS · 28


29 · CURRENTS


CURRENTS · 30


31 · CURRENTS


CURRENTS · 32


33 · CURRENTS


CURRENTS · 34


35 · CURRENTS


CURRENTS · 36


PEPPERDINE FOOTBALL:

STILL

UNDEFEATED

BY ALYSHA TSUJI

PHOTOS COURTESY OF PEPPERDINE LIBRARIES

37 · CURRENTS


No One Believed in Them

Among the already established powerhouse football

schools (USC, Loyola University, UCLA,

Whittier), Pepperdine was nothing but a blip on

the radar.

The team started in March of 1946 with about

15 guys, according to George Pepperdine College

(GPC) alumnus Harry Nelson (’50). By August,

the roster nearly tripled in size. Nelson said the

increase in numbers was mostly because guys began

walking over from nearby Washington High

School — not because of any newfound popularity.

When a friend first told him about Pepperdine,

Nelson said, “Is that a disease or a sandwich?”

As a 34-acre campus nestled a few miles south of

Downtown, right around the heart of Los Angeles,

George Pepperdine College didn’t have a

stadium. With an enrollment of just over 1,000

students, it didn’t have a huge fan base, either.

Within that inaugural season, no one expected

much. However, the team expected much out of

themselves. The 1947 squad steamrolled the competition

— even knocking out coveted Loyola

University’s football team in the third game —

and ran all the way to the Will Roger’s Bowl in

Oklahoma City on Jan. 1, 1947.

Following the shocking Loyola upset, one sportswriter

wrote in his column, “Why We Downed

Loyola’s Lions,” which was in “Pepperdine: The

Football Years,” by Jay Roelen and Jerry Roelen:

“Even the GPC coaching staff didn’t expect such

CURRENTS · 38


a convincing outcome. The only one’s that

were not too surprised were the team members

themselves.”

Pepperdine stands as the only college with

a football program that advanced to a bowl

game in its first year in existence.

From then on, the team carried itself with

pride. “We used football to prove that

Christians weren’t sissies,” said John Skelly

(’56) who played on the team from 1954-

55.

But Pepperdine’s athletics budget wasn’t

limitless, and football fell to that reality.

According to Dave Grenley’s four-volume

publication, “The History of Pepperdine

Football,” in 1961, “the Pepperdine College

Board of Trustees conducted a detailed

study on the feasibility of the football

program moving forward. They found the

heavy cost of continuing to field a competitive

team was too great … The decision was

not a reflection of the football team’s performance

or popularity.”

Although, the current lack of a football

team doesn’t diminish the uplifting stories

of former players.

39 · CURRENTS

“Thank You, Sir”

From birth, 92-year-old Nelson said he

has felt God’s hand guiding his life. He

was born with pyelitis kidney disease, and

the prognosis didn’t look good. His mother

told him, “Doctors kept me alive by feeding

me a teaspoon of what she called ‘whiskey’

two times a day for two weeks.”

“I think the good Lord up there looked

down on me and said, ‘Oh, no, no, no, it’s

not his time yet. We’re going to have to

make things up for him,’” Nelson said.

He told the story of how he ended up in

the Coast Guard by chance. At the service

recruitment office, he happened to walk

down certain hallways and turn into an office

that saved him from spending service

time in more dangerous positions.

Then, while serving his three years in the

Coast Guard, he recalled several instances

in which they shot down Japanese kamikaze

planes in close proximity, or in which

he witnessed German underwater missiles

narrowly miss hitting their ship.

Each time he recalls one of those moments

in his life, he glances upwards, points to the

sky and softly says, “Thank you, sir.”

In 1946, as a war veteran, Nelson wanted

to gain the experience of playing for a

collegiate football team. He said he first

approached the football coach at Whittier.

The second he revealed he had no prior

football experience, the coach said, “We

can’t use you.” Undeterred, Nelson went to

USC, but he said the campus overwhelmed

him and caused him to feel out of place.

In his final attempt, Nelson entered the

Pepperdine administration building early

one morning. Upon arrival, Nelson could

tell the dean wasn’t impressed with his academic

background. However, for whatever

reason, the dean decided to let Nelson

prove himself.

“About a week before starting [the quarter],

he told me to enroll in a full load of classes,

and if you can prove you can do the work,

we’ll allow you to continue,” Nelson said.

“I never studied so hard in my life, but I

made it.”

That happened to be a commonality among

GPC football players: The jocks extended

their passion for sports to an appreciation

for education.


Dale Miller (‘50) said when he first got to

Pepperdine his academic mindset was to do

just enough to stay eligible for football. He

ended up transferring to a community college

because of an injury, but he said that

attending Pepperdine taught him “to reach

down inside myself and see something that

was of interest to me.”

Miller went on to find a career in higher

education. Positions on his resume include

taking part in the creation of Golden West

College as the Dean of Students in 1965,

and serving as the President of Shasta College

for eight years.

Skelly said he “had no business going

to Pepperdine. [They] gave me a break.

Throughout my life, I passed it on. I passed

it forward.”

On the football team, Skelly said he became

the unofficial team chaplain, leading

prayers and discussing God with his teammates.

On campus, Skelly served as the

Vice President of SGA his senior year.

After graduating, Skelly went on to earn his

doctorate in the Science of Theology. Over

the years, he has been a Presbyterian minis-

CURRENTS · 40


ter, the Vice President for Public Relations

and Development for Pikeville College

and the President of the nonprofit Pacific

Homes Foundation.

“Without Pepperdine, I would not be me,”

Skelly said.

From One Battlefield to Another

While today’s college football teams are

packed with kids who have grown up striving

to secure scholarships and maybe push

to the NFL, the mid-20th century football

teams painted an entirely different story.

In 1947, two years out of World War II, the

GPC football roster was stacked with war

veterans, some as old as 27. Alongside the

basic information of height, weight, position

and year, the roster sheets included a

column for “war service.”

Nelson emotionally recalled how special

GPC’s football team’s situation was — they

were a brand new team made up of men

freshly out of the service. “It’s just an honor

that we have,” he said. “Everything turned

out nice. It’s a reflection on the school.”

Pepperdine’s football teams were consistently

a ragtag bunch of players. Skelly,

the team leader and chaplain who had

spent two years in the service but was still

a younger one at 19 years old, remembered

praying for his teammates and building relationships

with them: “It was a precious

group. These guys were married and worked

at night at the bakery … there were longshoremen

with families … a lot of these

guys were veterans.”

The Legacy Lives On

Although the program itself has died, the

former players continue to carry on its legacy.

As one of the 38 from the 1947 National

Championship team, Nelson joined

together with several other football alumni

to pool funds for a Football Players Scholarship

Fund.

“We wanted to let later students know that

we had a football team and it did achieve a

few things,” Nelson said.

In addition to winning, as Skelly said,

“Football was more than football. Football

was my anchor.”

Jay Roelen (‘58) who played QB from

1954-57 said he learned many life lessons

from being on the team about chaos, control,

discipline, teamwork and “all those

valuable traits you get from participating in

athletics.”

Roelen went on to teach Physical Education

for 45 years. He and his wife also put

together four volumes of books filled with

roster sheets, photos, game programs and

newspaper clippings, titled, “Pepperdine:

The Football Years.”

The books can be found at and checked out

of Payson Library.

In the same capacity that the former players

hope students remember and learn about

the golden years of GPC football, they hold

onto a hope that the football will make a

return — from South LA to Malibu.

Miller said his only regret is that Pepperdine

gave up football. Many former players

expressed sadness at its nonexistence.

“Let’s get it back,” Roelen said.

The 1947 small college championship banner

hangs in Firestone Fieldhouse. While

Title IX, budget constraints and other

issues may prevent another Pepperdine

football team from being snapped into existence,

the banner is permanent. And the

impact the players had on Pepperdine’s

campus and beyond is perpetual.

41 · CURRENTS


farm

fork

to

From

BY CHIRAG PATEL

PHOTOS BY CHIRAG PATEL MALIBU FARM

& SHAWN JONES JUNE LOUKS’ GARDEN

It’s a brisk morning as I walk upon the storied wooden planks

of the Malibu Pier, overlooking a striking emerald-blue

ocean full of choppy waves courtesy of the Santa Ana winds

from the previous night. I pass by giggling children and lazy

fishermen toward the twin structures that adorn the end of

the pier, in particular the quaint eatery on the right with the

extraordinary ocean view.

I’m here to meet purveyor Helene Henderson, and as I enter

the building full of boisterous patrons enjoying their breakfast

I find her tucked away to the side working on a laptop.

She greets me with a smile and we sit to chat about how her

restaurant, Malibu Farm, has come to occupy the prime real

estate that is the Malibu Pier.

Henderson was born in the north of Sweden,

where she grew up learning about farming

and foraging in the surrounding forests

near her family cottage. Her mother

was a waitress, and Henderson became

familiar with working in a

professional kitchen at an early age.

“I knew about cooking, but I didn’t think of cooking as a

professional path,” said Henderson, who after moving to the

United States “with a one-way ticket and only $500,” worked

in design before moving back into the kitchen purely by accident.

Filling in for an injured friend who was cooking for a

private party, Henderson made a strong impression with her

dishes and was invited to cook again.

“Other people from other places wanted me to cook and

then all of a sudden I had a catering company,” laughed

Henderson, who would go on to run her own company for

nearly 15 years, in addition to spending time as a personal

chef. Henderson admitted she didn’t have a clear vision for

what she was doing and was unable to explore her culinary

creativity when forced to tailor her dishes to clients who had

a stringent set of needs.

Henderson would eventually purchase a home in the Point

Dume area that needed a lot of work, a property that would

43 · CURRENTS


ecome her own private farm. She bought some

goats to clear the land, planted some vegetable beds,

added a vineyard and a chicken coup, restored a hidden

fruit orchard and brought in a pet pig named

Arnold.

As her private farm grew, friends would ask her to

host cooking classes where they would pick fresh

fruits and vegetables from the property to make a

unique farm-to-fork meal.

“My cooking class had a rule … it had to be fun for

me,” said Henderson, who developed the class into

a unique exploration of simple, organic meals. She

shunned developing recipes beforehand and instead

looked for in-the-moment inspiration in the garden

to create the meal for the day, blogging about it afterward

for those interested in recreating what they

learned.

“Everything just grew from that point on, and suddenly

it was 20 people taking the class, then 100

people taking the class, then people calling in saying

they’re coming in from New York asking how they

can take the class,” Henderson said.

The classes turned into hosted

dinner events around Malibu,

allowing guests to try a number of

dishes tied in to local organic foods —

dishes designed around fresh produce found at

a number of farms in the community. The growing

popularity of these events brought Henderson to

the attention of the master

concessionaire for the Malibu

Pier, who offered Henderson

the opportunity to host a

pop-up style dining experience

in the historic space.

“It required a lot of work,” said Henderson,

who had to redesign the entire location and reacquire

the necessary permits to get the old structure

at the end of the pier in working condition. “It was

me and two Pepperdine students and two line cooks

who we hired … people were laughing. The rent was

super low because even the landlord was laughing,”

Henderson admitted.

But it worked. Henderson brought in produce

picked fresh from her own farm to cook the meals.

As business grew, she partnered with local growers

to supply the demand, sticking to her belief in only

sourcing local, fresh and organic foods.

“My philosophy for any food is just to keep it as simple

as possible,” Henderson said. “I don’t like things

that are over thought … my basic thought is to just

get a really good piece of chicken … or a really good

tomato and do nothing to it.”

Henderson is a strong believer in producing quality

food, allowing natural flavors to take center stage.

No additives, no processing, no freezing — just real,

fresh food.

CURRENTS · 44


“The worse the product you get, the more you have to do to it.

The better the product you get, the less you have to do to it,”

Henderson said.

What was once envisioned as a temporary pop-up is shaping

into a permanent cafe on the pier, with Henderson working on

expanding the reach of the business with longer hours, an online

blog at www.malibu-farm.com and future events to showcase

her unique and healthy dishes.

I leave the pier and head north on PCH to a quiet ocean-side

neighborhood near Paradise Cove. I arrive at a beautifully designed

rustic home and am greeted by my host, who takes me

around back to explore the hidden garden on the other side.

She walks barefooted through an ocean of green, as she guides

me nimbly past vegetable beds, a green house, compost heaps, a

lively chicken coop and a bee colony surrounded by the sweet

aroma of natural honey. There are bananas and guavas and mangos,

an assortment of growing herbs and berries, citrus fruits and

vegetables. It’s a forager’s paradise full of color, mouth-watering

scents and the sounds of chirping birds.

We stop at a tree bearing an odd looking bud, a large and fuzzy

green pod that my host picks off and begins to tear open. The

inside of the pod houses a ghost white fruit that is soft, watery,

sweet and incredibly delicious. The Inga tree has been growing

for nearly three years now, and we have just taken the first ever

taste of its fruit, referred to as the “ice cream bean.”

The quarter-acre sized garden is full of similarly exotic foods

alongside more traditional American staples, and we continue to

pick and eat fresh produce as we explore. The garden is the work

of my host June Louks, a local supporter of organic living in

Malibu and the author of “A Malibu Mom’s Manifesto On Fresh

Whole Foods,” a cookbook and healthy lifestyle guide.

Louks suffered a health crisis a few years back and made a shift

in her life to eat healthier and live better, an example she shares

with her four daughters and other interested members of the

Malibu community.

“I had no interest in growing my own food. This was supposed

to be a paddle tennis court,” said Louks. “But then I had this

health crisis which was very humbling. I came face to face with

death, and when you have those moments you look at the larger

picture.”

Louks started to look into healthier eating, and began to learn

about the benefits of eating organically while simultaneously

learning about the struggles associated with procuring and producing

organic foods.

She learned about the importance of soil cultivation and com-

45 · CURRENTS


CURRENTS · 46


posting when she first started to build her garden, and of the damaging

effects of pesticides in the growth process. Even more surprising

was the mis-handling of the term “organic” itself, where Louks discovered

that products labeled as organic are often times misleading

and flat out false.

“Anytime food is grown for profit, it’s not going to have the value,

the love, the nourishment as something that we can grow in our own

backyard,” Louks said.

Over the course of six years, Louks has continued to grow and diversify

her backyard garden, creating a truly unique and wholly sustainable

environment from which she can grow quality foods to make

healthier meals.

“This is a total labor of love,” Louks said. “We play every day out

here. We craft and we are having a blast. But it’s definitely an investment

of time.”

Her book came about from her desire to impart her health habits

onto her kids, a struggle in and of itself. It’s a guide for other families

who are looking at developing better eating habits based on the

experiences of her own family.

“Getting the kids to eat [healthy food] in comparison to a Snickers

or an Oreo cookie … those hydrogenated fats that are so addictive

… I had to figure out how to sell it to my kids,” Louks said. “It was

out of that passion, that love for them that got me to figure out great

recipes from a ton of research on all these great, healthy, traditional

foods.”

In addition to her book, Louks has founded the Malibu Agricultural

Society, an organization of like-minded local farmers and organic

health advocates who meet once a month to discuss their experiences

and share their expertise on sustainable living.

“It’s been a venue for anyone who moves to Malibu and is interested

in growing their own food,” Louks said. Many of the members have

also been involved in advocating for local community and health ordinances,

including labeling GMO’s, marine protection, rodenticide

bans and moderating chain stores in the community.

It’s a wondrous undertaking that Louks seems to hold dear, and

one that she hopes will continue to grow as the local community

becomes more invested in healthier eating. Her garden is a unique

example of how a little ingenuity and hard work can make a huge

difference in the way we approach our eating habits.

“There is an incredible joy that comes from being in the garden and

working in connection with nature that money can’t buy,” Louks

said. “I think that is important for people to know.”

47 · CURRENTS

It’s past mid-day when I take my leave of the garden and my host.

It’s been an interesting adventure meeting these two unique individuals

who embody the farm-to-fork movement to the fullest. It’s a

modest endeavor with a massive payout, and a small taste of the full

plate that is Malibu’s food culture.


OUR place

A PHOTO STORY BY

JB Maza

BASED ON

E.E. CUMMINGS’

“LOVE IS A PLACE”

ART DIRECTION BY ALEXANDER HAYES

love is a place

& through this place of

love move

(with brightness of peace)

all places

49 · CURRENTS


CURRENTS · 50


51 · CURRENTS


yes is a world

& in this world of

yes live

(skilfully curled)

all worlds

CURRENTS · 52


53 · CURRENTS


Go to pepperdine-graphic.com and

apply for jobs under the contacts tabs


55 · CURRENTS

BY JB MAZA

ART BY GARRISON WRIGHT


Focus.

The one word in the English language

that causes smoke to come out of my ears.

Even typing the word causes me angst.

Due to my attention deficit disorder, or

ADD, I struggle with focusing, which affects

my everyday life. Everything takes

me two times, three times or even ten

times longer than the average person.

And by everything, I mean everything.

From household chores to completing

homework assignments. It takes me up to

six hours to clean my dorm room, which

is a mess due to forgetting to carve out

time to clean. Frustration is an emotion

I am all too familiar with. A simple fivepage

paper can take up to 12 drafts to ensure

clarity and flow. I constantly forget

things. I forget to do assignments, where

I parked my car, if I ate breakfast or what

someone just said to me five seconds before.

Frustration.

Growing up with ADD led me to be

an angry person who was lost in her

own thoughts. The tangled web of my

thoughts get stuck into a bind of confusion

because my brain tries to process

everything at the speed of light. There is

a sense of guilt and anxiety when dealing

with others who don’t have ADD. Conversation

and social interactions can be

extremely difficult. I can look you right

in the face, give you eye contact and even

nod like I’m listening and not get a single

word you just said. Conversations go in

one ear and out the other. I always feel

like I’m being rude asking people to repeat

themselves.

Some people are not very patient and

take serious offense to my lack of attention.

What they do not understand is the

guilt I feel asking them to accommodate

this thing my brain does without my

control. I live with that constant guilt for

my learning disability causes anxiety and

worry.

My pediatrician first introduced the idea

of ADD to my parents when I was in

middle school. My mom wanted to try

more natural approaches to my ADD. I

took fish oils and a variety of vitamins.

Lactose milk and all dairy were removed

from my diet. I still struggled to put away

a basket of clean clothes in fewer than

four hours. Homework that was supposed

to be only two hours would take

seven hours. My typical day growing

up was wake up at 7 a.m., go to school,

participate in sports, come home, then

start homework immediately. It was always

me against the clock. I could handle

shooting a free throw that would decide

the basketball game better than I could

the hours of homework I was forced to

endure. I hated sitting at the kitchen table

doing work. I was under my mother’s

careful eye to make sure I focused (there’s

that word again). To this day, I cannot do

homework at a desk. It just brings back

memories of frustrations and tears. Yes, I

cried over homework.

I didn’t learn to read until third grade

due to my ADD. My teachers didn’t have

the time or energy to sit down with me

and force me to focus on the words. I

struggled with my own native language

English. It is embarrassing sometimes to

try to formulate a cohesive sentence in a

language I’ve spoken since the age of 3.

I had various tutors. I remember specifically

my writing tutor who was actually a

speech therapist. He created this booklet

about how to write a paper and organize

your ideas. He introduced me to the software

Inspiration, which is basically like

spider-webbing essay planning on your

computer. But that’s not all. I completed

the whole Hooked on Phonics program.

My mom forced me to read a chapter

from any book and write in my journal

every night. She always made sure to say

that she would never read my journal, but

merely flip through the pages to see that

I had written. I hated this with a burning

passion. I thought books were torture devices

meant to teach children to sit still

for long periods of time. I despised the

written word and everything associated

with it. I just wanted to watch TV and

be left alone.

After years of this punishment, I looked

back at some of my old journals. I noticed

a change, the sophistication of my writing

style. I was completely shocked. The

concept of progression was new to me. I

was used to trying so hard and straining

every last brain cell to just make it by. It

changed my view of language. I saw that

I had power. I possessed an ability to

CURRENTS · 56


grow and ultimately be successful. I knew

it would be an uphill battle, but there was

now an actual possibility.

For those who may not quite understand,

here’s the metaphor I use to explain. Imagine

you are trying to run a mile in fewer

than seven minutes. Every day you try. Every

day you fail. Each day you go by, you try

harder. More effort is exerted. But everyday

you are 10 seconds slower. No matter what

you do or who encourages you, it seems like

an impossible task. Imagine experiencing

drive, hope, struggle and failure for years.

People tell you to just try harder. They yell,

“Focus! Just Focus!” Imagine there are other

people on the track who just whiz right

past you without skipping a beat. There is

no sweat on their brow nor are they out of

breath. All hope of success is lost. This was

my struggle until the clearest day of my life.

The Clearest Moment

Success was a concept introduced to me

when I was 16. My mom and I agreed to try

ADD medication to help me. My frustration

and anxiety was getting exponentially

worse. The thought of going to college

was completely crippling. If I struggled so

much on a daily basis, how could I move

away from home and be successful? How

could I be worth the investment my parents

would have to make?

57 · CURRENTS

The very first day I took my

medication was the clearest

moment of my life thus far.

I will never forget that day. I

remember every single detail

of that day, which is an accomplishment

in itself.

I remember getting up on that

morning looking at the pill

bottle of Concerta. I thought,

“Well, here it goes.” Then I went

to school and about my daily life. It

wasn’t until lunch, that I had already

finished a homework assignment during

my free period. An entire assignment was

completed in just 55 minutes. Never before

had I experienced this feeling, a feeling

of accomplishment. At the time, I just

thought it was a fluke until I got home that

day. I got home and changed as I always did.

But then I sat down and did my homework.

I actually did my homework. I finished a

three-page reflection paper, answered some

science questions after reading the whole

chapter and began to study for an English

test I had the following week. All of this

happened in two hours. Two hours. In 120

minutes, I accomplished more than ever in

my entire life. My eyes began to fill with

tears.

A huge weight had been lifted. I realized I

had time to work on my Girl Scout Gold

Award, which had fallen to the wayside due

to my lack of time. At this same moment,

my mom walked through the front door,

ready to tell me to focus on my homework.

She saw my project and scolded me for not

working on my homework.

“It’s done,” I told her.

“What do you mean done? I know you

have a test next week ...”

“I already started studying for it. It’s done.

I’m working on my Gold Award project.”

Her brow furrowed and jaw dropped. This

concept of sitting down and accomplishing

a task was completely new to her, too. I

then remember asking, “Is this what it’s like

to be like everyone else?”

Even after the clearest moment, I still

struggle with ADD. It is something that I

will struggle with for the rest of my life. I

will have to ask people to accommodate me

while learning to structure my life around

my learning disability. The difference from

then and now is I own my ADD. I share it

willing with others. It is not some hidden

secret that should degrade my intelligence.

It doesn’t define me. It is just a part of me

just like my brown hair.

For those who believe that ADD medication

is addictive due to its ability to change

a person’s state of mind, I say it can be. But

it’s not the drug that is addictive, it’s the

sense of achievement. Being able to accomplish

tasks in a reasonable amount of time

is a serious boost to self-confidence and

sense of worth. However, with all medications

there are side-effects.

Some of the side-effects of Concerta are

drowsiness, loss of appetite, dizziness,

nausea, fast heartbeat and chronic trouble

sleeping. I have experienced each of these.

The more severe side-effects are joint pain,

excessive sweating and even heart attack.

But in my experience, the side-effects of

life without medications are much worst.

Loss of motivation, depression and a decline

in self-confidence can become your

whole world. It becomes easy, without the

medication, to get lost in your own jumbled

train of thought. Trying not to forget assignments

or meet up with a friends cause

severe anxiety. Loosing a few hours of sleep

and keeping a pack of saltines on me is a

better trade off than the latter.

Today, I have a system for basically everything

I do. I have a teacher’s style planner

that is huge, but I wouldn’t be able to survive

without it. I learned that I just have to

do things differently than others, but that

doesn’t limit my abilities. It is what just

works for me. I color code my classes.

My notebooks, folders and even how I

write them in my planner are each a specific

color. I keep important things in the same

place. I always put my keys in my purse or

on my kitchen table. I set my coffeemaker

up the night before. I pack my bag for

school the night before so I don’t forget

anything. I set everything up so I can be

successful. I struggle with focusing. Now, I

know to push through that.

It is my limitation. Life has caused it to be a

focus in my life, but it doesn’t consume my

life or define The building blocks and tools

I have learned from my ADD have taught

me that I will be successful in anything I

strive for.


The Eagles Nest

BY STASIA DEMICK

Laced up boots ready to walk

Ascent upon compact dust

No physical struggle wrought

From curiosity intoxication

[she][he]

BY LAUREN DAVILA

Hills rise without slopes

Thighs burn in dull fervor

No reprieve until the top

A perch aware of solitude

plucked eyebrows

perfectly groomed.

gold glitter brightens

lapis lazuli irises

set above apple pink cheeks.

Rock surface sustained in full

Shrubbery guard thinnest path

Hands meant to feel stone firm

Rest upon rigid edges old stone

Reprieve in dark beyond home

Eagles nest away from strife

Gaze upon the city lights

To recall grandness forgotten

rollers out of curled hair for

frizz doesn’t have a home near

her sea-foam dress —

white —

teeth fire lip stain.

winged eyeliner

so on point it could cut.

twirling, giggling,

bubblegum

pops.

CURRENTS · 58


preconceived notions.

for her batman shirt under the bed

says what the words floating through her head

can’t as they strain to burst through society’s glass ceiling.

but for now, hanging on his every word.

she feels.

he longs to feel more than

eyebrows raised in derision.

he feels only heat.

the wandering in a desert,

can’t breathe it’s so hot

hellfire is better than this

kind of heat.

Heat glazed eyes behind opaque windows

he concentrates on

anything but her tittering,

counting the flames licking

his toes and fingers

until they melt off like

candle wax

dripping, dripping, dripping.

there is no cold no heat

no ice nor fire

no love nor desire

not her laugh nor her light

as he falls, sinks

melts further into the

unfeelingness.

59 · CURRENTS

18

BY CAROL ALBAN

There’s something ominous about 18.

Maybe it’s the way the loops curve,

Making a prison of infinity;

Maybe it’s the stark contrast

Between the strictness of soldier one

And the playfulness of juvenile eight;

Or maybe it’s that

I don’t know what I’m doing.

I’ve spent eighteen years

Watching, learning, growing,

But there’s no rulebook in the game of life,

There’s no manual to fix a broken-down soul.

And yet I keep on trying.

Because one day

Something’s got to stop the crying

And the dying and the lying

And the tear-filled goodbying.

There must be some connection I always skip

Or a switch I forget to flip.

If only I could patch all the holes and tighten each screw,

Then the world would have a brand new view

On hunger, on pain,

On illnesss, and selfish gain.

But my hands are too small

For all my best intentions

And I’m much too short to reach

To pull down the North star

To give to the lost souls

Searching for its light.

And I’ve yet to learn that some things

Just don’t want to be made whole,

That I can never fix

What doesn’t want to heal.

So while I may be an adult

In the eyes of the world,

In my eyes of a child,

I’m still a little girl.

I still don’t have the answers

To all the questions posed,

And I’ve yet to find the windows

That opened when some doors closed.

18 marks the end of innocence and second chances

But looking back,

That happened long ago,

So there must be some things I already know,

Like the warmth of sunlight

And the beauty of snow,

The power of laughter

To chase dark clouds away

And the strength it takes

To face another day,

Hugs and mugs (of tea, that is)

With books, curled in nooks create peacefulness

But still comes the call:

“World Peace! Fight Hunger!”

The greatest lesson I’ve yet to learn

Is that I don’t have to do it all.

So come 18 with paradoxes and parodies,

Perhaps another year will answer all of these.


Support Group

A man sat on his plastic chair waiting

for the group to arrive. He twiddled his

fingers, crossed his legs, uncrossed them.

The man often facilitated these kinds of

support groups but never had he been so

fortunate to work with such important

people before. That is why he twiddled

his fingers so vigorously and couldn’t sit

still for more than a few seconds.

The room was in the basement of an old,

forgotten bar and just as easily could have

been the location for one of those illegal

gambling operations you see so often in

the movies. For the support group’s particular

needs however, the man had the

room touched up a bit — to give it a

more comfortable feel of sorts. The lone

dangling light bulb in the middle of the

small square room, for instance, had been

removed entirely and replaced with a

simple tabletop lamp placed in the middle

of the desk they were to congregate

around. Where there were cracks in the

wall, the man covered them with abstractly

inspirational paintings and posters

of birds, flowers and the like. Instead

of the old, decaying wooden chairs that

had been there for years apparently, the

man brought in five plastic, red chairs. It

was all rather simple and slightly familiar

but of course, that was the goal — to

give these great men a space where they

could share their stories and frustrations

without thrusting them into a forced

spotlighted space.

The man took a good, long look at the

clock on the wall. The hands indicated

that it was four minutes to 9 p.m. His

anxiety was beginning to lift as he looked

around the quaint room and concluded

silently to himself that this would more

than suffice these men’s worldly needs.

Some coffee and donuts were carefully

laid out on the desk in the middle of

the red chairs. The man went to grab for

the lone jelly-filled donut when the door

to the room swung open and the first

member of this exclusive support group

walked in.

He was a darker man and the support

BY ELLIOT BASSILE

group leader immediately recognized

him. As he slowly unraveled his turban,

Muhammad opened his mouth to speak.

“Damn, there’s nothing like taking this

thing off at the end of a long day man.”

The support group facilitator jumped up

to welcome the prophet.

“Hello, my name is Ron. It is an absolute

pleasure and honor to meet you and work

with you tonight Muhammad. I can call

you Muhammad right?”

Muhammad gave a short, corner-of-themouth

smile as he shook Ron’s hand.

“Of course you can, surely you wouldn’t

be able to pronounce the whole thing

now, would you, Ronald?”

Ron nodded his head, half in agreement,

half in shame. This Muhammad guy really

is as intense as they say, he thought

to himself.

“Yes … yes you’re right about that. Well

take a seat please, Muhammad. Grab

a donut, a cup of coffee, make yourself

comfortable, and we’ll give the others

some more time to show up.”

At this, Muhammad picked up the final

jelly donut and devoured it as he stared

Ronald in the eyes, as if he knew of the

minor torment he was causing his host.

Mere seconds later, and to Ronald’s utter

relief, the next man walked through

the door. Again, there was no mistaking

him for anyone else, it was Shiva. He had

a snake draped around his neck and was

wearing a tank top one could find at Urban

Outfitters. Ronald, half expecting the

snake, was more taken aback by the tank

top.

Shiva wears wife beaters, Ronald thought

to himself incredulously. As if reading the

slight shock on Ron’s face but mistaking

its source for something else, Shiva addressed

Ron in a soft, apologetic tone.

“Good evening, I am Shiva, and this is my

snake Vasuki. I hope he does not frighten

you too much. Parvati, my wife, is out

with her friends tonight and couldn’t care

for him as she usually does, and we only

had enough money for the kids’ babysitter.

I could not find a snake sitter at an

affordable price.”

He paused as if waiting for a reaction

from Ron and Muhammad but they just

stared. Then Shiva broke down laughing

at his own joke, sputtering about how ridiculous

an idea a snake sitter was. Ron

joined in to make the mood slightly more

bearable, but Muhammad kept eating his

donut, eyeing Shiva up and down.

“What’s with the tank top, bro?” Muhammad

finally said, jelly stuck in the

corner of his lips and all.

“What do you mean?” Shiva answered

somewhat taken aback.

Before anything could escalate though,

Ron stepped in.

“Um, I believe that Muhammad was only

inquiring about its brand, Shiva.”

Muhammad shot Ron a dirty look but

did not press the matter. Instead, he

reached for a napkin and cleaned his face

of the jelly that had so generously been

spread across it.

“Damn, that’s a great f------ donut,” he

finally said.

Meanwhile, Shiva was beginning to address

the subject of his tank top but was

interrupted by Jesus’ arrival.

Ron, a fervent fan of his work, jumped

up when he caught sight of the illustrious

bearded man.

“Wow, what a pleasure! I wasn’t sure if

your schedule was going to allow you to

make it, Jesus, but welcome. And I must

say it is quite the honor meeting you.”

CURRENTS · 60


Jesus was wearing dark blue slacks and a plain

white dress shirt with a tie just barely hanging

off it. He almost looked like an intern returning

home from another difficult day at the office.

Ron struggled with his next words,

“You are much more…” he began but quickly

ended, realizing the somewhat boorish words

that were about to come out of his mouth.

“Brown?” Jesus finished his thought for him.

Ron’s face lit up red as shame engulfed his body.

“I’m so sorry, Jesus, that was inconsiderate of me,

I …” Ron began.

“Be calm my child, you did me no harm. I am

pretty brown. It can be a little shocking if you

grew up with the pictures of me with the fair

skin and blue eyes and all that. You are forgiven,”

he declared as he made the sign of the cross over

Ron’s face.

Jesus continued,

“I bumped into Siddhartha on my way in here.

He’s sitting below that big tree outside with his

eyes closed. Says he needs ‘to be in a compassionate

state of mind before sitting down with

everyone.’ I really love that guy.”

Almost on cue, the door opened one more time

to reveal the chubby, smiling man known as the

Buddha.

“Speaking of the devil,” Ron exclaimed. He was

finding it more and more difficult to conceal his

excitement.

The Buddha spoke,

“Oh, please don’t tell me the Devil is coming.

I’ve tried leveling with that guy a few times, but

he’s such a downer.”

“No, no, I only meant it in a manner of speech.

This is everyone for tonight’s session,” Ron clarified.

The men sat quietly for a few minutes. Through

the shuffling of feet and the mild uneasiness

however, these strong leaders slowly ramped

up the volume as they exchanged pleasantries,

while others caught up after years of not talking.

Eventually, after taking the time to watch and

gauge the situation, Ron spoke up,

“Hello everyone, once again, I am Ron, and I’m

so happy to see all of your brave faces here tonight.

I’m sure you are all well aware but I just

wanted to reassure you that this is a safe space.

I want you guys to feel comfortable in sharing

whatever needs sharing. Tonight, you no longer

support everyone else, you now get to support

yourselves!”

For some reason, Ron had expected an explosion

of applause and howls of unity but the men

just looked around at each other in mild dismay.

Hampered yet motivated, Ron continued,

“OK, that sounded a lot better in my head, but

you guys get it. It can get tiring carrying the

weight of the world on your shoulders, so tonight

we can chill out and discuss your own issues.”

A hand shot up.

“Yes Jesus, go ahead,” Ron said.

Jesus wet his lips before speaking.

“My biggest issue recently might seem simple or

a tad ‘meh’ to everyone, but I feel like I’ve reached

my limit with it. People really need to stop using

my name as a curse word or as a way to verbalize

their bewilderment. Whatever happened to

‘never use the Lord’s name in vain’? I mean, I

may not be the Lord, but I am his son after all.”

Before Ron or anyone else could answer with

some kind of advice or comfort, Jesus continued.

“Like … Ron what’s your last name?”

Ron opened his mouth.

“OK, so you are Ronald Howard,” Jesus continued

without waiting for an answer he already

had. Ron kept his mouth closed despite Jesus

getting his name slightly wrong. “Imagine if

every time someone got caught in traffic they

shouted ‘Ronald Howard!’ with so much venom

mind you. It’s unsettling to say the least.”

Muhammad spoke up.

“I second that!”

“What do you mean,” Shiva replied “I’ve never

heard anyone shout ‘Muhammad!’ while in traffic.”

Muhammad eyed Shiva up and down again,

pausing at the tank top that, so visibly to the rest

61 · CURRENTS


of the room, grated at his sensibilities.

“Yes … I know this Shiva but my issue is

similar. I’m tired of people taking property

over my name and image.”

“Yeah. Those ‘South Park’ guys were so

mean,” Buddha calmly commented. Sitting

next to Muhammad, Buddha reached his

arm out to pat him on the shoulder.

“Actually, I was talking about the people

who complained about that. It’s flattering

to even be on TV; I feel like a pop culture

icon for once and I gotta say, it feels nice.

I mean, look at Jesus and Buddha, ‘Family

Guy’ has you,” Muhammad pointed at

Jesus, “performing magic tricks and adventuring

with Peter Griffin while Buddha’s

brand has exploded in recent years. With

this New Age boom in the West, no offense

Buddha, but a fat, bald guy from India is

now practically a sex symbol for thousands

and thousands of beautiful, flexible yoga

practicing ladies.”

The Buddha gave a wry smile,

“No offense taken” he said.

“I don’t know. It’s just frustrating, man. To

be this famous Last Prophet and only get

mentioned when discussing fatwas and jihadists

is really depressing.”

“On that same token,” Shiva began “why

does Buddha get all this reverence for the

yoga craze? I mean I was doing yoga before

he was even born. And — and … while you

were growing up a prince and screwing all

the women in your kingdom, you know indulging

the senses, I was still doing yoga.

No offense by the way.”

“None taken whatsoever” Buddha said once

more with a cheeky smile on his face. Ron

noticed that he seemed to be enjoying this

meeting more than the others.

“Thank you three for sharing your complaints.

As you can all tell, you share similar

struggles but now you can stand up and say

‘No more!’ No more supporting the people

of the world only to be marginalized,

simplified or ignored. In this space, we love

ourselves, we support ourselves. You are

beautiful and fantastic religious leaders.”

“Here, heres” could be heard around the

room. Though it was only the first meeting,

Ron thought this was going splendidly. He

was actually helping these amazing men

who had helped so many others. He turned

his attention to Buddha.

“Buddha, do you have anything you’d like

to share or discuss?”

The Buddha began,

“Well, I would just like to thank Muhammad

and Shiva for the kind words.” For the

first time, Muhammad and Shiva seemed

to connect on a decent level as their eyes

met while they simply shook their heads

“and to you Jesus — bravo! I am a fan of

your work. We should collaborate sometime.

With your preachings on forgiveness

and my expertise in compassion, we could

be the next Bert and Ernie!”

“… interesting comparison, to say the least,

but I thank you all the same, o’ enlightened

one,” Jesus kindly replied.

Ron felt the need to interject once more,

“I am sure everyone here appreciates the

kind words, Buddha. Do you have any issues

though that you’d like to discuss?”

“Well, I hope this doesn’t offend, but what

the hell were you thinking with that tank

top, Shiva? It’s just incredibly difficult to

take you seriously with your chest hair

crawling out from beneath what little you

have on and staring me in the face.”

A “here, here” could be heard from Muhammad’s

side of the room.

Buddha continued,

“I mean we’ve all been known to don a good

robe now and again but this is supposed to

be a comfortable space for everyone. Not

just for you and your incredible chest hair.”

Shiva, somewhat taken aback, replied,

“To be honest everyone, I thought I was

making a solid fashion statement that just

went hand in hand with what we are trying

to achieve here, but I get it, point taken.

Vasuki tried to warn me before we left

tonight, but I just said, ‘You’re just a snake,

what do you know?’ I guess he knows more

than I thought.”

Vasuki, now sunning himself by the lamp

in the middle of the table, simply hissed in

delight.

Jesus consoled the Hindu god,

“Don’t fret my child, you are forgiven.”

For the final time of the night, Ron spoke

up.

“Thank you, Buddha, for bringing your

issue to the rest of us. While not exactly

what I was intending when I said ‘issue,’

it’s good to see that you all can air out your

differences in a kind, gentle manner. Now

to wrap up our first session, I’d like to go

around the table and have everyone give us

one word to take away from this meeting,

something that will hopefully help us stay

strong until next week’s gathering. Shiva,

we’ll start with you.”

Still a little shaken but sitting proudly he

said,

“Modesty”

Buddha said,

“Pride”

Jesus said,

“Unity”

And Muhammad said,

“Understanding.”

With that, the group split. Ron was happy

with the first session and felt a certain confidence.

He believed that, with continued

meetings, he could get them all to follow

his own Church.

L. Ron Hubbard chuckled to himself as

he climbed into his spaceship and thought

about Jesus mistaking him for a successful

filmmaker.

CURRENTS · 62


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