Friday, May 7, 2010

Say Anything

By Jacqueline Russo

Say Anything released their fourth full-length album on November 3, 2009. The album is self-titled and according to lead singer Max Bemis it “literally defines everything about the band we’ve built so far.”

During the Summer of 2009, the band released “Hate Everyone,” “Do Better” and “Property” as the first three singles from the new album. The songs off of this album are the catchiest and most mature songs recorded by the band so far. Say Anything debuted at number 25 on Billboard 200, the band’s highest charting record to date. Max Bemis called it “a step forward.”

Say Anything’s new album seems like a coming-to-age for Bemis and the band. The fact that the album is self-titled suggests that the band has finally found their true, perhaps permanent, identity.

Say Anything is an indie rock band with punk rock influences. It was formed in Los Angeles, California in 2000 by Bemis and four friends. Between 2000 and 2002 the band self-recorded and released two EPs, Junior Varsity and In Your Dreams and a full-length album, Baseball: An Album by Say Anything. In 2003, the band signed with Doghouse Records and in 2004 they released …Is a Real Boy, the album that the band considers their first official effort.

While the popularity of the band was increasing exponentially, Bemis’s mental health plummeted. In 2005 he was diagnosed with bipolar mood disorder and the band took a break when several members decided to call it quits. Bemis’s breakdown caused Say Anything to cancel their tour with Saves the Day, Senses Fail and The Early November.

Later that year, after Bemis’s successful rehabilitation, the band released …Was a Real Boy with J Records. Over the next two years, Say Anything toured with Saves the Day and Hellogoodbye. In late 2007, the band released their third full-length album, In Defense of the Genre.

Max Bemis was raised in a strongly Jewish household and still identifies himself as being Jewish. His maternal grandparents survived the Holocaust and this has provided Bemis with inspiration to write many tracks. In “Alive with the Glory of Love,” a song off of …Is a Real Boy, Bemis describes a relationship that is torn by the Holocaust. The lyrics in the song discuss the couple’s lives in the ghetto, while in hiding, and their experience in concentration camps.

Fans of Say Anything, as well as new listeners, can tell that this band is not like every other pop-punk band that sings songs about teenage relationships and heartbreak. Max Bemis and Say Anything share important experiences and messages with their listeners.

Jacqueline Russo is an undergraduate student at St. Thomas Aquinas College. She is an English major with aspirations to become a journalist or a writer. She is a member of the Dean’s List and belongs to Sigma Tau Delta, the National English Honor Society. Jacqueline will be interning with the Our Town newspaper in Pearl River, New York during the Summer of 2010.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Life of Leonard Schwartz

By Layla Connelly

Leonard Schwartz is my grandfather, and in my eyes the best grandfather a girl can have. He was born September 27, 1919 in The Bronx, New York. He has lived through many decades and has accomplished so much in his life. He has a remarkable sense of humor and positive attitude, he always finds a way to make me laugh. He has maintained several careers over his lifetime, and is a very hard-working man. He is also a major part of our country's history. My grandfather was in the United States Coast Guard during World War II and fought the Japanese; he often reminiscences about his time in the service, and about Pearl Harbor. He is my very own hero.

My grandfather not only served in one of the most significant and historical wars our country has ever had. His time in the service was spent as a gunner’s mate on the Hunter Ligget ship; he served for 5 years. While he was enlisted, the Navy took the Coast Guard over, making him part of the Navy as well. Leonard Schwarz also held many jobs, aside from being a Veteran. One can say he’s done it all. He was a truck driver for a long period of time; he woke up at 4 am every morning and traveled for hours to make a living to provide for his family. He was also a cab driver and bartender. I think, above all, his most successful role was being a grandfather, because he is great at it.

Lenny, as everyone refers to him, was one of four children. He had two brothers and one sister. He was born and raised in The Bronx near The Bronx Zoo, on Elder Avenue. He was sitting in front of the zoo on a sunny day in the 1930’s with a few of his friends when he saw a pretty girl ride by on a bike. When the girl rode by, he turned to his friend and said, “That’s the girl I’m going to marry.” That pretty girl was my grandmother, Lillian. Now, that’s what I call love at first sight. My grandparents' love story is what I would call a true love story. Love at first sight and true love seems so far-fetched to me, especially in our day and age, and seems as if it’s a thing of the past, but it makes me believe it really is possible.

Soon after being honorably discharged from the Navy, Lenny married Lilly. My grandparents were married for 45 years, and would still be married today if she was still alive. My grandmother lost her battle with cancer a year before I was born and my grandfather supported her and took care of her the best he could. My grandfather speaks of her daily and always says I remind him so much of her. I never had the pleasure of meeting her, but from what I’ve heard she was elegant and classy, so if I am indeed anything like her I would be flattered.

They went on to have three children, my aunt, uncle, and mom. He was a great father to all three; even though they have all passed on, my grandpa keeps their memories alive today. It is hard to truly comprehend how strong a man he is. It is always hard to lose a loved one, especially a child, but to lose three may be unbearable for some. This is when he became my rock. My grandfather was always and still is a huge part of my life, but throughout the hard times I’ve endured over the past years, he’s really been the biggest supporter I have had. He is my shoulder to lean on whenever I may need one.

My grandfather is quite the remarkable man. He can tell stories for days and is an inspiration to me and to several other people. His dedication is respectable and significant. His strength is motivational to me each and every day. He is a hero and I wouldn’t be who I am without him.

Layla Connelly is a Psychology major at St. Thomas Aquinas College. 

Monday, May 3, 2010

"Slumdog Millionaire" Review

By Katie Quinn

"Slumdog Millionaire," directed by British director Danny Boyle, was released on November 12, 2008. It was a great success and was nominated for best movie, winning eight Oscars and numerous other awards. This movie is considered to be a comic drama, but it offers a lot more.

Set and filmed in India, it is about an 18-year-old orphan named Jamal Malik, who came from the slums of Mumbai and won the game “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” Jamal tells the story of his life in the slums, where he and his brother, Salim, grew up, and how he knew each question that was asked in the game show. The host and the producers of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” thought Jamal was cheating, since he knew the answers and harassed him until he told them how he knew them. Each chapter of the movie explains each question as they were given to him and how he encountered information about every question that was asked.

While Jamal was a boy he came across a girl name Latika, who he loved but then lost. The reason he went on the game show was not to win a million dollars but to try and get Latika’s attention to see her again, because he knew that she would be watching the show.

Many critics really enjoyed "Slumdog Millionaire." The New York Post said “Slumdog Millionaire, which just may be the most entertaining movie I've ever labeled a masterpiece.” They believe that four stars are not enough for this movie. Robert Ebert also really liked the movie. He states “This is a breathless, exciting story, heartbreaking and exhilarating at the same time.” Ebert also states, “The film's surface is so dazzling that you hardly realize how traditional it is underneath. But it's the buried structure that pulls us through the story like a big engine on a short train.” The Wall Street Journal said that “Slumdog Millionaire" “is the film world's first globalized masterpiece.”

I really enjoyed watching "Slumdog Millionaire." The first time I saw it was in the movie theater, not knowing what to expect. When the movie was over I was amazed by the acting and the story line. This movie is unique and memorable. I loved every minute of it. "Slumdog Millionaire" is my favorite movie. I recommend that people watch this film.

Kaitlyn Quinn, of Mahopac, NY, is a junior at St. Thomas Aquinas College, studying for a business degree. My goal is to start and manage my own business and to become a successful business manager. I love and enjoy working in retail stores.

Big Banks and the Rest of Us

By Danny Hyon

Desperate times call for desperate measures; this aphorism conveys a strong belief that chaos can be subdued by an equivocal responsive measure. Oddly enough, Congress, big banks, and Wall Street seem to believe otherwise. The seeds of greed have sprouted a decaying tree filled with branches of corruption and leaves of eroding public faith. Special interest groups and political lobbyists have tediously nurtured this insidious plant to laugh at the face of justice.

In the midst of a global demolition, crafted by the large corporate institutions and Wall Street executives, the world was struck by a devastating monetary force comprised of toxic assets and over-the-counter derivatives manufactured and packaged through a clandestine transaction between two parties: the federal government and large financial institutions (Wall Street), while neglecting the concerns of the public sector (Main Street). What has been going on in the global economies, the financial sectors, and the underlying way of life is strongly attributed to the avarice visions of Wall Street and Congress’s lack of will power to help or create a sound economic-regulatory policy.

Congress and Wall Street have created an elaborate theatrical play, where the directors of this economic tragedy (Wall Street), have acquired powerful media friendly actors (Congressional lobbyists), to perform and entertain on stage using financial properties--company stocks, personal equity, municipal bonds, treasury notes, 401 K/ retirement plans, and other financing instruments--as devices to create an illusion of prosperity. Like all terribly scripted plays, the ending is not only confusing, but the big players have orchestrated a series of acts that withhold any degree of sensibility and coherency.

The reality behind this play sinks in when we the audience (Main Street) are not only perplexed by the synopsis of this monstrosity, but infuriated by our overpriced, highly inflated ticket without receiving a viable return. To fully comprehend the economic disaster the explanation lies within the resolution where reformation is imperative and categorized by five facets: the federal government, the over-the-counter derivatives market, the “too big to fail” notion, the trendy executive payroll, and finally the consumer protection agency. These elements are currently circumventing the court of public opinion and Congress in strong hopes of precluding a fiscal disaster from reoccurring, but in some twisted sense of humor, it is an attempt to justify the malignant practices of Wall Street.

The Fed

The recent financial crisis has been in production for decades. Some may contend that after the fall of President Woodrow Wilson’s Administration, the regulatory system of the Federal Government gradually withheld its active participation in the economy. The focal point of this discussion begins with the birth of the Reagan era and the continuing deregulatory polices enacted by the Clinton Administration. In retrospect, the Reagan administration could be considered the beginning of the collapse of the American Monetary Empire or economically speaking, Reaganomics is the transfer from public capital to the hyper-concentrated interests of the plutocratic elite. Make no mistake, the global community is currently facing the adverse effects of deregulation, political corruption, and the influences of the ever-emerging corporatocracy.

In 1978, congressional leaders designed and ratified a legislative agreement; that supplanted the Full Employment Act of 1946 by enacting the Humphrey-Hawkins Act of 1978. This decision negatively impacted our economy. It was the very first step to financially constrain the influences of a once active government from monitoring the conditions of the economy. The Hawkins Act explicitly stipulates that the federal government will rely primarily on private enterprise to achieve the four goals (employment, growth in production, price stability, and balance of trade and budget); moreover, the Hawkins Act ridicules the inefficiency of its predecessor, the Full Employment Act of 1946, in assertion that zero unemployment is unattainable and unrealistic. Most importantly, the Hawkins Act empowered the influences of the private sector and the central banking system, while undermining the U.S. government regulations.

As Ronald Reagan transitioned from Hollywood actor to U.S. President, his award winning performance on bad government left the American people in awe and investment bankers begging for more. Reagan’s stage presence was superb; like all great actors, his performance reflects the genius behind his directors. President Reagan made the people of the world believe that “Big Government” is not the answer; as the stock market continued to climb, citizens began to believe the myth. The economy began to bloom, trade deficits appeared to gradually shrink, people were happy and bankers were happier; in the Regan era, the nationalistic slogan was quite clear; “show me the money.”

The Clinton administration continued to cement and amplify the deregulatory practices of Wall Street by glorifying and promoting the actions of private institutions as a catalyst to the American economy. In the early 1990’s, President Bill Clinton inherited a healthy economy, the fall of the Soviet Union, and the birth of the internet/technological boom ensuing the success, innovations, and supremacy of the United States of America. Each facet played a significant role in shaping the zeitgeist of the U.S. instilling the belief that corporations did more good than bad. The mixture of these elements and the ill advice of Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, help foster the concept of free-market capitalism. Greenspan’s advocacy of the free market system is a false axiom that would defend and justify the authorization of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley law, commonly referred to as the “Financial Modernization Act .“

On June 16, 1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the “Glass-Steagall Act”, a legislative action that pursued financial regulation in hopes of decimating the wanton criminal activities of the oligarchy and its egregious influences of the U.S. economy. The Glass-Stegall Act targeted the banking system by separating the confluent aspects of commercial banking and investment banking. The Glass-Stegall Act stipulates that no commercial bank was allowed to own an investment bank and vice versa. Each institution consisted of different policies and functions of capital; investment banking handles the exchanges of securities and commodities, while commercial banking involves transactions of small customer deposits. When the two aspects of banking are fused as a single entity, the unified institution yields a great source of financial power, thus a super-institution is created and equipped with a great amount of control over America’s financial life.

On November 12, 1999 the Financial Modernization Act was enacted, diluting the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, thus opening the flood gates of the financial reserves and eventually contaminating the economic system with toxic assets and over-the-counter derivatives.

President Roosevelt understood the ulterior motives of the large banking institutions and the detrimental consequences of their monetary actions; the Glass-Steagall act was a preemptive strike against future corruption and financial enslavement held by the large banking firms. Under Roosevelt’s clairvoyant leadership, the Glass Steagall Act was a significant humanitarian charter issued and designed to preserve the financial and constitutional liberties of Americans.

Unfortunately, the current economic situation is the fruition of Wall Street aspirations, the abolishment of stern financial regulation, and the incessant greed that consumes, pervades, and trickles down from the top of our modern oligarchy. In retrospect, the manifestations of the recent financial crisis and the ongoing lives of America draw strong parallels to the destitute life of America in the 1920’s, where the banking industry contributed to a stock market crash and extreme levels of unemployment resulting in the Great Depression. The American agenda should revolve around the reformation of the Federal Government’s regulatory oversight, where stabilizing the health of our economy and reintroducing the financial notion of balance of power is the priority of government in order to maximize the value of life and liberty, not the assets of corporations.


The over-the-counter derivatives market has been an unregulated market that has been practiced by large corporations for over a decade. Derivatives are extremely confusing and considered a novelty in the financial markets. A derivative is defined as a transaction negotiated between two parties without the confinements of an exchange. It is an agreement that transfers risk of one company to another. The derivatives fall into two categories where customized risk of a company is transferred and negotiated privately to another firm, commonly referred to as an over-the-counter derivative or financial swap.

Another form of a derivative is known as a futures asset, a standardized form of exchange-traded derivatives. The main distinction between a swap and a futures asset is the over-the-counter derivative or swap is highly volatile because it does not involve the standard strictures of an exchange; it is essentially, a private agreement that is structured on a bilateral basis, it does not comply with matters of jurisdiction, and its credit-risk mitigation varies between a company’s policy in relation to the negotiated parties. In an attempt to simply and explain the hazardous products of over-the-counter- derivatives, it is a sophisticated, highly unregulated monetary gambling instrument that is purely backed by leverage.

On October 9th, 2008 Lyndon LaRouche ridiculed the federal government for its inactive participation in regulating the over-the-counter derivatives market stating that the derivatives bubble is “the hyperinflationary bomb, crushing the international financial system.” He then censures the discretions of the Federal Reserve and its former Chairmen with a closing statement, “It is time to break the silence on derivatives. The true, hyperinflationary factor in the situation is the unregulated, insanely leveraged derivatives trade. This is what is killing us. This is the great crime of Alan Greenspan.”

Based on the analytical data released on June 30th 2008 by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the three largest American banking institutions, J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, and Citicorp, aggregated a current outstanding derivatives contracts of $179.4 trillion. The three banks combined have total assets just under $5.6 trillion. As of December 31, 2007, according to the Bank for International Settlements the total over-the-counter and exchange-traded derivatives summed to more than $675 trillion.

A startling analysis of the derivatives market by John Hoefle, an analyst for the Executive Intelligence Review, estimated the true figures of the derivates market to be well above the quadrillions of dollars. These numbers and contentions are dated two years ago and reformation of this deleterious market is yet to be conceived. President Barrack Obama created a frail proposal on regulatory reform authored by U.S. Secretary of Treasury Tim Geithner; however, serious doubts have circulated throughout the public and a substantial regulatory policy has yet to be enacted. Yet the over-the-counter derivates market is an extremely volatile sector that has negatively impacted the U.S. economy; it is an ineffective monetary instrument accountable for our recent financial instability.

Too big to fail

Many economists have dissected the deeply interwoven connection Wall Street has in our global economy. The too big to fail notion revolves around the idea that corporations are too large and interconnected with all facets of the economy, declaring government authority to proclaim bankruptcy to such institutions will be deplorable and cause a severe meltdown in the overall scale of the global economies. To the public sector, too big to fail arrogantly validates the wrong doings of Wall Street firms impressing the perception that large corporations are immune to failure despite the truth behind corporate influences.

In 2007-2008 Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Washington Mutual, Wachovia, Bear Sterns, Countrywide Financial, and AIG were all infected with the hazardous toxic assets that were distributed in the interconnected economies. These mega corporations all failed and almost pushed the world to the brink of demolition. Subsequently an emergency bailout was allocated by Congress to rescue other large financial institutions from defaulting, thus solidifying the despicable and unforgivable Wall Street Slogan; Too big to fail. Paul Krugman a noble economist, has argued that too big to fail is beyond a catchy phrase, it is the justification of predatory lending, fictitious monetary transactions, and money hungry measures that Wall Street will take to make an extra dollar while conscientiously jeopardizing the financial well being of mankind.

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln conveyed an uncanny foresight about big banks' impact on American lives in the future. “The money power preys upon the nation in times of peace and conspires against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy. I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.”

As we stare at our deflated tickets, as the curtain falls, and we are left to fill in the pieces behind the Wall Street tragedy, I ask my fellow Americans, where is our poetic justice?

Danny Hyon is a senior at St. Thomas Aquinas College. He enjoys writing and studying economics.

A Mother's Missing Son

By Rick Guevara

Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthdays, all significant days normally celebrated throughout the year that are associated with loved ones spending time together. But for one former Dobbs Ferry mother, these days bring little joy, as she still wonders what happened to her son, Martin “JR” Crumblish, when he disappeared 28 years ago.

Dobbs Ferry is a two-and-a-half square mile bedroom community populated by 10,600 residents in Westchester County, NY. Located in the northeast section of this NYC suburb is a 76-acre woodland preserve called the Juhring Estate. A frequently travelled area during the day time by dog-walkers and hikers, it is more popular for the local teens as a night-time party spot during the summer months.

Late on May 2, 1981, 17-year-old Martin “JR” Crumblish left a beer party which had been held with a few friends at a Juhring Estate clearing known as The View. Sometime shortly after his friends returned home, “JR” Crumblish disappeared and has never been seen since.

Concerns over “JR” Crumblish’s disappearance began early that morning when he failed to show up for the SAT exam he had signed up to take. When the day wore on and there still had been no sign of him his mother, Karen Kelly, became worried and contacted the Dobbs Ferry Police Department.

The disappearance was initially classified as a missing person case. Initial investigating officers handled the case as such because “JR” had told many people he had wanted to run away, possibly back to California where his father resided.

At the time of the report, “JR” was described as a white male, 155 lbs, 6 feet 1, with blond hair and blue eyes. The only discerning feature was that he had a gap between his two front teeth.

Martin George Crumblish was born on January 7, 1964, in Dobbs Ferry, NY. Because his father was also Martin Crumblish, his parents found it easier to call him “JR.” After his parent’s divorced, “JR’s” dad moved back to California but “JR” stayed with his mother at 7 Keller Lane in Dobbs Ferry.

“JR” was described as being a good student early on, but in his teens began to experiment as many youths do with alcohol and drugs. After that his grades began to suffer and he began to have more run-ins with the local police. His mother described his as a sweet person but was not recognizable during those occasions when he was intoxicated. After he became uncontrollable, “JR” moved in with his uncle who also resided in Dobbs Ferry, . “JR” would frequently stay at friends homes as well.

As the days passed, rumors abounded as to the fate of “JR” Crumblish. His mother, Karen Kelly, told police that her son had been having some difficulty with several local youths. This disagreement stemmed from their belief that “JR” had told police that they may have been in possession of stolen property. She added that on
several occasions these youngsters had chased him home.

Karen Kelly hoped that her son would return; however, years slowly passed by and “JR” Crumblish never resurfaced. His identity and social security numbers were never used again in any capacity.

In 2002, Dobbs Ferry Police reclassified “JR” Crumblish’s missing person case as a homicide. Police officials are not discussing what, if any new leads have been developed. However all information in their possession suggests that the Dobbs Ferry teen was killed sometime after leaving the party.

Over the years, the Dobbs Ferry Police have been systematically chasing down all leads, hoping that one may lead to locating the missing youth.

In 2001, armed with new information, the Dobbs Ferry Police Department was assisted by “Storm,” one of three New York City cadaver dogs. These specially trained animals are used to either detect the presence of methane gases, which are common in decaying bodies or skeletal remains. During the search, “Storm” alerted his handler to a location not far from “The View.” Detectives from the Dobbs Ferry Police Department began digging, however their search turned up nothing.

That same year, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was also tapped by Dobbs Ferry Police Detectives for assistance. Michael Harris, a retired New York City detective who is a volunteer with the center, was assigned to the case. After thoroughly looking over all available paperwork, it is his belief that that Crumblish met with an untimely death.

“Martin never left Dobbs Ferry that night or any other night. He’s still there, probably in a shallow grave…the key is to find him, because making a homicide case is hard without a body,” said Harris.

Harris added, “There are witnesses out there who know what happened, people lose their loyalties as time passes…it’s a matter of getting to them.”

A suicide attempt was ruled out a long time ago as a body would have turned up. Harris also said, “We don’t know exactly what happened to him, but it wasn’t a stranger who did it.”

Karen Kelly, who no longer resides in Dobbs Ferry, said that his last words to her when he walked out that night almost 30 years ago was, “I love you mommy.”

Kelly said, “I want his body placed to rest. I want a prayer said over his grave. He deserves that much. Anyone does.”

Lt. James Guarnieri, who is in charge of the Dobbs Ferry detective division, still works on the case and stated that the department still has contact with Karen Kelly. Police urge anyone with information in regards to this case to contact the Dobbs Ferry Police Department Detective Division at (914) 693-5500. All information will be kept confidential.

Rick Guevara is a senior at St. Thomas Aquinas College, where he is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He has 18 years in law enforcement and is a Sergeant with the Dobbs Ferry Police Department. He served five years as an operator with the Town of Greenburgh SWAT team and was one of two of the team’s less lethal munitions instructors.