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Strippers, Silence, & Smallpox

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Indulging in poultry and watching football — this is how we celebrate the “settlement” of an already-inhabited land and (to 17th-century Europeans) a most fortuitous pandemic. In the spirit of the rather dubious holiday, F Newsmagazine asked SAIC students to give their take on Thanksgiving and share their favorite — or most bizarre — Turkey Day memories. While many still taste bitter colonialism in their turkey, others find more meaning in camaraderie with friends and family . . . for better or for worse.

Illustrations by Sierra Nicole Rhoden.Wilfred Padua

Wilfred Padua
MFA Writing

“The first time I ever watched ‘David Blaine: Street Magic’ was on Thanksgiving. My whole family gathered together and we watched it. My cousin had recorded it on a VHS and played it for us. It was great; it was amazing. It’s still amazing.”

Moki Tantoco
BFA Art Education

“I’m Filipino American, from the suburbs. All my family lives here basically, so we all have Thanksgiving together on my mom’s side. It’s a mix of Thanksgiving food and Filipino and Chinese food — it’s a weird dinner. Non-stop eating for the entire day, and non-stop talking. We have two turkeys, because there are so many of us. One is made by my father, and the other is made by my aunt. My aunt’s not very good at cooking.There are a lot of Filipino people that go to Chinese buffets and have their Thanksgiving there. It’s like a thing.”

Bruno Suarez
BFA Visual Communication Design

“I’ve celebrated [Thanksgiving] once and it was last year. I’m from Ecuador, so it’s like celebrating Independence Day. Back home Independence Day, Columbus Day, and even Day of the Dead are celebrating horrible, horrible massacres. But I guess you have to concentrate on the food and sharing. This year I think I’m going to stay here and we’re going to do a potluck with all the RAs. You’ve got to emphasize what’s right now, not the past. And I don’t like it when people are like, ‘Oh, the turkey’s dry.’ An animal died for you. Food is food. Just eat it.”

Alexander Wilson
BFA Interior Architecture

“My aunt was a bartender/stripper, and for one Thanksgiving she came in at 9:00 pm when we had already sat down for Thanksgiving dinner. She was in go-go boots, a short skirt and a low-cut top even though it was November. She was drunk off her ass, and she was just screaming about how fun Thanksgiving was for the drunks and how well all the sad men tip on Thanksgiving. Then she proceeded to take a leg off of the turkey and throw it across the room. That was like 1997. I remember it vividly, because I remember sitting there like, ‘Mom, do something!’ Every holiday [my aunt] is kind of a mess. One Christmas she just threw money at the tree. It was like $200 in ones.”

Ross Jordan
MAAAP & MAAH

“Last year, my friend threw the inevitable ‘you’re not going home’ Thanksgiving party. We all got together and brought stuff to her house. I’m at the point where I can really remember my childhood and long for things from Thanksgiving, so I was like, ‘I’m going to make eggnog from scratch.’ I did, and it’s really disgusting because it takes like 25 eggs, and you mix it up and separate them. But it was the most delicious thing I’ve ever had. Everybody seemed to do that, bring the thing that made them think of home.

“It’s funny, because there are a lot of things like [Thanksgiving] that are commemorating really horrible events. That’s how everyone in art school kind of pitches it. But it is really a time where families and friends come together for communal things. It’s lost its meaning in celebration so I think you can celebrate it without guilt [laughs]. It just means you’re going to take some time to be thankful for your friends and have this kind of ironic holiday together, and that’s pretty cool.”

Lily Kim
BFA Visual Communication Design

“I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. [Thanksgiving] is like Columbus Day, very negative. Every Thanksgiving is basically Columbus thanking God that he killed all the Native Americans — ‘Oh we have this land, but fuck all the Native Americans.’ You know that you’re not supposed to celebrate that shit! [laughs] What am I thankful for? I’m thankful every day. What’s the point in celebrating it? I can’t meet up with my family anyway. They’re in China and Korea.”

Nina Palomba
BFA Cartooning & Illustration

“We’re a really Italian family. We have really big dinners, but we also eat really late. One Thanksgiving my dad didn’t put the turkey in until an absurd hour, thinking it was going to be done. We’re all hanging out waiting, in the kitchen thinking, ‘I thought we were supposed to be done with this a couple hours ago.’ My dad was so upset because the turkey didn’t get done until two in the morning. We ate everything else, and then we had this turkey that didn’t turn out well. The family was crushed. I think we went to a buffet the next day to make up for it.”

Kaley Cross
BFA Performance & Animation

“Nothing ever happens [on Thanksgiving]. It’s a bigger family gathering. It’s uncomfortable. It would be like Grandma’s sisters and then us. There are kids the same age [as I] but we don’t talk because I see them about once a year. We sit at big tables and don’t talk to each other. It’s always the same food. It’s a long day.”

One Response to Strippers, Silence, & Smallpox

  1. Gibran says:

    I would like my portrait done like these. Thank you.

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