It’s Election Night. Here’s How The Sting staffers are spending theirs.

It’s not a stretch to say that this year has been one for the history books. 

We’ve endured an ongoing pandemic, protests, murder hornets, and unexpected hurricanes. Not to mention, the passing of two civil rights icons,  former Congressman and civil rights activist John Lewis and Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

It seems that an election is all we need to test the limits of our sanity. 

In anticipation for what will certainly be an historic night, we’re offering a glimpse into how The Sting staff is spending their Election Night, in case anyone’s interested: 

Leonard Robinson, editor-in-chief 

I’m a self-confessed political junkie. I voted early by mail, but have no idea what will happen. My eyes are on Senate races in Kentucky, North Carolina, Colorado, Arizona, and Georgia as they seem like they can heat up as Democrats attempt to take back the Senate and some local races in Baltimore City, especially my local city council race between Democrat Carl Stokes and Green Party candidate Franca Mueller Paz. 

I’m pretty sure that we will have no idea who is occupying the White House by tomorrow morning. 

I have class tomorrow morning at 9:30 so I’ll probably take it easy as I watch with friends at my new favorite DC bar, Red Derby (following all social distance protocols, of course). Cigars will definitely be apart of this. (Yes, Tony and I are still looking for “off-the-record cigar club” members) Maybe, you’ll get the occasional tweet from me as well- especially if things heat up in the nation’s capital as some believe it will

Tony Sheaffer, managing editor 

This semester, I’m enrolled in an Elections and Political Parties course. In addition to following the results from the presidential race, I’ll be following the results from the U.S. Senate race in Arizona between Martha McSally (R) and Mark Kelly (D) for a course project. I’m also anxious to see if Independent Bob Wallace can pull off an upset in the Baltimore mayoral race against Democrat Brandon Scott.

I’m hopeful that most of the local and congressional races may have a declared winner within the next day or so, but I’m sure it’ll be at least a week or two before we know if Trump or Biden will occupy the White House for the next four years. Unless one of the candidates is able to pull off a scenario like Ronald Reagan in 1984 (winning all states but one), get ready for a wild couple weeks to cap off a wild year.

As far as what I’m doing tonight, there’s a bottle of Casamigos with my name on it. I’ll be sitting in my living room sipping tequila while I flip through the major networks to see how the usual pundits are reacting. If things start going wrong, I’ll put on some records and try to relax. If things start going well, I’ll light up a couple of Cuban cigars I’ve saved for a special occasion. Who knows? I might even take after Leonard and make an elusive Twitter appearance as well.

Jeff Dominguez, Communications Director

This will be my first year voting and I am holding onto my seat just like anyone else for this election. I will admit, before I was not into politics like my colleagues, but being in an environment where it is important to know who you are voting for and who you want to be representing you are important (and your right) as a citizen of the United States.

Today will just be like any other day for me, since I voted early. I will be working on some projects for The Sting and for my portfolio. Adding onto that, I will be going to my daily routine of going to the gym and catching up on homework for the semester, while waiting for the results like every other person in America.

Flora Giakoumakis, Business Manager

I’m not very interested in politics and there’s plenty of talk on social media about both parties and the amount of pressure that they place on people to vote for them. People should take the time to educate themselves on both parties and every available office basing their vote off the information gathered. 

At first, I wasn’t sure of whether I wanted to stand in lines and vote, but ultimately did. As a result, I’ll be spending this evening doing homework with the results in the background.  I’m looking forward to the results and I hope a civil war doesn’t break out tomorrow, regardless of who wins.

Charles Rhem, Staff Writer

Growing up in Delaware, politics was always a small town local election type of thing. However, moving to Baltimore made me care more about political issues. I voted this morning at my local precinct, and unfortunately, due to currently studying for my LSATS, gave up drinking for two weeks. Thinking back, probably not my best decision going into such a major election.

Tonight’s menu is homemade pasta and watching election results come in until about 9:30. Then, I’ll take some Tylenol PM, awake tomorrow morning to hopefully see the results, and maybe even break my sobriety with a whiskey neat paired with my morning shower.

Tatiana Huang, Staff Writer

I’m a bit of a podcast nerd, and honestly most of what I’ve been listening to since 2016 has been political. I just finished catching up on this past weekend’s Lovett or Leave It, and I’m beginning to regret voting by mail. My vote’s been counted, that’s not the issue–I think I would’ve liked to be one of the folks counted today, live, instead of later. I’m paying close attention to senate races in Colorado, Arizona, and Georgia, and trying to keep myself from the existential dread of the presidential race.

Tonight, I’ll be grabbing drinks at The Backyard in Fells Point between 5-6pm, because they’re two for one and I need all the booze I can get. All of it. From there, I plan on picking up enough Chinese food for a family of four and stress eating while I play WoW and listen to NPR. 

Sierra Farrare, Staff Writer

At posting, Sierra was in line preparing to vote.

Kopper Boyd, Staff Writer

Tonight, I plan to focus on self-care. I’m not really into following the election closely, as the verdict will be the verdict regardless of how much I obsess over what’s happening. I’ve placed my vote so I’ve done my part. Paying too much attention to politics always makes me anxious, so I’m planning on opting out of the anxiety trip this time around. 

I’ll grab some Tropical Smoothie, which is always a treat for me, and relax at home. Most likely, I’ll take a bath with some salts and candles, read a good book, and listen to Sade. We’ve been living in a super stressful climate, so self-care and doing activities that keep me engaged and occupied have been at the forefront of my schedule. I hope that everyone does take some time tonight to do something for self, because it’s super important to stay as sane as you can in this atmosphere. 

Aaron Tucker, Copy Editor

Second time voter.  This was my first time ever casting a mail-in ballot.  Admittedly, I’ve kept informed this time around from a new (although unbalanced) political lens.

Four years ago, election night was quite the captivating viewing experience for me, much like watching Jack Bauer feverishly pound on calculator keys during an entire season finale of 24.  Tonight, I’ll be sleeping the whole thing through and waiting for everything to blow over like never.

Bruce Springsteen’s Letter to You – Review
Album art for Letter to You, Bruce Springsteen’s 20th studio album.

Whenever I travel, I always like to have either new music or something old I haven’t heard before to accompany me. Last Friday was just such an occasion. Perhaps what was more fitting, was as I made my way to see family in Asbury Park, NJ, I had the chance to listen to Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s new record, Letter to You.

Recorded over the course of five days at Springsteen’s New Jersey farm, Letter to You tells Springsteen’s story. His beginnings in Freehold. His first band. The people he’s loved and lost along the way. There are few records that make me cry. This was one of them.

“Big black train comin’ down the track/ blow your whistle long and long. One minute you’re here, next minute you’re gone.” A poignant reminder of the fragility of life, Springsteen evokes a sound reminiscent of his Nebraska LP on the album opener, “One Minute You’re Here.” The second track, “Letter to You” brings the E Street Band back in full form for the first time in six years.

Every track thereafter is classic Springsteen. 

In “Last Man Standing,” Springsteen tells how he is the only surviving member of his original band, The Castiles, a rockabilly group that frequented a number of bars and clubs around New Jersey. In a similar vein, the album closer “I’ll See You In My Dreams” hits close to anyone who’s lost people close to them. While some may have faith that they will be reunited with loved ones in an afterlife, the only way we can see those loved ones now is when we dream.

“Song for Orphans” perfectly encapsulates some of the problems facing America in 2020. Speaking of “restless loud white boys” and “the axis,” Springsteen tells us of some of the atrocities he’s seen in his days. The chorus is a triumphant mnemonic that the Confederacy or Axis powers will never win, that they aren’t as strong as the forces of good and the forces of true freedom and equality for all. It’s beautiful songwriting that couldn’t be more relevant in today’s climate.

I’ve saved my favorite song for last.

Springsteen wrote “If I Was the Priest” as a demo sometime in 1970 or ‘71 for his first LP, but ultimately never released it. Instead, Allan Clarke of The Hollies recorded and released his own version in 1972. The lyrical work takes us back to the early days of Springsteen, where his words and phrasing seemed faster than light at times, and otherwise downright kismet. Perhaps the biggest difference between Springsteen then and Springsteen now is he puts just a little more space in between words. 

On this song, you can tell Springsteen and the band are just having fun. After all, until this year the only versions available were Bruce’s early demo recording and Clarke’s more polished recording. It’s the timeless tale of outlaws, but told with biblical figures as the key players. Jesus is a sheriff. The Virgin Mary is a saloon keeper. The Holy Ghost runs a burlesque show. After all, who else on this planet could come up with something like that? I’ve been finding myself going back to that song all week.

In addition to the album, Springsteen also released a film chronicling the recording of the album with some stories behind the tracks. Available on Apple TV+, I’d highly recommend the film as a supplement to the LP. In the film, we get to see the E Street Band in their element. Bruce memorializes E Streeter’s they’ve lost: Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici. He gives us a better idea of where he’s coming from with the new material. We also get to meet Springsteen’s cousin Frank who taught him his first guitar chords. At the tail end of the film (post-credits) Bruce and Frank jam out to the first song they ever wrote together.

This album is special. I don’t think there’s an album in recent memory as good as this one. To me, it competes with Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town, and Nebraska as my favorite Springsteen record. Perhaps what made it better was driving through Springsteen’s old stomping grounds while I listened to it. While there is so much to be unnerved about in 2020, Bruce Springsteen makes you feel human again, even if for a short period of time.

Tony Sheaffer is managing editor for The Sting and writes Friday Groove, a weekly music column.

The Color Theory: Finding Your Style

Photo: Jeff Dominguez – The Sting

I don’t know about you, but fall has always been my favorite season of the year. This is the time to experiment with different arrangements – ones that are already in your closet combined with ones that you recently just “copped” for the chilly season.

Our bodies change over time every year, as well as that favorite sweatshirt that keeps shrinking in the wash – no, just me?

Anyways, that’s why we shop for new products at every tilt of the Earth’s axis. Seasons change and so do we. Like I previously said in my last post, a change in season can possibly mean a change in your wardrobe.

BUT it does not entirely have to be that way. Of course, you can always stick with the same style that you identity yourself with.

Photo: Jeff Dominguez – The Sting

“But what if I don’t know my style? Or what if I don’t associate myself with an identity?”

Well first off, you actually do have a style! What’s great about streetwear, is that there are no limitations at all! Streetwear is a combination of styles from numerous subcultures, according to Bobby Hundreds of Complex.

Take a look at your closet and notice what all of them have in common. For example, see the similarities that you have for your upper body wear. Compare all your graphic tees, gym/workout shirts, button-ups, hats, jerseys, blouses, dresses, tank tops, or whatever you may have.

Do they all have the same color scheme? Do they all have similar patterns? Are there any cultural ties with them? How do all of these shirts make you feel?

If you are still having trouble figuring that out, find pictures of yourself from the past and start comparing your outfits off of that.

I would say, think deeply about how your clothes represent you and how they make you feel. I know this is cliché, but it always stays true to any advice, do not worry about what other people think about you. Let’s face it, we all live in a world (or country, should I say) where people do not care about how you feel inside. As I saw on Twitter from the other day, “be your own cheerleader”. In most basic terms, be confident in yourself!

Photo: Jeff Dominguez – The Sting

Finding your style does not happen overnight. Tan France, co-host of Netflix’s Queer Eye and guest instructor for Masterclass, says “I’ve helped thousands of people to find their personal style and find a look that makes them feel good about themselves. The most important step I tell my clients is that they must make an effort”.

To add onto that, I believe having the patience with yourself and getting out of your comfort zone is important as well. It takes time and a little inspiration to kickstart a new wardrobe.

Remember, your body is your canvas. You are taking all this time to invest in your aesthetic and showcasing on how you present yourself.

Photo: Jeff Dominguez – The Sting

Also, don’t be so “pressed” about limiting yourself to one specific identity.

If you like the outfit that you got on, if it reminds you of something (ex: say you wear overalls with a striped shirt – hence, the 90s and The Fresh Prince), wear it out!

Everyone should always feel comfortable and confident on whatever they are wearing. If you have any doubts about that particular outfit, maybe it’s not the right time to wear it. But also, do not trash the outfit. Save it for later!

Photo: Jeff Dominguez – The Sting

To sum all of this up, I am proposing “The Triple C Rule” as a method to find your aesthetic – Comfort Zone, Consistency, and Confidence.

  • Step out of your comfort zone. Take time to shop around and try new stuff on. Do a little bit of research and get some inspiration from your family members, friends, an influencer, or whoever it may be.
  • Be consistent with your closet. Find shirts, jackets, shoes that represents you the best.
  • Be confident!

Jeff Dominguez is the Communications Director for The Sting and writes The Color Theory, a bi-weekly fashion column.

Review: The Struts- Strange Days

Photo: Amazon

Back in August, I had a chance to go to an in-person, drive-in concert up in Philadelphia, which I wrote about in a previous Friday Groove article. British rock outfit The Struts were the main act.

In addition to the usual songs, the band played new material they had written while quarantined together during the first couple months of the pandemic. Frontman Luke Spiller told the audience that “something big would be coming soon. A few weeks later, the band announced their third studio album, Strange Days. Within the next couple weeks they released the first singles from the record, “Another Hit of Showmanship” and “Strange Days.” 

The LP finally dropped today. In a year that hasn’t had me very excited about new music, The Struts have been a big part of an autumn that is finally providing some reprieve to the lack of good, new music.

Recorded over the course of 10 days in quarantine, Strange Days manages to capture a new sense of intimacy not seen in their previous work. The opening (title) track “Strange Days”, which features Robbie Williams, evokes the feelings most of us have felt while being stuck in lockdown. The words “science fiction I believe, has become reality” hits way too close to home, but that isn’t a bad thing. Every songwriter strives to tap into such delicate emotions, many to no avail.

But even with undertones of the pandemic and lockdowns, The Struts still manage to rock. Tracks like “All Dressed Up” and “Cool” emit the classic Struts sound that fans have grown to love. Robust guitars paired with powerful vocals still make this record feel familiar. On this effort, The Struts enlisted other musicians to make this record really pop.

“I Hate How Much I Want You” features Def Leppard’s Phil Collen and Joe Elliot. I’m not much of a Def Leppard fan, but their presence on the track definitely enhances it. Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello appears on “Wild Child,” playing guitar the way only he can. Morello has collaborated with several artists over the years, including Bruce Springsteen. This collaboration feels right. The Strokes’ Albert Hammond Jr. appears on the single “Another Hit of Showmanship.”

Perhaps my favorite track is “Am I Talking to the Champagne,” the final track on the album. “Champagne” goes for a different sound, one that’s a little bluesier, bordering on a sound similar to the Rolling Stones’ Some Girls record. The bass line on this track really stands out, which isn’t necessarily the case on many of their other songs.

Overall this record was very enjoyable. Recording one song in quarantine is difficult enough, save for an entire album. Take it from someone who knows. I’m currently in the process of recording my second album in the midst of this pandemic, granted I probably have much less equipment at my disposal than these guys. 

Whatever The Struts had originally planned for a third album, I’m sure it was thwarted in part by the current state of affairs. But adapting to the situation and churning out a record as good as this one is certainly commendable, and I’m excited to see what they do next.

Tony Sheaffer is managing editor for The Sting and writes Friday Groove, a weekly music column.

The Color Theory: Denim is Not Going Anywhere

Photo: Jeff Dominguez – The Sting

For some, a change in season can possibly mean a change in your wardrobe. Coming into this newly fresh fall season, you might switch up your style and experiment with different combinations – maybe wearing more baggy clothings, rather than ones that feel tight around your jungulars. Or just tweaking it up a little bit that best fits your aesthetic – maybe wearing more colorful shirts, rather than wearing all black everything (I promise you, I am not judging!).

But the one thing that never goes out of style, no matter what day of the year it is: Denim.

We all have it, whether it be your favorite jeans or that one timeless jean jacket that came from the 90s. Denim has always been the frontier of the fashion industry, according to fashion historian Emma McClendon.

Photo: Jeff Dominguez – The Sting

Over the years, denim has transcended the fashion industry. In her book, Denim: Fashion’s Frontier, McClendon explains that denim has transformed from a “working class fabric” to everyday dress and high fashion since it’s creation by Levi’s in 1873.  Its image has shifted throughout history as a symbol of the American workforce, youth, rebellion, sexuality, social-political movements, and the ephemeral quality of dressing “cool and edgy.”

Notably, denim is currently the world’s leading fabric, and has been for the better part of the last century. For most people, denim clothes (whether it be jeans, jackets, or shirts) is always a great choice for any wardrobe.

According to Statista, the global market for denim accounted for almost $90 billion US dollars in 2019 alone. This year, the current jean value is up to over $110 billion US dollars so far; and it is projected to increase to $127 billion by 2023. To say the least, denim is not going anywhere anytime soon.

You can look at other statistics of the denim industry here.

Photo: Jeff Dominguez – The Sting

So you are probably wondering, “Ok Jeff, I get it. Denim is in style. But how can I incorporate it into my outfits?” Well, you basically have two options: wear something that complements your denim or wear double denim.

Lets say your favorite jean jacket is the piece that you want to stand out. Take a look at its color/shade – hence the name of this column, The Color Theory. Lighter shades of the denim blue complement lighter colors, such as white, yellow, and rose/pink. Similarly, darker shades complement dark shades of the color spectrum, such as black, grey, and red.

What about wearing double denim?

That is totally fine, but be cautious. Wearing denim on denim can make it look like you are wearing a uniform, or maybe a jumpsuit (unless that is your approach, that is fine too!). Double denim isn’t really all that bad though, just keep in mind you can still look good as long as the two pieces of denim are matching shades.

Photo: Jeff Dominguez – The Sting

Since fall is here, traditionally some people start to look for outfits for the colder weather. It seems like almost every year, we buy a new pair of jeans because naturally our bodies change over a period of time. Plus, having those same jeans lose its color and size from washing it over time is also a huge factor. But I would say though, probably the hardest part about finding the perfect jeans is having your ass fit in them – and for the guys like myself, having your jungulars breathe too (those damn, skinny jeans!).

Jeff Dominguez is the Communications Director for The Sting and writes The Color Theory, a bi-weekly fashion column.

Friday Groove: Tickets to My Downfall – Review

I’m not the biggest fan of Rap. Sure, I like some of the old school artists like Biggie and Tupac, and I’m a big fan of Tyler, the Creator, but beyond that it was never really my thing. So it stands to reason that before late last year, while I had heard of Machine Gun Kelly, I had never really listened to much of his music. 

That all changed when I heard the song “I Think I’m Okay,” the last track on MGK’s fourth studio album Hotel Diablo. For the song, MGK went in a more rock-oriented direction, teaming up with Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker. I wasn’t the only one who liked it: the song went to number eight on the year-end Billboard Hot Rock charts. In December, MGK announced that he would be releasing a rock album in 2020. 

Last week, MGK made good on that announcement with the release of his fifth studio album “Tickets to My Downfall,” which has easily become the best new pop-punk album I’ve heard in some time. Travis Barker plays drums (along with a host of other instruments) throughout and produced the record, showcasing his talents as both musician and producer. 

The album pays homage to pop-punk greats like My Chemical Romance or Blink-182 (which may be unsurprising given Barker’s presence) with a more modern sound that is closer to some of the pop-punk bands of today. All the while, the sound holds its own, and MGK provides an outstanding record that has easily become one of my favorite albums of this year.

The LP comes in at 15 songs running about 36 minutes. Packed with fast paced, three or four chord progressions and simple but catchy guitar licks, MGK has proclaimed himself to be just as good as musicians from the late ‘90’s and early 2000’s. 

I enjoyed most of the songs, but felt that most of the songs with a collaboration could’ve done without the collaboration part. Halsey’s appearance on “forget me too” made me press skip, but I could live with the other guest appearances.

My old go-to’s like Green Day, Blink-182 (now with Matt Skiba on guitar) and Sum 41 haven’t been putting out great music as of late, but this record gives me hope that there is still integrity in the pop-punk genre. 

Who’s to say if MGK will stick with this genre shift, but if he does, it would be well welcome.

Tony Sheaffer is managing editor for The Sting and writes Friday Groove, a weekly music column.