Five years ago, the state of California passed a law restricting the sale of video games, considered to be violent, to minors under the age of 18.

Cigarettes, porn and violent video games—which one would you let a child play with? While some may choose to say one or the other, or none at all, the point is that eventually, someone is making the decision to allow a child access to these materials. Nothing, not even a law, takes the place of an attentive parent or guardian.

Five years ago, the state of California passed a law restricting the sale of video games, considered to be violent, to minors under the age of 18. The law later came under fire from the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) and the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), who were able to get an injunction from a U.S. district court preventing its enforcement. Ultimately, in 2007 a U.S. District judge ruled that the law infringed upon first amendment rights.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn’t about to let the issue go and appealed the decision only to lose once more, having a court of appeals agree with the initial ruling. But with classic terminator determination, Schwarzenegger has now taken the matter up with the Supreme Court, which heard testimony for the case last Tuesday.

California’s goal is essentially to limit exposure of certain material, such as mature films, pornographic magazines, etc., to minors. The law basically puts violent video games in the same consumer category as cigarettes, porn or rated-R movies.

One may simply conclude that information should be available regarding the content of video games. However, video games already have a rating system associated with them—it runs a span from “early childhood” games to “adults only” and symbols advertising such ratings are clearly found on the covers of video games, just as an MPAA rating is found on a film in a store. It is not difficult to see how one could use such ratings in deciding what game is best for them or their family—therefore, is a law truly necessary when such information is already available?

The debate over video game content has been around for decades now. Many may remember the controversy over Mortal Combat, originally release in 1992, in which a character was able to pull the skull and spine from a defeated opponent. While time would prove that the biggest threat this game series posed would be the production of two horrifyingly terrible films, the question of violence in video games and its exposure to minors has lingered ever since.

Many gamers see an irony in having a panel of judges, all of whom are highly unlikely to have played video games themselves, take on such a decision. But then again, Justice Sotomayor put forth this question to California Deputy Attorney General Zachery P. Morazzini:

“So what happens when the character gets maimed, head chopped off, and immediately after it happens they spring back to life and they continue their battle. Is that covered by your act?”

It looks like a certain judge has been playing some Halo.

A law may be coming down the line for California—which can be repeated elsewhere—to limit the sale of violent video games to children, but it should be understood that ultimately, the real responsibility here lays on parents. It is true that in some cases, parenting skills and common parental sense can be lacking. In the end, a guardian should be able to discern if a video game that allows the player to pick up a prostitute in a car before taking a sniper rifle out to shoot random pedestrians—popping off their heads and watching their jugular spurt out blood like Old Faithful—is appropriate for a child.

At some point, society must realize that laws don’t make up for common sense. The best defense against bad influences upon children is not the Supreme Court, but parents. ?

I would rather be in the place your music takes me

“One of the things that makes us stand out,” said Pace Rubadeau, “forget all that other stuff about being able to play three hours nonstop and improv the whole time. I mean, that’s beautiful and that’s awesome, but what makes us stand out is the kind of ears we turn on.”

Like for the gauged-eared headbanger from Ash Street Saloon, the uptight white-collar bicyclist, seven-year-old Nelson, the wandering beach walker or the 70-year-old woman who left a note in their tip jar saying, “I would rather be in the place your music takes me,” there can be no debate as to the boundless reach of Deklun and Pace’s music. Miller, also known as Deklun, mans the electronic beats and mood while Rubadeau moans and groans through his trumpet, utilizing the trumpet’s wordlessness as a medium for international transcendence.

Rubadeau accuses Miller of electronic bliss hypnosis and Miller accuses Rubadeau of telepathic musical understanding, but together they become an unstoppable force reaching out to shake you from your daily sleepwalk, urging you to see with open eyes and ears. They create organic and atmospheric tangles of time and space.

“We need time,” Rubadeau said, “to take you on a journey—a journey in sound. No matter what, somewhere in that 90 minutes you will have two or three minutes of just…you lost yourself, you forgot you were listening to music, you forgot your surroundings. And because that happens when I’m playing and I think it happens when [Miller] is playing, I imagine it’s happening for the strangers too.”

Having played everywhere from the coast to the city to the mountains, Deklun and Pace seem to gravitate towards venues and experiences more suitable to their unique style of music. Their style can only be described accurately as such: improvisational exploration of expression. The kind of venues that suit this style are places like the venue-less beaches of Seaside and Del Rey, Portland’s Lan Su Chinese Gardens, Washington’s Mt. Baker and Oregon’s other hidden treasure landscapes. 

One of the duo’s signature moves is renting out a generator and setting up wherever the flow takes them, offering musical creation to the natural world. Driving down Highway 26 once, they noticed a road sign, Music Road, beckoning them to follow and come play a while. After following this road for a little more than five miles, they pulled over, got out of the car, set up the generator and let loose. A video and CD of this beautiful experience can be found on their website, 

“Our music,” Miller said, “is a good fit for nature. People say they notice people dancing and their feet getting rooted in the ground and they start becoming like moving trees. They’re connecting with our music and that’s translating from our love for nature.”

A show that has left unforgettable imprints on both musicians’ memories was the Festival 542 in Glacier, Wa. Festival 542 was an outdoor enthusiast kind of festival, providing 25 miles of scenic highway for bicyclists, runners and walkers to enjoy for the weekend. Deklun and Pace set up at both the beginning of the race and the end. 

“It was a little scary for us,” Miller said, “to play for an audience that wasn’t there solely for us. We were more accompaniment for the festival. But everyone commented on how amazing it was because it fit so well. They heard it 12 miles down the road as they were climbing on their bikes, and told us that they felt like we were pulling them to the finish line.”

At the same festival, Rubadeau set up to record the session and although the winds were too heavy to catch any quality sound from the show, the recording did catch one magical moment. 

“He couldn’t have been more than seven or eight,” Rubadeau said. “He was talking to his dad saying things like, ‘this music is sad’ and his dad would say, ‘well it’s not always sad, sometimes it sounds happy,’ and the last thing you hear on the recording is him picking up a CD and telling his dad he wants to listen to it on the way home. This tiny, tiny little voice. It was pretty much the only thing that came out crystal clear on the recording, after 90 minutes of wind.”

The fact of the matter is that these guys are on to something fresh and truly unique. They create once-in-a-lifetime soundscapes for audiences of all shapes and sizes by stretching their own creativity to encompass all they believe music should be about: experimentation, mood and improvisation. Miller calls the experience, for both themselves and for listeners, a “sonic sojourn” and Rubadeau calls it a “listening session,” but there can be no deliberation as to the authenticity and spiritual quality of their approach to the creation of music. ?

Give Paccini your recipe, make some dough

In an effort to build the already blossoming community at campus spot Paccini Restaurant & Bar, owner Jason Kallingal will be holding a contest starting today titled “Recipe Exchange.” The contest will allow students to submit a recipe, and if it is chosen as a winner, it will be placed as a special on the menu for a limited amount of time. The winning student will gain 10 percent of the profit the dish makes when it’s on the menu.

Kallingal feels that this contest fits in with the overall ambiance that Paccini strives to provide for its students.

“Paccini focuses on comfort food, and we want to provide students food that makes them feel at home.  When I went to college, I craved certain dishes that reminded me of home, but never had any space or time to cook them. This is an effort to provide that for students,” Kallingal said.

The recipes will be submitted via e-mail and tested amongst Kallingal and the cooks from Paccini’s kitchen, who are all culinary students from the Portland area. When the winning recipe is chosen, the student will be taken in to the kitchen to provide specific instructions for the cooks, ensuring that the dish is prepared just right.

In addition to the prize money, a photo of the winning student will also be displayed in the restaurant, accompanied by a bio, interesting facts and a background of the dish.

So, what will the winning Paccini recipe be like? Well, for starters, it needn’t be only Italian food. Kallingal is confident that the recipe with the most soul will likely be the winner of the contest.

“We are just looking for comfort food.  That can be anything, from any different ethnic cuisine, as long as it is delicious and makes you feel good.  It can be a baked item, a dessert, an entree, anything. It might be a delicious chili or cupcake…anything!  We are looking for dishes that are imaginative and original, but also simple and that can be made beforehand or quickly.  I want to keep it open so students can use their creativity,” Kallingal said.      

He stresses that although the creative aspects of this dish are extremely encouraged, it is also important that the ingredients are easily obtainable. The winning recipe will also be written in a clear, concise and detailed manner so when the cooks test the recipe, it will be easily recreated.

Kallingal, himself a former student at Portland State, appreciates that PSU is abundant with thriving talent. In the first installment of this recipe contest (he intends on having more in the future), he hopes to allow students to share their passion with the rest of their community, using Paccini as an easel for their culinary art.

“The Recipe Exchange is one of many programs that Paccini features to showcase student talent. We feature all student art on our walls, we employ students as cooks, bartenders and servers, and we host student bands and open mic nights. It is my goal to use the restaurant as a stage for student talent.  I believe one of the greatest resources that we have at this location is the talent and creativity of the students, and this is a way of showcasing that,” Kallingal said. ?