‘Fiorello’ musical preview

November 13, 2015 9:00 AM


Drake University will be swarming with political figures over the next few months, as the second Democratic Debate will be held on campus on Nov. 14. Candidates flock to Iowa, trying to get people’s vote.

The Drake Theater Department is banking on that buzz with their performance of “Fiorello!” a musical based off the life of Fiorello LaGuardia, one of New York City’s most famous mayors.

The musical follows Fiorello’s life, from his years as a young man fighting in World War I to a successful politician.

The play spans about 18 years, starting in 1916 and ending in the mid-1930s. In this amount of time, the actors are able to tell the true ups and downs of their real- life characters.

Junior musical theatre student Allison Buol plays Fiorello’s wife Thea.

“I think it’s fun to do a musical that takes over such a long period of time, because then I can really experience a full character journey,” Buol said. “I get to start as this girl who is fighting for women’s rights, fall in love, watch him come back from war and then get married. I really get to feel this full range of emotions.”

Karla Kash, the head of musical theatre for Drake University and the director of the play, spoke of her appreciation for the history the play brings.

“I love doing theater that is non-fiction,” Kash said. “It’s great for our students because they get to do a lot of research and really delve into that history. We actually started rehearsals with two days of each actor doing a presentation on themes surrounding the show. Doing a show like this in an educational setting really adds another layer in educational component that is really important to us.”

Buol was just as excited as her director to be a part of this play.

“There are a lot of good female parts in this show. I was excited about that prospect going into auditions, knowing that there were a lot of female opportunities,” Buol said. “It’s really cool to be able to do a Pulitzer Prize-winning show, because there’s only eight musicals that won the award. Just the fact that it’s actually a historical story is really cool. We’re telling a true story that happened about a real person who has a New York airport named after them. It’s exciting to have something like that on my resume.”

Sophomore Nathan Smith plays the role of Fiorello.

“It’s been interesting because this was the first character that I’ve ever played that was an actual real-life person,” Smith said. “It’s changed my perception on creating a character but still holding the integrity of them as a person, while still having my own creative artistic approach to the character. That’s such an important part of theater, to create a character. It’s about finding the nice balance between who they actually were and at the same time you are putting on a musical, and it’s like that Broadway style that you have to put on. It’s just about making sure you have both of those parts.”

Theplaywillbeachallengefor the actors to portray moments in history that actually happened. They will face that challenge in front of an audience. “Fiorello!” will begin playing Nov. 19-22 at 7:30 p.m. There will be a matinee show at 2 p.m. on Nov. 22. Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for students and senior citizens.

Iowa native performs smooth jazz for Des Moines audience

8:00 AM


Last Wednesday, jazz vocalist and composer Keri Johnsrud performed her set in the Basement at the Des Moines Social Club.

Johnsrud, a native of Conrad, Iowa, writes songs based on her environment. Simple experiences like conversations with friends or seeing a show on TV trigger melodic lines rather than lyrical ones for Johnsrud, meaning the notes of the song are inspired before the words.

“I get inspiration from anywhere, everywhere around me,” Johnsrud said. “You never know what’s going to happen.”

Other influences on Johnsrud’s music include personal idols like Shirley Horn, Billy Joel and her own musical family members.

“I’ve always had a love of all kinds of music, but jazz was something that I pretty much grew up with,” Johnsrud said.

After graduating from the University of Iowa, she decided to try a career in music in Chicago. This proved to be a motivating move. The encouragement she received from fellow musicians in the Windy City helped her to pursue this career. However, following her dream did not come without its challenges.

“It’s really easy to get overwhelmed in this industry,” Johnsrud said.

For aspiring musicians, Johnsrud advises that artists stick with their passions and avoid making comparisons to other people.

“The most important thing is to be true to who you are and do what you do, and you’ll find an audience for it,” Johnsrud said.

In her home state, the audience gathered in the Basement where the room was lit with hanging lights and allowed for an intimate setting.

Matt “Red” Rebelskey, the Social Club’s technical director, attended the show and noted the versatility of the location. From jazz singers to hip hop performances to plays, the Basement’s mellow atmosphere and bare-bulb lighting allows the area to accommodate a variety of different purposes that may attract wider demographics.

Mickey Davis, the program manager at the Des Moines Social Club, noted the lack of younger attendees.

“Many of the events we host are all ages, and we would love to see more students attend,” Davis said.

Davis advises Drake students to look around campus for flyers, visit the Social Club’s website and check social media for information on upcoming events.

Despite the limited demographic in attendance, for Davis, Wednesday’s event was a success.

“It was great!” Davis said. “I think we’ll bring her back in the spring and try to get a larger turnout, which is a pattern we try to follow with many artists. It can sometimes be hard playing a town where you don’t currently reside, but multiple trips can really build up a fan base, as after every show people tend to tell others about their experience.”

Johnsrud has big ideas for the future, including taking her gig overseas. Compared to these plans and a bustling, jazzy city like Chicago, Des Moines seems more like a fly on the wall. However, Davis brings up a good point: our city is a growing one, with plenty of opportunity to bring in what’s popular elsewhere.

“It’s a good place to live for that stuff if you’re ambitious about finding it and even creating it,” Davis said.

Johnsrud hopes to return to Des Moines in the spring for another performance that will help the talented vocalist establish her sound.

Artistic music videos attract viewers, allow social sharing

November 6, 2015 4:00 PM


Music videos have a long history, dating back to the 1920s. Throughout the years, music videos have served the creative world in several ways. With the rise of popular music, they began to take a different form.

In our modern world, where most have access to everything through their phones, finding music and sharing it with friends is easier than ever.

Sam Fathallah, a creative filmmaker and junior advertising major, enjoys finding new artists and sharing their music.

“Indie bands are a lot of the stuff I listen to,” Fathallah said. “Most of the time I listen to music through Spotify. What will happen is (that) me and my friends who have similar music tastes might find something really interesting that is totally something we’ve never heard before. They’ll share it with me, and I’ll be like, ‘Oh, that’s a cool song,’ and I’ll share something back. That’s kind of the method that I always use for finding new music to listen to.”

The thing with music streaming services like Spotify and Pandora is that not everyone uses them. Websites like YouTube, Vimeo and Reddit are more shareable on social media.

Jeff Inman, professor of magazines, has followed the evolution of songs and music videos.

“Your traditional radio station…was the number one avenue for marketing for a song to begin with,” Inman said. “Then they went to other forms of marketing a song. Pandora still helps, but it allows people to niche a lot, so there’s not that vast exposure that once existed when 1500 radio stations played your song every hour on the hour.”

The music video has evolved into a promotional piece for artists, who make most of their money from concerts and merchandise instead of the actual songs.

“The music video still matters- perhaps more than ever-because people are engaging with videos through Vimeo, Vevo and YouTube,” Inman said. “Then they’re shared socially, which then becomes a part of the social conversation.”

Senior Cole Norum, a News and Internet major, creates music videos for artists such as LT Mentality. He believes that music videos help place a musician within a cultural experience, not just a musical one.

“Take, for example, Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling’ music video. The shot compositions are unfettered. The lighting is striking and visually compelling,” Norum said. “And Drake is solo in almost all of the shots, centered in frame and thus easily removable from the greater context of the piece. But the thing is, there wasn’t a ton of context in the first place. It was purposely made for memes and Vines. Within hours of its release, there was a litany of references to clips of Drake’s dancing. The video wasn’t made to be experienced as a whole, but rather consumed in bits and pieces, in pockets of time here and there. It’s brilliant.”

Music videos are created to grab the attention of the consumer. Technological advances have made it possible for everyone with a smartphone to make a video. Therefore, mainstream and indie artists alike can create a music video and be shareable in today’s world.

Hoverboards prioritize entertainment over practicality

2:00 PM


After walking around campus for just a couple of minutes, anyone can see that students use a variety of transportation methods to get to class. Bicycles, skateboards, scooters, and now hoverboards are all favored types of transport.

The hoverboard has just recently become popular with students, and it’s easy to see why. All you have to do is step on, lean in whatever direction you need, and off you go. The only way to steer is by shifting your weight, and they’re powered by electricity.

LONGBOARDS are a fast way to get around, while hoverboards primarily provide entertainment. PHOTO BY CASSANDRA BAUER | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

LONGBOARDS are a fast way to get around, while hoverboards primarily provide entertainment. PHOTO BY CASSANDRA BAUER | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

It takes some time to get the hang of it- good balance is required. The first time you use it, you’ll be inching your way around.

How it works is that the device has motion sensors that feed data into a computer to help you stay upright. The computer then figures out how to work the motor by using that information from the sensors.

The board can sense when the wheel needs to pivot or when the user wants to accelerate.

“I don’t use mine for transportation to get around campus. I mostly use mine just for the fun of moving around on it rather than transportation purposes,” first-year Katie Nguyen said.

Moving around on a hoverboard takes some time to get used to, but once you do, it’s fairly easy to direct it to where you want to go with the slightest pressure. One con, however, is that it’s heavy to carry around- Nguyen’s is 26 pounds.

“I don’t really look at my hover board and think transportation, I look at it as a type of entertainment,” Nguyen said.

She says that one of the main reasons for that is because of its weight. It’s fairly heavy to carry around when you’re not using it, and doesn’t fit easily into a backpack.

“Although hoverboards can go on different types of terrains, I don’t think it’s best to ride it when weather is so unpredictable like here in Iowa,” Nguyen said.

The hoverboards can go from six to fifteen miles per hour depending on which brand you

buy, and usually takes a few hours to completely charge. There’s only one place in Des Moines that sells them, called 515 Hoverboards. They’ll even let you test drive it before you buy it. The price ranges from about $400 to $649.

“I would recommend a hoverboard as a gadget that is just fun to have and play around with but if someone wants to use it for transportation purposes then go ahead,” said Nguyen.

We’re not quite up to par with the hoverboards from Back to the Future Part II, but give it a couple of years and I’m sure we’ll start to see these replaced with real hoverboards.

Another favored form of transportation is longboards, which is a trend that has been picking up in recent years. Many students can be seen zipping around campus, and they’re usually much faster than the hoverboard users.

“It’s in vogue right now. So hipster points,” said Hudson Webber, a sophomore. “I also like to think it improves my sense of balance.”

Longboards are different from regular skateboards because they are around 38 inches instead of 30, which makes them more stable at higher speeds. The softer wheels also have a better grip and are better at making turns.

“Longboarding is super efficient. I can leave five minutes early, instead of ten. It’s just much faster,” said Webber.

Learning how to make your way on a longboard can take longer than learning how to use a hoverboard, and they’re similar in the fact that they cannot be used in rough weather. They’re also heavy to carry around.

“I can’t ride in the rain and it’s annoying lugging this thing around indoors. I have to ride slowly when walking with one of my friends,” adds Webber.

Regardless of your choice of transportation, I’m sure it’s a lot easier than walking- just know that us walkers are definitely jealous.

Caucus wall provides political information, interactivity

1:00 PM


The state of Iowa is a political hub during election years. One of the perks of Drake University is its proximity to downtown Des Moines and all of the ways on- and off-campus to get involved in politics whether by interning, volunteering or just showing up as a spectator to events.

Already this year, several big names have visited the Des Moines area, and more will be on campus this November and early second semester.

THE IOWA CAUCUSES draw national attention and have brought dozens of presidential candidates to the state in their efforts to win the caucuses. In light of recent candidate visits and political opportunities, the Iowa Caucus Center has been established in Drake’s Olmsted Center with interactive elements including sticky notes and push pins. PHOTO BY ALICIA KANG | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

THE IOWA CAUCUSES draw national attention and have brought dozens of presidential candidates to the state in their efforts to win the caucuses. In light of recent candidate visits and political opportunities, the Iowa Caucus Center has been established in Drake’s Olmsted Center with interactive elements including sticky notes and push pins. PHOTO BY ALICIA KANG | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

On the weekend of Nov. 24, the Jefferson-Jackson dinner was held in Des Moines. There, many Drake students had the opportunity to be in the presence of Democratic frontrunners like Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

If you have not seen the candidates yet and don’t know how to get involved, a wall all about politics-specifically, the caucuses-has gone up in Olmsted to the right of the coffee shop, just past the Student Life Center office.

“The Iowa Caucus Center is a one-shop-stop for students to get all their information regarding the caucuses and other general political information,” said Student Body Vice President Zachary Blevins. “Since (Drake) primarily attracts students from out of state, most of us have never caucused before and this is our way of getting the political conversation started.”

This wall has interactive information about the candidates and has spots for you to sign up and get involved, or even write your email down if you want more information about opportunities within Drake revolving around politics.

“There are three main sections to the wall,” Blevins said. “The first (would be) the computer in the center of the wall because students can surf the Iowa Caucus Project website, while the TV will be scrolling with additional information and will broadcast political events. (Second) is the pushpin poll, which is kind of a play off the corn poll that they do at the Iowa State Fair. The (third) one is the discussion wall. It is an easy way to get the students who aren’t heavily involved in politics to join in on the conversation.”

The point of the specific interactive parts of the wall was to get students involved with the caucuses, but also to mimic the way the caucuses run, because they are very involved and interactive.

“I like looking at the pushpin wall and seeing where each candidate stands among Drake students,” said first-year Liz Bregenzer. “It’s interesting to see which way people are planning to caucus, even though it is anonymous.”

“(The push pin poll) allows students whether they are Democratic, Republican or Independent to show who they are supporting,” said Blevins. “In a way, we are getting a poll, a very unscientific poll, but one that is directly focused on where students are looking. If you try to look at national data polling, it is just collective data; there is nothing that is really looking directly at students and seeing who is catching fire with them.”

The wall was put up in Olmsted in hopes that students would acknowledge it when they were walking by or getting their coffee.

“Olmsted is a high traffic area for the whole student body, whether you live on- or off- campus,” said Blevins.

“The wall is not necessarily something I would take time out of my day to go look at, but the information is large and clear and I have read it while waiting in line for my coffee,” said first-year Hanna Friedrich. “I think that was more of the point and one that they accomplished well.”

The Iowa Caucus Center was made to help students learn more about the caucuses and show them that it does not take much effort to get involved.

“The wall is a starting point to get a political dialogue going across campus,” Blevins said. “The Iowa Caucus process is affecting campus and will continue to affect us until they happen, and it is important for the student body to utilize it as an academic experience they might only get once in their lifetime.”

“Last Week Tonight” host focuses on issues, blends comedy

12:00 PM


Mass media have unprecedented influence across the globe. Media affect peoples’ thoughts and actions more than nearly any other force mankind has come to face.

Comedian John Oliver helps lead audiences through the media storm on his show “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” with professionalism, tact and lots of sarcasm.

JOHN OLIVER, “Last Week Tonight” host, has become a media staple in his focus on little-known political issues. PHOTO BY LIBBY SOLEM | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

JOHN OLIVER, “Last Week Tonight” host, has become a media staple in his focus on little-known political issues. PHOTO BY LIBBY SOLEM | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

“Last Week Tonight” covers the previous week’s events with a healthy dose of satire-anything from salmon cannons to the Canadian election to the refugee crisis.

Beyond the show’s witty banter, Oliver’s coverage has started making a real impact on various social institutions and policy decisions.

On one episode, Oliver bashed mega-churches, particularly televangelists who exploit their audiences for money. To prove how easy it is to bypass US tax law and create a mega-church, Oliver founded his own church on-air, which was able to legally collect thousands of dollars from audience members.

Oliver dissolved the church soon after and donated the money to Doctors Without Borders.

Oliver’s most notable story covered net neutrality. Last year, the FCC proposed new rules that would allow large Internet providers to charge tech companies more money in exchange for faster Internet speeds.

Thousands of people commented on the FCC website after Oliver’s segment aired, crashing the site in the process.

Less than a year later, the FCC voted to pass rules protecting net neutrality.

In many ways, Oliver’s humor works to his advantage. While traditional news sources may be perceived as boring by younger audiences, comedic newscasts are able to keep viewers engaged. This allows more people greater access to education on issues they may not have known about otherwise.

“I love John Oliver because his show sheds light on serious issues in a hilarious context,” said junior magazine media major Molly Longman. “He makes you die laughing about the Russian import embargo, while making you understand and care about it — which is quite a feat.”

Humor certainly does not disqualify a journalist from being reputable, and the proof is in the pudding. Oliver’s unique reporting style has brought attention to obscure issues that are seldom covered on other media outlets.

By bringing attention to these issues, Oliver is able to encourage audience members to take action and make a difference in the topics he discusses.

Oftentimes, humorous news sources are able to convey a message more effectively than other news organizations.

“Jon Stewart was always very careful to be accurate in the actual claims he made. John Oliver is as well,” said politics professor Arthur Sanders. “People who watched The Colbert Report when he formed his own PAC learned much more about PACs than anyone who relied exclusively on traditional network newscasts. John Oliver teaches people about issues every week.”

The entertainment factor of Oliver’s reporting allows him to incorporate tactics traditional reporters cannot use.

These tactics contribute to the depth, thoroughness and discretion used in the stories covered on “Last Week Tonight.” This often makes Oliver’s reporting more successful than that of conventional news reporters.

“One thing that he does that makes him successful is spending an extended amount of time on a single story,” Sanders said. “His review of issues of the week that starts the show does look more like a ‘regular newcast,’ although even there he can spend more time on any story than the networks can. And when he gets to his ‘main story of the day’, he is clearly more like ‘60 Minutes’ than any network newscast.”

In today’s media climate, people are oversaturated with content, particularly millennials. Unable to navigate the tumultuous environment, the younger generation is out of touch with the issues that may influence their lives.

Through his focus and entertaining persona, Oliver makes approaching current events much less daunting.

“I think Oliver stands out because, unlike other late night comedians, he doesn’t just skim over issues. He picks one topic, and makes you really understand it and care about it,” Longman said. “Topics like government surveillance and oil company monopolies are not things you’re going to look into in your down time — unless John Oliver is presenting them to you. Basically, he makes learning about subjects that lack luster fun. He’s like the Bill Nye of the modern, adult world.”

New fall trends bring back old styles, promote comfort

10:00 AM


Ah, the fall season is here once again. The weather is cooler, the leaves have changed from green to colors of the sunset and pumpkin-flavored foods are all the rage once again.

Like the seasons, old fashion trends make their way into our lives. This year, we’re putting away the high-waisted shorts and crop tops of the summer and trading them for oversized sweaters, skinny jeans and boots.

MAGGIE DICKMAN styles her jean dress with a red jacket. PHOTO BY BERTHA BUSH | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

MAGGIE DICKMAN styles her jean dress with a red jacket. PHOTO BY BERTHA BUSH | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

The trends we are seeing this year are reminiscent of decades before: the high-rise trend began in 50s menswear, where the pants sat at the belly button.

That trend made its way in the late 70s, the 80s and early 90s. Oversized sweaters were popular in the 90s as well.

Kelsey Konecky, a senior secondary education major from Lincoln Nebraska, notes that her mom has kept all of her clothes from her past.

“I don’t buy the things that are trendy because they just come back in style and my mom still has her vests from the 70s and the 80s,” she said. “I have these big comfy sweaters because my mom just kept them forever.”

In 2015, it’s all back. This year, ponchos, high-waisted jeans and even pleats have made a comeback. In the fall, comfort is a really important part of what we choose to wear.

Senior public relations major Megan Auren from Apple Valley, Minnesota puts together an outfit centered on pleats.

Kelsey Konecky’s scarf adds a shock of color. PHOTO BY BERTHA BUSH | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

“Pleats are nice in jackets and in skirts. Pleats are beautiful

paired with tights and small heels or short boots-I know short boots are in style this season-so that’s a great option. And then a fitted tucked-in top to accentuate the pleats, and a sweater and jewelry and accessories. Scarves are great.”

We live in a highly technological age where we can find all sorts of inspiration by searching for trends on Pinterest or Instagram.

Maggie Dickman, a junior magazines major from Le Mars, Iowa has a blog and finds ideas from apps, other bloggers and Fashion Week.

“All of those trends stem down from fashion week. There’s autumn and winter (shows) in the spring, so you can start planning ahead, and they can put their collections out. I’d say the biggest thing is studying the trends from fashion week, which a lot of the time are very out there,” Dickman said. “(Learn) how to tie those key pieces, key trends, and (make) them wearable, something that you can put into your own wardrobe without stepping too much outside of the box.”

Dickman has also seen 90s grunge pop back into the scene.

“It’s cool to look back to those and combining your favorite parts about each decade or part of history. When I think about 90s grunge, I think about leather and grungier pieces,” Dickman said. “I just picked up this 70s inspired top, even if it’s that texture or print and something like that contrasting those to kind of give a 70s fun vibe and pairing it with leather and something edgy.”

What everyone seeks in the fall is comfort, and every year it seems to look different from the last.

Drake breaks down walls with Halloween Hoops event

8:00 AM


Last Thursday evening, Drake University hosted Halloween Hoops, an event put on for kids from the surrounding neighborhood.

THE KNAPP CENTER hosted dozens of children and their families last Thursday for the annual Halloween Hoops event. Kids dressed up in costumes, played games and got their faces painted by volunteers. At the end of the night, children got to take home gift bags. For Drake, the event helps to boost community involvement and interaction. PHOTO BY CASSANDRA BAUER | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

THE KNAPP CENTER hosted dozens of children and their families last Thursday for the annual Halloween Hoops event. Kids dressed up in costumes, played games and got their faces painted by volunteers. At the end of the night, children got to take home gift bags. For Drake, the event helps to boost community involvement and interaction. PHOTO BY CASSANDRA BAUER | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Co-sponsored by the NAACP Des Moines Branch and the Student Bar Association, the event took over the Bell Center courts for two chaotic hours.

Kids played pick-up games of basketball scattered across different courts. Little Tike hoops for the younger kids were set up in the middle. Drake undergraduate students volunteered to paint faces.

Available foods included pizza and cookies, juice and water, and the popular carnival classic, cotton candy. Every child received a take away bag filled with donated treats including candy, Drake goodies and crayons from Head Start.

“Last year about 150 to 175 kids came,” said David Walker, a Drake law professor and lead organizer of the event. “This year I’d say it was between 125-150. When you throw a party for the university, you never know how many people will show up.”

The event served as more than simply a fun place for kids to play for a couple hours. The NAACP chapter of Des Moines, Drake Athletics and the Head Start organization all had tables there to speak with the parents and kids who attended.

Although the event focused on serving the kids in the community, the event does a lot for the university as well.

“The Drake community reaches pretty far. It’s important for the university to engage with the community, and this is an opportunity to do so. Kids ages 3 to 11 come onto the campus, a prestigious and beautiful private university,” Walker said. They meet people like the students and faculty and others. They begin to see themselves at a college or university and begin to build some affection for and identification with Drake.”

Emily Rouse, a Public Service Scholar and Drake student, helped organize and volunteer at the event.

This year was her second year of volunteering.



“It went really well,” Rouse said. “I love the event every year. It’s a really great opportunity for the kids to come and have some fun and get to see Drake as a school that they could possibly see themselves going to in the future.”

Rouse said she has enjoyed volunteering at Halloween Hoops in the past. Although the night requires a lot of effort and planning, it is always worth getting connected with the community.

“I’m a Public Service Scholar, so it’s one of our events that we put on, but even if I wasn’t, I would still volunteer at the event and help,” Rouse said. “I love kids and I think it’s just such a great opportunity for Drake to become more involved in the neighboring community, especially Drake Law

School because we aren’t out in the community as much as the other schools might be.”

That is ultimately what the night is about-fostering connections between Drake and the surrounding community.

“It’s about being a good citizen and not being an island with walls around it,” Walker said. “Part of the fun is just providing an event for kids that their parents and organizations like the NAACP also really enjoy, but it’s also a joyful event that serves the community and serves Drake. It’s fun and it’s nice to break down walls.”

Halloween Hoops has become an annual event and Drake has hosted it for the past 20 years. Hopefully Drake will continue to break down walls through this event for many years to come.

FAA opens eyes to the dangers of drones

October 31, 2015 2:00 PM


The first time I saw a drone, I was in a Verizon Wireless store looking at the newest Apple gadgets. Off in the corner, one of the employees was doing a demonstration in the other side of the store.

My first impression of the drone was that it was big and loud. I don’t think I can properly convey how popular it was among the customers. Everyone in the store, including me, was drawn to it, mainly because the noise alone turned heads. I remember the employee, who walked my parents through their new Verizon plan, was a little irritated that the robot distracted us. We had to have him repeat everything a few times.


Pop culture provides adaptable, interactive stories

October 30, 2015 4:00 PM


Pop culture has a huge impact on people’s lives. Whether it be music, movies, books, or any other way of communicating ideas, pop culture surrounds everything we are exposed to.

However simple the topic may seem, it gets complicated in how it’s both reflecting the popular items in our culture, but also creating them.

“Pop culture affects our lives because it both shows what we think about our culture and it gives us ways to think about our culture,” junior Rhetoric and LPS major Beth Macnab said. “So it’s both creating and perpetuating our ideologies.”


Ecuadorian restaurant offers authentic Latin American cuisine

2:00 PM


He moved to America from Ecuador in 1995 and knew he wanted to do one of two things, become a police officer or run his own restaurant.

Cesar Miranda learned to cook at a young age and upon moving to Des Moines began climbing the ladder of the restaurant business, starting out washing dishes.

“I figured why not give it a shot. I started this at such a young age. I only had two choices and I picked what I had been doing the longest,” Miranda said.

Miranda may have started at the bottom, but did what he needed to get to where he is today.

He started with salads, a dish he said almost everyone starts off doing, then elevated to holding other jobs such as kitchen manager and chef.

As a child, Miranda explained that he knew how to fry a couple of things, but most of his knowledge and learning took place after leaving Ecuador. It seemed Miranda was always working for someone else, whether it be as a cook or a kitchen manager, for a little more than 15 years.

All of this changed in 2011 when Miranda decided to open Mi Patria in West Des Moines.

Tucked into a strip mall next to a Gordman’s and a Michaels, Mi Patria offers a pleasant atmosphere inside.

Immediately, the smell of food greets customers. The walls are lined with paintings and miniature traditional Ecuadorian outfits.

“This is the only Ecuadorian restaurant in Iowa,” Miranda said. “I was always working for someone else and it made me want to have my own. I decided to try it, and, well, here we are.”

Customers come from all over the Midwest to get a taste of Mi Patria’s rich flavored plates such as fried plantains or the many pork dishes featured on the menu.

Customers can be guaranteed a taste of traditional Ecuadorian cuisine mixed with homemade dishes that Miranda and his family make themselves for a meal.

“Some people make a trip from Kansas City, Minneapolis and Illinois just to have a meal here,” Miranda said. “It feels good when people make trips just for the food.”

Of course, dishes are put together slightly differently if they were to be served in a restaurant as opposed to at home. However the recipes stay the same.

“We serve traditional Ecuadorian food, but the majority of the recipes are the same recipes we use at home. If you were to visit Ecuador, you would find the same food as we serve here,” Miranda said.

Miranda imports all of his ingredients from Ecuador, as the ingredients here in America just don’t compare or are too expensive to purchase. Even being located in what seems to be the corn capital of the world, Miranda imports Ecuadorian corn, which is larger and white, instead of our traditional yellow sweet corn. Miranda says the corn has less taste than a potato.

“You have to import the ingredients,” Miranda said. “To make it traditional you have to have the same ingredients. By sending my own food I am able to save some money that I wouldn’t have been able to buying it here. We have to go out to Chicago about five or six times a year to pick up our ingredients and bring them back to the restaurant.”

Five to six times a year to pick up goods for a restaurant may seem like not enough ingredients for a restaurant that has a crowd of regulars and constant newcomers, but the food is stored in the restaurant and is kept fresh, as well as sold quickly.

When asked what his favorite dish is, Miranda couldn’t choose.

“We like to cook,” Miranda said. “So, whatever you order, we would be happy to make it. I like every single dish here because like I said everything we make here we make at home. Whatever customers order, we are happy to make it.”

Miranda has only one day a week off-the rest are dedicated to making sure everything runs smoothly at Mi Patria both day and night. He is the main cook in the kitchen who closes orders and makes sure the food goes out the way it is supposed to look and taste.

Mi Patria has been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and and Guy Fieri said “Latin cuisine is perhaps some of the best in the world and while quite popular in the south, it’s great to see it spread with popularity to the north as well.”

Customers can be sure the food being served is nothing short of delicious. With Miranda in the kitchen, he not only cooks, but also makes sure dishes are served looking and tasting how they are supposed to.