Man With Neck Tattoo Not Sure What To Do After Being Fired From Cat’s Cradle

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CHAPEL HILL, NC—Fired Monday from his job as a bouncer at Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro’s premier live music venue, neck-tattoo owner Greg Martin says he has “no idea what’s next.”

“I thought there was this clear path: get a neck tattoo, work at Cat’s Cradle, and…,” Martin said, his voice trailing off as he looked down at the ground. “It seemed so simple. I feel like I have these skills, and this neck tattoo, and they’re going to be wasted.”

Martin, who turned 33 last week and was fired for smoking his boss’s marijuana without permission, commissioned his tattoo three years ago after breaking up with his then girlfriend, Maggie Reinhart, and chose for the design an artistically ambiguous image of a bat flying toward anyone facing him.

“I chose it because I was done with that monster,” said Martin, referring to Reinhart, his tattoo bulging over his Adam’s apple. “And because it symbolized me taking control of my life for once.”

Since getting his tattoo, Martin has had almost no agency in his life whatsoever, all of his decisions having been made for him by those repulsed by his body art, making his new job search more difficult.

“Greg interviewed for our shift manager position,” said Ron Osman, the owner of Chapel Hill’s Noodles & Co. franchise. “He was perfectly qualified, but my daughter wouldn’t even look at him. And she’s seventeen. She just kept whispering, ‘throat needle, throat needle…’”

Osman, leaning back in his chair, gently ran his fingers along his esophagus and stared at the wall.

“That’s gotta’ hurt something awful,” he finally added.

Others, however, made more positive statements on Martin’s choice to get the tattoo.

“I don’t regret giving Greg the tat,” said tattoo artist Paulie Andrews of Ascension Tattoo in Chapel Hill. “But I told him, ‘neck tats are only for tattoo artists and that shmuck Travis Barker in Blink-182.’ He yelled at me and said I sounded like his ex-girlfriend. That pretty much showed me he’s a neck tattoo kind of guy.”

Surprisingly, even Pulse and Players, staple nightclubs of Chapel Hill, have rejected Martin’s applications to work as a bouncer.

“I like Greg. I really do,” said Pulse’s owner Keith Swope. “But what would we do if he got out of control with a customer? You can’t just punch a guy with a neck tattoo.”

Swope looked over his shoulder at his two brothers, Jim and Nathan, with whom he co-owns the club.

“We all agreed we’d have to kill a guy like that to stop him,” he added. “And none of us are ready for a thing like that.”

Martin, who has nearly given up his search, says that if all else fails, he hopes to find write a memoir for Vice entitled “Neck Tattoos: Why I Should Have Saved my Trophy for the End of the Race.”

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The Study Abroad Fair is Decadent and Depraved

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Written under duress by Trapper P. Johnson [2014]

CHAPEL HILL, NC– I stumbled out of the NU bus around 10:30 am, pulling my hat low to block out the offensive morning sun. The Student Union was predictably overcrowded–I took up my usual perch in the far corner near the art gallery. From here I could observe, drink in the top-dollar eye show, the aimless comings and goings. I pulled a flask out of my briefcase and took a long swig of the Dewar’s I had filled it with. Good stuff, and fiery. I had yet to foresee the chaos that would come later.

I was waiting for the gruesome carnival to begin–the Fall 2014 Study Abroad Fair. My editor had yet to come around on me–pinning me under this assignment like a squirming insect was a bum rap. What the hell? As if you could walk into any two-bit newspaper office and slip in the name of The Minor and they’d have half a clue of what you were talking about…but they held the checkbook, and I held the pen.

So I was doomed to cover an exhibition of human monstrosity, self-titled world travelers wandering from stall to stall and professing their enlightenment. They were bums disguised as Buddhas, buried so far up their own asses that they were choking on their own excrement, spitting it out on their shoes and proclaiming it holy.

I was halfway through the Dewar’s and had started browsing the newspaper headlines. Deaths everywhere, airstrikes, melting ice caps and imploding celebrity careers. The house of cards was being blown over and the people voted for American Idols on the TV set. I ripped up the paper in disgust, throwing bits of it around me and laughing manically, feverishly. I chewed a ragged strip for the taste, but it didn’t do much and I spit it out. Soon the whiskey was gone and I was feeling the urge to prowl…

Eleven am was nearing and I knew it was time to kick myself into gear, lest I succumb under the monstrous weight of self-righteousness that I knew would soon be thrown at me. A quick visit to the men’s room to cleanse my karma…I had a pocketful of oxycodone, mescaline tablets, Xanax bars. The mescaline I took first, accounting for the delayed reaction that would rearrange my headspace. I decided to save the pills for later, when I was really in the thick of it.

From the moment I stumbled out of that bathroom, wiping my hands on my khakis, I was in their world, playing by their rules…these were the people worth hunting, worth crucifying. I could smell their terror as I entered the fair, alcohol sweating out of my body and down my chest. The rows and rows of triptychs spread across the room in neat lines, like gravestones. I latched onto the nearest presence, who also seemed the least fascist, and whispered in his ear.

“Some shit this is, huh?”

He looked into my drunken eyes with the fear of a wild beast trapped at his watering hole.

“There’s a lot of…great options here, that’s for sure.”

“Let me tell you something about study abroad fairs,” I said, leaning closer and pulling my shades to the front of my nose. “They’re veritable cesspools of the damned. One minute you’re reading brochures and the next they’ve got you on your ass, pumping you full of bullshit until you’re shelling out 10K to have an Austrian family stuff you and mount your head over their fireplace.”

My companion seemed perturbed by my assertions, backing away and pretending to check out a booth for Study Abroad Australia. The monstrous spiders of Melbourne would eat his eyes, I foresaw, and later the Aboriginals would drag him out in the desert and flay him, making libations with his blood to dark, musky gods.

And then we would airstrike them.

I knew the mescaline was kicking in and bringing the prophetic visions…the aisles twisting like serpents, horrifically mutilated vendors leaning out and peddling bits of human flesh and viscera. Someone handed me a brochure; I tried to make it out, and decided that it was an advertisement to study abroad in Hell itself, with glossy pictures of brimstone stalactites lining the edges of the flimsily folded paper.

The mescaline was pummeling the back of my eyes and soon I was in the corner of the room, hastily swallowing the oxycodone and Xanax. From there I descended further into rank madness, swallowed on all sides by mad gorillas eager to be spoon-fed toxic culture by international snake-oil salesmen and academic terrorists…my memory was flaky and peeling, though my scribbled journal notes capture the essence of the remaining events:

– Vomited on a pair of leather loafers, not mine. Return to bathroom, gathering thoughts and organizing shattered headspace. Wandering the aisles again, asking which study abroad experience could help me regain my childlike sense of wonder…cold stares serving as sufficient response.

– Spoke briefly with spokesman for study abroad Spain. My broken Spanish sounds like Korean. Realize it is actually broken Korean…my collection of brochures and pamphlets is growing rapidly. I hand them to the nearest booth…she returned them….

– The grotesque mob is closing in, choking; I worm my way through this intestinal tract of futile academic possibilities. Vomit again, but this time in the corner where it goes unnoticed long enough for me to sneak away and hide in the shadow of a six-foot tall Arab (or Ecuadorian? Inconclusive…).

– Bad, bad vibes. My karma is lost on some Western highway, hitchhiking towards Nirvana…faces blending together like running water and sheets of blood…drowning in the nightmare swamp, I make it to three more booths before swiping a wallet and calling it quits.

***

Thirty minutes later I was sitting near the Davis ATMs, scraping my scattered brain off the hot pavement. I lit a cigarette, vomited once more in the bushes, and was off.

As the bus pulled up to the curb and I saw my distorted reflection in its windows, I realized what was perhaps the most disturbing part of the ordeal–with my pile of study abroad brochures, name tag, and notebook, my face the color of processed meat… I was exactly the same filth that I had been pushing away, mocking. The lecherous weight of the realization filled me with dread, haunting me as the bus carried me to my apartment, haunting me as I write these words…foul, foul evil at the Study Abroad Fair…

Gloriana and Earl Sweatshirt to Perform Segregated Homecoming Concerts

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CHAPEL HILL, NC–In appeal to the diverse musical tastes on campus, the Carolina Union Activities Board announced that this year’s homecoming will feature two racially segregated concerts.

White American country band Gloriana and African American hip-hop artist Earl Sweatshirt will perform back-to-back in Memorial Hall, with a small period in between when white audience members can leave through the front door to Cameron Avenue, allowing African Americans to enter through the back.

“We are incredibly excited to offer a wide variety of music for this year’s homecoming in a new format,” said Israel Marcus, President of CUAB. “One where the separate but equal tastes of all parties can be enjoyed.”

Marcus said that some on campus have felt neglected by past “urban” homecoming performers and will feel more comfortable with the new segregated homecoming.

“Gloriana is just a really safe, fun, family friendly act. They’re my kind of people,” said Trisha Erin, white sophomore History major.

The event, Marcus said, will make campus happy.

“People want different things, and this way everyone gets what they want,” he said.

To publicize the event, CUAB has put posters for Earl Sweatshirt in the entrance area of the bottom of Lenoir and for Gloriana around the rest of campus.

“It’s not that we don’t want to have a concert where the races are mixed,” said Marcus. “It’s just that we shouldn’t force certain students to go to an event they probably aren’t interested in anyway. We are really just talking about freedom. For everyone.”

Marcus said that, leading up to the event, white students can purchase tickets at the main Memorial Hall box office and African Americans can purchase them from the side office.

Date at McAlister’s Deli Not a Date

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CHAPEL HILL, NC—Responding to questions about how his “big date had gone,” Eric Paulson, freshmen undecided major, confirmed with disappointment that his 3:30 pm Tuesday lunch date with classmate Samantha Richards at McAlister’s deli on Franklin Street had not, in fact, been a date.

Paulson met Richards in History 140, The World Since 1945, and had recently been assigned a group project with her. The two decided to meet at McAlister’s after an exchange on Facebook that began at 1:13 a.m. Sunday night, when Paulson, in a message he had been crafting on and off since late that afternoon, asked Richards if she wanted to meet to discuss the project “and just get to know each other.”

Richards replied midday Monday and and suggested McAlister’s because “it should be easy to talk there.” Paulson asked for her number “in case something came up.”

That evening, Paulson regaled his suitemates with a lightly doctored version of the exchange, highlighting how he “got Samantha’s number” and was “getting lunch with her tomorrow.”

“If this date goes well, I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but I think we are both feeling something special,” he told them.

At approximately the same time, Richards entered the mid-afternoon rendezvous into her Google Calendar as “Project Meeting.”

On Tuesday, Paulson hurried back to his Hinton James dorm from his noon HIST 140 lecture, where he had waved at Richards before sitting on the opposite side of the lecture hall. He did the 15 push-ups he had performed daily since he decided to ask Richards “on a date” and took a thorough shower.

Listening to the “We Made It” freestyle by Drake on repeat, Paulson dried off and flexed in the mirror of his securely locked dorm room. He chose a long-sleeved polo shirt and khaki shorts for his meeting with Richards, altering his usual look by tucking his shirt in and wearing the analog watch he kept on the top shelf of his closet for special occasions.

Before he left the dorm, Paulson put on his Sperrys, which were still wet from a failed attempt to wash them in the laundry.

He arrived at McAlister’s fifteen minutes early, and decided to walk to the Arboretum and back to avoid looking anxious about the meeting. When Paulson returned from his fidgeting loop of the upper Quad at 3:34 pm, Richards was waiting outside McAlister’s Deli in a white long-sleeved t-shirt and Nike running shorts, her hands on the straps of her large backpack.

As they entered McAlister’s, Paulson paused to hold the door open for Richards, who, oblivious to his intentions, reached up to grab the door as well. They hesitated in the doorway, awkward eye contact compounding the miscommunication.

Paulson wondered what he was doing wrong while Richards wondered what he was doing.

As they approached the register, Paulson debated whether he should offer to pay for his date’s meal. He stood close behind Richards in consternation while she ordered sweet tea and a fruit cup. When the cashier asked if Richards’s order was complete, Paulson spoke up, “Do you want to order together or separately?”

Richards, who had already gotten out her wallet, looked at him in confusion.

“Umm…separately?” she said. “Why would we order together?”

Paulson cast about for words.

“Well, I think it‘s easier for them if we use the same number and order together, or something like that,” he said. “I guess it doesn’t matter though.”

After Paulson made his order, forgoing his usual choice of the Big Nasty for the more conservatively named California Turkey Ruben, he suggested that they eat upstairs, hoping the secluded location in an already deserted restaurant would restore romance to the mid-afternoon meal.

Richards said that she would prefer to eat outside in case her friend Caroline, who had just gotten out of class in Graham Memorial, wanted to say hello. Unsure how to interpret Richards casual approach to dates, Paulson acquiesced to the arrangement.

Once outside, Paulson avoided eye contact, stalled on how to start-up the conversation. Breaking the silence, Richards asked when Luke, the third member of their project group, was going to join them.

“Why would Luke come?” asked Paulson, fatuously.

“I thought we were going to work on the group project,” replied Richards.

“We can,” Paulson responded, “I mean it’s not like this is a group meeting—”

“It’s not?” interjected Richards.

The ambiguity of his fateful first Facebook message sunk in. Paulson saw all of his past actions in light of his emotional cowardice, of the poverty of his self-expression. He saw the ridiculousness of his fantasies, of the Tuesday afternoon he left open to endless possibility, hoping to hold hands as they walked back to South Campus, to kiss her as he left her at Craige, of the condoms he bought at Walgreens, of his entire life, and he wondered why anyone would ever eat at McAlister’s.

“Yeah, I’ll text Luke,” he said.

Sigma Chi Organizes “Puke and Rally” for Thom Tillis Senate Campaign

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CHAPEL HILL, NC—At their house in Fraternity Court, UNC-Chapel Hill’s chapter of the Sigma Chi fraternity hosted a “Puke and Rally” to raise money for Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Thom Tillis last Friday.

The event, planned by the fraternity’s philanthropy committee, was announced in invitations to “rage face and raise funds” that were sent to alumni, friends, and even Thom Tillis himself.

“The brothers of Sigma Chi are all about Thom’s values,” said Bradley Heller, Sigma Chi President. “We wanted to show our support without having to waste a Friday night doing stupid shit like canvasing.”

The event kicked off around 7:00 pm with an opening statement from Heller, who focused on Tillis’ success as a public figure and political role model. A roar of approval followed Heller’s remarks, driven by anxious desire to black out as soon as possible. The three kegs were simultaneously tapped, and, as the final notes of “The Star-Spangled Banner” faded from brother Ryan Gallagher’s portable speakers, the beer began to flow.

The political spirit hung heavy in the air, carried by Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird.” Around the perimeter of the trampled yard, the Sigma Chi pledges collected solo cups and crushed beer cans, black trash bags heavy on their backs. Cries of “Tillis forever!” periodically rose from the general screaming.

The awaited first puke happened about an hour into the rally, once the sizeable crowd had already spread into the Sigma Chi house.

Terry Fontanelli, sophomore, had been aggressively circling the lawn, chanting “Fuck liberals,” just seconds before projectile vomiting on those standing around him. All gathered and rejoiced as Fontanelli continued to dry heave in the dirt.

“Things really started heating up once Terry blew it,” said Heller. “You can’t have a rally without a good puke first. Soon all of us were throwing up around the yard. We were settled in for the long haul.”

As the rally degenerated into a house party, a grey Buick pulled up slowly to the curb. Thom Tillis, in a full suit, stepped out. To cries of elated, boozy disbelief, he made his way across the vomit-strewn lawn, past picket signs lying checkered with muddy footprints in the grass.

“When Thom walked up to the house I was like ‘Damn, cops’,” said sophomore brother Will Paxton. “But I knew he was chill as soon as he bit into a PBR with his teeth. He tore that shit open like a gazelle’s throat.”

Tillis tossed the empty can into the grass, loosened his tie, and quickly downed several more beers.

Sitting on the house’s front steps, the veteran politician found a bong in his hands, and fumbled with the lighter before asking for help from a passing brother. One witness saw Tillis attempt a keg stand outside. Tillis then stumbled to the porch railing and vomited all over pledge Richard Pratt’s shoes.

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Tillis performs a keg stand

“He started to apologize, but then he saw my pledge pin,” said Pratt. “He leaned in close to my face, flicked my nipple and whispered that I should get him another beer before he face-fucked me.”

Tillis did not attempt another keg stand, letting his first 30-second run stand as testament to his skill. As darkness fell, the action moved to dance floor inside. Hazy clouds of cigarette smoke twisted above.

Soon after Tillis came inside, he was holding a joint, passed to him by a young man in a full tuxedo. He took a long draw. The speaker of the NC House floated, lost in a sea of booty shorts and tank tops, as the mid-2000s Lil Wayne iTunes playlist made by senior brother Kurt Lear thundered in the crowded room. Tillis felt the vibrations and nodded his head woozily.

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Tillis smoking a joint

“He was lurking in a corner of the dance floor and groping all around him, muttering to himself,” said sophomore Beth Walker. “He was just so sweaty.”

Tillis found his way to a back couch, where he made space to sit in between a couple making out and a man in a bucket hat putting out cigarettes on the upholstery. He tried to make small talk, but the lyrics to Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop” ran through his head in loops and prevented any coherent thoughts from forming.

How long he sat there, Tillis couldn’t say. But suddenly, as if waking from a dream, he found himself pulling a Sigma Chi composite photo off the wall, climbing onto a chair, and smashing the large framed picture against the floor with all his strength. The music quickly faded; the partygoers stepped back and formed an unsure circle around the intoxicated politician. Finding the will to speak, Tillis gave brief remarks.

“This kind of support makes all the difference in a close campaign like this,” Tillis said, leaning heavily against the bar with a Busch light in hand, his tie knotted around his reddened forehead to keep sweat out of his eyes. “It’s important to show the pussy liberals that Thom Tillis knows how to puke and rally.”

Stepping through the shards of glass from the broken composite, he then wandered back into the dance floor.

The beers took their toll on Thom Tillis; impressions soon came to him only as snapshots, and he seemed dazed by the flashbulb as he wandered from scene to scene. He was in a lawn chair, making lewd comments about Democratic opponent Kay Hagan’s breasts. Then he was eating a Cosmic Cantina burrito while sitting in the upstairs bathtub with a girl he’d never met, watching her throw up in the toilet beside him. Later, he was lying on the couch, pouring warm beer on the floor so the pledges would have more to mop in the morning.

These things Thom Tillis remembered. Others, he forgot.

Tillis left just before dawn, smashing one final beer can against a wall before stumbling out to his poorly parked Buick. He revved his engine, laid on his horn, and sped off into the rising sun.

The event raised over $300 for Tillis’s campaign, all of which will be sent to Tillis’s office next week. Tillis has yet to comment on how he intends to use the money. As for the brothers of Sigma Chi, however, future support of Tillis is uncertain.

“He’s just not the kind of dude you want at your parties,” said Heller. “I’m all for the right to bear arms, but when Thom Tillis is waving a pistol in your kitchen and threatening to shoot a pledge who pronounced his name wrong, something’s definitely not chill.”

Ethnically Ambiguous Freshman Continues to Succeed Socially

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CHAPEL HILL, NC—Six weeks into his freshman year, ethnically ambiguous freshman Michael Laurence continues to be well liked amongst his acquaintances and classmates.

Laurence, who grew up in Holly Springs, North Carolina, and whose peers describe him as “tan and sort of Hawaiian-looking,” was welcomed into the Carolina community almost immediately upon arriving in Chapel Hill.

“I really like hanging out with Mike,” said Greg Damascus, a freshmen biology major who has teamed up with Laurence to work on the Carolina Microfinance Initiative in the Campus Y. “He really adds a different perspective to our meetings, you know? His background just gives him a lot of cultural knowledge that we’re, like, pretty sure we’ll be able to tap into.”

Upperclassmen have also taken a liking to Laurence, who is a frequent invitee to off-campus gatherings and events.

“Mike came to my house for a party last week,” said Brianna Corcoran, junior Global Studies major. “He seemed super pumped when I was telling him about how I’m studying abroad in New Delhi next semester. Hopefully he can give me some insider tips.

“He’s Indian, right?” she added.

According to Laurence’s Ehringhaus suitemates, their ethnically ambiguous friend has taken them to Cosmic Cantina on Franklin numerous times since the start of the year. Laurence will often use Spanish to ask the cashier how he is doing.

“It’s really cool to see Mike get in touch with his roots,” said Laurence’s roommate Brian Meacham. “I think Cosmic is just a little taste of home for him. Those guys are probably great reminders of all the cool people he said goodbye to in Panama or wherever.”

Laurence’s ethnicity has been speculatively debated by some, especially small groups of undergraduate women at social gatherings. Laurence’s athleticism in particular, which he utilized on his high school’s lacrosse team and now on the UNC’s Darkside Ultimate Frisbee team, has emerged as a salient issue.

“It’s not that he couldn’t be certain ethnicities because he’s so athletic,” said sophomore history major Ashley Frankel, who feels confident that Laurence is Samoan. “But it means something, right? I’m not going to feel guilty for saying something that’s true. You know what I mean?”

Until now Laurence has remained oblivious to the intrigue surrounding his ethnicity, kept busy by photo shoots for UNC advertisements and brochures.

The Weigh-In: Student Congress Vacancies

Nineteen out of the 41 seats in UNC Student Congress are vacant. What’s your take?

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“46% vacant? 46% slash in funding. Cut it up.”

Thom Tillis, Speaker of the House, North Carolina General Assembly

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“My resume is a little thin. How many of those can I take?”

Parker Bluefort, Political Science, ’17

“Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

“But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate–we can not consecrate–we can not hallow–this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us–that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion–that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain–that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom–and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

“Those are just my thoughts on it.”

Abraham Lincoln, Ph.D. candidate, Information and Library Science