Jussi Lähde’s American Dream
by Jarno Forssell
”I dream of achieving three things in my lifetime: one, to make my own movie, two, to interview Michelle Pfeiffer, and three, to play a supporting role in a Star Trek show.” University student of Education Jussi Lähde is an interesting character. A man under thirty who walked into the campaign office of Martti Ahtisaari and, after a successful campaign, eventually became one and only Press Agent to the President. Despite his accomplishments, he still has dreams. ”A person should never fully achieve that which he wants. If someone were to have everything that he/she wants before thirty, it would mean catastrophe for the rest of his/her life,” Jussi comments. He claims to still be in touch with his punk roots, back from the days when he played in the band Gdansk Dog and had hair down to his behind. One reporter comments, ”What is intriguing about Jussi is that he is not from the same mould as all the other young movers and shakers of the future. Jussi is a hic from the forest and he’s made it ! It’s the American dream!”
Jussi has grown up in different rural and not-so-rural towns all over Finland and he credits this as a big help, ”Some people my age may find it amusing, but I am very empathetic to the idea of a countryside spirit and how different Finland is. I hope I someday have the opportunity to write a mental travel guide about Finland.” Having never been a member of any political party before the campaign, Lähde dropped the SDP party immediately after Ahtisaari’s win. He has since supported the campaign of the Young Finns party with a low profile. He finds the world to blame for his party fickleness, ”The left-right division has come to the end of the line. We only have to look at out current Parliament to know that the old division isn’t enough to describe the contentions of the individual representatives. I would rather divide Finns into two groups: republicans and democrats, i.e. those that want to preserve things as they are and those that want renewal.” According to Jussi, Finns still suffer from acute Urho Kekkonen nostalgia. They want thunderclaps, mill letters and sanctions from their president. ”We try to work so that the President begins and encourages discussion, not prohibits it.”
Rock-n-Roll is Dead?
by Miska Rantanen and Samuli Knuuti
The talk about rock being dead is misleading, although many part-time philosophers would like to believe in the synchronicity of the death of rock and their own spiritual death. The opposite is true: rock is all-powerful today – it is everywhere and you can’t escape it. Rock has changed from a form of music into a phase of development we all go through. It begins in the second decade of our lives and never ends. Our parents offer us role models: the Bruce CD in Daddy’s car is an extension of his youth, just like the car that surrounds him is an extension of his manhood. An interesting paradox develops when a rocker adult tries to be a teenager and a rocker teenager tries to act grown up. Our culture no longer supports growing up. Adults are just wrinkly teenagers and young people are no longer respected for their achievements.
But what is rock? In order to understand the general term rock, we must reject rock as a single culture and examine the balance between rock’s two central elements: form and attitude. They aren’t mutually exclusive, but they have been driven farther from each other since rock was born. Rock is best known for its form language. Here is where most music sociologists trip up when they try to analyze the state of popular music. They look too long at the tattooed cliche surface. For them, rock is a continuation that looks something like this: Elvis, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam. In other words, a tour of the gallery of resolute icons, where rock is a costume drama and a puppet show.
On the other end of the spectrum we find those who support the genre’s original concept: rebellion against authority and esthetic norms. This crowd has attitude. They not only fight against classic culture, but also against rock’s own traditions because it has become the same kind of restraining authority. This history of alternative rock could be look something like this: The Beatles, Velvet Underground, Kraftwerk, David Bowie, Public Enemy, Pet Shop Boys and the anonymous techno. Add to these two elements irony (both the understanding of and the lack of) and we have a spectrum with four parts. Being serious is just as constructive as being in form – when you try to sell a way of life, everything is dependent on believability. Irony can also be used as a shield: artists can hide behind it and stick their tongue out at their critics: ”I wasn’t like I was serious, you know. Well, I was sorta, but in a kind of postmodern, ambivalent kind of way. I was kind of like just one possibility, you know.”
Finland’s Lowest Caste
by Jan Erola
They are lazy. They are thieves. They cheat. You can buy alcohol and guns from them. They steal children. Finns call them ”mustalaiset”, the black people. They call themselves Romanys or gypsies. Jane Hagert, an 18 year old gypsy woman, has a hard time going shopping. Her national dress attracts stares and her movements are followed carefully to see if she’ll steal. ”My cousin worked in a clothes store in Helsinki that told her to not let gypsies in. She wouldn’t follow her order to `hit the emergency button right away’ and left what was otherwise a good job,” Jane comments. Dance clubs often tell her she’s not allowed in: We’ve had too much trouble with your kind, they say. Jane wonders aloud, ”Once again I am refused entry because of what someone else has done. Sometimes I get angry because I know that I couldn’t hurt a fly.” Jane works in the Education Administration’s Education Unit for the Romanys. She is a few tests away from being a graduate of a Finnish commercial school. ”It was clear from the start for me that I would go to school,” she says. She thanks her mother for her staunch support.
The University Press has just released a new book by Marketta Ollikainen entitled Vankkurikansan perilliset (Inheritors of the Nomad Nation). In her book, she tries to trace the history of the Romanys, at the same time giving us a glimpse of their current situation in Finland today. Ollikainen feels that Romanys have always had the ability to adapt themselves to their changing environment, provided they have been able to maintain their economic independence. She defends the greatest possible cultural autonomy for the Romany nation, and stresses the importance of education. Finnish attitudes towards the Romanys haven’t changed much since the 1900’s. They still have difficulties finding work and places to live. If they want to keep their job, they must work twice as hard as the others. Romanys are still often heard to say that they think that to be born in Finland is like winning the lottery of life.
New `Morning After’ Pill Faces Opposition
by Miira Lähteenmäki
A new, more effective `morning after’ pill with less harmful side effects has been developed for contraception after intercourse, although the fear of abortion opponents is keeping it off the market. Roussel, a multinational pharmaceutical firm, developed the pill which interrupts pregnancy in the first few days, but is avoiding marketing the product, even in countries that are more liberal about the matter, for fear of an anti-abortion backlash. Tom Larsson of Roussel’s Finnish division comments, ”Fear and misunderstandings have ruined this product’s chances. According to the anti-abortion activists, it is an invention of the devil and they are afraid the pill will eventually be sold freely and people would conduct abortions themselves. This would not be the case, but the matter has blown so far out of proportion that the firm’s management has decided to just stay out of it.” A substance by the name Mifepristone was used before the backlash in Sweden, France and England. Although the pill is used only in the place of a surgeon’s operation, each clinic receives thousands of protest cards daily. Roussel has surrendered the product to the World Health Organization, where testing has been successful. The pill has been found to interrupt conception up to five days after intercourse without any harmful side effects.
Foreigners in the Eyes of the Law
by Jarno Forssell
A Somali man chews khati, a Muslim woman is circumcised, an American boy paints graffiti mushrooms and a Finnish business man drinks himself into a stupor at the train station. So what? To each his own, right? Well, not if you’re smoking khati in Finland, removing genitals in France, spray painting in Singapore or drinking in public in Saudia Arabia. Legal systems differ throughout the world. That which is allowed in one culture is criminal in another. As people become more mobile, culture and legal standpoints clash – sometimes violently. Students of law in Helsinki have tackled this timely problem by arranging a lecture series on foreigners and foreign law entitled Muukalaiset (Strangers).
Timo Järvinen from the student group Pykälä explains, ”The existence of foreigners isn’t mentioned at all in our legal instruction. If this series were to inspire someone to learn more about the matter, we will have achieved our goal.” Samuli Hurri, Chairperson of the European Law Students Association Helsinki branch, feels another goal of the series is to start a discussion as to what kind of foreign legal policy Finland needs, ”Politicians haven’t given any guidelines, so the authorities are left to struggle with problems on their own. Their work isn’t easy – there have to be standards before you can apply them.” Järvinen feels the time is ripe to discuss foreign’s rights, while their numbers are still small, ”We are now at a crossroads: either we get to know our foreigners or we face a future of racial discrimination.” The Strangers lecture series begins the 6th of November from 5 to 7 p.m. in lecture room 6 of the Main Building and runs until the 21st.
Techno For Sale
by Sami Hyrskylahti
Saturday November 4th’s concert at the Old Student House (Vanha) should leave no one confused about the the fact that techno has achieved superstar status in Helsinki – not to mention Berlin, London and Amsterdam. The Weekender – A Great Mission is the largest techno concert to date in our country with an impressive line-up of dj’s: Mijk van Dijk, Jaydee, Cherrymoon Trax, Josh Wink, and Groovehead to name a few. Simone from MTV’s Partyzone will act as hostess and KissFM will air the concert live. Tickets are FIM 145.
Traslation by Pamela Kaskinen