North Texas Daily

The Communist Corner: a myth debunked

The Communist Corner: a myth debunked

February 07
21:34 2017

Editor’s note: Changes were made to this story for clarification of expression. Feb. 8, 2017.

A young man with dark tinted shades turns to a young woman with dark red lipstick and jet black hair as he lights her cigarette. The two engaged in loud conversation with another young man, also smoking. Out of nowhere, another girl crash-lands into the corner from off her skateboard.

They all cheer, laugh and welcome her into the nook with high-fives. The smell of urine combined with cigarette smoke takes over the air and the tree that grows from within casts a shadow over the group of friends.

Tucked away from Fry Street and directly across from campus lies ‘the nook,’ a corner where individuals from all walks of life can share a smoke or join in a conversation about anything they’d like.

“The proper name for [the corner] is the nook,” history junior Andrew Villarreal said. “Some people call it the vortex, the aids-hole, bum-hole. I have heard it called the Communist Corner, but it’s really messed up because half of us aren’t even communists.”

However, if you ask anyone what the hole-in-the-wall spot between Aura Coffee and Voertman’s Bookstore is really about, you’ll probably get a handful of responses.

There is a mystery behind the nook that nobody seems to be able to explain. Perhaps it is the artwork on the walls that expresses ‘anti-establishment’ attitudes and crude humor. Or it could be the nook’s proximity to the dim-lit, Aura coffee shop and its urban-hipster patrons.

A deeper meaning 

But what exactly is the nook? Is it an underground hangout spot for the politically charged left? Is it a stop for travelers and wanderers who don’t have a place of their own to call home? Or is it a place for local artists and musicians to thrive and express themselves?

The nook is a collection of misfits. Some are considered political refugees and others, like physics junior Brock Beauclair, just want the place to be somewhere to share a smoke with people of like-minded beliefs.

“We want to be taken seriously,” Beauclair said.

As he describes himself and his tight-knit group of friends’ personal political beliefs, he references back to books he’s read and people he has spoken to. He notes that it is uncommon at UNT for someone to openly call themselves as a communist. Beauclair prefers to identify himself with the term “Leftist.”

“Leftists are people who want the workers to control the means of production, and differ on the preferred methods of that happening, [essentially] the end of bringing equality to the working class and marginalized people,” Beauclair said.

There is also a large online social media presence of vocal left-leaning advocates, also known as “Left-Twitter.” Many are familiar with internet memes, but most do not recognize the importance.

“Meme-culture started out as funny memes about far leftist ideals, [but] people started turning these memes into [real] advocates of participation,” Brock said.

He notes that these internet chat rooms and online forums started to gain popularity during the 2016 primaries. Though he and his friends share most political ideals, he says that he too finds himself in philosophical discussions which usually end in differing opinions.

Friends hang out in the nook on Fry Street. Alec Spicer

Unique friendships 

Villarreal identifies himself as a libertarian and notes that most of the regulars of the nook have vastly different political views; hence the openly loud disagreement to the rumored name “The Communist Corner.”

He has been coming back to the nook every weekday for nearly two years since he discovered it.

“I saw the nook, and I was like man, look at all those nerds, I’m never going to be like those people, smoking cigarettes in the alley,” Villarreal said.

He explains how he used to walk past it every day, and never considered stepping a foot inside. Until one day he decided to see what it was all about.

Villarreal is often called the “smooth-one,” a name coined by friends of the nook who recognize his sly, flirtatious and witty personality.

“It was also because I saw a cute girl,” Villarreal said, remembering the first time he experienced the nook. “I was like, ‘yeah I’ll go talk to her.’ [But] the real reason why we all hang out here is because it is the nicest place to smoke off campus.”

Villarreal believes that the nook has strengthened some of his then-distant relationships with now close friends, particularly his friendship with Beauclair. The two have different political views, but manage to be good friends.

“I taught him how to shoot a gun for the first time [at a local shooting range],” Villarreal said.

Media arts junior Ariel Strother said that no matter how much they feud over politics, they all have each other’s backs and keep one another safe.

“We all agree to disagree,” Strother said.

Strother explains that at the end of the day, the nook is a safe space and it is much more than just a “smokers corner.” She says that it is home to stragglers, travelers and a place for homeless to seek inspiration. Strother added that the artwork that makes up the nook brings people together. The artwork and graffiti often change but are always impressive and insanely creative.

Strother is passionate about the art that makes up the nook, in fact, she is the one who superglued a dildo to the wall.

“It’s a conversation piece,” she said.

Brock states that he and his friends weren’t the first ones to discover the nook, and they won’t be the last. It’s been there since the 1920s and has seen many different faces over the years.

The nook is roughly the size of a small fully furnished studio apartment. Resting over a water pipe that runs through the city, the nook has been rumored to be closed up and boarded off. However, that doesn’t seem to be a set plan.

The nook has remained popular with various groups of people, and the people come and go as often as the graffiti changes.

“People like to ascribe this weird, mysticism to [the nook] when really it’s just a place for people to smoke off campus,” Beauclair said. “It’s not some sort of club. Everyone wants to make friends, and you can’t smoke on campus, so why not hang out here?”

Featured Image: A small nook in the wall between Voertman’s and the newly named Aura Coffee on Hickory street has been the hangout of choice for coffee drinkers and smokers alike. Ariel Strother, left, and Andrew Villareal, right, hang out in the nook. Jake King

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Nina Quatrino

Nina Quatrino

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  1. Josh P
    Josh P February 08, 23:16

    This story is remarkably tone-deaf. It reads a lot like the writer is trying to figure out if the people she sees on her walk home from the GAB are homeless or communists or just cigarette smokers. That line about the nook being the size of a “fully furnished” apartment- ??? Get it together, Daily. Y’all are better than this.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Dr. Jim McHugh
    Dr. Jim McHugh February 09, 13:13

    The vacillating art work draws in artists, as it has done for thirty years. You know, ascribing a political persuasion to the nook is absurd. The ‘fully furnished apartment’ statement is rather obtuse. The nook needs an ashtay’

    Reply to this comment
  3. Brockie Brock
    Brockie Brock September 24, 20:06

    LOL. Wannabe Che communist Brock Beauclair with the dark glasses, combat boots, green jacket and smoking. TFF. He claims that now that unions are busted, he’ll be dragging his “despot” boss through the streets when he doesn’t get a raise. We all know what he’ll do. Jack Squat.

    Reply to this comment

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