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Buying a Vibrator Won’t Solve All Your Problems


EOTW: Ciara Brown


French-Language Love Songs

Letter from the Love Issue Editor I used to think I didn’t know anything about love. No matter how much advice I gave to friends, or how many texts I ghost wrote for my friends to copy and paste to their significant others in times of domestic distress, or how many rom coms I watched, I always thought that nothing beat the feeling of being enamored with someone else. Don’t get me wrong; I love my friends, my family, Timothée Chalamet, and boeuf bourguignon, but have I ever felt that Princess Diaries leg–popping, heart–thumping, nauseating version of love that I imagine runs through the blood of every loved-up couple on campus? Nope.

But maybe this idea that knowing about romantic love only comes from dropping the l–bomb followed by an intense make out session is flawed. Maybe reading about someone else’s experience with love, thinking back to that junior year unrequited crush, or feeling sexy and in love with yourself is enough knowledge to say that you know about love. If there’s anything this issue shows, it’s that romantic love doesn’t arrive in the pre-packaged movie magic box the way we think it does. To quote Love Actually, love really is all around. So, correction to my former self: I think I do know something about love.

12-13 ESSAYS

Winner & Runner-Up

17 FILM & TV

A Love Letter to Bollywood, Bridget Jones' Diary


Moth Story Slam, Art Love Language Activism

Karin Hananel, Special Issues Editor Tamsyn Brann, Editor–in–Chief Sam Mitchell, Campus Editor Beatrice Forman, Culture Editor Eliana Doft, Assignments Editor Karin Hananel, Special Issues Editor Chelsey Zhu, Features Editor Mehek Boparai & Hannah Yusuf, Word on the Street Editors Katie Farrell, Ego Editor Melannie Jay, Music Editor Alice Goulding, Style Editor Sam Kesler, Film & TV Editor Alice Heyeh, Arts Editor Ego Beats: Julia Davies, Julia Esposito, Fernanda Brizuela Music Beats: Keely Douglas, Ananya Muthukrishnan, Amy Xiang




Features Staff: Denali Sagner, Jessica Bao, Sofia Heller, Jen Cullen

Style Beats: Diya Sethi, Tara O'Brien, Jordan Wachsman, Hannah Lonser Film & TV Beats: Anna Collins, Harshita Gupta Arts Beats: Amanpreet Singh, Rema Hort Design Editor: Ava Cruz Street Design Editor: Isabel Liang Street Audience Engagement Editor: Ryan McLaughlin Street Photo Editor: Sophia Dai Street Video Editor: Morgan Jones Copy Associates: Dalton Destefano, Kira Horowitz, Alice Goulding Staff Writers: Sophie Burkholder, Avery Johnston, Layla Murphy, Peyton Toups, Samantha Sanders Cover by Ava Cruz

Illustrators: Isabel Liang, Felicity Yick, Sudeep Bhargava, Brandon Li, Tamara Wurm Staff Photographers: Sudeep Bhargava, Sally Chen Audience Engagment Associates: Maya Berardi, Rachel Markowitz, Kat Ulich, Stephanie Nam

Contacting 34th Street Magazine: If you have questions, comments, complaints or letters to the editor, email Tamsyn Brann, Editor–in–Chief, at brann@34st.com. You can also call us at (215) 422–4640. www.34st.com ©2020 34th Street Magazine, The Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. No part may be reproduced in whole or in part without the express, written consent of the editors (but I bet we will give you the a–okay.) All rights reserved. 34th Street Magazine is published by The Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc., 4015 Walnut St., Philadelphia, Pa., 19104, every Wednesday.



Buying a Vibrator Won't Solve All Your Problems In this edition, I learn that true fulfillment doesn’t come packaged in pink–tinted plastic.

I’ll be the first to say it—masturbation scares me, or at least the thought of people knowing I masturbate does. This conflicts with other parts of my personality, like when I endorsed Hailee Steinfield’s “Love Myself” as the sexual liberation anthem of the decade during my sophomore year of high school. Don’t get me wrong, I think we are the keys to our own pleasure, but I like to experience mine vulnerable and in private. So when my friends suggested we go vibrator shopping at a place called Condom Kingdom as the solution to my post–break–up blues, I was skeptical. And I had every right to be—because buying one will not actually fulfill you the same way experiencing real adoration does. Emotional intimacy fuels my passion. I savor the way a guy grabs my hand for the first time, calls me on my birthday, or sends memes during my three–hour lecture just because. While writing this, I did research, expecting to find hoards of statistics and personal essays confirming my bias. But I was out of luck—Gen Z hates romance, is too poor for proper dates, has at least three dating apps on their phone, and ghosts people on all of them. I’m an outlier. I need a story—an arc steeped in private flirtation—to get turned on, so buying some pastel machine with three different speeds seemed wrong. But I am nothing if not open–minded, and I forged on. We began our night of rom–com–esque fun at a happy hour advertising an evening of cheap, frozen daiquiris. I ordered a layered concoction

of piña colada and strawberry while my friend opted for something called the Electric Lemonade. In between sips of syrupy alcohol and stories from the last eight months —which we'd both spent cocooned in relationships—I felt a tinge of what I’d been missing. I didn’t need played–out intimacy, moaning quietly into a pillow. I needed to spend time with the people who care

about me in vulnerable ways; you know, the ones who ask how your day’s going, offer earnest advice even when unsolicited and will be there when you re–emerge from that insular stage of first love. At some point, I spill my drink. At another, we’re punctuating slurred sentences of political gibberish with schoolgirl laughter. I’m not thinking about the things I now lack— multiple orgasms, romance, someone to nuzzle when I remember I’m scared of the dark. Instead, I’m reminded of the

things I feel content to have. And yet, I’m conditioned to think a girls’ night isn’t supposed to answer my problems. Somewhere in my drunken haze, I remember a line from Noah Baumbach’s Mistress America. “You’re 18,” Greta Gerwig says, “you should all be touching each other all the time.” I should be touching the persistently nice guy on my Tinder, and if I’m not doing that, I should at least be touchi n g myself. So instead o f realizing that I need a nap and some Advil, I convince myself I still need a vibrator. We stumble down the block into Condom Kingdom, and—at the expense of sounding like a prude—it feels like a sensory overload of exaggerated euphoria. The right wall is lined with bachelorette party favors shaped like puffy pink penises. I contemplate buying novelty cupcake molds before placing a headband with dick antennae on my head. My friend and I fumble through aisles promising mutual pleasure. There


are lubricants that taste of candy and dominatrix contraptions. I question a box of black anal beads and she eyes a muzzle. Flush against a wall in the back corner is what I came for. There are about ten options, with price dictating the experience. On the lower end sit tiny toys with names like “Vibe” and “Play with Me.” In vibrant pinks and purples, they look like oversized lipstick tubes and I shudder at the thought of experiencing all ten vibrating sensations in a night. The more expensive options are sleek. They curve slightly—like the real thing—and boast the ability to transmit the touches of your partner, via an app or Bluetooth, from miles away. While flashy and thrilling, these newfangled sex toys connote a sense of emotionally devoid dystopia in which we're comfortable with shoving some sterile tech inside us. Yet, this comes with a fear that perhaps some of us need a little more connection to reach bliss. Sometimes, society treats the motions of sex as a panacea—it’s the key to self-discovery, it reduces stress, it can cure cramps. A vibrator removes inhibitions, but it doesn’t add value in the way a night of quiet conversation with friends does. Hearing a joke land or seeing a genuine smile creates a euphoria, that while different, is just as important as the physical. It’s the kind that allows you to move on. So admittedly, I didn’t buy a vibrator that night. I bought a cheesesteak with whiz and fell asleep in an Uber while my friends reminded me it was so nice to have me back. And somehow, that was fulfilling enough.





Sophia Dai M E E T T H E V–D AY P E R F O R M E R W H O H O P E S T O O N E DAY J O I N T H E NYC T H E AT E R S C E N E | BY J U L I A E S P O S I T O

You mentioned you’re in V–Day. What is it and what role do you play? CIARA BROWN: V–Day is this really cool organization on Penn’s campus, and they’re most known for producing the Vagina Monologues, which is now Penn Monologues. It’s this group that focuses a lot on empowering women and femme individuals, or people who don’t fit on a binary gender spectrum. They hold weekly community meetings. It’s not just the Monologues that they do, even though that’s the thing most people know about. They hold weekly community meetings around topics like the rights of people who are disabled, or colorism in the fashion industry, or interpersonal violence. All of these things that there are fewer personal accounts [on], to help people learn about them in a supportive, inclusive, safe environment. My role is cast member, as well as a community member. That just means that I perform in the Monologues. 34TH STREET: What drove you to join the group? CIARA BROWN: Aside from my own interests in generally empowering people who are oppressed—that’s important to me in all aspects of my life—I had several friends that were really involved in the organization. Like last year, when I first got involved, my really close friend, Briar, who directed last year, was like “Hey, you should come out to auditions,” because they 34TH STREET:


knew that I performed. And I was like, “Oh yeah, that sounds really cool. The mission sounds really cool.” 34TH STREET: Have you been performing for most of your life? CIARA BROWN: Yes, I’ve been performing pretty much my whole life. I started in dance when I was super young. At age six, I started dancing. The company that I studied at was focused on musical theater in general. It was like, yes, you’re going to dance, but we’re also going to have you sing and act. Yeah, it was really fun, and that was where I first got exposed to it. Then, all throughout elementary school and high school I did a lot of musical theater and some plays. When I got to Penn, I was like, “Okay I’m going to spend all my time doing theater.” 34TH STREET: Were you able to visit Broadway a lot, since you were from New Jersey? CIARA BROWN: So, I went to New York several times to see shows and what–not when I was in high school. Since I’ve come to Penn, I’ve spent a good amount of time in New York. It’s almost every single time I go, I go to see a show. 34TH STREET: Back to the Monologues, what’s it like being a part of that group? CIARA BROWN: I really, really love and value the community through V–Day because it’s probably the space on Penn where I’ve learned the most in the shortest amount of time about other people’s lived ex-


periences. And it’s also pretty incredible how quickly I became comfortable listening to very personal stories and expressions of emotion from other members. Like, people who I may not have directly talked to—but because of the way that V–Day’s organized and the way that the board so diligently creates an environment of expression and acceptance, it was like I didn’t need to know that much about that person to feel comfortable listening to them and sharing their opinions and then learning from it and adjusting my own understanding of what the world is like for people who are not myself. 34TH STREET: Why do you think the Monologues matter? CIARA BROWN: I think that the Monologues are really important because, in my experience, they’re the only forum that is unapolegetically about the experiences of non–cis males, when it comes to things like sex, body image, [and] relationships. Things that are sometimes really difficult to bring up in casual conversation, even with people that you’re close with. And so, not only does it provide a place for its participants to talk and listen and feel understood, it also provides a way for the broader Penn community to hear those thoughts and opinions in a way that is comfortable and empowering for the people sharing. 34TH STREET: When is the Monologues’s show? CIARA BROWN: It’s the weekend of February 21st. And all

AC T I V I T I E S :

Long Valley, New Jersey Engineering (Networked and Social Systems) Member of the Theatre Arts Council, member of Penn V–Day, Technical Director of iNtuitons

the proceeds go to WOAR which is a Philly organization. WOAR stands for Women Organized Against Rape. All of the pieces this year are written by Penn students. 34TH STREET: Why’d you end up choosing Penn? CIARA BROWN: Basically, the reason that I chose Penn was I had no idea who I wanted to be or what I wanted to do after I graduated from college because I felt pretty conflicted between the world of performance that I knew and loved and the fact that that’s a pretty uncertain career path. And I was looking at the other things that I like to do in my life and I was like, “Well, I can totally be an engineer, that sounds way more stable.” So when I was looking at schools, it was like, all right, if I wanted to go study engineering here, then I would pretty much have to devote my entire life to studying for that degree, and I don’t think I would be happy doing that. So

Penn was a way for me to study engineering and see if I liked it, but also pursue theatre in a way that would still make me feel fulfilled and happy. 34TH STREET: What are your post–grad plans? CIARA BROWN: I love this question, because that’s everyone’s question: “Well what are you going to do with this degree in Engineering?” I want to be an actor. And my plan, of sorts, is to go work full time in a tech job in New York, and then, when I’m not at work, I’m going to be taking classes, going to auditions, and pursuing theatre that way. After I get a sense of what theatre in New York is like and if I’m happy and excited by it, then the plan would be to commit completely to acting. You could be very good at the practical thing, but if it’s not what you are most excited about, then it’s hard to commit to it just because you’re good at it and it’s responsible.

L I G H T N I N G RO U N D STREET: Favorite movie?

CB: Iʼm going to say Parasite because it just happened. STREET: Celebrity crush?

CB: Michael B. Jordan STREET: Favorite Penn class?

CB: The Racial Imaginary class with Brooke OʼHarra. STREET: One thing you canʼt live without?

CB: Bagels. STREET: There are two types of people at Penn…

CB: People who know what they want to be when they leave and people who donʼt.


meet shana vaid and jamie cahill, the women behind "sappho" A G R O U P F O R WO M E N W H O LOV E OT H E R WO M E N


hen Jamie Cahill (C ’22) of Spokane, Washington and Shana Vaid (C ’21) of Patterson, California came to Penn, they both found smaller communities on campus that gave them a sense of belonging. For Jamie, it was her job as a barista at Williams Café and for Shana it was the Penn Band. Yet they both recognized a lack of community among queer women. “There’s been a sad state of affairs for the lady-loving ladies community," Jamie explains. This lack of a sense of community among queer women was echoed online by other women on Penn’s campus. “There were all those Penn Crushes posts! There were just so many post of lesbians being like ‘Where are the queer women at?’” Realizing that they weren’t alone in these feelings led Shana and Jamie to reboot Sappho, a social group for queer women, to build a stronger sense of community among women who love women on campus. Shana notes that before they decided to reboot the organization there wasn’t an organization specifically for queer women. “It’s hard to find other queer women. Because we don’t have a community, but now we do,” Shana adds. “A lot of the spaces that are created for LGBT people tend to be kind of male–dominated still," Jamie explains further. "So it becomes a little bit difficult to create that kind of space for queer women.” Jamie explained that when she first came to campus last year she had heard about Sappho, but missed the opportunity to get involved before it dissolved. “Sappho existed before, when I was a freshman. I came in [to Penn] and it felt like it imme-

diately disbanded. It was such a cool idea, I thought, why did this stop?” Luckily for both Shana and Jamie, who were eager to revitalize this necessary organization, the process was not too difficult. Shana was able to contact the original women running the club to become administrators for the already existing Sappho Facebook group and then contacted Erin Cross, the LGBT Center’s Director, to get a new Listserv started and sent out on the Lambda Alliance, Penn's umbrella LGBT organization, newsletter. Shana and Jamie successfully held the first GBM for Sappho on Jan. 30. In addition to the chance to just hang out, talk, and get to know each other, this first meeting was an important opportunity for Shana and Jamie to get to know how other women wanted the direction of the group to go. “Initially we were just kind of willing to do more GBMs and things like those. But we’ve seen some interest in tea times, getting coffee and just getting to know each other. Just having a community, which is something we sorely need," Jamie says. They both hope that future events will be a mixture of bigger, more formal events and some “more casual hangouts.” In the past, neither Shana nor Jamie had been very involved with the LGBT Center, although, both of them noted that they had always had a strong interest in getting more involved. Shana notes that in the past there weren’t many social opportunities specifically for undergraduate queer students. “I’ve had people text or talk

to me about this, but they specifically came to Penn because Sall y



they wanted a stronger LGBT community, and that’s what I


want to do. I sort of felt that way to, I wanted to have my thing, my club, those people that I wanted to do fun things with and I needed this niche community for me. I hope the other people joining will feel that way," she continues. Both women hope that Sappho will serve as a "happy place" for queer women no matter how they view their identity. “We go out of our way to make sure that everything can be as anonymous as possible. Our Facebook group is a secret group so no one can see if you’re in it unless they’re also in it. The GroupMe is private. There’s no way for it to be completely anon-

ymous, but we try to make it as welcoming as possible for people who are closeted or questioning or whatever to make sure they still have access to the information," Jamie explains. Jamie and Shana can be reached by any women who are interested in getting more involved in Sappho to email sapphoupenn@ gmail.com. In addition, they hope to have more queer women get involved as board members to help steer the group’s direction. To Jamie, these events are "especially important when you’re queer to have people to relate to and talk to about your frustrations, or different things related to that identity. If you don’t have that it can start to feel really lonely. There’s a special kind of need for community in that sense."

Aspiring Writers and Travelers Take Note:

A Reading and Discussion with former CEO,

Joseph W. McGrath

Author of a New European Travel Memoir, Innocents Abroad After a career in business as an executive at Xerox and CEO of Unisys, McGrath enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania, earning a Master of Liberal Arts in creative writing, taking Penn workshops and classes across the humanities. His book recounts the year he and his wife Lisa lived as locals in Rome, Paris, and Barcelona, culturally immersed among new friends, bars, cafés, and astonishing art and architecture. Discover and discuss how he wrote his book and fulfilled his lifelong passion for the arts. Hard-won travel advice and complimentary European food and wine included.

Thursday, February 13th, 6:30pm - 8:00pm People’s Books & Culture, 130 S. 34th St. FEBRUARY 12, 2020 34TH STREET MAGAZINE



s u k a i n a h i rj i t e ac h e s st u d e n t s

Philosophical Ways to Approach

Love & Sex Hirji tells us what to expect from PHIL 281: Philosophical Issues around Love and Sex

Fernanda Brizuela



hether a student is interested in philosophy, simply wants to take an interesting elective, or, like many of us, is completely lost with their love and sex life—“PHIL–281: Philosophical Issues around Love and Sex” has a place for everyone. Taught by Sukaina Hirji, PHIL–281 is a small course with around 25 students, offered every spring semester on even–numbered years. The aim is for students to learn philosophical skills while looking at topics surrounding love and sex, and eventually gain the tools to apply these philosophical principles to their personal lives. The class encourages students from different academic backgrounds to join, as there are no prerequisites to take the course. Hirji is a recent addition to Penn’s Philosophy department, coming at the beginning of the Fall 2019 semester as an assistant professor with an extensive background in philosophy. She began her undergraduate education convinced that she would become a doctor, but soon realized that it was not the path for her. “My parents really wanted me to be a medical doctor and I just had this kind of revelatory moment when I was in my undergraduate. I was taking an elective in, I think, comparative literature, and I just realized for the first time that you could take a course that would speak to your own life, and the things you care about, and you could enjoy learning. For me, that was a real sign that I was

in the wrong field,” she reflects. Hirji currently works in both ancient philosophy and contemporary ethics, with much of her research exploring “the Aristotelian idea that there is something intrinsically valuable about developing and exercising capacities that are central to our nature as human beings.” Hirji mentions that philosophy is a subject that’s notoriously hard to define, because as a field it questions some of the foundations of other fields of study, and thus should not be defined in terms of its subject matter. “I think the better way to understand philosophy is not in terms of its subject matter, but just in terms of the class of tools that we use,” she says. Hirji says that love and sex perfectly fit into philosophical study, as any subject is open for philosophical exploration. The class looks at love and sex through different perspectives: metaphysics, which deals with the principles of things, epistemology, which is concerned with knowledge and belief, aesthetics, concerned with appreciation regarding art and beauty, and feminist philosophy. “[Philosophy is] really defined by the kind of critical tools you use to investigate, and I think love and sex are just great topics for a philosophy course because you get to use the resources from a lot of different parts about philosophy,” Hirji says. The first half of the course is concerned with love; some of the questions that students


look into include what love is, the range of loving relationships individuals can have, whether one type of love is common across each individual relationship, and how love intersects with issues around race and gender. They also look at other particular topics—Hirji mentions that the class will be looking into unrequited love as a Valentine’s Day topic. During the second half, the class will focus more on sex and related topics, such as the exploration of pornography and whether it is inherently misogynistic, an investigation into consent and sexual negotiation, and whether an individual has the right to expect sex from someone else. Hirji laughs when asked to give a crash course on one of her favorite topics that will be taught in the course, “Oh wow, that’s really hard. I don’t even know how to begin answering!” Unable to choose from the variety of interesting topics, she talks about a subject that the class has been exploring for the last couple of weeks: the question of why love is so specific. “Whether when you love another person it’s a response to things you perceive that are valuable about them, or whether love is actually just not really a response to values or qualities in another person, but, instead, is just kind of something that you feel towards another person, and then because you feel love towards another person then that’s sort of what imbues the other person with a special

Kelly Chen sort of value for you,” she says. “So the question there is, there’s this kind of challenge when we’re thinking about why we love another person. Why think that the love that we have for another person is kind of irreplaceable? Why is it so specific to the person we love? If you think love is just the response to the qualities of another person, then there’s this worry that if you found somebody else with the very same set of qualities, then you might feel the exact same love for that other person.” Whether love is a response to the qualities in an individual or whether one perceives the individual to have value because of love is just one of the interesting topics covered in class. Ultimately, what’s unique about the course is the potential for people to apply the subject matter to their personal, everyday lives, not simply their professional lives. Hirji hopes every student enjoys the course and that it can be tied to their personal experiences. “I hope that through thinking about love and sex in this kind of rigorous, analytic way, they then have some resources to think about their own lives,” Hirji says. In the future, she wants to continue teaching courses in which students feel engaged both philosophically and personally. “I worry that sometimes philosophy can be so abstract and so analytic, that it’s hard for students to feel that it bears any relevance in their personal lives,” she says.


French–Language Love Songs for a Highbrow Valentine's Day This February, add the language of love to your Spotify playlist. KEELY DOUGLAS

egardless of whether or not you actually have a ValenR tine’s Day date, it's the time of

year where relationships and love seem are inescapable. And that’s okay. Love is great and should be celebrated. Nevertheless, it's also complicated more often than it isn’t, and as a result, we turn to music for some sort of guidance or release. This playlist of French–language love songs, both from France and abroad, may just be what you need. After all, French is widely–known as the language of love, so perhaps these songs have some sort of secret key for which we have all been searching. Even so, they’re the perfect soundtrack a for night of crying, celebration, or a bit of both. Track 1: “Hymne à l’amour” (Édith Piaf) Would this even be a playlist of French love songs if Édith Piaf wasn't included? No, no it would not. In fact, there are two. However, “Hymne à l’amour” (“The Hymn to Love”) is highlighted partially because “La vie en rose” is so ubiquitous and partially because it's so good. As she sings about an eternal love, Piaf embodies a mix of tragedy yet hope alongside lyrics about forsaking the entire world for the object of one’s affections. Though others have covered the song since Piaf, there’s just something about the way her voice swells over the rising instrumentals that evokes a nostalgia for the refreshingly unknown. Track 5: “C’est l’été, c’est l’été, c’est l’été” (Félix Dyotte, Evelyne Brochu) Longtime Québécois collaborators Félix Dyotte and Evelyne

Brochu come together on this track to remind us all just how wonderful an established love can be. “C’est l’été, c’est l’été, c’est l’été” (“It’s Summer, It’s Summer, It’s Summer”) is filled with the kind of lilting melodies that make it all too easy to disregard the lyrics, and become immersed in the song's ambiance. To ignore the lyrics, however, is to miss out on the truly lovely meandering days of a summer love. There is neither drama nor frantic passion in the words Dyotte and Brochu sing. Rather, they are simply meditating on the simple pleasures of a relationship, finding beauty in the mundane. Track 9: “Ne me quitte pas” (Jacques Brel) Like Édith Piaf, Jacques Brel is one of those artists who would be difficult to omit from a playlist of French love songs. The Belgian singer, songwriter, poet, actor, and director is considered a master of the modern chanson—a revival of the type of lyric–driven French song popularized in the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance. From its mournful strings to its sparkling piano line, “Ne me quitte pas” (“Don’t Leave Me”) tells the story of a love that’s already over and the sheer desperation of denial. It’s sad yet determined, resigned yet resilient. It’s the kind of song that almost hurts to listen to, but it leaves you with a sense of catharsis when it's over. Track 10: “Je pense à toi” (Amadou & Mariam) Amadou & Mariam is a Grammy–nominated duo from Mali, made up of Amadou Bagayoko and Mariam Doumbia. Cham-

pions of the “Afro–blues” genre, their music combines guitar and vocal arrangement, traditional Mali sounds, Syrian violins, Cuban trumpets and other musical traditions plucked from around the world. “Je pense à toi” (“I Think of You”) is a refreshingly frank declaration of love. Amidst the bouncy and fun melodies, lyrics such as “Quand je suis dans mon lit, je ne rêve qu’a toi / Et quand je me reveille, je ne pense qu’a toi,” (“When I’m in my bed, I dream only of you / And when I wake, I think only of you”), provide the straightforward proclamation of love that

we all secretly yearn for, even if we don't know what to do if it ever arrived. Track 13: “Je veux” (Zaz) “Je veux” (“I Want”) is perhaps one of the less orthodox choices on this playlist. Isabelle Geffroy, more commonly known as Zaz, is a French singer–songwriter who combines a variety of genres, from jazz to French variety and soul, and who is known for her uniquely sublime voice and similarities to the beloved Édith Piaf. “Je Veux” has become her most popular

song after going viral in the early 2010’s, and it's not your typical Valentine’s Day number. Not quite about the love of another person or the relationship you may share with them, it begs the question: is this song even about romance at all? Instead, “Je Veux” is an anthem about loving the concept of Love. Zaz sings of romantic love, self–love, and, most of all, love for our surroundings. She praises forsaking material goods in favor of the true freedom that comes with loving the world around us, making it perhaps the best kind of song for this time of year.

s u a r e e l C P h e e h st T Sto p in to

ift g y find the ’s Da e n i t n e l perfect Va for yo ur partner or yourself!

2039 Walnut St. | pleasurechestphilly.com | (215) 561-7480 FEBRUARY 12, 2020 34TH STREET MAGAZINE






Cuffing season is upon us, and everyone seems to be going on dates. From Center City dinners to the classic chocolate– and–flowers combo, showing affection for your significant other can be emotionally and fiscally tolling. But Valentine's Day shouldn't break the bank. We've done our research and found different date ideas in Philadelphia—all under $10! Philly may be associated with its fine dining, but there are less expensive—and arguably more original—ideas out there.

Do you enjoy the outdoors and February temperatures? Consider ice skating.

Blue Cross Riverrink Winterfest offers ice skating for only $4. Fortunately, it is still showing availability for this Friday, with availability from 1:00 – 4:30 p.m. or 5:00 – 6:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased here. Skate

rental is an additional fee, but between the world–class rink, fairytale–like lighting, and view of the river, this is a romantic date idea that is inexpensive and thrilling. Q: Like sports and don’t want to leave campus? A: Penn Men’s Basketball Game.

At 7:00 p.m. this Valentine’s

Day, the Penn Men’s Basketball team will play Brown right here at the Palestra. Luckily, student tickets are free! This is a more casual date idea if you’re not looking to go far, or want to hang out in a group setting. Depending on how well this Penn sporting event date goes, football tickets in the fall are free as well.

e t a r b e l e C ur special event you

at Fuji Karaoke Enjoy a night of singing with full bar & menu options in any of our large private rooms. (Accommodates up to 40 people) Please contact us for special pricing.

215.751.0939 fujimt2030@gmail.com 2030 Chestnut St. 8


Want to take movie night to the next level? Check out Philadelphia Theatre Week.

Skip the movie at home this time and try something a little more special for the holiday. The timing works out this year, and Valentine’s Day falls during Philly Theatre Week, which means ticket specials! There are actually free tickets available. The week will consist of over 300 events, with some landing on Valentine’s. Tickets can be found here.



subsequently, an unforgettable date. Feeling up for some walking? Try a Skyline Stroll.

A Philadelphia Skyline Stroll is a cheap and romantic date idea—an incredible way to absorb and view the city for free and take in all the sights of this historic and beautiful city, while walking the Ben Franklin Southside Walkway. You can end your walk with a visit to Shane Confectionery. Different chocolate drinks range from $3 to $8.

Want to venture off cam-

For all the foodies, don’t

pus and take in the city?

worry—we still have an

Here’s an idea.

idea for you: happy hour!

Grab your significant other, and take the chance to appreciate our city. You can walk from campus to Rittenhouse square. For people watching, window shopping, and wandering, this is a perfect idea. After enjoying Rittenhouse, go and take in a glorious view of the city. Enjoy the 15–minute walk with your date and head to City Hall for the observation deck. Here, you can enjoy a magnificent view of the entire city without breaking the bank, with tickets starting at $6. 883 feet above Center City will be an unforgettable view, and

With Valentine’s Day falling on a Friday this year, restaurants are sure to be full of late–night dinner reservations. Beat the crowd and save your money—try happy hour instead. Here are some of the best Happy Hours in the city. Attico offers a rooftop experience and different food and drink options for under $10. The Prohibition Taproom is gastropub offering $4 select taps from 5 – 7 p.m. Sampan boasts discounted prices on their infamous Scorpion Bowls, as well as different food for around $5, $5 wine, and $9 cocktails.



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For when dinner and a movie just doesn’t cut it. HANNAH LONSER

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and the pressure is on to arrange the perfect outing in honor of the occasion. For those of you who have yet to nail down your plans but know you don’t want to get stuck doing the usual Netflix and chill, there are plenty of out–of–the–box V–Day date options happening in Philly.

Valentine’s Day Ghost Tour There’s a reason why horror movies are a date night staple: nothing gets your blood pumping quite like a good scare. This Valentine’s Day, upgrade the fear factor and take your S.O. on a ghost tour. The “Love Never Dies” Valentine’s Ghost Tour of Philadelphia focuses on haunting tales of romance—an essential component of a great supernatural story. Hold your Valentine close while paying a visit to the graves of some fatally heartbroken souls and to the Physick House, an 18th– century mansion that houses a history of lost love. Location: Physick House, 321 S. 4th St. Price: $22 Hours: Feb. 14 and 15, 6:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. ACCT Philly’s Valentine’s Day Adoption Event Prepare to fall in love— with a furry friend, that is—at ACCT Philly’s Valentine’s Day Adoption Event. A perfect date idea for any couple that loves animals, visitors will have the chance to play with dozens of dogs and cats that are searching for forever homes. As a special bonus for any attendee that is looking to bring an animal home with them, adoption fees are half–off in honor of the

offer. Looking for more commitment in your life? Couples can improve their climbing skills by signing up for a class package together. Location:1010 Callowhill St. Cupid’s Arrow Archery Hours: Monday – Friday: 7 Pop–Up a.m. – 11 p.m. Cupid has become one of Saturday: 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. the most enduring symbols of Sunday: 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. romance on Valentine’s Day. This year, you can channel your inner god of love and stop by John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge’s Cupid’s Arrow Archery Pop–Up. USA Archery–certified instructors will be present at the event to help all attendees master the basics of the sport. There’s no better way to show your S.O. that you really hit the bullseye with them as a valentine. Location: 8601 Lindbergh Blvd. Hours: 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. Follow us on Price: Free holiday. Location: 111 W. Huntington Park Ave. Hours: 1 p.m. – 7 p.m. Price: Free to attend

Rock Climbing Want to work off all of that Valentine's Day candy? Try planning a rock climbing date at The Cliffs at Callowhill, a.k.a the largest climbing gym in Pennsylvania. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, you and your date are sure to have a fun time scaling some of the hundreds of routes that The Cliffs has to

instagram to get this for $9!

Price: $6 with student ID Visit the Giant Heart at The Franklin Institute Get a science lesson this Valentine’s Day and walk through The Franklin Institute’s 220– foot tall Giant Heart exhibit. Here, you and your date can crawl through a giant artery, see

a live dissection, and visit the surrounding bioscience gallery. And make sure to check out some of the other experiences that the Franklin Institute has to offer before you go, including the Fels Planetarium. Location: 222 N. 20th St. Hours: 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Price: $23, free for members

TRY our

STRAWBERRY PASSION MARGARITA COPABANANA University City: 4000 Spruce Street | (215) 382-1330 FEBRUARY 12, 2020 34TH STREET MAGAZINE


Still Loving What I've Lost I

Isabel Liang


While I outgrew childhood distractions, I never quite outgrew worrying.

am 11, sitting on my father’s duvet, eating pieces of greasy popcorn, and watching American Idol with him. I’m anxious about the algebra test I have to take in a few days, convinced that I will fail even though I have been studying for hours. I redo problems in my head, repeating the associative, commutative, and distributive laws. “Dad, will I always be so scared like this?” I ask him. “No,” he promises, “Things will get better.” It had been two years since my mother died, and I didn't think about her much. Instead, I obsessed over school. It was easy for me to memorize dates and equations and read books. In fact, learning prevented me from dwelling on the loss. Following my mother’s breast cancer diagnosis when I was three, CAT scans, biopsies, brain lesions, and tumors occupied my childhood. I was too young to know how to tie my shoes, let alone understand that my mother was dying. On some level, I imagined that she would get better, and that cancer was like recovering from a common cold. At times, I was blind to my mother’s suffering. I occupied my time with distractions. I used to bring a stuffed puppy to the hospital where she received chemotherapy, comb its faux fur, and chat with the nurses like we were at a nail salon. When my mother lost her hair to the chemo, I was excited to try on the blonde wigs she got from the hairdresser. The hospital also gave her trinkets that I loved to play with: a medicine ball from Sloan Kettering I threw around the living room, a dry erase calendar from a drug company I scribbled family members’ birthdays on, mini electronic massagers I let vibrate on my back. But when I was nine, and my mother died, I was forced to act as an adult and confront her absence as well as the intense desire to live up to her legacy. I started to feel a new pressure to be great. My mother grew up in an abusive household in the Midwest. She scrubbed floors and worked at McDonald’s to afford college and law school. Like 10 34TH STREET MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 12, 2020


many parents, she sacrificed everything for me. To repay her, I wanted to be a hard worker, the person who is first to arrive and last to leave, who is eager to learn and unafraid of risk. Although anxiety and self–imposed unrealistic expectations often hindered it, hard work was how I rebuilt myself after the tragic loss of my mother. I am lucky I now have the opportunity to carry on that work in college. But I was, and am, too hard on myself. I came to Penn two and a half years ago, still tortured by imposter syndrome and the fear of not being good enough. Instead of putting in effort to make friends or explore Philadelphia, I resorted to what I knew: Hard work. I barely spoke to anyone in my hall, hiding in my Quad single studying Spanish verb conjugations and crafting essays for English courses and writing for the DP. Now, I am more than halfway done with my time at Penn, and I've been very lucky here. I'm the leader of an organization I care deeply about, I have made friends whom I love, and I have succeeded in my classes. But I am still a worrier. Recently, I've been just as terrified as I was after my mother died, and preoccupied with not being good enough. I'm in the middle of a transition period, adjusting to a new role at the DP while realizing that my closest friends are nearing graduation and that I have to start planning my senior year. Transitions are unsettling for me because instability and unanswered questions remind me of what it was like to lose my mom. So I feel her absence now, more than I have in a while. And with comes the same pressure to be perfect that I felt when I was nine. Valentine’s Day is not chocolates and candy hearts or dinner with a significant other. For me, this holiday is about learning to give myself space to heal while honoring my mother’s memory. I will always be a worrier, just as I was studying for that algebra test nine years ago. But I am learning to be a bit easier on myself and others, and that is the only gift I want to give myself on a day like today.


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first held a hammer when I was three years old. It was my dad’s idea. He decided that the best way to volunteer at my pre–kindergarten, teaching a classroom of toddlers about his work life, was to hand them a block of wood and some nails. He tossed in some colorful rubber bands to make the project more kid–friendly. Looking back on how all of us giddily swung those adult tools of destruction, I wonder how someone didn’t lose a finger. Even my dad, the expert carpenter, sawed his own thumb off at the ripe age of twenty–nine. A surgeon reattached that thumb, but it doesn’t bend anymore. My dad insists that it’s functional: he can still hold a hammer, and that’s all that matters. The point is that a bunch of children wielding hammers could get dangerous fast. But this was my dad’s dream: he wanted to raise a daughter that understood the value of a toolbox. As a toddler, my dad probably introduced me to more tools than people. He worked the night shift as a cabinet maker and spent the days driving me to preschool and bringing me along on odd jobs. He plopped me in a corner with coloring books while he repaired houses. I got excited whenever we pulled up to Ace Hardware because he always bought me a box of Raisinets at the register. Back at home, he’d grab a napkin and write out angular formulas for me to solve, turning dinnertime into a lesson on how to build a staircase. I grew up around the world of construction, my dad’s world, and I think it was the only way to really get to know him. My dad is a manly man. He’s driven the same white Chevy van everywhere since 2008 because he can’t leave his tools behind and we can’t afford a new one. He built our house from scratch. He works on Sundays because if my father’s hands aren’t building or holding a cold beer, what are they for? He likes to hold them out for people to feel how thick the skin has become after decades of manual labor. I doubt he’d ever admit it, but there’s a softness there, at 1 2 34TH STREET MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 12, 2020


toolbox child

the centers of his palms, too. My father’s love speaks in two tongues: construction and the news. Most of our formative bonding moments have involved a newspaper article or a drive to the Home Depot. His favorite thing to say to me is: “So I heard on NPR today…” Or, the more frustrated: “You’re an engineer. You can figure it out.” His expectations are steadfast and uncompromising: I must work, I must learn, and I must think. He wants me to be a self–sufficient survivor, someone who doesn’t have to call a plumber when the toilet is leaking. But I didn’t bring a toolset with me to college. I’d hate to admit it to him, but my eyes glaze over when my boyfriend starts talking about carpentry. I still ask my dad to patch holes in my wall. I’d like to think my dad is still proud of me. He’s slapped at least four Penn stickers on the back of his van since I started here, and he never shows up in Philadelphia without a “Penn Dad” shirt tucked into his jeans. He doesn’t call much, though. He sees things practically. Time I spend talking to him is time I could be studying, and if my father holds anything sacred, it’s the value of work. So he forwards me newsletters and article links he’s deemed worthy of my time. Sometimes he calls to ask my opinion of them. Sometimes he doesn’t. But he’s been handing me newspapers since I was a child and telling me to think for myself. These copied and pasted links are his gifts. I feel my father’s love when I find a copy of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette clipped to pieces after he’s left for work, his favorite articles spread out on my placemat. I know it when he brings me down to his musty garage–turned–woodshop, sweeps away the dead mice and sawdust, and teaches me how to use a router. My father is not a soft man. He has callouses and a gruff voice and doesn’t care that he sawed off his own thumb once. He is as much a builder as he is a father. But that doesn’t mean he is any less of a loving one.

& R U N N E R - U P E S S AY

Drifting across continents, your love



Fel ic


sed callou s a h ges. , love gh ed times u e o m r o S s and hand



don’t like how time takes me farther away from you. It’s not the space, it’s the time, the number of days that pass since I’ve woken up beside you, making me feel like you’re moving farther and farther away. It's after midnight and I'm lying awake in a hotel room bed next to my sister and this is the only thing I can think. It didn’t matter when you left to go home to Chicago for the holidays and I stayed to wait for my family to pick me up. You weren’t far away when you left. You only got that way later. It’s only been two days since I saw you but I miss lying next to you, your warmth, and the safe, solid way that you smell. My sister stuffed a pillow between us so my legs don’t accidentally touch her. She is sleeping right there next to me, and my mother is in another bed a few feet away, but I feel not so much alone as unmoored. This bed is wide and strange. I drift. Time passes. There’s something about time, when you have too much of it, that makes you start to lose a sense of who you are, of what you’re supposed to be doing. Unmoored. Every day that passes feels a little different, a little off in a new way and I can’t help but think, selfishly, that I don’t like it when the days pass and you’re not here. I was the one who chose for this to happen. I chose to leave this semester. I don’t remember why. I remind myself constantly I love traveling, that studying abroad is important to me. It is. But I didn’t know I would be so scared. And I didn’t know that I would meet you. If you were here, I wouldn’t have to think


about anything, I wouldn’t have to worry about everything. I wouldn’t be wondering what I’m doing with my life. I feel like I’m doing nothing—but if I were doing it with you I know I wouldn’t even notice. I’m nervous, I’m scared, I can feel my skin itching from how anxious I am all the time. I remember how when you held me close to you, that feeling would drain away. I don’t want to leave. I don’t want to travel. Nope. I’m done. I just want to

go home, and even though I am at home, in my childhood bedroom, home means Philadelphia and Philadelphia means you. I drift. I make a list of the things you like, so that when I come back next fall, if you still like me and I still like you, I won’t have to learn them again. I’ll just know. Your favorite foods, your favorite kinds of movies, your favorite animal. The kind of music you listen to when you need to focus. Your bubble tea order. At the end of the list, I write my name. You like me. As time

tethers me to home. ANONYMOUS

passes and I don’t hear from you, it makes me feel good to see my name there on the list. I drift. I try to busy myself with other things. I read a lot. I go out with my friends. I try to avoid planning to leave. I don’t really want to think about it. I think about you a lot. It has been a while since I’ve heard from you. I know that the person I spend time with in my mind now is no longer you, but an echo of you, a product of faded memories and half–remembered desires, almost entirely a construction of my own mind. I try to remember your smile and I can’t. You don’t look as beautiful in photos as you are in real life, but I find a picture showing your eyes better than the ones I had been looking at and I am caught off guard, instantly recognizing it as truer than my image. I ask you to call me, just once, before you leave. You respond like no time has passed. A lot of time has passed. I drift. Felicity Yick I have to leave. I am leaving. I’m getting on a plane and I am going far away. I’m going to Morocco. I’ll be there a long time. When I finally call you, and you ask me, "Where will you be this summer?" I understand what you’re asking. Not where, but when. I don’t know when I’ll see you. Or who I’ll be then. Time passes. I don’t know. I’ll see you in August, I suppose. Or September. Maybe, if you still like me and I still like you. I remember the song you used to sing to tease me when we were about to fall asleep. I drift.




Learning how to count on others, unlearning how to count calories.


urriedly pulling at the belt loops of my favorite pair of jeans, I noticed something—they didn’t fit. I turned towards the mirror to identify the culprit: a pair of skeleton legs, no longer able to be hugged by my staple skinny jeans. The high–waisted style jolted out from where it should have been holding my waist. Rather than muster an outfit change, I pulled them to stay up and continued to tug from Rodin College House to Fisher Bennett Hall. These weren’t my first pair of these jeans. My first year of college, I had owned the same ones. But, the transition from athlete to NARP, from home–cooked meals to dining halls, and homework–filled Saturday nights to Moscato–fueled adventures resulted in what I jokingly referred to as my “freshman fifty.” That first pair was ripped in the similar “I–am–late–to– class” jean tug, swiftly replaced with a rationalization of wear and tear. When Googling the “symptoms” of an eating disorder, the search engine informed me people with eating disorders tend to wear baggy clothes to conceal their body. But I championed my changing body with a changing wardrobe. Purposefully, I’d bring a size too big to the dressing room so I could ask the sales workers for a size down. When returning home over winter break, I asked my mom where my clothes from high school were. I offered my old clothes to friends, replacing gratitude with replies of, "Oh, it just doesn’t fit me anymore."


The inability to fit into my clothes coincided with my inability to fit into the other symptoms. Two months later, sitting in a therapist’s office as she read me the DSM definition of anorexia nervosa, one thing stood out to me: I wasn’t underweight. In my mind, if I wasn’t underweight, then I didn’t have an eating disorder. Perhaps it was the constant hunger pains, the growing visibility of my collarbone, or the omnipresent voice telling me that I was only a few more pounds away from being happy, being beautiful, being loved that told me something was wrong. But, that one category of the DSM told me the opposite: I was fine, and, by BMI guidelines, healthy. Forget the calorie counting, forget the newly purchased but untouched food in my refrigerator, forget the time I fainted in Huntsman and then again in Williams. The validity of my experience was based on the thing that controlled it—numbers. But, most importantly, I liked my new wardrobe. The numbers never reached what would have made my eating disorder real in my eyes. I knew something was wrong, but it was never real for me. It became real for my dad, my new relationship, and my friends long before it resonated personally. They loved me before I loved myself. To me, I began losing weight on accident: skipping meals for an extra two hours in the library, substituting breakfast for black coffee, and exchanging my Chipotle habit for the next–door Sweetgreen. But, as I

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watched my body transform into a new one, I became fixated: each new shopping bag masked as a reward. I wish I could say that I had a turning point. I wish I could say that one morning I woke up and wanted to eat. I wish I could say I believed in what the other symptoms on the DSM were telling me— exercising excessively, unrealistic perception of body weight, an extremely strong fear of gaining weight. Instead, it was those who loved me. It was my dad showing me a BMI chart for women with large body frames, alerting me that I was, in fact underweight. It was my boyfriend splitting meals with me, so that I did not feel like I was eating the entire plate. It was my friends holding me as I had a panic attack after dessert. A year later, it was the first day of the winter semester, and I was characteristically late to my first class. Digging through a luggage pile of clothes, I reached for my favorite blue skirt. Hurriedly pulling at the belt loops, it ripped in half. I didn’t need to turn to the mirror, but I did need to muster an outfit change. It wasn’t a “freshman fifty” nor a result of wear and tear, but rather a result of the love that surrounded and inspired me. That night, as I sat spooning chocolate chip cookie dough Ben and Jerry’s from the pint, I browsed shopping websites, and ordered a new pair of jeans—maybe they became my favorite, maybe they remained untouched on my shelf, but they became a part of my new wardrobe.


DIY Lip Balm For Kissable Lips Isabel Liang

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Ingredients: • 5 tsp almond oil (sold at most grocery stores)

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Bollywood A LOV E L E T T E R TO

n Li

do Bran

by Harshita Gupta


hen I was a child, my family didn’t have cable. When we wanted to watch something together, we’d pull out the DVD that sat under the television throughout my childhood, unceremoniously kept in a white paper sleeve with a handwritten title on the top: Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, one of the most popular Bollywood movies ever made. For years on end, I’d watch Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge at least once a week. The Bollywood movie with the longest theatrical run of all time, it was emblematic of Bollywood in the 1990s and early 2000s. It's an epic romantic drama starring Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol—two of the biggest stars in Indian cinema. There were lush scenes shot in three different countries: beautiful people staring into each other’s eyes, saris blowing in the wind. Over three hours long and including some of the most iconic outfits and songs of the era, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge was both heart–wrenchingly romantic and dramatically campy. It was impossible not to be sucked into the overwhelming drama of it all. The Indian films of my generation were the romantic musicals that defined the 1990s and early 2000s. Filled were filled with huge dance sequences, gorgeous songs, violent fight scenes, and exquisite romantic arcs, they are pure spectacle. And yet, there was rarely a single kiss to be found. There's something so dramatic and pure about what we grew up watching—the sheer emotionality of it all. Magic filled

these movies, sometimes quite literally. Think stories of lovers united, lovers killed, brothers who hated each other and died for each other, the brutal depths of both vengeance and devotion, and even aliens and superheroes. Bollywood relished in swelling emotions, never hiding away from close shots of people in love or anguish. There was something pure and refreshing about watching men and women so deeply submerged in their own emotions. Everything was music in every sense of the word; everyone fell in love at first sight. Sure, the musical numbers might have been unrealistic and overly coordinated, but showcased how talented our stars were— triple threats who could dance and act and lip–synch. Consequently, we crushed on and rooted for them. When I meet international students from India or Pakistan at Penn, they tell me they these films are outdated and campy, filled with overused storylines and bad acting. But for those of us who grew up outside of our cultural homelands, sharing in our parents’ favorite films, actors, and songs bound us together. They became our conversation starters, our dance songs, and our sleepover movies. They shaped our childhoods, our cultural pride, and our notion of love and relationships in an era where so many of our parents had arranged marriages. These films may have been campy, but they were so genuine to us as children. Love was fast and enduring, never overshadowed by any ob-

stacle or conflict. Beyond that, these films were actually beautiful—forces of cinema equal to any movie being made in Hollywood. They were compelling and well–written, and have endured in our collective memory as classics, because they affected us as all good cinema should. They made us cry and laugh and love as children and as adults. I grew up on these films; I listened to classic Bollywood songs on the car radio during every drive. The tinny, charming songs of the 1950s, reminiscent of lovers skipping in the rain, their eyes meeting for the first time, all the way to the more

modern, upbeat dance songs with strong beats and heavy baselines. I didn’t know anything about Hollywood films or actors, and it’s still a huge gap in my general knowledge. I loved these actors, who looked like me and spoke like me, who created a special world for me to live in. These days, I watch fewer Bollywood films. The new wave of Indian cinema has fresh, young stars and darker, more realistic films. Modern Bollywood movies have verged toward grittier urban crime thrillers and dark comedies with more down–to– earth storylines. Though most are still musical dramas, they

aren’t musicals in the way that western audiences may think. I’m sure if I rewatched Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge now, I’d recognize its problematic aspects—in the way romantic comedies from the 80s and 90s tend to be problematic no matter where they’re made—but I’d still feel the same swell of emotions. I’d know the words to all the songs. I’d watch the protagonists annoy each other and spend time with each other and eventually fall in love with each other. Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol would be frozen in time, their epic love story spanning the years of both their lives and mine.


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'bridget jones' diary' is the perfect rom-com Why does this romantic comedy still hold up, all these years later?


he romantic comedy, while far from the most prestigious genre of film, is certainly one of the most culturally important. Movies in this genre may be called disparaging names such as “chick flicks,” scoffed at by the greater world of cinema, and ignored at every award ceremony ever made, but they are talked about decade after decade. However, among these comedies, one film stands out as the pinnacle of the rom–com, the paragon of everything that these movies are about: Bridget Jones’ Diary. See, while Bridget Jones is certainly unique, it has an utterly normal premise. If you have somehow reached college age without seeing or at least hearing of Bridget Jones, the premise is simple—a clumsy girl, the eponymous Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger), gets caught in a love triangle between two rather handsome men, a wealthy friend of her family (Colin Firth) and her arrogant boss (Hugh Grant). Much of Bridget Jones centers around the titular character's navigation through life. As the title suggests, the movie follows the format of a diary, which allows for her clever monologues to play over various scenes. She makes snarky comments in the narration about her tragic state of affairs, which mostly includes how her family keeps on asking about her nonexistent boyfriend.


She meets Mark Darcy (Firth) at a family party, during which she makes a fool of herself. Afterwards, Darcy goes off and calls her "a verbally incontinent spinster who smokes like a chimney, drinks like a fish, and dresses like her mother." She flirts with Daniel Cleaver (Grant) at work, despite their vaguely antagonistic relationship, which some-


clearly dated source material, the adaptation brings the storyline to the present day. She is a single, 32–year old woman whose New Year’s resolution is to stop drinking and smoking, which she proclaims while holding a cigarette and a mimosa. Despite its Austenian plot, Bridget Jones also does a lovely job of taking tropes and mak-

Isabel Liang how ends up with them dating. Eventually, her relationship with Darcy advances, and she ends up juggling the two of them at once, running into them at various inconvenient points, and embarrassing herself greatly throughout. But what makes Bridget Jones so good? Firstly, it is an amazing adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, which is undoubtedly one of the most romantic works of all time. Despite its

ing them new and reinvigorated. Darcy and Cleaver may seem like the unwavering, one–bit male figures of rom–coms past, but they are clearly flawed. Cleaver is a jerk who might have a heart of gold and Darcy is first seen wearing an ugly reindeer sweater when he is supposed to be a no– nonsense human rights barrister. While fights over women’s affections are often seen as noble battles for love, their fistfight is nothing but ridiculous, complete

with falling into a fountain. But at the heart of Bridget Jones is Bridget herself, perhaps the most perfect main character of any rom–com ever made. She is graceless, often humiliating, good at her job but far from perfect. She has an outdated and clingy mother, an embarrassing family, and a desire to do well. She is not drop–dead gorgeous, impossibly skinny, or very good at navigating her love life—all of this to say that Bridget is relatable, and not in the false way that many romantic leads are where they claim they're ugly while being classically gorgeous. Bridget is unwavering in who she is, and hopes to be loved for being herself, rather than changing who she is. On that point, most perfect is that Bridget does not transform into an entirely new person by the end of the three–film trilogy. She does not suddenly become skinny or full of grace. She grows, but is fundamentally still herself. Bridget Jones presents the rare message that you do not need to change for the person that you love, and perhaps that is why the movie remains a classic. While its cast is perfection, its plot utterly gripping, and its comedy modern and quirky, most important is the message of self–acceptance, as delivered by one of the most famous quotes from Mark Darcy: “I like you very much—just as you are.”








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Love Hurts: Tales of Painful Love at The Moth StorySLAM Early in February, World Cafe Live fills with heartbreak and hope ALICE HEYEH


s Valentine’s Day approaches, many celebrate the holiday with their lovers or lament their singledom. Supermarkets fill with heart–shaped chocolates, glittery Hallmark cards, and jumbo teddy bears. But beyond the pink paraphernalia, Valentine’s Day is also a time to meditate on those we love, have loved, and have lost. On a Monday night in early

February, throngs of eager audience members flooded World Cafe Live to hear five–minute tales of painful or lost love at The Moth StorySLAM—an open–mic storytelling competition held monthly. Anyone is welcome to share, and no previous experience is required. Jenifer Hixson, a senior director at The Moth, explains how the February theme, aptly titled Love Hurts, was decided upon. She

Live music • Film • Dance • Theater Art Education • Community PDC presents A Thin Line Between Love & Hate Feb 12 @ 7:00 PM Tickets: $15 A Thin Line Between Love & Hate is the PDC's second #PhillyTheatreWeek showcase. Fourteen of #TheatrePhiladelphia's best will perform seven 10 minute plays, walking the tightrope between love and hate. Bright Bulb presents Iranian Double Feature: NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT Persian CATS (2009) & TAXI (2015) Feb 13 @ 8:00 PM Admission is FREE Two from the Iranian “New Wave.” Hosted by Dan Buskirk, WPRB, Fleisher Arts Memorial. Craig Liggeons Presents MY LIFE IN 19inches Feb 14 @ 8:00 PM Advanced tickets: $10. Tickets at the door: $15 (cash only) MY LIFE IN 19inches is a show about one man's love of television, spanning 45 years in the life of a TV addict. The show begins 1973 and travels from the 80's right up to today. As an alcohol-free/smoke-free venue, The Rotunda provides an invaluable social alternative for all ages.

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explains, “We like to consider it a sort of Valentine’s Day alternative.” Hixson continues, “It’s a very inclusive theme; not everyone is in a happy relationship, but just about everyone has been through some heartache. Many of the stories take a funny look at the foibles of love because distance from heartbreak gives us the capacity to laugh at ourselves.” She continues, "It’s not all about romantic love, of course. Pets, parents, teachers...a tree! All is fair in love, and love hurts.” Couples, families, and students begin dining on candlelit tables facing a stage drowned with red light. A singular microphone sat in the center of the stage. The room quieted as the host, Caitlin Corkery, welcomes the audience. “I brought tissues because I’m fully prepared to cry," Corkey jokes as she shakes up a tote bag filled with

the names of potential storytellers. Every Moth show is recorded live, without notes, in front of the audience. After each storyteller leaves the stage, they pull a new name out of the tote bag. After a brief intermission, one woman walks up the stage and the audience quiets as she recalls the first time she laid eyes on a lover— first his arms, then his hair, then his scraggly beard. Every time he walked, she says, his arms swayed by his side. It seemed as if he was always walking towards her. She then describes the atoms of their bodies intertwining and unwinding. The foreignness of her own body grew in the absence of his. Together we ache at her loss. As she narrates him walking away, both her and the audience reminisce at the love they shared, and mourn the future they never

had. As she steps off the stage, the silence breaks and the audience bursts with applause. Oral storytelling has long been used to bridge the gap between self and others. Aman Goyal, a producer of the Moth show in Philadelphia—and Associate Director of Student Life at Wharton—explains, “Storytelling is how we connect; we are all made up of little stories or vignettes.” Goyal continues, “The reason it’s called The Moth is because moths are drawn to the light just like humans are drawn to stories. It’s a natural instinct to want to listen and tell stories.” So together, we sit in the darkness, lean into the stories poured out on stage, and drink up the tales of lust, joy, and heartbreak— entranced like moths drawn to light.

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We asked Penn students why they create and love art. Here’s what they said.

I've never taken an art class before. So my relationship with art is less academic, and more about appreciating it, so like going to museums and seeing art and with this class, learning more about what art is. Abbie Waugh, C’20

"I think to fully appreciate art I had to come here and study engineering, because the same thing I like about engineering is the same thing I like about art: creating.” Sanjana Rao, E’21

Photos by: Sophia Dai

“I don't know when the first time was, but I think it's a hormone thing. Art means sex and passion and love and the ability to understand others.” Peter Yin, E’21

From FNAR125, Contemporary Art Studio

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From FNAR123, Drawing I

“Artists are some of the most skilled people in this world. I've always admired the scale and appreciated the art. I have a huge tapestry of paintings on my wall, and I think it’s amazing that people can actually put real life on paper. That's what I want to learn." Amelia Sharpe, E’23

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“What I love about art is that you don't always feel the same emotion. It's a roller coaster."

Welcome Angela Han, W’23 $2 beer special! TAKE 10% OFF $3 beer! shots! wine! Exp. 4/11/12 with your PennCard CLASS OF We Deliver! Exp. 2/23/12


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order online @ newdehliweb.com | closed mondays 22 34TH STREET MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 12, 2020

Photos by: Sophia Dai


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Profile for 34th Street Magazine



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