March 4, 2020 | 34st.com
what life is like at drexel and how it compares to penn .
WOTS: Camp Kesem
Secret Bagel Baker
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S
3 WORD ON THE STREET Camp Kesem
EOTW: Sebastián González, Sophia Velasquez
Band Comebacks, Moses Sumney
Campus Next Door
LOL 15 FILM & TV
Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Onward
Augmented Reality Mural
Letter from the Editor I came of age rather late, or at least that’s what books made me think. A bildungsroman narrative is satisfying when you’re in high school and consuming it in some discrete little package. I liked The Catcher in the Rye when I read it. I liked John Green's books. I liked Harry Potter. I cried often at endings. These characters were kids. I liked them; their flaws were my own and their successes gave me hope. When things changed for me, they changed in a way that was less subtle than I like to remember. It wasn’t concise or well–worded or beautiful or worth repeating in literary form. It was more like the sunsets I always used to watch. You stare at it and nothing moves, but you look down at To Kill a Mockingbird for too long and darkness seeps in through the window and the sun is gone and the indoor air is heavy and time slows down and the night sits on your shoulders as if it wants to push you into your book. Adulthood should be, but isn’t, defined by self–awareness. I can see who and what I am from inside my brain to through my eyeballs to out in the open air to the eyes of another, the brain of another. I see what impact my actions
Tamsyn Brann, Editor–in–Chief Sam Mitchell, Campus Editor Beatrice Forman, Culture Editor Eliana Doft, Assignments Editor Chelsey Zhu, Features Editor Mehek Boparai, Word on the Street Editor Hannah Yusuf, Word on the Street Editor Katie Farrell, Ego Editor Melannie Jay, Music Editor Alice Goulding, Style Editor Sam Kesler, Film & TV Editor Alice Heyeh, Arts Editor Karin Hananel, Special Issues Editor Design Editor: Ava Cruz Street Design Editor: Isabel Liang Street Audience Engagement Editor: Ryan McLaughlin Street Photo Editor: Sophia Dai Ego Beats: Fernanda Brizuela, Julia Davies, Julia Esposito, Amy Xiang
LOL 19 OVERHEARDS
34TH STREET MAGAZINE MARCH 4, 2020
Music Beats: Keely Douglas, Ananya Muthukrishnan, Gabriella Rabito, Kyle Whiting
have. I try to be purposeful, but that can be hard. Self–awareness lies on a continuum. When we’re unsure of our own identity, when we fling ourselves carelessly into that emptiness which exists between one person and another. We flail. We latch on. We want attention, validation, for someone to take our hands and say I See You simply because we cannot see ourselves. Move around! Nothing is to gain from being in limbo. Speak! Validation tastes delicious, but where are you getting it from? Look!—but it’s not easy to look, especially at ourselves, because we might not like what we find until we can go beyond looking.
Features Staff: Jen Cullen, Paige Fishman, Sofia Heller, Denali Sagner
Copy Associates: Alice Goulding, Nadia Goldman, Kira Horowitz
Film & TV Beats: Anna Collins, Harshita Gupta
Audience Engagment Associates: Maya Berardi, Nicole Kloss, Rachel Markowitz, Stephanie Nam, Kat Ulich
Arts Beat: Amanpreet Singh Style Beats: Jean Chapiro, Hannah Lonser, Tara O'Brien, Diya Sethi, Jordan Wachsman, Yana Yadav Staff Writers: Jessica Bao, Sophie Burkholder, Eva Ingber, Emma Johnson, Nick Plante, Lily Stein, Peyton Toups, Dannie Watson Illustrators: Isabel Liang, Felicity Yick, Anne Marie Grudem, Georgia Ray Staff Photographers: Sudeep Bhargava, Adrianna Brusie, Kelly Chen, Sally Chen, Adiel Izilov, Mona Lee, Raymon Shi, Sophia Zhu Cover by Isabel Liang & Ava Cruz
Contacting 34th Street Magazine: If you have questions, comments, complaints or letters to the editor, email Tamsyn Brann, Editor–in–Chief, at email@example.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. "Oh my god you guys I feel like such a fat fuck right now."
WORD ON THE STREET
Photo courtesy of Braden Saba
charting my growth
on paper plates how giving back to camp kesem gave me more than i could imagine . | shannon peters
y first year I convinced myself I’d always feel like an outlier at Penn. Rejection emails permeated my inaugural fall, voiding me of communities I thought I might belong in. The following semester, I joined Greek life seeking a family, and Camp Kesem seeking a purpose. Spring was occupied by the awkwardness of existing in these clubs but not truly knowing anyone. As I continued to grow as a member of these environments, I believed each step forward was a pity point granted to someone who might never belong. I began to devote most of my time to Camp Kesem—when I was helping kids affected by something much greater, a parent’s cancer, my problems felt small. In fact, I didn’t consider my own self– doubt to be a problem. Luckily, Kesem helped me to realize just how big it was. Kesem is a nationwide community, driven by passionate college student leaders, that supports children through and beyond their parent’s cancer. By offering innovative, fun–filled programs that foster a lasting community, we aim to ensure that every child impacted by a parent’s cancer is never alone. Outwardly, I share camp story after camp story to friends, but inwardly I feel like a fraud praising the mission of Camp Kesem while grappling with my own history of insecurity in the club. Nerves took over during the weeks leading up to my first camp. I told myself I should just pull out. After months of training without making new friends there was no way my absence would make any difference. Thankfully, I sucked it up. Our campers’ warm welcomes helped me find a home, and I quickly realized I needed their help just as they needed mine. The day after camp I eagerly submitted an appli-
cation to join the board. In my first real leadership role in college, I struggled to admit when I did not know the answer, or when I did not have the time. Coming off of security in high school and rejection at Penn, little space existed in my past for me to grasp the beauty (and normalcy) of learning as you work. When camp came around, I prepared for a disaster to unfold from the schedule I had scripted. Or, more likely, I braced for everyone to hate it. Aside from a small microwave fire, some dirty pitchers, and some peaceful protests for earlier mealtimes, no catastrophes occurred. I left camp this past summer with a head cold and a warm heart. Kesem had proven yet again to be a guiding light, even for us big kids. When I got the email I was selected as a CK Director, I closed out immediately. I let it sit in my inbox, unanswered, for over an hour to give our Program Director time to tell me it was sent to the wrong person. Even though I still sometimes find myself convinced that I replied to the email too quickly, I push through the uncertainty with the drive of a Blue Unit boy about to win Gaga. His goal is to win, and mine is to give him the chance. Midway through camp we do an Empowerment session. Empowerment is when the whole camp gathers together in a safe space to share experiences and emotions about cancer. The event culminates in “Warm and Fuzzies,” a cool–down activity to promote community by writing messages of encouragement on small plates around our necks. At the end of our cool down, the plate I expected to be empty was filled with meaningful messages. Kesem love I thought I hadn’t earned unfolded before my eyes in a rainbow of marker scribbles. All of my plates hang on display, no matter how tacky they
look. They remind me that my doubts do not translate to reality. I can’t imagine what my life would look like if I’d listened to my fears and pulled out before that first camp session. I feel blessed that these campers trust our counselors to walk along their journey with them. If I could give them my entire summer, I would. Through my collection of paper plates, I have learned countless lessons. I learned pure generosity and patience while watching our campers open their home to new faces every year. I learned selflessness when a camper jumped up to be a nurse buddy after another boy in his unit got a splinter, even though he’d have to leave behind a fresh plate of waffles in the cafeteria to do so. I learned compassion as the entire auditorium completely lost their minds for performances so quiet we weren’t sure what song was sung. It didn’t matter. In the Kesem community, support flows endlessly. Most of all, I learned courage, even in the face of uncertainty, from campers who spoke of times cancer tested their hope—but they always claimed it back. Kesem gives me a reason to keep growing. I always understood that when I fall down, I can get back up. But my campers taught me that I don’t have to hit the ground. If I trip, it’s ok to shout for help. I can trust that someone will catch me. This fall, I attended a Kesem Leadership Summit with some of our board members. Our Program Director challenged us to write a positive “I am” statement about ourselves. I jotted down a statement that had been a source of shame in the past. As I fumble through overcoming insecurity in my abilities, I proudly hang my note—“I am learning”— just beside my paper plates. MARCH 4, 2020 34TH STREET MAGAZINE
H O M E T OW N : MAJOR: AC T I V I T I E S :
El Paso, Texas Physics (Concentration: Astrophysics) Cipactli Latinx Honor Society (Chair), Penn Symphony Orchestra, Society of Physics Students, Penn First (Internal Outreach Chair), Sphinx Honor Society
Sally Chen BY KATIE FARRELL
How did you get involved in the Cipactli Latinx Honor Society? SEBASTIÁN GONZÁLEZ: The nice thing is that I had a lot of friends and people who I looked up to in Latinx that I thought were doing really great things in lots of spaces. And kind of I just had the idea that that would be really cool for me to do and follow in their footsteps, sort of speak. The next thing is that it used to be a tapped process, someone would recommend you, and encourage you to be in the society. That happened to me, fortunately, and I went through the process. And now here I am. I guess I should also add that I am chair of the society, now, which is really cool. STREET: Is Sphinx similar in that regard? Or, what is Sphinx like? SG: Yeah, it’s kind of more traditional, more general Penn rather than just one specialized group. And, there are thirty of us, it’s similar in that it’s more on the social side of things. It’s just a space for all of us to get together and get to know each other and interact with one another. The nice thing about Sphinx is that a lot of us are also advocates for a lot of different communities, whether that be the [Undergraduate Assembly] or etc. STREET: When you say that people within the society are advocates for other groups, as well, is that something you do, too? SG: I got into it through my involvement with Penn First. Her name is Anaya, she’s done great STREET:
things, she was the Penn First person in Sphinx. Because that Sphinx is a little weird in that we are all representing a particular group, in my case Penn First. It’s also similar in that there is a tap process so she tapped me. STREET: So, what is Penn First? SG: It's a student group that started—I think now it’s five years ago—it’s a group for the first–generation, low–income community which we like to abbreviate as FGLI. And, broadly speaking it has two different missions. One is to provide a social space because it can easily feel as if you are alone in a lot of different spaces on campus, whether that be class or other groups that you might be a part of. So it’s nice to have a group that is organizing a lot of social events or just general get togethers and study hours where everyone there is either FGLI or cares about FGLI issues. So, it’s very reaffirming in that sense. And, the other is more advocacy. So that is what I was involved with the most, as well as Louis which he talked about in his interview, as far as meeting with administrators, whether that be in student financial services or the Provost Office in order to facilitate conversations about different policies or programs that could be enacted, created, or improved upon. Basically a mission to improve the lives of FGLI students here. The way I always thought about it is to remove any unnecessary barriers that FGLI students may find themselves up against, that really
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could be solved with an easy solution or program or initiative that would allow FGLI students to be just as likely to succeed as other students here. STREET: What was your favorite advocacy project that you were a part of? SG: The first one that comes to mind, because it is the one that is currently being in the works, is Penn First Plus, which is more the university’s efforts for the FGLI community. Where it’s like a centralized area that students can go to, basically an open space, and a centralized space where all these resources are available and people can find out about them as opposed to scouring the web. Maybe you’re lucky enough to end up at a particular webpage that lists everything, this would be like a central space where you can just ask a person who is there and knows everything and they can point you in the right direction. STREET: What is astrophysics like? SG: It’s fun, it’s a lot of classes, it’s a pretty big major, like twenty credits. But, that being said it’s a really enjoyable major, lots of cool classes, learning a lot about really cool things. Kind of what I’ve come to appreciate the most about it is, through physics, you pick up a lot of skills that are easily transferable to another. A lot of math and different kinds of math, and tools in math, lots of computer stuff. And just general problem solving. One professor told me
to follow the rabbit wherever it goes, whatever tools you need to solve it, you just have to follow it wherever it goes. So just that general approach and mindset is something that I came to really value with my experience in the major. STREET: What would you like to do with astrophysics? SG: One of the reasons I really like all the skills I’ve picked up is because I’m not necessarily going to do something in astrophysics. Kind of what the plan is right now is to just generally get into data science and data analytics, with the ultimate goal to be working for a sports team because I am a really big sports
fan and have been for a while. STREET: What type of sports do you like? SG: Well, my favorite is football. Just because that was the first thing I fell in love with. I really love baseball, too, I connect with it because there are a lot of Latinx players in baseball and they are all really good. And basketball, I really enjoy, too. I don’t have a particular team in basketball, that’s why I don’t like it as much as the other two. But, it’s really fun to watch, and I also like soccer a little bit, especially during the World Cup when Mexico and the United States are playing. I’ll get a little into it but, yeah, baseball and football.
L I G H T N I N G RO U N D STREET: What is the last song you listened to? SG: Well, I really like podcasts. So, the last podcast I listened to was the Dan Le Betard Shown. It's a podcast from ESPN. STREET: What was your favorite class at Penn? SG: PHYS 171 Honors Physics II and PHYS 360 Statistics, Data Mining, and Machine Learning STREET: If you could have any superpower, what would it be? SG: Traveling wherever I want in time while being able to speak whatever the language is of where I end up. STREET: What is something people wouldnʼt guess about you? SG: I guess that I play the tuba. Just because I'm a smaller person who plays a large instrument. STREET: Favorite food truck? SG: Don Memo STREET: There are two types of people at Penn… SG: One would be people who kind of aware of the space that they are occupying and the privilege they have to be here at this institution. And people who still have to learn that.
F ERNANDA B RIZUELA
O N T H E VA L UA B L E L E S S O N S O F T H E B A R T E N D I N G I N D U S T RY
ophia Velasquez’s (C ‘21) interest in the bartending industry began during high school, which is why she decided to look for mixology courses as soon as she set foot on campus. After taking one and passing the bartending certification exam, she decided to interview for a position as a bartender in Penn Student Agencies during her first–year spring. Sophia is currently in her third year studying Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. Even though she joined PSA Bartending during her second semester at Penn, it continues to be a major part of her life. “When I was interviewing for the position at Penn Student Agencies the bartender was just graduating at the time, so she asked me if I would be interested in a management position and I was totally stoked,” Sophia says. “So, that’s why I ended up joining PSA Bartending as their manager and I’ve been there since then.” Sophia continues to hold a managerial position in the agency, which is currently only run by her and an additional manager. Her responsibilities entail reaching out to clients, re-writing the manual, updating and teaching the mixology course offered to students, and bartending on– and off–campus, among other tasks. Her involvement with PSA continued her interest in the bartending industry and business over all, which led her to join other organizations on campus to help her grow in these areas. Sophia is currently a member of Phi Chi Theta, a new business fraternity on campus. She says that, even though she was initially anxious to join a business fraternity, she was surprised by the people she met and the organization’s focus on wellness. She says that she enjoys the fact that the organization is made up of individuals with diverse entrepreneurial interests, including not only finance and consulting, but also other industries like entertainment and energy. “I found [that] Phi Chi’s wellness aspect was really all–encompassing and really central to who they are and so it’s been really great. The diversity of brothers in the group has been amazing,” Sophia says. “So, it’s been a really supportive group of very niche and, I guess like, non-traditional individuals just supporting each other entrepreneurially, but also socially.” She is also a member of the Wharton Alliance, which advocates for LGBTQ representation in the workforce. The organization provides a welcoming environment for students, and gives them business and social resources and opportunities. Sophia is a member of the case competition committee, in charge of organizing a case competition for students from Penn and other schools on the East Coast. “As an LGBT person on campus, especially being a minority, Hispanic, it’s been kind of difficult for me to find a group that was just happy with who they were and whatnot. So I would say that my experiences with them have
been great too,” Sophia says. Even as a member of other organizations, a lot of Sophia’s time continues to be dedicated to PSA Bartending. The agency consists of six bartenders in addition to the two managers who meet once a month. On top of these meetings, the bartenders get to spend time with each other when working events. Sophia mentions that bartending comes with a set of unique experiences. From facing stressful situations, such as dealing with rowdy clients, to meeting extremely interesting people during nights on the job. She says that one of her favorite events to work includes bartending for the Fisher Fine Arts Gallery. “It’s really magical ‘cause you get a very particular crowd—very artsy, very willing to talk. So, it’s really fun when someone’s coming up to you and asking for a wine recommendation. You could give them a wine recommendation and often times they’re like ‘oh, cool, let me tell you a little bit about the exhibition tonight’,” she says. In addition to working events, Sophia also enjoys teaching mixology courses to students. Two course dates are offered to students each semester, in which they get the opportunity to learn mixology in a small environment of around 20 students. The agency also recently made a payment plan option available to make the courses more accessible to students. Through her experience with PSA Bartending, Sophia realized that she wanted to pursue a career that is related to the industry. This summer, she is going to have the opportunity to intern at Anheuser–Busch, a major brewing company. Sophia enjoys the possibility of pursuing an opportunity like this full-time. “I really love talking to people as a bartender, that’s something that’s really important and I obviously love the subject matter. So, I think combining my two passions into a marketing career with Anheuser–Busch or maybe like a wine company down the line, like, who knows? [That] is probably where I want to go,” she says. Sophia says that even though bartending has taught her a number of invaluable soft skills, her biggest take-away has been learning the importance of finding an industry that she is truly passionate about. At a school with a prominent pre–professional culture which usually pushes people to go after more traditional career paths, it’s important for people to know that searching for a different path is okay. At a recent Phi Chi Theta career panel, Sophia talked about the experience of finding something she truly loves to do. “The main message I was trying to tell the Penn community and our rushes is that, I think that, when you’re at Penn, it’s important to find something that you’re passionate about, you really care about, and you want to learn more about for a good portion of your life and just not be afraid to do something unconventional and just run with it,” Sophia says. “So I would say bartending really taught me that it’s okay, you know, to be yourself and to be interested in something that maybe not a lot of people would be.” MARCH 4, 2020 34TH STREET MAGAZINE
WHY are all the bands getting back together?
n any other year, Armor for Sleep’s tour announcement would have caused an uproar. After all, the Jersey emo band officially broke up in 2009, playing a final show at Bamboozle Festival in 2012. Releasing a cryptic video two days before announcing a tour should have had every rock music outlet frothing at the mouth. Instead, it was just the latest in what’s rapidly becoming 2020’s weirdest musical trend. Indie rock, emo, and post–hardcore have been the recipients of the most band reunions. Bright Eyes announced a tour and a new album. Nate Ruess’ band The Format is performing a handful of spring shows, and The Receiving End of Sirens will be performing seven shows in May. Craig Owens’ supergroup D.R.U.G.S. released a new single. And, perhaps most surprisingly, Scary Kids Scaring Kids performed a reunion tour in January, with Saosin’s Cove Reber on lead vocals after former vocalist Tyson Stevens’ 2014 death. This string of reunions can be traced back to the two biggest names to reunite in the past twelve months. In early 2019, Disney Channel boy band the Jonas Brothers announced their reunion, and put out the single “Sucker” at the end of the week. Then, last Halloween, seminal emo band My Chemical Romance announced a December show at Shrine Expo Hall in Los Angeles. This one–off show was supplemented by a North American tour announcement in January—every show sold out within six hours. The stunning thing about most of these reunions is how long ago the bands behind them broke up. The Receiving End of Sirens played their final show in 2012. Conor Oberst retired Bright Eyes after releasing The People’s Key in 2011. Scary Kids Scaring Kids announced their breakup in 2009, and The Format went on hiatus in 2008. With their 2013 splits, the Jonas Brothers and My Chemical Romance were broken up the shortest length of time. This string of reunions, often announced with little warning, raises two similar but slightly different questions. The first is "why," and the second is "why now?" An anniversary tour may be an attractive prospect for bands contemplating a reunion. Both Scary Kids Scaring Kids and Armor for Sleep are celebrating fifteen years since the release of their respective albums The City Sleeps in Flames and What to Do When You Are 6
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Dead. Armor for Sleep performed a handful of shows in 2015 for What to Do’s tenth anniversary. The Format announced their reunion on the twelfth anniversary of their breakup. More likely, though, the artists involved just missed making music. Craig Owens told Forbes, in reference to the new D.R.U.G.S. single, "This message is that...I'm back; that I feel good. I feel good about myself." The Jonas Brothers were inspired to reunite during the filming of 2017 documentary Chasing Happiness, and in February, while Gerard Way denied an MCR reunion, he did admit to The Guardian that “I miss playing with the guys.” Seeing other bands reunite may cause a domino effect, inspiring other past legends of the scene to start playing together again. One of the reasons The Format decided to reunite was for the fans. Songwriter Sam Means told Ed Masley of azcentral that, “It's kind of sad to see people when you start talking about, 'Oh something's gonna happen,' meaning we're gonna put out some vinyl. And then it all comes out and everyone's like, 'Oh, we thought you were gonna play a show or two, maybe.’” MCR experienced such a phenomenon in 2016, when a cryptic social media post sparked reunion rumors. Instead, the announcement was for a special tenth–anniversary reissue of Welcome to the Black Parade. Many of these bands are in flux. While nearly all of them are playing a series of reunion shows, only Bright Eyes and D.R.U.G.S. have confirmed any new music— and, of course, the Jonas Brothers, who released Happiness Begins last summer. A lot of these artists have families now, making life on the road more difficult. It remains unclear, to fans and potentially to some of the bands themselves, whether these acts will fizzle out again upon completing their tours, or if this is the beginning of a new era for their favorite band. Music is always fleeting. Bands break up, artists retire, sometimes with dignity and sometimes in disgrace. The string of reunions this past year has only shown that temporality of music. To some degree, it doesn’t matter if Scary Kids Scaring Kids release a new album, or if The Format never speak to each other again. For the time they were together, during their first tenure as a band or during their 2020 reunion, they created something special, and nothing special lasts forever.
How the Jonas Brothers and MCR kicked off 2020's weirdest musical trend.
moses sumney's 'græ: Part 1' I
IS A BREATHTAKING SOPHOMORE ALBUM | KYLE WHITING
t's easy to see the world in binary. Good or bad, love or hate, friend or lover, right or wrong. Things are, or they are not. Yes, it's easy to see the world in pairs, but in doing so, we limit ourselves from experiencing the full spectrum of life. In reality, binary views are overly simplistic—degrading, even—and rarely paint the full picture. In the first entry of Moses Sumney's double LP græ (labeled græ: Part 1; Part 2 will come out May 15), the vast space between black and white is stretched open, allowing the infinite shades of grey to be examined with crystal clear focus. When græ's first single, "Virile," dropped, it was clear that Sumney was moving in a different direction from his fantastic debut Aromanticism (2017). Where tracks on Aromanticism contracted, "Virile" explodes outwards. Everything about the song, from the bombastic instrumental arrangement to the overt declarations of masculine power, suggested a complete 180 for Sumney's music. However, the next single, "Polly," is the polar opposite. It's insular, tender, emotive, and sexual in every way that "Virile" isn't. Herein lies græ: take two opposing ideas, tear them open, and examine what lies in the space between. Make no mistake: græ: Part 1 is an intensely personal album. Many of Sumney's ruminations revolve around himself: his identity, his relationships, his masculinity. "I fell in love with the in–between," Sumney proclaims on the grooving "Neither/ Nor." But to imply these examinations can't be extrapolated outward is wrong. græ seeks to break down the rigid concept of binaries which trap us all. It's hard to fully explain what græ: Part 1 sounds like. Perhaps that's because Sumney enlisted 40 producers to help create the variety of soundscapes coloring the album. Sumney's music always defies strict genre labels, but græ: Part 1 seems to move past the concept of genre it-
self. This is most evident on cuts like "Gagarin," which starts with Sumney's signature falsetto laid over barely audible piano tinkling. Then, his voice drops, as a dramatic filter seemingly triples his every utterance, and a Bill Evans–esque piano line meanders up and down the keyboard. A slow, deliberate bassline fills the song with malaise as Sumney questions his purpose on earth. "I give my life / To something bigger than me" he declares with finality, as the production swells, peaks, and crashes, a wave of cold, dark, water. This song feels how the color grey looks: dour, uncertain, and directionless—intentionally so. Other songs are much warmer. "Cut Me" and "In Bloom" are more certain, optimistic even. On "Cut Me," a funky bassline pairs with a jazzy trombone, creating a lively atmosphere and a fairly upbeat opener. "In Bloom" mixes electric guitar arpeggios with blissful orchestral swells. In one of the more cheeky, lighthearted moments on the album, Sumney sings "You don't want that, do you? / You just want someone to listen to you /
Who ain't tryna screw you / I swear I want that, too, yeah." The extended rhyme is just one example of the genius songwriting littered throughout the record. And of course, there's the closing track, "Polly." Describing its raw emotion seems almost impossible—put on a pair of headphones, close your eyes, and listen. The only instruments present are a lone guitar and Sumney's voice. He somersaults across octaves with ease, harmonies floating in and out of the mix with the utmost care and restraint. He begs his polyamorous partner to stay, to choose him. It's difficult to see what doesn't actually exist. It's difficult to pin down the concept of flux. It's difficult to examine the uncertain nuances which drive us to do things we do, to be the way we are. Yet Moses Sumney is able to do this across the entirety of græ: Part 1. With this gorgeous, complex first part of his sophomore album, Sumney has once again proven he's one of the greatest singer– songwriters working today.
OPEN FOR LUNCH, BRUNCH, DINNER AND LATE NIGHT
Photo by Alexander Black // Provided by Jagjaguwar
“A lively, French-inspired brasserie from celebrated Top Chef Nicholas Elmi, nestled in Historic Old City Philadelphia.” PRIVATE PARTY SPACE AVAILABLE 52 South 2nd Street Philadelphia, PA 19106 (267) 606-6313 | www.royalboucherie.com MARCH 4, 2020 34TH STREET MAGAZINE
PHILIP KORSHAK ,
philly’s beloved dough wizard, IS OPENING A BAGEL SHOP
Getting your hands on one of Korshak’s elusive bagels is about to get a lot easier. | Jordan Wachsman
ou may have heard of Philip Korshak through his cryptic Instagram, @korshak.bagels.poetry. If you have, you’ve probably tried to DM him to order one of his elusive bagels. If you’re one of the few who have succeeded in sinking your teeth into one of his doughy masterpieces, consider yourself very lucky. Korshak explains, “In the past, you would DM me via Instagram, and then you would really get annoyed because I wouldn’t get back to you for a very, very, very long time. Then typically you would DM again and still be pretty upset about it. And then eventually your name would come up in the list…” The list Korshak is referencing is his waitlist for one of these coveted bagels. Once on it, he'd reach out and get your customized bagel order, ready to pick up from Angelo’s Pizzeria in the coming days. But the waitlist days are behind Korshak, who plans on opening a storefront for his bagel empire in the coming months. Korshak’s love for bagel–making began in a storybook way. When he was living in New York with his wife Kendra, Sundays were a break from hectic schedules, and a special day dedicated to spending time together. Bagels were a part of this weekly Sunday ritual that Korshak just couldn’t live without when he moved to Texas, where, as he puts it, “there are no bagels.” He started experimenting with bagels and working in a mom–and–pop pizza shop, where his love affair with dough began. When he finally made his way to Philly in 2018, he began working out of Angelo’s Pizzeria after connecting with owner Danny DiGiampietro over a love for dough. He would use equipment at Angelo’s to make bagels, and sell them through Instagram or occasional popups out of the shop. But eventually Korshak got too popular, and Angelo’s was hit with an influx of bagel orders. Since there wasn’t enough space for Korshak to maintain his side job, Korshak set out
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on his own, saying he "needed to do the thing that was my thing, and [DiGiampietro] gave me his blessing.” Enter Korshak Bagels, which he anticipates will open in early summer. Korshak Bagels will be located at 1700 10th St. and will be "an itty bitty little shop that does nothing but make fresh, hand–rolled, hard–boiled bagels, served with basic schmears of cream cheese,” he says. According to Korshak, a bagel can be served in three different ways: "It should either be a thing that is in your bag where you open it up and you go 'Oh great, I still have a bagel,' and then you eat it, or a bagel schmeared up with cream cheese, or a bagel sandwich.” His shop will serve all three varieties. To Korshak, a bagel is much more than a hangover cure or an on–the–go breakfast. In his mind, food is language, which brings us to the poetry part of @korshak.bagels.poetry. “In one of my previous lives I was an academic person and was working on a Masters in Modern Poetry with a thesis on T.S. Elliot,” he says. "I love words, and I love language...I think that food is merely a means of communication, and I believe that all food is made to communicate with the other human being that they are important." This perspective provides insight into why he loves feeding people and helps explain why he has gained such notoriety, which he attributes to the uniqueness of the Philly community. “In Philadelphia there is something about testifying about something that you love. Philadelphians are so beautifully community–minded that they aren’t greedy with the things that they love. If somebody loves something in this town they go out of their way to spread the word," Korshak explains. Unfortunately, until the shop opens later this year Instagram orders are suspended, so you won’t be able to get your hands on one of his bagels until then. Already brainstorming your order? Street recommends the everything bagel with scallion cream cheese and lox!
A FASHION TREND TO EMBRACE :
BLAZERS. WHY WE LOVE THIS HIP , COOL TREND .
TARA O ' BRIEN
The latest trend sweeping the fashion world? Blazers. I’m sure you never thought that wearing your work clothes outside of the office would be a fashionable statement to get behind, but it most certainly is. This look signifies so much and can be worn in multiple ways—it's impactful and versatile! Celebrities have recently been photographed in a variety of blazer outfits, and stores like H&M have been creating affordable versions of the look. It's classy and sophisticated, and almost every retailer is buying into the trend. Running errands and not quite sure of everything you have planned? Pairing a blazer with a t–shirt and jeans is perfect. I've worn this many times before and I absolutely love it; it works with both light and dark wash jeans. I traditionally wear a plain t–shirt, but you can get creative here—just make sure it matches. The best part: shoes. To dress it up, a pair of heels looks great. If you're literally running around, though, a pair of sneakers effortlessly dresses it down. One of my favorite things about this trend is how it showcases the recycling of styles that happens in the fashion world. Many clothing powerhouses have gone for styles that emulate the vision of Coco Chanel in the 1920s. And, as it should be, the tweed blazer is back. Again, this looks great over a simple shirt and jeans. I have also seen it paired with tweed shorts to really take the office look onto the streets. Interested in taking it a step further? The blazer can also be perfect for a night out. This is where sexy meets powerful. A blazer is perfect for a fun night out—I recommend pairing it with a bandeau underneath along with pants and heels. It’s also easy to put over a dress or romper. Plus, it'll keep you warm, while adding a little class and edge to your traditional night–out outfit. If you don’t already have this fashion staple in your closet, stop whatever you're doing and go buy a blazer. How you dress affects how you feel. A blazer will help you feel confident, powerful, and polished. Runway models like Cara Delevigne and Gigi Hadid and sported by classic political icons like Jackie Kennedy. Blazers are not just for work—go out and rock this elegant and sophisticated look!
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215.222.0222 MARCH 4, 2020 34TH STREET MAGAZINE
F E AT U R E
F E AT U R E
BY SOFIA HELLER
WHAT LIFE IS LIKE AT DREXEL AND HOW IT COMPARES TO PENN
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alking down 34th Street from Walnut to Ludlow to Market to Powelton, I was thoroughly disoriented once the “Giant Heirloom Market” sign disappeared behind me. Last semester, my friends and I decided to try Sabrina’s Café, a raved–about brunch place near Penn. As we walked, I left all navigation up to my friend, wary of my ability to direct us anywhere beyond Penn’s campus. New to Penn and new to Philadelphia, I was unaware that walking a few blocks northeast of the Quad would place us directly into Drexel territory. While the college process felt like a never–ending deep dive into all possible universities in the United States, when I started Penn in the fall, I realized I knew very little about Drexel. Drexel is a research university with a cooperative education program, meaning that students are able to work in a professional employment capacity. Students can obtain 18 months of professional work throughout a five year undergraduate program, six months of professional work throughout a four year program, or complete a more traditional degree without co–op employment. Even as I entered my second semester, all I had heard about Drexel from other Penn students was that Drexel had better options for where students could use “DragonDollars,”—their version of Dining Dollars—named after their mascot, Mario the Magnificent. Many Penn students share my ignorance about our nearby, University City neighbor. Eli Cohen (C ’23) says he’s only gotten to know Drexel after coming to Penn. Before exploring Drexel, he assumed that Penn had the better campus because of its historic architecture, but he soon discovered this wasn’t the case. “Coming from an Ivy League institution, you would think the historic [aspects] that we have would separate us,” Eli says. “Like the Quad is beautiful, objectively, and on a sunny day, it’s great. However, on the way walking to 30th Street Station, I went through one of the parts of Drexel’s campus. There’s beautiful stone work that’s laid out. It’s very intricate and just not necessarily what you would expect.” Eli has also noted the welcoming energy present on Drexel’s campus. “Walking through one of their dining halls, there were [sports] team members there together for lunch and students working in coffee shops, and it definitely seemed very inviting and very studious,” Eli says. With these wide–ranging notions of Drexel, I decided to spend time at Penn’s neighboring school to investigate the campus. I went to Drexel’s Starbucks, ate in Drexel’s “Houston Hall,” and snuck into a lecture as a Drexel student. I felt immersed in an entirely different, down–to–earth campus culture. And in the process of learning about Drexel, I ended up learning a lot about what it means to be a Penn student. I begin my day at the Starbucks on the corner of 34th and Lancaster streets, where I watch people of all ages start their mornings. Some are sporting Drexel apparel and type busily on their laptops, while others wearing suits grab coffee. In the block leading up to Starbucks, I immediately notice how Drexel’s buildings are much more integrated with the rest of the city than those at Penn. Because of the Penn “bubble,” I haven’t explored Philadelphia as much as I’d like. I feel unfamiliar with West Philadelphia beyond Penn’s boundaries, and I rarely visit the art museums and restaurants in Center City that initially drew me to Penn. Drexel’s community is more interlocked with the area and makes exploring the city feel more attainable. But at the same time, I appreciate Penn’s defined campus. Attending college in a city was a priority for me during the college process, but I didn’t want to give up having a traditional college environment. Penn is one of the few colleges that I feel has both.
Drexel first–year Georgia Ridgway, who often spends time on Penn’s campus with her sister, a Penn student, agrees that being more immersed in the city can have its negatives. “I like Penn’s campus a little bit more than Drexel’s because it feels like more of a campus in a city versus just being in a city,” Georgia says. “Some of the places, when you’re walking around, don’t necessarily feel safe because it’s like, here’s a building but then here’s a non–affiliated building.” Overall, however, Georgia says she likes the fact that she attends a college with an urban campus. “I love being in a city; that was one of the reasons I chose Drexel,” Georgia says. “I grew up in a really small town in South Jersey, so it’s kind of a big change coming to the city because there’s always something to do. There’s a million places to just get food or coffee on campus, so I really like that aspect of it.” Once it was lunch time, I venture to Urban Eatery, one of many places Georgia says students can find extensive food options without leaving campus. Urban Eatery is a Drexel retail dining hall where students can use their dining dollars to pay. First walking in, my eye is drawn to the Chobani Creations Station. This and other retail stations, including a make–your–own smoothie bar, makes the Eatery feel like a high–end food court rather than a college cafeteria. “From walking around campus, the food options definitely seem abundant and enjoyable,” Eli says. “They seem like name brand things, like Chipotle, Starbucks, Chobani breakfast bar—definitely things I would enjoy having on Penn’s campus.” Walking around Urban Eatery, I see some people eating lunch together, but most are dining alone. Whether they’re working, listening to music, or scrolling through their phones, many are sitting by themselves at a booth or table. While Penn students certainly are independent, I’ve found that dining spaces are rarely occupied by parties of one. Houston Market is one of the few places where I see students eating by themselves, and they’re always armed with their computers and notebooks. I have a hard time imagining feeling comfortable enough to dine by myself, but for Drexel students, there doesn’t seem to be the same pressure. At one table are two of the few students who are eating with company. Chelsea Gravereaux and Alasdair Bell are chatting away, enjoying their lunch together. As I approach them, Chelsea and Alasdair turn to me with a warm smile and agree to talk to me about their time as Drexel students. Both say they have loved their experience at Drexel so far and appreciate the fact that there is no one Drexel stereotype. “I think there are a lot of different types of people on campus,” Chelsea says. Alasdair says he’s found his community through his swim team, which he is on along with Chelsea. “There are certain groups that are super close, like I know all the sports teams are super close, and I feel like every club is close,” he says. “I think you kind of find your people, and then you kind of stay with them.” Despite the unfamiliarity with many students on campus, Alasdair and Chelsea both say Drexel’s environment feels welcoming with friendly students all around. Similarly, Georgia says she finds Drexel to be down–to–earth compared to Penn. Although there may not be one kind of Drexel student, there does seem to be a strong stereotype about Penn students. “I’ve grown up being on Penn’s campus, seeing the people that go there,” Georgia says. “People are obviously very smart, and they look the part. But coming to Drexel and seeing it through the Drexel lens, when you go on Penn’s campus, everyone feels kind of out of place. Like, we go to class and wear
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sweatpants, sweatshirts, no makeup, and buns. The people on Penn’s campus always have their booties on, nice outfits, their bags. They look very put together, so when we have to go to CVS or something, it’s like ‘Oh, I should probably put on nicer clothes.’” Walking around the campus myself, I also see more casual attire at Drexel than at Penn. While there certainly are students who wear sweatpants and sweatshirts to class, including myself, it’s not commonplace. Like Georgia, I experience Penn students dressing to maintain a more formal image. Georgia says LeBow College of Business Hall is an open and common study place for all students — unlike Penn’s Huntsman Hall, where study spaces are reserved for Wharton students. Entering LeBow Hall, I note the inviting nature of the space. Several women are seated near the door to the building, selling stationery to raise money for their sorority. Across from them, students fill several different nooks. Most are studying among a group, laughing interspersed with answers to problem sets. From LeBow, I make my way to Papadakis Integrated Science Building, where I sit in on an Introduction to Political Science lecture. As a political science major, I’m familiar with Penn’s program, so sitting in on an intro poli–sci lecture offers me the best opportunity to compare the two school’s academics. Before the class starts, the two guys seated next to me discuss edits on their midterm paper. “I wrote qualitative when I meant quantitative,” one mumbles. “Ugh, I could’ve gotten a 100 if not for that! I wanna throw these AirPods!” Hearing this, I can’t help but smile. Just like many Penn students, these Drexel students are motivated by scores and aim for perfection. Since Drexel operates on 10–week terms, the course is over half–way done. The guys next to me are worrying about their final grades. As the professor Jon Santucci—a self–described “millennial”—walks in, he begins speaking about the paper. I immediately note that the lecture is much more discussion–based than my political science lectures at Penn. However, this could be a result of the size discrepancy between the two. My lecture had around 150 students in it, while this class has a maximum enrollment of 50, making it more conducive to discussion. He then asks the class to share their thoughts on the Green New Deal. He explains that he’s speaking to a journalist later that day and wants their opinions. “Who thinks it’s stupid?” Jon asks. Amidst the discussion, the class discusses and agrees upon information from Fox News. I don’t know if it’s because of the smaller class size, the professor, or Drexel in general, but I’m surprised to see conservative viewpoints on open display. The candor with which the Drexel students and professor embrace the conservative perspectives on the Green New Deal provide a healthy debate, as opposed to unchallenged echo chambers frequently present at Penn. Moving on from the conversation about the Green New Deal, which he says will prove useful for his interview, Jon starts his lecture on populism. Jon gives a brief history on populism, delving into labor unions in the first half of the 20th century. He continues asking the class questions, incorporating discussion into his lecture far more than my political science lecturers at Penn, which I appreciate as an effective educational opportunity. When I walk out of lecture, I watch groups of friends make their way to their next class, talking about homework and going on dates. I follow the crowds out of the building and started heading back to Penn. Taking time away from Penn’s campus and spending it in a more relaxed environment is a refreshing experience. It’s easy to feel trapped in the Penn bubble or disheartened by everyone’s Penn Face. While I appreciate my day at Drexel, it also reminds me of the parts of Penn that make me glad I’m a student here. Walking back down 34th Street, past Van Pelt, and the Love sign, I feel a sense of relief to be back among the familiar.
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get your steps in! with a walking tour of philly , that is hannah lonser
evitably caught my attention. I opted to book a spot on the Italian Market Tour, which promised to showcase all of the “go–to” stops that America’s oldest and largest Italian market has to offer. Pulled in by the prospect of getting to eat some bomb meatballs, I paid the $3 registration fee and secured my spot. I received an email from my guide, Jenn, the night before detailing where we were meeting, who I should look for, and what I should bring. Come tour day, I ubered to the Italian Market Visitor Center armed with a reusable bag for leftovers and $20 in cash to spend at the stalls. I went into the excursion expecting to spend two hours sampling some of Philly’s most mouthwatering Italian food—a front on which the tour definitely delivered. But what I hadn’t anticipated is that I would get a very valuable lesson about the history of the community as well. We started the morning off right with a visit to Anthony’s Italian CofHOUSE OF FAITH MINISTRIES PA, INC. fee House. I sipped on a (WORLD MISSIONS CHURCH) cup of their signature coffee and munched on a chocolate–covered strawberry from the shop next door as my guide launched into a story about the business’ Homewood Suites University City long history. As it turns 4109 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19 out, Anthony’s is one of the 3% of American family–owned businesses that have remained in business for more than three generations. First established as a fish market by Tommaso Anastasio, a Sicilian immigrant who arrived in the United States in 1906, Anthony’s has been a ADDRESS WEBSITE CONTACT staple of the community www.hofmpa.org Homewood Suites University City Rev. Dr. Andrew Ankamah through highs and lows. 4109 Walnut St 215-936-1073 The rest of the stops t’s no secret that Philly is home to a variety of top–notch attractions. From Independence Hall to the world’s largest pizza museum, there’s no shortage of fun sites to visit within city limits. Disappointed in my lack of knowledge about the place that I call home nine months out of the year, when it came time to decide on my New Year’s resolution I ditched 'working out more' and 'stop procrastinating'—my usual goals. Instead, I settled on 'see more of the city.' Determined to stick to my goal, I typed ‘sightseeing in Philadelphia’ into my search bar and and eventually stumbled upon Free Tours by Foot. Free Tours by Foot offers a variety of name–your–own–price excursions here in the City of Brotherly Love. Browsing through their list of options, the words ‘Food Tour’ in-
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14 34TH STREET MAGAZINE MARCH 4, 2020
we made followed the same pattern: after our guide made her food recommendations, we had the opportunity to purchase whatever we’d like from each shop before we reconvened to hear more about the significance of the location. We walked the short distance from Anthony’s to Sarcone’s Bakery where I bought a slice of their famous tomato pie (for a whopping $2.50, I might add). Stepping back outside, my guide discussed how Sarcone’s has become one of the most beloved spots in the Italian Market, drawing lines of people that extend out the door on busy days. Next up, we trekked to Isgro Pastries to sample their famous cannolis which we ate on the steps of the nearby St. Paul Church. It was here that we learned about the religious and racial conflicts that have marked the history of Italian Market and about the attempts that have been made in recent decades to reconcile differences between these groups. My favorite part of the tour was the stop we made to Villa de Roma, where we watched the owners make their classic meatballs and red gravy before digging into the delicious finished product. My friend Paige, a self–proclaimed meat–lover who also came on the tour, went as far as to say that they were the best meatballs she’d ever had. We finished out the tour with a stroll down the more traditional market portion of 9th Street. As we walked a bit further, we could see the evidence of new groups of immigrants to the area—particularly Mexican and Vietnamese—that have been starting businesses of their own and adding to the Market. After my experience on my walking tour, I’m sure that I’ll have no trouble sticking to my New Year’s resolution. Whether you decide to take an official tour or to forge your own path, take some time to explore the vibrant city that surrounds us—you won’t regret it.
FILM & TV
How 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire' Caters to the Female Gaze a b e au t i f u l f i l m t h at fo c u s e s o n t h e a r t i s t i c va l u e o f wo m e n ' s l i v e s | h a r s h i ta g u p ta
here is no question Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a story for women. Although oppressed by their circumstances, there's joy and courage in the daily lives of our two main characters, Marianne (Noémie Merlant), a French painter, and Héloïse (Adèle Haenel), a bride– to–be who is her subject. Portrait of a Lady on Fire follows Marianne after she's hired to paint Héloïse, who is about to get married. Marianne has to befriend and observe Héloïse in secrecy as the latter refuses to pose for the portrait. Through conversations shot on beautiful cliffsides, discussions of music, and tender moments captured in paint, they eventually fall in love. The film celebrates the love between these women—a kind of love that enriches and brings joy to life—despite how short their relationship lasts. The women in this film are rarely shy or demure. In the opening shots of the film, Marianne loses her canvases off the side of a boat and immediately jumps off to rescue them despite her heavy dress. She doesn't apologize for her actions, nor does she get chastised. Marianne is also unrepentant and frank about her sex life, a past abortion, and her desires—not only for Héloïse, but for everything else in life. Marianne is the rare female character who demands space, even in a historical film. When she is hungry, she helps herself to the food in the house. She may have to submit her art under a male name, but she claims ownership over her work. She recognizes she's barred from painting nude male models to keep her from
succeeding at art, so she does it in secret. The sex scenes in the film also cater toward the female gaze–there are no shots on specific body parts and most of the sex is skipped entirely. Instead, the focus is on close–ups and tender kisses. Eroticism comes from moments of intimacy and domesticity when Marianne and Héloïse watch and observe each other, revealing their vulnerabilities. This is markedly different from another famous queer French film, Blue is the Warmest Color, whose director, Abdellatif Kechiche, was criticized for its extensive sex scenes. Portrait of the Lady on Fire also boasts one of the most unique abortion storylines in media, focused on Sophie, the servant employed at Héloïse’s home. Once Sophie reveals she's pregnant and doesn't want the child, there's no vacillation or judgment over whether she's sure about her decision. Neither of the other two women, who are presumably of a different class from Sophie, question her; instead, both help her find someone to perform the procedure. In the scene where Sophie faces the physical pain of the abortion, she takes comfort from a baby lying next to her. It's an extremely powerful juxtaposition, emphasizing the strength of women. It's also a scene that shows the difference between wanting one’s own child and taking comfort in or liking children. Portrait of a Lady on Fire marinates in this aspect of women’s lives and forces both
its protagonists and audience to witness it. Marianne tries to look away but Héloïse pulls her back and later has her paint the scene. Abortion, something that has influenced women’s lives in so much of history, is something worth seeing, and furthermore, something worth art. It continues establishing the intimate and vulnerable relationship between the artist and their subjects. Overall, this storyline is an exploration of a part of women’s lives often glossed over or demonized. Throughout the film, there's a reclamation of female work and pastimes. In a lovely shot, Sophie
embroiders while Héloïse and Marianne prepare their meal. Embroidery and cooking, though undervalued crafts, are difficult to do and critical to daily life. Women come together to sing in a stunningly haunting harmony, showing the literal beauty of a female voice. Even hobbies like playing cards, reading stories, and playing music—the perhaps silly aspects of a routine–flourish in their artistic potential, their ability to spark joy, and the talent it takes to do them well. One of the best parts of this film, and one that sets it apart as a queer film, is the lack of
homophobia both societal and internalized. Queer women demand space without hesitation, regret, or pain. Perhaps a lot of the homophobia is mitigated because these women are so isolated. However, there's a marked lack of internalized homophobia, no shame or hesitation once feelings are understood. It's refreshing and bold to see a queer film that doesn’t force its protagonists through intense feelings of shame over their sexuality, and it establishes Portrait of a Lady on Fire as unique. It makes the film happier, turning its sad ending into something bittersweet.
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Call Bill at 215-280-5512 MARCH 4, 2020 34TH STREET MAGAZINE 15
FILM & TV
Anne Marie Grudem
disney's lgbtq representation in 'onward' may be a misstep LENA WAITHE'S CHARACTER IN 'ONWARD' IS APPARENTLY DISNEY'S FIRST OUT GAY CHARACTER, BUT IS IT A POSITIVE PORTRAYAL? ANNA COLLINS
isney has claimed to have their first gay characters numerous times, each to varying levels of outwardness, representation, and validity. First, it was LeFou in the live adaptation of Beauty and the Beast who did little more than dance with a man in an ensemble scene at the film’s close. Next, it was through Cyrus Goodman on Andi Mack, who was the first of Disney’s characters to say “I’m gay” on–screen. Now, Disney has garnered headlines again with a character in the upcoming film Onward, voiced by Lena Waithe, who, apparently, is the first out gay character in a Pixar film.
At first glance, the meeting of a new milestone for Disney is appreciated. LeFou was a minor character, a villain, and not explicitly gay—all he did was dance with a man. While Cyrus is important representation for young people, a Disney Channel original television series is quite different from a movie that will reach more audiences. Waithe’s character, Officer Spector, will be the first outwardly gay character in a Disney major motion picture. It's particularly nice to see a lesbian portrayed since gay men remain far more represented than gay women. Waithe is also a lesbian herself and a staunch ad-
vocate for LGBTQ rights, giving audiences high hopes for her part in the movie. However, immediately after the news broke, criticisms began to roll in from various social media outlets, primarily Twitter. First, Officer Spector is obviously a cop, which by itself is a point of contention. While it may seem silly to critique the profession of a fictional character in a Disney movie, having a member of a community often targeted by law enforcement play a law enforcement official doesn't sit well with LGBTQ audiences. Violence against LGBTQ people, beginning with Stonewall
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and continuing to the excessive violence against trans women by police today, makes the portrayal of gay people as police questionable at best. Second, the hype around Waithe’s character is another instance of Disney overexaggerating its work. According to early screeners’ reports, Officer Spector's scene is brief. All she says in regards to her sexuality is “My girlfriend’s daughter got me pulling my hair out,” though apparently this line is unimportant to the scene. On one hand, not all gay representation to be about flashy, punchy moments. We also don't need every character to have a coming out scene—an important aspect of representation is a portrayal of a gay person whose entire personality doesn't revolve around them being LGBTQ. The problem is that, yet again, Disney has claimed they are making amazing strides for the LGBTQ community by daring to put these kinds of characters before large audiences, when in fact, the depiction is blink–and– you–miss–it. Thirdly, in an animated film like Onward, the character Waithe portrays seems to stand out in terms of character design. All of the other creatures around her are relatively humanoid, but only Spector has a troll–like look as the cast's only cyclops. A common rebuttal to criticisms around the character design of Officer Spector is that it's a fantasy movie, so of course characters are going to have outlandish looks. The main leads of the film, voiced
by Chris Pratt and Tom Holland, are both blue elves. Another character is a faun. Clearly, these designs don't seek to replicate reality. However, the counterpoint is the way lesbians are represented in Onward don't exist in a vacuum. The choices to have her taller, one–eyed, and with larger lips make Spector seem more masculine and less human in comparison to the rest of the cast. The othering of this person who is supposed to be a great source of representation is questionable—why not have her be the same height as everyone else? Certainly character design needs diversity, but the choice of having the part of the only lesbian to be coded as more masculine raises eyebrows. Ultimately, children’s movies have a greater responsibility to portray diversity with care. If kids see Officer Spector as ugly and masculine and the character is clearly stated to be a lesbian, the connection between those two concepts may stick. This is particularly harmful, especially with the public often seeing lesbians as more manly and aggressive. Such associations formed in our youths are important throughout our lives—people still associate the Russian accent with mad scientists and villainy because of the kinds of cartoons we watched as kids. We should hold Disney to a higher standard than most, as one of the most influential media companies currently in business. Though the exact portrayal of Officer Spector is yet unclear, audiences should not expect her part in Onward to be a great step forward for LGBTQ representation.
BRINGS MURALS TO LIFE Sophia Dai
In West Philadelphia, one mural uses technology to immerse viewers in the African diaspora. |
stand at the corner of 53rd and Lansdowne Avenue. Cars zip by on their way to the nearby gas station, crossing the busy intersection. Behind me stands a row of houses in an array of colors: red, beige, grey. With my back against the houses, I look ahead at a small patch of grass. There lies Dream, Diaspora, and Destiny: a mural installed on a 25 feet by 125 feet wall painted in blues, purples, and pinks. The mural blends the past, the present, and the future. Plants intertwine with futuristic geometric shapes, tribal patterns mix with machinery cogs. Despite the understated color scheme, the mural overwhelms, teeming with details obscured by similar shades. Dreams, Diaspora, and Destiny is a monument to time and the African diaspora. It reviews the history and interprets the future, all in the context of transcendence. Scenes from the mural depict ancestral legacies while simultaneously imagining utopian futures. On the left side of the mural, blue and purple rings alternate. Glimpses of faces
lay in between patterns illustrated in dark blue. Questions of humanity, reality, and possibility swirl. The mural, located in West Philadelphia’s Conestoga neighborhood, was completed in October 2018. The mural was a collaborative effort between music producer and DJ King Britt and muralist Joshua Mays. Student artists from the Shoemaker Campus at Mastery Charter School and The Haverford School also worked on the mural through the Mural Arts Philadelphia’s Art Education program, sponsored by the 25th Century Foundation. However, the mural’s look at the future doesn’t end with a physical installation. Dreams, Diaspora, and Destiny is also the city’s first mural with augmented reality. Blue Visual Effects created an iOS app called MuralArtsAR, where viewers can interact with the mural through their phone. After downloading the app, users select “Mural Experience,”
and move across the piece, stopping at important sections to access 3-D graphics, an original score from DJ King Britt, and
interviews with community members. The plants and shapes lining the mural come to life on the
app, forming part of a lifelike landscape. Moving across, users encounter anachronistic purple statues. At each, a clip from an
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interview with a community member plays. In the mural’s center, a person holds a small ball of white light. The light radiates outwards, with rainbow-colored in increasing opacity reaching the edge of the mural. Blue beams from the ball also pierce the mural, fragmenting the wall into distinct pieces. A powerful score also transports the viewer on a journey across time and space. Weaving in between music and interviews, the sounds of the mural go from “Section 2 — African,” “Section 4 — Jazz,” “Section 6 — Hip Hop,” and finally, after the mural’s turning point, settles into futuristic tracks with “Section 8 — The Future,” and “Section 9 — The Future P 2.” Each track plays on a loop, and when moving along the mural, the sounds bleed into each other, playing in the background of other tracks or interviews. While walking back and forth across the patch of grass, the viewer has the illusion of time– traveling. At “Section 7 — Interlude #4,” one community member says, “I see the mural as a timeline leading up to the important ‘now’ moment. The future is represented by the main figure engaging this seed. The glowing point at the center of the mural is the potential that ultimately unfolds and creates culture and creates a ripple effect into future generations.” Even if users are not at the mural, they can select “Independent Experience,” and view the piece in their own surroundings. People can “plant a seed” on any surface on the ground, which blooms into the actual mural. The narrative of planting a seed echoes throughout the interviews. Together, they emphasize legacy and growth. At “Section 5 — Interlude #3,” a member says, “This mural represents many things: community, the continuation of legacy, and a new perspective on what is possible, what can be, and what will be. It’s laid the seed for the next generation.” A year before the unveiling of this mural, Britt and Mays also led a one–night–only performance on Oct. 14, 2017 in West Philadelphia’s Malcolm X Park. The performance touched on themes similar to those of the mural, focusing on the image of a youth monument for the future. Joshua Mays, born in Denver, is a self–taught artist and muralist. Though he currently resides in Oakland, California, Dreams, Diaspora, and Destiny is not his only mural in Philadelphia. Mays also created a mural of acclaimed singer Marian Anderson on the Marian Anderson Recreation Center in the Washington Square West neighborhood of Philadelphia. Philadelphia native DJ King Britt helped curate the soundtrack featured on the app and constantly
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pushes the boundaries of sound. Britt received a Pew Fellowship from the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage. Britt also established Back2Basics, an innovative practice that merged live band performances with DJs. Britt used this style as the original DJ on Digable Planets, which won a Grammy Award. Britt has also focused on curating musical events, combining music, culture, and performing arts, which made him a perfect fit for this particular project. He has also curated collaborations for MoMA PS1, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Cleveland Museum of Art. This entire project was a collaboration with Mural Arts Philadelphia, the nation’s largest public art program. Mural Arts focuses on uniting the community and demonstrating the transformative power of public art. In over 30 years of existence, the program has supported the creation of nearly 4,000 works. Clearly, the program pursues a worthy goal. There are certain places we expect to consume art. We float around galleries or museums with walls lined with paintings, or floors dotted with sculptures. Even though we spend hours in museums, it often feels rushed—to the next work, the next room, the next floor. But sometimes, art exists where you least expect it. Murals root themselves in the community. Installed on walls with other functions, they serve as more than just art. On the wall where Dreams, Diaspora, and Destiny is installed, you can see windows and signs that say “No Dumping, $300 Fine". Murals find you when you are least aware and demand your attention. You walk down the street, stop, and stare, completely lost in your own thoughts. While I was grateful for the chance to experience this mural and the accompanying app, a part of me realized I disturbed something sacred. I took an Uber to the mural from Huntsman Hall, too focused on the cold to bother figuring out how to SEPTA. While standing, I was conscious of how busy Lansdowne Avenue was: people getting gas, driving home, buying food. And there I stood, transplanted from the campus of an institution that gentrifies this city on a daily basis. This mural was not meant for me: it was meant for a community continuously trying to forge and preserve its place in the world while surrounded by people who will never honor its history or potential. This mural is for children and parents and ancestors and descendants and the past and the future. It is for an audience that transcends time but must exist within it.
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