November 6, 2019 | 34st.com
November66,,2019 NOVEMBER After a Month, I'm Still Just A Little Bit Sick at Penn
EOTW: Alexa Murray, Michael Adjei–Poku
Sophie Burkholder, Special Issues Editor Allison Wu, Long–Term Features Editor Ryan McLaughlin, Word on the Street Editor Katie Bontje, Ego Editor Sam Kesler, Music Editor Srinidhi Ramakrishna, Developing Features Editor Bea Forman, Style Editor Shannon Zhang, Film & TV Editor Sophia DuRose, Arts Editor Sophia Dai & Eleanor Shemtov, Photo Editors Tahira Islam & Katie Steele, Copy Editors Kira Horowitz & Sarah Poss: Copy Editors Dean Jones & Jackson Parli, Video Editors Alice Heyeh, Print Director
Singing Shows, MCR, Jay Som, Rex Orange County
Ego Beats: Amanpreet Singh, Sonali Deliwala, Katie Farrell, Amy Xiang, Ananya Muthukrishnan, Margaret Dunn, Fernanda Brizuela Music Beats: Mehek Boparai, Melannie Jay, Teresa Xie, Petyon Toups, Julia Davies, Keely Douglas Features Staff: Zoe Young, Hailey Noh, Katrina Janco, Chelsey Zhu, Katie Bontje, Isabella Simonetti, Denali
Saxbys CEO interview, Veterans Day, Café La Maude
Hong Kong Protests
LOL 17 FILM & TV
All-Female Marvel Movies, 'Modern Love,' 'The King' review
The Notorious RBG, Rent 20th Anniversary
Kelly Chen, Eli Cohen
Style Beats: Diya Sethi, Karin Hananel, Sofia Heller, Mark Pino, Hannah Lonser, Hannah Gross
Video Staff: Sam Lee, Megan Kyne, Morgan Jones, Mikayla Golub
Film & TV Beats: Shriya Beesam, Samantha Sanders, Anna Collins, Jonah Charlton, Aashray Khanna, Deren Alanay
Copy Associates: Kate Poole, Serena Miniter, Erin Liebenberg, Lexie Shah, Carmina Hachenburg, Luisa Healey, Agatha Advincula
Arts Beats: Rema Hort, Sarah Yoon, Tsemone Ogbemi
Audience Engagment Associates: McKay Norton, Rachel Markowitz, Kat Ulich, Brittany Levy, Jessica Bachner, Maya Berardi, Stephanie Nam
Design Editors: Gillian Diebold, Lucy Ferry, Jess Tan, Tamsyn Brann Design Associates: Isabel Liang, Ava Cruz, Joy Lee, Sofia Heller, Gebran Abulhai, Sudeep Bhargava, Rhys Floyd, Felicity Yick Staff Writers: Ana Hallman, Arjun Swaminathan, Tara OʼBrien, Hannah Yusuf, Jordan Waschman, Jessica Bao, Quinn Robinson, Layla Murphy, Anya Tullan, Hannah Sanders, Julia Esposito, Avery Johnston, Harshita Gupta Illustrators: Brad Hong, Jake Lem, Christopher Kwok, Diane Lin, Jacqueline Lou, Isabel Liang, Sammie Yoon, Felicity Yick, Brandon Li, Allison Chen, Madonna Nisha Miranda, Cloe Cho, Sriya Choppara Staff Photographers: Hoyt Gong, Sophia Zhu, Diya Sethi, Adiel Izilov, Sally Chen, Mona Lee, Emma Boey, Amanda Shen, Sudeep Bhargava, Adrianna Brusie,
Cover by Linda Ting "Dip me in honey and throw me to the lesbians."
Contacting 34th Street Magazine: If you have questions, comments, complaints or letters to the editor, email Annabelle Williams, Editor–in–Chief, at email@example.com. You can also call us at (215) 422–4640. www.34st.com ©2019 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.
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR I
’ve always had a fondness for bad television — maybe it was because I liked high school and these teen shows remind me of that time (albeit with a lot more drama than my life actually had). Maybe it’s because I’ve still got some growing up to do. But throw me a middlebrow teen dramedy and I’m there — Pretty Little Liars, Riverdale, even Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A month or so ago, I finally bit the bullet and started watching the pinnacle of all shitty teen dramas — Glee. Maybe I just wanted to better understand the Twitter jokes or references I’d heard friends batting around for years. I’m not sure why I never started it when it came out. Sure, I knew what was going on, who Kurt and Blaine and Rachel and Finn were, but it just passed me by. Now that I’ve started, I can see it for what it is: a hot mess best used as background noise, a little annoying but compulsively watchable. I feel myself back in high school again, watching television in the basement, thinking about the chicken patty I’d probably eat for lunch the next day. It’s the nostalgia, really, that gets me. As my life gets ready to change a lot, I double back to the familiar interface of Netflix and try something
23 OVERHEARDS 2
Sagner, Chris Schiller
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new within a genre I know inside out. There’s a certain comfort in it, and a sadness, knowing that things are about to change. But we’ll always have Glee.
3 WORD ON THE STREET
Annabelle Williams, Editor–in–Chief Dalton DeStefano, Managing Editor Daniel Bulpitt, Audience Engagement Director Lily Snider, Assignments Editor Ethan Wu, Media Director
WORD ON THE STREET
After a Month, I'm Still Just A Little Bit Sick at Penn How the common cold has become a more of a personality trait than a condition for me. Ilyse Reisman Felicity Yick | Illustrator It was Oct. 9, the Wednesday that kicked off fall break. I felt a sudden pang in my head. My head felt cloudy during my first two classes of the day, but I didn’t think anything of it until later. My searing headache was then paired with a clogged nose. I needed to relax. There was no doubt that I was getting sick, but I was just happy it was happening during fall break. I woke up the next morning but could not stay awake, and ended up sleeping until I woke up at 4 p.m.—too late to schedule an appointment at Student Health Service. So, I scheduled one for the following day at 9 a.m. It was early, but I would suck it up. I had not felt this bad in a while, and with my throat beginning to hurt, I thought I had strep. At the very least. Upon hearing about my symptoms, my mom had Hillel drop off some soup for me. I was never a big fan of
soup, but I would suck it up for the sake of the trusted Jewish “penicillin.” However, because I slept in so late that day, by the time I went to the mailbox to get the soup, it was frozen, making the soup all the more unappetizing. Yet still, I ended up eating it maybe three days later. On that Friday morning, I headed to SHS. A brutal cough had made its way onto the list of symptoms that I shared with the nurse practitioner, alongside the throat pain, headache, fatigue, sneezing, and congestion. After checking my throat, ears, nasal passages, and breathing, he determined that, as well as my ears being clogged, my throat pain was from “nasal drip,” and was pretty sure I had a viral infection. Or as he called it: “just a bad cold.” I had had a cold earlier in the semester, but I was kind of hoping I would be able to cure this painful illness with some sort
of antibiotics. I even requested a strep test, but it came back negative. I guessed I would just have to wait this one out. After taking Sudafed for as long as I could without my body building a resistance to it and finishing a whole bottle of Robittussin, I started to feel a bit better. My throat was not bothering me so much during the day, and I was starting to be able to breathe a bit easier out of my nose. Around a week or so later, I went to get my flu shot at Houston Hall, and the nurse practitioner who had helped me ended up being the one who gave me my flu shot. “I am really starting to feel better!” I said. I was so naive. Or I just jinxed it. Now Nov. 3, almost one whole month after first feeling symptoms on that dreaded Wednesday back in October, and I am still coughing and sneezing away. Before I go to bed and when I wake up, my throat laughs at me
for thinking I could get away with lying down horizontally, and I cough again, again, and again. In class, every once in awhile, I cough and in that moment, feel like I’m the only one who is sick, even though it seems someone new then coughs two seconds later. Sometimes I pride myself for not being part of the chorus of coughs that I hear in my various lectures. Wow, I wasn’t the one coughing this tim—*cough cough* Never mind. Other than the interruptions I am guaranteed to cause in class and the two–second gaps in professors’ lectures that my coughing causes, I am constantly saying a few things on a loop to people: “Don’t worry, I’m not contagious.” “Oh my God, I’m literally dying.” “Do you have a tissue?” My symptoms come and go at random times. Sometimes my cough is bad, sometimes my nose closes up, and some-
times my throat gets scratchy. It’s really a shot in the dark. I long for the day when I can raise my hand in class and audibly answer a question without croaking or apologizing for my voice being hoarse. I am not a freshman, so I don’t have the freshman plague, but this is always a great conversation starter with the freshman I know. I may as well still live in the Quad. This may just be a Penn Plague, but whatever it is, it isn’t fun. So to all those studying bio, pre–med, or nursing, to Penn’s top–notch hospital, top–notch medical school, and top–notch research centers, just let me know when you find a cure for the common cold. My cold isn't special: half the students at Penn always feel a low–grade sickness just around the corner. But it is a nice reminder that with every cough and sneeze, we're not alone.
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Ego of the Week: Alexa Murray Meet the senior who is a double varsity athlete captain and a member of the Advanced Women in Engineering Student Advisory Board.
Amanpreet Singh Street: What role has field hockey played in your life and why did you decide to play it in college? AM: When we had to pick sports in the 7th grade, I wanted to do volleyball, but the coaches were like "No, you have to play field hockey. You can hit the ball really hard, you're playing field hockey." And then when I went to boarding school, I actually ended up making the varsity team my freshman year. I didn't realize I wanted to play in college until a little bit later, and so I went to my coach. She kind of was like "Oh well I don't think that's really in the cards for you.” I went to the major tournaments that you go to, and I actually went up to Cornell. They were done with their class for that year, but they were interested in me for the class below. Literally on that car ride back from Cornell I wrote my essay to apply back to GA [Greenwich Academy], because I was like "Okay I have a shot, I just need this extra time." I think coming back to that was a really good grounding experience, especially after the experience I had at boarding school, which was great, but I think people just didn't believe in me in the way that I believed in myself. And then just ended up having interest from Penn and learned more about the school. My dad came here for his MBA, so I knew about it vaguely, but he didn't love it and so he was like "Don't go to Penn, don't go to Penn." But it's the perfect combination. I wanted to do a little bit of business, but I'm really interested in science, so it’s a good place to merge the two, and the fact that I could get a supported spot was huge. I think it's been a huge challenge—it's a lot—but I have really enjoyed it. Street: How has the varsity 4
field hockey team impacted your Penn experience? AM: I actually was asked this question yesterday for a promotional thing and I couldn't think of an answer, but I thought of it last night, so I'm glad I can share it today. Obviously the wins are great, the team bonding moments are great, but I think one of the highlights was when I won an award from the engineering school last year. It was the Jaros Baum and Bolles Award for Advancing Women in Engineering. The whole team came after practice in their pinnies to the awards ceremony to cheer me on. Everyone else there had their parents and friends, but when I went up to get my award, it was just this huge roar. The dean was like "You have quite a crew," and I was like "Yeah–that's my team." It's really special to have that supportive of a group, and that moment in particular really embodied the way that being on a team here really creates this community. Street: Why did you decide to pursue systems engineering? AM: I got interested in science probably all the way back in 5th grade, mostly because my science teacher was really nice and my English teacher I didn't get along very well with. I got into robotics in middle school, and the teacher we had for that team was a huge mentor for me. When I went away to boarding school, I started a team there, and got it off the ground. I think it still exists, which was really cool. But we didn’t have a faculty advisor, because no one wanted to help us on this project, so we were kind of going it alone as freshmen. When I came back [to GA], there was a very established team. They had their own Makerspace, their own tools, and everything,
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Hometown: Greenwich, Connecticut Major: Systems Engineering major, Mathematics and Engineering Entrepreneurship minor Activities: Captain of the Varsity Field Hockey team, captain of the Women's Alpine Ski team, Human Resources Director for Kappa Alpha Theta, Advancing Women in Engineering Student Advisory Board so I continued. I was also basically out of courses, because I had taken every AP you could take in my first few years, so I ended up picking up electives. There was a teacher teaching interdisciplinary engineering and art courses. You would write some code and it would program a robot to draw a design. We designed clocks and also programmed them and wired them. I came in freshman year intending to do mechanical engineering. I didn't like the courses and I didn't love my options after graduation, so I switched to systems because I thought it was more flexible. You’re able to mold it into what you want to do, and that's definitely been the case. Street: How have you found your experience and community as a woman in engineering? AM: This is where my background going to an all–girls school really helped. Having such a strong foundation and being able to come back and graduate with that strong foundation, I came in fairly confident that I would be able to do it, and that my gender wouldn't be the thing that would be holding me back from becoming an engineer. I'm very fortunate in that systems is either pretty even or almost female-dominated, and there is a good group of women in my year, so I kind of had a group to work with to work on my problem sets. But at board meetings, people will share experiences, and there definitely still are micro-aggressions, overt aggression, and discriminatory comments from students, teachers, and TAs across-the-board. There still is a lot of work to be done in terms of
making women feel comfortable in the engineering space, and setting them up to succeed if they're coming from a place of disadvantage. It's the kind of thing where you show up and you're working on a group project and you kind of get siloed into the "Oh you'll take notes." I worked as a developer the past few years, and sometimes people assume that you're the least technical person. But there is no set profile of what that looks like. It starts all the way from what kind of toys your parents give you. Is your brother getting the blocks and you're getting the dolls? Or are you both getting blocks and are you both getting dolls? It starts way back, so increasing awareness and increasing understanding and how we can strengthen the pipeline and how we can begin to tackle both the conscious and unconscious biases are huge areas that we’re working on. On the AWE [Advancing Women in Engineering] Board, I'm the freshman transition com-
Sophia Dai | Photographer
mittee lead, so I'm in charge of planning events for freshmen coming in. Street: What are you hoping to do when you graduate Penn? AM: After school I will be working in New York as a product manager for Goldman Sachs on their Marquee platform, basically handling most likely API externalization for some data sets that we offer to institutional clients. It's kind of perfect for me. I get to do more management and leadership that I'm really interested in, but also staying somewhat more technical and fairly knowledgeable. And I’ve worked there for 2 years so I think I know the lay of the land, hopefully. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
LIGHTNING ROUND Street: Favorite class at Penn? AM: EAS 595 Foundations of Leadership taught by Dr. Jaggard. Great class. I am a little biased because I am the TA, but the class that most changed my life–that class hands down. Street: What is your drink order? AM: I used to drink a lot of English Breakfast tea. I'm getting into matcha. From Starbucks it's an iced green tea, no sugar. Street: Wardrobe staple? AM: Either leggings or sneakers. It’s so dorky, but if I could wear running shoes everywhere I totally would. They’re so much more comfortable than any type of shoe.
Meet Michael Adjei–Poku: The Student Who Serves as the Captain of MERT Ad ria n
The senior talks about his tumultuous journey choosing his majors and his favorite parts of MERT shifts.
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By Amy Xiang Michael Adjei–Poku (C ’20) began his journey at Penn by moving into Kings Court English College House, his seventh choice dorm. He says this ended up being “the best thing that could’ve happened” to him. As a shy and reserved freshman having been placed in a dorm he had no desire to live in, Michael was extremely grateful for the initial connection he made with his PHINS (Peers Helping Incoming New Students) mentor, who also happened to introduce him to his girlfriend of three years. Flash forward to now—Michael served as the PHINS coordinator for the Class of 2023’s NSO during his role as an NSO intern this past summer. He wanted to provide the same help and support to freshmen struggling with issues such as loneliness, which he faced in his initial months. “I clearly remember running into several freshmen who seemed to be the exact same as me three years ago. When I came in, I was super shy. I didn't really know what I was doing or where I was going. I wasn't the person to speak out and ask questions. I kind of just sat back,” Michael says. "I could tell who those fresh-
men were, so I tried to go out of my way to ask them ‘Are you looking for something?’ or ‘Can I help you in any way?'" he explains. "Then they tell you and you get into a conversation and see them opening up. And hopefully they’re off to a better start at Penn because of it." Now, three years later, Michael is in a much more secure place. He is majoring in biological basis of behavior (BBB) and criminology and spends much of his time fulfilling his role as the captain of MERT (Medical Emergency Response Team). Michael got involved with MERT his sophomore year after getting his EMT license back at home in Utah, and he has risen through the ranks. Now he dedicates an average of 15–20 hours to MERT each week. “But I love every minute,” he says with a smile. His favorite things about MERT? First, the people: “We're a pretty tight knit group. We spend eight hour shifts together, just chilling, waiting for calls. I'm super close with a lot of people there and I really like them. They make the boring parts of the job less boring, and we’re also there for each
other outside of the job.” He also calls himself an “adrenaline junkie,” and says that he enjoys the process of responding to calls and biking around campus. Lastly, and most importantly, he loves “the positive impact that you can have on a certain person's day.” He explains that most students they encounter are in unfortunate circumstances and might even be having “the worst day of their life.” Michael says that MERT student workers provide a unique perspective through which they can help their fellow peers get through these adverse situations, which Michael calls “the most fulfilling thing.” “We can say, ‘Hey, we know what you're going through. We know what school is like, and we're here to help you and talk to you as well.’ We try and talk them through whatever is going on so they're not as overwhelmed by all the lights, medics, and officers. You can really tell that it helps people out,” Michael adds. As for his academic journey, getting to this point was no
easy feat. Michael explains that he has essentially been on a pre–med track his “entire life.” With his dad and brother both being doctors, it was the only profession he could imagine himself doing—that is, until he found his passion in other areas such as criminology, which he took on purely because the subject interested him. “I would say I’ve had a pretty chaotic journey towards choosing my major. I came in as a bio major, but that's just because bio was my favorite subject in high school. I wasn't dead set on it or anything,” Michael says. After taking some biology classes and not enjoying them, Michael considered majors in BBB, economics, and psychology before returning to BBB in the end and adding on crimi-
nology as well. “I'm technically still finishing all the pre–med courses, but I'm not planning on going to med school. It's just not appealing to me. My parents still haven't accepted it yet. They still think I'll change my mind,” Michael adds. Deciding not to go to med school and radically altering his life course remains a significant mental adjustment for Michael, but he has learned to accept the uncertainty. “I just recently got over the hump of me personally accepting that I no longer want to be a doctor. It was a large decision for me because that's what I always thought I would be and realizing that it wasn't my calling took a while,” Michael says. “But now that I’ve decided, it feels very liberating. I don’t regret it and I don’t think I will.”
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America is Tired of Singing Competitions Why the novelty of reality singing competition shows has declined in the past decade. MEHEK BOPARAI
17 years ago, the first season finale of American Idol aired and amassed over 22 million viewers. The winner, Kelly Clarkson, not only received a record deal with RCA Records, but saw her name rise in charts months later with
singles such as pop–rock anthem “Since U Been Gone.” With six top 10 hits by the end of 2005, she became the first true star to come out of a reality singing competition. As the pool of game show victors continued to in-
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crease—Carrie Underwood, Jordin Sparks, Phillip Phillips, David Cook—so did the number of game shows themselves. Singing ability, though, was no longer the only criterion at hand. America’s Got Talent, one of the more notable competition shows, has a reputation for producing stars like Grace VanderWaal. However, the actual premise of the show does not solely include singers, but any type of talent. Some shows, such as The Voice, add external elements beyond vocal talent to maintain intrigue. The NBC show uses the gimmick of the judges facing away from the performer in large red chairs and spinning around when they find a voice that they desire on their team. The charm of the television program hardly derives from its contestants, but from the judges acting as characters, taking playful jabs at one another. The most recent program
of interest, over a decade since the prime of American Idol, is Fox’s The Masked Singer. Rather than introducing random contestants to promote the rags–to–riches narrative, it takes already–known entertainers and costumes them in eccentric attire to perform in front of a crowd. The purpose for the judges is to play detective and figure out their true identities. The formula of taking an unknown person and turning them into a star is no longer a novelty. At the root of the entertainment industry, there is no longer a need for exposure for the common person anymore. A record deal can be obtained by a high school teenager, uploading Youtube videos of themselves singing from the comfort of their home. The next Kelly Clarkson could be found with a Twitter thread or TikTok page. The originality of cultivating a star through America’s votes has gone stale.
Is there a higher intrinsic value behind today’s do–it– yourself artists compared to those who underwent an audition process and weeks of competition performances to receive a record deal? When examining the trajectory of the both, it’s not that simple. Among the 17 seasons of American Idol, only a handful became household names in the industry. Additionally, due to the saturation of content on social media and streaming services, algorithms are inreasingly becoming the method through which people find new music, rather than focusing on empirical talent. Nevertheless, there does remain the possibility that America is tired of singing competitions altogether—a concept wrung out of all of its quality of interest. It's time to find a new avenue to both find new talent and entertain audiences, one that might not involve T–Pain dressed as a masked monster.
Enhance your Penn experience, check out The Rotunda! The Rotunda is a community-gathering place that is fueled by the belief that art is a catalyst for social change and that the arts can lead to the formation of meaningful partnerships between Penn & surrounding neighborhoods. Over 300 events are oﬀered every year, including live music, ﬁlm, spoken word, theater, art, dance, education, youth programs, arts incubation, and various experimental genres. As an alcohol-free, smoke-free venue, The Rotunda provides a critical social alternative for all ages. Please check out TheRotunda.org for weekly events or ﬁnd us on Facebook. @TheRotundaPhilly As an alcohol-free/smoke-free venue, The Rotunda provides an invaluable social alternative for all ages.
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the my chemical romance reunion: what you need to know Since the band's breakup in 2013, emo fans have eagerly awaited this day. MELANNIE JAY
The latest news of the emo revival arrived not with a bang but with a whimper, in the form of a quiet Twitter and Instagram announcement from My Chemical Romance: tickets for a single show would go on sale on Friday, Nov. 1, 2019 at 12 p.m. PST. The performance will take place on Dec. 20, 2019 at Shrine Expo Hall in Los Angeles, the band's first since their breakup in 2013. With so little information available, Killjoys and Members of the Black Parade are left wondering whether this is a flash in the pan, or if they have reason to fully unpack their black t–shirts and eyeliner that have been sitting in boxes for the past six years. Some information can be gleaned from the announcement, however simple: the word "RETURN," in all caps, is featured in
the promotional image, supporting early speculation that this is a full reunion and not a one–off show. Two stone angels make up the art, while the caption, "Like Phantoms Forever," is a reference to MCR's 2002 debut EP. Fans have been clamoring for a reunion ever since the band broke up in 2013. There was a brief flicker of hope in 2016, when the band posted a new logo, "MCRX," and the cryptic date of Sept. 23, 2016. What some speculated was a reunion tour turned out to be a reissue of their signature album Welcome to the Black Parade, accompanied by previously–unreleased demos. Reunion speculation resumed earlier this year, when Joe Jonas said in an interview with KISS FM, "I’ve got some dirt. My
Chemical Romance apparently were rehearsing next to us in New York recently…I thought they broke up, so I don’t know." MCR guitarist Frank Iero laughed off the rumor. Frontman Gerard Way, meanwhile, has responded vaguely to interview questions about a possible reunion. He told Billboard in 2017, "I wouldn't count [a reunion] out, but at the same time everybody's doing stuff in their lives now." Most recently, when asked by The Guardian if there was any chance of a reunion, he said, "I miss playing with the guys, but I don’t think so…" On some level, this is the ideal time for an MCR comeback. Fellow emo band Fall Out Boy is embarking on the Hella Mega Tour next summer with Green
Day and Weezer, while Panic! at the Disco released Pray for the Wicked in 2018. The so–called emo revival is in full swing. At the same time, the members of MCR appear to have moved on with their lives. Way not only created DC Comics' Young Animal imprint but serves as executive producer for Netflix's The Umbrella Academy. Iero, meanwhile, fronts a new band called Frank Iero and the Future Violents. Keyboardist James Dewees fronts Reggie and the Full Effect and recently left The Get Up Kids. A full reunion of My Chemical Romance would likely mean either stepping back from or abandoning these other projects, making it a costly decision for everyone. This reunion performance
s y to b wke v e r y Pho w DeFa well be testing Dre
the waters, performing together as a band again and using that as a basis for further performances or potentially new music (neither of which have been confirmed at this time). Perhaps they could reunite, but not participate in the constant album and tour rat race of younger, newer bands. Certainly, however, any kind of news from MCR is cause for celebration from fans who have waited eagerly for their return.
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Jay Som is a Well–Oiled Machine at The Foundry Hot off the release of 'Anak Ko,' the group hasn't lost their original charm. SAM KESLER
I'll admit that the Jay Som Tiny Desk Concert is one of my favorites. Their heavily produced sound comes off perfectly when put in the intimate space and boiled down to the four core members of the group. That video was what made me initially a fan, the group trading jokes just as well as they shared guitar licks and small–but powerful–synchronizations. On Tuesday, two years out from the Tiny Desk taping, that same energy was present at the Foundry. A glowing blue tower full of cars stood on the outskirts of the Fillmore, and people clad in black lined up for the Sum 41 show in the main atrium of the theatre. The side entrance led to the Foundry, the Fillmore's smaller venue with a bar in the back and a stage only a couple feet higher than the floor. boy scouts opened, led by Taylor Vick, primarily playing songs off their latest release, Free Company. The group plays sleepy but sturdy music not unlike that of Frankie Cosmos, with Vick's voice somewhere between Stef Chura and Adrianne Lenker of Big Thief. The set, while a bit quiet, was entirely heartfelt, and Vick's voice was filled with a sincerity that could only be found in a live setting. The highlight came with their song "Get Well Soon," fitting, given that Jay Som also released a song titled, "Get Well," though this was unfortunately unaddressed. 8
Jay Som began their set with the opener off their latest album, Anak Ko (meaning "my child" in Tagalog), "If You Want It." The song starts with a steady and structured riff played on two guitars. The slight dissonance between the two evoked a darkness that had been lacking in Jay Som's music in previous recordings. Frontwoman Melina Duterte's voice adds a hushed cynicism, what some may call crooning but to me feels similar to a late–night radio host whispering to her audience. At the end of the song, there's a rapid series of synthesizer notes I had assumed were produced by a sequencer, a module that automatically produces complex arpeggiations. I was surprised, then, to discover that Duterte played these herself on stage, as effortlessly as she plays the guitar and sings. They followed up with the title song off of their debut album, Turn Into, and "Baybee," from their 2017 album Everybody Works. The group's synergy was evident throughout, with instrument trade–offs happening quickly and silently between songs. Similarly, the trade–offs in harmonies between bass, guitars, and synths were all seamless and of studio quality. Some of that was lent through electronic elements, but some was through sheer effort and dedication. At one point of cacophony in the outro of a song, most of the band pounded on their instruments while the bassist furiously scrubbed his strings, producing a muddy, warbling
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sound that enveloped the surrounding noise. It felt almost euphoric, but still grounded in what was right before me—a band giving it their all to reproduce the perfection of the record. The band's California roots were also evident throughout their music, and their glowing, sandy guitar sounds mixed perfectly with the off– kilter synths. Although the hour–long set featured some new tracks like "Nighttime Drive" and title track "Anak Ko," they made sure to balance it out with classics like "The Bus Song" and "Baybee," and some semi–deep–cuts like "Pirouette." They closed out on their two most languid songs, "I Think You're Alright" and "Lipstick Stains." Regrettably, however, my favorite track off of Anak Ko, "Crown," didn't make an appearance on the setlist, and the band left without an encore. This was likely in their favor though—the shorter performance full of hits meant there was little drag in the night. An app on my phone automatically detects when music is playing and identifies the song. Typically, it works about fifty percent of the time, but it picked up songs throughout Jay Som's performance, a true testament to how tight their set was. The band had a clear and present dexterity that could only come from practice and chemistry, and Duterte's skills on guitar and captivating vocals held the night steady.
PHOTOS BY ALEC DRUGGAN
Rex Orange County Is More Confused Than Ever on 'Pony' The artist's third studio album demonstrates a maturity through the acceptance of the unknown. MEHEK BOPARAI
When Rex Orange County released “Loving is Easy” over two years ago, the track quickly racked up hundreds of millions of streams. Adopted by the same teenagers who spent 2014 scrolling through Vine and wearing black–and–white checkered Vans, it was a happy–go– lucky song about swimming in a sticky–sweet romance. Older songs like “Sunflower” and “Best Friend” rose to the surface and became coveted pieces of the niche known to most as bedroom pop. There’s something distinctive about the sound of Alex O’Connor, the artist behind Rex Orange County, who has now put out three studio albums. His most recent, Pony, was released this past week. O’Connor articulates a blunt sense of truth, paired with contrasting, rather than complementary, production. However, his latest work has a newfound sense of maturity embedded throughout its ten tracks. On “Face to Face,” O’Connor vocalizes the animosity he feels towards love and who he shares it with, resulting in a toxic pattern of fights and miscommunication rather than romance and intimacy. While the theme itself strongly parallels that of Frank Ocean’s “White Ferrari,” it strays far away from the conventions of a ballad, instead embodying an upbeat, hop–along production. “I grew up, you grew down,
we found out / Everything matters now / We grew up while you let yourself down I want out” opens and closes the song, properly characterizing the track as a moment of reflection. This reflection carries on throughout as a pivotal sign of growth in O’Connor, who has always relied upon a stream–of–consciousness style to properly turn his thoughts into concrete statements. However, while his 2017 track “Best Friend” comes from the perspective of a boy who openly admits he will hurt the girl he is seeing, the thoughts on Pony are much less defined. On “Always,” the singer relays the discontinuity between how he perceives his own mental state and the people around him. He questions whether or not his life is truly normal. On “Laser Lights,” the poppy melody focuses on a dissatisfaction with social interactions and being an artist who dislikes their own art. The album’s emotional climax arrives with “Pluto Projector,” a raw confession that is sonically minimalistic, until the influx of string instruments in the final moments. Its a love song, a dedication to his long–time girlfriend. It seems as though O’Connor’s moments of clarity come when they are directed at how he feels towards others rather than himself. He fits right in with
PHOTO PROVIDED BY PARADIGM TALENT
Generation Z adolescents searching for a sense of identity by attaching it to something else—a romantic partner, a political viewpoint. There is something endearing about his candor, but it doesn’t accomplish beyond a heightened sense of affection and confusion.
Pony signifies a new phase in the canon of Rex Orange County that's defined by an honest acceptance of not knowing. Through maintaining his common tropes of talk–singing and self–doubt, coupled with a distinctive sound, this album does well to identify his growth. It
seems as though Alex O’Connor is navigating the same themes of distress and lack of identity that plague his audience, which a simple Twitter refresh would reveal. Above all else, he represents an embrace of denial—and beckons the rest of us to follow suit.
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Coffee, Social Impact, A New Roastery: A Conversation With Saxbys' Nick Bayer and David Amos
Street chatted with the owners of Philly's favorite coffee shop about how they want "make life better" for our community — and the coffee industry as a whole. Karin Hananel With a new in–house roastery and an ever–expanding social impact program, things at Saxbys are moving faster than ever. This Philadelphia institution continues to stay true to their mission to “Make Life Better” with the launching of their new coffee program, and Street sat down with CEO and Founder Nick Bayer as well as Vice President of Coffee David Amos to explore exactly what powers their endless pursuit for progress. Walking into the Saxbys HQ was exciting and, somehow, instantly familiar. While their HQ isn’t one of their regular cafes, I still got treated to some cappuccinos while alternative music soundtracked the scene. Everyone was kind and friendly, with genuine interest about my presence in the office flowing out of them. Our conversation ranged from jokes about David’s sportcoat to how the modern workplace is more diverse than ever. The casual and open atmosphere contextualized Saxbys as a company based on relationships and hospitality rather than corporate rigidity. This company–wide mindset starts with Saxbys' Philadelphia roots. On the choice of Philadelphia as the company’s home base, Nick emphasized that while Philadelphia is a city of great history and stature with a fast–growing local economy, it’s also plagued with immense generational poverty and a failing school system, amongst other things. For him, these social issues feed into Saxbys mission, saying, “We have a really interesting intersection here in Philadelphia to build a business like Saxbys, a company that makes financial and social impact, and Philadelphia is the perfect city for it…you need your real businesses to also help solve
social issues throughout the city.” The brand's social impact falls into two main categories: their experiential learning program and their inclusive employment. Nick explained that with their experiential learning program, Saxbys partners with colleges across the area like La Salle University, Temple University, and Drexel University to enable students to design and run their very own Saxbys cafe on campus. They’re
are taught not just how to make the perfect latte or a cappuccino, but also valuable life skills that they can bring to any career. Dubbed “power skills,” learnings like emotional intelligence, critical thinking, and cultural agility can turn many baristas into businesspeople over time. With the gargantuan, 7,000 square foot Saxbys roastery that just opened in South Philadelphia, their social impact has
coffee—from sourcing and roasting to surveying how customers like the roasts. Now, how does the coffee contribute to Saxbys mission to "Make Life Better?" To Nick and David, it stems from a positive cafe experience for a customer with a delicious cup of coffee and good service, making their commitment to a sustainable supply chain worth it. Given the company’s emphasis
Lead Roster Gregg Roberson at the Roastery. Courtesy of Saxbys.
in charge of fully managing the cafe with Saxbys’ support. This partnership is unique in its execution, with Nick mentioning that “there’s really never been a private business partnering with universities to provide this level of experience.” Saxbys also carries out social impact in their day–to–day operations with inclusive and upwardly mobile job opportunities. “There’s a lot of young people in the city who don’t get the opportunity to go to college," Nick said. So what can we do as a company to give them something positive and productive in their lives that can be more than just a job, but can turn into a career?” By working at Saxbys, employees
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expanded, with a focus on how to take their ethical approach to coffee global. With an in–house roastery, Saxbys now has more control over how they source their coffees, the importance of which was underscored in David’s words as he spoke about his position and the coffee program. David elaborated on what exactly being the Vice President of Coffee means, saying, “I have relationships all over the world from before Saxbys…and some new relationships over the course of the last year and a half, and so I pick out coffees from families that we want to work with and meet the flavor profile that we want for our guests.” In other words, he’s in charge of all things
on relationships as the core to its success, Nick saw no other way to further that than by appointing David to “take what Saxbys believes in and inject that into what [their] coffee program was going to look like.” This meant transitioning Saxbys from buying pre– roasted coffee to roasting their own, which depended on a lot of different aspects of David’s expertise, with the most important being interpersonal connections. While David noted relationships with growers are dependent on quality, that quality is also dependent on the relationship, saying, “a lot of them are producers I’ve worked with for many years… the biggest mistake you can make in sourcing coffee is to try and do
it completely alone and without relationships. You have people all along the supply chain that you depend on to help you make things happen.” This method of sourcing and roasting was enabled by the development of the roastery, which was a year and over a million dollars in the making. Led by Lead Roaster Gregg Roberson, the roastery boasts a 728–ton yearly roast capacity and state of the art Loring Smart Roasters, which use 80% less fuel than conventional roasters, helping Saxbys further its mission in all aspects of the company, including sustainability. As for the future of Saxbys now that they’ve gone through the giant undertaking of starting an entire in–house coffee program, they’re looking to education, with Nick saying, “the big, critical thing for us right now is to get the level of education of coffee out to our people [employees]…there’s no magic wand you can wave to make 900 people the next David Amos…that’s the next big step, to get the knowledge and passion of coffee out to everyone.” We ended our conversation with some words of advice for college students. David talked about the importance of putting in the work to get to the dream job, saying, "I get a lot of people asking me, because I travel and that's kind of the fun side of my job, 'How can I do that?' And what they're really asking me is how can I do that tomorrow. And the answer is you can't. I've done every job in coffee that there could be...and it gives you the full perspective." Nick echoed the message of purpose, "you have a lot of success in front of you, don't make decisions on what someone's gonna pay [you] today... only go work for companies that matter, that mean something."
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Five Ways to Observe Veterans Day in Philadelphia
Honor our veterans by attending one of these unique events. Jordan Wachsman
Veterans Day is just around the corner. The federal holiday, a recognition of those who have served in the United States Armed Forces, will take place on Nov. 11. From participating in a Veterans Day Parade to taking in artistic works from the Joe Bonham Project, read on for your guide to honoring our troops in Philadelphia. The Joe Bonham Project Hahnemann Library at Drexel University will be showcasing illustrations from the Joe Bonham Project through Nov. 12. The project consists of multiple portraits created at military hospitals around the country depicting wounded American servicepeople. The artwork has been brought to Drexel as part of the “Media: Past, Present and Future” Symposium, and “represents efforts of wartime illustrators to document the struggles of U.S. service personnel undergoing rehabilitation after traumatic front–line injuries.” Veterans Day at The National Constitution Center On Nov. 11, head to the National Constitution Center to participate in a plethora of Veterans Day activities. At the Center there will be letter writing stations, a flag–folding challenge, and demonstrations of a Continental Army soldier’s life. Visitors will also have the opportunity to chat with community partners and veterans and to hear their stories. Veterans Day Parade The fifth Annual Philadelphia Veterans Parade is set to take place on Sunday, Nov. 3, at 12 p.m. The parade will span from Juniper and Market Street to North 5th Street, and will also include a Veterans Festival.
During the event, a wreath–laying ceremony will take place to honor veterans. Parade–goers will also have the opportunity to send and create letters and flags to send to active–duty service members. While there you can expect to enjoy live music from Minutes to Midnight, Lucky Leo, and Dan Stonerook, and grab a bite from one of the many food trucks that will be in attendance. Panel on Veterans and Healthcare The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and members of the Military Medicine Student Interest Group at Drexel University have organized a Veterans Day Panel centering around veteran needs. The goal of the discussion is to introduce attendees to the unique needs of military people. According to organizers, “this workshop will require you to critically think about what it means to care for a veteran or military–affiliated patient.” The panel will take place on Monday, Nov. 11, from 12 p.m.–1 p.m. Veterans Day at the Museum of the American Revolution The Museum of the American Revolution organized special programming in honor of Veterans Day Weekend. On Friday, Nov. 10 visitors will have the opportunity to visit Tun Tavern, the site at which the Marine Corps was formed, which is down the street from the museum. On Saturday, Nov. 11, Philip Mead, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Chief Historian, will present on veteran and memoirist Joseph Plumb Martin at the museum. Martin wrote an account of his trying experience as a revolutionary soldier in 1830, providing fascinating insights into a soldier’s experience.
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'Revolution of Our Times': Penn Students from Hong Kong Reﬂect on the Protests
he July heat surrounded Claudia Chung (C ‘20) as she stood on the streets of Yuen Long, a town in northwest Hong Kong. Sweat stuck to her clothes as she walked in a crowd of thousands, many dressed head–to–toe in black shirts and pants, thick gloves, hard hats, and face masks. From above, the protesters looked like a sea of floating umbrellas—a safeguard against pepper spray and rubber bullets. In Claudia’s backpack were two liters of water, goggles, and a first aid kit she hoped she wouldn’t have to use. “光復香港! 時代革命!” The phrase traveled from one voice to the next in the crowd, onto posters and banners raised in the air. “Liberate Hong Kong! Revolution of Our Times!” Claudia was hot, tired, and worried about getting home. It was nearing evening, when the older protesters would leave and tensions between the younger protesters and police would begin to escalate. She checked her phone to see if the subways were still running—no connection. A sound like a gunshot tore through the air. Claudia looked around, heart pounding, bracing for the sound of screams. But there was nothing except the slow rise of white smoke at the front line. She turned to see her friends calmly donning their masks. “It’s just tear gas,” they said. “Put on your mask.” In February 2019, the Hong Kong government proposed amendments to extradition laws that would’ve allowed Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to extradite criminal suspects to China, Taiwan, and Macau. Many Hongkongers feared that China would use the law to extradite, try, and imprison political dissidents in the mainland, which they felt would infringe upon the autonomy of the special administrative region. This triggered a protest movement of millions that has persisted for more than five months. The Hong Kong government officially withdrew the extradition bill on Oct. 23, but many of the pro–democracy protesters are demanding more, including universal suffrage, accountability for police brutality, and the resignation of Lam. As demonstrators and police collide in Hong Kong, the protests have shed light on the complexities of Hong Kong and its diaspora. The three Hong Kong students at Penn interviewed for this article, some of whom have protested in Hong Kong themselves, are navigating their varying beliefs towards the protests. 1 2 3 4 T H S T R E E T M A G A Z I N E N O V E M B E R 6 , 2 01 9
With a deep connection to their identities as Hongkongers, these students also wrestle with the everyday reality that they’re here at Penn, thousands of miles from home, while tensions rage. Some students protest, others don’t. All say that they’re worried about Hongkongers back home. The July 27 protest in Yuen Long was the first time Claudia saw police use tear gas in person, but it wasn’t the first time she’d taken to the streets. “Protests are very common in the culture of Hong Kong,” she says. “Whether it is about local legislation and policies or things like the Tiananmen Square Massacre, during all those times there were protests in Hong Kong.” Growing up in a pro–democracy, pro–demonstration family meant that Claudia was always aware of Hong Kong’s tensions with China. “According to my mom, the first protest I was at, I was five,” Claudia says. “It’s in my blood, pretty much.” Although she protested every weekend with her family while she was in Hong Kong over the summer, coming back to school
"I SHOULD BE PUTTING IN MY TWO CENTS. BUT I'M HERE, STUCK TAKING MIDTERMS." has made it harder to support the movement. “Frankly, the first month and a half [of school] was very difficult,” she says. “Right now, I feel like I’m not doing my part because I’m young, I’ve been privileged enough to be educated at Penn. I should be putting in my two cents. But I’m here, stuck taking midterms.” She also feels a responsibility towards the younger protesters in the movement, some of whom are still in high school. “That’s what angers me the most as a 21–year–old, is that I’m sitting here, away
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from the whole situation, when I should be protecting people younger than me from harsh realities of life,” she says. Since China gained control of Hong Kong from Britain in 1997, the special administrative region has occupied a fraught position because of the “one country, two systems” policy. Hong Kong has its own legislative branch, an independent judiciary, a free–market economy, and elections that are not directly controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. Citizens of Hong Kong also have freedom of speech, press, and religion. Hong Kong’s constitution, or the Basic Law, states that its “ultimate aim” is the implementation of universal suffrage, the election of the chief executive by popular vote. Now, only citizens on an election committee, a fraction of the population, have the power to pick the chief executive. Although Hong Kong is autonomous in many ways, China still has control over the region’s “diplomacy and defense,” reserves the right to interpret its constitution, and has informal influence over the government through officials who act in Beijing’s interests. China has also stalled greater electoral reforms in the decades following the handover, resulting in Hong Kong’s history of demonstrations against the mainland’s influence. The second–longest movement in Hong Kong’s history, called the Umbrella Movement or Occupy Central, took place in 2014 and aimed to secure universal suffrage. After 79 days, when police cleared out the last protesters occupying the central business district, universal suffrage still hadn’t been realized. “You’ve had this tension between China making decisions that it thinks is justified based on the fact that it’s one country, and people in Hong Kong—some of them, anyway—who feel as though Beijing is not respecting two systems,” says Avery Goldstein, a political science professor and inaugural director of the Center for the Study of Contemporary China. He believes that the failure of previous movements to secure electoral reform has led to mounting frustration among Hongkongers, intensifying support for the most recent protests. “The fear was that if [the protesters] didn’t keep up the pressure this time, the same thing would happen that happened in 2014: protests, protests end, nothing changes,” Goldstein says. “So the feeling was, this time, they have to really get some substantial concessions from the government in Hong Kong.” Claudia was in boarding school in the United States during the Umbrella Movement and wasn’t able to protest. She views the current movement as another chance for her to participate in a struggle she cares deeply about. Claudia decided to protest because she believes that China hasn’t lived up to its promise to deliver universal suffrage, and that the nation’s policies in the past few years have shown a “slow encroachment” on Hong Kong’s autonomy. She cites the disappearance and imprisonment of booksellers importing banned books into the region as an example. “I felt like it was my obligation to show up. Because, one, I was born and raised here. This is my hometown. And two, I was 16 back then in 2014, and I watched … college–age students on the streets fighting for the same things, and they failed. And I felt like, personally, this was a redemption route,” she says. At Penn, Claudia feels she often has to correct people who as-
Claudia Chung (C'20) sume that Hong Kong is the same as mainland China. When students ask her if she’s from China, she always clarifies that she considers herself a citizen of Hong Kong. She’s even lost friendships with international Chinese students at Penn who have claimed she isn’t “patriotic enough” towards China. “But for me, why would I be patriotic to China?” she asks. “I’m not from there.” Celine Cheung (C ‘23) has also struggled with acclimating to Penn while the protests continue back home, especially when speaking to students who don’t necessarily hold the same views. She was one of as many as two million people who took to the streets on June 16, and she supports the pro–democracy movement. Celine has encountered similar confusion from people who’ve asked her if she’s from China, when she strongly identifies as a Hongkonger. She also has an agreement with a hallmate from Beijing not to discuss the protests. She feels like many people at Penn don’t know or care about the protests or favor the pro–Beijing point of view. “I thought that Penn would be more liberal and more … respectful of these kinds of movements,” she says. But attitudes toward the movement vary, even among Hong Kong students at Penn. Although Claudia and Celine are supportive of the protests and more critical of the Chinese government, the University’s Hong Kong Students Association (HKSA) positions itself closer to the middle, encouraging both protesters and the Hong Kong and Chinese governments to work together towards compromise. “It is only through dialogue that the Government can understand the protesters’ needs and demands, and this will also provide an opportunity for both sides to learn to see from each other’s perspectives,” reads HKSA’s official statement, sent via Facebook
Messenger. Board members declined to provide individual interviews. “Going forward, we wish that both sides can come together and build a peaceful and democratic future for the Hong Kong that we have all come to know and love.” Chris (C ‘22), who moved to Hong Kong from Canada when he was seven, feels conflicted about the situation. He’s asked that only his first name be used, because of concerns for his family members who still live there. Although he believes in Hong Kong’s autonomy and democratic culture, he isn’t sure how to feel about the escalating violence between protesters and police. In Hong Kong, Chris attended an ethnically and culturally diverse international school, which he acknowledges isolated him from many of the concerns felt by native Hongkongers. Chris says he has never discussed Hong Kong politics with his father, who was born and raised in Hong Kong, and his mother, who is South Korean. “Hong Kong is very culturally varied and also economically varied, so your position in either of those two will greatly impact how close you are to the protests,” Chris says. For him, the most visceral part of the movement has been how it’s made daily life at home feel much more precarious. He says he’s always felt that Hong Kong was very safe, but that clashes between protesters, police, and Beijing supporters have caused him to worry about the safety of his parents and friends. When he last spoke to his parents on the phone, they recounted going out to eat and encountering “protesters outside of the restaurant banging on the windows.” “That just sounds very hostile,” he says. “It seems like a very drastic change from what I’m used to at home.” N O V E M B E R 6 , 2 01 9 3 4 T H S T R E E T M A G A Z I N E 1 3
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"AT LEAST YOU CAN TELL PEOPLE WE FOUGHT FOR IT." Chris says his friends in Hong Kong now must navigate class cancelations, constant shutdowns of public transportation, and increasing danger and vandalism in public spaces. Although he understands that protests are meant to be disruptive, the increasingly confrontational attitude of demonstrators feels “destructive” and seems to enforce an “us versus them” mentality. He points to the protest that began on Aug. 12 at the Hong Kong International Airport, which resulted in hundreds of canceled flights. Some protesters attacked two men from mainland China and prevented paramedics from reaching one of them for several hours, even after he had lost consciousness. Although Claudia’s aware of the violent tactics employed by some pro– democracy activists, large numbers of protesters she encountered during the summer were peaceful and came from “all walks of life.” “You see mothers with children,” she says. “You see a lot of baby carriages, you see a lot of people pushing children, and then you also see a lot of middle–aged people.” Claudia’s parents and extended family protested together so often that it became another part of daily life. She regularly met with her family for weekend dim sum before going out into the streets
to march. Claudia is more critical of the violence committed by the Hong Kong police, who have used tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and water cannons to disperse crowds. “I personally know people who have gotten injured during protests, like broken ribs or bruised bones. And people are scared to go to the hospital because police officers are stationed in hospitals—at least public ones—to arrest them,” Claudia says. Goldstein believes that the focus on the injustices on either side has resulted in a situation where both feel they cannot compromise. “You have some really determined protesters who refuse to stop protesting and refuse to give up some of their violent tactics,” he says. “And of course, whenever they do that, the police react, often overreact, by using force against these people.” Goldstein says the Chinese government is resistant to giving public concessions, especially when pressured by violence. The impact of these divisions has gone beyond day–to–day disruptions and physical confrontations. Citizens are now facing a recession brought on by the protests, which have slowed tourism and retail sales. With no immediate end to the crisis in sight, it’s not clear how protesters will reach an agreement with the Hong Kong gov-
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ernment. On top of the withdrawal of the extradition bill, Goldstein predicts that the government will eventually concede to some of the movement’s other demands. He thinks that the resignation of Carrie Lam, an independent commission into police brutality, and a retraction of the label of the protests as ‘riots’ are all “possible” after the unrest ends. According to Goldstein, however, amnesty for arrested protesters and genuine electoral reforms are much more unlikely. Chris hopes that progress will come from the instability and drastic changes Hong Kong has experienced in the last few months and that the protests will at least help to preserve the region’s autonomy. Above all, he wants his home to feel safe again. Celine also wants Hong Kong to “keep its natural state of sovereignty,” but she doesn’t think it’s realistic to assume that will happen. Nevertheless, she believes marching for the movement was the right thing for her to do. During the protests, she saw people in the crowd help each other cross barricades, pass out water in the 90–degree weather, and immediately clear a street so an ambulance could reach the injured. She felt unity with the millions who wanted to speak out against the government.
“Honestly, I was very moved,” she says. “It was sort of revolutionary because we were standing for our future. This was literally it. This is my home, and we’re fighting to preserve what we have.” “The ability to be able to protest is itself a freedom,” says Claudia. She believes that a big reason so many Hongkongers have protested is because they think they might not be able to in the future. “People believe that if we don’t protest now, then this might be the last time we’re even allowed to protest,” she says. “And now people are thinking, ‘Well, even if we don’t get what we demanded for, at least you can tell people we fought for it.’” She notes that among many activists, the fear of not achieving genuine political progress often accompanies an all–or–nothing attitude. If the government doesn’t meet all demands, there are people willing to protest until “everyone gets arrested.” “A lot of front line protesters have this sentiment. They’ve been using this quote from The Hunger Games,” Claudia says. As masked protesters clash with riot police, banners carrying reference to the dystopia flash in the air: “If we burn, you burn with us.” Chelsey Zhu is a features staff writer for Street.
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Café La Maude Brings a European Sensibility to Northern Liberties
Come for the pancake towers and vibrant shakshuka. Stay for everything else. Beatrice Forman It’s a rainy autumn Tuesday, and a large striped awning casts romantic shadows on a quiet block in Northern Liberties. A pair of circular tables sit out front, bookended by chairs with a classic polka–dot upholstery. A lone coffee mug sits atop one of them, no doubt a remnant of a lazy morning spent reading a newspaper or catching up on emails with a strong espresso. If it weren’t for a few distinctly Philadelphia clues, like row houses next to modernist apartment buildings and trash piling up on curbs, you’d think you were transported to a quiet side street in Paris or Beirut. That’s the beauty of Lebanese restaurant Cafe La Maude, hailed as one of the best brunch places in the city. With the flourish of an aromatic cup of coffee or well–crafted steak and
egg platter, this locale lifts customers out of city life and into a world of vibrant flavors and quaint comfort. Owned by Gabi and Nathalie Richan, Cafe La Maude began as a quaint neighborhood cafe without a kitchen. In the early days, before it became a brunch institution and one of its owners, Nathalie, partnered to open Suraya, a Lebanese hot–spot and Philly's 2018 Restaurant of the Year, Cafe La Maude was just a quiet place to sip some coffee and chat with an old friend. The same goal still tracks through the restaurant. The Richans sit at corner tables and discuss the restaurant business and foreign affairs with both strangers and friends, passion oozing from their hand gestures and booming voices. Modernist renderings of family dogs line
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Ethan Wu | Media Director
the back wall, lording over communal bench seating. A coffee bar occupies the opposite side, with menu items scrawled on a chalkboard in loopy handwriting. The space, despite its endless stream of customers and accolades, still feels deeply personal and community–driven. The magic of Cafe La Maude is in the details. The brunch started with a hot chai latte with frothy almond milk. The chai’s inherent spices—a hint of cardamom, a dash of ginger, a heap of cinnamon—shine through, cultivating a sip that engages all the senses. Yet, the tea doesn’t overpower the milk, creating a silky texture that feels natural. Presented with an artful swirl,
the latte is balanced just so, as though each cup comes out exactly the same. Next came the Framboise, a stack of spiced ginger snap chai pancakes piled high with raspberry yogurt, pistachio and rose petals. It’s the breakfast equivalent of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, slightly askew and rich with ornate details. The pancakes have a crispy edge, imbuing each bite with a crunch that complements the yogurt’s sweetness. It pairs flavors that verge on sensory overload. There’s the salty aftertaste of pistachios and the calm fragrance of rose petals and decadence of caramelized banana. The Framboise is intricately layered, yet it’s not busy, and, like the latte, almost effortless. The Entrecôte followed. A sophisticated take on a diner’s steak and eggs platter, it pairs an 8 oz. hanger steak drenched in herbed butter with a well–seasoned vegetable hash and sunny–side–up eggs. Cooked medium, the steak sizzles. The hash isn’t an afterthought, either, with onions adding an extra kick to the the tried–and–true breakfast side. The dish is distinctly Philly and French, combining a heftiness with a refined and experimental sensibility. Finally came the Green Shakshuka. The menu’s emerald crown jewel, it subverts the brunch staple’s construction by
placing the eggs on the bottom of the skillet and swapping bright red tomatoes for the equally vibrant green variety. The shakshuka is perfect for the fall, it’s texture thick like a homemade stew, and enlivened by mixtures both trendy and homey. Sure, there’s kale and fava beans drizzled with a tahini sauce. But there’s also sweet potatoes and fried cauliflower coated in a warm and gooey feta cheese, with the three combining to somehow taste warm and inviting—kind of like a hug from your favorite grandmother. Cafe La Maude could easily be the most austere restaurant in Philadelphia. Most esteemed restaurants are. And yet, it maintains a playful energy. During a Sunday morning rush, Gabi might take a break and lean over your table, asking what you think of the weather. Nathalie might chastise the family next to you, whose kids are building towers out of sugar packets. Cafe La Maude has the spontaneity of true neighborhood joint, breaking the breakfast routine just enough to create something special. Cafe La Maude Location: 816 North 4th Street Hours: Mon—Sun: 7 a.m.—4 p.m.
We Don't Need an All—Girls Marvel Anna Collins Movie
FILM & TV
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It comes as no surprise that the era of female superheroes is upon us. As Marvel has gained mainstream attention with the massive productions of the Avengers franchise, it's become clear that this genre of superhero movie can't escape from popular media trends. This year’s Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson, confirmed Marvel’s desire to follow the trope of the girlboss: a woman who breaks glass ceilings. This is not to say that Captain Marvel is bad—it made a billion dollars at the box office, and has introduced a new role model for female superhero fans—but it does indicate that Marvel knows its audience. After coming off the high of Endgame, castmembers have proposed an all–female Marvel movie. Benedict Cumberbatch, who has played Doctor Strange in the MCU since 2016, said that he supported the idea of an all– female Marvel movie. Elizabeth Olsen, who played Scarlet Witch, agreed. This comes on the heels of one of the most discussed scenes in Endgame—the girls’ scene. Captain Marvel stands before a beaten–up Peter Parker (Tom Holland) as all the other women of Marvel appear behind her to save the day. But is this all such a good idea? Even the aforementioned scene received some pushback from audiences, calling it gratuitous.
While some of these comments certainly come from a certain kind of critic in the comments of YouTube videos—generally a man who is mad that women are even getting films made in their names—there is certainly something to be said about this fanservice. Is there a reason it’s just girls for this battle, other than Marvel trying for #girlpower points? There is no canon reason for these women to be grouped. We get an extended, dramatic shot of them all rolling up together because Marvel eats up the idea of a group of women fighting some baddies. But this pinnacle of feminism is shallow and useless; we don’t want women just standing near each other, we want them to have meaningful friendships. We must demand more than women coexisting: we don’t need their own separate film, but rather to be fleshed out and well– written. The key to a feminist piece of media is not the quantity of women, but the quality. Women need to be more represented in Marvel movies. Out of all 20 Marvel movies, only one and a half of them are about women. But the way to solve these problems is not to throw together the women of the MCU in a movie that likely wouldn’t get much traction because male audiences would write it off. Marvel must not just present more women, but write them better.
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FILM & TV
Deeply Emotional and Real, ‘Modern Love’ Reminds Us What True Love Really Is Jonah Charlton
Amazon Prime’s eight–episode anthology series runs the gamut of human emotion.
Photo Credit: Christopher Saunders/Amazon Studios
What is love? That's a tricky question—just look at the millions of songs and movies lamenting it. It’s one many people spend their entire lives seeking to answer. Modern Love, Amazon Prime’s new eight–episode anthology series, puts it simply: love
is whatever it is to you. Modern Love is based on the New York Times weekly column of the same name that, after 15 years of print, has amassed a vast collection of love stories. The subjects vary in age, gender, and sexual orientation, while the sto-
ries range from somber to joyous. Each of the eight episodes in Modern Love is based on an essay from the NYT column. In 30 minutes or fewer, each episode takes us from the very first introduction of our protagonist to the conclusion of their respec-
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tive love story. This is no easy task, given the complexities of love itself and each unique story, but the writers do it masterfully, due in no small part to the show's star–studded cast. The series is at its best in the first three episodes. The cohesiveness and success of these introductory episodes is due largely to the influence of John Carney, who serves as the director and writer for all three episodes as well as the finale. They strike the perfect balance between poignant lines and over–the–top bits. The first episode, “When the Doorman Is Your Main Man,” brings us a sweet relationship between a single woman Maggie (Cristin Milioti) and her doorman Guzmin (Laurentiu Possa). At the outset, Guzmin seems cold. His rejections of Maggie’s suitors makes it feel like they he has an ulterior motive, but over the course of the episode, Guzmin’s true colors shine through as he helps Maggie through a surprise pregnancy. There isn't a moment of “romance," but that only makes their love, as mentor and mentee, even more real. Its final scene is one of the most powerful moments of the series. Guzmin tells Maggie that all of his rejections weren’t because of the men she was seeing themselves, but because he didn’t see the “it” in her eyes—the "it" being true love and happiness. Carney’s works shines again in episode two, “When Cupid Is a Prying Journalist.” What starts out as just an interview between young dating app developer Joshua (Dev Patel) and New York Times reporter Julie (Catherine Keener) for an upcoming issue becomes a meaningful conversation on both of their love lives, the parallels between them, and the importance of holding onto true love with everything you’ve got. The storyline is predictable (Joshua and his ex find their way back to each other and they kiss as the camera spins around them) but that's not the point. No, each episode won't always have jaw–dropping declarations of love, but it will be sincere and
raw, and you will absolutely feel it in all the right ways. It’s the attention to detail in each and every frame and the particular nature of each line of dialogue that make these first stories feel so personal and real. With that said, Modern Love has one outlier. Episode three, “Take Me as I Am, Whoever I Am” is not in line with the rest of the series’ subtlety and reservedness. And yet, it still works. In fact, Anne Hathaway’s portrayal of Lexi, an elite lawyer with bipolar disorder, makes for my personal favorite episode of the series. The opening scene, reminiscent of La La Land’s infamous musical introduction, alongside other moments in which Hathaway just bursts into song, conveys her bipolar disorder in a unique way. Depressive episodes are depicted through both the storyline and hue changes. Lexi doesn’t find love with her date, as a depressive episode drives her into bed. She finds a different love: a love for herself. Though the series as a whole is not to be missed, episode six, “So He Looked Like Dad. It Was Just Dinner, Right?” is one that the show could’ve done without. The episode's lead, Julia Garner, is great, but the episode's focus on her character's daddy issues misses a beat. Whether you point to the writing itself (as the way the plot unfolds makes the storyline feel even more preposterous than it does from the onset), or the contrived bits thrown in at the end, there’s very little outside of Garner’s performance that makes episode six worthy of a spot in such a well– curated series. Episode six aside, Modern Love has the “it” Guzmin describes so sagely in episode one, that “it” being what makes love, love. Each episode is filled to the brim with emotions and growth, whether they be in a romantic relationship, a friendship, or most importantly, self– love. We may not get the answer to the age–old question of what love is, but Modern Love gives us more than a few heartfelt stories.
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FILM & TV
'The King': A Peculiar Adaptation of A Shakespearean Classic Despite Timothée Chalamet's fame, this film can't quite escape the shadow of its own source material. Anna Collins
Photo Courtesy of Netflix
The King, on all accounts, should be a home run—it has Timothée Chalamet, Robert Pattinson, men rolling around in the mud, and it’s released on Netflix, meaning its mass of Twitter fans can watch it right from their bedroom, free of charge. The film initially gained traction when its trailer was released and people drooled over Timothée Chalamet’s dirt–stained face and messy hairstyle. Even within hours of its release, people were already talking about Robert Pattinson and his weird accent. Despite the fact that The King seemed primed for success, it fumbled with a boring plot, odd pacing, and some uninspired performances. To be fair to The King, director David Michôd has attempted to cram three plays of Shakespeare’s Henriad—Henry IV parts 1 and 2 as well as Henry V—into two hours and twenty minutes of film. Onstage, one of these plays would easily last three hours, with intermissions. The task is a gargantuan one, and it explains the majority of The King’s peculiar structure—the first hour is focused on the events of the Henry IV plays, and the latter focuses on Henry V. Before its release, advertising around the film hesitated to suggest it was an adaptation of Shakespeare, likely because the very idea of Shake-
spearean drama is often boring to audiences, but to ignore this fact of the film is misleading. The events are pulled from these three plays, and its characters are directly transferred. Even if scenes are changed, Falstaff is still Shakespeare’s drunkard, and Hal his brash king. But what exactly happens in The King? Its first hour is about Hal (Chalamet), the heir to the English throne, who spends his time romping around with his raucous friend Falstaff (Joel Edgerton). His father, Henry IV (Ben Mendelsohn), seems near– death and is dealing with the recent rebellion of Hotspur (Tom Glynn–Carney). Hal steps up as Prince of Wales in battling with Hotspur, which ultimately leads to his ascension to king, and the latter half of the film deals with Hal’s decision to reconquer France, to which he thinks he has a legitimate claim. It is here that the Dauphin (Pattinson), the French heir, comes head to head with Hal, leading to the famous Battle of Agincourt. If this all sounds rather boring, it’s because it is. What makes this story interesting is character relations and political development, but the film throws its audience into its complex structure a little too quickly. The King, despite being hesitant about its Shake-
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spearean roots, is much easier to understand having read its source material—otherwise, everything feels a little rushed and overwhelming. Attempting to cram three plays into one movie is The King's downfall. It tries to reach three separate climaxes within the span of two and a half hours, but halfway through the first, its audience has lost interest. The King also takes itself too seriously. Falstaff, in his source material, is raucous, fun, and very often drunk—he flees from battle, lies to his best friend, and wreaks havoc almost everywhere he goes. However, The King takes Falstaff’s witty conversation and makes him an all–out strategic genius, changing any humorous moments into wry ones. Falstaff, the one hope for some joy in this film, is made out to be a bitter, veteran alcoholic who has very little care for his own life. Still, despite how this alters the DNA of the character, Joel Edgerton is the emotional heart of the film. He is intelligent, caring, and worn out—the only person Hal can trust in these frightening and dark times. Falstaff’s character is given much deeper development than in Shakespeare, an inspired and interesting choice on the filmmaker’s part. However, in shifting his character from being comic relief to being an in-
telligent war vet, the film loses a much–needed source of humor in the dreary, unpleasant world of 15th–century England. Some amusing moments, on the other hand, feel misplaced. The Dauphin, while certainly portrayed well by an unhinged Robert Pattinson, has a heady French accent, makes fun of Hal’s “giant balls with a tiny cock,” and spends his most emotionally–charged moment flailing around in the mud in too– heavy armor. His character feels disconnected from the movie, wcreepy, strange, and only present for about fifteen minutes. Another criminally underwritten part is that of Catherine of Valois (Lily–Rose Depp), Hal’s French fiancée who challenges him on his claim to the throne. She says that “all monarchy is illegitimate,” and is clearly much smarter than everyone around her. It’s Catherine, not Hal, who deserves the spotlight in this film. Despite the obvious draw from Shakespeare, The King is its own film. Most important is its dialogue, which is a peculiar mash–up of modern English and a bastardized old English (proper old English would be impossible for audiences to decipher). One success of the film, however, is in its modern speaking patterns— Henry IV tells a member of his
court that he will “hang you by your fucking neck,” while the film also incorporates some obvious olden markers, like “hisself” and “I know not.” While it’s clearly an anachronistic choice, it’s a compelling one, creating a balance between a completely modern English adaptation and a hard–to–parse, accurate one. Still, this is not Timothée Chalamet’s best performance. He handles some moments well, such as his speech before the Battle of Agincourt, but other times, he reads as a bored, young idiot. While this was Chalamet’s grab at leading–man status, the part is watery and his performance falters—despite the fact that everyone and their mother adores Chalamet, he feels uncharismatic and uninspired. Joel Edgerton overshadows him, giving a moving, varied performance, and the audience finds themselves caring more about him than the monotonous, moody Hal. While The King is not particularly good, it’s not horrendous, either. Some of its performances are good, some are okay, and some are downright strange. Still, many watching the film for Chalamet and Pattinson will be disappointed with its confusing plot and pacing, no matter how cute Timothée looks in his old– timey armor.
'The Notorious RBG': A New Exhibit at the NMAJH Dedicated to the Iconic Supreme Court Justice Anya Tullman
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The exhibit portrays Ruth Bader Ginsburg's incredible journey, despite the adversity she faced as a woman. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a trailblazer for women’s rights and has become, in recent years, a pop culture icon. Appointed to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1993, Ginsburg was, at the time, the second female justice ever. Despite her advanced age, her mental and physical health resembles that of someone years younger. Notorious RBG, an exhibit dedicated to the life of the Supreme Court justice, opened at the National Museum of American Jewish History this month and will be there until January. The exhibit was organized by—and originally opened at—the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. After its stint in Philadelphia, it will continue to travel to museums across the country. The exhibit takes attendees through the life of RBG chronologically. Josh Perelman, the NMJAH's Chief Curator & Director of Exhibitions and Interpretation, emphasized that it was Ginsburg’s familial values and strength of character that enabled her to accomplish such significant achievements throughout her life. “I think [Ginsburg's story] demystifies in a way how someone becomes a Supreme Court justice,” Perelman said. “Becoming a Supreme Court justice does not require inherently that one comes from a background of privilege.” Although RBG sits on the highest court in the land, the exhibit makes attendees feel as though they know her intimately by encapsulating Ginsburg’s most
personal characteristics. “The thing that I learned the most in working on presenting the exhibition was about the Ruth Bader Ginsburg behind the RBG, and just how inspiring a figure she is,” Perelman said. Ginsburg and her office played a significant role in reviewing all the artifacts displayed in the exhibit, and she also lent some of her personal belongings, such as photos and letters. RBG’s initial visit to the Los Angeles exhibit was canceled due to an unexpected cancer treatment. However, Perelman feels “quite optimistic” that she will come to see the exhibit here in Philadelphia. The main theme of the exhibit is gender. Perelman hopes that museum attendees feel inspired by Ginsburg who, despite the many barriers put up against her as a woman, was able to “have a tremendous impact on expanding the freedoms promised by our founding documents to more Americans throughout her career.” Notorious RBG is an exhibit that focuses on the powers of love, perseverance, and morality at a time when Americans need these values more than ever. “We’re thrilled that the exhibition opened to coincide with the beginning of this year’s Supreme Court term,” Perelman said. “Given what’s happening in our world and what’s happening in the Supreme Court today, I can’t imagine a more important and relevant time to be telling RBG’s story.”
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‘Rent’ 20th Anniversary Tour: A Powerful Live Musical Experience Returning to the Merriam Theatre from a sold–out show in March, the Rent 20th Anniversary Tour was a beautiful reminder that Penn students should take advantage of Philly’s live musical scene. Jessica Bao When the musical Rent premiered on Broadway in 1996, it was an immediate cultural phenomenon and critical success. With four Tony awards—including Best Musical—and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Rent changed the theater world forever with its brash, honest, rock– based music, as well as its complex and sympathetic portrayal of those living with HIV/AIDS. Loosely based on Puccini's opera La Bohème, Rent—written by Jonathan Larsen—follows a group of impoverished young artists in 1990s New York City’s East Village, trying to live the bo-
hemian life while grappling with homelessness, addiction, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In 2016, Rent kicked off its 20th anniversary tour, and finally reached Philadelphia in March of 2019. This fall, the tour returned to Merriam Theater on Oct. 18– 20 for a bold, beautiful reminder of not only the joy of bohemia, but also the power of live musicals. Through Harnwell College House’s Arts House, I was able to attend the performance with a group of Penn students. And although I had seen the film adaptation of Rent before, I was unprepared for the emo-
tions that this live tour would bring. Through a two–act format as well as passionate, surprising performances, the Rent 20th anniversary tour captures both the beauty and tragedies of a generation dreaming freely under the shadow of the HIV/AIDS crisis. The musical opens on filmmaker Mark (Cody Jenkins) and rock musician Roger (Coleman Cummings), who cannot pay rent when their former friend and new landlord, Benny (Juan Luis Espinal), reneges on a promise not to collect last year’s rent. From then on, Act I constructs a wild and vibrant rumination on
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the rule–free life at the height of bohemian Alphabet City in the East Village. The musical number, “One Song Glory,” is filled with great passion as Roger— who is HIV positive—wants to write one song to be remembered by before he dies. There is also the playful, vivid “Today 4 U” by Angel (Joshua Tavares), dressed in the iconic, full–drag Santa outfit and singing about how she got paid $1000 for luring a yappy dog off a balcony with her drum–playing (in Rent, Angel is addressed as female when in drag, and male when out of drag). Act I ends with the defiantly outrageous and lively group performance “La Vie Bohème,” which celebrates their life with a catchy tune. The harsh and dangerous reality of this life also simmers throughout Act I, and Act II fully delves into it. It opens with the famous and touching “Seasons of Love,” reaffirming what Rent presents as protection against fear and danger—love. But at the end, Angel emerges in all white and leaves—having passed away due to AIDS. Angel's boyfriend, Tom Collins (Shafiq Hicks), gives a heartbreaking reprisal of “I’ll Cover You”—the song Angel and he sang together in Act I to confess their love. Rent ends with the rendition of “Your Eyes/Finale.” “Your Eyes” is the song Roger wrote for Mimi (Aiyana Smash)—an HIV–positive erotic dancer and drug addict who develops a relationship with Roger throughout the play. Mimi becomes homeless in Act II after Roger and her break up but reunites with Roger in the
finale. Mimi seems to die after Roger’s song—surrounded by their friends—only to abruptly awaken, claiming that Angel appeared and told her to go back. In a musical that mixes defiant hope with bleak reality, this happy ending may be unrealistic. As the group decides in “Finale” to enjoy whatever time they have left with each other—singing that there is "no day but today”—it was one of the most powerful moments I’ve ever witnessed. As a live musical, Rent is full of exposed, emotional energy— from the mess of scaffolding and welded metal in the set, to the orchestra situated in a corner on stage, to the passionate performers themselves. With a show as diverse and complex as Rent, students walk away with different, resonating insights. Noni Unobagha (C ‘21), who attended the Arts House trip, finds her favorite song in “One Song Glory.” “It just has so much raw passion and emotion,” she described. Kelly Lopez (E ‘22), also on the Arts House trip, has seen both Rent’s film adaptation and a previous show of the 20th anniversary tour in L.A. When asked about the difference between the film and live stage versions, she described a more connected relationship between the audience and the show. In a meta moment during “Finale,” footage of the cast and crew—having fun together, rehearsing for the musical—is projected. The moment pays tribute to the sense of community Rent depicts, and also acknowledges the community of the cast, crew, and audience themselves.
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