November 2022

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NOVEMBER 2022

Philly’s Political Future PG. 22

Will 2023 bring Philly’s first woman mayor? PG. 25

Penn’s Struggle for Indigenous Visibility PG. 17

In Conversation With Soccer Mommy’s Sophie Allison PG. 38


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Contents November 2022

EXECUTIVE BOARD

Emily White, Editor–in–Chief white@34st.com Eva Ingber, Digital Managing Editor ingber@34st.com Walden Green, Print Managing Editor green@34st.com Arielle Stanger, Assignments Editor stanger@34st.com EDITORS

Kira Wang, Features Editor Hannah Lonser, Features Editor Jean Paik, Focus Editor Natalia Castillo, Style Editor Alana Bess, Ego Editor Kate Ratner, Music Editor Irma Kiss–Barath, Arts Editor Jacob A. Pollack, Film & TV Editor Andrew Yang, Multimedia Editor Kira Wang, Social Media Editor THIS ISSUE

Emily White CAMPUS

8 Ego of the Month: Andrés Gonzalez–Bonillas 17 Overlooked and Underserved: Penn’s Struggle for Indigenous Visibility POLITICS

22‘The Future of Presidential Elections Is on the Line Right Now in Pennsylvania’ 25 A New Kind of Leader for Philadelphia 34 Can Celebrities Drive Youth to the Polls? CULTURE

38 Sometimes a Fantasy, Sometimes the Real Thing: In Conversation with Soccer Mommy 44‘Can I Touch You There?’: Inside Hollywood’s Intimacy Coordination Boom 46 The PMA’s ‘Matisse in the 1930s’ Tells a Philadelphia Story

LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

The Land on which the office of The Daily Pennsylvanian stands is a part of the homeland and territory of the Lenni–Lenape people. Per the Diversity Committee, we affirm Indigenous sovereignty and will work to hold the DP and the University of Pennsylvania more accountable to the needs of Indigenous people.

ON THE COVER

Philly’s first woman mayor would mark the dawn of a new day for the city, much like this beam of sunlight on city hall. Photo by Emily White CONTACTING 34th STREET MAGAZINE

If you have questions, comments, complaints or letters to the editor, email Emily White, Editor–in–Chief, at white@34st.com. You can also call us at (215) 422–4640. www.34st.com © 2021 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. All rights reserved.

omg bridge

Tyler Kliem, Design Editor Sophie Apfel, Copy Editor Collin Wang, Deputy Design Editor Alice Choi, Deputy Design Editor Caleb Crain, Deputy Design Editor STAFF

Features Staff Writers Sejal Sangani, Gemma Hong, Avalon Hinchman, Dedeepya Guthikodna, Katie Bartlett Focus Beat Writers Sruthi Srinivas, Samara Himmelfarb, Anna O’Neill–Dietel, Sara Heim Style Beat Writers Shelby Abayie, Naima Small, Shahana Banerjee, Vikki Xu Music Beat Writers Derek Wong, Grayson Catlett, Halla Elkhwad, Hannah Sung Arts Beat Writers Jessa Glassman, Emily Maiorano, Grace Busser, Luiza Louback Fontes, Katrina Itona, Eyana Lao Film & TV Beat Writers Kayla Cotter, Alex Baxter, Emma Marks, Catherine Sorrentino, Weike Li, Rahul Variar Ego Beat Writers Anjali Kishore, Norah Rami, Sophie Barkan, Riane Lumer Staff Writers Ryanne Mills, Morgan Crawford, Olivia Reynolds, Cassidee Jackson, Caroline Clarke, Emma Halper, Alexandra Kanan Multimedia Associates Roger Ge, Derek Wong, Andrea Barajas, Rachel Zhang, Samita Gupta, Sophie Cai, Hannah Shumsky, Priya Bhavikatti, Nathaniel Babitts, Serene Safvi, Giuliana Alleva, Liz Zhang Audience Engagement Associates Kayla Cotter, Yamila Frej, Katherine Han, Emily Xiong, Gemma Hong, Ivanna Dudych, Felicitas N O VTananibe, E M B E R Ainnie 2022 Bingle, Lauren Pantzer

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LET TER FROM THE EDITOR

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In which we stay awake, again and again

onsider yourself warned, this letter is about Taylor Swift— although thankfully not in the Twitter discourse way. It’s become somewhat of a tradition to write one of these letters about a celebrity, mostly because of one particular Swiftie who used to occupy my role, and it felt only right that the release of Swift’s tenth album earned her another. Now, on the evening of the Midnights release, I sit in the Stroffice— unsurprisingly, at midnight. Swift has said the album encapsulates “13 sleepless nights” over the course of her life, weaving together the deep pains and joys you only feel at such eerie hours. Listening to these songs for the second time today (yes, I listened to the leaked songs, sue me), it’s easy to see how the hazy feeling you get in the middle of the night translates into so many different emotions.

Emily White

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Midnights are often when your biggest moments happen. It’s when you drunk dial your ex, cut your bangs impulsively, or spiral into a mild existential crisis. A fundamentally in–between space, midnights force you to embrace change, whether it’s happening in the world around you or inside your own mind. At the same time, midnights are often when you return to a familiar place. Nostalgia can easily creep in as you walk back from a night out or stay up late to finish an assignment. A desire for tranquility can supersede even the most joyous kinds of chaos. We at Street have spent our fair share of midnights in this office, putting together magazines like the one you’re holding right now. Uncertainty and transience shape everything we do as a mere fact of our youth and temporariness as students, but we manage to produce our own collection of midnights each time we send another issue to the printer. This month, it feels like there are too many uncertainties to count. We don’t know who the next leader of our city will be and what they’ll do with that power, or even whether we’ll get to see our favorite celebrities perform live after waiting hours in the rain. There’s very little we can say with certainty, so instead I’ll say this: Next time you’re awake at midnight and feeling uncertain, I hope our magazine can make you feel a little less alone.


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From Sidewalk to Studio 8H: The ‘SNL’ Stand–By Experience Trying to get tickets to SNL is not very glamorous, but getting the chance to watch the show live is a moment you’ll never forget. JACOB A . POLL ACK Design by Tyler Kliem, photo courtesy of Jacob A. Pollack

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or years, I’ve had a weekly tradition of tuning in at 11:30 PM to watch Saturday Night Live as it airs. To me, SNL is the pinnacle of comedy, with hilarious sketches and insanely well–produced pre–tape videos, all created from scratch within a week. Usually, I watch SNL from my computer or phone as it airs, but it’s always been a dream of mine to see the show live and in person from its studio audience. Over fall break, my friend Kai and I decided to fulfill this lifelong goal by securing ourselves standby tickets to the live taping of the

October 8th episode, which had Brendan Gleeson as host and WILLOW as musical guest. For each SNL show, there’s a live studio audience of a couple hundred people. The majority are never seen on camera; there’s a semicircle behind the cameras that loops around Studio 8H (where SNL is filmed). Kai and I were mere commoners within the SNL social ladder, so our only chance to get into the live broadcast was through the standby line. Depending on the guest host, the standby line can begin days before the

live broadcast; when BTS performed, fans lined up nearly a week beforehand. For Gleeson, the line began at around 7 p.m. the Friday before the live taping. Nestled in Midtown between 30 Rockefeller Plaza and Radio City Music Hall, Kai and I hopped into the standby line at around midnight. Normally, I wouldn’t be caught dead being anywhere near Midtown, Broadway, or any tourist hotspot past midnight, but tonight was a special occasion. Waiting in the standby line was by far the most gruesome and unpleasant part

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WORD ON THE STREET of the SNL experience. We both had pre- another. pared for a cold evening, packing mulFinally, we arrived at an atrium covered tiple blankets and layering up to the ex- with images from famous SNL sketches treme. What we didn’t prepare for was the like “The Target Lady” and “More Cowpossibility of rain. bell.” When we got to a pack of elevators I don’t know if you’ve ever slept on a at the other end of the hall, we were given bitterly cold sidewalk in New York City wristbands and told to enter elevator one. with rain falling down all night; chances are you haven’t, but trust me, it ain’t fun. All of our blankets got immediately soaked, which, accompanied by the 30–40°F outside temperature, made for a chilly night. Luckily, my years as a competitive swimmer with early morning practices in frigid pools kicked in, helping me survive the cold. By around 6 a.m., Kai and I had gone a little mad: We began singing renditions of “Yesterday” and devoured packets of SkinnyPop (we were desperate). Finally, at 7, some pages emerged from 30 Rock with standby cards. Those in standby have the option to attend either the dress rehearsal at 8 p.m. or the live broadcast at 11:30 p.m.; we chose the live broadcast, getting the 26th and 27th standby cards. After getting our cards, we were free from the shackles of the line, although we still had no guarantee we would get into the live taping. At around 9:45 at night, we returned back to 30 Rock for the live broadcast, still not knowing if we would see SNL in the studio. By now, nerves were high. For over an hour, we stood in a tightly–packed line of other standby Photo courtesy of Jacob guests, slowly marching A. Pollack up one flight of stairs after

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Upon entering the elevator, the doorman told us: “Welcome to SNL,” to which we replied with leaps and screams of joy. As for the show itself, it was one of the most surreal experiences of my life. I was mesmerized by how systematically yet chaotically the whole night ran. Whenever a sketch was happening, the studio was motionless except for what was happening on–camera. Then, moments after a skit ended, all of SNL’s production staff rushed in, switching people’s costumes and setting up the next set within a few moments. The best part of the night, though, was seeing everything that happened off camera. Whenever you watch the show on TV, you’ll usually hear the Saturday Night Live Band for just a few seconds during a transition or when the host begins their monologue. But, in fact, they’re actually playing jazz and blues songs the entire night! The craziest part of the night, for me at least, was seeing Lorne Michaels in person. Michaels created SNL and has been its head producer for decades, helping jumpstart the careers of some of the world’s greatest comedians. He’s probably the most influential person in comedy, so seeing him make live calls and decisions as the show went on was insane to witness. Looking back on my SNL experience, the sacrifice of waiting in awful conditions for a night was well worth it. Hearing the cast scream the iconic phrase “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!” is a moment I’ll cherish forever. ❋


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Hometown

Chandler, Ariz. ————————————————————————————

Major

English ————————————————————————————

Activities

Andrea Barajas

Andrés Gonzalez–Bonillas Meet the student–activist who loves writing and hates Penn.

Kelly Writers House, The Excelano Project, La Casa Latina, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA de Penn), Police Free Penn, Coalition to Save the UC Townhomes ———————————————————————————— Andrés Gonzalez–Bonillas (C ‘23) is one of two students currently facing disciplinary proceedings from Penn’s administration after the Convocation protest in August 2022, despite over 100 protestors taking part in the action. They’re one of the most visible organizers on campus through their involvement with Police Free Penn and the Coalition to Save the UC Townhomes—and their activism is motivated by a desire for justice and a keen sense of empathy. Yet despite the doom and gloom of our capitalist world, he manages to navigate it all with kindness and humor, taking everything in stride while also holding Penn accountable for the violence it perpetrates against its surrounding community.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

BY KIR A WANG On campus, you’re pretty well–known for your activism and the work you do for your community. What motivates your activism and community organizing? I’m an English major focusing on postco-

lonial literature and theory—the things that I was learning about were immediately applicable to the world around me. Growing up, we came up during Trayvon Martin and other events that pulled people towards not only social justice, but also toward activism.

Then 2020 happened—that was a huge catalyst for a ton of people to get really involved. It also brought this idea of police and prison abolition to my attention a lot more. I knew that as a Penn student, I had a place where I could be politically active and NOVEMBER 2022

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EGO that my voice would carry a certain weight. Police Free Penn was the responsible place for me to actually make some difference, and it allowed me to call out the institution that I and a lot of other people benefit from. munities, and also host informative events. And could you elaborate on your involvement with Police Free Penn? I was living back in Arizona—it was the COVID semesters, and we were totally online. But I was able to get involved. We started book clubs for our members and for people throughout the United States. We got to organize a lot during 2020. But right now, since the UC Townhomes stuff started, that’s been where most of our energy is going because that’s what’s immediately necessary. This is violence that’s happening right here, and the University just wants to turn around and not do anything about it. We need to make sure that they know that they’re responsible to the community that surrounds them. Even though this work isn’t specifically anti–police or anti–prison, it is pro–people—which is anti–police and anti–prison. Part of abolitionism is creating a world where you don’t need police and prisons, and that includes a world where housing is free and a guaranteed right for all people. As students and faculty at Penn, and as community members, we’re people who benefit from a place that has taken a lot from its surrounding community. The University has taken so much in terms of land, money, and resources. It’s displaced people. It’s created one of the most heavily policed areas in the city, having the largest private police force in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It’s our responsibility to make sure that this violence stops where it is, and that we can try to minimize any more violence that happens. The University doesn’t seem to be keen on that idea, as we’ve seen with their reaction to the organizing of both the Coalition to Save the UC Townhomes and Fossil Free Penn. Going off of that, how did it feel to be one of the two students singled out by the University for the Convocation protest? I didn’t identify myself that day. I’m gonna put that out there right now. I’m always trying to be careful with my language be-

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cause I haven’t had my meeting with administration. While we were at the protest, I was asked for my PennCard. I refused, as is my right. But they still identified me, which is really strange, because how were they able to if they didn’t already have my name and image somewhere? There were also a ton of other students with me. By singling me out, what they’re saying is that my actions alone stopped Convocation—and that’s just not true. This was a huge protest from community members, students, faculty that came through on a public space and said, “No, you are going to hear us because you have a responsibility to the community, and you should put up funds to help this community that you’ve taken so much from.” Singling me out showed me that the University would rather worry about punishing students than worry about actually sitting down with the residents of the People’s Townhomes. Switching gears, could you tell me more about your involvement with Kelly Writers House? I’m the events photographer at Kelly Writers House. I’ve been working there since freshman year. Whenever I’m working, if there’s an event, you’ll see me taking pictures. It’s very chill—I love the community here. It’s given me a lot of support; I

think it’s a very special place. It’s one of the places on campus where I feel like I can just hang out. It’s a beautiful space. Also, it’s been completely open to the public, which is something that I love about Kelly Writers House, and it has great events. As a writer, poet, and English major, it has stuff that I really care about, and I enjoy being a part of it. And for you, how do writing and activism work together? So for me, during the lockdown like many others, I read a lot. I read a lot of different political theory and literary theory like Fanon, George Jackson, Assata Shakur, the Zapatistas, Domitilla Chúngara—just different people around the world, especially in the Global South that had a lot of really, really good political ideas about the nature of American imperialism and colonialism. Reading informed how I came to my ideology, but you can’t just read. You can’t just inform yourself. You have to actually be out in the streets and try to bring attention to these issues. With Police Free Penn, we’re making a statement because people’s lives are on the line. We need to make sure that people everywhere know about these issues. We want to communicate that Penn or the city— whoever—has to listen to the people and

Photo courtesy of Andrés Gonzalez–Bonillas


CAMPUS give reparations. This stuff is so evil. It’s so heartbreaking that people are being evicted just to make somebody $100 million. Whatever they build there will probably benefit Penn students—but at what cost? One of the big things with the UC Townhomes struggle is that we’re not going to let this stuff go anymore, and we never should’ve let this stuff go. Because the cost of us having all these benefits and being in the city is violence and displacement. And that has to stop. Switching gears again, looking back at your time at Penn, what are you most proud of? I’m most proud that I found a community that uplifts me and that I feel at home with, despite what the University is built around. I think I speak for a lot of students of color when I say that being here is really hard. Being here is a huge challenge, especially knowing that Penn is not a place that’s built for us, and knowing that it’s not a place that even pretends to try and make up for what it’s done to people of color. For La Casa Latina, we just got ARCH. But that’s not what we asked for. We asked for a house on Locust Walk. And that’s not what they gave us. But I have found places where I do feel like a priority. I do feel like I’ve found a real, genuine community, despite whatever Penn is doing. Another thing I’m proud of is just making it. There were a lot of times where I— very often still—didn’t want to be here. And I think finally getting through college is something I’m very proud of. But I’m not proud of it in the sense that, “Oh, Penn is such a great place.” It’s in the sense that I’ve done so much in spite of the fact this place does not care about me. And I made it out anyway. I think that is something that I’m definitely gonna carry with me for sure. What have we forgotten to ask about? Fossil Free Penn. They’ve been out here for like a month. Lots of admiration for them. Everyone is there, every day. They’re doing amazing, amazing work. Admin is trying to get them with the same type of disciplinary process they’re getting me with. That’s not right—they’re trying to call out the University and they’re using their First Amendment right. And the University is go-

ing to lie—they lied to the DP about FFP not wanting to take the meeting. But that’s not true. They did ask for a meeting. The Save the UC Townhomes Coalition also just came out with a really great article. I hope everybody reads it. There’s been a lot of misconceptions about the organization in the media, and it’s shown through the daily interactions that we have with people. People say, “Penn’s not responsible for this, why are you guys trying to call them out?” or, “What’s Penn going to do about this?” But Penn has a responsibility to our community, and we wrote down exactly why. Anyone that was at a Black Lives Matter protest over the summer, we better see you out here. These issues did not go away because a couple of years have passed—this is the same stuff. Displacement is a racial issue. It’s a class issue. The University doesn’t

want working–class Black and Latino families here. We need to be telling Penn, “No, this is their home.” We need to respect that and embrace these people as our neighbors. We should be paying PILOTs because that’s money that goes directly back to the community, and not just to Penn Alexander or the other schools that they’re partnering with. What’s next for you after Penn? You know, like all of us, I’ve been doing school since I was 6, 7 years old. I don’t want to do school. I want to chill. I want to maybe work in a bookstore or work at the Free Library, or maybe even substitute teaching. I want to stick around in Philly for a few years. I like it here. I want to just prioritize rest, because I think that’s something that we’re not taught to do. ❋

Last song you listened to? “Method Man” by Wu–Tang Clan. —————————————————————————————————————————————————————— No–skip album? I have so many. The Vince Staples albums are amazing—Ramona Park Broke My Heart and Vince Staples. DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar. Los Reyes De Los Sonidos—it’s like a compilation of different cumbia artists. —————————————————————————————————————————————————————— The actor who would play you in a movie? People say I look like Jordan Fisher, which I don’t know if I agree with, especially because my hair’s longer now. But I think that’s the only person that comes to mind. —————————————————————————————————————————————————————— If you were to describe yourself as a building on campus, which would it be and why? I don’t like any of them, but if I were to pick one it would be Kelly Writers House because that’s the only building I feel super comfortable in. Or if La Casa had a house, that house. We deserve a house. —————————————————————————————————————————————————————— There are two types of people at Penn… There are people that hate Penn and people who are annoying. —————————————————————————————————————————————————————— And you are? I hate Penn!

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A Cookbook for Climate Resilience and Storytelling The Penn Program in Environmental Humanities is connecting climate change with lived experiences. BY VIKKI XU

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limate change is afoot and young people feel their voices are too small to make a change. But the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities (PPEH) is using their new project, “My Climate Story,” to remind students, “know that your story is enough.” A smattering of similar encouragements live in a 74–page cookbook of recipes that wants students to orient their S.I.S.Rs— Setting, Impact, Senses, and Reflection— to bring their climate stories to life. This project is a colorful, glossy spiral book full of recipes for workshops, writing exercises, and storytelling resources, all geared towards helping young folks find their voice in the fight against climate change and help quell climate anxiety. The PPEH, founded at Penn in 2014, facilitates interdisciplinary research on the environment while its projects utilize an art–centric focus to address environmental justice in the Philadelphia community. Most recently, the PPEH, along with its team of interns, crafted this book with the purpose of providing educators with a tool to foster climate conversation. These recipes, accompanied by charming illustrations, bring the climate crisis to students in a personal way.

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Photo courtesy of Sylvie Josel


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This cookbook is just one element of “My Climate Story,” their public storytelling project. Currently, “My Climate Story” brings together ten high school teachers from schools in Philadelphia who want to bring climate discussion into their classrooms, regardless of the subject they teach. Teachers and the PPEH work together to create a climate curriculum that encourages students to recognize how climate change is impacting them and develop the skills to share their stories with the world. “My Climate Story” was born from a class in environmental humanities that Bethany Wiggin, the co–founder of the PPEH, taught for Philadelphia teachers. Meeting with the teachers, she was surprised to learn that only one teacher out of 30 she met with taught about climate change in their class. As she dug deeper into climate education, she was especially horrified to discover the lack of climate education in this country. The teachers agreed—they wanted to teach about the climate, but they simply didn’t have anything to teach. To fill this gap, Wiggin began thinking about ways to bring climate change to schools in an impactful way. After returning to her family home in Maine, she noticed the trees on her property were dying as a result of rising seawater, and she was struck by the emotional impact it had on her. “My Climate Story” began with this memory that unearthed the power of connecting climate change to people’s life experiences. While the project begins with the stories of high school students in Philadelphia, the end goal is to incite national policy change. Yes, climate policy already exists—we’ve heard countless times about a carbon tax, cap–and–trade, or green energy funding. However, “My Climate Story” serves up a fresh new take on climate policy education. Many of our current climate conversations are inaccessible. The stae of the planet is dispensed to us through numbers: meters of sea level rise, parts per million of greenhouse gases, years left on the Climate Clock. Millennials and Gen Z have been hearing about their impending climate

Photo courtesy of Emma Davey

Photo courtesy of Emma Davey doom since we were kids, and climate anxiety affects our daily lives. Young people all over the world feel sad, afraid, anxious, angry, and powerless. “My Climate Story” seeks to replace those feelings with human connection and resilience. Rather than being inundated with statistics about global warming, students in these classrooms are asked to identify events in their lives that have to do with climate change. Students struggled at first to come up with anything, and most of us in Philadelphia would probably feel the same. There’s been no destructive hurricane, no

raging wildfire, and no deadly drought— how can we come up with a compelling climate story? This is where the cookbook helps students attune to the impacts of climate change around them. Recipes provide a space for students to research endangered animals or interview each other about their experiences. Philadelphia is an amazing place for this initiative to begin—young people here are especially committed to social justice issues. Wiggin wants to harness this for the “Climate Story” project: “Philadelphia is an important place

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Photo courtesy of Emma Davey

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where we can really accelerate the work that’s happening with schoolchildren.” On Oct. 13 of this year, hundreds of these Philadelphia students gathered at Irvine Auditorium on Penn’s campus. They’ve known that other high schools in Philadelphia are involved in this project, but this is the first time they’ve come together to hear each others’ stories. Wiggin believes “climate resilience cannot start unless we have a broadly educated community.” Two crucial steps for climate resilience are passing policies introducing climate literacy and investing in resources for a nationwide climate curriculum. Bringing climate education to people in a human way is a relatively new idea that’s encapsulated in “environmental humanities.” This term was coined only about 12 years ago to deal with the amount of impact that humans have had on this planet. It’s meant to bring people who are trained in the study of culture, values, ethics, and artistic expression to the table to add to the climate conversation. This approach has the power to transcend the political associations with climate change. Working with people’s lived experiences, Wiggin says, has been amazingly apolitical. The climate movement is really about resilience and survival in the end, and the disruption climate change causes is spans beyond political beliefs. Whether or not someone understands the science of climate change, they will notice their roads flooding or their crops dwindling. “My Climate Story” is not just about telling your own story; it’s about building a network to share and listen. Reading and sharing climate stories is open to anyone. Share your story on the “My Climate Story” website, and join voices from around the world that give the immensity of climate change a human meaning. k


OVERHEARDS

Overheards

This month: Drunk New Englanders, Directioners, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter–day Saints

“He’s a Mormon, but he hits different.” SISTER–WIFEBEATER

“I don’t do weed, I just drink. I’m the opposite of California sober.”

“Does anyone want to feed me like a hamster with a tube?”

MASSACHUSETTS SOBER

PROTO–FURRY “Some day I will find all of your nipples, little man.” HARRY STYLES STAN

“I am gonna stab my way to material success.” BELIEVES THAT VIOLENCE IS SOMETIMES THE ANSWER

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FOCUS

A New Sixers Arena and an Uncertain Future for Chinatown

The 76ers plan to decimate Chinatown with their new stadium. What does the community have to say about it? — BY SARA HEIM

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hiladelphia’s tight–knit Chinatown community has been threatened with large–scale development in their neighborhood for decades. Ranging from proposals to build a casino, prison, and baseball stadium, each project demonstrates the City’s willingness to cast Chinatown residents aside to make way for profitable new construction. The community has opposed each of these invasive projects, preventing any of them from coming to fruition. Activist movements for the preservation of Chinatown are led by local organizations with legacies of resistance and community empowerment. The latest danger to the area has come in the form of a new arena for the Philadelphia 76ers. Proposed to open for the 2031 NBA season, “76 Place” would be located at 10th and Market streets, among the hustle and bustle of Philly’s Center City, and just two blocks from Chinatown’s emblematic Friendship Gate. Wei Chen, civic engagement director of Asian Americans United (AAU), a group working to empower Asian Americans in Philadelphia to exercise leadership and resist oppression, explains important context to consider in the debate over the impending arena. “There’s almost no Chinese– or Asian–owned businesses anymore,” Chen says, pointing to how the Asian population in Chinatown has already begun to decline. The arena would only further decimate the unique cultural stronghold that roughly 3,000 Philadelphians call home.

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CITY “They are making a decision about the future of our community … they think it’s easy to sell [us],” Chen comments on the developers’ failure to consider the impacts the stadium would have on Chinatown residents during the planning process. I asked Chen for his thoughts on an opinion piece published in The Philadelhpia Inquirer titled “New Sixers arena will benefit all Philadelphians.” He laughed aloud at the headline. The article, written by David Gould, chief diversity and impact officer for the 76ers, and Greg Reaves, co–owner of the firm behind the proposal, Mosaic Development Partners, illuminates the Sixers’ reasoning and methodology behind 76 Place. Gould and Reaves write that there have been “ongoing conversations with commu-

nity leaders and stakeholders” to ensure that the development is equitable and respectful. Though AAU and other Chinatown organizations have engaged with Sixers representatives, Chen says, “We’re not part of a conversation to negotiate how to sell our home. The only reason we’re meeting with them is because we want to respect everyone. We’re giving them a chance to talk about how they’ll tear down my community, my home.” Despite the discussions between both parties, Chinatown leaders have no intention of allowing the plan to move forward. Chen indicates how painful it is for community leaders to sit through these talks, forced to listen to the planned destruction of the area they’ve lived in for years. The Sixers have publicly claimed that the

footprint of 76 Place would not overtake any existing businesses or residences, and would instead repurpose a section of the existing Fashion District. Chen believes that this consideration is not enough to keep Chinatown safe. “There’s no guarantee. There’s no one holding them accountable,” he says. Community leaders are being forced to take developers at their word that they’ll preserve the culture and social structures of Chinatown. Even outside the Asian American community, Chinatown is home to many local organizations fighting for social justice. Chen points to one organization serving Philadelphia’s disabled community, noting that increased traffic because of the arena would make navigating wheelchairs and wheelchair–accessible vehicles on the streets more

Erin Ma

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FOCUS difficult. The Sixers’ consideration of Chinatown falls short of taking these community– serving organizations into account. Increased traffic in the area is one of the foremost concerns about the development. Chinatown is already one of the most congested areas in the city, with tight one–way streets and swaths of pedestrians. The new arena would accommodate 3,500 parking spaces, about 3,000 short of the average number of cars parked for a Sixers game. With inadequate parking built into the arena’s plan, Chinatown streets and parking lots will bear the brunt of this influx of visitors. This oversight is especially frustrating given the plethora of parking spaces at the current Wells Fargo Center. Opponents of the construction ask why developers are choosing to move the arena away from the functional and convenient sports complex in South Philadelphia.

that could follow the arena’s construction. Again, community leaders must rely on the integrity and good intentions of developers, with no real safeguards in place to protect their homes. Representatives from AAU have met with members of City Council to garner support against the arena. The funding sources for 76 Place give the city limited power in overseeing the project. The City has no financial stake in the project, and therefore has no space to make demands about the construction and its impacts. In another opinion piece defending the arena, investor David Adelman revealed that while developers would accept public funding at the state or federal level, they would not accept funding from Philadelphia, intentionally excluding the interests of the city and thus Philadelphians.

ternative Investments Program, a contribution that vastly expanded the resources and opportunities for Wharton students. Blitzer serves as a University trustee and on the Wharton School Board of Overseers. David Adelman is the only one of the investors who didn’t graduate from Penn, but he maintains a role in the University as CEO of Campus Apartments. Activist groups on campus have taken notice of Penn’s ties to 76 Place, and are urging administrators to take a stance against the construction. The goal of Chinatown leaders and activists around the city is to prevent the construction of the arena. They have no interest in mitigating or remedying the harmful effects of the arena and attempting to retroactively regulate the construction process after it’s already put in place. I ask Wei Chen how Penn students can support the cause against

Ethan Wu

Even as the Sixers take initial precautions in their plans, Chen worries that the organization will not take responsibility for its long– term impact on the neighborhood. “There’s no one that can hold them accountable when a Chinatown tofu store becomes a Chipotle,” he says, pointing to the wider gentrification

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The $1.3 billion construction is privately funded by three billionaires, all with ties to Penn. Josh Harris (W ‘86) and David Blitzer (W ‘91) have maintained strong relationships with Penn throughout their successful investment careers. In 2019, Harris donated $10 million to launch the Joshua J. Harris Al-

the arena. First, students can sign the petition in protest of the arena, as well as reach out to City Councilmembers. Chen also simply urges students to keep the topic in conversation, spreading the word about its harmful impacts and lack of consideration for the Chinatown community.


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Overlooked and Underserved: Penn’s Struggle for Indigenous Visibility Between Natives at Penn and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Program, Native students and faculty alike have called on the University to take action. — BY KIRA WANG

Ani Nguyen Le NOVEMBER 2022

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On Sept. 7, 2022, more than 100 students, faculty, and staff celebrated the reopening of Locust Walk’s Arts, Research, and Culture House (ARCH). After decades of being a hub of student advocacy, cultural houses once relegated to ARCH’s basement like Makuu: The Black Cultural Center, La Casa Latina, and the Pan–Asian American Community House (PAACH) now technically were allowed full use of the building. Space was allocated to a new addition to the ARCH family: Natives at Penn (NAP), a student–run club representing Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, Alaska Natives, and Indigenous students on campus. Formerly housed in the off–Locust Walk Greenhouse Intercultural Center (GIC) at 37th and Chestnut streets, NAP now had a place to gather in the heart of campus. But in stark contrast with their more expansive space in the GIC, complete with a fully stocked kitchen, NAP’s location in ARCH is a small printer room nestled inside PAACH— with both groups (and the other cultural houses) still located in ARCH’s basement as of October 2022. In an email to Street in response to being asked about PAACH’s decision to cede space,

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Cindy Au–Kramer, PAACH’s finance, operations, and program coordinator, writes: “This topic has been discussed with University Life Administration, GIC and PAACH team members. There is no controversy as the 6 [cultural resource centers] support each [cultural resource center’s] distinct community across the board.” “It was an active decision made within PAACH to cede some of their space to us. It feels very special that they would be willing to do that, especially when [the ARCH basement] is so cramped anyways,” says Nyair Locklear (C ‘23), co–president of Natives at Penn. In spite of PAACH’s generosity, NAP’s room in ARCH is still too small to host meetings regularly. As such, the group continues to hold most meetings in the GIC. “It feels symbolic being pushed to 37th and Chestnut. It’s not that far, but it’s significantly farther than ARCH,” says Keaton Mackey (C ‘23), social chair of NAP. “Since I was a freshman, I was trying to get [Natives at Penn] into ARCH. But it’s disappointing, because it’s like a closet.” She emphasizes that she’s grateful for the space that PAACH has provided, but says that “you shouldn’t have to ask another cultural group to give you space.”

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enn’s campus sits on indigenous land known to the original Indigenous people as Lenapehoking. Lenapehoking is the homeland of the Lenni–Lenape people, centered in New York City and spanning from Western Connecticut to Eastern Pennsylvania and the Hudson Valley to Delaware. The Lenni–Lenape lived in the Philadelphia area for almost 10,000 years before the European occupation and served as caretakers to the land. However, in 1737, the sons of Pennsylvania’s namesake, William Penn, falsely represented an old draft of a deed as a legal contract previously signed by elder Lenape generations. Known as the “Walking Purchase,” the false deed allowed the Penns to steal 1,200 square miles of Lenape land. The Lenape trekked westward for over a century until they could settle in Oklahoma, or were displaced northward to places like Ontario, New Jersey, Delaware, and Wisconsin. A majority of tribe members still reside in these locations today. Many places in the Philadelphia area still

bear Lenape names such as Manayunk, which means “place where we go to drink,” Passyunk, which means “in the valley” or “place between the hills,” and Wissahickon, which means “catfish stream.” The history of the land that Penn sits on often goes unacknowledged by students, faculty, and administration. Keaton notes a consistent lack of land acknowledgements across campus, and multiple members of NAP have observed that some Penn students falsely believe that Native Americans no longer exist. “This is Lenape land,” Keaton says. “The University doesn’t really like to remember that sort of thing. They don’t really do much in reaching out to the Lenape community except through us.” Formerly known as “Six Directions,” Natives at Penn was founded in September 1993 by Desiree Martinez (C ‘95) as “the University’s first organized cultural group for Native Americans,” according to an article from The Daily Pennsylvanian. Now, NAP aims to increase Native American and Indigenous visibility on campus and create awareness about Indigenous culture and history by engaging with both Penn’s community and local tribes. In 2020, NAP organized a petition calling for Penn to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day—garnering over 2,000 signatures and asking the University to “uplift Indigenous students and their communities, and actively fight against barriers that prevent Indigenous students from thriving at Penn.” Lauren McDonald (W ‘23), co–president of Natives at Penn and the author of the petition’s statement, says that the attention the document received led to multiple meetings with University administration. These meetings eventually led to Indigenous Peoples’ Day being placed on the academic calendar in fall 2022. “I don’t think there was any resistance at all. It’s just sometimes we say things, and it’s usually pushed under the rug, or [there’s] not a sense of urgency,” she says. As NAP’s visibility continues to grow this year, they’re prioritizing community building and programming, holding their first in–person Powwow since 2019 in September 2022. The Powwow was meant for both Native and non–Native students to learn more about Indigenous culture and engage with Native performance and visual artists. Now,


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the group is planning activities for Native American Heritage Month in November. They’re also focusing on garnering cultural resource center (CRC) status, which allows centers like Makuu, La Casa Latina, PAACH, the LGBT Center, the GIC, and Penn Women’s Center to employ paid, full–time staff members and receive more funding. While Natives at Penn’s recent induction into the 7B—Penn’s minority coalition group—allows them to have the same input on advocacy matters as other CRCs, the group doesn’t get the same financial or administrative support that other CRCs are afforded. Currently, Toyce Holmes, a first–generation, low–income program coordinator who works under the GIC, is dubbed “the unofficial director of NAP,” spending extra time working with Native students outside of her work duties. “[Holmes] basically volunteers her time working with Natives at Penn because she loves all of us. But we want to see her be paid for all of the work that she does,” Nyair says. Holmes declined an interview request from Street, writing in an email that “The students are the greatest resource for information, and I believe their opinions, thoughts, and feelings should be the focus, after all it’s their community and identity.” “Penn has the funding. There have been words saying, ‘You will have a staff member,’” Ryly Ziese (W ‘25), the communications chair of NAP who worked to secure the organization a space in ARCH during summer 2022, adds. “Where are they? They’re not here.”

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olmes isn’t the only person employed by the University who has chipped in extra time to support Native students. Margaret Bruchac, professor of anthropology and coordinator of the Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS) minor, is currently the only tenured Indigenous faculty member at Penn. Bearing this status in mind, Bruchac feels that she’s often tokenized. “I think [about] how over the years, how many times people in other departments have contacted me because they simply want something Native. They want someone to read a land acknowledgement or they want some token inclusion,” she says. “And token inclusion is never enough be-

cause it remains tokenism.” Bruchac, who’s currently on leave of absence, left the University of Connecticut during the third year of a tenure–track position—where she began a still–existing NAIS program—to begin a new Native American and Indigenous studies program at Penn in 2013. “I literally started the whole tenure system over again,” she says. “But I was quite excited—I really expected a lot of support.” She worked from the ground up to build Penn’s NAIS Program, creating an interdisciplinary, cross–departmental program based off of existing classes in the School of Arts and Sciences, Penn Carey Law, and the School of Nursing that was officially approved as a minor in 2014. The program initially consisted of approximately 13 faculty members from 14 different departments across five different schools, who taught 20 to 30 classes that all counted toward the minor. However, as faculty who taught NAIS courses died, retired, or moved to other schools with more robust Indigenous studies programs, the program dwindled down to a couple of professors who mostly teach anthropology courses—and Penn seemingly has no intention to recruit more Native studies professors. Richard Leventhal, an anthropology professor who sits on the NAIS Program’s faculty advisory board, feels disappointed in the decline of the minor’s interdisciplinary nature. “There needs to be an understanding of [indigeneity] not just in anthropology, but what we teach in history, what we teach in sociology, what we teach in economics, and what we teach in anything within the humanities or social sciences,” he says. Now, Bruchac says that she’s running a “skeletal version” of the program. Keaton, who’s pursuing the NAIS minor, has also noticed the number of Native faculty fall throughout her four years at Penn. “In my freshman year, we started with—I believe—four Native professors,” she says. Now, according to Keaton, there are only two. “[Bruchac] carries the weight of that whole minor. It’s like a one–person department,” Keaton adds. Ryly, who wants to pursue the NAIS minor, says few classes that counted toward the minor were offered this semester, and

due to Bruchac’s leave of absence, there was no point person for her to contact about NAIS class offerings for next semester. Keaton says that on top of the administrative labor that Bruchac does for the program, the professor has also taught three of the five classes she’s taken so far that count toward the minor. Leventhal has taught the other two. While the minor doesn’t carry the initial heft or interdisciplinary nature that Bruchac originally envisioned when creating the program, Indigenous students pursuing the NAIS minor still find that the program allows them to better understand and contextualize their identities, heritage, and history. “It’​​s been really great to be able to learn more about Indigenous theory from a bunch of different authors, activists, anthropologists, and academics alike. I think that’s one thing that sets apart studying Native studies from just being Native—having somebody to guide you through all the theory and research going on in the academic space,” says Sophia Poersch (C ‘23), the treasurer of Natives at Penn who’s pursuing the NAIS minor.

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Bruchac feels similarly, explaining that it’s important for Native students to feel that they belong at college. She also wants to emphasize that students can contribute to both their education and a better future for them and their communities by taking Native studies classes. Through her work and her mentorship, Bruchac aims to show Indigenous students everything that’s possible for them in higher education. The professor has witnessed senior faculty members question why funding should go to Native studies due to the small population of Native students on Penn’s campus. But for Bruchac, learning about Native studies isn’t solely just for Native students. “We owe a great debt to that population, to that history, and to these misperceptions that persist in the present and that shaped the way we think about sovereignty and land and heritage and human rights,” she says. “How can we possibly address these larger issues if we don’t first address the knowledge gap?” Despite Bruchac’s clear love for her students and passion for the work she does, it’s extremely difficult for her to carry an en-

tire program on her shoulders, even down to making and maintaining the program’s website. “The [NAIS] office is my office. I have no assistance. I have no TAs,” she says. “I manage everything. I’m truly exhausted.” Those involved with the NAIS Program look to other universities as models of what Penn could do to support their Indigenous students and the NAIS Program to a greater extent. “Harvard has made a solid commitment to working with tribal nations to recover and access cultural heritage,” Bruchac says. Keaton feels similarly, saying that Yale University offers Native language classes, and students there are currently pushing for a Native studies major. “The difference between what our school has done for us and Yale, it’s kind of mindblowing,” she adds. Dartmouth College also offers a major and a minor in Native American and Indigenous Studies, with over 20 students graduating from the department in 2021. Leventhal notes the college’s long history of working with Indigenous people and communities, and its focus on getting more Indigenous students to attend Dartmouth.

Keaton, Sophia, Bruchac, and Leventhal all agree that Penn needs to hire more Indigenous faculty members. Keaton says that a lack of University attention to the NAIS Program and a lack of opportunity for tenured positions has caused multiple faculty members to leave for schools such as New York University, Dartmouth, and Yale. “And it’s not just faculty—it’s [also] students and staff,” Leventhal says when asked about hiring more Indigenous faculty. “I think there should be a much broader campaign to bring all three of those types of people here. [They’re] all the core aspects of what Penn is.” Bruchac also believes that Penn should be focusing on cluster hires to strengthen the NAIS Program. “Part of why I’m struggling is the fact that I was brought in as an individual hire. If I had been brought in as part of a cluster hire, I would have naturally had a cohort of faculty in the same discipline,” she says. “If there were other faculty and multiple departments focused on [NAIS], I would have more success, and the University would have more success. More students would be attracted to these

Ani Nguyen Le

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levels of study, and I think things would improve dramatically.” Keaton and Bruchac also underscore that the Native American and Indigenous community at Penn needs a physical building. Through Bruchac’s experiences as a visiting scholar at universities like McGill University and the University of Victoria, she notes that “their Native studies programs survive because they have a building—they have a place.”

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enn’s treatment of both Natives at Penn and the NAIS minor is characterized by a lack of funding, a lack of attention, and a lack of care. However, in spite of this dismissive treatment by administration, Native students, faculty, and staff at Penn find solace in the supportive, tight–knit community that they’ve built together through groups like Natives at Penn. Bruchac always tries to financially support the NAP–organized Powwow using the little funding that the NAIS Program receives. Keaton calls Holmes the “most amazing person,” and reiterates over and over again how grateful she is to the GIC for providing NAP with a space to meet. Ryly, who went to an all–Native American high school, says that “[Natives at Penn] has been a great community to be around. It’s almost like I’m back home around the people I grew up with because they understand—they get it.” Yet for Native students and faculty alike, it’s still difficult to navigate Penn while feeling overlooked by administration, colleagues, and peers. From a barely funded Native studies program to Natives at Penn not being recognized as a cultural resource center, the University has consistently failed to validate and support the needs of its Indigenous students and faculty. “Penn is not giving Native American studies its due ... I don’t think there is enough attention or support for anything indigenous on this campus,” Bruchac says. “There are some days that I feel welcome here, and there are some days where I don’t,” Nyair echoes. “There are a lot of days where I just feel completely unseen. Not welcomed, not shunned—just as though I am invisible.” k

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‘The Future of Presidential Elections Is on the Line Right Now in Pennsylvania’ Inside the student push for gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro

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en Z is no stranger to political upheaval. Born into a world grappling with major tectonic shifts in the domestic and international political landscapes, we’ve spent our formative years

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BY ANJALI KISHORE immersed in a culture reckoning with its checkered past, tumultuous present, and uncertain future. The news cycle has become so rife with period–defining bombshells that we’ve adapted, out of necessity, a sense of insulation from the world around us. However, just because we, in our own

tempestuous period of late adolescence, may be (candidly) exhausted from hearing about political emergencies, it doesn’t mean that the emergencies themselves stop coming. Many may feel like turning away from the political world when it gets overwhelming. But in the summer of 2021, Annie Hait (C ‘23) felt a pull to get involved


POLITICS with Democrat Josh Shapiro’s campaign for governor. As a political research intern, she explains, “I came into the campaign knowing very little about what the governor’s race was going to look like, I just knew that I was looking for a campaign to get involved with that had a candidate who aligned with my values.” Annie’s role in the campaign transformed when Shapiro’s daughter, Sophia Shapiro, reached out about outreach on Penn’s campus. Sophia started Students for Shapiro, an organization embedded within the campaign that seeks to engage college and high school students “who want to step up and take charge of getting out the vote on their campus, letting their community know what’s on the line in November,” Annie says. By the beginning of the 2022 school year, they managed to get the Penn chapter, one of about 50 across the state, off the ground in affiliation with Penn Dems. The connection between the two organizations has been crucial thanks to yellow tape within the University’s political club guidelines, one of the many intricacies within the University “bureaucracy” which Annie considers one of the foremost hurdles the club has faced. “Since we can’t use University resources,” she explains, “our way to interact with the University is facilitated through [Penn Dems].” The Penn chapter has become a central node for the broad network of Students

for Shapiro chapters. “When Josh comes to Philly, we’ve taken on the impetus of hosting him, because we’re the central location for all the Philly university chapters, and we have a pretty accessible campus,” Annie says. “We’ve had a lot of communication with the Drexel and Temple chapters because we’ve taken on hosting responsibil-

for Shapiro flocked to the event, epitomizing the sense of collective duty that’s arisen in the hundreds of young people who have come out in throes to handle the on–the– ground voter outreach that the Shapiro campaign draws upon. The way young people engage with the political sphere is ever–evolving, and even Annie, who studies philosophy, poliPhoto courtesy of Annie Hait tics, and economics, found her own interest in politics taking an unexpected turn through her experience as a research intern for the campaign. She’s also majoring in Middle Eastern studies, and thus has in the past found herself more academically drawn to international politics. However, “I’ve always been interested in domestic politics, and it’s fascinating to apply the theory of what I’m learning to real life, but it wasn’t something where I was ever like, ‘Oh, I want a future in campaign politics!’ That was never the vision, but I felt this really strong need to participate in this election,” she says. In doing so, she’s had a front–and– center seat to one of Pennsylvania’s most explosive election cycles in recent memory, coming off the heels of a fraught ities, and they’ve been really great about 2020 presidential election in which the mobilizing their campuses to attend our ever–decisive swing state found itself in a events.” One such event was in early Sep- position of particular significance to the tember, when the Penn chapter hosted Aus- presidential race’s outcome. tin Davis, Shapiro’s partner on the ticket The Shapiro vs. Doug Mastriano race is running for lieutenant governor, for a talk practically a case study in modern political and Q&A. The Drexel chapter of Students tensions and dynamics. “It’s been really inNOVEMBER 2022

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EGO teresting to see the progression, observing Mastriano as a background candidate in the field, when people weren’t giving a lot of attention or merit to his campaign, and then seeing the media tonal shift with him as the winner of the primaries. He has upped his messaging and altered the way he’s disseminating information, and it’s been an interesting evolution to observe.” When asked about the organization’s goals, she says, “The biggest thing is just educating people—letting them know that Pennsylvania is a key state and this isn’t just a normal election. The future of presidential elections is also on the line right now in Pennsylvania,” she says. The governor gets to appoint the secretary of state in Pennsylvania, and they’re in charge of making the final calls when it comes to the electorate. “It’s a scary thought, but the future of elections is literally on the line in many battleground states right now, so this election is especially important for us to participate in,” Annie explains. “Regardless of who you are at Penn, you are at Penn and that places you in a position of privilege.” “I strongly believe that it’s all of our duties to use whatever privilege that we do have to help those who don’t have it. It’s a difficult thing to grapple with in college, and a lot of people aren’t necessarily thinking about that right now, but at the end of the day, we are in a position to help others. It’s on us to not only defend our own rights, but also the rights of others,” she says. In the face of a multitude of challenges, be it out–of–state voter logistics, college–kid political apathy, or a simple lack of social and political awareness, Annie Hait and Students for Shapiro personify a meaningful sense of fresh political energy: As young people come out to push forward the type of change they want to see in their communities, we see more candidates begin to recognize the power of the young electorate, and answer more and more to their refreshing enthusiasm and determination. The group has found themselves in a unique position at a unique time. Their message is for the students, by the students, and at the end of the day, there’s only one thing left to say: “Go out and vote. Your voice matters, so go out and make that voice heard on election day.” ❋

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Photo courtesy of Annie Hait


A New Kind of Leader for Philadelphia

Four public servants have already declared their candidacies in what’s shaping up to be a competitive 2023 mayoral election—and in a vast departure from a historically male mayorship, the majority of them are women. BY HANNAH LONSER

Emily White


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he phone rings at one o’clock sharp, signaling an incoming call from Diane Cornman–Levy. As the Chief Disruptor of WOMEN’S WAY, a Philadelphia–based nonprofit dedicated to the advancement of women, girls, and gender equity, a typical day for Cornman– Levy includes hours of meetings on the docket. Finding time in her schedule for a 30–minute interview is a bit of a game of Tetris, she laughs. Still, she’s happy to make the time. The topic up for discussion is one that she’s been following quite closely herself: Philadelphia’s 2023 mayoral election. “This [election] is an opportunity for our city to make real progress,” she says. “And it’s important that we recognize that.” As of Oct. 20, four public servants have officially thrown their hats into the ring for what is shaping up to be a contentious race. So far, former City Councilmembers Cherelle Parker (D), Maria Quiñones Sánchez (D), and Derek Green (D) are joined on the ballot by former City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart (D). On May 16, candidates will go head to head in the Democratic primary with the winner all but guaranteed to secure the title of Philadelphia’s 100th mayor come the general election next November. And with three women officially in the running and more expected to follow, rumors are swirling that the results of this vote might very well see the appointment of the first female mayor in the city’s history.

The fact that we’re electing our 100th mayor is a real window of opportunity for us to elect a new kind of leader. Our current administration has dealt with a wide variety of issues, and a lot of people are asking: ‘What can our next leader do to help Philly evolve as a city?’ SANDY VOGEL

Regardless of who the next officeholder may be, Councilmember Helen Gym (D) says they certainly have their work cut out for them: “The most pressing issues [facing Philadelphia] require urgent attention, and they’re not just here—they’re national.” From surging levels of gun violence, to the fallout of the public health crisis spurred by the COVID–19 pandemic, to chronic economic inequality that particularly disadvantages the city’s communities of color, current Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s (D) administration has weathered its fair share of storms—and evoked its fair share of criticism. In his most re-

Women are still the primary caregiver. Men can often say, ‘Hey, I’m running, my wife will take care of my family.’ And so, [women] are always trying to balance that caregiving—because we still ultimately do most of it—and running for office. DIANE CORNMAN–LEVY

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cent brush with scandal, Kenney came under fire for his flippant handling of the July 4 shooting on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, prompting candidates for his successor and their fellow public servants alike to decry his irresponsibility and call for his resignation. The problems facing Philadelphia are hardly on their way out. Political pundits and everyday citizens are calling for a different approach to leadership that will better address the city’s needs. “The fact that we’re electing our 100th mayor is a real window of opportunity for us to elect a new kind of leader,” says Sandy Vogel, programming chair of the Philadelphia chapter of the League of Women Voters. She explains that, as a grassroots organization committed to the protection and expansion of voting rights, “our current administration has dealt with a wide variety of issues, and a lot of people are asking: ‘What can our next leader do to help Philly evolve as a city?’” In the eyes of many Philadelphians, this new kind of leader is a woman. On the heels of 99 men occupying the mayor’s office, Vogel highlights, many voters have been left wondering whether a woman is better suited to guide the City of Brotherly Love out of an era of heightened political turmoil. “[We] want to see what a female mayor could do to break out of that mold and to make headway on issues that we just haven’t been able to break through


POLITICS

Jesse Zhang

My hope is that when a woman comes [to the mayor’s office], that it isn’t just the trappings of femininity or gender identity that are changing. My hope is that a female mayor leads a radical feminist agenda that turns things on its head—that rejects a patriarchy and class structure that pushed so many women out of office and that has kept women in the City of Philadelphia down. HELEN GYM

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Courtesy of Tony Rocco

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on yet,” she says. Perhaps the greatest asset that a woman could bring to the mayor’s office, Cornman–Levy argues, is a more nuanced perspective—one that’s more in tune with the struggles facing our community’s most vulnerable. Appointing a woman as mayor “will provide a whole gender focus and gender lens to every policy that’s being discussed, because a lot of times, if [policymaking] is just done by men, it’s through their lens,” Cornman–Levy notes. The city’s poverty rate disproportionately impacts women, particularly women of color and their families, she says—adding that “women experience poverty differently; they experience all the challenges [facing the city] differently. And so having a woman at the helm will help Philadelphia tackle these challenges better, because [she’ll be] closer to most of the problems that need to be addressed.” Should a woman be elected to the mayor’s office, she’ll certainly be in good company. Dozens of women have pulled a seat up to the table at major policymaking hubs across the city—from City Council to the Sheriff’s Office. “We have a lot of strong female leaders at the City Council level, at the City Controller level, and [among] our state representatives. We have some incredible female leaders across the board,” Vogel says. In the midst of what seems to be a Golden Age for women’s inclusion in Philadelphia’s political realm, Vogel underscores the importance of acknowledging the barriers that have traditionally shut women out of the field—and that still exist today. “We now see these very strong, experienced leaders,” Vogel says, “so, it’s almost tempting to say, ‘When hasn’t there been a good time for women in Philadelphia politics?’” As Marc Meredith, a professor in Penn’s Department of Political Science, highlights, many of the obstacles that exclude women from city politics are rooted in a centuries–long history and present–day political parties’ interests in maintaining the status quo. “Philadelphia still has a lot of the vestiges of being a political machine for a long time, where oftentimes the choice about who the candidates were going to be was not even made by the candidates themselves, but made by party leaders,” Meredith says.


POLITICS Historically, machines backed the people whose politics reinforced the standing of the party—which were often limited to incumbents and well–established politicians known to brush elbows with the party’s elite. We still see remnants of this system in Philadelphia’s Democratic Party today, Meredith emphasizes. And in the case of political offices that have been dominated by men for the past 321 years—the mayor’s post included—this legacy presents a particular challenge for women looking to break into public service. “Female candidates still face some particular challenges in the places where there once were strong political machines,” Meredith says. “It’s probably less important than it once was to have the support of the party behind you, but it still is the case that there are advantages for people who are able to win over the leaders of the party. I’m thinking in terms of formal endorsements, but formal endorsements often coincide with support, both financially and otherwise.” The exorbitant costs of financing a campaign also bar women from pursuing political office. “Women, historically and currently, have less assets and wealth because of systems grounded in patriarchy and sexism and racism,” Cornman–Levy says. “Many women don’t have access to that kind of capital, that kind of investment. They often don’t have access to big networks of people with wealth or assets, or they have less networks. Women might want to run, but they’re like, ‘I can’t financially do it.’” What’s more, Cornman–Levy, who herself ran to represent District 168 (Delaware County) in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 2016, says that women with children are also discouraged to run by gendered notions of caregiving responsibilities. “Women are still the primary caregiver. Men can often say, ‘Hey, I’m running, my wife will take care of my family.’ And so, [women] are always trying to balance that caregiving—because we still ultimately do most of it—and running for office,” she explains. Yet, dozens of local female politicians remain undaunted—charting a path into offices that traditionally kept them at the gate. The ever–growing number of women elected to public office in Philadelphia is a testament to that fact.

“It’s always groundbreaking when a woman is the first one to do something,” Cornman–Levy says. “It also sends the message that, ‘Yes, women can win. Women can win at this level and be at the helm.’” As for the next post that such changemakers have set their sights on? Three women have joined the race for the mayor’s office thus far in the hopes of becoming not only the city’s 100th mayor, but also its first female one. A former representative of Philadelphia’s Seventh Council District, Maria

For Quiñones Sánchez, this requires a new approach to public safety—an issue she says is front and center in every corner of the city. “Public safety has always been a challenge where I lived, where I’ve grown up, and in the district that I serve. Now, it touches everybody,” she says. A public safety plan that works for Philadelphia, according to Quiñones Sánchez, is one grounded in report findings that turns a critical eye toward the shortcomings of our police departments. She speaks to the importance of prioritizing de–escalation, smart policing, community policing, the

When communities like the ones I represent do better, the entire city does better … We needed resources, we needed to change how the government responded to poverty, deep poverty, crime, trauma—all of those things. MARIA QUIÑONES SÁNCHEZ

Quiñones Sánchez describes herself as a cheerleader for her constituents—ensuring that the unique challenges facing the city’s northern and northeastern neighborhoods didn’t fly under her fellow councilmembers’ radars. “For the last almost 15 years, I have represented one of the poorest and historically marginalized districts in the City of Philadelphia,” Quiñones Sánchez says. “And I was always very clear that my role in City Council was to be the advocate and to really give a voice to these communities.” Strengthening the city’s most vulnerable communities, Quiñones Sánchez argues, is crucial to the health of Philadelphia as a whole. “When communities like the ones I represent do better, the entire city does better,” she says. “We needed resources, we needed to change how the government responded to poverty, deep poverty, crime, trauma—all of those things.”

use of forensics, and, most importantly, investing in marginalized communities. For Quiñones Sánchez, accomplishing this requires the appointment of a mayor willing to take a long–term view—who sees the issues facing Philadelphia’s at–risk communities not as problems in need of quick fixes, but as ongoing projects that must remain at the forefront of local politics for years to come. “Where I think I’m different from the women—the very qualified women—running in this race is that I’m going to be talking about what this city will look like in 2030, not what the city looks like in 2023,” she explains. “What are the [necessary] infrastructure investments? How do we address the lack of support and investment in historically marginalized communities? How do we build equity in a government that has discriminated based on people’s zip codes?” NOVEMBER 2022

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F E AT U R E A Hunting Park native, Quiñones Sánchez’s dedication to defending the city’s marginalized populations is rooted in firsthand experience. Having moved to Philadelphia from Puerto Rico as a baby, Quiñones Sánchez was raised in public housing before her family purchased their first home—a milestone that coincided with the rise of the city’s crack epidemic. “We bought our first house in the ‘70s, where I experienced … the [effects of] the initial crack epidemic in the Hunting Park area. As a young person, I watched everybody get arrested and really watched the harmful effects of these public health crises in vulnerable communities,” she says.

Courtesy of Cherelle L. Parker

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It was this experience that inspired Quiñones Sánchez to launch her storied advocacy career. “I started doing community organizing work in the local Hunting Park CDC, at the age of 15. We were doing community development, block–to–block organizing—and that forever changed my life and why I do what I do today,” she says. Her devotion to addressing the hardships facing Philadelphia’s working–class families, immigrant communities, and communities of color is woven into the fabric of each and every initiative that Quiñones Sánchez has advanced. She founded the city’s first bilingual charter school, spearheaded campaigns to implement bilingual ballots in Latinx communi-

ties, fought discriminatory banking practices in low–income neighborhoods, and formed a statewide coalition to support Latinx candidates running for office. Voters searching for proof of Quiñones Sánchez’s commitment to her creed need look no further than her record. “When you have a certain lived experience, you understand that every policy decision has an impact, because you’ve lived it,” she says. “The next mayor has to be the cheerleader that speaks to the resiliency of the people who live the challenges and obstacles [facing Philadelphia] every day.” Cherelle Parker’s decades–long political career has been guided by a mission


POLITICS to bridge the gap between Philadelphia’s haves and have–nots. In early September, she resigned her position as representative for the Ninth Council District to launch her bid for mayor. Parker began her work in City Council at the tender age of 17 as an intern in the Office of Councilwoman Marian Tasco. “I was sitting at the reception desk learning how to help people keep their utilities on, and really learning how to solve problems,” she says. In the years since, Parker has worn a number of hats—pursuing a career as an English teacher before returning to politics as a full– time member of Tasco’s team. In 2005, she assumed the role of State Representative for the 200th Legislative District in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, becoming the youngest Black woman ever elected to the body. In 2015, she joined Philadelphia’s City Council where she championed legislation and policy initiatives ranging from a low–interest Housing Preservation Loan Program, meant to help citizens maintain ownership of their properties, to a small business training and technical assistance initiative. Through it all, Parker has kept the interests of the city’s underserved communities close to heart. Raised in West Oak Lane by her grandparents, Parker understands the economic struggles plaguing many Philadelphia neighborhoods—in fact, she’s lived them. “People hear me talk about closing the gap between the haves and the have–nots. Well, it’s because I was on the other side—I was the have–not,” Parker explains. “My grandmother … received public assistance to take care of me. And so, I noticed that life was different for people with means at a very, very, very young age.” For a young Parker, the support of her community meant everything and inspired her to pursue a path to public service. “The community, village, neighborhood, it meant the world to me, right? I was a product of my neighborhood,” she says. “The coaches, the teachers, the people who were actively engaged in community–based organizations in my area—they helped to motivate me and inspire me and encouraged me to dedicate my life.” Paying homage to her beginnings, uplifting under–resourced districts has become the ethos of Parker’s politics. “I had this burning fire in my stomach about making

sure that neighborhoods were stable,” she says, “to give them access to opportunity—particularly those people who were not born into wealth.” Parker highlights that fulfilling this mission requires addressing three key issues: safety, cleanliness, and economic opportunity. In her tenure on City Council, she released her Philadelphia Neighborhood Safety and Community Policing Plan—call-

ployment that gives people the ability to take care of their own family without dependence on the government.” “That’s what made the working–class neighborhood that I grew up in so grand,” she says. To put such plans into action, a “get–it– done” mayor needs to step up to the plate— and Parker aspires to be just that. “If the people of Philadelphia give me the great honor and privilege of serving as

People hear me talk about closing the gap between the haves and the have–nots. Well, it’s because I was on the other side—I was the have–not. My grandmother … received public assistance to take care of me. And so, I noticed that life was different for people with means at a very, very, very young age. CHERELLE PARKER

ing for the recruitment of 300 new police officers, an increase in funding to the Police Department’s security camera program, and augmented support for initiatives dedicated to cleaning up commercial areas. The implementation of such a system, Parker hopes, will effectively address residents’ safety and public service concerns. “I listened to what people said in [Philadelphia’s] neighborhoods, when they said they didn’t feel safe, that they wanted community policing,” she says. “That’s why I introduced the Neighborhood Safety and Community Policing Plan—addressing quality–of–life issues, supporting changes that people can tangibly touch, see, and feel in their neighborhoods.” What’s more, Parker has been an outspoken advocate of programs meant to equip citizens with the tools that they need to achieve financial stability. Specifically, she calls for “training with direct access to em-

the 100th mayor of our city, I’m going to be Cherelle ‘Show–Me’ Parker,” she says. “Because I’m going to fix things, and it’s going to be done in an unconventional way.” And for Parker, fixing things requires getting all hands on deck. “It’s got to be the government, it’s got to be the private sector, it’s got to be our citizens engaged. [Philadelphians] just want a leader to say: ‘This is how we can get it done.’ And that’s what I’m prepared to do as the mayor—the 100th mayor—of the City of Philadelphia.” Former City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart’s path into local politics was far from traditional. Having spent the early years of her career working in New York City’s private sector, Rhynhart was drawn back to her hometown of Philadelphia in 2008 by the opportunity to use her Wall Street experience to rectify the financial woes facing City Hall. NOVEMBER 2022

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What I’ve tried to do is use the powers of my office to really get at problems within city government, exposing those problems and charting a path forward. That’s the power of my office. REBECCA RHYNHART

Courtesy of Rebecca for Philadelphia


POLITICS “I decided to come back and work for Philadelphia—the city that I love,” she says. “I wanted to use my financial knowledge to make it work.” Rhynhart was first appointed to the position of city treasurer upon her return before serving as the director of Philadelphia’s $4 billion general fund budget and eventually as chief administrative officer. After nearly a decade of working for the city, Rhynhart realized that there was only one way to make the difference that she wanted to make in city government: Run for office. “I decided to run because I saw so much within our city government that needed to change and that couldn’t change unless the politics changed,” she says. “After about nine years … [I knew that] I had to run for office to have the impact that I wanted to have.” Running against a long–term incumbent for the office of the city controller, Rhynhart was an underdog. “I definitely was not expected to win that race,” she laughs. “I had the support of one out of 69 Democratic ward leaders.” Yet, Rhynhart managed to pull away with 58 percent of the vote citywide—becoming the city’s first female city controller in January 2018. As the independent financial watchdog of the city, much of Rhynhart’s work as controller entailed auditing the performance of all city departments. From internal controls, to the parking authority, to the city’s controversial sexual harassment policies, Rhynhart’s tenure was spent pulling back the curtain on the pitfalls of Philadelphia’s political machine. “What I’ve tried to do is use the powers of my office to really get at problems within city government, exposing those problems and charting a path forward,” Rhynhart says. “That’s the power of my office … to expose the problems and to make recommendations for improvement.” The scope of Rhynhart’s work as controller wasn’t limited to the duties traditionally delegated to her office. Ever the agent of change, she dedicated her years at the helm to investigating issues facing not just city government—but Philadelphia at large. “One thing I’m proud of is the work that my office has done under my leadership in areas that are outside the traditional role of

the controller’s office,” Rhynhart adds. “I’ve done a lot of work on gun violence. Since 2019, my office has looked at this issue, has looked at what works in other places. And that’s what led me to start calling on Mayor Kenney to implement these intervention strategies that are so successful in other places.” Rhynhart is well aware of the work that needs to be done to make Philadelphia the safe and equitable city that it has the potential to be, and she wants to be the one doing it. But first, she needs a bigger platform— and the mayor’s office seems like the right place to start. When asked about the most pressing issues facing mayoral candidates this election cycle, Rhynhart is quick to name a laundry list of areas where the current administration has fallen short. “Public safety is the number one issue that we have to tackle—that ties into gun violence, and there are proven ways to do that.” Rhynhart says. “We need to invest in the neighborhoods that have long been neglected. We need to crack down on illegal guns. These are actions that a mayor can take.” Investing in Philadelphia’s public education is also top of mind for Rhynhart, whose relationship to the city’s school system is particularly personal. “My daughter is in seventh grade in the public school system, and we need to make sure that every child is going to a school that is in a safe building and that provides a good education,” she says. “Right now, the mayor picks the school board—which historically has not been the case—and I think that provides an opportunity for a mayor to be much more involved in the schools.” Next up is an overhaul of municipal services more generally, which receive different levels of funding district–to–district. “We also need to ensure equity in city services; we have some neighborhoods that are getting much better services than others, and that’s just not right and must be fixed,” Rhynhart explains. And to pull it all off, Rhynhart asserts that Philadelphia’s next mayor must also be able to rally politicians of all parties together to work toward her vision of a stronger Philadelphia—to bridge the ever–widening gap across the aisle.

“The next mayor needs to have empathy, to be able to connect with people’s needs and bring people together,” Rhynhart says. “I talk to activists, business leaders, community leaders, and I think that we’re really more alike than different. When it comes down to it, what everyone wants is safety for their family, a good job, a good school, and clean streets.” A year out from the election of Philadelphia’s 100th mayor, the city is at a crossroads. “I feel that our city is at such a critical moment right now,” Rhynhart says. “There’s a sense of, ‘Where are we going from here?’” With Philadelphia in the throes of a gun violence epidemic, an economic downturn that disproportionately affects communities of color, and the aftermath of a public health crisis that exposed how deeply inequality is ingrained in access to public services—moving the city forward is no easy task. And with the current administration consistently failing to make the progress that its constituents expect, mayoral candidates need to bring a novel approach to leadership that will restore waning faith in local government. City Hall’s most outspoken female changemakers have stepped up to the plate, each with a unique vision for a better Philadelphia. By knocking on the door of an office that has historically shut them out, Maria Quiñones Sánchez, Cherelle Parker, and Rebecca Rhynhart lend a fresh perspective to city government that offers a voice to the city’s voiceless. “My hope is that when a woman comes [to the mayor’s office], that it isn’t just the trappings of femininity or gender identity that are changing,” Councilmember Gym says. “My hope is that a female mayor leads a radical feminist agenda that turns things on its head—that rejects a patriarchy and class structure that pushed so many women out of office and that has kept women in the City of Philadelphia down.” Philadelphians want to see radical change made to a stagnant system that many believe no longer works for them—or perhaps never has. And the appointment of a woman to the mayorship for the first time in city history has the opportunity to do just that. ❋ NOVEMBER 2022

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STYLE

Can Celebrities Drive Youth to the Polls? How “political star power” has transformed voting as we know it. BY RIANE LUMER

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ollowing superstar Harry Styles’ 15– show run at Madison Square Garden, he continued his “Love On Tour” campaign by taking to a Texas stage. One key difference? He had an exceptional fan in his Austin audience: Beto O’Rourke— the Democratic Texas gubernatorial candidate running against incumbent Republican Greg Abbott. At the sold–out show, Styles flashed his brown and black guitar advertising a “Beto for Texas” sticker. He motioned toward the logo as the endorsement shone on the jumbotron, panning to reveal O’Rourke beaming in attendance. The young crowd shook the stadium in applause at the singer’s political statement. Later that evening, Styles and O’Rourke posed for a picture together. It broke the internet. Fans erupted into a frenzy, posting on Twitter with comments such as, “Lol name a more iconic duo I’ll wait.” This isn’t the first time that the “As It Was” singer has revealed his election preferences. During the 2020 presidential campaign, Styles demonstrated his support for now–President Joe Biden, retweeting a campaign video and commenting, “If I could vote in America, I’d vote with kindness.” And as time continues, influencers have infiltrated political scenes more and more. Celebrity endorsement has never been easier. Through a quick story post, users

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can offer unsolicited political opinions to millions of followers. The 2020 presidential election amassed unparalleled input from celebrities, setting a precedent for upcoming elections. But the question remains: Do these eye–catching endorsements actually shape election results, and how much power do these stars truly have over voting behaviors? The One Direction alum is far from the first to engage in such conversation with fans. Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish are some of the numerous celebrities capitalizing on their stardom to prime electoral involvement. For decades, young voter turnout was—and still is—abysmal, with historically lower rates than older age groups; despite an increase in their numbers over the years, only half of eligible voters below the age of 30 participated in 2020’s presidential election. To expand the longevity of voting, encouragement is essential. The earlier the practice begins, the more likely it is that voting will become a habit among diverse populations. Both Swift and Eilish joined Styles in teaming up with HeadCount, the nonpartisan organization spearheading campaigns to promote young democratic participation. Since the 2020 election, over eight million people have joined the ranks of voting eligibility. “Having

the support of individuals like Harry Styles has a tremendous impact,” HeadCount Co–Founder and Executive Director Andy Bernstein says. Such a sizable increase can generate pivotal effects in the midterm elections—and, by extension, policy. Taylor Swift—who boasts 228 million followers on Instagram and countless sold–out concerts—routinely speaks on her alignments with social issues: fighting for gender equality, supporting LGBTQ rights, and combating racism. In her initial foray into politics, she endorsed Democratic candidates for the 2018 midterm elections while calling on young fans to amplify their voices on social issues. Over the span of 48 hours after her endorsement, more than 160,000 people (predominantly aged 18 to 29) registered to vote, drawing the most traffic to Vote.org since National Voter Registration Day. In a statement, the nonprofit said that “Taylor’s post has helped bring out young voters.” Similarly, Billie Eilish uses her fame for causes including climate change activism, racial justice, and voting and pro–choice rights. She makes it a priority to keep her fans in the loop regarding contentious matters. Bernstein says that Eilish has been an avid advocate for voting and a “supporter of HeadCount” even before she became eligible to


POLITICS

Jojo Buccini

vote. Now, Eilish is doubling down on the political initiative she began in 2020, even going so far as to offer a sweepstakes prize for a lucky voter to attend her concerts abroad—signed merch and flights included. Evidently, Eilish is ready to commit this mission as part of her brand. On tour, Eilish frequently takes to the mic during her track “all the good girls go to hell” to express her rage regarding the looming climate crisis. “I’m working with HeadCount to encourage everyone to show up at the polls and use their voice during these midterm elections,” Eilish says in an interview with Seventeen. “With what is going on in our country, we

need to get out to the polls and vote for what we believe in. Not showing up is not an option.” As Styles croons, it’s a sign of the times. While America’s political divide becomes more polarized, people look to their idols for guidance. So when worldwide singing sensations encourage their fans to become more politically engaged, who’s going to say no? Ultimately, in certain cases, celebrity political engagement is influential in the concerted push for voter participation. Although there’s a lack of research documenting a causal relationship between celebrity authority and voter turnout, this isn’t to say that the music industry’s influence

in political consciousness is futile. By attracting attention to specific candidates as well as rallying young fans to vote, starstruck audiences may feel more inclined to enact their civic duty now and in the future. Indeed, celebrities with young followings are crucial in reshaping our country. With the attention of millions at their fingertips, all influencers should be using their platforms to evoke positive change. Election Day is weeks away. Greater visibility for social injustice is essential— because there’s too much at stake on the ballot. Once again, as Styles says, we are not simply living in a daydream. k NOVEMBER 2022

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EVENTS CALENDAR

Take It to the Streets

What to Do in Philly This Month This month: Film festivals. Battles of the bands. The absolute domination of the Philadelphia 76ers.

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oing to college in Philly, we’re so often bombarded—on social media and IRL—with seemingly endless options for how to spend our free time. So I’m delighted to announce that Street has done the hard part for you: We’ve rounded up what we think are the can’t–miss events for the month (and you can expect more of these in the months to come) in one convenient place. If I’ve done my job right, there’ll be something in here for every one of our readers, no matter what you like to do with your weekends. Walden Green

All Month: 76ers Season Now this is a sports franchise that I can get behind. Lots of people don’t understand that truly embracing the doctrine of “Trust the Process” means understanding that Sam Hinkie’s vision is still on the path to being realized. Now, we’ve got James Harden, lost the dead weight, and—with the year that Philly sports have been having so far—chances are looking up for a Blue November. Wells Fargo Center, 3601 N Broad St. —————————————————————————————

(PAAFF), which celebrates its 15th anniversary in November. PAAFF’s theme this time around is “Intersections,” as the festival continues to explore and honor Asian and Pacific Islander identities and their intersectionalities. PAAFF will feature its annual Pacific Showcase, which curates dozens of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander short films. Tickets from $15, single rentals for films from $5, Asian Arts Initiative, 1219 Vine St. —————————————————————————————

Nov. 5: Philly Zine Fest Nov. 2–13: Les Misérables @ Academy For those of you who have been waiting to fiof Music nally unleash your creative side—or those of

and make the short trip over to Warehouse on Watts to hear some incredible music while supporting FosterClub and StandUp for Kids. $15, 7:30 p.m. Warehouse on Watts, 923 N. Watts St. —————————————————————————————

Through Nov. 6: Pumpkinland @ Linvilla Orchards

Leaves are changing colors and pumpkin spice has been resurrected—fall is officially here and it’s the perfect time to take yourself to Pumpkinland at Linvilla Orchards to heal your repressed childhood trauma. Who needs therapy when you have Daytime Harvest Hayrides, corn mazes, and endless bushels of apples? $5, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Linvilla Orchards, 137 W. Knowlton Rd, Media. —————————————————————————————

Nov. 8: Election Day

You’ve gotten those endless Fetterman and Dr. Oz YouTube ads. Finally, they’ll be gone because Nov. 8 is Election Day! If you’re over 18 and registered in Pennsylvania, you have the chance to submit your ballot directly on campus. Penn has several campus polling locations, so check Penn Leads the Vote for further information on where you should specifically go. 18+, free, polling places in multiple locations on campus. —————————————————————————————

Nov. 9: The 1975 @ Freedom Mortgage Pavilion

If you like your ‘80s new wave music with an extra helping of dick jokes, you’ll love The 1975 at Freedom Mortgage Pavilion. They just released their new album Being Funny in a Foreign Language—produced by Jack Antonoff, who made the songs sound bad. But hey, they’ll probably sound good live. Tickets from $65, 7 p.m. Freedom Mortgage Pavilion, 1 Harbor Blvd., Camden. —————————————————————————————

Can you hear the people sing? No? Well, if you attend the Broadway–scale production of Les Misérables at the Academy of Music, you certainly will. If you’re nostalgic for a performance that will transport you to another place and time, whisking you away through song and spirit, this show is for you. Tickets from $21 in the nosebleeds, Academy of Music, 240 S. Broad St. —————————————————————————————

you who pretend like you want to but never will—this month’s Philly Zine Fest is the place for you. Organized by The Soapbox Community Print Shop & Zine Library, this Saturday afternoon activity is the best way to procrastinate midterms studying and have fun while doing it. Free, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., 1913 N. Broad St. —————————————————————————————

Nov. 11: EMO PROM 2022!! @ W.O.W. Philly

Nov. 5: Battle of Xi Bands @ W.O.W. Nov. 3–13: Philadelphia Asian Philly American Film Festival Your local frat boy probably spent his Tuesday

Seasonal depression putting you in your feels? Then you might be eligible for My Chemical Slow Dance, aka Emo Prom. Grab your crush, haphazardly swipe on some black eyeliner, and pull that Hot Topic ’fit out of your closet. This is the night of your middle school dreams, only this time there’s alcohol—and other sexy surprises—involved. 21+, 9 p.m. Warehouse on Watts, 923 N. Watts St. —————————————————————————————

Philly continues its film festival circuit with the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival

night on Canva crafting the perfect poster for Temple’s Battle of the Bands, so do him a favor

Nov. 18: Jockstrap @ Johnny Brenda’s

OK, OK, hear me out. I know the name is dumb

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EVENTS CALENDAR

Emily White

(read: fantastic), but Jockstrap is making some of the most forward–thinking—and, most importantly, fun—experimental pop music today. Just listen to “50/50” or “The City” and tell me they don’t bang. Their live show is sure to be an absolute mindfuck in the best way possible. 21+, $15, doors at 8 p.m., show at 9 p.m., Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 Frankford Ave. —————————————————————————————

runs (whatever that means) to finally release ourselves from the guilt of never fulfilling our long–gone New Years’ Resolutions before we need to make new, albeit non–committal, ones soon. $15 to $155, various locations and times. —————————————————————————————

Sorry folks, but your excuse for not working out is about to expire. Just kidding—I’m right there with you. But let’s take advantage of these 8K races, half and full marathons, and fun

for an opportunity to trip the light fantastic, this ABBA inspired disco fits the bill. Break out your bell bottom pants and slinky dresses, and dance the night away.

Nov. 23: Gimme Gimme Gimme Disco @ Brooklyn Bowl

Nov. 19 + 20: Philadelphia Marathon Gimme gimme gimme any excuse to dress Weekend up and dance the night away. If you’re itching

21+, tickets from $12, doors at 9 p.m., show at 10 p.m. —————————————————————————————

Nov. 29: Paddington 2 @ Philadelphia Film Society The rare sequel to surpass its predecessor, Paddington 2 is, without exaggerating, an unparalleled cinematic triumph. This film has everything: evil Hugh Grant, orange marmalade, singing prison chefs, and one irresistibly lovable CGI bear. The kicker: This screening courtesy of the PFS is pay–what–you–wish in honor of Giving Tuesday. 7:00 p.m., Philadelphia Film Society Film Center, 1412 Chestnut St.

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Get pro tips this holiday. Find inspiration, recipes, tips and more.


MUSIC

Sometimes a Fantasy, Sometimes the Real Thing: In Conversation with Street spoke with indie rock singer–songwriter Sophie Allison about turning sadness into stories and her new album, ‘Sometimes, Forever.’

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WALDEN GREEN

ince her earliest Bandcamp recordings, Sophie Allison has been painting her songs in increasingly vibrant colors. As the songwriter and lead singer of her band Soccer Mommy, Allison produced the autumn–hued Clean, and released Color Theory, with its sickly tones of yellow, blue, and grey, weeks before the COVID–19 pandemic hit. The palette for her new album, Sometimes, Forever, has the most depth and shade of any Soccer Mommy record to date—thanks in part to a team–up with producer Oneohtrix Point Never—but it hasn’t been an easy road to get there. When Allison and I connect via phone, we’re both in transit—I’m in the backseat of a car on the way to a friend’s house in New Jersey, and she’s in the midst of her tour, which will include a stop in Philly this month. Over the course of our conversation, we chart her journey from the first songs she ever wrote to becoming a celebrated indie darling and, yes, a Bernie Sanders—approved meme. Music has been a part of Allison’s life as far back as she can remember, even if she spent years thinking it wouldn’t be enough to pay the bills on its own. “The songwriting itself is like the same thing that I’ve been doing since 6 years old,” she says. Since then, her process has remained the same in a lot of ways. She sits around playing guitar until she finds a chord progression she likes. From there, Allison starts coming up with ideas for melodies and lyrics. “I’m never recording stuff or working on

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other parts while I’m writing songs,” she says. “It’s always just me and a guitar.” Allison describes music as her “sole real passion in life,” but she arrived at New York University with a different plan. She would still be making music all the time—“playing gigs and being really involved with it”—but major in English and music business. As these things go, it wasn’t too long before Allison’s passion caught up with her. “In my freshman year of college, I was making music so much and really devoting so much of my time to it that I wasn’t—to be honest—very interested in anything going on at school, and anything going on with this idea of having this major for this other career,” she says. Around the same time, Allison started to post her earliest recordings to Bandcamp under the Soccer Mommy moniker. The first of these was songs for the recently sad, a collection of lo–fi bedroom indie cobbled together from fuzzed out guitars and rudimentary drum tracks. It revealed Allison’s gift for uniquely bittersweet songwriting, with hooks that get stuck in your brain like Laffy Taffy and lyrics that hurt like papercuts. People started to take notice. “That’s around the time when I started to think maybe it was a possibility to actually do it as a career,” says Allison, “because stuff was kind of taking off on Bandcamp, I had labels talking to me.” Eventually, she put out her first full–length, for young hearts, on Orchid Tapes in 2016 and


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Photos courtesy of Soccer Mommy

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her second, Collection, on Fat Possum Records a year later. She began to build a devoted fan base online, teenagers who fell in love with her acid tongue and raw vulnerability. She wasn’t afraid to wear her love for Taylor Swift right alongside her more “hip” forbears like Liz Phair, a proposition that becomes less radical each year—thanks in part to Soccer Mommy and other kindred bands. Soccer Mommy would go on to expand from a solo project to a full band by the time Clean, Allison’s debut album proper, came out in 2018. On that record’s opening track, “Still Clean,” she spins a twisted fairytale, painting a lover as an “animal” who “Took me down to the water, got your mouth all clean / Left me drowning, once you picked me out your bloody teeth.” These songs in the shape of fables or parables crop up again and again in the former English major’s discography. The way she tells it, “I love fantasy and I’m obsessed with metaphors where basically it’s taking this normal thing like heartbreak or love and turning it into this dramatic story that’s got this violent aspect or this mystical aspect.” There’s plenty of mysticism to be found on Sometimes, Forever, too. The brooding “Following Eyes” describes “The strangest light above the moor” like a will–o’–the–wisp in the Middle Ages, and “Darkness Forever” embraces even more sinister imagery: “It’s warm in the kitchen like hot–sticky summer / The demons are rising up with the smoke.” For Allison, metaphors and dramatizations aren’t just a way to flex her muscles as a songwriter; they’re essential to survival. “There are definitely songs on the album where, when I was writing it, I was using this element of fantasy as escapism from the reality of it,” she says. Soccer Mommy’s music often deals with weighty subject matter—Clean trafficked primarily in heartbreak and Color Theory was a concept album about depression—but her escapist approach doesn’t mean she’s backing away from these themes. “It’s a good way to write something that feels a little bit outside of yourself while also being able to write a story that feels like it was written with actual investment,” Allison says. On the flip side, the aesthetics of high fantasy were all over the moodboard during the making of Sometimes, Forever. In addition to her favorite TV shows and books, Allison drew upon references to nerdcore tabletop games, even though she’s “never played Magic: The Gathering or

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Dungeons & Dragons. I don’t know anyone who would even try to play that with me.” When it came time to translate those inspirations to tape, Soccer Mommy turned to the talents of Daniel Lopatin, sometimes known by his alias Oneohtrix Point Never. On paper, it’s an unlikely pairing; Lopatin makes glitchy, vaporwave–adjacent electronic music and film scores for movies in which Julia Fox was “Josh Safdie’s muse.” But it ended up being a fortuitous meeting. Allison is up front about the fact that she’s “not the producer type,” so “Daniel helps me to gather my ideas … to realize the fantasy world of the songs.” Sometimes, as with “Bones” or “Shotgun,” that sounds like carving out more shape and dimension in Soccer Mommy’s pre–existing indie rock. That said, some of the most jaw–dropping moments on Sometimes, Forever happen when she lets Lopatin push the limits of her sound. He rains down shooting stars on “With U,” and breaks “Unholy Affliction” apart until it’s practically a husk of a song. It’s stayed constant in many ways, but Allison has also shifted her songwriting process as her band and sound have expanded. “As I have started making more and more professional sounding albums … there’s a new layer to the demoing phase,” she says, “[I’m] trying to figure out cool parts, structural stuff, with dynamic builds and things like that.” “newdemo” is a perfect example of that, layering MIDI choral vocals and electronic embellishment on top of another of her tales—this one about a “creature that feeds behind closed tours.” Now, Soccer Mommy is on tour; their shows are “a mix of old songs and new songs, some singalong moments and some more stripped down stuff.” With such heavy subject matter, one wonders if it’s emotionally taxing to play them ad infinitum. But Sophie Allison doesn’t see it that way. “The album has so many elements of fantasy in it for me, and I think part of it came from writing these songs at a time in my life—” she cuts herself off, asserting, “they’re really fun for me now, and they were really fun for me when I was recording them.” The music Allison makes as Soccer Mommy is proof that following your muse can get you far, and that it’s possible to find beauty and pleasure in the pain. All it takes is a little bit of magic. ❋ Soccer Mommy is performing at Franklin Music Hall on Nov. 11, 2022. Doors open at 7 p.m.


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C R E AT I V E S C H AT Sunday, November 13 4pm-6pm | The Rotunda 4014 Walnut Street Registration Required:

FREE!

Live Music | Light Refreshments | Networking

Open to the public

The Women's Coalition for Empowerment, Inc. presents Creatives Chat, a pop-up curated discussion event infusing creative industry topics, best practices and live music. Creatives Chat will be moderated by Shekhinah B., an artistic multi-hyphenate, arts administrator and vocal performer. We welcome artists from every discipline to attend. This event will be an open dialogue between attendees and the moderator, a judgement free zone to explore innovative approaches towards creative freedom.

NOVEMBER 2022

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STYLE

Looking to the Future with Space–Age Fashion

The space–age fashion trends of yesterday are a plea for a better tomorrow. ALE X ANDR A K ANAN

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iven polyvinyl chloride, foil insulation, and metal plugs, the last thing to come to mind for most people would be a high–fashion runway show—but for the pioneers of the Space– Age fashion movement, these construction materials were nothing short of inspiring. Emerging in the mid–1960s, the Space– Age movement in couture was known not only for its eccentric materials, but for its cartoonish silhouettes, helmet–shaped hats, insulated dresses, and, of course, moon boots. America was entering a new era that provided a stark contrast to the traditional feminine figures and delicate patterns in women’s fashion of the ‘50s. And as with any fashion trend, this shift didn’t appear out of nowhere; it was a reaction to the politics and cultural mentalities of the respective decades. Coming out of World War II, the United States sought a return to normalcy by channeling the breadwinner husband and the obedient housewife—think the scenes in Don’t Worry Darling and Edward Scissorhands where the husbands simultaneously pull out of their driveways in matching cars as their wives wave them off. And of course, the stunning Florence Pugh and Dianne Wiest can be spotted in princess–style silhouettes that create the desired womanly hourglass shape. Despite a longing for the past, this era of conservatism offered a new promise: the accessibility of space. Even if you knew nothing about the Space Race or Russia, it

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was impossible to escape space culture in mid–century America. Whether you were eating Kellogg’s Solar Cereal, fighting bad guys with the Mighty Robot toy, or swinging along to Bart Howard’s “Fly Me to the Moon,” the whole nation was captivated by the idea of achieving the impossible. However, as exciting as this new possibility was, space was and still is only accessible to a select few. At its core, the Space Race remained another example of American expansionism in the hope to preserve our traditional values against communism. In contrast, Space–Age fashion was a visual means of declaring that we were ready for a new age—an age that had women as an active, powerful part of society. French designer André Courrèges is known to be one of the first and most influential contributors to the trend. His 1964 “Space Age” spring collection utilized PVC pipes and plastic to create calf–high alabaster moon boots, scandalously short and straight dresses, and extraterrestrial–inspired glasses. Yet somehow, the most shocking aspect of the show was not the clothes themselves. In a field where the fatigued, malnourished look often prevailed, Courrèges had his athletic models dancing along to jazz music in a vibrant promotion of female health. In that same year, Italian–French engineer and designer Pierre Cardin emerged with his “Cosmos’’ collection: an androgynous line that ignored the female figure to create pieces in unexpected shapes. Lightbulb–shaped wool dresses, feathered hats, and circular ruby red raincoats were some of his signature looks. Despite the shape, his clothing remained flexible and moveable for the modern woman. In a 2010 interview with The New York Times, Cardin states, “My way was to draw something of the future—to be young, to see that a woman could be free. I wanted to give women in the 1960s a chance to work, to sit, to take the car and drive in my dresses.” For the woman working on Braniff Airlines, designer Emilio Pucci’s 1965 functional–yet–stylish flight attendant collection was unlike any work attire seen before. With astronaut–inspired helmets to protect their face and hair on the tarmac, comfortable shift dresses, and matching heavy cotton


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coats, these women could embrace the future in the most fashionable uniforms. Within the decade, futuristic styles made their way from catwalks to television and film. Paco Rabanne’s costumes for Jane Fonda’s portrayal of the titular character in Barbarella flaunted chainmail crop tops and metal corsets that would become staples for the style. Even series such as Star Trek and The Jetsons sparked interest in the new wave of fashion. However, despite being based on the future, Space–Age fashion became a thing of the past as the more down–to– earth, flowy fashion of the ‘70s emerged. It wouldn’t be until the late 2010s that Space– Age fashion would make a return. In 2017, the Chanel fall/winter

2017/18 show came with an out–of–this world surprise as a 35–meter faux rocket “launched” during the show, and with it, the re–emergence of Space– Age fashion. The models—adorned with planet prints, metallic pants, and even space blankets—strutted around the launch pad. The following year, Moschino would release their ready–to–wear collection, notably inspired by Jackie Kennedy, the ‘60s style icon known for her tweed skirt–suits and bouffant haircut. Each model was painted head–to–toe in blue, green, or purple: the collection’s otherworldly twist on Jackie Kennedy’s iconic style.

The year 2017 was a monumental chapter in American history, and not just for outlandish fashion. It was the year of a turbulent inauguration that would split parties for years to come. Wildfires roared at a rate never seen before, and rising ocean temperatures caused the trillion–ton Larsen Ice Shelf to break off. America yearned for a future wildly different from what we were experiencing, and just as it came half a century ago, Space–Age fashion emerged from the shadows as a plea for a better, more progressive tomorrow. With a fire that’s only grown across our natural world, it’s no wonder that we’re looking to the stars for hope. ❋

Collin Wang

NOVEMBER 2022

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FILM & TV

‘Can I Touch You There?’: Inside Hollywood’s Intimacy Coordination Boom A look into Hollywood’s mixed feelings about the industry’s new sex–scenes standards. EMMA HALPER

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ut your right hand here. Try moving your hips down a little. This position looks odd. That may sound like someone being coached through a round of Twister, but really, it’s a set of common directives given to actors by intimacy coordinators. Not even a decade ago, most people working in Hollywood had never heard that term before. Now, intimacy coordinators have become an industry standard, booming in the wake of the #MeToo movement, and Hollywood talent, both young and old, are now adjusting to this new normal. An intimacy coordinator, as defined by the Screen Actors Guild, is “an advocate, a liaison between actors and production, and a movement coach and/or choreographer in regard to nudity and simulated sex and other intimate and hyperexposed scenes.” In short, they serve the same purpose as a stunt coordinator, but for sex scenes. Looking to Hollywood’s past, it’s not hard to see why a post–#MeToo industry would be eager to embrace professionals

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on set. There is a dark, deep–rooted history not only of sexual misconduct off screen, but many instances of inappropriate situations happening during the actual shooting of sexual or otherwise intimate scenes. The most notorious example of this is Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1972 film Last Tango in Paris, in which star Maria Schneider was subject to sexual assault during the filming of an extremely explicit sex scene, known colloquially as “the butter scene.” In the scene, star Marlon Brando’s character uses butter as a lubricant while having sex with Schneider’s character. Bertolucci himself admitted to not having revealed to Schneider that butter would be involved in the scene until the day of filming, saying that he wanted Schneider’s reaction “as a girl, not as an actress,” and that he “wanted her to react humiliated.” In 2007, Schneider said of the scene that she “felt humiliated, and to be honest, [she] felt a little raped by both Marlon, and by Bertolucci.” At the time of filming, Brando was 48, while Schneider was 19.

Fortunately, intimacy coordinators seem to be having a great impact on sets, making actors feel safer and more comfortable in very vulnerable scenes. HBO’s The Deuce was one of the first productions to embrace intimacy coordinators. In this show about sex workers in the 1970s, several actors began to feel uncomfortable with the volume of nudity and sexual scenes. (The show also starred James Franco, who was accused of sexual assault by multiple women in 2018.) In an interview with CBS Sunday Morning, star Emily Meade, who initiated the change, said intimacy coordinators make sets safer, adding that she “wasn’t signing up to be an exploited porn star, [she] was signing up to play one.” However, not everyone in Hollywood has been receptive to the influx of intimacy coordinators. Controversy sparked over the summer when Game of Thrones star Sean Bean gave an interview expressing his problems with intimacy coordinators, claiming that they “spoil the spontaneity” of sex scenes.


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Catering 0 Delivery 0 Takeout 4040 Locust St. pattayarestaurant.com Jojo Buccini Bean cited Lena Hall—his own co–star in the show Snowpiercer—in his proclamation against intimacy coordinators, saying that Hall “had a musical cabaret background, so she was up for anything.” She took to Twitter to push back on his comments, saying “Just because I am in theater … does not mean that I am up for anything. … I do feel that intimacy coordinators are a welcome addition to the set and think they could also help with the trauma experienced in other scenes.” No matter what Bean or anyone else thinks about intimacy coordinators, their presence in Hollywood is not going anywhere. Many of the industry’s rising stars, such as those on Euphoria and Sex Education, have only ever filmed sex scenes with intimacy coordinators on set. Hollywood’s history has been riddled with violence against and exploitation of women, and if intimacy coordinators can reduce the amount of actresses coming away from sets with trauma and shame, then a bit of lost “spontaneity” is a worthy trade–off. ❋

The

Streetcast a podcast by

NOVEMBER 2022

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ARTS

The PMA’s ‘Matisse in the 1930s’ Tells a Philadelphia Story How a mural commission for the Barnes Foundation in 1930 became a moment of creative renewal. ARIELLE STANGER

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f you’re a fan of Matisse, Philadelphia is the place to be this fall. Matisse in the 1930s is the latest exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA), but the story it tells begins at the Barnes Foundation. When emblematic French artist Henri Matisse visited the United States in 1930, he made a special trip to see Albert Barnes, whose personal collection contained many of his works. Barnes commissioned Matisse to paint a mural that would fill the three lunettes on

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Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art the southeast wall of his main gallery. The only site–specific work in this collection at the Barnes Foundation, Matisse’s The Dance was a watershed moment in his career, ultimately pulling him out of a creative rut and ushering in a new era of style and success. The exhibition at the PMA—in collaboration with the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris and the Musée Matisse Nice—is the first one solely dedicated to this pivotal decade in the artist’s career. Prior to the exhibition’s opening to the public, the PMA was in

the midst of a workers’ strike which ended with a union contract on Oct. 17. Including over 100 works ranging from paintings and sculptures to photographs, film clips, and even an illustrated book, Matisse in the 1930s opens a window to the icon’s reformulated artistic process. The exhibition spans across several galleries, each with a different theme. We begin with a prologue titled Interiors and Odalisques: The year is 1917, and Matisse paints the south of France, illuminated by


C U LT U R E soft Mediterranean light and adorned with fashion. He posed the model in his studio to Matisse’s request. Line and design become intricately patterned textiles. This natural- create works where colors and shapes were distinct, and the rhythm between them beistic approach, based on the observation informed not only by the body, but by the comes the subject of the picture. Another of light, space, and figures, dominated his design of the clothing. Woman in Blue, one painting, Le Chant (The Song), was commiswork in the 1920s. But shortly thereafter of his more widely recognized paintings, is sioned for Nelson Rockefeller’s home firehe would find himself adopting a new style a portrait of Lydia Delectorskaya in a bil- place. The figures are animated in a musical which departed from that precedent, find- lowing blue skirt that she made herself at way, and Matisse’s use of jet black paint both ing new ways to correlate subjects knits the composition together with strong visual forms in experand sets off the other tones. imental ways. The concept of dance sureThe next room traces the genly occupies Matisse’s thoughts. esis of the Barnes mural from Enter A Mural in Motion through beginning to end. Its walls are an arched walkway to watch his covered with sketches, composicollaboration with dance troupe tional studies, and photographs Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. The that Matisse used to map out the choreographer of the symphonic task ahead. Here, we begin to ballet Red and Black, inspired by understand the creative process the mural at the Barnes, commisand how it manifests in the work sioned Matisse to do the set and itself. Matisse used pre–colored costumes. The backdrop features cut papers that his models and three arches, just like the original assistants helped him rearrange lunettes, and the dancers’ leoon the mural canvas to plan comtards are dressed with subtle geopositional arrangements, a prometric patterns. cess that would later inspire his The exhibition ends with an epfamous paper cutout collages. ilogue—reflective on process and There is a large painting at the far method—that looks back on the end of the room to demonstrate decade. Matisse stayed in France the scale of the mural—it stands when World War II broke out, renearly 11 feet tall. The section intreating into his studio for a mencludes a film clip of Matisse at tal escape. In ‘41 and ‘42, he priwork in a rented garage in Nice, marily focused on drawing after complete with his dog Raudi frolfacing a health crisis that left him icking around. too physically weak to paint. UltiThe following section highmately, he produced 158 drawings lights the female figure, anchored of two subjects—female models by Matisse’s Large Reclining Nude. and still lifes—organized into 17 Continuing to depart from the sets, each represented by a letter. naturalistic, the dreamy feeling The exhibition displays two comof the mural persists in this paintplete sets. He would begin with ing. Accompanying it is a series of charcoal to learn the motif, and progress photos, taken by Matisse then go in with line drawing, dohimself to document the changes ing so until his emotional investin his work. This section also feament in the subject was exhausttures two types of drawings: chared. coal pieces that utilize a stumping In the depths of World War II, eraser to create tone and record, he had the sets published in a and pure unshadowed ink drawbook, referring to them as Themes ings with no correction possible. and Variations. It was a meta–pedThe gallery titled Working in the agogical exercise, revealing his Studio continues the theme of artmethod to give a look under the ist and model. Here, however, Mahood and into the mechanics of tisse’s subjects are fully clothed, his art—and tying a neat bow on Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art the exhibition. ❋ dressed in modern European chic

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MUSIC

Alex G Creates a World of Intrigue on ‘God Save The Animals’ The artist’s first album made in the studio cements his status as a musical prodigy. BY HALL A ELKHWAD

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fter 12 years of producing his own music, Alex G had high expectations to meet for his first album made in the studio. Alex Giannascoli, who records music under the stage name Alex G, started his music career in his bedroom, uploading songs on Bandcamp. Today, he’s amassed a sizable following among the indie community and has enjoyed his 15 (or so) minutes of fame on TikTok for his 2011 single “Treehouse.” God Save The Animals is Alex G’s most polished album yet. On this record, he plays with religious allusions, moral maxims, and imagery that has listeners wondering if the subject of his hit song “Runner” is a man or a dog. Alex gives most songs minimal lyrics, allowing one core thought to come through and his unrivaled instrumentation to become the focus. The first track on the album, “After All,” gently eases the listener in with the strum of chords on acoustic guitar, then thwarts expectations with Giannascoli’s distorted vocals. The high–pitched vocals border on being grating, but come together to create a cohesive and alluring sound. Here, Alex G introduces the theme of religion with the refrain, “After all / People come and people go away / Yeah, but God, with me, he stayed,” and as such, God stays with us throughout the album. On “No Bitterness,” Alex G finds his stride with straightforward lyrics. The song gets its title from the repetition of three lines: “My teacher is a child / With

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Erin Ma

a big smile / No bitterness.” Alex endears us with his earnestness in this ode to innocence. The star of God Save The Animals is the mid–album single “Blessing.” Here, Alex G shows off his musical prowess with a song that continues to shift and keeps the listener guessing. With “Blessing,” he forsakes the jovial melodies that made him TikTok famous for an edgier, more experimental sound. This track hammers home a wholesome message, “Every day is a blessing,” in an unnerving tone. “Headroom Piano” delivers a moody interlude before the album’s last two tracks. The distorted, indecipherable vocals create a mysterious ambiance that slowly fades into “Miracles.” On this penultimate song, Alex G takes inspiration from the country

genre to create a warm, reflective track in which he ponders starting a family. At this moment, Alex G is at his most sentimental, as he praises “Beautiful sunsets on lost and lonely days.” This track also houses the lyrics which give us the album title, with Alex singing, “Baby, I pray for the children and the sinners and the animals too.” On God Save The Animals, Alex G is at his most refined, but not at the expense of creativity. The album hosts a diversity of sound across songs which are equally wide–ranging in tone. While there’s a strong religious and moral theme on the album, Giannascoli makes no conclusive statements on any one idea. God Save The Animals delivers a hopeful soundtrack for a young adulthood that hasn’t quite eluded its angst. k


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In ‘Dirt Femme,’ Tove Lo Reveals Her True Self The Swede’s first independently released album is unapologetically in love with dance music, and all the better for it. BY DEREK WONG

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ove Lo has been a silent force in pop music for years. The Swedish star expresses her candor through her self–reflective lyrics and her escapism through club–ready beats, giving pop music the breath of fresh air it sorely needs. With Dirt Femme, she has complete creative control for the first time. Released under her newly created label, Pretty Swede, the album plays to Lo's strengths while ensuring that dance music remains the centerpiece. Upon this release, the world can finally see her creative vision at its peak and—more importantly—her true self. The glossy second single, “No One Dies From Love,” kicks off the album with a slick and sexy sound. Pairing a vocoder with hard–hitting synths, Lo asks an ex–lover, “Will [they] remember us / Or are the memories too stained with blood now?” She amplifies this juxtaposition with a throbbing bass line that enters in the second verse, where Lo declares that she’ll “be the first” to die from love. “Suburbia” continues the synthwave soundscape Love aimed to create, taking on a groovy '80s sound. Rather than living in nostalgia, however, the singer is firm with her stance against the white picket fences of suburbia. She chants, “I can't be no Stepford wife.” This song is her rebellion and her mantra in a society full of expectations for women. Tove’s collaborations with SG Lewis are the album’s highlights. She’s always been candid with her sexuality, but “Call On Me” and “Pineapple Slice” tell the listeners that despite her marriage, she's confident in her femininity and womanhood. The former's piercing synths and the latter's dirty bass

line are just the cherry on top. As brilliant as Dirt Femme is, the listening experience is sporadically interrupted by songs that don’t quite belong. Inspired by Bonnie and Clyde, “True Romance” showcases Lo’s sincerity with her love in ballad form. “We are meant to be, I'd die for love and loyalty” she belts with a heart–aching tremor. Yet, its placement in the tracklist leaves something to be desired, disrupting the flow of the previous three dance–heavy songs. A similar issue plagues “I’m to Blame,” which is exquisite on its own. An emulation of a Taylor Swift country–pop song, an acoustic guitar dominates the track, complimenting the lyrics, “Feelings change, winter comes / Now your heart's colder than

stone.” Yet, the tonal change is too drastic for a dance–focused album. Perhaps this song was a way for Tove Lo to create an auditory breather, but the execution misses the mark. In an industry filled with expectations, Lo is defiantly her own from start to finish in Dirt Femme. Not only has she remained consistent with her voice, but she’s fine–tuned her craft, adding new experimentations and collaborating with newer producers. Her honesty about her personal struggles, such as eating disorders in “Grapefruit” and the duality of love in the visualizer for “Cute & Cruel,” completes the experience of the album with a bow on top. May Tove Lo’s creative vision reign free till the end of time. k

Wei–An Jin

NOVEMBER 2022

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FILM & TV

‘Saving Face’ Is the Queer Rom–Com Everybody Should Be Watching

This 2004 romantic comedy deserves a place in the queer canon despite never belonging to it.

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BY CATHERINE SORRENTINO

022 may turn out to be a banner year for queer cinema. Not for melodramatic period dramas starring Harry Styles, but for films that celebrate the joy and the pleasure of community. Bros, the first gay romcom from a major studio, hit theaters last month. Earlier this year, Fire Island was lauded for its portrayal of queer Asian American identity (as well as being hilarious). While it’s exciting to see how mainstream queer romcoms are finding their own identity, I’ve been reflecting a lot on my favorite movie of the genre: the utterly charming, trailblazing, and in–need– of–a–resurgence Saving Face. Saving Face is a 2004 American rom–com that follows a Chinese American mother and daughter, who unbeknownst to the other, are carrying out their own illicit af-

fairs. Wil (Michelle Krusiec) is a talented surgeon, a dutiful daughter who attends weekly matchmaking dinners, and a lesbian secretly carrying out a relationship with flirtatious dancer Vivian. Wil’s widowed mother Hwei–Lan (Joan Chen) has just gotten pregnant and refuses to name the father. Both of them privately worry that their choices will disappoint their family and ostracize them from their tight–knit Chinese community in Queens. Stories of maternal strife have long dominated the tradition of Asian American cinema, from The Joy Luck Club to Everything Everywhere All At Once. This dynamic is frequently derided by Asian American critics for its pitting of East and West, mother and daughter, and tradition and progress against one another.

Sherry Li

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However, Saving Face was light years ahead of the zeitgeist. Writer–director Alice Wu could’ve easily fallen into old and unsatisfying stereotypes about the kind of story she was telling. Unlike many other diaspora narratives, Saving Face is concerned with cultural tension, yet never positions the East and West as irreconcilable binaries. Wil may be uncomfortable falling in love with Vivian, but she’s confident in her sexuality. Hwei–Lan may have a complicated idea of her daughter’s sexuality, but she feels more shame over her own sexual life than Wil’s. Wu insists on the fluidity of tradition and identity. No one and nothing in Saving Face occupies perfectly opposite ends of a spectrum. Perhaps most satisfying, Saving Face just wants its audience to feel good. It’s a sweet, sexy, and very, very funny portrait of love. Alice Wu penned this frank and warmly romantic take on sexuality, community, and the nuances of Chinese immigrant communities and expectations decades before the word “representation” went mainstream. This is what makes Saving Face so quietly revolutionary: its insistence on joy, on happy endings, and love in all forms. The lack of recognition for previous queer films shouldn’t diminish the historic moment we’re living in. But instead of waiting for mainstream studios to catch up to the present, audiences should take a step back and give something new (or new to them, at least) a chance. Saving Face has been here since 2004, and it’s waiting for you to discover it. k


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