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APRIL 28, 2022 FIFTH WEEK VOL. 134, ISSUE 22

UChicago Forward Update Reports Continued Increase in New COVID-19 Cases By SOLANA ADEDOKUN | Senior News Reporter From April 15 to April 21, there were 372 new cases of COVID-19 and 611 close contacts at UChicago, according to an email sent on Friday, April 22, by UChicago Forward. There are 116 students isolating on campus and 135 isolating off campus. Surveillance testing found 72 positive cases between April 14 and April 20, resulting in a 6.28 percent positivity rate. Most of the cases detected via surveillance testing have been among students,

with only three among faculty and staff. The city of Chicago’s seven-day positivity rate has increased from 2.8 percent to 5.1 percent in the past week. UChicago Forward acknowledged the increase in cases and encouraged individuals with potential symptoms of COVID-19 or the flu to stay home and schedule a test through the UChicago Medicine (UCM) MyChart page or to visit the City of Chicago’s website for other places to get tested. The University also

recommended that symptomatic individuals be PCR tested even if they receive a negative antigen test result. In its update, the University reiterated that testing protocols differ depending on whether the person being tested is symptomatic or not. According to UChicago Forward, both the Walker Museum and Gleacher Center are open only for asymptomatic testing, including asymptomatic exposure testing and surveillance testing. Students with symptoms should schedule an appointment online to be seen at UCM’s symptomatic testing facility.

UChicago Forward noted that it will continue to send regular communications on Fridays as needed throughout the quarter. The COVID-19 dashboard will be updated weekly. The State of Illinois has ended the mask mandate for public transportation following the federal lifting of mask mandates for airplanes and other travel. Though these changes have occurred, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the University continue to encourage wearing masks on public transportation.

Good Vibeslations Elected Executive Slate By CASEY KIM | Senior News Reporter

Summer Long; Jefferson Lind; USG Election and Rules Committee Chair Justin Smith and President Allen Abbott announcing results. summer long, jefferson lind, kate mabus

VIEWPOINTS: University’s COVID-19 policies fail students with disabilities. PAGE 13

ARTS: Yeesookyung’s Translated Vase speaks to structures forming and dissolving. PAGE 17

Good Vibeslations was elected Undergraduate Student Government (USG)’s next executive slate on Friday, April 22. Third-year Summer Long will become president and second-year Jefferson Lind will become executive vice president on June 5. The slate, which ran uncontested, received a total of 853 votes from the student body. There were 579 abstentions, while write-in slates received a combined 72 votes. This year’s election marks the first time that the executive slate will be composed of two people rather than three. First-year Ariana Ukaonu, who ran unopposed, was elected vice president of advocacy with 887 total votes. There were 555 abstentions, and write-in candidates received a combined 62 votes.

SPORTS: What is behind the student-athlete hoodies and sweatpants?

Second-year Julia Brestovitskiy was elected vice president of student affairs with a total of 529 votes. Second-year Darya Foroohar received 412 votes. There were 503 abstentions, and writein candidates received a combined 60 votes. Second-year Evelyn Li was elected vice president of campus life with 475 votes. First-year Devin Johnson received 331 votes, and second-year India Hill received 285 votes. There were 364 abstentions, while write-in candidates received a total of 49 votes. College Council (CC) representatives voted 13-1 on Monday that Tyler Okeke would become the next trustee and faculty governance liaison. Previously, Okeke tied with third-year Paul CONTINUED ON PG. 2

GREY CITY: An exploration of Hyde Park’s local jazz scene

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Stacek for 85 votes. The vice president of student organizations will be selected by the chairs of committees focused on recognized student organizations, including the Program Coordinating Council, the Coalition of Academic Teams, the Committee on Recognized Student Organizations, the Student Government Finance Committee, and the Sports Club Fund. Jeffrey Sun was elected CC representative for the Class of 2023. The four other candidates who won were write-

in candidates Hannah Brody, Divya Sharma, Rose Pikman, and Tyler Okeke, whose positions will be confirmed upon their individual acceptances. For the Class of 2024, Connor Lee, Ash Arian, Darya Foroohar, Nina Hafner, and Aman Majmudar will be CC representatives. Aya Hamza, Lisa Raj Singh, Jordyn Flaherty, Devin Johnson, and Chelsea Wu were elected to represent the Class of 2025 for CC. Outgoing USG President Allen Abbott said he is proud of all the candi-

dates and is excited for the future of the organization. “We rebuilt this organization over the past year to create an environment that attracted motivated students wanting to serve and make a meaningful difference,” Abbott said in a statement. “I’m more than confident that everyone elected tonight will grow on the progress we’ve made this year. Everyone will continue to make serious inroads with the administration to address critical policy issues for students, such as the nine-week quarter. They will find new

ways to engage students in their representation. And they will all strive for a better UChicago. I look forward to my remaining month-and-a-half as president and plan to begin an unprecedentedly comprehensive transition between terms to ensure continuity in our advocacy and representation.” A total of 731 first-years, 440 second-years, 229 third-years, 101 fourthyears, and 3 non-degree seeking students cast ballots this year.

Chicago Mock Trial Finishes Runner-Up at Nationals By SABRINA CHANG | Senior News Reporter The UChicago mock trial A team finished runner-up at the 37th American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) National Championship Tournament (NCT), which was held from April 8–10 in Lancaster, PA, at Elizabethtown College. Chicago B also competed at the NCT, making this the second year in a row that both teams earned a bid to the tournament. Mock trial is a competition where students engage in trial simulations with teams from other institutions using a fictional civil or criminal case from the AMTA, which is always based in the imaginary state of Midlands. Each team has attorneys and witnesses, and teams prepare both sides of the case for every competition. “The point of mock trial is not really about whether prosecution or defense wins, it’s about putting on the best case theory, how well you can argue, and how the witnesses can play up the character,” said second-year Anushka Somani, who serves as a witness on the team. Chicago A won their division for the first time in UChicago history with a record of 11–1. They were then handed a tough 2–3 loss by Harvard University in an intense final round. All competitors in the national final round were named “All-Americans,” which is the highest

individual award given. From Chicago B, fourth-year attorney and mock trial program president Roma Shah earned an All-American attorney award; second-year witness and co-captain Juliana Mothersbaugh won an All-American honor. After qualifying for the NCT, the teams only had two weeks to prepare for the official NCT case; this year, it was the State of Midlands v. Jean Riggs, a criminal case on a alleged conspiracy in a police department surrounding embezzlement of money and drugs. Before that, mock trial teams across the nation had spent the year preparing and competing on a different case from the AMTA; this year, the case was the State of Midlands v. Dakota Sutcliffe on an alleged act of aggravated arson. “There is a big difference between having an entire year to prepare a case versus competing against the best teams in the country with only two weeks to do the same,” said Mothersbaugh. Competitions are judged by practicing lawyers, and the AMTA also assigns lawyers to coach each team. The head coach for UChicago was Samuel Jahangir, a litigation associate at the Chicago office of Jenner & Block LLP, along with assistant coaches J. T. Gwozdz and Caroline Veniero. “We’re a very student-driv-

en program, but it is also great to have coaches to consult with when we need advice or more direct help,” said Ellen Guerra, a fourth-year attorney and Vice President of Administration for the program. The teams traveled around the nation competing in invitationals throughout the year, one of which, the Great Chicago Fire Invitational, was hosted by UChicago via Zoom. This tournament is known to be one of the most competitive in the nation, with teams from schools such as Stanford, Yale, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California, Berkeley, in attendance. Chicago A defended home turf, finishing in first place with a record of 7–1. “It can often feel like an individual activity because each person is scored individually on their components. But we always like to stress, as a program, how much of a team activity it really is, and how the performance of one person can affect the entire team’s performance,” Guerra said. Mock trial has been heavily affected by the pandemic in the past two years. This year, the sudden spike in COVID-19 cases in February caused their regional tournaments, the first round of the AMTA national tournament structure, to be moved online. “You don’t get that same immersiveness in the courtroom when you’re sitting in front of the screen

for three hours,” said Ali Alekri, a thirdyear witness and attorney on the team. By mid-March, the Open Round Championship Series (ORCS), the second round of the AMTA tournament structure, was able to be held in person. Both teams traveled to Cedar Rapids, IA, where Chicago A placed second and Chicago B placed third, earning both teams bids to the NCT. “One of the best parts of in-person tournaments is traveling…for ORCS we all stayed in the same hotel and got to do a lot of fun things,” Somani said. “Being able to bond outside of mock allows you to create friendships that are developed in a competitive activity but get to be continued outside of it.” They have also been able to meet and connect with other teams at these competitions, forming friendly rivalries in the process. “It’s a pretty tight-knit circle; people are crazy in the same way. People will usually compete at the same tournaments from the same circuits, and you get to know other teams,” said Ethan Hsi, fourth-year co-captain and attorney. Hsi said that the creativity of UChicago Mock Trial sets them apart from other teams. “A lot of teams rely on a very clean and professional performance. While we also strive to be professional, we’re always, like, a little bit CONTINUED ON PG. 3


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weird.” This was the most successful season in program history, and the team

greatly attributes it to their genuine camaraderie. “One of my favorite things [about the mock trial program] is just how many awesome people I have met,

they’re all people I have learned to love and respect,” Somani said. “I’ve met some of my closest friends and it’s just a really great experience because we have

a very strong friendship.”

2021 AAAS Fellows Share Their Experience in Scientific Research By SABRINA CHANG | Senior News Reporter The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest multidisciplinary society for the sciences and a leading publisher of research. Each year, the AAAS Council elects Fellows for their research and its applications which are deemed significant to science and society. In 2021, nine UChicago professors were named AAAS Fellows. Phoebe A. Rice Biochemistry and molecular biophysics professor Phoebe A. Rice’s research focuses on the fundamentals of biochemical systems, specifically how proteins control DNA and mobile genetic elements. “I think we’ve made a lot of contributions to understanding DNA rearrangement reactions from a very fundamental biochemistry point of view—how they are orchestrated and controlled,” Rice said. “For the DNA rearrangement enzymes, I’m working on now, one of my hopes is that people can use the tools we’re developing to get microbes to make biofuels, which will be very useful to the planet.” Rice prizes the laboratory work involved in her research. “I find [the laboratory work] amazing—it shows the intricacies of how Mother Nature pulls things off,” Rice said. “To some degree, I view it almost as art. It’s showing people how beautiful nature is even at the tiny level.” In the study of protein structures, there has been a recent revolution in artificial intelligence methods. “Within the last year, artificial intelligence methods have gotten very good at looking at enormous databases of protein structures and sequences and then taking a new sequence and guessing the struc-

ture,” Rice said. “We can make predictions that give you testable hypotheses… without even having to lift a pipette.” Amanda Woodward Amanda Woodward, Dean of the Division of the Social Sciences and the William S. Gray Distinguished Service Professor of Psychology, is a founding member of UChicago’s Center for Early Childhood Research. As a developmental psychologist, Woodward studies how infants make sense of other people’s actions and interactions. “Human beings are really intensely social species,” Woodward said. “So understanding who we are as thinkers, reasoners, and learners sort of depends on understanding how we react to the social context.” Woodward’s most highly cited paper was published in 1998; it details her discovery that infants are able to recognize the difference between object and human movements and see the latter as goal-directed. “It established a whole program of research in my lab and also inspired a lot of research around the world,” Woodward said. This was followed by another discovery that babies’ reasoning about other people’s behavior is directly connected with their motor development. Woodward’s lab found that the baby’s own ability to use tools predicted how they were going to reason about other people’s actions and abilities. “During my lifetime, there have been really important discoveries in this field that have shaped what we know about the human mind and its development, so that makes it exciting to be in science and part of that discovery process. That’s what motivates my work,” Woodward

said. Yoav Gilad Professor of Medicine Yoav Gilad focuses on functional genomics, analyzing phenotypes at the molecular level to better understand clinically relevant differences between people. One of the current projects that his lab is working on involves developing a new cell culture model using an in vitro system, which will allow them to characterize environmental interactions with human genomes during early development. “If we’re correct about the potential of this new system, then I believe that it can truly change the amount of insight we can have into patients’ risk and response to medication,” Gilad said. “It can even help with developing new medicine by testing it much more rapidly in the lab before going through testing phases.” Gilad’s interest in this area was largely inspired by his study of olfaction while in pursuit of his doctorate degree. “Through my work on olfaction, I became very interested not just in the different ways that we can smell things, but just in general the relationship between genes, environment, and our phenotypic differences,” Gilad said. “Over the last decade or so, I became interested in how we can use these tools to actually make an impact in the health system and in the clinic.” One of the most significant discoveries made by Gilad and his lab has been in the area of gene regulation and variation, where they produced one of the first maps to track rotary mechanisms. Another significant discovery comes from Gilad’s work in comparative genomics; Gilad and his team established the first panel of chimpanzee stem cells, which

they now freely share with other scientists. “I’m very proud that there are dozens of papers that are not from our lab, but use our cells, the resources that we developed, to really enhance that field,” Gilad said. Michael Coates Michael Coates is a professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy whose research focuses on early vertebrate diversity and evolution. He is most interested in discovering morphology, the origin and form that underlies vertebrate body parts, using fossils to look at the early radiation of modern vertebrate groups. Coates works primarily with fish and collaborates closely with fish labs that look at the developmental biology side of fish. One of Coates’s biggest accomplishments was discovering the earliest limbs with digits in his postdoctoral work. Coates and his colleagues found that the number of digits varied, as opposed to the widely accepted standard number of five digits. Although Coates has made several discoveries and contributions to the field of morphology, he continues to be fascinated by fundamental questions regarding the genetic path to morphology and what this means in the context of how genes and development have changed throughout time, as well as how this process has been shaped by the history of the planet. “It’s clear that there are big, big gaps in the early record of vertebrate life. I’d love to see those filled, and we have gotten better tools for this imaging and making sense of it.” Jeanne C. Marsh Jeanne C. Marsh is the George Herbert Jones Distinguished Service ProfesCONTINUED ON PG. 4


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sor in the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice and the Director of the Center for Health Administration Studies. Marsh’s work focuses on health services research that looks at the integration of health and social services. Currently, Marsh is focusing on the health disparities area; her team is studying the impact of substance abuse treatment on client functioning, specifically in women and children. One of the studies that she is leading is a study in Los Angeles County on the opioid epidemic. They are looking closely at not only gender disparities, but also race and ethnic disparities and how they can help improve access to treatment for these marginalized populations. “I think one hallmark of my work is a sense that we really need to do whatever data collection is necessary to hear directly from the people who are in the real world experiencing these issues,” Marsh said. “It isn’t good enough just to pick up a big data set and run some analysis, it’s really important to get the perspective of the people who are engaged in the process, who may be receiving the services.” One of the most significant parts of Marsh’s research has been becoming increasingly aware of health disparities which stem from broader social inequi-

ties. “Findings from my research show that targeting health and social services to specific client needs significantly improves their health and social functioning,” Marsh said. “I bring a social work perspective to this research indicating that asking clients what health and social services they need—and then providing them—improves client outcome and satisfaction when compared to alternative approaches.” Marsh is also taking part in a new project that involves faculty members from both the Department of Medicine and the Crown Family School. They are primarily interested in health care for the disadvantaged, specifically in Medicare and Medicaid data. “That’s really the exciting part about science, when you can work together with really smart people in the process of discovery, addressing whatever your curiosity might be.” Maria-Luisa Alegre The research of Professor of Medicine Maria-Luisa Alegre focuses on the molecular mechanisms involved in organ transplants. One area is centered around tolerance, while the other is centered on studying the impact of different environmental factors, specifically microbiota. Currently, Alegre and her team are working with mice in the lab to explore

how the immune response is altered by the gut microbiota. Their goal is to answer the question of how the microbiota that colonizes the transplanted organ itself influences the immune response to that organ and the commensals that colonize the organ. They are also working on figuring out what components of the immune system are being awakened to reject the organ when challenges that can threaten tolerance arise, such as severe infections. Her goal for her research ultimately goes back to making an impact in the clinic. “We would like to get to a point where we understand the mechanisms that underlie transplantation tolerance well enough that we could translate that into the clinic and be able to follow and monitor the cells of patients who are transplanted,” Alegre said. Edward Blucher Edward Blucher is a Professor of Physics whose research focuses on particle physics. His studies center around exploring the imbalance that built up in the first millionth of a second or so during the Big Bang. “Almost everything I have been studying is broadly connected by one big physics question, which is trying to better understand what happened early in the universe between matter and

antimatter.” One of Blucher’s most significant discoveries was on symmetry violation. “We were looking for a very particular kind of violation in the way that a kaon decayed. In 1999, we finally found that this symmetry violation existed. It was very exciting because this was the kind of thing that would be needed for the universe to evolve the way it had existed in nature,” Blucher said. Blucher then developed an interest in neutrinos and their role in how the universe evolved to be imbalanced in matter and antimatter, and this is when DUNE was started. DUNE is an experiment that involved about 1,400 physicists from 35 countries. It focused on looking for a violation of this matter and antimatter asymmetry in neutrinos by sending a beam of particles of neutrinos from Fermilab all the way to South Dakota. Blucher is now working on an experiment that is also deep underground in a mine in northern Ontario that is looking at a rare type of nuclear decay. “I think that asking about asymmetry is just a fascinating question, because it’s something that we wouldn’t be here without,” Blucher said. “It’s a question that’s really connected with how matter exists at all.”

New Study Hotel at the University of Chicago to Feature Restaurant, Ballroom and Conference Spaces By NOAH GLASGOW | Senior News Reporter The Study at University of Chicago is in its soft opening phase, accepting guests and event reservations at its 12-story, 167-unit building on the Midway. The property, located beside the Rubenstein Forum at 60th and South Kimbark, features fitness facilities, ballroom and conference spaces, and a tavern-style restaurant that will open by the end of the 2021–22 academic year. This property is the third development from the Study Hotels Brand, a subsidiary of New York–based hospitality firm Hospitality 3 that develops properties adjoining university campuses. The company has

previously opened properties at Yale in 2008 and UPenn-Drexel in 2017, with work on a fourth property underway at Johns Hopkins University. The Study Hotel at University of Chicago was designed by Chicago-based commercial architecture firm Holabird & Root. Paul McGowan, the founder and president of Hospitality 3 and Study Hotels, told The Maroon that the inspiration for the brand first came from visiting colleges with his daughter. He wondered why it was so difficult to find accommodations in “top-tier university markets.”

“We just felt like there was a lot of pentup demand,” McGowan said. He worked with his team to develop a property at Yale that was tailored to the personality and history of a “well-educated, successful” clientele. “We figured out how to make a respectful investment,” McGowan said. His team settled on a theme of “reading, resting, and reflecting” that evokes the academic character of their neighboring institutions. Every room at the Study at University of Chicago boasts a reading chair and ottoman; more than 600 feet of new and used books bought in bulk decorate guest rooms and function spaces. The property’s 167 guest units include

a mixture of individual rooms, suites, and signature “study” units. The study units feature a bath, bedroom, and adjoining alcove furnished with a work desk and bookcase. Apothecary is provided by C.O. Bigelow, and each room is accompanied by a custom seersucker bathrobe. The hotel draws heavily on natural light, with floor-to-ceiling windows at the ends of hallways and rooms that feature prominent views of the University campus, Lake Michigan, and downtown Chicago. The hotel’s conference spaces include one larger “studio” space and four smaller “drafting” spaces, named in line with the CONTINUED ON PG. 5


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hotel’s antique, scholastic branding. These spaces feature full catering and AV capabilities. At full capacity, the conference spaces can collectively accommodate up to 200 guests. Glass windows lend the space an

open feel. The primary ballroom space, on the first floor, features a pop-up vaulted ceiling, a full bar, and two patios. One is a small, landscaped garden on 60th street. A full-service, 85-seat restaurant is expected to open on the hotel’s first floor be-

fore the end of this spring quarter. Evoking British tavern culture and featuring rustic “pub cuisine,” the restaurant hopes to offer University students an alternative eating experience on campus. Dark tiling and antique beams surround the booth and stool

seating options. The restaurant also features a full-service bar. The Study at University of Chicago is currently open for guests and social events.

The Law School Ranks Third, Booth School Ranks First in U.S. News Rankings By TARYN KIM | News Reporter This year, the University of Chicago Law School ranked third in the 2023 U.S. News & World Report Best Law Schools list, while the Booth School of Business tied for first with The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in the 2023 U.S. News & World Report Best Business Schools list. The U.S. News business and law school

rankings are determined by three ranking indicators: a quality assessment, employment placement success, and student selectivity. These indicators take into account peer and professional assessments, employment rates at and shortly after graduation, mean starting salary and bonus, mean admission test scores, mean undergraduate

grade point average, and acceptance rate, among other factors. The Law School’s No. 3 ranking and Booth’s No. 1 ranking both reflect an upward trajectory from their No. 4 and No. 3 respective rankings in 2022. Booth’s rise in ranking can be accredited to an increased average Graduate Management Admission Test score of admitted students and a higher average starting salary from last year. The

last time Booth topped the Best Business Schools list was in 2018, when it was tied for first with Harvard Business School. The Law School has consistently remained in the No. 4 spot since 2020 but overtook Harvard Law School this year. It still remains behind Yale and Stanford Law School, which make up the first and second spot on the 2023 list, respectively.

In Woodlawn, the Chicago Chicken Rescue Is a Refuge for Homeless Birds By ZACHARY LEITER | News Reporter Since 2016, the Chicago Chicken Rescue has been a haven for homeless chickens, ducks, and other birds. Per its website, the organization’s goal is “rescuing hens, ducks, pea fowls and roosters, providing rehabilitation care and finding forever homes for chickens who are neglected, abused or discarded.” The website provides forms to surrender or adopt birds and a link to donate. Vincent Hermosilla and his wife Christina Zelano, who run the rescue, said in an interview with The Maroon that they wished for their organization to remain relatively low profile because they are focused on providing care for their animals. The Chicago Chicken Rescue currently has around 80 animals in a backyard in Woodlawn. There’s a small man-made pond, grassy space, and two large coops. Birds are everywhere. Ducks drink from a kiddie pool, chickens roost and squawk,

a turkey lurks in the background, and a peacock sitting atop a fence watches over the scene. According to the rescue, that peacock is the king of the yard, guarding the other birds from predators; he once killed a raccoon, and he regularly scares off rats and other pests. Birds rarely escape from the yard, and when they do, they never go far. The rescue acknowledged that there have been scattered noise complaints but said that overall, their neighbors “have been amazing.” Caring for chickens and ducks in a residential neighborhood is difficult, the rescue said, though they acknowledged that “if you take care of the birds and you sit down and put the time in, it’s possible.” The rescue’s owners said they spend between $15,000 and $20,000 out of pocket on the rescue each year, and both owners spend 10 or more hours working for the rescue per week. Most of that money goes to feed. The

Chicago Chicken Rescue owner Vincent Hermosilla discusses duck care with UChicago students. zachary leiter chickens are fed a mix of barley, corn, and sunflower seeds, and the ducks eat that feed along with kitchen leftovers. “Every

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Hermosilla said. He recalled a story from his early days operating the rescue. “I had this idealistic image of putting lily pads and water lettuces in the pond,” he said, “and I thought, ‘It’s going to be this beautiful green live pond, right?’ So I got like $200 worth of these beautiful aquatic plants. I was super excited.… I set it all up and I went inside. I come back 10 minutes later, and the ducks had [gotten into] the pond and [eaten] every little bit of lettuce.… They had a wonderful treat.” The Maroon also visited Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC) and spoke with CACC Assistant Director Jenny Schlueter about the Chicago Chicken Rescue and bird care efforts in Chicago. A department of the Chicago City Government, CACC works to “[protect] public safety and [ensure] the humane care of animals through sheltering, pet placement, education, and animal law enforcement.” CACC accepts stray and owner-surrendered animals by appointment from 12–7 p.m. daily. Intake ap-

pointments can be scheduled by phone at (312) 747–1406 or by emailing visitcacc@ cityofchicago.org. Schlueter emphasized the work CACC has done to reform its reputation as a “kill shelter.” In 2019, CACC busted a major cockfighting ring west of Chicago, rescuing 120 or 130 chickens in the process. “Most of the time, roosters and chickens from cockfighting births are just euthanized,” Schlueter said, but—with the help of the Chicken Rescue—CACC fostered or adopted away all of that bust’s birds. For four years running, CACC has euthanized fewer than 10 percent of its animals. Schlueter said that in the last five years, the number of birds turned over to CACC has consistently increased. She attributes the increase largely to the rising popularity of keeping nontraditional pets. Though most of CACC’s birds come from backyard coops, Schlueter said that “some of [the birds come] from cockfighting.… There have been some times where chickens seem like they may have come

off of trucks headed to slaughterhouses.” Schlueter is not concerned that the Chicago Chicken Rescue would inspire unprepared homeowners to try to raise chickens themselves. She expressed gratitude to the rescue for its work to provide for lost and neglected birds and to educate the public about proper animal care. Many of the birds turned over to CACC are taken by the rescue; the remainder of the rescue’s birds come from individuals in the Chicago community who are unable to care for the birds. Schlueter spoke about the popularity of keeping backyard chickens and her advice to prospective bird owners. “I know people’s hearts [are] in the right place,” she said. But she cautioned that caring for chickens or other birds was “messy” and time-consuming. “It can draw flies in the summer, and you have to stay on top of it. Yes, they’re cute and they’re fun to watch, but just like any other pets, do your research first and make sure you’re up for it before you dive in.” Schlueter said that prospective own-

ers should check with their neighbors before getting chickens and stressed the importance of researching bird care. Anyone with questions about owning birds, Schlueter said, should talk to the rescue. “It’s really important to us to maintain really good relationships with our rescue partners,” she said. “We don’t know when we’re going to have a chicken bust or [get a stray chicken]. We can’t anticipate when we’re going to get [birds] that we need help with, and we don’t really have facilities set up to keep them long term. So we can literally just call and text [the Chicago Chicken Rescue] any time, and we know that they’re there to help us.… I can’t say enough good things about our relationship and about what they do.” The owners of the rescue emphasized that though they have sympathy for the birds, they are not activists. “If there’s a bird that’s injured or it’s hurt or it’s hungry or mistreated, we’ll take care of that bird. We’ll give it a good home.” As the rescue said, “We do it for the birds.”

First Homer’s Forum Pitch Competition to Take Place This May By GUSTAVO DELGADO | Senior News Reporter Homer’s Forum is a new pitch competition where students propose and test ideas for actionable change within a non-academic department of the University for the chance to win a $1,000 prize. Fourthyear Joshua McKie founded the program along with the Center for College Student Success. The competition will take place on May 10 at the Cloister Club in Ida Noyes Hall. Teams of up to four students will present their plans to tackle a current campus issue and will be judged by a team of professors and alumni. The competition, which requires teams to have at least one Odyssey Scholar to lead the team, will be accepting registration applications until Tuesday, April 26. This pitch competition will give students the opportunity to have direct communication with University departments like dining, housing, and the Registrar. McKie developed the idea with Pranav Nanga, a 2020 UChicago graduate and pre-

vious Odyssey Scholar. The inspiration for the Homer Forum stemmed from Nanga’s attempt to develop a data-driven solution to improve the quality of the Odyssey program back as an undergrad. One idea he came up with was to create an administrative position specific to the Odyssey program that would bring together various department services to support Odyssey scholars. “[Pranav] graduated during my second year, and he wasn’t able to get the initiative out of the door. I really liked what he was doing and I took all of that passion and sort of transformed it into a vessel I saw as a renewable format for pushing forward Odyssey initiatives,” McKie told The Maroon. While only four students are allowed to present, teams are encouraged to get more people involved behind the scenes. Students who register will be given a pitch guide devised by McKie to help with brainstorming pitch ideas and presentation formatting. “The administration right now wants to

limit it to 12 teams, but that being said, I’m going to argue as hard for pretty much everyone that applies to be admitted,” McKie said. Judges will be grading each pitch on a 10-point scale. After deliberation, whichever pitch has the greatest aggregate score will win. When the winners have been decided, one or more people from the pool of judges will act as a coach in the implementation of the winning team’s solution. “Judges will also be former Odyssey scholars and [I’m] specifically trying to bring in Odyssey scholars that became consultants to help out with that,” said McKie. Among the possible judges is alum Jessica Ilayalith Mora, a well-known activist for first generation, low-income (FGLI) students and author of the book Spread Your Wings and FLI: How to Effectively Navigate College as a First-Generation, Low-Income Student. McKie also shared some possible pitch ideas that he hopes students who are participating in Homer’s Forum will take and run with, some of which were included in

the competition guide. “You know, Pranav had a great idea back then, I think a central Odyssey [Scholars] administrator is necessary and would be very helpful. I also think I reached out to the Swipe Out Hunger folks, as they were really close with their campaign [to donate excess dining hall food to local communities]. I would love to see them make a pitch,” McKie said. “Additionally, if someone can create a cultural center proposal, I would love to see that as well, in all honesty, because that would be a boon on campus.” Despite his upcoming graduation, McKie hopes to continue this program for several years as not only will he be supporting Homer’s Forum remotely post-grad but continuing to work with groups like the Odyssey Scholar Fellows Committee on adopting and furthering the program. All students are encouraged to apply and fill out the application which outlines a proposal summary, the affected department, and the contact information for the team lead (who must be an Odyssey Scholar).


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Stairwells, Sidewalks, and Studios: Hyde Park’s Musical Landscape A firsthand exploration of the musical cultures that surround us and the people that create them. By NICK ROMMEL | Grey City Reporter A jazz jam session is like this: You go, week after week, and start out by watching, sizing up the players to see if you can hang. Maybe not; then you go home and practice. Or you feel that tonight is the night. So after a song winds down and musicians switch, you walk up and take one of their places. In a more traditional jam session, they’ll call a standard (a widely known jazz tune); in an experimental jam, someone will just start playing some vamp (a repetitive groove) right out of their imagination, and everyone will wordlessly agree on a song structure and solo order. When it’s your turn, everyone looks at you. They’re ready to accompany; you leap into the ice-cold water and let your melodies spill into the space… Welcome to the Local Jazz Scene! In Hyde Park and the wider South Side, it pops up in unexpected places: The Silver Room jewelry shop and Connect Gallery art space on 53rd; the laid-back community haunt Norman’s Bistro on 43rd; busy sidewalks in front of Regenstein Library or the United Church of Hyde Park. In summer, the Hyde Park Jazz Festival even holds mini-concerts in back alleys in South Shore. Many of these events aren’t advertised the way concerts or RSO events are on campus, so joining the scene requires some pluck. My friend Otis Gordon has that pluck. He’s a creative jack of all trades, and his dorm room is his workshop. There are electric and acoustic guitars strewn around, a computer setup for electronic music production, boxes of paints and brushes for his art, and a sewing machine for fashion design projects. To be

active in all these worlds, sometimes all he needs is a bit of confident self-promotion. When I asked how he nabbed a gig doing live, improvised art during a jazz show at the arts space Fulton Street Collective, the answer was simple: “I just emailed them.” They liked his work, and Gordon was able to combine his art and music interests in front of an interested, receptive audience. He takes the same approach in Chicago’s jazz scene, which he says is “friendly and tight-knit.” “In Chicago, everybody knows everybody in jazz. You see one combo and you go to another combo, and the musicians are the same,” Gordon elaborated. What might be interpreted as insularity is actually a sign of defiance against the prevailing trend in jazz music to move to New York once you’ve cut your teeth somewhere less important. Chicago musicians stay for a community, not just a scene. I witnessed this firsthand at the weekly jam session at the Connect Gallery on 53rd Street. It’s a group of about 20 musicians in a mostly dark gallery room littered with keyboards, drum sets, a bass, guitars, horns. A young woman freestyle raps, moving as if in a trance. Musicians switch off, giving all a chance to participate in the collective piece. I don’t see the competitive whocan-play-crazier spirit I associate with modern jazz. Someone starts the group off with a riff, often something funky and Stevie Wonder-ish, and others join in, layering their own texture onto the piece. It goes on for 10 or 20 minutes, plenty of time for everyone to tweak their playing in a way that’s just right

for a mass upwelling, a common motion. Only once this energy is established do people take soulful, respectful solos. Some sing or shout along. Between songs, jokes, handshakes, and smokes are shared outside the door. Go about 20 blocks south, and you’ll find the same community spirit in Back Alley Jazz, the Hyde Park Jazz Festival– supported rebirth of the South Side’s alley jam session tradition. In the South Shore neighborhood, these peripheral places turn into little concerts attended by friends and neighbors. The musicians use it as a chance to experiment sonically (vibraphonist Thaddeus Tukes really wanted to duet with a tuba player, an unusual combo). Neighbors use it as a chance to gather, coming and going, kids running around. Everyone squints and sweats in the summer glare. Many of the original 1960s and 70s alley virtuosos, now old and weathered, come to see if their old tradition lives on well. When the Back Alley season ends, the Hyde Park Jazz Festival itself brings crowds of people to the cordoned-off Midway Plaisance. Smoke rising from the fried chicken and taco trucks mixes with the prairie haze of a Chicago September. In golden hour light, wine-sipping students on picnic blankets fan out from the audience’s central nucleus of cool elderly savants in folding chairs. From the stage, live jazz: multi-instrumentalist Coco Elysses’s band creates a velvety, levitating sound that carries her ruminating croon across the audience, singing love, justice, and wit. Drummer Makaya McCraven mixes drifting ambient textures with what could be an A Tribe Called Quest beat, leaving just enough space for delicate harps and

horns to play in the higher registers. Saxophonist Isaiah Collier channels the raw propulsion of blues with his two-drum, two-saxophone band, spinning crazy musical shapes out of the ether in a frenzy of sound. The genre influences—R&B, hip-hop, classical, spoken word—are manifold. And, just like Otis said, musicians reappear in multiple bands. They are versatile, inventive, welcoming, and sound like the South Side. * * * Go back 60 years, and the Chicago blues ruled the South Side, because it was here that Black Southern migrants took to playing the traditional blues, itself the child of old spirituals and field hollers, through distorted, gritty guitar amps. An electric wailing and moaning seemed to grow out of the ground in the 1960s South Side. Though this intense combustion, this mother of just about every rock band that ever existed, blared out of every corner bar and lounge of the South Side, U of C students mostly stayed away from it. But a few couldn’t get enough. In 1960, Elvin Bishop, then a first-year in the College, would go to the stairwell of the “New Dorms”—since torn down and supplanted by the Booth School of Business—and practice blues on his Dobro steel guitar. As he got better and better, fellow New Dorms first-year Nina Helstein would hear the melodies drifting through the building. “I would go sit on the stairwell and listen to him because he was so good,” she remembers as we discuss the time period at her dining room table, years later. Sure, a white college kid playing CONTINUED ON PG. 8


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blues back then was a bit like a suburban high school’s token SoundCloud rapper now, but Elvin took blues seriously. So did Paul Butterfield, a harmonica-playing Hyde Park native that would later form the legendary Paul Butterfield Blues Band with Bishop as guitarist. The same went for Nick Gravenites, a Greek-Chicagoan street hoodlum turned hard-partying UChicago student who later played in psychedelic blues band The Electric Flag. All three were

part of UChicago’s ’60s folk revival subscene that was opposed to bands that, in their view, diluted and commodified America’s diverse folk music traditions. This loose affiliation of undergrad blues aficionados shared the reverence for the music’s masters that was exemplified by the first UChicago Folk Festival, which strove to highlight representatives of living folk traditions, whether they be old ballad-singing Appalachian miners or transplanted Black Mississippians playing the blues in their new Chicago

Wagner Stage at the Hyde Park Jazz Festival. courtesy of marc monaghan / flickr

home. The friends made countless trips to South Side blues clubs—Blue Flame, Checkerboard, Pepper’s—and met the musicians. They jammed with musical neighbors, like the workers at a 57th Street shoe repair shop, and went to “rent parties,” where South Siders needing rent money would enlist a blues band and collect a small cover charge. Bishop and Butterfield in particular started to play together more, and their music stayed faithful to these South Side roots. It also turned out to be very popular, so

the two friends had to move their jam from the stairwell to somewhere more professional—the building’s cloakroom. “And you’d be surprised at how many people could fit in that cloakroom,” Helstein assures me. Paul’s harmonica got bluer and bluer, and Elvin’s every riff and groove brought another admirer to the crowded room. New players bolstered and tightened their sound. It became time to move up again, this time to Ida Noyes, where the Cloister Club CONTINUED ON PG. 9


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to the right of the 59th Street entrance became a dance floor every Wednesday night. Helstein remembers these parties fondly. “They called the nights ‘twist parties.’ Everybody danced, and they were playing and it was packed, it was packed. So that was, I don’t know how to say it, it was very exciting and very fun.” A deep breath. “And I used to love to dance.” Students came twisting, swinging, singing, hopping and breaking into sweat, while Butterfield’s snarling voice commanded it all, spilling out the windows into the muggy Midway night: Train I ride, 16 coaches long, train I ride, 16 coaches long… Got my mojo working, but it just won’t work on you, got my mojo working, but it just won’t work on you…I want to love you so bad but I don’t know what to do. Woke up this mornin’, I looked round for my shoes… You know I got those mean old walkin’ blues. As the coalescing group of bluesmen crisscrossed Chicago from gig to gig, they made a name for themselves, inviting blues legend Howlin’ Wolf’s drummer Sam Lay and bassist Jerome Arnold, as well as suburban guitar virtuoso Mike Bloomfield. They became the house band at Old Town blues club Big John’s, a place where your neighbor at the bar could be “a contract killer, a mad poet, a police informant, an actor, a burglar proud of his profession, a house painter, a photographer, a concert violinist…” as written in the online memoirs of the band’s frequent collaborator Gravenites, who also attributed the bar’s special creative energy to being a place where “Blacks and whites could come together and deal with each other.” Local fame led to an appearance at the Newport Folk Festival, friendship with Bob Dylan, a move to New York City, band lineup changes, and a set at Woodstock. But in their Hyde Park beginnings, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band embodied our neighborhood’s special qualities at the time—the meeting of a thriving Black musical culture and an experience-hungry student body, and

the great music that came out of it. * * * Butterfield’s band moved on, their Chicago friends got old, and one by one, the blues clubs closed. Urban renewal killed the shoe shop with the after-hours jams, the dense lower-to-middle-class housing on 55th Street, the jazz clubs on 63rd Street, the hole-in-the-wall eateries on 53rd that Helstein, Butterfield, and Bishop would hang out in. Some of the neighborhood’s dynamism departed with these spots. And some didn’t. I remember 53rd Street in the warm September evenings of my first year. The dusty street hummed with an energy I’d never felt anywhere else. Aglow and thumping, the revving of pierced mufflers and wheelieing dirt bikes, shouting and frying, boom-bapping boomboxes spun music out of thin air while the sun set lower and dusk gathered. Amid the brick walls and railroad tracks, the patches of yellowing roadside prairie, the sounds now are different, but that raw propulsive rhythm of the city lives on. We know what Chicago is supposed to sound like, and with every sound we make—it’s all music really—we make sure it does. Sometimes that is literally true. Many Detroit DJs in the 1980s had worked in automotive factories, surrounded daily by repetitive, automated sounds. The workday may have been dull, but at night they would use those sounds to create music. Man, subjected to the rhythms of the machines all day, turned the relationship around, and, in the words of pioneer DJ Carl Craig, “put the soul into it.” The machine was now man’s medium, not his master, and Detroit techno was born. Chicago shares Detroit’s industrial past, so the idea of putting the soul into city noise creates similar music here. Sitting in Cobb Café, I learn about our own techno scene from my friend Christian Bird, who is active in it as a DJ. Christian and I lived in the same eerily empty hall in International House during our first year, depopulated by the dorm’s unpopularity and by the consequences of our hallmate’s disciplinary infractions.

Usually quiet, one sound did ring out every time I came back to the dorm: the thumping, skittering sounds of Christian practicing his mixes. I’d pump my fists and hop around as I walked by. The beats of this music are sharp and simple, much like the rhythm of a sputtering car or something you’d unthinkingly tap on a table. But overdriven, layered with melody and noise, they become primal and cathartic. Bird felt “a real profound sense of belonging” when he started going to these shows. “You can literally go up to any person and just say ‘how are you doing?’ and have a great conversation,” he says. The boundaries and pressures of society are blown away by the rhythm coming out of the speakers, and they drown in unifying noise. Raves happen in dark studio apartments, professional clubs, sometimes abandoned buildings, sometimes Washington Park. Bird’s first Chicago show was in a backyard in Pilsen at night. During WHPK’s Pictures and Sounds event, it happened in Connect Gallery on 53rd Street, where I’d seen the collective jazz jam a few months earlier. I went with some friends to see performances by ambient and electronic musicians including Bird himself. We dance together, alone, with strangers, students and non-students that just stumbled across the place. We wind down after energetic “Sounds” and drift to the “Pictures” on the wall, some made by UChicago students. Connect Gallery proprietor Rob McKay fosters this understated, social style of showing a rotating cast of local art. The ad hoc–ness of the place intrigues me, so I speak with Rob about it. I learn that the gallery started as an art fair that converted empty storefronts on 53rd Street into popup exhibits—large (really large) sculpture, a history exhibit about hip-hop, furniture, graffiti. The goal was to put South Side art in the community it came from, in reaction to fancy art shows downtown. Eventually, Rob put the fair’s spirit into a permanent gallery. The walls are all black because “it looks cool,” cracks and blemishes are left unrepaired to maintain an unpre-

tentious vibe, and Rob hangs out here all day, heat cranked up, listening to music and taking care of the space. “Social change through art,” Rob says. The weekly free jazz session, which I had earlier described as an example of Chicago jazz’s collectivity, turns out to be the embodiment of Rob’s philosophy. It started as a rehearsal for bassist Micah Collier’s band, but the players called their friends to jam after the rehearsal, who called their own friends, and so on. It became a word-of-mouth jam session open to musicians of all stripes—a vocoder player comes regularly, Rob throws out the example of a country/western singer, and when I say I play banjo, he tells me to bring it with me next time I come. Adaptation to jazz is not required. Play what you play, and the band will find a way to talk to you, surprising everyone with the translations that emerge. The feeling of these musical walls breaking is a social feeling; I suspect that Rob, who is Black, is inspired by the times he and his friends rode the CTA to parties all over the segregated city as young people, ending up in some Ukrainian Village apartment surrounded by beers and mullets, yet finding human connection through shared love of some song or artwork. It’s like pollen, Rob says. Bee-people come to Connect to gather pollen, artistic inspiration, and carry it with them to wherever else they create. Personal lessons spread as well; Rob draws on the Connect jam to answer musicians’ questions about family relationships. Just like in the jam, everybody in a family plays a part, but has to yield to others in order to form a harmonious whole. But a solo: that’s your time to advocate for yourself, make your thoughts known, and steer the collective project in a direction you choose. Others respond to your ideas and alter their own sound because of them. When the solo ends, you have to settle back into the groove. But its texture has changed, constantly striking compromises between the one and the whole. Art is social change, and everything social can be an art. Music is CONTINUED ON PG. 10


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a medium to get there. * * * When I came to Chicago to start school during the 2020–21 COVID year, I felt like everyone else: desperate to make a friend every chance I had to do anything other than sitting in my room on Zoom. Sometimes the day would break and I would get up with confidence, go through my day, and as the darkness settled, go back to bed, not having spoken to anyone. What opportunity was there? I played guitar in my room, often my favorite song at the time, “One More Dollar” by Gillian Welch: A long time ago I left my home for a job in the fruit trees, but I miss those hills with the windy pines; their song seemed to suit me…

I was playing right before bed when there was a knock on my door. I opened it cautiously and my hallmate Kevin was standing there. “Are you playing guitar?” “Yeah…” “OK.” He walked into my room and said to play a song, so I played some melodramatic country song I had written; he did the dorkiest cartoony dance imaginable, about the furthest thing from the sound of my song I could imagine. Alright. I played the whole song through and we started talking. Just my desk lamp in the evening, him on the chair and me cross-legged on the bed. A couple days later Kevin brought his guitar and we played together, just simple songs that we found chords to online. Mostly Tay-

lor Swift, to be honest, especially “Betty” from the folklore album. I played him some more songs I wrote myself, which I’d been too shy to share before. Since we lived across the hall from one another, we did homework together and I eventually met Kevin’s friend Nick. It was often the three of us then. One night Kevin and I watched Borat before Nick and his friend Fatima came over. It must’ve been around 11 by then, just the desk lamp in the evening again. Nick, usually not a musician, played the one song he knew, and I accompanied him: In a far and distant galaxy Inside my telescope I see A pair of eyes that looks like me He walks and talks and looks like me... We sang upward with our eyes closed, slow and quiet. Our song floated through the ceiling into the sky, high-

er and higher. Wow, Fatima said, this is just… you two with the guitars and the singing, it’s just…there was something in that moment— Time is like a leaf in the wind Either it’s time well spent or time I’ve wasted Don’t waste it. We played a little longer, then packed away the guitars, and they went back to their rooms. The wind blew over the cold, sparkling city. Some ambulance somewhere wailed. The dorm’s humming, mumbling noise enveloped my little room, now dark, lit only by a half moon and a smattering of stars. I looked out at them and listened to the train bell clanging lonesomely as it ran past campus, everything a little closer, a little warmer, a little better than before.

The Stories We Tell Ourselves: Notes From the Folk Festival At the University of Chicago Folk Festival, the true experience is the chatter and banter between and beyond the songs—the lore, histories, and legends that the performers divulge to the audience. By ELI WIZEVICH | Grey City Reporter On an unremarkable February day, a silver-haired Irish musician from South Bend called joHn Kennedy confidently tells me that the fundamental tradition of folk music is that it’s “just part of everyday life.” A hearty yet understated consistency, like an unbuttoned flannel shirt, is one proud attribute of folk music, the genre celebrated at the 62nd Annual University of Chicago Folk Festival. The other is the genre’s broad musical range. A patchwork of performances gracing the festival ranged from “coal-fired” Kentucky bluegrass to traditional Kyrgyz komuz and electrified Chicago blues. On the surface, there is no clear or stable musical connection between these disparate acts. And yet, despite a dearth of unity or mainstream appeal, the genre survives. The UChicago Folk Fest, organized

and run by the Folklore Society—a flannel-wearing, multigenerational group—reaffirmed that folk music is a genre which transcends the rigid limits of music itself. Rather, the life-force of the folk genre lies outside and inbetween the songs. It survives in its self-mythology and tall tales. It’s a genre of recollection and name-dropping and murmurs—a flawed but fitting reflection of the cultures, traditions, lives, and lores of its performers and interpreters. Folk is a Joan Didion genre; it tells itself stories in order to live. I. Music, Muses, and Running Water joHn Kennedy is an economics professor by trade, a bard at heart, and the bandleader and eponymous kitchen owner of Kennedy’s Kitchen, an Irish band from South Bend, Indiana. The troupe of

kind-hearted performers is among the handful of acts who converge on campus early to livestream workshop sessions from Ida Noyes Hall hours before the main evening concert in Mandel Hall. Although there are only a handful of volunteers watching the show, dispersedly dotting the COVID-conscious concert hall, the band is more than content. “It’s like heaven,” Kennedy marvels with sincerity at the acoustics in Ida Noyes, noting that at the very least it’s better than rehearsing in a basement. On the Kennedy’s Kitchen website, Kennedy lists his skills as “vocals, guitar, tin whistle, bouzouki, bodhran, banjo, and embellished stories.” Before strumming his guitar or parting his woodwind-friendly mask to blow on his penny whistle, Kennedy exhibits his tall tale-telling title. Speaking to a phone propped on a music stand in lieu of a functioning camera, Ken-

nedy jokes to the livestream, “If you go to an Irish show—and I hope you do!—and the introductions are not longer than the songs, you can demand your money back.” This must be a real Irish show. Time passes leisurely as Kennedy recounts his musical heritage, dredging up family lore from his grandmother’s two-room cottage in County Donegal with 13 people jammed inside. “There’s no electricity, running water is”—he cups his hands over his mask and projects a lilted shout across the sparsely populated theater—“Brigid, run down to the lake and get some water!” The “embellished stories” that Kennedy divulges before each song legitimizes the songs’ reinterpretations to a new audience every night. They ground the songs in tradition, giving them context and heart, beckoning the listener closer to their original background. CONTINUED ON PG. 11


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“They ground the songs in tradition, giving them context and heart, beckoning the listener closer to their original context.”

Folk is a Joan Didion genre, writes Grey City reporter Eli Wizevich: it tells itself stories in order to live. eli wizevich CONTINUED FROM PG. 10

As a final reminder before the songs commence, Kennedy adds that the renditions are far from what was originally intended. These songs were never written for a band with an electric bass to belt out in concert halls for Facebook livestreams. They were originally performed with the voice alone—sung not for performance but for practical and personal reasons. To

accompany the laundry folder, to synchronize the dishwasher, to comfort the lonely. Sparse and lovely songs to make you feel better and to help you live. When they finally come, the haunting Irish melodies, dripping out of the instruments, are rich, echoing off the muraled walls in the Ida Noyes theater, seemingly just a few notes away from compelling the oil-paint muses and nymphs into fluid

motion. Among the Kennedy’s Kitchen– branded kazoos and shot glasses hawked at the entrance, far away from the crammed cottage and laundry line, these songs still help us feel better and help us live. II. Controlled Chaos and Other Oxymorons It’s 4:50 p.m. on Saturday and David Waldman, a staple in the Folklore Soci-

ety, an esteemed harmonica player, and a respected presence in the remains of the Chicago blues scene, asks me the time. Ten minutes until the blues band’s soundcheck, and Taildragger, the front man, has yet to arrive. Amid the bustle of Mandel Hall, Taildragger’s tardiness barely makes a ripple. On the stage, industrious student volunCONTINUED ON PG. 12


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“Excuse me, are you Martin Lang?” “Whatever’s left of him.” CONTINUED FROM PG. 6

teers hustle with the air of authority that comes from wearing a headset or carrying a clipboard. Some seek out tasks with their hands on their hips, others let their arms hang limp. Cables, cameras, microphones, monitors, lights—plugged, unplugged, arranged, calibrated, rearranged. Beneath the surface, down drafty backstage stairs and through unmarked doors, artists mingle in the basement green room. Room is a generous term—one side of the narrow hall is lined with wooden armchairs and a sofa; the other is populated with tea and coffee samovars on folding tables and Diet Pepsi in an old white fridge. On the far side from the stairs, artists sit in cinder block dressing rooms and wait their turn to lumber back up the breezy stairs and to burst into the spotlight. But for the moment, Taildragger is AWOL. Months prior, when the time came for the club to find a blues act for the festival, Waldman presented the Folklore Society with a slate of options. The Folklore folks were soon sold on Taildragger, however, after watching a grainy and surreal VHS recording of Waldman and Taildragger performing together in an old Chicago fish market. Waldman was careful to provide the Folklore Society with a handful of warnings about its chosen act. For one, Taildragger was a gravelly-voiced, finger-pointing vocalist accustomed to smoky and claustrophobic juke joints—not carpeted, cavernous university auditoriums. But Taildragger’s music was hardly the draw for the Folklore Society. Swirling legends and controversies have surrounded Taildragger for decades, inflating his presence and mythology in the minds of the students. To his credit, Waldman tactfully disclosed Taildragger’s darkest lore. In 1993, Taildragger was convicted of second-degree murder after shooting and killing fellow blues musician Boston Blackies in alleged self-defense. The collective memory of the event, formed by Waldman’s recollections, news reports, and other hemming and hawing rememberers, is decidedly hazy. There may have been disputes over money. There may have been deeper per-

sonal tension. Boston Blackie may have rushed at Taildragger with a knife. The truth is somewhere amid the uncertainty, obscured by decades of rumors and exaggeration. What is certain is that Taildragger served 17 months and three days of a four-year sentence in prison and is now under contract to perform at Mandel Hall. Somewhere else, some other time ago, back down that same unreliable road which passes by definite memory, James Yancy Jones was renamed “Taildragger.” By most accounts, the legendary Howlin’ Wolf bestowed his young protégé with the moniker for his trackrecord of tardiness. Back in the present, as his crack backing band—handpicked by Waldman and nicknamed “the All-Stars” for the gig—mills around the green room, the octogenarian Taildragger continues to live up to his name. Pulled away from the controlled chaos within Mandel Hall, I find myself with Waldman on the cold corner of 57th Street and University Avenue, frantically looking up and down the streets, peering into each passing car, calling his phone repeatedly and leaving tense messages. “Taildragger,” Waldman inquires, “how and where are you?” After making unsteady visual contact with Taildragger, Waldman and I rush to the middle of the road, flailing our arms frantically, flagging down a swerving sedan. Eventually, Taildragger and his three-woman entourage pull over in front of the Reynolds Club. Taildragger folds himself out of the car, pops the trunk, and tells me to grab his CDs. I don’t give it a second thought. His presence is imposing, almost biblical, and the seas of mulling volunteers part as he passes through the lobby. He wears a long black leather trench coat with fur lapels, black snakeskin boots, a black Colonel Sanders string bow tie, and a wide-brimmed black cowboy hat pulled down low over his brow. He walks slowly, leaning on a black cane, and he is silent as he walks. “Have no fear,” Waldman announces to the other artists and scattered volunteers as we reach the green room, “the Taildragger is here!” Taildragger nods and sits down.

As a volunteer-slash-reporter myself, I spend some more time keeping busy and keeping up the appearance of being busy before bumping into Martin Lang, Taildragger’s harmonica player. He’s coming inside from a smoke in his leather jacket and cap, clutching a worn leather satchel stuffed with harmonicas, mics, and cables. “Excuse me, are you Martin Lang?” “Whatever’s left of him.” Tucked in the corner of the backstage stairs, Lang’s remains relate to me tales of days of yore, when he was a philosophy undergraduate at UChicago. “If anyone tells you that you can’t have fun at the U of C…” He trails off verbally, recalling the inflection point of his professional life. While walking to the Reg one morning, philosophy tomes tucked under arm, Lang was stopped in his tracks by a beckoning voice from behind—the voice of Waldman, a graduate student at the time. The two blues harpists talked shop, and Waldman demonstrated a superior tongue positioning technique. By the end of the conversation, Waldman had agreed to take Lang under his wing. Lang’s stubbled mouth smirks as he recollects spinning on his heels away from the Reg to hunt his harmonica future. Lang supposedly found his fun and his career at UChicago. The rest is history, or so the story goes. III. Memories, like “Pink Lipstick on a Lit Cigarette” Your average Folk Fest attendee is oblivious to this bulging yet managed chaos in the bowels of Mandel Hall. Come showtime, the spectator enters a shadowy and ornate cathedral to song and performance. All is calm and the lights are dim. Then the doors crack like a snare and the bagpipes with a Highland shriek cut through the din. Saturday night at the Folk Fest officially begins with a no-frills Illinois Old Time group—an unassuming troika of Chirps Smith on fiddle, Fred Campeau on banjo, and Steve Rosen on guitar. A spry Dorothy Kent step-dances by their side every few songs, adding a percussive flair to the strings. Step dancer or not, the songs are thoroughly incomplete without Smith’s deadpan introductions of their carnivalesque

beginnings. Smith relates the origin story of one “fun little tune” by the name of “Wolf Creek,” which he learned from Harvey—“everybody called him Pappy”—Taylor, who himself learned from Joe Dixon, a fiddler for a traveling circus in the year of who knows when. In Smith’s musical lineage, to play a song without its introduction and history is to play a soulless collection of notes and rhymes out of context, removed from the tradition that gives each tune its enduring worth and relevance. As the understated Old Time music fades into memories, Taildragger, clutching his cane, makes his way to centerstage before sighing into an out-of-place wooden chair. “Now don’t make fun of me,” he quips to the audience. “If you keep on living, one day you’re gonna take a seat too.” Yet the elder bluesman at times heaves himself out of the chair and tilts towards the audience. Hat pulled low and microphone coiled in the one hand, Taildragger waggles his finger at the crowd and shakes his hips in coordination with the electrified blues howls of the All-Stars. His voice is a rough growl and rattles with the blood of many things, among them, the blues. As spectators turn to dancers in the aisles, swaying with the stomping rhythm section, I catch his approving nod. By the time the set is slated to end, Taildragger is just settling into his groove. But a series of frantic behind-the-curtain gestures, relayed between volunteers, culminating in Lang slashing a pointer finger across his throat, finally convinces Taildragger to take a bow. As the all-white All-Stars break down their equipment, Taildragger, traveling light, moseys back down the stairs. Various anonymous stagehands and hangers-on compliment his performance, and his mouth turns up at the corners as he mumbles vague thanks. I tail Taildragger down to the emptied out green room. We space out and sit silently on sofas as overhead speakers transmit a tinny rendition of Kennedy’s Kitchen’s act. And we’re couched in silence and surreality as the All-Stars and their kith and kin trickle down to grab Diet Pepsi from the CONTINUED ON PG.13


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“In the bright stage lights I watch his cowboy hat silhouette watch the final act of the 62nd Folk Fest commence.” CONTINUED FROM PG. 12

fridge and reach the mellow verdict that the set was not all that bad despite a few hiccups. The stoic bluesman remains draped on a small wooden chair like some feudal lord, surveying those of us milling about, until he is prodded into conversation by his band and Waldman. The performativity of the conversation in the basement equals the raunchy renditions of blues standards on the stage minutes before. A member of the posse need only drop a name to launch a story. What about that freckle-faced woman who had a child with Hubert Sumlin? Is Bowtie still alive? Wasn’t Eddie Taylor really something? Then there’s Rockin’ Johnny Burgin and Jimmy Burns and Jimmy Reed. These are names connected by a vague semblance of community formed in rundown, burned-out blues joints on the South and West sides. Anecdotes linked by a collection of riffs and chord progressions ingrained into every guitarist’s fingertips. Vignettes of outrage and laughter brought up by fragments of phrases and memoires like “pink lipstick on a lit cigarette.” Just as they trickled in, the pack of blues enthusiasts trickles out once again, and I’m left alone with Taildragger. In the

spirit of Sonny Boy Williamson II singing, “don’t start me talkin, I’ll tell everything I know,” Taildragger lets his tall tales stretch on for hours. Tales about driving a fish truck between Mississippi and Chicago. About being drugged at a joint on the corner of Roosevelt Road and Western Avenue and blacking out and getting behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler only to crash into an El-overpass support and breaking all his toes and needing a new spleen and having tubes in every bodily orifice (“I had tubes everywhere, man!”). About learning how to blacksmith and operate any kind of heavy machinery. About being better known and better treated in Europe but having to pay through the nose for beer in Norway. About how pricey booze is liable to drive bootlegging. About how he did a little bootlegging on the side on that Mississippi-Chicago route back in the day. Somewhere in the web and framework of stories passed between Taildragger, his posse, and me, their captive audience, is the truth. But amid the exaggerations and embellishments which demarcate the boundaries of folklore, the truth has little relevance. IV. Waltzes and Goodbyes

When the time has come to part ways, Taildragger takes a bottle of “medicine” wrapped in a trash bag out of his coat pocket, knocks back a swig, and leverages himself up on his cane. We shake hands and head back up the backstage stairs. He lingers for a moment behind the curtain, and in the bright stage lights I watch his cowboy hat silhouette watch the final act of the 62nd Folk Fest commence. Lone Piñon is a New Mexican orquesta típica composed of four young and soft-spoken performers, bundled for the cold with riotous fur hats and long woolen coats. But their youth is hardly an impediment to their folksy disposition and reverence for introductions rivaling the songs themselves. Introducing one storied tune, fiddler Jordan Wax wryly recalls a second-hand account from his mentor, who in turn learned from a real tough nut born in the 1890s. Any error, he recalls hearing, would be corrected with a strike to the head with a fiddle bow: “That’s how you learn.” During a plaintive desert waltz, we, the beaming backstage onlookers, pair off into couples and dance, spinning in the corners of the stage. Up above in the balconies and down in the aisles the crowd waltzes along, as waves of Spanish vocals and weeping

fiddles splash against us. The string band plays, and the nighttime stretches into the stars. After the waltz, Lone Piñon plays a rousing polka, and the two feverish fiddles fly and buzz in dissonance and unity. No, this isn’t a saccharine, sappy band for lost souls and romantics—not only, at any rate. This is music for those who live—and with that life, love and hate and cry and laugh and lie and exaggerate and dance, by God, dance, like firecrackers jumping and whistling and yelping like desert jackrabbits and like holy bonfires burning steadily into the February night. That long night and day, something essential and internal feels satiated with the stories we tell ourselves for soulful nourishment. As Lone Piñon is beckoned back on stage for an encore, I think about dancing and music. I think about the stores and performers—in misty Appalachian foothills, in Cajun dance halls, in Southside dive bars, in post-Soviet republics, in rural Illinois barns, in the southwestern desert, in two-room cottages in coastal Ireland. And I think about Martin Lang, and I think about spinning on my heels away from the Reg, and I think about not looking back.

VIEWPOINTS

The University Must Design Pandemic Policies That Work for Everyone UChicago’s current COVID-19 policies regarding disability accommodations are inadequate, ableist, and lack the transparency needed to assess the validity of their claims. By GALEN TSONGAS

Over the past few weeks,

UChicago has rolled back its mask mandate, shifted testing to a voluntary model, and rein-

stated inter-dorm guest signin. The small, persistent relics of a pandemic—double-check-

ing your pockets at the door for a mask and walking across campus to the Quad to spend

several minutes hunched over a plastic tube—have vanished, CONTINUED ON PG. 14


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“While the University frames masking as a question of choice or opinion, this isn’t about choice or opinion at all; for many of us, it’s about life and death—a matter of protecting ourselves and our vulnerable loved ones.” CONTINUED FROM PG. 13

replaced by warmer weather, greener leaves, and total abandon. It’s easy, now more than ever, to forget about COVID-19 altogether. For the most vulnerable members of our community, though, it’s impossible to forget about COVID-19. And that makes the University’s approach to COVID-19 surveillance and management deeply reckless. As a university committed to welcoming all people—including people with disabilities—the University’s policies regarding disability accommodations need complete reconstruction to fulfill the University’s professed commitment to accessibility, equity, and inclusivity. UChica-

go’s current COVID-19 policies regarding disability accommodation are inadequate, ableist, and lack the transparency needed to assess the validity of their claims. The most drastic change on campus has been the masking policy. While the mask mandate has only recently been lifted, ineffectual masking policy existed far earlier than March. Masks only work if worn properly by everyone; I’ve never been in a class where masks are properly fitted or even worn for the full time period since students eat and drink in class. Several weeks ago, UChicago granted students and staff permission to take off their masks to talk based on guidelines

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from “medical professionals.” Now, the University has eliminated the indoor mask mandate altogether, even for unvaccinated individuals. Despite rising case numbers, masking policy remains lax, and UChicago Forward has opted to discontinue its weekly updates, electing to blame the increase in campus cases on individuals who come to campus sick, despite the fact that we know masks prevent the spread of transmissible diseases. While the University frames masking as a question of choice or opinion, this isn’t about choice or opinion at all; for many of us, it’s about life and death—a matter of protecting ourselves and our vulnerable loved ones. It’s absolutely disgusting that our obligation to protect our own health—and the health of those we care for—is reduced to a preference, as if wearing masks is somehow comparable to choosing to wear a jacket on a brisk spring morning. In one statement on the Student Disability Services’ (SDS) Remote Learning Healthcare Questionnaire, SDS writes that “according to the assessment of UChicago Medicine epidemiologists and Facilities Services, the risk of the virus spreading in classroom spaces is extremely low due to the current masking requirements, institutional vaccination requirements, enhanced cleaning protocols, and the functionality of our HVAC systems.” There was no reassessment of masking policy after spring break despite hundreds of students returning from domestic and international travels. The reality is that transmission risk has not

decreased—the only thing that has is the threshold for what “risk” entails. I’m thrilled that cases have decreased in Chicago, but actively reducing proven measures is dangerous and threatens to undo the progress we’ve made, putting the lives of disabled and vulnerable community members at risk in the process. Focusing only on hospitalizations minimizes actual transmission risk and lags behind actual transmission. This keeps no one safe, and if the University is following these guidelines, then, when a surge occurs, we are in for a very rough time due to inadequate and reckless policies and protections. Eliminating masks signals that the University does not care about disabled community members and is willing to sacrifice them so that some semblance of normalcy can be attained by non-disabled people. The burden of responsibility is now on disabled people and individuals to wear masks just like it was at the very beginning of the pandemic, which turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. One needs look no further than the language used by SDS in their Remote Learning Health Questionnaire to get a fairly comprehensive grasp of the University’s priorities: convenience first and medical wellbeing second. Here’s a short sampling of some of the questionnaire’s most egregious questions: “[P]lease respond to the questions below if, in your medical opinion, in-person learning will pose a medical risk to your patient. Your assessment and recommendations should

take into consideration the student’s vaccine status as well as the university’s vaccine mandate (with >90% vaccinated campus population) and safety measures. “Provide an assessment of the disability-related barriers to in-person learning which necessitate remote learning (rather than being a preferred, beneficial or optimal option). “Describe the health risks for being on campus factoring in the student’s vaccine status as well as the University’s vaccine mandate (with >90% vaccinated campus population).” Why is a form asking for a medical dispensation framed in such a leading way? Why shouldn’t an optimal option to protect a disabled student be an appropriate reason for accommodation? This question in particular emphasizes that current accommodation policy is suboptimal by definition. If remote learning is optimal, then anything in-person is suboptimal, which emphasizes how little the University really cares about its disabled students. From a university that is engaged in social scientific work, this form is highly problematic as it is a thinly veiled refutation of a physician’s medical opinion a priori, rooted in the University’s arrogance and data that the public has no access to. When the University is willing to eliminate proven safety measures, this accommodation form becomes criminal when it essentially asks disabled students to acquire accommodations (that are often hard to acquire) or come to class where no protections are CONTINUED ON PG. 15


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“Our disabled communities are once again thrown under the bus to accommodate the convenience of non-disabled people because the virus is now ‘just something we are going to have to live with.’” CONTINUED FROM PG. 14

provided for them. For some, this may be a death sentence. Has the University considered this, and have they considered how eliminating masks will impact the disabled university community? Lastly, this form applies only to students and specifically those with access to medical professionals who believe them. But students who live with immunocompromised families have no ability to receive accommodations. When I asked the University why I could not receive accommodations to protect the life of my partner, I was only told that there is no policy in place. I have received no satisfactory answer outside of, essentially, “just because.” This is despite the fact that the University has the ability to allow remote options, and—after the early February snowstorm—gave instructors permission to go remote. Offers for remote learning are easy to provide and protect vulnerable populations, but the University’s arrogance and ableist stance is preventing this option. With a mask mandate ending, my partner’s life and those of other vulnerable

community members are actively being threatened. Proper masks and vaccines are effective. But we are dealing with a virus that mutates every few months, becoming more transmissible and continuing to cause long term disabilities. It is still a threat to immunocompromised people, vaccinated or not. At the very least, we shouldn’t eliminate proven safety measures that save lives. This is an unnecessary risk, and eliminating masking indoors is reckless. In a time when governors are now removing mask mandates, our disabled communities are once again thrown under the bus to accommodate the convenience of non-disabled people because the virus is now “just something we are going to have to live with.” Disabled people are put more at risk when we do less to protect each other. The University is unwilling to protect vulnerable people, and its stance is disgustingly ableist. Disability should be believed and accommodated without question. The SDS accommodation form should not be phrased in such a leading way or set up to exclude optimal accommodations. This ableist

form prevents accommodations that would protect disabled people and should be scrutinized and rewritten in line with disability justice. In an ideal world, when asked for accommodation to protect vulnerable families or ourselves, without an often hard to acquire medical diagnosis, the University should take that request at face value in order to protect those who need accommodation— any thing less perpetuates ableist harm and inequality. Eliminating masks with a form that bars many from acquiring necessary or optimal protections is absolutely callous and reckless. It seems as if the decisions are being made using only a limited definition of disability, one where everyone who needs accommodations is assumed able to get them. This is just not based on any semblance of reality. But what is so vexing about this lack of accommodation is that the University was willing to provide these accommodations at the beginning of the pandemic when non-disabled students were impacted, again at the beginning of the 2022 winter quarter, and again when there was a winter

storm (within 24 hours). When non-disabled people are inconvenienced or put in harm’s way, the University jumps to do everything possible to accommodate them. But when asked to consider how their policies impact disabled people, specifically immunocompromised individuals, we are met with radio silence. This happened even after over 1,000 people signed a petition asking for the University to provide us with their data, while also expressing heartbreaking concern about loved ones that were put in harm’s way because of the University’s stance. Immunocompromised people in particular do not have the luxury of relaxing protections when cases decrease, but the University treats everyone like a monolith, as if they have no underlying conditions and are 100 percent non-disabled, or as if we live on our own without immunocompromised partners and family. Instead of being treated as stakeholders, we’re being gaslit by the University and totally ignored. Lastly, if the legitimate concerns of the University community continue to be ignored and dismissed—and ableism pre-

vails without repercussion or amelioration—we need to rally to protect those who are most vulnerable and put more pressure on the University through media coverage and direct action until the University is held accountable for its ableist stances and rectifies them. I beg any students considering not wearing masks to continue to do so in order to protect others around you. I would also ask that instructors and departments resist the mask-optional policy, provide remote options, and require masks inside classrooms to protect lives. Anything less is complicity in an active perpetuation of violence against disabled members of this community. At the end of the day, the University needs to make sure its actions and policies protect everyone, not just non-disabled people. If the University does not, we must pick up the slack and do everything possible to protect disabled community members, even if that means disobeying the University. Galen Tsongas is a Masters candidate in the Committee on International Relations (CIR) program.

Breathe In, Breathe Out The University’s campus-wide demasking policies represent a refreshing return to pre-pandemic norms. By EMMA WEBER & LUKE JOHNSON

In a move that falls firmly in line with recent city- and statewide demasking policies,

students at UChicago are—for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic—free to

interact in most indoor settings entirely maskless. These new policies may seem sudden and

are undeniably controversial, especially given that COVID CONTINUED ON PG. 16


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cases remain relatively high compared to earlier in the pandemic. Yet the Omicron variant is now in rapid retreat; despite a recent uptick in cases at the University, the past few weeks have seen marked declines in COVID positivity and hospitalization rates on campus, across the city, and throughout the nation. Moreover, the UChicago community carries a significantly reduced risk of infection and extremely reduced risk of hospitalization from COVID-19 due to its student and employee COVID-19 vaccination rates of above 97 percent and 98 percent, respectively, and the COVID-19 vaccine booster requirement, which likely has a similar compliance rate (not to mention the developed immunity of those that have already contracted COVID). Unmasking is arguably safer now than at any other time in the pandemic. In fact, the likelihood of dying from COVID-19 as a boosted individual is now less than the likelihood of being killed in a car accident or by an influenza virus. Vaccinated individuals also may be less at risk of developing long COVID symptoms. For as long as the flu vaccine has existed, even the worst flu seasons haven’t warranted mask mandates or restrictions on in-person interaction as extensive as those introduced in response to COVID. With the near-total vaccination of UChicago’s student population, we believe that unmasking will be relatively risk-free and enhance the way students and faculty are able to interact and express themselves. For so much of the

past couple of years, we’ve been interacting with one another behind screens and through pieces of fabric. It is due time we allow ourselves to return to pre-COVID in-person norms, and there’s good reason to believe doing so will be beneficial and relatively safe. There’s a certain amount of privilege in being able to celebrate the implementation of demasking policies. For the most vulnerable members of our community, though—individuals that are chronically ill, immunocompromised, or otherwise more susceptible to COVID-related complications—it’s natural to feel as though demasking poses a threat. This isn’t entirely true; it’s now widely accepted that COVID spreads via aerosols and that most masks that are not of the N95 grade—that is, most of the masks currently in use by students on campus—are less effective than surgical-grade masks at preventing its spread within a closed environment. However, N95 masks—which are much easier to obtain now than earlier in the pandemic— are extremely effective. In fact, one-way masking can be just as effective as a blanket masking mandate, so long as the individuals who choose to don masks wear N95s. As long as individuals susceptible to COVID complications have access to highgrade masks, they’ll be just as safe under a mask-optional policy as a campus-wide mask mandate. It’s crucial, then, that UChicago continue to provide access to high-quality N95 and KN95 masks as it has done for the previous two quarters. Healthy, vaccinated individuals

can unmask without needing to worry about compromising the safety of their healthy, vaccinated peers, and people who are at a higher risk can mitigate that risk by making sure to get booster shots and wearing N95 masks when in unventilated indoor settings. Those worried about the more common complications associated with long COVID can take similar precautions. Moreover, as we enter the spring season, being able to open windows will make masking even more redundant, since ventilation goes a long way in reducing transmission. It’s important to note the arbitrary nature of the University’s prior masking protocol and the resulting lack of adherence to it. Students were allowed to unmask in shared eating spaces, but were they to run in Ratner alone, they would be forced to re-mask, despite not being in close proximity to others. The illogical, often contradictory nature of these rules created confusion and resentment towards them; a short walk around the first floor of the Reg before the mandate was lifted would demonstrate just how widespread the disdain for masking policies were: dozens of students, within inches of each other, with their masks hanging off one ear or around their neck. Even students that did adhere to the mandatory masking protocol likely interacted with others who were less cautious in off-campus spaces—something that’ll occur with increasing frequency following the elimination of Chicago’s citywide mask mandate. Although the masking policies were well-intentioned, enforc-

ing them was an uphill battle from the start. We also can’t ignore the glaring reality that students don’t like wearing masks because they make in-person interactions a lot more cumbersome. Recent experimental research shows that masking can drastically alter how one’s facial expressions are interpreted by others; happy and sad expressions are perceived as more threatening, for instance. Moreover, it is simply much harder to hear and make yourself heard with a piece of cloth covering your mouth, especially for those who are hard-ofhearing and rely on lipreading to better understand people. By making it harder for us to read social cues accurately and communicate effectively, masking impairs our ability to learn, especially in discussion-based classes, and to connect meaningfully with those around us. While it’s no surprise that even healthy, fully-vaccinated individuals still maintain certain reservations about demasking policies, it’s worth noting that major stressors—like a long, protracted pandemic—have given rise to an even more insidious condition: anxiety. The pandemic’s effect on mental health is well-documented as being deeply detrimental, but new studies suggest that anxiety about COVID and COVID itself may be more intimately related than we could’ve imagined. While it’s no surprise that even healthy, fully-vaccinated individuals still maintain certain reservations about demasking policies, it’s worth noting that major stress-

ors—like a long, protracted pandemic—have given rise to an even more insidious condition: anxiety. The pandemic’s effect on mental health is well-documented as being deeply detrimental, but new studies suggest that anxiety about COVID and COVID itself may be more intimately related than we could’ve imagined. A recently published prospective cohort study found that those with higher psychological distress levels at the start of the pandemic were more likely to believe they had contracted COVID, as well as experience more severe symptoms. The results of this research are complex and don’t necessarily draw a super clear connection between worry about COVID-19 to risk and severity of COVID-19 illness, however, we shouldn’t forget the negative impact that excessive worrying and stress can have on our physical health. COVID Stress Syndrome is now a legitimate diagnosis among mental healthcare practitioners. Perhaps it is best avoided with a reasonable analysis of one’s own risk of severe illness and effective ways to most reduce that risk, including, of course, a booster shot (or two). Given the strong protection of boosters and now a plethora of other preventative and treatment options, it seems like the time is right to stop excessive worrying and begin transitioning towards pre-pandemic norms. Doing so will not put others at risk (for those people who want to ensure maximal protection. Emma Weber and Luke Johnson are third-year students in the College.


THE CHICAGO MAROON — APRIL 28, 2022

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ARTS The Mesmeric and Complex Beauty of Yeesookyung’s Translated Vase By JULIAN STERN | Associate Arts Editor Let me tell you about an artwork that, published on a postcard, has hung above my bed for the past six months, an artwork that has reemerged from the archives to be seen at the Smart Museum of Art as part of their recent exhibition Porcelain: Material and Storytelling, an artwork that I find unendingly mesmeric and meaningful in its subtle complexity and its quiet beauty. Let me tell you about Yeesookyung’s Translated Vase (2007). Salvaged from several South Korean kilns, the fragments of pottery that form this piece were discarded by ceramic masters as imperfect replicas of Goryeo (918–1392) celadons and Joseon (1392–1897) white porcelains. With them, the Korean contemporary artist Yeesookyung—perhaps inspired by the Japanese practice of kintsugi or perhaps playing on the homonymic relationship between the Korean words for “crack” and “gold”—created a form beautiful unto itself. Translated Vase sits like a massive tumor on its pedestal, unprotected by glass, bulging out into the space of the gallery. It is in places smooth and convex and delicate like an egg. And in others, around the ribbons of gold which unite the various shards of pottery, it is jagged and splintered. Under a glossy sheen, painted motifs—some animalistic, some foliaceous, some geometric, all blue— intermingle across sections, giving the work a sense of cohesion and oneness, despite its fractal nature. At the mouth, the vessel is closed off; it’s not much of a vessel at all. It was Sunday, two days before the exhibition opened, when I first saw it in the round, my first formal introduction to Yeesookyung and her work. I was lurking about the Smart as part of my gallery attendant duties: observing the installation process, reading a bit from a book I’d brought, occasionally ushering

a student from the lobby to the educational study room. I didn’t even know there was to be a porcelain show. I was under the impression that Bob Thompson: This House Is Mine was to occupy the whole museum. And then I turned a corner of the freshly erected walls and happened upon something entirely unexpected. Two members of the installation committee were hoisting an irregular, protuberant form, all shimmering blue, white, and gold, onto a pedestal. Wu Hung, the adjunct curator of the Smart Museum, entered the room and approached the work. He signaled for the preparators to rotate the sculpture on its pedestal. They did. He took ten or so steps backwards, then stopped. Everything was still. He looked at the work on the pedestal, assessing its orientation in the space. He shifted his weight, regarded the work again. A moment later, reapproaching the pedestal, he gave another signal for the preparators to rotate the sculpture further, only a bit more. Then he did his pensive, backward model-walk again, and this ritual continued for some time, Wu moving ever back and forth as I watched from the corner, entranced. At this first viewing, it was in equal measure the artwork itself and the theatricality of installation that captivated me so. The piece was bigger than my postcard had let on, and in three dimensions, it seemed to possess a certain magnetism—as if Wu was not in a position of power and control, but one of orbit, a mere satellite pulled in and pushed out by some intangible force manifest in the ceramic, epoxy, and gold leaf of Yeesookyung’s creation. Indeed, I too was pulled in. Four days later at around 7 p.m., I found myself again before the piece, this time sharing the gallery with the erstwhile artist in residence at the Smart,

Irene Hsiao. She and I have a casual and bantering familiarity, and it was not long before we were veritably in orbit, on all fours on the pebble-dashed floor, seeking new perspectives from which to view Translated Vase. “These aren’t cracks in the same sense as the other works here have cracks,” I said in reference to the ribbons of gold. “They’re seams, maybe veins—binding as well as breaking.”

But of course Hsiao already knew this. In fact, she has created an artwork inspired by this very notion of coming simultaneously together and apart, inspired by Translated Vase. These are the details, as far as I know them. Hsiao injured her shoulder some months ago in a dance performance. Her physical therapist, she came to know, was a B-boy. She didn’t think much of CONTINUED ON PG. 18

Translated Vase by Yeesookyung. courtesy of smart museum of art


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“Why is the aestheticization of cracking so motivating? Why, when confronted with this translation, was I so compelled to encircle, get closer, crouch down on the floor?” CONTINUED FROM PG. 17

it. Then, in the gallery of the Smart, Translated Vase sparked an idea: a piece about structures forming and dissolving. And who better to collaborate with than a physical therapist–cum–B-boy, a “person with both healing and breaking in him”? And here it is, her piece for your delectation—a palpable sense of disorder just beneath an elegant (perhaps even misleading) surface, bodies intertwining and unwinding, in orbit, in transla-

tion. On the eve of the Porcelain: Material and Storytelling exhibition’s deinstallation, what lingered in my mind was all this movement. Why is the aestheticization of cracking so motivating? Why, when confronted with this translation, was I so compelled to encircle, get closer, crouch down on the floor? And Hsiao to dance? And Wu to model-walk? Things are lost in translation. What is inside the vessel, we can’t know. It’s closed off, lost. Indeed, its status as a

vessel, or several vessels, is lost too. And so is a sense of time, that interplay between old and new. Just as is cultural identity, for is this work Chinese, as we assume of most blue and white porcelain? Japanese, as the reminiscence of kintsugi would have us believe? Or is it Korean? Yes, things are lost. And in this haze of ambiguity, Yeesookyung renders translation and the unknown beautiful. She compels us to treat that which is unidentifiable, that which is lost, with reverence and curiosity, when we might

otherwise have responded with anxiety and fear. Alas, Translated Vase has been hidden away in the archives, awaiting translation into the next exhibition, and I have to rely on my postcard for the time being. But it won’t be too long, this period of absence but a slender sliver of time, a mere ribbon of gold.

SPORTS The Meaning Behind the Student-Athlete Sweatsuit You See Everywhere Athletes wearing sport-specific gray hoodies and sweatpants can be found everywhere around campus. Why do they like the clothes so much? By BLAIR PENN | Sports Reporter It is a common sight to spot student-athletes strolling through the quad sporting gray sweatpants or an athletic hoodie, but less common is non-athletes understanding why they rock these clothes so often. Every varsity athlete on UChicago’s campus received a pair of “grays,” which includes a gray hoodie with their respective sport’s name lettered onto it and a pair of wide-legged gray sweatpants with a white “C” on them. These sweatsuits blatantly distinguish these students as athletes. This year, all student-athletes were also issued a pair of black-and-white Adidas Supernova shoes. To get a sense of how often athletes wear these sweatsuits, The Maroon conducted a survey of 10 members of the Women’s Ath-

letic Association (WAA), a group made up of female varsity athletes on campus who work to promote women’s atletics and facilitate close relations among players. The Maroon found that 75 percent of WAA members surveyed wear their grays one to two times per week, 12.5 percent wear their grays two to three times per week, and 12.5 percent wear their grays less than once a week. Most of the athletes asked on UChicago’s men’s athletic teams also said they tend to wear their grays multiple times per week. Many athletes enjoy wearing these gray sweatsuits because of their comfiness. Kati Heller, a fourth-year forward on the women’s basketball team, stated that she wears her grays so often because “they are literally the most comfortable clothes I own.” Tory

Piuze, a first-year catcher on the softball team, agreed. “They’re definitely my most comfortable sweatpants,” she said. The efficient nature of these clothes is also cited as a reason why student-athletes like them. Grace Hynes, a third-year on the women’s basketball team, said she likes “wearing grays because they are easy…. I wouldn’t say they’re the nicest look, but they are the most convenient.” When asked to choose the part of the outfit they like the most, athletes seemed to favor the gray sweats. “I prefer to wear the sweats more often than the hoodie just because I think the sweatpants are more comfortable,” Piuze said. Ashley Gao, a third-year forward on the women’s basketball team, agreed, stating that she preferred the sweats to the hoodie because they are easier to match with other outfits. “The

sweatshirt’s font and graphic makes it a bit less versatile, and I’d say I have more hoodie sweatshirts that I can rotate through compared to sweats.” Josie Majowka, a first-year forward on the women’s soccer team, had a different reason for disliking the hoodie; she claimed hers shrunk too much in the dryer. “Mine is pretty tight,” she lamented. The black Adidas trainers that go with the athletes’ grays did not seem to be a favorite among WAA athletes. Majowka stated that the Adidas shoes were very uncomfortable. Bella Alfaro had a similar opinion, stating that she is “not a fan” of the shoes and only wears them on team trips when she is required to. Gao had a more positive outlook on the sets of sneakers, saying that “it was cool that all of us could match,” and calling the shoes “a nice addition to our gear haul.” CONTINUED ON PG. 19


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“To many student-athletes, wearing their grays to class is part of their on-campus identities.” CONTINUED FROM PG. 18

She did admit, however, that the black Adidas shoes “are not personally [her] style.” Athletes, then, are usually found rocking their grays with different types of shoes. Majowka usually wears hers with her own sneakers while she works out in the mornings. Hynes stated that the “shoes that look the best [with the sweatpants] are probably some white gym shoes,” but that she has also “seen them in combination with some Uggs, and that doesn’t look too bad either.” Gao prefers to wear “any sort of basic white or light-colored sneaker” with her grays— Jordan Air Force 1s are her shoes of choice. To many student-athletes, wearing their grays to class is part of their on-campus identities. Piuze equates wearing grays “to wearing your favorite band’s t-shirt or your professional sports team’s jersey. When wearing those items, you’re projecting that

you’re a…member of that community.” Arrish Bhandal, first-year forward on the men’s basketball team, felt similarly. He said that he feels “a sense of comfort” when spotting another UChicago athlete in their grays. “Just being a student at this university is far from easy,” he said. “Being a student-athlete here is just a whole other breed… it’s comforting, during difficult times, to know that there are others who share that experience.” Hynes added that “seeing other athletes in their grays is also beneficial in classes where you don’t know anyone. If I see someone wearing their grays, it is an easy way for me to start a conversation and get to know them.” Hynes’ remarks are backed up by the WAA survey. 87.5 percent of WAA athletes surveyed said they are more likely to try to talk to or become friends with someone else in their classes if they see them wearing their grays.

Some athletes feel differently, stating that they often feel judgment from their Non-Athletic Regular Person (NARP) peers about being student-athletes. One athlete who filled out the survey but chose to remain anonymous said that she felt that “the general, automatic assumption is that athletes are less academically fit for the school or were admitted completely through athletics.” Another athlete, who also wanted to remain anonymous, expressed similar qualms. “Especially in classes where I’m the only athlete, I found myself thinking that I shouldn’t wear my hoodie or sweatpants more than once a week… [I don’t] want people to see me just as a student-athlete who got into this school because I can play a sport well.” A student-athlete identity is near and dear to the hearts of many at UChicago. First-year Takeo Prather, an outfielder for

the baseball team, said that he “can’t imagine what not playing a sport competitively would be like.” Athletes constantly wearing their grays around campus may seem silly to some, but to these athletes, the sweatsuits can represent the triumphs and tribulations that come with being a student-athlete at a school like UChicago. These athletes live incredibly hectic schedules which differ from the average UChicago student’s, especially on weekends. UChicago teams, as members of the University Athletic Association conference, for example, fly around the US and are out of town every other Thursday to Sunday during their seasons. To many athletes, the clothes they wear represent the incredible experience shared by this close-knit athletic community that helps bind them together.

With Many New Faces, Cubs’ Roster Looks to Compete in National League Central The North Side franchise is meant to be in a rebuild, but a playoff spot still looks very possible By MARCOS GONZALEZ | Sports Reporter The days of Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, and Kris Bryant on the field for the Cubs are a thing of the past. The core that brought Chicago their first World Series victory in 108 years in 2016 are nothing more than a memory. Anthony Rizzo will enter his first full season as a member of the Yankees. Baez will be on the Detroit Tigers, kicking off the first year of his new six-year deal. Bryant will kick off his Colorado Rockies tenure after a successful stint with the San Francisco Giants. Despite the loss of their three biggest names, the Cubs surprised the baseball world when they dished out over $114 million on 12 major league free agents. This massive free agent class was headlined by

Japanese star Seiya Suzuki, who posted a .317/.433/.639 slash line while blasting 38 home runs for the Hiroshima Carp in 2021. The Cubs’ pitching staff, though it boasts lots of potential, will likely be the team’s weak point. Spending on veteran starter Marcus Stroman certainly strengthened a group that was already headlined by Kyle Hendricks, who received the opening day nod from skipper David Ross. Southpaws Justin Steele and Drew Smyly are also expected to contribute to the starting rotation. After a promising 2021 campaign and 2022 spring training, the Cubs are hoping Steele can provide consistency from the third starter spot. A leap from him would be enormous for this Cubs team and their play-

off chances. Another newcomer, Wade Miley, will be expected to contribute as soon as he is reinstated from the 10-day injured list. The bullpen has even more question marks than the rotation. One of the biggest questions Ross had to answer this spring was who would be closing games for the team in 2022. The team is familiar with Rowan Wick and what he has to offer, but David Robertson and Mychal Givens both have extensive experience closing games. Journeyman Jesse Chavez, initially considered somewhat of a long shot to make the team, could be the dark horse to take the spot after a solid spring showing. So far this season, however, Robertson has gotten the bulk of the Cubs’ save opportunities; Ross, it seems, has chosen to go with experience over potential. The catcher position is one of the few po-

sitions for the Cubs that has very few questions surrounding it. Despite already having a well above-average catcher in Willson Contreras, the Cubs spent big on catcher Yan Gomes. This move will allow Contreras to take a break from catching without taking his bat out of the lineup, thanks to the recent rule change in Major League Baseball that sees the introduction of a universal designated hitter in the 2022 season. The rest of the infield has unbelievable potential, but also presents a lot of risk. Will Frank Schwindel’s success from last season carry over into the new campaign? Will Patrick Wisdom be able to cut down on his strikeouts? Will Andrelton Simmons hit enough to keep his spectacular glove on the field? Will Nick Madrigal be the same player CONTINUED ON PG. 20


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“If things go favorably for the Cubs, fans can expect a fun season. If not, things could go south quickly.” CONTINUED FROM PG. 19

he was for the White Sox before injury ended his season in 2021? If things go favorably for the Cubs, fans can expect a fun season. If not, things could go south quickly. Finally, the Cubs outfield will be what most fans have their eyes on—particularly in right field, where Suzuki should be play-

ing on a daily basis. Suzuki possesses an elite eye at the plate, as well as a strong, powerful swing. Ian Happ is expected to reclaim his spot in the outfield as well, leaving one more spot for either newcomer Clint Frazier or veteran Jason Heyward. Frazier, the former Yankee, impressed many around the organization in spring training, while Heyward’s

contract and glove have kept his roster spot safe for a few seasons. Rafael Ortega also figures to factor into the Cubs’ plans this year, despite a weak spring. The Cubs took an unexpected approach to the offseason, adding more free agents than any other team. However, they are still left with a lot of questions, particularly

from a pitching standpoint. If everything goes right, however, there’s no reason the Cubs couldn’t make the playoffs, which is why I am projecting an 84–78 record for the 2022 season.

CROSSWORD Earth Day By CHRIS JONES, HENRY JOSEPHSON, COOPER KOMATSU, and SIYANDA MOHUTSIWA Across 1. Not quite right 6. ___ favor 9. Drinks like a dog 14. Al ___ (like pasta) 15. It comes after “you” 16. The longest river in France 17. Pwned 19. 404, for one 20. Cleat 21. Airplane seat choice 22. Useful Scrabble letter 23. New York giants? 25. Instagram-based dread 28. What to do if you can’t beat ’em, if you’re a cannibal? 31. Sunrise direction 32. Who said “It’s hard to be humble when you’re as great as I am.” 33. Stone, Watson, or Thompson 34. Namesake of Illinois’ state slogan 36. Step for reducing emissions...or a hint for circled squares 42. Red Line or Green Line 43. Take this when you propose 44. U.F.C. sport 45. Electrophoresis medium 48. ___ salts 50. Games with 20-sided dice, for short 51. Artist Henri 53. Gov’t agency that would support 36-across 55. Cutting edge 56. “Grenade” dropper?

62. Big Bolshevik 63. Flatter 64. Put an ___ 65. Weave a yarn 66. Bourgeois fabric 67. Goat-legged Greek guy 68. Punny contents? 69. Folded (in) Down 1. Pushes + 2. When doubled, Roadrunner’s noise 3. Get it at “?” 4. Sound system 5. Soundstages 6. Walkway 7. Topping for Shake Wednesdays 8. Overnight flight 9. Non-fat 10. Colorful bird 11. Like some Coast Guard rescues 12. Orwell’s hoi polloi 13. Most withered 18. Builds a Fjällbo 24. Awe 25. Many a TikTok dance 26. ___ Miss of the N.C.A.A. 27. Something to drop for emphasis 29. Te ___ (Hyde Park boba store) 30. They’re fishy 33. Before, poetically 35. Modern love? 37. Saharan property 38. Ending with neutr- or Filip-

39. Mischief-maker 40. :-O !!! 41. Rap’s Lil ___ X 45. Takes a stroll 46. Ulysses Grant’s hometown in Illinois 47. Verizon competitor 49. Pond skipper 50. Implement for a muzzleloader

52. Mister, worldwide? 54. Pablo Neruda, por ejemplo 57. Devastate 58. Pac-12 team about 625 miles from the Pacific 59. Help 60. Govern 61. Hurried up