D e c e m b e r 2 0 0 8 , Vo l u m e 5 , I s s u e 3
December 2008 Volume 5, Issue 3
THE TDI INTERVIEW: CHAD GOODRIDGE ‘01
SO, WE’VE ELECTED A BLACK MAN
THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES
TDI sits down with one of Broadway’s fastest rising stars to discuss Being, race, acting, and how they all point back to Dartmouth. by Jamie Berk
Fannie Mae...Merril Lynch...AIG...GM? Not so fast. The prospect of bankruptcy could be the best thing that’s hit the auto industry in years. by Charles Buker
What next? TDI answers your questions and prognosticates on everything from the Cabinet to Congress to California. by Wyatt McKean
The Beijing Olympics were supposed to mark China’s ascendance to superpower status. But did the Games mask the country’s challenges? by Sasha Prokhorova
the issue in brief
D e c e m b e r 2 0 0 8 / Vo l u m e 5 / I s s u e 3
ON THE PREVIOUS PAGE A visitor reads a book outside of a school in Leon, Nicaragua. The city was rocked by violence following October’s elections, in which the right-wing Sandanista party was unseated. Following accusations of voter fraud, riots erupted in the city and a number of liberal radio stations were burned down. Photograph by Olivia Snyder-Spak
COMMENT 7... Chicken Soup for the American Soul By Wyatt McKean
19... The TDI interview: Chad Goodridge ‘01 By Jamie Berk
MUSIC 33... John Legend might want to reconsider the name of his latest album. By David Mainiero
RAMBLINGS 9... Kevin Karp on why the British conservatives are taking cues from Obama; Asafu Suzuki on the scene in Somalia; Josh Mirkin on how America is a technocracy BITS & PIECES 12... Tokio Hotel just needs to go away By Kobi Tirey POINT OF ORDER 14... Dartmouth at a Crossroads By Jamie Berk THE SCHOOLYARD 15... Alexandra Gakos on the Amethyst Initiative; Rebecca Harrington on All-Nighters; Jamie Berk on will.i.am’s trip to the toilet IN DESERTO 18... Crab apples aren’t just for stepping on By Aurora Coon
The Dartmouth Independent, December, 2008 - 4
22... Radical Restructuring By Charles Buker 24... So, We’ve Eleceted A Black Man By Wyatt McKean 29... The Emperor’s New Clothes By Sasha Prokhorova
POETRY 13... Down the Rabbit Hole, or the Post- Baccalaureate Crisis By Brittany Crosby 26... Flat By Emily Mirengoff
33... Breaking: The Turf By Jamie Berk FILM 34... Quantum of Solace: Too much shake, not enough stir By Peter Stein
OTHER DEPARTMENTS 5... Letters to the Editor 36... Around The Ive League
30... Builders, St. Paul’s Cathedral By Olivia Snyder-Spak
FICTION 32... Recess By Emily Mirengoff
Cover by: Frances Himmerhorn Original Photography by: Kelsey Carter, Velizara Passajova, and Olivia Snyder-Spak
just read the article “Don’t Make Me Laugh” by Emily Mirengoff in The Dartmouth Independent online, and I’ve got to say wholeheartedly, bravo! I felt she was honest and fair in showing the faults of both candidates, something which I have not seen or heard ever in a campus publication. I would encourage you to post her article all over the place to make people realize that it’s neither safe nor responsible to wear blinders, no matter who they’re voting for. I wish there were more articles like “Don’t Make Me Laugh” in circulation, not just at Dartmouth but all over the country. well done! I look forward to reading more articles like hers, and props to TDI for including it in this issue! Good for Emily!
I edited badly lo these many years ago, is now the “record keeper.” The only thoughtful, studentrun ideo-political journals, the Phoenix and the Commentary, are rival “conservative” publications—the former being a bit more cogent and the latter more along the lines of Ann Coulter—who don’t present considered opinions of all stripes. It is frustrating for those, like me, who consider an issue—or candidate—individually and not as part of an over-arching ideology that must be served no matter the con-
month’s online issue. I detect that these editorials may have been attempting satire (albeit shoddily). Nevertheless, I found these pieces to be in extremely poor taste, particularly the one directed at Sen. John McCain by “Kevin Castoy Weltmann,” whose name sounds like an illconceived pseudonym. It takes a true coward to mock a hero’s war record and then to hide behind a tattered veil of anonymity. I realize that the election is over and done with, and I congratulate my liberal friends on their “hard-bought” victory. But I still take issue with your insulting treatment of John McCain’s experience as a prisoner of war. Having studied this topic extensively, I can personally attest that Mr. McCain never had his testicles electrocuted with a car battery. I find your inclusion of this detail wholly irresponsible, even if it was intended merely for “comedic effect.” Under no circumstances do I think it is appropriate to refer to a war hero’s genitalia in print, whether in a fictional context or otherwise. I hope that in the future you will consider the sanctity of our veterans’ suffering before spreading such disgusting lies for your own benefit. No one is laughing.
Sonia Schnee ‘09 I was delighted to happen on tdi website this morning. While I’ve not yet had a chance to read all of your offerings, I am impressed with your mission statement—and with the apparent variety of opinion. Although I’ve been away from college for 23 years, I enjoy keeping tabs on college journalism. In so many instances, college publications have either taken unbendable, oft-irrational partisan stances or are mere record-keepers of campus current events. My own alma mater, Wabash, is a case in point. The student weekly, which
sequences. Perhaps TDI might inspire a movement of similar journals on other campuses. Given the sincere feeling in the country for a rational and calm demeanor when considering views—as evidenced in the recent election—you would have a good chance of succeeding in such an expanded mission. G. B. Landrigan Wabash ‘85 Indianapolis, IN I was disappointed to read your opposing “endorsements” for the presidential candidates in last
Stan Larot Colorado College ‘00 Laramie, WY
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Asafu Suzuki EXECUTIVE EDITOR Jamie Berk MANAGING EDITOR Wyatt McKean ASSOCIATE EDITORS Campus: Emily Mirengoff Domestic: Josh Mirkin Interntaional: Kevin Karp Life/Arts: David Mainiero ART DIRECTORS Jihan Ryu, Travis Weyneth CONTRIBUTORS Tara Albanese, Udit Banerjea, Nathan Bruschi, Charles Buker, Joel Butterly, Kelsey Carter, Aurora Coon, Brittany Crosby, Courtney Davis, Mac Elatab, Nathan Empsall, Alexandra Gakos, Renee Gauthier, Rebecca Goldberg, Charlie Grant, David Gusella, Rebecca Harrington, Robert Higdon, David Jackson, John Kee, Evan Lambert, John Lee, Bo Li, Allie Miller, Leanne Mirandilla, Alessandra Necamp, Hillary Wolcott, Velizara Passajova, Kobi Tirey, Sasha Prokhorova, Megan Rosen, Ankush Rustagi, Olivia Snyder-Spak, Stephen Spitz, Peter Stein, Bret Vallacher FACULTY ADVISOR Sonu Bedi The Dartmouth Independent is a student-run cultural and political magazine. Our views span the political spectrum and our opinion articles range from serious features to campus commentary. Our ultimate goal is to provide our readers with the highest quality of journalism and intellectual integrity. The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of Dartmouth College, its administrators, faculty, or any associates thereof. The content of individual articles reflects the opinions of writers.
TDI welcomes letters from our readers of 300 words or less. Submissions should include the author’s full name, class year, and, if relevant, home town or alma mater. Email letters as text only to firstname.lastname@example.org. Attachments will not be opened.
5 - The Dartmouth Independent, December, 2008
OCCOM POND Photograph by Kelsey Carter
COMMENT Wyatt McKean on healing the post-election divide CAMPAIGNS Kevin Karp on how the British conservatives are taking cues from Obama CONFLICT Asafu Suzuki on the Somali civil war that never ended GOVERNMENT Josh Mirkin recategorizes the American government as a technocracy
Chicken Soup for the American Soul Taking November’s lessons to heart By Wyatt McKean
t was a long, bloody fight. The candidates in this year’s presidential election may have managed to keep the race relatively clean and issuefocused, but the scale of the conventional warfare was colossal. Especially on the left, the mobilization of human and financial resources was unprecedented. The media coverage of the roaring struggle and the titanic personalities waging it began earlier than ever. As voters, we have
the right to feel a little hung over. By now, of course, the historic conclusion needs no further description. Scenes from Barack Obama’s seismic victory saturated headlines and airwaves for days after the fact. Those floodwaters have receded. What remains are burning questions about the future of our country and the world. What should we take away from this election? What can we expect from the new order that our leaders-to-be have promised
us? Making anything but the vaguest of predictions would be silly and futile. But the outcome has broadcast some resounding messages to an audience that spans the globe: To the GOP: The world has changed, radically, since 2001. It’s time to own up to the role you played in precipitating the crises that now snap at our heels. You were unseated from power because you offered us nothing substantially different from your past policies; you insulted our intelligence by trying to re-package your disastrous agenda as something new and we didn’t buy it. Don’t think that salvation lies with those rabid, quaking throngs that came out 7 - The Dartmouth Independent, December, 2008
Ramblings in support of your hollow-headed excuse for a vice presidential candidate—that base is shrinking faster than you know. And if there is ever an appropriate time to use trivial “wedge” issues like abortion, gay marriage, and sex education to weasel your way back into power, it is certainly not now. If you can’t win Americans’ favor with a meaningful economic and foreign policy platform, then you don’t deserve to run this country. Rather than falling back on your ruined past, look to the future. While the Democrats won comfortably this time around, they owe their victory to the overwhelming support of independents, not the left-wing rank-and-file. You will not reach these people with stale allusions to Reagan or foaming evangelical rhetoric. It is time to re-tool your ideology for the 21st century. In the mean time, you will be serving a much-deserved term in the minority. Use your time wisely, to regroup and to reorder your priorities. To the Democrats: Don’t let this go to your heads. Your victory was decisive, but it was far from being a mandate. Don’t make the same mistake the Republicans made—if you want to put together a new order in Washington, you will need to do it in an independent-minded, bipartisan manner. Your rule should be fair and respectful of the opposition, and you should govern as if you represent the whole of America, not just the half that elected you. There are two ways to fix the mess left by the Republicans. The first involves swinging the political pendulum to the opposing liberal extreme. The second involves working across party lines to develop a new, intelligent, centrist agenda for the country. The first plan of action merely corrects the problem of your predecessors being conservative, the second addresses their crime of being stupid. You should take the latter course. This might involve making concessions to the right at the expense of upsetting the most radical members of your own ranks. Don’t be afraid to piss off labor if you need to appeal to business owners; don’t worry about upsetting green-bloods if clean coal or nuclear energy look like viable solutions. This isn’t the 1960’s, and socialism is not the solution. What America needs now is a brain, not a heart. Learn to recognize that, and you will win over the moderate The Dartmouth Independent, December, 2008 - 8
independents who may have hesitated to put you in office. To the world: America is not a selfloathing country. Don’t expect us to apologize for the last eight years. Instead, rejoice in knowing that American power is likely to soften, rather than wane, under President Obama.
“This election alone will not heal the country. Obama’s ability to energize such an impressive movement represents an opportunity, not an assurance of success.” George W. Bush was a sad exception among American policymakers, and to write the eulogy of American primacy based on his example alone would be a gross distortion of history and contemporary reality. Hopefully, this election highlights that the American system and way of life are not things to be feared or despised. For all of our foibles, we are a country that works constantly in earnest to re-make itself. Contrary to the criticism hurled our way by the likes of Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, ours is not a government reserved for Anglo-Saxon Protestant good ol’ boys in smoke-filled rooms. In electing a candidate as uniquely global as Barack Obama, we’ve shown that America is, above all, a place where merit and hard work reign supreme over any color or religion. To the American People: This election alone will not heal the country. Obama’s ability to energize such an impressive movement—especially among the rising generation—represents an opportunity, not an assurance of success. With new leadership, we’ll have a remarkable chance to overturn our recent blunders and to repaint our image in the world, but we are guaranteed nothing. We should continue to demand an intelligent, conscientious, and transparent government, and prepare to make sacrifices ourselves. We ought to apply the same level of scrutiny to the Obama Administration as we did their predecessors. True change will come from co-
operation, ingenuity, and concrete action, but more than anything, it will come from a noisy and demanding public. That said, many of Obama’s enunciated positions, particularly on the economic front, may be ill-informed or unsound. Though it is easy to bow to populist, redistributive dogma in times of crisis and turmoil, we should be careful that our approach doesn’t stifle productivity, innovation, or growth. After all, these are the tenets on which American economic prowess has been built; we cannot reclaim our status as a global engine of prosperity without them. We should insist that our new leadership develop an economic agenda that respects our rights to our property and a free and open market. Otherwise, it is unlikely that our loftier plans—like overhauling the energy infrastructure—will succeed. Finally, we need to recognize that a new political era will soon be upon us. The transformative nature of this election comes not just from the remarkable outcome but also from the participants who made it possible. That young voters came out in the largest numbers since the passage of the 26th Amendment shows that a new generation is beginning to take hold of our nation’s direction. Mr. Obama, like the Millenials who backed him, is too young to be tainted by the divisive legacy of the 1960s, and his success signals that America may yet outlive the cynical politics of the Vietnam generation. Older Americans should welcome the end of their own tumultuous epoch; it is critical now that they clear the way for the next wave of leaders. Those of us voting in our first or second election, on the other hand, ought to heed Barack Obama’s calls for reconciliation and bipartisanship, even if the president-elect doesn’t live up to his own words. We need to make it our business not to dismiss the ideas of “Hope” and “Change” as hollow rhetoric. If the rising generation can truly embrace unity and optimism like our parents never did, then we will give those principles the substance and power they deserve.
Change We Can Believe In How the British conservatives are taking cues from Obama By Kevin Karp
lthough reaction in the British House of Commons to the American Presidential election was enthusiastic, the Labour and Conservative parties disagreed on what made Barack Obama’s run successful. Gordon Brown, the Labour leader and Prime Minister, credited Obama’s embrace of progressive politics. Conservative leader David Cameron, however, viewed the election as an indictment on governments that have been in power for too long. On the Wednesday after the election, Cameron used the weekly “Prime Minister’s question time” to tell the Labour Party, “You’ve made your strategic choice – it’s called ‘more of the same,’ and it’s sitting in front of you.” One need no further indication of how far Gordon Brown’s party has plummeted over the last few years, from the glory days of Tony Blair, his predecessor, into the abyss of political chaos. A refusal to call a snap election in October of last year was widely seen as a sign of weakness on his part (Brown must call an election by mid-2010), and as an indication of the Conservatives’ growing strength. Now, in polls of voter intentions, the most recent trackers have the Conservatives with a 12-point lead over their Labour opponents. Since taking over for the embattled Blair in 2007, even Brown’s image as a capable economist has taken a considerable hit. His abolition of the 10% introductory tax rate, which took effect this past spring, is now roundly criticized as a bane to the country’s economy. Brown, who crafted the policy as Chancellor of the Exchequer under Blair, received angry reactions at the time from Labour MP’s who saw it as a threat to their traditional base of voters – the poorest taxpayers in Britain would now have to pay 20% (instead of 10) on their incomes. Now that the consequences of the move can be seen, several Labour MPs have openly voiced their frustration with Brown and raised the possibility of a leadership election. That Brown subsequently fired them is only further proof of
how disunited his party has become. The recent wave of support for the Conservatives, then, has as much to do with the fall of Labour as it does with innovative Conservative policies. The increasing boldness of David Cameron, however, shows that the Conservative Party is making a compelling case to lead Britain’s next government. Having been in the political wilderness for more than a decade, the Conservatives have also undergone a remarkable transformation. The economic and political mishaps of Brown have allowed Cameron to paint the Labour leadership as overly statist, coldly technocratic, and out of touch with the general needs of the British people. Although an admirer of Margaret Thatcher, Cameron has emphasized societal renewal rather than the strict economic efficiency of the Thatcherites. His political philosophy now has some clear direction, which is, “To revive our society, just as Margaret Thatcher revived our economy; to reverse Britain’s social breakdown, just as she reversed our economic breakdown.” What this means is that the modern Conservatives support decentralization, responsible spending, and an emphasis on individual choice in areas such as mayors, schools, and hospitals. In addition to offering a real alternative to the bureaucratic squabbling of Labour, Cameron as Prime Minister could truly revive the “Special Relationship” between the United States and Britain. This long strategic partnership between the two nations has become sour in recent years, as the British public’s disapproval of the Iraq war and their government’s role in it has resulted in the ouster of Blair and a general diplomatic distancing from the US But now that Cameron appears to be Brown’s likely successor, prospects for the partnership are much rosier. History has shown that Anglo-American relations thrive when the two leaders come from different political persuasions – FDR and Churchill charted the course of the Allied effort in World War II, and a young John Kennedy took an instant liking to the older Har-
old MacMillan during his term. William Hague, Cameron’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, has stressed that British foreign policy under a Conservative government would focus on stabilizing the situations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which surely will be continuing American objectives under Obama. Mr. Hague also mentioned that the Conservatives want to have a “solid but not slavish” relationship with Washington. The Conservatives’ steady criticism of the “tax and spend” policies of Labour under Brown and their emphasis on stability will resonate with an American administration looking for solutions to the global financial crisis. If anything, the hobbled Brown government, with its out-of-control spending and rampant borrowing practices, should give Obama pause in attempting a drastic overhaul of the economy in these difficult times. David Cameron’s rhetoric contains the pragmatism that Obama should strive for: “We promise no new dawns, no incredible transformations. I’m a man with a plan, not a miracle cure.” It is amazing how much the American President-elect and the presumptive future Prime Minister of Britain have reflected each other. Like Obama, Cameron is young (he is 41), eloquent, and very welleducated (he earned first-class honors at Oxford). As Obama has transformed himself from a politician with relatively little experience into a President with a mandate for “change,” Cameron has quelled discontent over the Conservatives’ “policylite” attitude and developed the political philosophy now called “Cameronism,” all while calling for a “change in direction” in Britain. According to most polls, the Conservative Party, not Labour, is seen as the representative of “change” in the mind of the public. Cameron’s new politics of social renewal and economic restraint should serve as a wake-up call to Republicans in the United States looking for direction in their own party. A Cameron victory in Britain would not only assure Americans of a deepening strategic alliance, but it would also indicate the possibility for conservative parties to reinvent themselves in a most triumphant fashion.
9 - The Dartmouth Independent, December, 2008
Black Hawk Still Down The Somali civil war that never ended By Asafu Suzuki
n August 1993, American special forces in Somalia launched Operation Gothic Snake, a mission that ended in the bloody Battle of Mogadishu two months later. Eighteen soldiers were lost in the fight, and the reverberations from the failed operation precipitated an end to post-Cold War American interventionism. Our troops, it was argued, were not meant to be deployed halfway around the world to keep the peace in quagmires that pose little threat to American interests. Less than a year later, the US stood on the sideline while the Hutus slaughtered the Tutsis in Rwanda. This hesitancy to commit ground troops to humanitarian missions persists today. Fifteen years after the events depicted in “Black Hawk Down,” Somalia is still gripped by chaos. Progress from humanitarian operations has been nearly undone, and existing aid efforts are hindered by piracy and a general cycle of violence. The mortality rate and risk of infectious disease remain high, and the number of internally displaced people is estimated at 1.1 million. The root cause of the suffering—and the reason for the humanitarian missions of the 90s—is the Somali civil war. Somalia, according to Paul Collier, the author of The Bottom Billion, has fallen into “The Conflict Trap,” a state in which poverty, slow economic growth, and a reliance on primary commodities make a country likely to face constant The Dartmouth Independent, December, 2008 - 10
turmoil. The war has been going on since 1988, and the clan-based struggle shows no signs of slowing. Though different groups have claimed power over the years, no government has been able to exert full sovereignty over the entire country. Most recently, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) succeeded in removing the Islamic Courts Union (ICU)—a group of Sharia courts— from Mogadishu with Ethiopia’s backing. The ICU, however, remains strong in Southern Somalia and continues to encourage foreign mujahideen fighters to participate in its insurgency against the TFG. Many members of the ICU are on the US’s terrorist list. Some of them have ties to al-Qaeda and are believed to have financed or participated in the 1998 US Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. Despite relatively little media coverage, Somalia is a key front in the War on Terror. Its status as a non-terrorist state is crucial to stability in the Horn of Africa. Correspondingly, the US, through aerial strikes and naval patrols, supports the TFG against the Islamic insurgency headed by the ICU. It’s difficult to make an assessment of the US’s effectiveness so far. An American air strike that earlier this year killed one of al-Qaeda’s ICU leaders seemed to have little effect on the insurgency. As long as al-Qaeda presence in the region is confirmed, the stakes seem too high for the US to roll back its involvement. But with
operations in Iraq and Afghanistan still going strong, the U.S will find such an option tempting—a stronger presence in Somalia, after all, risks overstretch. Additionally, a more concerted US effort in Somalia could fuel the insurgency and further destabilize the country. US military presence in Somalia was never popular on the ground: people in the region were angry with the US even during the UN’s humanitarian effort. With the failure of the United Nations Operation in Somalia II (UNOSOM II) to disarm the warlords in Mogadishu, the people of the city started supporting those warlords. One need only look at the famous images of a dead US soldier being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu in 1993 to realize that our presence risks engendering resistance from those we’re trying to help.Somalia is a tragic case. The country has known nothing but anarchy for close to twenty years, and the population has suffered immensely for it. The cycle of poverty and violence makes it ripe for terrorist influence, and under such conditions, large-scale humanitarian intervention is necessary to stabilize the nation. Since past humanitarian efforts in the region have been stymied by the violent resistance to them, any intervening party must ensure that there is sufficient resolve, military backup, and enforcement. But a solely American initiative seems unlikely. The Bush administration, having embraced international institutions only when they were conducive to US interests, has given the world reason to be suspicious every time the US seeks to exert force abroad. The American people have rarely been enthusiastic about sending their fellow citizens into harms way, especially when their own country is facing serious domestic issues. The state of the economy makes a substantial commitment of resources even less feasible. To overcome these difficulties, the US should utilize international organizations and share the monetary and logistical burdens of peacekeeping. If it can convince some other countries to commit ground troops and the UN to pass a Chapter VII Peace Enforcement Resolution, the US could transfer some of the costs of intervention to other nations while devoting its own military resources to pursuing terrorist elements in Somalia. Somalia is a significant front in the War on Terror. The US must find ways, though, to address it without spending more than it already is. The million-dollar question for the US in Somalia, then, is not whether to increase its involvement, but how to get maximum effectiveness out of minimal resources.
he Technocrats: Dartmouth’s new, all-Techno a cappella group or just another catchy headline for a pedantic article? Unfortunately, it is more the latter; although if anyone feels like starting a Techno a cappella group, I would be your biggest fan. But I digress. Every so often, in a politically-charged conversation with friends, someone will always point out, “The United States isn’t a democracy, it’s a representative democracy,” as if no one else in the room realizes that they are neither in Congress nor ancient Athens. A somewhat more useful (but equally annoying) interjection might point out that the US is actually a representatively democratic technocracy. So what is technocracy? Technocracy is a form of government where technical experts—namely bureaucrats—are in control. Usually, the word “technocracy” has bad connotations for Americans, like aristocracy or oligarchy (to tell the truth, the first time I learned the meaning of technocracy was when I suggested the name for an all-Techno a cappella group to my freshman year roommate). But we all learn that that the US is a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.” How could our lovely democracy (representative or otherwise) be associated with such a nasty word? The simple fact is that experts determine policy, rather than citizens, in virtually every government in the world. As Americans, we’ve been taught that Election Day is when responsible, (hopefully) well-informed grownups file into voting booths and check the box for the person they want to be their voice in Washington. One would expect that these representatives would actually do their jobs once elected, but sadly democracies like our own have a penchant for choosing less-than-qualified candidates; McCain was at the bottom of his class at the Naval Academy, and with the precedent of Palin and Obama’s dearth of experience, Molly Bode has a decent shot at the presidency in 2012 (be the first kid on your floor to join the Molly Bode 2012 Facebook group!). So how can a lawyer like Obama, who started from the roots of a lowly Government major, be expected to make decisions such as setting the appropriate Federal Fund rate, or the appropriate age at which Tdap vaccine should be recommended, or the pattern for the upcoming Hawaii quarter (I can’t wait)? Obama himself will choose a small number of chief advisors, but the majority
Recategorizing the American government as a technocracy By Josh Mirkin of governmental decisions are made by civil servants who would be working in the government no matter who was president. Although I hope this is not a surprise to anyone, the sheer volume of the bureaucracy that remains detached from the electoral system is still overwhelming. Ignoring approximately 10 million contractors working for the government, there are about 1.8 million civil servants on the federal payroll. Compare that to the 536 individuals who are elected into office. That is nearly a 3400:1 ratio. As an analogy, imagine a government run entirely by Dartmouth upperclassmen, with President Wright as the only elected officer presiding over them. Elected officials only dictate a vague outline of the bureaucratic agenda, and they in turn get much of their advice from technocrats. Yes, the American people may have voted for increased public healthcare and economic regulation, among other things, but the very important specifics of how those are carried out will be directed in large part by technical experts. But although we might be uncomfortable with the idea of a technocracy, we would be in poor shape if elected officials attempted to take back control of the government. Our society and government has become infinitely complex. In the past, the Renaissance man,
the individual who is knowledgeable in all subjects, was revered. On the other hand, in the modern age, specialization is king. Because of the sheer size and complexity of the body of available knowledge, the jack-of-alltrade’s days are over. Furthermore, America’s specific blend of “representatively democratic technocracy” ensures that although mostly unelected specialists are in charge of policy implementation, they can always be removed from office by the president. While bureaucracies are naturally resistant to change, the electoral system at least gives the people the ability to determine who is at the very top of the bureaucratic hierarchy. Personally, I am proud of our representatively democratic technocracy. The technocratic aspects of the system ensure that technical decisions are made by the individuals who know the field, while the democratic aspects ensure that technocrats must fall in line with the general will of the public. It provides a mixture of stability and accountability, although probably more of former. Although it may be distasteful to further separate the public from the decision making process, would we really want to entrust President Bush with designing 50 new quarter designs? What havoc might it entail if Colorado was printed upside-down? 11 - The Dartmouth Independent, December, 2008
Bits & Pieces
just needs to go away By Kobi Tirey
t’s become trendy among political pundits to draw parallels between the Russian invasion of Georgia and Hitler’s invasion of the Sudetenland. They are eerily similar: a former superpower moves to reestablish influence by invading its neighbor in the name of protecting an ethnic minority. Further, each attack yielded only an international slap on the wrist. Some hypothesize that we’re on the brink of another cold war; others fear world war. Either way, the Russian incident is distracting from an incursion that even more strongly places the fabric of humanity at risk. I am speaking, of course, about Germany’s grab at the last limb of American world supremacy: tween mind control. I’ve long held the belief that, someThe Dartmouth Independent, December, 2008 - 12
day, America will wake up and all of our celebrities will be Canadian. I can live with that. They speak the same language, grow up with the same pop culture, and have easier access to pot. I even have an above-average tolerance for Celine Dion and Nelly Furtado. What I can’t live with, however, is that 16-year-old Germans are better at whining about the suckery of middle school than
“Europe imports whatever’s big in the English-speaking world, uses the same formula to create even shittier domestic acts, and then somehow combines it with godawful techno.” American kids who actually went to middle school. Like every self-respecting music listener, I hate emo. But I understand why it needs to exist. For all intents and purposes, emo is the contemporary disco. To create disco, music executives condensed decades
of soul, R&B, and funk into a commercial formula; to create emo, the execs did the same with grunge and indie rock. The same thing happened with punk and is about to happen with hip-hop. As we all know, this is why Kurt Cobain killed himself. What Cobain didn’t realize, though, is that out of every commercial music movement comes an army of kids who earned their musical chops covering its hits, only to realize that they suck. Without the backlash against hair metal, grunge never would have existed. So, sure, emo sucks, but it’s teaching a whole bunch of kids how to write lyrics, and eventually some of them will actually get good. You can’t have alternative music without a mainstream to trash on. This process, however, has been a largely American one, with some noble assists from the British. The rest of Europe has its own cycle. They import whatever’s big in the English-speaking world, use the same formula to create even shittier domestic acts, and then somehow combine it with godawful techno. This is why the most intense street riots and darkest music will always belong to Europe. Not even a brutal dictatorship can provoke a rebellion like shitty European techno can. I’m not kidding when I say that maintaining control of the pop music cycle is more important than containing Russia’s imperialist aspirations. The strongest weapon we have is our pop culture. Thanks to American marketing, nearly the entire world shares one culture. We’ve all eaten at McDonald’s. We’ve all seen Die
Bits & Pieces Hard 3. We’ve all had “Umbrella” stuck in our heads since last summer. Don’t underestimate this power. People love to bemoan the death of European cultures at the hands of MTV, forgetting that our cultural exports played a major role in uniting Europe and winning the Cold War. What did the first President of the Czech Republic and leader of that country’s struggle against the Soviets ask for when he visited the White House? A private performance by Lou Reed. When kids in the US were getting busted in the 70s for smoking weed and dropping acid, kids in East Germany were getting busted for listening to Jimi Hendrix. Despite the Soviets’ best efforts, kids in the East Bloc didn’t want to be the next Lenin – they wanted to be in a rock ’n’ roll band, just like every American kid.
oday, this dynamic is just as salient. If we ever went to war with a European country, we could get its entire army to surrender by offering them 50 Cent tickets. Does it suck that corporate America owns our youth? Sure. But it’s awesome that that they also control the youths of half the world. Fuck food – let’s drop Hannah Montana CDs on Afghanistan. So, Tokio Hotel. Germany’s new emo boy band. They even play instruments. They’ve already taken over Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, and who knows how many other Western European countries. And now they’re being covered in Rolling Stone and have videos on MTV. Somehow, they’ve managed to perfect American angst while maintaining their German efficiency. Every one of their hits has been translated into French and English. They’re literally getting three hits for the price of one. We’re in trouble. If the EU starts to export angst to the United States, our tweens will want to be European. Nothing could pose a greater risk to the balance of power. What will we do when, in a trade war with the EU, the Germans offer our troops Tokio Hotel tickets? When the music starts coming in, the street riots can’t be far behind. It’s all downhill from there. Somewhere, in a jail cell far, far away, Lou Pearlman has a hard-on.
LOVERS Photograph by Velizara Passajova
Down the Rabbit Hole, or the Post-Baccalaureate Crisis By Brittany Crosby
Wonderland wasn’t all it cracked up to be: Hookah nights, tea parties, a game of cards, strangers leaving Ominous grins long after the tale is gone,
And chasing that goddamn white rabbit, always Reminding you about the time. How quickly Everything comes and goes.
You were looking for an adventure, not an inquisition. Off with her head! Introspection can be such an Underwhelming experience…do you dare ask ? 13 - The Dartmouth Independent, December, 2008
POINT OF ORDER
Dartmouth at a Crossroads Using the search for a new president to reflect.
By Jamie Berk
e’re #1! Or, at least according to some recent rankings of America’s wealthiest graduates. Even Tuckies are getting in on the fun: they’re reported to earn more than their counterparts at other schools, as well. Why then, O Gods of US News, hath thou exiled us to the lonely position of 11thplace? To be sure, Dartmouth isn’t exactly hankering for the kind of student that welcomes the US News into her cabinet as Secretary of Education. But a school’s image is important, and, like it or not, America’s perception of its universities centers largely around their athletic performances and US News rankings. Since we’re not exactly breaking any records in the former category (that is, records we’re proud of, at least), we need to work within the system of the latter if we ever want the name of our college to be casually muttered alongside that The Dartmouth Independent, December, 2008 - 14
of Harvard, Yale, or Princeton—which, as Provost Barry Scherr confirmed to me in an interview, is a personal and institutional goal. That’s why, he continued, the College keeps close tabs on the rankings. The zenith of the list—determined by whatever metric—is not as far out of reach as it may seem. After all, the College and its Business School are already tops in the eyes of employers. And the recent decrease in Dartmouth’s raw US News point total, as Scherr pointed out, is infinitesimal; we’ve simply been slightly surpassed by institutions that invest much more in research. In fact, Dartmouth seems perfectly positioned for a run to the top: can’t you just hear America’s favorite educational talking point becoming that, Yes, Harvard is all well and good, but is no match for Dartmouth’s narrowly-tailored attention to the individual, undergraduate focus, and well-rounded student body? Can’t you just see the wheels turning in our country’s
collective psyche as it comes to the conclusion that the rest of the Ivies are fundamentally similar, simply jockeying for position behind a unique Dartmouth that sits a cut above? America loves an underdog, and against big, impersonal Harvard, little ol’ Dartmouth, with its quaint New England setting and attention to the liberal arts, seems as good a candidate as any. So why does our campus so often seem terrified of getting jerked in the other direction? For one, President Wright doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. At a college that sells itself on its reputation as a petite learning community, he remains practically invisible, and humorously impossible to get a hold of. As one highly tenured professor pointed out, the administration remains “institutionally conservative” and lags behind the progressivism of the students and faculty. Wright exacerbated the College’s identity crisis: he constantly referred to it as a “university in all but name,” but when Dartmouth—whatever you call it—began slipping behind larger universities in the US News rankings, re-hoisted the banner of the small liberal arts college unfairly placed in a category with incomparable research universities. But Wright is on his way out. Mean-
The Schoolyard while, the College finds itself in an unusually tenuous position, torn between its split identities, navigating a disturbingly thin line between collective optimism and fatalism. We are nervously hopeful about Wright’s successor, but six months away from his or her appointment, we have barely the slightest idea of who that person might be or what they would mean to Dartmouth. Many retain a sense of reputational entitlement, confident that our Ivy League status will protect us from too great a stumble into irrelevance; others have a much less rosy tint in their glasses—one longtime professor, commenting on the possibility of Dean of Faculty Carol Folt becoming president, noted, “It would be the end of Dartmouth. The absolute end.” As the first snows blanket Hanover, the notion of rebirth is distant from the minds of most. The football team just completed its first winless season since 1881, a season in which it played a single game. The College’s endowment is reeling from the recession, forcing the administration to warn us ceaselessly of the inevitable difficulties to come. A group of alumni has reopened its financially and reputationally damaging lawsuit against the College. Students are increasingly dissatisfied with the sister problems of large class sizes and overly exclusive courses—a conundrum that, since it seems to be solvable only by hiring substantially more professors, seems unlikely to go away in the current economic climate. Several high-profile members of the faculty have either recently retired or controversially departed. There are, of course, the positives as well—without a doubt, they are plentiful. On the heels of once again accepting the brightest and most diverse class of all time, the College received a record number of Early Decision applications in 2008. Our faculty, despite its primary commitment to teaching, continues to produce groundbreaking research in several fields. Our alumni are increasingly prominent in national affairs: Rob Portman ’78 was long rumored to be a possible vice presidential candidate; General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt ’78 is fighting to keep his company afloat; Timothy Geithner ’83 is replacing Henry Paulson ’68 as Secretary of the Trea-
sury. While Russell Wolff ’89 runs ESPN International, Robert Christgau ’62 continues to enjoy his title as the “Dean of American Rock Critics.” Our next president will inherit a flawed but resilient institution. Their administration will likely decide—either by intent or folly—whether Dartmouth chases the Ivy League “Big Three” or falls into line with the small liberal arts colleges, or, forges ahead on a new, third path. The modern university president is a visible leader, not a behind-the-scenes technocrat, and ours should be no different. It is imperative that our new leader acts like one: guiding us out of our valleys and standing triumphant upon our peaks, careful not to get too high or too low along the way. Such a moderated temperament is, of course, one of Barack Obama’s greatest strengths. We can all, in fact, learn from Obama’s proclamation that the presidential election was never about him; that instead, it was about the voters—the passion and resolve of the American people. We should approach the incoming Dartmouth administration in much the same way: whoever inherits the “Wheelock Succession” will lead our community, but not outshine its constituent parts. When I emailed President Wright and his assistants to try to set up a short interview (several times), I wasn’t even afforded the luxury of an automatically generated response. With Dartmouth’s next president, that cannot happen. For I’m not just a journalist—I’m the most important person on this campus: a student of Dartmouth College.
Why Can’t We…?
Viewpoints on the Amethyst Initiative By Alexandra Gakos
ou’re an 18-year-old college freshman. You can vote. You can enlist in the military. You can legally sign your name to a contract. You even have the enthralling opportunity to spend days
on end in a courtroom for jury duty. But a little sip of wine? Don’t even think about it. In an age where political activism and free speech have almost become fads, students are eager to make their voices heard. Drinkers and non-drinkers alike have strong opinions about the Amethyst Initiative, the nationwide campaign of college presidents to encourage a reevaluation of the legal drinking age. These presidents are increasingly concerned with the binge drinking culture on their campuses and the failure of the abstinence approach to stamp it out. They argue that the rise of binge drinking was related to the elevation of the legal age to 21 and that revising the age back downward could help curb the dangerous habits many of their students have adopted. Dartmouth’s James Wright is, so far, the only Ivy League president to sign it. “I signed the Amethyst Initiative, along with more than 130 other college and university presidents, primarily because I think the important health and safety issue of the legal drinking age warrants more reasoned and informed discussion than it has received so far,” said Wright. “Not all of us who signed the document think the drinking age should be changed, but all of us agree that more thoughtful consideration of the issue, informed by the best available evidence, would be useful.” The Initiative points out that many underage students compromise their morals and disregard the law to obtain fake IDs. In essence, the Initiative asks society to choose the lesser of two evils: that sip of Pinot Noir or the prospect of a culture that has no respect for laws – both statutory and ethical. “It has now become socially acceptable to carry on without responsibility,” says Julie Prentice ‘09. “If students are making illegal IDs, they will think of doing other things such as cheating or abusing drugs, so their morals are definitely being compromised. People think, ‘If I can get away with this, what else can I get away with?’” Some students, however, believe that binge drinking has become so ingrained in the college culture that changing the legal age would have no effect. Those who hold this view advocate other techniques for 15 - The Dartmouth Independent, December, 2008
managing the drinking culture, such as better education and heightened enforcement of existing alcohol policies. “I think there needs to be more education on how binge drinking can be dangerous to your health,” said Sonia Schnee ’09. “I think that’s something that should not only be done at Dartmouth, but on a national level.” Some students worry that a drinking age of 18 could make it easier for college students to pass alcohol along to their high school friends. Others fear even more reckless behavior. “I have a friend who was hit by a drunk driver, and I know that she is concerned that lowering the drinking age will lead to greater irresponsibility,” said Elizabeth Faiella ‘12. Even Prentice, a staunch supporter of a lower drinking age, worries about the possible effects of the change on drunk driving and calls for stricter policies. “I think there should be a one-strike, not a three-strike policy for drunk driving,” she said. “The penalty should be very severe, because it is one of the worst things you can do.” But, for the most part, students agree with the objectives of the Amethyst Initiative. Many remain convinced that lowering the drinking age will change the nature of the college drinking scene and ultimately lead to more constructive behavior. “It might not change it right away, but I think it will change the culture over time,” said Joanne Nachio ‘09. “It would definitely change the frat culture here. The frats would still be an outlet, but they would not be the only outlet.” Even faculty members are throwing forth their support behind the Initiative. “18-year-old kids can join the Army, 18-year-old kids can vote. If you can vote, I think you can drink. It is definitely something that is incongruous,” said Professor John Rassias. “I just hope that people don’t abuse it. Any form of excess or abuse should be curtailed because drinking liquor is not intended to be a challenge. Why not drink wisely? The goal of drinking shouldn’t be to get drunk.”
The Dartmouth Independent, December, 2008 - 16
DEPT. OF SANITY
All Night Long How to pull the perfect all-nighter By Rebecca Harrington
t’s freezing out, the sun is setting at 4:30pm, and orgo students haven’t been spotted outside of the library in weeks. That’s right: it’s finals time. Optimists might say that winter break is just around the corner, but I say that Dartmouth is quickly nearing its Academic Judgment Day. Some of you might be a little concerned, but relatively calm: you have been reviewing old lectures for the past week and did all of your problem sets on time. This article is not for you. This is for my fellow procrastinators. This is for those who watch streamed videos of puppies during class, those who rage on weeknights, and those who consistently wait until the last minute to start that 12 page research paper. Don’t worry. It’s not too late to compete with your more studious peers. I have the perfect solution: The All-Nighter. The All-Nighter has a reputation for being an unhealthy result of bad time management. Contrary to conventional wisdom, however, All-Nighters should be a source of pride and excitement. So maybe I didn’t sleep on Tuesday night, but that’s what Wednesday afternoon is for. Be-
sides, Monday night was definitely worth it. I know that there are some All-Nighter virgins out there; I’ve heard people claim that their bodies cannot handle staying up for 24 hours. With the following triedand-true advice, anyone can master the art of the All-Nighter. The first matter to consider is your location. If you cannot trust yourself to stay off your bed, don’t pull an All-Nighter in your room. You might tell yourself, “I’m just resting my eyes.” But I guarantee you will wake up two hours after your paper is due with serious regrets about the sleep you’ve just gotten. Many people suggest Novack, but I personally prefer a more private area. If your dorm has a study area or lounge, this is a good option. Just make sure that your area is sufficiently uncomfortable, so you don’t find yourself drifting off into Dreamland. Generally speaking, pulling All-Nighters with company will decrease your productiveness, so I suggest isolation. The second matter to consider is supplies. Once you start your All-Nighter, you will be desperately looking for a distraction. Turn off AIM, log off Facebook,
INTERNSHIPS and consider turning off the music. Don’t log off Blitz; that’s just un-Dartmouth like. If you’re going to be hungry, get some food before settling into your location. The most successful All-Nighters happen when one never leaves the location, apart from bathroom breaks. It is also a good idea to invest in some stimulants, namely caffeine. Coffee is a good idea, but for those of us that can’t stand the taste, I recommend caffeine pills. They’re available at the local CVS and quite effective. It is for the equivalent of one cup of coffee and one can be taken safely every four hours. Be warned: it affects some people more heavily than others and taking too many can result in paranoia and shaking. As a matter of fact, every time I take a caffeine pill I start shaking like a Polaroid picture. But it’s a great conversation starter when that attractive guy or girl next to you asks why you can’t hold a pencil the next morning. The third matter to consider is time management. It’s an ironic consideration, since you’re clearly in this position because of your lack of time management skills, but bear with me. When I’m up all night, I usually only do work for 60% of the time. I allow myself five-minute internet breaks every hour. Breaks decrease your stress levels and give you some sense of control. Furthermore, being up so early in the morning has some great benefits, too. If you have to compete with floormates to get ready in the morning, 4am is a great time to get the first shower. There are, of course, some dangers in not sleeping. If you’ve just pulled an AllNighter, it is probably not a great time to start a cross-country road trip, for instance. The feeling of extreme sleep deprivation can be compared to being drunk (without the whole fun part of actually drinking). Make sure you rest the day after your AllNighter, or at least get some sleep the night after. Good luck on your finals, and blitz me when you’re pulling your All-Nighter and need some human interaction during your five-minute break.
How one Rolling Stone intern got a very special treat
By Jamie Berk
s a summer intern for Rolling Stone, I quickly realized that my colleagues got their kicks from the small stuff: too often, I’d hear, “I got to get such-and-such editor a sandwich” or “Oh my god, that’s the tissue Bjork just sneezed into!” Granted, getting worked up over such minutiae is one of the best ways to network from the bottom of the totem pole: “Hey, Mr. Editor, remember me? I’m the guy that was channeling the Kabbalah to get the copy machine to work. Where are you going? It was a joke! I don’t even like Madonna!” So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the RS interns take real pleasure in transcribing interviews of the stars they care about. Getting to listen to Q&As offers a brief taste of “being on the inside”: for a few hours, interns can pretend that they’re the magazine’s liaison to Jeff Bridges or Jack White. With one of my transcriptions, though, I got a real treat; something I can tell my grandkids about. I got to hear will.i.am take a shit.
I can’t exactly prove this, but the clues were there: the signature echo, a couple of loud whirrs that sounded a lot like flushing (a courtesy flush the first time around, perhaps?), loud talking that faded in and out as if it was on the outside of a swinging bathroom door, and a bunch of shuffling immediately before and after each whirr. Half-an-hour into the interview, after one such flush-scramble, will said, “Can you ask me that question again so I can, uh, answer it?” Oh yes, it was an epic shit. While typing will.i.am’s every word, I couldn’t help but ruminate on the endless possibilities: “Where is the Dump,” “Poopalicious,” “Yes We Can…Crap.” Maybe his straining had unexpectedly yielded another Fergie album? The task at hand became increasingly difficult as I slowly remembered that I had the sense of humor of a fifth grader. I simultaneously regretted and appreciated this fact. Regardless, I finally had a way to answer my friends who kept asking me about all the “cool stuff” I was getting to do, expecting to hear about how, while touring with Kanye, I lost my virginity 18 times to Miley Cyrus and wrote a movie about it. Another man’s trash had turned into my treasure. If only Obama was cueing up a game of BattleShits in the next stall…
17 - The Dartmouth Independent, December, 2008
In Deserto Features crab apples less-than-ideal snacks make them perfect for jelly. Their sharp taste cuts through added sugar for a flavorful jelly, and their high skin-to-fruit ratio gives their juice a strong color, so jelly made from pink or red crab apples has a lovely rosy hue. It’s not difficult to make your own jam. Apples are naturally high in pectin, a carbohydrate that gives jams, jellies, and yogurts a semi-solid, gelled consistency. Not to mention the fact that everything you need is readily available on campus.
Crab Apples Aren’t Just For Stepping On By Aurora Coon
pples are world famous—a long history of cultivation around the globe has given them celebrity status. They originated thousands of years ago, most likely in Kazakhstan, where forests of wild apple trees cover the foothills of the Tian Shan mountain range. From there, apples spread across Asia, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean, traveled into Europe with the Romans, and then headed across the ocean to the Americas with the European colonists. Along the way, they became important enough in people’s lives to take on symbolic significance, as evidenced by their appearances in Greek, Persian, Celtic, and Christian mythologies. Today, apples are one of the world’s most widely grown fruits, and remain culturally relevant. They have even become a brand name and logo for a multinational electronics and software company, for example. Apples have a strong presence here at Dartmouth. Not only do Macs make up the majority of computers on campus, but many students also eat apples every day. They’re offered by DDS year-round, and are especially available and desirable right now, since they’re in season. Almost every dining location currently has a prominent display of the fresh, locally grown fruit. New England’s first settlers brought apple cuttings and seedlings with them, and apples have remained an important crop in this region. According to Valley Food & Farm’s “Free Local Ag Bulletin,” there are 17 different farms within an hour’s drive of campus marketing apples this fall. Believe it or not, there are also apple trees growing The Dartmouth Independent, December, 2008 - 18
throughout our campus. The fruit of these trees goes unnoticed for the most part, which might at first seem odd considering the fruit’s popularity. But these apples are quite different from the familiar Galas and Granny Smiths at FoCo. They are of the same species as the apples found at DDS and the supermarket, but they are less than two inches in diameter. Most are about the size of cherries, and some are even as small as blueberries. These smaller, lesser-known varieties are known as crab apples. Several of the more than 250 varieties of crab apples are represented here at Dartmouth. Their function is ornamental: they grace our campus with their fragrant pinkish blossoms in the spring—as many as 100,000 on a single tree—and hundreds of yellow, orange, pink, or red fruits in the fall. Less than five percent of apple blossoms end up as mature fruit, but the result is still an impressive volume. o what to do with all these tiny apples? Dartmouth students do not seem to know that these apples are edible if caught before falling to the ground. Crab apples at Dartmouth are generally ignored, and they wind up mashed on the pavement, where they ferment and start to smell a bit. Crab apples are worth trying fresh off the tree if you’re curious, but they were not bred to be eaten like conventional apples. They’re very tart – their name refers to the “crabbed,” scrunched up face people make when eating them. Also, the ratio of core to flesh in a crab apple isn’t very favorable; in a crabapple, it’s barely a mouthful of flesh and mostly seeds. But the very characteristics that make
R OWN CRAB-A PPLE JEL LY
1l Grab a bag from Topside and fill it halfway with large (cherry-sized) crab apples to make 16 oz. of jelly. 2l Rinse and put the apples in a pot with just enough water to almost cover them. Boil until they’re soft enough to mash with a fork relatively easily. 3l Strain through a cheesecloth or substitute (creativity encouraged) to catch the juice in a bowl, keeping out the mushy fruit, cores, and skins. These other parts can be made into applesauce or tossed into the trash. 4l Measure the amount of juice you end up with and mix in ¾ cup of white sugar (available at Topside) for each cup of juice and bring to a boil. After 10 minutes, begin to check the mixture periodically by letting a spoonful cool and pouring it back into the pot. When the mixture is ready, it will fall off slowly, in a sheet, rather than dripping back in a hurry. 5l While still hot, pour the jelly into a re-sealable, relatively heat resistant container. Glass canning jars (available at True Value and the Coop Food Store) work well. Place container on a flat surface, cover, and let cool for a few hours. 6l Once the jelly has reached room temperature, stick it in the fridge. 7l Enjoy on toast, over ice cream, or straight from the jar. 8l As you eat, contemplate apples’ incredible diversity and beauty and usefulness even in their miniature form.
The TDI Interview:
Chad Goodridge‘01 Chad Goodridge is one of Broadway’s fastest rising stars following his breakout performance in the Tony Award-winning musical Passing Strange. TDI caught up with the actor outside a Greenwich Village café to discuss his thoughts on race, acting, Being, and how they all point back to Dartmouth.
By Jamie Berk
DI: What are some of your fondest memories of Dartmouth?
CG: My friends and I used to organize these big midnight games of capture the flag on the golf course, and they were always the most dangerous things. Somebody always went to the hospital, but it was so much fun. One time we were running really fast and my head collided with my friend’s cheek, so this pretty girl had a huge bruise on her face for a few weeks. This one girl—it was her first time playing with us—got her teeth knocked out when my friend ran his forehead into her mouth. So those are my fondest memories of Dartmouth [laughs]. TDI: Well, in your biography on the Passing Strange website, you say, “I went to Dartmouth, which was really pretty,” and then you move on. Do I sense some hostility there? CG: It wasn’t my place. When I went there to visit, everyone I met was from a different generation—they spoke about their Dartmouth friends as friends for life, that kind of thing. So I went in expecting that, but that’s not what my experience was. But I got a lot of good things out of it—the education, of course, and I still have some good friends from there. I met a
lot of great people and learned a lot of great things—by no means did I have a bad experience. But I haven’t been back. TDI: What deviated from your expectations so much? CG: I went to a private Quaker school, and the demographic was pretty similar to Dartmouth. After I graduated, I spent a summer in Africa. I’m embarrassed to say it now, but I had never before that time even been interested in travelling to Africa—the school that I went to had a very narrow cultural scope. It turned out that being on that continent was the most important thing. That was enough for me to reassess what my values were and how large the world was, and find out that there’s so much more to this world than what I had put so much value in. Culturally and socially, it opened my eyes a lot. I learned so much about myself. Coming back, it felt like I was taking a step back, just because I was with the same types of people. It definitely took some adjusting after spending the summer using my mind in a different way. I had to reassess where I fit in. It was a different thing going over there and seeing people on billboards who may not necessarily look like me, but look more like me than the people I see here. That was a huge
thing for me, being in a place where you can see yourself—that’s a luxury that a lot of people have and may not think about. I came back here and I was sort of angry because I couldn’t see myself anywhere. I couldn’t see myself there either, and I was sort of in the middle. I was very silent my first term; everyone thought I was some militant kid. I was wearing all black all the time and I was just sort of quiet and brooding, which is so far from who I am right now. I’m definitely glad that I went to Dartmouth, because I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t had that experience. I think it was just part of the journey, in terms of where I’m supposed to be at any given time. TDI: What did you do after Dartmouth? CG: I went to this place called Chautauqua for two years—it’s modeled after the first year of Juilliard. You perform shows at night and you’re the entertainment for the town. So honing that, doing that path. A lot of my friends went to grad school, but what I figured out for myself is that I needed to self-actualize in a way. If I went to grad school, I probably would have been one of those people who just like sits there. There’s a certain thing with “professional students” who go from this to this to this and then expect to have everything. That wouldn’t 19 - The Dartmouth Independent, December, 2008
Ramblings Q&A have worked for me, because I would have easily been like, OK, where is everything? Give it to me! Personally, I really needed to go out there, do the work, pick up the training, make sure that I knew what I was doing, and do it. After Chautauqua, I worked with one of my best friends at a studio here in New York. We started doing projects together. That was just a great time to be free and sort of explore things artistically. If I hadn’t worked with him, I don’t think I would have been able to do Passing Strange. There are certain things I learned from working with him that I was able to take to the show. And I gave myself the validation. That was one of the biggest things—self-validation. So often in the arts, you look outside of yourself for somebody to tell you that you’re worth it or you’re good or you’re talented. If you’re like, “Not only am I good enough, I’m great,” then it’s a totally different way of being in the world. When you operate from that place, people sort of expect that from you. And distinguishing that from ego, where it’s like, “I am great, I’m the greatest”—there’s so much to learn and there’s so much in this world; at any given time, it’s a constant shift. For me, it was really about my decision to really do it. There was a time when I was working this part-time job and one day I asked for a raise, after being there for like three years. I was like, “I went to Dartmouth! I should be getting more money than this!” My boss was like, “That’s ridiculous, are you kidding me?” I quit the job, and I was like, I’m just going to be a full-time actor and that’s all I’m going to do. A week later, I booked two jobs out of town, and since then I’ve been acting full time. TDI: How did you first get acquainted with Passing Strange? CG: It was at Stanford. I was just interested in the language and how people were talking and the sort of abstract quality of it. Once we started with the workshop, there were a lot of things we were discussing that aren’t discussed that often in theater or even the world—conversations about “passing.” Normally, we have these ideas that we can share, but not with the Other; here, we were having these conversations cross-color. Being able to put all of these ideas out there and say we’re all doing this together—it’s not a black thing, it’s not a white thing, it’s people—that’s what really sort of hooked me into it.
The Dartmouth Independent, December, 2008 - 20
TDI: So the play was a continuation of your search for self? CG: It was definitely a deep exploration of that. I think the show enabled me to just be who I am, fully embrace all the things that are uniquely me, and really explore and celebrate them. And I related to the story, in terms of fitting in—the
got out of school, I didn’t want to do musicals. My heart wasn’t in it. When Passing Strange came along, it was a nice hybrid where I was able to be an actor—which is what I was very much interested in being—while utilizing as much of my other talents as possible. I just did a workshop with a new musical last week and it was sort of jarring to be in that world after playing outside of the structure for the past three years. TDI: So, do you not even consider Passing Strange a musical? CG: Yeah, I wasn’t really calling it that until they decided there were awards to be given out. It’s such a special hybrid of so many different forms. There are so many different categories it can fall into. If you go in there expecting a musical, you’re going to be disappointed because that’s not what you’re going to get. So I guess I was calling it a play with music or a rock concert smashed together with a play. TDI: How do you get pumped up for every performance?
“For me, it was about my decision to really do it.” main character deals with all these people saying he’s not black enough. Because ultimately, what does that mean? What does that mean, black? You have one grandparent that’s black and you’re black? You put all these people in this category of black, and then you say you’re not black enough? There are so many definitions of what it means to be black. You dump everybody into this category, you can’t define it, and it sort of has no meaning, but it’s also this label you give to so many people. TDI: Had you known that you wanted to go into musical theater? CG: When I got to Dartmouth, I was saddened to find out that they didn’t do musicals that much. As time went by, it ended up being a really great thing for me because I was able to do Greek drama, restoration comedy, lots of different things. I really didn’t miss it, and when I
CG: It’s that the people I’m about to share this with haven’t seen it before, or if they have, they want to see a good show—no one’s paying to see your bad day. I think we were all working from this place of, “We’ve got to make this great.” That’s it; there’s no other option. I always remind myself, Why am I here? Why am I doing this? If I ask myself those questions, then it’s easy. You can’t get caught up in the, “[sigh] My knee hurts again,” or “My ankle is still not better.” And if you’re like, Why aren’t these people laughing, or Where is everybody in the crowd, thinking about those little things, you’re fucked. Once the music starts, it just goes, so there’s nothing to do but be in it, and everybody else is depending on you on the stage. It really doesn’t take that much work—Rebecca (Naomi Jones) does something funny and you’re like “Oh my God” and then you’re in it. TDI: You play multiple parts in the show: you go from Christophe, a free-spirited stoner in Amsterdam, to Hugo, a militant Marxist in Berlin. How do you make that transition? CG: They are two people that fundamentally believe in how they live, but they have different ideas about the world. Christophe is a lot more free-spirited and “Live and let live, let’s have a good time.” Hugo’s like, “This is how things
Ramblings Q&A go, and anything outside of this is bullshit.” So it’s really, for me, just about tapping into the mindset of these people and realizing that everyone lives all the time as gradations of these things. I think everyone in the world has their idea of what the truth is. Once you realize that your truth doesn’t have to be the same as someone else’s truth, a lot of things get easier. So, really, finding out what each of these characters’ truths are, and investing fully in those, whether or not they’re things I agree with or how I would behave. There is a truth of the character, the story that needs to be told, and that anchors your performance.
TDI: Is it gratifying to see those?
TDI: Didn’t you say once that you want to be Christophe when you grow up?
CG: It was a cool day, really. The rehearsal stage was like an MGM lot from back in the day—you’ve got sailors over here, jailbirds over here, gazelles over there, just all these different people in one place. I remember thinking, This is really great—not only do I get to perform on this show that I’ve watched for years, but I’m doing something that I really love with people that I love. That was sort of overwhelming for me for a moment, just being grateful for that. We had a show that afternoon and Ellen Burstyn was there. She came backstage and she was talking about the show, and how this is it, and she started to cry. Then Colman (Domingo) started to cry, then Eisa (Davis) started to cry, and we’re just like crying backstage because this woman who is amazing is appreciating what we’ve done. That moment was so wonderful; I think that was the biggest moment. It was like, you know what, we did this, no matter what happens tonight. Nobody expected this show to be here; nobody expected this to exist, and not only does it exist, it’s doing something—it’s living and it’s thriving and it’s touching people. I went outside and there were people waiting there, and this girl was like, “This was the first Broadway show I’ve ever seen. I don’t know what to say.” And I just gave her a hug.
CG: It’s like music—your taste in characters changes. There was a time when we were at Berkeley when I was so Christophe [laughs]. So, “Whatever you want, it’s totally possible, all we have to do is love each other and we don’t need to think about anything else.” And that served me for a while, and it served me pretty well. Christophe loves. He’s just really open to whatever, and that’s a beautiful thing. Woman on Street: I thought you were so goooood!!! Sorry. I saw you at Berkeley, at the Public, and on Broadway. I love your show. Are you having an interview about this right now? Ohhhhhh!!! I’m Ariella, by the way. TDI: Do you get that a lot? CG: A little bit, yeah. It’s really nice, especially for something that I’m proud of. There’s nothing wrong with reality TV, but it’s not like I was on the Real World and people are like, “Ohmigawd you were on the Real World!” Whenever someone stops and says, “That show meant so much to me,” it’s a really nice thing.
CG: It’s really nice, you know. I try not to put so much stock into them—I mean, that’s the main reason I don’t like to read them, because if you get caught up in either direction, you’re fucked, basically. If someone tells you that you suck, you’re like, “God, I fucking suck.” Then someone says you’re great and you’re like, “I’m great!” You can’t live like that. But of course it’s nice when people say nice things. Guess I’m still figuring that one out. TDI: What were the Tony’s like?
TDI: Do you read the reviews? CG: Usually I don’t. This show, I would skim them. I never really listened to what anybody said about what needs to change or whatever. I just looked to see if they said nice things about me. TDI: One called you “particularly sharp,” another called you “versatile,” and another called you “amusing and a little scary.” CG: That’s my favorite!
TDI: You talk a lot about the influence of your parents. How important has their support been? CG: They’re extremely, extremely supportive. They came to the show almost 40 times while we were on Broadway. The days when they weren’t there, other people were like, “We haven’t seen your parents in a while, where are they?” They will do anything for me, and it took me a while to really appreciate that. My parents have just been so loving—they’ve never wanted me to do anything I didn’t want to do. When I was at Dartmouth, so many people hid
from their parents that they were in shows, and they wouldn’t major in theater because their parents wouldn’t have it. With my parents, it was always whatever made me happy, and they have always maintained that. It helps so much, especially when you’re doing anything in the arts or anything that’s “unconventional.” Because there are so many people that say, “It’s hard, it’s hard,” and look at you with that sort of face—to have people that have guided you up to this point supporting you in that way is a really important thing, I think. TDI: You said once that no one is given a dream without the opportunity to fulfill it. What’s your advice to the recently graduated 20-something who’s struggling to find success and living in squalor as an artiste? CG: Clean your apartment. I mean, I’m by no means an expert—I’m just at the beginning of my journey. That said, I was inspired by my friends Mindy (Kaling) and Brenda (Withers). I was living with them when I had just graduated, and they were working on this play in our apartment called Matt and Ben. The attention and focus they had with it was like, “We’re doing this. This is what we’re doing and it’s going to be a success.” And it was. They ran Off-Broadway for a while and it’s published and people all over have done it. Mindy was also like, “I’m going to get to this point, this is where I want to be,” and now she’s on The Office. It was that sort of focus and clear determination, fully allowing yourself to be what you can be, accepting where you are, not necessarily knowing what’s going happen next, and being OK with that.
or me, it had to do with accepting what I loved and pushing out all these other ideas about what I should be doing. If you let yourself be what you can be, things will happen. Doors will open up for you if you let go of some of your stories that don’t serve you. I’ve never said that I’m a starving artist. That’s not what I’m doing, because that doesn’t sound like fun to me. What sounds like fun to me is doing projects that are really inspiring to me as an artist and going on vacations and all that stuff. I think about the things that make me happy instead of listening to people who are like, “It’s hard, it’s hard, it’s hard.” It’s about putting a different idea inside your head: “It’s easy, it’s easy, it’s easy, I can do it, I can do it, whatever it is.” There’s something to that way of thinking. It can activate you. If you can find something that can take you toward what you want, then it’s easy. 21 - The Dartmouth Independent, December, 2008
Radical Restructuring Why Big Three Bankruptcy May Be Needed
ecently, there has been a lot of talk about a government bailout of Detroit’s “Big Three” automakers (GM, Ford, and Chrysler), and rightfully so. Suffering from decreased consumer spending and an extremely tight credit market, car companies have experienced a substantial decline in vehicle sales that now threatens their ability to stay in business. GM has already lost $2 billion this fall, according to a recent New York Times report, and has stated that it may be out of cash by January if poor sales continue. Such reports are naturally alarming— so alarming, in fact, that the Big Three are now pleading with the federal government for a bailout package of around $25 billion to keep them afloat until they can adapt business models better suited to the depressed consumer market. However, while the companies argue that a bailout will allow them to return to profitability, recent history suggests otherwise. Detroit needs a radical restructuring of its automotive industry. A bankruptcy of one or more of these “Big Three” companies, although potentially risky in light The Dartmouth Independent, December, 2008 - 22
By Charles Buker of America’s current economic instability, may provide the only impetus for reorganization great enough to bring success
“Chapter 11 may be the only solution that will return U.S. auto-making to genuine, long term success in the global market.” back to the U.S. auto industry. Those in support of a bailout package argue that GM, Ford, and Chrysler are victims of the current financial and credit crisis, and that a temporary bailout would allow them to weather the storm until they can return to profitability. Unfortunately, the Big Three’s business problems existed long before any national meltdown, and there is little reason to suggest that these problems will disappear after the economy recovers. Chrysler has been struggling to record steady profits for years, as evidenced by Daimler-Benz’s 2007 split with
the company over lagging sales. GM has lost money three out of the last four fiscal years and posted a $10.6 billion yearly loss as early as 2005. While the financial crisis has certainly exacerbated the problems of Detroit’s automakers, the reasons for these problems run much deeper than the current lack of credit in American banks and lending institutions. The American auto industry has been struggling to record profits for several reasons. Firstly, contracted wages and healthcare benefits make it difficult for U.S. car companies to profit relative to other manufacturers. MSNBC reports that, “GM’s health-care costs tack on $1,500 per vehicle. Toyota and Honda spend a mere $400 per vehicle at their U.S. production plants.” Ford and Chrysler offer similarly high worker’s benefits, making them particularly vulnerable to periods in which sales and general revenue come slowly. Yet beyond basic employee costs, the fundamental reason why Detroit is struggling lies in an ideology that “bigger is better.” Since the inception of the U.S. automotive industry, the principal American automakers have prided themselves on lar-
gesse. Whether that meant that a U.S. car would have a bigger engine, bigger seats, or bigger tailfins, models from the ’57 Chevy BelAir to the 2008 Ford Expedition have been made with the idea that increasing size could bring more to customers. This ideology will prove a critical problem in the coming years, for consumers have already started to buy smaller cars due to rising gas prices and a public opinion shift towards “greener” options. Detroit’s greatest losses in sales have come from the truck and SUV segments of the market where the models are largest and the fuel economy lowest; U.S. automakers have suffered a 37% decrease in large SUV sales over the past year alone. Unfortunately for the domestic automakers, these two sectors are their two largest areas of production and still account for the majority of their yearly revenue. Consider that trucks and SUV’s accounted for 62% of Ford’s total vehicle sales this year.
clear shift toward smaller, more efficient vehicles is needed, yet the majority of the Big Three’s factories show little sign of changing. The Toyota Prius has been on American roads since 2001, and Honda is already on the verge of unveiling the first commercial hydrogen powered car, the FCX Clarity. In contrast, American automakers are just now beginning to bring hybrid versions of their cars to market. Furthermore, GM’s allelectric Chevy Volt will not be cleared for production until 2010 at the earliest, and no domestic auto manufacturer is seriously exploring hydrogen power. U.S. automakers are a step behind in fuel efficiency, and the companies are seemingly too large and too mired in an outdated ideology of big cars and trucks to catch up. As a result of these problems, a radical restructuring of the Big Three is needed, and only a bankruptcy may produce enough of a shock to introduce such change. By keeping the Big Three alive through a bailout, the government will only postpone genuine change within the industry. A rescue package contingent on certain “green” requirements may improve Detroit’s competitiveness, but this will be
difficult to enact. Many of the existing U.S. car factories are designed for production of large SUV’s and trucks; to legally force these factories to adapt to an entirely different system will be both expensive and time intensive. On the other hand, a bankruptcy will allow these companies to more completely and efficiently reorganize for today’s car markets. Despite the fear associated with the word “bankruptcy,” Chapter 11 does not mean that GM, Ford, or Chrysler suddenly disappears. Chapter 11 is designed to help companies restructure, and such a restructuring is exactly what Detroit needs if it wishes to continue to be a player on the global scale. The penalties for bankruptcy are potentially severe. The Center for Automotive Research has cited losses of up to three million jobs based on a failure of one of the U.S. carmakers; however, such figures assume the worst-case scenario of a complete end of operations. Such a nightmare case is unlikely to occur, and even it does, foreign automakers can pick up the slack. BMW, Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, and other companies already have automotive factories in the U.S., and Volkswagen will soon open up a plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. A failure of a domestic automaker would no doubt cost a number of jobs, both directly and indirectly; yet, as opposed to Wall Street, Detroit, while still an important component of the American economy, is not essential to American economic success. Bailouts of companies such as AIG were conducted with the idea that without bank lending and insurance, the entire capitalist economy would be brought to its knees. A Detroit bankruptcy, however, is unlikely to prove as catastrophic, especially in light of the fact that foreign automakers already provide an outlet for those who would be laid off by a Big Three bankruptcy. Therefore, although a bailout may appear best to the heads of Detroit’s auto companies, Chapter 11 may be the only solution that will return U.S. auto-making to genuine, long term success in the global market. Domestic automakers have been suffering a steady loss of profits and market share for years. This decline is not simply
the result of the recent financial and credit crisis; rather, it is the consequence of a deeper production philosophy inherent to these companies since the early twentieth century. Detroit management’s traditional belief in larger cars places it squarely out of step with the world consumer market, and only radical restructuring can ensure that U.S. automakers fully address this problem in the future. While Chapter 11 may be a bitter pill to swallow for both the local autoworkers and the nation at large, it is the only medicine that can work fast enough to save the domestic auto-industry’s long term profitability and competitiveness.
his outlook appears to be shared by Congress, which declared on Thursday, November 20th that the three major U.S. auto companies had “failed miserably in persuading Congress or the public that $25 billion in aid from the government would be well spent.” House majority leader Nancy Pelosi has given the executives of the Big Three 12 days to draft a convincing argument that the bailout money currently requested would be well spent. If this argument fails to sway Congressional opinion, a bankruptcy may indeed be in the cards for one or all of the Detroit car-makers. While President-elect Barack Obama has recently pledged to do all he can to improve the domestic auto industry and avoid a Big Three bankruptcy, time is running out for the domestic automakers. At this point, a federal bailout seems relatively unlikely. Unless Ford, GM, and Chrysler executives can significantly change opinions about the future of their respective companies, they will likely face Chapter 11. This reality, although uncomfortable for American auto-workers, may be what is most needed to fix an industry that must significantly adapt if it wishes to realistically compete in the global automotive market.
23 - The Dartmouth Independent, December, 2008
TDI’s 2008 Election by Wyatt McKean
he 2008 election, a nearly twoyear affair, has finally ended. Senator Barack Obama of Illinois solidly beat Senator John McCain of Arizona – Obama’s 365 electoral votes to McCain’s 173 represented the widest margin of victory since 1996. The Democratic Party built on its majority in both houses of Congress, picking up at least seven seats in the Senate (bringing the current tally to 58-41), and 20 in the House (255-175). As this issue goes to print, the senatorial race in Minessota is still contested. Five races in the House remain undecided. By no means was the outcome a landslide for the Democrats. Nevertheless, it represented the next decisive step in a nationwide shift away from Republican leadership that began when the Democrats recaptured Congress in 2006. The Democrats will now control both the White House and Congress for the first time since 1994. In the past few weeks, all eyes have shifted to President-elect Obama, who is in the process of constructing his administration. With a monster financial crisis and a new Iraqi security agreement on the agenda right in the middle of the transition, what the next eight years hold is anyone’s guess. TDI now presents a detailed wrap-up of the 2008 election, and some thoughts on the road ahead…
The Dartmouth Independent, December, 2008 - 24
So, We’ve Elected A Black Man November 4th was, understandably, an emotional night for African Americans. 40 years after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, America put a black man in the nation’s highest office. The symbolic value of this moment is astronomical, and history will remember it as a major milestone on the path to racial equality. The tangible effect it will have on race relations, however, remains to be seen. Barack Obama has an impressively diverse background, with an African-born father, white American mother, and an Indonesian stepfather, and with ties in Indonesia and the melting pots of Chicago and Honolulu. Theoretically, his ascent demonstrates to the world the universality of American opportunity—especially im-
portant in a time when America has been increasingly caricatured as a xenophobic, imperial state. Obama’s significance as a multiethnic, global figure probably trumps his other affiliations. Although he can be nominally considered African American, he was never raised in a black community or even in a black family (Obama’s father returned to Kenya when he was two years old). The son of an East African immigrant rather than a black native of the United States, he remains genealogically separate from the legacy of slavery, and his campaign underemphasized racial issues. In this sense, Obama has been described as “post-racial,” a quality which could be both good and bad for the march toward racial healing. On the one hand, his success indicates a growing American colorblindness, an essential component in widespread integration. On the other hand, Obama may owe much of his sup-
Features Election port among white Americans to the fact that he chose to make the broader issues of the economy and the War on Terror his focal point. By largely casting issues of race out of the discussion, he no doubt consolidated his support among voters who are tired of making an issue of it. But while some might declare the civil rights movement over and won, its leaders are likely to disagree. Only time will tell. –Wyatt McKean
Veep Speak As the interregnum passes and speculation abounds regarding the future members of the cabinet, Joe Biden, the man who was once at the fore of discussions about Obama’s team, has seemingly slipped under the radar. What role(s) will he play? How should Obama deploy him to successfully achieve his agenda? How involved will he be in formulating policy? Throughout George W. Bush’s eightyear presidential tenure, analysts, pundits, and all sorts of segments of the general public have relentlessly quipped about Dick Cheney’s role as policymakerin-chief. Over the course of history, however, vice presidents have played a variety of roles in their respective administrations. The example of the Kennedy administration is instructive here. Kennedy ran on a “New Frontier” platform of optimism, much like Obama’s message of change and hope. Kennedy, like Obama, compensated for questions about his youth, inexperience, and religious background by selecting a trusted, hard-nosed, veteran legislator as his running mate. In fact, Biden, when asked about his aspirations as a vice president, asserted that he would look to Lyndon Baines Johnson as a
role model. Apparently, no one told Mr. Biden that Vice President Johnson was kept far removed from the realm of presidential policy. It would be a shame if Obama wasted a resourceful ally in Biden like Kennedy did with Johnson. That’s not to say, however, that Biden should adopt a Cheney-like position within the Obama administration; rather, President-elect Obama should expansively utilize him as a top-level foreign policy advisor and Congressional armtwister (along with Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel). In terms of foreign policy, Biden’s credentials speak for themselves. Given that he was added to the ticket to quell fears about the president-elect’s executive and diplomatic inexperience, Biden’s advice on foreign policy matters should be heeded, in the same kind of closed-door meetings from which LBJ was so often excluded. Biden should also work closely as a mediator between (prospective) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama, making sure to keep everyone on the same page and exude an image of unity. Even more important, though, may be Biden’s ability to push legislation. Particularly in Obama’s first hundred days, Biden’s reserves of political capital and influence in the Senate could prove invaluable in passing Obama’s agenda through Congress. Biden’s experience on Capitol Hill, his extensive contacts, and the respect accorded to him by members of the Democratic majority will all aid him to these ends. Biden should attempt to bridge the growing divides in the party in order to further expedite the process of pushing Obama’s plans through the congressional machinery. Considering Obama’s emphasis on the “Team of Rivals” approach to governance, Biden should play the crucial role of coach. He should draw upon his background as the campaign’s political attack dog and adopt a similar strategy in Cabinet discussions, thus allowing Obama to stay above the fray and present a unified opinion from the administration. This would help the new president actualize his vision for change while maintaining his pristine image as someone uncorrupted by traditional partisan politics. –David Mainiero
Prop 8: The Land of Sin and Sushi Becomes Whole Again It is common knowledge that states with high population densities tend to be liberal, while states with large rural populations are more conservative. Every four years, the country transforms into a hulking red blob flanked by two blue stripes. With these clear visual distinctions, it is easy to forget that states are not monolithic entities. Even liberal havens like New York and California have sizable conservative minorities. The results of Proposition 8 are a testament to this political divide in California. If you ask someone from the East coast to describe California in three words, they might say, “Surfboards, sushi, and yoga.” Although this may reflect reality in SoCal and the Bay Area, California is quite a big place. My roommate from Modesto is often asked how frequently he visits San Diego. Most people are surprised to learn that this trip would take about 7 hours and is equivalent to asking a Dartmouth student if they visit Philadelphia on the weekends. California’s vastness also means it is also far from being homogenous. Although you have probably seen that odd commercial about California cows being happy, most people probably associate California more with high-profile Silicon Valley tech firms and Hollywood studios than with its farms (the state is the largest agricultural producer in the country). If we keep in mind that nearly onethird of California’s area is taken up by farming communities, it should not be surprising that California is politically divided along the same geographical boundaries as the rest of the country, with a liberal coast and a vast, conservative interior. Here, the all-too-familiar battle between metropolitan liberals and rural conservatives plays out for us in microcosm on the state level. What makes aspect of Proposition 8 unique, though, is that now no one 25 - The Dartmouth Independent, December, 2008
By Emily Mirengoff
I am encircled by the music. The low hum of female bass, stretched too deep The carefully jazzy alto, the high, clear chords, showing me the way. They nudge me along, easing the waters and I take the dive, letting the sound swim free.
My laser eyes skim the audience, scanning For the one, the only— There. He did make it. But he’s left behind That shy half-smile The gaze that makes me float on air.
Sound gushes out of my mouth Crying out, begging, pushing the throat and body The swirl of notes swells, but it’s really all about The shifting in the seat, The turning of the head Murmuring with another girl in low, smiling tones.
One last, long thrust of force The note howls in the air, lingering I am submerged, sunk too low. The bass to my left winces at the strain. She mouths, “Flat.” My efforts do indeed fall under the pitch.
The Dartmouth Independent, December, 2008 - 26
knows if it will actually go into effect. Currently, state constitutional experts are debating whether the California Supreme Court will allow it to become law. Although Proposition 8 clearly states, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California,” the state Supreme Court was the body that initially determined that marriage was a right that could not be denied to gay individuals. The body will now look again into whether even a popular majority can ban gay marriage, in a classic example of democracy versus technocracy. There is always a bitter taste, when the government goes against the direct wishes of its people, even to this socially liberal writer. On the other hand, one of the main purposes of a constitution and the Supreme Court is to protect the rights of the minority. Hopefully, in the not too distant future, it will be the majority, not just seven judges, working for this cause. –Josh Mirkin
The Presidential Posse and the Magical Mystery Cabinet Recently, a top aide to Obama remarked that the president-elect would have his entire cabinet selected by Christmas time. Thus far, Obama has nominated a handful of individuals for cabinet positions. However, these appointments are subject to Senate confirmation, and therefore not yet set in stone. For Secretary of State, Obama has indicated that he will nominate Hillary Clinton, whose appointment is to be made official in the coming days. Clinton, known for her dogged perseverance and somewhat hawkish tendencies, will certainly be influential in the Obama administration. More spe-
cifically, she will aid in shielding Obama from accusations that he is “too weak to fight” will inevitably be hurled at him from the right wing. Interestingly, prior to announcing his choice of Clinton, Obama had several consultations with President George H.W. Bush’s foremost advisor, Brent Scowcroft, who shares a widely common ideology with Clinton, leading some to speculate that in voting for Obama, Americans have traded the foreign policy of the second George Bush for that of the first. Whether or not that is the case, there can be little doubt that between a Republican Secretary of Defense, a relatively militant Secretary of State, and repeated assurances that Mr. Obama is “not against all wars,” America will witness a much less benign international policy than we are accustomed to seeing from Democrats. Timothy Geithner (Dartmouth ’83), president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, was officially named last month to head the Treasury Department, making him Obama’s “point man” in dealing with the economic crisis. Geithner has extensive experience with the Treasury Department, where he spent 13 years before becoming the undersecretary for international affairs at treasury in the late years of the Clinton administration. He has been widely praised as an intelligent, novel thinker whose work managing the current financial crisis makes him as much of a bailout expert as one could be. It was Geithner, for example, and not current Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson, who orchestrated the rescue plan for the American International Group. In all, Geithner is a sensible pick by Obama, one who brings a great deal of eloquence experience, and innovation to the table. Particularly surprising was Obama’s request that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, a former CIA officer and later director and a political moderate in the Bush Cabinet, retain his office for another year. Gates, who replaced the combative Donald Rumsfeld in 2006, has maintained a low-key-yet-focused military policy in Iraq and Afghanistan. Gates is, as of now, the only Republican voice in the Obama Cabinet, and a
meager one at that. Although Gates is nothing too special, he has managed over the last couple of years to sweep up some of Rumsfeld’s mess, including the remarkable shortage of troops in Iraq, a tattered US image abroad, and an excessively aggressive foreign policy. The appointment of Gates was an apt political move by Obama, as it will certainly help appease national security fanatics, frantic over the threat of terrorism and others. Similarly, the relative plethora of commonalities between Obama and his appointee, including their mutual support for troop reduction in Iraq and restoration of US soft power, will make for a healthy, synergistic, military policy with Obama safely at the helm. The most interesting story of the Obama cabinet is its apparent non-partisan military policy. With retired General James Jones, the former top operational commander of NATO and a widely acclaimed centrist leader, hovering at the top of the short list for National Security Advisor, this cabinet is revving up to put the debilitating altercations of the Bush administration in the past. With the exception of Clinton’s occasional intransigence, the national security team assembled by Obama has a nearly unprecedented level of experience and potential for collaboration, which might help jump-start the now sluggish US military policy. However, most important will be their ability, unlike their immediate predecessors, to eschew military incursions in favor of diplomacy. The recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, provide ample opportunity to settle the widening divide between Pakistan, who India blames for the devastation, and the United States. Paramount to ensuring the overall well-being of America’s military policy will be to avoid alienating either Pakistan or India, both of which play integral roles in the projection of US power worldwide. In the case of Pakistan, a hasty resort to accusations will serve only to enhance our strategic quagmire in Afghanistan. Similarly India, the only real Asian counterbalance to China and a booming investment opportunity, will look to the United States for support in the pursuit of its own war on terror. To marginalize India in this critical time would be to shut
ourselves out of tremendous economic opportunities. Enter Clinton. With her unflappable, albeit occasionally gratuitous, persistence in diplomacy, in combination with a moderate and prudent military policy, the United States might find itself, once again, a great and respected nation. –Joel Butterly
Packing their Bags, and Looking Ahead Oh where, oh where do the Republicans go from here? The GOP will enter 2009 under the auspices of a Democratic president and a shrunken minority in both houses of Congress. Their twelve-year reign over Capitol Hill ended in 2006, and an overwhelming number of Americans view the last eight years of leadership in the White House as a disaster. A spiraling economy and an unpopular war stacked tremendous odds against the party in the 2008 races, and the outcome surprised no one. Shouldering the preponderance of the blame for the country’s current woes, the Republicans lack the authority to speak of repair and reform. Secondly, they lack a unified, coherent strategy on how to achieve these things. Finally, they lack a powerful personality to serve as a vehicle for their agenda and unify the party. In many respects, their prospects look as bleak as the Democrats’ in 2004. Even before the election was over, many in the GOP looked to Sarah Palin as the answer to their leadership crisis. On the campaign trail, she drew enormous (and at times vulgar and hateful) crowds of evangelicals, who have served as the Republicans’ bread-and-butter since the Reagan years. Her lack of education, her flimsy credentials as a statesman, her small-town background, and her simple, unrefined style charmed this sympathetic contingent of conservative America, but her few others. Republicans need to abandon the evangelical demographic as their primary focus if they ever want to achieve broad
appeal again. With issues like the economy foremost in voters’ minds, the election was clearly to be decided by independents. The McCain team spent too much of its energy pandering to social conservatives, abandoning what could have been an attractive libertarian platform in favor of a traditional approach that played to the interests of their most faithful supporters. By shifting to the right on social issues and adding Gov. Palin to the ticket, John McCain alienated moderates and drove away independent voters. In doing so, the Republicans inadvertently proved that it is impossible to win an election by controlling the evangelical vote alone. All Americans, regardless of political affiliation, should be relieved. The big issues of the 21st century will not be abortion, gay marriage, intelligent design, or sex education. This is not because these issues don’t still matter to many Americans. But given the current threats a rising China and a resurgent Russia, global warming, economic uncertainty, and others, it would be foolish—perhaps suicidal—to let the fabled “values voter” dictate the national agenda. Culture wars make for entertaining political fare in times when the economy is booming and the nation enjoys unrivaled power and international prestige, but when our supremacy is being eroded at its roots, there are far better ways to spend our political capital than to debate the precise moment at which “life” begins. Unfortunately for the Karl Rove-era GOP, most Americans have adjusted their priorities accordingly. The party needs to follow the public here, or they will remain marginalized and out-of-touch. For now, their rivals are riding high on the waves from the Republicans’ own failure, and their exuberant proclamations of “change” could still end in disaster. The next four years may give the GOP ample opportunity to develop a concrete platform or economic and diplomatic recovery to serve as an appealing alternative to the Democrats’. They need to seize it. –Wyatt McKean
27 - The Dartmouth Independent, December, 2008
You’re an Idiot: ( Jeanne Shaheen
ou win. Okay? Happy? Seriously – don’t let it go to your head. After all, your musk of incompetence had even the most loyal New Hampshire Democrats holding their noses while voting for you, or, out of sheer spite, casting ballots for a guy whose primary campaign commercial emphasized his physical fitness. You are an idiot, and so is anyone so blinded by the veil of partisanship or wrapped up in Obama’s coattails to like you. Your ability to recite Democratic talking points is certainly impressive, and an inspiration to idiots everywhere. Now, children across the country can look to your example and know that they, too, can travel the path from governor to hot-shot professor to senator without ever thinking. Aspiring politicians can sleep soundly knowing that their actual performance in such capacities is of absolutely no consequence: how else could a governor widely regarded as a failure make it onto a vice presidential short-list, earn a fellowship at the Harvard Institute of Politics, and clobber a fairly popular incumbent senator? You blamed your loss in the 2002 senatorial race on the fact that “there was a lot of discussion about the job that I did as governor.” Wow. That was a campaign strategy that caught you by surprise, huh? One might wonder, then, how you expected to win this time around, when many (15, according to Sununu) of the newspapers that previously supported you moved into the Sununu camp. Luckily, the Concord Monitor teased out the answer: that you adamantly believed this election to have nothing to do with you and everything to do with your opponent (“This is about what he’s done— or failed to do—over the last six years”). Comforting. You’re so cute when you run circles around yourself: “This race is going to be about Jeanne Shaheen, but it’s going to be about John Sununu.” It’s a good thing you got the voters to The Dartmouth Independent, December, 2008 - 28
“Children across the country can look to your example and know that they, too, can become senators without ever thinking.” agree with you. After all, a campaign that focused on substance may have meant the end of you. Take, for instance, your views on Social Security: “Social Security is not in crisis.” Really? That’s really your position? No wonder the DNC never let you break ranks with Obama. When asked to explain your main ideological differences with your party’s presidential nominee, you spouted off something about the specifics of healthcare reform. When a panelist pressed you on this in the next debate, you rambled for over a minute about the need to make healthcare more affordable before the panelist interrupted, “So, that all sounds to me like the same kind of initiatives being put forth by Senator Obama. Are there ways you would disagree with his plan?” Your response? “I haven’t studied Senator Obama’s plan, all of the details. But I do support the goals of his plan…a goal of providing affordable healthcare for all Americans.” Well played, Shaheen. You’d think such a close alignment with your party would have its disadvantages in a state that values independent thinking and often seems more libertarian than liberal. But substance never mattered in this campaign. After spending weeks blaming Sununu and the Republicans for the economic crisis, you were left virtually speechless every time he pointed out that he drafted a bill in the mid-90s that would have increased regulation over Fannie Mae and Wall Street. You tried desperately to pin Iraq and Bush’s War on Terror policies on your opponent when you supported
them yourself. One exchange in your final debate with Sununu pretty much sums it up: Sununu: “In 2003, I led the effort to defeat a Republican energy bill that was bad for our environment and spent too much money. In 2005, I led the effort to stop the PATRIOT Act until we could do a better job of protecting personal freedom and civil liberties. Jeanne, can you give an example of a national issue where you opposed the leadership of your party and won?” You: “Sure. When I was governor and President Clinton issued his call to allow roadless areas to be left for timbering, I spoke out against President Clinton. I sent a letter expressing my concern about that and said that that was against what we had determined in New Hampshire to be correct, that we had a local planning process that was important for us in making sure the White Mountain forests were taken care of in a way that was important to our local decision-making. While he continued to issue that, the fact is that we have a plan in place on those roadless areas and we are continuing to allow timbering in the White Mountains.” No one knows what you’re talking about, Jeanne. This election cycle spotlighted the “maverick” mentality; your biggest campaign issue was that your opponent voted with his party too often. This was the most obvious question, ever. Yet, what I gather from your description of your most important moment as a leader is that you either won or lost the battle to either allow or prevent timbering in roadless areas. I am as hopeful as anyone that Obama’s election will usher in a new era of politics—an era defined by the informed, reasonable, independent-minded voter. Watching the people of New Hampshire line up so blindly behind you, however, doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. –Jamie Berk
The Emperor’s New Clothes
How the Olympics exposed the problems of China’s outdated economy By Sasha Prokhorova
or the past two decades, China has seen incredible economic growth, with a nearly steady ten percent annual increase in GDP. So when, last week, Forbes predicted its growth to slip to 5.8%, the world took notice. Contrary to what their governments had believed, the BRIC countries’ (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) past performance would not create a buffer against the worldwide economic crisis. In today’s intertwined economy, the reality for these nations is grim and unfriendly: once the so-called “leader” goes down, so too will many of the soldiers. While studying in Harbin (a major city in northeast China) this summer, I heard many Chinese lamenting over the Beijing Olympics. Although they were undoubtedly excited about the global audience watching their country put on a spectacle, some expressed concern over what they perceived to be an unwise allocation of resources: massive funding to the Games
and barely any to address pertinent social issues like healthcare, education, and the urban-rural divide. Many found the $40 billion investment in the Games excessive,
“Now, with its world reputation already in serious trouble, the Chinese government is scrambling to prove to its own people that it can reform.” wishing instead for a more pragmatic approach. Indeed, rather than attempting to change the world’s perceptions of China with one event, the government should have used the money to create real change. Because it was so narrowly focused on making Beijing look pretty this summer, the Chinese Communist Party neglected the rest of the country, allowing much of it
to continue to rust and decay from the pollution of heavy industry. Then the economic crisis hit. Still in a state of post-Olympic shock, China could not have been more poorly equipped to deal with it. As the all-important export sector reeled, the dire situation of Chinese industry came into focus. The dilapidated state of the rural Chinese, left hidden by the Games, became clearer. Now, the rest of the world is beginning to see that the Games were even more of a spectacle than they had realized—a grand attempt to mask the country’s incompliance and loose standards. China had its fifteen minutes, but is no longer able to conceal from the international community its true identity as a low-level manufacturing country that produces goods of questionable quality. And as long as China continues to pursue international prowess at the expense of solving its domestic issues, it will remain outside the global system of power—nagging for inclusion on the basis of its unavoidable
29 - The Dartmouth Independent, December, 2008
largesse and potential, but constantly repelled as a backwards exporter of contaminated toothpaste. China finds itself at a crossroads: its ability to emerge as a world power is clear, yet seriously limited by the Communist Party’s inefficiency. While the Games temporarily boosted China’s reputation, the after-party didn’t last long. Now, with its world reputation already in serious trouble, the Chinese government is scrambling to prove to its own people that it can reform the country in a positive manner. To offset the economic crisis, the government recently approved a stimulus package that focuses on promoting the internal development of infrastructure and housing (both of which are seriously lacking). In the days following Beijing’s announcement of the initiative, Asian markets jumped, primarily in the technology and construction sectors. But the shortcomings of the package are starting to become apparent: an infusion of cash cannot offset the slowdown in demand for exports, and as the Financial Times has pointed out, the Chinese domestic market isn’t strong or large enough to offset these declines either. While still in China this summer, I remember discussing the need for the Chinese manufacturing sector to become more robust and complex. A move in that direction would involve manufacturing more sophisticated items—computer parts and automobiles instead of pens and toys. Higher-quality manufactured goods mean a more capable work force, which is why some give the edge to India in long-term predictions of growth and competitiveness. Therefore, a technically skilled labor force ought to be a primary goal of the Chinese stimulus package. The government should offer incentives for companies with more complex production goals. Additionally, this transformation should prioritize improvements in the accessibility and quality of the healthcare and education systems, while also allowing for
increased internal spending. The Olympics showed that China is capable of mobilizing to do nearly anything, even in the face of great challenges. Now, the government needs to start abandoning its old systems of thinking, replacing its stale doctrines with greater flexibility. The model of the past twenty years—promoting exports instead of internal consumption—is now completely outdated. It’s little wonder that the country finds its state of internal development severely deficient. While the rest of the world suffers through the economic turbulence, China has the chance to use it as an opportunity. The crisis has taught us that we have globalized to the point where any hiccup in one of the major world economies can significantly affect the rest of the world. Country-specific corrections like housing bubbles have become decidedly international in nature. As many countries start to look inward for the next few years, China should, too. It has spent decades trying to prove itself to the world. Now, the Communist Party of China has a chance to show to the Chinese people that it can keep its nation’s interests at heart and foster internal confidence worthy of a global economic power.
The Dartmouth Independent, December, 2008 - 30
Builders, St. Paul’s Cathedral By Olivia Snyder-Spak
Their nails, scraped to the quick, dig into the chalky layers of bricks, scratching at corners until they bleed thick, black blood that marks only their footsteps in the dust.
They march on, dragging their bodies, and those ancient blue boulders across thorny, dead earth that rakes fresh trails in their heels.
But still their bones tread on, as if their souls existed: as if they truly knew Truth as Truth was named or anything at all beyond what can be held and stained by so human a hand.
Watch them pulling at crumbling burdens, as if they could really live to see that rock piled upon another and another and still another, until after three lifetimes of fingerless men, their blood becomes what, what holds this cathedral together.
When they go home, these beaten men, and bow their heads as they were raised, do they kneel, praying through clasped hands, or do they see only those blue nailed remains?
hrysanthemum Hillsdale. What to say about Chrysanthemum Hillsdale? Well, first of all, I forgot that her real name is Chrysanthemum, since I had decided to call her Chrissy for the course of the school year. But then, maybe the name says it all: born to a set of well-to-do Generation Y-ers who want to distinguish their bright little prodigy with a name “as special as she is”. Yes, the name is symbolic of the problem: seven-year-old Chrissy has been taught that she is to be a hybrid of Grace Kelly, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Oprah, with a touch of Paris Hilton for spice. I’m all for positive encouragement, but there’s a fine line between “encouraging” kids and telling them that their spitup is a work of art. Of course, Chrissy’s parents aren’t the only ones who seem to struggle with that distinction in Potomac, Maryland—a town whose residents include Michael Jordan, Wolf Blitzer, and the Vice President of Nigeria. Potomac: where the kids wear pleated skirts and ties before puberty; where they are force-fed French vocabulary words before they can walk; where their parents must fill out pages and pages of applications and pay tens of thousands of dollars a year just for the privilege of being taught by the likes of me and my colleagues. I glance out the window of my colorful classroom at Chrissy, who is apparently taking advantage of the half-hour recess to boss her peers around. Her mouth is widely and unattractively open, her finger pointing firmly in the direction of another girl, to whom she seems to be issuing instructions. Damn. If that girl doesn’t shape up, they will need Lindsay Lohan to portray her in “Mean Girls: The Bitch is Back.” I consider the report card in front of me, then type: Chrysanthemum is a talented young writer and very comfortable with numbers and arithmetic. She is having trouble with her peers due to her domineering personality. Shit, that won’t fly at all. I delete
“domineering” and replace it with “forceful”, but I still feel a bit uneasy. Technically, we aren’t actually supposed to write anything negative in these report cards, lest Richie Rich and his wife decide that The Westmoreland School is unworthy of their millions. But it would be all right— “forceful” would probably just be perceived as a compliment by the Hillsdales, and besides, I have some job security. I lean back in my swivel chair, check
By Emily Mirengoff
the time on my laptop, and take a swig of coffee. Twenty more minutes of recess; I might be able to finish the remaining report cards before the end of the day, leaving me free to actually enjoy the evening, which is rare. I’ve been too bogged down in coursework the last few nights to go out, and Jack has started to bitch about my recent absences at the bar. But he and the guys know how important it is that I finally get my Ph.D. in early childhood education, so they won’t give me too hard a time. I’ll have to make sure I see them soon. I hate that they’re having fun without me. And if I’m not careful, they’ll find a girl to replace me as their “token chick”, and then when I come back, she’ll try to exclude me—or worse, befriend me—and either way I’ll have to get rid of her, which is just all kinds of unnecessary trouble. I wrap up my notes for Chrissy’s report card and consider the next one in my
stack. Robby Schuster IV, a sweet but terribly shy little boy, who, upon being greeted in the hallway by Headmaster Talpot, aka Headmaster Sexpot, burst into tears. But Headmaster Sexpot, with his low, soothing voice and gentle manner, managed to calm him down pretty effectively. It’s wonderful that Headmaster Sexpot is so good at relating to kids, but in a way, it also seems like a waste. I mean, if he wasn’t a prepschool headmaster, the man would almost certainly have been an underwear model. It’s a bit of a shame that he’s my boss. Dating your superiors, I’ve noticed, is considered unadvisable—with good reason. After all, the last time I dated my boss—well, technically, he was my thesis advisor and professor—it was an unmitigated disaster… Just as I was mentally picturing Darrien Sexpot’s naked body, little Simon Argote ran into my classroom, and I snapped to attention. “Hi, Simon! What are you doing here? Recess isn’t over for another fifteen minutes!” I cross the room to greet him, looking directly into his eyes so he knows he has my full attention. He frowns at me, and I notice that his cheeks are tear-stained. He points to his knee, which is scraped and oozing a solitary drop of blood. “I fell.” “Oh, Simon,” I sigh, but I feel bad for him. I stride over to the sink and wet a paper by the sink, where he meets me so that I can daub his knee with it. As I pat it at gently, I ask, “What were you playing?” “Four square.” He pauses. “Can I stay in here with you?” “Why would you want to do that? It’s so nice and sunny out! And you still have plenty of time to start a new game.” I whip out the Neosporin that I keep in my pocket and apply some over the open part of the cut. “I want to stay in here with you. You’re nice. You’re nicer than Mommy. You’re nice, and you’re funny.” Aw, shit. Simon’s mom is a worldclass bitch—a cold, arrogant gold-digger who stared down her nose at me all through the last parent-teacher conference, while her husband stared at my tits—but 31 - The Dartmouth Independent, December, 2008
it’s a shame that he’s already figured out the truth about his parents at the ripe age of six. “Oh, Simon, I’m not nicer than your Mommy. I’m not nice at all.” Simon smiles, revealing buckteeth. “See? You’re funny!” This makes me smile, and, as I press a band-aid on to his cut, I say, “Simon, I know you don’t want to stay in here and watch me do paperwork. I’m very boring. Look.” I point out the window facing the blacktop again. “Nate is just sitting all by himself. Why don’t you ask him to kick around the soccer ball with you? It would be good practice for your next game.” Simon’s bitchy mother forces him to participate in a little-league soccer team, hoping to prove that she’s birthed the next fucking David Beckham or something. Simon smiles again. “Okay.” I pat him on the back just before he runs out the classroom door. “Bye, squirt.” Later that afternoon, after all my first-graders have all gone home for the day, I’ve got another unfinished report card in front of me but I’m still thinking of Simon. Does he even like soccer? Why is his mother so determined to make him a soccer player? What the hell is so great about soccer players, anyway? My cell phone rings, and, still-half thinking about my little pupil, I pick up the phone without checking the name of the caller. “Hello?” “Angelina.” The voice on the other end is sharp and completely unwelcome. “You picked up.” “So it would seem.” “Haven’t you gotten my messages?” “Yes, Isabelle. All of five of them.” “You never called me back,” my sister shouted, her tone warning me of an impending rant. “I wanted to talk to you!” “Yeah, somewhere around the fifth message I figured that out.” “Mom wants to talk to you.” Now Isabelle sounded self-important. “She needs to talk to you.” “How unfortunate for her.” I pause, flicking some lint off of my sweater. “I was curious, how did you get this number?” She ignores me. When she speaks again, she has intentionally cut the harshness The Dartmouth Independent, December, 2008 - 32
from her voice, for dramatic effect. “Angelina. Mom is dying. And she wants to talk to you. ”This stops me. I am silent for a moment, processing. “Hello? Angelina? Mom has something to say to you!” I snap out of it. “What? Is she sad because it’s her last chance to tell me how I’m a slutty whore who has ruined her life and will never amount to anything? You can tell her that I’ve already gotten the message.” Isabelle lets out a growl of frustration. “For Christ’s sake, Angelina, can you please stop being such a selfish bitch for once in your life? Your mother wants to talk to you!” “Tell her she should have thought of that before she stopped talking to me.” “How can you possibly blame her? You’re the one who was so difficult. You could never just work hard at school and stay out of trouble. Always outside, on the streets, in the parks, running wild, with all those boys, you went out of your way to make Mom miserable—” I laugh. “Yes, Isabelle, everything I did was with the sole intent of tormenting Mom. Every word I’ve said, every little thing I’ve ever done, it’s always been with the idea, gee, I wonder how can I upset Mom today?” “You’re an embarrassment to the whole family!” Isabelle shrieked hysterically into the phone. “The way you got pregnant and ran off with that Jensen boy, you ruined everything!” I glare at the wall ahead of me. “Go get yourself laid, you frigid bitch,” I retort, disgust and cruelty pronounced in each syllable. And with that, I snap my phone shut and slam it on the table. “Am I interrupting?” I look up, and there, in my doorway, is Headmaster Sexpot. “No, why?” My eyes are wide and innocent. He grins back at me, but there’s a trace of concern in his eyes. “I thought I heard you on the phone. You sounded a bit tense.” “Nope, that was nothing.” I smile charmingly up at him from my desk. “I do feel a little tension, though. In my back.” I blink up at him, still smiling, a suggestion in my eyes. “Do you?” He walks over to my desk and places his hands on my back, rubbing his thumbs on my shoulder blade for a moment. “We’ll have to fix that this evening.”
“That would be great, Darrien,” I murmur, turning my head down and to the side so that my cheeks, my lips brush against his hand, which is still resting on my shoulder. “Don’t you mean Headmaster Sexpot?” he smirks. He’s been enchanted with his nickname ever since I confided it to him. “Are you almost ready to go, Ange?” “Yeah, could you just give me a second?” As he walks out from behind my desk, I review the last words that I have typed, before Isabitch called: Melissa is a very diligent student, but sometimes she works too hard and stresses herself out. She doesn’t seem to understand the importance of balancing work and play. My mind flashes to an image of Melissa, a slightly chubby little brunette, sitting at her desk, her feet dangling over the edge of her chair, one hand pressed against her forehead, and the other squeezing her pencil in her fat fist. Her face screwed up with concentration, her head clearly aching, incapable of enjoying herself until her “a” is perfectly curved, the cross on her “t” completely even in her letter-tracing book. The little girl who frequently elects to spend her recess in the school library, reading and rereading the children’s books until she can glide from one sentence seamlessly onto the next without struggling. She can’t play, can’t have fun, can’t relax, even for a moment. In my mind, Melissa’s dark brown hair starts to turn blond and her pudgy little body grows longer and slimmer—a more delicate, graceful little seven-year-old sits in her place, eyeing me with a familiar, hate-filled glare, the one I know from my own childhood. “You’re an embarrassment to the whole family,” she says, her cruel, adult voice incongruous with her childish body. “The way you got pregnant and ran off with that Jensen boy—” I blink, and she vanishes. “Yeah, I’m ready,” I say. I save my document, turn off my computer, throw on my jacket and grab my bag. Darrien smiles at me and sticks out his hand. I look up at him, my handsome boss with his twinkling brown eyes. We walk out of my classroom, to the playground, hand in hand. School’s out.
Breaking: TheTurf By Jamie Berk
John Legend makes a run for the mainstream By David Mainiero
n the run-up to his third studio album, Evolver, John Legend made no secret of its commercialism. After his first two albums, Get Lifted and Once Again – albums which, I must admit, are responsible for over 65% of my “Most Played” songs on iTunes – Legend decided to turn up the tempo and make a run for the clubs and Top 40 radio. As Andre 3000 explains in the fading moments of “Green Light,” “Sometimes you gotta step from behind that piano and let em know what’s goin on / Even Stevie Wonder got down sometimes.” In anticipation of the release, Legend made the rounds touting the album and pre-released what felt like half a dozen singles. Unfortunately, the album ends up being difficult to distinguish from the hype surrounding it. Legend’s raw talent as a vocalist is never in question, and even occasionally manages to distract from the systematic replacement of his signature piano plunking with electronic riff-raff. But the hooks are forced, and the lyrics often hokey. Those who will inevitably praise the effort as an attempt to branch out and appeal to new audiences should take a moment to wonder about the expense at which such “innovation” comes. To be sure, it would be a mistake to dismiss the album completely. “This Time,”
“Good Morning,” and “Floating Away,” though a far cry from Once Again’s masterful “Coming Home,” do a decent job of carrying the mantle of the “Legend Ballad.” Meanwhile, Legend’s flirtation with reggae in “No Other Love” holds up fairly well (though the same cannot be said of the atrocious “Afroganic” remix of “Green Light”). The auto-tuned “Green Light” is a respectable attempt at a club hit, though I wouldn’t have protested if Get Lifted’s “Number One” was the farthest he ever veered in this direction. Even when Legend is busy doing his best Timbaland impression by drowning out his melodies with Vocoders and synths, it’s hard not to step back and appreciate the breadth of sounds with which he’s experimenting. But as a whole, despite its flashes of brilliance and my infinite admiration for Legend’s talents, I can’t say that Evolver comes anywhere close to Get Lifted or Once Again. The album may represent a new direction for Legend, but it’s hard to call it an evolution. Its obligatory Obama tongue bath, “If You’re Out There,” offers some reason for hope, though: he hasn’t lost it, and his piano-flecked ballads will return soon enough. He’s not Stevie Wonder, but, despite this detour, he may be the closest thing we’ve got.
Who: Two sons of Jimmy Buffett bandmates hooked up with their high school buds to form young Nashville foursome the Turf in 2006. According to frontman Brendan Mayer, the band’s goal is simple: to make people dance. Though the group’s up-tempo dance anthems bear little resemblance to Buffett’s chilled-out tropical vacation-pop, Buffett’s get-away-from-it-all attitude figures prominently in the band’s ideals. “I was always a shy kid,” explains Mayer, who remembers only being allowed to listen to Buffett when his dad was away on tour. “The party scene made it easier to talk to people. Everyone kind of becomes equal on that level.” Sounds Like: Though their debut EP What Up Tambourine couldn’t be much less chilledout, the Strokes-style guitar effects the band combines with Arctic Monkeys dance-rock riffs and billowy Coldplay choruses are actually a little tropical (think “Reptilia”). “I did not want to sound like a Strokes cover band,” says the 18-year-old Mayer, who tears up at the sound of Paul McCartney’s voice. “It’s like, what’s wrong with my vocal talent that you need to mask it in distortion?” The band just finished recording their first full-length album Fascination of a Sort at the famous Muscle Shoals studios. “We wanted to have that kind of vintage, classic album vibe to it,” says Mayer. Found It On: The Turf has become a mainstay of the Nashville club scene, often playing storied venues like 3rd and Lindsley, the Exit/In and Grimey’s (“They didn’t know we were under 21, so they almost didn’t let us play,” recalls Mayer). What’s next? “We’re all gonna go to school this fall.” Mayer smirks. “Unless something huge happens.” 33 - The Dartmouth Independent, December, 2008
Quantum of Solace Too much shake, not enough stir
By Peter Stein
s Roger Ebert noted, James Bond is not an action hero. Nor, I might add, is he the brooding, wounded, sexually disinterested killer we find in “Quantum of Solace”; rather, Bond is the definition of elegance, masculinity, and cool. If a Rolex could walk and talk, it would behave something like 007. It is an unpardonable offense to place James Bond in the driver’s seat of a Ford Hybrid. Simply inexcusable. This odious image embodies the film’s fundamental problem: the filmmakers are so concerned with reshaping and reinvigorating the Bond franchise that they decidedly ignore the canon. But since they don’t want to completely divorce the latest installment from its history, the tenor of the film vacillates wildly between the “new” Bond image and 007’s cinematic tradition. The Sean Connery Bond films are more or less cartoons. Sean Connery created a debonair 007, parading around in brilliant suits, sleeping with gorgeous women, and being generally charming. The plot tended to revolve around some crackpot scientist’s wet dream, and the villains were incontrovertibly evil caricatures. These films were goofy, they were innocent, and they were fun. Contemporary producers seem to think that a modern Bond needs the edge, grit, and pathos of Jason Bourne or Bruce Wayne. He needs to be a take-noprisoners loose cannon, hell-bent on revenge, fighting like tomorrow never dies. “Casino Royale” was successful because director Martin Campbell managed to meld the new and the old with grace and style. Marc Forster—director of “Quantum The Dartmouth Independent, December, 2008 - 34
of Solace”—is not nearly as successful. “Quantum” begins with a breakneck car chase through the Italian countryside, Bond (Daniel Craig) at the wheel, Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) in the trunk, and gunmen in tow—as always. The events of “Casino Royale” have left James emotionally distraught. In “Quantum”, Bond seeks vengeance for Vesper Lynd’s (Eva Green) death by pursuing the Al Gore-gone-rogue evildoer, Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), and the SPECTRE-esque organization, Quantum, who were responsible for Lynd’s death. The film’s narrative unfolds with all the style of a pair of crocs. The plot is ambitious, but moves so quickly that most audiences will probably get lost. Characters are introduced with almost no exposition and killed off just as quickly. In fact, the first thirty minutes feature Bond entering rooms and killing whatever is in there for no apparent reason—several times. What’s more, old Bond conventions—like the shamelessly imperialistic CIA agent, Gregg Beam (David Harbour), and the Bolivian hotel constructed on a foundation of unstable explosive canisters—are out of place because Bond’s characteristic élan is smothered by several sloppy action scenes. The action is almost entirely incomprehensible. I don’t think I’d be remiss in suggesting that Marc Forster simply threw the camera around the set and prayed that the footage would be usable. It wasn’t, but undeterred, Forster slapped it together. The result is a slipshod, hyper-kinetic fren-
zy without clear geography. In particular, one scene involving a speedboat violates all the precepts of space and time as boats and men pop into and out of existence, tunneling through the fabric of reality with reckless abandon. There are admittedly a few fantastic shots that pepper the film, but, overall, the action is uninspired. When the lackluster action is not attacking the senses, the cliché melodrama induces cerebral hemorrhaging. There is nothing wrong with infusing James Bond with some psychological complexity. But when Mr. Bond’s internal struggles are written as poorly as they are here, this attempted complexity sullies the film. Perhaps the filmmakers are trying to bridge the gap between these new prequel films and the classics, showing the psychological strife Bond underwent in his early years as 007. In any case, “Quantum of Solace” falls flat. Bond’s dilemma is as contrived as Camille’s (Olga Kurylenko) history is laughable. Daniel Craig does everything in his power to make it work, but his emotional displays are written and conceived so terribly that no thespian could make these scenes anything more than tolerable. I seriously doubt that anyone could make a revenge-driven Bond compelling. James Bond is a hero, and the filmmakers would do well to remember that he fights for the crown, not petty personal struggles.
PETALS Photograph by Velizara Passajova
Around The Ivy League Lost 10-0 to Harvard in The Game. Head Football Coach Jack Siedlecki resigned after 12 years and overall 70-47 record, prompting Dartmouth students everywhere to wonder what Buddy Teevens needs to do to get fired. Yale Precision Marching Band—famous for its intentional incompetence—suspended for displaying a profanity-laden Berlin Wall replica, intended to depict Harvard as the Evil Communist Empire, during halftime; unclear whether anyone got the reference anyway; unclear whether Evil Empire Harvard retaliated with H-Bombs. Yale Daily News made dozens of references to Elis and Cantabs, no one outside of Yale and Harvard had any idea what they were talking about. YDN reported that “City debates Tweed overhaul.”
Brown Daily Herald published most revelatory headline of the year: “Obama’s election has big implications for country, professors agree in panel.” List Art Center basement caught fire, front door got riddled with bullet points. The Office’s Jim returned to alma mater, inexplicably asked to critique theater department performance of The Dying Gaul; pointed out that he really just knows how to make funny faces. Undergraduate Council of Students voted to abolish pre-requisites, any remaining vestige of standardized curriculum. Still shares name with color.
announced shortening of Fall 2009 reading period from three days to one, much sanctimonious whining ensued. Columbia Students for Animal Protection argued Thanksgiving “gets more attention than it deserves,” changed zero people’s minds but won favor with turkey lobby. Columbia Spectator led with corny fiction article about respecting grandparents and appreciating small sums of money, because one day they may magically turn into large sums of money. Spectator’s Classifieds opened with “Spotlight
Featured Ad” offering “Medical Spanish, All levels/ages” for $35/hr. Spectator article titled “Crazy Little Thing Called Self-Love” not about what you think it is. Possibly losing even more Penn sports games than us. President gave $100,000 gift to the college in order to aid undergraduate research (or silence criticism in the aftermath of The Chronicle of Higher Education’s survey of presidential paychecks). Paid president way too much. Alum stole sum equal to President’s gift from some innocent people…and their identities. Still insist they aren’t Penn State. Managed to ruin their only fun event of the year by Harvard “overcrowding” the pre-game pep rally concert; many frowny faces exchanged over fact that even Girl Talk can’t make a night at Harvard fun. Massive endowment grew 8.6% despite economic crisis and warning from president that Harvard was not “invulnerable” to financial shocks. Yale Daily News not invited to Harvard Crimson’s party, YDN not very happy about it. Attracted a good mix of Ivy Cornell League wannabes of two varieties for the Class of 2013: those too dumb to realize that it’s different from Cornell College in Iowa and those who apply to one of their subsidiaries like the School of Industrial and Labor Relations or the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (apologies to any aspiring factory workers or farmers). Their recently employed Playboy rep tells Hef, “Girls still aren’t attractive here.” Nothing interesting has Princeton happened here since four kids in the Princeton Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) staged yet another protest featuring (almost) naked members of the group; the least they could do is show us their…protein.
-SASTER The Dartmouth’s foot found its rightful oral home on November 19th by referring to the Concord Monitor as a lesser publication. We know the D’s research department is in the midst of a rebuilding year, so we decided to help them out a little.
CONCORD MONITOR VITAL STATS • Named one of the best newspapers in America by Time magazine • Named “best small paper in America” by the Columbia Journalism Review • Awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in Photography • In 2008 alone, saw two of its alumni win Pulitzers • Summary: The Pulitzer Prize, the highest honor for newspaper journalism, is awarded in 14 categories yearly. The competitive field includes everyone from the Associated Press to the Wall Street Journal to the New York Times. In 3 of the 14 categories, journalists associated with the Concord Monitor won. “Lesser,” huh? Well, to be fair, it’s worth considering what the D did in 2008.
THE DARTMOUTH VITAL STATS • Dedicated an installment of its weekly magazine entirely to “flair” • Kept us updated on how “Students practice wide variety of religions at Dartmouth” and “Pres. search may look for College affiliations” (May 28) • Published a cartoon that referred to a student by name and proceeded to portray that student as a slanty-eyed, Chinese-hat-wearing hooker that can’t pronounce the letter “L” • Suggested that “peace and love” could be achieved if every student was forced to take a Women’s Studies class • Reported on approximately 3,987,458 panels on Greek life
Here’s to a better 2009.