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P L U S : E L E C T R I C I A N B Y D AY, A R T I S T B Y N I G H T



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Brightleaf Square, downtown Durham • 919-683-1474 • INT RODUCING DAWES DESIGN

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Odili Donald Odita, Desert Sun (detail), 2014. Acrylic on canvas. 72 x 90 inches. ©Odili Donald Odita. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

NASHER MUSEUM OF ART AT DUKE UNIVERSITY 2001 Campus Dr., Durham, NC 27705 I I 919-684-5135

Admission is always free for Duke students. 2




SEPTEMBER 2015 - VOL. 17 - ISSUE 2









How the Class of 2019’s Duke stacks up to the Class of 2016’s Duke

One of Duke’s—and America’s—most polarizing figures, Richard Nixon’s place on campus has been a moral battlefield for decades.

ONCE A PRESIDENT, ALWAYS A PRESIDENT A look back at the last five DSG presidents and how their time at the top has shaped their post-Duke careers.













A look at the end of summer in the Duke Gardens

After a little driving and a lot of eating, Towerview finally found the best sushi in Durham.

A self-proclaimed lone wolf, when Jimmie Banks’ days as a Duke electrician end, his nights as one of the campus’ most talented artists begin.

A conversation with Duke Student Government President Keizra Mecklai

ON THE COVER PHOTOGRAPH BY CARMINE PALLADINO This portrait of Richard NIxon, School of Law ‘37, hings in the Goodson Law Library on campus.




letter from the editors

towerview ’

the chronicle s news and culture magazine

EDITORS-IN-CHIEF nick martin and emma baccellieri



Khloe Kim, Alex Deckey, Jennie Xu, Han Kang, Carolyn Chang, Carmine Palladino, Melanie Park


Carleigh Stiehm Jessica Williams Han Kang


Chrissy Beck Megan Haven Julie Moore Mary Weaver

Dear readers, We could use this space to wax poetic about how being a senior makes us yearn for our younger and more vulnerable years, we could mourn the days when we actually had a West Union and a Chapel we could go inside, we could go on about how all you bright-eyed underclassmen should take advantage of your carefree youth and explore all Durham has to offer before you’re bogged down in real-world problems like searching for a job and trying to graduate. We could do that. But we’d prefer not to. It’s easy—in moments of panic—to look at our final Duke September as the beginning of the end. But it isn’t. This Fall doesn’t represent some kind of final run, at least not to us. Plenty have and will say that this is “our last goround” and that we should “enjoy it while we can.” But truth be told, college doesn’t necessarily make up the “best years of your life.” The best years of your life aren’t determined by others, no matter how much they wish they could be in your shoes again. If 2015 is the best year of your life, that’s great! We hope you go get drunk and make memories and ace all your classes; really, we do. But the best year of your life could be in 15 years, or 30, or 50. We don’t know, and you don’t know, and that’s pretty great. Either way—there’s a time for rhapsodizing about the wonder of college and getting philosophical about what might follow, and that time is called graduation. September is just the start, and this issue is part of that. Enjoy,

@TowerviewMag towerview

Towerview Magazine


Nick + Emma

Towerview is a subsidiary of The Chronicle and is published by the Duke Student Publishing Company, Inc., a non-profit corporation independent of Duke University. The opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of Duke University, its students, faculty, staff, administration or trustees. Columns, letters and cartoons represent the views of the authors. To reach The Chronicle’s editorial office at 301 Flowers Building, call (919) 684-2663 or fax (919) 684-4696. To reach The Chronicle’s business office at 103 West Union Building, call (919) 684-3811. To reach The Chronicle’s advertising office at 2022 Campus Drive, call (919) 684-3811 or fax (919) 684-8295. Contact the advertising office for information on subscriptions. Visit The Chronicle and Towerview online at ©2014 The Chronicle, Box 90858, Durham, N.C. 27708. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without the prior, written permission of the business office. Each individual is entitled to one free copy.








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Back in the day, there was an uncontested answer for the best place to spend a Spring afternoon: the Plaza. Grab a Locopop, do some reading, get plenty of quality people-watching done. But the West Union renovations have closed the thoroughfare for the past two years, and we’ve lost more than a convenient way to get from the Main Quad to the BC—we’ve lost one of Duke’s best places to see and be seen. But no need to worry, freshmen, it’ll open up when West Union does, and you can spend the next three years lounging on the swinging benches.

The Armadillo Grill




Don’t get us wrong, we’re fans of The Loop. Oreo milkshakes, mozzarella sticks—Loop, you’re great. But before the first floor of the Bryan Center had The Loop, it had the Armadillo Grill, and Duke was a better place for it. When Dillo closed in Spring 2013 (despite a student petition to keep the restaurant on campus) Duke lost its only option for Mexican food. There’s a lot to miss about the Dillo, but first on the list is the queso. We still have dreams about that liquid gold. And yeah, we know there’s another Dillo in Carrboro. But it’s just not the same.

Once upon a time, kids, our Chapel selfies were scaffolding-free.



HARRIS TEETER When we were your age, freshmen, we had just one convenient option for groceries. It was expensive, organic and it closed at 9 p.m. That’s right, Whole Foods was our only choice—sure, the hot food bar is great and there are times when a kale smoothie sounds like the perfect way to make you feel like a better person, but when it’s Whole Foods or bust, it gets old fast. Now, you have the luxury of a 24-hour Harris Teeter just blocks away from East Campus. More choices, more affordable, and there are free cookies.


west union


Bagels from Alpine. Stir fry from the Great Hall. A Chik-fil-A at the heart of West Campus. And once upon a time, before Red Mango was even a twinkling in Duke Dining’s eye, we got our frozen yogurt at Tasti D-Lite. We had all this and more, in oak-paneled rooms with high ceilings that exuded old-school class. The building has been closed for renovation for more than two years now, but the upgrade sounds like it’ll be pretty wonderful when it opens in the Spring— take advantage of it, freshmen.


6 AIR-CONDITIONING For as long as East Campus has existed, its residents have had to suffer through early Fall and late Spring without air conditioning (except the lucky, spoiled few in Bell Tower et al.) This year, however, that changed: air conditioning for all for the first time ever. All in all, a pretty great upgrade—welcome to the 21st century, East Campus!—but there was something to be said for the bonding that came from spending all your free time in the common room because your own room was too damn hot.

the rise of the glass box

A few years ago, von der Heyden Pavilion was unique on campus—not just for the amazing cream cheese brownies, but for the architecture. Vondy’s glass walls stood out from the Gothic Wonderland around them, a modern touch different from anything else on campus. Now? A glass box for the entrance to the Bryan Center. The giant glass box of Penn Pavilion. West Union is still a work in progress, but word is that it will include its very own glass box. It’s a lot. TOWERVIEW MAGAZINE






Before Richard Nixon became president—before his name became inextricably linked with American political scandal—he was a member of the Duke School of Law’s Class of 1937. But Nixon’s legacy at the school, much like his legacy in American history, has long been complicated. Even before Nixon fell from grace in the Watergate scandal, his politics made him unpopular with many at the University. After Watergate, the relationship only grew icier. Nixon’s portrait was removed from the walls of the law school in 1974, and faculty battled the administration to ensure that Duke did not become the home of Nixon’s presidential library. Last year marked two decades since Nixon’s death and four decades since he received a presidential pardon for his role in Watergate. And now, the Nixon-Duke relationship may be thawing a bit. The past five years have seen the School of Law hang Nixon’s portrait in its library once again, while law students have started an annual comedy performance called “Tricky Dick” featuring a fictionalized version of Nixon. There are still those who resist promotion of the Duke-Nixon connection. But for many, Tricky Dick is becoming an intriguing figure in Duke lore, rather than a shameful one: “an evolution of attitude toward Richard Nixon,” in the words of his youngest brother, Edward Nixon.

The Early Years The question of Nixon’s legacy at Duke began as a question of how the University would honor an alumnus who, while successful, was incredibly politically polarizing. In 1954, while serving as vice president, Nixon was invited to speak at commencement. Typically, the faculty award honorary degrees to graduation speakers—but professors balked at the idea of granting a degree to such a highly political figure, particularly a conservative one. Some specifically took issue with his involvement in the McCarthy hearings and his campaign practices, including the allegations of financial fraud levied at him during the 1952 election. It was the first time the University tried to distance itself from Nixon, and ultimately, he decided not to speak at the ceremony. When Nixon was elected president in 1968, some felt the accomplishment was worthy of recognition by Duke, prevailing campus political beliefs notwithstanding. A bipartisan group of law students raised money to commission a portrait of Nixon, which was presented to the School of Law in 1969. But others were less pleased with Nixon’s win—The Chronicle, the daily student newspaper, printed a black border the morning after the election. “A front page black border is a

newspaper’s traditional symbol of mourning,” editors wrote. “Today, after the election, The Chronicle displays it.” Nixon was re-elected in 1972 in a landslide victory. But less than a year later, he was at the center of investigations regarding the Watergate scandal. And in 1974, he became the first and only president to resign. From there, Duke’s relationship with Nixon grew more bitter. A group of students stole the Nixon portrait and hid it in the ceiling tiles of a campus elevator. When the portrait was retrieved, the University locked it in a vault for safekeeping—and did not take it out for decades.

A Question of History Nearly 30 years after the controversy over Nixon’s honorary degree, the former president sparked another heated faculty debate—this time, one that garnered national headlines and questioned Duke’s values and duties as an institution. In the summer of 1981, Nixon began discussing possible locations for his presidential library, which would house documents and artifacts from his time in office. Duke was high on the list and the University’s president, Terry Sanford, was interested. Many faculty, however, were not.

Some felt Nixon’s library would be an incredible step forward for Duke scholarship—giving the papers from one of America’s most fascinating presidencies a permanent home in Durham. But others thought hosting the library would be committing a moral transgression, not winning a research jackpot. “Let the issue be defined, I say, as Duke’s choice between assisting historical scholarship on the one hand—and on the other hand accepting the moral, spiritual, social and political significance of the honor conferred upon Richard Nixon through this act and this structure forever upon our campus,” psychology professor Norman Gutman wrote at the time. Opponents noted that presidential libraries are typically memorials to their namesakes, and not traditional research institutes. The Nixon library, like other presidential libraries, would include a museum—and some faculty members feared that the museum could become something more akin to a tribute than an honest look at the Nixon presidency. “For every serious scholar who visits the libraries to conduct research, there are a thousand tourists who come to look at the shrine and its artifacts,” read a 1981 Academic Council report on the library negotiations. The faculty weren’t wrong. In 1980, 1.7 million people visited presidential libraries, according to the Christian TOWERVIEW MAGAZINE




“For every serious scholar who visits the libraries to conduct research, there are a thousand tourists who come to look at the shrine and its artifacts,” read a 1981 Academic Council report on the library negotiations. The Nixon Presidential Library and Museum (left) opened in Yorba Linda, Calif. in 1990. Science Monitor—just 1,933 of those were researchers. Some noted that hosting the library would hurt Duke’s reputation, forever linking the University to one of the country’s darkest political moments— “converting dishonor and notoriety into celebrity,” as described in a letter to Sanford written by four anthropology professors. Sanford did not agree. “A great university need not fear damage by association, but rather should cherish a spirit of self-confidence, and should steadfastly maintain its role as a preserver and seeker of truth,” he wrote in a memo to the faculty. “I would be sorry to see us take a timid view of ourselves.” For many professors, the central question was one of history and time. Supporters of the library argued that while Nixon and Watergate might seem so reprehensible in 1981 that hosting the library could be controversial, this would not always be the case. In the decades to come, the raw political contempt for Nixon would fade—but the academic value of his papers would remain. “The opposers operate in far too narrow a time frame. They are far too now-minded,” wrote Edwin Cady, an

English professor, in a letter to Sanford. “A great university lives in a time frame wholly other from the brief spans of the people who build it through centuries as others erect cathedrals. If we get the Nixon Papers, he and we will be matters of history very shortly. The documents will be there for history, for our successors, very likely for centuries.” But some faculty thought that the disgrace of Watergate would be felt for generations, and a Nixon museum would never be acceptable—even after decades, centuries, millennia had passed. “In 5,000 years, as with the pyramids and their pharaohs, people may have forgotten who Mr. Nixon was,” wrote the chairs of the history department, Richard Watson and Anne Firor Scott. “But so long as American history is taught, school children will learn that Mr. Nixon was, until 1981 at least, the only president who resigned from his office to avoid being impeached for dishonoring it.” Although the Board of Trustees voted to pursue negotiations for the library, the faculty voted against it. By the Spring of 1982, the negotiations with Duke died down, and a year later, Nixon’s birthplace of Yorba Linda, Calif. was announced as the site for his library.

Today, some feel that the Nixon Presidential Library has only served to confirm the arguments made by the library’s challengers at Duke. The library is the shrine to Nixon’s presidency that faculty had worried it would become, said William Chafe, professor emeritus of history and a vocal opponent of the library during the negotiations. “The history of the Nixon Museum, as it exists, verifies everything we said,” Chafe said. “It would have dramatically altered the identity of and vision of Duke.”

A Man and His Alma Mater Nixon was said to be frustrated by the failed library negotiations at Duke, but even so, he remained fond of his alma mater until his death in 1994. “We’ve always retained—my brother always did—the idea of Duke as a great university, and we support it, and we ignore the detractors,” said Edward Nixon, reached by phone at his home in Lynnwood, Wash. The younger Nixon, 85, is a fellow Blue Devil. He followed his older brother to Durham to join the Trinity College TOWERVIEW MAGAZINE


BREAKING AND ENTERING Nixon’s political fall from grace, of course, began with the break-ins at the Watergate Hotel in 1972. But it was not his only dalliance with breaking and entering—40 years prior, he was caught breaking into a dean’s office at Duke. Nixon was famously intense about his studies, in part because he needed high grades to maintain his scholarship at Duke. During his second year of law school, he grew frustrated while waiting for semester grades to be posted. The answer, he determined, was not to sit and wait—instead, he would break into the dean’s office to find out how he had done. With two friends in tow, Nixon snuck into the office and found his grades. Although he wasn’t disciplined for the incident, it came back to haunt him down the line. During the Watergate era, critics latched onto Nixon’s “first break-in.”



Class of 1952, where he majored in geology— “[Richard] was interested in human history. I was interested in prehistory, geology, rocks.” He still visits campus when possible, with plans to attend this April’s Reunion Weekend. And in recent years, he’s felt a shift in campus views of his brother’s legacy. “Attitudes have changed,” Edward Nixon said. “I’ve had more and more friendly encounters at Duke.” More than 20 years after his death, Richard Nixon has a new presence on campus. His portrait—locked away for years, before being loaned to the U.S. Capitol in the 1990s—is finally on display again. When the School of Law made plans to renovate Goodson Library in 2008, it included a space for the portrait, and it has hung on the fourth floor for at least three years now. In 2010, a new artistic remembrance of Nixon began—an annual musical called “Tricky Dick,” performed by law students and professors. The play is a humorous, cabaret-style look at Nixon running for student body president. The idea of using Nixon “was all in good fun,” said Justin Becker, Law ‘12, who co-directed the play and starred as Nixon in 2011. “It’s not a celebration of Nixon’s character flaws,” Becker said of the play. “It’s more so a celebration of the acceptance of the fact that there was this individual in our past, whether we like it or not…. You can’t pick and choose, but you should always have a full conversation about the individuals who are a part of your history, and that’s what we did.” Most of today’s law students were born almost two decades after Watergate, and for many, the Nixon-Duke relationship is more an amusing footnote for the University than a source of shame. On a recent afternoon in the law school’s refectory, asking for thoughts on Duke’s ties to Nixon led several students to discuss the Tricky Dick musical and the legend of Nixon’s “iron butt”—from hours of studying in the same spot in the library— rather than the political disgrace of Watergate. “It’s before my time,” said second-year law student Amy Richardson. “It’s like anything where Duke loves its legacy, loves its traditions.” To be sure, Nixon’s legacy is not one that has always been embraced by Duke, and today it’s not embraced so much as it is acknowledged. But for a man who once said, “I always remember that whatever I have done in the past, or may do in the future, Duke University is responsible in some way or another”—perhaps that would be enough.

“Most biographers have tried to picture him as a complicated figure. He was not complicated to me.... I saw how he became who he did.” —Edward Nixon Photographs in this story by Towerview staff and Creative Commons.

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STORY BY CARLEIGH STIEHM When Barack Obama finishes his second term as president of the United States, there are many perks of the job he will be giving up. Never again will he have the power to veto a bill or appoint a justice to the Supreme Court, and the whole Obama family will have to move out of the White House. But even after Obama loses command of the nuclear football, there are certain aspects of his presidency that he will retain for life. Out of respect, former presidents are always addressed as “Mr. President” even when their time at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is over. First families maintain part of their security detail for as long as they want it. POTUS, however, isn’t the only president that carries part of the legacy past the position. There are few positions on campus as all consuming as being president of Duke Student Government. Although the terms may only be one year, the experience can shape not only the president’s time as a student, but also follow him or her beyond college. In March, Keizra Mecklai—then a junior—was elected the DSG president for the 2015-16 academic year. Mecklai’s presidency makes her the fourth consecutive woman to hold the position. She succeeded Lavanya Sunder, who is now a senior. During the 2013-14 academic year, Stefani Jones filled the



role of president as a senior, and before her, Alex Swain began the streak of female leaders when she was elected to serve for her senior year. Rounding out the five most recent presidents are Pete Schork, who served the 2011-12, academic year as a senior, and his predecessor Mike Lefevre. “There isn’t a day when I don’t draw on what I learned as president,” Schork said. “You carry that experience within you. It is just such a unique experience. It challenges you to have a lot of poise in your life.” On the surface, the commonalities between the presidents seem few and far between. Two of the former presidents are still students. While Sunder remains on campus to complete her senior year, Swain is in her third year at Columbia Law School. Like any good president, however, they are both thinking ahead to the next step and have already locked down their post graduation plans: with Sunder planning on going to McKinsey & Company in Atlanta and Swain heading to Debevoise Law Firm. Jones has graduated from being president to working for one. She is currently a media monitor for the Office of Communications in the White House—where there’s a bit “more of a security presence” than she had for her own presidency. “My time on DSG was very influential

in my decision to pursue a job in public service,” she said. “It showed me how much I love fighting for issues impacting my peers, and I think it gave me good perspective on effective leadership and management.” Perhaps taking the most traditional “Duke” path of the presidents, Schork’s first post-graduation job was as an analyst for UBS Investment Bank. Choosing to delve deeper into a life-long interest in renewable energy and power, Schork left that job to become an analyst at the Broadscale Group, where he works with large energy corporations to stay ahead of the curb of renewable energy and help launch renewable energy startups. And a little more than four years removed from his presidency, Lefevre has chosen a life on the rails. After graduating, he spent two years with as a rail network analyst with CSX Transportation before becoming the manager of operations planning for All Aboard Florida— the nation’s first privately-funded intercity passenger railroad. Yet as divergent as their paths may be, each of the five is tied together by the common thread of the presidency. Like a members-only club, you can only really understand if you were part of it yourself. Schork noted that when looking back on the experience, however, it isn’t the practical skills that spring to mind first, but rather interpersonal experiences of

being a part of the organization. All of the five presidents said they walked away from the situation with relationships they hope will last well into their postgrad life. In addition to keeping in touch with one another’s achievements, many of the presidents continue meeting with each other and others that they served with. The longer one is removed from the presidency, however, the less often the position comes up in interviews or personal situations. Although it stays a part of your experience forever, it becomes increasingly less significant as post-collegiate accomplishments increase. “It’s a tough pill to swallow,” Lefevre said. “DSG president goes from something that defines you to just a fun fact about you. And it is a fun fact that you are almost embarrassed to bring up, because student government means something different at every university.” He added that there will come a time, after a certain number of years have passed, when most presidents will find themselves feeling a little embarrassed for having cared so deeply about the position. People often stereotype the position, assuming that only “apple-polishers or nerds” would want to lead student government. “I could have gotten a tattoo of DSG while I was at Duke,”

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Lefevre said. “That’s how much I was into it. Now, I am glad I didn’t get that tattoo.” In an era where one’s legacy on the Internet can exist indefinitely, the viral campaign video can far outlast the election. And some videos have a longer shelf life than others. While some, like Sunder’s and Swain’s are relatively straightforward, other presidents opted for unique takes on the traditional video. Jones’ video was a take on a Duke-centric music video for Alicia Keys’ song, “Girl on Fire.” Schork used his unique last name to his advantage by creating a play on the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week entitled “Schork Week.” But it is perhaps Lefevre’s landmark video “Lefevre for President” that has most stood the test of time. While at his first job after graduation, several of Lefevre’s coworkers came across his video, a campaign song set to Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok.” To preempt this at his next job, Lefevre used one slow Friday afternoon to circulate the video among his coworkers. Naturally, it was a hit. But despite any short moments of embarrassment or insecurity, Lefevre would never want to give up the time he spent dedicated to the organization—nor would any of the five latest presidents.

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For Swain, the experience that she gained as president in the arts of negotiations and advocating for organizations in need has become incredibly valuable as she navigates the tasks that are associated with law school. Sunder, meanwhile, found that the experience of having to speak in front of large groups of people at the Senate to be the most transferable skill to her professional endeavors so far. The experience of going from one of the most powerful students on campus to starting at an entry-level job outside

of Duke, can be a tough transition. But the experience that presidents have of pushing themselves until they can’t work any harder easily translates to dedication in other fields. “As president, you really learn how to relate to a lot of different kinds of people, and that has become a big part of who I am as a person now,” Schork said. “The experience was somewhat of a crash course in management that leaves you wellpositioned to take on a demanding job after graduation.”

Do you still have being DSG president on your resume?

MIKE LEFEVRE: Yes, but after his first job, he narrowed it down to just one line. PETE SCHORK: Yes, and he knows people who graduated from other schools upwards of 20 years ago that

still include it in their bios. ALEX SWAIN: Yes. Last year when she was applying to jobs, she met with her career counselor and they discussed whether to cut the experience down to one line. But ultimately, she decided to leave it as a full paragraph the same way she has her internships laid out. STEFANI JONES: Yes, and it remains on her LinkedIn profile as well. LAVANYA SUNDER: Yes, and because it was such a formative aspect of her time at Duke, she intends to keep it on her resume for as long as Duke is.

What was your most memorable moment as president?

ML: The “hostile takeover” of Campus Council. PS: Restructuring the internal committees to make them more in line with the needs of Senate and the

student body. This created the VP of Equity and Outreach position. AS: Writing her first policy memo to administration regarding the need to change the statute of limitations on sexual assault allegations. SJ: During her time as president, DSG successfully lobbied for stricter sanctions on sexual misconduct and got the administration to clarify and better detail the procedures involved with filing a complaint. LS: The last DSG meeting when she was president, the experience really came full circle as she was surrounded by her friends and exec members and she remembered when she was first running for DSG senator as a freshman, and she passed out stickers with volcanoes on them that said “vote for Lava.”

Do you still keep informed on DSG initiatives?

ML: At first he would read the paper every day, but then he slowly started checking less and less. PS: He went from maybe reading The Chronicle every other day to just monitoring every once in a while.

“There are times when you know how passionate you would be about an issue if you were still on campus, but when you’re not, you learn to keep in check. You don’t know the context anymore and you don’t know the players.” AS: She checks in on new initiatives occasionally, but every once in a while there is an issue that really pulls her in. SJ: She catches up with current DSG members to hear what initiatives they are up to, and tries to read The Chronicle whenever possible. LS: She is considering applying for an at-large Senate position in the Spring semester, but regardless of whether she decides that is the best option, she hopes to sit in the back of a good number of meetings.

Is there anything that you retain from your time as president?

ML: A framed collage of the Chronicle headlines documenting his biggest achievements at Duke hangs in his

apartment, though he emphasized that it was behind a door rather than prominently displayed. PS: The connections with the mentors and mentees he developed through the organization, citing that just a few weeks ago he was in Florida visiting Lefevre. “Those relationships are priceless.” AS: The relationships she formed both with other students and executive board members but also administrators and Board of Trustees members. SJ: She has definitely retained her Duke spirit, which she is often hated for in her current office. It was especially bad after the Duke Basketball team visited the White House. LS: She retained her card access to the DSG office in the Bryan Center which is a great place to study when other areas of campus are crowded.



s u m m e r fa d i n g a l o o k at t h e e n d o f s u m m e r in the Duke Gardens





Photographs by Han Kang and Jennie Xu.








let the good eats

Towerview searches for Durham’s best sushi Mount Fuji Mount Fuji is not really the place all your friends always want to go. It’s a rare moment to be sitting around the dorm or apartment and all exclaim, “Let’s go to Mount Fuji!” And that’s okay, because when you do go, it makes for all the better of an experience. Most of my peers are confused as to why I choose Mount Fuji as my sushi spot of choice; I don’t blame them. Fuji doesn’t boast the best roll in Durham, nor does it have the best drinks or best service. It’s not a must-visit place for those coming through the Triangle area like, say, Dame’s or The Pit; one could describe Fuji as completely average, relaxingly so, almost, and that’s what hits it for me. You don’t go to Mount Fuji for the best sushi in Durham; you go to Mount Fuji to enjoy some nice BOGO deals and



kick back with half-off wine or sake. Hell, maybe you’ll even hit up Fuji on a Friday and enjoy some half-off sake. You see, Fuji is mainly used by Duke students for party dinners because the space it occupies lends itself well to long tables, late nights, and God-knows-how-much pad thai. (Full disclosure: The Chronicle hosts its annual ChronSemi at Mount Fuji because sake and pad thai are key ingredients for a good time/puke on the table. The restaurant’s lighting is dim, as the lights bounce off the blood-red walls to the smooth wooden tables, and for those hoping to have a more private dining experience, they have a shōji-enclosed room in the back. But while the back can be a great place to eat with a small group, your best bet is to pick a beautiful fall or spring day and nab a table outside, as Fuji is located in the wonderful Brightleaf Square, which hosts several other fine Durham eateries, like Satisfaction, Little Dipper and Torero’s.

The rolls are fairly large compared to the rolls that come out of Vine, but if you’re ordering take-out then the rolls aren’t actually a great deal; the BOGO only applies to dine-in customers, though if your party is larger than eight people, you still get taxed for both rolls. If you are going to hit up Mount Fuji, you should absolutely make sure to grab a table there and allot yourself about an hour or so for the ensuing meal. The food takes about 20-25 minutes to come out, which is fine, because people don’t talk enough at dinner anymore, so use the time to choose a wine you think you know, and kick back. TL;DR: If you want to relax with some friends, get drunk and enjoy some cheap, serviceable sushi and sake, then get a DD and head down to Mount Fuji; also, make sure to grab an outdoor seat.

— by Nick Martin

Sansui When you google, “best sushi in Durham” a lot of familiar names pop up. Sushi Love, Vine, Kurama, etc. All of them have reviews that range between 3.3 and 4.1 on the usual 5-point scale, meaning their sushi is fine and that’s about it. Then there’s Sansui. Before I took to the internet to find Durham’s best roll, I had only heard the name Sansui a couple times, and even then, the option to eat there was shot down when I looked up how far away it was from campus. But when I was doing my research for this piece, I found that not only did Sansui have the most Google reviews of any other sushi-based restaurant with 51, it also easily had the highest ratings—a 4.6 out of 5.0. That pretty much made it for me; if I was going to review Durham’s best sushi, I had to make the trek to Sansui. Now, when I say trek, I am posturing a little bit. From the West Campus bus stop, it takes about 15 minutes to arrive at Sansui, which is located on Highway 55 via I-40 South. The road there is wide open and makes for a beautiful ride, and truth be told, if you aren’t looking for it, you’ll fly right past the blue-roofed joint. Unlike Mount Fuji, Sansui isn’t exactly working visual wonders on the outside, but like all good things, it’s not the outside that matters. When you step through the doors, you’re greeted by the beautiful, sleek interior, with a shōji-sealed rooms in the back and an interior made up of bamboo and fine glass tables, with a giant golden-hew glass fixture sitting right in the middle of the dining area surrounded by a protective bamboo structure. Due to its obscure location, Sansui was all but empty when I went, which actually made for a nice meal. In an attempt to mix things up and avoid the all-too-familiar California roll, I branched out and ordered the Kelly and Hawaiian rolls—it’s worth noting that all rolls are 50 percent off in-store, so instead of worrying about not being able to finish two rolls in a BOGO deal, you can enjoy a dinner well under $10 at Sansui. The Kelly roll was one of Sansui’s Big Rolls, so while it was a little more rice than I normally prefer, the crab

that filled the inside of the roll was delicious and made up for the Chipotle bowl-like amount of rice I consumed. The Hawaiian was delicious, as the top half was wrapped with thinlysliced pineapple, which made for a surprisingly wonderful sushi addition. All in all, the rolls were probably the best I’ve had in the Durham area. That being said, the environment of Sansui is very, very different from a place like Mount Fuji. There are plenty of televisions about the restaurant, but the sound is turned off and the store does not play any music either. I wasn’t sure if this was just because I was one of three customers in the place—I went early, around 5:45 p.m.—so I made sure to go back and look up others’ experiences and found that the silence is a daily occurrence at Sansui. The food at Sansui leaves little to be desired—it really is delicious and the best roll in Durham—but in all honesty, if I’m trying to go enjoy myself and have a nice dinner, I think I would still stick by my guns and make the shorter trip to Mount Fuji. It’s in a better spot relative to campus, has a better atmosphere and the sushi, though not as good as Sansui, isn’t bad enough to send you running. Still, if you don’t make the trip to Sansui at least once to check it out, you’re cheating yourself.

— by Nick Martin



Sushi Love For many Duke students, Sushi Love is the de facto top choice for sushi—it’s close to campus, has a solid buy-one-get-one-free promotion and, of course, it delivers on food points. The place is so popular that when it was added as a Merchants-on-Points delivery vendor last year, students counted down the minutes until they could place their first order and overwhelmed the system in a flood of orders “unlike anything we’ve ever seen,”

the delivery service commented to The Chronicle at the time. But does Sushi Love’s popularity come from convenience or actual merit? A little of both. The sushi is not perfect, but all things considered, it’s pretty good. When you’re eating in-house, all rolls are buy-oneget-one, so you can get a decent amount of fish for your cash. Standouts include the spicy tuna of the Blossom Roll and the jalapenos and salmon of the Acapulco Roll. In addition to the sushi, they also have a range of noodle dishes and Asian fusion-type entrees. But where Sushi Love really separates itself from the competition is the convenience factor. Delivery sushi might not sound like a great idea, but I’ve ordered way more times than can be healthy (as my low food point total last semester can confirm) and I’ve never gotten anything that wasn’t in prime condition. The wait can sometimes be long, but it’s always worth it. And, of course, they have a Blue Devil Roll (shrimp tempura, cucumber and spicy mayo topped with filet mignon and spicy eel sauce) which is… devilishly good. (Sorry. I had to.)

— by Emma Baccellieri

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At first glance, through the lens of a Duke student, Jimmie Banks is nobody. He walks about in his same dark blue t-shirt, black pants and boots every day, building to building, one of thousands to don the same uniform and complete their various, often unappreciated tasks. But just like every other person to check an emergency light, vacuum a carpet or fix a faulty bulb, he is someone. Like the many stories that preceded this one and the many that will follow, the story of the unassuming stranger will always pique our interest. I’m not telling you to open up to Jimmie more so than you should any other stranger; I’m telling you to believe that Jimmie Banks is one-of-a-kind, but he is not uncommon. He is the one you forget as soon as you see him because your life seems to flash by so fast, class-to-class, interview-to-interview, that the strangers in it will simply remain that because you have no time to shake a hand or flash a smile. We say it’s not our fault, because such a thing seems to lack a fault-riddled party. Like them, we have important places to be, and to detract from the moments in between our tasks dedicated to music or staring ahead at nothing would be a waste. But I assure you, you busy, stressed soul, your time will not be wasted. The following is from my short, but



Jimmie Banks is an African-American man in his mid-50’s; he millions today and someone besides myself would be writing this stands about 6-foot tall with a solid gut and massive smile that for some haughty magazine. he has to force himself to hide, lest his teeth come barreling But life doesn’t deal the deserving everything they are owed, out to greet you along with his sparkling brown eyes. He walks and instead of following some Billy Elliot-esque dream path around Duke’s campus slowly, never rushing, not because he to the upper echelon of the art society, Jimmie’s road to fame lacks a sense of urgency, but because he is always on time—that’s presumably ended in Richmond, where his time was required in just who he is. Everything about Jimmie makes you comfortable, the workforce and not the art studio. Of course, being the kindboth in mentality and in your assumption that he is a man who hearted soul he is, Banks isn’t bitter, rather he is understanding. does his job and not too much else. Of course, you, me and “They had an art department at school. I was top dog, for everyone else to ever think that about him—or anyone else—are sure,” Banks said. “If you had the money to go to college or had a all very, very wrong. scholarship, that would be the option, to go. But I came up with Banks was born and raised in Richmond, Va. as one of seven a big family, so at the time, you just try to work and get through children by his loving mother and father, and as a result, work and give back.” came early and often for young Jimmie—at 14, he began cutting lawns for the elderly. But this isn’t a story about a man who -----------------------mowed lawns. This is about a “lone wolf”, a boy who knew the love of a paintbrush sooner than that of a baseball bat. Jimmie Jimmie’s path, obviously, didn’t end in Virginia. Banks, while many things—a father, grandfather, electrician, After working for a few years in the northeastern North etc.—is an artist. It’s not a hobby that came late in life or Carolina town of Rocky Mount breaking down mobile homes developed slowly as he matured; rather than play outside or buy and cooking at a local restaurant, he decided to re-apply himself toys, Jimmie created masterpieces and built his own playthings and get into the electrician business. No, it wasn’t art, but it as soon as he could walk. presented him with the opportunity to tinker in the same way “I was kind of the lone wolf of the drawers growing up,” that 10-year old Jimmie did, only this time, he could both get Banks said. “It was pretty fun. paid and pick up a new skill. Everyone would be outside And eventually, after I ’ V E D R AW N F O R M O S T O F M Y bouncing around between playing and I’m inside drawing. I was very creative. electric companies L I F E , S I N C E I W A S L I T T L E . several I took plastic, like from dry and travelling all about for his cleaners, and made parachutes T H I R D G R A D E , I W O N A L O T O F various jobs, his path landed out of them, with some string, him in Durham after a stint B L U E R I B B O N S , D I D A L O T O F with Tech Electric, which and put little men on it. I made little model cars out of out of Morrisville, P O R T R A I T S O F F R I E N D S A N D isN.C.based cereal boxes. They rolled, the The company had him doors open. I melted wax and FA M I LY. I J U S T L O V E T O C A P T U R E working on Duke’s campus molded people out of wax…. and led to him nabbing an P E O P L E A N D C A P T U R E L I F E . ” opening in Duke’s electrical I’ve drawn for most of my life, since I was little. Third grade, I shop. After a long journey, he won a lot of blue ribbons, did a has settled in Raleigh, where lot of portraits of friends and family. I just love to capture people he has lived for 20-something years. and capture life.” “I like being in one place better than living out of a suitcase,” This kind of creativity, while unique among his peers, didn’t Banks said. “It was fun seeing different places and different come about randomly. Banks points to his father as his talent people—from Maine to Florida to Charlotte to Boston to a place source, as he says that in his younger days, the elder Banks was that makes all different kind of china to paper mills to sheet rock also taken in by the art of drawing. But fathering seven kids mills and so on. It was quite the experience.” would force him away from the canvas and toward the workforce, Now, at this point, one is probably wondering just how this where he would spend the majority of his time when not raising story of a has-been artist-turned electrician has much of anything his children. to do with our present-day situation. Well, you see, while Banks Jimmie, on the other hand, couldn’t stop. As long as he was out and about taking up a new trade, starting a family and could, Banks drew, and as his classmates and family noticed, finding a stable job at Duke, he was drawing—a lot. the kid was pretty good. As a matter of fact, if you ask Jimmie Unlike his father, Jimmie never let the art die. today what his favorite piece is, it takes him no time to reach into his massive collection and pluck out a massive wonder— -----------------------his interpretation of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous “Last Supper”. The only difference is that Jimmie drew and painted his when he In the middle of the Bryan Center, Jimmie has spread his art was in the sixth grade—in one week. out among the benches by main staircase on the second floor. “I did this around the sixth grade—an oil painting of The Dozens of pieces, all different sizes, some prints, some originals, Last Supper,” he said. “I did this in one week; that was a long all for my viewing pleasure. They range in subject from the week. You see, I love the old masters. I love how they capture the iconic yellow-eyed “Thriller” Michael Jackson to self portraits clothing, and the way the clothing droops. All those colors just to living-room paint collages; it’s Jimmie’s lifework, capturing pop out; I like the shadows. And it’s even a little bit more detail his various interests over the years, a portfolio larger and more than this since this is a print.” sophisticated than one would imagine from a soft-spoken man Success is not determined by one’s fame nor does one’s fame nearing the end of his career as an electrician. But there they reflect their talent; if that was the case, Jimmie’s art would sell for are, and for a few moments, I stand speechless. Jimmie has seen TOWERVIEW MAGAZINE


the look before, as he breaks out in a big smile and starts walking me through all his different works. As he goes on to tell me, he’s been drawing ever since those fateful Rocky Mount days, rarely taking a night off from his work, and the hard work has paid off handily—people, much like they did in Richmond, have taken note of the man’s talent. “I did a couple shows at Duke—about three times. That’s when I really got noticed,” Banks said. “A couple professors noticed my art, so I did some shows. I got commissioned to do a Reginaldo Howard portrait. He died in the 60s and they named a scholarship after him. I met his sister from Atlanta, and they unveiled it and hung it in the John Hope Franklin Center for over two years, and now it’s permanently displayed in an African-American studies classroom [in] the Friedl building.” His art has been displayed in shows held at the Mary Lou Williams Center, West Union and Bryan Center’s Multicultural Center. But Banks’ art is not just for him to show off. As he draws daily, he’s accumulated so many pieces that there come times when he has to part with his works, though, as you should expect by this point, he does so with others in mind, donating his pieces to various local school fundraisers throughout the years. He draws inspiration from just about everywhere—occasional visits to the North Carolina Museum of Art, the old masters—think Leonardo da Vinci— local artists, Simmie Knox (a personal favorite of Jimmie’s who he often studies) and apartment neighbors. But even Jimmie, the man who never stopped smiling during our sitdown in the BC, has trying moments, moments that tear him down, that send him spiralling. Even when he talks to me about them, he never breaks his smile; his eyes never stop sparkling. But you can see that it’s these moments that could have extinguished his artistic flame. Instead, they fueled him. As things fell from his life, the constants—his son, his two darling grandchildren, ages three and six, his job and naturally, his art—are what have pushed him forward. “Sometimes things come up that affect your life—something that brings you down or something that brings you up—and it just turns your whole art around. It’ll inspire you to put out more or do more or just grow and get more creative,” Banks said. “Me and my wife separated, about three years ago. Sometimes, it’s just life…. I lost my mom from colon cancer [about seven years ago]. She always talked about me and doing my art, and so I said, ‘I ain’t got no time to waste time, so I’ve got to make all my time count and draw as much as I can and grow as much as I can.’” -----------------------As Jimmie shuffles away his art, I posit the question of how, if at all, the Internet has changed his perspective or output. He pulls out his phone and starts to poke through his apps before landing upon Instagram, and, well, he amazes me again. For as long as he’s been drawing, Jimmie has loved to draw up celebrities. His print collection shows this off fairly well, but if you are one of the privileged folks to be allowed to follow him on his private Instagram, you know his affinity better than anyone. “I love the movies. Some of the old classic movies, I like doing portraits of that and just capturing that,” Banks said. “And I love music. My brother used to have all types of albums. Tons of albums. So I love music and a lot of the





time I’ll do some of the singers.” Yessy and several other pages. Instagram, it’s just all over Enter Flipagram. the world. Different artists, different celebrities. Diana Ross, Flipagram is a program that allows you to animate a series Drake, Pittbull, Rihanna, Janet Jackson. Then some of them of pictures—more or less, to take the bouncing ball you’d draw save the art to their pages. And Diana Ross gave me a shout out on the corner of your mom’s entire packet of sticky notes, add last night.” music and put it online. And with that, Jimmie’s art flame was Diana Ross shout-outs included, the future of Jimmie Banks’ once again doused in kerosene. art is bright, and will likely only ramp up as he nears retirement. “When I was little, I used to draw flip books, make little He’s currently wrapping up a wall-sized portrait to be on display movies, draw someone diving off the board, fighting and a lot in the Arts Annex and is gearing up for his fourth art show at of stuff,” Banks said. “I’ve always looked for something like that Duke, though this time he’s hoping he can be placed in Duke’s come out, and when that came out, I was like, ‘Wow. This is it.’ I’ve been The inter net just opened up the whole world, able to so much with it.” I had people from all over the world follow me The Internet and introduction of digital art now allows Jimmie the o n I n s t a g r a m , Ye s s y a n d s e v e r a l o t h e r p a g e s . audience he was never afforded Instagram, it’s just all over the world. outside of the Richmond and Duke communities. Rather than being known simply as a local artist, he has established a bit of a highest art home: the Nasher. following, and though his numbers may not boast the weight of “[The Arts Annex portrait is] of Fame, with Debbie Allen. some other major artists, it doesn’t mean people haven’t taken Remember the series, with Janet Jackson? That’ll be up in the notice. Arts Annex,” Banks said. “Probably in the next couple years I’ll Celebrities have long enjoyed Jimmie’s work—back in 1990, probably try to work on a big show. I’ll get some big cloth, tape it before the Internet was a thing, Jimmie received a handwritten to my wall and do some big, gigantic stuff. And so later on I can thank-you note from Oprah Winfrey for a portrait he mailed do a show with that, maybe at the Nasher…. [I’ll be at Duke] for her. Nowadays they show their appreciation by saving his work probably the next seven-eight years. Then I’ll retire and really to their personal Instagrams. Although some stem from fan- pursue my art.” run accounts as I suspected, others are very much real and have As he packed up the rest of his art and prepared to end his loved the work the Richmond native has put together, both in lunch break, I shook his hand and left him with one question: stills and self-made music videos. Will Jimmie Banks ever stop drawing? “The internet just opened up the whole world,” he said. “I “No,” he said. “Never ever, ever, ever.” had people from all over the world follow me on Instagram, Good.



paging: madam president

Keizra Mecklai

Towerview got up close and personal with Duke Student Government President Keizra Mecklai, a senior. Read on for her thoughts on The Hunger Games, her biggest regrets and her go-to Chipotle order.

What’s your go-to Chipotle order?

What’s a class you’re thrilled to never have to take again? TOWERVIEW: Where’s your favorite place to eat in Durham?

Keizra: Monuts

What is your greatest extravagance? Even if I make coffee at home, I always end up drinking it and buying a second coffee sometime during the day. I am not yet emotionally prepared to imagine how much money I would save if I didn’t buy coffee for a year.

What’s your biggest regret from your time at Duke? I came in with an idea of what I wanted to do (major in biology, be pre-medicine) and never challenged myself enough to question if that is what I really wanted to do. If I could go back and do it over again, I would take more academic risks and be unafraid to fail.

Definitely organic chemistry, I never want to have to ‘visualize’ (whatever that means) a molecule ever again.

Your top three superpower choices are: Read minds, fly, or be super stretchy (so that I could make myself a little taller than 4’9”)

Burrito bowl with white rice, extra fajitas, chicken, medium salsa, sour cream, and cheese. Chipotle is definitely my second ranking legal addiction after coffee.

Peeta or Gale? No questions it’s Peeta. Clearest stroke of genius in the hunger games? Peeta camouflaging himself with dirt while waiting for Katniss to save him. What a skill.

What is happiness to you? What’s a movie you can watch at any time no matter what? Definitely Pitch Perfect. Once I watched it twice in a row.

If you had to live in any era aside from the present, which would you choose? I would live in the 20s! Maybe I just love Great Gatsby themed parties, but I would love to experience the flapper/speakeasy culture of the United States.

To me, happiness is beautiful relationships. I value my friendships so highly, and love growing from the people I surround myself with. At Duke, it is so easy to become blindly focused on grades, internships, jobs, and ‘traditional success.’ Every day I have to remind myself that ‘traditional success’ has never brought me more joy than the incredible people around me. Where does this rank on your personal all-time interview list? Do I have to say first? I’ll say first.




the chronicle’s news and culture magazine

Towerview Fall 2015  
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