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c h ro n i c l e ’ s

n ew s


c u l t u re

m a g a z i n e

The Insider’s Report:

Why Duke Basketball Went Abroad {Q+A WITH NATHANIEL MACKEY}

Duke Redefines Virtual Reality

Wonde r l an d of Wast e A L ook into Nor th C arolina’s Q uir kiest Ar t S pace

9/11 Anniversary Iss u e VOLUME 13




LETTER FROM THE EDITORS The weather plans to turn cold tomorrow. By “cold,” we mean forecasts predict a drop to 56-degrees Farenheight in Durham. North Carolina routinely cushions us out of summer, remaining sultry and humid after the start of classes. But tomorrow, we will have to acknowledge that it really is September. With that recognition, comes another. This September marks a decade since the morning that a group of terrorists executed the most devastating attack our nation has ever seen. We struggled with how to commemorate this anniversary in Towerview. In the end, we felt we had to separate them—this September and that one. Please turn this magazine over to begin reading our 9/11 commemorative issue. Here, we begin with beginnings. Giulia Caterini has a new room for her things, and Brian Contratto has a new bike to take him through the city. Perhaps a beginning, the men’s basketball team visited Duke’s Kunshan campus just before the start of the semester. Taylor Doherty, who joined them, shares his perspectives on the trip. In the remaining pages, we are treated to the work of artists. Nathaniel Mackey and Connor Southard discuss the written word. Professor Pedro Lasch tells us how he chose to paint the Twin Towers in cities around the world. Allie Yee also paints—in words—the eclectic assemblage at Elsewhere, a place where art is created from unconventional, yet ordinary materials. Enjoy. And dress warm for the fall.

Your Editors,


c h ro n i c l e ’ s

n ew s


C u l t u re

m a g a z i n e


Nathan Glencer Madeline Lieberberg Taylor Doherty Andy Moore Lindsey Rupp Toni Wei Melissa Dalis & James Lee Sanette Tanaka

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Becca Bayham, Giulia Caterini, Brian Contratto, Connor Southard & Allie Yee CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Taylor Doherty, David Kornberg, ThanhHa Nguyen, Chelsea Pieroni, Indu Ramesh, Melissa Yeo PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Lindsey Berlin GENERAL MANAGER ADVERTISING DIRECTOR CREATIVE DIRECTOR OPERATIONS MANAGER RETAIL SALES MANAGER

Jonathan Angier Chrissy Beck Barbara Starbuck Mary Weaver Rebecca Dickenson

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 101 West Union Building, call (919) 684-3811 or fax (919) 684-8295. Contact the advertising office for information on subscriptions. Visit The Chronicle and Towerview online at 2010 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. @TowerviewMag



September 2011

Up Front A Conversation with Nathaniel Mackey By Connor Southard

TV sits down with the first Reynold’s Price Professor of Creative Writing.

New Bike, New Views By Brian Contratto

Durham is a new place from atop a bicycle.

Move-in Day By Giulia Caterini





Making her TV debut, Giulia shares a common first-year experience.

To DiVE For By Becca Bayham


TV checks out Duke’s virtual reality center.

Features Globetrotters

By Taylor Doherty

Duke sends the Blue Devils to China and we tag along.

Elsewhere By Allie Yee

In Greensboro, a living museum sparks the imagination of artists and visitors.





Parting Words Wisdom


By Pedro Lasch

Cover Photo by Madeline Lieberberg

10 Tu r n o v e r f or 9 / 1 1 A n n i v e r s a r y I s s u e TOWERVIEW 3


A CONVERSATION with NATHANIEL MACKEY By Connor Southard A thunderstorm threatened to interrupt my interview with Nathaniel Mackey, the new Reynolds Price Professor of Creative Writing and winner of the 2006 National Book Award for poetry. The rattling windows didn’t faze Mackey. He kept answering my questions, speaking slowly, giving each word its moment. It was only when his phone started ringing that Mackey finally broke away from one of his answers. Having just finished telling me that the mundane world has to be present in even the most mystical art, he quipped, “The world is calling.” A joke, yes, but talking about writing with Mackey is like that: He creates his own space, both a refuge and a vantage point, using nothing more than language.

Photo by David Kornberg

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Like many contemporary poets, you’re well acquainted with academia. You have a Ph.D., and you’ve taught at the University of California, Santa Cruz for more than 30 years. You’ve published criticism as well as poetry. How does your academic career influence your art? I think they’re very much intertwined. Writing about what I’ve read—writing criticism—is deeply intertwined with the writing I do. A lot of the same material comes up in my criticism as comes up in my poetry and my fiction. Poetry tends to be very self-reflexive—poets tend to spend a lot of time thinking about writing poetry, what the significance of that is. You teach both literature and creative writing. What are the specific changes you’ve seen in the way your students have approached both the writing of poetry and the study of literature over the course of the last few decades? Technology has had a tremendous impact. The availability of [recordings of] poets reading their work on the Internet has been a real difference maker. It’s sometimes a challenge for teachers of literature and teachers of [writing] to convey a sense of literature as a living art, something that’s being done by people who are alive now and who walk the same streets that we do. It used to be that it was hard to give that a real presence. Now we can say “get the sound of the reading in your mind.” Because one of the things one wants to do as a teacher of poetry is emphasize that we’re writing not just to be read, but to be heard. Are there any teaching philosophies, particularly in your creative writing workshops, that you emphasize?

I try to get students both in writing classes and in literature classes to find their way in language, both as readers and as writers, and to come to some apprehension of what’s possible in language. I stress that attention to the medium that we’re working in; whether we’re writing poetry or fiction or essays, we’re involved in a language art. In literature classes, I stress that papers should be well-written, that there should be a concern with style, that we’re not just dealing with some dry, utilitarian approach that just wants to get the job done. Part of the job is the flavor that you give the writing that conveys something of the way in which your mind works. What’s something you wish you had been told as a young writer? Is there one thing you stress to your students in terms of becoming a writer when you’re young? That it’s something that you have to think about doing for many years. Louis Zukofsky said, “We write one poem all our lives.” And to think about writing as a lifelong commitment and exploration is I guess what I would say. Which is both kind of daunting, but also kind of relieving. You don’t have to feel that your work has to get where you want it to go in the next year, or the next two years, or the next five to ten years. You look at a lot of writers, and they get better and better and their work grows over time. One of the attractions of writing is that fact—that age can work to its advantage. I try to stress to my students that writing is not a sprint, it’s a long-distance run. I’m surprised by how many students for whom that’s news. I can understand some of the reasons for that. In our society, we have such a dominant idea of what success is, and it has to do

with celebrity, and it has to do with making a splash in one’s youth. That’s certainly not the way it works in poetry. Your work is often described as being “mystical,” which seems to imply a separation from the concrete stuff going on around you, from the mundane. But to what extent do you see yourself responding directly to the events around you? We’re all having experiences of the public—news, things that reach a megaaudience, entertainment, popular culture, politics. We all live in that world. That world has a lot of tools with which to convince us that it is the world, and maybe the only world. But I think that we’re all aware of the limitations to that. We’re having experiences, we’re having apprehensions, we’re seeing things that don’t quite square with that public discourse. One of the things that arts have generally functioned to do is to give a person, whether artist or reader, something that gets more into the graininess and the particularity of lived experience that is not so generic as public discourse and the public representations of experience. The distinction between public and private, mundane and mystical—that distinction is largely maintained by public discourse. One of the things that makes art matter is the fact that it complicates that distinction. The mundane is in my work, however mystical readers may see it to be. I see art as an act of transposition—a musical analogy. You get a piece of music in one key, and you transpose it to another. I think that art transposes the mundane, but it doesn’t abandon the mundane. Art loses one of the sources of its vitality if it doesn’t stay in touch with the world. p


Tour de Durham By Brian Contratto

Photos by Indu Ramesh


here’s the moment at stoplights when I become especially self-conscious of my vehicle, my new bike, and I never look back at the cars behind me to see how much space they’ve designated as an appropriate window of safety that indicates they are aware of my semi-vulnerable position on a bicycle. A whole new series of previously unthought thoughts come to me (or maybe I emit them) now that I travel around Duke and Durham on the bike my best friend who graduated Duke last year left me as a bonus to the bed and couches and furniture I bought from him. Night one on the bike I went out with my Half Ironman-racing roommate, Dan; 6 TOWERVIEW

he also just purchased a (really expensive) Cervélo that makes my hand-me-down look extra vintage in comparison, which I figure is actually a good thing. We rode (on night one) around the West-North-East outskirts of East Campus, starting from our Erwin Mill apartment up Broad into Old West Durham, past Englewood— which made me nervous since this is also the name of a dangerous area of L.A. near where I grew up—and past the familiarsounding W Club, where we discovered a mysterious boarding school that I’m sure no one else at Duke knows exists.1 Then east into Trinity Heights and south in Trinity Park which is beautiful and tree-lined-residential, where I’d hoped to

secure a lease for my senior year, but I was in Barcelona for most of last year and these things go fast. Riding past the more undergraduate-filled haunts on Main Street, emboldened by an imaginary sense of authority—I pass by Shooters II and Devine’s and Alivia’s feeling taller, proud of my choice of weekend leisure. But this kind of self-righteousness waxes and wanes depending on the situation. Waxes, for instance, when I arrive sweatily for my mostly-grad student lit theory class, where everyone sees me tether my bike to the banister near the side entrance to Friedl; where I fit in among the other hipster, somewhat outcasty students that neomarxist professors attract.

Wanes, when I bike to Sanford to a public health class comprised of more neatly-kempt and older graduate students in Public Policy, and then I suddenly don’t feel too good about my sweat-drenched t-shirt in a room of pressed oxfords and business casual. There’s also a middle ground between pride and embarrassment, a kind of ambivalance I feel during the awkward moments when I teeter to one side on my bike at stop signs because I am too short, or kind of half-collide with the handrails of long wheelchair ramps with unfortunate 90-degree turns. On the one hand I think these awkward moments of clumsiness are funny, but I also consider the idea that if I literally am the only one laughing at myself, maybe it isn’t so funny any more, in retrospect.2 Some of my discoveries are fortunately less neurotic in nature; I am, for instance, 1

thrilled by the new geographic discovery and mastery I’ve begun to encounter on campus. Duke University (West, Central, East) finally makes sense to me as a connected whole, and is now open to me to experience seamlessly, instead of being ushered to preordained destinations and departure points caused by the bus system. Even driving one’s own car requires a similar situation, that makes you shuffle between overcrowded parking lots closest to Perkins or the Bryan Center or wherever you’re headed. This romantic new conceptualization is going to be short-lived. Once average temperatures drop below 60, my currently trustyand well-loved biked will start to hibernate and, I imagine, experience self-loathing and jealousy of Dan’s two Iromnan-caliber bikes which will continue to receive the validation of his frequent, adoring use. p

Plenty of people at Duke know about the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics.


I once read a study suggesting that most narcissists don’t rate themselves high on a psychological narcissism scale, but their friends do. As a narcissist, I’m troubled by two factors possibly contrary to my self-assessment as such: that I am vocal and conscious of my supposed narcissism; and that I am self-deprecating and find my embarrassments entertaining. On the other hand, I am certain that a genuine narcissist would create a loophole of this sort that allows himself to self-congratulate for awareness of a so-called character deficit and that his embarrassments are somehow captivating and attention-worthy for everyone else; and aren’t these thoughts only further testament to the deficit in question? This is thoroughly confusing, obviously.


Somethings old,

Somethings new By Giulia Caterini


verything was very still and very quiet inside Southgate room 423. I knocked on the door and timidly inched my way in, and the noise in the dormitory became muffled in the background as I closed it behind me. I was the first one to arrive. The beds and desks were bare, the floor was clean, the closets were empty. The only sign that someone had, in fact, lived there before my two roommates and me was a collection of glow-in-the-dark stars stuck to the ceiling. I stared up at the plastic stars, trying to picture the old occupants who had chosen to place them there. I imagined them giggling as they came to the decision: “Yes, glow-in-the-dark stars for the room, let’s go buy them at 8 TOWERVIEW

Target!” One of the girls would have had to stand on the chair or the bed, stretching to reach the ceiling as she glued them on one by one, her friends laughing excitedly from the ground. My roommates and I, I thought, we’ll do something quirky and college-y like that too. It wasn’t long before my parents came in with The Stuff. Never a light packer, I had boxes upon boxes—as well as bags, various sized plastic containers, suitcases and anything else that could carry it. It took several trips across the jungle of parents, feet, mini fridges and intimidating-looking sophomores to actually get everything in the room. By that time, my roommates had arrived, and we began the

process of sizing each other up, each hoping the other two would be “normal.” I have very few memories of unpacking because I spent those next couple of hours of move-in day in a daze. Instead of making myself useful, I stood by my bed and stared at my things as they were taken out and put away. That dress, the blue one, that was the dress I wore at my high school’s homecoming last year. That alarm clock sat in my old room, that pair of flips-flops was lost under my old bed for a week, that’s the mug I drank from every morning. And there, on an unfamiliar bed, was my darling teddy bear—college life was not enough to convince me to part from her.

Photo by Melissa Yeo

Photo by Chelsea Pieroni

At the risk of sounding extremely materialistic, my stuff, all those things being taken out of boxes and given new places, it was a part of me. Or at least, a part of high school-me. And I while I didn’t object to my mother’s opinion on the best spot to place the bathrobe, I still thought, no, not on that shelf. It goes in my closet at home, in my room, hanging on the hook of the left door, not in a college dorm. There was of course, new stuff. Extralarge Bed Bath and Beyond and Target bags were just as cumbersome as the suitcases and boxes from home in room 423. All this new stuff, well, I wasn’t quite sure what to think about it. I had no memories of falling asleep curled under my new pink and green comforter, no feelings about the multiple new containers and desk organizers that I had chosen. This new set of things was a blank slate. And yet, my parents were putting the new Stuff away along with the old. I wasn’t really much help, since I was too busy internally panicking. New and old were living together harmoniously already.

It all ended rather abruptly. One second the suitcase was full, the next I could see the bottom and there was only one T-shirt left to put away. Now that those confusing, overwhelming hours of unpacking were over, I didn’t know what to do with myself. What was there left to do? I poked my head into the hallway and saw that it had turned into a graveyard of cardboard, plastic and discarded tape. Some girls—wide-eyed, hesitant, slightly sweaty—had started to make their way across the trash in the quest to socialize. Still too dazed to join them, I retreated back into the room. College had officially begun. I didn’t fully believe it, but I did have physical evidence. I had the indisputable facts of a new mattress topper and unopened bottles of shampoo. My parents had left. I could touch the fabric of my clothes in the strange new setting of my dorm room. I felt the weight of my room key in my hand as I sat on my new chair. Now that I was alone, everything in the room went back to being the way it was before I came in: very still and very quiet, perched on the brink of the next four years. p


Redefining Virtual Reality



in at

at the same time recording where a person is looking and standing, said Rachael Brady, director of Duke’s Visualization Technology Group. “As humans, we understand 3D spatial relationships by moving around,” Brady said. “It helps us see patterns and understand relationships between objects.” The DiVE is a “cave” system, meaning that it has a human-sized visual field, tracks body movements and uses stereo vision, the same technology used for 3D movies to create depth perception. A handheld controller facilitates users’ movement through the virtual world and allows them to interact with objects within it. “Mostly what amazes me is that, the longer people are in the DiVE, the more they start reacting to objects like they’re actually there,” said Holton Thompson, an associate in research who designed the kitchen, among other applications. For example, in the Kitchen application, people move to look around the refrigerator door and move their head out of the way when opening a cabinet—even though it’s not actually there.


By Becca Bayham

Photos by Thanh-Ha Nguyen


ou rustle frantically through the objects on your kitchen counter, ignoring the escalating whistle of the tea kettle. Outside, a car horn blares impatiently. You look behind the toaster—even in the oven. Where are your car keys? “I can’t believe you lost them again,” you hear over your shoulder. It’s hard to ignore the tone of disgust. Your cat interjects with an annoying meow as you push aside a pile of cookbooks. In your haste, you accidentally knock some dishes onto the floor. In the other room, the baby starts to cry. Since when do you have a baby? That’s when you remember that you’re in the DiVE, short for the Duke immersive Virtual Environment. It consists of a small room with images projected onto opaque fabric walls and sound coming in through large exterior speakers. Outside, a technician controls the images and sounds, and 3D glasses turn blurry images into ones you want to reach out and touch. The DiVE was built to be used for teaching experiences and scientific visualization, as well as cognitive experiments. Its research power lies in its capacity to fully control the user experience while

he DiVE is like every kid’s dream. You’re not even bound by gravity. Flying is as simple as tilting the controller up, and soon you might find yourself looking down on ancient ruins or a fantasy world that includes a giant flying chicken. The DiVE holds an open house every Thursday at 4:30 p.m. However, most Duke students are unaware that it even exists. “We joke that we’re the best-kept secret at Duke,” Thompson said. During one Thursday open house, Thompson guided sophomore Shannon Kalsow and freshman Torrey Lubkin through a series of applications as diverse as making their own rollercoasters, playing 3D ping-pong and feeding cake to a three-headed dog. “It’s like Wii, but better,” Kalsow said. Several Duke courses have utilized the DiVE. Sometimes, students create unique content for the DiVE, like when an undergraduate created a virtual replica of a French cathedral for his art history class. Other times, professors create their own applications to provide a specific experience for their students. Scott Huettel, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience, used the DiVE to teach his students about the spatial relationships between regions of the brain. Huettel used high-resolution MRI data to create a 3D replica of the brain, which students then interacted with to identify major parts of the brain.


o use the DiVE for cognitive experiments, researchers need to know that the virtual system can evoke the same reactions from participants as more traditional methods do. Brady said this is important so that when researchers publish their work, the scientific community can trust the validity of their findings. The kitchen experiment tests the premise that responses in a virtual reality setting correlate with responses in real life. As participants try to find the virtual car keys within nine minutes, the sights and sounds become increasingly irritating. The real kicker? The task is impossible—there are no keys. The kitchen is supposed to make people angry. People kept putting the meowing cat into the oven, Thompson said. “We were trying to recreate an adverse environment, and we were looking to see if people would choose to engage in the annoying environment or to distance themselves from it,” Brady said. p TOWERVIEW 11


Basketball Did the University succeed off the court in China?

By Taylor Doherty


boarded a plane with the Duke basketball team Aug. 15 headed to Shanghai for an international basketball tour that would bring us completely around the world in two weeks. Traveling on a chartered plane and staying in five-star hotels, on the surface, the trip sounded like a high-budget vacation. The Dagger, a Yahoo! Sports blog, wrote a story estimating the cost of the plane at $1.3 million, and Deadspin called the tour “pretty much the most Dook thing ever.” This sentiment seemed to oversimplify Duke’s ambitions for the trip.


The tour was conceived by administrators to promote the school’s international expansion with its most visible asset—its basketball team. Duke plans to open a campus in Kunshan, China that will serve undergraduate, global health and business students. As administrators in Durham attempt to build support for the campus despite a more-hesitant-than-expected response from faculty, the basketball team was sent abroad on a goodwill mission to familiarize China with the Duke brand. The concept of an international tour for the basketball team is not new. In 2002, the team took a trip to London to take advantage of the NCAA’s policy of allowing an international trip once every four years provided the travel does not interfere with classes. Teams are allowed 10 extra preseason practices in preparation for such journeys. The Blue Devils’ coaching staff organized such a tour during Duke’s four-day Fall break so that the team could start its season early. That trip was a blur. Duke played four games against European professional teams in two days, leaving little time for anything other than basketball. “It was very condensed, so we really didn’t really have time for sightseeing,” associate head coach Chris Collins recalled. The lengthier August tour of Kunshan, Shanghai, Beijing and Dubai was designed in a way that allowed Duke to use its basketball team away from the court. This time, the team stretched its four games over 14 days, making room for sightseeing and interaction with the community. The public relations objectives were obvious. Before games in China, head coach Mike Krzyzewski spent time not in the locker room but hobnobbing with local leaders, media and even Duke Trustees Xiquing Gao, Janet Hill and David Rubenstein. Krzyzewski and Director of Athletics Kevin White shook hands

A New


and exchanged kind words about basketball and Duke’s interest in China. The team held open practices, toured the Kunshan campus and allowed a film crew to shoot days worth of footage for a documentary. From a basketball perspective, the trip was an obvious success. The players said they benefited from the extra practices and the team won all four of its games. They also climbed both the Great Wall and the Burj Khalifa, which is currently the world’s tallest building. Whether the trip was a success for promoting Duke Kunshan University’s campus is a more complicated question, especially given that some of the effects of the effort may not materialize for months and years to come.


could see that the biggest hurdle for Duke basketball promoting the University’s global image is that the NBA’s popularity in China dwarfs that of college basketball. Mike Cragg, senior associate director of athletics and one of the main orchestrators of the trip, said he knew before the Blue Devils left the United States


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that the professional game is far more popular among the Chinese. In contrast with the NBA figures in attendance at some of the games—Grant Hill, Doc Rivers, Yao Ming and Michael Beasley— Cragg said the Duke players were relatively unnoticed by fans, save for those who gawked at their exceptional height. The culture gap hit me when I saw how much more interested the fans were in Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers than his son, Austin, one of the top incoming player in college basketball. “Clearly the NBA game is what dominates their sports world,” Cragg said from his office two weeks after we returned from the trip. “They didn’t know who Nolan [Smith] was, they didn’t really know who Miles Plumlee was. But they sure as heck knew who Doc Rivers was, Grant Hill, et cetera. To me, that’s the biggest illustration.” Of course, Duke’s goals are long-term. President Richard Brodhead has repeatedly said that the reason the University requires a presence in China is because of the critical role it will play in global affairs in coming decades. Just as the Kunshan campus is still under construction, this trip is a part of building a presence expected to grow in coming decades. Duke hoped to familiarize the media with its name, knowing full well that in many cases the Chinese would be hearing about the school for the first time. In part, the trip gave Duke officials the opportunity to meet with corporate leaders, government contacts and media personnel, said Laura Brinn, director of global communications. She noted that the team received significant attention both before and during the trip. Major news outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, the Shanghai Daily and the China Daily ran stories about the team. The tour also gave the University an opportunity to start social media accounts on Sino Weibo and Youku—Chinese Twitter and YouTube equivalents. So far, the Weibo account has 605 fans. Back at home, the GoDuke


website generated 2.5 million page views while the team was in China and Dubai, White wrote in an email. “By any measurement, this trip was incredibly successful for Duke,” he said. It was clear from the ground, however, that the Duke brand still has significant room to grow in the country. Although the stadiums did not release official attendance figures from Duke’s games, the arenas looked a little bare, particularly compared with the sold-out crowds of Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke Athletics estimates that 22,500 fans were in attendance: 5,000 in Kunshan, 6,000 in Shanghai, 8,000 in Beijing and 3,500 in Dubai. Given the capacities of the venues, these estimates mean that in the three games in China the Blue Devils drew spectators in just under half of the total seats. Of course, for an exhibition game in August, most major basketball programs would have trouble selling out in the United States, let alone abroad. Cragg said the attendance figures were not a surprise. The program’s partners in China advised Duke not to sell seats in the upper bowls because it was unlikely the stadiums would sell out. “I think five years from now, if we were to go back again or if a big school were to go back over, I would hope it’s going to be bigger,” Cragg said. “I would hope that now, because of the exposure that we’ve gotten already, that it will be followed more, and we might be on the heels of really good timing if there is no NBA this year. Maybe their programming becomes college basketball, too. I don’t know [about] any of that, but it’s possible.”


I hen I sat down in Charles Clotfelter’s office in the Sanford School of Public Policy after returning to Durham, the first thing the professor of economics and law noted was the significance of the way

in which universities now market their brands. “It kind of signifies a step in the direction of marketing and corporate identity. That’s what a big institution like Duke, I guess, inevitably must be. It’s a non-profit corporation. It has marketing, it has an image, it has a brand,” he said. Clotfelter is the author of “Big-Time Sports in American Universities,”a book that analyzes the benefits that schools receive from prominent athletics programs and explains the economic incentives that support the system. The last time we spoke, in April and around the time the book was published, he expressed his belief that higher education scholars have traditionally not given athletics attention as a legitimate area of study to the extent that they should. “It is not unreasonable to argue that the academic side of Duke University has benefited significantly from a prominent and rules-abiding athletic program,” he said during our most recent interview. There are two “avenues of influence” in particular that allow universities to use their athletic program to their advantage, Clotfelter wrote in one of the chapters. Top sports teams lure influential and rich alumni and members of the community to the president’s box, where he can build potentially lucrative relationships for the school. Teams that bring home victories also attract TV crews and newspaper articles. “Thanks to media coverage, athletics can be a comparatively inexpensive way to build outside support, given the extremely high costs of the alternatives,” he wrote. It is clear that this trip allowed Duke to use both aspects of its basketball team’s success to its advantage. That’s why it’s so difficult to estimate how much money this trip cost Duke Athletics. The program has declined to disclose figures for the cost of the trip, though Cragg said the $1.3 million estimate of the charter’s price was “in the right universe.” If a donor down the line decides to make a major gift in part because of relationships forged in China, the trip could pay for itself many times over. To judge the true value of the trip, Clotfelter suggested revisiting the University’s mission statement, which stresses teaching, research and service. To do that, Duke has to understand how the China venture fits into this mission, which is a question the University still seems to be Photos by Taylor Doherty

wrestling with. Once that is clarified, Duke can analyze the benefits of the trip more effectively. “Here, [the trip has] got some really tangible payoffs for the academic side,” Clotfelter said. “Are the benefits greater than the costs? I don’t know. But it’s not just nothing. There’s some kind of payoff to whatever is happening over here.” p




16 TOWERVIEW 16 towerview towerview 17

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By Allie Yee

Photography by Madeline Lieberberg

Junk ? O

n the first Friday of September, a family of three stroll into a rather unusual place. An extravagant clutter of odds and ends, the place houses dishes and fabric and lamps and, what is most interesting to two-year-old Katiya, toys. Toys line the counters on either side of an oblong room with board games stacked on one side and doll houses and plastic gadgets scattered on the other. In the middle of the room is a huge tub the length and width of a large desk filled to the rim with trinkets. This was Katiya’s first stop. I met Katiya when she peeked out from a small crawl space under the huge tub which she had claimed as her nook. She looked up at me without saying a word but seemed to ask, “Dontcha wanna see what’s down here?” in that expectant way kids can look at you. I obliged and crouched down to have a look. Bathed in blue decorative lighting, barefoot and dressed in a one-piece floral dress, she looked like an exotic baby princess. She had placed her subjects gathered from the toy tub lined up on the soft cushions in her nook and picked each one up to present to me—several fragments of shells, a couple dolls that were neither fully dressed nor fully limbed and a plastic green frog she had named, appropriately, Frog. Katiya’s subjects are members of a larger collection of American merchandise and textiles that comprise the raw material and creative medium of Elsewhere, an exhibit in Greensboro, North Carolina that centers on this hoard of stuff that is housed in the building. This collection was accumulated largely by Sylvia Gray, grandmother of current Co-director George Scheer. Gray ran a store in this downtown Greensboro space from the late 1930s until 1997. As the business changed forms over the years, fabrics, ribbon cuttings, furniture and buttons, among other things, stocked up. Later on, Gray collected thrift and vintage items to sell and amassed random knick-knacks like toys, books, dolls, vinyl, suitcases, dishes, wigs and lamps. Eventually, she was collecting more than she was selling, and by the time she passed away, she had gathered this random inventory of everyday American material culture. “We used to find a lot of mismatches,” Scheer remembered of sifting through the collection as he and his Co-director, Stephanie Sherman, and some of their friends transformed the store into an exhibit. “Cups that were printed wrong or strange anomalies in the production process. We’d find a bunch of really weird things that were like, this would be normal but the words are backwards on this mug.” Scheer and his friends re-discovered this hoard on a whim in 2003 during a spring break trip when they decided to stop by Greensboro to see the old store George had told them about. In sifting through the massive amounts of objects they saw potential for it to become “a creative playground.” Drawing inspiration from a background in literature and writing, Scheer and his friends hoped to found a creative community that worked within the set of Gray’s collection by moving, sorting, ordering and rearranging the objects. They established Elsewhere as a nonprofit in 2004 and one year later launched an artist residency program, which attracts artists from all over the country for three to six-week tenures, to bring their vision to life. From these beginnings, Elsewhere has grown into one of the most significant exhibits in the Southeast, and it receives 400 to 500 applications for the residency program for every 35-50 available spots, Scheer said.


TOWERVIEW17 25 towerview


he Elsewhere exhibit is an eccentric space that defies standard labels. It is no longer a store because none of the items are for sale. It is also not a traditional art museum in the sense that pieces are presented to passive viewers. Elsewhere is somewhere between the two—something its directors like to call “a living museum.” This living museum is essentially a hoarder’s attic but with high ceilings and interior decoration. Occupying two storefronts, Elsewhere is composed of two rooms jam-packed with odds and ends. One storefront has no glass and instead of the usual window display, there is a small elevated stage that showcases arranged furniture by day and serenading, folksy musicians by night. The huge, gaping window allows passersby a generous view of the exhibit, beckoning them to discover this cornucopia of stuff. Just beyond the storefront stage, a guy wearing a light blue plaid shirt with a trimmed auburn beard stands behind a counter. This is very purposeful post for Chris Kennedy, the education director at Elsewhere. Visitors stroll into the exhibit with wonder and confusion on their faces, and he catches them before they wander in too far and explains what kind of space they are walking into. A little more enlightened and now equipped with brochures, these visitors are released to explore the hoarder’s shop.

I’d like to possibly use that for a project.”

[Folk Feng Shui]


nspiration is not a one-way street at Elsewhere. Scheer and others promote a collaborative process among resident artists and between artists and the community. The exhibit is open from Wednesday to Saturday from 1 to 10 p.m. so that the community can see the artists at work and interact with them and with the exhibit. At one of the artist openings, held the first Friday of every month, Jess Hirsch, an M.F.A. sculpture student from Minnesota, set up shop for her Folk Feng Shui project. It


mong the organized clutter are more intentional arrangements and pieces created by the artist residents. In the middle of the toy section is a display with an old, screen-less television set that people can crouch behind, pretending to be TV personalities. A couple structures, the size of telephone booths, are arranged in the back of the exhibit, one having the sign “Confess-a-torium” above it. In the adjoining room, there is a contraption called the Super Piano Bouncyball where drums, metal pans, a xylophone, a violin, an electric piano and other makeshift instruments are arranged or hung against a wall. The viewer, or musician in this case, grabs a handful of bouncy balls from a jar and throws them against this wall. The balls clang or ping off the instruments, creating

“Bathed in blue decorative lighting, barefoot and dressed in a one-piece floral dress, she looked like an exotic baby princess.” a cacophony of sounds as they go scattering in all directions. Ah, art. These interactive pieces are part of Elsewhere’s vision of being a creative playground. Artists engage visitors in the exhibit, and visitors are encouraged to pick things up, manipulate them, rearrange them and draw inspiration from them. They might see ordinary objects in a different light when they come upon a stone figurine of a Buddha sitting in the living room of a doll house. It can get the wheels turning, make them think—what can I make out of all of this stuff? Those wheels were already turning for Katiya’s father, Ted Efremoff. He and his family had moved to Greensboro just a month earlier for him to take a position as an assistant professor of art at Greensboro College. Not long after arriving at the exhibit, Efremoff was already drawing artistic inspiration from the collection. “I’m thinking of collaborating with this place,” he said. “They have this four person surrey—it’s like a beach surrey that people peddle—and 18 towerview 26 TOWERVIEW

involves rearranging people’s furniture into an art form—bringing energy and artistic value into someone’s home—and then putting it back to the original formation. Besides standard living rooms and bedrooms, she has also feng shui-ed cars, galleries and a foreclosed home. “It’s really intimate to be invited into someone’s home and touch all of their possessions,” Hirsch said as she arranged the contents of someone’s purse in her open-house version of Folk Feng Shui, balancing ChapStick on a cell phone and draping a set of keys over both of them. “I like to get to know the person through the process and make it a positive experience for them.” Jess said her residency at Elsewhere has changed her notions about

domestic space. “It’s really opened up my definition of what the home can be and what space you find attachment to. It doesn’t have to be the place you sleep. It can be the place where you work all the time and where you put your love and attention.”

[Super Wheeley Ball]


loud siren blares from the adjacent room, jostling everyone’s attention. Jess breaks out into a grin and says, “You don’t want to miss that. It’s going to be

CLOCKWISE FROM UPPER LEFT: An assortment of egg objects found at Elsewhere; Co-founder George Scheer; A pair of on-lookers at the Sept. 2nd opening night event; Artist radio hosts sit in the window of the storefront; Artist partake in a game of Super Wheely Ball

Chucks and square-rimmed glasses along with two other artists on the red team. On the yellow team, there was Efremoff, who seemed to have already found his way into the artist community. Another blare of the siren kicked off the game, and the facilitator, dressed in a yellow helmet and a white inspector body suit, threw one ball up into the air. Another artist at the organ began playing a funky, jolly tune as a frantic rush for the ball commenced. Another ball entered the fray and there was a sudden madness, with seven fully grown adults in a 10x10 space charging and ducking and blocking and leaping and running in circles. The balls bounced around into the Super Piano Bouncyball piece and also at one point behind the organ player, who kept playing unperturbed. It was a chaotic ordeal that concluded with a blow of the facilitator’s whistle when Scheer threw the ball into the basket in an acrobatic, leap-dive move. In subsequent rounds, visitors at the exhibit mixed with Elsewhere staff and artists to play the game. None of them probably imagined when they made Friday night plans to attend an art exhibit that they would leap and laugh so much.

[The downtown community]


cheer described the creation of Elsewhere as “an opportunity to consider thoughtful development in a town that was gentrifying and changing.” By inviting artists to Greensboro to become part of the social fabric, Scheer said, Elsewhere is helping to create a far more connected downtown. Artists are not just producing objects per se, but they are producing with a community, and through this interaction, Elsewhere provides a creative, collaborative impetus. Only a month into their new life in Greensboro, Efremoff and his family seem to have molded naturally into the exhibit and the Elsewhere community. Katiya, crawling among the toys and rolling in the nook, was literally inhabiting the space, which her mother hoped to recreate for her at home. Efremoff, who was struck

“You don’t want to miss that. It’s going to be really cool.”

really cool.” This evening was the opening night of Super Wheeley Ball, a game one of the resident artists had created by tying two baskets sideways to a wheelchair-like contraption, and the siren indicated five minutes until game time. As people filtered into the adjoining room, the artist explained that the objective of the game was for each of two teams to throw a small, baseball-sized ball into their team’s basket as the facilitator pushed around the contraption trying to deflect their shots. When a player has a ball, he or she cannot move but can throw the ball to another player. The players gathered around the contraption. There was Scheer in his

with an idea for an art project and a potential collaboration, ended the night as part of Elsewhere’s inaugural team of Super Wheeley Ball. It was just another Friday night, but all of these connections were made possible through the collection and the pieces that people created

out of it. “That’s the other really fun thing about Elsewhere,” Scheer commented. “Can you actually build an organization that is so flexible that it really engages the moment and the happenstance and the chance as significant parts of the experience?” Efremoff would probably say that it can. “I think it’s very visionary of the people who started this,” he said. “To see this collection and say, ‘This is a great resource and we should make a museum out of it—it’s inspiring.” p


If Not Here, Then There: Will We Some Day Regret Not Having Rebuilt the Twin Towers? By Pedro Lasch –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Years before 9/11/2001, when I couldn’t afford to rent a studio in New York, I pursued a “verbal art” project; I asked people the question: “If someone destroyed the Statue of Liberty, would you rebuild it, or turn the ruins into a historical monument?” Everyone asked answered: “Rebuild it, obviously!” Although there are many differences between Lady Liberty and the fallen Twin Towers and my fictional scenario never implied the horror of mass murder, the messy rise of the former Freedom Tower (now officially called World Trade Center 1) and the decision not to rebuild the Twin Towers have shown that there is nothing obvious about the politics of collective healing and recovery. I was born and raised in a neighboring country with a much longer urban history than the United States. My hometown was Mexico City, once the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan. The most important archeological site from the Aztec Empire was discovered right around the time I was born. While digging next to the colonial-era Cathedral for the city’s subway system, Templo Mayor was found, a landmark which for centuries was thought to have been destroyed by the Spaniards, who had the unfortunate habit of smashing the temples of previous civilizations to create the foundations for their own. After much debate, the decision was made not to rebuild the temple, leaving its ruins laid bare as an open wound in the heart of a city that is at once contemporary, colonial and indigenous. The decision to leave a harsh and daily reminder of death and destruction in public view may only 28 towerview 20 TOWERVIEW

be possible after the conflict has cooled off for centuries. Even if we sympathize with the goal of historical awareness, we may regret being deprived of having an Aztec temple in the midst of a modern city, standing as tall as the Spanish cathedral that was meant to erase it. Many argue that not rebuilding the Twin Towers grants victory to those who destroyed them. Others think it is not “American” to dwell in the past, and that new buildings and plans allow us to move on. This short text and the artwork it discusses will not settle the matter, but they will hopefully add some critical and aesthetic insight to a question that involves history, memory, politics and culture. I had been living in New York for more than seven years when the WTC was attacked. I watched speechless from Brooklyn as the second tower came down, knowing that thousands of people had died before me in that very instant. Like many others, I decided to translate the collective anger, trauma and hope for reconciliation into artwork. Wanting to produce a truly international memorial that would consider 9/11/2001 in relation to other major global events, the concept of rebuilding the Twin Towers in different cities around the world came to me almost immediately. I began working on the project in October 2001, when I read that U.S. soldiers had requested that remnants of the WTC be brought to Kabul, to be placed in the middle of the first military camp of Operation Enduring Freedom. I conceived of these fictional Twin Tower reconstructions as works that would develop over many years, out of respect for the depth of the trauma. Between 2001 and 2005, I researched widely, sketched and created possible reconstructions through digital simulations. Among other well-documented, yet little-known facts, I learned that the beams from New York’s Tribute in Light were reconstructed in other cities, projected onto the skylines of Paris, Liverpool, Budapest and Montevideo. In 2006, I began to incorporate these cities and other sites of global significance into elaborate paintings done in defining styles of the Western canon. Entitled Phantom Limbs, these works are at once hopeful, critical and contemplative. A selection of these paintings is currently on view at Stephan Stoyanov Gallery in New York. Although in 2004 I decided that painting would best encompass the historical and emotional range required for my memorial, I later found that social and digital media would best harness the collective imagination needed to consider what it means to picture the Twin Towers rebuilt around the world. In 2006, I began the Twin Towers Go Global project, a complex participatory work which now includes many collaborators, a website and three special anniversary productions for the AND AND AND platform of Documenta 13 in Kassel, Germany. TTGG’s recent international open call to propose host cities for the Towers received almost sixty submissions. p Pedro Lasch is an assistant research professor for the Art, Art History and Visual Studies departments. _________________________________________________

Upper Left: WTC Budapest, one of twelve paintings in the Phantom Limbs series by Pedro Lasch. Courtesy of the artist Lower Right: WTC Baghdad, one of twelve paintings in the Phantom Limbs series by Pedro Lasch. Courtesy of the artist


The TenYear Audible By F. Cartwright Weiland

Coach didn’t cancel practice on 9/11. The sun kept beating down our 15-year-old backs, whistles pierced the air and our cleats dug into the ground. It was football season in Texas, and life fumbled forward as it had to. Still, my friends and I couldn’t wholly escape the shadow that bright September day. For the first time in our lives, we had witnessed global politics shatter our sense of normalcy and gleaned the existence of an evil that could not be rationalized away. We thought of the dead in New York, Pennsylvania, and D.C., and as we played, we did so aware that our country had just been forced to call a giant audible. We’ve been confused ever since. In the ten years since the towers fell, fracture and collapse have become frequent themes in American life. My generation has grown up amid two wars, a dozen crumbling Middle East regimes and the loss of thousands of American soldiers. It has seen the U.S. housing market dry up, banks and industries fail and job opportunities shrink. And it has been warned, time and again, of its own cataclysmic future—one which pundits are sure will include cultural or fiscal bankruptcy, and perhaps both. With perpetually bad news offered to us, it is a wonder that people my age don’t all dress in black. When confronted with the pessimism surrounding public affairs, what we do instead is change the channel and turn up our iPods. This should come as no surprise. When our inheritance is presumed to be so unambiguously bleak, when decades of federal policies have displaced local decision-making in which we no longer take part, and when conversations about our nation’s future are waged in terms and by personalities we scarcely recognize, is it any wonder that many 25-year-olds would rather watch a game, chug a beer or buy some shoes? My generation has been called lazy and self-indulgent, and these traits explain, in part, its resistance toward outward displays of what Tocqueville called “those great and powerful public emotions” in American life. But another important reason for what older generations mistake for political indifference is less frequently mentioned. Sometimes we don’t get the message because the messenger 11 TOWERVIEW

forgot it himself. That messenger has been, at times, the news media, and at others, those educators whose professional obligation it is to cultivate young minds. Throughout our upbringing, journalists and faculty at the colleges and universities where our parents left us to “grow up” have manufactured cynicism and pawned it off on us. When we were in class, we were told to criticize American history, laws, companies and institutions, and when we got home, the 24-hour news cycle bombarded us with stories of scandal, perversion and broken promises. Deep down, we just didn’t really get the stories we were told, so we brushed them aside. The class conflict and deconstructionism presented by faculty didn’t jive with the subtle lessons we had learned from our families, our high schools and our friends. The views offered by angry pundits didn’t make sense when we considered the democratic heroism transpiring around us—seen in the sullied faces of the first responders on 9/11, the aerial gymnastics of that pilot Sully and the high-fives and hand-shakes shared by strangers at tailgates and barbecues we attended. It was like the song being played for us was Elliot Smith, but we kept hearing Toby Keith. Sure, modern America had its problems, but, in general, it just wasn’t a sad and broken place. We refused to be told otherwise. It was the land where, as Tom Wolfe said, “The average electrician, air-conditioning mechanic or burglar-alarm repairman lived a life that would have made the Sun King blink.” Which brings us to the 10th anniversary of 9/11. The patriotic catharsis that day wrought still lingers, will always linger, in us 25year olds for whom the national tragedy foretold other, smaller crises that we have, still have, to overcome. We would, then, politely ask our educated elders to pause for a moment, to take a look around. We would humbly request that they stop talking about or around us and start talking to us, with us, in confident and energetic terms regarding those public challenges we face. And, finally, we beseech them to think back to a day not so long ago, when a Texan stood atop the rubble in New York City and, with megaphone in hand and flags waving, reminded a grieving nation that it was still a winning team. p F. Cartwright Weiland graduated from Duke University in 2008. September 12, he will began his third year at Harvard Law.

{FLIP this magazine for a special September 11th ISSUE}


By Ciaran O’Connor

MY 9 | 11

I feel empty this September 11th, out of the country and away from my home and family in New York City. I passed the morning in silence, alone in my small Parisian apartment watching YouTube. There, I re-watched the second plane rip through the south tower and its cinematic fireball confront the blue Manhattan sky. I watched the south tower collapse, smoke racing down the streets as horrified news anchors struggled to find the words. I watched the falling men and women who had exercised their last moments of control by deciding to jump to their deaths rather than burn alive. I looked at the Facebook of a friend of mine whose mom had died. What could I write to her? 9/11 shook my life—and perhaps my generation—out of its sheltered reverie. I knew people were capable of evil, but I had never felt its hot blast. I knew I was American, but I had never tried to define for myself what that meant. 9/11 was growing up.


Exactly ten years ago, I was seated on the rug where my fifth grade class had assembled for morning homeroom. It was only the second day of school. “Class,” Ali said (we called our teachers by their first names), “a plane has hit the World Trade Center. Do any of you have parents who work there?” The classroom was silent. “Like a little plane?” I asked after a moment. “Like a big plane.” While my classmates and teachers chattered nervously, I quietly went to the shared computer and opened the web browser. “Towers Collapse; Thousands Feared Dead,” read the headline on CNN. Thousands? I retreated to the rug, my fear mixed with sick fascination and a nagging thought that I still wasn’t getting the gravity of what happened. By lunchtime, my mom picked me up. She worked in Times Square and had walked three and a half miles north on Madison Avenue, part of a massive exodus from downtown that included many whose faces were blackened with soot and streaked with blood. As soon as we got home, I turned on the TV, watching the videos of impact and collapse over and over until I was numb. By immersing myself so deeply in the news that day, I was shielding myself from emotions I would have to confront in the weeks, months and years to come. 9/11 indelibly changed the way our generation saw itself and the world. Suddenly, there was evil afoot, manifested in a shadowy, previously little-known organization that had instantly become an existential threat to America. And suddenly, as parents, teachers and presidents constantly reminded us, we were Americans, bound by our freedom. But we were not free from fear. For the first time in my life, I sensed fear all around me. In the week after the attacks, I saw it in the eyes of

the family members posted on street corners handing out missing person signs, mothers and fathers and children afraid to let go of hope, afraid of what would happen if they did. I saw it in the way people looked at my Pakistani friend on the subway; as if any second he might scream “Allahu Akbar!” and blow himself up. And though they were justified as acts of strength and protection, I saw fear in America’s foreign policy choices over the next decade. Ten years later, 9/11’s ghosts still haunt the daily news. Bin Laden is finally dead, but America finds its status, reputation and morale greatly diminished. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, though they are frequently (and shamefully) far from our minds, have cost more than 7,000 lives and contributed almost $1.7 trillion to a sagging deficit that weighs our country down. On 9/12, it was clear that the post-Cold War period in which America existed as a sole, thriving superpower without enemies, as a model which the rest of the world could only hope to emulate, was painfully over. Today, it’s clear that 9/11 permanently rocked the American psyche. Today, accustomed to living with unsustainable levels of debt and a broken political system, our nation remembers the day that forced us to learn to live with insecurity. Immediately after the attacks, as I became more fully aware of my national identity, more engaged in politics, and more determined to understand what could have prompted such hate, I sensed that the America to which I belonged had changed forever. But on its ten-year anniversary I am not thinking so much of the myriad ways in which 9/11 affected the course of our country—I am thinking about how I grew up with 9/11. From two gleaming towers to a smoldering ground zero, from charred rubble to a pristine memorial, 9/11’s memory will fade but never die, just like my childhood.p


The By Emma Miller


’m on the second floor of the expansive Time Warner Center in the heart of Manhattan. All around me are life-size photographs of individuals with fierce looks in their eyes. There are firefighters and paramedics and ironworkers, all frozen in a moment in time. Photographer Joe McNally captured these images in the months following 9/11 using the world’s only giant Polaroid camera. They’re on display here now in this glossy commercial space, set against new digital images of the same individuals in an exhibit called “Faces of Ground Zero, Portraits of the Heroes of September 11, 2001.” The faces in the new photos show ten years worth of lines, but the eyes are the same.


City This

September One woman stands in front of a decadeold photo of a group of New York City high school students. “There’s one thing I notice,” she says to her friend. “They all look so angry.” I look on with her, but I’m not sure if it’s anger I see. These images and their accompanying narrative captions tell tales of tragedy and bravery, of chance and loss. But it’s disorienting to take them in, because as a solemn stream of visitors makes its way through the more than 50 photos spread out across the atrium, a much larger flood of shoppers surges past without a glance at the images. Up the escalator they go, on their cell phones, toting their purchases from J. Crew. Meanwhile, elevator music plays loudly in the background. To my left, a woman with close-cropped hair reads the sign next to a photo of Kevin Scanlon, Firefighter, Squad 18, FDNY, who lost dozens of his peers in the attacks. I watch her as she looks up, and there’s a tear in the corner of her eye. Yet, to my right, dozens of neon signs cover the window of a Borders store—“70-80% Off! Going Out of Business! Closing Sale!” I’m not sure how this makes me feel. But when it comes to me and 9/11, that’s nothing new. It’s become a cliché to say where you

were on the morning of September 11, 2001, to relive the memory of a tragedy, rooted in a particular time and place. The fact is, I’m not even sure where I was that morning. I know I was back home in Miami. I assume I was in school, probably sitting in drama class. I do remember excitedly writing what had happened in my diary: “Today two planes flew into the World Trade Center buildings in New York. All these kids were taken out of school. They are saying on the news that it was terrorists. A lot of people have died.” I imagined myself a sort of Anne Frank, one day documenting my crush of the week and the next writing of death and tragedy. But fundamentally, I felt a disconnect from what had happened, and that’s continued to this day. I had hoped that being in New York for the memorial would make me finally get it. I had hoped that I would be made to feel the pain of the families of those who lost their lives, that I would understand what New Yorkers went through, that I would remember a time when our country was united behind hurt and anger and pride, rather than torn apart by partisanship. But when I took the E Train to Lower Manhattan, “World Trade Center” flashing on the screen to signify the train’s final destination, I felt like I was arriving on a movie

set. Narrow cobblestoned streets, skyscrapers, Asian tourists snapping photos. I stood in front of the bronze sculpture of a tree at Trinity Church—a sculpture built from the roots of a giant sycamore knocked over by wreckage on 9/11. It’s like something out of Narnia, I thought, and then I felt guilty. So now, back at the Time Warner Center, I stand in front of a life-size photo of a man in a janitorial uniform. He has thick eyebrows and thin lips, and I have to tilt my neck back to meet his eyes. “Jan Demczur,” the sign by the photo reads. “Window washer.” The sign tells Demzcur’s story. He was trapped in an express elevator on the 50th floor of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Demczur used the handle of his squeegee to pry open the elevator doors and cut a path through the drywall of the elevator shaft. He and the others in the elevator managed to squeeze through this hole and escape from the building, minutes before the tower fell. There’s a quote by Demzcur at the bottom of the sign. “I can’t talk about it,” it reads. I know what you mean, I think to myself. It’s been ten years since 9/11 and I’ve had half my life to reflect on a tragedy, and I still don’t know what to say. p TOWERVIEW 6



Rob Lenoir and family


By Lindsey Rupp


ohn “Rob” Lenoir, Trinity ’84, wore glasses. After a day of trading bonds at Sandler O’Neill, on the 104th floor of the World Trade Center’s south tower Rob would wrestle with his kids. Usually, he remembered to take his glasses off, until, in the throes of one match, his daughter broke them. He never replaced them with contacts. Rob was killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks 10 years ago along with five other Duke alumni. This month has been one of reflection for the nation, a time to look back and see how far we have come, how we are forever different. A memorial has opened in New York to remember the people who died, including Rob. “I’d rather him not just be a number or a name on the wall at the end of the day, because that’s a person, that’s my dad, and it’s not just another one-of-3,000 statistic,” said Rob’s son, Andrew Lenoir, now a college senior. “And I think in some ways that’s for us to do, and I’m OK with that, that’s part of the separation between personal loss and public loss.”


Rob Lenoir and Susan Haack Lenoir

Thousands of weeks later and hundreds of miles away in Durham, Duke’s loss is still personal, though many on campus may know little about the lives of those who were killed. ob Lenoir was a southern boy naive enough about life up North to ask his girlfriend once whether there were trees in New York, where she was from. Growing up across the South living in Memphis, Atlanta and Columbia, Rob worked hard to get into Duke on a football scholarship as a defensive lineman. But on campus, Rob also valued having a good time and attracted a wide group of friends. He joined Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and though he preferred sleep to morning classes, he was serious enough about his schoolwork to be a B student. The first week of his sophomore year, Rob was walking through campus with a friend when he caught the eye of a freshman girl in his building sitting in her first-floor window. They began dating a few weeks later, and Susan Haack, Trinity ’84, became Susan Haack Lenoir soon after they graduated. “He loved to have fun in life, he was definitely an easy going, gentle giant—you’d take a look at him, he had the football player build with the big neck... but despite that he was definitely a loveable bear,” Susan said. Rob and Susan moved to New York City, where he began working as a banker. At Duke, Rob had lost some of his accent but did not forget his roots—a big Southern family with big Southern traditions—and when his children were born, he wanted to share his experiences with them. He became a storyteller. He would read to his kids, Andrew and Courtney, every night before they went to bed. On the way back from a cruise in Bermuda celebrating Susan’s parents’ wedding anniversary, the family passed the World Trade Center. They decided to take a picture in front of the towers because “that’s dad’s building.” One month later, Rob, 38, was one of 66 Sandler O’Neill employees that didn’t make it home that day, and suddenly Andrew and Courtney became two of the firm’s more than 75 children who lost a parent. Everything is different now. Andrew, a senior at Brown University, had to teach himself to shave; Courtney, a sophomore at New York University, had to rely on others to fill in her largely incomplete memories of her father; and with the kids out of the house, Susan is learning how to be alone for the first time in her life. Although this is the family’s everyday, Rob is still a big presence. The Lenoirs support an orphanage in the Dominican Republic, and they raised enough money to establish a library there in Rob’s name. Andrew wants to become a journalist to use the love of storytelling he got from his father in a way that also “serves a higher purpose.” Courtney, who is designing her own major at NYU, ties her interest in human rights and her extensive activist work to her experience on 9/11. And for all their accomplishments, Susan said her husband would be most proud of his family’s loyalty to each other, their strength as a family. “He’s definitely idolized in my head,” Courtney said. “It’s strange because when you’re a kid you don’t remember a lot anyway. That’s probably the most unfortunate thing about the whole experience is that I was nine, so most of my memories are not full memories, they’re more little tidbits I’ve heard or things I’ve seen in pictures. So it’s kind of like my dad in my head Photos Special to The Chronicle

Peter Ortale



is this larger than life figure, but he still has an impact in my life every day.”


acrosse brought Peter Ortale, Trinity ’87, to Duke from Philadelphia. Small for a midfielder, Peter made up for his size with extra effort, and at Duke he was named a threetime team MVP, a co-captain his senior year and All-ACC. He was an explosive player who led the team in ground balls, played “with reckless abandon” and “wanted to win more than anybody else,” teammates remembered. Some years later, a lacrosse scholarship was founded in his name. Peter valued the pursuit of knowledge and intellectual debates and he nurtured a particular interest in Russian literature. To him, the ultimate luxury vacation was reading “War and Peace” uninterrupted on a beach. “He liked Tolstoy and some of the philosophers and things like that, that was kind of Pete,” recalled friend and former teammate, Dr. Scott Schraff, Trinity ’87. “He was the blue-collar kid who cut his own path, and I think he really identified with people and things that were individualistic, and did things the way he thought they should be done.... He wasn’t going to let people tell him what to do.” When he was looking for a job, his sister, Cathy Grimes, remembers coaching Peter for banking interviews after he returned from time abroad. “It was so funny what he thought would be reasonable answers,” she recalled. Yet Peter did land a job in New York’s financial industry and in May 2000, he married Mary Duff. Sixteen months later, at 37, Peter went to work in the Euro Broker offices on the 84th floor of the World Trade Center’s south tower. He didn’t leave, but with his strong morals and loyalty to his friends, Peter’s teammates are convinced he got held up trying to help others make it out, too. This September, Peter’s family and friends gathered at a bar he frequented, The Bailey Pub & Brasserie, where a portrait of Peter hangs. The celebration aimed to raise money for the scholarships in Peter’s memory at Duke and at his high school, The William Penn Charter School. It was a chance to remember Peter and celebrate the things that mattered most to him, his sister said. “He was a person who was an explorer, a truth seeker, adventurous, extremely generous,” Cathy said. “I think his attitude was: What are you saving for? What do you care? Let’s just go. Let’s just do. If you didn’t have the means and he did— you’re in. If neither of us have the means, we’re going to improvise, you’re never going to let an experience be fleeting. Just go and do.”

parents and sister. That house was usually full of friends—boys sleeping over before the next morning’s practice or sparring in knee-hockey in the playroom. Todd would remain close with those childhood friends, who, even after Todd went to boarding school in Connecticut, came back to the Pitman’s every summer. Gary Gerst, who was introduced to Todd as a toddler, now tells his children stories about their “Uncle Todd in the sky.” Two years after graduating from Duke and joining Cantor Fitzgerald, Todd moved to Tokyo to lead its currency and trading division in Asia. After moving to New York’s East Village in 2000, Todd bought the property next to his father’s lake house, drew designs and contacted an architect about building a home there to have everything in place for the time he could stop working in the city. He figured he needed a little more than 10 more years. The week of September 3, 2001, Todd returned to the city after celebrating his 30th birthday in his hometown of Skaneateles, New York,

it? What can you do for good? As much as we have this memorial for 9/11 and how horrific it was, there’s a 9/11 every day but it’s just a small one.”


or A. Todd Rancke, Trinity ’81, Duke was a family place. Two of his three older sisters, Pam Schroeder, School of Nursing ’75, and Cynthia Bienemann, Nursing ’78, were alumni and later, two nephews played baseball and lacrosse there. Duke is also where Todd met his wife, Debbie Basham, whose parents lived in Durham. The two were married in the Duke Chapel before moving back to Todd’s hometown of Summit, N.J., where his parents and siblings still live. In his own time at Duke, Todd joined Phi Delta Theta fraternity. A clean-cut, active guy, Todd was never alone on campus and hardly said no to any invitation to go anywhere. After graduation, Todd worked at Bear Stearns and moved to Sandler O’Neill in the 1990s. There, Todd was a role model. Fred Price, managing principal at Sandler O’Neill, who initially tried to recruit Todd from Bear Stearns when the firm opened but was turned down until a few years later, remembered young employees would seek advice from Todd. His friendliness and approachability drew the admiration of his co-workers and clients who liked him so much they would vacation with the Ranckes. Although Todd worked hard at the office, he was a dedicated family man at home. Every Sunday after church, the family would go to lunch, Debbie remembered, then go home and get on their bikes and ride in formation: in the front, the three children— —Gary Gerst Todd Christina, Brittany and Todd—in the middle and herself in the back. where Gary’s family had thrown him a surprise On “Take Your Daughter to Work Day,” Todd party. That week, he called an architect about brought his eldest, Christina, to visit his office building his cabin on the lake, and he went back on the 104th floor. The fast elevator hurt her upstate for the weekend to help his dad at his own ears, but she could play on his computer, meet lake-front property. Dressed in a button-down the other kids and see what he did all day. Now shirt and jacket that had been his style since the a junior at Southern Methodist University, going ninth grade, he watched Gary coach a varsity soc- to work with Todd remains one of Christina’s facer team to a shootout victory and then the two vorite memories. went downtown for drinks. Three days later, at “I was with him for 11 years, but I still rememwork in Cantor Fitzgerald’s offices in the north ber I admired him for his ability to maintain such tower, Todd died. good relationships and friendships,” Christina Todd’s father, Eric Pitman, built the lake house said. “He really was just one of those people who his son did not have time to see completed and got along with everybody.” stood in as best man at Gary’s wedding in 2002. One Saturday in early September, Todd and Still, 10 years later, Todd has continued to give his family went to his niece’s engagement party in through his family and friends. They created the Connecticut. On the way home, Todd and Cynangel fund Todd’s Fund to provide financial assis- thia’s husband, in separate cars, raced to see who tance for families whose children’s lives have been would get there faster, laughing the whole ride. affected by tragedy, which Gary hopes his oldest Arriving in Summit that night, Cynthia recalls, son, Nathan Todd Gerst, might someday help run. was the last time she saw her brother. Three days It has raised more than $750,000 in Todd’s name. later, Todd, 42, went missing in the south tower And at Todd’s high school, The Hotchkiss School, of the World Trade Center after placing a call to a fund still stands in Todd’s mother’s name that he his wife. When the towers fell, the haze was viscreated for students who could not afford to travel ible from New Jersey. Todd’s family went into the home for the holidays—a donation he kept secret city for days, searching hospitals for him with the from even his family. It now bears his name, too. help of a “60 Minutes” crew led by Todd’s neigh“I can’t ever say now that things happen for bor. When Todd’s memorial service took place, a reason because you can’t ever tell me that there a crowd turned out to remember the man they was a reason that happened,” Gary said. “There’s called, “Mr. Mayor.” Since then, Debbie has rethings that happen, but what you have to realize married and moved with the children to Florida. is in a horrible situation, what can you learn from Christina is in Dallas, Brittany in college in Flori-

“There’s things that happen, but what you have to realize is in a horrible situation, what can you learn from it? What can you do for good? As much as we have this memorial for 9/11 and how horrific it was, there’s a 9/11 every day but it’s just a small one.”


hristopher Todd Pitman, Trinity ’93, knew in high school that he wanted to go to Duke and knew soon after stepping onto campus that he wanted to work on Wall Street. He watched basketball games, played club hockey and bonded with his Delta Tau Delta brothers. A quietly competitive economics major, he took Japanese—the language his grandmother spoke around the house she lived in with Todd’s 9 TOWERVIEW



n the 10 years since Sept. 11, people have moved, remarried, changed jobs and become hard to find. Although Towerview reached out to family and friends of Frederick Rimmele and Michael Taylor, only one friend responded and her memories are included in this piece. Several remembrances have been written for the two over the years, and they serve to help create a portrait of their lives at Duke and beyond. It’s easy to see these men as victims. It’s easier still to see them as simply strangers who graduated years ago, far-removed from Durham and from Duke. As different as these men were from each other or even current students, they were individuals with one striking similarity beyond the tragedy we memorialize. They were connected to Duke, and their lives were worth celebrating. “You don’t remember people for how they left us, you remember them for how they were,” Andrew Lenoir said of his father, Rob. “I recognize that the focus is the event of 9/11, it’s been 10 years but I think that’s the way everyone wants to remember him—as the man that he was, not necessarily how he was taken from us.” p

Christopher Todd Pitman Todd Rancke Fredrick Rimmele III


rederick Rimmele III, School of Medicine ’94, practiced academic family medicine in northern Massachusetts after completing medical school at Duke—a place he loved to ter Ortale complain about in a way that was constructive and good-natured, one friend, Moshe Usaid, Medicine ’94, said at his memorial service. The “curmudgeon in residence” had a sharp sense of humor and sarcasm that he used in writing a column in the medical school’s newspaper. Fred found ways to cope with his distaste for the Triangle area. He didn’t let his love for being outdoors be squashed by his lack of a car. “He would treat it like a prize, ‘Who gets to bring me?’” recalled Dr. Katharine Kevill, Medicine ’94. With his medical school friends he fished in the Eno River, swam in the quarry and explored swamps. He met his wife outdoors, too, the summer after graduating while hiking in New Hampshire. He proposed to her a year later in Maine—on a mountain— and they married in 1997 in a small, lakeside town. “Fred was an Eagle Scout, amateur naturalist, faithful church-going Episcopalian, a consummate Scrabble player, a dabbler in the stock market, a hopeless romantic, a homebrewer and a loyal friend,” his wife, Kim Trudel, wrote in a Duke Magazine memorial in 2001.“His disposition was naturally curious and inventive. His playful personality intertwined seamlessly with his firm moral compass and his natural ability to lead.” Patients felt comfortable around Fred, the kind of doctor that took extra time to talk with them and show that he cared. New patients would ask for the doctor with the beard and the ponytail. Even as a practicing physician, Fred helped keep the group of medical school friends together, Kevill said, going through his phonebook to check in on people and instigating gatherings. On the way to a conference in Monterey, Calif., Fred, 32, boarded United Airlines Flight 175 the morning of Sept. 11 to travel from Boston to Los Angeles. Forty-nine minutes after taking off, the plane plowed into the south tower. But even though his life wasn’t long, Kevill said his commitment to working to make the world better was as clear to see as it is missed. “He died a happy man,” she said in an interview. “He loved his life, he loved his wife, he loved his friends, he loved being outside and he loved his job.... He took no prisoners.”


ichael Morgan Taylor, Trinity ’81, earned his bachelor of science from Duke and went on to get a master’s in chemistry and business administration from the University of California at Los Angeles. Three years after leaving Duke, Michael arrived in New York City, a stark contrast to his small-town home in western Pennsylvania, and went to work for Cantor Fitzgerald trading high-yield bonds. A quick-witted brother with three younger siblings, Michael’s brother Jim Taylor and sister Mary Kaye Crenshaw remembered his everready one-liners and meticulous, disciplined approach to his hobbies, in a Duke Magazine memorial in 2001. An avid golfer, Michael would spend hours practicing his swing. All that time paid off—in exchange for golf lessons, he was able to convince a friend and NASCAR driver to teach Michael to drive the Porsche he bought. During the long Labor Day weekend in 2001, Michael visited his parents and played golf. He shot a 73, Jim recalled, the best round of the 42 year old’s life. Michael, who, like Todd Pitman, worked in the Cantor Fitzgerald office in the north tower, went back to work a few days later and after sending a hurried instant message to a trader in Chicago that something had exploded in the World Trade Center, was not heard from outside the building again. Jim wrote that he calls happy memories of his brother, “Michael Moments.” “Anyone who lost someone in New York or Washington has their own ‘Michael Moments.’ These flashes in time bring us joy and a reason to smile. For me, it’s a time to remember my brother’s mischievous grin, his playful nature, his nervous pacing around a room or his attention to detail.”

Michael Morgan Taylor

da and “little Todd,” a senior in high school, is applying to schools, but Todd remains in their lives. “It’s so unfortunate what happened, but he touched so many lives in such a good way that something beautiful came out of that,” Debbie said. “We have such wonderful memories because my children were very close to him. The children that were born after 9/11, my heart just goes out to them, because we were so fortunate for our children to know him so well and be so close to him, and I thank God for that every day.”


Special Issue


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n ew s


C u lt u re

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Contents My 9/11


By Ciaran O’Connor

The City This September


Remembering Duke’s Lost


The Ten-Year Audible


By Emma Miller

By Lindsey Rupp

By F. Cartwright Weiland

Letter from the Editors We have no 9/11 stories to tell. Like most Americans, we were far from New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. that day. Like most children, we were hesitant in our responses to tragedy. At twenty and twenty-one, we feel we should have learned the practice. Certainly, as Editors of this magazine, we have a responsibility to remind our readers of September 11, 2001, to provide content that sheds light on its weight and its truths. So we have turned to individuals who are equipped to articulate that story. Ciaran O’Connor, Emma Miller and Cart Weiland share their experiences. Professor Pedro Lasch shares his artwork. And Lindsey Rupp shares the stories of those victims who once called this campus theirs. We hope their words will honor this anniversary. Your Editors,

On the cover: 9/11 tribute. The names of those lost fill the towers. Duke alumni are in blue. Cover Design by Nathan Glencer TOWERVIEW 2

Find it on Chronicle newsstands now


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September 2011 Issue  

9/11 Anniversary Issue

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