EMBODIED VOLUME 6
T h e T h ro w b a c k I s s u e
EMBODIED Editor-in-Chief Jake Nevins Creative Director Devyn Olin Managing Editor Alice Hindanov Layout Designer Zoe Priest Section Editors Happenings | Laura Jung Arts & Culture | Jordan Sitinas & Carly Valentine The View | Annie Felix
Cover Photo: Felix Chan
In This Issue HAPPENINGS
ARTS & CULTURE
Escape the sweltering NYC summer with these roadtrip destinations.
A review of Kanye’s seventh album.
Hillary vs. Bernie.
Flee the City
Hashtag TBT Historical figures and their imaginary social media pages.
Student Artist Spotlight NYU filmmaker Cyán Williams.
Split at the Root
Chatting with the co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival.
In defense of Greek Life.
Before & After On Richard Linklater.
Felix Chan More from the photo-maestro behind Embodied’s cover.
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
People like to be nostalgic about the past. They say cinema was better in the heyday of Old Hollywood or that contemporary literature has yet to produce a classic or that our collective morale has decayed or, as your father pulls an old record out of his stash, that music these days is all auto-tune and no talent. They may be right or they may be wrong, but their wistfulness is not unmerited; if tastes and preferences are formed in our youth, then the agent of our infectious nostalgia is simple: pop culture is particularly obsessed with its own past, hooked on its older, purer iterations. This sixth issue of Embodied, then, our “Throwback” issue, aims to explore this obsession, to bridge the past and the present and make two putatively incompatible things whole. Marcel Proust once wrote that “Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.” When Embodied endeavored to spend this semester creating an issue that hearkened back to the past — the rise and fall of our foremost gastronomic vice, Chipotle, our favorite nostalgia-inducing albums, the fifteen-year history of the Tribeca Film Festival — we encountered this same sort of transmutation. Some things in our culture have aged like a fine wine, while other contemporaneous artifacts have not. We realized that the most effective way to execute a “throwback” issue was to modernize and to reimagine, to consider the arts and culture of yesteryear through our 21st century goggles. Devyn Olin, our creative director, conceptualized and styled a photo-shoot that brought our favorite film heroines from the 1950s to the early aughts back to life. She procured clothing from many sources — the Embodied editorial board, friends and roommates, the sartorial buffet that is the East Village vintage scene — and captured the libertine spirits of femme fatales like Carmen Jones and Catherine Tramell. Zianna Milito wrote about one of our favorite new book releases of the spring, Rebecca Traister’s All the Single Ladies, which charts the political ascent of America’s most empowered voting cohort today, unmarried women. Also in this issue, Nathaniel Nelson dove into the career of Richard Linklater, whose films, most notably the Before trilogy, have always considered the past and the present as inextricably linked, playing with idea of time, facing both its mystifying circularity and doleful reality. In The View, the section of our magazine devoted to the opinions of Gallatin students, Annie Felix considered the existential crack-up of the Democratic Party in a piece called “Split at the Root.” She aims to understand the party’s two figureheads, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and to diagnose what seems to be the ideological schism that separates the Democratic electorate. The result is a think-piece that’s topical, impassioned and engaging. Perhaps the silliest but most potent osmosis of the past and the present can be found in a piece called “Hashtag TBT,” where Becky Hughes imagined the social media accounts of historical figures like James Baldwin, Cleopatra and Alexander Graham Bell. Would they, too, have been addicted to Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, et al.? It’s hard to say, but as millennials, no one’s more fit than us to hypothesize. Jake Nevins
what’s goin’ on 5 9
Manus X Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology
The exhibition will chronicle the transition from handmade to machine-made presenting garments that date from the 20th century to the present.
Kite Flight at Socrates Sculpture Park
I remember a time when I would run out to my grandmother’s garden with my kite spool while she would stand on her balcony holding my lavender-colored kite. She would let go of the kite and we’d laugh and gush like it was the best thing we’d ever seen. -Annie Felix
The Shostakovich Trilogy at The American Ballet Theatre
The Shostakovich Trilogy is a plotless ballet choreographed by ABT’s Artist-in-Residence Alexei Ratmansky to Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich’s orchestral work. Ratmansky weaves together movement and music to animate the complicated currents of Soviet life. -Jordan Sitinas
GMA Summer Concert Series
Every Friday morning during the summer months, Good Morning America hosts their iconic free concert series at Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield. The concert series always manages to pull in both contemporary and old-school artists that excite everyone.
25 all month
Cyndi Lauper and Boy George at Beacon Theatre Cyndi Lauper provided the soundtrack to very formative years of my childhood. With the very intense pressures of being a child weighing down on my small head, Lauper’s lyrics to “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” were a constant reminder to do just that...have fun.”-Carly Valentine
“But A Storm is Blowing Through Paradise”
This is the third exhibition in the Guggenheim’s Global Art initiative, highlighting the fragmented and shifting geographical region of the Middle East and North Africa. Through a complex circulation of ideas drawn from science, mathematics, and philosophy as they were developed in the area, the works explore how the past informs the present.
Our favorite things both old and new, brought to you by the E-board. Illustrations by Tyler McGillivary
Souvenir Jackets | Tamagotchi | Fleetwood Macâ€™s second eponymous album | The Crucible on Broadway, starring Saoirse Ronan Pastoral dresses | Hitchcockâ€™s North by Northwest | Cherry Bombe magazine | Sony Walkman | Narcopolis, a novel by Jeet Thayil
7 | Happenings
FLEE THE CITY Summertime means one thing: roadtrips. Four places to visit and the playlists to take you there. by Jane Morgan
HUDSON NEW YORK
Hudson has become an art and cultural mecca and is the perfect place to visit if you want to get away from the sweltering asphalt and packed parks of the city. If you can, plan your two-hour trip to Hudson around the Basilica Farm and Flea (various weekends) and Basilica Soundscape (September). The Farm and Flea features artist workshops, locally made gifts, vintage clothes aplenty, and amazing food. Soundscape is the experimental music and art festival that has developed a cult following and has become a sacred tradition and oasis, making Hudson an idyllic destination for music lovers. Both events take place at Basilica, the premiere multidisciplinary arts center, but the arts extend to other areas of the town too, with Club Helsinki Hudson being the spot to catch local bluegrass, folk, and alt-rock (and dinner, among a string of other downtown spots). To set the mood of your weekend, listen to some favorite Soundscape alums on the drive up.
TUNES TO TAKE YOU THERE “In the Beginning” | Weyes Blood “Queen” | Perfume Genius “Caves of Paradise” | Actress “Control” | Majical Cloudz “Malachite” | Lydia Ainsworth “Feel You” | Julia Holter
“Downtown” | Majical Cloudz
RHINEBECK NEW YORK
A quick two-and-a-half hour drive will take you to Rhinebeck in the Northern Hudson River Valley. To get you ready for a much-needed breather from the city, listen to lo-fi synth and dream pop from some New York favorites like Chairlift and Blood Orange. Rhinebeck is one of the sweetest small towns around, a downtown haven for great food, art and antiquing. Go for a weekend and hit all the spots. Make a visit to Rhinebeck Farmers Market for live music and local fare from neighboring farms and food purveyors. Catch the latest indie movies at Upstate Films, the nonprofit movie theatre with very important homemade cookies. End your trip with a Sunday Jazz Brunch at the Rhinecliff Hotel before heading back to the city.
TUNES TO TAKE YOU THERE “Blue and Gold” | Future of What “Polymorphing” | Chairlift “Chamakay” | Blood Orange “Is It Possible / Sleep Song” | Frankie Cosmos “Water Water” | Empress Of “Hour” | Porches “Get Out” | Autre Ne Veut
8 | Happenings
“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.” Jack Kerouac
Ditch the New York beach scene and head to Newport for the weekend. Home to the constantly growing and genre-expanding Newport Folk Festival, there is more to this beach town than old money and historic mansions. Go to the wharf for some shopping and fresh seafood, or head downtown to hit galleries and rooftop bars. Most importantly, go to the countless beaches lining the town and take in the views from the Cliff Walk. If the commute and crowds for Gov Ball seem a little overwhelming, instead try the Folk Festival this July and get your beach and festival fix in the same go. There are plenty of cool events that pop up at the same time catering to the festival crowd, and the waterfront state park setting is hard to beat. Plus, you have a three-hour drive to familiarize yourself with one of the year’s most fun lineups (and listen to some bonus not-quite-folk summertime goodness to get you ready for the beach).
TUNES TO TAKE YOU THERE “Bored in the USA” | Father John Misty “Señorita” | Vince Staples “Memoir” | Villagers “Horizons” | The Staves “Chasing Pirates” | Norah Jones (Santigold Remix) “Higher” | SBTRKT feat. Raury “Waves” | Kanye West
If you need to get a little further away, drive across the border and head to Montreal for a long weekend. The six-hour drive is beautiful, and it feels exciting and invigorating to be in a different city with such a dense and diverse cultural scene. It also feels exciting to be reminded that Canada is home to some of the most innovative artists around right now, so you should only listen to Canadians on the journey up (this will not be hard). If you’re there at the end of July, make the trip to Osheaga, Montreal’s music and arts festival. Otherwise, grab a bagel in Mile-End and explore. The music and nightlife scene in Montreal is one of the best, so pick a couple of good shows to see at night. During the day, hit the cool kid shops, head to Librairie Drawn & Quarterly, Musée des Beaux Arts, and get some O’Farrell maple syrup to bring back.
TUNES TO TAKE YOU THERE “Summer Sixteen” | Drake “Afterlife” | Arcade Fire “What Do You Mean” | Justin Bieber “Gimmie Love” | Carly Rae Jepsen “Surrounded” |Ryan Hemsworth “Flesh Without Blood” | Grimes “No Excuse” | Jacques Greene
9 | Happenings
Embodied imagines some of historyâ€™s greatest minds had they lived in 2016. Created by Becky Hughes
CyĂĄn Williams is inspired by human nature, by anything that appears to be odd or jarring. A junior transfer in NYUâ€™s Tisch School of the Arts who hails from Trenton, New Jersey, her films are heavily influenced by experimental jazz, Afrofuturism, black aesthetic, science fiction, and the natural world. Channeling her original love of writing into a visual medium, she aims to create something that can be read through film, an experience that both challenges and enchants her visual readers. Interview by Hannah Baek Photographed by Jonelle Boafo
Could you talk to me about your love of writing and how reading and books inspire you?
things down: what kind of emotion is this instrument trying to convey? Whatever emotion I feel, I go with that and I write.
I grew up in a household where we were not allowed to watch cartoons. And on Saturdays, if we weren’t put in sports, then we would have to go to the library and we spent almost, if not all day, at the library or at the park. So books became my best friend because there was nothing else for us to do except read books. I started thinking, “Wow, these stories are so cool. I could create my own story. I have a big imagination, why not?” I would spend the night at my friend’s house and we would write stories. I would write one part and then she would write her part, and then we would write the ending part together. That’s when I decided I wanted to write one day for people. When I started getting older, I was also introduced to film because my mom loved old TCM movies [Turner Classic Movies] from the 1920s and 30s, and she introduced me to a lot of movies from the 80s because that was when she was a teenager. My brother, he grew up dyslexic and he didn’t like reading because it was hard for him. I wanted him to read my stuff so bad so I was like, “You’re not going to read it, so what if one day I make it into a movie?”
Nature inspires me to write because I have this belief that everything is connected. When we die, we go back into the dirt, and we turn into dust. You’re created out of nothing. We don’t really know where this earth came from. Or what we’re doing. When I create, or when I write, I think about the connection it has to somebody else, or I think about how other people see this and how do they go about changing their journey and their life. I believe we’re all on journeys, going where, who knows. I think that everything, every material on this earth, has a purpose.
What’s your process like? My process starts off with my writing, so I always write things that I feel are unusual. I really like working with narratives where there’s no speaking at all. You know how when you’re reading some people speak out loud, but usually most people don’t read out loud. It’s in their heads. I want bring that into the film. I want you to feel like you’re reading. I want people to feel kind of uncomfortable so I write things normally, but I guess it’s the visuals I want to throw people off with. I want things to be familiar, but not familiar. Comfortable, but uncomfortable. Relatable, but something you’ve never seen before. Do you feel like your films have a political tinge ever, or is it more about a purely emotional experience? Sometimes I feel like there’s a political tinge, but I don’t necessarily do or say things to make a political statement. I do things because it’s something that I feel. If I feel like talking about something, I’ll put it in the film, but I don’t want to put it somewhere where you think “Oh! That’s what that means.” I want it to be something you pick up on your own. One of the films I did for class last semester was about hair, black women and hair. The beginning scene was a woman sitting with a crown on her head, and after watching it, [the class] were like, “Oh, this is about more than just hair.” But I was like, “No, this is just about hair.” I think most of the time I go for experimental. Certain things that I think in my head are not necessarily things other people think in their head. So if it comes out political, cool. If it makes you feel a certain type of emotion, that’s cool too. I just want to create so people can feel different kinds of emotions. Could you speak to the things that influence your filmmaking process? Music is a really huge part of how I create. Jazz is a really big part. Jazz is like literature, but in just instruments. It’s like somebody talking, but in just a musical form. When I listen to jazz, I try to listen to every instrument that I’m hearing. That’s how I break
Another influence to me is people of color. Mostly black women, mostly because it’s what I grew up around. It’s who I grew up around. I’ve just been influenced by so many different things that I think that it would be a disservice to those people, and people around me, to not put these influences in film. Whenever we read a book, we don’t necessarily think of a person of color, but we think of white/male/middle America? We don’t really think about anybody of color. So when I write, I think, “Who is this character? Is this character Asian? Is this character Latina? Is this character queer?” Why does everything always have to be whitewashed? I feel like your films and your art are studies or meditations. You’re trying to convey a kind of thought process. It’s not necessarily verbal, but it has a sort of literary feel to it. What is it about the experience of reading that you love so much? Representation is really important. I feel like if you don’t read books about yourself, books that really interest you, you’re going to hate it. The way I feel about reading is that I can always see myself in the story. I like to be taken to another place. Toni Morrison is one of my favorite authors because it’s like poetry, the way she writes. She writes in riddles, but it’s poetry. You’re not sure how to feel because you’re feeling so many emotions. How might you describe the aesthetic of your art? My aesthetic is fucking messy. My complete aesthetic is a mess, but it works. My films are going to look like a mess, but it works. I feel like the aesthetic is more of...a trash aesthetic? Something that’s really creepy but it meets the city or country or space. I don’t know...SoHo utopia? It sounds fucking messy. Yeah, it is fucking messy! It’s so fucking messy. I just want to mash so many things together. I’ll say Afrofuturism, because that’s mostly what my art is. People usually think of sci-fi when they think of Afrofuturism. But to me, Afrofuturism is taking the aesthetics of Afrocentricity and putting them into the things of now, the things of the future, thinking beyond your past. There are so many tropes and stereotypes, things that people think of when they think of blackness. There are so many different things we think about each other, no matter what ethnicity you are. And I want to take those things we think about each other, and let us see them, but then take it to another place where it’s kind of distorted. It’s just something you have to see. Or read.
STYLE ON THE SQUARE Photographed by Coleman Fitzgerald
The Critics’ Circle
In its fourth season The Americans continues to be an unacknowledged masterpiece. In “Stingers,” the tenth episode of The Americans’ third season, Philip and Elizabeth Jennings sit their teenage daughter Paige down around their dining room table. As she shifts her anxious gaze from parent to parent, it appears that we’re about to hear, “Your father and I love each other very much, but just not the way we used to.” Although the scene’s set up in such a way, Philip and Elizabeth are not about to split. Instead, they tell Paige that they are spies, sleeper agents sent to the U.S. almost two decades prior from Mother Russia. The premiere of Season Four of The Americans, which aired March 16, examines the consequences of the Jennings’ reveal. The drama that was initially interested in questioning and problematizing the sanctity of marriage as we know it has expanded into one involving every member of a family, the secrets they share and the ones they hide. Three years ago we were introduced to the Jennings. On the surface, Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth (Keri Russell) are your average Waspy couple; with their two kids, home in the D.C. suburbs, and cover job as travel agents, they have been able to successfully blend in as Americans — even more of a feat considering they’re living during Reagan’s xenophobic regime.
Then there’s Paige (Holly Taylor), their teenage daughter who isn’t so much angsty, but intuitive enough to know that something is off with her parents. She has a right to be upset as they’re the ones getting home late and making lame excuses for their absence. Desperate for something real to grasp onto, to be passionate about, Paige soon finds herself attending a local church, much to her parents’ chagrin. Henry (Keidrich Sellati), the youngest Jennings, remains oblivious, and practically spends the first three seasons of the show immersed in video games. Since it first aired, critics have raved about the show, comparing it to The Sopranos for its depth, performances, and ability to challenge viewers’ expectations. But like other acclaimed FX shows (Justified, Louie), The Americans remains trapped with the “critical darling” label, and not only receives very little awards attention, but struggles to pass the million-viewer mark week to week. It’s unfortunate, because in its fourth season, The Americans remains television’s best and most nuanced drama. Paige, and the anxiety she faces after learning of her parents’ secrets, takes control of Season Four. In its early episodes Paige must cope, at a much faster rate than her parents, with the new identity thrust upon her. She’s not just an American teenager growing up in the 80s, but an American teenager with parents who are not Americans and spend their days committing the highest form of treason. The burden proves to be too much and she understandably confides in the only person she trusts: her pastor, Pastor Tim. 16 | Arts & Culture
Philip and Elizabeth soon learn of their daughter’s betrayal and the first few episodes deal with the difficult decision they must make. They could always run, raise their American kids in the homeland. They could kill the pastor and hope that Paige never learns of their unforgivable act. Or they could stay and do their best to convert the man to their cause, make him an asset. Like with everything and everyone in The Americans, there’s no easy decision and there’s certainly no right one. It’s part of what makes The Americans so complex. No one has a single motivation and, in a way, its identity politics are more in line with Mad Men’s than The Sopranos. The Americans doesn’t show people as unchanging; rather, it reveals that we all put on s masks, or in the case of Philip and Elizabeth, wigs. Outside of the Jennings clan we have Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich), who is still dealing with his new new bachelor status and his betrayal of Nina Sergeevna (Annet Mahendru). He’s also figuring out how best to go about his burgeoning friendship with Oleg Burov (Costa Ronin), a Russian diplomat working at the Soviet embassy who was in love with Nina before she was sent to the Gulag at the end of Season Two. His alliances are all over the place, and season four continues to show Stan, the sole patriot at the beginning of the series, losing faith in the institutions he used to unquestionably revere. While having shots and scenes of Nina in isolation has worked considerably well for over a season, her situation in prison, her refusal to betray anyone else and turn over a new leaf, seem like
Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861-2008, the Brooklyn Museum’s five month retrospective, is the first significant exhibit to examine the lure of the historic destination. For over 150 years, Coney Island has both influenced and been influenced by American culture. In this exhibit, the constantly changing nature of the peninsular neighborhood is epitomized, documenting the many different sides of this majestic place in Brooklyn’s southwest corner.
a dead end for the character, who initially worked at the Soviet embassy before being blackmailed into becoming an American asset before, once again, turning back to her home country. Then there’s Martha, poor Martha, as so many have learned to call her. She was a secretary at the CIA; in Season One we saw Phillip, disguised as an internal affairs person named Clark, first grill her, before seducing her, and later marrying her. In late Season Three and more so in Season Four she has a vague idea of his massive deception and must wrestle with the fact that the man she loves has essentially ruined her life. What else can she do but move forward? There are a couple of new characters in season four of The Americans, another veteran sleeper agent (played by The Good Wife standout Dylan Baker) and recurring players include Gabriel (Frank Langella), the Jennings’ handler, who remains a mystery despite insisting that his loyalties lie with the Jennings. There are also the standard heists, killings, and seductions that have become trademarks of The Americans. But beneath it all we have a layered drama that is more concerned with dissecting each of these characters — their pasts and presents, their dreams and delusions, and, perhaps most significantly, their loyalties, to their countries, to each other, and to themselves. by Eric Eidelstein
Coney Island is regarded as one of Brooklyn’s most popular and highly scrutinized attractions; this exhibition delves into its history in a multimedia examination. The inherent juxtapositions of Coney Island are presented through fine art, pop culture, comic strips, movie clips, traditional photography, surreal paintings, vintage posters, and contemporary artwork. The exhibition utilizes approximately 140 objects to shed light on not only Coney Island, but the changes in the country’s artistic methods. The exhibition is in chronological order, emphasizing the fact that Coney Island first began as a social gathering place for the wealthy before becoming a full-fledged luxurious epicenter for entertainment. This exhibition does not solely deify Coney Island, though, also exposing decades of urban decline, concluding with the closing of the island’s last remaining amusement park, Astroland. In recent years, Coney Island has been revitalized; it’s now a lively community of rapid growth, as portrayed in the final gallery of the exhibit. Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861-2008, appeared in the Brooklyn Museum’s newly renovated gallery, an apropos domain in which to tell the story of an ever-evolving part of New York. The exhibition’s use of sound parallels the noisy energy of the destination itself. Found throughout the gallery are illustrations of dreams and nightmares, empty beaches and crowded ones, openings and closings, aspirations and anguishes; these many binaries are a unified metaphor for the forever-adaptive and growing organism that is our nation, the very pulse of which could be found in Coney Island itself. by Audrey Stiffle 17 | Arts & Culture
All the Single Ladies:
Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation I’m walking down the aisle of a Boeing 737. I find my seat, 16B, and toss my jacket onto it, signaling to the man sitting in the aisle seat that I’ll need to scoot in. I smile at him, and he stands up. I open the overhead bin and squat down to pick up my overpacked suitcase. It’s just on the verge of being too heavy for me, but I manage to lift it up to my eye level. I lean back, trying to ground my body, to gather as much strength as I can, and with the suitcase still suspended air, I hear him holler: “You got it?” The combination of that question and the presence of him and another man hovering over me — as if I wouldn’t be able to lift something I packed and got there by myself — was all I needed to plant my legs, stiffen my back and use every ounce of strength in me to get that suitcase in the compartment above. “I got it,” I said smiling. “Thanks.” The way he backed away from me to let me in the row felt like I was being served my independence on a silver platter. He sat down after me and as I was situating myself in my seat I could feel him side-eyeing me in that ambiguous way that suggests either fear or a desire to converse. I pulled out the book I’d be reading for the duration of the flight: New York Magazine writer Rebecca Traister’s All the Single Ladies. I saw out of my peripheral vision that he was reading the cover of the book. He shifted, facing forward, and didn’t talk to me once during the six-hour flight. This type of autonomy, to lift one’s own suitcase but to do so much more, as well, is exactly what Traister writes about in All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation. Although she started writing the book as a journalistic endeavor, it evolved into an insightful and witty
work of literary nonfiction about women, featuring their stories in a way that’s both personal and anthropological. She strikes a balance between research, personal narrative, and external insight. The language is lofty yet precise, loaded with proof of her diligent research. She starts with a history of unmarried women, from shame to power and back. Describing the historical ebb and flow of a society that tried so hard to domesticate women, Traister provides the necessary background to illustrate just how far that very society has come, and how much further it needs to go. She discusses how a growing United States influenced the role of women in society geographically, alluding to the great panic that ensued in the absence of young women to care for the needs of men, around whom an entire country was being built. Women took on this prescribed responsibility before feminist activists began to speak out as early as the 1800s. Traister contextualizes institutions established by notable unmarried female figures we know today, such as Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood. She grounds the book in a history packed with unmarried women discovering their power and sexuality, ultimately giving rise to what was called “the new woman.” Traister, displaying the breadth of her knowledge, goes on to discuss the importance of cities, arguing that cities were monumental in the liberation of single women. She describes a woman’s relationship to her city as the best kind she can have; a relationship for herself. Staying loyal to the journalistic quality of the piece, Traister reports a thorough history of the space made for women in big cities (like Manhattan) via the establishment of female-only boarding houses, which were implemented to help single women get on their feet once many had migrated. Cities offered women the opportunity to socialize and be free of any preconceived expectations of them to find husbands and have children immediately — they had time, space, and resources to develop their careers and establish lives of their own. Traister, aware of the potency of a good personal narrative, adeptly intertwines the stories of everyday women, many of whom discuss their liberation and singledom with clarity and wisdom. Touching on the effect of neighborhoods,
18 | Arts & Culture
Traister argues that the support of neighborhoods allowed for single motherhood. My favorite chapter of the book is “Dangerous as Lucifer Matches: The Friendships of Women.” It’s a compelling and entertaining commentary on the power of friendships between unmarried women. One is reminded of how revolutionary shows like The Mary Tyler Moore Show or Sex and the City were; these sorts of kinships have always been an essential sustenance for women. Traister argues that marriage makes such powerful bonds impossible; in a way, your best friend is your partner in life. They’re “your person,” as she calls it, and the acquisition of a husband inevitably makes friendships, no matter how strong, subsidiary. She tells emotional tales of best friends meeting, falling for each other, separating, reuniting, drifting apart, the eventual distance always due to men. She also provides a curious commentary about suspected homosexuality in female friendships, posing the question of what real partnership means: does love have to be sexual? In some ways, friendships between single women are better than the heterosexual marriages that society primes them to find; the faithfulness between a single woman and her person is unfaltering. She adds an entertaining anecdote about Charlotte Brontë’s husband insisting on censoring her letters between her and her best friend Nell Nussey, horrified by the intensity of their friendship.
The Life of Pablo
Making sense of Kanye’s seventh studio effort. Amidst a now infamous rollout for his seventh studio album, The Life of Pablo, Kanye West tweeted, “This is not the album of the year. This is the album of the life.” However ambitious a proclamation it was, in hindsight there is a searing truth to his words. Kanye indeed seems to know himself best. TLOP represents the entirety of his tumultuous career; both lyrically and sonically, it is quintessential Kanye. Like each of his six previous records, TLOP is defined by the peaks it reaches. And boy are those peaks high: each emotion he explores is the most intense version of itself. But what distinguishes TLOP from its predecessors is its scope. Here, he foregoes adhering to a consistent sound. Rather, Kanye intricately zig-zags through each dimension of himself. Within the eighteen tracks of TLOP, you hear it all. There is Kanye at his most braggadocious and then Kanye at his most self-aware, his most perverted and his most pure. The album begins with “Ultralight Beam,” a triumphant, introspective track that ranks among the best of his career, highlighting Kanye’s ability to merge disparate sounds. Kirk Franklin, Kelly Price, The-Dream, and Chance the Rapper offer passionate words about faith; sandwiched between the guest appearances is the man himself, clearly affected by the world around him, “Pray for Paris/Pray for the parents.” He reflects on tragedy and tenderly identifies with loss as a father of two. The album’s variety forces listeners to adapt to sudden changes in tone. “Ultralight Beam”— which is gospel at its core — is followed by “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1,” a song in which Kanye muses about getting bleach from a model’s asshole on his t-shirt. The beat, co-produced by hip-hop whiz Metro Boomin’, is as raucous as the song’s lyrics; it is an extreme departure from
While Traister’s All the Single Ladies is an extensive and entertaining story of the ever-rising successful single woman, she provides a disclaimer in the introduction that I thought would taint my trust in her as a reader. She is married. While fully impressed by and compelled to read all her research and stories, I couldn’t help but question her authority to write on unmarried women if she herself is married. Ultimately, though, my doubts subsided, and I gave her full ownership of the topic; she states that she started this work before she met her husband, and wrote similar stories her years of singledom. She lived her life as her own self first, and it is this point that she makes most fervently; her marriage has not and will not ever define her. This book left me beaming with gratitude. As a woman who has always wondered about having a boyfriend and, like many women, has spent hours of thought and discussion with friends as to why I don’t have one, reading Traister’s ideas on the importance of and inherent power in being single liberated me, made me revel in my own existence. While I’m nowhere near marrying age (as it is dictated by current society, at least), I closed this book with a sense of relief. This really is the time of the single lady. by Zianna Milito
the softness of the song prior. “Pt. 2” returns to introspection, “I just wanna feel liberated,” Kanye repeats; but in many ways, he already is. The creative freedom that Kanye exercises throughout TLOP is shocking. He challenges the listener to empathize and to reject him, to love and to hate him. He’s “Steve Jobs mixed with Steve Austin.” He’s Pablo Picasso and Pablo Escobar. There is nothing comfortable about Kanye and there never has been. On TLOP more than ever, he remains the 21st century pop culture icon that divides the dinner table. As his career has developed, he has embraced this role more and more. We have seen him boldly criticize George W. Bush on live TV, boldly criticize the VMAs, boldly criticize the hierarchy of the fashion world, the Grammys. We’ve seen him mourn his mother, his popularity, his debt. This has all been covered thoroughly by the media, but no story seems nuanced enough to illuminate the whole. That’s where TLOP comes in. This is the manifesto of a controversial icon’s last twelve years in the spotlight. In some instances, like in “Famous,” Kanye’s contradictions are compressed into one song. There’s Rihanna’s soaring Nina Simone impression followed by the highly publicized Taylor Swift jab. “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/Why? I made that bitch famous,” he casually spits. Understandably the line has generated controversy, but there is simply too much sonic beauty in the song’s three minutes for one petty line to rain on the parade. The song is ripe with an eclectic mix of sounds: it closes with a sample of Sister Nancy’s reggae classic “Bam Bam,” which leads into Simone repeating Rihanna’s hook. No other rapper has the taste nor the balls to approach this level of complexity. We’re four years removed from Yeezus, but Kanye’s fire is still there. The variety sometimes gives the record a disjointed quality. Songs move from one to another, each with their own distinct sound. Yet in context, the album could not be more cohesive — not with a sound, but with a psyche. Each track freshly resembles 19 |Arts & Culture
a work of his past. “Freestyle 4” carries with it the intensity of a Yeezus track. Its eerie production and twisted lyrics recall “I’m In It.” “What if we fuck right now?/What if we fucked right in the middle/Of this motherfuckin’ dinner table/What if we just fucked at the Vogue party/Would we be the life of the whole party?/ Shut down the whole party/Would everybody start fuckin’?” Kanye reveals to the listener an outlandish sexual fantasy in an album he proclaimed to be gospel. “FML,” a track that mixes the futuristic sounds of 808s & Heartbreak with the maximalist My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy presents a man with flaws. The same man who just three years ago released a song titled “I Am A God (ft. God)” reminisces on failed vacations: “See, before I let you go/One last thing I need to let you know/You
Kanye West photos by Tyler Mitchell | @tylersphotos
ain’t ever seen nothing crazier than/This nigga when he off his Lexapro/Remember that last time in Mexico/Remember that last time, the episode.” Beneath the hard shell that Kanye has built up publicly, he is still the master of self-awareness. Kanye uses his loud voice to illuminate social injustice, too. On “Feedback,” Kanye digests his identity. He is a “rich slave in the fabric store picking cotton.” His final verse on the song ends with “Hands up, we just doing what the cops taught us/ Hands up, hands up, then the cops shot us.” The harsh reality of race relations in the 21st century has been a talking point for Kanye since his debut, The College Dropout. His tenacious flow — in which he melds sadness and humor — reappears on “No
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More Parties in L.A.” again reminiscent of Kanye’s early work. “Every agent I know, know I hate agents/I’m too black, I’m too vocal, I’m too flagrant/Something smellin’ like shit, that’s the new fragrance/It’s just me, I do it my way, bitch,” he spits. Several lines later he criticizes himself for being “A 38-year-old eight-year-old with rich nigga problems.” As mentioned before, the album is not without classically questionable Kanyeisms. Brags about money and women pollute the outstanding production of some songs. “I bet me and Ray J would be friends/If we ain’t love the same bitch/Yeah, he might have hit it first/Only problem is I’m rich.” These lines feel particularly petty compared to the Biblical references used
in several other songs from the record. In the end, though, the contradictions that challenge the listener are the very ethos of Pablo, from its soaring musicality to its work-in-progress messiness, its prophetic ideas to its trivial gags. It’s Kanye West, embodying his complicated alter ego Pablo, wrapped up into eighteen songs, many of them brilliant. by Ryan Wentz
21 | Arts & Culture
NOSTALGIA, ULTRA: ALBUMS TO TAKE YOU BACK by Guiliana Iaconi-Stewart
A music album, despite having a definitive beginning and end, is capable of transcending the bounds of time. In fact, an album is capable of transcending the bounds of time precisely because it has a definitive start and finish. The best ones are compact. They offer you a zeitgeist, a moment, distille. However, the listener has to know that their journey must come to an end as soon as the album does. Perhaps this reality is the source of our musical nostalgia, of the longing for a different time that a listener might store inside an album of music. I am thinking about a certain album in particular — the self-titled debut record of the band Alvvays. It is an agent of powerful sonic nostalgia in my life. For me, their debut album, Alvvays, defined the latter half of the year 2015 — I listened to it incessantly, completing mindless daily tasks as it provided the background score. When I hear the record now, I am hearing the intricacies and minutiae from a previous time in my life. Perhaps its sound prompts reflection, too. Throughout the record, chimey and celestial electric guitar riffs invite me to soar upwards, away from my body, towards a place from which I can look down on my life. Plenty of echo and a lead singer with an intoxicatingly lax and uncommitted voice create space in the songs, space that houses my nostalgia. Speaking of nostalgia (what else would we be talking about?), so much music is etched with renderings of my childhood. I always knew it would be a nice dinner when I heard jazz playing in the kitchen. My parents often cooked to the sound of music, and Beyond the Missouri Sky, Pat Metheny’s record with Charlie Haden, was a regular on the kitchen CD player. So was John Coltrane’s Ballads. It wasn’t until I moved away from home that I began listening to both albums on my own. Certain tracks, like Haden and Metheny’s “Message To A Friend” and Coltrane’s “Say It (Over & Over again),” sound like so many summer evenings spent eating dinner outside, pots and pans piled up on the kitchen counter just waiting to be washed. With “Message to A Friend,” the track itself, like my memories associated with it, is extremely intimate — human breath is made audible throughout the conversation between Metheny’s guitar and Haden’s upright bass. And then there are those childhood albums that I don’t remember as such, like the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which I am told I enjoyed as a toddler, but to which I only remember having begun independently listening around the age of nine. It is strange to listen to the same music as your three-year-old self. Nonetheless, my favorite part of the whole album might be the melancholic piano and guitar harmony in the intro of “Lovely Rita.” Maybe my three-year-old self also liked that part. Booker T. & the M.G.’s released a cover album of the Beatles’ 1969 record Abbey Road only months after its release. Booker T.’s version, which the band called McLemore Avenue, is made up of four tracks (three of them medleys), each of which reimagines one or more songs from Abbey Road. When I listen to McLemore Avenue, I am transported to the moment in which Booker T. and his band heard Abbey Road for the first time and decided they
wanted to pay homage to it, to the precious moment of one artist processing and finding inspiration in the work of another artist. Annie Lennox and Joe Cocker also spent time paying homage via musical covers. In 1995, Lennox released Medusa, a strictly-cover-album of songs by a breadth of artists, ranging from The Clash to Bob Marley to The Persuaders. Under the umbrella of Medusa, Lennox unites a disparate collection of songs from different points in the trajectory of recorded music. In doing so — in placing a variety of musical traditions in conversation with oneother and with her own style of performance — Lennox constructs and transports my mind through a unique musical timeline. In the case of Joe Cocker’s 1970 live album, Mad Dogs and Englishmen, which also comprises only covers of songs, my listening operates a bit differently. Because the album is completely live, it transports me to the moment, in 1970, in which a giant group of human bodies got together to participate in the making and sharing of music. Joe Cocker also performed at Woodstock, clad in starspangled boots. Oh, how I wish I’d been there. That was a year prior, in 1969. I wasn’t alive then, but the year still feels significant to me, perhaps because two of my favorite albums were released in 1969: Neil Young’s Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and Humble Pie’s Town and Country. Young’s record takes its time, and it is aware of my time spent listening to it — it toys with my attention. The longer length of many of its tracks, as well as the album’s use of repetition, of lyrics, of single notes on Young’s electric guitar, of bass and drum patterns over which his guitar solos, embroils me in the music. Humble Pie’s 1969 release also takes its time, albeit more literally. The titles of its first and last songs reflect a transportative process. The title of the first song, “Take Me Back,” initiates my journey back in time to 1969, when the album came to life. Once the last track rolls around, its title, “Home and Away,” represents my return back home, back to my present day. Before that, though, is 1967, the year of Love’s album Forever Changes. Certainly through its lyrics, but also through dissonance and anxiety in its music, the album comments on the relationship between individual and society, between solitude and the collective. Because of this, Forever Changes feels contemporary nearly 50 years after its release, effectively unsubscribing itself from ideas about relevance. Music is measured with time and houses time-sensitive memories in its sound. Sounds transport me into different moments, out of the ones in which I physically exist and into ones in which I never existed at all. Any time can be the right time to hear any sort of music, because even if great music masterfully captures a moment in history, so too it transcends our linear notion of time. by Guiliana Iaconi-Stewart
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AN AFTERNOON WITH JANE Tribeca Film Festival co-founder Jane Rosenthal sits down with Embodied's Editor-in-Chief to discuss women in film, funding for the arts, and fifteen years at the helm of Manhattan's greatest movie-going extravaganza. by Jake Nevins
Photograph: Brigitte Lacombe
When I walk into Jane Rosenthal’s offices on Greenwich Street, I am greeted by a wall of movie posters, from Orson Welles’ classics (Chimes at Midnight, Citizen Kane) to Martin Scorsese’s seminal Manhattan masterpieces. Even more appropriately, Jane is eating a bag of popcorn. Coffee tables are adorned with film paraphernalia. Portraits of movie stars, past and present, line the hallways. There is a quiet calm that belies impending pandemonium. The Tribeca Film Festival is just weeks away. Ms. Rosenthal – the walking film encyclopedia, the spunky businesswoman, the big-budget movie producer, the co-founder of Tribeca Film Festival and the mother of two — offers me some Skinny Pop. Though I decline, it delights me to see that her unabashed love of film – from oldies to newbies, from conventional cinema to nonlinear to experimental and beyond — has infiltrated even her afternoon snack choices. The festival, in its 15th year, has grown meteorically since 2002, when Rosenthal and longtime friend and business-partner Robert De Niro joined forces to revive a neighborhood feeling the devastating reverberations of the 9/11 attacks. “When you start a festival because of an act of war in your backyard, you come to it with a certain sense of fierce determination about survival and a new perception of the world.” Rosenthal continues, “It was very much about how the arts can heal and how having a film festival could create a new memory for people.” When I ask Rosenthal how she sees Tribeca in relation to other North American film festivals like Sundance, Toronto, and South by Southwest, it’s clear that the festival’s origins have been a driving force; it is a vehicle for communal assemblage, a sort of revivalist effort, more than it is a two-week succession of cinema. Another major distinguishing factor between TFF and its counterparts is that the former proudly carries the formidable weight of its host city; Manhattan’s diverse citizenry and its unremitting commitment to originality presupposes a lineup that reflects the island’s hodgepodge of religious, linguistic and ethnic cohorts. An event in NYC, especially one of Tribeca’s scope and ambition, means NYC expectations. “Because we’re in New York, we’re held up to a higher standard than anybody else. If you’re doing a festival in the middle of a mountain or a resort town, everything looks good. There are over 232 languages spoken in New York and we can tap into communities that nobody else can tap into.” Rosenthal, a charming raconteur, goes on to tell me some of her fondest festival memories (Nelson Mandela’s 2002 appearance ranks high). “When we had an Israeli film here a number of years ago. The grand Rabbi in Williamsburg blessed the movie and I got up to introduce it and I look down at the crowd and it was all Hasidic men with the hats (Shtreimels). Another time we had a film about Liberia, called Pray the Devil Back to Hell and I got up to introduce the movie. We were in a theater on 2nd Avenue right on campus, and there was this piece of paper and I introduced the movie and I say, ‘And I’d like to welcome President of Liberia Madame Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.’ There was a whole Liberian community that was there.” Rosenthal recalls, as if it were yesterday, her initial discussions about the festival with De Niro and Scorsese. “When we announced the festival in November of 2001, we honestly didn’t know what we were programming. Scorsese was there with us at the beginning and I remember him saying, ‘We’re going to have panel discussions!’ And then he said, ‘and we’re going to have restored and rediscovered films!’ And I looked at him and
said, ‘sounds good!’” The debris from the fallen towers still cloaked Tribeca streets. The stench in the Manhattan air was some peculiar, discouraging alloy of bodies and embers. But Rosenthal and De Niro, buoyed by the impenetrable spirit of New York, endeavored to unite a broken community. Scorsese’s suggestions stuck and, fifteen years later, it’s his own film, the classic Taxi Driver, being honored at this year’s festival, 40 years after its release. Though Tribeca has always been a champion of new, undiscovered filmmakers, curating a lineup that reflects the diversity of the neighborhood in which it takes place, Rosenthal also sees an obligation to honor the filmic canon, to introduce the classics to a fresh, younger audience and, therein, make them new again. This is a preoccupation that shapes not only the festival, but also Rosenthal’s own activism. A fervent advocate for arts funding, a topic she speaks about with insight and alacrity, Rosenthal is quick to point out how vital an arts education is. Tribeca’s struggle to procure adequate funding from New York State is a well-documented one, but it’s only a microcosmic example of nationwide negligence towards the arts in schools and elsewhere. “We don’t fund the arts in this country,” Rosenthal tells me. “If you look at Toronto and the Toronto Film Festival, they get an enormous amount of funding from the Canadian Government. We just don’t, as a country, fund arts unless you have big boards that are going to donate…you’re always in a fundraising mode unless you figure out the right business model for the arts.” Rosenthal, with a sort of seasoned, improvisational candor, jumps back and forth between discussing business and the arts, two decidedly adversarial sides of the same coin. Except, oddly, the more we talk, the union of art and commerce seems less fraught than symbiotic. There exists a genuine appreciation for the craft of filmmaking, a keen understanding, too, of both the mercenary and creative forces at play. Rosenthal is both restlessly pragmatic and youthfully free-spirited, Manhattan incarnate. She tells me about Tribeca Studios’ teaching initiatives, which aim to bring the art of filmmaking to underprivileged students, and the exhaustive crystallization of skills that is the making of a movie. In case it gets lost in her laundry list of achievements, she’s produced quite a few: Marvin’s Room, Wag the Dog, Meet the Parents, About a Boy, and Rent, to sell it short. “We have a program at Tribeca Film Institute called Tribeca Teaches and we go and teach filmmaking courses in the most underserved populations, where English is a second language, where some of the kids are homeless, where some of the kids could be easily radicalized, where every kid at a certain age questions identity. If you are a young immigrant here in the U.S and going to a strange school and speaking strange languages, you question where you belong.” She continues, “The arts are a place, and filmmaking very specifically, where everyone has to come together for it to work. You have to have teamwork, you have to have leadership. There are those that have to lead as the director and the producer and there are those who just have to do and be brilliant at what they do as an actor, as a writer, as a composer…To come together and create something, it gives you a sense of belonging, it gives you that sense that you can tell a story with a picture and that’s pretty powerful. It’s crucial to have funding for the arts. It’s a way we express our most creative selves. It makes you feel like you belong to this world of creative people and you’re not alone.” 25 |Arts & Culture
As a woman in the world of entertainment, Rosenthal knows a thing or two about going it alone. After graduating from Gallatin, where a professor told her she had “verve and gumption,” she got a job as a production assistant at CBS Sports, what she considers her first exposure to the overwhelmingly patriarchal world of film and television. “There were very few women at the time. I didn’t realize that I was actually breaking ground by being a production assistant. There were maybe 4 other women, whether it was on-air talent or behind the scenes. But I didn’t take that necessarily as gender. I always believed that if you did a good job you would always get there no matter your gender.” Rosenthal’s moxie is symptomatic of her feminist upbringing in Providence, Rhode Island. “My mother was a feminist and said you can do and be anything you want to be. And I believed it. I believed it and just did it.” Rosenthal explains that, early on, she felt the industry’s sexism less personally and more institutionally; though women had progressed more in television than in film, thanks to the likes of Linda Bloodworth Thomason, Marlo Thomas, Lucille Ball and Mary Tyler Moore, the grossly disproportionate gender ratios seen in the workforce and on film sets manifested itself as a sort of axiomatic principle, one Rosenthal was determined to overcome. “I didn’t face sexism until later, when I was actually producing a movie and had some independent financing and had old school financiers that kept calling me, you know, ‘honey’ and ‘sweetie’ and said, ‘well, you don’t know that much, you’re just a girl.’” She goes on, “that was a very traditional form of discrimination and, really, at that point one would have thought I had established myself enough in my career that I wouldn’t have to face that.” In the last 88 years, just four women have been nominated in the Best Director category at the Academy Awards: Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), Sofia Coppola, (Lost in Translation), Jane Campion (The Piano), and Lina Wertmüller (Seven Beauties). Bigelow is the only woman to ever win the award. In the last two years, 40 white actors have been nominated for individual acting awards and, as you might have heard, zero actors of color. Whether or not one chooses to believe the Oscars are an adequate barometer of cinematic value (this becomes more uncertain each year), the numbers, in any case, are staggering. And in the wake of such disproportion, many misplace blame, forsake the real etiology of these imbalances, for it is less about an Academy comprised of crusty, old myopic men than it is the dearth of female directors being hired by big-budget production companies and a shortage of actors of color being cast in films that generate Oscar fodder. One notable exception, where a throng of female directors and diverse casts can be found, is Rosenthal’s festival, where, in 2016, women directed a record-setting 33% of the films shown, works that come, rather impressively, from 42 different countries. There’s Elvis & Nixon, a film by Liza Johnson, chronicling a stranger-than-fiction historical encounter between The King and the former president. There’s Abortion: Stories Women Tell, a documentary by Tracy Droz Tragos. First-time director Jenny Gage debuted her film All This Panic, a coming-of-age story set in New York City. Kristi Jacobson directed Solitary, a subversive, deeply affecting portrait of life in solitary confinement. Children of the Mountain, directed, written and produced by Priscilla Anany, is an aesthetic marvel about a Ghanaian mother’s experience with her son’s birth deformities. Rosenthal speaks highly of two women-helmed features in particular, Rachel
Tunnard’s Adult Life Skills and Ingrid Jungerman’s mordant comedy Women Who Kill. She goes on, “There’s a lot of great shorts celebrating New York, a lot of shorts celebrating gender identity and the LGBT community, both shorts and narratives. There seem to be a lot of films this year about prison systems and prison reform, which is becoming more topical, as it should.” To put this in proper context, the University of Southern California conducted a study in 2013, called “Gender Inequality in 500 Popular Films,” which found that, in 2012, women accounted for 4.1% of all directors, 12.2% of writers and 20% of producers in that year’s 100 highest-grossing films. In another study carried out by the New York Film Academy, white actors constituted 75.8% of speaking parts in the top 500 grossing films from 2007-2012. Tribeca’s numbers, then, are nothing to scoff at. “As a producer, I try to enable and support women filmmakers. We are a festival of diversity.” Rosenthal says. “When I look at the company that we started, Bob and I were always supportive of women writers, of all women… Jenni (Konner, producer and writer of HBO’s Girls) was a story editor for us; she will admit in an interview that she didn’t really know what she was doing, but I don’t really remember that part. My company is almost 75% women. I think that’s part of my job.” Rosenthal may not remember Konner as a flummoxed ingénue, but Jenni certainly does. In an interview with Refinery29, she reminisced on her experience working under Rosenthal: "Well, before I was writing, I worked as an assistant at Tribeca Productions. Watching Jane Rosenthal do her thing — even though I was so young and dumb and probably couldn’t absorb all she was doing — just working for a very strong woman in charge of a company that was growing every minute was so exciting." Konner’s Girls, as well as the Shonda Rhimes’ Thursday-night triumvirate and the chronically under-appreciated catalogues of women filmmakers like Bigelow, Campion, Diablo Cody, and Ava Duvernay, is proof of the remarkable things that can happen when women are given the creative, financial autonomy that male directors are so often and arbitrarily afforded. The effects of a patriarchal Hollywood supplant the aforementioned inequities behind the camera and in the writer’s room; rather, it results in an intense narrative dissonance, a scarcity of stories that illuminate and cinematize the lives of women from their own perspectives. When we talk about the domineering primacy of the male gaze, we are really talking about something systematic, something that starts well before filming; female actors are too often asked to take their clothes off and actors of color are reduced to archetypes, made into one-dimensional caricatures that perpetuate regressive ideas about race and ethnicity. Jane, and her meticulous programming team at Tribeca, the members of which spend twelve months watching and vetting films around the globe, are leaps and bounds ahead of the competition, assembling a cinematic smorgasbord that’s as heterogeneous as it is judiciously curated. At Tribeca, there’s room for anything – virtual reality films, six-second vines, films shot on mobile phones, vlogumentaries, and animated shorts (curated, this year, by Whoopi Goldberg) – and this is what gets Rosenthal most enthused, the idea that film is not a structurally hermetic vehicle for storytelling but something that changes, evolves, and diversifies with the spasmodic currents of culture. “If you want to tell a story, you can take your phone, you can write it, you can find actors, you can cast it, you can shoot it, you 26 | Arts & Culture
can distribute it, you can have your own channel for your own friends or you can figure out if you’re going to get it to a broader audience. You can do everything and that’s really powerful. If I want to tell a story and I think it warrants a series, I have more options and more places I can go. If you’re an artist you say, ‘Today I want to paint with oils, today I want to paint with water colors, today I want to sculpt.’ You can now choose all these different kinds of stories you want to tell and that’s really fun.” I ask Rosenthal what this means for the future of film as both a creative and pecuniary venture; do movie theaters become extinct, or do they become more specialized, a place only for spectacle? “Does it mean people stop going to the movies? No. I think we’ll always go to the movies. The theaters themselves and the types of movies you will see in a movie theater may change. When you go to a movie theater you’re going to expect and demand a certain quality. You’re going to demand a pristine screen and proper sound and you certainly want something better than what you have in your home.” I nod in agreement and tell Rosenthal that I had to see Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, shot in
70 millimeter, in a theater. “I had to go see Star Wars in Imax, too,” she tells me. “I didn’t want to sit at home and see Star Wars. I want to see it in Imax!” Though the looming festival has wholly consumed the past several months of her life, I am sure to ask Rosenthal if there’s anything she’s binge watching these days. “I haven’t watched any new shows recently,” she tells me, “but I’m pretty fascinated by the number of apps that are out there and what we use them for. I have been trying to just play League of Legends without getting…it actually sounds so incongruous that we’d be talking about that. But, really, the gaming world as it concerns storytelling is fascinating. I like that we did something with League of Legends last November, the story and the craft and the art behind the game. So I’m always looking at how you’re telling stories on all these different platforms, whether it’s non-linear platforms or not.” She continues, “And, really, a film festival is sort of the ultimate binge watch if you think about it.” by Jake Nevins
Stills (courtesy of Tribeca Studios) from three films at this year’s festival: Yi Liu’s Ping Pong Coach, Priscilla Anany’s Children of the Mountain, and Jenny Gage’s All this Panic
before &after on Richard Linklater by Nathaniel Nelson
If you could truly come to terms with your inevitable death, actually grasp the vacuous inconsequence of your own life and the ceaseless passing of time, what would you do? Would you have an orgy? Splurge your life savings? Or would you change nothing? Would you curl up and cry? Or end your life immediately, on your own terms? In the dying minutes of Before Midnight (2013), the third and final act of Richard Linklater’s epic Before trilogy, Celine (Julie Delpy) is faced with this dilemma. Forty years from now, looking back on her intimate yet uneasy relationship with Jesse, the imperfect but caring father of her children (Ethan Hawke), will she be thankful for having stuck with him through the bad times, or resentful that she failed to exit the stressful relationship that had endangered her life’s goals? “But if you want true love, then this is it. This is real life. It's not perfect, but it's real,” he whispers to her, in a last-ditch effort to save himself from eternal loneliness. TIME WORKING ON SAME PAINTING: Sorry I’m late. HAVING A BREAKTHROUGH DAY: That’s okay, time doesn’t exist. Time is a consistent beast in the Linklater masterpieces — it is the space his characters inhabit and grow by, not unlike New York City is to Woody Allen or the West to John Ford. The only realistic way to deal with passing time is to accept life within its constraints, and the only successful way to make something of it lies wholly in the realm of human interactions. As time pervades all aspects of existence, it surely affects human relationships in a direct way, almost as much as the individuals themselves involved. For some Linklater characters, ungroomed relationships are like milk: first tasty and fresh, then smelly and gross, then dangerous to humans, then…cheese? The rough men Patricia Arquette’s character attracts in Boyhood (2014) drive her and her family into bad situations, but ultimately seem less like mistakes of the past than stepping stones of personal growth. For Morris Buttermaker (Billy Bob Thornton) of Bad News Bears (2005), Wooderson (Matthew McConaughey) of Dazed and Confused, and equally for Jack Black’s Dewey Finn of School of Rock (2003) and
Bernie of Bernie (2011), time, or age, more specifically, is a latent awkwardness within their relationships. Ethan Hawke’s characters in Boyhood and Before Midnight deal with similar complications in trying to foster relationships with their coolyet-distant young sons. Nowhere better than the Before series does the violent challenge of time to human love manifest in such multifaceted ways. In the first installment, Before Sunrise (1995), time is an impenetrable wall: the two protagonists become immediately infatuated and spend a night in Vienna, but he’s got one destination and she’s got another, and the trains leave tomorrow. Nine years later in Before Sunset (2004), time has become a conquered enemy: he’s got a family back home and a plane to catch when she shows up at his book signing event, but he’s learned by now not to make the same mistake twice in leaving her. Nine years deep into their
official relationship in Before Midnight, time has given them shared experience (and twin children) and wisdom, yet violently chips away at each of their deepest regrets and insecurities. In some sense, Linklater uses time almost like a magic trick in his films. In lieu of a plot, for example, Waking Life (2001) is presented as an episodic string of dream sequences of its protagonist, with no real timeline. Through clues posed by multiple characters in the dreams, which may or may not indirectly inform the “timeline” of our protagonist’s experiences, we’re left to assume that the entire film occurs either in roughly a minute of dreaming, six to twelve minutes of an active brain of a deceased person, or outside of a conventional linear notion of time entirely. Slacker (1991) presents one town and much of its population at a single time. The Before series, on the other hand, presents the same two people at distant times along the course of their lives. Boyhood presents one person, episodically, on an annual basis over the course of his childhood. In both of these cases, the films were created along real-life timelines, with the aging actors reflecting the films’ characters’ fictional lives; the result is jarring on many levels. Where instinctually an artwork might be considered a sort of object — a movie is a movie, it’s a couple of hours long, and it’s there on Netflix if you want to see it — the way time shapes Linklater films makes time itself a more
immediate consideration for his audiences. Theory aside, there’s also what I’ll call the “reunion effect,” wherein, like high school reunions or running into an old friend, seeing Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy after nine years might just make you feel old. In a different way, the reunion effect repeats a dozen times in Boyhood, to the point where, by the end, you might feel as if your own entire childhood just passed before your eyes. It’s like a magic trick, except instead of going “Ooh, how’d you do that?” you just feel old. EXPERIENCE GUY WHO TOSSES TYPEWRITER: The typewriter isn't the point. The point is, it symbolizes the bitch that just fucked him over. It symbolizes the bitch that fucked me over six months ago. And it symbolizes the bitch that's GONNA fuck you over!
Linklater films present a total democracy of experience. We’re with Mason, the protagonist of Linklater’s magnum opus Boyhood, moving out of his early childhood home to watching him take a picture of a fire hydrant on the side of the road. A bad haircut might not seem like fodder for a dramatic film, but a bad haircut surely feels dramatic when you receive one in your own life. By elevating the seemingly mundane in such a way as to give it the same validity as any dramatic event, Linklater is able to touch upon human experience in a way totally unique to his own style of cinema. In a Linklater drama, a long drive with the kids sleeping in the backseat is the only thing that matters when you’re on a long drive with the kids sleeping in the backseat. “It's constant — the moment. It's just...it's like it's always right now, you know?,” a stoned Mason says at the film’s conclusion. This is an essential principle to understanding Linklater films. The important parts in an action film occur when someone dies. In a horror film? When someone dies. In a Western? When someone dies. Et cetera. In a Linklater film everyone is dying all the time, but the important parts happen when the characters are doing their best at living. In the connotative sense, this style is quite anti-cinematic. These films follow arcs and are guided by the most ancient rules of fiction, but lack the key points one might be taught in 30 |Arts & Culture
a screenwriting textbook. As Pauline Kael presciently wrote in 1964 of the wider American viewing audience, “They want less effort, more sensations, more knobs to turn.” We see this manifest in the majority of 21st century Hollywood films, especially those which make the most money. The same plot elements return for every new picture because they’ve been tested over time and have proven successful. Only its director’s daring confidence could allow Before Midnight to open with an uninterrupted 15-minute-long shot of a car ride conversation between two parents. Linklater’s banking on the assumption that enough of an audience will be drawn in, a particularly empathic one, from the shared human experience exhibited within the most commonplace of dialogue. There are no deaths to be found here — no automobile crashes, no evil dictators, inspiring disabled people, long lost cousins or fat people falling. Take it or leave it. That his films are able to portray the human experience in such a real and visceral way may be due, in part, to Linklater’s ability to draw from his own life. He was able to convey the odd charm of his hometown Austin, Texas in Slacker and Dazed and Confused in a way that spoke to a generation of people who felt like they grew up in a place just like it, and knew characters just like these. Twenty years later he returned to small-town Texas (this time Carthage) with Bernie, and then back to Austin in Boyhood. It also shouldn’t be seen as a coincidence that the protagonists of many of these films — Jack Black, Wiley Wiggins, Ethan Hawke, Ellar Coltrane, etc. — look a lot like Linklater himself: Waking Life was inspired by a dream of his, Boyhood was dually inspired by his own childhood as well as Ellar Coltrane’s, and Before Sunset was inspired by a night he’d spent walking and talking in Philadelphia in 1989 with a woman named Amy Lehrhaupt (who died a few weeks before they began shooting Before Sunrise). PHILOSOPHY SHOULD HAVE STAYED AT THE BUS STATION: Every thought you have creates its own reality. You know, it’s like every choice or decision you make, the thing you choose not to do fractions off and becomes its own reality, you know, and just goes on from there, forever. To decode Linklaterian philosophy from the ground up would be a trying exercise — fundamental philosophical inquiry pervades almost every one of his great films, constantly rearing its head in the dialogue of Slacker, the Before series and Boyhood, and driving Waking Life. More often than not, characters will directly speak of philosophical ideas in monologue, referencing specific thinkers and disciplines. It’s definitely entertaining, though the frequency with which ordinary characters improvise enlightening in-depth analyses of the works of Dostoyevsky or D. H. Lawrence borders on unrealistic. If there is a logic to be drawn from the overabundance of casual philosophical inquiry in Linklater scripts, it begins with Waking Life. The film is constructed as an animated dream sequence of a young man, in which similar sorts of existential conversations occur with different people in very different settings. Under the guise of normal conversation, most every character in the film is able to verbalize incredibly complex and detailed philosophical ideas. At no point do we question how “realistic” this is, however, because it’s given that the entire film occurs within one man’s dreams. Everyone in the film is a manifestation of the ego of our protagonist, just as everyone in your own dreams is a version
of you, rather than the real or unreal people they represent in your dream state. It follows from the same logic Linklater’s ‘SHOULD HAVE STAYED AT THE BUS STATION’ character opens Slacker with: “Man, there was this book I just read on the bu-…well, you know, it was my dream so I guess I wrote it or something.” Slacker is formatted very similarly to Waking Life, jumping from moments of conversation between different characters, flowing along an undefined trajectory without narrative structure. In the same way that dreams often lack continuity as they cut from one seemingly unrelated event to another, Waking Life and Slacker devote less to transitions than to significant events themselves. However, Slacker has no defined protagonist like Waking Life does — the camera alone, with Linklater behind it, guides the viewer from one event to the next. The whole film is a sort of Linklaterian dream. The characters are all very different, but they live in his hometown and represent the sorts of people he might recall having met growing up. If a disproportionate number of them are able to verbalize complicated philosophical ideas compared to what one might expect of random residents of suburban Austin, it’s because Linklater himself, in the same role as Waking Life’s main character, is the ego through which all of these individuals are born in the screenplay. If there is one existential concept that stands out for its relevance and pervasiveness in Linklater’s filmography, it is the “manyworlds interpretation.” A layman’s interpretation of the theory is vocalized in the first monologue of his first major film, by Linklater himself (as quoted above), and it is briefly explored again in Waking Life. The many-worlds interpretation also illuminates some of the inner-workings of his greatest films. Boyhood, for instance, is structured as a succession of annual versions of Mason Jr. (as well as his supporting cast), and it can be unnerving to witness these jump cuts between years, depending on how significantly his visual appearance has changed in the time in between. While watching him grow up before our eyes at an extremely accelerated rate means we miss most of his life, it also reveals how personal continuity is shaped over time. Purely as a result of this time travel jumping are we able to sense, more acutely than we can of ourselves in our own normal-timeline daily lives, how last year’s decisions might have influenced this new Mason. Each new Mason is, in some sense, a new reality created by the events and decisions of the previous summer. The Before series may be understood in terms of the manyworlds interpretation even more concretely than Boyhood. Firstly, it is spelled out very clearly how the often split-second decisions these characters make affect the course of the trilogy forever after. Right off the bat, Celine’s decision to get up and sit by Jesse on the train to Vienna, and his subsequent impulsive request of her to get off the train with him, is what allows the entire 27-year-long story to take place. Their uneasy and illconsidered plan to meet up one year later without exchanging contact information is what causes the nine-year delay until their next meeting, and when that second meeting finally comes along, his decision to stay with her is what allows for the third film. The Before trilogy is just one path created along the continuum of branching alternate universes resulting from decisions made by these characters, and one gets the sense that the whole story could have unfolded entirely differently if one or two decisions had gone the other way. 31 |Arts & Culture
In Before Sunset, the characters directly address the hypothetical scenario in which her grandmother hadn’t died at the time he had waited for her in Vienna — in this alternate reality they might have fallen in love again, and married, and he wouldn’t have a wife and kids of his own back in the States. They also consider what would have happened had Celine not learned of Jesse’s book signing event in Paris: “JESSE: What do you think were the chances of us ever meeting again? / CELINE: After that December, I'd say almost zero. But we're not real anyway, right? We're just, uh, characters in that old lady's dream. She's on her deathbed, fantasizing about her youth. So of course we had to meet again.” What’s especially interesting here is how a many-worlds interpretation of the Before series is oddly affirmed in Waking Life, in which Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy reprise their roles as Jesse and Celine in a cameo twenty minutes into the film. In an ultimate cross-reference, we must presume that the actors aren’t just playing any romantic couple, but specifically their characters from the Before series, when Hawke’s character opens the scene by turning to Delpy’s and saying, “I keep thinking about something you said […] about how you often feel like you’re observing your life from the perspective of an old woman about to die.” This line couldn’t have been written as a reference to that specific line from Before Sunset, because Waking Life was written years earlier. However, that the idea was taken from Waking Life and used in the Before series means that we can draw a direct parallel between the otherwise unrelated movies. It appears, then, that the characters in Waking Life are Jesse and Celine in an alternate reality where they did successfully meet up again that December following the first film, and we find them now in bed as a happy couple. The logic of this crossover is explained further in Linklater’s opening monologue in Slacker: “Say I have a dream some night […] see that’s just a momentary glimpse into this other reality.” The main character of Waking Life dreams of Jesse and Celine together, glimpsing into the alternate reality in which they exchanged contact information before separating that morning in Vienna.
Check out the three posters for the Before movies. For the first film, we see Jesse and Celine with eyes locked, him gently cradling her head on his lap as if they’re the only two people in Vienna. The shot is intimately warm and close-up, and the actors appear larger than the city itself in the background. In many ways this reflects visual themes that run throughout the film itself. On the train, on a trolley, in a restaurant, in a record store, the characters are generally presented closely and fully within the camera’s frame, their faces not only consistently visible but usually the focal points of the camera’s attention. In fact, the camera only pulls back some towards the end of the film, before dawn when the streets are empty and it really does feel like they’re the only two people in the whole city. In the second film’s poster, the characters’ gazes are once again reciprocal, but her eyes are partly closed. They’re not holding each other, or even touching each other, but their bodies are oriented inwards, towards the space in between; as she says in the first film, “I believe if there's any kind of God it wouldn't be in any of us, not you or me but just this little space in between.” In this picture, they’re set at a close yet comfortable distance from the camera, each at the one-third mark of the frame and with most of their bodies visible in the sunset. Below a bridge but above the river, their bodies almost seem to conform to the bridge’s structure — Jesse’s back arched along its curve and Celine’s straight-up posture mimicking one of its pillars — placing them wholly within the physical space of the city of Paris. The film itself fluctuates between the intimacy of a longlost love and the distance of nine years, and the camera reflects these changes in its varying distance from the actors, but the characters always remain bound to the Parisian settings in which they find themselves in a way that feels less free and more down to Earth than their long walks along the cobblestone streets of Vienna.
VIDEO BACKPACKER: To me, my thing is, a video image is much more powerful and useful than an actual event. Like back when I used to go out, when I was last out, I was walking down the street and this guy, that came barreling out of a bar, fell right in front of me, and he had a knife right in his back, landed right on the ground and...Well, I have no reference to it now. I can't put it on pause. I can't put it on slow mo and see all the little details. And the blood, it was all wrong. It didn't look like blood. The hue was off. I couldn't adjust the hue. I was seeing it for real, but it just wasn't right. And I didn't even see the knife impact on the body. I missed that part.
By the third film, Jesse and Celine have become somewhat overwhelmed by their situation — he feels trapped in Europe as he’s unable to see his son in Chicago, and she feels consumed by their relationship which threatens to tame the very person she was when he fell in love with her initially, twice over. In the film’s poster, they appear very small and are clearly overshadowed by the surrounding nature. The camera is distanced to such an extent that a quick first glance might not even register people in the shot at all. Their bodies appear very weak against the grand rock structures and the vast sky and sea. This time around, rather than looking into each other’s eyes, they’re each gazing outwards. Their bodies are oriented almost straight ahead into the distance, and she seems to receive his somewhat impersonal arm against her back with a bit of coldness. They’re each dressed in all blue, further blurring the boundary distinguishing them from the background of the shot. The blue of this image is colder than the sunlight radiating in each of the two previous films’ posters.
Perhaps to his credit, Richard Linklater is one of those totally experimental filmmakers who is rarely referred to as such. Though Boyhood was called experimental by many, Linklater himself is almost never grouped into the category of “experimental” despite his nonlinear tendencies. It’s easy to forget that the same man who created Dazed and Confused also created School of Rock (2003) and A Scanner Darkly (2006). There isn’t a singular, distinct visual style to his films, like one might say of Quentin Tarantino or Steven Spielberg. His form is mutable, but effective and almost always subtle.
The cold blue of the Before Midnight poster manifests visually in the film in more ways than one. Immediately, it is apparent that Linklater has transitioned from film to digital video for this third entry. The video is hyperrealistic, much sharper, losing the soft edges and warm tones of the previous two films. Camera movements in the early minutes of the film also contribute to the more futuristic look to Midnight, with smooth tracking shots that might feel more at home in a car commercial than the Before series. Our protagonists appear slightly smaller in the frame in Midnight as compared with the first two films of the series,
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just as they appeared slightly smaller in the frame in Sunset in relation to Sunrise. In the most extreme scene of the film, when Jesse and Celine’s relationship literally breaks down over the course of twenty minutes, the characters seem increasingly small in their large hotel suite. In particular, during the middle of this sequence, the camera is placed in between the two main rooms of the suite. Celine is on the couch in the living room, and Jesse on
One aspect that does stand out significantly in regard to Linklater’s great films is that none of them really end; in fact, most of them don’t even really begin, either. Most movies present a clear beginning of a story, which will advance as an arc and eventually wrap up before the lights go down in the theater. In contrast, Slacker merely ends with a song playing over an amateur video shot by a group of rowdy teenagers. Waking Life
the bed in the bedroom. The camera, in the middle, cuts between them sitting on their own, far apart from one another. Never before in the entire Before series have the characters appeared so far away from one another during conversation. Remember that trolley ride in Vienna? They were right up against one another, as if the seats were too small.
ends with the protagonist dissolving into a shadow as he levitates into a blip in the sky. Each of the Before movies have an open ending, and Midnight leaves open the possibility for a fourth entry into the series. Boyhood ends in the middle of Mason Jr.’s first day of college, leaving us only with the hope that he will fare well.
It’s quite a feat to retain a cohesive artistic vision through a period of 27 years, having the visual style of each of the films lend itself so seamlessly to the framework of the series overall. Boyhood is the prime example of visual consistency over time, where over the course of twelve years’ worth of personal and technological growth the crew nonetheless managed to create a film that works seamlessly and holistically from beginning to end. Richard Linklater is unequivocally the most patient and forward-thinking filmmaker of all-time.
These films represent the human experience in a visceral way not only due to Linklater’s sensibilities as a writer and director, but also because they don’t subscribe to a traditional cinematic structure. Waking Life feels like a dream because, like real dreams, it doesn’t begin or end clearly. It’s weird in the middle, and moves along an undefined and unrefined flow of consciousness. Boyhood feels like growing up because it grasps the nature of those little moments we recall in our own childhoods, those beats along the narrative of our lives. These films feel like they move at the pace of life as it’s experienced, rather than the traditional structure of a conflict-climax-conclusion 90-minute picture.
HITCHHIKER: Every single commodity you produce is a piece of your own death! Thus, we return to our original question: what is one to do in the face of an overwhelmingly inconsequential and brief existence? Perhaps the meaning of life lies in the sort of love shared by Jesse and Celine, or in the seemingly little moments like those which come to define Mason Jr.’s childhood. Perhaps the meaning of life is to think about the meaning of life, as the main character in Waking Life does, or the pretentious townsfolk of Austin in Slacker. Perhaps the meaning of life is to create art, or document reality in a search for truth, as Richard Linklater has done so successfully in his career. In my view, none of these answers suffice, and none are specific to Linklater’s work.
To me, then, it’s noteworthy that Linklater films follow a lifelike trajectory and don’t wrap up tightly. Because life indeed wraps up. Right? The Before series should end with Jesse or Celine dying, and Boyhood should end with Mason Jr. dying, and Waking Life should end with the main character realizing he’s dead. But none of them do. None of them do. I think that’s important. I don’t know why. by Nathaniel Nelson *All block quotations are from Linklater’s 1991 film, Slacker.
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A writer is grossed out by, and disenchanted with, Chipotle.
NYU students are always within a few block radius of at least one Chipotle. In fact, in many areas of the Village, it’s hard to know which Chipotle is closest — burrito cravings can be satisfied at the Chipotle locations on 8th Street, 12th Street, 6th Avenue, and St. Mark’s, just to name a few. I had my last burrito (vegetarian, extra beans, no salsa) about a week ago at the Chipotle on 8th Street. When I say my last burrito, I mean that it was both my most recent meal at Chipotle, and after researching this article, probably my final venture into the fast-food chain for the foreseeable future. Read on — depending on the intensity of your Chipotle devotion (or is it an addiction?), you may just join me in my burrito moratorium. 2015 was a bad year for Chipotle. Between July and December, over 500 people in thirteen states across the country became sick with food-related illnesses after eating at the Mexican food chain. Customers at various locations fell ill with E. coli, Salmonella, and the biggest culprit of all, norovirus. Although there were numerous outbreaks in the last half of 2015, the worst two were by far at Chipotle locations in Simi Valley and Boston. In August, an employee at Chipotle in Simi Valley came to work sick for two days, infecting 207 customers, before being diagnosed with norovirus, the most common cause of food-related sickness (the all-too-familiar symptoms of this virus include vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea). The location was later shut down for inspection and, in December, Chipotle received a grand jury subpoena forcing the company to hand over documents related to the norovirus outbreak at the Simi Valley restaurant. In December, 140 Chipotle customers, many of them college students, fell ill with norovirus after eating at Chipotle near Boston College — this location, too, temporarily closed. During October and November of 2015, over 50 people fell ill from E. coli after eating at Chipotle in nine different states. Additionally, there was another, albeit smaller, E. coli outbreak in December. Unsurprisingly, all of the food-related illness caused by eating in Chipotles across the country had a detrimental impact on the company as a whole. Chipotle stocks dropped 40 percent in value and some estimates suggest the company is worth $10 billion less than it was before the widely covered health scares.
Compared to 2014, December sales were down 30 percent in Chipotle restaurants and fourth quarter sales dropped 14 percent. I asked around to find out if NYU students are adding to Chipotle’s financial woes by going burrito-less and the answers varied. Emily Jensen, a College of Arts and Sciences junior who spent last semester at NYU Paris, is not deterred: “I only stopped going to Chipotle because I was overseas and it was awful in France. My actual first meal upon landing in the States was Chipotle.” On the other hand, Alex Braverman, a senior in CAS is more concerned. “I am definitely more wary of eating Chipotle now,” she told me. Additionally, a friend of mine was recently offered a coupon for a free meal and a bag of chips from Chipotle but declined the offer — she is too afraid to go back to the Mexican-food chain. Yes, that’s right; some college students have completely sworn off Chipotle, even free Chipotle. As I previously stated, I did eat at Chipotle after the health scares, but it should be known that I did so with a free burrito coupon in hand. On February 8th, Chipotle offered to send coupons for free burritos to anyone who texted “raincheck” to 888-222. Two days after sending the text, I received the following, rather casual message from Chipotle: “Here it is. Ur free burrito,” followed by a link to my digital coupon code. Who am I to turn down a free burrito? Free burritos are just one of the many ways in which Chipotle is attempting to rehabilitate its image. In fact, the company is said to be spending $50 million on its après-outbreak comeback. On December 10th, Chipotle founder and CEO Steve Ells spoke on the Today Show, promising that “the procedures we’re putting in place today are so above industry norms that we are going to be the safest place to eat.” Chipotle, months after causing its burrito-loving constituency truly grave illnesses, and sending many to the hospital, is rebranding itself as the “safest place to eat.” On February 8th, every Chipotle in America very publicly closed for four hours so that employees could attend a companywide, virtual meeting and learn about newly-implemented safety procedures. Chipotle is taking further precaution and offering paid sick leave so that employees do not come into work when they are under the weather and risk spreading illnesses, such as norovirus. It’s about time.
Furthermore, Chipotle has publicly announced on its website that it will spend $10 million to train the small local farmers who supply various Chipotle locations with its ingredients. The company promises this will benefit Chipotle, as well as any other companies the farmers may source. Safety is certainly at the forefront of Chipotle’s post-outbreak publicity, but the company is also reminding burrito-lovers of the its lengthy history. I recently heard an advertisement on NPR that touted Chipotle’s 22-year legacy — I had not realized that Chipotle is older than I am. I thought the chain originated just before its hey-day during my middle-school years. Steve Ells, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, founded Chipotle in 1993 in Denver, Colorado — unsurprisingly, in a storefront very close to the University of Denver campus. The simple burrito shop proved to be immensely popular. Eventually, Ells began his expansion, venturing to Kansas City in 1998, and Minneapolis 1999. In 1998, McDonald’s began investing in Chipotle, becoming the chain’s largest investor by 2001. With the help of McDonald’s, Chipotle was able to expand exponentially. The Mexican restaurant went from having 16 locations in 1998 to having over 500 by 2005. Though McDonald’s divested in 2006, Chipotle went public that year with the most profitable U.S.-based IPO in six years. The company’s stock price rose 100 percent during its first day on the New York Stock Exchange. Two years later, in 2008, Chipotle expanded internationally, opening its first location outside the U.S. in Toronto, Canada. Today, Chipotle can be found in France (the largest Chipotle in the world is in Paris), England, and Germany. For years, Chipotle has claimed to serve “Food With Integrity” — the company has always tried to dissociate itself from other fast food chains. Perhaps this is why, when the first Chipotle opened in my home city in 2010, I ate there not only with my friends but occasionally with my family. I can think of no other fast food chain in which my parents would be caught dead. Chipotle was the exception, with its supposedly fresher, more organic ingredients, its minimalist interiors comprised of steel and wood accents, an altogether appealing aesthetic. It couldn’t be that unhealthy.
It turns out that my parents made a miscalculation — we would have been better off going to the dingy McDonald’s across the street. A Chipotle burrito contains far more calories and considerably more sodium than even a Big Mac. Today, Chipotle’s unhealthiness is news to no one; the chain’s burritos are consistently included on lists of the worst foods to eat in America. Chipotle doesn’t hide its sky-high calorie count; in fact, there is a “Nutrition Calculator” on the Chipotle website that allows customers to see the specs on their burrito/taco/bowl/salad creation. While researching this article, I checked out this number-cruncher and learned the “nutrition” facts of my typical Chipotle order. My vegetarian burrito clocked in at whopping 1080 calories, with 1740 mg of sodium and 55 grams of fat. Yes, that slugger I happily consumed last week contained over half of a suggested day’s worth of calories, 240 milligrams more sodium than the daily amount suggested by the American Heart Association, and essentially one day’s worth of fat intake. Yet, unlike other fast food chains, Chipotle has managed to evade the dietary stigma — there is undoubtedly less shame involved in a meal at Chipotle than there is in one at McDonald’s, Burger King, or Taco Bell. If Chipotle’s safety overhaul is successful, the chain will inevitably bounce back from the health scare and there will again be long lines for burritos at the locations on 8th Street and at the 2,010 Chipotle’s around the world. Years ago, Chipotle convinced diners to view it not as a fast food restaurant but as an establishment serving “Food With Integrity.” This image has clearly paid off: last week, the cashier at the organic, memberrun, food co-op on 4th Street in the East Village spooned drippy mounds of a Chipotle burrito bowl into his mouth as he weighed my purchase. I knew, at that moment, that even if I’m not entirely alone in my boycott of Chipotle, the burrito chain will be just fine — if 500 cases of Chipotle-induced illnesses didn’t completely ruin the restaurant’s image, nothing can. Chipotle is here to stay, though according to my most recent visit to IWasPoisoned.com, a website on which diners can inform others of potential poison palaces, not without the occasional sick customer. by Rosie Holden Vacanti Gilroy 35 | Feature
Embodied brings some of cinemaâ€™s greatest leading ladies back to life.
CARMEN JONES Carmen Jones
Creative Direction by Devyn Olin | Assisted by Carly Valentine Photography by Mica Daniels | Assisted by Rose Fitzmaurice Modeled by Chish Malata & InĂŠs Bustamante Hair and Makeup by Alexa Pappas
MRS. ROBINSON The Graduate
FOXY BROWN Foxy Brown
DOROTHY VALLENS Blue Velvet
CATHERINE TRAMELL Basic Instinct
LETICIA MUSGROVE Monster’s Ball
by Annie Felix
Too much attention is being paid to a Republican Presidential race that has confirmed itself as a farce with its penis jokes, odd yoga analogies, and outspoken demagogue (He Who Must Not Be Named); the media doesn’t even have to sensationalize anymore, and political pundits have been scrambling to theorize and analyze the disintegration of the Grand Old Party, trying to discuss seriously something as unserious as middle-school name calling. But quietly on the other end of the spectrum, the Democratic Party is facing an identity crisis of its own. There has arisen a presidential field symbolic of a fundamental divide in the Democratic Party. It may be less spectacular, but this Democratic rift is just as serious as the Republican one. And no, this isn’t some sort of millennials-versus-the-world tirade about the rift between the young new Democratic voters, represented by Sanders, and the older ones, represented by Hillary Clinton. I refuse to explain this split in the Democratic Party with another rant about the baby boomers, Snapchat, and the generational gap. I think it — this grand crack running down the center of the Party, I mean — is represented not by a difference in policy (unlike its Republican counterpart), but by how one goes about changing policy; it’s not a matter of content, but of process. As far as appearances go, the two presidential candidates, and the type of Democratic Party they represent, are poles apart — one, a perfectly pruned smiling member of the political elite, and the other, a relatively unknown political insider with wild hair and a vigorous air. But when it comes to policy, they both have the same end goals of making society more progressive; Senator Bernie Sanders may be more to the left than Hillary Clinton on many issues (but not all — take women’s rights and gun control, for example), but they both stand firmly to the left of current society. For them, there’s no argument in what direction the country needs to go — both say it’s towards the progressive left — but on how one (a.k.a. the country) switches to that direction: does one meander gradually leftward, or does one take the proverbial “left-turn?” It is this, meandering to the left versus turning sharply into it, that Hillary Clinton and Senator Sanders disagree upon, and it is this, their disagreement, that symbolizes the rift of the Democratic Party. What direction will the Democratic Party go? The way of the radicals: that of the “left turn” and sudden political change? Or the way of the progressives: the gradual progress, building new political change upon the old, established, political mechanisms? It’s a question of political aspirations versus their feasibility. A left turn to liberal utopia would be perfect, but progressives ask if that is even possible. It’s a question of the radical idealism, as represented by Sander, going toe-to-toe with a progressive realism, as represented by Clinton. And if that’s a tired argument, (and it’s starting to be) — it’s also a question of the Democratic Party as a Progressive Establishment that meanders to the left vs. a Populist Collective that wants change, and wants it now. HILLARY CLINTON AND THE REALISTS She’s got an unlimited supply of smart designer pant suits, a blinding smile for just about any situation, and a great poker face. Hillary Clinton is the picture of a politician through and through, but an imperfect one at that.
And central to her political campaign is precisely that — politics. Hillary is running to be a politician, the president. She wants to do her job: put on a suit and sign bills in the Oval Office, perform diplomatic work, and be the head of the executive branch of government, as she would be constitutionally obliged. It’s as simple as that — this is a job that she thinks she is qualified for (and, hell, with eight years as First Lady, eight years as Senator, and four years as Secretary of State, she is), and she is going through a rather long, rather bizarre, and rather public, interview. She thinks she’s ready to take the reins from President Barack Obama, whose flaws and triumphs she’s been studying from her front row seat, just like she studied her husband’s roller coaster presidency 23 years ago. She’s here to voice her voters. She has her progressive politics — weaned and altered from her idealistic college years, yes, but still as progressive as (or more than) Obama has been these past 8 years — and she has plans for America, accumulated over years in the political scene. This, her resume of sorts, is her claim to the presidency. She’s not here to change hearts, but to change laws. “I could stand up here and say, ‘Let’s just get everybody together, Let’s get unified. The sky will open. The light will come down. Celestial choirs will be singing. And everyone will know we should do the right thing and the world will be perfect […] Maybe I’ve just lived a little long, but I have no illusions about how hard this is going to be. You are not going to wave a magic wand and have the special interests disappear.” – Hillary Clinton, 2008 Hillary, then, is not running to be God or, in her words, a wizard with a magic wand whom will save the world and change the culture instantaneously. Even after her resounding defeat back in 2008 to another Democratic President-hopeful who was, like Senator Sanders, an idealist with flashy plans for the American people, she has remained the realist who won’t lure voters with exciting and unexecutable plans. When Obama campaigned (to much applause), saying “Yes We Can!” Hillary smiled, and appeared to say “No We Can’t.” That’s not really true, though it really did seem to be so; she wasn’t shutting down all change — she is a progressive Democrat, after all — she was announcing her policy goals which then proclaimed, as they do now, “Yes We Can! But with some things, there are limits.” Hillary Clinton does not assume being President gives her some sort of absolute power through which her policies, dictated by her voters, can do anything they want to do — that kind of boundless policy power belongs in a dictatorship, not in the political playground of the world’s economic and political superpower. Hillary is careful with her words — she isn’t going to promise a liberal utopia because she knows she can’t deliver one. It is this truth that she cannot create a progressive utopian society that she’s trying to sell through her campaign — the truth that the President is not the Monarch, that the executive power is checked and balanced by judicial and Republican-controlled legislative power. It’s Politics 101. And when has the truth, especially one like this, ever been sweet? Some people think political realism — taking into account the real challenges and boundaries that policies will need to overcome to create change — is a less cynical permutation of defeatism, a very very problematic term. Some critics, notably Walker Bragman from Salon, think that Hillary’s brand of 43 | The View
realism is a towel thrown in, a resignation, as if politics is a game in which one triumphs or is defeated, instead of a longstanding methodology for establishing order. “Instead of digging their heels in, and preparing for the tough fights ahead, they now resign themselves to limiting their goals such that expectations and hope match only the incremental progress they perceive as feasible. This is dubbed ‘realism.’” Bragman’s argument is that realism/“defeatism” doesn’t do enough —– it sees a boundary and, rather than running towards it at full speed, stops and makes concessions; how does one break boundaries if one stops at them? That would be a good question if the progressive political realist really did stop at a boundary and accept it, a conservative move. Indeed Hillary Clinton has been accused of being a “neocon,” which may sound like some sort of terrible prison-movie term, but actually means neo-conservative. But does the realist really stop at boundaries and accept the status quo? Don’t they, in Bragman’s own words, just limit their goals to match feasible incremental progress?
This meander to the left looks at boundaries and tries to find the best ways to knock them down, rather than running at them futilely, and with brute force. It is a gradual, incremental leftward progression that builds upon progress already made. Speaking to some Black Lives Matter activists before an event, Hillary Clinton let this, her entire campaign philosophy, slip, in a tiny manifesto of sorts of political realism. “I don’t believe you change hearts, I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate. You’re not going to change every heart. You’re not. But at the end of the day, we can do a whole lot to change some hearts, and change some systems, and create more opportunities for people who deserve to have them.” Hillary Clinton will not be the changer of hearts, the messiah of the liberals. What she will be is their president, pushing at boundaries with “feasible goals of incremental progress,” so that, at the end of the day, her laws, the laws she changed and/ or made, will have at least changed some systems, and, if we’re lucky, some hearts.
“Even after her resounding defeat back in 2008 to another Democratic President-hopeful who was, like Senator Sanders, an idealist with flashy plans for the American people, she has remained the realist who won’t lure voters with exciting and unexecutable plans.” And what’s wrong with having a realistic view on what can and cannot be done in a country? I, for the life of me, cannot see the fault in lining goals up with feasible expectations of the future, especially in terms of the politics of the economic hegemony — the country whose socio-politico-economics people the world over depend on. Hillary’s — any Democrat realist’s — presidential route is one of feasible goals and incremental progress, gradually improving upon current political systems when possible, in an economically, socially, and politically viable manner. By that I mean improving current laws to be more progressive when there is enough money (economic), enough support from the people, Republicans and Democrats alike (social), and enough support from the elected representatives (political).
BERNIE SANDERS AND THE IDEALISTS Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, does not own closets full of pressed suits (see the Twitter uproar over his brown/black outfit on the March Democratic Debate). He is the romanticized, curmudgeonly old man, like Carl in Up. He’s the dreamer we’ve all been waiting for, the perfect liberal idealist who speaks the anti-establishment ideas of marginalized, disenfranchised groups that poor, LGBTQ, people of color have voiced forever, except as an entitled white man from within the system. With the added bonus of the cutest gruff-personality and accent. Listening to Senator Sanders makes me angry, inflamed, and absolutely full of revolutionary fervor. It also makes me feel like a naughty little kid skipping geography class, full of a kind 44 | The View
of pleasure in doing something I shouldn’t be doing: “We’re going to make America like Sweden? *Looks furtively behind my shoulder* Are you sure? Okay — I’m down. Political Revolution? Yeah, I’d like some of that...” Because it doesn’t matter if I don’t know whether or not a Swedish America (Democratic Socialism) is even possible; the idea is just so idealist, so intoxicating, that the thought — so revolutionary, so fuck-the-rules — gets me carried away. And it’s not just a naughty pleasure in pondering ideas that every political pundit ever has told us are impossible; it’s the power of the populace, this feeling of rising up after hibernating for years, the primal roar of “YES. WE. CAN.” As Salon’s Walker Bragman (who, I have to admit, is my favorite Bernie Sanders supporter) says, “Bernie Sanders as the face of the United States will send shockwaves through the political system that will have a ripple effect on the nation. We the idealists are the beginning of a new era, and we’re here to stay. Nobody is going to tell us what we can and cannot achieve. There is no stopping an idea whose time has come. The revolution is here, and the country will never be the same. That’s the reality.” Senator Sanders is a “shockwave.” He, as the face of the idealists, has an idea so powerful that absolutely no one can stop him. No one can tell the idealists what can and cannot be done. The idealist idea is unstoppable because there are no boundaries, there are no rules, that stand a chance against it. It’s, well, idealistic. Bragman’s little spiel is absolutely drunk on the power of Senator Sanders’ political revolution. It’s drunk on an idea so powerful that it can destroy existing, established, political systems. It’s so attractive because this is what we’ve been told not to do; it’s so attractive because it seeks to destroy all the boundaries and to break the rules that keep in place the evils by whom we’ve been oppressed and to whom we’ve become accustomed. Contrary to Hillary Clinton, Sanders, and idealists in general, ignores the rules, the boundaries at which Hillary and the realists stop and try, gradually, to topple, because he thinks that if he amasses enough support, he can just blow them away all together. The “Changing laws, not hearts” slogan doesn’t apply here; Sanders is absolutely focused on hearts and his mission is to mobilize the masses, and lend a voice to the Silent American Majority. The heart is at the core of his policies, and if he changes them, he can destroy boundaries. So when I call Senator Sanders idealistic, I do not mean he’s a lone delusional revolutionary who believes that utopia is but a few steps away, reading Che Guevara speeches in an underground bunker and trying to radicalize any simpleton who happens to stumble upon his hideout (No, really. I don’t). I mean he is idealistic in that his campaign has been focused on ideas more than policies. Changing hearts, rather than laws; a revolutionary process rather than a political one. When asked in earlier debates about the policy changes he would enact in the first 100 days of his Presidency, Sanders said, “What my first days are about is bringing America together, to end the decline of the middle class, to tell the wealthiest people in this country that yes, they are going to start paying their fair share of taxes, and that we are going to have a government that works for all of us, and not just big campaign contributors.”
Did you see that?! That was so smart — it was such a nice, revolutionary answer, and any good liberal would have been chanting “yes. Yes. YES. YES.” along with him. But where are the policy plans? Vaguely-planned trillion-dollar health care bills and calls for doubling the minimum wage (when Congress is not even willing to budge a cent upwards) don’t count. This is rhetoric. These are empty promises. This is a call to unify America against all the evil that plagues it, not a prospective plan of how President Bernie Sanders will work with Congress to rid it of said evil, which was the original question. This also smells strongly of The New Deal; creating jobs through infrastructure projects? Really? Is a second New Deal really necessary considering America is not in the middle of a 25%-unemployment-type Depression? Senator Sanders’ bid for the presidency, then, does not rely on changing laws, but on unifying the American people. It is the idealistic campaign that depends on the idea that the liberal people together can do just about anything they put their minds to if they just want it hard enough. This also makes Sanders’ candidacy a unilateral one, an attempt to subvert convention with or without the participation of the many people who will try to stop him. But can Sanders bring together the American people? Can he blow away boundaries to his policies by changing the hearts of all those who oppose it? Therein lies the difference between Clinton and Sanders: he believes in ideas and bringing the American people together so that there exist no more boundaries, making the conservatives liberals and the racists tolerant. She believes in what is real: that the conservatives will not, by the flick of some presidential magic wand, turn liberal, nor will the racists relinquish their archaic views in one term. To bring back a well-known adage: “Rome was not built in a day.” THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE A BILL PASSED IN CONGRESS Senator Bernie Sanders is perhaps best known for his “political revolution,” a leftist incarnation of heart-changing-idealism and a rejection of the the Clintonian realism, one of incremental progress in which what has already been accomplished and established is improved upon. In fact, as I noted earlier, part of Senator Sanders’ appeal is his rejection of the status quo and the establishment. In his typically forceful manner, Senator Sanders summed up this anti-establishment position by differentiating himself from President Obama, and also describing the essence of his idealistic political revolution: “The major political, strategic difference I have with Obama is it’s too late to do anything inside the Beltway. You gotta take your case to the American people, mobilize them, and organize them at the grassroots level in a way that we have never done before” In this mistrust of the establishment, those insiders within the Beltway, and his belief in mobilizing the American people to take back a deteriorating country, Senator Sanders is displaying quintessentially populist characteristics. This is populism and this is his political revolution. Sanders’ brand of change, his populism, will come from the outside, the mobilization of 45 | The View
Illustration by Senna Oh
the American people, rather than through the insiders and the political elite. After all, the political revolution is a revolution: it cannot be some mundane bill passed in Congress. It is a “leftturn” that does not seek to improve upon existing progressive laws but abandon them for a quicker route leftward, a route that is supported more by the “Silent American Majority” than the establishment and its voters. This isn’t really Senator Sanders’ fault. The fact that he is an idealist and believer in the “left-turn” method of political change is what leads him to this populism. The “left-turn” advocates quick, revolutionary change, that comes not from the establishment but from the “YES WE CAN” roar of the people, the believers. Anti-establishment rhetoric goes hand-in-hand with the rejection of gradual, governmental policy change. Populism is, really, a product of idealism. I mean, how ironic is that? A man running to be the executive leader — the head of the establishment — is anti-establishment. He mistrusts the very workings of the institution which he hopes to lead and all of the change he wants to create will come from outside his own potential jurisdiction. If Sanders’ cohort of the Democratic Party is populist or antiestablishment, where does it fit into an establishment-centered political party? Can this kind of new-age populist party even exist, seeing as political parties are innately supporters of the establishment themselves? The inherent paradox that is a populist sector of the establishment is what makes Sanders’ campaign, and its effects on the Democratic Party, so discordant in itself. Clearly, the Democratic Party that Senator Bernie Sanders is represents, a populist anti-establishment one, is very different from, even antagonistic toward, the traditional establishment of political insiders and elites who all want to believe government must be the architect of political change.
And who could be considered more of a political elite than the former First Lady/Senator/Secretary of State Hillary Clinton herself? She is the symbol of the establishment with her myriad Senate and House endorsements, her famous last name, and her connections to the Democratic Party higher-ups. Indeed, she is a party higher-up. But Hillary stands for establishment politics not just because she is the establishment, but also because of her progressive “leftward meander” politics that depend on the incremental improvement upon existing policy. Her political realism and progressivism on building from bricks already laid. Thus, it is in the nature of a progressive to depend upon the establishment and to bring about change through it, rather than in spite of it. This, again, amplifies the discord between Hillary’s Democratic Party and Senator Sanders’ Democratic Party. And here we were, thinking that the Republican Party had troubles. The Democratic Party, with its two presidential candidates, is showing the American people its two faces: the hardened one of the proestablishment progressive-realist and the hopeful one of the antiestablishment, populist-idealist. Split at the root, the voters will have to choose which route they will advocate, which route will characterize their party. by Annie Felix
RUSHING PAST: IN DEFENSE OF GREEK LIFE
Greek Life: the Alpha and the Omega of the traditional college experience, right up there with football games, pep rallies, and sprawling green lawns. NYU prides itself on being the very antithesis of the “traditional college experience”;the campus bookstore sells football team gear ironically, for Christ’s sake, so why is the presence of Greek life an exception? This is the question which I have sought to answer from the moment I discovered that NYU did, in fact, have a number of fraternities and sororities on campus. I’m from Florida, where many of the major universities emphasize Greek Life as the primary means of social involvement. This is not uncommon in the southern states: reminiscent of the “debutante” tradition, countless girls are groomed for sorority life well before they go through recruitment, and once accepted into the sorority of their dreams, they’re free to live out their college experience partying with 300 of their closest friends until they eventually find their Prince Charming doing a keg stand. So, where does NYU fit into this? Plot twist: It doesn’t. It was at Club Fair that I first took in the letter-adorned banners and beaming smiles at every sorority and fraternity table, and, in spite of myself, I actually began to relax. Before me was no cringeworthy display of Barbie clones intimidating every passing freshman into joining their ranks. Instead, I saw diverse women carrying friendly conversations. When I dared to venture closer, I found that these active members were helpful, kind, and truly valued the bonds forged within their respective chapters. Shirts, emblazoned with letters, were sported proudly on all different body typesskinny, curvy, short, talland on many different skin colors. It was at this moment that I realized that the Greek Life community at NYU doesn’t just accept diversity; it celebrates it. As with any collegiate organization, the members of the Greek community are reflective of the student body from which they are pulled. Students at NYU come from a wide variety of cultures and backgrounds; they pursue all kinds of interests. But they all share a burning desire to leave this world better than they found it. Through this common thread, seemingly different individuals cultivate lifelong friendships and genuine connections in a notoriously lonely city. In the words of one sorority woman, we’ll call her Amanda, “Living in New York and going to a big school like NYU can oftentimes feel overwhelming and disconnected. Greek Life is a great thing to fall back on.” She goes on to discuss her initial uncertainty about going through sorority recruitment. Looking back, she’s glad she took the leap. “I wasn’t sure if it was something I wanted to devote my time to, and I think I would have felt the same no matter what school I chose, but now I’m really happy with my decision. It’s one of my favorite things about NYU.”
Despite the clear positive impact of Greek involvement on NYU students, the lack of understanding and visibility for the community allows for the perpetuation of certain stigmas. NYU is in a unique position as a metropolitan university; because of this, there are countless other opportunities and resources for students to explore outside of Greek Life (as opposed to universities situated in more rural or residential locales). This range of options means that only about 12% of the student body at NYU is involved in Greek Life, not because it isn’t a quality system, but because there is no societal pressure forcing them to participate. Members of Greek Life can find themselves frustrated at the lack of understanding among their peers, but they also find that, with time, some of the negative stereotypes wear away. “When I first joined...people gave me a really hard time,” Amanda remembers. “They questioned my decision and I felt like there was a stigma around Greek lLife. But over time, everyone got over it and realized it wasn’t a big deal.” In addition to providing a support system for their members, the Greek community also participates in multiple charity fundraising events each year, from competitions to bake sales. Each organization affiliates itself with a primary cause, and fraternities and sororities at NYU consistently rise to the challenge of giving back in any way they can. This aspect of Greek Life is especially near and dear to members who genuinely enjoy volunteerism and carving out a space in their busy lives to dedicate to such endeavors. “I did a lot of community service in high school, so being involved with different philanthropies through Greek Life is a great experience,” says another active sorority member, adding “I really love it. It’s amazing to be able to give back to the community. We always have some sort of opportunity.” Perhaps the most noteworthy philanthropic effort fueled by members of NYU Greek Life is the annual New York Dance Marathon; this past year the event raised over $300,000 for children with cancer. The greater NYU community truly misses a gem when it writes off Greek Life as superficial or irrelevant. Anyone who’s seen The House Bunny might be afraid to take a closer look (and I don’t blame them), but those who do will be amazed at what they find. At its heart, Greek Life at NYU actively encourages its members to better themselves and their communities; in turn, members find a genuine sense of family within their chapters. “If anyone in the chapter ever needed something, I would be there,” says Amanda. “Even if we aren’t the closest of friends, I know they would do the same for me. It gives you a sense of connection that I haven’t found anywhere else.” by Patricia Pimintel
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THE NEW CLASSICS After two consecutive Oscars ceremonies have been entirely whitewashed, Embodied decided to take the revisionist approach by reimagining classic films with younger, more diverse cast-members and revived storylines. Executives, producers, directors and academy members: take note. by Isabel Jones
JERRY MAGUIRE (1996)
ANNIE HALL (1977)
The Modern Problem:
The Modern Problem:
Directed by Cameron Crowe
The power dynamic between mousy single mom Dorothy (Rene Zellweger) and her dreamy boss Jerry (Tom Cruise) is so outrageously skewed, it’s almost comedic. Dorothy falls at Jerry’s feet: “You had me at hello” and blah, blah, blah. It’s embarrassing how desperately Dorothy longs for Jerry’s attention, especially considering she really doesn’t know him at all.
The Modern Solution:
In 2016, this puppy-eyed obsession with the somehow superior man will not stand. In fact, a modern Jerry Maguire would be better named after its female lead, who would exude control over the narrative and take shape in an actress known for both her charm and her strength of character: think Zoe Saldana or Mila Kunis. The supporting role of Jerry would be best played by an actor of less forthright arrogance than Cruise, perhaps the oft-overlooked Idris Elba.
Directed by Woody Allen
Woody Allen. It’s near impossible to separate the art from the artist at this point. The pile of accusations against Allen has only grown in size since the Soo-Yi scandal (Cliffs Notes: he married his step-daughter). And really, what are we trying to preserve? Magic In The Moonlight? A series of sloppy, money-grubbing international adventures made to prove Allen is still relevant? Annie Hall was certainly ahead of its time, but Allen as a romantic lead today? Veto.
The Modern Solution:
Aziz Ansari. Say what you will, but Ansari knows comedy. While a foil to Allen’s brand of Brooklyn schtick, Ansari has just the voice to endow the film with a fresh (and less icky) dose of modern neuroses.
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ROSEMARY’S BABY (1968)
BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S (1961)
The Modern Problem:
The Modern Problem:
Directed by Roman Polanski
Birthing Satan’s son is not the foremost concern for the bulk of modern mothers to be. While Roman Polanski’s horror classic does indeed stand up today — as eerie and psychologically harrowing as when it debuted in 1968 — there’s no denying that this whole “Satan’s Spawn” concept is a bit tired.
The Modern Solution: A 2016 update of Rosemary’s Baby would truly strike terror in the homes and hearts of America. The husband and wife characters of Rosemary (Mia Farrow) and Guy (John Cassavetes) would be replaced by a young lesbian couple, Gillian (Rosario Dawson) and Rosie (Sandra Oh). In this adaptation, Rosie and Gillian are expecting their first child, all made possible by a seemingly charming sperm donor named Joel (Scott Eastwood). Rosie and Gillian feel confident in choosing Joel — he’s welleducated, good looking, and very passionate about contributing to what he calls the “circle of life.” At least, that’s what it said on his donor profile. When Rosie is five months along and she and Gillian are in the process of converting one corner of their Williamsburg loft into an exposed brick nursery, they learn something truly horrifying about Joel. He’s voting for Trump. Could Rosie and Gillian’s child be genetically predisposed to racism, stupidity, and the wearing of bad toupees? That question will haunt Rosie and Gillian and their audience for the rest of the film.
Directed by Blake Edwards
Breakfast At Tiffany’s was ahead of its time in many regards — racial diversity and fairness was not one of them. Mickey Rooney’s portrayal of Holly Golightly’s Asian landlord, Mr. Yunioshi, is difficult to watch in this day and age. At the time of its release, few media outlets saw fault in Rooney’s performance. In fact, The New York Times first described it as “broadly exotic.” It took a few years, but by the 1990s, Rooney’s “yellowface” debacle was universally considered despicably racist. The Los Angeles Daily News best described the performance’s myriad failings, writing that the role “would have been an offensive stereotype even played by an Asian; the casting of Mickey Rooney added insult to injury.”
The Modern Solution:
First off, we’re going to recast the role of Holly with Lupita Nyong’o. It’s about time Lupita was given a meaty, icon-making role — plus, she’s the only modern actress I can imagine pulling off casual tiara wear. As for the case of Mr. Yunioshi, we’re going to scrap the racial constraints of the part and retool the character altogether. He’s still an obnoxious neighbor, but far and away from Tiffany’s racial stereotyping, he will now be known as Tate, a Duck Dynasty mega-fan played by Kevin James.
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Film Photography by Felix Chan | @felixhychan
Published on May 11, 2016
Embodied Magazine's 6th Volume, The Throwback Issue, hones in on the relationship between the past and present, exploring the arts, pop cult...