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02.02.12 vol. xlii, no. 36 The Indy is so over winter.
Cover Design by
Miranda shugars and sayantan deb
NEWS Remembering the Holocaust 3 Talking Head$ 4 FORUM He Said — He Said 4 Dear Diary, 5 Again. And Again. 6 The Wedding Party 7 ARTS L isten and L earn 8 Crash and Burn 9 Half-Psychotic, Sick, Hypnotic 10 SPORTS XLVI 11 As Harvard College's weekly undergraduate newsmagazine, the Harvard Independent provides in-depth, critical coverage of issues and events of interest to the Harvard College community. The Independent has no political affiliation, instead offering diverse commentary on news, arts, sports, and student life. For publication information and general inquiries, contact Co-Presidents Whitney Lee and Gary Gerbrandt (firstname.lastname@example.org). Letters to the Editor and comments regarding the content of the publication should be addressed to Editor-in-Chief Meghan Brooks (email@example.com). For email subscriptions please email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Harvard Independent is published weekly during the academic year, except during vacations, by The Harvard Independent, Inc., Student Organization Center at Hilles, Box 201, 59 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138. Copyright © 2012 by The Harvard Independent. All rights reserved
Co-President Co-President Editor-in-Chief Production Manager News and Forum Editor Associate News Editor Arts Editor Associate Arts Editor Sports Editor Design Editor Columnists
Gary Gerbrandt '14 Whitney Lee '14 Meghan Brooks '14 Miranda Shugars '14 Christine Wolfe '14 Carlos Schmidt '15 Sayantan Deb '14 Curtis Lahaie '15 Michael Altman '14 Angela Song '14 Will Simmons '14 Sanyee Yuan '12 Celia Zhang '13
Staff Writers Yuqi Hou '15 Cindy Hsu '14 Yuying Luo '12 Zena Mengesha '14 Marina Molarsky-Beck '15 Riva Riley '12 Brad Rose '14 Kalyn Saulsberry '14 Marc Shi '14 Weike Wang '11 Graphics, Photography, and Design Staff Maria Barragan-Santana '14 Travis Hallett '14 Nina Kosaric '14 Alexandria Rhodes '14
Picks of the Week A Night at the Opera Dunster House Opera presents “The Marriage of Figaro” written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. A black tie showing will take place Friday, Feb. 3, 2012, 8:30 p.m. in the Dunster House dining hall. Directed By Matt Aucoin and Stewart Kramer. Cost: $20 regular, $10 students, $15 senior citizens. Tickets available at Holyoke center box office (617.496.2222) and at the door.
A Question of Ethics The Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics presents “Institutional Corruption,” a conference open to all members of the Harvard community. The day will be divided into parts, one of which is an actual case study. Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Where: Milstein East, Wasserstein Bldg., 2nd floor, Harvard Law School. Cost: FREE. Meals will be provided to registered participants. For more information, contact email@example.com. 02.02.12 • The Harvard Independent
Commemorating the Unforgettable The story of a Holocaust survivor. By WHITNEY LEE
H olocaust . T he mere mention of it calls to mind thoughts of fascist regimes, of starvation, of heartache and of incredible loss. It is a reminder of the unspeakable measures of cruelty that humans are capable of inflicting upon each other. It is unpleasant, painful, to remember, but remembering is exactly what one is asked to do, at least once a year, on International Holocawust Remembrance Day. The day, which falls on the 27th of January each year, is easily overlooked in the way that these holidays tend to be, forgotten in the hustle and bustle of daily life, eclipsed by a thousand other considerations that occupy ones thoughts on any given day. To elevate this day to its deserved status, Harvard Hillel, the cultural center responsible for the religious, social, and educational needs of Harvard’s large Jewish population, organized a lecture and reception dedicated to Holocaust remembrance. The main draw to this combination lecture-reception was the guest speaker, Mrs. Janet Singer Applefield, a clinical social worker from Boston University, who is a child survivor of The Holocaust. Mrs. Singer Applefield lives only a few miles from campus in Boston with her growing brood of children and grandchildren. he
She is no stranger to these sorts of gatherings, as she travels the country telling her story of triumph and survival to people of all ages in a lecture entitled “Teaching Tolerance by Telling My Story”. Her story is one that is both long and heartbreaking, beginning at age four in Poland. She was only four years old when the Nazis occupied Poland, living in the small village of Nowy Targ with her large extended Jewish family who had been in Poland for generations. Before the war, she says, their lives were incredibly peaceful with people travelling from nearby villages to shop at her grandfather’s store. While antiSemitism existed and presented itself in the form of the occasional snide remark, thrown rocks and anti-Jewish signs posted outside of Jewish-owned businesses, she said that Jews and Christians lived in relative harmony “as long as Jews maintained their boundaries”. The only reason she believes that her life was spared when the war began is the fact that, for most of her life, she possessed golden blond hair, green eyes and an upturned nose – which, to most, made her seem just like a “typical Aryan child”. Forced out of Poland, her family fled to Russia, where
life became very difficult. After series of unfortunate events and sweeping policy changes forcing Polish immigrants to abandon their documentation for Russian documentation, the family lost their claim to land in Poland and both grandparents were sent away to Siberia, where they died soon after due to the harsh living conditions. Applefield’s baby sister contracted diphtheria and, as they had no access to a hospital, she died at the age of eighteen months. When she and her parents returned to Poland, they immediately regretted leaving Russia. Her father was sent to Krakow ghetto and her mother was taken into the woods and killed. Alone, she was taken in by a young Polish woman, who acted as her guardian for two years until she herself was killed working with the Polish resistance. When the war was over, she learned that out of her very large family, she and her father were the only survivors. When she first saw her father after two and a half years, he looked completely foreign to her, weighing only eighty pounds. Returning to her village, she discovered that she was the only Jewish child from the town to survive the war. They
lived in her grandparents’ house with several other people who had returned for their own protection; considering the fact that their were threatened daily by the other people in the town, but somehow amidst all of this violence, they managed to survive, to triumph and to rebuild their lives brickby-brick. Though Mrs. Singer Applefield’s story is unique, it speaks to the larger idea of finding humanity in a horrible situation. In her own words, the people who took her in were “unusual, special people. They did not stop to analyze their actions, did not waiver, hesitate, or even think about the tragedy that could result from their acts. Although they knew they were risking their own lives, they simply responded to the cries of a child in need. My rescuers are the genuine heroes. They asked for nothing and gave everything.” This is the real focus of her story, the extreme kindness and care that people are capable of showing even in the direst of circumstances. Whitney Lee ’14 (whitneylee@college) is touched by Mrs. Singer Applefield’s story, and hopes the remembrance will long continue.
Courtesy of WikiCommons
The New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston, Massachusetts. The Harvard Independent • 02.02.12
News and Forum
The World Economic Forum in Retrospect The rich and powerful discuss the future of the world economy. By CARLOS SCHMIDT
ast week, numerous business and
political elites — ranging from Microsoft’s Bill Gates to the IMF’s Christine Lagarde — met in a secluded resort in the Swiss Alps to discuss the state of the world’s economy, entrepreneurship, socioeconomic advancement, and democratization at the 2012 World Economic Forum (WEF). Dating back to the 1970’s, the WEF serves as a venue for the world’s elite to discuss the main political and economic concerns in an informal, rather relaxed, and open-ended manner. However, this year proved to be unorthodox for WEF standards. With looming concern over the Eurozone crisis, the possibility of Greek bankruptcy, and the inability of key markets to recover from the 2008 financial crisis, the economy dominated the talks. An audience of leading politicians and business leaders heard expert academics and ministers deliberate on the prospects of a recovery and the challenges facing many nations
and groups. After four weeks of seminars and presentations, only one thing was certain: the prospects of a speedy recovery and a return to the status quo are quite uncertain. One of the initial events featured panelists debating on the present and future of capitalism and the foremost economic system of organization. Dominated by Western thinkers, the discussion on capitalism reflected a strong belief in the capitalist model. Bill Gates, a common and prominent figure at WEF, told the BBC in an interview,“We’re going through a tough period, but there is no other system [aside from capitalism] that has improved humanity.” Not surprisingly, some of the panelists showed concerned about the future towards which capitalism is headed. Sharon Burrow, the chief of the International Trade Union Confederation, stated, “we’ve lost a moral compass” and cited the discontent among the world’s populace as an example (i.e., the “Occupy” movement).
With a relative unease about the state of capitalism and the path it is treading, the presentation by the IMF Executive Director, France’s Christine Lagarde, was not surprising. She said “We [the IMF] are not suggesting there should be fiscal consolidation across the board,” implying that countries with struggling fiscal problems must take robust and innovate measures. Just slashing the deficit and implementing austerity measures will not resolve economic disparity; on the contrary, it would worsen it, Lagarde argued. According to her, a country’s fiscal and economic measures “have to be tailormade.” Countries cannot undertake rampant spending cuts that can, in the end, hinder economic growth. Raising her brown bag, Lagarde told the audience, “I am here with my little bag to collect a bit of money.” As the Eurozone crisis escalated and Greece seems closer and closer to bankruptcy, funds are fleeing from rescue packages, including those of the IMF. Lagarde called on nations, such
as the US and the UK, to continue and increase their funding. However, with fiscal problems at home and the growing influence of China, US Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, implied that emerging markets need to contribute more to the ongoing rescue operations. Geithner stated, “If Europe is able to find the political will to build a more effective firewall then you are going to see the IMF, the major shareholders in the IMF and emerging economies very supportive of those efforts.” Nevertheless, as a recent report by a German newspaper suggests, cooperation in the Eurozone is waning as Germany grows increasingly uneasy with Greece’s financial conundrum. Despite the WEF participants’ preaching, they could not deliver what the world needs most: confidence. Carlos Schmidt ’15 (cschmidt@college) would have added an executive position at the IMF to his extracurriculars this semester — if it hadn’t conflicted with Indy meetings.
A Groundhog Day Presidency Obama's place is at the podium in today's America. By GARY GERBRANDT
Tuesday night at the IOP, I booed President Obama. Of course, I cheered wildly at much of what he was saying, too. His practical, logical approach to the myriad specters floating listlessly over the American landscape is worth putting stock in; it is worth examining closely; it is worth considering as a realistic set of national goals. It is, in short, a campaign platform. An okay platform, sufficient, I suppose, and, in an era of political insanity, somehow sane. Complacency seems to be called for among progressive voters these days — despite the electoral signs to the contrary (which is to say, the wild rightward swing after the 2010 midterm elections), the things President Obama has been saying for the past few years almost seem to be coming to fruition. The American economy is growing (slowly, nowhere near quickly enough to recover its pre-recessionary strength any time soon). Frankly, right now, the rest of the issues don’t matter. ast
Mitt Romney’s recent turn of phrase in regards to the State of the Union Address — he decried Obama’s tenure as a “groundhog day presidency,” one in which promises are made and repeated every day like some kind of cultish mantra, but not kept — is somewhat of a paean to the calendars that cover the walls of the Republican candidate’s campaign offices (located, somehow unsurprisingly, in a nondescript office building a few miles east of Cambridge). It is by these that he sets his watch, flosses his grin, moisturizes his good hand for maximum shakability. Romney was distinctly aware, as he called to mind that simple image of the classic Bill Murray film, that there remained (and remains) an unimaginably complicated path for him to gain the nomination of a regressive, dangerous party in a time which necessitates staid political and administrative guidance. Florida voted on Tuesday, giving him a few more delegates, but nowhere near enough
to become the nominee. He might be a frontrunner, but he still has a long way to go. There will likely be months before the race is truly decided, particularly if his opponents’ fringe audiences keep propping them up. Romney’s essentially meaningless attack, one which is neither aggressive, nor articulate, nor well-founded, is going nowhere. The policies of the President are making things in America better. Sure, these are dark days, and it doesn’t take much to make things “better,” and there’s plenty of room to improve still, and so on qualifiers granted! It is these successful policies that will matter this fall. Given the choice of Obama, an intelligent, proven leader whose restorative work has finally begun to address the nightmarish state into which America plunged due to its last Republican president, or Romney, a man whose conservative credentials (so important in a polarized America) are questionable, whose business ventures focused
mainly on taking small businesses and only slightly improving them, and whose pop culture references are comprised of slapstick from the silent movie era, the side which voters will take becomes apparent. So, go ahead, Mr. Romney. Preach it to high heaven that Obama repeats himself. Good one. I’m sure that will help you the next time you’re debating a guy who brought home a miscarried fetus to visit his kids, an ethically-challenged man whose greatest aspiration is to colonize the Moon, and that sprightly old OBGYN whose politics are laughably beyond even the staunchest conservative’s. In the meantime, try to come up with some better material while you’re pretending to be a man of the people. I’m sure that the President (and America) can’t wait to hear what you’ll come up with next. Gary Gerbrandt ’14 (garygerbrandt@college) can’t wait to play a long edition of Dueling Pianos with conservative Indyites as the election unfolds. 02.02.12• The Harvard Independent
Journaling Away My Worries The calm and tepid waters of self-reflection. By KALYN SAULSBERRY
always seem to underestimate
just how stressful the start of the semester will be until I am in the midst of it — rushing to three classes within the same hour, finding advisers to sign my study card, waiting on class lotteries — all while staying on top of the homework that has already begun piling up. However, this semester I made the decision to distance myself from such stress by dedicating myself to wellness. Being well means taking the time to check in with myself and make sure I have both mental and physical peace. In short, it means taking a moment to do something that is not dedicated to building up my résumé, but instead helps me build myself up as a person beyond my academic goals and extracurricular activities.
The Harvard Independent • 02.02.12
To be well, I have decided to return to an old hobby that I completed every day of high school: journaling. And by journaling, I do not mean sitting in front of a computer screen and pouring my trials and tribulations into a blog. Instead I am referring to old-fashioned, handwritten journaling in cursive that inevitably results in ink-stained hands. During the school year, I can easily find activities that keep my mind productive and challenged; however, it is much harder to find the time for activities that make my mind well. I developed my goal of wellness via daily journaling over J-term one night when I came across my tenth grade diary while cleaning my home bedroom. As I perused its pages, laughing at my former musings about everything
from excitement over homecoming to worries about the distant college process, I realized that in the years between my sophomore year of high school and my sophomore year in college, I had forgotten many of the minor events I had written about in my daily journal. Nevertheless, I do not feel as if the few holes in my memory are a sign that my daily ritual of journaling was a waste of time. Upon revisiting my old journal, I discovered that journaling is not just about recording happenings that now seem mundane. Instead, it is about taking 20 minutes just for me to reflect on me. As a History concentrator, I spend a great deal of time writing about other people, but my journal entries are handwritten narratives that allow me to articulate my own values,
worries, expectations, and goals in a way that is unique amongst all the papers I will write this semester. Even though the idea of sitting down for 20 minutes to journal every night does not sound too outrageous, it has not been easy even in the beginning of the semester. Some days I have found myself writing only a sentence or two. Thus far, I feel my commitment to daily journaling has increased my sense of wellness; despite the numerous reasons to feel stressed during my sophomore spring, giving myself an outlet for this stress will be the healthiest way to manage it. Kalyn Saulsberry ’14 (ksaulsberry@ college) can’t wait to look back on 2012 in 2020.
Photo courtesy of WikiCommons.
t was unseasonably warm this
shopping period. As the typical Harvard student swept out of classes at the ten, fifteen, thirty and forty-five minute marks before sweeping into others, a friendly sun and a temperate breeze suggested possibility. She exited Sever and Maxwell Dworkin with coat tucked under arm and syllabi filed neatly in notebooks, and whether she was shopping eighteen courses or four, for this confident but busy undergrad, last Wednesday’s fifty-one degree high brimmed with optimism for a new semester. This semester, like last semester and every semester before, was going to be different. She was going to take classes that inspired her, difficult and impressive classes with names like “An Introduction to Northwest Semitic Epigraphy”, and “Heidegger and Kant: the Seminar”. She was going to do all of her readings — the required as well as the supplementary — for every class, stalk her professors in office hours, and start studying for chemistry tests weeks in advance. She had promised to commit one hundred percent to extracurriculars and one hundred and ten percent to weekly dinners with friends in the Quad, and, more importantly, she had been excited about all of it. In short, one week ago the typical Harvard student was going to make the best of her semester intellectually,
socially, and even spiritually, living up to her full potential in every aspect of her life. She was unhesitatingly optimistic. Now, one week later, she sits in her room reading Harvard FML instead of Kant’s theory of the Categorical Imperative, with two Gen Eds on her schedule and her big project for (Insert Organization Here) already stagnating in a pool of unread e-mails. If you’re not her quite yet, wait for it; the high of a semester’s start never survives the first round of midterms. This is the fate of semesters everywhere, and yet, we never try particularly hard to avoid the eventual crash. Instead, we allow the inertia of coursework and other obligations to overwhelm us as we sink into a routine of work and work avoidance. Our enthusiasm becomes survivalism; our optimism, apathy. And yet, it doesn’t have to be this way! Though evidence is scant and living examples evasive, it might be possible to harness the optimism and enthusiasm of shopping period with a little bit of refocusing. In 1993, two wonderful things were brought into this world, the first being much of the Class of 2015 and the second being resident screenwriting professor Daniel J. Rubin’s classic, Groundhog Day. Although some the ability of some freshman to retain their enthusiasm for school well into their second semester is a mystery
Breaking the undergrad's boom-and-bust cycle: an untested theory. By MEGHAN BROOKS
in itself, 1993’s true secret to overcoming the semester’s bust lies in the film, starring Bill Murray. In Groundhog Day, Phil Connors (Murray), a TV weatherman whose egocentrism hides a deep dissatisfaction with life, is sent t o co v e r t h e m e t eo r o l o gi c a l activities of Punxsutawney Phil, a burrowing rodent whose shadow determines whether or not winter will continue. (Hint: It’s early February.) Human Phil is then trapped in a time loop, waking up to February 2nd every morning. He goes through stages of disbelief, acceptance, hedonism, and suicide, before realizing that he can use the opportunity to better himself and learn how to live. In doing so, he gets the girl, breaks the time loop, and grasps onto that ever so elusive sensation, happiness. Although three problem sets and a paper have us dreaming of access to time loops, time turners, and the like, there is a deeper message to be extracted from Groundhog Day. Just as Bill Murray wasn’t able to break from the time loop until he made a concerted effort to focus his attention on enjoying life, we cannot break from the boom-bust cycle of semesters begun optimistically and ended in a heap of cynical exhaustion u n l e ss w e , t o o , re f o c u s o u r attention throughout the semester. What we need is to refocus our attention towards the beginning of
the semester. When planning our schedules and balancing classes, we shouldn’t just ask if what we are setting out to do is “possible”, because with the right amount of sacrifice it almost always is. What we should ask ourselves instead is if what we plan will be enjoyable, remembering that “enjoyable” is not the antonym of “hard”. Academics at Harvard will (almost) always be hard, but life — seeing friends, sleeping, exercising every once in a while — shouldn’t be. If in planning our schedules we were to focus on enjoying our time at school rather than on ambition and prestige, it is likely that we would not only be happier throughout the semester, but more productive for it. Happy students are enthusiastic students, and enthusiastic students do their work, and do their work well. This semester’s shopping period has come and gone, but there is still time to refocus last week’s enthusiasm on the upcoming semester. If we want to break the Groundhog Day-like, boom-andbust academic cycle, we have to step back and re-assess how we approach it. After all, even six more weeks of winter isn’t that long. Meghan Brooks ’14 (meghanbrooks@ college) wishes ever yone a happy Groundhog’s Day and an enjoyable semester.
02.02.12• The Harvard Independent
My (Cousin's) Big Fat (Indian) Wedding
Part I: The Basics
By SAYANTAN DEB
ver the next couple of
issues, I have determined to chronicle the making of my cousin’s wedding. One of the first questions that should pop into your mind (and rightly so) is why? Well, my answer to that is twofold. First, as far as weddings go, it doesn’t get more elaborate, dramafilled, or over-the-top than Indian weddings, and second, I do think that as far as Indian weddings go, this wedding is quite unique. The first reason, I am sure, will become more and more apparent as I take you on this journey through the making of this wedding. The second is why I felt this article was necessary in the first place. It is a sort of primer for all of the madness that is to follow. Being an arts writer, I’ll use a movie analogy to give you all of the basics you need to know to navigate through this wedding. The Main Players: My cousin, let’s call her M: 27, Bengali, Hindu, and really beautiful (I could be biased). She is my dad’s sister’s daughter, though in a lot of ways she is my elder sister. When I was in elementary school, she was the one who went to the big bad world of high school. She is the one who took me to my first R-rated movie. She was always the first one of us to take the first steps. She was the teenager who came every Sunday to my house to learn math from my dad, the grown-up and the first one in our generation to get a job; she was always sort of someone who paved the path, and in my head, she also told me it would not be so scary. M’s fiancé, Sam: Older than M, family from different parts of India, Christian, tall, and conventionally handsome, I guess. I met Sam once before the wedding, when
The Harvard Independent • 02.02.12
he and his family visited us in Kolkata to iron out the details of the wedding. This was in August of 2011. From my first impression, I knew why my cousin had fallen for him; he was tall, friendly, really easy to talk to, and as I soon discovered, a wonderful and easy-going person. He also learned Bengali before meeting our family, and understood most of it, although he hesitated speaking. Oh, and did I mention, he is madly in love with M. How they met: At work. At least that’s the official version. I’m not buying it. Well, I think there’s more to it — the first date, the first fight, the proposal — so I guess I am working on that one. We’ll see if I can uncover more details. The Supporting Cast: My cousin’s sister, let’s call her P: She is the other half of my older sibling unit. When I was younger, I used to annoy the hell out of her, always asking her to play with me. It helped that she had a wonderful collection of dolls, and was very good at pretending to cook food with me. If M was the one who alleviated my sense of fear in the future, she was the one who helped me make the most of my present. Although older than me, P and I were friends, and I think that has only become stronger as we have grown up. My brother, let’s call him Neel: The youngest in the family, he has been the center of attention since he was born. Is there a hint of sibling rivalry there? Are you kidding? It’s more than a hint; I am absolutely green with jealousy. At least, I was the first time M and P came to visit us soon after my brother was born. I didn’t quite care that my parents’ undivided attention had been split, or that my grandmother spent the entire
day tending to his every need, but M and P, well they were mine. Of course, I grew out of that. In the past two years, he has done a wonderful job of transitioning into a mature teenager, though he’s not quite there yet, and has also become one of my closest friends. So naturally, I expected that at this wedding, at least a little bit, he would be my right hand. Yours Truly: I have been told that I suffer from that annoying habit of making everything about me, so I will let you figure out through the rest of this article and the ones to follow who I am. Otherwise, trust me, I could go on for ages. My father and my mother: There’s a tradition in Bengali weddings where the groom takes a “little groom” to the wedding with him, usually a young boy in the family. It’s cute. My father took M as his “little groom” to the wedding, and she was dressed in a white gown and a veil. I guess that’s when M’s fate was sealed. No one knew that yet. She was also the only child in the family for quite some time, so, much like my brother, she got all of the attention, including my father’s. A little birdie also told me that she was one of the first people to meet my mother (well, in the capacity of my father’s would-be wife) probably even before my grandparents. M’s parents: M’s father passed away when she was quite young. In a lot of ways, M’s mother had to assume the role of both. The one thing that I notice most is that she is almost always the strong, smiling type. I also see the tremendous amount of love that she has for both of her daughters (which goes without saying) but also the extent to which she will fight for them, which is quite remarkable.
My grandparents: They are the eldest in the family but never let their age affect how they choose to live their lives. My grandmother is probably the most spirited woman I have seen, and some of that fire still burns within her. My grandfather is the most calm and far-sighted person I have ever seen, and I think there is a bit of him in my brother. Sam’s family: Well this is for you (and me) to discover as the wedding progresses, so we’ll wait on this one. The Setting M and the rest of our family are from Kolkata. It’s sultry and humid in the summer, refreshing in the rain-drenched monsoons, bright with cotton-ball clouds and lights from huge festivals in the autumn, and calm and serene in the winter’s slight chill. The City of Joy, as it is often called, started out as a port city by the Ganges and as the British capital of India during colonial rule. Now it still holds on to vestiges of those far-away times, and this is where (at least half of) the wedding would take place. Sam is from Bhopal, the city of lakes. That’s all that I knew before the wedding, so you have to wait, just like I did, to figure out the rest. Well that’s all for this time around. Now that the scene is set, the players ready and the audience all caught up, let’s bring on the preparations – all three months of it. But wait, you will have to hold on till next week for that one. I know, I hate cliffhangers too, but I am cruel that way. Sayantan Deb ‘14 (sayantandeb@ college) promises that he will get to the actual wedding stuff in his next article. It’s just fun to rant about his own family.
A January's Tale
fter a hiatus of this length,
you must be beside yourself with excitement at the chance to hear about my escapades of the last month. It was glorious; I went home and ate at IHOP every single day. I am not kidding. Every day. I’m returning to school rested, relaxed, and filled with a new zest for life! I mean yes, I have resorted to online dating, and the only people who contact me have tattoos of chainsaws or own real stallions. The latter would be great, but all the stallion owners also have a pathological fear of cheese. I had no idea there was even such a thing. Moreover, apparently I look “exactly like a young Philip Seymour Hoffman.” Oh, and you know that awkward moment when you have class with someone you messaged on OKCupid saying, “OMG MY IDEAL BOYFRIEND IS JIM HALPERT TOO”? You know that even more awkward moment when he doesn’t respond, but you have to work on a group project together? You know that awkward moment when your mostplayed song on iTunes is “The Shoop Shoop Song”? You know that awkward moment when your friend is talking about how rat mothers eat their young to conserve nutrients and you think being a rat child would be fantastic? I’m not going to let that get me down. #Iamhoneybadgerhearmeroar. Keep reading. I know that it’s no fun reading the intellectual section of William Tell All, but it is certainly worth the effort this week. I spent January working in a Boston public school, an experience that undoubtedly shaped my views on education. Specifically, I had the opportunity to volunteer in an integrated special education program, 8
an innovative model for teaching students of varying abilities together in the same classroom. There were many intriguing youth development concepts that I encountered in those few weeks, ranging from gender issues to student engagement. For this article, I will start with a single story that I hope will serve as an effective springboard for discussion. I spent most of my time assisting with daily classroom management, a task that often required serious disciplinary measures. Fridays were the worst; pent up energy and frustration took their toll as the weeks progressed. On one particular Friday, the students returned from lunch, and the teachers and I sensed that something had happened. The cadre of boys who specialized in misbehavior were all red-faced, outof-breath, and particularly disruptive. As the afternoon wore on, one student received warning after warning for not listening or doing his work. He was one of the tough kids; he was flippant, domineering, stubborn, and entirely “too cool for school.” A notorious troublemaker, every teacher knew his name, and, that day, he was so out of line that class could hardly proceed. We all thought that he was just being a pain, and we wrote his demeanor off as an annoyance that was undeserving of our attention. Stern threats of detention and extra work had no effect. Eventually, he received the dreaded threat of a call home. His demeanor instantly changed. Everyone else was helping other students, so I was the only teacher who saw him run out of the classroom. I came after him, and after checking all the obvious places, I found him alone in a nearby classroom, bawling and pounding his
fist on a desk. My first impulse was to reprimand him. I wanted to legitimize myself as a respected teacher. After all, I thought I knew everything I needed to know. I started to shout, “How could you leave without asking? We were so worried about you!” He sat down and buried his face in his hands, and I knew that my approach was ineffective. Unsure of what to do, all I could muster was a soft, “What’s wrong?” He looked up, his face stained with tears, and said, “Nothing. I don’t want anyone to see me crying.” “Well, just let me know if you want to talk,” I replied. I couldn’t leave him, and he wouldn’t return to class. Finally, after a lengthy period of sitting in silence, he turned to me and said, “The other boys made fun of my mom. They know she’s not around very much. I don’t want to be here.” I consoled him as best I could. After a bit of discussion, he returned to class, and a full investigation was launched into the incident. Little did I know, all I had to do was listen. Harvard students tend to think that they have an answer for everything. I assumed that I could create positive change in the classroom in a few weeks; I thought that my previous experience in youth development made me an expert. I considered myself well-versed in disciplinary methods. What I learned, however, is that I have a long way to go, since merely stamping oneself with the Harvard logo is entirely futile. It becomes a shield against learning, a pompous barrier behind which one can hide from the real world. That day, I understood that my education is a supplement to what can be learned from the vibrant and multifaceted
By WILL SIMMONS
people who populate our lives. I would have never known the boy’s story, and I never could have guessed the root of his misbehavior had I not listened. Surely, it is our job to listen and observe so that we can someday be innovators. We may have endless resources at our fingertips and a world-renowned education under our belts, but success depends on a willingness to learn, not the vain urge to demonstrate our skills. It is the duty of Harvard students to use their position not to “fix” things, but to dive into complex educational inequities with the intent to work alongside already established practitioners to find solutions. In other news, the Sackler Museum’s fourth floor has re-opened with new masterpieces from Harvard’s art collection. I will be reviewing this amazing exhibition next week; in the interim, go check it out. We have many great things lined up for our readers this semester. Be excited. Over and out.
Will Simmons ’14 (wsimmons@college) is determined to learn from the vibrant community around him, even when that community is an online dating site.
02.02.12 • The Harvard Independent
Red Tails A review of George Lucas's latest on the Tuskegee Airmen. By WHITNEY LEE
G eorge L ucas twenty years to get Red Tails approved it was hardly worth the ninety minutes that it took to watch the film. Speaking as the granddaughter of a Tuskegee Airman, and having heard of the experiences of the Tuskegee Airmen firsthand, I, understandably, had high expectations for this film, hoping in earnest that it would improve upon the foundation laid by the previous film made by Robert Markowitz in 1995. I was sorely disappointed. The basic idea is a good one — it is the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the all-black fighter groups that fought the dual-frontier battles of World War II and homegrown racism. Red Tails, much in the way of its movie predecessor, is an attempt to both tell the story of the bravery and heroism of the men, and tell a seemingly obligatory love story – the addition of which detracts heavily from the main point of the film, the reasons of which will be explained in due time. Despite the fact that the film features two of Hollywood’s veteran black actors, Terrance Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr. (mainly known for comedies – both intentional and unintentional), their presence fails to truly capture the audience given the fact that at the ripe-old ages of 42 and 44 respectively, neither is able to play convincingly men who were on average 18 to 35 years old. This point is further emphasized when one remembers that Cuba Gooding Jr. also starred in the first Tuskegee Airmen movie, seventeen years ago. In this way, both Howard and Gooding Jr. have already aged out of the ability to play the leads in the film. Age aside, their performances are underwhelming at best, the former spending the bulk of the film behind a desk and the latter seeming to exist solely to deliver ill-timed pep-talks to his men. Another, perhaps the main, shame is that the real bulk of the action and The Harvard Independent • 02.02.12
Photo courtesy of Whitney Lee.
hough it took
The author’s grandparents, Ella Theophia Lee and Philip F. Lee, who proudly served our country in World War II. dialogue is taken over by other actors (Nate Parker, Tristan Wilds, Elijah Kelly), who aren’t as distinguished or distinctive, and whose characters’ nicknames (Easy, Junior, Joker) are about all their characters have. Even when grouped together, their collective importance in the film is so minimal that it is barely worth mentioning. The humor in the film comes from the Nazis, whose dialogues are archetypically villainous, complete with long, sinister scars on their faces and biting quips about the “blacks who had the audacity to fight them”. Eventually, Lucas just abandons reality altogether. A disturbing
trend of strange inconsistencies and improbabilities begins to emerge within the film. [Warning: Spoilers Ahead]  One of the pilots spots a woman on the ground while he is in the air. He finds her attractive so later he tracks her down, woos her and manages to become engaged to her… all without being able to speak her language. Hold all the way up. Let’s break this down step-by-step. First, he spots a woman from his plane… on the ground, and is attracted to her. If his plane is flying at the height at which planes
do during a dogfight, how was he able to spot her on the ground? Even if he were somehow close enough to even make out her gender, how could he see her face from the plane? This act is analogous to checking out the face on a Barbie doll from two football fields away. Second, how did he manage to track her down? They were in a foreign land, in a time so far before the Internet that it’s not funny, and, it is not as if they had a lot of leave and/or down-time while they were overseas. Third, I hate to keep introducing reality to this situation but the woman was Italian. The pilot was African-American. The year was 1945. I truly doubt that this would have been a fairy-tale ending given the social and cultural mores of that decade; but, this is the stuff that great romances are made of – at least in George Lucas’ view.  Another pilot takes on an entire bar full of angry bigots — and doesn’t even get a bloody nose. Unless being a pilot also gives one superhuman strength and an advanced ability to heal, I doubt that things would have played out this way in real life. Red Tails is simply the latest in the series of failed movies about the Tuskegee Airmen. Though both films endeavor to do a lot when it comes to raising public awareness of the contributions that the Tuskegee Airmen made to the United States, none of the films on the subject truly capture the spirit or the culture of the group. Red Tails, racked with historical inaccuracies, contrived dialogue and improbable situations, speaks to what George Lucas does best, creating films that are interesting, but lacking in accuracy on a number of levels. Altogether, this film receives a B-, mainly for subject matter and the battle scenes, which, though obviously CGI, did not fail to entertain.
Whitney Lee ’14 (whitneylee@college) knows that one day someone will get it right. firstname.lastname@example.org
beautiful, dirty, rich
Part 1: Lady Gaga’s rise to stardom, her rare artistry, and the prelude to the Monster Era. By TRAVIS HALLETT
he mainstream media will always
point out her outrageous or shocking haute couture. They will mention the shoes, the hair, and might cite “Bad Romance” as her greatest accomplishment. Some who have come to love her music are still skeptical of what they see as celebrity antics. Our parents might see a confusing performance on TV while sipping their morning coffees; and while some who don’t know her may assume that she’s the product of a typical rags-to-riches lucky break who’s now spritzing prepackaged values around at each show and interview, those who have watched each and every one of her moves will know that that’s all wrong, and that we can all learn a thing or two from the true artist who is Lady Gaga. I downloaded “Just Dance,” her first single, in November of 2008. It had dropped that spring. I was a junior in high school that fall, but I don’t remember becoming a fan until the next summer when I was at Brown’s summer school. The entire album, The Fame, had been released by then. The same summer as Michael Jackson’s death, her music soaked the air at parties, clubs, and in the cars of anyone listening to the radio. I loved Gaga’s work just as I’d always loved dance music. But this time it was mainstream, and it was big. I watched an interview she had recently done and I remember telling my roommate that she was absolutely crazy. She was a petite and shy girl, just 23 at the time, who said really strange things. Her parents
were proud of her, but I didn’t see how they could be. I thought what most people thought about her, but I was intrigued enough to keep paying attention. Had I not let my love of her music turn into an all-encompassing infatuation, I may have never learned the truth about her. The truth that she grew up wealthy, went to private school, the best in New York, with Paris Hilton, and had a loving and stable family that supported her musical talent. Her talent is real; she played piano from a young age and attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts before dropping out in her first year. She worked hard, performing in clubs and bars to make a name for herself. At first her father was horrified when he saw her singing and dancing in clubs bikini-clad, but later he used his connections to promote her passion. She was signed and then dropped. She says “Just Dance” saved her life – it was her first song to make it after she signed with Interscope. The right people took her seriously and she skyrocketed to the very top. “Just Dance” reached 6-time platinum status in the United States and Canada and charted high around the world, too. You don’t need to understand her to admire her music, but just like the record executives who listened to what she had to say, the fans that took the time were pleasantly surprised. After all, as a pop singer the bar was low. But she was the only one who wore 12-inch heels. An artist from birth, she first
started to express herself, as all artists must, through fashion. She cites her hometown of New York as the inspiration for her choice to dress in an outré way. Since the way you look is the first thing people see and use to judge you, it can define you from the outside. Lyrically, she wrote what she knew. And at the time, that included boys, sex, drugs, alcohol, and clubs – the rungs of the ladder to the top. Lucky for her, that’s what sells and that helped “Just Dance” make it big. Produced by Red One, it had fresh dance undertones that caught more attention than the usual pop productions. “Poker Face,” “Love Game,” and “Paparazzi” saw huge success as singles later on. But underneath the glitz and glam that would soon be shed, Gaga was serious. There was never any lipsyncing, and in her interviews she was introspective and too grown-up for any interviewer that was sent her wwway. Like those who still write her off because of her style, it was hard for many to see how incredible this woman would be because the words she was singing had been sung before. But what was different was her attitude. She didn’t want the fame, the money (she later went broke), or the attention. She had been put on Earth to write and perform music, and that’s what she was doing. In today’s popular music, such lack of an agenda is unheard of – just compare her to the other big names in pop and it clear. She was the only one to do it for the art, but you had
to dig a little deeper to find that out. From the surface you wouldn’t know her artistry if you simply judged her without inspecting her and taking her in. But Gaga wasn’t trying to let critics see her easily – life is too short to please everyone. Artists care about their fans, not only because they provide them with the financial support to carry on, but also because fans are emotionally invested in the art and care about it just as much as the artists do. That is a crucial symbiosis for artists. The artist, at heart, only wants fans that are worthy of them. For Gaga, those who were worthy saw through the clothing and looked a little deeper than the music. Thus, the first “Little Monsters” were born. For the ones that stuck with her, the reward would come soon. While her mass appeal brought in enough dough, her real sustenance was her fans, those who loved her for who she was. But while those who were loyal kept the art alive, millions of others forged the fame that began to eat her. Months after The Fame had made her a star, the bruised and mangled Gaga picked up the pen again, and 19 months after “Just Dance” dropped, The Fame Monster was born.
Travis Hallett ’14 (travishallett@college) is excited to have timed his Gaga series so well; look for further installations in the next weeks as the Indy counts down to Gaga’s arrival at Sanders Theatre on February 29th.
02.02.12 • The Harvard Independent
Know Your History A Super Bowl XLVI primer. By MICHAEL ALTMAN
Courtesy of WikiCommons
Courtesy of WikiCommons
Courtesy of WikiCommons
Courtesy of WikiCommons
Bowl XLVI will be played this Sunday, February 5 th at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants. If you’re experiencing déjà vu, that’s okay — the Patriots and Giants played against each other in Super Bowl XLII, with the Giants winning 17-14. New York’s performance in the 2008 game was completely unexpected. New England had finished the regular season undefeated and hoped to win the Super Bowl to become the first team to reach a record of 19-0. Instead, the Giants played a surprisingly good game that caught the Patriots offguard and led to a spectacular upset. uper
The Harvard Independent • 02.02.2012
With history on their side, the Giants should feel fairly confident in their chances to win this year’s Super Bowl. They already proved that the NFL’s super team could be taken down. On the other hand, New York no longer has the element of surprise on its side. The Patriots already learned the hard way just how easy it is to give up an undefeated season and certainly want to avoid another loss, much less an upset, this year. Since the Pats currently stand at 13-3, they don’t have an immaculate record to stand on entering the Super Bowl and therefore can’t take anything for granted. Still, their record is better than that of the Giants, which is a not-too-impressive 9-7. Luckily for New York, the Giants
are coming off of strong playoff games, including beating the then number two seed, San Francisco. The Patriots’ defense has been improving while the Giants’ offense will likely be difficult to stop, which should result in an interesting on-field dynamic. With both teams fairly evenly matched and with a grudge between them, Sunday’s game should be interesting — which is more than can be said of most Super Bowl games. Let’s face it; Super Bowl games are average at best, and boring at worst. Obviously, no two teams can compete against each other and live up to the hype that is a one-game championship. But it would be nice to not have to rely on over-priced
and over-produced commercials for entertainment. Because there is no clear underdog to this game, it’s tough to determine who is likely to win. According to the latest Madden video game, the Giants are predicted to win 27-24. Given the close score, the game will likely be close and determined toward the end. Though Madden has been mostly accurate in its predictions, we may be surprised this Sunday when one team blows the other away, or when both duke it out until the bitter end in overtime.
Michael Altman ’14 (maltman@college) has his game-day nachos already made. email@example.com
captured & shot From the INDY ARCHIVES
Published on Feb 2, 2012
On a holiday that celebrates a small mammal afraid of its own shadow, the Indy brings you the Groundhog Day Issue! Whether spring is on its...