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I ns i de : Bunni e s , Bui l di ng , a ndBa s k e t b a l l
03.27.14 VOL. XLV, NO. 20
The Indy is excited for the second half of the semester.
Cover Design by ANNA PAPP
Inside: Bunnies, Building, and Basketball
CONTENTS FORUM 3 Backwards Thinking 4 Take a Seat 5 Spring Fling NEWS 6 Making a House a Home ARTS 7 MFAwesome 8 Music Man 9 The Forgotten Animation SPORTS 10 Mayhem in March 11 Mayhem in March, continued
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 President Albert Murzakhanov (president@harvardindependent. com). Letters to the Editor and comments regarding the content of the publication should be addressed to Editor-in-Chief Sean Frazzette (firstname.lastname@example.org). For email subscriptions please email president@ harvardindependent.com. 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 ÂŠ 2014 by The Harvard Independent. All rights reserved.
President Albert Murzakhanov '16 Editor-in-Chief Sean Frazzette '16 Director of Production Anna Papp '16 News Editor Forum Editor Arts Editor Sports Editor Associate Forum Editor Associate Arts Editor Associate Design Editor
Milly Wang '16 Caroline Gentile '17 Sarah Rosenthal '15 Shaquilla Harrigan '16 Aditya Agrawal '17 Joanna Schacter Travis Hallett '14
Cartoonist John McCallum '16 Illustrator Eloise Lynton '17 Business Managers Manik Bhatia '16 Columnists Joan Li '17 Christina Bianco '17 Senior Staff Writers Christine Wolfe '14 Angela Song '14 Sayantan Deb '14 Michael Altman '14 Meghan Brooks '14 Whitney Lee '14 Staff Writers Manik Bhatia '16 Xanni Brown '14 Terilyn Chen '16 Lauren Covalucci '14 Clare Duncan '14 Gary Gerbrandt '14 Travis Hallett '14 Yuqi Hou '15 Cindy Hsu '14 Chloe Li '16 Dominique Luongo '17 Orlea Miller '16 Albert Murzhakanov '16 Carlos Schmidt '15 Frank Tamberino '16 Michael Feehly '14 Jackie Leong '16 Andrew Lin '17 Madi Taylor '16 Shreya Vardhan '17 Peyton Fine '17 Michael Luo '16
The Most Magical Place on Earth? Magically offensive, that is. By WHITNEY GAO
’m nearly two decades old (yikes), and I went to Disney World for spring break this year. No shame, though. I love a good throwback, and this was going to be an entire week of reliving my childhood. I walked into the parks and felt all the feels, letting the waves of nostalgia wash over me in glorious elation. It was amazing, it was beautiful, and Florida was warm. It was a happy and much welcomed break from the never-ending winter we are currently still experiencing in the 617. However, as the novelty of each day wore off, I began to unhappily notice streaks of strangely offensive storylines and experiences that I don’t remember coloring my childhood experiences there. Whether it’s because I’ve opened my eyes and my mind enough to really see at this point in my life or whether it’s because the world has finally changed enough to make this kind of situation glaringly noticeable, I found these exceptionally politically incorrect instances an inerasable blemish on my week. We went to Epcot on the first day, and as I scanned the map, I found that I had completely forgotten everything about that park except for the giant golf ball and Test Track (which has been redesigned and updated and is debatably much less fun). So, I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that they had the World Showcase, which is basically a circle of “countries” that have characteristic food and souvenirs and scenery. I’m pretty nerdy about those kinds of things, so I was really excited to wander slowly through the lands of Morocco, Japan, Canada, etc. However, what we found was infinitely less exciting and decidedly more creepy than we expected. Canada’s architecture and décor consisted of only Native American motifs — Haida and Tlingit crest poles (also known more commonly as “totem poles”) and form-line design style decorations on the outside of the buildings — which shocked me so much that I snapped a picture and sent it to my USWorld TF since we had literally just studied them the week before break. France apparently only cared about art and expensive goods (think Givenchy), and everything stereotypical you can think of regarding Chinese culture was in that section (paifang gates, Buddha statues, lucky cat figurines, trite street and store names like “Good Fortune”). There was even an area dubbed “outpost” that when we first walked through we were so confused as to what country it was supposed to represent. It turned out that this land of African building-types and decorations, with souvenir shops filled with Brazilian soccer jerseys and random African trinkets like drums and masks, had not even been designated as a specific country, merely referred to on the map as “outpost.” Whatever that means. This wildly and narrow-mindedly stereotypical display of rapid cultural misappropriation was
The Harvard Independent • 03.27.14
stunning to say the least. We laughed nervously and joked about it, somewhat unsettled by our surroundings. However, this would have been more or less forgivable, since it is understandable that they are trying to sell a scene, to sell a fantasy more or less. It’s all about the money. But instead of leaving with just a visual scar on our memories for the day, our trip to the Japanese hibachi restaurant inside Epcot left us with more reason to be unhappy with Disney’s cultural insensitivity. In what I assume to be an effort towards authenticity, Disney apparently hires only natives of the country to work in each country’s establishments. Their nametags all have their hometown on them, and without fail, every single nametag I read had the name of a city in Japan on it. These restaurant employees looked Japanese, spoke with heavy Japanese accents, and wore what most might assume to be typical Japanese outfits. The alternative theory is that these employees are hired based on their race and taught to accentuate their cultural heritage to an offensively false degree. To ask someone to abuse their background like that is inexcusable, but to import “natives” to staff your carnival-esque freak shows is just as terrible. Normally, I would just assume that most educated adults would recognize that this is a crazy over-generalization of culture — though I know that that is a very large and optimistic stretch — but the problem is that the target audience of Disney is not the adult population. The children are who I’m concerned about, the future of our world, the leaders and influencers of tomorrow. If this is what they see, this becomes what they know. If this is what they know, this is what they will assume for all future interactions. I don’t know about you, but it is an alarming thought for me that my future president might expect me to eat fried rice for every meal and talk in broken English to my neighbors. And it’s not just a race issue. Disney has historically been criticized heavily, mostly in recent times, for its demeaning portrayal of women. According to Disney, my eyes should be bigger than my arms and my waist should be smaller than a dime. According to Disney, I should wait endlessly and alter myself ceaselessly for my prince charming. According to Disney, only princesses can find happiness, and true happiness can only be achieved with a man by your side. Disney has obviously attempted to try and fix these trends, however flimsily, with the creation of such heroines like Tiana (whose journey was based on her own independent hard work instead of rich entitlement and whose skin color sparked an obvious dialogue on race relations) and Merida (whose movie’s lack of love interest and focus on family dynamic was touching and admittedly made me cry and whose more accurate physical depiction, though later redacted and set Disney five steps back,
garnered the corporation some praise). However, whatever strides they have taken to improve their digital presentations, their physical manifestations, at least at their Florida location, remain steadfastly behind the times. The Pirates of the Caribbean ride in the Magic Kingdom, for example, still contains a section where women are being sold at a “wench auction” to the highest bidder. For a little girl to see that and think that her body can be sold to the prettiest penny is devastating. For a little boy to see that and think that he has the power to purchase flesh and blood is also extremely disturbing. So why does Disney get away with this? How does Disney get away with this? My guess is that since Disney has so ingrained itself into our culture and into our children’s culture that it is forgivable for many a sin, despite its lack of repentance. To capitalize on stereotypical racial errors and patriarchic gender relations is apparently economically sound (the company is valued at over $100 billion dollars and currently ranks as Forbes’s #17 most valuable brand), but culturally and socially destructive. I am surprised that Disney hasn’t received more backlash regarding its presentation to its park visitors. It pains me to consider whether the demographics of park-goers is a factor in this relatively peaceful acceptance of these social misconducts, but it is a possibility. But I am more upset with the idea that if I take my children here on a visit, will they absorb these images and come out the other side poisoned with these unrepresentative and homogeneous ideas of culture and gender norms? As I was leaving Orlando to return to the frigid lands of New England, I stood in line at the airport Starbucks to get a last-minute coffee before my early morning flight. A flock of middle-school-aged girls in front of me stood in the waiting area, chatting and laughing as they waited for their drinks, obviously part of a school trip either to or from somewhere. I didn’t think anything of it, since Florida is a pretty popular destination for such excursions. However, as soon as the words “grande apple juice” sliced through the air in a vaguely Mexican accent, they all fell silent for a split moment before launching into quiet snickers and mild chuckles. Then one girl piped up, mimicking the exact accent and intonation of the Starbucks barista’s voice as she repeated to the rest of her entourage: “Grande apple juice!” But this is no longer Disney World. This is no longer a fantasyland created for your whims and your fancies and your imagination and your dreams. This is the real world. And in the real world, racial insensitivity is unacceptable. Whitney Gao ’16 (whitneygao@college) thinks the renovations and updates shouldn’t stop with Cinderella’s Castle.
The Act of Sitting Everyone’s favorite activity. By RITCHEY HOWE
any people miscomprehend the meaning of “meditation.” There is the assumption that meditation enables humans to “find themselves” or discover the meaning of life. This assumption stems from meditation’s association with Hinduism, Buddhism, gurus, mantras, and new levels of consciousness. However, I hope not to disappoint anyone when I say that this could not be farther from what meditation entails. Dr. Paul Fleischman instead calls meditation “sitting.” He rightfully points out that “sitting has no connotations.” Meditation should enable sitters to simply focus on their breath for a period of time. There are too few moments in life when we can just sit and breathe. The majority of my day is spent focused outwardly. I pay attention in class to a speaker, I read words printed in a book, I run how my coach tells me to, I relax with friends, I scroll through the Internet. Our whole day consists of distracting ourselves from what’s within. And how easy it is to do so! The stimuli are everywhere: sights, words, sounds, tastes. It is frighteningly simple to go through life without checking in with ourselves. Our lives can become so busy that not only do we lose touch with our inner state, but we also lose consciousness of many of the things going on around us. Fleischman says, “I sit to open my pores-skin and mind both-to the life that surrounds me inside and outside.” Meditation, or rather just sitting, makes us more conscious of both our surroundings and ourselves. With increased awareness of what’s around us, we can feel the vibration of the buses on the roads, hear birds in the Yard that we forgot existed, see colors on our classmates’ coats, smell the exhaust from a nearby construction site. While it is easy to become inundated with distractions, tasks, worries, and qualms, heightened awareness to our surroundings can assuage our stressful, busy lives. It is through sitting that we can focus on increasing our awareness. When I first meditated, I was told to focus on my breath. The easiest way to do this is to focus on the rising and falling of your stomach as you inhale
and exhale, or to focus on the air rushing in and out of your nostrils. This may seem boring, or sleep inducing, and it certainly can be. Thoughts will certainly come into your mind as you sit. These daydreams are certainly more entertaining than focusing on air entering and exiting your nostrils, but mind wandering is not a sign of failure. By recognizing that your mind has wandered, you will have successfully increased your awareness. Sitting requires self-control, too. You sit with your back straight for a given amount of time and strive to focus. Your feet may fall asleep, your back will ache, boredom will ensue…however, the pain will pass. Just sitting has taught me that all things in life, both positive and negative, will come and go in waves. Emotions are comparable to sounds and smells; they will come and go. Hardships will sting and happiness will create joy. But these emotions are not permanent. Experiencing levels of euphoria and pain can be exhausting. Sitting teaches us to strive for neutrality; to experience positive and negative emotions without strongly reacting to them. When I focus on my breath and on my sitting, no outside emotions or factors can touch me. Grades, money, assignments, and friendship drama cannot affect me for those few minutes when all that matters is my posture and my respiration. When I open my eyes after sitting, I am recharged with the idea that my worries are temporary, that achievements do not need to be comparative, and that often the judgment of others is irrelevant. Therefore, while sitting does not necessarily bring world peace or solve the world’s hunger problem, I can return to my day with new excitement and sense of control. I cannot regulate what goes on outside of me, but I can control how I react. Without a set time to sit, it is difficult to motivate myself to do so. However, I firmly believe that even a few minutes each day of deliberate increased awareness can decrease stress and reinvigorate oneself. I challenge myself, and others, to take the time to sit for a few minutes daily (preferably at a point when we aren’t too tired). Turn off your
phone, shut down the laptop, and just focus on the breath. I am curious to see how sitting could affect our Harvard community. My hope is that levels of stress and competitiveness will decrease. But as sitting as taught me, I can only really focus on myself. Ritchey Howe ’17 (ritcheyhowe@college) prefers to sit crisscross apple sauce.
03.27.14 • The Harvard Independent
Rite of Spring Kill the groundhog. By CHRISTINE WOLFE
pring in Boston: when going outside is worse than it was in December. Those vernal winds, meant to bless the earth with life, greenery, and twitterpation, instead rip off the top two layers of skin of those foolish enough to bear their faces to the open air. Mating season is in the interest of warmth rather than romance, and the sky’s almost never been grayer. Perhaps we are in need of some ritual sacrifice to usher in true spring — maybe some Canadian kid who doesn’t notice the difference between life and utter, desolate waste. There are a few things left to take advantage of before the beautiful weather makes us feel too guilty about staying inside: Game of Thrones premiers in 10 days (special Harvard premiere tonight in the Science Center!), the fourth season of Archer was recently added to Netflix, and we all probably have homework that wasn’t worked on over spring break. A trip to a museum is a nice alternate to sauntering through the streets of Boston (check out the feature on the MFA in this issue — the uncanny baby heads supposedly have giant knit caps now). The MFA and Isabella Stewart Gardner are always free to Harvard students, and the ICA and Children’s Museum take you to a highly underappreciated neighborhood of Boston (Seaport).
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And we can remember fondly those beautiful days that still lie ahead, when we can tan and/or watch people tan in sunny courtyards, read books in a cascade of dogwood petals, and picnic in the parts of Boston Common not covered in duck excrement. Soon enough, wispy girls can wear lace, dorks can trade their fleeces for 2013 summer internship t-shirts, and embarrassing bros can don Chubbies. We’ll sit in the colorful Yard chairs as the warm spring breeze blows us swiftly and gently to the end of the semester. Christine Wolfe ‘13 (crwolfe@college) is ready for an exciting Senior Spring.
Spring Build Building, painting, and working down in North Carolina.
By SEAN FRAZZETTE
ver Spring Break, thirty-one Harvard students packed into PBHA vans and drove down to either Virginia or North Carolina as a part of the school’s Habitat for Humanity Spring Break program. Twenty-one of the students, myself included, went down to Goldsboro, North Carolina, where we stayed in the local Parks and Recs department (alas, Leslie Knope was not present) by night and worked at a local sight by day. Once there, we had five days to get as much work done as possible. Around eighty students from a number of colleges and one high school were living together and working at the sight, so being undermanned was never a problem. On the first day, five students went to a construction office that had been closed down and loaded various pieces of furniture into a truck, while the rest of the crew was located at a warehouse not too far away, sorting the furniture, organizing the already present materials, and doing any job that
was assigned. For the next four days, however, we all worked together at a sight that had three ‘houses.’ One wasn’t built yet accept for basic parts of the base, another was completely finished on the outside but had work to be done inside, and the last was build but needed siding finished. A large group of students from Kansas State University — most if not all of whom were construction majors — along with a select few from Harvard worked on the house not quite built yet. With hammer and nail in hand, they completed most of the outside of the house, even putting the roof up before the end of the week. The rest of the group was assigned a variety of tasks that varied day by day. In general, people were divided into either siding teams or cutting teams. While the names are essentially self-explanatory, the latter would cut pieces of siding so that the former could nail the strips into the wall without allowing any part of the inner framework to be showing. The was the majority of the work for the final four days of the trip, with teams uniting and working together to put great work into this house. A number of students also went into the finished house and painted the walls and ceilings of the house, so that the finishing touches could be put together soon after we left the build. Also, as the days went on, and room for siding was limited, students began clearing bushes in the back yard, building doors for the sheds in the back, and starting the insulation inside the house. All in all, the five days of work were both incredibly productive and a great bonding experience. It provided many of the us the opportunity not only to meet a variety of Harvard students that none of us had met before, but also to be introduced from other students from around the country. After work, we would all return to the Parks and Rec Center, where we would cook meals, play games, and just sit and talk to people from all different backgrounds. While the week may be over, the memories gained, friendships formed, and work achieved will never been forgotten. Sean Frazzette ’16 (sfrazzette@college) hopes to continue to work with Habitat in the future.
03.27.14 • The Harvard Independent
Museum Impressions Reflections on democratic, interactive, and immersive art at the MFA. BY MICHAEL LUO
t was a sunny and breezy afternoon. I took the Green Line to Copley and came out against a gust of wind. Trying to get my bearings, I strolled past the Boston Public Library, not realizing that was the opposite direction of the one I wanted. Once back in the station, I inserted a twenty-dollar bill to boost my Charlie Card, obtaining to my great pleasure, ten dollars worth of change in gold coins. Carrying this abundance of pocket change and a university ID worthy of free admission, I entered the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Situated at 465 Huntington Avenue off the Museum of Fine Arts stop on the Green Line, the MFA houses close to half-a-million works of art spanning all six inhabited continents. The building is architecturally a sight to behold, and its collection is multifaceted, including paintings, sculptures, dinnerware, clothing, and artifacts encompassing almost any historical era you could imagine. World religions have the privilege of being shown through decorated hallways and ornate chambers, such as the three Abrahamic monotheistic faiths or those originating from the Indian subcontinent. Majestic busts of Greco-Roman generals adorn stairwells, while Imperial Chinese vases outline the entryways to different exhibits. Each of the three levels mirror each other in layout, offering a sense that if one stayed in the Art of the Americas Wing, heading up and down the stairs would offer a walkthrough of America’s history from its founding to the twenty-first century. With such a diverse collection covering the minutiae of daily life during the Ancient World to the minimalism of the postmodern, the museum and its exquisite design is a matryoshka doll of art within art. On the day I arrived, the MFA featured a main exhibition on Impressionism, as well as others on contemporary Latin American art, modern Japanese design, 20th century American photography, Renaissance prints, Baroque musical instruments, Abstract Expressionist painting, and the color pink in fashion. Having witnessed Impressionist masterpieces at the Musée d’Orsay on the banks of the Seine in Paris, I was intrigued to see which artists and works the MFA chose to unveil. Interestingly enough, the exhibition, Boston Loves
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Impressionism, was created by the public who voted for the top thirty selections out of the MFA’s Impressionist collection to be put on display. The winner was Vincent van Gogh’s Houses at Auvers (1890) followed by Claude Monet’s Water Lilies (1907) and Edgar Degas’ Little Fourteen-Year Old Dancer (original model 1878-81, cast after 1921), as the only sculpture to earn a spot. Visitors could also vote and share their favorites on the social media network Pinterest. In the back of mind, I guessed this type of pubic involvement in a museum’s exhibitions would not be something Parisian curators would venture to pursue. In the spirit of Boston and its inclusion of “the people” starting in the glory days of the American Revolution, I found this democratic showing of Impressionist works to be unique and refreshing. It’s not often that during a trip to a renowned museum, the visitor feels he or she has impacted what was put on display. Certainly the museum curators hold the experience, knowledge, and direction of the museum’s collections, but a passion for art can be found in admirers and experts alike. The MFA took a bold step in setting aside three months to parade a people’s choice awards of Impressionist paintings, but I believe they did it in a most welcoming way for the viewers to appreciate. Wandering through the rest of the museum, I found myself fascinated by the presentation on classical instruments. As someone who once fiddled with the violin but gave up due to an absolute lack of talent, it was a much better experience watching one of the curators give a live demonstration of how a virtuoso might have performed on an English double bass or an Indian sitar. This interactive exposition was a breakaway from the tradition of listening to a recorded voice narrating a piece via headphones or one of those black rectangular bricks that look like a prototype cellphone from the early nineties. I always thought that by this day and age, anyone could whip out a smartphone and Google the history and significance of anything anywhere, so seeing a silver-bearded, bespectacled curator who could’ve passed for a retired mall Santa explaining the physics behind the harpsichord while performing a rendition of Bach was worthwhile for the free music history lesson.
Again, the MFA did the people right by providing this connection between its staff and its audience. It’s always nice to feel included, and in a museum setting, any sort of transition from just browsing priceless pieces of art to being part of a holistic showcase is one that appeals to both the heart and mind. Walking from musical instruments to Islamic calligraphy to the pink suit worn in The Great Gatsby (2013) may be an odd changeover, but that is the exact, distinct attitude of the MFA. A taste of everything under one roof could be overwhelming for some or a delight for others. In any case, I had the freedom to go about my own way like a Fleetwood Mac song that could’ve been the soundtrack to the film pieces evoking 1970s protest individualism in the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art. When I enrolled in a private college in Cambridge, people always advised to go out and explore Boston. I was on the verge of doing that until I found myself immersed for hours in the MFA’s collection of art in mediums appealing to sight, sound, and even touch in the case of Daniel Chester French’s famed bronze miniature Abraham Lincoln (1920). As for smell, most museumgoers have experienced that aroma of something so old it has to be valuable. And if that odor is unappealing, it can be chased away with tastes from the three cafes serving casual sandwiches to candlelight. Of course, the forty-minute T ride might be a turn off, but in case you were as lonely and bored as I was during spring break on campus, then feel free to procrastinate for any other assignments by taking a trip to the MFA. You won’t regret it, and I sure won’t, because that means my writing persuaded you to do something. It’s really a win-win. Michael Luo ’16 (michaelluo@college) advises against museum cafeteria food.
A Harvard Man Makes Some Music D.A. Wallach and life in the industry. By WILL HARRINGTON
.A. Wallach ‘07 wasted no time in making a name for himself. Even before he had graduated and left his Eliot dorm room behind for L.A., he was in contract negotiations with Star Trak, a record label imprint of Interscope run by none other than Pharrell Williams. My first encounter with his work was in October when a music video, “Glowing,” was released anonymously. It’s eerie visuals (directed by Odd Future frontman Tyler, the Creator) accompanied a heartfelt song, more like the Beatles than almost anything being produced today. Only later did D.A. come out as the music maker. In trying to find out as much as I could about where such an incredible song came from I learned about his first band, Chester French, and his status as a young alumni. I reached him by phone recently to discuss his time at Harvard, his musical career, and his other efforts. When speaking to him he came across as a man whose mind is always on —unsurprising for somebody of his musical talent and background. While at Harvard he studied African and African American Studies and earned a certificate in Gikuyu (he claims it was Harvard’s first). He chose the department as much for its interdisciplinary freedom to study “history and art history and touch a lot of different areas of knowledge,” and due to his background as a Milwaukee native. Milwaukee is, “depending on the measure you use, [the] most or the second most segregated city, racially, in America.” By the time he graduated high school, he knew that he wanted to study African American Studies because he was “fascinated” with race and the personal experience of it. At the same time as he was writing his Expos papers in Mower, he joined the band that would eventually transform into the duo Chester French. As he tells, it he was the “last person chosen for the band” of five, which as his undergraduate time proceeded was “whittled down to just me and Max [Drummey ‘07]”. Together they spent countless hours in the basement of Pforzheimer honing music production skills in the Quad Sound Studio (recently re-finished and re-opened, an effort to which Wallach contributed). Chester French’s first album was produced “almost entirely” in that space.
In senior year they sent copies of their work to various labels and producers, attracting the attention of Kanye West and Pharrell Williams. While both offered them contract deals, by July they had signed with Pharrell and Star Trak after being made an offer they couldn’t refuse: total artistic freedom. Chester French released their first album, Love the Future, with Star Trak in 2009. A second album (this time on Karmaloop) Music 4 Tngrs followed before Wallach and Drummer split Chester French. The decision to end Chester French was because they “each wanted to work on other kinds of music” feeling that after four albums worth of content, Chester French had “creatively run its work”. Since the end of Chester French (they’re still “super good friends” and “hang out all time time”), D.A. has pursued a solo career. He’s released two singles of his own (“Glowing” and “Farm”) and has continued to collaborate with a variety of other artists. D.A. spoke on how in Los Angeles there was no shortage of other people making a life in the arts, and when I asked him if there was anybody in particular he’d like to work with he replied surely: “You know, I don’t really think so.” He put it down to his prior experience with collaboration. For him there is no need to seek opportunities to collaborate, and the experience of discovering a new artist is already rewarding enough. D.A. Wallach lives by this creed of unfettered artistic freedom and experimentation. His first record was agreed on that condition, something he admits he was lucky to get, and it continues to be a core principle. With any other musician “other kinds of music” would seem like “irreconcilable differences” covering something deeper. But even listening to just a few songs from his work with Chester French, either of his recent solo songs, and his scattered collaborations with other artists provide absolute support for the truth of this statement. D.A.’s musical versatility is glaringly obvious, and he refuses to be tied to a single genre. Each song seemingly has a totally unique set of influence when compared to the next. If you follow his Spotify playlist, you’ll see it too. This week (it updates) the list contains, just
to name a few, artists as diverse as Janelle Monáe, Neil Young, JAY Z, Fleetwood Mac, and Arif Lohar. And his work at Spotify appears to be focused on giving musicians the experience he’s had. He currently works as artist-in-residence there where he liaises between the company and artists looking to distribute and share their music. Next week, a second piece will continue covering D.A. Wallach and his business work at Spotify.
Will Harrington ’16 (harrington@college) thinks you should also check out his Spotify playlist “D.A.’s Wild Ride” for some sweet jams.
03.27.14 • The Harvard Independent
THE MAGICAL GIRL’S GUIDE TO ANIME AND MANGA / BY JOAN LI
Slice-of-Life without a Slice of the Pie I
f things were to go originally as planned, I would introduce Yuki Urushibara’s Mushishi as a standout series in its genre. But then I saw Hayao Miyazaki’s latest and most likely last contribution to the anime industry, The Wind Rises, which spirited a piece of me away even after I walked out of the theater. Focusing on work was a struggle for the rest of that evening, as I drifted off into film’s beautiful animated sequences, hand painted sceneries, and poetic lines. Naturally, I was frustrated to see it cast aside as a competitor in the Oscars for Best Animated Feature. The Wind Rises will most likely never gain as much attention as Disney’s Frozen, not only because it’s a foreign film against the product of a domestic, media conglomerate, but also because it belongs to a non-mainstream genre that doesn’t conform to expectations of animation. It’s not just The Wind Rises; Mushishi and practically the entire genre of slice-of-life suffers from lack of appreciation from the general audience. So this time, instead of focusing on only one series, I’m going to introduce slice-of-life as a whole, since I don’t think I could possibly pick among some of my favorite, yet underrated, films and series. At first glance, Mushishi and The Wind Rises seem to have very different premises. Originally created as a manga series before being adapted to a show, Mushishi follows one man’s episodic travels in a low fantasy setting based after Edo Japan as a sort of shamanic practitioner taking various jobs involving spirit-like creatures called mushi. On the other hand, Studio Ghibli’s The Wind Rises is a fictionalized biography of Jiro Horikoshi, an aircraft designer whose projects were used by Japan during World War II. The latter is more realistic than the former, but both are slow in plot — that is, there is very little explicit conflict, and the storyline lacks a strict dramatic structure. Ginko, the main character of Mushishi, never undergoes any character development, and Jiro maintains his optimism throughout his life. This is actually characteristic of the slice-of-life genre: what would typically be criticized as weak plot is compensated by compelling ambience. This is precisely what Mushishi and The Wind Rises do so well. There is something indescribable about the way the two works create poetry out of animation. The fictional folklore regarding the mushi never fails to enchant. The concept of these creatures adds a whole new layer to the show. This is taken to its full potential, because each species of mushi is unique and given careful attention to detail in animation. Likewise, The Wind Rises has gorgeous handpainted scenery, a rare sight these days in any animation industry given the convenience of computer graphics programs. And although the story is historically grounded, Miyazaki masterfully transitions the audience between Jiro’s reality and his dreamscape of ambitions, creating a surreal atmosphere that makes the audience as absentminded in a daydream as the protagonist. Ironically enough, this is the magic of slice-of-life: it can take the mundane and make it otherworldly, without the help of action scenes or a fast paced adventure. It’s almost heartbreaking for me when the charm of these shows never quite gains the appreciation it deserves even the animation audience. One of my friends who went to watch The Wind Rises with me came out unimpressed,
The Harvard Independent • 03.27.14
saying that it bland in comparison to Miyazaki’s best-known film, Spirited Away. Indeed, Spirited Away did seem to garner more critical acclaim when it was released more than a decade ago. It is the only anime film to have ever received an Oscar. Considering the most popular and recognized animated shows in American culture, it seems that the odds here are consistently in the favor of works such as Spirited Away. The story follows a girl who is whisked away into an Alice in Wonderland-like world and must find her way back. In a sense, such a plot is quite similar to other Oscar winners for Best Animated Feature, such as Toy Story 3, The Incredibles, or Frozen. All these animated works are explicitly adventure-themed, brimming with explicit, imaginative fantasy in an overarching plotline with clear goals. The Incredibles actually taps into a long-time, American animation trend of action packed, superhero series. So it’s rather understandable that this friend of mine, who grew up watching Disney and superhero shows, would be puzzled by something like The Wind Rises. The day-to-day life of Jiro and the wanderings of Ginko certainly do not include living toys, superhero families, or talking snowmen — but why does that have to make it any less entertaining? The dominance of Disney movies and other action-adventures in this country’s animation industry has created a wall of expectation that excludes the slice-of-life genre. When people watch an animated show or feature film, they go in with the idea that they will be immediately taken away by a fairytale romance, an exciting journey, a kick-butt adventure with a sidekick. That, or they expect something along the lines of Spongebob Squarepants to go along with a brain-numbing, post-exam ramen binge. Either way, none of these expectations include the realism and relaxing pace of The Wind Rises or Mushishi. The subtleties of their music scores, lyrical scripts, and careful animation ultimately lose to flashy, dramatic sequences. Even as I reach the end of my lamentation, my friend is still sending me links to “Do you Want to Build a Snowman?” parodies (why yes, I have heard the screamo version) while The Wind Rises remains in the shadows of its more mainstream cousins along with Mushishi and its direct siblings in the sliceof-life genre. To be fair, I am actually a huge Disney fan and Spirited Away is actually yet another one of my favorite movies that I watch year to year. But the qualities of these animated works are, for me, incomparable to the impact of slice-of-life masterpieces, which mesmerize us with plain life. That in itself is both impressive and inspirational — it is these works that open us to the splendor of the lives we lead. The lax, episodic characteristic of Mushishi displays that there is something to be gained each day, and the dream sequences in The Wind Rises show that the existence of magic is merely a state of mind. We neither need to have ice powers nor Kryptonian strength to live exciting lives. Reality itself is something magnificent, and that revelation is slice-oflife’s gift for whoever is willing to broaden their horizons and experience it. Joan Li ’17 (joanli@college) doesn’t believe in pumpkin pie or any other type of pie without a crust on both the bottom and the top.
The Comeback Kids Harvard men’s basketball reappear in March Madness. By SHAQUILLA HARRIGAN & SEAN FRAZZETTE
ne year ago, the Harvard men’s basketball team mcourtside in Spokane along with the cheer team and band, watched the game as called by Charles Barkley from their various vacation spots, or even enjoyed the game at John Harvard’s Brewery thanks to an event cosponsored by the Harvard Department of Athletics and College Events Board, Crimson fans rejoiced in their team’s history making. During the first half, Harvard was trailing with a score of 33 to 45. Harvard made its first appearance on the scoreboard after sophomore standout Siyani Chambers made both of his free throws after being fouled by a Cincinnati player. With 11:47 remaining, the Crimson started gaining momentum after a 3-point shot by Curry. The crimson closed out the last forty-five seconds of the first half with a jump shot by junior Wesley Saunders, a guard/forward. The second half started off slow for the Crimson,
as it took about four minutes and several missed shots before Saunders made both a lay-up and free throw. With fifteen minutes remaining, the score board was looking incredibly grim for the Crimson. Michigan State broke the fifty point mark and was besting the men in red 39-53. Not letting their NCAA hoop dreams slip from their fingers, the Crimson tightened up their game and made a concerted effort to make Michigan State work for victory. During what must have been one of the most stressful moments in Harvard’s athletic history, the Crimson made a huge comeback with about 12 minutes remaining. Junior forward Steve Moundou-Missi played a huge role in this beautiful comeback. Basically a six-foot-seven Cameroonian prince, Moundou-Missi made three free throws and two dunks to bring the team within close range of Michigan State. Saunders’ clutch dunk tied the game up 55-55 with nine minutes remaining.
The pressure was on; Michigan State and Harvard both did everything within their power to edge the other team out. Almost immediately after Saunder’s shot, Michigan State answered back with a fiery 3-pointer from Gary Harris. Bringing the game to 57-58, Chambers made both of the free throws. Several times throughout the game, the members of the basketball team not on the court showed support and repped their “3’s” any time captains Rivard and Curry made impressive three-point shots. Rivard and Curry made a total of five three-pointers. Chambers, not to be outdone, made one three as well, and Saunders put up huge numbers, racking up 22 points over the course of the game; he led the team in most number of points scored. Harvard fans in the crowd also showed enthusiasm over the major plays made by the Crimson-clad players.
03.27.14 • The Harvard Independent
At around 7 minutes remaining, Rivard made a beautiful three point shot, giving the Crimson a slight lead of 62-60. With a few missed shots and several missed rebounds, the Michigan State squad was able to recover the lead. In addition, the Crimson was lacking fast-break plays which also contributed to both their loss of possession and inability to score more. The Crimson seemed to look slightly stressed in the last five or so minutes of the game. Players attempted risky power plays in an attempt to close in on Michigan State. From the sidelines, one could see a serious-looking Tommy Amaker observing his team. The end of the Crimson’s March Madness journey was in sight after two huge turnovers from Chambers and a three-point shot from Michigan’s Denzel Valentine. At this point, the score was 6371 with 3:54 remaining. Michigan State started leaning to long plays in an attempt to run down the clock. Michigan State was also able to successfully
The Harvard Independent • 03.27.14
complete six free throws within forty seconds. Each of those shots hammered the nail into the Crimson’s March Madness coffin. In an incredibly tense last two minutes of the game, every score attempt made by Rivard, Chambers, Moundou-Missi, and Saunders was answered almost immediately by Michigan State players. Despite an incredibly action-packed second half, the Crimson fell to Michigan State 73-80. Even though Harvard lost, Tom Izzo, Michigan State’s coach, recognized that the Crimson was a force to be reckoned with in post-game interviews. Even though the men’s basketball team is not advancing further in March Madness, the team has outdone themselves once again. Not only have they taken Harvard’s basketball program farther than its ever been, but they have done so with grace and sheer athletic prowess. One of the most touching moments during the game towards the end when the clock was winding down and the
Crimson was behind came when one of Chambers’ teammates lightly lifted his chin up--this simple gesture speaks volumes to the brotherhood that is the Harvard men’s basketball team. Guided by head coach Tommy Amaker, each member of the team has made sacrifices and has put in an immense amount of work to reach the heights of collegiate sports. Despite the loss, no one on Harvard’s campus thought negatively of the basketball team. There were several messages congratulating the team on their success and excitement about welcoming home the team after a tough battle on the court. There are only about 358 days until the Harvard men’s basketball team is welcomed back into the Madness. Hopefully next time, we can walk away with a title. Shaquilla Harrigan ‘16 and Sean Frazzette ‘16 (sports@ harvardindependent.com) think Space Jam 2 should feature the Harvard Men’s Basketball Team.
c a pt ur e d& s ho t
As we march on into April, we look back at a terrific season's end for the basketball team, we reflect on Spring Break trips, and we focus o...
Published on Mar 27, 2014
As we march on into April, we look back at a terrific season's end for the basketball team, we reflect on Spring Break trips, and we focus o...