09.24.09 vol. xli, no. 4 The Indy examines a world of sports.
independent THE HARVARD
President Diana Suen ‘11 Cover art by PATRICIA FLORESCU
News 3 News in Brief
Forum 4 Night People 5 Summer in Spain
Sports 6-7 The Year in Tennis 8 A Day on the Rugby Team 9 Rant of the Week
Arts 10 Conversation Starters Waiting on Bones 11 Museum Events Guide For exclusive online content, visit www.harvardindependent.com 2
Editor-in-Chief Sam Jack ‘11
Production Manager Faith Zhang ‘11 Publisher Brian Shen ‘11
News Editor Forum Editor Arts Editor Sports Editor Design Editor Graphics Editor Associate Forum Editor Associate Graphics Editor
Susan Zhu ‘11 Riva Riley ‘12 Pelin Kivrak ‘11 Hao Meng ‘11 Patricia Florescu ‘11 Candice Smith ‘11 Lynn Yi ‘12 Sonia Coman ‘11
Staff Writers Peter Bacon ‘11 John Beatty '11 Rachael Becker '11 Ezgi Bereketli ‘12 Andrew Coffman ‘12 Truc Doan ‘10 Levi Dudte '11 Ray Duer ‘11 Nick Nehamas ‘11 Jim Shirey ‘11 Steven Rizoli '11 Graphics, Photography, and Design Staff Eva Liou ‘11 Caitlin Marquis ‘10 Lidiya Petrova ‘11 Kristina Yee ‘10
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 Diana Suen (firstname.lastname@example.org). Letters to the Editor and comments regarding the content of the publication should be addressed to Editor-in-Chief Sam Jack (email@example.com). Yearly mail subscriptions are available for $30, and semester-long subscriptions are available for $15. To purchase a subscription, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Harvard Independent is published weekly during the academic year, except during vacations, by The Harvard Independent, Inc., P.O. Box 382204, Cambridge, MA 02238-2204. Copyright © 2008 by The Harvard Independent. All rights reserved.
09.24.09 s The Harvard Independent
Short & Sweet News that you could conceivably use. Compiled by SUSAN ZHU and SAM JACK
Afraid of Getting Sick? Sleep On It.
Harvard Yard Grass Would Make Al Gore Proud.
services, and Michael van Valkenburgh, the landscape architect who designed Brooklyn Bridge Park. Go out and enjoy the Yard's fresh, new, healthy grass. We might have made the grass more inviting, and even added colorful chairs, but there's nothing you can do about Cambridge weather.
Guinness Names a New “World's Tallest Man.” A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine has demonstrated scientifically what our mothers have always told us: that getting more sleep makes us less susceptible to getting colds. The scientists kept track of the sleep quality (percentage of time in bed actually spent asleep and how wellrested they felt) and duration of sleep for 153 men and women for two weeks, then quarantined them and gave them nasal drops containing rhinovirus (the common cold). They were monitored for the development of a cold for five days after the drops were administered. Subjects who slept less than 7 hours a day were almost 3 times more likely to develop a cold than those who slept more than 8 hours. So keep on using purell, avoiding sick people, eat right, exercise - and SLEEP. It's what college students seem to be the worst at doing.
Boston Globe: Signs Point to Kirk for Interim Senator. The Globe reports that Paul G. Kirk is the likely choice for interim Massachusetts senator, to serve until a special election can be held to fill deceased Senator Ted Kennedy's seat in January. Governor Deval Patrick is expected to announce his choice this morning. The interim senator will cast a key vote on health care reform legislation, a cause that Senator Kennedy championed throughout his long Senate career. The Harvard Independent s 09.24.09
Last year, it was difficult to find a patch of grass in the Yard that didn't look sickly or blue from all the foot traffic and whatever fancy chemicals we kept pouring on it. What little tufts of grass there were would be closed off — a polite way of asking: no walking, no lounging, no frisbee playing. It was a sad, sad, sight, and made the Yard look empty and lonely. But now, Harvard is going green — literally. The grass in the Yard is much healthier now, thanks to the switch the University made from traditional landscaping to now organic landscaping. The grass is now given compost and compost tea rather than the old school blend of pesticides and synthetic nitrogen. And my, how the grass has grown. The grass, whose roots were previously stubbly, now has roots that reach eight inches deep. The bacteria and fungi that grow in the soil thanks to organic grass-growing allows the soil to retain water better, and in turn, the soil is less compact. This isn't just good for the grass: it's good for the trees in the Yard, and also good for water conservation. Harvard now uses 2 million fewer gallons of water per year on its grass. Pretty good, for a University trying to green itself in a bad economy. The effort to revitalize the yard through organic methods was lead by Eric T. Fleisher, who spent a year as a Loeb Fellow at the Graduate School of Design, working with Wayne Carbone, Harvard's manager of landscape
The Lost Symbol Released. The Lost Symbol, the latest Dan Brown adventure novel featuring renowned Harvard "symbologist" Robert Langdon has been released into the hands of a stampede of bookbuyers — the first printing was two million copies — but to tepid critical reaction. Criticism centers, as always, on Brown's sometimes clunky prose style (sample sentence: "Five months ago, the kaleidoscope of power had been shaken, and Aringarosa was still reeling from the blow."), and on the somewhat ludicrous nature of the plot, which centers around secret psychic powers guarded by George Washington and his friends.
Train Cars in India Cater to Women.
Sultan Kosen of Turkey is the human with the greatest natural altitude, Guinness World Records reports. Kosen stands 8 feet, 1 inches tall, and has long suffered from pituitary gigantism, first diagnosed at age ten. Kosen displaces Bao Xishun (nicknamed “The Mast”), a Chinese herdsman. Kosen also works as a farmer and herdsman. Leonid Stadnyk of the Ukraine, reputed to be 8'4”, held the title until Guinness announced new testing procedures to confirm the record and Stadnyk refused to comply. None of the above giants come close, however, to Robert Wadlow of Illinois, who at his death measured 8 feet 11 inches tall. Wadlow was commemorated in song by Sufjan Stevens and the Handsome Family.
Millions of women have entered the workforce in India in the last couple decades, but social mores have not caught up with the growing civil equality, the New York Times reports. The problem of "eve teasing," as Indians term sexual harassment, has grown so much on public commuter trains that four major Indian cities now offer "Ladies Specials" that cater exclusively to women. The new women only trains have alleviated tension on the rails, but moved some of it into the station: angry men graffiti profanities on the women's trains, and sometimes attempt to board women-only trains and cars. email@example.com
The Types that Come Out at Night Keep your eyes open and you see some odd stuff. By RIVA RILEY
I LIVE IN A college town as when I find myself out for a walk at night, especially on a weekend. I have yet to see a deserted street, and this includes the time I trekked from Lowell to the yard after finishing a physics problem set sometime after midnight on a Monday evening. I suppose this shouldn’t seem unusual, as college kids generally prefer the glow of the stars to the glare of the sun, and I am no exception to this. Left to my own devices, I theorize I would be almost nocturnal in my sleeping habits, and the reluctant groans of my suite-mates each morning as our alarms go off at “early” hours like 10 and 11 AM have lead me to believe that they would not be so very different. The night hold a sort of allure for us, I think. Things are more exciting and look more interesting, and everything is shadowy and mysterious. The night hours are our adventurous hours. People transform when the sun goes down. That may sound melodramatic, but I have seen evidence that people change into something different as they pursue whatever it is they’re looking for on a Friday or Saturday night. Many souls, misguided or on the quest for an experience outside of normal reality, search out parties for the alcohol they can use to fade away. Others are returning from those same parties, stumbling and loud and leaning on one another. These obvious partiers are just the surface of the types that come out at night, however. I am also tempted to venture outside in the dark, and as I am usually aiming for Noch’s or for a walk with friends, my sobriety allows me to make fascinating observations, if I do say so myself. There are no hard and fast rules, but here is a sampling of the companions you might find on your midnight stroll. The loudest and most obvious are, of course, the obnoxious party-goers. There’s the overly confident drunken guy, who shouts randomly at passerby and may direct a pick-up line or two at random girls or a slurred, brazen challenge to fight at random guys. He is aggressive and usually very flushed, but he trips over himself as he walks and most people just skirt around him. His complement is the girl dressed in a too-small outfit who can barely stand up, and she is generally accompanied by a small pod of friends who, while in varying stages of drunkenness, are able to hold her up and see that she doesn’t grab on to any strangers. Many obnoxious party-goers, whether the typical drunken guy or girl or some sort of accomplice, are generally quite loud and usually obnoxious, although I must confess my distaste for the practice, so please keep in mind my opinion is biased. I have never found party-goerss to be actually dangerous in any way, so at least they have that. After the obnoxious party-goers,the most apparent
AM NEVER REMINDED SO FORCEFULLY THAT
are the sober yet happy revelers, who seem to be heading toward a destination but are taking their time about it and go on bouncing along in groups having a good time. I have often thought that most groups of revelers are celebrating something, but I have never actually spoken with a group I didn’t already know, so all I know is that they move in smallish groups, usually less that ten and more than three, and speak in bright, happy tones. Often they are dressed away from the mainstream in baggy pants boasting lots of chains, but you also see them dressed in very typical attire, jeans and sweatshirts and that sort of thing. I can sometimes tell when the revelers are Harvard students if they are discussing quantum mechanics, Crime and Punishment, or something like that, but sometimes it’s not so clear cut. And then there’s that one girl or guy, alone, drifting forward as if they have no idea where they were going and don’t care. They often have their hands in their pockets and they usually look down, shuffling their toes against the pavement as they go. They don’t look particularly concerned, even though they are in a situation that would have me seriously concerned about robbery and attacks. The world seems to be happening around them, especially when they walk through groups
of obnoxious party-goers or happy revelers and nobody notices. These wanderers wind through narrow streets and through the random crowds of people but they do not look like part of the scene. Instead they are in their own universe, which just happens to be tangent to this one. Personally, I find the wanderers the most interesting because there are no clues, and I have no idea what drove them to walk alone in the dark. I love going on walks at night, and often things happen that you would never see during the day. If you haven’t tried it in a while, I highly recommend it, but do be advised: it’s wise to travel in a group, and Cambridge Commons is not a good idea after sundown. In my hometown, a suburb south of Chicago, nighttime walks have led me to cross paths with coyotes, toads, and even a curious, waddling creature I discovered to be a mole after I chased it and saw it had beady little eyes. Curious and wonderful things can happen at night, and provided the bogeyman in its many forms doesn’t get you, you might see them. Riva Riley (rjriley@fas) will do her best to spend the summer studying an animal that comes out at night.
09.24.09 s The Harvard Independent
Barcelona Summer A Sketch of a Place. By LEVI DUDTE
T TAKES ABOUT AN HOUR TO TRAVEL OUT FROM DOWNTOWN
Barcelona and up to the small town of Begues on the top of a mountain south of the city. The trip consists of three parts. The first part, a metro ride within the city to Sants Estacio, one of Barcelona’s primary hubs of urban circulation, always leaves the body sweaty and the mind grated. Crowds of glum Spaniards unaffected by the teetering tunes of insistent musicians churn through tangled underground tunnels typical of the Barcelona metro system. These narrow spaces permit only linear motion. Their low ceilings and lengthy corridors pressurize the pedestrian into incessant forward progress, a state of perpetual psychological unrest grounded finally by the air-conditioned respite of the metro train. The second part of the trip, a leisurely ride on a two-story train from Sants Estacio to Gava, one of Barcelona’s satellite towns to the south, is an exodus. The disheveled, dilapidated outskirts of Barcelona framed and made mute by the windows of the train thin and give way to scattered agricultural plots and dirt roads over the twenty-minute trip. Breathing comes more easily as slim beams of sunset light flicker through trees atop the approaching mountains. The train glides into the unremarkable town of Gava, little more than a point somewhere along the journey. The third part of the trip, a bus ride from the Gava train station to Begues, is a sublime ascent with views of the city growing around each curve of the mountain road. By this time the sun has settled behind the mountains, leaving the coast a dark expanse perforated by shimmering points of city lights and the Mediterranean a black sheet sheen with the long reflections of tall moonbeams. Sometimes the bus driver turns all of the lights on the bus off as an aid in detecting the lights of traffic approaching a curve in the road from the opposite direction. This decision nearly always surprises every passenger. Rightly so, because for several breathless seconds passengers see only light from the outside world The Harvard Independent s 09.24.09
and the bus becomes a lonely, nondescript capsule arcing quietly across the Catalonian night sky. A bed in Begues awaits at the end of the bus ride. The morning sun strikes these Spanish mountains. It enters the windows of a Begues home nearly horizontally, hoping to find closed eyes recovering from Barcelona nights to prick and pry. In retrospect, this pain seems sweet. Submergence back into the city follows each rude awakening. Every new day sheds new light into the many hidden corners of Barcelona life. Levi Dudte ‘11 ( ldudte@fas ) feels poetic.
The Rivals Federer dominated this year at Nadal’s expense. Roger Federer
008 WASN ’ T A GREAT YEAR FOR HIM : HE only won one major, the US Open. For the average elite player, one Grand Slam in a year is great, but the fact for remains, for Federer it was below average, though adorned by the Greatest Match Ever Played — the Wimbledon final, which he lost. At the Australian he failed to reach the final for the first time in over two years. at the French he was humiliated by Nadal in the final, bagelled in the final set. There was talk at the beginning of the 2009 season that Federer might be in decline, but the 2009 Grand Slam season just concluded puts that unhappy thought to rest for now, in my opinion. Federer seems to have recovered from the mononucleiosis that had been throwing off his movement for some time. At the Australian, he once again was defeated by Nadal in an epic match, in Federer and Nadal’s first meeting on a hard court. He tried and failed to choke back tears on the court, perhaps thinking
in that moment that he would be doomed to fall one short of the record he’d been chasing his whole career: most Grand Slam singles wins. But at the French Open, Nadal’s frustration became Federer’s triumph. Plagued by the knee injuries that would later cause him to miss defending his 2008 Wimbledon title, Nadal fell to Robin Soderling in the fourth round. Federer easily dismissed Soderling in the final — Soderling never really even looked like he thought he had a chance to win. With that French open victory, Federer’s first, he equalled Pete Sampras’s record of 14 Grand Slam victories, and at the same time completed the career Grand Slam. With some of the tremendous pressure off, and with a couple new records and achievements firmly in his pocket, and with thoughts of becoming a new father in his mind, Federer went into Wimbledon relaxed and confident. He found his top form, gliding soundlessly across the court. The final this year was, if possible, even closer than last year. Roddick and Federer battled on serve for 30 games in the fifth set before
Roddick finally cracked, giving Federer an unprecedented fifteenth Grand Slam, and a sixth Wimbledon. I was impressed again by Federer’s form at the US Open. He got through to the final with only a couple scares, but let up and coming heavy-hitter Juan Martin del Potro get into his head. Federer’s normally reliable forehand sprayed errors all night. Del Potro won it in five, but Federer didn’t seem as worried or upset as he did at the Australian Open months ago. Life is good for Federer right now, and at this point he’s willing to spread the wealth — just a little bit. If Federer stays healthy and keeps up his motivation, he could win another five majors before he retires, for a grand total of 20.
009 REALLY DID BELONG TO F EDERER , but at the beginning it looked like it was going to belong to Nadal. Nadal sprinted through the opening rounds of the Australian Open, not dropping a set until the semi-final when he took part in a thrilling five-setter and got past Verdasco in a match lasting more than five hours — the longest match in Australian Open history. The final against Federer was another long, grinding five setter. Yet despite Nadal’s presumable exhaustion, and Federer’s relative restedness after a straightforward straight-sets win, Nadal was the better man in the fifth set, capturing it 6-2. With that Australian Open win, Nadal proved his all-court caliber by winning a Grand Slam on each tennis surface used in major competition: grass, clay, and hard court. He also firmly took the dominant position in the Federer-Nadal rivalry; he’s won the last three Grand Slam final meetings against Federer. But then his knees began bothering him. It started at the French Open, where he had trouble bending over, seemed less swift on his feet than usual, and took one very awkward tumble on the way to losing to Robin Soderling in four sets, who road the wave of confidence he got from the upset win straight into the finals. In the aftermath of the defeat at the hand of the relatively unknown, 23rd
The F o Men’s T
ranked Soderling, Nadal announced what had become apparent to tennis watchers, that he was in pain and struggling with the wear and tear on his body. The New York Times reported that in an exhibition match against Lleyton Hewitt, Rafa’s coach Uncle Toni urged him to bend down to the ball. Nadal was heard to mutter, “I can’t.” After another exhibition loss, to Stanislas Wawrinka, Nadal announced that he would not be defending his 2008 Wimbledon title. Nadal spent June and July sailing, relaxing, and rehabbing his aching knees. When Nadal returned to compete at the US Open, he took care to set expectations very low, saying that it was “almost impossible” for him to win the title. Nadal exceeded the expectations he’d set, reaching the semi-finals in fairly convincing fashion, but in the process sustaining a rip in an abdominal muscle which he had to have treated throughout the tournament. The muscle injury seemed to catch up to him in the Del Potro match, in which he managed to take only six games off the big-hitting Argentine. Nadal is off the tour again this week; he’s withdrawn from the Thailand Open to nurse his abdominal injury. This new injury only intensifies the talk that his style of play puts too much stress on his body, leading to injuries, and perhaps ultimately marking a premature end to his already legendary career. If Nadal cares about his legacy, he should sharply limit his play outside of Grand Slams; it’s not realistic for him to switch to a less grinding style of play. The grind is what makes him great. 09.24.09 s The Harvard Independent
Future of Tennis
The Contenders Federer and Nadal should watch out for these new stars and perennial contenders. Andy Roddick
G REAT B RITISH H OPE ! H ENMAN Hill is already being renamed ‘Murray Mound’, but Andy Murray still hasn’t proven that he has what it takes in the big moments. Then again, having what it takes in the big moments doesn’t seem to be a prerequisite to have the Wimbledon hill named after you. Henman never made it past the semifinals at Wimbledon or at any Slam. Murray’s already surpassed Henman in that respect; he earned the privilege of being easily defeated by Federer in the 2008 US Open final. But, fair or not, the dominant feeling emanating from the British Isles is dread that Murray will be the next British (well, Scottish actually) disappointment. Murray’s struggled with emotional composure throughout his career, and I don’t think the constantly changing rotation of coaches, assistant coaches, trainers, hitting partners, etcetera, can possibly be helping him on that score. He needs to find the right coach and stick with him for a while. I think it’s too bad he dumped Brad Gilbert. I don’t enjoy watching Andy Murray, because to me it never looks like Murray is really enjoying himself. In interviews h e h a s the furrowe d brow that lets us know that he’s Taking It All Very Seriously. He should loosen up, try and forget about all the expectations, and just play. If he can’t find a way to enjoy playing tennis day to day, he’s going to stay tense. HE
The Harvard Independent s 09.24.09
OOR, POOR ANDY RODDICK. WON’T he ever get a break? He won the US Open in 2003 and since then he’s had his chances, but nothing has happened for him. He’s lost four Grand Slam finals since that joyous day six years ago, and they’ve all been to Roger Federer. Most recently he lost Wimbledon, in a 77 game five-setter — the longest championship match in Wimbledon, and indeed Grand Slam, history. Roddick was crushed after that defeat, and I don’t blame him, even though it was probably the best tennis match he ever played. As I mentioned in the Federer piece, no one likes to lose the best match they ever played. Roddick has dropped fifteen pounds, as the TV commentators tell us again and again, and he has become better at the net, with better variety, but I think there’s a pretty good chance that it’s too little, too late for Roddick to claim another Slam. There’s just too many young players coming up through the ranks that have been inspired by Federer to develop fearsome all-around games. They all can hurt Roddick, and to win a major title, Roddick will have to move past a couple of them. So far he hasn’t quite had what it takes to do it, but Roddick has a “never say die” attitude, and his fans probably should too. Whether or not he adds to his single Slam title, he’s an admirable athlete.
Juan Martin del Potro
I’M PRETTY CONVINCED THAT DEL Potro is going to be the next big break-out star of the men’s tennis game. And not just because he’s the guy who most recently won a major. The game he’s beginning to play is a game that no one has ever really played before. It’s already a fearsome game, and Del Potro still has years ahead of him to figure it out. Del Potro, six feet and six inches tall, is the tallest man ever to win a Grand Slam title. Most tall men up until Del Potro have had fairly one-dimensional games characterized by huge serves, plentiful aces, (sometimes) big thwacking forehands, and not much else. Ivo Karlovic, the dullest player on the ATP tour, is a prime example. He excels against players who don’t have the wherewithal to adjust to his blistering serves, but against players with options — that is to say, top players — he wilts. He succeeded in beating Federer once out of ten meetings, which is actually better than I expected his record to be. He served a staggering 78 aces in a match against Stepanek — and lost. Del Potro isn’t like Karlovic. Unlike Karlovic, he came up through the juniors idolizing the stylish, nimble, efficient game of Roger Federer. He has the weapons of a big hitter including the serve (he can crack 130 miles per hour without even looking like he’s trying) and a forehand ground stroke that had me gasping during the US Open final. But Del Potro does more than serve and then put the ball away cross court. He moves his hulking frame with surprising grace and evinces none of the discomfort at net that other big hitters like Roddick and Isner have been plagued by. The game of Del Potro is improving at a frightening rate. He had never taken a set off of Federer until this year’s French Open, when he gave Federer a 5 set scare. Federer fended off the threat then, but Del Potro beat Federer at the US Open, when Federer wasn’t playing that far below his peak (Federer at the top of his game is still unbeatable). By my reckoning, Del Potro has to be considered a favorite to at least make the final at the end of year ATP championships. Everyone ahead of Del Potro in the rankings should be very worried. Tennis fans should be excited at another emerging star.
N OVAK D JOKOVIC ,” a cohort of tennis fans keeps asking, and another cohort responds, “Yes, what about him?” Well, he did win the 2008 Australian Open; until earlier this month he was the only one not named Rafael or Roger to win a Grand Slam in — well, in quite a long time. Djokovic’s tennis has never made a big impression on me — I don’t get to watch him play that much — but at the US Open against Federer he was simply outclassed from nearly beginning to end. It was against Djokovic that Federer scored the backwards-running between-the-legs pashing shot that was the talk of the tournament and the subject of a popular YouTube video (just Google “Federer Djokovic” and it’s the top result). Djokovic played well, but he didn’t quite hit the level that allowed him to beat Federer last year in Australia. There were missed opportunities in abundance for Djokovic. One bright spot for Djokovic, at least at the US Open, is that he seems to be back in New York’s good graces. Last year he made some remarks that were perceived as disparaging to Roddick, and the crowd turned hostile. This year, after a routine win over Stepanek, with broadcast time to kill, Djokovic played a few points against John McEnroe, and threw in one of his trademark tennis impersonations: he pulled up his shorts, ambled up to the service line, tossed the ball ridiculously high, and smacked it into the net. The crowd loved it. HAT ABOUT
Once More Into the Scrum My brief, painful tenure on the rugby team. By NICK NEHAMAS
S PORTS section of the Independent, I am not your typical athlete. In fact, most people (my friends included) would hesitate to call me an athlete at all. My build certainly does not qualify me for too many sports: I am 6’4”, 215 pounds. Now that might sound pretty promising. But any recruiters reading this article should put their pens away. I’ve seen girls on the volleyball team with broader shoulders than mine. My 5’6”, chemistry-majoring, cello-playing linkmate routinely bests me in arm-wrestling. I am not coordinated enough to play basketball nor can I hit well enough for baseball. I cannot jump high enough to play volleyball, am not fast enough to compete in soccer, and don’t have the stamina for a full game of football. I did not receive a single varsity letter in high school and I certainly will never get one from Harvard. I used to smoke cigarettes and I hate lifting weights. I like to eat greasy chinese food, fried chicken wings, burritos stuffed with roast pork and wash them all down with cold beer. So, given all these natural impediments to athletic glory, I was a little surprised to find myself practicing with Harvard’s elite Rugby Football Club last week, especially given that rugby requires the athleticism of basketball, the speed of soccer, and the build of football. Or so our coach, a friendly but clearly ferocious little Englishman named Dave Gonzalez, explained it for the benefit of us newcomers to the game as the hot sun beat down on our already sweating backs. Rugby, Coach Gonzalez told us, was invented some time in the 1820’s in England during a soccer match. Apparently, one of the players grew frustrated with the game’s slow pace and his own inability to control the ball. So, in order to make his low opinion of the sport clear to everyone in the area, he picked up the ball and ran towards the other team’s goal, hotly pursued by the furious members of the opposing team, with the intention of depositing it by hand in their net for a score. Thus the brutal, beautiful game of rugby was born, inserting itself below cricket but above soccer in the class-based hierarchy of British atheltics. Cricket, as it requires the most expensive equipemnt, has traditionally been the preserve of the upper class while soccer, which in its most basic form requires a only ball of rolled-up rags, was looked down on as a working-class pastime. Rugby came to Harvard in 1872, making it one of our university’s oldest athletic teams and the first such club in North America. I like to play all sorts of different sports. At some point in my life, I have tried my hand at soccer, gymnastics, ice skating, hockey, horseback riding, basketball, tennis, baseball, football, volleyball, handball, cricket and, of course, the ultimate test of the athlete, beer pong. Some I enjoyed more than others and play or dream about playing to this day. A few ― gymnastics, Mom and Dad, really? When I was a kid I couldn’t balance on a rocking chair without
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falling off it, much less a pommel horse ― I hated pretty much from the beginning. When two of my friends signed me up for Harvard’s
first rugby practice without telling me, I was more than happy to go. Rugby was one sport I had never tried or understood except for the times when I occasionally
09.24.09 s The Harvard Independent
RANT became engrossed in televised matches on the old Fox Sports World Channel. It looked more like a pitched battle than a sport. Much more so than American football, for example, with its constant breaks in play and where the players are at least heavily padded, helmeted and otherwise protected against such indignities as a 250-pound linebacker hitting you at full speed after your fullback has tripped and fallen in front of you. In rugby, the best armor you can hope for is a small padded helmet (and many players choose not to wear them) or duct-tape around your ears to keep bits of them from being ripped off during play. Lovely. Rugby is not only football without pads. Unlike football, it requires every player to be able to run effectively with the ball. And a good rugby player is not only an offensive weapon for he also must participate in the 8-on-8 trench-warfare known as the appropriately unpleasant-sounding “scrum” and, on “line outs,” is obliged to hurl a fellow player high into the air so that he can receive rugby’s version of a jump ball. Essentially, a good rugby player is a one-man army of skill, speed, strength, and competitive spirit who, much like a soldier, believes in his own immortality (or, at the very least, is willing to sacrifice his life for the sake of the team). The Harvard team has many such players, including several who have appeared at some level for their national teams. Fortunately, we rookies were not allowed to play with the large and intimidating first-teamers. Instead, Coach Gonzalez patiently explained to us the rules and fundamentals of the game. I gleaned the following general principles: 1) Try your best not to kill anyone, although accidents can and will happen 2) The ball moves faster than a man can run. Therefore, quick and coordinated passing is the best way to move your team up the field 3) Never run sideways, even if you are being pursued by four bull-necked Maori warriors. Run straight into them. This, however, might be a violation of Coach Gonzalez’s first rule, if you consider that it not only applies to others but to yourself as well. 4) Never stop running. Ever. 5) Never stop hitting. Ever. Since it was the first day, Coach Gonzalez told us we were not allowed to tackle one another. Instead, we played variations of non-contact rugby in order to familiarize ourselves with the sport. Our games, though nominally “touch,” nonetheless featured quite a few collisions, some accidental and some decidedly less so. As in any sport, tempers flared at times. Mild bouts of shoving resulted. But, aside from a such few incidents, the practice was goodnatured as we followed the coach’s instruction that rugby was a gentleman’s game and that a handup to the opposing player was the proper way to apologize for an unfair or otherwise “cheeky” hit. During our water breaks, we sneaked peaks at the A-team’s practice. Their incisive running and joyfully brutal collisions put our own ragged attempts to shame. But our improvement as a unit was noticeable and, by the end of practice, I could already tell which players (the big ones and the fast ones) would move up to the B and A teams over the next few weeks. Coach Gonzalez told us that, if we remained with the team, we would find ourselves in the best shapes of our lives playing a beautiful sport with the best friends of our lives. Though at various times during the practice I told myself that I could stick with the team, by the end I knew it was hopeless. Though I was extremely proud of myself for not finishing dead-last during the horrendous ordeal known as a “suicide,” a series of short
The Harvard Independent s 09.24.09
continuous sprints, my lack of physical conditioning was a major problem. I was severely winded just from the running part of our imitation games of touch rugby. I knew that adding constant hitting to the constant motion required would probably leave me, panting and bleeding, at death’s door. My suspicion was confirmed when we were allowed to practice our rugby hitting on stationary tackling dummies. When I played football in high school, I thought I understood what it meant to “hit low” (the lower on an opponent’s body you hit him, the easier it is to bring him down). Rugby taught me differently. The tackling technique is completely different from American football given that, without a helmet and shoulder pads, it would be suicide to try to hit another player by bringing your head and shoulders across their body. In rugby, the goal is to hit your opponent, using your shoulder, straight on between the stomach and the hips and at the same time keep your feet moving constantly as if you were running at full speed before picking up your opponent and driving him into the ground. The added bonus of this style, when done correctly, is that your shoulder will crush the other player’s back against the ground after they fall, knocking the wind completely out of them. When done incorrectly, both players are at risk of serious injury. Hit your opponent too low, however, and he will cheerfully greet you with a knee directly to the face. I gradually managed to get the hang of it but, each time I hit the bag, I could feel my shoulders slipping out of their sockets. Throughout my athletic career, my shoulders have been my Achilles’ heel. Years of punishment on the offensive and defensive lines of football (the game’s trenches) and then, after the conclusion of my football career, sprawling dives and collisions as a goalkeeper in soccer left me with two chronically dislocating shoulders. My left one required a painful surgery as a high school senior which had ended my participation in contact sports until I rather optimistically showed up at rugby practice. As I grimaced and pushed my slip-and-slide shoulders back into place at the end of practice, I remembered why I had quit football. Despite the physical pain, those two hours have been some of the best of my junior year in college. Nothing in the world compares to the joy of team sports and I was especially delighted to get a taste of rugby’s extremely obscene sense of humor. It, I imagine, is a necessity for athletes playing a sport where the risk of injury is so great on every play. I can best describe it as “gallows humor” though, out of respect for the Indy’s high standards of morality, I will repeat no songs or jokes in this article. The best way to learn them is to attend one of the team’s home games. The next one is this Friday at 1:00 against Brown on the IM fields behind Jordan Field and the artificial turf. The team, which competes for the National Championship every year, is coming off two impressive wins against Ivy League rivals Princeton and Brown. Anyone with an interest in learning about an exciting new sport that is even more underrepresented in this country than my other favorite European sport, soccer, should be sure to attend. You’ll find me in the bleachers, jumping up and down, singing dirty songs about the sexual mores and hygienic habits of our opponents, secretly wishing that I was playing the sport instead of just writing about it.
Struggling to find sustenance. By SAM JACK
ODAY WAS A DAY OF BEING ANGRY AT VENDING
machines. First I wanted a Diet Coke in Barker Center. I would have purchased it at the cafe, but due to budget cuts the cafe now closes at 2 PM, well before I ever want to use it. The vending machine in Barker doesn’t take Crimson Cash, and I only had fives and tens, so I walked across the street to Lamont only to find that the vending machine in Lamont is broken. I had purchased a Diet Coke from the vending machine in Lamont like two weeks ago only to find that the refrigeration was broken, and my bottle of synthetic sweet beverage was actually radiating heat. I let the bottle sit out until it had cooled to room temperature, then drank it, grumpily. And here it is two weeks later and they still hadn’t fixed it, so I got a drink from the water fountain and went to class. And now here I am in the Quad SOCH where, again, I wanted to get a can of Diet Coke. Last year I could’ve purchased the Diet Coke from the SOCH Cafe, but that was shut down, again due to budget cuts. The pop machine on the top floor is still in place, but today I found that the card swipe function was disabled and the machine advertised that it was only taking cash. So I got a handful of change. The machine accepted three quarters, totaling 75 cents and then refused to accept any of my nickels or dimes. “Exact Change Only,” it told me. “But I HAVE exact change,” I informed the machine aloud. Apparently for this particular vending machine, exact change only means quarters. To add injury to insult, the machine would not give me back the 75 cents I had already deposited. I stood in front of the machine for a few seconds, futilely thumping and yelping and then slunk away. Final score: 75 cents poorer, failed to procure any soda pop. HARVARD! FIX YOUR VENDING MACHINES! Thank you. Sam Jack ‘11 (sjack@fas) will overcome.
Nick Nehamas ‘11 ( nnehamas@gmail ) takes any opportunity he can get to sing dirty songs.
This Week’s Conversation Starters A new column to help you overcome your awkwardness. By JOHN BEATTY
E’VE ALL BEEN THERE: YOU SEE SOMEONE YOU
vaguely know from section or lab and you cast around for something to say. You don’t always succeed. To better lubricate these awkward social situations, I’ve prepared a set of three conversation starters, ranging from safest, but dullest to oddest, but most daring so that you can be prepared for whatever situation you find yourself in. How are classes settling in? Now that shopping period has passed, people are starting to get in to the swing of things. When casting about, what better way to get a conversation started than giving people a place to vent? The early excitement of the semester is starting to wear off and it’s coming to that point where the Ec 10 kids have realized Mankiw will never speak to them, the “invigorating” ten o’clock class has become a post cereal-again-for-breakfast siesta, and the nervousbut-you’re-sure-very-smart TF still hasn’t learned how to not mumble during section. You headed to the big game this weekend? This is a great all purpose conversation starter, as it really means anything the listener wants it to mean. I would be thinking of the first home football game, and you would forgiven for thinking that most college students would think the same thing. But this isn’t a college, this is Harvard. You’re just as likely to get a “Collier Winters [He’s Harvard’s quarterback] is going to rock” as a “Yeah, it’ll be great to relax and finally have to time to play some Catan.” So give it a try and see where this one takes you. I’ve been meaning to ask you, what do you bench? A classic. Best accompanied by at least seven seconds of unbroken eye contact, according to Stephen Pinker. Flexing a little adds a certain je ne c’est quoi to the whole proceeding. The first reaction may be negative but press on, underneath that clear discomfort is pure conversation gold. If it does get too weird, just pull the “its for a sociology project” escape lever and ease your way out. Whatever happens, don’t let their immediate reaction stop the conversation. Now that you’ve started, you’ve got to finish. That’s what she said. John Beatty ‘11 (jemmert.beatty@gmail) has some great pick-up lines, too.
THE LOVELY BONES The dangers of tension drawn out too long. By FAITH ZHANG
HERE’S A BLIND ITEM ON THE WEBSITE OF ENTERTAINMENT
Weekly — a poor start, I know, but bear with me here — titled “Lovers’ biggest obstacle? The network!” that goes like this: “Cupid might wanna trade in his standard bow and arrow for something that packs a little more punch if he sees today’s blind item. For that matter, you might feel inclined to take a shot at a few network suits, too. See, they’re the only obstacle that a certain popular TV couple can’t seem to overcome. For seasons now, one stumbling block has been placed in front of another to keep the dynamic duo apart. But, finally, at the end of last season, viewers were supposed to get the big get-together for which they’d been waiting. The love story’s happy ending — or real beginning, as it were — was all planned out. Unfortunately, the execs got cold feet.” The reliability of blind items is dubious at best — they’re better read for titillation than research — but I believe every word of this one. Which dynamic duo is it referring to? Some people seem to think it might be House and Cuddy, but I think that’s nonsense; they haven’t been smoldering at each for long enough. No — clearly it’s Booth and Brennan of Fox’s long-running but underrated show Bones, which began its fifth season last Thursday. Bones, for the uninitiated, is based on a book series by Kathy Reichs and centers on a brilliant but socially inept forensic anthropologist named Temperance Brennan (played by Emily Deschanel) and an FBI agent with a dark past named Seeley Booth (played by David Boreanaz of Buffy and Angel). Together, they fight crime (though not without the help of a motley crew of lab assistants, some of whom have their own unresolved romances and who at this point average 1.25 PhDs apiece); each episode features a murder to be solved by Brennan’s ability to read bones and Booth’s people skills. The science in Bones is pretty classic TV science, which is to say that it bears rather more resemblance to magic than science, but that’s hardly a weakness worth mentioning. Bones’ true strength lies in its characterization. The show has moved from a structure typical of crime shows, in which characterization takes a back seat to solving the mystery of the week, to one where dead bodies are little more than an excuse to explore the inner lives of the characters and also to get up to such hijinks as going undercover as a Russian knife act in a circus and fighting in an underground ring in Vegas. There have been missteps along the way — a period of time where Booth seemed to become a caricature of himself, another when Brennan seemed to be regressing — but as a whole, Bones has done an excellent job of creating long and consistent character arcs, as Brennan learns about the beautiful illogic of human emotion and she and Booth learn to trust and, yes, love each other, whether or not they admit it (Booth has, but not to her; she hasn’t). The relationship between Booth and Brennan has been a long, slow burn from the very beginning; even when other people come into the picture — Brennan dates another FBI agent, Sully, for some time, and he asks her to run away with him to the Caribbean; she
attends a function as the date of Booth’s brother; Booth briefly rekindles a romance with Cam Saroyan, one of Brennan’s co-workers — it is always clear that they are the most important people in each other’s lives and that the ultimate trajectory of the show ends with the two of them together. In fact, at this point, Booth and Brennan are a foregone conclusion. Everyone assumes they’re a couple, including Brennan’s own father. The two of them are in what amounts to couples therapy with Dr. Lance Sweets, a recurring character who is an FBI psychoanalyst. They cling to each other and lose their minds when the other is in danger. For God’s sake, she wants to have a baby, and she wants him to be the father. It’s as if the two of them are married, and the rest of the cast is just waiting for them to realize it. And yet the showrunners refuse to allow any sort of resolution. A kiss, they promised back in the third season, a kiss in the Christmas episode. And lo and behold, a kiss there was, mistletoe and all — and then nothing. It might as well never have happened. The buildup to the finale of the fourth season was tremendous, as show creator Hart Hanson promised exciting things, and indeed “The End in the Beginning” saw Booth and Brennan thoroughly in love, married, and in bed together, not to mention Brennan pregnant with Booth’s child — except that it was nothing more than a story written by Brennan as she waited for Booth to come out of a coma. Why won’t the network allow any real resolution? The answer is surprisingly simple. Moonlighting ended two decades ago this year, but it still casts a long shadow; every time it seems that a TV couple might finally resolve some tension and settle into a relationship, the worry is that without the continual will-they-or-won’t-they, the show will lose all its spice, just like Moonlighting supposedly did. That, at any rate, is the conventional wisdom regarding Moonlighting, though I have also heard that the real reason was that the two leads, Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd, could no longer stand each other. Whatever the case, it’s silly to allow a single twenty-year-old show dictate what can be produced now. Brennan’s psychology still has plenty of room for exploration, and the attempt to negotiate the boundaries of their professional and romantic relationships offers plenty of potential tension for Booth and Brennan; by refusing to allow the show to progress naturally, the network risks alienating viewers, who do not have infinite patience. Now, with Bones renewed for a fifth and sixth season, this viewer fears that the network will drag out the resolution of this romance until the end of the sixth season, and even beyond. Matters have already moved far beyond any question of will-they-or-won’t-they; it’s clear to anybody paying the least bit of attention that the only reasonable progression from this point ends with the two of them together. The only question is whether Fox will get over its commitment phobia and give us what we’ve all be waiting for.
Moonlighting ended two decades ago, but it still casts a long shadow.
Faith Zhang ’11 (fhzhang@fas) won’t wait forever. 09.24.09 s The Harvard Independent
8 WAYS TO HAVE FUN IN A MUSEUM Rock out with Renoir and kick back with Lord Kelvin. By PELIN KIVRAK Target Free Thursday Nights
Boston Redevelopment Authority
September 18 - October 30, 2009 Check out local artists selling their work outside on Summer Street from 11 AM to 6 PM on Fridays until the end of October. Works ranges from Photography, clay, blown glass, wearables, fine art, children items, jewelry etc. Live music from 12-1:00PM 43 Hawkins St., Boston
MFA First Fridays
Museum of Fine Arts Boston October 2, 2009, 5:30 – 9:30 PM
The MFA’s Multicultural Audience Development Committee showcases works by local artists. Guests have the chance to meet the artists of ArtROX!, and enjoy a one-night-only exhibition of their work, as well as a cash bar, tapas menu, and live music by the Bill Banfield Jazz Ensemble. Open to visitors 21 years or older. Entry is free with Museum Administration 465 Huntigton Avenue
USEUMS ARE TEMPLES OF INSPIRATION.
They not only present you with the most inspirational art works but also provide you with a realization of your own inspirations byshowing,teaching,andoftentimes entertaining you. Museums around Cambridge and greater Boston have special events and happy hours for those who know how to enjoy art.
The Institute Of Contemporary Art Every Thursday from 5pm to 9pm
Harvard students get in free anytime, but Thursday nights are the time to bring your friends to enjoy some contemporary art. 100 Northern Ave., Boston
Genes & Jazz
Museum of Science, Boston November 4, 2009, 7 PM
SOWA Artist Guild
The First Friday of each month Over 3 dozen Guild member artists and others open their studios. Meet the artists in their element and view their latest works. 450 Harrison Ave., Boston.
Music Kitchen @ the Gardner Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Part I on Sunday, October 11 at 1:30PM, Part II on Sunday, October 18 at 1:30PM.
Gardner After Hours: Remix Night at the Sackler Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum October 15, 2009 5:30 PM
Join impromptu gallery discussions about the collection while DJ Rehka from Brooklyn spins Bangra style in the courtyard. Tickets: $12 Adults; $10 Seniors; $5 College Students; free for members.
October 22nd, from 7-9 PM
A special event for Harvard student in Harvard’s very own Arthur M. Sackler Museum. The first event of the year will stick to a ‘20s theme with great art, great food and great music. 485 Broadway, Cambridge
Harold Varmus, Nobel Laureate and president of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, teams up with son Jacob Varmus, jazz trumpeter and composer, to explore the ways in which genes and notes affect complex organisms and compelling music. The event also features a performance by the Jacob Varmus Quintet. Tickets: $15. 1 Science Park Boston, MA 02114
Nicholas Kitchen and the Borromeo String Quartet bring the music of Bartók and Beethoven to life this season in two dynamic evenings of conversation, visuals, and performance, followed by a wine reception around the courtyard. 280 The Fenway, Boston, MA 2115 Tickets: $23 Adults; $18 Seniors; $15 Members; $10 College Students; free for members The Harvard Independent s 09.24.09
captured and shot