a. heoper ,att mons y,Mor t ani ns de:Li i ns I
02.16.12 vol. xlii, no. 38 The Indy is feeling the love. And the Norovirus. Cover Design by
Miranda shugars and sayantan deb
NEWS Rubbers and Religion 3 Redefining Republican 4 FORUM American Idiot 5 All in the Family 6 27 Dresses 7 ARTS F ame H ooker , 8 P rostitute W ench Mixed Media 9 Moosical 9 +1 Popcorn 10 SPORTS Linception 11 As Harvard College's weekly undergraduate newsmagazine, the Harvard Independent provides in-depth, critical coverage of issues and events of interest to the Harvard College community. The Independent has no political affiliation, instead offering diverse commentary on news, arts, sports, and student life. For publication information and general inquiries, contact Co-Presidents Whitney Lee and Gary Gerbrandt (firstname.lastname@example.org). Letters to the Editor and comments regarding the content of the publication should be addressed to Editor-in-Chief Meghan Brooks (email@example.com). For email subscriptions please email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Harvard Independent is published weekly during the academic year, except during vacations, by The Harvard Independent, Inc., Student Organization Center at Hilles, Box 201, 59 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138. Copyright © 2012 by The Harvard Independent. All rights reserved
Co-President Co-President Editor-in-Chief Production Manager News and Forum Editor Associate News Editor Arts Editor Associate Arts Editor Sports Editor Design Editor Columnists
Gary Gerbrandt '14 Whitney Lee '14 Meghan Brooks '14 Miranda Shugars '14 Christine Wolfe '14 Carlos Schmidt '15 Sayantan Deb '14 Curtis Lahaie '15 Michael Altman '14 Angela Song '14 Will Simmons '14 Sanyee Yuan '12 Celia Zhang '13
Staff Writers Yuqi Hou '15 Travis Hallett '14 Cindy Hsu '14 Yuying Luo '12 Zena Mengesha '14 Marina Molarsky-Beck '15 Riva Riley '12 Brad Rose '14 Kalyn Saulsberry '14 Marc Shi '14 Weike Wang '11 Graphics, Photography, and Design Staff Maria Barragan-Santana '14 Travis Hallett '14 Nina Kosaric '14 Alexandria Rhodes '14
Picks of the Week Rope When: Friday, February 17th at 7:30 Where: The Loeb Ex What: Inspired by the Leopold and Loeb crime that also inspired a 1940’s Hitchcock movie, this production promises to be a thrill. The protagonists, Brandon and Granillo, are brilliant, and they want to prove it to the world. By killing. And throwing a party. At the same time. Productions at the Ex are usually innovative, and judging from the story alone, it seems like this will be no different. So this Friday, before heading off to begin this wonderful long weekend, indulge in some theater. Who could say no? Harvard v. Yale Basketball and Tailgate When: Saturday, Tailgate 5:30 – 7:00, Game 7:00 Where: The Crimson Pub (above the field house); Game, Lavietes Pavilion What: Why should the Game only be a football thing? This Saturday night Harvard takes on Yale in what is sure to be a heated match-up, especially considering the pounding we dealt them in our 65-35 win on January 27th. If you’re not much of a hoops fan, there will be free t-shirts and free food and drink vouchers to the first one hundred students at the pub. Whether you’ve been following the team all season or are only in it for the wings, you’re going to want to find your way across the river Saturday evening. AEPi’s Raise the Roof Party When: Sunday, 9PM onwards Where: Tommy Doyle’s What: Throw down this Sunday night and end the long weekend on a high note; the party will be great, there’ll be plenty of awesome people, and you’ll be getting down for a great cause. Tickets are $7 in advance or $10 at the door, and proceeds benefit the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter.
02.16.12 • The Harvard Independent
The Contraception Question The juncture of faith and health. By MEGHAN BROOKS
o n day ,
V a l e n t i n e ’s D a y , m a n y Harvard students returned to their rooms after a long day of class to find a plastic bag hanging on their doorknobs, a condom, lube, and a flyer inside. One side of the flyer listed safe condom techniques and tips, while the other, headlined by a flower y “Happy Valentine’s Day ”, listed the information for Peer Contraceptive Counselors (PCC ), the Universit ysponsored counseling group that dispenses advice on sex and a wide range of contraceptive and safe sex devices to students at Harvard. Although the door drop turned few heads at Har vard — PCC stocks boxes with free condoms in convenient locations across campus and Trojan Condoms ranks Harvard’s sex education in the top quar tile nationally — it came at a time when the question of contraceptives on religiously-affiliated college campuses is at the forefront of the national news cycle. The new federal health insurance mandate (H.H.S. mandate) requires that insurance companies and employers cover contraceptives in employees’ insurance plans without a co-pay, and as the Obama administration and various religious a n d re l i gi o u s l y a f f i l i a te d gro u p s wrestle with the question of religious exemptions to this rule, students at colleges and universities across the country are voicing their opinions on the matter as faith, religious liberty, reproductive freedom, and health policy collide. The facts of the matter are these: on Januar y 20 th , the D epar tment of Health and Human Services announced that after consideration, the only religious exemptions to the insurance mandate for contraceptives wo u l d b e fo r i n s t i t u t i o n s w h o s e primary purpose is religion and that
The Harvard Independent • 02.16.12
serve one religious community, which would limit the exemption to churches, synagogues, mosques, and the like. Upon this announcement, Catholic bishops led the charge against what t h e y s aw a s a n i n f r i n g e m e n t o n religious freedom (the Roman Catholic Church prohibits all contraception for believers), eventually forcing t h e Pre s i d e nt to co m p ro m i s e o n t h e i s s u e e a r l i e r t h i s we e k . T h e new compromise, whose intent is to remove responsibility from religiously affiliated institutions, allows such hospitals, charities, and universities to defer the issue of contraception directly to their insurance providers. While this compromise does place responsibility for contraceptive coverage on insurance companies, many universities, such as Notre Dame and Georgetown, both Jesuit, are self-insured, putting them in the predicament of being both employer and insurer. It is not immediately clear how this compromise will affect the lives of students attending religious universities, and its impact on students will likely var y from college to college. From faith-based institutions such as Boston College and Pepperdine University to secular universities such as Harvard, the spectrum of opinion on the matter of contraception access in school-sponsored health insurance plans is broad. At many Catholic and religious universities — such as those in the twenty-eight states that require insurance companies to fund contraception for all — contraceptives are covered under university-affiliated insurance policies with a co-pay even if university health services will not write contraceptive prescriptions. Although the new insurance mandate would eliminate the co-pay, because the reality of contraceptive access on campus will not change for many, the
debate has become more a matter of principle than of practice. A slew of editorials in student newspapers at Catholic colleges across the country have illuminated both sides of the issue. Notre Dame’s Observer has consistently printed letters to the editor and “viewpoints” both for and against the H.H.S. mandate since the original announcement on January 20 th . Students and faculty have called for a practical approach to the realities of unmarried Catholics having sex, have exhorted Notre Dame to uphold Church doctrine at all costs, and have made pleas for Catholic values promoted socially rather than t h ro u g h l e gi s l at i o n . G e o rg e tow n University’s Hoya has published fewer but equally impassioned editorials on both sides of the debate in the last few weeks as well. Meanwhile, Catholic University’s student newspaper, The Tower , has exclusively published anti- contraception editorials, and nearby Boston College’s main paper, The Heights , h a s b e e n re l at i ve l y quiet on the subject, publishing its last article on the topic two weeks ago. Its conservative competitor, The Observer, has been rather quiet on the issue as well. The Catholic Church and its affiliated universities are receiving the most attention in the controversy as it condemns contraceptives and sterilization across the board, while other denominations might be more lenient, especially for married c o u p l e s. N e ve r t h e l e s s, t h e i s s u e has arisen in other religiously a f f i l i a te d u n i ve r s i t i e s a c ro s s t h e c o u n t r y, f ro m p ro - c o n t r a c e p t i o n articles in Churches of Christ affiliate Pepperdine University ’s Graphic to Brigham Young Universit y ’s Daily Universe framing the issue in terms of Mitt Romney ’s candidac y. With 55% of Americans standing behind
the new H.H.S. guidelines and 58% of Catholics in support of them (98% of sexually active Catholic women polled use some form of birth control), and with Republicans in Congress actively working to strike down the new guidelines in the name of the First Amendment, it is unlikely that the controversy will die down soon. M eanwhile, at secular Har vard University, strong opinions on the law seem to be few, as University Health Ser vices (UHS) provides a wide variety of sexual health care and resources to its students. UHS will prescribe various forms of birth control to students on request, though its health insurance provider, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and its prescription drug supplier, Medco, almost always require a student co-pay. UHS also offers STI and HIV testing, covered by both the full and supplementary health insurance plans, resources for survivors of sexual assault, and pregnancy testing. Likewise, UHS will refer students to Planned Parenthood o r Wo m e n’s H e a l t h S e r v i c e s i f a student should chose to terminate a pregnancy, and then provides followup care at UHS. Abortions are fully covered under Har vard ’s Student Health Insurance Plan, and for those with outside insurance, the required Health Services Fee will provide $350 to help cover costs. M e a n w h i l e , P CC c o n t i n u e s t o provide sexual health resources for its fellow students in its office on the 5 th floor of UHS, where drop-ins are from 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. from Sunday through Thursday, and from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends. PCC can also be reached at 617-495-7561 or at pcc@ hcs.harvard.edu. Meghan Brooks ’14 (meghanbrooks@college) will be watching as the controversy unfolds.
A Long Year's Journey into August By CHRISTINE WOLFE
n the beginning, there were eight. Five unabashed radicals, deter mined to tear down the status quo. One moderate with an Old Republican feel and diplomatic experience. One obstetrician with a tenaciously devoted following. The last candidate was the clear frontrunner. But clear is a relative term. The man who seems the undeniable nominee, Mitt Romney, is currently second in the polls to the former Senator of Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum, who was essentially unknown at the beginning of this race. (Real Clear Politics listed Santorum’s polling rate at 1 or 2% until late December). Mitt Romney is head to head with a candidate who was shot into the spotlight for his extremely conservative views on social issues and his infamously inflammatory – or, in some constituencies, virtuous – rhetoric. He who seems the obvious choice is being torn to shreds by his fellow par ty members and his p o te nt i a l co n s t i t u e n c y. Th e y s ay he’s a “M assachusetts M oderate.” They’ve branded him a member of the dreaded “Establishment.” This doubt has borne a phenomenally dramatic contest for the GOP seat in the 2012 presidential election, characterized by mountainous surges and dramatic plummets. I n its controversy, its instability, and its theatricality, this contest has challenged what it means to be a Republican. Tracking the polling averages for the GOP candidates over the last year is fascinating. M itt Romney, despite the name - calling and the blatant criticism from his opponents, has maintained a relatively stable polling average throughout this entire
The fluctuations and fractionalizations of the Republican Party.
time period (the only candidate who still remains in the race with a more even record than Romney is, not surprisingly, Ron Paul). It was only in August of 2011 that Romney first fell second in the polls. His challenger was Rick Perry, the governor of Texas popular amongst Tea Partiers, who later declined in popularity due to the rise of his conservative counterparts, N e w t G i n gr i c h a n d H e r m a n Ca i n (though Perry’s forgetfulness during debates assumedly did not bolster confidence amongst Republican voters). Cain’s popularity was only fleeting, however, due to claims of his alleged philandering and sexual assault, and his departure from the race spurred the enormous surge of perhaps the most controversial of all the candidates: Newt Gingrich. Newt Gingrich isn’t your typical presidential candidate, and that ’s why he gets votes. While all of the candidates are attempting to establish themselves as the anti-Romney candidate, Gingrich is insistent in the wide ideological gap between him and the former governor of Massachusetts. Gingrich faces some severe criticisms himself; he has been accused of being of a lobbyist, and his adulter y is nationally known. But as has been iterated time and time again on all of the news net works, Christians love to forgive. Gingrich converted to Catholicism in 2009, and his devotion to the restoration of Christian faith i n A m e r i c a h a s b ro u g h t t h ro n g s of people to his side, ready to see his acknowledgment of his sins as strength. However, Gingrich has faced the most extreme ups and downs of anyone still in the race, and while his past behaviors may contribute to those fluctuations, there exists suspicion
on both sides of the Republican party in terms of Gingrich’s legitimac y. Santorum and other non-Romney candidates remind their conservative, Tea Party base that Gingrich is far from a political outsider; he served as the Speaker of the House for four years and has been involved in the Washington circuit for much longer. Establishment Republicans don’t care much for Gingrich either. Several Republican members of Congress have spoken to the media in adamant distress regarding Gingrich’s success in the race. Having worked with Gingrich in the past, they are familiar with his volatility and his unwillingness to cooperate. As the Washington Post reports, while more moderate Republicans see this as a potential policy problem, most simply fear that Gingrich’s stubbornness will jeopardize the re - elec tion of many Republican congressmen and congresswomen in 2014. Gingrich’s p re s e n c e h a s d e c l i n e d s i n c e h i s South Carolina win, but even if he is not sweeping up delegates, he has certainly been effective in damaging Mitt Romney’s public appeal. The true Cinderella story of this race comes clad in a sweater-vest. Rick Santorum has astounded political pundits again and again, and he doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon. His grassroots campaigning efforts in Iowa skyrocketed him to the top of the GOP heap. Even though he faltered in the next few states, he has experienced a recent swell in delegates, winning M innesota, Montana, and Colorado. Though his popularity stems primarily from his deeply rooted religious conservatism, S antorum has other appeals. H is speech following the Iowa primary was
eloquent, honest, and yes, different. His message of turning our focus to small businesses struck a populist nerve – an issue with which modern Republicans have often struggled. If there is any argument to be made for Rick Santorum, his contrasts with Romney are probably more valid than any of the other remaining candidates, save Ron Paul ( for more information on Ron Paul, consult the opinion piece in the February 9 th issue of the Independent). How could a candidate who seems t a i l o r m a d e f o r t h e p r e s i d e n c y, with his All-American good looks, inexhaustible financial resources, and extensive business experience, face so much opposition within his own party? For the last few years, perhaps even the last decade, the Republican Party has fragmented. The Right has drifted so far right that conservative candidates like Romney are branded as moderates. The grassroots movement for privatization and independence from government, outlined in both Tea Par t y and Liber tarian circles, has spur red an uprooting of the f o u n d a t i o n s o f t h e G O P. S o m e Republicans love this challenge to the traditionalists. They see real democratic mechanisms operating when outside movements challenge the mainstream. Many Republicans, however, fear that the splintering of their party will lead to instability in the voting base and the ascendancy of a united Democratic Party. Whether a truly united party could ever exist is still up for debate. Christine Wolfe ’14 (crwolfe@college) loves a good rat race.
02.16.12• The Harvard Independent
A Comedian in Blackface Walks into BYU... The societal implications of this week's viral video.
By CLARE DUNCAN
The Harvard Independent • 02.16.12
racist impressions that such ignorance Ackerman’s questions any more suggests. One may extrapolate and eloquently — this, in my opinion, is conclude that this has to do with the bigger problem. Granted, these their setting at BYU, which is less are students at an academically than 1% black out of a student body prestigious university and should of over 30,000 people. One may know better. Yet, the lesson here decide that this does not bode well should quite literally be a lesson: for interracial relations in the LDS black history is American history, and Church and community. However, to know American history, students these are false conclusions to draw must know about bus boycotts and the from this video alone. Fewer than 30 Nation of Islam. students were interviewed, hardly a The second, perhaps more obvious representative proportion of the BYU issue stems from Ackerman’s use of student population. Ackerman says, blackface and the students’ impressions at the end, that only three students of African Americans. Ackerman recognized he was wearing blackface purports to be fighting ignorance —but he doesn’t show Phot with ignorance, but o co urt most op-eds and us these clips, so es y commentaries there could o well be other on this video selective agree that editing u s i n g going on. blackface Clearly pushed out of his idea thousands over the of people, edge, so to there must be speak — it took some somewhere it from something who knows a great deal that could be a potentially more about American (and specifically amusing or interesting idea and gave black) history. it a much more offensive edge. For Rather than inspiring a rant decades, both pre- and post-abolition, about the homogeneity of BYU, this some white actors would put on shows video raises larger issues that have in which they painted themselves in implications on a national level. The blackface and caricatured the way first has to do with knowledge of they believed black people lived history. What should be basic and and acted, enforcing discriminatory necessary facts, like Rosa Park’s stereotypes. Ackerman may be trying name and Malcolm X’s legacy, have to make a point about how few black apparently become intellectual people the average BYU student luxuries. A gaping hole in knowledge encounters, but he does so in such a of black history means a gaping hole controversial manner that it becomes in knowledge of American history, offensive. and for a country that prides itself on The students’ impressions only to its patriotism, this is unacceptable. add to the sad vestiges of racism that We cannot be particularly angry at continue to permeate our society. One these students when chances are the guy pretends to be what can only be average American couldn’t answer described by the word “gangsta,”
Mormon, from Utah, Huffington Post reader, or a follower of race-related current events, chances are you have heard the latest controversy to arise around Brigham Young University. In a fourminute movie posted to YouTube, comedian Dave Ackerman asks students at the LDS university what they know about Black History Month, all while made up in blackface. His questions range from the supposedly obvious query “When is Black History Month?” to “Who are some prominent figures in black history?” to “Would you pretty please do your most stereotypical impersonation of a black person?” (I admit that last one includes seasonings of my own incredulity and cynicism. Ackerman actually says “Every white person has an impression of a black person” and proceeds to have the students demonstrate their impressions.) The students’ answers range from objective statements of fact (“MLK was important”) to rather frightening displays of a lack of basic history knowledge. One student says Malcolm X “was part of the movement in the, you know, to get the black [sic] into the schools.” Another states “he was like, um, bad.” Another responds to Ackerman’s important-figures question with “Who was the lady on the bus? What was her name?” Answers to questions about a black man’s ability to score dates on campus and whether a girl would want a white guy who acts like a black guy are equally as uncomfortable to watch. As concerning as all of this is, however, it’s not necessarily troubling for the reasons that may immediately come to mind. Upon watching this, one may express outrage over these students’ rather narrow knowledge of basic American history and the seemingly f you are a
another does a Snoop Dogg-esque limp-walk combination, and one girl pretends to be black by offering up “Oh hey girl, what you doin’ over there?” Worse than this, in my opinion, are the two separate guys who, when Ackerman asks about dating on campus, say they know girls who have “jungle fever.” One girl claims white guys who act like black guys are “tools,” while black guys who act like white guys are “classy.” I have heard people say before that these sorts of comments are meant to be jokes, just funny little things that everyone knows don’t really apply in real life. It’s precisely this attitude that creates cause for concern. After subjecting African Americans to slavery, emancipation and the subsequent Jim Crow laws, physical violence, explicit and implicit discrimination, and the consequent socioeconomic troubles, is it really fair to say we’re “just joking” when throwing these sorts of stereotypes around? Is it really fair to claim that there are no negative connotations? As rhetorical as those questions were, I plan to answer them anyway: no. This is the ultimate take-away point: What does it say about our society when there are people who know nothing about black history except for the stereotypes? What does this say about our chances for better integration and societal cohesion? Whether there are clear-cut answers to these questions or not, Ackerman’s video transcends basic concerns about BYU and pinpoints much larger issues. Clare Duncan ’14 (cduncan@college) thinks there’s a problem when students can’t tell the difference between a 20th century civil rights activist and a 16th century Bavarian monk.
Family Matters Growing up isn't growing apart. Photo courtesy of WikiCommons
oing to college sometimes
means distancing one’s self from family. It’s easy to get caught up in the psets and extracurricular activities and forget about the people you left to get here. Although I am now far away from the skyscrapers, street vendors, and neon lights back home in New York, I still remember an experience — when I was a young teenager — when it hit me how important my family is to me: All of the boys sat in rows brimming with the blues, greens, oranges, and reds of our gym clothes. Suddenly our loud banter turned into a silent murmur. Mr. O’Hara, the gym teacher, announced that basketball tryouts were taking place. Attending the tryouts would have been better than going home. Home was the dungeon where my mother constantly shouted at me to do the dishes and clean my room. It’s where I have to deal with my parents’ rigid standards; they expect me to be devoted to my religion, family, and education. Although I am Bengali, I feel more American because I’ve grown up here. Yet, my family’s standards have not let me be a typical American teenager, the youth who stayed out late with friends and
indulged in materialistic desires, and seemed to have fun doing it. This was the idea in my head when I decided to stay for basketball tryouts. I knew that staying after school for academic reasons would be acceptable to my parents, but staying for basketball would be out of the question. So I made up a lie to tell my mother. I would say I fell asleep on the bus and missed my stop. This lie would keep me from getting into trouble when I finally did get home. Reassured, I decided it was time to have fun and go play basketball. After school, I went into the gym for tryouts as I had planned. Still, guilt was creeping up on me because my parents did not know of my whereabouts. Yet, I felt a powerful sense of belonging being at the tryouts with my friends. At home, my mom seemed to want to mold me into her version of a perfect boy, and my younger sisters just thought about what they wanted: their favorite TV programs, that Simpsons episode they wanted to see on the computer. I was annoyed of all of my responsibilities and chores; I wanted to be independent. Even as I had fun shooting hoops, I began to wonder if I’d made a mistake by not notifying my parents. They had
By MOHAMMED HUSSAIN the right to know where I was. Still, I thought, they didn’t have that right to boss me around constantly. Suddenly, late into the tryouts, I heard an announcement over the loudspeaker informing me to go to the main office. I knew something was wrong: I had never been called over the loudspeakers before. My footsteps made an eerie noise as I ran out of the gym and through the deserted halls. My hands were numb and my heart beat rapidly. Time seemed to have stopped. When I got there, I saw my mother in her black coat, her embroidered scarlet scarf on her head. I had expected anger, but the tears on my mother’s face surprised me. The way she looked at me — with a mixture of agony, relief, and joy — knocked some sense into me. My mom hugged me tightly, but said nothing. I wanted to know what had happened; her tears were making me more and more worried. Did something bad happen? Was someone hurt? A million questions were racing through my mind. When she had calmed down, I learned that she had thought I was kidnapped. Crying hysterically, she rushed to my school to see if anyone
knew where I was. She had cried during the whole trip, so much that people on the street were asking her what had happened. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. If my mother had not been in tears, I would have laughed at the outlandishness of what had gone through my mother’s mind. Instead, I felt like a miserable, worthless child. I realized how stupid I had been: I had grown older and become so wrapped up in my own life that I had forgotten how much my parents care about me. I had forgotten what it’s like to care about a loved one’s safety. Since that day, I’ve approached my family life differently. I remember that day and how lucky I am to have a family. Even though I am in college now, I call back home frequently to make sure everything is okay. I realize now how important my family is, and how much they mean to me. Even though sometimes I don’t agree with my parents’ strictness and get annoyed by my sisters, I know that, through rain or shine, they will always love me. Mohammed Hussain ‘15 (mohammedhussain@college) calls his mom.
02.16.12• The Harvard Independent
My (Cousin's) Big Fat (Indian) Wedding Part II: Shopping
he thing that irks me most about this week is the day we all celebrate love. Why does there need to be a day to celebrate the most wonderful feeling in the world, when really, it should be celebrated every day? I am not just saying this because I am hopelessly single. I promise. But on a serious note, I think that if there is a day to celebrate love, it should be your wedding day. For a day so special, there obviously needs to be preparation, and just in case you are crazy enough to have a wedding (or two), both Indian, that just means shopping…lots and lots of shopping.
The Clothes: A typical list of wedding outfits usually starts with the bride and the gown. In a Bengali wedding, the equivalent is the saree, called Benarasi. The name originates from the city Benaras, the city where the saree used to be designed. Back in the day, only this city and its skilled workers held the monopoly and the technical know-how to design this saree. Usually, the fabric is silk, with intricate work by gold or silver threads, and they are really, really, heavy. Back in the day, my dad went to buy the Benarasi for his sister (M’s mother) from Benaras. However, now, similarly beautiful designs are
Photo courtesy of Sukanto Deb
The Harvard Independent • 02.16.12
available in Kolkata and specifically, Gariahat, or as I like to call it, the saree central. Obviously, hunting down the perfect Benarasi was a challenge. We probably had to look through stacks and stacks of red silk sarees with beautiful work, one more gorgeous than the other. However, the minute they were draped around M, it was like they lost their sheen, or rather, the way I see it, the sarees fell short of our expectations. Finally, we decided to venture out of the box and ditch red altogether. At last, we stumbled upon the store that my mother had bought her Benarasi from. You should probably be saying at this point, “Stupid Sayantan, why didn’t you go there first?” The answer to this would be, “What’s the fun in that?” I just wanted to go through hundreds of sarees in ten different stores before looking at the obvious choice. We had found it. Yet, the Benarasi, little did I know, was only the beginning, because then there were three more sarees we would need to buy for the bride. The first of these was for the haldi, a ceremony held on the morning of the wedding to prepare the bride for the big day. Usually this involves giving the bride a “facial” of sorts with turmeric, and the saree thus needs to have yellow in it. This time, I wasn’t such a fool, and we high tailed it to
By SAYANTAN DEB the store from which my mother had bought her own saree for the haldi. The second saree was for the day after the wedding, and this too needed to be traditional. We decided on another typical Bengali handiwork, the tashar, and for this, we decided to go north. No, I don’t mean to Kashmir, just northern Kolkata. Finally, because of all of this traditional sarees, we were more than a little annoyed with the lack of variety, so for the final saree we wanted to be nontraditional, nonBengali, and what is more non-Bengali or non-traditional than Bollywood? We decided to end our long shopping spree in a little store on Park Street (named by the British and oh-so-famous for its Anglo-Indian heritage) and bought a Bollywood inspired saree. Little did I know that when the bride’s shopping was done, we were only done with the most interesting aspect of the shopping. We still had to buy another thirtyorsosareesforeveryrelativewehad, and let me just tell you that the Deb family is not small. Let’s just say my grandfather hadtenothersiblings.Iwillspareyouofall of the details of this part of the shopping, a luxury I did not have. The Food: Someone (my father…cough), must have been crazy enough to think that we could pull off feeding three hundred people for six meals without catering. In the end, we didn’t cook everything, but we did have to buy all of the groceries. This probably would have been a lot easier if my mother and I hadn’t decided that every meal had to be unique. As Bengali wedding menus are more than complicated, a primary will be necessary before we actually get to the grocery shopping. The night before the wedding was the night of the sangeet. Traditionally, this is when everyone in the family begins the celebration with song and dance. We had the same idea, but brought in a DJ and strobe lights, and a sound system that literally shook the ground. The menu for this night was Chinese, and it encompassed everything from Manchurian style cauliflower to Schezwan chicken, not
to mention fried rice and appetizers. This meant a whole lot of shopping from Lake Market, an entire area of the city dedicated to the exotic ingredients of the world. There are very few ingredients that aren’t available there, but unlike a Shaw’s, they require searching for. And walking. Lots of walking. The morning of the wedding was probablyalittleeasier;wehadatraditional Bengali breakfast of pooris (puffed bread) and a vegetable curry, and an even more traditional lunch which included the quintessential fish curry. (A little side note: we Bengalis need fish, in just about everything.)Theweddingnight,however, saw about five hundred people and one of the most elaborate menus I had encountered. It was a Mughlai themed dinner — meaning food derived from the Mughal era of India — presumably what ShahJahanatewhilegivingorderstobuild the Taj Mahal. From the lamb Biryani, to chicken chanp (a rich oniony gravy), to goat handi (a rich cashewy curry) to the dalmakhani(arichlentil…yeseverything is rich and spicy), the menu encompassed every form of protein and vegetable available. Just the sheer amount of spiced scared me; the back of our pick-up truck was literally filled with sacks of spices before the event. Let me just tell you that all of our preperation was worth it. The day after the wedding was just as elaborate. After the wedding, to welcome the Ramans to the family, we decided on a moreSouthern-Indianinspiredbreakfast. This was followed by two different kinds of preparations of fish (one steamed, the other a curry) for lunch. If you are wondering how we managed to eat all of this, well, we did, and it was delicious. Although with clothing and food, our shopping had only just begun, I have run out of space for the week. But never fear! Next week takes us to the sultry summer daysofAugust,wherewemettheRamans for the first time. In the spirit of suspense, Namaste until then! Sayantan Deb ‘14 (sayantandeb@college) doesn’t want to shop for quite a while now. That is a lie. He will be hitting Urban’s bargain basement this weekend.
Part III: Whiskey, wine, tequila, rhyme. By TRAVIS HALLETT
“For one human being to love another; that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.” – Rainer Maria Wilke
aga ’ s vision for
“B orn T his Way” was simple. In the video, she gives birth to her own head. The album insert contains pictures of her coated in what can only be the afterbirth. Her third album is insanely personal, and as her most artistic to date, the most beautiful. It’s dedicated to the fans who had loved and adored her from the earliest days when she still had lightning bolts taped to her face. She matured, blossomed, and was reborn. Through this album, she wanted to say that we can be reborn any time we want. Lives can be filled with tragedy and terrible mistakes, but we can be liberated, reborn as ourselves. “Don’t hide yourself in regret / just love yourself and you’re set / I’m on the right track, baby, I was born this way.” With the title track as the only single to reach number one, Born This Way was her first album not geared to the masses. “Judas,” her second single, had a lot of potential with the public, but the US couldn’t handle the religious infusions. Mechanically the same as “Bad Romance,” it tells the tale of a toxic lover to whom she kept returning. “I’m just a holy fool, oh baby, it’s so cruel / But I’m still in love with Judas, baby.” Portraying Mary Magdalene, Gaga, or rather the Haüs of Gaga, directed one of her own videos for the first time. As such, it was pure Gaga: expensive and meaningful. With the late Clarence Clemons on the sax, “The Edge of Glory” was written on the piano as Gaga and her dad took shots of tequila as her grandfather was preparing for his final departure. Gaga wanted to shout out to her fans that you may not reach your glorious moment until your dying
breaths, but be sure to live life on the edge, dancing in the purgatory of uncertainty: “I’m on the edge of glory and I’m hanging on a moment of truth / Out on the edge of glory / And I’m hanging on a moment with you…Another shot before we kiss the other side / Tonight, yeah, baby, tonight, yeah, baby / I’m on the edge of something final we call life tonight…Put on your shades
“I'm gonna marry the night / I won't give up on my life / I'm a warrior queen / Live passionately, tonight./ I'm gonna marry the dark / Gonna make love to the stark / I'm a soldier to my own emptiness / I am a winner…I’m not gonna cry anymore… I'm gonna lace up my boots…I'm a sinner…I'll hold my whiskey up high…I'm a loser. / Nothing's too cool / To take me from
through her fans and the thousands of YouTube videos dedicated to her are just one example of how one normal or freakish person’s belief in you can make all the difference. One fan, Jamey Rodemeyer, uploaded several videos about how much happiness she brought him. Gaga cares about her fans, and even dedicated a song to Jamey at a show last year. But no amount of love from Mother Monster was enough for Jamey to combat the school bullies. That song was dedicated to Jamey because he committed suicide. Gaga has since met with the President, and on February 29 she will be launching, here at Harvard, her biggest effort yet to prevent any more such tragedies. This effort is “The Born This Way Foundation” and its mission, as its website states, is: “This way, towards bravery, where youth are empowered. This way, towards acceptance, where humanity is embraced. This way, towards love, where individuality is encouraged.”
Photo courtesy of WikiCommons
‘cause I’ll be dancing in the flames…. It isn’t Hell if everybody knows my name, tonight/ I’m gonna run right to, to the edge with you / Where we can both fall far in love.” “Marry the Night” is the most important song Lady Gaga has ever written, sung, and released as a single and video. It’s autobiographical, detailing her life when she went back to New York after being dropped from her first record label. The nearly fourteen minute video, directed solely by Gaga, tells the tale. After she was able to collect herself, she did what any girl would do. She picked up her bedazzler and did it all again:
you / New York is not just a tan that you'll never lose…Get Ginger ready climb to El Camino front…Where we make love…Turn the car on and run.” Lady Gaga’s success is her tool to help her fans, especially the ones who are struggling. She had hard times just like anyone else. She was bullied, teased, bulimic, and still is insecure. She made mistakes, horrible ones, and lost very dear friends in the process. While we were in high school she was still doing hard drugs, and today her body is accustomed to the amounts of alcohol people usually outgrow after college. Her love and success permeates
The power of those around you is one of the most important forces of nature. That’s why it’s important to surround yourself with those you love. In the end, our relationships with each other are what matter most. For most, it’s our friends. For those who are misunderstood, there’s an equally misunderstood foster mother around whom they have created an environment where love and acceptance is paramount. She’s an example of what we all need to be doing in our own lives. Otherwise, we’re left alone with a world of people indifferent to our own happiness. Remember this in the midst of the night, the one thing that really matters in the end. So forgive, but don’t forget. Embrace those who care about you. Allow yourself to reach your glorious moment. Travis Hallett ’14 (travishallett@college) hopes that we can all define our real purposes.
02.16.12 • The Harvard Independent
A Modern Fair?
By MARINA MOLARSKY-BECK
A new exhibition of contemporary photography at the Sackler.
hallway opens onto a wall
of faded photographs that seem to be relics of an earlier age. Intricate frames adorned with brightly colored wrapping paper hold images of women in saris and cat eye sunglasses. Some photographs evoke 1980s Bollywood movie stills. Text on an adjacent wall proclaims that this gallery holds Recent Acquisitions, Part I: Contemporary Photographs, the newest sp ecial exhibition at Harvard’s Arthur M. Sackler Museum. For a show of contemporary photography to open with work that so immediately recalls the past is surprising and incongruous. On closer inspection, though, these works are thoroughly modern. The artists, Pushpamala N. and Clare Arni, working in collaboration, draw heavily on nostalgic imagery of India in their Popular Series from the photo-performance project “Native Women of South India: Manners and Customs.” By using a palette of dusty, rich colors, the artists subtly
distract us from the subversive images in their photographs. A row of three men and three women stand, bathed in lemony light, with bags over their heads, as if lined up for execution. A woman with pink and red flowers in her hair grasps a rifle by its barrel. Nearly everyone in these photographs seems to be wearing sunglasses with uniformly dark lenses that sit heavily on the nose and seem to entirely obscure the identity of the figures. The longer one looks at this photo series, the more disturbing it becomes. After a few moments, the brilliant reds and metallic silvers of the frames seem bitterly ironic. If these photographs are relics, they are relics of a crumbling, dysfunctional modern world, one that seduces and blinds us with its artificial beauty. Pushpamala N. and Arni’s work hangs next to other disparate photographs. Included in the exhibit are the following: a large-scale
portrait of a smiling Philadelphia family by Thomas Struth; a series of three seascapes by Hiroshi Sugimoto that read like variations on the horizontal line; Thomas Ruff’s 1027 from the “Machines” series, a heavily digitally manipulated image of an anonymous industrial artifact. These are just a few of the many different subjects treated in the exhibit. Ostensibly the only factors that connect the photographs are their contemporariness and the fact that they are all recent acquisitions. Yet the curators, Michelle Lamunière and Laura Muir, have clearly taken pains to ensure that this show is not just a random jumble of images, rapidly hung in attempt to show as many expensive new purchases as possible. Many of the artists grapple with very similar material. Hung opposite the Popular Series is Michael Bühler-Rose’s photograph, The Conversation, Alachua, FL, which depicts a community of
Hare Krishna, mostly of Caucasian descent, in traditional clothing but gathered around a trailer, perhaps the most American of icons. The stark contrast between the busy, colorful photographs of the Popular Series and the minimalist simplicity of Sugimoto’s seascapes challenges the viewer’s notions of what contemporary photography is. It is astonishing and exciting to consider that artists working today are practicing in such radically different ways. Recent Acquisitions, Part I: Contemporary Photography is on view at Harvard’s Arthur M. Sackler Museum through March 3, 2012. Admission is free for Harvard students. Marina Molarsky-Beck ’15 (molarskybeck@ college) hopes that the Sackler introduces better hours, because sometimes, Sunday is the one day students have time to visit a museum for pleasure.
All the DHall's a Stage DHO does the Marriage of Figaro. By SARAH ROSENTHAL
onverted into a makeshift
opera house, Dunster Dining Hall infused The Marriage of Figaro with an intimacy not typically associated with the most grandiloquent of theatrical traditions. Listening to Figaro and Susanna sing to one another, the former concerned only with the measurements of his marriage bed, the latter distressed over the Count’s advances at her, I felt more engaged with the often understated performance than I might have in a larger hall. In the relatively small hall, Mozart’s music, both played by the orchestra and sung by the actors, had an opacity that kept the audience aware of its presence and role in the narrative. It sounded lively and bright, but acting itself disappointed me at first. For the most part, the action The Harvard Independent • 02.16.12
on stage was extremely simple and limited, and the characters seemed too natural given their caricature-like personalities. With further thought about the production’s choice and with consideration to other features of the show such as set design, however, I realized that this style suited the type of performance. The combination of toned-down acting (which did not hinder the expressivity of the singing) and the small hall made The Marriage of Figaro into something more relatable and accessible than a traditionally played opera. A few key features of the opera pointed out the most important characteristics of the show, the first being the set. Each segment of wall or door on stage was clearly a fragment, as highlighted by the angular, jagged edges that made them
appear to have been literally ripped out of an aristocratic home. These pieces emphasized the fact that the events taking place were not really happening at “The estate of Count Almaviva, just outside Seville,” but that they were really present here, in Dunster Dining Hall. The disproportionately large dining hall chandelier jutting down onto the stage had the same effect. Just as these set pieces put the setting into place, the actors’ performances gave the opera a sense of reality. In particular, Elizabeth Leimkuhler’s ’15 lively portrayal of Cherubino, the Count’s pageboy, highlighted subtleties in the portrayal of the other characters. It is appropriate for Cherubino, a typically mischievous teenaged boy, to have more energy and enthusiasm
than the rest of the people involved in the story. Thus, the emphasis on this character’s quirks brought out the subtler, but still absurd, habits of the other characters. At the end of the show, the overall experience of the performance was extremely satisfying. The music was superb, and each aspect of the production came together to create a different take on a genre that can be difficult to relate to. The sung dialogue seemed as natural as speech, and stage director Stewart Kramer’s invitation to “experience the events of the opera in real time” in the program perfectly captured the unpretentious nature of the production. Sarah Rosenthal ’15 (srosenthal@college) is looking forward to future Harvard operas.
The ballad of April-Marie. By WILL SIMMONS
was a bit of a bring-down. For this reason, I will begin with a story that I hope will make us all feel a little better. William Tell All presents “The Ballad of April-Marie, Part One.” This weekend, my friend and I reached a new low. I forget who suggested it, but we both knew that it was inevitable. I clothed myself, wiped the burrito stains off the corners of my mouth, and trudged down the lonely steps of my entryway. I knocked on her door. “You ready?” I asked timidly. An ambivalent “I guess” was her response. Our feet dragged as we made our way into the square, each step bringing us closer to our horrifying Valentines Day weekend fate. Upon our arrival at the movie theatre, I asked myself if it was worth it. After all, I deserve to retain some shred of dignity! Even though everyone else I knew was with a significant other, or at a party attempting to find one, it seemed to me that my situation could not really warrant my disgraceful Saturday night pity party. Oh, well. We stepped up to the window; I slapped down my credit card and proclaimed to the world, “One for The Vow.” I thought to myself, “Why would I pay to see this? I’ve already seen The Last Song. And Dear John. Miley Cyrus is so talented.” We stepped into the dark theatre, and, as expected, a horde of couples surrounded us. Couples everywhere. Disgusting ones, cute ones, tall ones, short ones, fat ones, skinny ones, oh-my-god-she’s-out-of-herleague ones, crap-he’s-texting-during-adate-I’m-so-embarrassed-for-them ones. We sat down and lowered our heads in shame. There was nowhere you could rest your eyes without being assaulted by images of puppy love. Guess what people, you’re going to break up and then your life is just going to be awful and then you’re going to die. Get your sickening happiness out of this movie theatre so I can enjoy Rachel McAdams’s memory loss in peace. Clichéd transitional phrase alert. All of a sudden, the door to the dark room swung open, and a lone figure entered the room,
realize that last week’s article
popcorn and soda in hand. It wasn’t just any popcorn; it was extra large, the kind that ought to bear a warning label featuring Wilfred Brimley’s iconic mispronunciation. Nothing scares people more than dabeetus. Or is it dabeatis? In either case, it makes a great rap song. Youtube it – trust me. Anyway, this spectral human form sat down in the row next to us. It placed its drink into the holder, and cradled the popcorn with a tenderness I had never before encountered. I soon realized the newcomer was a welld r e s s e d woman who reminded me of a younger M e g a n Mullally. “Her boyfriend must be running late,” I thought. “He probably just had to run to the bathroom.” Minute after awkward minute crept by, and it b e c a m e apparent to me that she was, in fact, attending The Vow alone on a Saturday night. It can’t get much worse than that. I was amazed at her unashamed posture, her silent dignity. She shifted her adorable thick-rimmed glasses that sat atop her shapely nose, and, for a moment, I slipped into reverie. Her name is April. April-Marie Willingham. She always insisted on the
hyphenated spelling, because it sounds more romantic. Born and raised in a small Midwestern town, she defied all odds and moved to New York City to become an actress. Her family told her she couldn’t do it, but April-Marie was determined to follow her dreams. Mr. and Mrs. Willingham didn’t approve in the slightest; they simply could not understand what had gotten into their sweet little girl. April-Marie knew that her parents would eventually understand, however, and teary-eyed, she stepped onto the Port Authorityb o u n d Greyhound. W i t h o u t financial support from her parents, she could only afford a cramped apartment in Queens. Still, she found happiness in her tiny room, because it was her own. She decorated it with pictures of her beloved family and friends. She cared for them deeply, but for the time being, she had to leave them Photo courtesy of Katie Olaskiewicz and listen to her heart. Soon, she landed a few small gigs, and she slowly made a name for herself in the off-Broadway scene, landing leading roles in The Last Five Years and the revival of Nine. While walking down Fifth Avenue on a
bright Saturday morning, coffee in hand, she collided with another absent-minded pedestrian. She was now wearing her caffeinated beverage all over her Goodwill blouse. A soothing voice serenaded her ears, “I’m so sorry miss! Let me help you.” April-Marie looked up, and there was the most handsome man she had ever seen. “My name is Jim. I’m not usually this oblivious!” The breeze gently caressed his brown hair, and the soft sunlight accentuated his blue eyes and pristine teeth. The rest is history. They married and moved to Long Island, where they settled in a humble home with a picket fence and a cute backyard. April-Marie continued to garner critical acclaim, and Jim became a teacher in a local middle school. Love, which seemed for so long to be only a youthful dream, suddenly became wonderfully real. However, all good things must come to an end. Jim did not return home from school on the evening of August 17th, and April-Marie called the local police, knowing that such behavior was entirely uncharacteristic. They told her to wait until the next day. Still nothing. In a week’s time, no one had heard from Jim. A month passed, then a year. The case was closed. Unable to endure the pain of living in their former home, April-Marie moved to Boston to live with a cousin. Its was as if I had found a long-lost sister; her story filled me with a newfound strength to push through the horrible movie I was about to see, as well as the pain of a lonely Valentine’s Day. We can all learn from April-Marie’s story. She can see a movie alone without fear, without shame, without self-consciousness. She has been through Hell, but she still endures, thrives even. If she can find joy in Channing Tatum’s lackluster acting, so can we. April-Marie is love; April-Marie is hope. Will Simmons ’14 (wsimmons@college) hopes he has been able to reach out to all of those singles out there who braved this Valentine’s Day.
02.16.12 • The Harvard Independent
To Lin-finity and Beyond
By MICHAEL ALTMAN
Photo courtesy of WikiCommons
Lin is just the latest in a great year for Harvard Basketball.
ast year, few people were
following Jeremy Lin’s professional basketball career, or lack thereof. He was undrafted and came from Harvard — a bad combination for someone seeking to play in the NBA. Fast-forward a few months, and now, all he does is “lin, lin, lin”. His recent showstopping performances for the New York Knicks have led to “Lin-sanity,” a phenomenon that is beginning to spread beyond New York and into mainstream pop culture. Terrible lin-spired puns aside, Jeremy Lin is beginning to establish himself as a potential star in professional basketball. Lin first made waves two weeks ago in the Knicks’ 99-92 victory over the New
The Harvard Independent • 02.09.2012
Jersey Nets. Lin practically came out of nowhere to score 25 points, far more than he had ever scored in a game previously. He made headlines again in perhaps his greatest performance thus far against the Los Angeles Lakers. Lin contributed a whopping 38 points to the Knicks’ 92-85 victory. However, the high score was not the only way Lin demonstrated his skill. Those watching the game could see how Lin was completely unfazed by superstar Kobe Bryant, the player who was expected to make headlines. Although a few high-scoring games could be considered a fluke on Lin’s part, it takes a certain level of talent and determination to be the underdog and block out one of the greatest players in the NBA for the win.
Most recently, the Knicks beat the Sacramento Kings 100-85. Lin finished strong with 10 points and 13 assists. Though this isn’t as spectacular as his game against the Lakers or as stunning as his buzzerbeater three-point shot to beat the Toronto Raptors, it does indicate that Lin is consistently playing well. If the Knicks’ new phenomenon keeps up his game, it could be the push New York needs to be contenders in the NBA championship. Lin-sanity has also taken Harvard by storm. At a school where few graduates become big names in sports, it is no surprise that Lin’s performance and basketball in general are growing in popularity. The recent success of the Harvard basketball team has also
contributed to this, having made it into the Top-25. Between Lin’s rapid rise and the success of Harvard’s basketball and football teams, it has been a very good year for Harvard athletics. If Lin continues to play well, it will mean more than just success for the Knicks. Harvard’s claim to a potential superstar could offer an oft-mocked athletics program legitimacy. Because Lin shows no signs of faltering, he is likely to make the transition from breakout player to a major force in professional basketball. Michael Altman ’14 (maltman@ college) is all about #LINFTW.
captured & shot By MARIA BARRAGAN-SANTANA
Two days after Valentine's Day, the Harvard Independent is still feeling the love....