ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-NINE YEARS OF EDITORIAL FREEDOM
Thursday, January 16, 2020
Ann Arbor, Michigan
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Community bridges gaps within ‘U’ counseling
Organizations find alternatives to resources provided by CAPS JASMIN LEE & CALDER LEWIS
Design by Lizzy Rueppel
Student Advisory Panel says ‘U’ overlooked input on emmissions
SAP members: President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality ignored comments ARJUN THAKKAR Daily Staff Reporter
Nearly one year after University President Mark Schlissel announced the addition of a Student Advisory Panel to help advise the President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality (PCCN), a group working to reduce carbon emissions on campus, some members of the student panel claim the Commission has sidelined their role. The Commission’s creation followed months of student
activism and protests that urged the University to reduce its carbon footprint. In Schlissel’s video announcing the creation of the PCCN on Feb. 4, 2019, he directed part of his remarks to students, telling them the Commission would value their input throughout the process. “All stakeholders will have opportunities to contribute their perspectives along the way,” Schlissel said in the video. “... I especially want our students to know
that their insights and contributions will be key to the successful future we are seeking to achieve.” Schlissel charged the PCCN with creating four advisory panels, including the SAP, to provide various stakeholder perspectives on the Commission’s focus and work. In the past year, most of the panel’s work has consisted of reviewing the Commission’s reports and providing comments addressing additional issues that the members believed merited inclusion.
According to SAP member Grant Faber, a Rackham student at the School for Environment and Sustainability, there was initially the possibility that the student panel might do research for the Commission as well. He said the PCCN’s co-chairs, Jennifer Haverkamp, director of the Graham Sustainability Institute, and Stephen Forrest, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, had indicated this possibility. See CLIMATE, Page 3A
Daily Staff Reporters
This is the second installment of a three-part series investigating student mental health at the University of Michigan. The Daily interviewed students on campus, students across the country and prominent leaders of mental health to contribute to this series. In part one, The Daily examined student complaints about Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). This part looks at student-led alternatives to CAPS on campus. Part three will discuss how mental health systems work at other universities, such as Michigan State University. The University of Michigan offers resources to complement services offered by the University’s Counseling and Psychological Services — such as peer-to-peer counseling,
A2 raises Center of the City Task Force talks fines for possibilities for library lot at open house parking Residents divided on affordable housing planned on potential site for new park violations MELANIE TAYLOR
Local motorists faced with new increase in ticketing penalties implemented by city ISABELLA PREISSLE Daily Staff Reporter
The University of Michigan plans to increase the cost of parking violations on campus property starting Feb. 1, 2020. The fine for parking at an expired meter will increase to $40, or $30 if paid the next business day. The fine for parking with no permit in a University lot will be $75, or $65 if paid the next day. The city of Ann Arbor has its own traffic laws separate from the University, with meters charging $1.90 per hour of parking. The price of a parking ticket in the city is $25, or $15 if paid the next day. The University fees are more expensive than city fees for the same violations. The Ann Arbor fine for violations such as parking over the legal limit at a meter, parking when no stopping or standing signs are posted and parking in no-parking zones are all $35, or $25 if paid the next day. The biggest difference is the fee for parking in a fire lane. The Ann Arbor violation is $50, or $40 if paid the next day, and the University violation is $100, or $90 the next day.
Daily Staff Reporter
On Wednesday night, about 75 Ann Arbor residents gathered in the SPARK office for the Center of the City Task Force open house. Residents discussed plans for a new park and civic center commons on the library lot between Fifth Avenue and Division Street, as well as improvements to Liberty Plaza, a public park located on East Liberty. The Task Force, a 10-person municipal committee, was established following the November 2018 passage of
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Proposal A, which designated the plot adjacent to the city’s downtown public library for recreational use. Wednesday’s event, in combination with an earlier open house and online survey, will serve as the basis for the Task Force’s recommendation to City Council in February. Task Force Chair Meghan Musolff, Ann Arbor resident and University of Michigan librarian, said the event was meant to “report back” prior comments and provide an opportunity for other residents to voice their opinions about the park
and commons. Musolff said the Task Force aims to incorporate all opinions from the community without bias. Residents discussed three issues: the oversight of the library lot, the existence and extent of a plot of land adjacent to the library and the renovation of Liberty Plaza. These three issues were controversial, Musolff said. The event included three tables where attendees could discuss these issues in small groups, monitored by a Task Force member. “We are here to steward this process, but it’s really
important to me that we gather the feedback, we hear from the community and synthesize that and refer back to it as we develop recommendations and submit them,” Musolff said. “Then it is up to City Council to execute.” Musolff said the Task Force has so far identified community interest in developing both affordable housing and a green, open area that could accommodate different events like protests and community gatherings. See PARK, Page 3A
Wolverine Wellness and Wolverine Support Network (WSN) — but many students told The Daily they were unaware of these resources. In response, students rely on a number of efforts to fill in the gaps of CAPS. While these resources are distinct from the professional counseling services, many of them have affiliations with CAPS. Student Efforts Some students have stepped up to promote positive mental health when they can’t find what they need in University services. Wolverine Support Network, founded by students in 2014 in the wake of two suicides on campus, provides a peer-led alternative to traditional counseling. More than 30 groups of six to 10 students meet weekly for open-ended discussions on their well-being, facilitated by trained student leaders. See CAPS, Page 3A
Council considers limits on Airbnbs Jan. 6 vote discusses ban on non-owner occupied housing within Ann Arbor ANGELINA BREDE Daily Staff Reporter
After the Ann Arbor City Council voted to consider banning dedicated rental houses, Airbnb owners and students who rely on the service expressed disappointment at what they considered an unjust and misinformed decision on the part of the council. On Monday, Jan. 6, City Council held a vote considering the ban of non-owner occupied short-term rentals in the city — including dedicated Airbnb homes. The vote was 9-2, with the majority of council members in support of the ban. City Council has called for city staff to draft potential regulations for shortterm rentals by the end of July. City Council previously held three public forums considering regulations for short-term rentals in October. These regulations considered banning short-term rentals in certain zones, taxing the properties, requiring registration and inspection, establishing a minimum and maximum length of stay for guests and only allowing properties where the owner remains at home during the stay.
ALEX BAKER/Daily Edith Croake speaks at the Center of the City Task Force open house at Sparks Offices Wednesday evening.
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WEDNESDAY: This Week in History
the stupid angry goblin @ lesbianmcdyke guys at umich take one intro philosophy course and be like â€œyea iâ€™d say i think abt things deeply. more abstract. ethically. are u familiar with Aristotle?â€? im begging u to shut up
kd. @k3vxn_ umich professors: yes i allow laptops but i will hate you if you use them
THURSDAY: Twitter Talk
annika @nnikawang ann arbor is fueled by bubble tea and also your cool boyfriendâ€™s indie band
Ryan L. L. Dukes @Rydukes People walking in Ann Arbor donâ€™t care what the light is or what the street sign says, they just walk whenever they feel like it.
Maheen @maheenjelllybean The most Ann Arbor thing I saw today was a guy walking down the street, reading an actual book, in the middle of a snowstorm đ&#x;Ľ° đ&#x;Ľ°
Andrew Gluck @irrvrntVC Seeing some really fire entrepreneurs coming out of @UMich lately... something in the water there?
Weiser Diplomacy Center hosts panel on U.S.-Russia relations
Former ambassadors, journalist discuss changing trends in Russian media NAVYA GUPTA
Daily Staff Reporter
The Weiser Diplomacy Center hosted a conversation about the influence of media and information on the relationship between the United States and Russia on Wednesday evening. Susan Elliot, former US ambassador to Tajikistan, and investigative journalist Yevgenia Albats discussed accessibility to information in Russia and what the U.S. can do to improve its ties with the country. The panel was moderated by Ford School professor Melvyn Levitsky, a former U.S. ambassador to Bulgaria and Brazil. The panel started with a discussion about the accessibility of media in Russia and the platforms that Russians base their opinions on. Albats spoke on the limited range of the Russian media, deeming it â€œdead.â€? â€œRussian media is dead,â€? Albats said. â€œYou can say that it is a dead man walking, but basically there is one internetbased TV channel left, one broadcasting left, there are three, I would say, independent media websites. Thatâ€™s basically it.â€? Albats further emphasized that though Russian media is limited, YouTube has emerged as a new medium for people to access news and information. She also discussed how the
fall of journalism has affected Russian journalists. â€œIt is a huge problem for Russian journalists, especially in my age group, who spend (their) lives in the Russian media organizations and are now left without jobs,â€? Albats said. â€œIt is the same problem that happened back when the USSR collapsed, it is that we didnâ€™t have real investigative journalists who knew how to do the job.â€? Elliot then spoke about the policies the U.S. government has tried to adapt to benefit the Russian people. â€œOne of the things that we tried to do in terms of the U.S. government was look for alternatives to Russian state television,â€? Elliot said. â€œIt is extremely difficult because a lot of it is based on money and advertising and to be able to promote a different voice or a different point of view, especially when the overwhelming control is from Russia.â€? Albats said she believed the period of stability in Russia was coming to an end and the younger generation was going to change the system with their heightened interest in politics. â€œLast summer we saw unrest in Moscow when a lot of young people went out into the streets and about 15-20 were arrested and many went to jail,â€? Albats said. â€œWe see that the generation of those who were born after the Soviet Union collapse are much
less prone to be afraid. They are much more fearless and are more included in politics. They want to see new faces. They are eager to take part in politics and have a say in the decisions that are made.â€? Regarding the issue of accuracy acc uracy in Russian news, Elliot explained how in the past newspapers were deemed reliable but now are not. â€œYou sort of felt like you could rely on something you read in the newspaper, that it was probably true, but now you really donâ€™t know and especially with the influence of others, someone can put news on Facebook and you really donâ€™t know,â€? Elliot said. â€œIt is really hard to sort out fact from fiction.â€? In response to a question regarding the acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community in Russia, Albats said the situation is not black and white. â€œOn the one hand in big cities, people are pretty much accepted. People are getting accustomed to seeing samesex couples. A lot of lesbian couples have children and they are pretty open about it,â€? Albats said. â€œHowever, there are parts of Russia that are totally intolerant, they totally donâ€™t accept any gay relationships. People die there, people are beaten there, they experience a lot of hardships.â€? Albats also discussed Putinâ€™s recent announcement to amend the Russian constitution. â€œToday Putin basically
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dissolved the Russian constitution,â€? Albats said. â€œToday Putin announced that there will be amendments to the very basics of the Russian constitution. Today Putin basically announced the Russian constitution null and void.â€? In an interview with The Daily, Public Policy graduate student Gordon Rooney said the U.S. needs to open up a dialogue with Russia in order to improve ties between the two nations. â€œI think that our diplomatic efforts are engaging with Russia at all levels,â€? Rooney said. â€œThat could be cultural exchanges, academic exchanges, definitely those at the grassroots level. Certainly, the upper echelons of governments have to engage and I think it is critical for a lot of important reasons.â€? Elliot also spoke about how the U.S. and Russia could collectively strengthen their ties in the future and the benefits it would bring. â€œI think itâ€™s time for the U.S. and Russia to look for ways that we can try to open up our dialogue. Russia is probably the only country in the world who could probably destroy the United States of America in a matter of 30 minutes or so because of nuclear weapons,â€? Elliot said. â€œSo at a minimum, we need to have a dialogue on issues of mutual concern. We have to make Russia a part of the solution and not a part of the problem.â€?
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PARK From Page 1A
Ann Arbor resident Freda Herseth said she does not support the use of the library plot for affordable housing. She said it was not what she agreed to when she cast her vote in support of Proposition A. She said it was this disagreement that compelled her to attend the open house. â€œIâ€™ve heard that some of the Task Force may be wanting to change this to include things that we did not vote for,â€? Herseth said. â€œIâ€™m here to try to keep democracy going.â€? According to Herseth and other attendees, the desire to place housing and other private businesses in a building on the library plot is motivated by money. Ann Arbor resident Braxton Blake said he fears City Council may be acting on their own behalf, rather than on behalf of their constituents. â€œ(The library plot has) become a vehicle to sell the quality of our city for the profit of those who have money already,â€? Blake said. When asked what she wanted visitors to say about the City when they leave, Ann Arbor resident Libby Hunter said she wanted people to note the areaâ€™s walkability and uniqueness.
MADISON GAGNE and SADIA JIBAN
See PARK, Page 3A
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CAPS From Page 1A As many students struggle to connect with counselors who are decades older than they are, Hannah Connors, executive director of WSN and Public Policy senior, said she sees a clear benefit to the peer-led model. “People enjoy talking to their peers about their problems because it’s easier to relate to each other,” Connors said. “There’s research that young people turn to their peers first when they’re struggling before going to a professional or a trusted adult just because there’s a lower barrier of entry and it feels comfortable and nonintimidating.” WSN makes a deliberate effort to be accessible, with group sign-ups open all semester at no cost, Connors said. “Maybe you tried to get counseling at CAPS and you’re facing an undesirable wait time, WSN can be another piece of your coping,” Connors said. “It provides people at least some outlet to talk about things if they aren’t able to get into counseling right away.” Other student groups dedicated to mental health promotion include CAPS In Action, Wolverine Wellness PULSE and CAPS Student Advisory Board. These groups actively give feedback to professional University resources. CAPS Director Todd Sevig met with the CAPS Student Advisory Board in December to gauge student preferences on the time of initial appointments and time in between appointments. The meeting also sought student input on nontraditional clinical options such as placing counselors in “non-clinical” settings and virtual appointments. Sevig says CAPS has received all of the Board’s responses and are going through them all. Members of Central Student Government are also looking at ways to make mental health care more accessible. In 2017, CSG recommended improvements to University efforts to be implemented within one year, within one to three years and beyond three years. Many of the goals have been met, including an increased number of CAPS counselors, establishing a firstyear wellness course and revamping the CAPS office in the Michigan Union. However, no progress has been made on the long-term recommendation for a complete CAPS office on North Campus. LSA senior Sulayman Qazi ran for CSG representative to improve the University’s mental health efforts. He said he felt like the resources available on campus were inadequate for transfer students like himself and that they did not take into consideration uninsured students who can’t afford long-term care. “I ran to direct these resources in the right direction,” Qazi said. “Even if I can’t make big changes, I want to at least have a discussion where people recognize the problems that need to be fixed.” Since joining CSG, Qazi said he has met challenges, including a possible tradeoff between more funding for mental health services and raising the student health services fee. “It’s a balancing act,” Qazi said. “You want to have enough money so these services can run perfectly, but at the same time, we don’t want to alienate anybody who might feel they’re putting a lot of money into a system that they’re not using. I’d hope students would look at it from the perspective of the greater community that uses these services.” Wolverine Wellness Wolverine Wellness, the public health branch of University Health Services, is known for initiatives including free condoms in the residence halls, rapid HIV testing and the Stay in the Blue app. It also offers free Wellness Coaching, one-on-one conversations with a trained graduate student to guide students through common challenges of well-being in college. According to Director Mary Jo Desprez, Wellness Coaching represents a shift in strategy from specialized appointments in contentspecific areas such as alcohol, sexual health and body image issues to a more holistic approach in student well-being. “Students come to us as a beautiful combination of lots of those issues,” Desprez said. “They will come see me and say, ‘I don’t know if I used a condom last night because I was so drunk,’ or ‘I’m saving all my calories for the bar.’” Previously feeling isolated as an out-of-state student and a freshman living on North Campus, LSA sophomore Delaney Walsh went to Wolverine Wellness last year and had a positive experience with Wellness
Coaching. “I think it feels like specific care, maybe because there are less people,” Walsh said. “I’ve never been to CAPS but it seems like it’s more quantity over quality there. Wolverine Wellness is nice because it’s smaller and their questions are easily answerable.” According to a Wolverine Wellness report obtained by The Daily, 464 students utilized Wellness Coaching over the past two academic years, but the resource is still not as widely utilized as CAPS, which took in more than 4,500 new clients in just one year. Out of 11 University students interviewed for this story, only one mentioned Wolverine Wellness when asked about mental health resources on campus. While Desprez emphasized that Wolverine Wellness does not offer clinical psychological services like CAPS or UHS, she said the program is looking at a number of avenues to reach students more effectively. “I would say our partnership with Housing is a big one,” Desprez said. “We try to reach out to RAs a lot, and also partnerships with all of our other colleagues. CAPS can refer students and rec sports can refer students. One of the things I’m hopeful for is the syllabus statement. Wolverine Wellness and all the wellbeing resources on campus will be in it, so if you sign up for four classes and see that syllabus statement four times you’ll hopefully be saying, ‘All right already, I get it that Wolverine Wellness is a thing.’” Peer Collaborations In the CAPS 2018-2019 annual report, 36 percent of students said they heard about CAPS from a friend. That is a 12-percent increase from the second-largest category, which is the CAPS website. Sevig told The Daily that students encouraging each other to focus on mental health will increase the usage of all the resources available. “The number one is a friend,” Sevig said. “It’s not (an) email from me. It’s not communications from communications. It’s not our website. It’s not a faculty. It’s a friend. It’s a great recurrence on our campus and it’s different from other campuses. That means two things. One, that there is an increased comfortability among students to actually talk and address mental health. Two, it also means that there’s a huge increase in student energy and advocacy.” Even though Music, Theatre & Dance sophomore Helen LaGrand has never used CAPS, she said she has referred her friends to the service. She recognizes that not all students come to the University knowing the benefits of mental health counseling and that peers are often the link between struggling students and available resources. “I have a pretty good support system outside of school. I’m really close to my family and my parents are really supportive of my mental health,” LaGrand said. “But I have friends who don’t have that support system and it’s really hard for them going to college and not really knowing where to turn to.” In light of the number of students turning to CAPS on the basis of peer referrals, Sevig told The Daily he would like to see more peer collaborations within CAPS. “Another thing is that I would love to see a huge increase and inclusion in peer support and peer counseling,” Sevig said. “I would like to see the possibility of some peer individual counseling, peer programming, workshops, peer education around mental health.” Group therapy is one example of the peer collaborations within CAPS — there are other groups such as #Anxietytoolbox, #Blackgirlmagic and Graduate Women’s Group. CAPS currently runs these programs every semester, developing new ones each year. Sevig said he encourages these group sessions because it encompasses the vision he sees for peer support within CAPS. “The idea for group therapy, support groups and workshops is that you get support from other people, not just the professionals,” Sevig said. “It actually normalizes it.” Faculty Training CAPS created a faculty toolkit explaining how to respond to different situations of students struggling with mental health issues. This toolkit provides negative and positive example scenarios when introducing CAPS in the syllabus, confidentiality and creating an inclusive classroom community, among other topics. Students told The Daily they had experienced both types of situations. LSA sophomore Noelle Seward said she had negative experiences with her professors, emphasizing their lack of empathy when she reached out to them for support. “So many professors go into the beginning of the semester preaching that they’re so understanding about
News mental health and they think that all these things they have in their syllabus are enough,” Seward said. “I feel like my professors were preaching how they’re understanding and that they get it. But when you actually could use some help, they’re like, ‘That sucks for you.’ It’s very crushing. I feel like there are resources, but they’re not accessible to students.” LSA freshman Ishita Shukla did not have trouble with her rigorous classes in high school, but she struggled to adjust when she started her courses on campus. As a result, she said her exam grades faltered and she started to experience exam anxiety. Once she recognized her situation, Shukla said she reached out for help. “I was taking Bio 171 this year and I felt like exam anxiety was getting in the way,” Shukla said. “The course coordinator met with me and she sent me her own list of exam anxiety strategies. I followed it and I did a lot better on my final exam than I did on my other exams.” LaGrand said she saw a lack of community in the large classes she took in LSA. She said she believes that strong social ties in academic settings are important to students’ mental health. “A lot of mental health stuff for me comes from being connected to people. If I don’t feel mentally good, it’s because I don’t feel connected to people,” LaGrand said. “I feel like ways to facilitate more connections in class (is having) professors or GSIs encouraging more conversation between people in classes. This is such a huge school and you’re on the run all the time so you don’t necessarily see the same people all the time.” CAPS Outreach During the Union’s 20-month renovation, CAPS relocated to the Tappan Auxiliary Building. Now that the Union has reopened, Sevig said he anticipates CAPS’ return to its original location will make their office more accessible. “The Michigan Union, symbolically and concretely, is the center of student life,” Sevig said. “We’d also like being in a building where you can come in for many different reasons because while there is drastically less stigma, some students still do have stigma. We’re also not (on the) first floor where there is so much activity. We’re on the fourth floor next to SAPAC and that’s one of the biggest new things that we’ve never had.” A new wellness zone is now open next to the CAPS office in the Union. The wellness zone offers massage chairs, yoga and meditation tools, seasonal affective disorder light therapy and many more resources focused on improving wellness among the student body. Sevig said that he was hesitant about creating a larger wellness zone in space that could have been used for additional CAPS offices, but the positive response to the existing wellness zone on North Campus convinced him to expand it. “That’s why we built the wellness zone. We could have used the space for two or maybe three more small offices for individual work,” Sevig said. “Based on student input and feedback, we tried the wellness zone. I was a little nervous because if students don’t come to it or they don’t use it, that’s when quantity started to increase but students said this a good idea.” Sevig told The Daily that CAPS has made advertising efforts for its own services through orientation, emails, website and paper material given to RAs. A list of additional CAPS-related resources is online for reference when counseling appointments are not immediately available. “What’s cool is that a lot of students who have had some mental health challenges in high school, they find us right away and they seek it out,” Sevig said. “(But) the reality is until you need it at a certain time, it might go in one ear and out the other.” Sevig told The Daily that CAPS was involved with orientation through the Educational Theatre Company and gave a presentation at the Parent Orientation. However, the ETC does not perform at transfer student orientation. Qazi transferred to Michigan from a community college in Illinois. When Qazi attended transfer student orientation, he did not hear anything about CAPS and did not know where to go when he was seeking help. “As a transfer student, in the orientation, I didn’t know about CAPS and all those things because orientation was four hours long,” Qazi said. “So when I was having all these issues, I did not go to CAPS at all. I actually went directly to UHS services and through UHS they would end up referring me to someone else. But initially, before I transferred to Michigan, I would always just go to my Illinois doctors. But at Michigan, it was really confusing and I didn’t know where to go.”
CLIMATE From Page 1A “(The co-chairs) hinted at other ways to get involved,” Faber said. “They said that there might even be some research opportunities, things that they would want the Student Advisory Panel to look into to figure out … maybe the Commission would run into some kind of problem and they would task the Student Advisory Panel with doing some sort of basic research.” The PCCN ultimately delegated this additional research work to eight Internal Analysis Teams (IAT): specialized units composed of both students and faculty that investigated means of cutting carbon emissions. The PCCN’s Fall Interim Report, which was published on Dec. 2, describes this change in the SAP’s intended role. “It was originally conceived that (student advisers) would also provide research contributions on specific topic areas – a role that is now being fulfilled through student participation on the internal analysis teams,” the report reads. Three SAP members allege that the PCCN gave them a short period of time to provide their comments and that the PCCN ignored most of their suggestions. They said the PCCN did make changes to official reports in response to some of their comments, but claimed that these revisions were restricted to changes in phrasing. According to the members, the PCCN never provided feedback for why suggestions were excluded and they did not learn which were included until they saw the final published versions. A member of the panel who requested anonymity due to fear of losing their position on the panel sent an email to The Daily detailing concerns with the PCCN. The member will be referred to as Member 1 in this article. “Commission members have never once responded to SAP suggestions to ask for clarification or to explain their reasoning for rejecting serious concerns that the SAP has brought to them, as representatives of the student body,” Member 1 wrote. Another member of the SAP, referred to in this story as Member 2, confirmed this claim and expressed disappointment with the Commission’s lack of a response to their feedback. “It was frustrating,” Member 2 said. “We felt it was necessary to continue to engage in good faith in this process, but we’re still frustrated with the outcome and the responses that we got from that.” Faber described the SAP’s confusion after seeing little of their feedback implemented in the reports. “(We asked ourselves), ‘Are we on the right track? Is there a reason these things haven’t been addressed? Were these things discussed?’ We’ve just kind of been totally in the dark,” Faber said. In an interview with The Daily, Haverkamp and Forrest explained how the PCCN evaluated feedback to incorporate into the final versions of documents. “I’d say our process with comments from students was the same as our process with input from members of the Commission, which is that we got feedback from multiple sources and weighed and balanced what we got and as a group put together the document that made the most sense,” Haverkamp said. “We valued the input that we got and look very much forward to serious engagement by them when we have recommendations in the spring.” According to three SAP members, the PCCN held two meetings with the entire panel in the Winter semester of 2019. The PCCN also asked the two student members of the Commission to attend the panel’s meetings and relay communication back to the Commission. The SAP members said they haven’t met with the co-chairs of the Commission since their second meeting on April 10, 2019.
PARK From Page 2A “I would like them to say, ‘What a great downtown. Let’s come back, and let’s tell people about it,” Hunter said. According to Hunter, Blake and Herseth, the open plan for the library plot can only exist if the plans for housing and commercial real estate are scrapped. However, not all attendees felt disdain for the library lot being developed into affordable
Thursday, January 16, 2020 — 3A Haverkamp and Forrest have confirmed they met with the SAP twice during the Winter 2019 semester and have not met with the SAP since April 10. However, they said they have not met with any of the other three advisory panels either. Since the last meeting, the student panel has attempted to schedule a meeting with the co-chairs at least four times, beginning in the middle of the Fall 2019 semester, according to Member 1 and Faber. Member 1 and Faber used their suggestions on the Internal Analysis Teams reports to explain how their advice was neglected. They claimed that of the 15 suggestions the SAP made, only three were reflected in the published version. Faber told The Daily he thought the official reports should have discussed the early focus on quick solutions that would reduce emissions, the dates the co-chairs met with the SAP, summaries of issues raised at community meetings and an explanation for why divestment does not fall under the scope of the PCCN’s work. Instead, the three sets of reports focused primarily on logistical matters, including the purpose and structure of the Commission and a timeframe for how it would complete each phase of its work. In the Fall Interim Report, SAP members also sought to include an explanation addressing energy procurement and why Camilo Serna, vice president of regulatory affairs at DTE Energy, had a seat on the Commission. Activists raised concerns about the inclusion of a representative from DTE, a major energy utility serving southeast Michigan, when the Commission was announced last February. The University also has an agreement with DTE to purchase renewable energy from the utility. Member 1 argued the Commission should have taken up the matter in the Fall Interim Report. “There’s serious concern about the fact that the vice president of corporate strategy of DTE is on the Commission itself,” Member 1 said. “If we publish this report … and nowhere is it mentioned how we’re procuring our energy and who we’re buying it from and how that could potentially be the biggest way that U of M impacts the state of Michigan and emissions beyond its own campuses … it’s basically going to be seen as validating the concerns that have been raised for more than a year.” The Daily obtained a series of memos written by the SAP including recommendations for the Commission. The memos, dated Oct. 24, 2019, request that the Commission address structural and planning issues in advance of preparing its final recommendations, including a justification for every SAP suggestion the PCCN did not include in its documents. In an email to The Daily, Faber, one of the five students who signed the memos, said the other members have been discouraged by the PCCN’s general lack of a response and that attendance at SAP meetings has begun to decline as a result. “Attendance was pretty high in the last couple months of the 20182019 school year but really dropped off once we got back for the 20192020 year,” Faber wrote. “We used to have ~12 at meetings and now it is down to maybe five or so per meeting. We were told there would be meetings over the summer on something like Skype, but this did not happen once.” Faber credited this dropping attendance to a feeling that their work did not matter. “There are intelligent and highly accomplished students on the SAP,” Faber wrote. “My theory is that they stopped coming because they began to see it as a waste of their time rather than out of laziness or a lack of caring.” Some SAP members said the PCCN never formally discussed the structure of the panel, leaving students confused about how often the panel would meet and what the
objectives of the meetings would be. The two student members of the Commission — Engineering doctoral student Austin Glass and Engineering junior Logan Vear, Climate Action Movement president — serve as liaisons to the SAP, attending both group’s meetings and relaying communications between the panel and the Commission. Both Glass and Vear declined to comment for this article due to confidentiality agreements they signed with the Commission. Member 2, who also signed the memos, said they wrote the memos in an attempt to clearly communicate their concerns to the Commission. “We wanted to make sure that all of the concerns that we considered serious were contained in one place to provide an easy response course for the Commission,” Member 2 said. “They were extended in good faith that the Commission was considering student concerns, and the lack of response seems to indicate the opposite of that.” Three SAP members told The Daily they have received no formal response to the memos they sent to the Commission, though the Commission has recently agreed to schedule a meeting with the panel after weeks of back-and-forth communication. At the time of the interview, Member 1 expressed frustration at the lack of a response to the memos and the inability to find a time to meet. “The fact that they have not agreed, not even responded to that request, let alone implemented it, has been really, really discouraging as somebody who has spent a lot of time trying to work within this process and represent and work in good faith,” Member 1 said. “It’s really hard to still believe that we are not actually just being used as a marketing ploy.” The co-chairs, Haverkamp and Forrest, said shortly after they received the SAP’s memos, they began the process of scheduling a meeting with the SAP to occur in the near future, where they plan to discuss how they assessed each recommendation that they received. “We absolutely read everything, took it all into consideration,” Forrest said. “We are looking forward also to our meeting with them… that’s the time when we want to go methodically through with them what was considered with each and every recommendation so that we can fill the gaps and understanding about what they think or what they feel became of certain recommendations.” Haverkamp and Forrest said the advisory panels will become more involved in the future as the PCCN prepares to deliver its final recommendations to Schlissel. Member 2 said they were hopeful that the upcoming meeting with the co-chairs would be productive. “Meeting face to face with people is an important way to help ideas be understood between parties, and I think there’s plenty of options and ways the PCCN can make this into a really powerful experience both for the students who are involved and the community and really be able to push towards carbon neutrality with all the resources and brainpower that we have here and in the area,” Member 2 said. While Member 2 seemed optimistic for the future, Member 1 expressed skepticism in regards to the University being able to take decisive action to lower emissions on campus. They argued that external pressure from activists was driving the institution to address the issue. “U of M has been way off target in terms of addressing climate change,” Member 1 said. “The only reason we have this Commission in the first place is because of years of student advocacy on this front … I believe that we are only here because of people advocating and forcing the administration to form this Commission and have some sort of response to the claims that they are basically asleep at the wheel as we’re careening towards catastrophe on a global scale.”
housing. Ann Arbor resident Zachary Storey spoke to the group about a period of time in which he experienced homelessness and would have benefited greatly from affordable housing or convertible furniture, which can be used as beds after dark. Despite calls for more affordable housing in Ann Arbor, some attendees said there are other sites in the city that have been designated for development. They said residents should pressure City Council to proceed with those plans without
undermining their open, green vision for the library plot. Ann Arbor resident Saharsh Hajela is a University alum who went to work in Ann Arbor immediately following graduation. Hajela said he came to the event to become more involved in his community, but feared older residents would “villainize” certain types of people occupying the park.
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4A — Thursday, January 16, 2020
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OWEN STECCO | COLUMN
Our need for labels underscores our discomfort with the LGBTQ+
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KIANNA MARQUEZ | COLUMN
Campus carbon neutrality efforts should prioritize reevaluation
ince the spring of 2019, the University of Michigan campus has experienced several major events regarding how we — the city of Ann Arbor and University campus — are responding to the current global climate crisis. Some of the major events include two climate strikes and one recent incident in which civil protesters were arrested. At the same time, the University’s administration took its first major strides toward reducing the detrimental effects of our campus on the climate. Since the launching of the President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality in February 2019, we can certainly consider the action taken by the University thus far as satisfactory and progressive. However, going forward, it’s important to recognize that some aspects of the commission’s plan should be adjusted to better serve the public opinion toward how the climate crisis should be addressed in our city. The President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality is composed of faculty, students, local administrators and other local partners. It was formed to address several responsibilities and a timeline for creating a final recommendation to University President Mark Schlissel for how administrative action should be taken to achieve carbon neutrality. The timeline — beginning in Fall 2018 and ending in Fall 2020 — is divided into three phases, throughout which the commission is expected to achieve specific goals. Given the actions currently outlined in the timeline, there should be a general designated effort to reevaluate this process of composing a final plan for Schlissel in order to consider implementable improvements to the process along the way. This would allow the commission to improve the execution of its purpose: to evaluate the ways in which the University can achieve carbon neutrality and sustain it for the future. The first phase of the PCCN plan, spanning from February 2019 to November 2019, deals with creating plans to address the major challenges of achieving carbon neutrality and establishing a shared understanding among commission
members of these major challenges going forward. Specifically, the commission is set to define a plan to address the complexities of carbon neutrality, educate community members on their work, secure the expertise necessary to evaluate complexities, create a unanimous outlook on these complexities and compose an interim progress report. During these months of the first phase, the commission has successfully begun to evaluate forthcoming challenges and establish an all-encompassing perspective of which areas on campus need adjustments and which subsequent areas will be affected by the predicted adjustments. However, the commission lacks prioritizing a mentality of reevaluation as they engage in the process of determining the best way to approach the challenges of achieving carbon neutrality. In that way, this commission should constantly reevaluate whether or not their approach to addressing these challenges continues to be successful. This allows the commission to make alterations necessary for improving the process. The second phase of the PCCN plan, spanning from November 2019 to May 2020, deals with evaluating options shown by analyses teams and continuing to establish a shared understanding among commission members of the major challenges in achieving carbon neutrality. Specifically, the commission is set to engage experts in informing analyses teams, evaluate recommendations made by analyses teams, further define aspects of the challenges, create a unanimous outlook on these challenges and compose another interim progress report. During the months of this next phase, I find that the commission could benefit more by establishing permanent staff positions in analysis teams in addition to the faculty advisors that lead them. More importantly, I find it imperative that the commission works to expand both staff and student involvement in the social justice sub-group because of the
important correlation between poor environmental conditions and significant socioeconomic disparities. In that way, this commission should continue building their staff and other administrative personnel involved in their analysis teams and subgroups in order to create the most informed and well-versed evaluations of the challenges as possible. The third phase of the PCCN plan, spanning from May 2020 to December 2020, deals with making final consultations and creating a final report for achieving carbon neutrality to Schlissel. Specifically, the commission is set to allow stakeholders to evaluate final recommendations, draft a final list of recommendations for public input and deliver a final revised report to Schlissel. During the months of this final phase — and realistically for each of the phases — the outcome of the commission could be most satisfactory if public engagement is prioritized during the process. In that way, this commission should work to promote public involvement further and continue to emphasize the importance of discussing actions taken for our campus and our city to become carbon neutral. Above all, I encourage everyone — as a community and as a public student body — to involve yourself more in the plans and developments currently being made in our city in order to have an influence on this system that is made to serve us. The President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality exhibits great intentions that our campus should be proud of, but that they could benefit from the feedback and input we give about the policies they materialize in their report to Schlissel on how to approach achieving carbon neutrality. In the end, this effort will take the involvement of everyone in order to be successful, and we ought to feel concerned about our future whether we want to work for it or not. Kianna Marquez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
KEVIN MOORE JR. | CONTACT CARTOONIST AT KEVJR@UMICH.EDU
ith the release of his newest album and a stark gender-bending fashion sense, musician Harry Styles became the latest victim of intense questioning and pressure to label “what” he was. We frequently see this labeling game take place when a gay, lesbian or bisexual person marks their “coming out.” But what does a formal statement translate to when it comes to everyday interactions with LGBTQ+ individuals? It seems to be a way for people to compare that person to a stereotype they already have formed in their heads for their own comfort and understanding. The labels we rely on to describe members of the LGBTQ+ community serve to limit them and reflect our need to stick to what we already understand, rather than challenging our preconceived notions of sexual identity and gender expression. Many of the labels slapped on members of the community dictate the way others perceive a person, rather than relying on personal connections formed. Referring to your friends as your “gay best friend” or “trans friend” limits them and often puts them in an uncomfortable or vulnerable position before they even have a chance to speak. In addition, it reflects a need for straight individuals to prove something of themselves as if having a gay friend is an accessory to wear. With these labels branded on the community’s forehead, individuals feel as though they’re filling a role and satisfying someone’s stereotype of how members of the LGBTQ+ community are supposed to be presenting themselves. This pressure to satisfy stereotypes and be understood is reflected across popular culture. Recently, Styles was interviewed by The Guardian, where he was pushed to define his sexuality after they accused him of pandering to the LGBTQ+ community. To the question of sexuality, he responded, “Who cares?” The theories spread
MARY ROLFES | COLUMN
across social media and the influx of articles pinpointing his sexuality based on clues reflect society’s need to label and place individuals into palatable and comfortable boxes. Styles went on to add that he dresses “not because it makes me look gay, or it makes me look straight or it makes me look bisexual,” but rather without labeled boundaries of feminine or masculine. His general indifference to the question and desire for ambiguity in his identity are reflective of the approach society should strive for. The societal desire to label someone or something as “gay” or “lesbian” emulates a sense of power over the community by deciding what their identity says about them and how they are to be viewed within the confines of a stereotype. Furthermore, the boxes individuals are placed in allows for society’s perception of that identity to confine someone and steer them towards traditional paths or be deterred from activities, based on the way they’ll be perceived. These labels historically carry negative connotations and can be oppressive, thus leading to a second-class status for the community. Straight people already understand the malice in these labels when they are offended by someone who mistakenly refers to them as LGBTQ+, as seen with Shawn Mendes’ case of feeling pressured to prove that he’s not gay. “Coming out” is a held practice in which those in the LGBTQ+ community publically define themselves in an effort to distinguish themselves and begin the cycle of labeling. The process ostracizes those who hold these identities because straight individuals feel no pressure to announce their sexuality to others, rather it is presumed. By “coming out” we seemingly make the process of labeling and understanding easier for straight individuals who otherwise would not have known what to refer to us as. This societal desire to label becomes even more complicated for
those who fit multiple categories or fall into a gray area, such as those who are bisexual or pansexual. With less available stereotypes and a need to pin a person down, the idea of “percentages” arises, which is a common practice of determining how gay or straight a bisexual or pansexual person is based on what gender they prefer more or less. With this confinement of sexual expression, people often perpetuate bisexual erasure by limiting their sexuality to a category more comfortable to them instead of embracing their fluidity and actual orientation. Bisexual erasure and the need for labeling are not limited to the straight community, rather it is perpetuated through the LGBTQ+ community by an added pressure of categorizing yourself within your overarching label. This is especially prevalent in the dating scene as many LGBTQ+identifying individuals present themselves in “tribes” and express their preferred label, leading to hierarchies and perpetuating the toxic behavior exhibited by oppressors. The systemic desire to label and limit others reflects society’s discomfort with the LGBTQ+ community because it demonstrates the need for us to fit a stereotype to be understood. This practice of labeling stretches from simple “coming outs” to chart-topping musicians when someone strays from society’s expectation of expression. Instead of using labels for individuals, rely instead on similarities, passions and connections to humanize a person rather than belittling them to a comfortable stereotype. Assigning labels to members of the community perpetuates the less-than-understanding that comes along with stereotypes and limits rather than liberates. Owen Stecco can be reached at email@example.com.
Minding the orgasm gap
hile the 1989 romcom classic “When Harry Met Sally” may seem a little too old to be relevant on the modern college campus, one of the movie’s most climactic moments has become a cultural icon. Whether they’ve seen the film or not, most people would likely recognize the scene in which Sally challenges Harry’s ability to tell a real orgasm from a fake one, giving a loud demonstration of the latter in a crowded café and producing the often-repeated line, “I’ll have what she’s having.” This scene serves as one of the most pervasive on-screen portrayals of the female orgasm — quite telling, then, that the orgasm depicted is unambiguously fake. To the film’s credit, the scene probably wouldn’t have had the chance to become so iconic if the orgasm was not explicitly fake. While the film did receive an R-rating for profanity and vulgarity, it almost certainly would have been hit with a highly restrictive NC-17 rating had they shown Sally sincerely enjoying sex — especially oral sex. That’s right — the MPAA considers both drug abuse and intense violence more appropriate for viewing by children than the explicit female orgasm, despite the fact that women are often highly sexualized in popular films. Simultaneously portraying women as sexual while refusing to acknowledge their pleasure contributes to the prevalence of female objectification. Even the theoretically equivalent male orgasm is widely viewed as more acceptable to show in movies. This orgasm inequality is certainly not limited to the silver screen. The existence of a gender pay gap is established and well-known, but women are consistently shorted fair compensation in many measures beyond their salary, including the frequency of achieving the Big O. Female college students consistently report having an orgasm during intimate encounters — both within hookups and relationships — less than their male counterparts, with the largest difference being an astounding 32 percent. As I’ve said previously, emotional and mental factors are just as crucial to safe, healthy sex as physical factors. This includes the recognition and fulfillment of desires and pleasures. It’s about time we come to widely acknowledge closing the orgasm gap as part of the fight for gender
equality. We need to get comfortable talking about it, too, as open discussion is often an important step in the path toward reconciliation. We have a lot of catching up to do, but improving our personal and cultural understanding of the female orgasm gives us a good place to start. While the term ‘orgasm gap’ is fairly new, gender inequality in terms of sexuality is not a recent development. Women have been receiving the short end of the stick when it comes to sexual pleasure for centuries. In fact, female sexual desire was so misunderstood it used to be pathologized as hysteria, a diagnosable illness in need of a cure which — somewhat ironically — led to the invention of the vibrator. Hysteria remained in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders until 1980, and while it has since been removed, gender inequalities when it comes to the understanding and acceptance of pleasure and desire remain an issue. The statistics about orgasm frequency demonstrate the results of this misunderstanding. According to a 2017 article from the Archives of Sexual Behavior, heterosexual men are most likely to orgasm from sexual intimacy, while landing in last place is — you guessed it — heterosexual women. It’s not even close, either, with 95 percent of heterosexual men reporting they usually orgasm during sex, compared with just 65 percent of heterosexual women. This already significant difference widens to 52 percent when the population is narrowed down to college students, with just 39 percent of female respondents reporting they usually or always experience orgasm during partnered sex in one survey. These numbers make it clear that the issue of orgasm inequality is undeniable, especially on college campuses. Obviously, this massive gap isn’t going to close itself, and in order to realize statistical improvements, we need to recognize the factors leading to inequality. Laurie Mintz, a psychology professor at the University of Florida, cites cultural misunderstandings and myths surrounding female anatomy as the “number one reason for the orgasm gap,” along with inaccurate media depictions of sex and the under-valuing of female sexuality — especially when compared to the over-privileging of male sexuality. This over-privileging includes the
cultural definition of penetrative sex as the primary form of sexual behavior — it’s widely considered the “main event” in any intimate encounter, with other behaviors being secondary supporters of penetration rather than independent and equally valid forms of sex. In fact, many people don’t even believe sex without a penetrative element to truly be ‘sex.’ This creates issues for people of varying gender and sexual identities (for example, the cultural question of “How do lesbians have sex?”) including heterosexual women. Their desires, pleasures and, yes, their orgasms, are neglected and reduced as a result of the heteronormative prioritization of penetrative sex. With the scale of the orgasm gap established and the factors that create it laid out, we can work to mitigate, and possibly eliminate, this inequality. First, we’re going to need to do a bit of brushing up on our anatomy. Ideally, American sex education should be improved to include a more comprehensive understanding of sexual desires and pleasures and their connection to anatomy. But for those of us beyond high school sex-ed, our learning likely is of our own initiative. Luckily enough, the Internet provides a vast number of resources for learning more about female anatomy. The University of Michigan offers some resources, as well, and if you have time between double majors and distribution requirements, consider using a few credits to take a course on women’s health. On a macro-level, we need to reassess our cultural agreement on what constitutes “real” sex. Instead of heterosexual penetration being considered the ultimate form of sex, we must begin to see it as one of many equally valid forms of intimacy. This societal reconsideration of sex will be a continuous progress, as will closing the orgasm gap. But a dedicated progression toward improvement should certainly be seen as a form of success. The day when we can all “have what she’s having” — in equal proportions, of course — can’t come soon enough. Mary Rolfes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Thursday, January 16, 2020 — 5A
LBs coach Campanile to Dolphins, Wolverines suffer defeat in opener Michael Dwumfour to grad transfer ALEX WALKON
Daily Sports Writer
Managing Sports Editor
Just one day after Rutgers hired Robb Smith as its defensive coordinator — seemingly meaning that Michigan would retain linebackers coach Anthony Campanile — Campanile is gone. The New Jersey native has accepted a job as an assistant coach for the Miami Dolphins, per Yahoo’s Pete Thamel. His role is unclear as of now. Retaining Campanile had been of utmost importance for the Wolverines, especially after former special teams coordinator Chris Partridge left to take a defensive coordinator job with Ole Miss. Campanile, a New Jersey native, is from the state and played college football as a linebacker at Rutgers from 2001-04. Those ties helped him with recruiting efforts in New Jersey, where Michigan has found fertile recruiting ground under Jim Harbaugh. The Wolverines have now lost their two coaches with the strongest ties to the state. Rutgers and Michigan had fought it out for Campanile’s services over the last few weeks, with Campanile eventually turning down the Scarlet Knights’ defensive coordinator job. According to NJ.com, he was expected to get a pay raise at Michigan, with a potentially new title. His name had also come up in rumors for Boston College’s defensive coordinator job. Campanile will owe Michigan 25 percent of his $415,000 annual salary under his buyout clause. The Wolverines now must replace two of their assistant coaches. Under Harbaugh, Michigan has yet to go an offseason without turnover on the coaching staff.
Redshirt junior Michael Dwumfour announced his decision to transfer.
Managing Sports Editor
In a blow to Michigan’s 2020 defensive line, defensive tackle Michael Dwumfouor announced Tuesday afternoon that he had entered the transfer portal. “My time here at Michigan has come to an end, these past four years has been some of the best time of my life,” Dwumfour wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. “I’ve learned and matured so much here, I’ve built relationships with people that will last a lifetime. I would like to thank Coach (Jim) Harbaugh, Coach (Don) Brown, Coach (Shaun) Nua, Coach (Ben Herbert) and staff and the athletic training staff for all they’ve done for me. With that said, I have entered the portal and will be a Grad transfer. God Bless.” In 2019, Dwumfour finished with nine tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss, getting rotational snaps on the
interior and starting against Indiana and Ohio State. He did not travel with the team to the Citrus Bowl against Alabama after undergoing a medical procedure, news that Dwumfour revealed via an Instagram post in which he was at a Detroit Lions home game instead of in Orlando with the team. As a graduate transfer, Dwumfour will have immediate eligibility wherever he goes. In 2020, Michigan will be dependent on Chris Hinton and Mazi Smith, who redshirted last season as freshmen, to take a step forward on the interior. Though it seems likely that Carlo Kemp will be granted a fifth year of eligibility and retain his starting spot, nothing has been made official. Jess Speight also worked himself into the rotation towards the end of the year, including in the Citrus Bowl. The Wolverines’ defensive line ranked 12th in sack rate and 25th in opposing line yards, per Football Outsiders.
These past four years have been some of the best time of my life.
Michigan’s No. 5 singles player, junior Harrison Brown, found himself down, 5-2, in the third set of what had become the deciding match of the evening. Brown immediately responded to the adversity with an ace. He added two more on his way to tying the match, 5-5. Yet North Carolina State’s Tristan Smith ended Brown’s comeback in a crushing tiebreaker, sealing the match for the Wolfpack. Late-game heroics were a common theme at the Varsity Tennis Center Wednesday evening, as the 17th-ranked Wolverines (0-1) fell to No. 23 North Carolina State (1-0), 4-3, in their season opener. A combination of finesse and domination at the net allowed the Wolfpack to jump out to a lead in all three doubles matches. The No. 1 doubles tandem of sophomore Andrew Fenty and junior Mattias Siimar were able to counter their early deficit through a clinic at the net to notch a 6-4 victory. With the doubles point hanging in the balance, the duo of senior Connor Johnston and Ondrej Styler found themselves down, 6-5. The one-two punch of Styler’s serve and Johnston’s net play helped them climb back, taking the set, 7-6, and earning the Wolverines their first point of the match, and the season. Styler struggled in his debut at No. 2 singles against Tadas Babelis, quickly falling behind in a 6-3 firstset defeat. The more experienced Babelis was able to stall Styler’s secondset surge, securing a 6-4 victory, winning the match for the Wolfpack. Siimar found himself in a highly-competitive No. 3 singles match. Endless rallies became the norm as he and Yannai Barkaie traded blows. The seasoned Siimar was able to pick and choose his moments en route to a 6-4, 6-2 victory.
Nick Beaty’s crippling groundstrokes propelled him to a 6-2 first-set victory in his No. 6 singles match against Martins Rocens. Rocens came out firing in the second set, earning a 4-1 lead and capping off a 6-3 victory with an ace. Beaty’s continued baseline dominance helped him prevail in a 6-3 third-set victory. At No. 4 singles, Johnston’s ability to track down any ball was quickly put to the test against Rafa Luque’s pinpoint accuracy. The senior rose to the occasion after dropping the first game to take 5-2 break. Luque came storming back, rattling off five straight games, handing Johston a crushing 7-5 first-set defeat. “The thing with him is he has to serve better and he would be able to hold on to those leads a little bit easier,” Michigan coach Adam Steinberg said. “He’s a senior he’s got to control that.” Johnston flipped the script in the second set, winning three straight games after falling behind, 4-1, albeit in a 6-4 losing effort. “He fought back, he always will,” Steinberg said. “He’s an amazing fighter. He loves college tennis so much.” In his debut at No. 1 singles, Fenty lost his first six points, quickly falling behind and losing the first set, 6-1. The reigning NCAA Rookie of the Year came out rejuvenated in the second set, jumping out to a 4-1 lead in a dominant 6-1 first-set
victory. “He competed great,” Steinberg said. “In the beginning of the second set he hung in there, still wasn’t playing great, but he fought through some tough games.” Fenty found himself down 4-3 in the third set, but quickly recaptured the momentum with an emphatic ace followed by a swinging volley that ignited an “Andrew Fenty” chant resonating throughout the Varsity Tennis Center. Nevertheless, Alexis Galarneau kept Fenty’s hot streak at bay, taking the next break, 5-4, and winning the set, 6-4. Brown’s valiant comeback effort was the silver lining in a heartbreaking ending for the Wolverines. “To see that was great, almost a victory in itself for him to get all the way to being up, 3-1, in the breaker,” Steinberg said. “He started to really play aggressive and really hit the ball and he’s capable of that.” While resilience was on full display for Michigan, it didn’t show up on the scoreboard. “Our movement and racket speed at the beginning of matches needs to be better,” Steinberg said. “I thought we needed to warm up before the match with better intensity and better fight. “I think our guys were like, ‘Oh wow, this is college tennis again. I forgot how hard these other teams are gonna fight against us.’ I think they got a wake up call. It takes a lot to get four points against these teams.”
Junior Harrison Brown suffered a narrow defeat in Michigan’s loss Wednesday.
Release Date: Thursday, January 16, 2020
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48 Result of a poor investment 50 Crème de la crème 53 Commercial charges 55 German city where the Bauhaus movement began 56 Vegas __ 57 Where embryos grow
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6A — Thursday, January 16, 2020
The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com
Wagner gaining coaches’ trust Turnaround doable for Wolverines CONNOR BRENNAN Daily Sports Writer
Months ago, during Michigan’s media day, associate head coach Phil Martelli raved about freshman forward Franz Wagner. “He’s just different,” Martelli said on Oct. 17. “I suggest, if you’re on the fence or there are tickets available, get your tickets. You’re gonna want to see this kid play.” Fans soon learned they’d have to wait when Wagner fractured his wrist in practice just three days later. He missed the first four games of the season, which the Wolverines won, before making his muchanticipated college debut in the first game of the Battle 4 Atlantis against Iowa State. He scored six points in 23 minutes against the Cyclones. Like any freshman, Wagner was inconsistent in the games that followed. He had to adjust to the pace and physicality of college basketball and acquaint himself with a new team and coaching staff. Wagner backed up Martelli’s praise in games against Iowa and Oregon, scoring 18 and 21 points, respectively. Bracketing his performance against the Hawkeyes, though, he scored a combined nine points on 4-for-14 shooting in losses to Louisville and Illinois. Wagner’s season so far can largely be characterized as up and down, boom or bust, occasionally thriving and occasionally struggling — all to be expected from a freshman. And yet, his confidence and Michigan coach Juwan Howard’s confidence in him has steadily increased over time. Lately, Wagner’s shot attempts and minutes have climbed considerably. The former might be a direct result of the latter, but both come at a time when the Wolverines are trying to fill the void left by injured starter
Isaiah Livers. In the last three games, Wagner has scored doubledigit points and played 111 of 130 minutes. More notably, in the past two contests against Purdue and Minnesota, Wagner put up a combined 29 shot attempts. While he hit just six in each and Michigan split the two games, Wagner’s willingness to shoot is a welcome sight. “I give it to Franz pretty much everyday at practice,” senior point guard Zavier Simpson said after last Thursday’s win over the Boilermakers. “I tell him to stop passing up shots, knock em down. I don’t pass it to him just because he’s open. I pass it to him because he’s open and I believe he can make the shot. “I told him to shoot the ball … I think it was early in the second half. We were being too unselfish. Trust yourself to make a play.” With Livers out indefinitely, the Wolverines have needed Wagner’s scoring from the wing. Even when Livers returns — rumblings are that could be this Friday against Iowa — they’ll still need it. Michigan’s depth has recently come into question. After a hot start to the season, junior guard Eli Brooks’ production has tailed off. In the last four games against major conference opponents — Oregon, Michigan
State, Purdue and Minnesota — Brooks has shot 27.5 percent from the field and averaged just 4.3 points per game. Brooks isn’t the only one who’s struggled. On any given night, senior center Jon Teske, the team’s leading scorer, could find himself relegated to the bench because of foul trouble. While sophomore guard David DeJulius and sophomore forward Brandon Johns Jr. have provided a spark defensively, their scoring production has been inconsistent all year. As the Wolverines continue through Big Ten play, with or without Livers, Wagner is going to have to be a threat offensively. There’s only one way to do that though: shoot when given the opportunity. “Yeah, I’m feeling good when I shoot it,” Wagner said following his 17-point outing against the Golden Gophers. “I’m gonna stay aggressive.” His shooting percentage isn’t necessarily stellar, but given his skill set, those shots should eventually fall. As Martelli, who’s been coaching for over 40 years, added on media day: “He’s a guy that you come to practice everyday and then you leave scratching your head. To be that age, to be that cerebral and to be that pure — not to put too much pressure on him but he’s a rain man. He’s a savant.”
Freshman forward Franz Wagner has seen increased usage in recent games.
BRENDAN ROOSE Daily Sports Writer
By many standards, the Michigan women’s basketball team has had a rough few weeks. Since Dec. 22, the Wolverines have endured three matchups against ranked opponents, resulting in a loss to Florida State and two to Maryland — the last of which being a 77-49 blowout — plus a loss at unranked Ohio State. In these defeats, Michigan suffered just about every problem a basketball team can face, from turnovers to cold shooting to defensive collapses. Still, during that span, the Wolverines managed to pick up blowout victories over Penn State and rival Michigan State. Though these wins do little to numb the overall disappointment from this stretch, they show Michigan is still capable of competing at a high level — if it’s having a good day. The Wolverines will need a lot of good days to salvage this season. The Big Ten is having one of its best seasons in recent memory, with Indiana, Maryland and Iowa all cracking the top 25, plus Rutgers and a surprisingly tough Northwestern team both receiving votes. “Every year, I say (the Big Ten) is getting better and better. But this is arguably the best that its ever been,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “Obviously they’re talking about 10 teams being in the NCAA Tournament, so from top to bottom the league is tremendous, and we’ve played a bunch of great teams already. It’s a grind, and I think our kids are adjusting to that, as are all the other kids in the league.” To manage the grind of the Big Ten, the Wolverines have
Junior forward Hailey Brown has struggled from three recently.
required consistent individual performances across the board. Each starter offers a unique skill set that can change a game in an instant, but tends to disappear in big moments. Take junior forward Hailey Brown. Her strong outside shooting provides the team more than just the three points. It creates space for Michigan’s ballhandlers to get to the hoop and pick up a bucket or a foul. But in the Wolverines’ four recent losses, she shot a combined 3-for20 from three — a far cry from her 33.9 percent season average. Then there’s sophomore guard Amy Dilk. Her quickness off the dribble and often incisive passing makes her a nightmare for opposing defenses when she’s at her best. As a result, she held the team together against Florida State and in the first Maryland game, scoring 26 and 18 points, respectively. But she went cold against Ohio State and in the second Maryland game, putting up just seven and two points, respectively. The list goes on and on.
Michigan’s lineup is loaded with talented players that can be elite when they’re at their best. But they never seem to be at their best at the same time, and that leads to miscommunications, frustration and a lack of confidence. Make no mistake, though, this season is far from over. The Wolverines are through the toughest part of their schedule, and their upcoming matchup with a struggling Wisconsin team will give them an opportunity to clean up the errors and get a few players going. And many of them have been here before. Last season, Michigan lost five of seven in the month of January, before an 8-1 finish to the regular season propelled the Wolverines to a strong showing in the Big Ten Tournament — where they lost to conference-best Maryland by only one point. A repeat of that won’t be easy. But Michigan has shown that it is doable.
We’ve played a bunch of great teams already. It’s a grind.
Dakota Raabe undeterred after being kept out of lineup against Irish TIEN LE
Daily Sports Writer
There was no jersey embroidered with the number 12 left to greet Dakota Raabe, the then-freshman forward. Bags filled with his equipment laid to the side. There were no helmet or pads hanging in the top-shelf bins. If he looked, the only thing he’d see was his name plate and an empty locker under it. No skates dangling below on the bottom rack. “We gave him a week off to make sure he did what he was supposed to do,” Michigan hockey coach Mel Pearson said, “and took the hockey away from him.” At the time, it was an academic issue. He wasn’t living up to the team’s standards and expectations and broke the trust of the coaches when it pertained to classes. So they sent him a message. Don’t live up to the team’s standards, and they’ll take away the thing every hockey player cares about: hockey. But last weekend was a different case. It was no longer academic. It was an on-ice issue, and ultimately, an off-ice coaching decision. Earlier in the year, the Wolverines were allowed to bring the entirety of the roster, but now they can only bring 23 players, leaving six behind to sit at home and watch from afar. And it was up to the coaches to decide who those six were going to be. Immediately after practice last Wednesday evening, the coaches gathered the players in a room, sat them down behind closed doors and explained the new Big Ten travel rules. But the players knew what was coming. They knew just 23 could go. They just didn’t know which six were going to be left behind. That meeting was to let them know. Emil Orhvall. Shane Switzer. Jack Leavy. Adam Winborg. Jay Keranan. Dakota Raabe. Upon learning he wasn’t chosen to go, Raabe was surprised — and disappointed. It
was the first time the junior had been held out of the lineup since his freshman year. But poor play and end results had forced Pearson and the coaching staff’s hands to make some sort of change to spark the team. “You’re always in conflict,” Pearson said. “As a coach, you’d like to take everybody, but I think we have to get to a certain point where we have to make changes if things aren’t working, and you have to be ready to make those changes. That was a good change.” This time, the message was just as transparent as it was Raabe’s freshman year. There was no need to empty a locker or throw aside his equipment. Instead, Michigan opted to fill
that same seat on the bus with a different body, one who would help bring the impact they so desperately sought. The end result was a weekend sweep against No. 14 Notre Dame. “It’s tough,” Raabe said. “Biggest thing is just seeing the team success. “Obviously, you want to be a part of it. You want to be there but you can’t, can’t pout about it. That’s the most important thing is we got those two wins, we got those six points and helped us in the standings. And that’s all you can ask for really.” He watched the wins on television with the remaining five teammates left behind. He cheered when Michigan scored and celebrated when his team
won, hoping his wishes of good luck helped them succeed. When the games ended, so did his time off. Pearson had left him and five others behind, but he also left behind a clear template of what they need to do to have more opportunities. So the weekend’s games weren’t the only thing they spent time watching. Pearson had given Raabe a list and video of things he needed to improve on. “It’s not all just offense, even though he’s got one goal,” Pearson said. “Production is down … So we just felt it, he wasn’t doing a lot of things in practice and we kept playing him because of, you know, he adds some speed. “Dakota’s been told, you know, things you got to work harder,
pay more attention to defensive detail because he’s not scoring a lot. Then use the speed more, like he’s might be the fastest guy on our team, but we don’t see that enough.” That was the caveat. He was fast, but that was it. His utility on the penalty kill and ability to put pressure on the opposing puck handler was valuable but he was, more or less, a black hole on offense, and at times, defense. Raabe had trouble finishing his chances. He took egregious and unnecessary penalties. He would make turnovers in the defensive zone that frustrated Pearson to no end. And so Pearson gave him a message and took hockey away from him. “You could tell players things, but one thing that they
really hold dear is the ice time,” Pearson said. “You can tell them this or that, but when you take that opportunity or that ice time away from them, then it hits home a little bit more. “That’s the ultimate hammer is the ice time.” In the past, the Wolverines have sat captains. They’ve sat hard workers and hustle players. The reason being the same: They weren’t playing to their potential or standard of play. So for Raabe, it was no different. Seven points in 20 games, while being a wild card on defense, was not going to cut it. But he understood the message and came into the new week of practice undeterred — his mind set on making the lineup once again.
Junior forward Dakota Raabe was left out of Michigan’s trip to Notre Dame last weekend after recording just one goal and six assists in the team’s first 20 games of what has been an underwhelming season.
Thursday, October 3, 2019
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2B — Thursday, January 16, 2020
The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com
B-SIDE: MUSIC NOTEBOOK
The fifteen best albums of 2019 DAILY MUSIC WRITERS Daily Arts Writers
1. Tyler The Creator, IGOR
IGOR is the soundtrack to falling out of love after an emotionally turbulent period of denial, as Tyler desperately tries to hold on to a romance he knows is fading away. The raw feeling imparted in IGOR is almost palpable: the rough textures of retro synths combine with peculiar drum patterns and distorted, pitch — shifted vocals to build up emotional tension. This tension is released with beautiful, fleeting flashes of weightlessness, such as the bridge of “I THINK” and the soulful sample in “A BOY IS A GUN*.” Early in the album, this harmonic unsteadiness creates an ironic contrast with lyrics such as “I think I’m falling in love,” this tension suggesting that Tyler is lying either to you or to himself as he struggles to free himself from the obsessive limerence that ties him, almost involuntarily, to this other person. “But at some point you come to your senses” “GONE, GONE / THANK YOU” is the emotional centerpiece of IGOR as Tyler finally accepts that his “love’s gone” after trying to fight back against the inevitable for most of the album. To my ears, IGOR functions as a warped, almost mocking companion piece to the more optimistic and lush Flower Boy up until the second half of that track, when a beautiful, fleeting flash of melody (“Thank you for the love”) unexpectedly and powerfully reaffirms the value of love in the face of disillusionment, albeit from a more mature and cautious perspective (“Now I’m scarred for life”). It’s better to have loved and lost, according to Tyler, even if he doesn’t feel ready to go through it all again at the moment (“But I don’t ever want to love again”). That last line might seem awfully pessimistic, but in context, melodic and lyrical, it becomes clear that there’s more here than meets the eye. Acceptance is not the end of the story. The final two tracks show Tyler questioning what the future holds. Where does he go from here? What does his relationship with this person look like now that they are no longer romantically involved? Has he truly accepted the loss, or is he still hanging on? Maybe if we’re lucky, one day he’ll let us know. — Jonah Mendelson, Senior Arts Editor
2. Lana Del Rey, Norman Fucking Rockwell! “Maybe the way that I’m living is killing me,” sings Lana Del Rey in her 2019 album Norman Fucking Rockwell!, and if anything better summarizes the ethos of this past year, this writer is at a loss. It’s Del Rey’s undeniable, bone-cutting relevance that earns her such a high placement on our “Best Of” roundout. Norman Fucking Rockwell! is more than an album, more than Del Rey, more than any of us — it’s a musical transcription of the glory and gore of modern America. This album is both a love letter to and a condemnation of the “American Dream,” a once shining gold-standard that has now rusted. Maybe it is better to compare Norman Fucking Rockwell! to a time capsule: Del Rey weaves together an eon of America culture, from 50’s Doris Day to contemporary pop, from artist Norman Rockwell to the icon herself, Lana Del Rey. Allow me to make a bold claim: Del Rey has never written a pointless song. Every lyric is carefully constructed to add layers of thematic depth and imagery to her songs. A wordsmith and master of her craft, Del Rey proves her chops not just from the sociopolitical insight of her music, but also in her razor-sharp skills that never dull. I said it once, and I’ll say it again, to round out the year: Listen to Norman Fucking Rockwell!. Consider it a mandatory exercise of patriotism. — Maddie Gannon, Daily Arts Writer
3. Freddie Gibbs and Madlib, Bandana
Bandana is the long awaited follow-up to 2014’s Pinata. A seemingly unlikely duo in 2014, the collaborators curated a tourde-force with a blaxploitation inspired album that perfectly bridged Gibbs’ street rap with Madlib’s throwback G-Funk
flair. The result was a nostalgic, genredefiant throwback that was gritty and well developed enough to feel contemporary. This is not the case with Bandana, an album that is just as provocative as its predecessor but more unhinged and in the now. Gibbs is all over the lyricism with Black activism and freedom at the very core. He paints the album in historical references that harken back to major Black figures and moments in history while still keeping it personal. This is nothing new to Gibbs, it’s a quality he’s had since his mixtape days — but here, he’s less assured of how to approach activism. “I can’t move the same/ I gotta readjust how I maneuver,” he raps on “Gat Damn.” Madlib’s production is robust and maximized, a significant departure from his signature lo-fi beats. Different elements and instruments develop the background from twinkling bells and spazzed-out cymbals on “Half Manne Half Cocaine” to “Flat Tummy Tea’s” jerky, warped riff. Through Bandana, Madlib and Gibbs further the strength of their teamwork, their individual styles bouncing off one another’s seamlessly for a powerful rap album. — Diana Yassin, Daily Arts Writer
4. slowthai, Nothing Great About Britain
Despite countless British culture references going over my head, this album’s cleverness and excellence has not been lost on me. Nothing Great About Britain is stacked with genuinely terrifying beats beneath slowthai’s grim tales of growing up in Northampton. The title is defiant by nature, a challenge to the prevailing mindset of patriotism, but slowthai shows love and pride for Britain through his storytelling. This is his story set in his home and slowthai doesn’t hold back one bit. On the rage-fueled “Doorman,” he critiques the wealthy through his characterization of a relationship with a higher-class woman: “I pour my heart out, she laps up my blood.” Then on “Gorgeous,” slowthai is nostalgic for the time him and the boys first got arrested — “Five man deep and we all in cuffs” — the experience made fond by the presence of his friends. Every word slowthai spits, he gives it raw. And if the main album wasn’t enough, slowthai’s got all his bases covered with six bonus tracks that bang even harder than the album cuts. “Drug Dealer” and “Polaroid” are easily the most scream-along-able tracks of 2019. But Nothing Great About Britain has a greater accolade: This is the punkest rap album of the decade. — Dylan Yono, Daily Arts Writer
5. Purple Mountains, Purple Mountains
Purple Mountains, the project of former Silver Jews frontman and author of the acclaimed poetry collection Actual Air David Berman, is best summed up by this line from “Storyline Fever”: “Got a comb over cut circa Abscam sting / Make a better Larry than Lizard King.” It’s simple yet complex, chock-full of witty, self-referential anecdotes and esoteric blurbs and comparisons, all tinged with melancholy. Berman is strictly himself on Purple Mountains. He is always truthful and has nothing to hide, even when it hurts. Unfortunately, Purple Mountains is the last album that Berman will ever release. A few weeks after the album’s release, he was found dead in an apartment in Brooklyn, having committed suicide. To be blunt, this album is deeply sad, but Berman expertly circumvents the sadness by writing captivating, catchy and, most importantly, congenial songs. He incorporates humor with all the sadness, as if to say it’s the only way to overcome. It is simultaneously and accessible, infused with Berman’s essence. Purple Mountains was Berman’s swan song. A beautiful, bleary-eyed, poignant swan song. — Jim Wilson, Daily Arts Writer
6. Harry Styles, Fine Line
Masculine and feminine, moody but cheeky, former boyband member turned current sex symbol, Harry Styles knows a thing or two about fine lines. That’s why Styles’s second solo album sounds like a drive up the California coast, a burst of sunshine turned torrential downpour and a dance
between darkness and light — sometimes all at once. In fact, the atmosphere Fine Line builds is such a distinct mixture of pop and rock that Styles and his promotion team created an imaginary island, “Eroda,” just to market it. Songs like “Golden” and “Watermelon Sugar” shimmer whereas stripped back “Falling” and “Cherry” burst. On the latter Styles can’t help but wonder, “Does he take you walking in his parents’ gallery?”, achingly holding onto the final syllable until he’s forced to rip back into the chorus. The lyrics on Fine Line are often sparse and simple, but always packed with a punch. “Put a price on emotion,” Styles pleads on the title track, “I’m looking for something to buy.” When the song is taken over by building horns and military drumming, he is left to insist that, “We’ll be alright.” And the listener wants to believe him. Maybe it is that easy to be everything at once. If anyone can do it, Styles can. — Katie Beekman, Daily Arts Writer
7. Danny Brown, uknowhatimsayin¿
The man, the myth, the legend. Danny Brown. After a relatively quiet three years mostly spent streaming on Twitch, Danny Brown has finally returned to the scene, bringing with him a new album, uknowhatimsayin¿, executive produced by none other than Q-Tip, and he’s embracing his elder statesman status. A new sheriff is in town on uknowhatimsayin¿. Gone is the old, strungout, yelping Danny Brown. The new Danny Brown is almost a different person — happy, relaxed and loving life. Almost. uknowhatimsayin¿ may have a heavy focus on pure rapping, but Danny is still Danny. He’s still experimental, but he’s more subtle about it. He selected beats that sound more traditional on the surface, but a deeper look into songs like “Best Life” shows that they are anything but. His set-ups are crisp, and his punchlines are executed flawlessly throughout the entire album. There are bars aplenty as Danny Brown raps his ass off for the entire thirty-three minute runtime over art-house boom-bap beats. uknowhatimsayin¿ is the perfect introduction to this new stage of Danny Brown’s career. — Jim Wilson, Daily Arts Writer
8. FKA Twigs, MAGDALENE
FKA twigs and her airy, seraphic vocals come to life in the most godly of ways on her second studio album, MAGDALENE. It is fair to say that, five years following her last release, twigs has created what could be considered a masterpiece. Without a doubt her most impressive and deep work to date, the album encapsulates all of what makes FKA twigs special in ways that her listeners haven’t heard before. She dives into sounds she hasn’t tried on her past projects with grace, taking on a variety of instruments and background vocals that she hasn’t before. She effortlessly tackles the concepts of religion and heartbreak, introducing pain and solving it with healing. The album completes itself perfectly; it doesn’t feel like any song doesn’t belong exactly where it is. FKA twigs did not need to make more of a presence for herself. Her initial full-length release, LP1, brought her to the attention of the mainstream public. Through doing a feature on A$AP Rocky’s album, Testing, she got even more exposure. Despite her rise over the years, twigs has stayed extremely true to the sound that gave her a name. While MAGDALENE is clearly her most well-rounded and outstanding release, it still sounds exactly like what an FKA twigs album should sound like; otherworldly. One of the most obvious choices for a top album of the year, MAGDALENE was exactly what the progression of FKA twigs’ discography should be and so much more. — Gigi Ciulla, Daily Arts Writer
9. JPEGMAFIA, All My Heroes Are Cornballs
On All My Heroes Are Cornballs, JPEGMAFIA takes the aggressive and industrial spirit of his 2018 record Veteran and injects it with more singing and ethereal warmth than on any of his past projects.
This is an album that’s jarringly discordant yet harmoniously smooth, outrageously grimy yet polished to near-perfection. In one moment, Peggy is singing a beautiful chorus, like on “Free The Frail” — “Don’t rely on the strength of my image, hey / If it’s good, then it’s good / Break it down, the shit is outta my hands, whoa.” Next thing you know, he’s spitting hilarious and hard raps like on “Post Verified Lifestyle” — “I’m treatin’ this bitch like a cuck, brrt, MAC, loadin’ it up.” He’s here to piss people off and make them uncomfortable; lines like “I’m not a rapper, I’m white trash in a mocha body” are on the gentle side. So many disparate elements meld into a genuinely experimental album. How many people were making music anything close to what JPEGMAFIA was making in 2019? Next to none. — Dylan Yono, Daily Arts Writer
10. Billie Eilish, When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
At just eighteen years old, Billie Eilish can play into your fears and masterfully manipulate them into a chart-topping hit. Despite the album’s chilling nature, its heavy bass riffs and exotic lyrical approach sucks you in; Eilish’s dark yet beautiful world of monsters and “bad guys” hypnotizes listeners. In a string of songs loaded with haunting vocals and heavy, reverberating bass, Eilish transports you to your worst nightmares while also feeding you with the satisfying electro beats you didn’t know you needed. While Eilish sticks to the spooky motif throughout the entire album, it contains brief moments of arbitrary elements — Eilish giggling, audio clips from “The Office,” and Eilish removing her Invisalign — slightly resembling the cluttered mind of a teenage girl. The most notable aspect of the album is the way Eilish boldly disassociates herself from the modern pop scene, giving a more mature and controlled style as compared to her teen-idol counterparts. Her distance from the status quo is the most defining element of the album and has certainly rewarded her in 2019. — Kaitlyn Fox, Daily Arts Writer
11. (Sandy) Alex G, House of Sugar
House of Sugar sets up the euphoric highs and dark pitfalls of a haunted gamble, except it places your 10-year-old self in front of the dealer. With a loose connection to the Philadelphia Casino “SugarHouse,” (Sandy) Alex G tackles indulgence and sweet facades with an eerie twist on what it means to be a kid in a candy shop. House of Sugar calls your bluff. The production distorts reality and then swings intermittently to moments of earnest acoustic chords that seem to snap us back to a discernible and disarming reality (perhaps when the candy is less addictive). The constancy of the acoustic chords offer a sober shoulder to lean upon, grounding his cosmic launches into electronic instrumentation. (Sandy) Alex G skews vocals and plays with repetition to expose youth throughout the record — tracks like “Taking” launch me back to a time when the most prominent lesson to learn was how to share. He’ll take a synth and turn the knob on it, with tracks like “Crime” and “Gretel,” like taking the pitch of a wolf’s howl and watching it deepen. You can physically feel the downward parabolic projection. The forest is haunted, the candy turns sour. Then we’re back to the sugar rush of his sweet upper register. House of Sugar seamlessly dips into southern folk, electronic,and psychedelic rock (to name a few), all while resting under this umbrella of assiduous DIY. It’s sincere and homey but takes immense, professional risks in a production that makes you feel like the entire animation team at Pixar could be behind this. But yet it’s still a DIY vibe. Baffling. — Samantha Cantie, Daily Music Editor
12. Lizzo, Cuz I Love You
Let’s make one thing clear from the getgo: Cuz I Love You is a fantastic album. That’s it. Yes, we can talk — and will — about how Lizzo is exhilarating, powerful and bold, how she breaks barriers we didn’t realize we still had. But Lizzo isn’t on this list because she’s Black, or plus-size or explicit (I prefer free) with her words and actions. Lizzo is on our list because her album is good; Because her music is foot-stomping, hip-swinging, booty-shaking great. The bottom line is her music, and everything else that’s amazing about her can come after. I won’t cheapen Lizzo’s victory by suggesting Cuz I Love You is printed here for anything other than it’s
own merits. Why is Cuz I Love You so good? The album is like a cannon blast: Lizzo’s powerful singing, the colorful, energizing lyrics, the diversity of sound in every track; because “Truth Hurts” is the anthem not just of the year, but of a coming generation. Lizzo, while undeniably a feminist powerhouse, speaks for the masses of the fed-up and taken for granted. Regardless of gender, age or race, Cuz I Love You speaks a little bit to everyone. Any album that can reach the hearts, minds, and souls of so many deserves profound acknowledgement. Because no one can hear Lizzo call out “I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100% that bitch” and not crow in joyful chorus. — Maddie Gannon, Daily Arts Writer
13. Solange, When I Get Home
In a conversation with Antwuan Sargent about her new project When I Get Home, Solange said “with this album I had so much to feel. Words would have been reductive to what I needed to feel and express. It’s in the sonics for me.” This impressionistic philosophy is executed to blissful effect on the project. Listening to When I Get Home feels as though you’ve been transported directly into Solange’s reveries. She’s aware of your presence, but pays it no mind. She’s not singing for you. The project is the sound of memories, curiosity and longing. The high concentration of dreamy interludes makes this album feel more like a singular, forty-minute experience than a collection of individual tracks. This is not to say that no songs stand out: “Stay Flo,” “Almeda” and “Binz” seem to break through the haze that hovers over most of the project, yet they are still rooted in the same sense of mellow curiosity as the rest of the album. And on top of it all, Playboi Carti’s feature on “Almeda” is life-changing. On When I Get Home, Solange sounds comfortable and confident, drifting over lush keys and sleepy grooves. While certainly less lyrically profound than A Seat at the Table, it is no less impactful or entrancing. — Jonah Mendelson, Senior Arts Editor
14. Liturgy, H.A.Q.Q.
Liturgy’s last release, The Ark Work, was a step in the wrong direction with regard to the band’s mission to create “transcendent black metal.” It featured too much hiphop, too much glitchy weirdness and too much non-black metal music. It looked like the band was doomed to abandon their black metal roots and try something new, something that wasn’t black metal. Not the case. Liturgy proves that The Ark Work was a misfire by reloading with the release of H.A.Q.Q. It took four years, but it was well worth the wait. H.A.Q.Q. presents a band one step closer to the realization of transcendent black metal. Sure, it doesn’t all work. The series of “EXACO” interludes aren’t quite necessary nor are they black metal, but songs like “PASAQALIA” and “GOD OF LOVE” more than make up for them. These songs breathe and adapt, almost like the music is alive. The glitchy elements are still present, but they augment the songs. It seems that with H.A.Q.Q., Liturgy has righted their course on the long road to the discovery of transcendence in black metal. — Jim Wilson, Daily Arts Writer
15. 100 gecs, 1000 gecs
1000 gecs is a carnivorous approach to every music trend that’s spanned the last decade. None of this is new, none of this hasn’t been heard before, but the way everything comes together feels exciting and fresh. 100 gecs duo Laura Les and Dylan Brady take a maximalist approach to music that combines almost every trend of digital age and it feels right. Do not be fooled though; this almost abrasive mishmash never feels contrived or overwhelming. The grimy dubstep mix that thrashes at the end of “745 Sticky” is a departure from the song’s initial distorted, plinking synths but they transition into one another with ease. As is the case with the EDM emo blend that wraps incoherent “hand crushed by a mallet,” the perfect bridge between Brady and Les’ distinct production styles. Maybe it’s the creaky, pitched vocals that stand out amid the chaos or the sparse, almost incoherent lyricism that keep this project from feeling like an incomprehensible catastrophe — in theory, this project shouldn’t have worked. Whatever the case may be, Les and Brady brilliantly, dare I say meticulously, curate an energetic mix of short tracks that deftly display different forms of music all at once. — Diana Yassin, Daily Arts Writer
The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com
Thursday, January 16, 2020 — 3B
B-SIDE: FILM NOTEBOOK
The ten best films of 2019 DAILY FILM WRITERS Daily Arts Writers
Every year, we search curiously for movies we love. Often, we miss. I find that I am insufferably dour when it comes to deciding if a given year is a good year for movies up until the very last month, when the Oscar-eligible films come rushing in like the downpour after a drought. This year, we found movies we adored, and we honored some of them here. And when “Joker” wins best picture in February I will only hold this list closer.
1. Little Women
The first time Timothée Chalamet’s (“Beautiful Boy”) Laurie steps inside the March sisters’ household, he just stares. The titular little women are melting into the choreography of sisterly dynamics, all undergirded by undeniable love, and he watches. Yes, he’s a man, yes, he’s gazing — both key components of the male gaze — but that’s not what presents itself. His look does not belittle them, or their individuality, or their collectivity; it gathers all of that up somehow and returns it to us, glowing with admiration. Greta Gerwig’s (“Lady Bird”) adaptation of “Little Women” does not stand out because it is radical. It’s occasionally revisionist — suggesting Jo’s marriage was not the original ending of her story — but that’s not it, either. It is special because of moments like this, for its habit of asking us to look with indiscriminate kindness upon people who are struggling to love each other, and themselves. And it’s asking us to look up to them, too. Not just to the subversive woman. Gerwig gives us reason to look up to the woman who chooses not to marry as well as the one who does. The woman who wants to leave, and the one who chooses to stay. The woman who stands up for herself, and the one who stands down when her sister asks her to. To anyone who’s looking for their place in the world, at the same time that they’re fighting for it, at the same time that they’re just trying to get through another day in it. That may not be everything, but it is outstanding. — Julianna Morano, Managing Arts Editor
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5. Jojo Rabbit
Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit” made me cry. And not just in the theoretical, texting exaggeration sense, but in the very real, sniff ling in the theater sense. The film takes the Nazi regime and thinly layers it with moments of comedic relief. The overall effect is an unsettlingly funny exploration of the blind faith of youth. Aside from its heart wrenching plot and adorable cast, Waititi’s newest film came at an opportune time in American politics. As we enter a new election year, “Jojo Rabbit” highlights the teachable nature of bigotry and racism and gives hope that even those who seem intensely rooted in their belief system can find a way to change. — Emma Chang, Daily Arts Writer
6. The Farewell
It is special because of moments like this, for its habit of asking us to look with indiscriminate kindness upon people who are struggling to love each other, and themselves.
“Parasite” is so powerful that its cinematic excellence is almost taken for granted — one is too focused on the crushing plot to notice the airtight vessel it comes in. In “Parasite’s” immersive narrative, the Kims, an impoverished family, con their way into working for the Parks, an aff luent one. But isn’t just a masterwork of suspense and thrills; it’s scathing social commentary. Throughout the film, the grimy sub-basement where the Kims live is contrasted with the Parks’ Edenic mansion. Without a single word, Ho conveys a more brutal and heart wrenching message than the best documentaries or political ads could ever hope for. In the context of the first few days of 2020, the film is terrifyingly relevant. In “Parasite,” the rich complain as their servants stink from the rising, pollutant filled water that has filled their homes. No wonder blood is spilled. “Parasite” is a finely crafted, Swiss watch of a movie that becomes a social hand grenade at the end of its f lawless runtime. As the credits roll, viewers have something to both wonder at and endlessly contemplate when the lights come back on. What else could one want? — Andrew Warrick, Daily Arts Writer
3. Knives Out
Rian Johnson’s (“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”) “Knives Out” was one of my 2019 movie highlights. Though it didn’t necessarily go the way I was expecting it to go based on promotional language and trailers, as I expressed in my review of the film, I genuinely enjoyed watching it. Despite the primary cast member being Daniel Craig (“Casino Royale”) in his role as Benoit Blanc, the stars of the show for me were Ana de Armas’ (“Blade Runner 2049”) Marta Cabrera and Chris Evans’ (“The Avengers”) Ransom Drysdale. De Armas’ portrayal of an innocent and shockingly real character among a family of snobs was heartwarming and Evans’ dedication to a character so unlike Steve Rogers was steadfast, though I’ll admit it was incredibly strange to see him play a jerk after watching him play the golden boy, Captain America, for so many years. The movie doesn’t play out as the ‘whodunnit’ it was promoted as, at least not by my standards, but even though I was initially slightly annoyed by that, after some time, I was able to appreciate the movie for what it was: not necessarily an Agatha Christie-esque enclosed murder mystery and ‘whodunnit,’ but a story of an unconventional and yet very real, family. Though many of the family members were exaggerated caricatures and obviously overplayed to dramatize their relationships and circumstances, they were almost unnaturally relatable as well — even the cruel ones (perhaps, especially the cruel ones). — Sabriya Imami, Daily Arts Writer
Actress Olivia Wilde’s (“Richard Jewell) directorial debut is warm and funny, filled with kinetic camerawork and dynamic performances. Beanie Feldstein (“Lady Bird”) and Kaitlyn Dever (“Beautiful Boy”) team up to play Molly and Amy, smart and uptight high school seniors who want to have some fun on their last night before graduation. This pair is the heart and soul of the movie, carrying an infectious energy and love for the other, as well as the kind of lore that can only be built on the back of a decade-long friendship. However, they are in no way dominant over the movie, and the mini universe the film builds up around them feels just as real and interesting as the protagonists. To watch “Booksmart” is to enter a tight and carefully constructed world, with every ancillary character having a defined personality and a purpose, and every joke well-timed and executed. The teenagers feel real, not like studiomandated projections, and every space they occupy, from high school to the rich kid’s house to the local pizza parlor, feels lush and well lived-in. “Booksmart” is the very best of what teen movies can do — full of laughs and horribly awkward moments, but also full of love and honesty. It’s hilarious, sweet and tender. There’s no doubt that it will come to join the pantheon of the great high school movies. — Asif Becher, Daily Arts Writer
“The Farewell,” based on its premise alone, may just be the saddest film of 2019. The film, which follows a young Chinese American woman (Awkwafina, “Crazy Rich Asians”) who is asked by her family to keep her grandmother in the dark about her terminal illness in accordance with traditional Chinese customs, asks painful, emotionally resonant questions about what it means to die and, conversely, what it means to live. Though “The Farewell” is very much centered around non-Western, specifically Chinese perceptions of death, it also reminds us of something universally true: everyone is afraid to die. Clearly, “The Farewell” is a bit of a downer. But it’s also not a downer at all. In demystifying death, in capturing it with honesty and a complete lack of romanticization, the film reminds us of just how special it is to be alive, and in doing so encourages us to be present, to live as though every day might be our last. — Elise Godfryd, Senior Arts Editor
“Midsommar” is a movie that horrifies a viewer by literally passing the limits of what they thought could be horrifying. It is anxiety incarnate.
There’s this moment in “Midsommar” that stuck with me more than any other. It got memed to hell, so that hasn’t helped me forget the scar of watching it for the first time either. After Florence Pugh’s (“Outlaw King”) Dani discovers her boyfriend (Jack Reynor, “What Richard Did”) participating in a Pagan sex ritual, she returns to her cabin and promptly collapses onto the f loor. So her companions from the May Queen celebration gather around her and begin to imitate her agonized wails, in a blood-curlingly hideous chant. Their voices only grow, their breathing in sync; her pain is their pain. Their sobs become cries and their cries become shrieks, ripping violently into a viewer’s ears. It’s cathartic and spine-chilling. “Midsommar” is a movie that horrifies a viewer by literally passing the limits of what they thought could be horrifying. It is anxiety incarnate. On top of the fertility rites and the carnage and the claustrophobic tone of it all, “Midsommar” is also hilarious. From one perspective, it’s about the worst-case scenario of competing PhD theses gone wrong. Watching Dani’s American companions grapple with the sheer weirdness of the commune is endlessly entertaining. Oh, not to mention Will Poulter (“War Machine”) juuls and broods the entire time. — Anish Tamhaney, Daily Film Editor
8. Marriage Story
Noah Baumbach has always been an artist interested in separation. His breakout 2004 film “The Squid and the Whale” tells the semi-autobiographical story of two New York City writers’ caustic divorce, their two children hanging in the balance. Films like “Frances Ha” and “The Meyerowitz Stories” deal with the severance of friendships and with serialized isolations. The ways people fall out of relationships and the lasting effects that linger seem to always be at the front of the writer/ director’s mind when he’s developing his films. “Marriage Story” is no different. There’s a tremendous amount of potential energy stored up in a relationship that has passed the point of no return. Two people, once in love — maybe still so — hold the details of the other’s most piercing insecurities and defeats up their sleeves. As Scarlett Johansson’s character Nicole says early in the film, “It’s not just about not being in love anymore.” “Marriage Story” explores what two people are pushed to do and feel and say when life as they know it begins to come apart. The film earns its accolades in its last fifteen minutes with two scenes that show what’s really lost in a divorce, two peoples’ reasons for being alive. — Stephen Satarino, Daily Arts Writer
9. The Lighthouse
There’s something otherworldly about Robert Eggers’ second feature. It’s probably the mermaid. The film works hard to embed its characters in the dramatic circumstances of their prolonged stay out tending the light. When their transport doesn’t arrive on time, time itself begins to bend and break. We’ve got no more clue than they do about how long they’ve been stuck out on the rock. It’s always a joy to see an artist thrill themselves with the prospects of allegory. To anyone intimately familiar with the Greek myths of Proteus and Prometheus, the characters Willem Defoe and Robert Pattinson respectively play come as refreshing iterations on two age old tales. The risk of such heavy allegory is that it will take the viewer out of their experience. When watching something like Darren Aronofsky’s “Mother!,” it’s hard not to nudge the person beside you in the theater and point at Cain and Abel and the fall. “The Lighthouse” manages its allegory brilliantly, distancing itself enough to feel fresh while still managing to soak up some of the gravitas of the source material. — Stephen Satarino, Daily Arts Writer
To call this film a rollercoaster would be to describe a ride that doesn’t exist.
10. Uncut Gems
To call this film a rollercoaster would be to describe a ride that doesn’t exist. “Uncut Gems” is unlike most other movies you’ll watch in that it doesn’t pause for a moment to give you your bearings, allow you to unpack what is happening or even explain to you what in the world is going on. The movie moves like a firecracker, throwing Adam Sandler (“Punch-Drunk Love”) into all kinds of just-crazy-enough-to-seem-real situations and demanding that the audience stay out of the way. Sandler is an actor unhinged in this sometimes frightening, sometimes funny, always surprising film that doesn’t let you ask any questions, because you simply don’t have the time. — Ian Harris, Daily Arts Writer
4B —Thursday, January 16, 2020
The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com
B-SIDE: MUSIC NOTEBOOK
Florence Pugh delivers best performance of 2019 DAILY FILM WRITERS Daily Arts Writers
This 2019 awards race might have one of the most crowded acting fields in recent years. Last year delivered so many impressive performances that many of them were either snubbed from nominations or will lose to someone we find unfavorable. So here, we did our best to highlight the best performances of 2019. (They’re all more compelling than Joaquin Phoenix in “Joker,” so feel free to turn off the TV when he accepts his Oscar.)
Best Actresses 1. Florence Pugh: “Little Women” In Gillian Armstrong’s adaptation of “Little Women” — which was my introduction to Louisa May Alcott’s story — Amy March was so easy to hate. And I did hate her; I longed for Jo’s fierceness and independence, and I denounced Amy for her jealousy and sabotage. I could only ever see her as the anti-Jo, never as a woman of her own. That is, until Florence Pugh stepped into Amy’s shoes. Her shoes from adolescence into early adulthood, I will add. Unlike previous depictions, Pugh plays Amy in both f lashbacks and the present, and at any age steals the show. I smiled every time Pugh’s Amy snuck in a clever dig at Jo. I didn’t resent her for her stance on marriage, or for stealing Laurie. I recognized some of my younger brother’s pain in hers. Not only that, but after all these years I could even see myself in her: I cried when I saw the look of impossible relief on Amy’s face, as she asked for forgiveness from Jo without expecting to receive it. It’s a look I’ve worn myself, many times. That self-recognition would’ve been inconceivable to a younger me. But the explanation is simple: Pugh finally showed me that Amy is a full person, rather than my hero’s foil. Isn’t that what all great performers force us to confront? It’s dangerous to reproduce troubling sibling dynamics on screen; it’s a feat to undo it, and to get a more complicated hero out of it. On that note, Pugh is the real hero of this adaptation, and we’re the better for it: Our heroes should be hard to love. — Julianna Morano, Managing Arts Editor
But the explanation is simple: Pugh finally showed me that Amy is a full person, rather than my hero’s foil 2. Lupita Nyong’o: “Us” Okay, so this is a little bit of a cheat because Lupita probably deserves two spots on this list. One of them is for her performance as Adelaide, a loving mother with haunting memories in “Us.” The other is for her performance as “Red,” a murderous doppleganger with a robotic instinct for violence and a memorably raspy throat
in “Us.” Indeed, it is impossible to articulate the level of acting talent required to pull off roles as hero and villain in a movie simultaneously, but Nyong’o carries the whole movie on her back. Her stark duality is a feat in and of itself, but she also lends credibility to the film’s mystifying twist ending. We thought we understood Adelaide. But maybe, we no longer do. And the image of her snapping to the off beats of Lunis’s “I Got 5 On It” comes back to haunt you. — Anish Tamhaney, Daily Film Editor 3. Ana de Armas: “Knives Out” In a movie full of familiar faces, Ana de Armas (“Blade Runner 2049”) is one of the least recognizable, dwarfed in the marketing campaign by big names like Daniel Craig (“Spectre”), Jamie Lee Curtis (“True Lies”), Christopher Plummer (“Beginners”) and Chris Evans (“Avengers: Endgame”). Yet from the moment she appears on screen, De Armas seizes the audience’s attention and claims her position as the movie’s main character. Her role as Marta Cabrera, the nurse of the recently deceased Harlan Thrombey (Plummer) and a genuinely kind soul, is a breath of normalcy in comparison with the ignorant and greedy Thrombey family. De Armas’ performance is incredibly compelling, uniting the film around a character who appears to be one of the few people the audience can trust and whose emotions are palpable and relatable. In a movie filled with crazy characters, being the “normal” person is not easy, yet it is a role that De Armas takes on with grace and skill. —Kari Anderson, For the Daily 4. Honor Swinton Byrne: “The Souvenir” Honor Swinton Byrne’s performance as Julie in “The Souvenir” is not immediately notable. She is a vehicle for Hogg’s own experience with a shady older man during her time in film school. Nearly everything about her is normal — seemingly too ordinary to be a character in a movie. But it’s precisely this sense of harmless normalcy that gives the film’s building conf lict its searing edge. When Julie becomes involved with Anthony (Tom Burke, “Only God Forgives”), all appears well. But it is only when the audience grasps the magnitude of her gravitation toward him despite his money problems, drug problems and alarmingly callous disposition that we realize how hard it is for her to pull away. And we are pulled in, too. — Anish Tamhaney, Daily Film Editor
Best Actors 1. Roman Griffin Davis: “Jojo Rabbit” Roman Griffin Davis’ performance in last year’s “Jojo Rabbit” is remarkable and not just by child actor standards. In this role, that of a 10-year-old Nazi youth struggling to decide what he actually believes in, Davis is asked to emote what feels at times like the entire human experience. Not only is he expected to provide much of the film’s humor, his character undergoes several of life’s most momentous emotional experiences — first love, first loss, first realization that maybe the people you’ve looked up to for so long aren’t so great after all. In short, Davis is responsible for carrying the film, and he doesn’t just pull it off. He knocks it out of the
park, setting an entirely new standard for what child actors are artistically capable of accomplishing. — Elise Godfryd, Senior Arts Editor 2. Brad Pitt: “One Upon a Time in Hollywood” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is a whirlwind of a film, held together by loose duck tape and one of Brad Pitt’s (“Ad Astra”) best performances in years. In the role of aging stuntman Cliff Booth, Pitt’s laid back charm and easy swagger come together to perfectly embody a man going through the motions but seemingly content to do so. Whole sequences rely entirely on the audience’s capacity to like Brad Pitt, despite the hints at Cliff’s potentially violent past. In the hands of an actor of Pitt’s caliber, it never seems to entirely matter that Cliff Booth may be a murderous maniac. Maybe that’s the point, or maybe Pitt can put on just that good of a show. — Ian Harris, Daily Arts Writer 3. Adam Driver: “Marriage Story” The most intense scene in “Marriage Story,” and arguably the most intense scene of Adam Driver’s (“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”) career, has been meme-ified by the Internet. Many of these memes revolve around the premise of Driver and Johansson’s (“Jojo Rabbit”) big fight resembling the fights people have heard countless times from their neighbors, their extended family, even their own parents. Others simply mock the sheer drama of the scene and the ferocity of Driver’s performance. For the first, doesn’t this speak to the authenticity of Driver’s performance, that he was able to so accurately replicate the realities of marital strife? For the second, isn’t Driver’s burst of anger justified within the context of the movie? His character before this key moment is emotionally restrained in nearly everything, a pushover in the face of his wife’s demands. The entire movie builds up to this moment when he finally loses it. And his outburst is a completely natural reaction to months and months of emotional and psychological torment. Though it is certainly dramatic, it’s also very human, and Driver makes it work. — Elise Godfryd, Senior Arts Editor
B-SIDE: BOOKS NOTEBOOK
The best works the book review beat read in 2019 DAILY BOOK REVIEW WRITERS Daily Arts Writers
Everyone had distinct experiences in 2019, and The Michigan Daily Book Review has put together the best works it experienced throughout the year. Accounting for the differences in everyone’s 2019 experiences, these works range from novels to poetry collections to graphic novels and come from authors originating from Ohio to Ukraine. Enjoy. — Andrew Pluta, Daily Book Review Editor
“Deaf Republic” by Ilya Kaminsky
The deaf republic in Ilya Kaminsky’s poetry collection of the same name is not collectively hardof-hearing; its citizens are deaf by choice. They are living in a fictional, seemingly Soviet-era town under harsh military rule. In protest of a sergeant’s shooting of a young boy, they refuse to hear the soldiers’ commands, existing in silence instead. Kaminsky, who lost most of his hearing at age four, not only shatters our conception of deafness, but our hearts, too, at the heights cruelty and sacrifice reach under oppressive regimes. He also shatters our illusions of what civic responsibility and political protest mean, and all — most notably — without making speeches, or filling the emptiness with sheer noise. He does so more inventively than any writer in recent memory. “Deaf Republic” could be described as a play in verse, straddling the genres with elegance. On various pages, illustrations of hands signing a word in the townspeople’s improvised sign language accompany the text, taking up the same protest as the citizens of the story. In one of the most unexpected elements from the collection (which, as you can see, is saying a lot), Kaminsky makes brilliant use of puppets, as the townspeople put on shows to satirize the absurdity of their oppressed lives. “At the trial of God, we will ask: why did you allow all this? / And the answer will be an echo: why did you allow all this?” Kaminsky writes, in one of his most resonant lines. You can hear a similar echo at the conclusion of Kaminsky’s work, when he shifts into the present-day United States where he now lives, and indicts our passivity toward the police killings taking place on our own soil, day in, day out. It’s literature that doesn’t exempt you from its implications — the best, most urgent kind. — Julianna Morano, Managing Arts Editor
“Ohio” by Stephen Markely
The continental Midwest is a landscape so bleak and sore that it’s usually difficult to write about — in most fiction it’s a place to escape from, or else it’s just plain depressing (think Eugenides, Franzen). In “Ohio,” Stephen Markley understands that this is the Midwest, with all of its blandness and forgotten-America rust. He doesn’t shy away from it. He doesn’t gloss over the dirty parts. Rather, he centers his entire novel on the dim Midwest — in this case, New Canaan, Ohio — and lets it live for itself. Ohio isn’t such a setting or a title. It’s the very lifeline of Markley’s freshman novel, sewn deep into the gut of every character and propelling every action taken. “Ohio” is most striking for its capacity to capture agrestic, patriotic small-town America not in a single frame, but in an evolving, cinema-like fashion. The story feels encompassing, spanning decades of social change and decline while feeling dangerously fresh. Markely writes both accurately and unabashedly about the crisis of identity and social immobility facing places like New Canaan, though not in a manner that feels moralizing. The books themes are never overwrought. Instead, “Ohio” is merely a depiction: a raw, thrilling exposition of what much of America looks like, thinks and talks about; and at times, it is a tale that sickens more than it remedies. — John Decker, Managing Arts Editor
“Normal People” by Sally Rooney
“Normal People” proves Sally Rooney is not a one-hit-wonder with “Conversations With Friends.” Rooney extends the psychological undertone of “Conversation With Friends” until it reaches that precarious line of discomfort in “Normal People.” On the surface, “Normal People” tells a simple romance between two people with diverging socio-economic classes. Marianne is an intensely private girl, unpopular among her classmates but from an aff luent background. Conner is the complete opposite — popular and handsome but struggling to get by. Somewhat embarrassed by Marianne, Conner conceals their romance from their classmates. Conner’s selfish decision as a highschooler sparks the deeply complex relationship with Marianne that prevails until the very end of the novel. “Normal People” is the perfect romance novel for people that hate romance. “Normal People’s” introduction seems familiar enough: boy meets girl, boy and girl have a conf lict. But Rooney quickly subverts the traditional plotline with her emphasis on the various obstacles outside Conner and Marianne’s bubble, making it impossible to foresee the customary “happily-ever-after”
ending. Rooney’s subtle Marxist and feminist critique and ability to capture the imperfections of the human psyche allow “Normal People” to break the boundaries of “romance” and fill the space of brilliance. While it’s hard to idealize Marianne and Conner, their aptly human f laws make it easy to fall in love with them. Nearly a year later, I find my thoughts veering to “Normal People” and the ways that I, too, am a f lawed human. —Sarah Salman, Daily Arts Writer
“Fix Her Up (Hot & Hammered)” by Tessa Bailey
Delightfully steamy and funny, Tessa Bailey’s “Fix Her Up” is the perfect novel to read if you need a palette cleanser. “Fix Her Up” follows two characters, Georgette Castle and Travis Ford. Georgette Castle has harbored a deeply intense crush on Travis Ford since, well, forever. Travis Ford, meanwhile, has always viewed her as his best friend’s little sister: someone to look after, but not someone to develop feelings for per se. While Georgette has been rooted in her small-town of Port Jefferson with her career as a clown, Travis Ford has been revered all over the nation as major league baseball’s hottest rookie. That is, until, Travis gets injured. As their paths collide, Georgette gradually realizes that she must take control of her future, whether it be by standing up to her dismissive family or by wooing Travis. Travis also recognizes that his self-worth is not merely his prematurely halted baseball career and that the people who were truly most important to him might’ve been under his nose all along. Bailey’s “Fix Her Up” includes plenty of romantic staples, including a heady scene with the “other woman” and the “innocent” heroine with the prolific playboy, but those tropes are handled with care. Bailey thoughtfully resolves angsty misunderstandings with communication and even subverts the common idealization of the “playboy” hero by addressing society’s constraining concept of masculinity. “Fix Her Up” has the ability to yoke a myriad of emotions, tears, laughter and those elusive twinges of “it-hurts-so-good!” It’s not just a chick-lit, but a funny, romantic and deeply touching novel about discovering your full-potential, independent from anyone else. —Sarah Salman, Daily Arts Writer
“The Crying Book” by Heather Cristle
I love crying. It’s one of my top three favorite physical activities. So when the Goodreads algorithm suggested this book to me, I grew a little nervous about exactly how closely the FBI agent living inside of my computer has been paying attention lately. But regardless of how this book fell into my hands, it quickly became one of my all-time favorites. Heather Cristle is a poet who is also a self-proclaimed crying enthusiast. In “The Crying Book,” she explores tears and the role they fill in gender, history, race and art. Part memoir, part historical and cultural analysis, this novel touches on subjects that are personal to Cristle — suicide, pregnancy, depression — and also universal. The way she unfurls her prose is slow, interweaving and, much like the act of crying, left me feeling vulnerable and gutted in the best way. The ideas she explores in her novel are presented in such palpable and beautiful terms that I can remember where I was and what I was doing when I was reading any part of the novel. I read about how Cristle delved into the world of Amazon reviews for crying plastic dolls while eating a solitary dinner in the Whole Foods food court. I bookmarked a passage describing the way tears look in the absence of gravity as I absentmindedly stroked my cat’s head, right on the bald spot between his eyes. If you have ever cried at least once in the span of your entire life, this book is also for you. —Jo Chang, Senior Arts Editor
“Sabrina” by Nick Drnaso
There is something unsettling about the artwork in Nick Drnaso’s graphic novel “Sabrina,” which follows the aftermath of the disappearance and anonymous murder of the titular young woman. It strays from the use of bright colors and details, opting for simple geometric figures and a muted color palette that is reminiscent of a coloring book for a child with a limited range of drawing utensils. Characters mill around with facial expressions devoid of much personalization and feeling — even during the most morbid scenes, the characters’ simple facial expressions reveal nothing about the terror behind them. For a novel that explores brutal violence, misogyny and isolation, this oversimplicity and lack of visible human emotions creates an atmosphere that is deeply unsettling. The effect is something similar to being the object of the steady gaze of a wild animal or, say, a small child, and not knowing exactly when they plan on springing upon you with unrepressed fury — but living in constant dread knowing that something horrible is coming, wondering not if but when. “Sabrina” will leave you feeling uncomfortable and disturbed, but also in awe of the way Nick Drnaso is able to capture the essence of loss and pose a commentary Read more online at on human interactions in the modern world so subtly and succinctly. michigandaily.com —Jo Chang, Books Senior Arts Editor
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Thursday, January 16, 2020 — 5B
B-SIDE: TV NOTEBOOK
B-SIDE: MUSIC NOTEBOOK
The best TV shows of 2019 From Eilish to Lil Nas X: the ten best songs of 2019 DAILY TV WRITERS Daily Arts Writers
If there’s one thing we can be sure of in a year of uncertainty, it’s good television. The day-to-day chaos that overwhelmed our lives made 2019 feel slow and exhausting, yet it somehow managed to f ly right by. As some of our favorite television shows retire with the decade, we open the door to new possibilities and spaces for original content. I can only imagine how much more challenging it’ll be in the future to make a list like this considering the new limbo we’ve entered between cable television and streaming services, but it fills me with hope to see how far television has come in the past decade. This year, we saw talk shows get political, witnessed John Mulaney make a children’s comedy special and realized that looking directly at the camera isn’t only for Jim Halpert. I have high hopes for what the television gods will cook up for us in the coming years. In making this list, the TV beat admittedly struggled for a bit to look past the horrendous television we consumed for the purposes of journalism, but we finally narrowed it down to ten of the most groundbreaking, entertaining and compelling TV shows of the year. So without further ado, here are the best television shows we watched in 2019 (in no particular order). — Sophia Yoon, Daily TV Editor “You” A wise prophet once said, “you know you’re that bitch when you cause all this conversation.” It doesn’t take an English degree to catch that Mrs. Knowles is making a daring, yet direct reference to the man at the center of the cultural phenomenon “You” — the plaid shirt-clad serial killer himself, Joe Goldberg. Day-one fans will be quick to point out that “You” was originally released in 2018 on Lifetime, the edgy, hip network where women just on the cusp of menopause really let their hair down, but I will contend that because the Netf lix masses did not get their hands on “You” until early 2019, that 2019 should be considered its cohort year instead. It is no secret that “You,” obnoxiously pretentious in all the right ways, lacks plausibility in almost every storyline, as well as dimension for its female characters. But what “You” lacks in substance it makes up in character names so ridiculous that “Riverdale” seems tame in comparison: There’s Guinevere Beck, Peach, Forty, someone operating under the alias Amy Adam and who could forget the central love interest, aptly dubbed Love. “You” is an interesting television show — not just because of Penn Badgley’s chest hair making consistent appearances — but rather because it exemplifies the rarity of a piece earning the status of cult classic in real time. While normally it takes 10 to 15 years for someone to build the courage to make a revisionist reading of a critically panned piece, it took viewers under a year to determine that yes, “You” is bananas, but that isn’t going to get in the way of us figuring out just how Joe cleaned up the blood the Roomba smeared. — Ally Owens, TV Senior Arts Editor “Shrill” Hulu’s comedy series “Shrill,” based on the novel of the same name and starring SNL cast member Aidy Bryant, ref lects the social moment of 2019 in all of its tragedy and absurdity. Main character Annie struggles with her status as a plus-sized woman in a culture that expects her to stay timid and ashamed. Unable to assert herself at work or in her relationships, Annie feels utterly powerless in her life. In the first episode of the season, however, the balance of power is shifted when she makes the choice to get an abortion and place her own needs before others for the first time in her life. This initial action pushes Annie to take control of her life and believe in her own talents and abilities. Throughout the season, she learns what it means to stand up for herself and take up space in all the places she’s been shut out of. The show’s depiction of her journey to embrace self-love and confidence mirrors the current push towards body positivity that is popular on social media. Much of the series is devoted to depicting demographics often shamed by popular culture and presenting diversity in a more realistic way. In portraying characters of different body types, races, sexualities and lifestyles as equally human and equally f lawed, the weight of stigma is lifted and the opportunities for lightness and humor are allowed in. With the talent of star Aidy Bryant and a solid and inspiring storyline, “Shrill” sets itself apart from TV’s less nuanced comedies. — Anya Soller, Daily Arts Writer
“Dead to Me” Grief and loss. Only Christina Applegate (“Up All Night”) and Linda Cardellini (“Green Book”) could make a comedy out of that. “Dead to Me” is the definition of a tragicomedy. Applegate plays Jen, a mother of two whose husband was recently killed in a hit-and-run. Cardellini plays Judy, who also has recently experienced a close loss. After meeting in grief counseling, the dark place that Jen is in, coupled with the positivity of Judy, leads to an unexpected friendship. Judy then moves into Jen’s guest house. However, Judy lives with the guilt of knowing she was involved in the death of Jen’s husband. Over the course of the season, the audience learns along with the characters themselves how imperfect the lives of both Jen and Judy are and why their friendship is perfect for one another. Jen scavenges the neighborhood, looking for cars with human-sized dents as she pressures the police into finding the killer of her husband, unbeknownst that she is living with them. The mystery that surrounds the first season is whether or not Judy is crazy for living with Jen and the family of the man she accidentally killed. The secondary mystery is how a character as loveable as Judy could run from the crime scene. All these questions are answered by the finale, but not before more are presented. — Justin Pollack, Daily Arts Writer
“Watchmen” How do masked police officers, squids that rain from the sky and the KKK fit together in one coherent show and make sense? “Watchmen” is the answer — a show crafted from a confusing, destabilizing series of puzzles, each more complex than the last. The series’s first episode, which featured the forgotten Tulsa Race Riot, blew apart expectations. Each episode after was a gut punch. As a masked detective of the Tulsa Police, Angela Abar — or Sister Night — weaves her way through secrets and lies toward discoveries about both herself and the world, making the truth seem more ridiculous than what she originally thought. Under the watchful eye of FBI Agent Laurie Blake, Abar gets real with evil geniuses, white supremacists and literal gods. “Watchmen” was bold, breathless and brilliant. With knockout performances from Regina King (“If Beale Street Could Talk”), Tim Blake Nelson (“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”), Jeremy Irons (“The Borgias”) and Hong Chau (“Downsizing”), “Watchmen” was both intense and wacky. Not a minute of the show’s nine episodes was wasted. Each offering was a narrative suckerpunch that disturbed and enthralled as HBO made bold visual and narrative choices that left viewers consistently uncertain about where the show was heading. In the end, what was produced was one of the best television shows not just of 2019, but of the decade. — Maxwell Schwarz, Daily Arts Writer “Undone” A show’s first season, more often than not, is an attempt to find target audiences and to find footing in a chaotic world of different television genres. But the shows that enter the arena without shame or hesitation either revolutionize audience perceptions of TV and genre or run the risk of completely bombing. “Undone” passes easily as the former and finds footing in being undefined. After a severe car accident and a visit from her dead dad, Alma discovers she can manipulate time. Throughout the season, she works with her dad to learn how to use her newfound power to her advantage and figure out who murdered her father. The show uses rotoscope animation so that the characters can take shape in the form of their respective actors, making the transition between fantasy and reality nearly undetectable. Despite the fantasy aspects of the show, its plot remains grounded and realistic, particularly in the way it handles the effects of trauma and interpersonal relationships. What initially drew me in was the unique art style, which certainly held its own against the complex layers of the plot and three-dimensional characters. But I gradually realized throughout the season that the animation style wasn’t the most unique part of the season. “Undone” is a show that f luctuates in between genre and style, and while I’m often nervous that the quality of good television decreases after its renewal, I maintain full faith that the series will hold its own in a future “best of” list. — Sophia Yoon, Daily Film Beat Editor
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1. Tyler The Creator, “EARFQUAKE” For real this time. Imagine being told four years ago that Tyler, the Creator would release the best track of 2019 and that it would be a bittersweet soul song featuring Playboi Carti. It’s remarkable how much Tyler has grown in the last few years, and “EARFQUAKE” is a powerful exhibition of his newfound songwriting strength. “EARFQUAKE” is the thesis statement of Tyler’s latest album IGOR. It establishes a few key themes right out of the gate: an insecurity as to whether his partner reciprocates his feelings, a fear of abandonment and intense internal turmoil that can’t be entirely expressed. Most remarkable is how he manages to communicate these essential and resonant themes through such few words, a testament to the power of brevity. “Don’t leave / it’s my fault”: A desperate plea, almost choked out, simple and earnest, this expression of weakness is paradoxically linked to the pounding drums that accompany its delivery. Harmonically speaking, the song is composed entirely of major and minor seventh chords, ones which do not clearly resolve in any direction, creating a sort of rootless feeling. The rhetorical effect of this compositional choice is a sense of liminality and impending change. The desperate frustration of the lyrics combined with the unclear harmonic backdrop creates dramatic tension: How will his partner respond to his plea? “EARFQUAKE” is a deft piece of craftsmanship, particularly in its ability to evoke and intensify the tension of the situation Tyler finds himself in through the symbiotic relationship between harmony and lyrics. It’s catchy, emotionally saturated and profoundly human. It’s lightning in a bottle. — Jonah Mendelson, Senior Arts Editor 2. Charli XCX and Christine and the Queens, “Gone” “Gone” is muscular. Its fireworks of grandeur, pop-futurism and expert execution make it a driving, catchy force that reflects Charli XCX’s gradual ascent into her truest form. “Gone” glows neon in my mind; it’s the song I consistently place on repeat to start my morning routine. It’s this fierceness of pushing forward and a reflection of the generational lifestyle both her and her audience are experiencing, as she states in her NOWNESS interview: “I’m not super sentimental about much of my stuff. I just like to kind of go, and as long as I have friends with me — that’s my main thing.” There’s an unmatched authenticity that Charli brings to the future of pop — she completely backs up her persona with her actions, during a time when following through with the image you create is more important than ever. “Gone” is a wonderful contradiction in its reflection of both the hustle and strength of being on the move (surrounded by friends, partying, going going gone) while still questioning why we’re always so quick to move along. Charli XCX writes anthems for the uncontrollable emotions of this generation. She’s speeding 100 miles per hour down a highway of confidence, sex, and body positivity. “Gone” is the apex of that mentality. — Samantha Cantie, Daily Music Editor 3. Lil Nas X, “Old Town Road” You couldn’t go through 2019 without hearing “Old Town Road.” Gen Z’s #YeehawChallenge was every boomer’s go-to barbecuing anthem. And Lil Nas X produced it with 30 bucks and a steady online personality. The song transcends our expectations for genres and popular music: a confident, effortless and blithe blend of trap and country that samples Nine Inch Nails. Lyrically about riding a horse, the track became Lil Nas X’s breakthrough rags-to-riches story when he lived on his sister’s couch. And he took its rise to ubiquity all in stride. When Billboard deemed it not country enough to place on the country charts, the infamous Billy Ray Cyrus remix was released to really play up the country energies Lil Nas X was certain of. This only furthered his song’s starhood, it eventually making history for topping the Hot 100 for 19 consecutive weeks. This eventually spun the track off to various other remixes that pervaded popular culture and furthered its reach — but that’s not the point. “Old Town Road” defines 2019 in its effortless ability to adapt to and navigate our social spheres in a digital age that doesn’t take itself too seriously. — Diana Yassin, Daily Arts Writer 4. Lana Del Ray, “The Greatest” “The culture is lit and if this is it, I had a ball,” croons Lana Del Rey in her song “The Greatest”
from her album Norman Fucking Rockwell!. While a tad pessimistic, the line is fitting for the end of one decade and the start of a new one. As 2020 slowly gets rolling, “The Greatest” becomes increasingly –– worryingly –– prophetic, “Hawaii just missed that fireball / L.A. is in flames, it’s getting hot,” and as the climate crisis drives the flames hotter, “The Greatest” feels like the conclusion of something equally terrible and great. Del Rey’s somber, melancholy track is on our list for how well it encapsulates the rapidly changing times. There is a tangible sense of frustration, distress and loss that rang through 2019 –– but there is also a sense of undeniable optimism for the coming year. Del Rey sings that “I want shit to feel just like it used to,” and while certainly it can be difficult not to long for days gone by, rose-tinted through our iPhone screens, change is unique in its ability to be positive or negative. 2019 may not have ended on the foot we wanted, but time is on our side to change direction to a grander future. “Don’t leave, I just need a wakeup call.” Think instead that the greatest is yet to come. — Maddie Gannon, Daily Arts Writer 5. 100 Gecs, “money machine” The first time I played “money machine” for my dad, he said, “If you told me this was a comedy sketch parodying modern pop music, I would believe you.” Except “money machine” is no joke and 100 gecs has thousands of fans playing their post-ironic pop masterpiece. This song is shaking up the game with hilariously goofy yet absurdly catchy lyrics. When 100 gecs was asked about their songwriting process in a Reddit AMA, Laura Les explained how her iconic intro to “money machine” came about: “I just came up with it on the spot.” It’s unconventionally noisey and over — processed brilliance. And if you think this song is some sort of blasphemous taint on all that Good Music™ stands for, then all I have to say to you is: “Hey you lil’ piss baby, you think you’re so fucking cool?” — Dylan Yono, Daily Arts Writer 6. FKA Twigs, “Cellophane” FKA Twigs’s Mary Magdalene era is marked by the release of “Cellophane” following a four-year hiatus from music. This break was characterized by devastating news for Twigs, from her breakup with former vampire Robert Pattinson (and its highly publicized nature) to her suffering from fibroid tumors. The result is a shattered interiority that falls apart just as much as it shines across MAGDALENE. Her emotional afflictions are as potent as the physical ones, and this sentiment peaks with “Cellophane.” Twigs aches over a sparse, glitchy beat that synchopates and chugs ever so delicately as she exposes the fragile nature of a failing relationship under the public gaze. She is vulnerable and bare, her voice and emotions palpable and resonant. It feels almost an intrusive listen, as though the listener is reading through someone’s personal diary as she croons, “They’re waiting, they’re watching / They’re watching us, they’re hating / They’re hoping / I’m not enough.” The result is a devastatingly beautiful song that gathers all the turmoil and reflection following the end of a relationship where it felt like the other party wasn’t trying hard enough. — Diana Yassin, Daily Arts Writer 7. BROCKHAMPTON, “SUGAR” Although BROCKHAMPTON’s 2019 release, GINGER, wasn’t exactly a fan-favorite, one song in particular stood out. “SUGAR,” the second song off the album and hands-down the most popular, really struck a chord with the group’s audience. Arguably the most BROCKHAMPTON-esque song of the whole release, “SUGAR” was already the most played song off the album once the whole project was released. It’s true skyrocket to fame was its popularity on Tik Tok (unfortunately), and now it is possibly the group’s most popular song to date. The song is like a lot of what made BROCKHAMPTON famous back in the days of the SATURATION trilogy. The hook has sweet vocals by Ryan Beatty and ends on the signature mumblings of bearface. The soft rap sound is reminiscent of songs like “BLEACH,” one of BROCKHAMPTON’s most enduring songs. Perhaps BROCKHAMPTON’s best release of the year, “SUGAR” was a monumental release. — Gigi Ciulla, Daily Arts Writer
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6B — Thursday, January 16, 2020
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B-SIDE: DIGITAL CULTURE NOTEBOOK
‘Fire Emblem’ and other video game highlights of 2019
The terribly crazy year that was 2019 has come to a close, and though most are glad to have it in the past and see what the new decade brings, it would be a shame to not muse on the strange and wonderful year it was for gaming. From the revival of classic franchises to the success of numerous indie darlings, as the year comes to a close, let’s take a look at the best gaming experiences it had to offer. Here are The Daily’s picks for the best video games of 2019.
1. “Fire Emblem: Three Houses”
There are a million things I could say about “Fire Emblem: Three Houses” — how it perfects the standard gameplay of the series to make it more accessible for new players without sacrificing difficulty and depth, how you can play the game four different times and experience four distinct story pathways all totaling up to hundreds of hours of content, how the game got me to buy DLC just so I could pet cats — but I think the best testimonial I can offer is how it has firmly embedded itself into my mind. Ever since I first booted up the title screen, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about “Fire Emblem: Three Houses.” The quick and dirty summary of “Three Houses” is that you play as a mercenaryturned-professor at a medieval military academy, smack dab in the middle of a
continent on the brink of war. Over the course of many years, you follow the professor and their students (from one of the titular three houses you choose to teach, each representing a certain slice of aforementioned continent), and how you and these students grow, change and challenge each other. Even though you can kind of facetiously boil it down to “be gay do war crimes,” the classic video game suspension of belief kicks in and allows you to fall for the most loveable group of idiot students you’ll want to both strangle and hug as you remind them that everything is going to be alright. Though the gameplay and quality of life improvements to the franchise are top notch, the character design does the real leg work here, imbuing these kids with some of the most intimate and relatable stories, despite the overarching narrative ultimately being a tale of knights and kings and war. “Three Houses” is a phenomenal game, and one made made all the more special because of the life it has taken on outside of my Nintendo Switch cartridge. I can’t go five seconds scrolling through my Twitter feed without seeing some fanart of characters pulling pranks on the professor, crushing on each other or having a wholesome holiday celebration. I would die for Marianne, and I want the chibi charm I have of her on my
backpack to make that fact known to the world. I had only played half a previous “Fire Emblem” game before picking up “Three Houses,” and if you went back to the summer and told me I would be so in love with this game to the point of drawing my own fanart of my favorite characters, or hypothesizing with my girlfriend and roommate about how the students of the Blue Lions house would squabble and gossip with one another on a class road trip, I don’t think I would’ve believed you. With fulfilling tactical gameplay, a painfully real story and an incredible cast of characters, “Fire Emblem: Three Houses” is my game of the year and it should be yours too. The fact the fanbase has stayed strong with a steady pipeline of memes and art months after the game’s release really tells you all you need to know. — Cassandra Mansuetti, Daily Digital Culture Editor
2. “Sekiro: Shadow Die Twice”
Controversial? Yes. A new beginning? Yes. Mentally strenuous and engaging? Yes. A game for everyone? No. “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice” is a masterpiece of gaming because it does not compromise. After concluding their critically acclaimed series “Dark Souls,” developers FromSoftware had a vision and stuck to it. That vision is “Sekiro”: the 15th century Japanesethemed stealth action adventure that left gamers either glued to their screens or screaming at it. “Sekiro” is hard. Very, very hard. But it’s exactly this struggle that allows the player to appreciate the craft and sophistication that went into this game. “Sekiro” does not accommodate for its audience, the audience must accommodate to it. To endure it is to FROM SOFTWARE admire it. “Sekiro:
Shadows Die Twice” is committed to an artistic message. It is that commitment that makes it the best game of 2019. — Eli Lustig, Daily Arts Writer
3. “A Short Hike”
While we all love video games because they let us inhabit and explore worlds where our wildest dreams become possible, where we can slay dragons or quest after legendary lost treasures, sometimes all we need is a good game that shows us the beauty in the ordinary, letting us take it in at our own pace. “A Short Hike” is exactly what the title says it is, and I love it for that. You’re a bird named Claire on vacation with your family, and you want to climb to the top of the mountain to get some decent cell service. Aside from some small bits of narrative, there’s no greater story than that. Though the game has a clear objective, it doesn’t really care how or when you decide to do it. You can walk up the mountain by taking one of many trails or by forging your own path. You can go swimming or play volleyball or help a character find their missing headband. You can sit by the campfire and take your hands off the keyboard for a minute. The pixel art is a joy to marvel at, and it exudes the same charm as one of Nintendo’s finest outings: it’s what I imagine the villagers in “Animal Crossing” do when you’re not around. “A Short Hike” is like your favorite dessert — it may only be a small treat that you can finish in a minute, but it’s made better if you take it slow, savoring every bite. It’s the special chocolate cake you always asked for on your birthday, a flavor you could never forget. “A Short Hike” leaves your heart full as much as that cake did your belly. — Cassandra Mansuetti, Daily Digital Culture Editor
4. “Baba Is You”
It’s perhaps an objective truth that no one will ever be able to make a more perfect puzzle game than “Tetris.” Universally simple and endlessly replayable, even your computer-illiterate grandma could pick up a Game Boy and know exactly what “Tetris” is about and how to play it as soon as the first block drops from the top of the screen. I could write a whole article about this (I actually won’t and would rather you watch Matthewmatosis, one of the
best video game channels on YouTube, concisely sum up said hypothetical article in six minutes) but that’s not my point. It wouldn’t be controversial to say the best puzzle games in recent years, like “Portal 2” or “The Witness,” still exist in the shadow of “Tetris” Peak, gracefully attempting but ultimately failing to summit it. Instead of launching yet another futile expedition, “Baba is You” just moved the whole damn mountain. “Baba is You” starts as simple as “Tetris,” quite literally telling you everything you need to know: “Baba is You,” “Flag is Win,” “Rock is Push,” “Wall is Stop.” Simple enough, right? Well yes, until you realize that these simple three-word facts are only facts if the player wants them to be. Each word is morphed into a block that can be moved around however you see fit. Want to push the flag instead of walking through it? “Flag is Push.” Want to be a wall and just vibe around? “Wall is You.” So on and so forth, as you clear more and more levels and the game throws keys and lava and crabs into the mix. It’s one of the smartest core video game mechanics in recent years, and “Baba is You” succeeds because the puzzle is not just finding a way to get to the end of the level, it’s pushing and pulling and morphing the rules of the level so the end gets to you. The game isn’t any pushover, but prevents itself from being frustratingly hard thanks to a handy Ctrl+Z-like feature and its inherent silliness. Still, “Baba” never fails to make me feel like a MD-PhD in puzzles through the tiny victory of completing a level. Sure, I could look up the optimal solution to each level that takes the least amount of moves possible, but where’s the fun in that? The best part of “Baba is You” is that there’s never just one solution to any given level. You don’t find the right way to do it, you find your way. And even if your way is hilariously stupid, no one can deny it got you over the finish line. — Cassandra Mansuetti, Daily Digital Culture Editor
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B-SIDE: COMMUNITY CULTURE NOTEBOOK
The most notable events around Ann Arbor in 2019 “War Requiem”
Few pieces of music carry the magnitude of meaning that can be ascribed to Benjamin Britten’s “War Requiem.” The work combines traditional requiem texts with poetry by Wilfred Owens about World War I. It calls for three separate performing groups: a full orchestra with choir and soprano soloist, a chamber orchestra with baritone and tenor soloists and a children’s choir accompanied by organ. This past February, the UMS Choral Union, Ann Arbor Youth Chorale and Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra decided to take on this work under the baton of conductor Scott Hanoian. The performance lasted about 90 minutes. It spanned all sorts of textures and styles, from traditionalsounding Roman Catholic choral singing to dissonant, 20th-century orchestral pandemonium — it was impossible to escape the brutal irony of war as justified by traditional secular and religious institutions. At the end of the work, the melodic interval of a tritone — the most dissonant interval, known by Church composers at one point as “the Devil in music” — becomes a consonant form of closure. Over the course of the piece, Britten slowly inverts the fundamental laws of functional Western harmony. What was once consonant is now dissonant, what was once dissonant is now consonant. The “War Requiem” was by far my most intense audience experience of the past year. I’ve never left a performance with more thoughts running through my head. It took days before I wanted to listen to music again — before I was ready to interrupt the perpetual experience that is the “War Requiem.” — Sammy Sussman, Daily Arts Writer
Rachmaninoff at Hill Auditorim
In late February 2019, the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra and pianists from the Doctor of Musical Arts program in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance performed the best and most moving orchestral works over the course of two days of shows. I vividly remember listening to a live arrangement of a Sergei Rachmaninoff piece for the first time. I sat truly entranced in Hill Auditorium as “Finale: Alla breve” echoed off the high ceilings. I left the performance with a new fascination in Rachmaninoff. The performance was a characteristic example
of how the arts — particularly the arts at the University can have a lasting effect on the audience. As I imagine the case was for many students in prime midterm season, I was able to escape the stress of consecutive nights spent studying by placing myself in Hill Auditorium. It took only these few hours to be rejuvenated and energized by listening to the masterful work done by the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra and the University’s own pianists. This combined recital was the best of 2019, not only as a result of the quality of music being played, but also because of how well it represents the utility of experiencing the arts as a university student. The recital pulled me away from my work for a little while, and released me back with a new perspective and a new song playing in the back of my mind. — Zachary M.S. Waarala, Daily Arts Writer
Teac Damsa: “Loch na hEala”
There is no bodily noise in ballet. Ballerinas do not talk, clap or whistle. They land each jump softly and gracefully and keep heavy breathing to a minimum. These rules are the epitome of “Swan Lake,” a show that is as much about its tragic storyline of lost love as it is about ballet itself. Irish dance group Teac Damsa’s modern interpretation of the story — performed at the Power Center this past November — pushed these conventions to the wayside. Characters spoke, grunted and screamed, swans clapped and stomped, people shook plastic tarps and threw cinder blocks. In doing so, they stripped “Swan Lake” of its classical identity to present the story’s most organic form: “Loch na hEala,” a gripping story of darkness. During the one-act show, protagonist Jimmy struggles to fight his depression in the aftermath of his father’s death. Using the gun gifted to him by his mother, he attempts to kill himself while standing by the side of a lake’s gloomy waters. As he raises the weapon to his head, a swan named Finola diverts and captivates him. Together, the two characters dance in an ephemeral moment of darkly emotional movement before being aggressively separated by Finola’s rapist, a priest who is also the show’s narrator. I first went and wrote about the show for a class, but by the time Teac Damsa was done with its 90-minute performance I knew its impact would continue to touch me for far longer than the semester, or
even the year. While the synopsis might sound disconnected from the original 19th-century ballet, I was most captivated by its similarities. In the original ballet, Odette is also a swan cursed by a male predator. Prince Siegfried is also a man who struggles to find his purpose, and both characters suffer because of their misunderstandings. Teac Damsa’s founder, Michael Keegan-Dolan, reached deep into the original story to find these similarities, producing a modern essence of an old show: darkness, depression and the lasting effects of power abuse. In doing so, he reminded audiences about the timelessness of dance itself. Without a doubt, it was the best performance of 2019. — Zoe Phillips, Senior Arts Editor
The Final BLED Fest
2019 saw the last installation of BLED Fest, a small festival showcasing some of the biggest up-and-coming names in punk, indie rock and metal. The festival began over 15 years ago as a small house show, eventually expanding into the all-day festival it is today with multiple shows spanning across the high school campus turned festival grounds. Performances from modern punk legends and local newcomers alike took place in gymnasiums, cafeterias and classrooms. While this festival took place just outside of Ann Arbor and gained considerable national attention, its do-it-yourself roots still shone through as local bands from southeastern Michigan, including Ann Arbor, littered the lineup. Groups like Dogleg, Ness Lake, the Doozers and Complainer all played heavily attended sets. While it does involve a community just slightly larger than Ann Arbor, the final installation of BLED Fest proved to be a significant event that was different from any other summer music festival, not only because it took place inside of a high school, but also because of its unique lineup that featured members of the southeastern Michigan music community. This installment of BLED Fest also proved to be the most diverse, both in terms of genre and artist personnel. While the original BLED Fest featured heavier music performed by mostly white males, the final installation of the festival featured hiphop, spoken word and singer/songwriter acts with a wide variety of identities, allowing the festival to end on a different, more diverse chapter than it started on. — Ryan Cox, Daily Arts Writer
The Polar Vortex
The Tuesday night before the Polar Vortex, my housemates and I were in the kitchen making dinner when we were alerted about the cancellation of classes for the next two days. Within a minute, Jacob had made us a Facebook event: ENTER THE VORTEX. The cover photo showed our house in the middle of a storm system map that posited Michigan to be colder than the Arctic for the next 24 hours. We were having a darty. The following day was filled with ski shots, blankets and mulled wine. The crowd was composed of individuals who had actually left their houses that day to come over. This sense of comradery was not bound by the house’s walls. Everyone at the university seems to remember last January’s Polar Vortex fondly. Some stayed in and spent quality time with their roommates. Some painted the scenery. Others trekked across campus to the promise of warm drinks and good company elsewhere. I personally went to see “Your Name” at the Michigan Theater after the party. We all proved creative and robust. At the same time, though, we were shielded from the storm’s ugly side by warm abodes and comfortable clothes. It proved a hardship for many others, and even though it was memorable, let’s hope to leave such callous weather in 2019. — Ben Vassar, Daily Arts Writer
18th Annual Clown Show
As someone who is truly terrified of clowns, it feels strange saying this, but my favorite event of 2019 was hands down the 18th Annual Clown Show (also known as the final presentation for the class “Physical Theatre”). The Clown Show acts as the final assessment for a senior BFA acting class in which majors develop a clown persona and perform short improvisations for about an hour. The clowns perform short 15-30 second “noodles” (brief solo improvisations) as well as loosely structured partner scenes. They perform in the heart of finals week — right after classes end and right before the first week of exams — in the Arthur Miller Theater. The house is always packed, the admission is always free and the evening is always bubbling over with laughter. This year, as with every year, the acts were wonderfully unpolished; the audience got the delicious chance to see actors’ minds at
work. We got to laugh when they failed and laugh even harder when they found a spark of success (which sometimes took the form of an earnest failure). As a member of SMTD, this event always means a lot to me. Regardless of the finals or the papers, everyone finds a way to make it out for the clown show and share warm laughter together before the cold isolation of exam time. In the stressful period when everyone is asking the students to plan ahead, we get to turn that off and be present for an hour to watch people try to make us happy, if only by accident or for a fleeting moment. I can’t quite explain what exactly makes it so joyful; perhaps it stems from that mischievous sense of schadenfreude inside all of us, or perhaps because it is the beginning of a series of goodbyes to the senior acting class, and the happiest one we’ll probably ever get. Regardless of the reason, the Clown Show — and all of the community, warmth and delightful distraction it brought — slipped over a banana peel and landed at the top of my 2019 list. — Stephanie Guralnick, Daily Arts Writer
I came home for fall break in October to an unusual sight: My parents were nestled in the living room, art supplies strewn haphazardly around them, drawing a large peach on a white board. My mother’s eyes glistened mischievously as she looked up at me. “I’m going to draw Trump on this peach,” she giggled, then proceeded to pick out a brilliant orange from the sea of colored pencils in front of her. Political action and protests have always been an important part of my family’s life, and 2019 was a big year in politics. Protest events littered my facebook feed the whole year: I attended the climate strike in Ann Arbor, the gun control rally in Detroit and the women’s march in Ann Arbor, and that wasn’t enough. These issues are far from mutually exclusive, and I urge everyone to resist confining them to their own isolated spheres. If you care about tackling climate change, chances are you’re in favor of background checks for gun purchasing as well. If you’ve never been, attend a protest or two in 2020, to listen and observe if nothing else. Let 2020 be the year where you give a sh*t. — Trina Pal, Daily Arts Writer
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