The Spectator The Stuyvesant High School Newspaper
A&E writer Eliana Kavouriadis remembers Carrie Fisher as she wanted to be remembered, after the actress drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra.
Which point-guard outplays the other: Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers or Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors? Sports writers Ariel Glazman and Sean Staton defend each side.
Why Carrie Fisher was the Galactic Hero We All Needed
Point-Counterpoint: Kyrie vs. Curry
see page 12
Volume 107 No. 8
see page 24
January 20, 2017
Senior Sharon Lin was named the 2017 New York City Youth Poet Laureate for her poem, “A Footnote on a Hollywood Blockbuster.”
Two groups of students’ research proposals from Biology teacher Jessica Quenzer’s Biology Laboratory Techniques class have been accepted by the Urban Barcode Project. Sophomores Alisa Chen, Zheng Chen, Maryann Foley, and Mansi Patel will be researching the biodiversity of algae while sophomores Jethro Cheng, Abdullahnayeem Mizan, and Axel Tolpina as well as junior Tahseen Chowdhury will be researching lichens.
Senior Zachary Ginsberg and junior Abie Rohrig were ranked first in the country in their performance in Public Forum Debate at the tournament in Lexington, Massachusetts from Saturday, January 14 to Sunday, January 15. Juniors David Doktorman and Isaac Segal advanced to the semi-finals round in the Varsity Policy category, earning their first bid to the Tournament of Champions.
SING! Rescheduled Due to SATs By Vincent Jiang and Grace Tang SING! season is upon Stuyvesant, and with it comes some changes. In the past, SING!, the student-run theatrical competition between the grades, has had performances take place around mid-March. This year, however, performances will take place on March 1, 3, and 4, a week earlier than usual. The rehearsals and preparations for SING! will also begin a week earlier. Assistant Principal of Organization Randi Damesek will also be stepping in as the assistant principal overseeing SING!, a role she held before her leave of absence from Stuyvesant. In her absence, Assistant Principal of Guidance Casey Pedrick oversaw the production. Not much is expected to change, as most of the duties of running SING! will continue to be the responsibilities of the student coordinators. “I said I’ll do it for three years, and then I’d like to rotate off, and so that’s what I did,” Pedrick said. “Ms. Damesek had done it before, so she was ready and willing to do it again.” In December, Interim Acting Principal Eric Contreras, Coordinator of Student Affairs Matthew Polazzo, Damesek, and Pedrick began discussing the issue of SING!’s timing with the Student Union and senior SING! coordinator, Winston Venderbush. Stuyvesant is hosting an SAT exam on March 11, and many staff members, including Polazzo, believed the conflicting dates would interfere with students who would want to participate in
both SING! and the SAT. However, moving the date also conflicts with other events, such as Speech and Debate tournaments. Stuy Squad, the student dance group, has their show scheduled for January 20, only a few days before the majority of students become involved in SING!. “I’m probably not the only one with a bunch of other extracurriculars, so five days of a breather to get straight into SING! is pretty intense,” junior and member of Stuy Squad Nicholas Li said. “Starting [SING!] during finals week this year is an inconvenience, but it’s not that drastic,” junior Vivien Lee said in an e-mail interview. “I would prefer to have the same schedule that we have had in previous years for the sake of tradition, but other than [that], it’s not that big of a deal to me.” Another result of the change is that mid-winter break will now fall the week before SING! performances. In the past, the break has taken place toward the beginning of SING! rehearsals. SING! participants will possibly be able to use the extra time during break more productively; however, it is an issue for participants who travel during the break and might miss more crucial rehearsals. “There wasn’t really one ideal date that would make all parties happy, so we had to pick the best one,” Pedrick said. Despite the changes, Venderbush is optimistic. “It seems like a bigger deal than it is,” he said. “I’m confident the show is going to be just as good and just as fun and as stressful as it always is, but no more [stressful] than that.”
Kucher and Lin Named Regeneron Scholars
Nancy Cao / The Spectator
“The Pulse of the Student Body”
By Clive Johnston and Jessica Wu Seniors Phillip Kucher and Sharon Lin were named Top Scholars of the Regeneron Science Talent Search, previously known as the Intel Science Talent Search, on Wednesday, January 4. Lin’s project, “A Novel Multiparameter Optical Sensor Using CMOS Imaging and Remote Neural Networks for Microbial Analysis,” meets the intersection of computer science and environmental science. The project involved the development of an image recognition-based protocol that can be utilized for water-quality analysis. The protocol allows users to upload photos they have taken of particles within a water sample to deter-
mine whether it matches any pre-determined set of particles. Through image processing and machine learning, her project is able to determine the probability that the particle matches one of the pre-existing particles that has been identified within a data set or that the particle is simply just a pollutant within the water. Lin has been interested in water quality ever since middle school. “It’s definitely been one of the fields of study that I’ve personally been very passionate about, primarily because of the high impact, and the fact that pollutants and our water quality account for millions of deaths every year,” she said. Lin is eager to develop technology in this field, and saw the continued on page 2
By Chloe Doumar and Sasha Spajic Physical Education teacher Peter Bologna assumed the position of Athletic Director on Monday, December 12. The Athletic Director, a role formerly occupied by Christopher Galano, is in charge of overseeing all of Stuyvesant’s sports teams. In late November, Galano announced that he would be accepting a position offered to him in the Westchester School District. The administration posted the job opening for Athletic Director, which was made available to all teachers both inside and outside of Stuyvesant. Bologna was among the many applicants considered for the position. After completing standard protocol, Interim Acting Principal Eric Contreras ultimately approved the selection of Bologna for the job, requiring him to change his after-school schedule. “My school day is going to be the same; I’m still going to be a dean, I’m still going to be teach-
ing my classes, but once my day is over, [...] the Athletic Director job kicks in,” Bologna said. As Athletic Director, Bologna will be responsible for all 42 teams and their coaches. This includes tasks such as making sure students are eligible to participate in sports, dealing with the distribution of funds for different teams, obtaining permits for outdoor sports, paying officials and coaches, and scheduling facilities for indoor sports. PSAL policy also dictates that at a large school such as Stuyvesant, an Athletic Director cannot also be a coach. Bologna will have to give up coaching the boys’ and girls’ swim teams beginning next fall. Bologna has coached the girls’ team for four years and the boys’ for 14 years. Under his coaching, both teams were successful, with the boys winning six PSAL Championships and the girls winning two, and neither team ever losing a regular season meet. Bologna will ensure that the new swim coach will have the
skills necessary to carry on his legacy. “I have put a lot of work into both of these teams, and I will make sure that they’re in capable hands,” Bologna said. He will choose a new coach to be in charge of both swim teams later in the year. For the remainder of the boys’ swim season, however, Bologna will continue to serve as both coach and Athletic Director. “I can’t just give up coaching in the middle of my season,” Bologna said. For now, the Stuyvesant administration is helping Bologna manage both jobs by assisting with some of the paperwork, e-mails, and scheduling. Bologna will fully assume the role of Athletic Director as of Wednesday, March 1. “It’s very bittersweet because I didn’t see myself leaving either of the teams. I love coaching, [but] this is the right thing for my family and my career. It is naturally a step up, but unfortunately I had to give up something that I love to do every day after school,” he said.
Sarah Chen / The Spectator
Bologna to Replace Galano as Athletic Director
The Spectator ● January 20, 2017
News Kucher and Lin Named Regeneron Scholars continued from page 1
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and NASA
WORLDBEAT The Paris Summit on Sunday, January 15, sought to renew peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians. The summit pushed for a cessation of settlement construction and violence, though leaders from both sides were not in attendance.
The Japanese airbag manufacturer Takata reached a $1 billion settlement on Friday, January 13, with the U.S. Justice Department after the recall of defective airbags that killed 11 Americans. $125 million of the settlement will be used as restitution to people who are injured as a result of the airbags.
The Syrian government alleged that Israel attacked a military airport west of Damascus on Friday, January 13, and warns of repercussions. Syria also accused Israel of attacking the same airport on Wednesday, December 7.
President Barack Obama awarded outgoing Vice President Joe Biden the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Thursday, January 12.
Iraqi General Yahya Rasool announced on Sunday, January 15, that Mosul University had been fully retaken from ISIS militants.
A downtown section of Birmingham, Alabama, including a church where four black girls were killed by the Ku Klux Klan, was declared a national monument on Thursday, January 12, by President Obama.
After 146 years of business, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced that they will be shutting down due to high operating costs paired with low ticket sales.
The Obama administration announced an end to the two-decade-old policy known as “wet-foot, dry-foot,” which allowed Cuban refugees to enter the U.S., on Thursday, January 12. The policy shift is an effort to normalize relations between the U.S. and Cuba.
potential in integrating computer science, another one of her passions, into her solution. “I wanted to combine my interests in humanitarian work as well as in environmental science with the idea of creating an independent project in computer science that might serve some use to the greater community,” she said. Her project began last summer, with the bulk of the work completed at home. She received help from mentors and researchers she had worked with through research internships at various universities in the past, but worked on it mostly independently. Having done computer science projects before, Lin started experimenting with machine learning, and tested various image recognition libraries in Python at the start of the project. “Most of the research was done online to try to figure out how to implement the program, create the protocol, and then try to figure out how to detect the particles,” Lin said. She worked on configuring the image recognition program, as well as configuring different video parameters and determining the accuracy based on various data points she collected throughout the project. Lin also entered her project into the Siemens Competition, where she was a Regional Finalist. However, there is still more to come. She entered her paper into the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, the New York Engineering and Science Fair, and various journals, and is waiting to hear back from them. Both Lin and Kucher are waiting to hear if they will be named Regeneron Finalists for their respective projects; results will be announced on Tuesday, January 24. Kucher’s project was titled “High-frequency Polymorphisms Found in Double-stranded DNA Viruses Suggest Coevolution with a Uniquely Diverse Set of Bacterial Hosts.” He studied the phiNFS bacteriophage, a type of virus, and discovered that it displays the quasispecies effect, a slow-growth pattern that allows
it to outcompete similar specimen. Now, he is working on extending his research to water purification. Kucher’s discovery was significant as the phiNFS bacteriophage was the first virus with double-stranded DNA that was found to exhibit this behavior. Through DNA sequencing, Kucher was able to determine that various mutations, which were found in high percentages of the test population, led to altered proteins, which in turn affected how the virus was able to bind to a host bacteria. Kucher first became intrigued
If he wins the $225,000 grant, Kucher will set aside some of the money to support training for Stuyvesant students.
by this area of science when he stumbled across a book by Georgian scientist George Eliava. The book suggested that bacteriophages could be used for medical purposes by killing harmful bacteria in a host. However, this technique was soon dwarfed by the discovery of antibiotics in 1928. But as antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria have evolved, scientists are looking for new ways to combat diseases. “I saw bacteriophage therapy as the solution,” Kucher said. After applying unsuccessfully to numerous labs that were doing work with bacteriophages, Kucher was admitted for a summer program at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland— provided that he completed a six-month training program in New York before going to work with the post-doctorates there.
Kucher conducted most of his research at the University and published an article with some of his fellow researchers. But when he arrived back home, he wanted to be able to continue his work. “I was thinking about how else I could [use] bacteriophages,” Kucher said. He decided to use the skills of bacteriophage collection and amplification that he had gained in Belfast to work on a project to decontaminate water using the viruses. However, this turned out to be very expensive work, so Kucher assembled a committee of backers, which included sponsors from Cornell University, New York University, and members of Congress, to help him apply for a $225,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. If he wins the grant, Kucher will set aside some of the money to support training for Stuyvesant students so they can “carry this out and continue this project after I’m gone,” he said. To this end, Kucher plans to create a Biotechnology Club to help students get research opportunities and to teach them “skills a scientist would need,” something he credited his own research with providing him. Stuyvesant has still not quite made its comeback in its success in the competition since Dr. Jonathan Gastel, a former Stuyvesant research coordinator, left in 2013. However, Kucher and Lin both see potential in the restructuring of the school’s research community, and are eager to witness the community grow and thrive. “[Research coordinator Jason] Econome has done a fantastic job of rebuilding that community through work with the research club and other groups at Stuyvesant,” Lin said. Lin did not take the Intel class last year, but Kucher did. He found the daily period for working on his research alongside Econome very helpful. “I’ve worked pretty intensively with him [Econome] for the last year and a half,” he said. Though the research process is often difficult, with determination and good guidance students can find success. “You just have to keep going,” Kucher said.
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The Spectator ● January 20, 2017
The Spectator ● January 20, 2017
Features Stuyvesant’s Biggest Drug Problem By Samra Ashe It’s eight in the morning. With dreary eyes and slumped shoulders, masses of teenagers trudge like zombies to their first classes. Many stayed up to plow through homework, scrambled to submit essays by midnight, or attempted to cram five weeks of lessons in one night. Plagued by constant stress and exhaustion as they endure a seemingly eternal eight-hour school day, many students rely on one drug to propel them through the day: caffeine. At Stuyvesant, consuming caffeine is practically ingrained into the students’ way of life. “There are definitely people who can’t stay awake in class,” sophomore Kareena Singh said. “We’re all exhausted by sixth period. Especially during class, you have to be paying attention, and with all the late nights, you need something that keeps you awake.” Students have weeded out the best spots to fill their caffeine quotas. Factors like price, flavor, and quality heavily influence students’ choices. “The McDonald’s coffee, in my opinion, tastes the best and is the cheapest,” sophomore Eli Economou said in an e-mail interview. Delis like Terry’s and chains like Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks are popular choices for an iced latte. A local street stand offers $1 coffee in brown paper bags, creating the perfect
stowaway vessel for students hoping to sneak their beverages into the building in the morning. Additionally, smoke shops and the nearby Duane Reades are top picks for students aiming to stock up on energy drinks like Red Bull or Monster. “A lot of kids will also have coffee in a to-go mug that will stay warm the whole day, so they can have that in their backpack,” sophomore Katherine Filosa said. “Everyone in their classes will pull out their coffee or their Red Bull or their Monster.”
the energy they need to stay focused from class to class. It’s not just a pick-me-up: it’s a necessity to ensure their survival for the next four years. As the years go by, it’s easy to discern the caffeine-obsessed from the casual consumers. Some students even garner notorious reputations as a result. It can become a part of your identity or a means of poking fun. “I got so known for Red Bull in my global class last year that my teacher came in one day with a nameplate that he made for me that was decorated with
“There are definitely people who can’t stay awake in class. We’re all exhausted by sixth period.” —Kareena Singh, sophomore
Still, Stuyvesant is an intense environment. Teachers pile up tests and forgotten essay deadlines pop up. Couple this with afterschool activities and outside social events, and even the most organized of students can become overwhelmed. For these students, that black espresso in the morning is the only thing providing them with
Red Bull, with cardboard cutouts and my name,” Filosa said. “He thought it was the coolest thing and I just thought, ‘It’s bad that my teacher is aware of how much Red Bull I drink.’” “I know a girl who stores Starbucks in her locker, like, two or three bottles of it,” senior Raisa Karim said. Students in each grade have
their share of stories of caffeine overdoses, all-nighters, and general caffeine-induced mayhem. In particular, the craziest stories seem to arise at times when stress levels are crazy high, even for Stuyvesant (think: finals week, SING!, and college applications). “The night before the script was due for SING!, I had two finals the next day, and it was just not a great night,” Economou said. “I also couldn’t find my neighbors’ cat who I was supposed to be taking care of while they were in Moscow, and it turned out that my other neighbor stole it ‘cause she thought that I was not taking care of the cat.” He then proceeded to ingest absurd amounts of caffeine, way more than was probably healthy. But how safe is caffeine, especially when ingested as frequently as it is here? Though moderate amounts are often considered harmless, there is much debate regarding the potential impact of caffeine on growing youth. In general, “developing teens should have no more than 100 mg of caffeine daily to the importance of sleep, brain development, inexperience with caffeine, and possibly unknown medical conditions,” according to CaffeineInformer.com. This is only one-and-a-half of an eightounce cup of regular-brewed coffee, or one-and-a-quarter Red Bulls. A single 5-hour En-
ergy shot has twice as much. Not every student believes that the energizing benefits of caffeine outweigh its risks. “As a senior, I know people who literally drink three cups of coffee, have increased adrenaline the entire night, and come into school with hangovers first period,” an anonymous senior said. “I don’t drink coffee because it’s, like, a drug, and it’s addicting. Whenever I drink it, I feel like I’m high, and I’m going beyond my mental capacity. I just sleep and drink water. Honestly, I’d rather fail a test than stay up and drink coffee for it. When I sleep, I process the information, and I do better on the test, anyway.” For Karim, coffee is more of an indulgent treat she enjoys with friends from time to time. “I like milk cappuccinos or caramel. It’s like a way of treating myself for a good grade.” In spite of the health risks, the student body doesn’t seem concerned with the potentially dangerous amounts of caffeine it consumes on a daily basis. If anything, our reliance on the drug is looked upon as something to laugh about. “Everyone in the morning is always joking, ‘Don’t talk to me until I get my coffee or Red Bull,’” Filosa said. “Even a lot of the teachers are okay with it. They don’t think of it as a problem, even when, if you think about it, it shows that none of us are getting enough sleep.”
“From the Heart,” An Alumna’s Children’s Book That Redefines Young Love By Cathy Cai and Fiona Cai It is almost the middle of February at Nieve Elementary School, and all the students—a classroom full of bears—are excited for the biggest holiday of the month. “Aim: Valentine’s Day!” is scrawled across the green chalkboard inside the gray and beige classroom. The bears chat amongst themselves, either talking to their neighboring classmates or walking over to other peers, discussing the big questions: who will send a card to whom? who will receive a card from whom? who will have the most beautiful card in the in the room? But in Sylvia Yu’s (‘16) book, “From the Heart,” these are not the questions that end up being answered. Instead of focusing on who will send a card to whom, she asks us to ponder: who can and should be allowed to send a card to whom? “Yukino loves Phoebe, whose sweetness makes her heart swirl. ‘But Ms. Frost,’ she asks, ‘can I send her a card if we are both girls?’” The storyline, which tests traditional conventions of love, was initially just a submission for the NY-Area Diverse Minds Writing Challenge, a competition in which high schoolers write and illustrate a children’s book that communicates messages of equality, along with religious tolerance and diversity. A friend who knew of her
interests in writing and drawing recommended that Yu apply during her senior year. Then, the submission won first place in the NY-Area region, earning Yu a $5000 scholarship and Stuyvesant a $500 grant. “[Writing has] always been a big part of my life. I write not only as a means of manifesting my feelings into words, but [to make] my feelings seem more real and concrete,” she explained. “I’m also reaching out to an audience and making them validate what they’re potentially feeling.” For this project, Yu’s initial mission was to normalize homosexuality for young children who are particularly sensitive to ideas otherwise stigmatized by the media and by society. Yu was inspired by her own bisexuality. “My first introduction to non-heterosexuality was when a friend of mine came out to me back when we were in middle school,” Yu said. “It was entirely unexpected, and I had no idea how to respond.” “Any attraction I had to girls, I associated as admiration, but to hear ‘bisexual’ for the first time then, I felt as if I were beginning to make sense of my own sentiments as well,” she described. However, although the thought of her being bisexual was rising to the surface, she didn’t come to terms with it until her junior year at Stuyvesant. Part of the reason was its absence from popular culture. “I felt like sexuality was confusing in general just because
you see lots of heterosexuality prominent in different sets of media,” Yu said. “If I had access to a book or just some form of media that said it’s okay to be non-heterosexual, that would have made my sexuality process when I was younger a lot less of a confusing stage.” Lately however, Yu noticed that kids’ TV shows have been trying to promote the acceptance of homosexuality. One of her major influences in writing the book, for example, came from the children’s animated series, “The Legend of Korra,” in which the main protagonist, an empowering female adolescent, is revealed to be bisexual by the end of the season. “It was a stepping stone in terms of children’s TV,” she said. “Generally, you see in Disney princess movies, the princess and her prince.”
Yu noticed that the TV show was very effective in reaching out to their viewers, because the children can connect to the characters, and thus wanted to spread her message in an equally relatable way. “I realized that a Valentine’s Day scenario was pretty common in elementary school,” she said. Yu, however, expanded her story to be inclusive of racial and ethnic toleration as well. “I originally had been considering honing in on only two girls, while keeping the Valentine’s Day theme, so it’d be a book focusing more on sexuality than anything else,” Yu said, “but I was dissatisfied, because I knew I could do more with the idea of love. Ultimately, I wanted to leave a greater message that, in regards to love, what matters most is not the other person’s gender, background, appear-
Courtesy of Sylvia Yu
ance, or imperfections, but who they inherently are.” Several pages into the book, bears of all fur colors, races, and physicalities come to ask their teacher, Ms. Frost, for some sage advice. “Ashura loves Dolores, for she is playful, loyal, and kind. ‘But Ms. Frost,’ he asks, ‘can I send her a card if she is blind?’” Yu was inspired by popular children’s books to use a repetitive structure and rhyme scheme. Two models she used for reference were Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree,” a story about selfless love, and Barbara Park’s Junie B. Jones series. Through this poetic and consistent setup, Yu is able to teach her readers an important lesson. Each of the scenarios for the bear’s Valentine’s Day problem may vary a little, yet Ms. Frost’s main piece of advice, the last sentence of her response to her student, always remains the same: “What matters the most is that you love her for her heart.” Currently, Yu is majoring in creative writing in hopes of honing her writing and drawing skills to become a better author and illustrator. Although she does see the structures of children’s books as an effective way to convey her message, Yu does not envision herself only writing for children. Her advice to aspiring writers? She said, “To write for what your younger self would want.”
The Spectator ● January 20, 2017
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The Spectator ● January 20, 2017
Editorials Staff Editorial
In Defense of Student Autonomy
Step is stomping, reverberating up to the ceilings; artists are on the floor, painting giant canvases; and students are sewing costumes underneath their desks during class. It’s SING! season and it’s madness, but it’s always worth it: in the end, each grade will come together to produce a hilarious, beautiful, and moving display of incredible passion and talent. What makes SING! so special is that it is entirely student-run—we are in Whole Foods writ-
What is “student autonomy”?
Autonomy refers to the freedom and control students have over their extracurricular activities. When we, the students, have autonomy, we organize ourselves, develop our own visions, and execute them together. In the process, we teach the next generation what we’re doing, so that they (rather than their adult supervisors) can ensure that the cycle continues. Our autonomy fuels the vibrant extracurricular life that makes Stuyvesant so special. However, recent events have led us to believe that our current freedoms may be at risk. We ask that the administration grant us the same independence that we have held previously, for it is this that allows us to thrive.
Student organizations of every size, from Big Sibs to the calligraphy club, are self-regulated and student-run, often with the insight of a faculty advisor. Some of these clubs are mature organizations with decades of history under their belts, and therefore are well-established and well-organized. The Spectator, for instance, produces 16 28-page papers a year, because for over 100 years, each generation has trained the next to do so. Not all clubs survive to pass down their legacy, but that is part of the learning experience. On our own, Stuyvesant students find and lead volunteering events, all the while cultivating relationships with charity organizations around the city. We conduct orchestral ensembles for the Stuyvesant Theater Community. We organize presentations about, say, the importance of films in Japanese culture, and then we lead club meetings where we teach each other about what we have learned. Our newspaper remains entirely financially independent because we sell ads to fund its printing, and our student government forms partnerships outside the school to help support student activities. We write charters so that we aren’t just groups of students getting together, but legitimate organizations. These documents are approved by the school to validate each organization, recognize its history, and defend its rights.
The Magic of Autonomy
Our autonomy is what sets Stuyvesant apart from other schools. Our peer schools, like Bronx Science, share academic rigor as a defining feature, but lack the independence that we have outside of the classroom. Faculty at Bronx Science are more heavily involved in extracurricular activities, and as a result, the culture surrounding extracurriculars is completely different. Faculty advisors take attendance at club meetings, adding stringency that transforms an extracurricular into just another class.
ing our own scripts, in hallways choreographing our own dances, in classrooms directing actors, and backstage using power-tools to construct our own sets. Aside from supervising rehearsals and ensuring that our material is in good taste, faculty members play little role in the creative process of SING!. Instead, students are granted a large degree of autonomy to produce the show, and it is this freedom that allows it to be so successful.
Therefore, students are less enthusiastic about extracurriculars. Their school newspaper produces just two issues a year. Their student government is less powerful and less involved, at least partly because the administration organizes the elections and forces students to vote in homeroom. (At Stuyvesant, the student-run Board of Elections organizes elections, and voting is optional.) Finally, there is not the same enthusiasm for SING!, which results in less student involvement and initiative. This disparity can be attributed to the fact that students are more likely to be inspired by each other than by faculty members. Simply put, the absence of adults is what makes extracurriculars fun. The more we enjoy our extracurriculars, the more likely we are to invest our time and energy into them. Having space allows us to be ourselves, and encourages creativity. The feeling of learning from your peers is different from learning from a faculty member, for there is less pressure and more room to make mistakes without “consequences.” Here, students teach each other everything from public speaking to writing, from dance to robotics. Most importantly, students teach each other how to lead. We learn how to assert ourselves, how to manage money, how to be open and available to underclassmen who depend on us for advice, and how to manage our own mistakes. None of this personal development would occur if we were not in charge of our own experiences.
Maintain the Status Quo
The mutual trust between the student body and the administration has allowed this environment of independence to exist for so many years. Recently, however, small changes have impinged on the autonomy we have known and come to expect. For example, the Student Union Suite, the site of the student lounge and offices for four of Stuyvesant’s largest organizations, has been closed to student use for well over a month. Instead, the space is being used as an operating center for the IDNYC program. Instead of establishing the program in a space like the lobby, where other organizations such as the Blood Drive set up their equipment, the administration has planted IDNYC in the one place where students expect and deserve to have their rights protected. The arrangement also blocks the Student Union’s access to their meeting place and The Spectator’s access to a century’s worth of archives. For the past few years, the doors to the Student Union Suite have been kept open so that the room can be considered an extension of the hallway, a compromise that allows students to use the space freely without the presence of
a supervisor. This is a compromise we value immensely. But as the days pass and the doors remain shut to us, our discontent grows. Because Stuyvesant students often live far away from each other, it is difficult to organize large club or team gatherings in places other than the school itself. The building is a valuable resource for students and teachers alike, providing ample space and technology to practice dance routines, prepare for debate tournaments, work on projects, enjoy time with friends, and more. Before this year, the “Five O’Clock Rule,” which stipulates that students must leave the building after 5:00 p.m. unless a supervising adult is present, was enforced with a degree of leniency. Recently, however, faculty members have begun to roam the hallways long before the time students must leave, curtly telling various groups to exit the building. When the administration idiosyncratically enforces the rules that govern our student life, it breeds resentment and tension between students and faculty and diminishes the quality of the work we do after 3:35. For example, StuySquad, our dance organization, has consistently utilized school hallways as rehearsal spaces. Recently, however, students have been told by faculty members that they cannot dance in the hallways, and that many of their most impressive routines are too dangerous to be performed. Taking away StuySquad’s practice space and preventing them from performing their routines puts a damper on their potential. We are unable to do our best work for our extracurriculars if we don’t have the space or the freedom to do so. With the SING! season upon us, we feel that, more than ever, it is necessary to reaffirm our agreement with the administration to organize and develop our own productions, free from unnecessary intervention from school faculty. This means being able to write our scripts without strict censorship, choose our own student leaders without faculty intervention, and have the same amount of time and freedom for producing the show that we have always had. We are not arguing for complete freedom from administrative oversight; this is, after all, a high school. But, when faculty members make judgment calls that impact the work we pour passion and effort into, they create an atmosphere of distrust and animosity that dulls the magic that brought many students to Stuyvesant in the first place. Stuyvesant students have shown, time and time again, that we can handle the responsibilities given to us in this school. From planning prom to coordinating SING! and graduation day, our students have proven themselves to be worthy leaders. We deserve to be treated as such.
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The Spectator ● January 20, 2017
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A Foreign Policy Revolution
By Evan Lieberman
A poised, bold Barack Obama took the stage in Oslo, Norway in December of 2009. For weeks, the world had scoffed at the decision to award the young president the Nobel Peace Prize. Just months before, Obama had taken his seat in the Oval Office; now, he was receiving one of the most esteemed international prizes for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” Yet, in the wake of the controversy, Obama delivered perhaps the most eloquent expressions of what could now be known as the Obama Doctrine: a large dose of cold realism with a hint of idealistic internationalism. It is this single struggle to balance cunning realpolitik with liberalism abroad that has defined Obama’s foreign policy. As
his presidency winds down and we are given a chance to reflect on America’s role in the world these past eight years, it is clear that Obama’s internal ideological conflict has yielded truly mixed results. On one hand, a cautious foreign policy and an affinity for diplomacy over intervention has greatly helped American international interests, resulting in a successful nuclear deal with Iran and less talk of great power conflict with China. However, fear of a “quagmire” in Syria allowed more sinister powers to intervene and the consequence was one of the greatest humanitarian crises of the past decade. The few attempts Obama made to promote liberalism abroad were also quite mixed in their consequences. In the waning days of his presidency, we
might like to simply give Obama a thumbs up or thumbs down, but reality rules this impossible. After eight years of an administration that emphasized preemptive, unilateral action, and an at-all-costs devotion to advancing “liberty and hope” abroad, Obama’s election marked a sharp shift in America’s approach to foreign policy. In front of hundreds of pacifist Norwegians, Obama firmly expressed his belief in the concept of a “just war,” and yet also stated that “the promotion of human rights cannot be about exhortation alone. At times, it must be coupled with painstaking diplomacy.” The context of this doctrine is incredibly important. The violence and tragedy produced by the Bush Doctrine bogged down U.S. forces across the Middle East, destroyed the
American image on the international stage, and despite spending trillions of dollars, did not increase American power abroad. Obama was wise to advocate for a policy of change. This article, part of a two-part series analyzing Obama’s foreign policy legacy, examines how the President has influenced American relations in Asia and Latin America. In these two incredibly important regions, the Obama administration’s policy has mostly been successful. By employing his realist principles while also advocating for liberalism abroad, Obama has strengthened American alliances and increased American power in Latin America and Asia, setting a standard for diplomacy that his successor would be wise to maintain.
has not yielded short term victories, but it is the best, most levelheaded solution to a complex, potentially violent dispute that does not necessarily threaten U.S. interests in the region. The Chinese Belt and Road initiative, however, poses a greater threat to American hegemony and even the liberal international order. Through various infrastructure projects worth trillions of dollars, China has sought to advance its soft power worldwide as well as increase economic connections between Asia and Europe. Its creation of institutions such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank to carry out this project undermines western institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which have dominated international finance since the end of World War II. The Obama administration attempted to oppose the project and pushed for its allies
not to participate, a plea which was not heeded. While these projects technically do mark a challenge to U.S. interests, their realization is inevitable. Viewing the Chinese Belt and Road initiative in such zero-sum terms has prevented the U.S. from taking advantage of efforts that could yield important economic benefits. The “pivot” or “rebalancing” towards Asia embodies Obama’s attempt to rework the Bush policy that dominated between 2000 and 2008. In his efforts, the results have been more cooperation with China and strengthened relations with countries that will define international economics in the years to come. While the failure of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) represents an inability to fully realize this goal, there is no doubt that Obama leaves office with far stronger alliances and increased dominance in Asia, an essential factor in preventing an aggressive rise in China’s power.
the United States’ often negative image in the region. Thanks to the reversal of the Pink Tide, American relations with governments such as those of Argentina and Peru have greatly improved. With Venezuela and Brazil temporarily forced to turn inwards and China no longer pursuing economic dominance in Latin America, the future is bright for strong American influence south of the border. Obama’s alterations to the status quo should only make this optimistic vision more likely. In his foreign policy toward Asia and Latin America, Obama attempted to enact his ideals of America’s role in the world. By pursuing participation in Asian diplomatic organizations
and strengthening alliances in the east, Obama achieved his vision of multilateralism and constructed a unified front to soften the edges of China’s rise. Through a restoration of relations with Cuba, Obama accomplished what his realist impulses dictated: rejecting a hawkish, antiquated cold-war policy for the reestablishment of an important diplomatic relationship with the potential to speed up the process of Cuban democratization. After an administration obsessed with flexing American muscle abroad, Obama’s policy in Latin America and Asia was a fresh reminder of the importance of soft power and alliances to American interests abroad.
Asia Obama’s policy changes first materialized in a “pivot” to Asia. In this sense, Obama rejected the obsession with the Middle East that had captivated American foreign policy for the past two decades. He instead looked to redirect efforts toward addressing the threats and challenges of a rising China as well as consolidating relations with countries such as Japan and Korea, predicting wisely that this was going to be the region that would define the international order in the 21st century. Like most of Obama’s foreign policy legacy, the success of the policy has been mixed, but it still remains one of the greater accomplishments of the administration abroad. By joining the East-Asia Summit, conducting meaningful dialogues with the Association of Southeastern Asian Nations (ASEAN), and signing a free trade agreement with South Korea, America has displayed a devotion to its allies in the re-
gion. The widespread embitterment in the East during the Bush Administration due to perceived American indifference had weakened key U.S. alliances, and the greatest success of Obama’s Asia policy came in counteracting this loss of faith. In recent years, these alliances have been essential in deterring Chinese aggression, and fears of driving Japan and Korea further into the hands of America have been sufficient enough to push China to attempt to reign in North Korea. China has now shown promising signs of greater international participation, supporting humanitarian efforts with increasing frequency in the United Nations, as well as cooperating on fighting climate change, most notably by ratifying the Paris Climate Agreement. The greatest failures in Asia come in American responses to both Chinese aggression in the South China Sea and China’s Belt and Road initiative. Territorial dis-
putes between China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam concerning most notably the Paracel and Spratly islands in the South China Sea have created fearful tensions in East Asia. Hostilities have only been augmented in recent years by China’s infrastructure and island development efforts in the disputed territory, resulting in the construction of threatening facilities such as runways and satellite communication equipment, as well as anti-aircraft weaponry. It is clear that this dispute possesses the potential to be a greatly destabilizing factor. Realistically, however, this situation is unsolvable in the short term, so while an inability to deter China here is essentially a failure, it is difficult to imagine other actions that could have brought about superior outcomes. Obama’s strategy of consolidating alliances, conducting freedom of navigation operations, and building a multilateral opposition to aggressions
Latin America rights abuses that followed it and made little legitimate effort to return the exiled president to power. Luckily, however, new elections were held in Honduras later that year. While Obama was able to obtain certain important victories for liberal democracy in Central America, his cautious first term allowed for abuses such as those seen in Honduras. Renewed diplomatic relations with Cuba is one of the finest examples of Obama’s realist belief in pursuing cooperation and finding common ground whenever possible. While controversial, this decision will no doubt be one of his greatest legacies in the region. The American embargo against Cuba and the hostile relations of the past half century have done nothing to prevent human rights abuses in that country. Instead, these policies have made life miserable for millions of Cubans, fueled the Cuban narrative that blames the United States for its economic problems, and garnered international sympathy and support for Cuba. While the embargo still stands, diplomatic rapprochement with Cuba under Obama has resulted in exceptions to the policy, such as allowing for the much-needed trade of construction materials. Furthermore, the restoration of full diplomatic relations between the two countries and Obama’s 2014 visit to Havana have set the stage for changes in the status quo that are necessary to bring about the easing of Communist policies. During Obama’s time as president, Raúl Castro has taken steps to liberalize the Cuban real estate market and increase freedoms for small businesses, among other reforms. It is true that Cuba’s slide toward more liberal gover-
nance has moved at too slow of a pace; however, there is no doubt that Obama’s decision to reverse hawkish, dogmatic policies has aided the democratization process greatly. Perhaps the greatest threat to American interests in Latin America has been the increasing economic presence of China. Due to the commodity boom of the mid-2000’s, China has replaced the United States as the largest trade partner for some of the wealthiest Latin American nations, such as Chile and Peru. While the fears of a complete loss of American power in the region are unfounded, a shift towards the east on the part of certain Latin American countries has no doubt taken place. Obama’s efforts to pass the TPP represented a noble attempt to regain American economic influence in the Pacific Alliance, a powerful Latin American trade bloc consisting of Chile, Peru, Mexico and Colombia. Fortunately, despite the trade agreement’s failure, Asian dominance in Latin America has shrunk, thanks in part to slowing Chinese growth, in addition to the subsequent decrease in demand for commodities. In reality, the Obama administration’s relations with Latin America for the most part represented a maintenance of the foreign policy status quo established under Bush. Obama continued to act hostile toward leftist governments, such as those of Bolivia’s Evo Morales, sometimes for justified reasons. The limited shifts in strategy, however, have been significant. Obama was able to reconcile his idealism and his realism by fighting corruption in Guatemala while also restoring relations with Cuba. These actions do a great deal to improve
Vivian Lin / The Spectator
In Latin America, Obama’s mix of realpolitik and idealism is fully revealed. In contrast to the long and controversial history of direct American involvement in Latin America, American policy toward the region has become far less involved in recent years. In this sense, Obama has realized his commitment to avoiding unnecessary intervention. Lucky political changes in the region have improved relations between the U.S. and Latin America, most notably through the reversal of the Pink Tide: the rejection of the neoliberal “Washington Consensus” that ushered in left-wing leaders at the turn of the 21st century. Additionally, the recession and corruption scandals that have shaken Brazil in recent years were severe enough to undermine a powerful country that represented an opposing force to American influence in Latin America. Thanks to the economic pressures of Vice President Joe Biden in 2015, Guatemala’s former president, Otto Pérez, was forced to fire corrupt officials and renew the mandate of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala. This same organization was responsible for the investigation later that year that exposed Pérez’s corruption ring and resulted in his resignation and subsequent prosecution. Despite this particular success in Central America, it is correct to criticize Obama for his weak response to the Honduran coup of 2009. While Obama did call for the respect for democracy in the country, contrary to the false accusations from the farleft that his administration supported the military’s actions, he did not offer a strong condemnation of the coup or the human
The Spectator ● January 20, 2017
Mika Simoncelli / The Spectator
Determining Trump’s Damage to Obama’s Domestic Policy
By Michael Espinosa President Barack Obama gave his farewell address from Chicago last week with a domestic legacy in jeopardy. President Donald J. Trump and a Republican Congress seem poised to undo everything Obama has done in the United States in his two terms in office. Odds are, few major Obama policies will make it through the next four years untouched. Many Democrats consider the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—known more colloquially as Obamacare—as the biggest accomplishment of the Obama Administration. Thanks to Obamacare, 30 million more Americans now have health insurance. Unfortunately, it will likely be the first policy to fall. Conservatives have begun calls to repeal Obamacare and seem poised to focus their resources on eliminating the law. Senate Republicans have already passed measures that prevent Democrats from filibustering key ACA components. Republicans only need fiftyone votes (instead of the standard of sixty to end a filibuster) to gut
Obamacare. Most notably, part of the law’s nucleus, sections that require employers and individuals to have health insurance, are slated to fall. Without those mandates, the Affordable Care Act cannot sustain itself, because there are not enough people paying into the system to keep costs affordable. If Democrats want to fight the collapse of our healthcare system, they will have to oppose any repeal of Obamacare with tooth and nail. On immigration policiesy, the President Obama has had to go over Congress to help protect the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the United States. One executive order, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), currently authorizes work permits for people who arrived in the country as children. It does not provide legal status but it does shield children and young adults from deportation to a country some never knew. The other policy, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), would have also shielded parents of citizens from deportation. While the former remains in effect, the latter was struck down by a federal court, a decision upheld by a tied Supreme Court. If Trump wishes to undo the former, he can do so with the stroke of a pen. Since DACA is an executive order—signed by Obama without any approval from Congress— Trump can easily create another order rendering it void. Doing so would be controversial: many undocumented immigrants live in large, so-called “sanctuary cities” like New York and Los Angeles. These large cities also house the liberal elite Trump railed against on the campaign trail. Repealing DACA would put Trump at odds with the Democratic mayors of those cities, but at the same time, galvanize support from the rural
base that carried him to victory in November. While undoing another keystone in Obama’s legacy, he would attempt to fulfill his campaign promise of deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants. When Obama took office, he inherited one of the worst economic disasters in history. Since then, the economy has made a strong recovery in part because of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The law authorized the federal government to give billions of dollars to states and municipalities to fund infrastructure projects, prevent teacher layoffs, invest in clean energy, and more. In addition to signing the stimulus package into law, the Obama Administration also intervened in the automotive industry by purchasing stakes in the thenfailing General Motors. Today, GM employ tens of thousands of Americans. Overall unemployment is at a low not seen since 2007, before the Great Recession. One would think that a stimulus package of over $800 billion and a $51 billion auto industry bailout would cause our debt to skyrocket, and that is partially true; the United States’ debt is at an all-time high, but that is not the whole story: part of the money the government borrowed was used to finance the Recovery Act. Despite debt continuing to climb since then, the federal budget deficit—the difference between government spending and revenue— has been on the decline. Such a trend will not continue if Donald Trump’s proposed tax cuts come into effect. Cutting taxes without a simultaneous cut in spending will
drive the national debt up even higher and put the United States at the risk of bankruptcy. Obama has also been a strong supporter of environmental policy. Though his stance on the Dakota Access Pipeline has been relatively weak, he has shown that he is willing to oppose similar projects. He vetoed the Keystone XL Pipeline project and created the largest natural reserve on the planet through his expansion of Hawaii’s Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. The Obama Administration also helped forge the Paris Agreement to mitigate greenhouse gas emission and in December, indefinitely closed off large parts of the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans from oil drilling and helped forge the Paris Agreement. (The Paris Agreement isn’t strictly domestic policy, but still worth mentioning because power in the United States plants have already reached emissions quota for 2024.) However, it’s unlikely that these policies will continue under President Trump, who has nominated deniers of climate change to his
Klaire Geller / The Spectator
cabinet. Trump owns stock in companies financing the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Republican Congress can reopen drilling in closed waters by passing another law, and the Paris agreement, too, has a hazy future. Obama has a strong record on social issues. In 2009 he signed into law the Matthew Shepard Act, expanding criteria for hate crimes to include members of the LGBT community. People who identify as LGBT are also now allowed to serve openly in the military because of the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Obama was not only the first president to call for full equality for the gay community, but has also acted to fulfill his promise. Perhaps the biggest win for social activists during Obama’s tenure was the Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage. Though Obama can’t take direct credit for the decision, he did appoint two liberal Justices whose legacies will extend far beyond Obergefell v. Hodges. Indeed, Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor will bring both diversity and a strong liberal presence to the court for years to come. While that is something Donald Trump cannot undo, he will tip the court in his favor by appointing a conservative justice to fill the vacancy left by Antonin Scalia. In short, Obama has worked hard to help move America in the right direction. His stances on issues ranging from the economy to health care helped him build a strong fortress of liberal policies over the past eight years. However, the future of that fortress is dubious as Donald Trump stands at its gate.
Kaia Waxenberg / The Spectator
The Good Life
By Stiven Peter Meet David, a young adult in Port Clinton whose story is told in the sociological text “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis.” David’s parents separated when he was little; his father was sent to prison and his mother moved out. “I never really got to see my mom that much. She was never there,” David said. To deal with the stress, he often smoked marijuana or stayed away from home. He had trouble finding work outside of temporary jobs. Additionally, his girlfriend left him after she gave birth and now lives with a drug addict. Distraught by her betrayal and deadend jobs, he wrote on Facebook, “I just want to feel whole again. I’ll never get ahead!” Despite this, David still tries to see his daughter as much as possible and give her the love he was deprived of. David’s actions reveal fundamental truths of human existence: that we are social animals, that we are the unity of body and soul with both bodily and spiritual needs and that the good life is one that fulfills these needs morally. Understanding these truths is vital, as they provide a guideline for how to lead our lives. One of these aspects is that
humans do not exist in isolation, but rather, in relationships with others; David’s impoverished relationship with his parents and girlfriend creates both economic and spiritual poverty for him. We always exist in the midst of communities that shape our lives and give context to our actions. These communities—families, schools, civic groups, and churches—to some extent, define us. In fact, our self-esteem is derived from what others think of us. We brag about how many likes we get on our profile picture. We get mad, even hurt, when people don’t text us back. In short, we are defined by our relationships, and we fulfill our basic needs in the midst of others. These basic needs differ in kind and importance and correspond to who we are as human beings: a dynamic unity of body and spirit. First, there are basic bodily needs, which are the most primal: food, clean water, shelter, etc. To deny someone these requirements is to deny someone life. Additionally, we have extra material needs: without financial security, we live our lives in fundamental uncertainty and anxiety. However, our needs are not only material; they are also spiritual. While David lives in financial poverty, he is spiritually impoverished as well. He desires the love and moral guidance that his parents should have provided, not wealth. Moreover, his primary goal in life has become showing love to his daughter, not material success. Spiritual need, which ranks higher than bodily needs when searching for fulfillment, is a need to find value in life: to have a sense of higher purpose and meaning. This need is deeper, richer, and longer lasting than the others and is fulfilled in a variety of ways. Fulfillment often comes when we give ourselves to something bigger, or other than ourselves. That is, our sense of higher purpose is our
sense to find completion by taking part in activities that primarily benefit others. We commonly feel this need through a desire to make an impact, whether it is in school, by joining clubs like Red Cross or The Spectator, our local community, by getting involved in our community board, or the world. Fulfilling this need is why people leave high-paying jobs at Goldman Sachs to pursue their passion. Personally, I used to scoff at people who would do that or at students who would major in theater or art in college. It was absurd in my mind because it would be financially destructive. However, now I see that they understand the importance of spiritual needs. Indeed, if our lives are oriented toward merely material gain, then we will be, as Martin Luther King said, “More concerned about making a living than making a life.” That is to say, in our concern for material gain, we lose sight of the need to find wholeness and richness in life. To be sure, material gain is necessary to live a whole life, but it is not sufficient. With an understanding of human needs, we can construct a moral system. An action is moral if it acknowledges and uplifts their humanity as a dignified being with biological, emotional, and spiritual needs. As Martin Luther King said, “Any law that uplifts the human personality is just. Any law that degrades the human personality is unjust.” MLK used this model to justify civil disobedience: segregation laws degrade human personality by treating a class of humans unequally, hence they are immoral and should be reformed. This understanding of morality can be applied to our personal lives as well. Take, for example, bragging about grades, a common practice in our school. On one hand, the celebration of academic achievement uplifts our mental abilities. However, bragging about grades goes beyond celebration, as
it is used to degrade the humanity of others and ourselves by reducing people’s rich complexity and worth to a simple number. Living a whole, or good, life is the fundamental concern in many of our actions. Whether it is staying up all night studying or waking up early Saturday morning to volunteer, we do such things because we believe that they help us live a good life. But given our previous observations, what does it mean to live the good life? I believe we now have the ideas and concepts to construct a skeleton of an answer. For one thing, the purpose of life can be said to fulfill our biological, material, and spiritual ends. Therefore, a good life is one that accomplishes these ends using moral means and habits. These means are commonly referred to as virtues, character traits rooted in Greek, Confucian, and Judeo-Christian traditions. Although they are old, these virtues serve as a tested model to cultivate good character. One is temperance, which refers to moderation in physical and material pleasures. This can be cultivated through self-control of our desires. Another virtue is courage, which is the desire to persevere through hardship. Another one is justice, which is treating people the way they deserve to be treated. Most importantly, there is love, which is the self-giving of one toward another. Using wisdom, which is correct judgement, we can apply these virtues to behavior and fulfill our needs. We should act in order to cultivate these virtues, which will help us become better persons. Actions that do not cultivate these virtues can even destroy our relationships with others. Take social media: an obsession with the number of likes on a picture, or whether or not a friend messaged you back, can lead to a lack of temperance, or addiction. Addiction is totalizing, and social media can soon con-
sume a person’s priorities, encouraging procrastination. Moreover, social media is impersonal: interactions are carried out through the security of a screen, which often encourages unjust actions one would never take in real life. In this way, social media can encourage unloving behavior, affecting how we perceive ourselves and other people. This is not to say that social media is inherently bad, but rather that a lack of temperance and right judgement can lead to destructive outcomes. In fact, social media can be used to pursue good goals such as connecting with others and finding important information. Through good judgement, we are able to determine the limits to which we can use social media and use it to become more virtuous. The end goal of practicing these virtues and leading a moral life is communion. Communion is a state that consists of both personal harmony, the just ordering and attainment of personal desires, and social harmony, the just ordering of societal norms and structures. The key to achieving a life in which we meet all our desires is by living a moral life that uplifts those around us. Therefore, the good life is not led selfishly. While many of us are concerned with our own selfinterest, like bragging about our grades, a fulfilling and moral life leads to the good of others. There is no dichotomy between self and group. Rather, they are all brought together in the harmony of communion. Achieving communion requires us to live out the truths ascertained in this article. Like medicine, these truths are meaningless unless they are appropriated. We do not need to just agree with these ideas but live them out. We need to appropriate, embrace, and indwell these truths by acting on them. Our lives should then be a performance of these truths, lived out in our relationships.
The Spectator ● January 20, 2017
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The Spectator ● January 20, 2017
Arts and Entertainment Music Review
of “The Hamilton Mixtape”
By Julia Amoroso On December 2, 2016, the eagerly awaited “Hamilton Mixtape” was finally released, after weeks of teaser songs and anticipation. Yet, even before the release, the Mixtape divided Hamilton fans. Many were all for the Mixtape, anxiously prepared for its debut. But others were hesitant about the idea, concerned about it not living up to the original, or even overshadowing it. The Mixtape features an array of different takes on the original songs from the Broadway musical “Hamilton,” from full-out covers, such as “Burn” by Andra Day, to old school, DJ-style remixes, like “Take A Break (Interlude)” by !llmind. However, the Mixtape also features a new kind of remix, created by artists who take fragments of songs from the original recording and rework it to fit their own personal experiences. Seen in songs like “Wrote My Way Out” by Nas, Dave East, LinManuel Miranda, and Aloe Blacc, and “Immigrants (We Get The Job Done)” by K’naan, Snow Tha Product, Riz MC, and Residente, the Mixtape reflects on society. In the song “Immigrants (We Get The Job Done),” this culturally diverse group raps about the rising xenophobia in America. Based on the originally uproarious line “Immigrants, we get the job done” from the song “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down),” the artists transformed the song from a victorious declaration after the victory of the revolutionary war to a reflection of our current political climate. The song starts with an interlude by J. Period, whose non-rhythmic rap is somewhat reminiscent of a newscast, as he
In Memoriam By Eliana Kavouriadis Sixty-year-old Hollywood legend Carrie Fisher drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra on December 27, 2016. It only seems appropriate that Carrie Fisher would die in this enchanted manner. After all, she lived her life soaring through the Milky Way in extravagant lingerie, and her humor, wit, and unparalleled creativity was the stuff of stars. Technically, Fisher’s official cause of death was heart complications from a severe heart attack on December 23, but the world has chosen to accept the former explanation of this untimely tragedy. In her autobiography and one-woman show “Wishful Drinking” (2008), one of her most famous lines is, “I tell my younger friends that no matter how I go, I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.” And so it must be written in the books that this is how she went. Best known for her role in the “Star Wars” franchise, Fisher not only died in space, but she established her career there. She debuted as Princess Leia Organa, the leader of the Rebel Alliance set out to destroy the Death Star, in the 1977 film “Star Wars.” The film was an immense success, becoming the highest-grossing film of its time, and the brave and charismatic Leia was one of its most beloved characters. Fisher has reprised the role in five movies since, the last of which is projected to come out at the end of this year. In her 45-year career,
The Hamilton Mixtape: Odes to Diversity discusses the prejudice facing immigrants in our country today. Throughout the song, we can see the ethnic diversity of these artists, and the experiences that they each faced being immigrants. K’naan raps, “Man, I was brave, sailing on graves / Don’t think I didn’t notice those tombstones disguised as waves,” describing his experiences immigrating to escape the Somali Civil War. The song also examines how immigrants must work so much harder than others for the same opportunities, contributing to the common theme of hard work on the Mixtape. After three verses of strong, fast rap in English (plus one in Spanish), the song ends by combining the words “Look how far I’ve come” with a remnant of an original line from “Yorktown,” “not yet,” symbolizing that though immigrants may work hard, they still have a long way to go before receiving complete equality. On the other hand, the Mixtape also features songs like “ Wa s h i n g t o n s on Your Side” by Wiz Khalifa. This song started as wordplay on the original song “Washington By Your Side,” which celebrates George Washington’s presidential terms, but Khalifa stated that he wanted it to be about money and status instead. In this song, he explains that when you “have Washingtons on your side,” everything
comes easy. However, these politically relevant songs haven’t been received with completely positive reviews. Many fans worry that by connecting Hamilton to current issues, artists are taking away the magic of it. That said, the whole point of the Mixtape, or a remix in general, is to change the original, create something fresh and new, and make a statement; this is what LinManuel Miranda set out to do when he first conceived the idea of creating “Hamilton.” Miranda originally envisioned the musical as a mixtape, but later switched to a
Anne Chen / The Spectator
musical, and his revisitation of a mixtape is brilliant. It isn’t only the remixes that shine through on the album. Many of the covers are outstanding, and Miranda even includes
songs cut from the musical. “History Has Its Eyes On You,” “Burn,” “Helpless,” and “Dear Theodosia” were all on the original album, yet they truly shine in the voices of some of today’s greatest artists, like John Legend, Andra Day, Ashanti, and Regina Spektor. Legend’s gospel take on “History Has It’s Eyes On You” makes the completely unromantic song seem smooth and dreamy. The original song features the character of George Washington describing to Hamilton the many mistakes he made in his first military battle, and ends with Washington telling Hamilton that he has solidified a place in history, and needs to watch his step, so as to keep this reputation positive. Instead of sticking to the original tune, Legend slows the song down, successfully transforming this song into a crooning gospel ballad. “Helpless” was undoubtedly the song that made me like “Hamilton.” Inspired by Beyoncé’s “Countdown,” this upbeat and happy song is unlike any other Broadway tune out there, and details the courtship between Eliza Schuyler and Alexander Hamilton, culminating in their marriage. I worried that the remix would not live up to the original song. Yet “Helpless” by Ashanti featuring Ja Rule has once again become one of my favorites on the album. These two artists have such powerful voices that they can each project their own personality onto this song without even having to change the tune, the style, or even most of the words.
However, covers just aren’t always as good as songs that take risks, like remixes. Kelly Clarkson’s “It’s Quiet Uptown” doesn’t dig into the emotion that the song holds. This song features Eliza Hamilton mourning the death of her son, but, by taking the character’s names out, Clarkson creates a watered-down, deadpan version of the original song. Instead of the original piano ballad, the song is carried by an oversynthesized bass line that makes this sentimental song feel instead like a generic pop tune found on the the radio. Because the album is filled with both covers and remixes, there are certain songs that feel out of place. Randomly placed songs like “Stay Alive (Interlude)” by J. Period that sound like DJ remixes, even complete with record scratches, seem ill-suited when juxtaposed with brilliantly written raps and beautiful covers. This idea of not fitting in, however, is a common trend in the album, especially since some songs discuss modern issues, while others speak of events from over 200 years ago. This causes the Mixtape to lose the flow that the original soundtrack had, where it was sometimes hard to tell when one song ended and another began. The Mixtape’s drawbacks are overshadowed by the magnificently constructed raps that can relate songs to issues happening today and the covers of original songs that make the listener see the song in a whole new way. Though these two types of songs seem very different, they work together beautifully, taking the theme of misfit and elevating it to be integrated smoothly in this album.
Why Carrie Fisher was the Galactic Hero We All Needed
she has also been involved in numerous other famous projects, like “The Blues Brothers,” (1980) “Shampoo,” (1975) and “When Harry Met Sally” (1989). However, Fisher’s role as America’s favorite warrior princess extends beyond the realm of “Star Wars.” The real-life Carrie Fisher was a hero and a trailblazer in her own right, outspoken about her struggles with drug addiction, alcoholism, and her mental health in a refreshing, unprecedented way. Despite all of the stigmas surrounding addictions and mental disorders, Fisher was able to directly and nonchalantly speak about her own. “I have a chemical imbalance that, in its most extreme state, will lead me to a mental hospital,” she remarked when referring to her bipolar disorder in a 2000 ABC News interview. For the majority of her life, her bipolar disorder went undiagnosed, and she dealt with manic depressive episodes while basking in the public eye. She attributed her manic tendencies to her drug addiction, concluding that she was “just someone who could not stop taking drugs willfully. And I was that. But it turns out that I am severely manic depressive.” Acknowledging her drug addiction in an offhanded remark was unusual and refreshingly honest. Her blunt words reminded the world that even princesses are flawed—this was who she was, and you were going to love her for it. This lovely, inspiring message was well-received her
fans, many of whom were young, impressionable girls. Fisher’s outspokenness did not hinder upon her widespread success as she continued to discuss these topics on platforms, like her published writing and news outlets. She explained to ABC News that her bipolar disorder caused her to have extreme mood swings, which she had personified as a bickering couple who were always at odds with each other. “One is Roy, rollicking Roy, the wild ride of a mood,” she said. “And Pam, sediment Pam, who stands on the shore and sobs…Sometimes the tide is in, sometimes it’s out.” She speaks of her manic depression at length in HBO’s upcoming documentary, “Bright Lights,” (2017) which follows the lives of her and her mother, the late star Debbie Reynolds, who died a day after Fisher. “I went too fast,” she said in the film’s trailer. “I was too much. I couldn’t handle it.” The documentary not only focuses on how Fisher dealt with her depression, but also how it affected her loved ones. Reynolds weighs in on what it was like to have a daughter with bipolar disorder. “Manic depression is a disease that was not diagnosed [when Carrie was young],” Reynolds remarks. “So nobody knew what was going on with Carrie.” Since the rise in mental disorder diagnoses is relatively recent, there are still many misconceptions and negative stereotypes surrounding these disorders. Useful information being spread
through personal accounts in documentaries like these will help educate the general population and end widespread stigmas. Sometimes, the discussion about her mental health was even delivered comedically. Fisher was known for her sharp wit and selfdeprecating sense of humor, a reputation that came about as she started to write more in the latter half of her life. Some of her most personal and humorous writing could be found in “Wishful Drinking.” In “Wishful Drinking,” she called herself crazy on numerous accounts, but the outlook on her mental health was ultimately positive and inspiring, stating that “living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls” and it’s “something to be proud of, not ashamed of.” Comedy is often rooted in sadness and insecurity, serving as a coping mechanism for negative feelings. Fisher’s humor served a purpose, lightening and normalizing a haunting mental illness. She was able to help both herself and her fans by being able to share her struggle with bipolar disorder in a casual manner. Whether she was articulating the isolating feeling of depression or telling an embarrassing, bawdy tale in a brash manner, Fisher had
done so with poise and confidence. In many ways, she was truly an anomaly, commenting on life with a heart and honesty like no other. The world may be a dark, terrifying place where a staggering number of Americans suffer from mental disorders and substance abuse, but a certain space princess—and self-proclaimed “space slut”—was able to make it a little bit brighter. She faced the darkness head-on, laughed at it, cried at it, and expressed her feelings about it with an audience of millions. When she ascended into the sky for the final time, a little bit of the world’s brightness escaped us. However, her memory will live on in our hearts, book pages, and movie screens. Whenever we’re feeling lonely, we can just look to the stars.
Alex Lin / The Spectator
The Spectator ● January 20, 2017
Arts and Entertainment Student Arts
The 2016 Holiday Concert and Art Show Deck the Halls With Boughs of Talent
By Chelsea Cheung, Cosmo Coen, Eliana Kavouriadis, and Sophie Feng The Holiday Concert and Art Show are Stuyvesant traditions where the art, technology, and music departments present a semester’s hard work to the school. While we have a reputation for having a STEM focus, we also have strong visual and performing arts programs, as displayed by the breadth of talent in this year’s show.
ART Every mid to late December, student artwork adorns the lobby and the half floor to bring holiday festivity to Stuyvesant. Exhibiting a variety of media, the artwork showcases a range of artistic talent within the Stuyvesant student body. This year’s array of artwork was especially impressive. Freshmen art appreciation classes put together colorful murals, and 5tech, 10tech, and drafting classes put individual student projects on display. Fine arts clubs, like the Origami Club, also had the opportunity to showcase their work. Many exhibits focused on a certain style of artwork or an educational goal set by the teacher of a class. However, regardless of the specific goals being met, each exhibit came together to make for an inspiring, breathtaking 2016 Art Show. Here are a few of the show’s highlights:
Paintings Sophie Feng / The Spectator
One side of the lobby was dominated by colorful artwork from art teacher Jane Karp’s and art teacher Dr. Susan Barrow’s painting electives. In these classes, students used various techniques and media to depict different places and objects. When reflecting upon what she had learned in Dr. Barrow’s class, sophomore Emme Wong said, “Everyone’s style is unique. There’s no ‘right’ way to paint.” Wong’s painting of cans and bottles had impeccable shading and attention to detail. “I aspire to be a realist,” she remarked. “I just paint what I see.” Wong’s realism, however, was not a commonality among the paintings in Dr. Barrow’s exhibit. Senior Alicia Kwok, in her painting of vases, used harsher, more defined lines and unrealistic shades of yellow, orange, and blue. Kwok’s bold aesthetic choices were eye-catching and somewhat fauvist in nature.
Sophie Feng / The Spectator
The outskirts of the art show were lined with the digital projects from yechnology teacher Joel Winston’s Digital Photography and Graphic Arts classes. The wall under the staircase was dotted with artwork created in Photoshop by the Graphic Arts 5tech. They used the software to alter preexisting photos, cut and paste photos to form collages, and work with paint and text. One of the objectives of the course was to use Photoshop as a graphic designer would in the professional world. As such, many of the student projects in the Graphic Arts 5tech served greater purposes. For example, junior Eva Yan’s piece titled “Polar Bear,” an image of a polar bear with graffiti spray painted on its back, was an advertisement for the World Wildlife Fund. Just above the Graphic Arts projects, scores of photos from Mr. Winston’s Digital Photography 10tech lined the walls leading to the half floor. The works vastly differed in composition, from a sweeping, colorful shot of a New York City street (senior Michelle Chang Wu), to a dim, dramatic silhouette of a hand carrying water (senior Jannatul Ahmed). The uniqueness of each photo reflected on the individual perspective and approach of each student, but taken together, the artistry of the class as a whole was highly evident.
Architecture Not all of the student artwork used traditional two-dimensional media. In technology/art teacher Leslie Bernstein’s 3D Arts and Technology class, a new senior 10tech offered at Stuyvesant, students used three-dimensional multimedia to construct abstract architectural reliefs while incorporating aspects of art from various cultures and eras. Unconventional media including foamcore, tracing paper, Gesso, and Sculptamold were used to “inspire a different perspective of what architecture may be,” stated the blurb introducing the exhibit. Senior Sherry Dang’s piece was particularly creative and eye-catching. Influenced by Islamic and Nouveau art architecture, this dual artistic influence was evident in a repeated polygonal pattern depicting glass windows. The connected arches jutting out from the piece gave it an eye-catching structure, and the striking shapes and earthly, marble colors present showcased Dang’s unique style. Behind Bernstein’s exhibits was a table of paper and foamcore buildings built by technology teacher Steven Rothenberg’s architecture 10tech, which took a more direct, traditional approach to architecture than Bernstein’s 10tech. Some buildings were tall skyscrapers that resembled the Freedom Tower or other landmark New York City buildings, and others were a lot shorter and bore Grecian columns. Traditional architectural models of all shapes and sizes reflected the variety of building styles studied by the class.
Origami Though they were some of the smallest, most delicate works on display, the origami from Stuyvesant’s Origami Club was exceedingly impressive. Stars, flowers, and animals of varying shapes, sizes, and colors sat on a table at the center of the art show. The origami, some of which was designed by students, was prepared with mind-blowing intricacy. For instance, the “Ancient Dragon,” folded by junior Andrew Jun Lee and designed by professional origamist Satoshi Kamiya, was a particularly impressive fold. Its scaled pattern and batlike wings were intricate and precise, and the open mouth and intimidating stance of the dragon brought it to life. A horse (folded by freshman Benji Kaplan, designed by sophomore Jason Lin) and more abstract designs like “Estrella Flor Kusudama” (folded by sophomore Queenie Chan, designed by professional origamist Erny) were folded with similar precision, making for an origami set that looked like it belonged in “Kubo and the Two Strings.”
CONCERT What better way to compliment our incredibly talented art department than with a little night of music? The chorus, band, and orchestra worked extremely hard for the few months leading up to the concert. They had numerous sectional rehearsals, both after school and during normal school hours. The musicians had to sacrifice attending class for the periods that were occupied by these rehearsals. However, it was all worth it in the end, as the Stuyvesant music department put on a big, grand, and festive show that brought life and cheer to the stage.
Martin Xu / The Spectator
Jazz Band The Jazz Band gave a delightful and engaging performance. “Libertango” had a interesting Spanish flare, and “Charlie Brown Christmas” had a blue tone intermixed with lighthearted musical phrases that set a pleasant nostalgic Christmas mood. “Birdland” was an especially impressive performance in the Jazz Band repertoire. “Birdland” was a piece filled with uplifting and spunky beats and a piece where every instrument was able to shine at one point, notably the saxophone soloists. Seniors Justin Chae, a tenor sax, and George Papastefanou, an alto sax, enhanced the performance especially, both belting out a series of notes that made both of their solos its own unique statement within the piece.
Martin Xu / The Spectator
Concert Chorus The Concert Chorus put on a series of remarkable performances, as the audience got enveloped in the beauty of the harmony that panned out during the show. The chorus had been working on these pieces for three months. Besides daily classes, as said earlier, there were many sectional rehearsals that they had to attend. These sacrifices have clearly paid off, as the final product at the show was absolutely spectacular. Their first outstanding performance was a spectacular arrangement of “Al Shlosha d’Varim,” a traditional Jewish maxim outlining the foundations upon which the Earth, and society with it, is built. An incredible soloist, senior Jian Ting (JT) Gao, sang with a warm, rich sound that was amplified tenfold when the chorus sprang to life and joined him. The atmosphere created by this decadent work gave the already wonderful event an even more relaxed, enjoyable feel. The second of the two exceptionally entertaining performances by the Concert Chorus was their cover of “Circle of Life” from “The Lion King.” As the famous opening, sung in Zulu by senior Raphael Berdugo, grew to a crescendo, a line of singers made their way to the front of the stage while senior Lillian Carver took the lead with strong vocals that emanated throughout the auditorium. The instrumental elements including the bass, guitar, and drums blended beautifully with the chorus, creating an elevated cover of this iconic song.
The Spectator ● January 20, 2017
Arts and Entertainment Music Review
of “Awaken, My Love!”
By Sophie Watwood Even if you aren’t familiar with Donald Glover as a musician, you probably know him from something else. Glover, who makes music under the name Childish Gambino (which he got from the infamous Wu-Tang Name Generator as a joke), is a little bit of everything. Along with being a musician, he is a stand-up comic, a producer, a director, and an actor on shows like “30 Rock” (2006-2013) and “Atlanta” (2016present). He stole the screen in “The Martian” (2015) as the sarcastic MIT student who solves the problem no one at NASA could and will grace us with his presence yet again in the new Han Solo prequel. His music, both critically acclaimed and completely roasted (his album “Camp” (2011) received a 1.6 in a “Pitchfork” review––the lowest score they gave out that year), is known to be rap. Therefore, it was more than a little bit surprising when he released his new album, “Awaken, My Love!” (2016), without literally any rap on it. Instead, the album explores an entirely different world: that of funk, soul, and rhythm and blues. It sounds like the ‘70s at night—all of the heart and none of the ballad—and for his fans, it’s definitely different. The album, which can best be described as a haunted house distortion of ‘70s discotech, is slightly psychotic and a little bit homicidal. The voices and instruments give you a nostalgia for an era that neither his main audience nor Glover himself actually took part in, but it is still intelligent, well-balanced, and effervescent. It has the brilliance that enticed me to his music in
Theater Review of “Party
By William Lohier It is 2017, and despite the historic Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision in 1954 to end government-sanctioned segregation in schools, the New York City public school systems remains the most segregated in the country. In a nation that prides itself in equality and opportunity, inequality and lack of opportunities have become increasingly apparent. There is no denying that America has progressed by leaps and bounds since the civil rights era, yet segregation, huge wage gaps, and police brutality, have characterized a country that is not as far removed from that era as many of us think. It is into this social, political, and economic background that “Party People,” directed by Liesl Tommy, is projected. The play, based on a series of interviews of former Black Panthers and Young Lords, ran for a short time at the Public Theater in New York. At times disjointed, “Party People” provided an at times nostalgic, but often fiery and exuberant look at the history and legacy of the Black Panthers and Young Lords. These radical groups founded in the 1960s advocated for racial equality but have, in recent years, become increasingly characterized by the violence they at times resorted to in order to achieve their goals. The play opened with a young black man, Malik (Christopher Livingston), a character from the present day, clothed in a black leather jacket and beret (the signature outfit of the Panthers),
Childish Gambino Revives the 1970’s in “Awaken, My Love!”
the first place. It’s just a shocking split from what his fans were expecting. In “Awaken, My Love!” Gambino spikes between moods very quickly. He runs straight from the cheerful, Caribbean-sounding “California” to the completely horrifying “Terrified,” where he shows off lyrical brilliance against a bass-heavy, twinkling, atmospheric background. Lines like “Please don’t find me rude/ But I don’t eat fast food/So don’t run too fast,” send anyone who’s ever been followed on the street shivering. Guest vocalist JD McCrary’s half-singing, half-screaming pleads make everyone want to run to her aid. And I didn’t know the McDonald’s jingle could be sung in a creepy way until I heard Gambino do it. The album as a whole has an extremely creepy feel to it. Donald Glover figured out how to turn a psychological thriller into music, and it’s effective. To achieve this, he uses everything from evil laughter, to outright screaming– –like bloody-intestines-pulledout-of-your-abdominal-cavityand-fed-to-subway-rats screams. Even the cover art, with the neon glow and the slightly derangedlooking African mask, is discomforting. “Zombies” is one of the best examples of this. The line, “You can feel them breathing/Breathing down your spine” pairs with an almost undetectable breath in the background. A delicate piano gives it an almost hypnotizing mood. All this is paired with Kari Faux singing on loop, “We’re coming out to get you/We’re oh so glad we met you/We’re eating you for profit/There is no way to stop it” with that same smiling horror movie villainess tone that
gives so many of us nightmares. Throughout the album, he teases the classic voices of the 1970s. He’ll change his voice to something high and trilling to give off a very “Saturday Night Fever” quality or go completely gravely for a spookier, sexier tone. It shows range in his voice, as well as a fair amount of humor. His voice changing is almost evocative of doing impressions as a stand-up comedian. Lyrically, Gambino is searching for ground in a genre that is new to him. His lyrics in “Awaken, My Love!” don’t have the same cleverness as they do in his rap music, but they are still charming, and beautiful at times. “Stand Tall” is especially poetic, with lines like “I feel like a child, so young and new in ‘92, I listen/ To what my father said,” that threaten to make you melt. Even so, they don’t have the same variety. Instead of spitting out 20 different couplets that either hit or miss, he’ll repeat the same twisted line over and over, like in “Redbone,” when he loops the line “So stay woke/They goin’ find you/Goin’ catch you sleepin’.” Songs like these flow well, but can get boring fast. The best thing about “Awaken, My Love!” however, is the instruments. From the comforting march of the drums to the intentional cacophony without dissonance that he assembles for “Riot,” Gambino masters this element, with the help of long time collaborator Ludwig Göransson and 10 other collaborators. In his new album, Gambino lets the music speak for itself, often leaving the instrumentals all on their own and then ducking back in with trippy vocals just to make sure you’re listening or
dedicating an entire song to the instruments, like “The Night Me and Your Mama Met.” This song, which, with the ethereal harmony of what might be a church choir, creates an entire memory. It is what a gorgeous stranger on the beach at dusk looks like. It’s what perfectly smooth skin feels like under soft fingertips. It’s the way that pleasure and twinge of nostalgia aches. And it’s played on the ukulele. Especially prominent is the adaptive guitar that flows and ebbs all over the album, from the chilling grooves, to the twanging, solos, to an aggressive, shredded ambiance. In “Awaken, My Love!,” Gambino plays with the sounds of the ‘70s and with the twinkly, almost magical touch of modern electronic, and this is new. Where before, the music often left something to be desired, Gambino keeps the focus on the sound itself, carefully walking the line between instrumental complexity and chaos. Gambino also plays with quietness in this album, taking long pauses and toying with silence. In “Stand Tall,” moments of total silence let you sit with the emotional heart of the album, and lyrics like “Smile when you can” twist between the flute and the bass guitar. It takes what music used to avoid and turns it into a meditation. It makes you look up from what you were doing because of a lack of noise instead of a surprising one. It makes you conscious again. But I’m biased––while most other critics reviewed the album positively within the context of a backhanded roast of his previous work, I actually love the rest of his stuff. So, a presumptuous white
girl’s defense of Gambino’s rap music: No, it’s not perfect. Yes, his lyrics are at times messy, the messages are contradictory and the beat are off by a bit. But this is what is so attractive about it. The music itself sounds like your closest friends. It is unafraid of its awkwardness and is at the same time, painfully self-conscious. It bobs in the silly and the wise, the raging and the relaxed, the narcissistic and the self-depreciative. Glover himself stated in an interview with radio DJ Peter Rosenberg that “Rap is done,” which implies that he won’t be returning to the genre, as he allegedly didn’t even want to rap for his previous album, “Because the Internet,” (2013) and did it because of pressure. This, to a fan of his rap music (however hated it is), is disappointing, but according to Glover, “It’s not doing the social work it’s supposed to do anymore.” According to Gambino, rap music was intended as a part of a social movement—like the soundtrack to racial activism. But it’s moved beyond that, having become labeled, commercialized, and sold to the masses like junk food. This is understandable, though I don’t know that I agree. But even outside of rap, “Awaken, My Love!” stands testament to the fact that Glover’s music, no matter what genre, continues to be interesting and complex. Because of this, I am still happy to listen to Gambino’s music and to what is produced by the artists around him as he pursues new genres in order to make art of the world as he finds it.
A Riotous Party, a Misunderstood People delivering a spoken word piece to a camera which fed to screens mounted on the walls across the theater. In an attempt to recapture the bravado and militarism of the black panther movement, Malik’s poetic language captures his struggle to connect with his currently imprisoned father, a former Black Panther. Spoken word, snappable moments, emphatic hand gestures, exclamations, and songs are reoccurring themes throughout the play. The first number provides, through ebullient and joyous songs, hands clapped, guns held high, and emphatic shouts of “free Huey,” (a reference to the imprisonment of one of the founders of the Black Panther Party, Huey Newton) a rundown of the basic history of the Black Panthers and Young Lords as well as a sense of the attitude and uproarious energy of the movements. Although the 101 format comes off as a little shallow, it is more than made up for by the vivacity of the actors and its pragmatism as a way to educate audience members unfamiliar with the movement. Although little attention is paid to the plot, the story is basically structured around the buildup to an event planned by Malik and his Latino friend Jimmy (Luis Rodriguez a.k.a Ninja who is also oddly a clown) and attended by former Black Panthers and Young Lords
as a get-together, as well as a viewing of a video that Malik and Jimmy have edited of interviews of attendees. As the reunion draws nearer, the party starts s l ow l y as the play organically zooms in and out of the
Tiffany Zhong / The Spectator
lives of different attendees. As they recount their lives and experiences as former members of the Black Panthers and Young Lords, the play finds its voice through their simple dialogue and often calm accounts, not only of the violence to which they had played the role of both victim and perpetrator, but also the deep passion and commitment to the betterment and empowerment of their communities. Once the members are assembled to watch the video, old conflicts are rehashed, and in the second act, the plot breaks down entirely as the party turns to different issues from drugs to sexism in the movement to jail to snitches to general internal strife that hounded the movements. While the second act included re-enactments that were at times cringe-worthy or poorly written, as well as songs that came at unintentionally comical times, the goal of the play is clearly not to recapture or re-enact the vitality and intensity of the Black Panthers and Young Lords. Instead the heart of the play is its honest and overt discussion of the legacy of the Black Panthers. When viewed from one lens, the Black Panther Party and the
Young Lords were failures. Not only do racism and inequality still exist, but with events like the election of Donald Trump (an event alluded to in the dialogue of the play), the astronomical spike of shootings in Chicago, and the absence of any concrete plan to desegregate America’s schools, blacks and Latinos have been, and remain, reminded over and over again that America is not on their side. On the other hand, however, the Black Panthers and Young Lords showed the country that a small, motivated group of people, despite poor circumstances and constant hounding by law enforcement, could have a real impact on the psyche, culture, and policy of our country. From providing free breakfast at schools and care for the elderly and sick to cleaning up entire neighborhoods, the legacy of the Black Panthers and Young Lords is far more extensive than many people believe. While “Party People” did feel dragged out at times, unrealistic at others, and overall not as cohesive as it could have been, it did feel heartfelt, and if nothing else, relevant. To an audience filled with people (including myself) who had likely never heard of the Young Lords before, and who, shocked by the election of Donald Trump, were searching to voice their protest, “Party People” provided a pertinent look into one of the most famous instances of civil disobedience in the 20th century and drew explicit parallels to events that still take place today.
The Spectator ● January 20, 2017
Arts and Entertainment Film
2016 Coming-Of-Age Movies In Review By Anna Grace Goldstein
Looking back at the major movies of 2016, one theme stays constant: finding yourself. Films about young people overcoming obstacles and choosing their paths flooded American cinema. Here are my reviews of five of these unique stories.
LA LA LAND: Unlikely Romance In the City Of Stars “La La Land” has the quiet dignity and the presentation of a film masterpiece, but it lacks the storytelling to truly be one. It’s an ambitious concept: an original movie musical set in L.A., the city of dreams. The movie follows Mia (Emma Stone), an undiscovered actress living in an apartment with her friends and auditioning for every role that comes her way, and her unlikely romance with stubborn jazz musician Sebastian (Ryan Gosling). “La La Land” tries to hit a lot of different notes. It has romance, musical numbers, and meta-physical, dreamlike cinematography all in one movie. The attempt at making a movie musical, the one element that could push “La La Land” over the edge into classic film territory, was a bit half-hearted, much to my disappointment. They often use quiet, breathy voices, a deliberate choice that feels hesitant. Overall, the movie relies too heavily on abstract cinematography and Emma Stone’s stunning screen presence. The romance plotline, however, is flawless. Not only do Stone and Gosling embody their characters perfectly, but their chemistry on camera is fantastic to watch. Mia’s barista-turned-star story and Sebastian’s commitment to old fashioned jazz music show us the sacrifices we make when we choose to grow up. “La La Land,” while bittersweet at the end, was satisfying, but the plot felt incomplete outside of Mia and Sebastian’s relationship. Director Damien Chazelle Writer Damien Chazelle Rated PG-13
Vivian Lin / The Spectator
DON’T THINK TWICE: You’ll Never See Saturday Night Live Stars the Same Way Again In “Don’t Think Twice,” Samantha tells Jack, her boyfriend and fellow improvisation actor, that the day their improv troupe asked her to join was the best day of her life. That moment sums up this bittersweet comedy about the tight-knit members of “The Commune,” a New York City improv group. Samantha, unwilling to leave the “lily pad” she’s on for television fame with Jack, chooses her own path despite what other people might think of it. “Don’t Think Twice” is more than a movie about improv. It’s a movie about every dream, every disappointment, every relationship, and every hard decision in the lives of young artists following their dreams. I enjoyed every second of the quirky, funny film. Not only was the cast brilliant, but they gave me the sense that I was watching a real improv show each time their characters went onstage. Director Mike Birbiglia Writer Mike Birbiglia Rated R
Vivian Lin / The Spectator
CAPTAIN FANTASTIC: Loss, Frustration, Crime, Injury, and Hunting Wild Animals: The Perfect Coming-Of-Age Story You Never Saw Coming Matt Ross’s unconventional film about a father raising his six children isolated from society, with intense physical training and rebellious ideologies, is an absolute masterpiece from start to finish. Viggo Mortensen plays the eccentric father, who takes his children on a road trip from their home in the deep woods of the Pacific Northwest to New Mexico for the funeral of their mother, who committed suicide. Despite some darker underlying themes, “Captain Fantastic” is bright and funny, and, despite their unusual lifestyle, the characters are relatable and often admirable. On their journey, the family comes face-to-face with the world they’ve been sheltered from and question the philosophies they’ve centered their lives around and finally, move on. Director Matt Ross Writer Matt Ross Rated R
EDGE OF SEVENTEEN: Hopefully, Our Generation Is Better Than This In Real Life “The Edge Of Seventeen” could have been our generation’s classic high school movie. It was clearly intended to go down in movie history with hits like “Sixteen Candles,” “The Breakfast Club,” “Mean Girls,” and “Clueless.” Instead, it was depressing and unpleasant, with occasional moments of sexism. The movie’s one true success was Hailee Steinfeld as Nadine. No one else could have made such an unlikable, unrelatable character watchable. Steinfeld showed serious acting brilliance, but most of the script was a series of bad things happening to a mean, creepy teenage girl. Nadine’s best and only friend Krista starts dating Nadine’s popular brother who introduces Krista to the popular group, leaving Nadine alone and bitter. In the end, Nadine finally shows romantic interest in the boy who’s had a crush on her for the entire film, and he introduces her to his friends, implying that they will be her friends too. “The Edge Of Seventeen” left me with a lingering question: “Is the point of this movie that girls are completely defined by their boyfriends and that the boy they date determines who their friends are? And why isn’t a friendship with a girl as important as dating?” I was disappointed and disheartened by “The Edge Of Seventeen.” Director Kelly Fremon Craig Writer Kelly Fremon Craig Rated R
Vivian Lin / The Spectator
20th CENTURY WOMEN: Generations Collide. Rock Music Transforms. Meanwhile, a Young Boy Grows Up “20th Century Women” is a deep and dreamy coming-of-age story set at the end of the 1970s. It resembles Jonathan Mark Sherman’s play “Women And Wallace” (1989) because it tells the story of a teenage boy using the women in his life and his relationships with them to define his character. In the movie’s case, the women include 15-year-old Jamie’s single mother, a quirky, rebellious young woman renting a room in their home, and Julie, the teenage girl who Jamie’s in love with. Jamie’s mother is defined by the fact that she was born during the Great Depression and lived through World War II, while Jamie and the two younger women conflict with her over their modern ideals and love of punk music. The captivating film succeeds in documenting the wonder of human life from every perspective it can and shows how generation gaps and different time periods can affect the lives, personalities, and relationships of a group of ordinary people. Director Mike Mills Writer Mike Mills Rated R Vivian Lin / The Spectator
The Spectator ● January 20, 2017
Arts and Entertainment Music Review
of “Two Steps From
By Shaina Peters When battles happen in movies, you usually expect an appropriate score to match. No important scene would be complete without exciting battle music. While this same music might bleed into other dramatic scenes and trailers, one has to admit that it’s rare to find such music outside the setting of movies, TV shows, and video games. However, if you know where to look and want to find it, great soundtracks are not confined to movies. The genre, called epic music, while ignored by most, is still enjoyed by some. While most people might know of epic music from non-music media, most epic music is released directly as songs, without ever appearing in any other sort of media. There are many bands that produce epic music, and while it can be found all over the internet, one in particular stands out. Two Steps From Hell is one of the most prominent companies dedicated to epic music and is my personal favorite. Founded in 2006, Two
Social Media Insights By Cheyanne Lawrence
Fahim Rahman / The Spectator
What will happen to @POTUS on Twitter? Since Obama was the first @POTUS on Twitter, there is no official protocol for presidential social media accounts. It is likely that, starting on inauguration day, Trump will inherit Obama’s 11 million followers and be the new @POTUS. Not only was he the first president on Twitter, but Obama was also the first president to go live on Facebook from the Oval Office and the first to use a filter on Snapchat—all making him nothing short of a social media celebrity. Obama and his team have tweeted at least 30,000 times, including his iconic reelection celebration tweet, “Four more years,” which included a photo of him embracing his wife. As of today, the tweet has more than 740,000 retweets and 290,000 likes. Time Magazine referred to Obama as a president “shaped by popular culture more thoroughly than any other president in our history.” In early 2007, Barack Obama was a little-known senator running for president against
It’s Not Death Metal, I Promise Steps From Hell has released over 30 albums, containing a total of more than a thousand songs. Two Steps From Hell is not a band in the traditional sense. They don’t have concerts. They don’t tour. In fact, on their website, they refer to themselves as an American production company. However, its main oddity is that it is run by composers, not by instrumentalists. Although they have released many songs, Two Steps From Hell is comprised of only two composers: Thomas Bergersen and Nick Phoenix. Bergersen is the more popular of the two, with more than four times as many monthly listeners on Spotify, and it makes sense. Because Bergersen’s music is more exciting and fast paced, he has captured the favor of many fans, myself included. One of my personal favorites, “United We Stand - Divided We Fall,” is one of Two Steps From Hell’s more well known songs. Throughout its entire duration, “United We Stand - Divided We Fall,” like most Two Steps From Hell songs, includes no lyrics.
However, it does have a rhythm more telling than any words can be. It starts out slow and quiet, but slowly grows louder and faster, until the beats of the song almost feel like words. It’s also one of the more cheerful songs. It features a wide variety of instruments—too many to be able to pick out all the individual ones—and its complexity is captivating enough to make you not realize it doesn’t have too much to say. Although an entire orchestra of instruments is used, one “instrument” stands out from all the rest. Like many songs by Two Steps From Hell, “United We Stand - Divided We Fall” uses voices, not as the center of attention, but to make sounds and act as just another instrument. Most Two Steps From Hell songs are similar, but each are a little different in their own ways. Songs like “Strength of a Thousand Men” are more serious and slower, but no less beautiful. Songs like “Heart of Courage,” Two Steps From Hell’s most listened to song on Spotify, are slower and more somber.
However, despite how interabundance of epic music esting the genre of epic music artists. In fact, the only way is, it remains virtually unknown. I’m able to discover new Whenever anyone asks me what artists is when Spotify I listen to, I always struggle to suggests artists based think of the answer. Sure, I on the songs I’m curknow what I love, but a probrently listening to. lem I’ve often found is that There’s no reano one else does. If I respond son that epic muwith the name of my favorsic should be forite band, Two Steps From gotten. While it Hell, most people have no is a little differidea what I’m talking about, ent from most or assume I’m into death other genres metal. Epic music is a genre people listen that no one has heard of, so to, it’s interestthat doesn’t work as an explaing and makes nation either. Usually, I just great backend up saying, “It’s kind of ground mulike movie music.” sic. It’s good In some ways, epic for long trips, music’s anonymity isn’t as the variasurprising. It’s hard to find tions in music unless you look for it. Most are interesting, music distributors won’t even and studysuggest epic music songs uning or doing less your history is full of work, as it similar songs already. has no lyrics Spotify lacks a section for (I’m listening epic music in its Genres & to Two Steps Moods section of its browse From Hell as I Suzy B. Ae / The Spectator section, despite its hidden write this article).
How the Obama Administration Used Social Media household name Hillary Clinton. Obama pioneered a new way of getting his message out directly to the American people, without going through mainstream media. The Obama campaign created an energy of involvement, participation, and a sense of purpose in their supporters. His team launched the official White House Facebook page in May 2009, and since then, it’s been consistently updated with news, photos, and behind-the-scenes details from the administration. Historically, the president has been a traditional figure, with limited visibility for members of the general public, usually pertaining to press conferences and national speeches. Select images of the president and First Lady were mediated through the lenses of official photographers. The Obama Administration changed all that by embracing social media, along with mass media, wholeheartedly, especially after the election. They mixed serious topics with lighthearted and goofy ones, pushing their progressive ideas nonetheless. On the same night, Obama
appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live to read mean tweets and later made an appearance on The Daily Show to denounce Trump’s idea about starting a Muslim registry. Michelle Obama filmed a video holding a turnip while dancing along to “Turn Down for What” that went viral while also promoting healthy living. The First Lady’s Snapchat, often “hacked” by President Obama, was created to bring people with her on trips for Let Girls Learn, her organization created to improve educational opportunities for girls around the world. The presidential shift toward pop culture has been happening for decades. John F. Kennedy was the first president to effectively use television to speak directly to the American people, and they turned Jackie Kennedy into a fashion icon. Many of President Reagan’s speeches were peppered with quotes from “Dirty Harry,” (1971-1988) “Back to the Future,” (1985-1990) and the “Rambo” movies (1980-present). Bill Clinton attempted to appeal to young voters with a saxophone solo on The Arsenio Hall Show.
However, Obama has changed the way Americans relate to the president. He posts about music, movies, basketball, and spending time with his kids. Obama’s social media is refreshing compared to those of his stale political counterparts. Social media has highlighted relationships in the president’s life and helped humanize President Obama. Presidential photographer Pete Souza captured candid photos of the First Family doing the things regular people do—like eating pizza or playing with their dog, Bo—that were posted on the White House Instagram. Obama has referred to Vice President Joe Biden as his “best friend” on Twitter alongside a picture of their friendship bracelets, and his many tweets about his love for Michelle are heartwarming and help us see Obama as a man first and president second. Various articles about the Obamas and their marriage have appeared in Vogue, People, Essence, and The Oprah Winfrey magazine. While most political families seem heavily sanitized and unrealistic, the Obamas are refreshingly candid, making them especially popular with millennials. Young people are “looking for authenticity, they’re looking for what feels real and natural,” Michelle said in an interview with The Verge. “People can get to know me directly. They can see that I’m kind of silly sometimes, that I care.” She’s right. To an entire generation, Michelle and Barack feel like cool parents. Inclusion was a big part of the Obama campaign, and their use of social media aids in making the American people feel like a part of the Obama family. But social media hasn’t been all about the likes and retweets for the Obamas. In his most recent tweet on December 16, President Obama tweeted, “The Justice for All bill is a bipartisan step in making our criminal justice system fairer, smarter, and more effective. Proud to sign it.” Perhaps the most memorable were the posts of President Obama and Joe Biden running around the White House with rainbow flags after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. These tweets and dozens of other social media posts like it show how the Obama adminis-
tration uses social media to promote progressive reforms while also being entertaining. While social media has been a mostly successful endeavor for the Obamas, it has not been perfect. There are two problems with social media: it’s public and it’s permanent. So, when Malia Obama was allegedly seen in a Snapchat video smoking pot at Lollapalooza, critics everywhere were quick to shame Michelle and Barack, while not taking into account that Malia was almost 18 and was very capable of making her own decisions. The American people need to realize that growing up as the child of the president is hard enough with all the heavy scrutiny and high standards, and social media slander and miniscule privacy are just more obstacles for Sasha and Malia. President-elect Trump has faced similar backlash with his wife Melania, who posed for GQ Magazine handcuffed to a briefcase while laying naked on a fur blanket, wearing just a diamond encrusted choker and matching cuffs. A selection of other racy images from the shoot show Melania lying naked in bed with Scandinavian model Emma Eriksson. Similarly, Trump’s critics have popularized the images and used them to slutshame Melania and show her to be unfit for the role of First Lady. However, Trump’s infamous use of social media is almost a polar opposite of Obama’s. His popular Twitter rants feature him slandering everyone from Fidel Castro to random cast members of his former show, “The Celebrity Apprentice.” Where Obama has used his social media platform to promote reforms or educate the public, Trump used it amplify his hate speech or make childish taunts. The Obama campaign thrived on inclusion, while the Trump campaign thrives on exclusion. Social media is a tool politicians can use to either promote ignorant ideas or bring attention to important issues and broadcast them to younger audiences. Obama has been able to transform the office of the presidency with his use of social media and has made the American people really feel like a part of the First Family.
The Spectator ● January 20, 2017
Arts and Entertainment The “Arrival” of a Breathtaking Sci-Fi Movie
By Tiffany Chen When the first trailer came out for “Arrival,” many knew it would belong to a different trope of sci-fi movies. With stars such as Amy Adams, Forest Whitaker, and Jeremy Renner, many had high expectations for its execution, me included. And, luckily, “Arrival” does not disappoint. Denis Villeneuve’s “Arrival” follows linguistics professor Louise Banks (Adams) as she is enlisted by the U.S. military after 12 extraterrestrial spacecrafts land on Earth, one of them landing in Montana. She, along with physicist Ian Donnelly (Renner), try to communicate with aliens that speak through circular symbols as they figure out why the aliens came to Earth to begin with. Unlike many sci-fi movies, the movie does not focus so much on the hysteria surrounding the arrival of the aliens, only hinting at it a couple of times through lacedtogether news casts. Instead, the movie strives to be thoughtprovoking and suspenseful, and does so almost immaculately through its directing, acting, and plotline. Adams shines through as Dr. Banks, showcasing the intricacies in her thoughtful character. Louise is aware of her abilities as a linguist, confidently stating so during her recruitment by Colonel Weber (Whitaker). However, at the camp, she transforms as she learns more about the language she is trying to interpret and both the humans and the aliens around her. She learns more about the person she will become in the future and realizes her priorities are not the same as those of the people she cares for dearly. As Louise teaches herself the alien language, unique in its
intricate patterns representing words and phrases and its circular shape representing sentences and paragraphs, Adams is able to make Louise’s quiet and reflective nature seem heroic as her realizations change the way she perceives the world. Louise’s perceptiveness is what drives the intellectual portion of the film, and the end cleverly leaves you wondering more. The film flashes between the present where Louise gains more knowledge on the extraterrestrials and another point of time as she struggles with family life because of her daughter’s terminal illness. Because time is muddled in the film, what once seemed like two static events in her life suddenly come together. This lightly alludes to themes such as predestination and the fabric of time itself. In addition, the film shines light on the field of linguistics and how languages can affect the way you think, which is rarely considered an intriguing concept. However, “Arrival” tackles the issue head-on with a foreign circular alien language that ties into the movie’s main ideas flawlessly. The integration of the alien language in the movie emphasizes how important languages are in the real world and why communication is key in our society, shown through the foreign policies set forth by various countries such as China and the United States and the importance in Louise’s interactions with the aliens to finding the hidden meaning of the alien arrival. However, the film still falters. The beginning of the movie is quite slow in comparison to other sci-fi films, which left me unamused for the first third of the movie. When focusing on a naturally quiet character like Louise,
there’s bound to be shots of her thinking about the peculiar situation she’s in, but these shots took over in the beginning when she was first adapting to the military camp. The film was monotonous in the beginning as it tried to establish the characters, but once Louise and Ian became comfortable with the aliens, going to visit them in their egg-shaped spacecraft a few more times, the monotony ends as the silence lessens, allowing for more insightful scenes where Louise interprets the situation. Also, there was some lost potential at the end of the movie. The climax of the movie was squandered as Louise was given the answer through the alien language rather than finding it herself. Yes, she is brave, caring, and impulsive during the scene, but the intelligent and thoughtful side that the movie idolizes and builds feels rejected in the most intense part of the movie. Despite this, the ending is the strongest part of the movie. Adams flawlessly shows how Louise’s changes in the camp made her a more complex character. With Louise’s final choices, she is caring but selfish, fearless but reserved. She jumps head-first into everything while knowing the consequences. Still, there are a lot of unanswered questions about Louise’s revelations, which deepens the plot and the movie as a whole. “Arrival” leaves viewers satisfied yet wanting more, something that many movies aspire to do but falter instead. This is partly because of director Villeneuve, who is able to leave enough suspense in the air to captivate the audience. He gives the aliens a tense aura as they meet Louise and Ian for the first time and continues to
make the aliens complex with both violent and heartwarming moments. In addition, he is able to effectively use dialogue to build meaningful relationships between the characters, which is important when there’s such a small cast. “Arrival” is yet another blockbuster under his name, but it adds so much to his portfolio with his amazing choices. The cinematography also helps fabricate a different atmosphere for the movie. With establishing shots of the big, black egg in which the aliens live and the depiction of the heptapod aliens, the alien world seems mystical. The emphasis on pumped air in the atmosphere helps this depiction, as Louise and the aliens are often cloaked in opaque gas when conversing. These details create an illusion that the characters are entering a new world, even though the movie takes place in Montana. “Arrival” is an incredible film that leaves viewers on such a philosoph-
ical and melancholy note. The film is able to stick to elements discussed in “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang, the short story the movie was based on. Maintaining the same eloquence and comprehension of “Story of Your Life” is challenging; the short story is well-known for its multitude of tense changes, which made it easier to understand the nuances in understanding time. “Arrival” manages to explain many philosophies and inquiries while leaving out enough to force viewers to think once they leave the theater.
Christine Jegarl / The Spectator
New Year, New Crossword
ACROSS 1. Canadian Prime Minister (Last name) 3. Trump’s Campaign Manager (Last name) 5. A referendum that might end up destroying the EU 9. Our dear departed simian friend 10. Played Hillary Clinton on SNL 11. Our new president’s preferred method of disseminating political information 13. Our 44th POTUS 14. About to get a new (part-time) resident 15. He’s sick and tired of hearing about Clinton’s damn emails (Last name) 16. Russian President, accused of hacking the US Election (Last name) 17. When a new President takes office 18. Played our President-Elect on SNL
2. British Ex-Prime Minister who called for a vote on 5 across 4. Deceased Cuban dictator 6. Melania Trump’s outfit to the second presidential debate 7. AKA the RRS Sir David Attenborough 8. Her speech writer is an unwitting Michelle Obama 12. Democratic nominee for 45th POTUS (Last name) 19. Conservative French presidential candidate
1. TRUDEAU 2. DAVIDCAMERON 3. CONWAY 4. FIDELCASTRO 5. BREXIT 6. PUSSYBOW 7. BOATYMCBOATFACE 8. MELANIA 9. HARAMBE 10. KATEMCKINNON 11. TWITTER 12. CLINTON 13. OBAMA 14. WHITEHOUSE 15. SANDERS 16. PUTIN 17. INAUGURATION 18. ALECBALDWIN 19. LEPEN
The Spectator ● January 20, 2017
Arts and Entertainment Beyond Laramie, Wyoming
Xin Italie / The Spectator
of “The Laramie Project”
By Danielle Eisenman Laramie resident Zubaida (junior Mika Simoncelli) struggles to imagine what a theatrical interpretation of her small town’s story could possibly be like. “You’re gonna be on stage in New York, and you’re gonna be acting like you’re us,” she says. “That’s so weird!” She has a point. The demographics and political leanings of Stuyvesant’s student body could not be more different than those of the residents of Laramie, Wyoming. Yet, the Stuyvesant Theater Community (STC) warmly captured the quirks and emotional tribulations of the people of Laramie in this year’s winter drama, “The Laramie Project,” performed on the nights of January 11, 13, and 14. Moisés Kaufmann’s play was inspired by a national news story from the late 90s about Matthew Shepard, a Laramie college student who was beaten up for being gay, and then left tied to a
Lillian Carver and Livia KuninsBerkowitz, lovingly (and sometimes unnervingly) embodied Laramie’s bold rainbow of characters. No one would have expected to see senior Alec Dai, or any Stuyvesant student for that matter, clad in a cowboy hat and brightly colored vintage windbreaker, holding a sign reading, “God hates fags!” Yet, Dai was able become this character just as convincingly as he was able to portray both the boy who found Shepard’s body and one of the boys who beat Shepard to death. Like Dai, each actor showcased his or her versatility by acting in several different roles. One of the most impressively versatile cast members was junior Alex Whittington. By altering his body language and his manner of speaking, Whittington effectively transformed into entirely different people, from a manly town sheriff to a delicate 52-yearold gay man to a rambunctious headphone-clad teenager to an impassioned Baptist minister.
ment to each character made his performance one of the most memorable. STC is known for typecasting characters, and this works to their advantage in Laramie. Elsayed’s over-the-top portrayals of over-the-top characters are consistently hilarious, and this is what made him a perfect sassy limousine driver. Junior Travis Tyson reprised his role as a lovable and charismatic goofball (not unlike his role as Robert Martin in the fall production of “The Drowsy Chaperone,” as well as Chad in the spring production of “High School Musical”). This time around, however, he revealed a more tender side to his onstage abilities, as his characters struggled with issues of identity and coming of age. In her first major role (or, in this case, roles) junior Mika Simoncelli portrayed several characters that highlighted her talent for subtle acting. Characters like Zubaida, the hijabi college student who just wants to shop at
The structure of “The Laramie Project” demonstrates the way this is not simply the story of one small town in Wyoming, but it’s the story of everyone.
fence for dead. Kaufmann, with members of the Tectonic Theater Project, traveled to Laramie several times to interview people dealing with the aftermath of this tragedy. The play features quotes from the residents, in addition to scenes of the actual interviews. The cast, directed by seniors
Seniors Kate Sherwin and Kaia Waxenberg were particularly skilled at capturing the small town flavor with their accents, which were adorable and impressively on point. While sophomore Adam Elsayed’s drawl wasn’t as immaculately recognizable, his amazing energy and commit-
the grocery store without giving every random stranger a lesson in “Islam 101,” were gentle and genuine as they offered their astute observations and societal critiques. STC veterans like seniors Liam Elkind and Kate Johnston gave the heart-wrenching per-
formances that those who frequent STC shows have come to expect. Johnston gave an affecting portrayal of a police officer simultaneously grieving Shep-
portrayal of this town’s story served as an important reminder of the role theater can play as a tool for social change. I feel proud to go to a school where students
The demographics and political leanings of Stuyvesant’s student body could not be more different than those of Laramie, Wyoming.
ard and loathing him for possibly transmitting HIV through open wounds, reminiscent of the town’s collective balance mourning and disgust. Elkind’s roles as both the doctor who announced Shepard’s death and as Shepard’s grieving father led him to break down into tears during two of the play’s emotional climaxes. Often standing on a dark stage, illuminated only by the singular spotlight, Elkind had the tendency to gaze skyward while delivering his lines, as if he were talking directly to Shepard, adding special weight to his performance. The show’s unique emotional gravity was emphasized in scenes including the cast’s a capella renditions of “Amazing Grace.” Each time, the song was initiated with a few solo bars, all soaked in sorrow and beauty, sung by the immensely talented senior Elizabeth Lawrence. The song was a reminder to grieve Shepard, and others who have faced similar fates. In my time at Stuyvesant, I’ve never seen an STC show move so many (if any) audience members to tears. But the STC’s poignant
willingly dedicate time and energy to produce and appreciate something as heavy and difficult and important as “The Laramie Project.” The play’s format demonstrates the way this is not simply the story of one small town in Wyoming, but that it’s the story of everyone. The play had a very bare set, and, for the most part, the actors moved the furniture on their own. They all wore plain base outfits, upon which they put costume pieces to transform themselves into each character, often in the process dressing as they delivered their lines. The way, say, senior Leith Coneybeare was not just Eileen Engen, but also Murdock Cooper and Romaine Patterson, among other characters, is a reflection of the way it’s not just Laramie residents who struggle with hate, tolerance, and uncertainty, but also residents of Orlando and of New York and of just about every other place on the map—senior and executive producer Jessica Sporacio did not just dedicate the show to Matthew Shepard, but to the victims of the Orlando shooting, and of all hate crimes.
The Spectator ● January 20, 2017
The Spectator â—? January 20, 2017
Humor These articles are works of fiction. All quotes are libel and slander.
Our Winter Break: An Infographic By SARA Stebbins
Average Homework Activity
20 15 10 5 0 1
What did you do
over break this week?
Average Homework Activity on Last Day of Break
Work Done (%)
100 80 60 40 20 0
The Spectator ● January 20, 2017
Humor IDNYC Moves Into 2-4 Escalators, Escalators Closed For Next Eight Months By Shaina Peters Recently, IDNYC, a program that gives out free IDs to NYC students, has moved into the student lounge. Because of this, the student lounge is closed to keep students away from IDNYC’s expensive equipment and from having a convenient location that promotes passionate student collaboration and work on the extracurriculars that make Stuyvesant special. Although the IDNYC workers were originally supposed to stay for only two weeks, they are now staying indefinitely. But, make no mistake, IDNYC is working hard... or so we’ve been told. With IDNYC’s current success, they have made the decision to branch out. They are now expanding to the 2-4 escalator. With the help of the escala-
tor repairmen, IDNYC is hard at work using the escalators to help process IDs. They will be here until next October, sources say. Students will just have to use the stairs until then. “While this might seem negative at first, I assure you that it will have positive outcomes in the long term,” an administrator said, “like keeping students too tired to cheat.” If more ID requests arise, IDNYC may have to move into the school’s bathrooms. Closing off the bathrooms would have an added benefit, according to the administration. “Students will no longer be able to congregate in enclosed spaces without faculty members present,” an administrator said. “Now, they will have nowhere to engage in illicit activities.”
By Gabrielle Umanova
12/31/16 - New Year’s Resolutions
1) Start homework earlier than 12 a.m. (If I work hard enough, I can definitely get started by 11:45 p.m.) 2) Fall asleep in no more than three classes per day. 3) Get to school on time at least once a week. 4) “Study ahead of time.” (I heard this was a myth: unconfirmed.) 5) Strive for more than 32 seconds of sleep per night. 6) Cut down on coffee. (50 cups a day is more than enough.) 7) “Exercise.” 8) Update relationship status from “Forever Alone” to “Slightly Desperate.” 9) Make people believe that I’m normal before blindsiding them with my personality.
Dear friends, We are gathered here today to mourn the death of my hopes, dreams, aspirations, and optimism concerning the year ahead. Even though we grieve, we must remember my resolutions with love and honor for the two days that I remained convinced they may come to fruition. Alas, let us not mope and be filled with sorrow, but instead, give them the remembrance that they deserve. Resolution #1 lived a short but glamorous life. For two beautiful days, I started my homework at 11:58 p.m. However, I then swiftly came to the realization that “The Office” wasn’t going to watch itself. So, Resolution #1 was unfortunately left abandoned and swiftly perished. Resolution #2 could not survive long without her elder brother, Resolution #1. Since I slept only 0.09 seconds for two consecutive nights, Resolution #2 was quickly sacrificed for five minutes of blissful slumber. She was joined by her cousin, Resolution #5, on her way
to the guillotine. Truly, familial love cannot be ignored. As a result of the passing of Resolution #5, I inhaled 376 gallons of coffee and put Resolution #6 to rest beside his twin sister. Resolution #4 can be remembered as nothing less than a most glorious ideal. The hope with which it filled me is remarkable. However, unless 15 minutes before the due date qualifies as “ahead of time,” I am afraid we must bid a tearful goodbye to the radiant Resolution #4. Upon realizing that walking to the fridge did not in fact qualify as exercise, Resolution #7 tragically succumbed to his own grief and decided that dark nothingness was most certainly superior to breaking a sweat. And so, to avoid risking my tears drenching the pages, let us turn over a new leaf as I bravely continue to lead a sleep-deprived and pathetic lifestyle. Goodbye, resolutions. And, as for 2018, here’s to lookin’ at you, kid. Love, G.U.
Carrie Ou / The Spectator
haps the worst candidate of all, however, was Harambe, an 18year-old silverback gorilla who was martyred on May 28. Harambe still managed to receive 11,000 votes on Election Day despite being 17 years too young to be able to run for presidency and also
clobbered to death. The last 12 months have also been hectic outside of U.S. politics. Brexit, the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, was meant to happen following a referendum in which 52 percent of the population voted to leave,
“Brexit, the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, was meant to happen following a referendum in which 52 percent of the population voted to leave, except—like my history project from March of last year—it has been procrastinated on for a good while.”
television, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, who somehow won the popular vote despite holding up people trying to take the subway by failing to swipe four times, and Green party candidate Jill Stein, who received more campaign donations after November 8 than ever before. Every candidate was, at least, questionable and, at worst, the Zodiac Killer reincarnated. Per-
1/2/17 - An Obituary New Year’s Resolutions
2016 in Review
By Gilvir Gill Trying to concisely summarize 2016 is a nearly impossible feat, given the sheer number of geopolitical issues, bad hombres, taco carts, and Republican presidential candidates. Yet if there’s anything I’ve learned this year— from the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series to Donald Trump winning the election to me passing physics—it is that anything is possible. So, here we go. 2016 brought a large mix of new figures into the presidential campaign trail. Most notably, there was Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and our 45th president, Donald J. Trump. Sanders was a political outsider and populist who started off in Brooklyn, developing an almost cult-like following by promising that everything was free for students living in their parents’ “dungeons.” On the other hand, Trump was a political outsider and populist who started off in Brooklyn, developing an almost cult-like following by promising that everything was free for white men who have been left “scarred” by Obama’s administration. Trump eventually won, beating Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, whose party’s National Convention included key party leaders getting naked on national
An Obituary for My New Year’s Resolutions
dead. After being shot by workers at the Cincinnati Zoo, a short period of mourning was followed by four brutal months of memes. It was evident that Harambe became a pop culture icon when a tribute to him titled “Male Genitalia Out for Harambe” topped Spotify charts. Twice. Unlike Harambe the gorilla, who went down in one shot, Harambe the meme was slowly
except—like my history project from March of last year—it has been procrastinated on for a good while. The Turkish military led a coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July, except Erdogan fought back using Facetime in hiding, while asking his people to resist the bloody coup. He then proceeded to add all of them on Snapchat, promis-
ing to “Make Turkey Slightly More Flavorful Again” and also to not mass snap the entire nation every five minutes. By far the biggest global disaster was the mobile game Pokémon Go, which immobilized much of the world by absorbing everyone into a mindless game which involves walking around and catching Rattatas, which took the place of other tasks such as responding to 9-1-1 calls or responding to the real world. For a couple of weeks, it was as if the entire human race had been hijacked by some sort of disease that made people do the unthinkable, such as going out and getting exercise or exploring more than their refrigerator. 2016 was also a year of goodbyes, from music legends such as Prince and David Bowie, to the state of Iowa, which no one will remember until the next presidential election, to the future of the United States. In the world of sports, it was the end of an era. Muhammad Ali died, Michael Phelps retired, as did Kobe Bryant. Ryan Lochte all but retired. The biggest loss of all, however, was the removal of senior and former Humor editor Laszlo Sandler from The Spectator, who was kicked off The Spectator’s
Editorial Board after he ran successfully for Senior Caucus or the newly-opened position of dictator of Cuba. Inside Stuyvesant High School, former Principal Jie Zhang finally called it quits and jumped on the opportunity to become the superintendent of a military academy. The New York Military Academy, once producing hundreds of brilliant minds— and also Trump—had found itself with economic problems, facing bankruptcy just like their most well known alum. The new interim acting principal of Stuyvesant, Eric Contreras, was instated over the summer after winning a water bottle flipping contest, and although no major policy changes have been released under him, he gave us all a smile on the first day of school, thus forging a deep and emotional bond. Of course, with the end of one era, a new one begins. 2016 was a terrible year, which means it can only get better from here unless you’re a junior. Of course, with Trump running our country and a former Humor editor running anything in general, a few things still remain in question. Until next year for now—if we do survive 2017.
The Spectator ● January 20, 2017
Humor 2016 in Review Crossword Puzzle By Angelique Charles-Davis and Ved Patel
ACROSS 4. That show that makes APUSH homework slightly more palatable, but ultimately makes it a 23-songlong ordeal 7. The first time any of us took some time (or months) to offer tribute to Cincinnati’s wildlife 8. A reminder that Beyoncé is powerful enough to create a cheating scandal from citrus fruits 10. This smartphone goes down in flames, not unlike GPAs 11. The Cockney slang for having a messy breakup—European style
DOWN 1. The perfect and lovable grandpa of millions of young Americans who was savagely shredded into tons of pieces by the famous orangutan of 2016 2. The game that made more inroads in promoting outdoor activity than all of Michelle Obama’s efforts 3. The gold medal swimmer in the absolute dumbest jock event at Rio, beating the world record by roughly seven seconds 5. What did Muhammad Ali, David Bowie, Prince, Alan Rickman, Leonard Cohen, Nancy Reagan, John Glenn, Alan Thicke, Jose Fernandez, George Michael, Carrie Fisher, and Zsa Zsa Gabor all do very well (for their first time ever) in 2016? 6. The somewhat hairy orangutan who just became the leader of the free world 9. The singer who took the last L of 2016
Answers 1. BERNIE 2. POKEMONGO 3. LOCHTE 4. HAMILTON 5. DIE 6. TRUMP 7. HARAMBE 8. LEMONADE 9. MARIAH 10. NOTE 11. BREXIT
The Spectator ● January 20, 2017
The Spectator ● January 20, 2017
Point-Counterpoint: Kyrie vs. Curry Why Kyrie Outplays Curry Why Curry Outplays Kyrie By Ariel Glazman
Curry seems to disappear in the clutch, whereas Irving shines. Irving’s position as the superior point guard is solidified by some of Curry’s negative attributes. He is the back-to-back MVP, the first ever unanimous MVP, and arguably the best three-point shooter of all time, with a record setting 402 threes last season. As amazing as these accolades are, they only show his dominance in the regular season, not in the finals. A player can have outstanding stats in the regular season, but they are worth little if he does not keep them up in championship games. In the 2016 NBA finals, Curry averaged 22.6 PPG on a 40.3 FG % and 40.3 3P %. While these are impressive numbers, they are not what one would expect from the NBA’s first ever unanimous MVP. Additionally, these statistics are significant decreases from his regular-season output. In the 2015-16 NBA season, Curry averaged 30.1 PPG on 50.4 FG % and 45.4 3P % as well as 6.7 APG, a 3.3 TO % and 2.1 SPG. Curry went down to 3.7 APG, an increased turnover percentage of 4.3 TO %, as well as less steals with only 0.9 SPG in the 2016 NBA Finals. This stark decrease contrasts directly with Irving’s sharp increase in statistical output during the finals. Curry seems to disappear in in the clutch, whereas Irving shines.
By Sean Stanton One Championship, two-regular season Most Valuable Player (MVP) Awards, one scoring title, three All-Star appearances, and three All-NBA teams. Stephen Curry has accomplished all of this by being one of the best shooters, if not the best, in the history of the National Basketball Association (NBA). But opposing Curry’s team, the Golden State Warriors, is another powerhouse: the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavaliers are best known for their future hall-of-famer LeBron James, but their roster still includes one of the best point guards in the league, Kyrie Irving. These two teams have been on the top for the past two seasons, splitting the last two NBA Finals. The matchup between the two point-guards has been the most important in the past two finals, and that has led to frequent comparison of Irving and Curry. The debate is heated, but Curry is by far the better point guard of the two. Curry, who is now 28, has played seven seasons in the NBA, all for the Golden State Warriors, after he was drafted as the seventh pick out of Davidson. However, until the 2014-15 NBA season, he wasn’t recognized as a superstar. However, that year, he averaged 23.8 points per game (PPG), 7.7 assists per game (APG), 4.3 rebounds per game (RPG), 2.0 steals per game (SPG), and a league-leading 91.4 free-throw percentage, winning the regular season MVP that year. That same season in the playoffs, he averaged 28.3 PPG, 6.4 APG, 5.0 RPG, and 1.9 SPG, leading the Warriors to their first championship in 39 seasons, while also winning the regular season MVP, and getting on the All-Star team and All-NBA first team. Irving, on the other hand, scored 21.7 PPG, 5.2 APG, and 3.2 RPG, while only barely getting onto the All-NBA third team, and a reserve on the All-Star team. In the 2015-16, Curry had the best season of his career so far, in which he averaged 30.1 PPG, 6.7 APG, 5.4 RPG, 2.1 SPG, and a 90.8 free-throw percentage. He led the league in PPG, SPG, and free-throw percentage, had career highs in RPG, SPG, PPG, and field goal percentage (50.4 percent), won the scoring title, and was the first player to ever win the regular season MVP unanimously. Additionally, he once again got on the All-Star team and AllNBA first team. In the playoffs, he averaged 25.1 PPG, 5.2 APG, 5.5 RPG, and 1.4 SPG, leading his team to the NBA finals, where they had a gut-wrenching loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers after a game-winning shot by Irving. If you look at Irving’s stats for the same season, he looks like an ordinary player. He averaged 19.6 PPG, 4.7 APG, and 3.0 RPG. He didn’t make the All-Star team, any of the All-NBA teams, or get any awards in general. After that series, people started to compare Curry and Irving. Many people said that because of Irving’s game-win-
Yujie Fu/ The Spectator
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors have played each other in the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals for the past two years, and it does not seem like that will change anytime soon. Two key players from the teams are their point guards: Kyrie Irving for the Cavs and Stephen Curry for the Warriors. As the big man is slowly becoming extinct in the NBA, point guards are more essential to a team’s success than ever. Kyrie Irving has executed for the Cavs in the moments that matter most, while Curry is a shadow of his regular seasonself. A player like Irving, who can knock down crucial shots in the fourth quarter and exponentially elevate his game in the finals, is much more valuable to his team than Curry, who fades into the background when it matters most. The recent Christmas Day game against the Warriors exhibited Irving’s ability to step up in the waning moments of a game. With the score at 108-105 Warriors, Irving got a steal off of Kevin Durant, preventing a fastbreak dunk and a five point game with only 50 seconds left. He then bolted down the floor, splitting defenders to shoot an extremely difficult up-and-under scoop layup to make it 108107 Warriors. With a little more than 11 seconds left in the game and the score at a standstill, Irving dribbled up the court, posted up an excellent defender in Klay Thompson and shot an even more challenging fadeaway. He made it to give the Cavs a one-point lead, leaving the Warriors with only 3.4 seconds to retaliate. Where was Curry during this last play? The first-ever unanimous MVP was subbed out of the last play of the game by his own coach, Steve Kerr. This was one of the most awaited games of the season, and Steve Kerr lacked enough trust in his star to make a game-winning shot with 3.4 seconds left in the game, instead designing a play for Kevin Durant. Kyrie Irving is not just more clutch than Curry; he is also a better overall playmaker and ball-handler. When the Cavs need crucial points, it is not three-time finals MVP and four-time MVP LeBron James who usually gets the ball, it’s Kyrie Irving. On the other hand, as exemplified by the Christmas Day game, the Warriors main scoring option is now Durant, not Curry. Irving knows when the game calls for a three and when it calls for a pass. Late in games, he makes better overall plays than Curry, and is trusted by his coach more. In addition, he is considered the best ball-handler in the league by almost every sports analyst and has been praised by ball-handling legends such as Allen Iverson for his supernatural ability. Irving’s ability to hit huge shots was evident in the most important game of the entire season, Game 7 of the NBA Finals, where he hit a fadeaway go-ahead three over Curry with less than a minute left in
the game. Neither team had scored for over two minutes, and Irving hit the biggest shot of his career, winning the Cavs their first ring in 52 years. Additionally, Irving raised his game to another level in the finals. He not only drastically improved almost every statistical category possible from his regular season, but he also dominated Curry in practically every field. He had more points per game (PPG) with 27.1 on a higher fieldgoal percentage (FG %) of 46.8 percent and a higher three-point field goal percentage (3P %) of 40.5 percent. He also had a better free-throw percentage, 93.9 percent, as well as more assists per game (APG) with 3.9, more steals per game (SPG) with 2.1, and a lower turnover percentage (TO %) of 2.6 percent. These number are a significant increase from his regular season stats of 19.6 PPG, 44.8 FG%, 32.1 FG%, 88.5 FT%, 4.7 APG, 2.3 TO%, and 1.1 SPG. Irving elevates his game and shows up when it matters most, hitting the late 4th quarter shots that have won the Cavs big games and a ring.
ning shot, and spectacular performance in the Finals, compared to Curry’s lackluster performance, Irving was the better player. However, the stats don’t add up to that conclusion. In the postseason, Curry averaged 2.8 more PPG, 2.2 more APG, 1.5 more RPG, and a 1.8 percent higher freethrow percentage, while only having lower field-goal percentages than Irving. In the 2015-16 NBA Finals, where Curry was said to have been outplayed by Irving, Curry averaged .1 less PPG than Irving, while he averaged .5 APG and 2.5 RPG more than Irving. These stats contradict the statement that Curry “disappeared” in the playoffs, because his level of play was still higher than Irving’s, even if it was lower than his own in the regular season. In addition to the stats, Curry has two regular-season MVPs; Irving doesn’t have any. Curry has been a scoring and stealleader for a season; Irving has never lead the NBA in any statistic. Curry has been on two all-NBA first teams; Irving hasn’t been on any. Not only are Curry’s stats better than Irving’s, but Curry is also the leader and the best player on his team, while Irving is not. The Warriors heavily rely on Curry to do well, and he is the player that leads the Warriors to victory. There have been rare cases in the NBA Finals and other important games where Curry has not lived up to expectations, and in those games, the Warriors usually end up losing. On the other hand, there have been many cases where, whether Irving had done well or not, the Cavaliers ended up getting a victory. In both of the NBA Finals that the Warriors and Cavaliers have met in, LeBron James carried the Cavaliers, and led his team in almost every stat. Irving was only a role player, and in some games, Irving didn’t need to do anything, except let James carry him to victory. Whether Irving is playing or not, the Cavaliers would still do well with LeBron James leading them, as seen in the 2015 NBA Finals, where he led the Cavs in a tough six-game NBA Finals loss without Irving or star power forward Kevin Love. With the dominance of Curry over the past two seasons, it’d be ridiculous to set that aside due to a few bad games. Curry is and has been a leader of one of the best teams in the NBA, while Irving has been James’s wingman, not the star of the Cavaliers.
Lemurs Leap Into New Season With Swift Win continued from page 28 forward to seeing the team’s new members improve. “One of the newcomers [junior John Lin] showed a lot of improvement and dedication to the sport. He came in this year as a junior, but he is already making a mark on the team,” Liu said. Preseason for the boys’ gymnastics team, the Lemurs, meant hours of long conditioning and practicing in the third floor gym, and their regular season training is just as difficult. Whether that means doing handstand pushups or working on a layout (a flip with an extended body) until it is landed with a perfect stick, each member of the team is pushing
themselves to their own limits. Last year, the Lemurs were second in the Public School Athletic League City Championship, after a very tight meet with LaGuardia High School. The loss of several core gymnasts, including some of PSAL’s best all-arounders, makes the road to placing in Team Finals difficult this season. Gregory Redozubov (‘16) was a major contributor to Stuy’s scores in meets. His best allaround score of the season last year was 45.8, which he earned in Stuy’s first meet of the season against Long Island City. Another former Lemur, Aaron Orelowitz (‘16), who was skilled at the pommel horse, averaged about seven points for the event per meet. The Lemurs must
find ways to compensate for the graduates in both points and spirit. One key member of the team will be Aleksey. “[Aleksey] is a very strong all around gymnast,” Khan said. “Despite starting the sport in freshman year, he can compare to club gymnasts who have been practicing since before high school. He’s especially good at parallel bars, and I won’t be surprised if he ends up as one of the top gymnasts in almost every event this season.” Head coach Marvin Autry is also pushing the individual members to their limits and testing their capabilities. “We have returning veterans that are looking very good and working very hard, [but] we really have to have the seniors
committed to doing all-around events, and if they do that, we should be able to make playoffs and end up in second or third place [in the Team Finals],” Autry said. Nazaryan has had a history of scoring well in floor and vaulting events, and he is hoping to compete in more events throughout the season. “I think the team has a chance at placing in the top three,” he said. Nazaryan hopes to contribute in the all-around this year, and he wants underclassmen to “fill in the remaining spots” left by those who graduated last year, he said. As one of the younger veterans on the team, Khan is looking to contribute much more this year. “I would like to improve my ca-
pabilities as a gymnast on every event and become a well-balanced gymnast,” said Khan, who specializes on pommel horse. “I hope to improve on [pommel horse] the most and hopefully place higher on [it] during individual finals.” As a freshman, Khan placed seventh on pommel horse in the Individual Championships, which was a rare feat, proving his potential and room for growth. The team remains confident in its skills and is optimistic about the upcoming season. “[There is incredible] talent in [Stuyvesant] and outside [of it],” Liu said. “If everyone keeps working harder and getting better, we have a shot at doing well.”
The Spectator ● January 20, 2017
A Wave of Coaching Changes to the NFL By Jared Asch As the regular season comes to a close and the playoffs begin, many coaches at teams across the league will be under pressure. Some coaches, previously successful, have fallen flat with little change in rosters, leaving owners demanding answers. Many coaches who disappointed their teams will be left looking for new jobs, and while some of these decisions were completely justified, others left fans begging for answers.
Buffalo Bills: Rex Ryan and Rob Ryan
The Bills let go of head coach Rex Ryan as well as his brother, assistant coach Rob Ryan. They closed off a disappointing 7-9 season with a 30-10 loss to the Jets in Week 17, leaving them in third place in the AFC East. Though the season could have gone worse for the team, Rex Ryan missed the mark with his promises and goals for the team. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor showed some regression this year under Rex Ryan’s lackluster offensive system, and the Bills’ undisciplined defense continued to struggle with Rex Ryan’s complex defensive scheme. Despite great potential for the past with new draft picks, Rex Ryan’s coaching style did not allow for them to fit into the defense, which led to their poor performances. Rex Ryan brought them down from being the fourth best defense in yards in 2014 to 19th in both 2015 and 2016. Many players from the Bills and previous teams of Rex Ryan’s attribute this to the lack of discipline he brings to the field, which considerably hurt the Bills. In Rex Ryan’s two years, the
Bills finished first and ninth, respectively, in most penalties committed per game. In the coming weeks, the Bills should look to hire experienced coaches who have a history with defensive success and transforming rookies into starters. While Rex Ryan has been successful in the past, he was working with the experienced defenses of the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets. The Bills’ front office would be smart to hire a coach with a simpler scheme than Rex Ryan, and one who develops quarterbacks better, as Taylor hasn’t worked out as the Bills had planned. They’ve already taken the right first step by firing Rex Ryan, so now they need to move on from on the right path.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Gus Bradley
Some of these changes were well expected by the fans, and the firing of Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley was no different. Even with this year looking promising for the Jaguars, who have consistently been at the bottom of the league, they still managed to finish the season with a 3-13 record, third to last in the league, a step down from their 7-9 finish last year. Despite many fans having hopes for this year with quarterback Blake Bortles and wide receiver Allen Robinson heating up
last year and, the Jaguars fell flat on both offense and defense. Bradley allowed for the regression of Bortles as a quarterback since the previous year, which ultimately didn’t give them chance to win games. Bradley has done little to ensure the success of the team during his tenure as coach, and his 14-48 record reflects this. Although this record may certainly be due to a lack of talent in previous years, he has failed to transform the offense even with talents such as wide receivers Robinson and Allen Hurns. The Jaguars have since brought in Tom Coughlin Executive VP of Football Operations. These new hirings should give the Jaguars hope, as Coughlin has previously transformed a poorly-performing team, the Giants, into Super Bowl winners within a matter of years. Coughlin has been successful with the Jaguars as well, leading them to the AFC Championship twice within four years in the late ‘90s. In addition, the Jaguars have promoted Doug Marrone from interim head coach to permanent head coach. His offensive system will be a breath of fresh-air for Bortles, w h o m Jacksonville is still committed to as its
Klaire Geller / The Spectator
franchise quarterback. With young players on both sides of the ball from cornerback Jalen Ramsey to Bortles, Hurns, and Robinson, getting a fresh start with a new head coach is the best move the Jaguars could have made.
Los Angeles Rams: Jeff Fisher
The Rams hoped for a great season this year after a move to Los Angeles that looked promising for profits, but instead fell short with an offense which did not produce. Coach Jeff Fisher, who has been with the Rams since 2012, has done nothing to help the team grow. In 2016, its offense was the worst in the league in points and yards, and second-to-last in the league in rushing yards and passing yards. The team’s defense was often able to perform well, finishing ninth best in yards allowed, but they were heavily limited by the offense. To replace Fisher, the Rams named Sean McVay head coach, hoping to boost their offense. McVay was the offensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins, who were third best in offensive yards, despite having little star talent. With Fisher in the past, the Rams will look to develop their young quarterback, Jared Goff, who Los Angeles traded up to the number one overall pick to select in the 2016 draft. Despite McVay’s success in Washington, this can only be the first step for the Rams. In the near future, McVay will have to revive running back Todd Gurley, who averaged 3.2 yards per carry in 2016 after being named the 2015 Offensive Rookie of the Year. By building the offensive line and getting him the ball in open space, as McVay
did often with playmakers in Washington, Gurley should be able to bounce back. Down the road, the Rams must find strong players for Goff to throw to and develop an offensive line that can protect him. Until they do this, they can’t expect Goff or the team to succeed.
San Diego Chargers: Mike McCoy
The Chargers opted to fire McCoy after four seasons and a disappointing 5-11 record to cap it off this year. Though the season was marred with injuries to key players such as Melvin Gordon, Danny Woodhead, and Keenan Allen, McCoy still managed to win five games. McCoy did not coach terribly, but he never showed any promise for the Chargers and with a move to Los Angeles finalized, the Chargers should look to start fresh. The Chargers should seek a coach with a more conservative offensive system, as San Diego led the league this year with 35 turnovers. As quarterback Philip Rivers ages, it’s important that his coach accounts for this, and McCoy clearly didn’t, as Rivers led the league with 21 interceptions and set a careerhigh in that category. While McCoy drew some bad breaks with injuries to key players, it’s understandable that the Chargers would want to move on. Under his four years in San Diego, the team made the playoffs only once, in 2013. Since then, the Chargers have been nothing special, and with Rivers reaching the twilight of his career and the team’s move to Los Angeles officially announced, the team is looking for a fresh start.
How the Winter Meetings Changed the MLB Landscape By Jeremy Rubin The 2016 Major League Baseball (MLB) season wrapped up just under two months ago, but many free agents have already been scooped up by teams looking to contend in the 2017 season. Last season, the Chicago Cubs were the feel-good story, as they ended their championship drought by winning the World Series for the first time in 108 years. Offseason acquisitions such as Ben Zobrist and Dexter Fowler, two shrewd signings for the team, became valuable pieces for the team. This year, teams are trying to replicate the Cubs’ success by making moves of their own.
Red Sox Trade for Chris Sale
The Red Sox had one of the best starting rotations in the MLB with Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello, former Cy Young winner David Price, solid veteran Drew Pomeranz with a 3.32 ERA (Earned Run Average) and 170.2 innings pitched in 2016, and knuckleballer Steven Wright with a 3.33 ERA and 13-6 record before suffering an injury. The team’s starting pitching was not going to be an issue heading into 2017, so it traded for a consensus top-ten pitcher to bolster the rotation even further. Chris Sale, who played for the White Sox from 2010-16, holds a 3.00 ERA and a 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings average through his career and is a true ace. The Red Sox rotation went from stellar to the best in the MLB. This was a great move for the Red Sox. They now become World Series favorites, along with the Cubs, and they at least belong at the top of the American League. Behind Most Valuable Player (MVP)
runner-up Mookie Betts, the offense is a force to be reckoned with. Even with the retirement of designated hitter David Ortiz (.315 batting average, 38 home runs), free agent signee Mitch Moreland and the collective talent of the rest of the lineup show alleviate Ortiz’s absence. Now, with Sale and a powerful lineup top-to-bottom, the team is set up to contend for years to come. This was also a great trade for the White Sox. In exchange for Sale, they received five prospects, most notably Yoan Moncada, who was ranked as the best prospect in baseball by Baseball America last July. Moncada, while unpolished, has the ability to become a superstar in a few years. The White Sox have started their long-overdue rebuilding process, and Moncada is a great prospect to start the building around. Along with the trading of Adam Eaton and shopping players like Todd Frazier or Jose Quintana, the team is heading for the right direction as it begins to stockpile young talent in the minor leagues.
Yankees Sign Aroldis Chapman
As soon as the Yankees traded Chapman to the Cubs on July 25, rumors already began to swirl that the Yankees would try to re-acquire the “Cuban Missile,” and this offseason, they got him for five years and $86 million. This is the largest contract ever given to a relief pitcher. Even though Chapman is an elite pitcher (1.55 ERA in 2016), he is not worth the insane contract. The Yankees are not contending for a World Series this year, so spending $86 million on a player whose sole purpose is to shut down teams late in the game is pointless. He will
be wasted on this Yankees team for at least a few seasons while they try to build and become a contender. One benefit of signing Chapman is that he already played for the Yankees in 2016. He was extremely effective and proved that he is capable of handling New York. However, he is also a liability to the team. He was suspended for the first 30 games of the season for domestic violence after an offseason incident, and he is not the type of player whom a coach wants on his team, nor am I a fan who wants to root for him. He admitted to domestic abuse and puts the Yankees in a bad light if he is the type of player the club is willing to sign. Their money could have been better saved for the 2018 offseason, where stars like Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, and Clayton Kershaw (if he opts-out of his current contract) all become free agents. Using money on one of those players would make more sense than shelling it out on a player who will not improve the Yankees’ long-term situation.
Dodgers Re-sign Kenley Jansen, Rich Hill, and Justin Turner
The Los Angeles Dodgers kept their past year’s team relatively the same by re-signing three key players. Third baseman Justin Turner (four years, $64 million total), closer Kenley Jansen (five years, $80 million), and starting pitcher Rich Hill (three years, $48 million) will remain valuable assets for the team. These signings show that the Dodgers have faith that they can win with the players they currently have, but many are wondering if
they can. Through 2013-16, the Dodgers have won their division, but they have never made it to the World Series. Time after time, the team has fallen apart and lost too soon. While retaining these players makes a lot of sense for the team, they are not enough to bring back a World Series championship to Los Angeles. One main area of concern for the team is the durability of its starting rotation, and the team didn’t address any of these problems. Behind ace Clayton Kershaw and reliable Kenta Maeda, the last three spots in the rotation are hitor-miss. Rich Hill doesn’t solve this problem. He is already 36, and only made 20 starts this past season (a good starter pitches about 30-35 games). He is not a reliable, proven arm who can push the Dodgers into the position of being a real World Series contender. Another crucial need is bullpen help for Kenley Jansen. Jansen is an amazing closer, but until the team gets him some help, he will not be at his maximum effectiveness. This weakness was exploited in the National League Championship Series (NLCS) against the Cubs, where the Cubs scored 26 runs in 26 and 1/3 innings off relief pitchers other than Jansen. Until the Dodgers sign another bullpen arm and another reliable starter, the Dodgers are not a top three team in baseball.
Other Notable Moves Washington Nationals acquire Adam Eaton from the White Sox for three prospects Washington got the outfielder they were looking for, but they were forced to give up a steep return. Eaton is a good outfielder, but he is
no Andrew McCutchen (the player the Nationals originally wanted, who was the 2013 MVP). He hit .284, but the players given up, like Lucas Giolito, a consensus top-five prospect, are a bigger loss. Mets re-sign Yoenis Cespedes for four years, $110 million Cespedes allows the Mets to compete for the NL East title against the Nationals. However, with a mediocre offense around him and an injury-prone rotation, World Series contention is tough. The Mets need to trade one of their current outfielders, ideally Curtis Granderson or Jay Bruce, to get some more pitching or offensive help. Colorado Rockies sign Ian Desmond for five years, $70 million Desmond’s breakout year pays off as he gets a major contract from the Rockies, but the Rockies are not contenders. Also, his two best positions, outfield and shortstop, are both currently occupied, so there isn’t much space for Desmond on this team. The Rockies are planning on using him at first base, but this would be a waste of his athletic ability and hurt the team even further. Indians sign Edwin Encarnacion for three years, $60 million The Indians made the wise decision to sign coveted free agent Encarnacion. He will slide into the designated hitter spot, previously occupied by Mike Napoli, who will likely leave through free agency. Last season, Encarnacion hit 42 home runs and 127 runs batted in, and he is a clear upgrade over Napoli. This Indians team will again be gunning for the World Series in 2017.
The Spectator ● January 20, 2017
Sports Sports Editorial
Cooperstown: No Place for Juicers By MAX ONDERDONK As of press time, the 2017 Hall of Fame class has not been released. The National Baseball Hall of Fame is the center of baseball tradition and pride. Every piece of baseball history is honored, from legends like Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron, to props used in famous baseball movies and equipment used in some of baseball’s first games. Since its inception in 1936, the Hall of Fame has first and foremost been a place to honor the game of baseball. The players represent the sport’s best, and yet, some of them cheated their way to success. After a league-wide strike in 1994 over labor negotiations that lasted for over six months, fan interest was at a low point. It was the home run ball and high scoring that brought fans back. The three players who headlined this era were Sammy Sosa, who hit 66 home runs in 1998, Mark McGwire, who beat out Sosa in a tight race with 70 home runs in 1998, and Barry Bonds, who broke McGwire’s record by hitting an unbelievable 73 home runs in 2001. Home runs hit an all-time high in 2000, with the league amassing in total over 1,500 more than in 1995. With the excitement and energy players like them brought to the ballpark, baseball appeared to be revitalized. However, what followed the era of long balls and high scores is what would truly define base-
ball, and ultimately define the late ‘90s and early 2000s. It would forever be remembered as the infamous “steroid era.” Shortly after Bonds broke the home run record, he was forced to testify in court amidst The Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (BALCO) scandal. He was later indicted on three counts of perjury, and eventually convicted of obstruction of justice. Later, the results of a six-year old steroid test were released in 2009, and 104 players tested positive, including Bonds, Sosa, three-time Most Valuable Player Alex Rodriguez, and seven-time Cy Young Award Winner Roger Clemens, all of whom would be Hall of Famers without this mark on their record. Despite not testing positive in this test, McGwire admitted to steroid use in 2010. While steroids made the game fun to watch for a short period of time, it tarnished the reputation of baseball in the long run. While many of the 104 players who tested positive were committing minor offenses, it was players like Bonds, Clemens, and Rodriguez who brought shame to baseball. Bonds underwent lengthy trials about his steroid use, Clemens was also indicted on perjury charges, and Rodriguez denied allegations fiercely until a 2013 investigation gained overwhelming evidence against him, resulting in a fullseason suspension. These players are a blemish on baseball’s record, let alone legends, and it
is ridiculous that they should be considered to be Hall of Famers. As we look at the Hall of Fame for 2017, Bonds, Sosa, and Clemens are all present (Rodriguez will likely be on the ballot in 2022). All have already been denied from the hall of fame at least twice, but voters have become more sympathetic to users of Performance-Enhancing Drugs (PEDs), as the BALCO scandal and 2003 drug test are becoming forgotten and the shock of the names on the list has settled. Clemens and Bonds have gotten more votes every year on the ballot, and writers such as Kevin Cooney of The Courier Times have pledged their votes for Bonds and Clemens. The steroid era has also negatively impacted players of the era who didn’t take steroids, as some votes are directed towards players connected toward PEDs. In 2016, Clemens received votes from 45.2 percent of voters, and Bonds received 44.3 percent (voters can put up to ten players on their ballot). Meanwhile, Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Trevor Hoffman, who had never been accused of taking PEDs, received 71.6, 69.8, and 67.3 percent, respectively, just short of the required 75 percent. The statistics of clean players also pale in comparison to the tainted statistics of those connected to PEDs. Bagwell, for example, had a .408 on-base percentage (OBP) and 447 home runs in his career, which are statistics of a high enough level to make the Hall of Fame. However,
this looks pathetic compared to Bonds’ .444 OBP and all-time record 762 home runs. These inflated statistics give the impression that players like Bagwell weren’t truly “great,” while the reason behind this is fair play by Bagwell, compared to Bonds’s unfair advantage. The arguments for inducting players who have used steroids into the Hall of Fame stem from an “it’s like this already” mindset: some players drank during the Prohibition, and others, such as Paul Molitor, were hooked on cocaine in the 1970s and 80s. However, none of these players affected the game itself the way Bonds, Sosa, and the many players who took steroids did. Cocaine is absolutely more dangerous than PEDs, but no one would argue that it made Molitor a better player on the field. As for those who abused alcohol during the Prohibition, such as Hall of Fame pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander, players who have broken the law haven’t been denied status from the Hall of Fame because of it. Orlando Cepeda was arrested on marijuana charges in the 1970s and is in the Hall today, and Tigers’ first baseman Miguel Cabrera is currently seen as a clear Hall of Famer despite his DUI offenses. On the other hand, Bonds and Clemens had an advantage on the field, and no one else in baseball history has been implicated in PED scandals to this extent. While it’s reasonable to argue that minimal users on
Klaire Geller / The Spectator
the 2003 list could be considered, players like Bonds, Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, and the many players who have been suspended for PED use since 2005 shouldn’t be. Additionally, a common argument is that these players still accomplished unbelievable feats, even if they were aided by steroids. This shouldn’t be denied, as it’s true that Bonds hitting 762 home runs would be impressive under any circumstances. Clemens’ seven Cy Young awards make him an amazing pitcher. However, the Hall of Fame is a place for legends. It is a place to honor the tradition and greatness of baseball. Bonds and Clemens were great players, but the Hall of Fame is sacred to baseball, a place that honors the game that kids play from the moment they can run, and that fans have admired for over 100 years. Dishonesty and fraud have no place there.
Matt Ryan Soars into MVP Conversation By Michael Gillow The National Football League (NFL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award is the most prestigious honor a player can receive in the regular season. Legends from Joe Montana to Peyton Manning have held this award, and year after year there are tight races that always lead to a close finish. Annually, the MVP discussion is one of the most heated ones of the NFL season, as the majority of fans and analysts can almost never agree. But this year there really shouldn’t be any debate: Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has performed above and beyond the competition. Ryan’s season was one of the best seasons of all time for a quarterback. But more importantly, he is more valuable to the Falcons than any other player is to their team. Ryan has led the Falcons to a 11-5 record, enough to earn a first round bye in the playoffs. The Falcons had the highest scoring offense in the NFL, scoring 33.8 points per game. This placed them 4.5 points higher than the next highest-scoring offense, the New Orleans Saints, and 6.2 points higher than the third highestscoring offense, the New England Patriots. This 2016 Atlanta Falcons offense was the seventh highest single-season scoring offense in NFL history. The Falcons also had the most points scored per drive in NFL history for a single season. While this was in part due to the Falcons having the fifth most rushing yards in the NFL, 42 percent of their points scored came off Ryan touchdowns (not including extra points). The Falcons offense carried them this season, as the defense was no help, ranking 27th in points per game allowed and 25th in yards per game allowed out of 32 teams. Last year, the Falcons went 8-8, missing the playoffs, and only averaged 21.2 points per game. This improvement was al-
most solely due to Ryan’s increased play, as the Falcons had practically the same returning unit on offense. Ryan threw for 353 more yards, 17 more touchdowns, and nine fewer interceptions in 2016 than he did in 2015. Ryan threw for 4,944 yards, 38 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, and had a 69.9 percent completion percentage. Ryan ranked second in the NFL in yards behind only Drew Brees, second in touchdowns behind Aaron Rodgers, and third in completion percentage, and he had the most yards per attempt and highest quarterback rating. What made Ryan’s season truly special was his efficiency. The Falcons attempted the 26th most passes as a team in the NFL, and yet Ryan had the second most yards out of any quarterback. Ryan was able to pass for so many yards despite his low number of passes attempted because of his absurd yards per attempt number of 9.3, which set a record for the highest ever in a single-season for a quarterback with over 350 attempts. Ryan had the fifth highest passer rating on any NFL quarterback in history for a single season. This high yards per attempt is evident of the vertical style offense that Ryan is in. Being in a vertical style offense means that the quarterback throws deep more often, which leads to more yards, but often also leads to more interceptions and a worse completion percentage. However, this did not happen to Ryan. He had the third highest completion percentage, and only six quarterbacks with more than 200 attempts had fewer interceptions. The passer rating stat is one that people sometimes use solely to judge how good a quarterback has been due to its advanced calculations that take into effect all basic stats and efficiency ratings, and Ryan wiped the floor with his competition. Believe it or not, Ryan’s season is comparable with some of the best seasons any quarterback
has had. Two of history’s greatest seasons by quarterbacks were from Peyton Manning in 2013 and Tom Brady in 2007. While in 2013, Peyton threw for 500 more yards, and had 17 more touchdowns than Ryan did in 2016, Ryan was much more efficient. Ryan had 130 fewer attempts, had a better completion percentage, more yards per attempt, fewer interceptions, and a better passer rating. In 2007, Brady threw for 12 more touchdowns than Ryan did in 2016. However, in fewer attempts, Ryan had more yards, a better completion percentage, more yards per attempt, and fewer intercep-
Klaire Geller / The Spectator
tions. Brady and Ryan had practically the same passer rating in these two seasons. The only real stat that separates Ryan from one of these historic seasons is his number of touchdowns, which still ranked second in the NFL. The main candidates for MVP outside of Ryan are New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Tom Brady is probably the second most-deserving player of this award. He has played excellently since coming back from a fourgame suspension to lead the Patriots to a 11-1 record, having the Patriots finish at 14-2. However,
Brady was out for four games and has a great defense to support him, unlike Ryan. New England went 3-1 without Brady, and have been amazing around him. Brady also has much better targets to throw to than Ryan does. Ryan has Julio Jones, who is arguably the best receiver in the NFL. But outside of him, there are no other reliable options in the Falcons offense. Brady, however, has the best tight end in football to throw to in Rob Gronkowski, a great second tight end in Martellus Bennett, and two good receivers in Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. The Patriots also have a great pass blocking offensive line, which has allowed Brady to get sacked only 15 times compared to the 37 times that Ryan was sacked. In addition to the passing options and protection Brady has, the Patriots have the best scoring defense in the NFL (15.3 points per game allowed) and have the seventh most rushing yards out of any team (1,872 yards). Even though Brady’s team around him was much better, Ryan still outplayed him. Ryan had more yards per game, more touchdowns per game, a better completion percentage, and a better passer rating. The only thing Brady has going for him is that he only has thrown 2 interceptions, which is incredible in its own right. Many people would also argue that Rodgers had an MVP-caliber season. Rodgers led the Packers to a 10-6 record, barely winning the division after a six-game win streak to end the season. Rodgers called that the Packers would run the table, and he wasn’t bluffing. Rodgers also has a very poor defense, as the Packers rank 21st in points allowed per game, though it wasn’t as bad as Atlanta’s. Green Bay also had the 20th most rushing
yards on the season. Rodgers was effective in the run game having over 300 yards rushing and four touchdowns. Rodgers also has one of the best offensive lines and football, and takes by far the most time in the pocket of any quarterback, yet was still sacked 12 fewer times than Ryan was. While it is impressive that Rodgers was able to lead this team to the playoffs, he also has had a worse season than Ryan. Rodgers finished with 500 fewer passing yards than Ryan, over a four percent worse completion percentage, nearly 15 points worse in passer rating. What mostly ruined Rodgers’ MVP chances were his first five games. Through his first five games he only averaged 234 yards per game, threw four interceptions, and 10 touchdowns. Unfortunately however, the MVP award often goes to players who have provided a great storyline for the media. The MVP award is voted on by NFL reporters, so the media has a heavy impact. Even though Ryan has outperformed the competition and is far more valuable than any other player in the NFL, he still might not win the award because other quarterbacks have made more headlines. The last three MVP winners were Cam Newton, Rodgers, and Peyton Manning. Rodgers and Manning had already won MVPs before, and Newton was heavily covered by the media throughout the year, both through praise and criticism. This year, Ryan has fallen under the radar in a relatively small Atlanta market, while Rodgers’ prediction that the Packers would win out and succeeding is a storyline the media has drooled over. Ryan has managed to have one of the best and most efficient seasons in NFL history and still goes under the radar. His efficiency across the board is something we have never seen before. The debate over who the NFL MVP is really isn’t much of a debate. By far the most deserving of the NFL’s most prestigious regular season award is Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons.
The Spectator ● January 20, 2017
The Path to the Lombardi Trophy By Simon Carmody, Michael Gillow, Dimitriy Leksanov, and Max Onderdonk As we head into the National Football League (NFL) Conference Championship round, only four teams remain. In the American Football Conference (AFC), the New England Patriots host the Pittsburgh Steelers, and in the National Football Conference (NFC), the Atlanta Falcons host the Green Bay Packers. With the weaker teams out of the picture and only serious contenders left, every team has a shot, and here’s how they’ll each be able to win.
New England Patriots The New England Patriots are back to the AFC Championship Game for a record-sixth consecutive season, and they look as strong as ever. Despite an injury to star tight end Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots have been undefeated in his absence, and have won eight games in a row, including a victory in the playoffs over the Houston Texans (34-16) to give them a 15-2 total record. With their hot streak and the best record of remaining teams, the Patriots are the clear favorites to win the Super Bowl. First and foremost, the team’s offense is electric. Even with Gronkowski out, Martellus Bennett continues to be one of the league’s premier tight ends: he is able to out-muscle defenders at the catch point, after the catch, and even while blocking, something that has become a lost art in the new NFL. On the defensive side of the ball, an area that New England has never been known for, the Patriots are now potent. Cornerback Malcolm Butler has been an absolute stud, and his play, along with that of safety Devin McCourty, is a big reason why the Patriots have the third-best turnover margin in the NFL, at plus-12. Even in spite of the inexplicable midseason trade of star linebacker Jamie Collins, the Patriots’ run defense has remained one of the best in the league, as they finished the season third in rushing yards allowed. With their defense strong all around the field, New England led the league in scoring defense, allowing only 15.6 points per game. However, what puts them over the top is their coaching, as head coach Bill Belichick, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia have constructed the best scheme in the league. It certainly shows. Over the entire season, the Patriots tied for the league lead by only turning the ball over eleven times. While they turned it over three times in their victory against the Texans, Pittsburgh’s defense won’t provide the same pressure when they travel to Foxborough for their matchup. The Patriots are in a position where they can just keep playing their brand of football, and no one will be able to stop them from winning their fifth Super Bowl title. From hallof-fame quarterback Tom Brady to one of the best coaches of all time, Belichick, to the top-scoring defense in the NFL, it appears that no one will stop New England from hoisting another Lombardi Trophy.
Atlanta Falcons The Falcons have never won a Super Bowl, but they look to change that with this playoff run. The Falcons came into the playoffs with an 11-5 record, which awarded them the number two seed in the NFC and a first round bye. They have all the pieces to make a Super Bowl run, and showed it by dominating the Seattle Seahawks in the divisional round (36-20). The Falcons have the best offense in the NFL, and arguably the best offense of all time. The Falcons led the NFL in points this season with 33.8 points per game, which is also fifth all-time for an offense in a single season. They had the most points per drive for any offense in a single season in NFL history. The Falcons have Matt Ryan at quarterback, who has led this offense the entire season. He was the best quarterback this season, and is more than deserving of the NFL MVP award. The Falcons also have a lot of pieces around Ryan. They have a two-headed monster at the running back position in Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, the best receiver in football in Julio Jones, and other targets who have stepped up as of late in Taylor Gabriel and Mohamed Sanu. Atlanta also does a great job taking care of the ball, as they tied for the fewest giveaways in the NFL with 11. The Falcons’ main weakness is their defense, but they have a lot of playmakers on it. While Desmond Trufant, their best corner, is injured, they still have rookie Keanu Neal who has been excellent this season. Vic Beasley Jr. has been wreaking havoc all season for this Falcons defense, and was the NFL sack leader this season. Young linebacker Deion Jones is also capable of making big plays, as he had an interception against Seattle. The Falcons will need to defeat the Green Bay Packers to make the Super Bowl, but this is certainly possible. Perhaps the only quarterback coming into this game hotter than Aaron Rodgers is Ryan. The Falcons have won their last five games, and Ryan has been excellent in every single one of them. He threw 14 touchdowns, nearly 1,500 yards, hasn’t thrown an interception, and finished every game with at least a 121 passer rating. The Packers’ defense is also weak, and the Falcons will look to take advantage of it. No defense in the NFL can stop this Falcons offense, and if they can force turnovers like they did against Seattle, they have a great chance of taking the Lombardi Trophy to Atlanta.
Pittsburgh Steelers It’s been six years since the often-successful Steelers have been to the AFC Championship Game, but they’re back. After a slow start to their season, the Steelers have won nine in a row, including victories over the Miami Dolphins (30-12) and the Kansas City Chiefs (18-16) in the playoffs, giving them a 13-5 total record on the season. While the key to success for Pittsburgh in recent years has been their offense, led by Ben Roethlisberger, running back Le’Veon Bell, and wide receiver Antonio Brown, the team’s defense has been surprisingly successful this year. In their two playoff games, Pittsburgh got six sacks and forced five turnovers. Next round, they head to Foxborough to face the New England Patriots (15-2), who are the favorites to win the Super Bowl. However, the Steelers can certainly win if they stick by their formula of success. Pittsburgh’s main priority should be to feed the ball to their star players, Bell and Brown. In their two playoff games, Bell and Brown eclipsed 100 yards each game. Against the Chiefs, they struggled in the red zone, as their 18 points came off six field goals, so Pittsburgh will need to convert when close to the endzone when they head to play the Patriots. On defense, the Steelers have to put pressure on quarterback Tom Brady early and often. In nearly any circumstances, Brady will limit his mistakes, but pressuring him will limit New England’s big plays and force them to look underneath, where Pittsburgh’s linebacking corps is more than capable of containing yards after the catch. If they get to the Super Bowl, they will have already gotten past their toughest opponent in New England. Their defense is better than that of either Atlanta or Green Bay, but their offense will need to be at the top of its game to keep up. However, with Roethlisberger’s playoff experience and elite play from Bell and Brown, Pittsburgh can bring home its seventh Lombardi Trophy.
Green Bay Packers The Green Bay Packers’ (10-6) playoff hopes were not looking good entering week 11, as they were 4-6 and two games behind the red-hot Detroit Lions for the division lead. However, as quarterback Aaron Rodgers declared after a week 10 loss, Green Bay “ran the table” and won their final six games, as well as their wild card game against the New York Giants (38-13) and their divisional round game against the Dallas Cowboys (34-31) The Packers are arguably the hottest team in football, and it’s largely due to Rodgers, who has been on a tear during this winning streak. In Green Bay’s two playoff games, Rodgers has thrown for 718 yards, six touchdowns, and only one interception. Against the Cowboys, Rodgers led the Packers on a six-play, 43-yard drive, which included a 36-yard pass on 3rd and 20 to set up the game-winning 51-yard field goal. The Packers have been and will need to heavily rely on Rodgers to carry the team to victory. He has done it before, and there’s no reason he can’t do it again against a below-average Atlanta defense. However, the Packers will need more than just him to outscore the Falcons. Running back Ty Montgomery will need to establish the run game in order to open up the passing game for Rodgers, while Green Bay’s receivers will have to step up with the injury to star wide receiver Jordy Nelson, who will be incapacitated even if he plays. On defense, the Packers can only slow down the Falcons offense. With quarterback Matt Ryan being the only player in the league matching Rodgers’ level of play recently, Green Bay will do all it can to stop him. By forcing pressure and quick decisions, they may be able to force turnovers and limit big plays. However, they will ultimately win by simply outscoring the Falcons, not by slowing them down. In the Super Bowl, the strategy will be similar for the Packers. Their defense is subpar, but their offense is superior to those of the Steelers or Patriots. Either will present a tougher defensive challenge than the Falcons, but they will still be able to score with ease if Rodgers is on his A-game, and they’ll win it all if they can force turnovers and limit touchdowns.
Rebels Confident Despite Fisher’s Departure
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mentum changed in favor of the Rebels. The depth of the Rebels began to show as many players were beginning to score on offense. Led by junior Michael Gillow, the Rebels played a more physical and faster brand of defense which East Harlem struggled against. On offense, the team rallied behind Gillow as he was scoring at ease and got open looks for his teammates. Senior and co-captain Tobias Lange and senior George Kalantzopoulos each contributed significantly on offense. By the second half, the Rebels had turned the large deficit into a close game. No team was able to establish a commanding lead at the start of the second half. Both teams were playing physical defense, and the Rebels were finally able to tie the game up to end the quarter. Even with all the effort and hustle displayed by the Rebels, East Harlem was able to make huge shots at the end of the fourth quarter which the Rebels had no response to. Despite the loss, it was an impressive effort
by the team as it managed to keep the game tight and competitive, as well as overcome a large deficit without their top scorer. Lange and Kalantzopoulos each finished with 10 points, while Gillow finished with a team-high 13 points, showing the depth and potential of the team. Part of the team’s struggles could be attributed to the departure of longtime coach Philip Fisher, who coached his last game on December 22. “It’s definitely noticeable not having Fisher around, but it’s just something we have to deal with,” Gillow said. “We still need to make the playoffs, and work as hard as possible to get there.” Fisher will be replaced by Coach Michael Atzian. “He’s doing a great job filling in, and he knows what needs to be done. He knows the guys, he knows the plays, and he knows how to get us to play our best,” Gillow said. The Rebels, who are enjoying a potential winning season for the first time in four years, have some statistics to be excited about. The team has three players averaging over nine points as opposed to just one last year. This shows
that they have benefited greatly from sharing and moving the ball more efficiently. “We’ve been passing really well, staying within the offense, and bearing down on defense. Also we knew Coach Fisher would be leaving and he really kept up our intensity. We didn’t let down, which is what we did last season,” said Lange. Additionally, the Rebels have seen some success from the three point line. They have knocked down an average of almost 3.5 three pointers per game through their first seven outings, in contrast with the approximately 2.5 that they knocked down last season. “Keeping up our intensity and crispness will be key in maintaining this momentum,” Lange said. Going forward, after winning Fisher’s final four games, the Rebels hope to complete the team’s first winning season since 2013. Gillow said, “We need to work on staying disciplined throughout the entire game. Teams now know what we like to do, but we have to stay true to the game plan and not get away from it.”
January 20, 2017
The Spectator SpoRts Girls’ Basketball
Chloé Delfau / The Spectator
Phoenix’s Bright Flame Sputters Mid-Season
Junior and co-captain Shannon Lau dribbles around two opponents.
By Ronin Berzins and Jeremy Rubin Following a tough 43-41 loss to Graphics Campus just two days prior, Stuyvesant’s girls’ basketball team, the Phoenix, played another riveting game against Bayard Rustin Educational Complex amid an electrified home crowd. With under a minute to go in the game, the Phoenix trailed 30-27. With the clock ticking, junior Tara Greene sprang into the air to grab an offensive rebound, shooting the ball back up with ferocious intensity to cut Bayard’s lead to 30-29. The crowd went wild, and with 25 seconds to go, Bayard Rustin turned the ball over. However, the Phoenix would miss their next shot, and Bayard Rustin would extend their lead to 32-29, ending what was a fiery and hard-fought game. While the Phoenix trailed for the majority of the afternoon, the Bayard Rustin lead never grew to more than five points. Turnovers and solid defense kept the Stuyvesant team in the running, and they
had the perfect opportunity to capitalize late in the fourth quarter. Bayard Rustin junior Jessica Martino led the way, scoring 21 points. She dominated the paint and drove hard through the defense the whole game, and carried her team to victory. Sophomore Ally Archer piled up 15 points and 15 rebounds for Stuyvesant, hitting numerous outside shots on a night when not much else was working offensively for the team. Junior and co-captain Shannon Lau also chipped in six assists. Coach Vincent Miller believes that the Phoenix have much more offensive ability than what showed on the court that night. “We just played a bad game [on offense]. We scored 29 points. We’re a better team than that. Our shots weren’t falling, we weren’t being aggressive, they won because they were tougher than us,” he said. “Our defense was okay, though, giving up 32 points, we should be able to win that game.” Their 29-point showing that day was the second lowest of the whole
season, and poor shooting, as Miller pointed out, was a major reason for this. The team runs an offense that relies heavily on swinging the ball along the perimeter, so many shots were at or near the three point line. If the team has an off shooting night like this one, it is very tough for them to score. Another factor was the inability to draw fouls or capitalize on free throws. The Phoenix only got to the line for five shots, making just one, while Bayard Rustin went 5-12. However, Lau did take away positives from the game. “[We had] really good movement, [and] we were patient to look for the open man and find a good shot or an opportunity to drive to the basket,” she said. “[The] majority of our points were scored by swinging the ball and finding an open shot.” The team started off the season strong, posting a 5-2 record heading into break, but has struggled since returning, going 2-2. However, there is no reason to believe that this team is incapable of getting back to the hot start that put them at the top of their division in early January. As long as the team can rediscover its shooting stroke and get to the foul line more often, climbing back into the top two of the division seems possible, especially with rematches against divisionleader Millennium (January 30) and second-place School of the Future (February 6) coming up. “I’m going to challenge them to be a lot tougher. Take a charge, box out, dive on a loose ball, that’s really what we’re going for,” Miller said. “We had that going on earlier on the season. That’s something that’ll come back next week and the week after that with more games to play.” As the regular season slowly gets into the final stretch, the Phoenix have time to righten the ship before playoff action. Rediscovering their shooting stroke from the outside and playing with greater intensity should lead the team back to its winning ways.
Cammy Wong / The Spectator
Lemurs Leap Into New Season With Swift Win
Senior Matthew Aleksey performs a front handspring over the vaulting table.
By Celina Liu and Laura Ilioaei The Lemurs, the boys’ gymnastics team, had their first meet of the season against Long Island City (LIC) High School’s Bulldogs on Thursday, January 12 in Stuyvesant’s third floor gymnasium. Before the meet began,
spectators—including some of the team’s graduated members—and gymnasts from both schools raced about the gym setting up equipment for the sport’s six events. In previous years, Long Island City wasn’t one of Stuyvesant’s most formidable opponents. This year, the boys were even more confident in their abili-
ties, as LIC had just lost one of its top-scoring gymnasts because of poor academic performance. The meet kicked off with floor exercises, which senior and co-captain Matthew Aleksey dominated, scoring an impressive 8.3. Next came high bar, which Stuyvesant still managed to win despite the fact that it is not the team’s strongest event. Later, Aleksey also took over the parallel bars for Stuyvesant, earning a 6.0. On the pommel horse, sophomore Muhib Khan shined, bringing in Stuyvesant’s highest score on the event with a 6.0. Senior and co-captain Edwin Liu was able to stay steady in the rings portion of the meet, scoring a high 6.9 for the team. Finally, senior and co-captain Martuni Nazaryan finished the meet with a strong vault score of 8.3. The Lemurs ultimately took the win against the Bulldogs at the meet with a total score of 106.4. Notably, three members of the team contributed on all six events: Aleksey contributed an all-around score of 38.6, the second-highest in the league so far this season, and Khan and junior Boqin Zhang each added an all-around score of 29.7. Regardless of the Lemur’s success, they still feel as if they have plenty of progress to make. “This meet has really boosted our confidence on where we are at now and how we can improve even more this season,” Liu said. Liu is looking continued on page 24
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WRAPUP Stuyvesant’s girls’ table tennis team, the Peglegs, won its match against Young Women’s Leadership School 4-1, putting them at 10-0 for the season. With the victory, they have now won 23 consecutive matches dating back to the beginning of last year, including playoffs. The Spartans, Stuyvesant’s co-ed wrestling team, lost its third straight match on January 11 to Tottenville by a score of 84-0. However, the team turned around its luck the following day in a non-league match against Hunter College HS, winning 48-17. After starting the season with two wins, the Spartans are now 2-3 and are in fifth in the division at press time. At the Girls’ Gymnastics Manhattan/Bronx Divisional Meet on January 7, Stuyvesant’s team, the Felines, finished second with a score of 109.10, falling just short of Bronx Science’s 111.55. The Felines are undefeated against every other team. Stuyvesant’s boys’ table tennis team, the Titans, won its match against Institute for Collaborative Education on January 11 by a score of 5-0. The Titans have not lost a set this year, and are 13-0 and at the top of their division. They will look to make this their third consecutive undefeated today, January 20, when they conclude their regular season against Jacqueline K. Onassis Inter Careers.
Rebels Confident Despite Fisher’s Departure By Tahsin Ali and Ariel Melendez The Runnin’ Rebels, Stuyvesant’s boys’ basketball team, are sitting with a .500 record at 5-5. After enjoying a five game win streak the Rebels have hit somewhat of a rough patch suffering two tough defeats in a row. The Rebels suffered a loss against East Harlem Pride on January 12 in a back and forth game which ended with a score of 45-37. The team relied heavily on their strong defense as they
struggled at times on offense, mainly due to the injury of their leading scorer, senior and cocaptain Michael Feinberg. In the first quarter, the effects of Feinberg’s injury were evident. The team struggled to get open looks and score against a fast East Harlem defense. Initially, rebounding was also an issue, as East Harlem was able to grab boards and run a fast paced offense and get open shots. However after a timeout, the mocontinued on page 27