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The Duck in Motion. ILLUSTRATED BY

THE CLAW MAGAZINE “DUCK,” owned by LELAND STANFORD, paddling at 1.01 gait over LAKE LAGUNITA on JANUARY 7th, 2010

the claw Editors-in-Chief Max Allan McClure ’11 Alice Haelyun Nam ’11

Senior Art Editors Mari Christine Amend ’13 Emily Suzanne Mitchell ’13

Associate Editors James Patrick Leonard Kozey ’11 Alex Michael Mayyasi ’11 Kaitlin Jolie Olson ’13

Senior Design Editors Justin Eli Calles ’13 Sophie Catherine Carter-Kahn ’13

Social Editor Irys Placida Kornbluth ’11

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“Catpolean,” Justin Blair ’11

4 Editorial Statement 5

front matter The Odyssey Reviewed Emily Luise Hulme Sharon van Etten's 'Epic' David Ayrton Lopez

Overheard 7 Overheard Poetry Talk of the Quad 8 Proceed with Confidence Kate Christine Johnson 10 Coffee Shop Summer Kaitlin Jolie Olson Fiction & POETRY 34 All of 100: Selections Lara Ortiz-Luis, Wyatt Roy, and Chris Rurik 37 Make Any Bargain Lucia Carrera Constantine 37 A Life’s Work Jack Dawkins Essays 38 On a DC Afternoon... Zachary Russell Warma 42 About The Claw

features 12

A Day with the Westboro Baptist Church Jordan Alan Carr


All The Donuts Have Names That Sound Like Prostitutes James Patrick Leonard Kozey


I Wanna Bee the Very Best Theodore “Teddy” John Steinkellner

primary sources 26 32

I Go Chain Myself to Yellow Machinery: An Interview with Mike Roselle Max Allan McClure

InfogRAPhics Adam Mathias Cole


Proposed logos for The Claw:

Visit to vote. —Alice Nam and Max McClure 4 the claw

The Odyssey reviewed

Emily Luise Hulme ’11

Riding on the coattails of last year’s surprise bestseller The Iliad, “Homer” has released an all-new epic poem, The Odyssey. It’s an epilogue of sorts, albeit favorite characters like Agamemnon and Achilles are conspicuously missing from the main plot.  Some unresolved tension is diffused—chiefly because all the bickering characters from the other book are dead—but the jury’s still out on the more salacious questions. (If you were hoping Homer would finally wrap up the question of how lightin-the-sandals Achilles really is, you might want to pick up some other 12,100-verse-long work of dactylic hexameter. I mean, according to Plato, A. and Patroclus’s love was, ahem, Platonic, but Plato also thinks the world is made of triangles.)

The eponymous main character, Odysseus, apparently has been lost at sea for plus-or-minus ten years when the book starts. We hear about his various adventures during this time— cyclops, gods, sirens, oh my! As you might remember from last time, Homer apparently suffers from either some sort of anterograde amnesia or an acute case of postmodernism, because he repeats himself all the time. While personally I thought the novelty of this move wore off circa Waiting for Godot, it’s here on just about every third page.  He’s also obsessed with this rosy-fingered-dawn thing; I assume it’s a metaphor for (a) sex or (b) the transitory nature of human existence which never, ever, ever ends yet is always dying ad infinitum until that very last, last, last death,

which ends the dying itself. But this isn’t an epic about death. It’s not even about gods or fate or Aegean maritime culture. Essentially, it’s a story about a man.  Not an everyman, but a man, a pretty badass one, who manages to botch his major project—getting home—a good portion of the time.  And, truth be told, I liked that.  I might not be fighting Scylla tomorrow, but a quadruple headed midterms week? Homer speaks truth to pwr. The Odyssey “Homer” ½ drachma (paperback), 1 drachma (hardcover), 3 drachmai (embellished vellum w/ troupe of performing bards)

a different ‘epic’ from sharon van etten David Ayrton Lopez ’13

The entire singer/songwriter genre has become a tough thing to stomach. Most contemporary ballads revolve around only a handful of themes, the most common being girls, rainfall, inconsistencies in street paving, and rhyming the word “dies” with “[pale blue] eyes.” So when a new release comes out that shatters this metaphoric 2–3 pm lull, it’s always worthy of note, or even celebration. Such is the case with Epic, the sophomore release from Canadian crooner Sharon Van Etten. She’s been a contributor to indie bands

Letting Up Despite Great Faults and The Antlers, but as a solo performer she first started making waves with her 2009 release Because I Was in Love, and more recently when her songs were covered live by prominent acts such as Bon Iver. Epic is brief (clocking in at barely over half an hour), but still manages to live up to its haughty name in other ways, the most obvious being Van Etten’s stellar intonation. As a singer, she’s been blessed with a truly angelic voice—and with a range somewhere in between Joni Mitchell and St. Vincent,

she certainly knows how to show off a nice set of pipes. She easily lilts her way through the diverse array of genres on the record, perfectly utilizing her voice like a dual-edged sword that both kindles feelings of intimacy and lacerates emotions. And while scores of wannabes have failed in properly mastering their records, each one of Epic’s seven songs has perfectly balanced instrumentation that serves only to flatter Van Etten’s vocal abilities—not overshadow them. As a songwriter, she’s matured {front matter} 5

significantly, but arguably still hasn’t reached her potential. While it’s clear that some of the acoustic numbers have been intentionally stripped down to a limited palette for aesthetic purposes, other songs appear to be plain and uninspired, almost as if by accident. And while, yes, these slightly wilty tunes evoke warm memories of a simpler

time, they sound awkward when stacked next to striking heavyweights such as the moving “DSharpG” or the dark, brooding “Love More.” On the outside, Epic appears to approach sonic perfection, and only needs to reach a bit more to arrive at the desired realm of meaning. This certainly isn’t the last we’ll see of Sharon

Van Etten, and however sporadically complacent her songwriting may appear, perhaps it is too early to judge her based on this short collection of seven songs. Although Epic is intended as a full release, its brevity suggests that it’s merely a single step in a much longer process—a snapshot of an artist perfecting her craft.

“Admiration,” Daphne Li

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o p




o p e o t



e r


t y

t r y


Smell this. ...this isn’t trashy...trashy is like...being a slut. My favorite was when I helped her pee. You’re a hot mess. Minus the hot part. My fairytales teacher thinks we’re out of the post modern era.

Just laugh, don’t LoL.


it’s in the American Heritage Dictionary.

I accidentally took his shirt off once. Sorry I was drunk and took your shirt off. Sorry I was partying.

I like walking...I’m getting really into it. I enjoy my pole. I shower like 1.3 times a day. I want to meet Russian people. Imagine being impaled by a spear through the asshole... ...fuckin’ Ghengis Khan...

We forgot our machetes!

Oprah was rude, but this girl was worse... h my many marriages...

Rodin is so We can do this. We’re...Stanford. “By entering a found text as a poem, the poet doubles its context. The original meaning remains intact, but now it swings between two poles.” —Annie Dillard “There’s nothing like eavesdropping to show you that the world outside your head is different from the world inside­—hey, is that kid recording me?” —Thornton Wilder {overheard} 7

Pie-Making: Proceed with Confidence Kate Christine Johnson ’10

My mom and I take Thanksgiving very seriously, and there is nothing we take more seriously than the pie. We’re complete pie snobs. The only thing in my pumpkin pie that comes from a can is the evaporated milk, and if I had the time and talent, I’d probably figure out a way to make that from scratch, too. Someday I might. In the meantime, I settle for fresh pumpkin and homemade crust. When I was younger, I was very intimidated by pie crust. My mom has crust down to an art, and watching her has always been like watching a very skilled artist—it looks easy, but you know that if you tried it, you’d make a total mess and not much else. A couple of years ago, though, she insisted that I learn. I had a real apartment for the first time, and it was summer, and it was obviously necessary that I be sufficiently competent to make my own pies. I spent that whole summer

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practicing on cherry pie, which is my mom’s favorite. I’d come home from a bike ride and settle in front of the TV with a couple of pounds of cherries, pitting them one by one with a paring knife until my fingers turned dark purple and my eyes ached, and then I’d roll out the crusts on my little dining room table, bake the finished item until it oozed sweet red liquid, and take it to a potluck along with a gallon of vanilla ice cream. I do know how to make friends. The secret to delicate, flaky pie crust is plastic produce bags. Really. Take one bag, slit it open so that it lies flat, and use masking tape to stretch it tight over the counter. Put the pastry dough in the center of the bag, and then slit another bag open and lay it on top. This is a good time to check that the text on the bags—if there is any—is facing away from the dough, or you’ll

end up with a grocery store logo all over your pie. Then take your rolling pin and go to town on the dough through the top plastic bag. The bags will prevent the dough from sticking to pin or counter, which means that you can make the dough much more delicate, leading to a lighter, flakier finished crust. We use a cup of flour, a third cup very cold Crisco, and very little water. The last step is the hardest. Once the dough has reached the appropriate diameter via rolling-pin action, it has to be transferred to the pie pan. With a heavier dough, this step is less nerveracking but ultimately less rewarding. Here’s where the bottom produce bag really has its moment. Carefully peel the top bag off. Unstick the masking tape and fold it under the bottom bag to keep it out of the way. Position the pie plate between your stomach and the crust. Hold the far corners of the bottom bag and, in a single motion, flip the bag over and toward your chest so that the crust lands in the pie pan. The first time I tried this, it took me literally ten minutes to work up the courage to move the crust. Finally, my mom got exasperated and reprimanded me for my cowardice. “You just have to

do it,” she blurted. “Be decisive.” I got annoyed in turn—mostly with myself— screwed up my eyes, and yanked the bag up with a fantastic jerk. The crust flew over the pie plate and landed half on the table in front of me. My mom burst out laughing, while I stared at it in horror. “Don’t worry, we can move it,” she assured me. Which you can—as long as the crust has some structure, you have a little leeway to shift it around by lifting and moving the corners of the bag, even after the bag is upside down. So this afternoon, when I was getting ready to flip my pumpkin pie crust into the pie pan, I paused for a moment to think about leg wax. I took a deep breath and gave the pie plate a firm look. I reached for the edges of the plastic bag, gripped them hard, and muttered “proceed with confidence” under my breath. Then I screwed up my eyes, went to my happy place, and pulled up and over with a single, fluid motion. The crust landed right in the pan. I’d folded one of the edges under a little, and it was shifted a bit too far to the right, but it was nothing I couldn’t fix with a little poking and patching and decorating with crystallized ginger. Phew, what a rush.


Coffee Shop Summer Kaitlin Jolie Olson ’13

Every time I walked into Priscilla’s this summer, I said “hi” to James, sitting at a table outside with his temperamental Pomeranian, Nicholas; waved to Merrick, the classical guitar virtuoso teaching me to play; scowled at Robert, ordering thirty drinks for his office yet again; and smiled at Alex, who was behind the counter, making the raspberry truffle mocha I ordered every day. Priscilla’s is the independent, neighborhood coffee shop in Toluca Lake, located across the street from Starbucks and down the block from Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. When I returned to Los Angeles for the summer, I frequented Priscilla’s to the point that I earned nicknames—first, blue eyes, then RTM (short for raspberry truffle mocha)—from the employees. I hadn’t intended to spend my summer learning the trade secrets of being a coffee shop regular. Several years ago, along with a family friend who is a couple years younger, I began getting coffee at Priscilla’s every Sunday, occupying a rickety iron table for several hours to discuss Music and Literature, which we both Enjoyed. When I left for college, we resolved to continue the practice, which we did until he went off to a summer acting program. Faced with an empty house, an excess of free time, and a longing for the frantic pace of dorm life, I began heading to the coffee shop on my own. When I was younger, my mom and 10 the claw

I would occasionally stop by Priscilla’s for hot chocolate on unusually cool evenings (which, in Los Angeles, lingers around 55 degrees). Coffee was not something I was exposed to early on. In fact, visiting coffee shops was discouraged. For years, my parents and I made fun of chain coffee shops like Starbucks until I was fifteen and needed coffee to do homework after long nights of rehearsal at the opera. Since it improved my schoolwork, it was allowed. Passing by Priscilla’s during the day, my mom used to remark that the people sitting outside around two o’clock were actors waiting for their big break. In Los Angeles, the concept of waiting to be discovered was not unusual; for most of my life, I believed that all waiters were aspiring actors. Priscilla’s is not a bad spot, situated directly between Warner Brothers, Universal, and a bevy of other smaller production companies. Perhaps because I have no interest in the movie industry—and perhaps because I have no patience—I have always frowned upon the practice of waiting to be discovered. And yet, this summer, I became the girl sitting at the coffee shop at two o’clock on a weekday. I even looked forward to it. In the beginning, I went to Priscilla’s once a week for Sunday coffee. By July, I would visit several times per week, after my morning shift at work. By August, I was there every day. The progression of my summer

could be told from the contents of the tote bag I brought with me. In June, it contained The Adventures of Kavalier and Klay or The Unbearable Lightness of Being, my planner, the red Moleskine cahier that contained my novel, and a sweater. In July, it was just the red cahier and the sweater. In August, it was a rotating selection of Sophomore College required reading. I came to recognize the other regulars. Many used the coffee shop as a makeshift office: taking meetings, interviewing potential employees, editing papers, and talking on their cell phones. There was always someone in the corner with a highlighter and a script (aspiring actor) and someone with a laptop and a pile of redslashed papers (aspiring screenwriter). Several men seemed to run consulting businesses out of the shop—one even had an assistant who sat with him at all times. Casting directors, who often claimed a table in the center, met with actors and models. There were several

retired regulars, who sat at tables outside, sipping iced tea. A few others worked down the street, stopping in quickly for an afternoon pick-me-up. I saw no one outside simply waiting under a green umbrella. “Being discovered” is the quintessential Los Angeles catchphrase. Actors can be discovered in a studio executive’s house, walking down the street, at a party, at a coffee shop. According to Hollywood legend, Marilyn Monroe was first discovered at an airplane factory. Actors are not the only ones working interim jobs until their big breaks; many of the baristas I encountered were musicians. But as I found out this summer, sitting outside a coffee shop at midday does not necessitate a desire to be discovered. Most regulars are everyday, anonymous people, who just like the hustle and bustle of a business. After all, there’s nothing wrong with a coffee shop summer.

“hI Spy L.A.,” Emily Mitchell ’13 11



ENEMY a day with the WESTBORO BAPTIST CHURCH Jordan Alan Carr ’11 12 the claw

STANFORD, California

majority of its 70-odd current members are related in some way to Fred Phelps. In Topeka, Kansas, there is Starting in 1990, the church has an organization that calls itself gone around the country picketing the Westboro Baptist Church. Its “fags” and “fag enablers.” One time members are disliked for a number of they even went to Iraq.  Their website reasons: they’ve picketed services for ( claims they have American soldiers; they’ve protested conducted over 41,000 pickets in the Holocaust Memorial Museum; those 20 years, and I believe it. They they’ve vilified Catholicism; they’re keep to a tight, if inscrutable, schedule, vehemently and indiscriminately anti- and are prepared for things to go gay.  But here’s the primary reason: wrong. The day before they came to they hate you. If you become famous Palo Alto to visit Gunn High School and die, they might be at your funeral and Stanford, they visited Twitter explaining how your death is a good headquarters, a production of Fiddler thing, and how God ethered you as on the Roof, Lowell High School, punishment. the Contemporary Jewish Museum, They have a number of signs the Anti-Defamation League, and the that they hold.  One says, “you will Jewish Community Center to spread eat your babies.” Another says, “god the Bad News.  hates america.” Another says, “fags Word came eight days in advance doom nations.” Another says, “god of their visit that Westboro Baptist hates you.”  Church members would be coming to Some of these signs cite Bible Palo Alto. According to their website, passages. Under large letters reading they were going to Gunn High School “fags can’t marry,” one sign points and then to Stanford. A quick email the reader to Matthew 19:5, which to them got a response shortly, and it reads, “And he said, ‘This explains why was unquestionably the most vicious a man leaves his father and mother response to a polite inquiry I’ve ever and is joined to his wife, and the two received.  “Did you know” it said, “that are united into one.’ ”  Accompanying in your city, Palo Alto, you have young the reference is a picture of two three- people doing the Peter Pan in front of pronged plugs.  I, too, am against robot the trains. [sic] that also is a work marriage, though I don’t think the of god.” analogy quite holds.  When asked if “Doing the Peter Pan” is evidently her arms got tired holding four signs at a reference to Peter Llewelyn Davies, once, another Westboro Baptist Church who the character Peter Pan was named member named Megan Phelps-Roper, after.  Davies threw himself under a who is in her mid-20s, initially said train at the age of 63, and there have that they didn’t because she was serving been a number of suicides on the train God, or something along those lines.  tracks in Palo Alto.  So that explained But in a moment of great investigative why they were coming to Gunn. As to journalism, I got her to admit that her why they were coming to Stanford, the arms did in fact get tired.  Score one for best explanation is probably that they the heathens. were just in the area. A little background

“The Lord is coming”

First of all, the Westboro Baptist Church is basically a family operation. In 1955, a man named Fred Waldron Phelps, Sr. broke off from a Baptist Church in Kansas to start his own group. Very few people stayed. The

Friday, January 29, 2010, starts like any other day, only earlier. It’s 7:30 AM and the crowd at Gunn High School includes a young man dressed as a cow (which he described as an impression of Fred Phelps’s daughter, Shirley), and

a student waving a Finnish flag. Many students have signs reading everything from “Legalize Gay,” to “God Loves Everybody, Even Hatemongers,” to “Love thy Neighbor as Thyself.” When the Westboro Baptist Church arrives, a hush falls over the crowd, as if a Broadway musical were about to begin, and what follows is similarly theatrical. The wbc people, all five of them, walk from their car, which had evidently been parked a block or so away, singing their rendition of “America the Beautiful,” elegantly reworked as “God Hates America.” They take their place a crosswalk away from all the Gunn supporters, periodically singing anti-America and anti-gay songs.  They even have one lyric especially reworked for Gunn: “Land of sodomites / Your kids are killed by trains.”  The wbc stands there, holding four signs each with virulently homophobic, anti-abortion, anti-Obama (that’s “Antichrist Obama” to you), and antitolerance messages, frequently shouting and singing—though they were mostly drowned out by a crowd across the street that was making their own noise and laughing. The thing about a group like this is that seeing it is a rather deflating experience. You get all geared up for this epic showdown, and then there are five people taking up no more than fifteen feet of sidewalk while a couple hundred kids (not Gunn kids— administrators delayed their school day to avoid this) and adults make a show of mocking the ridiculous happenings across the street.  You realize you were hoping for a really potent, legitimately threatening hate group, rather than the impotent ragtag gang that shows up.  “The Lord is coming? That sounds dirty,” says a passerby.  When trying to talk to someone in the wbc camp, one only has five choices. The two older people, a man and a woman, are shouting angrily, and generally seem furious at everything. Next are two older girls. They seem less angry. {features} 13

Arnav Mougdil / The Stanford Daily

The fifth member of the party, the youngest one, is Taylor Drain. Her father, Steve Drain, was a documentary filmmaker who joined the church while making a movie about the Phelps family when Taylor was eight or so. Taylor is about as adorable as anyone holding a “you’re going to hell” sign can be. She has a funny little beanie hat on, and shares the mannerisms of just about every other teenage girl—except her eye rolls and “whatevers” are in response to questions about whether her church condones slavery.  Though the Westboro Baptist Church’s official position is anti-slavery, she seems a little puzzled by this question, so her co-religionist Megan jumps in to answer in the negative. Why not? I ask, the Bible seems to condone it, after all, and Megan answers that the conditions of slavery 14 the claw

are not applicable to modern living. This seems inconsistent, because it suggests that if modern living were inconsistent with homophobia then that too would fall by the wayside, but they burst into song again before I can follow up. With Taylor, there’s reason to have hope.  She’s eighteen. It still seems possible that she’ll reject this world she’s been brought up in. I point out that a lot of members of her church went to Washburn (as she does), and she says, “yeah, it’s close,” and then chortles at me with the derision typical of a girl at that age confronted with an obvious remark.  If I’m embarrassed, it’s more because at the moment I’m finding her slightly more irritating as a teenage girl than as a hatemonger.  After waiting a few minutes, people from Gunn begin crossing the

street to raucous cheering in order to mingle with the wbc. One kid has me take a picture of him and one of the sign-holding girls using his camera phone. The wbc’s signs are so bright and colorful that the most flamboyantly God-hated fag would have trouble disapproving. They really are all about visuals, and rightfully so. The local media have a dozen or more high quality cameras at the school. Once you’ve seen a photo of people shouting angry things while holding signs that read “god hates fags,” there’s not much a news report on the event can add to your understanding of the wbc.  Nobody is left wondering about the quality of their singing during a rendition of “God Hates America” (Sara is actually pretty good, but the rest of them are awful singers).

“God is bisexual!” a kid shouts into the face of Margie, one of the oldest wbc members there. His friends egg him on. Will this be the shouting that finally teaches them the error of their ways, persuades them that belittling dead kids is mean and cruel and really, really terrible? No. Instead, Margie shouts back something not worth printing, and they leave. Some seem to think that this confrontation led to the wbc’s departure, but they are wrong. It was 7:55, and the wbc had another picket to attend, leaving to a serenade of “Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye.”

fundamentalist dental practice? What if it’s just a regular dental practice, and she’s kind and nice, and just cleans kids’ teeth and prepares them for the dentist? The Stanford picket is, on the whole, less interesting than it was at Gunn. Unlike at the high school, where counterprotesters interacted directly with the wbc, the Stanford crowd seems to be composed mostly of Stanford students who have decided the protests are not actually worth getting upset over. There’s a student in a rabbit suit with a sign reading, “Don’t feed the trolls,” and another with a “Gay for Fred Phelps” sign lovingly festooned with hearts. One student, Dental hygiene a former Marine, simply stands right next to the protesters and stares. When At Stanford, security is tighter. they leave, he follows them to their Students are kept relegated to the lawn minivan and waits for them to drive off. of the Hillel House. Inside, students are This takes longer than expected—three singing and milling about. Spirits are tires on their minivan of hate have been high, especially after the bagpipe player slashed. arrives. At events where everyone This has happened before, and will is straining to appear harmonious, probably happen again. Evidently that’s bagpipes are an easy thing to agree on. what we “thugs” do, and the wbc has a Meanwhile, the five wbc contingency plan. But in the meantime, members are standing on the corner of as everyone mills about, Sara starts Mayfield and Campus behind police talking.  Sara is 28, and has striking barricades. These are probably more to blue eyes. We talk about the Bible. “No, protect the masses from the wbc than no,” she says me with a smile, “God the other way around. The wbc has a doesn’t love everyone. The Bible says, reputation for recording everything it ‘Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have does on video, and then suing the pants hated.’” Sara isn’t sure which passage off anyone who goes too far with one said this, so she takes out her iPhone to of its members. Once, Fred Phelps filed look it up. When it confirms her guess a $50 million lawsuit against Sears for of Romans 9:13 as correct, Sara giggles delivering a tv set late. He won, but a little and extends her hand for a high only $126, which was less than his son five. I go for the high five and hope had paid for the tv, which they never nobody saw, though the former Marine ended up getting. is still staring at them (and me) behind Some have speculated that these his sunglasses. lawsuits are how the church funds In any case, the fact that Sara and its frequent cross-country picketing at least a few other WBC members trips, but Taylor rolls her eyes at the have iPhones raises further interesting suggestion. “We work. We have jobs.” questions about their relationship with Well, she doesn’t work; she’s a student. modernity. Sara says they don’t want to But her mom is a dental hygienist. Later be like the “self-righteous” Amish and research would confirm the existence withdraw from society. If any Amish of a Luci R. Drain registered with the people are out there, someone who Kansas Dental Board. carries signs reading “god hates you” Does this affect her work? Does and “thank god for 9/11” called you her boss know? Is it a crazed, Christian self-righteous. Your move.

The ravens Sara puts her relationship with the rest of us in the context of the story of Elijah. To paraphrase: Elijah ended up stranded somewhere without food, and so some unhygienic ravens brought him food ( “Wait, did he eat the ravens?” “No, he did not eat the ravens.”). We heathens are presumably the ravens. More specifically, in this current situation, the good people of Enterprise Rent-A-Car are the ravens. In the meantime, Taylor takes out a few more coins from her coin purse to feed the meter that is currently monitoring their one-tired minivan of hate. One wonders if one of the five to ten cops watching them would swoop in and ticket them immediately if it expired. Sara is asked what she does with her downtime, but she refuses to give much of an answer. She says she’s always working, and it makes sense. She is bubbly (a word that is at once apt and truly difficult to apply to a member of this group) and engaging, and it’s hard to imagine her not in motion in one way or another. Does she play board games? Nope, too boring. Maybe she writes songs. They broke out a special version of “Hey Jude” at the Hillel. It was called “Hey Jew,” and included a South Park reference—something to the effect of “Jews killed our Lord (You Bastards!).” Watch tv? No again. . . She doesn’t see the purpose in having any sort of hobbies, though if my tires were regularly getting slashed for my non-hobby activities, I’d probably try to develop some. At this point, I’m beginning to realize that Sara is talking to me because I’ve assumed the position of someone ignorant of the Bible, and she is more than glad to spread the word fervently, and with a patience that indicates she does want me to come around and see things her way. Unless it turns out I’m damned, in which case, it was a wasted effort.  Anyway, their new rental car comes, and the wbc goes away. {features} 15

Where we fit in Four of Fred Phelps’s thirteen children left the Westboro Baptist Church. That’s four out of 13. Fewer than a third weren’t timid like Taylor, or simple like Megan, or filled with rage like Margie. We can’t know everything about how their church works, but we do know the kids who grow up in it have been trained to believe the most horrible things possible. As Sara conversed, she joked, smiled, laughed, and held court on her narrow range of topics. If she had grown up somewhere else she could have been the captain of a sports team.  She could have been a champion debater.  She could have been anything else, but she’s not. Leaving the church isn’t easy. Upon reaching adulthood, having spent Three theories Theory Two: the wbc is a moneyyour entire life in this church, rejecting making scheme. The Phelps clan is Why does the wbc exist? notoriously litigious. It is possible (but, it would require you to say to say, “No, Theory One: the wbc truly I think, unlikely) that this operation this isn’t me, I don’t believe in this.  I believes this is the path to heavenly runs entirely on provoking foes into don’t want to spend another day like salvation. They have Bible passages say, slashing their tires, and then suing this. I’ll go out into a world where I supporting their claims—though the whoever they can pin some liability have no friends, where all my onceBible is a long book that says lots of on.  Or it could be a more traditional loved ones have turned their back on things.  There are probably passages religious organization, one that relies me and with no support, try to build that portray cheering at funerals as less on its patrons to fund the elites.  The a life.”  It may even require you to go than admirable.  I can’t remember ever wbc does have tax-exempt status as a as far as one of Fred Phelps’s daughters and change your name. hearing about Jesus doing that, at least. church. It’s that, or settling into a life that But still, what if they’re right? Theory Three: it’s just a family What if human history buzzed operation. Out of the five people there, you know with a small cadre of people along until about two thousand years at most one (Steve Drain) actively who are truly devoted to you, so long ago, when Jesus Christ, son of the chose to join the church, and he as you do the same for them. Staying omnipotent creator of the universe, brought his whole family.  This means is choosing a family that loves and came down and imparted the message that fewer than ten individuals joined protects you instead of hoping you can that fags and Jews and Catholics are the church from outside the Phelps find that on the outside. Leaving is evil and damned to eternal Hell? And family. Maybe more than anything, the risking eternal damnation just because what if this fact needs to be brought wbc is a family following its patriarch. you wanted something else in your to their attention, even if they can’t do The situation brings to mind the Austin earthly lifetime. Leaving may mean anything about it, so that, like Moses Powers scene in which Dr. Evil asks living in constant fear of God’s wrath, meeting the Pharaoh, we can harden his son whether he wants to follow the God who hates fags, the God who their hearts? And we need to do this in his father’s footsteps. Scott says no, hates Jews, and the God who will with imitations of songs by the Beatles?  he wants to be a veterinarian. “An evil probably punish your for even thinking And two thousand years later, nobody veterinarian?” asks Dr. Evil.  “No, just this. I’d like to think that I’d be strong understands this message other than a regular veterinarian.” Maybe this is enough, confident enough, and simply about 70 people in Kansas? What a the conversation Fred Phelps had with dumbfounded bunch the Damned his children who left the church. “Dad, smart enough to walk away from the would be. “I can’t believe they were I want to be an accountant.” “A hate hatred of the Westboro Baptist Church right,” I would say to the guy next to mongering, fag-bashing accountant?” if I were raised in it. But the numbers suggest otherwise.  me as a vulture pecked out my organs. “No! A regular accountant!” 16 the claw

“The Beat of the Kundu,” Nicolas Mendoza ’12 {features} 17

“Favorite,” Danielle Rossoni ’13

ALL THE DONUTS HAVE NAMES THAT SOUND LIKE PROSTITUTES The Writer Spends the Night at Happy Donuts in Redwood City. Hilarity Does Not Ensue. James Patrick Leonard Kozey ’11

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REDWOOD CITY, California “Reno’s bad, man, like Frisco— full of homeless and government agents.” I look up from my notebook and notice a man dressed in an odd combination of sweats sitting two tables to my left. The lines on his face suggest 55, but he could be as young as 30. He continues: “It’s like the Mafia, man, but with casinos.” No rimshot. “I mean in Frisco you’ve got skyscrapers built off of cocaine, but Reno? There you’ve got the hookers who are also, a lot of times, working for the FBI.” I figure I’ll never learn this guy’s name, so I decide to mentally dub him something creative. I give up and settle on “Bob.” It’s midnight, or close enough, at the 24-hour Happy Donuts in Redwood City. I’m seated as close to the middle of the store as I could get when I arrived two hours earlier: a few yards from the counter and right by the passageway leading off to the bathroom. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Bob clutching a white Styrofoam cup of coffee that he has yet to drink. He stares at the black liquid, his entrance fee to the light and warmth of the store, no doubt watching its oil-slick-top-layer shimmering in the fluorescent light. (I’ve got my own cup.) Bob is sitting across from a Foothill kid studying from some book of mathematical arcana. He looks to be about my age, early twenties, but he’s dressed like he’s still a little lost without his mother’s help, picking out pairs of Old Navy chinos and matching rugby shirts. The only interaction he’s had with Bob was when he nodded to indicate that the seat in front of him wasn’t taken. I’m relieved that there is someone else in the store who exhibits no obvious signs of derangement—when he told some guys in here earlier how to get to McDonald’s he seemed pretty normal. That and he had a container of Trader Joe’s Trail Mix.

Just what I’m doing here is a fair question. Stanford is a lovely place, but anyone who’s been here for more than five minutes will tell you the false notes it gives off. By the time your junior year rolls around, as mine had, you need to engage in the occasional “Bubble” bursting endeavor. Short version: I needed a change of scenery. I needed to spend twelve hours in a sketchy location off campus and write about it. And I picked a Tuesday—the better to see the inevitable oddity and desperation on display. Because no one should be out at a twenty-four-hour donut shop on a Tuesday night. No one. Unless they have nowhere else to go. It’s now a little past midnight and Bob is telling the story of his first time using cocaine. According to our narrator, he was once a drummer in a rock band, living wild but drug free. This all changed one night, when our friend was offered some blow at a party by a “big shot with CBS, probably FBI” (as though all three letter-acronym-having organizations were interchangeable.) It seems that this government operative only gave out pharmaceutical grade— the better to get you hooked with, my dear. “Merc,” Bob says it’s called, and in the two plus decades since he hasn’t seen the like. He was 25, and since then he’s “snorted half a million dollars in 22 years of addiction.” His figures are exact, and I think that either they’re true, or they’re very well rehearsed. They’ve moved on from coke to other drugs—Meth, in this instance. At this rate, my drug IQ will increase twofold by the night’s end. Apparently there are two types of Meth: clear and white. The clear variety just leaves you “mellow.” But the white kind? “Shit kicks your ass, makes you real horny. That’s why the gays like it.” Unfortunately, the same does not hold true for women. After smoking some crystal with a lady friend, Bob reports that she became “frigid,” and “just wanted to write poetry or listen to

music.” But our friend “ain’t no rapist.” I’ll leave it to you, dear reader, to decide whether it was the meth or his winning personality that kept her legs closed. Bob explains that he switched from coke to meth because the cocaine made him paranoid, bipolar even. With meth, the paranoia was still there, but it was manageable. “Take a benzo and you knock it right out.” As Bob begins to recite a whole gallery of pharmaceuticals of which I’d never heard, the kid from Foothill interjects, “Oh, Clozapine? Yeah, I take that.” For panic attacks, apparently—but who doesn’t love a good antipsychotic? He begins to try to get some words in edgewise, for the first time. He’s also served time, apparently. More accurately, he was in jail for a week when he failed to show up to his D.U.I. hearing. So Foothill isn’t so together. And maybe the cokehead isn’t so full of shit. In between stories about vagrancy, skipping out on parole, and how most attractive women were prostitutes (possibly working for the CIA and FBI), Bob’s narration made a great deal of sense. “I’m not glorifying drug use,” he said after detailing his forays with meth. “You’re broke halfway through the month, panhandling for cash. You’re going to steal, be a dishonest person, hell—“ he broke off, searching for a fitting example, “- Once I got off parole and blew forty-one-hundred dollars in nine days.” Pretty soon the conversation turns elsewhere. Who’s on parole—how some stand-up guy who let people hide out at his place behind the Wendy’s drank himself to death—the usual. An ambulance comes to the parking lot. No one pays much attention. It’s about 1 o’clock now, and the ambulance is gone. So is the most interesting set of transients. Earlier in the evening a woman had been asking the wealthier customers for any change they might have after they bought their food. She scraped enough together to buy a jelly donut and a coffee, and now {features} 19

she’s sitting slumped over a newspaper, next to three Mexican ladies with bad dye jobs. I strain to listen to them, in case I’m missing something interesting. At some point a man with an odd collection of items spread across his table—a Mickey Mouse glove, watches, etc.—comes up to me and offers to sell me a leather bag. To be fair, I’ve been using a grocery bag as a replacement for the backpack I lost earlier in the week, but I decline as politely as possible. At this point I’m bored. It’s only been three hours, but God. I resort to the internet. I watch a video of a girl with a “pickle phobia” that is, undoubtedly, more horrifying than anything I’m going to see here tonight. It’s 1:21 and a guy walks over to the woman who’s been asking for change. She’s wearing a black hoodie,

and she was probably very pretty ten years ago. Like most people here, she’s showing wear now. The man looks to be in his forties, but who knows. He is, at the very least, well put together, with a polo jacket, jeans void of holes or tears. It isn’t apparent just how creepy he is until he opens his mouth. At first, he’s trying to bum a cigarette, I think, which apparently requires making one of the most awkward come/cum double entendres to ever leave someone’s mouth (rimshot?). Her responses are biting, harsh, and dismissive, like this guy is a bad decision she’s made before. He starts talking about whether or not she’s got a pipe, but I can’t tell if he’s mocking her for smoking weed or crack. Now he’s asking her about her jelly donut, which offers up more opportunities for gross “humor.” She is

livid. “Shut up! White boy…” she grates at him, and the insult seems to offend, “Whoa, now, I don’t see the need to go involving race in this. I like ‘em all colors, black, brown, yellow, green, purple,” he goes on, as though this were really the time and place to showcase his tolerance. The woman storms out and relocates to the parking lot. The whole time I’m sitting in the place I’m uncomfortable. At first, I am preoccupied by how many donuts to order, but I figure if the guy behind the counter after 1 o’clock is wearing a SARS mask anyway (are donutbaking-processes more dangerous than I thought?) I’m probably set. I am, however, worried for my friend’s car that I’ve driven over. I had to park on the street, and now unless I check on the thing every twenty minutes I’m sure someone is already breaking

“Intertwined,” Adrit Lath 20 the claw

in. I overhear that earlier in the night, customers found a man wandering around the parking lot. At first they thought he’d been mugged before deciding it must have been an OD. So that explained the ambulance earlier. Eventually I ask Foothill to watch my stuff while I re-park the car so I can see it through the window. Right before I leave to go to the parking lot, Mr. Creep-Polo-jacket rummages through the garbage and pulls out a Diet Dr. Pepper can. Last I’d seen it, another kid from Foothill, studying physics at the row of tables across from me, had been drinking out of it. Creep-Polo-jacket shifts his eyes with a distinct amount of glee, and bolts to the bathroom. Five minutes later, he emerges, can in hand, but now it’s been crushed on the middle, a hole punched strategically at the bottom, and he pushes through the door to join the woman with whom he’d been arguing before. I decide to wait for a bit before I re-park the car. When I do push the door open I anticipate the crisp quality that the air ought to have on a spring night like this one. I don’t find it. The odd couple are sitting against the brick wall of the place, a little bit over from the dumpster. The woman is giggling, and the air reeks of the sweet-acrid smoke of marijuana. I try to see if I can catch a hint of Dr. Pepper, and if it’s there, I certainly can’t tell whether or not it’s diet. I move my car and come back in, again passing through the smoke. I buy another cup of coffee and some milk to settle my stomach. Later I’ll listen to some music with one headphone slightly off my ear to better overhear conversations. The hard-faced woman and the Polo-jacket creep will come back inside, with only a slightly altered repartee. “We just put the Happy in Happy Donuts,” the man will say, grin firmly affixed to face. He won’t seem to mind the fact that the woman couldn’t care less that he’s there. She will rest the side of her face against the newspaper on the table in front of her and bliss the fuck out. The

man will giggle at an oddly high pitch. I will see other things. Just bits and pieces. Two girls with odd pink highlights and blue “Automatic Gate & Access” sweatshirts—the crew of a tow-truck—some kids talking in Spanish by the register, seemingly trying to look shady—a couple of white kids—some more and less seemingly off folks who talk to one another, and occasionally buy a donut, a cup of coffee, or a banana. I will sit behind my laptop screen and try to hold out for as long as possible. But I won’t make it too long, and at 4:04am I will leave. I was just glad to be gone from that place. Glad to not have to see the sun rise while I was there. I only managed six hours. Well, that and two maple-iced caked donuts with sprinkles, three coffees and a carton of milk. Mostly I listened, right after I’d managed to connect my laptop to the wifi network aptly named “Mmmmdonuts.” Later on, I could have told my friends stories from the night as though they were funny —as though I’d enjoyed it. But they weren’t, and I didn’t. The most reasonable man there was a “recovered” drug addict. He’d walked 17 miles from one town to another dodging warrants in Arizona with a bone-spur in his foot. He’d been more upset about watching a cat get hit by a truck than I’d seen anyone be in a while. He refused to pay for sex. He had values, and a life. In the midst of all the stories he told about the blow he’d snorted, and the money he’d blown, he talked about high school. He talked about playing for a basketball team that managed to go undefeated and win a county championship. There was even a guy in the place who’d played with him, though he had already gone by the time the conversation turned in that direction. Cindy, the girl who was the mascot, had apparently been quite the nympho. At least he’d had his glory days.

{features} 21


Theodore “Teddy” John Steinkellner ’11

Teddy Steinkellner ’11

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WASHINGTON, DC The Scripps National Spelling Bee is aggressively uncool. Like a chubby sitcom dad or an ad for a new extreme sports juice, the annual competition makes every effort to stay with the times, to connect with the kids, to keep it “real.” Above all, the Bee wants to prove that it’s more than a bunch of bespectacled, asthmatic home schoolers pulling engysseismologies and brachydactylouses out of their asses. It, of course, isn’t. Which is, of course, why it’s the coolest. The Bee has taken place every year since 1925, back when you could win on a joke of a word like “knack” or “therapy.” Since then, the competition has done its best impression of an unpopular person at a high school reunion, growing considerably nerdier and big time-ier. The 2010 competition featured a whopping 274 eight-tofifteen year old spellers from every state in the union, as well from a few bonus states (like Canada, whose representative Laura Olivia Newcombe stated in brash Muhammad Ali-esque fashion, “Our country has a lot of great spellers—and it’s time the world noticed.”). The drama begins before the Bee itself, when every speller plus family checks into the Washington DC Grand Hyatt, which for one week becomes the least sex-filled but most interesting hotel in the country. During the course of the week, the spellers are actively encouraged to befriend each other through such means as message bulletin boards and autograph books. Again, the Spelling Bee wants to be cool, and friends are the objective measure of cool. But, as any true speller knows, friendship is for pussies. In the days and hours before the competition, the kids remain holed up in their hotel room bunkers, preparing for cerebral battle. Occasionally they’ll wander to the ice machine, to the vending machine, to the urinal—but not to get ice, to buy Cheetos, or to pee. Nay, they are going

for the pre-Bee psych out. A grim look on their acne-splattered faces, and with dictionary-wielding parents lurking behind them, the spellers know that the first step to winning is seeming like a champion. And the first step to seeming like a champ is avoiding eye contact. Winners don’t schmooze. Winners fly solo. The official competition starts with the written test, in which participants are asked to spell words that range from the pathetically simple (“refuse,” “obstacle”) to the stupidly hard (“misoneism,” “bouleversement”). After this, the spellers must conquer their fear of people by stepping on to the Independence Ballroom stage and spelling their two words in front of everyone: the judges, the press corps, their families and, most crucially, each other. This is effectively another round of the psych-out process. Some spellers handle this stage with ease, banging their words out with zero clues and adding touches of personal flair to boot—a little bow, a “What’s up, Doc?”, or even, bizarrely, the Soulja Boy dance. Yet, for other kids, these fleeting moments become cruel lifelong memories. One flustered kid actually asks, “Hippopotamus. Can I have the definition please?” evoking peals of pubescent laughter. A fourteen-year old girl from Virginia starts to spell the relatively easy “hypocrisy” eight different times, only to stop and go back to the beginning each painstaking time. While she does finally get the word right, the damage is done. She clearly doesn’t have what it takes. Few do. By the start of the semifinals, more adolescents have been wiped out than at Carrie’s prom. As a result of a convoluted scoring system, 274 spellers suddenly become 48. And this is when shit starts getting really real. Because this is when ESPN enters the picture. ESPN: The Worldwide Leader in Sports. ESPN means millions of viewers making fun of every fidget. ESPN means Erin Andrews, real

life’s answer to Malibu Barbie, giving comfort interviews to shoulderslumped losers. ESPN means Shaq, of all people, crashing the party to freak children out with his gargantuan stature and surprising spelling ability. If there is a villain in this piece, it’s ESPN, and what ESPN has done to the Scripps National Spelling Bee. ESPN turns this academic competition into a nerd circus. ESPN takes these shy, skittish spellers, pits them against each other to an absurd degree, and turns them into child stars against their wills. Now, there’s no doubt that the kids’ parents want this, that the competition benefits from it, and that the national TV audience enjoys the hell out of it, so maybe ESPN uses its powers for good. Maybe. Of course, none of that mentions the most terrifying weapon in ESPN’s arsenal, the single greatest horror that can be sprung on Spelling Bee semi-finalists scared shitless—the commercial break. For the best spellers, the toughest parts of the competition are not the words themselves. After all, even the most dedicated dictionary addict with the most psychotic parents can realize that, at the end of the day, the Bee is just a giant game of luck. This becomes clear when Tim Ruiter, last year’s runner-up and a sentimental favorite, gets unfairly bounced on the impossible “fustanella.” Or several rounds later, when Elizabeth Platz has the frustratingly great fortune of receiving “gnocchi”—the very pasta that had been served to the spellers at a banquet the night before. Nay, the real Bee drama happens between the words. During the breaks, the cameras go on standby, the competition is put on pause, and the hundreds of people sitting in that ballroom lose their sense of purpose. In the audience, parents wearing t-shirts that bear the names of the child that represents their hopes and dreams nervously whisper to each other, only occasionally acknowledging the impatient younger sibling that will be forced to carry the Spelling Bee mantle {features} 23

LiHe Han ’13

if the current family champion fails. Already-eliminated spellers meeting each other offstage with weary broken hearts generally opt for the timehonored pickup line, “What word did you get out on?” No one is remotely at ease. This is exactly what ESPN wants: not spelling, but stakes. Like its cable brethren TNT, it knows drama. It knows how to freak children out, how to make them hyperventilate, how to make them faint. All it takes is a camera with a little red blinking light and a ninetysecond commercial break. During these breaks, the spellers on stage sit in silence. Sure, a small gaggle of still-competing girls will assemble for a few seconds to talk, but they’re not to be trifled with. The real spellers zone it all out. They think about the words that have been, about the words to come. They’re not there to make friends. They’re there to win. Winning is cool. At a junior high dance, blocking everyone out is social suicide. At Scripps, it’s everything. The 2010 Bee sees its ranks thinned in record time. Once the primetime broadcast begins on ABC, it 24 the claw

seems like it’s too much for the kids to handle. Ten little spellers become nine, become eight. Down each child goes, before the audience even has enough time to get emotionally invested. At one point seven consecutive words are missed. A heartless ABC crew person asks another, “We don’t move these families as the spellers get out, right?” In the end, this June Madness comes down to a Final Four. As yet another interminable commercial break drags on, and as the host from The Bachelor gets his blush retouched, and as various family members—all sitting on stage much to the delight of ABC/ESPN/Disney/Big Brother— are whisked away to pee, the four survivors of seven soul-crushing rounds sit on the stage, shaking in their sweatpants. Then the bright lights flash back on, and the schadenfreude continues. Lucky Gnocchi Girl Liz Platz smacks up against “rhytidome” (the outer bark on a tree). Adrian “Gonna Win” Gunawan has a terrible time with “terribilita” (emotional intensity in a work of art). Shantanu Srivatsa disappoints the nine other residents of

his native North Dakota when he gets pinched by “ochidore” (a shore crab). Suddenly it all comes down to Cleveland’s Anamika Veeramani, a top-5 finisher last year, who nails “juvia” (a Brazilian tree. The Spelling Bee loves trees) to emerge from the 8th round unscathed and then crushes the championship word, “stromuhr” (a German medical tool). The ballroom bursts into applause. Erin Andrews runs on to the stage to get an interview/ look hot for the cameras. Anamika just stands there. She seems proud to win, if oddly calm. “I just have so much free time to do whatever I want to do,” is Anamika’s constant refrain throughout her postchampionship press conference. She repeats some version of the sentence several times, conjuring up an image of a girl who has been locked up in a closet by her parents for the past year, forced to spell for food, spell for water, spell for freedom. And now she’s won that freedom. “[My parents] promised me a cell phone if I win,” Anamika adds. “Basically any cell phone. So I plan to make use of that…”

Considering she also just won 30 grand in cash, a shiny new trophy, some fat scholarships, and a complete Merriam-Webster reference library (okay, maybe that sucks), it’s kind of strange for Anamika’s eyes to light up only at the thought of her new cellular device. But it’s so Spelling Bee. Only by studying the most pointless words and roots for thousands of hours, and then by making it against all odds to the national level, and then by clearing the written test, and then by hoping that everyone else misses their words, and then by lucking into not getting some random word of unknown origin, and then by still having the presence to step up and nail that last impossible championship word in front of millions of mocking viewers can a child of the Spelling Bee subculture earn something that every other child in Western civilization gets before the end of elementary school. And you can bet that once Anamika does receive her cell phone, that her parents will make her text with perfect spelling and grammar, which sort of defeats the whole purpose of the thing anyway. This is why we adore the National Spelling Bee. Not because it leads into Sportscenter on ESPN, or because this year’s example sentences made “hip” references to the Jonas Brothers, DDR, and Lady Gaga, or because Shaq decided to leave his shoe commercials and his mistresses to spend a couple hours in the Independence Ballroom. No, we love the Bee because we love these little freaks. And we mean that in the best sense of the word. These kids are brilliant, dedicated, emotionally vulnerable, maybe-future-world-leaders, maybeweirdos-forever, badass little freaks. They’ll probably never win the Spelling Bee, and they’ll certainly never come close to fitting in, but, by gum, they just keep trying their freakish best. They are dictionary definitions of the word “lame.” And they deserve much respect.

“Nature Is,” Justin Blair ’11

{features} 25


Mari Amend ’13


Max Allan McClure ’11

26 the claw

A year-old TIME Magazine article opened with the line, “There is no such thing as too extreme for Mike Roselle.” It’s a catchy statement, but a misleading one—Roselle may have a radical history, but he pursues this radicalism with a deep and strictly applied sense of principle that’s made him a legend in the environmentalist movement. The number and quality of protests that Roselle has planned is staggering— he’s run onto the Nevada Test Site, hung banners on the Golden Gate Bridge, placed a giant gas mask on Mt. Rushmore’s George Washington face, been arrested dozens of times, and been called an ecoterrorist by representatives of nearly every industry he’s protested. He’s also been involved in the founding of a number of prominent radical environmentalist organizations, the most notable being the grandfather of

them all—Earth First! While it doesn’t make sense to call Earth First! an organization—it’s never been more than a loose affiliation of vaguely like-minded individuals—Earth First!ers were united by a basic slogan: “No compromise in defense of Mother Earth.” This meant anything from litigation to direct action to monkeywrenching, or industrial sabotage. People tied themselves to equipment, occupied administrative buildings, dug up roads, “decommissioned” logging or mining equipment by pouring sand into gas tanks and cutting wires, etc. And though many debate the actual political impact of EF’s activities, it was arguably their hard-line position that redefined mainstream environmentalism as moderate in the ’80s. Roselle and the rest of EF’s founders left at various times during

the ’80s, disillusioned with what they perceived as EF’s lack of focus, and founded other, smaller, wilderness preservation organizations. Roselle has since been involved in forming the Ruckus Foundation—dedicated to training activists in nonviolent direct action techniques—the Rainforest Action Network, and Climate Ground Zero, and is currently engaged in a campaign against mountaintop removal mining in West Virginia—a highly destructive practice in which entire summits or summit ridges are removed to expose coal seams, with disastrous consequences for biodiversity and water and air quality. I reached Roselle by phone in his office in West Virginia, where he had to interrupt the conversation several times to check on some biscuits in the oven.

Max McClure: Is your base in West Virginia, or is this just a visit?

Greenpeace tactics, which are mostly aimed at getting an image and getting a lot of media. We don’t always get that much media, but you know we’re having an impact.

even being paid. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but it kind of dilutes the willing sacrifice part of it. We have a tradition of nonviolent action in this country to achieve social change, and most of the victories that we’ve won have been when we were using nonviolent civil disobedience, whether we were ending segregation, giving women the right to vote, ending the logging of old-growth trees, etc., etc. So this is really a little of the old-time religion.

Mike Roselle: We set up here about a year and a half ago, almost two years ago. The first part was just kind of just digging in and getting the infrastructure together, meeting the locals, learning the issue and participating in the process. Feb. 3 of 2008, they started making preparations to blast on Coal River Mountain after this fourth circuit ruling overturned a lower court that banned mountaintop removal in West Virginia. It’s the last big mountain on the Coal River that hasn’t been blasted, so we went up there and did an action to protect it, chained ourselves to the equipment. We’ve had about 150 people arrested since then in, I don’t know, over a dozen actions. That’s what we’ve been doing here: this is a nonviolent direct action campaign, a sustained campaign of civil disobedience. We’ve used a whole slew of basically what have been Earth First! tactics, as opposed to

MMc: So what is the difference between an Earth First! tactic and a Greenpeace tactic? MR: I think over the years, in groups like Greenpeace, and to a lesser extent even the Rainforest Action Network, nonviolence has been seen primarily as a media stunt. It does involve breaking the law, but usually that’s occupying a structure to hang a banner, or maybe a symbolic blockade that lasts one day. This is more like Martin Luther King and Gandhi. You know, a sustained campaign: you hit the same target over and over and keep raising the ante. On most of the Greenpeace actions, the climbers were out of jail by five o’clock, having pizza, and the organization paid their fines and expenses—a lot of them were

MMc: Which actions have gotten people arrested so far? MR: Going up on the mine site and physically shutting down the mining. The state police have imposed a rule on the mining companies that they cannot touch us when we do this. They have to wait for them to respond. That can take between forty-five minutes and a couple hours, so in the meantime we’ve got them shut down. No one ever expected anything like this in West Virginia, and {primary sources} 27

we’ve been getting a lot of support from the local people for doing this. MMc: How has that support been expressed? MR: I’d say we’re about fifty-fifty. About half the people wish we’d go away, and the other half are glad we’re here. The longer we stay, the more support we build. They could never do it themselves, they would be sued and their houses taken, and certainly a lot of them would lose their jobs.This is mostly an outsider campaign—we work with a lot of anarchists, and peace activists, and people who traditionally haven’t been involved in any mining issues. But they see this as a human rights issue, as a very important environmental issue, and certainly a climate issue. We can’t believe that we’ve lasted this long in a protracted battle with the meanest coal company in the world. Or at least one of them. MMc: With the old-growth redwood fight,1 some of the loggers tended to get violent— MR: Well, the coal miners are a little more prone to violence, I think. West Virginians in particular have a history of being real feisty, especially when protecting what they see as their property or their home. We had some unfortunate incidents in the oldgrowth logging campaign, but here, so far, we haven’t had any violence on our direct actions. Those things have been relatively rare, although there are a lot of death threats and a lot of animosity as you can imagine. This is a monoeconomy, so emotions are high, but we don’t let that slow us down, because we’re expecting them to unleash those tensions. I think the coal companies realize that violence doesn’t help them, and it gives them a lot of bad press. 1 Roselle was a key player in Earth First!’s 1990 Redwood Summer campaign, which fought logging in Northern California’s Emerald Triangle and popularized the notion of old-growth forests.

“Pagan Angel,” Justin Blair ’11 28 the claw

They’ve backed off a little bit—things have calmed down since they were threatening to burn my house down. MMc: They were threatening to burn your house down? MR: Yeah, they were. And the police said they didn’t have anybody on the Coal River and couldn’t do anything about it. MMc: And this was a few miners or— this wasn’t an organization? MR: Well, there isn’t any absolute proof, but it really looks like most of the inciting is coming from the top. And Blankenship2 himself has been on site on most of our actions, flying over in a helicopter. He’s a well-known micromanager, so I think he has been stirring things up. He’s been personally attacking me as an ecoterrorist. I’ve debated him on radio. I think he thought they could scare us out, and then that didn’t work, and they got a lot of bad press, so now they’re encouraging the miners to be calm and respectful, and they are being that now. We’ve been through quite a bit in the last year and a half. I think the mine disaster3 really calmed things down, because we put our campaign on hiatus and did everything we could to support the families, including bringing food to the miners when they were waiting on news of their loved ones trapped in the mine, lighting candles and attending the vigils. People have really drawn together here on the Coal River since the disaster. I think we’re seen a little bit more as part of the community, if an unpredictable, odd part of the community. MMc: Have you seen any shift in terms of people actually supporting your criticisms of the corporation? 2 Don Blankenship, the chairman and CEO of Massey Energy Co. 3 2010’s Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster, in which a Massey Energy coal mine explosion killed 29 miners.

MR: The thing is, if you took a poll that was really a secret poll, most of the people here are against mountaintop removal, even though they’re not against coal mining. But the way the coal companies presented it is if you’re against mountaintop removal, you’re also against coal, and you’re against West Virginia, and that’s been a pretty successful tactic for them. We’ve seen them use a whole diversity of tactics to try and marginalize us. At times they try to ignore us and other times they try to attack us, and sometimes they even praise us a little bit for being nonviolent but, you know, wrongheaded. But being here and doing this for a year and a half, we’re part of the political fabric of West Virginia now, and now we’re not going away any time soon—we’re dug in. MMc: Have you been putting forward any policy proposals in addition to protesting? MR: We’ve got plenty of those—we’re working with a broad coalition of groups that includes the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, and even nrdc. We don’t personally take care of the litigation or the legislative aspects, but other groups do. Our job’s really to take up the pressure here in West Virginia. We have a very narrowly focused campaign on mountaintop removal and on nonviolent direct action. Although a lot of our activists are involved in other aspects of the campaign on an organizational level, Climate Ground Zero, the group I started four years ago, just focuses on civil disobedience. MMc: You mentioned you have a wide variety of political affinities in this group. Do you have any trouble keeping these sorts of people on message, given that you have a fairly focused goal right now? MR: No, it’s amazing—at least everyone that we’ve really worked with so far kind of understands it. The groups that do the actions can speak for themselves, and we try and put them in

front of the camera. We don’t actually disavow any knowledge of their actions, but we make it very clear that these were their actions and that we’re here to support them. . We haven’t had any problems with people disagreeing with our tactics, using the bullshit argument that nonviolence is fascism because it’s not radical enough, because this is what we do. People come here and they either get it or they don’t. When people get involved in an action here they sometimes just don’t leave. We’ve got about thirty people full-time right now, and most of them have been arrested at least once. They’re just digging in for the long haul. It’s a very exceptional campaign in that way. MMc: You seem very invested in the philosophy of nonviolence... MR: Yeah, well, I’m a tactician primarily. A lot of people say that I’m a strategist—I wouldn’t claim that. I believe in the tactics of nonviolence— I’m not a devout pacifist, and I certainly don’t disavow other tactics that, if they asked me, I’d advise against it. But that’s just a personal opinion. This campaign employs a traditional nonviolent philosophy. MMc: No monkeywrenching on this campaign? MR: Absolutely not. MMc: I was interested just because your autobiography was titled Treespiker—is that something that you’ve completely disavowed as far as modern-day campaigns? MR: I’m called an ecoterrorist all the time, and I have been involved in certain activities when I was much younger. You know, I was talking to my publisher about the title, and that was their idea, and I thought, why not, we’ll put it on the cover and then they’ll read it and we’ll explain what that means. But I had been involved in monkeywrenching {primary sources} 29

when I was in my twenties. But after experimenting with nonviolence I became convinced that it was a lot more effective, and there are aspects of monkeywrenching or other types of violence that made it very difficult to organize in a community—very difficult to sustain in a long-term campaign, and in a security culture that’s just not conducive to recruiting.

to figure shit out. So they got kind of a little bit intimidated, and they got distracted by community organizing— which they do well, I have to give them credit—but it doesn’t really confront the mine operators.

MMc: So you feel that the tactics of Redwood Summer are not to be imitated.

MR: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. It’s just that the dynamics are different and the capabilities are different. If you spend all your time in meetings and keep changing directions every time you have a meeting, then it’s not going to happen. I just haven’t seen that much come out of these more horizontal groups in the last decade because they seem to get caught up in process. But if they can get over that, then there’s a lot that they can do. We don’t allow meetings here.

MR: The tactics of Redwood Summer are the same as what we’re using here. A sustained campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience. And most of the people who participated—you can call them left-of-center, you can call them hippies—that was the bulk of our campaign. There wasn’t anybody else willing to do this. Certainly, you can’t name one logger that got arrested during that campaign. But the tactics were successful—they were nonviolent, we did not attempt monkeywrenching. There were a few roads dug up, but I think that’s kind of on the borderline, I don’t feel that that should be property destruction, and we haven’t had to cross that bridge here. They’ve got bulldozers that can bury those ditches so quick that it doesn’t really matter. What we’re doing now is more like Redwood Summer than what Mountain Justice Summer4 was for two years. MMc: And what did that consist of initially? MR: They had dedicated themselves to stopping the mine, but it’s very logistically difficult to deploy a team up there so they can effectively obstruct the mining, and it’s also very dangerous. So these horizontal organizations don’t tend to be very good at logistics, because they spend all their fucking time in a meeting. We don’t have a lot of meetings here—we spend most of our time out in the woods, trying

4 One of the original organizations to protest mountaintop removal mining.

30 the claw

MMc: Do you feel that these other groups have a place in the modern environmental movement?

MMc: Would you say, then, horizontally-organized groups like Earth First! have more investment in the process and philosophy of direct action than the actual results? MR: I think a lot of it stems from a lack of experience, and I don’t think they’ve had the opportunities to gain that experience over the last decade. They don’t have the mentoring anymore. The movement’s become very ageist, and it’s difficult for older people to mentor young people anymore because of this ageism. MMc: How has it become ageist? MR: We’ve seen that kind of melt away here, because half of our staff is over fifty, and the other half is under thirty. But a lot of the Earth First! groups I’ve gone to, they’re a very young and inexperienced and homogenous group and they’ve got lots of enthusiasm and good ideas, but they just don’t have the experience and the infrastructure to implement them. You can’t impose mentoring on somebody, that’s

something they’ve got to want. I felt a little bit ineffective in that respect—my feeling was let’s just come out here and show them how to do it. Create a model campaign that other groups could learn from, and I think that’s working. When you see organizations like Rising Tide doing more actions now, I think they’ve been inspired by the activists here who’ve done stuff. I think we’ve been raising the bar a little bit. MMc: I’m interested in this ageism thing, though. Why do you think that came about? MR: Well, we fucked up the climate and they hate us for it. I don’t blame them. I think part of it is they got turned off by the nostalgia and the endless recounting of sixties stories. But in the end, if you look at the nonviolent direct action movement within the environmental movement, you’ll find that the roots go to the peace movement, and particularly the anti-nuclear weapons movement, but also the anti-reactor movement. This is where they cut their teeth on nonviolence, and these techniques, these tactics, and these organizational structures were transferred over to the environmental movement. But a lot of this talk about, oh, the college students are going to get organized, and they’re going to save the world, and there was all this hoping and putting money and attention into it, but then on the other hand we just let them sink or swim, we didn’t really develop them, and they floundered, which I think would be expected under that situation. They certainly aren’t being taught it in their environmental studies classes or any of that kind of stuff—the universities here have really not done a good job of preparing people for sustaining an environmental movement. They just seem to want to prepare them for getting a high-paying environmental job. MMc: Was your founding of the Ruckus Society meant to bridge this gap?

MR: We don’t have a movement. I think we started to build a movement against mountaintop removal. Earth First! is still an organization, but I think it would be hard to call it a movement now. A movement is something that’s growing and dynamic and getting things done. If you just look at the state of environmental pressure campaigns over the past decade, I wouldn’t call that a movement—I’d just say we’re entrenched, and fighting for our lives, and losing ground every day—that’s not a movement.

“BF HP-Ru, random granular mess,” Faraz Hossein-Babaei Ph.D. ’11

MR: What I wanted to do with Ruckus, since Greenpeace was no longer training activists, was to create kind of a little mobile university where we could travel around the country and transfer these skills that worked really, really well. That was until Ruckus itself was taken over by anarchists and the identity politics and gender politics and all that stuff. It caused a purging of all the older people who, many of them, were male. Not all of them—but they just didn’t fit the mold that these people thought they should fit: they weren’t vegan, they weren’t skinny, they weren’t tattooed, etc. etc. It became a little bit more of a clique, and then the quality of the program really suffered and it continues today to suffer. You can look back—every time we did a training, we’d have a campaign, and now they just run around doing trainings and there’s no campaign following, and its [the Ruckus Society’s] profile has sunk really low. When I was doing the first camps for the first four years, we would be in the New York Times Magazine and Outside. But that’s because we understood the confrontational and the audacity part of it, as opposed to just being really academic about organizing, and communities, and all the “isms” and all that stuff. Not that

that’s unimportant, but when you’re in a campaign, you’ve got to focus on your goals. Like, for instance, here—we’d love to have a more racially, ethnically diverse group here, but let’s face it, we don’t. We’ve got to go to work with what we have. MMc: It does seem like some of the old guard of the environmental movement, people who started out in Earth First!, like yourself, seem to have a real strong wilderness or straight conservation focus, and then the newer people often have this identity politics, or anarchist, social ecology message. Is that accurate? MR: That’s true—you can’t have a wilderness experience unless you get out there. It’s not something that they do, to just get their backpacks and hitchhike to Olympic Peninsula and do a fifty mile hike—that was de rigeur for the Earth First!ers, because we not only worked hard and partied hard, but we also spent a good deal of time in the wilderness, including running rivers. And I don’t see that in this new movement, and I think they would definitely benefit from it, mentally and philosophically. MMc: And how do you feel about where the movement is now?

MMc: Do you think that that has anything to do with the Green Scare?5 MR: No. Well, I think the Green Scare was mishandled by the scared groups. And one of my Native Affairs friends called it the White Scare, just a bunch of scared white people. I mean, what the fuck do they expect? If they endorse violence, they’re going to get hit like a hammer. I think all the whining and complaining was a self-fulfilling prophecy—they basically said, if you go to a Sierra Club meeting, your phone’s going to be tapped. There’s no evidence that the federal government has singled out the environmental organizations as a whole, although we know some overzealous agencies do overly monitor these peaceful groups. There have been situations where that’s happened. How come they didn’t go after me? Well, the reason they didn’t go after me was because I didn’t do anything. I did what I’m doing now. I go chain myself to yellow machinery. I break injunctions, I cross lines, I get arrested a lot. I run my mouth. But I don’t blow things up, and I don’t burn things down. And they know that, because they probably do tap my phones, but I could give a fuck if they tap my phones, I don’t have any secrets.

5 A perceived US government crackdown on radical environmental organizations that took the form of several high-profile prosecutions in the early 2000s.

{primary sources} 31

infographics by Adam Mathias Cole ’09

32 the claw

{primary sources} 33

FICTION & POETRY This being the age of the text message, the News in Brief, the sentence fragment, the charticle, and the serotonergic, you could be forgiven for thinking that flash fiction was a recent development. The Internet, with its emphasis on the pithy and bite-sized, is clearly an ideal home for the genre—after all, it’s here that the All of 100 project has taken hold. You may have heard of it: every day, for nearly two years, founders Lara Ortiz-Luis, Wyatt Roy, and Chris Rurik have each posted a one-hundred-word piece to, and invited anyone who’s interested to do the same.


all of all ofall all of all of

The form, of course, does have deeper roots than the web. Microfiction in one style or another has been around at least since the time of the great classical fabulists Aesop and Vishnu Sharma, and the allure of the short short story has attracted everyone from Eduardo Galeano to Ambrose Bierce to Ernest Hemingway—whose six-word narrative, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn,” is probably the most famous example of the genre.

34 the claw

The exactly-100-word story is a later invention, but is still impressively pedigreed. The idea arose, bizarrely, from the 1971 Monty Python collection Monty Python’s Big Red Book, which introduces a mildly impractical parlor game: “Drabble. A word game for 2 to 4 players. The four players sit from left to right and the first person to write a novel wins.” Those who attempted the game in real life apparently found that the game was made more manageable if the word “novel” were carefully redefined. The resultant subgenre of 100-word microfictions, referred to as “drabbles,” became widely popular in the 1980s British sci-fi community, spawning a series of drabble anthologies that included entries by Isaac Asimov and Terry Pratchett. Still, All of 100 sets itself apart from this lineage with one additional, and particularly demanding, requirement—that of producing these pieces every day. This is not easy, and it suggests that these three authors have an unusual purpose to their writing. As their website puts it, “We can’t decide if the project is discipline or art.” There is a strong element of self-discovery in the All of 100 stories—not only because the act of putting pen to paper every day is a devotional one, but because the result of their spontaneity is a collection of essentially unfiltered, if oblique, psychological portraits. Here, as a way of providing a representative sample of the project’s work, we have selected two stories by each author from the group’s new book, All of 100. You can purchase copies either from their website or by emailing You may have guessed it by now, but the introduction you’ve just read is by far the longest passage in this section.

❧ CHRIS RURIK The Diamond Son, we were born when your great-great-grandfather was as little as you and found this diamond. It was in a muddy back alleyway deep inside a city, and he tucked it safely into his cheek. He kept it there the entirety of seventeen harvests and never told anyone. Once, he was sure he had swallowed it in a thunderstorm, but the next morning there it was again. After the saddest day, the undertaker discovered it beneath his limp tongue, and the moment the undertaker set it like a fragile seed into our young widow’s palm, she knew she was pregnant. The People are Restless “I’m packin’ up! Gettin’ ready to go!” a man yelled from atop a trash barrel. Swirls of people glanced at his knees as they marched past, wrapped in faded winter coats. “When my Jesus shows his face, the whole world’s gonna change!” A wide-eyed girl stopped and stared up until he noticed her. He crouched and smiled; he was missing a tooth. “The whole world?” she asked. “As different as night from day,” he said softly. “What’s night?” Then she smiled, waved, and disappeared. When he stood back up, he could see wide-eyed girls everywhere, drifting through the peopled streets. {fiction & poetry} 35

WYATT ROY Kingdom of Squiggles Once there was a kingdom of squiggles. They looked just like hairs from the top of your head, but when they moved, they squiggled. They were a peaceloving people, too squiggly to get much done, but also too squiggly to care about it either. One day a toothpick visited the kingdom. The squiggles didn’t know what to make of him. Try as they might, they could not teach him to squiggle. And try as he might, he couldn’t teach them to actually do anything. They had a great feast in honor of their differences. The next day, the toothpick left. A Lesson in Math Time passes slowly when you have to pee. Time passes quickly when you have to drink a shot of beer every minute. After thirty shot-minutes, the two effects cancel out and time moves at the correct speed. But constantly changing the music creates a flux state in which time doesn’t flow, but exists in re-mixable self-contained moments. With no beginning or end in an infinite series of sixtysecond loops, time simply forgets what is going on and goes out for a smoke. With this method Todd planned to “powerhour” his way into the past. He’d always wanted to meet Jesus. LARA ORTIZ-LUIS The Conference Table The CEO bit into an apple and made a face. He had just brushed his teeth and now there was that awful bitter taste in his mouth. The woman across the conference table thought he was grimacing at her and subsequently became insecure about her outfit. She smoothed out the creases on her shirt, but was doing so around her chest, so the CEO thought she was flirting with him. He was torn between condemning unprofessional behavior and encouraging a little office romance—so he settled for something in between. She blushed deeply. Then they did it on the table. One Through Ten in Pictures 1. 2. 3. 4.

An asparaguy. The silhouette of a swan. The head of a bone, possibly the only part left after a dog has chewed on it. An embarrassed flamingo, ducking its head away so that you can see only its legs. 5. Wheelchair. 6. Thumb up. 7. A beak pecking at its mama hen, who resides at the top right corner. 8. A superhero (who can fly and be invisible) with a malfunctioning invisibility mask. 9. A model, curving in towards the left, hands on hips, and elbows pushed out forward. Pouting. 10. A dead, holy saint. 36 the claw

A Life’s Work

I am much like her in my untimeliness I make enormous changes at the last minute decide to cut off all my hair with dull scissors paint the walls lemon yellow and leave on the light

I wake up and start narrating my life in verse. I don’t know any more what I should write down what not. Is it all important? Leopold Bloom counts his toast— three, four. Too many poems or too much broken prose and shall I give my life in rhyme? What meter! Where is the music? Walking to the gas station cheap coffee in cold morning sidewalk mottled from the night before the rain the night before. The intrepid squirrel racing along a branch a howling a skcrauwch no chitter you’d expect and his hesitant admirer following at a distance. Squirrel relationships now an ode to every girl I know. Just list the names and hear the sounds the ode such nice sounds— Jamiejulialisha Katherinegracemarymeagan Sarahplayercadelkarlimorrison— such good sounds and ‘Zounds a good mulch fertilizer. I knew a man from English Countryside he said it fer – i’ – lyyzerrr and now thinking two three at a time it disables the pen such a canaries I am undone! I have a habit of going into bookshops until money runs out buying as many books of X’s complete poems names I don’t know haven’t read maybe won’t read, but I love for twentydollars I can hold someone’s life in my hand.

Lucia Carrera Constantine ’10

Jack Dawkins

“Arrillaga Construction 1,” Lucas Loredo ’12

Make Any Bargain Better late than never my mother used to say as she let the pot roast burn as she picked us up from school as she waited late nights for my father to come home from long trips on business while she quietly folded laundry keeping shirt collars crisp and floors spotless

{fiction & poetry} 37


“…Because the World Looks So Much Worse in Black and White”: Failed Memorials, Historical Amnesia and the Oberlin Steel Drums on a DC Afternoon Zachary Russell Warma ’11


o all you would-be-conquerors: if it is your earnest desire to consecrate an “empire,” there is a single historical prereq by which you must abide: build yourself one helluva capital city. Yes, forming an indomitable military, establishing extensive trade networks, and developing cutting-edge technology are all well and good— but, if you really want to make it, your nexus of culture and power had better be spectacular. Think of Athens and Rome, London or Paris, even Istanbul (not Constantinople)—when the empire has gone to ruin, your former seat of power still remains. As a temporary resident of the District of Columbia this summer, I couldn’t help but find my thoughts drifting towards the subject of capitals. After all, the Washington landscape is defined by the projection of a national mythology of state dominance. It’s impossible to walk more than a few blocks without running into a statue of some long-dead Civil War general in a park space, or trip over a plaque commemorating some event that few, if any, people actually remember. Myself, I couldn’t be happier with this arrangement, but the ubiquity of memorials brings to bear notions of how the past is remembered, and what that process scrubs off the pages of public history. 38 the claw

With a Friday off early in my DC stay, I made the choice any temporarily transplanted Californian with a near-unhealthy love of the past would on a spring day—I donned my Reefs and five-buck aviators, turned up Simon & Garfunkel’s The Concert in Central Park on my iPod, and went on a four-hour stroll around the Mall. Given the placement of the Capitol, Lincoln Memorial, and Washington Monument, the National Mall serves as a tableau in which our national mythology is writ large. Besides, with the Cherry Blossom Festival in full swing, I really had no choice. Having passed George’s Great… obelisk, I descended into the World War II Memorial. Let me start by saying that the monument has been called reminiscent of architecture favored by the chaps we ousted from Berlin, Tokyo, and Rome. A set of 56 emotionless granite pillars and metal wreaths honoring each American state and territory line the periphery of a large fountain, flanked at two ends by arches. A rigid and brooding complex (particularly at night), the screaming eagles housed in the arches really don’t help when trying to avoid the topic of thousand-year Reichs. The architects and apologists can talk about reflection—I disagree. This iron permanence does not encourage

contemplation, but instead forces a single immutable narrative onto the landscape. Ultimately, it fails spectacularly in being anything other than a nice fountain. In many ways, it may be the wrong monument for WWII, but it is all too perfect a monument to the times from which it emerged. All it takes is a look at the inscription in the corner: George W. Bush, and the date, 2004. When the memorial was finished six years ago the nation was searching for a new and tangible national vision. Burdened with two wars and intense cultural and economic volatility, The memorial was an attempt to solidify the past in an epoch that was quite a bit more nuanced and uncertain. It is unlikely that the World War II Memorial will ever recede from the landscape, in part because of its location and the centrality of the conflict to American power. However, I couldn’t help but find myself drawing comparisons to what fast became my favorite monument on the Washington Mall—the District of Columbia World War I Memorial. Yup, the forgotten memorial for the forgotten war honoring the dead of the town that Congress “forgot” to enfranchise— it’s Hoosiers, but way more important. Tucked off to the side of the Lincoln Memorial, surrounded by light foliage,

this elevated marble gem of failed historical remembrance is everything that the World War II Memorial so desperately longed to be: unironically neo-classical, free of doubt and disillusionment—an unrepentant and unwavering symbol of “real” American sacrifice. The trouble is that, a decade after the monument’s construction in 1931, Western Civilization managed to find itself embroiled in yet another “war to end all wars,” and in doing so, brought the underpinnings of the monument and significance of the “final” conflict it meant to celebrate crashing down. And so what did we do? We forgot about both the monument and war, because to do otherwise would have been to confront our failure. And really, who wants to build monuments to failure (except for the South, of course)? But Messrs. Simon and Garfunkel were entirely correct: the world looks so much worse in black and white. The flaws of the World War I memorial seamlessly connect it back to its modern WWII relative—both completely fail to convey any semblance of depth or intricacy. Even better, the World War I memorial suffered ideological repudiation in a matter of a few years, a rarity for failed historical visions. But lest one be convinced that the apex of the afternoon was one unnecessary contemplation on large marble screw-ups, the most notable occurrence of the day came on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and involved not marble, but steel—steel drums. Under a large tent, so as to mitigate the heat from their black shirts, the goofily impressive Oberlin College Steel Drums performed for a crowd of onlookers taken in by both the music and the spectacle of the scene. Simon and Garfunkel were put on pause. Nearly 100 people from all walks had stopped and lingered in front of this entirely arbitrary and altogether engrossing scene. Odd as it may seem, the drummers and the monuments emerge from an identical strand of the

“Untitled,” Fallon Segara ’12

nation’s DNA—our near-unyielding optimism. A century and a half before the Revolution, John Winthrop and his merry band of Puritans, finalists for the “least peppy historical religious sect” award (see—Salem Witch Trials), spoke of their new home as a “city on a hill”—a land full of promise, a place with a future. While we struggle to grasp, much less recognize the complex thrust of the nation’s history, there somehow is a confidence in the future. Jefferson’s words—“we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”—cemented our fate as a people of ideals, and the last two and a half centuries have been a struggle to inch ever closer to such aspirations. This is, in some ways, a flaw in the national character: such “forward-thinking” does render us myopic, reliant upon hulking impersonal structures to tell us the story of our past. Memorials in America are unfortunately one of the few tangible ways in which we engage with, or even contemplate the past. These markers of past deeds do tell stories, yet too often they are not the ones we need to hear. And yet, this very idealism prevents a shackling to the past or an orthodox acceptance of irrefutable truths. The inspiration for the WWII Memorial also enables a set of college steel drummers to perform

on the steps of America’ closest version to a secular St. Peter’s Basilic. Ingrained in the nation’s founding documents is the implicit notion that the future will not resemble the past, that we can change, modify, and improve. We can accept that the shrine to our nation’s greatest president, a stage for struggle and triumph since its construction, can also serve as a venue for some rocking calypso tunes. We need to do a better job of viewing both our past and our future less through the prism of intimidating iron wreaths, and more on the side those quirky Ohioans. The way we look at ourselves and the world around us must not be rigid and unyielding, and we must hold onto that optimism—which is neither superficial nor misplaced. Though, really, were the drummers even worrying about America’s relationship with its tortured past? I sincerely doubt it. The performance, rich with movement and vitality, was a far cry from the marble sprawling out in front of us. While they kept up the rhythm, the heavy weight of history and empire did not matter; the brooding ghosts of the past were pushed to the side. It was the type of scene, really, that makes you think all the world’s a sunny day, oh yeah… {essays} 39

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“Road Trippin’,” Emily Mitchell ’13


As our former editor-in-chief once said: if The New Yorker and The Atlantic had a bastard child, it would be The Claw. We hope one day this will be true. Until then, we are a student publication that supports and showcases Stanford’s rich culture in politics, humanities, and the arts. In this spirit, we publish investigative reporting, columns, essays, fiction, fine art, doodles, and everything in between. To see all the content in this issue and more, please visit our website: If you are interested in learning more or becoming involved with The Claw please e-mail: —The Claw staff

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS FRONT COVER: “Stanford Duck in Motion,” Mari Amend ’13, Justin Calles ’13, and Alice Nam ‘11 BACK COVER: “A Property of Matter,” Justin Blair ’11 ARTISTS & PHOTOGRAPHERS:


Justin Calles: cover Alice Nam: cover Mari Amend: cover, p. 26 Justin Blair: pp. 2, 25, 28, back cover Daphne Li: p. 6 Emily Mitchell: pp. 11, 40–41 Arnav Mougdil: p. 14 Nicholas Mendoza: p. 17 Danielle Rossoni: p. 18 Adrit Lath: p. 20 Teddy Steinkellner: p. 22 Faraz Hossein-Babaei: p. 31 Lucas Loredo: p. 37 Fallon Segara: p. 39 Kiran Malladi: p. 43

p. p. p. p. p.

3: “Seal of Approval,” Mari Amend 16: “Shroom,” Iman Fayek 21: “Hipster Man,” Mari Amend 24: “Untitled,” LiHe Han 42: “This Is a Poem,” Mari Amend

The Claw would also like to thank the ASSU Publications Board and The Stanford Fund for their continued support. 42 the claw

“Six Textures on a Nautilus,” Kiran Malladi ’11 43

44 the claw

The Claw Magazine: Volume 3.1  

First issue of 2011

The Claw Magazine: Volume 3.1  

First issue of 2011