THE COLLEGE HILL THE BROWN/RISD WEEKLY | NOVEMBER 18 2010 | VOLUME XXI ISSUE X
CAMPAIGN CA$H FLOW: CITIZENS UNITED V. FEC
HOW TO ACTUALLY HAVE THANKSGIVING
12 HOW REALITY TV DEMOCRATIZES THE ART WORLD 20 A BUNCH OF LIES
“It was a gift. But I don’t want to ever drown again. That’s actually the third time that I’ve drowned.” -p. 15
The College Hill
contents from the editors
2 Week in review
Sam Knowles, Ashton Strait, Jonah Wolf
3 France strikes again Emily Gogolak
4 Money making politics David Braun
5 Slavery updates Sarah Gibson
6 Vehicular history Maud Doyle
OPINIONS 7 We’ve got opinions, but they’re small The Editorial Board
FEATURES 8 Holiday music madness
In 1874, the American Poultry Association (APA) published the Standards of Perfection, establishing breed standards for “purebred fowl.” The Association established three key criteria for the so-called heritage turkey: “naturally mating,” “long, productive lifespan,” and “slow growth rate.” Eschewing the standards of “fancy poultry” as prescribed by the APA, the 1960s saw the rise of the first commercially bred turkey—the Broad-Breasted White (BBW)—which is so fat, it is only able to reproduce via artificial insemination. Today the BBW accounts for 99.9 percent of the turkey market. It reaches its market weight, up to 32 pounds, in 18 weeks. By comparison, a heritage turkey can take up to 30 weeks to reach 18 pounds. In the ’90s, the heritage turkey faced extinction. But it has persevered. Last week, the average price of a wholesale frozen BBW reached a record high at $1.09 a pound, due to the increase in US grain prices. But this holiday season, approximately 20,000 Americans will shell out between eight and ten dollars a pound for a heritage. The bird may be lean. He may take longer to grow. But upon reaching maturity, he is more flavorful and more complex than his commercial counterpart. Here in CONMAG, the chopping block is near. We too have reached a long-coming, slow-growing maturity. It is time to say farewell to the pasture. So, eat your Indy. Get some sleep. Baste us in gravy. -KDJ
9How to give thanks Eli Schmitt
11It’s a jungle out there
Emily Martin and Adrian Randall
1 2 Let’s talk about reality TV Amy Lehrburger
1 3 Primitive art Whitney Alsup
F A L L 2010
20Lies, lies, lies
MANAGING EDITORS Katie Jennings, Tarah Knaresboro, Eli Schmitt • NEWS Ashton Strait, Emma Whitford, Jonah Wolf • METRO Maud Doyle, George A. Warner, Simon van Zuylen-Wood • OPINION Mimi Dwyer, Brian Judge • FEATURES Alice Hines, Natalie Jablonski, Marguerite Preston, Adrian Randall • ARTS Jordan Carter, Alexandra Corrigan, Erik Font, Natasha Pradhan • SCIENCE Katie Delaney, Nupur Shridhar • SPORTS Malcolm Burnley • FOOD Belle Cushing • LITERARY Rebekah Bergman, Charlotte Crowe • X PAGE Katie Gui • NEW MEDIA Kate Welsh • LIST Simone Landon, Erin Schikowski, Dayna Tortorici • DESIGN Maija Ekay, Katherine Entis, Mary-Evelyn Farrior, Emily Fishman, Maddy McKay, Liat Werber, Rachel Wexler, Joanna Zhang • ILLUSTRATIONS Emily Martin, Robert Sandler • COVER EDITOR Emily Martin • MEGA PORN STAR Raphaela Lipinsky • SENIOR EDITORS Margo Irvin, Simone Landon, Erin Schikowski, Emily Segal, Dayna Tortorici • STAFF WRITERS Zachary Rausnitz, Alex Spoto, Dan Stump • PHOTOGRAPHY John Fisher • MVP Emily Segal
COVER ART: Christina Graham
1 5 Interview with a Providence soapmaker Natasha Pradhan
16 I-95 gets a makeover Sonja Boet-Whitaker
17 Let Freedom ring Zach Rausnitz
PUZZLE MANIA 18
Katie Barnwell, Jamie Green, Jonah Kagan, Joey Weissbrot
19 Science is in everything
Katie Delaney, Tarah Knaresboro, Brian Mastroianni, Kathryn Wiseman Tarah Knaresboro
21Peanut butter, jelly, and high school Charlotte Crowe
X 23 26
Eli Schmitt Suerynn Lee
24 Thanksgiving tastes like blurbs Robert Sandler and George A. Warner
2 5A proper eulogy
The College Hill Independent PO Box 1930, Brown University Providence, RI 02912 email@example.com Letters to the editor are welcome distractions. The College Hill Independent is published weekly during the fall and spring semesters and is printed by TCI Press in Seekonk, MA. The College Hill Independent receives support from Campus Progress/Center for American Progress. Campus Progress works to help young people — advocates, activists, journalists, artists — make their voices heard on issues that matter. Learn more at CampusProgress.org.
as if you care...
My wife and I are animal lovers. We don’t watch the pet psychic and we don’t have funerals for our pets. I do enjoy analyzing out pets’ [cats and dogs] behaviors and something really interesting occurred to me. My pets tell willful lies! Both cats and dogs clearly understand that they are not to do certain things. For example, the cats know that their not supposed to be on the kitchen cabinets. So what do they do, the smart ones that is, they wait until we go to bed and then they have a party in the kitchen. They understand a law and then follow a calculated and deceitful strategy to obtain their goal...the chicken bones! Also, my dogs are well trained and stay within the bounds of our five acres...until we go to sleep. I realized that our smartest dog, a Border Collie, would wait until the light went out. She would then sneak past our bedroom window ever so quietly, and then run up on the road and have a party with all of the other willful and deceitful dogs. She also taught our other dogs how the procedure works. When caught, sometime without even looking at me, and without my saying a word, the animal knows they are in trouble. Are these examples of lies? Do dogs go to hell? What does this say about sin? What does this say about the intelligence of the animal. One could argue that this indicates a rather high level of intelligence as compared to our normal assumptions about household pets. One thing seem certain, deceit is in the genes! [<:)]
ISSUE 2: It costs $200, not $2000, to start raising your own chickens, complete with chickens, chicken feed, and supplies to make a coop. ISSUE 8: Zach, who lives on a boat, is from Potowomut, RI, not Pawcatuck, CT. “I’m as RI as they come independent swamp yankee to the core.” ISSUE 6: 120 million people did not take a survey about independent bookstores. The number is actually closer to 9.300. ISSUE 9: Both the headline, “Cwning Noobs: My Special Night at Toledo,” as well as the statement “when the dripping meat cone comes out, we have fun” do not in any way reflect the sentiments of the writer.
N O M O LO KO
“Do you think people are gonna start stockpiling Lokos?” “I hear the prices go up right after they outlaw it. At least that’s what happened with Sparks.” “Imagine selling cans of Loko for fifteen bucks.” Variations on this conversation have been dominating the past couple of weeks, as word spread of statewide bans on alcoholic energy drinks like Four Loko and Joose: first Michigan, on November 4, followed the next day by Oklahoma. (Utah’s state-controlled liquor market had never allowed the drinks to be sold.) In the midst of this fracas, Phusion Projects, the three Ohio State grads behind Four Loko, found an unlikely spokesman in New York restaurateur--and former corporate lawyer -- Eddie Huang, who took to his blog, thepopchef.blogspot.com, to defend the drink last Monday, November 8. “So, I drink a lot of four loko and its [sic] dope,” Huang began. “That’s really all there is to it. I like gummy bears and I like alcohol that taste [sic] like malt liquor gummy bears.” He went on: “On some Larry Flynt shit, I think a ban should be opposed. Banning four loko flies in the face of logical legal interpretation and the sole reason there is an argument to ban it is because what four loko promotes culturally (cheap booze) is an indefensible political position...My money says they find a way to ban it and some representative will get cheap votes. Bush league shit. Pun intended. And allowing this to happen is going to set a really shitty precedent that will affect an issue in the future that probably had nothing to do with four loko.” Huang (who goes
by the Twitter handle @generalloko) concluded by inviting readers to “Four Loko Thursday” at his Lower East Side restaurant, Xiao Ye. Though Huang titled his post “Four Loko...once and for all,” it wasn’t so conclusive. On Saturday -- two days after the party, and three days after a Four Loko ban in Washington state -- a post appeared under the title “Goodnight Four Loko,” explaining that the State Liquor Authority had put an end to the party: “We followed the law, we were in line with the SLA requirements, but basically, it was understood that if we kept selling Four Loko, we would be seeing a lot of raids.” On Monday, under pressure from Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Phusion Projects agreed to stop shipping Four Loko to New York state. On Wednesday morning they announced that the drink would no longer be made with caffeine. (One industrious Brown student was seen leaving Madeira Liquors with 63 cans and, one presumes, an ‘A’ in ENGN0090.) In retrospect, Four Loko’s demise was about as predictable as those of Sid Vicious or Kurt Cobain. The drink had only emerged to fill a hole in the market left by Anheuser-Busch’s Bud Extra and MillerCoors’ Sparks, both decaffeinated in response to a threatened lawsuit from the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The fact that alcoholic energy drinks are still officially legal brings into question the role of government regulation. Prohibition was repealed, and a growing number of states has de-criminalized or legalized marijuana. What’s more, caffeine and alcohol are both readily available to be combined. An online video posted Tuesday to buzzfeed. com teaches users how to “Make Your Own Four Loko Homebrew.” -JW
W E E K I N R EVIEW
by Sam Knowles, Ashton Strait, and Jonah Wolf Illustration by George A. Warner
A R I ZO N A G O E S G R E E N
It should be an extra-special Thanksgiving in Arizona this year, as many will now be able to spice up their turkey day feast with some good old-fashioned hippie lettuce. That’s right friends, after a tight race Arizona has officially legalized medical marijuana. For a while it didn’t seem like the measure was going to pass. Following the November 2 election, the portion of votes counted put the wacky-tobacky measure behind, but by Friday it had inched ahead in the tally, ultimately winning by just over 4,000 votes out of 1.67 million total in the statewide referendum. Apparently there are a lot of stoners in Maricopa County, whose 11,000 outstanding ballots were the last to be tallied in determining the official outcome of the proposition. The bill will allow people with chronic illnesses to either buy or grow laughing grass with a prescription from their doctor, and will permit the opening of up to 124 green goddess dispensaries in the state. Unfortunately, not everyone is in line to light up. Carolyn Short, the chairwoman of Keep AZ Drug Free, which opposed the measure, told the New York Times that “All of the political leaders came out and warned Arizonans that this was going to have very dire effects on a number of levels…I don’t think that all Arizonans have heard those dire predictions.” Probably because they’re too busy listening to the Grateful Dead and dreaming about mashed potatoes and gravy. -AS
T H E TO DAY S H OW [D OW N]
Former President George W. Bush reentered the public sphere on November 8 with an exclusive, seemingly endless interview with Matt Lauer, in order to promote his new memoir Decision Points. Airing as a primetime special and followed by a live segment on the The Today Show two days later, the interview was an odd amalgam: one part revisionist history, one part science fiction, two parts therapy session. With a new president growing less popular each day, perhaps Bush decided that now was as good a time as any to begin reframing his legacy. Lauer and Bush breezed past minor issues—his defense of torture, the co-presidency of Dick Cheney—in order to concentrate on what Bush called the “low point” of his time in office: Kanye West’s comments at a Hurricane Katrina telethon, accusing him of racism. Did nothing else come to mind? 9-11. Two wars. A recession serious enough to warrant capital letters. And, oh yeah, that hurricane? Lauer suggested Bush’s choice of low points might offend some people. The former president interrupted, “Don’t care.” The next day, during the live segment, Lauer played his previously unaired interview with West, in which the rapper approached an apology but never arrived. “In my moment of frustration, I didn’t have the grounds to call him a racist,” West said. “I believe that in a situation of high emotion like that, we as human beings don’t always choose the right words.” In response to the rapper’s non-apology apology, Bush said, “I appreciate that.” Not yet satisfied, Lauer pushed for the sound byte: “Does your faith allow you to forgive Kanye West?” “Oh, absolutely,” Bush said, without missing a beat. “I’m not a hater.” West later accused Lauer of forcing him into his remarks. He later tweeted, “I feel very alone very used very tortured very forced very misunderstood very hollow very very misused.” The mood lighting of The Today Show cannot heal all wounds, it seems. As the interview came to an end, Bush said he was not interested in a future under the national spotlight. And you believed him—that he really would prefer the solitude of a Texas ranch to weekly stints on morning shows. “The problem with the arena today is a few loud voices can dominate the discussion,” Bush said. “I don’t intend to be one of the voices in the discussion.” The nation breathes a sigh of relief. -SK
N O V E M B E R 18 2010 T H E C O L L E G E H I L L I N D E P E N D E N T
W E’R E ST R IK I N G : L I S T E N TO US ! France, fear, and impending fatalism by Emily Gogolak Illustration by Katherine Entis
rowds swarmed the cities of France this fall and chants echoed across the streets: “Fight, fight, fight!” With revolutionary fervor, millions of people joined in protest over a recent legislative measure to raise the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62. In an effort to address a dire national deficit, the reform pits fiscal pragmatism against a legacy of robust state welfare, and French citizens have responded with a vengeance. Protest is an inseparable element of French Republicanism: when dissatisfied with government, the French naturally take democracy to the streets. In an email to the Independent, Aleksander Glogowski, Paris spokesman for the French Socialist Party, explained the psyche of the French strike: “It’s not a ‘disease’ as most Anglo-Saxon free-marketers are telling […] We have a strong feeling of ownership on the State’s policies and are attached to a fair share of the burden.” The most recent strikes were no exception. As much as the movement evokes the classic French symbol of the strike, the tensions also reveal a widespread national malaise and question popular confidence in the future of the Republic. What was most telling about the recent turmoil was just who was making the noise. Adults were not alone in their protest, as youth were perhaps the most vocal opponents to the increase in retirement age. In a globalized era characterized by burgeoning optimism and opportunity among the world’s young, France poses a striking contrast: with its youthful idealism clouded by a startling pessimism, it is uncertain how much longer “the Great Nation” can rest on its laurels before facing the times.
Nicolas Sarkozy has been on tough terms with labor since the start of his conservative presidency. Labor reform is hardly a surprising centerpiece to Sarkozy’s domestic political agenda, as he made the failed pension system a flagship issue of his 2007 presidential campaign. Elected on a platform of change, he claimed that only through a “rupture with the past” could France correct its budget, revive its work ethic, and reenergize its populace. Turning a new page in national history, Sarkozy promised a break from tradition and a brighter France to come. The president did not forget his promise for change, but when the most recent strikes erupted, the French did seem to forget who they voted for. The trouble began in June, when Sarkozy first presented the plan to raise legal retirement and pension age from 60 years old to 62, in addition to other proposals to increase the number of working years required to receive a full pension.
a choice, but an economic imperative. When he introduced the reform in late May, Employment Minister Eric Woeth announced, “as one lives longer, it is only logical that your working life should also be longer.” As protests later escalated, he told the BBC, “we’re not here to do what’s easy, we don’t always have the people’s approval, but it has to be done.”
THE GOLDEN NUMBER
Sarkozy’s reform was a direct response to France’s flailing fiscal position amidst the global recession. With economic woes running strong across the continent, austerity plans are becoming a European norm, and high debt burdens have recently led Greece, Britain, Spain, and Portugal to adopt unprecedented methods to scale back state spending. Many European nations are facing a battle between extensive state welfare spending and gradual rises in life expectancy, and as deficits run higher, the need for more revenue only grows more acute. According to a report by the Paris-based Pensions Advisory Council, in April 2010 the French state pension system was running an €11 billion deficit ($13.6 billion); by 2050, it will climb to €103 billion ($127 billion), about 2.6 percent of the projected gross domestic product. Furthermore, as the deficit has forecasted to spike to 8 percent of the GDP this year, France risks loosing the AAA credit rating that allows it to service its debt at the lowest market rates. According to the French government, increasing retirement age was not
past the Sorbonne, chanting resistance songs ranging from la Marseillaise to Queen: “We will, we will rock you” echoed down le Boulevard Saint Germain. Not all of the French disobedience, however, civil. In Lyon, the epicenter of violent protest, police used water cannons and tear gas to stop teenage protesters from burning cars and hurling glass bottles. West of Paris, in Nanterre, hundreds of masked rioters—again, nearly all adolescents—smashed store windows and threw stones at police, Reuters reported. “I saw 200-300 high school students pass by, some waving sticks. One of them had a crowbar. I find it hard to believe that you can go to high school with a crowbar like that,” Frédéric Géhin, Nanterre resident, told France 24 News. Anxiety reached its height when workers blocked access to refineries and ports across the country. Despite strong warnings on the safety and financial consequences of the blockades—which stalled air travel, left motorists without gas, and threatened to paralyze the fuel-dependent industrial sector—the
Early retirement is a centerpiece of social welfare in France and a symbol of the nation’s progressive political culture. In 1983, Socialist President Francois Mitterand lowered the minimum retirement age from 65 to 60, which has since become a source of French pride. Social benefits, including subsidized state healthcare, the 35-hour workweek, and generous vacations are not seen as mere luxuries among the French, but rather, as their birthright. Early retirement is no exception. “We want to stop working at 60 because it’s something our parents, our grandparents, and even our greatgrandparents fought for,” Eric Gilly, 50, a union representative for the Force Ouvrière (Worker’s Force), told the Associated Press. Many deem retirement reform an assault to an inalienable right and the first step in dismantling French social benefits in favor of an impending American capitalism—a national nightmare incarnate. “ T H E O N LY LO G I C A L O P T I O N ”
No stranger to strikes, French President
D E M O C R AC Y STREETS
Mass resistance to the reform did not break out until early September, when the proposal passed through the lower house of Parliament. The Senate was to vote on the law in late October, and the movement gained speed as the decision approached. On October 12, the opposition saw its largest turnout with 3.5 million protesters, according to the unions (police claimed only 1.2 million were involved). Firefighters marched with university students and museum workers
strikers only turned more militant. As reported by the UK’s Daily Mail, refinery employees armed themselves with pickets and burned tires, and formed a human chain around a plant in Grandpuits, east of Paris. “The protests are not stopping,” Jean-Claude Mailly, head of the Force Ouvrière told Paris Radio Monte Carlo, “we still think that demonstrating is not enough ... we have to ramp it up.” Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux would have none of it. “We will use all means necessary to get these delinquents,” he threatened, including paramilitary intervention. Comparable to the US SWAT Team and with more authority than the French riot police, the paramilitary was never deployed, but the threat made clear that the government was not going yield. W H AT L I E S B E N E AT H
Amid ongoing strikes, violence, and fuel blockades, the reform passed in the Senate on October 22 and was written into law on November 9 after final approval from France’s Constitutional Council. The protests gradually lost speed after the Senate vote, although unions have since planned new strikes for November 23 in hopes of reviving the movement. Though the retirement age has now been officially raised and a resurgence of protest is extremely unlikely, France is hardly free from its most recent bout of tensions because the real problem is not just about retirement. What is most troublesome about this year’s protest is the ironic demography of its participants: youth were at the center of the right against reform. “When one sees young high-school student representatives on French television explaining why they take to the streets (in order to defend their own future pensions), one is seized by a deep sense of fatalism,” Dominique Moïsi, senior adviser at the French Institute for International Relations, wrote in the New York Times. While energy and optimism run ablaze in the high schools of Mumbai and Beijng, ninth-graders in Paris are smashing windows and burning cars in fear of the future. Call it melancholy, malaise, or fatalism, this trend should come as a warning to France: the future will only be as bright as the generation who will welcome it. This most recent demonstration of youthful hopelessness presents a grim view of the years ahead. In an interview with the Independent, Édouard, a 20 year-old philosophy student at the Sorbonne, put it well: “I don’t know what will happen next; but what I do know is that France just feels stagnant.” As Sarkozy attempts to deliver his promise of change, it is unclear how tightly the French will cling to the tradition he his vying to leave behind. EMILY GOGOLAK B’12 accidentally led a labor protest down Boulevard Saint Michel earlier this semester when she made a wrong turn on her bicycle.
MONEY TA LK S
4 National Commentary
How corporation$ want to $hape our democracy
by David Braun Illustration by Alex Corrigan
h o won the 2010 midterm elections? Although Republicans took over the House and won seats in the Senate, the real winners are the corporations who supported winning candidates from either party. Record-breaking anonymous corporate spending in elections paid off, and by January, many corporations will have new friends in office. Spending reached new heights thanks to the January 2010 Supreme Court case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (FEC). The 5-4 majority overturned two precedents regarding the First Amendment rights of corporations: Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce(1990), which upheld a Michigan law that prohibited corporations from spending money on political speech related to candidates, and McConnell v. FEC(2003), which upheld a similar federal law. The Citizens United case voided these two cases, ruling that corporations have a First Amendment protection of speech just like individuals. This decision threatens to turn our democracy into a corporatocracy, where the government serves the interests of private business rather than the public. In Austin (1990), the Supreme Court examined the constitutionality of the Michigan Campaign Finance Act, which banned corporations from spending their own money on political speech for or against candidates running for state office. The Court believed that “statecreated advantages,” such as the ability of shareholders to have limited responsibility for a corporation’s debt “permit [corporations] to use resources amassed in the economic marketplace to obtain an unfair advantage in the political marketplace.” In other words, state laws allow corporations to operate effectively, and the success of a corporation does not reflect public support of the corporation’s political ideas. For example, advocates of alternative energy research need to buy gasoline from gasoline companies that would support a different energy policy. The Supreme Court ruled that the government has a responsibility to limit corporate spending in elections because the government facilitates the accumulation of corporate wealth, and this “corporate wealth can unfairly influence elections.” Before the 2003 case McConnell v. FEC, corporations could sidestep the government’s ban on corporate spending by engaging in “issue advocacy”— speech that avoided words such as “vote for” and “vote against.” The 2002 McCain-Feingold Act set out to close this loophole by prohibiting a new category of speech called “electioneering communications,” television or radio ads that mention candidates and are broadcasted within several weeks of a primary or general election. Senator Mitch McConnell challenged the Act, arguing that the
restriction on electioneering communications violated the First Amendment rights of corporations. In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court upheld the law. Without it, the Court believed, corporations would use their state-sanctioned structure to amass wealth, fund political ads that mention candidates by name, and influence elections. O P E N I N G T H E F LO O D G AT E S O F CO R P O R AT E S P E N D I N G
Before the 2008 primary elections, Citizens United, a conservative non-profit corporation challenged the McCainFeingold Act’s ban on electioneering communications. The group produced a film titled Hillary: The Movie, which criticized Senator Clinton as a presidential candidate, and then attempted to distribute the film through on-demand cable television. Citizens United filed a suit against the FEC, hoping to exempt their film from the electioneering communications provision of the McCainFeingold Act. In a 5-4 ruling, Citizens United v. FEC struck down the McCainFeingold Act’s ban and overruled the entire Austin decision, which had provided a rationale for regulating corporate expenditures. Corporations, the Court ruled, have a First Amendment right to the freedom of speech even when that speech mentions candidates. Without delay, President Obama called the decision “a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies [and other powerful interests].” Corporations once had to jump through legal hoops to influence politics, forming separate political action committees (PAC) that ran ads financed by voluntary contributions from employees. After Citizens United, corporations can speak loudly with millions and millions of dollars from their own treasuries. Jeffrey Toobin emphasizes in The New Yorker how corporate money could similarly impact state elections. Although two-thirds of states elect judges, the public pays little attention to these races. Corporations, on the other hand, “have a huge stake in the outcome, because most personal-injury lawsuits and other civil cases are handled at the state level.” For several years, California, the Wild West of campaign finance, has allowed corporations to spend unlimited amounts in state elections. In 2006, the software company Intuit, which produces TurboTax, spent $1 million trying to defeat Democrat John Chiang who supported a free tax-preparation program for low-income residents. Over the summer, Target and Best Buy contributed a combined $250,000 from their own treasuries to a PAC that ran advertisements for an anti-gay rights
Minnesota Republican gubernatorial candidate. Faced with protests and consumer boycotts across the country, Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel apologized and claimed to have only wanted a business climate conducive to growth, i.e., low corporate taxes. Nevertheless, Target and Best Buy’s contributions could have led to anti-gay policies that affect citizens, not corporations. Corruption once meant selling votes for money, like the 1991 “AzScam” scandal where seven Arizona legislators accepted bribes as a reward for supporting legalized gambling. Today’s corruption rarely involves handshakes, secret codes, or briefcases full of money. Instead, politicians simply pass laws that benefit the same corporations from which they accept thousands in donations. And they get away with it. Senator John McCain, for example, received $894,379 from telecommunications PACs and registered lobbyists from January 2007 to June 2009. Unsurprisingly, Senator McCain introduced the “Internet Freedom Act” to block FCC regulation of broadband networks (net neutrality), which telecom companies oppose. Our political system is especially corrupt when the public is forced to choose between two parties who will both keep a corporation’s interests in mind. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, from 1990 to 2010, AT&T fairly evenly split $45,461,879 in donations between Democrats and Republicans. The website Ars Technica characterizes AT&T as a company “whose political donation strategy is to spread the money evenly, so that no matter what happens, AT&T has pals on Capitol Hill and in the White House.” Citizens should be concerned because Wal-Mart, TurboTax, Target, Best Buy, and AT&T aren’t the only companies who want to influence political decisions. BP, the company responsible for the oil spill in the Gulf, spent $16 million in 2009 lobbying politicians to support deep-water drilling leases and oppose climate-change legislation. Coal companies, of which one is responsible for a West Virginia mine disaster that killed 29 workers in April, have spent more than $24 million since 2009 lobbying candidates to oppose regulations of air pollution, coal ash disposal, and mine safety. Some people doubt the effectiveness of lobbying, but David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times writes, “private influence-seekers shower big contributions on politicians because they want to gain access and shape policy; they would not spend the money if they got nothing in return.” With Citizens United, health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and Wall Street companies, can do more than lobby; they can anony-
mously bankroll likeminded candidates to office. THE GOLDEN CALF
And that’s exactly what they did in the midterm election. Corporations gave millions to tax-exempt 501(c) groups that don’t need to reveal the sources of their donations. According to the New York Times, outside groups not aﬃliated with political parties spent $51.6 million on the 2006 midterms. For the 2010 midterms, these groups spent $280 million. About 60 percent of that spending came from groups who don’t disclose their donors, and most of the anonymous spending benefited Republicans. Many candidates owe their victories to this increase in anonymous spending. The Wall Street Journal reports, “Republican groups prevailed in nearly 75 percent of the House races in which they significantly out-spent Democratic organizations.” Thirteen-term Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-PA) lost his re-election after conservative groups bombarded his campaign with $500,000 of ads. Similarly, fourteen-term Rep. John Spratt (DSC) lost his re-election after two conservative organizations spent a combined $650,000 on attack ads. Citizens United sold public elections to corporate interests. In a Congressional approach to the problem, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced the DISCLOSE Act (“Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections”), which would require CEOs of corporations and presidents of unions to appear in the ads their groups finance. Additionally, any group that receives corporate or union money would need to list its top five sources of contributions. In Citizens United, every justice except for Clarence Thomas confirmed the government’s constitutional ability to require disclosure of corporate spending and advertisement disclaimers. Other legislative proposals would limit the influence of foreign-owned corporations, tighten the restrictions that prevent federal contractors from influencing elections, and require shareholders to approve corporate spending on campaign ads. The DISCLOSE Act and similar ideas would protect our country from corporatocracy, but 39 Senate Republicans blocked debate on the Act in September. At least they didn’t vote anonymously.
DAVID BR AUN B’14 is the CA$H MONEY DOLLAR$ WAL-MART.
N O V E M B E R 18 2010 T H E C O L L E G E H I L L I N D E P E N D E N T
BRO W N & S L AV E RY: T H E U PDAT E
by Sarah Gibson | Illustration by Robert Sandler
n 2003, Brown University President Ruth Simmons appointed a Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice to research and reflect upon the university’s “historical relationship to slavery.” The committee found that the transatlantic slave trade had contributed to the wealth of many prominent Rhode Island families who helped to establish, run, and fund the university in its early years, including the Browns. The Steering Committee included these findings in their October 2006 report, along with several recommendations about how these revelations should inform the University’s scholarly pursuits and relationship to communities “disadvantaged by the slave trade.” The report reads: Universities express their priorities first and foremost in their selection of fields of study. We believe that Brown, by virtue of its history, has a special opportunity and obligation to foster research and teaching on the issues broached in this report, including slavery and other forms of historic and contemporary injustice, movements to promote human rights, and struggles over the meaning of individual and institutional responsibility. We recommend the establishment of a scholarly center dedicated to these questions. In February 2007, President Simmons issued an official University response to the report, stating the establishment of a “major research and teaching initiative on slavery and justice” as one of the University’s primary goals. To this end, the report authorized a new committee to decide on the “shape, cost, and scope” of the initiative, and recommended that fundraising begin “in order not to delay implementation.” More than three years later, fundraising has yet to begin and a director has yet to be named, leaving many to wonder what can explain the delay and who is ultimately accountable for this process. THE FIRST THREE YEARS
In Spring 2007, Provost Kertzer appointed ten faculty members to the Advisory Committee on a Slavery and Justice Initiative and named Economics professor Glenn Loury as committee chair. The committee was supposed to determine the specifics of the Center, but its recommendations were vague. The 2008 Advisory Committee report suggested that, depending on the vision of the director, the Center could address issues of human trafficking, crimes against humanity, genocide, political philosophy, mass incarceration, and “the history and contemporary manifestations of the idea of ‘race.’” The report recommended establishing a permanent endowment to support the institute, but it did little to define an actual budget, articulate perimeters for the Center’s intellectual scope, or to unite faculty in their vision of a Center. There does not appear to be any official University response to
this report, and several professors currently involved in looking for a response say that they’ve never heard mention of Loury’s report, let alone read it. There are conflicting versions of what happened next. Provost Kertzer claims that soon after the 2008 report came out, he asked Anthony Bogues, Kenneth Sacks, and Elliot Gorn, then the respective chairs of the Africana, History, and American Civilization departments, to begin searching for a director. However, Professor Bogues says that he, Sacks, and Gorn conceived of a joint search for a director, identified a candidate, and dedicated a tremendous amount of time and effort into convincing faculty, Provost Kertzer, and the Dean of the Faculty to follow through with this initiative. Other faculty members corroborate Bogues’ account. When asked why so much of the momentum had to come from individual faculty rather than the administration, History professor and director search committee member Seth Rockman explained that this is often the way things get done at an institution as big as Brown. “In a decentralized university,” says Rockman, “if you want to make stuff happen, you just have to go out and make it happen. Faculty members [have to look] for ways to short-circuit institutional hindrances.” By Spring 2010, the University had offered the job to the first-choice candidate that the three departments had selected: historian and activist Marcus Rediker. Despite the administration’s efforts to draw him to Brown, Rediker unexpectedly turned down the job last April citing personal reasons. Rockman calls Rediker’s decision “tragic,” reflecting: “[It’s been] hard to find a scholar who can bridge all the departments. You can find someone who knows a lot about the legacy and doesn’t know squat about what actually happened, and someone who has studied this historically but isn’t interested in the contemporary issues of legacy and public memory.” According to Rockman and others involved in the search committee, Rediker would have satisfied all the constituencies. FA L L 2 0 1 0
This summer and fall, a director search committee (now lead by Africana Studies chair Tricia Rose) relaunched their search, but its focus on finding an ideal director reveals the challenges of envisioning a Center. Rockman notes that circumstances of the involved departments—professors departing from the American Civilization department, Americanists retiring from the History department, and Africana Studies looking to attract candidates for its new graduate school—have shaped their agendas in relation to the Center. Since there is so little consensus about the focus and organization of the Center, the University is relying on finding a director who has the authority to shape a Center as he or she sees fit. History professor Michael Vorenberg, a director search committee member,
remains hopeful that this method will allow them to find a visionary director: “There are people who would be very attracted to the position, but some of those people would want a strong hand in shaping it, as opposed to trying to fit into an existing mold,” he says. “That means that [Brown] should be careful not to set the definitions and boundaries too clearly.” However, other members of the search committee take issue with this method. Professor of Africana Studies Corey Walker comments, “I think it is imperative for the university to have a coherent conception for what it imagines as a Center [before recruiting a director].” Rather than asking a candidate to formulate his or her own vision and then negotiate the Center’s scope and cost privately with the University, Walker says that there should be “a dialogue of visions from both the university and the director…to create a strong, viable teaching and research enterprise.” While the current amorphousness of a Center and the total lack of a budget or endowment may be attractive to some people, it could ultimately make establishing a Center more difficult. Some professors were willing to discuss their opinion of and involvement in this initiative but the majority of faculty I contacted refused to comment. It is clear that the momentum for much of this initiative has come from department chairs and been maintained by faculty, but the silences surrounding this process make it challenging to trace responsibility for its successes and setbacks. The official University response in February 2007 placed ultimate responsibility for the Center’s creation on the administration. In 2007, Simmons wrote: “The President and Provost will guide the process [of establishing a Center] in such a way that it does not fall prey to the bureaucratic hurdles that can delay implementation.” Provost Kertzer maintains that despite these bureaucratic hurdles, the economic downturn, and the disappointment of Rediker’s last-minute decision, the University is in fact deeply committed to a Center. He describes it as becoming an important space —both physically and intellectually—for the work of Brown undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, post-doc fellows, and researchers. When asked why there has been no fundraising for the Center to date, he explained: “although the President has let it be known among some of Brown’s financial supporters that this is going to be an important fundraising target, we are waiting for a founding di-
rector to help formulate the vision that will enable us to fundraise successfully… Given the fact that President Simmons sees this as an important priority and is so good at fundraising, I feel confident that this project will succeed.” President Simmons was not available for comment. THE MEANTIME
Despite frustrating setbacks and a lack of movement from the administration, there has been progress in the past few months; the search committee has narrowed its list of director candidates, and although committee members are unwilling to share information publicly, it appears that they are in the getting closer to making a choice. In the meantime, though, the energy that surrounded the 2006 Slavery and Justice Committee Report has faded, and the questions raised by the report—how histories of injustice permeate the present, what kind of scholarly and activist pursuits can emerge from knowledge of this past, how meaningful discussions about slavery, justice, race, privilege, and responsibility can happen on campus and in Providence—have yet to become ingrained in the undergraduate experience at Brown. Few students read the Report or know about the status of the University’s proposed initiatives, and the transience of the student body makes this kind of continuity almost impossible without a physical center to house this work and remind us of its importance. When asked what undergraduates are supposed to do while the University bureaucracy, departments’ agendas, and challenging circumstances slow the creation of a center, Rockman says that “there isn’t a centralized mechanism for this kind of work—basically, undergrads have to assume that there are existing places that are attuned to the importance of slavery and justice to the University, and pursue those.” With the help of President Simmons, Rockman set up the Slavery and Justice Undergraduate Research Award for undergraduates interested in presenting work related to these issues at a “Slavery and Capitalism” conference that Rockman is organizing jointly with Harvard for April 2011. When Rediker was still slated to be director, this conference was to coincide with the launch of Brown’s Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice. Now, though, it serves as a reminder of the potential for Brown to pursue these issues in a meaningful, rigorous way, and of the continued need for a center to consolidate and support these efforts. SAR AH GIBSON B’10.5 was the first redhead I made friends with at Brown.
Alm o Univ st ﬁve y e for a rsity st ears lat er, ill se dire arch ctor ing
A Brief History of Automotivation
by Maud Doyle Graphic by the author Design by Liat Werber
1 8 9 6 In
May of 1896, the Rhode Island State Fair Association announced $5,000 in prizes for a series of horseless carriage races. Only vehicles propelled by power other than animal—which is to say, inanimate—that could be demonstrated to run at least 15 miles per hour would be permitted to enter the race. The races would be held at Narragansett Park, a dirt trotting ground opened by Amasa Sprague in Cranston, RI. An article in the May 16, 1896 Scientific American said, “Racing of this kind has been attempted before, but never on so large a scale… Certainly no ‘infant industry’ was ever so coddled and fostered by the offer of large rewards; up to the present time the results in this country have not been worth the cost.” History suggests otherwise.
1 8 9 6 There had only been two horseless carriage races before the September races at Narragansett Park—one in Chicago, and one in New York City on May 30, 1896. Both of these earlier races had been road races through the city streets. As a result, neither had been “productive of fast or even moderate time.” According to The Scientific American, “The [Rhode Island] State Fair management realized the importance of giving inventors an opportunity to show what speed results can be obtained.” The September 7, 1896 race at Narragansett Park was possibly the first automobile race around a track in American history. The Riker Electric Carriage won first prize for the fastest mile, surprising a public that had already put its faith in petroleum and discounted the electric motor. The first race alone gathered some 5,000 spectators. One spectator wrote that while “the crowd that witnessed the race was very enthusiastic, but it was a strange sight to see the so-called ‘vehicle of the future’ taking the place of horses on the race track.”
1 93 4 The
original Narragansett Park, outside of Cranston, disappeared from history. In 1934, another trotting ground was opened in Pawtucket under the same name.
1 9 45 When
car ownership boomed following World War II, Providence grew desperately congested. In 1945, The Rhode Island Department of Public Works (RIDPW) came up with a plan for an expressway network to alleviate traffic.
A section of travel lanes strung between the Rhode Island-Connecticut border and Richmond, Rhode Island opened to traffic on December 12, 1955. In July 1958, another stretch of road opened between West Greenwich and West Warwick. The following year, both of these sections became part of the new Interstate Route 95. Traffic was alleviated and commutes
became faster and easier. Small shops closed when drivers began passing over local streets on overpasses and many individuals and business were displaced by the new highway.
1 9 60 ’s
By the 1960s, I-95 was well under construction. It was common practice for rascals and scallywags to build in the path of the highway, then sell their land to the RIDPW at a profit. Pawtucket city officials awarded a garbage contractor the right to build a garbage incinerator in the new highway’s path, forcing RIDPW to purchase the incinerator from the city and deal with pounds of waste.
1 978 In
1978, Narragansett Park closed when gamblers began abandoning horseraces for new forms of speculation. The only building left standing today is the grandstand, which has served as Building 19 1/9 discount retail store since the late 1980s.
1896 FORD MOTOR AUTOMOTIVE CAR
1896 1902 VICTOR STEAM CAR
1 93 4
1934 TWO-DOOR FORD SEDAN
1938 NISSAN PASSENGER CAR
1 9 47 1945 AUSTIN CAR
1 9 9 0 ’s
The “I-way” Project to relo cate a section of I-195 was taken on in the early 1990s. By moving I-195 south of the hurricane barrier, the elevated highways that cut through the Jewelry district could be relocated to the city’s periphery, opening up 35 acres of land. Eight acres have been set aside for public parks, 19.2 for development, and the rest will go to recreating the roads that had been destroyed by I-195. Politicians envision multi-use office buildings overflowing with high-paying jobs in the knowledge economy. City planners emphasize a return to the layout of the Jewelry District before it was cut up by the highway, waving 1937 maps of Providence before journalists and assuring a re-creation of historic street patterns.
1 9 60 ’s
1961 CHEVROLET IMPALA
1 9 60 ’s
1 974 AWESOME RED CAR
1 97 9 LINCOLN VERSAILLES
2 01 0 November
14, 2010: Google Maps recommends taking the I-195 to the I-95 to get from Bagel Gourmet to Providence Place. In the Future, electric cars will be out in force, and Downtown Provi dence, according to planners, will look much like the 1937 version of itself. But most of the neighborhoods dis turbed by the highways in the 1950s will remain untouched. Visitors will continue accidentally merging with the I-95 when trying to park at Providence Place. I-95 continues to cut through Providence, dividing the prosperous Downtown and East Side from the rest.
MAUD DOYLE B’11 does not have a license bexcause she does not know how to drive.
N O V E M B E R 18 2010 T H E C O L L E G E H I L L I N D E P E N D E N T
AN OPINION ON OPINIONS
So what constitutes an opinion? Perhaps an opinion is a kind of cobwebby toy, forgotten in the lumber-room of the mind, which, some day, you imagine your mother searching for. Or perhaps, an opinion is the product of a leap over the chasm of a hypothesis, or a resolution made in the midst of interminable doubt, presenting itself as a memory recovered—perhaps opinions, like tough bulbs, pack themselves under in childhood, and that error arises when children have forgotten they are children and play themselves as adults.
I wish that you would smile. We’ve met before, I’m sure–– You don’t recall? We chatted for a while. Is it dull, having seen it all, at the ripe young age of 21? I know you’re having a rough morning, But wasn’t last night fun? You must yearn for joy underneath–– Displeasure must be such a trial. Easier to part your lips and show your teeth, And break into a smile.
T H AY E R P E D E S T R I A N ZO N E ( T P Z )
The Oldsmobile has returned to its gated lair and the soccer Odyssey no longer haunts the daylight hours. In their place are longboard curves to make you weep and a fixie from a Nice-Slice wet dream. The pavement is spilled black coffee instead of skid marks. Once the sun falls behind the Biltmore, bikers stroll arm-in-arm to Tedeschi followed by lovers holding hands under the four stars of the Providence night. I want to be able to hear the dude playing John Coltrane on the corner. Let’s ban cars from Thayer Street and create the TPZ. R O B OT TA K E OV E R
In various periods throughout my life, I’ve referred to myself as a democrat, socialist, liberal, moderate, leftist, and progressive. But I’ve come to suspect recently that politically, I think my true political affiliation is as a robocrat. Robocracy, or government-run-by-robots, is not exactly a new idea; the idea gets posed in a lot of ‘50s and ‘60s science fiction by people like Isaac Asimov. When you get right down to it, humans are pretty flawed; and thus, all systems of governments run by humans have their problems. That’s why I intend to fully support the robot overlords when they decide it’s time to take over the world for our own benefit. T H E C E L LO
The cello is the greatest instrument. Because it is not especially portable, so the people who play it have to be dedicated enough to haul that shit around, and you will never be bothered by someone playing one on a subway. Because its name is practically onomatopoeic. Cell-o. Cell-o. Chills down your spine, every time. Because it’s deep and low and sexy, painful sexy, makes-you-cry sexy, because once the cello’s involved, you will be crying: the violin will yammer on the first date about his LSAT test prep classes; the viola will know how charming he is and be all too quick to slip that hand up your skirt; but the cello, oh, he’ll have you in tears, red and hot and raw. PS: LSAT test prep classes are bullshit; if you can’t do logic games on your own, I don’t want you to be my lawyer. S M E L L S L I K E H O L I DAY S P I R I T
It’s that time of year again. The red cups are out at Starbucks. As much as I love these tokens of holiday spirit (it is the only time of year I get my coffee from the yuppy chain) it’s too early! Red cups mean warmth against the frigid New England winter, and comfort, and joy. It is 61° today. Starbucks’ chairs aren’t even comfortable. And these cups are making me so mad that no way I could be joyful. It’s like Christmas carols—only to be listened to after Thanksgiving. From November 26 to December 25, red cups and carols are to be savored. Until then, you may don a pilgrim hat if you wish. TO P R E - A D U LT H OA R D E R S
Dear Students, please stop acquiring things. All you need in college is a futon. Maybe a skillet. You are on the move. You are going places. And you should not need a U-Haul to go to the places where you’re going. You are full of youthful creative energy––lash your goods to the roof of your friend’s suburban. Studio apartments don’t need dining room tables, or reading lamps, or, (least of all), potted plants. They catch dust. Your limbs are limber, eat on the floor. Your eyes are young, read in the dark. And you’re green enough as you are. Live large. Grow out your hair, trim down your horde. You are a student. You’re gonna make it. You’re a survivor. Keep on survivin’.
W H Y I S E V E RY H E A D L I N E F R A M E D A S A QUESTION?
Here are several of your current Slate headlines. “Could the Voting Rights Act Prevent Republicans from Redistricting as they Please?” “Why Didn’t Elizabeth Smart Run Away?” For especially curious jocks, “The State of the NFL” provides a choice of questions: “Is Instant Replay Over-used?” “Will Players Eventually be 600 Pounds?” and “Is the League Overprotective of Quarterbacks?’ For guys who love to print out articles for their girlfriends, “Why do women who have anal sex get more orgasms?” The Daily Beast, fresh off its merger with Newsweek (Daily Beast in 2009: Can the Re-launched Newsweek Survive?”) asks us, themselves, nobody, “Is Alaska’s Joe Miller Committing Political Suicide?” Even TheAtlantic. com has asked into the trend: “Does ‘Morning Glory’ Get Female Journalists Right?” As I understand it, one reads news to receive answers, not to be asked questions. So why all the uncertainty? Why not just, “Why Elizabeth Smart Didn’t Run Away”? Is online journalism just a big conversation with commenters, a town hall rather than a soap-box? Or is the editorial freedom of the online format simply more conducive to tougher questions and hence, more complex answers? Oh God, I’m doing it too, aren’t I? PRO BUSH
When I was in ninth grade, a group of giggling girls in my friend’s basement sat in a circle with their hands held up. “Never have I ever,” one began, “Had a bush.” I did know whether to put my finger down, as I did not know what a bush was, apart from the leafy ones in front of our porch, and they did not seem giggleworthy. When you are in ninth grade, you are fourteen. Fourteen-year-old girls extending their pop-culture antennas out and receiving the SHAVE-YOUR-ENTIRECROTCH message. This is a terrible message, because after the age of fourteen, you are no longer meant to have a baby smooth baby-crotch. You are meant to cultivate a lady crotch. This could mean waxing or shaving around the edges, keeping things trim. You might like it neat, manageable. A little smooth feels a little sexy. But hang onto some of that hair: keep those pheromones around, reduce damaging friction, and have a little lady-love. D I R T Y DA N C I N G
When I was thirteen, I learned yet another valuable lesson in the third floor bathroom of School of the Immaculate Sacred Heart Bleeding Child. Mary Catherine Leonard flipped on her Get Low RAZR ringtone and showed me how to grab my knees/ankles while simultaneously gyrating my underdeveloped behind. At four feet tall, it came naturally. Let your eyes drift out of focus, perhaps cross them a little, and make sure your lips are closed to cover your braces. Move your ass back and forth like a pendulum keeping time to the pulsing music. Eventually, if your movements align with the natural rhythm of the moon or St. Veronique of Sensualia or something, a mysterious magnetic force will begin to work and draw a prepubescent partner into the orbit of your round bottom. No luck? Blessings, you must be a dwarf planet. Your plexus is soo destined for the convent. S TAT E - S P O N S O R E D T E L E V I S I O N
CSPAN has got to go. We’ve got more pizzazz than that. Parliament sports such political gems as politicians making fun of one another’s junk. We got one caning, once, in 1856. We didn’t even have radio to get the raw viscous sound of the sucker-punches in! No wonder no-
body votes! Ah, yesteryear. Venezuelans get to watch their president go fucking fishing and cook steaks and yell at people and shit every Sunday on Alo Presidente. I would like to request an American analogue, perhaps called Chillin’ w. Obama. ASSHOLE
Please stop calling me an asshole. Just because I am loud, have an “abrasive” sense of humor, and a difficult time understanding precisely the nature and necessity of physical boundaries, doesn’t it mean it doesn’t REALLY HURT MY FEELINGS when I hear you be like “what an asshole.” Other words you shouldn’t call me: “dick” “douche” “bro” etc. Also, don’t call me juvenile, childish, or immature. Shitting your pants is childish. Joking about shitting your pants is hilarious. I only do the latter. Dollaz! Also, please stop calling me sexist just because I discuss my sexual urges with frankness. I am entitled to refer to my genitals, and her genitals, and what I want them to do to/with/w/r/t each other. Loudly. And in public. You complaining just means you love it. Dumbass. SEX
Why doesn’t anyone want to have sex with me? I am in college, and am pretty good at saying what I mean, and I do some neat extracurriculars (okay, model UN and yearbook I both did in high school, but slam poetry is new!). Plus, I am pretty good looking, especially when I take my glasses off and dress up a little. I don’t smell. I do all my homework. I love my family, and god. I want to be a teacher or a banker. Have sex with me. GUNS
It would be fine if we all carried guns around. We would just have to agree not to shoot each other. Cops have guns, and they have simply agreed not to shoot each other. Sometimes they shoot us, but that is because they are on a power trip re: having a sick badge. People without badges wouldn’t have that problem. Plus, as we know, guns are useful tools. You can shoot out the tire of a car that is speeding towards you, you can shoot through a padlock on a fence guarding a high security area. You can shoot out surveillance cameras. You can even wave a gun around to get the guy behind the counter to give you all the cash. I think it’s pretty selfevident that gun laws are unreasonable, and that more guns would be a good thing. PORN
I am really interested in porn aesthetics. Like, closeup, full visible penetration, loud moaning. Also, having things categorized by the age (young girls / young boys, old men and young girls, old men and young boys, old couple + young person, etc.) and race (blacks, asians, hispanics, and also white people). It’s good that porn isn’t too nuanced or too complicated. Just fucking raw and to the point. I also think that porn has a good order of operations, which is always simultaneously predictable and surprising (meeting/walking in on, undressing, oral, fucking, cumming all over each other). I am in favor of incorporating elements of porn aesthetics into all aspects of our every day lives, including but not limited to rap music, horror movies, internet memes, thriller novels, sporting events, snack food advertisements, and even political speeches. M I D N I G H T M OV I E S
Midnight movies are supposed to be for like, really hardcore fans. The kind who stay up EXTRA LATE to watch whatever’s coming out RIGHT WHEN IT’S COMING OUT, sooner than anyone else at least within their time zone. They buy tickets, dress up as a something, and wait in line talking about how early they bought tickets and how long they’ve been waiting in line. How much they’ve been inconvenienced by their devotion. But really, when they get out of the movie, it’s only like two or two thirty in the morning. Two thirty isn’t very inconvenient or hardcore at all. Midnight movies are easy; I’m pretty sure even a semi-casual fan could go like no big deal. I think they should change midnight movies to like, six am movies, or maybe five am. It really sucks to be awake at five am. People would have to go to bed at eight and wake up at four and it would be really terrible but then we’d see who the true fans really are.
I NFI N I T Y C A ROL S
Malls, Music, Black Friday, and the Advent of the Holiday Season
by Alex Spoto
very Black Friday, people die shopping. The holiday season hits full throttle on the day after Thanksgiving; it has become the high mass for an epoch of shopping—a pagan, natural beat in the yearlong rhythm of our lives. Whether it’s going to be one of the biggest sales days this year or not won’t keep people from engaging in the ritual of frenzied consumerist Bacchanalia. Trees sprout up in unnatural places decked with lights and garlands, oversized stockings hang expectantly, and America’s faces are cheerily softened with snowy gauze and festive sparkle. Tastes change. Every holiday shopping season, there is some new “musthave” and a new record number of people trampled. But the holiday aesthetic is a static one—it plays off of nostalgia and familiarity: Christmas trees, Santa Claus, and most importantly, Christmas carols and holiday music. Each year there are slightly altered incarnations, but getting into the spirit often means engaging with that which is most recognizable. Consumer products—from the paper cups at Starbucks to limited edition candies—are the archetypal sites of seasonal transformations: everything you’ve ever loved (or hated) about the holidays is wrought into an all-encompassing aesthetic. Insular though they may be, every town has a mall—concrete, tangible altars on which to converge and channel consumers’ desires. There is still a week to go before Thanksgiving, but the mall and many of its stores are already flirting with shoppers, flaunting signs of the holiday season in anticipation of the ultimate consumerist climax: Black Friday. From that day on, both the stores and their customers ride this economy-defying, frenzied wave of retail pleasure until the big day finally arrives... I T ’ S B E G I N N I N G TO S O U N D A LOT L I K E C H R I S T M A S
Mid-November, Providence Place Mall is already dripping with white icicle lights, silver garlands, and shining red bulbs. The holiday decorations hang down from the ceiling through the many levels to create this top-down command over the mall’s most public spaces with a cohesive, all-encompassing Christmas cheer. Some of the most hard-hitting holiday symbolism comes through music. For all of the heavy-handed advertisement and decoration, perhaps the Christmas songs and sounds are what really bring the season’s spirit to life. As the carol goes: It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas/ Soon the bells will start/ And the thing that will make them ring/ Is the carol that you sing/
Illustration by Thom Finley
Right within your heart/ Stores’ background music is typically a good barometer to determine how “Christmas-y” a particular store is, and each business transitions into the season at a different pace. Muffled, thumping bass emanates from the dark entrance of Abercrombie & Fitch. For those brave enough to enter the maw-like storefront despite the music’s volume, smoke machines, and everpresent musk (I think this is a man-perfume available for purchase), the music reveals itself to be a deep-bass club mix of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” It’s unclear what the marketing strategy here is. The way the A&F mix sequences the lyric “merry little” into an electronic blowup evokes conflicting sentiments of fireside, family-friendly nostalgia and a sticky-floored frat party. Many stores do a ‘soft’ transition into Christmastime. This means they hold off on overt Christmas-themed advertising slogans and mood music, but put up some initial decorations and dress the front windows in wintery reds, whites, and greens. For example, Macy’s—a more traditional department store—was teeming with Christmas decorations but was a mess of sound with several conflicting musical styles. Every ten racks there seemed to be some different kind of music playing. Pants had a different soundtrack than shirts, but neither contained a single carol or holiday tune. One employee at Macy’s said, “it’s a mix for now, but it’s still a little bit too early.” The holiday music is turned on for only some of the time. J. Crew has held off on holiday music entirely. The store gets its music from the “multi-sensory” branding agency auspiciously named “DMX,” and the CD full of trendy Christmas music hasn’t arrived yet, according to an employee. Justice, a tweeny-pop glitter mart, has yet to roll out any sign of Christmas outside of some hamster dolls in Santasuits. Places that have an unmistakable brand, like the Apple Store, coolly allude to Christmas gift-buying rather than stooping to store-wide transformations. Williams & Sonoma, on the other hand, waits until Thanksgiving comes to a close before kicking off Christmas. Since the store’s business centers on food, it milks Thanksgiving for all it’s worth. “Other stores transition gradually. We do it all at once,” said Taylor, an employee at the Providence Place location. On Thanksgiving, the “visual team” stays until two AM to transform the store into Christmas overnight. A fresh regiment of Williams & Sonoma employees arrive at four AM on Black Friday to meet the masses of shoppers. “You’ll definitely hear the sleigh bells if you come in here on the day after Thanksgiving,” Taylor said. It’s difficult to gauge what makes the most inviting transition into the season: a polite courtship with Christmas decorations and holiday tunes, or waking up one morning to find every corner of your workplace glittering and jingling. MA XIMUM CHRISTMAS
One place that is required to push the Christmas Spirit 100 percent is the sea-
sonal store—obligatory in every mall. At Providence Place, the store is a decoration in and of itself—a shop set up only for the last two months of the year. It’s called “A Christmas To Remember,” designated by not-quite-permanent signage festooned atop the store’s entrance. The inventory is full and festive. Garlands, nutcrackers, snow globes and baubles flesh out the shelves. The music has a contemporary beat—it lends a strident energy to the inventory of Christmas basics, hitting on the canon of Christmas carols but using some unlikely renditions. A Christmas To Remember is, in fact, a chain, and its parent company gets music and sends it to store managers on a CD to play throughout the season. This branch’s manager said he’s actually been at Providence Place since before Halloween, helming the previous incarnation of seasonal store. He admitted, “music is a huge part of any retail business.” For Halloween, the store would play “spooky sounds” until around six PM, when they would opt for the “younger stuff ”—”younger stuff ” being the kind of thing you hear on top 40 radio—and that’s when the best customers stop through: “girls come in, and it gets them in the groove for the club.” As one could imagine, A Christmas To Remember has a different target market than the previous season’s Halloween store. “When people walk in the door, we hit them with scents, the evergreen smells, and music…Music gets the emotions going, and it gets people thinking about where they were last Christmas and what they’re going to be doing for this Christmas,” he says. The aggressive Christmas branding is working to create a sense of continuity amongst Christmases—a feeling of timelessness. The looped CD of Christmas music creates an infinity carol: stores make sure you don’t forget what month it is and that Santa Claus is coming. The Christmas continuity doesn’t just go from year to year, but store to store as you stroll through the mall. HEARING: THE SENSE CAN’T TURN OFF
Parent companies and branding agencies such as DMX and the Muzak corporation (the colloquial term for canned
music is actually the name of the first company to make the stuff ) force a holiday soundtrack throughout nationwide chains. For example, DMX provides branding for many of Providence Place’s stores: Levi’s, J. Crew, Lucky Brand, Guess?, Foot Locker, the Pottery Barn… The stores all have different fronts—different brands mean different music—but when the holidays roll around, the stores are merely playing different versions of the same carols. Banding together the world’s background music under holiday-themed tracks affirms the regularity of unabashed over-commercialization. Traditionally, Christmas caroling involves standing on the threshold of a neighbor’s door and delivering warmhearted cheer. In a sick inversion, a mob of shoppers broke down the locked door of a Long Island Wal-Mart on November 28, 2008 and trampled a temporary employee, Jdimytai Damour, to death while he was trying to maintain order during a Black Friday sale. Eleven other people were injured. Holiday over-commercialization often results in absurd and dangerous circumstances. As the season approaches, decorations go up, and adcirculars get printed, it will be the music that gets piped through the marketplace that ties the fast-paced chaos together. The same songs will be revisited and reinvented, working as an historical adhesive, cohering each year’s holiday season together with a semse of heightened nostalgia. On December 25, the stores will seize up in shopping silence—the seasonal turning point—only to awake the next day in an apocalyptic after-Christmas comedown—a deluge of red and green liquidation and desperation. Stores try to hang on to a sense of festivity through gift returns and marked down sales, and the retail market is mired with flotsam and jetsam made up of unused baubles and wreath-bits. It’s not until New Years that consumers and retailers alike can regain their dignity and practice sober economics. Christmastime is a life-stage for the mall, a period of metamorphosis during which the consumer-realm cocoons, molts, and is reborn at the beginning of the New Year. ALEX SPOTO B’11’s favorite: “Blue Christmas”
N O V E M B E R 18 2010 T H E C O L L E G E H I L L I N D E P E N D E N T
BY ELI SCHMITT GRAPHIC BY THE AUTHOR DESIGN BY LIAT WERBER
Q: WHAT IS THANKSGIVING AND HOW CAN WE DO IT? A: suffer, suffer, suffer As November grinds onwards, children in elementary schools are asked to say, or write down, what they are thankful for. The times when they have felt truly thankful, when they have conjured the quiet, outward-yet-specific goodwill that is thanks, are probably incidents they cannot yet talk about well—receiving a comforting embrace after being bullied, being bandaged after a scrape. So inevitably, they will cough up the platitudes they have already heard: I am thankful for my family. My cat. My video game console. Perhaps those of them who have gone without families, and then gotten them back will be able to actually be thankful for the presence of a family. But their expression of thanks will sound like everyone else’s, and as such will be lost in the cute, effectively phatic lull. What’s dissatisfying about the obvious what-we-are-thankful-for question and answers—physical and emotional well-being, relative socio-economic comfort, loved ones—is not that they are wrong, or merely hackneyed. It’s that they somehow skip over what the holiday of Thanksgiving is about. Everyone knows what to be thankful for. It is thanks itself, the means to it, and the mechanisms therein, that need to be elucidated.
D O N ’ T J U S T TA L K ; D O S T U F F
The problem with any emotional ritual is that—unless the feelings are codified in conventions such that we need not articulate them personally (a wedding provides a good example of this, unless you are silly enough to write your own vows)—we have to bring that which is private into public language. I do not mean to argue that saying something out loud is a bad way to make it more palpable. A lover will tell another lover I love you, and the effect is tangible and meaningful. But this, again, is relatively private. The lovers know how they treat each other, know how they attend to each other, and this knowledge can concretize the language. Public acts of thanks usually lack this kind of nuance through application. A kind parent telling her family that she is thankful for them is not a remarkable instantiation of her kindness, much in the same way that an unkind parent expressing thanks for his family does not redress his wrongs simply by saying he is grateful. This lead-in, however, is perhaps misleading. The problem with thanks is not simply that it is hard to articulate it publicly. This problem with articulation merely edges towards the more profound problem, which is how exactly to
become thankful such that you might have something meaningful to articulate. When the holiday comes, we sit down together to pay lip-service to the institution of gratitude, but gratitude itself happens out-of-sight, and away from language. Whence it comes, how it comes, is mysterious. Giving thanks is conditional; that is, it is a condition. It is as Aristotle says of virtue, an active condition of the soul. Taking-things-for-granted may be a passive condition rather than an active condition, but it still pervades your every behavior. It follows then that the same should be true of its opposite; thankfulness should be a pervasive condition, an everyday behavior. Aristotle also says, on the topic of virtue, that an unjust man wishing to be just is like a sick man wishing to be well. Following this analogy, an ungrateful person does not come to be thankful by saying thanks on Thanksgiving. The condition is something practiced over time, grown into, and understood. It is, like any trait, to be cultivated, inculcated, ingrained. T R I A L S A N D T R I B U L AT I O N S
There is a tradition in Western cultural narratives of suffering, tribulation, and hardship as definitive aspects of the path
to success. The hero must journey, the righteous man must suffer. And for all of our contemporary postmodern northeastern bourgeois decadence, we have not abandoned this attachment to suffering as part of a success narrative. One need merely look at popular film to see that we are most drawn to characters, see them most vividly, and empathize most intensely with them when they suffer. In ‘serious’ films, the kinds that are considered for Oscars, protagonists almost always become their own personal Job, suffering wild brutality in order to be able to say, at the end, I am still here, I am alright. I bring up popular film as an example because the one thing that almost all popular films have in common is their happy endings. The protagonist finds happiness, or becomes happy, after suffering. They know their happiness because they have seen the opposite. This knowledge of one’s happiness I think is perhaps our best model for what thanks actually looks like. The narrative is important to us culturally, and can be traced back to our national origin myth, namely that of the Pilgrims. The Pilgrims were driven people in funny hats, benevolent expatriates, who suffered in Britain and suffered on the way over here, ill and on horrible boats in endless unforgiving seas. They arrived and they knew not what to do, but they received help, and they suffered less then, and they knew they had come home, so they gave thanks. Lincoln codified Thanksgiving as a national holiday in 1863, after some of the bloodiest parts of the Civil War. In his proclamation on the matter, he said: And I recommend to them [the thanksgivers] that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged. With a penitence almost Judaic in its ferocity, we come to see that at the very least, a thanks-giving act as conceived
historically cannot merely involve acknowledging the plight of the wretched, but require existing in proximity to it, perhaps having it as your own plight. More like a Hebrew seder, Thanksgiving in Lincoln’s mind involved lament as well as hope, celebration tempered by sober reflection on the real possibilities for human suffering. And intuitively, this makes sense. The warmth of the hearth is nicer in the winter because it’s a refuge. A shower is more pleasurable after being truly filthy. Food tastes better when you’re hungry.
S U FFE R I N G I N G RO U P S
Our relationship to communal suffering, as Americans, is convoluted. Public suffering—suffering that is widely recognized to have happened to many of us—is almost always marshaled strategically, and usually exploited ruthlessly, for rhetorical purposes. The Holocaust has become a cliché. September 11 is well on its way. A knock-knock joke I recently heard goes: a: knock-knock b: who’s there? a: 9/11 b: 9/11 who? a: i thought you said you’d never forget To be offended by the joke is to misunderstand what it mocks. The joke is funny because it literalizes the flimsy language of the bumper stickers, flags, lighters, and shot-glasses that proliferated after the horror of the actual event. It acknowledges that the language which not only citizens but public figures and politicians used to speak of the event was not unlike that of elementary school children predictably giving thanks, in line with a set of codified conventions. Our soupy national political discourse has appropriated the event into a kind of fuck-yeah-America-jam-fest. This gives such an instance of suffering a weird bleed with a Holiday like Thanksgiving, as it’s practiced, where instead of meditating, we masturbate. Events of mass trauma affect us culturally, but they do not happen to all of us. Thanksgiving is a national holiday, but we don’t all give thanks for the same things. One whose house has been destroyed by a hurricane will have a different Thanksgiving than one whose house is about to be foreclosed. We can see these things on television, and if we try hard and think a lot, we can become effectively politically active around them; and then maybe we can give thanks in relation to them, or in spite of them. But they don’t become ours without effort. The Thanksgiving myth and the rhetoric of Lincoln refer to a kind of communal suffering, which is not legible, or made legible, by our national discourse (and by this I mean quite practically, news media, political rhetoric, and internet commentary therein). But private suffering is different. Critic Elaine Scarry points us to the obvious but also bizarre fact that when one person in a room is in ferocious physical pain, another person in the room can have no idea. It is this trait of pain, Scarry argues, its insistent subjectivity, that enables one person in a room to torture another. Suf-
fering, even non-physical, is perhaps better understood like Scarry’s intensely private pain than like the gaudy public grief around national tragedies. The curious thing about suffering is that it relates, at best, quite weirdly, to time and memory. Demonstrating the weird prescience of the 9/11 knock-knock joke, Philosopher Hannah Arendt notes that the most definitive aspect of physical pain is that you can experience it with such great intensity, but will always be unable to conjure up the exact memory of the physical experience after the fact. One of the things language helps us do is conjure these memories—language can describe pain, such that we feel what we felt emotionally at the time we suffered physically. But it cannot make the pain itself come back. Thus, at least with physical suffering, we cannot simply conjure a memory in order to re-live the agony, and then be thankful afterwards. So even if we understand that suffering and gratitude are tied up, that in order to have thanks, you also have to have been in pain, there is still a problem. Gratitude, we said, was an active condition, a way of being in the world. But pain, as we saw above, is a way of being out of the world; it is private. And what’s more, it occurs in specific instances, specific moments in time, and then it goes away, and is hard to remember exactly. Gratitude as a public, national sentiment can be made recognizable and compelling in the speeches of orators. But pain is harder to politicize. Outside of small collectives of people who have suffered together (c.f. the pilgrims), it is harder to recognize at all.
S U FFE R I N G
This past summer, when my car broke down in a mid-sized city in western Wisconsin, I had occasion to ride in the cab of a disgruntled ex-grad student in philosophy. He was excited to discover my dilettantish interest in philosophy, and accordingly pontificated on a variety of subjects while he drove me from auto-shop to motel to bus-station and back again. One of his rants was a general diagnosis of why we are unhappy. People in modernity, he explained, only understand how to desire objects that they don’t have. We strive for things we want, but once we have them, they no longer interest us. As he began to explain the ways in which this was a symptom of the deterioration of humanity in late capitalism, my mind drifted. It is true that I had been less excited about driving across the country once I was actually doing it. The first leg of my road-trip was hazy and boring. I thought that perhaps I only became excited to drive again when my car broke down, and that once I was on the road again, it would still be boring. But after the panic of losing my vehicle, and being truly stuck in, what to me was the most ungodly of places (the rural Midwest) being able to drive again was a blessing, a gift disproportionately more gratifying than it had been when I started. One thing that happens when we experience pain, to which both Scarry and Arendt almost allude, is that we suddenly become intense witnesses to ourselves. Ludwig Wittgenstein, a philosopher of language wrote: “It can’t be said of me at all, except perhaps as a joke, that I know I am in pain.” His point is that to be in
pain is to know, that to say what he says above would be a wild redundancy. We can take from Wittgenstein perhaps that suffering need not be an end in itself, as in some primitive ascetic practice, but rather a means to a kind of intense presence, something jarring and ephemeral that vividly reminds us of ourselves and our needs. Ignoring the slightly problematic conflation of suffering generally and physical pain (which is ultimately, in its ferocity and intangibility, a really good metaphor for suffering generally) it’s worth returning to the pontification of the sage midwestern cab-driver. The inability to desire what we have, our pursuit of endless consumption, derives from intense focus on the self. Acutely aware of one’s own striving, the real and the ideal never coalesce. Considering this within the context of how we celebrate Thanksgiving illustrates the holiday’s almost comical nonsensicality. How can we possibly consider what we are thankful for by being indulgent? Once we have immense quantities of delicious food in front of us, we simply worry about calories, complain about having to be around our relatives, and hope that someone else will wash the dishes. The intense presence and self-awareness that derives from suffering is perhaps similar to the intense self-absorption of the upper-middle class postmodern bourgeois subject. Our focus on the next thing, on eternally striving, is the behavior of a person whose present condition can offer them nothing; it is the behavior of someone suffering. Weirdly though, we avoid suffering, thinking about suffering, or dealing with suffering. Non-fiction writer Barbara Ehrenreich describes, in an extensive book about the tyranny of positive thinking in contemporary America, how many awful things, from the plight of breast cancer patients to the plight of the unemployed, are treated with a deluded, weirdly aggressive optimism. Suffering, and saying, “I am suffering” is out of fashion. As was described above, we have relegated the importance of ‘bad’ experiences being actually bad to movies and history books. But this ideological (Ehrenreich’s notion) positivism, this active denial of anything negative, and the unsatisfiable self-absorbtion of the upper-middle class bourgeois post-modern, are both kinds of survival mechanisms. They seem both well-suited to people who are in a condition of unpleasantness, who need to get past whatever it is ailing them, to be fixed, to be better, to move on, to get on with it, to git’r’done.
Our positivism and our myopic drivenness are a strange amalgam, because they seem to be coping mechanisms without necessary symptoms, crisis mentalities that don’t need a crisis. These correlate with the “never forget” problem; we reify communal suffering into meaningless rhetorical gems, and thus disappear it entirely. And this is the problem with Thanksgiving. Culturally, we rhetoricize our plural suﬀering into cliché, and are constantly living our personal lives in such a way as so to push our suffering to the side, even if there’s no substantial suffering to be pushed. The consumption of an enormous meal and reminders of what’s good about our lives cannot jar us into being thankful because we are used to living as though we already suffered. If anything, overeating and feeling guilty are ominously congruous with hyper-positive, constant movingpast-the-present that Americans practice. We do practice Thanksgiving in a way that makes sense. It’s just not the right way to practice it if we actually want to do what we say we are doing. As was said above, gratitude is for always. Suffering happens in instances, and then pricks through the surface of memory in moments of poignancy. And Thanksgiving is a holiday. We do it once a year. We gather together to perform a ritual, to attempt the terribly difficult task of sharing an experience—of pluralizing a moment of intense subjectivity. Which opens the question of the possibility of re-ritualizing Thanksgiving. If what we would like to do is have a holiday where people give thanks earnestly and effectively, where people experience pain such that they come into thanks the way the a blood-stained hero at the end of a schlocky hollywood ‘prestige piece’ does, we should get rid of the turkey and cranberry and pumpkin, and just fast. Instead of having children talk about what they are thankful for, we should have them meditate privately about what’s hardest, what’s worst, about the most damaging, desperate times they’ve known. Perhaps we can say the holiday takes place in Autumn for a different reason than is conventionally believed. Fall is the season of harvest, but also more palpably to us now, the season where natural things die. In secular terms, the thing everyone is most thankful for is simply not being dead. When we look at the leaves rotting in damp heaps on the ground we can reaffirm our own resistance to becoming corpses, we can know that we are not rotting on the ground. If we don’t eat, if we conjure an unpleasantness greater than merely nagging dissatisfaction, if we can align ourselves with Lincoln’s “widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers” perhaps we can actually give thanks, actually conjure gratitude in some meaningful way, not as once-a-year gesture, but as way of being a person among other people. And if we’re successful, maybe we can render ourselves actually deserving of presents once Christmas rolls around.
ELI SCHMITT B’11 is insistently subjective.
I N T RODU C T ION TO PH Y TO SO C IOLOGY Letâ€™s consider a fundamental dichotomy in thought and structure: the gap between hierarchy and diffusion. We are already familiar with both. Hierarchy we know in two ways: the vertical construction from God to man, and after the Enlightenment, the vertical construction from manâ€™s intellect to the world. Later we encounter diffusion, the explosion of culture and identity, the spontaneous and arbitrary connection of all forms between humans and Earth, the destruction of Chinese Walls, inter- and intra-net connections, what many have called the rhizome. Hence, we attempt to reconcile the two, to consider how hierarchy can fuse with swiftly moving quantum links. In a word: the synthesis of the vertical tree and the rhizome. We can speak of the rhizome in its components: >> Counterposition to root-tree systems. >> Anti-causality, anti-chronology, anti-narrativization. >> No specific vertices of origin, no (0,0,0), not in search of the sundial, but rather considerations of light, shadow, and wind velocities. >> Hence, the analysis of multiple asymptotic strands, shapes produced by underlying confluences rather than total sum conclusions. >> Has no beginning or end; always in the middle, between things, interbeing, intermezzo. In Opposition: what is the most fundamental appearance of hierarchy? On spaceship Earth, in its contained system, there is an inevitable law of gravity. Gravity hopelessly requires some hint of order, a reference to farther in (greater gravity) and farther out (lesser). Even Milles Plateaux (and every other book or form) finds itself bound by chapters, cover, back cover. Until the time when the words are plastered and burned into every street, wall, and jungle (i.e. Armageddon), we must consider its semblances of hierarchy. We resort to another structure: phytosociology. That is, the total integration of plant ecosystems, the existence of multiple rhizomes: rhizomatic layering. Rhizome ordering. The explosion as it occurs on axes. Refer to the structural taxonomy of the rainforest, its schizophrenia and its capacity to be understood, the floor, midway, canopy, points of emergence. At the root level we have termite colonies, earthworm gentrification, aquifers; at the ground we have tapirs, groundshrubs, orchidaceae, succulent cacti; the true canopy contains epiphytic plants, trunks, branches; the remaining area: howler monkeys, quetzals, tucans, platform villages, constellations, etc.
by Adrian Randall and Emily Martin
WOR K OF A RT: T H E NEXT
G R E AT A RT I ST
When Reality TV meets artistic discourse by Amy Lehrburger For a genre of mainstream entertainment, reality television is certainly large, and contains multitudes. In the last decade and a half, television producers have plumbed every corner of Real Life for watchable content. Singers, chefs, celebrities who can’t dance, cops, mothers with problem children—all have had their moment in the sun. Bravo, a cable network owned by NBC, has demonstrated a knack for the reality TV subgenre of professional competition. Using a standard structure
artists and critics spoke out against the show to preserve a fantasy upon which the majority of the contemporary art market relies: that art is pure, autonomous, creative expression and that there are only a few people in the world—a critical elite—who can tell whether art is good or bad. T U N I N G I N , LO G G I N G I N
The show itself is as enjoyable as any reality television program—you’re either the kind of person who TiVo’s it or you’re not. But the conversation that it spawned was more substantive than any surrounding Project Runway or Shear Genius. The Work of Art Facebook page exploded with petty, but prolific, commentary throughout the course of the show, gathering momentum during the season.
from Art World outsiders, people who wouldn’t normally be privileged to participate in the meta-critical debate. As the episodes aired this summer, Saltz diligently related his experience filming and then re-watching Work of Art along with the general public on a New York Magazine blog. In his recaps, he offers personal insights into the dynamic of the show’s cast, sprinkling the commentary in references to the MoMA and Sol LeWitt. The reflections on nymag. com have hundreds of comments. So do the hyperlinks to them on his Facebook page. Of course, some of this conversation is he-said-she-said,5 but some of it is rich critique.6 Viewers share opinions on the actual art: whether they like it, why they like it, what it’s about anyway. In one of Saltz’s last posts, he calls these mixed threads the “edge of criticism”— the outskirts of the realm of art criticism that is “serious but not sacred.”7 Bringing fine art to television calls for a familiarly casual conversation about the program, de-sacralizing artistic discourse for anyone with cable. A LT E R N AT E R E A L I T Y T V
(pretty host, famous judges, British mentor, dramatic contestants, contrived challenges, gradual elimination, and of course: grand prizes), Bravo has produced near countless professional competition programs. This past summer, Sarah Jessica Parker’s production company Pretty Matches premiered Bravo’s newest competition series: Work of Art: The Next Great Artist. Fourteen eager contestants were pitted against each other over the course of ten episodes in competition for the grand prize: $100,000 and a solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. Not surprisingly, the Art World proper took offense. Critics of the show (a drove of purists: artists, critics, and tastemakers) begged the junk culture factory of formulaic reality programs to keep its hands to itself. That art could be made under the same conditions as dresses (from recycled material!) or cakes (for vegan celebrity judges!) was seen as fundamentally preposterous.1 However, most attacks on the show were thinly veiled—and in some cases, embarrassed—yelps of self-defense. Real-life
Users posted reactions after every episode, griping about perceived injustices to favorite contestants. Cathy Cooper wrote on August 6 at 11:04 AM, following the penultimate episode, “Jackie is a talentless climber. Miles is a shallow technician. Abdi needs to bust his cherry. Nicole got robbed. And Peregrine needs to win just cuz the weirdos need to be represented.”2 Work of Art’s first season’s judges were Bill Powers, the handsome co-owner of Half Gallery in New York, Jerry Saltz, husband to Roberta Smith and New York Magazine art critic, and Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, self-proclaimed “tastemaker” and founder of Salon94. Art World insiders blogged their damndest to excommunicate these high-profile judges who had committed the lowbrown crossover. Saltz complained, “People in the art world keep pulling me aside at openings and earnestly whispering, “Jerry, please stop.”3 In response, the formerly well-respected judges all defended their right to cross the high-low divide. Powers, in an interview with W.M. Akers of the Observer hypothesized “If Andy Warhol were alive today, he’d be an executive producer of reality television.”4 This fairly mundane bickering occurred as the series unfolded. What makes any of this chatter exciting are interjections on Facebook and blogpost comments
For almost a decade, reality television programs have been experimenting with how to draw viewers into immersive multimedia experiences. American Idol relies heavily on audience voting; web-exclusive video clips lure audiences to show websites. The online discussion surrounding Work of Art is evidence of its audience’s more active use of the internet to enhance their television habit. It speaks to the fact that professional competition television is addictive for two reasons, regardless of whether or not contestants produce anything ‘good.’ First, it’s informative. Work of Art educates its audience with content: technique, vocabulary, and materials. Second, it’s a platform for viewers to experiment with opinions. All reality television amplifies the audience’s critical power. Work of Art invites couch criticism from a demographic that would never walk into Gagosian Gallery and say, “That doesn’t work for me.”8 The online exchange demonstrates a ‘conversation for the sake of conversation’ without thought as to whether one’s vote counts in the ultimate outcome of the program. It’s an experimentation with personal opinions liberated by the semi-anonymous, semi-
intelligent space of the internet. Rather than an accurate reflection of real life, reality television is the collective imagining of an alternate, less rational world. It’s a creative hypothesis of what sort of art and what sort of conversation about that art—a culture would have if artists all lived together in a fancy loft and had only two days and two hundred dollars to make shocking art.9 It’s a watch-and-see experiment about what happens when husbands trade wives, when strangers go Lord-of-The-Flies on a desert isle, when neighbors redecorate each others’ living rooms. Reality television is a guess at what dinner would be like if every night, home cooks opened up a basket with a secret ingredient inside.10 It begs viewers to form opinions on these potential realities, and those attitudes affect their taste and behavior. T H E N E X T N E X T G R E AT A R TIST
Following harsh criticism, Jerry Saltz posted a Facebook note oﬀering seven reasons as justification for his role on Work of Art.11 The first one speaks to this fantasy dimension/dementia of reality television. “For me, the show was an interesting thing to try.”12 For the producer, the network, the contestants and the viewers alike the show was exactly that, and interesting enough to try again. Work of Art has been renewed for a second season. This past Monday, Jerry Saltz posted the news on his Facebook wall: “The prod. co. called me but not Bravo which ‘reserves rights to alter format/ participants.’ I ran afoul of their legal dept. last season for all my writing on the show. Anyway, I plan to say YES if...asked. If you HONESTLY think I should say NO - tell me WHY, seriously.”13 This vague allusion to legal restrictions on public commentary raises suspicions as to whether the Art World could ever democratize in the capitalist realm of cable television. Regardless, within 24 hours, there were 233 comments answering Saltz with a resounding YES. The plugged-in public wants more positing of artistic prestige on reality game shows, whether or not it erodes the much-loved ideology of artistic genius and critical elite. AMY LEHRBURGER B’10.5 is awaiting friend conﬁrmation from Jerry Saltz.
1 Art critic Linda Yablonsky writes: “It’s just that I didn’t much like seeing my profession represented as a self-important and superficial practice. http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/tag/work-of-art/ 2 http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/WorkofArt/posts/146665058683722 3 http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2010/07/jerry_saltzs_work_of_art_recap_3.html 4 http://www.observer.com/2010/culture/almost-famous-bill-powers-braves-art-world-reality-tv, The What Would Warhol Do argument might stand; In 1966, Warhol produced what might arguably be the first piece of “reality TV.” Chelsea Girls, a whopping 3 ½ hour long film, is a split-screen documentary of women and various acquaintances living in the Chelsea Hotel. 5 Juliar87 on 07/15/2010 at 12:29am “as much as i am glad Eri”k” is gone...I couldn’t agree more with what he said about MILES. Someone needs to make a mixed media piece of miles sucking from an art world teet. yeah, i said it.” http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2010/07/jerry_saltzs_work_ of_art_recap_3.html 6 Elias Nebula on 07/28/2010 at 11:26pm “Miles’s idea of maleness as a punched hole in a wall was almost as obvious as the heaven/hell diptych if you ask me.” http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2010/07/jerry_saltzs_work_of_art_recap_5.html 7 http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2010/08/jerry_saltzs_work_of_art_final.html 8 Work of Art’s tag exit phrase is: “Your work of art didn’t work for us.” 9 Episode 4 is titled “A Shock to the System:” No joke. “The artists are challenged to create a piece that is shocking and memorable, and speaks to issues that are important to them personally” http:// www.bravotv.com/work-of-art/season-1/a-shock-to-the-system 10 I’m thinking Wife Swap, Survivor, Trading Spaces, and Chopped, respectively. 11 145 people like this. 282 people commented on this. 12 Other reasons Saltz outlined included: “The show is not the main thing I do” and “Each of us uses what we have, hopefully for rightous [sic] purposes.” http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/ notes/jerry-saltz/we-contain-multitudes-a-few-words-about-work-of-art/285101609966 13 http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/permalink.php?story_fbid=163921153647596& id=716179266
The chthonic marsh has been filled over to make way for an orderly suburb where people live in identical houses with identical and orderly fenced in backyard boxes where they will never see the stars at night. When they look up and see only the hazy purple of the light-polluted sky looming over them, do they feel the same connection with what lies beyond, that our human ancestors devoted so much to? The precessions and cycles of the heavens, once personified, now carry only the signifiers of their former mythological depth. Their movements have been calculated and recorded, their meanings all but forgotten, their light blocked out by street lamps stamped onto the landscape in regular interval. Modern urbanity lives in a conceptual grid, a system based on a scientific framework of precision, one that depends upon the measured unit for the constitution of reality. Our minds are trained to work within it, systematizing our existences based on principles put forth by the discourses of science. In this way the institutions of civilization we have created in turn create us. We are limited by our linguistic construction of the world through privileged binary oppositions—relationships defined by the
tensions of polarity between light/dark, sun/moon, right/left, man/woman, good/evil. As a culture we privilege the experience of the left hemisphere, valuing its ordered and systematic approach to the information it perceives as rational while we relegate the right and its non-syntactic reality to the world of creativity and the irrational. The cognitive system of opposition holds itself together by a failure to integrate, to blend order and chaos, finds expression in the Judeo-Christian creation myth wherein mankind is cut out of nature, where the feminine is cut out of mankind. This ideology structures modern Western reality on the basis of our exclusion as human beings from the essential primal bond we share with the natural world as animals. The conventions of industrialized society depend on the repression of this link, the banishment of primeval mythopoeic cognition from the civilized, conscious psyche. Michel Maﬀesoli, a French sociologist who deals with the imagination and everyday life in urban society, predicted that once the geared infrastructure of modernity began its slow decline societ-
ies would adopt a nostalgic outlook and reach into the distant past for smallscale systems making the postmodern era one of neotribalism. This longing on the part of industrialized western society found expression in the art of the primitivists and has become thoroughly enmeshed in pop culture thanks to the Western, ubiquitous tribal tattoos and the widespread corporate textile appropriation that serves us “Afrika”-themed prints skintight to the bodies of lithe white women. Our postcolonial reality calls for the deconstruction of the modern desire for our deep past, detangling it from the exotification, decimation and generalization of the other that defined half a millennium. Coco Fusco and Guillermo GómezPeña put themselves and this dichotomy on display with their performance piece “Undiscovered Amerindians,” in which they portrayed a pair of indigenous natives from an invented island culture displayed within a ten-by-twelve foot cage. During the course of the exhibition they performed stereotyped primitive activities including hair braiding and banana eating and could be enticed by donation to perform “native” dances to rap music and tell “authentic” stories in gibberish.
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spite the expressed intentions of rtists that the piece be taken as a , more than half of viewers accepte piece as a genuine ethnographic y revealing what Fusco described book, English is Broken Here: Notes ltural Fusion in the Americas, as the se ethnographic” nature of the “The cage became a blank screen which audiences projected their sies of who and what we are. As we med the stereotypical role of the docated savage, many audience memelt entitled to assume the role of zer.” The cage bars through which udience viewed the performance ded a frame, a degree separation the artists that conceivably allowed thering discourse of colonial ethphy to follow close at hand. artists’ syncretic incorporation of al artifacts such as leopard-print nd sneakers as well as Peña’s Mexirestling mask elevate the status of items to that of the ethno-kitch; s whose original symbolic content t in the process of conforming to onsumer’s popular notions. “Unvered Amerindians” pushes satire e appropriation of pop culture ars in critique—intentional or unin-
tentional—of the viewer’s predisposition to be so distracted by the degree of separation as to consume the endless debris of consumer culture without notice. But what of artistic creation that seeks to explore the inner primitive of the self rather than the other: is it possible to draw inspiration from primal depths without being caught in a cage? Can we create outside the contemporary discourses of identity and ownership, exploring what is universally possessed? After all, the human imagination that once saw sacredness and spirits in the world is still within us today. There are perhaps some things that can never be stripped of their symbolic content, some element of wildness within us that refuses to be reckoned. Is it possible to explore the primitive in a way that shows us ourselves rather than others? Where do we draw lines between sincere syncreticization, expropriative appropriation, and those things fundamental? Can we make boundaries between what underlies human cognition and what has been projected upon the framework of our consciousness. After all, the innate human experience has not been altered, but manufactured to fit into a meticulously gridded and scientific approach that gives
us language only to describe what is tangible in this world. Those experiences that are fleeting and indefinable are left to fall by the wayside. When we enter the void of intangible experience, we are immersed in a sea of images, some of which have consumed our minds through the vantage of the glowing frame and some which have gnawed on our souls from time immemorial. We live in an age of inundation. We are awash in a sea of ever-changing images, ideas. The question of whether any of this information is new is a tide that sweeps us back and forth, back and forth over the vast repository of the collective unconscious. These deeper currents pulse beneath the surface reality of our modern existences and link us to an underworld of archetype where myths are born and find meaning. If we can stand the chaotic quiet long enough we just might be able to make out their mysteries. Those rhythms that science has no measurements for, those intricacies of the human experience that are nothing short of magical.
by Whitney Alsup Illustration by the Author Design by Emily Fishman
WHITNEY ALSUP, RISD’11 is “native” and “authentic.”
eality of The Present
and the Age of Innundation
N O V E M B E R 18 2010 T H E C O L L E G E H I L L I N D E P E N D E N T
F ROM A R C A DI A , W I T H LOV E
Up-and-coming Providence soapmaker Rick Roden muses on our unconscious, the honesty of nature, and the sensory present Interview by Natasha Pradhan Spending time with Rick Roden, an artist whose primary medium is life itself, is being shaken from numbness into awe without stepping into an alternate reality. Roden returns to Rhode Island to furnish the most auspicious aesthetic ritual—that of the bath—with handmade, homegrown, sensually extra-ordinary soap. Rick can be found at his shop, ZOP, at 186 Union St. (b/w Westminister and Weybosset). For bars and bubbles custom-made to tickle your sense palette, give him a ring: 401-751-4967.
The Independent: Tell me about the painting you have covering this wall of your shop. Rick Roden: This is by John William Waterhouse. It’s called Hylas and the Nymphs. Hylas was a servant of Hercules and the legend goes that Hylas was sent to go fetch water. He went to this woodland pond and these nymphs showed up and he was never seen again. Everything about this painting is so evocative. There’s no violence in it, though you don’t know what happened. Hylas just disappears. I: Though it’s so clean, there is something freeingly dark about the whole scene. RR: It is very clean. And I personally am petrified of water. I almost drowned a couple of years ago. I’m a Pisces, too. I went back a few days later to the place where I nearly drowned and swam across. People thought I was crazy. But I replied, “I’m not crazy; if I don’t do this I’ll be crazy.” I: What sort of place did you nearly drown in? RR: It’s beautiful. The water is 80 feet deep and there’s a gorge. It’s not a cultivated place at all. I was about halfway across and my leg had locked. And the next thing I know, I’m pulled down 20 or 25 feet. I had slipped lower and lower into cold water and branches. I thought I was certainly going to die. Those were some of the purest thoughts that I’ve ever had in my life—all the people I’ll never be able to tell I love them. The things I wouldn’t do because I didn’t risk it. I felt capillaries popping in my lungs. I: What changed? RR: You get this weird feeling. You are torn in two. One half yells, “breathe, open your mouth.” The other half says, ‘whatever you do, do not breathe.’ I don’t know how, but I made it to the surface of the water. I made it back. I sat there on the shore with my son, and it was like I was having my own biblical experience. Every stick, every rock was as if I had never known it. It was a gift. But I don’t want to ever drown again. That’s actually the third time that I’ve drowned. I have a healthy respect for water. It’s a worthy adversary. I: Is your fear of water a very concrete fear of drowning, then? RR: No. Joseph Campbell said that ev-
erybody is afraid of water. And the fear is not of water itself, but of what lies underneath. We don’t know what’s underneath. The conscious is the oxygen we breathe, the subconscious is where the monsters are. That is why dragons are such a big deal in British mythology. This is why I think people have such neuroses today. There are no dragons for us to slay, there are no battlefields, there are no mountains for us to climb. I: And instead we are saturated with distractions to keep us from what’s important. RR: I’m a parent, you know. And I don’t place myself first. What’s the most important thing in life? Certainly, I know that. And what’s the second most important thing in life, and well, who gives a shit. I have a kid to worry about—I’m not getting into crazy, kooky stuff. When you have a child, you get rid of your bells and whistles, and you become a father, plain and simple. It’s the greatest thing that’s every happened. I know that doesn’t fit into this world. People still want to go party and be distracted. Some guys don’t get it. It’s a chain. I’m just a piece of the chain. I hear people that say, “Oh, I would never bring a child into this world.” Well, then, don’t! But I will. I am forty-seven years old. I’m not a kid. A girl I was dating a while back was hesitant to ask me if I would have a kid. Though my reply is, of course—in a heartbeat. Even if I’m not going to be able to do some things with my child because I’m old, who cares? The kid’s here— he’s alive. This is precious to me. I: It’s so common for people to approach raising their children as a that must follow some sort of insane controlling formula. RR: Oh, God. My son’s first bed was the top drawer of a dresser—just pulled it out, put a broom under it, and there you go. And what did he eat? This is my dinner, and here’s half of it. I: Where were you raised? RR: I grew up here in Rhode Island. But I dropped out of school in ninth grade and then ran away. I’ve done a lot of different things. I’ve done so many things. But I like what I’m doing with soap right now. I’m certainly not a master soap-maker. I don’t ever want to be a master soapmaker. I: How much of your soap-making process is improvised versus premeditated? RR: It’s a mix. I mean, now that I have this shop, if I need more of something, I need to make it. Like lavender—it’s a little pedestrian, but it’s a classic. I: The grass soap is divine. What lead you to take grass that’s out here and work it into a soap that people will experience in the bath? RR: With the soaps, I think I’m giving some things in nature their day in court. Give everything a chance. That’s why I do what I do. I: And even more radically because scent
has to be shared in this very immediate, human-animal way without the ability to be photographed or recorded. RR: Scent and fragrance are a weird thing. I mean, I can say something is a particular shade of red or I can say, its PMS [Pantone Matching System] color this...There is a science to color. Or I can say, remember that song? And I can hum it. But I can’t remember scent in a concrete way. You can’t lie with scent. Similarly, with pheromones, you don’t even know what you smell. It’s so immediate. We have a musk and we bury it. It is like a code between people. There’s something about someone that you can’t describe that goes beyond everything else. It is almost a tribal thing. Do you accept someone? Are they friend or enemy? That’s just the honesty of nature and of people. We can’t explain or pretend to understand it. I: Before fragrance, what makes a soap? RR: If it’s a substandard soap, you can dress it up and make it smell however you like. But it needs to be good soap. Soap is first oil, or fats, combined with lye—alkali. There’s a little story about a mountain in Greece called Mount Lykaion and they would do animal sacrifices there. The rainwater would pass through the ashes in the hardwood and that, in turn, would become lye. That would pass through the fats of the dead animals. It would solidify, turn into soap, and then make its way down to the river and people would get really clean there. That’s what soap is. It’s lye, which is a caustic. Actually, where alkali comes from—its Greek. I think its ‘alkal,’ which means to calm. People use lye in very diluted forms to calm, to take care of stomach-aches and stuff. They use it to cook. People back then would save all their ashes and they would separate the hard ashes from the soft ashes, pine from maple and such. And they would save all their fats from cooking. And the chandlers—the soap and candle makers— would come along and pick all of this stuff up. I: What have you been making lately? RR: I make a different thing all the time.
I made some dirt stuff lately, on a whim. I made this the other day, the mimosa, which is vegetable based, with palm, olive, and coconut oil. I can make soap that a lot of people will accept as beautiful. And by beautiful, what they are considering beautiful is that it is accepted by a lot of people. This is a soap that a lot of people will like. Ergo, it’s beautiful. And that sucks. I have to deal with people like that all the time. So do you! I: I think what is most magical about the soap is that you experience it alone, usually, and are completely open to it without the balancing effect of being surrounded by society. RR: I’ve thought about that, too. Musically, some eighty years ago, you’ve got these guys Copland, Ives, Groves, Barber —the Americans. They took their compositions to Vienna. And the response they get is, “That sounds very American. It reeks of America. But where are you with this other stuff ? What did Wagner teach you? You need to fix that America thing.” And they reply, “No, that’s the point.” I’m not talking about the America today, which is a fucking mess. I’m talking about the real, the dream, whatever you want to call it. Barber did an Adagio for strings, which is a beautiful, beautiful song. If you listen to it, you can hear creaky doors in a house in Salem, you can hear a boat on the moor, you can hear misty mornings. You can just feel it. It’s not about Germany or Switzerland. It’s about some kid chasing his dog down the street in some little New England town. It’s beautiful. My point is this: here we are, a hundred-and-something years later. I can go look at water-lilies just as anybody else. If I want to listen to a record, I can. Now if this is art, it’s here, it’s right now. You’re experiencing it like it will never be felt again. The art is not the soap but the feeling you get when you’re using it. It’s personal from me to you. In a hundred and fifty years when I’m dust, people will say “he made soap.” But what does that mean? It’s for us to know. It’s precious.
B R I DGE OV E R DIGI TA L LY R E NDE R E D WAT E R The Redesign of the abandoned I-95 Highway Bridge by Sonja Boet-Whitaker | Graphic by Robert Sandler
he abandoned section of I-195, which crosses the Providence River just north of the Point St. bridge but south of WaterFire, has become a sacred place for me. On overcast days there is no end to the bleak greyness of this place. The lines on the pavement and the signs above are bigger in person than at high speeds from car windows. The highway is not human sized, just like the huge abandoned wharves and dry docks that I wandered around in Amsterdam. This old highway bridge is where I come to see the real Providence, without the polished veneer of the Renaissance. It’s the last place I can savor my nostalgia for Amsterdam, where I can pretend to be back on the wharves pretending to belong among the squatters. I go to the abandoned highway to get perspective, to see the lights of the city over the water and to see the dark hulking forms of the empty power plants. This wasteland—unwanted by buyers and by the city for at least two years, its only official use the storage
of construction materials—will be the site of the Providence River Pedestrian Bridge Project. It is being reimagined as an opportunity for a new form of urban revitalization. Rather than the large-scale clearance projects or highway reshuffling of the previous generation of urban revitalization, this is one of the smaller infill and adaptive reuse projects that characterize today’s urban planning efforts. The perennial concerns of Providence are, of course, still present: the need to make the city, and the waterfront in particular, a tourist destination. Fortunately, this project appears to be an attempt to move beyond that obsession. This project would build on the existing highway bridge (where, in an attempt to capture the absurdity of being in the middle of a highway, I have taken to lying down) and turn it into a bike and pedestrian thoroughfare. It will be another stitch to draw the sides of the river closer. On Wednesday, November 3 in Providence City Hall, the eleven finalist designs, chosen by a selection committee from a pool of 47, were publicly unveiled. Perhaps you don’t know
Providence City Hall. It is forbidding and cold, grey stone that watches over Kennedy Plaza with a sneer. The front door was locked and closed off with an iron gate. Even the caterers had trouble getting in, but with enough time spent banging at the doors, we got in, into the swirl of rich patterns and colors and brass banisters and an impressive staircase that drew us upwards. On the second floor: RISD-created textiles responding to the Providence built environment. Empty and quiet. On the third floor: Providence River Pedestrian Bridge competition. Bustling. Once we were in, the democratic atmosphere surprised me. Well-known designers, politicians, and planners mixed anonymously with students. There were no nametags, and the posters were identified by design group number, also without names. It was the day after the elections, there was a vitality and energy in the crowd, everyone was speaking loudly and excitedly. While the competition was not completely open, many different groups submitted proposals, and the selection committee includes representatives from a broad range of interest groups. The committee is looking for feedback from the public through a Flickr group: http://www.flickr.com/groups/pvdbridgedesigns/. A final decision will be made by the end of November. The first person that talked to us congratulated us on our bike helmets. He informed us he was keeping tabs on the designers, making sure they included bike lanes in the designs. He knew we would understand. He told us, those designers, sometimes they just don’t care. Then he disappeared into the crowd. Most of the designs actually are bikeaccessible, and many have a designated bike-only lane. The first posterboard, at the top of the stairs, had a smooth, curving center path, with great sweeps of pavement coming off of it as though the designers had grabbed handfuls of the bridge’s fabric and pulled it out into place: a sloping seating area, a great prow to overlook the city. Several designs played oﬀ the WaterFire concept, making the bridge into stadium seating or a viewing platform for a drama that would unfold on the river itself.
One design invoked a maritime aesthetic, suspending the bridge surface from masts strung with loops of cable. One common theme was the use of the bridge as a connection between small park areas on either side of the river, expanding the green space across the bridge. The designs were expected to have a focus on reuse and sustainability: the required reuse of the existing bridge piers and the broader environmental impacts of the project. In some of the designs, this meant only the inclusion of low-energy LED lighting. For other groups, the use of the existing structure seemed to be a primary element in the design. The proposed cost of the project was $4 million, but these designs were rarely limited by that consideration, creating lush café and patio spaces populated—in the renderings—by well-dressed socialites. A couple of the proposed designs looked as though they would immediately fall into disrepair. Designs with deadend paths or access to the piers at water level were tempting in their creative use of space, but the blind spots they created would be difficult to maintain and would probably become decrepit or dangerous. On the other end of the spectrum, bridges that created homogenous open space threatened to become an extension of Renaissance Providence: an unwelcoming bleak expanse, unable to attract the crowds of people it was clearly designed for. The most popular designs among the students in the crowd were able to both create open green space and make the bridge into an efficient link for bike commuters. This project feels like a legitimate attempt on the part of the city to cater to the needs of the people who live here. If the city really cares about green spaces and bike commuting and sustainability, as I do, I might be convinced to live here in this city for just a little bit longer so that I can feel the stranded parts of the city come back together. I can so clearly see a future in which the project is working and people are starting to come back downtown. Despite my love for the dirty, gritty abandoned highway, the re-design of the bridge is, to me, an exciting and hopeful venture. SONJA BOETWHITAKER rides or dies.
N O V E M B E R 18 2010 T H E C O L L E G E H I L L I N D E P E N D E N T
F R E E D OM ’S J UST A N OT H E R WOR D …For hype-fulﬁlling novel by Jonathan Franzen Review by Zach Rausnitz
onathan Franzen’s novel Freedom reads like a drug injected straight into the bloodstream, producing an addictive high as the pages turn— which they do effortlessly. But we don’t expect things that are euphoric to also nourish, but it becomes clear, as you digest the satiatingly whole characters, that Franzen’s achievement is a work that does both. As with his 2001 sensation The Corrections, the core characters are a family: Patty and Walter Berglund (a stayat-home mom and a lawyer) pioneer the gentrification of Ramsey Hill, the neighborhood in St. Paul, Minnesota where they raise their two children. The yuppie paradise sours when their neighbor Carol Monaghan’s boyfriend Blake moves in. Blake disturbs the Berglunds by chopping down trees and noisily building an addition to Carol’s house; the conservative bumper stickers on his pickup truck don’t help matters. This annoyance turns dire when the Berglunds’ teenage son Joey, who is dating Carol’s daughter, emancipates himself and joins the Monaghan household. Such drama—both personal (affairs, accidents, elopement) and political
(deals with coal executives and defense contractors)—pervades Freedom. The action keeps the pages turning, but the novel’s heart is in its characters. After the introduction of the Berglunds, a section called “Mistakes Were Made: Autobiography of Patty Berglund by Patty Berglund (Composed at Her Therapist’s Suggestion)” occupies the next chunk of the novel, a quarter of its 562 pages (what seems like a formal gimmick factors into the plot as a physical document much later). Patty examines her upbringing in the New York City suburbs, where she disappointed her intellectual parents by pursuing sports and accepting an offer to play basketball at a mediocre academic institution, the University of Minnesota. While there, she fell for budding rock star Richard Katz, but couldn’t quite entice him. Instead, she agreed to date his best friend, Walter, who had been courting her for months. Franzen’s mode is realism, but he resists overdoing what Zadie Smith calls “lyrical realism,” the chief goal of which is vivid sensory description. Franzen is up to that task—the neglected kitchen that “smelled like a mental illness” or a storm’s “omnidirectional” thunder come to mind—but he sets his prose to the pace of normal thought, which processes story more naturally than elaborate descriptions of scenery.
Similarly, he does not settle for describing his characters’ traits; he untangles their dilemmas. Patty’s dilemma is in suppressing her ongoing desire for Richard and returning Walter’s love. In her autobiography, she has to insist that she “does love him, does love him.” But her physical desire for Richard feels more natural, more genuine. Not that her love for Walter is insincere, but it is a conscious decision to love the man who cares so much for her. Her dilemma raises the question: Are natural desires worth resisting? Richard thinks not. He believes in acting on desire until he’s “got it out of his system.” Walter disagrees. “He loved Patty in some wholly other way, some larger and more abstract but nevertheless essential way that was about a lifetime of responsibility; about being a good person.” But as his marriage weakens, a younger woman tempts him. Over time he also drifts from being a mild-mannered, industrious Minnesotan, with an earnest fear of human overpopulation and animal extinction, toward the deep end of self-righteous anger. By the end he’s ranting about house cats murdering endangered birds. But Americans aren’t about to give up their pets, or stop having kids, and Walter’s radicalism mostly alienates. Much more than Walter, Franzen
understands Americans as a species, including their obsession with self-sufficiency and the interpersonal (and international) trouble that follows. “It wasn’t the people with sociable genes who fled the crowded Old World for the new continent; it was the people who didn’t get along well with others.” There’s more, always, to admire. Like the realistic dialogue that avoids gimmickry. Patty, alone with Richard for days, pretends she is certain they won’t have an aﬀair: “Oh, totally. God. Yes. Totally. Yah! I mean...” She reiterates to seem confident, masking a skepticism that is so transparent on the page. Franzen, an expert on the shortcomings of a generation of Americans, disappoints only in his lack of a vision for alternatives. Analysis is important, but novels can instruct, too, and in this realm Franzen is as vague as Walter’s focus on “being a good person.” Nonetheless, our hunger to know what he knows contributes to the novel’s addictiveness and to the feeling of withdrawal when it ends. If, to Walter’s surprise, we survive the environmental catastrophes looming in this century, Franzen looks to be one of this era’s authors still read on the other side. ZACH R AUSNITZ B’10.5 smells like a mental illness.
Two Yorkie Terrier Puppies For Re-Homing
24 Puzzle Extravaganza
ED I T DODO Each of the four sets of clues below corresponds to a 4x4 “word square” in which the across and down answers in each of the four positions are the same. For example 8 8 I DES TOS S 2 4 3 4 1 3 1 2
HIP TO DO A WORD SQUARE!
1. It was ﬁrst “seen” in 1832 2. Constant 3. ___ off (We know what you’re thinking, you perv) 4. The ﬁnest publication in Providence
1. What Angelina kept some of Billy Bob in (what the fuck, right?) 2. A true paragon of journalism 3. Port in the deep south...of Yemen 4. Bobcat, e.g.
by Joey Weissbrot and Jamie Green
1. WWII enemies 2. 1990s TV princess with an ambiguous sexuality 3. A paper with spellbinding content 4. Ejaculates, essentially 1
1. The best thing you’ve read all week 2. Great-grandson and great-great grandson of Mark Antony 3. John Travolta acted in it in 2007 4. He said, “I never said most of the things I’ve said” 1
In this grid are arranged all of the dominoes containing the digits 0 – 4. No domino is repeated, and they are all here. Unfortunately, their borders are no longer visible—they are up to you to discover! Hint for solving: See that the 3-3 pairing is the only one on the grid? Now, you know the 3-3 domino and the 1-3 in the NW corner, so draw a line between any other 3-1 pairings. Happy solving!
by Katie Barnwell
by Jonah Kagan
N O V E M B E R 18 2010 T H E C O L L E G E H I L L I N D E P E N D E N T
T HE SC I E N C E BE H I ND EV E RY T HI N G A N E XC E R P T by Katie Delaney, Tarah Knaresboro, Brian Mastroianni, and Kathryn Wiseman Illustration by Emily Martin H E A D OV E R T E N TAC L E S
I recently saw a nature documentary that showed an octopus wrapping its tentacles lovingly around a diver. It would detach itself and swim around the man slowly, before enveloping him in an eight-armed embrace. It was love at first sight. Suctioning itself to the man’s mask, the shapeless cephalopod looked like it was kissing the diver’s face—I could imagine hearing a loud “smack” as the suckers on each tentacle made contact with the mask. It’s true: octopi have a whole lotta love to give. The octopus has three hearts in order to maintain the high blood pressure it needs to propel itself through the sea on its hunt for tasty crustacean treats. The two smaller branchial hearts pump the mollusk’s hemocyanin-filled blue blood to its gills. The gills then dump out the waste while oxygenating the blood and (presto!) the oxygen-rich blood is sent to the large systemic heart. This blood is then sent through the rest of the octopus’s body. Naturally shy creatures, these invertebrates are, quite literally, spineless. But as that one diver found out, a smitten octopus will step out of its shell to prove that it will give its heart to you… three times over. -BM T E X T S F R O M L A S T N I G H T: MOM LEARNS ABOUT NEU R OT R A N S M I T T E R S E D I T I O N
(215): do not drink anything in a can called “four loco”. saw a news story kids are dropping like flies. 1 can = alcohol of 5 beers + caffeine of 5 coffees. just sayin. love, mom. Well, Mom, yes and no. While your local ten o’clock news is not exactly a high-caliber journalistic institution (think Antoine Dodson, but in West Philly), they did manage to get the alcohol comparison right. A 23.5oz can of Four Loko at 12% alcohol vs. a 12oz can of PBR at 5%: carry the one and you get roughly five times the fluid ounces of alcohol in a can of PBR in a single Four Loko. The five-coffee statistic, on the other hand, is just wrong. A can of Four Loko has 135mg of caffeine—a cup of coffee has 125mg. And it’s a good thing too, because 625mg of caffeine at once (the equivalent of five coffees) is just enough to kill a human infant. Furthermore, Mom, I routinely ingest more than a Four Loko’s worth of caffeine as an integral part of my paperwriting process and have yet to explode. The thing that troubles people (and the reason it’s banned at four universities and in several states) is the combination of two psychoactive substances with opposite effects. Ethanol is a positive allosteric modulator for the neurotransmitter GABA. Translation: GABA is a molecule that
travels from one neuron to another, binding to certain receptors and triggering a specific cellular response in the brain. In adults, GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter—it slows down the nervous system. Ethanol can bind to the same receptor as GABA, but not at the same active site. The binding of ethanol changes the receptor’s shape, heightening the attraction between the receptor and GABA and promoting additional GABA binding. So consumption of ethanol means more GABA binding, which means slower brain activity. Caffeine, through an entirely separate mechanism, does the opposite. Caffeine is structurally similar to the adenosine molecule, which suppresses neuronal activity and may also play an important role in the sleep-wake cycle. But caffeine is an adenosine antagonist, meaning it can bind to the same receptors as adenosine, obstructing adenosine from binding and triggering a cellular response; if adenosine is the brain’s brake pedal, caffeine is the brick underneath it. By preventing adenosine binding in the brain, caffeine interrupts its functions—it allows heightened neuronal activity, keeps drowsiness at bay, and helps me pull all-nighters studying things like neurotransmitters. Moral of the story: the “upper” effect from blocking adenosine binding (caffeine) can make the drinker oblivious to the downer effects of GABA binding (ethanol). They feel less drunk than they really are, drink more, and in rare cases, end up in the hospital with a BAC of 0.4 and leave medical professionals unsure as to how, exactly, they are still alive. So there you have it. I promise not to drink Four Loko if you promise to stop signing your texts “love, mom.” -KD H I CC U P C U R E S : TURE REVIEW
Hiccups are the result of repeated dia-
phragm contractions that cause air to surge into the lungs. In response, the epiglottis (a flap of tissue separating esophagus and trachea) snaps shut, causing the hiccup sound. They can be caused by everything from laughter to chemotherapy. Only extreme cases warrant medical treatment with sedatives, but word-of-mouth fixes for the everyday case of hiccups are plentiful. Below is a sample of hiccup remedies, empirically verified by users of the Internet: Breath-holding method: Hold your breath until the hiccups stop. Peanut butter method (or why I faked hiccups frequently throughout childhood): Eat a spoonful of peanut butter as quickly as possible. Screaming Method: Count the seconds between hiccups. When you think a hiccup is about to start, scream. Ear Method: Take a drink of water. While holding it in your mouth, pull down your earlobes, tilt your head back and swallow. Vinegar Method: Drink a teaspoon of vinegar. Upside-down drinking Method: Stand up, bend over. Put your head between your legs. Drink a glass of water. Digital Rectal Massage (only to be used with intractable hiccups): Doctors at Bnai Zion Medical Center in Haifa, Israel observed that massaging the anus with a finger relieved a 60 year-old man’s unstoppable hiccups. This procedure blocks the vagus nerve from uncontrollable firing, which can be a cause of intractable hiccups. The Styx Method – Listen to “Renegade” by Styx until hiccups subside. 30 Second Cure*: Quickly inhale as far as you can. While holding your breath, swallow. Repeat this pattern until you
can neither inhale nor swallow anymore. Then, swallow once more. (Even if you feel you can’t, you’re wrong. It’s possible) Exhale. *Note: the inventor of this cure would like you to know that he is, graciously, not charging for this imparted wisdom, but if you’d like to make a donation to his PayPal, feel free: http://www.cognitial. com/hiccups.shtml. I have no doubt the following reviewers did. User testimonials: “Brilliant, it worked! Thanks very much!” “This guy should be a millionaire (if he is not). Absolute genius., every time, first time” “YEAHHHHH B^TCHES! TOTALLY WORKED ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU ARE DRUNK!!!” “GREAT IT REALLY WORKS. EVEN IN AFRICA” -KW DOUBLE THE PLEASURE , DOUBLE THE FUN
Scientists suspect that mimicry within our motor and sensory systems might underlie human empathy. That is, when you see someone prick their finger with a pin, you wince too and kind of ‘feel their pain.’ Same thing happens when you watch someone crying and start to tear up. The process by which observing something makes you feel as though you too were experiencing it is thought to operate through ‘mirror neurons,’ or cells that fire both when you prick your finger and when your friend does. Some people think this is how we understand other people—we literally put ourselves in their place and experience their sensations too. And that’s why scientists think watching porn is so much fun. -TK
LI E S E V ERY BO DY T H I N KS A RE T RU E You only use ten percent of your brain. Humans consume an average of four spiders per year in our sleep. U P - A N D - CO M I N G P S YC H O LO G I S T S S AY…
Lies can happen internally all the time when people repress memories or construct false ones. People will believe things that they are comfortable believing, facts that fit into their image of themselves, and will sometimes block out what’s mentally difficult to keep in their self-concept—child abusers, for example, often deny accusations, honestly believing they did nothing wrong. Likewise, victims can block out traumatic experiences—it may simply be easier to live with a lie. The idea of unearthing such repressed memories is what led to ‘False Memory Syndrome’ first identified in the early 1990s, a condition in which people invent and become convinced of memories that never actually took place. Some even go so far as to accuse their fathers of sexual crimes they never committed. Although such ‘awakenings’ can permanently damage family life, this too can be adaptive. Cases of false memory syndrome are often correlated with severe problems in the sufferer’s current life, and focusing on the past (and, ironically, the ‘truth setting you free’) can be away to channel mental energy away from real, pressing troubles.
Reading in the dark damages your eyes. If you shave, your hair grows back thicker. Benjamin Franklin few a kite in a lightening storm and discovered electricity. Lots of people thought the Earth was ﬂat during Columbus’s time. Bulls prefer red cloth. You can unlock a safe by listening to the clicks. Hair and ﬁngernails grow after a person dies. Double dipping spreads germs. Rats and mice like cheese. Lemmings engage in mass suicide. Sugar makes kids hyper. Viking wore horns on their helmets. data assembled with help from Fraser Evans B’11 and Sutong Zhou B’11
S O C I A L P S YC H O LO G I S T S S AY…
Lying is adaptive within our own minds. We lie to ourselves all the time, often subconsciously, twisting information we receive to cause minimal mental distress. A famous example of this was a 1959 social psychology experiment by researchers Festinger and Carlsmith. Although they were actually trying to examine what makes people subconsciously lie to themselves, the researchers gathered one subset of the participants into a room and told them (untruthfully) that they were part of an experiment that measures how one’s expectations alter the experience of a task. They informed participants that they were members of a group that would be given no expectations before the task. Then, the first subject was told to enter the testing room, where he soon discovered that the task is mind numbingly boring: he had to move around spools and pegs in a box for an entire hour. When he was done, the researchers paid him a dollar to lie and tell a participant in another experimental group that the task was really fun and interesting. The same experiment was repeated with a new subject: he was given no expectations before the task, and likewise found the spool and peg task boring. But this time, the experimenters paid the subject 20 dollars to tell a participant in the other group that the task was really fun and interesting. As every test subject left, they were asked to retrospectively rate how boring or interesting the task was. The subjects given 20 dollars to lie rated the task as really boring, which it was. But the people who were only paid one dollar for their lie were much more likely to rate the task as “moderately interesting.” The fact that the group with the bigger reward was more honest about the results seemed to indicate that when the reward was much bigger than the lie, subjects had no problem justifying the deceit within their minds—they lied to get a good amount of money. But when the reward was small, the subjects couldn’t justify the lie as adequately in their minds—they felt guilty; the money didn’t feel substantial enough to merit deceit. Their minds rectified this uncomfortable incongruity by deciding that perhaps moving around pegs and spools was actually kind of fun. Scientists call this ‘cognitive dissonance’—your mind dealing with two contradictory ideas and rectifying them in the most logical way it can. The same thing happens when, for example, there are really difficult obstacles to surmount before being granted entry into an exclusive party. Because it’s so difficult to get in, people tend to subconsciously justify such effort by convincing themselves the party is extra awesome when they finally get through.
by Tarah Knaresboro “ T H E T R U T H D O C TO R ” S AYS … N E W E X P E R I M E N T S S AY…
Lying is dumb and anti-constructive. Psychotherapist Brad Blanton, or “The Truth Doctor,” pioneered a movement called Radical Honesty in which members of society are 100 percent honest, at all times, to everyone. According to him, lies cause nothing but stress and misery, and everyone would be infinitely better without them. He believes complete truthfulness is the only path to a free, joyful, and authentic lifestyle devoid of petty social burdens, and that such behavior paves the way for true love and intimacy. On the FAQ page of his website, he suggests immediately owning up to first impressions such as being attracted to someone or being struck by their outstandingly hideous looks. He even advocates opening up old transgressions, coming forth to parents about sins committed long ago and explaining just why you resent them. This “frees you up from the jail of your own mind, which is the source of all human stress anyway.”
We lie because our minds crave rationality, and inducing confabulations are commonplace and easy. Experimenters have shown how simple it is to take a person’s picture, photoshop him or her into a scene they have never seen before, and ‘remind’ them of what was going on when the picture was taken. Rarely do subjects ever contest the picture or the description; they usually just agree and internalize it as their own memory. Similarly, when experimenters read a fairytale to their subjects and then asked them to retell it to an audience, the subjects made minor alterations in the story to make it more logical. The researchers concluded that our minds want to believe and process rational E VO L U T I O N A RY B I O LO G I S T S S AY… things, so we create the Lying is a really sophisticated cognitive ability. rationality—on autopilot. We lie to protect ourselves from physical harm, to prevent minor inconveniences, and sometimes to spare the feelings of other people. Not telling the truth is so evolutionarily beneficial, humans aren’t the only ones who do it: spots on butterfly wings could be considered a form of lying (I’M ACTUALLY A BIG SCARY THING THAT COULD EAT YOU AND THESE ARE MY EYES), and one gorilla under scientific observation once destroyed a household object and then pointed accusingly at a nearby cat when the researchers walked in. Lying oils social relationships with bosses, spouses, and friends, making us more likely to be successful, survive, have offspring, etc. Those perceptive enough to both lie and to see through others’ lies have a big advantage: they can alter others’ perceptions of the world without having their own view skewed.
An Excerpt from Bethel Park by Charlotte Crowe, Design by Joann a Zhang The crocuses are starting to push through, green and round-tipped. This morning there was a light coating of snow around the house, in the shadowed parts the sun hadn’t hit yet, the grass poking its way through the snow, so it looked ruddy and rough. I was reminded of my father when he hasn’t shaved in a day or two. I thought about how a few hours after he has shaved, if you look close enough, you can see the darkness right beneath the skin, blue-ish. March is a strange month, this overlapping of seasons. I cannot remember whether the crocuses by the front walk are yellow or purple. My father comes through the door, still sliding one arm through his jacket. I can see his breath in the cold air, a little disappearing-appearing cloud. It is 7:30 AM or so. This is our every morning: my alarm clock in my room and my father’s alarm clock in my parents’ room, and the showers going, me standing in my towel in Francie’s room, saying Wake up. Pulling on clothes and my father making English muffins or sometimes Pop Tarts for me and Francie. My mother is asleep, usually. For a while, she had trouble sleeping and would be sitting up in the kitchen when I came downstairs. Now, she has trouble getting up in the mornings, and my father just lets her sleep. He says, “Bye, Marybeth,” and bends over and kisses her hair. She sleeps. Bethel Park is gray and brown in March. It slides past the car window. I think my father could drive this route without even looking: from the house, down Church Road to the high school. He drops Francie oﬀ at the middle school afterwards. Then he drives to Pittsburgh for work. Sometimes while I am taking notes at my desk with the chair attached, I imagine him driving. I am sitting, taking notes, and at the same time, he is driving, he is getting closer to Pittsburgh, he is in Pittsburgh. This morning pre-algebra is first period. We are doing matrices, and boys in the class make jokes about the movie The Matrix. There are neat rows of numbers lined up on the board, the white chalk glowing. The chalk numbers look like ghost numbers. Last month I was sleeping over Chelsea Roddard’s house with Joelle H. and Katherine Notting, and Joelle had brought her Ouija board. We all sat on the carpet in Chelsea’s room in the dark, our fingers on the edges of the little plastic triangle, watching it move around the board. Katherine asked if I believed in ghosts. They all
looked at me and waited for me to answer. Have you ever talked to your brother? Katherine asked. Katherine, said Chelsea. I didn’t know what to say. I said, No. I have to do matrices problems from my pre-algebra textbook. I lay it on the kitchen table. Francie is home from school. We both take the school bus home; Francie takes the middle school bus, and I take the high school bus. Francie has left graham cracker crumbs on the table. I can hear the television from the family room, a commercial about hair dye that gives you natural-looking highlights. Francie! I’m home! Hi, she says. Did you eat? I ask her. I know she did: the crumbs. Yep, she says. Francie is in fifth grade. She wears blue plastic glasses and has the straightest hair I have ever seen. She loves reality television. What are you watching? She does not answer. The volume is up pretty loud though, and I know it is the show about the nanny that goes around to different houses and helps parents with their children when they are acting childish. Francie has never really acted childish, from what I can remember. I try to make a matrix neatly on my page. My rows turn out crooked. Francie, is Mom home? She’s taking a nap.
When my mother wakes up, she watches television with Francie for awhile. Then she asks what we want to eat for dinner. She makes chicken-rice soup. My mother keeps feeding us like we are sick people. When my father gets home, he says the kitchen smells good. He kisses each of us on the forehead. My father keeps treating us like we are small children. We all sit at the table in the kitchen and eat our chicken-rice soups. Francie breaks crackers into little bits and puts them in her soup. There is a circle of cracker crumbs around her bowl. Francie talks about her day: she typed her story in the computer lab, her tadpoles are starting to get legs. She talks about the show with the nanny that goes around to people’s houses, tells us about a child who hits his parents. My father laughs. My father drinks the rest of the broth from his bowl. He asks my mother how her day was. She says, Fine. I don’t usually talk that much at dinner. Francie says, Dad, do you want to watch Man vs.
Wild later? They love that show: the strong man who goes to wild places alone, who somehow always finds his way back.
Chelsea is on AIM and she AIMs me and says: Hey Becca and I say, Hi Chelsea and she tells me she’s workin on hw and just finished dinner with her fam and its crazy because her older sister rita got caught smoking cigarettes with ronald delaney and her mom is flipping seriously FLIPPING. Ronald Delaney is the son of the dental assistant who cleans my teeth and wears the most eye makeup of all the dental assistants. Ronald Delaney smokes. He gets in fights in the student parking lot. My sister has not stopped crying all night, she is seriously BALLING. I do not tell Chelsea that she spelled bawling wrong. Chelsea types fast. What r u up to? she asks. I tell her I am typing up my introduction paragraph about To Kill a Mockingbird. I am writing about Scout and Jem. I type their names over and over again: Scout, Jem, Jem, Scout. I change the fonts to see which one looks best. Cool, says Chelsea. Would you smoke? No, I say. Would you? No, says Chelsea. But I think Ronald Delaney is cute. I think of Ronald Delaney’s mother, and how I don’t think I’d like it if my mother wore that much tan makeup and eyeliner and mascara. Haha, I type, and send it to Chelsea. Haha Ronald Delaney always wears a black denim jacket. Do you think he is? Chelsea asks. Ronald Delaney was the year below my brother. My brother told me that Ronald used to get beat up in middle school. Then he started beating people up in the student parking lot. Ronald was nice to my brother, though. My brother never got in any fights. Everyone liked him. From downstairs, Francie calls, Becca, do you want to watch Man vs. Wild with me and Dad? He gets stuck in an ice crevice! I type to Chelsea: Idk Idk g2g
My alarm clock makes a bee-beep bee-beep, and I click it off and lay in bed until I hear my father’s: cleeps
cleeps cleeeeeps, cleeps cleeps cleeeeeps. He always turns it off after two or three cycles, quickly, as if he doesn’t want to disturb my mother, who is sleeping. In the next room, Francie is sleeping too. She takes baths at night, and lays her clothes for the next day on the carpet. She lays them out in a person-shape: the shirt, the sweater over it, the pants below that, then the socks. An invisible fifth-grader lying flat on the floor. She will wake up and put on those clothes, comb her straight, straight hair with a comb, put on her blue plastic glasses. The room after Francie’s is empty. I cross the hall to the bathroom, turn the shower tap. In the mirror my body looks longer than it is supposed to; hipbones swell outwards. I press my palms against them, as if I could push them back in.
It was the first time I’d ever seen my father cry. He did not cry when the hospital called the house. He did not cry at the wake or the funeral. I found him in the living room, in the morning, one of the mornings during the week when we did not use alarm clocks, when we did not drive anywhere. The week we stayed in the house. You don’t want to be in the house, but you want to be anywhere else less. I found him in the living room. We have a family room with the couch and the television and the living room with the fancy, clean couch and the matching chair. No one ever sits on them. My father was not sitting on them; he was sitting on the floor. I was in the kitchen, staring at the food on the counter, wrapped in tinfoil and plastic wrap, sealed in tupperware containers. The kitchen was still, all the food sitting there, and I heard the bird noises he was making and went to the living room. He was sitting on the floor with his knees up. I stood in the doorframe. He made bird noises and I stared because I had never heard my father make noises like that. Dad? I asked. He looked up, and saw me. He let out a bigger noise then, his face melting down around the dark hole of his mouth. I wanted to go to him, but I was rooted to my spot in the doorframe. Dad? I asked, and looked at him and then couldn’t look at him anymore, and looked at the shiny coffee table with the gilded picture frames on it, its fine layer of dust. He was quiet and I walked into the room and knelt on the carpet, bent over and tried to fold my arms around his back. He did not want me to touch him, and I did not want to touch him, because we both knew it would not make it better, but I did. I stayed there kneeling with my arms around him. That was nine months ago. That was at the beginning of June and now it is March and first period and I am not in the living room; I am in biology class. We are doing an Embryology unit. We are filling out a quiz and Part C is gestation times: A whale’s gestation period is approximately a year. A rabbit’s is one month. A human’s is nine. In these past nine months, a whole person could’ve started. I fill in the blank. It takes so much longer for a person to end.
Francie is home; I hear the television when I come in. The kitchen smells like peanut butter. What are you watching? I call to her and she says, The News. From the kitchen, I cannot hear what the reporter is saying, but she sounds worried. I put two slices of bread into the toaster and retrieve
the peanut butter jar from the cabinet. There are red jelly marks in it; Francie didn’t use a clean knife. Francie! A memory: me yelling at Francie, Francie! You got jelly in the peanut butter jar again! What’s wrong with you? Wipe the knife! Tyler saying, Or lick it. Him laughing. Me looking at him, angrily. Me looking at Francie, angrily. Francie not liking television as much: her sitting at the kitchen table, some papers in front of her, the purple pencil case. Tyler saying, Becca, the jelly’s going to get in the peanut butter anyways. That’s the whole point. You’re making a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich. She’s just helping you out. Francie laughing loudly, adoringly. Yeah, I’m just helping you out, her mimicking. Me looking at him. Trying not to smile. I feel sick and screw the lid back on the jar. I bring the plain toast into the family room. I sit on the couch next to Francie. I eat the plain toast and we watch the news: bombs in Spain. We hear my mother: Girls? Hi, Mom, Francie says. We’re in here, I say. She comes in. She is wearing her bathrobe. It is light blue, almost gray. How are you feeling? I ask her. This is a stupid question. Oh fine, honey. I just took a little nap. What are you girls watching? Francie has quickly changed the channel from the bombs. An old episode of The Cosby Show is playing. Bill Cosby is walking up the stairs and Ruthie is laughing down below. The Cosby Show, Francie tells her.
Tonight I am babysitting for the Duponts, who live across the street in the white house. They have two children: Mikey is eight and Darrel is five. Darrel repeats most things that Mikey says. Mikey loves microwave popcorn and Nintendo 64. I ask what they would like for dinner. Mikey says, Popcorn! Darrel says, Popcorn! I open the freezer and take out a Styrofoam tray of chicken nuggets shaped like stars and moons and Saturns: galactic chicken. After dinner, Mikey plays Nintendo 64 and Darrel and I sit on the couch and watch. After a while I am bored and I suggest we do something else. Fifteen more minutes, Mikey says. Fifteen more minutes, Darrel says. Ten. After seven minutes I say, Ten minutes is up! And we turn off the Nintendo 64, and Mikey says, Let’s play Bad Guys. And Darrel says, Bad Guys, and I say, Fine. Mikey and Darrel go and retrieve two big plastic guns, reappear in the living room. BAM! Mikey yells. His gun is pointed at D a r r e l ’ s chest. BAM YOU’RE DEAD! Darrel says, No I’m not! BAM BAM! Mikey yells. I blocked! Darrel says. I’m not dead. I got you! Mikey uses his gun free hand to push Darrel. Darrel falls onto the floor. Darrel starts to cry. Darrel! I say. He has to stay down there for ten seconds, Mikey explains to me. Darrel, it’s okay. I go to Darrel. He has to stay down there for ten seconds! Mikey insists. Mikey, stop it! BUT HE’S DEAD I KILLED HIM!
MIKEY STOP IT! HE’S DEAD! STOP IT! STOP YELLING! Darrel sits up. He asks, Becca why are you crying?
For a while after, there was a shortage of words. My parents sent me to a counselor. She asked me questions: What have you been thinking about, Becca? In English, we had been memorizing words: archipelago, pernicious, pedantic, lucid. I told her what I had been thinking: There is a word for someone who has lost their spouse, widow or widower, words that sound suspiciously like ‘window.’ There is a word for someone who has lost their parents: orphan. If you look that word up in the dictionary, the third definition is: 3. an opening line of a paragraph that is also the last line of a page see also widow A line separated from the rest of its lines, but still, a beginning. There is no word for a parent who has lost a child, or a sister who has lost her brother. Interesting, the counselor says. That’s very interesting. Her freshwater pearl necklace looks too small for her fat neck.
I am taking notes from the biology book: Hibernation—a state of inactivity and metabolic depression in animals Characterized by a) lower body temperature b) slower breathing c) lower metabolic rate Animals that hibernate include: bats ground squirrels, other rodents mouse lemurs the European Hedgehog, other insectivores monotremes marsupials The book also tells me that some research projects are currently investigating how to achieve hibernation in humans. NASA is interested in inducing hibernation in astronauts for very long space journeys. Tyler went through a phase when he was nine or so, when he could not sleep. His class had done a unit on space, this papier-mâché Neptune blue and sticky on the newspapered kitchen floor. He worried about the space between the planets, the space beyond them. Him standing in my parents’ room in his pajamas and asking, Is it like that, just black black empty black? I remember the service, and what the priest said about Heaven. The priest that sounded Irish, and also like a computer. I wondered if my parents believed him, if they would have gone into space if they did, if they would ever come back. Francie! I yell from the kitchen. Wake, Mom up! She’s napping, Francie says from the family room. Wake her up! Why? Do it, I say. I do not say, Because she is not a ground squirrel or a hedgehog. She is my mother. The TV clicks oﬀ, the gauze of sound suddenly absent, Francie padding down the hall to nudge her awake. I have opened the window halfway and a breeze blows in. There is no snow left, grass brownish but fully visible. It is lighter out in the afternoons, lately. When my father comes home it will still be light out, light enough to see the crocuses, unfurled, purple and yellow and white.
by Eli Schmitt
THEINDY.ORG T H E I M P O R TA N C E O F E ATING CHOPPED LIVER
Every Thanksgiving, my grandmother makes chopped liver. It’s smooth, a little sweet, vaguely metallic—because of the iron in the chicken’s liver, my uncle used to tell me. It’s always on the same mosaic coffee table, in the same ceramic bowl surrounded by a ring of water-crackers. Every year I eat too much. Every year my grandmother says the same thing: “That’s my girl! She’s always loved chopped liva!” I really do love it: for its wonderfully nostalgic taste, but even more so for its place in my family mythology. Thanksgiving of 2001, my uncle’s mother, Miriam, lodged a chopped-liver cracker in her throat. Panic ensued. Twenty minutes later, my entire extended family—all twenty-five of us— was gathered on the sidewalk while Miriam shrieked at a handsome young paramedic for asking what her age was. (Miriam’s age is a mystery. Her son doesn’t even know.) At the risk of sounding morbidly sentimental, the Miriam chopped-liver incident, in the tradition of absurdly dramatic food-related crises that occur at large gatherings of Jewish families, was something of a blessing. We got to act like Miriam had almost died—in reality she’d been speaking and breathing just fine through the whole ordeal—and like we were thankful that she hadn’t. We all shared something. It was kind of nice. -GD GIVING GRAZIE
We were a merry bunch, the students abroad in the Brown-in-Bologna program. It was my first Thanksgiving separated from family, but I suffered no sense of loss. There was something so natural about celebrating the holiday in Italy: the things Americans cherish on the third Thursday in November—loving company and food— are woven firmly into the daily life of an Italian. They eat slowly, they drink slowly, and dinners are known to run for hours into the night. As ours did that Thanksgiving. We invaded the small restaurant and claimed it for ourselves, along with the two turkeys prepared for us by the cooks each sporting an American and Italian flag. The locals strained their necks to ogle the spectacle of our turkeys, and the head chef proudly watched us enjoy his food. He had never prepared a turkey before, and had made an entire test run the night before to practice, and then eaten it with his family. I can vividly recall the things we felt: pride emanating from him, irradiating our table; happiness in his eyes at his success and the obvious pleasure we had in eating his food; my eagerness to demonstrate my gratitude and reciprocate this bliss. The food was unforgettable. We had all the usual Thanksgiving foods, just wonderfully Italianized. We laughed; we ate, we drank far too much wine. No celebration could have been better, and for it I am so thankful. -HD
THE INDY GIVES THANKS
by Stephanie Cheung, Belle Cushing, Hannah Doyle, Alice Hines Grace Dunham, Kevin Pires, and Rémy Robert, Photos by John Fisher DOUBLE TROUBLE
In a country of overeaters, Thanksgiving is the one day of the year when this vice is celebrated nationally. This in and of itself is a marvel, but it is doubly true for a child of divorce. Every year, I must resort to a slew of trickery if I am to vanquish the looming threat of tryptophan-induced slumbers, made acutely more resonant by my double feature feasting. Over the years, I’ve struck a wacky balance between Dad’s schmaltzy mealtime rigmarole and the hilarity that is my histrionic grandmother at Mom’s. The day starts with lunch around Dad’s table, where my brother and I are coerced into holding hands with stepfamily, our heads bowed as Dad spouts off on the blessing of togetherness. It ends with Mom’s dry exchanges with Grandma, who would be most thankful for a daughter who visited her daily… On any other day, holding hands with a step-brother could really ruin one’s appetite, and awkward chunks of Velveeta would put a damper on the spinach casserole. But then, the day Grandma starts using fresh spinach and real cheddar is a day I never want to see. Somehow, I know I’ll never have to. And that’s comforting. Having learned to be a savvy Thanksgivinger, I see that this bizarre mishmash of dishes and relatives is just what it means to be a family. -RR T H E N E W S T U F F I N G O N T H E B LO C K
T H O U G H T S O N S U RV I VA L
I’m going to make a big generalization here—Asian families do not get thrilled about eating turkey on Thanksgiving. It’s all too familiar: Daddy Cheung complains about the meat’s blandness, Auntie Wong incessantly brings up how thick the gravy is, and Mommy Cheung mutters to herself, “we have to eat this for the next two weeks?!” I have a solution to please Turkey-friendly and hostile relatives alike. Ready? I present to you: sticky-rice stuffed turkey. Move over, bread/veggie/assorted nuts stuffing, and meet your new competitor. Most likely adapted from a Cantonese dim sum called lo mai gai (sticky rice with mushroom, conpoy, and chicken wrapped in lotus leaves), the sticky rice-stuffed turkey has become a go-to dish for many Asian-American families. The rice absorbs all the turkey juices so it’s extra flavorful, plus you can add whatever you fancy to the rice (Chinese chorizo, black mushrooms, and chestnuts, to name a few). To make the stuffing, soak the rice in cold water for a few hours before cooking to soften it, then bring to a boil over high heat, and reduce it to medium heat until all the water is absorbed by the rice. Place your choice of ingredients on top of the rice, add in soy sauce, sesame oil, and black pepper, and cover it with a lid to allow the steam to do the cooking. Cook it until it’s semi-translucent, as the rice will cook more in the oven. Finally, stuﬀ the brined turkey with the rice—add chestnuts if desired—stick it into the oven, and voilà! Oh, and tell your mom not to worry—there won’t be any leftovers. -SC
Don’t touch the carving knife. Leave that to your dad, the one with experience. And take time to stare. Stare at the uncle from the Midwest who thinks East Coast education makes you a Socialist. Stare at the 5th grade cousin who tells you of spelling bees won and girls lost to boys with footballs. And listen not to them but to the sound of your dad cutting through turkey. And appreciate the silence of unconditional familiarity. Appreciate that they know you can give them an ear but not a thought. Only a passing smile because you are in college, and you have too much on your mind. -KP
T H E B E S T C R A N B E R RY S AU C E I N T H E WO R L D
Buy can of Ocean Spray jellied cranberry sauce. Open can with can-opener. Squelch Jell-o cylinder onto a plate with a smiling pilgrim on it. If the ridges from the can glisten in the candlelight, still intact, you have succeeded. Slice, serve, snort some up your nose (try to get it to come out your mouth…). And save the real cranberries for the dark chocolate-cranberry glazed tart with mascarpone filling. -BC
T H A N K S FO R N OT H I N G
How to botch Thanksgiving? Be a sixteen-year-old boarding school brat on her first trip to France. When my friend’s host family asked me if “I could share to them please our speciale holyday?” I thought of my extensive E-Z-Mac experience and agreed! At the local Carrefour, I could not locate cranberries, pumpkin, squash, turkey, or any of the French words for these items (although I did manage to find several bottles of the green-apple flavored liquor, “Manzana,” which I purchased without showing ID and smuggled back to boarding school in my suitcase.) So I improvised. After an afternoon of messy labor, I presented to the family a trashed kitchen, an overcooked chicken in brown soup, a celery-crouton “stuffing” salad, boiled potatoes smushed with a fork, a side of raisins, and ice cream. The ice cream was a hit. As for the “turkey,” it was spit back out into the napkin upon first bite and then ignored. Even the chubby ten-year-old made fun of my purée. “Maybe the trash can will like it,” he smirked as his mother scraped the uneaten muck into the poubelle. I stuffed myself, for posterity’s sake, thinking about how I could would gush about the snobby French to friends back at home. I should have just stuck to Manzana cocktails. -AH
GEORGE WARNER You know the quote from that Shakespeare play—it goes something like, “some are born to the Indy, some achieve the Indy, and some have the Indy thrust upon them.” Alternate manuscripts read “George Warner has the Indy thrust upon him,” and I think we can all agree that this must be the definitive version. Sometime in the late 16th century George was the web editor of ye olde Independent, until he was scared away by a former Managing Editor driving 50 mph the wrong way down North Main en route to the Indy banquet. But after stints in carpentry, farming, and rapping (every time you hear the lines “sexually, mentally, physically, emotionally/I’ll be like your medicine, you’ll take every dose of me,” remember that line came to George in a dream), George had the Indy thrust right back upon him—more accurately, he lived with a series of Indy staffers and developed a kind of Independent Stockholm Syndrome. After putting the gay farming beat behind him, he assumed the position of vociferous, indefatigable Metro editor, and there he’s been ever since, a journalist through and through—with a battle cry of ¡sí se puede!
EMILY SEGAL Throughout history, there have been winners and there have been losers. But it was only after that epic sleepover/gym lock-in where Abigail Williams roofied Dr. Faustus, and Emma Goldman and Lorena Bobbitt locked braces, and Charlemagne and Napoleon locked them all in the girls’ bathroom with nothing but a bottle of sizzurp and a coop of guinea-hens (until nine months later, whereupon they emerged, fused like a fuckin’ Gaeia-Megazord and pregnant up to the chin), that there was Emily Segal. With more duende in a single fleck of dandruff than all the Spanish painters combined and enough brains to sate the bellies of a thousand zombies, Emily came up on the scene covered in fake blood and lamé, whispered “plez” and promptly started running shit. She bid all her haters “kill yoself,” then gave them the kind of deep tongue-kiss that makes grown men cry. If you look closely, you’ll see that Emily actually oozes power, and shit is contagious. Once, she blew cigarette smoke in my face and I cried tears of amber—and then wrote the best article of my entire life. And there’s that thing were every time Emily says UH-MA-ZING, a non-sentient being gets an unconscious. Literally. It’s actually retarded. Spooky retarded.
Illustrations by Charis Loke
NATALIE JABLONSKI If you have broken bread with a woman named Natalie Jablonski, please do not judge her for her whole-wheat cookies. Do not judge her for letters that start with Good Morning and end with Love. Because gurl ain’t no Whole Wheat, King Arthur Organic bullshit nothing. She is the real deal, and she don’t play nice. Think: Big Mac with Dino-Size Fries and a 42oz Drink, Two-For-One Deals, All You Can Eat Chicken and Italiandressed Iceberg Lettuce. I’m talking Real. MMMMHMMMMM. That’s at least 4,000 calories real. Just a few weeks ago I heard some fellas chatting, one said “Man, Natalie is the total package.” The other responded, “I got to get me a Natalie.” That type of real real.
PABLO LARIOS Vodka, triple sec, lime, cranberry, a bit of -eño and Okla honda. Shake it up in one of those Prussian boot glasses; a cosmo Pablo. The first and last time I ever saw the words palimpsest, interpellation and postlapsarian in the same sentence was either in Pablo’s review of Prince’s album He Looks Just Like Me or some shit in Adorno. Either way I’m down with Lariosianism AKA intellectual nomadology. Plus those blackbird chopstick pants and hot droopy beaters; talk about a real-world sartorial tumblr! He was the first guy to ride a fixie on College Hill, and then, in the only way any true revolution can happen these days, was the first one to throw it out of his third story window. Also I think he’s into poetry, which I’ve never personally read, but always liked the concept of.
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ZACH RAUSNITZ It’s widely understood that talking about the size of your genitals in public is objectionable, if not for puritanical reasons, then simply because it makes others uncomfortable. It’s unseemly. There are, of course, exceptions to every rule, and behind each exception is an exceptional person. Zachary Rausnitz (or “Znack” as he liked to be called) was one such person. Though his reasons for taking up residence in Providence were ambiguous (some speculate that he fell off a transatlantic jet ski; others buy his own story, that he escaped from a minimum-security prison in Maryland), he always put us at ease, whether furiously ‘scratching’ himself under the table at a meeting or simply pussypopping with his roommate, Astro. The remarkable thing about Znack was how comfortable he would make you feel in the wildest situations, like when he would slip up behind you and whisper that he wanted to sip blueberry schnapps out of your —, or when he would strip off all his clothes in front of a group of schoolchildren, scream: “COLLEGE!!” and jump into a body of water. Never sly or sleazy, Znack was simply a real-life Don Juan, or perhaps Don Juan crossed with Oprah; an infinitely wise and infinitely potent lover who would penetrate you before you said hello and leave you before you realized what had happened. DANIELA POSTIGO “Bai” you said? But it can’t be time to go yet. We’ve only just begun! The templates are fresh, the code is new. We haven’t finished our Diet Coke or even started on the last roll of sushi. Our cigarettes are still lit and burning. The best Taylor Swift song hasn’t come on yet. Hey, look! A kitten! … You’re right, there’s no kitten. But, it’s just, there are so many reasons for you to stay. There’s gotta be some more pixels to flatten, or at least a stray ligature to correct? No? Well what about the blog? No, the other blog? That one we started that summer and never finished; can’t you stay for that? For old times sake? Look, I know it isn’t much, but these awful modernist buildings we’ve inhabited have to count for something, a lol or two. Hey, I know it says you’re busy on gchat, but remember that time we laughed so hard you snorted ‘Habermas!’ ? Let’s watch an episode of House. Or Grey’s Anatomy! Even better. I’ll order some Dominos and pick up some tequila. We need your halp. We need your extra zzzzzs. We need your astute critical eye: “h8 frankfurt school h8 adorno h8 them all,” you said. You weren’t wrong. You were always the brains behind this operation. ... I see, okay. otay. i spose ur rite. bai now, Dani, bai.
MARGO IRVIN Has your heart ever been torn asunder, when a nearby curly head of hair spins around and it’s not your precious Margo, but a Chucky Doll? Well, I sure have been, but it was no big deal – Margo had just moved to Argentina for a spell in order to have enough peace and solitude in which to download PDFs of the Indy and meticulously seek out all the wrongly-bolded commas in them. She came back with such a thick aura that it’s necessary to bust - or confirm - some myths: yes, she knew that already; yes, those horrible shoes look insanely chic on her; yes, she can make a thanksgiving dinner for 30 in six minutes with only a can of condensed milk and a garlic press while reciting the entire Aeneid to the beat of a Jane Fonda workout vid; no, her body was not cryogenically unfrozen from a vault in old hollywood; yes, she knew precisely where you were going to split your infinitive years before you even wrote your article. But don’t stress, Margo’s not (really) a zombie – beneath that freaky, savage genius, down below the layer of deviled eggs and pixie dust, is just a sweet little freek-a-leek who wants to fuckin party.
SIMONE LANDON When I first saw Simone, I heard trombones. It was winter— her scaly hands were gloved in Swarovski crystals—and with glittering fingertips she drew from her pocket a punch-card to guest me into the Illuminati banquet. I said I was nervous; she slapped me across the face. “Shut up/whatever,” she said, and without another word shoved me into a dumbwaiter. We spent a few weeks in there, plunging toward the core of the earth, and as she decried patriarchy and located the etiology of everything in the city of Detroit, MI, I felt more homosocial tension than Josh Jackson and Paul Walker did when they got stuck in that cage in The Skulls. Palpable. Anyway, by the time Mercury slid into retrograde, we hit bottom. The door flew open onto a grotesque parade of bodies with no belly buttons and phantom hands, chatting amiably about blogs beside a lake of sulphur. Simone castigated a group of youths playing spin-the-bottle (“If you want to make out, make out!”) while I hid behind the legs of grazing megafauna. “It’s scary among the powerful,” I said, to which Simone replied, “We’re prettier and we fuck more.” She then took my hand and led me to the Garden of Adonis, which looked like Chris Carney’s bedroom, and kissed me among the prototypes. I replayed it in my head for weeks—but whenever I brought it up, Simone claimed she’d forgotten. But you know what Simone? I remember. And you know what else? I just bit through my own hand. Which means more to me, or you, or Gabrielle Union than you can ever understand. To be honest with you? It means everything.
by Suerynn Lee
8 PM 48 Hour Film Competition. Prompts will go out online at 8:00 pm to teams that have registered in advance. Students can register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org before with their group name, leader, members, and school. The contest is limited to groups of undergraduate students with ten or fewer members. Check www. ivyfilmfestival.com/48. 10 PM Blood from a Turnip. Rhode Island's oldest late night puppet salon: What is a puppet? Who really pulls the strings? Is life just a performance? Text, sound, imagery, and movement, the cute with the macabre. "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, It'll Come Back From the Dead and Eat Your Brain." Also, "For The Hoot Owl (An Opera for Headphones)" investigates role-playing and deer hunting. At the Perishable Theatre, Providence. $5.
SATURDAY | 20 12 - 5 PM Providence Really Really Free Market!. Bring usable goods, food, talents, skills to share. At Dexter Field, Providence. FREE. 2PM From the Ashes: Surviving The Station Nightclub Fire. Join authors Paul Lonardo and Gina Russo who tell the story of Gina's survival and recovery from one of the worst disasters in RI history. At the Brown Bookstore, Providence. FREE.
3 PM The Manton Avenue Project presents: “It Sounds So Crazy It Just Might Work, the plays of Invention.” Plays written by fourth graders, acted by adults. At the Media and Arts Center at Met Public, Providence. FREE. MONDAY | 22 7PM Lecture on Murakami by Thomas Cobb, a Rhode Island College Professor and author of “Crazy Heart.” At Marian J. Mohr Memorial Library, Johnston. FREE.
5 PM Kennedy Plaza Ice Rink Opening Weekend. Did you know the 14,000-square-foot skating rink is twice the size of Rockefeller Plaza’s ice rink? Kennedy Plaza, Providence. $6.
TUESDAY | 23 5 PM Reading for a Living: Observations on the Difference Between Lay and Professional Reading. Lecture by John Guillory. Pembroke Hall, Room 305, Brown University, Providence. FREE.
9 PM imadethismistake (LP release show) // Weak Teeth // Math The Band // Barnswallow. At AS220, Providence. $6.
8 PM ARC & Firehouse 13 present: The 1st Annual ARTIST SESSIONS, a time when all of us get together and create music and joy to aid others in our community. KC Maoners, Chris Rosenquest, Eric Bloom and The Reform Party, The Kildevil & The Lovely Jess Powers. At Firehouse 13, Providence. $10.
SUNDAY | 21 3 PM An afternoon of Javanese Gamelan! At Grant Recital Hall, Brown University, Providence. FREE.
WEDNESDAY | 24 5:30 PM Tour of AS220 with Founder and Artistic Director Bert Crenca. At AS220, Providence. FREE. 7 PM Cooler Than Smack // PROZAK // The R.O.C. Trailer (?) on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=7YPG6u2IjAw. At Jerky’s Music Hall, Providence. $15. 9PM The Gobble Gobble Getdown. Thanksgiving Eve party. 21+. DJ Osheen & DJ Freezy. Cover. THURSDAY | 25 12:30 PM Patriots vs Lions on CBS 4:15 PM Saints vs Cowboys on Fox 8:20 PM Bengals v Jets on NFL Network
The List Presents: How To Draw A Hand Turkey 1. Gather supplies. You’ll need a piece of paper and a crayon or two. 2. Place your non-dominant hand, palm down, firmly and flatly on sheet of paper. 3. Holding crayon in dominant hand, carefully trace around the digits of other hand until you arrive at a turkey-ish shape. 4. Draw in stick feet, crest, eyes, beak, & feathers as necessary. 5. Gobble gobble.
FRIDAY | 19 7 PM The Rude Mechanicals, a Shakespearean scenes festival, presented by Shakespeare on the Green. At the Underground, Brown University, Providence. FREE.