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INDEPENDENT VOLUME XXII, ISSUE 7 MARCH 24, 2011 BROWN/RISD WEEKLY

March Madness // 6 Pirates // 11 Horoscopes // 17


FROM THE EDITORS: Bagpipes, car horns, and chants of protest rang out at the intersection of Waterman and Brown on Wednesday, as a rally by the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property (TFP) fomented an impromptu counter-protest for marriage equality. The TFP— crew-cut males, a marching drummer, and two bagpipers (when did bagpipes become a symbol of the traditional nuclear family?)—stood stalwartly, straight-faced, their “Marriage is Between a Man and a Woman” sign standing for all to read. The reaction from Brown and RISD students ran the gamut: many stood in disbelief (“do they know where they are?”), others were entertained, but most opted for provocation: same sex couples made out in front of the TFP and obscenities were launched at the TFP crowd—all before the videocamera of one TFP member intent on documenting the proceedings. I stood on the corner and wondered exactly what was truly the best means of counter-protest. The TFP certainly knew where it was; though its mission is nationwide, its protest at one of the nation’s most liberal campuses was clearly calculated. I began to think that perhaps the best way to humiliate these men was to ignore them entirely, not to give them the satisfaction of feeling like martyrs, a minority attacked by the liberal mass. Watching as the cameraman pointed the lens toward one angry protestor cursing him at the top of her lungs, I understood that the TFP feeds off this feeling of victimization. But then I imagined the intersection of Waterman and Brown devoid of all counter-protest, and this seemed even worse—it would seem as if we were tolerant of the TFP’s message or unaffected by its presence. Ultimately, I discovered that the only proper course of action is to fight fire with fire, to show that this message will not be tolerated—but to make sure that the flames are equal in size. The worst thing we can do is be complacent in the face of bigotry, but almost as bad is to fuel its flames. It can be difficult to control emotion in the face of TFP’s claims about the immorality of same-sex marriage, but the weight behind our message is lost the minute we fail to demonstrate that maturity and moral indignation aren’t mutually excusive. —DA

THE ISSUE: News WEEK IN REVIEW by David Adler, Anna Matejcek, and Emma Whitford

A CULTURAL FOOTNOTE: THE JAPANESE DISASTER by Ben Tucker

MANAGING EDITORS Gillian Brassil, Erik Font, Emily Martin • NEWS Emily Gogolak, Ashton Strait, Emma Whitford • METRO Emma Berry, Malcolm Burnley, Alice Hines, Jonah Wolf • FEATURES Belle Cushing, Mimi Dwyer, Eve Blazo, Kate Welsh • ARTS Ana Alvarez, Maud Doyle, Olivia Fagon, Alex Spoto • LITERARY Kate Van Brocklin • SCIENCE Maggie Lange • SPORTS/FOOD David Adler, Greg Berman • OCCULT Alexandra Corrigan, Natasha Pradhan• LIST Dayna Tortorici • STAFF WRITER Erica Schwiegershausen • CIPHRESS IN CHIEF Raphaela Lipinsky • COVER/CREATIVE CONSULTANT Emily Martin • X Fraser Evans • ILLUSTRATIONS Annika Finne, Becca Levinson • DESIGN Maija Ekey, Katherine Entis, Mary-Evelyn Farrior, Emily Fishman, Maddy Jennings, Eli Schmitt, Joanna Zhang • PHOTOGRAPHY John Fisher • STAFF PHOTOGRAPHERS Sarah Friedland, Annie Macdonald • SENIOR EDITORS Katie Jennings, Tarah Knaresboro, Erin Schikowski, Eli Schmitt, Dayna Tortorici, Alex Verdolini COVER ART Annika Finne Contact theindy@gmail.com for advertising information. // theindy.org 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.

EPHEMERA:

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Metro PROVIDENCE BITES by Malcolm Burnley and Emily Gogolak

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Sports THE NEW YORK TIMES: A SPORTS BRACKET by Eli Schmitt and Dayna Tortorici

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Arts SLEEP NO MORE by Mearna Sharma

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Features HIGH FASHION/BIG BUSINESS

THE INDY IS:

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by Belle Cushing

RHODE ISLAND PIRATES FOR LIFE

by Malcolm Burnley

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Science YOUR BRAIN ON MEDITATION by Nupur Shridhar

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Food RENEGADE MUFFINS by Tarah Knaresboro

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Literary NICKY PARK MEMORIAL PARK by Deepali Gupta

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Occult WANDERING STARS by Alessandra Auspicious and Kate Klairvoyant

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MARCH 24 2011 | THE COLLEGE HILL INDEPENDENT | www.THEINDY.org

She’s the No Woman

Hillary Clinton’s take-home message this week is simple: nothing lasts forever. Last Wednesday Clinton gave Wolf Blitzer the same blunt answer to a barrage of questions about her next political move:  Blitzer: Do you want to serve a second term as Secretary of State?  Clinton: No. B: Would you like to serve as Secretary of Defense?  C: No. B: Would you like to be Vice President of the United States?  C: No. B: Would you like to be President of the United States?  C: No. Even if America is under the impression that Clinton is a contender for these positions, she’s adamant about bringing her public, political life to an end. So what lies ahead for Clinton? There’s the possibility of another autobiography, this one focusing on her 2008 primary campaign, her loss to Obama, and her tenure as Secretary of State. She has also alluded to the possibility of teaching, or starting a foundation focused on promoting international women’s rights.  And then, just maybe, Chelsea will have a baby. Clinton admitted to Blitzer that, due to the currently volatile international political climate, “There isn’t anything that I can imagine doing after this that would be as demanding, as challenging or rewarding [as serving for the Obama administration].” But, at the end of the day, “I love babies.” – EW

Saving the Internet

Operation Odyssey Dawn-s Saturday, March 19 marked the beginning of Operation Odyssey Dawn—an assault led by American forces on the Qaddafi regime through a series of tomahawk missiles—moving forward with the U.N.-approved “no-fly zone” policy to cripple Libya’s air defense centers. With this next level of violence, however, has come backlash from the international and domestic community alike. In the course of Libya’s uprising, it has become increasingly clear the downfall of Muammar el-Qaddafi will not guarantee a bright future for Libya and its people. Libya does not display the same sense of unity against tyranny as countries like Egypt; Qaddafi aside, internal tension could well produce a civil war. Qaddafi himself recognizes this: in his letter to President Barack Obama, he is no longer directly concerned with asserting his innocence; instead, he is pleading with the United States and its allies to bear in mind the potential consequences of violence against him. “You will regret it if you take a step toward intervening in our internal affairs,” he warned. Qaddafi emphasized in his address to Obama that he is “confronting Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb”—a radical Islamist militia that he believes could take Libya by force in a post-Qaddafi weakened state. The hasty use of force by Western nations has thus caused many nations—Italy and Norway among them—to suspend military operations. Meanwhile, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has referred to Obama’s decision to interfere in Libya an “impeachable offense,” as he acted without the approval of Congress. He repeated a quote from Obama from 2007 back at him: “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” Others in the U.S. are concerned that military involvement in Libya sets a bad precedent with respect to similar revolutions in the Middle East—if Qaddafi’s violence against the rebels won’t be tolerated, it would be hypocrisy to fail to defend protestors in countries like Bahrain and Yemen. Much like the decision-making that led to a military operation sharing a name with a Yes album, the intentions of the United States in Operation Odyssey Dawn remain incredibly ill-defined. Obama claims that the operation is intended to protect Libyan citizens under attack by pro-Qaddafi forces, but the endpoint of OOD is murky— reminiscent of other U.S. military engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq. Looking forward, the actions of the U.S. will reflect much more than its policy concerning Libya. In an era where the foreign policy motives of America has been almost entirely discredited, the role of the U.S. in this string of Middle Eastern revolutions may be a turning point to send a message to the international community as well as a domestic populace disillusioned with war—to intervene or not intervene, to enforce democracy or respect autonomy. –DA

Junior senator Al Franken (D)—formerly of SNL, currently of the state of Minnesota—assigned the techies, creative types, and media entrepreneurs assembled at this year’s SXSW Interactive festival in Austin a rather daunting task: “Save the internet.” In light of recent internet privacy debates, the Wikileaks scandal, and, perhaps most disturbingly, Rebecca Black’s viral video “Friday,” you may have found yourself thinking that the internet needs saving. According to Franken, and several other independent media analysts, you’re right. In its current form, the internet is characterized by the basic principle of net neutrality—telecom companies providing internet access treat all data sources equally, regardless of the creator’s financial means. As Franken warned in his halfhour speech, addressed to a crowd of largely liberal, young web creators and entrepreneurs, this may soon change. In a House panel held last week, lawmakers passed a billthat, if approved by Congress and the president, will make it impossible for the Federal Communications Commission to regulate the internet in the interest of maintaining net neutrality. According to the New York Times, large telecom corporations like Verizon have spent the past few years readying themselves to profit from this change. Josh Silver, CEO of the non-profit Free Press, and contributor to the Huffington Post, agrees with Franken and argues that passing the bill would “turn the internet into something akin to the cable TV tiered system,” where the distribution of information and media is determined by corporate interests, rather than the personal whims of each internet user. Certain internet content would cost more, while governments, companies, or individuals would be able to pay telecom companies to make their content more easily accessible than that of less financially blessed competitors. According to Silver, ending the FCC’s regulatory power is liable to create an internet industry that self-regulates in the same way the big banks of the recent global financial crisis did—i.e., not at all. Franken’s prediction that the death of net neutrality will become “the First Amendment issue of our time” sounds ominous enough, but for those of us less concerned with constitutional issues, be warned that increased corporate control of the internet may well herald the death of indie music, meaning that we’ll all be “stuck listening to the Black Eyed Peas and reminiscing about the days before you had to sell out to make it.” Scared now? –AM


3 |NEWS ANALYSIS

by Ben Tucker

1. Though estimates of the dead were provided – around 270,000 in April, 2010, and around 316,000 in January, 2011 – no one can specifically explain the origins of these numbers.

2. Even the word “under-developed” suggests this condescension, and it becomes difficult to describe these attitudes of superiority without reproducing them.

3. Certainty in future earthquakes comes more from scientific investigation than from historical legacy, but the two are undeniably related as both the scientific questions we choose to ask and the scientific conclusions we choose to value are informed by our society’s history.

4. Contemporary Japan is the world’s third largest national economy, and among countries with an area of over 250,000 km2, its density is second only to India.

MARCH 24 2011 | THE COLLEGE HILL INDEPENDENT | www.THEINDY.org

A CULTURAL FOOTNOTE: THE JAPANESE DISASTER How Japan’s modern history conditioned both what happened in Japan and how we received it Fifteen months ago, Haiti experienced an earthquake whose immediate and longterm human consequences are nearly unfathomable. Around three hundred thousand Haitians died during the earthquake and its aftermath, an estimate rendered doubly disturbing by its magnitude and imprecision.1 Any estimate of the casualties is likely to be off by more people than you or I have ever met. In the blogosphere and U.S. media, Haiti was described as a “backwards country,” and this became general explanation for the extent of the damage, the obstacles to efficient aid provision, and the fact that for many Americans used to a certain amount of control over nature, the crisis just didn’t fit into our rational picture of the modern world. The same rhetoric became the basis for public speeches’ hopeful conclusions, moments of soaring oratory in which the amount destroyed became the amount we (the Western world making and hearing the speech) must efficiently and rationally rebuild. Though we approached Haiti with sincere compassion, this approach was bound up with the typical condescension of the first world when dealing with under-developed nations.2 The cultural and material context of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami is clearly drastically different than that of Haiti. Japan’s material resources and social institutions were more prepared to respond to disaster, a difference evidenced in the disaster’s consequences. The way we interpret those consequences, though, is different as well. In Western eyes the destruction is not the distant experience of an under-developed other, but an experience that we find much more imaginable. Finally, though, Japan’s economic development defined the physical manifestation of the disaster not only by reducing its direct effects but also by creating the possibility that the indirect effects might become unimaginably cataclysmic. The history of earthquakes is inseparable from the history of Japan, and considering the context of this particular earthquake leads us to investigate how Japan developed in the shadow of the earthquake in general. Though modernization, the process of gaining control over the natural world, usually separates the modernizing society from its past, Japanese modernization hasn’t been so forgetful. The memory of past earthquakes can be found in building codes, regular readiness exercises, and the allocation of serious resources to technologies for minimizing the consequences of earthquakes, which have come to be considered eventual certainties rather than mere possibilities.3 As it became one of the world’s largest and most dense economies, Japan had both the need and the capacity to build up rather than out, and so implemented modern, capitalintensive building techniques.4 Because these techniques didn’t become widely available (indeed, they didn’t even exist)

until after the September 1, 1923 earthquake that destroyed much of Tokyo and killed over 100,000 people, they have been applied over the years to prevent a similar disaster. The memory of that devastating earthquake is ritualized and fixed as a persistent part of modern Japanese culture; the anniversary date is used for earthquake drills throughout the country. Japanese modern architecture subtly expresses earthquake consciousness even while otherwise resembling Western architectural modernism. An anecdotal but poignant case: the Sompo Japan headquarters, a mid-70’s Tokyo skyscraper designed by Uchida Shozo, recalls Mies van der Rohe’s 1950s American skyscrapers, but altered in such a way as to prevent window shards from reaching the street in the event of an earthquake.5 By adapting to particular geological concerns, the Japanese cityscape comes to ensure the irrelevance of nature—the definitive task, for better or for worse, of the modern city.6 A second product of this particular cultural and material context is the immense quantity of deeply personal media objects7 that became available soon after the disaster occurred. As home to much of the consumer electronics industry, Japan’s market and population are thoroughly saturated with gadgets, many of which were switched on to record the experience. Tweets and videos reached Western spectators, and even though they came from the other side of the world, they were highly personal expressions on websites we already had bookmarked, making the way we encountered these experiences more familiar than foreign. Consequently, these individualized and mediated moments, placed in the context of the web browser and removed from that of disaster, communicate and reproduce authentic emotional experience more effectively than the all-too-real footage of dusty death from the inhuman perspective of the news-copter. Seeing someone run out into his suburban street as his things fly off the shelves hits home for us. These little details of comfortable domesticity—the evidence that our society is a far cry beyond natural threats—are the parts of the quotidian that assure us of our safety, and yet we see, in the most familiar and modern of ways,8 that these details can indeed be upturned by disaster. The Haitian disaster fits into a tragic logic, and so it is morally moving without undermining our sense that it couldn’t happen to us. Japan in ruins breeds a deep uneasiness. It was from within that sense of safety last week that we clicked over and over and ended up with thirteen tabs of disaster porn. “Pearl Harbor” was a trending phrase on Twitter, generally appearing in some variation of a karmic vengeance narrative.9 This narrative created a new logic for those Tweeting it: they could ex-

5.

6. Though the modern city certainly responds to other needs, my point is that the modern city, as such, is distinguished by its unprecedented conquering of natural space. In this way, modern life becomes separated from its past because it is lived increasingly in built space rather than natural space. 7. Media objects, such as videos and tweets are made, sent, reproduced, removed, and viewed.

8. YouTube.

9.


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MARCH 24 2011 | THE COLLEGE HILL INDEPENDENT | www.THEINDY.org

10. The end of World War II may be the high-water mark in terms of our ability to remove diplomacy from international relations (demanding unconditional surrender) and to move from victimhood to dominance (from bombed to bomber). 11. We’re now concerned with the damages of the aftermath and not the direct destruction. 12. The fact that Japan relies on nuclear power was not simply early ‘green’ public policy, but is a result the material facts of Japan’s geological history: large stores of coal and oil are absent. Human and geological histories collide constantly, in both incremental human decisions and vast natural catastrophes. 13. There’s a difference between a bomb and a power plant, but it’s the same technological legacy. 14. The only way to imagine another course of events is to stop taking either the Earth’s geological history or the procession of world capitalism as a given. 15. I don’t mean to criticize this advice unduly; it seems like the safest option.

plain the disaster by blaming Japan, and as long as they didn’t accept any guilt for themselves, they would remain invulnerable. Moving from empathy to accusation offered the self-assurance we found in last year’s “backwards country” rhetoric. Locating these tweets in the American psyche is probably a misguided effort. We all know there’s no unified American psyche. Yet Japanese mass destruction and the high-water mark of American power10 are fairly close in our cultural imaginary, and the distance is narrowing faster and faster as the disaster’s horizon moves beyond the time and space of the disaster itself.11 A final consequence of Japan’s developed context is the fact that despite generally safer buildings and more organized response, Japanese modernization also produced nuclear power.12 Putting the disaster in terms of World War II actually begins to seem appropriate as the crisis goes nuclear: after harnessing the Americans’ uniquely destructive force13 and allowing the drive of global capitalism to rebuild society on a nuclear foundation, the essentially destructive nature of that foundation emerges again. The prospect of nuclear meltdown suspends the Japanese people between two double-edged swords: the reliable but unyielding Earth and the dynamic but cataclysmic nuclear/ capitalist machine.14 The Japanese government’s advice to Fukushima residents within 30 kilometers of the Daiichi nuclear plant has been simply to stay indoors and wait.15 The economic law of modernity, that capitalism must remain in motion, is suspended in the state of emergency. Stock markets around the world plunged, and manufacturers scrambled to replace the Japanese elements of their supply chains. Even the nations most supportive of a nuclear future are forced to take a moment to consider the contradictions of progress.

Kurosawa’s last nightmare16 is made real, at least in the nightmares of the Japanese people but the perpetrator is more insidious than was dreamt. It’s not the American bombers but rather the nature of capitalism whose engine has brought Japan to this moment of stationary agony. What would Mishima17 say were he to come face to screen with the news of radioactive vapor filling broken containment vessels? Perhaps he would merely mourn a nation meeting its inescapable fate after abandoning its spirit and falling from grace with the sea. 18 In this same moment, though, we can see the manifestation of a new spirit in the overwhelming international unity of support for Japan. We’re vulnerable and unsettled, but we’re more stirred to action than we are paralyzed, and the millions provided in aid are more fairly seen as camaraderie than imperialism. As the world is increasingly participating in the same modern existence, our moment of human history becomes inclusively unified against the terrors of geological history. However, the disaster in Japan also points out the limits of our modern moment: even if our Internetworked world means that it doesn’t matter where you live, we see that in the end the natural space we live in still matters. BEN TUCKER B’13 wants to write the most opaque byline ever

16. I refer to a segment from his film Dreams, “The Weeping Demon,” in which the Japanese people are mutated out of their natural form and suspended in endless agony by nuclear holocaust. 17. The celebrated author committed seppuku in 1970 after failing, in a coup performed in ritual dress, to persuade the Japanese armed forces to return to the service of the emperor and save the nation’s traditional core from Westernization. 18. Mishima’s short novel The Sailor who Fell from Grace with the Sea might be read as an allegory of Westernization in which a sailor exhibiting the Protestant ethic and at home only in the motion of the sea is murdered by a gang of Japanese boys.


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MARCH 24 2011 | THE COLLEGE HILL INDEPENDENT | www.THEINDY.org

PROVIDENCE BITES the news in chunks by Malcolm Burnley and Emily Gogolak

Illusration by Annika Finne

School’s Out Last week, Providence mayor Angel Taveras announced his newest plan to pull the city from the dregs of its financial distress: closing more schools. “This is a difficult day in the city of Providence,” Taveras said at a press conference last Monday. But it wasn’t just a tough day—the city has seen a tough year. A recent independent audit revealed that Providence had a $57 million deficit for the fiscal year ending last June. To compensate, the city had to stretch itself thin, reaching deep into reserves and resorting to loans. And the situation is hardly looking up. Taveras, who took office in January, inherited a Gordian knot of financial problems; in early March, his financial team released “staggering” figures, including a projected $110 milion structural deficit for the next year. “I thought we were maybe a category-three hurricane,” Taveras told the Providence Journal. “This is a category five. This is a lot worse than I thought. I certainly expected a deficit; I didn’t expect one of this magnitude.” Taveras wasted little time. After the review, the city announced a series of immediate budget cuts, including a hiring freeze for non-essential public employees, more payments from tax-exempt institutions, and even a ten-percent pay cut for the mayor himself. Another key—and controversial—remedy was large-scale teacher dismissal and the closing of several schools. But Taveras claims that “there’s no way to meet our fiscal responsibilities without [these] cuts.” The School Board plans to hold six community forums in the next two weeks to review the proposed closures. If passed, the plan would be in action as early as June and would eliminate up to 70 teaching jobs, cut the deficit by $12 million, and close four elementary schools. All lowperforming and in poor physical condition, the schools (Flynn Elementary, Windmill Street Elementary, Messer Elementary, and the Messer Annex Elementary) were picked for their condition, performance, and proximity to other public schools. Flynn, for example, is within one mile of six other elementary schools and needs $15 million in renovations, Schools Superintendent Thomas Brady told ABC 6 News. Taveras is not without his share of opponents. Parents and unions are concerned about the costs of moving students and fear that the closures would significantly increase class size across the system. Brady, however, said that the cuts would allow the school department to save millions of dollars without significantly increasing class sizes; and the Mayor’s Office claims that no classroom would exceed the 26-student maximum. Although critics have vocalized concerns over the plan’s consequences, no one has proposed a viable alternative. In the meantime, families are looking ahead to the next academic year, hoping both Providence and its schools are headed toward brighter days. –EG

Nowhere to Hide For Nude Survivor Move over Wesley Snipes: there is a new king of celebrity tax evasion, and he hails from Rhode Island. On March 14, Richard Hatch, the Newport resident and inaugural winner of the reality show “Survivor,” began a second jail term for failing to file income tax on his $1 million winnings from the 2001 show. After spending three years in prison from 2007-2009, he was granted a supervised release under the condition that he refile his uncompleted 2001 taxes. While on probation, Hatch attempted to dodge the IRS again, and was sentenced by the Providence District court to an additional nine months in jail for tax evasion. Ironically, Hatch was the “Survivor” castaway most willing to bare it all. The Season 1 winner was the self-proclaimed “Big Fat Guy Winning A Million Dollars,” who flaunted his birthday suit up and down Borneo’s sandy beaches. He enjoyed scheming in the nude, joined by his unlikely ally Rudy, the senile former marine who finished third and once said: “Me and Richard got to be pretty good friends—not in a homosexual way, that’s for sure.” Hatch and his lawyer, Mary McElroy, tried to appeal the newest sentence on several grounds, claiming that Hatch should be allowed to earn money to pay the IRS instead of going to jail and calling the violations “unduly severe,” partially on the account of Hatch’s sexual orientation. Judge William E. Smith was unconvinced, suggesting Hatch’s second tax evasion was deliberate fraud. He was quoted in the Providence Journal as saying: “This isn’t a complicated matter as much as you tried to complicate it. As far as I can tell, you’ve made no effort to put any money into the government’s coffers.” Returning to the slammer is unfortunate for Hatch, who had just begun to climb back up Rhode Island’s reality-TV hierarchy. He is a contestant on the season of “Celebrity Apprentice” currently airing, and had just finished taping when he got sent back to lock-up. Hatch arguably wrote the playbook for reality stars to maintain minor degrees of cultural relevancy: win $1 million, get entangled in ongoing legal matters, and milk the publicity to appear on as many C-grade reality spinoffs as possible. Now, Hatch will watch from behind bars as Johnston-native and Jersey Shore cast member, Pauly D, continues to eclipse him as Rhode Island’s favorite reality star. –MB

Bloody Sock Debacle On March 18, the Providence Journal reported that federal regulators from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are trying to determine whether Rhode Island lied about the health of its pension fund in order to secure $2.5 billion in bond offerings. The SEC is investigating whether the State Treasury disguised Rhode Island’s pension crisis— the worst in the nation, with an estimated $5 billion in unfunded pension liabilities—by understating the actual levels of deficient funding. Of the most lucrative bonds being investigated by the SEC are those used to pay for the state’s $75 million investment in 38 Studios, Curt Schilling’s video game company. Here’s what you need to know about Schilling and Rhode Island’s increasingly dubious investment in his company: in 1988, Schilling enters the major leagues and becomes an All-Star Pitcher with the Diamondbacks. In 2004, Schilling helped end an 86year World Series drought for the Red Sox, pitching with an injured right-ankle tendon, which leaked blood onto his (red) socks during the World Series run. In 2009, Schilling retired from baseball to pursue 38 Studios, an online multiplayer video game company based in Massachusetts. In 2010, Rhode Island approved a $75 million loan to lure 38 Studios to Providence, promising that Schilling’s move to 1 Empire Plaza downtown would create 450 jobs by 2012. The SEC investigation adds further scrutiny to an already questionable state investment in 38 Studios, which has yet to produce a video game. It was only March 12 when Schilling finally announced the company’s first video game release, “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning,” slated to arrive in 2012. Even though Schilling has yet to be spotted in Rhode Island this year and 1 Empire Plaza remains largely deserted, he claims the company is set to arrive in Providence on May 1, the same day he will speak at the New England Institute of Technology’s graduation ceremony. So just how much is a bloody sock worth? For some of Rhode Island’s Red Sox faithful, the state’s $75 million loan to steal Schilling away from Massachusetts might seem a bargain, practical chump change to re-unite with a member of the glorious 2004 championship. But what’s not wicked cool for blue-collar BoSox fans is an SEC pension fraud investigation, which is bound to illuminate the ever dwindling funds that pay for their retirement and health care. Curt Schilling helped rid us of the Curse of the Bambino, but his bloody ankle is not worth Rhode Islanders’ medical coverage. –MB


MARCH 24 2011 | THE COLLEGE HILL INDEPENDENT | www.THEINDY.org

P NO SLEE

7 |ARTS

by Meara Sharma Illustrations by Robert Sandler Design by Joanna Zhang

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ate last Saturday night, I was in New York City searching frantically for 530 West 27th Street, the site of Sleep No More—a Macbeth-inspired, Hitchcock-infused performance piece. Sleep No More is a large-scale, exploratory performance installation set inside an old hotel; audiences absorb the piece by wandering through the elaborately designed space at will, nonlinearly. I was anticipating an ornate, crumbling structure, but instead I found a nondescript brick façade and heavy black door staffed by a bouncer, who simply checked my I.D. and sent me inside. Sleep No More arrives in New York City after a run in a vacant schoolhouse near Boston, where London-based performance group Punchdrunk collaborated with Cambridge’s American Repertory Theatre (ART). Sleep No More emerges out of Punchdrunk’s penchant for concocting unconventional, immersive theatre experiences “in which roaming audiences experience epic storytelling inside sensory theatrical worlds.” Punchdrunk has developed groundbreaking “immersive theatre” in England, creating works in tunnels, warehouses, and factories, and other abandoned spaces—but Sleep No More is the company’s first U.S. foray. Though ART was initially skeptical about how orthodox theater-going Bostonians accustomed to watching performances from comfortable seats would respond to a piece that involved exploring and decision-making, the performance was met with enormous success. Now, Sleep No More seduces audiences in the McKittrick Hotel in West Chelsea, which has been revived and transformed into a conceptual dreamspace that melds the world of Shakespeare’s Scottish play with the decadence of 1930s film noir. The McKittrick hotel’s story makes it a rich site for staging a ghostly piece. Constructed in 1939, it was designed to be the most opulent, luxurious hotel in New York City. But its long-awaited opening coincided disastrously with World War II. The hotel was mysteriously condemned just days before the outbreak of the war and was never revealed to the public. Its countless rooms, empty for decades, fit Sleep No More artistic director Felix Barrett’s vision perfectly: “Once it’s been empty for a while, ghosts and echoes start to infect it. You almost feel the rot starting to set in, and that’s a much more creative

starting point.” Upon entering, the concierge handed me the king of spades (my ticket), and directed me down a staircase that fed into a series of mazelike passageways, barely lit with plenty of shadows hiding imagined lurkers. The maze spit me out into a lively bar, richly decorated with reds and blacks and washed with red light. Women in gowns swayed to swingy jazz and tuxedoed men huddled together, sipping manhattans. Tucked clandestinely into the bowels of the hotel, the bar felt illusory, an unfolding cinematic scene. The newly arrived audience members were glaringly out of place, thrown unexpectedly into another era. Just as I felt myself sinking into the noir-ish world of the bar, a mustached British man swept about twenty audience members with king or queen playing card tickets into a darkened hallway. There, a lady in a sequined ball gown gave us white Venetian masks to wear for the duration of the show. Our hostess seductively explained that the piece was best experienced alone, and that we should explore, follow our instincts, and be bold. With that, we were whisked up an elevator and sent into the world of Sleep No More. Almost instantly, the disconnect between contemporary audience member and period scene melted away: as we dispersed among the various sensorially-rich rooms we became masked wanderers, populating and melting into the landscape of the performance. In many ways we were like ghosts, barely discernable to the actors and free to walk through walls and enter and exit unfolding scenes as we pleased. The hotel is vast (100,000 sq. feet), and the piece is as much about exploring intricately crafted physical spaces as it is about watching live performers. Many rooms were free of actors but replete with fascinating objects and set pieces to explore. I took as much pleasure in nearly falling asleep in a blue-lit maze of trees as I did chasing around the very pregnant Lady Macduff. The twenty actors in the piece did not speak, but rather communicated entirely through movement and facial expression. Though the actors would push through the masked audience members, they appeared to be in a trance, and unable to see us—it was as if we had fallen into

p s n i th e b c Ma e in NY hous

their dream. The actors moved through the space with ostensible freedom, though at times they would miraculously converge, enact a wordless scene, and then disappear down a hallway, or behind a curtain. Sleep No More was spread across five floors, each configured differently: long corridors flanked by small former hotel rooms, vast lobbies, landings, low-ceilinged spaces, mezzanines, and large halls. But the world of the piece was so overwhelming and immersive that I lost my sense of spatial memory (and forgot I was even in a hotel in New York City), finding it impossible to remember what floor I was on and which rooms I had already visited. At one point I wanted to return to a bedroom I had visited earlier in the night, and though I tried to retrace my steps and search each floor, I couldn’t find it. It was as if the rooms were as fleeting as the characters that moved through them. The story of Macbeth provides raw material for the piece: a forest of dead trees, sinister music, blood-covered bedsheets, rotting food, stumbling bodies. But rather than dictating a plot, Macbeth—as well as Hitchcock horror films—provided inspiration for the physical and psychological world of Sleep No More. Crafted with painstaking detail, each space in the hotel conjures up moments from the play as well as atmospheric emotion that brews an overarching sense of eeriness and unease. One large room was transformed into a hospital wing; dimly lit and dotted with crucifixes, its rows of empty beds and scattered hospital records evoked a ghostly, palpable absence of life. The hospital bled into an office filled with hundreds of hair samples sealed in vials. A bloody tub was raised upon a pedestal in the center of Macbeth’s bedroom. A child’s nursery was grotesquely distorted by an enormous hanging mobile of decapitated stuffed bears. As the characters in the piece moved swiftly through the maze of the hotel, swarms of masked audience members would gather around an unfurling scene and then run after an actor as he exited the room, eager to consume another piece of the story. The faceless flock allowed for moments of collective experience within a highly individual journey. As Lady Macbeth stripped off her clothes, threw herself against the walls of her bedroom, and dipped into a bloody tub, we could indulge our impulse toward


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MARCH 24 2011 | THE COLLEGE HILL INDEPENDENT | www.THEINDY.org

d

te n u a dh e r i p tel o h YC

voyeurism together. Our collective gaze made us complicit in the scene, and the shape-shifting group of white masks became an equally interesting spectacle. That being said, Sleep No Mores chilling impact arises from the intensely individual way in which the piece is intended to be experienced. Wandering around alone, my experience was not mediated or interrupted through conversation, and I could truly follow my instincts and intuitions about what to explore next without having to consult with the friends with whom I was traveling. For three hours I could fall deeply into the choose-your-own-adventure world of the piece and allow it to cast a spell over me, a spell that continues to linger days later. Because Sleep No More breaks from ordered, linear logic, there is no correct way of taking in the piece, and each audience member comes away with a different experience. After leaving the hotel, my friends and I compared experiences and realized we had each “missed” a lot (I missed a candy shop, and a pagan-esque ritual involving techno music and a bloody goat). But the idea that the piece looks different to each viewer contributes to its magic—it is a multilayered, everchanging dream, and what you see and experience is a reflection of the self you brought to the space, on that particular evening (it also brings people back for more). So much of Sleep No More is about atmosphere— the audience’s visceral, emotional reaction to what we are exploring and witnessing. The scenes from Macbeth are pulled from the text of the play, yet abstracted. The actors choose movement over words and perform highly athletic, dancelike interpretations of dinner parties, fights, and conversations. Narrative is intentionally deconstructed, and a sense of cohesion is almost impossible to assemble, even if one moves methodically through each room. Narrative comes not from the way the rooms interlock, but from the leaps of one’s own mind. I found immense pleasure in this—allowing my mind to freely associate and concoct constantly changing stories as I wandered through the piece. I was left with a slew of spiraling thoughts, pulsing in all directions. The effect is acutely different from the experience of watching a play that seeks to bestow upon the audience a particular narrative. In Sleep No More, a story does not pull the audience along; rather, the audience has to maintain a sense of curiosity and a desire to make something interesting out of the sensory barrage. I did wonder, though, about how these individually constructed narratives could be better facilitated—for example, if the audience had been more actively involved in the world of the piece. Our ghostly presence was useful—we could wander through the space without disrupting it—but that might be ex-

actly the problem. The audience didn’t radically affect the outcome of the piece. What would have happened if an audience member jumped into the bloody tub with Macbeth, or stopped Lady Macduff from being poisoned? What if the audience wreaked havoc during the banquet scene? Of course, no one told us we couldn’t get more involved, but I couldn’t shake the sense that I had fallen into someone else’s dream, and I wasn’t truly an architect of it. At the same time, too much audience involvement would have disrupted the effortless physicality of the actors’ movements, and the eerie stillness of their tableaus. And though Sleep No More does demand more of its audience than a conventional piece of theatre, it is still incredibly satisfying to step back and watch beautiful and moving things unfold. Audiences don’t want to let go of that completely. I wonder, also, about the longevity of “immersive theatre”—whether Sleep No More is drawing huge audiences because the show is an exception to the norm, or whether theatre-goers are truly craving more opportunities to break out of the traditionally passive audience role. Towards the end of our time with the piece, the characters sychronistically united in a cavernous hall filled with Christmas trees that would periodically spin and illuminate. The various faceless flocks following the characters converged as well, and for the first time the whole audience seemed to be together, looking up at the actors seated at a grand banquet table, frozen yet surging with expression. They moved through a dramatic slow-motion sequence, their restrained yet precise actions building vast amounts of tension as a blood-covered figure was hoisted into the air, about to be hanged. In this final moment we became like any other audience: the play had strung us along, and we awaited catharsis. Sleep No More gave it to us: the body dropped, the lights went out, and we were left with the sound of a creaky rope swinging back and forth and the shadow of a limp body. Before we slipped back into ourselves, guards, also masked, emerged from the corners of the room and ushered us out, back into the red-lit bar where we began. MEARA SHARMA B’11 is a queen of spades. Sleep No More will be running until April 16 at the McKittrick Hotel, 530 W 27th Street, New York City.


HIGH FASHION

THE LUXURY MARKET IS A GAME O ARNAULT IS W

ate Moss drags on a cigarette in bondage boots and hot pants. Naomi Campbell struts out of a gilded elevator in a bellhop’s hat and leather sweater set. Marc Jacobs’s fetishistic fall collection for Louis Vuitton asks why shouldn’t you have everything you desire—that is, if you have the money to spend. The show was a preview of the excessive future of luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. Bernard Arnault, chairman and founder of LVMH, sees nothing stopping him from getting what he wants as the company extends its influence over the fashion, retail, and contemporary art industries with no end to his fantasy in sight. Italian jeweler Bulgari is the most recent gem to join the long line of luxury brands under LVMH. Arnault reigns over an empire that includes within its multibillion dollar ranks the likes of Louis Vuitton, Möet & Chandon Champagne, Givenchy, and Donna Karan, along with majority shares in Dior and other companies. On March 7, LVMH bought the family stake in Bulgari for €4.3 billion (about $6 billion) and outlined a plan for the eventual takeover of the entire company in one of the most expensive deals in fashion history. The deal was met with favorably by the Bulgari family: former CEO Trapani didn’t seem at all displeased about trading shares of his company to become the second largest shareholder in LVMH, in addition to receiving command over the jewelry and watch division. Sales have dropped at Bulgari in the past three years, though the company has still managed to eek out a profit margin of 3.3 percent. While Bulgari clearly benefited from the deal, and the French holding company established itself as a leader in jewelry and watch production, LVMH had its sights mostly set on street cred. According to Shawn Kravetz, president of Boston-

based investment fund Esplanade Capital, “These companies don’t have to make acquisitions but...the large conglomerates want these assets like a consumer covets a new handbag — the arms race continues.” LVMH is competing in this stockpiling of names against another luxury mogul: French company PPR, where François Pinault reigns over brands such as Gucci and Yves Saint-Laurent. The fashion industry, it turns out, though it flaunts individualism and artistic innovation, is as subject to corporate conglomeration as any business. Not one to be satisfied by a mere doubling of financial presence in the watch and jewelry market from his deal with Bulgari, Arnault has hinted at the prospect of a similar transaction with Burberry, and is now making moves on Hermès.

Big Bad Wolf Unlike the convivial dinner date that resulted in the Bulgari deal, Arnault went about procuring Hermès in an underhanded fashion: after gradually buying up public shares of the leather retailer, LVMH now owns more than 20 percent of the company. While Trapani and Arnault were talking figures at a restaurant in Milan, Pierre Alexis Dumas, creative director of Hermès, was giving a talk at Brown University. The ’91 Brown alum and great-great grandchild of the founder of Hermès had no qualms about publicly denouncing the deal, claiming that “something is threatened” by LVMH’s encroachment on their company, and insisting that they would do whatever possible to keep the fashion mogul out. To Dumas, Arnault is the “bad wolf in the family garden.” In the case of Hermès, LVMH’s fantasy has crossed unwanted boundaries. Despite Hermès’s unwillingness, LVMH does not plan to sell its shares.

The company maintains that while it is not seeking a place on the board of directors, it does want to form purposefully ambiguous “constructive relations with the family.”

Changing the Parisian landscape The fashion sector is not the only area where LVMH is met with resistance. In Paris, when not dealing with former Dior designer John Galliano’s anti-Semitic bar crawls, Arnault has been facing stalled construction projects. The flagship store of La Samaritaine, another of LVMH’s holdings, has lain vacant on the banks of the Seine since 2005 when it was closed for safety concerns. A landmark of Art Nouveau and Art Deco architecture from the early 1900s, La Samaritaine is a symbol of the former grandeur of the grand magasin, but LVMH has a 400 million plan to convert the historical building into a complex of condos, offices, shops, and a hotel. Again, LVMH is mixing necessary financial aid for struggling businesses with presumptuous plans for the future: La Samaritaine was rescued from debt by LVMH’s buy-out, but the founding family is nonetheless enraged by the renovation plans. The Cognacq-Jay Foundation, a charitable fund set up by the founding family of the department store and minority shareholder, walked out of talks for renovation, and expressed its disgust in a statement: “This resignation reflects our deep and fundamental disagreement with the majority shareholder [LVMH] … on the future of Samaritaine. We are letting the majority shareholder take sole responsibility for its decisions, which have in any case always been made despite our opposition.” In 2009, LVMH launched plans for a contemporary art museum in the Bois de Boulogne, a large park on the western

by Belle Page by T


/ BIG BUSINESS

OF MONOPOLY—AND BERNARD WINNING

e Cushing The Emilys

edge of the city. The Fondation LVMH de l’Art Contemporain would feature Arnault’s personal permanent collection, as well as temporary exhibitions. While planning for the destruction of one artistic landmark in the form of La Samaritaine, Arnault promotes the creation of another. Construction had already started on the museum, a cloudlike structure designed by Franck Gehry, architect of the Guggenheim Bilboa, but progress was brought to a halt in January. The administrative tribunal of Paris, a part of the national judiciary system, pulled the center’s building permit, citing that the proposed structure encroached on a park for children next to the building site. An appeal was filed by the City of Paris, spearheaded by Deputy Mayor in charge of culture, Christophe Girard, who, coincidentally, is also director of Marketing Strategy for the fashion sector of LVMH. France is divided city vs. state on this issue, which has been taken personally by city officials and residents alike. The City had stated that the area next to the park “has neither the status nor the function of a public space.” Both sides, in typical French fashion, are concerned with the aesthetic effects: proponents of the project cite that the building will elevate Paris’ status as an engaged actor on the global stage of contemporary art and architecture, while others are holding on to the prospect of an uninterrupted Monet landscape during their walk in the woods.

Arts (/self-) Promotion The debate calls up a similar controversy from 2001, when François Pinault proposed the construction of a contemporary art collection of his own on an abandoned island about three miles down the Seine from the Eiffel Tower. After a series of similar administrative snags, Pinault was

forced to bring his multi-million dollar collection to Venice, where he was welcomed in his establishment of Palazzo Grassi in 2005, and in 2009, the Punta della Dogana, two contemporary art galleries to house his extensive collection. Not to be outdone, Arnault is attempting to succeed where Pinault failed ten years ago. The city of Paris decided against the opportunity for a significant contemporary art center once, though its refusal brought Pinault eventual success: The Fondation Pinault has become a major tourist destination in Venice, attracting around 375,000 visitors a year. In centers established by corporate moguls, however, promotion for the arts is overshadowed by the wealthy backer’s unabashed self-promotion. Rather than a space for progress in art, such galleries become cultural artifacts in themselves, a testament to the fiscal side of the art world. As collecting businesses is more often paired with collecting art, in an industry already dominated by millionaires and auction houses, the political economy of an art gallery is rarely as simple as the display of art for art’s sake. La Samaritaine houses only squatters, the Fondation LVMH lies silent, and the fourth richest man in the world shows no signs of slowing in his global takeover. Still, for all the drama these deals create within the realm of luxury corporations, the casual follower of fashion week is left to wonder if companies changing hands actually changes anything. Hermès is a family business that seeks to remain true to a tradition of high quality production. At the same time, it remains a company with an operating income of upwards of 600 million. If Hermès became a part of a multibillion-euro conglomerate, as opposed to a multimillion-euro independent house, it would still produce

expensive scarves and leather goods. The question is one of nostalgia for familyowned businesses in the face of the ubiquitous corporation. It is easier to believe in the existence of art in the frivolous fashion market when it is centered in historical houses of fashion as opposed to a conglomerate not unlike PepsiCo. In the world of high-end transactions, whether Hermès or Buglari is owned by LVMH, PPR, or stands alone probably will not have a great effect on the everyday. However, when such conglomerates extend their influence beyond the insular luxury sphere we must question if such intervention is progress, or self-glorification. The extension of luxury beyond department stores and into parks and museums is perhaps no different from sponsors’ advertising at a stadium or a benefactor’s name on a building, and it is undeniable that artists benefit from wealthy sponsorship. But when new art is presented under a corporate name, the focus is transferred from the art to the power of the Louis Vuitton name. Changes brought upon La Samaritaine, a city landmark and residence for artist squatters, and Bois du Boulogne, a family oriented park, will affect Parisians far more than would changes in handbag manufacturing. As luxury business continues to assert itself into the public sphere, the average consumer is no longer an onlooker or occasional splurger, but a direct recipient of wealthy whims. BELLE CUSHING B’13 is not to be outdone.


MARCH 24 2011 | THE COLLEGE HILL INDEPENDENT | www.THEINDY.org

11 |FEATURES

RHODE ISLAND Rhode Island’s Authentic Pirate Re-enactor

T

en years ago, Casey Dorman left the world of high fashion to pursue life on the high seas, giving the heaveho to an international modeling career. In place of designer suits and leather jackets, he turned to tricorn hats and breeches; he now accessorizes with rapiers and blunderbusses. “There are friends of mine who I’ve known for years who have never seen me outside of pirate gear. And I try to keep it that way,” he says. From February through November, pirate re-enacting season, Dorman lives the life of a non-profit pillager. For 250 consecutive days he dresses as John Atwood, Captain of the Rhode Island Pirate Players (RIPP). As president of the group, he heads Providence’s only re-enacting community dedicated to 17th and 18thcentury New England piracy, commanding north of twenty crew members, although the captain lacks a ship. The Pirate Players dress in traditional garb and brandish replica weaponry in mid-18th century style, making paid appearances at public schools, local libraries, and parades, “walking, waving at people, firing guns, and laughing maniacally,” in the words of the captain. Dorman, 34, hoards his extensive pirate inventory down in the hull – his basement. There are ship’s lanterns, homemade grenados—“a hollowed out piece of wood with some twine and a bunch of gunpowder”—and a personal armory that includes one carbine (a bulky style of rifle) one blunderbuss (a wide-barreled handgun), five pistols, two hangar swords, six rapiers, two broadswords, and numerous axes. His alter ego, John Atwood, is a historically-based creation taken from his mother’s maiden name. Atwood is a native Rhode Islander (Dorman was born in Connecticut, but moved to Rhode Island in 1986 at age ten), merchant, and pirate during the era of King Philip’s War. The captain says he was “raised to attack people and take their stuff,” cackling at his adopted life story. In truth, Dorman distances himself from the modern-day pirates who violently patrol the East African and East Asian coastlines, but understands the motive behind their livelihood—“get rich or die trying,” he says. “I like to think of myself as an educator more than someone who is going to beat people up and take their

stuff,” he says, “although on occasion I’ve been tempted.” Instead, Dorman keeps things legal, moonlighting as a part-time constable for the District Court of Rhode Island, “just serving writs for the court,” he says. “I try to keep it as part-time as possible.” The worst part of the job is the button-up uniform, which feels more suffocating than the chic wardrobe Dorman wore on European runways. “My pirate garb is my second skin.” THE SHIP’S CABIN The captain’s corridors are at 927 Smith Street, a two-bedroom apartment in the LaSalle neighborhood of Providence. From the entryway, only hints of piracy are visible: an un-cocked replica carbine rests on the kitchen table and a neck-high pirate flag leans against the mantle. Dorman spreads out the black flag, which bears the group’s tri-part symbol: an hourglass, three drops of blood, and the “deathman’s head” (skull and crossbones) all in a line—a bit of “pirate brand recognition,” he says. Dorman sits down at the kitchen table with a Ziploc bag of loose tobacco and begins to pack a foot-long wooden pipe, which is sitting alongside the carbine and a 16 oz. Narragansett beer. He resembles a young Benjamin Franklin with his thick black–rimmed glasses and long brown hair curled over his ears. He looks the colonial era, puffing his pipe, except for three tattoos: an anchor on his right forearm, a ship’s wheel on his left, and RIPP’s symbol on his upper right arm. Besides piracy, Dorman can only think of one other hobby: “I like coffee,” he admits. Dorman moved into his current place in November, but says that “the décor is mainly my roommate’s.” Ten military certificates are framed on the wall, along with a Providence Journal front page article from September 12, 2001, showing an image of the burning Twin Towers and the headline: “US Attacked.” The decorations belong to his roommate, Dan Auxier, who served four tours in Iraq, and now stands beside a seated Dorman, sharing a Narragansett. Auxier was stationed in the Middle East when Dorman dreamed up RIPP. “We all thought he was kind of crazy, but he eats, drinks, and sleeps it… there is something respectable about that,” Aux-

ier says. A pirate’s diet, which Dorman follows during some encampments, consists of salt beef, salt pork, and hardtack. Drinking like a pirate is never a problem for the captain. Besides brewing his own beer, he enjoys Thomas Tew rum, a brand named after an infamous Rhode Island pirate. Though Auxier is not an official member of the crew, he functions as the captain’s chief critic and cheerleader. Leaning against the kitchen wall underneath his Army certificates, he fires light-hearted jabs at Dorman: “You’re not really a pirate, are you?” he asks mockingly, before trying to get Dorman to confess a secret love for Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean, a fictional character whom Dorman despises. He also describes Dorman as a swashbuckling savant with tireless enthusiasm for RIPP. “This guy’s got his shtick down pat. He is going to libraries, he’s pushing it in every angle he can push it. The light will be on at two or three in the morning… making his game plan work… there is something remarkably admirable about that.” Auxier makes sure Dorman notes his nautical pun. “You are such a dork,” Dorman retorts. HOISTING THE GROUP RIPP, established by Dorman in 2006, evolved from his life-long interests in history and sword fighting. Throughout childhood, he was infatuated with Hollywood chivalry and knights in shining armor; he remembers running through the woods at a young age with a baseball bat, pretending it was a sword. When he was sixteen, he picked up amateur sword fighting as a hobby, practicing with rudimentary equipment—“sword and board,” he calls it. Dorman attended Hope High School in Providence, where he first met Auxier, then navigated his way to Rhode Island College. In 1998, he graduated with a degree in Medieval History and Anthropology, then remained in Providence until he received an unexpected offer from a friend who owned a photography studio on Thayer Street. Bob Calderon, of B.C. photography, asked Casey if he would like to do some publicity work. “I said yes, and boom, boom, boom, I was signed to Ford.” From 1998 through 2001, Dorman

shuttled among London, Paris, and Manhattan, working for modeling agencies like Ford NY, Top Models London, and Ford Milan. He did print work for Dolce & Gabbana and Calvin Klein, and walked runways for Yves Saint Laurent. While it made for a handsome living, the nonstop, cross-continental travel was not his life’s calling. “These were pre-pirate days, and I was irked I had to forego any tattoos or body modifications for the work,” Dorman says. He eventually retired from modeling to help his ex-girlfriend raise her son in the States, returning to Rhode Island after three years abroad. In 2001, he and some friends started a Rapier Dueling Academy—“more or less a social drinking club with swords,” he says. They fenced in public space on Doyle Avenue behind Hope High School, with the police nervously watching them, unable to interfere: the law categorizes sword fighting no differently than Tai-Chi or a martial art, Dorman explains. For three years, they performed at Waterfire before Dorman had a revelation for a larger act: “It was this eureka moment. At the time I didn’t know there was any pirate history of Rhode Island. I uncovered so much, and thought this is an untold story of my adopted state’s past. There is so much history here and very few people know about.” RHODE ISLAND PIRACY Captain Atwood comes from a deep-rooted pirate tradition in the Ocean State. According to RIPP’s website, Atwood’s résumé includes capturing thirteen French vessels off the coast of Africa in 1707. His brief biography resembles the stories of Golden Age pirates such as Bartholomew “Black Bart” Roberts—“a badass,” Dorman says—who captured 400 ships in three years; Charles Vane—“a badass and definitely a rebel”—who was sent adrift and eventually hanged by the British Navy; and Thomas Tew— “a local boy who did really well for himself”—and a personal hero of Dorman’s, whose notorious career was emblematic of “that nice skirting of legal and illegal that Rhode Islanders are very good at.” Atwood has been known to display some cunning piracy from time to time himself. Several times a year, RIPP joins other re-enactment groups from various


MARCH 24 2011 | THE COLLEGE HILL INDEPENDENT | www.THEINDY.org

FEATURES| 12

PIRATES FOR LIFE by Malcolm Burnley // photos by the author historical eras for overnight encampment events. “Usually, we are just excited to see each other’s toys,” Dorman says, but sometimes conflicts occur. At the 2010 Colonial Harvest Festival at Wickford Harbor, Dorman’s pirates clashed with the Pawtuxet Rangers, a Revolutionary War militia that Dorman lists as a “friendly rival.” It began like any other fall afternoon, with the pirates mocking the redcoats behind their backs, but quickly escalated into armed conflict, as tourists gathered to watch the spectacle of a firefight. Dug in on one side of the harbor, RIPP blasted bullet-less gunfire from carbines and dragoon pistols, shouting insults at the Rangers the whole time. “They harass us about being pirates and we mock them about being lapdogs for the king.” Once the gunpowder cleared from the phony firefight, Dorman found Major Ken Gilbert of the Rangers—“Mr. Fancy Britches”—all alone. “We took him as hostage, ransomed him off, and donated the ransom to RI Food Bank.” When asked about the capture, Major Gilbert says he does “not recall the incident,” but insists he is still in search of the elusive Atwood: “I am out to pursue him and arrest him, but he is always just out of my grasp.” In a phone conversation, Gilbert breaks character for a moment to speak glowingly of Dorman’s professionalism in their showmen’s hobby. “It is refreshing to see younger people coming into the hobby. They are the future of reenacting.”

hating how many people say ‘ARRrrr!’ at you,’” he says, before taking a serious tone: “We don’t want to be another cheesy Pirates of the Caribbean rip-off.” In 1950, Disney released a film of Treasure Island, adapted from the Robert Louis Stevenson novel. Robert Newton, a British actor from Cornwall, starred as Long John Silver, and his gruff accent became immortalized as the stereotypical pirate dialect— loaded with the nowinfamous “ARRRR” grunts. “In America, we romanticize this as the ‘true pirate,’” Dorman says, blaming Disney for perpetrating an inauthentic, corrupted portrayal of piracy: “Pirates are from all over the world, and not just from Cornwall. Why would I as a Rhode Islander speak like a Cornish sailor?” Last year, Dorman endured forty “ARRrrr”’s a day, seven days a week while giving walking tours for Newport’s Deadman’s Tales. For three straight months he hauled 20 pounds of gear through the hot summer sun, narrating Rhode Island’s record of piracy to tourists, telling them “just how unique and interesting our state is.” “It’s really breathtaking. They were able to circumnavigate the globe on leaky wooden ships with what we now think of as really basic forms of navigational equipment,” Dorman says of early pirates’ sailing expertise. He tells the story of the largest mass execution in state history, a pirate matter: in 1723, Captain Charles Harris and his crew of 25 pirates were hanged in Newport and buried on Goat Island. He also tells of the Rhode Island merchant, John Brown, who committed the state’s last great piratical act in 1772 with the burning of the Gaspee, an English tax ship. When the boat harbored on Rhode Island’s shore, Brown ordered his men to shoot the English captain, loot the inventory, and set the boat ablaze. Each year, Pawtuxet commemorates the event with its Gaspee Days Celebration, in which RIPP plays a part.

“We took him as hostage, ransomed him off, and donated the ransom to RI Food Bank.”

THE “AUTHENTIC” PIRATE No matter how factual the library lectures get, no matter how much historicallyaccurate garb he flaunts, there is still one thing Dorman truly dislikes about being Captain John Atwood: “You really start

HANDS ON DECK Douglas Frongillo is Captain Atwood’s 45-year old first mate, ranking ahead of the bombadier, diplomat, and carpenter. A short, bald man employed by the UPS Store, he is fiercely loyal to Casey, whom he considers his best friend in the world. “He acts like the commander of a small military, the way many captains of the time did to be successful. His enthusiasm spreads to everyone, including me,” Frongillo says. Frongillo met his captain in 2007, when Dorman worked at a deli across the street from Frongillo’s job, and the two would talk during breakfast hours. It wasn’t long before Frongillo joined the crew and bought his first set of garb— swaps, a shirt, and a hat—for $300. He remembers his first impressions of Captain Atwood: “Here is a very honorable man, born 300 years too late.” Since joining the group, Frongillo treats RIPP like a job, updating the group’s Facebook page, notifying members of upcoming dues ($5 a month), and serving as Dorman’s lead enforcer, responsible for sniffing out mutiny attempts. “People who don’t want to be part of the organization aren’t going to be part of the organization. We have very specific guidelines for how we expect our members to carry themselves, and if that’s violated, they’ll be asked to leave. A mutiny, per se? I don’t think so.” “Every so often I wish there’d be a mutiny though,” Dorman says laughing. “But nobody wants this job.” He never planned on being captain permanently, but in five years, he has only missed one meeting. That meeting, Frongillo called for a vote to make Dorman “Captain for Life.” The vote was unanimous. ON THE HORIZON In the kitchen, Auxier looks toward Dorman as he imagines what the captain might have in store for RIPP in the future: “I think the end-game for you is like a boat museum, right?” Dorman takes a second to respond, his mouth full of beer, but then shakes his head. “It is to avoid work at all costs,” he says. The group has grown from a hobby to a calling: “This is what I want to be doing full-time, year-round,” Dorman says. When RIPP began, as little more than “a self-proclaimed drinking group with a pi-

rate problem,” meetings were held at the Wild Colonial. For each of the past five years, RIPP has expanded its membership: Atwood’s crew now totals some twenty-five men and women, ranging in age from 16 to 60, but “we are always looking for new members,” he says. RIPP’s show-and-tell lectures typically cost between $250 and $500, but all fees and expenses are re-invested into the group. Dorman dreams of partnering with a museum, and has held preliminary discussions with both the RI Economic Development Corporation and Urban Ventures, but has found grants difficult to come by in this economy. But there is one item he is missing before he can be considered a true captain—a ship. “I’d like to see us with several historically accurate vessels. At least as historically accurate as the Coast Guard will allow us to be.” Dorman has little experience on tall ships, but figures it will be easy to train his crew how to operate one. He is also working with the Rhode Island Department of Education to launch a “Keep History Alive Program” to bring re-enactors to Providence public schools. “History is no longer a focus in public education, and as one of my favorite historians said, ‘those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat the tenth grade.’” Back in the 1670s, Rhode Island’s Deputy Governor, John Cranston, regularly hired pirates as government privateers, giving them permission to rob and pillage as long as half their spoils went to the state. Dorman hopes for a similar, less-criminal bond with the state, and has approached Governor Chafee’s office to ask for an honorary mark of distinction as Rhode Island’s official pirate group. Although Dorman says the state was “intrigued by the idea,” there has been no official verdict on the ceremonial commission. While he waits, Casey settles for validation from his family: “As I’ve become more successful with it, it was really gratifying for my grandmother to say ‘So, how is piracy going?’” MALCOLM BURNLEY B’12 is tired of swabbing the poop deck.


MARCH 24 2011 | THE COLLEGE HILL INDEPENDENT | www.THEINDY.org

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13 |SCIENCE

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esearchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have finally found scientific evidence for Buddhists’ peace of mind: meditation objectively improves neural plasticity and leads to the thickening of brain regions associated with empathy, awareness, and stress management. The team of scientists, led by Dr. Sara Lazar, conducted brain scans of sixteen subjects two weeks before and two weeks after they participated in an eight-week guided meditation retreat. Their results, published in the January 30 issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, show that, when compared to the control group of non-meditators, individuals who meditated for an average of 27 minutes a day experienced an increase in grey-matter density in both the hippocampus, which is crucial for learning and memory, and in structures responsible for human self-awareness, compassion, and introspection. WHAT IS MEDITATION? There are three men in front of you: on the left, a good friend; in the middle, a stranger; on the right, an enemy: someone whose presence provokes undesirable emotions. Concentrate first on the friend, then on the stranger, and finally on the enemy. Examine your feelings towards each, then realize that the stranger can easily become your friend, or your enemy; realize that a friend can become an enemy when he wounds you; realize that an enemy becomes a friend when you show each other compassion. Look at your friend and feel the love and appreciation he gives you. Now look at your enemy: is he really that different? Doesn’t he, too, come from a mother? Doesn’t he, too, posses a human desire to affirm, and be affirmed? A body that feels as you feel? The greatest truth is that friend, stranger, and enemy are all one, just as you and I are one. Furthermore, participants who reported feeling less stressed after the retreat showed a decrease in grey-matter density in the amygdala, the region of the brain that allows complex vertebrates to form and store memories, especially those associated with emotional events. Essentially, the amygdala is responsible for processing personal space and violations to the body—basically, it’s for fear conditioning. As it turns out, our brain cells are highly sensitive to emotional imprinting: suffer a dog bite as a child and the amygdala will remember the trauma, and trigger stress-related survival responses around dogs well into adulthood. The stronger the emotional event, the larger the biochemical footprint it leaves behind and the greater the chances of that emotion being triggered again. Unsurprisingly, individuals who sustain damage to their amygdala lose the ability to fear or to respect others’ boundaries.

HOW TO CONCEIVE OF THE NEURAL LANDSCAPE When we are born, our minds are smooth, unpracticed, ready for the first emotions that fall like raindrops on top of a hill: which way will the water run? Joy flows one way, jealousy another, each rainfall cutting deeper and deeper into our neural circuits until our brains have fallen into familiar biochemical pathways. Meditation seeks to disrupt this mindless surging: what if we could better understand and channel our desires? What if we could be at peace in all climates? This is why some psychologists are considering prescribing MDMA to patients who are severely depressed or fearful: though the pleasure and confidence the drug induces are artificial and arguably unnatural, its biochemical flow breaks through neural dams, unclogging blocked pathways and re-teaching the brain how to feel happy. This is also why we are the stories we tell ourselves. As Dr. Amishi Jha, a neuroscientist at the University of Miami, pointed out in a press release from MGH, Lazar’s finding “opens doors to many possibilities for future research on MBSR’s (MindfulnessBased Stress Reduction) potential to protect against stress-related disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.” Lazar’s website, which features links to yoga centers and quotes from several wise meditators (“The mind precedes all things, the mind dominates all things, the mind creates all things” – Buddha), indicatse that she believes in meditation’s ability to help everyone, even the psychologically “healthy.” Lazar’s results seem to imply that mind-over-matter is physical law, and that the human brain has the ability to learn and relearn itself, to shape itself into seeing and believing whatever it would like. For this reason, meditation is part medicine and part magic. Certainly, meditation itself can become addictive, and the power it affords individuals can be both exaggerated and abused. At the end of the day, though, regardless of whether the contemporary scientific community will accept the statistical significance of ancient Buddhist practices, thinking clearly through one’s thoughts will always be a valuable talent. THE MIND, THE EYE, OR THE MIND’S EYE? All human emotion is mediated by the increase or absence of a handful of neurotransmitters. For this reason, my mother believes it’s possible to become addicted to anything: the brain stops producing internally what there is an external source for; start taking steroids and your balls shrink. This is why World of Warcraft players experience withdrawal. This is why breakups hurt: we become addicted to the idea of a person, embodied. My mother has a highly disciplined mind. She believes in herself. She doesn’t care when her colleagues poke at her teetotalism, or her cheap sweats, or her arranged marriage. Her happiness is only bound up in her food, her loved ones, and her job-well-done. For this reason, she will never die. Instead, when her body ceases to exist, when the molecules that make up her being un-make themselves, like light she will propagate: E = mc2. NUPUR SHRIDHAR B’11 is opening her eyes.


FOOD| 14

MARCH 24 2011 | THE COLLEGE HILL INDEPENDENT | www.THEINDY.org

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ew specimens have achieved the adoration and ubiquity of the breakfast muffin. They’re universally understood and beloved: “Oh, what’s that you’re having for breakfast? Cool, a muffin, nice.” Better yet, making muffins from scratch takes minimal effort and really makes you look like you’ve got your shit together. Muffins are delicious, muffins are ridiculously easy. But we’ve gotten into a rut. Here’s the secret. You can really put anything you want into muffins. It’s easy. As long as you throw it in a tin with flour and sugar and give it that characteristic shape, no one will think twice about your wacky breakfast choices. Chocolate for breakfast is now commendable. Vegetables are firstrate. So are pretzels, or copious amounts of sugar. With muffins, anything goes, and you can sneak whatever you want in there. Which is why we all need to get much more creative. Let’s stop thinking about muffins as flour, sugar, and some cutesy fruit (blueberries! boysenberries!) and start thinking about them as opportunities to get crazy and do whatever the hell we want. It’s time to make your first renegade muffin. Disclaimer: Yes, all of my muffins are vegan. You can handle it. But if you really, really can’t, obviously milk = almond milk, 1 egg = 1 T egg replacer, and butter = margarine. And throw in chicken nuggets wherever it says to use chocolate chips, or just whenever you feel like it. Now stop asking me how I get my protein and get in the kitchen.

Additional suggestions: Cereal (even slightly stale cereal) tastes great in muffins. Leftover pasta (even without sauce) and leftover brown rice do not. I have tried all three. Vanilla extract and cinnamon tend to make everything taste awesome. Vegetable oil is in most muffin recipes, but it’s actually unnecessary. A crutch for muffins of a lesser caliber. Only warning: excluding oil can sometimes make it hard to peel muffins away from their liners, but muffin liners are pretty unnecessary too. If you need inspiration, watch that “Put it in the Pizza” video with Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen. Be brave and be bold, but let your courage be inversely correlated with the size of your batches.

Choco-cado Muffins

e is . It really is. This on ocado in your muffins av y am me so cre t ur pu yo to be e d have it Okay, now it’s tim ocado really well an av e y th wh up er nd nd wo ble n ne everyo fun because you ca le chunky and make litt a it ve lea n ca u little secret, or yo st. things in your breakfa there are bitty green - ¾1 c white flour : ts ien ed gr In - ¼1 c cocoa powder ine ar rg ma c 3 1/ - 2t baking powder la nil va T 1 - 1t baking soda r ga su c 1 -½ - ½ t salt r ga su n ow br c 1 - dark chocolate chips you want - 3T egg replacer - some pine nuts, if o ad oc av inning - 1 ½ mashed-up - almond milk, for th - 1 c wheat flour en to 350. Instructions: s and preheat the ov oe ad oc and egg av e th t ou ether. Add avocados tog Stop worrying ab r ga su d an la, , vanil Cream the margarine ing else. yth er e for it yet. ev in t you don’t have an ey if replacer. Then pu od th me gle jig e ing th ling like a boss. Cook until cooked, us ffins. You better be fee mu ur yo in s oe ad oc There are av

Upon her passing, TARAH KNARESBORO B’11 requests to be made into muffins.

RENEGADE

How to put just about anything into muffins—and like it

Muffin magic The bottom line is that you can basically muffin-ize any random thing you have in your cupboard by adding flour (for shape), sugar (for moisture), egg replacer (for fluffiness), some sort of liquid (for consistency), baking powder and baking soda (for leavening), and a pinch of salt to bring out the sweetness. The muffin is your oyster (unless you put an oyster in your muffin, in which case your creative privileges have been revoked). But seriously, as long as the batter tastes good at the end, you win.

by Tarah Knaresboro Illustration by Becca Levinso n Design

Squashed Chocolate Muffins

Joanna Zhang

This recipe was inspired by a butternut squash pie recipe I invented, which was in turn inspired by a pumpkin pie recipe I saw. It tastes like bravery and two degrees of separat ion. You are ready for it. Ingredients: - 3 shots of tequila - 2 c butternut squash, peeled and boiled - 2/3 c almond milk - 1T vanilla extract - 2T egg replacer - ½ t salt - 2t baking powder

- 1t baking soda - ½ t allspice - 1t cinnamon - ½ t ginger - ½ t nutmeg - 1 ½ c whole wheat flour - 1 c sugar - ¾ c dark chocolate chips

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 350, then pound down the three tequila shots. You want to decrease your inhibition significantly, but not so much so that you burn the house down. Mash the cooked squash or put it in a food processor. If your food process or sucks, add some of the almond milk to whet its whistle. Mix everything together. Some people separate wet and dry ingredients (the point is to minimize over-mixing and keep the muffins fluffy), but some people are too lazy to wash two bowls. Sample the batter (there are no raw eggs, so cool your jets), and adjust texture/sweetness. Too runny or too sweet? Add more flour. Too thick? Add almond milk or more pureed squash. Not sweet enough? More sugar, or maybe some agave nectar if you keep stuff like that around. Spray the muffin tin, fill with batter mostly to the top (it won’t rise all that much). No need for muffin liners. Cook until they look cooked, probably between 10 and 15 minutes. A good trick is to lightly shake the tin (with your oven mitt on)—if they jiggle, they’re too goopy, so hold on. Fun tip: Almost every recipe with chocolate chips makes you “fold them in” at the end and I have no idea why. Adding chocolate chips to the freshly boiled-and-pureed squash mixture made the chips melty and nice, and my muffins ended up looking sort of marbly and cool. Other fun tip: This recipe also works well with pureed so-ripe-they’re-almostblack plantains, or bananas if you’re a wimp. But plantains are weirdly cheap, so go ahead and capitalize.

DOUBLE BREAKFAST Muffins beThis is a little ditty I thought up for people who can’t decide who people for Or fast. break for s muffin tween eating oatmeal or a time feel that waiting forty minutes to cook steel cut oats is such once at gs servin n sixtee about g makin commitment, it mandates under ssible permi is than n kitche your in and having more oatmeal Rhode Island fire codes. - 1 T cinnamon - t salt Ingredients: - 2 t baking powder - 2 c cooked steel cut oats - 1 t baking soda - 1 c sugar - 1 c crunched up walnuts - 1 c maple syrup - almond milk, for thinning - 1 c golden raisins - 1 c whole wheat flour Instructions: flour, Just calm down and mix everything together like before. Add . weird tastes or looks it if up it r docto sugar, or almond milk to enaforem the utilize to er memb es—re Cook at 350 degre se becau oked overco it’s ’til it cook Don’t tioned “tin jiggle” trick. y. squish of sort e they taste nice when they’r DOUBLE BREAKFAST.

Are you wringing your hands because you have a bunch of random ingredients lying around? Email muffinrecipemaker@gmail.com describing the ingredients you’d like to rid yourself of, and a muffin recipe will promptly be mailed back to you!


15 |LITERARY

MARCH 24 2011 | THE COLLEGE HILL INDEPENDENT | www.THEINDY.org

1996. Before AOL 4.0, before Titanic came out.  It’s my first day of soccer practice.  We’re in a line, going one by one, trying to kick the ball into the goal.  There’s a girl playing goalie. We’re also taking turns playing goalie.  It’s my turn to kick. 

Or rather, I realize that I’ve never kicked a ball before. I have given it a little tap, I have rolled it a few feet with my foot, simply, slowly.  But what I realize, calmly, clearly, is that I’ve never just kicked a ball as hard as I can, as far as I can.  Maybe, when I kick the ball, it will fly, and it will never stop flying. Maybe, when I kick the ball, nothing will happen. Kick. Blood comes out of her mouth. And the goalie is screaming The coach mutters, Jesus Her lip is so bloody  split in all its creases  peeled open into pieces I kicked the ball square in her MOUTH.  As we exit, I notice a small sign, a placard, that says IN MEMORIAM OF NICKY PARK.  And I think, hmm, that’s weird phrasing.  Or rather, I think that the sign would sound better if it said “THIS PARK IS IN MEMORIAM OF NICKY” Or rather, I don’t wonder who Nicky is.  Mornings hurt sometimes. My mom makes me drink prune juice and then she eats a grapefruit, and I know that if it got in her eyes, she’d start crying too.  This is the scariest story I have ever told. It is the scariest feeling I have ever known. It began ten years ago, but it starts here, before AOL 4.0, before Titanic came out, when we were all virgins on playgrounds. And that morning was supposed to be just like any other morning. But as soon as you think, this is how something is supposed to be, All of a sudden it’s not. There are reporters at school today.  There are notebooks and cameras and microphones and stands for the cameras and stands for the microphones today. 

And I see my teacher and she takes me inside and most of my class is sitting on the story rug and I sit next to Gaby, because Gaby knows more about breasts and wrinkles and catastrophe than I do and she is my best friend.  A shift. Everyone is trading pencils and playing games with each other’s shoelaces and I want to tell them to shut up so we can feel the husky drone of the notebooks in our bones, the sidewalk tattoos from the camera stands and grown up women shoes, the glow in the air from yards of perfect, shining static hair, so we can find out— And Miss Wren walks in the room and everybody shuts up and Gaby turns to me and says,  It’s the anniversary of something bad  because she knew I needed to know.  Gaby often knows so much that she knows all about what she’s going to know before she knows it.  An example: She becomes Gaby. What’s the worst word that starts with S? No, it’s not stupid, stupid. Shut up is two words.  It’s three letters. It’s only three letters. And none of you know it? It’s only three letters. SEX. S-E-X. It’s sex, okay? Stupid dimbulbs. A shift.  Gaby always knows all about what she’s going to know before she knows it. Most of the time, she tells us, too.  And then we know. And then there’s no going back. Afternoons hurt sometimes. I come home from school and my mom wants to know all about every single thing that happened at school today and I don’t want to tell her any of it, and she gives me baby carrots and I don’t want to eat any of them. Afternoons hurt sometimes because I come home from school and go up to my room and think about the future and plan so hard that when I get up and go to the bathroom or eat dinner, I feel like a robot controlling myself from a satellite or a blimp.  And in the mornings is when I get scared of the afternoons.  She becomes Ms. Wren. Everyone. You may have noticed that there are a lot of people here this morning. They’re journalists. And what is a journalist?

Today is a special day. Which is why all the journalists are here today. Because today, but not today, ten years ago, today, a very bad thing happened, and I have to tell you about it.  Ten years ago, one woman came in and shot ten children, and one of them died.  And all the journalists are here today, because when something like that happens we remember it especially on special days like this one, and sometimes at night. A shift. I walked so slowly back home that day. I soaked in the grease and shine, waded through all the microphones speaking at each other. I imagined myself in the

Graphics by Annika Finne

A journalist is a writer who finds out about things and then writes them down. A nonfiction writer. Sometimes the most interesting stories are true. Sometimes the scariest ones, too. Where the freeze in your nerves lasts longer because you know that you live in the same world that allowed this story to unfold, the same world that propelled it forward, and you are so— But. Children. 

a play for mostly one person but also another person

No one’s ever taught me how to kick. 

There are vans and sedans and women in suits today.  Their hair shines and I think maybe the sun is brighter today but it’s just reflecting off the hairspray.  There is a buzz, and I think maybe I’m humming and I don’t know it, but it’s just the sound of the voices of the women in their suits, mature voices, grown up women with breasts and wrinkles talking because they know what they’re talking about, they know so much about their breasts and their wrinkles and what’s happening at school today?


MARCH 24 2011 | THE COLLEGE HILL INDEPENDENT | www.THEINDY.org

LITERARY| 16

NICKY PARK MEMORIAL PARK

background of every picture, walking so gracefully, soundlessly through the frames of every camera. I came home and told my mother every little thing that happened. And she inhaled, and went to go see if the dog was outside, and if not, where was he? And I was left by the kitchen counter expecting baby carrots, or closure, both of which had clearly been forgotten about.  She sits. This bench is where my friends and I sit during recess. One day we looked at the tire swing and the jungle gym and the seesaw and we decided that we’d really just like to sit on this bench.  So we do. And we look at everyone, and they sometimes look at us. And when they look at us, they realize that we are looking at them. That we are looking at each other.  We don’t look at the bench.  Or we didn’t, at any rate. She swipes her hand lightly across the underside of the bench. Blood.  In Memoriam of Nicky Park, 1975-1986.  Of course, it all made sense, then, after five minutes or so. The park, the bench—we dedicated ourselves to Nicky, that day. We resolved to always sit on that bench, for Nicky. As if we weren’t going to sit on it anyway. A ghost is the boy in your class with a hearing aid wearing a white sheet over his head. A ghost is the inexplicable creak in the dark.  A ghost is the thing you once were.  One day, we’re sitting on the bench, and I notice that Gaby has this look in her eye. She’s scanning what’s in front of her like my father does, before he makes a left turn onto a busy road. Her little black eyes moving from the seesaw past the jungle gym past the skinned knees and back to us, all of us. So I know, right away, Gaby’s about to make a left turn. Gaby’s about to do something crazy.  I feel funny, she says. She becomes Gaby. I feel really strange.

time.

You guys, I think something is happening to me. I don’t know what—oh! Oh my God It’s Nicky. Nicky’s here, Nicky is trying to—he’s speaking to me. Nicky?

Gaby always wanted to be Monica Lewinsky. So I would have to be Bill Clinton. I didn’t really enjoy being either of them. I felt more like the woman who turned in the tapes, shadowed and ashamed, hateful and aroused.

He says...hi.

2002. Everything’s changing and nothing’s surprising, because I’ve read all the Judy Blume books and the Babysitter’s Club, and I’ve been hiding my used pads in a plastic bag underneath my bed and throwing them away in the school dumpster so my mom never knows that I know what she knows, what we all know, what I knew that I’d know someday and researched so heavily until I found out all about it. Years seep on and I wonder if the amount I’ve bled so far would fill my kitchen, or a concert hall.

Hi Nicky. Hi from all of us— We all say hi, don’t we? Don’t we, guys? Hi. He says, he’s glad to be talking to somebody. He says, he really needed somebody to talk to. He says, he’s glad I’m here. He’s glad to be talking to somebody. He really needed somebody to talk to. He’s glad I’m here. He’s glad to be talking to somebody. He really needed—every DAY, she says it, for  And any time somebody else, anybody else wanted to talk to him I’m the only one who understands him. Aren’t I, Nicky? I’m the only one who understands you.  For months. I forgot how to operate a seesaw. 

by Deepali Gupta

1999. Before honor became so important, before, or, during, Y2K, before a Burmese python got to feel Britney Spears’ sticky, sweet skin against his own scaly belly. After we stole Gaby’s dad’s Newsweek one afternoon and read everything we could about, you know, President Clinton, and Monica Lewinsky, oral sex, podiums, we started impeaching each other.  Sometimes one of us would be Monica Lewinsky impeaching Bill Clinton Sometimes Bill Clinton impeaching Monica Lewinsky.  Sometimes it would just crescendo  and crescendo  until  sweaty and bug-eyed Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky would impeach each other at the exact same

A shift. He visits when I am walking. I see his small hands stretching out from the shoots in between the sidewalk. He rises from the warmth of meadows from the groove of concrete benches from the space between the letters in all my magazines. Don’t you? Nicky appears. I love what I imagine to be the smell of your skin. I wish you were my son. They stare at each other. I keep things charming by telling people that I know somebody who knows somebody who knows a man who caught his wife fucking Bill Clinton We laugh about how funny it is that Bill Clinton is still fucking somebody We laugh about how funny it is that Bill Clinton just doesn’t give a fuck We laugh about how funny it is that we give a fuck about Bill Clinton Nicky: Nobody even has any pictures of me. My mother keeps them in a box inside another box and had to have another son because her breasts became depressed about the things her wrinkles told them and I can’t blame her because I know what it’s like to swallow a watermelon seed and worry for the rest of your life that it’s growing inside you. You never hurt any of us, Nicky. Nicky: I never got the chance.


17 |OCCULT

MARCH 24 2011 | THE COLLEGE HILL INDEPENDENT | www.THEINDY.org

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n Western Astrology, twelve constellation signs name the rough position of the stars at the time of one’s birth. While dismissed in popular culture as, well, popular culture, they were originally mapped as scientific rationales for the earth, space, and concepts of the self. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Indians, and Persians all differently weighted the conception of self as a relationship to the greater universe— but they all left room for general relativity not seen again in accepted science until Einstein’s theory. Unfortunately, texts regarding astrology remain irreversibly skewed by their popular translations from Greek, Persian, and Sanskrit, many of them garbled carelessly due to colonialists’ disdain and sloppy translations. For the

most part, what we understand about the field is that it investigated the causal effects of gravitational pull of planets—due to their rotations, moons, and nearby stars—on humans’ earthly understanding of time and location. Even in the modern world, movements of entire planets and stars don’t seem so insignificant. Mapping fourth dimensions and attempting to stretch our existence into other planets seems a lot less trivial when it’s not featured in the pages of a fashion magazine. But that doesn’t evacuate the personal—and the playful—side of astrology. After all, there’s no universe we

want to believe in that doesn’t take into account something beyond our understanding. There’s no way humans have understood all causes in the universe; towards that, we look above and around us for some forces with some un-understandable tendencies. But perhaps that’s just our Aquarian (idealists!) nature. We invite you to investigate your own experience, and see if it maps onto another conception of truth in the below charts and predictions. While each planet’s position in the universe relates to your birth time and place, the simplest understanding comes from the

Adaptable, witty, two-sided. Superficial and Flaky. Hola sassy Gemini! You will entertain voyages, business ventures, and fancy cars this spring during March, April and May. Is your moon in Capricorn, Aquarius or Pisces? (Find out your birth time and place and look it up online!) If so, go out and buy yourself the biggest Ray-bans they make, sister, because you’re gonna be famous. Start leaving the little people behind--you’re superficial, anyway.

Stable, hard-working, loyal. Moneyobsessed and stubborn. You Tauruses never have trouble putting your nose to the grindstone. Come June, we see major career change. It is then that Jupiter comes into your House of Endings for the first time since 2000. Fret not, stable Taurus! It will come with a financial windfall to offset your fear of change…

Spontaneous, frank, open. Selfcentered, willful. Spring is your season! Don’t let it go to waste, because this seer sees you in a leadership position this month. In order to avoid a breakdown, remember to take some time to yourself in mid April--everyone can’t always give you the attention you want. Beware those who envy you. Avoid crowds outside of Shark.

WANDERING STARS

Imaginative, intuitive, social. Escapist, secretive. People born with sun in Pisces do not remain tension free during 2011. You may lose focus from your prime objectives. Health can deteriorate. Avoid journeys. Those looking for entering into a relationship should exercise caution. After May, you finally stop feeling the effects of Nate Dogg’s death. Fall may give suitable relief in overall matters.

Illustrations by Alexandra Corrigan

Ambitious, economic, assertive. Inflexible, dictatorial. My readings reveal that you have been very active lately! Be prepared for your phone to ring more often--Mercury is traveling through your house of communication for the first nine days of April. An attractive Gemini will play an interesting role in your social life and--if you are not careful--affect your drinking habits negatively. Things may seem too easy. Remain vigilant.

Joyful, idiosyncratic, accepting. Cool, shallow, unpredictable. Lucky Aquarius! Venus entered your sign this March, which portends that you might unintentionally attract a mate. If you were thinking about investing in a hair cut, facial scrub, or gym class, now would be the time. You may soon be confronted with a stressful financial situation. Make sure to remain calm and objective. Your tendency to fly off the handle or simply disappear will not serve you well.

Outgoing, friendly, faithful. Pompous, dogmatic. Leo, the loud lion—your gregarious persona isn’t always so sweet. You’re known to always win an argument, even when you know you’re wrong. Some legal problems before May inspire you to follow these talents all the way to get your J.D. Better to post pone your application to the fall, when your legal and professional matters look up—perhaps daddy could send a big check, apologizing for your late application?

Sensitive, protective, emotional. Jealous, moody. You will be busy working hard this spring. The results? Eh… modest. Further, things only get weirder, especially due to Venus’s. You will be proposed marriage to. You will be tempted to compromise your values, take the offer from someone from a cult-y religion. Prepare to deny sin accordingly! Or else, the stars read, your parents will have some kind of set back. Sorry, Cancer–for being the most sensitive and moody sign, you’re seas don’t look so clear until Fall.

by Auspicious Alessandra and Klairvoyant Kate

monthly change in position from the sun. Your sun sign, therefore, governs the most part of your rational personality. This, of course, has its limits—one’s moon sign, for example, governs emotions and other planets’ forces can greatly change one’s unknown mind. The underlain chart was made by Brn, who referenced Ptolemy’s standard Eastern arrangement of features (in order from inside to outside): signs, house rulers, exaltations (most influential), limits, and triplicities (combination of planets resulting in a more-influential force element). Further, our horoscopes take into account planetary movements around the Sun sign, with help from Vedic astrologers.

Virgos are undoubtably our least favorite sign up here in the cosmos. But though it pains me to say, I have to admit your Mahadasa of Saturn or Mecury bears much fruit this spring. You get promoted (BUDS manager!!), and you meet lots of new and interesting people. A couple of you Virgos really see some professional development in fashion. You go on an unexpected journey in September. Hopefully far away from us, my dears.

Energetic, charming, graceful. Vain, bossy. Avoid procrastination! Your work may require several trips in order to be completed. Make sure not to assume that your newest love interest is guaranteed to stick around--they may see through your vanity.

Funny, sexual, intuitive. Controlling, defensive, cruel. Life has been stressful for you. Be prepared to still be busy in the next few weeks, but reamain focused despite the health problems that may plague you or your family. Next month you may find yourself entangled with a member of the opposite sex, agonizingly. Don’t let your tendencies to self-destruct get the best of you.

Optimistic, free-spirited, honest. Judgmental, flaky. Things may seem slow, and this psychic knows how much you Sagittarius’ love movement and travel. Never fear, however: a week after the equinox you have travel plans. Soon, you should communicate with your relatives, but don’t be overly harsh. Venus enters your house of communication this March, which will help you sweet-talk people to win them to your side (get 2am free slice at Nice Slice).



The College Hill Independent: March 24, 2011