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This week, in the annual Summer Issue, the Nass reflects on nostalgia for the iPhone 6, bends like a blade of grass, and writes poems from a Costco gas station.

The Nassau Weekly

Volume 44, Number 10 August 5th, 2022

In Print since 1979 Online at


April 24, 2022

Masthead Editors-in-Chief


Juju Lane Mina Quesen

Publisher Abigail Glickman

Alumni Liasion Allie Matthias

Managing Editors

4 6 7 8 10 11 13 15 17 19 21 24 26

White Supremacy and Cancel Culture

Sam Bisno Sierra Stern

By David Chmielewski Designed by Tong Dai

Design Editor


Cathleen Weng

By Daniel Vergara Designed by Vera Ebong

Senior Editors

The Blades By Sam Himmelfarb Designed by Emma Mohrmann and Cathleen Weng

The Logic of Selectivity By Aybars Önder Designed by Vera Ebong

The Apotheosis of Washington By Alexandra Orbuch Designed by Tong Dai and Alexandra Orbuch

A Dish Window of One’s Own By Sarina Hegli Designed by Cathleen Weng

Short Guide for Running By Christine Chen Designed by Hannah Mittleman and Cathleen Weng

Death on the Acheron By Tristan Szapary Designed by Hazel Flaherty

iPhone Reflections By Rebecca Cao Designed by Vera Ebong

Lauren Aung Lara Katz

Junior Editors Lucia Brown Kate Lee Anya Miller Zoey Nell Charlie Nuermberger Alexandra Orbuch

Art Director Emma Mohrmann

Assistant Art Director Hannah Mittleman

Head Copy Editor Andrew White

Copy Editors Nico Campbell Katie Rohrbaugh Bethany Villaruz

Kyrielle Events Editor

By Sofiia Shapovalova Designed by Hannah Mittleman and Cathleen Weng

David Chmielewski

Mango Mind-Body Problem

Audiovisual Editor

By Mollika Singh Designed by Cathleen Weng

Christien Ayers

Nass Recommends

Web Editor

By Lara Katz Designed by Tong Dai

Jane Castleman

from a costco gas station in california By Mirabella Smith Designed by Cathleen Weng

Social Media Chair Mollika Jai Singh

Social Chair Kristiana Filipov


Hannah Mittleman


Volume 44, Number 10

This Verbatim: Week:

Overheard on iMessage Future Messiah: “One day I woke up and suddenly I was right about everything.” Overheard abroad Secular leftist: “We all know I would have been a Stalinist.” Overheard while debating the ethics of nudism Perplexed literary critic: “Why does Bugs only wear gloves when Lola and her parents wear full outfits?” Overheard during a music discussion Aspiring theologian: “You know what else goes hard? Being a good Christian.” Overheard watching a movie about Pinochet Historian: “She’s hot in the way you want your wife to be hot when you’re in your thirties. I’m not attracted to her now. But I will be. When I have to.” Overheard in a cafe Overwhelmed student: “I feel like that big guy they tie down in Gulliver’s Travels.” Helpful friend: “...Gulliver?”

About us:

Overheard in Mathey Guy with a beard and ideas: “It would be so cool if we had a zoo in Frist.” Down-to-earth friend: “No, it would smell.” Overheard while planning memorial service Ideating memorializer: “Can we play ‘212’ by Azealia Banks during the service? He was from New York City.” Overheard in Buenos Aires Junior politics major, about the Supreme Court: “None of them are as ballsy as Thomas.” Overheard in an Airbnb Gay Jew: “Do you think Robbie George wants to criminalize sodomy?” Straight Jew: “Yes. Definitely.” Overhead at Reunions Former senior editor: “You couldn’t pay me to pay for this food.” Overhead in Frist Campus Center Exuberant sophomore: “This is going to be such a fun study break!” Baffled straight man: “What, masturbating?”

The Nassau Weekly is Princeton University’s weekly newsmagazine and features news, op-eds, reviews, fiction, poetry and art submitted by students. Nassau Weekly is part of Princeton Broadcasting Service, the student-run operator of WPRB FM, the oldest college FM station in the country. There is no formal membership of the Nassau Weekly and all are encouraged to attend meetings and submit their writing and art.

Overhead during discussion about mental health Future MCU character: “My first therapist told me my anxiety was my superpower.” Overhead over text Science-skeptic humanist: “No, exactly, I bet his doctorate is in medicine instead of philosophy.” Overhead while reviewing a psychiatry appointment Skeptical philosopher: “They always ask me if I see or hear things other people don’t, but how would I know if other people don’t?”

Overhead while not on campus Lonely soul: “I’ve realized that I just need an imaginary friend.” Overhead on iMessage Childhood narcissist: “I just want the world to know I was a beautiful baby.” Overhead while hungry Pro-fast food socialist: “I yearn for Wendy’s a lot.” Overhead in DC Enthusiastic executive branch intern: “Just has to pass up through eight levels and it’ll be on Biden’s desk!”

Overhead in impromptu astro precept Galileo reborn: “The sun is just a big stuffed animal.”

Overhead over text White man hater: “I cannot believe Colin Jost and Scarlett Johansson are married.”

Overhead in a conversation between masthead members Person aspiring to get canceled: “The Nass needs more controversy.”

Overhead while debating the canon Disgruntled humanities major: “I don’t know if I want to get that deep into the brain of someone French.”

Overhead over text Wanabee public intellectual: “The people are dying to see me sued for libel.”

Submit to Verbatim Email

Read us: Contact us: Instagram & Twitter: @nassauweekly Join us: We’ll be meeting on Mondays and Thursdays at 5pm in Bloomberg 044 beginning again in the fall!


Volume 44, Number 10


White Supremacy and the “Cancel Culture” Backlash By DAVID CHMIELEWSKI

often find that my life at Princeton runs completely contrary to the image offered in the national conversation. I meet incredible people living incredible lives and organizing to combat heteronormativity and misogyny through The Gender + Sexuality Resource Center (GSRC), but a fellow Princeton student (whom I have

never seen at the GSRC) asserts that the GSRC is “Princeton’s Woman-Hating Women’s Center” in an op-ed published by a national publication. I read the important journalism from The Daily Princetonian revealing former Princeton classics professor Joshua Katz had inappropriate relationships with three undergraduates, but the ostensibly liberal New York Times covers his subsequent firing for one of those relationships as if it were an instance of “cancel culture” directed toward Katz and his wife for their statements against anti-racism. Professor Robert George, whose Twitter claims he is “unWoke/uncancellable” and features constant griping about the suppression of the religious right at Princeton, is praised by President Eisgruber in an interview in The Atlantic as “scrupulously fair” and “respectful to other people” despite George’s opposition to queer students’ right to marry and complete denial of the validity of trans students. Meanwhile, those who fight for marginalized groups like the Black Justice League are shut out by Princeton’s leadership and called a “local terrorist organization” by the “de-platformed” Katz. This reflects an odd truth of the “anti-woke” or “anti-cancel” culture movement: figures at Princeton like George and Katz, who openly embrace the “anti-woke” label, enjoy asserting that their views are suppressed and that they are martyrs for free speech at the same time that they are

platformed by the University and national publications. For a group that claims to be persecuted based on their political views, the “canceled,” as Solveig Gold, Katz’s wife, called them in a New York Times profile, are supported by organizations running the gamut of political views, from the hallowed pages of the supposedly liberal media to the explicitly conservative religious right Professor George represents. These are the basic facts that give me a strong feeling of cognitive dissonance: my “woke” peers and I are scolded by establishment figures, whether it’s the University or the national media that covers it, and told we need to stop silencing those who disagree with us, yet many of those people have a bigger microphone than we do. We are told we have fallen prey to a religion of “wokeism,” which Professor George claims is the new “established religion” of the United States, at the same time that Christian fundamentalists on the Supreme Court use their beliefs to strip millions of people of their right to choose. Fundamentally, I feel as if I am being told I live in a Marxist hellscape when the reality I experience is the exact opposite: reactionary forces are being given free rein to establish their vision of “heaven,” both at Princeton and beyond. How can we wrap our minds around a surge in openly reactionary anger and power when there is no real threat it is reacting to? The answer, somewhat

anticlimactically, lies in the fact there is a real threat, at least to those who feel “wokeism” is a risk to their way of life. “Wokeism” as conceived by the reactionary imaginary may not be a real phenomenon, but that dog whistle was developed to label something that is: increased accountability for those who express white supremacist, homophobic, misogynistic, or ableist views as well as increased visibility for people who have been marginalized by those forms of discrimination. Another favorite target of reactionaries, Critical Race Theory, offers a useful framework for understanding how the racial hierarchy inherent to the present formation of the United States produced the current backlash to woke culture. Writing in her book Cruelty as Citizenship: How Migrant Suffering Sustains White Democracy, political theorist and Latinx studies scholar Cristina Beltrán discusses the white supremacy, and specifically white non-accountability, which is fundamental to the political system of the United States. Beltrán draws on the sociological notion of Herrenvolk democracy, the name given by theorists to ostensibly democratic governments that are in fact premised on the participation of only one ethnic group. (The term originates from the German word for “master race” that featured heavily in racialized justifications of 19th-century colonialism and Nazism.) With the

Herrenvolk lens, Beltrán analyzes how American identity was formed based on the ability of white citizens to punish and exact absolute power over non-white non-citizens such as Mexicans and Indigenous peoples who were violently subjugated by the American empire following the United States’ conquest of the Mexican Cession. Slavery and the denial of rights to free African Americans were also foundational to the logic of American nationalism, creating what Beltrán calls “American conceptions of equality, freedom, and democracy [that] have historically been constituted through white supremacy.” Thus, throughout American history, attempts to call for white accountability and greater racial inequality have been viewed as contrary to American democracy, leading to violent backlash premised on the fact that American traditions and norms are somehow under attack. In the current attempts to assert anti-racist activism, feminist causes such as the MeToo movement, and greater visibility for queer identities in the law and media are all somehow threats to free speech and democracy, one can see the similarities with other instances of Herrenvolk logic such as the attempts by the FBI to label Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders as “communists” seeking to destroy America. Crucially, the historic roots of American identity in white supremacy served a pragmatic


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function for many citizens, explaining why to this day the defense of certain exclusionary norms is important to so many. Beltrán shows that this right to police non-white bodies allowed for the illusion of fairness and equality between white citizens despite an intense class divide: as David Roediger, another scholar of Herrenvolk politics, writes in Wages of Whiteness, “one might lose everything but not whiteness.” Regardless of one’s position in the socio-economic hierarchy, American identity was founded on the ability to receive certain “democratic” rights based on one’s position in the racial hierarchy and their ability to be free from consequences for actions taken toward those lower in the hierarchy. Additionally, other critical traditions like Critical Race Feminism, disability critical race theory, and queer theory have demonstrated how the white supremacist logic of American Herrenvolk democracy is replicated in the American forms of sexist, homophobic, and ableist hierarchies and the intersections of those hierarchies. That is to say, American identity has historically been constituted by the privileges conferred by negation: being not black, not queer, and not disabled created conditions where “whiteness as standing worked to create a racialized sensorium that felt less like privilege and more like fairness,” according


to Beltrán. Thus, often those who hold “traditional” or “American” views which are actually oppressive to marginalized groups such as the LGBTQ community see no contradiction between their stated belief in an open, democratic society and their denial of a place in that society to others: they have privilege but view that privilege as deserved and any attempt to deprive that privilege as unfair. Returning to the present reactionary moment, the framework of American identity as rooted in privilege, especially whiteness, serves as a very useful analytic tool. Take, for example, the op-ed attacking Princeton’s GSRC as supposedly anti-woman. A key part of the article’s “critique” is simply listing the titles of events hosted by the GSRC which celebrate non-white, non-cis, and non-heterosexual identities. The author writes that: “Princeton published a ‘Hookup Bill of Rights.’ Recent events include ‘Drag Show Extravaganza,’ ‘Black Queer Hoe Poetry Reading and Q&A,’ ‘JK Rowling and the Dangers of TERF Rhetoric,’ and ‘Bad Fat Black Girl: Notes from a Trap Feminist.”’ This listing is not then extended into some sort of argument: rather, the mere fact that these events were held on campus is meant to suggest that Princeton has somehow fallen prey to a woke culture that actively targets pro-abstinence accounts of sexuality and promotes degeneracy. If one were engaging in

rational debate, they might note that simply listing the titles of events does not demonstrate their invalidity, but in the framework of American identity as privilege the listing approach is perfectly rational: any highlighting of non-hegemonic voices represents a fundamental attack on so-called “traditional views.” In fact, given the current hierarchical system is inherently fair under a Herrenvolk model, any attempt to highlight those at the bottom of the hierarchy is actively unfair. If the GSRC is merely inclusive of queer and trans people or POC, they must be actively attacking many Americans because the historical foundation of American nationalism is one that is defined by being not those identities and exercising power over them. Similarly, attacks on cancel culture are built on a logic wherein attempts to hold people accountable for their abuse of marginalized groups are regarded as unfair. This is where the rhetoric of “reverse racism” takes center stage: according to reactionaries, in attempting to hold someone or something accountable for racism, activists are being racist because attempts to undermine the racial hierarchy of America are the true unfairness. Extending this Herrenvolk logic, trying to hold someone accountable for any form of discrimination against marginalized identities is anti-American and unfair. Thus, the white cisgender professor who exercises their “authority”

over marginalized bodies, whether in the form of sexual harassment or homophobia, becomes the real underdog and hero of the story. In this way, the reality of systemic advantages can be turned into a perception that one is the victim when faced with even a minuscule level of accountability. Audre Lorde, speaking at the 1981 keynote address for the National Women’s Studies Association Conference, emphasized the privilege at the heart of backlash towards accountability: “I speak out of direct and particular anger at an academic conference, and a white woman says, ‘Tell me how you feel but don’t say it too harshly or I cannot hear you.’ But is it my manner that keeps her from hearing, or the threat of a message that her life may change?” As Lorde tells it, this example demonstrates the core mechanism behind white resistance to anti-racism in which aesthetic preferences and concern for “respectability” are used to mask a fundamental unwillingness to give up one’s privilege. In its complaints about threats to “freedom of speech” and “civil discourse,” the contemporary “anti-woke” movement demonstrates that same mechanism at work: the reality of hierarchy and privilege within American identity is being defended in a masked way once again. This is not to say that anyone who has ever complained about cancel culture is necessarily a cisgender white man who is openly racist,

sexist, and homophobic: that is self-evidently not the case. However, no matter the speaker, certain speech can reproduce discriminatory logics, and the anti-accountability essence of the overreaction to cancel culture is quite clearly an example of this. The anti-cancel culture movement allows prominent reactionaries at Princeton and beyond to transform attempts to alleviate inequality into an existential threat to American identity which must be brutally defeated because, in a brilliant moment of circular logic, that identity is reliant on inequality. The American empire chugs along, yet we must believe the enemy is at the gate.





Unaided my eyes can only see so much Beauty. Blind to the breaths in front of me, but behind another’s lungs. To the oxygen lifeline tying sunbathed strangers; a crystal eyes’ fiddle driving a sandy somebody’s drumming thumbs: United. Ubiquitous are the lines of sapphire ink I strain my eyes to try to see. Crisscrossing through wavelengths beyond my visible light-spectrum; electromagnetic radiation thick with stories, Biotic. Believe me, I offer you my shade of bluish-yellow in the name of love, in the deepest, sincerest way I can imagine, because I hope one day you will share with me your favorite color; Ultra, pentuple please! Unbroken will always be my faith in your Vision.


Volume 44, Number 10



“The body politic existed as it should; the blade grew to join the body as it should; the body bowed to the wind—all as it should.” By SAM HIMMELFARB


s if in anticipation, the grass swayed before the wind. There seemed to be a consensus among the individual blades, conferring in a muted murmur: “It is our custom to bow to the breeze, to weather it, rather than fight.” Such a policy of appeasement had prevailed among the grass, a docile body politic, for generations. As such things have always gone, blade after blade sprouted and rose, reaching toward the expanse of sky just above the huddled mass. Destined to stand and fold among the mass, there was little more for a blade than the reaching itself. Some speculated that reaching was the purpose of the body—to finally

reach the sky would mark the end of appeasement. Others maintained, however, that the region above the mass meant certain death to those blades, intrepid and foolhardy, who breached its expanse. It was quite an expanse: even extended contemplation of the sky could induce madness. There were stories, the sort told to children, of blades whisked away by the wind, gazes fixed upon the sky. A blade about its wits, the stories concluded, never failed to bow. The prospect of an unbounded realm was nauseating, inimical to a blade’s natural disposition, an existence rooted in unity. The body politic existed as it should; the blade grew to join the body as it should; the body bowed to the wind—all as it should. No, there was not quite discontentment and certainly no dissensus. This, of course, could never be. All was as it should. Only that, when a blade alone contemplated the

vertiginous aspect of the realmabove, a decided lack of nausea belied the unquestioned wisdom of the body. Not only the absence of nausea, but a profound clarity: this stirred the contemplator. In the aspect of open sky, a blade recognized itself. Mirrorlike clarity. And so, a blade saw itself as blade, not body; an awareness was born of the void hanging overhead. The grass swayed before the wind, as it should. The blade saw itself as body, the blade bowed. Blades reaching and blades bowing. Some blades, few, kept reaching; a blade may not have bowed. The sight was not uncommon: a single blade whisked away, drifting across the sun-soaked sky.

The prospect of an unbounded Nassau Weekly was nauseating, inimical to Sam Himmelfarb’s natural disposition



A writer considers the stress and exclusion of selective extracurriculars. By AYBARS ÖNDER


any clubs at Princeton have some kind of selection process. Often called “try-outs,” these selection processes give these clubs an outward appearance of meritocracy. The most straightforward justification for try-outs is that they are needed to choose the most skilled members. However, we can also view try-outs as social rituals intended to confer prestige on the group and its members. No doubt, for some groups like dancing and singing groups, which require skilled performers who have already had years of experience, try-outs make sense. Yet, there are also groups that focus on skills like journalism and public speaking that normally

require no extensive training. With sufficient enthusiasm, one can learn how to write or edit an excellent news piece or deliver a rousing speech. For example, Winston Churchill, arguably one of the greatest Englishspeaking public speakers of the 20th century, had no formal training in oratory. From my observations, people who have no experience debating often just do not know what to focus on when crafting an argument and pursue an irrelevant tangent for too long. Learning what to focus on is just a matter of perspective and can be done very easily. Likewise, even professional journalists do not need a degree in journalism. Famous New York Times columnist William Safire did not even have a college degree, let alone a degree in journalism. What one needs to be successful in these fields is enthusiasm, self-confidence and verbal intelligence, qualities

most Princeton students already possess. Unlike ballet, where one needs to start practicing from a very early age to be successful, journalism and public speaking do not require years of intensive training. Many of these groups can themselves provide training. WPRB is an excellent example of this, as they train every new member on how to become a DJ, regardless of experience. The question then arises as to why these clubs, which have the capability to train students on their specific skills, still have selection processes. One might argue that the purpose of selection is to weed out applicants who demonstrate insufficient enthusiasm by placing hurdles before potential members in order to avoid wasting resources on them. This argument is valid if one considers the resources spent on training members in the first one or two weeks too great a waste. The fact is that people with

insufficient enthusiasm are unlikely to attend more than one or two training sessions. For instance, the author of the present article thinks that WPRB is really cool, but they were not sufficiently enthusiastic about becoming a DJ to stay after the first information session. (This is a mistake that the author intends to remedy.) Moreover, training for such groups often just means lecturing, and it does not matter whether 20 or 30 people listen to a lecture. The amount of effort invested is the same. Thus, the logic of seemingly meritocratic selection processes cannot lie in resource conservation. Moreover, not everyone who passes try-outs stays in clubs. Some people drop out after training sessions. If admission to clubs were based on interest only, then clubs would have more members who are willing to collaborate on shared projects. This would cause the quality and


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quantity of the work done by clubs to increase rather than decrease without tryouts. This means that even if every single argument in favor of try-outs were true, a system where anybody can join clubs based on interest would be better. This is because only people who have a certain level of interest in an area are going to join and stay in a club dedicated to that field. Try-outs eliminate a part of those potential members, whose work could prove useful. The current system is thus unable to harness the full potential of students. While the rationality of try-outs is dubious, they have a clear social function. These try-outs are rituals that are intended to project an image of selectivity and prestige outside of the group and bind members closer inside. A meritocratic selection process gives the impression that the club is highly selective and

therefore prestigious. This prestige motivates members to stay in the club and attracts new applicants. Thus, the selection process confers social legitimacy on the members of the group and acts as the glue that keeps them together.

of us already suffer from impostor syndrome; being rejected by clubs only worsens feelings of inadequacy. This, in turn, leads to low self-esteem and makes it more difficult for students to be successful in other endeavors.

However, greater openness in groups that could offer training to their members would foster an environment where more people could actually follow their passions and improve their skills. The way that clubs are currently organized prevents us from fully developing our talents and pursuing our interests. We become shallower and more one-dimensional people. A more open environment could help us all cultivate more skills and flourish in more ways than one.

If all of us were free to pursue our own interests without any barriers, our Princeton experience would be much more enriching. The cost of such a change would be a loss in prestige on the part of some groups, but opportunities for personal improvement would be enlarged considerably. A stress-free first year may be a utopian dream with all the classes we need to take, but we would at least be better off without the extra stress of auditions and rejection.

Furthermore, try-outs are stressful, especially for first-year students. Many

Aybars Önder might argue that the purpose of the Nassau Weekly is to weed out applicants who demonstrate insufficient enthusiasm.



The Apotheosis of Washington by ALEXANDRA ORBUCH

Pink-tinted marble floors and ceilings etched in gold by lady freedom swarms of gaping mouths and far-too-full camera rolls shuffle behind red-coated guides the dimmed sun begins her descent and the crescent moon takes her shift Brumidi’s Washington no longer an apotheosis his brush-stroked countenance and plaster-backed powder blue dress coat dragged d o w n into the crypt flooded with unsigned bills streaked with ad hominems and lobbying funds

with amendments that can’t seem to walk across aisle he wades through the disordered piles grasping at

the rotunda’s bare porcelain walls head tilted upward eyes wide and fixed on the bare plaster dome but feet firmly on the ground


Volume 44, Number 10

A DISH WINDOW OF ONE’S OWN “...upon closer inspection you realize it’s not paper, it’s a full hand of presson nails pressed into the strawberry ice cream pressed into the bowl. It’s a bridge too far.”



he following content is neither purely satirical nor entirely fictional, and you should not prioritize your comfort in choosing whether or not to read it. You are the sort of person who gives of yourself generously. It’s one of the things people appreciate most about you. And people? People are nailing it. You’re working at the dish window in Forbes College, as you are wont to do. It’s a weekday evening, as it is wont to be. Someone passes you a bowl filled to the brim with ketchup. Except they don’t pass it to you; they balance it on the edge of the counter. You stand on your tiptoes and bend in half

to reach it. Your shirt dips into the dirty trough of steaming water below. The bowl, shouting “shatter!,” clatters to the ground before you can grab it. Brimming with ketchup. You leave the dish window to find someone with the resources to deal with the mess, but then you realize, in a moment of satisfying revelation, that you are exactly the person you’re searching for. You are, in many ways, the person you always dreamed you’d be, the very capstone project of yourself. The buck stops with—you. So you smile a saccharine, private smile then get down on your knees and slop it up, reflecting on how sweet giving back can be. You are blocking the window with your perishable, ketchup-doused human body while you tend to someone else’s sloppy, ceramic-shard disaster, and while you are sacrificing your dignity on the altar of a stranger’s tomato-based fetish, people are passing plates and bowls over your head onto the counter. Things are piling up precariously. Someone

stabs you in the non-dominant arm with a fork, and you think That’s where I got my flu shot, and you guess by how spicy it hurts that it is once again Taco Night. Is every night Taco Night? You haven’t eaten at Forbes in years, haven’t looked at the menu in months; you can usually rely on getting the gist of the specials from the remains, like a condor. You wouldn’t have it any other way. When you have the chance to stand and tidy yourself, and bandage your non-dominant arm, you return to your rightful place behind the window. You reach and grab a bowl from the far edge of the counter, where all the dirty dishes are balanced so that you can’t get at them. The bowl has the remains of strawberry ice cream in it. And paper. You can’t let paper go down the drain. You reach to grab the paper with your gloved hands out of the bowl full of melted strawberry ice cream, but upon closer inspection you realize it’s not paper, it’s a full hand of press-on



nails pressed into the strawberry ice cream pressed into the bowl. It’s a bridge too far. You suppress the urge to cry. You set the bowl full of fingernails aside, quaking with an inhuman anger tempered with fear at our sheer capacity for cruelty. You look for the person who passed this particular buck to you, and they’ve almost turned the corner out of the servery! You raise your voice and shout “Don’t do this to me!” in their direction, but they return only a lewd hand gesture and then are gone. Another fork whizzes past your head. Disillusioned and thinking about changing your major, you move on to a bowl, a big silver one, except it’s three big silver ones gorilla-glued together by thin layers of crystallized vinaigrette. You can’t pry the bowls apart. Your fingernails come off in the attempt; it’s like something out of one of Eli Whitney’s nastier fantasies. You add your real fingernails to the bowl full of melted strawberry ice cream and fake fingernails. You suppress the urge to cry. You walk out into the seating area at 8:00 PM sharp.

You raise your voice and say, “Please bring your dishes in! The dining hall is closed!” You wait at the dish window expectantly, high-powered hose in hand, for all your peers to come scampering in obediently bearing gifts of dishes and cups, bowls and silverware. But no one comes. You feel, as you are wont to feel, a bit like crying; but you suppress it. You go out again at 8:15, raise your voice, and say, “Please please bring your dishes in! The dining hall has been closed!” Same result. All the leaves beating against the floor-to-ceiling windows of the dining hall are brown, and the sky is gray, and you have been for a walk, and it was on a winter’s day. At 8:28, two minutes before your shift is supposed to end, you storm back out into the seating area, look this emboldened crowd of dissenters in their collective eye, raise your voice, roll your eyes back in your head, and pipe, “Hark! Know me and be known by me! Once I have called you and you did not come. Twice I have called you and you did not come! Three times I am calling, and now you must come! There will not be a fourth call!” You

just want to go home at 8:30. You want to shower, and to wash the memory of strangers’ abandoned fingernails off your mind. You want to resign yourself to silent rooms without industrial dishwashers— you want to resign. You want a great many things. If wishes were horses, you think, beggars would ride. You scamper back to the dish window as a barrage of forks whiz toward your dominant arm. You hang up your apron and walk through the thick, drizzly night back to your dormitory in First College, forgetting the events of the evening like a feverish nightmare resurrected in tall lamplit shadows and blinks. You pass a girl with half a sticky set of press-on fingernails, pause on the overlong Whitman steps, turn to look back in the direction of Forbes, and wonder what it’s all for. It’s all for you. Sarina Hegli leaves the dish window to find someone with the resources to deal with the Nassau Weekly.


Volume 44, Number 10

Short Guide for Running In A City You Just Moved To Twenty satirical directives for running in the city. By CHRISTINE CHEN

1. 2.

Explore. Stay in neighborhoods you know well enough. You’ve only been here a few days so best to stick with the cobblestone and brick houses with shingled roofs you would stop to take photos of for Instagram but could never afford. Take the road well-traveled, the



treaded path. Pray that their wealth shall be your safety net. Don’t run in summer afternoons. Avoid the heat. You don’t want to risk collapsing in the middle of the street, laying a cross on the Zebra’s crossing. Don’t run past

dark. The cool may be tempting but you know the demons come out once the sun dips down the horizon with its watchful eye. You need the protection of daylight. You’ve been avoiding the news but still you hear of new victims, people that look like you rushed to the ER for being in the wrong place at the w r o n g t i m e , women wearing w h a t


you are wearing stripped of their dignity, robbed clean of their trust in men. You have heard too many stories to venture out to admire the dusk staining a city red. You only see blood. Steer clear of congregating people. You don’t want to get involved, or at least be seen as getting involved in anything. If you smell like weed they might pin a charge on you. If you brush past the wrong people you might end up in the back of a white van or an ambulance.



Do you have your rights memorized? Do you know where your insurance information is? Run alongside crowds. Toward crowds. Make sure there are always people around you, not just in sight. Surround yourself so you can blend in any minute. Disappear. Blast your music so you can’t hear your heartbeat. Let the drum beat replace the syncopation in your chest. Let the harmonies wash away the sweat running down your cheeks. Let


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the lyrics lift the sinking of your feet, fade away the hint of blood in your throat, unseize your strained calf muscles still in recovery. The music will take care of you. 8. Turn down the music so you hear everything. No, don’t play music at all. Silence is your safety. 9. Watch where you’re going. Keep your head straight. Don’t look back. Meaning, don’t let them know you’re new. 10. Check your surroundings. Is anyone following you? Always plan alternative routes. Keep your GPS open for backup plans. Look behind you. Swivel your head pretending you’re tangoing with a ghost so you can sneak peeks of the person walking behind you. Don’t look suspicious. Listen for everyone’s footsteps. Is anyone matching yours? Be ready to make sudden turns. Be ready to cross the street. Be ready to speed up and pretend you’re a dasher. Be ready. 11. Bring as little as possible. Run light. Leave your jewelry at home. Now is not the time to give someone a reason to pin the blame on you. 12. Bring as much as you can. Bring a key, even if you don’t use one. Bring a pen. A pencil. Anything sharp you can wrap your fingers around tenderly into a weapon. Pray you will never need it but never

be unprepared. 13. Improvise if you must. And aim for the soft parts of the body you get carded for in sports. Play dirty if you must. Remember, self-preservation is a human instinct. Remember, self-defense is a right. Meaning, you’re allowed to hit and run. Well, you’re already running. So just keep running. 14. Wear as little as possible. Sweat will soak and eat away at fabric. Let your skin breathe.

You do not want to pass out in the middle of a city, a forgotten secret swallowed by the concrete. Remember heat exhaustion will hit you like waves until you falter, until you melt into a memory lost to the public. Remember, no one knows you here. Even a stray drop of sweat can blind you momentarily and that is not a risk you want to take. 15. Wear as much as you can. Wear a hat. Wear sunglasses. Wear a mask, if you can. Cover

up every inch of your skin so you don’t get burnt, or tan. Cover up every inch of your face so they don’t recognize your small eyes as an “other.” Remember, you are lucky enough and privileged enough to be here but you are still Asian. You weave through crowds of white faces and squeeze past invisible doors but you are still Asian. Meaning, you can end up bruised, scarred. Meaning, you can disappear. Meaning, you might




19. 20.

just dodge a bullet if you can convince them you look like one of them. Make yourself bigger, more intimidating, less of a perfect victim. Puff up your chest without drawing attention to your boobs. In fact, you should have on the tightest sports bra you can still breathe in. Ruffle your hair. Round your fist. Remember how they taught you to flip a larger person when you were a little girl in self-defense class, how your black-belt instructor told you they don’t mess with crazy people. Remember the maniacal laugh you practiced for that high school play. Let them know you’ll put up a fight. You won’t go easy. You won’t go quietly. Turn them around. Make yourself smaller. Invisible. Fold in your shoulders. Curl up your back and inhale the strain in your voice. Breathe in. Slip through the crowd like a snake. You are already petite by medical standards, even if Brandy Melville doesn’t have a size for you. Make yourself smaller. If they don’t notice you today you are safe for another day. Remember, to them you are a woman. Meaning, they will blame you. Meaning, you are your worst enemy. No matter what you do, keep running. Have fun!


August 5th, 2022

DEATH ON THE ACHERON A fictional account of a management consultant’s Uber ride. By TRISTAN SZAPARY


f an Uber driver does not confirm your name before the start of the ride, you’ve entered the vehicle of a very dangerous man. If he’s also wearing fake RayBans for the entirety of the drive on a seemingly glareless day, safe to assume you’re done for. The first course of action is to send brief but personalized texts

straight from the heart to at least ten of your closest friends, relatives and loved ones—this way, they may each think that they alone occupied your mind in your final waking moments. Next, open the Notes app and jot down as concise a version of your last will and testament as humanly possible (if one already exists, consider writing amendments to accommodate to your life in real-time. Did one friend only heart-react to your personalized text while others responded with paragraphs? Has your brother expected you to check-in on Mom more this week because of his long-awaited “meditation retreat?”). This second step cannot last more than five minutes. At this point, the geo-tracker in the Uber

app will already be showing your vehicle moving in the opposite direction of your intended destination. Go with your gut, for the goal here is not to write a comprehensive ten-year plan but instead a rough draft of a will. Bullet points are not only accepted but encouraged. Maybe even omit a few words at the choicest locations so that those reading must treat the precious document as an ad-lib and fill-in-the-blank. Once your body is found and your phone is unlocked, your loved ones will receive just smithereens of who you wanted to get what with absolutely no legal bearing, and thus they must together agree on how you’d prefer your property to be distributed. This blueprint of a will ultimately serves as

nothing more than a quiz to test whether your friends and family care enough about you to cordially determine the fate of your affairs. Once this brainstorm has elapsed, the third and final step is to shut your phone off, store it in the depths of your pocket, and initiate a conversation with your driver. This is by far the most crucial step, as it almost certainly determines whether you ever leave that vehicle alive or whether the makeshift will on your phone ever sees the light of day. Done right, you may uncover the many things that you and your driver have in common. You might learn that you were both raised in St. Louis but never went back after the age of eighteen, or both share a love for high-school sweethearts



who are recently divorced living two states away and a mutual hatred for laughtracks that ruin otherwise decent sitcoms. If you’re really lucky, he’ll let you go and even give you his phone number with instructions to call him for drinks the next time you’re in the town. Half-ass this step and you’ve wasted your final few moments in this beautiful world making useless small talk with your murderer-to be. Lay it on too thick here, and you’ve royally missed the mark. Your driver stares at you through his rear-view mirror as you continue to babble away in the back seat, arms squeezing your luggage like a teddy-bear. Skip this step all-together and the only thing left to do is stare out the window and appreciate the scenery as you’re driven down a oneway road to hell. The car rolls to a stop on the side of the road, which by now is ten miles south of the city and barren of any other vehicle, and you can only imagine what happens–– “Where you traveling?” The sun had begun its pink dip beneath the turnpike that curved ahead. Other cars floated alongside them, concluding their individual workdays with a painless commute home. The man in the back of the car, huddled in the left seat with limbs pressed to the vehicle’s door, ceased typing on his phone and peered up at his driver. Solomon spent a panicked second recalibrating to his surroundings that moments before had

existed only in his periphery. Twenty minutes of the ride had already elapsed, and to his utter surprise his Uber driver had spoken. The spell of the story he had been writing on his phone vanished, replaced now with the bitter feeling that he had violated their seemingly benign car ride with his perverse imagination. “DC,” Solomon said. He glanced at the rear-view mirror to meet the eyes of his driver, only to be reminded that they were hidden behind sunglasses set low on his nose. “So that makes Dallas home then?” The driver kept his swollen hands precisely at ten and two. His elbows hung limp in front of the wheel and his seat dipped beneath his weight, as if molded to their pilot’s frame. “I’m just here for work.” Solomon sensed himself retreating from the conversation, pleading to return to the comfort of his smartphone and his story. “What kind of work brings you down here? I knew you weren’t from around here by the way,” the driver said, accompanied by what could have been a snicker or a sneeze. “See, I’ve been here my entire life. And that’s a long life cause I’m older than I look. Never left actually for more than a month. So my senses are tuned to these conditions real well. I know what Dallas gives a person and what it takes from you, too.” The driver delivered the menacing line with a swaying tone that Solomon found oddly peaceful,

almost tranquilizing. He waited to answer as the car waded through two lanes at once towards the exit. Sun rays nicked the Fort Worth 1 Mile sign and purpled its intended iridescent white frame. “I’m a management consultant. We had a high-profile client down here, so they sent me on short notice. Now I’m rushing to DC to see family, also on short notice.” He then added, to please his driver, or at least acknowledge the man’s obvious allegiance to the city, “It’s my first time in Dallas–– delicious ribs.” “The world’s finest and you’ll be back soon to get some more,” the driver said. “Okay, now why are you in such a rush? I mean, someone with a job like yours that’s got high-profile customers and such should get to take their time, no? You ain’t missing this flight, though, I’ll get you there faster than that GPS could ever know.” The driver paused and the Ray-Bans found themselves higher on his nose. “Why you in such

a rush home?” “Easter celebrations. It’s a big one for the family. Everyone comes home, no matter where they are,” Solomon replied. “Oh, isn’t that sweet. I used to love that one. The little cousins grabbing at their toddler polos and dresses, smearing melted chocolate everywhere. That’s a real sweet one…” Solomon knew the scene his driver described well, as he had seen it every year without fail at his family’s house. His brothers and him gradually aged out of the role of the adorable cousin and now it was his turn to pinch the Hershey-filled cheeks of nieces and nephews. His parents tapped into some sacred store of the energy specifically reserved for the holiday, hauling home bins of produce from the Amish market a week in advance and pinning pink balloons to heights in the house a ladder could barely



Volume 44, Number 10 PAGE DESIGN BY VERA EBONG

iPhone Reflections

“Looking back at it now, it feels like that iPhone 6s was like an omnipresent eye throughout my adolescence, there to capture and see it all, completely unfiltered.” By REBECCA CAO


p until my freshman year of college, I had used the same iPhone 6s since seventh grade: rose gold, 16GB, with a glossy white home button. No case. Not a single crack, sticker, or, really, anything on it at all, until I got a Popsocket the summer after the twelfth grade. It had a screen size that’s probably

half of what iPhone 13s have now. It also turned on differently; back then, you had to press a button at the top rather than one on the sides—remember that? This may sound silly, but just remembering that iPhone fills me with incredible nostalgia. After all, it had witnessed a lot— nearly five years of my life. No matter where I went, it was always in my pocket or backpack, something that I almost never left the house without. It was there when I started middle school, when the love of my life was Percy Jackson (and honestly, he still is), when my gym teachers would play songs like “Timber” and “Feel it Still” during class while we ran

laps or did fitness stations, when I spent nights tearfully fangirling over The Hunger Games and The Fault in Our Stars. It was there when I started high school, when I got my first job, when I left home for the first time for a trip to New York, where I was going to play violin in a music competition. It was there when I started experiencing some of the things that I had only read about or seen in movies, like driving a car on my own or getting chased by a horse (it’s a really long story). It was there when I started to learn what it meant to grow up, when I realized that some things are just simply not meant to be, when I learned how to advocate for myself. It was

there at the best moment of my life when I got into my dream college, Princeton. And it was also there at some of the most tumultuous, like at the height of the pandemic. It was there as I entered and left my teenage years, as I started to become an adult. Looking back at it now, it feels like that iPhone 6s was like an omnipresent eye throughout my adolescence, there to capture and see it all, completely unfiltered. If I could, I would keep that phone with me throughout college, and even longer after that. One phone for one life. But, continuity, as I’ve since learned, is only an illusion. Nothing lasts forever. What finally


Volume 44, Number 10

took the 6s down was water. On a humid day in July after the senior year of my high school, I decided to charge my phone on the kitchen counter since all the other power outlets in the house were occupied—as I had done many times before, with no mishaps. But that was also the day the coffee machine started leaking, and once I returned to my phone, I found it completely drenched in scalding hot water. No matter what I tried, it wouldn’t turn on anymore. It was broken. At the time, I almost wished that something more dramatic could’ve happened. Cracking in half, exploding into a million pieces— something louder, something more visible. That, for some reason, seemed to me that it would’ve been more fitting, more apt for something that had been so ingrained in my life. Then it would at least have some tone of finality, as if it were signaling the ending of a chapter in my life. Alas, it was destroyed by something so silent like water damage, which I couldn’t even see anymore after it dried and actually lends the phone the illusion of working. Even today, it sits in my desk drawer at home,

completely whole, with a perfectly black, uncracked screen, and sometimes, I press the power button, hoping that it would still turn on. Even after the 6s was destroyed, though, all of my data was still available on my new iPhone 11 through my iCloud. Immediately after I logged into my account, all the photos and videos I had taken throughout middle school and high school populated the once-empty apps on my screen. Some of the notes I had written in the Notes app were still available, though I quickly deleted them (since they were mostly passwords for things I no longer used anymore or “poems” I wrote from seventh grade, which I just couldn’t finish reading out of embarrassment). For a while, I even continued to get old reminders I used to schedule for myself in high school, reminding me that I have orchestra rehearsal on Wednesdays, or that I needed to stop by my locker after school. At first, I felt a little strange seeing these things pop up on such a new device and not my 6s, but eventually, that became less significant to me. I mean, who cared if the 11’s exterior was different if all the

content that I really cared about—like the pictures I took with my friends or family since 2016—were still on it? Just looking at those videos and reminders on the 11 evoked the same emotions and memories I had about my adolescence that I mentioned earlier about my 6s. This experience made me start to wonder whether it really mattered that I had switched phones. The 11 was only distinguished from the 6s in terms of how it looked on the outside— it was only the “shell” that was different, but otherwise it was still the same. That was probably one of the most interesting yet counterintuitive things I’ve realized about technology so far: despite the ways it’s promoted excessive materialism through encouraging voracious online shopping and trendy objects on social media, technology also detaches itself from materiality as well. The physical exterior of the 11 didn’t matter to me, so long as I had all the “memories” from the 6s on it as well. From then, a whole array of other, similar situations with technology became apparent to me. In many ways, technology has actually discouraged us from owning

more things—for example, think paper—since everything is compressed onto a few pixels on the Internet, projected onto a small screen that makes them ever more digestible for us to consume. And perhaps most stunningly, technology has completely transcended the very material objects it’s made of through becoming integrated within human personalities. For me, I don’t think I would be as curious or inquisitive as I am today if I didn’t grow up with ready access to Google on my computer. Or, maybe, I would still have lots of questions, but I wouldn’t have the answers to them. Without my phone or ancient iPod from 5th grade, I wouldn’t have discovered all the Taylor Swift or Lana Del Rey songs (for better or for worse) that gave shape to my feelings of yearning and angst in my teenage years. And of course, social media has only further exacerbated my incredibly unrealistic standards for everything from food to friendships, setting me on a relentless quest for perfection (even though I know that most of what I see on it is either Photoshopped or completely fabricated). What do these dynamics mean about

technology’s role in society or humans in general? It could mean plenty of things. It could mean that in the future, technology can become so much more embedded into the human experience in ways that we can’t even foresee. It might even mean that the posthuman cyborg worlds we read about in books might be possible. But for me it means that there’s a little irony in everything—and I like it.

In many ways, the Nassau Weekly has actually discouraged Rebecca Cao from owning more things—for example, think paper.


August 5th, 2022



“It was her turn to paint the world in a different light, through words carefully arranged on a page. To assume the role of the enchanter and cast her clever spells. To dream with her eyes wide open.” By SOFIIA SHAPOVALOVA


eep in the embrace of the ancient attic, connecting the ancient row of houses on the ancient Elsinore Avenue, Kyrielle Fable sat in the long-abandoned velvet armchair, its fabric torn in enough places to reveal the marshmallow stuffing concealed inside it. There was a draft in the room, coming up from the various holes peeking through the rotting plywood to taunt Kyrielle as she sat in the armchair. It was dark, too, the depths of the night offering no starlight to her. These less than satisfactory conditions were of no concern to her though. She had banished the dark with a precious candle she had bought the day before with her meager savings, every centimeter of wax slowly melting away as she sat in the attic worth the hours of work she’d had to put in to earn enough money to purchase the light. The cold did

not trouble her either, thanks to the comfort of the thin blanket she now wrapped tightly around herself. Indeed, there may as well have been a snowstorm in that attic, and still Kyrielle would not have flinched, for she was fully immersed in another world. Kyrielle was one of those rare souls t h a t deeply s u f fered from a condition

commonly known as “fantasizing.” Some—although Kyrielle hesitated to apply this title to her own self—had even gone so far as to call her a “writer.” Nonetheless, she could not deny that writing

did give her a special sense of peace. She wrote to give herself strength. She wrote to be the characters she never could be. And she wrote to explore all that she was afraid of. No doubt, writing was the painting of Kyrielle’s voice. The troub l e


August 5th, 2022

with choosing such methods to express oneself is the slack one often gets from society. A certain amount of nerve is required to fully be a writer. One must be accustomed to the fact that others will forever be judging. Kyrielle had grown used to hearing mutters of “strange” and “insane” being thrown out whenever someone found her furiously scrawling her latest idea down in the little pocket journal she always carried with her. What they did not understand about Kyrielle is that writing was more than a talent or potential future career for her. Her gift was an imaginary friend, a warm presence she could sit down to afternoon tea with at any time and unburden her soul to. But no one except Kyrielle recognized this, and so she accepted the assumption of madness thrust upon her. If someone were to pause and ask Kyrielle where her fantasies came from, she would have perhaps replied that it began with her discovery of books at a very young age. When her father had still been alive, she had lived in a quaint flat in which each wall seemed to be brimming with tightly packed books. Mr. Fable had been a professor and had taken great care to read to his daughter with every spare moment he had. He liked to tell Kyrielle that inside each book was a friend, imprisoned long ago by some marvelous enchanter who had tied the poor soul to a life of paper bound in leather. And much to Kyrielle’s delight, she discovered that she not only found these friends with each

new book she devoured, but that, almost paradoxically, she somehow found herself too. As a matter of fact, it seemed like the self she encountered when she read was somehow more real than the tangible self she actually was in her London school-girl life. The fiction just made too much sense, whereas reality never did. Reality, in her humble opinion, was much too fragile and cruel. It did not make sense to Kyrielle when she came home one day to find her father dead by myocardial infarction on the floor of her study, so easily destroyed. Stories, Kyrielle decided, could endure far more than people, almost infinite in their very being. And so Kyrielle found fantasy the most agreeable form of ignoring the pain of reality. Reading had given Kyrielle someplace comforting to go when she was made to leave that lovely flat she had shared with her father and come to live with her wicked aunt in her rotten old house that was always cold and dark. Sometime during this rude transitionary period in her life however, Kyrielle realized that she could write her own stories too. Some part of her had always known this to be true, but with no more friends bound to books lining the walls of her new residence, it was up to Kyrielle to take matters into her own hands now. It was her turn to paint the world in a different light, through words carefully arranged on a page. To assume the role of the enchanter and cast her clever spells. To dream with her eyes wide open.

Such was the situation Kyrielle found herself in that night in the frigid attic, as she sat with her journal on her lap, a blank page staring up at her in anticipation of the words yet to inscribe themselves in ebony ink. The story was there, flitting around in the folds of her subconscious. And the story inside her mind was beautiful, but she did not yet know how to make it so. It was as if she were witnessing a great dance in her imagination, a dance so intricate and complex that she could not find the proper moment to join it. It was an undeniably frustrating state to be in. To hold within one a story still in search of the perfect words, on the verge of blurring that fine line between fantasy and reality that Kyrielle knew all too well. She knew and she did not. She was and she was not. A particularly strong gust of wind suddenly blew through the attic, threatening to extinguish the candle flame dutifully lighting the room. The cold brushed Kyrielle’s face, as if it were a gentle caress urging her to simply pick up the pen and let some unknown force do the rest. And so Kyrielle dipped her pen in the pot of ink perched in anticipation on the small table that stood by that velvet armchair, and wrote what she knew best. Deep in the embrace of the ancient attic…

The Nassau Weekly must be accustomed to the fact that Sofiia Shapovalova will forever be judging.


August 5th, 2022

MANGO MINDBODY PROBLEM “Aam belongs in the homeland, the body says.” By MOLLIKA SINGH


he dried mango giving me a raging toothache at your house was the first sign. As I bit down on the pruned slice, there was a pain born in my upper right gum and a panic lit in my eyes. You offered me a floss-pick and water, both of which I took. Feeling nothing but my teeth with my tongue, I still jammed the floss-pick between molars, finding nothing again. Drinking helped with the pain. What eased the panic was you smirking and saying that this would be the perfect inspiration for some mango diaspora poetry, that sub-genre ridiculed for its reliance on the mango as a symbol of heritage, because I was already thinking the same thing. Ah, an American-Born Confused Desi, my mind must have conspired that morning. How to confuse her today? An aam-induced toothache, perfect. Turning it into heritage lit would be so easy, and you laughed, and I laughed. The narrative wrote itself. We came home from our PWIs, both newly singleish, ready to embrace that inherently radical female friendship I heard so much about—and insisted on reading queerly—in English class. Building back our friendship

hasn’t been rough but definitely painfully slow. Coming home to a brown bestie thinking all would be right, expecting to be so seen, just to be hit with the small body betrayal of a mango toothache was hilarious, a juicy irony. I wanted to believe the pain was a corporal protest of the draining and commodifying of our fruit by a private American corporation or some karmic response for accepting the dried mango, and in a desi household too. For the next few weeks, my offended teeth were sensitive to sweets. So, I thought, mystery solved: I really should just floss more. But, on the other hand, maybe this was my body continuing to rebel. Don’t forget your roots, it warns. Just because Trader Joe’s sources its dried mango from somewhere east of India doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Aam belongs in the homeland, the body says. I wasn’t severely dehydrated in late-June India because of the heat. The body needs water to release glucose, and if it can’t have water, it’ll demand sugar. The dehydration was meant to point me in a certain direction. I went about it all wrong. I looked for chocolate. When I came back from the hospital a few days later (food poisoning on top of the dehydration), the chusne-wala aam was perfect. My tongue laughed, like,

see, if you’d looked for aam instead of a Mars bar of all things, you would’ve been fine. Remember when I said you could just say Dadi instead of grandmother because we, like, get it? The first time you said Nana to my mom, I felt your hesitation. It was like using a new word in a language class instead of a name you’ve known your whole life. In elementary school I was best friends with the two other Indian girls in my grade—yeah, those ones—who couldn’t come up with a reason I, despite my Indianness, didn’t like mango. It was the texture. But I loved a good Frooti, eventually a good mango lassi. I acclimated myself to the fruit as I moved to a different middle school from my friends and started to disdain the attention being a mango-repulsed Indian got me. Trevor and Nicole’s fascination with my dispreference felt different from Arpita and Mahek’s. You told me that despite your stone fruit allergy and its correlating threat of anaphylaxis, your mother microdosed you on mangoes as a child—for the culture. Tell massi I respect that, and to save me a slice. Mollika Singh wanted to believe the pain was a corporal protest of the draining and commodifying of the Nassau Weekly by a private American corporation.




reach. In his college years and immediately after, the holiday acted as the only source of consistency in a life that grappled with seventy-hour work weeks and a higher salary than he knew he deserved. In recent years, though, after a series of promotions afforded a peaceful consistency of its own, Easter marked the only source of variety in his year–– a much-needed kink in a stream of client-reports and cocktail parties. This is why the journey to DC at this point of the year was always a necessary Odyssey. He could not miss the three-day weekend that fueled the rest of the work year. Without it, Solomon knew he would drown, and it pleased him that his driver recognized the holiday’s appeal. “Used to celebrate. Not any more though. Haven’t for a very long time. I’m telling you, I’m old,” the pilot said. The car floated past the sign that announced Terminal A. His driver knew the area, knew Fort Worth, and knew where Solomon needed to go without asking. “How come? What changed?” the passenger asked. “I adored the traditions, you know. Loved all the food and the people and the colored streamers that my auntie would spend hours setting up. Don’t get that wrong…” his driver said. The sunglasses had left his face, and the man’s dark eyes left the path

before him and focused on Solomon in the back seat. “It’s not what it used to be, that’s all. That’s really it. No one likes being reminded of how things get changed and lost, that’s all.” “How do you mean? You’re no longer religious?” the passenger asked again. “Oh no, boy, my faith is still strong. Stronger than ever, it’s got to be. All I’m here to say is the human in the holiday is gone. Its roots run deep, way back when, back to a beautiful little ceremony you wouldn’t even believe. I liked it better before, that’s all.” “I have no idea what came before Easter. Likely something pagan, right?” The driver tightened his lips. The entirety of his curly beard shifted in a way that betrayed the subtle grimace and magnified his disapproval. “Not that that’s bad, of course,” Solomon added, knowing the two of them had already diverged. It seemed their course had been set from the start, as if this was the point where his driver knew to drop him off though they had yet to

technically arrive. “I don’t even know if I believe in what’s celebrated,” Solomon said, his words falling flat against the seats of the drifting car. “I honestly just like the excuse to see my family.” “Who needs an excuse to see family” the driver said. He did not hesitate, stitching his response to the end of his passenger’s quivering comment as if they had rehearsed the conversations many times over. “But you chose the structure of your days, no? What deserves your time and what doesn’t?” “I do,” Solomon said, the corners of his mouth beginning to sag. “Could home be an excuse to get away from work?” Signs for Terminal B appeared up ahead. The driver whispered from his seat, barely audible in the seats that trailed behind him. “I want you to leave this car with a better sense of who you are, Solomon. It’s not too late I don’t think. Never do anything ever again without knowing why. It will serve you once

beyond.” Solomon sat silent far back in the vehicle, unsure whether he had heard his driver correctly and equally afraid whether the words he had heard might be true. Other cars stood halted one behind another, moving so little they appeared abandoned, and yet the driver ferried into an open spot with ease. Solomon bounced his briefcase on his knees and anxiously patted his slacks, checking for a wallet and phone he knew with certainty were there. He wrestled with his suit coat, preparing for the chill of the air outside that had minutes before boasted tee-shirt weather and a perfect sunset. His driver popped the trunk from a concealed button under his wheel but made no motion of leaving the car, perhaps only to conserve the mold of his impression against the seat that was won from guiding countless passengers across his city. Solomon exited the vehicle through the left door and straightened out the creases of his jacket. Removing

his luggage from the trunk, which only contained other creased suits hardly distinguishable from the one he wore now, the man felt the hot sweat form beneath the layers he had thought were necessary. He gently closed the trunk of the sedan to not disturb the peace of the driver whose car seemed nothing other than a natural extension of himself. Checking his app to verify his driver’s name and pay him a generous tip, Solomon returned to the open door and said with the attempt of a smile, “Thank you for the ride, Karon. Have a great rest of your night.” “Safe travels now, and don’t look back,” he replied and shifted his car out of park at the exact moment that the door clicked shut. He did not normally add such inklings when depositing his passengers to their gates, yet the driver could so easily tell that a transition like this would shake a man like Solomon to his core. He knew from a lifetime of rides that the stability of being so fundamental to such a man’s character was not so quickly uprooted. Karon prayed to his own gods that all would not be lost, that at the end of this road his once passenger might be salvaged. Solomon watched his driver rejoin the flow of other transitory vehicles with the same smoothness that he had displayed on the highway. Heading to pick up another unwitting traveler, or perhaps on his way home, his driver was now gone and suddenly Solomon felt unprepared,


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standing at the cusp of an airport he’d been through before but never remembered or even truly seen. The jaws of the automatic doors opened, then began to close and then opened again, accepting the stream of commuters who looked only at the tips of their

shoes as they entered the building. Tongues of heat from the grinding climate control units escaped the gateway and wrapped the newcomers whose coats and scarfs and supplementary sweaters would soon be ripped off to accommodate this rapid shift in

temperature. Solomon still stood at the Terminal B port focusing on the smudged tips of his own leather boots. Inside the airport awaited sweat and stale air and the hands of security workers who would brush his torso with alarming indifference. His gate

was placed at the outermost edges of the semi-circular buildings, the half-moons or frowns concentrically placed that together made up DFW––it had been posted for hours––and there, another gateway awaited to take him on another trip to somewhere else he thought

he knew well. Others would hover alongside him down the long connectors on moving tramways they’d been ordered to take, stopping at A06 or B24 or a food court or simply wandering, staring with hard eyes at shuffling screens to find some sense of direction. Those who’d been

there too long would begin showing signs, these poor souls so tired from delays and transferred flights that the light from overhanging bulbs seemed to pass straight through their sunken chests. And so Solomon still

stood at Terminal B, unable just yet to enter this strange building and encounter the distorted oddities that had once seemed so familiar. He spat at the ground to dispel a bitter taste that filled the bone-dry cavity of his mouth and he began

breathing fast through open lips as if to vent this smell of death. He knew not how to proceed, or where to go, or if he’d ever get back the world of peace he had just lost. A family, a holiday, and all that was called comfort of course still awaited

him somewhere, but that made no matter. He would wade through this new world knowing not why he had done all that he did and the weight of that stolen time would slow him. Yet still he would move forward, but only because that

was all that he has ever done. His driver was miles away and had left him to brave these elements alone. Tristan Szapary’s parents tapped into some sacred store of the energy specifically reserved for the Nassau Weekly.


August 5th, 2022


Nass Recommends:

Derek Thompson’s Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction.

A Nass writer dives into the stories and science behind pop culture icons. By LARA KATZ


cience requires data, and in Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction, Derek Thompson provides it. Social sciences are often perceived as less rigorous than other sciences, and Thompson strives to reverse this myth by providing the reader with data point after data point, each one its own “hit”—from the origins of

the song “Rock Around the Clock,” to names beginning with “La-” (Latonya, Latoya, Lakiesha, etc.), to the corporate structure of Bridgewater Associates—to understand the commonalities between them. (Apart from the fact that they’re all “hits,” a term which he never quite defines—“hits” are popular, but they’re also sometimes commercially successful without as much name recognition. Either way, they are a thing—movie, song, train design, etc.—which has stuck around and made some kind of societal or

historical impact.) He investigates these data points of “hits” all while harping upon the fact that on its own, each data point is meaningless, and often inexplicable—and in so doing delegitimizes his own broader arguments. This is a great book, but the title is a lie, or at least a contradiction. Over the course of the book, Thompson slowly pulls the rug out from under his own implicit thesis—that there even is a science of popularity. And if there isn’t, then what is the book about? For me, the book is about

Raymond Loewy. Even if you’ve never heard of Loewy, you’ve heard of Loewy. He was a French-American designer, and his designs include the Air Force One livery, Studebaker cars and Greyhound buses, the refrigerator that made Sears a household name, and the Coca-Cola logo. Loewy’s design success is credited to his “MAYA” framework: Most Acceptable Yet Advanced. MAYA is a kind of distillation of James Laver’s conception of the cycle of fashion, in which a single piece of clothing evolves from indecent, to

shameless, to daring, to smart, to dowdy, to hideous, to ridiculous, to amusing, to quaint, to charming, to romantic, to beautiful, simply due to the passage of time. In other words, everything has both “hit” and “dud” potential—it just needs the right time and right place. Or, as Watts would put it, the mathematical probabilities falling into place. In this way, Thompson reveals the inherent impossibility of pursuing the “Science of Popularity.” It’s like trying to unravel the algorithm behind winning Candyland. There is no algorithm. You


August 5th, 2022

just get lucky, or you don’t. If Seinfeld became popular because it was completely different from any show that preceded it, but the Swedish music industry produces the most global successes because of their attentiveness to musical formulas, then by this book’s logic, it seems anything could be retroactively considered a “hit.” Thompson knows this. He interviews Duncan Watts, author of (world-wide hit) Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age and Everything is Obvious *Once You Know the Answer: How Common Sense Fails Us. Watts introduces the reader to “Watts World,” in which every occurrence is nearly equivalently likely to occur, its occurrence contingent only on chance. In Watts World, Monet was just as likely to be an obscure artist as he was an enduring cultural phenomenon. Thompson brings Watts into the conversation because he evidently respects his hypothesis—and Watts’ hypothesis holds up in many of Thompson’s data points. Monet, for instance, almost certainly gained his popularity through the generosity of his friend Gustave Caillebotte. Monet’s work was considered by contemporary art critics to be utter trash. Caillebotte, a talented artist himself, was too wealthy and too good of a friend to let this insult of Monet continue. He bought up all of Monet’s least popular works—i.e.,

those which couldn’t sell— and through monetary persuasion, forced these works (and works of other artist friends of his) into the Louvre. Those previously unpopular works which made their way into the most popular museum in France at the time ended up being considered the greatest Impressionist works of all time. It’s not that Monet’s least popular paintings lacked any artistic merit, nor that any artwork that appears in the Louvre automatically becomes incredibly popular. But this particular data point in the history of popularity becomes a valuable lesson for the reader of this book, in that it clarifies the randomness and unpredictability of even the seemingly most non-controversial “hits.” Most of the time, it seems, humanity’s most beloved “hits” relied upon an individual’s whim or a chance circumstance to reach their beloved status. So why is Hit Makers so engaging to read? It’s not the thrill of getting to the bottom of the popularity mystery. It’s not really that surprising that so many “hits” only became “hits” because a particular celebrity promoted them on a particular day and other “hits” became “hits” because the creators worked hard and created a great product— even in a world where there are lots of “duds” promoted by celebrities every day and lots of creators in the world working hard and creating

great products that never reach an audience. What is much more interesting are the stories behind these “hits.” James Laver’s thesis about style helps explain why the 1980s setting of Stranger Things has entranced so many viewers, and Loewy’s MAYA principle is what allowed the iPhone to achieve its iconic style. Even a reader who’s never owned an iPhone or watched Stranger Things will likely be intrigued—because both of these “hits,” like most “hits,” have become parts of our contemporary society in upside-down, unanticipated ways. The data points in Hit Makers do not amount to a believable conclusion about popularity, or even any kind of discernible thesis with scientific basis. But they do amount to a story—a story of human innovation, success, and failure. Thompson’s narrative voice sounds nerdy, that of an overzealous friend sharing a fascinating myth from the history of culture. He writes that writing is a challenging form of broadcast, compared to, say, a comedian on a stage who receives in-the-moment laughter or heckling as a gauge of audience engagement. But reading is not a challenging form of receiving this specific kind of broadcast. In fact, it feels intimate and expansive. In the chapter entitled “Interlude: Le Panache,” Thompson explains that speakers “pause

for an average of two milliseconds before the ‘right’ to talk is passed between them… in Italian, Dutch, Danish, Japanese, Korean, Lao, Ākhoe Haillom (from Namibia), Yélî-Dnye (from Papua New Guinea), and Tzeltal (a Mayan language from Mexico).” Then, he explains how people use one third of personal conversations to talk about themselves compared to 90% of their social media posts, an idea which he expresses through a sword-fighting metaphor from the play Cyrano de Bergerac. Thompson is playing a delicate game—mingling the science of psycholinguistics with cultural analysis of technology with literary devices and literature itself. Although these disciplines are generally only considered and operated distinctly from each other, the reality is that they are inextricably related. Technology constitutes modern communication; modern communication turns into art. Although this book positions itself as being about “science” and “popularity” and the “age of distraction,” it’s really about the role of capital A Art in building explosively powerful human connections. This hugely important topic sheds light on other topics of political, cultural, and personal relevance—like how Facebook impacted the 2020 presidential election and how Disney has forever changed the relationship between the corporation

and the human. It’s also an inherently educational book, giving the reader the opportunity to learn about historical events not included in your standard history textbook. But it does the book—and the subject in general—a disservice to call itself a work of science. Scientists claim that almost nothing can be proven, only theorized to the point of societal acceptance as fact. Perhaps discussing the social sciences (which most people, to an extent, can intuitively understand) from this skeptical angle, Thompson reveals the importance of considering all scientific fact as questionable until theorized less questionable. Hit Makers is too questionable to call science. It’s a work of art, necessarily messy, complex, and inconclusive. It does not make for an air-tight argument. Thompson knows this— as a reader, one can sense that he worships on what he calls “the altar of art.” So why the obfuscation? Data is not a new, if remarkable rhetorical and literary device; there’s no need for a book to be devoid of research for it to market itself as art. But maybe that’s part of the point—culture itself, let alone the social discipline, is always a mix of science, distraction, art, and, of course, grasping at popularity. The data points in the Nassau Weekly do not amount to a believable conclusion about Lara Katz.



from a costco gas station in california By MIRABELLA SMITH

the birds of paradise are dead. a touch would send them crumbling to dust, leave powder on my fingers in my lungs, my ears, settle in deep beneath my skin to sit still and build up and grow thick as the palm trees stand tall, too tall, they can bend in the wind testament to their roots like the bridge over the 91 junction can flex-over-sideways to the whims of the san andreas, never crack, but is she tired? of waiting for a swiffer duster, the big one, 8.0 on the richter scale, to leave her curled up on the bathroom floor wondering if that little brown bottle would set her free or earn her another sneer, her skin and the peroxide too much– never quite enough (roots wrap ‘round her wrists, her throat, gouge where they plant down, inextricable, a seasonal malady like pollen sniffles or christmas) and nothing has changed, save the graying flowers and the clipped heads of palm– but roots are live wires, and you never saw that I’m more brick than concrete; this skin is a californian safety hazard and my mortar is flaking thin

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