Volume 55 - Issue 3

Page 1

STUDENTS SAY THE COST OF AN AMBULANCE IS PREVENTING THEM FROM SEEKING NECESSARY EMERGENCY CARE.

IS YALE PAYING ATTENTION?

Volume 55, Issue 3 January 2023 The Magazine About Yale and New Haven
THE COST TO RIDE BY JESSE GOODMAN

Dear readers,

We’d like to greet you with a goodbye. Specifically, take care. Take care is a promise willed to the departing. It means keep yourself safe and pay attention. Volume 55, Issue 3 of The New Journal follows people and communities who intimately understand what it means to fulfill this promise, and when a promise isn’t enough. Formal systems of support can fail to help individuals, so informal systems—from personal networks to strangers who want to help—step up to take care when those established channels fall short. In this issue, communities take the wheel, literally.

“Reintegration Roadblocks” follows an organization that supports people reintegrating post-incarceration to overcome the innumerable hurdles on the road to getting a driver’s license; while, in “Scrap Cycling,” a writer cycles after the man behind Peels on Wheels—a start-up filling in for New Haven’s landfill-dependency by collecting neighborhood food scraps on his bike. In our cover story, students make the game-time decision for their friends in alcohol-induced emergencies: either call 9-1-1—sinking their friends into the debt induced by an uninsured ambulance trip—or hang up to take care of the emergency themselves. “It’s not right,” Chief Perez says when our Executive Editor Jesse Goodman speaks to him. “We’re supposed to take care of each other.”

It doesn’t stop there. In one story, we see a woman spend decades fighting to build public memory of Lucretia, an enslaved woman who is believed to be the first Black resident of New Haven. In another, the crowds brought together by the Elm City Express come back to life, with wins shared both among the players and the city alike. In “This Tattoo Is Permanent,” clients’ queer identities and permanent ink collide as modes of rebellion, thanks to the work of a queer tattoo artist. And, in the endnote, a man tends to the pianos in the School of Music one string at a time, the quiet enabler of the thrum of the ivories at hundreds of concerts.

We’d like to thank the writers, editors, copy editors, designers, Photography Head Lukas Flippo, and Creative Director Kevin Chen for the tremendous amount of care they put into this issue. Our collective promise is this issue, which we now depart, and leave to you.

Take care,

Thank you to our donors.

Neela Banerjee*

Anson M. Beard

James Carney

Andrew Court

Romy Drucker

Jeffrey Foster

David Gerber

David Greenberg*

* Donated twice. Thank you!

Matthew Hamel

Makiko Harunari

James Lowe

Chaitanya Mehra

Ben Mueller

Sarah Nutman

Peter Phleger

Jeffrey Pollock

Adriane Quinlan

Elizabeth Sledge

Gabriel Snyder

Fred Strebeigh

Arya Sundaram

Stuart Weinzimer

Steven Weisman

Suzanne Wittebort

Editors-in-Chief Nicole Dirks

Dereen Shirnekhi

Executive Editor Jesse Goodman

Managing Editor J.D. Wright

Associate Editors

Amal Biskin Abbey Kim

Meg Buzbee Yosef Malka

Jabez Choi Cleo Maloney

Lazo Gitchos Paola Santos

Ella Goldblum Kylie Volavongsa

Yonatan Greenberg

Senior Editors

Beasie Goddu Madison Hahamy

Alexandra Galloway Zachary Groz

Copy Editors

Marie Bong Edie Lipsey

Adrian Elizalde Lukas Trelease

Rafaela Kottou Yingying Zhao

Creative Director Kevin Chen

Design Editors

Meg Buzbee Charlotte Rica

Camille Chang Karela Palazio

Etai Smotrich-Barr

Photography Lukas Flippo

Members & Directors: Emily Bazelon • Peter Cooper • Jonathan Dach • Kathrin Lassila • Elizabeth Sledge • Fred Strebeigh

Advisors: Neela Banerjee • Richard Bradley •

Susan Braudy • Lincoln Caplan • Jay Carney • Andy Court • Joshua Civin • Richard Conniff •

Ruth Conniff • Elisha Cooper • Susan Dominus

• David Greenberg • Daniel Kurtz-Phelan • Laura

Pappano • Jennifer Pitts • Julia Preston • Lauren

Rawbin • David Slifka • John Swansburg • Anya

Kamenetz • Steven Weisman • Daniel Yergin

Friends: Nicole Allan • Margaret Bauer • Mark

Badger and Laura Heymann • Anson M. Beard •

Susan Braudy • Julia Calagiovanni • Elisha Cooper

• Haley Cohen • Peter Cooper • Andy Court • The Elizabethan Club • Leslie Dach • David Freeman and Judith Gingold • Paul Haigney and Tracey

Roberts • Bob Lamm • James Liberman • Alka

Mansukhani • Benjamin Mueller • Sophia Nguyen

• Valerie Nierenberg • Morris Panner • Jennifer

Pitts • R. Anthony Reese • Eric Rutkow • Lainie

Rutkow • Laura Saavedra and David Buckley

• Anne-Marie Slaughter • Elizabeth Sledge •

Caroline Smith • Gabriel Snyder • Elizabeth Steig

• Aliyya Swaby • John Jeremiah Sullivan • Daphne and David Sydney • Kristian and Margarita

Whiteleather • Blake Townsend Wilson • Daniel

Yergin • William Yuen

2 TheNewJournal
thenewjournalatyale.com
Letter from the Editors

points of departure

snapshots

Coin-Gate: Who Stole Yale’s Doubloon?

Seventy years ago, five burglars stole nearly one million dollars worth of coins from the Yale Numismatics collection. We still don’t know who they were.

The Rise and Fall of the Elm City Express

For a glorious two years, New Haven had a soccer team.

critical angle

Lucretia’s Corner

Nearly four hundred years after the earliest known enslaved African was brought to New Haven, a local researcher has found a small way to remember her.

Students say the high cost of an ambulance is preventing them from seeking emergency care. Is Yale paying attention?

The Cost To Ride Reintegration Roadblocks

Previously incarcerated Connecticut residents face complicated barriers to receiving their licenses, making it difficult to get to work.

When Yale Harbored a Nazi, Part 2: The Open Secret

Years after one Nazi was exposed at Yale, another remained on the faculty of the Slavic Languages and Literatures department.

This Tattoo is Permanent

Art and queerness at the Broken Crystal Tattoo Studio in Milford, Connecticut.

endnote

Piano Man

In the School of Music, piano technician William Harold has been attending the 130 Steinways for the last twenty-five years.

poems

Theseus’ Ship

all else

Gilgamesh to Enkidu

On my good friend, Reese Jacobs, essay , by Lana Perice, page 43. Diamond Cave, photo essay , by Rachel Shin, page 50. Animal Crossing, crossword , by Jesse Goodman, page 55.

3 profile
January 2023 Contents 14 22 36 4 46 6 10 42 54 52 38
Sadie Bograd joins Domingo Medina as he picks up your leftovers on his bike.
image credits: lukas flippo; TSA.gov; igor petrov

Scrap Cycling

Domingo Medina, owner and founder of Peels & Wheels Composting, surveys the heap of food waste before him. Over a thousand pounds of rejected leftovers are spread in a neat rectangle at his feet, the sweet smell of decay punching through the winter chill. His son, Noah, shoos his dog away from a banana peel. One employee scours the pile for still-edible melons and potatoes to take home. Another wades into the garbage, picking out stray pieces of plastic and compost bin liners.

Medina grabs a shovel to start turning the pile as he tells me about his composting setup.

“It’s all human-scale,” he says. “It doesn’t require any machinery, just labor force.”

Medina is the brains and one-sixth of the brawn behind Peels & Wheels, New Haven’s bike-based composting service. For $7.50 per pickup, Medina and his five employees will collect your food scraps and pedal them to a small facility by the Mill River where orange rinds and eggshells slowly turn back into soil for local farms and gardens. Since its founding in 2014, Peels & Wheels has diverted over one hundred and ninety thousand pounds of food waste.

I joined Medina for his Monday pickup route on a blustery morning in December. It took a while for him to confirm our meeting point: “My references are trees, doors, corners, not numbers,” he told me.

His process, though, he knows by heart. He coasts into each customer’s driveway, eyes peeled for the little green bin left on the porch or by the dumpster. He weighs the bucket with a portable scale, spins the top off with a practiced ease, and heaves its contents into one of the large black bins on his trailer, smacking the base to dislodge tenacious scraps. And then he bikes away to his next destination, his trailer fourteen or so pounds heavier.

Medina rides a beast of a bicycle:

bright orange with an electric assist, a heavy gray trailer, and tires as thick as my forearm. My gray road bike looks puny by comparison. Although Medina was dragging three hundred pounds of garbage, I found myself racing to keep up as I followed him up Canner and down Orange, stopping at three consecutive houses on Whitney Avenue.

Our route reflected the business’s limited clientele. Peels & Wheels only accepts customers in East Rock, Prospect Hill, Wooster Square, Downtown New Haven, and Westville, plus Spring Glen and Whitneyville in Hamden—an eight mile radius covering some of the wealthiest parts of the region. The collection area doesn’t include the lower-income neighborhoods of Fair Haven, although that’s where the compost is processed, or Newhallville, even though it’s next to Prospect Hill.

not willing to get into boards, and meeting every month, and trying to convince people. My time of convincing is done. For me, it’s about doing.”

Employee Austin Larkin takes a similar perspective. I chat with him while we hack discarded vegetables into pieces, increasing their surface area so they decompose faster. Larkin describes himself as a former “guerrilla composter” who used to bury his food waste in backyards and parks before he discovered Peels & Wheels.

“It felt very logical and also radical,” Larkin says as he jabs a hoe into a particularly sturdy carrot. “Obviously it’s not enough, but it’s also better than nothing. It’s what’s possible right now. And it’s not about finding an ideal, it’s about progress.”

Progress, though, might be difficult without more institutional support. Two years ago, New Haven’s Food System Policy Division received a $90,000 USDA grant, which it used to improve community garden compost systems and start community composting working groups. But due to bureaucratic challenges, the Division failed to find city-owned land where they could start another food waste diversion site. Instead, they used the money to expand Common Ground High School’s compost facility (which Medina helped establish).

Medina says he worries about these inequalities, but sees them as the inherent limitations of running a business. It’s not that he doesn’t want to serve more neighborhoods, but that there aren’t enough people requesting his services. Weekly collection costs $30 a month (although about twenty off-campus Yale students get subsidized pickups through the Yale Student Environmental Coalition). Peels & Wheels is funded by its customers, so its customers are mostly people with funds to spare.

“I needed to do something that could pay for itself. I worked a long, long time for not-for-profits,” he told me. “It required me to write grants and to chase the money, and I got tired of it…I’m just

In general, local efforts at food waste management are “a little fragmented” and limited by budgetary constraints, according to Deborah Greig, Common Ground’s Farm Director. There are a handful of independent initiatives: in addition to Peels & Wheels, many restaurants contract with the Hartford-based scrap collector Blue Earth Compost, while Yale sends its dining hall discards to an anaerobic digestion facility in Southington. But there’s no citywide compost infrastructure, and no organizations devoted to helping interested residents develop composting skills.

“You need to have municipal-level compost. It almost doesn’t matter that there’s micro-haulers out there,” Greig said. “I think it’s impossible to create equity and access in education and composting itself until there’s also a larger effort [by] the city.”

Medina agrees: he notes that Peels & Wheels is New Haven’s main home compost hauler, yet it only serves about five hundred households out of more than fifty thousand in the city. But he

4 January 2023 TheNewJournal Points of Departure
illustrations by meg buzbee
The Peels & Wheels compost pile in the parking lot of Pheonix Press near the Mill River. Sadie Bograd / The New Journal

insists that a micro-scale approach can work on a municipal level. Most citywide compost systems, he says, rely on massive trucks and process food waste in a central hub. They treat food waste as a “nuisance” to whisk away rather than a valuable good to return to local residents. He would prefer a decentralized network of compost haulers and processors, with programs like Peels & Wheels closing the loop in every zip code.

“Everybody sees my business like something cute,” he said. “But it’s also a demonstration that things can be done differently.”

Although Medina swears his operation is scalable, he is struggling to make it last. Right now, Peels & Wheels operates rent-free from the parking lot of sustainable printing company Phoenix Press, sweeping stray bits of food from the asphalt at the end of each processing session. Local nonprofit New Haven Farms—which has since merged with the New Haven Land Trust to become Gather New Haven—grows crops in a small plot beneath the press’ wind turbines, and Medina founded Peels & Wheels so that they could have free compost processed on site. But Phoenix Press’ owners are selling, and Medina has yet to find a new location.

Medina is not a melancholy man— fist bumps are his preferred farewell gesture—but as he ponders this dilemma, he turns pensive. Expanding the city’s compost systems requires broader concern about food waste. But how do you get people to stop making their garbage someone else’s problem—to stop “pushing the wrinkle,” as Medina puts it?

He takes heart in the fact that he is providing a valuable service for his community. Peels & Wheels started, according to college freshman Noah, as “a notepad with five clients” and “a bunch of little containers all around the house.” Over the last nine years, his dad’s company has kept one hundred and ninety thousand pounds of food waste out of incinerators and created nearly sixteen thousand metric yards of soil-enriching compost.

And it doesn’t hurt that subscribers tend to be effusive in their gratitude.

“I tried [composting with] worms and unfortunately I filled my house with bugs and so Domingo’s service was a godsend when I learned about it,” Virginia Chapman, a Peels & Wheels customer and Director of Yale’s Office of Sustainability, said in an email. “I love the low carbon footprint (the wheels), the garden it was supporting,

and the compost I get back every year for my garden.”

Besides, the job stays interesting. Most of what ends up in the compost bins is fairly standard—chopped vegetables, stale bread, the accidental piece of silverware. But when I ask Medina about the strangest thing he’s seen in a compost bin, he has an answer prepared.

“I honestly thought there was a woman that was trying to compost her husband,” Medina said.

Strands of hair and fingernail clippings started showing up in her compost bin. Then shirts, then trousers.

Medina never saw any human limbs—and, as far as he knows, there were none to be disposed of. But if it weren’t aiding and abetting a murder, he says Peels & Wheels could have composted them.

“We’ll take anything that’s organic… animal or plant-based.” ∎

Points of Departure
Sadie Bograd is a sophomore in Davenport College.
285 Nicoll Street, New Haven CT 06511 203-936-9446 www.mactivity.com Fitness Center 5 TheNewJournal January 2023

Coin-Gate: Who Stole Yale’s Doubloon?

Seventy years ago, five burglars stole nearly one million dollars worth of coins from the Yale Numismatics collection. We still don’t know who they were.

on the night of May 29th, 1965, five masked men broke into Sterling Memorial Library. The thieves hid among the stacks of old books before overtaking the night guards and breaking into the basement vaults. That night, they would carry out four thousand looted coins, weighing about sixty pounds, from the Yale Numismatics collection—one of the most decorated and valuable coin collections in the world. Among their loot, they took Yale’s famed Brasher Doubloon, the first gold coin produced in the United States following independence. Altogether, the stolen artifacts totaled a value of almost one million dollars at the time—the largest robbery New Haven had ever seen. The case remains unsolved.

“The theft was carried out with expert selectivity,” explained James Tanis, the University Librarian at the time, in a June 7, 1965, Yale University News Bureau press release. “Only a limited number of the stolen coins are unique and readily identifiable . . . In some instances, the thieves selected from individual trays only those coins combining high value and potential for undetected sale.”

Only a discerning eye can identify details that make coins more valuable, like their metallic composition and historic origin—the thieves had that eye. The press release also noted that the heist relied upon the “deactivation of burglar alarms and knowledge of the details of the safe keeping of

the collection,” both well-kept secrets of the University Library. The thieves knew what they were looking for, and they knew how to get it.

Complete records of the coins in Yale’s numismatics collection were never made, largely because of the inconsistent means used to acquire them. Yale’s collection was obtained through various donations and gifts made by life-long collectors affiliated with the University, growing to more than one hundred thousand coins over two hundred years. By the time of the heist, only those who routinely handled the collection or assisted with its curation knew its specific contents. The collection’s long-time curator, Theodore V. Buttrey, was one of the only people with the memory and experience required to be able to recount the collection. Just before the heist, however, Buttrey left his curatorial position to become a professor of Greek and Latin at the University of Michigan.

Following the break-in, Sterling Library administrators called Buttrey back to New Haven to identify the missing coins and provide an estimate of their cumulative value. The previously mentioned University press release also outlined these missing objects; the first page, titled “pieces easily identifiable,” contained the descriptions of only seventeen coins. To the untrained eye, the rest of the list read as disorganized and incomprehensible. To numismatists, however, attuned to the differences in composition and origin of the stolen coins, patterns appeared immediately—almost all

of the collection’s American and English gold coins, for example, were stolen. The absence of one particular coin was conspicuous: Yale’s Brasher Doubloon. A 1981 New York Times article described Brasher Doubloons as “known among coin collectors as well as a Rembrandt among art lovers.” Ephraim Brasher, a New York goldsmith, forged only seven of these valuable gold coins in 1787. Brasher’s doubloons were made in the pre-federal period, before the establishment of the Philadelphia mint. Prior to the federal production of money, different types of metals were used to form the same coins, creating disparities in what should have been consistent values. Brasher would assay the coin’s actual value by measuring its weight in gold to ensure a standardized value. Upon completion, he would stamp the coins with his hallmark ‘EB.’ In addition to the

6 January 2023 TheNewJournal
Snapshot
layout design by kevin chen
Only a discerning eye can identify details that make coins more valuable, like their metallic composition and historic origin the thieves had that eye.

coins’ pure composition and EB impression, the elaborate and unique designs covering each doubloon added to their historical and monetary value. The coins circulated in New York following their production, and in 1944, New York’s Holy Trinity Church donated one of the seven coins to Yale’s growing numismatics collection.

Yale’s famous coin was not missing for long. Two years after the 1965 break-in, Richard F. Andrews, an insurance agent specializing in the discovery of lost valuables, recovered the doubloon in Miami. According to a 1982 New York Times article, Andrews was working a different case in Florida when he “came across a trail” that led him to the Doubloon. The same article noted that Andrews “traced [the coin] through underworld figures to a coin collector in Chicago” but maintained that the coin was found in Miami. Andrews refused to provide further information about the coin’s recovery to the Times, adding only that “no money exchanged hands” in return for the doubloon. He only explained that the “investigation of the missing coins is still active—if I reveal any details, it will make the job much more difficult.’”

needed the extra income to help fund the construction of the new Mudd library, leveraging the coin for a $650,000 payout. Following its sale, Yale added that concerns over the security of the Doubloon contributed to the decision

The five men made it out with over seven thousand coins, exceeding a modern value of ten million dollars. Among the loot was one of the other seven existing Brasher Doubloons.

Despite Andrews’ discretion, virtually no progress has been made on the case since 1967. Only one person has been convicted of a crime relating to the heist: John Reisen, an employee of the Chicago-based Columbia Stamp and Coin Company, was found storing sixty-nine of Yale’s missing coins in the company safe. The Yale Daily News reported on the event, emphasizing hope that Reisen’s arrest would lead to further discoveries relating to the heist. No further arrests have been made in the sixty-five years following.

Yale librarians and administration seem to want to leave this dramatic component of their numismatics career in the past. In 1981, Yale decided to sell their recovered Brasher Doubloon despite the energy and expenses invested in its recovery. The University reportedly

Yale’s numismatics collection has continued to grow in prestige and contents, despite its doubloon-less state. Perhaps the University’s eagerness to rid themselves of the Brasher Doubloon reflects their desire to move on from the embarrassment of the heist.

There is no shortage, however, of stories of other numismatic-related crimes. Contrary to the popular perception of coin-collecting as a hobby, drama is rampant in the numismatics community. Just two years after Yale’s break-in, millions of dollars’ worth of coins were stolen from the Miami mansion of Willis H. du Pont, the former Chief Executive Officer of General Motors and a famed numismatist. The mansion’s alarm system reportedly failed to turn on when five masked burglars entered in the night. Du Pont interpreted the thieves’ demand to give them “the money” too literally, and led them to his basement coin collection.

According to another article published by the Professional Coin Grading Service, one of the Miami thieves decided to keep a stolen coin for himself. He happened to select the Brasher Doubloon. For safekeeping, he taped it to his ankle. A few months later, he was admitted to the hospital following a severe beating by his mafioso father-in-law. The nurses attending to him found the doubloon still taped to his leg, recovering a coin worth nearly one million dollars.

Unlike the du Pont robbery, which is well-recorded and well known among coin collectors of varying degrees of seriousness, the infamous Yale Numismatics Collection heist is only infamous among those entrenched in mint madness—a small, but dedicated audience. This is despite the odd similarities in the cases. Even Yale’s undergraduate coin community was largely unaware of the dramatic

7 TheNewJournal January 2023
illustrations by Charlotte Rica From funtopics.com
From The New York Times
An aerial view of the Florida United Numismatics convention floor.

Yale heist, until after the inaugural meeting of the Yale Numismatics Club, formed in 2021 by undergraduate numismatists eager to work more closely with the famed collection.

“A lot of people imagine coin collectors as nerdy kids or really old men,” said Noah Savolainen ’25, a sophomore in Grace Hopper College and co-founder of the Numismatics Club. “And there are a lot of those. But many coin dealers are just successful finance guys or suave high school dealers who sell coins instead of drugs.” Like the Yale heist revealed, the coin world can be equally lucrative and deceptive—traders need insider knowledge and a reputation of integrity within the community.

“I’ve been involved with coin collecting for a very long time, and it’s become a social and professional element of my life, on top of it being a hobby,” said Savolainen. He’s not alone. A few days before Savolainen spoke with me, he had been in Florida at the Florida United Numismatists (FUN) show, which attracts hundreds of dealers and thousands of attendees.

“Coin collecting is a hobby for almost everybody who’s involved with it, and a business for the others,” Savolainen explained. At FUN, Savolainen attended an auction offering coins from the collection of Harry Bass—a millionaire financier and avid numismatist—with sales that totalled $24 million.

know it. Noah said, “The President of [Heritage Auctions] was on the phone speaking with anonymous buyers bidding through the phone. There is a lot of anonymity within the coin world.” He explained that security is a large issue that most collectors, buyers, and sellers often worry about.

the black market or liquified for its component assets, are often the subject of large robberies. What makes this heist so peculiar is its lack of closure.

The auction is a high-energy scene. Objects smaller than an iPhone can pack a room with people willing to spend millions on a single coin. Someone attending their first auction, or perhaps even their first coin show, could be seated next to someone with a world-renowned collection and never

Christian Hartch, a junior at Princeton University and fellow numismatist, reinforced this concern. He and Noah recently visited the New York International Numismatics Conference, where World Numismatics—a collection showing at the event—claimed to have around six figures worth of coins stolen from the show. Hartch said, “There’s always stuff going around, getting stolen.”

But despite this rather dramatic element of the coin world, it is not often talked about or highlighted as a large component of the community culture. In fact, Hartch, who created and runs one of the largest coin-oriented YouTube channels—Treasure Town Coins, with over one hundred thousand subscribers—had not even heard of the Yale heist until he learned of this article.

The heist that occurred at Yale seventy years ago was not rare in that valuable objects, easily used as collateral on

Today, Yale’s numismatics collection is alive and well. In 2001, the continuously growing collection boasting three hundred thousand coins moved into the bright, beautiful Bela Lyon Pratt Gallery of Numismatics in the Yale University Art Gallery. The gallery is composed of two adjacent wood-paneled rooms. The room on the right takes up the valuable real estate of a museum corner room with large, undisrupted windows looking down on Chapel Street. It houses just one large table that sits surrounded by a small library of worn books. The adjacent room of the gallery more resembles a maze of history, housing multiple floor-to-ceiling shelving units tightly packed with foam and leather padding. Despite the romantic and grand atmosphere of the gallery, unlike the glamorous drama of the fine arts community and their million-dollar mysteries, no one wants to talk about the successful collection’s mysterious past. Even the current curators of Yale’s collection—who hold the responsibility of elevating the collection’s profile—declined to comment on the crime. For now, things remain quiet and unsolved in the mystery of the missing coins. No one seems to want to dwell on it. Few even know about it. ∎

8 January 2023 TheNewJournal
Coin-gate: Who stole Yale’s doubloon?
Lara Yellin is a sophomore in Berkeley College.
From news.yale.edu
Like the Yale heist revealed, the coin world can be equally lucrative and deceptive— traders need insider knowledge and a reputation of integrity within the community.
Inside the new Bela Lyon Pratt Gallery of Numismatics. Brasher doubloon photos courtesy of 2-clicks-coins.com.

“Forgotten Watershed: Writing Russia’s Great War into Modern Jewish Historiography”

Polly Zavadivker is Assistant Professor of History and director of the Program in Jewish Studies at the University of Delaware. She is completing a book project entitled “A Nation of Refugees: World War I and Russia’s Jews” (under contract with Oxford University Press). She is the editor and translator from Russian of The 1915 Diary of S. An-sky: A Russian Jewish Writer at the Eastern Front (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2016). Her articles and essays have appeared in Jewish Social Studies, Simon Dubnow Institute Yearbook, and the multi-volume series Russia’s Great War and Revolution. Her next project will be an attempt to place Soviet Jewish writer Vasily Grossman in the canon of European Holocaust writers.

She is completing a book project entitled “A Nation of Refugees: World War I and Russia’s Jews” (under contract with Oxford University Press). She is the editor and translator from Russian of The 1915 Diary of S. An -sky: A Russian Jewish Writer at the Eastern Front (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2016). Her articles and essays have appeared in Jewish Social Studies, Simon Dubnow Institute Yearbook, and the multi-volume series Russia ’s Great War and Revolution. Her next project will be an attempt to place Soviet Jewish writer Vasily Grossman in the canon of European Holocaust writers .

Judaic Studies Program Jewish History Colloquium presents Dr. Polly Zavadivker
Thursday, March 2, 2023 @ 12:00PM STERLING MEMORIAL LIBRAY JUDAICA COLLECTION READING ROOM (120 High Street, 3rd Floor, Room 335B) For additional information contact Renee Reed at renee.reed@yale.edu
Assistant Professor of History, University of Delaware

The Rise and Fall of the Elm City Express

For a glorious two years, New Haven had a soccer team.

10 Snapshot
TheNewJournal

In the stands of Yale’s Reese Stadium, four drummers pounded out a roiling beat. Their heads bobbed in telepathic communion as the rhythm rolled through a crowd of over three thousand people.

It was August of 2017, and fans had gathered for the championship game of the semi-pro National Premier Soccer League, or NPSL. The final was a showdown between Texas’s Midland Odessa F.C. and the Elm City Express—New Haven’s fledgling team, which had remarkably risen to the league championship in its inaugural year.

The game’s first goal came when Tavoy “Bull” Morgan, Elm City’s fleetfooted top scorer, twisted past three defenders to slot the ball into the corner of the net. Minutes later, Morgan scored again: a mid-air volley with his right foot, which blasted the ball to an impossible space just between the crossbar and the keeper’s outstretched fingers. In celebration, the Bull rammed a defender to the ground and sprinted to the stands with his hands cupped behind his ears to hear the fan commotion. More goals followed—the final score: 5–0, Elm City Express.

The 2017 NPSL championship marked a high in New Haven sports. Over the past century, the city has seen a hockey team, a baseball team, and another soccer team come and go. And by 2019, Elm City had disbanded too, leaving New Haven, once again, without a professional sports team.

But during that 2017 season, a new team and an eager fan base briefly alchemized into something unstoppable. “We started in the cold of February, and we ended up winning it by August,” remembers former right winger Shaquille Saunchez over a phone call last December. “It’s a journey that probably we will never forget.”

An online search for Elm City Express leads you five thousand miles south to the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina. The team was owned by the company K2 Soccer North America and its affiliate K2 Soccer South America, which also oversees a Brazilian soccer club. Both companies operate under the Brazilian-based investment outfit Baltoro Group. The reason why K2 Soccer landed in New Haven remains somewhat unknown—but when the company arrived, they found a rich history of soccer in the city.

Josh Nelkin was an Elm City fan and is a former player for the New York

Matches drew in die-hard soccer heads and people new to the game, young kids who dreamed of one day playing under an Elm City jersey and older fans Nelkin recognized from his pickup days, fans from a variety of cultural backgrounds. Even local Arsenal and Liverpool supporters quelled their rivalry to unite behind Elm City.

Ukrainians, an amateur soccer club. He remembers growing up in New Haven in the eighties and nineties among a vibrant and welcoming pickup soccer scene, rooted in the city’s European, Latin American, and African immigrant communities. Nelkin had always wished for a Connecticut soccer team. “A New Haven-based team seemed like a far, far, dream,” he tells me over the phone.

Nelkin’s dream became reality when Elm City arrived in 2017. The team built a roster based on local talent: in addition to a few loan players from K2 Soccer’s Brazilian club, management recruited heavily among soccer alumni from Post University, University of Connecticut, Quinnipiac University, Sacred Heart University, and other Connecticut schools.

“[Elm City] were the unifiers, all

barriers were broken,” Nelkin remembers. Matches drew in die-hard soccer heads and people new to the game, young kids who dreamed of one day playing under an Elm City jersey and older fans Nelkin recognized from his pickup days, fans from a variety of cultural backgrounds. Even local Arsenal and Liverpool supporters quelled their rivalry to unite behind Elm City.

Some of the team’s most loyal fans included participants of Elm City Internationals, a New Haven organization that offers academic and soccer programming to low-income youth, especially immigrants and refugees. Lauren Mednick, the organization’s founder, remembers her students collecting autographs and kicking the ball around with players after matches. Outside of games, a few Elm City players tutored and coached students during their summer academy. Mednick would take students to practically every match, even traveling out of state so kids wouldn’t miss a chance to see their favorite players. “It was really something that they looked forward to, especially our youngest kids at the time. They really idolized the players and got to know the players,” Mednick says, and even over our crackly phone call, I can hear the smile in her voice.

Head coach Ted Haley remembers that the number of fans grew steadily with each game. “It was kind of like the new restaurant that people start to rave about,” Haley says. “We were lucky enough to catch fire.”

According to Haley, the team also had supporters’ groups, or fan clubs, including a group with a New Haven pizza theme. “My kids still sing the songs that they were singing,” he adds.

The pizza song, I discovered, was to the tune of “Seven Nation Army.” Its composers were members of an Elm City supporters’ group known as the Brick Oven Brigade.

I meet Ed Foley, one of the Brigade’s founding members, at The Cannon, a soccer bar on Dwight Street. The Cannon is styled like an English pub and home to the New Haven Gooners, a local fan base of the English Premier League team Arsenal F.C. Behind the bar, amidst a red collage of Arsenal memorabilia, hangs a blue Elm City scarf.

Foley, who is trim with a well-kept goatee, is a regular at The Cannon and a long-time member of the Gooners.

11 TheNewJournal January 2023
Layout design by Kevin Chen & camille chang
Left page, clockwise from top left: Youtube recap of the 2017 NPSL National Championship final match in Jess Dow Field; photo gallery of the match; Elm City Express scarf; once active Facebook supporter’s group, “The Yard Dogs”. Left page: YouTube; National Premier Soccer League; Camille Chang; Facebook

He spins stories expertly, never pausing or backtracking, and his speech is peppered with references to mythology and ancient history I have to look up after we talk. There’s a palpable excitement in his voice as he recalls stories about Elm City.

with the Brazilian management and a lack of enough funding to carry on past the 2018 season.

With fans dispersed among Jess Dow’s bleachers, the games lost their original intimacy.

Foley describes Elm City’s 2017 season as “the halcyon days,” and the games as the “the greatest open mic night in all of New Haven.” He and his friends would sit behind the goal and poke fun at the opposition’s keeper—giving them nicknames or calling them by celebrity look-alikes. He remembers once yelling at the opposing team as they lined up for a defensive corner kick until a defender stopped, turned around, and started laughing. “It was—how would I put it . . . not a hostile atmosphere, but an imposing atmosphere of just we’re gonna laugh at you for like ninety minutes and offer you a beer afterwards,” Foley says.

In the YouTube recap of the finals, after Elm City wins, players and fans melt onto the field in a screaming, jumping mass. Fans shake blue and white scarves while the silver cup gleams overhead.

The Brigade was born when Foley bought a $3.50 Italian flag emblazoned with the word “ PIZZA” off of Amazon. But he objects when I refer to him as a founder of Brick Oven Brigade. “It really wasn’t anything that formal,” he says, “we were just local dummies.”

While Foley has scrubbed Brick Oven Brigade socials off the internet, the now-inactive Facebook of a different supporters’ group lingers as a snapshot of that exciting time in Elm City Express history: The Yard Dogs, named after guard dogs that roam rail yards to protect trains. Their posts are just as aggressive as the group’s name suggests, tearing into their Connecticut rivals, especially Hartford F.C. , and reveling in Elm City’s dizzying rise.

For that 2017 season, Elm City Express had no brakes. They rolled through the regular season with a 9–2–1 record. In the postseason, they glided past their first four opponents, scoring eleven total goals and conceding only one. Suddenly, the team had reached the league championship.

In the YouTube recap of the finals, after Elm City wins, players and fans melt onto the field in a screaming, jumping mass. Fans shake blue and white scarves while the silver cup gleams overhead. Mednick remembers players hoisting one of her students up on their shoulders in the middle of the field. In the back, you can see Foley waving the PIZZA flag.

“It was like the epitome of local team wins,” says Foley. He went to Christy’s, a soccer pub at the time, and partied with players after the game. “It was just a real good night. One of those feelings that you only really get with a semi-professional team.”

Loose summer nights stiffened into a Northeastern autumn, and Elm City entered the off-season. When the team returned in 2018, Nelkin, Haley, Foley, and the players I talked to said the urgency and energy of the first season had dissipated.

First, Elm City lost their home turf. When Reese Stadium underwent renovations in 2018, the team moved to Jess Dow Field at Southern Connecticut State University. Dow Field was twice as large as Reese and less centrally located.

The roster changed, too. According to goalkeeper Matt Jones, nearly all players worked separate jobs to supplement their income, making it difficult to keep players longterm. In the background, rumors floated about conflict

The official announcement that Elm City would not participate in the 2019 season appeared on the team’s Instagram in January. It remains the last post on the account.

There’s no epic trainwreck to mark the end of Elm City Express: just a scattering of gently rusted remains. As I collected bits of the team’s story, I wandered through abandoned social media accounts, old YouTube clips, and corporate websites translated from Portuguese; I learned about the pickup soccer games that used to rule Yale fields and heard strange stories of hundreds of Elm City scarves spontaneously appearing at the local Savers. Slowly, an image began to emerge—one of a team so intimate, so tangible for fans that, for one summer, it became transcendent.

In one telling, the story of Elm City Express ends in a surprising tragedy: a source of joy for New Haveners vanishing with no satisfying explanation. In a different version, Elm City’s demise was inevitable. The very things that made the team special—its smallness, localness, its concentrated fanbase—made it difficult to pull in a wide group of casual viewers, creating a model too insular to survive long-term.

What I can say for sure, is that New Haven had a soccer team. A good one, too. They created something special at Reese stadium. But they’re not here anymore, and the craving for the energy, connection, and purpose Elm City generated for its fans remains. Nearly every fan I talked to expressed a hope that someday Elm City, or a local team like it, could return to the city.

12 January 2023 TheNewJournal
The Rise and Fall of the Elm City Express
From amazon.com

Since the disbandment, some players joined other teams or started coaching, while others moved on to different professions. The players most involved with Elm City Internationals are still in contact with the kids they mentored, usually through FaceTime. Ted Haley remains at Post University. Foley has directed much of his energy back to the New Haven Gooners. He still has the PIZZA flag, however, packed away at his parents’ house.

Foley remembers his time with Elm City as a “weird little bright spot” in his life while he worked a job he didn’t like. For one excellent summer, he slipped into a routine: meeting friends for drinks, going to the game, winning, and then bringing everyone back to the bar to celebrate.

“Knowing the way it ended and how disappointing it would be, I’d still take it,”

he says. “I wouldn’t even say bittersweet, just sweet memories.”

Nelkin hasn’t given up on his dream of a New Haven soccer team. He thinks the Elm City fan base lies dormant, ready to be resurrected at any moment. Yale’s renovated soccer field, set in front of the brick backdrop of Coxe Cage field house, reminds Nelkin of a small English stadium, and he believes that, if Elm City Express came back, they could consistently sell it out. Every time he passes the stadium, he peeks inside and imagines: the stands brimming with New Haven soccer heads, the pitch studded with players in navy shirts, the air filled with chanting, a shrill whistle, and the echo of drums. ∎

13 TheNewJournal January 2023
The Rise and Fall of the Elm City Express
Maggie Grether is a first-year in Ezra Stiles College.
Slowly, an image began to emerge one of a team so intimate, so tangible for fans that, for one summer, it became transcendent.
Top: The last post on the Elm City Express’s Instagram page announced that they would not be competing in the 2019 season of the NPSL. Facebook post and Facebook comment texts were taken from “The Yard Dogs” Facebook group. Screenshot courtesy of @elmcityexpress on Instagram.

Previously incarcerated Connecticut residents face complicated barriers to receiving their licenses, making it difficult to get to work.

REINTEGRATION ROADBLOCKS

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TheNewJournal

immy Robinson is learning how to use the Uber app in Claire’s Corner Copia. Dressed in a newsboy cap, a pink jacket, and a plaid button-down, he looks at his phone skeptically. His friend Annie Nisenson managed to secure him a $100 voucher for the app, and she leans over his shoulder to show him how to navigate it. Apps like Uber are new to Robinson; in fact, most are new to him. Robinson was serving life without parole before an unexpected pardon culminated with his release in 2021. He recalls the length of his incarceration exactly: forty years, seven months and two hours.

Robinson is used to taking the bus to work each morning. His bus is supposed to come at ten minutes to six. Sometimes the bus comes early, sometimes late, Robinson says. But he tries to make it to the bus stop at a good time for him to arrive at work on time no matter what—he works at EMERGE, an organization that supports clients through a variety of reintegration programs post-incarceration, as a shop manager.

Instead of using tools like the CT Transit app to support him in navigating the bus system, he has learned by memorization and trial-and-error. He knows the phone number to call about bus status, and does so when necessary.

Robinson, however, will soon have no need for the Uber or CT Transit app. In October 2022, he was able to secure his learner’s permit. He’s preparing for his road test so he can finally receive his license.

His license will be a badge of honor, an accomplishment that many people in the process of reintegration struggle to acquire. Connecticut’s most recently available data from the National Institute of Corrections suggests that as of December 31, 2019, 36,475 residents are on probation and 3,651 are under parole. For most of these residents, transportation everything from navigating public transport to securing a license is a major barrier to reintegration.

When Andrew Ramsay began his sentence, it was 1991. When he came back home, it was 2021. Since returning, Ramsay has had to learn how to navigate public transportation in New Haven. Ramsay noted that his family has helped him, but that he initially depended on Uber so as not to “disrupt” their lives. He stopped using Uber because the app’s surge pricing left a dent in his paychecks. Currently, he switches between public transportation and having a friend drive him.

“Everything is all brand new, so it’s like I’m a baby. I’m starting all over again,” Ramsay says. He speaks eloquently about the difficult process of securing the required documents to acquire a license, emphasizing that he keeps faith and patience.

Like Robinson, he is employed at EMERGE, a self-described “self-sufficient social enterprise committed to assisting formerly incarcerated people successfully integrate back into their families and communities.” They have a variety of programs for formerly incarcerated people to get started, including a Transitional Employment Program, peerto-peer group meetings called Real Talk, and a Trauma Informed Men’s Group. In their Transitional Employment Program, participants earn at least $15 an hour, while working up to twenty-four hours a week in construction, landscaping, and property management. The other sixteen hours of the work week are reserved for support programs.

There are six supervisors at EMERGE, all of whom have been through EMERGE’s programs and have experience being formerly incarcerated. EMERGE Executive Director Alden Woodcock calls them “the heart and soul of the organization,” noting their roles teaching crewmembers, communicating with staff, operating equipment, and caring for the organization’s tools, vehicles, and equipment.

On top of the burden of finding a job is finding one accessible through public transportation. With no car and no flexible income to afford ride-share apps or taxis, formerly incarcerated people depend on buses, trains, bicycles, or walking to get to and from work.

In the mornings, participants arrive at EMERGE’s headquarters at 830 Grand Avenue—on a bus line—and from there they split up and drive to different worksites or work from the headquarters. EMERGE supports their participants throughout the process of securing documents, bus passes, and licenses. They helped Ramsay get a bus pass and Robinson secure his permit.

Ramsay found out about EMERGE at a job fair. There were construction hats lined up on a table and some people in discussion around it. He walked over and started up a conversation. “They heard my story and wanted to see better for me and I’ve been there ever since,” Ramsays says. “Everything that I need to really navigate in society EMERGE has helped me to get.”

Ramsay is now one of the supervisors at EMERGE , many of whom drive newer employees to their job assignments. Supervisors that cannot drive stay at the EMERGE building or support in other ways instead. Ramsay sometimes feels “discouraged” because he cannot help the team by driving.

Currently, Ramsay is working on securing his Social Security card in order to apply for a state identification card, and eventually a driver’s license.

Ramsay wakes up around 4 a.m. and starts his day with a prayer before getting ready for it. By 6 a.m., he’s off on the ten-minute walk from his West Haven home to the bus stop. He leaves the house early to give himself time in case the bus is early. Ramsay takes the 265 to the New Haven Green, a ten to fifteen minute ride, and then walks another thirteen minutes to EMERGE’s headquarters. He is a supervisor now, and makes sure to be there before 7 a.m. The total commute takes about forty-five minutes.

If Ramsay had a car, the commute would be about fifteen minutes. But in the year since he was

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Reintegration Roadblocks

released from incarceration, he has been unable to secure a state identification, or a driver’s license.

It can be incredibly difficult to get a job post-incarceration, especially with the increase in national unemployment since the start of the COVID19 pandemic, not to mention the usual obstacles for formerly-incarcerated people—employer prejudice, lack of educational degrees, and a lack of the documentation necessary to be added to someone’s payroll, for example.

The court’s expectation for formerly incarcerated people is to integrate immediately, requiring weekly proof of job searches to be sent to their probation officers, noted Hannah Duncan, the Curtis-Liman fellow at Yale Law School’s Arthur Liman Center for Public Interest Law. This creates pressure to accept any offer at all—even if the job is far away or has odd hours. Duncan herself has managed clients who commute for hours to get to and from their job.

In the federal system, supervised release or probation can be part of a sentence, and those under these must still report to a probation officer. Violating conditions of their release from custody as part of their probation or supervised release can mean you get sent back to jail full-time employment is often a condition of release from custody, Duncan says. Full-time employment being a condition often leads to accepting the first job offer you get. On top of this, it is immensely frowned upon to reject offers in the face of so many job application rejections.

On top of the burden of finding a job is finding one accessible through public transportation. With no car and no flexible income to afford ride-share apps or taxis, formerly incarcerated people depend on buses, trains, bicycles, or walking to get to and from work.

The New Haven bus system is run by the Connecticut Department of Transportation, and is free to ride for now, as the state legislature recently extended a free bus policy until April. Ramsay describes the bus system as “O.K.” The buses can be inconsistent, so he opts for the walk from the New Haven Green to EMERGE.

Unless people get jobs on a bus line, they need a car. But, for the formerly incarcerated, getting a car is painfully difficult.

The majority of Connecticut residents— more than three fourths drive alone to work, but formerly incarcerated people struggle not only to secure a car, but also a permit, license, and registration.

Much of this struggle boils down to the same thing: applicants need documents that people who

have not been away from home for prolonged periods of time tend not to have. And they cost money to get.

In order to secure an identification from the state of Connecticut, applicants must show three categories of documents: proof of identity, proof of a Social Security number, and proof of Connecticut residency.

Proof of identity should include at least one “primary document.” For U.S.-born citizens, “primary documents” must be a birth certificate or a passport.

Alden Woodcock, EMERGE’s Executive Director, notes that unless a family member saves your Social Security card and birth certificate for you while incarcerated, it is incredibly difficult to secure a state-issued identification card. According to Connecticut 211, a human and social services resource, personal documents obtained during intake or incarceration are stored in “a secure location” at each correctional facility.

Nonetheless, Robinson notes that there is a lot of “poor management” and that his Social Security card was lost during his incarceration.

pay my taxes. I’m working. I’m doing all these things. And to this day, I’m still struggling right now to get my documentation,” Ramsay says. This documentation is not just essential for transportation— identification is often required to apply for housing, banking, and healthcare.

Even if a family member is able to hold onto your documents, this might not be enough, depending on the length of the sentence. Illness, death, and other unprecedented factors can affect whether family or friends have been able to hold onto them the longer the sentence, the older parents and family members get and the more likely illness or death has affected them.

For Ramsay, who is a U.S. citizen but was born in Jamaica, the process of securing a birth certificate was even harder. His mother formerly had his documentation, but she passed away during his sentence and his documents were lost. Ramsay has been making lots of phone calls and sending lots of emails to gather the documents he needs to prove that he is a U.S. citizen.

“I pay my taxes. I’m working. I’m doing all these things. And to this day, I’m still struggling right now to get my documentation,” Ramsay says. This documentation is not just essential for transportation identification is often required to apply for housing, banking, and healthcare.

To request a birth certificate, applicants must go to the town vital records where they were born, the town of their mother’s residence at the time of birth, or the State Vital Records Office. In order to request it, they must fill out an application and mail it, along with a government-issued photo identification, and a payment of $30 per copy.

In Ramsay’s case, he had to contact the Jamaican government and pay for his birth certificate to be sent to Connecticut. So far, this is all he has been able to secure in order to demonstrate proof of identity and citizenship, but is still in need of his Social Security Card.

Alongside a birth certificate as primary documentation, you can show a passport at the DMV

17 January 2023
“I
Reintegration Roadblocks
18

Similar problems occur with this option passports, which expire ten years after being issued, are no longer valid for many leaving incarceration. And to apply for one, applicants must show a birth certificate, proof of identity, and pay the required fees (which consist of a $130 application fee and a $35 “execution fee”).

To get both these pieces of identification, you run into circularities and dead ends. If applicants want to recall a birth certificate, they need an identification. If they want an identification card, they need a birth certificate. But what are applicants meant to do when they are starting over?

The second category of documentation that applicants are required to show at the DMV is proof of Social Security. This can be in the form of a Social Security card, or specific tax forms. Tax forms, however, require consistent employment that not all formerly incarcerated people have. They are also usually given to employees in January to denote the payments of the year before; depending on when they begin work, this could leave applicants up to a year with no identification.

Ramsay still has his Social Security number, but this is not enough for the DMV—they want the physical card. This can be another dead end: in order to request a Social Security card replacement from the Social Security Administration, applicants are asked to show a driver’s license. It’s circular.

Ramsay has been unable to acquire his Social Security card so far. Robinson notes that the pandemic made it more difficult to secure his own card, as he had to make routine calls to explain his situation instead of going to the offices directly and receiving guidance.

For proof of residency, there must be two pieces of mail from two separate senders. This means that people experiencing housing insecurity face additional barriers.

Ramsay is still fighting to get his identification and Social Security card; he has depended on EMERGE’s assistance throughout the process. He gets little help from his probation officer. The State of Connecticut’s Judicial Branch defines the role of probation officers as responsible for providing “intake, assessment, referral, and supervision services to [the] sentenced individual.” This notably includes check-ins to ensure that probationers are making progress in their re-integration. Despite this, Ramsay’s probation officer has told Ramsay that securing his documentation is not within the scope of their work, emphasizing to Ramsay that the officer’s role is to come to Ramsay’s house or office, take

urinalyses, and make sure he has a job.

“It’s easy to say ‘You know what? Eff this.’ and go back to what we know,” Ramsay says. “And that’s where the problem comes in . . . You go through a lot of hurdles, but I just try to stay faithful.”

To secure a license, they have to navigate the plethora of documents and applications to secure their documentation, pay all the required costs, acclimate to life post-incarceration, abide by their probation officer’s requirements, and work towards financial stability in the process. If all of this sounds confusing, that’s because it is.

There are barriers for people post-incarceration who’ve held driver’s licenses in the past, too: incarceration usually implies driver’s license suspension. In order to retain the license, there is a required restoration fee of $175. If there are taxes owed on a vehicle under the applicant’s name, then the taxes or tickets must be paid off, too, before the driver’s license can be restored.

Once those are all paid, driving privileges are restored, meaning it becomes possible to apply for a learner’s permit. Even if someone has formerly held a license, they are required to re-acquire a permit, with the restriction that the holder can only drive when accompanied by someone twenty years or older who has held a license without suspension for more than four consecutive years. After ninety days with a permit, applications must pass a vision test and a twenty-fivequestion knowledge test, and take an eight-hour Safe Driving Practices Course. Failure of the vision or knowledge tests require applicants to reschedule the tests online and pay the fees once again. These include a $40 testing fee (that includes all the tests) and a $19 fee for the learner’s permit itself. The fee for a non-driver state identification is $28. This process can be long and expensive.

Not only are the abundance of fees a barrier to many, testees need to provide their own vehicle for the driver’s exam and potentially miss work for the permit test, Safe Driving Practices Course, and driver’s test. Availability for appointments range from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, with some available slots on Saturdays.

Robinson had to wait almost a year to get his Social Security card. His documentation was lost during his sentence, although he is not sure why. Through work with the Parole Project in Louisiana, where he was incarcerated, and EMERGE in New Haven, he has managed to secure his Social Security card, birth certificate, and, as of October, his learner’s permit. Following his release, Robinson moved to New Haven to support his mother, with whom he currently lives. He notes that securing a Social Security card was particularly difficult as a result of the pandemic, since he could not go to the offices

19 January 2023
To get both these pieces of identification, you run into circularities and dead ends. If applicants want to recall a birth certificate, they need an identification. If they want an identification card, they need a birth certificate. But what are applicants meant to do when they are starting over?
Reintegration Roadblocks
Cover: Connecticut ID application form B-230, courtesy of the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles. Left, top: Social Security card, courtesy of Illinois Wesleyan University; bottom: Connecticut driver’s license, courtesy of the Transportation Security Administration.

and work out what was necessary. Instead, he fielded calls and emails until he was able to secure it.

Robinson had to return on three separate occasions to the DMV before they granted him a learner’s permit. Once, they refused him because the letter he showed did not have a date on it.

“You see so many people,” Robinson says. “They become heartbroken because they go to get their license and many fail time and time again. And it’s like it’s very next door to being impossible.”

In total, fees can amount to about $348, including testing, document copies, restoration fees, and the combined cost of securing both a permit and license. Applicants also have to pay the fees for each attempt if they fail, a burden for those with inconsistent or low-paying work.

“Those are barriers that you have to go through, but you got to go through them because you’re trying to dismiss catching the bus and being to work on time,” Robinson says. “You don’t have a lot of support. You don’t have a lot of help . . . Just trial and error, you know, that’s how you learn the system.”

Robinson finally secured his permit on October 10, 2022, about a year after his release.

“It’s wonderful,” Robinson says. “I’ve gotten a job and through EMERGE and been promoted from a crew member to a shop manager. Now I’m real close to getting my driver’s license . . . And I’m not the only one.”

As a result of this long and difficult process, many people reintegrating post-incarceration drive without a license, according to Liman Fellow and lawyer Hannah Duncan. Throughout her work in public interest law, she has been informed of cases where individuals violate parole, probation, or supervised release in order to drive out of necessity.

“It’s just so much easier,” Woodcock, EMERGE’s Executive Director, says. “Your chances of being pulled over are pretty slim, but if you do get pulled over without a license, and you’re on parole, you can get violated and sent back to jail. So that’s the risk that you run.”

The problem does not end once a license is secured. Now comes the process of buying and registering a car.

Getting a car alone is a costly process. In the last two years, used-car prices have increased dramatically used car prices are currently 43 percent higher nationally than the typical depreciation rates. Additionally, securing a loan to pay for a car is significantly harder for someone with both a criminal history and little to no credit history.

In order to register a car, identification in the form of a driver’s license or passport must be provided, along with proof of ownership in the form of a title or former owner registration. If the vehicle is

from another state, there are different requirements.

The DMV also requires proof of Connecticut car insurance and a Bill of Sale, a document with vehicle, buyer, and seller information, as well as the selling price and date of the vehicle. These can be drafted independently as long as they include all the necessary information. Car insurance in Connecticut can cost upwards of $800 per car, but drivers with a driving record or violation are charged more sometimes upwards of $2,000. Despite car insurance being mandatory in most states, companies can still deny applicants due to many factors, including credit history, type of vehicle, financial history and driving record.

The DMV charges fees for car registration, in addition to the insurance required for registration. To register a regular passenger car, the fees total $225.

Ramsay notes that a license may seem like “a small thing, but it’s a big thing at the end of the day.” He echoes that the difficulty of the process can be inhibiting to many who are trying to reintegrate.

“You see so many people,” Robinson says. “They become heartbroken because they go to get their license and many fail time and time again. And it’s like it’s very next door to being impossible.”

While only 10 percent of Connecticut residents are Black and 15 percent are Hispanic, 40 percent of incarcerated people in Connecticut are Black and 25 percent of them are Hispanic. As a result, these re-entry costs largely impact people of color disproportionately.

Things like state identifications and driver’s licenses are determined by state and federal requirements, meaning local government has little bearing on these requirements. New Haven’s main contribution to people reintegrating is through workarounds to getting a driver’s license: the public transit system and continued development of bike lanes. In summer of 2022, New Haven announced its Safe Routes for All Plan, which hopes to move away from a city transportation system that is based around cars, by enhancing the infrastructure of biking, walking, and public transit in the city.

Woodcock, EMERGE’s Executive Director, notes that most formerly incarcerated people he is aware of through EMERGE take public transportation or depend on others for car rides, while a smaller amount bike or walk.

Ramsay continues to gather the necessary documents to get his permit soon. Robinson will soon be scheduling his first attempt at his road test since passing the written test for a driver’s license.

“If you don’t have this documentation, [it’s easy to] go back to what you know,” Ramsay says. “But that wasn’t my case. I said, ‘You know what? I’m just gonna still take it one day at a time.’” ∎

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TheNewJournal Reintegration Roadblocks
Ángela S. Pérez Aguilar is a junior in Berkeley College.

Dr. Ashley Walters

Romancing the Russian Revolution: Anna Strunsky, William English Walling, and the Red Wedding

Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies and Director of the Pearlstine/ Lipov Center for Southern Jewish Culture at the College of Charleston. Her research interests include American and East European Jewish history, Jews and American culture, the history of leftist political movements, and Jews in the American South. She is currently working on a book manuscript titled, Intimate Radicals: East European Jewish Women and Progressive American Desires. She is also co-editing and contributing to a volume titled, Reframing Jewish American Literary History through Women’s Writing.

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Four students asked to be referred to by their first initial due to discomfort speaking publicly about their experiences consuming alcohol.

Will Caraccio ’25 was getting ready for bed one night in October, 2022, when he got a text that his friend and former roommate, Kyle Hovannesian ’25, was drunk. Really drunk.

The news was alarming, but not totally surprising. Will and Kyle had been roommates throughout their first year. Halloween night was the first time Kyle needed an ambulance. Will came home around one in the morning to find vomit all over the room, a third of a handle of vodka gone, and Kyle, nearly unresponsive, unable to walk by himself––all the warning signs of a potential overdose he was taught to look for in Yale’s safety training. “The first time I saw it, I was terrified. I was like, this kid is going to die,” Will said. “It’s kind of traumatizing.”

That night, Will followed protocol. He called 911, listened for sirens, and talked with the paramedics as they loaded Kyle into the back of the ambulance. Will passed it off as a typical “Welcome to Yale” moment, a rite of passage nearly all college first years experience. But the situation repeated itself; once, and then again. Will kept calling for help, listening for the ambulance to pull up outside the gates of Old Campus, watching the paramedics wheel his friend out on a gurney.

As harrowing as the ambulance trips and overnight hospitalizations may have been for Kyle, both he and Will remember the problems really starting after Kyle left the hospital. Kyle would get a bill from the ambulance company that promised to suck up all the money he’d been saving up from his student job at––of all places––Yale Health. It meant signing up for more shifts at work, calculating how much credit he could afford to spend, and cutting down on expenses, just to afford the following semester’s tuition. “I’m thinking, ‘there goes my entire savings,’” Kyle said. “[It] kind of starts a chain reaction that takes over my life.” Eventually, Kyle learned calling an ambulance was virtually out of the question.

“His life could be in jeopardy, or at least his health could be in jeopardy, whether or not it kills him. But at the same time he’s begging me, pleading with me not to call,” Will said. “So I don’t know what to do. I genuinely think if I were to call the ambulance every time he would have dropped out.”

So when Will got that text in October of 2022, he knew the drill. It turned out a scared friend who worried for Kyle’s safety had already called 911, and an ambulance was on the way. Will sprang into action. “What I did essentially was to say, ‘I know you don’t want to go in the ambulance.

You need to put on a really good performance for me,’” he said.

Will led Kyle to bed and turned off the lights. When the paramedics showed up, he lied and told them Kyle was fine; he was in bed, sleeping it off. When they demanded to see him anyway, Will told them to wait. He crept into the room and tried to prepare Kyle as best he could. He knew that the paramedics would ask Kyle some questions; he’d seen it enough times before to get the gist: Where are you? How old are you? How much money is seven quarters? Kyle, for his part, was terrified. He wouldn’t remember anything from that night, except this encounter with the paramedics. He knew if he failed to convince them he was okay, they would make him go to the hospital, and he’d get slammed with another bill. “I was telling myself, ‘O.K., sit up straight, speak slow, clear, annunciate’ It was very high pressure,” Kyle said. Both played their part well. With Will’s help, and the calming influence of the darkened room, they managed to persuade the paramedics to leave.

Representatives at Yale Health and the Yale Dean’s Office have told me they haven’t heard that ambulance bills present an obstacle to seeking medical attention, or have claimed outright that they do not. But students appear to disagree. Over the last six months, I spoke with twenty-one current and recently-graduated Yale students about experiences in which they personally hesitated to call for an ambulance, or witnessed someone hesitating to call one. Some of them had taken an ambulance trip at Yale already, and preferred to risk their health rather than experience it again. Others had heard what it would cost them or their friends, and figured it was safer to handle the situation on their own. These students spoke of other concerns that contributed to their hesitation, but one factor was far and away the most common and significant: the bill.

He knew if he failed to convince them he was okay, they would make him go to the hospital, and he’d get slammed with another bill. “I was telling myself, ‘O.K., sit up straight, speak slow, clear, annunciate’ . . . It was very high pressure,” Kyle said.

“I remember my friend was really drunk and really sick and was being wheeled out to the people that came with the stretchers,” said K. “And she was asking me, ‘Am I going to have to pay for this?’...That’s not something that you should be thinking about if you’re in that state.”

The dilemma of whether to call an ambulance during a true emergency, these students told me, is a threat to students’ mental and physical well-being, as well as their financial security. Many of these students claim that Yale has not meaningfully addressed or acknowledged the issue, leading them to doubt whether the University is upholding its fundamental responsibility to ensure the safety of its students.

DISCLAIMER SECTION 1
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Anna Tender was biking by the Peabody museum on Whitney Street when she fell off her bike and broke her wrist. A passerby noticed Anna laying on the ground, her skin flush pale, her hand sticking out in entirely the wrong direction, and decided to call an ambulance. But Anna was a junior, and by that time she’d heard a lot of stories from people who’d had to go to the hospital for alcohol emergencies. She knew what she might have to pay for it. “While I was laying there with my wrist broken, I was like, ‘can you please not call 911?’” Anna said. “I just really did not want to pay for an ambulance ride.” When the ambulance showed up, Anna declined to get in, signing the refusal of service waiver with her nondominant hand. She took a seat by the Peabody, and waited fifteen minutes for a friend to come pick her up and drive her to the emergency room. “Thinking back on it, it’s wild that that was the thing that I was really worried about.”

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Outside the Yale New Haven Hospital emergency room.

“If you talk to any student, they’d agree that [ambulances] should be free,” Kyle told me. “And Yale knows it’s a problem, how could they not?...I’m sure they realize this is putting a financial burden on students. They’d just rather put the burden on me than pay for it themselves.

Most administrators I reached out to declined or did not respond to requests for comment regarding the problems these twenty-one students described. Of the few administrators from whom I was able to obtain statements, none expressed prior awareness of the full scope of the issue.

THE ADMINISTRATION

“I think there definitely is a hesitation to call ambulances around here because of the prohibitive cost . . . I would say that probably everyone at Yale, specifically people at Yale who tend to go to events with alcohol or parties, probably knows someone who’s had to pay for an ambulance.”

When I was a first year, I learned quickly from friends and upperclassmen not to call an ambulance unless the situation was seriously life-threatening. It was part of my informal induction process to Yale, alongside how to sneak into the dining hall, or cram for my L1 final. In my experience as an undergraduate, Yale students who don’t hear the warning at first hear it eventually, and students who don’t hear it early enough often learn through painful experience.

“I think that’s something that was drilled into me. Never call an ambulance because you will be charged like $1000 I think it’s just like common knowledge,” said R.

High-ranking administrators at Yale, however, appear not to know this unwritten rule among Yale students. Dr. Jennifer McCarthy, Chief Medical Officer of Yale Health, told me she’d never looked into it. “Until you reached out to me, I hadn’t really thought of [cost] as an issue that would preclude people from calling,” she told me.

Shaun Heffernon, a prominent member of the Board of Advisors for Yale Emergency Medical Services (YEMS), and EMT instructor at Yale, said that, to his knowledge, worry about ambulance fees has never put a student at physical risk, nor have there been any internal discussions at YEMS about the problem of ambulance billing.

I reached out to many members of the Dean’s Office, including all fourteen residential college deans, Dean of Yale College Pericles Lewis, and Marichal Gentry, former Dean of Student Affairs and one of the founders of Yale’s Alcohol and Other Drugs Harm Reduction Initiative (AODHRI, pronounced “Audrey”). All either didn’t respond to requests for comment or

redirected me to current Dean of Student Affairs, Melanie Boyd. Dean Boyd sent the following statement, after which she did not respond to subsequent questions:

“I understand that money can be a worry, but many students nevertheless call for help in life-and-death situations when they think their friends’ lives are at risk.” Dean Boyd did not comment on the high burden of ambulance payments, or elaborate on medical situations that were not life-and-death.

Hannah Peck, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, echoed Dean Boyd’s comments. “When we’ve looked into this issue in the past, we’ve heard from students that in the moment of an emergency, worry about costs does not deter them from getting help for their friends.” She did not respond to follow-up questions about the collection of those students’ perspectives.

THE COST OF CALLING

“Unless it’s like a life or death scenario and I know that the person is going to die if they don’t call an ambulance, then I would feel like my responsibility would be to provide as much nonmedical support as I could without calling an ambulance.” LUCY SANTIAGO ’24

Most of the Yale policy makers say that in a medical emergency, there should be no hesitation in calling an ambulance. Safety comes first, finances second.

“As a physician and as a human,” Dr. McCarthy said, “you want them to call and deal with things like finance later.”

Yale does have a standard procedure for alcohol emergencies. AODHRI is a Yale program designed to minimize the “physical, psychological, academic, and social” harm of alcohol and drug consumption on campus. The AODHRI website urges students to seek medical help when they’re alarmed by their friends’ condition. They offer a page of emergency numbers to call; at the top of the list is the Yale Police. Yale trains incoming first years to call a First-Year Counselor (FroCo) or to call 911 when they feel unsure what to do, and instructs FroCos to do the same for their first year students. “Be willing to overreact to protect someone,” AODHRI admonishes.

Hannah Peck, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, echoed Dean Boyd’s comments. “When we’ve looked into this issue in the past, we’ve heard from students that in the moment of an emergency, worry about costs does not deter them from getting help for their friends.”

But not all students heed this advice, especially if the situation involves alcohol. Josie Steuer

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The New Journal SECTION 2

Ingall ’24, told me there are no circumstances in which she would call an ambulance for a drunk friend, “because it’s gonna cost ten bajillion dollars.” Another student, A., said she’s been a lot more careful since an incident in which she had to pay an inordinate price for an emergency call.

The only bulletproof way to avoid a surprise bill: don’t call an ambulance in the first place. It would seem this is the route many Yale students opt for.

“Afterward, I told all my friends, ‘Never call an ambulance, just sleep it off, it’s not worth the cost.’ . . . It’s the attitude of many Yale students, and it’s so dangerous.” It may be hard at first to understand why someone would risk their health. But in the experience of some students who’ve had to cope with the aftereffects of a hospital stay, the “safety first” approach has created financial burdens that outweigh the health risks. Some students who have taken an ambulance, or know someone who has, say they will not call 911 without serious thought, no matter the potential danger.

“If I had known [about the cost], I would have begged my friends not to call, even when getting help may have been in my best interest,” said A.

“The financial strain that this put on me was very intense,” said Lillian Zhou ’24. “The insanely high price makes me not want to call [an ambulance], for other people or myself.”

Tony Potchernikov ’24 remembers his ambulance bill costing between $500 and $800, which meant that he had to extend credit payments to afford a plane ticket home at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. “I remember thinking, ‘I have no idea what the hell I’m going to do,’” he said. It took Lillian the entire semester to earn the funds to pay back the $994 she owed, using a lot of savings from previous jobs. Josie Steuer Ingall contested her bill with her dad’s private insurance and was able to get it reduced from around $500 to $200, which meant she didn’t have to skimp on things like groceries and personal expenses. “I legitimately would have been fucked,” she told me.

For students who can’t afford to pay, a bill in their online health portal means potentially having to go to their parents for help. Even if they can afford the cost on their own, some portion of the charge is likely to show up on their parents’ insurance bill, alerting them to their child’s excessive drinking. For students who come from families that do not tolerate underage drinking, the shame of confessing to a disapproving family may be as painful as emptying their own pockets.

“The first thing I was worried about was having to tell my parents about the whole situation.” said Lillian. “Probably second to the how-am-Igoing-to-pay-all-of-this, is, this means I have to get my parents involved.”

It can be challenging for students to return to school and try to reinstitute a sense of normalcy

with all this hanging over their heads. “The psychic stress of . . . getting that bill was like being punched in the stomach,” Josie told me. A few students said they had trouble focusing on their classes after receiving their bills, preoccupied with the stress of debt and effort of earning the money back. “It’s hell,” Kyle said.

That’s a lot on the line for a single night of drinking. So when members of the administration recommend that students seek medical help when they feel their health is in danger, without regard to cost, it can feel ingenuous.

“For some people, [the bill] is a drop in the bucket,” said Anna Tender ’23. “For other people, that’s an entire month’s worth of their rent.”

LET’S TALK ABOUT INSURANCE

“If you have an emergency situation, you’re calling 911 wherever you are and who’s available is going to show up. So ideas like disclosing prices up front or giving people the opportunity to shop and compare don’t work in the ambulance space.” MADELINE O’BRIEN, RESEARCH FELLOW AT GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY’S CENTER ON HEALTH INSURANCE REFORMS

Every undergraduate at Yale has some form of health insurance––it’s a requirement for enrollment. Why, then, are students claiming to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a five minute ambulance ride?

Even before insurance kicks in, the final cost of an ambulance bill can be nearly impossible to predict. It varies by the type of care provided, the mileage driven, and a host of other factors. However, many students I spoke with brought up the same number as a kind of benchmark for the average ambulance rate: $1000.

Charlotte Murphy ’23, shared the view of many students I spoke to: “If I can help myself, and have a friend monitor me, it’s not ideal, but it’s better than paying a thousand dollars.”

One thousand dollars, before insurance, is on the low end for an ambulance ride. American Medical Response (AMR)––the designated ambulance service for New Haven, and one of the largest in the country––charges between $1005 and $2221, depending on the kind of life support they provide, and excluding additional fees.

A student with non-Yale insurance that covers their emergency transport will likely still need to pay some portion of this charge. There’s the copay: the flat rate every patient is required to pay for a service––and the deductible: the amount a patient is responsible for paying each year before insurance starts chipping in. This means that students who need an ambulance in

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The New Journal

In the second semester of her first year, Abbey Kim called an ambulance for a friend who was clearly too drunk to look after, and subsequently learned how much money an ambulance ride could cost. So when the situation came up again later that year—when Abbey’s friend got dangerously drunk, to the point of needing an IV in the hospital—she postponed calling 911 for two hours. “I don’t want to impose the cost of an ambulance on someone without it actually being dire, if that could be a serious thing for them,” Abbey said. Another time, Abbey and her friends were up until 6 in the morning taking care of an extremely intoxicated friend, rather than calling for help. “She was very, very drunk and it was shocking to see because she just is not someone who gets sick easily,” Abbey told me. “At that point, everyone knew that it cost money to call an ambulance….And so I think people just followed the ‘hopefully it’ll pass’ strategy.” Now, Abbey and her friends have established a plan of action for each of them, should someone require an ambulance. “The…situation forced us to have conversations while sober about what we would want to happen to us if we got too drunk,” Abbey said.

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Stickers cover a bulletin board at the YNHH.
STORY 2

When Lillian Zhou had too much to drink one Friday night in February, 2022—exhibiting the warning signs for overintoxication she’d learned from Yale alcohol safety officers—her roommate decided to call the student health line. An ambulance showed up to take Lillian to the Yale New Haven Hospital. When she was released early the following morning, with a nasty hangover and the advice to take an Uber home, she didn’t know that a month later she would be hit with a nearly $1,000 ambulance bill. “I was not in a situation to understand what level of bill I was getting myself into, or that my insurance wasn’t going to cover it,” she said. It took her months to finally pay it off. She had to beg her parents for money, though it’s very uncomfortable to talk about alcohol-related matters with her family (they offered to pay a small portion of the bill). She tried to get help from Yale and talked with her FroCo, Yale Health, and the Yale New Haven Hospital, but wasn’t able to recoup any money. “I found it preoccupied me a fair bit for most of that semester.” Lillian said. “It was a very different kind of stress than you feel normally in college, and one that I obviously don’t think it’s fair to be subjected to.”

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A street sign points toward Yale New Haven Hospital.
STORY 3 The New Journal

January are likely footing the entire bill, while those who wait until December might get off easier. Often the costliest factor is the coinsurance, or the percentage of the bill that the patient is responsible for paying. All this can leave a fully-insured patient with hundreds or more to pay out-of-pocket.

Often, however, an ambulance service is not covered by a student’s insurance at all, which leaves them vulnerable to “surprise billing.” A surprise bill can occur when a patient inadvertently receives emergency treatment from an outof-network provider. In the case of ambulances, the dispatcher will almost always send whatever provider is available and nearby, whether or not they’re contracted with the patient’s health plan. Because patients don’t get to choose what service comes to get them, they have nothing to protect them from out-of-network billing rates. They can either get in whatever ambulance shows up, and risk having to pay an inflated bill, or refuse the care altogether.

A study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), one of the nation’s leading sources of medical analysis and journalism, found that approximately 50 percent of national ground ambulance transports to emergency rooms ended in a surprise bill; another study by Health Affairs found that in Connecticut, that number balloons to 66 percent. I spoke with the lead author of the KFF study, Krutika Amin, who confirmed that ambulances result in the highest out-of-network billing rate of any medical service.

Madeline O’Brien, research fellow at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms, emphasized the bind that surprise billing puts on students. “This is a situation where students do not have choice,” she told me. “In the vast majority of cases, people who are calling an ambulance need to be in an ambulance. And we don’t want [them] . . . being in a situation where they can’t make it to the hospital or they’re stuck waiting in the emergency room because they were worried about cost.”

Yale Health offers undergraduates two levels of insurance: Basic, and Hospitalization/Specialty Care. The Basic plan is free for every enrolled student, and does not cover the cost of ground ambulances. The Specialty plan (costing $2,756 for a full term) does cover ambulances, with no copay. Yale Specialty is offered free of charge for every student on full financial aid, and is currently owned by 52 percent of the undergraduate body, according to Dr. McCarthy. The remaining 48 percent have some other form of insurance––usually provided through their parents or guardians’ plans. It’s this half who are most susceptible to the crushing costs of ambulances.

In January, 2022, the No Surprises Act went into effect, which largely protects patients from paying out-of-network rates for doctors and treatment facilities they did not get to choose. “Millions of hard-working Americans will no

longer have to worry about unexpected medical bills,” President Biden announced in February, 2022. But this was not entirely true. While the No Surprises Act kicks into action once a patient is in the hospital, it doesn’t account for the costs incurred on the drive over. In light of this vulnerability, ten states have taken proactive steps to pass some level of protection for surprise billing from ground ambulances. Connecticut is not one of them.

Two million dollars is 0.0048 percent of Yale’s endowment; 4.7 percent of what Yale spent on library acquisitions in 2018; and 3.5 percent of what the University spent on athletics the same year.

The only bulletproof way to avoid a surprise bill: don’t call an ambulance in the first place. It would seem this is the route many Yale students opt for.

SO SOMEONE’S CALLING AN AMBULANCE FOR YOU. HERE’S WHAT TO EXPECT ON YOUR AMR BILL.

Dispatch sends a basic life support (BLS) ambulance, meant for less critical injuries.

You’re awake, alert, and it’s not too serious. You don’t look so good. It seems serious: chest pain, trouble breathing, an allergic reaction, loss of consciousness, or struck by a vehicle, perhaps.

Dispatch sends an advanced life support (ALS) ambulance. Those are staffed with at least one paramedic and carry life-saving medication.

During transportation, you need to be given multiple administrations of medication or a procedure like chest decompression. You’re charged for every mile driven.

During the ride, They’re here but you refuse to get in.

The BLS ambulance that was dispatched still treats you outside.

The ALS ambulance that was dispatched still treats you outside.

*An emergency response is an immediate response to a 911 call or the equivalent. The ALS 1 level of service has a non-emergency response option, hence the distinction. Data from “2022 and 2023 Allowable Rates by EMS Organizations,” published by the Connecticut Office of Emergency Medical Services. BLS versus ALS differentiation examples from https://www.bccrs.org/our-services/fire-rescue-ems/ frequently-asked-questions/.

Disclaimer: This chart is a simplification of the ambulance billing process meant for educational purposes. It leaves out many other billing categories and glosses over the evaluation of BLS versus ALS transport made by dispatchers.

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* BLS Treat/Nontransport BLS Treat/Nontransport ALS ALS 1 EMERGENCY ALS 2 PER MILE $1,005.00 $249.00 $327.00 $1,630.00 $1,687.00 $27.11

GETTING PEACE OF MIND

“If we were to be able to expand that basic plan to emergency coverage . . . then a student can have the peace of mind knowing that, ‘hey, if I need an ambulance’ or ‘hey, if my friend needs to go to the E.R.,’ the bill is not something I’m going to have to worry about.”

What could Yale do to protect its students from ambulance billing?

“I think the solution would be some type of financial assistance,” Shaun Heffernon, member of the Yale Emergency Medical Services board of advisors, told me.

SECTION SECTION 5

Dr. McCarthy agreed. “I feel like it’s an insurance question,” she said. “So the question is, should Yale––not Yale Health because that’s a different thing––should they cover ambulance transports?”

As of the latest public disclosure, Yale has 41.4 billion dollars in its endowment. As administrators persistently point out, spending that money is not as simple as writing a check. There’s a process required to free up money for university expenses. At the same time, the fact that Yale has more resources than all but one other educational institution on the planet, and more than a few countries, has led some students to wonder if the institution should not brave its own bureaucracy and make the funds available.

“One trip to the emergency room is enough to put you in debt and wipe out your savings,” said Kyle. “They’re basically saying it’s O.K. for me to go through this, it’s ok for all these other students to go through this, just so they can save a buck.”

Using some simple back-of-the-envelope calculations, the amount of money required to cover emergency ambulance costs for students would be, for Yale, relatively little. The cost of an AMR ambulance providing basic life support is about $1000. An ambulance providing Advanced Life Support can reach nearly $1700, not including mileage fees.

Neither Yale Health nor AMR disclosed to me how many ambulances are taken by Yale students every year, but it is possible to reach a rough estimate by looking at a comparable institution that does. Brown University’s free ambulance program, according to publicly available data, receives approximately one thousand calls a year. Brown has about six hundred more undergraduate students than Yale, so the number of rides at Yale College (assuming an equivalent amount of partying) would presumably be somewhat lower. But even if Yale students made exactly the same number of calls as Brown students; every one of those calls ended up in a transport; and every one of those transports incurred nearly the maximum

charge of $2000, the total cost for the school would come out to two million dollars.

Two million dollars is 0.0048 percent of Yale’s endowment; 4.7 percent of what Yale spent on library acquisitions in 2018; and 3.5 percent of what the University spent on athletics the same year.

Presumably, if Yale were willing to reimburse the full bill, it would have no issue contracting with AMR or any other ambulance service. But even if Yale were unable to formally cover ambulances under its Basic insurance, there are institutional funds like Safety Net––a system designed to reimburse Yale students for unexpected funds related to their education––which could pay back the full ambulance cost directly to students. Safety Net representatives told me they offer “generous support” for high-need students who experience unexpected medical bills, but did not respond to requests for more information.

HARM REDUCTION

“I can’t imagine there’s anyone who [hasn’t hesitated to call an ambulance for a drunk friend]. I think anytime anybody seems too drunk, anytime anybody seems ill . . .  whatever anybody will encounter, [they] really have to stop and think, should I call 911?”

There are a myriad of reasons someone might need to go to the hospital––two of the students I talked to were involved in bike accidents, another experienced an allergic reaction. But overwhelmingly, students told me they considered calling an ambulance due to acute intoxication.

On every college campus in every state in the country, students are going to drink. The question is not how to prevent students from drinking altogether, but how to ensure they do so safely. This has been Yale’s stated goal for over a decade: to reduce not just the physical harm of alcohol consumption on campus, but the financial, social, and mental harm as well.

But Yale has so far made no move to address the prohibitive price of an ambulance. In some students’ opinions, this oversight has not only placed them in danger, but violated Yale’s own stated intention of mitigating alcohol-related harms.

“I do think that Yale should cover ambulance costs, especially considering that they teach freshman students to call their FroCos and they teach the FroCos to call Yale Health,” said Lucy Santiago.

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In addition to AODHRI, a one-stop shop for substance use education and resources, Yale has a number of other strategies to minimize the consequences of alcohol consumption. There are mandatory educational seminars during Camp Yale (Yale’s orientation week) to teach first year 6

students about safe drinking. There is Yale’s medical emergency policy, which ensures a student will not face disciplinary action if they call for medical attention. And there is Yale’s First Year Counselor (FroCo) program, which––operating with the the understanding that a first year student new to campus life is usually more vulnerable than an upperclassman––is designed to pair younger students with a trusted older figure to help with the college transition, and in whom to confide.

The formula Yale has worked out is intuitive. If they can educate their students on the danger of severe intoxication––thereby limiting the number of dangerous alcohol emergencies––and reduce barriers for accessing help, then students are positioned to navigate the complications of alcohol consumption at college with a full measure of protection.

But there is a gap in Yale’s harm reduction measures––a gap of no more than half of a mile or so, which separates a very drunk student from the safety of Yale Health or Yale New Haven Hospital. That half of a mile can represent hundreds or even thousands of dollars; it can span the distance between happy parents and parents threatening sanctions. Most crucially, it can measure the difference between calling for emergency help, and braving it alone.

So long as this gap exists, some students believe, no combination of other Yale initiatives will fully protect them from the snowballing consequences of a single night’s binging. “It’s all bullshit,” said Will. “I didn’t feel like there was actually as many options as they say and it feels a little bit deceitful.”

Online data from Yale’s Office of Institutional Research shows that 62 percent of Yale students, or approximately four thousand undergraduates, report binge drinking––that is, they consume four or more drinks (for women) or five or more drinks (for men) in a night. When someone binge drinks, they rapidly increase their risk of alcohol poisoning or alcohol-related injury, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Despite this, only sixteen students were seen at Yale Health Acute Care in 2021 with the diagnosis “intoxication”.

DECISION-MAKING

“It’s like a Catch-22. If you call the ambulance, you’re risking completely setting him back in many different spheres in his life. Emotionally. Financially. Socially. If you don’t call, you are placing yourself as essentially God . . . You [feel like] you have his life in your hands.”

WILL CARRACIO ’25

In many scary medical situations, it can be hard to parse degrees of emergency––is this

something I can sleep off, or is it life-threatening? This is especially true for intoxication. Two people who’ve had the same amount to drink, exhibiting the same symptoms, can suffer vastly different consequences.

This creates a quandary: the bystander’s dilemma. The psychological burden of deciding whether to call an ambulance for someone else––the potential consequences of a wrong decision ––adds to the overall mental cost associated with ambulance billing.

On the one hand, there may appear to be an imminent threat to someone’s health, or even their life. “When you’re scared and he’s vomiting or saying things that are scary and there’s adrenaline and it’s all happening at once, you don’t have a clear head,” Will said. “Your mind automatically goes to the worst scenario, which is this kid is going to die in my suite, and it’s going to be my fault.”

But sometimes calling for help might feel like the most threatening option. “I just would not want to put that cost on someone not knowing if they were going to be able to pay it,” said Lucy Santiago.

How does one measure the relative value of these factors, pummeled by a whirlwind of secondary considerations––family relationships, emotional and legal liability, an obligation to respect their friend’s wishes––while trying not to dwell on the knowledge that the decision they make could impact their friend’s long term physical or mental health?

These decisions––they’re often not only upsetting, but incredibly perilous. A first-year undergrad with a semester of Biology 101 and access to WebMD is not able to properly triage a patient. A CDC report on binge drinking from 2015 found that 113 people between the ages of 15 and 24 die of alcohol poisoning every year, though the number that die of alcohol-induced injuries and accidents is much higher (approximately fifteen hundred college students per year, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism).

It only takes one mistake––that decision to put a friend in bed instead of picking up the phone––to cost someone their life. Every moment of hesitation, weighing unknown probabilities and balancing the possibility of physical cost against the guarantee of financial cost, raises that likelihood.

“If they’re not arousable and they’re in a pool of vomit and the friends are really concerned. Yeah, absolutely . . . that’s a medical emergency, they could die from that,” said Jennifer McCarthy.

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It only takes one mistake—that decision to put a friend in bed instead of picking up the phone— to cost someone their life. Every moment of hesitation, weighing unknown probabilities and balancing the possibility of physical cost against the guarantee of financial cost, raises that likelihood.

Josie Steuer Ingall was making a turn on her bike at the intersection of State and Bradley when she was hit by a car. Josie went flying and dislocated her hip. Some people eating nearby at September in Bangkok witnessed what happened and called an ambulance. Josie had heard stories before, and was not keen to pay any ambulance bills. She put her own hip back in place. “Do not put me in your white van. I am not going to the hospital,” Josie remembers thinking. But she was scared; she’d just been hit by a car after all. So when the paramedics from American Medical Response arrived on scene, they managed to persuade her to get into the ambulance for a quick assessment, so long as the vehicle didn’t move an inch. “I told them ten thousand times I don’t want to go to the hospital,” Josie said. The paramedics asked her a few questions, diagnosed her with hip contusions, and allowed her to hobble to her boyfriend’s house. Josie thought she’d managed to avoid the charge. Later, she got a bill for $500.

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An ambulance speeds along South Frontage Road.
STORY 4

FROCOS

“The culture that surrounds this at Yale . . . calling an ambulance for someone is really a last resort . . . I would say it’s a dilemma that pretty much every student at Yale will go through at least once, if not deciding as a FroCo figure, then at least as a friend.” J. ’22, FORMER FROCO

Few people are placed in a graver and more confusing situation regarding acute intoxication than Yale’s FroCos. Since Yale trains FroCos to err on the side of caution when one of their first years is in need of medical attention, many students know that in certain situations, contacting a FroCo is the same as contacting the paramedics. In the experience of more than a few students, this Yale policy serves to further isolate them from the people best equipped to provide help, and can compound the danger of an emergency.

But FroCos are students themselves. They know first-hand what it’s like to worry about the cost of an ambulance. At one point, they might have had to conceal their intoxication from their own FroCos. For J. ’22, a former FroCo, these memories are all too fresh.

“We didn’t really realize how difficult things could be very quickly if you didn’t have a specialty health care coverage,” she told me, referring to a time her first year when she called an ambulance for her friend. “And so that kind of influenced when I was a senior and I called an ambulance for someone, the first thing I asked was, ‘Are you for sure under specialty coverage?’”

FroCos who encounter emergency situations involving alcohol find themselves in an especially agonizing bind, J. told me. On the one hand, they have close bonds with students and want to save them the expense of an ambulance ride that may well be unnecessary. On the other hand, they are in positions of authority, and choosing not to call would deliberately flout protocol.

“I remember during training they told us that we had to call the ambulance if the student was unresponsive,” said J. “I remember after that talk the [FroCo team] came together and were like, ‘No, that’s ridiculous. If someone is not able to pay for it, we will Uber them there.’”

Uber is an option for some students, but comes with its own host of limitations. Many students do not feel safe taking a non-emergency vehicle to the hospital––having to obey traffic laws and risk sickness en route; and many drivers do not feel comfortable carrying a sick student.

For Matt Chin ’22, former Berkeley FroCo, the paramount concern is safety.

“At the end of the day as a FroCo we don’t have professional medical experience. So a lot of the times when we go into situations, it’s a judgment call,” he told me. “And for me personally, I think that really the anxiety around those

situations comes from just wanting to do the best I can to uphold the safety of everyone.”

Despite this, Chin says he dislikes Yale’s policy, which for him was one of the most frustrating parts of being a FroCo: “It was baffling to me where there was policy in place [that] almost counteracted that trust students had in FroCos,” he said. “[It] almost seemed counterintuitive to what FroCos are in place for and the guidance that we received.”

Some students have found strategies to work around Yale’s FroCo policy. Will resorted to talking to one FroCo in code. “One time I called the FroCo and I said, ‘hey, hypothetically, if my friend is really drunk, can I explain some hypothetical symptoms to you, and you can tell me what you think?’” Will told me. “That’s sort of a way of getting around the red tape, and the FroCo was fine with doing that.”

DEVELOPING AN AMBULANCE SYSTEM

“I think that whenever Yale sets a cap on their resources for emergen[cy] situations, it’s going to lead to issues.”

There is another way that Yale could ease the burden of ambulance fees on students: operate its own emergency transport service.

It is relatively common for universities to run ambulance systems out of their student EMS programs, at little to no cost to the student body. Self-reported data on the National Collegiate Emergency Medical Service Foundation website––an organization that encompasses student-run EMS programs on college campuses across the world––shows that thirty-eight of the 261 represented U.S. colleges supply ambulance services to their students.

From my conversations with EMS captains at other schools, it appears this does a lot to encourage students to seek medical attention. “We see a lot of times, we’ll get on scene and a student does not want to go to the hospital that really needs to go,” said Maribeth Novsak, Chief of Rowan University EMS. “So us being able to walk in and say, ‘hey, you’re not going to get a bill for this’ . . . it usually can get them to get into the ambulance and go to the hospital.”

Michelle Kight, Chief of Montclair State EMS, told a similar story. “I have recently heard of a case where a student didn’t want to go to the hospital, and that was the rationale that they gave, is that they thought we billed,” she told me. “And we’re like, ‘No, we don’t bill, we’ll take you for no fee.’ And then they went.”

If Yale wanted to set up an ambulance system on campus, they would probably start with Yale

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Emergency Medical Services (YEMS). YEMS is a Yale organization made up of volunteer student EMTs––most commonly seen at sports games or other large events. Though they’re qualified to administer basic life support––same as any professional EMT––they currently only provide stand-by coverage. In other words, they don’t respond to calls.

So Yale would have to get AMR to voluntarily give up the service rights to Yale campus, no doubt a sizable portion of their New Haven income. Though Yale could conceivably exert enormous pressure on AMR, the chances of them succeeding appear small. To hear Chief Perez talk about it, Yale would have the same luck asking AMR to write them a check. “If me or you work at AMR we’d be like, ‘What? Absolutely not.’ That’s our business. That’s our bread and butter,” he said.

I talked to Judi Reynolds, New Haven’s Regional EMS Coordinator, about what it would take for YEMS to expand into an ambulance agency. Together we went through each of the state requirements. Given the necessary funding and patience, there were really only two that posed a considerable challenge.

The first––personnel acquisition––is theoretically achievable, say members of the YEMS Executive Board and university EMS captains. In order to earn Primary Service Area Responder (PSAR) status for Yale campus––the designation that allows an organization to run an ambulance program ––YEMS would need to provide 24/7 coverage, 365 days a year. That would likely require hiring licensed EMTs outside the student body to fill in during the times of year when students are on break. The only Connecticut college to do this is the University of Connecticut, by way of their in-house fire department. William Perez, Chief of UConn Fire, told me the effort wouldn’t be worth the requisite time and money for Yale, so long as back-end reimbursement options exist.

The second challenge I discussed with Judi Reynolds is more herculean. According to CT law, only one agency can serve as the designated PSAR in a given municipality at a time. Currently, for Yale campus, that agency is AMR. “If you want to have an ambulance, then that’s an agreement [with AMR] or a relinquishing by them,” Reynolds said.

So Yale would have to get AMR to voluntarily give up the service rights to Yale campus, no doubt a sizable portion of their New Haven income. Though Yale could conceivably exert enormous pressure on AMR, the chances of them succeeding appear small. To hear Chief Perez talk about it, Yale would have the same luck asking AMR to write them a check. “If me or you work at AMR we’d be like, ‘What? Absolutely not.’ That’s our business. That’s our bread and butter,” he said.

AMR earned 860 million dollars in revenue in 2021. The North American ambulance services

market as a whole was valued at 18.85 billion U.S. dollars in 2022, according to a 2022 report by Grand View Research, and is expected to reach $40.64 billion by 2030. “Ambulances…it’s a business. [They make it so complicated] to keep things in check.” Chief Perez said. “It keeps the chess board stable. So when you move that chess piece, a lot of people gotta agree and a lot of people gotta know.”

I asked Dr. McCarthy if Yale Health had ever discussed acquiring their own ambulances: “We have not…There are lots of requirements.”

I asked Shaun Heffernon if YEMS had ever reached out to AMR: “To the best of my knowledge, they have not formally requested to expand their services.”

TAKING CARE

“There’s no reason why it shouldn’t be free. [Yale has] the money. Even if it hurts their budget a little bit, they have the money.”

Chief Perez had his own idea for how to maintain student safety, for a much lower price tag. “Is there any way [Yale] could set aside a little pot of money with some administrator that examines it case by case? How much can it be?” he said. “How is that a bad thing?”

The problem of ambulance bills raises a fundamental question about the University’s responsibility to its students. To be clear, ambulances are not the only medical expense students struggle with, nor the only reason they might delay medical care. However, according to student accounts, they present a disproportionately large obstacle to seeking emergency medical attention and an unreasonable financial burden.

Madeline O’Brien believes something needs to change. “Any situation where somebody is not taking [an ambulance] because they’re worried about cost, that could be life or death,” she said. “So even if I don’t have the data on all the people who are doing that, if you know one person at Yale, or a handful of people at Yale, who didn’t get service and it could have made a difference in their safety, then that’s an issue that needs to be solved,” she said.

Chief Perez seemed to agree. “I don’t need . . . something bad happening to you guys because you don’t want to call 911 because you don’t want to pay,” he told me. “I’d pay for it out of my damn pocket before I let you get hurt.”

“It’s not right,” he added after a pause. “We’re supposed to take care of each other.” ∎

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Jesse Goodman is a senior in Berkeley College and Executive Editor of The New Journal.
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WHEN YALE HARBORED A NAZI, PART 2: THE OPEN SECRET

Years after one Nazi was exposed at Yale, another remained on the faculty of the Slavic Languages and Literatures department.

In November 1985, nine years after his past as a Nazi propagandist came to light and his life as a Yale lecturer fell apart, Vladimir Sokolov was still enduring what he called, in letters to the local Russian press, the “torture of waiting.” He had waited three years for the Department of Justice’s Office of Special Investigations to conclude its investigation of his career with the Nazis and his deception of American immigration officials in the 1950s. He had waited three more years for the trial––which would revoke his U.S. citizenship––to begin. And now, after 11 days of court proceedings, it would still be several more months before Judge Thomas F. Murphy of the Federal District Court for the District of Connecticut rendered a verdict.

As the investigations continued, and Sokolov inveighed in emigre newspapers against the DOJ and the “Devil and his henchmen,” things at Yale returned to normal. The Slavic Languages and Literatures Department filled the position Sokolov had vacated and Russian classes in the basement of the Hall of Graduate Studies resumed as before.

But even after the scandal broke, even after Sokolov retired from Yale early in disgrace and left New Haven for good, and despite a three-year Justice Department effort that compiled depositions of Yale faculty, forensic analyses of German war documents, and interviews with historians of the Holocaust, there was still a former Nazi on the faculty of the Slavic department.

The full article appears exclusively online at: https://thenewjournalatyale.com/2023/02/ when-yale-harbored-a-nazi-part-2/

2.0. 37
Images of archival documents courtesy of Heidelberg University, transformed from originals; 1951 identification card headshot of Rurik Dudin courtesy of Igor Petrov, transformed from original; war photos of Nazi Cossack units sourced from the Etablissement Cinématographique et Photographique des Armées, Ivry, transformed from originals; “Sovětská mapa bojů Kyjev” by Ministry of Defense of USSR, licensed under CC BY 2.0; “Ruined Kiev in wwII ” by unknown, licensed under
CC BY

This Tattoo is Permanent

Art and queerness at the Broken Crystal Tattoo Studio in Milford, Connecticut.

Profile photographs
lukas flippo 38 TheNewJournal
by

One of the best tattoos Sam Jannetty has recently made was for a fellow lesbian. It was two black-and-white scissors, well, scissoring. Like she does with all her designs, Sam posted this tattoo to her Instagram page, sprinkling rainbow emojis in the caption: “ IYKYK .” (If you know, you know.)

Sam is the owner of Broken Crystal Tattoo Studio in Milford, Connecticut, which she advertises as a queer-friendly tattoo shop. The descriptor is unnecessary. “I mean, we’ve got frickin’ Rick and Morty playing in here,” Sam says, gesturing to a large flat-screen TV hanging on a robin-egg blue wall. The rest of the shop resembles an explosion of a Pride parade. There are rainbows everywhere: a rainbow fan, splayed open next to a poster with a chicken nugget on it that reads “ NUGS, NOT DRUGS ”; a rainbow tapestry depicting UFOs abducting people from Earth; and rainbow Pokemon figurines filling a plastic bowl on the coffee table as if they were front desk mints. On my first visit, I had no trouble finding the shop in an otherwise nondescript suburban strip mall, as Sam had also hung a set of sheer rainbow curtains on the front window. Sunlight streamed through, casting kaleidoscopic reflections on the tiled floor.

It’s in this rainbow-tinted sunlight that I watch Sam show me her own tattoos. “I think I have, like, thirty-five?” She pauses, squinting in the brightness as she counts. “Yeah, I’d say thirty-five tattoos.” With her colorful arm tattoos and neon hair that she dyes and re-dyes on a whim, Sam settles in her store perfectly. “I wouldn’t worry about putting that too close to me,” she says, making a slight shooing motion when I adjust my phone to record our conversation. “I’m loud as hell.”

Pac-Man, a matching tattoo she shares with her siblings, next to a large moth that wraps its wings protectively over her right elbow. She also has an ice cream cone with a skull on top of it, a happy little alien holding on to a happy little cat, and a tiny fish tank (because she has a tiny tank—a small bladder—herself). Many of her tattoos were drawn by other artists whom she lets practice on her own skin. There’s no coherent theme tying all of these designs together, but I’m surprised to hear that she thinks a lot of these permanent creations suck. “This one here,” Sam says, pointing to a very gay, very rainbow gradient bar on her upper arm, “when the artist started, and I saw the ink bleeding together, I thought, ‘Oh, shit.’” She shrugs and laughs.

hypermasculine decor. After saving up some money, she left the old shop and opened her own studio. “They’re all the same,” Sam says. “You walk in, and there’s a motorcycle up front. There’s some creepy-ass version of metal music in the background, all these guys around. It’s like a sit down, shut up, get tattooed kind of thing.”

At her old shop, Sam had to endure some rather bizarre tattoo requests. Once, a gay man walked in and demanded that she tattoo the f-slur on the inside of his lip. He wanted to reclaim the word, and a queer artist should help him do it at the very least, right? Another time, a couple—it’s always the couple tattoos— wanted each other’s names tattooed on them in a brushstroke heart with three money wads on one side, three pot leaves on the other. No matter what, Sam reserves most of her judgment, with the exception of turning down one customer who insisted on getting a butterfly tramp stamp that started in her ass crack.

“Sometimes I’m like, you really want to get this shit on you right now?” she says. She lets out a brief sigh. “But if you want it, you want it. Go for it.”

Sam doesn’t quite have sleeves—or at least not yet, she tells me—but her tattoos nearly envelop her forearms. She raises her arms, wrists turned upward, to give me a better look. There’s a red

Sam runs Broken Crystal (she chose the name because it’s rather “pastel goth,” she says) with her sister Chloe and another colleague. The shop opened in April 2021 and has drawn a loyal, mostly queer cohort of tattoo enthusiasts. Sam started tattooing around her college graduation, five years ago. In that time, she’s seen her fair share of the less savory side of the tattooing industry. She got her tattooing license by enrolling in a tattooing school, ignoring the traditional route of becoming an apprentice to a more established artist. But Sam found the school, with its exorbitant tuition and a general lack of committed instructors, to be highly exploitative. Sam primarily taught herself by practicing, for hours upon hours, on fake skin and fruit rinds, and eventually joined a tattoo shop in New Haven as a new artist. But the shop she worked at was a far cry from the one she owns now. Most of the other artists were men, who would occasionally hit on their women clients. Sam, a “hundred-footer” (someone you could spot as gay from a hundred feet away), immediately felt out of place. “I was the show pony of the shop,” she says. Sam hates being told what to do, and her anti-authoritarian impulses blossomed as she grew tired of traditional, male-dominated tattoo shops and their

Idecided to get my first tattoo a couple summers ago, when I began dating women for the first time. It was a simple line drawing of two koi fish swimming around each other, designed by my childhood best friend, who is also queer and Chinese. I knew I wanted it on my arm, or somewhere visible on my body. I wasn’t going to hide it under a sleeve, or keep it tucked behind my ear. My body and I have had a strained relationship, and it became even more tense during lockdown. I had little to do besides waste time in my childhood bedroom, watching my body and face mutate and metamorphose: gaining weight, losing weight, gaining it back, plus more; cutting my bangs, dying my hair. I became less interested in looking thin, pretty, and appealing to men—the things I’d been concerned about before the pandemic cut my sophomore year of college short—and more concerned with just looking different. Having a visible tattoo was a part of that journey.

Sometimes, I look through the CVS photos that used to hang under the string lights in my dorm. The photos remind me of how little I recognize in my old self. In one photo, she’s wearing a hot pink dress, her arms draped around a friend. She’s drunk, but laughing. In

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another, her long hair spills over her shoulder as she leans over to kiss a boy on the cheek. The person in the photos was twenty pounds lighter, more delicate, more feminine, and very, very straight.

No one else in my family has a tattoo. When I was mulling over my first tattoo, my mother lamented to me that no one would hire me if I got one. I had to reassure her that the only occupations I could foresee banning tattoos were preschool teachers and the Navy, and I had no intention of joining either. But I could understand her ambivalence. In the weeks ahead of my appointment, questions swarmed in my mind. What if I don’t like the way it looks on my body? What will happen when I’m older, when my skin sags and swells, when the ink blurs and fades? I shuddered to imagine the wrinkles forming around those two fish, their bellies slowly bulging and bloating along with my own.

sterilized needles, gauze pads, and Vaseline. Among their ranks is a dried out orange peel, preserved proudly in a glass case. There are faint black scratches shaped like fish and flowers on its side, likely some of Sam’s earliest etchings.

In her sanitized, well-organized nook, Sam is showing a custom design that she drew on her iPad to Tatiana, her client today. Tatiana, like most clients, found Broken Crystal by asking around for good queer tattoo artists in the area. The design is rather bare bones, without the shading and detail that Sam will include later. Flowers are one of Sam’s specialties; she can usually draw them from memory.

lifelong artist who attended an arts high school, is a practiced impressionist. She first makes a gentle outline of the sunflower on Tatiana’s leg, carefully and slowly tracing out the hair-thin stem, each folded petal. She uses a handheld needle—not one of the heavy, traditional needles connected to a power outlet that shakes when you turn the voltage higher—because it feels like using a light paintbrush. Once the black outline is down, she goes in with the colors, starting with the lightest shade and moving to the darkest, easing them into the skin like slow, weighty watercolors.

Getting a tattoo is a dull, monotonous pain, like getting stung by a microscopic bee over and over again—only, the bee is actually a thin needle puncturing your skin up to three thousand times per minute. When the needle punctures your dermis, the second layer of your skin, and injects a spout of ink, your body sends white blood cells to attack the foreign particles. But tattoo particles are larger than the particles white blood cells can dispose of, so the ink remains. A tattoo is a wound you wear forever. I thought of this as the artist moved the needle to the thickest, most fleshy part of my shoulder, as I closed my eyes and felt the machine buzz into my skin.

Although Sam’s workspace in Broken Crystal, like the rest of the store, is a shock of colors and trinkets, it serves a utilitarian purpose too. On a simple black shelf, miniature figurines of monkeys, unicorns, and skeletons stand with the order and obedience of a newly conscripted army among

After Tatiana approves the design, Sam prints out a stencil version on carbon-based paper in washable ink. The stencil is what’s used to determine the tattoo’s placement, and what the artist ultimately traces over during the actual tattooing. Sam shaves Tatiana’s calf and disinfects it, and reaches past her collection of Dr. Seuss-themed bobbleheads for a thick, purple gooey substance. She applies the goo generously to the stencil on Tatiana’s leg. When she peels it away, we see the final design: a delicate sunflower, its stem a trail of cursive spelling out the name of Tatiana’s late aunt. Sam has watched clients decide on one placement, then decide it was too high, then too low, then too off-center, before concluding that their original placement was ideal all along. But Sam is always patient. “I want people to feel comfortable with whatever goes on their bodies,” Sam insists. Thankfully, Tatiana likes the initial placement too.

Sam tells me, much to my surprise, that she suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome. Her hand tenses up sometimes, which can make tattooing rather uncomfortable. When she tattoos, her vivacious, effervescent expressions grow more subdued. She quietly and steadily holds the tattoo gun in place, applying brief dabs of Vaseline to make sure the ink enters the skin seamlessly. She checks in regularly with her clients—“You hanging in there? Does that hurt?”—before returning to her work with intense focus. She tells me that she hates seeing her clients in pain. “I hate hurting people,” she admits, “even though that’s my job.”

Watching Sam work, I learn that tattooing is a lot like painting, and Sam, a

Sam remembers the pain of her first tattoo too vividly. She had just turned 18, and her parents had finally let her get that ambitious tattoo she had wanted for a long time: a giant, multicolored dream catcher that encircled her back, inspired by Disney’s Pocahontas. “You know, ‘Colors of the Wind’ and blue corn moon and all of that stuff?” she reminisces.

The full color tattoo took around three hours to complete. It felt like a hot knife going into her back the entire time. The male artist was a family friend. “Everything about it was awful. There was metal music playing, skulls everywhere, and the guy’s got a big bike outside, bulldogs in front,” Sam groans. “He’s got greased-back hair, tattoos everywhere, like the most cliché tattoo shop you could possibly go to. And of all the names, the shop was called, like,

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This Tattoo is Permanent
Watching Sam work, I learn that tattooing is a lot like painting, and Sam, a lifelong artist who attended an arts high school, is a practiced impressionist.

COMMITMENT.” She spits out the word dramatically.

“Why did you choose to get more tattoos?” I ask. “Thirty-four more, to be exact?”

“It’s like having a kid,” she says nonchalantly. “No one likes being pregnant. No one likes [childbirth], but you like [kids] when they’re 18 and out of your house. And then they’re here to save you later.”

The word “tattoo” comes from the Tahitian word “ta-tu,” meaning to write or mark, which is what Indigenous communities in the Pacific Islands had been doing for generations before European colonization. For Indigenous peoples, tattoos served more than an aesthetic purpose. They were protective talismans, or even permanent, corporeal genealogies, each one marking an individual’s social status and lineage. Eighteenth-century Europeans, however, found these exquisite markings of animals, patterns, and nature to be primitive—albeit fascinating—oddities.

Colonizers captured tattooed men and women to display at world’s fairs, placing them in “human zoos” where other Europeans could gawk at the savagery of the lesser known, un-Christian parts of the world. Sandwiched between exhibits boasting the latest models of steam engines, or other novel tools of industrialization, these human zoos completed stadial theories of evolution. The tattoo was understood as a feature of the “uncivilized Other,” whose body was made purely for public consumption, asserting the superiority of the Western world.

The public perception of tattooing in the West changed with the invention of the tattoo machine, which made tattooing less time-consuming and more accessible. Around the same time, Western powers set up formal military outposts in the Pacific, placing male soldiers in Asia. Many returned home with dragons, geishas, military insignia, flags, or even “MOM ,” or a fiancé’s name written in an obnoxiously red heart. The practice grew in popularity and spread among veterans, working class men, the Chicano movement, biker gangs, and queer subcultures. Suddenly, tattoos had new, subversive meanings: they were marks of survival, resilience, pride, and resistance against a world that marked you as Other.

When I first discovered the queer tattooing scene, I was surprised by the number of queer artists, especially artists

of color, who were committed to unsettling tattooing stereotypes. Like Sam, they weren’t interested in abiding by overly masculine, Orientalist, or conspicuously white and Western tattoo traditions. Their designs were thin and detailed, inspired by Gothic design, traditional Korean and Chinese artwork, queer subcultures—anything counterhegemonic. They wore their tattoos proudly. When I turned 21 and started visiting queer bars and clubs in New York City, I noticed, alongside mullets and ripped tops, arms and legs covered in monochromatic and colorful designs.

At the same time, I began delving into feminist and queer theory, taking in ideas that celebrated body modification as a subversive act. I began to understand my body as a site for my politics, and a site where difference is made apparent and celebrated. Perhaps this is what I wanted when I got my first tattoo, then another, and another: to destroy and incinerate my straight body, to coax out a new visibly and conspicuously queer body—the one I had hidden for so long by growing out my hair, painting my nails, throwing up, starving myself, wearing bodycon dresses, and sleeping with men. I, too, hoped that tattoos would save me. As I walked out of the studio last August and passed my hand over the fresh wound of my new tattoo, I traced the two fishes, wanting to feel like a phoenix breathing in its first breath of air.

In her senior year of college, Sam realized she was developing feelings for her roommate. It was something she had never really experienced before. “Great times, like Stockholm syndrome,” she concedes, rolling her eyes. “I just liked them because I was around them so goddamn much.” She finally decided it was time to come out, though she had known for a long time that she wasn’t attracted to men. In high school, she avoided dating anyone. While her friends talked about their school crushes, she shuddered at the thought of kissing a boy.

I empathize with many moments in Sam’s coming out journey. There was the ambivalence toward most men who hit on her, the general lack of interest in presenting as overly feminine, and the one very intense female “friendship” in high school that had turned out to be a blatantly obvious crush, followed by a similarly intense friendship breakup. “I mean, I showed up to this girl’s doorstep

on Valentine’s Day with frickin’ flowers and a teddy bear,” Sam says, cringing.

Sam passed as a straight woman for most of her life. She grew up in a community and went to a university where she was one of few queer women. She wore her hair long, donned shapeless, unremarkable clothes, and tried to look the least Sam as possible. She was even voted prom queen, an irony she acknowledges with a chuckle. It wasn’t until she opened Broken Crystal that she started to meet and make queer friends. She started presenting as a hundred-footer, with collared shirts, a whiff of short hair, and arms full of tattoos. She started dating a woman—Sara, her girlfriend of over four years—and buzzed away her hair.

Perhaps this is what I wanted when I got my first tattoo, then another, and another: to destroy andincinerate my straight body, to coax out a new visibly and conspicuously queer body—the one I had hidden for so long by growing out my hair, painting my nails, throwing up, starving myself, wearing bodycon dresses, and sleeping with men.

When I ask her if she noticed people treating her differently after she came out, she tells me about an encounter she had with a Christian proselytizer when she worked at Walmart a few years ago. The proselytizer had noticed Sam’s colorful half-sleeves and remarked that tattoos are not “what God wants.” Enraged, Sam told the woman that she had a pair of demon wings inked on her back—and she was going to tattoo her face next.

“I’m going to Hell for a lot worse than my tattoos,” Sam laughs. “I’m gonna go down for being frickin’ gay.”

On one of my visits to Sam, I noticed that she has a tattoo of two overlapping cards on her left arm.

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This Tattoo is Permanent

The first card read: “ THIS TATTOO IS PERMANENT. ” The second, “ THIS BODY IS TEMPORARY. ”

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“This? Oh, I just thought it was funny,” she started, then paused for a moment. “But my whole thing is: if you want it, you want it. If you want a tattoo just because it looks cool, go for it. It’s a memory. Obviously there are some stupid tattoos, but people do stupid things every day. I mean, I’m driving a Jeep every day.” She gestured wildly to said vehicle in the parking lot. “Them shits flip.”

“People are obsessed with making their tattoos perfect because it stays on your body forever, and then I have to explain to them that their bodies are not perfect to begin with. But that’s okay— it’s good to have your tattoos a little bit crooked, because our bodies are a little bit crooked. There’s something comforting to me about that permanence.”

F or my last visit to Broken Crystal, I decide that I want a new tattoo. I don’t think much about it as I wait in front of the studio on a bright, crisp November morning. I’m just feeling a cool flower at the moment, or something of the sort. My mind jumps to the flower that shares a name with the first woman I dated.

Sam pulls up in her olive green Jeep. She steps out of the car with Sara, her girlfriend, whom Sam wants me to meet.

The three of us spend the morning chatting in the shop as Sam tattoos me. Sam first cleans the sensitive inside part of my forearm, placed on an armrest, with her usual tenderness and care, and the light from the curtains casts flashes of color on our skin. As the needle hits my skin, Sam and Sara talk about some of their nightmarish roommates—including a woman who let her giant pet rabbits shit all over their house—and it almost makes me forget about the dull pain in my arm. It feels nice to not be in reporter mode, to just listen and laugh.

“I think that’s done,” Sam finally says. She dabs Vaseline, wipes it gently with a paper towel to reveal the finished piece. “Do you like it?”

I look down at the detailed, refined stem, the petals curling so realistically— as if scorched, briefly, by sunlight. I do. ∎

Theseus’ Ship

And they call this the Theseus’ ship paradox: The great hero returned triumphant And left his ship in some Athenian harbor, A floating reminder of his victory Until it began to rot.

If I replace the broken parts with new ones, Is it still Theseus’ ship?

How much is something allowed to change Before it becomes something else? The floorboards fell apart and Now there’s fresh ones where they lay. The oars were switched out, The figurehead repainted— I have a new favorite song.

And I like black beans now, And I draw eyes differently than I used to, And I’ve set fire to my bridges And built new ones where they stood. Bits of my personality wear away, The gaps are filled in by someone else— How long until I’m no longer recognizable?

If my future self is a stranger to me, If I can no longer stand where I once stood And see what I once saw, If I’m not who I once was Am I still Theseus’ ship?

Or some other vessel now, One that should be familiar but isn’t, A lingering sense of deja vu? If you replace every part of something Will they call it a paradox? Or will they just call it growth? And does it matter? Whether this is the ship Or just a ship? It floats, after all, And it’s mine.

42 January 2023 TheNewJournal
Eileen Huang is a senior in Timothy Dwight College.
illustration by charlotte rica This Tattoo is Permanent

Queerness as Art. Queerness as Love. Queerness as Life. On my good friend, Reese Jacobs.

Mulberry sighs. Dry gold brush. Mothers like Gods. Barefoot in the buffalograss. Love, soft and tender.

My favorite photo Reese has taken of me is the one posted to his Instagram in between fragmented shots of his body. I’m applying my favorite red lipstick, staring into a silver hand mirror in the warm lighting of my old freshman dorm in Welch Hall. He’s captioned it, “this is my body broken for you, or whatever.” When I ask him about it, he gleefully tells me it’s a reference to the Bible, when Jesus offers his body as the wine and bread of communion. Corinthians 11:24: Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you. “Oh my God,” Reese exclaims, “that goes so hard. I wish I thought of that!”

I don’t think that it was intentional for Reetse to place me in the midst of his broken body, but I love to think of myself there. Once, I wrote to my friend Jabez that in his eyes I was broken and remade into the image of a new God. To me, this is what it means to have queer friends. Or more like, this is what it is to recognize yourself in someone. Here is my body, broken for you. In between the fragments of our bodies and Gods lie our hearts and the art that comes from them.

As queers, we are reimagining it all—and in these bodies, we find something holy.

I was not raised religious. I spent the last summer wandering throughout Italy, learning about saints and their golden sins. In every Catholic church, there was the bloodied body of Christ hung for all to see, his weeping mother posited even higher. I carried bad luck with me all that summer and wondered if the tombs of the priests I had so carelessly walked over could sense my irreverence. Even worse was my treatment of the Sistine Chapel. You’re not supposed to take pictures, but I did anyways. All those glorious man-bodies, bulging with cheek and muscle. I wondered if I was going to Hell. I posted them to my Instagram and wrote, I love queer people. I hope you all live long, beautiful lives. I hope the journey is abundant and kind. I hope you find your people. I hope it’s everything you wanted and more.

All this to say that I am painting a new kind of citizenship here. I am reimagining God in the image of an erotic, homosexual, and queer personhood. I hope you will forgive my irreverence.

This is not to say that Reese is a god. Reese is queer. Reese is Jewish. Reese is from Texas. Reese loves Houston. We share a love for gold jewelry. He loves his mother and his older sister, Georgia. I can say all of these things, but it is hard to impart what I really think embodies Reese, the parts of him that aren’t so easy to compartmentalize. A smooth, low-hanging voice. Slim-fingered hands he throws up in the air like someone’s exasperated Southern grandmother, half prayer and half surrender. And then there’s what could only be his: a kind of shining generosity, one that can’t help but spill over his fingertips and into the art he makes.

The photographer’s gaze is often a site of transaction; to desire a certain shot, to capture a moment and steal its private passing, can be a selfish or twisted act. But Reese’s warmth is inescapable in his shots—every subject is given something precious, a certain beauty we can witness only through his gaze. He tells me that striving to capture that warmth in his subjects “was always the sentence I was trying to write. That I couldn’t find

43 TheNewJournal January 2023
layout design by kevin chen
Series of photo-prose on queerness and single-motherhood in the American South, Reese Jacobs, 2021.

the words for. I feel like I finally found my stride with capturing this feeling of softness and warmth and romanticism that I associate with my home and the people that I love and the people that make me feel safe.”

There are dozens of his photographs that come to mind when he says this— his sister haloed in golden light and peering through a shredded window screen, a Mona Lisa-esque smile on her face. The regal grace of his mother as she sits astride her horse, the gentle blue backdrop of a Texan twilight behind her. That first photo from my freshman dorm, and the sureness I felt in his gaze behind me as he witnessed and captured a moment I felt beautiful.

He continues. “A lot of my photography has shifted to those moments of feeling good. If you go back and read my essays, in any piece of art that I produce, I have this fascination with this very somatic feeling of warmth, of wetness. I think it’s a sensation that makes me feel safe. That essay about Houston starts out with ‘thick, fleshy one-ness.’ That’s the closest thing I’ve come to describing it.”

I think of an interview I once read with poet Ocean Vuong, where he wrote: Is it possible for queer joy—outsider-hood—to be so mundane that, in that simplicity, it’s radical? To insist that this joy does not have to end in tragedy, in death, in loss? We can just simply sit at a table and be okay for the next five minutes. I think of the photos Reese captures of his loved ones—wherein we are well and whole. We are fragmented and united. Our untethered, rehumanized beauty is radical. We have all the warmth of a home.

On this Reese and I agree: queerness is a mode, an ethic. Brimming with sexuality, but also a descriptor for the ways in which queer, erotic autonomy defies the goals of the nation-state. His art is a production of this philosophy, of desire manifested and realized. As the

soft, pink light of our common room shines over his pale hands, he says to me: “Photography is about aesthetics. What you see, what you envision. I’ve always been attracted to, obviously, men. But that used to be something so shameful and painful for me. I think art started as a way to navigate those feelings . . . the fact that I was attracted to these men, these male bodies and male forms, became a source of inspiration . . . It was about reclaiming the things I’ve always

love. These are the manifestations of our very human desire.

Queerness is a lifeforce, a freedom. Desire is a long-held wish. And pride is still protest. We are still freeing ourselves, still forging the world in which our desires are no longer paid for in blood.

If I could write my own version of a Corinthians-like prayer, it would begin like this: here lies the flesh, the body, the reckoning of its blood and warmth. We are not Jesus Christ’s bloodied body hanging from the church walls, but his still-living desire. I will not invoke the familiar sins. I am tired of blood; I’ve grown weary of sacrifice. I am realizing that not everything is a loss. I am holding the peace with me, reveling in the sound of a heartbeat both warm and wild; I am realizing that my heart was looking for friends like Reese for a long, long time. We should all be so lucky to have queer friends. Queer people should make the good art and embrace their friends and be radically happy, merrily and religiously and relentlessly.

Singer Phoebe Bridgers said, I wanted to see the world through your eyes until it happened. But my friend, I want to see the world through your eyes if only to see the beauty you render it. I want the world to see what I see, too.

wanted to take pictures of. I’ve always wanted to look at men.”

Now I am offering you my own remembrance. I remember being a queer child and growing up feeling part-predator. I wonder how it left its mark— thinking I was half-human. I craved love. I still do. Love, full and whole. I was always really good at that. I give it to other people fast and easy, just the way I like it. I love the ritual of it. I love the act of honoring, of desire and its release; I love the moment of yes, yes I will do this, I will do it again and again and again until I am filthy with it. These are the echoes of a childhood spent seeking

I sometimes think that in fifty years, when our bones have dried up, I’ll crawl into that good place and find a field of golden hay, a slim-fingered hand waiting to guide us to its center. There will be a big round table, oak and sturdy, and we won’t remember things like the open wound of our queerness or who we used to be. I’ll feel a touch on my shoulder and turn to see the face of my old friend, and feel for a second what it used to be like in the warmth of his gaze. We will talk with our companions and laugh for hours. There are no gods. Not really. Not here.

45 TheNewJournal January 2023
Lana Perice is a sophomore in Trumbull College. Queerness as Art. Queerness as Love. Queerness as Life. On my good friend, Reese Jacobs. Reese Jacobs / The New Journal

Lucretia’s Corner

Nearly four hundred years after the earliest known enslaved African was brought to New Haven, a local researcher has found a small way to remember her.

46 TheNewJournal
Critical Angle
photographS by johnny phan

Afr I cans were among new haven ’ s f I rst settlers , the archival papers read. They say that she was “the first African of which there is any record,” that her name was Lucretia. 1638 is the year that she arrived, where she lived in Governor Theophilus Eaton’s estate and tended to twenty-one fireplaces and over thirty residents, raising up Elihu Yale himself. In a ninety-one-page paper titled “The Hist orical Status of the Negro on Connecticut” by William C. Fowler, it is said that Lucretia died happy and content and married to her husband John Cram, and grew old on two acres of land parceled out from Eaton’s property.

If you search online for Lucretia and manage to find her, each result will repeat the words of Fowler’s work when describing her. Whether it be the “Records of the Colony and Plantation of New Haven, from 1638 to 1649” or an 1899 article in Connecticut Magazine titled “Negro Slavery in Connecticut,” Lucretia and her husband are always parceled out no more than a single mention, the subject of a sentence. The sentences all amount to something like this: They were people enslaved to Governor Theophilus Eaton who “grew old and stubborn and eventually died happy and content on their allotted two acres of ground.”

Twice more Lucretia can be found online, once in a 1646 court transcript and another time in “The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, from August, 1689 to May, 1706.” The latter collection lends context that Eaton had given Lucretia and John Cram the two acres of land because they were growing “old and troublesome.” In the former, Lucretia isn’t described on a broad scale, but in her actions. Mentioned once in the transcript, she is presented as a witness against Thomas Hogg, an enslaved resident of the Eaton estate accused of bestiality and theft. Each time Lucretia is found, it is only in conjunction with another name.

Dr. Ann E. Garrett Robinson, a writer, researcher, and former professor of psychology at Gateway Community College, says that she just “kind of stumbled upon Lucretia.” While conducting research in 1997 for a new museum on schooling for

African American children in the Prince Hall Masonic Temple, she came across the historical papers that read that Africans were among New Haven’s first settlers. Lucretia, the papers claimed, was “the first African of which there is any record” in New Haven.

“Her name seemed to echo on that page,” Dr. Robinson said, after a long pause. In the twenty-five years since she first read the name Lucretia, Dr. Robinson—now 89 years old—has been searching to complete more of her story.

“Throughout my whole life I’ve looked toward opening doors,” she told me. “Having attended an all-Black school as a child and throughout my high school career, I’ve always had to. Had to be the first, couldn’t wait on nobody.” Had to be, she declared over the phone, as if in a single moment these stories, part of her larger history, could slip between her fingers.

She has devoted much of her life to championing and reconstructing the lives of those who came before her. In 1982, her dissertation research on Booker T. Washington’s three wives was cited in Ebony Magazine. The article attributes her with “playing a major role in focusing public attention on the forgotten wives of Washington.” In all of her work, she reaches back into the past, cultivating counternarratives for the lives that were reduced to single lines within historical records. These stories, entangled with her own, beat out a steady drum: “We cannot be forgotten,” Dr. Robinson insists.

In an attempt to bring Lucretia back into the public memory, Dr. Robinson has spoken out about the importance of public representations of Lucretia’s name. “We need to name a building in her name, we need to name a school in her name ” Dr. Robinson declared back in an April 2022 radio interview on Dateline New Haven.

Steve Winter—Dr. Robinson’s friend and then-alderman for Ward 21—worked with her to try to honor Lucretia. Together, they drafted a petition to have the corner renamed. The petition required at least 250 signatures for approval, two-thirds of which had to come from the neighborhood surrounding the petitioning area. The neighborhood expands into the greater part of Downtown New Haven and includes most Yale students.

Winter and Dr. Robinson found the bulk of their supporters by knocking on doors in the McQueeney Towers on Orange Street, a public housing development for senior and disabled residents. After quickly collecting the required 250 signatures, the pair took the issue to the

47 TheNewJournal January 2023
layout design by kevin chen
Left page: The corner of Orange and Elm Street. This page, top to bottom: The document which started it all, courtesy of the African American Historical Society; Lucretia’s name is found again in a compilation of public records, courtesy of “The Historical Status of the Negro in Connecticut,” by William Chauncey Fowler; Dr. Ann E. Garett Robinson, courtesy the New Haven Register.
The healthy whole body cryotherapy that everyone is talking about! C O M E A N D T R Y I T O U T @ M A C T I V I T Y www.mactivity.com/free-pass 285 Nicoll Street, New Haven, CT 06511 (203) - 936 - 9446 Lucretia’s Corner “ROSA STOP HATE” and “SLOW DOWN” are the only other signage you’ll find at corner of Orange and Elm. Johnny Phan / The New Journal

New Haven Board of Alders. The vote that took place on November 10th, 2022, was swift and unanimous: the corner of Orange and Elm was declared to be Lucretia’s Corner. For Winter and Dr. Robinson, the ease of this process reaffirmed the ability of the public to elevate past lives and stories. Lucretia’s life, Winter noted, “was long overdue” for remembrance.

In the days after the vote, Winter and Dr. Robinson celebrated the naming of Lucretia’s Corner, the same location where Lucretia worked on Governor Eaton’s three thousand-acre, thirty-person estate four hundred years ago. “[Corner naming] is a great tradition because it acknowledges that the public has control over the public space and what stories are told in the public space,” Winter said.

When Dr. Robinson stumbled upon Lucretia’s name nearly twenty-five years ago, she had no idea who Lucretia was and sought to put a face to the name, to answer the lingering question of Who is she? As she continued to search throughout the archives across New Haven and the larger part of Connecticut, Dr. Robinson came to draw up only fragments of Lucretia’s life, compiling only a short stack of documents that failed to reveal who Lucretia was.

There’s very little on Lucretia beyond her name, the touchstone to Lucretia’s life which first prompted Dr. Robinson’s search. She blames part of this absence on the great fire of 1666, the remnants of which caused Eaton to rebuild his estate from wood to brick and stone. Dr. Robinson questions what couldn’t have been replaced—that perhaps lost to the fire were irretrievable hints to who Lucretia was.

“Lucretia’s case is interesting because she is one of the few named enslaved people,” Dr. Robinson told me. “Names weren’t common, especially when you were thought of as property.” Yet even in her name there is uncertainty—we don’t know if Lucretia really was her name, whether it was a title she was born with or one that she was consigned to bear. Perhaps it was just something that Eaton tacked on when she arrived to the Americas. As I raised these doubts to Dr. Robinson, she looked at me and could only nod her head in agreement.

“It’s like a puzzle,” Dr. Robinson says. “You have to piece together what you’ve heard, what the literature tells you.” It seems that in between the gaps of the

pieces is silence, and in the silence is where you will find Lucretia.

The city has decided it is Lucretia’s Corner now, the corner of Orange and Elm. Perhaps this gesture is meant to signal her final ownership of the two acres that Eaton once allotted her. But then again, you wouldn’t know that this is her corner. There still is no plaque commemorating her place. Instead, you will find the words “ROSA STOP HATE ” scratched into a concrete wall. Just above it, a torn poster peeling away from its tape: Slow Down. Breathe, the poster echoes—stop and think, appreciate the life that has been placed before you, remember her life. But we do not know exactly what that life entailed.

Can it ever be Lucretia’s corner? She is not here—not physically at least—to claim ownership over it, and a corner is not enough to undo the violence that she faced and the erasure that subsequently left her absent from history. A name is practically all that is left, and that too is riddled with doubt. During our conversation, Dr. Robinson says, “We don’t know where in Africa Lucretia was born. We don’t know where she’s buried.” A corner doesn’t tell us these things.

I don’t think the corner is enough, but I don’t think the corner was ever meant to be the solution. It’s an act that brings Lucretia, slowly, into the public memory of current-day New Haven, rather than leaving her to be forgotten, spared just a few words in the archives.

“The corner naming is something that I hope can bring together so many people from various walks of life,” Dr. Robinson tells me at the end of our conversation. “At the corner of Orange and Elm you have the government buildings, the rich and powerful, and even housing projects all in the same ward; that ward is a place that represents the Green, the public library, and, in a small space, all of New Haven.”

We don’t know what her real name is—we can’t ever know. Yet what we do know is this: four hundred years ago she once existed, and four hundred years later she continues to live. To remember her is to reignite that flame, to believe in her life beyond our grasp—that we don’t need to see her nor find her to believe that she lived. So it isn’t much, but it is something, a piece that brings remembrance. This is her corner. ∎

49 TheNewJournal January 2023
Lucretia’s Corner
Johnny Phan is a sophomore in Morse College.
In all of her work, she reaches back into the past, cultivating counternarratives for the lives that were reduced to single lines within historical records. These stories, entangled with her own, beat out a steady drum: “We cannot be forgotten,” Dr. Robinson insists.

This collection is inspired by the poem “금강 굴” / “Diamond Cave” by Ko Un. The poem, translated by Sunny Jung, goes:

What a relief

you cannot live everywhere all at once. Today, here in Diamond Cave, there’s no longer any reason to live. Stay one or two days: this world & the Other are drained of difference. Wind blows.

As a pearl is born at seabottom in agony out of oyster flesh from within the most obscure darkness here the wind blows from the depths. I want to travel far & then return. The wind blows as if I were eighty-five, maybe eighty-seven.

50 TheNewJournal

The Diamond Cave is at once dislocated and omnipresent—both current and timeless. The location is, for each reader, “Today, here.” At first blush, Ko’s take on the present is nihilistic as he writes that life is devoid of meaning and difference. However, in the second stanza, change stirs. Wind blows and a pearl tears from the womb. As Ko earlier equated difference with meaning, we see that these infinitesimal motions create purpose within “the most obscure darkness.” In Korean, the word “굴,” which Jung translates as “Cave” in the title, also means oyster. Thus, Ko likens the imperceptible seabottom affairs of the oyster to our “Today, here.” He suggests that even within the most obscure darknesses of our individual Diamond Caves, pearls may yet be born.

Here, I sought to capture pearls beads of luminescence in various Diamond Caves through which I’ve passed.

51 January 2023
essay and photos by rachel shin

Endnote

Piano Man

In the School of Music, piano technician William Harold has been attending the 130 Steinways for the last twenty-four years.

52
TheNewJournal
illustration by Etai Smotrich-Barr

My first impression upon meeting William Harold is that he has absolutely destroyed the piano in front of him. He’s trustworthy, of course, because he is a piano technician, but at the current moment the Steinway grand that he sits in front of looks genuinely wrecked. He’s taken it apart in ways I didn’t realize a piano could be taken apart. The keys, for example, and the entire action (the mechanism which translates a press of a key into a hammer strike) have been slid forward, out of the piano frame, and onto his lap.

Harold has been Yale School of Music’s resident piano technician since 1997, which means that he is responsible for maintaining the 130 Steinways (high-quality pianos built by Steinway & Sons) on the University’s property. He tries to stay invisible, but perhaps you’ve still heard him making his rounds between 8:30 and 5:00 every weekday, traveling between concert halls, practice rooms, and studios on campus. Each session takes him about an hour and a half, which means he tunes around four or five pianos every single day. Harold’s job requires more than simply tuning each piano, though. As I interrupt his session in Woolsey Hall, he’s adjusting what’s called a “backcheck”, a small block that catches the hammer so that it doesn’t bounce too far away from the string, allowing a pianist to repeat a note very quickly.

Harold grew up not far from New Haven in the town of Guilford, Connecticut, and studied physics at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts for two years. He had no formal piano training before college, but he started teaching himself to play on a friend’s keyboard, “to distract myself from all the physics.” At first, he taught himself by ear, improvising blues and jazz-inspired tunes, which he wordlessly describes by turning to the piano in front of him. “At Hampshire, my sound was all—” he improvises for a few minutes, leaning deep into the keys to churn out bluesy licks and progressions, reminiscing on the soulful sounds that first drew him to the instrument.

“Physics and music—you’re learning all about wave forms, and about how sound waves interact with each other . . . that was the perfect thing to be studying to do this because in the end,

this is a mechanical acoustical phenomenon,” he explains. After graduating from Hampshire with degrees in both Physics and Music, he began working at the Sohmer Piano Factory in Ivoryton, Connecticut, much to his parents’ chagrin (“You go to college to get out of the factory!”). Forty years later, he’s still in love with his craft. He employs his physics degree as he describes the tuning pro-

He pounds the key as he tunes, moving his hand with the sound waves being produced by the two strings. He’s revealed something I wouldn’t have picked up on before—a beat within the sound, a wavering that lines up with the pulsing motion he’s making with his hand.

the inner mechanism of the instrument is still largely a mystery to me, so Harold invites me to peer into the piano with him as he launches into a patient demonstration of his process. Using the wrench, he starts to turn a tuning pin––a small knob that, when twisted, tightens or loosens a string in the piano, raising or lowering the pitch it produces. Each note is produced by three separate strings that are hit simultaneously by one hammer, so he must make sure that they’re all completely in tune with each other, and in equal temperament with the rest of the piano. He pounds the key as he tunes, moving his hand with the sound waves being produced by the two strings. He’s revealed something I wouldn’t have picked up on before—a beat within the sound, a wavering that lines up with the pulsing motion he’s making with his hand. He has a finely honed ability to hear that discordance, when the sound waves are “out of cycle,” as well as a tuner app on his phone, and he uses both to wiggle the tuning pin into its rightful place. After a few adjustments, the note rings out clearly.

cess, explaining, “If you have two notes that are in perfect tune, then the crest and the troughs and wavelengths are all coherent. The waves are the exact same frequency and each crest is matching up with each crest.”

Harold bends down to sift through his bag of tools, reaching for an oddly shaped wrench and two small rubber wedges. Although I myself am a pianist,

“Sometimes, over the years, just like anything else you do forever, there are some days where I’m just like, ‘what am I doing? I’m tuning a piano—what’s

53 TheNewJournal January 2023
layout by Etai Smotrich-Barr, photographs by lukas flippo William Harold in the Yale School of Music.

a piano?’” Harold admits to brief moments of existential crisis about a job where he is “just tightening and loosening strings all day,” but immediately thereafter he adds, with a hint of disbelief at his own good fortune, that “I’ve been doing this for a long time, and it’s still cool to me, isn’t that weird? I was lucky, you know?”

Harold has a riveting disposition. You can tell that he doesn’t often get the chance to talk about himself, and now that he has someone’s full attention, he barrels forward and answers questions without even needing to be asked. In a drawling voice, he speeds through physics-heavy explanations, graciously checking for comprehension every few minutes.

“You got that?” he asks, making eye contact.

“Uh-huh,” I say, nodding along, “and how––”

I don’t get my question in, but it’s O.K., because he’s started talking about something far more interesting.

“The ultimate goal is to make myself as invisible as I can, and the best way to do that is to do my job.” He tunes pianos before rehearsals and performances, long before anyone else has arrived. He tries to finish fifteen minutes before he’s supposed to, as it makes everyone nervous to see him doing last-minute touchups on the piano. Today, we’re sitting at the Steinway that lives in Woolsey Hall, Yale’s largest and most opulent recital hall, in preparation for a concert in the afternoon. This is already the third time this week that he’s tuned this specific piano, which seems both tedious and excessive, but he insists it is important for the success of tonight’s performance.

Join us!

“Well, you know, if something [goes] wrong I can always blame you, right?” he chuckles.

“Sure,” I offer. I’m definitely distracting him.

“No. I can’t. I can’t blame anybody, it’s my responsibility to get this thing done. I can’t blame anybody else,” he says with finality.

While he defends that it’s his responsibility to make sure the piano is in working order, he admits that he used

had just spent two days perfecting everything within it. It was flawless.

“I see what the problem is, but I need a half an hour,” he told them. When the pianist returned from a walk twenty-five minutes later, Harold was pretending to finish up by twisting a tiny screw in the action (which he had simply rotated back and forth a few times). He set the piano up exactly the way it was half an hour earlier. The pianist re-attempted their piece, and Harold received a rousing round of thank yous for whatever miracle he had performed.

In this way and in countless others, Harold has been the unsung hero of hundreds of concerts held at Yale over the past twenty-five years. He’s set to retire at the end of this year, and he has a surprising plan for his well-earned free time.

“I’ve been taking [piano] lessons,” he says, “and I practice two or three hours a day when I come home, so I’ll have something to do.”

to be tempted to make excuses for flaws in tuning jobs, likening this to inexperienced musicians who are quick to blame their instrument for flaws in their performance. He won’t give me any names, but he recounts a story of an accomplished pianist who was rehearsing in Woolsey Hall a few years back and complained about the piano action. Harold took a look inside the piano, even though he

He closes our interview by playing a full piece on the freshly-tuned piano, one he’s been working on with his piano teacher that’s been giving him a little bit of trouble. It’s a tango by Alberto Ginastera, and it sounds lovely. It’s not nearly the most difficult piece that’s been played on this stage, but William Harold plays with a remarkable amount of sensitivity. He’s spent the past forty years getting to know this instrument, inside and out, and now he’s finally getting a chance to play. ∎

Gilgamesh to Enkidu

The New Journal, founded in 1967, is a student-run magazine that publishes investigative journalism and creative nonfiction about Yale and New Haven. We produce five issues a year that include both long-form and short features, profiles, essays, reviews, poetry, and art. Email us at thenewjournal@gmail.com to join our writers’ panlist and get updates on future ways to get involved.

We’re always excited to welcome new writers to our community. You can check out past issues of The New Journal at our website www.thenewjournalatyale.com

We are becoming human together Washing dishes in the morning

Pulling spoons from the disposal

You move in your sleep so much it startles me Temple to Temple

We are slow to rise Wildly, You say, It takes so long to become a person

54 January 2023 TheNewJournal
Piano Man
Cora Hagens is a junior in Grace Hopper College.
illustration by charlotte rica
In this way and in countless others, Harold has been the unsung hero of hundreds of concerts held at Yale over the past twenty-four years.

Animal Crossing

38 Model Hadid

41 Implement simulated by an ergometer

43 Time-intensive part of the college application process

47 Then, take a trip to the hospital to . . .

51 Sheridan of “Ready Player One”

52 Periods in office

53 One who might investigate your return

55 Last, travel to the clubhouse to

58 “Just 5 more minutes”

59 Bathtime mix-in

62 Ancient etching

63 Garlicky sauce

64 One said to have fiddled through a fire

65 Teeny

66 Feature of a prideful male?

26 Next, go to the ice cream parlor to

29 Rolls-___

31 “I see a mouse!”

32 Having a crush on

33 Word in many shoppe names

36 ___ Dog, Andy’s nickname on “The Office”

67 Pull out, as a gun or a card DOWN

1 Place to cleanse your sole?

2 It usually defeats a king or queen

3 Like frequent Kleenex consumers

4 “Adios!”

ANSWER TO PREVIOUS (NOVEMBER) PUZZLE

5 Beer testing the theory “any press is good press”

6 Parents’ admonishment when dropping their child off for a playdate

7 Butter used in many lotions

8 Partner of His

9 Images developing before your eyes

10 Talked

The New Journal was founded in 1967, under the following mission statement: “This university has once again reached that stage in history when people are talking about the New Yale, presumably to be distinguished from the Old Yale, which in its own day was presumably considered new. Wishing to share in this modernity, we have chosen The New Journal as the name for our publication. Besides, things seemed slow around here.” Today, The New Journal is published five times during the academic year by The New Journal at Yale, Inc. Two thousand five hundred copies of each issue are distributed free to members of the Yale and New Haven community. The New Journal is printed by TCI Press, Seekonk, Massachusetts; bookkeeping and billing services are provided by Colman Bookkeeping of New Haven. Office Address: P.O. Box 3311, New Haven, CT 06515. While this magazine is published by Yale College students, Yale University is not responsible for its contents. All contents Copyright ©2022 by The New Journal at Yale, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction either in whole or in part without written permission of the publisher and editors in chief is prohibited. Recycle Icon from Flaticon.com.
PLAY MORE TNJ CROSSWORDS ON OUR WEBSITE! thenewjournalatyale.com /about/crossword/ PLEASE RECYCLE THIS MAGAZINE
center
a
mitzvah
Heart condition,
When la luna shines
Elects (to)
One commuting like *that*, say 18 Controversial “Space Jam” character
There’s been a breakout at the zoo, and it’s your job to find the animals!
head to the casino to get 21 Italian violin virtuoso Niccolò
“___ friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out” — Walter Winchell 25 Rave genre
ACROSS 1 Visitor’s
giveaways 5 Envelope contents at
b’nai
9 H.S. Junior’s exam 13
post-breakup 14
15
16
19
First,
23
about
“If not more”
Wand-waving org.
Polite refusal to a male supervisor
BIC competitor
War zone for Forrest Gump, briefly
Word connecting a distance and a time, say
Hullabaloo
Star of “The Great Gatsby,” to fans 27 Doll that often comes shirtless 28 Lead-in to an alter ego 30 Make a mint, or what a mint makes 34 ___-wop 35 It might pop at high altitudes 37 Makes “it” again? 38 Prime Meridian std. 39 Gives the cold shoulder 40 People waiting around in Paris? 42 Ruins, as a parade 44 Like Big Ben or Mean Joe Greene 45 Novelist Rand
Seminoles sch.
New Orleans cuisine
“Me too,” formally
Thyroid or liver, e.g. 56 Group striving for the same goal
Capital of Samoa
___ Lanka
Lead-in to “la-la”
Miss piggy?
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17
20
21
22
24
46 So far 48
49
50
54
57
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The New Journal January 2023 55 TheNewJournal January 2023 thenewjournalatyale.com
Puzzle by Jesse Goodman
©

Join us for a celebration of The New Journal.

To celebrate the New Journal’s newest honor—named America’s “Best Student Magazine” this past June by the Society of Professional Journalists—all are invited to a series of panels discussing strategies for creating the best journalism, in any publication and anywhere: the campus, the nation, and the world. New Journal grads speaking in person at these panels will be here from The Atlantic, Bloomberg, CBS, Economist, Foreign Affairs, Harper’s, Mississippi Today, New York Times, New Yorker, NPR, Paris Review, Pro Publica, Report for America, Science, Victoria Advocate, Washington Post, and more.

This event will be hosted in the Branford College Common Room (74 High Street), and it is free and open to the public. Info at www.thenewjournalatyale.com/events/.

• Sophie Haigney, Paris Review Web Editor, The Drift Contributing Editor, Freelance to nyt & New Yorker and more

Politico Magazine Contributing Editor and more

• Charlotte Howard, Economist Executive Editor and New York Bureau Chief

• Eli Kintisch, Science Writer

• Anya Kamenetz , Education writer including years at NPR

• Dan Kurtz-Phelan, Foreign Affairs Editor-in-Chief

• Sarah Laskow, Atlantic Science Editor

• Tina Kelley, Education Reporter, NJ.com via NYT

• Ray Lipstein, New Yorker Web Producer

• Ben Mueller , NYT Reporter

• Amelia Nierenberg, NYT Reporter

• Meghan O’rourke , The Yale Review

• Julia Preston, Marshall Project after NYT

• Adriane Quinlan, Curbed Writer, after CNN, Vice, and more

• Mark Rosenberg, Victoria Advocate (TX) Reporter

• Annie Rosenthal , Public radio reporter in Texas

• Elena Saavedra-buckley, Harper’s Associate Editor, The Drift Editor

• Arya Sundaram, WNYC Radio & Gothamist

• Aliyya Swaby, ProPublica Reporter in Texas

• John Swansburg, Atlantic Editor

• Ike Swetlitz , Bloomberg Biotech-Health Reporter

• Isabelle Taft, Mississippi Today

Reporter Christopher Whipple , Author after ABC News Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer winner for The Prize and TNJ Founder Jada Yuan, Washington Post Reporter

Some Committed or Likely Attendees: Maya Averbuch, Bloomberg Mexico reporter • Neela Banerjee, NPR Supervising Climate Editor • Spencer Bokat-lindell , NYT Opinion Editor • Richard Bradley, Worth Editor • Andy Court, CBS 60 Minutes Producer • Susan Dominus, NYT Magazine Staff Writer • Romy Drucker , Walton Family Foundation, Director of K-12 Education Program Eliza Fawcett, NYT Reporter Jacque Feldman, Freelance to New Yorker, Nation, and Paris Review Haley Cohen gilliland, YJI, Economist, National Geographic Paul Goldberger , Architecture Criticism, Pulitzer at NYT David Greenberg, Professor at Rutgers,
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