Page 1

February 2010

Winter Festival 2010 – page 4

Look me in the eye. How do you face

peers in the hallway? – page 8


-page 2

Come to your senses!

Student Committee hosts


Admissions Office



Break-in news:

Computers stolen from

Oh, no, it’s mono:

Check out our inside look at an annoying virus – page 9

The Urban School of San Francisco

Volume 11, Issue 3


Ar e h t f o t r a e H

Tali Benattar (‘10) installs beehives made from various collage materials for the Winter Art Show. photo by Isabel Moore

ol at this o h c S n a b r U e h T it is V rough time of year, walk th nces are a h c d n a s, y a w ll a h r ou some you’ll stumble across ania: a relic of senior ar t m perhesu a f o so r to d e iz -s ll fu , jars g in il e c e th m o fr s g n ro ha e ar t th n o n e st li g y e n o h of ives h e e b s, e lv e sh ss la g room’s ing. il e c y a w ll a h a m o fr hang u may o y , ss la c to g in y r r u H ... pause to take a look

Urban students take their art to the walls for the Winter Annual Art Show.

see ARTSHOW page 5



February 2010

The Urban Legend


A quick look at what's happening in our community

Proposed sit-lie rule hits the Haight Madeleine May and Jenna Waldman

Staff writers

Haiti Relief

Immediately after the devastating magnitude 7.0 earthquake in Haiti on Jan. 12, Urban jumped into action by planning a variety of fundraisers. Community Outreach organized two bake sales. The proceeds of the first bake sale went to Partners in Health and the donations of the second went to Doctors Without Borders. Also, the donations raised by the Valentine’s Day candygrams were given to Partners in Health. Urban raised a total of $920 from the three fundraisers. Great job, Urban! To get involved, check these websites: Partners in Health: http://www. Doctors Without Borders: http://www.doctorswithoutborders. org/ - Emily Wen

Life on Haight street Don Tanksley, a longtime resident of the Haight, walks to Golden Gate Park. Tanksley, who struggles with homelessness, might have to change how he spends his days if a new sit-lie ordinance is passed. Resident complaints have sparked political interest in a more aggressive homeless policy photo by Sonja Bartlett

We walk by them every day. We pointedly avoid their gazes when they ask us to spare some change. Occasionally, we give them our leftover food. For Urban students, the homeless population of the Haight is an integral part of the high school experience. Some find the neighborhood’s homeless population is an irritation. Others believe these people are a necessary part of the Haight experience. The issue of homelessness took on new force recently when Police Chief George Gascón proposed a sit-lie ordinance for the neighborhood. Such policies, which operate in cities such as Portland, Ore. and Palo Alto, give police more authority to move homeless off streets during business hours. According to Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi,in an interview with the Legend, “it would ... provide the police the discretion of assigning the law as an infraction or a misdemeanor. If it’s a misdemeanor, you are going to jail.”

see HOMELESS page 10

Thieves break into Urban, steal three computers Sabrina Werby

Staff writer

Unidentified thieves made a surprise visit to Urban on Feb. 17, breaking a window on the ground level of the school and stealing one desktop computer, one computer monitor, and one Mac mini-computer. Greg Monfils, 9th and 10th grade dean, entered school Wednesday morning to find a broken window and a missing monitor screen in the ground floor office belonging to Bobby Ramos, director of admissions. Monfils proceeded to the lobby, only to find Receptionist Andrea Scally’s computer missing as well, along with the Mac mini-computer connected to the public desktop computer. Monfils called Susan Munn,

director of finance and operations, at 7:30 a.m. Munn then called the police and filed a report. Monfils described himself as “quizzical” about the break in, saying that he does not see “how anyone could get through the window” in Ramos’ office. The window is approximately 12’’ feet by 19.4 feet. According to Munn, the thieves entered the school by throwing a brick from a nearby planter through Ramos’s ground floor office window. She added that police think the thieves “must have been working in a team, because one crawled through the window and let the other in through the front door.” The thieves may have taken computers, but they left evidence behind. Munn said the police found “good fingerprints, and

there were drops of blood on the cords that connected to Andrea’s computer.” As a result of the break-in, students, teachers, parents, and administrators alike are questioning Urban’s security. Although the school has an alarm system, which is connected to an outside security system, Munn says that when an investigator arrived, “he could not see the broken window because it was behind a bush, so he reset the alarm and left.” Charlotte Worsley, assistant head for student life, says that the break-in is a reminder that safety at Urban is a community concern. “Our school is everyone’s school, and we all have to work together to report suspicious behavior and keep it safe,” Worsley said.

Scene of the crime Bobby Ramos’s office window after the breakin. Police took several fingerprints along with blood samples. photo by Sonja Bartlett

Urban’s Month of Understanding dwells on home Emily Wen

Staff writer

What does “home” really mean to Urban students? On Jan. 15, Urban held its annual Month of Understanding assembly. The theme was Urban students’ ideas of home. The yearly assembly celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and raises awareness about multicultural issues. The assembly included student responses to a survey about the subject of home. The survey included both visual and written responses. The MultiCulti Team received about 122 photos, 100 of which were used in the final slideshow. The MultiCulti Team, which planned the assembly as well as other cultural events, decided to examine the theme of “home” so as not to exclude any particular

Home IN a jar A painting by Caroline Yopes shows her idea of home photo by Sonja Bartlett

group of people. Ken Garcia-Gonzales, Dean of Multicultural Life, said that the theme was developed by both student and faculty members of the MultiCulti Student and Co-Curricular Diversity Committees. “We purposely tried to choose a universal theme so that all students could engage in the thematic questions and exploration,” he said. Sophie Lieberman, who represents the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) on the MultiCulti Team, believes that the assembly was fulfilling.“We did what we needed to do: Share our peers’ responses,” she said.

Larissa Parson, English teacher, found the theme of “home” resonated with her. “I’ve had a number of different homes over many years,” she said, “so I have given a fair amount of thought to what makes a place feel like home.” Parson added however that “(some students) seemed to think the idea was silly, or that it wasn’t appropriate for school.” Mei Li Isaacson (’11) had mixed feelings about the assembly. “At first, I didn’t think people were paying attention, because they were laughing at what was being projected,” she said. “But now I think that people laughing just proves that people were attentive. It’s just not exactly the reaction I wanted.” Garcia-Gonzales was not surprised with the assembly’s mixed reviews. “With every assembly, you

hope that what you present and develops resonates with the entire school community,” he said. “Obviously, you can’t please everyone, but that is not the objective. The objective is to generate dialogue and create space to have conversations that we may not otherwise have.” For the future, the MultiCulti Team is planning more events to continue the dialogue between students and teachers. Team members are reviewing student responses to the assembly so that they can make future assemblies more intriguing. The team also is in the process of creating new affinity clubs and scheduling guest speakers. Editor’s Note: Emily Wen is a member of the MultiCulti Team, which is made up of 14 students in all four grades.

Green Planet

February 2010


The Urban Legend

The first thing to know is, each person reading this is a fish. Noah Schlager Staff writer

 The human race descends from fish that left the water, mutated over a few hundred million years, and developed a serious superiority complex along the way. I get ticked off when people say things like, “fish aren’t important” or “it’s just a stupid fish.” That’s like saying, “I’m not important” or “I’m just a stupid fish.” Both revised statements are probably much more truthful than the originals. Fish are important, and we need to start treating them with the respect they deserve. Fish are important and just plain cool. Many fish are keystone species, which entire ecosystems rely on. Remove fish like parrotfish, sharks, and damselfish from their respective ecosystem, and the whole thing falls apart. Fish possess incredible adaptations, from the wings of flying fish to electric rays' ability to shock. Beyond being eaten (they are an important source of protein for many people), fish benefit people in cool and bizarre ways. Watching fish can calm people down, and some fish are used in s p a s to remove dead skin off people’s feet. I’d go for a fish pedicure. I love all fish, but the one really after my heart is the shark. I have spent the last two years diving and filming sharks, and nothing I’ve ever done can compare to

this. I have developed a deep reverence for sharks, from whale sharks to mako sharks, and I am working on a film to educate people on the true nature of sharks. Unfortunately, the mainstream media has been anything but kind (or truthful) when it comes to sharks. They are portrayed as evil eating machines. On the contrary, people are eating sharks to extinction. Because of horrific practices like shark finning and general overfishing, many shark species have declined by more than 90 percent, according to a study published in the scientific journal, Nature. To make matters worse, high mercury levels in sharks can cause numerous health issues, including birth defects and even sterility in men. All of this applies to the popular shark fin soup, which involves slicing off the shark’s fins and throwing him or her back into the ocean to die. Somali pirates made a splash last year, and this violence all comes down to fish. According to Time Magazine, most of the pirates were fisherman, but industrial-fishing boats, mostly from Europe, came into Somalian waters and dumped toxic waste from their countries and took away tons of fish. This collapsed fish populations. With no fish, and families to support, many of these people became the pirates that make the news. We may think of illegal fishing as a petty crime, but illegal harvesting and transportation

of animals, including fish, is behind only drugs and guns in the world’s top black market trades. Interestingly, the rise of piracy in Somalia has driven out the foreign fishing boats, and subsequently fish stocks appear to have improved tremendously. This year, fishermen in Somalia and surrounding countries are catching much more than before, and the main factor seems to be the retreat of the industrialized foreign fishing boats. The oceans are suffering from relentless exploitation. A study published in Science has warned that most of the world’s seafood will be gone by 2048. This is depressing, but we often underestimate the power we have. It is our demand for fish and other stuff that makes this exploitation profitable. We can’t afford to become slaves to luxuries and petty materialism, most certainly not at the grave expense of life. I believe that we can turn the tides if we support sustainable fisheries, avoid eating threatened fish like sharks, use less polluting energy, and implement other steps to ease our impact on the oceans. I do believe it is possible. But maybe I’m wrong; after all, I’m just a fish. For more information, check out: http://www.montereybayaquari seafoodwatch.aspx National-Wildlife/Animals/Archives/2008/ The-Most-Important-Fish-in-the-Sea.aspx

Illustrations of endangered fish by Noah Schlager. Clockwise: bluefin tuna, Australian lungfish, damsel fish, mahi mahi, yellowfin tuna


Sharp Park's future up in the air Noah Schalger

Staff writer

A dozen miles away from Urban lies Sharp Park Golf Course. The Pacifica public golf course, owned by the city of San Francisco, might seem to be a typical golf course. For conservationists and endangered species, however, it is an opportunity. The San Francisco garter snake is a gorgeous red and-blue-snake, endemic to the San Francisco peninsula. This local treasure is not well-known, and our incredible snake is just barely holding on to survival. Destruction of native habitat has put the snake onto the endangered species list. If it is to recover, we will have to bring back the habitat; this is where the golf course comes in.

Before development, the land was a home for the San Francisco garter snake, red-legged frog, and numerous other native animals and plants. It was a home for life. The course has since overpowered upland areas, and has adversely affected the native wetland habitat. It was poorly designed with little foresight, and now suffers from many design flaws, including flooding during the winter rains. According to Wild Equity Institute, between 2004 and 2008 the Sharp Park Golf Course cost the city of San Francisco between $30,000 and $300,000 each year. Even worse, water pumps threatened frog eggs, and at least one of the San Francisco garter snakes was butchered by a lawn mower. The externalities of keeping the course are ridiculous, especially with multiple other

Up in the air Sharp Park golf course is a source of conflict between golfers and environmentalists trying to restore habitat for endangered species

photo courtesy of

golf courses around San Francisco. Groups such as Wild Equity Institute and The Center for Biological Diversity are advocating for the city to hand the land over to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which would restore it for the snakes and other native inhabitants, as well as hikers, bikers, and all lovers of the outdoors. There are numerous other benefits of restoration as well, from protecting the inland of Pacifica from rising sea levels, to outdoor education opportunities for students. We really need to seize these kinds of opportunities if we are going to achieve a sustainable future. Still, many golfers and golf advocates are fighting to leave the park as a golf course. This has led to political debate and strife between golfers and conservationists. The city is currently still working out what it will do with Sharp Park. Its fate is going to be discussed in upcoming budget hearings in the coming months. Along with many other conservationists, I have issues with golf courses in general. They use a ton of pesticides, fertilizers, and way too much water. On the other hand, golf courses provide some useable habitat for birds and other adaptable animals. They get people outdoors, and are definitely a better option than urban development. Many people enjoy golf, and conservationists cannot afford to alienate them from the environmental cause. What bothers me the most is that while we are bickering about these issues, all sorts of lives are being hurt. see JUMP page 10


Cody Leff ('11) worked at the SF Conservatory of Flowers last fall Sara Brooks and Sarah Maccabee Staff writers

Project has always been a core part of the Urban curriculum. Students are asked to pick an organization that corresponds with a personal interest, to volunteer at for the duration of one trimester. The goal of project, according to Urban's website, is to “help Urban students become responsible, resourceful citizens, often achieving a level of social and political awareness that is rare among teenagers.” Urban Junior Cody Leff worked at the Conservatory of Flowers from September to November. He shared his experience with us. The Conservatory of Flowers' mission is to cultivate, conserve, interpret and exhibit a tropical collection of flowers and plants that will educate people about these specimens and their importance to our planet while providing an outstanding visitor experience. 1. Did you work on a specific project? I basically worked on whatever Mario (the nursery specialist) wanted me to do, usually watering or cleaning, though I did do some transplanting and repotting, and worked on a moss sculpture for the train exhibit. 2. What was your typical day? (Mario) would give me some job, like cutting the spines off of spiny bromeliads. I would first water all the outside plants, then I would do the job he gave me. It was fun! If I came on days when I didn't have school I could stay for lunch, (which) was lots of fun, and the food was really good. 3. Do you plan on continuing your relationship with the Conservatory? Probably not for next project - though I loved it there, I think project is a great way to do all kinds of things, so I'll probably want to do something new. 4. What did you learn there? I did learn a few things like how to transplant plants, how to clean algae from every pane of a giant glass greenhouse and how to correctly water plants, and Mario showed me a bunch of really awesome plants and flowers, which I'm not sure how to classify as learning but it was definitely an enriching experience. 5. Fondest memory: There was a cacao plant in the main conservatory, but it wasn't making fruit so (Mario) took me into the back nursery and showed me one that was making fruit, and it was so cool and amazing! The orange fruit just hung from the wood of the tree, it was really neat. Something I couldn't have seen by just visiting... More information at photo by Sonja Bartlett



February 2010

The Urban Legend

Juniors Take Flight

Who: Griffin Snyder

IN A TRANCE Students are put to sleep by a guest hypnotist during all-school assembly

photo by Isabel Moore

EXPLORING THE CITY Sophomores, juniors and seniors take a tour of Alcatraz for their Winterfest activity

photo by Sarah Atkinson

Winterfest gets mixed reaction Some critique change in leadership, while others praise Student Committee efforts

Winterfest, the annual one-day festival of fun and alternative learning that took place on Feb. 1, received mixed reviews this time around. One of Urban’s most distinctive traditions, Winterfest has gone through several incarnations over the years, from a presentation on gender given by a hermaphrodite; to “post-modern workout rooms,” where leg warmers, chocolate, and spangles abounded; to this year’s hypnosis assembly. Some of the changes have caused discontent among students. Lena Seagrave (’10), a member of Peer Resource, recounts with disappointment the switch in leadership from Peer Resource to Student Committee in 2008. “When a group with the goal of emotionally connecting the community is running something,” Seagrave explained, “it's gonna be different then when it's run by a group that organizes the social events. Though Winterfest was never a super-serious thing,

I place it in the realm of school- Resource leader Kaern Kreyling sponsored events that encouraged described her intentions in making a community engagement (which) this change. Winterfest, she said, used to be part of a larger tradition I miss.” Charlotte Worsley, assistant of spontaneous camping trips and head for student life, gave us a diversity events, “which I think complete timeline of Winterfest’s happened more often in the past history. “The tradition of having an at Urban, when there were…more all-school day in the winter started alternative curricul(a).” “ I back in 1994 when we stopped think, in the last decade, it’s come having the Alldown to doSonja Bartlett School Trip,” ing these speand Hannah Gorman she said. cial days.” Staff writers Winterfest Kreychanged leadling explained ership for the first time “in the late that as the presence of alternative 1990s, (when) some students and I curriculum decreased, Winterfest talked about the idea of spreading “became known as a fun day, our work on diversity and inclu- which …insulted me, to a point. I sion across the school year instead didn’t really want to be in charge of focusing it on one day.” of a fun day… I wanted to do At this point, Winterfest became something that had a kind of seripart of Peer Resource’s annual ous curriculum underneath.” calendar. “They did it for four or Worsley agrees that the intenfive years and then Kaern and I tions of Winterfest have morphed. decided it was time for a change,” “Student Committee has been said Worsley. running the Winterfest with the School Counselor and Peer goal being to provide a day in the

The question: does Whole Foods belong on Haight?

of the Cala Foods market, which “has been empty for years. Now that whole end of Haight is just disgusting.” Clermont realizes that though the Whole Foods “might change

winter for silly fun and school celebration,” she says. Despite the change in focus and leadership, Winterfest remains a favorite Urban event. Chris Harvey, (’12) was very enthusiastic about his activity at the zoo, where he “saw bears slaughter a helpless fish ... it was a wonderful sight.” Student Committee President Jackson Goldberg (’10) thought “everyone had a lot of fun, so it was a success. "Honestly, the people who don't want to come don't have to," said Goldberg. "But it really was a grand old time this year, and I think the majority of the school is really into it.” While some are in favor of the day, other students were disappointed. Nicki Greenberg ('13), who visited a kindergarten classroom, appreciated a break from school. She admittedly "thought it was gonna be more fun."

see WINTER page 9

Program: CITYterm Where: New York City Tuition: $22,210. One-half of Urban tuition applies and students pay remainder. (Financial aid is available.) What it is: CITYterm brings together 30 intellectually adventuresome juniors and seniors together in a closely knit community to explore, wonder, watch, and learn on the streets of New York City. Length: 16 weeks Griffin's opinion: "For one, this may have been an expedition of self-exploration. We (the royal 'we') embarked across the rocky waters of my soul, to find that, as Aldous Huxley states, 'bondage is the life of personality, and for bondage the personal self will fight with tireless resourcefulness and the most stubborn cunning."

Filling the whole on Haight Street Hannah Gorman Staff writer

The great clash is coming, Urban: Hippies against Yuppies, skateboards against minivans, homeless against homemakers. Four blocks west from Urban, at Haight and Stanyan, a Whole Foods supermarket is preparing to invade. But according to Ken Hines, Whole Foods Vice President of Development for Northern California, the Haight-Ashbury Whole Foods isn’t trying to invade, or even attract customers from outside the Haight. At an open meeting in the basement of the Park Branch Library on Page Street on Jan. 14, Hines explained that the new Whole Foods will be “a community store.” Hines assured the Haight-Ashbury Community Council that Whole Foods is “not looking to draw people from all over the city into the market.” Medina Clermont (’10) agrees that this could be a good thing for the neighborhood. “My family shops at Whole Foods all the time,” she said. Furthermore, she noted that the new market will take the place

Whole Foods Facts -Founded in 1980

-51,100 employees worldwide -More than 280 stores in North America and the U.K. -As of May 2009, 68 leases for new stores signed -Tenth largest food and drug store in the U.S. -Number 369 on the FORTUNE 500 list -$8.0 billion in sales (2008) (From Whole Foods Market Press Room at

the culture of Haight, (making it) like hippie-dippie or hipster … it’s important not to have empty spaces like that.” Dawn, (who declined to give her last name), a Haight street resident who lives right next door

to the soon-to-be-construction site, isn’t sure that the Whole Foods is a good idea. She explained her reservations while shopping at the Haight Street Market, a grocery store on Haight between Ashbury and Clayton, which opened in 1981. “How is (the Whole Foods) gonna affect this store? It sounds like a good idea, but you gotta think about how it affects those around them, the mom and pop stores around here.” But she admitted that she wouldn’t mind a “real grocery store” in the neighborhood, since the Haight Street Market doesn’t sell meat. “You know, not everyone’s a vegetarian in San Francisco,” she laughed. Clarke Weatherspoon, Urban history teacher, said that the economic health of the Haight Street Market is his chief concern as well. "As a store, I like Whole Foods, I shop there often. But I’m a dedicated patron of the Haight Street Market and so because of that, I will not be shopping at the Whole Foods (in the Haight),” he said, adding, “I think they have a lot of loyal customers who won’t go to Whole Foods.” Georgia Vardockastanis, co-

owner of the Haight Street Market, isn’t worried about competing with Whole Foods, and she won’t be changing her prices. “We’ll keep doing what we’ve been doing all these years,” Vardockastanis said. “It’s been a success. That’s all we can do, right?” In case Urban lunchers are wondering, the “Urban discount” that is offered by many local stores isn’t in the cards. According to Hines, Whole Foods policy is “no specific discounts.” Construction on the new supermarket is projected to begin in May, with opening day projected for sometime in December, though Joey Cain, President of the HaightAshbury Neighborhood Council, believes that “December is wishful thinking.”

ASSASSIN THE GAME: Everyone is given a target to assassinate. You assassinate your target by being alone with them. Once you have assassinated your target, you take on their target. The game continues until that last assassin has killed the last target. PRESENTED BY: Student Committee Be on the lookout starting spring term.

Who: Sari Lesem and Celia Robertson Program: Oxbow Where: Napa, California Tuition: $19,800. One-half of Urban tuition applies, students pay remainder. What it is: “(Oxbow is) an innovative, interdisciplinary, semester program combining visual arts with academics.” Length: 16 weeks What Celia has to say: "Oxbow is a place where they pack you full of fresh organic food, give you access to huge studios filled with light and materials and good company, and command you to do what you love to do. "There is no place quite like it. It sounds corny, but it completely changed the way i think, and I left knowing way more about myself, what is important to me, and where I'm headed." photos by Isabel Moore



February 2010

The Urban Legend

Cassiel Chadwick Staff writer


OscurA lighieri wrote, cultures leapt from his pen. His style carved the

WedhsetnateD,aanntde hAis subject immortanliezCedomtheedyn, iDneancircles of hell.

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It’s a really brute way to pigeon ng. whil ng in a Dan little co ns of the to t the game “insulting… -hole tha e th lar (the book).” d a h e t r h y l l a g o u n t t c i a u e a i ere, ger t v o a m s h h e l t e w e beca ) eop u he use i rld, t ask q encio (’11ut not many p s Dante Club adviser, noted that, “fundamen o t t a g’ w bu x As w… b ’ l s n l i y , d i r a t e ’ s o ti n c … u r t s s o e m a m d e e n l v m i i o o v o s l e s i n n ’ a d ce… some am ca M ople kn na, Lick-W to sell…. If there special eogame, a e effects nd (i t pe e Villaca t the game a o w d i o t t h g D , t n i a h n t t o e s t . n ” h s h ) a h t Ren . wan f e o r d n e i k ’ s goin it…. It , we see Dante confront progressively more obs ers.. g to c e o play duc erus in Gluttony, to the visually exaggeraet ne denizen be nce t out the gam b r e e C i pro d e d s m e h o t u a r r n c d o o i u r s o l e . g u o p f e p r l a f e u t i r a c ostitu hell. an Throorribly mt attempt to in ught the book just as vulgar a t e s s s o o w f Lu society ths EA revels in them. Not only this e think the ga he h its be st, m m t ade edieval ,b ea Fro has mme say ms of man, wherings: What is moral? What is evil? Whyudt he considere now. Ye e A o e Jason Cinti b n e o t d i s n s a m E S the m why did EA choose to so warp h an succ the de Dant e as hu ed ch character, urn we fac such a ri orence during a civil war – he was a politicia is person? umb to espest e Staff writer l mo stions nte being w n,” noted in? F as in Jonath que Daeal Dante d i r e e v c i t t o a r e dove into the realm r f o c a r d D n a n a n r e “R roduc e.” One EA press release said thte’s Inferno. utive p e crusad “We or of fire, gore, and w e for a new generation , exgeca little bit m t h ieri, but adapteedrat g h i thin .” Thisr was “insanted g i l n A darkness: Starting i e o n ? n e g r u K me l Dant b o t u e o g b a s the qpired so he rea oes that say nte Alighieri himself think o Dante’s Inferno on the ues f EA’s hel a d t D t d l a y u o h l? Wh b n: w what w d ice? Why does his story Xbox 360, Even the menu tio And through fire ans, with lamentations and still brood at ouat exact alk e “sigh star… e’en (Dante) loud moans, / r core? ly bar kindled fear in me. wept at ent his w bo, wher y no ering. VResound was In Lime air pierced b Images dripping in blood, ariou ed h t h g s u ts n o e f c a c n a g / e , r , e voices deep a o punctuated by sharp choutcries oftw thro o n d … r fo e t v a e h r t w s t, l h u i rl e m s u / R u a o p u g u n e d d n a t h ral wails — the first rough to arse… M II, lines 21-29). the ho (Inferno, CantosIader swings his scythe, and playe breaths of hell came u r r s t C ” a p e r h i a t st h u T s . s g a t r p e e e e d h w s i A t r i e f i e l e h s g i ar li r with a chill and foreDante A ame, we “descend tot,tan age burn ts and screams aflnt trols, he blind s a boding sense. At that conok, and, ligh (Inferno, Ca o IV, line 12). worl d” bo moment, I saw the horror

Going To Hell I

through Dante’s eyes...

Continued At

Photo illustration by Cassiel Chadwick Top left: “Dante’s Inferno,” courtesy of Electronic Arts. Bottom right: Canto 1: Dante astray in the Dusky Wood, by Gustave Doré (Pantheon Book: 1948)

Urban Art Show connects, excites and inspires Zoe Pleasure

Staff writer


he Urban Winter Art Show, on Feb. 11, featured the work of 21 seniors, including media such as sculpture, painting, drawing, jewelry making and filmmaking. The show is an annual tradition, allowing only seniors to display and present their work to the rest of the Urban community. The art show consisted of browsing time around the school to look at art and to talk to the artists, refreshments and a presentation with all the artists explaining their thinking and processes behind their art. Senior artists are enrolled in the Advanced Visual Art Seminar. The class consists of an independent project. The purpose of the class is to create a body of work and a specific art process for their lives outside of Urban. Kate Randall, one of Urban’s art teachers and art department head, says that the seniors who participated are “a tightly knit group, [and give] a lot of mutual support.” One of the benefits of being in the class are the many peer critiques, which help all of the students determine what they could be improving in their work. Randall also said that there was “no particular theme,” but the show is “all seniors who have taken a number of art classes” during their time at Urban. The students each pick their own subject

matter, and it varies widely. The different subjects included brains, comic books, hands, and beehives. Evan Tomlinson Weintraub (’10) constructed a sculpture of himself as he says in his artist statement, “frozen in outer space or floating in the deepest part of the ocean.” This sculpture was made out of paper mache and formed to his body. He hung the piece in the alcove next to the Independence room. The figure is suspended by string and small bells hang around it. spoke about how the most important part of the class was the process of making the art. This was a common remark from many of the artists that participated. Unlike the other artists, Martin Lindsey (’10) used the computer to create his work, including vectors, which are shapes in reference to one another, to create faces and shapes. He decided to create images of his friends, which produced colorful portraits with intriguing backgrounds. He said in his artist statement, “I want to characterize these people because they intrigue and fascinate me.” Another distinct medium that was explored in the show was jewelry making. Dmitri Staszewski (’10) chose to produce jewelry because he enjoys making pieces during the summer and the art show was an excuse to go to his father’s jewelry studio to do what he enjoys. Through the class, he spent more time with his father, who was in the jewelry-making business, and also gained experience constructing

jewelry. As he wrote in his artist statement, “all of the pieces come from the structural beauty found in nature.” The Art Show is not only an event that incorporates the visual art classes. There were multiple seniors who were influenced by Urban classes. Becca Atkinson (’10) cited her Neurobiology course as an inspiration for her brainrelated pieces. Caroline Yopes (’10) and Renee Donovan (’10) also both attributed inspiration to LeRoy Votto’s Colonial History class. The Art Show not only

helps Urban artists connect their art to what they study, but also create lasting memories of their work. Yopes wrote about this in her artist statement about her jars of honey that she has preserved her memories in. “I have used this winter art show as a way of showing my own documentation, whether that be from taking pictures, drawing, or collecting objects. Each allows me to return to these memories whenever I wish.”

Getting ready Lena Seagrave (‘10) puts up collages in preparation for the show.

photo by Isabel Moore



February 2010



The Royal Tenenbaums

Touchstone Pictures, Gene Hackman, Ben Stiller With every Wes Anderson movie I watch, his precious way of tying loose ends together appeals to me a little less. But with The Royal Tenenbaums, Anderson struck gold, bringing to his cutesy, just-so filmmaking some genuine emotional substance. Endearing quirks become a little scary, amplify to the point of madness, take on elements of tragedy. The Royal Tenenbaums is genius.

“Gravity Rides Everything”

Modest Mouse, The Moon and Antartica, Epic Records The Moon and Antarctica wasn’t the best album released in 2000. Its 2004 re-release wasn’t the best album of 2004. In album-length doses, Isaac Brock’s voice makes me feel like dying, and not in a slow, Kurt Vonnegut-chain-smoking-Pall Malls kind of way. But his anthemic “gotta see, gotta know right now” marks a perfect start for a new decade, violently unique and completely inimitable in its tone and timbre. The distorted dozen guitar tracks layered on at the start are the product of an imagination run wild; the last “it all will fall, fall right into place” is an augury.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay: A Novel

Michael Chabon, Random House Michael Chabon is special, and no two ways about it. Sometimes his writing is tear-jerkingly poetic (“A Yiddish Pale Fire”); sometimes it’s vast, epic, fantastic yet overwrought (Summerland); sometimes it’s just obnoxious (Werewolves in their Youth). But this novel’s tale of the American Dream and the superhero industry – one and the same – won its 2001 Pulitzer for good reason. In terms of craft, story, character and, structure, it might be matched, but not surpassed;: the year Kavalier & Clay came out, I also read Catcher in the Rye for the first time. I liked Kavalier and Clay better. I still do.


Marjane Satrapi, Pantheon Books Persepolis deserves two mentions on this list — one for the fourpart graphic novel which was first published in English two decades after the girlhood and the revolution it retells, and another for the delightful and unconventional animated feature made from it several years later. More than anything, the book is simple; clean lines, compelling authenticity and honesty, and an unadornedly confessional style make every page sing out.

*** District 9

TriStar Pictures, Neill Blomkamp, writer/director, Peter Jackson, producer, Sharlto Copley District 9 has has the three essential components for cinematic success: aliens, fiery explosions, and gripping allegorical undertones underlining the devastating social impact of apartheid on present-day South African society. (Invictus only had one of these things, which is why it wasn’t as good.) To some extent, District 9 really is the socalled “smart blockbuster” it was typed as — fun and gripping, but with a message. There’s superb depth here, though, not just in that there’s a message but in the relatively low-budget yet visually and thematically convincing integration of aliens into our world, in the cinéma-vérité Handicam shots, in the improvised dialogue. Neill Blomkamp, its director, is one to watch.


Sony Pictures Classics, Duncan Jones, director Sam Rockwell Moon has no aliens. Nothing bursts into flames. It’s not even set in South Africa. But it’s set on the moon. From the posters to the trailers to its indie-darling s t a r Sam Rockwell, Moon is militantly weird. Its clearest inspiration is Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, another creepy, atmospheric movie about strange things happening to a lonely guy in space. But Moon really isn’t comparable to most science fiction; it had me at the space clones. Now that Obama is cutting NASA’s space exploration budget, space clones may be our only hope. Escapist fantasy is a necessity in these economically trying times.

Middle Cyclone

Neko Case, ANTII wasn’t surprised at all when no 2009 album topped Neko Case’s Middle Cyclone. It holds up not only to the best music that year but the best music this decade – still, little surprise, if you’ve heard it. This album of pop-sensible, rock-tinged alt-country music is gorgeous from the opener, “People Got a Lotta Nerve,” to “Marais la Nuit,” the one-half hour of recorded night-time swamp noise that closes it out. As the crickets chirp and the frogs croak and the noise gently fades into nothingness, it’s easy to interpret it as a gentle close to the decade’s artistic achievements.


Sea Change

Is This It

The Storkes, RCA Records If The Royal Tenenbaums is a work of bright-eyed artistic whimsy, the Strokes’ Is This It is the product of machine-like, calculated brilliance: eight hours of band practice every day from 1998 to 2001, bringing to garage rock the kind of expertise usually reserved for string quartets. Julian Casablancas would write and arrange a track only if its melody stuck in his head; he exerted complete creative control over his band, and waited for success to come to him rather than chasing it down. It came. Every track on this album is memorable. Some are phenomenal.

Beck, Geffen Records The year 2002 was a great one for sad people. Bec Sea Change took aural inspiration from Blood o the Tracks and Serge Gainsbourg’s Histoire de Melody Nelson, and sounds much like Blood on the Tracks’ desolate guitars would if Bob Dylan could sing and arrange for an orchestra. Its lush sound is often at odds with Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, but it is equally moving, honest, simple and direct in its writing. A real work of art.

Russian Ark

Alexander Sokurov, Wellspring Media This movie is one unbroken hour-and-a-half long that moves through a living museum of Russian tory. The entire movie is one minute Steadica shot. We travel in first person through the museum, curated by a Russian ghost, watching actors in period costume re-enact significant historievents. There is no plot in the traditional sen chronicles Russian history era by era, the scenes c

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Wilco, Nonesuch Records Wilco came into its own with 1999’s Summe and spiraling into a haze of drug abuse, Jeff bum nobody wanted to release. That album w less pop, so experimental as to be ethereal in viscerally experimental production speaks to wounded-sounding vocals are a perfect comp meates the record. Nonesuch Records, Wilco

A Decade in Art: Music, Lite

Movies, Televison, Records, Nonfictio

It’s been a long, hard decade: financial crises, terrorism, Facebook novels. What we all need now is closure. Emotionally, the Legend c therapists, we can definitely be tastemakers. This spread is our list wrap-up of what was good (or at least what we liked) this decade. available at our website,

Adam Resurrected 3L Filmverleith, directed by Paul Schrader, starring Jeff Goldblum, Derek Jacobi, Ayelet Zurer and William Dafoe, based on the novel by Yoram Kaniuk I can’t explain why no one has heard of this movie. The actors are A-list. The premise – a charismatic and haunted Holocaust survivor in 1960s Israel has the run of a mental hospital where he is ostensibly a patient – is captivating. But it was never in wide release. I saw it by mistake in a tiny theater in Chelsea where I had gone to see Burn After Reading – when I showed up late, Adam Resurrected was my only option. At the very least, with its first-rate acting, this is the finest of the many Israeli and handful of German movies I’ve seen. The cinematography, with its sweeping opening shots of the Negev Desert and dark, claustrophobic concentration-camp flashbacks, is some of the best from any country. Between that and the relentlessly bleak atmosphere, it is both the perfect arthouse film and the worst date movie ever.


John Adams

HBO, Tom Hooper, director, Paul Giamatti HBO produced this seven-part miniseries, an American answer to the uncountable BBC period dramas and Merchant Ivory films, which are on PBS every minute of every day. Paul Giamatti’s understated but forceful performance as the title character, along with its subtle but trenchant commentary on the death of classical statesmanship, won it a total of 13 Emmys – more than any other miniseries. Finally, someone recognizes quality.

Lady Gaga

The fame, the fame monster, the fame behemoth, etc. I know Lady Gaga is a person, and not, strictly speaking, art. But I’m convinced she’s the next Madonna, and I want to get that in writing so I can prove I said it first when everyone else is saying it in a few years. And her personality, taken as a whole, is definitely performance art; my mother thought her Golden Globes outfit was an homage to the Jetsons. As Madonna’s star fades – this was the decade she turned 50 – someone else is making catchy songs and capturing public attention. Conspicuous superficiality is alive and well.

Pers Marjane Satrapi, Vicen Mastroianna and Cath Sony Pictures Classics


to Follow the Bible as A.J. Jacobs, Simon & Sc

Harper Perennial, Joseph O’Neill This is a Great Work of fiction, destined for the canon in a few decades’ time. Netherland is cathartic in its exploration of New York City, post-September 11. Refreshing in its unadorned prose, it is anything but a happy book. It is an honest book about a sad time, rarely easy to read, but always stark and unforgiving in its observation. It is cold and sharp throughout, frustrated and intermittently frustrating, dry and wry and cynical and keeneyed and full of despair and the requisite ray of hope. It is one for the ages. It is New York’s primal scream, a cathartic attempt at re-alignment in a world spinning dizzyingly fast.


A second mention for Per and the film adaptation ar Wall-E was great. But the a and along came Persepolis

The Year of Living B

A.J. Jacobs, a staff write ery single biblical comm for its unabashed silline line with Deuteronomy pebbles. In Central Pa




ck’s on e

g shot n hisam s cal nse; rather, the film coming one by one to vividly enacted life.

The Urban Legend

Love Actually


Universal Pictures, Alan Rickman, Bill Nighy, Hugh Grant Every decade has one good romantic comedy. For the Sixties it was Charade; for the Eighties it was Gregory’s Girl, for the Nineties it was Titanic. It’s easy to make fun of the cutesy absurdity that is Love Actually. It’s also easy to watch Hugh Grant dance down a staircase to “Jump (For Your Love)” 65 times. I have done both these things and I have no regrets.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

Mark Haddon, Doubleday There is something incredibly compelling in the very structure of this book, in the chapters marked by prime numbers, in the wayward storytelling; it transcends children’s literature. The protagonist is completely relatable despite his quirks, despite his Asperger’s syndrome, despite his violently idiosyncratic approach to life – so much so that I questioned whether it was fiction. His story of a murdered dog, ultimately trivial, takes place inside a mind which is anything but.

erteeth. In 2002, after firing bandmates Tweedy and his band produced an alwas Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, less country, the way of a memory set to music. Its the band’s new approach; the sparse, plement the heartbroken spirit that pero’s label, quickly realized its mistake.

erature, Trends and Movies

on, Novels, Plays, and a Magazine

k stalking, skinny jeans, global warming, and Dan Brown can’t provide that – it’s only a newspaper. But if we can’t be t of notable artistic achievements from 2000 to 2009, a concise Full lists, including those of the Urban student body, are


The National, Beggars Banquet Records Even if you don’t think the National is one of the most musically rich acts of the last ten years, which they are, it’s hard to not step back and admire the fragile but insistent melodies of Boxer. Matt Berninger’s baritone, filtered through mighty doses of black coffee, bourbon and nicotine, tugs at the heartstrings through every single one of the melancholy anthems on this record. The tone is reflective, mournful, mature, with an eye to learning from loss; it moves seamlessly from personal introspection to muted political commentary. The Obama campaign, in fact, used two of its lead singles – primarily the sleeper hit “Fake Empire” – in various prominent spots during the lead-up to the 2008 election.

sepolis nt Paronnaud, writer and director; Chiara herine Deneuve, voices s

rsepolis – this time the movie – because the novel re two radically different works of art. Up was fine. animated feature film needed a breath of fresh air, s, like a nice Italian roast in a world of instant coffee.

Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest s Literally as Possible chuster

er for Esquire magazine, decided to obey evmandment for a year. If nothing else — if not ess — read this book for the scene where, in y 22:23, he tries to stone an adulterer. With ark. Jerry Falwell would have been proud.



—written by Daniel Moattar by Daniel Moattar, Neena Holzman, Noah Schlager, Anne Vetter —spread design by Allegra Gordon

2004 30 St Mary Axe, “The Gherkin”

Foster & Partners, Architects This is a six-hundred-foot London skyscraper which looks like a giant pickle. It is a miracle of architecture. If it was gaudier, it would resemble a Fabergé egg. Of all this decade’s significant buildings it is the most striking, so unusual it looks almost natural, unusual without being weird, without the overwrought artificiality of a building like Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. In 50 years’ time, amid dozens of new buildings, the Gherkin will look utterly at home.

Aha Shake Heartbreak

Kings of Leon, RCA Out with the Strokes and in with good old-fashioned rock and roll: If Is This It was a breath of fresh air, Aha Shake Heartbreak is a little more raw, a little wicked, not quite as artfully composed or arranged; where Is This It spent hours in the mirror getting impeccably disheveled, this record didn’t care enough to dress up but looks good anyway. It’s a fast, bright-eyed, bruised and cocksure album with just enough of a Southern touch to be excitingly different. The first half of this decade was the domain of the new garage rockers, and this is one of its milestones.

America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction

Warner Books, Jon Stewart, Ben Karlin, David Javerbaum “Declaration of Independence Myth #2: John Hancock signed the Declaration extra-large ‘so King George would be able to read it.’ False: John Hancock was in fact 23 feet tall, and merely signed in his usual fashion.” The best decision the Daily Show’s writers ever made was to write a mock civics textbook, sending up Supreme Court overreach, Congressional mishap and Presidential foolishness. “Have your students hold a mock election,” they advise. “Can’t stage a mock election? Just mock a real election.”

The History Boys

Alan Bennett, Lyttelton Theatre Alan Bennett wrote a stage play about growing up British, brilliant and confused about your future, your sexuality, your faith and your identity in the 1980s. The script is witty, often poignant, concise in some places and florid in others; he brings his students and teachers to life with real artistry. This was the best new stage play I’ve seen performed. The movie, made two years later, holds up well: the cinematography is never particularly inventive, but it feels like a simply staged and truthfully presented version of the original play.


Friday Night Lights

NBC, Peter Berg, Kyle Chandler, Connie Britten Friday Night Lights is essentially Dawson’s Creek, set in West Texas, with a focus on high-school football and its accompanying drama. It’s genius. The acting is the best on network television, and the writing among the sharpest. The show is only cliché and overwrought when being in high school is cliché and overwrought; yet its mixture of unironic excitement about high school sports and unselfconscious emotionality – which thankfully never descends into melodrama – haven’t brought it the recognition it deserves. But the show, now in its fourth season, with improvised scenes in every episode and enormous freedom for actors to revise dialogue, still makes for television as atypical and as unprepossessingly fun as it was in its first year.

Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait

Universal International, Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno, with music by Mogwai Zidane is a documentary about soccer star Zinedine Zidane, on one day, during one match, in real time, from 17 camera angles. Why does it work? Why is the cinematography perfect, the story clearly present and compelling even though it’s just a soccer match like any other? Because this movie is a biography, a phenomenally atypical one. It is a psychological profile, a life story in two hours, a portrait of a man who is soccer. I don’t care about soccer, but I love this movie. Zidane the man is a quiet enigma, brooding, a soccer machine. But he is far from peaceful: Toward the end of the 2005 match, as in the 2006 World Cup a year later, Zidane is sent off for fighting, and we see him fight as self-assuredly and unhesitatingly as he makes any other move on the field. The insight his actions, and this film, provide into the most basic parts of human nature are unshakable and chilling; this is a perfectly executed snapshot.



Sufjan Stevens, Asthmatic Kitty Like Wes Anderson, Sufjan Stevens spends a lot of time wrapped up in a wispy, ethereal fantasyland where everything is just really great all the time and it’s all so moving that he needs to cry. Also like Wes Anderson, Sufjan really hits the nail on the head sometimes. Illinois was one of those times – a concept album about the state of Illinois and its history and characters from Lincoln to John Wayne Gacy. When it came out, this album was lauded maybe a little more than it deserved, but maybe just as much as it should have been. After five years, it certainly stands up to more listening.

MAKE Magazine

O’Reilly Media MAKE is a second home on paper for every DIY-er, a magazine filling a gap – better late than never – in the lives of everyone who spends quality time with hammers and nails and powersaws. MAKE is for anyone who has ever wanted to make anything, ever, full of illustrated guided and step-by-step pictorials for how to make cigar-box guitars and baking soda bottle rockets.




February 2010



The Urban Legend is a vehicle of student freedom of expression and a public forum for The Urban School community. It is produced several times per year during the academic term by the journalism class. We also publish an online version of the Legend courtesy of the American Society of Newspaper Editors at myhighschooljournalism. org. We welcome feedback about our articles and we also encourage readers to contact us directly with tips or ideas concerning future coverage. The Legend publishes letters on topics of concern to the Urban community. Letters must be signed; requests for anonymity will be considered on a caseby-case basis. Letters may be sent electronically to urbanlegendstaff@gmail. com. Hard-copy letters may be sent to the Legend care of The Urban School. Guest opinion columns also may be submitted electronically or in hard copy. We reserve the right to edit for space and language. Signed articles or opinion pieces represent the views of the writer only, Unsigned editorials reflect a consensus opinion of the newspaper staff. Editors in Chief: Allegra Gordon (Design) Madeleine May (News) Editors: Managing Editor: Lizzie Logan Online/Multimedia: Daniel Moattar Opinions: Adrienne von Schulthess Features: Sarah Maccabee Art: Cassiel Chadwick Sports: Jason Cinti Green: Sara Brooks Photo: Isabel Moore Sonja Bartlett Folio Editor: Zoe Pleasure Staff Writers: Hannah Gorman Samantha Lucas Megan Madden Noah Schlager Anne Vetter Jenna Waldman Sabrina Werby Emily Wen Adviser: Beatrice Motamedi

The Urban School

Airport security means safety over privacy Adrienne Von Schulthess

Opinions Editor

Will everyone see me in my underwear? President Barack Obama and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) ordered new security measures after the Christmas Day attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to detonate explosives on a transAtlantic flight to Detroit. The money, “for explosives detection systems and checkpoint screening equipment," will now come at an increased pace, from the $1 billion provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. These changes were decided after Obama met with top security officials on Jan. 5 and concluded that, “when a suspected terrorist is able to board a plane with explosives … the system has failed in a potentially disastrous way. And it's my responsibility to find out why, and to correct that failure.” I completely agree. In the past I have been forced to get to the airport hours before my plane leaves and wait in endless security lines. I was willing to endure this ordeal because I believed it would ensure my and my family’s safety. With all of the cost, hassle and layers of security that passengers endure, the security should work. And it should work, not just most of the time, but all of the time. After the lapse in security, TSA imposed controversial and dramatic changes, which,"mandat(ed)

that every individual flying into the U.S … who holds a passport issued by or is traveling from or through nations that are state sponsors of terrorism or other countries of interest will be required to go through enhanced screening."

screening also includes an increase in use of body scanning technology. There are two types of scanners in use: The first is called Millimeter wave technology, and it works by beaming wave radio frequency energy on the body, which is then

Fourteen nations meet the criteria for enhanced screening: Afghanistan, Iran, Libya, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Algeria, Lebanon, Yemen, Cuba, Syria, and Sudan. This decision falsely assumes terrorists are only coming from specific countries. This mandated enhanced

beamed back to create a 3D picture. The other type is Backscatter technology, which creates a two-sided image with a low-level X-ray beam. While past concerns over privacy have hindered the expansion of the program, it is already used in 19 airports in the United States, including San Francisco Interna-

tional Airport (SFO). So, yes, when I go through one of these screenings, someone will see my underwear. But personally I would rather be scanned than have someone pat me down as I stand awkwardly with my arms out like a scarecrow. To try to help assuage fears for privacy, the image blurs the face and is viewed in a locked windowless room by an attendant who never meets the person being screened. In addition, the image cannot be saved or printed from the computer. But it no longer matters what I prefer because at this point I have lost the luxury of both security and privacy simultaneously. Terrorism continues to cost Americans more of our right to privacy. We have to make a choice between a minimal invasion of privacy from full-body scanning and possible death. Given these options, I choose the first. At SFO, enhanced screening was available before the Christmas bombing attempt. Michael C. McCarron, director of community affairs for SFO, said, “the airport does not anticipate any changes to or delays in passenger screening procedures. Frequent travelers may notice an increased presence of uniformed SFPD officers in the lobby areas, security checkpoints and in the gate areas.” This means that while you will not necessarily have to worry about new mandatory procedures, you will still, like I do, have to wait in the endless lines at SFO.

I agree with Laura Rothman (‘10) that, “at Urban it feels like you need to (make things less awkward). People at Urban really feel the need to act upon eye contact. I make eye contact, followed by a little tilt ... There's this (necessary) facade of awkward, an aesthetic awkward,” that is a part of the culture. “Walking around, there are different kinds of contact. It feels good when it's the right kind." The phenomenon has also been observed by Kaern Kreyling, school counselor, who says, “the hallway is a space to reconnect with (people) you're already confident in, or it's a treacherous space and there's nowhere you're confidentsometimes it can be intermittent. There are all kinds of journeys people have.” Our school is large enough that we do not have to know whether such-and-such has a low tolerance for coffee, but it's small enough to

encounter the same person in the halls approximately four times on a typical Thursday. The hallways can become a surreal haze: There you are, mystery kid, coming around the corner on the second floor. Quick! What do I do? Duncan Magidson (‘12) has an idea. “I just look 10º to my left. Not far enough to know that you’re looking in one direction, but far enough so that people don’t know ... they’re not going to see you looking at them and they’re not going to see you looking away.” Being surrounded in a web of people who I only know by eye; it is sometimes overwhelming to remember how little I know. There are times when the distance between us is not only forced, but unwanted. It is a stifling distance. We are polite, but we are also unwilling to give that nervous-looking freshman the smile he clearly deserves. We

are afraid to say hello, to make that simple effort to get to know someone, when it is acceptable to just pass them by. Our choices are powerful. "People retreat into themselves," Kreyling says. "A lot of people don't realize how they contribute to the problem ... it's hard to know how it's so ingrained, this kind of deadpan face. The more sites in the community where (hallway culture) is talked about, where these ways of practicing and being are made visible,” the better off we will be. “These are revolutionary actions,” she says. And I agree. Identifying our daily polarization is our best bet for overcoming it because to recognize it means that it exists. Where can we look, Urbanites? It all depends on how much we are willing to give. I, for one, will still be looking you straight in the eyes. You are allowed to look away.

Airport Scanner An example of the new Millimeter Wave Technology used at SFO for primary screening photo from TSA gov

Who's looking at you? Eye contact in the Urban labyrinth Megan Madden

Staff Editor

I have been at this school for nearly two years and I still have not spoken to all 350 of you. We have communicated in another way. We have passed in the halls, met eyes, made the conscious decision to lock irises, and then cavalierly, or perhaps, in a state of paranoia, looked away. Although the delicate politics of eye contact in this school are not typically discussed, their existence is downright undeniable. When I talked to Urban students, they were well aware of this cultural phenomenon. Nico Kert (‘12) acknowledged that people look away because “they don’t feel like being honest and truthful.” The labyrinth of hallways we occupy puts a certain pressure on students to feel close to those with whom they share the space.

News to Know:

The World: Through DNA testing sci-

entists discovered that the early death of King Tut was caused not by murder or falling off a chariot, but by malaria and a degenerative bone disease.

The United States:

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates's plan to wait a year and review the repeal of the army's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy gained support from top officials in the Marine Corps and Navy.

The City of San Francisco:

Fleet Management Ltd., the operating company in the San Francisco Bay 2007 Cosco Busan spill, was fined $10 million. The spill released 53,000 gallons of oil.

The Urban School:

No more grades at Urban? On Feb. 11 in advisory, the whole school filled out a survey on grading policy.

Illustrations by Anne Vetter


February 2010


The Urban Legend

MONOlogue on Urban’s hard-to-detect virus Sabrina Werby

Health Writer

“Hey, can I have a sip of your delicious Squat and Gobble coffee?” Unfortunately, if you were to ask me this question, the answer would be ”no.” Last fall, I contracted mononucleosis and missed school for most of November. My first symptom was fatigue. It did not matter how many hours I slept; I was always tired. I had swollen lymph nodes on the side of my neck that grew so big and uncomfortable that I could not swallow, talk, or even move my head. Eventually, I developed a fever of about 101º that was resistant to normal fever medications. Later, I experienced stomach flulike symptoms. Finally, little bumps developed all over my body. Mono is very tricky to diagnose. For me, it took three separate mono blood tests and three weeks before I got the final diagnosis. While I was sick, I woke up every day expecting to feel better, but I always felt worse. I just wanted to know what was wrong with me, so that the doctors could treat me. Nobody could give me any answers. I am not alone. Mononucleosis, commonly known as mono, is spreading through the Urban population. Charlotte Worsley, Head of Student Life, estimates the number of reported cases of mono at Urban this year at around eight. Worsley thinks the number of mono cases “are a lot higher this year compared to other recent years.” According to a survey of Urban students, conducted between Feb. 1 and Feb. 5, 63% of students think that Urban had a lot of mono cases this year. Jennifer Epstein, health teacher and faculty advisor for the Health Initiative for Peer Education, describes mono as a little “Urbandemic.” The survey also showed that 20 students think they may have had mono this year. Urban Receptionist Andrea Scally, who takes and makes calls to parents when students are ill, said that when students have mono, “parents do not necessarily tell us.” Mono passes from person to person through saliva, hence its popular name, “the kissing disease.” However,



An interview with Sarah Weddington, mother of Roe v. Wade by Sabrina Werby As we went to press on Feb. 25, President Obama held his White House health care summit. One of the key issues likely to re-emerge during the second round of health care debate is the Stupak amendment, which was part of the House health bill and sought to prohibit federal funding for abortion. One who will be watching the upcoming debate is Sarah Weddington, who was on the front lines of the fight for reproductive rights in 1973 when she defended Norma McCorvey, the woman seeking an abortion in the landmark

photo by Isabel Moore; illustration by Lizzie Logan

mono is not solely spread through kissing, but also by sharing drinks, food, or utensils. Urban has a culture of food sharing, which contributed to the spread of mono. “Yesterday I [ate] dinner on Haight Street” said Virgil Taylor (‘11). However, “I ended up having to eat a second dinner at home because I had to share my food with everyone.” Another unique characteristic of mono is the span of time dur-

ing which a person is contagious. According to The New York Times Health Guide, “Persons with mononucleosis may be contagious while they have symptoms and for up to a few months afterwards.” So while mono-infected students are feeling healthy enough to return to school, they can still spread the virus to other students. Every individual’s body responds differently to mono. For

illegal. Today, the polls would indicate that the majority of people are still in favor of Roe vs Wade, that the government should not decide what options women choose. However, if you start, then, going down a list of restrictions on abortion (and) restrictions on access, it gets Question: How have American ... difficult and there it is sometimes opinions changed since Roe v. closer. The polls I’ve seen lately Wade? still say most people don’t think it should be the government’s busiAnswer: “Well, if you look at the ness to make decisions, but the polls majority of American citizens in are closer on access and restriction 1973, when Roe v. Wade was de- than they are on the basic (issue of) cided, many thought it was not the who should make the decision.” government’s business to prohibit abortion…(T)here were so many Q: What was abortion like for horror stories of women who had women before Roe V. Wade? traveled…for illegal abortions, who had done self abortions, (and) the A: “California abortion had become number of women who died as a legal before Roe v. Wade was deresult of those efforts. Most major cided ... it was Ronald Reagan, the hospitals (including those) here in then-governor of California, who Texas... had ... “IOB wards,” (mean- signed that bill into law. It was not ing) infected obstetrics ward, and until he ran for president that he there were places where the medi- became so opposed to abortion. cal schools...were trying to save (In Texas), there actually ... (were) women who had gone through about 10 seats on American airlines those situations. out of Dallas every Thursday, going So, there was much more (aware- to California for women to have acness) the American public’s cess to legal abortion out there and mind of the tragedies for women then come back on Sunday.” that happened when abortion was see WEDDINGTON page 10

instance, David Werboff (’10) says he “never really showed symptoms. I think I passed it to some people, and the whole time...I felt a little under the weather, but not anything close to the really intense symptoms that people have when they have mono.” Mono is especially tough on student athletes. One of the effects of the disease is an enlarged spleen, which makes it much more likely

to rupture. “A person who has an enlarged spleen should abstain from sports,” Epstein says. Although there are many frightening concerns surrounding mono, Dean of Student Life Charlotte Worsley says, “One year… everyone was sick with strep throat. Obviously, any extended illness that affects a student’s academics is a concern. We all have a responsibility to maintain good hygiene.”

Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case. We spoke to Weddington about the history of abortion in America, the Stupak amendment, and how if you had told her 37 years ago that she would still be talking about abortion rights today, she “never would have believed that.”

Sarah Weddington, pictured here in 1973

during her first term in the Texas legislature, was a lawyer in the landmark Roe v. Wade case

photo courtesy of


February 2010

Homeless: Life a daily struggle from page 2

In written responses to questions submitted by the Legend, Gascón predicted that “such an ordinance here in San Francisco would be limited in scope, and crafted to target those individuals who are impairing the quality of life and inspiring fear in different areas of our city.” On March 1, Mirkarimi will hold a hearing to address the issue of a possible policy change in dealing with citywide homelessness. Mirkarimi has asked District Attorney Kamala Harris and City Attorney Dennis Herrera to attend, along with the Board of Supervisors and members of the Public Safety Committee. He has also asked Gascon, who has proposed the sit-lie ordinance, to be present. Gascón said he was supporting the sit-lie ordinance because “existing laws do not give officers what the proposed ordinance would, specifically the ability to cite, when appropriate, those persons who are negatively impacting the public’s right to walk our city streets without interference or intimidation.” The homeless on Haight street differ greatly from other homeless people elsewhere in San Francisco, according to Kevin Fagan, staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Fagan and his photographerpartner, Brant Ward, spent two years reporting on San Francisco’s homeless for their “Shame of the City” series in 2003. The Haight, says Fagan, is home to “the most visible homeless problem in the country. It’s right in your face.” According to Fagan, Haight Street is positioned centrally on the so-called “Hippie Trail,” which winds from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Seattle; Ashland, Ore.; San Francisco; Santa Cruz and eventually cities in New Mexico. “Some of the kids here (in the Haight) are pretend homeless,” Fagan said. “They are just sort of trying it on, seeing if it fits.” These “road warriors,” or “aggressive thugs” are the targeted group of the proposed sit-lie ordinance, according to Gascón. Residents of the Haight are asking for a


said Mikhael Porter (’10). Porter also said, “they should have another place to go.” Jordan Calhoun (’10) said that “besides the mentally ill, I have no sympathy for them.” It remains to be seen how the city deals with those who Mirkarimi says are “down and out but civil” and those who are “down and out and uncivil.” Don Tanksley, 60, has been living on and off Haight Street for his whole life. He stopped to talk as he was on his way to drum in nearby Golden Gate Park. Having lived around the Haight for so Life on Haight street Little Hawk, one of many homeless persons living in the Haight, sits on the corner of long, Tanksley has witnessed the evoluHaight and Belvedere streets, asking passersby for money. photo by Isabel Moore tion of the neighbormore aggressive way to deal with the area’s people in three neighborhoods between 7a.m. hood. “It’s like any homeless. But Mirkarimi said that complaints and 9 p.m., according to the Portland Busiother place, with the tourists and all,” he don’t necessarily require a new sit-lie law. ness Journal. One year after the law passed, says. “It’s changed quite a bit.” “These complaints are chronic,” says Mirka- the results were controversial. In 2008, the Tanksley recognizes the different kinds rimi. The supervisor acknowledged that the Journal reported that “while Portland police of homeless people living in the Haight. Haight has a homeless problem, saying that officers primarily apply the rules against “A lot of people who don’t live here come the issue was “not uncommon, just different homeless persons, they ignore the political (here),” he said. in the Haight.” The aesthetic presence of the canvassers who regularly block downtown Tanksley looked worried when speaking homeless “undermines residents’ vision of sidewalks.” about his living situation. “It’s a day-to-day According to Mirkarimi, San Francisco’s what their ideal neighborhood looks like.“ struggle,” he said. “It’s pretty rough. I don’t As of now, San Francisco has a “High police department did not inform the Board usually have any place to go.” He also recPedestrian Traffic Area” ordinance. It states of Supervisors about its decision to propoe ognized a recent increase in police force on that homeless cannot sit or lie on a public sit-lie. “I don’t think it was appropriate for Haight. “Police want to hassle you,” he said. sidewalk between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. It also the police to unilaterally drum up legislation “(They) are coming down harder now.” says that their animals must be kept leashed and then propose it in the press,” Mirkarimi Tanksley is no supporter of sit-lie. “If a and that their belongings must be kept out of said. “We didn’t even see or hear about the person has no place to go, they should be able public walkways. The ordinance also prohib- legislation until we read it about it in the to hang out on the street,” he said. “These its aggressive panhandling in public places. Chronicle.” people are tired, exhausted. They just need The sit-lie ordinance would not only have The current law allows for the police to act a rest.” independently or to act on a civil complaint, a big impact on the city, but it would also affect According to Mirkarimi, solving the issue says Mirkarimi. Urban students. Nicki Greenberg (’13) said, of homelessness is “a question of will … the “What I want to know is, why aren’t the “I like (the homeless people) because they laws need to be enforced.” police enforcing current anti-loitering laws?” give a little culture and spirit to the Haight.” Mirkarimi said that he “would like the The freshman says taking away this culture he asked. police to be more proactive” by walking San Francisco is not the first city to propose would alter the Haight as we know it. “street beats” or by pacing up and down a sit-lie ordinance. In fact, in 2007, Portland Other students are looking for less areas like the Haight to keep a more vigilant adopted a sit-lie ordinance to ban homeless homeless on the streets. “I’m sick of them,” eye on lawbreaking.

Sharp Park: Snakes are citizens Weddington: “No” doesn’t work from page 3

The money that is being pumped into Sharp Park needs to be put into other city golf courses, so that Sharp Park can be restored for the snakes and other wildlife. We can leave the course the way it is, for a few hairless apes to enjoy while the San Francisco garter snake fades into oblivion, or we can restore Sharp Park for humans, snakes, and all life, while improving other golf courses. We have to realize that garter snakes are citizens of San Francisco and this world as much as we are. The Supreme Court just gave corporations personhood, but we have yet to give actual living beings per-

from page 9

sonhood! We must become more responsible members of our shared ecosystem, and ensure a place for all life within it. If you want to see this happen, please send a letter or email to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Mayor Gavin Newsom, supporting the restoration of Sharp Park. For more information please go to Gavin Newsom: SF Board Of Supervisors: Board.

Winterfest: A “chillaxing” respite from page 4

Algernon Allen (’10), thought it was “all right,” but “wished we could have had an assembly to share stuff at the end of the day.” Allen, as well as Harvey, agreed that although they enjoyed their activities, the options were limited compared to years past. Still, many students were enthusiastic about the day. Annakai Geshlider (’13) raved about baking “pretzels in Dan Matz’s homemade brick oven,” Julia Hankin (’11) loved making pasta and visiting the Wave Organ by Crissy Field, and Martin Lindsey (’10) “got coffee and walked around North Beach,” which he enjoyed because it was so “chillaxing.”

Although it has changed over the years, Winterfest has been a steady tradition for several years now. Despite its many changes, Winterfest remains a steady Urban tradition. On the morning of WinterFest, students — weary from weeks of non-stop work — gathered, as always, around the tables in the student center. But on this morning, it was Fruit Loops and Apple Jacks, not incomplete science labs, which attracted their attention. Each year, perhaps because Winterfest is being constantly improved, students never know what to expect.

Q: Do you think we are in danger of women being apathetic about their rights? A: “I can’t help but feel — and sometimes I do think I’m such an optimist — but I do not think young women will ever give up the right to make their own decisions. I think the problem we have right now is getting them to focus on the number of people who oppose abortion and oppose women making their own decisions … the one good thing about the Stupak amendment is it kind of grabs young women and says, ‘Look, the right to make your own decisions and to have access to procedures is really in danger,

and you better get active.’ Q: Why do you think teen pregnancy rates went up this year for the first time in a decade? A. “George Bush, as president, and the people around him put so much money and effort into abstinence education, which was to ‘just say don’t.’ Well, that’s not realistic for a lot of younger people, and the result is the number of unplanned pregnancies and those are sometimes (happening to) teenagers…If all you do is say ‘no’ to young people, that is not going to work. It has not worked when their parents were their age. It doesn’t work now.“

THE LEGEND IS ONLINE! Please visit for further news: Corrections from December 2009 Legend Issue In “Escape Velocity” (December 2009), Jeremy Harvey-Brown is (’12) not (’13). In “Escape Velocity” (December 2009), Sonja Bartlett’s name was spelled incorrectly. In “Escape Velocity” (December 2009), Karen Kreyling’s title was incorrect. She is the School Counselor. In “Girls Tennis Makes Sectionals” (December 2009), Catalina Gutierrez’s name was spelled incorrectly.


February 2010


The Urban Legend

Chris Khosh fences his way to Stanford Samantha Lucas

Staff Writer

At Urban, fencing is not a sport we hear about often. In the last few years, however, Urban has pulled together a fencing team and class, including 13 players. Next year, Christopher Khoshnevissan ('10) will join the highly competitive Pac-10 team at Stanford. We spoke to him about juggling fencing and academics, and making plans for the future.

I traveled around the world to Madrid and I didn’t even get to see the Eiffel Tower, for example. I didn’t get to see any sites because I would fly out Friday and get

there Saturday midday and then I would fence on Sunday and I would come back the next day. It was not something I thought was fun at all.”

Q. What is a typical practice? A. “It’s a lot of technical stuff ....We practice our leg stuff. We do foot work; we do a lot of drills .... I also

Q. Where did you first fence? A. “At (the) French-American school. I went there when I was younger and there was (a) fencing class they were teaching there. And me and my brother were really into sword fighting with plastic swords, and my brother got into the school class .... At (that) age, I just wanted to do whatever my brother did, so the next year I signed up for it, too.”

took a lot of private lessons with my coach, which was probably the biggest help.” Q. Were you nervous or anxious about applying to college? A. “I was nervous for sure junior year; I was pretty stressed out .... Since freshman year, (fencing) was going to be a huge, huge part. It was the only way. I guess I had okay grades, but I was not going to apply to small liberal arts schools. I always knew I wanted to be recruited by the big schools.” Q. Have you met the team? A. “I have met one person because he came over to my practice and we fenced a little. No I have not really met the team.

Q. What are your rankings? A. “I am still ranked nationally. After I got into Stanford in September for fencing ... I knew I was going to Stanford so I have not competed since last April. I got burned out junior year, so I am just hanging back. Sophomore year, I was ranked 4th in the country for 16 and under. Junior year, I finished 7th in the 16 and under.”

Q. Why Stanford? A. “I think that I got the best vibe from Stanford. I felt the most comfortable (there). A lot of the schools seemed really uptight; just by talking to the coaches, the kids seemed really stressed out and were not having a good time. A lot has to do with my brother who goes there and my parents (who) are comfortable with the school .... And the coach … I was her number-one, she wanted to push for me. For other schools, I didn’t know if I was their numberone priority.”

Q. Do you love the sport or are you tired of playing all the time? A. “I don’t know. I have not done it in a while .... It’s not something I really, really love right now. I spend so much time training and competing. For the fall and winter term junior year, I competed every weekend. It’s really a job for me, and not something I enjoyed.

Q. How do you feel about accomplishing a goal that most athletes have? A. “I don’t really think it’s hit me. Fencing was always something I had to do. I mean, I had the decision to do it or not, but it was always like a job to me. I don’t think it (has) hit me yet. I think when I go there, it’s going to really hit me."

Double Time: Chris Khoshnevissan ('10) juggles between academics and athletics, as most students do at Urban. Left: Chris in his fencing attire. Right: Chris in his everyday clothes photos by Isabel Moore; photo illustration by Daniel Moattar



points Sam Cash ('10) 3 pointers Harry scored Krinksy ('13) made during the JV Basketball Jamboree against against University Marin Academy


of Urban students wanted the Indianapolis Colts to win the Superbowl


of Urban students wanted the New Orleans Saints to win the Superbowl

35% 47-36

Score of the girls varsity of Urban victory against students don't even watch football Marin Academy in the BCL quarterfinals

Tiger Woods: Just another fallen hero? Jason Cinti

Staff Writer

You don’t have to know a thing about golf to realize that sports lost one of its all-time heroes when Tiger Woods crashed his SUV in Florida last November. Unfortunately, Tiger joins a long list of sports heroes whose off-field exploits have tarnished their success. On Feb. 19, Tiger apologized to the public for his actions. According to a transcript published on ESPN, Tiger said, “I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated. What I did was not acceptable, and I am the only one to blame.” Tiger made it clear to the public that must recover from his foolish ways. In January, the public found out that Mark McGwire had been using steroids most of his career. Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum, as well as eight-time gold medalist Michael Phelps both were caught for the possession of marijuana. Barry Bonds, the king of home runs and arguably, of baseball in general, completely disappeared, retreating from the public eye over

steroid use. Kobe Bryant, who has dominated the basketball court consistently, was charged with sexual assault in the summer of 2003; the charge was dropped. So, when the media revealed Tiger's cheating, why were we so surprised? So what if Tiger messed up? Why does it even matter? Why should anybody, especially someone who does not even like golf, care? Tiger possesses a great deal of money, power, and bragging rights as the world's best golfer. Can’t he do anything he wants? The not-so-simple answer is: No. Not after he became a father. Not when millions of Americans follow him so closely. Not when he revolutionized the game of golf for young players. Not when he signed contracts with companies that rely on him and his image, including Nike, EA Sports, Gillette, and Golf Digest. Millions of people around the world view Tiger as a role model, and too many need him to be perfect. Like it or not, the price of fame is that you don’t have a personal life and a public life — it’s all one and the same. Despite Tiger’s mistakes, many

are willing to give him a second chance. Daniel Starr (’10), captain of the Urban golf team, believes that Tiger will “always be a respectable golfer.” Starr thinks that Tiger has “introduced golf to new generations, making it more of a popular sport that younger players can connect to (it).” Regardless of his affairs, Tiger should be admired, Starr says. Scott Foster, a golfer as well as Urban’s jazz teacher, calls Tiger “a cultural icon.” But fans have seen cracks in the facade. Foster attended the Presidents Cup in San Francisco last October. During the trophy ceremony, Foster said, it seemed as if Tiger “wished he could get out of there and leave as soon as possible.” I also saw Tiger play at Harding Park. His tee shot on the 6th hole was absolute perfection. But his body language said that he wanted to get the job over with and go home. Foster believes that the media was waiting for something like this to happen. “Now that Tiger is down, the media thought they should just jump on him and kick him while they had the chance,”

Losing face Tiger Woods expresses frustration after missing a putt at the 2008 U.S. Open

Foster said. I also think that the media trampled on Tiger. After years of praising him, it seems as if we wanted something that would bring him down. Golf fans around the country should forgive Tiger for what he has done. The man is human, it’s only natural to make mistakes. So don't view Tiger as a god. See

photo courtesy of the guardian.

him as a man with faults, a well as enormous abilities in the game of golf. And watch, when Tiger comes back to golf, he will be stronger than ever. If Tiger returns in April for the Masters, he'll bring the spotlight back to golf and will continue his dominance on the course as if nothing happened. Even though it did.


February 2009

The Urban School of San Francisco

The secret life of

Urban Basketball Studs

A continuing series on Urban life and people

Did you know?? Look below for some secret facts about the seniors on basketball team Mikhael Porter

holds the best record with Henry Klingenstein (‘10) in videogame “Nazi Zombies”

Sam Cash’s

favorite fairy tale is Sleeping Beauty

August Fischer’s

favorite Beyonce song, according to Anneli Eddy (‘10) is “If I Were a Boy”

Noah Howland,

according to Jordan Calhoun (‘10), is Urban’s biggest “Twilight” fan

Leo Stroe

If could be a cartoon character, he would be Scooby Doo

photos by Isabel Moore; collage by Sam Lucas

Question of the month:

if you were reincarnated as a teacher, who would you be? why?

“Richard (Lautze): He knows exactly where the moon or sun will be at any time of day. That’s a really cool skill to have.” —Ivy Getty (‘13) photos by Isabel Moore

“I would return to this beloved earth as Ken Garcia-Gonzales because he rocks Kangols with unimaginable swagger.” —Gabe Ruimy (‘11)

“Suren (Tummala) because he is (still) God.” —Lola Less (‘11)

“Scott Foster: Coach, cajole, encourage, criticize, orchestrate — and get out of the way.” —Jonathan Howland, faculty

“Dan Murphy. Not only could I see the way he thinks (which is brilliantly with incredible wit), but I could also see the history of the school. I want to really know what is behind that bemused smile.” —Scott Nelson, faculty

The Urban Legend, February 2010  

The Urban Legend, Volume 11, Issue 3