WEEKEND // DAY, MONTH ##, 2011
Yale College Council representatives say they advocate for student issues. Student organizations believe the YCC is often not the forum for them. And only 36 percent of students agree that the YCC represents them.
YCC is it anyway? Akbar Ahmed reports, Page 3
YALE’S VARYING PERSPECTIVES
A NIGHT AT THE CARNIVAL
Joy Shan explores the world of the new HBO television show starring Allison Williams ‘10.
First-hand accountss of the experience of creating and maintaining a body image at Yale.
Anya Grenier goes to Cabaret-constructed circus, leaves terrified.
YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 2012 · yaledailynews.com
Bulldog Days 2012 Schedule of Events // BY CODY KAHOE AND CALEB MADISON
On the following page you will find events happening at Yale during Bulldog Days. Many of these events, including numerous tours and forums, have been specially planned for you by the Office of Admissions. Please attend signature events, but take in everything else at your leisure. With any questions, please contact Assistant Dean of Admissions N. Ferguson. RESIDENTIAL COLLEGES Continental Breakfast: 8:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m., Lunch: 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m., Dinner: 5:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. Please take note that, despite its name, Berkeley Mac and Cheese is not limited to Berkeley College. In fact, it will be the only dish served for all three meals at every dining hall during your stay. CAMPUS TOURS Energetic tour guides will provide a walking tour of Yale College, showering you with a wealth of totally unrehearsed and hilariously wacky anecdotes about campus lore and the unending joys of the residential college system! CHAPLAIN’S OFFICE OPEN HOUSE Come tour the headquarters of spiritual and religious life on campus. Enjoy a grilled cheese study break or stimulating conversation about theology. All are welcome! (Note: Methodists not welcome.) NATIVE AMERICAN DINNER Join members of the Native American Community at Yale for dinner at 6 p.m. at the Yale College Dean’s house. LAUGHS WITH YALE’S PREMIERE SKETCH COMEDY GROUP, RED HOT POKER Enjoy an hour-long giggle-fest with the funniest group on campus! NEW HAVEN BY BUS TOUR Downtown New Haven has been home to Yale University for over three centuries. As a center for business, a mecca for the arts, a foodie’s jackpot and a boutique shopper’s destination, New Haven is a city of innovation, culture and prosperity. Join us for a bus tour of downtown New Haven led by current Yale students.1
reservation in the Branford Common Room. MASTER CLASS WITH HAROLD BLOOM: “LOITERING AND LEERING IN 20TH-CENTURY EUROPEAN LITERATURE” You won’t even know what hit you after this very interactive and engaging seminar with one of Yale’s most tenured professors! The class will be capped at two female students. LAUGHS WITH YALE’S PREMIER SKETCH COMEDY GROUP, THE FIFTH HUMOUR Enjoy an hour-long chucklefest with the funniest group on campus! THE POLISH MEN’S PERCUSSION ENSEMBLE OPEN REHEARSAL Meet the Polish Men’s Percussion Ensemble, Yale’s most igneous musical group, as they perform such classic Polish rock songs as “My Mother’s Pebble” and “There’s a Rock in my Kielbasa.” Prefrosh should come prepared with their own rocks, preferably granite. NATIVE AMERICAN DINNER** Note: The Native American Dinner has been relocated to East Rock. OLD CAMPUS BARBEQUE WITH DKE Stop by Old Campus from 1 to 3 to join DKE’s welcome barbeque. You can’t say no to our hot dogs! MASTER CLASS WITH THE FLOWER LADY: “MAKING THE PRIVILEGED UNCOMFORTABLE” Topics covered include insistent harassment, pity bartering and flattery.
‘Community’ Blues: Learning to Let Quirky Be // BY JACKSON MCHENRY
Oh. My. God. Did you see “Community” last night? The Troy and Abed scene! They’re like my real friends. Did you catch that reference that Britta made? And honestly, Jeff and Annie totally need to hook up. I mean, seriously. If you’re not one of the 1.5 million viewers who tune into NBC on Thursday nights at 8 p.m. to watch the adventures of Jeff Winger and his community college study group, I may as well be talking code. If you do, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. As an obsessive pop culture consumer, I love “Community.” I live for the cult movie references that distinguish the show. Last week, when I realized that showrunner Dan Harmon was giving me an episode in the style of a Ken Burns Civil War documentary about a campuswide pillow fight (complete with a deadly-serious voiceover), my laughter woke half the Silliman library. Not everyone shares my enthusiasm. Unless you’ve seen both films in question, it’s impossible to explain what’s funny in an episode that pretends to parody “Pulp Fiction” before sidestepping into homage to 1980s cult hit “My Dinner with Andre.” I’ve strained friendships with my insistence on sharing the famous (infamous?) paintball episode. The standard reply to my last resort, a diatribe about how “Community” stands for the logical next progression in television history, from “Cheers” to “Seinfeld” onward, is “I don’t get it, can we watch that show with Sheldon?” “Community” is my awkward best friend. Together we speak a sort of spastic, self-referential code. With friends, that’s okay, but if we go to a party? “Community” inevitably drops a Dungeons and Dragons reference. To be fair, the Dungeons and
Dragons episode of “Community” was one of the best of the second season. It displayed real character development as the study group, led by a guilty Jeff Winger (former lawyer, permanent jerkass), tried to help seriously depressed “fat Neil” feel comfortable with himself by playing his favorite game. It’s hilarious — at one point the jock, Troy, played by Donald Glover (Childish Gambino), questions whether there should be something to Jenga. More importantly, it has heart. But I’m already backtracking. I’m already defensive. You haven’t known “Community” for as long I have. I have the privileged, elitist view. Why don’t you love everything about it already?
WE SO DESPERATELY WANT TO SHARE HOW WE FEEL ABOUT SOMETHING THAT WE FORGET ITS FLAWS; WE LOSE DISTANCE. It’s a scientific fact that small reference pools can’t tell you the whole truth. That’s the basis for dropping the lowest test grade, for revisiting a restaurant and for giving someone a second chance at a first impression. People are forgiving, but when you really love something, you don’t want forgiveness; you want your friends to share the same love from the get-go. In response, you develop a certain overprotective zeal. This can happen with anything, whether it is a TV show, book, class, sport, food or friend. In last year’s Christmas episode of “Community,” the pop culture-savvy Abed is let down when the rest of the study group literally doesn’t share his
vision of a Claymation Christmas. We so desperately want to share how we feel about something that we forget its flaws; we lose distance. These flaws are harder to ignore with a show that is intent on celebrating them. The characters start out as stereotypes — the jerk lawyer, the jock, the rebellious blonde, the book-smart brunette, the sassy black lady, the old guy — and they remain stereotypes, but become self-aware. Often, Jeff delivers big on speeches about how the study group has become a “community” and has learned to recognize the humanity of each member, but the show also recognizes the undercurrent of difference that pushes people apart. In the more recent episodes, Troy and Abed, formerly best friends forever (think Turk and J.D. in “Scrubs”), begin to fight, realizing that they won’t always be. Friendship, the show argues, is as much about acknowledging difference as similarity. In this sense, the bothersome idiosyncrasies of the show are not only important but essential. This is a problem that we struggle with every day. You don’t introduce your friend by saying that he’s simply quirky. You either point to the mainstream, preparing to shudder when he slides out of it, or oversells the charm of that quirk. “Community,” however, taught me that things can stand on their own. I can argue that the show will appeal to anyone, but I can’t change what it is, I can’t make its idiosyncrasies anything but what they are. All I know is that I am devoted. Maybe my devotion really does lead somewhere, maybe it doesn’t. For now, I’ll let the awkward kid speak for himself. Contact JACKSON MCHENRY at firstname.lastname@example.org .
LAUGHS WITH YALE’S PREMIÈRE SKETCH COMEDY GROUP, GRIN AND TONIC Enjoy an hour-long snicker-fest with the funniest group on campus! 1 Note: This description was taken verbatim from the 2012 Bulldog Days Schedule of Events. The authors of this view felt that no further joke was necessary.
NATIVE AMERICAN DINNER* Note: The Native American Dinner has been relocated to a room
KAHOE & MADISON
Contact CODY KAHOE and CALEB MADISON at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org .
The Truth Will Out // BY JORDAN ASCHER
T.S. Eliot once wrote “April is the coolest month.” But to me it seems more like the cruelest month. Work is piling up; the year is winding down. Not to mention all those damn lilacs, mixing memory and desire. But April it is, and in just a few days we’ll be crushed to death by about 1,500 prospective freshmen who will fall from the sky and eat all our free food. These children will ask questions about “extracurriculars” and “academics” and, for some of the more precocious among them, “sextracurriculars.” A warning to all students: these young barnacles are not to be trusted. After all, they got into Yale, and the only way to do that is by being a soulless, manipulative opportunist without a shred of self-esteem, willing to say or do anything in order to win an overhyped and largely meaningless stamp of approval from a random person hired to pass judgment upon them. Also, on the off-chance that this newspaper is still floating around
F R I D AY APRIL 13
come Monday: hello class of 2016! We’re excited to get to know you. Please stop reading now, and go to the fondue party with that dude from France (!). Shame on you, undergrads, for letting this paper fall into their hands. You should know better. Now think back — it’s hard to believe, but you were at Bulldog Days once. You were, at one time, a clean-shaven, slightly thinner young person brimming with insufferable excitement, floating from information session to meet-andgreet in a daze, infuriating everyone around you. You were told certain things, things that convinced you to commit a few hundred thousand dollars and four years of your precious life to this institution. Those things you now know to be lies. Please do the prefrosh a service; tell the truth. Lie 1: Residential colleges are great. OK, everyone knows residential colleges aren’t great. They’re stupendous. They’re exceptional. They’re marvelous. Not only will all your
“DOUBLE STORIES — DOUBLE LIVES”
LC // all day, continues through Sunday A conference on objects and texts from the days before print. Wait, but … before there were books, I could still text on my cell phone, amirite?
friends automatically be sorted into your college with you, thanks to the computer Yale has that can tell the future, but you will be fed delicious, fresh, healthy meals every day (in bed, if you prefer). Also each college has a working spaceship, which you can sign out for hour-long shifts. As if that weren’t enough, each Sunday night is Family Night, during which you will dine with a long-lost family member you didn’t know you had and will be delighted to meet (thanks, omniscient computer!). Lie 2: Everyone loves shopping period. A reckless lie that will no doubt deceive the prefrosh. You can’t love shopping period — because you’ll be unconscious for it. What they don’t tell you is that for two weeks at the start of each semester, you’ll be submerged in a vat of goo and a computer (its name is Roger, if you were curious) will interpret your bodily energies and select a courseload that’s just right. You won’t have class on Fridays or before 11:30; your distributional
SHAME ON YOU, UNDERGRADS, FOR LETTING THIS PAPER FALL INTO THEIR HANDS. requirements will be satisfied; you won’t have to take too many credits; and you won’t have section ever! And Roger does your work for you, so don’t worry about falling behind. Lie 3: Master’s Teas. Again, deception. Instead of tea, you’re given a pill which will download all the insights and hilarious anecdotes of each celebrity guest directly to your brain. So, even though you’ll absolutely never be able to find the time to go to a Master’s Tea, you don’t have to despair. Just get the pill version! If you do manage to find enough time to go to the Tea in person, the guest is by law required to
become your best friend. Lie 4: Yale will offer you an exceptional education. Counterintuitively, this is not a lie. (One caveat: Roger the omniscient computer teaches all the classes. He may lack the capacity to love, but man, he can tell you a thing or two about lit theory!) Don’t let the masses of prefrosh be taken in by the lies. The truth will out, and you will out it. Contact JORDAN ASCHER at email@example.com .
WEEKEND RECOMMENDS: Starting on those final papers early
Because we know the pains of saving the best for last. #groan
YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 2012 · yaledailynews.com
CULTIVATING RELATIONSHIPS — AND WHAT THAT MEANS C
a m e ra s ro l l e d , questions were fired out and stock phrases — “conversation with the administration,” “high-impact changes,” “real leadership is critical” — were bandied around like colorful sunglasses in the hands of Spring Fling revelers. The Yale College Council Election Debate on April 7 was a chance for the three Yalies competing to lead the council to outline their positions and to display what they had to offer. In doing so, they were trying to entice more than the 57 percent of the student body that, according to a survey conducted by the News recently, plans to vote in the upcoming elections for the YCC Executive Board of 2012’13. With 25 percent of students stating that they are undecided about whether to vote and 6 percent responding with an “I don’t know,” the electorate is far from clearly defined. Candidates are scrambling for every vote, making use of viral videos, Facebook and endorsements from overeager friends. But the results of this election might depend less on the campaigns or positions of each candidate than on Yalies’ faith in this campus’ system of student government. What next year’s — or any — YCC board focuses on and gets done is a function of how seriously students participate beyond the election season. Four days after the debate, the YCC Executive Board of 2011’12 released the 2011-’12 Annual Report, the first report of its kind since 2009. After five paragraphs outlining why the document is important, what this year’s Council has accomplished and which projects remain in the works, the report stated, “Above all, we have worked to ensure that the YCC acts as a mouthpiece for the student body.” The concept of the YCC as a mouthpiece is not new, but when Courtney Pannell ’11 unsuccessfully ran for YCC president in 2010, she saw the voice in that mouthpiece coming from a different source. “While I was running, I thought the YCC functioned as the administration’s mouthpiece to the student body,” she said. Pannell is a former multimedia editor for the News. “If you took a poll about how many people felt the YCC championed their ideas, I don’t think the majority of the student body would say it did,” she added. That concern doesn’t seem to deter candidates. Elections for next year’s Executive Board have been in full swing for a week. Voting ends at 9 p.m. tonight and student voters have been told at
every turn and in every dining hall whom they should support. Each candidate has a marginally distinct idea about what the YCC can and should do. Meanwhile, outgoing President Brandon Levin ’13 described himself as “very much a realist” about the YCC’s role. He said acting as a megaphone for student interests is part of the YCC’s job. But for all the hype, 32 percent of Yalies describe themselves as “neither interested nor uninterested” in this year’s board elections, and 42 percent express some level of disinterest. Sophie Nethercut ’14, a member of campus activist group Students Unite Now — formerly called the Undergraduate Organizing Committee — is not alone when she argues that the YCC is known for implementing small changes that add to student life but “stay[ing] away from controversial issues.” The Annual Report includes photographs of laundry bins installed in residential colleges under the “Laundry Bin Program” and a description of the new YCC website among the accomplishments of the outgoing board. Jimmy Murphy ’13, who ran for president against Levin last year, said a statement he overheard on Science Hill recently may well sum up perceptions of the YCC’s focus and abilities — “There needs to be a handle on the door of [Sterling Chemistry Lab]! I’m going to write to the YCC about this.” “They may contribute in positive ways, but these small acts, unless they’re united by something much bigger, don’t change the conversation,” Nethercut said. Yet Obaid Syed ’14, a Jonathan Edwards College representative on the council, argued that Yale students need to make a greater effort to have their voices heard by the council. “When people think they have a problem, they don’t go to the YCC,” Syed said. “People have to make better use of the people who represent them.” So is the megaphone Levin speaks of faulty, or are we just not picking it up?
PLAYING HOUSE WITH MARICHAL GENTRY
Perhaps what YCC members are most likely to tell you up front is that the strength of their organization lies in its ties with the Yale administration. “By consolidating the student government and student representatives into one body, and having one point of access between students and administrators, you allow messages to
be more condensed and stronger from one point,” Levin said. “So much of our successful policy this year was the result of collaboration and developing a relationship that was genuine.” Describing the process of policy reform as “top-down,” Syed said the YCC often reintroduces issues that have a precedent and allows administrators to “mull them over” for a year or two before pushing for significant reform. “In terms of setting trends, the YCC hasn’t been able to invoke policies that are very innovative,” he added, explaining that doing so would make the administration “queasy.” Calling the platforms of some of the current candidates to succeed him “adversarial,” Levin said the YCC must engage administrators, as they have the ultimate power to enact broad-based policy changes. Twenty-four percent of respondents to the News’ survey said they believe Levin’s administration has been more effective than any since 2008-’09. Compared to 45 percent stating that they do not know which board merits that plaudit, and 14 percent (the third-largest proportion) awarding it to that of the president before Levin, Jeff Gordon ’12, this is a significant number. Omar Njie ’13, vice president for 2011-’12, said he and Levin were fortunate to have a good relationship with the Yale College Dean’s Office before taking over. Improvements they made, Njie said, include a greater culture of “advertising achievements” via concise emails, a greater focus on public relations, and cooperation with groups like the International Students’ Organization and representatives of Greek life. After our interview, Njie promptly left for his last official meeting with Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry. Njie credited his close relationship with Gentry, and Levin’s with Yale College Dean Mary Miller, with “making this year a lot more efficient in terms of bringing more proposals.” “I don’t think most students have a clear mental picture about what the interaction between YCC members and administrators looks like,” former president Gordon said. “It’s tough because on the one hand, it would be nice to give students a clear narrative … but, on the other hand, the crucial relationship with those people relies on discretion and the understanding that the YCC won’t go complaining to the [News] about which administrator is being intransigent.” Levin said his approach was
VOT E simi l a r to Gordon’s; the latter described it as a case of not reinventing the model but tackling the same issues across a range of years. But Nethercut, who in her role at Students Unite Now organizes direct action campaigns and seeks to address campus issues she believes other groups neglect, said the YCC’s working relationship with the administration can lead to a reluctance for the council to challenge University officials. “There’s a point where some issues will inevitably challenge the administration,” Nethercut said. In a frustrated tone, she added, “The YCC bills itself as caring about and representing students, but what happens when student interests conflict with those of the administration?” Alexandra Brodsky ’12, a former co-coordinator of Dwight Hall and a signatory of last year’s Title IX complaint, said she would like to see the council fighting for more “meaningful” changes but does not see that as likely. “It seems that the council has such little power in the face of the secretive, faceless Yale [Corporation] that it’s unlikely ever to take such a controversial stand [as mixed-gender housing for all],” Brodsky said. “It seems, then, that the generally conservative nature of the YCC is less a matter of the individuals involved … than the structure of the council within the context of the larger University administration.” Gordon and Levin believe students must be more aware of what they describe as the process for change at Yale. “A lot of the most interesting, most popular issues are out of the reach of a single YCC contingent,” Gordon said. He explained that he believes three to five years of YCC boards must focus on a particular policy change to make it a reality, meanwhile undertaking efforts such as fostering discussions among the individual representatives at meetings and conducting polls to convince administrators of student support. “And frankly,” added the former president, “I think this is a very reasonable way to decide [what issues students care about].” The recent introduction of gender-neutral housing for juniors is an example of such an approach, according to Syed. The policy was first proposed in 2009, he said, and was considered by administrators until 2012, by which time they considered it viable. In an interview with the News last week, Gentry also cited the expansion of gender-neutral housing as an instance of building on a policy over some years. He said it must be noted that the YCC is a one-term institution, while the University is not. Former president Gordon expressed sympathy for the idea that administrators must take a long-term view of pressing student life issues. “If you’re an administrator, you’re concerned // JENNIFER CHEUNG
2011 candidates for Secretary on the YCC Board
with how students are affected over a five- to 10-year scale,” Gordon said. “You’re interested in the future. They’re interested in what students now have to say, but they are interested in a broader perspective so they’re less likely to become agitated and shift policy back and forth.” “Some of these issues aren’t going to be resolved in one academic year,” Gentry said. He also praised the transfer of power and continuity of focus between the Gordon and Levin administrations. While it may seem admirable to him, however, that kind of development isn’t visible to the student community. And that, Levin said, can be “unfortunate” for the Council’s reputation. Nethercut, for instance, said that it is important for the YCC to show students the process behind its work, not just results. She condemned a ‘behind closed doors’ approach, and suggested that “the final result is less satisfactory than it would be if students were engaged throughout the whole process.” “It appears we’re not doing anything,” Levin conceded. “Hopefully, the end result will pardon the couple of weeks of people thinking we’re not doing anything because we don’t want to upend or undermine [our efforts].” Levin added that not having meetings, say, plastered on the front page of the News helps maintain a level of trust with administrators. But it may cost them the confidence of students, according to Gordon. “I kind of doubt that students trust the YCC as strong advocates for policy change,” he said, “and that’s because the process of changing policy is slow, obscure, invisible and hard to relate to.” Evidence of the YCC’s most intensive work is located in places not open to the student body, such as an online database Syed described which holds information such as survey results from past administrations, candidacy platforms, and proposals both successful and rejected. “It’s a very long process,” Syed said. Gordon stands by it: “It’s still worth doing.”
DEVELOPING A WORKABLE MODEL
The current model of YCC organization developed from changes brought about by Rebecca Taber ’08, said Pannell. “Before Rebecca Taber, the YCC was very much unnecessarily bureaucratic,” Pannell said. “Taber introduced the idea of committees, developing sections of the YCC that champion specific issues and make connections with administrators over those issues.” Having observed the administrations of Rich Tao ’10, Jon Wu ’11 and Gordon, Pannell said she did not see a great deal of change following Taber’s precedent. Peter Croughan ’12, who ran against Gordon and Pannell for president and served as chair of the Spring Fling Committee for 2008-’09, said the committee model can lead to “entirely basing policy on the opinions of SEE YCC PAGE B8
F R I D AY APRIL 13
“HAVE WE LOST THE LIBERAL ARTS? EXPLORING A TEACHING TRADITION” Woolsey Hall // 8:30 a.m.
We, for one, will be exploring the comforts of our beds at this time, but if you’ve got the power.
WEEKEND RECOMMENDS: Listening to music that was popular around the time of your conception. Things will make a lot more sense.
YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 2012 · yaledailynews.com
MUSIC AND LYRICS WITH JARVIS COCKER, NO PULP ABOUT IT // BY CAROLINE TRACEY
Jarvis Cocker, frontman of the Britpop band Pulp, made himself come to Yale in order to see the dinosaur mural at the Peabody. He has written a song about dinosaurs (“I met her in the Museum of Paleontology / And I make no bones about it / I said, ‘If you wish to study dinosaurs / I know a specimen whose interest is undoubted”). On Wednesday afternoon in Green Hall, Cocker did not read the lyrics of this song during his talk. He also likes space, and not having already exhausted that scientific subject (no time for the observatory), he talked a little more about that. “When I was a child, there was a lot of space exploration going on, I guess that’s over now, but it had the effect of making me really disinterested in a lot of things on earth, because I thought by this age I would be living on another planet, or at least on a space station of some sort. Like riding a bike. I thought, ‘Are they going to have bicycles in space? I do NOT think so.’” Then he read the lyrics to a song he wrote about space. He was reading from the book “Mother, Brother, Lover: Selected Lyrics,” a collection of Cocker’s lyrics which was published last year by Faber & Faber. His appearance at the Art School was not a “book talk” per
se — he made no effort to try to sell the book — but the subject of the talk revolved around it. The readings were accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation of photos plucked seemingly straight from Google Images. At the beginning of the talk, he asked the provocative question: “What’s the point of lyric writing?” Rather than trying to market the book to starving art students, it seemed he was generously asking them to grant him an audience for a consideration of the very premise of the book: the value of lyrics. And what IS the point of lyrics, Jarvis? Even by the end of his talk, it was not yet apparent. Cocker explained the moment when he first started a band, and realized only secondarily that he would have to write words to go over as lyrics. “At that stage,” he said, “there are two ways you can go: ironic, or overly earnest.” Early Pulp (as in, still students at Sheffield City School), to those ends, had one song called “Shakespeare Rock” (“It didn’t make it into this book”) and another called “Life is a Circle.” But then Cocker learned that you could find your inspiration “right below your nose,” in the commonplace that is so easily overlooked. He read aloud the lyrics to “Inside Susan,” and
accompanied them with pictures of buses, tickets, and markets in his home city of Sheffield. And Cocker’s commonplace did not end there. He moved to London soon after, and met a girl who had recently been to a large festival on Spike Island, which she described as full of “dodgy guys from Manchester who kept saying, ‘Well, we’re all sorted for e’s and whizz.’” The phrase stuck in his mind for six or seven years, he explained, “until it finally popped out.” So, Cocker arrived at a second method of finding lyrics: building a narrative around those fragments that revolve in your head long after they ought to have left. By the end of his talk, the question of the point of lyrics was unresolved. But it was not lingering: it was left behind entirely. An art student in the audience asked, “How do you make the lyrics fit the music?” Cocker answered that music attaches itself naturally to the lyrics — and pointed out that most of the lyrics he had read during the last hour had been “spoken word”-style. The question of the lyrics was lost entirely. Suddenly, accidentally, the music was made subservient.
// ZOE GORMAN
Jarvis Cocker at the reading in Green Hall.
Contact CAROLINE TRACEY at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Yaledancers, deadly intent // BY SIJIA SONG
Three words describe the Yaledancers spring show: sharp, graceful and dangerous. The show features mostly contemporary dance with pieces set to pop or rock songs by musicians such as The Killers or Shakira — tracks that might easily turn up on the playlist for a suite party. However, the resemblance ends there. The Yaledancers show is like the shuffling found at most campus parties the way a forest fire is like a lit cigarette. One of the highlights of the show is “I’ve Got Soul,” choreographed by Molly Gibbons ’14, which manages to tell a silent, sweet and slightly sappy story in three minutes. The story
F R I D AY APRIL 13
starts with two dancers, each kneeling alone in a pool of light, and it ends with a shy shuffle together and a joining of hands. In between, there is a dizzying whirl of other dancers, weaving in and out of the story. “I was inspired by a particular story and was excited to explore it through the nuances of movement,” Gibbons said. Another noteworthy piece is the triptych consisting of “Miss You,” “Missed You,” and “Remiss,” a twoperson dance split into three segments and performed at intervals throughout the show. The break points are seemingly random: The dancers simply freeze and the music
stops in the middle of a phrase, giving the impression of a video suddenly cut off. The last installment features a remarkable moment that defies expectations the viewer might not even be aware he posses — Greta Stetson ’12 takes the lead and lifts Nick Murphy ’12 into the air. “We included that lift partly to make it clear that this was very much a two-directional relationship. Often in partnering, the male exclusively lifts the female; but in a friendship, the two people should support each other, regardless of their gender,” Stetson said. The third show-stealer is the lighting. In several pieces, the lights
are dimmed completely, and the backdrop is lit up in bright red or blue. The dancers become no more than stark black shadows against the light, setting a sharp, energetic mood that underlies the whole show. There are certainly quiet pieces in the production, including an unexpected snippet of ballet at the start of the second act. But overall, the fast numbers hit the hardest with sheer eye-riveting power, where the dancers move with bold, deadly intent like prowling hunters. If there is one caveat about the show, it is the performance’s slightly disjointed nature. There is no unified theme, and the mood shifts wildly
YALE FARM WORKDAY
Contact SIJIA SONG at email@example.com .
Yale Farm // 1 p.m.
If the sun is shining, we’re there. The plants will be there, too, and delicious pizza will be there.
from piece to piece. Rebecca Distler ’12, Yaledancers president, said that the lack of a clear theme was intentional. “Yaledancers doesn’t have a central theme,” she said. “We focus much more closely on technique, choreography and the individual message of each piece.” The Yaledancers’ spring show runs from April 12 to 14 at the ECA Theater, located at 55 Audubon St.
It’s something that can and should extend past just your biological siblings,Maybe even to your male friends, too!
YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 2012 · yaledailynews.com
JUST CLOSE ENOUGH TO HOME // BY JOSEPHINE MASSEY
If you are a 20-something college grad, or soon to be one, HBO’s much hyped new series “Girls” will probably hit quite close to home. The pilot opens with executive producer, writer, director and lead star Lena Dunham in the role of Hannah — a writer two years out of college with an unpaid internship, at dinner with her parents who have been financially supporting her. The discussion sounds all too familiar: ‘What are your plans? You need to get a job’ — until her life-providers drop the oh-so-tactful “It’s time for one final push,” also known as “You’re cut off.” Hannah’s reaction is hilarious but also valid. She’s their only child, she points out, the economy is not exactly booming and they should be grateful that she’s not a drug dealer (I’ve definitely used that one before). But her attempts are in vain.
And to think, she used to be one of us “Girls” success is that Dunham isn’t afraid to bare it all, in both a literal and figurative sense. Probably the most memorable scene is when Hannah stops by Adam’s (Adam Sackler) apartment for a booty call and tries to take off her clothes while face down on the couch with her hands clasped behind her back. Unlike other shows, both Hannah and Adam’s bodies are far from glamorous, and instead of skipping from kissing to postcoital lying in bed, the entire interaction is shown, complete with painfully awkward dialogue. The realistic angle explored in “Girls” is one not seen too frequently these days on TV. In the midst of guilty plea-
THE TONE IS ONE OF REALISM THAT IS SO EASY TO IDENTIFY WITH THAT IT BECOMES UNCOMFORTABLE. The mood set in this illfated family dinner permeates the rest of the episode, which follows Hannah, Marnie (Allison Williams ’10) and Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) through their encounters with internships turned sour, overly nice boyfriends and bad-advice-giving British cousins (Jessa, played by Jemima Kirke). The tone is one of realism that is so easy to identify with that it becomes uncomfortable and the only reaction you can have is to laugh at Hannah and, to some degree, yourself. Dunham masterfully melds trueto-life characters and situations — like Marnie’s inability to break up with her boyfriend Charlie because she doesn’t want to hurt his feelings — with sitcom humor, which has the potential of feeling set up but usually arrives as an unexpected surprise. Part of the success of
sures like “Jersey Shore” and thrillers like “Dexter,” “Girls” comes as a breath of fresh B.A.-delivered air. You can relate to the characters because they don’t live at the extremes of stock or ideal; they exist as patchworks of both likable traits and imperfections, held together but always about to collapse into a pile of post-grad-survival angst. One might think a show that recalls uncouth interactions you want to forget would not be a pleasant experience, but “Girls” avoids this problem by adding humor to the discomfort, making the situation not only bearable but extremely entertaining. I don’t know how long “Girls” will be able to keep up the laughs without making them feel planned, but for now, it’s certainly one to watch. Contact JOSEPHINE MASSEY at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Allison Williams ’10: One of the ‘Girls’ // BY CORA LEWIS
Allison Williams ’10, Lana del Rey doppelganger and former member of Yale improv group Just Add Water, will star in the new HBO series “Girls,” which debuts April 15. The actress returned to campus Monday to screen the first episode of the show for a group of fans and friends. Afterwards, she answered questions (such as, “How can I watch ‘Girls’ if I don’t get HBO?” Answer: “Find that one friend whose parents get it, and leech off her,” she joked). Below, she talks tattoos, women in comedy and why guys watch “Sex and the City.” Q. Lena Dunham, the show’s writer, has said that a lot of what’s in “Girls” comes directly from her life and the lives of other cast members — A. Right, for instance the tattoos that Lena has, that she shows in the first episode, are all real. It was Jemima Kirke, who plays Jessa, who gave her the one on her butt and who has subsequently given her many more. And she has given them to Zosia [Mamet, the fourth lead actress on “Girls”]. Q. Not you yet? A. I think I’m going to remain un-tatted. Q. It’s not a rite of passage — an initiation into the show? A. It’s not something I’m interested in. And, funnily enough, they encouraged me not to do it. They said, “It’s a slippery slope. Once you have one, you can’t stop.” It’s almost like they’re haggard and on the other side and telling me, “Don’t start, kid.”
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NITTY SCOTT COMES TO TOWN
Rap Genius’ up-and-comer Nitty Scott is coming to blow up campus with a little bit of her lady swag.
THE GREAT THING ABOUT TELEVISION IS IT’S ONE OF THE FEW FORMS OF MEDIA WHERE PEOPLE CAN SIT DOWN, WATCH TOGETHER, THEN DISCUSS. Q. The media has hyped “Girls” a great deal to be ‘representative’ of young women, and it’s also received some criticism for being another show focusing on relatively well-off, white, metropolitan, heterosexual women. How do you feel about these sorts of expectations and comments? A. I think the media often wants a TV show to ‘say something’ broad. But I think one of the nice things about the show is that it is very specific — it’s specifically Lena [Dunham]’s experiences, summed up. Rather than forming a thesis, it’s showing a number of different lives and alternatives. That makes it broader as a show, because it’s not looking to take a stand and then alienating people. I know, personally, it’s much easier for me to enjoy and ingest something if I know it isn’t trying to argue a point, at least not consciously. If the show makes you laugh, awesome. If it makes you feel angry, great. If you see yourself in it, or if it makes you feel less alone, great.
Q. “Girls” is written for women, by women. What do you think or hope that men will take away from it? A. I’ve been surprised that more people haven’t asked this question, because it feels like a great one. A lot of the people who have seen the show so far are men. The male executives at HBO have seen it, and they are responding to it. It may be because there are nooks and crannies of female friendships that they didn’t know about. There are many men out there who watched all of “Sex and the City.” They will admit it under cover of darkness, but if you make a reference — you say “Smith,” and they know what you’re talking about — you can call them out on it, and I think that’s great. [Williams’s HBO entourage and mother, who are waiting patiently while Allison gives WEEKEND this interview, politely make noises indicating Allison has to go soon. Allison insists she can answer another few questions.]
Q. Are you sure? If you have to get back to New York … A. It’s fine. I’m going rogue. Q. Maverick. A. This is my Palin moment. Q. On “Sex and the City,” there were characters who were “sex-positive” — who would have sex for sex’s sake. At least in the first episode, the sex shown on “Girls” is uncomfortable. Do any of the characters on “Girls” have a good, exclusively physical relationship? A. Yes. Some of the characters do, some don’t. Each of the characters has a different sensibility with regards to sex. Q. “Girls” has already generated articles and opinion pieces in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and New York Magazine. What do you hope the social impact of the show will be, if anything? A. I hope it gets groups of people watching it together — friends of all genders, ages, and backgrounds in a room. I think so much of the digital age, and the way we live and absorb media and culture today, is so individualized. It happens alone and in front of a laptop. The great thing about television is it’s one of the few forms of media left that people can sit down, watch together and then discuss. I hope the show creates discussion, and I hope there are girls out there who see themselves in us. Contact CORA LEWIS at email@example.com .
Fence Club // 4:00 p.m.
Getting a job
If you’re like us, you’re used to doing unpleasant things for free. In the real world, you can do unpleasant things and get paid for it!
YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 2012 · yaledailynews.com
TIME FOR A STUDENT RESPONSE COMMITTEE? YCC FROM PAGE B3 elected officials.” “They try to evaluate student opinion quantitatively for every issue, but that has marginal returns, because more and more people get tired of responding to surveys,” he added. “There’s no one solution, and that’s where town halls and campus-wide discussion events come in.” Pannell said she would have liked to see more groups outside the YCC, such as athletic teams and the Women’s Center, brought in to work with the committees. That same policy was suggested by Rustin Fakheri ’12, who unsuccessfully ran against Levin last year. However, Gordon claimed that YCC members’ involvement with other organizations may enable them to identify specific issues those groups might want to lobby for, Gordon said. “Outside the [Executive Board], most of the 24 YCC members have some other activity or commitment that is a larger part of their Yale experience than YCC,” he added. “What this means is that the members of the council tend to be pretty well informed about what students are talking about.” In addition, some student groups have approached the YCC to work on specific issues, Levin said, citing the example of the LGBTQ Co-op and its involvement in the push for gender-neutral housing.
tiple times, and seen no followthrough on the YCC end. “There are much better advocates to the administration than the YCC,” said Skilton, citing specific administrators responsible for certain issues, and arguing that, were she to have “a huge problem” as a queer person, she would approach Maria Trumpler, the director of the Office of LGBTQ Resources. Murphy who ran against Levin for president and served on the YCC for two years, said it ”killed” him to see Co-op members present to the YCC committee and then have council representatives not discuss their decisions’ implications thoroughly enough. Repeated attempts to engage the YCC, and the limited response she received, Skilton said, have convinced her that the council is not the right forum for her to push for reform. Skilton’s sentiments were echoed in interviews with other leaders on campus. The YCC often is not the first port of call for student organizations attempting to effect policy changes on campus. Nia Holston ’14, political action chair of the Black Student Alliance at Yale, said she would not approach the YCC over support for advocacy issues because the idea would never occur to her. Fakheri said student groups can often go to the administration directly with many of their concerns; Gentry, in his interview, made a similar point.
THE YCC IS A VERY CONCILIATORY BODY,” HE ADDED. “THEY WANT TO GET CHANGE, AND IT’S EASIER TO GET SMALL CHANGES IF THEY’RE VERY POLITE AND VERY NICE ABOUT IT.
OTHER, BETTER RESOURCES — ELSEWHERE
Today, the LGBTQ Co-op is looking for different allies for its advocacy efforts, in large part because of a disenchantment with the YCC. Speaking about her attempts to challenge the reintroduction of ROTC to campus because of the program’s stated exclusion of transgender students, Amalia Horan Skilton ’13, a LGBTQ Co-op board member, said she has brought up the ethical issues surrounding the question mul-
F R I D AY APRIL 13
Yoshi Shapiro ’11, a former cocoordinator of the Co-op, said the YCC was “pretty involved” in the passage of the first proposals for gender-neutral housing, and helped engender support for the idea among diverse groups on campus. “When the Corporation blocked it for a year, there was a huge student outcry,” Shapiro recalled. “A lot of it was people in the LGBTQ community, but a lot was other people, and part of the reason why so many other people got involved was because the YCC helped make it an issue.” While praising the YCC in that specific instance, she was clear about how organizations like the Co-op function: on the basis of opportunity and the strength of their contacts at any given point in time. “Sometimes, your best connection is to talk to your YCC rep,” Shapiro said. “But I also think that if you maybe know the director of the office of LGBTQ resources, and your group has an issue, sometimes that’s who you’ll go to.”
“The YCC has been able to bring up any issue and present it to any committee that’s out there, because they can do that — any student group can do that,” Gentry said. And with that option open, negative experiences with the YCC can mean that groups simply choose not to take a direct path to administrators. Croughan said that, under administrations prior to those of Gordon and Levin, “the only exposure some groups had to the YCC was when it made a decree that impacted [their] life, or didn’t approve [their] reservation.” Brodsky said she did not even consider seeking YCC support for the Title IX complaint because the council seemed to her to be less of an advocate for student voices than a student extension of the administration. Speaking specifically in reference to the Title IX complaint, Syed said the council had to consider student support for issues, and could not take steps if they would be seen as “political.” “We couldn’t say it unless the Corporation and the administration could say it,” he added. “The student body has been split over the sexual misconduct question; Broad Recognition and the Women’s Center have made very good proposals, and I personally agree with them, but the YCC can’t.” But Skilton said the YCC must also recognize problems that are tied not to what all Yale students but to specific policy changes that could make the Yale experience better for some students. She added that tackling points of contention, such as Yale’s policies towards transgender students, is also part of managing and bet-
tering the student experience on campus. “The YCC can be a voice for students with the administration on issues on which [Yale] has decided not to move, such as Yale HEALTH providing comprehensive transrelated care to all employees but deciding that students do not get that medical care,” Skilton said. “There’s no reason not to be.” Nethercut said the YCC must present students with larger issues, such as financial aid, YaleNew Haven relations or Yale investments, as it has the “voice and power” to do so. She suggested forums, discussions and polls as potential ways for the Council to engage students about these “deeper issues and bigger ideas.” Citing the question of UCS becoming more accessible to central campus, Skilton said the YCC can often choose to focus on matters that “affect [her] Yale experience a little bit,” but that these problems pale in comparison to an issue that affects students’ college experience, such as a student income contribution that requires students on financial aid to work multiple summer jobs and the denial of health care to trans students. There’s a reason for this, Murphy said, secure in the Davenport Dive, the heart of the residential college that formed the core of his presidential campaign. “The YCC is a very conciliatory body,” he added. “They want to get change, and it’s easier to get small changes if they’re very polite and very nice about it — summer storage is not a philosophical change, it doesn’t question values.” How that affects Yale at large is a cause of concern for Nethercut, who is currently trying to involve 500 students in a Students Unite Now march for jobs on April 25. “It only contributes to what’s already a high level of apathy on this campus when the student governing body is unwilling to tackle issues that are really weighty and substantive,” Nethercut said.
An image problem is another significant reason student organizations view the council as peripheral to their efforts, some YCC insiders said. “There are broader Yale cultural issues, like some aversion to your classic type-A high school go-getter-type people that students associate with their high school student governments,” Croughan said, hastening to add that he believes that stereotype is incorrectly applied to the YCC. Pannell said student organizations on campus are likely to view the YCC as attracting a certain type of individual, which can become a self-fulfilling prophecy
and result in the council not necessarily being representative of the student body. “I don’t remember if we ever had an athlete,” she said. Because a large proportion of YCC members do have high school student government experience with experiences like organzing dances, Fakheri said, they are often oriented towards the events part of the YCC’s traditional events-policy divide. To him, paying attention to those events is “legitimate, very tangible and usually successful.” Still, he added, student organizations with specific causes attract another kind of person, who may be more “gung-ho” about pushing for change, and more willing to put in the energy and time to bring about parituclar reforms. To Croughan, it seems that YCC committees’ focus depends on the priorities of the representatives on that specific body. He proposed boosting that representativeness, again with individuals from across campus organizations. But the YCC’s image and perception on campus are a barrier to that development. “What Rebecca Taber gave the YCC was both a blessing and a curse,” Fakheri said. “She made it a much more legitimate organization … but what she also did in legitimizing it was make it a position people wanted for the sake of another laurel.” Perhaps, he added, if the YCC were seen as less official and “legitimate,” it could be more effective. “I would love it to be an organization where the people who run are the people who are genuinely interested in specific initiatives,” Fakheri said. He floated the idea of a YCC comprising representatives of different student organizations, a concept Nethercut discussed as well. She said that she believes the YCC would pay attention if students were to rally together in larger numbers and create a bigger stir. Yet, Nethercut added, “the problem becomes then that if you can mobilize and organize enough students to get noticed, why even go through the YCC?” If one reimagines the YCC as a student-driven coalition of interests, it could actually be the ideal forum for activists like Nethercut, who said that students’ otherwise-powerful voice can be much less effective when splintered across various organizations. “It becomes less defining, less powerful and, ultimately, less effective,” Nethercut said. “If we can unite under one organization, the possibilities for change are right here.”
WHO GIVES A FLYING VOTE?
The YCC might not be that organization. But considering the state of activism and student protest at Yale, it’s doubtful whether any group will or can be. Mac Herring ’12 has spent years organizing Yalies. She managed Alderwoman Sarah Eidelson’s ’12 campaign last semester; she became involved with the nowdefunct Undergraduate Organizing Committee her freshman year. And sitting at Blue State on a sunny afternoon, after half an hour of off-the-record straight talk, she said that she is uncertain about the capacity of Yale students to change the status quo. “Yale’s a really static place,” Herring said. “It’s really hard to articulate these things, because students don’t talk to each other about issues like class and financial aid packages.” She continued: “We do not have a space within this institution to articulate our discontent.” And that’s what she and Nethercut have seen the UOC and Students Unite Now, its new incarnation, as being able to do. But as for the prospects of such developments coming through the YCC, student advocates both on and outside the council spoke about its limitations with a certain weariness. What’s stopping students from making the trek to that meeting, or even putting it on their Google Calendars, seems to be the way they think. “It’s almost not the YCC’s problem; it’s other students not holding them accountable for what they’re doing,” Nethercut said. To her, it seems that Yalies have a sense of “complacency” around larger issues. “Take Yale-New Haven relations,” she suggested. “Everyone will say they want them to be better, but how many are actually telling their student representatives to do something about these things? I’d love to know how many students have actually talked to their reps about the big issues that need to be discussed.” If students were to propose that the council tackle such problems, Fakheri said he believes YCC members would sit up and take notice. Skilton is not so sure. “There’s not a sense of what the problems are because people don’t want to talk about them,” she said. “It’s a culture of silence, right? … It’s a cultural problem. And the YCC is not innocent.” And yet, according to Syed, as intimidating as the YCC may seem to outsiders, it is “literally just people in a random room in WLH or LC.”
Presidential candidates at the 2011 YCC debates
Contact AKBAR AHMED at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Yale Cabaret // 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. A show that promises most definitely not to be mundane and most hopefully to be incredible.
// JENNIFER CHEUNG
Google Art Project
This virtual museum has had a slow start, but if it’s good enough for the YCBA, it’s good enough for us.
YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 2012 · yaledailynews.com
DOCUMENTARY, THE CREATIVE VS. THE POLEMIC // BY ALEC JOYNER
Andrew Grace doesn’t like documentary films very much. So he told 30-some people Wednesday at a workshop in Kroon Hall — a workshop he was conducting on documentary filmmaking. Making documentaries is what Grace does for a living. He had come to New Haven to promote his new movie “Eating Alabama,” which was screened Tuesday night at the Yale Environmental Film Festival. So why his disdain for documentary filmmaking? Grace doesn’t actually dislike the documentary film form itself. Much to the contrary, he’s in love with it: “Documentary,” he said, “is just an endlessly fascinating exploration for me.” What he’s worried about is where, in the age of Michael Moore and Morgan Spurlock, his beloved form is headed. “People have started to associate documentary filmmaking and advocacy,” he told me just before the workshop began. “When audiences begin to expect that every documentary they watch will be for or against something, it changes that medium from a medium of art to a medium of propaganda, and I think that’s enormously dangerous.” Grace, who has a background in creative non-fiction
writing and an MA in American Studies, considers himself a “personal essayist” in his film work. In projects like “Eating Alabama,” which he described as “my story and the story of my granddaddy and my family… trying to figure out our relationship to the land,” he’s trying to keep alive the notion that art and storytelling have just as much of a place in documentary as social justice and advocacy: “The creative” need not be overshadowed by “the polemic.” For Grace, creativity is inextricable from personal connection to both form and content. Perhaps the central point he stressed to the aspiring filmmakers at the workshop was the importance of making films on a personal, human scale. Keeping things personal, Grace explained, allows a filmmaker to find a subject worthy of attention and investment. “Only a story you truly care about and have a unique take on will sustain you through the deep and dark nights of making a film,” he said. He believes that non-fiction filmmaking at its best is highly subjective and interactive; among his
// THE ENVIRONMENTAL FILM FESTIVAL AT YALE
documentary heroes are Frederick Wiseman and the Maysles brothers, whose careers subverted the cinéma vérité idea that the filmmaker should be a mere “fly on the wall.” Making apologies to any anthropologists in the room, Grace said that h e “reject[s] the
objectivity that ethnography presupposes” and values “the input of the subject.” He does his best, he said, to “let people main-
‘Eating Alabama’ one small farmer at a time
tain their own dignity.” Grace was quick to note that a personal approach does not preclude commitment to social activism. He currently teaches a year-long class at the University of Alabama called Documenting Justice, and his very first film, which he made when he was a college student himself, told the story of a young man negotiating Alabama’s parole system. A film may or may not have a sociopolitical agenda; in Grace’s view, that shouldn’t be the point. He acknowledged that contemporary filmmakers can use the trendy “documentary equals advocacy” idea to their advantage: with “Eating Alabama,” he
“duped [his] funders a little bit” by hiding his family story behind hot-button issues of local food and sustainability. But throughout the workshop, he insisted that good documentarians care about process over product, means over end. “Young filmmakers [need] to understand… that the process is important,” he said. “With inexpensive digital production technologies, there is a lot of room for mistakes.” Learning from mistakes and being open to unexpected growth and change, he explained, is how he got where he is today. “One of the first things I learned was to be really courageous… to know that you don’t
F R I D AY APRIL 13
Contact ALEC JOYNER at email@example.com .
‘Surviving Progress’ with primeval brainpower, a dim decree // BY ALICE BUCKLEY “Surviving Progress” is not a film for first dates or one where you can stuff your face with popcorn and walk out of the theater wearing a big smile and feeling pleased about the future of humanity. Quite the contrary, the film examines the economic, technological and environmental cost of “progress” in our modern, American society and offers a grim decree: Our contemporary technological advances are far outstripping our primeval brainpower, and as a consequence we are hurtling towards a catastrophic societal collapse. The film opens and closes in a primate research lab where we observe two chimpanzees attempting to balance yellow building blocks, mimicking the very experimentation we are engaging in with the development of civilization. Despite its doomsday message, the film is an entirely engaging and stunning cinematic experience. The documentary is full of stimulating and eloquent interviews with such figures as Jane Goodall, Margaret Atwood, Stephen Hawking and Colin Beaven, all of whom offer provocative insight into the meaning of progress, our human responsibility and the future of society. In addition to these interviews, spectacular cinematography documenting mega-cities, Amazonian
// BY JOY SHAN
Against shots of pastures and wheat fields, Andrew Beck Grace narrates a story that intertwines history, culture, politics and a bit of self-exploration. “Eating Alabama” documents Grace and his wife Rashmi as they embark on a seemingly simple mission: for one year, they will only eat food from Alabama farms. But to those viewers who hear this premise and expect this documentary to be a self-righteous filmmaker’s homage to “simpler times,” a surprise is in store. From the opening scene of Grace, a hunting novice, trying to take down a deer, “Eating Alabama” delivers humor. As they try to find and cook locally sourced meals, Grace and his wife, both from the suburbs, encounter a variety of pratfalls ranging from chaotic road trips scouring the state for farmer’s markets to a bleakly comical look at a chicken slaughter. Rather than over-romanticizing their goal, Grace and his wife, with their droll humor, honestly portray the difficulty of living and eating the way their grandparents did in the past. This idea of returning to the past points to the larger goal of Grace and Rashmi — to explore a simpler lifestyle, to close the distance between the meal and the people involved in its origins. If this sounds like idealism with a dash of naiveté, there is a reason. We follow Grace as he discovers that perhaps he was not asking the right questions. A more complex look at the culture of food in the South emerges as he discov-
know everything about [a story] and to proceed into that story with a real sense of determination even if that determination is, ‘I need to figure this out.’” Along with “Final Cut Pro and a camera,” Grace said, that determination is all you need. “Be selfish. Be ruthless. You’ve got to want this to happen so bad that you’re gonna lie, cheat and steal to make it happen.” After saying that, he paused, and looked over at me. “The Yale Daily News just quoted me on that, didn’t they?” Yes. Yes we did.
ers the flaws of his goal in relation to the changed times. Grace interviews people from all levels of food production and gives the viewer an up-close look at the changing landscape: farmers from his grandfather’s ilk are few and far between. Between clips of Grace and his wife on their mission, Grace also uses old film clips and photographs collected from his ancestors, a long line of Alabama farmers. In this way, the story of Grace is interwoven with the history of farming culture in the South. Taken alone, these vintage stills are beautiful: viewers will discover that “Eating Alabama” is a delight for the eye as well as the appetite. Grace can expertly set a mood and the clips of friends gathered at dusk on a patio amidst food, wine and lanterns capture an ideal: the ideal of eating close to one’s origins, of food as a way of bringing people together. For such a short documentary, “Eating Alabama” delivers many ideas. Though the film unfolds to discuss politics, economics and our changing public opinion, it is too honest and unflowery to feel like a piece of propaganda. Rather, the film is a very real look at the way the culture surrounding food has changed, and a couple’s firsthand realization that the lifestyle of their grandparents, their closeness to the land, may never be recaptured.
// CREATIVE COMMONS
Despite its doomsday message, “Surviving Progress” is an entirely engaging cinematic experience
Contact JOY SHAN at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Contact ALICE BUCKLEY at email@example.com .
Whitney Theater // 8:00 p.m. The Margolin class production. If you miss it this weekend, it will be running next weekend as well.
deforestation, Chinese industrialization and Mayan ruins keep the film continually enjoyable. The documentary is based on Ronald Wright’s book “A Short History of Progress” and, like many documentaries tackling colossal issues, it only scratches the surface of this inspiration during its 86-minute running time. The film briefly chronicles the rise and fall of many great societies, notably the Romans, the Maya, and the Rapanui of Easter Island, and uses them as mirrors to gain perspective on our own society and the devastating repetition of history towards which we are rushing. It also explores the concentration of wealth and political power, and could be argued to be a summary of the most paradigmatic, the most distilled aspects of the Occupy Wall Street movement. If there is one thing “Surviving Progress” covers entirely and indisputably, it is that we are utterly and distressingly doomed. But please don’t let this scare you away from watching it; the film serves to engage in a conversation few in our society are willing to partake in and opens up discussion for the next steps we must take. There are no easy answers in this film, there are no “An Inconvenient Truth”esque ending tips about taking shorter showers, joining Meatless Mondays and planting trees. Rather, the film is consciously complex, provocative and thoroughly unsettling.
It’s like “The Hunger Games” but Japanese and way less sentimental. Watch it when you’re angry.
YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 2012 · yaledailynews.com
THE CLOWN PRINCE OF DENMARK I have always found professional classical musicians an intriguing breed. Quite unlike pop stars and media icons, such musicians usually provide us rather narrow means to understand them. Let me be more clear: while even I know that things ended poorly between Rihanna and Chris Brown two years ago, I can’t tell you the first thing about Vladimir Horowitz’s love life. This is not to say that classical musicians are dull, uninteresting human beings. In fact, they are some of the most creative and spirited people I have ever known. I mean to say that I have come to connect with my favorite artists only through the context of their music. For this reason, Danish pianist Victor Borge is, by all means, an oddball. You see, Mr. Borge was not simply a tickler of the ivories; no, he was a stand-up comedian (and a damn good one, too). His tricks were many: one moment he was tripping all over the piano, transforming Rachmaninoff into “Happy Birthday” the next. His was a musical comedy, an art that incorporated the best bits of both improvisational comedy and musical genius. Any typical Borge
BRAD TRAVIS BACK TO THE CLASSICS concert invariably began with a stand-up routine and developed into a hodgepodge of musical vignettes laced with comedy. This Dane, in a manner of speaking, turned the tradition of Western art music on its head by making slapstick out of Beethoven. Borge’s craft was unlike anything the world had seen before, and soon after his emigration to the United States, his act rapidly grew into a sensational hit. He went on to headline his own show on NBC, collaborate with the world’s best orchestras and, just before his death, receive the Kennedy Center Honors. His path to America, however, was neither planned nor comfortable. On Aug. 28, 1940, with a grand total of $20 in his pocket and no knowledge whatsoever of the English language, Borge (at that time known as Borge Rosenbaum) stepped onto American soil for the first time. Days before, he had managed to catch the last neutral ship to depart from Petsamo, Finland, before the
Nazis commandeered it as a naval base. He had fled out of necessity: while he was giving concerts in Sweden, his native Denmark had succumbed to Hitler’s forces. Poor, alone and utterly out of place, Victor Borge thus began his new life in the United States; fortunately, he had a mean talent up his sleeve. The rest, as they say, is history. More than 50 years after he came to our country, I had the rare opportunity to see Borge perform one of his last live shows in Dallas. But instead of watching with rapt attention and guffawing at every punch line, I slept soundly through the performance. Why my father did not slap me awake I will never fathom, and I am still kicking myself 13 years later. But that’s besides the point. Why am I bothering to introduce you to a man dead more than a decade? To be honest, it’s for your own good. Borge lived to be 91 for a reason: he laughed often. As the end of the semester descends upon us, believe me when I say that his humor is helping to keep me sane. On a more academic note, I’m writing about this man because he provides a novel, engaging glimpse into
the often-inaccessible tradition of classical music – not through moving performances, but by splitting sides. He often said that “laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” How can you deny the veracity of that logic? I certainly can’t. I dare not to attempt to tran-
‘The New Jim Crow’: An absolute must-read “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander is an important book. Don’t believe me? Just ask the Baltimore Sun, which called it an “important book.” Still not convinced? Well, the Birmingham News called it “Undoubtedly the most important book published this century about the U.S.” In my opinion, this is not an exaggeration. “The New Jim Crow,” as you might guess from its title, explores the development of a new system of racial control in this country. Alexander, an associate professor of law at Ohio State University, argues that even though slavery has ended and the era of de jure segregation is over, society is still profoundly unequal for African-Americans. As Alexander writes, “We have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” Because of the War on Drugs and a devastating and unprecedented system of mass incarceration, Alexander claims, the black community has been largely relegated to the position of an “undercaste,” exactly as it was under the former system of Jim Crow. This book is an especially timely one, considering recent events such as a the Supreme Court ruling that allows police to strip search suspects in any context and the Trayvon Martin tragedy. “The New Jim Crow” starts with a useful review of racial caste systems in this country. For those who do not remember the inequities and iniquities of the former Jim Crow, African-Americans were denied the right to vote and to serve on juries; they were discriminated against when trying to obtain public housing, education, employment and welfare; they were subject to constant harassment from police; and they were harshly stigmatized. Alexander argues that every single one of these conditions still exists today for African-Americans as a result of mass incarceration. Not too long ago, many experts
F R I D AY APRIL 13
SCOTT STERN A STERN PERSPECTIVE believed that prisons were about to become a thing of the past. This was, of course, before the advent of the “War on Drugs,” which has accounted almost singlehandedly for a sixfold increase in the prison population in the last 30 years. Because of the War on Drugs and “get tough on crime” policies, the penalties for drug offenders have become exponentially harsher. Once drug offenders are released from prison, they are labeled “felons” and they can be legally discriminated against. They can be denied the right to vote and to serve on a jury; they can be legally discriminated against when trying to obtain public housing, education, employment and welfare; they can be constantly harassed by the police; and they are stigmatized. Sound familiar? The similarities between the way we treat nonviolent ex-felons and the way we treated African-Americans under Jim Crow are remarkable. But the most important similarity is that those discriminated against in the Jim Crow South and those being discriminated against now look the same. Alexander painstakingly proves that the War on Drugs has largely targeted African-Americans. Studies suggest that African-Americans are no more likely to use or deal drugs that whites (if anything, they are actually less likely), but police target innercity blacks more than any other group. Racial profiling is a widely used tool, but because of several Supreme Court rulings it is virtually impossible to challenge racist police practices. Mostly because of these practices (and racist laws that give harsher sentences to users of crack rather than powder cocaine), in many parts of this country “as many as 80 percent of young African American men now have criminal records and are thus subject to legalized discrimination for the rest of their
lives.” Once profiled and searched — often without proper consent — a person carrying drugs is most likely to plead guilty to a lesser charge to avoid jail time. But even never serving a day in jail, a convicted drug user may still be subject to all of the collateral consequences faced by those who have. And after three minor drug offenses, it is common for the offender to be given a life sentence — all in the name of being tough on crime. Of course, those most likely to be affected by “get tough” policies are overwhelmingly African-American. Who is to blame for this despicable system of mass incarceration? Alexander indicts our “colorblind” society, claiming that racial apathy is often as malignant as outright racial hatred. Instead of ignoring race, Alexander argues, we should acknowledge it. “Seeing race is not the problem,” she writes. “Refusing to care for the people we see is the problem.” The really remarkable thing about “The New Jim Crow” is that it relies so little on heartwrenching anecdotes — though there are more than enough of those. It uses facts and statistics — astonishing numbers that I never would have known existed — to prove its thesis. Alexander calls upon all Americans to work to create a new civil rights movement to combat the new Jim Crow. She acknowledges that this will not be easy, but insists upon its necessity. As influential Princeton professor Cornel West wrote in a foreword to “The New Jim Crow,” “The social movement fanned and fueled by this historic book is a democratic awakening that says we do care, that the racial caste system must be dismantled, that we need a revolution in our warped priorities, a transfer of power from oligarchs to people — and that we are willing to live and die to make it so.” Contact SCOTT STERN at firstname.lastname@example.org .
scribe Borge’s humor here, lest I seriously cheapen the effect. Fortunately, because we live in the age of technology, there’s a gold mine of Borge material on YouTube that’s calling your name. Even if your knowledge of music extends about as far as “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” Mr. Borge will find a way
Victor Borge brings slapstick to Western art music to make you laugh. I promise. Contact BRAD TRAVIS at email@example.com .
Death of a Fangirl To say that I love television is a serious understatement, but I’ve recently wondered how much of my love for television is for the actual art of storytelling and how much of it is me going all ga-ga for the actors. And, if I am just a glorified fangirl, how much of my visceral attraction towards the cast members is intended by the show’s creators? Is my beloved TV being a tease? This is the perfect time of year to be asking these questions because ‘tis the season of objectifying bodies! It’s spring and off come the clothes and out comes the longtime slumbering lust (ta-da!!). ‘Tis also the season that the most naked show on television returns to the official channel of sexy sex sex. I am, of course, talking about ‘Game of Thrones’ on HBO. The thing about sex on ‘Game of Thrones’ is that it is not a plot device for the most part. The sex is commodified and often traded for power within the dangerous game all of the characters play, so, in my opinion, the nakedness and hypersexuality of the show is justified. This is not to say that I like the sex scenes. Usually they are betwixt characters for whom I have no affection — needless to say, they don’t leave me all that hot and bothered. I am, however, concerned about how much I love and adore Robb Stark, the King of the North. He’s assertive, honorable, dangerous, noble, bearded, furry, brooding, family oriented and into vengeance. He also sports perfectly tousled curly black hair, has a dire wolf and looks like he’s about to make out with you through the screen every time he opens up his pillowy, sensual lips. In other words, I would like to write sweet, sweet fanfiction about Robb Stark. These thoughts scare me, as I genuinely love the show and hope that my reverence is due to the entire production. I want to say I’ve evolved from that 12-year-old girl who only watched the new Star Wars movies to admire Ewan McGregor. To test my fangirl maturity, I did a little experiment. I IMDB’d the actor that plays Robb Stark, Rich-
YALEDANCERS SPRING SHOW
MILA HURSEY TELE(VISION) ard Madden, to find a less famous, possibly less good show in which he’d acted earlier in his career. I proceeded to watch this show to determine a) the actual quality of the program and b) the likelihood that I would continue to watch the show due to Dick. The results were surprising. The show I chose is called ‘Hope Springs.’ It’s about four ex-convict ladies who steal a lot of dough and then botch their plan to flee to Barbados and end up running a dingy hotel in the middle of rural Scotland. It’s like ‘Sex and the City’ except with attempted murderers and arsonists and in the Highlands. Anyways, Richard Madden plays a love interest of a self-proclaimed “robber and nobber.” Yes, he was cute, but he definitely wasn’t Robb. He didn’t have the same hold on me, and he was definitely not the primary reason I continued to watch the show. Awesome lady offenders and a sassy old Scottish lady were enough to sustain my interest. The results of my study are heartening. I have matured in my fantasy crush things. I have learned to appreciate a show as it is, and not because of the sex, nudity and handsomeness of its characters. Even more to the point, the attachment I developed to Robb and the entire Stark clan is evidence of the quality of writing in the show and not just the quality of its casting. ‘Game of Thrones’ is playing with me, pulling on my heartstrings, but only because its creators understand how to construct an effective narrative. Come to think of it, I can’t think of a show that I watch exclusively for the love of an actor. Movies, sure, but that’s only two hours of my life. A TV show is a different monster. It takes heart and intrigue to keep me watching episode after episode, season after season, springtime after springtime. Contact MILA HURSEY at firstname.lastname@example.org .
55 Audobon St. // 8:00 p.m.
So many beautiful bodies, so much grace.
We will personally hug whoever manages to start up a real Tacocopter taco delivery service in New Haven.
YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 2012 · yaledailynews.com
STEP RIGHT UP AND GET SOME DYSTOPIA // BY ANYA GRENIER
BUT BENEATH THE SHOW’S GLITTERING ESCAPISM, ONE BEGINS TO CATCH GLIMPSES OF A DARKER, SADDER NARRATIVE IN THE WAY THE CHARACTERS RELATE TO EACH OTHER.
Today’s Internet: Ugly, Funny, Us // BY CINDY ENGMAN Wexler and Finley focus on the more controversial types of trolling, such as RIP trolling. Most of the audience will probably know, or know of, someone whose passing sparked hundreds of posts to their Facebook profile. Finley describes RIP trolls as “showing them how silly and harmful their [Facebook mourners’] emotional ride on each other’s pain is” by posting irrelevant or insensitive comments. Many of those commenting have little to no connection with the diseased and trolls seek to expose the superficial and harmful side to this behavior. The show does not, however, encourage the audience to accept a particular viewpoint. Instead, “Lulz” seems to explain the purpose of trolling by saying, “it’s complicated.” Trolling could be used as a joke among friends (i.e. Rainbow Wheel of Death), to promote a social agenda as with RIP trolling, or an escape from the realities of life. Youssef will hit a
S AT U R D AY APRIL 14
ances these loud, wilder segments with moments of stillness. In a particularly beautiful scene, Moonshine Miranda (Emily Reilly DRA ’13) walks across a completely silent stage, balancing on a tightrope only she can see. The mimetic skill of the cast emphasizes the power of scenes like this. The show conveys its nostalgic atmosphere with old-fashioned costumes and carnival music, while remaining grounded in a more contemporary sense of humor. The performers will abruptly break out of their histrionic, old-timey language, and switch back to modern tones with perfect comedic timing. But beneath the show’s glittering escapism, one begins to catch glimpses of a darker, sadder narrative in the way the characters relate to each other. The show creates an unexpectedly touching image of this forlorn “family,” whose dynamics do not always match the image of harmony the carnival forces them to assume. For instance, a comic exchange between two clowns (Tim Brown DRA ’13 and Chris Bannow DRA ’14) devolves into an offstage fight eventually stopped by other cast members. “Carnival/Invisible” emotionally involves the audience most in these vulnerable moments, though they are often fleeting. In a lyrical soliloquy, Moonshine Miranda describes the troupe’s nomadic lifestyle, saying, “We come, we go. We are temporal like weather and temporary like weather … like you, like you, like you,” pointing to individual members of the audience. However, when it comes time to reveal the nature of the cast’s optimistic “great to come” near the end of the show, “Carnival/Invisible” takes a grotesque and violent turn. The ringleader and his girl Dustbowl Diana (Hannah Sorenson DRA ’13) waltz together, engaging in a disturbing conversation in which they fantasize about violently massacring all the opponents of their utopian fantasy. The pair presents this vision for obliteration and destruction as the only path to their dream, abruptly changing the tone of the production. “Carnival/Invisible” presents a gripping, yet not entirely comfortable, portrait of both its cast and a specific time in American history. But despite its almost desperate attempts to draw the viewer in, the troupe’s promise to the audience that “there is room under this tent for you” ultimately rings eerie and hollow. Contact ANYA GRENIER at email@example.com .
// ZOE GORMAN
A concept musical that will challenge your use of social media websites, “Lulz” explores the intentions and consequences of Internet trolling. The show removes the cleancut image of Google and Facebook to show the grittier, darker face of the Internet in the intimate setting of the Calhoun Cabaret. Divided into two parts, the musical opens with a comical introduction to the minds of Internet trolls. But when trolls step away from their laptop screens in part two, “Lulz” tugs at your heartstrings. Brennan Caldwell ’12 and Sharif Youssef ’14 give emotional performances as trolls who use the Internet to escape their personal problems. Ben Wexler ’12 brought playwright Cory Finley ’11 on to write the book for Wexler’s senior project. If you aren’t quite sure what “trolling” is, you’re not alone. But if you’ve ever been “Rick Rolled,” then you have fallen victim to their tactics, even if unknowingly.
Ringleader Barker Masterful Majestic (Merlin Huff DRA ’14) begins by proclaiming the Yale Cabaret’s new production, “Carnival/Invisible,” a show to relieve all cares. The show, though captivating in its gaudy portrayal of a carnival’s energy, leaves the audience more conflicted than carefree due to its distinctly unsettling undertones. “Carnival/Invisible” is loosely based in the tradition of American nomadic tent shows, which, according to the Yale Cabaret’s website, “were as much social/education events as they were performances” and had their own religious and political agendas to proselytize between acts. In “Carnival/Invisible,” this takes shape through the overbearing ringleader preaching to the audience about a vague future paradise. The cast describes this dreamland, which they repeatedly refer to as “the great to come,” in the overblown, nearly cultish style of a turn-of-the-century religious movement. The performers ask the audience to forget everything that is “out there” and immerse themselves in the show’s constantly changing, madcap world. They speak to an audience they know is broken, bored and in need of healing, purporting not only to provide a temporary distraction, but also to reveal the secret to the audience’s salvation by the end of the show. “Carnival/Invisible” follows the structure of a variety show, with the ringleader walking on and off the stage to announce the various acts and to establish order over the occasionally chaotic scene. The interior space of the Yale Cabaret, small and intimate like the inside of a tent, allows the audience to sit on all sides of the stage, emulating the vaudeville shows that inspired the production. The players circle around, personally engaging each audience member. The cast of “Carnival/Invisible” demands, to the point of coercion, that the audience participate in the manic action. The actors run up to audience members to shake their hands, ask them to chant out loud and invite them to sing along. The performers’ energy is as relentless as it is captivating to watch. The various acts, in turn funny, charming and occasionally vulgar, do not follow each other in any narrative order. The actors make faces, dance, sing and bark like seals. They tell crude jokes and absurd new fables. The show effectively bal-
soft spot with audiences as a man who trolls to cope with his mother’s illness. But what happens when trolling goes too far? The second half of the musical tackles the anonymity of the Internet and the public persona of trolling. When one troll takes his harassment offline, other trolls worry that the implications of one bad seed will ruin the Internet. Concrete rules for Internet conduct seem to be a troll’s worst nightmare. Caldwell portrays a pre-Facebook trolling purist whose battle with drug addiction is revealed as trolling gains a public profile. “Lulz” will leave you wondering why the Internet is losing its anonymity and what the consequences will be. Ethan Heard ’06 DRA ’13 directs fast-paced but sometimes excessively short scenes to focus on each storyline. Narrative arcs for each character have been sacrificed to centralize the production’s focus on trolling. These short vignettes
“THE TSUNAMI AND THE CHERRY BLOSSOM”: A SCREENING
Whitney Humanities Center Auditorium // 1:00 p.m. This is a film about renewal after hardship; a “visual haiku.”
evoke emotion but fail to form connections with characters. This draws attention to the insensitivity of trolling, as Youssef’s trolling friends try to “lighten the mood.” For a musical discussing the tech age and the Facebook generation, the production is relatively low-key. Projectors make use of the panoramic nature of the stage. The viral videos and Facebook chat employed by the production aren’t overpowering, but clever and entertaining. Adding more projections might have made the sparse set more memorable. Fortunately, the cast fills this void with a colorful, humored performance. Mark Sonnenblick ’12 will have audiences in stitches with his witty lyrical commentary. The musical’s message to audiences comes from one of his songs — “don’t be afraid to laugh,” even as the musical takes you somewhere dark in its depictions of trolling. “Lulz” will run in the Calhoun Cabaret at 6:30 and 10 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday. Contact CINDY ENGMAN at firstname.lastname@example.org .
// ZEENAT MANSOOR
Actors in “Lulz” perform as Internet trolls.
WEEKEND RECOMMENDS: Checking the Yale Arts Calendar
If you’re like us, you’re used to doing unpleasant things for free. In the real world, you can do unpleasant things and get paid for it!
YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 2012 · yaledailynews.com
Rapper, modernizer, atypical 21-year-old // BY YANAN WANG
itty Scott MC is a 21-year-old hip hop musician who has attracted attention from the music industry for her skillfully orchestrated and lyrical raps. Born in Michigan but raised in Orlando, Fla., she began creating hip hop music when she was 14 years old. In 2010, Scott garnered praise for an online video featuring her freestyling Kanye West’s “Monster.” She gave her breakout performance a year later, at the BET Hip Hop Awards Cypher. Known for boom bap, a style of hip hop characterized by a hard bass drum and snapping snare, the rapper helped found an independent music movement called “The Boombox Family.” The grassroots group creates organic and lyrical hip hop that conveys a social message. Last year, the rapper that some in the media now call a “femcee” also released a mixtape entitled “The Cassette Chronicles,” a record meant to serve as a prelude for the upcoming “Boombox Diaries Vol. 1” EP slated for release this summer. As she continues working, Scott continues to win acclaim, recently being named one of GlobalGrind’s “Favorite Up-And-Coming Female Rappers”. She will be performing at Fence Club on High Street Friday night. WEEKEND spoke with Scott about her inspirations, being both a “homebody” and a rapper, and the future of hip hop.
A. I make message-driven, organic, boom bap, hip-hop, human soundtrack music. Q. When did you get started in rap and why were you inspired to do it? A. My interest in hip hop and rap stems from being outspoken — I always have something to say. It began as something that was therapeutic, but then I realized that I can make a real impact with my art. It was after that that I became more focused, and I wanted to use art to change the community around me. Around the time that I was 17 years old, I started getting into music for reasons that were bigger than myself. Q. Considering your concern for the community around you, what central themes or social issues do you discuss most often in your music? A. Definitely women and the problems that we, as women, universally have to deal with. I also talk about families and home life. Personally, I’ve also dealt with my fair share of homelessness, asthma and anxiety.
My music is all about things that I’ve had intimate experiences with — the things that I feel like I can shed a light on and give a voice to. Q. How has your music evolved from when you first started out in the industry? A. Well, I’m currently wrapping up the “Boombox Diaries, Volume 1” EP, which is a piece of work that shows a lot of growth for me as an artist. The subject matter is definitely more intimate — I’m getting more personal with my fans. I’m trying to show people the girl behind the bars. Now it’s not about external success and bravado, but rather just speaking to my audience. I’m also trying to get out of this ’90s boom bap phase. In the beginning it was about paying homage to a golden era, but now I am trying to show people that I can progress hip-hop culture without diminishing what was done in the past. Q. Can you describe the process you go through while writing your rap songs? A. Recently, I’ve learned to create under all sorts of circumstances. This is a new thing for me, though,
Q. What contemporary hip-hop artists inspire you, and in what direction do you see hip-hop going in the coming years? A. I really like people like Action Bronson, Homeboy Sandman and Big K.R.I.T. They are a part of the slew of modern artists that is trying to move hip-hop forward into a new stage. We are currently in a transitional period;
I AM VERY EXCITED TO BE A PART OF THIS NEW WAVE, THIS NEW GENERATION OF THINKERS AND CREATORS.
Q. How would you sum up your style of music?
be able to produce something when they are called upon to do so.
because it used to always be very personal. I used to always be in an isolated setting with just me and my laptop. That’s still the best thing for me, but because of the demands of the career, I’ve had to adapt to writing in different spaces — in the car, on the plane, over the phone. It’s nice to not have a fixed process and to know that I can create whenever I need to. When it comes to the business aspect of music, it’s important for artists to
we’re growing up more than anything else. A lot of boundaries are being pushed in the way that people buy and sell music, and that affects hiphop. I am very excited to be a part of this new wave, this new generation of thinkers and creators. Q. What do you think of people who question the legitimacy of hip-hop and rap in general? Is this sceptical attitude less prevalent today?
A. That attitude is definitely still present in certain places. I remember having a conversation with my manager just the other day about how I sometimes feel reduced when I am not regarded as an artist or as an emcee, because, to some people, hip-hop isn’t a real art form. We’ve been stuck in a certain mentality, in a certain sound, in a certain trend for a long time. A lot of hip-hop is celebratory — this attitude is from a time when the concept of being able to pay your bills and feed your family using your art was fairly new. And while I do think that it is important to celebrate struggling people who have made it, we need to move out of this “bling, bling look at me” era. In the past, rap has always been presented to the public as something that is one-sided and political and moneydriven. It is slowly growing now to be respected as street poetry and as a voice for disenfranchised youth. Q. You’re only 21 years old, yet you’re already working as a professional musician. What is this kind of life like? A. I don’t have much downtime. I’m a homebody as it is, so when I do have spare time I just roll up on my couch and watch television. There are few times when I’m not going to a meeting or recording or doing a photo shoot or on the road doing a show, so it’s not the most stable of schedules. On the other way, it’s also awesome in that way, because I never know what’s going to happen next month. I don’t think I have a typical 21-year-old life. I am thinking of this as a chance for me to work hard and put in my time so that I can play harder later. Contact YANAN WANG at email@example.com .