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WEEKEND // FRIDAY, APRIL 5, 2013

Yale’s Big Break Seventy alums dish on the trials and triumphs of life in show business. By CYNTHIA HUA. Page 3

EROTIC

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EDUCATION

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ERAS

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THE DRAMAT SHAKES IT UP

A WHOLE NEW WORLD OF TEACHING

GOODBYE ’80s, HELLO ’90s

Patrice Bowman gives us the scintillating details about this year’s production of “In The Next Room (or the Vibrator Play).”

Looking for some schooling, at no cost? Isaac Stanley-Becker takes the Free Skool for a test drive.

Vanessa Yuan examines whether Crushes & Chaperones will replace Safety Dance as the pop culture mainstay in Yale’s calendar.

// ANNELISA LEINBACH


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YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, APRIL 5, 2013 · yaledailynews.com

INTROSPECTIVE // BY ISABELLA HUFFINGTON

Beginning at 12, I internalized a truth I came to see as universal: Extroverts were better than introverts. I was on the losing team. I was the unfrosted side of a Frosted MiniWheat. I had a simple choice to makepretend to be an extrovert or fail. So I pretended. I didn’t pretend well, mind you. Acting has never been my forte, though I would have been loath to admit that during my fifth grade’s rendition of Hamlet in which I played the ever-so-pivotal part of the gravedigger. It was during that performance that I learned two important things: There’s really such a thing as a small part and that I was an introvert.

I WAS THE UNFROSTED SIDE OF A FROSTED MINI-WHEAT.

MADISON/KAHOE

Our society exalts the extrovert, while trying to course-correct the introvert, the way teachers used to shame lefties into becoming righties. From the time we start school, we are taught that there’s a right way and a wrong way not only to be a student, but to be a human being. The right kind of person is gregarious, outgoing and flourishes in social situations. The wrong kind of person is shy, introspective and more comfortable by themselves. We prize talking over listening, leading over supporting and external over inner validation. In middle school, my report cards began to read like bad fortune cookies. I was told I needed to learn to speak up and speak more

and speak louder. And so I did. And I’m not saying these aren’t important tools, but for many people, including myself, that was not my natural way of being. And when introverts are taught to be extroverts, they start to see their introvert side like the bad side of their face — the side Tyra Banks tells aspiring models to never ever show to the camera. It’s not just at school that introverts are encouraged to change. It’s in social situations as well. I’m probably the only person in my middle and high school who never went to one school dance. That sounds rather sad, but it wasn’t. The simple fact was that I didn’t want to go. But saying you don’t want to go to a school dance was a social faux pas that even I wasn’t foolish enough to make. (And I was rather liberal with my faux pas in high school. Like when, much to my sister’s chagrin, I wore a wig which looked kind of like Hannah Montana’s but faker to school for a week. What can I say? I was having a bad hair week.) So I lied about why I wasn’t going to the dance. Along with being a bad actor, I’m a rather terrible liar. One year, I said I was grounded, which would have been a passable lie, except that my mother is about as dictatorial as Neville Longbottom. // MADELEINE WITT

You Said It!: Voices Against Grade Chang // BY CALEB MADISON AND CODY KAHOE

Yesterday, the Yale student body took to the streets to voice opposition to proposed grading changes that would convert Yale’s grading system to a 100-point scale with specific grade distribution. In order to capture the various points of view making up this opposition, we also took to the streets to record these voices. ***

“I know you won’t be D—isippointed F you come C “Toes of the Heart” (Agnew’s heartbreaking classic about a boy born without hands into the tenement slums of 19th century New York to a mother without feet) at the JE Theater this weekend, for my debut as Associate Sound Designer! It’s going to be A—mazing! ” -Tripp Hunt ’13, Theater Studies major, Facebook status

“I think American grading doing all the wrong right now. In my province, when you write good paper you get one pebble. If you save enough pebbles, you go to Andrei and trade in for brick. Who knows! Twenty, thirty years, maybe you build house. I almost have house!” -Andrzejek Kzrlsatkpjk ’16, international student from former Soviet Socialist Republic

“Look, I think even if you don’t quite seem to fit the part for a grade, if you’re famous enough, you should totally get it.” -Paul Giamatti, Hamlet[?]

LAST SEMESTER, I GOT A D. I ACTUALLY KIND OF LIKED IT.

“If a student is too mainstream or poppy or safe or pandering or cutesy or a new Radiohead album, assign that student a random number between 2 and 6 (to the tenths place of course). But if the student is really interesting or experimental or ironically urban or has a unique subgenre, then I think you can give them Best New Student.” -Pitchfork Media

“If she’s in my class, she’s automatically a 10 out of 10.” -Harold Bloom, Sterling Professor of Humanities “Student’s really small? Give him AAA. A little bigger? AA. Little bigger than that? Definitely a C. Anything over that’s a D. That’s how it’s always been for me.” -Duracell battery found on Cross Campus “If American Imperialists give them an F, we will give a D! If US Oppressors give them a C, we will give a B! Our fearless leader Kim Jong-Un will never surrender! That’s how it’s always been for me.” -Kim Jong-Un, Supreme Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea

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“I’ve actually put a lot of thought into grading policy reform at Yale, and I think most studies on grade inflation would suggest—AHHHHHHAKLFJADMS;LFJ A;SEAKJ;ASK;FA!!!!!” -Kevin Ware, YouTube sensation

“Last semester, I got a D. I actually kind of liked it. I was hoping that I could keep getting Ds, in various areas. Is there anyone who would be willing to give me another D?” -Sandy Herdman ’16 “I think no matter what you should get an F if for JE Screw you set your roommate up with a goat. It’s mean and insulting.” -Barry Zeetz JE ’12 Contact CALEB MADISON and CODY KAHOE at caleb.madison@yale.edu and f.kahoe@yale.edu .

The harshest punishment she ever gave me was once putting me in a time out when I was six, after I said I hated Lucy Williams. Hate, you see, was a banned word in the Huffington household. We didn’t hate things. We just enthusiastically disliked them. I enthusiastically disliked Lucy Williams. Another year, my excuse for not going to the dance was that I had I sprained my foot. So I spent the weekend practicing my limp. I know that part of this was that I needed to get a backbone and own up to what I did and didn’t want to do, but the other part of it was that it isn’t socially acceptable to not want to do social things: to skip a party in order to read a book, to leave a dinner early because you want to go to sleep, to not go out at all because you want time alone. And not to do these things once or twice but to do them habitually. I do them habitually, but I do them with a fair degree of shame. At Yale, the acceptable reasons for not going to things are even narrower — you must either have a midterm or the flu. I’ve never gotten the flu and my classes never seem to have midterms. So what that leaves me with is telling the truth. Contact ISABELLA HUFFINGTON at isabella.huffington@yale.edu .

Periods Are Funny HURSEY

HUFFINGTON

WEEKEND VIEWS

// BY MILA HURSEY

It’s the platinum age of television. Like, it seriously has never been this good. Still, what I seldom see in the media is what I have experienced in terms of female friendship, or even, like, female-ness. What kind of world do we live in if more than half of the writers for the second (not as good) season of “Girls” are men? Well, we get representations of female relationships that are just tropes. The bitchy mean girls, with the ditzy friend and the ugly friend. This is because of the severe lack of women in writing rooms. When we think of comedies that are accurate, insightful and hilarious representations of womanhood (hoo-rah) we think of, like, “Bridesmaids” and “The Mindy Project,” both written by some kick-ass lady folk. They’re a start, but still not enough. There are things I talk about with complete strangers, hilarious things about being female that are just not out in the world — and, specifically, not on TV: the joys of a good pillow; your vibrator purchase showing up on your parents’ credit card bill; the horrors of hair removal; and PERIODS. There is a huge reservoir of untapped comedic potential when it comes to women. I had a conversation recently with a man-person who was uncomfortable when my friends and I were joking about periods and the gross and awful things that happen to your body during pregnancy. My response? I hear a dick joke every day. Every. Single. Day. I know all of the embarrassing shit that happens to middle school boys and their uncontrollable boners. There is that hilarious risk of zipping it up in your jeans, and if a ball gets thrown in that general direction, oh my god, time to die. I get that. Writers write what they know. We are missing out by not having more women comedy writers because even though accidental erections are funny, nothing is more hilariously embarassing than a period. Seriously, half of the human race will get it. More than that, talking about it and joking about it has informed my guy friends. Did they know that some medicines’ side-effects includes spontaneous lactation? No! But it’s funny. Did they know that oral contraceptives can put you in the hospital, or, in some cases, cause you to cry uncontrollably while watching the cast of “Glee” perform on “Oprah”? No, but that’s hilarious too! And how about female friendships? There

THE FIRST ANNUAL YALE JAZZ FESTIVAL

THERE IS A HUGE RESERVOIR OF UNTAPPED COMEDIC POTENTIAL WHEN IT COMES TO WOMEN. Forget bromances, I LOVE my female friends. I’ve only recently realized how powerful sisterhood is. When I’m feeling happy, sad, apathetic, angry, sad again, I know they’ll be there and I sure as hell will be there for them (aww “Friends” reunion 2014!). My friends have encouraged me to be brave, to grow, to ask people out (because fuck it), and show maturity. Even when I don’t see them in a while and even when they are a continent away, I love my ladies; I’ve got their back. They are my advisors, my cheerleaders, my critics, my financial consultants, my heroes and my family. I am a better person for them. GIRL’S DAY. They are such a central part of my life, and how I see the world, and I know a lot of women who feel the same. If art imitates life, why don’t we see more of that, you know? It’s getting better, but until the day I see a joke about period vomit, it’s just not going to be enough. Contact MILA HURSEY at mila.hursey@yale.edu .

WEEKEND RECOMMENDS:

Multiple locations // All weekend

It starts today! Louis Armstrong is smiling from heaven.

is so much bromance everywhere I look. We’ve heard of the bromance, we’ve seen it acted out in the media. “BAND OF BROTHERS.” We see male friends competing over women, or, like, Viking warriors come together to challenge authority and raid England. And let’s compare this to what we see of female friendship, shall we? We learn that women are catty, that we talk about our friends behind their backs, and that cool girls don’t hang out with other women — we hang out with men.We watch sports with men; we enjoy potty humor with men. “THE LEAGUE.” Because why would you want to hang out with those strange, fake bitches, right?

Purity ring

That symbol of chastity, not that killingest electronic duo who made an amazing cover of Soulja Boy’s “Grammy.”


YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, APRIL 5, 2013 · yaledailynews.com

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WEEKEND COVER

life on sunset blvd. // BY CYNTHIA HUA

C

ynthia Hua, a staff reporter for the News, traveled to Los Angeles, CA over spring break and spoke with nearly 70 alumni in the entertainment industry.

Los Angeles, CA. – Seth Rogen and Zac Efron are on the set of a mock university town shooting Townies, a Judd Apatow feature about a fraternity that moves in next door to a suburban couple and the ensuing turf war between them (also starring Rose Byrnes and Dave Franco). Strains of the film’s college-town humor are rooted in the Yale, New Haven experience of the film’s cowriter and co-producer, Andrew J. Cohen ’99 (Funny People, The 40-Year Old Virgin). The comedy will be Cohen’s first ‘executive producer’ credit, the summation of thirteen years working his way up in ‘The Industry’. “That’s considered fast for this industry, but that’s not how fast I thought it would happen as a fresh-faced Yale kid. First moving out here, I was ready for a kingdom and I couldn’t find the keys at all,” Cohen laughs. “Couldn’t find them at all.” Cohen imparts his narrative of struggle to an expanding club of students every year, recent graduates who reach out to him upon starting out in Los Angeles, hoping to glean the tidbits of insider information that will help them ‘make it’ in show business. The last decade or so has seen a preponderance of Ivy League graduates heading out to Hollywood, observes entertainment veteran Walter Parkes, former head of DreamWorks. Parkes is schocked by the education levels of applicants to today’s entry-level positions, as mailroom interns and desk assistants. The search for a Big Break has become as competitive as college admissions, said longtime talent agent Bob Bookman LAW ’72 (Paradigm, CAA). Around two thousand applicants competed for forty summer internship spots at the Creative Artists Agency this year, Bookman said, an acceptance rate lower than Yale’s. The newest generation of Ivy League-educated Hollywood hopefuls is a more ambitious, more prepared lot than in the past. Bookman recalls he took his first agency position without understanding “what an agent was,” but the younger set today has access to alumni mixers and educational panels that grew out of the struggles of their predecessors. This year marks the

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decade anniversary of both Yale in Hollywood and Bulldog Productions — Yale’s undergraduate filmmaking group — and the 30th anniversary of the Yale Film Studies Center. But Parkes wonders how much these resources can really add to the prospects of those Yale hopefuls trying to break in to the entertainment industry. “What is both tantalizing and exciting about our business, and so frustrating, is this is not a clear-cut meritocracy,” Parkes said. “Therefore, those resources can be there, but I do believe they’re slightly less effectively than for other businesses.”

“FIRST MOVING OUT HERE, I WAS READY FOR A KINGDOM AND I COULDN’T FIND THE KEYS AT ALL.” WELCOME TO THE CLUB

Less than a day after actor Jeffrey Locker ’93 arrived in town in 2009, he sat at a club on La Cienega, “one of those you see on TMZ”, talking job prospects with a fellow Yale graduate as blurs of partygoers and Playboy models breezed by in the background. The mixer was one of over 50 socials, parties and mock Master’s Tea talks hosted annually by Yale in Hollywood, a networking group for alumni in the entertainment industry. Three years later, Locker has settled into a board membership with Yale in Hollywood and is part of a crowd of over 300, enjoying a March 9 lunchtime banquet and top-floor view of the Universal Studios lot at Yale in Hollywood’s 10th anniversary celebration. The table to his left, marked “Reserved,” hosts producer Bruce Cohen ’83 (Silver Linings Playbook, American Beauty), executive Gary Newman ’76 of 20th Century Fox TV, producer Howard Gordon (Homeland), as well as Mark Dollhopf ’77, director of the Association of Yale Alumni. “These are big, big Holly-

wood names,” Dollhopf emphasizes. “Our Yale alumni are movers and shakers in this industry — the access that we provide here is provided by nobody else.” A Yale graduate expects to enter the job market having amassed a strong professional network, said David Steinberg ’05, one of Yale in Hollywood’s founding members. Such an advantage is “not unfair,” he stresses, but only reasonable in a town where competition is heavy, socialization is business and trade knowledge comes at a high premium. The upsurge of online communication can take the majority of credit for the boom in alumni groups in Hollywood, starting with Harvardwood in 1999, which offer the likes of holiday parties at The W, Oscar galas at The Smith House and poolside mixers in the Hollywood Hills, each attended by hundreds of actors, agents, and aspiring entertainment moguls. With over 2,500 names signed on, Yale in Hollywood rapidly outpaced other Ivy League groups to become among the most active in the industry, as well as one of the most prolific Yale shared-interest alumni networks. The organization has most recently gone global, establishing chapters in Toronto, Hong Kong and London and is even eyeing entertainment sub-industries abroad, such as Bollywood. There is no business like show business, muses the notorious president of Yale in Hollywood, Kevin Winston, who requested his class year not be printed because it would reveal his age, which could hurt his employment opportunities in ‘The Industry.’ Winston makes it a point to be somewhere, meeting someone, at every moment, constantly “in circulation.” Lounged at a café on the Sunset Strip, dressed in his trademark “brand” of neon red, Winston is freshly recovering from a weekend of mixers at South by Southwest in Austin. The perception that LA’s party scene is excessive, he explains, is a tired notion of the East Coast, Ivy League mentality towards networking. “I wish I could teach a course for Yalies on how to network because they’re not good at it and it’s not taught at Yale — how to network LA-style,” he said. In New York, it might be popular to brag about how many hours you worked, he said. But in Los Angeles, one has to do “doubletime” — what impresses the office is a story about partying at the beach that weekend, he said, gesturing to the perpetually

sunny scenery on Sunset Boulevard, while still getting all your work done. Director James Ponsoldt ’01 (Smashed) compared Hollywood-style networking to hitting on people at a bar. In an industry that trades in relationships, going out for lunches and dinners four days a week is part of the job description for executives and producers, he said. A filmmaker’s big break could come from anybody, Winston said. That is part of the reason attendees are never turned down from Yale in Hollywood or Ivy Entertainment events because they do not have an Ivy League degree. “Who you know” often has more sway than what you know, he said. Winston currently has 1,200 friend requests on Facebook.

STARTING FROM SCRATCH

Graduates with phenomenal degrees work minimum wage jobs in Hollywood, said Jodie Foster ’85. “The thing about the film business is no one really cares where you came from,” Foster said. “It wasn’t founded by a bunch of rich kids. They’re scrappers, people in the film business.” Bookman said Hollywood’s empire builders — Goldwyn, Mayer, Warner — were workingclass, so the industry has historically attracted rejects from other fields or educational institutions. Mid-century producer Walter Wanger was one of the first Ivy League graduates to make a name for himself, Bookman added, and it is a commonly-repeated trope that “his Dartmouth degree is what held him back.” Part of the beauty of ‘making it’ in Hollywood, Foster suggested, is precisely that Yale graduates have to take the hard way in, stripped of any sense of entitlement. The majority of all alumni interviewed said their Yale degree has not been much of an asset. At a Korea-town wine bar on Mar. 12, five-time Emmy winner and Princeton graduate Rob Kutner (The Daily Show, Conan) fields questions from fellow Princeton alums, the first of which is — how much of a difference do our Princeton degrees make in this business? Kutner laughs. “No effect. Yeah, they really need a Princeton anthropology major [in Hollywood],” he joked sarcastically. “Summa cum laude to write the next Smurfs movie.” After the talk, former director’s assistant Ethan Clarke admits that he stopped wearing his Princeton shirt to work, after

GOA: A POST-COLONIAL SOCIETY BETWEEN CULTURES

// CYNTHIA HUA

Screenwriter Brandon Marick ’11 starts his days with a hot cup of tea.

Producer Jeffrey Clifford ’91 (Up in the Air, No Strings Attached) recalls moving to Los Angeles with around $1,000 and spending his first month sleeping on a friend’s couch, “networking around” for a job. Hollywood is not like investment banking where undergraduates can participate in a scheduled interview process prior to graduating and line up a job before May, said producer Jared LeBoff ’03 (Charlie St. Cloud, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World). Almost all alumni interviewed said they moved to Los Angeles or New York before being offered their first job. Film Studies professor Ron Gregg said when he puts undergraduates in touch with successful industry insiders such as Bruce Cohen or Ira Sachs, he emails Cohen and Sachs to say — give these kids the real story. “I say to them, tell [students] the brutal honesty, that there is struggle involved here,” Gregg said. “There is possibly working at Starbucks along with working on your screenplay. Almost everyone in the industry would say [they] started in the mailroom.” Screenwriter John Badham ’61 DRA ’63 (Nikita, Psych, Criminal Minds, Heroes) said the main task for interns in the mailroom, other than delivering mail, is “finding your own way out.”

PART OF THE BEAUTY OF ‘MAKING IT’ IN HOLLYWOOD IS PRECISELY THAT YALE GRADUATES HAVE TO TAKE THE HARD WAY IN, STRIPPED OF ANY SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT. JODIE FOSTER ’85

Four alumni interviewed said actors typically only act part-time while paying the rent through SAT and academic tutoring jobs, using their Yale degree to land positions at Beverly Hills private schools rather than on studio lots. The large majority of Yale alumni interviewed spent time in low-paying, menial labor positions. Nearly all alumni interviewed said they began their careers in Hollywood with a period of unemployment.

NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS

3 a.m., knee-deep in a cemetery near Pasadena, Melissa Merritt ’03 (Parenthood), who works in props, accidentally falls into a freshly-dug grave. Reflecting on gigs in graveyards and condemned hospitals, Merritt says productions, particularly the low-budget horror films where she began her career, throw filmmakers into strenuous schedules SEE HOLLYWOOD PAGE B8

WEEKEND RECOMMENDS:

Sterling Memorial Library // 8 a.m.

No, this isn’t one of Akbar’s dreams on the Layers of Oppression. It’s an international conference hosted by professor David Jackson.

realizing the school name wasn’t always received positively by his co-workers. Having ‘Yale’ on your resume is only a major asset if the person interviewing you is from an Ivy League, Bookman said, and when he or she isn’t, there’s a possible assumption that you’re pretentious. “I was a studio executive for six years and people would say behind my back — Bob, he’s an intellectual. He won’t know what will succeed,” Bookman recalls. “And Yale Law School made it hard to get a job, because people said I should go to the business side.” Writer Jade Haviland ’04 said the typical reaction to hearing she has a Yale degree is, Why aren’t you on Wall Street? What are you doing here? Although “there certainly are a lot of Yale graduates working in the legal side of Hollywood, where ‘Yale’ has a lot of cache,” jokes entertainment attorney Lois Fishman ’72. Credits, not education, is the crux of a Hollywood resume, said production designer Alan Muraoka ’80 (Sesame Street), and a liberal arts degree is hardly a relevant measurement of artistic potential. Aspiring actress Kristina Romaine transferred from Yale to the University of Southern California before her junior year in order to start taking auditions while in college. Most actors her age have not gone to college, she said, echoing multiple alumni who said college puts actors at a disadvantage by swallowing up four years of their youth.

Norway

Nordic heaven, frigid wonderland.


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YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, APRIL 5, 2013 · yaledailynews.com

WEEKEND THEATER

VIBRATORS & LAUGHS // BY PATRICE BOWMAN Whenever I see people clad in stuffy, period costumes, I expect to see one of two scenarios: either one populated by neurotic characters with repression leaking out of their ears or one of those Oscar Wilde-esque works filled with irreverence towards morals and pun-ishing (sorry!) dialogue. The Dramat’s production of “In the Next Room or the vibrator play” by Sarah Ruhl is an entertaining and, somehow, emotionally sincere combination of both, although it comes across as too light. Dr. Givings (Tim Creavin ’15) is a New England doctor who specializes in treating female hysteria. His primary tool? A pre-primitive, electrical-box-powered vibrator. Enter Mr. Daldry (Kyle Yoder ’15) and his wife Elizabeth (Marina Horiates ’15), whose hysteria has left her listless. Once Elizabeth experiences the electrical device for the first time, she’s more than eager to return for more treatments. All the while, the good doctor’s own wife, Catherine Givings (Calista Small ’14), feels overwhelmed by marriage and motherhood and also wishes to use the machine. Things get complicated when a grief-stricken wet nurse (Zina Ellis ’15) and a flamboyant artist (Paul Hinkes ’15) suffering from rare male hysteria come to join the Givings household. The use of the vibrator never fails to elicit giggles after its early introduction. Sometimes, Ruhl’s playwriting overuses the machine as a cheap joke, but, more often than not, it becomes the device which slowly peels back 19th-century notions of decency in order to reveal the marital discord and sexual repression that threaten the well-being of almost everyone in this play. At the same time, it isn’t some magic stick that makes everyone’s problems go away. It doesn’t banish Catherine’s feelings of isolation or mirac-

ulously make her more appealing to her husband. And it doesn’t make Sabrina any more passionate towards her own much older, boorish husband. But the characters slowly learn to look past what society has concealed. Concealment is a recurring theme in this play, from dialogue filled with double entendres and resentment just bubbling below the surface to the genteel yet restrictive set design and costumes. Frames and color schemes divide the set into public and private worlds, with the public consisting of the the soft, flowing colors of the parlor and the private — the space where sex is marginally more explicit — comprising the grayish walls and white sheets of the clinic. But it’s hard for anything to remain hidden in this play. The contrast between what happens in the next room and in the living room provides not only humor but also emotionally charged moments. The cast’s acting adeptly melds stuffy prudishness with self-awareness about the play’s many dirty jokes. Considering the subject matter and the fact that three of the actors — Small, Horiates and Catherine Shaw ’16, who plays the midwife, Annie — appeared in the 2013 production of “The Vagina Monologues,” I felt like I was watching the prequel to that play. Not really; this production possesses a little more diversity thanks to one cast member of color (Ellis), less man-bashing and the ability to maintain the audience’s attention well after the intermission. At first glance, Small’s character seems like a bubblegum-chewing airhead who somehow time-travelled two centuries into the past. Her talkative nature always lands her in the most socially awkward situations. She’s easy to laugh at, but Small also reveals to us a woman suffo-

cated by 19th century gender norms. It’s a tricky balance of eccentricity and of frustration, but it works. Hinke’s role as Leo Irving also stands out in for cartoonish nature, if not its depth: he’s part-ladies’ man, part-dandy and all-nut-job, with odd vocal inflections that make even the most bland sentence sound like a comedic punch-line. The rest of the characters — even Dr. Givings — are too briefly sketched to really dwell upon. While the second act definitely ups the moody drama of the play, some of the jokes should have been pushed aside for the sake of character development, especially considering the severe turns in the plot in the latter half. More dramatic room would also have deepened the impact of the show’s ending. That final scene, while appearing to be a grand answer to the play’s overall problems with communication and intimacy, leaves audiences too caught up with its dizzying freedom and its impressive beauty to realize that it is actually an incomplete conclusion to almost everyone’s stories. “The room next door or the vibrator play” doesn’t always perfectly marry comedy with drama — in fact, the laughter sticks to memory much better — but as it is, it’s a play that deserves admiration for its efforts to humanize those dour Victorian-age humans and to push for honesty in intimacy. Contact PATRICE BOWMAN at patrice.bowman@yale.edu .

// SAMANTHA GARDNER

Catherine Givings is given the vibrator.

‘Twins’ pairs talent with powerful script

Anxiety via puppet // BY YANAN WANG On a set reminiscent of a grungy Sesame Street, a green puppet named Princeton (Christian Probst ’16) sang about a question that has plagued many at our bastion of liberal arts education: “What do you do with a B.A. in English?” Such was the charm of “Avenue Q” — while performers handled colorful puppets against a backdrop of streamers and empty beer bottles, they discussed subjects that were at once compelling and familiar, candidly presenting an exploration of race and sexuality through a comical cast of misfits. The characters live in an apartment building called Avenue Q, which represents your run-of-the-mill lowcost housing complex in New York City, complete with a disillusioned superintendent — formerly the child star Gary Coleman (Dominic Lounds ’15) — and a resident pervert, Trekkie Monster (Connor

Lounsbury ’14). Princeton’s story will strike a particular chord among Yalies, many of whom fear facing the same fate as the young puppet unemployed upon college graduation and lost in the city in search of an elusive sense of “purpose.” The most impressive element of the performance is its elaborate stagecraft, choreographed to the tee by director Ian Miller ’15. The puppets allowed for a large range of characters to be played by a small set of actors, who received professional puppeteer training to prepare for their roles. Chris Camp ’16 was strong in his interpretation of Rod, a sharp-pitched, closeted male puppet whose moment of glory arrives not when he ultimately comes out, but when he delivers a stubborn and shrill rendition of the piece “My Girlfriend, Who Lives in Canada.” Miller’s chosen format of having puppets on stage alongside the actors who are voicing and controlling them // TORY BURNSIDE-CLAPP made for a complicated viewing experience. While the Puppets have sex and actors demonstrated a deft existential crises in this control in their maneuvring, weekend’s performance of Tony award-winning “Avenue Q” audience members may still find it difficult to concentrate

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on the puppets rather than on the facial expressions of the performers themselves. Nevertheless, the puppets provided ample opportunities for innovative theater, such as one scene in which a cardboard box chorus, not unlike Hercules’ five muses, sang and danced around Princeton during one of his many existential crises. Of course, “Avenue Q” is not the kind of puppet show that you would see at your community daycare center. The Yale Drama Coalition’s website cautions that the musical is intended for mature audiences, a disclaimer that proves necessary during a boisterous sex scene between Princeton and his purple paramour, Kate Monster (Anna Miller ’14). The dynamic liaison also showcased a creative, bawdy flair: the two puppets covered all the bases … and then some. Commitment, as they informed the audience, is nothing more than a mingling of the words “come” and “mitment.” On the human side, Timmy Pham ’13 stole the spotlight as a sassy Japanese therapist mysteriously named Christmas Eve. A holder of “two Master’s degrees” and zero

paying clients, Christmas Eve played the part of the everwilling confidante, spewing humorous aphorisms in between sharp-tongued admonitions. Pham’s lively scolding served as an ideal complement to the laid-back demeanor of Eve’s fiancé, a failed comedian (Jake van Leer ‘15). Amid all the sexual and political humor, the show presented a few scenes of incredible tenderness and reflection. In a heartbreaking moment for Kate Monster, she sang about the pitfalls of romance, crooning in a cracking voice, “There’s a fine, fine line between love and a waste of time.” In a closing song about the passing of the years, the characters remind their largely collegeage audience that we have it pretty good inside the ivory tower — perhaps not forever, but at least “for now.” Within its list of fleeting things, the actors sang about “Sex! Your hair! Dick Levin!” Unlike failed relationships and doomed trysts, “Avenue Q” promises to be two hours of time well spent. Contact YANAN WANG at yanan.wang@yale.edu .

// BY YUVAL BEN-DAVID I’d like to say that “The Twins Would Like to Say” is, to say the least, awesome. My high school history teacher, Mr. Nilsen, would jump at this opportunity to remind me of the dictionary definition of “awesome” — something intimidating or inspiring. God is awesome, Hitler was awesome, but Cheetos, great as they might be, aren’t awesome. Same with this play in the Yale Cabaret, co-directed by Whitney Dibo DRA ’14 and Lauren Dubowski DRA ’14. Enter the world of June and Jennifer Gibbons, fifteen-year-old twin black girls in Wales who, seven years earlier, made and held to an inexplicable pact to speak to no one but each other, to live for no one but each other. (Chasten Harmon DRA ’15 and Sarah Williams DRA ’15, as June and Jennifer, respectively, take on these roles with stern synchronicity and implosive charm.) To witness the twins’ largely uneventful lives is to bump our noses against the glass case they’ve built around themselves, to linger on their littered silences. And the sad thing about the play is that the audience’s task is essentially the burden of anyone who loves June and Jennifer: their parents, the cute guy next door and even each other. When the twins visit their psychologist, Betsy Ronson — played, with neurotic precision, by Emily Zemba DRA ’15 — she tries, as shrinks are wont to try, to shatter their glass case by invading the private journals she’s assigned them to scribble in. “June, I read what you wrote this week. Did you tell Jennifer?” June shrugs her head “no,” which itself comes as a minor shock; we don’t expect independence from these girls. So Doctor Ronson reads: “We both want to change and grow up. But we both are trapped.” Jennifer lets out a gasp at the betrayal, but ironically that sound, however nonverbal, feels like its own betrayal of the pair’s pledged silence. And the fact that as an audience we bristle at the violence of sound, any sound, from Jennifer’s mouth reveals our own betrayal as spectators: we’ve eschewed critical distance, knocked about with catharsis and come out at the other side of the looking-glass. Having been locked out of the twins’

FICRE GHEBREYESUS: POLYCHROMASIA

Contact YUVAL BEN-DAVID at yuval.ben-david@yale.edu .

WEEKEND RECOMMENDS:

ArtSpace // 5 p.m.

Captivating artwork based on Ficre’s life in America and his childhood in wartorn Eritrea.

world, we’ve assimilated its logic. But that logic hides and darts and mutates. Though they actively reject the world, when it comes to reality, the girls never really make a choice between spit-or-swallow. In a subtle way that feels utterly acute, the borders of the girls’ inner lives are constantly shifting. Two blond girls from the village, who initially teased the girls (“Dumb and deaf,” they called them) end up inside their heads, either as their inner demons, or, if you’re keen on the image, as replacement twins. With these doubles, and with their fiction — outlandish half-takes of the zeitgeist, like a story called “Discomania” — the girls seem well on their way to individuating, to finding a voice in the world or an inner truth. But it’s clear that truth isn’t a destination here; this isn’t a treasure hunt for the happy, resolved psyche. The genius of “The Twins Would Like to Say” is that it never specifies what the twins would like to say, and to whom. Ultimately, “The Twins Would Like to Say” isn’t a plot, but a tentative step in any direction. The actors, mostly from the School of Drama, are so chameleonic in character, hyper in detail and precise in emotions as to refute any notion that the play should symbolize anything; their acting stays the course of life itself. Sheria Irving DRA ’13 stands out: as the twins’ mother, she plays her forgiving character with admirable complexity, mixing fragility with a flirtatiousness that’s hard to ignore in a paradox of personality that epitomizes the inconclusiveness of the play. The play ends in two places: Jennifer on a makeshift stage, June in a corner. You can’t see both at once, nor hear both at once, but for the first time, they do speak. The fragmented scene, so small, draws no fanfare, in what’s a reminder of the play’s ability to adjust its own scale. It’s ironic that a play about two people’s emotional, physical crowdedness thrives foremost on such spatial tact. And though the twins’ tension can’t be resolved, the Cabaret brilliantly manages to decouple itself from a rigid, traditional narrative structure.

Shorts

Warm weekend, up ahead! Woooooooooo #spring


YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, APRIL 5, 2013 · yaledailynews.com

PAGE B5

WEEKEND EDUCATES

TOO (S)KOOL FOR SCHOOL // BY ISAAC STANLEY-BECKER

212 College Street is no Linsly-Chittenden Hall. It lacks the classroom building’s mammoth, marble stairwell, its luminous chandelier, its austere, oval Harkness tables. It lacks heat. Here — at the People’s Art Collective — you’re a far cry from your English section in LC 209. You’re not in for a discussion on Dante but you can still learn about literature in a class called “Art & the Poetic Function.” Maybe you’re a science person and would rather take part in “Do It Yourself Herbal Medicine” or “Fermentation,” like chemistry sans the test tubes and titration. These are just three of the 13 classes offered at the New Haven Free Skool, the first project of the fledging People’s Art Collective, which opened its doors last fall at the corner of College and Crown streets, just a block and a half from Phelps Gate. At the Free Skool, you won’t be graded on your work. You don’t have to apply and your classes don’t have prerequisites. You can take one class or all 13. And you won’t pay a dime.

WE THINK OF WHAT WE’RE DOING AT THE SKOOL AS AN INTERVENTION INTO MODES OF LIVING THAT ARE UNSUSTAINABLE OR UNJUST. Each hour of class at Yale costs roughly $100. My math is admittedly inexact: I arrive at that figure based on $42,300 in tuition and approximately 13 hours of class per week and 27 weeks of classes per year. But the exact calculation is not important. This week, I went to school for free — or skool, I should say. “The misspelling is intentional and absolutely central,” I learn from one of the school’s organizers, Diana Ofosu ’12, who founded PAC along with Kenneth Reveiz ’12 and Gabriel DeLeon ’14 last September. “The ‘k’ signifies alternative pedagogy. It makes it clear that we’re interested in a different way of learning.” I start to see what sort of learning that is when I arrive at my first Free Skool class Monday evening — Herbal Medicine.

“LIFE ELIXIRS”

I push open the glass front door to find five people seated in a circle of folding-chairs and a piano bench. As I scan the group for a teacher — it’s a collection of 20- to 40-year-

olds, three women and two men, of racially diverse backgrounds — a slight woman in jeans and a neon vest speaks up. I learn that she is the instructor, a Woodbridge, Conn. native named Diane Litwin who gained experience in holistic medicine from working on an experimental farm for two years after college. As Litwin assembles a collection of herb-infused oils, one of the students, Jackie Trickett-Sargent, tells me she’s here because of her broader interest in fermentation, something she’s been experimenting with on her own. Trickett-Sargent, a resident of East Haven, works with Yale’s Information Technology Services. As we pass around tinctures — herb-infused oils — to smell, Diane speaks of the different plants that give the concoctions their fragrance: plantain, lavender, calendula and St. John’s wort. She then turns the class loose to research the medicinal properties of each herb. The students rise from their chairs and move to the back of the room, which is outfitted with rows of unfinished wood tables folding up to white walls plastered with posters. “FOOD NOT BOMBS” a sign reads in all caps on one wall. That’s also the name of one of the Free Skool’s most popular classes, Ofosu tells me. It meets on Saturday, when students gather at PAC to cook food acquired through the week in a series of “dumpster dives.” Ofosu calls it a “food rescue and redistribution mission.” Broccoli and pie crusts are typical finds, she says, gems amid the trash outside the Trader Joe’s in Orange, Conn. They cook the meal all together back at PAC, using donated hot plates and crockpots. One of those crock-pots sits on a back table in the room as the students in Herbal Medicine flip through medicinal plant textbooks for information on the herbs, instructed by Litwin to write down each herb’s medicinal qualities on the dry-erase board hanging on the back wall. Lavender, we learn, cures headaches and insomnia and can be used to treat open sores. St. John’s wort restores nerve tissue and treats acne. As the students write up each herb’s medicinal benefits, one asks if he should avoid mixing marker colors. “Use your creative freedom,” Litwin jokes in reply. Turning from the board to a table strewn with cooking supplies, Litwin explains that all it takes to make a salve is a quarter cup of beeswax to one cup of herb-infused oil. Describing them as “life elixirs,” Litwin says she uses the salves on her face and hands when she feels like she’s getting sick. Later, she calls the oils her “friends.” “I feel like an alchemist,” one student remarks as he grates a block of

beeswax into the crock-pot filled with a cup of oil. Set over a light, the beeswax soon melts into the concoction, and we ladle it out into small glass jars that the students take home with them.

CREATIVE CONNECTIONS

At Sketch Comedy on Wednesday evening, I meet Eliza Caldwell and her five students, though, as with the Herbal Medicine, they tell me attendance in the class was once higher. According to Reveiz, 150 students are registered for the current session of the school, now in its second term. 19 teachers guide a total of 13 classes this session. Some are co-taught, such as Queer Art, Thought and Action, a course on LGBTQ issues that Reveiz leads along with a Yale Ph.D. student. “Anyone who emails us or who we think could provide something galvanizing for the community we let teach,” Reveiz tells me. Caldwell’s experience with sketch comedy comes from her participation in a college improv group at the University of Connecticut, where she went to school before coming to live in New Haven. She guides the group through a series of warm ups and exercises, as students improvise scenes of bashful children, blind dates and suicide hotline centers. At the end of the session, Caldwell lingers behind with a number of students, including Alex Lew ’15. They discuss forming a New Haven improv group and consider possible venues. Lew, who is a member of the Yale Ex!t Players improv comedy group, says he’s taking the class to learn technique — but also to make new friends. “It’s always great to get the perspective of other improvisationalists, to experiment with someone who learned their technique somewhere else,” he explains. “There’s something about doing improv all the time with a bunch of 18- to 22-year-olds who share the same cultural references based on similar backgrounds as largely uppermiddle-class Yale students. Taking this class is a really cool way to make friends with people who come from a different sort of community. Improv relies so much on trust, support and friendship.”

A NEW WAY OF SCHOOLING

The dearth of community centers in New Haven has not gone unnoticed among city leaders. Ward 1 Alderman Sarah Eidelson ’12 is currently working on plans to revamp the Goffe Street Armory into a youth and neighborhood center. Eidelson and Citywide Youth Coalition Director Rachel Heerema have said that the closing of the Dixwell “Q” House has left a hole in the

community that needs to be filled. “It’s absurd that there’s no real community center in New Haven,” Reveiz tells me. He adds that the PAC is specifically designed to provide a safe space and “support group for queer youth.” Language from the group’s webpage lays out PAC’s focus on “the creative agency of women, queer-identifying folks, people of color and youth.” Reveiz says the organizers’ feelings of privilege weigh heavily on the project. “I’ve heard of other people trying to start art projects or things like this, and they just hit a wall,” he said. “We’re lucky — and we’re highly aware of our positions of privilege.” 212 College St. became home to PAC with the help of Helen Kauder, who runs Artspace and sits on the board of the Co-Op Center for Creativity. Artspace is a contemporary art gallery and non-profit arts advocacy organization located at 50 Orange St., just three blocks down Crown Street from PAC. Established in 2009, the Center for Creativity leases storefronts from the Co-Op Arts & Humanities High School. Reveiz, Ofosu and DeLeon, who are artists-in-residence at the Center, are subletting the space for $250 per month. The Collective has raised over $3,000 by crowdsourcing through Indiegogo, an online platform for crowdfunding, and community fundraising. At the Free Skool, they go without central heating, using space heaters when the sun goes down and the temperature drops. “I think a lot of it has to do with the privilege and recognition that come with being Yale alums,” Reveiz says, speaking of their success in using makeshift means of running the school. “The question is how can we use that privilege to give people a kind of hope. People have very little to do who lack jobs or after work if they do have jobs, and that contributes to violence and a general culture of fear.” When I ask her about the potential impact of the Free Skool, Eidelson describes the operation as “an exciting community and youth space.” She says more programs in the city should be free of charge. Reveiz echoes that sentiment. He says money increasingly pervades all social interactions, and that the Free Skool is an experiment in extricating education from market forces. Taking away the need to pay allows the school to cut across myriad communities, whereas “education is often only for those who can afford it,” Reveiz explains. The intersection of historically separate communities is one that he says the program is uniquely situated to foster. “ T h e s c h o o l

// SARA MILLER

Free skool provides education for all.

pushes people to a kind of realness. Yale students will introduce themselves as sophomores to people who might not consider being a sophomore a pertinent identity category,” he explains. “A lot of New Haven residents are sometimes turned off or intimidated by Yale students, and our challenge is against that, too. It’s really cool — people are making friends across communities.” About 40 to 50 percent of Free Skool students are affiliated with Yale. For these students especially, the Free Skool may come as a culture shock, says Ofosu. At Yale, she continues, education is “formalized,” students relating to teachers in a strict hierarchy. Learning at the Free Skool happens by “engaging others as equals.” Reveiz says the Free Skool represents education-as-communitybuilding. The school is animated by the idea of a more democratic model of education that emphasizes “empowerment and generosity.” Free schools exist nationwide — in Buffalo, in Austin, in Santa Cruz — Ofosu tells me. These models served as inspiration when she and her fellow PAC leaders were considering the potential work of their collective. When I call the Free Skool a project, she corrects me, saying they call their work “interventions.” “We think of what we’re doing at the Skool as an intervention into modes of living that are unsustainable or unjust,” Ofosu says.

WHERE ART MEETS ACTIVISM

When I ask Ofosu and Reveiz about the politics behind the school, they are reticent to endorse a specific political ideology. “We all have our own political motivations,” Ofosu says. Ultimately, Ofosu said, the Free Skool — and PAC as a whole — aims to work toward a new type of activism, one that fuses politics with artistic creation. “I’m interested in proactively building alternatives to oppressive modes of being,” she says. “A lot of activism is reactionary — terrible shit happens and you need to respond. I’m into that, but the artist in me feels passionately about actively building new spaces to access information outside of dominant modes of knowledge.” The front windows of PAC are covered in artwork and posters. One window is emblazoned with the Collective’s logo. Another is painted with the words “Justice for Jewu.” Jewu Richardson is a New Haven man fighting a felony charge based on reports he crashed into a police car shortly before being shot in the chest. The PAC logo is nuanced and colorful, with patterned shapes arranged to form its letters. “Justice for Jewu” is painted in stark black letters. Though its organizers disclaim an overt political agenda, the Free Skool is not isolated from the political and social needs of the community it serves. As the Yale grads both tell me, this is a place where art and activism meet. “The Free Skool is a way of advancing relationships and actions that root out a multiplicity of oppressions we see in this city — racial, economic, gender-based,” Reveiz says. “This is a social infrastructure that represents something more like a world we want to live in.” Contact ISAAC STANLEY-BECKER at isaac.stanley-becker@yale.edu .

F R I D AY APRIL 5

ARTHUR

WEEKEND RECOMMENDS:

Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School // 8 p.m. An original ballet based on Arthurian legend. What the what? Go!

Saag paneer

Like, fuck yeah, like, yum, we eat it all the time.


PAGE B6

YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, APRIL 5, 2013 · yaledailynews.com

PAGE B7

WEEKEND PLAYS

!"#$%&'(&#()*'+"*'$ WKND

GUEST

-

,

IM SOCIAL CLIMBING // BY AARON GERTLER

IM EMAILING // BY LEAH MOTZKIN

A

// JACOB GEIGER

Last year, my roommate spent some time with the Yale Rock Climbing Team. By mid-year, however, he’d basically abandoned the group. “It’s terrible, Aaron! You exercise for, like, five minutes straight! And then they have you hold a rope for someone, and if you drop it, they’re dead. ” I know just the thing. Next Thursday night, we’re going to the Study. As captain of TD’s IM Social Climbing squad, I was careful to reserve the Study at the beginning of the year; as a practice space, it’s miles ahead of SOM or Wolf’s Head, even before superior cocktail selection comes into play. (Skull and Bones, of course, doubles as Yale’s club Social Climbing team, though members do come

by our matches on occasion.) Thursday nights, we gear up for weekend matches with grueling interval workouts: two-minute speed date, 30-second elevator pitch, martini sip, catch your breath with a casual introduction, repeat. It’s tough work, but with sterling results; TD came in second to Davenport in last year’s tournament. This year, I’ve added a cool-down round of Never Have I Ever to each practice, to prevent overtraining. We’ll be unstoppable. If you’re not familiar with the sport, here’s a quick rundown. Match locations are random, to avoid site-specific training: One week, it’s a rave at Box, while the next might be toasting at Mory’s or pancake night in the Stiles basement. Captains

are first up for their teams in Singles play; points are awarded for first business-card handoff, the best list of summer prospects, and firmest handshake, within reason. (After the president of YIRA broke Brandon Levin’s wrist in 2010, we had to alter that rule.) Scoring criteria change slightly in couple’s play, where a careful balance must be kept between flirting with your opponent’s partner and maintaining eye, hand and/or lip contact with your own. My favorite aspect of IM Social Climbing is the championship match, held at the Yale Club of New York. Last year’s was a furious free-for-all in which any aspect of the environment was fair game for conversation: the view from the top floor, classy

books on the shelves of the library, the butler’s bow tie. Davenport edged us out when their captain — a senior, naturally — spotted the McKinsey partner who’d given her case interview and gave him a two-armed hug. I couldn’t parry the blow, and was forced into the penalty corner for a cutting remark Provost Salovey judged to be offcolor. This year, though, my wit is honed to a fine point, and with the help of my roommate — a tech entrepreneur whose father is on the board of Proctor and Gamble — I’m sure TD will assume its rightful place at the top.

s prospective applicants, we all heard about how participation in intramurals enhances the Yale College experience. Not good enough for varsity or club? Well you can still play on the intramural team. Not even good enough for the IM level? Well maybe it’s about time that you participated in your own IM. Think about it: Is your upper body strength too weak to be on the varsity climbing team? Well, then, try out for the IM social climbing team. Are you feeling like you’re a bum because you’re not constantly at a sports practice? Maybe fill out your schedule and plan your meals for the next month. WEEKEND is here to show you some all-too-common “IMs” that are played around Yale’s campus, that maybe you can take part in.

Contact AARON GERTLER at aaron.gertler@yale.edu .

// JACOB GEIGER

Most of us haven’t really played that many “IM sports,” so this impromptu rulebook for our new club (team?) might not follow proper protocol (note: ask the hockey player in your FroCo group to review). We’ve all heard it said that the strongest muscle in your body is your tongue. Well this intramural sport aims to proves that another part of your body is even stronger. Your fingers, of course! We are all guilty. We came to Yale with a resume loaded with everything from student govern-

Like soccer to most of the rest of the world, IM Google Calendar (or IM Gcal, for veterans of the sport) is a fan favorite and practical requirement for inclusion in the Yale community. Its rules are simple, but its execution is not. The basics of the game are as follows: 1. The person with the most commitments logged in their Gcal, and thus the most points, wins. 2. They can be a mix of classes, meals, social events and extracurricular commitments. However, as classes are the base requirement for existing here, they count for only one point. Meals (only slightly less common) are worth two, social events three and extracurricular commitments are worth four. 3. Participants also gain points for the number of colors for different categories in their Gcals (one color category = one point) and for scheduling commitments as closely together as possible. Real champions of the game can be found anywhere, but most often and obviously they are those friends

when people walk by and suddenly remember their childhood dreams of being National Geographic photographers. Sure, it’s flattering to be compared to that Afghan girl with green eyes, but you know what sucks? Next thing you know, it’s on Twitter: that pic of you sprawling in the buttery. In the Sillibrary. On the floor (I have one of David napping on the floor.) So, in the spirit of sadism, the IM committee should adopt the game of (S)Napping. The rules? You earn a point for every picture you snap of someone napping. Bonus points for creativity, artistry of shot, all that jazz (plus if their mouth is open, or if it’s a professor!) On the flip side, points are deducted for every pic of a napper from your college. Note that the resident nappers/comfy chair hogs at Blue State are off-limits to your cameras obscura. Now that would just be cheating. Contact YUVAL BEN-DAVID at yuval.ben-david@yale.edu .

APRIL 6

“RICHARD III” SCREENING

Struggling with your Shakespeare papers? Get some help here.

Contact LEAH MOTZKIN at leah.motzkin@yale.edu .

we all have in our lives who are seemingly always feverishly running off to one commitment or another. They are the suitemates who you see only sporadically and entirely inconsistently, despite sharing a living space with them. They are the people of Yale, who, lacking a Time Turner, have nailed down the Google Calendar app to an exact science. Like running is to a myriad of other sports like basketball, soccer and ultimate frisbee, so is IM Gcal to IM Social Climbing — an independent pursuit in and of itself, but a vital skill to master for success in the latter. bona fide Gcal pros can schedule a productive yet leisurely lunch with their advisor at 12:34 and still manage to catch the shuttle up to Science Hill for their 1 p.m. lab. So next time you feel shunted for having to schedule coffee to hang out with your supposed “friend,” try giving them a round of applause for their dedication instead. Contact KARIN SHEDD at karin.shedd@yale.edu .

// JENNIFER CHEUNG

Yale Center for British Art // 2 p.m.

In IM emailing, each participant starts with an inbox of 150 messages. Using a stress ball for preparation is recommended. At the given time, each member must start sorting through their emails. Labels must be created, links to stop receiving emails must be clicked, responses to deans must be spell checked. Winner gets a cleared inbox. And 100 points to Gryffindor.

// BY KARIN SHEDD

// BY YUVAL BEN-DAVID

S AT U R D AY

ment to the newspaper you edited to the club you started and ran for half a year. Upon arriving at college, you walked into that extracurricular bazaar and fell in love with the first boy who showed interest in you — just kidding, you fell in love with every activity! You signed a sheet held out to you by the girl holding a tuba, took a red rubber duck from Red Hot poker, gave your email to boy wearing a TED Talk shirt, and probably signed something held out to you by the infamous Josh Eisenstat. Mistake! Now is the time to right that wrong.

IM GCAL

IM NAPPING Napping is a lot like grape juice, because I’ve noticed that not napping closely resembles the feeling of being really drunk on wine: wooly, woozy, warm. So it shouldn’t surprise you that some of my more “sober and judicious” friends — those are two traits my Lit professor finds I lack — well, those friends swear by their afternoon nappy-poos the way I swear by my fish oil capsules. Consider my friend David, who took a 20-minute snooze during our Econ midterm … and still did better than me. Napping’s a real shit show, though. David may not have gotten spittle all over his bluebook (or maybe he did), but I sure did all over the shoulder of a DOD arms dealer the last time I flew to Israel. On the way back to New York, this cult-leader type to my right folded up on the tray table and, as it turned out somewhere over Switzerland — in a moment that could have used some of that Swiss restraint I keep hearing about — that I had curled up right on this guy’s back. Purrrrr. But really, the WORST part of napping is

// JACOB GEIGER

WEEKEND RECOMMENDS: IPA-infused cheese sauce from The Meatball House Dip your New York pretzel in New Haven’s most creative sauce.

// JACOB GEIGER

S AT U R D AY APRIL 6

THE ANATOMY OF WINGS

Morse-Stiles Crescent Theater // 8 p.m. Mariana Arjona-Soberón’s ’13 show will teach you how to fly.

WEEKEND RECOMMENDS: http://www.buzzfeed.com/daves4/things-you-never-want-to-seeunder-a-microscope/ Fun fact: Mosquitoes’ eyes actually look like a bundle of grapes.


PAGE B6

YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, APRIL 5, 2013 · yaledailynews.com

PAGE B7

WEEKEND PLAYS

!"#$%&'(&#()*'+"*'$ WKND

GUEST

-

,

IM SOCIAL CLIMBING // BY AARON GERTLER

IM EMAILING // BY LEAH MOTZKIN

A

// JACOB GEIGER

Last year, my roommate spent some time with the Yale Rock Climbing Team. By mid-year, however, he’d basically abandoned the group. “It’s terrible, Aaron! You exercise for, like, five minutes straight! And then they have you hold a rope for someone, and if you drop it, they’re dead. ” I know just the thing. Next Thursday night, we’re going to the Study. As captain of TD’s IM Social Climbing squad, I was careful to reserve the Study at the beginning of the year; as a practice space, it’s miles ahead of SOM or Wolf’s Head, even before superior cocktail selection comes into play. (Skull and Bones, of course, doubles as Yale’s club Social Climbing team, though members do come

by our matches on occasion.) Thursday nights, we gear up for weekend matches with grueling interval workouts: two-minute speed date, 30-second elevator pitch, martini sip, catch your breath with a casual introduction, repeat. It’s tough work, but with sterling results; TD came in second to Davenport in last year’s tournament. This year, I’ve added a cool-down round of Never Have I Ever to each practice, to prevent overtraining. We’ll be unstoppable. If you’re not familiar with the sport, here’s a quick rundown. Match locations are random, to avoid site-specific training: One week, it’s a rave at Box, while the next might be toasting at Mory’s or pancake night in the Stiles basement. Captains

are first up for their teams in Singles play; points are awarded for first business-card handoff, the best list of summer prospects, and firmest handshake, within reason. (After the president of YIRA broke Brandon Levin’s wrist in 2010, we had to alter that rule.) Scoring criteria change slightly in couple’s play, where a careful balance must be kept between flirting with your opponent’s partner and maintaining eye, hand and/or lip contact with your own. My favorite aspect of IM Social Climbing is the championship match, held at the Yale Club of New York. Last year’s was a furious free-for-all in which any aspect of the environment was fair game for conversation: the view from the top floor, classy

books on the shelves of the library, the butler’s bow tie. Davenport edged us out when their captain — a senior, naturally — spotted the McKinsey partner who’d given her case interview and gave him a two-armed hug. I couldn’t parry the blow, and was forced into the penalty corner for a cutting remark Provost Salovey judged to be offcolor. This year, though, my wit is honed to a fine point, and with the help of my roommate — a tech entrepreneur whose father is on the board of Proctor and Gamble — I’m sure TD will assume its rightful place at the top.

s prospective applicants, we all heard about how participation in intramurals enhances the Yale College experience. Not good enough for varsity or club? Well you can still play on the intramural team. Not even good enough for the IM level? Well maybe it’s about time that you participated in your own IM. Think about it: Is your upper body strength too weak to be on the varsity climbing team? Well, then, try out for the IM social climbing team. Are you feeling like you’re a bum because you’re not constantly at a sports practice? Maybe fill out your schedule and plan your meals for the next month. WEEKEND is here to show you some all-too-common “IMs” that are played around Yale’s campus, that maybe you can take part in.

Contact AARON GERTLER at aaron.gertler@yale.edu .

// JACOB GEIGER

Most of us haven’t really played that many “IM sports,” so this impromptu rulebook for our new club (team?) might not follow proper protocol (note: ask the hockey player in your FroCo group to review). We’ve all heard it said that the strongest muscle in your body is your tongue. Well this intramural sport aims to proves that another part of your body is even stronger. Your fingers, of course! We are all guilty. We came to Yale with a resume loaded with everything from student govern-

Like soccer to most of the rest of the world, IM Google Calendar (or IM Gcal, for veterans of the sport) is a fan favorite and practical requirement for inclusion in the Yale community. Its rules are simple, but its execution is not. The basics of the game are as follows: 1. The person with the most commitments logged in their Gcal, and thus the most points, wins. 2. They can be a mix of classes, meals, social events and extracurricular commitments. However, as classes are the base requirement for existing here, they count for only one point. Meals (only slightly less common) are worth two, social events three and extracurricular commitments are worth four. 3. Participants also gain points for the number of colors for different categories in their Gcals (one color category = one point) and for scheduling commitments as closely together as possible. Real champions of the game can be found anywhere, but most often and obviously they are those friends

when people walk by and suddenly remember their childhood dreams of being National Geographic photographers. Sure, it’s flattering to be compared to that Afghan girl with green eyes, but you know what sucks? Next thing you know, it’s on Twitter: that pic of you sprawling in the buttery. In the Sillibrary. On the floor (I have one of David napping on the floor.) So, in the spirit of sadism, the IM committee should adopt the game of (S)Napping. The rules? You earn a point for every picture you snap of someone napping. Bonus points for creativity, artistry of shot, all that jazz (plus if their mouth is open, or if it’s a professor!) On the flip side, points are deducted for every pic of a napper from your college. Note that the resident nappers/comfy chair hogs at Blue State are off-limits to your cameras obscura. Now that would just be cheating. Contact YUVAL BEN-DAVID at yuval.ben-david@yale.edu .

APRIL 6

“RICHARD III” SCREENING

Struggling with your Shakespeare papers? Get some help here.

Contact LEAH MOTZKIN at leah.motzkin@yale.edu .

we all have in our lives who are seemingly always feverishly running off to one commitment or another. They are the suitemates who you see only sporadically and entirely inconsistently, despite sharing a living space with them. They are the people of Yale, who, lacking a Time Turner, have nailed down the Google Calendar app to an exact science. Like running is to a myriad of other sports like basketball, soccer and ultimate frisbee, so is IM Gcal to IM Social Climbing — an independent pursuit in and of itself, but a vital skill to master for success in the latter. bona fide Gcal pros can schedule a productive yet leisurely lunch with their advisor at 12:34 and still manage to catch the shuttle up to Science Hill for their 1 p.m. lab. So next time you feel shunted for having to schedule coffee to hang out with your supposed “friend,” try giving them a round of applause for their dedication instead. Contact KARIN SHEDD at karin.shedd@yale.edu .

// JENNIFER CHEUNG

Yale Center for British Art // 2 p.m.

In IM emailing, each participant starts with an inbox of 150 messages. Using a stress ball for preparation is recommended. At the given time, each member must start sorting through their emails. Labels must be created, links to stop receiving emails must be clicked, responses to deans must be spell checked. Winner gets a cleared inbox. And 100 points to Gryffindor.

// BY KARIN SHEDD

// BY YUVAL BEN-DAVID

S AT U R D AY

ment to the newspaper you edited to the club you started and ran for half a year. Upon arriving at college, you walked into that extracurricular bazaar and fell in love with the first boy who showed interest in you — just kidding, you fell in love with every activity! You signed a sheet held out to you by the girl holding a tuba, took a red rubber duck from Red Hot poker, gave your email to boy wearing a TED Talk shirt, and probably signed something held out to you by the infamous Josh Eisenstat. Mistake! Now is the time to right that wrong.

IM GCAL

IM NAPPING Napping is a lot like grape juice, because I’ve noticed that not napping closely resembles the feeling of being really drunk on wine: wooly, woozy, warm. So it shouldn’t surprise you that some of my more “sober and judicious” friends — those are two traits my Lit professor finds I lack — well, those friends swear by their afternoon nappy-poos the way I swear by my fish oil capsules. Consider my friend David, who took a 20-minute snooze during our Econ midterm … and still did better than me. Napping’s a real shit show, though. David may not have gotten spittle all over his bluebook (or maybe he did), but I sure did all over the shoulder of a DOD arms dealer the last time I flew to Israel. On the way back to New York, this cult-leader type to my right folded up on the tray table and, as it turned out somewhere over Switzerland — in a moment that could have used some of that Swiss restraint I keep hearing about — that I had curled up right on this guy’s back. Purrrrr. But really, the WORST part of napping is

// JACOB GEIGER

WEEKEND RECOMMENDS: IPA-infused cheese sauce from The Meatball House Dip your New York pretzel in New Haven’s most creative sauce.

// JACOB GEIGER

S AT U R D AY APRIL 6

THE ANATOMY OF WINGS

Morse-Stiles Crescent Theater // 8 p.m. Mariana Arjona-Soberón’s ’13 show will teach you how to fly.

WEEKEND RECOMMENDS: http://www.buzzfeed.com/daves4/things-you-never-want-to-seeunder-a-microscope/ Fun fact: Mosquitoes’ eyes actually look like a bundle of grapes.


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YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, APRIL 5, 2013 · yaledailynews.com

WEEKEND COVER

MAKING IT IN HOLLYWOOD HOLLYWOOD FROM PAGE B3 of long, tedious hours in doing absurd assignments. “I have seen so much crazy stuff — it never fails to entertain, that’s for sure,” Haviland said. “But it’s also depressing, to see how low people will stoop or how much flack they will put up with.” The attempt to mass-produce Art has created an industry fraught with more emotion, and more immaturity, than any other, said producer Aaron Kogan ’00. Top-level creatives can get away with having temper tantrums and throwing things by claiming the stereotype of the “crazy Hollywood executive,” said Maria Burton ’85, recalling her brief stint as an assitant at Paramount.

out of a job in three months, said former television writer Laura Brennan ’88 (The Lost World), who left the business because the competition became “too much.” “Television is an industry that spits people out,” Brennan said. “You will get fired. In fact, your contract is in weeks because every show gets cancelled.” Two weeks after directing one of the final episodes of Breaking Bad in New Mexico, George Mastras ’88 said that he cannot feel entirely secure in terms of job stability. Though he now makes as much as he did as a lawyer, Mastras knows that scriptwriting is inherently volatile, he said, “always a crapshoot.” With the end of the AMC series, Mastras will now be working to get a

PEOPLE IDEALIZE THE POSSIBILITIES OF WORKING IN SHOW BUSINESS WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING “AS A PRODUCER, YOU CAN MAKE A FORTUNE, BUT YOU CAN’T MAKE A LIVING.” A few alumni described their time as assistants at studios and agencies “the worst thing ever.” Andrew Cohen recalls being paid around five dollars an hour by Creative Artists Agency to anticipate his boss’s every whim, at any minute juggling constant phone calls while texting her forgotten documents. Now a CAA client himself, Cohen jokes that he is well aware of “exactly how needy clients can be.” “Swimming with sharks is a pretty good example of what working at an agency is like,” Cohen said. “And there’s a lot of mind games,” he added. Almost all alumni described the industry as intensely competitive. The access point to The Industry is clotted because barriers to entry — educational degrees and standardized exams — do not exist, said actress Jill Savarin ’03, fostering in its place cutthroat deal-making and survival of the fittest. “You hear some things — one of my teachers at iO West was a Saturday Night Live writer. From anyone you hear, working at SNL is like daily trying not to slit your wrists,” Haviland said. “It’s backstabbing, competitive and if you don’t get three jokes up in a month, you’re fired.” Her former io West teacher lost forty pounds on the job, Haviland added. Every job could be your last job, said producer Alan Poul ’76 (The Newsroom, Six Feet Under). In an industry that is predominantly freelance, even the current president of a network could be

pilot on the air. Making one’s second project is even harder than making the first, Bookman admits. The ironic truth is that the career only gets harder, he explains. People idealize the possibilities of working in show business, Bookman said, without understanding “as a producer, you can make a fortune, but you can’t make a living.” Multiple alumni interviewed reported sleeping in their offices and working seven days a week, pulling strings of all-nighters rivaling their most consuming reading periods at Yale. Relationships have been destroyed over the intensity of production schedules, Haviland said, adding that her friends disappear for months on end during production season, re-emerging only after a project has wrapped. “When I go to work on something — I just finished an episode of Nikita — I virtually turn into a monk because [writing is] all I’m doing for six weeks or so,” Badham said. Even unemployment is a fulltime job in Hollywood. Andrew Wagner ’09 recalls his first months out of college — living in a $600, cockroach-infested flat in Chinatown, getting up at 6 a.m. daily for auditions and checking Backstage casting notices every single day. Wagner recently landed a recurring role as an extra on The Newsroom, he said proudly. The sad parable of Hollywood is that most actors will spend far more trying to be an actor than they will ever make f r o m

S AT U R D AY APRIL 6

acting, Locker said, who still browses actor’s gig listings online each day. Less than half of alumni interviewed said they felt Hollywood was a meritocracy.

GOING IT ALONE

“You know when you’re traveling far away, and you meet someone from the U.S., and you’re like ‘Oh! You’re from the U.S.!’ That’s what having a Yale degree [in the entertainment industry] is like,” said writer and actress Zoe Kazan ’05 (Ruby Sparks). The alumni network in Hollywood has historically been fragmented, said Gary Newman ’76, chairman of 20th-Century Fox Television, and the geographic separation between New Haven and Los Angeles alone is distancing. Entertainment attorney Fishman recalls trying to get in touch with industry alumni in the 1970s by laboriously drafting letters, soliciting lunch dates. Nearly half a century later, actress Christine Garver ’08 (Criminal Minds) is sending out those same inquiries, requesting the same elusive sitdown lunch dates, via e-mail. Poul admits that he receives a barrage of emails from Yale grads asking for meetings and advice. He inevitably does not have time to accommodate the requests of every writer asking for him to read their script, every filmmaker handing him a DVD. “But if it were structured so it wasn’t individual people fielding requests, if it weren’t a barrage of emails, and there was a set system, maybe splitting up mentees…” Poul considered. “It could work.” Perhaps historically, the critical mass necessary to sustain a viable alumni network has not been present, suggest alumni. For decades, the occasional graduate who packed his or her bags for Los Angeles was an outlier. The ones that came out in the 50s and 60s probably hid their degrees, Bookman said. Yale’s English Department once informed a young Brandon Tartikoff ’70 he would be wasting his time in television, Fishman said. The one film course offered in the 60s was easily a gut, screenwriter Badham said, and movies were seen as just “the stuff you went to when avoiding studying.” Tartikoff went on to run Paramount Studios, but it was not until the success of him and others like him found in t h e

60s and 70s that ideas about the value of television and film as a career began changing on campus, Fishman said. An increasing stream of graduates have been finding their way into show business as of late, said alumni interviewed, and the overall awareness of entertainment as a tangible career has grown. Perhaps it’s Entourage, muses Parkes, former head of DreamWorks — or at least, he explains, shows like Entourage that have glamourized Hollywood’s inner workings and motivated students to pursue a career like Vincent Chase’s. “I do think something happened over the last 20 years or so with the preponderance of reality TV shows [about Hollywood] and reporting on the movie business,” Parkes said. “The Oscars race is becoming like the SuperBowl. There’s not a news business or local TV station that doesn’t report the box office winner of a given weekend.” The awareness of entertainment as a feasible career path, however, has not budged Yale from its traditional theory-centric Film and Theater curriculums. The Yale education has approached the modern arts of acting and movie-making the same way it tackles English poets and Greek mythology, remaining based in paper-writing and seminar discussions, said actor Ron Livingston ’89 (Office Space, The Odd Life of Timothy Green). Kazan, having recognized that Yale shirks any notion of “trade school reputation,” said it was necessary for her to take initiative and step outside the liberal arts curriculum while she was in college. She was “after bigger game” and got herself into training classes outside of her coursework and over the summers. Allison Williams ’10 recalls being asked to improvise a full scene with Lena Dunham halfway through her audition for Girls. The improv skills she learned as a member of “Just Add Water” was the only formal acting training she had had. Costume designer Melina Root ’83 DRA ’90 (That 70’s Show, Brothers and Sisters) said she filled the void in Yale’s theorycentric Theater Studies offerings through the Yale Dramat learning the ins and outs of running a show by doing so on her own. Yet that’s how it should be, Root and Livingston insisted. Because of the lack of any

YALE BELLY DANCE SPRING SHOW

BUT ASK FIVE HUNDRED DIFFERENT SUCCESSFUL HOLLYWOOD INSIDERS HOW THEY MADE IT, AND THEY WILL TELL FIVE HUNDRED DIFFERENT STORIES. AN AGE OF AMBITION

Ten years ago, Steinberg, Winston and other soon-to-be founders of Yale in Hollywood met for lunch at Canter’s Deli, each wondering how to make Yale more like Harvard. Harvard runs late night, according to multiple alumni interviewed. The writing staffs of Saturday Night Live, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Simpsons are filled with Harvard boys, Haviland said, most of whom have known each other since being in the same sketch groups and on the editorial board of The Harvard Lampoon. Comedy executives have grown accustomed to hiring fresh Harvard graduates, Haviland said, and therefore have an incentive to maintain strong ties to the school. The reciprocal nature of this relationship allows the alumni network to sustain itself, she said. Now that Yale in Hollywood has established itself in town, its board members can tackle the task of reconnecting with their alma mater and cultivating this link with newer graduates, producer Kogan said. Kogan suggests a “mini-graduate school” of classes about the structure of The Industry for undergraduate summer interns. There could be a BlueList for Yale

graduates similar to the Hollywood Blacklist — a catalogue of the most “in” scripts circulated at major film companies annually, Haviland proposes. A streamlined system for matching mentors with mentees, Locker proposes. But ask five hundred different successful Hollywood insiders how they made it, and they will tell five hundred different stories, Clifford said. “It’s not only somewhat mysterious how to succeed … when you succeed, you can’t really tell other people what to do because you don’t know what you did right and there’s no incentive to tell other people what to do because it’s so competitive,” Steinberg said. Yale’s most recent graduates appear to have caught on to these industry nuances. Director Seth Gordon ’99 (Horrible Bosses, Four Christmases) who has advised hundreds of new arrivals on navigating the murky waters of entertainment said he is surprised at how prematurely ambitious Yale’s new generation of Hollywood hopefuls are. The questions posed by young graduates often carry a depth of sophistication that takes Gordon by surprise. Gordon, echoing Bookman, said he arrived in Los Angeles with “no idea what an agency was.” There was a learning curve, he recalls. But ultimately, prior preparation wasn’t necessary, Gordon reflects. “If you live your life, that’ll give you something worth saying,” Gordon said. “That’s what will make you a great filmmaker, not raw ambition.” Kogan admits that though he envisions building up a powerful Yale in Hollywood, young people must realize that the business will never be formulaic. Every year however, he said, people figure it out. Contact CYNTHIA HUA at cynthia.hua@yale.edu .

// CYNTHIA HUA

Left: Kevin Winston requested his class year not be printed because it would reveal his age, which could hurt his employment opportunities in Hollywood. Right: Yale alums Mark Dollhopf ’77, Bruce Cohen ’83 and Gary Newman ’76 rubbing elbows.

WEEKEND RECOMMENDS:

Harkness Auditorium // 8 p.m.

Yale women shake their hips to fight hunger in this charity show.

formal structure for learning the entertainment trade on campus, Yalies were as much on their own while in college as they would be once they moved to LA, Livingston explained. “I’ve seen conservatory graduates who’ve had a hard time in Hollywood, because they’re used to someone being in charge,” Livingston said. “At Yale, we didn’t have anybody in charge… Just grab a weekend and a dining hall and do the damn thing yourself.”

Roia

New Haven’s newest restaurant also has some of the city’s finest cocktails.


YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, APRIL 5, 2013 · yaledailynews.com

WEEKEND TEEN

PAGE B9

SPIRIT

IT’S SAFE TO LOVE THE ’90s // BY VANESSA YUAN

A 1993 News story titled “Gag Me With a Spoon — Why Can’t We Let Go of Our Favorite Decade?” discussed Safety Dance’s success on campus since its debut in 1990. In October 2013, Yale won’t see another Safety Dance. What’s now vying for the role of nostalgic dance du jour is Branford College’s Crushes and Chaperones. And that event is inevitably bound to reflect on Safety as an older, wiser, better precedent. Basic differences first. In its infancy, Safety Dance was advertised as a retrospective celebrating the teen years of students then attending Yale College. It was a chance for them to do it all again through music and dress. But the true indicator of Safety’s power was the fact that it mattered so much even once it became safe to say that no attending Yalies actually lived through the 1980s. No matter how well we knew the song “Hungry Like the Wolf” or how tightly we could tie our side ponytails, we were never able to take part in that original level of nostalgia. Crushes and Chaperones should be more culturally significant to our generation of college students. It’s a tribute to a decade we can actually remember. Yet Safety did always outshine it in numbers of attendees and overall hysteria. The ‘80s had a distinctive style that made Safety resonate, but for Crushes and Chaperones’ sake (and our own amusement), here’s hoping that that party’s organizers can probe the older sibling’s packaging of music, dress and technology to develop the same level of cultural importance on campus. My Instagram followers are bored of my million faux-vintage photos of food — time to give them some real nostalgia. Branford College, are you up to the challenge?

complicated music scene, with pop-rock, alt-rock, indie, indiesynth, east coast hip-hop, battle rap, and many more combinations of genres, makes the ‘80s look simple and stable by comparison. With that simplicity, these songs were — and are — fun to dance to for all, in a way niche-y contemporary music is not. Then there’s dressing for Safety, which, over the decades, evolved into a competition for the most ridiculous and obnoxious costumes possible. “ S t u d e n ts look back at the strange clothing and practices of the 1980s. Not, of course, in a bad sense, but certainly one that is humorously unusual,” Dr. Rugenstein said. He’s putting it mildly. We’ve all had that one friend who overdoes it, gets too David Bowie up in here and, eventually, just needs to go. “The easiest things to grasp onto are style signifiers,” said Sara Marcus, a culture writer and the author of “Girls to the Front,” a history of the ‘90s Riot Grrrl movement. “These specific aesthetic markers coalesce into a feeling of a moment. They do it in a sort of masscultured, commodified form, but it does carry some of the truth in it.” So when Yalies wanted to express their knowledge about the ‘80s, what they ran to

tions, takes its traditions very seriously. This could account for the overwhelmingly negative response to its ban. The personal nostalgia experienced by former Yalies corresponds to our own nostalgia for Safety Dances past: mourning for a tradition lost. Yet Safety Dance is not the only yearly ritual Yalies can partake in. Inferno, Pierson College’s Halloween party, has been around since 1977. While approximately 2,300 students participated in the final Safety Dance in October 2012, however, Pierson and other residential colleges struggled to fill smaller dining halls at their own themed parties. Safety’s longstanding reputation meant that it far outperfomed comparable events. “ S a f e t y Dance was the o n ly sc h o o l dance of the year where I knew I’d see everyone,” said Vivian Wang ’15. “Otherwise, most parties here are either a hit or a miss.”

granted,” Marcus said. “Technology was spectacularly represented in the culture, if you think of Max

***

*** Much of Safety’s appeal wasn’t about quality, alumni and students concur. It was about feelings, funk and accessibility. Colin McRae ’95, a former president of the Silliman Activities & Administrative Committee (SAAC), noted that even members of his class looked back to ‘80s music with disdain, gleefully as they would dance to it at the event. “Ninety percent of the songs played [at Safety] are by one-hit wonders, people who had no musical talent, but they played some overproduced and over-synthesized songs because of some catchy hook,” McRae said. “But for someone who was 19 in 1991, those were the songs that I [had] listened to in my room.” For McRae and his peers, the merit of that music was its connection to a valuable and very recent past. Every year, they were given the chance to relive a more innocent youth through an event that was notorious for bingedrinking. While screaming along to Devo’s “Whip It” at Safety, a freshman in the early 90s might have remembered that he had done pushups for his 8th grade gym class to the very same song. He was more sober by a couple of shots of vodka then, but probably just as sweaty. Dr. Ernest R. Rugenstein, a cultural historian at the State University of New York’s Empire State College, noted that music and visual cues are likely to endure in memories of decades past. The cohesive style of ‘80s music with its iconic songs is a perfect example of what Dr. Rugenstein would consider an enduring music cue, resonating with McRae’s generation and those following it. Today’s

// THAO DO

were easy-torecognize markers they could wear or flaunt, no matter how little they may actually have had to do with ‘80s culture. The final key part of the decade’s cultural cohesion—and easy packaging—was its trademark amateur level of technology. “It was the dawn of a computer era. [The computer] was a kind of technology we all take for

S AT U R D AY APRIL 6

Headroom [ t h e world’s first computer-generated TV host] and the first mainstream electronics.” Altogether, the dance itself was akin to the one-hit wonders McRae speaks of, with its immediately recognizable—and just as soon forgotten—bright clothing and catchy music. It was harmless because no one feared awkward-

n e s s o r being out of place. Don’t bother with regular clothing and just keep on dancing the way you do, Safety told us, because everyone looks ridiculous anyway and this culture, frankly, isn’t hard to join. *** But if Safety was a one-hit wonder, it was one that never got old. That probably had a lot to do with tradition. “Social institutions take on a kind of permanence and they become self-perpetuating. The

actual idea or emotion behind the dance has no meaning to you all,” Marcus said. The first Safety Dance attracted a surprisingly large number of attendees. In the succeeding years, Silliman SAAC continuously put in the planning efforts required to make the event a star every October, with the fact that it had previously been a success a likely motivating factor. Repeated successful attendance and positive feedback to the event meant that Safety survived and prospered, becoming a Yale tradition that Silliman proudly strove to make possible. Indeed, the hype built so fast that even back in the 90s, McRae thought Safety well-established—he was surprised to learn that the Safety Dance he attended in his freshman year was only the second time the event was held at Yale. Bryan Epps ’14, former YCC representative for Silliman College and current YCC Events Director, said he considers the following when planning for an event: “Is it appealing on a large scale? Is my organization the best organization to host the event? Will people remember the event fondly? Is it worth the time and money we plan to spend?” Safety Dance undoubtedly provided a yes to all of those questions. Originally held in the Silliman College dining hall, the dance moved to Commons in recent years. These are both large venues intended to host large events. Safety was expected to attract over 2,000 students each year, according to News reports, and Silliman College SAAC never planned small. The sustained history and hype became a feedback loop promising a good time for all. And thus Safety established an air of the permanence Marcus spoke of. It became tradition at Yale almost immediately after its birth, and Yale, along with other long-established institu-

KING ARTHUR

Contact VANESSA YUAN at vanessa.yuan@yale.edu .

WEEKEND RECOMMENDS:

Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School // 8 p.m. Yale’s Undergraduate Ballet Company dances the story of King Arthur and Camelot.

Tonight, Branford will host Crushes and Chaperones in honor of the ‘90s, a decade that should be much more familiar to us. Think baggy jeans, cut-up jeans, cut-off jean shorts and plaid. Think hiphop, grunge and Destiny’s Child. According to Marcus, today’s proliferation of social media and convenient search engines should make the ‘90s even more accessible and nostalgia-worthy. More media intersects with stronger emotional attachment. “People who grew up in ‘90s are getting to the point where they’re not assistants anymore,” Marcus said. “[They] are able to make culture based on what was valuable to [them], and people in their teens and twenties are the consumers of that culture. This is how the nostalgia cycle works.” In terms of attendance, Crushes and Chaperones has been successful since Branford hosted it first in 2007. Last year, Crushes and Chaperones was moved from Branford dining hall to Commons, as the number of expected attendees ratcheted up to 1,000. The dance thus took a step towards Safety-level dominance by moving into the space where 80s tunes had dominated for so long. Fortunately for administrators, it also sent a grand total of zero students to the hospital. (Compare this to Safety, which McRae said has been tied to binge drinking since its inception and was banned last year after eight students had to be hospitalized.) Crushes and Chaperones fits the criteria set by Safety Dance: its music matters to us; its clothing is easily identifiable; its technologies, from Gameboys to Walkmans, are second nature to us. And its lost its main rival. It seems to have all the resources it could possibly need to be the new oldies-goldies rager of the year. So dig out your denim, brush up on your boy band tunes and always make sure that you’re ready for this jelly. Our generation looks like it’s ready to form its own Yale tradition.

Running for YCC

Will you be this year’s dark horse? We hear everyone’s running unopposed.


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YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, APRIL 5, 2013 · yaledailynews.com

WEEKEND COLUMNS

A RECIPE FOR SUCCESS // BY SCOTT STERN Anyone who ever gave money to Barack Obama paid a price far steeper than his or her donation. You know what I’m talking about. Those emails. The ones that arrived every day — every hour, sometimes — nonstop, for months. Did I want to get dinner with the president and Sarah Jessica Parker? Did I want to give yet more money? Did I know an FEC filing deadline was coming up, so I really should give money? Scott, you haven’t given money in awhile, is everything ok? (Actually.) Apparently, this strategy — annoying as it was — worked. Apparently, there is hard data to back it up. Ever wonder how politi-

SCOTT STERN READING BETWEEN THE LINES cal scientists gather these data? I hadn’t either. But then I read “The Victory Lab” by Sasha Issenberg, and, I have to say, I was intrigued. The book, remarkably, was approachable, entertaining and thoroughly informative. Kind of like a Michael Lewis book that I can actually understand. Actually, speaking of Michael

Lewis, his book, “The Big Short,” is a good counterweight for “The Victory Lab.” “The Big Short” — a story of the 2008 financial crisis — is funny, fascinating and full of far too many financial terms for me, but its main point seemed to be — look at all of these amazing weird people who knew the economy was going to crash — how could anyone have missed it? Evidently, only social outcasts a n d

// AUBE REY LESCURE

Weariness Is Coming // BY GRAYSON CLARY AND SOPHIA NGUYEN GC: Dun-dun-dah-dah-dun-dun-dahdah-dun-dun-dah-dah-dun-dun-DAHdun-dun-dah-dah-dun-dun-dah-dah-dundun-dah-dah-dun-dun … That was a test. If you didn’t hear the song — full stereo sound in your head — while reading that, then this piece will not be for you. I can’t even start to imagine how we would write for the casual “Game of Thrones” viewer, the kind of person who didn’t have March 31 marked on his/her calendar (and burnt into his/her brain). The thought of having to use constructions like “Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) says...” makes my eye twitch a little. But that’s not to say that I loved the season premiere. I was waiting to love it, obviously. Otherwise, the waiting would be in vain. And yet — and cruel yet! — this just struck me as a dull episode. Very little advancement of any particular plot. Some beloved characters entirely absent. Lots of what felt like bare and unnecessary reintroduction of characters and themes. For obvious reasons, “Game of Thrones” has — and will continue forevermore to have — an inflamed case of divided-audience syndrome. There are the viewers who devoured the books, there are the viewers making their way concurrently through the books and the television series, there are the viewers who just watch the series, and every shade of devotion in between ad infinitum. It’d be impossible to satisfy each group on its own terms — regular readers of the “A.V. Club” will know that there are recaps for “newbies” and recaps for “pros” — but the show has largely threaded the needle with aplomb. Not so this time; I can’t help but feel that this episode was Game of Thrones on training wheels. Our hands were held, and we were spoken to very slowly, so as not to be disoriented. SN: A generous assessment of this episode, and also a feminist one: The men of Westeros shuffle around looking dead-eyed, scarred and dehydrated. But the women march on with grim determination and a swish of turquoise skirts. I enjoyed the exchange between Ros and Shay, a mutual recognition of how far they’d come: two prostitutes whom we’d all assumed were typical HBO props have actually gained power, which is not something many can say in this war. And there’s a new queen in town! Margaery Tyrell has arrived. She was level-headed during that potentially-traumatic wedding night with Renly, and remained cool after he, her main asset, was eliminated, managing to parlay that into an even better position in the court. And what has she done with that power? Other leaders may worry about soldiers or tenants,

GRAYSON CLARY & SOPHIA NGUYEN SPLIT/SCREEN but House Tyrell has rolled out bona fide social welfare programs. Yet I have to concede that this episode did not explode right out the gate. The ending scene was particularly anticlimactic, as if Messrs. Benioff and Weiss have totally dispensed with the dramatic conventions of the episode form: Why bother with a cliffhanger when they know they’ve got their audience good and captured? Audience interest will be sustained no matter what they do. Recall, if you will, that the series premiere went out with a graphic (incestuous!) sex scene and a ten-year-old boy getting shoved out a window. The season three premiere? The reappearance of some old knight who, at some point, we may have had some feelings about that one time he threw down his sword in some show of defiance or something. As someone who’s read “A Storm of Swords,” I know that all too much action lies ahead. Yet I worry that “Game of Thrones” will slacken its pace permanently. It no longer has anything to prove; it can take its sweet time. To me, its larger structural problem is not built into its audience, but built into its source material. You noted the absence of certain beloved characters — and by that I assume you meant Arya and Bran — and that problem will only worsen. The pleasure and gaping pitfall of the novels is that the characters only multiply, and the map continues to expand. Frenetically switching between scattered points of interest means that each plot moves mere inches at a time. The showrunners have already indicated that the third book of the series has been split into two seasons. I used to think this meant that they would adapt it with loving care. Now I worry that they are just going to transcribe hundreds of pages into slow-moving hours, rather than consolidating, editing, and you know, writing. GC: Wow. Grim portents. Normally I’m the severe one. Still, come next Sunday I’ll be watching, avidly. Even if this was a momentum-blunting episode, the monkey is not so easily bucked from one’s back. We just need some forward motion to go along with the sideways shuffle and positioning of plot pieces. Or, reductively, and in the words of another King: “a little less conversation, a little more action please.” Contact GRAYSON CLARY at grayson.clary@yale.edu . Contact SOPHIA NGUYEN at sophia.nguyen@yale.edu .

S U N D AY

MUSIC OF THE RUSSIAN THAW

APRIL 7

The weather is warming up and so is the Russian heat.

Morse Recital Hall // 8 p.m.

savants were able to predict the Great Recession, but for them it was obvious. “The Victory Lab” at first may seem to be the same sort of story. Each chapter was a sort of vignette, depicting a single campaign or political operative or tactic, and showing why it, more than anything or anyone else, triumphed. But it isn’t. The takeaway message from “The Victory Lab” is actually that any political campaign — from city council in Peoria to the presidential bonanza — can exploit the information gathered by scientists. Anyone can use this information, and, if you aren’t, it’s all your fault and you are falling behind. You don’t have to be an oddball or a genius to see how to win elections. You just have to learn to listen to Yale professors. That’s right. A significant chunk of the book focuses on the pioneering work of Yale political scientists Alan Gerber and Don Green. Gerber and Green are, some might say, the fathers of the get-out-the-vote tactic in politics. They revolutionized politics forever when they decided to study voter mobilization using randomized scientific experiments. Because of their experiments, we know which is more effective — email, direct mail, phone calls or in-person canvassing? (Canvassing.) We know whom campaigns should target in get-out-the-vote. (Supporters, not undecideds.) More than that, we know exactly how effective pretty much every tactic is. Their experiments changed the study of politics forever. But it’s not just them. Other chapters show how new data-mining techniques allow politicians to guess whom you (and your neighbors) will be voting for without ever having asked. What you watch on television, what you order through the mail, what bus you take to work, what kind of alcohol you drink — all of these things, when taken together,

tell campaigns whether they should spend money targeting you or not. Scientific studies tell political operatives that simple mail is more effective than fancy mail, that getting people to plan their voting schedule is far more effective than simply telling them to vote, and on and on. The most effective strategy to get you to vote? Sending your neighbors your voting history. (Whether you voted or not, not whom you voted for — the former is public information … who knew?) Obviously, campaigns are a little reluctant to be linked to this particularly tactic, but they are still exploiting this knowledge to send you scurrying to the polls. The Victory Lab is actually a broad survey of many of the great innovations in political campaigns from the last century. But it also tells us a remarkable amount about today — why Rick Perry runs some of the most effective campaigns in the nation, why the Democrats actually beat expectations in nearly every 2010 Senate race and how the Obama campaign could predict — with some degree of certainty — the preferences of every single voter in the country. We haven’t figured out politics entirely, of course. Polls are sometimes wrong. Get-out-the-vote is never going to be anywhere near 100 percent effective. Mitt Romney genuinely believed he was going to win. But, as Issenberg shows us, campaigns are getting more sophisticated (and definitely more manipulative) every day. Perhaps most surprisingly, “The Victory Lab” is a good read. For a book so statistics-heavy, so genuine in its admiration of scientific experiments, it is remarkably enjoyable. Above all, it will help you understand with a little more sophistication exactly why Barack Obama was clogging up your inbox. Contact SCOTT STERN at scott.stern@yale.edu .

What we talk about when we talk about loss // BY ELEANOR MICHOTTE Last week, I lost my keys. I’d last had them in my suite, where I spent a day rummaging distractedly for them, half-expecting to see them at every turn. “I mean, they have to be somewhere,” my long-suffering roommate helpfully pointed out as I upended my closet for the third time. And she was right, they did. Anything you lose always has to be somewhere. It was just that, for a day, I wasn’t sure exactly where that somewhere was.

AND NOTHING IS MORE ALIENATING THAN FEELING A GRIEF THAT YOU CAN ONLY TALK ABOUT IN TERMS THAT MINIMIZE IT Losing someone is nothing like losing keys. I’ve always thought that “loss,” when it comes to people, is a particularly cruel euphemism. It implies absent-mindedness or neglect. It makes you feel guilty, like you weren’t taking good enough care of that person to make sure they stayed with you. Like maybe if you’d called them last weekend, they’d still be around today. It places blame on you. You left them behind in a back corner of your mind, and by the time you remembered them later, they weren’t there anymore. Having to tell people you’ve lost someone is cruel too. It’s socially alienating to mention death in polite chit-chat; people leap back from the word as if you’ve tossed a grenade into the china-set of their conversation. “Loss,” by contrast, is neutral. Loss is casual; we lose things every day. By draping that euphemism over something

ELEANOR MICHOTTE CRIT FROM THE BRIT big and dark and scary, we ensure that no one feels uncomfortable. It makes people relax, and proffer a prepackaged sound bite that probably includes the word “condolences.” But no word has ever been more impotent than “condolences.” And nothing is more alienating than feeling a grief that you can only talk about in terms that minimize it. “Loss” creates a distance between what we feel and what others acknowledge. And what is cruelest of all is that talking about losing someone seeds false hope. It makes you think of the situation as being provisional. It makes you think of that person as temporarily mislaid. It makes you secretly imagine that if you look long enough, you’ll find them again. “They have to be somewhere”, right? Little children have particular trouble with this. It’s not uncommon that the very young who have suffered a loss — there’s that phrase again — will understand that someone has died, but won’t quite realize that that’s a rather permanent state of affairs. They’ll ask over and over again when Granny is coming home. Sure, they can comprehend that she’s gone for now — but for forever is a different story. What no one ever warns you about loss is that it reduces you to a small child. At first, you too can’t really believe in the finality of it all. For a while, it can be almost impossible to wrap your head around the idea that someone is no longer anywhere, anywhere at all. It’s disorienting; it’s terrifying. So terrifying that we all, at some point or another, seek comfort in that old chestnut of “a better place”. Because if we believe someone is in a “better place,” no matter where that place may be,

we can promise ourselves they aren’t completely gone. We’ve put them back on a map we think we can use to find them again. What they also don’t tell you about loss is what it’s like to deal with the things that are left behind. We’re not good at getting rid of debris. Our grandparents were the waste-not want-not generation; we’re the children of plenty. Today, “replacement wedding ring” churns up almost four million hits on Google. We’ve grown up in the age of the Internet, surrounded by an endless archive of everything that is us. We’ve been conditioned to think that everything we have is replaceable, and that nothing we ever say or do — as politicians and child stars have both learned to their peril — can ever fully be erased. But here’s the sad thing: Offline, people can be. When someone passes away, they leave the traces of their last days behind them. Their unwashed coffee mug in the sink. Their leftovers in the fridge. Their book open by the side of the bath, the spine creasing deeper by the day. The trappings of their life stand firm around space they used to inhabit — but there’s nothing at the center anymore. So, when you start washing the coffee mug, eating the leftovers, suddenly it starts to feel like you’re undoing all that was left of that person. You feel complicit in their loss, as if instead of searching for them, you’re losing them all over again. It can feel intrusive; it can feel therapeutic. But no one ever tells you about the strange hollowness that comes when that person’s things are all packed up and gone, and there isn’t anything of them anywhere, anymore. I lost my grandmother three weeks ago this Saturday. I found my keys in the pocket of a jacket under my bed. Contact ELEANOR MICHOTTE at eleanor.michotte@yale.edu .

WEEKEND RECOMMENDS: Salvation Army’s Jeans

End of semester stress making you fat? Get some new pants for cheap.


YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, APRIL 5, 2013 · yaledailynews.com

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WEEKEND ARTS

HOW TO SAVE A MEMORY // BY HANNAH SCHWARZ

About three-fourths of the way in to “How to Survive a Plague,” director David France’s documentary on the early years of the AIDS epidemic in the United States, we see footage of two leaders of ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) thinking about whether they will to see a cure to the disease. Bob Rafsky answers first, without hesitation: “No. I don’t.” Peter Staley pauses for a long time.

research. They were screaming for their lives. And those moments of raw, emotional protest are, coupled with the images of Kaposi’s sarcoma lesions and sunken cheekbones, how the film hits you. The archived footage, 800 hours of which David France sifted through to create the 109 minute documentary, is grainy, shaky, real. Its chaotic feel is that of the movement itself, initially strong

THE ARCHIVED FOOTAGE IS GRIMY, SHAKY, REAL. Then, “No … no.” The Academy Award-nominated documentary, shown this past Wednesday at the Whitney Humanities Center, is a tour de force that combines these kinds of moments, conveying an urgency foreign to any domestic movement today. Activists weren’t just campaigning for better healthcare or for more investment in AIDS

and united under ACT UP, but still desperately clamoring for the release of AIDS medications. There’s the first ACT UP protest in 1987; the FDA headquarters protest, police dragging away protesters as they scream for the release of dextrin sulfate; the protest within a New York cathedral, the infected lying down in the aisles; the sit-in at the U.S. headquarters of a Jap-

anese drug company; the dumping of the deceased’s ashes on the White House lawn. It’s an exhaustive display of sign-holding, lying down and screaming moments. But it shows just how much the activists were willing to do, and how far they were willing to go to not suffer crippling, accelerated deaths. If the above-mentioned scenes anger and galvanize you, then there are the more personal moments that make you cry. The film starts with faces and bodies. The New York City hospitals are overflowing with patients who, as ACT UP’s medical expert Iris Long says, were first being diagnosed in the emergency room. When AIDSinfected patients died in the hospital, she says, “they used to put them in black trashbags.” We see Rafsky, an ACT UP public relations executive who came out when he was forty and married, call a drug company executive who refuses to release potentially life-saving drugs “my murderer in your suit and tie.” We see Staley, an ACT UP member and founding director of

Treatment Action Group, stare into the camera and say, “Like any war, you wonder why you came home.” And then, the moment from which the film gets it name: Larry Kramer ’57, the force behind ACT UP’s founding, can no longer stand the organization’s infighting. “PLAGUE!” he yells in the middle of a meeting. “We’re in the middle of a fucking plague, and you behave like this. Until we get our acts together, we’re as good as dead.” It’s poignantly ironic, a statement made immediately before the worst years of the epidemic, in which patients start to show signs of resistance to AZT, and AIDS becomes the leading cause of death among Americans between the ages of 25 and 44. With “How to Survive a Plague,” you get a comprehensive history of the AIDS activist movement. But more importantly, you understand the reason behind its desperate urgency, and you feel some of the loss at its core. At the end of the film, David France, sitting on a panel, noted

// HENRY EHRENBERG

For the team behind “Now to Survive a Plague,” it’s essential to keep the memory of early AIDS activism alive among today’s gay men

that the archived footage and microfilm is beginning to deteriorate. And today’s young gay men don’t know the history of the movement that brought the AIDS epidemic to the forefront, Staley said at the panel, creating a “profound sense of abandonment within the gay community.” How do we keep the memory alive?, they all seemed to ask. “How to Survive a Plague” is one of the best answers to that question. It’s not all that needs to be done, but it’s a breathtaking start. Contact HANNAH SCHWARZ at hannah.schwarz@yale.edu .

Clemente comes to America // BY LEAH MOTZKIN

Walking into the School of Art’s 32 Edgewood gallery felt like walking into a refuge from the busy world that characterizes life at Yale and New Haven. Alone in the space, I was at first overwhelmed by the utter silence and sense of serenity that filled the room. Yet, when my attention turned towards the paintings that conform Francesco Clemente’s exhibit “Clemente>Brazil>Yale,” I quickly realized that the peaceful space was the perfect medium to grant each unsettling image the freedom to tell its story. The exhibition, curated by School of Art Dean Robert Storr, holds thirty paintings that Clemente, a native Italian, created from 2006 to 2008 during several trips to Brazil. The works are hung around the room so that each larger piece is followed by two smaller paintings, part of Clemente’s “Actors of Terreiro” series. Though the paintings are united by their source of inspiration, as someone who does not have a great understanding of Brazilian culture, I did not find that influence to be extremely evident. But it is clear that many of the works commented on religion, specifically through references to Brazil’s Roman Catholicism. “Father” depicts a pallid, small

// ANNELISA LEINBACH

The new exhibition of the soft showcases Clemente’s examination of the Catholic Church, interconnectedness and sexual exploration.

S U N D AY APRIL 7

ASIAN ART AT THE GALLERY

Yale University Art Gallery // 3 p.m. One-child policy for art? Don’t think so — the number of Asian art in the YUAG is blowing up.

man dwarfed by a papal hat; he looks almost inanimate with his big eyes and tongue lolling out of his mouth. The painting’s focus is on the ornately decorated hat. With its aesthetic beauty, the painting goes beyond the typical interpretation of this-painting-is-accusing-the-church-of-being-vapid protestant-reformation-2000. Another work, “New Paestum,” also critiques the Church in a glaring way by portraying arms coming out of unidentifiable bodies under priestly robes. Another motif that seemed to unify the pieces was weaving. (The Directed Studies junkie in me had to note that shout out to Jane Levin during her first lecture.) Different ropes, thread or interwoven patterns appeared through almost all of the paintings, suggesting an underlying interconnected narrative between the exhibition as a whole. One piece, though inconspicuously named “Actors of Terreiro XV,” shows Clemente interest in sexual exploration (that’s why he chose Yale). Depicting a nondescript body part that looked both phallic and a bit like a vagina, the painting definitely draws the eye. I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out what was going on. Though my conclusion was indecisive, you definitely don’t want to miss out on a chance to figure out the mystery yourself. The most intriguing painting, “The Hunter’s Dream,” portrays a needle and thread going through a button. This close-up, pink image is ambiguous at first, and suggests a sexual undertone.

The idea of a threaded button, beyond evoking images of penetration, brings about a sense of nostalgia for domesticity, indicating that the hunter misses home for more than one reason.

DIFFERENT ROPES, THREAD OR INTERWOVEN PATTERNS APPEARED THROUGH ALMOST ALL OF THE PAINTINGS, SUGGESTING AN UNDERLYING INTERCONNECTED NARRATIVE BETWEEN THE EXHIBITION AS A WHOLE As Clemente is a celebrated international painter living in New York, I definitely wondered why he would choose to locate his first substantial exhibit in the United States in New Haven. That being said, while it is here, I highly recommend taking advantage of the opportunity to enter the world his paintings create. The exhibition, which runs through June 2, is a must-see for Yalies and New Haveners alike. Contact LEAH MOTZKIN at leah.motzkin@yale.edu .

WEEKEND RECOMMENDS: Doubling up final projects

The tiniest syllabus overlap between two classes could be a life saver.


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YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, APRIL 5, 2013 · yaledailynews.com

WEEKEND BACKSTAGE

D.T. MAX WRITER, OBSERVER, DAVID FOSTER WALLACE AFICIONADO

// PENGUIN BOOKS

// BY NIKITA LALWANI

Q. If someone had never read David Foster Wallace, where would you say to begin? A. It would depend on who they were. For one type of person, I’d say read “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again.” The title essay, about a cruise ship, is a classic place to bring someone into Wallace, to start enjoying his writing. A different kind of person I’d send right to “Infinite Jest.” Why not? Why not see if they’ve got what it takes? My final answer is to read the biography. If a biography does anything well, it should lead you to a writer’s work. It doesn’t matter if a biographer likes the writer as a person, and there are plenty of examples of biographers who didn’t like their subjects by the end, but I can’t think of a single biography that doesn’t lead straight to the writer’s work. Q. When did you first encounter the works of David Foster Wallace? A. I read him when he was first published because he and I are contemporaries. In the files at Viking, his first publisher, there’s actually a letter to me from his editor at the time asking if I was interested in reviewing “The Broom of the System.” I still have the book and the letter. Still, I didn’t really appreciate David in any serious way until after his death. I mean, I loved “The Broom of the System.” I spent much of David’s life with that being my favorite of his books, which is a complete apostasy. It’s a hanging crime among Wallace aficionados. But it’s true: I just adored the book. I admired “Infinite Jest,” but I adored “The Broom of the System.” Now, having spent all these years with David’s writ-

ing, my thinking is more in line with the conventional thinking — and also David’s own thinking — which is that “Infinite Jest” is one of the greatest novels of our time. Q. Has your study of David Foster Wallace influenced the way you approach writing? A. Well, it’s so complicated. I certainly don’t write like him. But we have the same point of departure as writers, which you can see in the epigraph to the book: “What goes on inside is just too fast and huge and all interconnected for words to do more than barely sketch the outlines of at most one tiny little part of it at any given instant.” That’s his point of departure and mine, but we took two different approaches. He tries a sort of faux inclusiveness. I mean, he writes this maximalist novel that attempts to include everything. I’m the opposite. You can see in my book, I’m all about what you push away. I’m about trying to clean up the world in a way because the world is not really clean. His work is at least a nod to a dirty world that you can record in a dirty fashion — dirty in the sense of disorganized, chaotic, occurring naturally and in unknown non-repeating patterns. Q. Has David influenced the way you approach life? A. I didn’t do the book just to write a book. I was very intrigued by David as an ethical figure. I mean, who isn’t interested in the question of how to live a good life, a life not beset by anxiety? He taught me lots of things. I think the things we think of as classically David really come out of 12-step therapy programs. To be honest, the

truth about 12-step therapy programs is that they really do help a lot of people. A lot of their wisdom is good, sound wisdom that highly intellectual people tend to discount or ignore. For instance, a really obvious thing from 12 steps is the idea of paying it forward. Paying it forward means if I do a good turn for you, you’ll do it for someone else. But I’m also helping myself by being generous to you. The weird thing is that it’s actually true. If you do something nice for someone, don’t you feel that? It’s a lovely feeling. It’s not a feeling that I was much more aware of until I was working on the book and became more conscious of it and of trying to do more things that fit under that category. I would see a person in need and respond perhaps a bit differently than I might have responded had David not been in my life. What’s ironic is that David was always struggling to put these things into action. He’s probably a better preacher than parishioner. But who isn’t, really? One of the weird things about David is that, after his death, people often confuse him with the virtues he describes. He was a brilliant decipherer of the need for those virtues. And he was a guy who really, nobly tried. The one thing you’ve got to say about David is that he never stopped trying. But he’s not Gandhi. You know, in “Consider the Lobster,” there’s this wonderful line — “Is it all right to boil a sentient creature alive just for our gustatory pleasure?” — and that night, after writing, David ate two lobsters. I love that. You don’t want to write a biography of a saint. But to write about someone with saintly aspirations, someone who verbalized saintliness for the rest of us, that’s really rich.

Q. You’ve said that David Foster Wallace was a “sort of martyr for literature.” A. Yes. I don’t want to overstate the extent to which David’s death was a result of his frustrations as a writer, but there’s definitely a connection, and a significant one too. But more broadly, David was a guy who believed that the written word could make us whole as nothing else could — movies couldn’t, plays couldn’t, other kinds of work couldn’t. In “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men,” there’s a story about a depressed woman whose neediness pushes everyone away, which, of course, only makes her needier. The only hope in grim stories like these is the hope of the story itself as a story — not just the ability of the story to heal, but the ability of narrative to calm. That’s a part of David’s makeup I’ve found very appealing, and I think you see it in all of his fiction. Q. David Foster Wallace once wrote that reading a writer’s biography leaves us uneasy, that “the person we encounter in the literary biography could not possibly have written the works we admire.” If David could have read your biography, what do you think he’d say? A. That’s an unfair question. That’s like asking, would your first wife like your second wife? First wives never really like second wives. And what author has ever really liked a biography of him? Actually, one of David’s close friends said after having read my biography that it would have been David’s deathbed wish. Because it takes him so seriously as a writer. But David was a very private person, a person with a lot of self-hatred. I don’t think that type of per-

son, someone with a tendency to hide, is very eager to see himself laid out for the world, however artfully. That said, David was a great admirer of Joseph Frank’s fivevolume biography of Dostoevsky. What David took out of that work was that a biography is great if it enlightens you about a person and a person’s struggles, but not in a trivial way, in a way that connects to the culture of the time. That’s what I tried to do — I wanted you to see David as an individual figure, but also as a figure of his time, which is also my time. He’s someone coming of age in the permissive 70s, going to college and becoming a writer in the 80s, in the Reagan years, when intellectual life was so dismissed, and then finding himself in the 90s, where the cultural stance of the intelligentsia was that everything that was worth knowing was already known. In the midst of that complexity, he was trying to find his place as a writer, to ask, “What is my voice useful for?” That’s what my story is supposed to be about.

Q. What would you ask David in person, if you could? A. I never missed conversation with him while writing this book. I was surprised because I’ve done a lot of interviewing in my life and a lot of profiles. But I had 200 of his letters, beautiful letters, and I had the interviews he’d done, some of which were very skillful. If you do your work well and properly as a biographer, you develop your own idea of the person, consistent with theirs but independent from it. What could you then ask? Is the question the unknowable: Why did you choose the end you chose? Or the unanswerable? — where did your huge talent come from? Or is the question something more pedestrian, like when did you start “Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way”? Did you start at Yaddo or at home in Illinois later the same year? That’s a question I wouldn’t mind asking, actually, but I’m not sure I’d want to take up his time with that. Contact NIKITA LALWANI at nikita.lalwani@yale.edu .

YOU DON’T WANT TO WRITE A BIOGRAPHY OF A SAINT. BUT TO WRITE ABOUT SOMEONE WITH SAINTLY ASPIRATIONS, THAT’S REALLY RICH.

D

.T. Max, a graduate of that school up north and staff writer at The New Yorker, published “Every Love Story Is A Ghost Story” in September, his latest novel and the first biography of the tormented writer David Foster Wallace. In it, Max meticulously recounts Wallace’s lifelong struggle to succeed as a novelist amidst depression and addiction. Dave Eggers called the biography “well researched, deeply sympathetic, and incredibly painful to read.” This week, before giving a Master’s Tea at Morse College, Max sat down with WEEKEND to discuss what he has learned from Wallace, why “Infinite Jest” is one of the greatest novels of all time and what he’d say if he could meet Wallace today.

This WEEKEND  

April 5, 2013

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