WEEKEND // FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2012
A DOUBLE LIFE
A DOUBLE LIFE Balancing activism and fidelity to Yale BY AKBAR AHMED, PAGE 3
A PARTING NOTE
A SUITABLE PLOT
Your editors bid adieu, reflect on the year past and beckon in a new order
Harrison Monsky looks into acquiring an eternal home at the Grove Street Cemetery
The tunes of WEEKEND past, present, future
// KATE MCMILLAN
YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2012 · yaledailynews.com
The social media spell // BY ZOE GREENBERG
Grown-ups think that Facebook is the key to extraordinary success. They also understand nothing about Facebook. My grandfather, for instance, created a page to publicize his new book, but refused to add any friends. In the “About Me” section of my mom’s page (which she wanted for professional reasons), she wrote “Dear Friends, I do not collect friends on Facebook, and I do not get my messages here.” The problem is, because grownups believe social media is magic, they keep hiring college students to connect them to the online world. (Though they do it in tricky ways, claiming you’ll work on “youth outreach” or “online organizing.”) I know, because this very summer, the City Commissioner of Philadelphia hired me to be her social media strategist. To me, the concept of social media is very boring. I deleted my Facebook for a year, and I only got it back so I could stay in touch with my ten-yearold best friend in Argentina. Unfortunately, there aren’t many jobs, and the field of social media is one where being young and unqualified is golden. So, I went to work. My first Tuesday on the job, I stayed late to go to a panel called “Ask the Expert: Social Media.” The panel was in the University Science Center, in a room filled with geometric shapes. There were blue and black rectangles on the rug and a wavy square ceiling panel that dipped in the center of the room. Everything was very cyber-hip.
On one wall there was a clock made of mirrors that shot out in all directions. Sitting across from me were two women: One looked about sixty and wore leopard print heels; the other seemed to be in her forties, with spiky blonde hair that was dark at the roots, and pink-framed glasses. Besides me, no one in the room was under the age of thirty. Gloria Bell was our social media expert. “I am my brand,” said Gloria. “People know Gloria Bell. I have a Google Alert on myself.” She recommended we do this for our companies, so we would know who was talking about us. I wondered whether telling us to set up a Google alert really counted as expert information, but I wrote it down anyway. “If you have a great company picnic,” she said, raising her eyebrows and looking around the group, “post a couple of pictures online.” Her main point was that companies need social media to show that they are “real” and “human.” These words had a tinny sound when she said them, like they might dent if we threw them against a wall. Back in the office, the City Commissioner wanted me to reach out to unlikely voters over Facebook. I tried to explain that people who were unlikely to vote were also unlikely to friend the City Commissioner on Facebook, but the faith of grown-
// TAO TAO HOLMES
ups in social media is persistent and unwavering. We found out halfway through the summer that Philadelphia actually has a detailed social media policy, which requires every update to be approved by the Mayor’s Office. Also, you had to disable the comment sections. These policies aren’t super
This fraternity wants you! And no one else... // BY CODY KAHOE
Dear Students, As you all know, Yale’s newest fraternity, Beta Upsilon Chi (BYX), has run into problems recently concerning its policy of admitting only students who are avowed Christians. In my opinion, every student, no matter his or her race, color, creed, gender, or religion, deserves a place where he or she will not be bothered by people of other races, colors, creeds, genders, or religions. Therefore, as chair of the Yale Fraternal Undergraduate Committee for Students (YFUCS), I have taken it upon myself to compile the following recommendations for other new fraternities that would serve the needs of Yale’s diverse campus. Hopefully, the work of YFUCS will provide each Yale student a place to call not someone else’s home. Sincerely, N. Ferguson YFUCS Chair Pi Epsilon Beta: A fraternity open only to Yale students from Loup City, Neb., the greatest city in America! Students wishing to rush should be able to trace their families at least three generations back in the Ol’ Loup. Prospective founder, Felix Ungerfalls ’15, says, “We want to give other Loupers a place where they can relax, reminisce about the good old days down at Dead Horse Creek Monument, and just Loup around!” According to Ungerfalls, the fraternity will admit new brothers according to the traditional quotas of Ol’ Loupyloup: 98.7% white, 0.1% Native American, 0.4% Asian, 0.2% from other races, and 0.6% from two or more races. The annual fee for the fraternity would be $50, in Nebraska state quarters. Zeta Omega Sigma: A fraternity open only to Zoroastrian students, the best religion in America! Students must show a true belief in the transcendent Ahura Mazda, his asha as the antithesis of druj, and the final renovation of the world brought about by a Saoshyant after the defeat of Angra Mainyu. Future
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members can look forward to long nights studying the Avesta and some great strengthening of the waters! Non-Zoroastrian students are welcome to attend socials. The annual fee would be 76 siglos. Nu Zeta Gamma: A fraternity open only to Yale students who are members of one of Yale’s a cappella groups, the greatest groups on campus! “The only stipulation is having a song in your heart,” says prospective founder Phil Lala ’14, adding that the song in your heart should probably be Michael Bublé’s “Haven’t Met You Yet.” Brothers can look forward to late nights of drunken singing, casual socials for people who like singing, and an annual instrumentburning to be followed by singing. The annual fee for the fraternity would be one rendition of “Somebody to Love.” Upsilon Omicron Lambda Omicron: A fraternity open only to EVERYONE BECAUSE YOLO!!!!!!!!!!!! But in all seriousness, no Irish people. Omega Omega Omega: A fraternity open only to Yale students who are girls, the greatest gender in America! “No, it’s not a sorority. It’s a female fraternity. Those exist in some places,” says prospective founder Christopherina McNally ’12. “And, uh, I’m not a guy, so stop looking at me like I’m a guy because, uh, I’m not. And I have a cold so that’s why my voice is like this,” he added. This new frat would provide a place where “you know, ladies can just be ladies and do whatever it is that we ladies do. I would know because I’m a girl. Like, we can do pillow fights and wrestle and play spin the bottle and things, just us ladies and stuff.” The annual fee for the fraternity would be a picture of yourself to be stored in Christopherina’s official vault. Mu Alpha Nu: A fraternity open only to Brandon Levin, the most talented and attractive and all-around nice
guy in America! Prospective founder Brandon Levin ’13 says, “Seriously? Another thing? I’m already doing this Counselor to Search Committee thing. I’ve got the Whiff stuff to plan. I barely have time to continue secretly running the YCC! [Pause.] Well, I guess I’ll do it.” Although the fraternity will be open for membership only to Brandon Levin, MAN will hold office hours open to the general Yale community, even if you’re not Brandon Levin. Visitors can look forward to sitting in a room with Brandon Levin. Delta Lambda Mu: A fraternity open to all undergraduate students not named “Martin,” the worst name in America! Nu Nu Nu: A fraternity open only to freshmen, the best class in America! Prospective founder Michael Scarborough ’16 explained, “Wait, where is Crown Street?” He later added, “That’s where the house is supposed to be.” Members can look forward to drinking, winding up in Yale Health, and having a classic sit-down with Dean Marichal Gentry! The annual fee would be however much money you plan to spend on Wenzels this year. Iota Sigma Alpha: A fraternity open only to Israeli students, the best students in America! “Dean Mary Miller promised us some land off campus, so we’ll be settling at 98 Lynwood,” prospective founder Teddy H. ’13 said. Members can look forward to long, uninterrupted, totally peaceful nights. The annual fee would be 50 shekels. Iota Sigma Alpha: A fraternity open only to Palestinian students, the best students in America! “What do you mean 98 Lynwood is taken? We live there!” said prospective founder Yassie A. ’13. The annual fee would be 50 dinars.
There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest. -ELIE WIESEL
Contact CODY KAHOE at email@example.com .
compatible with the way that Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn function, but I did what I could. It was often troubling to see adults investing so faithfully in a process they knew nothing about. Though, ultimately, maybe it’s the same way young people believe in mortgages and pensions. We have no idea what we’re
doing, but we dutifully, determinedly, press on. Contact ZOE GREENBERG at firstname.lastname@example.org .
What % of this turducken is carrot? // BY BAOBAO ZHANG
Last Saturday evening, I hosted a dinner party. I wanted it to be the perfect dinner party. Long before I sent out the invitations, I fastidiously planned for a three-course meal. While many budding young chefs turn to the Internet for recipes, I sought out a more authoritative source. During the summer, I discovered the TV program “America’s Test Kitchen” on PBS. Christopher Kimball, editor of Cook’s Illustrated magazine, and his team of chefs approach the culinary arts like a science. They experiment with different recipes and conduct blind taste tests for every recipe they publish. The show even has an in-house chemist! “Our recipes are perfect and foolproof because they have been tested again and again,” Kimball often proclaims. “America’s Test Kitchen” appealed to the inner nerd in me because, at the time, I was working for Columbia political scientist Donald Green. Green and his colleague, Alan Gerber, a professor at Yale, pioneered the use of experimental methods in their discipline. For instance, to test the effectiveness of “get-out-the-vote” campaign strategies, they conducted trials in dozens of American cities. Through these field experiments, Green and Gerber discovered what campaign tactics work (canvassing, nonpartisan mail and phone banks) and what tactics didn’t work (leaflets, partisan mail, robocalls and emails). If experimental methods could improve political campaigns, then surely they could make my dinner a huge success. All I would have to do is follow the directions in the recipe book written by Kimball and his team of mad scientists. Except I got to the Calhoun College kitchen an hour too late. Except the kitchen ran out of black pepper. Except I could not find measuring spoons. Forty minutes into cooking, the kitchen was a mess. Plates of chicken juice sat on the counter. The oil in the frying pan popped in mini-explosions. Because I forgot to poke holes in the potatoes before I put them in the oven, I anticipated they were going to turn into grenades. At last, the dinner was completed. I sighed in disappointment (also in relief because the potatoes didn’t explode). I’d
say the meal averaged about a “Yale B+.” The chicken, though incredibly crispy, sat in a little pool of grease. The carrots, though buttery, lacked flavor. The peas, though well-seasoned, turned cold and mushy. My entree paled in comparison to the immaculately decorated chocolate cake my friend brought for dessert. My replication of a culinary experiment failed. Despite dozens of reassurances about my cooking, I remained sullen. What had gone wrong? Looking at my friends’ stuffed mouths and distended bellies, I realized maybe nothing had gone wrong after all. In a double-taste test, the subjects would have undoubtedly pooh-poohed my meal. But I was among friends who needed a respite from the dining hall and Gourmet Heaven. As much as I would like to believe that cooking is a science, I have to admit it is partly an art. It is as much about creating and enjoying food with the people you love as it is about weighing flour or taking the temperature of meats. I hate to turn into Rachael Ray or Paula Deen, who spin platitudes about life using culinary metaphors, but their folksy wisdom (and inexact measurements) have a point. We live in an era of big data where a lot of our personal lives can be quantified: how many friends we have on Facebook, how many photos we are tagged in, how many people “liked” our status updates or who is likely to vote in a presidential election. We have become SAT scores, GPAs or applicant #498 for a job. Our human interactions are seemingly mapped out with precision. English poet Alexander Pope lived during the Enlightenment, an era of important scientific and technological discoveries. In his poem “The Proper Study of Mankind,” he praised science yet remained skeptical about its ability to explain humanity. One can “Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides,” he mused, but humans are “the glory, jest and riddle of the world.” As much as I cringe at measurement error and value experimental methods, I still like to believe the proper study of mankind is man. Contact BAOBAO ZHANG at email@example.com .
WEEKEND RECOMMENDS: “Mugglemarch,” the New Yorker’s profile of J.K. Rowling.
YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2012 · yaledailynews.com
A BALANCING ACT // BY AKBAR AHMED
n March 15, 2011, while most of Yale’s undergraduate students took a respite from campus over the course of spring break, 16 students and alumni filed a federal Title IX complaint against the University, launching Yale to the forefront of national discourse and opening up an ongoing conversation about the University’s modus operandi. In the weeks and months to come, a handful of Title IX complainants went public about their involvement in the action. To some Yalies, these individuals seemed to have taken a step out of the bounds of acceptable criticism — they had gone too far, been too vocal. They needed to tone it down. “I heard that a lot, even from friends who were supportive: ‘Couldn’t you have done this in a quieter way?’” said Alexandra Brodsky ’12, one of the complainants. Brodsky is skeptical of such calls for a less public effort more sympathetic to Yale’s reputation. She points out that the complaint was seen as “a last resort after years and years of student calls for changes” and that if the University had handled the Title IX issue well, it could have clearly shown that it cared about the problem and student concerns. “To be honest, I care more about students not getting raped than I do about the University’s reputation,” Brodsky told me, her tone firm over the phone. To ask whether her peers agreed with that prioritization might seem ludicrous. But to question how they perceived her methods is to look at how willing they are, how willing we are, to hear negative things about an institution we worked hard to get into, elected to join — and continue to benefit from. That question is particularly salient now, as Yale students become increasingly willing to criticize how the University is run. Over the course of the last few weeks, the newly formed Y Syndicate has encouraged students to take a more active role in administrative decisions — and especially to fight for a voice on the search committee that will select the successor to University President Richard Levin. This Thursday, the activist group Students Unite Now sent a campuswide email echoing that sentiment. “Only by joining together can we ensure that the Yale Corporation will listen,” the email read. The students aligning them-
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selves with these and other movements are joining a group of activists already well aware that their public stances put them in a challenging position. Sarah Cox ’14, a SUN leader, said the chief difficulty lies in publicly faulting a University that most students love in an a near-unconditional way. “I think there is very much a sense of gratitude towards Yale,” she said. “Both gratitude and loyalty to the institution, which I think in some cases is actually a real block for people in terms of being able to critique what’s going on.” Another SUN member, Y Syndicate co-founder Elias Kleinbock ’14, said that critically examining Yale often feels like “cruelly biting the hand that feeds.” Speaking softly and rapidly, he adds: “Hopefully, it’s not cruel. I want Yale to live up to its own values.” To activists, that generally means the principle of free speech and thought, one some argue has been sacrificed on the altar of image-consciousness. Restrictions on freedom of speech at Yale-NUS are an issue; limited channels for students to communicate with administrators are cited as problematic. Kleinbock said he feels inspired by what he sees as Yale’s original message. For other Yale undergraduates, myriad issues inspire activism, whether it’s supporting workers in dining halls or reducing the student income contribution to Yale’s financial aid plans. And even as they work to change the system that enacts these policies, these students take classes, catch up on readings and rush to their deans’ offices to turn in their schedules. They are working to change the world, but not full-time. “I think that it’s really important for me to pay my dues to New Haven by providing services to the people whom the University-hospital economy is screwing over … I say, ‘Yale, you have not really helped to bring back manufacturing jobs to New Haven or gotten New Haven people to do your jobs — I’m going to make up for that and do what you should be doing,” says Amalia Horan Skilton ’13, a veteran of Eli involvement in the city through her former roles as Ward 1 Democratic Committee co-chair and co-director of the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project. “But I don’t at any of those times make the argument that I am not a Yale student — I spend 60 hours a week going to be class, labs and libraries. That is my job
in the same way that other peoples’ jobs are 9-5. You can’t disidentify with that and be very honest.” Maintaining that student identity opens Yale students engaged in activism up to a host of concerns. They are at once associated with this institution and yet cynical about its motives and actions, desperate to mobilize and help their peers but vulnerable to their judgments. They form communities that they find supportive but run the risk of being typecast and excluded. They feel they have to work hard to even justify their views in the first place. After all, it’s not easy being critical. *** Kleinbock was motivated to help start the Y Syndicate by anger. He was “pissed off,” he said, “seeing stories about students in Quebec striking, stopping going to class and demanding fair tuition, and the thought that couldn’t happen here.” Activists suggest that Yalies rarely go this far in part because they feel indebted to Yale. On average, students receive $37,500 from the University, part of its commitment to meet every student’s demonstrated financial need. Alejandro Gutierrez ’13, a current SUN leader, said he was initially apprehensive about joining a financial aid reform movement spearheaded by SUN’s predecessor, the Undergraduate Organizing Committee, for precisely this reason. As a student on full financial aid, Gutierrez said, he did not want to criticize the system that in many ways enabled his enrollment. He decided to join only after conversations with SUN activists convinced him of the adverse effects of Yale’s student income contribution policy, which asks students on financial aid to earn $3,000 per year to pay toward their schooling. “It’s completely valid to say, ‘Why do you expect me to pay $3,000 in the summer when the things you want me to do to advance my intellectual development are not going to make me that much money?’” Skilton said. In joining the movement, Gutierrez said he discovered a group of students who could cut through what he sees as a Yalepromoted narrative that actively discourages student critique. “A lot of Yale students are kind of spoon-fed this narrative of Yale that is very specific: that it SEE BALANCING ACT PAGE B8
“To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.” - ABRAHAM LINCOLN
SEE BALANCING ACT PAGE B8
// JOSEPH BREEN
WEEKEND RECOMMENDS: “The Casual Vacancy.” Seven more books!
YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2012 · yaledailynews.com
A PARTING NOTE // BY WEEKEND
FIRST VOICE Time passes. Listen. Time passes. An owl flies home past Bethesda, to a chapel in an oak. And then dawn inches up. [One distant bell-note, faintly reverberating** It’s our last bleary-eyed morning in New Haven, stumbling over aching limbs out of 202 York. There were nights we rued such mornings. There was the night when, the last story checked in at 3:30 a.m., we looked out the window to discover a city transformed, one that had wrapped itself in a cloak of white during the hours in which we had lost ourselves in our labor. That was a beautiful walk home, trudging in thin sweaters and sleek shoes through fairytale October snow. But what illogic, that we were tasked with representing the living and breathing of this our community, the student corpus at large, when we were too caught up in our own publication to notice much of anything else. We, the hermits of the fourth
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“Perhaps it’s good for one to suffer. Can an artist do anything if he’s happy? Would he ever want to do anything? What is art, after all, but a protest against the horrible inclemency of life?” - ALDOUS HUXLEY
floor of 202 York, know not of the goings on outside our very window. We’ve been told many tales by our valiant writers of WEEKEND, and have read of many things which now beckon. It’s time we once again see for ourselves. We covered protests of nationwide inequality, got fartsy with the artsy, and nearly succeeded in changing Harvard’s official color to magenta. And there was the first night, when we sent out pages to the printer just one minute before the absolute deadline of 5:35 a.m. That was a victory all its own. Look, we know this sounds highfalutin and self-aggrandizing, but these pages are what we’ve dedicated our year to. We probably didn’t work as hard as we’d like to believe, we probably didn’t pour blood, sweat and toil into this publication whenever and wherever possible. Every day wasn’t really WEEKEND, was it? But, in its own way, it was. We took so much from this publication, learned so much
from the people who made it possible to produce the thirteen-odd stories we put out every week. We take so much from this year, from each issue served up Friday morning and each Thursday night spent piecing it together. We hope we gave back just as much as we put in. MRS CHERRY OWEN Remember last night? In you reeled, my boy, as drunk as a deacon with a big wet bucket and a fish-frail full of stout and you looked at me and you said, ‘God has come home!’ you said, and then over the bucket you went, sprawling and bawling, and the floor was all flagons and eels. All we can say is: we think we’re leaving you with a new WEEKEND generation twice as good as we were at best. We hope we’re leaving you with one hell of a lot. ** Italic passages excerpted from Dylan Thomas’s “Under Milk Wood.”
WEEKEND RECOMMENDS: “Parenthood.”
NBC’s most underrated show.
YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2012 · yaledailynews.com
A GOOD NEIGHBORHOOD // BY HARRISON MONSKY
I SUDDENLY FEEL DAUNTED BY THE PROSPECT OF MAKING A DECISION I WILL HAVE TO DIE WITH.
S AT U R D AY SEPTEMBER 29
Midway through a lazy summer before my freshman year of college, my grandmother asked me if I would like to pay my great-grandmother a visit. So I accompanied my grandparents to Mount Carmel Cemetery, a tightly packed maze of monuments built by Brooklyn’s well-to-do Jewish families on a slope next to the Jackie Robinson Parkway in Queens. And I was surprised when my grandmother, looking down at her mother’s gravestone, her meticulously coiffed hair tangling in the wind, turned to my grandfather, and declared: “This is where I want to go.” My grandfather, a son of the South, explained that he had always imagined he would be laid to rest in the shade of willow trees and Spanish moss in his native Montgomery — far from the clamor of highways or the shadow of skyscrapers. Here, things were simply too crowded. Yet this was exactly the point. “This is a good neighborhood,” my grandmother retorted. A Jewish girl from Brooklyn who had moved to the South after a dozen dates and three years of college, she refused to spend eternity so far from home. *** For nearly a century, the town of New Haven buried its dead in a communal grave behind its Center Church and beneath the large square park we now call the New Haven Green. But after a deadly yellow fever outbreak in 1794, the town elders resolved to build a proper cemetery. James Hillhouse 1773 acquired the bulk of New Haven’s “Second Quarter” in 1796 to make room for its dead. Now the cemetery has filled as the University town has expanded; it sits just north of the center of Yale’s gothic campus, bordering long stretches of sidewalk that lead to more classrooms and laboratories. Hillhouse planned the cemetery to have eleven avenues of its own, all of which, excluding Center Avenue, are named after a different variety of tree that was to line its gravel paths (this never materialized). Towering obelisks and arching angels are the norm, and one casually passes the graves of Noah Webster 1778, of dictionary fame, or Eli Whitney 1792, whose classical sarcophagus has high drama but no interchangeable parts. And then there are the Yale presidents, whose imposing plots their school has always bought well in advance: from
“Where globalization means, as it so often does, that the rich and powerful now have new means to further enrich and empower themselves at the cost of the poorer and weaker, we have a responsibility to protest in the name of universal freedom.” - NELSON MANDELA
Clapp and Stiles to Griswold and Brewster. Now at Yale, where these names carry a kind of mythic meaning, I’ve often walked along the Cemetery’s high walls and thought of my unexpected trip to Carmel. As much as I sympathized with my grandmother, I wondered why anyone would want to be buried in an urban jungle like Carmel; I wondered why it mattered at all where we are buried after death, let alone whom we are buried near. So I decide to look for my own plot at Grove Street. I meet with Joan and Bill Cameron, an elderly couple who have overseen the cemetery for the past thirty-four years. Joan, whose high pitch lends her voice the character of a little girl with a sore throat, figures only a hundred plots remain, each of which runs $6,500. There is no student discount, but there is a guarantee of eternal upkeep. I ask about finding an obelisk or a monument (I am concerned about fitting in). Bill tells me those are still common but pricey. Had I died in the mid-1800s, I could have ordered a more reasonably priced “Clinky,” an elegant obelisk made from a hollow template of removable metal parts. The innovation allowed family members to unscrew and replace an inscription long after a beloved’s death. Only decades later, paranoid plot shoppers had laid this short-lived cemetery fad to rest. I suddenly feel daunted by the prospect of making a decision I will have to die with. According to Bill I am not alone. “You’d be surprised how much you learn about people working at a cemetery, how different they all are,” he tells me. “Some of them agonize over choosing the location of their plot for months. Others just flip a coin.” Neither method sounds particularly appealing. I ask for Joan’s top recommendation — number 62, some fifty plots north of the Cemetery’s Grove Street gate, at the end of Laurel Avenue. “It’s a nice neighborhood,” she says. And it is. I am just next door to a shared family plot, which houses in two halves the wives and children of Charles Hubbel and Horace Morton, who died in the 1890s. The miniature pipe fence that surrounds their compound is elegant and inviting, providing a landmark that will make directions to my plot more readable – a promising indication that good fences really do make good neighbors.
After a quick visit next door, I know that Charles married Horace’s sister and that both families lost children young — Charles Jr. at twenty-four and James Morton at just fifteen months. 62 Laurel Avenue is beautiful. Two small trees bend out from the plot next door; there is shade enough to waste a long summer afternoon, not more than a two-hour drive from Carmel. I feel as if I could take it then and there, but suddenly I feel homesick. *** Three weeks after our visit to Carmel Cemetery, my grandmother invited me to see Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town.” Everyone knows that “Our Town” is sad. “Such sobbing and nose-blowing you never heard,” a young Wilder wrote to the society hostess Sybil Colfax in 1937, horrified by the reaction to previews of the play’s third act. “Matinee audience, mostly women, emerged red-eyed, swollen faced, and mascarastained. I never meant that.” But how could Wilder not have? Just halfway through the act, tears melted my grandmother’s mascara into those smudgy streams of bluish black. And while I did not have to worry about mascara stains, my resolve to keep dry in all of the usual manly ways — staring at the wall, fingering my keys — barely prevented an embarrassing overflow. It has been four years since my grandmother ruined her favorite handkerchief, but the sight of grave stones still makes me wonder how such a simple third act can be so devastating: how Wilder’s Emily Gibbs, now dead and buried in the town cemetery, learns from her new neighbors that the dead can visit the living just as the living visit the dead; how after revisiting just one morning of her life, she flees back to her tombstone, overwhelmed by the realization that we cannot comprehend the value of life until after death; how graveyards are made of neighborhoods we can visit and depart, and other neighborhoods where we must choose to remain. Contact HARRISON MONSKY at firstname.lastname@example.org .
// BRYAN CHANG
The Grove Street Cemetary
WEEKEND RECOMMENDS: Getting a head start on midterm studying. Yeah … no.
YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2012 · yaledailynews.com
RHYTHMS, MELODIES TO STIR YOU... Carly Rae Jepsen’s first “Kiss” // BY WILL ADAMS
We are never, ever bonding
It took a Justin Bieber tweet in January, a glut of parodies and sing-a-longs in April, and nine consecutive weeks at the top of the Billboard Chart for people to realize that “Call Me Maybe” was pretty much the best song ever. Strings that strike in time with a fluttering heart and an unabashed declaration of love resonated with anyone who’d ever had a crush. A rise to fame as meteoric as Carly Rae Jepsen’s can be dealt with in a variety of ways. One method involves rush releasing a slapdash cash-in with nine carbon copies of “Call Me Maybe” to capitalize on the fad. The other involves assessing the artist’s appeal and crafting a cohesive record that expands upon that appeal. Only one of these options will get you the best pop album of the year. Carly’s team, fortunately, chose the latter, and thus “Kiss” was born. Thanks to the high profile line-up of songwriters and producers (Max Martin, Bonnie McKee, Redfoo of LMFAO) who quickly picked up on the appeal, the thesis — Carly Rae Jepsen has a crush — is telegraphed from the moment the album begins. On the opener ���Tiny Little Bows,” a heliumfed Sam Cooke sample warbles, “Cupid, draw back your bow.” Then, the disco synths swoop in, the arrow fires, and song after
smitten song steals your heart. Carly wears her influences well. You can tell that she’s listened to Robyn more than incidentally, especially since the second single, “This Kiss,” is essentially a “Call Your Girlfriend” narrative. But where Robyn mopes, Carly Rae beams with glee: the lyric “I’m dancing the way you are/And you’re dancing the way I am,” over 80s-core electropop couldn’t be more wide-eyed and eager. This glee pervades “Kiss”; Carly turns a guitar string into a wedding ring, says she just wants to drive you, and asks if you and she are going to be more than a memory. But is Carly’s star too bright to share the stage with others? “Kiss”’s low points arrive when other artists barge into the scene. “Good Time” finds Owl City dousing the party with some high fructose corn syrup woah-ohs, and the Justin Bieber duet “Beautiful” is, at its core, that One Direction song by way of Jason Mraz. As necessary as the duets seemed to boost sales, both songs trip up the album. Attenuating Carly’s appeal won’t fly; she’s bursting at the seams with a burgeoning love. There’s much more behind the cutesy posturing, and a pop star as refined as Carly Rae deserves all the stage time she needs to develop this persona. For now, “Kiss” will do. Contact WILL ADAMS at email@example.com .
// BY JACKSON MCHENRY You may think of Taylor Swift as the princess of bad breakups and tweenrelatable emotional trauma, but whenever I hear her latest single, all I think of is titration. Dr. DiMeglio, you see, has a certain fondness for, or rather an addiction to, Top 40 radio. It plays every week in his lab. As we weary premeds struggle through yet another synthesis lab, each reflux, distillation and isolation is narrated by Katy, Britney or Taylor. There isn’t any other sound, besides the occasional moan of low yield-induced despair. One semester in, hearing Adele outside of class gives me stress flashbacks; I can only dread what plastic pop song orgo will claim next. Contact JACKSON MCHENRY at firstname.lastname@example.org .
HAPPYLIFELOVE A pirate’s fife for me // BY AARON GERTLER I’m the kind of killjoy who can’t watch Johnny Depp stab evildoers without thinking about how pirates are just like regular robbers who prey on helpless innocents, only with boats. But all my scruples walk the plank when I put on Alestorm’s latest and greatest album, “Back Through Time.” Alestorm isn’t the world’s only pirate metal band (Scuurvy, Swashbuckle and the confusingly titled Verbal Deception crowd the scene), but they’re the only one to be seen on the U.K. charts lately (#200! Arrrr!). After “Captain Morgan’s Revenge” and “Black Sails at Midnight,” I thought they’d be out of ideas, but then came the opening lines of the title track. “Captain! Thar be Vikings off the starboard bow!” Alestorm is back, my friends — in Norwegian waters, circa 1000 AD. Thousands of bloodthirsty globetrotting blond savages; one ship full of humble musicians. A fair fight? Probably. Alestorm has gunpowder. Another quote from the first two minutes: “You put your faith in Odin and Thor / we put ours in cannons and whores / your Viking gods won’t save you now / when pirates strike from the starboard bow!” As the most badass band in the briny blue since the Beatles circa “Yellow Sub-
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marine,” Alestorm takes no prisoners. Multiple melodies per song, split between guitar, violin, accordion and Davy Jones knows what else, and an impressive number of amps compared to the number of outlets I’d expect to find aboard a pirate ship. Midtempo power ballads (“Scraping the Barrel”), uptempo jams (“Shipwrecked”), and really-uptempo drinking songs (“The Sunk’n Norwegian,” in which Alestorm apparently finds a tavern and names it after all the people they killed in the course of getting to shore). This is not for fans of Sunn O))) or Drudkh. There are no drones, no languages foreign or invented, no tracks that are just half-hour sustained growls. The longest Alestorm takes to do anything is when they kill a tentacled monster in under eight minutes. (This title deserves its own sentence: “Death Throes of the Terrorsquid”). Really, there’s not much else to say. It’s a strong album and invites singing along. If you still aren’t convinced, hold on for summer 2013: rumor has it the next Carribean time portal might drop them in feudal Japan, for that most timeless of conflicts: Pirates vs. Samurai. Avast!
// BY MILA HURSEY
If you choose to be happy in your life, listen to GROUPLOVE. And participate in group love, I guess. During the past 24 hours, I’ve listened to their song “Colours” at least twenty times. I rocked out in the library, walking to class, in my room, and finally at 1:41 a.m. as I am writing these words. It’s true happy music! There are colors and life and love. This song reminds me that there’s actually, “ … no need to be sad, It really ain’t that bad.” How profound is that? Just imagine that kind of positivity in an indie rock anthem. It’s like skipping through rainbow sprinkle rain. Contact MILA HURSEY at email@example.com .
Contact AARON GERTLER at firstname.lastname@example.org .
“The labor movement means just this: it is the last noble protest of the American people against the power of incorporated wealth.” -WENDELL PHILLIPS
WEEKEND RECOMMENDS: www.livechaotically.com SWUGlyfe, anyone?
YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2012 · yaledailynews.com
CoRaZON to cORaZoN, musical therapy // BY JEE BIJAN
It wasn’t a dream: He was awake and he was next to me. He had soft, curly hair and kind of a broad torso; really, we had met the night before. Set up by a friend in common. “Set up” meaning he was almost coerced to ask me out by someone he considers a friend but was clearly on my side, if there were any sides, since she, the friend, acted exactly in the way I wanted her to act from the very moment I revealed my feelings toward him, the romantic interest. I was thankful for this throughout, but obviously more concerned with my date-cum-relationship-cum-biggest mistake I ever made. In any case, we spent the night together. The date had been a success and my biggest worry in the morning was a palatable insecurity. I only told myself, “Don’t screw this up.” Four months later, when it was so cold outside that a walk from Lynwood to Park
Bless these Antlers // AUBE REY LESCURE
The free association song game kind of life // BY SARAH STRONG Sometimes I let myself be defined by my love of boy bands. As many groups asked for “fun facts” in my first days at Yale, my go to one became “I’ve seen the Backstreet Boys five times.” The inevitable “I thought they broke up” follows and I inform the questioner that they never broke up, a few of them just went to rehab. Because my love of boy bands is clear almost as soon as you meet me (look out for my BSB and NKOTBSB t-shirts) people are often surprised that I listen to “good music” too. Sure, some of my other favorite artists are considered novel like Avril Lavigne and Panic! At the Disco, but I know more Queen songs than many of my contemporaries and my iTunes library contains countless singersongwriters and musical soundtracks. I am definitely pulled in by a catchy hook: It is literally impossible not to like the songs “I Want It That Way” or “Popular” from Wicked, but song lyrics speak to me in ways melodies cannot. The whiteboard on my wall has lyrics that change with my mood — I am currently feeling Andy Grammer — and my notebooks are filled with as many rewritten songs as mathematical theorems. A recent physics lecture prompted me to write out Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” in its entirety. Yes, I know all the words, and yes, I
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would gladly rap them for you. I have been blessed with a great memory, especially for song lyrics, and I never exhaust my library. But I do not confine this passion to paper; tell me how you are feeling and I will sing you a song that I think describes your emotions or to which you will relate. I call this the free association song game, and I have made it a lifestyle. Hang around me and you will pick it up. My roommate now sings on repeat the songs I was obsessed with a year ago because they describe how she is feeling this week. This is one hundred percent a cliché, but song lyrics really do say the things I cannot put into words. A friend recently told me that he knew not to be flattered by things I said to him because they were only song lyrics, but I meant the words I said, they were just not originally written by me. To end with something from one of my favorite songs, Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life:” “I want something else to get me through this semicharmed kind of life.” For me, that something else is song lyrics … and boy bands! Contact SARAH STRONG at email@example.com .
“Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy; it is absolutely essential to it.” - HOWARD ZINN
// BY SUNIK KIM
250 Temple St., the ticketing site said. As a lowly freshman, I had no idea what or where this place was — hell, I had no idea that established off-campus acts actually played anywhere other than Toad’s. Using Google Maps (an indispensable freshman tool), I found that 250 Temple St. was on the far side of the Green from Old Campus. Okay, so maybe it’s an outdoor thing, I thought. This got me even more excited — pretty much all the shows I’ve seen in my time here have been in off-campus basements, so the pleasantry of the Green would be a refreshing change. Making sure to travel in a pack of three so as not to get preyed upon, I ventured through the Green and arrived safely at, according to Google, 250 Temple St. The only thing is — I found myself standing in front of a church. “Center Church-on-the-Green,” said a banner hanging on the front of the building. Right. Well, first off, there were three guys hanging out on the front steps smoking. That should’ve been enough of a hint, but even after seeing ethereal purple lights flashing through the windows, I was convinced I’d simply stumbled upon some bizarre New Haven cult ritual. But upon hesitantly entering the building, I found that the Antlers were indeed playing in the Center Church-on-the-Green. After shelling out $18 and getting my wristband, I entered the holy space. I walked down the aisle past pews full of young concertgoers. There was a chandelier hanging from the lofted ceiling. And where the altar is, in front of the organ, sat the opening act, Port St. Willow.
would slow your heartbeat, I did just that and he wasn’t even wearing a shirt. The most curious aspect of the futility of my foresight is that I was sure I was doing the right thing, i.e. I was sure I wasn’t in love. This is more than just a testament to my intelligence, or a case of Wittgensteinian self-deceit IRL. Psychology, a lower science, has given us Compartmentalizing, Defense Mechanisms, and the Müller-Lyer illusion, all #thingsidontbelievein, like inches, yards and stones. Unfortunately, there’s no way to measure my behavior but in American terms. Therapy: seven months after the four: Mecano’s “Me Cuesta Tanto Olvidarte.” Contact JEE BIJAN at firstname.lastname@example.org .
I’m a huge fan of the Antlers. Their album “Hospice” is one of the heaviest albums I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to, and their more recent efforts “Burst Apart” and “Undersea” are equally beautiful. So, imagine my embarrassment when I thought the opening act was the Antlers. They finished after 45 minutes, and I thought I’d just been ripped off. In my defense, Port St. Willow played a set filled with songs even more depressing than the Antlers’. Plus the lead singer had a very Antlers-esque falsetto. Their set was really quite good, and the fact that they were playing in a church added to the drama of the moment. But on to the main event. I’ll just say it upfront — the Antlers were great live. Really really great. Their guitar lines and rolling percussion and piercing vocals washed up against the walls of the church, adding a subtle echo to the mix. People headbanged in the pews. Two memorable moments: First, at one point, the lead singer’s mic cut out in the middle of a song. Rather than stopping the song, the band carried on with the instrumental, and in the final few seconds, the singer formed a megaphone with his hands and belted out the last word to the enraptured congregation. Second, at another point the stage lights cut out, leaving the church in complete darkness. After standing around in silence for a bit, they asked everybody to turn on their iPhone “flashlight” apps and point them towards the stage. As phones turned on one by one and the four band members came into view, there was a strange, incredible — almost spiritual — vibe enveloping the place. Everyone was silent, holding their devices above their heads. No one moved. Then, suddenly, the stage lights came back on and the spell was broken. It was a good night. Contact SUNIK KIM at email@example.com .
WEEKEND RECOMMENDS: lucilleandmitt.tumblr.com Lululululululululululu...
YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2012 · yaledailynews.com
IN THE CLASSROOM, ON THE STREET
BALANCING ACT FROM PAGE B3 fosters your growth and gives you so many opportunities, things that force you to think that you should be extremely grateful to Yale,” he said. “Which is true. I am very grateful. Without Yale’s help, I’d be back home at community college.” Instead, he came here, joining a community where many feel — as he once did — that they are bound to their institution due to what a number of activists call a “Mother Yale” complex. But Kenneth Reveiz ’12, a former UOC activist and the co-founder of the People’s Art Collective of New Haven, said the real purpose of Yale is to encourage students “to do something actively.” Critiquing the institution can fall within that realm. And, Brodsky said, exposing Yale’s flaws can be a way of displaying love for the University. “While the Title IX [complaint] was obviously asking the administration to change its policies, I never understood that as being against Yale,” she said. “I saw that as being for Yale.” This may be an attitude that current students find difficult to adopt because, according to some activists, Yale’s approach to education discourages critical thoughts and actions. “What I quickly realized [after arriving here] is that Yale as an institution isn’t trying to cultivate serious intellectual, critical thinkers — it is trying to cultivate leaders,” said Matt Shafer ’13, a former UOC member and activist with the now-defunct group Christians for Social Justice. “The ethos of public leadership is at odds with the kind of social critique.” Now, Shafer added, he sees that the philosophy most Yalies subscribe to is a form of what he calls ‘establishment liberalism.’ With less radical thought present in the campus conversation, though, those who seek to change social structures and systems more aggressively can begin to feel alone and out of place. Seated at the People’s Art Collective blocks away from Yale’s campus, Reveiz reminisced about his time at Yale. “People become insanely depressed for feeling like they don’t belong,” he said.
// VIVIENNE JIAOZHANG
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*** Feeling different can manifest itself in a range of decisions for activists at Yale, from finding a community that works, be it on or off campus, to considering leaving the school entirely. SUN leader Cox, for instance, took last semester off to live and work in New Haven for a labor union. In the fall prior to that experience, she said she had strongly considered dropping out of Yale altogether. For a time, she considered transferring to the University of North CarolinaChapel Hill. “I have a hard time being here,”
“If the machine of government is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law.” -HENRY DAVID THOREAU
Cox said. “It was a debate I had with myself, whether to transfer to UNC. I feel a lot of guilt going to a private school when I believe in public schools.” After giving the matter thought, Cox came to sympathize with a different view, one rooted, she said, in a sense that to leave Yale without tackling the problems she’d identified here would be “letting [herself] off the hook.” Had she not felt at home in a community of students committed to questioning the institution, though, Cox said staying would have been “impossible.” Reveiz emphasized that students who find Yale’s policies problematic must make an effort to find these sympathetic communities as soon as possible, lest they face the kind of political isolation he said he felt during much of his time here. That sense is rooted in a feeling that Yalies are reluctant to think about those whose loss their privilege is based in, to use their education to tackle social issues, which makes the conversations some undergraduates would like to have simply impossible on campus. For Cox and Nia Holston ’14, the current Ward 1 co-chair and political action chair for the Black Student Alliance at Yale, that support came in the form of a guide: LaTisha Campbell ’12. “She was the political action chair before me,” Holston said. “I met her at Bulldog Days and told her what I was interested in. She began almost grooming me to take over her role.” This sort of guidance is common, Holston added, helping current activists pass on their ideas and values to future ones. At the same time, reaching out only to likely supporters can result in what a number of student activists said they saw as a larger problem within the left, one that has manifested itself on a smaller scale within Yale organizations: a lack of self-critique and self-awareness. “The UOC had this sort of attitude of a group of people who finally found each other after moments of, ‘Are we the only people at Yale, am I the only person at Yale [who thinks in a certain way]?’” Ben Crosby ’14, Holston’s co-chair on the Ward 1 Democratic Committee, said. “There was a certain circlingthe-wagons approach to a lot of the things we did, which ultimately limited our effectiveness.” Shafer said the inability of the UOC to criticize itself from within contributed to the frustration he personally felt with the organization — though he harked back to a Yalie fix-it mindset by tacking on that it was “a failing on his part to stay within it and try to fix it.” In a New Journal profile of SUN, the UOC’s new incarnation, UOC member Mac Herring ’12 said that she saw the organization as more concerned with effecting change than boosting
its numbers. SUN, though, seems more likely to target both goals. The organization has been surveying undergraduate students across residential colleges since the spring, sending volunteers to knock on doors and ask individuals — and even whole suites — to respond to a survey that presented facts students may not have known about the University’s policies. Crosby, one of the leaders of the new group, summed up his philosophy about the direction he’d like to take compared to that of the UOC: “It is very easy to say that Yale students are apathetic — that’s the easy thing to say — [but] for me, the response to that cannot be, ‘So, I’m just going to sit in my little activist corner.’ “It has to be going out knocking on doors and talking to Yalies who don’t identify as leftists or activists.” Will the student body be more receptive today than activists have perceived them to be in the past? Thinking back to his experience with the Ward 1 campaign of now-Alderwoman Sarah Eidelson ’12, Crosby said he believes so. He said the number of students who chose to vote in that local government election broke all records he’s previously seen — and, in some way, justified a shift towards the methods the campaign asked its activists to use, which focused more heavily on interpersonal relationships and conversations than outright demands to support a cause. “Having spoken to thousands of students,” Eidelson said, “I found that students by and large wanted to be more connected to New Haven than they were and wanted to know more about that.” Activists even beyond the SUN platform seem largely optimistic that reaching out to more Yalies could improve their efficacy and bring more students into the fold, making critique less of an outsider move and more central to the way students here think. For instance, the case the Y Syndicate has been making for increased student involvement in the presidential search, through emails and social networks, has piqued Yalie curiosity. Indeed, this moment might be one of the most clear opportunities for activists to demand that Elis ensure that they have agency in the system they’ve chosen to be part of “This presidential search is a great way for [activists] to say, ‘Look, you are not being represented — that is a physically demonstrable fact. You are not having a voice in perhaps the first important decision for the University you’re lending your name to and that’s lending its name to you for the rest of your life,’” said Kleinbock. If that message doesn’t get through, it seems difficult to imagine what would.
*** Meanwhile, one’s ability to be at once a Yalie and an activist in the real world is growing, with recent progressive developments in New Haven, such as the increase in labor representation on the Board of Aldermen in last fall’s elections and the establishment of the activist umbrella organization New Haven Rising this summer, exciting the socially conscious on our campus. Cox said that the fact the “fight is so right” in the city at present was a major deterrent to her leaving Yale. “New Haven is such an onfire place right now,” she said. “Things are moving here, it’s not true anywhere else. It’s such a tremendous opportunity to be part of something really big and really effective and really important, to learn how to organize and how to change the world.” Both Cox and Crosby have taken semesters off to work with unions in New Haven. Reveiz too has reached out to platforms in the city, in his case to the New Haven’s burgeoning arts scene, due to interests and loyalties that extend beyond the University. But engagement with the city in that form reminds Yalies, at the same time, of the privilege they are associated with in the city, and even the wider world. “Around New Haven, I keep it very low that I went to Yale,” Reveiz said. For Crosby, the key to engagement with those aware of his enrollment at the University was to develop the sort of relationships that enabled city residents with whom he was working to “call [him] out … if [he] was not being sufficiently aware of [his] privilege.” Disassociating oneself from that privilege is integral, Skilton said. “What I personally feel compelled to do is, when in conversation with someone who isn’t a Yale student, … disidentify with the wealth of Yale,” she added. “I feel the need to tell people explicitly that not everyone at Yale is rich — I don’t want people to assume that the typical Yale student is New York money.” In the city, being a Yale student means being associated with memories of urban planning gone wrong, grievances from the past and divisions of which everything from Yale’s freshman orientation to New Haveners’ responses to Yale police emails remind us. On campus, being a critic means taking a look at where one stands, how one benefits and what one would change. At no point, though, does the Yale student brand of activism incorporate comfort with the status quo or tradition for tradition’s sake. “I feel zero need to identify with Yale,” Skilton said. “I want Yale to look more like me.” Contact AKBAR AHMED at firstname.lastname@example.org .
WEEKEND RECOMMENDS: “I Was a Welfare Mother” in The New York Times.
YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2012 · yaledailynews.com
‘Passing’ for love and politics // BY SCOTT STERN
It is a grainy video clip, shot with a shaky camera. A reporter offscreen asks ominously, “Is there anything else that’s going to come out about you that we don’t already know?” The woman laughs nervously, “You know, I don’t think so, but who knows?” It’s clear that she was kidding, but in the context of this particular political advertisement, the line comes off sounding , well, conspiratorial. The woman is Elizabeth Warren, and the brief dialogue comes from an attack ad launched by her rival for a senate seat in Massachusetts, Scott Brown. The ad, entitled “Who Knows?”, attacks Warren personally for claiming to be Native American — “something genealogists have zero evidence of.” The ad refers to a months-old political controversy, in which Warren got in trouble when opponents claimed that she had misrepresented herself as Native American to advance her career. Oddly enough, “Who Knows?” called to my mind a book I read this summer. The book, “Passing Strange” by Princeton professor Martha Sandweiss, is about the first director of the United States Geological Survey, a noted explorer and scientist named Clarence King 1862. It is impossible to read anything about King, who was also an art critic and staple of high society, without coming across what Secretary of State John Hay said about him — he was “the best and brightest man of his generation.” Clarence King had fair skin and blue eyes. I only mention this because — and here’s where the story gets interesting — for 13 years, King “passed” for black. He was married to a black woman, Ada Copeland, who was born a slave in Georgia, and he lived with her and their five children in Queens. To Ada, he was James Todd, a black Pullman porter (which explained his long absences from home, during which he was off being important and publicly white). Only on his deathbed in 1901 did King reveal his secret to Ada — that he was wealthy, educated, and, most importantly, white. “Passing Strange” tells a fascinating love story, which manages to tie in race, poverty, and politics. At times, it is a little slow, but it is flawlessly researched and quite well-written. I bought “Passing Strange” after glancing at the back cover. A prominent white government official who convinces his wife, children and neighbors that he is not only of a different background, but of a different race? How could it be done? Face paint, a mask? The answer, it turns out, is both less dramatic and more common than I had known. To become black in the late 1800s, all King had to do was claim to be black. It is important to remember that during this time, anyone with a drop of black blood — a single
great-grandparent, say — was technically classified as black. For the multitudes who dwelled in the racially ambiguous middle ground of mixedrace forebears, they could “pass” for whichever race they wanted. The world is not simply blackand-white, yet when it was defined as such, anyone with neutrally colored skin was left in a predicament. As Baz Dreisinger wrote in The New York Times, “[R]ace is not really about skin color. If it were, the blond-haired, blue-eyed Walter White, for instance, could never have identified himself as ‘a Negro,’ served as executive secretary of the N.A.A.C.P. or written this paradoxical sentence: ‘The traits of my race are nowhere visible upon me.’ Race is the emperor’s new clothes: we don’t see it; we think it.” In a culture where African-Americans were discriminated against by the color of their skin, who would voluntarily cross the color line? King did — because of love. “King loved Ada, and she loved him back,” Sandweiss wrote. Only an abiding love — and more than a touch of eccentricity — could cause King to live a double life and deceive every single person he knew. Obviously, our conception of race is malleable. And this brings us back to Elizabeth Warren. It would be wrong, and frankly offensive, to claim that Warren spent decades “passing” as Native American. It was never a major part of her life, and indeed Harvard hired her with no knowledge of her ethnicity. Yet she has been vilified — and continues to be attacked — for supposedly attempting to pass. As law professor Kevin Noble Maillard wrote in The New York Times, “For the Cherokee Nation, Warren is ‘Indian enough’; she has the same blood quantum as Cherokee Nation Chief Bill John Baker. For non-Natives, this may be surprising. They expect to see ‘high cheekbones,’ as Warren described her grandfather as having, or tan skin. They want to know of pow wows, dusty reservations, sweat lodges, peyote and cheap cigarettes. When outsiders look at these ostensibly white people as members of Native America, they don’t see minorities.” Frankly, it doesn’t matter what they see. The labels “black,” “white,” and “Native American” are — and have been for centuries — subjective. The stories of Clarence King and Elizabeth Warren teach us that race is fundamentally undechipherable. Judging simply by the color of someone’s skin — or claiming that someone is not minority “enough”, or even attempting to tell someone else what race she is — is misguided.
// BY JACKSON MCHENRY
S U N D AY SEPTEMBER 30
his arms, hunched back and the twisted corners of his mouth. Lancaster Dodd, who Freddie encounters after sneaking onto a cruise ship run by The Cause, provides the necessary counterpoint to the troubled veteran’s indeterminate violence. Dodd, as he likes to tell people, is a man of the mind. The leader of The Cause barely moves; his body is weighed down under sweat and three-piece suits. His voice, however, is enthralling. The best scenes in “The Master” are the “processing” sessions between Freddie and Dodd, in which the cult leader does all he can to crack the initiate. Dodd’s questions deal with afterlife mumbojumbo, but the weight of his presence is enough to accomplish his goal, as if a charlatan could will himself into performing magic. The rest of “The Master” is concerned with what that magic is. Do the members of The Cause buy into Dodd’s thrall? His son, played by Jesse Plemons (Landry from “Friday Night Lights”) readily admits that his father is making it up, but stays on for the money. His young wife, played by Amy Adams (a necessary addition to any Oscar-bait), however, is a true believer. Adams’s interruptions allow the film to occasionally split its themes across three, rather than two parts. Always concerned with the bottom line, she takes an immediate dislike to Freddie, whom she views as a threat, and strives to turn Dodd against him. She is also pregnant for most of the movie. The resulting id, ego, superego dynamic
provides more than enough fodder for section assholes everywhere to interpret the film as a sort of Freudian nightmare. If only “The Master” was more complicated than that. Anderson’s films are famous for their ferocity. In “There Will Be Blood,” Daniel-Day Lewis takes increasingly vindictive measures to secure a supply of oil and, in “PunchDrunk Love,” Adam Sandler deals with the adult world through bursts of infantilized violence (unlike every other Adam Sandler movie, it isn’t played for laughs). But “The Master” fails to break out from an exhausting, beautifully coordinated fizzle. Much of this is due to Anderson’s insistence on avoiding specificity in favor of allegory. Both Freddie’s brutality and Dodd’s power are causeless and all-consuming, definitions of actors in a fable rather than aspects of characters a film. Anderson sets the film in the ’50s, a time filled with nuclear-age stress, but he is more interested in the era’s affects, obtuse references to the war and girls in floral-print dresses, than its details. “The Master,” like Dodd’s cult, is a test of the power of suggestion. How much can be said by showing little? Inevitably, devotees of Anderson will be able to invent an interpretation for every moment in the film — what exactly is meant by the shot where Joaquin Phoenix arches his back over the rigging of a ship at sea (I say he was tired) — and claim that the character’s true motivations are hidden in corners. But how much of that is invented? The audience knows that Dodd is a charlatan because he substitutes charisma for evidence, but Anderson either fails or refuses to offer the level of detail that The Cause lacks to his own film. “The Master” lacks the authority it subverts; like any good cult, it answers the mysteries of the universe, but only if you are willing to buy in.
// JENNIFER LU
// BY YUVAL BEN-DAVID
Contact SCOTT STERN at email@example.com .
‘The Master’ drinks its own Kool-Aid
“The Master,” a new film by writerdirector Paul Thomas Anderson, follows shattered World War II veteran Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) as he is drawn into to The Cause, a fictional cult, in 1950s America. The film’s title refers to Lancaster Dodd, the cult’s leader, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, who bears a remarkable resemblance to L. Ron Hubbard, the science fiction writer and founder of the Church of Scientology. Many have noted that Anderson has written a commentary on Hollywood’s favorite controversial religion. But his goals are darker, and more far reaching, than providing fodder for Tom Cruise jokes. Shot in sumptuous 65mm and edited over a percussive pizzicato score by Jonny Greenwood (of Radiohead fame), “The Master” plays like an epic stuck on two characters, Freddie and Dodd. Though some of his conclusions, or lack thereof, may be undeserved, Anderson’s film represents a remarkable attempt to fill an entire universe with the friction between binary opposites — master and initiate, impulse and control, rebellion and authority. Freddie is an animal. He drinks whatever he’s given, assaults anything that looks remotely like a woman and is fired from whatever job he can find. Of course, it isn’t his fault. Freddie has a tortured backstory, a bland “Game of Thrones”-like cocktail of PTSD, incest and unrequited pedophilia, but the details are seen through Phoenix, who wisely plays everything from ape-like aggression to shamed-puppy guilt with
Tomatillo: Chipotle’s genius cousin Tomatillo Taco Joint is the culinary equivalent of elevator music. I’m not just saying my meal wasn’t memorable — it wasn’t, but who’s expecting that? — but that it had no personality. To the postmodernist in me, it was a hyper-realistic, PlayDoh diorama kind of meal. At Tomatillo, one gets the sense that the cultural origin of the taco is not Mexico but Disneyland. The way you order at Tomatillo is, not unlike at Chipotle, by choosing some permutation of filling, stuffing and toppings for your taco, burrito, burrito bowl or taco salad, which, by the way, are the exact same options Chipotle offers. The only discernible difference with Chipotle is that Tomatillo offers citrus-marinated shrimp and tempura-battered Baja fish (both for $7.35) whereas Chipotle only offers the usual repertoire of chicken, beef, pork and veggies. Point for Tomatillo! So, for example, I ordered a burrito bowl stuffed with cilantro and limeflavored rice and vegetarian black beans, filled it with the Baja fish and topped it off with pico de gallo, shredded cheese and guacamole ($0.95 extra). The one problem was that I was handed a burrito instead — which, to be honest, was my fault, since I could have corrected the employee when he rolled it right in front of me. In any case, it didn’t take long for the bloated burrito to break through the thin, silky tortilla, so I ended up just eating a messier version of the burrito bowl. The fish was comfortably soft — and my friend who ordered a steak burrito ($7.35) said the same for the meat — but I couldn’t exactly taste it, or anything else for that matter, except LIME. I guess whoever seasoned the cilantro and lime-flavored rice was pretty squeeze-happy, and I didn’t exactly mind the taste until I realized I couldn’t fill up a 600-word review with one flavor. But that’s really all I
felt. In retrospect, the monolithic flavor is a snug metaphor for the Tomatillo experience, which is something akin to eating in a bunker, or vacationing in a walled Playa del Carmen resort. Sure, the color scheme of orange and olive green was tasteful, the brick wall sophisticated, the floor spotless; the soundtrack (Shins, Vampire Weekend) was cool. But the tact of it all bored me, too. The token hints to Mexico (cacti in stone grinders, little framed pictures of ambiguously Mexican landscapes) were playing it too safe. And the gaudy lineup of neon Jarritos bottles could only be an ironic gesture. To its credit, Tomatillo goes bold with the salsa. The habanero chili sauce hit me at full blast, and the salsa verde was thick and robust; both work as complements to the main meal. I was less taken with the aji amarillo, which tasted overwhelmingly of banana peppers. A Peruvian friend who ate with me noted that the aji, a traditionally Peruvian paste, was too watery and indelicate. The most polarizing dish we ordered was shrimp tacos garnished with corn salsa, shredded cheese, pico de gallo and sour cream. My suitemate — a serial Yelp reviewer with a refined palate — was turned off by the corn salsa’s taste of canning fluid, so another suitemate finished it off with a grin, pointing out the piquant and inexplicable aftertaste of Doritos. I was pleasantly surprised by the generous portion of shrimp on the taco, though it was chewier than expected — especially considering how delicate the fish and steak had been. Mostly because it defies categorization, Tomatillo deflects facile judgment. But that leaves me with only two thoughts: LIME! and bleh. Contact YUVAL BEN-DAVID at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Contact JACKSON MCHENRY at email@example.com .
“If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” - E.B. WHITE
WEEKEND RECOMMENDS: Skull & Cones.
Shake Shack, we love you.
YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2012 · yaledailynews.com
A Case for Cinematic Stories
Three weeks ago I read in this publication an interesting guest column, written by Becca Edelman ’14, that drew a distinction between cinematic story and style. As Edelman argued, stylistic films have carried and should continue to carry the day in Hollywood, thrusting aside more moderately-tempered movies for bold, daring narratives told in bold, daring ways. Of course this is absolutely correct. We should support innovative films and look at cheaper efforts with a great deal more criticism. But that does not at all mean cinematic style is somehow more meaningful than story. To be perfectly honest, the two aren’t even measurably close. People forget that art forms, specifically literature, film and theater, are constructed for the benefit of an audience. You’re supposed to enjoy what you’re watching, and while style no doubt plays a major role in appealing to a viewer’s senses, it’s still just a tool subservient to some higher purpose. You can’t have a novel or a play or a movie without a basic and coherent plot. Something must be happening, and that something has got to be engaging. Once those simple needs are met you’re free
MICHAEL LOMAX CINEMA TO THE MAX to run a little wilder. The problem with all of this is that it’s too easy to think otherwise, especially with the alluring potential for humanities-influenced over-examination sprouting at our fingertips. I, for one, love analyzing novels and films: It’s fun sifting through disparate paragraphs and scenes, hunting for a select phrase or throughline that will in turn illuminate an entire thematic construction just below the surface of the page or screen. But even that paradigm has its limitations. In this case it’s pretty simple: at the end of the day if there’s no story propping up your artistic mass, everything is bound to collapse. That’s why it becomes really difficult trying to evaluate movies these days. On the one hand it’s far too easy to disparage works for being too derivative or hokey. But by that same token getting lost in conventions of style is just as possible. Take last year’s big Oscar winner for example: “The Artist” won Best Picture due to weak competition and poor scru-
tiny. It’s an alarmingly simple tale that people accepted because of how it was presented, and while the film was definitely fun and entertaining, it was not worth an Oscar. The fact of the matter is you need a compelling story to warrant whatever stylistic license you’re willing to take, though many people raised in today’s aesthetic-obsessed generation would probably disagree with me. They would point to the Stanley Kubricksand Quentin Tarentinos and Wes Andersons of the cinemascape as proof that story need not always triumph over style. But that logic is flawed. “2001: A Space Odyssey” is one of the most criticallyacclaimed stylistic films ever made, but it’s in fact an examination of the pitfalls of technology set against a very real backdrop of a routine space voyage. In this case Kubrick’s technical sensibilities contribute mightily to the story, but it’s not the other way around. We could similarly look at “Reservoir Dogs,” “Pulp Fiction,” “The Royal Tenenbaums” and so forth in much the same way: they’re all stylistically impressive films, but they resonate at their foundation thanks
Girl Reporter connects with imaginary musician Growing up in a small, landlocked city affords the pop culture-curious tween few opportunities to meet celebrities. This problem is compounded if this tween had, say, watched “Almost Famous” too young and decided she was destined to be a Girl Reporter. This might force her to resort to such strange surrogate interview subjects as “Friend Dressed As Julian Casablancas,” who could be quite the talker, and “Inkjet Print of Brandon Flowers,” who could not. Unfortunately, all these circumstances happened to line up for me. This was reflected in an embarrassing cut-and-paste zine of faux interviews and a lamentable lack of New Mexican middle school brushes with fame. But this lonely trajectory was interrupted briefly when I was 15 and my naïve persistence paid off outside the Launchpad, downtown Albuquerque’s premiere bar-that-lets-in-children. After seeing Of Montreal in concert, my best friend and I ran alone out to the alley and positioned ourselves directly in front of the door to the band’s tour bus. I saw frontman Kevin Barnes round the corner in full drag. A-ha! Girl Reporter Nina thought smugly. Just as I suspected: He needed to enter this door. Orthodontia first, I demanded a hug and a photograph. He blinked dazedly through his glittery eye shadow, bending from platform go-go boots to give a terrifying blank stare at the camera, immortalizing himself between two giddy tweens in a moment whose allowance might be one of the best parenting decisions in recent memory. I had met a real-live, famous musician! I promptly went home and typed up an imaginary dialogue between us. Though I didn’t realize it at the
S U N D AY SEPTEMBER 30
NINA WEXELBLATT PLAYING OFF THE BEAT time, what I really craved from these encounters, real and imaginary, was the verification that the music I cherished was more than an internal aesthetic exercise. I wanted to be able to connect with an artist — to share an experience with a person I didn’t know. It didn’t have to be in the form of an interview; considering the artist for the three or so minutes it takes to throw a couple verses around a refrain works, too. What devout music listeners struggle with is a form of Freud’s Fort/Da game: We derive pleasure through both throwing external reality away and reeling ourselves into a collective consciousness. We easily retreat into our own thoughts as a song plays, but on some level use music in our quest to orient ourselves with the outside world. Finding someone it feels good to listen to an album with is satisfying, just as I’m sure it’s satisfying to be the one making albums that others hear. The intermediate space between these satisfactions is the listener’s acknowledgment of the internal life of a musician. When we exploit a song for our own emotional purposes, we tend to demand an engagement with the entirety of its content; in doing so, we effectively erase the songwriter and jealously substitute our own first person narrative for the singer’s. Our relationship to musicians as human beings can get lost if we view bands as operating on a level completely separate from ourselves, even when they totally are. Of course, while self-substitution in pop music can be meaningful, it’s important to remem-
ber that the listening experience is a mode of contact between an audience and a performer. Think what you will about “The Death of the Author.” For everyone who has developed theory of mind past age four, it should be simple to remember the internal creative life of a musician. Yet for some reason, selfishness or shyness or otherwise, we so often ignore the potential for dialogue with the artist that can emerge, if only on an imaginary level. Luckily for parents of tweens everywhere, these encounters don’t always need to happen in sketchy alleyways outside RVs. Social media have largely broken down the mystique surrounding celebrities. For example, while my childhood friends had to resort to sending Justin Timberlake desperate love letters through some questionable intermediary P.O. address, we can now tweet our devotion directly @FamousMusicians. Though they are completely out of reach, they are also, on some level, completely within reach. But even if my 140 characters are sent like a letter to Santa or staged as a fake celebrity conversation, considering the humanity of those who create is the crucial flipside of being an unselfish listener. Using music as assurance that we are not alone can always be supplemented, if only for a moment, with a reminder of the vast variety of human experience. And if I ever forget this, I’ll always have my tragically awkward photo with Kevin Barnes to remind me of the way insurmountable differences between glittery artists and braces-wearing listeners can be filled in with a mutual love of music. Don’t kill your idols; interview them. Contact NINA WEXELBLATT at firstname.lastname@example.org .
“Get up, stand up, Stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up, Don’t give up the fight.” -BOB MARLEY
to their stories, however ridiculous they may happen to be. That core feeling is really what it comes down to. Watching films isn’t just supposed to be about marveling at what’s on the screen, though that’s incredibly important in its own right. Instead, think about what you’re watching on some human level. What’s the drama? What’s the comedy? What are the characters doing and why? These are simple questions that demand complex answers that many “artsy” directors, critics and students somehow overthink and underappreciate at the exact same time. We are, as individuals, extraordinarily intricate physical units motivated by equally complicated desires, and to forget that reality for the sake of a neat camera angle or voiceover would be to deny the very thing bringing you to the movie theater in the first place: your humanity. Contact MICHAEL LOMAX at email@example.com .
“Reservoir Dogs” by Quentin Tarantino
A case for male strippers Last Sunday, I journeyed to the Critierion to see “Lawless.” I was treated to an evening of excessive violence, a confused and incoherent plotline, and characters so flat that the audience giggled at their supposedly dramatic ends. Perhaps “treated” would be the wrong word. Yet what fascinated and disappointed me most about my evening was not the film itself, but rather the barrage of previews that I was subjected to beforehand. Four out of the five previews featured colossal guns, treacherous shootouts and death-defying stunts. My adrenaline was certainly running, but my brainwaves remained flat — plots were scarce, and any emotion other than terror and excitement were unheard of. I saw two women in these previews, both scantily clad and clearly objects implanted to elicit sexual desire rather than to move a story forward. To be fair, I must admit to having some hand in my moviegoing fate: I had chosen the film, knowing what kind of an audience it was aimed at. Naturally, it would be an economically sound decision to fill the audience’s mind with upcoming films of a similar breed. Yet, looking at the current box-office trends, one notices my qualms with such a limited range of style on a larger scale. The films released in the largest number of theaters for the past three months have been “Lawless,” “The Expendables 2,” “The Bourne Legacy,” and “The Dark Knight Rises.” Each of these would have fit the mold of the “Lawless” coming attractions; each was aimed at the moviegoing demographic consisting of 18- to 25-year-old men. During a summer in Los Angeles, I repeatedly heard comments that verified such box-office evidence. I was told that if one wants to make the biggest box office buck, he must produce a film aimed at that population. Apparently, this demographic can be consistently depended on to
BECCA EDELMAN FILM purchase a weekly movie ticket. Looking at box-office statistics, there exists nothing to prove such a conclusion false. This summer’s top blockbusters, from superhero epics to crass comedies, were aimed almost exclusively at young men. However, I am immediately struck by a problem of causality. If Hollywood continues to aim its resources at said audience, producing films made exclusively for their eyes, will that audience not naturally have the highest turnout? Based on counter-examples from this summer’s box office, I think it may be time for Hollywood to change its attitude. I did not want to go see “Magic Mike.” Yet, there I found myself, dragged in by a co-worker, sitting in the front row on opening night. And, I must admit it was one of the most affirming theater-going experiences I have had in a long time. The theatre was brimming with women aged 18–30. They hadn’t come for the film’s plot — although it was surprisingly coherent and engaging. They had come for the male strippers. Not ten minutes passed without a catcall up at the screen. “Take if off, Tatum!” they demanded. If I had been watching “Magic Mike” at home, I most likely would have turned off the film after half an hour. Yet, here is the enchantment of the theater experience. Viewing the film with an audience — albeit the undesirable female one — made for an surpisingly thought-provoking and fascinating, evening. Upon leaving the theatre, my mind began to spin. Why was “Magic Mike” such an innovation? Why hasn’t such an audience already been tapped? Years ago, Jean-Luc Godard once wrote, “All you need for a movie is a gun and a girl.” Such a formula has been exercised so relentlessly that it has now become expected.
No one questioned that Scarlett Johansson’s character in “The Avengers” was the only one without a super power — her purpose was purely her sex appeal. Hollywood has often flirted with the idea of harnessing a female audience through male sex appeal, but usually simply by inserting handsome men as films’ protagonists. With “Magic Mike,” Warner Brothers filled an empty niche, turning the tables to capitalize on male sex appeal and bring in a female audience. “Magic Mike” beat “The Bourne Legacy” at the box office by over $6 million, and cost $118 million dollars less to produce. It beat “The Expendables 2” at the box office by $33 million, and cost $93 million less to produce. Catering to a female audience seems like pretty good economics. And what of other surprise box office hits this summer. “Hope Springs”? “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”? “To Rome With Love”? While Meryl Streep and Judi Dench have their appeal, they are not exactly flaunting bikinis or booty shorts. These films succeeded because of their appeal to middle-aged and elderly audiences, many of whom no longer work, and therefore become consistent theatregoers. Such films were made on fractions of the budgets of the summer’s top action films, and still managed to stand strong at the box office. I challenge Hollywood’s studios to change things up, making groups like women and the elderly box office aims rather than niche specialties. While men aged 18–25 can certainly provide box office bucks, using Hollywood’s resources solely for their benefit is economically unsound. While Godard’s method may prove successful in many an instance, I propose there are other formulas for box office hits. What about a guy and a stripper pole? Contact BECCA EDELMAN at firstname.lastname@example.org .
WEEKEND RECOMMENDS: Following Big Ben on Twitter.
Bong. Bong bong. Bong bong bong.
YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2012 · yaledailynews.com
When Justice Flees and Dystopia Takes Over: Shakespeare’s ‘Measure for Measure’ // BY JOSEPHINE MASSEY
One of the delights (or disappointments) in watching a Shakespeare play is seeing how far the production will stretch the limits of the original version. With just the text and a sampling of stage directions, the production faces a wealth of decisions: stay classic and keep it naked of ornamentation, or invest in the set, music and costumes to help enhance the production? Keep it in the original time period or add a modern twist? Push for drama or for comedy? Faced with so many choices, it’s easy to have a confused presentation. Although questionable decisions do occur in the Yale Dramat’s Fall Ex, the incredibly strong cast of “Measure for Measure” manages to create a truly enjoyable theatrical experience. At the core of “Measure for Measure” is a morality and system of justice abused and disrespected by the very political figures charged with maintaining it. The play begins with the Duke of Vienna, handing over his job to a deputy, Angelo. Angelo turns out to be a power-hungry, cold-heartened totalitarian who wants to restore order to the corrupt, brothelinfested underworld Vienna has become. His first act is to imprison Claudio who has impregnated Juliet without officially marrying her. His sister, Isabella, petitions Angelo for Claudio’s release. In doing so, Angelo begins to lust after her and demands her maidenhood in return for her brother. Meanwhile, the Duke disguises himself as a friar and flutters from character to character, demanding they confess to him, and attempting to resolve their predicaments. These elements fuel the plot of a tale that presents the repercussions of power when it is divorced from morality. The characters who either challenge or defend this morality are the stars of the production, seducing the audience with their meticulous attention to detail in both gestures and speech. Iason Togias ’16 plays the Duke and friar with a brilliant authority, delivering his lines with a stern and patronizing tone that conveys his feeling of moral superiority. Mitchel Kawash ’13, who plays Angelo, personifies evil and self-righteousness, but also allows his sense of frailty to glimmer through when impressed and condemned by Isabella. Isabella, played by Lucy Fleming ’16, embodies the chaste virgin who can fight words with the strength of goddess Diana, and Fleming does a brilliant job transforming
her from a pitiful girl pleading for help to an upright, powerful woman lauding the quality of mercy with so much conviction that even Portia would be impressed. Others of note include Kyle Yoder ’15, who plays both Claudio and constable Elbow, the second of which generates a majority of the play’s laughs, and Lucio, a meddling trickster played by Clio Contogenis, ’14, who provides the comedy central to the Shakespearean experience with her highly entertaining and exaggerated gestures. Although the play would be a success even if they were simply situated on an empty stage, the set, costumes and sound helps convey the intense political change Angelo is enacting that is easy to miss while sorting out Shakespeare’s clever prose. To create a city in turmoil, the set features a Cubist cityscape on a disjointed frame, complete with
gears and a Big-Brother-like poster that claims “Angelo is Justice.” The powerful characters dress in cold, formal attire, and the more seedy ones wear dirtied garments. Lucio wears a pink suit, splattered with ink on the back, a fedora and combat boots. Isabella wears a tank top and chain mail skirt with heels, which shows a lot of skin for a would-be nun, but helps reinforce the idea that she is an object of lust. The set and costumes add a much-needed foreboding tone to the production, but the sound chosen to complement this image unfortunately muffles the actors’ lines. In the last Act, the Duke reveals he was the friar in front of the assembly of characters, but it is hard to enjoy the performance because voices attempting to convey that there is a greater crowd beyond take over in the background. Despite the sound, the last Act
cements the show’s refreshing willingness to take risks that can be pulled off. In the last few moments of the play, after condemning Angelo, freeing Claudio, and creating what he assumes to be a happy ending, the Duke seals the deal with an awkward finish: he proposes to Isabella. Isabella, who has spent the last two-and-a-half hours defending her virtue and swearing off marriage for God, doesn’t get a response before the play awkwardly ends. This moment is part of what defines “Measure for Measure” as one of Shakespeare’s problem plays, for the director is left to decide what to do with this pause. Alexi Sargeant ’15, using the handy trick of modern technology, pulls it off by juxtaposing a film in the background of Isabella dancing with the Duke while on stage everyone stands frozen, the Duke with hand outstretched, and Isabella, the only one animate, left
// TORY BURNSIDE CLAPP
to turn slowly to the audience with a face full of terror. This last moment defines the play as a whole: Once virtue is abused and justice no longer can rectify wrongs, we are left with a subverted ending where only questions remain, and our only option is to create our own answers. Contact JOSEPHINE MASSEY at email@example.com .
‘This.’ is who we are // BY JOY SHAN
“I have lost____. I have broken____. I regret____.” Outside of the entrance to the Cabaret showing of “This.”, a bulletin board is covered in white strips of paper printed with these words. Audience members were to fill in the blanks. The responses posted on the board ranged from the expected (“I have lost $,” one said) to the quirky (“I have broken my tushy”) to the surprisingly sober (“I regret not calling the cops on her behalf”). But connecting all of the answers was a current of authenticity, a hint at all the stories people have that are just waiting to be uncovered and shared with the world. The performance of “This.” reminds us of the same possibility of discovery. To create the show, Margot Bordelon DRA ’13, Mary Laws DRA ’14 and Alexandra Ripp DRA ’13 conducted in-person interviews with 40 people of the Yale and New Haven community. During the interview, they asked the subjects simple questions: “What have you lost?” “What kind of child were you?” These are questions so basic that we rarely think to ask them of the people around us. They are questions that bring us to the brink of finding something incredible when we finally do ask them. “This.” is the result of asking them. To begin the show, a clip from a recording of a conducted interview is played, and we hear the polite small-talk before the real questions begin — a brief warm-up for the audience. The stories and memories themselves are performed onstage by a six-member cast.
For most of the stories, one actor would play the role of the person telling the story, while the other five people would play the role of anything necessary to flesh out the details of the memory. From one scene to the next, the actors seamlessly transformed themselves into household pets, locomotives and childhood friends. They had no costume changes and no props except for two wooden chairs. Females acted out the roles of males and vice-versa. The creators stitched the script together from the transcribed responses, and most of the words were taken verbatim. We hear the natural rhythms of people’s speech: unrehearsed, spontaneous and unique. But the actors never once listened to the actual voice recordings and thus were left to interpret the transcriptions on their own. The result of all of this is a performance that, in one hour, achieves an unforgettable universality. The stories are taken from New Haven, but as the show unfolds, we easily forget that any of the experiences are confined to one place. A few scenes depicting childhood memories felt hyperbolic — for example, the terror of a child in her room at night. But gradually we remember that it is sometimes the nature of memory to shift and exaggerate within our imagination. Some of the stories performed also let us see the gaps: forgotten advice from a grandmother who died, for instance. These remind us of how memories can also fade and slip away from us. The show’s creators arranged the stories in a way that let us see the
S U N D AY
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
- DR. SEUSS, “THE LORAX”
“WHAT HAVE YOU LOST?” “WHAT KIND OF CHILD WERE YOU?” THESE ARE QUESTIONS SO BASIC THAT WE RARELY THINK TO ASK THEM.
common threads among them, and we wonder whether the randomness in life is as random as we believe. “This.” is not traditional storytelling, but it still has the powerful quality of narrative to transcend the divide between fact and fiction to capture something more extraordinary and more truthful. “This.” is the kind of show that makes you look at the stranger sitting next to you a little differently. We see how life is funny and sad at the same time. “This.”
is the reason we seek connections to people around us. “This.” reminds us that we are not alone. “This.” is playing at the Yale Cabaret on Friday, Sept. 28 and Saturday, Sept. 29 at 8 and 11 p.m.
// JOY SHAN
Contact JOY SHAN at firstname.lastname@example.org .
WEEKEND RECOMMENDS: Thanks, everyone, for a fantastic year! And now to sleep …
YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2012 · yaledailynews.com
// SARAH YAZJI
Novelist, patriot, fighter-in-exile // BY JAKE ORBISON
amar Yazbek, a Syrian activist and writer, arrived at Yale on Sept. 19 to discuss and field questions about the Syrian revolution through the perspective of her acclaimed memoir, “A Woman in the Crossfire: Diaries of the Syrian Revolution.” I met with Yazbek after she had given her talk at the Yale Institution for Social and Policy Studies. I had caught her in the midst of a trying day in the middle of a tiring book tour. Upon entering the office in which our meeting had been arranged, I was advised to keep her for no more than 15 minutes. Yazbek was seated beside a young — perhaps 20-something — girl who was intended to translate from Yazbek’s native Arabic into English. Yazbek proved relatively fluid in English and, whenever she could, would respond to my questions in English, but we ultimately did need the help of a second translator to bring to light all of what Yazbek was trying to express. Yazbek’s journalistic coverage of the Syrian civil war has surfaced in myriad publications, such as The New York Times and CNN. Additionally, because of her accomplishments as a novelist, Yazbek was selected as part of the Hay Festival’s Beirut 39, an effort to recognize 39 of the most promising Arab writers under 39 years of age. For her relentlessly incisive criticism of Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, and his regime, Yazbek was exiled in 2011, but continues to raise awareness and support for her country’s revolution.
A. It’s so natural that it doesn’t feel like a facet of my life, but life itself. You can’t ask someone why their eyes are a certain color. But my relationship with writing is very important, besides its being the best joy in my life. It’s a bridge between beauty and ugliness. I always feel when I write that I am that connection between the ugly and the beautiful. I am like the god. I can control all the world. Q. Is that what makes writing so crucial to a revolution? A. I don’t think so, I think it is because, for the revolution, it ties beauty to justice. And because writing is full of beauty — no ugliness, just pure beauty. Q. I understand you have worked with the same translator, Max Weiss, on a number of projects. What kind of relationship or trust must you build with someone in order to give him that control of your work? Is it hard to let go of a work in that way?
Arabic phrase, “being taxed by two governments,” but agreed with the amendment made by the interviewer] as they are abused socially and religiously.
and they participate in all of the activities, except carrying weapons. This revolution, I think, belongs to the women and children. Q. You were forced to flee Syria in the summer of 2011. When do you hope to return?
Q. Your book “Cinnamon” is set to be released in its English translation for the first time. Can you tell us about that work?
Q. Much of your work has dealt with gender issues and women’s rights. Your diary account of the first months of the Syrian revolution is titled “Woman in the Crossfire.” How did gender figure into your experiences with the revolution? What role has gender played in the revolution in general?
A. It talks about two echelons of Syrian society — the very wealthy and the very impoverished — though the relation of two ladies. Two lesbian, Muslim ladies. Well, one of them is a lady … One is a servant to the other, and they are engaged in a relationship, in which one uses the other sexually. The work talks about how, in the lower class, humanity can be lost and people are so easily used. Women are caught between a rock and a hard place [an idiom supplied by the interviewer; the translator had previously attempted to translate an
A. The cases of women and gender roles are very much in the background right now, the main reason being that putting an end to the oppressive regime is everyone’s primary goal. It’s not logical for most to talk about gender when we are in the middle of this. Although, this is a main focus of my work. Because of all of this bloodshed, women’s issues must be put on hold temporarily. But, of course, I can talk to you about women in the revolution. I can tell you they are a very major part of this revolution. Many women are leaders of this revolution,
Q. What’s next for you?
A. I really do trust Max and I believe he will always translate with the right vision. I don’t think that, to begin with, a translator is given responsibility for all of my work. But I trust Max in general and I trust his ability to reflect my art in an honest way. And we do have a very open relationship built on such trust.
A. I return all the time, but in secrecy. Undercover. But, yes, I hope to come back [for good] as soon as al-Assad is taken down. Of course I will.
A [Yazbek, in English]. Next for me? Fighting, against Bashar alAssad. And fighting, and fighting, and fighting. Q. Does that mean, for you, more writing? Should we expect more novels? A. I’m too busy focusing on the affairs of Syria for novels right now. Most of the time now, I’m writing articles or traveling to different countries to talk about what is going on in Syria. I’m
working on logistics a lot more than art these days. For sure, when the killing stops and there is space enough to breathe, I will write another novel about what happened. Contact JAKE ORBISON at email@example.com .
THIS REVOLUTION, I THINK, BELONGS TO THE WOMEN AND CHILDREN.
Q. Why do you write?