The Yale Herald Volume LV, Number 11 New Haven, Conn. Friday, April 19, 2013
From the staff Lust, treachery, fraud, heresy—these are just a few of the sinful behaviors for which those wretched souls in Dante’s Inferno are condemned to eternal suffering. But there is a 10th circle of hell that Signor Alighieri never bothered to tell us about: the biannual extracurricular bazaar at Payne Whiney Gymnasium. Earlier this week, admitted members of the class of 2017 flooded our campus. They wore dorky drawstring backpacks and said dumb shit like “whipped cream vodka is my favorite.” Sometimes they were mean to us when we tried to talk to them. One of them said the Herald was the publication you wrote for if you couldn’t write for the Yale Daily News. But for the most part, we liked them, and we hope they liked us back. Because I worked really hard on that poster board. Personally, I’m concerned about the future of poster boards at the bazaar; I’m worried people think they’re lame and dated—one group was projecting things on the wall and it made me upset. In this week’s cover story, Reviews Editor Elliah Heifetz, TC ’15, explores similar tensions between the old and the new in contemporary concert music. As composers grapple with shifting trends in musical tastes and technologies, Yale’s mammoth music programs must ask big questions about the future of concert music and the role pop influences should play in it. Whether it’s the class of 2017 or the composers at the Yale School of Music, the future seems to be a thing people are thinking about these days. In opinion, Carl Chen, MC ’13, offers his reflections on David Foster Wallace’s Kenyon commencement speech as he looks ahead to his own graduation in just a few weeks, and Navy Encinias, SM ’14, urges us to think before speaking on behalf of our entire generation. Over in features, Lara Sokoloff, TC ’16, reports on Governor Malloy’s proposal to consolidate the state’s minority commissions—the passage of which would lump together the needs of kids, women, different racial and ethnic minority groups, and LGBTQ constituents, leaving one commission to advocate for, well, basically everyone who needs to be advocated for. The vote’s not until June—yet another reason to be thinking about the future. All this and more in the penultimate issue of Volume LV of the Herald. Enjoy it while it lasts. The bazaar might be the 10th circle of hell, but the smart pre-frosh know it’s worth it to get to paradiso. By which, of course, I mean the Herald. I would know—I’ve been kicking it here for three years. Thanks for reading. I’m (almost) outtie. TYHFFE, Emma Schindler Editor-in-Chief
The Yale Herald
Volume LV, Number 11 New Haven, Conn. Friday, Apr. 19, 2013
Editorial Staff: Editor-in-chief: Emma Schindler Managing Editors: Colin Groundwater, Eli Mandel, Maude Tisch Executive Editor: Emily Rappaport Assistant Executive Editor: Olivia Rosenthal Online Editors: Marcus Moretti, John Stillman Assistant Online Editor: Micah Rodman Senior Editors: Sam Bendinelli, Ariel Doctoroff, Carlos Gomez, Lucas Iberico Lozada, Nicolás Medina Mora, Clare Sestanovich Culture Editor: Micah Rodman Features Editors: Margaret Neil, Katy Osborn, Olivia Rosenthal Opinion Editor: Andrew Wagner Reviews Editor: Elliah Heifetz Voices Editor: Sophie Grais Design Editors: Julia Kittle-Kamp, Christine Mi, Zachary Schiller Assistant Design Editor: Madeline Butler Photo Editor: Rebecca Wolenski Business Staff: Publishers: Shreya Ghei, Joe Giammittorio Executive Director of Business: Stephanie Kan Senior Business Adviser: Evan Walker-Wells Online Staff: Webmaster: Navy Encinias Bullblog Editor-in-chief: John Stillman Bullblog Associate Editors: Alisha Jarwala, Grace Lindsey, Cindy Ok, Micah Rodman, Jack Schlossberg, Maude Tisch The Yale Herald is a not-for-profit, non-partisan, incorporated student publication registered with the Yale College Dean’s Office. If you wish to subscribe to the Herald, please send a check payable to The Yale Herald to the address below. Receive the Herald for one semester for 40 dollars, or for the 2012-2013 academic year for 65 dollars. Please address correspondence to The Yale Herald P.O. Box 201653 Yale Station New Haven, CT 06520-1653 Email: Emma.Schindler@yale.edu Web: www.yaleherald.com The Yale Herald is published by Yale College students, and Yale University is not responsible for its contents. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of The Yale Herald, Inc. or Yale University. Copyright 2011, The Yale Herald, Inc. Have a nice day. Cover by Julia Kittle-Kamp YH Staff
The Yale Herald (Apr. 19, 2013)
IN THIS ISSUE
COVER 12 Elliah Heifetz, TC ‘15, delves into Yale’s illustrious history and ever-changing present of musical composition, and asks where we stand going forward.
Sophie Grais, SM ‘14, sits down with Evan Frondorf, SM ‘14, sports director and hockey broadcaster for WYBC Yale Radio.
Diana Saverin, BK ‘14, remembers runs from Patagonia and New Haven, tracing her trails, her falls, and the movement of her bones.
Lara Sokoloff, TC ’16, looks into Governor Dannel Malloy’s proposal to consolidate the state’s minority commissions and examines the potential results of that shift.
Benjamin Weissler, CC ‘15, investigates the premature closing of the XS art collective’s exhibition on College Street.
OPINION: Navy Encinias, SM ‘14, voices some concerns with “voice of a generation” pieces, and Carl Chen, MC ‘13, revisits David Foster Wallace in light of his upcoming graduation.
Austin Bryniarski, CC ‘16, gives us a taste of fried alligator with the Yale Undergraduate Southern Society. Also: Yale bowls and “I Love New Haven.”
Andrew Koenig, JE ’16, on Danny Boyle’s Trance. Also: 42, Iron & Wine, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and our weekly staff list.
The Yale Herald (Apr. 19, 2013)
THANk GOD IT’S FRIDAY The Herald’s week in review: what rocked, what sucked, and who took the lead in IM bowling.
Pre-frosh It’s so easy to hate on Bulldog Days because, le duh. You have to wear the shirt/hat/fanny pack of an organization you’ve long since stopped caring about and convince a bunch of underage strangers that if they don’t (a) come to Yale and (b) join said shitty club, they will probably get an STI. But then I realized: I’m jaded. Tired. Three years at Yale have sapped me of my original joie de vivre/ desperate need for validation. But the pre-frosh? They could not have been more excited about the swing-dancing-libertarians-against-fracking club— and in their wide eyes, I rediscovered my boola boola spirit. My inner Eli is back, people—clap if you believe!—and I’m just rearing to schedule some meetings. So thank you, prefrosh, for doing you.
Hockey I’ve never seen our campus so totally consumed by the non-tailgate part of a sporting event. Even my most sports-averse friends—the ones who play a zero-sum game vis-à-vis tight pants and loose sweaters—were hopping on buses and hosting viewing parties. They’d finally caught the sports bug, and I was desperate to get bit. Turns out I’m immune. As people flooded the streets/Facebook, I wallowed in apathy, watching the streets/Facebook. I learned: we’re the national champions! For the first time in history! In a world of ambiguous morality and uncertain futures, we can have cold, quantitative superiority. This is an objectively super cool thing, says my brain. We’re the best. The best! And yet? I feel like I’m my 13-year-old self, standing just off the bar mitzvah dance floor because I don’t know how to grind.
The Yale Herald (Apr. 19, 2013)
The NRA + Congress I like to think of myself as someone who can sympathize with the other party’s point of view, but gun control is literally a choice between having more things that kill people or fewer things that kill people circulating in our streets and schools. Is the NRA committed to guns just because they’re in the Constitution? Do people actually believe that guns will protect us from the government? Because like, slavery was also in the Constitution, and the government has gotten a lot more powerful since 1787. If you really are worried about hegemony, go learn how to code. We have 30,000 firearm-related deaths every year in this country. While the NRA whines about their privilege and bankrolls congressional campaigns, people are getting shot and dying. The fact that we’re more committed to an antiquated, misinterpreted “right” than we are to actual human lives is really, really gross. —Jesse Shreck YH Staff —graphics by Madeline Butler YH Staff
TYNG CUP STANDINGS
INCOMING: Sunny afternoons on Cross Campus The snow is done and the wintry gloom is peeling away. No longer do I have to rationalize the gray waste of a New Haven winter with “but doesn’t Yale look prettier in shitty weather?” For the last several days, the sun has timidly baked Cross Campus and we’ve come out to warm ourselves like a second grade class’s pet geckos. Stale lecture halls and daunting assignment lie forgotten, cherry blossoms litter the grass, and all that really matters is an extra hour or two outside with some friends. This is Yale at its best. Upcoming finals and term papers? Yale at its worst.
OUTGOING: Bulldog Days You know what? I get it. I get that Bulldog Days is a magical time for prefrosh. I get that it’s the culmination of hard-fought high school victories. I get that it puts smiles on their faces and warms their little hearts. But when I hear them comparing their high school GPAs as if they’re swapping holographic Pokémon cards, I just want to die a little. My soul goes full raisin and I bolt like Anna Wintour evacuating the most heinous of fashion shows. In the end, the prefrosh that belong at Yale will come to Yale and those that don’t will go compare SAT scores at Harvard. And guess what? I’m fine with that. —Jake Dawe
Ways to avoid shaving your legs even though it’s spring
1. Trumbull 2. Jonathan Edwards 3. Ezra Stiles 4. Pierson 5. Saybrook 6. Morse 7. Timothy Dwight 8. Branford 9. Davenport 10. Berkeley 11. Silliman 12. Calhoun
866.5 860.5 785.5 726 693 688 639 618.5 595 503 472 150
INDEX 60 Number of votes necessary for the Senate to pass a bipartisan proposal to expand background checks for gun purchases.
54 Number of votes the background checks proposal actually got in the Senate on Wed., Apr. 11.
5 4 3 2 1
Wear skin-colored tights at all times—and I mean even when you’re in the pool. Wear long skirts (not the see-through kind, but the kind nuns wear). Always say it’s a feminist statement; never say it’s because you’re lazy. Pretend it’s still winter and change nothing about your wardrobe. Discover the power of not giving a fuck.
4 Number of Democratic senators who voted “no” on the measure.
90 Percentage of Americans supporting the legislation, according to Barack Obama.
25 million Number of dollars the NRA spent on contributions, lobbying, and outside spending in the last election cycle.
— Isabella Huffington YH Staff
Sources: 1, 2) Reuters 3) Associated Press 4) Washington Post 5) The New York Times — Navy Encinias and Maude Tisch YH Staff
The Yale Herald (Apr. 19, 2013)
SITTING DOWN WITH evan frondorf by Sophie Grais YH Staff Rebecca Wolenski/YH Evan Frondorf, SM ’14, is the director of sports broadcasting for WYBC Yale Radio. For the past year, his voice has brought Bulldog fans the play-by-play on Yale basketball, football, and, last weekend, the Yale men’s hockey team’s victory in the Frozen Four. This week, the Herald spoke to Frondorf about going live on the air, getting Peter Salovey in the chat forum, and celebrating in the Pittsburgh Marriott. YH: When you first started sports broadcasting, was it like anything you had ever done before? EF: You compare it a little bit to public speaking, thinking, “Oh my goodness, I’m going to be on the air for three, four hours at a time.” But in the end you discover it’s more just like having a conversation with somebody, and you’re not really seeing the people, and it’s not like giving a rehearsed speech. YH: Do you usually broadcast alone or with a partner? EF: When we’re doing hockey or basketball for a standard regular season game, there’s one guy who’s the play-by-play commentator, who’s really going through what the main action is, describing the actual play, describing score, time, all of that. And then there’s the color commentator, the second one, and that’s the person giving the extra analysis, going into detail, describing things that may not have been brought up by the play-by-play commentator. For the Frozen Four, we definitely expanded our team a little bit. We had a special pregame host and a special intermission host. YH: Were those also people from Yale? EF: Yes. That’s the cool thing about WYBC Sports—it’s totally student-run. We had an alumnus helping us out who graduated in ’07 who had done WYBC as well. As he stated, there are about 60 Division 1 college hockey programs. Yale is the only one where the student radio is the primary radio. Every other school has a broadcasting company—the athletics department is paying people to broadcast the games. We’re the only ones where the student-run station is the flagship station. YH: How much background research does sports broadcasting require? EF: In a given week for a regular season game, the beginning of the week is setting up who’s going to do the broadcasts and getting the logistics of that worked out. If it’s going to be a road trip: how are they going to get there, how are they going to get back? And then it’s those people’s job to really
The Yale Herald (Apr. 19, 2013)
start looking into it: memorizing rosters if they’re going to be on play-by-play, finding interesting facts if they’re going to be on color, which the athletic departments of these schools do a great job helping you out with. They produce these things called game notes, which give you a lot of that information right there. For the Frozen Four, obviously, it was once again kind of a special case. [We did] a lot of reading newspaper articles, a lot of that type of thing, pasting it all together in one big document that we were using for research. YH: Do you know who your listeners are? EF: It really depends from game to game. We used to be just online-only for the last four years or so, but in late January we went back on to WYBC AM 1340. We were then able to reach a local New Haven audience. Especially with Yale-Quinnipiac in the national championships, there’s a lot of general New Haven interest in that to begin with. One of our biggest listeners on Saturday was Presidentelect Salovey, who was commenting in the chat afterwards; we have a little chat box. YH: Can you tell me a little bit more about your trip to Pittsburgh for the Frozen Four? EF: We drove down on Wednesday. So we were there Thursday for the semi-final game, which went to overtime, 2-2, against the Massachusetts Lowell Riverhawks. It’s just an incredible experience to be at an NHL-sized arena. Normally, we’re traveling to these college hockey rinks that are maybe capacity for 4,000 or 5,000. [It’s incredible] just to see the environment of 18,000 people, in Pittsburgh, a city that’s really getting into it—everywhere you went in Pittsburgh there were people in hockey jerseys, Frozen Four signs everywhere. YH: What were your days like while you were there? EF: Very busy. And I think that’s something a lot of people were surprised by. They think, “Oh, you just got to the game and broadcast, and then it’s over.” But there’s a lot of stuff. Like, on Thursday, the game was at 4:30 p.m. We were there, eating breakfast by 9:00 [a.m.], getting ready, talking about it, and by noon we were already at the arena in Pittsburgh, getting set up, getting interviews with media people. We like to talk to Chip Malafronte, the main hockey writer for the New Haven Register, or Katie Baker, [BK ‘05], a Yale alum who is a writer for Grantland. We had one of our guys go out and talk to people waiting
to get in. There’s a lot of quick turnaround, though. We’d send him out to do interviews at 2:00 p.m., he’d come back with the recorder at 3 p.m., and I’d have to get on as the producer and put together the little clips and edit that all together. And then you’re obviously on air. We have a 90-minute pregame so we were on air from 3:00 p.m. to around 8:30 p.m. that day. And then after that, it’s not over. You go to the post-game press conferences, you record those, you go to the locker room, you interview people in the locker room, then you go back and you take all of those off the recorder, edit those, get highlights for the next day. It was definitely all hockey and all radio from wake-up to bedtime. YH: So how well do you get to know the players, if at all? EF: It’s not a deep relationship. I would say it’s more of a working relationship where you know them, they might know you, you probably have name recognition, you might say hi to them as you walk past. YH: And the coaches? EF: The coaches you get to know a little bit better because we do a pregame interview with Head Coach Keith Lane before every game. Once again, that’s a little more professional, but you’re spending more time together. YH: What was it like to see all the Yale fans in Pittsburgh? EF: It was great to see that attendance. I was worried, definitely, when they first made it to the Frozen Four and [with] the initial packages that Yale athletics offered. [That package] was $200 with no transportation, and I didn’t really think they were particularly accommodating. But they definitely realized that quickly and stepped up. Thursday was a little disappointing, but I think that was understandable. It was short notice, it was a weekday, it was Tap Night—whatever. But Saturday was just awesome. To see all the people show up and have Yale really be the loudest in that arena, I think, gave a really good impression of Yale fans in front of a national audience. And probably the best moment from Pittsburgh was afterwards. Everybody congregated in the lobby of the Marriott, where everybody was staying, this random gathering that you would never see at any other point: the team, parents, media, alumni, and fans all hanging out in the hotel lobby afterwards. Definitely something that can only happen when a team wins a national championship. —This interview was condensed by the author
in your bones by Diana Saverin
ast year, I spent two months sleeping on lumpy ground a hemisphere away. At the time, there were cracks in my lower left leg, but I spent many nights dreaming myself into motion. I had switched hemispheres to run across that southern chunk of continent: a 966.5-kilometer highway where the road stops short of an ice field. The first night I would have arrived at Puerto Cardenas, the second, Santa Lucia, the third, La Junta. Instead I woke up in the same spot where I had pitched my tent weeks before, forgetting where I was each morning, and remembering that when it’s cold and damp, broken bones ache on the inside. The bones that were still whole, the ones that had glowed with creamy iridescence on the x-ray scans three days before my flight south, ached to move. Those Patagonia mornings, I would trail my fingertips across the tent floor, feeling the grass and rock below the plastic green, before squeezing my eyes shut again to flip away from awake in search of a place where I might move and know, even just for a few hours, where I was headed. THESE ARE THE SPACES WHERE MY MIND WANDERS when my body stops—postcards from places where I never arrived, nostalgia for days I never had. My mind flutters like a red knot with clipped wings, sweeping grey feathers against barbed wire. But then the door opens; the pictures dissolve; I press the balls of my feet, over and over, into earth. My tailbone loosens; my hips uncoil. Soon I forget about the barbed wire, the absence of wings, the moments that may or may not have happened. I see leaves and hills, maybe snow. My mind empties and my bones remember what the rest of me forgets: they know, without sentences, that movement will take me where I need to go. I STILL THINK ABOUT THOSE PATAGONIA MORNINGS, hardly waking for two months, wondering each dawn where I was. Things are clearer now. My bones, to the best of my understanding, have melted back to creamy white and whole. I sleep inside, my tent packed into a cylindrical bundle in a dark corner of my closet. If I’m lucky, I might find myself blurring through the woods in the dark. Last night I arrived, with a distant notion of surprise, atop East Rock, watching milky light mix with the orange speckled city. I could see the ocean. When I run, I remember where I am. I live without thoughts on my way to wherever my feet pull me. In New Haven, this often means some perch near Mill River, like the bridge above it, where I watch pleats of water move in the breeze, or a slab of rock on the banks of it, where, in the late afternoon, the sun can paint the insides of your eyelids red. Other nights they take me above Yale’s farm to the hill with the swing, where I roll on the grass before lingering on the ground, my limbs sprawled, peeling wet maple leaves from my skin. Some afternoons, when the sun has already dipped below West Rock, my feet take me to the arched tree above one of the lake trails in East Rock. I climb to the upper arch of the tree’s parabola shape and lean into a well of branches. I can hear the ducks.
I COULD SEE THE OCEAN LAST NIGHT, PERHAPS BAREly. Fog blurred the water into a feathery mass of purple and grey, not unlike the sky. My bones knew what kind of day it was before the rest of me did: a day for the swing, the river trail, the sun salutations. I found myself by the lake at one point, looking at the only tree with leaves hanging from its branches. The thin slivers of ebony shook amid a forest of bare limbs and rain-soaked earth. The geography of my movement has drifted over the years, but my feet often find water. I crossed a four-lane highway one autumn night around midnight, walking past the whir of speed and blur of headlights. After running to the shore, a group of us tugged off our clothes and jumped
off the dock. The reflection of factory lights jiggled and splattered onto the black water. A swan perched atop the sloshing waves. The cold stung. I heard gurgling underwater sounds. I saw the backs of my eyelids and felt my hair hang weightless above me like spilled ink. Coming up for breath, I gazed over the surface of the water, punctuated with circles of wet hair. I spun onto my back, squeezed my eyes shut, and trilled toward the sky. I laughed, dipped my jaw into the water, spit it up, and paddled back to the barnacle-coated posts of the dock. Another time I moved towards water without knowing it: Resurrection Trail. It was 40 miles and I insisted on running it alone. I had not run in a month. I remember little from those 14 hours, besides the times when the emptiness of meditation filled up again: taking three pictures of fireweed, getting lost where the trail split, hearing the birds I couldn’t see squeal with what sounded like pain. I dipped into the glacial river later that night. I remember that part, too: the grey, silty water hitting my hips as my skin clenched. My then-boyfriend was setting up the tent in the dark. He told me that the cold water would dissolve the pain in my thighs. At the time, my shoulders were bleeding and I couldn’t stand without hunching. The water tingled until I went numb. I don’t remember which parts of me hurt, but I remember wanting to keep moving. My bones missed the illusion of a finish line.
IN FIRST GRADE, MY TEACHER ASKED HOW WE KNEW that the world rotated. I raised my hand and answered that if you twirled around really, really fast, then fell onto the ground, you could watch the sky spin. Years later, I still see more when I think less, like the unlikely dance of sky when motion cracks its stillness, though I had to look up the fact that the earth rotates once every 24 hours. It’s the kind of knowledge I forgot I had, though it was probably there all along: how else would night rise and fall in waves only as high or low as the short space of one day, never splashing extra darkness past the 24th hour? When I run, I often fall. I collapse onto pavement, snow, grass, leaves, trees. From below, stars become dizzying streaks, splitting into lines and spreading across sky. I stop to catch my breath and rest my legs. Everywhere I look, motion unlocks something in the copper-colored moon or hazed-in city. The landscape stirs, and I feel like I am returning to a vision of what is really there, behind the usual cloak of stillness. Scientists seem to agree that this running thing brings us to something: movement explains the origins of our bones. I read an article the other day entitled “How running made us human.” It said that running shaped and rendered us: the tendons in our feet, the ligaments in our toes, the space in our spines. These features are meant for more than walking: they absorb shock and spring us forward. Even our skulls help, cooling us with sweat evaporation and chilly blood winding up our necks through arteries and veins. It’s no surprise, I suppose. Pablo Neruda, the Chilean poet, asked after he travelled away from his country why he had moved, when his bones lived in Chile. My bones—the inside part of me, what holds up—live in motion. I AM NOT FAST OR COMPETITIVE; THESE DAYS, I RAREly count miles or minutes. I move to feel. I find hills to feel fire ants biting my calves and dancing in my thighs. It reminds me about the place I live in, with its ebony leaves and swiveling factory lights, as well as the body I live in, with its rhythmic breath and wobbly feet bones. Running pulls me towards what my mind forgets, but my bones may have known all along. I have one friend who often asks me what I am running away from. I rarely have a good answer, though I usually correct his syntax (“toward” instead of “away from”). I think about East Rock (closed eyes on a midnight trail, the sound of exhales). I think about Gavan Hill (wide spruce trunks, snow-coated alpine). I think about Baranof Warm Springs (a 30-hour run, red eyes and scratched legs). I think about a flock of red knots, too, flying in a fluttering mass 9,000 miles south each winter. They drift over the continent, from the highest latitudes in the Arctic tundra, to the lowest ones in the Antarctic tip of Patagonia. Red knots pass above New Haven’s shoreline: they glide and flap over Lighthouse Point on their way to days with more sun. Their bones know, without sentences, the magnetic trail of movement pulling them through clear or clouded skies. —graphic by Julia Kittle-Kamp YH Staff
The Yale Herald (Apr. 19, 2013)
opinion actually finally by Carl Chen
Sometimes if I have done myself a “favor” for the semester and signed up for a class that lets me think about some capital-letter liberal-arts-important-life-Subject, -ism, or theory in some “critical” method that provided some excitement or better yet, some glimmer of hope or purpose, I’ll try to cling to that and squeeze the remaining life out of dying texts. But it’s likely that by this point in the semester, I’ll have again disappointingly concluded that this method and class are pointless because the readings don’t inform my life and/or reality anymore, academia is still dying, the professor is now going through the motions, and the other students suck because they don’t even know they’re being elitist, racist, classist (capitalists), fascist, heteronormative, sexist, ethnocentric, essentialist, etc., or (and this can be even worse) they don’t even know they’re apathetic, wrong, dumb, boring. I’ll then find myself at a desk and, for one stupid reason or another, the work will seem more frustratingly tedious, the people will seem more terribly robotic, the architecture will seem more arrogantly Gothic, the purpose of my time here will seem more meaninglessly contrived, the disappointment of my parents will seem more grimly portentous, the condemnation of this thought Process by my “peers” will seem more tragically incriminating, the trappings of traditional, modern, postmodern culture will seem more utterly inescapable, and, finally, the entire world will seem more hopelessly bleak. (The steps are usually in this order, sometimes occurring simultaneously, and with luck, occasionally omitted, but please, feel free to add/subtract/modify according to your Process.) And so I’ll stop pretending that my work is actually important when there are people suffering somewhere not all that far away, and I could have helped them (though I still stop short of helping now, because I swear I will help when I’m rich, smarter, powerful, not as selfish, Something). Instead, I’ll think about something that feels truly at stake to me (myself/Life/the world), but this brooding will eventually just spiral into a melancholic despair that is not so much my-total-complete-failure-andthe-end-of-the-world but more the-continued-meaningless-existence-of-me-in-saidmeaningless-world. Finally, if I’m lucky, I’ll remember that one way to sometimes shortcircuit the Process is to cognitively/emotionally consume something inspirational, hopeful, whatever. Every now and then, I pick David Foster Wallace’s 2005 commencement speech at Kenyon College, “This is Water.” So I recently re-read “This is Water” (though this time, many of the above steps of
The Yale Herald (Apr. 19, 2013)
the Process have been skipped, or perhaps they’ve just been ingrained into my psyche after four years), and I feel a little bit better because I am reminded that DFW existed as a human being, that I choose what and how to think, that some of the above steps of the Process are just part of an intellectually programmed but unconsciously patterned trap that is escapable (by choice), and that, as my friend Sam wrote so astutely in a mid-fall semester 2011 email, “‘This is Water’ is the best kind of realistically hopeful.” But this time, the realistic hope feels different. I no longer take solace in DFW’s intellectual sermon about choosing what and how to think (the hope) amidst an inevitable post-college life of banality, tragedy, meaninglessness, and chaos (the reality). Maybe it’s different because the moment feels too real, since I’m actually finally fingers-crossed graduating and leaving this place, and now I get to test (and prove wrong) all my postYale-now-in-real-life friends’ assertions that getting out of Yale will be great and that there will be better (and simultaneously worse) versions of everything. Maybe it’s different because I’m too hopeful, since even though I’ve known all along that the problems of the Process weren’t caused solely by this place but also by how I chose to think about it (really this place could have been any place and I still would have been me in some Process thinking in a place), I will actually finally no longer be in this place and hopefully me thinking and being in a new place will be, at least, new; and, with luck, interesting; and, with way more than luck, meaningful. But maybe the realistic hope feels different because DFW’s speech about the purpose of a liberal arts education is now actually finally meant for me at my currentlife-stage-Process. Could it perhaps be that, post-liberal arts education, I have actually finally developed some combination of acumen, awareness, resolve, audacity, responsible-acceptance-of-privilege, etc., to get myself beyond worshipfully clinging to realistic hope in all its inevitability? Could I (dare I say it) at this not-actually-final-but-probablymore-like-beginning juncture, try to escape the inevitability of the real world and freely choose not just what and how to think, but what and how to act and to live? And if I dare chase this freedom, why not take as much time as I need to consider what to do before doing something? Why not look more before semi-blindly leaping into everyday banality? Why not stroll instead of rushing off into the tediousness of the real world? Given this chance, why not actually finally think about whether this life is inevitable and decide that it isn’t?
A Generation of voices by Navy Encinias YH Staff
In the pilot of the HBO show Girls, Lena Dunham’s character sits across from her parents and asks them for money–$1100 per month for the next two years of her life. As justification she says, “I think I might be the voice of my generation.” Though she’s high on opium tea, she still has the tact to qualify her claim: “Or at least a voice. Of a generation.” Sixty years ago, Allen Ginsberg was probably just as stoned when he wrote, in Howl, “I saw the best minds of my generation, destroyed by madness...” Without heavy Benzedrine use, who’d ever feel comfortable writing this way—as if he’d recently sat down with every 20-something alive in 1956 to ask her opinion? The trend is clear: the only people willing to write on behalf of entire generations are, more often than not, very stoned. And yet alarmingly, I’ve noticed a number of people on this campus getting real comfy naming my generation, writing on my behalf, calling kids my age washed-up and cynical. National publications are noticing this new writing style coming out of New Haven. They’re re-publishing the generalizations and the acronyms. While I’ll agree that the wave of interest in SWUGs and cynic kids makes sense—a report on our generation would be nice to read– the point is it’s a mistake to write one. Once I had an English teacher who told the class never to generalize, to characterize, or to narrativize. Inevitably, he argued, you’re going to leave something out. Never is this more the case than in the act of writing about a generation. There exists no one set of experiences that represents all of us, and the danger of leaving someone out is especially pressing at a place like Yale. Our four years together may have us acting the same way, even talking about our feelings and our experiences the same way, but this is a communal subjectivity shaped around a mere four years’ time. SWUGs and cynic kids, while interesting ideas, are Yale-centric in their sense of youth culture, and this place is hardly a microcosm. Of anything. Voices of generations are egregious generalizers—writers willing to make rambunctious, subjective claims that, according to them, make sense of an era’s youth culture. I know it’s tempting. I, too, have sat across from my parents, claiming through tears that I’m the voice of my generation. But I’m unstable. I rely on my friends to edit everything
I say, and editors to edit everything I write. I need reminders of my weaknesses and my limitations as one human voice, because I can and do generalize. A generalization is often charged with a desire to create instant understanding. In doing so, it takes an easily accessible subjective interpretation and writes it large. This impulse isn’t malicious, it’s just sloppy; the subjective is that which we all have instant access to, so it’s good for the quick and dirty. But a generalization, stemming from the subjective, always places you at the center of its claim. It’ll smell like you, and any privilege or ignorance that may be hiding behind your words. After the danger of generalization, the scariest thing about a voice of our generation is that there’s no selection committee. The voice rises arbitrarily out of the din. At best, it can be thought-provoking or entertaining. At worst, it can gain quick popularity for its swagger, perpetuate a single set of views, and silence other perspectives along the way. In either case, no one chooses it. It chooses itself, with the help of those willing to humor it. Finally, a single voice, reporting on all of us at a given moment, can’t satisfy for long. Often concerned with transient woes—young feelings specific to certain times and certain places—voices of generations are famous for their willingness to keep painstaking record of every tremor. (Thanks, Joan Didion.) This is rarely productive writing; it’s simply writing that’s fun to read. It’s the kind of writing I like, to be honest. Subjectivity is my thing—I think feelings (especially my own) kick ass—but it’s not a means of writing well about others. It’s certainly not a means of writing about a generation. That being said, writing about others doesn’t have to be selfless. It’s simply a matter of not generalizing, of counting your voice as one among many, rather than the one that trumps many. Looking outwards, generating new perspective through the act of nuanced observation, can still be something of a swim in your own subjectivity, too. Just keep it specific. Distinguish between yourself and others. Don’t generalize. Rather than trying your hand at becoming the voice of a generation, count yourself among a generation of voices. —graphic by Madeline Butler YH Staff
Decommissioned? Governor Malloy’s proposal to consolidate state minority commisions by Lara Sokoloff YH Staff
Latino, a senior citizen, a women’s rights activist, and a child walk into a conference room. It sounds like the opener to a bad joke. But soon it might be a reality if Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy’s proposal to consolidate the state’s six minority commissions into one coalition passes. The commissions are non-partisan arms of the state government’s legislative branch, and frequently testify in favor of or against legislation that would affect particular minority groups in the community, aiming to make sure that each group’s best interest is served. They effectively act as liaisons between constituents and the government. Connecticut state commissions receive only .03% of the state’s budget. Despite the small fraction of the budget dedicated to these commissions, these six groups have had to consistently fight for their funding in the face of proposed cost saving strategies. In 2011, the state commissions were forced to halve budgets and make significant cuts to their staffs. And in 2013, the government is looking again at the funds given to these small interest groups as a way to help balance the budget. There are currently six commissions: the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW); the African American Affairs Commission (AAAC); the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission (LPRAC); Connecticut Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission; Connecticut Commission on Children (CCC); and Connecticut Commission on Aging. But soon, there could be one. On Feb. 6, Malloy proposed consolidating the six groups into one umbrella organization, the Commission for Citizen Advocacy. The new commission
The Yale Herald (Apr. 19, 2013)
would be run by one executive director and staffed by representatives from each of the existing coalitions; a representative to serve in the interest of the LGBTQ community would be added under the proposal. The proposal would save about $800,000 annually, or .0003 percent of the biennial budget. The plan is nearly identical to those offered by Democrat Malloy’s two Republican predecessors, John Rowland and Jodi Rell. The past two attempts to eliminate the six commissions were struck down by
doesn’t just happen,” said Theresa Younger, executive director of the PCSW. “That happens because we are non-partisan and because we understand what the issues are. We can add voice to the issues in a legitimate, supportive, and comprehensive way.” In the past few years, the AAAC has worked to prohibit racial profiling in traffic stops while also helping to bridge state-wide education gaps. The CCC has been focusing on literacy legislation, working to expand on a law passed in 2012 that
from many state Republicans. Rep. Pam Sawyer R-55), is one such supporter. “I don’t think he’s gone far enough,’’ said Sawyer. “It makes sense to look at all of the commissions under one umbrella.’’ She explained that the commissions have many overlapping interests; for instance a women’s commission did not need to be separated from a children’s commission. “Don’t they all have children?’’ Sawyer asked the Hartford Courant.
“To lump us all together is testament to the lack of understanding about what these different constituencies mean.” —Steven Hernandez, director of public policy and research at the Connecticut Commission on Children the Democratic-controlled legislature. In two months time, the Connecticut legislature will decide once more whether that plan’s losing streak will continue. As it stands now, each commission is to serve as the voice for its particular demographic. Much of the commissions’ work involves researching legislation and presenting that research to lawmakers, allowing them to make more informed decisions. Recently, the PCSW helped to pass the state’s first-ever truly bipartisan legislation against human trafficking: “That
guarantees all children learn to read before third grade and also to ensure that the original legislation goes into effect. Other bills concerning teacher preparation and special education were also passed in 2012. Over two months after Malloy’s unveiling of his new budget, leaders and members of the six minority commissions feel strongly that their work would be seriously compromised if the proposed consolidation were to go into effect. Malloy’s primary motivation for the merger is financial, and he has received support
Yet Werner Oyanadel, acting executive director of the LPRAC, said that there are alternative ways to save the same amount of money, with less destructive results. “The only reason they are trying to do this is to save money,” Oyanadel said. “But we have the ability to provide the same reductions that the governor is proposing without having to do the merge.” When Oyanadel first heard about the Governor’s proposed consolidation, he thought the decision was against the law and beyond the scope of Malloy’s designated power as a gover-
nor. When Younger first heard of it, she called the proposal an “insult to women and the commissions as they currently stand.” But above all, commissioners all agree that the proposal would negate the very aspects of the current system that allow it to work. Each commission’s work is very specific to its own demographic. The aims of each commission may be similar in nature; for example many of the commissions focus
Many of the commissions leaders argue that were these groups to be consolidated, it would be impossible for them to remain effective. “It would be difficult to do anything close to what’s being done now,” said Glen Cassis, executive director of the AAAC. “[The commissions] wouldn’t have close to the same presence.” Younger added that she worries women’s issues in particular would be neglected. “If you bunch women’s issues in to everything
then be approved by the Senate, the House, and the governor. Since the budget proposal in February, the commissions have been testifying in front of the Appropriations and Finance Committee to prove their viability as well as their indispensability to Connecticut residents. Commission leaders have also been reminding the state government that they help the state of Connecticut
Shared ideals do not translate into the same strategies for immediate action, and commissions do ultimately seek to support the group they represent first. on increasing opportunity for all or combatting discrimination. But shared ideals do not translate into the same strategies for immediate action, and commissions do ultimately seek to support the group they represent first. “Women’s issues are not necessarily children’s issues, and children’s issues are not necessarily women’s issues. And it goes on and on. To lump us all together is testament to the lack of understanding about what these different constituencies mean,” said Steven Hernandez, director of public policy and research at the CCC. “Our issues are unique,” Fred Pierre Louis, chair of the AAAC, told the New Haven Independent. Louis cited the achievement gap between high- and low-performing students that affects black students disproportionately as an issue “huge to us.”
else, they will get left off the table. We will put ourselves last,” said Younger. “We will worry about the children’s issues, we will worry about the aging issues, we may worry more about race and ethnicities issues before we ever worry about issues that are gender specific, like pay equity or reproductive health.” THE FORMULATION OF THE STATE BUDGET begins in the Executive Branch. The governor compiles budgets from each state agency, producing what is often deemed “the governor’s budget.” The legislature then similarly compiles a budget, which is approved by the Senate Appropriations and Finance Committee. Once the Committee approves the legislature’s budget, it will begin collaborating with the Executive Branch to devise a budget that satisfies both branches. This budget must
leverage federal funding. For example, the CCC is reported to have brought in almost $1.5 million dollars in federal, philanthropic, and private assistance to community-run programs. Recently, however, rather than focus on what the Appropriations Committee will ultimately decide, the commissions have returned to their work to prove their worth. “We’ve found ourselves in this twilight zone moment in the various commissions. While we are on some level having to make a case for our continued existence and viability, we’re also doing the business of our mandates,” said Hernandez of the CCC, “It is an unfortunate distraction to have to deal with the issue of consolidating commissions, each of which has a critical mandate for a sector of the population of the state.”
The governor’s proposed Commission on Citizen Advocacy includes an LGBTQ community representative, though there is currently no LGBTQ commission. Hernandez said that there has been talk of forming such a LGBTQ commission since before the merger was proposed, but the proposal brought this discussion to the forefront as it highlighted the current failure of the state legislature to formally represent these interests. “The proposal does raise the question for legislators who care about LGBTQ issues about how is the LGBTQ voice being heard, and what can we do about it,” Hernandez said. “I know there are various proposals floating around in the legislature, but I’m not sure if anything is sticking.” Hernandez said that while LGBTQ issues have also come up in the CCC’s work, specifically concerning transgender children, generally, LGBTQ issues are separate and deserve their own commission: “I really do think that just as not all women’s issues are children’s issues and not all children’s issues are women’s issues, not all children’s, women’s, and aging issues are issues that the LGBTQ community is interested in,” Hernandez said. “So if there is room for expansion, I think that to have a defined [LGBTQ] constituency come to the table and remain at the table in a viable, active way is important.” If Malloy’s proposal is voted down in June, the creation of an independent LGBTQ commission may be politically feasible. The passing of the proposal, however, would stunt this possible growth. And so the future of commissions, whether they might expand to include a seventh LGBTQ component or consolidate into one, will be in question until June. — graphic by Zachary Schiller YH Staff The Yale Herald (Apr. 19, 2013)
The Yale Herald (Apr. 19, 2013)
Symphony in blue Elliah Heifetz, TC ‘15, assesses Yale’s place in the shapeshifting world of concert music composition, and where it might go next
n Thurs., Mar. 29, I ran in the rain from the Herald office on Crown Street to Sprague Memorial Hall—a building on College Street that I had half-forgotten was even there. The concert had started at 8 p.m.; it was 8:34 p.m., and I could hear the music through the doors as I stumbled inside. I slipped in quietly between performances. There was certainly a crowd, most of whom appeared to be above the age of 40, but the audience only half-filled the first floor of the Morse Recital Hall. Taking my place in the back, I eased into a seat. After the applause for the last number had subsided, a woman walked onto the stage. She was a pianist, and she was about to perform a piece by Martin Bresnick, Charles T. Wilson Professor in Practice of Composition and coordinator of the composition department at the Yale School of Music (YSM). Immediately, though, something was off. At first, I couldn’t place it: it was not the performer, who was wearing a classic yet fashionable black dress and had gracefully made her way to a Steinway grand piano. Nor was it the space—a beautiful, proscenium stage, littered with ivory, gold, and Yale blue. In fact, despite its offkilter nature, it wasn’t even the piece itself, a work for solo piano inspired by the last living member of the Yahi Native American tribe. Truly jarring, rather, was that in her evening attire, on a revered Yale stage, the accomplished pianist had just taken out an iPad in a bright red, faux snakeskin cover. Without hesitating, she tucked it into the music stand on the piano, swiped at it a few times, and began to play an award-winning piece of contemporary concert music.
ADMITTEDLY, I SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN so surprised. Because while I’ve grown used to the popular image of concert music (that is, contemporary music composed in some relation to the classical music tradition) as formal and conservative, the genre has undergone serious and rapid changes over the past several decade—leaving my assumptions very far from the truth. iPads aside, new technologies have changed the face of concert music: Eric Whitacre, arguably the most famous contemporary American choral composer, recently put together a “virtual choir” on YouTube, comprised of individually recorded
hour marathons, involve light shows and theatrical elements, and are staged everywhere from virtual video forums to empty swimming pools. What was once a formal, traditionalist musical world has become an interdisciplinary sandbox, welcoming innovators and experimentalists, post-minimalists and neo-romanticists, laptop orchestras and planetarium shows. Not all of these changes, however, have been so thrilling. Recent years have proven exceedingly difficult for American orchestras: in a Jan. 10, 2013 article, Stanford University economics professor Robert Flanagan told USA Today that the portion of U.S. or-
programs for concert music study and composition. Amid change and transition in the world of classical music, composers have found a space at Yale for the development of new concert music, both at Yale College and the Yale School of Music. But with such a rapidly evolving musical world, the question stands: is Yale keeping up? THE ANSWER, ON THE SURFACE, SEEMS to be a resounding yes. At the forefront of the international contemporary concert music scene, alumni, current students, and faculty affiliated both with Yale College and the Yale School of Music are ubiquitous. In 2012,
What was once a formal, traditionalist musical world has become an interdisciplinary sandbox, welcoming innovators and experimentalists, post-minimalists and neo-romanticists, laptop orchestras and planetarium shows. and uploaded videos (the piece has over 3.75 million views); similarly, renowned Chinese composer Tan Dun, famous in part for his score to Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, has composed music for the YouTube Symphony Orchestra project, which takes submissions of individual part recordings from across the globe; and, in 2012, an opera with heavy use of electronic music was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. Similarly, the venues and modes of performance for concert music are radically different from what they were just two or three decades ago. Performances of contemporary classical pieces now run as 24-
chestras’ yearly revenue generated from live performances had fallen from 48 percent in 1987 to 37 percent in 2005. “No orchestra in the world is able to cover its expenses with the revenues it earns from ticket sales, recordings and broadcast,” Flanagan said. Ensembles across the nation are filing for bankruptcy, including big-name symphony orchestras like the Philadelphia Orchestra (which, fortunately, recently climbed out), as well as orchestras in San Diego, Calif., Tampa Bay, Fla., Louisville, Ky., and more. In the midst of all these transitions, Yale offers—as it has for “nearly 150 years” (according to a music department brochure)—
four out of 21 winners of the prestigious ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Award (awarded by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) had composed at Yale in some capacity; in 2011, six out of 21 winners had. Over the last five years, 40 percent of all finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for music have composed or studied composition at Yale. Furthermore, there is an active experimental music scene on campus: at the undergraduate level, student ensembles like SIC InC, which describes itself as “classical music from the future” on its Facebook page, as well as adventurous individual The Yale Herald (Apr. 19, 2013)
composers and collaborators, work to put on interdisciplinary performances involving electronic and theatrical elements. And really, Yale has always been a place for musical exploration. At least in the School of Music, the University has a storied past of forward-thinking composition pedagogy. “There is an amazing history here,” said Christopher Theofanidis, YSM ’97, a prominent American composer and adjunct professor of composition at the School of Music. This is undeniably true: before Yale had residential colleges—before it was even possible to study composition at Yale for a professional degree—an early luminary in American concert music, Horatio Parker, trained a promising young undergraduate named Charles Ives, YC 1898. Ives’ compositions, though largely unnoticed during his own lifetime, have gone on to be considered some of the most influential works of American concert music. And then, in 1940, with the arrival of the great German composer Paul Hindemith to the School of Music, Yale’s dynasty truly began. Hindemith’s music had already gained international renown, and Yale soon began churning out the next generation of great American composers. Hindemith’s legacy of masterful pedagogy continues today. “In the past 35
alumni set quite a precedent. But as composition today meets unexpected challenges, composition study at Yale has evolved to meet them. THIS KIND OF EVOLUTION EVIDENCES itself most in the liberal, creative focus of Yale’s composition curricula. In fact, it is the reason, in large part, that the YSM’s composition program is so revered. “I can’t imagine a more perfect situation,” said Reena Esmail, YSM ’14, of the School of Music’s composition department. “[When I was a student at] Juilliard, I was forced to write in a way that was not my style.” At the YSM, she said, professors focus on individual interests. Under the professors at the YSM, Gorbos emphasized, “you can discover what’s important to you in your writing.” Often, though, the success of a composition program depends on more than just instruction. To this end, studying composition at Yale is more complicated than it may seem. There has actually been a department of music at Yale College for considerably longer than there has been a Yale School of Music, which opened in 1894. Since then, the relationship between the undergraduate department and the professional school has been in flux—the two have at times been incredibly connected, and other times, hardly
music department rarely get to take classes at the School of Music, so their access to these resources is limited. WHILE FACILITIES AND FACULTY MIGHT be separate, because both the graduate and undergraduate programs share an open ethos that allows students to experiment, Yale is a fertile setting for interdisciplinary projects. “Yale College is not the best place in the world for composition, or for writing, or for performance, but it’s the best place in the world for all of those things,” said Stephen Feigenbaum, BR ’12, YSM ’14, who is enrolled in a joint Bachelor of Arts/Master of Music program. Feigenbaum speaks from personal experience: he recently composed the music for Abyss, an interdisciplinary, highly theatrical concert music performance that involved circus arts, projections, costuming, and dance. Even without the resources of YSM, Feigenbaum claims that his time at Yale College was essential to his work with the show. “At Yale, I’m surrounded by composers, musicians, and all kinds of artists,” Feigenbaum said. “I probably would never have even thought about writing musical theater, or about the kind of interdisciplinary stuff I’m doing, if I didn’t come here.”
“People here are just like people anywhere else—no one wants to sit through a two-and-a-half-hour concert of 20-minute songs in the dark where they can’t clap.” — Stephen Feigenbaum, BR ’12, YSM ’14 years especially,” Theofanidis said, “the school has been one of the most important centers and training grounds for young composers in the world, under the stewardship of [YSM faculty members] Martin Bresnick and the late Jacob Druckman. This is not an exaggeration: of the 150 or so composers to pass through the program since then, many are the leading figures of our time, compositionally.” The Druckman-Bresnick duo reigned supreme at the Yale School of Music, and nurtured many of the deeply influential composers that have since gone on to join the School’s faculty. Notable former students of Druckman and Bresnick include current faculty members Aaron Jay Kernis, YSM ’83, and David Lang, YSM ’89, as well as prominent composers like Julia Wolfe, YSM ’86, and Michael Gordon, YSM ’86. Lang, Wolfe, and Gordon in particular have come to define the sound of contemporary concert music. Together, the three started the Bang on a Can ensemble, famous for its wild marathon performances and edgy, experimental musical stylings. “They have significantly changed the new music landscape since the late 1980s,” Theofanidis said. Of course, a rich history, an illustrious faculty, and an award-winning community of
The Yale Herald (Apr. 19, 2013)
at all. Recently, though, it’s been a serious topic for conversation. “A lot of [undergraduate] composers come here thinking, ‘I get to see the YSM faculty on a regular basis, talk to them, and get lessons with [them] no problem,” said Baldwin Giang, ES ’14, a music major in Yale College and an active composer. “That’s definitely not the case, because there’s an institutional separation.” The department of music houses both the undergraduate program and a graduate studies program, which offers degrees in music history, music theory, and ethnomusicology. The department operates separately from the School of Music, which only offers professional degrees; while the two often share resources, they hold separate faculties, and allow very little crossover. “The YSM has much, much more money, and its facilities are much nicer,” Giang said. Giang’s observations are not unfounded: in 2005, the School of Music received a $100 million donation ensuring free tuition for all of its students, and as of September 2012, the School had an endowment of approximately $365 million. When considering this in conjunction with the YSM’s superstar composition faculty, many regard the institution as one of, if not the best, of its kind in the nation. However, undergraduates in the
BEYOND ANY INSTITUTIONAL SPLIT, HOWever, another curious divide appears to exist between members of the Yale composition community—a kind of generation gap. “When I got here [as an undergraduate], I was expecting that because it was Yale people would be listening to classical music, but that’s just not true,” Feigenbaum said. “People here are just like people anywhere else—no one wants to sit through a twoand-a-half-hour concert of 20-minute songs in the dark where they can’t clap.” Giang agreed: “If all people think…concert music is sitting in a dark room with your hands on your lap, maybe that is archaic— maybe it doesn’t have a future,” he said. And, when asked about where he thought the future of concert music lies, Feigenbaum only confirmed this notion. “Talking about a future of classical music implies that there’s a present,” he said. “And I don’t that think there really is one.” The older composers I spoke to tended to disagree, and strongly. Theofanidis especially was confident about the state of concert music. “I actually think that it is the best possible time to be composing in the history of concert music,” he said. “I really disagree with those who say that concert music is becoming more obscure and isolated—quite the contrary.”
These older and more optimistic composers cited the burgeoning concert music scene in places like New York and Los Angeles as evidence for a living concert music scene. “If you go to the Brooklyn Academy of Music…I’d say you get that same effect, where it’s definitely an alive thing,” Gorbos said. “It’s like, revitalization? This is living! People are here! And they’re legitimately excited about this…It’s an alive thing.” Gorbos, like many of his fellow faculty, including Theofanidis and Rosenblum, brought up the Bang on a Can group as an example not only of Yale’s prominence in the composition scene, but of the success that concert music is now enjoying in New York City. Similarly, composers referred to the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s recent prosperity under the direction of wunderkind conductor Gustavo Dudamel as a point of vitality for concert music. As Dean of the Yale School of Music Robert Blocker pointed out, even Yale itself demonstrates a new enthusiasm for concert music. “We went through a spell when [performances] weren’t always well-attended, but now there’s a real audience each time,” Blocker said of the same New Music New Haven concert series I attended that Thursday night. “Every generation rails about how this institution is dying or dead,” Gorbos said. “And it’s not dead.” A LOOK JUST DOWN THE ROAD, HOWever, makes it clear that neither view is entirely accurate. Because while the Yale School of Music might be a hotspot for new concert music, the New Haven Symphony Orchestra (NHSO) is struggling to draw audiences for its contemporary programming. Founded in 1894—the same year as the YSM—the NHSO is one of the nation’s oldest city orchestras. When I spoke with William Boughton, principal conductor and music director of NHSO, he underscored the need for city symphonies like his to perform new music. “We’re in danger of becoming a stuffy museum otherwise,” he said. “It’s important that we foster new music.” Boughton has done extensive work to address this need: in 2007, he established a composerin-residence program that has since then been home to concert music giants like Augusta Read Thomas, YSM ’88, and Theofanidis. The program earned the NHSO an ASCAP award for adventurous programming in 2010. Still, so close to Yale, the NHSO cannot keep up. “It is always difficult getting audiences to new music,” Boughton explained. “Those concerts have very small audiences—instead of the 1,200 to 1,500 people we have come in for the classics, like Beethoven and Brahms, new music concerts typically draw only 500 or 600.” This is not a small difference: the simplest math shows that the NSHO loses a whopping two-thirds of its audience when performing new concert music. In an effort to explain why new concert music is so successful at Yale and in New York, and not in the city of New Haven, faculty and student composers alike pointed to several issues—all related to context. Rosenblum, for instance, said that location might be an issue, conceding that an
orchestra in Fort Worth, Tex., or Columbus, Ohio might have a harder time selling out new music concerts than a group in a teeming metropolis like New York City. Blocker acknowledged the advantage of performing new music at a place like Yale: “At a University, we’re in a place where new concert music is honored,” he said. Giang said he felt that many of the marketing shortcomings of concert music came from audiences’ preconceptions and expec-
piano on Saturday mornings as a kid, and on Friday nights I’d play with my punk band,” said undergraduate and professional video game soundtrack composer Alex Vourtsanis, TC ’14. “A composer would be really hard pressed to ignore that influence.” Even among Yale faculty, students, and alumni, pop music is everywhere: the Bang on a Can composers all assert that their work is informed by rock music; Yale College groups like SIC InC incorporate electronica and pop
entitled “Planetarium” sold out each night of its four-night run at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, filling approximately 8,360 seats in total. This concert, however, was a collaboration between composers Sufjan Stevens, an indie-pop icon, Bryce Dessner, CC ’98, YSM ’99, the guitarist for the National, and Nico Muhl, the only concert music composer by profession of the three. What’s more, the show involved an intricate and highly immersive light show. Still,
“I actually think that it is the best possible time to be composing in the history of concert music.” — Christopher Theofanidis, YSM ’97 tations. “I feel like there is a need to reappropriate the terms opera and symphony,” he said. “They come with a lot of baggage.” For Blood Will Have Blood, a short opera Giang recently composed that ran from Apr. 12 to 13 at the Stiles/Morse Crescent Theater, he chose to defy that baggage: “Using more descriptive words than ‘opera’ helps create new expectations,” he said. “We called Blood Will Have Blood a ‘deconstruction’ of Macbeth on the poster.” These kinds of historically set expectations go beyond language and buzzwords. For NHSO and other orchestras like it, it has become a matter of working against their own histories, as they struggle to draw audiences for performances of new concert music. “You’re fighting the battle uphill [performing new music] as an institution established as a traditional concert hall,” Theofanidis said. “[That’s] harder than to start from scratch.” WHATEVER THE REASON FOR THESE varying levels of success, the disparity itself points to the inevitable truth that concert music is in the middle of a great transformation. Audiences have changed over the years: according to Boughton, many people today don’t have the patience to sit through a two-hour concert. Furthermore, Blocker observed, people like what they know, and this makes classical music a tough sell for the majority of music listeners—because what they know is no longer concert music. Rather, it’s contemporary pop. When I spoke to Ofer Ben-Amots, a prominent classical Israeli-American composer and professor of composition at Colorado College, about the future of concert music, he made his thoughts very clear: “Pop music has won. It will always win.” His case is hard to refute: today, pop songs, whether R&B hits or bubblegum power ballads, pervade every audio source available, from film soundtracks to radios to television commercials to each little corner of the internet. It’s even impossible to listen to a symphony on YouTube or Spotify without sitting through an advertisement for the new Top 40 smash hit. In this sense, composers are no different from their audiences. “It’s so rare to find a student [who] does not have any exposure to pop music,” Gorbos said. “I played classical
into their original work; and faculty like YSM professor of composition Ingram Marshall, as well as Alexander, are renowned for their inventive and masterful use of electronic instruments in concert music. The buzzwords around the concert music community seem to be “welcome,” “explore,” and “educate.” With regards to the latter, Boughton highlighted the importance of education in contemporary concert music. “A lack of education is why audiences are dying off,” he said. “The big job of orchestras now is educational work, to open the ears of young people.” With this idea in mind, he began a children’s concert series, which has proved very successful: “Children love it, because they don’t have preconceptions.”
the faculty on the whole stressed exploration—the freedom to experiment that composers experience today was Theofanidis’ primary reason to praise the present state of concert music. IT’S CLEAR THAT YALE FACULTY AND students are aware of the changing state of classical music—and, in some ways more than others, they have made serious moves to address them. While Yale College may not provide adequate career counseling for its undergraduate composers, according to students like Giang, the YSM is famous for its career-oriented approach to compositional pedagogy. “The ‘Yale Plan’ [when I attended] was to kick you out,” said Harold Meltzer, YSM ’97,
songwriting and analysis the way it does musical theater composition. While the College offers at least one seminar in songwriting and contemporary music technology per semester, the YSM does not offer any kind of pop music course. “Is there a punk rock ensemble, where weeks two to three we’ll be studying the Ramones? No,” Gorbos said. “If a student wants to interact with other types of music that might not ordinarily be represented in that sense, it’s really up to them to find that.” Yale is not in the majority in this regard. According to Meltzer, “rigorous classes in pop music” exist at many conservatories nationwide. To young composers like Vourtsanis, who incorporates pop in his commercial compositions, the fact that Yale does not is unacceptable: “Any program that aims to be a real school of music should have a way for students to interact with [pop] music,” he said. Programs at certain other schools, he said, do allow for that kind of interaction. Despite this, however, Dean Blocker is confident that Yale has secured itself a place in the shapeshifting concert music scene. “The state of new music is robust here; we have a strong and essential program.” Blocker said that this is because at Yale, composers can interact with conductors and performers alike—allowing each to learn from the other about the aspects of their craft they do not study in a classroom, and to understand better the symbiotic relationship between the one who writes the song, the one who plays it, and the one who tells you how.
“We’re in danger of becoming a stuffy museum... It’s important that we foster new music.” — William Boughton, conductor and music director of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra Addressing the former two, composers like Theofanidis, Gorbos, and Alexander all insisted that composers must not shy away from pop music influence. Rather, they said that as long as a composer stays true to her compositional voice, she should understand pop influences and incorporate them. The younger composers who felt concert music needed a reboot all stressed the need for concert music to evolve, and, in particular, for a move toward interdisciplinary elements and experimentation. “If something that’s fulfilling for a composer is to connect with audiences, especially younger audiences, they need to accept those [interdisciplinary] influences,” Vourtsanis said. “They need to use electronic instruments and incorporate [new] media.” On this point as well, older composers seemed to disagree. “Music has to survive on what it is, not on what it’s trying to be,” said Marshall, who has taught at Yale since the early 90s. But again, the argument grows murky. It’s true that audiences are still incredibly excited about new concert music: just recently, a show of new concert music
graduate of the YSM’s composition program and professor of composition at Amherst College. “Instead of staying around until you got your doctorate, you had to be gone [and] find a career.” Only then, Meltzer said, could you return and complete your doctorate. Esmail took it a step further, deeming the YSM’s own career development office essential in helping its composition students “find a brand,” something she feels is vital for success in today’s unstable concert music world. Esmail suggested that a composer today must work increasingly harder to build a brand. “It needs to be cool to know who [a composer] is,” she said—and the YSM prepares its students to do that. “They’re good at asking, ‘What do you do that makes you special?’” In this regard, Yale is ahead of the game: “Other schools are increasingly aware that this might be necessary, but haven’t restructured yet [to follow Yale’s model],” Meltzer said. However, with an atmosphere so geared towards practical success, and a faculty so open to rock and pop influences, it’s surprising that Yale does not legitimize pop music
CERTAINLY, RELATIVE TO THE DAYS WHEN concert music was itself the popular music style, it’s not an easy time for composers. In many key ways, Yale trains its composers to learn all they can, and to put it to fast practice; in other ways, it leaves them to learn for themselves. However, as Theofanidis shrewdly summed it up, “The entire history of the arts is dependent on individuals and individual convictions.” While it’s hard to say which individual convictions will ultimately push concert music forward, at Yale—the land of red iPads and light shows, Yahi chants and video game soundtracks—there are too many to count. So if Theofanidis is right, Blocker is too: the individuals at Yale make it a vital space for the composition of concert music. And, as long as Yale continues to support those individuals, they in turn can create a space for concert music in Fort Worth, Columbus, or just about anywhere else. —graphic by Julia Kittle-Kamp YH Staff
The Yale Herald (Apr. 19, 2013)
Stores of XS
New Haven pop-up exhibition shut down on opening night by Benjamin Weissler
t’s a scene we’re all familiar with: cops arrive to shut down a Yale party. But an art exhibition? Such was the fate of the XS collaborative exhibition, which aimed to transform four abandoned storefronts on College Street into showcases for student art. XS, a group consisting of 30 students from seven different Yale graduate schools and Yale College, scheduled three-day’s worth of concerts, performances, and art immersion for the public. But it was not to be—the event was cut short by the local fire authorities on opening night, Apr. 12. XS founder Saga Blane, ARC ’13, said that the exhibition was inspired by the urban context of New Haven. “The idea propelling the exhibition was to care for and use a space that would otherwise just rot,” she said. “We wanted to take a pervasive and typical New Haven scene, the abandoned storefront, and demonstrate its potential.” On Apr. 12, that impulse, half civic and half artistic, collided with the fire code. As Blane recalls, the trouble began shortly before the 6:30 p.m. opening when an individual began complaining outside. Blane talked to the individual, whom she identified as another graduate student, about his concerns. “But this guy,” Blane told me, “clearly had an agenda. He continued to lurk around and he eventually notified the fire department.” WHEN I VISITED THE STOREFRONTS A few days after the “incident” (XS’s euphemism), I found Blane at 206 College St., in the process of dismantling the installations. Stuck momentarily between art and emptiness, everything was chaos: bottles were strewn about, ceiling panels were missing, and wires coiled underfoot like snakes. 206 College St., before it was co-opted by XS, was a bankrupt nail salon, as evidenced by the plush manicure and pedicure chairs hulking in the corners, the large neon “NAILS” sign, and a wall-mounted shelf with narrow ledges for nail polish. On Apr. 12, the salon had been full of pews, alcohol, and excitement in anticipation of a pre-show concert with Paul Kerekes, MUS ’14, and Daniel Schlosberg, MUS ’13. As we walked between storefronts, Blane conjured back the art, by then mostly gone.
The Yale Herald (Apr. 19, 2013)
In another room titled “The Regenerators,” a veritable forest—soil, foliage, and flowers—had been draped over the counters of a former deli. On Apr. 12, the display was accompanied by lighting and music composed at the frequencies mushrooms respond to. Next door, in 208 College St., where the walls were a cacophony of scrawled words, was an exhibit called Text Box. “Text Box,” says Blane, “was about exploring the human side of technology and the digital interactivity’s potential to redefine our relationship with texts.” The artists had coded a program that
quacy of the spaces for public assembly and decided to shut down the whole event. While the New Haven Fire Department declined to comment for this article, Table 18.104.22.168 of the Connecticut State Fire Safety Code stipulates that for concentrated assembly use, without fixed seating, there must be at least seven square-feet per person. Hypothetically, the exhibition would require 3,500 squarefeet to accommodate the approximately 500 attendees.
‘With everything going on in New Haven, [the cops should] definitely focus on shutting down the art exhibit.’” After two weeks of hard work making the storefronts presentable, it’s inevitably a letdown. After all, as the XS website proclaims, the exhibition was intended as a “grand finale to a year-long collaborative process.” The XS Kickstarter account is a testament to that hard-fought, concerted effort: 84 backers chipped in to raise $6,058.
BLANE WAS INCREDULOUS ABOUT THE public assembly charge. “We had signed liability forms and so forth,” she said. “I’m
generated Twitter-sourced poetry for any user-given keyword. The fourth storefront, a room called “Somewhere/Anywhere” at 202 College St., played host to what Blane called “fantastical landscapes.” Stretched out across the floor was a map of an imaginary world, continents and rivers superimposed in white paint against the black tile floor. The detailed city diagrams, conventionally inset in the map, were instead projected against the ceiling. When the fire marshal arrived on Apr. 12, he initially honed in on the most overt hazard: the Regenerators room, stuffed with lighting, people, and combustible plants. Eventually, however, the fire marshal cited the inade-
pretty sure we crossed our t’s and dotted our i’s.” The exhibition was bursting with people; Blane estimated about 500 of them visited before it was shut down. But, she said, “these are storefronts, so they definitely are meant to have people congregating in them. It’s not clear to me that there’s a meaningful difference between commercial enterprise and public assembly.” The decision to close was met with the same mixture of puzzlement and frustration among the hordes of attendees. Cora Lewis, PC ’13, who arrived just a few minutes before the exhibition closed, said, “There was some grumbling and a few [sarcastic] comments to the effect of,
STILL, THE MEMBERS OF XS REMAIN optimistic. “To the extent that XS is really a process, where we get people who don’t usually talk to each other talking to each other, [the closure] isn’t as heartbreaking as it otherwise might be,” said Blane. XS member Matt Claudel, BR ’13, agreed: “When you’re working towards something, there’s always the potential for really great friendships,” he said. “The community that develops becomes more valuable than the result itself.” Of course, the result itself wasn’t a total letdown—the exhibition went out with style. Blane laughs: “In a way, this makes us more badass.” Lewis vouches for the newfound street cred. “I think the cops shutting the exhibit down made the whole thing seem much more transgressive than it was,” she said. “XS definitely isn’t over—I think people feel united by this and it’s given us even more zeal to carry on and do different things,” said Blane. Claudel echoed the sentiment: “You haven’t seen the last of XS.” Proving that art is indeed irrepressible, the poetry reading scheduled for opening night meant the nail salon migrated, along with most attendees, to the architecture school. And at least one part of the exhibition continued as planned: the Caseus cheese truck was on-hand distributing 150 grilled cheeses. The leftover booze, too, was no small consolation. Thanks to Blane’s cleanup efforts, much of the art is now gone from Crown’s storefronts and a little more emptiness has taken its place. It’s hard not to wonder what corporate chain (à la Shake Shack) is poised to revive the next dead New Haven storefront. But what’s certain is this: the ability to reclaim, reinvent, and regenerate, as much as the ability to invent anew, is alive and well in New Haven. —graphic by Julia Kittle-Kamp YH Staff
The Yale Herald: Literary issue
Coming to newsstands
Fri., Apr. 26 The Yale Herald (Apr. 19, 2013)
CULTURE Lux et veritas, y’all by Austin Bryniarski YH Staff
ast Saturday, the Yale Undergraduate Southern Society (YUSS) hosted their second-annual Fried Alligator fundraiser in the Jonathan Edwards buttery. “We wanted to give people at Yale the chance to taste of one of the South’s weirder foods all while raising some money to help conserve America’s wetlands,” said Sarah Torgeson, JE’ 14, originally from Waveland, Miss. “A lot of people were impressed or shocked by the alligator.” YUSS, a relatively new student organization, was founded by Kyle Killeen, ES’ 12, and Ray Xiong, SM ‘12, four years ago. According to the group’s Undergraduate Organizations Committee (UOC) description, it aims “to serve homegrown Southerners, those who appreciate the South and anyone eager to learn more about the American South,” reasoning that “the American South has been underrepresented within the student body at Yale.” Through hosting campus-wide events and activities, YUSS strives to facilitate a better understanding of the South and bring a little down-home charm to campus. Their efforts to correct the misconceptions about southern students raise the question of what it is like to be a Southerner at Yale. “When I say I was born and raised on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, people automatically assume that I have a certain set of beliefs, political and otherwise,” says Torgeson. The Ivy League perception of the South as “backwards” and southern notions of liberal northeastern culture cause severe culture shock when Southern students travel between homes. “The South is looked at in the North much how Ireland is looked at by the British: they’re culture rich, but cash poor,” explains Bill Ferris. Ferris, a professor at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, has dedicated his career to studying the South. Originally from Vicksburg, Miss., Ferris would host musicians like B.B. King and writers like Eudora Welty when he was a Calhoun College Fellow and American Studies professor at Yale in the 70s. Ferris elucidates the effects of the cultural change on southern students when they return home from the North-
The Yale Herald (Apr. 19, 2013)
east. “When students leave Yale, they go home with an understanding that there are other worlds. They are forever changed by it,” he says. Before one of his friends went off to Yale, a local tailor provided the following mantra as a guide to assimilate: “Dress British, Think Yiddish.” A lot is shared between New England and the South, but according to Ferris, for a Southerner at Yale, a lot has to be relearned when confronted with a different world.
However, some try to fight the impulse to fully embrace the culture of their new surroundings. Elizabeth Henry, CC ’14, is something of a campus celebrity, and has a blog entitled: “Southern Belle at Yale,” where she writes about her day-to-day adventures on campus as a Mississippian. “It’s mainly for the little old ladies at church, friends from home, and their moms,” she says. “My dad will print it out and send it to my grandma because she doesn’t know how to use a computer.”
Not all feel so comfortable. “People at Yale love to spout off insults about the South,” says Tyler Blackmon, JE ’16. For Henry, “Don’t turn into a liberal!” was a common last request friends and family. This experience for Southern conservatives is not uncommon: “I’ve also been asked more than once whether I’m gonna become a liberal,” says Sophia Chen, SM ’16. Others need to fight the presumption that they’re conservatives. “The Southern liberal is a growing breed, as people have begun to realize that caring for the poor is also a family value worth fighting for,” says Blackmon, an active college Democrat. Stereotyped cultural differences run deeper than politics. “There is a myth that Southern values include bigotry, selfrighteousness, and anti-intellectualism,” explains Blackmon. “And though these traits may drive a small minority of citizens in Dixie, anyone who blankets Southerners with these accusations fundamentally misunderstands the Southern spirit.” Regardless of these cultural differences, one thing remains consistent: Southerners have to reconcile their Southern roots and Northern education when deciding whether or not to return. The conflict that arises leads to a greater appreciation for back home. “I like to quote Robert Penn Warren, when he says ‘A fish never thinks about water until he’s out of it,’” Ferris explains. It seems common that after Southerners come to Yale they appreciate their home more. “When I first arrived at Yale, I thought I would not ever return to Arkansas if I could help it, but I have come to appreciate my hometown more and more,” explains Casey McCarthy ES ‘15. “Ironically, I’ve learned to love my home,” says Blackmon. “For the first time in my life, I am now seriously considering returning to the South after graduation.” Torgesen adds, “People don’t usually leave the South, so when I left, I really was leaving everyone and everything I knew.” If the goal of the YUSS is for others to understand the South, the transition to Yale for Southerners serves a similar purpose: to teach southerners what matters to them about themselves. It takes leaving the water to relfect on it. —graphic by Madeline Butler YH Staff
Yale in a bowl
New Haven pictured New Haven doesn’t get a lot of love from those unfamiliar with its charms. Its name, to those who aren’t in the know (and, frankly, many of those who are), brings to mind crime and grime. “People in my grandmother’s generation still can’t believe I live in New Haven,” says Jeffrey Kerekes, who has lived in the Elm City for a decade. “This guy told me he doesn’t go out after dark, and I laughed, because I thought he was joking.” He wasn’t. To combat that negative image, Kerekes and neighbor Chris Randall created a blog called “I Love New Haven.” The blog features photographs of New Haven events and community life, with recent posts including photos of parties, fundraisers, protests, festivals, and kickball tournaments. “Perception is reality for a lot of people,” says Kerekes. “We wanted there to be positive stuff in the media about positive stuff here.” Since its inception last September, the blog has earned around 2,500 hits on an average day, and its Facebook page has nearly 1,500 likes. The blog allows Kerekes and Randall to deepen their connections even further with the New Haven community, in which they were already majorly involved. Kerekes, a psychotherapist in New Haven, came in at a close second to DeStefano in last fall’s mayoral election, with 45 percent of the vote. Randall was the executive director of the New Haven Land Trust until last January, when he began working as a full-time photographer. “The website enables me to have a presence and gives me even more exposure to great people doing great things in communities that I wouldn’t necessarily be exposed to,” says Randall. Every Wednesday, the website features submissions from a guest contributor. On Wed., Apr. 3, Damian Weikum, CC ’15, posted some of his photos to the site. Most were shot around Yale’s campus in the days after Nemo. “It’s one of my first publications for photos and hopefully it leads to bigger things in the future,” says Weikum, an aspiring photographer. For the future, the blog’s creators are conjuring up new projects beyond the website—maybe a book, gallery shows, or expansion into neighboring townships. But for now, they are content to create good cheer about their town. “When people start seeing there’s all these cool things happening, it makes them happier, step back, and reassess,” says Kerekes. “They stop and say, ‘Hey, it’s a pretty cool place.’ I had no idea this stuff was going on. It’s a unique opportunity to show people. My goal is to change perceptions.” — Devon Geyelin YH Staff — graphic by Devon Geyelin YH Staff
When molecular biophysics and biochemistry professor Scott Strobel left the lab for an administrative position on West Campus, he wanted a hobby. Strobel filled his garage with power tools for woodcutting. But the inspiration for his new project came to him in the form of a beech tree that a groundskeeper was cutting down in front of the Yale Admissions Office on Hillhouse Avenue. He had bought the tools; here was the wood he would cut. Strobel retrieved the downed beech from Hillhouse in 2007, but it was two years later that he carved it into his first Yale bowl. By the summer of 2010, Strobel’s house was overflowing with these bowls, each a different shape and texture, but all of them vivid evocations of the trees they came from. But Strobel didn’t have the room for them in his home anymore. That summer, he launched the Yale Bowls website. Strobel was excited when he sold his first bowl to the mother of a Yale student. But since then, these bowls crafted from the trees of Yale’s campus have not just been for the longing graduates and nostalgic alums. They’ve also been presented to renowned guests to campus such as the president of Israel. The interface on the Yale Bowls site lets you pick a tree and then see the products that were made from it. There are still pens left from the original admissions beech, bowls from a Phelps Gate elm, and two pens made from the bleachers at the real Yale Bowl. Each product comes with a story of its source tree’s history. Strobel isn’t just a fan of Yale’s fallen green giants. “I like to get wood from all kinds of interesting, weird places,” Strobel told me. One year he acquired wood from both the Brooklyn Bridge boardwalk and from Lake Gatun on the Panama Canal. From that he made two pens, which the University presented to historian David McCullough, DC ’55, whose early works chronicle the histories of both the Brooklyn Bridge and the Panama Canal. Strobel’s hobby has grown to include his family. “My son is in college in Utah, so he makes the pens from the smaller pieces of wood,” Strobel said. He actually mails pieces of Yale’s trees to his son, who sends back completed wooden pens. The revenue has been enough to allow him to pay for his own tuition. Strobel’s brother also helps with the process, mostly by gathering wood. I suspected that woodworking ran in the family. Strobel admitted that his grandfather enjoyed it, but he added, “Maybe it runs in the family, but he didn’t teach any of us how to do it.” Strobel’s brother was self-taught in the woodworking skill, and Strobel took courses to learn. “I think there’s some sort of love in the tactile,” he says. Nowadays we don’t know the true origins of almost anything we buy. Maybe the “love of the tactile” isn’t just in the process of carving out a bowl—it’s in creating an object with a sense of place. —Karolina Ksiazek — graphic by Devon Geyelin YH Staff
The Yale Herald (Apr 19, 2013)
REVIEWS Entranced by Andrew Koenig YH Staff
irector Danny Boyle has quite a legacy to live up to with his latest movie, Trance: between the gritty verve of his 1996 film Trainspotting and the feelgood appeal of his 2008 hit Slumdog Millionaire, he must straddle a difficult line. To do this, Boyle has made a commercial psychological thriller—a genre that combines both the popular appeal and anxious energy of his past films. Trance starts with an art heist that goes terribly (and mysteriously) awry. But Simon (James McAvoy), an art auctioneer and key eyewitness to the heist finds himself clueless as to what happened. Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson) enters the fray as a hypnotist who attempts to restore Simon’s memory. What follows is an elaborate and overall compelling jigsaw puzzle of misty recollections and suppressed memories. There is no question that Boyle has employed a number of clichés to propel the plot forwards. For instance, Elizabeth’s role as the mysterious, racially ambiguous and sexually charged love interest with questionable morals reflects a trend seen in many recent James Bond movies. Additionally, the amnesiac slowly piecing together his forgotten memories is a trope repeated in one too many psychological films. The lead performances hold their ground: James McAvoy deftly goes back and forth between charming and unhinged, and Rosario Dawson plays the sexy, semi-unethical (make that “unethical”) therapist pretty well. In fact, her character sheds many of her stereotypes as the movie progresses and assumes a sense of empowerment. However, the heist henchmen are vanilla-bland meatheads. And all of the actors, to varying degrees, fall prey to that somewhat histrionic but almost indispensable component of psychological thrillers: they grip their heads, hallucinate, dream, remember traumas and spin around in attempts to just make sense of it all. Despite these shortcomings, the movie is a success. Boyle’s accomplishment in Trance is his fusion of these conventional tropes in acting and filmmaking with more subtlety and intelligence than is normally found in a psychological thriller. He makes ample use of repression, suppression, hypnosis, transference, countertransference, and more to lend the characters psychological depth and mystery. These Freudian psychoanalytic tidbits are engaging and often quite delicious. The art auctioneer’s amnesia is expertly represented by a liberal use of visual montage, and spliced and distorted cinematography. The ending, too, is especially arresting—loose ends are skillfully tied up without over-explanation. Of course, Trance will mislead some and annoy others in its portrayal of modern therapy. The picture it paints of hypnotherapy is unabashedly sensationalistic and
The Yale Herald (Apr. 19, 2013)
sexed-up. Elizabeth does things with her client that would, in the real world, get her debarred. This is not necessarily a problem, however; considering Boyle’s wish to make a popular commercial film, a little bit of erotic and romantic subtext is worth an ethical sacrifice here and there. And the ending alone justifies the occasional intervals of tedium and excessive explication. The twists take you by surprise, and Boyle keeps them coming. It’s a little too long, but not egregiously so. Best of all, Trance continues what looks to be a positive trend in mainstream filmmaking. It plays to an attentive, relatively smart audience, while also supplying a level of Hollywood polish that leaves room for commercial success. It leaves you wondering, but not scratching your head. It begins with pretty unlikable characters who remain, through the end, pretty unlikable characters—which is actually quite brave for a film of this commercial caliber. People do not normally gush about a film being challenging and sometimes uncomfortable, but these qualities are what make Trance a breath of fresh air. Its brisk pace puts to shame the interminable, labyrinthine period dramas regularly trotted out as Oscar-worthy. At the same time, it does not have to rely on sex and gore (at least, not too much) as so many action movies and thrillers do. There is no doubt that a talented director has made an imperfect, yet smart and worthwhile film that merits serious attention.
Music: Yeah Yeah Yeahs The word “mosquito” immediately conjures some gruesome images in my mind when I reflect on it. But even if my personal experiences with the Culicidae family aren’t too fond, I can at least add a new positive association to our humidophilic companions: the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have released Mosquito, the band’s thrilling fourth studio album. Surprisingly enough, the title suits the tone of the album quite well—lead singer Karen O’s voice is strikingly incisive, and her high-pitch screeches (to be interpreted in the best of ways) are simultaneously painful and sublime. But what is really so striking about Mosquito is not its connections to nasty bugs, but rather how radically different it is from the rest of the band’s work. Of course, this claim alone is difficult to qualify, as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs never really emphasized a coherent sound: even the band’s best tracks, like “Maps,” “Gold Lion,” or “Zero” sound nothing alike. But Mosquito’s prominent, electronicheavy instrumentation pushes Mosquito far away from the group’s traditional rock orientation, and much of the songwriting tunnels Karen O and company deeper into the rabbit hole of experimentation. Opening track “Sacrilege” begins with Karen O soloing a punk anthem but ends with the shouts of an overwhelming gospel chorus, and its effect is risky but powerful. This kind of exploration is not always successful. There are moments where Mosquito’s songs wander, and some of the album feels like Karen O endlessly repeating a harmony over an indiscriminate wall of sound. But when the stars align for Mosquito, like on “These Paths,” title track “Mosquito,” and “Despair,” the result crafts an edgy yet anthemic atmosphere that truly capitalizes on the best that the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s have to offer. —Alexander Saeedy YH Staff
Movie: 42 42, a new biopic about Jackie Robinson (the first African American to play Major League Baseball), is no exception to the age-old trend of heartwrenching, historically-centered sports films. But, unlike most sports movies, it carries with it each of the essential components that make a sports film great. Many great sports movies, for instance, are suspense movies, and great sports filmmakers are masters of suspense. And in the hands of screenwriter and director Brian Hegeland, 42 has plenty of suspense, despite its widely-known plot. Most great sports movies also conjure for viewers a sense of yearning for childhood, spent at stadiums or in front of the television supporting their favorite team. 42 certainly fulfills this requirement, with its romantic and nostalgic treatment of the classical baseball game experience. Some great sports movies even document an important historical moment—they can be a vehicle for a testament to the strength of a heroic individual. 42 again is no exception, with its stark portrayal of the racial adversities faced by Jackie Robinson, a true hero who stood against the racism in the MLB at the time. Chadwick Boseman as Robinson is truly moving in Hegeland’s capable hands. Harrison Ford, with a mysterious aura and a wise, deep voice, is similarly loveable as Branch Rickey, the courageous MLB executive who made the daring choice to sign Robinson on account of his “superhuman” baseball skills and his courage. From his cast to his screenplay, Helgeland has entirely outdone himself. 42 is powerful on all accounts—and no doubt a sports film to remember. —Cosima Cabrera
Music: Iron and Wine Since releasing his debut LP The Creek Drank the Cradle in 2002, Sam Beam of Iron and Wine has used crooning vocals and an acoustic guitar to express themes of heartbreak and melancholy. With Ghost on Ghost, his latest release, Beam presses forward, moving toward cleaner, polished songs without losing that sense of intimacy. Despite introducing pianos, saxophones, drums, and cooing background singers to his previously more unadorned sound, Beam never strays from the focus: the wistful whisper of his voice, and his poignant, heartfelt lyrics. In “Lover’s Revolution,” a full-out jazz ensemble interrupts the track; all the while, Beam’s lyrics reveal suppressed anger about a tumultuous relationship. (“All the fingers that we damaged when all we wanted was a diamond ring”). It’s clear that this is a new musical direction—in some ways, Beam is paying tribute to the good old days of 70s pop. Showstopper track “Grace for Saints and Ramblers” recalls a Beatles’ rambling love tune, and “Winter Prayers” echoes Simon & Garfunkel. However, by alternating between tense and languid lyrics, Beam makes it work. In fact, those who might miss the soft, folksy spins through rural America found on Beams’ earlier work won’t be disappointed —“Caught in the Briars” conjures up summer in South Carolina, a lyrical conceit that arises throughout the album, and “Winter Prayers” transports listeners to desolate Wisconsin. Even more, with songs like “Joy,” Beam revives familiar sounds: the comforting croon of his voice with sparse background instrumentals. The similarly structured finale, “Baby Center Stage,” calls Beam’s old hit “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” to mind, commenting on love and loss. Iron and Wine has always created intensely personal listening experiences, and Ghost on Ghost beautifully follows that trend. Of course, instead of just the listener and Beam, it becomes the listener, Beam, and his growing collection of instruments—but, fortunately, Ghost on Ghost never feels crowded. —Alisha Jarwala YH Staff
Here’s what we’ve been up to Where we’re eating: The Silliman buttery. The food is free. It’s fried. It’s fun. It’s fatty. It’s not fancy, but it’s any 12-year-old fat kid’s or 21-year-old frat king’s fantasy. And ours. What we’re watching: LA Shrinks. It’s this Bravo reality show where whackos feel comfortable airing their therapy sessions and saying things like “My boyfriend says my clit is so big, it’s like balls,” on national TV. You can’t watch this show without intuiting that the genre will never be the same again. In 2050, professors of reality TV studies at liberal arts schools everywhere will have it on their syllabi. What we’re listening to: Shlohmo and Jeremih’s “Bo Peep (Do U Right).” On repeat, too. It’s a single produced through a collaboration between Shlohmo, LA’s hottest beat DJ, and Jeremih, of “Birthday Sex” fame. Shlohmo’s stripped-down yet complexly layered beats are threaded together by Jeremih’s silky falsetto to form an electrified version of a classic raw RnB that makes us squint and bob our heads slowly. What we’re looking at: The ridiculous outfits people wore to the Coachella Valley Music Festival. Pick any three of the following: tie dye, headbands, bra-lets, floral garlands, bug-eye glasses, mini overalls, plush backpacks, sun hats, sun dresses, bleached hair, strapped sandals, black clogs, kneehigh socks, fanny packs. —Micah Rodman YH Staff
The Yale Herald (Apr. 19, 2013)
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BULLBLOG BLACKLIST Consider this our official invite to a mixer at 305 Crown. Guests: the Herald editorial board and these 26 randomly-selected Yale students.
It’s just like fuck you, you know? You can give him a big sloppy blow job on your own time.
People who hurt other people
Also, that Book Trader’s iced coffee tastes like tikka masala.
GroupMe threatening to evict you unless you respond soon.
Business Insider’s “26 most impressive Yale students”
When the class brown-noser arranges a class meal at Mory’s for “a steak and a cup” with the prof
That iced coffee costs more than regular coffee
That friend from NYU who brags about having sex on top of a roof in Williamsburg
Dogs who walk away when you try to pet them
What, do you have something better to do?
Blue State’s waste disposal system
Not tryna have sex on top of Harkness.
Specifically, when the clear plastic clamshell from your turkey sriracha wrap doesn’t fit into the trash hole so you have to spend three minutes standing there slapping the clamshell until it fits in there and falls into the trash.
The Yale Herald (Apr. 19, 2013)
Published on Apr 19, 2013