The Yale Herald Volume LVI, Number 4 New Haven, Conn. Fri., Sept. 27, 2013
From the staff As Culture editors—mavens of anything of cultural relevance—we were naturally obsessed with the internet sensation and Tumblr blog that was “40 Days of Dating.” The day that Timothy and Jessica (our initially platonic protagonists who decide to date for fiveish weeks) posted their 40th day and revealed that their love was no more, these culture eds swore off internet voyeurism for good—or at least for a few hours. But then it hit us that we too were two friends with relationship problems (read: no other friends)—why not begin our own 40 days of dating? As we enter the home stretch of our own fiveish weeks, there’s plenty of fun to look back on. Vegetarian dinner parties. Pi Phi’s Highlight. Hours on end eavesdropping on other people’s convos at Blue State. All of our time spent together was linked by going out of our combined comfort zone. The secret of a good relationship, we’ve found, is the tandem search for thrill. Sometimes, thrill is sought intentionally. Even before we were jumping off the Toad’s stage and writing on randos, Tao Tao Holmes, BR ‘14, was plummeting out of a plane with Mike, her beloved skydiving instructor. In this week’s front, she catalogs the intensity of her first leap by inviting us to join in. Perhaps you’ll find thrill in the smaller—but no less thrilling—thrills that this issue has to offer. Will Theiss, BK ‘16, contemplates what massive open online courses mean for Yale, and Caroline Sydney, SM ‘16, reflects on the legacy of a design great in Features. Culture knows that physical attraction is relevant—Alex Saeedy, TC ‘15, profiles Yalies who also model on the side. Reviews brings us a potential date-night spot in Ricky D’s Rib Shack and the film “Prisoners.” And, like any good relationship, there’s much more to find out.
The Yale Herald
Volume LVI, Number 4 New Haven, Conn. Friday, Sep. 27, 2013
EDITORIAL STAFF: Editor-in-chief: Maude Tisch Managing Editors: Micah Rodman, Olivia Rosenthal Senior Editors: Sophie Grais, Eli Mandel, Emily Rappaport, Emma Schindler, John Stillman Culture Editors: Austin Bryniarski, Katy Osborn Features Editors: Kohler Bruno, Alisha Jarwala, Lara Sokoloff Opinion Editor: Andrew Wagner Reviews Editor: Kevin Su Voices Editor: Jake Orbison Design Editors: Madeline Butler, Julia Kittle-Kamp, Christine Mi, Zachary Schiller Associate Design Editors: Kai Takahashi, Devon Geyelin Photo Editor: Rebecca Wolenski BUSINESS STAFF: Publishers: Shreya Ghei, Joe Giammittorio Director of Advertising: Steve Jozkowski Director of Development: Thomas Marano Director of Finance: Aleesha Melwani Executive Director of Business: Stephanie Kan Senior Business Adviser: Evan Walker-Wells ONLINE STAFF: Online Editor: Colin Groundwater Bullblog Editor-in-chief: Micah Rodman and Jack Schlossberg Bullblog Associate Editors: Kohler Bruno, Austin Bryniarski, Navy Encinias, Carly Lovejoy, Larry Milstein, Lara Sokoloff, Jessica Sykes 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 2013-2014 academic year for 65 dollars.
As for us, we’re still finding out so much. Swerve, Austin Bryniarski and Katy Osborn Culture Editors
Please address correspondence to The Yale Herald P.O. Box 201653 Yale Station New Haven, CT 06520-1653 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 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 Jin Ai Yap YH Staff
The Yale Herald (Sept. 27, 2013)
IN THIS ISSUE
COVER 12 TaoTao Holmes, BR ‘14, takes a dive from 30,000 feet, but not without someone who’s done it many, many times before.
Andrew Wagner, TD ‘15, talks with art critic and Carnegie Professor of Art History David Joselit about the aesthetic, philosophical, and economic costs of a globalized art market.
Maya Averbuch, BK ‘16, wanders through the streets and hills of Argentina, all to find what it means to be an American in a foreign family.
Will Theiss, BK ’16, reports on Yale’s new massive open online courses, which will launch this winter, and investigates their longterm impact on higher education.
Caroline Sydney, SM ‘16, takes a glimpse at the evolution of Yale’s graphic design program since its founding in 1951 and how it continues to blaze a trail in academia.
OPINION: Noah Remnick, ES ‘15, points out the costs of not providing a free public education to all , and Jordan Ascher, SM ‘14, tries to make sense of Ted Cruz.
Devon Geyelin, TC ‘16, visits Manet-inspired naked picnics at Yale’s 32 Edgewood Gallery, while Alexander Saeedy, TC ‘15, gives us the ilow-down on Yale’s professional models. Also: Calhoun launches a “Happiness Project.”
Jane Balkoski, JE ’16, on Chvrches’ The Bones of What You Believe. Also: Icona Pop, Ricky D’s Rib Shack, Prisoners, and our weekly staff list. The Yale Herald (Sept. 27, 2013)
THANK GOD IT’S FRIDAY
The earlier parents’ weekend It is AWESOME that parents’ weekend was moved up this year to accommodate Salovey’s inauguration. The last thing I would want is my mom breathing down my neck as I’m pregaming THE social event of the century. New drinking game: take a shot if Salovey adjusts his glasses, shout “Bring back Safety Dance!” if he says “discipline,” and yell “woot woot” if you think “woot woot” is a funny thing to say.
The Herald’s week in review: what rocked, what sucked, and who took the lead in IM thumb wrestling.
Canceling office hours My cognitive science professor did the unimaginable this week. In an email, he told us that he would not be available during his usual 4:305:30 slot. Literally, what the hell? I was planning on going and then that rug was pulled violently from under me. What if I wasn’t a religious email reader? What if I had marched on over to his office to find a locked door and, with it, a broken heart? And in the middle of midterm season, no less? Maybe something “exigent” did come up, and yes, maybe he did add other office hours to compensate and maybe the email was extremely polite, but my brain only wants to learn about itself when it wants to and I’m afraid I don’t have all that much control over that beast!. Maybe you know what most brains look like when they are angry, Professor, but not this one. Not this one. —Natalie Epstein —graphics by Julia Kittle-Kamp YH Staff
The Yale Herald (Sept. 27, 2013)
YCC Events Calendar I’m a pretty big fan of events. Some are definitely better than others, but I’ve had some great times at events of all kinds. Whatever kinds of events you might be into, I hope we can agree that on the whole they are pretty cool things. That is why YCC’s new calendar is so exciting! We can all be in the know all the time, and who wants to be out of the know? Not event lovers like me! It’s a beautiful thing that I can now know all of the campus goings-on from the comfort of my own bed! I won’t even remember that I’m being lazy! It definitely makes me more likely to get out there more, and that no doubt is an incredible feat! Sounds like a good situation, right? Wrong. Have you looked at that thing? Warning: Brain overloaded! Eyes diverting! Sleep commencing! Excuse me, CHE members, you think I want to know when your retreat is? No. Do I want to know when ballet classes are offered? No. Newsflash: I don’t have hours of my life to throw away sifting through your disorganized bullcrap.
TYNG CUP STANDINGS
INCOMING: Parents Weekend events invites
If you haven’t logged onto Facebook in a few days, then you’re in for a fucking treat. Prepare to see your notifications tab fatally hemorrhaging with invites to more Parents’ Weekend events than you could ever (read: have any desire to) attend. Sure, you’ll click “attend.” Are you really going to be that one pompous nugget in the “not attending” section? I’m sure any number of a cappella, dance, comedy, and whatever other performances won’t be actively bad. But are you really going to go? No. You’ve got a life to live and free meals with your visiting parents to capitalize on. Who has time to appreciate song, choreography, and jokes? Not you! And not me! I’m jaded! Which is a problem because I’ve been sending out invites to so many comedy shows that I’m pretty sure freshmen at my high school have heard about them by now.
OUTGOING: Shopping Period state of mind The other day my professor mentioned that the first major paper of the class is due soon. I’m sorry, what? I think he must be mistaken, because this is still shopping period. I can walk in and out of any class I want. I can ignore the syllabus and scoff at the idea of section discussion. I can do no work and get away with…wait, nope. That’s over. This is real life now, not Camp Yale or shopping period. A paper being due means that I have to move my ass to the library and stop filling my lazy afternoons with two hour Veep marathons at Jojo’s while I sip on tea and nibble at a turkey club. But whatever. I’m ready to work. It’s just that I wouldn’t have minded another week or twelve of doing reading and work at my leisure. That’s all. —Jake Dawe YH Staff
Berkeley Branford Calhoun Davenport Ezra Stiles Jonathan Edwards Morse Pierson Saybrook Silliman Timothy Dwight Trumbull
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Percent return on Yale’s investments in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013.
4.7 Caffeinated midterm study spots
Percent return last fiscal year.
20.8 Value, in billions of dollars, of the Yale endowment as of June 30th.
Blue State: Invade and force everyone to drink black-andwhite mochas in the spirit of Civil War and Reconstruction.
Woodland Café: Stick a bamboo rod in your green tea to better prepare yourself for your Vascular Plants midterm.
Koffee on Audubon: Draw the Schlieffen Plan with your latté foam for your paper for Europe in an Age of Total War.
Maison Mathis: Re-enact La Rafle while chugging cafés au lait to make up the missed Collaboration and Resistance in Vichy France lectures.
Willoughby’s Coffee and Tea: Catch up on “Sense and Sensibility” for Jane Austen and feel smugly serendipitous that you’re in a coffee shop with the same name as the scoundrel you’re reading about.
— Thomas Yabroff
23 Peak value of the endowment, in billions of dollars, prior to the 2008 financial crisis.
13.5 Average annual percent return for the Yale endowment in the past twenty years.
1,747,018.31 Average annual percent return for the Yale endowment in the past twenty years.
Sources: http://news.yale.edu/2013/09/24/endowment-earns-125-return — Joseph Tisch YH Staff The Yale Herald (Sept. 27, 2013)
DAVID JOSELIT SITS DOWN by Andrew Wagner YH Staff Andrew Wagner/YH As Carnegie Professor of History of Art, David Joselit has studied everything from Duchamp to television. His 2012 book, After Art, considers the ways in which digital technology and globalization are transforming the state of contemporary art. The Herald sat down with Professor Joselit to discuss his career as an art critic, how he got interested in contemporary art, and whether or not the art world is actually a massive money-laundering operation. YH: Did you always have an interest in contemporary art or was it something that developed over time? DJ: Somehow, I always did. When I was a teenager (I grew up the suburbs of Chicago), I used to take the train into the city and go to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) and the Art Institute of Chicago to look at the contemporary art there. YH: What was it like working as a curator at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art? DJ: Well, it was very exciting then. I didn’t have a graduate degree yet, and the art world (at least in Boston) was much more fluid. So I started when I was 23, and it was like having an introduction to this ongoing parade of interesting figures from the art world. Sort of like the way that art school here is always hosting really interesting guests. Every weekend we had these performances called “Friday Night Specials,” which were in a very small theater—almost like theater in the round, very intimate. People like Laurie Anderson and Karen Finley were there. All these interesting performance artists of the ’80s and comedians and musicians came so that was particularly exciting for someone like me, someone in his twenties who had never lived in New York or any major art city, to have this weekly experience of various aspects of live arts. YH: What made you want to move from being a curator to working in academia? DJ: I think the real reason was that I wanted to write more and being able to reflect more. Particularly where I was a curator, we were doing something like five shows a year ourselves on a very tight budget. It was great, it was very exciting, but you felt always that once you had completed one project you had to quickly move on to another. And my primary interest is in writing so I wrote a lot as a curator, but I always felt like I was getting to a point where things might be ready to go to the next level, but there was no time left. Also, I felt like I needed a more comprehensive and methodical training because I had only had a college degree at that point. YH: You’ve work as both an art historian and an art critic. How have you found these roles differ? DJ: One very material way is that, when you work on very recent art, you don’t really have to deal with a huge backlog of literature, so you can often be wrong, but you can also sometime say the first, obvious things about someone’s work. Also, it’s exciting to try to figure out why something is happening the way it is. That’s true of historical research too, but it’s more of a challenge in art curation since, usually, it’s something that you are just completely unfamiliar with. The other thing that is fun about curation is that you can make judgments without necessarily having to substantiate them to the degree that you would want to do in scholarship.
The Yale Herald (Sept. 27, 2013)
Finally, it’s very invigorating to pin fault with living artists and to work with them directly. YH: How do you understand the relationship between art critics and artists? DJ: On the one hand, there’s a kind of stereotypical tension, or even hostility between art critics and artists, but the really serious art critics tend to like artists and want to be in dialogue with them so in general, there’s often a close relationship. I think the majority of things that I have learned about contemporary art have been in some kind of dialogue with the artist. Not that they necessarily have a definitive reading of their own work, but the way they see works of art is extremely intense and material, which is not to say non-conceptual or simplistic at all, but the problems an artist has to deal with are the problems involved with making something; I don’t make anything myself except for texts. Unless you hear an artist really talking about what it is to make something, you miss a lot about what the process is like and how meaning is developed. YH: What advice would you have for people interested in art criticism? DJ: My advice for that is always the same: you should just start writing, no matter in what context, and you should start looking at as much art as possible. When I was in college, I started writing for a publication called the Boston Ledger. It was a weekly column, which is sort of hard to believe, and I’m sure if I looked at it now it would be excruciating. But for writing, like playing an instrument, you just have to practice. The one thing about coping with contemporary art is that it really helps to have a large mental archive. When you confront something that is unfamiliar, if you have a sense of the range of strategies that have gone before, it gives you a very useful framework. YH: You recently published a book, After Art. How did the idea for that book come about? DJ: There were two propelling reasons. One was my previous book, Feedback: Television Against Democracy, which was about, you might say, the television-art-underground-cinema-activistecology. And it was about how in the ’60s, video art co-existed with various publicity attempts by groups like the Yippies, Abbie Hoffman, etc. to break into television coverage in one way or another. So I was very interested in thinking about feedback loops and networks. I had always had a practice since my early curatorial years of looking and writing about contemporary art, and I wanted to write about that was about how globalization and digitization changed the conditions for making work. So in one way, After Art was a kind of sequel to my book about television and video and activism. And the occasion to write came when I was the Kirk Varnedoe Visiting Professor at NYU’s art history program, the Institute of Fine Arts. There I gave three lectures, and I then developed these ideas. I revised those ideas and make this very short book, which is really just a long essay. YH: In what ways do you think we live in an era that exists “After Art”? DJ: Well, one dimension of the title is “after” in the sense “after-image.” So one thing I’m very interested in, throughout the book is understanding how the circulation of works of art after
they are made affects their meaning, even at the point of making. So I’m trying to think about how there is a network-logic that artworks enter into and how artists think about that when they are making their work. So “after” suggests a kind of circulation— after the point of making art, there is the circulation of art, which is increasing in importance. The other dimension of “after” has to do with how the art world has really changed in recent years to become a major force of gentrification all over the world. When you see hundreds of new museums cropping up in China, in the Emirates, not to mention the explosion of museums and biennials in Europe and the United States. So to some degree, I am arguing that the art world is analogous to, on the one hand, universities as a producer of knowledge and, on the other, a kind of entertainment industry. So “After Art” means what happens when the art world is no longer about the unique, precious, singular work of art, but instead become these institutions of knowledge production, gentrification, entertainment, etc. YH: In the book, you argue that art is becoming less about these singular precious objects because artists are manipulating networks of images. What exactly does that manipulation entail? DJ: Since the beginning of the 20th century, the gesture of art has been more to find content and reframe it, or as I put it in the book, “reformat” it. I think the core assumption is that what artists do is produce new content from their imagination, but more and more in a google-age, where searching for content is, in a way, as important, if not more important than producing content. Artist have begun to think about the aesthetics of, lets say, “search”—what I call in the book, “the epistemology of search,” how search becomes a kind of knowledge. This really arose out of noticing in a critical method that so many artists are reframing, reformatting, collecting, or aggregating existing images or existing objects. I wanted to really think about what that meant and what the aesthetic of that was. YH: So the creation of unique art objects is becoming irrelevant? DJ: Well, the irony of this is that, while you could say that, the art market has exploded. The paradox here is that art is an aesthetic and philosophical endeavor, but it’s also, as it put it very polemically in the book, a form of money laundering. It is a way of parking capital. You could say, in that way, that the traditional work of art is more entrenched than ever. What I’m trying through the gesture of this “after” is to think about how artists can cope with this duality. There tends to be a disavowal among artists and really everyone in the art world of the real economic side of art. It is always admitted, but it isn’t necessarily utilized. I think we should acknowledge it, and not pretend we’re going to abolish it, as there’s no evidence that is going to happen, and instead leverage it, use it for purposes that are progressive as opposed to being merely tax havens for the rich. Even in the Times, there was a fascinating article about a tax-free art warehouse in Geneva. I’ve heard the same from friends that are often art is bought and never exported to where its going, kept in storage so that taxes don’t have to be paid on it. You could say that is irrelevant, a work of art is a work of art, but what I’m trying to understand is how we can channel this in a productive way, a politically progressive way, instead of a defeatist way. —This interview was condensed by the author.
EXTRANJERA by Maya Averbuch AT THE DINNER TABLE IN AN APARTment in Buenos Aires, I have lost another word. “It’s like a small brain, un cerebro pequeño, with two lungs inside, sí, con dos pulmones adentro.” I gesture with my hands, as though this lost word, this untranslated particle, can be pulled from the air. Julio, my pony-tailed, bearded host father, smiles. He waits. The act of speaking in Spanish is one of rapid-fire semi-translation, of being uncertain which thought—the native one, or the foreign one—arrived first. I stammer through invented words culled from the dictionary of almost-right: nicets, nocets, uh, nucets. I bring my thumb and forefinger together—es así, like this—this size, this round shape. ¿Me entendés? And finally he’s nodding, pointing at the counter, at the bag my host mother grabs from the bottom shelf. Here it is in all its glory: a walnut. I WAS RAISED WITH AN UNSPOKEN belief: to grow up is to move. To reach adulthood you must dismantle and pack away only the necessary pieces of your life, and reassemble them someplace far away, across oceans and unknown terrain. My parents taught me this unintentionally, through their own stories of emigration. Now they are surprised when I tell them that I intend to leave. For two months in Argentina, I am the foreigner, la extranjera. I study the way people speak, watch their mouths move, listen to the cadences of their words, in order to replicate. The game is to see how long it takes students in the university hallways or travelers on the street to realize what I am. “You’re like an Argentinian who speaks very slowly,” says the vendor selling empanadas and meat sandwiches in the university. “You from Columbia?” asks a man in a hostel. Another: “But your parents are Latino, no?” Time for self-congratulations, a few solid pats on the back. But then, as always, the slip-up: the forgotten word, the misconjugated verb—it is my friend’s Ecuadorian roommate who does the final takedown: “You sound like one of the Koreans who moved here. Learn to e-nun-ci-ate.” MY MOTHER, WHEN ASKED, SAYS SHE LIVES IN NEW York but is from India. My father pronounces everything with a rough Israeli touch. They are immigrants, but not of the Ellis Island variety; they came with acceptance letters from American universities and professional aspirations. Aunts and uncles had settled here before, and every year, they told themselves, the flights were getting shorter. My mother was sure she would return home soon; my father tried not to think about forever. We never became an American family, not exactly. We have the little blue books, the official stamps, all the right papers, but these are mere formalities. An element of transience has remained. My parents do not neglect our American home—the floors were painted not long ago, and the wooden cabinet in the middle of the kitchen is new—but they wait for the vacation morning when they can print their airplane tickets. In the meantime, my father soaks chickpeas overnight to prepare the hummus the way it tasted
back home, and my mother spends her lunches in a small restaurant on 28th Street, munching on spicy lamb wraps. Sometimes we find her watching a glitzy Bollywood movie, and when my father rolls his eyes, she yells that she has a right to watch whatever she wants and that, anyways, she only watches these movies a few times a year. IN CAFAYATE, A TOWN IN THE NORTHEAST OF ARGENtina, my friend and I stay at a red-walled hostel with peeling walls and no locks on the doors. The stylish, young French woman who runs the place asks if we can pay in dollars— she’ll give us a good exchange rate, and it’s complicated to exchange pesos back in France—before pulling out a map and pointing out the best bodegas and a local goat cheese farm. We hike through the cactus-covered land bordering the Río Colorado and are ripped off by the local boy who serves as our guide. We purchase fresh green beans and tomatoes from an old woman in a tiny produce shop at the end of a deserted street, and cook vegetable pasta on an old, half-functioning stove in the hostel. At the dinner table where the rest of the hostel dwellers gather, the French owner tells us she did not plan to stay; she was traveling, and then he—she points to her Argentine husband, who looks like a surfer with his long blond hair—didn’t let her leave; now, look at her, baby on the way. Anyways, it was so beautiful here, she says. Early the next morning, we see what made her stay; we bike through kilometers and kilometers of the most astounding multi-colored mountains molded into torturous shapes by centuries of water passing through. Somewhere before the 25 km mark, the halfway point, I remember how the French woman had cried out when I mentioned my age—19! What she would give to be that young again. Busing from one town to another, we meet Argentine travelers in all the hostels. The “so where are you from?” is inevitable, and we slip into conversation before we’ve even put our bags down. One night, as slabs of beef cooks slowly on an outside grill and glasses fill with a bitter herbal alcohol called Fernet, I unintentionally become an ambassa-
dor. “What do you think of communism?” a sweet-natured teacher from Buenos Aires asks. “Do people die of hunger in America?” asks another Argentine traveler. We describe food stamps and homeless shelters as if we are certified experts on America’s poor. We sound proud without meaning to; we qualify our statements. Our new friends laugh, give us their Facebook names, and take photos with us as we watch the coals. We quiet down only when the hostel owner comes outside to scream about all the noise we are making. In a snow-capped village high up in the mountains, after my friend has already flown back to the United States, I wander around by myself for hours. Back at the unheated hostel, I prepare scrambled eggs with the leftovers of my failed attempt at dinner, when Andres walks in. A handsome, dark-haired man who had taught me to juggle in a Humahuaca hostel, he says he walked around for hours before someone agreed to give him a bed. “Must be the hair,” he laughs, patting his scruffy head. We walk to the top of a hill to see the windy cemetery in which the simple graves are decorated with plastic flowers. We return and sit in a central plaza, sharing mate, Argentina’s national drink, a tea sipped from a dried gourd through a metal straw. It’s cold and my feet are starting to freeze, but I say nothing to hurry us up; the end of my trip is playing out, and I will stretch the moments until they break. I speak to Andres as if stripping away his assumptions about me, the American tourist, is the last thing I have to do to prove myself to all of Argentina. We spend hours tangled in difficult conversation, much of it political. “Why does America ever have to intervene?” he asks, after a while. The answers slips out before I can catch it: “Because we can.” For a moment, we hits me with its patriotic fist, and I am ashamed. But there’s a truth to it, to the belonging it suggests. “De una manera, we’re responsible.” Culpable, too. Andres shakes his head gently; running up against my answers, he hears what it means to be a child of America. ON THE 20-HOUR BUS RIDE TO BUENOS AIRES, I SLEEP and wake and sleep and wake and never know exactly where I am. I peer through the window curtains and see low houses, a boy beating his hands to the pulse of a drum circle, dark trees and thick shrubs, telephone poles and whitewalled storage spaces. Mostly, I just see the edge of the road and the unending stretch of dark beyond it. I try to read the Spanish subtitles under the Tobey McGuire movie on the pop-out screens. I pick my way through A Tale of Love and Darkness, the Israeli book my father lent me back in December; in the lost day, I read of displacement. I wonder if in 30 years, I will wake up and dream of an airplane like the one that awaits me now. Or whether I will wake up in America and appreciate it for being mine and hate it for having held on to me for all my life.
—graphic by Julia Kittle-Kamp YH Staff The Yale Herald (Sept. 27, 2013)
OPINION A MISEDUCATION by Noah Remnick On the first day of classes at his local public school in Yuba City, CA, David Swanson was turned away at the door. Twelve days later, his family received an unsigned letter offering $86,000 to keep him out for good. David, whose story has garnered some local media coverage, has autism and diabetes, and at age 21, he is still unable to express himself verbally. He struggles to write his name, to remember his phone number, to maintain his hygiene—all activities that were supposed to be the core of his education plan. Last year, while David was still enrolled in school, one of his teachers decided to add table manners to the curriculum. Deciding that plastic cutlery would not suffice, the teacher forced David to eat with a metal fork. David, who is sensitive to metal utensils touching his teeth, became distressed and spit the food out. The teacher then shoved the food back into his mouth, causing David to vomit. The law says that David, like all other disabled students, is entitled to a “free appropriate public education”—often referred to by the acronym, FAPE. While what David received was free and it took place in a public school, it was neither appropriate nor educational. Although most special needs students are tended to by dedicated and knowledgeable teachers, far too many children with disabilities are routinely denied one or more of the elements of FAPE. By shortchanging the needs and legal rights of disabled students, the educational system not only cheats its most vulnerable charges, it also increases the difficulties that they and society will face when they become adults. David’s case might be unusual, but it is hardly unique or even the most extreme example of how our education system regularly, and tragically, fails its most vulnerable students. A 2009 General Accounting Office report found hundreds of reports of students who had been abused and even died in the preceding decade at the hands of school staff. The overwhelming number of them were disabled: a four-year-old girl from West Virginia with cerebral palsy who was tied to a chair with her mouth duct-taped shut; a 14-year-old boy from Texas with PTSD whose teacher, twice his size, laid atop the facedown boy until he died. When, in 1990, the federal government established the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the hope for the law could be summarized in those four words: free appropriate public education.
The Yale Herald (Sept. 27, 2013)
Too often shortsighted local education administrators focused on budgetary rather than academic concerns, determine that only one or two, not all four, aspects of FAPE can suffice. They decide that if they provide some modicum of education, it doesn’t really need to be appropriate; or if it is appropriate, it need not be in a public setting, but instead sequestered in a grim, isolated environment. In other words, they diminish the law and, in doing so, violate the rights and damage the prospects of their most defenseless students. David Swanson received his buyout offer after his mother, Heather Houston, sued his school district for violating her son’s civil rights by denying him FAPE. The district hoped that an $86,000 settlement would be enough to compel David’s family to withdraw their complaints and pull him out of school. But Houston refused. She rightly wants the entire promise of FAPE fulfilled. Cost, of course, is a growing issue holding back the FAPE ideal. The population of children suffering from autism and other physical and intellectual disabilities is growing at an alarming rate. David has one more year in the educational system and then he will join the burgeoning number of adults with autism and other special needs. This tidal wave has built before our eyes for decades, and yet we are no more prepared to manage their issues when they become adults than we were when they first started school. We have inadequate housing options, vocational training, jobs, and health care. It boggles the imagination to conceive of a teacher who would cram food into the mouth of a distressed, disabled person. But FAPE exists in part to combat this type of compassion fatigue. It was created to ensure that the disabled don’t have to rely on the goodwill of others to received equal respect from our education system. And every time someone thinks such guidelines are not necessary, a case like David’s arises to remind us why it is our obligation to protect society’s most vulnerable. The money school administrators have tried to save by shortchanging their neediest students will be paid by government agencies and families forced to care at a more intense, restrictive, and expensive level for disabled adults woefully unprepared for life after school. The guarantee of FAPE must be honored now because the moral and financial alternatives are too costly to contemplate.
POLITICS, NOT POLICY by Jordan Ascher YH Staff
If Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex) hates one thing, it is President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. If he hates two things, they are the Affordable Care Act and the act of compromise. And he’s not about to back down. Cruz has inserted himself at the confluence of two political storms: the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (nom-de-guerre: Obamacare) on Oct. 1, and the expiration of the continuing resolution to fund the government, which will also take place on Oct. 1. Free of any action by Congress, two things would happen on that day next week. First, online health insurance exchanges would open in all 50 states, allowing Americans to compare the prices and services offered by competing health plans. Second, all non-essential offices of the federal government would close for lack of funds. Any attempt to foil Obamacare’s implementation requires Congressional action. Congress also needs to act in order to avoid a government shutdown. Cruz has insisted that any law meant to fund the government must also defund Obamacare. He has threatened to filibuster any government funding measure that doesn’t. Starting Tues., Sept. 24, Cruz spoke for 21 hours against Obamacare in what seemed like a filibuster, but technically wasn’t. As a Senator, that’s his right. Also, for him, it was a deeply rational political decision. By insisting that funding the government be contingent on defunding Obamacare, he is following a dire logic to its conclusion: politics and policy no longer point in the same direction. This is anarchy masked by procedure. Obamacare is the law of the land, approved by all three branches of government. Any attempt to formally repeal would fail. Frankly, it’s a pretty benign piece of legislation, but that sort of rationality is not part of Cruz’s lizard-brained political calculation. In light of these facts, most politicians—even many Republicans—have resigned themselves to the unenviable prospect of health care for all. Cruz is not so easily deterred. Cruz is taking the nation’s political and economic livelihood hostage in order to stake out a radical political position. This gambit is irresponsible in the extreme, and when the dust settles, it won’t have worked. Obamacare will stay law. Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that Cruz’s strategy would “shut down the government and keep Obamacare funded.” But that’s a question of policy—of assessing the actual outcomes of legislative
action. Cruz is concerned with politics. His irrational policy position is a deeply rational political maneuver. He can win massive credit with his Tea Party base and incur few consequences for himself or the national party. Political brinksmanship has been a constant since the election of 2010, when a new generation of young, extremely conservative Republicans seized the House of Representatives. Many commenters assumed that this victory would be unsustainable and that Republicans would find themselves eventually constrained. Immediately before the GOP was rebuked in the 2012 election, President Obama predicted there would be a “war … inside that party” if he was reelected. The suggestion here is that this intra-party conflict would cause Republicans to buckle, to the Democrats’ political advantage. That assumption seems to be wrong. The rules of the game provide no inducement for Cruz and his Tea Party to acquiesce to the Democrats or to the established interests in their own party—uncompromising conservatism is, politically, the right move for them. If Congress continues to falter, blame may fall at Republicans’ feet. But for Tea Party congresspeople, that doesn’t matter. National unpopularity may hurt Republicans in national elections, but House races are distinctly local. Therefore, conservative candidates in conservative districts can use their opposition to Obamacare, even their support for a government shutdown, to win votes. In statewide Senate races, primaries— voted in by the most fervent Republican activists—ensure that only the most ideologically pure conservatives will win their party’s nomination. Ted Cruz is surely aware of this; in 2012 he wielded his conservative credentials to defeat Texas’s former Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst in the Republican Primary, beating long odds. Whether, idle talk aside, an extended government shutdown would eventually hurt the GOP’s standing among conservative voters who depend on federal services but don’t realize it—that’s a question for another day. At present, Cruz is doing away with the conventional wisdom that the right wing of the Republican Party will eventually ease their reckless, anarchic zeal. Republicans from conservative states and districts see electoral advantage in intransigence. Compromise would make them vulnerable to defeat by yet more conservative primary challengers. The structure of the game rewards zeal; in fact, it insists upon it. And October 1 approaches. —graphic by Christine Mi YH Staff
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Logging on Yale’s new massive open online courses highlight the changing face of higher education by Will Theiss YH Staff
n the first decades of the 20th century, educators began to wonder about what they could do with a sensational new piece of technology: the radio. Like everything else in the industrial world, education would become an efficient and mechanized process and the wisdom of the world’s experts would no longer be confined to the walls of their classrooms. In the words of the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission at the time, the new “college-by-radio” would put “American education 25 years ahead.” But where the radio failed to substantially change the nature of the classroom, the next wave of communication technology is poised to fundamentally alter the way we learn, upending a tradition established two millennia ago with Plato’s lectures at Athens’s Academy. This January, four Yale Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) will appear on Coursera.org, a for-profit third-party platform that already hosts courses from Princeton, Stanford, and the University of Pennsylvania. While Yale began posting some lectures online over a decade ago through a platform called AllLearn, Coursera’s MOOCs are an entirely different species. Open to the public, they have been made exclusively for the Internet, making the intended audience Yalies and non-Yalies alike. Beyond the standard internet video, students register for these lectures, and they take quizzes, post in forums, and in some cases submit written work for peer-grading. Most MOOCs on Coursera are free, and as Provost Ben Polak stressed in his May 15 bulletin, Yale’s will be as well. Coursera charges students who enroll in its “Signature Track” courses, which offer special certificates, or when other universities pay Coursera so that their students can take MOOCs for credit. But Yale will own the content that it posts online,
The Yale Herald (Sept. 27, 2013)
and the Yale courses will be available for free unless the University decides otherwise. This is not Yale’s first foray into providing free education on the Internet. The University has been experimenting with online education since 2000, when the AllLearn Consortium offered course material exclusively to Yale alumni. In 2006, under the leadership of Professor Diana E. E. Kleiner, Yale launched Open Yale Courses, a program that initially made 42 courses available to anyone, anywhere, free of charge. When I spoke with Kleiner, who teachers popular courses on ancient Rome and art history at Yale and whose MOOC “Roman Architecture” will debut this winter on Coursera, she was especially busy; beyond her normal responsibilities as a Yale instructor, she was working to put together material for her MOOC, a course much larger than her aver-
the spring semester. “I want to figure out some way for students to have the opportunity to see what the [MOOC] is all about,” she said. The perspective of someone enrolled in the MOOC who lives near a Roman arch or aqueduct, for example, could possibly be a valuable addition to the Yale classroom. Professor Paul Bloom, whose MOOC on psychology is entitled “Moralities of Everyday Life,” agrees that there is “nothing intrinsically different” between his lectures online and those in the classroom. The content will largely be the same, he said: “I’m providing some version of a Yale education to the world.” With this in mind, online expansion seems to operate under the principle that the experience of going to a lecture is not significantly different than that of watching a MOOC. With this in mind, presumptively, Coursera is simply
seen some instances of the flipped classroom: Professor Kleiner assigned some of her online lecture material for her “Women in Rome” seminar, and was able to devote more class time to interactive learning, like expanded discussions and excursions to the Yale Art Gallery’s collection of ancient coins. “[The flipped classroom] was just wonderful,” she reflected. “I loved it.” But as more content becomes available online, and the technology of MOOCs improves, the classroom seems poised to become increasingly digital, and some worry that professors, especially professors at cash-strapped public universities, will become de facto assistants to a MOOC instructing celebrity lecturer, or, even worse, left without jobs at all. Why pay professors to lecture, the argument may go, when a lecture from a star academic at an elite
“I’m providing some version of a Yale education to the world.” —Paul Bloom, psychology professor age lecture. Within the short 6 weeks of her MOOC, she will try—as she does in her Yale course—to teach the entire architectural history of Rome. “I believe that such breadth is valuable,” she said, for both her Yale students and online students. Kleiner has only slightly reworked the material from her Yale course, she said, but she plans to incorporate some of the bells and whistles made available through the Coursera medium. The upshot, she hopes, will be an online course that will not be inherently different from her Yale lecture. In fact, Kleiner will teach her MOOC and its in-house counterpart at the same time, a situation with interesting potential for students in Roman Architecture in
another “means of global access to Yale courses,” as Polak wrote in his bulletin. But tied up with Yale’s switch to Coursera is a much more important issue, which has less to do with how well MOOCs will reflect the content of a Yale class—instructors and administrators hope they will do so fairly well—but rather, how Yale’s MOOCs, and how MOOCs in general, might change the nature of higher education. One such change that MOOCs allow for is the so-called “flipped” or “blended” classroom, in which students watch lectures before the class they’re taking in person, online, and on their own time. Class time is then devoted exclusively to questions, discussions, and other more personal interactions. Yale has already
university can do a better job for cheaper? A notorious example of this hypothetical comes from San Jose State University, where administrators made a deal with edX—a Coursera-like platform that hosts courses from Harvard and MIT, among others—that allowed the school to use the online lecture material for their own classes. When the San Jose State administrators asked the school’s philosophy department to pilot JusticeX, a popular MOOC from Harvard professor Michael Sandel, the department refused, and decried the concept of such a “for-credit MOOC” in an open letter to Sandel. “It is in a spirit of respect and collegiality,” the department wrote on Apr. 29, 2013, “that we are urging you, and all profes-
sors involved with the sale and promotion of edX-style courses, not to take away from students in public universities the opportunity for an education beyond mere jobs training. Professors who care about public education should not produce content that will replace professors, dismantle departments, and provide a diminished education for students in public universities.”
ing Arrangement,” posted online, leaves open this possibility: “decisions on how the courses will be made available beyond the basic free offerings on the platform will be the subject of continuing conversation,” it reads. In an interview, Craig Wright—Professor of Music, and Yale’s new Academic Director of Online Education—echoed this language. “We’re looking at that carefully,” he said, “but we’ve certainly
talization of higher education. “We won’t all agree about the potential benefits and risks involved,” she said, “but we should be openly discussing these possibilities.” Nor should faculty and administrators participate in that conversation alone, she said. “Yale students have a stake in this, for what their degrees mean, [and] for how ‘teaching’ and education are understood.”
“You lose a bit of the spontaneity. For example, you’re never going to have a conversation with another student as you walk out of a class room.” —Reed Berry, ES ‘16 Coursera itself has a stake in this fight. A bill is currently stuck in the California State Senate that would require schools in the University of California system to offer online versions of courses for credit whenever they couldn’t offer the course with their own faculty. It would be considerably less expensive for a school to buy a MOOC than to hire another professor or expand existing in-school offerings. Daphne Koller, cofounder of Coursera, is among those trying to move the bill through the State Senate. Moreover, a post on the Coursera Blog from May 29, 2013 revealed that the company had “begun working with 10 state university systems and public schools to explore the possibilities of using MOOC technology.” The for-credit MOOC appears to be just over the horizon. A crucial question for Yale is whether the University will participate in the digitalization of a college education by offering its MOOCs for credit. Yale’s “Summary of Coursera Host-
come to no conclusions there.” Some Yale faculty members are wary of the ways MOOCs might affect other institutions, and about where Yale will stand in relation to such changes. John Rogers, DUS of the English department, knows well the potential value of online lectures, and his online seminar on John Milton has been a successful addition to Yale’s online summer program. Still, he aired a note of caution. “This rise of the credit-bearing MOOC,” he said, “an educational model that I’m very confident Yale will never put its name to, can’t bode well for the future of higher education.” Jill Campbell, also a professor in Yale’s English department, agreed that there might be some undesirable consequences if MOOCs increasingly replace the professor-student interaction in the classroom. For her, though, the most important issue is that we open up a university-wide dialogue about how Yale should or shouldn’t participate in the increasing digi-
The students I spoke with for this article seemed cautiously optimistic about MOOCs and their potential to reshape education. “Online courses have some real benefits,” Reed Berry, ES ’16, who took a Yale online seminar this summer, said. “You can use tools like video-chatting and email to recreate what it’s like in a classroom, and even sometimes enhance the experience. But there are also limitations. You lose a bit of the spontaneity. For example, you’re never going to have a conversation with another student as you walk out of a classroom.” Noah Remnick, ES ’15, who took Rogers’s online Milton seminar this summer, echoed these sentiments. “It’s encouraging to see educators harnessing new technology in order to address educational inequality, but MOOCs are hardly an equal substitute for classes that allow students to engage in person with their classmates and professors,” he said.
Maybe MOOC s are only the latest correspondence school, a 21st century “college-by-radio,” and the gathering of professors and students in a physical room is a stronger formula than MOOC enthusiasts think. Bloom concedes that if a professor merely stands at a podium and speaks as if to a camera, he or she ought to fear that an online star lecturer will take his or her job. “But if they’re doing it right,” he said, “there will be differences between them.” Robert Shiller, Sterling Professor of Economics and soon-to-be instructor of the Yale MOOC “Financial Markets,” agreed. “The whole thing might be overblown,” he said as we chatted in his office, which is outfitted with an old computer and several stacks of books. He’s teaching a MOOC simply because it “sounded useful to a lot of people.” His imagined audience is not a group of students taking the course for academic credit, but rather people listening in as they’re jogging or cooking, perhaps retired people wondering whether to invest their money. He explained to me that he finds television “morally repugnant” because it isn’t actual experience, and, in the same way, he thinks people will ultimately prefer the real experience of a professor to the artificial, overprofessionalized “celebrity academic,” as he termed it, of a MOOC. Online education “lacks the necessary human component,” he said. “What is very special about college is the community of real people.” Clearly, the jury is still out on MOOCs, and as Yale begins to experiment with them, it will be important to note what the MOOC is capable of achieving, and even more important to decide what Yale is willing to achieve with them.
—graphic by Kai Takahashi YH Staff The Yale Herald (Sept. 27, 2013)
Zachary Schiller / YH Staff
The Yale Herald (Sept. 27, 2013)
Strapped into freefall Harness up! Get ready for a thrilling plunge through the air with TaoTao Holmes, BR ‘14, and tandem parachutist Mike Hennessy.
know I’ve reached the right place when the pavement beneath my tires crunches into dirt, and I see human specks swirling down from the sky. One by one, they plummet through the air, then explode into colorful striped canopies—red, green, yellow, purple. Just beyond the rows of double-parked cars, the patched-up runway at Ellington Airport, and the cluster of sheds and awnings that make up Connecticut Parachutists Inc., Mike Hennessy is soaring overhead with a stranger strapped to his lap. On this brisk but cozy Sunday morning, as I meander among men and women mingling in jumpsuits, it hits me that I’ve wasted the three whole years since I turned eighteen fumbling around exclusively on earth. I’ve rocketed off trees and swing sets, porch roofs and seaside cliffs, but never out of a plane. Mike has jumped out of a plane 9,109 times and has strapped on 4,398 tandem passengers. At age 62, he is one of the most experienced jumpmasters in the country, if not the world. And today, I will be his 4,399th passenger. Mike has already lugged his parachute to the packing station and is back with his third student of the hour, a twenty-something Italian guy recently returned to earth.
“So what’d ya think?” Mike asks the young earthling. His speech is gravelly and arrives in spurts. “More exciting than two chubby chicks in a hot tub?” Dear Lord, I’m sure hoping it will be. OCTOBER IS THE PRETTIEST AND CLEARest month, Mike says. Colorful, crisp, cool, and predictable. Standing along the edge of this wide-open field, I feel like I’m on the sidelines of a grade school soccer match. But at this field, the kids are on the sidelines and the parents are out playing. And instead of scoring, they’re skydiving. Mike left his home in West Springfield, Massachusetts at 6:30 a.m. to reach Ellington, Connecticut, by seven. Today, the fog didn’t burn off until 10 o’clock, though sometimes the elements tease and flirt until mid-afternoon, at which point the jumpers finally give up and go home. If it’s cloudy and Mike takes up zero passengers, he makes $0. On sunnier days, he earns $30 per jump out of the $215 price tag. The other $185 covers CPI’s equipment, maintenance, and airplane expenses. A tandem parachute alone costs $16,000. Luckily, it’s now clear enough to rev up Skydive Spaceland, a white and blue Otter plane that seats 23 and takes as many as 36 trips up on long summer days. At
11 o’clock, Manifest—CPI’s control center, a little white building that looks like a beachside lobster stand—is announcing a five-minute call for the plane’s second load of the day. Mike is standing on the gravel pathway next to Manifest, with his first tandem jumper suited, harnessed, and ready to go. His student, my friend Omar, is dressed in a full-body black and yellow jumpsuit that gives him the adventuresome allure of a Power Ranger. Mike looks like he’s just out to buy groceries. He has on a blue long-sleeve t-shirt and a grey zip-up fleece vest, worn-out sneakers, and a pair of navy pants. The midmorning sun shines on the nude crown of his head, his warm spread of wrinkles, and the prickles of his gray mustache and white beard. Tucked between a commanding forehead and ruddy cheeks, Mike’s eyes are soft brown-bluegreen puddles, the reflection of stratus clouds in a forest pond. “Omar, who’s your best friend?” asks Mike. Omar fist pumps him in the shoulder. “You’re my best friend!” he says. Mike smiles and nods his head, his six-foot frame slightly hunched beneath the 50-pound parachute. “That’s right. For the next 15 minutes, I’m your best friend.” One of the staff at Manifest has rolled a set of metal stairs to
the side entrance of the plane, and jumpers are talking and laughing as they climb in. Mike’s giving his new best friend Omar a pat on the back and tugging on a strap here and there. “But I’ll always remember you,” says Omar, raising his eyebrow with a smile. “And you’ll just forget me.” FOUR THOUSAND, THREE HUNDRED AND ninety-eight Omars remember Mike as the man who took them diving from the sky. They sometimes send him flowers and letters, or Christmas cards with messages like: “Thanks for my jump 10 years ago!” Every once in a while, one pegs him randomly on the street and says, “I remember you!” One time, at a wedding in upstate New York, a man Mike didn’t recognize came up to him and asked, “Do you remember my sister?” Mike’s visceral response: Oh shit, what. “Yeah, she jumped with you a couple of years ago; I was down there to watch her,” the man said. “You changed her life—she was an introvert, afraid of work, afraid to screw up, afraid of people—and after she jumped, you couldn’t shut her up!” Mike never imagined he’d be spending three decades’ worth of weekends jumping out of planes with strangers. Sure, as a The Yale Herald (Sept. 27, 2013)
kid, he liked jumping off things—the natural high that comes with that feeling of fear right before the leap. But a roof was one thing. The idea of launching out of an airplane had never crossed his mind. Mike made his first jump in 1976 at a commercial drop zone in Orange, Massachusetts. He was 26 years old and scared shitless, he says. A friend who had jumped as a Marine in Vietnam handed Mike his old round military chute and told him—here, you try it. The jump required two hours of instruction and was a solo static-line (military style, with the chute deploying itself as you leave the plane). Mike, like most people, made his first jump with no intention of making a second; he just wanted to see what it was like, say “Hey, wow,” and walk away. But something clicked. He ended up jumping with that old chute 300 times. The first hundred took him three years. Now, that same number takes him a few weeks. Since that day in Orange nearly 40 years ago, Mike has swooped over Italian snowcaps, Seattle lakes, Chicago skyscrapers, and Connecticut beaches. He’s jumped into Boston Commons lit up at night and ceremonies in the Yale Bowl; he’s landed on baseball mounds to throw the season’s opening pitch and drifted past Ferris wheels to the feet of singers Winona and Naomi Judd. He’s flown in to deliver gifts at birthday parties, graduations, and weddings—in fact, he’s probably arrived at more weddings by parachute than by car. When Mike was in his twenties and thirties, his friends stopped inviting him to their personal functions. They knew that if there was going to be good weather, he wouldn’t
funeral and wake will be like, Wednesday, Thursday. So don’t worry about it.” THOUGH MIKE HAS GRADUALLY CURBED his obsession, he still averages 350 jumps per season against an experienced jumper’s 200 a year, placing him, by number of
click—to indicate where we’ll be connected. Thumbs in your harness, elbows relaxed at your sides. I nod. So far, everything feels too easy. Twenty minutes from now, when we’re in the plane, Mike will tell me to stand up. I’ll hunch over and walk to the door like a little
Mike has swooped over Italian snowcaps, Seattle lakes, Chicago skyscrapers, and Connecticut beaches. He’s jumped into Boston Commons lit up at night and ceremonies in the Yale Bowl; he’s landed on baseball mounds to throw the season’s opening pitch.... He’s flown in to deliver gifts at birthday parties, graduations, and weddings—in fact, he’s probably arrived at more weddings by parachute than by car. jumps, in the top five percent. He continues to earmark weekends and holidays for jumping, but he now makes exceptions for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and if there’s an important wedding, he’ll go. These days, though, there are more funerals than weddings. His parents, brother, and most of his cousins, uncles, and aunts have passed away. Hennessy men all die young, he says. I wonder if skydiving has kept Mike alive. Mike’s first wife, whom he married when he was 20, made Mike promise that he wouldn’t get their only son, Neil, into sky-
turkey, since he’s hunched over my back, and there’s a 50-pound pack on his back. When we arrive at the door, he’ll tell me to lift my feet, and I shouldn’t hesitate. It’s a very high-energy, holding-shit moment, Mike says, not because you don’t remember, but because there’s so much going on, you can’t remember. We’ll jump out of the plane at around 10,000 feet and our fall rate will be 120 to 135 miles per hour. (That’s 1,000 feet every five seconds). In the air, the arch body position is the single most important thing I have
We’ll jump out of the plane at around 10,000 feet and our fall rate will be 120 to 135 miles per hour. (That’s 1,000 feet every five seconds). In the air, the arch body position is the single most important thing I have to remember. be coming anyway. Mike was spending all of his weekends and holidays competitive jumping, practicing and traveling all over the country and the world. Mike not only competed in solo competitions, sometimes beating out national and world champs, but was also a member of a team that perfected group skydiving formations and accuracy landings. His four-person team, Delusions of Adequacy, later renamed the Fabulous Flying Phlegm Brothers, racked up 800 trophies over 13 years. Mike also competed in solo competitions, sometimes beating out national and world champs. He would leave his day job early, take days off, and sleep at the drop zone. His mother scolded him, “God forbid I die on a weekend, because you’re not going to be there.” Mike was quick to counter, “No, that’s okay, because it takes a few days to get everything in order, so the
The Yale Herald (Sept. 27, 2013)
six months, will automatically deploy when we hit 1,200 feet. Though Mike has never fainted under canopy, his passengers have. They’ve peed and pooped on him, too. Such instances were far worse in the ’80s, when passenger harnesses were restricting blood flow and causing larger people to pass out.
diving. Mike agreed, as long as Neil was allowed to play schoolboy sports. When Neil was 20, his mother developed terminal liver cancer. She told her son that life was short, and that it was about time he went and played with his father. Whoever jumped first with Mike the following day would be his 1,000th tandem passenger. At the time, CPI knew of only five other people in the world who had taken up 1,000 tandems. It’ll be a big milestone for me, Mike told Neil. Just think about it. The next morning, Neil showed up. I’m going with ya, he told his dad. Number 1,000. Son strapped up to father, and together, they plunged. Mike sits at one of the picnic benches and pats the wood next to him. I plop down and we turn so that we’re straddling the seat. He taps my shoulders and hips—click-
to remember. To practice this beforehand, I stand facing him beside a picnic bench and place my palms against his. I tilt my head back and slowly, reluctantly, let my heels lift off the ground and my belly button lean forward. The small of my back feels jammed, as if the muscles are all folding over one another. I try to tune out the discomfort and focus on Mike. “Fall into freefall, trust me, go to sleep,” he murmurs. “Feel how relaxed you are? If you can be that relaxed in freefall, it’ll be beautiful.” The chutes are manually deployed at 3,500 feet after about 35 seconds of freefall. His altimeter—a sort of oversized plastic watch—keeps track of the altitude so he’ll know when to deploy, though it’s instinctual by now. If something goes wrong—Mike faints or has a heart attack, for instance—the reserve chute, which is re-inspected every
To avoid crunching any bones when landing the insensate, Mike either lifts the legs of his passengers or bodysurfs them 30 or 40 feet, making sure to hold their heads up off the ground. It usually hurts them more than him, Mike says, but half the time, they don’t even notice. Out of the nearly 4,300 people he’s taken up, Mike hasn’t sprained a single ankle. BEFORE IT’S EVEN MY TURN, I SEE MIKE go up and come down with college kids, a mom in pink gloves and a patterned pashmina, and a husband with a menacing beer gut and his triple-chinned wife. I’m skeptical as to whether either of the two make the 220-pound weight limit, but that’s Mike’s problem, not mine. I imagine standing at a two-mile-high doorway with one of them strapped to my front side. I can’t help wincing a little. Mike says that tandem jumps were initially developed in order to land key military personnel untrained in parachuting. Recreational tandem, however, originated with a man named Ted Strong. Strong’s newly designed two-person parachute transformed skydiving from a sport for the solo competitor to a weekend activity for the untrained civilian. His first tandem jump took place in the US in 1983 and the system was officially patented four years later. Throughout this time, one of CPI’s club members was a safety and training worker at the United States Parachute Association. In early 1984, he approached Mike and their friend Walt about testing the newly developed tandem equipment. Mike wasn’t so sure. Take up people attached? He’d never heard the term “tandem instructor” before. There were no standards yet, no jumpmasters to teach them. So, of course, Mike and Walt did the only thing that anyone in their shoes would have done: they tested the tandem system out on each other—two six-foot-something fellas snuggled together under an untested arrangement of ropes and nylon fabric. Ten practice jumps later, they were taking up the public.
Every particle in my body has erupted and for 35 incredible seconds, I lose it, screaming and hurtling, hurtling and screaming, 130-mile-perhour autumn air laughing and slapping at my face; my thoughts have ceased twitching, my heart has quit beating; every last surge of blood is gushing like a river after heavy rain into this scream, this mortifying, all-consuming, delirious exhale of every attempt at self-restraint. haaah… quiet.
That first decade or so, tandem was considered experimental. Instructors and manufacturers continually tweaked the system in response to poorly packed chutes and equipment failures. Every tandem passenger who came to CPI signed an experimental test jumper certificate (a.k.a. a waiver), stating that he or she understood that the drop zone was still testing the system. They came through word-of-mouth or after seeing exhibition jumps. You never wanted to push it like a Kmart Blue Light Special, Mike says. At the time, people tended to look at skydiving as a death wish, not a sport. He points out, however, that a parachute, just like a car, is only as dangerous as the person who’s using it. Unlike in the pioneering days, nearly all modern-day skydiving deaths are caused by human error, and almost exclusively during landing. Mike has witnessed the deaths of several jumpers at CPI, but only once did the fatalities involve a tandem jump. The week after it happened, back in the ’80s, the group of jumpmasters at CPI met and talked about quitting. It wasn’t long, though, before they were back in the air. Ever since CPI first asked him to be a tandem master, Mike has left competitive jumping on the back burner. Tandems, he soon realized, were just as fulfilling in their own way, and you still get the adrenaline. In addition, you offer something timeless, Mike says: you give people that would never be able to jump under normal circumstances the ability to fly. He’s taken up sons and daughters, moms and dads, paraplegics, amputees, and little 88-year-old ladies. “I get to live their differences, so it’s not like it’s repetition. They’re screaming, they’re yelling, they’re swearing—they’re personalities, so I get to live vicariously through them all day long.” Many years ago, a college student came to jump. He told Mike that in the moment that they landed, his life had changed. “Well everybody says that,” Mike replied. “Skydiving makes you more, you know, gregarious and vivacious about life.” “No, no—that’s not what I’m talking about,” the young man said. “I came out here thinking that skydiving was a death sport, and I’ve been trying to think of a way to commit suicide for a year. I see that now, there are things worth living for. I can do anything I want.” DURING THE WEEK, MIKE WORKS AT New England Fire and Security, a small business tucked among dismal warehouses in West Springfield, Massachusetts. He’s been an employee since 1996, though before that, he’s always done some form of electronics or communications. Mike lies here in wait for the thrill of the weekend, but he says that if he had to jump for a living, the excitement would evaporate. Mike takes me into his office, a modest room split into two cubicles. He points to a few freefall photos behind his desk that previous passengers have sent him. One is a cute brunette, another a dimply guy giving the cameraman the bird. He changes the photos on the wall now and then, especially if he’s been sent a new one.
With his nine-to-five workweek at New England Fire and a seven-to-seven (and sometimes longer) weekend schedule at CPI, I ask Mike if it’s hard not to have a single day to vegetate. “No. No, I’d go crazy,” he says. That’s what winter’s for—on weekends, he works on his house in Vermont and goes hunting for moose with his wooden bow and arrow, sometimes even kicks his feet up and watches John Wayne for an afternoon. Come March, he’s had enough lethargy and gets back to jumping. Certain weeks in the summer, between New England Fire and CPI, his workweek grazes 85 hours. Mike will retire from tandems the day his body is no longer up for supporting a stranger 10,000 feet in the air. When that happens, Mike has a cache of maybes: try wingsuiting, go back to competition, perhaps be the oldest guy at the World Championships to take a gold medal. “And how long will you keep jumping?” I ask him. “’Til I can’t.” “So that’s what, ’til like, 100 or something?” Mike glowers at me. “Don’t be nice.” I’m relieved seconds later by a momentary grin. THE MORNING OF MY JUMP, I CHECK IN at the tandems window at Manifest, where Walt’s daughter recognizes me and hands me a form and a clipboard. There is a lot of text, a lot of lines, and a lot of boxes. I sloppily sign and initial them all without reading a word, though I seem to spot “death” and “liability” a number of times. I jot down my dad as my emergency contact, which is somewhat funny since neither of my parents knows I’m jumping out of an airplane today. I’ll be the third in a rapid-fire 1-2-3 set, and already Mike’s eighth jump of the day. He gathers the three of us together and breezes over the basics for what must be his two-thousandth time: Hip-shoulder-snug. Walk like a turkey. Thumbs in harness, arch your back. When the chute opens, Mike tells us, everything will go blank. You go from an intense, wow, 130 miles per hour to “haaah… quiet”—his shoulders droop, his knees dip—his whole body sighs. “Ready? Okay cool.” Mike takes Jumper One over to loading. They go up, come down, and Mike rushes back over, holds out a black harness, and nudges me to step in. He leaves the straps a little loose in case I need to use the bathroom before we go up. “I’ll just do that in the air,” I tell him. “Why’d you think I chose a yellow suit?” A moment later, he’s back for Three, cinching up my harness before we start towards Spaceland. He rattles off a series of reminders, though he knows I won’t remember any of them. As I climb into the plane, the rush of the turbine throws my ponytail into frenzied black spirals. Once we’re all inside, someone slides the door closed, top-to-bottom like in a garage, and the plane takes off. I click my seat buckle into place and take a glance around. My ears pop a few times. I’m glad I’m wearing gloves; the air temperature is rapidly dropping, down to 35 degrees at jumping altitude.
The double thumbs-up I keep getting from the competitive jumpers farther down the bench is starting to feel a wee bit condescending. I cast them casual smiles—please, I do stuff like this all the time. I don’t notice my right leg is vibrating like an angry washing machine until a kind lady points it out to me. I clamp my hand over my knee to hold it still and stare in the other direction. Suddenly, Mike tells me to pivot and starts clipping us together. I lower my goggles. Two other pairs disappear, and then we’re waddling to the doorway. Plastic pinching my cheeks, fingers clutching my harness, I peer over the edge. A raw blast of air punches my jaw, but I’m here with Mike. His gray stubble just behind my shoulder, I feel calm. Mike says something, but I can’t hear, the metallic howl of the wind and turbine battering my ears. He repeats it. Lift my legs? I’m confused. He nudges the back of my legs and for a moment, I’m suspended from Mike like a 20-year-old baby strapped in a Snugli. Mike steps forward. His sneaker lands on air. EVERY PARTICLE IN MY BODY HAS ERUpted and for 35 incredible seconds, I lose it, screaming and hurtling, hurtling and screaming, 130-mile-per-hour autumn air laughing and slapping at my face; my thoughts have ceased twitching, my heart has quit beating; every last surge of blood is gushing like a river after heavy rain into this scream, this mortifying, all-consuming, delirious exhale of every attempt at self-restraint. haaah… quiet. HUNDREDS OF STRINGS UNRAVEL, swing taut; I’m tugged up like a limp yellow marionette. Empty veins quiver from the silence and pump back into motion. Mike hands me the parachute controls and says I can lift my goggles. Practically busted my left eardrum, he chides. I’m embarrassed by my theatrics, but he reminds me that in the middle of their first freefall, Marines scream like little girls, too. I wrap my hands around the toggles, feeling the thick, rough texture of possibility beneath my fingertips. I give one side a little tug. We sway slightly to the right. He lets me try a crank turn, and I pull down with my right arm as hard as I can, as though I’m trying to start a lawnmower to trim the clouds. We swirl upside down, sideways, backwards—I can’t tell what’s up and what’s down, I’m just whooping and asking to do it again. But the two of us can’t stay up here forever. I blink twice and the ground is coming at us, I’m lifting my legs, and we’re cruising across the grass on the seat of Mike’s pants. We slow to a stop. The chute flutters down around us. I lean back against Mike, grinning like a fool.
The Yale Herald (Sept. 27, 2013)
Legacy by design The first in the nation, Yale’s graphic design program remains at the forefront of the discipline by Caroline Sydney
mages from the September issue of Vogue hold court on the floor of the Graphic Design Atrium. High fashion models, handbags, and lipstick are cut out and propped up by cardboard backings. The magazine has become a pop-up book. Yuyeon Cho, ART ’14, a graduate graphic design student, sits among the sea of images, slowly disassembling the figures. She carefully peels the magazine cutouts from their backings, laying them flat in a pile beside her folded legs. Looking out onto the hundreds still assembled, she says to me, “Sorry, I might be doing this for a while.”
program second nationally, just behind that of the Rhode Island School of Design. Durin his tenure, Eisenman instituted a system of three-week-long workshops with guest tutors. For instance, Cho’s work is a product of one of these workshops, taught by Linda van Deursen that required students to incorporate some element from Vogue’s archives into their own personal project. These short-term workshops are one of the main course components of the graduate program. The school is a two-year program, though some students from non-design backgrounds choose to begin with an introductory year, bringing their total school-
AS AN UNDERGRADUATE, EISENMAN attended Dartmouth College, coming to Yale in 1951 to work at the Yale University Press and what was then called the Graphic Arts Program and is now the School of Art. That year, he taught Yale’s first graduate courses in graphic design, and formally established the program as it still exists. Until 1990, when he was replaced by Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, ART ’64, Eisenman served as the chair of the program, and moved the field away from the Madison Avenue approach of commercial design toward a more academic form of study. Tom Ockerse, ART ’65, a professor of
his field to others areas of study: to give the new discipline legitimacy, Eisenman was careful to place graphic design in a historical context. He inserted the work of the graphic designer into the historical continuum that spanned cave painting and the Guttenberg Bible. Nancy Skolos, ART ’79 and head of the department of graphic design at RISD remembers Eisenman’s comprehensive view of the design discipline. “The thing that really made an impression on me was just how broad his reach was in terms of graphic design. He had an almost photographic memory of the history of typography and printing, and he loved the Bienecke Rare Book Li-
“Graphic design was a rare term that only started to develop at Yale and started to separate itself from what was more generally called ‘commercial art.’” —Tom Ockerse ART ‘65, RISD professor of graphic design Cho’s project is a result of many meticulous hours spent with scissors and paper, an embodiment of the values championed by the founder of the Yale University School of Art graphic design progam, Alvin Eisenman, who died earlier this month at 92. In 1951, he developed the first graduate program in graphic design in the United States at Yale. Today, U.S. News and World Reports ranks Yale’s
The Yale Herald (Sept. 27, 2013)
ing to three years. A total of 42 graduate students enroll in a core curriculum, which includes additional electives in areas of interest and a final thesis project. The sense of community is central to the program as graduates and students refer to their collective experience in the first person plural, sdaying “we” instead of “I” or “me” when discussing graduate studies.
graphic design at RISD who established RISD’s graduate design program in 1976, described Yale as the birthplace of the discipline. “Graphic design was a rare term that only started to develop at Yale and started to separate itself from what was more generally called ‘commercial art’,” he said. Much of this had to do with Eisenman’s academic approach to connecting
brary,” Skolos said. To broaden his students’ perspectives, Eisenman integrated international perspectives into his curriculum, both by recruiting guest lecturers from abroad and sending faculty to European design hubs to train. In the 1960s, Eisenman sent Christopher Pullman, ART ’66, and Senior Critic in the graphic design program to Switzerland in order “to eavesdrop on the
program in Basel which was admired in this country,” Pullman said. This practice established a lasting tradition of international education as a means of introducing students to new visual vocabularies and styles. Eisenman’s colleagues, many of whom began as his students, describe his range of knowledge as encyclopedic. In the
field trip to the Computer Science department that Eisenman had organized. “We were all confused why he had brought us to this large noisy room with punch cards spitting out of this unknown machine that took up the entire room. ‘The future is here’ he remarked.” He was, of course, correct.
focus, requiring students to produce a singularly focused research project. Students now create a body of work that expresses their evolution as designers. “The basic question is, ‘How does Scott Langer make graphic design?’” Langer pondered. For contemporary graphic designers, part of developing a style is learning how to share and advertise work in the digital age. It’s a
“Design is really a way of looking at the world and using whatever media and medium to achieve that perspective.” —Caspar Lam, ART ’10 classroom, he emphasized a holistic approach to the design process, teaching students the A-to-Z of visual design technique. They attest to his focus on specifics, sharing that he would meticulously detail each step in translating a work of art from the wall of the YUAG to a print reproduction, or spend a semester having students only draw “R”s by hand. Graphic designer and educator Lawrence Wolfson, ART ’75, recalled another seemingly strange classroom activity of Eisenman’s: “We spent a Saturday making paper from carrots,” he said. “On orange paper.” Eisenman did not limit his students to physical media. In an email to the Herald, Jan Baker, ART ’79, and professor of graphic design at RISD remembered a
THE GRAPHIC DESIGN ATRIUM, WHERE all the graduate design students sit behind small desks, feels like a pressure cooker. Scott Langer, ART ’14, sits at his desk, beneath a sign which teases, saying “1 Minute Left.” Across the room, a sheet of paper posted beside the wall clock reads, “Fuck the Clock.” But rather than describing the atmosphere in terms of anxiety, Langer sees it as a space of productivity. “There’s a spirit of doing and making work,” he said. Specifically, making and doing work that helps students become distinct designers, he said. This period of growth manifests itself in each student’s final thesis, the model of which has somewhat shifted since Eisenman’s time. The original thesis had an academic
fact that pieces designed and exhibited in physical spaces eventually wind up on the Web. “A lot of our students right now have to grapple with the fact that what they do will be encountered first on a computer, or on a screen at least,” said Senior Critic Henk van Assen, ART ’93. Technology has also allowed designers to integrate dimensions like movement and time that are harder to communicate on paper into their work. Many of the current projects are “Media agnostic,” Langer said, meaning that assignments can now be more open-ended, such as exploring the virtues of one individual object. Digitization represents another change from Eisenman’s time, where prompts typically asked students to make a poster or a corporate logo. “Today, it’s about how you can
articulate ideas in the best medium possible,” Langer said. The Internet also facilitates entrepreneurship. Graduates now commonly start their own companies rather than joining well-established New York advertising firms. Many find the idea of aligning personal design practice with a large corporate identity unappealing. “There seems to be an interest in keeping it small-scale,” van Assen said. “Several of our students start small businesses with just two or three of them, and that is often based on collaborations that they already started here while they were students.” Caspar Lam, ART ’10, and YuJune Park, ART ’10, began their own design practice, Synoptic Office, postgraduation. Their website showcases work ranging from small, text-based projects to lifesize art installations. “For us,” Lam said, “design is really a way of looking at the world and using whatever media and medium to achieve that perspective.” Yale’s ability to adapt to modern techniques and ideas while maintaining a standard of excellence is what drew Lam to the program. “The work that was coming out of the program was very avant garde,” Lam said. “And [it] really represented some of the most interesting developments in graphic design today.” In 1951, Eisenman laid the foundation for what would serve as the model for graphic design in the United States and those core values have allowed the school to transition through the 20th and into the 21st century, shaping the field of graphic design along the way. —Graphic by Claire Thomas The Yale Herald (Sept. 27, 2013)
CULTURE Le naked picnic on Edgewood by Devon Geyelin YH Staff
here are a lot of great places to be naked, but a picnic is arguably one of the best. Reservations? Walk to the 32 Edgewood Gallery and I’ll have you convinced. I found myself thinking about the gallery a few weeks ago, on my way to exercise my undying affection for the Duke’s Men at a post-audition-concert party near Mamoun’s. So what that my fangirl-incrime and I were the only “non-doox” there? I have zero regrets because: 1. I had a great time and 2. The winding path from Park to Howe Street took me right by the elegant, lesser-known gallery and a sign outside advertising its new exhibition. It’s called “Lunch with Olympia,” and it showcases a collection of contemporary artists’ interpretations of Édouard Manet’s classics “Olympia” and “Le déjeuner sur l’herbe” (or, in English, “Le naked picnic”). The exhibition coincides with a conference sponsored by Yale’s History of Art and French departments celebrating the 150th anniversary of the two paintings, and is free to the public from now until Nov. 21. As the end to naked picnic season is steadily and sadly approaching, check it out before the window of opportunity begins to frost over. “Le déjeuner sur l’herbe” depicts two fully clothed men having lunch by a stream with a glowingly bare woman. Another woman, lightly dressed, bathes herself in the background. The men and nude sit amongst
The Yale Herald (Sept. 27, 2013)
a smattering of bread and fruit tumbling from their picnic basket, and the woman stares straight into the eyes of viewer, as if to say, “Bonjour, I’m naked. Quel est le problem?” “Olympia” features a naked woman reclining on a white bed (indoors, this time) while her black maid offers her a bouquet of flowers. Here, again, the nude is staring directly at the viewer. Her pose and accessories suggest her occupation as a prostitute. Like “Le déjeuner”, the painting sparked considerable shock and controversy in 1863 Paris. The exhibition at 32 Edgewood holds neither of these pieces, but does offer a series of works—photographs, drawings, paintings, and videos—that reimagine and address the scenes and issues raised in the two paintings, particularly, themes of race and gender relations. Some of the works shown are clearly related to Monet’s original pieces even for those who haven’t kept up with their art history readings (guilty): there are a few etchings, drawings, and paintings of adapted versions of the two scenes, as well as multi-race old Western version of the picnic, an oiled-up drag version of the picnic, a video of a woman reclining on a white bed, and some photos of young girls taking on the “Olympia” pose in modern settings. One standout is a series of 24 elegantly drawn images. Each contains a geometric representation of the four figures of “Le déjeuner,” (rectangu-
lar stick figure for the man; triangular for the woman) filled in with graphite to represent the various combinations of dress and undress. That said, I do have kind of a thing for minimal, mathematically-tinged line drawings, so go see for yourself! I was a little slower to make the connection in some of the less clearly derivative works. There’s one large sheet of warped brown paper, and an Italian Adidas ad of a male athlete getting his foot pumiced, the surface of the print dripped with something reminiscent of bodily fluid. But inspiration is as inspiration does, so who am I to judge? Towards the end of my visit, I found myself watching a silent video projected on one of the walls. A group of men in Thailand sit on the ground of a forest, looking at a reproduction of “Le dejeuner.” We see their subtitled conversation about the naked woman and her companions, which included refreshingly nonacademic responses: “Her breast is like an herb bag,” “I would have run away if it were me,” “The girl’s a floozy,” and the astute, “It may be more comfortable to be naked.” Word. But my favorite was probably the small painting that featured no one but a deserted picnic and a rumpled lawn chair cushion, forgotten by the side of a summery pool. The naked picnic had just ended, and the picnickers, it would seem, are on to item two. —graphic by Christine Mi YH Staff
Calhoun does happy Model behavior For some, fashion means picking out a Yale sweatshirt and smellchecking a pair of clean looking jeans. But there are a handful of Yale students for whom the word “beauty” connotes more than just strutting down Cross Campus. For them beauty is a profession. Yale is home to a small number of undergraduates who are currently working as models in the fashion industry. While this endeavor calls for an inconvenienced life spent largely on the Metro North—heading to New York for an audition callback and zooming back to hand in a paper—to a genetically blessed few, it’s worth the hassle. Camille Chambers, BR ‘15, is one such student. A native of the Gulf Coast, at 16, Chambers was scouted and has since continued to work with agents in North America and Europe. Given Yale’s proximity to New York, she has continued her career with Wilhelmina Models, but Factor Women in Chicago and Boom in Milan are also in her repertoire. “I never grew up saying I wanted to be a model,” Chambers told me. “It was more something that I fell into and thought was an exciting industry. I was meeting so many interesting, creative people and got to travel, so it just turned into something I became dedicated to.” And though it seems quite glamorous—Chambers took off all of last year to model in Italy—it hasn’t been easy. “Even though New York is close, it’s still an ordeal to get there and a lot of times I’m only going a fitting or casting that lasts twenty minutes and then turn around to come straight back,” she said. Though she credits her agency with being supportive of her decision to remain in school, her experiences in New Haven haven’t always gone smoothly. “It’s important to understand how last-minute things are in the modeling industry. Models are always cast at the last minute, and they don’t have their daily schedules until the night before. There were a couple of times last year where I would open my email at nine o’clock at night to a plane ticket leaving at six o’clock the next morning for a job, so you have to learn to just roll with it.” Chambers and her fellow beauties aren’t the first models to turn Yale’s hallowed halls into their catwalks. In 2007, Victoria Marshman, SY ‘09, famously appeared in cycle nine of America’s Next Top Model. On the show, she didn’t necessarily end up “on top”— she only lasted two episodes and her reported experiences didn’t seem too stellar. In an infamous “tell-all” interview with IvyGate, Marshman complained of being singled out as a “Yale girl” with few other dimensions to her character other than her interest in medieval history. While only a small number of students actively model, there is a larger group that once modeled, and sacrificed their charmed careers in pursuit of something more crucial: a college degree. For Patty Lu, ES ‘15, the thrill of a modeling career wasn’t worth the effort it demanded. “Modeling is very stressful. I don’t enjoy having to worry about what I’m eating or how my face looks,” she told me. Hailing from Seattle, Lu got in touch with agents in Portland, Ore. when she was a junior in high school. A few months later, she landed a photo shoot with Nike. When she came to Yale, the idea of starting a modeling career in New York was alluring. “Had I gone to Columbia, maybe I would have considered it more,” she reminisced. But there was, of course, too much to do. As a junior, Patty is pre-med and is already considering what kind of lab work she wants to do this summer. “I did modeling for fun and it wasn’t a huge time commitment. I could see that if I wanted to devote myself to modeling, I couldn’t do much else,” she admitted. “People stop going to school so that they can start modeling. I made the opposite choice.” Career models or not, Yale’s in-residence eye candy add something to the flavor of Yale. We too quickly assume that being at Yale makes you a particular kind of person. But, fellow undergraduate, take a look in the mirror, imagine the fine couture of Italy for just a moment, and repeat the mystic mantra of the Yale student: there are a million ways to overachieve. —Alexander Saeedy —graphic by Jin Ai Yap
In a brightly lit, wood-paneled room filled with comfortable Victorian furniture, 17 Yale undergraduates sit around a table of fresh fruit, doughnuts, and lemonade to learn how to lead a happier life. They’ve joined the Calhoun Happiness Project, the brainchild of Dr. Margarita Mooney, a Calhoun Fellow and visiting professor in the Sociology Department. The Project is focused on how to lead a more focused and happy life through what Mooney refers to as the three R’s: “Reading, resolving, and working on relationships.” The three R’s are meant to help members navigate their way to more fulfilled and flourishing existences. Reading a chapter or two each week from Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project, students come prepared to discuss its message of happiness and how it relates to their own lives. The project members have also each vowed to fulfill a few small daily tasks to improve their own lives, such as sleeping more, exercising, or keeping a daily journal of gratitude. The final R is for relationships, and every member is meant to think beyond their own personal happiness, and to try to make those around them just a bit more smiley. At this point you may be feeling a bit averse to yet another cloying book club à la Oprah, but it’s not as saccharine as it first appears. “This happiness is not about the momentary feeling, but the life goal and purpose… a telos” says Dr. Mooney. “I’d like to introduce people to the neo-Aristotelian view of society.” Mooney is emphatic that the goal of the Project is about looking at your life and being more aware of when you’re happy and how to get to that place. To her, the Oprah Book Club is a fad; this is a lifestyle. “People left my course last year and I think they were objectively more happy, not just more appreciative about happiness,” she explained. After teaching a sociology class on “The Happy Society” at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Dr. Mooney has come to Yale to share her academic and professional experience with Calhoun and with the wider Yale community. The Project meets every few weeks to discuss the book, remind themselves of their happiness commitment, and update each other on their progress to fulfillment. “I enjoy the chance to get to be more happy and slow down,” says Didem Kaya, CC ’16. It’s an intimate and calm affair; Mooney has done an excellent job of creating her own Lyceum here in New Haven. Whether or not the hyper-ambition of Yalies that Mooney points out will be complimented by this philosophical venture remains to be seen. “Achievement is part of happiness, but it certainly isn’t everything,” Mooney suggests. However, for the hopeful Hounies in attendance, there is a chance that the sessions might just bring a more lasting happiness than the monthly doughnuts and berries grant them. Mooney starts the session by asking, “How can we flourish?” With such a nebulous question, the results have yet to be determined, but if the first sessions are any testament to Mooney’s progress, Calhoun might just be a happier place come next fall. —Thomas Yabroff —graphic by Madeline Butler YH Staff
The Yale Herald (Sept. 27, 2013)
REVIEWS More buzz than bang by Jane Balkoski
year after the release of their first single, “The Mother We Share,” Chvrches has finally dropped their debut album The Bones of What You Believe. In the interim, the Scottish buzzband teased and intrigued us, generating enough hype to power a small car. They released a second single “Recover” in February and a third, “Gun,” in May. Some critics raved, comparing the trio to Charli XCX and M83. However, I had higher hopes for Chvrches, whose prior releases hinted at a darker and refreshingly aggressive approach to electropop. But their compulsive single-dropping ultimately makes The Bones of What You Believe disappointing, as Chvrches struggles to solidify their sound enough to sustain the interest generated by their earlier releases. Songs of resentment and regret make for the album’s strongest moments. In “We Sink” and “By the Throat,” Lauren Mayberry, the band’s frontwoman, isn’t content to mourn a broken heart and an empty bed. Instead, she warns that she’ll “be a thorn in your side / till you die,” and declares that “all that glitters / is never real.” Even better is album highlight “Lies,” in which Mayberry wonders if she can “tell you lies,” if she can “call you up / when [she feels] alone,” and promises to “sell you a future you don’t want,” while floating over a stuttering, threatening beat. The contrast between the darkness of her words and the flutter of her voice, the casualness of her delivery and the insistence of the production, is disconcerting but still, incredibly satisfying. Most of the time, this raw emotion is enough to make up for rhetorical weaknesses. In “Gun,” for example, the extended metaphor doesn’t always hold up—is Mayberry the weapon or is she holding the weapon—while the other lyrics are uninspired—she claims she’s “burned all your bridges” and “cut all your ties. ” Chvrches’ flaws are most apparent when they stray away from aggression towards more clichéd narratives. In “Night Sky,” Mayberry recycles tired imagery, calling herself “the fire in your eyes,” and her confessions of how she wants you “now and for all time,” get boring and muddled. Such songs sound flat in the excess of preexistent great lovelorn confessional pop.
The Yale Herald (Sept. 27, 2013)
In a musical landscape already so rife with cute frontwomen singing about their feelings to catchy melodies, Chvrches lack a firm place, despite the amount of internet attention they’ve garnered. The band doesn’t make a clear artistic decision to pursue the dissonant anger of a group like Crystal Castles, the mystical lyrcisim of Purity Ring, the sappy sadness of Taylor Swift, or the lighthearted energy of Ke$ha. At the same time, Chvrches exist closer to mainstream consciousness than any other buzzband in recent memory, without actually managing to break beyond the blogosphere and into the Top-40. This constrained success must be paralyzing: should they stay noncommittal with their sound until they hit upon the one that gets them airplay, or dig themselves into a niche and gain a dedicated fan base? But perhaps, any disappointment with the album, including my own, speaks to not just the quality of the music, but the values we have as listeners. There is a community for whom artists are defined by their singles, and to whom a couple decent hooks are enough to solidify loyalty; and there is a community that expects albums, where singles are only supposed to be teasers for a fully-realized sound or interesting concept, and where an artist’s talent is not legitimate until his or her album proves it. The Bones of What You Believe, which fails to live up to the promise of its singles, will not satisfy the latter, but has little opportunity to reach the former. That said, Chvrches may not need either of those communities; they already had an alarmingly large online following before this album, and if their success continues, then their genius was not in shaping their own sound, but in courting a crowd that values Buzzfeed more than Billboard or Pitchfork. The Bones of What You Believe does not function well as an album, but that does not rule out Chvrches as a band. Their real accomplishment will come if they prove that they don’t need a “Tik Tok” or a Shrines to stay relevant, and that buzz is not just a means but can be an end of its own.
Music: Icona Pop The breakthrough of Icona Pop’s shout-it-out anthem “I Love It” would, in other circumstances, result in a follow-up album filled with carbon copies of that hit. And while their US debut This Is…Icona Pop is chock-full of what the Swedish duo does best— caps-lock electropop— there’s a level of nuance that makes it one of the more enjoyable pop records this year. The album is an easy listen; it opens with a series of previously released songs, including “I Love It,” and more radio-friendly tunes like “All Night” and “We Got the World.” The sequence peaks at “Girlfriend,” a hands-inthe-air tribute to Caroline Hjelt’s and Aino Jawo’s friendship. Afterwards, Icona Pop dial down the tempos, while sustaining the same energy. “In the Stars” explodes with booming drums and sky-high synths, and the standout “Just Another Night” is a somber look at a lonely walk home. There are minor hiccups, most notably “Hold On,” whose lackluster melody makes it fall short of the bar set by the preceding tracks. But this moment is brief and doesn’t take away from the album as a whole. Brevity, actually, is one of the album’s best assets. True to the “pop” in their name, Icona Pop know the impact a quick burst of music (the album clocks in at just over 30 minutes) can provide. Each song is a sugar rush, exhilarating but ephemeral. Nothing captures the Icona Pop ethos that “I Love It” presented better than album closer “Then We Kiss.” A kazoo melody floats atop a crunchy rock track, as Icona Pop shout the title again and again. The kicker is in the last 20 seconds, when amidst the chaos they sing, “All I want to do is have a good time.” That message couldn’t be any clearer on this album. —Will Adams YH Staff
Movie: Prisoners Director Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners explores how an unlikely crisis can push the citizens of a God-fearing, suburban Pennsylvania town to evil. The Quebecoise director’s debut, with its multidimensional characters, haunting religious overtones, and gut-wrenching moments, keeps you silently captivated for the entire 153 minutes. The film follows Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman), a father who, in his desperate search for his infant daughter, decides to take matters into his own hands. Prisoners, like Taken and other Hollywood thrillers before it, traps its characters in a maze of moral dilemmas. But the film still manages to stand out with its smart script and gripping performances. Leading the kidnapping investigation is the solitary Detective Loki, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, and at the top of Loki’s list of suspects is an alcoholic Catholic priest. The priest’s fall from grace is only the first, as other characters around him are consumed by anguish, revenge, and a need for validation. First time screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski’s script expertly balances its more cerebral themes with a thrilling and winding plot. The conclusion of Prisoners leaves the audience desperate for closure, seeking answers to all of its questions. But this lingering effect of uncertainty is intentional; nothing in Prisoners escapes scrutiny and doubt, whether it is the binding faith of a priest or the innocent love of a father. To use the words of Keller Dover, you can “pray for the best” but Prisoners encourages you to “prepare for the worst.” —Melina Torres
Food: Ricky D’s Rib Shack The saying “context is everything” applies as well to barbecue as it does to just about anything else. Slabs of pork shoulder, ribs dripping with sauce, creamy coleslaw and the like are best enjoyed at a certain time and place, and with a certain mindset. In the case of Ricky D’s Rib Shack, the smoky newcomer to New Haven’s food truck community, that’s on an early autumn afternoon, listening to country music and with a pale ale, or maybe two. The 20 foot monster of a food truck, which proudly features a salivating cartoon pig and overblown images of charred, shiny ribs plastered on its side, parks on York Street, directly across the Davenport gate, and is manned by Ricky D himself. The truck is so large because Ricky D smokes his meats on an old school charcoal grill behind the parked vehicle for 16-18 hours before they’re deemed ready to serve. And of course, Ricky unapologetically confessed to being the culprit behind the mouth-watering, inescapable scent that floods the corner of York and Elm on Tuesday through Friday afternoons. I had the pleasure of experiencing an ideal Ricky D’s meal at a friend’s suite this past week, still close enough to the truck to smell the barbecue goodness wafting into the room. We shared a pulled pork sandwich ($7) with coleslaw ($2) and a chopped brisket sandwich ($8), and ate largely in silence. Bite after bite, we devoured generous chunks of tender meat and smoky char. By the end, we leaned back, wiped homemade barbecue sauce off of our chins, and savored the autumn campfire aftertaste. Thinking back, I could complain about how Ricky doesn’t make his own coleslaw, or how he could have used a tenderer cut of brisket. But while the sun’s still out, the beer’s cold, and the company’s good, it really doesn’t get better than Ricky D’s Rib Shack. —Lucas Sin YH Staff
Here’s what we’ve been up to What we’re abbreviating: anything that has the potential to end in “sch.” Like potential, which is now just potensch. You’ll start doing it evensch. Secrets are henceforth confidensch, and my crisis right now is very existensch. What we’re drinking: cold brew iced coffee from Blue State. You think you’re hot (cold?) shit with your green-straw-Starbucks-venti-unsweetened-roomfor-half-and-half million word order? Turns out the iced coffee you’ve been drinking is acidic, watery, and weak. Cold brew iced coffee is creamy and rich—but hurry fast, because cold drinks will be passe faster than you can say “cold brew iced coffee from Blue State.” What we’re avoiding: dairy. Never have I ever farted this infrequently. What we’re listening to: Cherub’s “Mom & Dad.” With my suitemates having a pseudo-philosophical discourse over it. Remixxx! What we’re taking: Pills on pills. 1000 mg of Vitamin C (to inhibit cortisol production), 4000 mg of flaxseed oil (metabolism-something-or-other), and a whole lot of mg of Ibuprofen because I’ve been having the worst headache recently. —Austin Bryniarski YH Staff
The Yale Herald (Sept. 20, 2013)
The Yale Herald
We mean business email@example.com
BULLBLOG BLACKLIST M. I can’t spell sober.
Chief Keef did not board the plane to Conn. for his Toad’s show
How can a word sound this pretentious when it means something so simple?
Getting in email fights with YDN editors because they won’t take you off of their panlists. TA
It’s too flat. Fuck it.
Peer pressure to update to iOS7. MetroNorth service disruptions ff
Please take me home tonight.
The word “juxtaposition” A-
Anyone who doesn’t believe in naps.
The first essay of the year.
You’re just cranky because you’re tired. Take a nap.
It is just a really really bad essay. Oy vey.
The Yale Herald (Sept., 27, 2013)