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tal kin de g to fen s din tra g o nge ur rs, ge sel ne lin rat g ion vir gi
bad sex // beej emily post- // emily posta clean, well-planted place // alice preminger
Editor- and Editrix-in-Chief Clayton Aldern Jennie Young Carr Managing Editor of Features Zoë Hoffman Managing Editor of Arts & Culture Alexa Trearchis Managing Editor of Lifestyle Rémy Robert Features Editor Kathy Nguyen Arts & Culture Editors Claire Luchette Ben Resnik Lifestyle Editor Cassie Packard Serif Sheriff Clara Beyer Large Plaid Asian Phil Lai Staff Writer Lily Goodspeed Staff Illustrators Marissa Ilardi Madeleine Denman Adela Wu Sheila Sitaram
young folks // zoë hoffman
5 arts & culture 6 arts & culture
the play’s the thing // caitlin kennedy
the artists down the street // jordan mainzer
food with ’tude // jane brendlinger virginity affinity // MM
in strangers we trust // mintaka angell post- it notes top ten
Thank you, Jim, Brown, and readership. We truly thank you for this opportunity. We could not be happier, nor more fortunate, to write this note for your ever-attentive eyes. Now, your question is excellent and relevant. It’s true: We are a nation of immigrants. Literally forty-eight percent of you believe that sixty percent of you once believed that. But let me answer your question with another question. When spring arrives, we say it has sprung. But what of October? Fellow Americans, October has birthed. But it didn’t birth alone. It took your grit and determination, and a lot of prenatal yoga. Here at the Post- office, we are waist-deep in pumpkin ale; or as our opponent calls it, “October’s afterbirth.” But we are not drunk, dearest readership. Rather, we are somberly sobering up on the promise of this great nation. If we are drunk on anything, it is our amber waves of gluten-free grain. Just like Pamela in Massachusetts, who sometimes eats bread. We shook her hand, folks. This week’s issue contains the fruits of our—of your—labor. We talked to strangers. We considered the Millennials. But were we not talking to one another and considering ourselves? Post- is not afraid to delve into the real issues at hand. Tonight, we InDesign greatness. Tonight, we help birth America.
jennie and clay
< naked photo
Claire is running the Chicago Marathon on Sunday. She was born to run. Unfortunately, she will not be naked in the race. Nonetheless, Postwishes her luck.
debatably and didactically,
Cover Adela Wu A Clean, Well-planted Place Sheila Sitaram Young Folks Madeleine Denman and Marissa Ilardi The Play’s the Thing Phil Lai The Artists down the Street Grace Sun Food with ’Tude Glenys Ong
Last week, the author of Qwerty was incorrectly identified. The true author of the piece was Tanya Singh. Post- regrets the error. Post-, additionally, will buy her a cookie.
emily postEMILY POSTHere’s to gifts that keep on giving, Beej Dear Beej, I just met a really cute grad student in my seminar on Postcolonial Birthing Methods. He’s 29, very attractive, and I just died when he made a comment last week about the concept of the vaginal space. I’m trying as hard as I can to impress him in section, but how do I get him to change his idea of me from silly undergrad to academic maven? Any help I can get, Want to be Under Grad Dear Under Grad, You could work this three ways. First of all— does he know you’re an undergrad? If not, he doesn’t really need to. If he does know, exude an aura of maturity. Wear some pumps and carry a purse. Carry around some photos of children that may or may not be your own. Casually work into conversation that there are “too many undergrads” at the GCB. Lastly, and this might be your best option, play the youth card to your advantage—preteen mini skirts, baby talk, what have you. Play it like you’re looking for a mentor. Every grad student loves a worshipper. Unless your class does a unit on postcolonial conception, I wouldn’t talk about class. Huzzah! Beej
sex toys + grad students
etiquette advice for the socially awkward and their victims
Dear Emily, I’m a month into a relationship with a good-looking guy who watches Downton Abbey with me, doesn’t overuse hair products, and lets me eat all of our supposedly shared desserts. I am constantly on the verge of blurting out “I love you,” but I’m not sure whether it’s too soon. Is there etiquette for this? I don’t want to freak him out! Sincerely, Hurriedly Appointing Specific Terms to Emotions Dear HASTE, Ah, young love. Emily suspects that a frequent reader or two is grumbling something that sounds awfully like, “I’m not sure a chilly WASP with a Hermès box full of discarded wedding bands is qualified to give romantic advice.” (The fruit of Emily’s womb has had a few choice remarks on this subject recently. To which Emily invariably responds, “Darling, this is not Sabrina. One doesn’t marry the help.”) Yes, it’s true that Emily is more apt to murmur a rapturous “I love you” to her full-length mink than to a human being. Who needs the arms of a man when wrapped in the plush embrace of vintage furs? Still, there’s quite a lot about those three words that can only be taught by experience and acrimonious divorces. In romance, as in lawn tennis, love means nothing. Now, now, dearest HASTE. Don’t get huffy. Your brain is awash with perfectly delightful chemicals, and it’s only natural for you to want to give this high a name. Why not “love”? Emily’s point is this: You do yourself a disservice when you think of love as a mystical, weighty emotion that must be contemplated ad nauseum. Perhaps it’s all just chemicals. Perhaps not. Regardless, it’s certain that your experience of love is entirely unlike that of your best friend or even that of this well-coiffed young man you’re seeing. There’s no universal definition for the emotion (though Emily has noticed an irritating tendency to make the attempt at one in the early stages of love affairs), so how much meaning can the word “love” truly have? Stop taking it all so bloody seriously!
Dear Beej, Do you have a recommendation on sex toys, of either the male or female variety? My cousins are fraternal twins, and I’m looking for gift ideas. Thanks, Le Cousin Dangereux. Dear Cuz, What a thoughtful gift idea. A sex toy is not only a highly personalized object that suggests you know your cousins well but also something that they will cherish for years to come. As for recommendations, I have a few favorites that make great gifts. Albeit, my taste in gadgets has often been referred to as “kinky,” “hardcore,” and “physically taxing.” Though most people are sexual wusses in my book, I understand that we all have different thresholds, so I’ve included in this list some edgy yet introductory pieces that will excite the inexperienced and the hardened sex addict alike. I highly recommend suction toys, since messing around with the vacuum cleaner can be a risky option. To tantalize both sexes, mini nipple suckers “add a surprisingly satisfying nip of suction to your tit teasing.” Another road less traveled is sensation play. The Foreplay Ice Glacial Stimulator, a “push pop of chilling ecstasy,” is an addition that will paradoxically heat things up in any bedroom. And for the hardcore in all of us, I’d recommend the Fuck Saw. It’s a dildo attached to an engine, and I rarely leave home without it. With the Fuck Saw, it’s not sex, it’s making love.
a clean, well-planted place
how ’bout them squash
ALICE PREMINGER contributing writer
If asked to describe the corner of Elmwood and Broad in the Southside of Providence, I wouldn’t immediately think “farmland.” Call me old fashioned, but the skeleton of a defunct warehouse, a rundown Cash for Gold shop, and a “Free Phone!” kiosk don’t scream fertile ground. Where were the eggplants I was promised? The potatoes? Hell, I would have settled for a wimpy stalk of decaying tomatoes. Had Google Maps led me astray? Had a kindly gentleman not noticed my abject disorientation and pointed me in the direction of City Farm (or “that little farm,” as he called it), I would still be wandering aimlessly around Providence’s Southside. This little farm is but one of 35 scattered throughout Providence, part of the Southside Community Land Trust’s (SCLT) Healthy Urban Gardening initiative. Founded by a group of college students in 1981, the program grew (har har) out of an effort to revitalize the then-struggling Southside community. The project aimed to provide the neighborhood, which lacked access to fresh produce and space in which to grow it, with opportunities to raise their own sustainably produced food. In doing so, the members of SCLT hoped to foster a greater sense of community amongst its residents. The group has since become an organization with some 25 staff members, partnered with the Providence mainstays like Blue State Coffee and Local 121 (just to name a few), and provided over 8,500 community members with the resources to maintain their own source of food. And for neighborhoods like the one tending to CF, in which local dining options are limited to McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts, and there is nary a park to be found, that’s a pretty big deal. So how exactly does this work? In the case of City Farm, it means taking what would otherwise be a vacant lot, destined for seizure by either bloodthirsty weeds or land developers, and transforming it into a working farm. The horticultural world inside the chain-linked fence (this is a city, after all) was reminiscent of an idyllic 17thcentury New England Homestead. The plot is rife with tangles of bushes speckled with peppers, blossoms of red kale plants, and heads of broccoli enshrouded within their umbrella-esque leaves. And those eggplants? Dangling from their leafy stalks like strange oblong Christmas ornaments. These specimens, along with a laundry list of others—ranging from the expected raspberries and mint leaves to the more exotic tomatillos and gooseberries—are tended to by a team of loving neighborhood residents, Southside Land Trust members, and gaggles of enthusiastic local elementary school children. Since all farm members are required to devote several days a month to the farm’s upkeep, the garden has become a mutual point of investment amongst neighbors, and is now becoming a forum in which community members form bonds with each other. Such a collaborative care process is the other aim of SCLT’s program: to nurture bonds among neighbors through a mutual connection to their potatoes and squash— not to mention a shared appreciation for fresh zucchini. For those already involved in the farmto-table movement, this “hyper-local” food sourcing is a natural next step towards long-term sustainability (and a break for those of us who find Farmstead’s prices a bit out of reach). And though City Farm is rather territorial about direct involvement with its upkeep—non-member participation is limited to harvest days and is on a volunteer-only basis—its tenders are all too happy to gush about their farm. Or, better yet, help you start your own community farm. The organization’s extensive Urban Agriculture Resource Center offers an abundance of tips for aspiring farmers—from how to pique interest amongst the neighbors, fund start-up costs (those plant beds don’t come cheap), and, of course, convert that weedy lot into a home fit for the finickiest of plants. For those seeking something more hands on, the farm sponsors weekly events, ranging from farm tours to chicken raising workshops (apparently Providence has a pretty happening chicken-keeping scene), all in the hope of educating and inspiring future urban farmers. And those magnificent zucchini? One of the auxiliary benefits of sowing such a multitude of crops is the hefty financial
benefit the neighborhood reaps from their harvest. While City Farm is a not-for-profit venture, one can easily find its products for purchase. The garden supplies several local vendors, such as downtown Providence’s White Electric Coffee Co., makes frequent appearances at several Providence farmers’ markets (most frequently at the biweekly market in Lippett Park), and sponsors a subscription-based monthly delivery program, with the proceeds of sales going directly to fund the farm’s maintenance. Not to mention, of course, that the farm is always open to curious passersby, meaning you can always visit those salubrious squash in person. For more information about City Farm, or the Southside Community Land Trust, check out http://www.southsideclt.org/. Illustration by Sheila Sitaram
spoiled but not rotten
ZOË HOFFMAN managing editor of feaures
In case you haven’t heard, we have a problem—and we’re it. I’m not just talking about we, the Brown University undergraduates, or even we, the college students of America. I’m talking about we, the millennials. Our vaguely defined generation is generally seen to lie between the ages of 18 and 34, though the significant difference between a high school senior and a 30-something could lead us to think that calling us all millennials is just a convenient way for our parents’ generation to lump all the “young folks” together. Their construction of the typical millennial seems to disregard a diversity of class, race, ethnicity, and other characteristics, instead imagining the whole generation as a troop of coddled, wealthy (and probably white) brats.n the past, a typical troublesome youth was characterized by a leather jacket, a motorcycle, and too much free time to wreak havoc on the neighborhood. Now, the signifiers are designer jeans, an iPad, and a liberal arts degree. Whatever the backstory is, we are—according to our parents, at least—entering the workforce, shaking it up, and turning it upside down. Unless you were without Internet, stuck under a rock, or otherwise occupied this past summer, there was no way to avoid the curiosity— and panic—regarding millennials. This group is said to be spoiled, whiny, and demanding (see: The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times, et al.). We are, as claimed by some media reports, in a strange middle ground between adolescence and adulthood. These same sources tend to characterize millennials as a group of people attempting to shirk their adult responsibilities for as long as possible. We enter the workforce as an overeducated mass, demanding certain conveniences that were not offered to the generations that preceded us. Millennials go into an office expecting flexible work hours, fun-filled environments, and the freedom to work on side projects, all the while demanding a salary that enables us to maintain the lifestyle we have grown accustomed to. We’re selfish, which is even more reprehensible in this tough economic time. But the lifestyle for which we strive is encouraged by the market. We are criticized for our consumerism, yet businesses need us to survive. Many recognize this and churn out advertising that is specifically tailored to us. Working at a large advertising agency this summer, I saw just how much importance is placed on targeting this newly discovered cash cow. Many of us have disposable income and if we don’t, we’re willing to splurge on things we don’t need. At the agency, there was a strong push towards getting into the mind of the millennial. Strategic planners and researchers approached the task with an anthropological mindset, assigning interns to conduct street interviews, send surveys to their friends, and report on pop culture trends in order to get a better read on this elusive idea of millennialism. The agency wanted to know what we do on the weekends, what we wear, what we buy, what blogs we read, what we eat .... I was amazed at how little some of the higher-ups in the office knew about the people that worked with them everyday as their assistants and admins. By the end of the summer, the agency had compiled a database’s worth of likes and dislikes—all in order to get into the heads of this burgeoning consumer group. Unlike many in the media, those conducting the research did not approach the millennial as a “problem” at all; instead, they realized the economic and creative potential in exploring millennial culture that cannot be described with blanket statements about privilege and high expectations. In fact, the millennials can be more accurately seen as a group that defies definition—a generation that is too diverse to lump under one category yet whose members can find similarities in the way they enter the adult world, with an innate knowledge of technology and a high spirit of entrepreneurship and individualism. But we get a bad rap. Yes, many of us are spoiled by our parents and therefore may think we “deserve” more, earlier, whereas older generations had to spend years in low-level positions before landing a fulfilling career. But I’d also like to point out that these supposedly unreasonable expectations of ours have been fueled by the cult of success we’ve grown up in. For Brown students specifically, our trajectory from elementary school to high school to college may appear to have been easy and even predetermined to our resume-readers. More often than not, we’ve been guided by an army of advisors along the way who have helped us on our path to success. But what a resume can’t show is the pressure to succeed that is pushed upon us constantly. We get it from our parents, our professors, our peers, and, for the most part, ourselves. We have internalized society’s idea of success: Graduate from a prestigious college, get a well-paying job in a world-class city, and breed successful children that will follow the same path. At the same time, we’re expected to be interesting, creative, and productive members of society in our free time. It’s a high order to fulfill, and it’s a relatively new one at that. In the current age of globalization, we are competing not only against our neighbors down the street but also against our neighbors across the world. Technology brings us closer together, but it also invites the anxiety that comes with the relentless drive to come up with the next big, innovative thing that will change our lives. The notion that we might need to invent something completely new in order to construct our own space in society and in the economy is not necessarily something our parents had to deal with. And it’s an ideal that everyone is striving for, causing a sort of traffic jam on the path to success (and far too many failed tech startups). Competing with our peers can create an atmosphere that is stifling, emotionally and intellectually. So, why shouldn’t we expect more of
our job and our workplace once we actually get into the real world? We have spent years and years being told how to define a successful adulthood, and I believe it’s time we have a say in what that success actually means to us— whether it be a healthier work-life balance or a chance to explore new definitions of the word “employee.” And according to some sources, our “demands” can actually create a more dynamic and productive working environment. Many offices have instituted changes that cater directly to a millennial way of working (teleconferencing into work, flexible work hours, time to work on side projects, etc.) that are also better for our older counterparts. Happier employees—who actually want to come into work—create an environment that is collaborative, productive, and enjoyable. Making adjustments for those who devote hours upon hours (often to completing menial tasks) is a small price to pay for better outputs. And to those older workers who slaved away to get to where they are: Know that it is not that we are working less, we’re just working differently. In the digital age, flexibility is key to the constant push toward innovation. So maybe we go on Facebook a bit too often at the office, and perhaps we shouldn’t Instagram our caffeine intake quite so frequently, but for the most part we still work hard and push ourselves (and our coworkers) to succeed. As a generation who has resided in a pressure cooker for most of our lives, we know what it takes to excel at something. And, yes, we’re entitled, maybe a little spoiled, but our expectations cannot simply be snubbed as a temper tantrum. Our contributions are important to an evolution of the workplace in which the office becomes not just a place where a disparate group of people come together for nine (or ten or fourteen) hours a day but instead an environment that fosters innovation. In the end, yes, our bosses might have to change their ways for us, but I swear—we’re a good return on investment. Illustrations by Madeleine Denman and Marissa Iliardi
arts & culture
the play’s the thing
CAITLIN KENNEDY contributing writer
I grew up playing poker backstage, in theater wings and green rooms, outfitted in embarrassing costumes, my stage makeup several shades too orange for my fair skin. Back then nothing fazed me. I stripped carelessly in co-ed dressing rooms, donning sweat-stained sequined leotards and ratty fake beards without a second thought. Theater has a habit of breaking down boundaries so that the ridiculous seems nothing but routine. Two weekends ago, when I spent time backstage with the cast of Production Workshop’s Ordet: The Word, I was transported back into the universe of my childhood: the universe of theater, where self-consciousness is checked at the door, everyone is a character, and those big personalities are more than your coworkers, more than your friends—they are your family. This time, however, I wasn’t part of the family. There’s something vaguely insidious about interrupting actors right before showtime. For an outsider, just setting foot in the dressing room can feel like trespassing. You haven’t invested the same time or effort in the play as the people surrounding you, and it feels presumptuous to waltz in at the last minute, invading their private, sacred, space. Rather than the mood being somber in the dressing room, casual conversations abound. Half-naked actors lounge as they crack jokes and share stories. But there is an underlying sense of urgency, of anticipation. The play’s the thing (the thing you’re not a part of ). An interloper, you can admire the tight-knit, supportive community of the dressing room, but you can’t quite understand it, and you certainly can’t join it—not in one afternoon, at least. But for an insider, backstage is a safe space, a realm where bizarre rhymes and funny stretches can be attempted without trepidation or embarrassment as actors prepare to make miracles onstage—sometimes literally. David Lee Dallas ’13, Ordet director and PW veteran, describes the challenge of putting on Ordet: “Could we make an audience of Brown students believe we had resurrected a woman from the dead?” A sprawling Danish saga, Ordet delves into the dense terrain of religious belief: What does it mean to have faith? Is it foolish to trust in miracles? The show ends with a miracle performed onstage: the resurrection of a character at her funeral. Watching Ordet’s final scene was one of the most haunting theatrical experiences I’ve had in years. I don’t believe in God or miracles, but for a second I let myself trust this one, even if only in the fictional context of the play. I’m not saying that Ordet changed me and I now believe in miracles. But it did show me that maybe, in another life with another set of life experiences, I might have the capacity to do so. It allowed me to discover new dimensions of myself, which, in my opinion, is what theater is all about for everyone involved—from actor to audience member. For the actors, those dimensions are discovered through eighthour rehearsals, challenging and sometimes uncomfortable acting exercises, and an unwavering commitment to the process leading to performance. This is a bonding experience that can’t be replicated. “You make best friends faster than in any other capacity I’ve experienced in my life,” Dallas explains. “You get to know each other so well and grow to trust each other so quickly.” According to Dallas, the Ordet actors had a leg up on other student casts when it came to bonding. Everyone arrived on campus 10 days before the semester began, and the actors devoted that time to the show. The night before the first rehearsal, Dallas threw a small party at his apartment for the cast members. While this initial meet-and-greet was semi-awkward, he admits, eight-daily rehearsals forged “instant friendships.” Two weeks later, when Dallas threw a second cast party, the vibe was “totally different.” So what happened in those two short weeks? What magic did Dallas invoke to create a cast out of his motley crew, a group of 10 acquaintances (if not strangers), some of whom were new to the Brown theater community? Basically, the actors were cooped up together for long periods of time, doing weird and awkward stuff. During morning rehearsals, Dallas and assistant director Ava Langford ’14 led improvisation and movement exercises, encouraging actors to loosen up on stage. Shedding embarrassment and fear, according to Dallas, is a necessary first step for any actor. “You need to cultivate that if you’re going to go out onstage,” he says. To rid Ordet actors of their inhibitions, Dallas used a movement exercise he first encountered as an actor in Trigger Hand at PW last semester. First, Dallas divided the cast into groups of two: Partner A and Partner B. He then instructed the As to perform a solo dance for the Bs, who observed them silently. Afterwards, the Bs performed the dance they just watched, mimicking their partners’ movement and expression. Instead of simply copying the steps, actors attempted to play the role of their partner as they would a character. Every physical quirk, from slumped shoulders to stumbling toes, was taken into account and performed. So, imagine: It’s the first day of rehearsal. You barely know anyone in the room, your partner included. He stares silently as you perform an interpretive dance, scrutinizing your every move. Then he presents you with a performance of yourself. “I was so petrified,” Dallas says, recalling the first time he had to do this. Now, however, he shares an apartment with his partner from the exercise. Awkward endeavors can lead to fast friendships. After all, the point of the exercise isn’t to create self-consciousness, but to overcome it. Actors tend to be the life of the party outside of the theater, Dallas claims, because they learn to squelch their insecurities. Thinking too much can de-
on the outside looking into ordet
stroy an actor’s natural physical instincts— and thus his performance. Watching the Ordet cast warm up before their second performance, I felt a sense of nostalgia for my seven-year-old self. On the one hand, it’s embarrassing to recall my unabashed enthusiasm and lack of self-awareness, how I hummed loudly every week in art class without pausing to consider whether Bette Midler show tunes might get on my classmates’ nerves. On the other hand, today I’d give almost anything to be seven and clueless and not to care. “HAAAA-HAAAA!” the actors shout, exhaling with abandon as they touch their toes, then roll up gradually to an upright
position, posture impeccable and vocals refreshed. “Now let’s do undulations,” Langford announces, “because they’re so lovely.” So the circle of actors sways softly from side to side, rising and falling gently in unison. Later, when they play Name Five, the cast claps and shouts, supporting each other with friendly, raucous cheers. I wonder how it is possible that the group had only met weeks ago, as strangers. But that’s how theater works at Brown, Dallas says, and maybe everywhere: “You feel like an outsider, until all of a sudden one day you feel like an insider.” Illustration by Phil Lai
arts & culture
the artists down the street
local arts flourish at 186 carpenter
JORDAN MAINZER contributing writer
On my walk to 186 Carpenter, I get lost multiple times, ultimately arriving at the residential part of Federal Hill. When I finally reach my destination, there appears to be a workshop happening in the storefront. I look around awkwardly, expecting whoever runs the place to take initiative and say something like, “Can I help you?” After stuttering three times at minimum, I state inquisitively, “Hi, I’m here for an interview with Jori.” “I think she’s in the back,” says one woman participating in the workshop, which turned out to be a community-supported agriculture pickup. In the back, I find three people working on computers. One of them, a woman, is talking to another woman standing in the doorway. I do my best to look somewhere in between the two of them and ask, “Jori?” “Yeah, I’m Jori.” It’s the one sitting at the desk, on her laptop. Nestled in between houses on Carpenter Street is 186 Carpenter, a new(ish) arts storefront and office space. Started by Jori Ketten ’02 and Andrew Oesch, who graduated from RISD in 2002, 186 Carpenter is an informal space for Providence-based and touring artists to exhibit and perform. In fact, almost everything about the space, from its atmosphere to its website (a Tumblr), is informal, DIY, and ad hoc. One day I’m interviewing them; the next I’m following them on twitter. They’ve yet to follow me, but I hope they do so soon. The two-year lease on 186 Carpenter started in February 2011, and Ketten and Oesch, two freelance arts educators without workspace at home, intended to use the back room as an office. They had plans to use the storefront but had no idea what it would look like. One thing led to another, and now they curate the storefront, whose walls are currently booked for exhibition through the end of the lease. “A city like Providence makes a project like this possible, both in terms of its living affordability and in terms of its size,” says Ketten. Unlike other arts collectives like AS220, 186 Carpenter has no agenda. Most of the events and classes there are free, and the cost of renting the space to hold a workshop is next to nothing. Ketten and Oesch never had and still don’t have specific plans for the space. “I’m sure [AS220’s Bert Crenca] couldn’t have imagined over 20 years ago that by now he’d basically be running downtown,” Ketten says. Yet, both founders are cautious not to take on too much. “Neither of us needed another side project,” says Oesch. “186 Carpenter is more like the back porch banjo player. It is a series of practices that bring us joy.” 186 Carpenter’s calendar, a Google calendar on the public Tumblr, not only lists upcoming events but also shows times for open hours to view whatever exhibition is currently on display. The current storefront exhibition is a series called Precious Objects, which includes a spoken word presentation, a panel discussion, and a community quilt project. Specifically, Precious Objects includes embroidered pillows and textile art from Julie Warchol and Maren Jensen. The show is up and running until this Saturday, October 6. After Precious Objects is Allison Pebworth’s Beautiful Possibility, “a traveling exhibition and research project that takes the prototype of the 19th century American traveling show as inspiration for engaging others about what it means to be American,” according to the exhibition’s website. Beautiful Possibility runs from October 15 to 29. While Oesch says that an artsy and music-oriented place like 186 Carpenter tends to attract “young, hipstery” people, the dog-friendly space does attract neighborhood dwellers who stroll by. Ketten and Oesch have made friends with the space’s neighbors and remained sensitive to noise issues because of its residential location. So, if they’re listening to a performer on YouTube and that artist seems particularly moshpit inducing, he or she is a no-go. 186 Carpenter’s informal philosophy stems from Ketten and Oesch’s background as arts educators, where they learned about the importance of social practices and interactions in facilitating meaningful connections to art. While the two come from different locales—Ketten hails from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Oesch from Bethesda, Maryland—they both have had similar experiences and hold the same arts education philosophies. In addition to being involved in an arts literacy project at Brown, Ketten’s time spent working in the Bronx and in England after college helped her gain experience and an appreciation for fostering literacy through the arts. Currently, Ketten is the media lab director at Community MusicWorks, where she teaches experimental music, video, and photography to kids learning cello, violin, and viola. Oesch, after studying furniture design at RISD, worked for many Providence arts education non-profit organizations started by Brown students and met Jori through a mutual friend. He currently teaches at the RISD Museum and at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Both experiences have changed his perspective in analyzing artistic objects. Oesch’s supportive colleagues from the RISD Museum come to 186 Carpenter’s shows. The space often hosts workshops that coincide with whatever exhibition is up at the time. For instance, artist Chelsea Culp covered an entire wall with charcoal and encouraged people to write and draw on the wall. It was a truly interactive, informal exhibit in a truly interactive, informal storefront. Even if it was not Ketten and Oesch’s intention with their own space, initiatives like 186 Carpenter are integral to Providence’s increasing emphasis on fostering arts education and creativity. Brown and RISD’s current fascination with, as Catalyst Magazine says, bridging “the gap between the sciences and the humanities through art and literature” is perhaps a reaction to the quality of arts exposure within Providence’s downtown and Federal Hill areas. Projects like Brown’s Creative Mind Initiative recognize the power in arts education to create better thinkers no matter what vocation one eventually pursues. A pop-up space such as 186 Carpenter is potentially even more powerful than any university initiative because of its accessibility. Arts storefronts will inevitably attract a certain type of person, but if an artistic space, whose events cost nothing or next to nothing, exists within a residential area, the prospect for exposure to arts education to those who may not normally be interested is great. Now, if only they’d hire me as their PR and social media coordinator …. Illustration by Grace Sun
food with ’tude
JANE BRENDLINGER food columnist
Nine of us sit around the back table at Sakura. We are crammed in that dark, secluded room like lepers, classified as a Large Party of Obnoxious Customers. It’s like the hostess took one look at us, a motley crew of hungry women with an array of Sierra Nevada six-packs, and put us on lockdown. In this remote location, our revelry is reduced to a dull roar, and the waiters can dodge our requests all night. Getting served at Sakura is like pulling teeth. Everything must be asked for, multiple times, with a 20-minute wait in between. Water is not a guarantee, so it’s best to savor your glass or rely on your BYO bottle of wine for refreshment. Utensils, menus, napkins and glasses—none are so necessary to the dining experience if you’re open-minded. Since our waiters rarely stop by to check on our table, we make every request by a march to the hostess desk. A half-hour struggle to find a corkscrew, a dire search for an additional bottle of Kikkoman. Sakura is perhaps the ultimate Questaurant. And yet, the undisguised hostility of Sakura’s staff does not deter us. We come for the mediocre sushi and the BYOB-ness, but there is something, too, within the experience. It’s as if the service (or lack thereof ) becomes a part of Sakura’s authenticity. Does the taste of sushi improve with each time I repeat my order? Is the wine so much sweeter
when the waiter is always right
once I’ve scoured the restaurant for a bottle opener? As a former waitress, I’m aware that working in a restaurant is a bit like playing The Sims. There’s a room full of people with mood indicators over their heads, and for every five minutes they’re left unattended, their colors shift from green to red. Get the order wrong, and they’ll wave their hands about and shout expletives in the form of pound signs. Around food, people are infantile. They’re picky, demanding, and they want things immediately, their way. The “customer is always right” ‘tude has produced clientele with the patience of spoiled children in Roald Dahl novels. Yet there are certain instances when difficulties dining out heighten our tension and anticipation. A few weeks ago I dragged my friends to brunch at Julian’s on Broadway—I’m a sucker for their home fries and homemade ketchup. As per usual, there was a 30-minute wait. “It’ll be worth it,” I told them, and as my stomach growled, I sincerely hoped I was right. Seeing the line out the door and the score of names ahead of us made the goal that much more desirable. We wanted what we could not have, and what everyone else wanted too, so we waited. Patiently, then impatiently. And when we sat down to eat, our built-up expectations were confirmed. Home fries hit my stomach, and
my blood sugar rose along with my spirits. Perhaps food service is a bit like sex. Sometimes we want to be ordered around, to take the orders instead of giving them. On a tamer level, this is the allure of the chef ’s tasting menu, food selected for you by someone who knows better. The kinkier side is exemplified by the Soup Nazi, the infamous Seinfeld soup master (make an order wrong and “No soup for you!”). There are those places where no matter how mean that one waiter is, even if the
maitre d’ makes snide remarks about your glasses, you keep on going for the food. At a sandwich place in my hometown, the host would lock the door when the restaurant was at capacity. You’d have to wait until someone left, then you could slide through the entry way and request a table. The sandwiches, though, were just that good—we were beating down locked doors to get to them. When a waiter’s wage is determined by the magnanimity of the patron, we’ve come to expect a certain level of service. We expect to be coddled, quickly served with a wink and a smile. And when that doesn’t happen, when a restaurant staff is perhaps more genuine than we’d like, we can throw a fit or we can take it. And maybe like it. Dining at Louie’s, another Questaurant, my friend and I sit outside. Mid-conversation, our waiter removes the ketchup from our table, silently. Moments later, he takes our plates without a word. His stony demeanor is uncomfortable, and I feel like I’m imposing. “Did you see his bacon band-aid?” I look for it when he brings the check. On his arm, out of place on the disgruntled figure. The food was greasy, the service was ornery at best, but the band-aid made my meal. Illustration by Glenys Ong
The world has a fetish, and Stephanie Meyer knows it. E. L. James knows it. Judd Apatow knows it, and Miley Cyrus used to know it. In fact, we’ve all been subjects of the fetish at one time or another. We all know what it is to be a virgin. In 2009, Jessica Valenti of the blog Feministing published a fabulous disquisition of the worldwide cult of virginity titled The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity Is Hurting Young Women. If you’re interested in the effects of abstinence-only sex education, hymenorrhaphies, “barely legal” porn, purity balls (and purity rings), and institutionalized victim-blaming on the sexuality of young people in America, then hightail it to the Sarah Doyle Women’s Center and check the book out. In this article, though, I’m interested in exploring the ways that the virginity fetish has changed and sustained in the time since The Purity Myth’s publication and in discussing what even constitutes a fetish. Since early 2009, three Twilight films have been released, and Fifty Shades of Grey has surpassed the Harry Potter series as the fastest-selling paperback in history. The heroines of both series are vapid, conventionally attractive young females with rampant sex drives and intact hymens. Bella Swan’s sexuality is literally self-destructive, while Ana Steele’s results in a kind of psychological hostage situation, implicating the protagonist in an ambiguously consensual BDSM relationship. Purity balls have gotten more popular, and websites for virginity auctions have skyrocketed. One such auction—for the virginity of 20-year-old Catarina Migliorini from Santa Catarina, Brazil—got Internet-famous last week when an Australian film crew released the trailer for its upcoming documentary about the website “Virgins Wanted.” The documentary will follow the auctioning-off of Catarina and another Russian male virgin, from their involvement with the website to their eventual sex (Catarina’s will take place mid-air in an airplane bathroom to circumvent prostitution laws) to their new, devirginized, but significantly wealthier lives. Catarina’s current high bidder is one Jack Miller, with $160,000. What’s crazy about Fifty Shades and “Virgins Wanted” is that they’re predicated on exactly the same ideal of sexuality, but the majority of America’s soccer moms view the first as titillating and innocuous and the second as repellent, offensive, and even morally bankrupt. Sure, there is a huge difference between reading something fictitious and watching something real, but the truth is
n. our cultural obsession with sexual inexperience
that both phenomena are hugely profitable businesses feeding on our culture’s love of virginity. The questions, “Why would Christian Grey choose a virgin as his BDSM partner?” and “Why would Jack Miller choose a virgin as his $160,000 lay?” can be answered in a word: power. Both men are more experienced and more wealthy, and (presumably) older, stronger, and larger than the women they’re “deflowering.” The sex act is the manifestation of all these superiorities and therefore involves a certain predictability, a performance of those familiar, inveterate gender roles in a confined, frictionless, and prearranged social space—literally, an airplane bathroom. We could say a lot of things about Elektra complexes and Jungian archetypes, invoke Judith Butler and the repressive hypothesis. But for now, you get the point. The difference is that one is mainstream and the other is not. One is a “romance novel” and the other is “prostitution.” So while young women can safely discuss Fifty Shades on the treadmill with their biffles, they couldn’t suggest with equal casualness auctioning themselves off online. So I have to ask: Does one constitute a fetish while the other does not? The OED defines a sexual fetish as “a form of sexual desire in which gratification is linked to an abnormal degree to a particular object, item of clothing, part of the body, etc.” The question becomes whether or not the cultural virginity affinity constitutes a fetish when, in fact, it seems more “normal” than “abnormal,” based on the 40 million copies of Fifty Shades sold. For that matter, does BDSM still qualify as fetishistic sexual behavior if that many people are interested in it? The virginity bidders, on the other hand, have been criticized as fetishists, perverts, and overall exploiters (all three of which seem apt descriptors). Generally, I’m not interested in taxonomizing desire or quibbling about sexual nomenclature. My attitude is basically that everyone should pursue pleasure and health, while staying vigilant with regard to consent, communication, and safety. I don’t care what you call it, as long as you like it. But I do think it is a valuable exercise to reexamine what we mean when we use words like “fetish,” to realize that maybe, by some definitions, the majority of us sexual humans have one. We may need to step back and consider whether or not our desires are contributing to a world of sexual health and inclusion, or one of exploitation and repression.
in strangers we trust
courtesy of the commons
MINTAKA ANGELL contributing writer
I like to fancy myself a bit of a hostel connoisseur these days. A friend and I slummed it across Europe this past summer and encountered a whole new world of cheap accommodation. This included the grungy, dilapidated campsite, the ohgod-don’t-touch-anything bunk beds, the inside of a train station—and, once in a while, the place that restores faith in humanity. I have but two requirements for a hostel to attain “gem” status: a bathroom that was cleaned sometime in the last decade and a revolving bookshelf. For anyone who has yet to encounter one, a revolving bookshelf is a small collection of books that is constantly ebbing and flowing along with the nomads passing through. The rules are simple: Take one book, leave one behind. I’ve found everything from Danielle Steele to James Joyce, Fifty Shades of Grey to Heart of Darkness. Regardless of your literature tastes, there’s something undeniably charming about those beaten, crinkled books, left for someone else to discover. Not once did I see anyone break that honor system, nor did I see any books damaged beyond repair. Instead, they conjured a distinct sense of camaraderie; Everyone placed their much-loved possessions into the hands of complete strangers and trusted that they would be used well. These fleeting interactions with an anonymous, nomadic community were remarkably similar to the transient experience of traveling. Only when you are in an unfamiliar place do you truly realize how much you depend on the mercy of those around you. The distinct lack of lockers in many of our hostels often led to us leaving our backpacks in the corner of the room and crossing our fingers that someone wouldn’t dig through our sweaty laundry to get to the good stuff. As it turned out, no one did. Call it unbridled cynicism, but we were shocked, particularly after we’d heard two billion horror stories about abductions and missing kidneys. Faced with a constant stream of media detailing the dangers of the world around us, we went to Europe bristling with aggression and an assortment of pocket knives. Needless to say, no one kidnapped us. Nor did anyone steal our things while we snored on numerous trains, or give us wrong directions, or, in fact, do anything to inconvenience us at all. I’ve informally termed this phenomenon the benevolent ambivalence of strangers. So much of traveling—of life, really—rests on the assumption and desperate hope that the people you encounter will treat you, if not with kindness, then at least with basic respect. This requires a certain amount of trust in the universe on your part. And frankly, it’s kind of terrifying to put that faith and the peripheral care of your well-being into the collective hands of humanity. Of course, this is with good reason— there’s not an insignificant amount of risk. My grandmother called me after the trip, and opened the conversation with “Did you see that movie Taken?” I had, actually, a few months before flying out to Europe, and while I always enjoy Liam Neeson being sexy and punching people in the face, the action film about abduction and sex trafficking definitely preoccupied some of my thoughts when I walked down the streets of Paris at night. Never have I been more glad to be wrong about people’s general disposition. While we did encounter people in wretched moods, for each unpleasant experience we had five people take time out of their day, with no real benefit to themselves, to help us.There was the hostel manager who sat down with a glass of wine for us after our 10-hour journey and indulged our questions for an hour about the high fashion scene in Milan. The couple who shared their makeshift Fantabased Sangria and hiked across the ItalianSlovenian border with us at midnight. The taxi driver who rescued us from a casino town at midnight and drove outside his legal zone for two hours to get us to Ljubljana safely, bantering about old Nickelodeon cartoons the whole way. We learn about the Golden Rule in Kindergarten, but it’s still both lovely and surprising to see it enacted in real life. Last week I was gearing up for a late-night shot of caffeine in Tealuxe when I realized that that I had, in typical humiliating fashion, forgotten my wallet. “I’m really sorry,” I told the girl behind the counter. “This is so embarrassing. I’ll just go.” “No problem, we all have days like that,” said the scruffy guy always hanging out in back. They pushed a mug of steaming deliciousness at me and smiled. “It’s on the house. Just pay it forward.” If you give people the chance to surprise and inspire you, they will.
music is film is
smiling along to Matt and Kim. wondering, "What kind of bird are you?" reading Tomatoland and never eating a winter tomato again. witnessing the wrath of Emily's Red Sharpie. fighting on Twitter with Plouf Plouf. writing drunk; editing drunk (thanks Hemingway!).
books is tv is
presidential debate alternatives (and who would win)
1. Gator wrastlin': Romney, for his years of peripheral interest in zoology 2. Thumb war: Obama, for those spindly yet tender thumbs 3. Wizard duel: Obama, for use of Obama kedavra 4. Freestyle rap battle: Emittnem: The Marshall Mittens LP 5. Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race: Romney, for strapping dog team to roof
of car and driving
Ben is seeing Regina Spektor on Friday at the Vet Rémy is going to Vermont to make apple pie Clay and Cassie are going to Downsville, NY with Moss Adam America; friend him on Facebook, ladiezz Alexa is going to Penn State Homecoming Claire is running the Chicago Marathon on Sunday
6. Competitive displays of flamboyant plumage: Romney, courtesy of his
shapely coif, softly glowing tan, and high-achieving makeup team
7. Pokémon card match: Obama, for borrowing Clay's 1998 winning deck 8. Thoughtful and honest discussion of the issues: lulz, n/a 9. Wet T-shirt contest: Have you seen Obama's pecs? 10. SciLi Challenge: Obama. Mitt got distracted by the 13th floor . . ladiezz
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