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the college hill inside:

Brown buyouts | 4
Foto Fiction | 9
independent Cigarettes | 11
Sondheim | 14
the brown/r i s d w e e k ly | M a r c h 2 5 , 2 0 1 0 | Vo l um e X X i s s u e vII

“No, I know who Margaret Thatcher is, but I really don’t see the
resemblance. Maybe if you’d gotten a parakeet?” -pg. 9
table o f c o n t e n t s f rom t h e editors
This might be giving it too much credit, but Rhode With the landmark bill passed and signed this week,
news Island is best known for being the smallest and lowest-lying a projected 140,000 uninsured Rhode Islanders can be
state. So take pride in its storied populist tradition, which more optimistic about getting medical help than the
2 Week in Rev iew has long emphasized individual liberties over stifling big state’s 73,000 unemployed can about getting jobs. In the
Quick and dirty government. Roger Williams founded Providence on the immediate future, the federal government will provide
MC, ES, BI-B, AZFG principle. Later, Rhode Island was the last colony to ratify tax credits for small businesses, which will allow them to
the Constitution. And in one of America’s seminal suffrage provide health insurance to more employees. But by 2014,
3 sorry! battles, Thomas Dorr tried to reform the state’s constitution Rhode Island will be fronting half the cost—between $100
Forgive them their sins by mandating that all men be granted voting rights, regard- and $150 million annually—of getting the uninsured on
News editors less of property qualifications. Medicaid, and it may have to provide subsidies for those
Since then, Slater Mill, Hasbro Toys, and Pauly D have who are ineligible. A Feburary study led by Lt. Governor
cemented Rhode Island’s credo of unfettered entrepre- Elizabeth Roberts estimated that if every Rhode Islander
metro neurialism, which, at the expense of the state, has been were insured, they would incur an additional $123 million
Governor Donald Carcieri’s seven-year M.O. Populism for per year in spending to find better and more frequent care.
4 Brown sells out Carcieri and so many other Reagan-molded Republicans Engraved on the Internal Revenue Service building in
Employees bought out or laid off means irresponsible deregulation instead of basic rights. Washington is the Oliver Wendell Holmes quote: “Taxes
Chris Suh When Carcieri took the oath of office in 2003, RI are what we pay for a Civilized Society.” Never mind the
unemployment stood at 5.3 percent, a point below the IRS jihadist who lived free or died last month. America
5 Visionary & Vitreous national average. Today, at 12.9 percent, it’s the third- and Rhode Island are moving forward, misappropriated
Empty storefronts made public art highest in the country, three points above the national ‘birthright’ be damned. US Representative Jim Langevin,
Katie Lindstedt average. Tuesday at the Capitol, Carcieri gave his final State who is paralyzed from the waist down, put aside his pro-
of the State Address, and with a straight face called for tax choice reservations to vote for health care reform. His fellow
7 Brainstorm cuts, a jobs bill, and a reduction in the state’s $400 million congressman Patrick Kennedy spoke with passion about
Weatherization funds go unspent budget deficit. finally realizing his father’s dream.
Alexandra Corriga “We need to reclaim our birthright as a hotbed for busi- The cause endures, the hope still lives, and taxes will stay
ness revolution,” Carcieri said. “Just as it did over a century high. Sorry, but that’s what we get for calling our state drink
8 science educ ation ago when Rhode Island—Rhode Island—had the highest Autocrat.
Blast or bust? per capita wealth of any state, our economy once again will —SvZ-W
Nupur Shridhar rise on the tide of an entrepreneurial revolution.”

E p h em e r a AS IF YOU CARE

9 Text + Image I was a little disappointed at the results of the el-

An inspired exchange ephant polo championships.
John Fisher & fans Held for the first time at the Karnali Jungle Lodge
in Nepal, I was quietly cheering for Anantara Thailand
and their number one striker, Sangjay Choegyal.
opinions But after beating the very popular all women’s
team, the Spice Girls, in the semi-final, Choegyal had
11 cigs r 4 kids to return to Thailand on urgent business. That opened
Silly legislators the door for Nepal’s National Parks team to beat An-
Eli Schmitt antara, 7-4, and take home the World Cup in front of
the hometown crowd.
But all was not lost. Before Sangjay left, he gave me
arts his shirt for good luck. It didn’t help his team, but I
think you’ve just scored big.
12 sweet nothings Elephant Polo Shirt (No. 2640). Made of a soft
Talk and The Bachelor 9 oz. cotton pique with contrast color side insets,
Hannah Sheldon-Dean contrast trim fabric at front placket, neck band and
interior back yoke.
13 visions of joanna Even the slits are accented. Real shell buttons.
Joanna Newsom in Cambridge Exactly what you’d expect to find at an elephant polo
Katie Lindstedt match.
megaporn dev ices
Missing Link
Raphaela Lipinsky

14 he felt pretty g e t i n touch

Report from Sondheim gala
Matt Weinstock
15 think about life
Twitter: @maudelajoie
Talk about life on tour
Eli Schmitt
The College Hill Independent
PO Box 1930
Brown University
Providence RI 02912
16 nc aa hits pvd
Notes from the Dunk s taff
Emmett Fitzgerald
Managing Editors: Erin Schikowski, Mega Porn Star: Raphaela Lipinsky
Kat Stoeffel, Alex Verdolini Cover Editor: Emily Martin
fashion News: Marisa Calleja, Beatrice Igne- Illustrations: Samantha Ballardini, Drew Foster, Becca
Bianchi, Marguerite Preston Levinson, Emily Martin, Robert Sandler
17 Fashion week bests Metro: Rachel Levenson, Katie Lindstedt, Design: Robin Davis, Liat Werber, Yue Pang,
Hint: not the clothes Jesse Strecker, George Warner Natalie Uduwela, Joanna Zhang
Sue Ding Opinions: Jordan Carter, Eli Schmitt Web: Daniela Postigo, Adam Zethraeus
Features: Alexandra Corrigan, Alice Hines, Katie New Media: Kate Welsh
Jennings, Hannah Sheldon-Dean, Laura Tsunoda Senior Editors: Nick Greene, Simone Landon,
literary Arts: Ryan Wong, Erik Font Margo Irvin, Miguel Morales, Emily Segal
Literary: Kaela Myers, Rachel Sanders Staff Writers: Malcolm Burnley, Emily
Science: Sam Dean, Nupur Shridhar Gogolak, Eran Hornick, Corrie Tan
18 Benevolence
Sports: Simon van Zuylen-Wood Staff Illustrators: Paola Eisner, Jessica Daly,
A play Amanda Greenberg, Isabel Khoo
Food: Nick Werle
Max Posner X Page: Gillian Brassil Cover: Pook Panyarachun
List: Lola Bates-Campbell, Margo Irvin MVP: Joanna Zhang

the college hill independent M a r c h 25, 2010

week in reView

b y M a r i s a c a l l e j a , a a r o n g a n s , e r i n s c h i ko w s k i , a n d b e a t r i c e i g n e - b i a n c h i
i l l u s t r at i o n b y b e c c a l e V i n s o n

s e X s o lo U d
it ’s illegal
Last week, authorities forced 49 year-old Caroline Cartwright
back into a bail hostel—a half-way house for criminals in
England and Wales—in an attempt to halt her infamously
loud romp sessions.
Neighbors in Washington, Tyne and Wear, UK have long
whined about the incessant and “unnatural” screams, moans,
and bed-banging coming from the Cartwrights’ home. The
coital hubbub, they say, is loud enough to drown out televi-
sion sets, keep even partially-deaf neighbors awake, and irk
mothers walking children to school.
Instead of high-fives all around, Mrs. Cartwright received
a four-year Asbo (Anti-Social Behavior Order) in 2009. She
broke it only three days later. Then in January 2010, after
having spent eight months in a Sunderland hostel, Cart-
wright narrowly escaped a jail sentence. For evidence, the
Sunderland City Council had installed recording equipment
in a neighbor’s apartment, measuring Mrs. Cartwright’s love-
racket at an impressive 47 decibels. She told,
“I did not understand why people asked me to be quiet
because to me it is normal. I didn’t understand where they
were coming from.” She also invoked Article 8 of the Human
Rights Act, claiming a right to privacy in her own home. The
judge gave Cartwright eight weeks in prison, suspended for
12 months.
Unsurprisingly, the eight months’ separation prior to
January’s trial didn’t harden any hearts (quite the contrary).
Even moving the bed into the downstairs dining room wasn’t
enough. Now, after their brief reunion, Cartwright’s been
separated from her husband once again and thrown back
in a hostel.
But really, UK, why all the knickers in a twist? Embrace it.
That knocking, slapping, shouting, and howling are more a
cause for celebration than jail-time. Who wouldn’t want that
kind of love life after 25 years of marriage, anyway. Let ’em
“ B o n e B r ot h e r W e l - make whoopee to make up for the rest of you.
coMe yoU!!” —ES
From our makeshift shack in the middle of Tian’anmen—
At 3:00 AM Tuesday morning in the People’s Republic of
Purloined Civil Liberties, Internet sultanate Google made its
s U p e r c a l i F r ag i l i s - long-dreaded departure from The Mainland, leaving a nation
of weepy and defiant Chinese netizens in its wake. 
t i c - e X p e c t - to - Google’s retreat to relatively free (though still China- n o M a n’ s o n a n
controlled) Hong Kong came more than two months after
c h e at - a d o c i o U s  the California-based company went toe-to-toe with the Movie theater–style masturbating for cash-strapped Belgians
Chinese government over hacking attacks originating from may now be a treat rather than a typical weeknight. Last
So just a spoonful of sugar makes… you into an incorrigible government-controlled colleges. They were aimed at foreign Thursday, the European Court of Justice ruled that Erotic
womanizer? journalists and human rights groups. Center, a sex shop that boasts coin-operated movie cubicles,
That’s what a British psychiatrist is arguing in his new On China’s Twitter-like underground social media sites, is not an actual cinema.
book. Dennis Friedman wrote in The Unsolicited Gift: Why microbloggers posted messages including a “Welcome Therefore, it does not qualify for the reduced sales tax rate
We Do What We Do that boys who grew up with a nanny Google” song, in which the authors demand that “Everyone of six percent. Establishments that qualify for the reduced
will get used to the idea that a woman outside of his family sing together!” or, according to Google Translate, “Bone rate must be “available to the public on prior payment of an
could satisfy all of his needs.  Brother welcome you, for your epoch-making/ Freedom, admission fee giving all those who pay it the right collectively
The 85 year-old shrink told The Daily Telegraph, that as a the search is full of vitality!”  (“Bone brother” is a Chinese to enjoy the cultural and entertainment services.” The store
result of having a nanny, a young boy “grows up with the idea homophone for Google.) Google, apparently deaf to the and “cinema” owner argued that his Bruges-based business is
that although he will one day go through all the social and impassioned lyrical summons, posted a banner on its new like your run of the mill movie theatre; it lets patrons pay to
sexual formalities of marriage, he will have at the back of his Hong Kong-based webpage declaring, “Welcome to Google please themselves, that is to say “watch,” one or more porno-
mind the notion of this other woman, who not only knows, China’s new home,” firmly marking its exodus. graphic features, that is to say “movies.”
but caters for, all his needs.” Google claims this latest move is in line with its motto In an age where privacy is dwindling, the fight for sub-
Dispelling the notion that having a nanny is all flying “Don’t be evil.” But an anonymous Chinese Internet user sidized solo sessions is admirable. Unfortunately for both
kites, kooky accents, and letting mom have a career [ha!], who asked to be called Cathy saw things differently: “I think the shop and its theatre goers, the standard tax levied on the
Friedman stresses that it really is a more dangerous social set- that Google is just a tool of the US government,” she said. “It sexy cinematic experience is now a whopping 21 percent.
up that previously imagined. If you don’t want your son to doesn’t have the right to make these choices itself.”  China, Even more upsetting for Erotic Center, the store’s owner
spend the rest of his life looking for a little something on the ladies and gentlemen. must compensate Belgian tax authorities for the evaded
side with someone who looks like Scarlett Johansson in The payments (about $68,000) plus corresponding fines. Is the
Nanny Diaries, moms should stay home during the crucial —AZFG personal cubicle worth the increase? Perhaps knocking down
first year, Friedman says. all the walls to create a “collective” space where all can reap
Not to be outdone—or, you know, sexist—Friedman also the “entertainment services” could qualify for the reduced
wrote that baby girls who do not see their mothers enough as rate. For the time being, cubicle goers on a budget may be
infants will be forever marked with a “vacuum of need” that better off dimming their bedroom lights and streaming one
they will try to fill with drugs, sex, and money. or more movies—no coins required—from their laptops. Or
It’s enough to make you think twice about letting cheery continue to support their local porno theatre for all the good
Brits with flying umbrellas and bottomless carpetbags into times.
your home.

M a r c h 25, 2010 t h e i n dy. o r g

ato n e m e n t | 3

b y M a r i s a C a l l e j a , B e at r i c e I g n e - B i a n c h i ,
M a r g u e r i t e P r e s to n

i l l u s t r at i o n b y r o b e r t s a n d l e r

T he Catholic Church is in the midst of a scandal. onstrated his mastery. He covers all the bases of the classic
Priests have been messing around with kids—not apology, from the generically heartfelt remorse: “You have
just once or twice, not just here and there, but suffered grievously and I am truly sorry. I know that noth-
everywhere and for a long time. In the past year, people ing can undo the wrong you have endured” to the reminder
from all over the world have come forward with accusa- to keep things in perspective: “It is in the communion of
tions of sexual abuse that date as far back as the ’70s. Up the Church that we encounter the person of Jesus Christ,
until recently, priests and bishops have done their best to who was himself a victim of injustice and sin. Like you, he
cover things up, smooth things over and maintain their still bears the wounds of his own unjust suffering.” He also
holy image. The Pope himself, in fact, while he was still a supplied some noncommittal solutions (or “concrete initia-
Cardinal, was a major player in these cover-ups in Germany, tives,” according to him): “I ask you,” he wrote, “to offer
dealing with accusations by simply reassigning the offending up your fasting, your prayer, your reading of Scripture and
priests to different cities. The church, after all, had a reputa- your works of mercy in order to obtain the grace of heal-
tion to uphold. But just in 2010, 300 people have made ing and renewal for the Church in Ireland.” And finally,
allegations of sexual abuse against priests in Germany, and of course, there is what no good apology letter should be
another 200 in the Netherlands, as well as countless others without: the part where you describe how what you did re-
everywhere from Austria to the US. On top of that, the Irish ally wasn’t that bad, given the circumstances. Explaining the
filed two reports last year of investigations that documented decades of cover-ups of sexual abuse, Pope Benedict wrote:
widespread and longstanding abuse within the Catholic “[T]here was a well-intentioned but misguided tendency to
Church. With more and more victims breaking their silence, avoid penal approaches to canonically irregular situations.”
the Catholic Church has had to act. So last Saturday Pope     With the proper word choice and sufficient groveling, the
Benedict XVI did what we all learn in elementary school is successful letter of apology is the ultimate get-out-of-jail-free
second only to please and thank you: he said “I’m sorry.” card. We all learned that in elementary school too: if you
    This particular apology was addressed specifically to the Brady was present at a meeting where child victims signed say you’re sorry, they pretty much have to accept it. As long
Catholic Church of Ireland, in response to those reports of vows of silence about their abuse by a priest. Forget repara- as you say it like you mean it. So, to take a page out of the
the Irish government and to new scandal: the revelation that tions, forget punishment, forget concrete measures. We’re Pope’s book (or seven-page letter as the case may be), here
the current head of the Irish Catholic church, Cardinal Sean talking about a good old-fashioned formal letter of apology. are a few more apologies that could have (should have) hap-
It is an art that is all but lost, but the Pope has clearly dem- pened this week. Now see, don’t you all feel so much better?

Dear Sandra Bullock, Dear sei whales both deceased and living, 
I've apologized already, but I'd like to stress how I'm All of us at Hump Restaurant in Santa Monica ex-
sorry I am that I cheated on you with a suspected tend our apologies to the sei whales who endured our
white supremacist who claims the “WP” tatooed on poaching, and those who are living and witnessed the
her legs stands for “wet pussy,” not “white power.” I'm murderous acts. Sorry. But, you know how Los Ange-
sorry that aforementioned suspected white suprema- les works. We needed to prepare you and your brethren
cist waited to tell the media until after you won an as sashimi in order to keep our business thriving (lots
Oscar for that movie you made that cured racism.  of sushi restaurants in SoCal). Lucky for the rest of
Your Vanilla Gorilla (or is that what she called me?), Dear Representative Stupak, you, team morality—the women of the animal-loving
Jesse James I’m sorry I interrupted you the other night during the documentary The Cove—stepped in, and now you can
debate over the health care reform bill (did that actu- all live—the few of you left—as a beloved endangered
ally pass? remind me later). I just want you to know species. At least someone is on your side. 
that when I shouted BABY KILLER at you, I wasn’t Deepest sympathies, 
talking about you in particular. I would never call you The establishment formerly known as Hump Res-
personally a BABY KILLER. I know you haven’t physi- taurant Santa Monica, CA
Dear Justin Bieber, cally killed any babies since you are not a practicing
We would like to extend our sincere apologies for MD. It’s just that I really thought we were on the same PS: Sorry to all you horses too. Apparently it's not legal
bumping you off Twitter's top trending topic spot after page. You gave me hope that some Democrats really to serve your flesh either. But no one made a docu-
passing our landmark healthcare reform legislation. We do care about the unborn/the future of the Republican mentary about it, so. If it makes you feel better, we
understand that it coincided with your album coming party. So you’ll understand that I was disappointed. charged the same thing for you and the whales. Know-
out. We speak for all Americans when we say that the But in the heat of the moment…well, just talk to Joe ing your flesh is worth 85 bucks a serving has gotta be
United States does not bare ill will towards baby-faced Wilson. He understands what I mean. worth something, right?
Canadian pop stars or the lesbian-look-alike blogs they Sincerely,
spawn. Rep. Randy Neugebauer, Texas
Best wishes,
The Congress of the United States P.S.: to all the unborn babies, sorry I scared you. Randy
isn't going to get inside your fetus and murder you. I
don't think he's a real BABY KILLER. But watch out Dear Gabby Sidibe,
for those liberals. BABY KILLERS.  I didn't think I was being insensitive when I called
you «morbidly obese» and said that it will affect your
career, but I now see my error. I failed to acknowledge
Dear America, that you are an Academy Award-nominated actress
I'm sorry I didn't check to see if the microphones were with an upcoming stint on Laura Linney's new HBO
on before I whispered to Barack that the healthcare show, and I make exercise videos in my own home for
insurance reform bill is «a big fucking deal.» But just Youtube. 
so you know, it is. My regrets,
Yours, Susan Powter, 90's weight loss guru
Joe Biden

the college hill independent m a r c h 25, 2010

metro | 4

B r ow n U n i v e r s i t y S ta ff G r a p p l e w i t h E a r ly R e t i r e m e n t O p t i o n
By Chris Suh

E arly in the morning of November 4, 2009, all Brown Two other “buyouts” joined Maud in an interview. “You’re an employee was hired before 2001, she can contribute two
University employees on the staff listserv received an rich for a little, then you’re poor for the rest,” added Estelle, percent of her gross income toward the plan so that Brown
email from Beppie Huidekoper, the Executive Vice a Brown employee of fifteen years. Erin, who has worked would contribute 10 percent until she turns 55, then 12
President for Finance and Administration. It began, “I am for almost twenty years, grinned at Estelle’s comment, then percent till she retires.
pleased to announce that Brown will offer a voluntary retire- exclaimed, “We need a sugar daddy!” “I have a sugar son,” Jenny said that she was pleased with the incentive, but
ment incentive for eligible staff members.” The next week, Estelle responded. This summer, she will be moving into his she also confessed, “There is elation on one side [but it is]
some 250 staff members went home to find large envelopes house. The move, however, is bittersweet: “I’m gonna move bittersweet on the other.” She explained, “The point of the
waiting for them. They had until December 23 to sign and in with my son, pay him half of what I pay now, and that’ll buyout contract is that you sign away your right to work at
mail back the retirement contract, though if they sent it help him because he’s been out of work for a year.” Brown ever again, not even as an outside contractor.” Jenny
within seven weeks, they were given two more to change would have worked three more years had the incentive not
their minds. Should I S tay or Shoudl I go been offered, but the contract states that recipients of the
139 staff members, over 50 percent of those eligible, Why take the buyout? After all, the buyout package bears the incentive may work at Brown in the future but for no more
chose to take the incentive. In February, the Brown Daily name “Voluntary Staff Retirement Incentive” (VSRI). than 60 days per calendar year. And for 60 days following
Herald called the option, “popular,” and Huidekoper said “We’re taking it because it’s the lesser of the two evils,” Maud the date of their retirement, they may not work here, either.
in an interview with the Herald that “[the] individuals who explained. “Rumors went around. There would be more If they want a fulltime job, they can no longer find one with
chose to take it are really quite pleased.” layoffs.” the third largest employer in the Providence area. They need
After speaking to several employees who accepted it, Another staff member told a similar story. Mike, a veteran to find it elsewhere.
however, the buyout appears to have aroused a broader range staffer of 40 years, said he and his colleagues talked about According to the Rhode Island Department of Labor and
of reactions. One woman said she was pleased, but others layoffs before the University announced the buyout: “The Training, 73,172 people—12.7 percent of the state’s entire
(“Jenny,” “Erin,” “Estelle,” “Mike,” and “Maud”) responded impression was that if you didn’t take the buyout you would labor force—remained unemployed as of February 2010.
differently. Maud, an employee of 20-plus years, felt the be laid off.” Last spring, the University laid off 31 workers Until the unemployment rate leveled off in January 2010, it
exact opposite: “They told us to take the early retirement and eliminated 36 positions that had been vacant at the time. had continuously risen since April 2007, when it had been
package and go away.” On Monday, Beppie Huidekoper and David Kertzer, the at 4.9 percent.
Provost, announced in an untitled mass email to staff and
The Deal faculty that “approximately 60 filled positions [would] be Holdin’ Out
According to the official Brown and the Economy website, eliminated” on July 1. This was exactly the kind of email that Although Jenny has the option to retire on April 15, she will
the early retirement program was “part of the University’s employees were afraid of, and the fear motivated many staff work through commencement and leave on June 30, as will
overall deficit reduction strategy.” After the University’s en- members to take the buyout. Mike presented the case of one Maud, Estelle, and Erin. Maud, even as she criticized the
dowment declined by $740 million (or 26 percent) between his coworkers as an illuminating example: “There’s a woman buyout, made it clear that she enjoyed working at Brown. “I
July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009, Brown sought to reduce who has worked here for 40 years. If she gets laid off, she’s love what I do,” she said.
a projected defecit of $30 million for fiscal year 2011. The a nobody. It doesn’t matter if she worked here for 40 years. Mike will be leaving earlier. “I would have taken January 1,
university charged the Organizational Review Commit- At least if you’re retired, you get a Brown ID that says, ‘Re- actually,” he chuckled. “I wasn’t ready to leave here. But I
tee (ORC) with the task of “identifying opportunities for tired.’ You can flash it at someone when you need to.” Two think I made the right choice.”
improved efficiency and cost reduction through administra- of Mike’s colleagues initially had qualms about taking the The only staff member who is known to be absolutely
tive restructuring.” The employee buyout was intended to buyout, but he eventually convinced them to follow his lead. thrilled about the buyout is a woman who’d planned on retir-
help the University by reducing “compensation costs” and There exist, of course, employees who took the buyout ing in June before the email went out on November 4. For
creating “additional vacancies to be used in the redesign of gratefully, and they took it for different reasons. Sixty-two her, according to Jenny, it “felt like winning a lottery.” For
[Brown’s] administrative structures.” In return, the buyouts year-old Jenny, who has been here for 21 years—nine part those who had planned to work a little longer, taking the
would “assist eligible staff employees achieve their personal time then 12 fulltime—said it offered her an opportunity to buyout could only be less than exciting.
retirement goals.” Other universities with larger endow- do a lot of things she couldn’t do while working. For the past During the interview with Maud, Estelle, and Erin, a
ments, such as Dartmouth and Harvard, also offered similar 12 years, five times a week, she has left her house at quarter man who had been listening from afar came over and in-
early retirement incentives in 2009. of eight and has gone home at six. “That doesn’t leave a lot troduced himself as Jack. He had been offered the incentive
To be eligible, Brown employees must meet two criteria of time to do anything,” she remarked. At the top of her list but refused to take it. “I’ve been here for 12 years, and I’ve
by June 30, 2010: they must be 60 years or older, and they is deepening friendships. “I’m about to begin the last third of been grade three the whole time. They don’t look at us down
must have continuously worked fulltime at Brown for at least my life,” she said, “and I’m looking forward to an open, free, there,” he said as he smiled. If the University lays him off, it
10 years. They must be union members or staff members of unprogrammed life.” will save a maximum of $31,000 it would have to pay for
wage grade 13 or below. A major reason why Jenny took the buyout was that it his salary. Jack felt confident he would keep his job. “My
Wage grades range from one to 15, and the average sala- would allow her to enjoy that unprogrammed life without boss will back me up,” he said as he made his way back to
ries for grades one to 13 range from $24,000 to $126,000 worrying about being able to afford health care. One of the work. After he left, Maud said his boss had been offered the
per year. Staff members through grade 13 include dining highlights of the incentive is that for employees under 65, incentive but had not accepted it either.
service workers, department secretaries, custodians, librar- Brown will contribute $83 per month toward their health The March 22 email announcing the impending layoffs
ians, and administrative workers in J. Walter Wilson—basi- care while letting them continue on their current medical of 60 staff members stated that those individuals would be
cally all employees excluding faculty members and high-level coverage until they become eligible for Medicare. Jenny’s informed “over the course of the next few weeks.” Jack and
administrators. husband will turn 65 in October. Considering her plan his boss will soon know whether they will be invited back to
The early-retirement package includes a lump sum of through Brown will cost $519.49 per month, $83 per month work here next year.
a year’s salary and $15,000, in addition to the employee’s isn’t much. She is happy she won’t have to get independent ______________________________________________
regular pay through his or her last day of work. Maud feels insurance for herself, which would cost twice as much. Mak- CHRIS SUH B ’10 is currently completing his senior
this is not enough: “It’s not the same as working another ing the incentive more attractive, the $15,000 will pay for thesis on the WPA Writers’ Project during the Great De-
year.” She said that all that money would be considered her “almost three years” of her insurance cost. In addition, the pression.
2010 income, which meant that, next spring, she would pay University, according to Jenny, has been “extraordinarily gen-
more taxes than usual, much more than if she was working erous” with its contribution toward her 403(b) retirement
in 2011. savings plan. The Human Resources website states that, if

M ARCH 25, 2010 t h e i n dy. o r g

P r o - V i s i o n a ry P r o v i d e n c e
P r ov i d e n c e A rt W i n d ow s I l lum i n at e U r b a n S c e n e
B y K at i e L i n d s t e d t
p h o t o g r a p h s b y Av e ry H o u s e r

“Trinity Rep likes a little bit of drama in their window,” into a canvas.
o two of the nine windows that comprise Provi- she said, “Vibrant colors.” The Steel Yard, a local nonprofit, transformed the former
dence Art Windows’ 2010 Spring Installation Madolin Maxey’s “Treasured Objects” is a vibrant work Providence Steel and Iron complex into an industrial arts
Series are alike. From March 18 to June 10, the indeed, with five oil paintings of personified teapots rendered facility, which provides artists with working space and an
streets of downtown Providence will act as a metropolitan through bold brush strokes and bright colors. education center offering classes in welding, blacksmithing,
museum. Its collection ranges from abstract oil paintings to The installation featured in the window of downtown ceramics, jewelry, glass casting, and the foundry arts. It also
an intricate sundial—multiple layers of dangling light bulbs advocacy group Rhode Island Housing was also thematically offers studio rentals and open studio sessions.
on Eddy Street that cast dynamic shadows against a wall, linked to its momentary home; “Reconstructing Providence” In the years since the Steel Yard’s 2001 founding, the
their elliptical shapes shifting slightly throughout the day. displays Jean Cozzens’ silkscreen prints of Providence’s In- organization has transformed into a community of artists
Providence Art Windows (PAW), which features four dustrial Trust Building. from many professional backgrounds: students, automobile
installation series per year, is one of several public art proj- Baudouin noted that the project hasn’t fully explored the specialists, visual artists, and tradesmen. Their collabora-
ects in Providence that have recently challenged traditional possibilities of urban dispossession as the artist’s canvas. He tions—public and private ventures alike—explore the inter-
conceptions of a museum. These projects have emerged as referenced statistics of downtown buildings’ vacancy rates. play between industrial trades and visual arts.
improvisational transformations of vacant spaces into galler- Five years ago, the rate was at 27 percent. Two and a half One such collaboration is Hire the Yard, an ongoing
ies and murals and as urban incarnations of l’art pour l’art, years ago, it had decreased to 11 percent but currently rests public project in which the Steel Yard works with artists,
public projects that supplement the city’s lack of an extensive at 16 percent. vendors, and representatives of local industry to produce
museum culture. Though Providence is home to the Rhode “Maybe there are more opportunities to work with those functional public sculptures. Specific projects have included
Island School of Design Museum, southern New England’s buildings,” he said. uniquely designed bike racks, custom-made tree guards, and
largest museum, its high density of galleries, art students, and Both Baudouin and Simering acknowledge that the proj- one-of-a-kind trashcans and recycling bins. The Steel Yard
independent artists has created what current PAW director ect’s artistic displays and activation of downtown Providence has distributed these products throughout Providence—in
and fiber artist Rebecca Simering called a “DIY aesthetic.” remain its primary purposes. Smith Hill and Olneyville, and at the Roger Williams
“It creates a circuit for people to walk and notice the Park—as well as other Rhode Island cities and southern New
Downturns and Dexterity beautiful architecture of downtown Providence in less than England locations.
Elizabeth Keithline started Art Windows in 2007 as an ongo- an hour,” Simering said. Hire the Yard depicts the art in industry—Nate Nadeau’s
ing public art project that fills downtown Providence’s empty The layering of art upon the blank slates of vacant lots India Point Park pieces are trash receptacles with nautical im-
retail spaces with art installations and provides visitors and brings to mind current and past practices of Cornish Associ- agery—and the industry in art, as the trash can artists use the
locals with visual stimulation. Siemering became the proj- ates and the Smith Hill Community Development Corpora- techniques of sandblasting, powder coating, and laser cut-
ect’s director in June of 2008. The Providence Foundation, tion. ting. Where the industry ends and the art begins—or where
an organization dedicated to the economic revitalization Last fall, the Smith Hill CDC commissioned local artists the art ends and the industry begins—remains ambiguous.
of Providence, oversees PAW’s funding—a combination of to paint murals on the walls of foreclosed homes to deter While private art projects have also transformed industrial
private donations and public grants. graffiti while the Corporation completes its renovations of objects into art (the Museum of Modern Art in New York
According to Dan Baudouin, Executive of the Providence the properties. frequently exhibits installations of household objects), public
Foundation, the vacant storefronts of Providence Art Win- The Providence real estate company Cornish Associates art like Hire the Yard is unique in its ability to imbue these
dows are not the former displays of foreclosed businesses, but provides local artists with spaces for galleries and weekend transformed objects with additional social significance. The
empty spaces with activity in the rooms behind them—the exhibits. According to Cornish developer Joanna Levitt, trashcans are frequently born of recycled materials, which has
properties of cooperative owners. some downtown commercial spaces that the company owns additional resonance in light of the function these ‘installa-
An exception is the Kresge Building, which has been va- have transformed into galleries in the brief interim between tions’ serve on a daily basis. Howie Sneider—who runs the
cant for 20 years. Its storefront serves as one of the spring se- the expiration of their old leases and the start of new ones. Public Projects for the Steel Yard, and whose Providence
ries’ windows and has featured installations in previous years. One such space served as the site of RISD artists’ Black Sheep Art Windows installation is currently on display on Eddy
“It’s really not a part of the economic downturn,” Baudouin Projects’ opening event on March 18. The company’s part- Street—wrote in the Agenda, “These trash cans are unique
explained. “It just needed a reuse.” nership with local artists traveled by word of mouth, Levitt, projects that become unique objects, and they are cultural
Providence Art Windows features a core set of windows who receives phone calls from artists on a weekly basis, said. landmarks: ‘Go down Smith Street and make a left at that
in every seasonal series, including those of Trinity Rep and weird trash can with the state house cut of out it.’ ”
Rhode Island Housing, mere blocks apart on Washington Providence’s Many Avenues of A rt
Street. Siemering referenced these two installations as the Providence Art Windows is one example of the many ways The Comm on Critics
pieces whose content most closely mirrors its setting. in which local artists have transformed the urban landscape “Rudimentary Channels” by Illinois and California-based
artist Jason Chakravorty received mixed reviews last Saturday. density of young artists.”
The Providence Art Windows installation, one of two in the Ceglio noted that museums are a means of conferring
double storefront of the Kresge Building at 191 Westminster, value upon art, though each museum is unique and thus
features an arch of empty US Postal crates that hovers over confers a different kind of value upon the works it houses.
a cluster of the corrugated plastic crates, some of which are Sometimes the sheer absence of a museum can validate a
illuminated. The arch descends into an accordion-like semi- work of art as well; she referenced the Steel Yard trashcans
circle of the layered boxes. as art that would lose its social power in a museum setting.
“Oh, that is fresh,” 12 year-old Bryan shouted as he Some public art projects, like the Providence Art Win-
caught a glimpse of Chakravorty’s crates, clutching a skate- dows, have, in certain ways, resembled a museum, but mu-
board while running across Westminster to examine what seum practices frequently reverse this relationship. “We like
caught his eye from afar. to associate museums with the idea of permanence. The flip
Providence resident Mike, however, took offense at the side of that is that they are then also associated with the idea
unconventional nature of both Chakravorty’s work and the of being static,” Ceglio said. “But in contemporary times,
adjacent installation, an untitled piece by Valerie Kim. Kim’s the temporary exhibition certainly [is] a means [that draws]
installation also features crates: red, blue, and green vessels of people to the museum.”
VHS-copies of Star Wars and Psycho. Television sets of dif- The lifespan of some PAW installations has surpassed
ferent sizes and conditions lie just to the right of the crates. their time spent behind glass. Siemering noted that past
Mike referred to the two installations as “attempts at be- PAW artists have slightly altered the concept and scale of
ing artsy that fall really short. It’s mostly just a display against their installations and either resubmitted or recreated the
previous culture that shows how unattractive anything old works for other exhibitions. Occasionally the installations
is.” are even curated before they challenge the concept of cura-
His wife Cynthia disagreed. “I like it,” she said. “I think tion; some of the artists have shown their work, including
it’s taking something that would be placed in a pile and mak- components of the installations, in museums prior to par-
ing it artsy—” ticipating in Providence Art Windows. Ceglio commented,
“—artsy fartsy, yeah,” Mike interjected. “That disrupts the inside-outside the museum construction
Their exchange highlighted one paradox of public art: un- a little bit.”
like the works in a museum, which are usually only subjected
to the scrutiny of those who choose to scrutinize, public art
can be a pleasant surprise or an offensive curveball to the While formally curated exhibitions and public art projects
unsuspecting spectator. have questioned—and perhaps undermined—distinctions
Siemering expanded on the museum-versus-street-setting walls, [and] brilliant gas lighting.” John Cotton Dana, the between their two spheres of art, there are certain values of
dichotomy. “When you’re working in a window,” she said, iconoclastic 19th century librarian and director of the New- which neither world can claim sole ownership, transience in
referencing the PAW artists’ work process, “It’s one of the ark Museum even “[insisted] that the buying public learned particular.
most exciting things. You get immediate feedback; pedes- more about fine art from shop windows and travel than from As Simering said of the art windows project, “Because it’s
trians will give you a thumb’s up. I always find that really museums.” temporary, it’s more precious…it’s not something you forget.
wonderful, and almost better than being in a museum or Like the lavish department store displays of decades past, Everyone notices it and it’s beautiful.”
gallery because you have an instant rapport with the public.” the storefronts of Providence Art Windows’ spring instal- Temporary museum exhibitions can also linger in the
lations may have more in common with the museum than minds of spectators, and perhaps challenge the notion of a
Museum or Mausoleum? initially meets the eye. museum as permanent and distinct from the world of public
The relationship between museum and storefront in America Clarissa Ceglio, a graduate student in Brown University’s art projects. “A month in a window is certainly no more tem-
dates back to the birth of the department store in the late Department of American Civilization with research interests porary than a museum’s temporary exhibit,” Ceglio noted.
19th century. In his paper “Museums, Merchandising, and in America’s museum culture and 20 years of experience in The Providence art scene almost makes it seem like a
Popular Taste,” scholar Neil Harris discusses the close ties be- the gallery world, challenged the notion that museums stand burden to be permanently on display at the Met.
tween museums, department store displays, and world fairs, in contradiction to public art.
all of which served to exhibit commodities and influence the “Providence’s primary institution that we call a museum ______________________________________________
public’s taste. Harris notes that department stores competed and recognize as a museum in the classical sense is the Katie Lindstedt B’11encourages anyone reading
with the museum as “a display area for artifacts.” As early RISD Museum,” she said. “But I think that what we have this to submit his or her work for Providence Art Windows’
as 1868, department store owners used artistic techniques in Providence is a more complex ecology [with] not only the next installation series.
to tempt the shopper: “displays of furs and silks…frescoed museum as an institution where art can be displayed, but
also a very rich and vibrant gallery community [and] a high
metro | 7

Drizzle-down economics

S t i mu lu s M o n e y f o r
W e at h e r i z at i o n R ot s i n S to r ag e

by Alexandra Corrigan
I l l u s t r at i o n b y s a m a n t h a b a l l a r d i n i

T he Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

(ARRA) doubled Rhode Island’s Weatherization As-
sistance Program (WAP) in February 2009, granting
it $20.07 million. The WAP was designed to lower energy
costs for low-income families by adding insulation, closing
ing or altering those systems. After evaluating the homes,
CAPs direct non-invasive procedures—such as the installa-
tion of non-incandescent light bulbs, or the caulking-up of
holes in between windows and walls. If needed, they hire
construction agencies to install more insulation in between
incentives and loans for efficient energy production by
large companies. The bill defined states’ roles in public and
private energy interests as lightly regulating backers. It also
stipulated that electric companies must procure all cost-
effective energy savings according to the law. In RI, a new
leaks and holes in the building, and updating heating sys- walls and roofs. The process costs an average of $6,500. For report by the RI Energy Efficiency Resource Management
tems. In February 2010, Gregory Friedman, the US Depart- a larger budget, weatherization can include better windows Council (EERMC) will outline technical and economic
ment of Energy Inspector General, announced “alarming” or a complete overhaul of the boiler system. However, these potential, “develop program designs and budgets […] and
findings that many states had not spent their portion of $5 more advanced measures aren’t for the impatient; good win- refine policy recommendations.” This will change the future
billion in ARRA funds for weatherization. He reported, “The dows, for example, take 18 years to pay for themselves in of relationships among National Grid, the state govern-
job-creation impact of what was considered to be one of the decreased energy bills. ment, city government and CAPs. Changes made by these
department’s most ‘shovel-ready’ projects has not material- The program works. Nationally, WAP returns $1.56 in institutions will affect architects, developers, construction
ized.” He revealed five states’ energy departments, including monetary benefits for every dollar spent in property values, workers, educational environmental markets, and individual
Rhode Island’s, reported no use of ARRA’s weatherization bill collection and service shut-offs. The Department of En- homeowners. “What’s interesting is that people are looking
funds, while continuing to fund older programs that simply ergy cites a $1:$2.73 ratio for cost to health, environmental, at this more systematically. When we see the report, we can
subsidized energy bills for low-income families. Architects social, and political benefits. The program, when implement- look at it and say now here’s how [energy in RI] looks, and
and constructors chimed in, complaining about months- ed, increases investment in local industries, national security then they can tell us how long efforts might take [to become
long delays while families waited for tax breaks. (read: oil dependence), and long-term environmental health. sustainable],” said Farley.
Weatherization projects did increase, but not as fast as Experts say the push for weatherizing will sooner come
funding. From 2001 to 2009, WAP used their normal fund- from policy changes and tax incentives than individual fami- energized comm unities
ing of $1.1 to $2 million. Homes were weatherized from an lies taking initiative. If Congress agrees to sign onto global The slow pace of RI’s government is alarming, especially con-
average of 90 per month before 2009, to 112 to 150 per CO2 reduction standards, residential energy usage–38 per- sidering the effects that lower energy bills or increased jobs
month in 2009. Still, $20 million of stimulus sumy went cent of US greenhouse gas emissions–will have to change. could have had in 2009. However, Kempe explained that the
unused. States were allowed to use 50 percent of the funds The market value inherent is seductive. Ninety percent of the state aims to weatherize 2,532 houses before the end of the
of the stimulus package money before Congress outlined its 122 million houses in America are more than five years old year. As most citizens consistently name the economy their
exact specifications over the course of the year, but RI didn’t and so inefficient that they could not be built under today’s most important concern, the upcoming gubernatorial can-
get around to them. energy standards. didates will predictably address RI’s green economy. Beyond
The Carcieri administration’s hesitation in spending $58 rhetoric, however, an entire system of people will need to be
million in federal funding leaves little hope for the state’s Spring G reening expanded and supported, from government administrators
green economy. Amy Kempe, the Governor’s Office Spokes- RI homes are “ideally suited for building energy investments,” to educators to construction employees. The future of RI’s
person, blamed delays on a complex “level of transparency according to Ross Stackhouse, a senior at Brown currently economy (including energy prices) remains unpredictable,
and accountability of reporting” outlined by the stimulus writing his thesis on environmental efforts in Providence. but effective spending of this money shouldn’t be a mystery.
package. “Some states started using the money pending the “Providence is a very old city, architecturally speaking,” he Some have proposed that WAP charge a small fee for
rules and regulations, but from our perspective,” she said, said, and “the important thing is that homes are old and their energy audits in order to incentivize follow-through so
“we just thought it was more appropriate to wait.” systems and walls have degraded over time, making them less families will actually install the insulation and caulk up
The stimulus package was ill-timed for the RI Office of energy efficient.” However, state and local government, with their heat leaks. Other suggestions have been to provide
Energy Resources; two important staffers had recently de- the financial capacity to fix some of the degradations, have programs for middle-class families or landlords to alter their
parted. To replace those members, as well as create positions still had trouble speeding up their productivity. energy usage. For now, states have shown success in ramp-
for additional staff, the office attempted to maneuver around For better or worse, this pace is remarkably slower than ing up these programs using community-based marketing.
recession-caused hiring freezes and wage-estimating surveys private industry. Currently, only two programs train employ- In Bridgeport, CT, for example, the largest utility company
required by the Davis-Bacon Act. ees for CAP agencies in RI; CCRI and the Apeiron Institute temporarily hired underprivileged 18-23 year olds to market
After the state filed their annual report that stated none of for Sustainable Living both teach Green Job Energy Efficient free energy audits door-to-door. The increase in weatheriza-
stimulus funds had been used in 2009, the Office of Energy Training. The demand for certified “green” employees has tion was astounding. Maryli Secrest, who worked organizing
Resources hired Senate policy aide and energy policy veteran increased beyond the rate of supply of institutions creating community marketing efforts in Bridgeport, provided some
Ken Payne to “ramp up” the programs. He came with the those opportunities. “There have been scaling-up issues you’d perspective: “Its hard to get people to trust us, but once they
entourage of a lawyer, an engineer, a policy expert, and a expect both in terms of administration and on the ground. see that there is money to save them up to 40 percent on
website designer. In late February, he announced, “You’ll see If you’re a CAP agency, you hear about a one-year stimulus, their energy bill, they get pretty excited.”
a lot coming out soon,” adding that 160 housing units were you probably don’t want to hire somebody because of this
weatherized in 2010 with ARRA funds. blip,” said John Farley, who represents the Energy Council __________________________________________
of Rhode Island. One can only predict how long this extra Ale xandra Corrigan B’12 wanted to get
dollars & sense funding will last, based on how efficient the programs will be weatherized, but thought it more appropriate to wait.
Weatherization is a simple process. First, an energy auditor and how they are being perceived. Although waiting to set
conducts an audit, which can involve infrared scanning of the up successful, efficient models has benefits, weatherization’s
walls and roof and blower-door tests on wind resistance. RI’s reigning principle remains: as soon as possible.
largest energy provider, National Grid, is required by law to States must walk a fine line when it comes to funding
provide free audits for low-income residents. However, any- energy efforts. An unbridled energy market could allow an-
one who has tried this can attest to the long waitlist. Next, other Enron debacle, but regulating the profits out of the
weatherization-specific Community Action Program (CAP) industry limits the research and development the environ-
agencies evaluate energy systems (e.g. the age of the boiler, ment needs. The most important piece of recent legislation
type of light bulbs) and measure cost-effectiveness of replac- remains the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which granted tax

the college hill independent m a r c h 25, 2010

metro | 8

c at c h - u p
i m p r ov i n g s c i e n c e e d u c at i o n i n RI
by Nupur Shridhar
i l l u s t r at i o n s b y g e o r g e w a r n e r

or most Rhode Islanders, the poor condition of the campus for a weekend of hands-on biotechnology. The stu- campus came out to perform for the kids, and we actually
state’s public education system is old news: not only do dents work with undergraduate mentors and take full advan- had one participant rap some original songs at the show.”
kids drop out at alarmingly high rates, but most high tage of resources unavailable to them in their public schools: With this kind of encouragement, it’s no surprise that high
school graduates lack the math and science skills to pursue they learn how to use pipettes, work with microscopes, oper- schoolers keep getting out of bed at 10 AM on Saturdays
rigorous and rewarding careers in these fields, whether as en- ate underwater robots, and culture their own cells. It’s a fas- to learn a little extra science—and the results are already
gineers, computer programmers, or doctors. In the past few cinating and valuable experience, one that’s readily accessible showing. “We have one student this year who’ll be attending
years, however, Hope High School, the often controversial to many Rhode Island students, but it’s also an expensive Brown in the fall,” Duch adds, “and every single other senior
hub of Providence’s public education system, has undergone operation that’s highly dependent on funding from Amgen. in the program is really excited about hearing back from col-
a dramatic change. Once known for its fist fights, graffiti, The multi-billion dollar biotechnology company feeds the leges soon.”
and appallingly low test scores—in 2008, average SAT scores students, houses them overnight at the Holiday Inn, and The best and fastest way to reform, then, is to approach
were 900 points lower than Moses Brown’s, a private school brings 35 of its own employees to each SMILE event, im- the problem of poor science education from both sides: while
two blocks away—Hope High is now mellower, better fi- proving both student performance and their own reputation. politicians work to secure funding and high school teach-
nanced, and, most importantly, filled with students who are Without Amgen’s financial support, it wouldn’t be possible ers fight the good fight, it’s essential for citizens to become
more eager than ever to learn math and science. to generate the math and science enthusiasm the program activists and community builders in their own right. Science
These improvements, which are not unique to Hope, has been able to build. education isn’t just about test scores; it’s also about the at-
have been fostered by recent state-sponsored educational   tention devoted to each student and the kinds of scientific
reforms. Since assuming office in 2003, Governor Donald ____________ role models that Silva, Amgen scientists, and excited college
Carcieri has implemented policies that provide more fund- students represent. Science is hip and interesting and invalu-
ing for math and science classrooms, comprehensive teacher Yet financial backing from an international therapeutics able, and in order to ensure that Rhode Island produces its
training, and support for students of all ages and abilities. company isn’t necessary for education reform. Brown Uni- share of brilliant and enthusiastic future researchers, it’s im-
Yet what’s made Rhode Island’s success so remarkable is that versity’s Brown Science Prep (BSP), a student-led enrich- perative that we begin to begin promoting math and science
many of these reforms have been made off Capitol Hill by ment program that competes with SMILE for Saturday immediately, even if we aren’t scientists ourselves.
mechanics, college students, and other layperson volunteers, attendance, is funded nominally by the Swearer Center but  _____________________________________________
everyday  citizens looking to improve public education im- primarily by whatever change its volunteers find in their (NUPUR SHRIDHAR B’11)2 = a2 + b2
mediately and permanently. pockets. Every week, a dozen mentors meet with 25 to 40
Greeneville local Joe Silva is one of these science enthusi- Providence area public high schoolers to teach lessons on
asts. In the 1980s, Silva owned Silvacross Corp., a small tech a variety of topics, from statistics to general chemistry to
company that made robotic equipment for law enforcement botany. The low student-to-mentor ratio allows for highly
purposes. His early machines scanned license plates and es- personalized lesson plans that attempt to address one of
tablished security perimeters, but his most successful design the biggest problems in Rhode Island’s education system:
was Aexeous (ax-EE-us), a twelve-foot-tall alienesque robot each public school has a unique science curriculum that’s
that’s been winning over elementary and middle schoolers incompatible with any other public school’s; each student
since 1996, when Silva began to take his creation out on edu- receives a spotty and often education. “We take the time to
cational tours in an effort to “inspire students to be creative, write lessons that are accessible to a whole range of students,”
stay in school, and promote excitement and more interest in says Mark Sabbagh, a BSP mentor in his second year with
their science, math, and technology classes.” Despite Aex- the program. “We have students coming in from Feinstein,
eous’s intimidating claws and heavy steel ribbing, kids are Times Squared, E-Cubed, Hope, and each one of them has a
immediately and instinctively curious about what makes different scientific background. Some kids are already learn-
this robot move, shake, and emit electric growls. At a recent ing about restriction enzymes and others are still struggling
demonstration in Hampstead, NH, excited students stood with fractions. [The mentors] come in with a formal lesson
up and cheered as Aexeous stretched himself to his full height plan, but if the kids are interested in a particular topic or are
and then bombarded Silva with questions about the solar struggling with something really essential that might be on
panels and hydrogen fuel cells that make his machine one the SATs, we have the time and freedom to really focus on
of the cleanest in the country. His highly successful hands- that.”
on approach cuts right to the heart of the matter: instead of The loose structure of the program works remarkably
spewing dry facts and figures, Silva gets students excited by well. BSP’s classrooms don’t feel like classrooms at all:
showing them exactly how cool, how much larger-than-life, Saturday mornings begin and end casually, with bagels
science can actually be. and YouTube videos that get students and mentors talking
  about their lives and interests. Lesson plans and hands-on
____________ experiments—which have included exploding ketchup and
Winogradsky columns made with sludge from India Point
Other Rhode Islanders are working to excite older Park—are sandwiched between these essential times when
students, like those attending the University of Rhode Is- mentors and students swap notes on safer sex and fights that
land’s Science and Math Investigative Learning Experiences may have happened at school. “I’ve really enjoyed getting to
(SMILE), an educational program that brings high school know these students individually,” says Julia Duch, another
students from Central Falls, Coventry, North/South Kings- BSP mentor. “We don’t just talk about science. In fact, we
town, Pawtucket, West Warwick, and Woonsocket to URI’s recently had a fundraiser where student groups from all over

M ARCH 25, 2010 t h e i n dy. o r g

FLASH Fiction:
The boat in it looked scriptural to the San Francisco
lawyer, who was out here on the Continent for the
very first time. He wondered whether there’d be a
Gideon’s Bible here somewhere, whether in Spanish
hotels they had that sort of thing.
The gallerist from Amsterdam wanted to buy it,
but the owner said that she’d commissioned all the
headboards as a set. If he wanted one, he’d have to
take all twelve of them.
For the old German sisters who came in Saturday,
it was reminiscent of the powder room in their child-
hood home, and its toile de Jouy wallpaper. Which
wallpaper showed a Chinese fisherman perched on
a pagoda porch, with his rod held over what, to
judge by the layered clouds below it, was a smallish
mountain pond. This image, royal blue on white,
repeated itself precisely 72 times; the clouds into
which one angler’s bait dangled were also those that
hung above another angler’s conical straw hat. To the
Germans’ mother, who had picked out the wallpaper
personally, this had felt profound, like mirrors within
mirrors, the idea of infinity expressed within a finite
space. It had evoked for her a near-religious senti-
ment. For the old German sisters, who’d never cared
for it especially, the thought of the toile evoked their
mother’s musk, which evoked in turn a thin and—to
them—imperceptible sadness.

Your five o’clock

shadow is more am
than pm because it is
like sunrise, and
yawn-filled like
pillow cheek.

Your bathroom mirror

has learned to tell
time, the same way
I do in California:

By watching suns
crawl over hillsides,
every blade of grass
painted pink—

watching those eyes

above your cheek bones—

Ah, yes. Good morning.


You ever wanted to talk to your friends about the

lumpy fabulous lumpy man who you met in the wine
bar last night & about how weird the clusters of his
chest hair were & how educated his sweet nothings
were & how well worn his book bindings were but
then actually you were stuck in a giant visual pun of


which was much more interesting and visual than

anything you can say even if you choose & buy & put
on a coat to try to steal some of the


attention for yourself & your unseeable story to

make a quick transition to the interesting not quite
visible person that is you nibbling your hand, but
everyone is still making verbal puns about the visual
pun not on you but on the clothesline kind of thing
even though you are not even sure it constitutes a
visual pun, when hey the waffles you & the man had
stories inspired by
j o h n f i s h e r ’s p h o t o g r a p h s

The couple from London ignored it entirely.

How lovely, the American said to her husband,
craning her neck to get an upside-down view of it,
before crossing the thin gap between the two twin
beds for one more round of lackluster honeymoon sex.
The boy from Barreiro, near Lisbon, loved the four
yellow birds in the lower right corner, in the way that
you come to love some object in a stranger’s attic on a
dusty late spring day. He loved the perched parrotish
one that seemed to him tired and sagacious. The paler
westermost one whose feathers had halfway taken on
the hue of the leaves. And the two at the center, whose
angles implied either an airborne meeting or two
wholly unrelated trajectories. He dreamt of them for
three nights. He was among them, in a forest, and the
forest lay somehow inside a voluminous attic—which
attic was, he found, amid another verdant forest, and
so on. He was perched high in a tree-canopy, dense
with chlorophyllic foliage, and as the birds moved
invisibly around him, he heard their calls and tracked
them aurally. And he was among them, flying low
over a lake, watching his own yellow underbelly flit
over the green painted waves. When it was time to
leave the inn, he lingered behind; he could hear his
father start the Fiat noisily as he crawled across the
bed to the headboard and said a swift goodbye. Adeus,
pássaros. Adeus!

Each Christmas my family makes a gingerbread model of

Hey Dad, Hey Dad, a building by the year’s Pritzker Prize winner. My architect
I was wondering if you could ask that friend of No, I know who Margaret Thatcher is, but I really father started the project when I was a kid and hasn’t
yours who works for Amtrak if they sanitize the don’t see the resemblance. Maybe if you’d gotten a given it up despite its failures. Two years ago we did Jean
headrests on trains between trips. Because it recently parakeet? Nouvel’s Torre Agbar, which luminesces red and blue into
occurred to me that my recent uptick in commuting Anyway, I have a favor to ask: if you see your lawyer the Barcelona night, but LEDs weren’t really feasible for
has put me at high risk for lice. friend (Alan? Alvin?) any time soon, could you just find our version so we just ended up with a gingerbread penis.
Also, I got the picture of the new fish, but I don’t out if you go to your old apartment where you techni- Cutting in the concentric circles felt like some weird form
really get why you named the smaller one Margaret cally don’t live anymore but you still have a key, if that of circumcision.
Thatcher? counts as breaking and entering? And how much stuff For the Fourth of July every year we do Chicken Versus
you’d have to take for it to be considered a burglary? Tank, facing the firecracker figures towards each other
✣✣✣ and lighting their fuses and watching them spark in a
✣✣✣ lightly smoking fight. Tank usually wins, so sometimes we
HEY, ASSHOLE. I JUST WANTED TO SAY handicap it by placing Chicken on higher ground.
THANKS FOR PUTTING ALL YOUR PHOTOS I GUESS I FORGOT THAT PART OF OUR TRIP. And when we’ve filled up a glass boot with change from
FROM YOUR VACATION WITH YOUR NEW I REMEMBERED IT BEING A LOT SUNNIER. our pockets, we always spend an afternoon rolling coins
SLUT GIRLFREND IN MY BOX OF STUFF. SORRY ABOUT THE THING WITH YOUR and spending our winnings on candy bought in bulk—
I’M NOT SURPRISED THAT THE WEATHER STEREO. sour ribbons that rough a tongue up fast, gummies shaped
WAS SO OVERCAST AS TO APPEAR PRACTI- like sharks and coke bottles, sugared watermelon wedges
CALLY UNDERWATER BECAUSE YOU TEND ✣✣✣ and my mother’s favorite: lemon drops.
TO BRING MISFORTUNE, MISERY, AND So I mean my family is pretty big on tradition, and
POOR METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS Hey Dad, besides everyone’s heard of emotional eating, and of those
WITH YOU WHERVER YOU GO. DOES THAT Do you still know that guy who repairs electronics? warriors who eat their enemies for their strength (what
SENTENCE EVEN MAKE SENSE TO YOU, YOU Could you email me his contact info? didn’t kill you makes you stronger), and I guess somewhere
SIMIAN FUCK? Say hi to Margaret for me! along the line we got those notions mixed up along with
some other ones so now when one of our pets dies we grill
—GILLIAN BRASSIL it. Honoring the fallen can be delicious.

this morning were yellow, so was the honey, so was the

tea (kind of ), & you hope that eventually people will
be bored of looking at the


that you notice is even on the buildings not just

the coats, his house was green which is almost yellow
on the light spectrum, the buildings they stand in the
background & you notice them because you can see
them & ok ok fine then you just give up, give into the
puns, look at what is in front of you, save the story for
the diary, you barely speak this language anyway.
o p i n i o n s | 11

force of habit
s M o K i n g M i g h t B e t e r r i B l e , BU t s to p t e l l i n g U s n ot to d o i t. 

by eli schMitt
i l l u s t r at i o n b y t h e a u t h o r

n June 22, 2010, Americans will no longer be consumers were entirely entitled to have “bizarre, frivolous, “warning smokers or neophytes of the dangers entices them
able to get free samples of cigarettes, procure pro-  
or even immoral” preferences, these preferences ought to more powerfully to the edge of the abyss, where, like travel-
motional gear with tobacco brand-names, or buy originate from the consumer, not from the advertising ers in a Swiss landscape, they can be thrilled by the subtle
fewer than 20 cigarettes at a time (smaller quantities = more campaigns of large corporations. grandeur of the perspectives on mortality opened by the
affordable for kids with pocket money salaries). Furthermore, Among contemporary economists, Galbraith’s argu- little terrors in every puff.”
cigarette advertisements accessible to teens must be in black ments are not taken especially seriously, in part because of This is why the effort to vilify smoking has become so
& white (for both print and video). These are some of the Friederich Hayek’s refutation that the distinction between moral. You can’t do it outside public doorways in various
regulations the FDA announced last week, attempting to preferences originating inside or outside of the consumer states, not because passers-by can’t hold their breath if they
diminish tobacco companies’ efforts to “target” kids in their was bogus (i.e. the only ‘original’ preferences are food, see fit. It’s because if we don’t suppress cigarettes, the argu-
advertising campaigns. shelter, sex). The other reason for Galbraith’s discredit is ments on behalf of health, even moderate taxes, won’t stop
Tighter ad regulations are part of a long, aggressive, and— that his assertions about the power of massive corporations it. It is a failure of collective public discourse that it lacks
in my eyes—ominous campaign to convince Americans that to control markets regardless of consumers’ actual desires the complexity to oppose something without also declaring
smoking is not only bad for your health but in fact morally has not stood the test of time. Firms like GM—which Gal- it morally reprehensible. Until we can teach children that
depraved. The effort is multi-pronged. Rising tobacco taxes braith described as being ‘above’ the constraints of actual getting stoned every day is generally an indecorous waste of
are arguably sensible. Increasingly anal-retentive legislation consumer preference because of their power to advertise— time  without sermonizing, we will continue to render sexy
is annoying. Vaguely fascistic language is unnerving (“make have diminished based, to some extent, on consumers’ that which we condemn. And smoking cigarettes is already
smoking history,” a ubiquitous slogan in Massachusetts, the preference for their competitors’ products. so sexy to begin with.
UK, and Australia, recalls other things—or peoples—with This historical anecdote bears two points. The first is
which governments have aggressively tried to ‘make history’). that is that there is little sense in the government inter- i think i loVe you – so what aM i so
The effect, all-told, is clear. It is increasingly hard to smoke vening in advertising for the sake of consumers. It may be afraid of?
a cigarette without getting dirty looks (at best). My concern widely understood that minors cannot act on their own The furious reader responds: sexy or not sexy, smoking kills
here, however, is not the pride of sidewalk smokers. Anti- behalves (because under the age of 18 you are infinitely people. To be clear: I am not saying that smoking is good.
smoking legislation raises troubling questions about personal malleable and have no common sense), but this is why it is I am saying that it is compelling. It is true that our bodies
liberty, class, and cultural taboo. illegal to buy cigarettes as a minor (a law which last week’s are fragile, contingent vessels which are not well served by
  FDA move makes consistent across all 50 states). Secondly, many of our behaviors. This liberal, middle-class, centrist,
issues with Money it’s unclear to me that smoking isn’t actually appealing on medically-based terror, though, this pure outrage, seems
According to a Gallup poll, 62 percent of smokers are from its own. It is hard to assess the effectiveness of such regu- most ominous to me. We should also all be thin. We should
households with annual incomes less than $35,000; therein, lations, since other preventative measures (consequences also all exercise. We should also all ‘love ourselves.’ The
34 percent of all smokers are from households with annual for selling cigarettes to minors, higher tobacco taxes) have fierce cultural paean we sing to the bodily ideals of “health,”
incomes less than $12,000. Given these numbers, the multi- occurred concomitantly, obscuring efforts to calculate the “fitness,” “long-life,” and “happiness” should not be sung
valent effort to discourage smoking on behalf of public health effects of advertising. Arguably though, the role of cigarette louder than that quiet, familiar tune we must always hum
effectively ghettoizes it. Current anti-smoking rules and at- advertising is to convince smokers (or potential smokers) to to ourselves—not just in our heads, but on street-corners
titudes have the monetary effect of a poor tax, and the social buy your brand of cigarettes—and that peddling smoking, and in statehouses—that of the ownership of the individual
effect of making smoking a behavior that “poor people” do. per se, is an afterthought. RJ Reynolds doesn’t just want over his or her body; and therein, the inalienable right to
The insidiousness of relegating toxic behaviors to the desti- new smokers in general. . . they want RJ Reynolds smokers. smoke like a chimney.
tute is far more insidious than the objective facts of heart What I’m getting at is that advertising doesn’t cause smok- As regards last week’s regulations, I would rather the
disease and lung cancer. Besides associating something that is ing, and that even if we got rid of all cigarette advertising, government—or more specifically, the FDA, that opaque
ostensibly immoral with poverty, it effectively condones the anywhere, ever, there would still be smokers. wing of the government tasked with regulating foodstuffs
poor poisoning themselves. and controlled substances—not also be responsible for
Incredulous? Legislation passed in 2009 banned flavored cigarette as thrysus deciding which kinds of media children have access to. As
cigarettes of all kinds, except mentholated cigarettes, 75 per- The problem with controlling cigarette advertising is that with other great American wars concerned in no way with
cent of which are purchased by African Americans. The law smoking doesn’t really need to be advertised; it sells itself. literal territory (see the red scare, the war on drugs) the
ostensibly aims to limit tobacco products that will appeal to As Richard Klein, professor of French Literature at Cornell battle against smoking is not entirely pointless. It is, how-
children—and yet, menthols, the best known flavored ciga- and author of cigarettes are sublime, wrote, intrinsic in the ever, a site where we should exercise caution, and perhaps
rette, which is most popular among one of the most histori- act of smoking is “a darkly beautiful, inevitably painful be more self-critical of how we can harm ourselves—even
cally oppressed minority groups in America, is exempted. pleasure.” The act is inherently appealing, Klein argues, but in what was originally a well-intentioned effort to protect.  
But don’t these laws constitute steps in the right direction, _____________________________________________
even if they aren’t perfect? No. Smoking may be dumb, but eli schMitt b&h’11 quit.
it’s not in the purview of the government to ban dumb things
(I feel the same way about gambling, fireworks, and harem
pants). ‘Wait!’ cries the layman econ. concentrator, ‘Aren’t
the costs that widespread smoking has on public health
effect sufficient to warrant a ban?’ This concern (which is
especially valid after the passage of the healthcare bill last
Sunday) can be met by paying for cigarette related healthcare
measures (assistance quitting as well as medical procedures)
in part with the revenue from exorbitant cigarettes taxes. This
economic measure would offset the literal cost of smoking
without making it a moral issue (read: something disgusting
poor people do). Ideally. 

b ans & adVertising

One might argue that the FDA rules from last week don’t
condemn smoking outright; they simply limit advertising.
This is true. This law does not impinge on one’s choice to
smoke, directly. Rather it aims to prevent people, specifically
minors from thinking to make that choice. In effect, it posits
the tremendous effect of advertising on decision-making. In
’50s and ’60s, John Kenneth Galbraith wrote extensively on
the economic effects of advertising. He argued that while

the college hill independent M a r c h 25, 2010

a rt s | 12

S p e e c h a n d U n d e r s ta n d i n g o n T h e B ac h e lo r a n d B e y o n d
By Hannah Sheldon-Dean
i l l u s t r at i o n b y d r e w f o s t e r

A s the Bachelor, the star of ABC’s eponymous reality about living with someone before you got married?” Corrie tions, and makes you sound good. We rehearse this kind of
TV show, watches his potential wives step out of shakes her head. “No. I feel like that’s part of the gift of mar- talking daily, perfecting it, until it becomes generic in the
their limos, each woman gets about thirty seconds riage.” Jake rearranges his smile. “Well! I have no problem sense of a musical genre, with its own hallmarks and reliable
to introduce herself. A blonde from Kissimmee, FL inquires with that at all.” Jake will not invite Corrie back next week. repetitions.
perkily: “How do you feel about Kissimmee?” The Bachelor, In each conversation, the recitation of facts—albeit mean-
Jake, looks sick with panic for a moment, until he picks up ingful ones—passes for interpersonal understanding. Jake is
on the wordplay. Jake will soon narrow the field from 25 challenged and responds with the words that his challenger Yeah, but, you say. When it comes to real things, the people
women to 15, and we are to believe that he makes this deci- expects to hear. He doesn’t ask Corrie why she holds the val- we truly love, we speak in real words. We do not believe in
sion knowing things that silence could not have told him. ues she does, nor does he offer any explanation of his own. the Hallmark love of Bachelor matchmaking and its absurd
Gia’s mother takes his vague statements as hard evidence, verbal gamesmanship. But let’s look to the last episode of
later telling Gia: “I just know that he really loves my girl!” the season, in which Jake struggles to decide between Vienna
Each “incredible journey” through The Bachelor (this one We expect this kind of thing from any reality show, but here, and Tenley. Tenley is sweet and Barbie beautiful. Vienna is
ended last month) is paved with endless talk. Beginning with the empty words are supposed to lead to actual off-screen “brutally honest” (her words) and “smokin’ hot” (Jake’s).
squeals from inside the limos and continuing with every an- marriage. The show’s connection to a legitimate legal and Jake repeats that he is in love with both women, and when
nouncement of a date or cocktail party—the show’s central social institution makes its reliance on verbal shortcuts that asked why, he says that Tenley is “just amazing, so beautiful,”
narrative mechanisms—the sound of shrieking women is much more unnerving; you get the sense that, although they and that Vienna is “so passionate.” Both women call Jake
constant. Conversations with more than two participants, know they’re in a ridiculously contrived TV environment, “so great.” Attempts at in-depth conversation derail: to Jake’s
though, are viewed by all parties as preludes to the good stuff; the participants really do see depth in what looks like pure mother, Tenley says that her ex-husband’s leaving her was
one-on-one dates are hot commodities. The archetype of the superficiality. Their language is the shorthand of the generic, like “a death in the family” and that that proves she “doesn’t
demure wallflower seems to have fallen by the wayside, and and lulled by its music, women will give their hearts away, give up.”
the demanding women dominate every group. “Excuse me, and families their daughters. By the time Jake gives Vienna an absurd diamond on a
Jake. Can I…steal you for minute?” This is what the woman, cliff above a tropical sea, it’s unsurprising that he can’t explain
looking striking in a bikini or something, says as she enters his decision to Tenley. “There was just something…for me…
that was missing,” Jake chokes through his
tears, looking confused and heartbroken.
She goes, the producers give Jake a second
to get it together, and he proposes to Vi-
enna. She is overjoyed; they do not speak
of Tenley.
You can laugh, call this tragic or mov-
ing, or predict that once the smokin’ hot
factor dies down the engagement will be off
(the tabloids tell us that it already is). Then
imagine yourself telling someone why you
love him or her; you might say “You’ve just
got this way about you.” Imagine yourself
breaking up with someone and saying that,
for you, there was just something missing.
Walk down these scenic shortcuts, familiar
to the ears and tongue.
We may not traffic in this talk to the ex-
tent that the Bachelor folks do, and it is not
our only currency. But we do speak as they
speak, and what’s more, our enthusiasm for
observing this kind of talk indicates that in
it we find things to which we can relate;
the bachelorettes are entrancing, even if
only in their horrifying artifice.
Pretending that we are never wrapped
up in these same cozy verbal blankets is
some producer-contrived bungalow where Jake and another Set aside The Bachelor’s subtle horrors and consider, for a dangerous. In valuing the quantity and frequency of talk
woman are talking. moment, the let’s-talk-about-our-feelings cultural context over its quality and content, we sacrifice creative power in
Jake never refuses the interloper. Tenley is crying over from which it’s coming. From elementary school to corpo- favor of raw possession. As the Bachelor and bachelorettes
her ex-husband? Vienna is confessing a teenage elopement? rate seminars, we find the bonding exercise. The group sits in shuffle their words like poker chips, The Bachelor becomes a
These subjects are immediately unbimportant. Apparently a circle, and each person shares something, maybe a favorite caricature of a culture that deals in all things sleek and short-
it is unthinkable for Jake to say: “I’m sorry, Elizabeth, but flower or spirit animal, and then we’re supposed to assume form, where even presidential addresses are reduced to sound
Tenley and I are having a serious conversation.” Instead, we all know each other a lot better. That’s just one among bytes; the uncomfortable familiarity of every onscreen phrase
talk ceases in mid-thought, beginning again with the new many venues in which a tidy quip is a mark of value. makes it the epitome of reality TV as cautionary tale.
woman, never fully stopping, but never progressing either. While no one really mistakes these activities for true emo- Still, there is something affecting about the empty verbal
The producers might encourage this quick turnover, and tional closeness, they are just the surface of a whole world of gestures. Each episode ends with a Rose Ceremony, in which
Jake is trying to get to know a lot of women rapidly, but mandatory talk. Younger girls are constantly telling secrets, Jake gives red roses to the girls he wants to see again next
each conversation mirrors the last; the woman says she really and when an individual is reluctant to share with her peers week. Jake calls out names one at a time, saying: “Vienna,” (or
wants to get to know Jake, and maybe she’ll offer a sound (perhaps saying that she can’t think of a most embarrassing whoever) “will you accept this rose?” Naturally, the women
byte about her values or upbringing. moment), she is suspect. Later on, bars and lunch dates be- get more and more nervous as the ceremony goes on, count-
Jake himself speaks almost exclusively about speaking. “I come the parallel venues; the more frequently one talks to ing and re-counting the remaining roses. When just one rose
wish,” he will say, “that Corrie would open up to me more.” one’s friends, the closer one is said to be to those friends, even is left, the show’s host, Chris Harrison, appears. “Ladies…
But what Jake seems to mean by “talking” is actually the act if the conversations are superficial. In academics, classroom Jake,” he says quietly. “There is only one rose remaining.” He
of appearing to talk. Granted, we see only what the produc- participation is key at every age. Even the Catholic confes- then proceeds to exit the room.
ers show us, but let’s assume here that the parts they do show sional comes to mind: the act of vocalizing one’s interiority Chris vocalizes the achingly obvious, and it’s beautiful.
us are what they consider the most revealing segments. as an act toward salvation. The dubious message remains His words make it so much harder to dismiss the other words
Here is one, from Jake’s hometown date with Gia, during the same: to fit in, make friends, and succeed wherever you that express nothing. They are akin to the quiet thrill of tell-
which he meets her family: go, you have to talk openly and genuinely, even if you don’t ing someone you think he’s amazing when you’ve already
“So,” says Gia’s mother, “you say you care about my Gia, always have much of substance to say. married him. When stripped of any pretense of revelatory
but you’re dating three other women at the same time.” Jake This isn’t to say that things of value are never shared in insight, the empty verbal gesture can be its own kind of
grimaces. “…Yes.” “Well, then what is it about her that’s dif- the above scenarios, but it’s the act of sharing that is essen- meaningful; it’s only when we mistake the symbol for the
ferent to you?” He relaxes visibly. “Oh, well Gia’s just such a tial, and what, exactly, is shared becomes incidental. Think substance that we wind up crying on a cliff, unable to say
great girl! She’s so beautiful. She really just…has a way about of the person who’s always raising his hand or jumping into what went wrong.
her.” The mother seems to think that Jake has just told her the conversation. Think also of the chatty acquaintance ___________________________________________
something. She does not press him for details. who’s prone to over-sharing, or the way a conversation goes HANNAH SHELDON-DEAN B’10 always preferred
Another: when you’re attempting to catch up with someone to whom Gia anyway.
At dinner with Jake, Corrie makes a comment about how you never really had much to say in the first place. These
she’d be happy to move into her own place in Jake’s city. haphazard words are casualties in the constant battle to say
Jake struggles to continue smiling: “So…how would you feel something, something that doesn’t offend, meets expecta-

M ARCH 25, 2010 t h e i n dy. o r g

a rt s | 13

J oa n n a N e w s o m S t r i k e s a
H i g h N ot e i n C a mb r i d g e
B y K at i e L i n d s t e d t
i l l u s t r at i o n b y r o b e r t s a n d l e r

climax culminates in a duel between the harp and electric

guitar; “Kingfisher” and Have One On Me’s 11-minute title
track showcased the album’s sophisticated string arrange-
Newsom dressed up old and new tracks alike; she added
percussion and guitar to Milk Eyed Mender’s piano romp,
“Inflammatory Writ.” The updated version was a testa-
ment to Newsom’s attentiveness as a musician and suggested
en melodies, and esoteric lyrics, that perhaps her songs reveal more of themselves to the
surpasses the unconventional. singer with every listen just as they do to her audience. It also
Ask anyone to describe her sound showed a different side of Newsom, who didn’t seem to be
and you will receive answers whose taking herself too seriously as she played with the raw energy
kookiness and verbosity mirror the of the Milk Eyed Mender era, frenetically bobbing her head
content of critiques launched against the behind the piano keys.
polar- izing harpist. A few critics’ attempts to capture “Inflammatory Writ” wasn’t the night’s only nostalgia-
the essence of her aural aesthetic: “Trying to describe Joanna inducing performance; Newsom played “The Book of
Newsom to people is difficult. It’s a bit like the parable of the Right-On” off of Milk Eyed Mender and “Emily” from Ys.
She satiated her oldest fans’ cravings, but only in part—a few

blind men trying to describe an elephant;” “A piercing flutter
he 44 strings on Joanna Newsom’s harp, illuminated that’s pitched somewhere between Björk and a hand brake;” audience members shouted requests for Milk Eyed Mender’s
by the stage lights of Harvard’s Sanders Theatre last and last but not least, “She sounds like Olive Oyl, Popeye’s “Sadie” and “‘En Gallop.’” One individual in attendance
Wednesday, outnumber the years of the singer’s life. beloved.” pleaded for “Good Intentions Paving Company,” Have One
The instrument itself rested against the red fabric of her Recently, Newsom’s commercial appeal has risen. In 2009, On Me’s jazzy standout and the closest Newsom has ever
cocktail dress and towered over her petite frame. The image she appeared in the music video for MGMT’s “Kids” and a come to playing pop music.
visually embodied the contradictory elements of Newsom’s Victoria’s Secret commercial featured her song “Sprout and “We’re almost there,” Newsom said of “Good Intentions.”
work, which draws inspiration from classical and contempo- the Bean.” It is no wonder that Have One On Me, seems, at “Not as in a few songs away; I mean we’re almost at the point
rary composers alike. For better or worse, Joanna Newsom first listen, more accessible than past endeavors. Gone are the in this tour when we can play it.”
is an attractive and charming 28-year-old with a grandiose abrasive vocals of her 2004 debut, Milk Eyed Mender; what Also refurbished was Have One On Me’s “Soft as Chalk,”
vision. once was harsh is now a gentle hush. The lyrical content of one of Newsom’s most complex piano efforts to date. Only
In the final moments of preparation before Wednesday’s Have One On Me, although still cryptic and rich with word during a fleeting segment of the song did the evening’s addi-
90 minute set, Joanna Newsom multitasked, tuning her play, departs from the artful tautology—“hydrocephalitic tional instrumentation detract from a performance at large.
harp while jaunting around in a knee-grazing dress and ex- listlessness” and Sisyphean allusions—of 2006’s decadently The guitar thundered over “Soft as Chalk”’s descending scale,
changing witticisms with vocal audience members. She was orchestrated Ys, whose five songs span 56 minutes. punctuating a song’s compositional high point that needs no
charming in the most unassuming of ways. Then came four For “Jackrabbits,” Newsom was accompanied only by her punctuation. It was no fault of the band, which, along with
minutes and 23 seconds of near perfection: “Jackrabbits,” a harp, surrounded by empty chairs and a drummer-less drum Newsom, hit every note to a tee. It’s just that there’s noth-
gentle harp-and-vocals track off of her latest album Have One set. In the nine songs that followed, she had the additional ing so stunning as the movement of Joanna Newsom’s hands
On Me. It’s a modest venture for a musician who frequently company of five musicians and their assortment of instru- across whatever instrument she’s playing. The harp above all,
dresses her songs in dense orchestration. The performance ments. Among the musicians was Ryan Francesconi, who whose strings she plucked both meticulously and effortlessly
was the first of many that suggested Newsom’s new restraint wrote all of Have One On Me’s thoughtful yet provocative ar- on Wednesday night in a way that somehow made her gran-
is not a paraphrased version of her artistic vision, but rather, rangements, which give Newsom’s harp and piano melodies diose aesthetic easy to digest.
the most sophisticated realization of it to date. space to expand across, and the listener room to breathe. ______________________________________
Joanna Newsom’s music, a blend of shrill vocals (which There were a few particularly outstanding moments: an Katie L indstedt B’11 tried to dial back the adula-
have softened with age and vocal chord nodules), harp-driv- encore performance of “Baby Birch,” whose gospel-esque tion.

Mega Porn
This week's puzzle:

by Raphaela Lipinsky

The same word can be added before or after the words in each box to
form a compound word or common phrase.

Last week’s answers: roe/rove/grove/grovel ash/rah/trash/thrash pie/

pine/spine/supine liv/live/liver/sliver

the college hill independent m a r c h 25, 2010

a rt s | 14

T h e C h a r i s m at i c ,
Slob in Twilight
8 0 y e a r - o l d B r oa dway l e g e n d S t e p h e n
Sondheim and his inhibitions
b y M at t W e i n s t o c k

S tephen Sondheim has been the object of hysterical bal-

lyhoo for nearly half his life.  The first Sondheim retro-
spective concert was held in 1973 (when the Broadway
composer and lyricist was just 43—barely out of his short
pants), and similar celebrations have appeared of late with
fact, “Brotherly Love” seems to take place within the con-
fines of a single, luxurious yawn:

Addison: We slept there till dawn all wrapped up in those
In “You Could Drive a Person Crazy,” a trio of bedraggled
ex-lovers complain about Bobby, the inscrutable protagonist
of the musical Company:
Exclusive you,
Wilson: Boy, Mama was madder than hell. Elusive you,
panicky frequency: this spring alone will see three New York (They laugh.) Will any person ever get the juice of you?
galas in honor of his 80th birthday. The one I attended, at Addison: You’ve always looked out for me, no matter what. The most revelatory of Sondheim’s solo numbers seem
Lincoln Center on March 15, featured performers such as Wilson: Just brotherly love, brother-brotherly love. (pause) Je- to be the product of such violent, labor-intensive “juicing.”
Patti LuPone, John McMartin, Bernadette Peters, and Elaine sus, I smell. (For each of his songs, Sondheim prepares a billowing folder
Stritch—piddling nobodies in television and film, with These don’t read like song lyrics. Indeed, the two-and- with notes on the characters’ back stories, personalities, and
barely a Golden Globe between them, but giants in the a-half minute song has a nominal melody and only four pet turns of phrase.) This systematic “juicing” is a noticeable
insular world of the American theater.  For a certain kind rhymes.  Even the underscoring is lethargic, like a halfheart- pattern in his shows (think of “The Glamorous Life” in the
of audience member, these performers induce an almost edly-chugging train.  Last year, the Times of London reported film of Night Music, or “The Ladies Who Lunch” in Com-
intoxicating nostalgia. that Sondheim “feels his energy levels are down and he may pany): a heretofore neglected character, or one played simply
Three galas could, of course, be perceived as excessive, never write another [show],” and “Brotherly Love” reflects for laughs, is granted a single, confessional number, and then
and there are moments when the Sondheim love feels ir- that depletion. promptly re-enters the musical’s narrative, refreshed and
ritatingly sycophantic. When he came to speak at Brown incalculably deepened.
University in February, the audience roared at his one-liners, This is to say that Sondheim’s songs are uniquely well-
clapped obligingly when he remarked that “Big failures are While lecturing at Brown, Sondheim came across as suited to the episodic format of a gala concert.  The Lincoln
dignified; little failures are shameful,” and each of their re- more raconteur than artist, an old man basking in the glow Center concert wasn’t an unmitigated triumph, but the
sponses was magnified to a ludicrous pitch, because theater of his salad days.  Indeed, in the past year Sondheim has second act did allow for six thrilling back-to-back solos by
people  project.  The audience reacted spontaneously only “nibbled” at new projects, but was largely preoccupied by female performers inextricably tied to Sondheim’s work.
once.  When Sondheim pointed out that he wrote the lyrics lectures and by the completion of a book of his annotated Among them were Patti LuPone and Elaine Stritch, who
to West Side Story when he was “only 27,” there were gasps, lyrics.  Physically, he has passed halfway into myth.  While both emoted visibly while watching the other perform; dur-
the faint sound of elbows elbowing each other, and even a photos of Sondheim from the 1960s reveal a charismatic, ing the applause breaks they even schmoozed a little.
couple of indulgent awws and cootchy-coos. puzzle-loving slob with coin-slot eyes, at 80 he barely has But Bernadette Peters, whose tremulous, shell-shocked
West Side Story’s flamboyantly romantic lyrics embarrass eyes at all; he’s like Homer. performance of “Not a Day Goes By” was the concert’s high-
Sondheim now (“I Feel Pretty” in particular), but so many Despite the exhaustion in its bones, “Brotherly Love” is a light, didn’t emote at all to the others’ songs. She applauded
people in the audience gasped in amazement because to deeply enjoyable song, and ought to have been sung at the dutifully, but her thoughts were inscrutable; she didn’t even
them, the 1957 musical represents Sondheim’s pinnacle.  Lincoln Center concert, if only as a validation of Sondheim’s smile. Peters began performing at age three, in a slew of kid-
The show’s lyrics are more familiar than anything from recent work.  The song choice was tactless, a virtual kiss-off die game shows, and has remained popular by miraculously
Sondheim’s subsequent,  more “difficult”  masterpieces: Fol- of Sondheim’s post-1984 output—which was represented by deepening her stage persona over the past59 years. However,
lies,  Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George.  Many a single number, the pleasurable trifle “It Takes Two” from she is a sort of perpetual child star: shticky and instinctual
critics initially resisted these shows, with their unpredictable, Into the Woods.  To be fair, the reluctantly melodic songs from onstage, and offstage slightly limited. (In interviews, she has
almost arrogantly high-minded harmonies, but eventually Sondheim’s later shows (Into the Woods, Assassins, Passion, revealed her affinity for astrology, gorillas, dogs, and Martin
they came around.  Still, as late as 1997, the critic Mark Road Show) wouldn’t have lent themselves to the extravagant Short.)  Peters began developing her musical comedy muscles
Steyn ended an essay on Sondheim with the plea, “Sing out, mood at Lincoln Center that night (there was practically so early in life that everything else may have atrophied.  But
Stephen”—the implication being that Sondheim’s songs were caviar in the goodie bags), or to the lavish sound of the New the muscles she’s got are phenomenal, and her “Not a Day
excessively inhibited and self-conscious. York Philharmonic. Goes By” managed to capture Sondheim in all his ambiva-
I tend to think of them as perfectly inhibited.  This is In fact, it sometimes seems that the shabbier the instru- lence:
the quality that gives Sondheim songs their gawky beauty ment, the more beautiful Sondheim’s songs become.  His I’ll die day after day after day after day
and their relevance: his characters  are never quite able to most famous song, “Send in the Clowns,” was written to After day after day after day
“sing out.”  Conventional MGM wisdom suggests that when cinch flatteringly around the voice of a star, Glynis Johns, It’s almost impossible to sing those monotonous “day after
a character is too emotional to talk, he sings, but over time who could barely sing at all.  Sondheim could relate; in 1971 day”s well.  Peters sang the first few sarcastically, as if intoning
this surreal transition has become increasingly difficult to he admitted, “I tend to sing very loud, usually off-pitch, and a list of love-song clichés, but then the emotions became hers. 
carry off.  The contemporary film musicals Chicago and Nine always right in keys that are just out of my range.”  His voice She grew softer, and was cut short by a bombastic orchestral
even devised elaborate conceits to prevent the move from in demo recordings is staggeringly unpleasant: he gurgles the break.  The Philharmonic’s horns swelled, but Peters, instead
speech to song from seeming ludicrous and corny. high notes and abandons the held ones immediately. of crying or swaying, just cocked her head and thought.  The
Sondheim skirts this dilemma altogether; so many of his Perhaps this is why his characters are so reluctant to “sing orchestrations seemed to represent the emotions expected of
characters never “burst” into song at all—they sidle into out.”  Sondheim was invariably the first person to perform her, melodramatic and predictable—but Peters refused to
song, or ping-pong between speaking and singing, too smart each of his songs (whether for demos, at backers’ auditions, give in.  She was too emotional to “sing out,” too vulnerable
and self-conscious to ever truly lose themselves.  (Sondheim or for a performer), which may have given him incentive to and torn-up—and so instead she stood, listening.
himself is famously inhibited, and even today has a hard imbue his songs with some rhythmic, tossed-off “quality”— Peters could no longer sing just as Sondheim can no longer
time composing  without drinking first or smoking a little a quality so deeply ingrained in the song that even a voice as truly write songs.  At fifteen, Sondheim learned from his in-
marijuana.)  In the musical soliloquys of Into the Woods (“I measly and technically unaccomplished as Sondheim’s could formal mentor Oscar Hammerstein that “Writing consists of
Know Things Now,” “On the Steps of the Palace”), the score deliver it. Tellingly, two of the best performances at Lincoln choosing”—and he seems to have grown so choosy now, so in-
doesn’t billow over the characters as it did in “Maria,” and Center came from indomitable troupers—the 81-year-old hibited, that he cannot produce anything. All he can do is listen.
the lyrics are beautifully colloquial and clipped.  (If we are John McMartin and the 85-year-old Stritch—whose talents
no longer confident expressing our feelings without irony were used up decades ago, and who milked their songs’
and ambivalence, Sondheim seems to be asking, how can we dramatic qualities. McMartin performed “The Road You MATT WEINSTOCK B’10 implores you to get a little
possibly hold notes?) Didn’t Take” as a beautifully-sustained shrug, and in “I’m drunk and then YouTube Bernadette Peters’s “Some People,”
This musical ambivalence reaches its logical conclusion Still Here,” Stritch (in a fetching red cap) just stomped Audra McDonald’s “The Glamorous Life,” and Barbra Strei-
in Sondheim’s most recent song, “Brotherly Love” (added to around and bellowed. I can’t wait to get to the point in my sand’s “Putting It Together.”
Road Show during previews in 2008).  The song follows two career when I can coast on audience goodwill.
grown-up brothers struggling for primacy in a single sleeping
bag, and the two of them barely speak, much less sing.  In

M ARCH 25, 2010 t h e i n dy. o r g

a rt s | 15

G o o d K i d s F ro m M o n t r e a l
M a rt i n C e s a r o f T h i n k Ab o u t L i f e o n
i n s p i r at i o n , m y s pac e , a n d s t e a l i n g b r e a kfa s t.
by Eli Schmitt

BSR top ten

L BSR top ten
BSR top
play, go-see-the-pictures thing is what everyone’s into. We’re
ast week Martin Cesar, frontman of the Montreal
quartet Think About Life, spoke with the Independent a very sort of DIY approach band, so the simpler the better
by telephone. On their musical stylings, their Myspace for us.
taxonomizes them as “Disco House / Thrash / Pop.” Wiki-

pedia, on the other hand says “indie rock, electronic.” Their I: The new video for “Havin’ My Baby” is pretty amazing; Joanna Newsom
label, Alien8 Recordings, is home to experimental acts like where did the idea come from?
Have One on Me
Acid Mothers Temple and noisy rockers like Les Georges c: The idea was a collaborative effort between us and this
guy Matt Wells from LA. This guy Matt had heard of the Drag City
Leningrad. But Think About Life probably has most in com-
mon with their labelmates The Unicorns, a legendary, though band and just approached us. He said, “I want to make a Freak Folk (up 7 spots)
now defunct, keyboard-driven pop act. Think About Life’s video for you; it might just be a fan video but if you like it

most recent LP, Family, was well-received critically upon can be an official video,” and that’s how it happened. We Arnold Schoenberg & Anthony Suter
its release in May 2009. The album is a listen-all-the-way- just gave him full creative control, and gave him the song,
Hymns to Forgotten Moons
through-every-time pop cornucopia. Simple beats, woozy and he came back with this amazing, beautiful video that
takes place in a church with old people, and this guy gets Cenataur
keyboards, eloquent love stories, and falsetto samples merge
into frisky yet moderate dance numbers, which occasionally on a bike. Classical Classics
rise to anthemic highs.

Think About Life are currently on a sprawling tour in- I: And there are those puppets Various
cluding several spots at SXSW, most of the rest of the United c: Yeah, there’s muppets! You know, with things like that it
Imagine Africa
States, as well as dates in British Columbia and Alberta. On just really warms your heart as a musician when you get to
collaborate with other artists like that. KKV
April 29, they will play TT the Bear’s in Boston, their second
to last set in North America before they head to London and World
take Europe by storm.  I : What have you personally been listening to lately? 
c: I’ve been listening to this one amazing flamenco singer Gonjasufi

T he Independent: How are you doing? called Camarón de la Isla, he’s really amazing; his voice it
A Sufi & A Killer
martin cesar: Good! We’re here…where are we just like, it makes you want to live, really, it just makes you
want to get gritty and see your life for what it is. That’s one Warp
again? [talks to someone] Oh yeah, we’re about to cross the
Mississippi. guy who’s really been inspiring right now. And Chet Baker, Psychedelic Beats (up 3 spots)
this old jazz musician from LA, I find very inspiring. 
I: How do you like the Midwest? Lil Wayne/Gudda

c: The Midwest is four…uh…burritos.  That’s how much I: What are you favorite places to play shows?
we like it. Four burritos [laughs]…we can work with that. c: I would say California is always beautiful, very inspira-
tional, we always come out very inspired by the California Young Money
I: Do you have any fun activities you do to fight boredom region. If we had a chance to just go say, to a place like Rap
on the road? Santa Cruz or San Diego for a year and just write songs, we
c: Swimming, man! Swimming is very important. Just be- would jump on the ship as soon as possible. Another place Four Tet

ing in a body of water—I don’t know, every hotel we stop at that’s really cool to tour is the Netherlands, just because of
There is Love in You
has to have a swimming pool, so yeah, we go swimming.  the attitude there; I find the people there to be very warm. 
I: Do you ever get in trouble at your hotels? I: Do you miss Montreal? IDM (down one spot
c: Well—I mean—we’re good kids from Montreal; the c: I get homesick…Well, I used to get homesick pretty
only thing we do that’s so bad is take too much food from easily. I’m the only band member who’s actually from Surfer Blood
Montreal, so I do get really homesick, but at the same time

the hotel lobby, from the breakfast area there; they kind of Astro Coast
bitch at us when we take too much. it’s great to be on the road and see different places and meet
different people and eat a lot and go swimming as much as Kanine
I: What, in your mind, are the components of a perfect pop possible… Indie rock
c: I think honesty is a great component of a great pop I : What’s the craziest thing that happened to you on this Malachai
song. Just like, straight up, honest hooks that everyone can tour so far?
The Ugly Side of Love

relate to.  c: The craziest thing…Hanging out in Pontiac, Michigan
is pretty crazy. It’s next to Detroit, and Michigan on its Malachai Fading World
I: Can you tell me about the band’s composition process?  own is…I don’t know, it feels like…I don’t want to offend Loud Psychedelic
c: Well, we progressed from basically being a keyboard anyone, but it feels like a slowly dying state, because a lot
and drums band. Now we use a sampler, guitar, bass, and of businesses have left. When you get there it just feels like Broken Social Scene
drums usually, and it starts maybe with me—I’ll compose it’s deserted, but then you explore the city and meet people
Forgiveness Rock Record

something really quickly at home, like a basic melody, and and they’re all so warm, and so nice to you. I don’t know if
it’s crazy exactly, but just digging into a place like Pontiac, Arts and Crafts
I’ll bring it to the band, and from there it’s a collaborative
effort as we add more instrumentation.  Michigan, it’s just really a discovery. Canadian Indie Rock All-Stars

I: How do you feel about the thing where instead of having I: How does an indie rock band become economically vi- Terror Bird
websites, bands now just have Myspace pages? able in this day and age? 
Terror Bird

c: It’s cheaper, that’s one thing for certain. Maybe the c: Uh, I have no idea, man [laughs]. It’s a big mystery. It’s

work and luck. We’re one of the lucky bands.  Night People
website will come back but right now, I guess the click-and-
Self-Description: “Kate Bush making
You can listen to songs by Think About Life @ www. out with Morrissey”
the college hill independent m a r c h 18, 2010
s p o rt s | 16

gael force wins

n ot e s o n m a r c h m a d n e s s

A s I watched the players from the St. Mary’s Men’s

Basketball team go through their warm-up routine,
I couldn’t help thinking: Who are these guys?Their
starting shooting guard looked like he was about 16 and
wore a jersey at least two sizes too big, their cheerleaders were
account. I have filled out a bracket every year since, making
me one of the 40 million Americans who do so annually. This
year, for my birthday, my parents decided to get us tickets to
the first round of the tournament at The Dunkin’ Donuts
Center in Providence, giving me the chance to evaluate this
when St. Mary’s guard Mickey McConnell buried a step-
back and banked a three-pointer from well beyond the arc to
put the game out of reach. The sight of the St. Mary’s players
celebrating ecstatically and giving thanks to the cohort of
loyal Gael-fans who made the trek from Moraga, Califor-
dressed in a rag-tag mixture of black and red and seemed egalitarian Madness for myself. nia was enough to make even the most die-hard Villanova
like they had been plucked from a not-for-credit dance class, alumni stand and clap. After Tennessee won the weekend’s
and their mascot was…a ‘Gael’? And then Saint Mary’s went Friday final game, I watched three hundred or so white-haired,
and proved all us doubters wrong, upsetting Richmond and First game: #15 Robert Morris Colonials vs. #2 Villanova orange-blazered gentlemen from the southern aristocracy
Villanova right here in Providence and reminding us once Wildcats. The Jumbotron streamed clips past upsets to the clapping politely at the team while the band looped “Rocky
again why we love March Madness. sounds of Nickelback while a recorded voice yelled: “It’s the Top Tennessee.”
At the end of the decade that brought us the Tiger Woods upsets that make this tournament so special!” When 5’ 7”
sex tour, steroid revelations, an NBA referee who gambled guard Karan Abraham hit three towering three-pointers in
on games he officiated, and an NFL dog-fighting ring, we’ve the first five minutes, putting the Colonials up nine points March Madness is by no means a pure, untainted version
learned integrity can hard to come by in sports. Salaries are early, and making Villanova look anything but invincible, the of sport. Just like any televised sporting event, the flow of
so out of control that Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer dream of an epic upset started to look like a reality. An old every game was broken up by “media time-outs” so that the
was widely praised this week for extending his contract for a man three rows back began shouting “over-rated!” every time corporate sponsors could have their moment. If I thought I
‘hometown discount’ of $184 million over eight years. Villanova touched the ball. He told me with a smile on his was missing a lot of school to be there, the schedules of play-
Every few years we pump out a movie like Remember the face that college basketball would not be college basketball ers are such that, at least in March, they can never be much
Titans, Miracle, or The Blind Side to remind us why we watch without mean old hecklers like him. Wildcats win in OT. more than part-time students. A recent proposal to extend
sports. We yearn to find a stripped down moral purity that Game Two: #10 St. Marys Gaels vs. #7 Richmond Spiders. the tournament to 96 teams has been widely criticized in
has become nearly impossible to imagine amidst the images The Gaels featured a bunch of surfer bros from Australia who part because it would only lengthen the amount of time the
of Gillette-wielding shortstops, geriatric owners who col- somehow, through a recruiting miracle, all ended up playing players (not to mention the trombonists and the cheerlead-
lect players like they’re running fantasy teams, and athletes basketball at a tiny Catholic school in northern California. ers) would have to spend away from class.
making millions of dollars a year to sit on the bench and The game came down to who had the more bizarre looking The demographics of the stadium are also of note, as
complain that they need more. Contemporary sport in the mascot, and Richmond’s lanky red and black spider lost out nearly all of the fans were white and male. It seemed like
US lacks any palpable connection to the mythology of the to the “Gael”—a goofy-smiled muscleman intended to be nine out of every ten fans was a white dude between the
American sporting tradition—a mythology in which the ethnically Irish. ages of 25 and 50 with a button down shirt or a navy blue
playing field is an ethical arena for the performance of the Game Three: #14 Ohio Bobcats vs. #2 Georgetown Georgetown sweatshirt. While one could argue that women
values of hard work and fair competition. But then once a Hoyas. In a showdown only slightly more exciting than the probably just go to the Women’s NCAA Tournament, the
year, March rolls around. informal competition between the two bands, Georgetown unfortunate reality is that the women’s game does not at-
The NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament doesn’t was the first high seed to fall. Buoyed by the frenzied band, tract as many spectators or receive nearly the same media
showcase the best basketball in the country. Most of the which featured synchronized tuba dancing and extensive attention as the Men’s tournamenty. And while the racial
players won’t go on to professional athletic careers. Non-fans tumbling routines, Ohio pulled the first big upset of March diversity of the players on the court varied greatly—from the
become bracket-experts overnight. The stadiums are packed Madness. The game was reminiscent of Georgetown’s last predominately white Gaels of Saint Marys, to the nearly all-
with amped-up freshmen in seas of school colors which dis- game in Providence, in which they came within a last minute black teams of Villanova and Tennessee—the stands were as
tract opposing free-throw shooters with birdcalls. Cinderella free throw of losing to #16 seed Princeton. homogenously white as the ra-ra culture of collegiate athletic
always crashes the Dance. The media sells March Madness Game Four: #6 Tennessee Volunteers vs. #11 San Diego fandom at large.
as a different kind of sporting event.The players aren’t ego- State Aztec Warriors. I remember it best for the laughably Still, this years’ NCAA tournament has been an elegy to
maniacs, they aren’t making money, and (in contrast to col- drunk man behind us heckling both teams evenly with such the little guy. In addition to the upsets that I witnessed in
lege football’s absurd BCS system) every team has a chance to absurd insults as: “If I smoked crack [San Diego] would Providence, Ivy League champs Cornell knocked out Temple
shock the world. But do we buy it? Is college basketball really be my safety school” and, after a less than stellar version of and the University of Wisconsin while the Northern Iowa
an untainted version of the pro-game? Is March Madness, “Livin’ on a Prayer” by the Tennessee marching band: “Ten- beat the top ranked Kansas Jayhawks after a cold-blooded
the athletic event praised precisely for its lack of glitz, really nessee, we hate Bon Jovi in Prov!” March Madness has a three pointer by Ali Farokhmanesh with 30 seconds to go.
sport at its purest? no-alcohol sales policy, but I did find a stash of little empty March might be the only month of the year when you can
My love affair with March Madness began when I got Jaeger bottles in the bathroom. watch a bunch of players you’ve never heard of, and will
second-place (and 45 dollars) in my father’s office pool at never see again, take down a team full of future NBA start-
the age of seven, and learned the important childhood lesson Saturday ers. It might be the only month of the year where Omar
that through a little casual gambling one can quite easily turn The Gaels take on Villanova in a second round game for the Samhan is as talked about as Lebron James. It might be the
a small sum of money into a pile worth starting a checking ages. Villanova’s loyal fan base, which had been too cocky to only month of the year when ‘Gael’ breaks into the top-ten
show up to their team’s first game and very nearly paid the most searched words on Wikipedia.
price, came out in droves. Over the course of the game, their As I watched the players of Ohio University and Saint
cheers devolved into exasperated groans, then utter silence Mary’s celebrating with a joy that can only come when some-
thing happens that no one (except you) ever really thought
would, I couldn’t help smiling; I was happy to be part of
March Madness—even if my bracket is totally busted.

Emm ett Fitzgerald B’10 had the best birthday


M ARCH 25, 2010 t h e i n dy. o r g

a rt s | 17

Boobs, Drama,
O h , a n d S o m e C lot h e s
By Sue Ding

I t’s time to look back at the circus known as Fashion

Week, which is really a month comprising the four
individual fashion weeks: New York, London, Milan,
and Paris. Twice yearly, these four weeks of schmoozing
and showing off shape the trends for the next season.
models Miranda Kerr and Alessandra Ambrosio, as well
as a few other well-known ‘curvaceous’ models, in its
show. Giles Deacon continued the trend in Paris, and
the Louis Vuitton show featured Laetitia Casta, Karolina
Kurkova, Bar Rafaeli, and Elle Macpherson. Prada and
New York is a mishmash of the biggest names in fash- Marc Jacobs for Vuitton also focused their collections on
ion—Donna Karan, Oscar de la Renta—and many up- clothing highlighting the female form (read: T & A), to
and-coming designers like Rodarte and Alexander Wang. varied effect: Prada’s clothes were boring and ugly, Jacobs’
London is known for being innovative and edgy, with were less boring and pretty. Enter collective hyperbole,
the Central Saint Martins students and alums constantly with esteemed Times critic Cathy Horyn proclaiming,
challenging the fashion world with new points of view. “We saw the return of the lush, full-hipped woman, her
Milan, where Versace and Dolce and Gabbana show, breasts served up like ripe fruit.” Right.
can be counted on for traditional craftsmanship and (Vuitton Photo: Kim Weston Arnold)
over-the-top glamour. And Paris is le top du top, with
both avant-garde fashion (see: Gareth Pugh, Comme des paris
Garçons) and the most established luxury houses, like Paris Fashion Week was really cold: “Even during the
Chanel and Dior. shows, you freeze. IT’S HELL. It’s the death of fashion.
Fashion Month is always a surreal and slightly absurd No one has any idea how to dress for it,” wrote blogger
whirlwind, which some of us are—ahem—lucky enough Garance Doré. Designer Véronique Leroy probably re-
to experience not in the tents at Bryant Park, or in the gretted her choice of venue; she staged her show at night
gilded halls of Paris, but on our laptops, at home in our in an open-air garage. The editors in the audience weren’t
pajamas. Below, a few snippets of the craziness. pleased, but the models had it a lot worse, having to walk
the runway in leotards, bandeau tops, and shorts—some
New York of them were visibly shaking, according to’s
New York laid down the gauntlet in the most interest- Hadley Freeman.
ing (or most outlandish) presentation sweepstakes. Marc
Jacobs showed in a room covered with cardboard; the In other frigid news, Lindsay Lohan was sacked as
designer and the company president tore brown con- the artistic director for Emanuel Ungaro after her Spring
struction paper from a giant wooden structure to reveal 2010 collection—prominently featuring sparkly heart-
the models. At Y-3, a laser show was followed by a staged shaped nipple pasties—caused many major clients to
boxing fight between the designer, Yohji Yamamoto, drop the label. Unfortunately, the collection still kind
and two models. Meanwhile, Moncler showed their col- of sucked. Most of the collection was like a high-end
lection at Pier 59’s golf club, with models standing at version of Forever 21—cheap looking, scattered, and
attention on a giant four-story metal framework. Isaac prominently featuring satin, hot pink, and leopard print.
Mizrahi whipped up a fake snowstorm.
Karl Lagerfeld beat out everyone in Paris in terms of
LONDON pure spectacle by importing an iceberg from Sweden for
Vivienne Westwood’s invitations for her Red Label show the Chanel show. (Okay, he didn’t actually airlift in an
featured factoids about issues like hunger, maternal iceberg. It was 240 tons of “snow-ice,” driven to France
health, and climate change, and guests at the show re- and then sculpted by artisans.) Things got even more
ceived Sigg water bottles, as Westwood showed her disap- ridiculous when the show opened with three models in
proval of the plastic bottles usually distributed at Fashion full-on Furry suits, although the rest of the collection
Week events (like—cough—her show last season). And demonstrated impressive craftsmanship and technical
yet all of this came off as typical “green is trendy” postur- innovations.
ing, since nothing about her collection addressed any of (Photo: Monica Feudi /
the issues she claims to support. While awareness-raising
is all very well, it would have been nice if she donated a summ ary
percentage of proceeds to a worthwhile cause, or used As for the clothes themselves, it was like an orgy of busi-
sustainably processed fabrics, instead of simply sending ness casual—endless variations on beige (camel, khaki,
out a few cheap-looking “Loyalty 2 Gaia” t-shirts. ecru) and tons of jackets and trousers (not pants – trou-
sers). The focus was on grown-up, pared-down clothes, a
MILAN minimalistic take on ’80s power dressing. This might be
Anna Wintour pissed off all of Milan when she decided seen as a concession to the economy, except there was also
to stay for only three days of Milan’s Fashion Week. The fur everywhere: fur coats, fur purses, fur pants. Velvet, for
organizers scrambled to reshuffle the schedule so that all reasons bizarre and unknown, was also ubiquitous. Our
the major shows would take place during her visit, and only response is: why?
at the Gucci show, protestors wore wigs, sunglasses, and
shirts that read “I Will Only Stay 3 Days.” The Paris or- Of course, there were other trends, from sculptural
ganizers, meanwhile, were typically blasé, requiring only sci-fi clothes to an excessive number of schoolgirl out-
that someone from Vogue’s senior team be at each major fits (I see you, New York). The overall feeling of this
show. Wintour then skipped the Oscars so she could stay Fashion Week, though, was nice, wearable, and …sort
in Paris longer. Paris to Milan: “I fart in your general of bland. All those work-friendly separates will prob-
direction! Your mother was a hamster and your father ably be snapped up in retail, but here’s hoping to more
smelt of elderberries!” shenanigans next time; then again, the boring clothes
(Photo: highlighted how ridiculous and ultimately empty Fash-
ion Week shenanigans are to begin with.
This season, the fashion world freaked out because
Curvy Is Back. Prada, known for lineups of (very) pale,
(very) anemic-looking models, cast Victoria’s Secret

the college hill independent m a r c h 25, 2010

l i t e r a ry |18

by Max Posner
I l l u s t r at i o n b y B e c c a L e v i n s o n

Two young men on your porch. Dark out.


So there’s this cocker –
YOUNG MAN TWO No but this was a cute little kitten.
YOUNG MAN ONE Never trust it, just never trust it.
You know… Spaniel.
YOUNG MAN TWO I’m tired of your advice.
YOUNG MAN ONE Arnold, before he died he had kittens and it was before vaccina-
There’s a Cocker on Power. And it’s late and it’s dark and he’s out tions. B.V.
on his own, but he’s got a collar on, you can hear his tags jangling. And you can hold me to this. You can.
Those. Animals. Murdered. Him.
So that’s five.
You’re alone? WOMAN ONE
We still have some extra streets to name.
When a man needs an animal it’s a bad omen.
So. Why don’t we just.
Use our own names for the rest.
Alone on Power and I see this cocker and he could be hit by a WOMAN TWO
car, or, or kidnapped. And you know. He’s some family’s dog, they Never content with just a person.
probably love him. So I see him and I walk right past him but then I
think, no, no, be a Good Guy, go look at his tags read those tags and WOMAN ONE
call up his family and return their cocker. Think of it. Knocking on Mr. Williams has so many animals. One for each of his wife’s in-
some big house, a saved cocker in my arms. Music. So I go towards discretions.
him and he seems friendly but then he lets out a little bark, he’s
scared of me, so he goes, bark. Then I give up and I keep walking WOMAN TWO
and I leave the cocker. We mustn’t speak such nonsense.
I leave him walking in the middle of the dark street, almost invis-
Now I’m the type of human who leaves a spaniel on a street like So this kitten’s tail was broken and cut.
YOUNG MAN TWO Don’t try and make me sympathize, don’t you even try.
Well, it was too late to call his house. It would’ve been very rude.
YOUNG MAN ONE Someone sliced her tail off on purpose. It was painfully clear. They
That should be plenty.
But would you do that to me? If I was alone and lost and aimless wanted that tail.
That should be plenty.
and scared in the middle of the night? Would you just keep moving
and hope I go on, hope I survive somehow on Power? WOMAN TWO
Damn fur business.
YOUNG MAN ONE and TWO are smoking a cigarette
on your porch, they remain casual. TWO is nearly passed out.
How in the world did they name these streets? WOMAN ONE
There is no fur business anymore, honey.
I never walk around places as old as this.
I have my ideas. WOMAN TWO
I’m used to walking around new places.
I still wear a mink from time to time.
I’m used to… stucco and…
I’m scared of ghosts so.
John worked himself to death, you see. His father was in the fur WOMAN ONE
I’m up at night a lot around here because.
business and he could’ve inherited the entire operation, but John That’s an omen of unrest, I’m warning you.
had a mind of his own. He didn’t know about fur and he had other
Lots of ghosts from the.
plans. His mother could never understand why he didn’t just do the WOMAN TWO
Puritans or.
fur thing. It would be simple, John. But John wanted self employ- You know I used to be so uptight I couldn’t fall asleep. I was worried
ment, self-fulfillment, self enjoyment so he did odds and ends until I left the stove on.
And where I’m from streets are named after famous numbers
he was rich and then he did nothing. But then I moved right next-door to the firehouse so I don’t have to
When John built this house here the whole block was empty. worry about leaving the stove on. I can’t wake up these days.
Famous flowers.
Barren, I tell you, barren. Life without Arnold has been terrible and simple.
I grew up on the corner of 3rd and Dahlia.
You ever seen a desert in New England? I had to change streets.
Change wardrobes. And
It was empty and entirely frozen in those days.
Professions. One time we found this Corgi in the park.
Some animals walked around with bare feet and they’d get so frozen
I’m in the process of being reborn. Real fat.
and so numb eventually you’d have to amputate the entire foot,
Forgive me. I forget his name.
halfway up the leg.
And he didn’t have his tags on.
So John goes up and down the block as each new house begins and
he shakes the hand of the new neighbor, which was very radical WOMAN ONE And my dad said, “We are taking this Corgi home until we find
back then, to be shaking hands like that. I never liked Arnold. his family”.
People didn’t shake like that. Only your most intimate friends It was a civic responsibility.
would you shake like that. WOMAN TWO And he pooped all over our house.
But he shook anyone and he said: “I’m John, welcome to the street.” I know. And he never liked you. He spent the night.
And when he died the neighbors threw the first block party in He was scared.
American history. Pooped on everything, in everything, in bathtubs, on sweaters.
When he died everyone cried so hard and drank each others’ tears The city council meeting, a long time ago. But in the morning my dad looked at him in complete forgiveness.
and And that’s
They even danced sinfully. COUNCIL CHAIRMAN The kind of guy I want to be.
And the street it didn’t have a name yet so they just named it John What are the best things? On a street somewhere nearby I keep imagining
Street. This dead cocker spaniel
Sometimes I wish I’d been alive much earlier in time COUNCILMAN ONE Crushed by a tire, tire marks on his fur
Because men like John Power. I think of how many hours it took for him to die
Men like John Bitten by a rabid animal, twitching on the asphalt
They don’t exist these days. As far as I can tell. COUNCIL CHAIRMAN So. Many. Hours.
And? And a child will find it one day
WOMAN ONE Breathless and still
So there was this little kitten. COUNCILMAN TWO A child who belonged to it.
Benevolence. And it will be my fault.
WOMAN TWO I’d like to dedicate this thing
You shouldn’t touch those I swear to God, Nina got rabies from one COUNCIL CHAIRMAN To that cocker because
of those kittens. And? I want to be redeemed.
m a r c h 25, 2010 t h e i n dy. o r g
4:30PM Critical Mass Bike Ride @ the Atwells Ave. Pineapple // so, so free
7PM The Manton Avenue Project presents YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME! (written
by elementary schoolers, cast with adult actors) thru March 28 @ The Met,
325 Public Street // $
8PM Brown New Music plays a live score to Fellini’s “Juliet of the Spirits” @
Grant Recital Hall // free
11PM-2AM Lovelife! w/ DJs Morgan Louis, Christopher Wade, & iThug @ Local
121, 121 Washington St. // $0, but 21+

11AM-2PM Springtime Farmer’s Market @ Hope Artiste Village, 1005 Main St.,
Pawtucket // delish farm fresh treats
1-4PM Free for all Saturday: Everyday Marvels @ RISD Museum of Art, Chace
Lobby // it’s free for all
8PM Midnight Creeps, Unnatural Axe, the McGunks, & Meat Depressed @ Club
Hell, 73 Richmond St. // $7
SUN MARCH 28 9AM-3:30PM Egg Hunt Safari @ Roger Williams Park Zoo, 1000 Elmwood Ave. // $12
6PM “The Third Thing”: Performances for/about/in collaboration with four pairs of lovers, friends
8PM Brown New Music plays a live score to Jim Henson’s “The Dark Crystal” @ Grant and family members @ AS220 // free
Recital Hall // free 8PM Deer Tick @ Firehouse XIII, 41 Central St. // $15
9PM “The Life of the World to Come” @ the Cable Car, 204 S. Main St. // $5:::door prize=poster signed
WED MARCH 31 by John Darnielle
9PM Dark Dark Dark, Uke Of Spaces Corners, David Wax Museum, & Tik Tok @
AS220, 115 Empire St. // $7
9PM Sword Heaven, VVLTVRE, SHV, & Russian Tsarlag @ Mars Gas, Olneyville // $5
8PM Wilco @ Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel, 79 Washington St. // already sold out
8PM Brown New Music plays a live score to Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” @ Grant
Recital Hall // free
8:30PM Bellows, Holy Sheet, Normal Love, Diana Joy, Whore Paint, & “The Bunny
7PM Campfire Talk: The Los Angeles Urban Rangers Enact the Megalopolis @ John
Nicholas Brown Center, 357 Benefit St. // free

9PM Closing event for the 2010 Palestinian Film Series: “The Time That Re-
mains” by Elia Suleiman @ The Avon, 260 Thayer St. // free

4PM “Responsibility, Relief, & Recovery in Chile and Haiti”: a talk with Ri-
cardo Lagos, former president of Chile @ the Watson Institute, Joukowsky
Forum // free
6:30PM Casey Shearer Memorial Lecture: “A View From Washington” with Mara
Liasson—you know her voice from the radio @ Salomon 101 // free
9PM Brendan Murray, Perispirit, Area C, & Work/Death @ Building 16 // $5
10PM Un Saddest Factory Theatre: Showbeast presents “At the End of The In-
finite” & “The Title Sounded Better in French”; PG13 presents a mysterious
experimental grabbag @ AS220 //$6


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