the col l ege hi l l

i ndepende nt
Brown buyouts | 4
Foto Fiction | 9
Cigarettes | 11
Sondheim | 14
the brown/ ri sd weekly | March 25, 2010 | VoluMe XX i ssue Vi i
“no, i know who Margaret Tatcher is, but i really don’t see the
resemblance. Maybe if you’d gotten a parakeet?” -pg. 9
the college hi ll i ndependent March 25, 2010
table of contents froM the edi tors
Managing Editors: Erin Schikowski,
Kat Stoefel, Alex Verdolini
News: Marisa Calleja, Beatrice Igne-
Bianchi, Marguerite Preston
Metro: Rachel Levenson, Katie Lindstedt,
Jesse Strecker, George Warner
Opinions: Jordan Carter, Eli Schmitt
Features: Alexandra Corrigan, Alice Hines, Katie
Jennings, Hannah Sheldon-Dean, Laura Tsunoda
Arts: Ryan Wong, Erik Font
Literary: Kaela Myers, Rachel Sanders
Science: Sam Dean, Nupur Shridhar
Sports: Simon van Zuylen-Wood
Food: Nick Werle
X Page: Gillian Brassil
List: Lola Bates-Campbell, Margo Irvin
Mega Porn Star: Raphaela Lipinsky
Cover Editor: Emily Martin
Illustrations: Samantha Ballardini, Drew Foster, Becca
Levinson, Emily Martin, Robert Sandler
Design: Robin Davis, Liat Werber, Yue Pang,
Natalie Uduwela, Joanna Zhang
Web: Daniela Postigo, Adam Zethraeus
New Media: Kate Welsh
Senior Editors: Nick Greene, Simone Landon,
Margo Irvin, Miguel Morales, Emily Segal
Staf Writers: Malcolm Burnley, Emily
Gogolak, Eran Hornick, Corrie Tan
Staf Illustrators: Paola Eisner, Jessica Daly,
Amanda Greenberg, Isabel Khoo
Cover: Pook Panyarachun
MVP: Joanna Zhang
Twitter: @maudelajoie
Te College Hill Independent
PO Box 1930
Brown University
Providence RI 02912
get i n touch
as i f you care
week i n reVi ew
Quick and dirty
Mc, es, Bi-B, aZFg
Forgive them their sins
news editors
brown sells out
Employees bought out or laid of
chris suh
Vi si onary & Vi treous
Empty storefronts made public art
Katie lindstedt
brai nstorM
Weatherization funds go unspent
alexandra corriga
sci ence educati on
Blast or bust?
nupur shridhar
teXt + i Mage
An inspired exchange
John Fisher & fans
ci gs r 4 ki ds
Silly legislators
eli schmitt
sweet nothi ngs
Talk and Te Bachelor
hannah sheldon-dean
Vi si ons of j oanna
Joanna Newsom in Cambridge
Katie lindstedt
Megaporn deVi ces
Missing Link
raphaela lipinsky
he felt pretty
Report from Sondheim gala
Matt Weinstock
thi nk about li fe
Talk about life on tour
eli schmitt
ncaa hi ts pVd
Notes from the Dunk
emmett Fitzgerald

fashi on week bests
Hint: not the clothes
sue ding
A play
Max posner

This might be giving it too much credit, but Rhode
Island is best known for being the smallest and lowest-lying
state. So take pride in its storied populist tradition, which
has long emphasized individual liberties over stifling big
government. Roger Williams founded Providence on the
principle. Later, Rhode Island was the last colony to ratify
the Constitution. And in one of America’s seminal suffrage
battles, Thomas Dorr tried to reform the state’s constitution
by mandating that all men be granted voting rights, regard-
less of property qualifications.
Since then, Slater Mill, Hasbro Toys, and Pauly D have
cemented Rhode Island’s credo of unfettered entrepre-
neurialism, which, at the expense of the state, has been
Governor Donald Carcieri’s seven-year M.O. Populism for
Carcieri and so many other Reagan-molded Republicans
means irresponsible deregulation instead of basic rights.
When Carcieri took the oath of office in 2003, RI
unemployment stood at 5.3 percent, a point below the
national average. Today, at 12.9 percent, it’s the third-
highest in the country, three points above the national
average. Tuesday at the Capitol, Carcieri gave his final State
of the State Address, and with a straight face called for tax
cuts, a jobs bill, and a reduction in the state’s $400 million
budget deficit.
“We need to reclaim our birthright as a hotbed for busi-
ness revolution,” Carcieri said. “Just as it did over a century
ago when Rhode Island—Rhode Island—had the highest
per capita wealth of any state, our economy once again will
rise on the tide of an entrepreneurial revolution.”
With the landmark bill passed and signed this week,
a projected 140,000 uninsured Rhode Islanders can be
more optimistic about getting medical help than the
state’s 73,000 unemployed can about getting jobs. In the
immediate future, the federal government will provide
tax credits for small businesses, which will allow them to
provide health insurance to more employees. But by 2014,
Rhode Island will be fronting half the cost—between $100
and $150 million annually—of getting the uninsured on
Medicaid, and it may have to provide subsidies for those
who are ineligible. A Feburary study led by Lt. Governor
Elizabeth Roberts estimated that if every Rhode Islander
were insured, they would incur an additional $123 million
per year in spending to find better and more frequent care.
Engraved on the Internal Revenue Service building in
Washington is the Oliver Wendell Holmes quote: “Taxes
are what we pay for a Civilized Society.” Never mind the
IRS jihadist who lived free or died last month. America
and Rhode Island are moving forward, misappropriated
‘birthright’ be damned. US Representative Jim Langevin,
who is paralyzed from the waist down, put aside his pro-
choice reservations to vote for health care reform. His fellow
congressman Patrick Kennedy spoke with passion about
finally realizing his father’s dream.
The cause endures, the hope still lives, and taxes will stay
high. Sorry, but that’s what we get for calling our state drink
I was a little disappointed at the results of the el-
ephant polo championships.
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.
But after beating the very popular all women’s
team, the Spice Girls, in the semi-final, Choegyal had
to return to Thailand on urgent business. That opened
the door for Nepal’s National Parks team to beat An-
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
his shirt for good luck. It didn’t help his team, but I
think you’ve just scored big.
Elephant Polo Shirt (No. 2640). Made of a soft
9 oz. cotton pique with contrast color side insets,
contrast trim fabric at front placket, neck band and
interior back yoke.
Even the slits are accented. Real shell buttons.
Exactly what you’d expect to find at an elephant polo
March 25, 2010 thei ndy. org
no Man’ s onan
Movie theater–style masturbating for cash-strapped Belgians
may now be a treat rather than a typical weeknight. Last
Tursday, the European Court of Justice ruled that Erotic
Center, a sex shop that boasts coin-operated movie cubicles,
is not an actual cinema.
Therefore, it does not qualify for the reduced sales tax rate
of six percent. Establishments that qualify for the reduced
rate must be “available to the public on prior payment of an
admission fee giving all those who pay it the right collectively
to enjoy the cultural and entertainment services.” The store
and “cinema” owner argued that his Bruges-based business is
like your run of the mill movie theatre; it lets patrons pay to
please themselves, that is to say “watch,” one or more porno-
graphic features, that is to say “movies.”
In an age where privacy is dwindling, the fight for sub-
sidized solo sessions is admirable. Unfortunately for both
the shop and its theatre goers, the standard tax levied on the
sexy cinematic experience is now a whopping 21 percent.
Even more upsetting for Erotic Center, the store’s owner
must compensate Belgian tax authorities for the evaded
payments (about $68,000) plus corresponding fines. Is the
personal cubicle worth the increase? Perhaps knocking down
all the walls to create a “collective” space where all can reap
the “entertainment services” could qualify for the reduced
rate. For the time being, cubicle goers on a budget may be
better off dimming their bedroom lights and streaming one
or more movies—no coins required—from their laptops. Or
continue to support their local porno theatre for all the good

“Bone Brother Wel-
coMe yoU! ! ”
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
long-dreaded departure from Te Mainland, leaving a nation
of weepy and defant Chinese netizens in its wake. 
Google’s retreat to relatively free (though still China-
controlled) Hong Kong came more than two months after
the California-based company went toe-to-toe with the
Chinese government over hacking attacks originating from
government-controlled colleges. They were aimed at foreign
journalists and human rights groups.
On China’s Twitter-like underground social media sites,
microbloggers posted messages including a “Welcome
Google” song, in which the authors demand that “Everyone
sing together!” or, according to Google Translate, “Bone
Brother welcome you, for your epoch-making/ Freedom,
the search is full of vitality!”  (“Bone brother” is a Chinese
homophone for Google.) Google, apparently deaf to the
impassioned lyrical summons, posted a banner on its new
Hong Kong-based webpage declaring, “Welcome to Google
China’s new home,” firmly marking its exodus.
Google claims this latest move is in line with its motto
“Don’t be evil.” But an anonymous Chinese Internet user
who asked to be called Cathy saw things differently: “I think
that Google is just a tool of the US government,” she said. “It
doesn’t have the right to make these choices itself.”  China,
ladies and gentlemen.

seX so loUd
i t’ s i llegal

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
make whoopee to make up for the rest of you.


sUpercali Fragi li s-
ti c- eXpect- to-
cheat- adoci oUs 
So just a spoonful of sugar makes… you into an incorrigible
That’s what a British psychiatrist is arguing in his new
book. Dennis Friedman wrote in The Unsolicited Gift: Why
We Do What We Do that boys who grew up with a nanny
will get used to the idea that a woman outside of his family
could satisfy all of his needs. 
The 85 year-old shrink told The Daily Telegraph, that as a
result of having a nanny, a young boy “grows up with the idea
that although he will one day go through all the social and
sexual formalities of marriage, he will have at the back of his
mind the notion of this other woman, who not only knows,
but caters for, all his needs.”
Dispelling the notion that having a nanny is all flying
kites, kooky accents, and letting mom have a career [ha!],
Friedman stresses that it really is a more dangerous social set-
up that previously imagined. If you don’t want your son to
spend the rest of his life looking for a little something on the
side with someone who looks like Scarlett Johansson in The
Nanny Diaries, moms should stay home during the crucial
first year, Friedman says.
Not to be outdone—or, you know, sexist—Friedman also
wrote that baby girls who do not see their mothers enough as
infants will be forever marked with a “vacuum of need” that
they will try to fill with drugs, sex, and money.
It’s enough to make you think twice about letting cheery
Brits with flying umbrellas and bottomless carpetbags into
your home.
week i n reVi ew
b y Mar i s a c al l e j a, aaron gans , e r i n s chi kows k i , and b e at r i ce i gne - b i anchi
i l l us t r at i on b y b e cc a l e V i ns on
the college hi ll i ndependent March 25, 2010
atoneMent | 3
he Catholic Church is in the midst of a scandal.
Priests have been messing around with kids—not
just once or twice, not just here and there, but
everywhere and for a long time. In the past year, people
from all over the world have come forward with accusa-
tions of sexual abuse that date as far back as the ’70s. Up
until recently, priests and bishops have done their best to
cover things up, smooth things over and maintain their
holy image. Te Pope himself, in fact, while he was still a
Cardinal, was a major player in these cover-ups in Germany,
dealing with accusations by simply reassigning the ofending
priests to diferent cities. Te church, after all, had a reputa-
tion to uphold. But just in 2010, 300 people have made
allegations of sexual abuse against priests in Germany, and
another 200 in the Netherlands, as well as countless others
everywhere from Austria to the US. On top of that, the Irish
fled two reports last year of investigations that documented
widespread and longstanding abuse within the Catholic
Church. With more and more victims breaking their silence,
the Catholic Church has had to act. So last Saturday Pope
Benedict XVI did what we all learn in elementary school is
second only to please and thank you: he said “I’m sorry.”
    Tis particular apology was addressed specifcally to the
Catholic Church of Ireland, in response to those reports of
the Irish government and to new scandal: the revelation that
the current head of the Irish Catholic church, Cardinal Sean
Brady was present at a meeting where child victims signed
vows of silence about their abuse by a priest. Forget repara-
tions, forget punishment, forget concrete measures. We’re
talking about a good old-fashioned formal letter of apology.
It is an art that is all but lost, but the Pope has clearly dem-
onstrated his mastery. He covers all the bases of the classic
apology, from the generically heartfelt remorse: “You have
sufered grievously and I am truly sorry. I know that noth-
ing can undo the wrong you have endured” to the reminder
to keep things in perspective: “It is in the communion of
the Church that we encounter the person of Jesus Christ,
who was himself a victim of injustice and sin. Like you, he
still bears the wounds of his own unjust sufering.” He also
supplied some noncommittal solutions (or “concrete initia-
tives,” according to him): “I ask you,” he wrote, “to ofer
up your fasting, your prayer, your reading of Scripture and
your works of mercy in order to obtain the grace of heal-
ing and renewal for the Church in Ireland.” And fnally,
of course, there is what no good apology letter should be
without: the part where you describe how what you did re-
ally wasn’t that bad, given the circumstances. Explaining the
decades of cover-ups of sexual abuse, Pope Benedict wrote:
“[T]here was a well-intentioned but misguided tendency to
avoid penal approaches to canonically irregular situations.”
    With the proper word choice and sufcient groveling, the
successful letter of apology is the ultimate get-out-of-jail-free
card. We all learned that in elementary school too: if you
say you’re sorry, they pretty much have to accept it. As long
as you say it like you mean it. So, to take a page out of the
Pope’s book (or seven-page letter as the case may be), here
are a few more apologies that could have (should have) hap-
pened this week. Now see, don’t you all feel so much better?
p ub l i c
ap ol ogi e s
b y Mar i s a c al l e j a, b e at r i ce i gne - b i anchi ,
Mar gue r i t e p r e s ton
i l l us t r at i on b y rob e rt s andl e r
Dear Gabby Sidibe,
I didn't think I was being insensitive when I called
you «morbidly obese» and said that it will afect your
career, but I now see my error. I failed to acknowledge
that you are an Academy Award-nominated actress
with an upcoming stint on Laura Linney's new HBO
show, and I make exercise videos in my own home for
My regrets,
Susan Powter, 90's weight loss guru

Dear Sandra Bullock,
I've apologized already, but I'd like to stress how I'm
sorry I am that I cheated on you with a suspected
white supremacist who claims the “WP” tatooed on
her legs stands for “wet pussy,” not “white power.” I'm
sorry that aforementioned suspected white suprema-
cist waited to tell the media until after you won an
Oscar for that movie you made that cured racism. 
Your Vanilla Gorilla (or is that what she called me?),
Jesse James
Dear Justin Bieber,
We would like to extend our sincere apologies for
bumping you of Twitter's top trending topic spot after
passing our landmark healthcare reform legislation. We
understand that it coincided with your album coming
out. We speak for all Americans when we say that the
United States does not bare ill will towards baby-faced
Canadian pop stars or the lesbian-look-alike blogs they
Best wishes,
The Congress of the United States
Dear America,
I'm sorry I didn't check to see if the microphones were
on before I whispered to Barack that the healthcare
insurance reform bill is «a big fucking deal.» But just
so you know, it is.
Joe Biden

Dear Representative Stupak,
I’m sorry I interrupted you the other night during the
debate over the health care reform bill (did that actu-
ally pass? remind me later). I just want you to know
that when I shouted BABY KILLER at you, I wasn’t
talking about you in particular. I would never call you
personally a BABY KILLER. I know you haven’t physi-
cally killed any babies since you are not a practicing
MD. It’s just that I really thought we were on the same
page. You gave me hope that some Democrats really
do care about the unborn/the future of the Republican
party. So you’ll understand that I was disappointed.
But in the heat of the moment…well, just talk to Joe
Wilson. He understands what I mean.
Rep. Randy Neugebauer, Texas

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
for those liberals. BABY KILLERS. 

Dear sei whales both deceased and living, 
All of us at Hump Restaurant in Santa Monica ex-
tend our apologies to the sei whales who endured our
poaching, and those who are living and witnessed the
murderous acts. Sorry. But, you know how Los Ange-
les works. We needed to prepare you and your brethren
as sashimi in order to keep our business thriving (lots
of sushi restaurants in SoCal). Lucky for the rest of
you, team morality—the women of the animal-loving
documentary Te cove—stepped in, and now you can
all live—the few of you left—as a beloved endangered
species. At least someone is on your side. 
Deepest sympathies, 
The establishment formerly known as Hump Res-
taurant Santa Monica, CA
PS: Sorry to all you horses too. Apparently it's not legal
to serve your fesh either. But no one made a docu-
mentary about it, so. If it makes you feel better, we
charged the same thing for you and the whales. Know-
ing your fesh is worth 85 bucks a serving has gotta be
worth something, right?
March 25, 2010 thei ndy. org
Metro | 4
arly in the morning of November 4, 2009, all Brown
University employees on the staf listserv received an
email from Beppie Huidekoper, the Executive Vice
President for Finance and Administration. It began, “I am
pleased to announce that Brown will ofer a voluntary retire-
ment incentive for eligible staf members.” Te next week,
some 250 staf members went home to fnd large envelopes
waiting for them. Tey had until December 23 to sign and
mail back the retirement contract, though if they sent it
within seven weeks, they were given two more to change
their minds.
139 staff members, over 50 percent of those eligible,
chose to take the incentive. In February, the Brown Daily
Herald called the option, “popular,” and Huidekoper said
in an interview with the Herald that “[the] individuals who
chose to take it are really quite pleased.”
After speaking to several employees who accepted it,
however, the buyout appears to have aroused a broader range
of reactions. One woman said she was pleased, but others
(“Jenny,” “Erin,” “Estelle,” “Mike,” and “Maud”) responded
differently. Maud, an employee of 20-plus years, felt the
exact opposite: “They told us to take the early retirement
package and go away.”
the deal
According to the ofcial Brown and the Economy website,
the early retirement program was “part of the University’s
overall defcit reduction strategy.” After the University’s en-
dowment declined by $740 million (or 26 percent) between
July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009, Brown sought to reduce
a projected defecit of $30 million for fscal year 2011. Te
university charged the Organizational Review Commit-
tee (ORC) with the task of “identifying opportunities for
improved efciency and cost reduction through administra-
tive restructuring.” Te employee buyout was intended to
help the University by reducing “compensation costs” and
creating “additional vacancies to be used in the redesign of
[Brown’s] administrative structures.” In return, the buyouts
would “assist eligible staf employees achieve their personal
retirement goals.” Other universities with larger endow-
ments, such as Dartmouth and Harvard, also ofered similar
early retirement incentives in 2009.
To be eligible, Brown employees must meet two criteria
by June 30, 2010: they must be 60 years or older, and they
must have continuously worked fulltime at Brown for at least
10 years. They must be union members or staff members of
wage grade 13 or below.
Wage grades range from one to 15, and the average sala-
ries for grades one to 13 range from $24,000 to $126,000
per year. Staff members through grade 13 include dining
service workers, department secretaries, custodians, librar-
ians, and administrative workers in J. Walter Wilson—basi-
cally all employees excluding faculty members and high-level
The early-retirement package includes a lump sum of
a year’s salary and $15,000, in addition to the employee’s
regular pay through his or her last day of work. Maud feels
this is not enough: “It’s not the same as working another
year.” She said that all that money would be considered her
2010 income, which meant that, next spring, she would pay
more taxes than usual, much more than if she was working
in 2011.
Two other “buyouts” joined Maud in an interview. “You’re
rich for a little, then you’re poor for the rest,” added Estelle,
a Brown employee of fifteen years. Erin, who has worked
for almost twenty years, grinned at Estelle’s comment, then
exclaimed, “We need a sugar daddy!” “I have a sugar son,”
Estelle responded. This summer, she will be moving into his
house. The move, however, is bittersweet: “I’m gonna move
in with my son, pay him half of what I pay now, and that’ll
help him because he’s been out of work for a year.”
should i stay or shoudl i go
Why take the buyout? After all, the buyout package bears the
name “Voluntary Staf Retirement Incentive” (VSRI).
“We’re taking it because it’s the lesser of the two evils,” Maud
explained. “Rumors went around. Tere would be more
Another staff member told a similar story. Mike, a veteran
staffer of 40 years, said he and his colleagues talked about
layoffs before the University announced the buyout: “The
impression was that if you didn’t take the buyout you would
be laid off.” Last spring, the University laid off 31 workers
and eliminated 36 positions that had been vacant at the time.
On Monday, Beppie Huidekoper and David Kertzer, the
Provost, announced in an untitled mass email to staff and
faculty that “approximately 60 filled positions [would] be
eliminated” on July 1. This was exactly the kind of email that
employees were afraid of, and the fear motivated many staff
members to take the buyout. Mike presented the case of one
his coworkers as an illuminating example: “There’s a woman
who has worked here for 40 years. If she gets laid off, she’s
a nobody. It doesn’t matter if she worked here for 40 years.
At least if you’re retired, you get a Brown ID that says, ‘Re-
tired.’ You can flash it at someone when you need to.” Two
of Mike’s colleagues initially had qualms about taking the
buyout, but he eventually convinced them to follow his lead.
There exist, of course, employees who took the buyout
gratefully, and they took it for different reasons. Sixty-two
year-old Jenny, who has been here for 21 years—nine part
time then 12 fulltime—said it offered her an opportunity to
do a lot of things she couldn’t do while working. For the past
12 years, five times a week, she has left her house at quarter
of eight and has gone home at six. “That doesn’t leave a lot
of time to do anything,” she remarked. At the top of her list
is deepening friendships. “I’m about to begin the last third of
my life,” she said, “and I’m looking forward to an open, free,
unprogrammed life.”
A major reason why Jenny took the buyout was that it
would allow her to enjoy that unprogrammed life without
worrying about being able to afford health care. One of the
highlights of the incentive is that for employees under 65,
Brown will contribute $83 per month toward their health
care while letting them continue on their current medical
coverage until they become eligible for Medicare. Jenny’s
husband will turn 65 in October. Considering her plan
through Brown will cost $519.49 per month, $83 per month
isn’t much. She is happy she won’t have to get independent
insurance for herself, which would cost twice as much. Mak-
ing the incentive more attractive, the $15,000 will pay for
“almost three years” of her insurance cost. In addition, the
University, according to Jenny, has been “extraordinarily gen-
erous” with its contribution toward her 403(b) retirement
savings plan. The Human Resources website states that, if
an employee was hired before 2001, she can contribute two
percent of her gross income toward the plan so that Brown
would contribute 10 percent until she turns 55, then 12
percent till she retires.
Jenny said that she was pleased with the incentive, but
she also confessed, “There is elation on one side [but it is]
bittersweet on the other.” She explained, “The point of the
buyout contract is that you sign away your right to work at
Brown ever again, not even as an outside contractor.” Jenny
would have worked three more years had the incentive not
been offered, but the contract states that recipients of the
incentive may work at Brown in the future but for no more
than 60 days per calendar year. And for 60 days following
the date of their retirement, they may not work here, either.
If they want a fulltime job, they can no longer find one with
the third largest employer in the Providence area. They need
to find it elsewhere.
According to the Rhode Island Department of Labor and
Training, 73,172 people—12.7 percent of the state’s entire
labor force—remained unemployed as of February 2010.
Until the unemployment rate leveled off in January 2010, it
had continuously risen since April 2007, when it had been
at 4.9 percent.
holdi n’ out
Although Jenny has the option to retire on April 15, she will
work through commencement and leave on June 30, as will
Maud, Estelle, and Erin. Maud, even as she criticized the
buyout, made it clear that she enjoyed working at Brown. “I
love what I do,” she said.
Mike will be leaving earlier. “I would have taken January 1,
actually,” he chuckled. “I wasn’t ready to leave here. But I
think I made the right choice.”
The only staff member who is known to be absolutely
thrilled about the buyout is a woman who’d planned on retir-
ing in June before the email went out on November 4. For
her, according to Jenny, it “felt like winning a lottery.” For
those who had planned to work a little longer, taking the
buyout could only be less than exciting.
During the interview with Maud, Estelle, and Erin, a
man who had been listening from afar came over and in-
troduced himself as Jack. He had been offered the incentive
but refused to take it. “I’ve been here for 12 years, and I’ve
been grade three the whole time. They don’t look at us down
there,” he said as he smiled. If the University lays him off, it
will save a maximum of $31,000 it would have to pay for
his salary. Jack felt confident he would keep his job. “My
boss will back me up,” he said as he made his way back to
work. After he left, Maud said his boss had been offered the
incentive but had not accepted it either.
The March 22 email announcing the impending layoffs
of 60 staff members stated that those individuals would be
informed “over the course of the next few weeks.” Jack and
his boss will soon know whether they will be invited back to
work here next year.
chri s suh b ’ 10 is currently completing his senior
thesis on the WPA Writers’ Project during the Great De-
b ought out
BroWn Uni versi ty staFF grapple Wi th early reti reMent opti on
b y chr i s s uh
o two of the nine windows that comprise Provi-
dence Art Windows’ 2010 Spring Installation
Series are alike. From March 18 to June 10, the
streets of downtown Providence will act as a metropolitan
museum. Its collection ranges from abstract oil paintings to
an intricate sundial—multiple layers of dangling light bulbs
on Eddy Street that cast dynamic shadows against a wall,
their elliptical shapes shifting slightly throughout the day.
Providence Art Windows (PAW), which features four
installation series per year, is one of several public art proj-
ects in Providence that have recently challenged traditional
conceptions of a museum. These projects have emerged as
improvisational transformations of vacant spaces into galler-
ies and murals and as urban incarnations of l’art pour l’art,
public projects that supplement the city’s lack of an extensive
museum culture. Though Providence is home to the Rhode
Island School of Design Museum, southern New England’s
largest museum, its high density of galleries, art students, and
independent artists has created what current PAW director
and fiber artist Rebecca Simering called a “DIY aesthetic.”
downturns and deXteri ty
Elizabeth Keithline started Art Windows in 2007 as an ongo-
ing public art project that flls downtown Providence’s empty
retail spaces with art installations and provides visitors and
locals with visual stimulation. Siemering became the proj-
ect’s director in June of 2008. Te Providence Foundation,
an organization dedicated to the economic revitalization
of Providence, oversees PAW’s funding—a combination of
private donations and public grants.
According to Dan Baudouin, Executive of the Providence
Foundation, the vacant storefronts of Providence Art Win-
dows are not the former displays of foreclosed businesses, but
empty spaces with activity in the rooms behind them—the
properties of cooperative owners.
An exception is the Kresge Building, which has been va-
cant for 20 years. Its storefront serves as one of the spring se-
ries’ windows and has featured installations in previous years.
“It’s really not a part of the economic downturn,” Baudouin
explained. “It just needed a reuse.”
Providence Art Windows features a core set of windows
in every seasonal series, including those of Trinity Rep and
Rhode Island Housing, mere blocks apart on Washington
Street. Siemering referenced these two installations as the
pieces whose content most closely mirrors its setting.
“Trinity Rep likes a little bit of drama in their window,”
she said, “Vibrant colors.”
Madolin Maxey’s “Treasured Objects” is a vibrant work
indeed, with five oil paintings of personified teapots rendered
through bold brush strokes and bright colors.
The installation featured in the window of downtown
advocacy group Rhode Island Housing was also thematically
linked to its momentary home; “Reconstructing Providence”
displays Jean Cozzens’ silkscreen prints of Providence’s In-
dustrial Trust Building.
Baudouin noted that the project hasn’t fully explored the
possibilities of urban dispossession as the artist’s canvas. He
referenced statistics of downtown buildings’ vacancy rates.
Five years ago, the rate was at 27 percent. Two and a half
years ago, it had decreased to 11 percent but currently rests
at 16 percent.
“Maybe there are more opportunities to work with those
buildings,” he said.
Both Baudouin and Simering acknowledge that the proj-
ect’s artistic displays and activation of downtown Providence
remain its primary purposes.
“It creates a circuit for people to walk and notice the
beautiful architecture of downtown Providence in less than
an hour,” Simering said.
The layering of art upon the blank slates of vacant lots
brings to mind current and past practices of Cornish Associ-
ates and the Smith Hill Community Development Corpora-
Last fall, the Smith Hill CDC commissioned local artists
to paint murals on the walls of foreclosed homes to deter
graffiti while the Corporation completes its renovations of
the properties.
The Providence real estate company Cornish Associates
provides local artists with spaces for galleries and weekend
exhibits. According to Cornish developer Joanna Levitt,
some downtown commercial spaces that the company owns
have transformed into galleries in the brief interim between
the expiration of their old leases and the start of new ones.
One such space served as the site of RISD artists’ Black Sheep
Projects’ opening event on March 18. The company’s part-
nership with local artists traveled by word of mouth, Levitt,
who receives phone calls from artists on a weekly basis, said.
proVi dence’ s Many aVenues of art
Providence Art Windows is one example of the many ways
in which local artists have transformed the urban landscape
into a canvas.
The Steel Yard, a local nonprofit, transformed the former
Providence Steel and Iron complex into an industrial arts
facility, which provides artists with working space and an
education center offering classes in welding, blacksmithing,
ceramics, jewelry, glass casting, and the foundry arts. It also
offers studio rentals and open studio sessions.
In the years since the Steel Yard’s 2001 founding, the
organization has transformed into a community of artists
from many professional backgrounds: students, automobile
specialists, visual artists, and tradesmen. Their collabora-
tions—public and private ventures alike—explore the inter-
play between industrial trades and visual arts.
One such collaboration is Hire the Yard, an ongoing
public project in which the Steel Yard works with artists,
vendors, and representatives of local industry to produce
functional public sculptures. Specific projects have included
uniquely designed bike racks, custom-made tree guards, and
one-of-a-kind trashcans and recycling bins. The Steel Yard
has distributed these products throughout Providence—in
Smith Hill and Olneyville, and at the Roger Williams
Park—as well as other Rhode Island cities and southern New
England locations.
Hire the Yard depicts the art in industry—Nate Nadeau’s
India Point Park pieces are trash receptacles with nautical im-
agery—and the industry in art, as the trash can artists use the
techniques of sandblasting, powder coating, and laser cut-
ting. Where the industry ends and the art begins—or where
the art ends and the industry begins—remains ambiguous.
While private art projects have also transformed industrial
objects into art (the Museum of Modern Art in New York
frequently exhibits installations of household objects), public
art like Hire the Yard is unique in its ability to imbue these
transformed objects with additional social significance. The
trashcans are frequently born of recycled materials, which has
additional resonance in light of the function these ‘installa-
tions’ serve on a daily basis. Howie Sneider—who runs the
Public Projects for the Steel Yard, and whose Providence
Art Windows installation is currently on display on Eddy
Street—wrote in the Agenda, “These trash cans are unique
projects that become unique objects, and they are cultural
landmarks: ‘Go down Smith Street and make a left at that
weird trash can with the state house cut of out it.’ ”
the coMMon cri ti cs
“Rudimentary Channels” by Illinois and California-based
p ro- V i s i onary p roV i de nce
provi dence art Wi ndoWs i llUMi nate UrBan scene
b y k at i e l i nds t e dt
p hotogr ap hs b y aV e ry hous e r
artist Jason Chakravorty received mixed reviews last Saturday.
Te Providence Art Windows installation, one of two in the
double storefront of the Kresge Building at 191 Westminster,
features an arch of empty US Postal crates that hovers over
a cluster of the corrugated plastic crates, some of which are
illuminated. Te arch descends into an accordion-like semi-
circle of the layered boxes.
“Oh, that is fresh,” 12 year-old Bryan shouted as he
caught a glimpse of Chakravorty’s crates, clutching a skate-
board while running across Westminster to examine what
caught his eye from afar.
Providence resident Mike, however, took offense at the
unconventional nature of both Chakravorty’s work and the
adjacent installation, an untitled piece by Valerie Kim. Kim’s
installation also features crates: red, blue, and green vessels of
VHS-copies of Star Wars and Psycho. Television sets of dif-
ferent sizes and conditions lie just to the right of the crates.
Mike referred to the two installations as “attempts at be-
ing artsy that fall really short. It’s mostly just a display against
previous culture that shows how unattractive anything old
His wife Cynthia disagreed. “I like it,” she said. “I think
it’s taking something that would be placed in a pile and mak-
ing it artsy—”
“—artsy fartsy, yeah,” Mike interjected.
Their exchange highlighted one paradox of public art: un-
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
unsuspecting spectator.
Siemering expanded on the museum-versus-street-setting
dichotomy. “When you’re working in a window,” she said,
referencing the PAW artists’ work process, “It’s one of the
most exciting things. You get immediate feedback; pedes-
trians will give you a thumb’s up. I always find that really
wonderful, and almost better than being in a museum or
gallery because you have an instant rapport with the public.”
MuseuM or MausoleuM?
Te relationship between museum and storefront in America
dates back to the birth of the department store in the late
19th century. In his paper “Museums, Merchandising, and
Popular Taste,” scholar Neil Harris discusses the close ties be-
tween museums, department store displays, and world fairs,
all of which served to exhibit commodities and infuence the
public’s taste. Harris notes that department stores competed
with the museum as “a display area for artifacts.” As early
as 1868, department store owners used artistic techniques
to tempt the shopper: “displays of furs and silks…frescoed
density of young artists.”
Ceglio noted that museums are a means of conferring
value upon art, though each museum is unique and thus
confers a different kind of value upon the works it houses.
Sometimes the sheer absence of a museum can validate a
work of art as well; she referenced the Steel Yard trashcans
as art that would lose its social power in a museum setting.
Some public art projects, like the Providence Art Win-
dows, have, in certain ways, resembled a museum, but mu-
seum practices frequently reverse this relationship. “We like
to associate museums with the idea of permanence. The flip
side of that is that they are then also associated with the idea
of being static,” Ceglio said. “But in contemporary times,
the temporary exhibition certainly [is] a means [that draws]
people to the museum.”
The lifespan of some PAW installations has surpassed
their time spent behind glass. Siemering noted that past
PAW artists have slightly altered the concept and scale of
their installations and either resubmitted or recreated the
works for other exhibitions. Occasionally the installations
are even curated before they challenge the concept of cura-
tion; some of the artists have shown their work, including
components of the installations, in museums prior to par-
ticipating in Providence Art Windows. Ceglio commented,
“That disrupts the inside-outside the museum construction
a little bit.”
While formally curated exhibitions and public art projects
have questioned—and perhaps undermined—distinctions
between their two spheres of art, there are certain values of
which neither world can claim sole ownership, transience in
As Simering said of the art windows project, “Because it’s
temporary, it’s more precious…it’s not something you forget.
Everyone notices it and it’s beautiful.”
Temporary museum exhibitions can also linger in the
minds of spectators, and perhaps challenge the notion of a
museum as permanent and distinct from the world of public
art projects. “A month in a window is certainly no more tem-
porary than a museum’s temporary exhibit,” Ceglio noted.
The Providence art scene almost makes it seem like a
burden to be permanently on display at the Met.
kati e li ndstedt b’ 11encourages anyone reading
this to submit his or her work for Providence Art Windows’
next installation series.
walls, [and] brilliant gas lighting.” John Cotton Dana, the
iconoclastic 19th century librarian and director of the New-
ark Museum even “[insisted] that the buying public learned
more about fne art from shop windows and travel than from
Like the lavish department store displays of decades past,
the storefronts of Providence Art Windows’ spring instal-
lations may have more in common with the museum than
initially meets the eye.
Clarissa Ceglio, a graduate student in Brown University’s
Department of American Civilization with research interests
in America’s museum culture and 20 years of experience in
the gallery world, challenged the notion that museums stand
in contradiction to public art.
“Providence’s primary institution that we call a museum
and recognize as a museum in the classical sense is the
RISD Museum,” she said. “But I think that what we have
in Providence is a more complex ecology [with] not only the
museum as an institution where art can be displayed, but
also a very rich and vibrant gallery community [and] a high
the college hi ll i ndependent March 25, 2010
Metro | 7
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. Te WAP was designed to lower energy
costs for low-income families by adding insulation, closing
leaks and holes in the building, and updating heating sys-
tems. In February 2010, Gregory Friedman, the US Depart-
ment of Energy Inspector General, announced “alarming”
fndings that many states had not spent their portion of $5
billion in ARRA funds for weatherization. He reported, “Te
job-creation impact of what was considered to be one of the
department’s most ‘shovel-ready’ projects has not material-
ized.” He revealed fve states’ energy departments, including
Rhode Island’s, reported no use of ARRA’s weatherization
funds, while continuing to fund older programs that simply
subsidized energy bills for low-income families. Architects
and constructors chimed in, complaining about months-
long delays while families waited for tax breaks.
Weatherization projects did increase, but not as fast as
funding. From 2001 to 2009, WAP used their normal fund-
ing of $1.1 to $2 million. Homes were weatherized from an
average of 90 per month before 2009, to 112 to 150 per
month in 2009. Still, $20 million of stimulus sumy went
unused. States were allowed to use 50 percent of the funds
of the stimulus package money before Congress outlined its
exact specifications over the course of the year, but RI didn’t
get around to them.
The Carcieri administration’s hesitation in spending $58
million in federal funding leaves little hope for the state’s
green economy. Amy Kempe, the Governor’s Office Spokes-
person, blamed delays on a complex “level of transparency
and accountability of reporting” outlined by the stimulus
package. “Some states started using the money pending the
rules and regulations, but from our perspective,” she said,
“we just thought it was more appropriate to wait.”
The stimulus package was ill-timed for the RI Office of
Energy Resources; two important staffers had recently de-
parted. To replace those members, as well as create positions
for additional staff, the office attempted to maneuver around
recession-caused hiring freezes and wage-estimating surveys
required by the Davis-Bacon Act.
After the state filed their annual report that stated none of
stimulus funds had been used in 2009, the Office of Energy
Resources hired Senate policy aide and energy policy veteran
Ken Payne to “ramp up” the programs. He came with the
entourage of a lawyer, an engineer, a policy expert, and a
website designer. In late February, he announced, “You’ll see
a lot coming out soon,” adding that 160 housing units were
weatherized in 2010 with ARRA funds.
dollars & sense
Weatherization is a simple process. First, an energy auditor
conducts an audit, which can involve infrared scanning of the
walls and roof and blower-door tests on wind resistance. RI’s
largest energy provider, National Grid, is required by law to
provide free audits for low-income residents. However, any-
one who has tried this can attest to the long waitlist. Next,
weatherization-specifc Community Action Program (CAP)
agencies evaluate energy systems (e.g. the age of the boiler,
type of light bulbs) and measure cost-efectiveness of replac-
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
walls and roofs. Te process costs an average of $6,500. For
a larger budget, weatherization can include better windows
or a complete overhaul of the boiler system. However, these
more advanced measures aren’t for the impatient; good win-
dows, for example, take 18 years to pay for themselves in
decreased energy bills.
The program works. Nationally, WAP returns $1.56 in
monetary benefits for every dollar spent in property values,
bill collection and service shut-offs. The Department of En-
ergy cites a $1:$2.73 ratio for cost to health, environmental,
social, and political benefits. The program, when implement-
ed, increases investment in local industries, national security
(read: oil dependence), and long-term environmental health.
Experts say the push for weatherizing will sooner come
from policy changes and tax incentives than individual fami-
lies taking initiative. If Congress agrees to sign onto global
CO2 reduction standards, residential energy usage–38 per-
cent of US greenhouse gas emissions–will have to change.
The market value inherent is seductive. Ninety percent of the
122 million houses in America are more than five years old
and so inefficient that they could not be built under today’s
energy standards.
spri ng greeni ng
RI homes are “ideally suited for building energy investments,”
according to Ross Stackhouse, a senior at Brown currently
writing his thesis on environmental eforts in Providence.
“Providence is a very old city, architecturally speaking,” he
said, and “the important thing is that homes are old and their
systems and walls have degraded over time, making them less
energy efcient.” However, state and local government, with
the fnancial capacity to fx some of the degradations, have
still had trouble speeding up their productivity.
For better or worse, this pace is remarkably slower than
private industry. Currently, only two programs train employ-
ees for CAP agencies in RI; CCRI and the Apeiron Institute
for Sustainable Living both teach Green Job Energy Efficient
Training. The demand for certified “green” employees has
increased beyond the rate of supply of institutions creating
those opportunities. “There have been scaling-up issues you’d
expect both in terms of administration and on the ground.
If you’re a CAP agency, you hear about a one-year stimulus,
you probably don’t want to hire somebody because of this
blip,” said John Farley, who represents the Energy Council
of Rhode Island. One can only predict how long this extra
funding will last, based on how efficient the programs will be
and how they are being perceived. Although waiting to set
up successful, efficient models has benefits, weatherization’s
reigning principle remains: as soon as possible.
States must walk a fine line when it comes to funding
energy efforts. An unbridled energy market could allow an-
other Enron debacle, but regulating the profits out of the
industry limits the research and development the environ-
ment needs. The most important piece of recent legislation
remains the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which granted tax
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
report by the RI Energy Efficiency Resource Management
Council (EERMC) will outline technical and economic
potential, “develop program designs and budgets […] and
refine policy recommendations.” This will change the future
of relationships among National Grid, the state govern-
ment, city government and CAPs. Changes made by these
institutions will affect architects, developers, construction
workers, educational environmental markets, and individual
homeowners. “What’s interesting is that people are looking
at this more systematically. When we see the report, we can
look at it and say now here’s how [energy in RI] looks, and
then they can tell us how long efforts might take [to become
sustainable],” said Farley.
energi zed coMMuni ti es
Te slow pace of RI’s government is alarming, especially con-
sidering the efects that lower energy bills or increased jobs
could have had in 2009. However, Kempe explained that the
state aims to weatherize 2,532 houses before the end of the
year. As most citizens consistently name the economy their
most important concern, the upcoming gubernatorial can-
didates will predictably address RI’s green economy. Beyond
rhetoric, however, an entire system of people will need to be
expanded and supported, from government administrators
to educators to construction employees. Te future of RI’s
economy (including energy prices) remains unpredictable,
but efective spending of this money shouldn’t be a mystery.
Some have proposed that WAP charge a small fee for
energy audits in order to incentivize follow-through so
families will actually install the insulation and caulk up
their heat leaks. Other suggestions have been to provide
programs for middle-class families or landlords to alter their
energy usage. For now, states have shown success in ramp-
ing up these programs using community-based marketing.
In Bridgeport, CT, for example, the largest utility company
temporarily hired underprivileged 18-23 year olds to market
free energy audits door-to-door. The increase in weatheriza-
tion was astounding. Maryli Secrest, who worked organizing
community marketing efforts in Bridgeport, provided some
perspective: “Its hard to get people to trust us, but once they
see that there is money to save them up to 40 percent on
their energy bill, they get pretty excited.”
aleXandra corri gan b’ 12 wanted to get
weatherized, but thought it more appropriate to wait.
dr i z z l e - down e conoMi cs
sti MUlUs Money For
Weatheri Zati on rots i n storage
b y al e Xandr a cor r i gan
i l l us t r at i on b y s aMant ha b al l ar di ni
March 25, 2010 thei ndy. org
Metro | 8
or most Rhode Islanders, the poor condition of the
state’s public education system is old news: not only do
kids drop out at alarmingly high rates, but most high
school graduates lack the math and science skills to pursue
rigorous and rewarding careers in these felds, whether as en-
gineers, computer programmers, or doctors. In the past few
years, however, Hope High School, the often controversial
hub of Providence’s public education system, has undergone
a dramatic change. Once known for its fst fghts, grafti,
and appallingly low test scores—in 2008, average SAT scores
were 900 points lower than Moses Brown’s, a private school
two blocks away—Hope High is now mellower, better f-
nanced, and, most importantly, flled with students who are
more eager than ever to learn math and science.
These improvements, which are not unique to Hope,
have been fostered by recent state-sponsored educational
reforms. Since assuming office in 2003, Governor Donald
Carcieri has implemented policies that provide more fund-
ing for math and science classrooms, comprehensive teacher
training, and support for students of all ages and abilities.
Yet what’s made Rhode Island’s success so remarkable is that
many of these reforms have been made off Capitol Hill by
mechanics, college students, and other layperson volunteers,
everyday  citizens looking to improve public education im-
mediately and permanently.
Greeneville local Joe Silva is one of these science enthusi-
asts. In the 1980s, Silva owned Silvacross Corp., a small tech
company that made robotic equipment for law enforcement
purposes. His early machines scanned license plates and es-
tablished security perimeters, but his most successful design
was Aexeous (ax-EE-us), a twelve-foot-tall alienesque robot
that’s been winning over elementary and middle schoolers
since 1996, when Silva began to take his creation out on edu-
cational tours in an effort to “inspire students to be creative,
stay in school, and promote excitement and more interest in
their science, math, and technology classes.” Despite Aex-
eous’s intimidating claws and heavy steel ribbing, kids are
immediately and instinctively curious about what makes
this robot move, shake, and emit electric growls. At a recent
demonstration in Hampstead, NH, excited students stood
up and cheered as Aexeous stretched himself to his full height
and then bombarded Silva with questions about the solar
panels and hydrogen fuel cells that make his machine one
of the cleanest in the country. His highly successful hands-
on approach cuts right to the heart of the matter: instead of
spewing dry facts and figures, Silva gets students excited by
showing them exactly how cool, how much larger-than-life,
science can actually be.
Other Rhode Islanders are working to excite older
students, like those attending the University of Rhode Is-
land’s Science and Math Investigative Learning Experiences
(SMILE), an educational program that brings high school
students from Central Falls, Coventry, North/South Kings-
town, Pawtucket, West Warwick, and Woonsocket to URI’s
campus for a weekend of hands-on biotechnology. The stu-
dents work with undergraduate mentors and take full advan-
tage of resources unavailable to them in their public schools:
they learn how to use pipettes, work with microscopes, oper-
ate underwater robots, and culture their own cells. It’s a fas-
cinating and valuable experience, one that’s readily accessible
to many Rhode Island students, but it’s also an expensive
operation that’s highly dependent on funding from Amgen.
The multi-billion dollar biotechnology company feeds the
students, houses them overnight at the Holiday Inn, and
brings 35 of its own employees to each SMILE event, im-
proving both student performance and their own reputation.
Without Amgen’s financial support, it wouldn’t be possible
to generate the math and science enthusiasm the program
has been able to build.
Yet financial backing from an international therapeutics
company isn’t necessary for education reform.  Brown Uni-
versity’s Brown Science Prep (BSP), a student-led enrich-
ment program that competes with SMILE for Saturday
attendance, is funded nominally by the Swearer Center but
primarily by whatever change its volunteers find in their
pockets. Every week, a dozen mentors meet with 25 to 40
Providence area public high schoolers to teach lessons on
a variety of topics, from statistics to general chemistry to
botany. The low student-to-mentor ratio allows for highly
personalized lesson plans that attempt to address one of
the biggest problems in Rhode Island’s education system:
each public school has a unique science curriculum that’s
incompatible with any other public school’s; each student
receives a spotty and often education. “We take the time to
write lessons that are accessible to a whole range of students,”
says Mark Sabbagh, a BSP mentor in his second year with
the program. “We have students coming in from Feinstein,
Times Squared, E-Cubed, Hope, and each one of them has a
different scientific background. Some kids are already learn-
ing about restriction enzymes and others are still struggling
with fractions. [The mentors] come in with a formal lesson
plan, but if the kids are interested in a particular topic or are
struggling with something really essential that might be on
the SATs, we have the time and freedom to really focus on
The loose structure of the program works remarkably
well. BSP’s classrooms don’t feel like classrooms at all:
Saturday mornings begin and end casually, with bagels
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
Park—are sandwiched between these essential times when
mentors and students swap notes on safer sex and fights that
may have happened at school. “I’ve really enjoyed getting to
know these students individually,” says Julia Duch, another
BSP mentor. “We don’t just talk about science. In fact, we
recently had a fundraiser where student groups from all over
campus came out to perform for the kids, and we actually
had one participant rap some original songs at the show.”
With this kind of encouragement, it’s no surprise that high
schoolers keep getting out of bed at 10 AM on Saturdays
to learn a little extra science—and the results are already
showing. “We have one student this year who’ll be attending
Brown in the fall,” Duch adds, “and every single other senior
in the program is really excited about hearing back from col-
leges soon.”
The best and fastest way to reform, then, is to approach
the problem of poor science education from both sides: while
politicians work to secure funding and high school teach-
ers fight the good fight, it’s essential for citizens to become
activists and community builders in their own right. Science
education isn’t just about test scores; it’s also about the at-
tention devoted to each student and the kinds of scientific
role models that Silva, Amgen scientists, and excited college
students represent. Science is hip and interesting and invalu-
able, and in order to ensure that Rhode Island produces its
share of brilliant and enthusiastic future researchers, it’s im-
perative that we begin to begin promoting math and science
immediately, even if we aren’t scientists ourselves.
( nupur shri dhar b’ 11) 2 = a2 + b2
c at ch- up
e Xp e r i Me nt s
i Mprovi ng sci ence edUcati on i n ri
b y nup ur s hr i dhar
i l l us t r at i ons b y ge or ge war ne r
F L AS H F i ct i on:
Your fve o’clock
shadow is more am
than pm because it is
like sunrise, and
yawn-flled 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.
Te boat in it looked scriptural to the San Francisco
lawyer, who was out here on the Continent for the
very frst time. He wondered whether there’d be a
Gideon’s Bible here somewhere, whether in Spanish
hotels they had that sort of thing.
Te 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 fsherman perched on
a pagoda porch, with his rod held over what, to
judge by the layered clouds below it, was a smallish
mountain pond. Tis 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 infnity expressed within a fnite
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.
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 wafes you & the man had
s t o r i e s i n s p i r e d b y
j o h n f i s h e r ’ s p h o t o g r a p h s
Te 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.
Te 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. Te 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, fying low
over a lake, watching his own yellow underbelly fit
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!
Hey Dad,
I was wondering if you could ask that friend of
yours who works for Amtrak if they sanitize the
headrests on trains between trips. Because it recently
occurred to me that my recent uptick in commuting
has put me at high risk for lice.
Also, I got the picture of the new fsh, but I don’t
really get why you named the smaller one Margaret
✣ ✣ ✣
Hey Dad,
No, I know who Margaret Tatcher is, but I really
don’t see the resemblance. Maybe if you’d gotten a
Anyway, I have a favor to ask: if you see your lawyer
friend (Alan? Alvin?) any time soon, could you just fnd
out if you go to your old apartment where you techni-
cally don’t live anymore but you still have a key, if that
counts as breaking and entering? And how much stuf
you’d have to take for it to be considered a burglary?
✣ ✣ ✣
✣ ✣ ✣
Hey Dad,
Do you still know that guy who repairs electronics?
Could you email me his contact info?
Say hi to Margaret for me!
Each Christmas my family makes a gingerbread model of
a building by the year’s Pritzker Prize winner. My architect
father started the project when I was a kid and hasn’t
given it up despite its failures. Two years ago we did Jean
Nouvel’s Torre Agbar, which luminesces red and blue into
the Barcelona night, but LEDs weren’t really feasible for
our version so we just ended up with a gingerbread penis.
Cutting in the concentric circles felt like some weird form
of circumcision.
For the Fourth of July every year we do Chicken Versus
Tank, facing the frecracker fgures towards each other
and lighting their fuses and watching them spark in a
lightly smoking fght. Tank usually wins, so sometimes we
handicap it by placing Chicken on higher ground.
And when we’ve flled up a glass boot with change from
our pockets, we always spend an afternoon rolling coins
and spending our winnings on candy bought in bulk—
sour ribbons that rough a tongue up fast, gummies shaped
like sharks and coke bottles, sugared watermelon wedges
and my mother’s favorite: lemon drops.
So I mean my family is pretty big on tradition, and
besides everyone’s heard of emotional eating, and of those
warriors who eat their enemies for their strength (what
didn’t kill you makes you stronger), and I guess somewhere
along the line we got those notions mixed up along with
some other ones so now when one of our pets dies we grill
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 fne 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.

the college hi ll i ndependent March 25, 2010
opi ni ons | 11

i l l us t r at i on b y t he aut hor
f or ce of hab i t
sMoKi ng Mi ght Be terri Ble, BUt stop telli ng Us not to do i t. 
b y e l i s chMi t t
n June 22, 2010, Americans will no longer be
able to get free samples of cigarettes, procure pro-
motional gear with tobacco brand-names, or buy
fewer than 20 cigarettes at a time (smaller quantities = more
afordable for kids with pocket money salaries). Furthermore,
cigarette advertisements accessible to teens must be in black
& white (for both print and video). Tese are some of the
regulations the FDA announced last week, attempting to
diminish tobacco companies’ eforts to “target” kids in their
advertising campaigns .
Tighter ad regulations are part of a long, aggressive, and—
in my eyes—ominous campaign to convince Americans that
smoking is not only bad for your health but in fact morally
depraved. The effort is multi-pronged. Rising tobacco taxes
are arguably sensible. Increasingly anal-retentive legislation
is annoying. Vaguely fascistic language is unnerving (“make
smoking history,” a ubiquitous slogan in Massachusetts, the
UK, and Australia, recalls other things—or peoples—with
which governments have aggressively tried to ‘make history’).
The effect, all-told, is clear. It is increasingly hard to smoke
a cigarette without getting dirty looks (at best). My concern
here, however, is not the pride of sidewalk smokers. Anti-
smoking legislation raises troubling questions about personal
liberty, class, and cultural taboo.
i ssues wi th Money
According to a Gallup poll, 62 percent of smokers are from
households with annual incomes less than $35,000; therein,
34 percent of all smokers are from households with annual
incomes less than $12,000. Given these numbers, the multi-
valent efort to discourage smoking on behalf of public health
efectively ghettoizes it. Current anti-smoking rules and at-
titudes have the monetary efect of a poor tax, and the social
efect of making smoking a behavior that “poor people” do.
Te insidiousness of relegating toxic behaviors to the desti-
tute is far more insidious than the objective facts of heart
disease and lung cancer. Besides associating something that is
ostensibly immoral with poverty, it efectively condones the
poor poisoning themselves.
Incredulous? Legislation passed in 2009 banned flavored
cigarettes of all kinds, except mentholated cigarettes, 75 per-
cent of which are purchased by African Americans. The law
ostensibly aims to limit tobacco products that will appeal to
children—and yet, menthols, the best known flavored ciga-
rette, which is most popular among one of the most histori-
cally oppressed minority groups in America, is exempted.
But don’t these laws constitute steps in the right direction,
even if they aren’t perfect? No. Smoking may be dumb, but
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. 
bans & adVerti si ng
One might argue that the FDA rules from last week don’t
condemn smoking outright; they simply limit advertising.
Tis is true. Tis law does not impinge on one’s choice to
smoke, directly. Rather it aims to prevent people, specifcally
minors from thinking to make that choice . In efect, it posits
the tremendous efect of advertising on decision-making. In
’50s and ’60s, John Kenneth Galbraith wrote extensively on
the economic efects of advertising. He argued that while
consumers were entirely entitled to have “bizarre, frivolous,
or even immoral” preferences, these preferences ought to
originate from the consumer, not from the advertising
campaigns of large corporations.
Among contemporary economists, Galbraith’s argu-
ments are not taken especially seriously, in part because of
Friederich Hayek’s refutation that the distinction between
preferences originating inside or outside of the consumer
was bogus (i.e. the only ‘original’ preferences are food,
shelter, sex). The other reason for Galbraith’s discredit is
that his assertions about the power of massive corporations
to control markets regardless of consumers’ actual desires
has not stood the test of time. Firms like GM—which Gal-
braith described as being ‘above’ the constraints of actual
consumer preference because of their power to advertise—
have diminished based, to some extent, on consumers’
preference for their competitors’ products.
This historical anecdote bears two points. The first is
that is that there is little sense in the government inter-
vening in advertising for the sake of consumers. It may be
widely understood that minors cannot act on their own
behalves (because under the age of 18 you are infinitely
malleable and have no common sense), but this is why it is
illegal to buy cigarettes as a minor (a law which last week’s
FDA move makes consistent across all 50 states). Secondly,
it’s unclear to me that smoking isn’t actually appealing on
its own. It is hard to assess the effectiveness of such regu-
lations, since other preventative measures (consequences
for selling cigarettes to minors, higher tobacco taxes) have
occurred concomitantly, obscuring efforts to calculate the
effects of advertising. Arguably though, the role of cigarette
advertising is to convince smokers (or potential smokers) to
buy your brand of cigarettes—and that peddling smoking,
per se , is an afterthought. RJ Reynolds doesn’t just want
new smokers in general. . . they want RJ Reynolds smokers.
What I’m getting at is that advertising doesn’t cause smok-
ing, and that even if we got rid of all cigarette advertising,
anywhere, ever, there would still be smokers.
ci garette as thrysus
Te problem with controlling cigarette advertising is that
smoking doesn’t really need to be advertised; it sells itself.
As Richard Klein, professor of French Literature at Cornell
and author of cigarettes are sublime , wrote, intrinsic in the
act of smoking is “a darkly beautiful, inevitably painful
pleasure.” Te act is inherently appealing, Klein argues, but
“warning smokers or neophytes of the dangers entices them
more powerfully to the edge of the abyss, where, like travel-
ers in a Swiss landscape, they can be thrilled by the subtle
grandeur of the perspectives on mortality opened by the
little terrors in every puf.”
This is why the effort to vilify smoking has become so
moral. You can’t do it outside public doorways in various
states, not because passers-by can’t hold their breath if they
see fit. It’s because if we don’t suppress cigarettes, the argu-
ments on behalf of health, even moderate taxes, won’t stop
it. It is a failure of collective public discourse that it lacks
the complexity to oppose something without also declaring
it morally reprehensible. Until we can teach children that
getting stoned every day is generally an indecorous waste of
time  without sermonizing, we will continue to render sexy
that which we condemn. And smoking cigarettes is already
so sexy to begin with.
i thi nk i loVe you – so what aM i so
afrai d of?
Te furious reader responds: sexy or not sexy, smoking kills
people. To be clear: I am not saying that smoking is good.
I am saying that it is compelling. It is true that our bodies
are fragile, contingent vessels which are not well served by
many of our behaviors. Tis liberal, middle-class, centrist,
medically-based terror, though, this pure outrage, seems
most ominous to me. We should also all be thin. We should
also all exercise. We should also all ‘love ourselves.’ Te
ferce cultural paean we sing to the bodily ideals of “health,”
“ftness,” “long-life,” and “happiness” should not be sung
louder than that quiet, familiar tune we must always hum
to ourselves—not just in our heads, but on street-corners
and in statehouses—that of the ownership of the individual
over his or her body; and therein, the inalienable right to
smoke like a chimney.
As regards last week’s regulations, I would rather the
government—or more specifically, the FDA, that opaque
wing of the government tasked with regulating foodstuffs
and controlled substances—not also be responsible for
deciding which kinds of media children have access to. As
with other great American wars concerned in no way with
literal territory (see the red scare, the war on drugs) the
battle against smoking is not entirely pointless. It is, how-
ever, a site where we should exercise caution, and perhaps
be more self-critical of how we can harm ourselves—even
in what was originally a well-intentioned effort to protect.  
eli schMi tt b&h’ 11 quit.
March 25, 2010 thei ndy. org
arts | 12
s the Bachelor, the star of ABC’s eponymous reality
TV show, watches his potential wives step out of
their limos, each woman gets about thirty seconds
to introduce herself. A blonde from Kissimmee, FL inquires
perkily: “How do you feel about Kissimmee?” Te Bachelor,
Jake, looks sick with panic for a moment, until he picks up
on the wordplay. Jake will soon narrow the feld from 25
women to 15, and we are to believe that he makes this deci-
sion knowing things that silence could not have told him.

Each “incredible journey” through Te Bachelor (this one
ended last month) is paved with endless talk. Beginning with
squeals from inside the limos and continuing with every an-
nouncement of a date or cocktail party—the show’s central
narrative mechanisms—the sound of shrieking women is
constant. Conversations with more than two participants,
though, are viewed by all parties as preludes to the good stuf;
one-on-one dates are hot commodities. Te archetype of the
demure wallfower seems to have fallen by the wayside, and
the demanding women dominate every group. “Excuse me,
Jake. Can I…steal you for minute?” Tis is what the woman,
looking striking in a bikini or something, says as she enters
some producer-contrived bungalow where Jake and another
woman are talking.
Jake never refuses the interloper. Tenley is crying over
her ex-husband? Vienna is confessing a teenage elopement?
These subjects are immediately unbimportant. Apparently
it is unthinkable for Jake to say: “I’m sorry, Elizabeth, but
Tenley and I are having a serious conversation.” Instead,
talk ceases in mid-thought, beginning again with the new
woman, never fully stopping, but never progressing either.
The producers might encourage this quick turnover, and
Jake is trying to get to know a lot of women rapidly, but
each conversation mirrors the last; the woman says she really
wants to get to know Jake, and maybe she’ll offer a sound
byte about her values or upbringing.
Jake himself speaks almost exclusively about speaking. “I
wish,” he will say, “that Corrie would open up to me more.”
But what Jake seems to mean by “talking” is actually the act
of appearing to talk. Granted, we see only what the produc-
ers show us, but let’s assume here that the parts they do show
us are what they consider the most revealing segments.
Here is one, from Jake’s hometown date with Gia, during
which he meets her family:
“So,” says Gia’s mother, “you say you care about my Gia,
but you’re dating three other women at the same time.” Jake
grimaces. “…Yes.” “Well, then what is it about her that’s dif-
ferent to you?” He relaxes visibly. “Oh, well Gia’s just such a
great girl! She’s so beautiful. She really just…has a way about
her.” The mother seems to think that Jake has just told her
something. She does not press him for details.
At dinner with Jake, Corrie makes a comment about how
she’d be happy to move into her own place in Jake’s city.
Jake struggles to continue smiling: “So…how would you feel
about living with someone before you got married?” Corrie
shakes her head. “No. I feel like that’s part of the gift of mar-
riage.” Jake rearranges his smile. “Well! I have no problem
with that at all.” Jake will not invite Corrie back next week.
In each conversation, the recitation of facts—albeit mean-
ingful ones—passes for interpersonal understanding. Jake is
challenged and responds with the words that his challenger
expects to hear. He doesn’t ask Corrie why she holds the val-
ues she does, nor does he offer any explanation of his own.
Gia’s mother takes his vague statements as hard evidence,
later telling Gia: “I just know that he really loves my girl!”
We expect this kind of thing from any reality show, but here,
the empty words are supposed to lead to actual off-screen
marriage. The show’s connection to a legitimate legal and
social institution makes its reliance on verbal shortcuts that
much more unnerving; you get the sense that, although they
know they’re in a ridiculously contrived TV environment,
the participants really do see depth in what looks like pure
superficiality. Their language is the shorthand of the generic,
and lulled by its music, women will give their hearts away,
and families their daughters.

Set aside Te Bachelor’s subtle horrors and consider, for a
moment, the let’s-talk-about-our-feelings cultural context
from which it’s coming. From elementary school to corpo-
rate seminars, we fnd the bonding exercise. Te group sits in
a circle, and each person shares something, maybe a favorite
fower or spirit animal, and then we’re supposed to assume
we all know each other a lot better. Tat’s just one among
many venues in which a tidy quip is a mark of value.
While no one really mistakes these activities for true emo-
tional closeness, they are just the surface of a whole world of
mandatory talk. Younger girls are constantly telling secrets,
and when an individual is reluctant to share with her peers
(perhaps saying that she can’t think of a most embarrassing
moment), she is suspect. Later on, bars and lunch dates be-
come the parallel venues; the more frequently one talks to
one’s friends, the closer one is said to be to those friends, even
if the conversations are superficial. In academics, classroom
participation is key at every age. Even the Catholic confes-
sional comes to mind: the act of vocalizing one’s interiority
as an act toward salvation. The dubious message remains
the same: to fit in, make friends, and succeed wherever you
go, you have to talk openly and genuinely, even if you don’t
always have much of substance to say.
This isn’t to say that things of value are never shared in
the above scenarios, but it’s the act of sharing that is essen-
tial, and what, exactly, is shared becomes incidental. Think
of the person who’s always raising his hand or jumping into
the conversation. Think also of the chatty acquaintance
who’s prone to over-sharing, or the way a conversation goes
when you’re attempting to catch up with someone to whom
you never really had much to say in the first place. These
haphazard words are casualties in the constant battle to say
something, something that doesn’t offend, meets expecta-
tions, and makes you sound good. We rehearse this kind of
talking daily, perfecting it, until it becomes generic in the
sense of a musical genre, with its own hallmarks and reliable

Yeah, but, you say. When it comes to real things, the people
we truly love, we speak in real words. We do not believe in
the Hallmark love of Bachelor matchmaking and its absurd
verbal gamesmanship. But let’s look to the last episode of
the season, in which Jake struggles to decide between Vienna
and Tenley. Tenley is sweet and Barbie beautiful. Vienna is
“brutally honest” (her words) and “smokin’ hot” (Jake’s).
Jake repeats that he is in love with both women, and when
asked why, he says that Tenley is “just amazing, so beautiful,”
and that Vienna is “so passionate.” Both women call Jake
“so great.” Attempts at in-depth conversation derail: to Jake’s
mother, Tenley says that her ex-husband’s leaving her was
like “a death in the family” and that that proves she “doesn’t
give up.”
By the time Jake gives Vienna an absurd diamond on a
cliff above a tropical sea, it’s unsurprising that he can’t explain
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
dangerous. In valuing the quantity and frequency of talk
over its quality and content, we sacrifice creative power in
favor of raw possession. As the Bachelor and bachelorettes
shuffle their words like poker chips, The Bachelor becomes a
caricature of a culture that deals in all things sleek and short-
form, where even presidential addresses are reduced to sound
bytes; the uncomfortable familiarity of every onscreen phrase
makes it the epitome of reality TV as cautionary tale.
Still, there is something affecting about the empty verbal
gestures. Each episode ends with a Rose Ceremony, in which
Jake gives red roses to the girls he wants to see again next
week. Jake calls out names one at a time, saying: “Vienna,” (or
whoever) “will you accept this rose?” Naturally, the women
get more and more nervous as the ceremony goes on, count-
ing and re-counting the remaining roses. When just one rose
is left, the show’s host, Chris Harrison, appears. “Ladies…
Jake,” he says quietly. “There is only one rose remaining.” He
then proceeds to exit the room.
Chris vocalizes the achingly obvious, and it’s beautiful.
His words make it so much harder to dismiss the other words
that express nothing. They are akin to the quiet thrill of tell-
ing someone you think he’s amazing when you’ve already
married him. When stripped of any pretense of revelatory
insight, the empty verbal gesture can be its own kind of
meaningful; it’s only when we mistake the symbol for the
substance that we wind up crying on a cliff, unable to say
what went wrong.
hannah sheldon- dean b’ 10 always preferred
Gia anyway.
tal k i ng to tal k
speech and Understandi ng on the Bachelor and Beyond
b y hannah s he l don- de an
i l l us t r at i on b y dr e w f os t e r
the college hi ll i ndependent March 25, 2010
arts | 13
he 44 strings on Joanna Newsom’s harp, illuminated
by the stage lights of Harvard’s Sanders Teatre last
Wednesday, outnumber the years of the singer’s life.
Te instrument itself rested against the red fabric of her
cocktail dress and towered over her petite frame. Te image
visually embodied the contradictory elements of Newsom’s
work, which draws inspiration from classical and contempo-
rary composers alike. For better or worse, Joanna Newsom
is an attractive and charming 28-year-old with a grandiose
In the final moments of preparation before Wednesday’s
90 minute set, Joanna Newsom multitasked, tuning her
harp while jaunting around in a knee-grazing dress and ex-
changing witticisms with vocal audience members. She was
charming in the most unassuming of ways. Then came four
minutes and 23 seconds of near perfection: “Jackrabbits,” a
gentle harp-and-vocals track off of her latest album have one
on Me. It’s a modest venture for a musician who frequently
dresses her songs in dense orchestration. The performance
was the first of many that suggested Newsom’s new restraint
is not a paraphrased version of her artistic vision, but rather,
the most sophisticated realization of it to date.
Joanna Newsom’s music, a blend of shrill vocals (which
have softened with age and vocal chord nodules), harp-driv-
en melodies, and esoteric lyrics,
surpasses the unconventional.
Ask anyone to describe her sound
and you will receive answers whose
kookiness and verbosity mirror the
content of critiques launched against the
pol ar - izing harpist. A few critics’ attempts to capture
the essence of her aural aesthetic: “Trying to describe Joanna
Newsom to people is difficult. It’s a bit like the parable of the
blind men trying to describe an elephant;” “A piercing flutter
that’s pitched somewhere between Björk and a hand brake;”
and last but not least, “She sounds like Olive Oyl, Popeye’s
Recently, Newsom’s commercial appeal has risen. In 2009,
she appeared in the music video for MGMT’s “Kids” and a
Victoria’s Secret commercial featured her song “Sprout and
the Bean.” It is no wonder that have one on Me, seems, at
first listen, more accessible than past endeavors. Gone are the
abrasive vocals of her 2004 debut, Milk eyed Mender; what
once was harsh is now a gentle hush. The lyrical content of
have one on Me, although still cryptic and rich with word
play, departs from the artful tautology—“hydrocephalitic
listlessness” and Sisyphean allusions—of 2006’s decadently
orchestrated ys, whose five songs span 56 minutes.
For “Jackrabbits,” Newsom was accompanied only by her
harp, surrounded by empty chairs and a drummer-less drum
set. In the nine songs that followed, she had the additional
company of five musicians and their assortment of instru-
ments. Among the musicians was Ryan Francesconi, who
wrote all of have one on Me’s thoughtful yet provocative ar-
rangements, which give Newsom’s harp and piano melodies
space to expand across, and the listener room to breathe.
There were a few particularly outstanding moments: an
encore performance of “Baby Birch,” whose gospel-esque
gui lt- f r e e
gus hi ng
J oanna neWsoM stri Kes a
hi gh note i n caMBri dge
b y k at i e l i nds t e dt
i l l us t r at i on b y rob e rt s andl 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
that perhaps her songs reveal more of themselves to the
singer with every listen just as they do to her audience. It also
showed a different side of Newsom, who didn’t seem to be
taking herself too seriously as she played with the raw energy
of the Milk eyed Mender era, frenetically bobbing her head
behind the piano keys.
“Inflammatory Writ” wasn’t the night’s only nostalgia-
inducing performance; Newsom played “The Book of
Right-On” off of Milk eyed Mender and “Emily” from ys.
She satiated her oldest fans’ cravings, but only in part—a few
audience members shouted requests for Milk eyed Mender’s
“Sadie” and “‘En Gallop.’” One individual in attendance
pleaded for “Good Intentions Paving Company,” have one
on Me’s jazzy standout and the closest Newsom has ever
come to playing pop music.
“We’re almost there,” Newsom said of “Good Intentions.”
“Not as in a few songs away; I mean we’re almost at the point
in this tour when we can play it.”
Also refurbished was have one on Me’s “Soft as Chalk,”
one of Newsom’s most complex piano efforts to date. Only
during a fleeting segment of the song did the evening’s addi-
tional instrumentation detract from a performance at large.
The guitar thundered over “Soft as Chalk”’s descending scale,
punctuating a song’s compositional high point that needs no
punctuation. It was no fault of the band, which, along with
Newsom, hit every note to a tee. It’s just that there’s noth-
ing so stunning as the movement of Joanna Newsom’s hands
across whatever instrument she’s playing. The harp above all,
whose strings she plucked both meticulously and effortlessly
on Wednesday night in a way that somehow made her gran-
diose aesthetic easy to digest.
kati e li ndstedt b’ 11 tried to dial back the adula-
Me ga p or n
This week's puzzle:
the Mi ssi ng li nK
By raphaela li pi nsKy
i ns t ruct i ons :
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
de V i ce s
March 25, 2010 thei ndy. org
arts | 14
tephen Sondheim has been the object of hysterical bal-
lyhoo for nearly half his life.  Te frst 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
panicky frequency: this spring alone will see three New York
galas in honor of his 80th birthday. Te one I attended, at
Lincoln Center on March 15, featured performers such as
Patti LuPone, John McMartin, Bernadette Peters, and Elaine
Stritch—piddling nobodies in television and flm, with
barely a Golden Globe between them, but giants in the
insular world of the American theater.  For a certain kind
of audience member, these performers induce an almost
intoxicating nostalgia.
Three galas could, of course, be perceived as excessive,
and there are moments when the Sondheim love feels ir-
ritatingly sycophantic. When he came to speak at Brown
University in February, the audience roared at his one-liners,
clapped  obligingly when he  remarked that “Big failures are
dignified; little failures are shameful,” and each of their re-
sponses was magnified to a ludicrous pitch, because theater
people  project.  The audience reacted spontaneously only
once.  When Sondheim pointed out that he wrote the lyrics
to West side story when he was “only 27,” there were gasps,
the faint  sound of elbows elbowing each other, and  even a
couple of indulgent awws and cootchy-coos.
West side story’s flamboyantly romantic lyrics embarrass
Sondheim now (“I Feel Pretty” in particular), but so many
people in the audience gasped in amazement because to
them, the 1957 musical represents Sondheim’s pinnacle. 
The show’s lyrics are more familiar than anything from
Sondheim’s subsequent,  more “difficult”  masterpieces: Fol-
lies,  sweeney todd, sunday in the park with george.  Many
critics initially resisted these shows, with their unpredictable,
almost arrogantly high-minded harmonies, but eventually
they came around.  Still, as late as 1997, the critic Mark
Steyn ended an essay on Sondheim with the plea, “Sing out,
Stephen”—the implication being that Sondheim’s songs were
excessively inhibited and self-conscious.
I tend to think of them as perfectly inhibited.  This is
the quality that gives Sondheim songs their gawky beauty
and their relevance: his characters  are never quite able to
“sing out.”  Conventional MGM wisdom suggests that when
a character is too emotional to talk, he sings, but over time
this surreal transition has become increasingly difficult to
carry off.  The contemporary film musicals chicago and nine
even devised elaborate conceits to prevent the move from
speech to song from seeming ludicrous and corny.
Sondheim skirts this dilemma altogether; so many of his
characters never “burst” into song at all—they sidle into
song, or ping-pong between speaking and singing, too smart
and self-conscious to ever truly lose themselves.  (Sondheim
himself is famously inhibited, and even today has a hard
time composing  without drinking first or smoking a little
marijuana.)  In the musical soliloquys of into the Woods (“I
Know Things Now,” “On the Steps of the Palace”), the score
doesn’t billow over the characters as it did  in “Maria,” and
the lyrics are beautifully colloquial and clipped.  (If we are
no longer confident expressing our feelings without irony
and ambivalence, Sondheim seems to be asking, how can we
possibly hold notes?)
This musical ambivalence reaches its logical conclusion
in Sondheim’s most recent song, “Brotherly Love” (added to
road show during previews in 2008).  The song follows two
grown-up brothers struggling for primacy in a single sleeping
bag, and the two of them barely speak, much less sing.  In
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
Wilson: Boy, Mama was madder than hell.
(They laugh.)
addison: you’ve always looked out for me, no matter what.
Wilson: Just brotherly love, brother-brotherly love. (pause) Je-
sus, i smell.
These don’t read like song lyrics. Indeed, the two-and-
a-half minute song has a nominal melody and only four
rhymes.  Even the underscoring is lethargic, like a halfheart-
edly-chugging train.  Last year, the times of London reported
that Sondheim “feels his energy levels are down and he may
never write another [show],” and “Brotherly Love” reflects
that depletion.

While lecturing at Brown, Sondheim came across as
more raconteur than artist, an old man basking in the glow
of his salad days.  Indeed, in the past year Sondheim has
“nibbled” at new projects, but was largely preoccupied by
lectures and by the completion of a book of his annotated
lyrics.  Physically, he has passed halfway into myth.  While
photos of Sondheim from the 1960s reveal a charismatic,
puzzle-loving slob with coin-slot eyes, at 80 he barely has
eyes at all; he’s like Homer.
Despite the exhaustion in its bones, “Brotherly Love” is a
deeply enjoyable song, and ought to have been sung at the
Lincoln Center concert, if only as a validation of Sondheim’s
recent work.  The song choice was tactless, a virtual kiss-off
of Sondheim’s post-1984 output—which was represented by
a single number, the pleasurable trifle “It Takes Two” from
into the Woods.  To be fair, the reluctantly melodic songs from
Sondheim’s later shows (Into the Woods, assassins, passion,
road show) wouldn’t have lent themselves to the extravagant
mood at Lincoln Center that night (there was practically
caviar in the goodie bags), or to the lavish sound of the New
York Philharmonic.
In fact, it sometimes seems that the shabbier the instru-
ment, the more beautiful Sondheim’s songs become.  His
most famous song, “Send in the Clowns,” was written to
cinch flatteringly around the voice of a star, Glynis Johns,
who could barely sing at all.  Sondheim could relate; in 1971
he admitted, “I tend to sing very loud, usually off-pitch, and
always right in keys that are just out of my range.”  His voice
in demo recordings is staggeringly unpleasant: he gurgles the
high notes and abandons the held ones immediately.
Perhaps this is why his characters are so reluctant to “sing
out.”  Sondheim was invariably the first person to perform
each of his songs (whether for demos, at backers’ auditions,
or for a performer), which may have given him incentive to
imbue his songs with some rhythmic, tossed-off “quality”—
a quality so deeply ingrained in the song that even a voice as
measly and technically unaccomplished as Sondheim’s could
deliver it. Tellingly, two of the best performances at Lincoln
Center came from indomitable troupers—the 81-year-old
John McMartin and the 85-year-old Stritch—whose talents
were used up decades ago, and who milked their songs’
dramatic qualities. McMartin performed “The Road You
Didn’t Take” as a beautifully-sustained shrug, and in “I’m
Still Here,” Stritch (in a fetching red cap) just stomped
around and bellowed. I can’t wait to get to the point in my
career when I can coast on audience goodwill.

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,
elusive you,
Will any person ever get the juice of you?
The most revelatory of Sondheim’s solo numbers seem
to be the product of such violent, labor-intensive “juicing.”
(For each of his songs, Sondheim prepares a billowing folder
with notes on the characters’ back stories, personalities, and
pet turns of phrase.) This systematic “juicing” is a noticeable
pattern in his shows (think of “The Glamorous Life” in the
film of night Music, or “The Ladies Who Lunch” in com-
pany): a heretofore neglected character, or one played simply
for laughs, is granted a single, confessional number, and then
promptly re-enters the musical’s narrative, refreshed and
incalculably deepened.
This is to say that Sondheim’s songs are uniquely well-
suited to the episodic format of a gala concert.  The Lincoln
Center concert wasn’t an unmitigated triumph, but the
second act did allow for six thrilling back-to-back solos by
female performers inextricably tied to Sondheim’s work.
Among them were Patti LuPone and Elaine Stritch, who
both emoted visibly while watching the other perform; dur-
ing the applause breaks they even schmoozed a little.
But Bernadette Peters, whose tremulous, shell-shocked
performance of “Not a Day Goes By” was the concert’s high-
light, didn’t emote at all to the others’ songs. She applauded
dutifully, but her thoughts were inscrutable; she didn’t even
smile. Peters began performing at age three, in a slew of kid-
die game shows, and has remained popular by miraculously
deepening her stage persona over the past59 years. However,
she is a sort of perpetual child star: shticky and instinctual
onstage, and offstage slightly limited. (In interviews, she has
revealed her affinity for astrology, gorillas, dogs, and Martin
Short.)  Peters began developing her musical comedy muscles
so early in life that everything else may have atrophied.  But
the muscles she’s got are phenomenal, and her “Not a Day
Goes By” managed to capture Sondheim in all his ambiva-
i’ll die day after day after day after day
after day after day after day
It’s almost impossible to sing those monotonous “day after
day”s well.  Peters sang the first few sarcastically, as if intoning
a list of love-song clichés, but then the emotions became hers. 
She grew softer, and was cut short by a bombastic orchestral
break.  The Philharmonic’s horns swelled, but Peters, instead
of crying or swaying, just cocked her head and thought.  The
orchestrations seemed to represent the emotions expected of
her, melodramatic and predictable—but Peters refused to
give in.  She was too emotional to “sing out,” too vulnerable
and torn-up—and so instead she stood, listening.
Peters could no longer sing just as Sondheim can no longer
truly write songs.  At fifteen, Sondheim learned from his in-
formal mentor Oscar Hammerstein that “Writing consists of
choosing”—and he seems to have grown so choosy now, so in-
hibited, that he cannot produce anything. All he can do is listen.

Matt wei nstock b’ 10 implores you to get a little
drunk and then YouTube Bernadette Peters’s “Some People,”
Audra McDonald’s “Te Glamorous Life,” and Barbra Strei-
sand’s “Putting It Together.”
t he char i s Mat i c ,
p uz z l e - l oV i ng
s l ob i n t wi l i ght
80 year- old BroadWay legend stephen
sondhei M and hi s i nhi Bi ti ons
b y Mat t we i ns tock
the college hi ll i ndependent March 18, 2010
arts | 15
ast week Martin Cesar, frontman of the Montreal
quartet Tink About Life, spoke with the independent
by telephone. On their musical stylings, their Myspace
taxonomizes them as “Disco House / Trash / Pop.” Wiki-
pedia, on the other hand says “indie rock, electronic.” Teir
label, Alien8 Recordings, is home to experimental acts like
Acid Mothers Temple and noisy rockers like Les Georges
Leningrad. But Tink About Life probably has most in com-
mon with their labelmates Te Unicorns, a legendary, though
now defunct, keyboard-driven pop act. Tink About Life’s
most recent LP, Family, was well-received critically upon
its release in May 2009. Te album is a listen-all-the-way-
through-every-time pop cornucopia. Simple beats, woozy
keyboards, eloquent love stories, and falsetto samples merge
into frisky yet moderate dance numbers, which occasionally
rise to anthemic highs.
Think About Life are currently on a sprawling tour in-
cluding several spots at SXSW, most of the rest of the United
States, as well as dates in British Columbia and Alberta. On
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
take Europe by storm. 
the i ndependent: How are you doing?
Marti n cesar: Good! We’re here…where are we
again? [talks to someone] Oh yeah, we’re about to cross the
i : How do you like the Midwest?
c: Te Midwest is four…uh…burritos.  Tat’s how much
we like it. Four burritos [laughs]…we can work with that.
i : Do you have any fun activities you do to fght boredom
on the road?
c: Swimming, man! Swimming is very important. Just be-
ing in a body of water—I don’t know, every hotel we stop at
has to have a swimming pool, so yeah, we go swimming. 
i : Do you ever get in trouble at your hotels?
c: Well—I mean—we’re good kids from Montreal; the
only thing we do that’s so bad is take too much food from
the hotel lobby, from the breakfast area there; they kind of
bitch at us when we take too much.
i : What, in your mind, are the components of a perfect pop
c: I think honesty is a great component of a great pop
song. Just like, straight up, honest hooks that everyone can
relate to. 
i : Can you tell me about the band’s composition process? 
c: Well, we progressed from basically being a keyboard
and drums band. Now we use a sampler, guitar, bass, and
drums usually, and it starts maybe with me—I’ll compose
something really quickly at home, like a basic melody, and
I’ll bring it to the band, and from there it’s a collaborative
efort as we add more instrumentation. 
i : How do you feel about the thing where instead of having
websites, bands now just have Myspace pages?
c: It’s cheaper, that’s one thing for certain. Maybe the
website will come back but right now, I guess the click-and-
play, go-see-the-pictures thing is what everyone’s into. We’re
a very sort of DIY approach band, so the simpler the better
for us.

i : Te new video for “Havin’ My Baby” is pretty amazing;
where did the idea come from?
c: Te idea was a collaborative efort between us and this
guy Matt Wells from LA. Tis guy Matt had heard of the
band and just approached us. He said, “I want to make a
video for you; it might just be a fan video but if you like it
can be an ofcial video,” and that’s how it happened. We
just gave him full creative control, and gave him the song,
and he came back with this amazing, beautiful video that
takes place in a church with old people, and this guy gets
on a bike.
i : And there are those puppets
c: Yeah, there’s muppets! You know, with things like that it
just really warms your heart as a musician when you get to
collaborate with other artists like that.
i : What have you personally been listening to lately? 
c: I’ve been listening to this one amazing famenco singer
called Camarón de la Isla, he’s really amazing; his voice it
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. Tat’s one
guy who’s really been inspiring right now. And Chet Baker,
this old jazz musician from LA, I fnd very inspiring. 
i : What are you favorite places to play shows?
c: I would say California is always beautiful, very inspira-
tional, we always come out very inspired by the California
region. If we had a chance to just go say, to a place like
Santa Cruz or San Diego for a year and just write songs, we
would jump on the ship as soon as possible. Another place
that’s really cool to tour is the Netherlands, just because of
the attitude there; I fnd the people there to be very warm. 
i : Do you miss Montreal?
c: I get homesick…Well, I used to get homesick pretty
easily. I’m the only band member who’s actually from
Montreal, so I do get really homesick, but at the same time
it’s great to be on the road and see diferent places and meet
diferent people and eat a lot and go swimming as much as
i : What’s the craziest thing that happened to you on this
tour so far?
c: Te craziest thing…Hanging out in Pontiac, Michigan
is pretty crazy. It’s next to Detroit, and Michigan on its
own is…I don’t know, it feels like…I don’t want to ofend
anyone, but it feels like a slowly dying state, because a lot
of businesses have left. When you get there it just feels like
it’s deserted, but then you explore the city and meet people
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,
Michigan, it’s just really a discovery.
i : How does an indie rock band become economically vi-
able in this day and age? 
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. 
You can listen to songs by Think About Life @ www.
BSR top ten
BSR top ten
BSR top ten
good k i ds f roM Mont r e al
Marti n cesar oF thi nK aBoUt li Fe on
i nspi rati on, Myspace, and steali ng BreaKFast.
Joanna Newsom
Have one on Me
Drag City
Freak Folk (up 7 spots)
Arnold Schoenberg & Anthony Suter
Hymns to Forgotten Moons
Classical Classics
Imagine Africa
A Suf & A Killer
Psychedelic Beats (up 3 spots)
Lil Wayne/Gudda
Young Money
Four Tet
there is Love in You
IDM (down one spot
Surfer Blood
Astro Coast
Indie rock
The Ugly Side of Love
Malachai Fading World
Loud Psychedelic
Broken Social Scene
Forgiveness Rock Record
Arts and Crafts
Canadian Indie Rock All-Stars
Terror Bird
terror Bird
Night People
Self-Description: “Kate Bush making
out with Morrissey”
b y e l i s chMi t t
March 25, 2010 thei ndy. org
sports | 16
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?Teir
starting shooting guard looked like he was about 16 and
wore a jersey at least two sizes too big, their cheerleaders were
dressed in a rag-tag mixture of black and red and seemed
like they had been plucked from a not-for-credit dance class,
and their mascot was…a ‘Gael’? And then Saint Mary’s went
and proved all us doubters wrong, upsetting Richmond and
Villanova right here in Providence and reminding us once
again why we love March Madness.
At the end of the decade that brought us the Tiger Woods
sex tour, steroid revelations, an NBA referee who gambled
on games he officiated, and an NFL dog-fighting ring, we’ve
learned integrity can hard to come by in sports. Salaries are
so out of control that Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer
was widely praised this week for extending his contract for a
‘hometown discount’ of $184 million over eight years.
Every few years we pump out a movie like remember the
titans, Miracle, or the Blind side to remind us why we watch
sports. We yearn to find a stripped down moral purity that
has become nearly impossible to imagine amidst the images
of Gillette-wielding shortstops, geriatric owners who col-
lect players like they’re running fantasy teams, and athletes
making millions of dollars a year to sit on the bench and
complain that they need more. Contemporary sport in the
US lacks any palpable connection to the mythology of the
American sporting tradition—a mythology in which the
playing field is an ethical arena for the performance of the
values of hard work and fair competition. But then once a
year, March rolls around.
The NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament doesn’t
showcase the best basketball in the country. Most of the
players won’t go on to professional athletic careers. Non-fans
become bracket-experts overnight. The stadiums are packed
with amped-up freshmen in seas of school colors which dis-
tract opposing free-throw shooters with birdcalls. Cinderella
always crashes the Dance. The media sells March Madness
as a different kind of sporting event.The players aren’t ego-
maniacs, they aren’t making money, and (in contrast to col-
lege football’s absurd BCS system) every team has a chance to
shock the world. But do we buy it? Is college basketball really
an untainted version of the pro-game? Is March Madness,
the athletic event praised precisely for its lack of glitz, really
sport at its purest?
My love affair with March Madness began when I got
second-place (and 45 dollars) in my father’s office pool at
the age of seven, and learned the important childhood lesson
that through a little casual gambling one can quite easily turn
a small sum of money into a pile worth starting a checking
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
egalitarian Madness for myself.
fri day
First game: #15 Robert Morris Colonials vs. #2 Villanova
Wildcats. Te Jumbotron streamed clips past upsets to the
sounds of Nickelback while a recorded voice yelled: “It’s the
upsets that make this tournament so special!” When 5’ 7”
guard Karan Abraham hit three towering three-pointers in
the frst fve minutes, putting the Colonials up nine points
early, and making Villanova look anything but invincible, the
dream of an epic upset started to look like a reality. An old
man three rows back began shouting “over-rated!” every time
Villanova touched the ball. He told me with a smile on his
face that college basketball would not be college basketball
without mean old hecklers like him. Wildcats win in OT.
Game Two: #10 St. Marys Gaels vs. #7 Richmond Spiders.
The Gaels featured a bunch of surfer bros from Australia who
somehow, through a recruiting miracle, all ended up playing
basketball at a tiny Catholic school in northern California.
The game came down to who had the more bizarre looking
mascot, and Richmond’s lanky red and black spider lost out
to the “Gael”—a goofy-smiled muscleman intended to be
ethnically Irish.
Game Three: #14 Ohio Bobcats vs. #2 Georgetown
Hoyas. In a showdown only slightly more exciting than the
informal competition between the two bands, Georgetown
was the first high seed to fall. Buoyed by the frenzied band,
which featured synchronized tuba dancing and extensive
tumbling routines, Ohio pulled the first big upset of March
Madness. The game was reminiscent of Georgetown’s last
game in Providence, in which they came within a last minute
free throw of losing to #16 seed Princeton.
Game Four: #6 Tennessee Volunteers vs. #11 San Diego
State Aztec Warriors. I remember it best for the laughably
drunk man behind us heckling both teams evenly with such
absurd insults as: “If I smoked crack [San Diego] would
be my safety school” and, after a less than stellar version of
“Livin’ on a Prayer” by the Tennessee marching band: “Ten-
nessee, we hate Bon Jovi in Prov!” March Madness has a
no-alcohol sales policy, but I did find a stash of little empty
Jaeger bottles in the bathroom.

Te Gaels take on Villanova in a second round game for the
ages. Villanova’s loyal fan base, which had been too cocky to
show up to their team’s frst game and very nearly paid the
price, came out in droves. Over the course of the game, their
cheers devolved into exasperated groans, then utter silence
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. Te 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-
nia was enough to make even the most die-hard Villanova
alumni stand and clap. After Tennessee won the weekend’s
fnal game, I watched three hundred or so white-haired,
orange-blazered gentlemen from the southern aristocracy
clapping politely at the team while the band looped “Rocky
Top Tennessee.”

March Madness is by no means a pure, untainted version
of sport. Just like any televised sporting event, the flow of
every game was broken up by “media time-outs” so that the
corporate sponsors could have their moment. If I thought I
was missing a lot of school to be there, the schedules of play-
ers are such that, at least in March, they can never be much
more than part-time students. A recent proposal to extend
the tournament to 96 teams has been widely criticized in
part because it would only lengthen the amount of time the
players (not to mention the trombonists and the cheerlead-
ers) would have to spend away from class.
The demographics of the stadium are also of note, as
nearly all of the fans were white and male. It seemed like
nine out of every ten fans was a white dude between the
ages of 25 and 50 with a button down shirt or a navy blue
Georgetown sweatshirt. While one could argue that women
probably just go to the Women’s NCAA Tournament, the
unfortunate reality is that the women’s game does not at-
tract as many spectators or receive nearly the same media
attention as the Men’s tournamenty. And while the racial
diversity of the players on the court varied greatly—from the
predominately white Gaels of Saint Marys, to the nearly all-
black teams of Villanova and Tennessee—the stands were as
homogenously white as the ra-ra culture of collegiate athletic
fandom at large.
Still, this years’ NCAA tournament has been an elegy to
the little guy. In addition to the upsets that I witnessed in
Providence, Ivy League champs Cornell knocked out Temple
and the University of Wisconsin while the Northern Iowa
beat the top ranked Kansas Jayhawks after a cold-blooded
three pointer by Ali Farokhmanesh with 30 seconds to go.
March might be the only month of the year when you can
watch a bunch of players you’ve never heard of, and will
never see again, take down a team full of future NBA start-
ers. It might be the only month of the year where Omar
Samhan is as talked about as Lebron James. It might be the
only month of the year when ‘Gael’ breaks into the top-ten
most searched words on Wikipedia.
As I watched the players of Ohio University and Saint
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.

eMMett fi tzgerald b’ 10 had the best birthday
gae l f or ce wi ns
notes on March Madness
b y e MMe t t f i t z ge r al d
Joanna Newsom
Have one on Me
Drag City
Freak Folk (up 7 spots)
Arnold Schoenberg & Anthony Suter
Hymns to Forgotten Moons
Classical Classics
Imagine Africa
A Suf & A Killer
Psychedelic Beats (up 3 spots)
Lil Wayne/Gudda
Young Money
Four Tet
there is Love in You
IDM (down one spot
Surfer Blood
Astro Coast
Indie rock
The Ugly Side of Love
Malachai Fading World
Loud Psychedelic
Broken Social Scene
Forgiveness Rock Record
Arts and Crafts
Canadian Indie Rock All-Stars
Terror Bird
terror Bird
Night People
Self-Description: “Kate Bush making
out with Morrissey”
the college hi ll i ndependent March 25, 2010
arts | 17
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 of shape the trends for the next season.
New York is a mishmash of the biggest names in fash-
ion—Donna Karan, Oscar de la Renta—and many up-
and-coming designers like Rodarte and Alexander Wang.
London is known for being innovative and edgy, with
the Central Saint Martins students and alums constantly
challenging the fashion world with new points of view.
Milan, where Versace and Dolce and Gabbana show,
can be counted on for traditional craftsmanship and
over-the-top glamour. And Paris is le top du top, with
both avant-garde fashion (see: Gareth Pugh, Comme des
Garçons) and the most established luxury houses, like
Chanel and Dior.
Fashion Month is always a surreal and slightly absurd
whirlwind, which some of us are—ahem—lucky enough
to experience not in the tents at Bryant Park, or in the
gilded halls of Paris, but on our laptops, at home in our
pajamas. Below, a few snippets of the craziness.
new york
New York laid down the gauntlet in the most interest-
ing (or most outlandish) presentation sweepstakes. Marc
Jacobs showed in a room covered with cardboard; the
designer and the company president tore brown con-
struction paper from a giant wooden structure to reveal
the models. At Y-3, a laser show was followed by a staged
boxing fght between the designer, Yohji Yamamoto,
and two models. Meanwhile, Moncler showed their col-
lection at Pier 59’s golf club, with models standing at
attention on a giant four-story metal framework. Isaac
Mizrahi whipped up a fake snowstorm.
Vivienne Westwood’s invitations for her Red Label show
featured factoids about issues like hunger, maternal
health, and climate change, and guests at the show re-
ceived Sigg water bottles, as Westwood showed her disap-
proval of the plastic bottles usually distributed at Fashion
Week events (like—cough—her show last season). And
yet all of this came of as typical “green is trendy” postur-
ing, since nothing about her collection addressed any of
the issues she claims to support. While awareness-raising
is all very well, it would have been nice if she donated a
percentage of proceeds to a worthwhile cause, or used
sustainably processed fabrics, instead of simply sending
out a few cheap-looking “Loyalty 2 Gaia” t-shirts.
Mi lan
Anna Wintour pissed of all of Milan when she decided
to stay for only three days of Milan’s Fashion Week. Te
organizers scrambled to reshufe the schedule so that all
the major shows would take place during her visit, and
at the Gucci show, protestors wore wigs, sunglasses, and
shirts that read “I Will Only Stay 3 Days.” Te Paris or-
ganizers, meanwhile, were typically blasé, requiring only
that someone from Vogue’s senior team be at each major
show. Wintour then skipped the Oscars so she could stay
in Paris longer. Paris to Milan: “I fart in your general
direction! Your mother was a hamster and your father
smelt of elderberries!”
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
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
Marc Jacobs for Vuitton also focused their collections on
clothing highlighting the female form (read: T & A), to
varied effect: Prada’s clothes were boring and ugly, Jacobs’
were less boring and pretty. Enter collective hyperbole,
with esteemed times critic Cathy Horyn proclaiming,
“We saw the return of the lush, full-hipped woman, her
breasts served up like ripe fruit.” Right.
(Vuitton Photo: Kim Weston Arnold)
pari s
Paris Fashion Week was really cold: “Even during the
shows, you freeze. IT’S HELL. It’s the death of fashion.
No one has any idea how to dress for it,” wrote blogger
Garance Doré. Designer Véronique Leroy probably re-
gretted her choice of venue; she staged her show at night
in an open-air garage. Te editors in the audience weren’t
pleased, but the models had it a lot worse, having to walk
the runway in leotards, bandeau tops, and shorts—some
of them were visibly shaking, according to’s
Hadley Freeman.
In other frigid news, Lindsay Lohan was sacked as
the artistic director for Emanuel Ungaro after her Spring
2010 collection—prominently featuring sparkly heart-
shaped nipple pasties—caused many major clients to
drop the label. Unfortunately, the collection still kind
of sucked. Most of the collection was like a high-end
version of Forever 21—cheap looking, scattered, and
prominently featuring satin, hot pink, and leopard print.
Karl Lagerfeld beat out everyone in Paris in terms of
pure spectacle by importing an iceberg from Sweden for
the Chanel show. (Okay, he didn’t actually airlift in an
iceberg. It was 240 tons of “snow-ice,” driven to France
and then sculpted by artisans.) Things got even more
ridiculous when the show opened with three models in
full-on Furry suits, although the rest of the collection
demonstrated impressive craftsmanship and technical
(Photo: Monica Feudi /
As for the clothes themselves, it was like an orgy of busi-
ness casual—endless variations on beige (camel, khaki,
ecru) and tons of jackets and trousers (not pants – trou-
sers). Te focus was on grown-up, pared-down clothes, a
minimalistic take on ’80s power dressing. Tis might be
seen as a concession to the economy, except there was also
fur everywhere: fur coats, fur purses, fur pants. Velvet, for
reasons bizarre and unknown, was also ubiquitous. Our
only response is: why?
Of course, there were other trends, from sculptural
sci-fi clothes to an excessive number of schoolgirl out-
fits (I see you, New York). The overall feeling of this
Fashion Week, though, was nice, wearable, and …sort
of bland. All those work-friendly separates will prob-
ably be snapped up in retail, but here’s hoping to more
shenanigans next time; then again, the boring clothes
highlighted how ridiculous and ultimately empty Fash-
ion Week shenanigans are to begin with.
b oob s , dr aMa,
i ce b e r g
oh, and soMe clothes
b y s ue di ng
thei ndy. org March 25, 2010
li terary | 18
two young men on your porch. dark out.
So there’s this cocker –
You know… Spaniel.
Tere’s a Cocker on Power. And it’s late and it’s dark and he’s out
on his own, but he’s got a collar on, you can hear his tags jangling.
You’re alone?
Alone on Power and I see this cocker and he could be hit by a
car, or, or kidnapped. And you know. He’s some family’s dog, they
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
call up his family and return their cocker. Tink of it. Knocking on
some big house, a saved cocker in my arms. Music. So I go towards
him and he seems friendly but then he lets out a little bark, he’s
scared of me, so he goes, bark. Ten I give up and I keep walking
and I leave the cocker.
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
Well, it was too late to call his house. It would’ve been very rude.
But would you do that to me? If I was alone and lost and aimless
and scared in the middle of the night? Would you just keep moving
and hope I go on, hope I survive somehow on Power?
How in the world did they name these streets?
I have my ideas.
John worked himself to death, you see. His father was in the fur
business and he could’ve inherited the entire operation, but John
had a mind of his own. He didn’t know about fur and he had other
plans. His mother could never understand why he didn’t just do the
fur thing. It would be simple, John. But John wanted self employ-
ment, self-fulfllment, self enjoyment so he did odds and ends until
he was rich and then he did nothing.
When John built this house here the whole block was empty.
Barren, I tell you, barren.
You ever seen a desert in New England?
It was empty and entirely frozen in those days.
Some animals walked around with bare feet and they’d get so frozen
and so numb eventually you’d have to amputate the entire foot,
halfway up the leg.
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
back then, to be shaking hands like that.
People didn’t shake like that. Only your most intimate friends
would you shake like that.
But he shook anyone and he said: “I’m John, welcome to the street.”
And when he died the neighbors threw the frst block party in
American history.
When he died everyone cried so hard and drank each others’ tears
Tey even danced sinfully.
And the street it didn’t have a name yet so they just named it John
Sometimes I wish I’d been alive much earlier in time
Because men like John
Men like John
Tey don’t exist these days. As far as I can tell.
So there was this little kitten.
You shouldn’t touch those I swear to God, Nina got rabies from one
of those kittens.
No but this was a cute little kitten.
Never trust it, just never trust it.
I’m tired of your advice.
Arnold, before he died he had kittens and it was before vaccina-
tions. B.V.
And you can hold me to this. You can.
Tose. Animals. Murdered. Him.
When a man needs an animal it’s a bad omen.
Never content with just a person.
Mr. Williams has so many animals. One for each of his wife’s in-
We mustn’t speak such nonsense.
So this kitten’s tail was broken and cut.
Don’t try and make me sympathize, don’t you even try.
Someone sliced her tail of on purpose. It was painfully clear. Tey
wanted that tail.
Damn fur business.
Tere is no fur business anymore, honey.
I still wear a mink from time to time.
Tat’s an omen of unrest, I’m warning you.
You know I used to be so uptight I couldn’t fall asleep. I was worried
I left the stove on.
But then I moved right next-door to the frehouse so I don’t have to
worry about leaving the stove on. I can’t wake up these days.
Life without Arnold has been terrible and simple.
I had to change streets.
Change wardrobes.
I’m in the process of being reborn.
Forgive me.
I never liked Arnold.
I know. And he never liked you.
Te city council meeting, a long time ago.
What are the best things?
So that’s fve.
We still have some extra streets to name.
So. Why don’t we just.
Use our own names for the rest.
Tat should be plenty.
Tat should be plenty.
yoUng Man one and tWo are smoking a cigarette
on your porch, they remain casual. tWo is nearly passed out.
I never walk around places as old as this.
I’m used to walking around new places.
I’m used to… stucco and…
I’m scared of ghosts so.
I’m up at night a lot around here because.
Lots of ghosts from the.
Puritans or.
And where I’m from streets are named after famous numbers
Famous fowers.
I grew up on the corner of 3
and Dahlia.
One time we found this Corgi in the park.
Real fat.
I forget his name.
And he didn’t have his tags on.
And my dad said, “We are taking this Corgi home until we fnd
his family”.
It was a civic responsibility.
And he pooped all over our house.
He spent the night.
He was scared.
Pooped on everything, in everything, in bathtubs, on sweaters.
But in the morning my dad looked at him in complete forgiveness.
And that’s
Te kind of guy I want to be.
On a street somewhere nearby I keep imagining
Tis dead cocker spaniel
Crushed by a tire, tire marks on his fur
I think of how many hours it took for him to die
Bitten by a rabid animal, twitching on the asphalt
So. Many. Hours.
And a child will fnd it one day
Breathless and still
A child who belonged to it.
And it will be my fault.
I’d like to dedicate this thing
To that cocker because
I want to be redeemed.
b e ne Vol e nce
b y MaX p os ne r
i l l us t r at i on b y b e cc a l e V i ns on
fRI MARcH 26
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LObby // IT’S fREE fOR ALL
HELL, 73 RIcHMOND ST. // $7
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