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ethnicity and the university experience
Brown University l April 29, 2010 l Volume 10 l Issue 28
LETTER FROM THE EDITORS the
BEAR NAKED \\ emily simmons
Editor-in-Chief Marshall Katheder
Executive Editors Allison Zimmer Ellen “Scraps “ Cushing Managing Editor of Features and Lifestyle Matthew Klebanoff Features Editors Kate Doyle Fred Milgrim Managing Editor of Arts and Culture Sam Carter Music Editor Katie Delaney Theatre Editor Rachel Lamb Film Editor Max Godnick Literary Editor Ben Schreckinger Copy Chief Sarah Forman Copy Editors Julia Kantor Anisha Sekar Paul Watanabe Phil Lai Layout Editors Madelynn Johnston Alexandra Linn Graphics Editor Katerina Dalavurak Photo Editor Kate Doyle Staff Photographers Kayla Smith Nick Sinnott-Armstrong Web Designer Eric Stayton Web Editor Allison Palm Publicist Diana Shifrina
Post- may be one of Brown’s youngest publications, but I certainly can’t imagine a Brown without it. Since transferring here three years ago, I have spent every Wednesday, several Sundays, and many late nights in between in the upstairs office of 195 Angell—chugging boxed wine in plastic cups, losing track of time and struggling to put together a magazine before dawn breaks, hoarding stale Oreos in the built-in cabinets, and laughing with friends. I’ve learned a few things too, like how to seduce a pair of drunken New Zealanders, how to cure boredom with scavenger hunts and Entourage reruns, and how to make six hours feel like 20 minutes. Looking back at my time at Brown, I’ve come to realize that the memories I cherish the most, the stories I tell and retell to anyone who will listen, all began here in some way. There was that infamous night of attempted editorial hijacking, more “Gates” than can be named, and one very unfortunate first impression that has, luckily, turned into a strong friendship. Through it all, I’ve learned how to make things happen, how to follow ideas from birth to completion. I’ve learned that sometimes it’s better to produce something you find funny than to worry about the approval of everyone else. Thanks to editors both current and former, especially Ellen, Kelly, Arthur, and Marsh. I’ve enjoyed every second of it and, despite any setbacks or small failures, that’s what counts. Love,
05 arts & culture 06 arts & culture
WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT RACE \\arthur matuszewski
MUSICIANS @ BROWN\\ clay aldern MAKING BANK FROM FACEBOOK \\ priyanka chatterjee
07 food & booze 08 sex
MELANCHOLY PLAY \\ doug eacho TOUGH GUISE \\ sam carter POTTY MOUTH \\ ted lamm and alex logan WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS... \\ anisha sekar
OUT WITH A BANG \\ allie wollner WE MIGHT TELL \\ the hardy brothers
Yo. You probably don’t know who I am, but I’ve been the bad cop editor lurking behind these here pages since two falls ago, when I wandered into our office as a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed tranny and managed to convince the then-editors take a chance on me, inflection problems and all. Now, two years later, I’ve somehow been allowed to serve in some four different editorial positions of ye olde arts and culture insert, and Post- has come to define my Brown experience more than damn near anything else: it is, after all, because of our Wednesday production nights that I’ve never made it to that Browniest of Brown traditions, FishCo; because of our unabashed institutional affinity for heavy drinking, gratuitous nudity and generally irresponsible behavior that I’ll never, ever be able to get a proper job; and because of the people I’ve been surrounded by in my time here that I’ve developed a deep—if slightly begrudging— affection for boxed wine, Taylor Swift, chocolate-chip-flavored cookies and, um, Berge-watching. Here at Post-, I’ve met some of the best and brightest and most talented people I’ll ever be lucky enough to know; been challenged to take myself less seriously and to appreciate those around me for exactly who they are; finally figured out how and when to pick my battles, editorial and otherwise; learned how good it feels to make a product I’m consistently proud of and entertained by; and seen more freaky shit on ChatRoulette than I ever knew existed. For all this and so much more, I’d like to thank all Post- editors and staffers, past and present, but especially Matt Hill, Rajiv Jayadevan, Kelly McKowen, Arthur Matuszewski and Allison Zimmer. And of course you, dear reader. It’s been real. Oh the places we’ll go,
Post- Magazine is published every Thursday in the Brown Daily Herald. It covers books, theater, music, film, food, art, and University culture around College Hill. Post- editors can be contacted at post. magazine@gmail. com. Letters are always welcome, and can be either e-mailed or sent to Post- Magazine, 195 Angell Street, Providence, RI 02906. We claim the right to edit letters for style, clarity, and length.
Into the Woods
at Production Workshop Friday April 30 at 8 pm Saturday May 1 at 5 pm & 10 pm Sunday May 2 at 8 pm Monday May 3 at 8 pm
THURSDAY, APRIL 29, 2010
Favorite Post- Moments This Year
1 2 3 4 5
“Should we smoke first?”—(Asked before we started compiling this list.) Emasculating Marshall. Alice (a phenomenal custodian) telling us us that Post-’s drinking is “our little secret” Getting Juniper while it was snowing. Ben coming up with Berge Watchin’ to describe spotting our favorite cape-donning, power-walking, bizarrely enunciating administrator.
6 Pondering about our sex columnists’conquests. 7 Meeting and photographing the most excellent Excalibur. 8 Allison getting romantically assaulted by Kiwis. 9 Playing a Chatroulette scavenger hunt. 10 Watching the entirety of R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet in ten-minute installments.
explaining brown’s raunchy traditions
I disagree. I say that, as a witness, the privilege is all mine. For me, this event offers not only a chance to snag a free midnight snack despite potential lack of hygiene, but also a chance to play a lively game of I Spy. The Runner on the other hand, risks being identified and, I can only assume, humiliated by this loss of confidentiality. But maybe there is a deeper sentimental benefit for both parties. Surely the Runners must experience an unparalleled natural high while strutting naked and masked through the mezzanine, donuts in hand. For witnesses who look up from a 23 pound organic chemistry textbook with blurry eyes, the Naked Donut Run brings them back to reality. For me, just one glance at that 6 foot, naked Food-Bearer and I remember that some things are larger than schoolwork. In one moment, my head clears of all the overly giganticized words I had fruitlessly attempted to incorporate into my purposefully condescending, don’t-Isound-sophisticated-because-I-usedthe-word-dichotomy-three-times-inone-paragraph essay. I reason that if nameless figures can feel so comfortable with their bodies, then why should I stress over a take-home essay? The donut is mightier than the pen. It doesn’t take much to realize that this is not the only “fleshy” tradition Brown has—and it’s not the only one to induce some second thoughts. When it comes to being nude and proud, nothing beats Sex Power God. Any avid fan of The O’Reilly Factor must be familiar with this annual Brown tradition, the one that most enhances our reputation as a liberal hippy haven. Sex Power God remains the only “clothes not encouraged” party on the Ivy circuit and something on every Brown student’s college to-do list. As a freshman, I heard the tales of extreme debauchery, mass nudity, and double-digit EMS records. But did I believe their stories? I merely lent them credence, ready to take it back if Sex Power God fell short of my expectations—I went to boarding school, I’d seen it all. I realize now how wrong and embarrassingly naïve I was, because I actually spent time picking out an outfit for the party. Sex Power God was not only an epic dance but also a chance for me to marvel at the wonders of the human consciousness set free from social confines. It was fun and exhilarating, it opened my heart, and it freed my mind. I gained a new perspective. And I lost my clothes. Another tradition that calls my attention to sexual undertones lies faceup on the steps up to Pembroke campus. Superstition holds that, by merely stepping on the Pembroke seal, you will either be impregnated or impregnate someone else (the choice is yours). Of course, this is absurd. But for some reason, when rushing to afternoon class in Smitty B, I always cling mercilessly to the wrought-iron railing in an effort to avoid impending doom. Behind my Shades Plus faux-Wayfarers, I’m always watching to see who will be the next misstep victim. When I see pitiable girls who casually step on the seal, I can’t help but smile with glee as I stifle my urge to point and scream BINGO! As if our fate as future mothers rested solely on arbitrary foot placement en route to class. You would think Brown students know that pregnancy can be avoided by more conventional means. Or avoiding Wednesday nights at FishCo. Why do some of Brown’s most central traditions revolve around perverted sexual themes? What are we trying to prove to the world? We are naked in public, indulge in erotic dance parties, and taunt innocent passers-by with pregnancy, but what for? To use my favorite cliché, these seemingly arbitrary traditions build character, not just for the students, but for the school itself. Brown is usually synonymous with words like “liberal,” “nonconformist,” “eccentric,” and “GQ’s douchiest college.” But maybe we need that “hippy tree-hugging bullshit” in order to be ranked “happiest college” by the Princeton Review. Maybe traditions like these show that Brown is a place where things that bother the haughty, old money bourgeois just don’t matter. We like to explore, whether emotionally physically. We’re not Harvard, after all.
With finals steadily approaching and Spring Weekend hangovers almost fully recovered, the Brown masses will be flocking to the libraries for that dreaded Reading Period. And as eyelids get heavier and textbooks seem to get longer, we’ll be swiveling our heads in anxious anticipation of the annual Naked Donut Run. This event (or more accurately, this strolling peep show with refreshments) features the unannounced delivery of donuts by a group of anonymous nudes to each of the Brown libraries at peak study hours. In this case, witnessing stark nudity is considered a welcome distraction from study-induced agony in the stacks. Some may consider this tradition odd—when asked about his personal encounters with the nude invasion, SciLi security officer Keach had nothing more to say than “It’s weird.” He expressed quite candidly that he would never participate himself if given the chance, and that he would refuse to accept any snacks from the streakers, no matter how tempting the chocolate glaze. But apart from a bystander’s perspective, finding out more about this event has proven extremely difficult. The Naked Runners and the Donut Coordinator himself have all been sworn to secrecy. They say that being involved is a privilege to be earned, a new level of social status unattainable to most.
ATTITTUDE DANCE CO.’S ANNUAL SPRING SHOW Alumnae Hall l Sat. 7pm
BROWN FOLK FESTIVAL
Lincoln Field l Sat. 11am
OUT OF BOUNDS PRESENTS: SPECTOOBULAR! Macmillan 117 l Sat. 9pm BADMAASH SHOW: TEAR IT UP Salomon 101 l Fri. 7pm
INTO THE WOODS PW l Fri., Sun., Mon. 8pm, Sat. 5pm & 10pm
What We Talk About When We Talk About Race
dents to cozy into corners where we can be comfortable with our narratives. The Deans’ offices and associated campus resources are stacked with thinkers and actors mindful of race, and our faculty, by and large, support us all in singing our individual voices. These days, for the first time in the history of higher education, students are being admitted to reflect a world diverse in thought, body, and means. It is a diversity we hope to see our university emulate. In essence, this sly trick of social engineering leads to the oddly Balkanized sense many students encounter in our dining halls, in our social pairs, in our random couplings. We’re all put together because someone on high believes it right for us to be here, and it’s up to us to put ourselves together in ways that are to remain mindful of years of institutional and cultural oppression, yet still friendly enough to dap a passing hello. Yet, from our limited perspectives, what we see before us is a medley of racialized music groups, performance groups, and political groups—the collective consciousness of the American experiment in all its shining glory. I’m not here to pit melting pot against salad bowl, but what seems lost in this assortment is a sense of race writ large—how our presence as students in this university scheme is tied up in questions of who we are as an institution, and what being Brown says about being brown, white, and all the colors that funky speaker at Obama’s inauguration spoke of. One of the first things a friend told me when I arrived on the Hill was that I had had an easier time making it to Brown than she had, because my SATs weren’t valued like hers were. She told me she had worked harder in high school, with APs and IBs and acronyms my school wouldn’t understand. There are faculty members who have felt this way, just as past generations have felt the scourge of terms like “reverse racism,” “token,” and “you only got this ‘cuz you’re on the privileged side.” The latter remains arguably the most politically safe to say, but what all three have in common is the sense of a hierarchy of suffering. Despite our shared presence here, there seems to be a tendency to devalue others in order to make yourself feel more at peace with your place. Professor of Economics Glenn Loury—whose saga of being the first African-American tenured economist at Harvard included stints in the hood and reclamation of racial restitution— is a lesson for the ways we as a society and as an institution talk about race. Commenting on the Henry Louis “Skip” Gates’ arrest controversy in a July 2009 New York Times oped piece, he called it a “made-for-TV tempest-in-a-teapot” that diverted attentions from the institutions of domestic security—policing, prisons, anti-drug policy, and the like—that are the real areas of conflict for race discussions today. So, how does Brown figure into these vestiges of slavery and injustice? Since the Slavery and Justice Report, issued in final form in 2006, the University has grappled with just how to make sense of its initiatives so it can move from discussions of reparations to talk about truly reconstituting society. Yet, despite memorializiation
ethnicity and the university experience
memoranda and lofty discourse about the complexities of commemorating difficulties with our past, we’ve succeeded only in bringing together swaths of academic jargon to confirm just that: that there’s discourse to be had, and that there’s complexity to it. In the same span, Brown and institutions across Providence have committed themselves to investing in the “Knowledge Economy” of our fair state. These investments, principally research-directed and aimed at increasing the amounts of high-skill, high-technology jobs in our communities, do little to build from the bottom up, or to make due course upon the stark realization that the communities most impacted by Brown’s colonial past are those most cleaved and cut by it’s burgeoning present. When race rears its head, we talk about it with the acknowledgement that our president is black, and point to the multifarious ways we commit ourselves to serving knowledge to the community through service and good work. Talk of “traditionally marginalized populations” and areas of economic misfortune” replaces real discussion of the bodies affected by staff layoffs—and about administrative privileging of initiatives that do little to accept the challenges before us with history properly behind us. In the same ways, a vague institutional valuation of the community at large fails to find reflection in policies from tenure to organization to the classroom experiences. So race is often spoken of, yet simultaneously left unspoken of, in how we engage in our University practices. At this past weekend’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People breakfast, the Brown delegation was represented by a white anthropologist, a lifelong NAACP member, whose presence on the podium served to underline where our academic racial logic has taken us. Africana Studies—and similar disciplines founded out of a latter 1970s rush to reclaim the battle for thought from dirty imperialists and colonizers of minds—continue to exist and thrive within the establishment, but also to leave bodies of all shades struggling to make sense of “race” the construction with race the function. Social logic replaces administrative logic, and we all go back to living our lives straddling conflicts buried throughout our being. This past weekend, a mass of what college guidebooks go gaga over gathered to bob its elite, finely coiffed heads to Snoop Dogg—a rap star exemplifying the best of swag and the ghetto game. I dig Snoop with all my heart, but there are questions there that I haven’t answered. What’s race when it takes a faculty arrest of a Harvard University Professor to get us to ask why and if it matters that our President is black? C’est la vie, let the race run on.
arthur MATUSZEWSKI editor emeritus
I’m with you on this—why’s a white boy writing about race at Brown? My mind ran when I saw the e-mail request for writing this— it may be that I’m declared in Africana Studies, but that’s just a place name and a signifier. I’m loath to fall into the clichéd answer that “race is something that affects all of us.” While that may be true, the extent to which we think it affects us is really what I’m after. Race is a proxy for many things on campus, as much as it is a proxy for itself. We spend our days dissecting fancy names and lofty theories in the pursuit of equality and fraternity, but oftentimes we forget the bodies interacting in the work-aday college shuffle. These bodies are essentially racialized, classed, gendered, and otherwise hung up to dry in a sea of other identities—so much so that, when we sit in on a seminar, gather in a conference room, or make public pronouncements about slavery and justice, we oh-so-subtly convince ourselves that our physical selves are immune to the politics we’re so quick to critique. There are numerous places—safe and unsafe—on campus where we gather to remind ourselves of our friction-causing identities. Formally, the Third World Center was borne of a revolutionary struggle to create a home and voice for those welcomed late into the academy as a whole. Myriad identity groups exist—from South Asia to Africa, from the Near East to the Islands to everywhere between the false spectrums we use to define ourselves—and allow stu-
clayton ALDERN contributing writer
As a solo musician, you experience it countless times: the longing for collaboration. Whether it comes in the form of someone to harmonize with, a jam session, or just a fellow player to bounce ideas off of, collaboration is an essential part of music. Should I resolve this progression or end in some artsy suspension? I wish I knew a tuba player. What rhymes with ‘hegemony’? Roadblocks like these provided the fuel for three Brown sophomores to turn an idealistic crumb of a dream into a sharp reality. Sam Rosenfeld and Lee Saper, both ’12, were frustrated: as roommates and musicians, they were excited to collaborate with fellow jammers around campus but unsure of how exactly to locate them. In this sense, Musicians@ Brown began as an irritation, akin to that kind of tonal dissonance that makes your face twitch. Rosenfeld and Saper knew what was needed: a method of connecting musicians around the University, especially for those of us outside the organized department. After a whirlwind of “what-if”s and “ifonly”s, mutual friend Andrew Antar ’12 jumped on the idea of a database—and with a little HTMLovin’, Musicians@ Brown was born. The M@B website, which is currently hosted through Googledocs, is a relatively simple concept: users answer questions pertaining to their musical skills and tastes, and their responses populate a searchable spreadsheet. “There’s this huge critical mass of musicians waiting to collaborate,” explains Antar. “The more people that fill out the form, the more powerful the database becomes.” Upon completing the form, you are granted access to the file. Non-instrumentalists (such as producers and composers) are allowed in as well, since there are only four redasterisk-marked mandatory questions (read: first name, last name, e-mail, class year). “As it turns out,” offers Rosenfeld, “we lived down the hall from two guitarists and a bassist and right below a pianist.” Convenient, to say the least, but not as uncommon as you might think. This is Brown. There is a multitude of untapped musical talent around our campus, and Musicians@ Brown is a melodic call to arms. “What we’re really trying to do is provide an outlet for people who want to get a foot in the door of the music community,” adds Saper. Not surprisingly, the spreadsheet has already seen success. Take, for example, Antar being contacted through the database at the final hour to play violin for a production of “Into the Woods.” The current website, however, is just the beginning: more of a catalyst than an operating system. The future of Musicians@Brown looks bright—especially considering the excitement of its creators. Immediate plans include the creation of a standalone website, with features such as individual profiles, the ability to join groups and post on message boards, a built-in mixer, and a live calendar of all musical events on campus, both official and informal. “It’s all about the idea of creating a musical identity,” says Antar. The ability to upload and mix music for instant critique, modeled after such websites as indaba.com, would mediate the continued musical dialogue that the designers are hoping to inspire. And the dreams get bigger: Rosenfeld et al. are set on creating a multimedia community that connects artists from across the spectrum—be it music, dance, or visual art—and facilitating multifaceted creative events. Musical expression often hungers for collaboration. Let’s face it, even the lone wolf raspy crooner on the Main Green wants to sing the occasional song around the campfire. If you’re
THURSDAY, APRIL 29, 2010
arts & culture
why can’t we all just play together?
looking to track down a few didgeridoo players for that “back to basics” album you’ve been meaning to produce, this would probably be the place to look. As it happens, there is a current pending request in the database for traditional Irish musicians. Bagpipes aside, the expanding project has already seen a great amount of success in answering calls just like this. Musicians@Brown provides an effective approach to a common dilemma, and, as a result, we can hope to hear a lot more musical mélange floating around College Hill.
Making Bank From Facebook
priyanka CHATTERJEE contributing writer
Perhaps you’ve heard of “the Facebook.” You may know it as “the poor woman’s Prospect & Meeting.” We kid. Calling Facebook a social phenomenon is like calling Russian Lit easy: it’s a bit of an understatement. The Web site is currently the second most visited in the world. It has revolutionized not only the Internet, but also patterns of offline social interactions. Everything from job-hunting, to advertising, to reconnecting with old friends has been thoroughly transformed by the ’Book. Just look at the couple who met on the site because they had the same name and decided it would be fun to be Facebook friends. They are now engaged. Given its impact, one could expect a book on the origins of Facebook and the story of its creation to be a deep critique on the way it has affected interpersonal relations in society or even how it has made the term social networking ubiquitous. Instead, Ben Mezrich’s The Accidental Billionaires is more a coming-of-age tale of two socially awkward Harvard undergraduates. It reads as if Judd Apatow had taken on the rise of Facebook’s founders. Said founders, Eduardo Saverin and Mark Zuckerberg, are your stereotypical Harvard boys: smart, socially inhibited, and yearning for the acceptance of their peers. The book is written like a story, and Saverin is the protagonist. We follow him as he tries to gain acceptance into one of Harvard’s exclusive all-male Finals Clubs, through _his first meeting with Zuckerberg, and through the prank that would lead them into both infamy and riches. From the beginning of the book, Mezrich evokes a soap opera, painting Zuckerberg and Saverin as if they were star-crossed lovers. Their first meeting is almost magical, as Saverin remembers seeing Zuckerberg at various other social fraternity events and decides
the unanticipated financial fate
to strike up a conversation with him. With “his reputation preceding him,” the two form an unlikely friendship, bonding over their shared genius (Saverin had made millions investing while in high school and Zuckerberg had received a multi-million dollar offer from Microsoft which he turned down for Harvard) and their shared awkwardness. The book is an easy read but not a smooth one. Mezrich tries to make the story mysterious and dramatic; each chapter title is a detail of the setting, either a time or a place. While successful in creating an aura of suspense, it is mentally jarring and disrupts the continuity of the story. Furthermore, each chapter ends with a dramatic and ominous line, crossing the boundary from a dramatic account to a melodramatic attempt at a thriller. It is difficult to completely descend into the thriller genre, as the reader will recall that the book is about the beginnings of a social networking site that goes on to be massively successful. Whatever dramatic, short-term setbacks the duo faces, such as temporarily crashing Harvard’s online network, it is hard to forget that the ending of the story involves billions of dollars and near-global ubiquity. It undermines the credibility of the dramatic composition, but the book remains an enjoyable read, if only for the interesting trivia included. Such trivia includes the original intention of the site. Zuckerberg and Saverin created the site in order to vote on and catalog the various “hot girls” roaming around Harvard’s campus, it reports. After an onslaught of complaints, an accusation of plagiarism, and a subpoena from Harvard’s IT department, Zuckerberg was brought in front of a panel of deans in order to determine his transgressions. This is the type of plot point that Mezrich glosses over in favor of more salacious details. He tries to fashion Zuckerberg and Saverin into rock stars, avoiding their technological prowess and innovation in favor of their transformation from geeks to celebrities. There is no mention of what Facebook—or “Facemash” as it was originally called—has become for our generation. Instead you get melodrama, hot girls, and geeks turning into hot commodities: The formula for the film is already there. In fact, following the box-office success of 21 — the movie version of Mezrich’s last self-indulgent fantasy book for nerds—a film adaption of Billionaires is already in the works. This seems to be a book more of cinematic than literary merit, so I would recommend waiting to see it in theaters. We hear Michael Cera is available.
Photo courtesy of bookpeek.blogspot.com
arts & culture
uncle vanya at brown/trinity consortium
drinking buddy, Astrov (Per Janson GS). If you’re familiar with Chekhov, the rest is predictable: there’s very little romance, plenty of drinking and crying, some sad old people, and some happy idiots. Perlman’s production is polished and faithful. The set, designed by Patrick Lynch, is ingenious, even if it does occasionally dwarf the actors. A two-story canvas painted as an autumnal forest is punctuated by doors and windows, doubling as an exterior backdrop and interior wall. The handsome stage is raked, allowing the audience to see every actor in the many group scenes, and birch trees pepper the semi-circular house. Of course, success and failure with Chekhov are determined by the performances, so it’s fortunate that they are terrific. Vine is especially nuanced and heartbreaking as the awkward, lovesick Sonya. From the moment she begins talking, we recognize her as that weird kid everyone started ignoring in seventh grade; Uncle Vanya is a trip into that kid’s wounded subconscious. Janson and O’ Neill are immensely magnetic performers, qualities that serve them well as the attractive Astrov and Yelena, who are realized here with a subtle arrogance. They are all helped by Curt Columbus’s simple, flowing translation. Gregory’s Vanya, however, is tied up in what may be this production’s only flaw: tone. The play works best when it is at its slowest, as in Acts II and IV, feeling like a late-night drunken dorm conversation that accidentally becomes too personal. Perlman (who directed Hamlet, We Are Proud to Present…) has a clean and orderly aesthetic, and Gregory (Algernon in The Importance of Being Earnest at Trinity) excels at physical comedy. Yet the Vanya that Perlman and Gregory have created veers uncomfortably towards farce: he is loud and showy, and doesn’t seem as depressed as every other character says he is. Literature classes everywhere have drilled this mantra into our heads: Chekhov is supposed to be funny. Well, maybe this was funny in Russia in 1900, but judging by this production of Vanya, which tries very hard to push the comedy, Chekhov shouldn’t be funny. When Vanya famously tries to kill Astrov and misses—twice—is that sad? Farcical? I can hear those lit classes screaming, “It’s both!” and Perlman has definitely tried to make “both” work. Sorry, Chekhov scholars, but the result is confusing and aimless. Gregory milks the play for laughs, and then I don’t quite believe his tears. I quibble. If a production’s only problems are that it’s too polished and too energetic, that’s a pretty great show. Uncle Vanya is a justified classic, one of the most powerful statements of depression and melancholy ever written. Perlman’s team, rounded out by quietly perfect work from the other designers and actors, has mounted the show with a confidence and professionalism that we so rarely find up on our hill.
The Pell Chaffee Performance Center is a huge old bank building next to AS220 and the Perishable Theater, at 87 Empire Street. Thursday at 7:30, Friday at 5. Tickets are $10 at trinityrep.com or at 401-351-4242.
Forget that old train tunnel. Stop trying to get up the bell tower. The bestkept secret in Providence is just a 15 minute walk away: one of Brown’s graduate theater programs (officially, the “Brown/ Trinity MFA Consortium”), based in the Pell Chafee Performance Center of the Trinity Repertory Company. Let’s get the important stuff out of the way, shall we? Right now the MFA graduating class is performing Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, directed by Michael Perlman GS as his directing thesis. It’s probably the best Providence production of the season, unless you preferred Woyzeck, the other thesis production of this year. But you didn’t see Woyzeck, did you? I didn’t think so. Well, this weekend is your chance to atone, move your butt down the hill, and see some fabulous theater. “We shall have rest,” Sonya desperately insists at the end of Uncle Vanya, reminding us of the Three Sisters’ hopes for Moscow. In Vanya, however, the characters don’t have any hopes of escaping their countryside confinement. They only hope for death. What little plot there is centers around a lovesick quartet shacked up together in a country manor. Sonya (Lizzie Vine GS) and her titular uncle (Karl Gregory GS) live in the house, attempting to manage the little money their family has left and nurse their own depressions. Vanya quickly falls for Sonya’s beautiful visiting stepmother, Yelena (Molly O’Neill GS), just as Sonya falls for Vanya’s charismatic
Photo courtesy of trinityrep.com
sam CARTER random guy
a look at justified
Eastwood could inspire boot-quaking in the hardiest of individuals. Others may try to emulate and equal, but they will certainly fail. So when FX put out Justified this season—a show about a Stetson-wearing U.S. marshal reassigned to the Kentucky hill country after using questionable methods while assigned to a post in Miami—viewers could certainly expect that the supposedly outlaw-esque lawman would strive for Eastwood excellence. To belabor the obvious, Timothy Olyphant is no Clint Eastwood. As U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, Olyphant attempts to convey a character first imagined by Elmore Leonard in his novels Pronto and Riding the Rap, and in his short story “Fire in the Hole.” Whether Olyphant does a good job capturing Leonard’s character is irrelevant; what matters more is whether the former Deadwood star can create a character that will capture the attentions of the audience enough to earn the series a second season. When asked about the nature of an incident inwhich Givens shoots a man in Miami and is consequently reassigned to Kentucky, all Olyphant utters is, “It was justified.” To be a badass who captures the adoration of an audience like Eastwood, that phrase needs to be uttered in a manner such that there will be no further questions. But, alas, this is not the case here. A southern drawl sugarcoats the phrase, a slightly guilty smile curls on Givens’ face, and it seems like the character is not a man trying to uphold the law of the land, but rather a child trying to explain why he took a cookie from the cookie jar. No one is asking for gravitas in a Western style lawman. Too much seriousness and he loses the rugged individuality that so defines such a character. Just show some evidence that you actually possess balls. Granted, Givens can possibly refute Einstein with the speed at which he draws his gun, but that’s just skill. He can come up with ideas to deal with a tricky situation, and doesn’t mind facing the consequences when his ideas fail, but he does little to evince the complete disregard for the outside world that characterizes a superb Eastwood performance. Five episodes in, Justified’s producers haven’t decided who they want Givens to be. Like a poorly composed recipe, the end result is a dish that makes your guest question your intentions. By tying him up with troubles with his lawbreaking father, romantically involving him with a witness in a pending case, and placing his ex-wife in the thick of things, the creative team behind the show fragments Raylan into a character that does little to attract viewers searching for an escape from their own realities. We all pine for Eastwood, and while Olyphant might try to create a new character within the canon of Westerns, he is too vaguely defined to pass as a decent alternative for those nights when AMC isn’t showing a classic like The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.
Let’s face the music, but this time it’s from Ennio Morricone. No one can ever match Clint Eastwood when it comes to being a complete badass in any situation. Even as a decrepit Detroit grandpa in Gran Torino,
Photo courtesy of icelebz.com
THURSDAY, APRIL 29, 2010
food & booze
ted LAMM and alex LOGAN food columnists
Unless it wasn’t previously obvious, we are nothing like Jack Bauer. Well, as long as you can ignore our strong taste for waterboarding and shared affinity for yelling on the telephone. Thankfully, this allows us to sample and appreciate bathrooms far and wide. Though oft overlooked, the restaurant bathroom provides many things: a welcome respite from awkward conversation, what is best known as “cocktail relief,” and a chance to pretty yourself up if you’ve been sweating over some intense Indian food, wasabi vinaigrette, or a close Red Sox game. The restaurant bathroom is often a reflection of the restaurant’s soul— a window into the experience that a careful chef is attempting to craft. Other times, it’s a port-a-potty behind a taco stand, equal parts revolting and evocative. Regardless, visiting the restaurant bathroom is something we highly recommend, for it helps to complete your dining experience. A surprisingly high percentage of restaurant visits require a cool-down moment. Whether it is stilted con-
“There are two things that Jack Bauer never does. Show mercy, and go to the bathroom.” – Kiefer Sutherland
versation with a date, awkwardly obvious passive-aggression from your date’s mom, or your friend’s friend’s insufferable laugh/personality, it is not infrequent that you will find yourself needing to step away from the table to rearrange hair and wits alike (just remember not to take too long). Similarly, there are certain self-induced circumstances that drive this same necessity: getting halfway through a drink that simply shouldn’t have been ordered in the first place, miserably uncouth comments toward said date’s father (“How was I supposed to know your dad is a Republican?”), and buffalo wings. In all cases, a quick trip to the restroom can provide you the opportunity to calm down, make things right, and clean the hell up. A well-executed bathroom can be as much a part of a restaurant’s décor as the dining room. At Nick’s on Broadway, for example, a trip to the restroom affords the lucky customer with a chorizo-red column of serenity punctuated by a massive mirror inclined just-so, custom-printed hand towels meticulously arranged, and an initially off-putting but eventually redeeming ceiling-height window into the rest of the space, providing light without compromising privacy. It is this attention to detail with a flair for the theatrical, reflective of the cooking and service overall, that reminds you what you’re paying for. Contrast with, for instance, Julian’s, where a dim and gimmicky cubby with plumbing expresses everything in a neat, self-conscious sentence. A bathroom need not be perfect, however, in order to get the job done while evoking the restaurant’s underlying thesis. Take George’s on Ives, for example, where a walk past the kitchen and through the weirdly large office space takes you into a clean, large and unfinished restroom that has certainly seen its share of hangover-induced emergencies but is none the worse for wear. Someone has tried to paint a mural here but gave up halfway through because it was good enough—the George’s ethos, in a sense, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Or at Ruffuls in Wayland Square, you can venture through the kitchen, down the stairs, past the office and across the basement into what is the strongest expression of restaurant-patron trust one can imagine. Though they are certainly far from the culinary realm, on-campus bathrooms can provide a similarly important service to their patrons, and we would be remiss if we didn’t enter into a brief discussion here. The 3rd floor men’s room in Smith-Buannano stands as a shining beacon of how a good bathroom can turn a bad day around, especially if you make it into the stall with the window in it. The Ratty basement men’s room gives possibly the best hand-wash on campus. The 2nd floor men’s room in the Classics Department is, in a word, phenomenal, and worth visiting office hours for the experience. We’re not sure what this means, but the 2nd floor men’s room in Walter Hall bears a strong resemblance to a CIA safehouse in Prague. And for god’s sake visit the bathrooms in the John Carter Brown. And alas, the publication gods have finally discovered our hoax and informed us that this is our last column. So, Brown, we say: it has been wonderful and weird, and we’re glad you got something out of it. We certainly did. Peace, gahbless, and cheerio.
When Life Gives You Lemons...
She is committed to her food in a way that few of us can even fathom. She loves her Cheetos with the kind of passionate intensity that inspires (admittedly subpar) novels. She bears her soup stains like war wounds. And—perhaps most admirable of all—when she bites into her sub sandwich with its special dipping sauce, she eats with the single-minded focus and awareness of the most enlightened Buddhist monk. It is all too easy to slip into being one of the Jack Donaghys of the world, always chasing after the next level of sophistication but never able to enjoy a KFC Double Down (which, for readers who aren’t as up-to-date on fast food sensations, consists of bacon and cheese sandwiched between two chicken fillets). Easy, yes, but it’s quite lonely up there on that pedestal. Restricting the community of food-lovers to Asian fusion restaurant- and farmers’ market-frequenters excludes the loyal patrons of the local sports bar, the kids who fake sickness to get some of Mom’s chicken soup, and the legion of West Coasters who will defend to the death the supremacy of In-N-Out. Every time Jack Donaghy mocks, belittles, and criticizes Liz Lemon’s pedestrian fare, you know he must feel a little twinge of envy. Liz has so much to teach us about appreciating food. Take joy in every meal, from the morning donut to the evening mozzarella sticks to the midnight thera-
just eat them
something to be enjoyed, not just fuel to help the body run. I dedicate this column to the star of 30 Rock, who reminds us food snobs that there is something good outside of our organic, expertly seasoned world. As Liz Lemon once said, “I believe that all anyone really wants in this life is to sit in peace and eat a sandwich.” Oh Liz, you speak with your mouth full, but you speak the truth.
Gentle readers, after a year of heading to the Ratty every Thursday morning, snatching a hot-off-the-presses copy of the Herald, and eagerly turning to the food and booze section, it is possible that you may have noticed a certain something. You sense it simmering in every article about home cooking. You catch its scent in a review of Providence restaurants. And after every Dude. Food column, its taste lingers in your mouth. You feel its presence, and though you can’t quite place it, it never fails to make you sigh into your uninspired bowl of Cheerios and milk. It is, my friends, that staple ingredient of every foodie: elitism. It is what makes a food writer the white bean cassoulet to the average Joe’s hamburger casserole; the crepe to his pancake; the farm-fresh, sun-ripened berry preserve to his Smuckers squeezable jam; the Alec Baldwin to his…any of the other Baldwins. And oh, is it delicious. And because so many food writers, myself included, spice their work with generous amounts of sanctimoniousness, I decided to dedicate my final column of the year to a woman of the people, a hotdog stand-frequenting, Easy Mac-microwaving, salt-of-theearth citizen, who, despite all this, is as wedded to food as a nun is to church: the driving force of 30 Rock, the lovable Liz Lemon, played by Tina Fey.
py session courtesy of Ben and Jerry. No matter how successful, stressed, or hyperactive you may become, you’re never too busy to have a decent meal. And most importantly, fight for your food. If someone takes your special sandwich, God have mercy. The Liz Lemons among us are no less members of the society of food lovers than restaurant critics and culinary elitists, and no less essential to the continuation of a culture that sees food as
allie WOLLNER sexplorer
resolve in 800 words or less. I regret that means my treatment of these issues was reductive at best, trivializing at worst. I wish that I had the space to more fully explore the difference between porn and erotica, the ins and outs of casual sex, and the politics of STI status. So how do my word limit frustrations relate to our sex lives? They relate because we do the exact same thing in life— we sweat the small stuff and dismiss the things we should pay attention to, until they grow too large to ignore. So, inquiring minds of Brown University, next time you’re angsting over the end of a thing that was never a thing or agreeing to have sex without a condom because one of you is already on the Pill, ask yourself these two questions: Do I need to devote any more energy to this? And is this something I should think twice about? When I started this job as a sophomore, I didn’t know the first thing about writing a sex column. I just made it up as I went along. And even now, when I sit down to write, I often start without knowing where I’ll end up. But as I write my way through a topic, the message never fails to emerge. This is the same way we should approach sex—even if you don’t know where you’re going or what you’re doing, embark on a self-aware journey of exploration. Interested in testing the spectrum of your sexual orientation? Do it. Want to try to role-play? Put that costume on. Curious about sex in the Rock?
out with a bang
I hear the B level is pretty empty most of the time. Try these things out and see where they take you. In addition to writing columns about topics I’m still trying to understand myself, I also sometimes experiment with form. I’ve written columns as an extended metaphor, a bodice-ripper, a letter to a friend, and a formal etiquette guide. Sometimes they were funny. Other times they sucked. But the times they turned out well made it worth the risk. So, another thing I’d encourage you to implement in your sex lives is responsible risk-taking. I’m talking about good risk-taking, like purchasing a sex toy or making the first move. The other kind of risk-taking—the kind that involves unprotected sex with a Hell’s Angel you met at Kartabar or participating in a threesome with your insecure best friend and his or her insistent partner—are risks to avoid. But as for the other kind of risktaking, look toward Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus as your guide: “Take chances, make mistakes and get messy!” The final thing I want to say is something I’ve said before in many other columns. But once more, for good measure: GO OUT AND GET WHAT YOU WANT. I know, I know—it’s easier said than done. Sometimes you go for it, and you fall on your ass. Sometimes conquests, encounters, or relationships leave a bruise and sometimes they leave a permanent scar. But you have to go for the gold when it comes to sex. Never settle for less than your wildest desires. Never forget that you are the architects of your own sexual destinies. Sexual confidence is 85 percent mental; as soon as you have your first success, you’re on your way to another and another and another. So get out there! Especially at Brown, which boasts 5,900 extraordinary, passionate, multi-talented undergrads to choose from. Did I mention that most of them are also smokin’ hot? Take advantage of each other—in a good way— while you still can. Some parting words for the graduating class of 2010: Though we’re saying goodbye to this well-endowed university and its lush, wet grasses after the Providence rain, come June 1, we’re going to be the newest, freshest PYTs on the block. We got our game; it’s time to share it with the world. Those big, bad cities won’t know what hit ’em. Lastly, thank you to everyone who has tottered up to me at a party on a Friday night and drunkenly slurred that you’ve read the column and that it touched you, or at least that it helped you touch yourself. That feedback never got old. Well, Brown, I guess this is goodbye. So long and thanks for all the sex. I’ll really miss you. Oh, and before I go, I have to ask: was it good for you? Because it was f*cking great for me.
I can’t believe it. After two and a half years, five semesters, 56 weeks and roughly 41,300 words, I compose the last thoughts I will ever offer as Brown’s female sex columnist. People often ask me how I manage to come up with a new topic every week. The truth is that it’s not hard; I could keep writing this column forever. I have unending sources of material. I generate my columns from everything: the suggestions, jokes, and quips furnished by friends; the physiological and psychological challenges everyone’s encountered in the course of a sexual education; and the issues my own sexcapades have forced me to consider. Because this column is the post-coital glow of an extended sexual engagement with the Brown community, I do want to leave my mark. However, condoms expire, hickies fade, and I doubt that anyone would appreciate it if I bequeathed to the Brown student body an STI. So instead, I’m going to conclude my tenure as “sexpert” by sharing some things I’ve learned over the past two and a half years that apply just as much to having sex as to writing about it. Every week, I’m limited to about 800 words. The blessing of the word limit is that it forces me to boil complex sexual issues—from rejection and body image to the etiquette of fluids—down to their bare essentials. However, other components of sex are far too complicated to
We Might Tell
the hardy BROTHERS sexperts
Dear Frank and Joe, I have been reading your column since its inception, often in great excitement. ‘These two guys know so much!’ I always ejaculate to myself. But I sometimes feel crestfallen when finishing another pithy, salacious jaunt through the world of Hardy. After all, one can only apply the knowledge one accrues from your column if one has a willing partner. Indeed, meaning resides in the application. So I must inquire into the first movement, the baseline upon which all of your sexual secrets and carnal crafts are premised. Tell me, oh sagacious Hardies, how does one get laid? Searching Lustily for Useful Tactics and Strategies, (Wishing I Touched Heaven, But Obviating Needs Easily Requires Sex) Joe: No one is born a sagacious sex columnist, so before we set out to tackle the mother of all sexual inquiries, I want to thank Frank for his critical guidance, immaculate editing and lifelong brotherly love. This column would never have existed without him, or the tender care of our editors at Post-, Matt and Marshall. Thank you for your Hardy support.
From the moment we arrive at Brown’s Freshman Orientation through the time that we “senior scramble,” nearly all of us partake in myriad events in which f*cking ranks just behind fun as a common priority and purpose. SexPowerGod and Starfuck. FishCo. Free condoms around campus. And yet, for those of us like S.L.U.T.S.W.I.T.H.B.O.N.E.R.S., the conundrum of how to get laid persists. The struggle is exacerbated by our tendency to take sexual cues only from those whom we see as like-minded in such pursuits. Learning exclusively from such partners not only limits our methods of courtship, but also constricts our openness to new pleasures, sexual or otherwise. Consider the following example: most members of my sports team dismiss the concept of a man being fingered as “gay” or “for fags,” even though the prostate is an analogous organ to a woman’s clitoris. Their loss. Our liberal Brown education tells us that we should embrace our sexual identities and learn from each other accordingly, but getting laid requires a more radical solution. We must apply Gore Vidal’s principle—“there are no homosexual people, only homosexual acts”— to the entire safe and consensual sexual spectrum in order to break with the selfconstructed identities that restrict our romantico-sexual activities. If we unshackle ourselves from rigid identity tags like hetero and homosexual, we will open ourselves up to different kinds of sexual satisfaction. We will get
laid more often because we will employ a greater set and variety of roads to explore destinations, both well traveled and uncharted, on our personal pleasure maps. Our departure marks the perfect time to enact this sexual sea change. To paraphrase a Hardy favorite, we have nothing to lose but our chains. We have a world to win.
Frank: We’ve come a long way, dear reader, and I just can’t keep it in my pants anymore. I want to tell you who we really are! But first, we must address S.L.U.T.S. W.I.T.H. B.O.N.E.R.S.’s question, which troubles all of our hearts and minds more than any other. When Joe and I started writing this column, we offered you our personal sextistics by way of a resume and an introduction, a Hardy hello. It’s been a slutty year since then, in no small part due to the rock star status this column has bestowed upon us. But rock star BDH weekly-insert columnists are people too, and, as such, we constantly worry about when our next sexcapade will be, and who it will be with. That’s why I’m so proud of Joe for formulating the problem in theoretical terms, just like his big brother taught him. In theory, it’s all so simple: if only you could let go of all your preconceptions about sex, and we mean Keep in touch. all of them—gender, age, sexual configF*ck Right, Cook Right, Act Right uration—your options would exponen- (xoxo), tially explode. But what if your sexuality is more The Hardy Brothers
intractable? Lord knows a recent orgy I hosted would have been much better if only I were a little gayer. So if you’re like me, start small. Look around you. Odds are, someone, or several someones, has the hots for you. Granted, maybe you don’t know these people well, or you’ve ruled them out for one reason or other, but I suggest you think again because these people 1) belong to the gender of your preference and 2) are down to f*ck (or something). Starting here is a good way to ensure success. You may be surprised at how many people wouldn’t mind f*cking you if you stopped to really think about it. And now for the big reveal…no, I can’t do it. How could I tell you who we are with all this dirt you have on us? Besides, the best way to know someone, as we’ve always advocated, is in the bedroom, so you’re just going to have to lure us into yours if you want to find out more. I know, I know: another letdown in a long line of many. So, for putting up with us for a whole year, I want to thank you loyal readers and contributors. You inspired us to love more, f*ck better, and try out that new, exciting, but possibly weird thing we were worried might upset our partner.
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