When I bought The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides at the Brown Bookstore, I didn’t run into anyone I knew. Thankfully. The last hardcover book I had purchased during the first week of its release was Harry Potter 7, at a Books-a-Million in Birmingham, Alabama. That night everyone around me had a Southern drawl and a trucker hat, and I felt pretty far from home. Last week, sliding my debit card across the counter, I felt the weight of my parents’ courtship and college experience on my shoulders. This scene had nothing foreign about it, and I came to the sinking realization that I was paying $28.00 for a romanticized novel version of my life and lineage--a plot set in Providence during the time my parents lived here. I, like the protagonist Hannah, am a Brown University senior writing her Honors thesis on decidedly un-sexy literature. Hannah’s Austen is my Emerson. My parents, like Hannah and Leonard, fell in messy love as undergraduates at Brown in the early 80s. Eugenides’s book is a cartoon of my own life, and a super-saturated version of the fantasy I’ve already constructed of my parents’ courtship. And the fact that I’m so into it has forced me to realize exactly how deeply preoccupied I am with myself. Reading this novel as a Brown senior is like watching Good Will Hunting when you’re from Boston. The landmarks are recognizable, and they give you a little thrill, but the assessment of personality types and aesthetics induces vomit. But it’s delicious vomit, because you’re part of a tiny community that shares a mutual understanding of the inside joke. The saving grace of all this self-indulgence is that most people probably don’t care about the details of The Marriage Plot. For example, almost no one will pause on the sentence, “Leonard didn’t want to go to the Blue Room” so he “headed through Wayland Arch up to Hope Street, in the direction of Fox Point” (44). Only the sad undergrads on College Hill, the ones who are searching for glimmers of ‘82 in ‘12, are wrapped around Eugenides’ finger. And then there’s the detail that Jeff himself went to Brown. If he’s giving in to his own selfindulgence and romanticized reminiscence, he’s that much more aligned with me.









FALL 2011
MANAGING EDITORS Malcolm Burnley, Jordan Carter, Emma Whitford ∙ NEWS David Adler, Erica Schwiegershausen, Kate Welsh ∙ METRO Sam Adler-Bell, Grace Dunham, Caroline Soussloff ∙ OPINIONS Stephen Carmody ∙ FEATURES Belle Cushing, Mimi Dwyer, Max Wiggins ∙ INTERVIEWS Timothy Nassau ∙ ARTS Ana Alvarez, Eve Blazo, Emma Janaskie ∙ SCIENCE Ashton Strait, Joanna Zhang ∙ METABOLICS Chris Cohen ∙ LITERARY Michael Mount, Scout Willis ∙ OCCULT Alexandra Corrigan ∙ X PAGE Rachel Benoit, Audrey Fox ∙ LIST Allie Trionfetti ∙ BLOG Max Lubin, Jonah Wolf ∙ DESIGN EDITOR Mary-Evelyn Farrior ∙ DESIGN TEAM Abigail Cain, Andrew Beers, Jared Stern, Olivia Fialkow, Joanna Zhang ∙ COVER EDITOR Annika Finne ∙ ILLUSTRATIONS EDITORS Robert Sandler, Becca Levison ∙ MEGA PORN Kaitie Barnwell ∙ SENIOR EDITORS Gillian Brassil, Adrian Randall, Erin Schikowski, Dayna Tortorici ∙ MVP: Ana Alvarez ‘v’ Cover Art: Mary Craig






Letters to the editor are welcome distractions. The College Hill Independent is published weekly during the fall and spring semesters and is printed by TCI press in Seekonk, MA. The Independent receives support from Campus Progress/Center for American Progress. Campus Progress works to help young people–advocates, activists, journalists, artists–makes their voices heard on issues that matter. Learn more at




by Andrew Kaplan


by Barry Elkinton


amuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, better known as media sensation “Joe the Plumber” of the 2008 presidential campaign trail, has returned to the political spotlight, this time exchanging his overalls and wrench for a suit and tie. The Ohio native filed papers on October 6th stating his candidacy for the next House of Representatives election for the 9t h Congressional District of Ohio. Wurzelbacher became a focal point of the last presidential election, when he questioned the effect Barack Obama’s tax plan would have on small businesses at a campaign stop in Ohio. While Conservatives hailed him as a veritable American hero and a proponent of the ever-elusive American Dream, Wurzelbacher enjoyed brief fame as a poster boy for the average American, hence the ubiquitous name “Joe the Plumber.” Speaking about his own candidacy, Wurzelbacher has a simple message: “It comes down to jobs.” Although he has not described a specific plan, Wurzelbacher believes that he can effect change. “The reason I would want to run for Congress is to show the American people and show Ohio that someone can run and serve without compromising their integrity.” Yet, despite the moniker, Joe the Plumber may not be all that he seems. “I don’t think he’s actually licensed,” Charlotte Perham, senior director of communications for the Plumbing-HeatingCooling Contractors Association, told She adds, “He’s not a member of our organization.” As it turns out, Wurzelbacher masquerades as a practitioner under the license of his boss. Indeed, far from receiving support from his hypothetical coworkers, Wurzelbacher has been the object of a violent outcry amongst the plumbing community. “‘Joe the Plumber’ does not represent the United Association nor our union members in any way,” says Rick Terven of the United Association of Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry. “This is someone who appears to care more about being a celebrity than actually helping working families.” Terven urges all plumbers to vote for “either [of the two] Democratic nominees, not Joe the Plumber.” Wurzelbacher is fighting an uphill battle, as he is running against the incumbent Marcy Kaptur and the hopeful Dennis Kucinich, two well-known Democrats. Wurzelbacher’s chances at becoming a full-fledged member of Congress, however, have not been flushed down the proverbial toilet. He enjoys support from Tea Party activists who consider his views similar to theirs, though an endorsement from Senator McCain or Sarah Palin, is notably lacking. Stranger things have happened in the political sphere (see: Herman Cain’s current position in the polls), so perhaps 2012 will be the year for “Joe the Congressman.” -AK


by Kate Welsh
f only we could all say “fuck you” with an accompanying brass band. That is essentiall what Joey DeFrancesco, a (former) employee of the Renaissance Providence Hotel did when he enlisted some of his band mates from the 19-piece What? Cheer Brigade to help him make a flashy exit from a job he had held for three and a half years. A friend filmed as Joey announced outside the hotel that he was going to quit the job where “they treat us like shit!” The group then snuck in though a staff door in the hotel and waited for Joey’s manager to appear from behind the corner. When he saw the motley group, like a scene from Oliver Twist, he puffed up his chest and shouted, “All of you! Out!” The band began to play as Joey announced that he was quitting, tossed his manager his letter of resignation, and marched out triumphantly. Since being posted on YouTube a week ago, the video has gotten almost a million hits. Joey and What? Cheer have been interviewed on Good Morning America, and in the coming week will be featured on Anderson Cooper. The YouTube post includes a note from Joey, who explains that the hotel had notoriously bad working conditions and punished or fired any workers who attempted to unionize. Joey and What? Cheer have joined the ranks of other employees who have quit in spectacular fashion. For example, the JetBlue flight attendant who swore at a passenger, grabbed a beer, and slid down the emergency slide, and the Whole Foods employee who sent a scathing mass e-mail to the company, calling the grocery store, among other things, a “faux hippy Wal-Mart.” -KW


espite ongoing eradication efforts, opium production in Afghanistan increased considerably this year. Last week the UN reported a seven percent increase in agricultural acreage devoted to opium poppies. Due to excellent crop yields this growing season, total opium production in Afghanistan rose 61 percent. The large harvest, when combined with rising opium prices, brought in am estimated 1.4 billion dollars to the country, accounting for nine percent of its national GDP. This increase presents a serious setback to anti-drug efforts in Afghanistan and across the globe. Afghanistan produces around 90 percent of the world’s supply of illicit opium, so a large harvest in Afghanistan correlates with an increase in the availability of opium and heroin domestically and globally. Since the US invasion in 2001, opium addiction rates have soared in Afghanistan. With an estimated 1.5 million opium addicts, Afghanistan has one of the highest rates of opium addiction in the world. The Afghan government and US-led coalition are particularly concerned about the demonstrated financial link between opium production and the Taliban insurgency. The vast majority of Afghan opium is grown in the southern regions of Afghanistan where the Taliban is strongest. The Taliban explicitly encourages and sometimes even coerces farmers to grow opium by supplying seed, credit, protection, and facilitating distribution. According to the UN, the Taliban will likely net up to 700 million dollars from opium sales this year, making opium a financial lifeline of the insurgency. The reported increase of opium production comes as a stinging and embarrassing blow to the eradication efforts of the US-led coalition and Afghan government. While the US has aggressively eradicated cocoa crops in Columbia, they have been reluctant to destroy opium crops in Afghanistan. Instead they have tried to create programs that provide incentives for farmers to grow crops such as wheat, pomegranates, and saffron, reasoning that outright destruction would further impoverish farmers, and make them more likely to embrace the Taliban. Nonetheless, farmers in the war-torn villages of rural Afghanistan continue to see opium as one of the few ways to make a living in a period of severe instability. One farmer, Ismael Iyas Khail, described the difficulty of his situation to NBC’s Sohel Uddin. Khail said that six years ago, an NGO working with the Afghan government had promised him seeds, a tractor and funding to grow saffron instead of opium. Khail tried the program, but corrupt local police diverted most of the funding into their own pockets. Deep in debt, Khail started growing poppies again this year. “We have tried to be good and understand that opium is bad, but I don’t have a choice now,” said Khail. “We have to survive.” -BE


Illustration by Cecilia Salama





20 OCTOBER 2011

THE 99%?
URNSIDE PARK, Providence. It is Saturday, October 15, at 5 PM. Signs dominate the landscape. Each one is a thread in the complex web that is the Occupy Providence movement. Aside from the “We are the 99%” signs that dominated the landscape, there are also signs that read: “Ron Paul 2012,” “End Islamophobia,” “ I am Troy Davis,” “Rhode Island says Bring Our Troops Home.” Signs adorn the base of the General Burnside statue, in addition to the sign affixed to the posterior of Burnside’s trusty steed reading “Stop Abusing Animals” A steady stream of people flows into the park, until it become difficult to navigate through the swelling crowd. There are college students, those coming down to take a peak at the nascent occupation, and organizers. A mother stands with her daughter; both with peace signs painted on their cheeks. A tall man with a mohawk and feathers dangling from his ear scans the crowd. A weathered man in his sixties takes a sip of coffee. Volunteers in neon green vests maneuver around the park, while others are stationed at the medical tent and the information desk, in front of which stands a sign announcing: “Welcome to the People’s Park.” It was difficult to discern who was responsible for Occupy Providence, much less what their goals and demands were and how long they would stay. Volunteers at the event were reluctant to pin down the movement to a few individuals. The organizers prefer to keep an egalitarian attitude towards the entire handling of the protest. According to the movement’s website, “All Occupy Providence decision-making is conducted in-person at our general assemblies.” These general assemblies are open forums for anyone to bring up their issues or concerns. The organizers rely on donations and volunteers for food and food preparation, legal services, medical care, living supplies like tents, and additional clothes to ward off the cold. The organizers provide entertainment for moral boosts, as well as classes on nonviolent protests and preparation for dealing with police or potential eviction (though as of now there have been no tensions or scuffles between police and protesters). As of now, the movement has not announced a set of concrete demands. They are being discussed and drafted during daily General Assemblies, as well as more intimate working groups specific to facilitation, food, medical, media, legal and action.


by Kyle Wynter-Stoner Illustration by Olivia Fialkow
over half since the start of this recession,” said Justin Dalton, a member of the union. “It’s been tough for a lot of them. I know a lot of guys who lost their homes.” And yet Dalton was proud of his union membership. When asked to say when he had joined the union, Dalton automatically replied, “July 2nd, 2007.” IUPAT Local 195 has not been on the receiving end of government aid. “Obama’s Stimulus Plan brought some construction work for road builders and maintenance workers, but it left out projects for buildings. These groups [road builders] got favored, while we got ignored,” he continued, “We’re here because we want more jobs,” Just then, the older of the two men holding the union’sbanner jumped in: “The last two years have been rough. We got a lot of potential jobs taken by interstate workers from states like New Hampshire.” The man approached and put his arm around Dalton’s shoulders. “I’m Gary, this guy’s father,” he added with a proud smile. Dalton looked down bashfully. Soon an acquaintance greeted Gary, drawing him away. Dalton then explained that his father was only able to work for two months in the last year and a half, due to scant opportunities to find work. Meanwhile, the repeated chantof “All day and night, occupy Burnside,” echoed through the park. Nestled in a corner was a table for the community organization DARE, or Direct Action for Rights and Equality. Among the many volunteers clad in yellow tee shirts was Lisa Reels, who has been a member for eight years . Shye also worked on Behind the Walls, a campaign to reform the criminal justice system. “If I could send out a message to President Obama,” Reels claimed, “I would say that, above all else, we want jobs. People want to afford to live decently in this country.” But there were also individuals there who were not affiliated with any particular organization. I spoke with Meg, a nurse who just got out of work and was still in her scrubs. She was accompanied by her son. “My husband has been out of work for a long time now. He just found a temporary job without benefits... our house value has been decreasing for over a decade while we’ve been paying the mortgage for even longer.” Rosalina Collazo attended the march representing the tenant and housing association within DARE. She described Ronaldo, an Puerto Rica immigrant. “This man worked two jobs and his wife one, yet their home was foreclosed by Bank of America. Their family is now broken apart, and he is homeless. But my family has been affected by this too. My aunt and my sister both lost their homes to Bank of America.” “In my line of work, we witness a lot of families who lost their homes who have to live under bridges,” said Rosalina. These are just a few of the threads that create the vast and intricate web that is the Occupy Movement. THE MARCH Two of the coordinators of the Occupy Providence movement stood upon the pedestal to Ambrose Burnside statue. Through a megaphone they announced that the Occupy Movement would begin with a general march around the major areas of Downtown Providence, ending at the State House, and then finally returning to Burnside Park. Soon the protestors marched out of the park and filled the streets. The crowd gathered in front of the Federal Courthouse to listen to two addresses by members of the Olneyville Neighborhood Association (ONA). The first by Manuel Urizarin in Spanish, the second in English by Victoria Ruiz, a member of ONA’s Coordination Team. They spoke with enthusiasm about immigrants’ rights, riding off the 11 out of 13 votethat the Board of Governors for Higher Education supported providing in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants. “America is many countries,” she announced, “but we are one people. We are here to fight for the families who work for this country. Deportation does not help anyone.”A small group of students started chanting “Education not deportation.” And soon the entire crowd was chanting along, as the jaunty rhythms of local brass band What Cheer? Brigade kept time. They marched then onto Westminster Street, the former financial center of the city, where the Turk’s Head Building owned by the investment group FB Capital Partners stands guarded by a menacing Ottoman warrior statue on the façade. Speakers employed the “mic check” system of communication used in other Occupy movements: The speaker breaks up his speech into short sentences or clauses. Then the crowd immediately repeats th phrase. The speaking style, at the sacrifice of eloquence and speed, contributed to the general communal feel of the protest. One spectator pointed out to a friend, “It’s just like that game Telephone!” as a public school teacher addressed the crowd. The protestors marched past the Bank of America Building, which received a general chorus of boos from the crowd. The march looped around, going up Fountain Street. Passing the Dunkin Donuts Center, where the 2011 New England Cigar Expo was being held, hosted by former mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci. Several men, smoking cigars outside and drink-

ing champagne on the sidewalk, shouted “Get a job!” to the procession. Further along down Fountain, a father and his two daughters looked down from the second story window of a well-furnished apartment, the father casting a similar look of bemusement on the protestors as the cigar smokers. After reaching the State House, the march finally returned to Burnside Park. MOVING FORWARD At the teach in about the Occupy Movement held at Brown University on October 12, a student pointed out that the discussion of race has largely been ignored in both Occupy College Hill and the larger Occupy Providence movement. In fact, the Students of Color Caucus at Brown held a meeting this week to discuss the absence of acknowledgement of race in the Occupy discussion. Additionally, several ancillary “Occupy the Hood” movements have sprung up around the country (though not in Providence) in order to attract more minorities to the movement. One of the many challenges that will face the Occupy movement will be whether they can draw a both economically and racially diverse crowd to the cause. One word or issue cannot simply define the Occupy Providence movement, because Rhode Islanders are not being affected by one overall “issue.” While there were some who marched for anticapitalism, environmentalism, pacifism, anarchism, and socialism, others simply want, as Lisa put it, “to afford to live decently in this country.” The ultimate test will be whether the movement can maintain a diversity of voices and opinions as the occupation takes full form. KYLE WYNTER-STONER B ‘13 is marching all day and night.

Among the largest signs was a banner held by two men in black sweatshirts. It read: International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, Local 195. “Our working pool has decreased by




by Jonathan Topaz

“Mankind desperately needs revolutionary leadership” —Robert Hayden, co-founder of Students for a Democratic Society, “Port Huron Statement”, 1962 “We’re trying to create a democratic forum for people to express themselves that is not simply reducible to political parties and politicians…what we want first and foremost is economic justice. We want a world where people have jobs, healthcare, and so forth” —Mark Bray, spokesperson for Occupy Wall Street, October 11, 2011
is a fairly intuitive and mainstream movement that suffers behind a false radical left appearance. Perhaps so many journalists decry the movement for its murkiness and ambiguity because it addresses such an obvious and intuitive problem: financial corporations have an enormous and disproportionate influence on the economy and political system. It is not a particularly sexy message. Nor is it particularly radical (after all, how radical can a movement allegedly representing the 99 percent be?) It is important to put aside all of the movement’s sideshows of socialists and 9/11 truthers, just as I will attempt to put aside the memory of a shirtless and unbathed man giving me an unprompted and violent hug. All of the superficial far-left elements distract from a simple, honest and catastrophic social and economic problem. Sure the movement is populated predominantly by liberals. But their core anti-corporate message represents a problem that is remarkably mainstream. Public opinion polls show that the vast majority of Americans think that corporations are too influential in political and economic life. A Gallup poll in February 2011 found that 62 percent of Americans want less corporate influence in political and economic life. A Rasmussen poll on August 15, 2011 found that “68 percent of all voters believe that government and big business work together against the interests of consumers and investors.” A Gallup poll on September 20, 2011 found that 70 percent of Americans want to increase taxes on corporations, and 66 percent want to increase the income tax on the top 1 percent of earners. REIGNING IN CORPORATIONS As Evan Osbourne notes in The Rise of the Anti-Corporate Movement (2007), grievances about unregulated corporations have pervaded mainstream American society since the nation’s founding. Some have argued against corporations on moral grounds. Thomas Jefferson warned that unregulated corporations might participate in “monstrous abuses of power”, and also warned about potential “shackles on Commerce by monopolies; on Industry by gilds & corporations.” Woodrow Wilson said that a worker’s “individuality is swallowed up in the individuality and purpose of a great organization” (great in relation to size, not quality). Others have argued that unregulated corporations make for bad economics and, frankly, bad business. Reigning in reckless corporate activity is known as a core economic idea for the American left. Yet, it is a view also traditionally advocated by those on the right, supporters of the free-market who are often confused as unequivocal advocates for unregulated business. Adam Smith, whose name is synonymous with free-market capitalism and the invisible hand, noted that “negligence and profusion, therefore, must always prevail…in the management of the affairs of such a company” that handles investors’ money. One can draw a direct link from this ideology—people are more reckless when investing others’ money—to the complaints about railroad monopolies in the mid-to-late 19th century, about the trusts that helped to cause the stock market crash in 1929, and about the financial institutions in 2008. Many supporters of a robust and flourishing free market understand that such a business-friendly environment depends on regulated corporations that can be held accountable. Being partial to a vibrant free market and being a fan of regulation are not mutually exclusive. Perhaps most interestingly, Keynesian economist John Galbraith took inspiration from an unlikely anti-corporate source—Austrian schooled, free-market fundamentalist economist F.A. Hayek. Hayek writes about the aforementioned concerns of many conservatives—that corporations threaten market prices and fair competition. He wrote that “the price system will fulfill [its] function only if competition prevails,” and thus corporations infringe heavily on a functioning market. Galbraith used Hayek’s insight to argue for small, manageable, and regulated corporations that have distinct limits on their economic and political influence. Galbraith likely modeled much of this off of the Glass-Steagall Act, which implemented silo banking (making sure that banks are divided and small, so that none are too big to fail) in the 1930s during the New Deal. Another direct descendent of the Glass-Steagall Act was the Volcker Rule, a major part of the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill of 2010. The initiative is designed to limit the ability of U.S. banks to make speculative and risky investments that will likely not help their investors (though like most of the elements of the bill, it has not yet been enacted). STICK TO THE STORY The leaders of OWS understand this history, and they understand that the public is on their side. They understand that the anti-corporate message has legs and can be taken up by traditional liberal institutions like trade unions and universities. They understand that skillfully managing this movement could potentially lead to its having a profound influence on politics, because the message is so simple and unpartisan. But they also understand that their movement attracts people who view OWS as an all-encompassing far-left movement that should address all of the traditional radical leftist issues that mainstream politics has rejected for centuries. This results in an awkward balancing act between OWS getting all the help they can get and simultaneously dealing with the repercussions of that support, much of which invites onlookers and the media to disregard the movement as extremist. For its own good and political relevance, this movement need not be about socialism or revolution or militancy or hippies playing the drums in a park. Its sustainability relies on addressing systemic and egregious problems that most Americans feel threatens American democracy—massive economic inequality, unlimited corporate spending on elections, a lack of real economic growth for the 99%, a poorly regulated financial system that encourages risky investments, speculation, and overvaluing assets. That’s why OWS organizers set up information and media booths for official spokespeople, who invariably stick to an anti-corporate message without diversions about socialism. That’s why they set up announcement boards, and why they are now insisting on drafting a constitution. This movement cannot be about the revolution that Robert Hayden talked about, but instead the democratic opening that Mark Bray suggests. This is a movement about sensible regulation, investing in human capital and the productive economy, and protecting the least fortunate. The basic, persuasive anti-corporate message is at risk of being co-opted into an unfocused leftist movement—one that combines a vague set of grievances with a litany of far-left solutions to produce an irrelevant afterthought. JONATHAN TOPAZ B ’12 wonders if the Dodd-Frank bill will ever be implemented.


n a Sunday afternoon in early October, the members of the anti-corporate demonstration Occupy Wall Street (OWS) were not on the same page. The protest site Zuccotti Park is a valley, sitting below street level while skyscrapers mainly inhabited by financiers tower over the occupiers on all sides. On one side of the park, something protesters called “music” reverberated from a band that featured a large drum circle, a misplaced flutist, and arbitrarybut-still-impressive sideshow jugglers. A meditation group, apparently unfazed by the music, sat nearby around a tree with incense cluttered on the ground. Some held signs invoking Thomas Jefferson’s call to replenish the American tree of liberty with blood, and a few predicted the end of capitalism. Tourists with wide grins took pictures and eagerly motioned for their spouses to come look at the real-life lefties. But despite the confusion, there was some order. An official OWS official sign hung with the movement’s regulation codes and daily updates. To win favor from the nearby residents, the regulations enforce quiet hours from 10 PM–8 AM, though it is unclear what punishment one might incur for breaking this rule. The movement has somehow appointed official OWS organizers and spokespeople—most clean-shaven and dressed out of a JCrew catalog—to staff information booths and take all media inquiries. Volunteers donated food and manned a massive food waste station. Individuals quietly discussed capitalism and the structure of financial institutions in small groups. While telling me about trade unions, an OWS media spokesperson had to pause because of the blaring music on the other end of the park. Both justifying and apologizing for their behavior, he shrugged sheepishly, “you have to find ways to have fun down here.” Just three weeks into Occupy Wall Street, the group—or at least its official organizers and spokespeople-—had already set their sights on something greater than the requisite populist anger and some cleverly worded signs. Though much of the mainstream media, politicians, and even liberal journalists have dismissed the movement as radical and unfocused, OWS has crafted a cogent and politically viable narrative. NOT SO FAR LEFT If one looks beyond the more sensational elements of OWS—individuals dressed as the Grim Reaper or V from V for Vendetta, periodic calls for militant action and socialism, unsanitary and shirtless hippies—it becomes apparent that Occupy




20 OCTOBER 2011



anny Brown entered the stage at The Met sporting a Mishka varsity jacket, skinny jeans, Jordans, and an emo combover. This, admittedly, is an image one expects from hipster rapper, more than a hardcore rapper, but Danny Brown is not just hardcore: he’s Detroit hardcore, a fact he never fails to bring up both in and between his tracks. The prejudices of his image notwithstanding, Danny Brown dealt crack, went to jail (on a charge unrelated to crack distribution), got out, and started rapping about his experiences. After talks with G-Unit fell through, Brown self-released his debut album The Hybrid in March of 2010 to critical acclaim, but without the obvious widespread recognition a deal with G-Unit would have given him. It wasn’t until a year later that he signed with a label, the Brooklyn-based Fool’s Gold Records, which released his phenomenal XXX in August. The title is his age in Roman numerals, and in his thirty years, he has seen a lot. He describes many of his experiences, all fairly horrifying, with a hyperrealism that suggests someone who, after years of experiencing them, has graduated from those scenes, rather than someone who is attempting to glorify them. If he didn’t have a genius sense of humor, his tracks would be almost impossibke to listen to, though that wouldn’t be the only reason many find his music irritating. Danny Brown’s yelp sounds like a cross between a cat whose tail is being pulled and a balloon that is being slowly deflated. It’s a voice that is both intriguing and grating, and one to which very few people can instantly take. It’s also not his real voice, but rather one he adopts, like his punch lines, to pad his subject matter. Imagine Gilbert Gottfried reading a New York Times article about genocide aloud: the subject matter is still serious, but its weight is mitigated by his inherently comical voice. Simply put, because Brown sounds like a birthday party clown, he is more successful at presenting hardcore ghetto imagery than many of his contem-

sM eta ling uist ic S avi ors



poraries. Brown isn’t particularly flashy or excessive on stage, but relies on his natural ability as a performer to carry a crowd of captive listeners. Which he did perfectly for fifteen tracks, most from XXX. Dopehead, a member of his crew, the Bruiser Brigade, and his hypeman joined Brown onstage, providing some bass to Brown’s yelp. As one might imagine, Brown’s image contributes a great deal to his stage presence. His voice is more interesting live than on record, though this is mostly because some people still can’t believe that kind of sound can come from someone rocking jeans that may as well be painted on who sports an emo combover. Brown had a robust following in the crowd that rapped along with him, attempting to imitate his helium-infused voice. It’s refreshing that no matter how esoteric he may be to mainstream audiences, Brown still has a cult following, and what Danny Brown is and most likely will remain, is a cult rapper. Brown’s pairing with Das Racist makes perfect sense—they both appeal to the same niche—though Brown exudes a great deal more unpredictability than they do (a natural function of being a former crackdealing, self-described “Adderall Admiral”). Brown’s performance was about raw rapping, not theatrics, which made his image on stage that much more powerful. You get the sense that his performance doesn’t come from any pretense of wanting to entertain the audience, so everything from his bizarre hair to his nasally yelp carried more raw swagger than a thousand 50 Cents. I came to the show cautiously hopeful and I left surprised at how well he was able to entertain for almost an hour without any stage tricks, short of bringing his personality with him. He carries his public persona with him onstage, which is why he delivers both on record and live. I would like to see him whenever, and maybe get my hair did like his. MICHAEL DANZIGER B’13 is Detroit hardcore.


by T


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anz iger


was first acquainted with Das Racist by a friend of mine who was studying at Wesleyan. He sat my classmate and I on a sofa, played us “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell,” and told us that Das Racist was the future of hip-hop. At the time, I was a sophomore in high school, and I found it impossibly hard to believe him. They weren’t hip-hop, they were joke rap. There was no distinction between this and Lonely Island’s “I’m on a Boat” or LMFAO’s “I’m in Miami Bitch.” All three songs followed a similar model: make fun of hip-hop braggadocio by transporting it into the realm of the ridiculous. While Jay-Z brags about losing $30 million as if it’s nothing to him, Das Racist brags about buying pizza and tacos in the same place, or being as wild as 4Loko. I thought it was pretty funny, but not very substantive. But as it turns out, writing off Das Racist as a joke was one of the stupider things I did in high school. They’re far more than joke rap, and their surrealist juxtapositions and absurd hooks place them at the forefront of an intellectual (yet simultaneously anti-intellectual) rap movement. Das Racist’s show at the Met cemented for me their dichotomous relationship with the light-hearted and the serious. They opened with “Brand New Dance” off the recently released Relax (their first full length LP). The surprisingly sparse crowd, only ten rows deep, waved their hands to a chorus of “It’s a brand new dance / Give us all your money / Everybody love everybody,” while MCs Kool A.D. (Victor Vazquez) and Heems (Himanshu Suri) swapped verses about selling oxycontin on Palm Pixies and eating Indian food while on Safari. As the song ended, Vazquez shouted, “That was our first song, this is our second song!” This seemingly straightforward and joking remark struck me as a statement quintessential to the group’s style and message. Das Racist is about making the over-literal and hyper-real into something substantive. Whether it’s screaming “Michael Jackson / A million dollars / You feel me? / Holler!” or whispering “Carlos Santana, Juelz Santana” on “Chicken and Meat,” the sonic associations between words and their absurd placement in a rap song are what comprise Das Racist’s art. Every simple statement Das Racist makes has a deliberate implication; all words are precise. The second song was “Who’s That? Brooown.” Heems is of Indian descent and Kool A.D. is both Afro-Cuban and

Italian, and many Das Racist tracks reference “tan” or “brown” as descriptors of race. In an interview with a Wesleyan magazine in the spring of 2009 Heems described Das Racist’s aim “to take all the seriousness out of making legitimate commentary on race, because [it] can get very annoying.” On “Brooown” they re-imagine a history where a brown Larry Bird played on the ‘97 Celtics, and assert that, “Never have you ever seen anything like it.” By approaching race not as something to be feared, ignored, or glamorized, Das Racist have a unique existence in the modern day hip-hop landscape. Their first commercial album, Relax, came out a month after Kanye West and Jay-Z releaced their hip-hop magnum opus Watch The Throne—to much less fanfare. Arguably the two most talked about hip-hop albums of the year are polar opposites. While Jay and Kanye swap verses about the problems of poverty over beats with samples that cost thousands to clear, Das Racist deconstruct rap entirely. Heems shouts, “I’m fucking great at rapping!!!” on “Michael Jackson,” an entirely different sentiment from Jay’s “I invented swag” on Throne. There’s no claim to authority or authenticity, only jokes about what a joke hip-hop has become. On “Power,” Kool A.D. gives the hook, “It’s too easy / Even if I told you about it / You prolly wouldn’t believe me.” By making the important distinction between joke rap and turning rap into a joke, Das Racist allow its absurd art to shine. The former pokes fun at the grandiosity of the genre, the latter employs rap’s core techniques to provide a non-flattering mirror. Rap shouldn’t always be taken seriously, and by conquering the notion that it should, Das Racist undercut mainstream hiphop’s message of affluence, influence, and power. Jay-Z and Kanye West take everything too seriously, caught up in being the “Illest Motherfucker Alive,” whereas Das Racist exploit the opposite end of the spectrum. The Met is a far cry from the TD Ameritrade Garden, where Jay and Kanye will stop during the Watch the Throne tour on November 21st, but Das Racist doesn’t need a large stage or histrionics to make a superior art. They could put on a better show from the roof of a combination Pizza Hut/Taco Bell. TRISTAN RODMAN B’15 prefers a combination Arby's and Long John Silver's.

Illustrations by Robert Sandler



by Malcolm Burnley Illustration by Robert Sandler
was a covert C.I.A operation, the Obama administration has refused to offer details on Khan’s death, and hasn’t clarified whether the go-ahead was given with consideration to his constitutional rights. When no announcement was received regarding his remains, Khan’s parents voiced their concerns in a public statement. “We feel appalled by the indifference shown to us by the government,” they said. “Was this style of execution the only solution? Why couldn’t there have been a capture and trial?” BLOGS, NOT BOMBS While Bin Laden used television to entice a 21st-century audience to experience jihad, Al-Awlaki summoned the internet – specifically, YouTube videos – and Khan represented the next step with his editorialized online content, epitomizing Al Qaeda 2.0. “Simply put, Khan was the node, connecting various networks within the online jihadi community,” wrote Aaron Y. Zelin in Foreign Policy. A week before his death, he published the seventh and final issue of Inspire. The magazine aimed for English-speaking Muslim men, like Khan, who were techsavvy and ripe for jihad. Sleek minimalist design, photo essays, and image-heavy content catered to a Western audience like National Geographic, with assault rifles and terrorist training camps replacing animals in their natural habitats. In the final issue, an alternative commemoration of the 9/11 attacks titled “The Greatest Operation of All Time,” Bin Laden penned one piece posthumously, Al-Awlaki another. One of several articles penned by Khan (or aliases attributed to him) lashed out against President Ahmadinejad of Iran, for claiming that 9/11 was a conspiracy perpetrated by the US government: “Iran and the Shi’a in general do not want to give Al Qaeda credit for the greatest and biggest operation ever committed against America because this would expose their lip-service jihad against the Great Satan.” Despite the ferocity of language, Khan’s sway never reached the level of AlAwlaki, whose sermons inspired the Fort Hood shooter and Christmas-day underwear bomber. Though Khan was linked to a planned attack on Chicago in 2009, the FBI released him without incriminating evidence. And his attempts through Inspire to instigate violence received a lukewarm reception. In its first year of publication, Bin Laden fumed about the magazine, deeming it unfit for Al Qaeda’s style of jihadist propaganda. According to documents recovered from Bin Laden’s Pakistani compound, he was particularly critical of the “indiscriminate slaughter” it promoted, referring to an article written by Khan that imagined a tractor mowingdown non-believers of Islam. J.M. Berger, an American journalist and global terrorism investigator who authored “Jihad Joe: Americans who Go to War In the Name of Islam”, wrote a scathing review of Inspire on his blog in 2010, upon its release. “Inspire isn't new. None of this is new, and it's not really news,” he wrote. “More importantly, jihadists today have access to the Internet for distribution. This, more than anything, opens the door for amateur jihad enthusiasts to put out products like Inspire.“ More than legitimately threatening American lives, Khan’s aggressive Internet protests advocated violence, but provoked little. His death has become an unlikely rallying cry for an eclectic group of anti-war preachers. Senator Ron Paul (R. Texas), the influential progressive organization American Civil Liberties Union, and Al Qaeda have joined to denounce the targeted killing as unconstitutional under American law. “If the American people accept this blindly and casually, we now have an accepted practice of the president assassinating people who he thinks are bad guys,” Senator Paul said. “I think it’s sad.” MINTING MARTYRDOM 9/11 was a seminal moment in the life of Samir Khan, planting the seeds for his outsized aspirations to wage Internet jihad. His 2003 senior yearbook page lists JV football credentials, a quote by Sal Alinksy, and Khan’s self-identified nickname foreshadowing his impending radicalizaition, “Mujahid.” In 2007, while living in Charlotte, he began using the alias “Insha Allah Shaheed,” (God Willing to be a Martyr) and briefly enrolled at a community college, before insulating himself in online circles. He sharpened his voice in the Islamic Networking Forum, a mostly Muslim social network, before branching out into several original blogs, including one titled The Ignored Puzzle Pieces of Knowledge. Most of his early online material has been removed, but an early post from 2007 indicates Khan’s growing frustration with censorship from the government: “They can attack us 100 times if they want; in the end, they will see us coming from many different positions to continue the media Jihad of speaking the truth. So let them bite their nails in frustration. We say to them: Perish in your rage O filthy disbelievers.” As cyber-barriers cropped up around him, his language grew more lethal and his style more seductive. Khan groomed Inspire from a laughable infancy into a powerful branch of AQAP’s propaganda division. Its initial release on June 30, 2010 became a snafu when British officials hacked into the 67-page issue and replaced Khan’s content with recipes for cocktail deserts. Only the first three pages appeared legibly, with the rest showing scrambled or coded text. Once the kinks in cyber-security were smoothed, Khan crafted pieces in colloquial English, mixing quotes from the Q’uran with diagrams for home-brewing explosives. In an early issue, a bomb-making demo is presented like an IKEA diagram— “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom”—using nails, Duracell batteries, an alarm clock, and explosive powder. Another page has an off-to-summer-camp checklist titled “What to Expect In Jihad” that offers advice like “bring your essential bodily-cleansing items” and, “bring a companion.”



ugles didn’t burst with taps when Samir Khan died in Yemen last month, yet another American casualty of the War on Terror. No crisply folded flag arrived at his family home in suburban North Carolina. And there was no honorary mention of his name in newsprint, as is customary for slain servicemen, but rather a slew of unsentimental obituaries the next day to decipher the implications of his passing. “The death of Samir Khan in Yemen marks the end of a key figure in Internet jihad,” was one such assessment on Foreign Policy’s website. Unlike the high school portraits so often re-printed in memoriam, the photos above Khan’s obituaries were less charming. Five-year old pictures show the 25-year-old Pakistani-American stooping to avoid the lens, wearing a canary yellow Polo around his plump torso, along with slicked-back hair and scragly stubble. Khan was, by many measures, a typical member of Generation Y. He experienced 9/11 in high school, receiving a diploma from W.T. Clarke on Long Island, and graduated with emboldened opinions about America and its global hegemony. But instead of enlisting with Uncle Sam under patriotism, he slipped towards extremism, onto a path of martyrdom. When his parents moved to Charlotte in 2004, Khan blogged from their basement, posting anti-Western commentary on Islamic social media sites. His online presence eventually impressed Anwar Al-Awlaki, the radical preacher and figurehead of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). In 2009, Khan fled the US for Yemen to join AQAP, a potent branch of Osama Bin Laden’s Iraqi-based network, and took an apprenticeship under Al-Awlaki. “I am proud to be a traitor to America,” he wrote in 2010, in Inspire, the online magazine he created to attract Westerners toward jihad, called “Cosmo for jihadists” by NPR. On September 29, Khan’s picaresque narrative ended in an American-operated C.I.A. drone strike targeting Al-Awlaki, who was also American and a graduate of Coloroda State University. Together, they became the first Americans ever killed through drone technology in the War on Terror: Al-Awlaki as a target, Khan as collateral damage, along with two other men. When the Obama administration controversially placed Al-Awlaki on the C.I.A.’s “capture or kill” list in 2010 (another first-time distinction for an American citizen), the Justice Department had to waive his fifth-amendment right not to “ deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” A secret legal review granted this permission, on the grounds that if Al-Awlaki could not be reasonably captured, his assassinationwas warranted. Khan received no such scarlet letter as an obscure online editor, which makes his extraordinary death a dubious precedent. Even more than Al-Awlaki’s killing, it suggests an escalation of federal power under the Patriot Act, and a willingness to eliminate terrorist sympathizers, even those who are Americans. Because the strike

MISSING AN ACTION About halfway through the first issue of Inspire, there is an awkward and haunting color spread of two disembodied heads floating in the clouds—Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the underwear bomber, who stares out of the page, and Bin Laden looking at him, paternally. On October 12, Abdulmutallab pled guilty to his attempted bombing of an airliner over Detroit, and was convicted in civilian court. The Justice Department adamantly supported a civilian trial over a closed-door military procession, arguing that Abdulmutallab was an American citizen and had legal protections worth honoring. Samir Khan received a fate closer to Bin Laden’s, despite lesser acclaim and record. Khan was accepted as collateral damage in the pursuit of Al-Awlaki. But given that the C.I.A. tracked Al-Awlaki’s movement for weeks before carrying out the order, the C.I.A might have known about Khan’s proximity, ignoring his right to life bearing trial. Either scenario leaves a lasting blemish for the Obama Administration, which otherwise boasts a weighty resume with AlAwlaki and Bin Laden as trophies. It took President Obama only hours to announce the successful drone strike, but five days for the State Department to make the condolence call to Khan’s parents, a normally automatic practice for American citizens killed abroad. A former neighbor of the Khan family weighed- in to the Charlotte Observer, and remembered a young Samir who played basketball in the street. He then apologized for the government’s behavior: “We look the other way when we learn that there’s one less terrorist that can threaten us. We don’t admonish our government for being shamed into acknowledging a family’s pain,” he said. MALCOLM BURNLEY B‘12 is a drone dodger




LIVING AS FORM at the Essex Street Market
by Jordan Carter Illustration by Annika Finne

ince when did artists drive around in armored trucks. Mel Chin’s Operation Paydirt/Fundred Dollar Bill, a socially engaged art project that traveled “over 18,000 miles during the 2009/10 school year” in an armored truck visiting schools and encouraging students to create over 400,000 fake 100-dollar bills. These “Fundred” dollar bills will be presented to Congress this fall—hopefully in exchange for the necessary funds to “remediate the extreme levels of lead pollution in New Orleans.” Mel Chin’s assistant Amanda Wiles described the project as “network-oriented” and characterized Chin as a “connector—pulling from different disciplines”, including art, science, and education. Unable to classify the project as art or environmental activism, Amanda termed it a “hybrid art project.” Documentation of this project was showcased at LIVING AS FORM, an exhibition of documentation of over 100 socially engaged art projects. Creative Time—a


nonprofit dedicated to bringing art to the public—organized this curatorial intervention of the Lower East Side’s historic Essex Street Market between September 28 and October 16. art project.” Like Mel Chin Studio, Chief Curator of Creative Time Nato Thompson acknowledges that socially engaged art works “defy easy categorization, and raise issues of authorship and traditional notions of art...often hav[ing] more in common with guerrilla and urban gardens, alternative economic and education experiments, and civic-minded, nonprofit organizations [sic]”. LIVING AS FORM showcased twenty years of socially engaged art documentation in tandem with live performances and workshops that aimed to surpass visitors’ participation thresholds. Complementing the colossal collection of such documentation were participatory workshops on issues of artistic exchange and alternative economies, exploratory tours of the

Lower East Side, collective lunches at a nearby pop-up restaurant, and five new site-specific installations. The exhibition provoked visitors to embark on a participatory and relational exploration of “hybrid” artistic practices that bridge the gap between art and activism, art and everyday life. (DIS)ENGAGED PARTICIPANTS The indoor exhibition space took the form of a media archive turned labyrinth. Architectural firm Common Room designed the space—comprised of stacks of concrete blocks, rigid metal shelves, and low, provisional dividers reminiscent of a construction site or military bunker. Erratic rows of TV monitors (equipped with headphones) displayed video and textual documentation of actions, interventions, and general processes of a myriad of socially engaged artists. Art collective TIME SERVICES set up Market, a relational installation in the form

of a central kiosk of local vendors within the exhibition space. All the vendors were mom-and-pop shops and studios providing the Lower East Side community with public services such as printmaking classes. LIVING AS FORM was a multimedia playground. The logic behind the exhibition’s lack of structure—with no delineated starting or ending points—was to influence the visitor to create his or her own path. Whether to keep straight, head right, turn left, or maybe even do a preliminary lap. The second most influential crossroads was whether to participate in collective workshops and tours, or to remain a passive, anonymous spectator who denies his invitation to the exhibition’s relational network. Creative Time had no expectations of any one participant. The exhibition gave viewers the agency to explore and to choose. Certain pieces had to be skipped in order to focus on others. No two people could experience, or even traverse,




the exhibition in the exact same manner. Following different paths, attracted by different media, each participant’s mind recorded an idiosyncratic narrative of the event. SOCIAL PRACTICE Socially engaged art—also referred to as social practice, relational aesthetics, dialogic arts, and even new genre public art—is a pervasive and divisive trend in the 21st century art world. Practitioners of socially engaged art collaborate with participants and often times disavow artistic authorship in favor of collectivity. They collaboratively realize projects set out to strengthen social bonds, explore the possibilities of improvisational interactions, and attempt to ameliorate social and environmental injustices. One example, OurGoods—self-identifying as a “barter collective”—seeks to initiate “action oriented discussion about value and mutual aid in the arts.” The collective’s installation-performance piece, HOW MUCH IS OUR WORK WORTH TO EACH OTHER, transformed a pocket of the exhibition space into a platform for collective exchange (words, goods, services). Body-size bulletin boards covered with “HAVES” and “NEEDS” fliers marked the space OurGoods demarcated as “a gathering place for personal messages and informal exchanges.” Each weekend of the exhibition, the collective hosted workshops on how to survive as artists, while eluding the capitalist market, through bartering, collaboration, and solidarity. Like many of the projects in the LIVING AS FORM archival exhibition, the members of OurGoods facilitate art networks sustained by imaginative dialogue and cooperation.

DUCHAMP ONE-UPPED The nearest bathroom was located next door at Olympic Restaurant—a small diner that has been a local institution since it opened in 1989. There, SUPERFLEX has permanently installed POWER TOILET/ JPMORGAN CHASE, an exact replica of the executive’s restroom at JPMorgan Chase. SUPERFLEX had a two-fold intention by installing the restroom in the diner: “provid[ing] an essential service” and prompting visitors “to contemplate the structures of power that become so imbued in even the most unassuming architectural spaces.” This simple gesture of installing a toilet expressed the transformative possibilities of socially engaged art. THE SPECTRE OF SOCIAL SCULPTURE Rick Lowe was also a contributing artist, with an installation hidden behind four stone cubes and two curved barricades. His installation was hidden behind four stone cubes and two curved barricades. Lowe is the founder of Project Rowe Houses, an exemplary model of social practice; the program takes an artistic and alternative approach to social activism, focusing on public housing. The late German artist Joseph Beuys’s concept of ‘social sculpture’ influenced Lowe to transform a dilapidated, historically black region of Texas into an ongoing relational (and humanitarian) piece, Project Rowe Houses. This collective artwork includes renovated homes for single mothers and exhibition and multimedia performance art spaces where families can interact with resident artists. Lowe’s process-oriented project speaks to the possibilities of aesthetically charged mentorship, communication, and pluralistic collaboration. Through imaginative exchange, the artist and participants—co-

producers—can alter their spatial reality. This is the goal of socially engaged forms— to gradually improve life; to progressively intensify social interactions; and to improve daily life on the daily basis. BISHOP AND HER DISCONTENTS In the months prior to the opening of LIVING AS FORM, Creative Time held a series of public dialogues discussing, analyzing, and evaluating contemporary social practice (and hyping the exhibition’s opening). Claire Bishop, Art historian, critic, and author of Participation: Documents of Contemporary Art, gave an astute survey of the catalysts, tensions, limitations, and possibilities of socially engaged art during a talk on May 18 at Cooper Union, entitled “Participation and Spectacle: Where Are We Now?” Standing within eyesight of Nato Thompson and a panel of socially engaged artists, Bishop was not afraid to voice her skepticism and suggestions regarding social practice. She announced her distaste for the catchphrase ‘social practice’, arguing that its elimination of the word ‘art’ or ‘aesthetics’ from socially engaged art forms symbolically relegates artistic discourse and in turn valorizes social discourse. Bishop expresses discomfort about the proximity of art and community work. Yes, they can be in dialogue, and yes, they can collaborate, but for Bishop, artists and social workers should not synonymous terms. One of Bishop’s first remarks during her speech was that the most frequently asked and agitating question she hears is, “Surely its better for one art project to improve one person’s life than to not happen at all?” She said she can never manage to formulate a response. Joseph Beuys, however, would have presumably said yes—believing that every dialogue is a worthwhile artistic endeavor.

His theory of social sculpture is reflected in the work of many contemporary relational artists and participants in LIVING AS FORM. He declared that “EVERY HUMAN BEING IS AN ARTIST”—it is through diverse communication and indiscriminate collaboration that art can reach its total transformative and revolutionary capacity. LIVING AS FORM sought to affirm this declaration. STILL LIVING AS FORM The Essex Street Market was gutted of its glory at the show’s closing on October 16. The participation continues on Creative Time’s website with its very own YouTube of socially engaged art. And it doesn’t stop there: LIVING AS FORM is only part one of Creative Time’s mission to bring participatory art and affective socially engaged media to the public. What began in New York City is traveling the globe as LIVING AS FORM (THE NOMADIC VERSION). Nato Thompson, wielding a portable hard drive with 50 projects from the original exhibition, will curate site-specific exhibitions of socially engaged work at international host institutions that will activate each rendition with a unique participatory project. Thompson will hunt for undiscovered socially engaged projects and groups throughout his voyage—uploading documentation to his hard drive. LIVING AS FORM has become a socially engaged project of its own, linking participants, artists, and diverse workers for social change in a collaborative and process-oriented network of social practice. Jordan Carter B’12 is a social sculptor.

in four movements
1.I GUESS I WAS YOUR GIRLFRIEND When I was your man? Not that you’re helpless But sometimes, sometimes u Would let me give u a bath? I’ll do it so good I swear I’ll drink every ounce and together we’ll stare into silence Listen girl, I aint sayin you’re helpless. But sometimes, sometimes… Could I make u breakfast sometime? Or then, could we just hang out, I mean Can I see u? Could we go 2 a movie and cry together. Cuz 2 me baby that would be so fine. Listen, 4 u naked I would dance a ballet Would u let me tickle u so hard ud laugh and laugh… … … you know down there where it counts. Baby can I dress u, I mean, help u pick out your clothes Before we go out Before we go out Hey, when I was your man If I was your girlfriend If I was your girlfriend If I was your girlfriend (if I was your girlfriend) If I was your girlfriend, would u tell me? Would u let me wash your hair Why not? How can I make u see that it’s cool? Maybe u think Im being A little self-centered Of course I’ll undress in front of u! And when Im naked, what shall I do? Would that get u off? Then tell me what will! Cant u just trust me? I mean, we don’t have 2 make children 2 make love



20 OCTOBER 2011

hen Doron Shiffer-Sebba first walked the fifteen minutes from his house in West Jerusalem to the Old City in East Jerusalem, he was seventeen years old. He had lived on the West side his whole life, but here he was, making his first trip to the other side of town. “Walking into the Old City,” he said, “it felt like I was walking into a different country.” Doron isn’t special in this regard. If anything, having grown up in a relatively progressive house—his father is a professor of criminology at Hebrew University; his mother is a director of an NGO—Doron would have been more inclined than his peers to explore the landscape if there had been avenues for him to do so. Yet he is quick to point out that this was not the case. “My knowledge of Jerusalem, the city I grew up in, is nonexistent,” he said. “I can get from my house to school, from my house to a friend’s house, but I can’t tell you how to get from point A to point B, which is very strange.” Doron has lived in many places—London, Beijing, New York—and had no trouble internalizing their geographies; Jerusalem is different. “I remember the first thing I was really shocked about was that they used our currency,” he said of his arrival in the Old City.” He clarified immediately. “This comes out as a very racist sentence, because it makes it sound as if they are the ‘other,’ as if they were not Israeli citizens. But it goes to show how effective segregation is within Israel.” Growing up in a city where one third of the population is Muslim and another third Orthodox Jewish, Doron had come into almost no contact with these ethnic groups. He is one of the secular Jews who compose the final third who occupy a space both culturally and geographically separate from the Arab and ultra-Orthodox Jewish—also known as Haredi—populations. Considering the density of Jerusalem—over 16,000 people per square mile compared to Providence’s 6,000 or New York City’s 10,000—one might expect the sort of melting pot mentality of other metropolitan areas. But this is the paradox of the ancient city, bearing at once the history of thousands of years of violent religious contention and societal rifts so deeply embedded that they’ve generated complete segregation. Jerusalem’s religious tension pervades every facet of the social sphere—from the home to the streets and even into the schools. Israel’s education system consists of four separate tracks: state schools that offer a secular education for Jewish Israelis; state-religious schools that cater to the Haredi population with a heavy religious curriculum; Independent schools, also known as “Chinuch Atzmai,” that offer a completely separate Haredi education, focusing almost entirely on Talmud and Torah studies without regard for secular disciplines; and Arab schools, which are specifically designed to provide a curriculum of Arab history and culture to Arab Israelis. As of 2010, there were a total of only five schools in the entire state of Israel that had integrated Jews and Arabs, educating only 1,250 students out of a total student population of over a million. The classroom, in turn, has become a center of cultural conditioning in the practices of segregation. Arab Israelis learn in Arabic; Jews in Hebrew. Earlier this year, in the Kiryat Yovel neighborhood of Jerusalem—home to a growing Haredi population—one ultraOrthodox nursery school sought to erect a fence to physically divide the Haredi school ground from the adjacent secular kindergarten. “I don’t want my children to see immodest women,” one Haredi mother told the Guardian. Appealing to the Jerusalem City Authority, the Haredi nursery school won its fight: “with the aim of meeting the needs of all of the neighborhood’s pupils…the [municipality] decided to divide the existing building.” This move by the Jerusalem City Authority can be interpreted as one of diplomacy: ease the tension between ethnic groups and the community can function. But the net effect is merely an increase in the divide—cultural, economic, political, or in this case, physical—within Israeli society. As secular families took to the street to protest the decision, Israel faced a difficult reality: the “separate but equal” approach—beyond its moral implications—is simply unsustainable. All of these issues of segregation are con tained within Israel’s borders. The question of Palestine—though subtly present in most of these Israeli conditions—remains an external factor: Israelis, Doron seems to say, are thinking about Israel. “Growing up, Palestine was not the predominant dinner table conversation. It was actually disparities within Israeli societies, disparities for Arab Israelis and Jewish Israelis. There is a lot more tension about the problems of the Jewish democratic state than the Palestinian territories.” THE REGULAR LIFE PROBLEM On September 1, 400,000 Israelis marched in the streets. From Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, the people of Israel gathered to send a message to their government. “The heart of this protest is the affront and outrage over the government’s indifference to the people’s suffering,” author Amos Oz told Ha’aretz. Since July, when protesters began propping up tents in the streets of Israel, the movement had been gaining strength, leading up to the demonstration, one of the biggest in Israel’s history. “This is the first time that instead of fighting against the Arabs we are fighting for something—our life and that of our children,” activist Eldad Yaniv told the New York Times. These citizens are fighting the economic inequalities of the state of Israel, a condition that has many struggling to make rent. Prices of basic necessities like housing, gasoline, and food have been on the rise for years, and Israelis are finally beginning to speak out against the major domestic problems afflicting the state. Since its birth in 1948, Israel has moved—alongside the United States— away from regulation and toward the free market. As a result, Israel’s capitalism has produced economic inequalities that mirror closely those of the US. Today, Israel’s economy is presided over by a consolidated aristocracy: only a few family dynasties—the Ofers, the Dankners, the Tshuvas, and the Fishmans among them—control close to 30 percent of Israel’s wealth. These tycoons are responsible for the ten biggest business groups in the country, and as such, wield massive political influence in a country whose economic woes are merely the tip of the iceberg. The protests of early September highlight the everyday consequences of a political orientation towards the rich—the one percent thriving at the cost of the ninety-nine. This is, as Doron calls it, the “regular life problem”—paying the rent, putting food on the table, filling up the gas tank to get to work in the morning. Layered on top of Israel’s deeply divided ethnic land-




The Darkness of the Big Picture — by David Adler
scape is a deeply divided socioeconomic one, creating a checkerboard of divisions that make the Israeli situation incredibly difficult to address. One might think that the economic despair of the Israeli people would lead to some unification, some solidarity on behalf of all religious affiliations. But even as a housing crisis looms, there is little unity among Israelis who remain attached to the existing social divisions. It was an uplifting scene in early September—as the New York Times described it, the protests were “carnival-like and nonviolent,” with not a single display window broken. But the protesters were all Jewish Israelis; had the group been less homogenous, the glow of the protest might have been dimmed by internal dispute, or disrupted by an Israeli military that is careful to monitor public Arab gatherings. However, since early September, the cries for reform of many Israeli citizens have been drowned out by recent events at the United Nations, which have thrust the Palestinian conflict back to the foreground of Israeli life. The “regular life problem,” it seems, will have to wait. PALESTINIAN STATEHOOD On September 16, Palestinian President Abbas announced that Palestine would take unilateral action to pursue statehood at the U.N. “We need to have full membership at the U.N.,” Abbas said in his live television broadcast. “We have one goal: To be. And we will be.” His speech caused a firestorm of controversy and media coverage, with political leaders speaking out from across the globe to express advocacy, hesitation, or outright disagreement with Abbas’s proposal. But contrary to what the coverage suggests, Doron’s life as an Israeli has not been dictated by questions of Palestinian statehood. Doron explains, “I think for most childhoods in Israel that aren’t in Settlements [self-contained Jewish communities in Palestinian territory] kids have no clue what the Palestinian authority is. I never thought about it as a kid.” Even after the Second Intifada, or formal uprising of the Palestinian people, broke out while he was in junior high, he remained largely unaware. “I was very sheltered because it was dangerous in Jerusalem especially.” He knew not to board the bus; he was taught to be aware of public spaces—one café he used to frequent was bombed—but events such as these did not translate into overwhelming fear. “That’s how it works: parents want to give their kids the most normal childhood they possibly can until they know they have to go into the army.” In fact, without the influence of the army, Doron isn’t sure these issues would ever become part of the popular consciousness. Growing up, most of his friends were not politically aware, and, Doron says, he was the most “left-leaning” among them. But “the military is a very dominant, compelling reason” for turning minds toward the Palestinian question. “Even friends who shared similar political opinions before the army, after three years, went really right-wing.” Doron speaks as someone who escaped this sort of ideological training: he was stationed in Tel Aviv to work in education. Yet for the many soldiers working on the ground, “they are trained to look at people as the enemy, and they have experiences that are very scary, to make sure nothing bad happens with the ‘Arabs’—that’s how they’re labeled.” Most Israeli soldiers don’t work in the infantry, let alone see real combat. Most people in the army are like Doron—they take IT jobs or work in ammunition. Many others, however, who work at checkpoints or borders, are influenced by the people they confront—mostly Arab Israelis and Palestinians crossing borders— and receive the impression that they can’t police themselves. “Of course that’s how Israelis are going to see them because it is hostile. Many Arabs think, ‘oh, these are foreigners who have come to police us.’ Many Arab women come and yell at the army in Arabic, and Arabic for the soldiers is like a red light bulb—they see the women as animals or something.” Doron catches his breath. “It creates a dynamic that the soldiers see the people as being unable to rule themselves.” When their military service is through, however, these Israelis reenter general society only to rediscover the “regular life problem.” True, these military years prepare an Israeli citizen to always think of himself as a soldier of the state—a fact that carries with it a whole host of complex issues—but the reality is that in spite of this ideological education the question of Palestine seems to recede into the background of everyday life. Of course, the bombings are still front cover stories, but Doron emphasizes that “most people will just flip through the first pages of the paper: ‘oh, bombing here, bombing there, now where is the rest of the stuff?’” The destruction that both Palestinians and Israelis witness from month to month is astonishing, but perhaps this is the key to understanding the state of mind of many Israelis, desensitized to the Palestinian cause. The last glimpse of hope was Camp David—peace talks between Yasser Arafat of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and U.S. President Bill Clinton in 2000. “After that, many Israelis kind of shut off.” Despite the overwhelming tension between Israel and the Palestinian territories, there are today fewer youth political movements in Israel than in Europe. “I would call that resignation.” The conflict in the occupied territories of Palestine adds yet a third set of divisions to the checkerboard of societal discord. If considered in concert, these three layers can make Israeli life seem like paralysis: deeply divided along class, ethnic, and geographical lines, there is simply too much to digest. But Israelis, just like any people, must concern themselves with daily living, with family, and with jobs. As a result, whether or not Israelis intend it, the issue of Palestine gets shoved to the background, and any real consideration is substituted for blind opposition. “Whenever an election is about the conflict,” Doron asserts, “the right-wing wins.” By voting conservatively, Israelis feel they have done their duty with respect to protecting the nation and so they can resume their everyday life. “Just in terms of the way things are going now, with all that’s happening under the surface, the demographic changes that are happening, the polarization of Israeli society,” he says with a sigh. “If things stay the way they are now”— if all of these problems continue to fester, if Israel does not actively address its internal discord, if Israel does not patch a bleeding system of education— “there won’t be an Israeli state in 30 years.” DAVID ADLER B ’14 has walked the fifteen minutes to West Providence.

illustration by Robert Sandler



20 OCTOBER 2011

n a stage lined with impaled sheep heads and daubed with animal blood, Norwegian band Gorgoroth played their now-infamous Krakow “Black Mass” show as four nude people, bound to crosses, hung above the stage. Footage of the 2004 show was later seized by police, who attempted to charge the band with “causing religious offense,” a crime in Poland for which they were later cleared. One of the seminal bands of Norway’s black metal scene, Gorgoroth’s official biography is tantalizingly crazy: “After making a pact with the Devil in 1992,” it begins, “Infernus founded Gorgoroth.” Born in Norway, black metal is considered by metal purists to be sonically and culturally distinct from thrash metal, heavy metal, doom metal, gothic metal, and grindcore, and can be most easily distinguished from the death metal subgenre by its vocals—wraith-like shrieking rather than deep, guttural growling. For those who can distinguish lyrical themes in the screaming, bellowing, and growling of grown men over blast beats and breakneck guitars, black metal lyrics are generally preoccupied with evil, violence, and Satan, featuring song titles like “Chainsaw Gutsfuck.” Producers use lo-fi techniques to further degrade the brutal sound, undercutting the magic with a cavernous droning comperable to a legion of satanic bees. The music is played at incredible speeds, with explosive percussion that almost masks the technical skill needed to play black metal. The easiest way, however, to spot a black metal band is by their names and their getups. The vast majority of black metal musicians take on an unholy pseudonym, and elaborate costumes are the norm. Inverted crosses, nail studded leather, “corpse paint” make up (pallid face, eyes blacked out), and swords abound, another layer of pageantry to enhance the atmospheric, otherworldly aspirations of the music itself. Fantasy is important to the aesthetics of the scene, and many black metal musicians display a curious affinity for Tolkien, evidenced by a penchant for taking on the names of places (Gorgoroth, Isengard) or characters (Count Grishnahk, Shagrath) from Lord of the Rings. Norwegian black metal also boasts one of the most chaotic origin stories in music, notoriety which often outweighs consideration of the actual music. THE STORY OF MAYHEM Founded in 1984 by Øystein “Euronymous” Aarseth, Jørn “Necrobutcher” Stubberud, and Kjetil Manheim, Mayhem is perhaps the most famous Norwegian black metal band, known as much for its music as for the cataclysmic events of its early history. Inspired by releases like Hellhammer’s “Satanic Rites” demo, Euronymous and his teenaged cohorts began playing a form of extreme thrash metal. Their style crystallized with the 1987 release of their first album “Deathcrush,” part of a new sub genre which Euronymous named ‘black metal.’ Other bands, like Darkthrone and Burzum, followed, their members drawn to the refreshing brutality of the black metal sound. The embryonic scene thrived on the letter writing, fanzines, and tape trading of an underground network of devotees, attracted to the raw authenticity of the early music and dabbling in as many aberrant ideologies as possible—Satanism, Nazism, Paganism. In famously conflict-averse Norway (neutral in both World Wars, with a national murder rate equal to that of Sioux Falls, SD), black metal was transgressive and escapist, an outlet for disaffected fans to channel the rage and darkness that had no comfortable place in the placid ultraconformity of mainstream culture. Mayhem recruited vocalist Per Yngve “Dead” Ohlin in 1988, who auditioned for the band by sending a demo tape, along with a letter and a crucified mouse. Obsessed with his own mortality, Dead was said to carry around a decaying crow in a bag while on tour with Mayhem, in order to inhale the smell of death before shows. Dead is also credited with popularizing “corpse paint,” now a de rigueur part of the black metal uniform, which he used onstage give himself a more deathly appearance. Mayhem’s popularity spread in the tiny underground scene, fueled by their incendiary live shows, featuring attractions like severed animal heads and onstage self-mutilation. In 1991, the band moved to a house in the forest to continue work on the album “De Mysteriis Dom Santhanas.” In April of that year, Dead committed suicide by slitting his wrists and then, in a fit of impatience, shooting himself in the head. His now-infamous suicide note apologized blithely for discharging a gun indoors and asked his housemates to “excuse all the blood.” Dead’s body was discovered by Euronymous, who collected the fragments of his skull to make a necklace, bought a disposable camera, and took pictures of the body, all before calling the police (one of the grisly images notably found its way to the cover of Mayhem bootleg “Dawn of the Blackhearts”). Euronymous called

MURDER AND MAYHEM IN NORWAY By Kelsey Shimamoto Illustration by Robert Sandler

bassist Necrobutcher the next day to break the news, saying, “Dead has done something really cool! He killed himself.” The suicide touched off a series of fateful events—Necrobutcher, disgusted with Euronymous’s reaction to the death, left and was replaced by radically antireligious Kristian “Varg” Vikernes. The combined influence of both Euronymous and Varg instigated a shift in the culture of black metal, which became more extreme and deeply obsessed with the Satanic. New bands, like Gorgoroth and Emperor, emerged on the scene, which began to gain European and international popularity. Emboldened, a few politically-minded black metallers figured out a novel way to bring their nationalistic and anti-Christian sentiments to the attention of the mainstream: they started burning churches. News of the arsons, like that of the 12th-Century Fantoft stave church, was picked up by the understandably agitated media. Jumping at the opportunity to publicize the scene, Varg gave a series of gleefully inflammatory interviews, in which he claimed to be in the inner circle of a vast Satanic cult responsible for the church burnings, copped to Nazism, and mused that the only bad thing about murder was that “when you kill someone, they can no longer suffer.” Newspapers and magazines reported on the “extreme group of neo-Fascist Devil Worshippers,” with Varg emerging as the sneering poster child of Scandinavian Satanism. He was briefly arrested, then released for lack of evidence, as fanatical black metal fans burned several more churches across Norway. The relationship between Euronymous and Varg deteriorated, as Euronymous grew resentful over the attention Varg was receiving and a monetary dispute erupted between the two band mates. Rumors circulated that Euronymous intended to kill Varg, who reacted by showing up at Euronymous’s house in the middle of the night and stabbing him more than 20 times in the back, neck, and face with a pocketknife. He was soon arrested and charged with the murder, as well as the arson of several churches. “De Mysteriis Dom Santhanas” is now considered one of the most important recordings in black metal. It was released in 1993 in the midst of Varg’s murder trial, featuring lyrics by Dead and the performances of both Euronymous and his murderer. Varg went on to serve 16 years of a 21-year sentence, the maximum prison sentence for any crime. In Norway while in prison, he managed to record and release two albums. In 2009, he secured

an early release despite a 2003 escape attempt involving a rifle, a handgun, several knives, a gas mask, and a stolen Volvo. Mayhem was re-formed by its surviving members, and continues to tour and release albums to this day. BLACK METAL’S MIDDLE AGE The outlandish violence of black metal’s early days is doubly unsettling when one considers the youth of the players involved—most fans and musicians were in their late teens, Varg was 20, and Euronymous, veteran of the scene, was 25. Created by teenagers, black metal exists in a more simplistic universe, where evil dresses in black, carries a sword, and blasphemes the Bible. It’s juvenile, transportive and incredibly appealing to the alienated and angry, but does not translate well to the real world: the crossing over from dark fantasy to real-life violence destroyed two of the most influential aesthetic visionaries of black metal (three, if one counts Varg’s incarceration and removal from the scene). The most notorious figures of the early scene appear to appreciate this divide—approaching middle age, many have abandoned the strident, sneering Satanism of their youth. Gone too is most of the virulent neo-Nazism, in favor of more nuanced atheistic or pagan beliefs and indifferent, or at least more private, views on racial politics. Even self-described “narrow-minded ultra-conservative anti-religious misanthropic and arrogant bigot” Varg Vikernes, now an Odinist, espouses a grudging tolerance: “if those who are not like me are able to enjoy my music that is all fine by me. Be a Christian-born black gay feminist converted to Judaism for all I care, or worse; a Muslim. Just stay off my lawn...” Black metal’s response to the July attacks in Norway hinted at this maturation—despite their unholy, violenceglorifying reputation, the overwhelming response by black metal musicians who chose to comment was great, eloquent sorrow. Even Varg, who responded to the news with a very crazy missive blaming the whole thing on Israel, seemed shaken. “True nationalists don’t kill children of their own nation, even if someone tries to brainwash them, like AUF did,” he wrote, regretfully, “They were not (yet) Marxist extremists; they were just children.” Twenty years’ perspective appears to have underscored a realization for the founders of black metal: senseless violence is not provocative or exciting, just tragic. Kelsey Shimaoto B ‘12 is metalic.




It’s The End of The Universe As We Know It
n 1990, the aptly-named space shuttle Discovery carried something revolutionary into earth’s orbit—a telescope that could see into the far reaches of space and take pictures of distant galaxies never before been seen by the human eye. Then in 1998, astrophysicists Saul Perlmutter, Brian Schmidt, and Adam G. Riess, and their respective research teams, working at three different institutions, began using these revolutionary images to examine the luminosity of supernovae in the far reaches of the universe. Applying complicated algorithms to images of distant stars, they calculated the rate at which the universe had expanded during the time that the starlight took to travel to earth. But let’s backtrack for a moment. There are two Hubbles important to this story: the telescope, and its namesake, Edwin Hubble. His astronomical observations in 1929 led to the theory of universal expansion in the first place. However, until 1998, physicists believed that this expansion was slowing down. Perlmutter, Schmidt, and Riess set out to determine once and for all which was occurring. What they found instead is that an undetected force in our universe is pushing galaxies apart at an accelerating rate, blowing the lid off of existing theories concerning the amount of energy contained in space. In the 13 years since their discovery, the scientific community has been grappling with the implications of this new force, which by current calculations must make up some 70 percent of the universe in order to exert its observed effects. This discovery, in tandem with ongoing research studying the composition of dark matter, has presented a new picture of the universe in which everything we understand as matter, everything we can taste, touch, smell, hear, and see; every planet, star, asteroid, and speck of dust in the farthest reaches of space, comprises less than 5 percent of the universe. Which raises the question, what, then, is the other 95 percent? A NEW MATTER Brown University Physics professor Ian Dell’Antonio has some answers. In an interview with The Independent, he shed light on the dramatic universal questions raised by astrophysics in the last decade and a half. Dell’Antonio’s research focuses primarily on the study of dark matter, using telescopes to examine a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing—how light is bent around large masses in space. Objects of immense mass, such as stars and galaxies, exert a gravitational force large enough to bend the fabric of space. The amount of distortion is proportional to the amount of mass, Dell’Antonio explained. “You can weigh the mass that’s in front of [a source of light] by measuring how much the light is distorted.” By measuring the distortion of light from distant stars, astrophysicists can estimate the mass of far-flung galaxies. They work at the problem from another angle as well, using galaxies close to Earth (whose weight can be measured concretely through means other than gravitational lensing) to approximate a hypothetical weight for distant galaxies. Because the mass of a galaxy should be proportional to the amount of light

by Ashton Strait Illustration by Charis Lokey


distortion, physicists can predict how much the light from each source should be distorted. Thus, they work at the problem from two angles: calculating the actual mass of the galaxy based on the distortion of light, and calculating how much the light should be distorted based on intelligent estimates of galaxy mass. Here’s where it gets tricky: in reality, these figures don’t match. The predicted galaxy mass is based on the typical amount of matter in neighboring galaxies that is observable to earth’s instruments, but it isn’t at all close to the mass of the galaxy calculated from the distortion of light. According to Dell’Antonio, the disparity between the estimated distortion and the perceived distortion is “not small… there’s typically ten to twenty times more mass than you can account for by the galaxies.” That unexplained mass is what scientists refer to as dark matter. Dark matter, as the name suggests, does not emit light or any other form of electromagnetic radiation and has not yet been detected by any human instruments. We know it exists, but we do not yet know what it is. In fact, it is most easily defined by what scientists have ruled out. It is not a charged particle (if it were charged it would emit detectable electromagnetic radiation), or a particle that has strong interactions with normal matter (if it did, these interactions would have occurred during the pressure cooker conditions of the Big Bang and altered the elemental composition of the universe in measurable ways).We are certain that it has mass because of its gravitational effects on light, and that it composes some 25 percent of the known universe based on these gravitational effects. However, these broad constraints leave astrophysicists with a plethora of candidate particles vying for the lead role on the cosmological stage. Understanding which particle constitutes dark matter would allow physicists and cosmologists to fill in a huge gap in our understanding of the composition of the universe, and might even lead to the discovery of previously unknown particle interactions that would expand our picture of the intangible forces at work in nature. The current conundrum is this: researchers do not know what they do not know about dark matter. On the one hand, our growing understanding of its unique properties could open doors into unexplored realms of particle physics; or history could end up relegating it to an interesting but tangential sidebar in an astrophysics textbook. It is still too early to tell. Current research in astrophysics at Brown focuses on the construction of dark matter detectors that would be able to measure the rare collisions between dark matter and real matter. Others around the world focus on the creation of dark matter in Large Hadron Colliders such as the one at CERN, the underground complex in Switzerland leading the field in particle physics. The hope is that by studying the decay properties and sub-atomic interactions of candidate particles, scientists will be able to rule out (or decide on) whether those particles fit the criteria for dark matter. Thus far, none of the many possible candidate particles have been proven to exist in the mass and quantities required to constitute nearly a

quarter of the universe. “The frustrating thing for me, as an astrophysicist,” Dell’Antonio said, “is that through gravitational lensing it’s easy to tell how much of the dark matter there is. But you learn almost nothing about what it is.” However, there is hope that the many cosmological mysteries of dark matter may be revealed over time, as scientists across the world—whether in underground complexes exploding streams of particles or in aboveground observatories poring over images of the farthest reaches of space—ahead in the darkness. DARK ENERGY What Perlmutter, Schmidt, and Riess set out to measure in 1998 was how much the rate of expansion of the universe had slowed since the Big Bang. Prior to their discovery, physicists universally believed that the mass of the universe due to dark and normal matter would cause the expansion started by the Big Bang to become slower and slower over time. The matter within the universe, they thought, must exert inwardly-directed gravitational effects on itself in opposition to its outward momentum, acting against the tendency toward expansion. Imagine their surprise, then, when they discovered that the rate of expansion hadn’t decreased at all. It had, in fact, been accelerating. The scientists earned the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2011 for the discovery that radically altered the understanding of energy distribution within the universe. Their research led to the revelation that in order to counter the gravitational attraction of masses within the universe, there had to be an energy source pushing these masses outward. In keeping with tradition, scientists dubbed this unknown source “dark energy.” The moniker is fitting, because dark energy acts somewhat like normal energy’s evil twin. Here’s why: in a relativistic sense, energy has many mathematical properties, one of which is pressure, a physical quality that determines the gravitational attraction between substances. By convention, the pressure of normal energy and matter is positive. In order to overcome the attractive forces between masses, the pressure of dark energy must be opposite tothat of normal matter and energy. Dell’Antonio explained that astrophysicists “think dark energy is something that has enough negative pressure that [it] pushes the universe further and further apart, but we know of no physical thing that has negative pressure, and that’s why dark energy is fundamentally a very strange thing.” Essentially, it is energy that acts contrary to anything physicists have seen before. However, the concept of dark energy was not wholly without precedent. In his early theories of relativity, Einstein included a factor he designed called the “cosmological constant,” a generic force that pushed the masses of the universe outward and away from one another at exactly the same strength that gravity pulled them inwards. He envisioned a cosmos that neither contracted nor expanded. However, such a perfectly balanced equilibrium seemed impossible, and Einstein abandoned the term when Hubble’s 1929 observations showed that

the universe was expanding. Historical reports have Einstein calling the creation of the cosmological constant his “biggest mistake” in creating a model of the universe. But Einstein may have been too quick to dismiss the concept. Now decades-old theories regarding the cosmological constant are being applied to the study of dark energy because, as Dell’Antonio said, “it has exactly the right property: it causes space to want to accelerate.” By playing with Einstein’s equations relating the curvature of the universe to its contents, theoretical physicists have re-imagined the cosmological constant as something called “vacuum energy,” a type of energy associated with (and evenly distributed throughout) empty space. Thus, as the size of the universe increases, the amount of empty space increases, upping the amount of vacuum energy in the universe—and pushing it outward faster and faster. It is not yet understood exactly how and why dark energy is distributed, and, as with dark matter, we do not yet know how to place it meaningfully in our existing picture of the cosmos. Will the galaxies of our universe will gradually drift farther and farther apart to become lone islands of light in the vast black gulf of space? It’s possible. And if dark energy is evenly distributed throughout the universe, how then are we constantly surrounded by it yet have never before detected it? The decade old discovery has raised more questions than it has answered, but the potential for this vast source of energy seems as limitless as the source itself. The future of dark energy research is both macroscopic and incredibly myopic. Physicists are studying the farthest reaches of space to gather as many data points as possible about rates of expansion throughout time. They are analyzing their data for subtle trends that might lend further information to the effects wrought by dark energy on our changing cosmos. But why should we care about these unseen forces and particles hovering in the black inter-galactic voids that we now know are not as empty as they seem? If you’re not convinced of the exciting potential of dark matter and dark energy research, it’s worth making a trip up to Dell’Antonio’s charmingly cluttered corner office in the Barus and Holley building at Brown University. He puts it best when he says, “You open a window and you see, ‘Oh, there’s a bigger universe out there’….expanding our view of the possibilities of where things go—that’s the biggest excitement. It may well be that the discovery of dark matter will lead us to a new force of nature, or will lead us to something really profoundly new about how the universe works. But fundamentally, for now, being able to strive to piece together how the universe works and how we fit into that working of the universe... I think of it as an intellectual challenge.” ASHTON STRAIT B‘13 is a cosmological mystery.



20 OCTOBER 2011



’S DINE R HIST by Chris Cohen ORY Illustratio n by C
ecilia Sa lama



he Ocean State defends its local food traditions with a fervor inversley proportional to its size: Rhode Island diners take pride in quirky items like stuffed quahogs, New York System wieners, and coffee milk. The state’s role in what may be its most significant contribution to American food culture is less well known, though. The diner—the iconic, inexpensive, prefabricated American restaurant—has its genesis in 19th century Providence. In 1872, realizing that hungry newspapermen working through the night on the next day’s paper might want a hot meal, Walter Scott quit his job at the Providence Journal, bought a horse and wagon, and set up shop in front of the offices of the paper every night until four in the morning. Most restaurants in his day would have closed by 8 p.m. Working out of his cart, he sold food that would not be totally out of place in a diner today: hot sandwiches, hard boiled eggs, and pie, all cooked to order. Sandwiches ran about five cents; high rollers could spring for a plate of chicken, which cost thirty cents – about six dollars in 2011 money. Scott’s food was a hit, and downtown Providence was quickly clogged by mobile vendors selling hot food at all hours of the night. They began selling from what we would today call a food cart. Competition was fierce, and before the turn of the century Scott’s rivals developed a compact restaurant, that could be pulled by horses, with stools for patrons inside. These lunch wagons, as they were called, were such a success that companies like

the Wooster Lunch Car Company began to mass-produce them in factories. As the years went on mobility became less important and the horse-drawn lunch wagon gave way to the prefabricated roadside restaurant that is so familiar today. Walter Scott, for his part, wrapped up his long career selling food in downtown Providence in 1917. In a newspaper profile marking the end of his career, Scott acknowledged his influence: “I guess I’ve done my share putting the night lunch on the map, and I’m perfectly willing to let others do the scratching for dollars that came pretty easy in the old days.” The essential elements of the modern diner were in place when Scott retired. Diners were already places where one could eat an inexpensive meal cooked to order at odd hours. Prefabricated construction of the building, though, is what ultimately qualifies a restaurant as a diner today. Richard Gutman, curator of the Culinary Arts Museum at Johnson and Wales University, contends, “You can categorize the building by a certain architecture, and a true diner is built in a factory. There are a lot of other places that are quick lunch restaurants that have the same feel, but I think when you add the typical diner food to the architecture and the materials and the patina, it’s better to be strict in your definition.” The Thayer Street Johnny Rockets, in other words, does not pass muster. Diners are not fast food restaurants, churning out identical food anywhere

in the world. Because diners are built in factories, they often share a high degree of architectural similarity. This physical similarity, however, belies the often-high degree of personality and regional variation to be found in many diners. Unlike a fast food place, according to Gutman, “Each one has its own personality, and its own chef, and its own menu, so you don’t necessarily know what to expect there. That’s part of the fun.” Rhode Island diners, for example, will likely serve clams, in the same way that a diner in Maryland have crab cakes. Providence may have given birth to the diner, but it is probably impossible for any one city to claim ownership. The diner is a distinctively American type that transcends regional stereotyping. Because the restaurants are by definition generic and mobile, they can defy geography: it’s cheap and easy to move a diner if rents get raised, or another market beckons. A famous New York diner called the Moondance, for example, was shipped to Wyoming a few years ago, and seems none the worse for wear. However, while Providence may not own the idea of the diner, it should be considered an integral component of Rhode Island food culture. As Gutman puts it, “because they originated here, and there have been some in the city of Providence ever since, I would say they’re part of our landscape and our tradition.” CHRIS COHEN ’12 wants to put Johnny Rockets on wheels.




Providence continues, in that vein, to boast several excellent prefabricated diners: Gutman named the Seaplane Diner as his favorite: it’s located south at 307 Allens Avenue, across the street from the Port of Providence. The Seaplane has a classic diner atmosphere (in a good way) and is known for its Oreo pancakes and meatloaf. The Modern Diner on East Avenue in Pawtucket was the first diner added to the National Register of Historic Places, in 1978. It was built in 1941 in the then-trendy streamlined style: it resembles a futuristic train car. Today it serves food a little more upscale than typical diner fare: think lobster eggs benedict instead of a simple scramble. The Liberty Elm Diner (formerly the Central) was added to the National Register of Historic Places more recently, in 2010. It is one of about 90 remaining Worchester Lunch Car diners left in service. At its new location on Elmwood Avenue, it has adopted contemporary coffee shop sensibility, with WiFi, concerts, and tofu. The Haven Brothers Diner harkens back almost all the way to Walter Scott himself: Haven Brothers has operated in Providence since it was pulled by horses in 1888. Unlike the modern stationary restaurant, Haven Brothers is still a self-contained restaurant on wheels. It parks every night on the corner of Dorrance and Fulton Streets until 5 am.

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