“The more toppings a man has on his pizza, I believe, the more manly he is,” Herman Cain, candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, told GQ magazine in this week’s issue. “Because the more manly man is not afraid of abundance.” A veggie pizza, on the other hand, is a “sissy pizza.” He explains that, “A manly man don’t want it piled high with vegetables!” The sexism presented in this ‘analysis’ should be obvious. His characterizations of Mitt Romney as vanilla ice cream and of Rick Perry as rocky road seem accurate, though. After improbably vaulting to the lead of several national polls in the last month, Cain’s campaign has run into trouble. Aside from underwhelming and clichéd pizza analyses, Cain has been rocked by allegations of sexual harassment, and an awkward video of his bewilderment after being questioned about President Obama’s handling of the Libyan revolution. Add his trademark know-nothing devotion to the “9-9-9” tax plan (which nonpartisan analysts have said will both increase deficits and force low income Americans to pay a greater share of overall taxes) and it’s hard to imagine Cain in the Oval Office in 2013. The staff of the Indy just polished off a Nice Slice vegan barbecue chicken pizza a few minutes ago. That might make us sissies, but we do know what we think about Libya, and that’s okay with us.










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 Andrew Beers, Jared Stern, Olivia Fialkow, Joanna Zhang ∙ COVER EDITOR Annika Finne ∙ ILLUSTRATIONS EDITORS Robert Sandler, Becca Levison ∙ SENIOR EDITORS Gillian Brassil, Adrian Randall, Erin Schikowski, Dayna Tortorici ∙ STAFF WRITERS Madilynn Castillo, Barry Elkinton MVP Chris Cohen ‘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 Prgress. Campus Progress works to help young people–advocates, activists, journalists, artists–makes their voices heard on issues that matter. Learn more at






Illustration by Robert Sandler

by Stoni Tomson
Although today’s most popular smart phone app provides users with an arsenal of angry birds to battle apple-stealing pigs, it’s beginning to seem likely that the future of apps will address more serious concerns. This month, Whypoll, a not-forprofit “citizens’ networking group” that aims to facilitate greater civic engagement in India, will release the Fight Back App. The app is described on Whypoll’s website as “India’s first women’s safety SOS mobile application.” For the price of 100 rupees, about $2, the app helps women report threats of harassment and violence by sending a text message with a GPS location to up to five pre-selected contacts, including the police. In an attempt to protect privacy, users may send these texts anonymously. In addition, users have the choice of allowing the app to send out instant alerts on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. While at first glance the ease with which one can make a report seems surprising, Whypoll co-founder Hindol Sengupta explains that “Women are harassed and molested everywhere on buses, at metro stations, in markets ... we believe this is Asia's first phone application aimed at making women safer." Part of Whypoll’s “Safe in the City” campaign, the data from the SOS app alerts will be compiled in an online “(UN) SAFE Map of New Delhi” to create a living database of gender-related crimes. As certain places become clearly defined as high-risk areas, Whypoll will notify the police and the press so that “there is a permanent, sustained pressure on the system to solve problem areas,” according to the campaign website. This practice is consistent with Whypoll’s goals of “creating a feedback mechanism and research process between citizens and government.” Within New Deli, one-fourth of all reported rapes in India are committed, according to statistics in the National Crime Records Bureau’s 2010 report. Moreover, many Indians believe that these numbers are low, based on high rates of underreported gender-related crime. For example, the National Commission for Women has recorded more than 500 complaints of harassment by women from Delhi so far this year that went unreported to police. The agency has also noted that complaints of police apathy were common. Enter Whypoll, which attempts to address the problem by allowing Fight Back App users to remain anonymous. While the app is currently being tested by a small group of users, its effectiveness remains to be seen. Sengupta is hopeful but realistic about the app’s impact: “Fight Back is not a complete solution. It won’t solve the problem of violence against women per se. But we’re hoping ...that it will give us a clearer picture of the scope of the problem.”

by Alex Ronan
Santa, Jesus, Poseidon, and the devil walk into a bar. Or rather, a huge billboard. The American Atheist’s holiday MYTH campaign, launched on November 14, includes a sign above the Lincoln Tunnel, on the New Jersey Side, depicting the four figures with the accompanying message “37 million Americans know MYTHS when they see them.” Billboards will appear in several other locations nationwide, including Florida and Ohio. Photographs of a Poseidon statue, a figure in a suit and devil mask, a painting of Jesus and a Santa bookend the question “What myths do you see?” The “37 million” figure presumably refers the number of atheists in America, though this figure is difficult to confirm. A 2011 Gallup poll found that eight percent of Americans don’t believe in a god, putting the figure closer to 25,000,000. Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists, told Opposing Views that he hopes the group’s signs are “thoughtprovoking and spark plenty of conversation nationally.” In the same interview communications director Blair Scott insisted that the signs aren’t meant to offend people. However, he admitted, “When you question someone's long-held beliefs and doctrine, they are going to be immediately offended and be on the defensive; it's a known psychological phenomenon.” One Pastor told the Christian Post that the signs were “ignorant” since “only the most dense and simple-minded person would put [Jesus] in the same category as the other three. Clearly, even those who lack a personal commitment to Jesus recognize that there was in fact some historical figure [who went] by this name….” The American Atheist’s first campaign, carried out last holiday season, was in response to the American Family Association and the Catholic League. According to Scott, such organizations reported a “War on Christmas.” In an announcement, Scott said, “we thought we would give them what they seemed to want and fired the first shot in the war on Christmas” with the billboards declaring “You Know It's A Myth. This Season, Celebrate Reason.” The Catholic League retaliated with a billboard that read “You know it’s real. This season: Celebrate Jesus.” As for this year, Scott says, “to both groups we say, 'Happy Holidays!'"

by Seth Kleinschmidt
If you were thinking of visiting Africa sometime soon to take pictures of rhinos, be prepared to search long and hard. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a global conservation organization and eco-watchdog group, reported last week that the Western Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis longipes) is officially extinct: none are alive in the wild, and none exist in captivity. A few surviving Western Blacks persisted in Cameroon through the early 2000s, but the IUCN has given up hope that any remain alive. Rampant poaching is the main cause of the Western Black Rhino’s slide into oblivion, so it is likely that illegal hunters finished off Cameroon’s last survivors. An exhaustive search of the Western Black’s suspected habitat was performed in 2006, but no individuals were sighted and no tracks, dung, or other signs were found that would indicate a resident population of rhinos. The absence of Western Blacks from zoos and preserves makes impossible any reintroduction through captive breeding. According to the International Rhino Foundation (IRF), a rhino research and conservation group, Africa was home to roughly 65,000 Black Rhinos of all subspecies in the 1970s, but indiscriminate poaching dropped that figure to 2,300 in 1993. Black Rhinos, who take their name from the dark mud they wallow in, are massive creatures, standing around five feet tall and weighing up to one-and-a-half tons, but poachers are only interested in the animals’ horns. TRAFFIC, an IUCN partner organization which monitors trade in wildlife products, reports that as of early November 341 rhinos have been killed by poachers in South Africa alone. This figure surpasses the total numbers for the previous year, and is reflective of the thriving trade in black-market ivory. Many traditional Asian medicines, including supposed cancer cures, make use of rhino horn, and so African poaching provides a steady stream of illegal ivory that flows into China and Southeast Asia. “There were very limited anti-poaching efforts in place to save the animals, and anyone caught poaching was not sentenced, hence no deterrents were in place,” said Craig Hilton-Taylor, manager of the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species, in a press release. The most recent incarnation of the Red List also notes that Africa’s Northern White Rhino is Possibly Extinct in the Wild – a handful still survive in captivity – while Indonesia’s Javan rhino is now down to a rapidly-dwindling island population. Just a few week weeks ago the World Wildlife Fund declared the Vietnam Javan rhino Extinct. The IRF reports that there are around 3,600 of the three remaining subspecies of Africa’s Black Rhino, the majority of which are concentrated in Namibia and South Africa, where conservation has been moderately successful. White Rhinos are more numerous; around 11,300 are still in the wild, mostly in South Africa. The Northern White recently disappeared from the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Garamba National Park, but the White Rhino is still the least-endangered of Africa’s population. “In the case of both the Western Black Rhino and the Northern White Rhino the situation could have had very different results if the suggested conservation measures had been implemented,” said Simon Stewart, Chair of the IUCN’s Species Survival Commission said, in the Red List announcement. “These measures must be strengthened now, specifically managing habitats in order to improve breeding performance, preventing other rhinos from fading into extinction.”



17 NOVEMBER 2011

California DREAM Act’s cultural clashes
by Kate Welsh Illustration by Robert Sandler


atia came to United States illegally from Jalisco, Mexico when she was two and a half years old. She doesn’t remember the journey, but her mother told her that she gave her Nyquil so that she wouldn’t cry when she handed her off to a human smuggler outside of Guadalajara, Mexico. As baby Katia fell asleep, her mother feared that she “wouldn’t see [her] ever again.” But Katia made it across the border, where her father—who had been in the United States for a few months—picked her up. Her mother followed shortly after. The family established a life that was distinctly better than the one they had in Mexio. Katia emphatically insists that while she would maybe like to visit Mexico, she wants to live in the U.S. Although both parents are currently employed in LA (her mother as a cook in a food truck and her father as a construction worker), they will never be able to hold jobs that keep them steadily above the poverty line. Jobs available to illegal immigrants tend to be below minimum wage, and paid in cash—the result of not having a Social Security number. Katia says that the fear of being caught is a “constant weight on my chest.” She lives on the “low-key,” as she puts it. Unlike many of her teenage peers living in South Central Los Angeles, she can’t get a driver’s license, another result of not having a Social Security number. When underage friends start drinking at a party, she leaves. Her friends accuse her of being too straight-edge, but she knows better than to find herself in a situation where she would have to show identification to a cop. Katia found solace when the California Dream Act passed, which Governor

Jerry Brown signed in early October. It allows undocumented students to access scholarships at the University of California and California State University systems, as well as fee waivers at community colleges. Her top choice is Pomona, and she wants to become a veterinarian. Her teacher, Ellie Herman, says that Katia, as well as some of her other undocumented students, view the Act, wrongly or not, as a “next step towards legalization.” For some undocumented immigrants, legalized citizenship remains a distant dream, since the federal government did not pass the national version of the Dream Act. Additionally, the California Dream Act faces opposition in the form of citizens’ referendums—California’s infamously oft-utilized method of overturning or passing laws through the ballot box. And, especially in Katia’s neighborhood of South Central, the Dream Act has reignited a touchy discussion among some conservative African American leaders. As the black news and entertainment magazine, RollingOut, put it, “Should tax payer funds be used to support the illegal immigrant population and would… lowincome, aspiring black college students would be dealt a devastating blow in securing funding if like legislation spreads across the country?” A CHANGING COMMUNITY In South Central, proponents of tougher immigrations laws have found unusual bedfellows: conservative leaders of the African-American community. In a neighborhood that was predominantly AfricanAmerican in the 2000 census, Latino’s now comprise over 87 percent of the population.

In 2008, the late Terry Anderson, a former auto mechanic and longtime African-American resident of South Central LA, thundered from KRLA-AM station, “I have gone on the streets and talked to people at random here in the black community, and they all ask me the same question: ‘Why are our politicians and leaders letting this happen?’” Anderson wasn’t worked up about the Jena Six or nooses on Columbia University doorknobs. Instead, he was fuming about the three illegal immigrants who allegedly murdered three African-American Newark college students that August. And when he criticized politicians for “letting this happen,” he directed his anger at members of the Black Congressional Caucus who supported open borders and amnesty for illegal immigrants. “Massive illegal immigration has been devastating to my community,” Anderson told listeners, “Black Americans are hit the hardest.” Unease about immigration has existed in black political discourse since the 1860s, when Frederick Douglass warned Northern employers in an 1863 article, “every hour sees the black man elbowed out of employment by some newly arrived emigrant, whose hunger and color are thought to give him a better title to the place.” Douglass was referring to the influx of Italian, Irish, and Chinese immigrants arriving, but his quote contains a sentiment echoed by some conservative African-Americans through time: immigrants are displacing free blacks in the labor market. Twenty-five years later, Booker T. Washington exhorted America’s industrialists to “cast down your bucket,” not among new immigrants but “among the

eight million Negros . . . who have without strikes and labor wars tilled your fields, cleared your forests, builded [sic.] your railroads and cities.” Another black conservative, journalist George Shuyler, favored the immigration reform acts of the 1920s, which limited European immigration, and also urged restrictions on Mexican workers: “If the million Mexicans who have entered the country have not displaced Negro workers, whom have they displaced?” he asked in 1928. But the 1960s brought a change in the views of black political leaders towards immigration, especially after President Lyndon B. Johnson and congressional supporters of liberalizing immigration claimed the mantle of the Civil Rights movement for their reforms, which became law in 1965 and resulted in a 60 percent increase in legal immigration over the subsequent decade. Martin Luther King Jr. believed that blacks and poor immigrants had much in common and could become political allies. In 1967, he sought to revitalize the black freedom struggle as explicitly based in class, not race. The “Poor People’s Campaign”—a coalition of African-Americans, Latinos, NativeAmericans, and poor whites—aimed to pressure the federal government to fulfill its promises on the War on Poverty. Related to his desire for such a broad-based coalition, in the run-up to the passage of the immigration bill, Dr. King endorsed the idea of letting Cubans fleeing Castro to settle in Miami. Jesse Jackson would later herald the imminent arrival of a mighty “black-brown” or “rainbow” coalition that would, he claimed, propel him to the 1984 Democratic presidential nomination. As it turned out, Jackson failed




to win much Hispanic support, which mostly lined up behind Walter Mondale. But Jackson’s dream continued to spread among black politicians, including those in the Congressional Black Caucus, which became one of Washington’s most vocal groups opposing immigration restrictions. But since immigration returned as a national issue in 2006, ambivalence towards immigration policy has increasingly given way to opposition and even anger. Recent polling data reveal the shift. Though a 2006 Pew Center national survey showed some ambivalence among blacks toward immigrants, it also found that in several urban areas where blacks and Latinos were living together, blacks were more likely to say that immigrants were taking jobs from Americans, and also more likely to favor cutting America’s current immigration levels. When the Reverend Al Sharpton led thousands to the Arizona state capitol building in Phoenix in May 2010 to protest the state’s controversial anti-immigration laws, the black journalist Earl Ofari Hutchinson, a Huffington Post contributor, noticed a “small group of mostly AfricanAmerican counter-protesters hectoring the protesters on the periphery of the march.” Despite the opposition to the Arizona law of Sharpton, President Obama,

major civil rights groups, and nearly all black Democratic state and local officials, there is a distinct strain of unease in black communities toward immigration reform. BORDERS TO BULLETS? Illegal immigration remains a hot-button topic on African-American stations like satellite radio XM’s “The Power,” with callers demanding more immigration restrictions. Some African-American bloggers have criticized black politicians who favor liberal immigration policies. “In the realm of pandering black elites, there is no more notorious public figure than [Texas] Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee,” wrote Elizabeth Wright in the online newsletter “Issues & Views.” “According to Jackson-Lee, those blacks who forcefully oppose mass immigration are simply naive and are being ‘baited’ [by white opponents of immigration] into taking such negative positions.” In poor areas, proximity can result in conflict. Los Angeles tallied more than 400 racial hate crimes last year—the most, as a proportion of all hate crimes, for at least a decade. Blacks fared worst: they comprise just 9 percent of the population of Los Angeles County but were the victims of 59 percent of all race-hate crimes. Seven times out of ten, their attackers were Latino. Hispanics, who make up al-

most half the population, were victimized by blacks eight-tenths of the time. These numbers greatly understate the violence. They do not, for example, include the victims of a dozen interracial prison riots last year, which left two dead. As the Hispanic population has expanded in formerly black areas, Latinos have also vied more intensely with blacks for affirmative-action slots, public-sector jobs, and political power. This battle over quotas for public-sector jobs is a glaring example of how immigration is turning the race-based policies of the last 40 years, originally designed to help blacks, against them. For AfricanAmerican leaders like Claud Anderson, head of the Harvest Institute—a non-profit dedicated to black empowerment—the turnabout represents a betrayal of the Civil Rights movement, because: only African Americans deserve quotas. “When did our government ever exclude immigrants or deny them their constitutional rights, as they did African-Americans?” he asked rhetorically in an interview with historian Steven Malanga. But for other blacks, the demands of Latinos and Asians that government set-aside programs include them are further evidence that racial preferences were misguided in the first place. “Blacks who support skin color privileges now will be singing a different

tune later once government starts discriminating against them once again, this time in favor of Hispanics,” writes columnist and blogger La Shawn Barber. California city councilperson Acquanetta Warren minced no words during her 2011 campaign. She enthusiastically cheered Arizona immigration law, citing a study that claims that the influx of Latino workers into a city increases unemployment and violence in the African-American community. However, as Hutchinson penned in the Huffington Post, “fingering illegal immigrants for black joblessness and discrimination won’t change anything.” It is unclear if this debate will affect the imminent citizens’ referendums on the California Dream Act, or if conservatives will take advantage of this tension. Katia says that she understands some of the anger directed at illegal immigrants, but that she remains hopeful that someday she and other undocumented young people will become legal citizens. She said, “I know how hard it is for people who didn’t choose to come over here… they didn’t decide to for themselves.” KATE WELSH B ‘12 doesn’t mince words.



17 NOVEMBER 2011

A new season of scandal
by Muhammad Saigol illustration by Robert Sandler
exual assault. Attempted murder. Evading the police. Battery. These may sound like charges in a couple of juicy Law and Order episodes, but, in fact, they are just sound bites from the soap-opera that is Rhode Island political life. Scandal renewed on September 14, when Rhode Island state representative Daniel Gordon (R.), 42, was arrested in Tiverton, Rhode Island after being charged with evading the police, dodging his longstanding criminal history. He was released on a $1,000 bail. After approaching the police about an unrelated incident on September 9 to complain that an online blogger was impersonating him, authorities learned that he had a suspended license. Upon further investigation, they found a trail on Gordon: he had failed to appear in Fall River, Massachusetts District Court in October 2008 on charges of driving with a suspended license, and failed to stop for police in April of that year. Then, in late September, it emerged in a WPRI Target 12 report that Gordon had additionally been jailed three times in Massachusetts since 1999 and charged with more than a dozen crimes in the last 18 years. Most of the charges pertained to assault and battery, but there was one charge of attempted murder, apparently aimed at his then-girlfriend. Puzzlingly, Gordon was elected in 2010, despite his extensive criminal record and easily refutable lies. In a letter the to the editor of the Providence Journal, Providence resident reprimanded Gordon for his corrupt “behavior that ultimately poisons Rhode Island’s governmental systems – for which we the people pay, financially, psychologically, and spiritually.” Gordon’s criminal record was not the only aspect of the Tiverton state representative that has been scrutinized. He had claimed that he had served in the Gulf War as a Marine and was awarded a Purple Heart. In an investigation by the Provi-


dence Journal, it emerged that Gordon had indeed served in the Marines from 1987 to 1991 – but as an airfield technician at four bases within the US. He had never been near any. Still, Gordon maintains that the records – provided to the Journal by the Marines – are false. “I don’t know what to tell you, I was there,” he told CBS News. Both House Speaker Gordon Fox and members of the GOP have made calls asking Gordon to step down. However, Gordon remains an active member of the Rhode Island General Assembly. State representative John Edwards (D.) of Tiverton has launched a Facebook group entitled “RI Rep Daniel Gordon – Please Resign From Office” to encourage voters to voice their distaste. “If I hear from enough of you, I will bring it to Fox and see if there is anything we can do,” he said in an interview with the Journal. A call made to Gordon was not returned. CORRUPT COMPANY Gordon is not the only state official whose less-than-stellar history was revealed this year. John Carnevale (D.) is a 50-year-old retired police sergeant on pension—balding, heavyset, and stern-faced. On October 28, Carnevale, the state representative from Johnston, was formally charged with having sexually assaulted a woman in July. Carnevale’s lawyer, William Dimitri, maintains his client’s innocence, although Carnevale, a sitting member of the House Committee on Finance, has yet to issue a statement himself. His arraignment took place on November 16. He pled ‘not guilty’ and was released on a $50,000 bail with surety. When asked about Carnevale’s future political plans, Dimitri told the Providence Journal, he is “sure he’ll want to do what is best for the State.” Damien Baldino, a 35-year-old kindergarten teacher and former Republican rival for the Johnston seat, has called for Carnevale to resign. In an interview with WPRI, Baldino said

that Carnevale should step down in order to stop him from “becoming a distraction in the State House.” Other state officials, including House Speaker Fox, have declined to weigh-in until Carnevale had a chance to defend himself in court. For now, Carnevale remains a member of the House, across the aisle from Gordon, who has called for the same level of scrutiny for the Democrat that he received in his own scandal. “If these things do not occur, it is proof positive of the culture of favoritism and cronyism in the State House,” Gordon said in an interview to GoLocal Providence News. This is not the first time that Carnevale has been accused of such a heinous crime. Behind the Blue Wall, a blog dedicated to bringing attention to domestic abuse cases nationally, compiled a list of articles on Carnevale that paint a dark history of violence. His ex-wife accused him of having “punched, choked, and whipped her with an electric cord,” according to an article in the Providence Journal published on October 13, 2004. She claimed that he was visiting his children when he saw her operating an electric saw in the basement and, allegedly, unplugged the saw and used the cord as a weapon after the former couple got into an argument regarding the sale of their house. Carnevale denied the claims, saying that he was forced to push his ex-wife to keep her from getting cut by the saw. The article also asserts that this particular incident was the third time in five years that Carnevale had been accused of sexual assault or domestic abuse, all directed towards his ex-wife. In 1999, he was accused of assaulting her with a phone cord, and in 2001 she alleged that he threatened to slit her throat and damage her car after a dispute. Carnevale was never convicted. In 2008, Carnevale was elected to the state legislature representing Johnston with 70.6 percent of the vote, according to the website. It is not hard to see why, given Carnevale’s voting record on, which shows he is consistently liberal in a staunchly Democratic state. Unsuprisingly in 2010, Carnevale voted for the sealing of Rhode Island criminal records in cases where the sentence was deferred, reported the Journal. SHADES OF CIANCI Local political pundits and residents are incredulous about how such officials could have gotten elected in the first place. “You need to pass a criminal background check to get a job at McDonald’s,” Providence resident Geoff Johansson mused about Gordon in an interview with the Journal. “What is his political connection? Why is he getting away with all this?” In fact, one does not need a political connection in the state to sweep past offences under the rug. In an interview with the New England Post, John Marion, the head of Common Cause Rhode Island—a group that promotes government transparency—explained the discrepancy allowing Gordon and Carnevale to keep office. “The state set a standard that if you were convicted of a felony or served more than six months in jail for a misdemeanor in the last three years you would have to disclose it.” Otherwise, no candidate is obliged to reveal his criminal history. Carnevale and Gordon are far from unique cases in Rhode Island, where Cianci is a brand name. Marion wants all candidates to reveal their criminal histories— regardless of severity—given how rampant and nefarious public officials can get in the Ocean State. With the ninth-highest unemployment rate in the country, and a capital city with 60 percent more violent crime than the national average (using 2009 data), Rhode Island needs less shadowy politicians to brighten the bleak statistics. MUHAMMAD SAIGOL B ‘12 can smell Rhode Island a mile away.




An Ambivalent Analysis of Citizens United
by Jeanne Jeong Illustration by Annika Finne


clever sign stands out among the 99%. Provocative and pointed, it reads, “I refuse to believe corporations are people until Texas executes one.” While general anti-corporate commentary has captured the streets, the Internet, and the mood of progressive solidarity behind #occupy, the slogan's sense that corporations can't possibly be people enjoys privileged appeal. Likewise, its jocular cousin asks, “Would you let your sister marry a corporation?” Last month, Princeton professor and public intellectual Cornel West spoke out on this issue. Arrested for occupying the steps of the Supreme Court, West blamed the Citizens United v. FEC decision of January 21st, 2010 for opening the dams to corporate takeover of government. The famous decision, narrowly passed by a 5-4 vote, ruled that First Amendment rights extend to corporations and unions as well as individual people. Arguing that spending money can be an act of speech, the Court struck down a provision in the McCain-Feingold Act that limited corporate spending on election-related communications 60 days before an election. For the protestors on Wall Street, the peculiar notion of “corporate personhood” invites anger, bewilderment, and an uncomfortable sense of injustice. Their intuitive suspicion is that the corporate influence in politics that spawned “too big to fail” and loopholes for the wealthy is entangled with this view that corporations are people. Easily converted into witty one-liners, this intuition stems from the sneaking hunch that Goldman Sachs is different, somehow, from you and me. FAMILIAR METAPHORS Citizens United has produced two catchphrases that have since shaped contemporary political rhetoric – “corporations are people,” and “money is speech.” Unpalatable to most Americans, these ideas provoked public backlash, ranging from mild distaste for corruption, to visceral rejection. An ABC News/Washington Post Poll released weeks after Citizens United found that “80 percent of Americans opposed the decision, including 65 percent who 'strongly' oppose it.” Perhaps most notably, disapproval crossed party lines. Traditionally unfriendly to corporate power, many members of the liberal left predictably expressed their opposition to the ruling. Even President Obama, in a rare criticism of the Court, reproached Citizens United in his State of the Union address in 2010. More surprisingly, however, according to the same poll, 73% of those who agreed at least somewhat with Tea Party views disapproved of the loosening of spending regulations. In a political climate rife with heated partisanship,

the mutual outrage of Democrats and Republicans on this issue is unusual. Yet despite what such shared public sentiment might imply, the ideas of corporate personhood and money-as-speech are neither novel nor baseless. From the nation's early legal history, corporations have enjoyed at least some of the same rights as natural persons in ways we now view as rather uncontroversial. In the 1819 case, Dartmouth College v. Woodward, the Supreme Court recognized corporations' right to make and enforce contracts. Although different justices' views on the personhood debate have since oscillated, corporate rights have long served a practical, necessary purpose. Corporate personhood considers corporations as groups of individuals exercising their rights to associate with others, protecting them from excessive government intervention. What appears to be the more pressing question facing the public now is one of degree, not absolutes. It asks to what extent corporations should receive protections, not whether they should receive any protections at all. The idea that money is speech has also been present throughout American constitutional history. In the 1976 case, Buckley v. Valeo, the Supreme Court ruled that some parts of a law outlawing campaign communications made independent of candidates violated the First Amendment right to speech. In doing so, the ruling included spending in a broader category of political expression. Though it held that restrictions on individual contributions to candidates did not violate the First Amendment, the majority decided that limiting expenditures by candidates themselves violated free speech. Extending the Court's logic suggests that money has an expressive quality. In short, it's a form of speech. Both of the ideas are dubious. In his dissent to Citizens United, Justice Stevens notes “...corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires... they are not themselves members of 'We the People' by whom and for whom our Constitution was established.” With the #Occupy movement targeting big business and the financial sector, corporate personhood appears in the public eye as the greater of two evils behind Citizens United. After all, corporations are almost always wealthier than individuals. Even worse, they're often considered profit-seeking behemoths unconcerned with the general welfare of those citizens of ordinary means. BEGRUDGING ADMITTANCE Those opposed to Citizens United fear that by extending the free speech rights of corporations, the ruling will drown out the

speech of average citizens. Before elections, corporations will boast unfair advantages in the game of buying and selling politicians' limited attention and time, especially since the financial sector already held a strong lead before the ruling. Post election day, politicians backed by these deep pockets will then listen primarily to the voices of big business. Supporters of Citizens United point out that while corporations tend to support the right, unions and their leftist counterpart are also free to run ads to the benefit of certain parties and candidates. But it's a well-understood fallacy that corporations and unions will have equal opportunity in the corrupt exchange of crony capitalism. A potential remedy for the decision's partisan effects, critics propose, is to pass a Constitutional amendment abolishing corporate personhood. The commotion surrounding Citizens United, along with its seizure by the #Occupy movement, creates an illusion of urgency and momentousness to the cause. Not all of that sense is undeserved. Yet the shallow implication that this case alone opens the floodgates to masked bribery and unscrupulous governance is misguided. American democracy was far from perfect before the ruling; the pampering of banks in the financial crisis should serve as clear evidence of that. Certainly the Citizens United case is in part a blow for that imperfect democracy, but the root of that blow lies primarily in the assumption that money is speech, not that corporations deserve some protection. The quintessential corporation may evoke imagery of unfeeling skyscrapers and airy boardrooms filled with profithunting, dark-suited businessmen. Corporations of this sort cause oil spills and take weeks to express any inklings of true remorse. They force hometown momand-pop stores to board their windows. They offer hotel lodging prepared by underpaid workers who are in turn harassed for union organizing. At the same time, corporations of another sort exist. For example, there are those that protect civil rights or advocate for women's rights to choose and provide reproductive and maternal health services. Indeed, the American Civil Liberties Union is incorporated, as is Planned Parenthood. Like Citizens United, Inc., the ACLU and Planned Parenthood are non-profit corporations, though they sit on the other side of the political fence. Ira Glasser, former executive director of the ACLU, cautions against unequivocally demonizing corporations. Glasser cites a 1972 case that arose when the ACLU was prevented from advertising in the New York Times, because it was too critical of then-President Richard Nixon. The ad at-

tacked Nixon’s opposition to school busing for integration. If corporations weren't protected by the First Amendment at all, the government could hardly be restrained from limiting their advocacy. Whether that advocacy is for the tobacco lobby or for an anti-smoking campaign, potentially unbridled government interference seems dangerous, especially considering that these organizations are in many ways, associations of individuals expressing common views. Considering Citizens United in this light, restricting the speech of some corporations and not others is unfair, but restricting the speech of all limits the viewpoints accessible to the public in the crucial days before an election. CLEANING UP The potential flooding of airwaves by corporate-funded ads is an egregious consequence of Citizens United, as is the new allowance of SuperPACs, which can use unlimited donations to produce attack ads and other communications. But these are not problems inherent in the notion of corporate personhood. What Citizens United does that is so disagreeable is combine the two concepts, corporate personhood and the metaphor that money is speech, into one decision. The fact that corporations might need First Amendment protections might be less controversial taken alone. That those rights extend to spending unlimited amounts of money, an area in which corporations clearly have an advantage over ordinary citizens, is more offensive. Wealthier citizens by no means have more to say than the poor or disadvantaged. Nor are they in greater need of having their interests represented. Rejecting money as speech and admitting some aspects of corporate personhood would present a new, muchimproved paradigm for clean elections. If money isn't speech, for-profit or advocacy corporations—as well as wealthy candidates and individuals—will have to exercise their First Amendment protections only through real speech that's not contingent on social class or personal wealth. Eliminating corporate rights won't prevent politicians from pandering to the business elite as long as spending is considered a fundamental right of individuals and PACs. Only through regulating potential corruption by dollars, odious to a democracy of equals, will the system force politicians to pay attention to their constituents, not just their constituents who pay. JEANNE JEONG B ’12 thinks that if corporations are people, they should probably pay more taxes.



17 NOVEMBER 2011

O F RY E S TE A L AS t t e r s T M cri KÉc a r d s a n d PO
I t stra llu i yer i Dw ou im y M ne Zh b Dia n by o


ewsflash: Charizard is dead. I had no idea. This was my first mistake when I tried to enter the Pokémon Autumn Regional Championships at the Rhode Island Convention Center on November 12. “You’re trying to play with those things?” a kid in full-body Pikachu suit scoffed when I flashed the old cards. We original Pokémon collectors are living, whether you know it or not, in the fifth Poké generation. So much has passed us by. The Pokémon of yore—Snorlax, Bulbasaur, Eevee—are relics. They’ve been phased out and are no longer eligible for gameplay. Second mistake: I never learned how to play the game, and it is scarily complex. It now involves dice and coins in addition to cards. Like most American kids circa 1998, I collected the 150 cards for a period of three or so months, horded them obsessively, and promptly forgot them. They lie in wait in my basement with legions of Tamagotchis and Furbies. But no one here is impressed that I once owned a holographic Charizard. Like the Montreal nine-year-old who stabbed a classmate in a Pokémon dispute in 2000, they have a stake in the game. They have sold their irrelevant Charizards. They’ve danced on his flaming 120 HP grave. A caveat: Charizard is not dead, per se, because Pokémon don’t die. They faint. The Poké-gods want to avoid child trauma, even though the average Pokémon card game player today is 19. Approximately 200 players line six long tables in the sparse Convention Center, competing in three divisions: Juniors (10 and under), Seniors (11 through 17) and Masters (everybody else.) They are battling for Pokéswagger and points to qualify for the world championships in Hawaii this August. They sit across from each other, looking deep and menacingly into their opponents’ eyes and laying their non-proverbial cards on the table. Kids fill out the first table, but the number of adults playing in the Masters category today dwarfs them. Which feels strange because Pokémon, unlike Magic: The Gathering or Settlers of Catan, is marketed towards kids. It’s PG-rated and was, at a point not too far in the past, all the rage. No one will be impressed by your Pokémon proficiency, whereas Magic and Settlers have some underground cred: “The majestic world of Magic: The Gathering… has lived on throughout the trendy games such as the Legend of the Five Rings, Pokémon, and Yu-Gi-Oh,” writes uncertified game expert Nicho-

las Pelak in a Myspace blog post. “Magic boasts creative art, impressive age-old themes and gameplay rivaled by… chess.” What’s more, you can win $45,000 at Magic World Championships, but the prize for winning Pokémon Worlds is $7,500 in scholarships. EVOLUTION OF A POKÉMASTER The least-evolved Pokémon player at the tournament, Rachel Clarke, is four and can’t read. But she has memorized all sixty cards in her deck and can recite their names and powers on sight, plus do the math for their attack damage. In the tenand-under division, she’s won two games and lost two today. She has a blonde bowl cut and her voice is inaudible. She runs up to her mother after her fourth match and gives her a high-five. The Pokémon she most resembles, in my opinion, is Jigglypuff. But her favorite is Zekrom, a red-eyed, menacing, robot dragon. She’s all about Zekrom because he can do bolt strike—a massively damaging attack. Cubchoo, on the other hand, is a cuddly runnynosed bear that I’d assume would be her favorite. “He doesn’t do anything,” she says. His only attack is powder snow— lame. She says she doesn’t feel sad when she loses. “We’ll keep that attitude as long as we can,” says her mother, Sue. The game teaches sportsmanship. And there are bonuses for Rachel besides wielding power to strike fear in the hearts of her opponents: Pierce, a nebulous friend from preschool, also plays Pokémon. She brings the cards in for show-and-tell and they play together. Jack Sjoberg, 10, has traveled from Connecticut to qualify for World Championships in Hawaii. He’s made the “top cut” of four kids in the junior division this afternoon, and a group of adults dressed in polos with embroidered Pokéball insignias has shuttled them into a corner of the hall divided off with velvet rope. They sit the kids down at a table, prepare them to battle. Jack is composed. “I try to act cool around my opponents,” he says. “Because then they’ll think that I’m just bigger because if you act calm they’re like, ‘ooh, this guy doesn’t have anything to fear.’” A parent on the other side of the rope has pulled out a video camera and is zooming it in on Jack’s opponent, who is nervously fiddling with his Pikachu shirt. Jack seems like an old hand. He’s come to terms with Pokémon culture, even outside the convention. “I’m called a nerd sometimes,” he says. “But not in a mean way, not like

they’re bullying me. In a friendly-ish way.” He dominates the match. Dylan Moran, an eloquent twelveyear-old gamer, agrees: “It kind of gets you teased a lot,” he says. “People think it’s a kids’ game. But it’s better than playing Black Ops and sitting on your couch all day! You’re actually using your head!” At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, I would not file my Pokémon memories in the educational cabinet of my childhood. My parents certainly didn’t. But here, kids and parents here resoundingly agree: Pokémon teaches strategy, organization, math, and sportsmanship. “I could trick people into trading good cards for bad ones,” says Dylan. “But I don’t feel like it.” The Pokémon community, perhaps because it is family-oriented or perhaps because it can’t pretend to be cool, is rather friendly, as competitive battle-based subcultures go. Dylan has built two decks for players at the tournament today, and though players who’ve been caught cheating in the past are in attendance, they’re watched closely by the tournament judges. The Masters, the five long tables of teens and adults flipping cards and rolling dice, aren’t as open about their war methods. One of these serious players is Dylan Lefavour, 17. He was the 2008 Pokémon World Champion. And he is currently, according to the official Pokémon website, the 20th-best card game player in the world. He’s part of a wave of young American talent that has dominated Pokémon gameplay over the past few seasons. (Other top Pokémon nations currently include France and Denmark.) Today, he wears an airbrushed trucker hat that reads “Dylan” in bulbous letters next to a Pokéball. It is the same outfit he is wearing in his 2008 World Championships interview videos, and his Facebook profile picture. “My girlfriend gave it to me,” he says, then pauses. “Well—she’s not my girlfriend anymore.” They met through Pokémon. She’s not here today, but Lefavour says he “doesn’t care.” He also says that he’s “not nervous” about the tournament. Perhaps it’s because this activity does not inspire the same terror as debate or chess. There’s less at stake since Pokémon is not a traditionally ‘serious’ game. Everybody seems vaguely interested in making friends—Dylan met all his best friends through Pokémon. They have to laugh at themselves a little—it’s just a card game, right? In the Pokéworld, Dylan is in with the

right crowd, the champions, because he has medals under his belt. “At first people were kind of mean,” he says. “Pokémon used to be kind of cliquey. The best players congregate together. I talk to the better players, not the lesser ones. But I’m not mean like they were—shouting ‘N00B!’” Now, he says, the scene is less exclusive. But he acknowledges that this feeling might stem from his success. “When I was hot off my win,” he says, “kids would sometimes ask me for my autograph.” Lefavour is interested in the perks. “There are more girls at this game than other games,” he says. “There are actually quite a few girls in Pokémon.” There are probably ten girls, not including mothers, at the convention. Good pickins? I ask. “No,” he says--no Pokébiddies today. Dylan has only eaten peanut chunks and water all day. (“Protein,” he says solemnly.) He also slept in the hotel bathroom last night to achieve total silence. At home, he doesn’t have a Pokémon bedspread, but his trophies line the walls. Few of his schoolmates know he plays. He’s a junior in high school, and next year, he’ll write his college essays about the extracurricular that he cares about most: the Pokémon Trading Card Game. “Other kids play soccer,” he says. “I play Pokémon.” A postscript: Pokémon cannot procreate, but Pokémon couples can. Tim and Claire McTaggart, who judged the tournament today, met at Nationals in 2010, married, and now have a four-month-old named Rowan. Rowan has been to three tournaments. Tim and Claire still play Pokémon. They have birthed and are conditioning the optimal genetic Pokémon child. The possibilities are limitless: by the hundredth generation, will the optimal Pokémon just be a human with the power to realize all the cards are imaginary and flip the chessboard over? What would such a world look like? Is a Pokémon revolution imminent? MIMI DWYER B’13 XOXO IRRELEVANT SUBCULTURE.





Capricorn (12/22-1/21) Your days of love are finally upon us! The Taurus who was dressed in full drag has stuck around until now. Since that sign is your ideal lover, I suggest ordering takeout from Mills Tavern, putting it on some plates, and invite him over for a "home cooked meal". Aquarius (1/22-2/19) Your love life is filled with two extremes -- the emotionless airy types (Geminis, Libras) and the opposites you're attracted to -- Cancer and Virgos. Your time has...not come. You'll think a Leo is more sensitive than he is, and he'll end up boring you to death over details from his thesis. Pisces (2/20-3/20) Oh, sweet Pisces! You could love anyone you'd like, and make it work, too. However, you should probably stick to Cancers and Scorpios during these serious, snowridden months. Their mood swings and fierce loyalty both freak you out and keep you interested. And if anyone can stop your raging ADD, it's them. Aries (3/31-4/19) You are the most conceited and romantically thrill-seeking of the signs. Meaning, its not like you're doing anything bizarre in the bedroom....but you're definitely not averse. You're not quite ready to settle down, so we suggest you use this boring month to get cozy with the freakier of your compatible signs: Geminis and Aquariuses. Don't get sassy, though, Aries, or else you'll end up with that boring Libra who goes to Starbucks.

by Alexandra Corrigan
Libra (9/23-10/22) You're balanced, and don't care much for intellectual stimulation, so find a fun Aquarius. Look for her at your next literary magazine's meeting or RISD opening. She'll be the girl knocking back her third glass of expensive wine. Just roll with it. Virgo (8/23-9/22) You are not the type in the limlight. In fact, you want to do nothing but worry. And worry this winter you will! Instead of pursuing your stable lovers (Taurus, Cancer), you’re more freaked out by a parent’s love life. SRY Virgo! Your advice is to stop thinknig so much, and by January you’ll make out with acute Sagittarius. Scorpio (10/23-11/21) Despite what you think, you don't get away with being anonymous very often. Intense, loyal, and, dare I say it, sexual, we think of you as a great red-brown/burgundy color. Which is why we're thinking that you might go well with that witty nerd (Virgo) from your Contemplative Studies class. Whatever you do, stay away from the good-looking Taurus from Coffee Exchange. That love is boring and painful. Sagittarius (11/22-12/21) Oh Sag, philosophical and idealistic, you belong in the arms of a thinkerly Aquarius or a genius Leo. You'll find one in the desert in the sands of vacation, while doing research on esoteric forms of trance music. Be careful Sag, because you're like a bird--you always fly away. Avoid boys with cages.

h, love. It's all you need. Isn't that right, @YokoOno? Easier said than done, sadly. So while we proclaim to be no expert in the matter (unless one counts ability to do ineffective love spells with Trader Joe's-brand sage?), we've learned to read up in the meantime. You know, for the future. Or whatever. As it turns out, love in the universe is not a complicated thing, dear readers! Compatibility rests on two factors: similarity of element and difference in personality. For our purposes, we will concentrate on the matches of the sun signs. (And, disclaimer, we realize the limitations of looking at only where the sun is when one's born. It's just that the moon and the other planets move too fast to give an overview! So don't break up just yet. Give it like a week.) First, each sign has an element. Matching elements with your lover is key. Fire signs are enthusiastic, romantic, bossy and spontaneous: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius Earth signs are practical, earthy, physical and materialistic: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn Air signs are intellectual, communicative, idealistic, cold and impractical: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius Water signs are emotional, intuitive, sensitive, moody and self-indulgent: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces Second, romantic liaisons do not often work out when personality styles are alike. For example, two flexible types or two initiator types will compete rather than jive. So mix and match! Fixed signs (Persistent): Leo, Taurus, Aquarius, Scorpio Mutable signs (Flexible): Sagittarius, Virgo, Gemini, Pisces Cardinal signs (Initiator): Aries, Capricorn, Libra, Cancer

Taurus (4/20-5/20) You have a truly stellar fortune for the next eight months—especially in love! You're a workaholic, but this month is when you get in touch with the sweeter side of life. Watch for a fellow earth sign who has you romantically interested, because that one will last until spring. Or at least until #OccupyWallStreet ends. Gemini (5/21-6/20) Gemini, you are playing with fire. Your least compatible sign, Sagittarius, has got you on a hook and refuses to let you go. If you're not serious, you can play around, but realize it's only a matter of time til your heart hardens or gets crushed. Sometimes it's better to be silly with a less philosophical type. A Libra could be fun and can always be found lurking outside Salon for an easy pick up. Cancer (6/21-7/21) Sensitive Cancer, what are we going to do with you? The loyal, fashionable Scorpio you've been lusting after for months doesn't love you. Learn from it, move on, and maybe try sleeping with another Cancer. They'll never impress you with their forward sexts, but you can both cry together during the mom scene in The Darjeeling Limited. Leo (7/22-8/22) Leos, this astrologist is going to go out on a limb and say you need more of an intellectual counterpart than anyone--so pursue that Virgo with nerd-chic sarcasm. He'll make fun of you for being so loud in the library, but will join you happily at all of your parties. This one could last, if you treat it right.

17 NOVEMBER 2011

PAGE 550 PAGE 463

to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee. Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale;

but base little Pip, he died a coward;

PAGE 181 PAGE 250

above all things appalled me.


The Hindoo whale referred to, occurs in a separate department of the wall, depicting the incarnation of It was the whiteness of the whale that

Vishnu in the form of Leviathan, learnedly known as the Matse Avatar.

died all a’shiver; — out upon Pip!





am absolutely bizarrely obsessed with Moby-Dick and with this art,” says Matt Kish. From August 5, 2009 to January 29, 2011, Kish drew, in order, an illustration for every page of Moby-Dick, all while driving three hours to and from work five days a week. His illustrations were published in October as a book (Moby-Dick in Pictures: One Drawing for Every Page) and can also we seen on his website, Obsession indeed, but an obsession for a book about obsession is fitting, almost as if Kish were part of the book. The first time I emailed him, I addressed him as Mr. Kish. “Call me Matt,” he replied. The Independent: How did you start making art? MK: Even now I don’t consider myself an artist, I don’t like to use that term. I’m a librarian, and that’s something I feel very comfortable repping because I’ve always had this lifelong connection with books. I would pull books off the shelf and there were these amazing pictures: children’s picture books, illustrated story books… For me, very early on the idea of the book as an illustrated object, as a synthesis of text and images, was fixed in my head. I’m 42 now. I can remember bringing home pictures from kindergarten when I was four or five years old. Every kid is thrilled when their mother puts them on the refrigerator, but that was something that went on and on and on through elementary and middle and high school and really just never left me. Indy: But you didn’t want to study art in college? MK:I’m not sure that art school or an art degree would have really made me any happier than I am now. The nice thing about not having the weight of that BFA or MFA is that I don’t really have a lot of expectations one way or another; I haven’t been indoctrinated into any particular kind of representation. I’ve always had total freedom as someone who likes to draw to just do whatever it is I want. In a weird sort of way, that total freedom is what led me to tackling this immense project: I just basically wanted to create the illustrated version of Moby-Dick that I had always wanted to see, the way it always looks to me in my own head. And I set out to do it, and I did it. It sounds kind of simple and kind of pat, but that is it in a nutshell. I wanted to do it. I sat down. I did it, and I’m really proud of it. Indy: How closely were you able to stick to a schedule of one drawing a day? MK: I would like to say that I kept to that rigidly, but that got pretty elastic. On many days I would begin and complete one illustration. There were some days, especially on the weekend, when I would, if feeling especially inspired, complete two or three illustrations per day. That gave me the flexibility, especially near the end, to spend more time than I had on any particular day to finish a piece. So it was kind of an elastic timetable by the end, but the two things that matter are: I worked every day on art and I completed 552 illustrations in 543 days. Indy: So some pages were more of a challenge than others? MK: It was actually surprisingly difficult for maybe the first 100 pages or so. There’s an entire chapter just about chowder. Forcing yourself to create one illustration for every page means for that three page chapter on chowder, you have to find some creative and exciting way to visually represent chowder. There were some pages at the beginning where I found myself reading the page over and over again just looking for some access, something that provoked some kind of response in me. I look back at those pieces and they’re some of my favorites because they are so obtuse, and they forced me to really think about things in a very lateral way, a way that I might not have ever approached the novel or my art. I was grateful for the challenge but man, at the time, I was pulling my hair out. Indy: Why did you work chronologically instead of skipping around? MK: That was very important to me because I knew that with this project, I was going to be entering new artistic territory. I knew that I was going to be exploring all kinds of different media, and I also knew that I was going to be revisiting some of the same characters over and over again. I knew I was going to draw Ahab dozens of times and so it was very important to me to see how the art would evolve over the course of the novel. I knew that my first illustration of each character as they appeared were going to be important because they were going to set the tone, they were going to be that primal image from which every other image could spring. But I also knew that they would be the most loosely formed and the most basic. I wanted to see how my exploration of these characters visually would continue to evolve over the course of a novel the same way a plot evolves for a reader. It was really to visually parallel the way that a story unfolds for a reader. Indy: You mentioned before the new artistic territory this project took you to. What kinds of materials and techniques do you use for your illustrations? MK: Everything analog that I can get my

publishers, and inevitably nine of those ten are going to include either an actual historical photo or engraving from the days of American whaling. Perhaps even a modern painting or illustration, but one that is historically accurate:the ship will have the proper number of sails and masts, rigging will be accurate, and so on. I have nothing against that, but it kind of bores me a bit. So when it came time for me to begin really visualizing and creating on paper my version, this version I had always wanted to see, I started to think more about the ideas behind these things. For example, one of the things that has constantly astounded me about these whalers in the 1850s, 1840s: they were fairly young men and they would get on these boats and they would set sail and they would not set foot on familiar land again for three or four solid years. The only thing they would see would be the ocean, whales, and the men on the ship. That just astounded me because I could not even conceive of the absolute willpower and discipline that might take. It almost seemed inhuman to me, so when I first began, within the first ten pages I was called upon to depict some of these sailors and I couldn’t see them as really anything other than almost resembling the ship that they sailed on. If you look closely at many of the images of the sailors and the seamen, they are almost ship by shape. They are made of metal and wood and they have these sort of curved, prow-like bodies and heads, turreted heads and rivets all over their body. That was the way I saw it, the courage and the willpower of these men and what they were willing to do, going out into the middle of the ocean and basically stabbing to death monsters 70, 80, 90 feet long that could shatter them with one twitch of the tail. That was something I had never ever seen before. My sailors look almost like robotic ships, not at all like men. Indy: Why illustrate Moby-Dick in particular and not another epic novel? MK: It is absolutely my favorite book. It is the book that has meant the most to me and shaped my life the most. I’ve read it seven or eight times and every single time I read this book it’s this incredibly challenging read, but it’s so immensely rewarding. It seems to reveal not only more and more to me every time I read it, but it’s almost a completely new experience reading it each time. I have never found a book to be as giving and as rewarding and as endlessly fascinating as Moby-Dick is and I truly do feel that everything one would need to know about life and how to be human is contained somewhere in that book if you’re willing to look for it. TIMOTHY NASSAU B’12 stabs monsters to death.

Illustrating Moby-Dick
hands on. I like to use found paper—paper that I harvested from old books, things that were going to be discarded—because I kind of like the idea of giving it a second life in a way. In terms of media, prior to this Moby-Dick project, I was only using pen and ink or colored pencil. And so when I began this project, I wanted to give myself total freedom to use any media I wanted because I was curious about it, but I was also really intimidated. I had never painted anything. I don’t think I had used a paint brush since junior high. So I used everything from acrylic paint to ballpoint pens to nail polish, spray paint, crayons, colored pencils, pen and ink, collage, charcoal… there was nothing I wouldn’t use if it was on hand. Indy: Over the course of this project did you learn about other illustrated versions of the book? MK: I was actually aware of them before I even began the project because I had seen so many illustrated editions. I was always in awe of them, but what fascinates me about them is that the illustrations that I had seen were so vastly different from one another. You have these fairly realistic engravings by Rockwell Kent and then you have these incredibly abstractprints or sculptures that Frank Stella is doing. They’re like six feet by ten feet and they have three-dimensional elements but also print-making elements. It’s so abstract that had you not been told this was based on Moby-Dick you might almost miss that. Then there have been these comic adaptations. Bill Sienkiewicz did one. Walt Whitman has that line, “I am large, I contain multitudes,” and in a sense I think that that’s very true of Moby-Dick. It’s such a big book, such a giant book, that I truly feel there is room for all of these different interpretations, these different expressions of the novel. Indy: Did you ever refer to those works while doing your own illustrations? MK: I tried very hard to keep that from my mind. I didn’t look at any of them, I didn’t reference any of them other than at one time: there’s a piece I did which is a direct homage to a Rockwell Kent illustration that I was really taken with. But beyond that, I really wanted to keep it extremely personal and have it be my own vision. Indy: Does your version do anything the others don’t? MK: Historical accuracy is something that has been done in not only illustrated versions of the book, but illustrations surrounding the book. It’s not difficult to go to any bookstore and pick up ten random editions of Moby-Dick from ten different

All images by Matt Kish, published in Moby-Dick in Pictures: One Drawing for Every Page (Tin House Books)



17 NOVEMBER 2011

Three Tales of Student Debt by David Adler
Illustration by Becca Levinson

omes out to about $30,000,” she says with a sigh. “And it’s all on my shoulders.” Mali’o Kodis B’14 is among the 36 million student borrowers who look forward to a future of debt. So far, she has managed to navigate the maze of federal loans, scholarships, and university financial aid to make it through her first two years at Brown University. But sitting on the floor of her dorm room, she wonders what her future of debt will hold. “I have access to so many great things, but at what cost?” The current student loan process is three-tiered. First, there are grants, scholarships, and university financial aid packages that help to bring down the cost of education without piling debt on students. Next, students apply for federal loans, comprised of subsidized loans—for which the government will pay interest during the student’s education—and unsubsidized loans, for which they will not. However, the ceiling on federal loans for students is relatively low: federal loans cannot exceed $7,500 annually. So, students have look to the third option of private loans—which come with high interest rates and hidden fees—to fill out the rest of their tuition and costs of living. Upon graduation, students have an average of six months to begin repayment. On October 26, President Barack Obama announced new regulations for federally subsidized student loans. Under his new program, there are two differences: lenders can charge a graduate a maximum of 10 percent of his monthly income, down from 15; and federal debt will be forgiven after 20 years, down from 25.


The most obvious flaw in Obama’s program is that it addresses only a fraction of the debt of a minority of students. The plan will affect about five percent of student borrowers: it only deals with incomebased repayments (IBRs), failing to address plans where payments are based on a fixed number of dollars. The changes also leave untouched the $26,000 in private loans that the average student incurs, notwithstanding the federal loans addressed by Obama. In the face of these numbers, Obama’s plan appears to be nothing more than a Band-Aid; the wounds of student debt run far deeper than federal aid. THE UNDERGRADUATE Mali’o’s matriculation to Brown University required financial acrobatics. “There were state scholarships, national scholarships, financial aid from the university, federal loans.” Growing up in a low-income, single parent household in Hawaii with two older brothers, Mali’o often doubted that she could compete with wealthier applicants from across the nation. But after being accepted through Brown’s needblind admission process—in which the university admits American students without knowledge of their financial situation— she was determined to go there no matter the cost. “With that kind of opportunity, you don’t say, ‘Well, I can’t afford it, so I should just stay in-state.’” She worked closely with Brown’s Office of Financial Aid, dedicated to assisting her in her effort to pay Brown’s $54,370 annual fee. Yet even Mali’o, who has navigated the complex inner workings of Brown’s financial-aid process, has almost no un-

derstanding of how the whole operation works. “I think they plug me into some super computer,” she explains. The university financial aid system is opaque. Brown’s “Financial Aid Calculator” asks for “both the student's as well as parents' latest tax returns and information regarding savings, investments and other assets.” After students plug in these values, out pops an “estimate” (their words) of a financial aid package. Very little of the internal logic is set forward. This opacity has serious consequences. The apparent accessibility of Mali’o’s financial support masks the reality that awaits students upon graduation. Yet the solution is not obvious. On one hand, administrators have the responsibility to inform teenage students of the harsh realities of debt acquisition. On the other hand, doing so would run the risk of alienating a student population that they work hard to integrate into the social fabric of the university. Beneath the surface however, is a system that works against both Mali’o’s financial interests and those of her family. For students that do not receive very much financial support from their families, the algorithm employed by the university, in Mali’o’s words, “makes me want to make my parents poor.” By reducing her financial aid for every extra dollar her parents receive in income, the university actually creates a disincentive for Mali’o’s parents to take a promotion. The same goes for Mali’o’s personal capital. Her financial aid package is also contingent on the contents of her savings account, meaning that for every extra job

she takes to earn more money—presumably to accrue funds to help her pay back the debt she will face upon graduation— there is a commensurate decrease in financial aid. This is the paradox of Mali’o’s position: she is steeped in debt that she will need to repay, but unable to work towards repaying it, her earnings siphoned off by a shrinking financial aid package. THE MED STUDENT As an undergraduate, Jessica Kremen B’05 also put her faith in the University supercomputer, and bit her lip as she acquired debt throughout her four years at Brown. She is currently a student at Mount Sinai Medical School in New York City, where she is finishing her medical education. “Now, the thing I am looking forward to is my repayment plan,” she says. “That’s where the fun begins.” “Of course I cheered when I watched Obama on the television,” Jessica says. “No, his new policies won’t provide much support in terms of repaying my debt, but any relief is welcome.” Jessica highlights the positive side of the Obama program: he brought attention to the growing issue of student debt and started the government down a road of progress toward a reevaluation of student loans. Yet the Obama program should be considered in its political context as well. The announcement of the new program comes in the midst of the Occupy movement that has been projecting grievances about student debt over the loudspeaker. Melody Barnes, director of the Domestic Policy Council, reports that over 30,000 people signed a petition on the White House




website calling for change in the federal program of student aid. And with an election approaching, it makes sense that Obama is eager to appease the generation that fueled his success in 2008. Despite her optimism, Jessica is quick to note that the Obama program seems to miss the most salient problem of federal student loan policy in the United States. “The conventional wisdom is that we are all going to be physicians; we are all going to be employed.” But in the current economy, this conventional wisdom has come under attack. Many students struggle to find employment while continuing to make debt repayments. With such anxiety weighing on their shoulders, students are often compelled to seek career paths that will offer a way out of debt. “People want to be able to move on from their debt to begin building their lives: a car, a house, a family,” she says. As a result, many medical students are drawn toward “specialty fields” that pay well— plastic surgery, for example— instead of toward “primary care, which is lacking.” For Jessica, the tragedy of the American educational system lies in this inverted system of incentives. “It’s a sad thing. These loans are supposed to help you to choose your career; instead, they determine it for you.” THE LAWYER The week before Aaron Abramowtiz passed the Bar examination in 2010—before he even knew whether or not he would be licensed to practice law—he made his first repayment for his student debt. Over the course of three years at law

school, Aaron had accrued $200,000 in the red. Had he failed, Aaron would have had to wait another six months just for another opportunity to take the exam—all the while continuing to make debt repayments. But for Aaron, the uncertainty that accompanied his early career was merely the beginning his repayment woes. He originally took out loans from a non-profit that only deals with student loans, but in the financial crisis of 2008, his lender filed for bankruptcy, leaving his loans in limbo. They were then packaged and sold to a different lender, a student loan clearinghouse that had been stable enough not to go under in the subprime mortgage crisis. At the time, Aaron was trying to consolidate his nine loans into a single package that he could pay over a period of 30 years instead of 15, paying $1700 a month rather than $2700. When he received his consolidation statement, however, only seven of his nine loans showed up. “I guess somewhere in the process of application, two of my loans had been repurchased by a different lender.” So he spent another few weeks trying to apply for a consolidation program with his new loans under the different lender. “All in all, a process that is supposed to take 40 days took me over six and a half months.” The rollercoaster of Aaron’s consolidation process highlights the chaotic structure of the student loan system, in which students maintain almost no control over the fate of their repayment package once it’s written. This is the difference between the student and the graduate: once Aaron dropped the guiding hand

of university financial aid, he was forced to confront the dark reality: the owners of his debt were betting against him, not for him. “I am still looking at a lifetime of debt,” he says. “These student loans follow you until you die.” And it’s true: even in bankruptcy, private loans for education are non-dischargeable. “Whether they are federal or private, they are going to get their money.” When it comes to Obama’s program, Aaron is equally cynical. “Whenever there is student loan reform, it always comes down to a politician standing behind a program, saying ‘I gave back $500 million to students!’” For people like Aaron, mired in hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, these new policies not only fail to address their private loans, but also fail to make real progress in the area of federal loans. “The new program touches roughly a fifth of what I have to pay back.” Aaron’s plan is not one of the Income Based Repayments (IBR) that Obama’s plan addresses. “But even if I was on an IBR, Obama’s announcement merely would have changed what my maximum repayment would be for a month.” In other words, his total debt—the specter that follows until death— remains intact, dragged instead over a longer period of time. Like Jessica, Aaron has also witnessed the funneling effect of student debt. In law school, he watched as many of his peers turned away from careers in social justice and toward those in banking or other more lucrative pursuits. “Anyone going into social justice either comes from money or is willing to subsist as a poor working class lawyer,” he says. As a result, social

justice becomes the area of the elite. He acknowledges that there are certain programs in the public sector that offer full debt forgiveness after ten years of service, “but still, there is so little money in those jobs, and as much as I am pro-social justice, I would have to be making $40,000 a year in taxable income just to pay off my student loans.” THE COLLAPSE Earlier this month, the Federal Reserve reported that by the year 2015, students in America will have incurred over $1 trillion in outstanding private debt, exceeding the amount of credit card debt in the nation. With most of the Republican presidential field threatening to cut education out of the federal budget, the student debt crisis could become a permanent crater for this generation, much like entitlements have become for baby-boomers. The results could be crippling: an undereducated majority forgoing expensive schooling, a depleted public sector, and a system of education increasingly reserved for the rich. The current college-age generation of students will be forced to shoulder the burden of debt and wait until they collapse under its weight. DAVID ADLER B ‘14 believes in more than a Band-Aid.



17 NOVEMBER 2011

The Ambiguities of Doping in Professional Cycling
by Chris Cohen Illustration by Becca Levinson


n July 21 2010, drug testers at the Tour de France found trace amounts of the banned weightloss drug Clenbuterol in Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador’s blood. The result was not announced for more than a month, well after Contador wrapped up victory in the main classification of the race. The news was a scandal in the cycling world, as Contador is the most talented cyclist of his generation: he has won the threeweek Tour de France three times, and dominated manysmaller races. At 28, still in his prime by cycling standards, Contador seemed poised to become one of the sport’s greatest riders before the positive test. The case against Contador seemed to be straightforward at first. He explained the presence of clenbuterol in his blood by advancing what has been called the “tainted meat defense”—he claims that a friend brought him a Spanish steak contaminated with the drug for dinner on a rest day. To some fans, this echoed American cyclist Floyd Landis’s denials after a positive test in the 2006 Tour, and his half-joking suggestion that he tested positive from drinking Jack Daniels. (Landis has since admitted to doping, and accused many other American cyclists of his generation, including Lance Armstrong, of similar violations.) The letter of the law is unfavorable to Contador: national federations, which carry out the first round of a hearing, are instructed to decide doping cases based on the principle of “strict liability,” which presumes guilt in the event of a positive test. It is up to the athlete to establish his or her innocence in the event of any positive test. In cycling and in other sports, athletes who unknowingly ingest banned substances, including those which provide no performance benefit, are routinely punished with suspensions and bans. However, the Contador case has not played out according to the strict letter of the law. The Spanish national cycling federation—a governing body with a fairly obvious conflict of interest—found Contador innocent of all wrongdoing in his first hearing, and cleared him to compete immediately. Contador raced a full season this past summer, winning the Giro

d’Italia, the three-week-long tour of Italy, possibly the second most prestigious race in the sport. The case did not go away, however: the international Court of Arbitration in Sport (CAS) has agreed to hear an appeal of the Spanish federation’s decision, and will finally hear arguments the week of November 21 in a case that may rewrite recent cycling history, or challenge the absolute authority of the positive test. Cycling and doping share a long history together. Some of the first competitive events, at the end of the 19th century, were “six-day” races, where riders would complete as many laps of an indoor track as possible over six days, with as little time for rest as they could manage. These events fostered a culture of drug use: the riders would fortify themselves with brandy or primitive stimulants in order to keep their legs turning for days at a time. Though these sorts of races were eventually banned as inhumane, both the difficulty and the drugs remained a part of the sport. Dr. Mark Greve, Brown Medical School professor and the medical director for an American professional cycling team, suggested in an interview with the Independent that the brutality of the sport might have contributed to its history with doping.“Professional marathoners might run six events in a year,” he points out, while “pro cyclists ride 80 or 90 race days. It’s a part of the sport to test the limits of human endurance.” In light of this tendency, he suggests, athletes might be tempted to push the limits in other ways. Before the 1990s, doping cyclists were limited to stimulants and anesthetics of dubious performance value. In 1989, the release of Epogen, or EPO, changed the character of doping. The drug, developed to combat anemia in patients with kidney failure and cancer, increases the body’s capacity to carry oxygen through the bloodstream, allowing fatigued muscles to work harder. There was originally no test for the drug. Dr. Greve explained, “There are all kinds of stories about the shit people were doing back then. Taking an extremely dangerous blood thinner, [for example] to counteract the EPO, with

no clinical baseline.”Riders’ blood would apparently get so thick that they would have to ride a session on a stationary bike in the middle of the night to ensure their blood circulated properly. Races saw a dramatic increase in speed after the introduction of the drug. Doping continues to be an important issue in cycling: a federal grand jury is currently assessing the case against Lance Armstrong for doping during his recordbreaking Tour de France run, and the Italian cyclist Riccardo Ricco nearly died this season when he re-injected his own blood, which had become contaminated after sitting in his refrigerator. Sponsors are reluctant to associate themselves with a team that could implode in controversy, yet Dr. Greve’s research has indicated that there is doping at all levels of the sport, amateur and pro. There is the sense, however, that cycling is cleaning up its act. Dr. Greve agrees: “I can’t say that cycling is the cleanest sport in the world,” he says, “but it’s definitely not the dirtiest, and we certainly know more about the problem than any other sport.” Year round random testing is the norm, and the top finishers of virtually every race have their hair, blood, and urine checked. Individual teams have begun their own independent testing. These advances seem to be reflected in the reality on the road: speeds up the well known mountains of the Tour de France are decreasing, in spite of advances in bike and training technology.

In light of this history, the Contador case seems even stranger. There would be little question of his guilt if he had tested positive for EPO, or a bag of his blood were discovered in the refrigerator of an unscrupulous doctor. Clenbuterol, through, is a weight loss drug. It is hard to imagine the advantage of taking a weight-loss drug in the middle of a grueling three week race like the Tour de France: riders generally have to force themselves to constantly eat in order to replace the calories they are burning. When asked if it made sense for a rider to use Clenbuterol in Contador’s situation, Dr. Greve was emphatic: “No.

No way. Before a race, yeah, maybe. But, based on the drug, and how little there was, I knew this was going to be a fiasco from the moment the story broke.” There may, in the end, be something to the tainted meat defense. Clenbuterol is in widespread use by unscrupulous meat producers, who administer it to livestock to produce leaner meat, particularly in China and developing countries. Several Mexican soccer players had their cases dismissed by the World Anti-Doping Agency under the assumption that their positives were caused by tainted meat. Spanish cattle ranchers have suggested that unscrupulous links in the meat supply chain could have introduced clenbuterolenhanced beef. It seems possible that Contador is telling the truth. Contador, however, has been unable to show that the positive test undoubtedly resulted from eating the steak, and according to the principle of strict liability, it is up to him and his lawyers to convincingly prove that the Clenbuterol could not have come from anywhere else, an effectively impossible task. The Court of Arbitration for Sport, which is handling Contador’s appeal, may be open to challenges to the prevailing doctrine of strict liability. As the law stands, though, Contador could well be stripped of his 2010 Tour de France and 2011 Giro d’Italia titles, and be banned from the sport for up to two years. Drug testing in cycling is supposed to ensure a fair contest by identifying the cheaters, but sometimes the reality is more complicated. As Dr. Greve points out, “People want there to be heroes and villains. Sometimes there really is clear black, and clear white, but in between, there are many, many shades of grey.” CHRIS COHEN B’12 blames the Evan Williams.




by Joanna Zhang and Ashton Strait

Marie Curie
Sure, we all know Marie Curie as the token female scientist (aside, of course, from Rosalind Franklin, who assisted James Watson and Francis Crick, the discoverers of the double-helix model of DNA). Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the only woman to win two, and the only person to win in more than one category (Physics and Chemistry). Sure, Marie Curie was a cool lady, but she was also a badass. Childhood was a struggle for Marie and her siblings, who grew up in a poor Warsaw family. While working as a governess to support her sister’s medical studies, she fell in love with the son of the family, Kazimier Zorawski, who would later become a preeminent mathematician. But his parents disapproved of the relationship did not want to see their future preeminent mathematician son to marry a working class girl. In the late 1880s she tutored and studied at the “Flying University” a secret underground school started in 1885 in Poland for women who wanted to take collegelevel courses but could not afford to go abroad for their studies. At 24, after six years of self-study, she moved to Paris and enrolled in the Sorbonne. She would later meet the physicist Pierre Curie during her graduate studies, and the rest, as they say, is history. While studying the properties of radiation and its atomic origins, Curie discovered polonium and radium, which netted her a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903. She shared the honor with her husband-cum-research partner, Pierre, and prominent physicist, Henri Becquerel. By the time she won her first Nobel, Curie had been working with radium for years. At the turn of the century, the effects of radiation were not well understood. In fact, the prevailing thought of the era—a belief Curie held herself—was that radium had therapeutic properties. Poisonous radon gas was even used to treat wounded soldiers in the field during WWI. In pursuing their investigation of radium, the Curies ignored increasingly deleterious effects on their health. During the course of her research she lost a great deal of weight, struggled with bouts of depression, and suffered ulcers on her skin beneath the pockets where she carried vials of radioactive salts. Her fingertips were also permanently scarred and pained from touching and carrying radioactive samples. Estimates place her exposure to the harmful gamma rays emitted by radioactive elements at about 1 rem (the designated unit of radiation) per week. Today, exposure to .03 rem or greater is considered hazardous. Indeed, Curie’s entire lab was shockingly contaminated—enough to turn all her glassware purple from the exposure to radium. Even today, her papers and research materials are still radioactive and stored in lead boxes. If you want to see them firsthand, be prepared to suit up in radiation-proof gear. Curie also kept vials of radium salts by her bed and in her desk drawers because she enjoyed the blue light they gave off. Nevertheless, she soldiered on in the face of increasing illness, winning yet another Nobel in 1911 for the advances her radiation work had made in the field of chemistry. When Pierre died in a carriage accident, she was devastated at the loss of her partner in both research and life. But she wasn’t on the market long before becoming involved with with one of Pierre’s former students, physicist Paul Langevin. And the genius also didn’t end with her. Marie’s daughter with Pierre, Irène, went on to win Nobel prizes with her husband—also for work studying radioactivity. Curie died in 1934 at the age of 67 due to aplastic anemia, a complication brought about by years of exposure to gamma radiation. She discovered nuclear radiation while it was an infant scientific phenomenon, and laid the groundwork for the advances in nuclear energy that would shape the decades following her death. -AS + JZ

Tycho Brahe
A lot can be said of a man’s character by his facial hair. With a handlebar mustache worthy of the most whimsical of bicycles, Tycho Brahe is one of these men. Born to Danish nobility in the 1500s, he was raised by a childless uncle and aunt—also of nobility (it’s possible that he was kidnapped at birth). Initially pushed to study law at the University of Copenhagen at the age of 12, Brahe instead became interested in astronomy. He identified the need for better data on celestial bodies—all of the charts and measurements at the time differed wildly, and there was no standard for data. He then devoted most of his adult life to carefully and systemically observing and recording celestial bodies using the highest quality instruments available at the time (which did not include telescopes). He pioneered this rigorous collection of data of the stars and planets over time, and intended to use the data to prove his model of the universe, a geocentric model that fused Copernican and Ptomelaic ideas. And aside from the disproved geocentric part, the Tychoic system incorporated a lot of accurate information on planetary motion. Tycho built his dream observatory, Uraniborg, in the 1570s, and over the course of 21 years some 100 students and artisans worked there. The observatory and research center, clothed in an extravagant palace facade, featured rooms of for giant instruments, a paper mill and printing press, an alchemist’s furnace, a mural of himself, and a detention facility for anyone who caused problems (Tycho was somewhat notorious for treating his workers poorly). Alongside his devotion to his scientific pursuits and ambitions, Tycho played hard—regularly throwing parties at his castle. He also kept a jester—a dwarf by the name of Jepp—who sat beneath the dinner table during meals. Brahe believed Jepp had extra-sensory capabilities and was clairvoyant. Tycho also had a domesticated elk, who met an untimely end during a visit to one of Tycho’s nobleman friends.The elk died from injuries sustained after lapping up a good deal of fermented beverage and subsequently falling down the stairs. The precursor to modern “grills,” Tycho sported a nose made of the finest metals (silver and gold) as well as having different “day” noses for more casual wear (made of copper, which would be lighter than a denser, heavier gold one). He lost part of his biological nose in a duel with another Danish nobleman. Days after attending a banquet, Tycho died suddenly—according to his assistant Johannes Kepler, he had been holding off to use the bathroom because he didn’t want to be rude and leave the table. Kepler, who later made a name for himself in astronomy, used Brahe’s data to develop his own theories of planetary motion. Contemporary doctors said he died from a kidney stone, but recent medical assessments determined mercury poison may have been the culprit, after scientists found dangerously high levels of mercury (where else?) but in the recovered hairs of his mustache. -JZ

Eric Pianka
In 1952, Eric Pianka was a curious 13-year-old exploring the mountainous border between California and Oregon. The Pianka home was near an army base, and after military trainings Eric and his brother would collect leftover shrapnel and shell casings. One day, the two came upon an intact bazooka shell. When they brought it home to his front yard, Eric dropped it, and the explosion left him seriously injured. His leg wound became gangrenous, and he was left with a partially paralyzed, shorter left leg. Pianka was bedridden, and a teacher visited him daily at home to go over English and typing. In high school, in another early assertion of his badassery, Pianka became a lifetime member of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, a society dedicated to the study of fish, reptile and amphibian scientists. And he hasn’t looked back—he has since devoted his life to the study of evolutionary biology and ecology and (literally) written the textbook (the classic, Evolutionary Ecology). Despite his partially paralyzed and seriously injured left leg, Pianka went on to travel and conduct intensive field research in vertebrate ecology—hiking harsh environments and deserts on three continents—in the Great Basin, Mojave, and Sonora in North America; the Kalahari in Africa; and the Great Victoria in Australia. Currently, Pianka is studying lizard communities in Australia and has produced over 100 scientific publications. In 2006, after a speech accepting the Distinguished Texas Scientist Award, Pianka became the focus of some media attention. He reasoned, “In addition to our extremely high population density, we are social and mobile, exactly the conditions that favor growth and spread of pathogenic (disease-causing) microbes. I believe it is only a matter of time until microbes once again assert control over our population, since we are unwilling to control it ourselves.” Amateur scientist and creationist Forrest Mims interpreted this as “endors[ing] the elimination of 90 percent of the human population through a disease such as an airborne strain of the Ebola virus.” But Pianka clarified his opinion in an essay on his faculty website: “I do not bear any ill will toward people. However, I am convinced that the world, including all humanity, would clearly be much better off without so many of us. What nobody wants to hear, but everyone needs to know.” Spoken like a true badass. -JZ



17 NOVEMBER 2011

Imagine a leopard print silk skirt with a lagoon at sunset stamped across the crotch. Pair with tropical beachscape bomber jacket and banana leaf print leggings. And all this for just under $100. For those on a budget with a predilection for lavishness, Versace’s collection for H&M is wish fulfillment at its finest. The designer Donatella Versace will launch womenswear, menswear and homeware lines for H&M starting November 17. Versace lines have always been characterized by short, tight, and sequined designs—and, according to the Daily Beast, originally inspired by Italian hookers. Founded in 1978 by Donatella’s brother Gianni Versace, the brand combined the expert artistry of haute couture with a nightclub sensibility. The brand’s lurid patterned prints and midriff-baring ensembles epitomized the salad days of the late 80s supermodel era. Verging on vulgar, Gianni made tackiness almost enviable. Unlike other Italian megabrands Armani or Valentino, Versace is the antithesis of understated elegance. Versace’s flamboyant, taste-be-damned gaudiness was saved only by the use of luxe materials and a high price point. But now that the garments are more affordable, luxury is an empty signifier. If tacky plus expensive equals high fashion, then tacky and cheap is just tacky. Restraint, however, was never the goal. “Versace is about sex, about looking hot, and about rock ‘n’ roll,” Love Magazine editor Katie Grand told The Guardian in June. “Wearing Versace is about not being afraid to let a dress say quite a lot about you. It's not for wallflowers.” The H&M collection is an homage to the tigerish sex appeal of Gianni’s iconic creations, featuring offshoots and revivals of Gianni’s greatest hits. There is even a black dress with gold hardware harking back to the label’s safety-pin gown made infamous by Elizabeth Hurley in 1994. Some items border on caricature or kitsch. (Think baroque gold detailing, beaded fringe, and body-conscious dresses in shiny, garish colors.) Menswear is just as sensational as its feminine counterpart, notably including a fuchsia suit with matching pants and shoes, gold studded black leather trousers, and second-skin shirts emblazoned with palm trees and blue skies. Versace’s “Iconic Collection” is one of H&M’s most anticipated high-end/ mass-market marriages. The retailer has been collaborating with big-name designers since 2004, starting with Karl Lagerfeld, and later partnering with contemporary designers like Stella McCartney and haute couture houses like Viktor & Rolf and Lanvin. “There’s been a lot of minimalism [in fashion] that I felt we should do something a little more crazy, maximalist,” H&M Creative Advisor Margareta van den Bosch told “Versace is one of the most important brands of recent times, and their collection for H&M will be glamorous and flamboyant—everything Versace stands for.” Donatella had initially refused to jump on the designer-discount bandwagon when approached by the chain in 2008, explaining to New York Magazine, “I work very hard to put the Versace line in the luxury section. I think to put the Versace line in H&M would confuse the brand.” Allegedly, after seeing the success of the Lanvin and Jimmy Choo collaborations with H&M, even Donatella could not ignore the appeal of mass-market success. “Young people like to dress up and look cool…I know this customer. I know what they want,” Donatella told the Associated Press,“They follow music, fashion. For the new generation, it’s all pop culture.” Donatella knows what her customer wants: easy, fun, and cheap—Snooki.

OVER THE RIVER by Emma Janaskie
For the past twenty-something years, installation artists Christo, and his late wife, Jeanne-Claude have been wrapping and draping the world in cloth: they’ve pitched over 7,000 fabric panels throughout Central Park, wrapped the German Reichstag in swaths of white fabric, and cloaked 2.7 miles worth of park walkways in Kansas City, Missouri with saffron sheets. Before Jeanne-Claude’s death in 2009, the artisitc duo were conceptualizing their next project, Over the River. On November 7, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management gave Christo the green light to finally make the project a reality. For the past several decades, Christo and Jeanne-Claude petitioned parliaments, confronted local activist groups, and contested land grant permits while garnering an avidly dedicated public that supports their large-scale installation pieces. Similarly, after years of politicking and perseverance, Christo finally solidified the project: he will make use of the $50 million raised to suspend silvery cloth from panels installed at eight specific areas along a 42-mile stretch of the Arkansas River for two weeks. But, as Christo has come to realize, with great ambition often comes great resistance, and Over the River is no exception. The installation has sparked intense debate among federal officials and environmentalists alike overbalancing the project’s possibly deleterious effects on the river’s ecosystem and surrounding cities’ traffic infrastructure with its potentially lucrative windfall. To be precise, those in favor of the installation point to the possible $121 million in economic output the installation will facilitate by drawing tourists to the river (Christo noted that he envisions tourists rafting underneath or driving alongside the installation). Members of local groups like ROAR (Rages Over Arkansas River) beg to differ: they argue that the project will permanently harm the fishing industry, prevent local bighorn sheep from accessing vital water reservoirs, and instigate traffic problems. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar explained his decision to support the installation, arguing that “drawing visitors to Colorado to see this work will support jobs in the tourism industry… We believe that steps have been taken to mitigate the environmental effects of this one-of-a-kind project.” Fortunately for ROAR and other environmental advocacy groups, Christo’s project will not proceed unmonitored. In fact, the Bureau of Land Management only offered its final stamp of approval when Christo agreed to over 100 measures to mitigate any kind of incidental impact the installation might have on the river’s environment and its surrounding towns. But this protracted politicking doesn’t bother Christo. In fact, he often considers the negotiation process involved in their work as part of the artwork itself. “Every artist in the world likes his or her work to make people think. Imagine how many people were thinking, how many professionals were thinking and writing in preparing that environmental impact statement,” Christo noted after the final decision was released. And certainly, Over the River got people talking: the federal environment impact statement for the project drew over 4,500 comments and has rallied hundreds more on both sides of the conflict (and apparently, directed national attention to sheep activism).Though the project must still seek approval from the Colorado Department of Transportation and the State Patrol, it seems that Christo will patiently plod through the red tape to see that Over the River meets its opening deadline of August 2014.


t first glance, the minimal aesthetic and grey palette of ATLAS, the latest exhibition at the Granoff’s Cohen Gallery, is almost indiscernible from the gallery space itself. The overt spectacle of past Cohen Gallery exhibitions’ is markedly absent. Yet as totemic plaster cubes rise from the concrete as a genderless voice eerily drones from a video projection, something perceptible comes into focus. The space is neither empty nor full; it is instead situated in an amorphous and aesthetically neutral space.

RK Projects at the Cohen Gallery by Ana Alvarez
The exhibition is the latest undertaking from RK Projects, a Providence-based self-described “experimental exhibition platform” that specializes in bringing greater visibility to local artist through ephemeral, DIY shows. The group consist of duo Tabitha Piseno and Sam Keller, the curatorial and conceptual head and the engineering and installation expert, respectively. Together, the two 2009 RISD alums decided to stay in Providence postgraduation to fortify the budding, yet at times locally neglected, Providence art scene. Their ideology is centered on using exhibitions as platforms for social engagement by locating their projects in abandoned industrial properties around Providence. Through this they hope to both bring a reviving awareness to these forgotten sites and to create an alternative community in which to feature local, sitespecific works that avoids commercialization. The art they feature is often performance based, making it as ephemeral and experimental as the sites where the exhibitions are produced. When the Granoff committee invited RK to propose a Project for the Cohen Gallery, Piseno and Keller chose to work with local performance artist and prolific “laptop pop” musician Xavier Valentine—perhaps better known X.V., the ever friendly and chic store clerk of Providence vintage haven Foreign Affair. One year later, ATLAS has emerged as a collaboration between X.V.’s aesthetics and RK’s curatorial drive, using the Granoff’s architecture as its muse. (continued on the following page)




Dissonant Artist Investigated (again)


by Ana Alvarez
It is Ai’s films and blog posts, exposing the Chinese government’s continued unjust detention of political dissidents, that have gained him notoriety and catapulted him to national celebrity in China. In 2008, Ai blogged about the case of Yang Jia, a Shanghai resident who was executed for the murder of six Shanghai police men who beat and arrested him for using an unlicensed bicycle. Additionally, Ai’s 2009 documentary on activist lawyer Fend Zhenghu’s three-month detention in Tokyo’s airport also caused a stir with Chinese officials. All of his political provocations came to a climax last April when the artist was inexplicably arrested and detained for 81 days in an undisclosed location. Authorities also detained his wife and assistants. While the Chinese government claimed that Ai’s detention, and the subsequent raid of his studio, was part of a tax evasion investigation, the artist claimed that questioning never mentioned his financial activity and instead focused on his activist work. Months after his eventual release in June 2011, Ai described that during his detention, he was held in a small room under the constant surveillance of two guards. “It is designed as a kind of mental torture, and it works well,” Ai told the New York Times. Following his arrest in April, international human rights groups and art institutions around the world called for Ai’s release. The contemporary art world rallied around Ai’s cause—petitions, museum-organized protests, and even a “Free Ai WeiWei” street art campaign ensued. Once discharged, Ai, who was banned from giving interviews, remained silent and stayed in Beijing under the terms of his release. He broke his silence in August through his preferred medium of expressing political dissent—Twitter. Ai spoke out against the ongoing detention of his colleagues, many who, like Ai, use social networking sites and blogs to express their discontent with Chinese censorship and control. When Ai tweeted about the continued detention of fellow blogger Ran Yunfei, the writer was released within hours. “If I don’t speak out for them,” Ai explained in an interview with the Times, “this is not possible, even though it may bring damage to my condition.” The tax evasion charges thrown on Ai in the past weeks show that he rightly foresaw trouble with the Chinese government through his continued broadcasts against the detention of dissident citizens. What was not anticipated was the overflowing of positive financial support from Ai’s followers. Without prompting from the artist, Chinese supporters have donated over a million dollars to the Ai WeiWei cause in an act of solidarity against state oppression. “People started to release their anger [by] sending their money in. They just send their money as a voting ticket,” Ai told NPR last week. Ai accepted the donations, pointedly describing them as loans that he plans to repay in full. In partial compliance with the charges raised, last Tuesday Ai deposited $1.3 million into a government bank account. Ai feared that if he did not pay, his wife Lu Qing, who is the legal representative of Ai’s design company under investigation, would be arrested. Ai said that this pay-

i WeiWei, prominent Chinese contemporary artist, clamorous political dissident, and recently-released government prisoner was charged again last week for tax evasion. He was slapped with a 2.4 million dollar (USDS) tax bill and given 2 weeks to pay, this period ending Tuesday, November 15th. The charge come after Mr. Ai was detained last April for three months under the pretext of investigating his taxes. However, Ai has stated that along with previous arrest, this most recent tax bill, which far surpasses the $700,000 investigators originally cited, is the next attempt from the Chinese government to silence one of its most outspoken subversives. Ai comes from a well-established legacy of political dissent. He is the son of China’s most renowned modern poet, Ai Qing, who was sent to a labor camp along with Ai’s mother in 1958 during China’s Anti-Rightist Movement when Ai was only one year old. Today, Ai is perhaps best known for his internationally acclaimed architectural feat, Bird’s Nest, which served as the stadium for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. Even though he was strongly critical of the Olympic ceremonies, his gripping architectural design catapulted him into starstatus within the contemporary art world. Most recently, Ai opened an exhibition Ai WeiWei Absent at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum in Taiwan on November 1,one day after he was charged and fined. Ai publically apologized from being absent from the shows opening—after his release from detainment this past June he has not been allowed to leave Beijing.

ment does not signal defeat or concession to the unjust charges; he will use this initial payment as a guarantee of his continuing refutation of the government’s unfair treatment, and as a preemptive measure to avoid further trouble with the law for his family and assistants. “If you don’t do it this way, they might send you to the public security, then the public security organ can use some other procedure, under the charge of refusing to pay taxes, to do what, I don’t know,” Ai said. “Of course, this would have been very unsafe for a lot of people.” It is still unclear how the Chinese government will reply to Ai’s initial payment and whether a hearing into the legality of the tax evasion charges will occur. Yet what this situation has shown to Ai is the hopeful promise of solidarity within China. “I feel that this is the beginning of civil society in China,” he said. “Young people have their own knowledge and don’t believe state media or the government’s accusations against me. This shows people care. They don’t only care, but they take action.” ANA ALVAREZ B’13 is on her Ai game.

As the show’s curatorial statement attests, exhibiting at the Granoff was a central consideration of the show. RK Projects is, after all, primarily conceptualized as a platform for projects that want to break from the institutionalized gallery setting, so exhibiting at Brown University, a blatant institution, became an obvious point of deliberation. As Piseno explained in an interview with the Independent, it was less about “coming to terms with” exhibiting within an institution. Instead, RK and X.V. took the Granoff and “utilized the space of the building, the architecture of the building as a point from which to address site specificity.” This is an exceptional quality found in most RK Project shows—their lack of a predetermined gallery space gives each project a site-unique attribute. In ATLAS this is revealed through X.V.’s use of Granoff’s architectural quips as inspirations. As X.V. explained in an interview with the Independent, the extended preparation of the show, which spanned a whole year, focused on how he and RK could “address the inherent beauty of the architecture of the building while simultaneously referencing [their] own points.” X.V. retells first visiting the Granoff and instantly conceptualizing what are now the monolithic gradient mural and plaster cast totems that line the gallery space. The black-to-white gradient of the mural, which is represented in consecutive vertical beams on the back wall of the gallery, is a response to the jagged, pleated metal sides of the Granoff. Similarly, the plaster totems are also died in black-to-white gradients and are placed throughout the gallery in varying sizes, from a one-foot totem that could easily be tripped on, to a six-foot totem that precariously dominates the otherwise unoccupied gallery space. X.V. went on to explain that the works were conceptually framed around an attempt to physically embody Roland Bart’s 1970s lectures on neutrality. Bart’s notion of neutrality pointed towards a deconstruction of binaries; the neutral ground was seen a space where these constructed divisions could cease and truer forms of understanding could arise. The exhibition’s curatorial statement further explains this analogy; in the works, neutrality serves “as a vantage point from which to reconsider the suspension between two polar opposites as something more momentous then often assumed.” This notion of suspension above neutral ground leads to the second unifying concept of the show—that of the precipice. In this light, the at once seemingly placid, neutral space is charged with possibility; the works are no longer neutrally secure, but are at risk of plummeting over the edge, into an adversary existence. Snap This Quiet Snap, a digital print and installation featured in the show, perhaps best elucidates this quivering divide. In the piece a minimally designed black and white digital print seemingly hangs from the wall by a single thread. “It was ideal I think the way that the print is hung to kind of emphasize the verticality of the space as well but [also] the idea of it being about to fall,” X.V. explains. “Everything to me looks like its on the brink of being something else—the gradient is always on the brink of becoming the next color and the pillars are always on the brink of falling to the ground.” Below the digital print there is a spotlighted stand with various rocks surrounding the exhibition catalog, which was designed by RISD artists Dan Brewster. Such a prominent emphasis of the exhibition catalog as part of the art piece Snap This Quiet Snap was an engaging choice. The catalog’s yellow cover is the only object in the space to break with the strongly imposed black-and-white-only design of the exhibition. It also suggests that perhaps the real “work of art” is not so much what is present in the neutral space, but its continuation outside the gallery setting, once it falls off the precipice and into the combatant world. The videos, which are displayed on the wall opposite of Snap This Quiet Snap, present a collection of found footage that continue to engage with these notions of neutrality and the precipice. Motion of Gilded Moments presents a “digital seascape in perpetual motion.” Each minute of the video shows one hour of real time of what appears to be the horizon on an ocean shore. As the video progresses, a human figure hangs suspended from the landscape, continuously on he verge of leaping, facing a neutral abyss. While many might find ATLAS too dependent on its minimal aesthetic to be engaging, and too laden with theory to be accessible, it’s less the work and more the possibility of an exhibition like this that makes it both engaging and accessible. This is an arresting example of collaboration though several layers—collaboration between an artist and his curators, between the architectural design of a building and the work displayed in it, between an institution and the community it lives in. ANA ALVAREZ B’13 is on the precipice.



17 NOVEMBER 2011

by Nick Catoni Illustration by Annika Finne

I eat bark and drink piss. But when I sit down for a meal, it resembles croutons and diet soda. I’ve had a lot of ideas in my days. I know that shoes don’t float. And people ask me a lot of questions. Are you capable of smiling? Well I don’t know, are you capable of frowning? The other day instead of bark and piss, I ate all the cotton candy they had. I reached that point where there’s so much sweetness you want to throw up and I didn’t stop. The vomit looked better this time. More functional, as if I could dry it out a bit and reshape it into fluffy sugar puffs. Or at least scoop it up and feed it to the neighbor kid. That kid never stops dancing around with his ice cream. The chocolate drops cover the sidewalk and I know that’s why girls never call me back. What kind of girl dates a guy who has a sidewalk in front of his house stained with chocolate ice cream? It doesn’t say much about my cleanliness. Or my character. I’m sure they think everything in my life is stained with chocolate ice cream: my ceiling, my robe, my furnace. She’d come over, go to wash her hands, and chocolate ice cream would pour out instead of water. I’d go to grab a towel to help but it’d be covered in chocolate ice cream. Then she’d go to leave but she’d slip, fall, and crack her skull open. All because that damn kid dropped chocolate ice cream all over my floor. So after cleaning up the girl’s body and all the chocolate ice cream, I decided to go say hello to the kid. Shake his hand. Ask him if he’d stop dripping his chocolate ice cream all over my sidewalk. I’d tell him that I wanted to live my life free of chocolate ice cream because a girl I loved once died slipping on it. He’d have to understand.

I walked over to the neighbor kid’s house with a carton of cigarettes and a box of cereal. I figured I’d introduce myself with a gift. I’d only watched the kid from my house for the past year since moving in. One piece of bark lasts a long time and the human body makes its own piss. I never have to leave. When the kid answered the door, I asked him to please stop dripping his chocolate ice cream all over my sidewalk. I made sure to mention the girl. With a forced smile on my face, I waited for a response but he only stood there, licking away at his chocolate ice cream as it dripped down his hands, onto the doorstep and his bare feet. Dissatisfied and becoming enraged, I refused to leave my gift of cigarettes and cereal. The next time I saw the kid, I ran out and grabbed him. I brought him into my house and strapped him into a chair. I put two hooks in his mouth, one around his upper jaw and one around his lower. These were attached to a pulley system so I could wrench up and down until his mouth stayed open. I told him I didn’t like his chocolate ice cream on my sidewalk. Then I began eating cotton candy again until that point where there’s so much sweetness you want to throw up and I didn’t stop. I threw up into the kid’s mouth until he choked to death. Afterwards, I cleaned up the kid’s body and the cotton candy vomit. Not a minute later I received a call from a girl. I picked up for dinner and I suggested croutons and diet soda. She loved it. Then she asked if we could get dessert. I told her we could get anything she wanted. She said she’d been craving chocolate ice cream all day. It didn’t take much vomit to get rid of her, but I’m starting to get sick of cotton candy.

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