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development studies for limousine liberals
but mostly dicks
Editor-in-Chief Sam Knowles Managing Editor of Features Charles Pletcher Managing Editor of Arts & Culture Clayton Aldern Managing Editor of Lifestyle Jane Brendlinger Features Editor Zoë Hoffman Arts & Culture Editors Anita Badejo Ben Resnik Lifestyle Editors Jen Harlan Alexa Trearchis Pencil Pusher Phil Lai Chief Layout Editor Clara Beyer Copy Chiefs Kristina Petersen Kathy Nguyen Copy Editors Lucas Huh Caroline Bologna Blake Cecil Chris Anderson Claire Luchette Staff Writers Lily Goodspeed Ben Wofford Ethan Beal-Brown Staff Illustrators Madeleine Denman Marissa Ilardi Kirby Lowenstein Sheila Sitaram Caroline Washburn Adela Wu Kah Yangni
writing on the walls mintaka angell
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR Everyone’s talking about it, so we probably should, too—here at Post-, we try to stay fashionable. (You should see Anita’s shoes!) The Spring Weekend line-up is out: What Cheer? Brigade, Sepalcure, Childish Gambino,Twin Shadow, Cam’ron, and The Glitch Mob. We’re also getting Cam’ron. And The Glitch Mob. I don’t remember if I mentioned that part. As John Krasinski trumpeted to a packed Salomon 101 that fateful day in November, “Get your Twitter out!” If you’ve got beef, you’ll have plenty of time to voice it. Bring your complaints (or your lovin’) straight to the source: There will be a BCA booth on the Main Green today. Bring flowers. Bring tomatoes. Bring whatever makes you happy. On the Post- side of the world, page ahead to tales of heroics and woe. We interview Thought Catalog writer and editor Ryan O’Connell, shop with the drunchies, and delve into the depths of bathroom graffiti. We even spell Christina Paxson’s name correctly. But the subtext is all about Spring Weekend. We know it’s all you care about. It’s all we care about, too. And to think I was going to devote this note to some leftover thoughts on airports. In cooperation,
3 upfront 4 feature
paxsonomics marshall katheder
angry men anita badejo wet, hot, and weird lily goodspeed
5 arts & culture
arts 6interview& culture an with ryan o’connell
cleaning out aisle three remy robert flight club phil lai
sexicon MM emily post- emily postbad sex beej
cover // phil lai writing on the walls // sheila sitaram found in translation // caroline washburn angry men // adela wu wet, hot, and weird // madeleine denman cleaning out aisle three // phil lai qwerty // phil lai
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Post- Magazine is published every Thursday in the Brown Daily Herald. It covers books, theater, music, film, food, art, and University culture around College Hill. Post- editors can be contacted at post. email@example.com. Letters are always welcome, and can be either e-mailed or sent to Post- Magazine, 195 Angell Street, Providence, RI 02906. We claim the right to edit letters for style, clarity, and length.
FOUR HOURS TO SPRING BREAK Fri 1:20PM
THREE HOURS TO SPRING BREAK Fri 2:20PM
TWO HOURS TO SPRING BREAK Fri 3:20PM
ONE HOUR TO SPRING BREAK Fri 4:20PM
SPRING BREAK!!!!!!!!!! peace out, bitches
TOP TEN Ways We Wish the BC A Had Announced the Spr ing Weekend Lineup
THURSDAY, MARCH 22ND, 2012
1 2 3 4 5
Elephants. Rename the Blue Room muffins. Another, smaller concer t.
6 7 8
CRIME ALERT—CONCERT LINEUP
State of Brown address.
Mor ning Mail! ... oh, awkward.
film is tv is
is r acist.”
wonder ing how we’re supposed to feel about The Hunger Games. (Answer : SO FREAKING EXCITED)
Writing on the Walls
mintaka ANGELL contributing writer
I wish I could live in pre-Columbian Georgia and spend my life hunting deer, someone scribbled in spidery black pen on a wall of the Rock. These words have been particularly meaningful to me over the last few weeks of midterms, during which I’ve succumbed to a lack of interest in life, the universe, and everything. “Don’t we all sometimes, fellow student drone,” I sympathize, ignoring the textbooks that lie pointedly untouched in the face of my procrastination. “Don’t we all.” Of course, this public fragment of writing is only a taste of the vast array the Brown campus offers. The messages span from encouraging (everything is going to be alright <3) to frustrated (FUCK ORGO) to poetic (Altogether elsewhere, vast / Herds of reindeer move across / Miles and miles of golden moss, / Silently and very fast) and everywhere in between. My current favorite is the acidic How many trees did you waste on making these?, asked of the stickers in library bathrooms reminding students that paper towels are not a sustainable resource. The anonymity of today’s world can foster a slew of comments that makes one rapidly lose faith in the human race (I’m looking at you, racist YouTube commenters). But the graffiti here gives me a sense of solidarity—of community—rather than a feeling of exasperation. In comparison, the vandalism of my hometown lacks a certain bite, a certain panache, a certain psuedointellectual je ne sais quoi that would have had me merrily making the local authorities and custodians miserable at a much younger age. My impulse to contribute to the conversation has awoken only after my arrival at Brown, where I’ve been exposed to the delight of finding a stray thought left behind—a snapshot of a psyche, etched into whatever will hold it. The picture isn’t necessarily permanent, though. As far as my Google-fu can tell me, there’s no publicly announced Brown initiative to clean up the various scrawls, doodles, and snarky conversations scattered around campus. A thorough scrubbing-down every month or so, however, speaks to a determination on behalf of the administrators to overcome this particular Brunonian tradition. And I get it—I really do. Endless lines of ugly block lettering and an adolescent obsession with Freakonomics impressed on me the potential negative impacts of vandalism. Societal conventions tell us that graffiti in a public space is tiring on the eye. It’s messy. It’s uncouth. It’s unpolished, unchecked, and often vulgar. More importantly, it’s always in violation of an in-
street smart or street art?
stitution’s rules. And yet, that’s part of the beauty of it here at Brown. We are a community of passionate, eccentric individuals who like conversation—and like it everywhere. The world would be a better place if humans didn’t exist, one writer proclaims on a bathroom stall in Sayles. Not so! counters a dissenter. It would be different. A third person joins the dialogue: Better, on what scale of judgment? You can only say better because you’re alive to conceive of a worse. It’s not meaningless or intended to cause harm. In our relentlessly fast-paced lives, there’s an arresting quality to these messages. Perhaps we could use a reminder that the people we interact and collide with every day carry their own worlds, opinions, and problems around with them as well. The remnants of these worlds are everywhere. The Germanic runes absently sketched into old wood. A drawing of a stick man fishing off a cloud—at once reminiscent of xkcd, an old fairy tale, and my own daydreams while half asleep in the SciLi. The private inscription on a desk: I love you. Yes, you! Take this as the truth, because everyone needs to be loved. And the faded, pencil-scratched reply: Thank you. I needed that. These faint traces of the individuals that collectively make up our community, with all our highs and lows, deserve to be looked at more carefully once in a while. And if you want to do more than just look, grab a pen. There’s the endless blank page of campus to write on. Illustration by Sheila Sitaram
guess who’s back (back back), back again (gain gain)? All of our favor ite shows.
listening to Taylor Swift during production last night. Lots of love . Lots of hate .
getting excited to read alum Michael Showalter’s new book, Mr. Funny Pants , in light of our ar ticle on Wet Hot Amer ican Summer this week.
consider ing giving “Once: The Musical” another chance , but we’re pretty sure our mind’s made up on that one .
not so fancheezical, since that is in no way an acceptable pun, let alone anything resembling a word.
r aising a Solo cup to Ruth on the Main Green.
marshall KATHEDER editor emeritus
By now we’ve all heard that Christina Paxson, a Princeton economics bigwig, is our president-to-be. The big question is, what are her plans for our little university? In an interview with the Herald, Paxson said she wants “Brown to be … a tremendous world-class institution that has the best educational program around for undergraduates and supports world-class research.” While Paxson might lack the silky tongue of the Babe Ruth (may she sabbatical in peace), she speaks seamlessly onmessage for her new role. Her comments clearly point to a problem: While Brown is just as selective as say Princeton, with both institutions accepting undergraduates at a rate of 9 percent, the University still ranks only 39th in the world according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. It’s an obvious shortcoming made all the more glaring by a $53,136 sticker price, significantly higher than the national average for a private, nonprofit four-year college, according to US News & World Report. But in her Herald interview, Paxson also mentioned that she appreciates Brown’s effort to be an undergraduate-centric, liberal arts college—and she hopes to keep it that way. Which means that she wants to avoid the clunky super-spheres of post-grad programs at schools like Harvard, which suck up resources and attention from the great unwashed undergraduate masses that we cherish so much here at Brown. Two questions emerge: One, how Paxson is going to make Brown world class while preserving its emphasis on undergrads; two, how is she going to keep us solvent? Fortunately for our balance sheets, she’s likely to be pretty decent with numbers. She’s the Hughes-Rogers Professor of Economics and Public Affairs as well as the Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School. Her areas of expertise include health policy, developmental economics, and the global well-being of children. In an academic sense, it’s a big-hearted, granola three-way. In other words, she’s poster-perfect for Brown’s brand name. But Paxson’s resume is not simply a panoply of hippie-dippie philanthropic research. She was formerly the chair of Princeton’s econ department, a position held before her by Ben Bernanke. She’s also been on the board of the American Economic Review and the Journal of Development Economics. Despite her storied pedigree, her only real fame, besides all this presidential hoopla, came in 2008 when she coauthored a study that says, in its abstract, that “on average, taller people earn more because they are smarter.” Which makes me wonder, will Paxson implement a “you must be this tall to ride this school” policy. Ah, but I digress. In spite of her call to make Brown “world class,” Paxson said that she’d aim to carry on Brown’s university-college model, which in years past has meant fewer and smaller graduate programs—not to mention less money and lower status. Brown’s insistence on maintaining an undergrad-focused community is a potential limitation on its lofty aspirations. Pre-professional schools bring prestige, research, and, most importantly, funding. But this attitude is on the decline. In 2007, Warren Alpert donated a bolstering $100 million to the medical school that now bears his name. Two years before Alpert made it rain, Brown’s medical school was ranked 40th in US News & World Report. In the five years since the donation, the rating climbed five spots to 35th. The credit for the deal has gone mostly to Simmons, further emphasizing her role as vital fundraiser as she lent PLME greater cachet. This climb in the rankings prompts the question: Will Paxson follow this same model and strengthen graduate programs in other areas? Would a strengthened econ department give Brown that push it needs to inch toward the top of the nation’s (and the world’s) best universities? According to Andrew Foster, professor of economics and director of the Population Studies and Training Center, Brown’s econ department has enjoyed something of a boom recently. He credits the Plan for Academic Enrichment, which began in 2002 under Simmons. “The bottom line is that the Brown [economics] department has moved up the
development studies for limousine liberals
rankings in the past few years,” Foster said. Perhaps this improvement comes from the sheer increase in interest in the department, necessitating increased resources and attention. In 2007, there were 87 economics concentrators. By 2011, that figure increased by 45 percent to 195. Students view economics as a safe investment. According to Forbes, an employee with an economics degree is likely to see his or her salary double with only a few years of experience. And an economics BA ranks as one of the highest yielders for first-year earnings, following closely behind computer science and engineering. The success of econ concentrators inevitably brings hope for increased alumni donations in the future. In this way, a strengthened econ department not only provides benefits to those individual students but also brings about quantifiable returns for the University. Given Paxson’s own economics background, it’s tempting to perceive her as the sweet, red cherry on top of the department’s rapid growth. But Foster says otherwise. “I wouldn’t think that hiring Paxson as president has anything to do with promoting an economics agenda. … I think she brings a lot of strengths to the University, so her economics background is more hap-
penstance.” He added, “She does bring a perspective on how the economics department can complement other departments on campus.” It’s tricky to predict what Paxson’s presidency will look like. In her interview, she evaded the one question about specific plans and insisted on speaking only in a “broad-brush sense.” But that’s probably a smart move because she doesn’t yet know what Brown will look like from her enthroned perspective as president. This oversight is obvious, since she also said that she wants to further develop Brown’s relationship with Providence (she should Google “Cianci” and “ashtray”). The point about Paxson is this: She’s right for Brown. Brown likes to think of itself as this last elite bastion for liberal action. But it’s clear that many students care about personal financial success just as much as saving the world. Brown’s tiedye coating covers a very raw hunger for money. Paxson embodies this landscape. Her research is progressive in name, but she’s still an economist. Me? I’m just an English concentrator. Illustration by Phil Lai
anita BADEJO arts and culture editor
I spent four years of my life being chastised for not watching Mad Men after it premiered in 2007. My conversations about the ad industry–centered 1960s period drama—which won the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series four years in a row (it’s had four seasons thus far—you do the math)—usually went something like this: “You haven’t watched it?!” Incredulous Friend would ask. “You HAVE to watch it. It’s sooo good. The ‘60s were sooo interesting. And advertising is sooo interesting. And the characters are sooo interesting.” I’d always respond haphazardly. I was “too busy to pick up another show.” It was “too hard to find on the internet.” Blah, blah, blah. That is, until the first four seasons were put on Netflix last year, and then I just had no excuse. When my roommate, Amanda, realized while we were in Providence together for Thanksgiving break that I hadn’t seen a single episode, she dragged me across the street to her boyfriend’s house, plopped me in front of his big screen television, turned on the Xbox, and pressed play. And that’s all it took, folks. One episode, and I was completely hooked. I watched all four seasons—13 episodes per season, 47 minutes per episode—in the next six weeks, and I’m fairly sure that my parents suspect to this day that the only reason I bought them a Roku streaming player for Christmas is so they’d have Netflix on their television while I was home for winter. I can neither confirm nor deny this. I could tell you that what captivates me most about Mad Men is how incredibly well written it is, how superb all the actors are (Jon Hamm, January Jones, Elisabeth Moss, Chris-
THURSDAY, MARCH 22ND, 2012
arts & culture
just kidding, mad men
Luckily, the show’s producers are too intelligent to let us wish we could transport ourselves 50 years into the past, for as pretty as Mad Men is, it’s also largely dystopic. As well-dressed, attractive and cunning all the characters are, none of them are people you’d ever want to be. Don himself is constantly battling demons, flashbacks revealing season by season more details of his sordid past. The show seems to suggest that even if you had been at the top of the food chain in the ‘60s—rich, powerful, white, male, heterosexual—you would have still probably been unhappy, unfulfilled, and bordering on alcoholic. This is the constant struggle in watching Mad Men—wishing you could experience an era that seemed so beautiful, knowing that it was anything but. Nevertheless, it’s a struggle that hundreds of thousands of viewers and critics have relished since the shows inception. And one that was put on hold for over a year—after Season 4 ended in 2010, rumors of lack of funding and actor demands left many thinking that the show would never return. Luckily, it’s back. After an extended hiatus, Mad Men’s returning with the premiere of Season 5 on Sunday. I have had a hard enough time waiting five months to see what happens next. I can’t imagine how people who have been waiting 17 must feel, given how many loose ends need to be tied up. Was Don serious when he asked Megan to marry him? Is Joan Harris’s baby Roger Sterling’s or her husband’s? Will Peggy Olsen finally find a sustaining love interest? Can Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce recover after losing the Lucky Strike cigarettes account? I guess we’ll have to stay tuned. It’s a mad world. It’s a man’s world. But I just can’t get enough. Illustration by Adela Wu
tina Hendricks—the list goes on and on), or how it explores heavy themes such as identity, marriage, and youth in a way I’ve yet to see from any other network television show. Or, I could tell you the truth: I watch Mad Men primarily because it’s pretty. The show’s aesthetics and meticulous attention to accurately portraying Madison Avenue’s advertising world and the U.S. of the ‘60s—in everything from the tailored tweed jackets and full printed skirts, to the IBM typewriters, to the bottles of Smirnoff vodka and dim, smoky after-work lounges—are so utterly easy on the eyes that I often find myself able to recall only the staging of scenes rather than what actually happened in them. I have no idea what Don Draper, the show’s protagonist, said to his secretary, Megan, while they were on the balcony of a California hotel in the Season 4 finale, despite having rewatched the episode the day before writing this article. Yet I still remember how the two were shot from within the hotel room, framed in the middle of the balcony doors, white curtains billowing softly on each side, as they stared out at the ocean. Don leaning on the banister. Megan’s beige, plaid pea coat draped effortlessly over her shoulders. It could have been a painting. Mad Men’s beauty is a dangerous one: it makes one nostalgic for a time when, by and large, the majority of Americans were far worse off. Race and gender relations in the ‘60s were, of course, deplorable. Homosexuality was stigmatized and virtually unspoken of. And the advertising industry that has been so glamorized was superficial and built on material and manipulation.
Wet, Hot, and Weird
can you define cult comedy?
lily GOODSPEED staff writer
piece of SkyLab threatens to squash the entire camp. At first glance, Wet Hot American Summer seems to defy my roommate’s theories and categorizations. But there were definitely patterns to the ingenious stupidity. For one, Wet Hot American Summer messes with time expectations. The entire movie takes place in one day, but there are two marriages and a burgeoning pregnancy. Early on in the film, the group of counselors promise to meet each other exactly 10 years from the day, at 9:30 a.m., to see what “kind of people we’ve blossomed into.” “Great, ‘cause I have something at 11,” Michael Ian Black remarks, “I just, I have something at 11, and I can’t change it, because I already moved it twice.” A trip into town, accompanied by a Rick Springfield song, starts with some wholesome ice cream– and french fry–eating, escalates into old-lady muggings and cocaine deals, and finally ends in a crack den. As they return, one of the counselors remarks, “It’s always fun to get away from camp, even for an hour.” Wet Hot American Summer also exploits camp movie tropes to their natural extreme. Music montages are the rule, not the exception. A raft full of campers almost goes over a waterfall, much to the chagrin of the camp director. At one point, writer and Michael Showalter’s ‘92 character Coop makes an inspiring speech at the “culminating climactic softball game” to his “unlikely team of misfits” about beating those “anonymously evil campers from Tigerclaw.” In response, the campers point out that it sounds a bit trite and that they should probably just forget the whole thing. Wet Hot American Summer is successful because it manages to play into these stereotypes perfectly, while exposing their ridiculousness. It takes well-worn territory and adds a randomness that both reinvigorates the stereotypes and completely rejects their overuse. To me, Wet Hot American Summer is a well-done parody to be topped by no other. The film is on my Top 10 Movies list because it fits so well within stock movie patterns (fine, you win, roomie), while simultaneously catapulting you into crazyland. In fact, this may be the definition of a great cult film. I’m reminded of Best in Show, where the hackneyed aspects of interviewbased, documentary film style frame a series of impossibly silly characters, such as the lesbian couple who starts a dog magazine called American Bitch. Or Dr. Strangelove, which places an insane and paranoid general concerned with water fluoridation and the nation’s “precious bodily fluids” My roommate is taking a film comedy class, so at this point he can identify and explain most jokes with MCM theories. I agree that there are patterns to humor. But aren’t some movies hilarious because they don’t fit into systems and are just straightup weird? I can immediately call to mind Wet Hot American Summer, a 2001 film about a single day at a 1980s Jewish summer camp featuring an inexplicably impressive cast of comedians. Paul Rudd plays Andy, the camp counselor whose character’s main motivations include wearing full-body denim and making out with Elizabeth Banks, or should I say, “Lindsay.” Beth (Janeane Garofalo) bears witness to the marriage between Ben (Bradley Cooper) and McKinley (Michael Ian Black), accompanied, of course, by Susie’s (Amy Poehler’s) earthy flute stylings. Director David Wain recently announced on a reddit board that Wet Hot American Summer 2 is in the works, and I hope the sequel is just as intriguingly stupid and ingeniously goofy. Still, I don’t want to make it seem like Wet Hot American Summer is only bizarre in its use of celebrity cameos. It is one of the strangest movies I’ve ever seen. A can of canned veggies acts as a serious character who pushes the plot forward. A renegade
squarely within an aggressive, Cold War aesthetic. The cult movie is by definition a contradiction. Illustration by Madeleine Denman
arts & culture
“You Get What You Tweet”
an interview with ryan o’connell
Interview conducted and edited by Sam Knowles, Editor-in-Chief. Last Thursday, I spoke to Ryan O’Connell, the prolific writer and editor at Thought Catalog. His work focuses on romance, sex, and life as a twenty-something. O’Connell, whom Gawker once called a “narcissistic little monster,” may be best known for his Twitter handles: @ryanoconn, his personal twitter, and @BeingGayIsGay, a now-defunct account that chronicled the life of a fictional gay man. (A random sampling: “4/20 is a holiday for straight bros in college. Excuse me while I go finish this line of coke and put on Adele.” “There’s glitter in my tears again.” “A guy I used to hook up with in high school sent me an invitation to his wedding. I wonder if his future wife knows about us!”) Between the two accounts, O’Connell has nearly 20,000 followers. What does a typical day look like for you? I get online at 9:30, and then I usually have my first article due at noon. I’ll usually have lunch or edit. Then I have another due at 2:30 or 3:00. I also work on longer-term projects. How do you feel about writing under those time constraints? It was crazy at first. It felt a lot like a writing workshop; I wrote so much. I think, in general, I like it. It’s kind of like a welloiled machine at this point. By my scientific calculations, you tweet at least five times a day. Is that a challenge? I’m obsessed with Twitter. You know what, no: I’m totally down with it. I’m having sex with it. I’m not using protection. We’re together. But 5 tweets a day? Oh god, fuck me. You have over 8,000 followers on Twitter. How did that happen? Look, everyone knows what they’re doing. Everyone who gets some sort of volume on Twitter, there’s a method to it. People pretend, “Oh, gosh, I’m so shocked!” The fact is, I try to be funny. I try to be the best version of myself. There are times I’ve tweeted about going to a bar, and then people will be at that bar. Has that ever been weird? It’s only been weird once. This guy had contacted me before on Facebook chat, and I was just like, ignoring him. He came to the bar I had tweeted about. This is just going in the Brown newspaper, right? Because I’m kind of tearing this guy a new asshole. Of course. Well, he had been really aggressive with me on the internet, and he pretended we had met. I was like, no. It was really uncomfortable, and he tried to give me his number. Ugh, it was really bad. own way, right? You write a lot about relationships, but there’s only so many one person can have. Is this focus sustainable? No, is the short answer. No, it’s not! Here’s the deal. Everyone assumes I’m sucking 10,000 dicks a day. I write about breakups, so I must literally be breaking up with someone every day. What people forget about Thought Catalog is that it’s not just my diary. I’m basically talking experiences that I had as early as I was 17. A lot of what I talk about is stuff I went through before I started working at Thought Catalog. I’m kind of reticent to bring up stuff now. And as a rule, I don’t talk about the people I’m dating now. It’s not fair, it’s not what I want to do. It’s also not great for my love life, to be quite frank. It attracts this kind of weird group. The right ones are hesitant and the wrong ones are all-tooeager. When someone’s like, “Are you going to write about this?” I’m just like, “Are you fucking kidding me? Leave now.” It’s so embarrassing, for me, for them. Your Twitter handle BeingGayIsGay has 11,730 followers. In an interview with The New Gay, you said that your aim was to show how people stereotype gay men. Do you think that message came across? I think the message got confused for everyone, including me. Basically, I would tweet the most narcissistic, shallow, most revolting things ever. But then some people would say, “This is my life.” So that was disheartening. But let’s be real, we all have our stereotypical gay moments. There are times I feel like a Will and Grace extra. I find myself feeling, Oh god, I’m fat. Sometimes I’m connecting to Britney Spear’s Blackout album in a way straight people can’t, and that’s real. It did get kind of confusing. There was the insane anorexic bitch and then the smart, self-aware gay dude. And I think people were like, OK, which one are you? It was confusing, and when it did get kind of muddled, that was when I was like, OK, I need to leave here. How do you see your writing in relation to writing with a capital W? Oh please, I’m lowercase all the way. In terms of my own writing, there’s a part of me that wants to be seen as a serious writer—not a serious writer, but I want people to see that my work has value. I don’t want to be seen as a hippie blogger who just writes about sex and Xanex. I might not ever be taken seriously with my writing, but if I’m able to talk about things that no one else is willing to touch, I’m happy to do it. Illustration by Phil Lai
Like, look, I’m not the fucking Beatles. That’s only happened a handful of times, let’s be real. But that’s the internet! You can’t be creeped out by it. You know what I mean? You can’t be shocked when someone shows up at a bar. That’s the internet for you. You know, you get what you tweet. [Editor’s Note: True to form, O’Connell tweeted the line within an hour of the interview.] Did you always know what you wanted to write about? No one goes to college and is like, I want to write about my life, gay culture, pop culture. No one really thinks that—everyone is into being a serious writer. Writing about life today and twenty-somethings, it happened organically. And I’m so thankful for it, because I’m only good at writing about things I know. My imagination is kind of lacking.
Do you worry about being labeled a “gay writer”? Sometimes people say, “Oh, here you are talking about gay things again,” which I totally hate. No one calls Nicholas Sparks “a straight writer.” No one tells him, stop stalking about heterosexual couples. So there is this strange homophobia when I talk about gay issues, which is weird. I write about my life, and my life involves dicks. It just happens. When you’re talking about gay issues, it doesn’t seem like you’re addressing them in a particularly political way. Do you see your work as at all political? Politics are not a part of my writing. You’ll never see a piece from me that’s gay bill this, gay bill that. When I talk about gay issues, it’s very personal—my experience, my experience with my gay friends. But I guess, the personal is political in its
THURSDAY, MARCH 22ND, 2012
Cleaning out Aisle Three
how to shop with the drunchies
your secret cravings, exposing your starving subconscious. Your supposed vegetarianism? Gone, the second your eyes land on that pack of hickory-smoked bacon. My own recent experiences with Svedka and the supermarket revealed a deep-seated desire for excessive amounts of produce. On one trip, I was inspired to bag five pounds of beets. One giant head of radicchio and three large endives seemed to be reasonable additions. And then there are the mushrooms: Eastside Market lets you bag your own, which I saw as an invitation to get four pounds of criminis. I grabbed two bunches of kale, one green and one red; as if that weren’t enough greens, I also snagged a head of cabbage to serve to guests at my 21st birthday party. My best friend informed me this was neither normal nor particularly appetizing, so now there’s an untouched head of cabbage in my crisper waiting to be loved. Fancy cheese is particularly important to the drunchiesdriven. Faced with difficult decisions like “pepper or herbed goat cheese?”, I searched deep within and found the answer: both. Alcohol provides the bravado to go all out, inspiring you to curate surprisingly creative cheese platters or just to grab the big block of Roquefort that you’re convinced will convert you to blue cheese. Combine this with the carnal craving our drunken selves get for carbs and you’ll find yourself with five varieties of Annie’s Mac and Cheese in your basket. Get excited. All this said, drunk grocery shopping is an expensive sport. I experienced more than a little sticker shock after I teetered past the chips (snagging a few tubes of Pringles and eight sleeves of Saltines en route) and hurled myself at the slice-and-bake sugar cookie dough in a throwback to my frat-going self circa September of freshman year. It’s a good idea to give yourself a pep talk pre-pregame in order to avert a crisis at the register. Bear in mind, too, that raw groceries are not the same as home-cooked meals. Making an intelligible meal of your drunk groceries is a task that’s most exciting when treated like an Iron Chef episode. I’ve found that radishes with butter and sea salt are easy to prepare, pretty damn classy, and a fast way to get rid of the radishes I inexplicably decided had to be in my life. When in doubt, add heat: your drunken self is good at sniffing out the ingredients for future amazing meals, so whether you roast it (beets, mushrooms, kale, root vegetables), melt it (four bags of chocolate chips), or grill it (spice-rubbed cheddar between two beautiful slices of bread), it’s bound to be good. Now maybe you’re thinking: Wow, I could make a life out of this. But, sadly, this trick will not work after college. As a parent, you won’t be able to appoint one of your kids as the DD for your next grocery run, so make the most of it now. Vernal equinox was this Tuesday, which means winter is officially behind us. Cheers to springtime, y’all. Yes, I’ve got homework … but it’ll get done. Later. If you’re looking for a bad influence, I’ll be the one on the Main Green with the Peach Passion André and a Solo cup with your name on it. Illustration by Phil Lai
I turned 21 this past Monday and finally had my very first sip of alcohol. Needless to say, I have since been making up for lost time and am quickly learning that some everyday activities—writing papers, talking to grandparents, Marxism class—should remain booze free. Others, though, have gone from mundane to revelatory. There are myriad practical reasons to go drunk grocery shopping. With weather as spectacular as we’ve had recently, one could make the case that it actually shows better judgment to forgo the Rock’s cavernous carrels in favor of cheap champagne imbibed on the Main Green (preferably in front of tours). The beauty of day drinking is that it lets you get your party on while bypassing hungover mornings and sloppy nights, which makes that walk to Eastside Market faster, more fun, more scenic. Boosting your vitamin D levels, partying now so you can hit the books later, and buying groceries?! Don’t let anyone tell you you’re irresponsible—clearly this is the pinnacle of multitasking. What’s more, this is an exercise in selfawareness. As you may know, alcohol lowers inhibitions. This proves dangerous in most situations involving grinding and/or texting, but all that changes when you’re set free in those fluorescent-lit aisles. It reveals
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AND/OR EXPERT TRAVELERS ONLY,” with my record locator number and fake boarding pass. Despite the act’s complete legality, it always feels warmly sneaky. Nobody questions why a lone traveler born in 1990 has ’76 seniority under a different last name. With every successful flight, I cut the system. But in a world of no free lunch, airports cut me back. That’s how double-edged swords work. Never having a ticket, of course, denotes a gamble. If there is not space on a plane, whether due to cancellations, delays, or other anomalies, I am shoved to the side. But as a non-rev (non-revenue traveler), I have spent enough time in airports to learn how to travel fluidly as opposed to by a set itinerary. Cancellations have become minor inconveniences; by the time one is announced, I have already rerouted through another hub. Herein lies the problem. Flying doesn’t feel like flying anymore. It is completely mechanical. The airplane is an extension of the airport: simply the component above the ground. For all the grandeur of modern travel and the associated hope and wonder that comes with heading to a new place, the We often glorify the airport as the gateway to the rest of the world. It is an effulgent thing, theatrically romanticized as the stage of island getaways, returning soldiers, and home-for-the-holidays. And while there is truth in this, our adored airport also plays proscenium in the theater of lost baggage and security pat-downs. Few things are more dystopian than the combination of a people-mover and an omniscient narrator promulgating the threat of unattended luggage. Palahniuk details the sentiment in Fight Club: “You wake up at Seatac, SFO, LAX. You wake up at O’Hare, Dallas-Fort Worth, BWI. Pacific, Mountain, Central. Lose an hour, gain an hour. This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time.” Disclosure: I have a complicated relationship with airports. My stepdad works for Delta, so I fly standby—meaning I never have a ticket, but if I get a seat, it’s free. It’s compensation for his tossing around tacky tourists’ luggage for 30 years. Somebody needs to capitalize on the flight benefits, and Tony’s knee tends to keep him on the couch. So I subvert the airlines, ghosting through the security checkpoint as a “CREW MEMBERS
the unbearable lightness of being (in airports)
act of getting from A to B seems less like a linear trajectory and more like a rotation of the space below me. Airports bleed one into another. ORD is ATL is LAX, save for the minor variants in layout and voiceover accent. The ambience, however, is indistinguishable: I may as well have about-faced at the last jetway. Through the eyes of the perpetual traveler, the purpose of the airport is constant; the stay is necessarily transient. Tired faces and TSA frustration breed universal malcontent. I buy my obligatory Cinnabon and a copy of the magazine with the most jocund cover. I regard the “priority boarding lane” with dull contempt. I board the plane or I do not. I exit the plane. I repeat. There is an idiosyncratic je ne sais quoi about airports that is deeply numbing. Sticking with the Fight Club theme, the effect of this formulaic, bland atmosphere is a reflection of Tyler Durden’s theory on oxygen masks: “Oxygen gets you high. In a catastrophic emergency, you’re taking giant panicked breaths. Suddenly you become euphoric, docile. You accept your fate. It’s all right here. Emergency water landing—600 miles an hour. Blank faces, calm as Hindu cows.” F*ck. This got dark. Chances are, I need to get off this Kierkegaardian high horse of despair (Nietzschian Nazgûl?). Airports are airports. They’re like old drapes. Douglas Adams hit it square in the eye in The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul: “It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression, ‘as pretty as an airport.’ Airports are ugly. Some are very ugly. Some attain a degree of ugliness that can only be the result of a special effort. This ugliness arises because airports are full of people who are tired, cross, and have just discovered that their luggage has landed in Murmansk ... and architects have on the whole tried to reflect this in their designs.” More burlesque than tragedy, airports are places for business calls, peoplewatching, and buying $6-a-slice pizza because I forgot to pack trail mix. Detroit’s has a nice tunnel. T. F. Green kind of smells like oysters. And despite whatever Cimmerian shade is lurking in the depths of their metaphysics, airports do connect us with the rest of the world. Maybe they just need more windows.
ous cultural backgrounds. People showed up for free food, open conversations, sextoy giveaways, and a queer prom night. I was in charge of making graphics to publicize “Sex and Chocolate in the Dark” and “Sex Trivia Night.” Since I believe strongly in the positivity of these events and their effects on individuals on and off College Hill, I wanted to create marketing collateral that was eye catching, edgy, and convincing. I wanted people to see my posters and be like, “Whoa, that looks one hundred percent rad and zero percent lame.” I wanted to publicize the shit out of these unique opportunities for sexual and personal growth. Maybe you saw a photo of Alex Trebek photoshopped onto an oily nude abdomen floating around campus, or a pair of supersucculent lips vacuuming up a piece of truffle cake on a backdrop of chocolate-colored silhouettes of pinup girls. The posters I made were provocative and NSFW. Unlike Allegheny College’s visual aids that got plastered all over Jezebel and CNS, they didn’t feature stick figures or hand-holding. In fact, they were way more questionable. My point here is not that I am a better graphic designer than the good folks at Allegheny’s Reproco. The point here is that Allegheny College was literally all over the
n. in this case, an event devoted to reproductive rights, conversation in a safe space, and the dispersion of sexual health information to the student body of Allegheny College
conservative news one afternoon for hosting an event that was committed only to facilitating sexual health and helpful, informative conversation. The word orgasm appeared nowhere on the poster, and none of those stick figures possessed even a hint of a genital. Sure, the event was called “Sex Fest.” I guess that’s suggestive. But Brown hosted “Sex Week,” which, if you ask me, has slightly more orgiastic implications. The other thing is, Allegheny College is not that uptight a place. Ida frickin’ Tarbell went to Allegheny. Their politics are not historically particularly conservative, and their ratings are high; it’s a good school. But at the mention of promoting reproductive rights or sexual health awareness on campus, Ron Meyer of CNS has a veritable embolism. “Here at Allegheny College, feminist groups are treating sexual intercourse like a party,” he writes. “SexFest is likely to persuade students to be promiscuous without having to consider the consequences by treating sex as a form of entertainment.” It’s so goddamn weird. Ever since Rush Limbaugh and Rick Santorum, with the help of Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain, have gotten press for slut-shaming, it’s become a self-selecting, right-wing sport, ranking right below National Rifle Association “pistol programs” as things rich conservatives like to do when they’re bored. Is it so shocking that a college campus wants to host a sex ed event? Are we so surprised that young people are having sex? And the other big question: why isn’t Brown featured in any conservative diatribes on the subject? Don’t get me wrong, negative press about Brown students’ openness and tolerance of diversity is the last thing I want for this community. This school does an awfully good job of desensitizing its student body to sensationalistic tabloid politics. Brown is really devoted to engendering a healthy cynicism for mainstream political bullshit. It’s a truly utilitarian skill. But the question remains: why Allegheny and not Brown? We are certainly more public about our sex lives and classically liberal ethos. Is it because Bill O’Reilly already put the kibosh on Sex Power God back in 2005? Is it because GQ rated us the single douchiest school in America in 2009? Whatever it is, I am grateful that we have the privilege of handing out free condoms without the threat of expulsion. I am grateful that the naysayers know better than to ask us to put down our vibrators.
Two Fridays ago, Pennsylvania’s Allegheny College got a lot of media attention as the newest victim of right-wing slut-shaming. CNS News published a misinformed rant about Sex Fest, an event devoted to sexual health awareness hosted by a reproductive justice group on Allegheny’s campus. The poster promised games, food, and condoms and featured monochrome stick figures holding hands. The event description? “Join Reproco for a night devoted to becoming more informed about sexual health!” Before I launch into an ideological rant of my own, I want to share an anecdote about my own involvement in Brown’s Sex Week, which happened last week and brought to campus such events as “Orchestrating Orgasms,” “International Skin: Porn Around the Globe,” “Sex and Chocolate in the Dark,” and a “condom brigade.” It was an incredibly well-organized, fun, and educational series of events, which were all open to the general public. There were workshops on negotiating consent, conceptualizing a kink identity with regard to race and class, understanding the relative prevalence of HIV and AIDS in America and around the world, and opening a dialogue on queer immigrants, all led by credentialed, badass sex educators from vari-
Emily Postetiquette advice for the socially awkward and their victims Dear Emily, I’ve been dating this guy for about three months now, and things are going really great. We go out all over Providence—he’s treated me to Al Forno, La Laiterie, and of course Capriccio. I like everything about him, except this one issue: whenever he takes me out on one of these fabulous dates, he leaves horrible tips. I’m talking single-digit prime numbers. It’s so embarrassing! What can I do to tell him he’s being a stingy douche? Sincerely, Cringing Here Even After Pie Dear CHEAP, Thank you for your inquiry. We always love perusing letters and alighting upon one that deliciously entangles love and money. It certainly seems like you have a problem on your hands that is sure to bring shame and reddened cheeks to even the most backwards, etiquette-lacking Keeney dweller. What is it, then, about your beau’s Al Forno– worthy trust fund that renders it completely unable to release a few extra dollars at the end of an expensive night out? Your companion is likely suffering from one of two pertinent ailments. First, is it not entirely possible that under those Hugo Boss blazers and Lacoste polos lies a heart that has not been fortified by an etiquettical education? Perhaps our young friend is simply in need of a thorough lesson concerning proper table (and dining) manners. May we suggest leaving your favorite, well-worn volume of Emily Post out on your bed the next time you invite him to your room for a tryst? Simply bookmark the applicable chapter with a bright sticky note that indicates “20 percent.” It would be easy enough to explain away this trap with the ruse of simply loving Emily’s prose. Still, there is another explanation for this horrendous behavior. Have you considered that your dapper-looking young man does not have the funds to support your clearly expensive dining habits? Perhaps when, at the end of the night, as intestinal gases are settling and your date begins to realize that the lobster macaroni and cheese you ate will not be conducive for love-making later, he peers down at the cheque and feels his own meal begin to journey back up his esophagus. That extra ten or twenty dollars begins to feel of extreme consequence when one makes a habit of dining downtown. Is not one dinner at Mill’s Tavern enough to win a woman’s love? So, dearest CHEAP, I leave the rest up to you. If this boy is a “stingy douche,” as you say in your own uncouth vernacular, you may be able to correct his ignorance. Yet I believe it would be more appropriate for you to finance a night out yourself and begin leading by example—or at the very least, start saying thank you. Epicuriously yours, Emily
terrible advice for legitimate questions
and get down, Beej Dear Beej, It seems like you have quite a lively sex life, so I’d like to ask for some advice: How do I get my significant other to initiate new/different activities, techniques, positions in the bedroom? Doing a UniLateral Lay Dear DULL, To address your comment about my sex life, yes, indeed it is very lively. No sexual partners, but certainly the best sex I’ve ever had. As for your question: Some might advocate for a communicative approach, a polite “Why don’t we try it like this tonight?” But talking during sex is just so lame, and mojo should speak for itself. Try nudging your body suggestively towards certain areas, or simply manually maneuvering your partner to the desired position. Or if you want to test your emotional connection as a couple, send your message telepathically. Just say it in your head a few times: “Turn over, turn over.” Trust me, your partner will get the message. Ah, the power of magical thinking! Beej Dear Beej, I’ve been in a steady relationship for about a year now, but I find that my sex life is suffering because I am just too busy to have sex with my girlfriend. But setting up a “sex schedule” takes away from the spontaneity in sex. What do I do? Sincerely, Boyfriend Used to Scheduling Yiff Dear BUSY, You know, I have this problem a lot, too. I’m deeply engrossed in a paper about the tradition of early American samplers, and then my significant other’s all like, “Hey baby let’s do this.” And I’m like “Aw you want to have sex again? We did that like a week ago.” However, to ensure that sexual activity remains in the relationship, I wouldn’t discount a schedule. Sure, you lose spontaneity—but think about how hot predictability is. Knowing exactly where and when you’re going to have sex, even getting to the point where you can time your orgasms or the point at which you’ll have to fake one. You check your planner, you see that it’s Wednesday. Only three more hours until 7 p.m. Business Time. Pull out that Google Calendar
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