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THE COLLEGE HILL INDEPENDENT

1 DECEMBER 2011 VOLUME XXIII ISSUE IX BROWN./RISD WEEKLY

THE COLLEGE HILL INDEPENDENT


FR O M T H E E DITORS:
Last week, a couple friends and I tried to find lunch in a small town along the highway in rural, southern Morocco. A 20-something waiter sat smoking hash outside the only open restaurant in 50 kilometers. They were out of food, he muttered in French, and we were out of luck. He gestured to the twenty or so pick-up trucks blasting sirens down the main drag, carpeting the streets in flyers for the ongoing elections, which will run into the new year. As we traveled throughout the western-most nation of the Arab world last week, the elections seemed to affect little other than our lunch plans. At the same time, Egyptians also flooded the polls after months of speculation and both countries elected a large faction of Islamic parties. However, as 42 people died last week in Egypt, most Moroccans who spoke to us seemed apathetic. Its not hard to see why: images of the all-powerful King Mohammed IV are literally framed in every shop and plastered on most billboards. The parliament only operates with his approval. For absurditys sake, let us include that Jennifer Lopez and her new boytoy are performing for the royal family at a new mall in Casablanca at the time of this papers print. From an outsiders perspective, the limits of the Arab Spring are being tested at the center and the fringe. But as Egyptians voted for immediate and consequential rights, Moroccans views on politics were still intensely human, yet dreamy and infused with faith. Mohamed, our camel tamer, simply but emotionally explained political realities of the magical country. After he paused our journey to our campsite in the Sahara to pray, he pointed over to the distance. Its the Saharan Black Sand, he said. Algeria. We used to go there, and, InshaAllah (if God is willing), fighting ends, and we can go again.

NEWS WEEK IN REVIEW


CHRISTINA MCCAUSLAND, KATE WELSH

PACIFIC POLITICS
ERICA SCHWIEGERSHAUSEN

METRO WADDUP PVD


BELLE CUSHING

PUBLIC SCHOOLS
BOBBY HUNTER

-AAC

BODEGAS
MALCOLM BURNLEY

EP H E M E R A

FEATURES FUN AND GAMES


DAVID SCOFIELD

HANDICAPPED HUSTLE
DAVID SANCHEZ-AGUILERA

INTERVIEWS VIRAL COMICS


TIM NASSAU, RYAN LESTER

ARTS

ABOUT
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 Jananskie 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 WEB 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 Levinson MEGA PORN Kaitie Barnwell SENIOR EDITORS Gillian Brassil, Adrian Randall, Erin Schikowski, Dayna Tortorici STAFF WRITERS Madilynn Castillo, Barry Elkinton, David Sanchez-Aguilera, MVP: Alexandra Corrigan v Cover Art: Leonore McCarthy
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WALTZING IN PVD
LIZZIE FEIDELSON

INDY REVIEW OF BOOKS


JONAH WOLF

OPINIONS NOTHING BUT THE RUTH


STEPHEN CARMODY

SCIENCE BODY PAINS


MARA RENZ SMITH

FOOD BOMB BRISKET


JONAH WOLF

LITERARY RAY IN PARIS


ANONYMOUS

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 peopleadvocates, activists, journalists, artistsmakes their voices heard on issues that matter. Learn more at CampusProgress.org

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NEWS

KE W EW EI NI W V ER IN EE K RE V IE W
IM AT THE PIZZA HUT
by Christina McCausland
CIA spy networks in both Iran and Lebanon have recently been compromised despite their employment of stealthy and impenetrable espionage techniques, such as using the codeword PIZZA to designate planned meetings with their informants at a local Pizza Hut. On November 23, Iranian government officials announced the arrest of 12 CIA spies allegedly working to track the Iranian military and nuclear programs. This announcement followed reports that Lebanons Hezbollah, which has close financial ties to Iran, had unraveled the CIAs Beirut spy network. The Associated Press reports that, along with the infiltration of two Hezbollah double agents into the CIA, the groups spy hunters used a simple cell phone analysis to pick out the CIAs local assets. Apparently, Beirut-based Hezbollah, described by The US State Department as the most technically capable terrorist group in the world, only had to use the latest commercial software, searching for phones used suspiciously (such as always from specific locations and only for a short period of time) in order to find the spies in their midstmeaning that the U.S. spies used easily-trackable cell phones in conspicuous patterns. This incident was not unannounced in June, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollahs leader, announced on television that two high-ranking members of Hezbollah had been exposed as CIA spies. Anonymous American officials told the AP that, since this announcement, which was officially denied by the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon, Hezbollah has been systematically picking off the agencys foreign informants. In Iran, the blow to the CIAs assets was trumpeted in May, when Iranian intelligence minister Heidar Moslehi reported

K E W E W E I V N W E E I E R I K R N E V I E W
that over 30 U.S. and Israeli spies had been discovered. This announcement was initially ignored, but an Iranian television program followed up by showing images of websites used by the CIA as fronts to communicate with their spies. Relations between the U.S. and Iran have been poor for decades, and the spies captured were most likely tracking Irans alleged development of a nuclear weapons program, a charge that Iran denies. The U.S. spies were reportedly working in concert with Israels Mossad and other regional agencies. According to ABC, the CIA has lost an unusually high number of spies over the last six months. These two most recent incidents, however, appear to be the most major setbacks. While the occasional loss of assets is normal in espionage, when you lose your entire station, either in Tehran or Beirut, thats a catastrophe, that just shouldnt be, Robert Baer, a former CIA officer, told ABC. The only way that ever happens is when youre mishandling sources, he added. Other former CIA officials anonymously told AP that, in the agencys shift in focus from counterintelligence against rival spy agencies to fighting terrorists, tradecraft has suffered due to the pressure for immediate results. Though CIA officials had been warned about the vulnerability of their Lebanon assets earlier this year, and the chief of Hezbollah operations also runs the unit that focuses on Iran, it remains to be seen if anyone will take responsibility for this debacle. The fate of the specific spies rooted out in this incident is not public knowledge, but it is likely that the U.S.paid assets have already been or will be executed.

NEW WORLD ORDER: ALIENS


by Kate Welsh
Each generation gets its own world-controlling cabal. For us, it is not the Knights Templar, the Masons, International Jewry, or Communistsit is extra-terrestrials. During South Africas first ever UFO Science and Consciousness conference, held on November 24 in Johannesburg, organizer Michael Tellinger said, Theres a battle for Earth by some interesting dark forces. All the governments in the world are puppets and instruments to implement the will of a small number of individuals. The royal political bloodline goes back thousands of years. According to Tellinger, this royal political bloodline traces the ancestry of the worlds political leaders to the beginning of human history, when they were inevitably in contact with aliens. He insists that extraterrestrials visited the planet in search of gold about 300,000 years ago, cloned their genetic makeup, and gave rise to mankind. Ever since, theyve been in contact with world leaders. Aliensmuch like humanshave been plundering the world for gold for many years, Tellinger explained. Thanks to its diamonds and gold deposits, South Africa is at the heart of this, Tellinger told The Citizen. South Africa has been dubbed as the cradle of humankind and the place where all life forms began, thus the reason [South Africa] was selected as the host for the UFO Science and Consciousness Conference, he said. We have scientific evidence that there was physical life before humans which [sic.] were African knowledge keepers and custodians of secret knowledge. Laura Eisenhower, self-proclaimed surviving alien abductee and great-granddaughter of president Dwight Eisenhower, also attended the conference. She agreed with Tellinger, telling the crowd that extraterrestrials have been working with governments for a while, signing treaties with them every decade. Bigfoot expert Lloyd Pye told the crowd about an oddly shaped skull that he believes belonged to an alien, and hypnotist Jennifer Welch showed off her crystal skulls and a jade disc. She travels the world with them, attempting to use their psychic energy to help balance forces along the 31 degree meridian. The event was well attended by people who have experienced UFO sighting all over South Africa, according to the New Age. For those who wanted more of a Martian fix, when they left the conference they could buy a piece of real estate on the red planetcertificate included.

NEWS

02 DECEMBER 2011

US Foreign Policy Refocuses o n the Asi by Erica Schwiegershausen Illus trat a-P ion acif by A ic nnik a
Finn e

PIVOTALPOI
argues will be a key driver of global politics in the years to come. Our economic recovery at home will depend on exports and the ability of American firms to tap into the vast and growing consumer base in Asia, Clinton asserts, citing that last year American exports to the Pacific Rim totaled $320 billion. The announcement of troop deployment in Australia came as part of Obamas nineday tour of the Pacific Rim, during which he hosted an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation free trade forum in Hawaii and attended the annual meeting of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). During his visit, Obama became the first American president to participate in the East Asia Summit, which was founded six years ago as a diplomatic extension of the ASEAN and includes economic powerhouses such as China, Russia, India, and Japan. The President also held a previously unscheduled meeting with the Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, during which they focused on economic issues, according the Thomas E. Donilon, the presidents national security advisor. Contending with high domestic unemployment and discontent over the economy, Obama presented his trip in terms of its potential to create American jobs by increasing exports. As the fastestgrowing region in the world, no market is more important to our economic future than the Asia-Pacifica region where our exports already support five million American jobs, the President said. However, the announcement of U.S. troop deployment in Australia, which marks the first long-term expansion of Americas military presence in the Pacific since the end of the Vietnam War, high-

NTS
lies for decades; Australians have fought alongside Americans in every war of the 20th century, as well as more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan. The United States has no stronger ally, Obama said during his visit. Lutz points out that in addition to the 2,500 troops, the United States will also be bringing in ships, aircraft, and vehicles. China has rightly felt somewhat threatened by this, she said. Its perceived as quite a provocative move on the part of the United States to open yet another military base [in the region]. Indeed, China is not pleased by this development. Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin regards U.S. military expansion in the Asia-Pacific warily, and has stated that it may not be quite appropriate to intensify and expand military alliances and may not be in the interest of the countries within this region. Some experts have expressed concern over what they perceive as Americas muscular approach to Chinas increasing power, fearing that such moves could backfire, resulting in a cold-war style standoff. Zhiquin Zhu, an associate professor of Political Science and International Relations at Bucknell University and the MacArthur Chair of East Asian Politics told the Independent that while he doesnt think a cold war scenario is likely, he does worry that the deployment of troops in Australia will be counterproductive to relations with China. Zhu points out that Darwin is awfully close to the South China Sea, so many speculate that the location of American troops in Australia is aiming [there]. The South China Sea, a shipping lane for more than $5.3 trillion in annual international trade, is the subject of several disputes involving China and its South East

ast June, President Barack Obama laid out plans for the beginning of the U.S. drawdown in Afghanistan, pledging to pull approximately a third of the 100,000 U.S. troops currently in the country by the fall of 2012, with most American forces expected to leave Afghanistan by 2014. In October, Obama announced that he would pull all U.S. troops out of Iraq by the close of the year 2011, stating at the time that the end of U.S. involvement in Iraq reflected a larger transition away from the tide of war, a trend which he said would continue as the nation attempts to shift more attention toward domestic priorities. This November, Obama announced an agreement with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to keep U.S. Marines in the country on a rotational basis. About 250 will arrive next year in Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory, eventually increasing to about 2,500 and sending a message that despite widespread defense budget cuts and withdrawal from the Middle East, the United States intends to continue to assert itself as a Pacific power. In an address to the Australian Parliament following the announcement, Obama said he had made a deliberate and strategic decisionas a Pacific nation, the United States will play a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future. As the war in Iraq winds down and America begins to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, the United States stands at a pivot point, proclaimed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, referring to regional policy in Americas Pacific Century in the November issue of Foreign Policy. She lays out an expansive case for increasing U.S. involvement in Asia, stressing the importance of maintaining peace, security and open markets in the region, which she

lights another motivation behind the pivot in U.S. policy toward the Asia Pacific regiona desire to keep a growing China in check. Although Obama has said that we welcome a rising, peaceful China, asserting that the notion that we fear China is mistaken, renewed U.S. focus in the region is undoubtedly influenced by security concerns. Although Chinas true military budget is not made public, experts believe it has tripled over the past decade (though even these projections remain many times lower than current U.S. military spending). U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has characterized the Chinese military buildup as lacking transparency, and Clinton claims that the U.S. seeks to clarify Chinas intentions to reduce the risk of miscalculation or miscues between our militaries. However, Catherine Lutz, the Thomas J. Watson Jr. Family Professor of Anthropology and International Studies at Brown University says the idea that the Chinese are a threat to U.S. national security is ludicrous, explaining: The Chinese are a main trade partner, they have our treasury bonds. There are so many reasons why the Chinese would not be interested in any kind of attack on the United States or attack on U.S. interests overseas, Lutz told the Independent.

According to the BBCs Nick Bryant, the deployment of 2,500 Marines is hardly a huge increase considering that there are about 100,000 American service personnel stationed in the Asia-Pacific in places like South Korea and Japan. However, the move signifies a deepening of the already close relationship between America and Australia, countries which have been al-

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NEWS

Asian neighbors, as Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei all hold rival claims to parts of the waters. China claims ownership of the entire maritime region, which is rich in oil, minerals, and fishery resources, and has grown increasingly aggressive over its claims. Jiabao has warned the U.S. to stay clear of territorial disputes between China and its neighbors, stating that such conflicts ought to be resolved through friendly consultations. However, many countries in the region welcome American presence as a counterbalance to Chinas increasing military power, and the U.S. is eager to take advantage of diplomatic openings. During his Pacific tour, Obama announced that he would be sending Clinton to Myanmar, making her the highest ranking visitor from the United States to visit the country since the Burmese military seized power in 1962. Clintons diplomatic visit to a country previously shunned by the U.S. is a reflection of recent political reforms in Myanmar, though also clearly motivated by Americas desire to lessen the resource-rich, strategically located countrys dependence on China.

Obamas trip to Asia was also spent firming up negotiations to join a free-trade blocthe Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a formerly little known but fairly liberal trade groupingwhich would not initially include China. The TPP agreement was originally signed in 2005 by four countries with fairly small economies: Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore. However, negotiations to secure membership for America, Australia, Malaysia, Peru, and Vietnam have been taking place for over

a year. A recent statement by the leaders of the nine prospective TTP countries called the agreement a milestone in our common vision to establish a comprehensive, next-generation regional agreement that liberalizes trade and investment and addresses new and traditional trade issues and 21st century challenges. Further TTP negotiations are scheduled to take place this December. The final agreement will reduce and ultimately eliminate most import tariffs within the group over the next ten years, a development which U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk claims will result in flourishing regional trade. Japan has also expressed interest in joining the bloc, a development which has been received with enthusiasm from the United States. The nine current TTP nations account for only six percent of U.S. trade, which is about the same fraction as American trade with Japan alone. In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, former U.S. trade representative Clayton Yuetter and international trade lawyer Jonathan Stoel asserted that with Japanese participation in the TTP, trade in the Asia-Pacific region will explode. It could easily triple or quadruple. Obama has communicated that China would be welcomed to the new trade pact only if Beijing is willing to meet the freetrade standards for membership, which would require China to let its currency appreciate, to better protect intellectual property rights, and to reduce subsidies to state owned companies demands which would require a significant overhaul of Chinas current economic system. While some experts have labeled the TPP an attempt to encircle China economically, Zhu predicts that a trade bloc across the pacific without Chinas consent is unlikely to work, considering that China is

the largest trading partner in the region. Zhu points out that while many of Chinas neighbors may be eager for U.S. military security to counterbalance a growing China, they also recognize that they benefit from China economically, and are likely to try to maintain strong relations with both powers. Zhu emphasizes that much of the motivation behind Obamas recent moves in the Asia-Pacific may be influenced by his upcoming re-election, explaining that the President has to do something to show voters that hes trying very hard, that hes tough on China and that he can generate more jobs, and saying that he is unsure to what degree recent negotiations in the region will represent long term policy. As Dean Cheng points out in a recent New York Times opinion piece, what is unclear is how long this renewed effort will be sustained, especially in the face of budget cuts, acknowledging that regardless of Obamas intentions, Fewer American resources, including reduced military capabilities, will dilute Americas ability to remain focused on Asia. However, Obama has stressed that budget cuts in Washington will not inhibit the administrations renewed commitment to the region, stating that defense cuts will notI repeat, will notcome at the expense of the Asia-Pacific. Clinton affirms the importance of U.S. engagement abroad, proclaiming that maintaining peace and security across the AsiaPacific is increasingly crucial to global progress, whether through defending freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, countering the proliferation efforts of North Korea, or ensuring transparency

in the military activities of the regions key players. China is a challenge, there is no doubt about it, but at the same time China is also an opportunity, says Zhu, acknowledging the potential for China to boost the U.S. economy and create jobs at home. Ultimately, Zhu says that although we may see periods of tension between the U.S. and China in the coming months and years, prompted in part by the upcoming U.S. presidential elections and power shifts in China, he is optimistic about the strength of the relationship in the long term. Lutz agrees, explaining that she believes future relations between the U.S. and China will be positive because we are so intertwined at this point, which she claims generally makes for better relationships. As Clinton has asserted, China represents one of the most consequential bilateral relationships that the United States has ever had to manageThe stakes are much too high for us to fail. Erica Schwiegershausen B13 is open to friendly consultations.

METRO

01 DECEMBER 2011

THE FLEUR-DE-LYS STUDIO

An Artsy Atelier on Thomas Street


terials readily available. The attic faade is graced by pre-Raphaelite allegorical representations of Sculpture, Painting, and Architecture, three women dressed in colorful togas of Greek muses. The trio embodies the Arts and Crafts precept of unity among the arts. This notion differs from how art is generally viewed today, according to Robert Emlen, Brown University Curator and Professor of American Civilization, also a former Arts Club president. Emlen suggests that Today, we say we would pay more for a painting, considered more art than sculpture or architecture. An Arts and Crafts mindset holds that any kind of work is valued in its own right. The movement drew inspiration from the beliefs of nineteenth century critic John Ruskin, whose influential writings just before the advent of the Arts and Crafters rejected mechanization and championed the expression of truth and nature in art. For Ruskin, and for Burleigh, medieval art represented an ideal of crafted form, later lost in the standardization of the machine. The Art Club is reminiscent of an artists guild from the Middle Ages, and the studio is one that, affirms Emlen, you would see in Europe in some medieval town. FAIR AMONG THE FAIREST Today, the Club functions as it has for over a century, now the traditional counterpart to more alternative burgeoning artists communities in a Providence art scene. The Art Club was founded only two years after the signing of the RISD charter, and Burleighs project was a bold statement within an industrialized city that an artists studio was a building worth constructing. As historian Miner writes, the studio is a public monumenta symbol of the progress the community had made in its flowering art culture, and a declaration of faith by the painters, faith in the importance of their painting and of their place in the life of the city. During its early history, members upheld a prominent place in Providence nightlife. They would gather once a week for Friday Knights, evenings of social drinking, socializing and art appreciation. Every year, the artists spared no creativity on holiday costume parties, the themes of which ranged from French Market Day to Toyland. The party in 1919 was a projection of what the year 2000 would look

by Belle Cushing Illustration by Annika Finne


like for the artists; club records reveal how members were encouraged to abandon the conventional in their costumes: Picture your wife in a purple cubicle drinking green tea from a spiral vermilion cup. Can you create a futuristic golf costume, grande toilette, something smart and chic for brokers or artists? A futuristic Ophelia! A modernist Hamlet! What? The Art Club now inhabits a more conventional millennial reality. I dont know how young or edgy the members of the Club are now, says Emlen. The Club is no longer the only artist community in Providence, and certainly its members are different from artists coming into a warehouse in Olneyville. Potential Club members must submit work for evaluation, and styles tend to verge on the more traditional. However, any local artist, membership notwithstanding, is eligible for inclusion in open shows, and the Club seeks to maintain its founding ideal of the sharing of art. The studio, too, remains true to the ideals of the Club, the Arts and Crafts movement, and joy in artistic production. The building was declared a National Historic Monument in 1992, but it is artistic business as usual behind the archaic faade. Artists who are members of the Club continue to use the studio space. Visitors and locals alike pause as they descend Thomas Street to gaze up at the building, simultaneously grotesque and picturesque. And the house can still laugh at itself. Flanking the allegorical maidens are plaster portraits of the Burleigh couple done by Burleighs own hand. Master Burleigh sports a pom-pomed Scottish tam o shanter while the missus models a Pilgrims witch hat, forever ready to carouse at a costume party as long as the studio shall stand. BELLE CUSHING B13 sports a tam o shanter.

his is the studio that Sydney built. This is the art That lives and works and thrives in the studio that Sydney built. This is the club That makes the art That lives and works and thrives in the studio that Sydney built. It is called the Fleur-de-Lys: the artists studio that Sydney Burleigh built in 1885 to serve as workspace for himself and other members of the Providence Art Club. It stands out in good-natured contrast against the houses of clapboard tradition along Thomas Street. The gold and gray faade looks out over the First Baptist Church and beyond to the edifices of the Rhode Island School of Design. Playful plaster figures, carved floral designs, and many-paned windows enliven the wooden front. Across the bottom of the gable that protrudes out from the third floor, a tenpaneled frieze retells the Mother Goose rhyme, The House that Jack Built hand-modeled rat and cat the imperfect heralds of this studio, tattered and torn, that Sydney built. If a passerby were to stop and take a closer look, he might see, emblazoned on the street-level corner, the phrase, The Fleur de Lis, Fair Among the Fairest. Over one hundred years after its construction, the studio still lives and works and thrives, providing artists with studio space and existing as a work of art in itself. Today, the five houses on Thomas Street that slope down from Benefit Street to South Mainthe Fleur-de-Lys among themhouse the Providence Art Club. The Fleur-de-Lys offers five workrooms for current members, while events and exhibitions are held in the other buildings. A members-only association, the Club holds contests and exhibitions, provides studio space and a community for like-minded artists around Providence as it has done since its founding over a century ago. One February night in 1880, the signatures of ten men and six women initiated the existence of the Club, citing as their cause, as written by one founder, Charles Stetson, in a letter of purpose to the Providence Evening Press, the desire to interest the people not only in our own work, but more fully in art itself. Sidney Burleigh was not one of the signing members, though he had been involved in the Clubs planning and was an dedicated member

by winter of that year. At the time of the Clubs formation, he and his wife in Europe enjoying a vacation after two years of painting study in Paris, passing through Chester, England on his way home. Here, he greatly admired the half-timbered architecture of the medieval city. Five years later, back in Providence, with the oak timbers and decorated facades of the houses of Chester in mind, he began the building of his studio. Architect Edmund Willson helped the painter draw up plans, which were carried out by Burleigh himself and two artist friends, Stetson (the letter-writing founder) and John Aldrich. Burleigh was to become a well-known watercolorist and a leading member of the Providence art community, serving on the board of directors and as a professor at RISD, and exhibiting his work around the Northeast. It was the style of his studio, however, that first got Burleigh noticed, and would later make him remembered. The building caused quite a stir when it was erected on the tiny traditional street, a crude gem in a strand of eighteenth-century Georgian restraint. Despite its medieval roots, the studio was modernnay, newfangled!in the eyes of the Gorham silver factory workers from down the street who ogled the construction during lunch breaks. In an account of the building later published in George Miners 1948 history of the little street, Angells Lane, Sidney Burleighs wife Sarah describes crowds gathering to watch the carving of oak beams, the modeling in plaster on the faade from scaffolds, the building of this preposterous house with, as she overheard one worker exclaim, snakes and naygurs and every domd thing on it! ARTISANS AND CRAFTSMANSHIP Art historians consider the studio one of the first and finest examples of Arts and Crafts architecture in America. It is a memento of Victorian England, where the Arts and Crafts movement arose as a response to industrialization; attempting to escape the impersonal and mechanical, artists began to place value instead on handcraftsmanship. In Providence, also undergoing an industrialized transformation, the Fleurde-Lys studio was an embodiment of this enthusiasm for quality and authorship. The carving and modeling was done by hand, the hands of three friends, with ma-

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METRO

UN-CHARTERED TERRITORY
Providence Considers the Future of Public Schools

by Bobby Hunter Illustration by Annika Finne

arrived at the West Broadway Neighborhood Association in November, housed in a converted gas station, with no central heating. Despite the cold, a small group of activists was huddled around a conference room, strategizing about contacting state representatives and Governor Chaffee. The purpose? To express community opposition to Achievement First, a charter management organization based in New Haven and its proposal to expand into Providence. Achievement First (hereafter AF) is a private company whose bid to open two schools in Providence is scheduled to be voted on Jan. 19. The corporation has grown quickly since its flagship Amistad Academy opened in New Haven in 1999, now with 19 campuses in Connecticut and New York. Though a private corporation, it would receive funding from the City of Providence to operate mayoral academiescharter schools whose board will seat Providence mayor Angel Taveras. Though charter schools are exempt from some district regulations in exchange for review and possible termination every few years, not all charter schools are run by for-profit companies. Accordingly, AF is one of the more controversial corporations operating charter schools in the country today: proponents laud the noexcuses disciplinary model as a muchneeded choice for parents, while critics believe these approaches are a damaging route to achieve higher test scores at any costboth to students and to the districts finances. The controversy surrounding the AF proposal is indeed emblematic of the debates surrounding education reform today, illustrating current struggles over public accountability, finance, and the nature of what public education really means. PUBLIC DOLLARS, PRIVATE RESULTS Both charter advocatesincluding businesses, parents, and politiciansand the coalition of dozens of community groups that has formed in opposition to AF agree that the Providence Public School District needs reform. But agreement ends there. The first of several contested issues is AFs track record of success. Achievement First has brought 82 percent of their 4th graders in New York up to math proficiency, among a number of other strong results on standardized tests. Their Amistad Academy was commended by the U.S. Education Department as a national model for closing the achievement gap. But test scores, like most statistics, can be misleading. Their four Connecticut campuses failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress marks for 201011 and did not pass No Child Left Behind standards. Furthermore, some research has shown that many needy students such as English Language Learners (ELL students) and students eligible for free or

reduced lunchare underrepresented in AF schools: in New York City, ELLstudents make up only 1-2 percent of AFs campuses, compared to a district-wide average of 14 percent. Still, gains on test scores have been touted by many of AFs supporters, including RI Campaign for Achievement Now director Maryellen Butke, who says that the organizations advocacy for AF falls squarely into their goals of providing parents with more choices about their childrens education. As a middle class mother, I could move, send my kid to a private school, whatever to improve their education, Butke explains. But how do we give these same choices to families who cant choose to opt out of where theyre placed? A PEDAGOGY OF PUNISHMENT Providence public school teacher Anna Kuperman was first politically reactivated by the firings of all 1,926 Providence teachers in February, a move made by Mayor Angel Taveras to ensure maximum flexibility in eventual layoff decisions. While most were rehired, the subsequent relationship between teachers and district management has been rocky at best. Kuperman was drawn to the Achievement First issue because she felt the schools heavy-discipline pedagogy would move the district in the wrong direction. Its a no-excuses modelthats something I wouldnt want to put my child through, not only because I think its cruel and punitive, but because I dont think its actually what kids need to learn, Kuperman said. Kupermans assertion is supported by a number of parents whose stories have been collected by New Yorks Grassroots Education Movement in a nearly hour long video of parents explaining why they pulled their students from AF schools. In its footage, parent Leslie-Anne Byfield describes how her son was made to sit on the floor all day until he earned a seat. These strategies of stigmatization have been described as behavior modification by AF teachers. Butke admits that she hasnt seen this footage but notes that parents complain about all kinds of schoolsI think thats just one model; one size doesnt fit all in education. Behind Butkes reasoning is a free-market logic: if the schools practices are objectionable to a large number of people, parents wont want to apply. While both Butke and Byfield acknowledge that parents have the right to send their kids where they please, there are ambiguities in the quality of information about charter schools when making decisions. Many charter schools have full time public relations teams with flexibility in what they advertise to parents. For many activists, it seems that confidence in the integrity of the information that charter organizations like AF make public can

be the difference between an ideology of more-choice-is-better and a critical guardedness of new reform options. FOLLOW THE MONEY An AF campus would be located in Providence but also serve students from Cranston, Warwick, and North Providence. In RI, when a student attends a school outside their district their would-be district loses the average cost of educating one student. Since the money is re-allocated, not entirely lost, AF advocates it wont significantly hurt districts. But Tom Sgorous, editor of the Rhode Island Policy Reporter, an independent news source dedicated to analyzing state policy issues, calculated that charter expansion would in fact hurt operating costs. He estimates that a loss of one student to outside the district mean a loss of about $14,000 for Providencebecause the original district still must pay for the teachers, administrators, and countless other supplies. Butke, however, argues that these costs are essentially worth it: continuing to put public money into PPSDs current schools is unacceptable. Right now, 9 schools are under corrective actionthese are persistently low achieving. Our taxpayer money needs to go to proper services that yield results. I consider this a civil rights issue. Butke noted that Rhode Island currently ranks sixth in the nation in per pupil spending. WORTH THE INVESTMENT? While Kuperman might agree that the current system isnt working, she counters that this is in large part a symptom of too little money, rather than wholly misplaced money. Indeed, she has no shortage of ideas about what is needed: Smaller school communities in which parents and teachers have a say about the curriculum, the school day, and after school day, Kuperman said. But this requires money, more planning time, and less time and money spent on testing. Opponents of AF also feel that the possibility of experimenting with other, traditionally funded models of reform might be at risk. Despite the increased visibility of the disciplinary and funding arguments, the AF debate is often divided on these ideological lines, exposing fundamental disagreement about who has the right to own public schools. A lawsuit involving reforms at Providences Hope High School, exemplifies this debate. In 2005, the state split Hope into three smaller academies and instituted a rotating block schedule with more planning time for teachers. These reforms were widely touted as successful, reducing suspensions but 83 percent and raising NECAP reading scores by 65 percent. The model was deemed unsustainably expensive for the district, though, and ultimately scrapped.In another GoLocalProv piece (to which Fischers article was a response), Brown student and educational

activist Aaron Regunberg points to the case as evidence that successful, fully public reform strategies can be successfulif they are adequately funded. It seems that both sides might point to this case as proof of the implausibility of the current public school system (and the way it is financed) to facilitate better long-term educational outcomes. However, this recognition can still lead to vastly different policy recommendations. While Butke and other pro-AF reformers might conclude that this must mean more immediate and aggressive investment in charter schoolsafter all, a sudden surge in financing public education is unlikely to happen, given the states budget shortfall. But members of the community coalition would heartily disagree. Instead, Kuperman or Regunbergmight argue that placing trust in an outside organization to effectively outsource such reforms (and serve a relatively small number of students) distracts from the possibility of transformational change for the majority of students still attending traditional neighborhood schools. Following this logic, the only way to really solve public education would be to organize for better funding and more parent, teacher, and community collaboration across the board: anything else is a band-aid solution. WHOSE SCHOOLS? Such an impasse exposes the ideological rift that underlies the entire AF debate: whether turning over management duties to private, often for-profit companies can ever lead to the sustainable change that Providence Public Schools need. Ideological does not mean unsubstantial, thoughthe crux of this impasse is a series of important questions about public accountability: how can parents ensure that their childrens schools are responsive to them, not just the companys shareholders? Is the fact that Taveras will be on AFs board enough to ensure public accountability? Can parents trust that charter schools with widely harmful disciplinary policies will be abandonedeither by the charter renewal process or by the ebbs and flows of free market demand? These are some of the particular questions the AF debate tackles right now. However, even after the AF question is settled, the question of whose schools should be invested inthe chronically under resourced general publics, or the still-untested private sectorsis likely to be contested for years to come. BOBBY HUNTER B 12: is chartering his own course.

METRO

01 DECEMBER 2011

CENTRAL FALLS STElWARD A Fa lls


Bo de ga Lif e Du rin g Ba nk ru ptc y in Ce nt ra
by Malcolm Burnley Illustration by Julieta Crdenas

hen Hurricane Irene touched down in Central Falls, RI last summer, it snapped sunflower stalks and made sand whirls of street silt. An OPEN sign glared out of the Columbia Market, with its owner, Geovamny Hernandez, braced inside the canary-yellow mini-mart. During the tempest, he manned his meat slicer beside two-for-one honeybuns next to papayafilled pastries, until water entered the windows and forced him to close. When Irene flooded the bodegas shabby basement, Geovamny, a 23-yearold career merchant, lost $4,000 in revenue. After three days of lost power, he poured 50 gallons of spoiled milk down the drain, squandered all his perishable inventory, and paid $1,200 to fix two adjacent waist-high coolers that were blownout in the storm. For Geovamny, the scene showcased two all-too familiar aspects of life in Central Falls: as a small business owner, the state of economic fragility; and as a resident, a sense of government ineptitude. They didnt do anything. They only collect the trees, los arboles, nothing else, he said, complaining that city workers and National Grid neglected his electrical woes, and exacerbated losses. Irenes blackout resulted in a bonus week of summer vacation for Central Falls students, but the tepid response to fixing damage was no surprise for Geovamny: It takes four of them to fix one pothole. Average household income in Central Falls is half the national average ($28,000 for a family of four), with one in three falling below the poverty level, and the unemployment rate stagnates in double-digits. Since 2010, city finances have been under the control of a state-appointed receiver, the elected mayor has held a meager advisory status, and most city services have been outsourced or closed. Central Fallss library required a $10,000 bailout by the Alec Baldwin Foundation just to stay open five days a week with limited hours. These hard-pressed times are felt arcoss this small towns spectrum, including at the Columbia Market, where Geovamny says it best: There are too many people in too close an area. Central Falls is the most crowded city in the country, a pint-sized 1.3 square miles housing 19,000 people (over sixty percent of whom are Hispanic).As of August 1, it is also bankrupt. Geovamny bodega is a microcosm of Central Falls itselfmulti-ethnic, perplexingly dense, and trying to stay afloat in a post-recession

Rhode Island economy, that is corrosively recovering. MILLTOWN MAYHEM Central Falls was established in 1731 and achieved the colloquial name of Chocolateville, after the 200-square-foot fudge factory built by the Jencks family. When the Jencks family ceased production around 1806, the colonial town lost its sweet-tooth title, shifting to a blue-collar existence as a bumbling mill town. After chocolate, Central Falls turned to textiles in the 19th century, followed by glass and hammers in the 20th. But economic strife has been Central Fallss calling card recently. Within its bite-sized geography lies outsized economic erosion. The schools, which have been paid for and controlled by state officials since 1991, are still losing 5.6 million a year, despite a declining number of students. In addition, the city is facing annual budget shortfalls of $5-6 million, despite trimming its staff 40 percent this year. The ability to pay here is maxed out, Receiver Robert Flanders, the man appointed by Governor Chafee to steer the city out of danger, announced after the bankruptcy filing. The most recent source of paralysis has been Central Falls pension re-negotiations, which threaten to collapse thiepostindustrial city. An $80 million deficit in its pension fund, which covers just 143 retirees is the most acute pension crisis in the country. Not only were cutbacks considered for current police and firefighters, but already retired public workers were asked to give back up to 50 percent of their benefit checks. On the day before Thanksgiving, Flanders and Chafee declared a new beginning for the city, celebrating a tentative agreement reached on a collective bargaining deal with seven-figure concessions. But whether this revised contract and recent austerity can sustain the city remains to be seen. Until further details of the plan are released in winter, its dubious to assume its not still endangered. One scenario, that remains on the table is to merge Central Falls with its neighbors, Pawtucket and Lincoln, effectively melting Chocolateville out of existence. BODEGA BLUES Players of the bankruptcy proceedings are like names on a playbill for much of Central Falls, interacting in exclusivity away from daily life. At the Columbia Market, their conflict plays out in the newspapers

bought and sold, but scarcely read about the bodega. I am certain that whatever the coming steps in this process may be, Chafee was printed as saying, be it a merger, shared services or any other options that are on the table, the unique spirit of Central Falls will endure. Whats enduring inside the bodega are glistening pecan pound cakes and other products that seem like permanent fixtures on its walls: canned meats and pickled produce; oddities without expiration dates, like Pennsylvania Dutch Egg Noodles and aluminum boxes of Pulpo en Aceite de Oliva (Octopus in Olive Oil). The Columbia Market is housed at a mid-point between the citys two main thoroughfares. Depressed multi-family units surround it, but so do pristine suburban-looking houses with neatly trimmed bushes, gated fences, and Red Sox banners hanging above the porch way. Central Falls is not entirely drowning nor is it recovering, but simply surviving, like the business pulse of the bodega. Geovamny repeats a mantra of time-old industriousnesschopping, chopping, choppingto keep him going throughout the workday. Profits are slowrolling and a $100 surplus accounts for a solid day. This incremental pace of supplyand-demand, netting him $1 on average per customer, fetches Geovamny a lowermiddle-class income. It has allowed him to invest in some real estate in his native Dominican Republic, and he fares better than many customers, who pay with food stamps or purchase on store credit. They pay cash on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, Geovamny says: the typical days for temporary workers to receive their pay. Overhead costs are low at the bodega, so revenue relies on sheer volume and staying open as long as possible. Geovamny keeps the biorhythms of a farmer: up at six-oclock, opening by seven, and closing by 10. He doesnt wear a watch and doesnt own an alarm clock. On Sundays, he skips sermons and bypasses mass, unlike most immigrants from the DR, which is predominately Catholic. Im not un-Christiano he says, while combing through a golden-paged Bible, which he briefly consults each Sunday. I just dont have the time. CORNER STORE CHARACTERS The bodega is more than a bunker of unbought provisions. Similar to a bus stop, it sees a cross-section of city traffic throughout the day, oscillating between English

and Spanish chatter. Across the street lies the Calcutt Middle School, so adolescent jargon occupies the mornings, when teenagers call out for Crybabies (generic gobstoppers) or Dutches (unsuccessfully acquired), en route to homeroom. They turn into little monsters, says Maria, Geovamnys longtime girlfriend who works behind the counter. Geovamny disdains the public schools here, after a short-lived stay at Central Falls High school when he immigrated seven years ago. Complications with his accreditation from school in the D.R. made him drop out, and begin working at a local supermarket. Now look at me, Im driving a Toyota Camry, Geovamny says. In the afternoons, Maria does the charming chore of reserving the regulars orders: cigarettes and diet coke for the short man across the street (always 50 cents short), a newspaper and menthols for the painter in splotched overalls. And then, theres Nelson. Hey, Mami, he shouts, entering the store, sporting a Puerto Rican basketball jersey, sent by his girlfriend to fetch ham, cheese, and Wonderbread. Sometimes I have to kick his ass out, Maria says. Nelson is unemployed, so he stumbles in at least three times a day to gossip and gripe about an ailing economy all in staccato Spanish. He collects medical insurance, and bears a limp. Maria doesnt know the nature of his injury. Hes like a comedy strip, she insists, just one of the regular nuts. For the Columbia Market, the ongoing bankruptcy feels like an ambiguous saga on an alternative stage. Were the smallest city in the smallest state. Nobody wants to take over Central Falls, is Marias smug reaction. While the city edges toward extinction, Geovamny toils away like a layman steward. His business prospects boil down to an overwhelming riddle that encompasses his entire enterprise: how do you persist in a city without a government, with customers short of cash, or paying for Miracle Whip with WIC couponsall the while knowing that the city may cease to exist in a year? MALCOLM BURNLEY B 12 is posted up at the corner store

THE COLLEGE HILL INDEPENDENT

FEATURES

IN GAMING
MLG PROVIDENCE 2011
by David Scofield Illustrations by Robert Sandler

SPECTACLE

GREATEST

THE

he Major League Gaming National Championship is the premiere competition for video game players worldwide. This year Providence is hosting. From November 18 to 21 gamers from around the world gather in the Rhode Island Convention Center for the eighth annual championship. Every celebrity of professional gaming is here: NaNiWa, HayprO, HuK, MVP, MMA, DongRaeGu, NesTea, and even Tyler. One spectator boasts, you wont find guys this good at this kind of thing anywhere else. Its as though the best boxing prizefighters have set aside their weight divisions for the weekend and come together to see who has the hardest fists. The A-list is intimidating, but anyone can enter the championship. Entries for each of the three main video gamesHalo: Reach, Call of Duty: Black Ops, and Starcraft 2cost $70 per competitor. Starcraft competitors play alone, but Halo and Call of Duty require a team of four, so teams must purchase a $280 ticket package to enter. Spectator passes are $20. The three games have separate tournament brackets. Winning players move through a tier of hundreds of matches to a tier of half that number and so on until they arrive at a single championship match. Those who lose at the beginning have a chance to defeat the entire losers bracket and jump to the winners at a middle stage of the tournament. Everyone has to claw his or her way through. The supreme victor for each game must win almost every match in over 20 hours of game play throughout three days. The three video games open to competition are all warfare simulations. Call of Duty and Halo both pit two teams of four players against one another in combat. Although Call of Duty is set in a contemporary Middle East landscape and Halo in deep space, they share a game play template. Players work their way across an arena, collect weapons and ammunition, kill their opponents, kill them again when they re-spawn and repeat this method as many times as they can before time runs out. Sometimes the competitors play in a special mode like King of the Hill, in which the two teams battle for control of a small territory. Think of Call of Duty and Halo as pick-up death matches. The other game, Starcraft 2, approaches war on a more intimate and yet much larger scale. Starcraft matches are one-on-one, but each player controls an entire army. Players choose between Zerg, Protoss, or Terran military forces. Starcraft2strategymasters.com notes that, the Terran are the most popular race in Starcraft 2, since they are humans, and we can relate to them. The game gets going fast. With a frenzy of keystrokes, each player harvests resources to build troops, scouts out the opponents fortress, and

charges into battle. Players show off their prowess by moving their soldiers and machines as though the blinking characters had speculative personalities. In matches of the best players, every military unit advances and retreats according to conflicts all over the map. Death tolls are far more severe than in Halo or Call of Duty, but a strange mark of nobility imbues the dead Starcraft troops for their part in a struggle larger than themselves. The crowd in the competition hall is dense, but thats no surprise. MLG Orlando, the previous tournament, had 181,000 concurrent online viewers from over 170 countries. Spectators bring banners to support players, and each game has broadcasters that provide play-by-play coverage for the audience. Since Halo and Call of Duty are dorm room standards across America, one might expect that most of the audience at MLG Providence have come to see whether team Instinct or Believe the Hype will take home $100,000 for winning the Halo tournament. Perhaps everyone is interested in team Quantic Vengeance and their stranglehold on the $50,000 in the Call of Duty bracket. The uninformed reader might even expect the loudest oohs and aahs when Ryan of Team BTH proves himself to be the nimblest Master Chief by crouching as Maniac tries to snipe him. But at the competitions center stage, where the Starcraft players square off, the audience nearly out-roars the constant rattle of gunfire from the two adjacent stages. Rob Zombies Dragula has never sounded so faint over a loudspeaker as when a group of Protoss catches NesTea off guard. On this stage, $50,000 is at stake for one gamer. NaNiWa, MVP, HuK, and everyone else in the aforementioned list of gaming celebrities are Starcraft 2 players. Maybe the genius required to command war so fast with so many people watching is responsible for propelling Starcraft players to eminence, but maybe its just the awesome sight of the game play area. The players sit in private booths far above from the apron of the stage, almost flush against the wall. Behind them hang three television screens that rival the size of most jumbo-trons in minor league baseball stadiums. Two of the monitors follow the on-screen decisions of the players in the booths, and the central monitor focuses on one particularly cinematic spot of the battlefield. The televisions relaying the players computers are difficult to watch for long. Small windows featuring characters stats and development costs flutter up and down the screen like the thin leaves caught in an updraft. Each player moves his camera around the map at a speed just barely slow enough for the pixels to ignite. The action on the screen is so frantic to an uninformed bystander that it verges

on appearing choreographed. The austerity of the rest of the room heightens the intensity of the Starcraft stage. Although bulbs hang all over the high ceiling, the only light in the room comes from the television monitors, clusters of computers, and scattered halogen bulbs close to the ground. The spectators outside in the lobby mill about in a bright, formless mass of hoodies. The darkness inside is necessary to show maximum gameplay detail, but it feels oppressive. A booth against the wall offers samples of Stride gum, but no food is sold. Keeping food away from the game consoles makes sense, but no refreshments at all is extreme. One marketing representative says, Doritos sponsored MLG last year. They had a booth that handed out packages of chips all day. They pulled out sponsorship this year. When pressed for comment on why sponsors retract funding, the representative simply says that buying space in the tournament is expensive. Then changes the topic to why Hotpockets has not shown up: the Rhode Island Convention Center wont permit them to sell indoors, he explains, NOS [the energy drink], isnt even allowed in the same room as Dr. Pepper because theyre both beverages. So tonight at 10:30 in a suite at the Biltmore, NO-S is having a pro players lounge for the top gamers. The marketing representative brings to the foreground another aspect of the championship that ratchets up the tension around Starcraft: errant sponsorship visibility. The logos of Dr. Pepper, Stride, Old Spice, NO-S, Sony Ericsson, and BIC razors appear on team jerseys, but players on stage are mute when they might give shout-outs to whomever sent them to the big game. It seems like the sponsors and MLG just happen to be having conventions in the same room. Most companies have small booths or signs for a new product, but Dr. Pepper has the nerve to bring a super oversized plastic Dr. Pepper can as their station. One of the women running the can stand is pleasant and provides juicy details on a side competition at MLG. She says, five players from a raffle will win a Saturday night date with five Dr. Pepper girls to the Cheesecake Factory. A lot of the guys are sogamer. Its a different world. We like to open up people out of their shell. The players may sound pampered, but the league makes demands of their behavior. An email in August 2011 from an MLG employee named Alyssa Yee addressed to pro players says that, all players/coaches must wear MLG produced jerseys when playing on the main stage. The front and sleeves of the jersey may only have the team logo. Sponsor logos may only appear on the lower half of the jersey. Players/coaches who do not follow

the above guidelines and refuse to wear the [alternate] blank jerseys will forfeit the match. Many of the players hair-dos dangle past their ears, but the e-mail shows that some appearances do matter. And the total situational stress is higher than it may seem at first glance. The austerity of the room, the concessions made by the sponsors, the promise of a Dr. Pepper date: these elements together put tremendous pressure on the gamers to perform. However, the players and spectators prevail over the bombastic nature of the games and the event itself. The serene faces of Tyler, NaNiWa, and NesTea as they play are striking because video games impose a special type of violence. Unlike other competitive subcultures like board games or Magic cards, these video games rely on instinct rather than chance. When the audience cheers at a well-thrown grenade or a sudden explosion of troops, they are both relishing the image of destruction and approving of a players skill against an opponent with agency. In theory, these games should breed people who truly catch their stride as they wade in blood, but the scarcity ofwild eyes and foaming mouths confounds expectations. Oliver Tague, a Call of Duty player from Manchester, U.K., dismisses any serious tension at MLG and says, I have never seen any strangers not get along [at MLG]. Were mostly college youthfuls, and we know that a rough word here and there doesnt mean much. On the weekend that MLG attracts thousands of viewers, the Irish Dance Teachers Association of New England hosts a competition in the same building. Hundreds of adolescent girls in curly wigs dart to and fro as their mothers chase them. The girls and the loitering MLG spectators do not talk to each other. The parties may come closest when a man in Ray-Bans sitting by himself spots a girl and says, Who the heck is bringing their daughters to this? What are they doing all day? Only in this moment of social awkwardness does the isolation of the championship become apparent. Although the peculiarity of the games and the venues design snatch away attention, the excitement between the stage and the audience exudes all-encompassing restorative competition. Wherever it is possible to live, it is possible to celebrate in grand fashion. Behold a surprise Zerg rush on a championship television, and try to doubt the possibility to celebrate at MLG. David Scofield B 13 is seeing a Dr. Pepper girl.

INTERVIEWS

01 DECEMBER 2011

TAPES FOR SAD CHILDREN


A Conversation with John Campbell

by Ryan Lester

ebcomics are bizarre. The Internets broad explosion in content and style, with shockwaves in the far corners of the web, often seems worlds away from the infamous conglomerates, DC and Marvel, that have ruled comics for several decades. When freed from the constraints of the mass market and the physical limitations of the paper page, comics have mutated into a whole range of styles and genres. Even webcomic merchandise distributor Topatoco, the closest parallel to a webcomic Marvel, is made up of a motley crew of comics that, for whatever reason, would probably not make it with Marvel. Ryan North's Dinosaur Comics repeats the same six panels every day, only altering the text; Joey Comeau and Emily Horne's A Softer World takes assorted still photographs and pairs them up with angst-ridden commentary on life. John Campbell is thinking ahead. His comic Pictures for Sad Children (PFSC), a part of Topatoco, has been constantly brilliant since its inception in 2007. A dark, cynical, and dry take on contemporary life and culture, PFSC has been about ghosts, desk jobs, alienation, giraffes and fast-food chain Long John Silver's. Campbell has also summoned the comic into the real world through street art and gallery installations, alongside books and t-shirts distributed by Topatoco. He's also taken to making comics using screenprinting and watercolor. But since August, PFSC has been silent; Campbell has instead been releasing videos through Twitter, Tumblr and Google+ about beaches, cats, and pigeons. Indy: Why did you begin making webcomics? JC: While I was getting my writing degree in Chicago a friend showed me Chris Ware's comics, and they combined most of my interests: storytelling, design, and being depressed all the time. Later I read Ryan North and Joey Comeau's text-heavy work, which made me feel like I could make webcomics even though I couldn't draw. I started making rough comics and putting them on the Internet as part of a competition, and kept doing it kind of un-

controllably, because I needed the outlet and because I had a small audience for the first time. I worked out a bunch of emotions in my comics and got some feedback on my writing; it was good for me. When I got sick of having desk jobs a few years after college, webcomics people were the only people doing something for a living that didn't seem horrible and also seemed like something I could pull off. My other interests would have involved a lot of networking and years of shitty jobs. So I moved to Mexico with another cartoonist to live cheap and started Pictures for Sad Children hoping it could be my job. Indy: How did that branch off into street art, screenprinting, installation, and video art? JC: I've been getting really impatient with comics for a while. I think, "I don't want to draw stick figures on the internet for the rest of my life." The past few years I've been looking for a "creative community" to be a part of in Chicago, and I've ended up in a building with some art students, fashion designers, teachers, drug addicts, etc. The space I live in is also a gallery and there are lots of art supplies and equipment and people around. I've gotten access to the equipment at the School of the Art Institute here from knowing students and pretty much get to do art school at my own pace and without the debt. Indy: What's the method and approach you've taken towards your recent video work? JC: Everyone should be making video, it is not that hard. If you keep it simple then any non-actor can play around in front of the camera and get more comfortable, or uncomfortable if that's what you're going for. Digital video is amazing for hitting Record and forgetting about the camera. It seems like the main thing is patience. There's no budget or deadline to think about. If there was a drug for increasing patience I would do it every day. So far my videos have been clear concepts before shooting, pretty improvised while shooting and then really intensely worked over

while editing. I enjoy the entire process but get pretty upset when things don't turn out well because I want to be responsible for more decent and enjoyable things existing instead of more horrible shitty things. Indy: Your recent video work seems closely tied to the art scene in Chicago. What art is happening in your vicinity that you find inspirational, or just think is really cool? JC: I don't understand what an art scene could be, that doesn't make sense to me, especially not in a decent-sized city. I feel confident that there are at least a few dozen large groups of interconnected communities in Chicago who each consider themselves the art scene. I've been enjoying the street artist in Chicago who nails up flat wooden sculpture pattern things, I don't know who he is but I've noticed some new ones. A friend of mine just had his first art show and used his paintings and text pieces to quit his desk job, and I liked that. Indy: Do you still consider yourself a webcomic artist? Do you consider yourself an artist in the abstract sense? JC: I didn't consider myself a webcomic artist for a while: I felt like I was pretty much just drawing stick figures next to poems I'd written, they still weren't really comics. I don't like having or identifying with some career. That doesn't really make sense to me. I got into webcomics just as social media helped make a lot of Internet work more about the creator than before. More people follow and subscribe to things so keeping a schedule isn't

as important. It will be easier for people to make a living off a variety of output rather than getting stuck in a rut or having a particular and precise series or brand. I've felt stuck in comics for a while and it is ridiculous to feel stuck in anything. I don't mind making very little money while I figure out more about how I want to live and what I want to do. Indy: What is Art? JC: Bleeeuuughhhhh bleeeaaaugugguhhhhh cough cough bleeeeaaaaauugghhhhh (throw-up sounds) Indy: I once showed my pen pal, who teaches humanities at a university, the A Brief History of Art comic, and he asked in response (and I quote), "Whose penis is it modeled on?" So: whose penis is it modeled on? JC: My own, what appear to be eyes are just openings into my bifurcated urethra. Both fully functional, a medical miracle. RYAN LESTER B'12 only has a regular penis and will never be a great artist.

THE COLLEGE HILL INDEPENDENT

INTERVIEWS

10

PERRY BIBLE FELLOW


A Conversation with Nicholas Gurewitch

by Timothy Nassau

I knew of and theres just a point where it comes time for everyone to have a website and so I put my newspaper comic strip online. Then you have people calling it a webcomic. Indy: So its just a comic on the internet? NG: I think we can answer this question if we look at the fact that if you put a restaurants menu online, its not a webmenu. Its a menu, for Gods sake. Indy: One of the most distinctive features of PBF is the way you move through dozens of artistic styles with ease. Where does the style of each strip come from? NG: I think it is birthed from the story. It comes from some quality vested in the story. If theres not some immediate correlation between the subject matter and a style I usually just try to dwell on the story or feel it out until I can figure out a presentation method that makes the joke sweeter. Indy: Sweeter in like a sweet-old-lady kind of way? NG: Sweeter in like a it-tastes-good-inmy-mouth kind of way. There are so many comics I have not completed because I just havent found the style that excites me for how to bring them to life. Indy: Most webcomic artists never change their aesthetic. Why do you do it? NG: Maybe Ithis is a vain estimate maybe I like to see the world from different perspectives. Thats my self-adoring answer. But the real reason probably isnt that grand. It might just be that Im a patient mimic. Indy: So you said youre a good mimic NG: Not a good one: a patient one. I guess patience is very mistakable for talent these days. Indy: Are you thinking of anyone in particular? NG: Myself. I think if you do anything patiently people mistake it for being genius when in reality its just the result of an unfathomable amount of patience, in my case. Indy: I heard that youre working on a graphic novel at the moment: that must be going slowly. NG: Ive got a couple in the works. I wouldnt make any estimates as to when theyll be done. They might just get done whenever they are done.

rowing up, I often dreamed I would be the kind of high-minded intellectual badass who carries around a dog-eared copy of Baudelaire at all times. Instead, the work that I always find myself revisiting, that I come back to again and agains, is Nicholas Gurewitchs comic strip The Perry Bible Fellowship. PBF began ten years ago when Gurewitch was studying film (his other main artistic pursuit) at Syracuse, and it has since received wide praise for its motley of artistic styles (rarely do two strips share the same aesthetic) and its surreally morbid humor (think a cross between The Family Circus and Artauds Theatre of Cruelty). Baudelaire perfectly described the impulse behind PBF when he said that to be a genius is to be able to view the world, as an adult, through the eyes of a child. So Gurewitch, like Baudelaire, is a genius, but one of them is a lot funnier. Nicholas Gurewitch: Can I work while I do the interview? The Independent: What are you working on? NG: Just doing some editing and some puppet-building. Indy: Puppet-building? NG: Im building some horses. Indy: What are the puppets for? NG: Theyre not really puppets I guess theyre more just fake horses that will be puppeted to some degree. Its more or less people just moving this thing Jabbathe-Hut-style to make it look like its moving, but that is technically puppeting. Theyre for a Western Im shooting with my friends, Trails of Tarnation. Indy: What exactly are you doing? NG: We all write it, but Im editing and filming it and I have a pretty large role in it, too. It probably will be my first feature film when its all done. Indy: How does making a film compare to making a comic? NG: Its similar in many ways because

when Im working on a PBF there are constant opportunities to change an idea and to bring in a new idea to improve the composition or the colors or the layout or adding a detail. And with a film you just have that many more details that you can pay attention to and so you can, all along the way, be sculpting your work into something better so long as you continually assess it. I really love this about film. Indy: When I think about the humor of PBF, it reminds me of the way old horror movies are often more funny than scary. I feel like I can usually trace the source of the humor in your comics to something that is morbid, but in an absurd way. NG: I wouldnt trust anyone to figure out why somethings funny, but I will say that laughing is the result of ingesting a lot of information and I think that someone dying or something happening really rapidly communicates a lot very quickly, especially a slasher film where youve got a persons life ending in the blink of an eye: youve got a lot of information being relayed quickly and that can often be the thing that bubbles over someones senses into a laugh. I guess this is theoretical, the bubbling over of their senses. Indy: You think thats true for all comedy? NG: Without a doubt. Indy: But your comedy works in a specific way. NG: Yeah sure, I guess its very different from a movie and its very different from a laugh that you might share with your friends. I think PBF lures people into a very isolated and specific expectation and then floods the corridors of that expectation rather roughly and immediately so as to create a laugh. Indy: Why did you decide to do that in a webcomic? Why did you choose that form? NG: I dont think I did chose that form. I think I choose the form of a comic strip when I was at [Syracuse] doing it for [student newspaper] The Daily Orange. I was putting it in some alternative weeklies that

Indy: Are they coming from a dissatisfaction with the comic strip? NG: I dont think Im tired of the short form. I just wanted to experiment with stringing together a longer story because its so much of what film-making is like. Filmmakers just string together a longer story. I dont think my body differentiates between the telling of one story and another. Theres not like a whole lot of thought or feeling that goes into making something besides my appreciation for whats being told. Indy: Do you want to try other genres? Who would be your ideal collaborator? NG: Julie Taymor, maybe. Indy: For a movie? NG: Probably not a movie, maybe a play. I would get a kick out of meeting Quentin Tarantino. I probably wouldnt want to work with him though. Indy: Whys that? NG: Hes got strong ideas. So do I. Indy: Is there anything that youve wanted to do that you havent been able to? NG: In my life? Yeah, tons of things. Indy: I meant in terms of comics. NG: The one Im working on right now Ive been wanting to work on for several days, but I havent had time to do it. Times a big obstacle. If I had a whole other life Id probably put that life to work making PBF comics, but theres just so much else I want to do in this world. Indy: Like what? NG: You know, get love to grow. Find love and foster love. Raise a farm, raise a family. Indy: Are those two separate things, the farm and the family? NG: Maybe they are one, maybe theyre one thing together. TIMOTHY NASSAU B12 is pro-skub. Read Perry Bible Fellowship at pbfcomics. com. Watch Trails of Tarnation at trailsoftarnation.com.

11

FEATURES

01 DECEMBER 2011

RADICAL DANCE
Disability in Dance
by David Sanchez-Aguilera Illustration by Cecilia Salama

ou say a word, and then Ill say a word, and well make a sentence. These lyrics reverberate through the rehearsal room set in motion by choreographer Marc Brew has set in motion. His voice answers the songs call, throwing the words out to the room as if in a game: The word is weightlessness, he says. Dancers Sonsheree Giles and Rodney Bell understand the task being asked of them. They have performed improvisation exercises like this before, and understand that it will morph into a finished product. So they translate weightless into movements: an exercise not uncommon in this early stage of the creative process. But there is a complication: Bell is wheelchair-bound, and has been since a motorcycle accident left him paralyzed from the chest down at age 19. He dances alongside his partner, the ambulatory Giles. Their improvised dancing speaks desire and reciprocity and falling. Brew composed the piece, Full of Words, for the Oakland-based Axis Dance Company earlier this year. The contemporary repertoire company was founded in 1987 when artistic director Thais Mazu, along with Axiss current director, Judith Smith, got the idea to fill the demand for creative expression within the disabled community by bringing together dancers of mixed abilities to create performance dance pieces. Their first show premiered in 1988 to a standing ovation. Indeed, Axis is not the only company of its kind in the world or even in the US: the Londonbased Condo Co Dance Company and the Chicago-based Dance Detour are just a few examples of the similar work that is being done out there. Axis, however, enjoys some prominence in its field. The company has commissioned work from some of the contemporary worlds foremost choreographers, and has reached acclaim for producing innovative gems of professional dance. Full of Words premiered last month a Oaklands Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts during the companys home season, another name added to Axiss growing list of impressive works. They are set to take their 2011-2012 program on the road beginning in early January. They plan to feature Brews work alongside revivals of Alex Ketleys ruminating 2008 piece, Vessel, and David Dorfmans combustible and athletic 2009 piece, Light Shelter. A NEW VOCABULARY A dash of brazenness has been a necessary component to the companys success. As as a spirit of resilience: Annika Nonhebel, education director at Axis, told the Independent: When we started about twenty years ago, we had to fight it took a lot of time for a reviewer in the Bay Area to even come see a show. And, according to Judith Smith, the people most unwilling to recognize physically-integrated are usually fellow members of the dance community. She tells the Independent, Within the contemporary dance community there

is more of an awareness and acceptance than in ballet. Of course, Smith acknowledges ballet speaks a language that is over 200 years old, a language of posture and convention that in no way fits Axiss vision of what could be possible if disability were introduced to dance. Axiss success stems from its ability to fashion a new language in which, according to Smith, the vocabulary of able-bodied dancers is added to the vocabulary of disabled dancers. She explains, The movement possibilities when you move really differentlywhen you have dancers with prosthetics or in wheelchairsare exponentially expanded. What, for example, happens when the prosthetics comes off of a disabled dancer? What will dance look like then? Choreographers have been all too eager to answer these questions. Take a moment between Sonshiree Giles and Rodney Bell from Alex Ketleys Light Shelter as example. Watch Bell rear in his wheelchair, recoil, spin around and face Giles. Watch Giles somersault onto his back; fall from point into his arms, watch as she climbs Bells wheelchair and the grace with which she dismounts. Its a pas-de-deux of different sorts, but a pasde-deux nonetheless. The passion and the sexiness is all there. As is the vulnerability: the number ends with Giles lying on the floor and supporting Bell who leans backwards over her in his wheelchair. Giles places her feet on his back, her hands grip his wheels, and he gives over everything. The cast currently features eight members: four disabled dancers in wheel chairs, four able-bodied. But dont try to pinpoint Axiss movement down. Their movement vocabularythe visual picture and range of their movementis continually evolving as cast members come and go. Movement is constantly added and constantly lost, says Smith. In the past, they have worked with dancers with prosthetics or that use canes, and this inevitably shapes a new form. The point, as Nonhebel puts, is that you have to see Axis to believe us. BODY POLITICS Axiss success also owes something to the political climate and the recent trend in acknowledging and supporting the disabled community through policy-making. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the same way the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does for race and ethnicity, passed around the same time that disabled performance art took a larger presence on the scene. The field of disability studies itself is relatively new: the first PhD program was established at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1998. The field, evidently, has followed in the somnambulistic wake of the Civil Rights, feminist, and LGBT/ queer movements. We have learned from the tools of feminist and queer theory analysis, and now disability analysis, how gender, class, sexual orientation, and dis/

ability, are slated dimensions that uniquely shape our experiences with the world. According to Human Rights Watch, In Europe, North America, and Australia, more than 50 percent of women with disabilities have experienced physical abuse, compared with one-third of nondisabled women. And this number is higher still for disabled women of color. The humans rights violations that the disabled community experiences across the spectrum, including physical and sexual abuse, limited access to medical and rehabilitation services, and cultural stigmatization, are numerous and far varied. Disability theorist Rosemarie Garland Thomson sees performance art as altering public perceptions of disability and furthering disability activism. The history of disabled performance art especially abounds with solo artists, such as Mary Duffy, Mike Lamitola, and Cheryl Marie, who stood before audiences and soliloquized on their own disabilities in the early 90s. Thomson saw these early artists as manipulating the stare-and-tell rituals used in marking corporeal differences in order to reincarnate disability and reconstruct it own their own terms. What these early artists showed is that disabled people, more often than not, view their bodies as complete. What they saw is that normalcy is manufactured. Conventions police, disability keeps the system operating. Axis, understandably, has always eschewed the kind of politics that conceal difference. It has embraced difference as a site of exploration and inexhaustible possibility and has challenged the art community to accept that its conventions may have grown static over the years. This involves a history with some tumult No work Axis has commissioned represents physically integrated dances struggle for legitimacy more than Bill T. Joness 2000 piece, Fantasy in C Major. Director Smith accredits Jones for ushering Axis into a new era of national recognition from what might have become for Axis a gimmick turned stale. This was a vital maneuver in the wake of Jones controversial 1994 opus. Still/Here,which grappled with the reality of living with terminal illness, and included real testimonies from people, even some who had already passed by the shows premiere. Their voices were incorporated as audio and projected on mobile screens. Jones dance was divided into two halves. Still: reticence, denial, absence. Here: alive, alive, still alive. The flames surrounding Joness material were fanned when Arlene Croce, former dance critic of The New Yorker, labeled the work victim art in a piece entitled, Discussing the Undiscussable. The undiscussable nature of the piece allowed her, as she saw, to refuse to review it. What else should be left unaddressed? Perhaps the fact that Joness is a self-labeled H.I.V. positive black man. Perhaps it is a mere coincidence that Jones is black and Jones has H.I.V. and that this makes audiences very uncomfortable, particu-

larly when he decides to make art out of victims. But still, I wonder what things where reaffirmed in silence when she refused to see his show. We can understand why, then, Smith recalls about Axiss collaboration with Jones in 2000 as the stakes being high. We can understand why, in her words, When (Jones) agreed, he said pointedly, we cant fail. Pointedly. What exactly was on the line at that point? To lose difference, to become a victim, is to have the will stifled. FILL THE SILENCE Axis is aware of existing between the realms of dance and disability. While they are trying to close this gap, they are aware they will encounter unawareness, and this bears a certain weight on the companys consciousness. Education director Annika Nonhebel speaks of the direct approach being taken by Dance Access, Axiss outreach program, which features company members and choreographers speaking at lectures and hosting dance workshops. We give permission to staredance needs to be watched, she says. For many people, it is their first opportunity to stare and ask questions. What we do we do because we like movement and we like dance, Smith asserts. But, she admits, the sociopolitical slant will always be there. As will the racial and technological implications of what it means to be a physically integrated dance company. These concerns are present in most Axis performances whether there is a deliberate effort made by the choreographer to discuss them or not. One of Axiss most iconic works, the beauty that was mine, though the middle, without stopping (2007), saw Joe Goode tackling the question of whether, in his words: the actuality of the 'seen' entity (is) ever close to what we presume it to be. The answer, I am comfortable providing, is not: In the quintessential moment of Goodes piece, Sonsheree Giles dances around Rodney Bellwho is overturned in his wheelchairwith a panache and technical tactility in a display of all the usual power dynamics. And then she pounces. As she centers herself on one his overturned wheels, Bell capably, gracefully, dodges her spinning, then comes eventually to turn himself and his wheelchair upright. In this moment Bell becomes a site of paroxysm where performances of ability explode on previous assumptions of disability, and Axis ultimately succeeds in creating something generative, something powerful. DAVID SANCHEZ-AGUILER B 13 was a dancer all along.

THE COLLEGE HILL INDEPENDENT

ARTS

12

PVDANCE
Moves on and off College Hill
Illustration by Julieta Cardenas by Lizzie Feidelson
Raven, created in 2010, the lights came up on a half-naked Eiko lying prone in the center of the stage. The combination of her ungraceful position and the painfully slow pace with which she rose became slightly disturbing when combined with the unusual sight of middle-aged nakedness. Eiko pointed out during the postperformance talk-back that while she and Koma used to be the youngest people in the room when they performed, now they are often the oldest. And still, I show my buttocks! added Koma. Possibly the biggest surprise of Eiko and Komas visit to Brown was the irreverent and boisterous post-performance talk. The audience was a bit taken a back at the performers liveliness after the glacial intensity of their dancing. Before the moderator had even finished asking a question, Eiko was flapping her hand impatiently for the microphone. Despite their problematic English (in Eikos words), they shifted the rooms energy entirely, deflecting reverential and academic questions with jokes. LOSTWAX On November 10th-13th at Perishable Theater, Lostwax Dance Company performed Seven Veils, featuring a single dancerthe acrobatic Kim Johnsonperforming in front of two perpendicular screens busy with text, video, and animation, while four singers standing on the stages perimeter sang a dissonant, operatic version of text taken from an experimental essay by Thalia Field. Seven Veils takes its inspiration as well as its text from Fields 2000 essay of the same title. Fields piece is in turn based on Salom, Oscar Wildes 1892 interpretation of the biblical story. In the bible, Salome is a seductress. She orders the head of John the Baptist on a platter when King Herrod grants her a wish in return for her transfixing Dance of the Seven Veils. Fields essay re-imagines Salome as manipulated and manipulative, Sal, a girl whose ill-fitting, blossoming sexuality becomes the unwieldy weapon that decimates her innocence before she even knows what she has done. Jamie Jewett, director of Lostwax, says he seeks to examine the visceral cusp between narrative and performance through technology, a combination he has explored since the ninetiesIn Rest/Less (2004) he used a video tracking program to trigger a sound score based on the location of dancers on the stage. In Blinking (2010) pulsing lights created a blinking effect over dancers movements. Seven Veils deviates from Jewetts past mediaheavy work with the added element of live music. For the most part, though, the relationship in Seven Veils between singers, dancer, and digital projection are fairly straightforward. Projections serve as backdrop, and the singers seem to narrate the dancers movements. Sometimes trying to watch all three felt overwhelming, and the near-constant overlap of text and choreography prevented the tightly coiled lucidity of Fields prose from landing in the space with quite the precision it manages on the page. But maybe this sense of strain between mediums is Jewitts intention in forcing text, performance, and digital media to share sometimes-uncomfortable territory. At one point, a videotaped actor plays the role of John the Baptist, while the dancers and singers file offstage. Live performers absent, for a brief moment the screen became the sole site of both movement and sound. As the audience relaxed into simply watching a film clip together in the darkness, this moment of ease served as a reminder of the difficulty of Jewetts task. He strives to create work both visually and narratively coherent that hangs precariously between digital media, text, and performancefinding both its missteps and its triumphs in their prickly overlap. AN ARCADE PROJECT On November 18th and 19th, Elise Nuding, who is also a member of Lostwax, debuted her own site-specific piece downtown at the vacant Providence Arcade, entitled An Arcade Project. Five dancers wove in and out of the staircases zigzagging over the arcades neoclassical faades, which have been closed to the public since 2008. Developers intended to incorporate the historic faade into a residential tower that was never built; now, both the Arcade and the lot beside it remain unused. For Elise, who graduated from Brown in 2011 with a degree in archeology, the arcade evokes the intoxicating confluence of historical time and current spatial presence that composes urban, and especially forgotten, places. Nuding told the Indy that she considers places like these inherently archeological. On her blog, which meticulously documents her thought process, Nuding wrote that she hoped the piece would facilitate different ways of understanding the pasts and presents of the site. The choreography evolved out of considerations of the buildings present architecture as well as its historical context. Nuding structured her choreographic process to be as subtly dependent on the environment of its creation as the arcade was to downtown Providence. The dancers often choreographed while listening to interviews Nuding conducted, or created movement inspired by words taken from her research into the history of the Providence Arcade, which is the oldest in the country. Architecturally, the arcades impenetrable faades gesture outward. Reflecting this, Nudings choreography often led the viewers eye away from the gray windows and out towards the street, where pedestrians walked past, occasionally stopping to join the small audience on the sidewalk. The dancers changed locations between the Weybosset and Westminster faades, tearing down the alley that ran beside the arcade when they needed to swap sides. The audience members were encouraged to follow the piece as it progressed from one side of the building to the other, or just stay put and wait for the performers to return. The beauty of the interaction between dance and architecture is their reciprocity; seeing them together illuminates the degree to which both draw upon spatial configuration as a locus for meaning. The permeable boundary between performance space and sidewalk made for a particularly beautiful interaction between movement and the space that surrounds it; two dancers danced deftly down the arcade steps and rematerialized immediately as two pedestrians once they hit the sidewalk, linking arms and walking briskly away. LIZZIE FEIDELSON B11.5 is a Delicious Movement. ast month the avant-garde modern dance duo Eiko and Koma gave two intimate, free performances in the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts. Local choreographers also took center stage in Providence in November; multimedia dance company Lostwax performed a combination of dance, digital media, and opera in Seven Veils at Perishable Theater, and Elise Nuding (B11) debuted a site-specific work An Arcade Project at the Providence Arcade downtown. All three were evidence that Providence has what modern dance needs to thrive. EIKO AND KOMA Japanese-born duo Eiko and Koma are obvious outliers in the world of modern dance. For one, neither of them has received any formal dance training. When they met, they were college students majoring in political science. But they craved something revolutionary, says Eiko. After being exposed to modern dance, they soon formed an exclusive artistic partnership. Since then, they have toured internationally, creating over 40 works in 35 years. They have received some of modern dances highest awards, as well as Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellowships. Delicious Movement is Eiko and Komas official title for the way they dance. In addition to white body paint and frequent nudity, its signature feature is its excruciatingly slow pace. An evening-length piece might consist of crossing from one side of the stage to the other. Watching them, time seems to simultaneously stretch and collapse. It is like watching a pot boil, or an ice cube melt. During their performance at Brown, Eiko and Koma performed an excerpt from Night Tide (originally performed in 1984). After a ten-minute exodus towards each other, the piece climaxed in a centerstage embrace. Writhing in slow motion, they gave off a disarming sense of being simultaneously human and animal. The way they tumbled incrementally to the ground seemed awkwardly personal, like witnessing a couple in private. But at the same time, their mute clawing at each other was reminiscent of a violent struggle between predator and prey. Eiko and Komas aging bodies occupy a unique place in the notoriously youthobsessed dance world. In an excerpt from

13

ARTS

01 DECEMBER 2011

ROCK-CRITICALLY CORRECT
by Jonah Wolf
Kevin Avery, Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson. Fantagraphics, 512 pages, $29.99 Chuck Eddy, Rock and Roll Always Forgets: A Quarter Century of Music Criticism. Duke University Press, 352 pages, $24.95 On November 17, charitybuzz.com, the self-described worlds first charity auction web site, began to offer, at an estimated $10,000 value (though the high bid at press time was only $3,001), a twoweek internship at Rolling Stone magazine. While the idea of selling an internship is both laughable and, for student journalists, a little frightening, it also proves the resilience of a particular American myth: the rock critic, as depicted in films like Almost Famous, who morphs from teenage fanatic to arbiter of taste; who reports back from the depraved life on the road; who gets paid to listen to music. Few writers lived this myth like Paul Nelson, the former Rolling Stone music editor and subject of Kevin Averys new Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson, which packages a biography with a collection of Nelsons work. Born in 1936 to small-town Minnesota Evangelicals so strict they burned his comic collection, Nelson claimed to have read every book in the town library. As soon as he got out of town, he wrote, I just embraced culture like it was Marilyn Monroe. At the University of Minnesota, Nelsons folk music fanzine, the Little Sandy Review, attracted the attention of classmate Robert Zimmerman, who (having re-named himself Bob Dylan) would later confess to stealing Nelsons Woody Guthrie records. Nelson got a job in New York with leading folk magazine Sing Out!, only to resign from this job in print after watching Dylan go electric at the Newport Folk Festival. Watching Dylan create a new identity in spite of the folk establishment, Nelson found a real-life equivalent to his fictional heroes, people like Jay Gatsby and Ross MacDonalds detective Lew Archer, struggling to remain honest in a world where (as Nelson was fond of quoting Jean Renoir) everyone has his reasons. Yoking his fortunes to Dylans, Nelson freelanced for the new rock press. He worked for five years for Mercury Records: first in publicity, where he treated his fellow critics to lunches of veal piccata; and then in Artist & Representation, where he saw his pet project, the New York Dolls, succumb to amateurishness and heroin. At Rolling Stone, where Nelson worked from 1978 to 1982, quarrels with publisher Jann Wenner eventually led to Nelsons resignation. Nelson pushed back against Wenners desire for shorter, more positive reviews, but he was plainly deluded in his demandsAvery reprints the full memofor a raise on top of complete editorial control. Indeed, Nelsons life was determined by a dangerous idealism. In his later years, he grew increasingly disengaged from reality, working at a SoHo video store and endlessly re-writing a screenplay that alternately depicted him as a World War II hero and Billy the Kid. Small wonder that Jonathan Lethem modeled Chronic Citys protagonist on Nelson: Nelsons bohemian eccentricitieshis daily outfit of newsboy cap, sunglasses, mustache, and Nat Sherman cigarettello; his daily meal of a burger and two Cokes (at the advent of New Coke Nelson stockpiled cans of the original formula)make his biography a more gripping read than the criticism that makes up the books second half. In Nelsons writing, the constant comparisons of musical heroes to literary ones grow tiring, especially after you notice that theyre all white men. Nelson wasnt just ignorant of black music: an early column downplayed the African-American influence on rock relative to abstract painting and poetry, modern dance, comic books, genre movies, the works of John Barth and others. The books most strident takedown, of Patti Smith, is also its only piece with a female subject. Yet Nelsons identification with his subjects strengthens his profiles, especially one that follows Nelson to California to stage an intervention for his alcoholic friend Warren Zevon. Nelsons particular bond with artists comes through in the admiring quotes Avery scores from Bruce Springsteen and Rod Stewart, as well as hours of interview transcripts where Nelson pours out his heart to Clint Eastwood and Leonard Cohen. (Ever the perfectionist, Nelson finished neither piece; Continuum recently published the Eastwood transcripts as Conversations with Clint [288 pages, $19.95].) In the end, Nelsons best epitaph comes from a sprawling essay that portrays the writer as a hermeneutic gumshoe hired to suss out the meaning of Dylans oeuvre: I know we need people like you because a world filled with romantics would be a disaster, but a world without them would be worse. I liked metal?) and my irritation grew when I opened it: Why were the Ramones relegated to number 138, and then compared invidiously to Aerosmith, AC/DC, and the Euclid Beach Band? But Eddys singular opinions, and the singular voice with which he expressed them (on the Ramones: Beach-baby falsettos and three chords chopping down skyscrapers as a way of life) gave me the first hint that there were individuals behind the star ratings that had been pushed over Paul Nelsons head at Rolling Stone. Eddys new collection, Rock and Roll Always Forgets, surveys the interests Eddy has chased throughout his career. As an aspiring sportswriter on a ROTC scholarship to the University of Missouri, Eddy discovered the Village Voices annual Pazz n Jop poll of music critics, which turned the statistics geek on to new wave rock. It was in 1978 when I saw the list, and I had no idea what a lot of the music on it was, Eddy told me over the phone from his home in Austin. And so it became like a puzzle. While performing his military service in Germany, Eddy attached a caustic letter to his Pazz n Jop ballot, drawing the attention of Voice music editor Robert Christgau, who summoned him to New York. As a freelancer, Eddy initially specialized in post-punk/protogrunge indie rock. But he quickly fell back on the music of his youth in 70s Detroit, where noisy white rockers like Bob Seger and Alice Cooper shared airwaves with the black rhythm kings of Parliament and the Motown roster. The metal Eddy lauds in Stairway to Hell combines loud guitars with funky swagger: the books top ten includes two acts, Teena Marie and the Jimmy Castor Bunch, conventionally labeled R&B. (More recently, Eddys found his boogie in mainstream country acts like Montgomery Gentry.) Eddy followed Stairway with 1997s equally radical Accidental Evolution of Rock n Roll: A Misguided Tour through Popular Music, which invented genres like Freud Rock and Fucking Sound Effect Records. I like the writing in Stairway to Hell better, he says now, although I like a lot of the ideas in Accidental. Theres definitely stuff in Rock and Roll Always Forgets that overlaps both of those books. Two chapters in Accidental Evolution explain the aesthetic behind Eddys work. Everything Rock: The trick, I guess, is to see how big a variety of junk you can pack into a small space without making it sound like youre just trying to pack a ton of junk in a small space. The Gladys Knight and the Pips Rule: Rock n roll works best for you when it seems both good for you and bad for you, nutritious and unnutritious at the same time. True to his word, Eddy uncovered inventiveness and emotion in the unassuming forms of bubblegum, disco, and adult contemporary. Rock & Roll Always Forgets begins with Eddys 1984 Pazz n Jop Ballot and ends twenty-five years later with an essay deriding the polls indie focus. Asked why someone whos pissed off so many other critics was so interested in a critics poll, Eddy replied, If it seems like I was answering other critics, thats because I paid attention to stuff like Pazz n Jop so much. A lot of it was a catalyst for me having strong opinions. These days, Eddy steers clear of the hype cycle, sampling new acts on streaming service Rhapsody (his main current employer) and snapping up cheap used vinylwhen we spoke, Eddy listed 18 records hed picked up at the Austin Record Collectors Convention the day before. In the rare instance when he does focus on an artists life, its Eminem, who forces Eddy to confront his own feelings toward both fatherhood and Detroit. (Paul Nelson, whose heroes represented an escape to coastal bohemia, rarely mentioned the wife and son he left in Minnesota.) But Eddys in-depth pieces wouldnt be as remarkable if they werent surrounded by the normal context of Eddys writing, a raucous party where records yell at each other across decades. Eddys wit requires brevity, as in the singles write-ups that form a chapter of the new collection. Richard Beck recently wrote in n+1 about the music website Pitchfork, whose influence is unquantifiable, though Beck, like Eddy, makes much of the growing overlap between Pitchforks year-end list and Pazz n Jop. Beck writes, Pitchfork couldnt develop intelligence on the individual level because the sites success depended largely on its function as a kind of opinion barometer: a steady, reliable, unsurprising accretion of taste judgments. Such a complaint might sound like small potatoes, but as long as people need heroes, young music lovers will need largerthan-life rock critics like Paul Nelson and Chuck Eddy. A world filled with JONAH WOLF B 12 would be a disaster, but a world without him would be worse.

Coming to terms with Chuck Eddys 1991 Stairway to Hell: The 500 Best Heavy Metal Albums in the Universe made me want to write criticism. I was peeved when my dad first brought the book home from a sidewalk vendor (Why did my dad think

THE COLLEGE HILL INDEPENDENT

OPINION

14

BROWN GOES
President Simmons on Difference
by Stephen Carmody Illustration by Robert Sandler

nce or twice a year, President Ruth Simmons speaks before the community at Brown University. In her welcome address to the newest class, she has the opportunity to offer guidance, but more importantly to speak to the values that underlie the educational endeavor of the university. I am going to speak to these addresses, because I believe they hold a wisdom (worth reiterating) that guides the very human, difficult, and everyday encounter with people who are different from us. President Simmonss first address, in Fall 2001, came under unusual circumstances. Earlier that year, before Simmons took office, a national controversy had erupted after the Brown Daily Herald ran an advertisement purchased by conservative activist David Horowitz. The full-page ad, Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Slavery is a Bad Idea and Racist Too! expressed Horowitzs position that black Americans owe white American Christians for the privileged position of living in this country. In response, student groups on campus trashed the 4,000 copies of the edition and demanded that the Herald donate the $725 received from Horowitz to minority student groups on campus. Uproar over the insensitive and bigoted speech consumed the campus, and drew the attention of the national media. When Simmons took the podium later that year, she took the issue on directly, urging the community to rely on the simple and enduring qualities and values that preserve peace and understanding among people, yet reminding students entering the university to be guardians of free expression. Its a freedom that Simmons demands preserves speech and protects us when we are, in turn, powerless. This balance of deliberate inquiry and protec-

tion of free speech lies at the heart of a difficulty people face everyday. Simply put, people are different, and attempts to compromise and interact respectfully often fall short. President Simmons intends the world of Brown to be a place where the encounter with differenceof world experiences, of education, of identity, of perspectiveis continual and unsettling. Her contention, as she put it in her welcome address from 2010, is that at Brown, you can experience differences first hand and learn for the rest of your lives how to live intelligently and inclusively in this wonderfully complex and fraught global reality. What makes the student population at Brown unified is an intention to learn. What makes the Brown community different from the complex and fraught global reality is that, in the latter, this spirit towards learning may be less valued than, say, just making a living. In parts of Simmonss language from these speeches, Brown seems like a tool to get one ready for the real world. In 2007, she put it rather pointedly: We deliberately shape the composition of our campus so that you can have that essential and increasingly important world experience that is dominated today not by sameness but by diversity. True, this speech is directed toward new students, and diversity is the most real world thing that most college first years experience. But the remark carries with it a connotation that Browns diversity is a right, crafted for a students benefitto be taken up for a time and then discarded. This instrumentalist viewseeing Brown as a tool to get you somewhere engenders a comfortable and superficial experience of difference. Taking Brown as a microcosm of the real world, or essen-

tializing difference into the categories an admissions process might cultivate, gets away from the difficulties people must struggle with just to understand one another. President Simmons goes beyond such superficial renderings of difference, but her suggestion always comes in the framing of a disposition. In her 2007 speech, Simmons suggests that the student body should be like a newborn who cannot make out the shapes of the mobile above his crib, and carry with it modesty and an ongoing doubt about whether they knew enough. In 2010, she refers to philosopher Martha Nussbaums idea of the spirit of the humanities. Simmonss enormous faith in the academic project as a human endeavor is clear. Its important to recognize that her understanding of how to engage with the difference in the world parallels her understanding of how to engage in academics. She is unapologetic about it. In 2007, she criticizes privileged people who display a lazy intellect. In 2001, she warns against by-ways that promise better rewards if one would but turn away from the search [for truth]. Pursuing this truth through constant encounters with difference and difficulty, seems to be Simmons guiding Truth. This disposition toward learning (distinct from staying in academia for the rest of ones life) is itself difficult to maintain. I encounter people who treat school like a task, and set their dreams on something else. I work with people in the real world who are truly happy with their family and work. I recognize that Simmons guiding Truth is not a truth recognized by all students at Brown. Furthermore, the celebration of difference that the school works forin the name of an educational

experiencecomes with several knock-off party favors. Products of a superficial encounter with difference include taglines like, There are no Truths! and Everything is Subjective! and Lets agree to disagree! President Simmons repeats the dual messages of respecting controversial free speech and encouraging inquiry every year because these ideals underlie Browns educational endeavor. In the place of some religious or humanist ethic that would reinforce our search to understand and respect each other, the educational model is held up instead. But these dispositions garnered in a classroom setting may be less plausible later in life, especially in the absence of a community that shares the goal of learning. It becomes much more difficult to compromise and respect outside of this commitment. Especially when I may already fall short of Simmonss 2007 challenge to avoid only seeking the presence of people we know who understand us, respect us and validate who we are. But Simmonss bargain seems to be a good one. Moments when people stop unsettling themselves, through the disposition and experiences Simmons speaks about, are the most frustrating. In these instances the difficult task of working with other people only becomes more impossible. And that seems dangerous. STEVE CARMODY B 12 is a knock-off party favor.

15 S C I E N C E

01 DECEMBER 2011

MARATHONS AND OUR BODIES


Facts and musings to consider before deciding to Run a Marathon
by Mara Renz Smith Illustration by Robert Sandler

he idea that there are health benefits to pushing our bodies past their limits is pure myth. Our bodies, organic gifts, are not mechanical structures that can be easily tuned and replaced. Once-injured scar tissue can linger for a lifetime and although surgical repairs abound, we do not yet live in the age of the bionic man. Science has shown that extreme forms of exercise, such as running marathons are not actually healthy. Subjecting your body to extreme pain and overuse, suppresses the immune and antioxidant system, and increases inflammatory response, as well as scarring and fibrosis of the heart. In the bodys desperate attempts to keep the heart beating at the greedy levels we want it to. Why do we ask so much of our body? The first couple miles of a marathon, for an experienced runner, might feel like a joyride. The energy from stored sugars easily slips from muscles into comfortable strides. Breath deep, the body slowly warms to flushed glow. Heaving flesh floods with blood in broad tides. The antioxidant system increases its work,

of triumph over the self. Proof of strength. Determination. Pedal down hard, stepping out with smiles, ignoring the steam pouring from the hood. Maybe the heart won't find its fabric scarred and hardened. Maybe DNA escapes the electron air raid of the free radicals without consequence. Maybe the body will work just as well as it did yesterday. Maybe. This is the body on extreme exercise. Welcome to the world of the marathon. I underwent my first orthopedic surgery on my ankle by the time I was 16 and a second mirrored procedure at 18. I was confined to bed rest. Twenty extra pounds of muscles, red tissue that had been alive with blood and health, withered into white lipidy soup. By the time they took the cast off, from the knee down, there was nothing but a shriveled up piece of bone with some slabs of skin wasted to weird wobbly flesh that refused to react to any effort of will. Five years later and some mornings you can still hear the chorus of my various treated and untreated injuries accumulated from four years of athletic training,

efits only exist if we can keep that up. You have to be active throughout your whole life to receive the benefits of exercise. It must be sustainable. The body is a resource of mobility, of health. The reckless, self-inflicted punishment on the body reduces the ability to exercise later in life. Joint injuries are common in extreme endurance exercise. With each joint injury comes an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis, the joint's worn down cartilage and excessive scar tissue preventing the normal cushioning of bone and limiting your potential to maintain an active lifestyle. Under normal conditions of life, the body produces supercharged ions that are incredibly reactive, eager to shed their charge. These are called free radicals and are the normal byproducts of a cell's energy use. Their tendency to "give up" electrons leads to chemical reactions that can include reactions with DNA that produce kinks in the double helix that prevent genes from being read correctly or whole deletions of genes that change the composition of the protein that a gene makes.

that are associated with diseases such as cancer and sporadic forms of neurodegenerative disease like ALS, Parkinsons Disease, and Alzheimers, as well as an increased rate of aging. In addition to risking DNA damage, running a marathon can also negatively impact heart health. Blood levels of heart protein are elevated post marathon, similarly to someone who has just sustained a heart attack. Although this increase in heart protein levels has not been clearly linked to heart damage, recent evidence has unveiled an increased incidence of heart muscle scaring in older athletes who appear to be in great health. There has also been evidence of an increased rate of "fibrosis" in aged marathon runners, a build up of collagen fibers along the heart muscle. This enlarges the heart, causing it to become stiffer and putting the runner at a greater risk of developing abnormal heart rhythms. In a study, mice that were subject to an exhaustive workout schedule simulating marathon-like conditions had significant scaring and fibrosis of the heart compared to more leisurely exer-

PUSHING YOURSELF TO THE LIMIT, SUBJECTING YOUR BODY TO EXTREME PAIN AND OVERUSE, SUPPRESSES THE IMMUNE AND ANTIOXIDANT SYSTEM, AND INCREASES INFLAMMATORY RESPONSE, AS WELL AS SCARRING AND FIBROSIS OF THE HEART.

combing the body of free radicals. The body now purified. Cleansed. The creation of energy from material flesh. Slow steady burn of acid. Stream of easy energy from stored sugar fades to a trickle. The brain starts to slow. The consumption of the body. First fat. Stores slowly drain. Body reeling for energy starts burning muscle, cannibalistic, breaking down hamstring, bicep, and heart, without discrimination. Body in paradox. Exhaustion sets in. The body asks for rest. Conquer the self, tame the body. The heart starts to scar, to protect it's fabric with thick fibers, toughening against trauma inflicted by the will. Antioxidant defenses now suppressed. Factory output of free radicals at maximum, they rome the body unrestricted. DNA mutated, left unfixed. Inflammation, wild fire flaring with each desperate pump of the heart. The body forgets as it struggles to meet the demands of the spirit. The brain now starved, sputtering. Push past pain regardless. Push to be strong. Push to be determined. To feel immortal. Cross the finish line to the next stage: recovery. Bits of torn heart float in a daze through blood thick with acid. Body filled with free radicals. The effects of a wartime economy: immune and antioxidant defense reeled down to minimum. Maybe there will be euphoria, a deep sense

a combination of ankles, hips and knees, that pop, crack, and groaning with every step. Is the ability to ignore our body's warning messages really a sign of personal strength? Why do we feel compelled to prove strength of will over flesh? A mastery over the body led to my own selfinflicted mutilation. I wish someone had been there to tell me: if it hurts that bad, for god's sake, stop running. Pushing through pain means pushing through your own flesh: ripped tendons, ligaments, and muscles. The benefits of living an active lifestyle are plentiful. Getting up and using your body for what it was made to do, to move throughout the world, is what will keep it healthy. This keeps the body agile, strong, this simple movement protects the brain and nervous system by promoting the filtering effects of our antioxidant system, which removes free radicals from our system, protecting our DNA, leaving us with a healthy body and a healthy mind. The movement of the body protects the psyche, helping stave off depression, anxiety, and stress. Exercise helps delay the onset of dementia and the process of aging. It keeps our bones healthy and dense, our muscles springy and layered, our heart strong and efficient. But these ben-

The body has machinery to correct these mutations, to maintain our DNA. The body also keeps a force on the offensive, the antioxidant system, a unit of molecular machines designed to eliminate free radicals before they can damage DNA. There is a clear difference between the heart healthy benefits of the regular exercise schedule that is recommended for training for a marathon, and the actual race day itself. Under extreme conditions produced by running a marathon, the level of free radical exposure is abnormally high and the body can't keep up with the amount of antioxidant defense and DNA repair necessary to maintain our genetic health. Running a marathon at a Olympian two-hour pace requires a 15-fold increase in the body's energy metabolism. Even at a layman's four-hour pace the body must maintain an extended 10-fold increase in metabolism, and thus must deal with a 10fold increase in free radical byproducts. Instead of increasing levels of antioxidant defense to those needed to neutralize the free radical produced, the antioxidant defense system is suppressed as the body focuses all of its energy on survival, on keeping the heart beating. This increase in free radicals combined with the body's reduced ability to protect its DNA increases the risk of developing changes in DNA

cised mice. The link between heart health and exercise isnt linear, so the increased mileage gained from marathon running does not give a person additional protection. Rather, increasing your workout schedule to an exhaustive one can have a negative health impact. Marathon running has become increasingly popular in the United States over the past several decades. In 1976 only 25,000 Americans ran a marathon, while in 2010, participation increased to over 500,000. Many people assume that pushing the body to it's limit is the epitome of good health. With increasing numbers of people participating in marathons for perceived health benefits, it is vital to make the recent discoveries in science easily accessible, so that potential marathon participants have a chance to consider the potential risk. The human body is a beautiful product of 500,000 years of evolutionary engineering. Our bodies not only reward us with mobility, but they also protect our mind and spirit, and deserve to be protected in turn. MARA RENZ SMITH B 13 cautions you.

THE COLLEGE HILL INDEPENDENT

FOOD

16

KOSHER THANKSGIVING
by Jonah Wolf Illustration by Robert Sandler

ast week, neoconservative Pam Geller warned Americans against a new threat: Butterball turkeys. Though all of the companys turkeys are certified halal for consumption by Muslims, not all are labeled as such, leading Geller to proclaim, In a little-known strike against freedom, yet again, we are being forced into consuming meat slaughtered by means of a torturous method: Islamic slaughter. I wonder what Geller would have made of the kosher turkey on my Thanksgiving tableafter all, the slaughter performed by a Jewish shochet is nearly identical to Muslim Dhabihah. My family followed our turkey with a vegan pumpkin pie from Whole Foodsnot for moral or health reasons, but because Jews have traditionally interpreted Deuteronomy 14:21 (Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mothers milk) to proscribe the combination of flesh with dairy. And though youre allowed to consume milk products (at my Thanksgiving, a cheese plate and an olive-parmesan tapenade) before eating animals, you have

JEWISH BRISKET
to wait exactly six hours before any dairy treats. For those who keep kosher, the rules can be less clear than the reasons. Many Jews seem to make up their own. My friends who dont eat pork or shellfish will eat other meats that arent certified kosher. My cousins keep kosher at home but not in restaurants It all goes in the same stomach! our Nana used to kvetch. Cultural historians ascribe Jews affinity for Chinese food to a willed disbelief that allows them to ignore the ground pork in their fried rice. Native Americans in the 19th century used to call traveling Jewish merchants egg-eaters they believed that shells protected hard-boiled eggs from unkosher contaminants in strangers homes. NBA player Amare Stoudemires chef buys kosher meat, but as he told Bon Apptit last month, If Amare had a good game, he might want crab legs, or maybe lobster macaroni and cheese. Unlike the strictest Jews, Ill eat in unkosher kitchenswhen I go out to eat, Im a vegetarian, unless theres fish on 5 pounds first-cut kosher brisket 4 onions, sliced 2 stalks celery 1 jar Heinz Chili Sauce 1 bottle of beer Preheat oven to 450F. Layer onions on the bottom of a baking dish and top with brisket, chili sauce, and celery (in that order). Bake uncovered for 40 minutes, or until you start to smell it. Pour in beer, cover dish, and reduce heat to 350F. Cook for two hours. Serve with grated horseradish.

the menu, in which case Im a pescetarian (rabbis dont consider fish meat). How long have you been a vegetarian? Is it for health reasons? Have you never had a hamburger? my companions inevitably ask, at which I reticently reveal my situation. If you are what you eat, then call me indecisive. Id love to have a diet that didnt require so much explanation, but I seem trapped between being a vegetarian and an omnivore. I cant read food blogs without being confronted by pork buns

or bacon doughnuts, but I couldnt put one in my mouth. Vegetarianism gives me moral high ground, but I couldnt turn down my moms brisket. Last week, Spanish breeders unveiled a kosher goose they claimed tasted exactly like pork. Guess Ill give it a shot.

17 L I T E R A R Y

01 DECEMBER 2011

by Be cca Le vinison

RAY
Ray is nineteen years old and he mows the grass. The grass only needs to be mowed once a week so the other days he does menial yard work with shears and rakes while Mrs. Kay watches him from the patio, peering over her pink toenails. The great golden Los Angeles sun beats down on Rays brow and the beads of sweat run down his brown skin. Mrs. Kay sips her juice and watches Ray, peeking over the top of the magazines. Ray walks up from the yard, up the winding stone stairs, standing over her. Mrs. Kay, I think Im done with the south hedges, he says. She holds her hand over her eyes, squinting. Ray, move over this way a little bit. Youre right in front of the sun. Oh, sorry Mrs. Kay. Why dont you take a break? Im sure its awfully hot down there. It sure is. But I dont need a break, I think Im just going to go home. Unless you want me to do anything else. The south hedges are done. Why dont you help yourself to something in the fridge? Weve got lemonade and ginger ale and I think there are some beers that Joe left. You drink beer right? Thats alright. I dont want to take one of Mr. Kays beers. Oh dont worry about it. He doesnt care. Thats alright, I should probably get home. I insist. He shuffles to the refrigerator and back. Have a seat, she says. What did you study in college? History. British history. And what are you going to do with your degree? I dont know. Im looking around at a few positions in the museums right now. So youre not leaving town? Probably not for a while. He sips on his beer, squinting at the glittering green lawn. The plastic toys float slowly in the pool, bobbing on the waves. Mrs. Kay throws back her golden hair. She fidgets with her top and Ray notices the mole in the middle of her chest. He wipes the grass trimmings off his feet, making a moist pile of green. You have a girlfriend, Ray? No. Why not? Youre such a charming young man. He laughs nervously. I dont know. I wish everyone thought that. Mrs. Kay stretches out her calves, crisped from the sunshine. The rush hour traffic bellows from the boulevard. Mr. Kays Mercedes rolls up the long driveway. They hear the door slam. They hear the slick leather shoesteps stepping up the stairs to the patio. The setting sun cuts his face out sharply. Hi dear, Mrs. Kay chimes. Katie, he says. His voice is soft. Have you gotten off your ass all day? Well, I helped Ray out for a little while. He needed a hand. Ray? Yes dear. This is Ray. Our gardener. Ray nods to Mr. Kay. He rubs his toe in the pile of grass trimmings. Youre the kid who mows the lawn? He does more than that! Mrs. Kay says. Like drinking my beers? Or getting hit on? Ray looks into his beer bottle sheepishly. Were talking about school, as a matter of fact. Ray is a history graduate. Ray rubs his calloused hands together. I think Im going to go now, he says. He starts to stand up but Mr. Kay motions for him to stay. No, Ray, I insist. Enjoy yourself. She squints up at her husband. Mr. Kay walks inside and throws his briefcase in a chair. He makes himself a drink. He watches Rosa, the maid, dusting the living room furniture. She smiles politely. Rosa, Mr. Kay says, Im a bit worried. He chews on the ice, cracking it in his teeth. I think Katie is having an affair with the gardener. Excuse me? Rosa says. No comprende. Never mind, Mr. Kay says. You know that kid Ray? Ah, si. she says, looking puzzled. She scratches her chin. Extrao. I thought she was screwing John the pool boy.

L A : S E X S E L L S

AN ODE TO PARIS
To the Queen of the meme, the first on the scene. Though your irrelevance was never quite lost on me. You dominated my brain waves, your life filled up my own days Your blatant self promotion, undertaken with such devotion It was quite a spectacle to see The first of your kind, a star on the half shell, brought forth from the frothy seas of the internet, the western winds of TMZ. More akin to an infection than a celebrity, you got under my skin. I had that fever, Paris Rash And why, I still cant explain. Because that Bra top is atrocious, your tone is grotesque; your perfume smells like prostitutes, and your talents bad at best. Yet it is with determination that I fought my fascination. And for that, Meme queen, I do bow down. Parasitic Paris! How the magazines did adore you. bathed in a sickly, pinkish glow that came from you, on to you, from inside you, apart from you, within you, around you, behind you, outside you. Who knows, maybe youre part firefly. Or maybe an alien, separated from us by time and space, sent from a more advanced planet to distract the world with the release of a new sex tape! Oh Paris! Oh Paris!! The queen of the meme, Napoleonic in your campaign for fame, (you wouldnt stop till the world was yours), with delusions of grandeur to match. You burst on to the scene like nothing wed seen and you left in a similar fashion. Some say youre over, and I cant disagree. Your plummet from social consciousness was rather dramatic Yet I really must commend, you were always a bit more than just a trend, but even the most esteemed memes have to end I wont give you much, but the facts remain as such: your power was hard to deny. Perhaps because you were the one who thought you were so damn fly.

in listery footage 1952 of aired fo human bir th is r the public te rst time on levision colorad in o. viva la denv er.

this day