Lang Students Say, Yeah Right
Busy even on a Sunday: the Lang Parking Garage. Photo by Rob Buchanan
By Ben Kelly
Earlier this semester, Lang Junior Ana Harsanyi locked her bike outside the 12th street entrance to Lang. When she came back after class to ride it home, the collapsible Dahon was gone.
"I kind of figured it would get stolen at some point. It's inevitable in New York," Harsayani said. "But I was surprised it would happen at school, where there are so many cameras and people. I've parked it in a lot shadier places."
New School Director of Security Tom Illiceto maintains that students shouldn't worry about their bikes being stolen.
"We have had relatively very few thefts reported," he wrote in an email. "Lang, as with all of the buildings, is safe."
But Lang, with its upscale location and highly visible security measures, may be less safe than it seems, especially when it comes to bikes. The Security Office says that only one bike has been stolen from outside Lang, and that in the last year, four bikes have been stolen from the New School. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that number could be much higher.
"It seems like it's pretty common," Harsanyi said. "I alone have heard of a handful" of thefts.
Writing professor Rob Buchanan had his bike stolen from outside the 11th street entrance earlier this semester. Like Harsanyi's, Buchanan's bike was locked.
The thief used a two-by-four, Buchanan wrote in an email. "I know because I found the board on the ground nearby, along with my bent-into-a-pretzel Krypton lock."
The Security Office has never apprehended a bike thief. Illiceto says he doesn't know if the thief or thieves are likely to be students or not, or whether they live in the neighborhood or come to the school to steal bikes.
"We can't say for certain who is responsible for the thefts," he wrote. "These types of incidents are crimes of opportunity."
A Security Officer at 65 Fifth Ave., who asked not to be named, said that the victims of bike theft weren't taking the proper precautions. "Thieves are smart," he said. "They come by, maybe with pliers, maybe a [bolt]-cutter, and take off the locks."
Some bike thieves are actually involved in larger operations, according to a report by the organization Recycle-A-Bicycle, a bike advocacy group and used bike and repair shop in the East Village and DUMBO. “A healthy underground market exists” on Avenue A, the report said, including the Flea Market on 11th Street and Tompkins Square Park.
Thieves steal whole bikes or parts and then sell them to used bike stores or individuals who sell bikes on the sidewalks. The bikes or parts are usually repainted and reconstructed to look new. Most used bike stores do not track their bikes, so even the most moral of bike enthusiasts may unknowingly be purchasing a black-market bike.
One common element in the crimes does seem to be the ease with which the lock can be removed. Harsanyi had locked her bike with the notorious U-Lock, which are frailer than one might expect. The Web site Engadget.com has a video of the lock being hacked with a ballpoint pen. Buchanan, for his part, used an inexpensive, flexible cable lock.
Last year, two Lang students who lived in the East Village witnessed a man outside their apartment sit down on the sidewalk and proceed to take apart three bikes. No one who passed seemed interested in the man throwing unwanted bike parts in the air and stuffing handlebars and seats into his bag, so the students called the police—who, after a short chase, apprehended the man on a nearby corner. None of the bikes that were demolished seemed to have been locked securely.
"You have a cheap lock, the bike's going to get stolen," the security officer said.
Illiceto offered similar advice, and advised locking the bike in "highly trafficked public areas"--like the sidewalks outside Lang.
Harsanyi has her own advice to Lang bike owners. "You probably shouldn't park your bike at school," she said.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Lang Students Say, Yeah Right
Stop for a second. Breathe in deep. Find your power animal. Repeat to yourself: “Just two more weeks. Just two more weeks.” Soon enough, you’ll be done.
For all the coffee we’ve sneaked into the UCC, the snarky little emails we’ve been sending each other, the way we’ve all shamelessly disregarded our deadlines and how late we’ve all been staying up night after night, you’d swear that we here at Inprint were poised to go for each other’s jugulars at any moment. We can only imagine how some of you are feeling. Finals bring out the worst in everyone.
But let’s not completely lose touch here. It’s less than two weeks before winter vacation. Soon, we’ll all be lounging in La-Z-Boys, sofas or plushy bucket chairs, whether in our dorm rooms, apartments or far, far away from this frigid, windy city, sipping copious amounts of hot apple cider, biting the heads off of sugary-sweet little gingerbread men and getting totally shit-faced on special eggnog. And don’t forget those freshly baked brownies, still smokin’ when you pull them out of the oven!
That’s what winter break is all about—blowing off steam. There’s plenty of steam to let loose, living here in New York. Be patient, though: freedom is just around the corner.
We know, we’ll all be back here on January 19th, ready or not, to start the drudgery again. But let’s think positively about it. Spring will be so much better after this nice, long breather. Plus, before you know it, summer will be near—and you’ll have yet another opportunity to take it easy and drink a lot of Colt 45.
Photographed by Lorraine Adams & Written by Peter Holslin
Look at Iran’s coverage in major U.S. newspapers and you’ll find that stories on culture, arts and everyday lives are virtually nonexistent. Unfortunately, most Americans see Iran through a prism of nuclear threat and radicalism.
Recently, to give her Advanced Nonfiction students a new perspective, Lang journalism professor Lorraine Adams brought in these photographs, taken while she was traveling through Iran researching an upcoming novel.
Iran is rich with Persian history and culture. Farsi is a beautiful, ancient language; poetry is especially cherished in Iranian culture. Truck-drivers often write romantic poetry on their mud-flaps and women and children spend holidays visiting shrines for celebrated poets.
Often, Adams says, Iranians hate the repressive government and love Americans.
Young Boy in Kalat.
Woman in Torbat-e-Jam, Iran, near the Afghanistan border.
Teenage girls in Shiraz.
Farmer who lives a few miles from Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facility at Natanz.
Young girl in Kalat.
Boy selling cotton candy at bazaar in Kerman.
By Josh Kurp
Best Five Songs:
5. “New York, New York”
“I remember Christmas in the blistering cold / In a church on the Upper West Side / Babe, I stood there singing / I was holding your arm / You were holding my trust like a child.” Sometimes it’s best to let the lyrics do the clever comment for you.
4. “An Old Fashioned Christmas”
Frank Sinatra Christmas Collection
Ol’ Blue Eyes would “trade that whole Manhattan skyline” just to have an “old fashioned Christmas back home.” I guess he’s never spoken to the Canadian guys selling Christmas trees outside my dorm.
3. “Chicago Seemed Tired Last Night”
Alluding to the #1 song of this list, lead vocalist Craig Finn sings, “They faked their way through “Fairytale of New York” / When the band stopped playing, we howled out for more.”
2. “Dominick, the Italian Christmas Donkey”
The Very Best of Lou Monte
A song about everyone’s favorite animal (the donkey) mentioning everyone’s favorite borough (Brooklyn). But did you know that this song had a sequel called “Pasquale, the Italian Pussycat?” I wonder why it never became popular.
1. “Fairytale of New York”
If I Should Fall from the Grace of God
Move over, Bing Crosby. Outta the way, Rudolph. Fuck off, The Muppet Christmas Carol. This is a great Christmas song (even if its protagonist is spending Christmas “in a drunk tank”).
Best Five Movies:
5. Santa Clause Versus the Christmas Vixens
I wonder who wins.
4. Black Christmas
The most shocking thing about this movie is that it’s not blaxploitation!
3. A Little Christmas Tail
Starring Buck Adams (of such films as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Breast, Intercourse with the Vampire, and Great Balls on Fire), this Christmas classic is sure to bring out the freak in everyone.
2. Ernest Saves Christmas
As if going to camp, going to jail, getting scared stupid, going to school, going Africa and jail wasn’t enough!
1. Santa Clause Conquers the Martians
It’s never good when the title gives away the ending of a movie.
Garage band: Elphinstone
By Chelsea Werner
In a music scene where bands are post-post-punk or new-new-wave, Rafael Khatchurian is attempting a more contemporary revival. Khatchurian, a Lang junior concentrating in philosophy and SHI, is guitarist in Elphinstone, a largely instrumental four-piece band with songs that escalate gently into crashing sounds reminiscent of '90s rock and shoe-gaze. Begun in 2005, the recent addition of a singer signals new and improved tracks expected on Myspace in January.
Q: Where are you from?
A: We’re based in south Brooklyn, where we grew up (except Joe, he’s a Chicago guy). The good thing is that the hipsters haven’t moved down Bedford Avenue yet.
Q: What does the band name mean?
A: Originally called Elephant Stone, after a song on the Stone Roses’ first album, it changed because of the risk of getting sued. Elphinstone is a fictional town from Lolita, by Nabokov, one of my favorite novels.
Q: Where do you record?
A: Recording is done in my basement, where we rehearse. The quality is pretty bad. We’re looking to record something professional as soon as possible.
Q: How did you meet?
A: Mike (drums), Paul (bass), and I were friends in high school and played together. Those projects never went anywhere and, prior to forming Elphinstone, we only played one show.
Q: Do you value instrumentation over lyrical content?
A: In the beginning, we had some lyrics written for the songs, but focusing on the music at the time was the best thing we could do. Since Joe joined, the lyrics have been given a bigger role, which is a good thing; he’s a good writer. Often, lyrical content can make or break a song for me.
Taylor Mead reading O’Hara. Photo by Yony Leyser
By Yony Leyser & Josh Kurp
A large crowd gathered at St. Mark’s Church on November 29 to commemorate what would have been the 80th birthday of Frank O’Hara. A New York School poet often lumped with John Ashbery and Kenneth Koch, O'Hara died in a dune-buggy accident in 1966 on Fire Island, at age 40. At St. Marks, contemporary poets Anne Waldman, Taylor Mead and Bill Berkson read selections of O’Hara’s work including piece from his first book of poetry A City Winter and Other Poems, while adding their own stylistic interpretations to each piece. They also shared O'Hara stories before and after each poem, which gave personal background to this provocative poet. The event, which O'Hara family helped arrange, was the first of a two-part celebration, which continued the next day with a show at MoMA.
Peter Godwin pretended to be a priest to report on massacres in Zimbabwe. Photo by Monica Uszerowicz
By Nadia Chaudhury
From crossing the Silverstream River in former Rhodesia, strapped to his nanny’s back, to fighting on the losing side in Zimbabwe’s civil war, Eugene Lang journalism professor Peter Godwin has come a long way to New York City.
Godwin, 48, with pale blue eyes behind rimless glasses and dark hair flecked with gray, offers his student’s guidance with his intense, worldly experiences as a freelance journalist across the globe.
Godwin got his start in journalism in a different way than most others in his field. The son of British expatriates, he was born in Rhodesia (now called Zimbabwe) and spent his first 19 years there. Thanks in part to the country’s political instability, he left to study at Cambridge University in England. He soon found himself back in Africa for his post-graduate thesis research. But before leaving Britain, he contacted several publications and asked if he could submit articles about the journey.
“I didn’t know anything about journalism particularly, but it just struck me as it might be a fun thing to do,” Godwin recalled, sitting a classroom in the 12th Street building. “My friends all mocked me because I was doing it with sort of a blotchy ballpoint pen on school notepaper.”
He mailed his handwritten articles to publications to The Sunday Times, not knowing whether they would be published. After the trip, when he reached his parents’ house in Zimbabwe, he found out that The Times actually ran his pieces as a series which then led to a freelance job as a foreign correspondent for The Sunday Times. Over the next ten years, the job took him all over Africa and Eastern Europe.
Among the many stories he broke was the Matabeleland massacres in Zimbabwe in 1983, where the government-sponsored militia tortured or killed everyone they felt were rebels while also killed many innocent white farmers.
“If we could highlight it and actually blow the whistle on this thing, then there would be a good chance we could give them some pause and that it would stop,” he said. To report the story, he visited violence-plagued rural villages that were off-limits to the press. At one point, he dressed as a priest and accompanied three nuns to witness what was happening. That’s when he discovered a mine where soldiers dropped off corpses daily. He smelled “the unmistakable stink of rotting human,” he wrote in Mukiwa—A White Boy in Africa, his award-winning memoir.
By then, Godwin was a wanted man by the government, and soldiers were on the look-out. He managed to drive away from the site. Later, he picked up an unassuming hitchhiking solider. The sergeant at the next roadblock told the soldier they were looking for a journalist dressed as a priest, and because the soldier said Godwin was his good friend, he managed to escape.
“I was younger and it was one of those things where afterwards, in the cold light of day, you kind of think ‘What was I thinking?’” he recalled. “Yeah, I got out okay and it was then a whole different species of problems. Once I had written the piece, it got very, very hot for me, and there was a serious death threat to my life and I had to get out of Zimbabwe.”
Later in his career, Godwin didn’t stick to the written word—he produced documentary films for the BBC, covering a wide-range of topics, like Pakistani politics, Filipino pirates and the Thai sex industry. He won several awards for his work.
Now, he is focused on teaching. “If you’re writing books, you become very misanthropic and completely de-socialized,” he said. “Teaching is a very good antidote to that.”
“There’s no substitute for real curiosity and I think a lot of good journalism starts from that basis,” he said, about journalistic ambitions. “And that includes approaching subjects that you don’t know anything about.”
Students in Godwin’s course, Foreign Correspondence: Windows on the World, typically research a specific area of the world, like China or Indonesia, to find the beginnings of a story. One student arrived at an opium field in Afghanistan while another went on a heavy metal festival circuit in Sweden.
After teaching at Princeton and Sarah Lawrence, Godwin found that, “Lang students, to me, seem to be more cosmopolitan. They’re slightly edgier and don’t feel like the world owes them anything. I like the fact that it’s not a campus university. The kids go out the front door here and they’re in New York City.”
Currently, Godwin is working on a screenplay of Mukiwa, to be filmed next year in South Africa. His next memoir, *When a Crocodile Eats the Sun,* is centered on the “disintegration of [my] family set against the collapse of the country,” of Zimbabwe.
After being exiled, Godwin was, to his great relief, allowed back in. This suited him: he can’t seem to escape the country and the continent.
“I miss Africa tremendously. It’s not just a nostalgic thing. If I’m not there after a while, I start to ache for it,” he said.
Written & Photographed by Matthew Mann
The new printer at Parsons—the Z-Corporation Spectrum Z510--looks something like an alien egg incubator, or a bread maker. In a way, it's a little bit of both: it converts digital drawings into three-dimensional objects using starch. (The results, unfortunately, are not edible.)
"It uses a regular ink-jet printing head," Dave Marin, a goateed product designed instructor, told [i]Inprint[i]. "The rest of the parts are manufactured by Z-Corp."
The process takes several hours, Marin said. "Most people just leave it on overnight and come back in the morning to pick their pieces up."
When they come out of the "printer," the preliminary 3-D renderings are fragile and dusty. They are used to make molds for the final products.
The Z510 can't do everything; I wanted it to build a copy of myself, but it couldn't. Still, it has some useful applications. Marin displayed a number of Z510 "prints" at Parsons, most of them student projects. The pieces included squirt bottles, large models of ball bearings, speaker cabinets that look like sumo wrestlers and giant calculators.
Just don't expect to see it gracing college dorm-rooms anytime soon. The manufacturers suggested retail price: $49,900.
Untitled” by Kim Iacono
By Liza Minno
Here at "What's The Haps?" we like to kid around and have some fun (we do have fun, right?) Anyways, it’s the holidays now and you know what that means: seriously copious consumption.
That's NOT FUN, gentle reader. Not fun at all. American over-consumption is not fun for sweatshop laborers, for the environment, or for keeping any semblance of personality in our neighborhoods or originality in our thought. Marketing is big business and--not to be dramatic here--it’s dropkicking your soul, body-slamming your mind and sucker punching your earth!!! We (Americans) are expected to add one million extra tons of waste to garbage piles in the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years. We’re also each expected to spend $791 this holiday season on various crap that some wealthy capitalist has manipulated us into believing has something to do with love, affection, family, patriotism or religion. So stand up, shake off those lies, and start consuming responsibly! Seriously!
Don't worry, though: being socially responsible doesn’t mean you can’t have some serious fun...
Get It While It's Hot! Sat 12.02 - 12.16 (Closing 12.16 7-11pm) @ AdHocArt, 49 Bogart Street, East Williamsburg/Bushwick, Brooklyn (Take the L to Morgan Avenue, get out at the Bogart St. exit). Get It While It's Hot is an exhibition of fine arts, film for thought, and live music, inspiring all of the senses through an exploration of consumption. Promoting the talents of local multimedia artists and the idea of consuming with a conscience, this event is open to the public for only two weeks, so come BUY! Half of the art-sales proceeds are donated to Trees Not Trash (treesnottrash.org), a local non-profit organization. The bazaar guides us into a world of delicious, mindful, thrifty shopping, offering eclectic, hand crafted, fair trade and socially responsible products and affordable art. Did we mention the cheap drinks?! Anyone!
Brooklyn Fair Trade has a booth at this year’s Bryant Park Holiday Market. The easiest way to find the booth will be to enter Bryant Park via the 6th Ave. entrance, halfway between 40th St. and 42nd St. The booth will be located just inside the entrance and near the fountain. Come to shop and get your ice skate on for FREE while you’re there. M-F: 11AM-8PM; Sat: 10AM-9PM; Sun: 10AM-6PM, through December 31st.
MF Gallery (157 Rivington St.) is getting ready for the 2006 MF TOYS SHOW. Do you know what to get for that childhood-nostalgic friend of yours? Your kids? How about a hand-made toy that’s also a one-of-a-kind work of art instead of a plastic or vinyl mass-marketed piece of doo doo? The fourth annual MF Gallery Art Toy Show will include toys by: MF Toys, Sauerkids, Angie Mason, Mike Maas, Annette E. Padilla, Aaron Tompkins, House Of Ingri, Les Barons, Tyson Summers, Parskid, Queenie, Cupco!, Creature Co-op, Jenny Harada, Meredith Dittmar and many many more. MF TOYS SHOW: through December 22, 2006.
By Josh Kurp
In celebration of a New York Times story that brought national attention to the AIDS virus twenty-five years ago, The New School held an event dubbed "AIDS + 25" at 55 W. 13th St. on December 1, World AIDS Day. At the event, a panel of, as moderator Henry Scott put it, “five guys and a dame,” discussed the state of AIDS activism in the world today, which much of the panel agreed is non-existent in comparison to in the mid-1980s.
The panel of six individuals all had an expertise in regards to AIDS; some were doctors, some administrators, others activists.
Scott, who looks like a bald, more buff version of Tim Curry, began the evening by citing some alarming statistics. Worldwide, AIDS has now killed 30-million people and another 40-million have been infected with the HIV virus. Half of all AIDS cases today are found in blacks, while the percentage of women among those infected has risen from 8% in 1995 to currently 27%.
On the subject of activism's recent decline, Dr. Chris Beyrer, an epidemiologist active in HIV/AIDS prevention, spoke about the way it was when AIDS first came into the public eye in the 1980s. "In the 80s, street activism prompted a response from government that was necessary," said Dr. Beyrer.
Adding that people with AIDS are now forced into a "passive role" because "a lot of the battles have won," he pointed out that because AIDS is more treatable now than it was then, there has begun to be, as Boris Powell, program director of Gay Men of African Descent, said, "apathy across the board."
Dr. Liza Solomon, founding member of AIDS Legislative Committee in Maryland, offered some analysis of the apathy Powell spoke about.
There is an "arc to every activism," Solomon said, "and right now, we’re on the downturn," because of what she termed, "HIV/AIDS fatigue."
"The community most affected has least amount of time and energy to fight it," she added.
"White men had forces to come further because of resources, while women and blacks had to go underground," noted Powell, who is African-American, in response.
As the discussion advanced, a sense of aggression against society—at one point, Dr. Jacobs said, "We say HIV-positive instead of HIV-infected"—and especially against the government could be felt among the audience.
Dr. Kent Sepkowitz, a special medical advisor for New York Department of Health, used the phrase "Mission Accomplished" to mock the idea that AIDS has been beaten, as President Bush used it aboard the U.S.S. Lincoln to describe the United States’ "victory" in Iraq in 2003.
But Dr. Sepkowitz did add that "Mayor Bloomberg has been progressive" in the battle against the HIV virus.
"There is a condom distribution shortage in the world," Dr. Beyrer said, slyly alluding to the Bush administration. In the United States, the need for condoms during sex (which, according to statistics, the average American adult male has 58 times a year) is well known. In other countries, learning about condoms and getting access to them is not as easy.
"The United States is currently supplying only three condoms per adult man, per year, to the world," Beyrer said, "which just isn’t enough."
As the talk wound down, Dr. Sepkowitz hoped to break the depressing tone of the discussion. He said that New York City is moving rapidly toward "over-the-counter testing, which will hopefully be available in 18 months."
It was a rare moment of optimism on an otherwise gloomy evening.
Illustration by Jeremy Shlangen
By Leijia Hanrahan
During the last month or so, there has been a veritable uproar over two instances of police brutality in this country. The United States is shocked that its law enforcement is capable of such heinous abuses of power but those who know those abuses first-hand, though, are likely to be shocked that any of this comes as such a surprise. That is to say, police brutality doesn’t disappear from the streets just because it disappears from the headlines.
On November 14th, UCLA student Mostafa Tabatabainejad was handcuffed and then
repeatedly stunned with a taser for not showing his ID at the university library—when, according to eyewitnesses, he was already on his way out. Then, on November 25th, an unarmed Sean Bell of Queens, NY, and two companions, were shot 50 times by three undercover officers outside a strip club that happened to be under preliminary investigation, in the early hours of the morning of Bell's wedding day. Bell was killed, his friends were badly wounded, and Bell’s fiancé was left to care for the couple's two children.
These incidents sparked a controversial debate in the media over the resurgence of police brutality and racial profiling. In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg publicly stated that 50 shots is "excessive" and "unacceptable," and emphasized the necessity of an investigation. In L.A., the UCLA administration said Tabatabainejad was defying basic security protocol, saying he had been physically aggressive, even though dozens of eyewitnesses confirm otherwise. Bob McManus reasoned in a recent New York Post piece that the NYPD makes over 350,000 arrests a year—with these numbers, we should all be quite impressed that innocent men aren't slaughtered more often.
McManus' report - and many others like it - would seem to suggest that instances of police aggression ("brutality" is a word carefully avoided) are few and far between. In fact, it is only adequate media coverage which is a rarity.
On November 1st, in Greenwich Village, Shakur Trammel, who is transgender, and two other African-Americans were beaten and arrested in front of dozens of witnesses for peacefully expressing their outrage over the recent assault of an African-American woman by a 6th precinct officer. When Trammel asked to be placed in a different cell because of the vulnerability to the harassment that transgendered people often face, her request was ignored. She and her co-arrestees were denied the medical attention they visibly needed.
On November 29th, a protest was held outside the 6th precinct, called in part by FIERCE!, a Transgender, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two-Spirit, Queer, and Questioning youth of color group. For this, there has been a small degree of city-wide attention—but the incident is still virtually unknown on any broader of a scale.
What has been even more obscured by popular media is a number of other deaths at the hands of law enforcement. For instance, it is widely believed that the shooting of Amadou Diallo in February 1999 was the most recent unjustified murder by the NYPD. In fact, according to the Stolen Lives project, there have been at least a dozen police killings in New York City since 1999, which have later been proven unjust. One example is the murder of Larry Cobb in August 1999, who was suspected of having broken into a Jeep but was complying with police orders and had no violent criminal record. Every year, the October 22nd Coalition holds a demonstration to draw attention to the ongoing trend of police brutality. Every year, they have new cases to draw on.
The truth is that people experience police brutality every day—most of them are the poor, queer, transgendered and people of color. But no community is wholly immune. On top of that, murders by law enforcement happen several times a year, usually garnering only minor media attention. So, it is not the fact that these two recent incidents occurred, but that the mainstream press has acknowledged them that we should be surprised.
By Jen Kolic
As the year draws to a close, the Bush Administration is crumbling like a proverbial piecrust. Or a junkie in need of a fix. What better time to look back at its origins? If you’re expecting a fluffy holiday piece, flip ahead to arts or something. But if you’re curious about which mental hospitals Bush culled to build his administration, grab a mug of Jack & cocoa and settle down around the ashtray, kids…
Let’s start with Robert Gates. Sure, he’s no Rummy, but that might be the only good thing about him. That, and his arrival means Bush knows he’s in for the beating of his political life. If you think your Secretary of Defense is going to be interrogated at length in the Senate about an illegal war, you want your Secretary of Defense to be a guy like Robert Gates. He basically acted as Regan’s human shield during Iran-contra, and that’s probably all he’s doing here; he’s just going to make sure Bush and Cheney aren’t blamed for anything too heinous.
Everyone knows that White House Press Secretary Tony Snow is a former Fox News commentator. But of course, this is American politics, and there’s more to it than that. In the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, Cheney told anyone who would listen (well, okay, mostly NBC) about the 9/11-Iraq connection: Mohamed Atta, the head hijacker, met with an Iraqi intelligence official in Prague mere months before the attacks. He said it explicitly at least three times between December 2001 and September 2002, despite the fact that the CIA was telling the White House that no such meeting ever happened. Four years later, when even an ignorant clod like Cheney could see that we had fucked up the Middle East even worse than Southeast Asia, he told Tony Snow in an interview on Fox that the administration “never made the case” that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11. Tony Snow promptly leapt onto the Vice President’s lap, licking his hands and face, wagging his stumpy tail.
Similarly, we all know about Cheney’s connections to Halliburton, which caters to the oil and gas industries, but what about Condoleezza Rice’s stint on the board of directors at Chevron, an energy behemoth engaged in every aspect of the oil industry? Sure, she was also Vice President of the San Francisco Bay chapter of the Boys and Girls Club of America, but they didn’t name a goddamn oil tanker after her. Toss in Transamerica, Charles Schwab, and Hewlett Packard (currently involved in a personal-info selling scandal), and she’s got a corporate history with almost as many conflicting interests as Cheney.
James A. Baker, co-founder of the Iraq Study Group, has roots in the Regan and Bush Sr. Administrations, but more recently he halted the 2000 Florida recount. And after such a huge, selfless favor, how does the president repay him? By referring to his Iraq Study Group as just one voice among many. Before the group's sprawling, 79-point report was even released last week, Bush was already talking it down—that’s what they get for hinting at timetables. Baker worked for Bush’s father, and then helped him nab the election. He’s not in any position to evaluate the president objectively and Bush isn’t going to take Baker seriously, anyway.
But no matter. The Bush Administration is taking casualties almost as fast as the Times can publish classified documents. Rummy’s leaving and Bolton’s giving up; who’s smart enough to get out next? The rats are fleeing, but Bush and Cheney are determined to go down with the ship.
University Student Senate Reorganized
By Rob Hartmann
For the past two years, Lang student Brittney Charlton and Carey Sellin-Vetter, of The New School for Social Research, have been working on a common goal: developing an effective, university-wide student government.
The two, co-chairs of the fledgling university student senate, say this semester marked a significant turning point. The group redrafted its constitution and met with the university’s Board of Trustees, who Charlton said will give the University Student Senate official recognition by the close of the semester. Both Charlton and Sellin-Vetter are confident that the reorganization will improve student influence with administrators.
”As the university is becoming more centralized, so too is the student government,” said Charlton, explaining that students across New School’s divisions need a unified body in order to address issues at the university-wide level, such as the campus master-plan, housing and tuition increases. To make the most impact and create a succinct student voice, the USS will make a statement rather than all the individual student governments.
Sellin-Vetter added, “I think that without the USS, the centralization of the New School would have disastrous effects on the ability of the student body to have its concerns considered by the university.”
The biggest single change: In the past, USS membership consisted of two representatives from each of the university’s eight divisions, in addition to a four-person executive board. However, following advice from the Board of Trustees, the new USS constitution will stipulate that each division’s representation be proportional to its student body size. Thus, Charlton said, each division will be guaranteed one seat and then, depending on its size, will be allowed a number of extra seats to be decided.
University administrators say they, too, are pleased by the prospect of a revamped student government. “This is a tremendous opportunity for the students to have a voice in what happens here at the university,” said Roger Ward, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs at the New School.
”What they’re doing is establishing and creating for themselves a presence on the campus that doesn’t exist now,” Ward added. “It changes the whole dynamic of how we work with students.”
Another important function of the senate, Ward added, will be to further communication of students across university divisions. “Our schools are so distinct, our campus is spread out across the West Village, there are not too many central spaces for students to meet,” he said. The senate “will provide an opportunity for students to get together on occasion to talk about things that are of concern to them regardless of school.”
Ward, along with Linda Reimer, Senior Vice President for Student Services, cooperated with Charlton and Sellin-Vetter in their efforts to rewrite the USS constitution. They also arranged for them to meet with Student Services Committee of the Board of Trustees. One result of those meetings: the USS will receive funding for one year via a special grant from Trustee Julien Studley. The funding will be spent on office space, programming and full ballot-voting booth type elections, Charlton said.
After finishing their draft of the new constitution, Charlton and Settin-Vetter will present it to the USS for ratification within the next few weeks, and then finalize their agreement with the Board of Trustees. Charlton said the current 18-member USS will reconvene next semester and hold elections, open to the entire student body, for its executive board.
By Lee Varian
Before even entering the door to see the controversial play My Name is Rachel Corrie at Minetta Lane Theatre, the audience was bombarded with pamphlets. One called Corrie a terrorist supporter and murderer. Another described her as a nonviolent activist.
The uncontested facts are these: in March of 2003, Corrie, a 23 year old from Olympia, Washington and a member of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement, was killed by an Israeli Defense Forces bulldozer in an attempt to stop the demolition of the house she was staying at in Gaza. Both sides immediately seized on her death. Depending on who you asked, Corrie was either a remarkably brave young woman, willing to stand up for what she believed in, or a naïve tool who was tragically exploited by the very people she had come to help.
Not surprisingly, many of the circumstances of Corrie’s death are still in dispute. The ISM contends that the reason for the house-razing was preemptive collective punishment, a common practice in Gaza, and says that Corrie stood in front of the bulldozer for about 20 seconds (when it was 40 meters away) and that as the bulldozer approached her, she climbed onto the mound of earth that was being created and for a few seconds stood with the top half of her body above the blade. She then lost her footing and was pulled under the bulldozer.
The IDF, however, says Corrie didn’t try to stare down the bulldozer, but rather hurled herself in front of it. They also point to the small amount of visibility that the IDF'S armored bulldozers allow, citing the fact that operators are usually directed by another soldier on the ground. This didn’t happen on the day of her death because of the supposed threat of sniper fire. Furthermore, the IDF argues, it was not trying to level a house but to destroy a tunnel that it concealed, one of many that have been constructed from the nearby Egyptian border for the purpose of smuggling arms into Gaza.
Others have suggested that Corrie herself could have been involved in supplying terrorists with weapons, and may knowingly have been trying to stop the destruction of these tunnels. But while tunnels have been discovered in the past, the IDF has not reported any that have been found since Corrie's death. In fact, the family whose house she was protecting have never been accused or charged with any crime by the Israeli government. Nevertheless, the debate rages on, in Internet forums and elsewhere. In Mondo Weiss, a liberal blog on the New York Observer Web site, one disapproving commenter recently went so far as to say, “the terrorist bitch got what she deserved.”
The International Solidarity Movement has since been effectively kicked out of Gaza and has moved its primary operations to the West Bank. Formed in 2001 by Ghasson Andoni (a Palestinian) and Neta Golan (an Israeli), it has drawn much criticism for its extreme version of non-violence which members call “direct action.” This includes standing in front of tanks and bulldozers, deliberately and obviously breaking curfew, accompanying Palestinians through checkpoints, taking down Israeli roadblocks, confronting Israeli soldiers and trying to stop the construction of the barrier along the West Bank.
Members maintain that they are a nonviolent group but express support for suicide bombings, so long as they are targeting soldiers or settlers in Gaza or the West Bank and not citizens of Israel proper. The leaders cite India and the civil rights movement in America as proof that violent and nonviolent struggles need to work concurrently.
A one-woman play about Corrie’s life, culled from her emails and diary entries, opened to glowing reviews in London in April 2005 at the Royal Court Theatre. Early this year, the New York Theater Workshop, a respected SoHo institution, announced plans to present the same production here. However, it was abruptly and indefinitely postponed six weeks before opening night. The theater’s artistic director, James Nicola, cited the election of Hamas to parliament and the coma of Ariel Sharon as reasons why the situation in Israel had become too volatile to show the work. Many speculated that members of the Board of Trustees and other donors demanded the play be cancelled, although Nicola denies this.
“We want the voice heard by the New York audience, not the ancillary events that can pollute that voice," Lynn Moffet, managing director of the New York Theatre Workshop, told the radio show 'Democracy Now,' by way of explanation.
Audiences could feel the controversy, both political and dramaturgical, even six weeks into the play’s run at the Minetta Lane Theater, which agreed to put on the production after NYTW dropped it. The night I attended, seven people walked out before the performance had ended. But it seemed that while the politics of the play made many uncomfortable, the play itself was well received.
Corrie is portrayed brilliantly by Bree Elrod, who manages to capture the balance between her naive utopianism and fiery grit while maintaining the fragility of a 23-year-old American who throws herself into the midst of the region’s fierce violence. The best part of the performance comes when we see just how American Corrie is. The first third of the play takes place as she is packing up her things in her bedroom before she leaves for Gaza, but barely any of the monologue has to do with her fear or apprehension. Instead we get a picture of a college student who is worried about her ex-boyfriend, her family and how she can pull her life together. She wants to go to Gaza to meet people who are actually affected by US-supported military policy, as if it will just be a way of making her local activism more effective. In a poignant display of how radically her life is going to change, Corrie lists participating in a parade of people dressed up as doves as one of her primary activist achievements.
The second half of the play is far darker and more political, with Corrie's gentle pacifism devolving into rants that become quite radical by the end of the performance. The nature-loving peacenik is soon transformed into a war-weary revolutionary, defending suicide bombings as part of a “just arms struggle.”
This structure seams to be a metaphor for the larger political message of My Name is Rachel Corrie. While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (a phrase that, Corrie tells her mother, “implies it is a balanced struggle instead of largely unarmed people fighting against the fourth largest military in the world”) is obviously at the play’s forefront, its deeper message is about class guilt and American culture. The most powerful aspects of Rachel’s words are not about the plight of the Palestinian people, but the way in which Americans are sheltered and ignorant of other places in the world, and the degree to which our own policies have helped make violence inescapable.
By Zemian Zambonei
Gary Karp held a press conference yesterday in front of 65 5th Ave. to wish all New School students, faculty and staff a “very Gary holiday season.” The model and cult figure also challenged his longtime archrival, Steven Segal.
“Steven, if you’re watching this right now, I just want you to know…” Karp said, before a hushed crowd of admiring reporters and cameramen from news services around the country, “Watch your back!”
Karp, 45, has become an international sensation over the past twelve years thanks to his slicked-back hair, beguiling stare, and a series of bombastic public appearances in scores of American cities and other sites as varied as the pyramids of Egypt and the back-roads of Sweden. Along the way, he has cultivated a rivalry with Steven Segal, an aikido fighter who has starred in such films as Hard to Kill and Marked for Death.
The conflict burst into the open in April, at a press conference promoting Segal's new album of original music, Mojo Priest, when the actor went out of his way to denigrate Karp. “Gary ain’t...and I repeat, he ain't...got nothin’ on this,” Segal said, pointing hard at a DVD copy of the 1996 film The Glimmer Man, before pounding his chest, narrowing his eyes and letting out a savage scream.
Since then, the bad blood has steadily escalated, with the two men racing to win the favor of fans and the adoring international media on cable-TV cooking shows, in concert halls, and even at Nevada's storied Burning Man festival.
The contest came to a boiling point in early September when both Karp and Segal were invited to a roundtable discussion on phenomenology, held in Tishman Auditorium and hosted by Inprint.
As the event began, an excited hush fell over the audience when the model and his brick-smashing counterpart joined New School President Bob Kerrey on the stage. Twenty minutes into the discussion, however, a group calling itself "Students for a Very Steven Society" stood up and began chanting “Down with Karpism!” The result was a mix of applause and catcalls, in support of and against the audience's respective idols.
Soon after, several members of another student organization, “The Revolutionary Karp Movement,” wearing identical white t-shirts with giant Karp profiles and paper Karp masks, and holding printouts of Karp's visage above their heads, stormed the stage in an attempt to shield their suave hero from the fierce spinning kicks for which Segal is known. After an unidentified audience member pulled the fire alarm, the event spiraled into a near riot. Segal’s aides swooped him out of the room and into a black Buick sedan waiting outside.
One of the aides, speaking on condition of anonymity, later told Inprint that Segal had to be sprayed with his trademark energy drink, Steven Segal’s Asian Experience, to “cool off and mellow out,” before being rushed to the nearest dojo for an emergency meditation session.
The weeks afterward were marked by fewer, more subdued public appearances by both Karp and Segal. In the few appearances they made, both seemed to want to cultivate their images as peace-loving demi-gods. “Gary lives,” Karp told a clearly enchanted Oprah on an episode that aired in late October. “Gary loves.”
Meanwhile, in early November, Segal told Maury Povich that he once held an hour-long conversation with a little white dog in Japan by making barking sounds.
The controversy seemed to have subsided until yesterday, when Karp's incendiary remarks reopened old wounds.
Asked by an Inprint reporter if he had any surprises planned for Segal in the future, Karp held up an 8 ½ by 11-inch print-out of his portrait, and promised to “dump Segal in the can, with a Gary in my hand.”
Turning to several news cameras, he added: “Have a very Gary holiday, Steven.”
By Kurd McGraw
By the time we get back from winter break, something very exciting will be right around the corner: Oscar nominations! Yes, we all love a little sucking up to our favorite actors, actresses, directors, and sound mixers. Still, there are bound to be some people who don’t get their proper due.
First, there's the song that should be nominated for Best Original Song: "O Kazakhstan," from Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. Sung by Mr. Sacha Baron Cohen, this ode to Borat's home country brags about what makes it so special. It turns out that it’s the “number one exporter of potassium.” Any song that gives us this kind of detail is worthy of an Oscar.
Speaking of Borat, can we make like MTV and award an Oscar for Best Fight? What I’d give to see Borat and his manager, Azamat, rumble in the nude just one more time...
Another category that the Oscars should add is Worst Movie Title. To help them along, here are my nominations: Buddha Wild: Monk in a Hut, Cave of the Yellow Dog, Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause. So, basically, any movie that mentions an animal, has a colon in the title, and/or contains a bad pun.
If you’re a faithful reader of Inprint, you know how I feel about Avril Lavigne. But I feel bad about my comments. To make nice, I think she should get a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her role in Fast Food Nation. As an activist named Alice with a heart of gold, you can't help but be overwhelmed by her whining and her performance's stunning resemblance to—and this is quite an honor—Sofia Coppola in The Godfather: Part III.
Quickly, Best Supporting Actor should go to Terry Bradshaw in Failure to Launch (let’s see you kiss Kathy Bates!), while Best Actor and Actress should be awarded to Samuel L. Jackson for Snakes on a Plane (you just knew that I was going to get in a reference to that movie somewhere!) and Kirsten Dunst in Marie Antoinette, respectively. Why Dunst? Well, because I would just find it too perfectly ironic if "Marie Antoinette" were to win a little gold man.
Now to the award we've all been waiting for: Best Picture. It’s sad that in a year of great (American Dreamz), amazing (The Fast and Furious 3: Tokyo Drift) and stunning (Hoot) movies, only one can win. But my choice for the Oscar is... For Your Consideration. It’s not that the movie was particularly good (although any scene with Fred Willard in it is automatically funny), but what I’d give to see the Oscars have a Springsteen-Reagan-“Born in the USA” moment!
The Cheney Christmas Newsletter!
Merry Christmas from the VP and me! For our family, the holidays are a time to cozy up by a roaring fire with the ones we love: our daughter Elizabeth and her husband, Mary and her roommate, and that nice man Dick knows from Halliburton who insists on bringing us some special present every year. And as we sit sipping our cocoa, looking forward to a new year and all it will bring, I always enjoy thinking back on the events that made the last one so magical!
Let’s start with the biggest news first: Mary is expecting! Yes, before long there’ll be another little Cheney scampering through our lives. We’re not sure who’s more excited, my husband or me; Dick adores children, and I know he’s looking forward to teaching a little one all the wisdom he’s acquired as the man who secretly makes all the decisions for the most powerful country in the world. Yesterday, he even asked Mary if she had considered naming the baby Richard! Imagine that—a tiny, smirking Dick Cheney, Jr.!
Mary has always been very shy about her personal life, so we haven’t met her beau yet, but we’re sure he’s very nice. And we don’t even mind that they haven’t tied the knot. We’re just glad she’s found someone, after thirty-seven years—which isn’t young, even nowadays. Of course there are a few rumors flying around about this and that, but we assure you, those are lies, lies, lies! After all, nobody knows a girl like her mother.
Dick hasn’t had the best year of all time, but as he always says about those brave boys fighting for democracy: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! Things got off to a rough start when he confused a quail with a trial lawyer and shot one of them in the face—I think they call that a Freudian slip! Then there was that nasty little incident when he told that senator from Vermont to “f---” off, and it got caught on tape. Well, we guess the second most powerful man in the world is allowed to say things like that now and then—it’s just too bad he doesn’t use that language with me anymore! No, since his latest bypass, being naughty has been too much of health risk for the VP.
Some of you reading this are probably wondering: what do we think of the mid-term elections? Well, we couldn’t be happier! Our lives don’t revolve around politics, y’know (Dick has his fantasy football team, and I have embroidery and mystery novels). All it means is, since Dick has no intention of ever cooperating with mamsy-pamsy liberals, there’ll be a lot less time spent at the office. It’s like getting a head start on being a lame duck—uh-oh, I hope Dick doesn’t shoot himself in the face! Ha, ha!
And as for little old me, 2006 has been a year with plenty of time for quiet reflection. As I travel further into the autumn of my life, I sometimes think about the crazy twists God offers up to his lambs. After all, I’m just a normal, Christian, Midwestern woman who married her high school sweetheart, then over the course of thirty years, watched him devolve into depths of greed I could never imagine. So funny how things turn out!
So, we wish you a very Merry Christmas! And a Happy New Year! And to please, please pray for our souls!
P.S. Don’t forget to contribute to the Americans for a Republican Majority PAC!
Thursday, December 14, 2006
By Josh Kurp
Jesus might have died for somebody’s sins, but not Patti Smith’s. In an exhibit entitled A Phythagorean Traveler, at the Robert Miller Gallery at 524 W 26th St., photographs and drawings of the dark and tortured songstress show that Smith isn't ready to quit anytime soon. The show ends January 13th.
This isn’t Smith's first collaboration with the Robert Miller Gallery. Back in 1978, she and Robert Mapplethorpe—the photographer who took the shot that became the album cover for Smith's Horses—had a joint exhibit of her drawings and his pictures.
The work on display at this exhibition consists of mostly small photographs of images ranging from William Butler Yeats' tombstone to a picture of shoes on top of some sort of religious figure. Around the pictures run small, almost undecipherable text, of which you can only pick out every other word. But sentences like, “Rain…horses…fit…into…eggplant…birds” would actually work quite nicely in a Patti Smith song.
When Lou Reed had a photo exhibition at the Steven Kasher Gallery, I found myself wondering whether I enjoyed the pictures because they were superior pieces of art or because they were done by one of my heroes. I wanted to believe that they were stunning glimpses of New York City, but after a lot of time "leaning on the parking meter,” to steal a line from Smith, I realized that I had succumbed to Mr. Reed’s star power. That’s not true with the Patti Smith exhibition. The pieces are quite good and give us a real glimpse into the mind of a person who got Jimi Hendrix, Jesus Christ, Grandma and Jackson Pollock all into the same song.
On its opening night, I got to the exhibition a little late, but Patti Smith was still roaming around. A friend—who happened to have a slight buzz from the free wine that flows like a waterfall at the Robert Miller Gallery—ran up to me exclaiming, “Patti Smith came up to me and said ‘Hi!”
Wearing a pair of tight jeans covered partially by stylish boots and a blazer over a white button dress-shirt, Smith evoked an aura of “you’d better not mess with me” while retaining a sense of girlishness that’s been prevalent throughout her 30-plus years in the spotlight.
Unfortunately, I never got to meet her, but judging solely by the work on display (and the fact that I’ve listened to Horses too many times to count), I know that Patti can still provoke that artistic creativity that began in the early '70s. And that she can probably kick my ass.
Photo courtesy of The New School
By Liz Garber-Paul
As they entered the sold-out Tishman Auditorium on the evening of November 30th, audience members watched a slideshow of photographs by Andrew Lichtenstein and Steve Liss while murmuring to each other about catching glimpses of actor Richard Gere from behind the curtains.
The event was the centerpiece of a two-day New School conference entitled “Punishment: The U.S. Record.” Besides Gere, it attracted a number of leading professors, writers and activists to discuss the ethics of American concepts of punishment.
The conference featured Richard Gere and his wife Carey Lowell as keynote speakers. But, as President Bob Kerrey noted during his introduction speech, this was a “different kind” of keynote event.
While Gere and Lowell are best known for their lead movie and television roles, they have been human rights activists for nearly as long as they’ve been actors. Gere is best known for his Free Tibet advocacy, and has also been active in the fight against AIDS. In 2001, he founded Healing the Divide (HTD), a New York-based nonprofit that works towards solutions for marginalized communities throughout the world. Lowell, who has long been working with the victims of pediatric AIDS, has been a member of HTD’s board since 2001. She is also the co-chair of HTD’s Criminal Justice Initiative, which is set to launch in 2007 and will re-examine the current prison system and help bring reform.
Instead of speaking expositorially about the prison system, the A-list couple read selections from the PEN American Center’s Prison Writing Program, a literary competition for incarcerated men and women that has been sponsored by the PEN American Center since 1973. Most of the selections are published in Doing Time: 25 Years of Prison Writing, a PEN American Center Prize anthology released by Arcade Books in 1999. This was only the second appearance for the actors in which they spoke as a couple.
The selections read at the event, ranging from poems to short essays, chronicled life in prison: arrival, the daily routine and thoughts from death row. One poem, “How I Became a Convict,” by life-without-parole inmate Victor Hassine, described the chilling sounds of entering prison knowing he would never leave—the metal on cement clanks that are familiar to many from movies, but not personal experience. The piece “Contraband,” by Patricia Prewitt, humorously told of the mundane objects that aren’t allowed in some American prisons: not just homemade tattoo guns or knives, but things like clocks and colored pencils.
Gere and Lowell read thirteen selections in just under an hour, exiting the stage to a standing ovation.
By Liza Minno
When a school’s administration wants to know what’s going on with their professors, they make students fill out teacher evaluations. Students, however, in today’s wiki-fied world, have another option: Ratemyprofessors.com. It is a site made and used by students to, well, rate their professors—in areas such as clarity, easiness, helpfulness and, optionally, physical attractiveness (hotness). Site users can also comment at length on the strengths and weaknesses of their professors.
For those students who don’t have a university-sponsored way to learn about fellow students’ reactions to professors, Ratemyprofessors.com does the sometimes down-and-dirty trick. And, if nothing else, it’s an entertaining read!
A comment on one professor’s page refers to him as “a real old turd,’” while another calls the instructor in question “the best!” Neither, of course, is objective—or, for that matter, particularly useful, when it comes down to how students will work with a professor.
But most of the comments, it seems, are written in earnest, with some semblance of objectivity, and users of the site say they can prove extremely helpful.
One Lang student, who prefers to remain nameless, cites a foreign study experience (not related to Eugene Lang College) during which she had a male professor who was overly sexual in his classroom comments and inappropriate in interactions with female students, creating a hostile learning environment.
“I went to the [study abroad program’s] administration and asked what this man’s credentials were and they told me that they run extensive background checks on the teachers they hire and that this man was highly recommended by his colleagues," she says. "I really couldn’t believe that this was the first time he’d acted this way in a classroom and so I checked [Ratemyprofessors.com] and, like, twelve women had written things like ‘ladies be careful,’ ‘if you’re a woman, don’t take his class,’ ‘he’s extremely inappropriate, unprofessional,’ etc. It just confirmed that I wasn’t crazy and also how easy it is for people, even professional people, to bullshit their way into jobs.”
Lang senior Bailey Nolan also feels that the site is a valid way to obtain essential information about the people who students are, essentially, stuck in a classroom with for five months.
“I've used Ratemyprofessor.com for almost every professor I've had over the last four years and, more often than not, it's completely reliable,” Nolan says. “It's shocking to me that we, as students, can simply visit a Web site and find more honest information than our university administrators'. I know from experience, the Web site is an incredibly valuable tool for students that should be more widely recognized in the academic world.”
Lang College’s Rate My Professors page reviews 110 professors. A Lang student moderates the page. Most professors have somewhere between one and five comments, but some, apparently, provoke stronger reactions, for better or worse. Eleven people, for example, have posted comments about theater professor Colette Brooks, thirteen about education professor Gregory Tewksbury and twenty have commented on philosophy professor Barrie Karp.
Some schools, like NYU, have a similar feature that is available through the school’s official website to aid students during class registration periods.
Ava Holliday, a third year student at NYU, says that she doesn’t really use the school-sponsored rating program and finds that other people generally don’t either. Even though it’s designed to give students an idea about what kind of professor they would be working with, the site, Holliday says, “tends to focus more on the class than the professor.”
She adds, “I find myself asking advisors and professors about a teacher’s personality or teaching style instead of using [NYU’s school-sponsored rating site]."
The New School has nothing of the sort—and often students don't seem to take professor evaluations seriously. But at least there are other, online, interactive and much more entertaining options.
By Alison Bensimon
Where is the love? Our Lang courtyard is there to replace another university's green, cafeteria and sporting venues. We came to Lang to stay away from lame frat parties and out-of-control drunk sorority girls. We asked to be a part of this courtyard and we made it the center of our socialization process at The New School. But when I walk through the famous Lang smoke-zone, also known as "the courtyard," I don't see love.
Lang is known for its class discussions, in which students unite by sharing their thoughts on specific class topics, but not about their lives. When class is over, everyone parts and goes on with their individual lives. The discussions rarely continue outside class, especially between a male and a female. Talk about sexual tension in class: eyes crossing, smiles being exchanged, hands accidentally touching, arguments about subjects which make voices raise, hearts beat faster and temperatures rise.
But once I'm out of class, I don't see couples acting on this tension in the courtyard. This should be a place that unites great minds and personalities, a place where students can flirt and kiss and touch in the midst of the chaotic college life. All I see are friends hanging out. The courtyard should be there for strangers and friends to socialize and for students to meet their Prince Charming or Ms. Right. Where else is that going to happen? In our non-existent quad? What ever happened to the fantasy of marrying your college sweetheart? What ever happened to the exploration of our sexualities?
All girls want is to have fun! When I'm in class, walking around school or in the courtyard, I feel as though looking for a guy is useless because the odds of actually speaking to him—or even seeing him again—are so small that it would be a waste of time.
Like most people, I claim to despise rumors. But I must admit that it is the perversion of juicy gossip, the "who's dating whom" or "who hooked up with whom last night," that brings excitement to the college dating scene. It's the kiss and tell that sparks everyone's interest.
When I asked Lang sophomore Anna McCarthy her thoughts on the dating scene at Lang, she replied angrily, looking at me with piercing eyes, her chin glued to her neck. "There isn't one," she said, and walked away.
"It's different from a guy's perspective," said Lang sophomore Paul Moore. Paul Lives in the William Street dorm and feels that there are a lot more options for guys than there are for girls. "This works to my advantage because it feels like the guy to girl ratio is 1 to 7," he explained. Paul has had had a few dating experiences with girls he met in the dorms. He feels as though it is more convenient that way. "All you have to do is press the right button in the elevator," he said. Although he did mention the difficulties of extending the date through the next morning, "A girl can't spend the night, because I am afraid that I will fall off my top bunk. And you have to be respectful to your roommates sometimes, so an open double is sexually restricted."
What we can all agree on is that dating works in different stages: the talking and flirting stage, the getting-your-number stage, the hanging out stage, and the hooking up stage. So why does it seem so difficult at Lang? We can blame it on the invisible green or the missing quad, but maybe we should blame ourselves. We should stop complaining and start flirting, stop telling and start kissing.
Thurston Moore, Taking a Subway Ride With The Ramones
By Chelsea Werner
What would happen if your favorite musicians and your favorite artists switched media? Imagine Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth trading in his guitar for a pair of scissors and using a glue stick instead of a pick. That scenario exemplifies a new exhibit at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, "Music is a Better Noise" (from a line from an Essential Logic song), which highlights the unusual exchange between visual arts and music.
The first floor of the exhibit consists of two rooms divided by decade. The mid-'70s through early '80s room features the found object, crucifix-centric work of Alan Vega (known for his work in the formative electro-punk group Suicide), the sculptures of Rammellzee (a rapper who was one of the first to translate graffiti style into hip-hop culture) and the digital and pin-hole photographs of Barbara Ess (of no-wave and experimental bands such as Y Pants, The Static, Ultra Vulva and Radio Guitar).
The second room focuses on artists of the mid-'80s through the '90s. Bjorn Copeland, guitarist of noise outfit Black Dice, contributes a mixed media photograph called Gore Mixer Drip (2006), which shows a man with orange beads streaming down from his eyeballs resting a drumstick on a mixing machine. By using the title of a Black Dice song ("Gore"), Copeland finds a way to incorporate the words, images and allusion of sound into a visual medium.
A less successful attempt at a similar idea, Thurston Moore’s Street Mouth series (2005) demonstrates that his strength lies in sound collage, not paper collage. Images of his idols, such as Brian Eno, The Ramones and Lou Reed, are pasted under headlines to create a collage that looks more like a paparazzi spread than the work of an experimental, genre-blending artist. Moore's wife, Sonic Youth bassist Kim Gordon, has an offering of her own. Her Rocked Up series (2006) are canvases covered in acrylic and black glitter. Besides the obvious glam connotations, the only musical dimension to the pieces is that drugs have become so intertwined with music that one can't help but think the title of her series refers to a substance rather than a genre.
Ali Lohan, Lohan Holiday
By guest reviewer Lindsay Lohan
Hey bitches, it’s me, Lindsay Lohan. I’m guest reviewing my sister Ali’s kick ass Christmas album, Lohan Holiday. But, like, you can totally listen to it, even if you’re Jewish, or Kwanzakin or whatever. This album is so great, and not just because I sing a track on it. This album is great because it makes Christmas cool again. The second track, “I Like Christmas” opens with an electric guitar, so it’s kind of taking a punk rock approach to Christmas, which I think is like really edgy because Christmas is so not usually associated with electric guitars. Some asshole on iTunes said that Ali’s voice sounds like a chipmunk’s, which is so not true, and I would like to see that assweed sing an entire Christmas album. I bet he couldn’t. Besides, once she starts smoking her voice will totally drop like mine did. Don’t worry though, Ali covers some classics too, like “Winter Wonderland,” but she makes it totally fresh-sounding with a backing track that sounds like something you would hear on the game Dance Dance Revolution, which I am so good at and I totally beat Nicole every time because a minute into it she starts swaying and stuff and says she has to “sit down and drink some water” (we don’t talk anymore). Ali’s cover of “Jingle Bells” is inspiring because when it starts it doesn’t even sound anything like "Jingle Bells," and you’re thinking, what the hell is this? But then she starts to sing the chorus and you’re like, “OMG, it’s 'Jingle Bells!!'” The next track, “Groove of Christmas,” has a funky '70s beat that reminds me of my hit single “Rumors” because Ali sings in a sultry style, “Let’s get in the mood for Christmas/I can’t wait it’s almost Christmas” to really intense drums and then her voice gets all electronified like Justin Timberlake’s on “Bye Bye Bye.” We asked Justin if he would collab on this album, but he said he was busy so I was like, whatever. The money track, “Lohan Holiday,” has a special appearance by moi, but you can barely hear me on it because the night before I was at the Chateau (that’s industry talk for Chateau Marmont) singing karaoke with Damien Rice and Yoko Ono and my voice was shot by time I got in the studio to record this thing. The only thing about this album that isn’t so awesome is “Silent Night,” which is a track that my mom gets in on. She doesn’t even sing. She like, quotes Bible verses. I was all, “MOM, why do you always have to impede on our independent creative voyages?” And then she was all, “Lindsay Morgan Lohan, do not talk to me like that, I am your mother,” so I was all, “Oh yeah, then why don’t you ACT like it for once, BITCH!” and she was all like, “OMG, I can’t even believe you, you are being such a brat!” and I was like, “WHATEVER, IT’S MY LIFE!” and she was like, “I wish you would get back with Wilmer, he was such a positive influence,” so then I said, “MOM, STEP OFF. YOU DON’T KNOW ME, MOTHERFUCKER!!!” And I guess that about covers it. Happy holidays! XO, Lindsay.
Rating: A million times better than anything Paris has done. Britney too.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
By Nora Costello
When Lang professor Zishan Ugurlu first came to New York in 1993, she was a struggling actress and grad student at Ankara University in Ankara, Turkey. Although she spoke almost no English, she was invited by Ellen Stewart, founder and director of La MaMa Performance space in the Bowery, who had met her in Turkey and been impressed by Ugurlu’s talent and her thesis on the importance of the play and its cultural context. Stewart helped Ugurlu acquire her green card and set her up with a small apartment above the tiny theater, where she became immersed in the downtown theater community.
“She was my mommy here,” Ugurlu says of Stewart. “I was a theater cat. It was a very dreamy, theatrical life. I used to watch the plays from the top of the theater.”
After receiving her MA in directing in Turkey, Ugurlu went on to pursue an MFA in acting at Columbia 1996. She was the first non-English speaker admitted to its drama school.
“I learned English from Leonard Cohen songs and reading a lot of books. The New Yorker was my English teacher,” Ugurlu says, sitting in her tiny basement office whose shelves are crammed with everything from Anais Nin to Chekov to yellowing spines printed in Turkish. “It was a constant effort. Memorization would take me ten times as long as the average student.”
For her, Ugurlu says, learning comes from the desire to communicate and the urge to understand, an impetus that compels her to work on her English vocabulary every day. “Two people can speak perfect English, but if they have no desire to understand each other,” she says, “there is no communication.” Speaking to Ugurlu, it is immediately apparent that she is an expressive, passionate person with a zeal to communicate, always, with candor, compassion and truth.
After Ugurlu completed her PhD at Columbia, she began teaching dramaturgy, acting and drama history part-time at Wesleyan University in 2002. Two years later, she came to Lang. She now balances her time between teaching, directing, and maintaining a career as a working actor.
“She has a really serious work ethic and is generally interested in helping her students advance their talents,” says Susannah Pugsley, a student of Ugurlu’s. “She creates a safe space for pushing yourself really hard, and you know that she genuinely cares about you and your success as an individual.”
Among the many original courses Ugurlu has developed at Lang are "Creating the Solo Performance," "Acting: Banned Plays," and "Latin American Playwrights and Acting." Next year, Ugurlu says, she hopes to develop an "Acting Science" class as well as a course that would incorporate community work. “I literally live in this room,” Ugurlu says of her tiny basement office. “I come here at nine or ten in the morning and if I am not rehearsing or performing I am here sometimes until midnight, reading. I’m thinking about new courses I can create.”
Last year Ugurlu directed the highly acclaimed Operetta, performed at La Mama, and next spring she will direct Rainer Fassbinder’s The Blood on the Cat’s Neck. Though not directing this semester, Ugurlu appeared in two downtown productions, playing the title role in La Mama’s A Whore From Ohio, a controversial play from Israeli playwright Hanoch Levin, and the meek Bettina in the dysfunctional family-drama Women Dreamt Horses by Argentinean playwright Daniel Veronese. Women Dreamt Horses played at P.S. 122 as part of the Buenos Aires in Translation Festival, and won high acclaim from The New York Times.
To her students, Ugurlu stresses the importance of their journey in understanding themselves, others, and what it is to be human and communicate with one another.
“Be present is all I ask," she says. "Bring your energy and effort to the room, every day. And read!”
Winkie's Creator Speaks
Photo by John Kureck
By John Zuarino
Winkie is a story about an 81-year-old mangy teddy bear that can think, a la The Velveteen Rabbit. When Winkie wills himself to life one day, he crashes through a little boy's bedroom window and escapes into the wild, where he learns to shit, miraculously gains and loses a child, and becomes subject to the world's scrutiny when put on trial as the next big threat in the War on Terror. Through retrospection, Winkie ponders his existence in his maximum-security cell amongst the hard, absurd world he’s now a part of.
Clifford Chase's novel was released in June 2006 to rave reviews from the likes of David Rakoff, an essayist whose work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, and songwriter Stephin Merritt. He also wrote The Hurry-Up Song: A Memoir of Losing My Brother and edited the collection Queer 13: Lesbian and Gay Writers Recall Seventh Grade. He taught First Year Writing at Lang ten years ago, before the school believed in grades.
I: How did Winkie start out?
CC: It began as a short story. I started by writing about Winkie running away, and that story surprised me. Then I went on to write another story about Winkie in the forest where he encounters the Unabomber character. That was written way back in '97, not long after the Unabomber had actually been captured. I was interested in the Unabomber as a fairy tale figure and the way a figure like that becomes a sort of two-dimensional ogre, so it kind of made sense to me that Winkie would encounter him in the forest.
In the course of that I developed the character Baby Winkie, Winkie's child, as a creature that speaks only in quotations. In some ways I think of Winkie as the essence of my childhood, and then Baby Winkie is the essence of an essence, so I was trying to understand what that would be. And intuitively I figured that she would only speak in quotations.
I: And they happen to be the right quotations at the right time.
CC: She's not necessarily using those quotations correctly, but she knows what she wants to say, and she doesn't want to say it herself. There's playfulness to it really, and the book begins as an act of playfulness. What happens if Winkie runs away? What if he learns to shit? What if he gives birth, etc.?
I: How did the Winkie snapshots come into play?
CC: When I visited my parents in California, where Winkie resided at the time, I took my camera with me and took pictures of him. I thought that if I were going to write more about him, I would need to find more information for practical reasons. I was previously working off of memory, and I felt like the descriptive stuff I was writing was getting stale, and I needed more information. So my mother and I took pictures of him. With half a mind I thought I might use them also as illustrations, but again as another purely playful act. We thought, "Let's have Winkie smell a rose" or "Let's have him looking behind some vines." Then the film came back, and the photographs were just very odd. I suppose it tightens the illusion of him being sentient and alive because in the photographs it looks like he's really smelling a rose and thinking.
I: Is there a different process that you go through when writing fiction as opposed to memoir?
CC: It depends on what you're writing. I approached my memoir [The Hurry-Up Song] as a fiction writer, so when I began I approached it in a way where I was writing scenes for characters with a lot of interpretation. There was a lot of the standard "show, don't tell" approach to narrative. On the other hand, I have a strong autobiographical component in my fiction. It was exhilarating walking out on a limb while writing the Winkie scenes with pure invention. It was thrilling and scary. When working autobiographically you're weighted down to earth with facts, but it's really about how you arrange them. Obviously with fiction you're not tied like that. I suppose, in reaction to just having written a memoir, I wanted to do something that was really playful and inventive as opposed to a realistic novel. Then again, I had to do a lot of that when writing about my mother. They were very somber, realistic chapters.
I: Tell me more about your mother's role in the book.
CC: I began writing a chapter about Winkie grieving for his child, and that's when I started writing about my mother's childhood. That was another way of having Winkie as a useful tool to enter into my mother's childhood as sort of a fly on the wall and to think about that in a different way than before. In my memoir I talk about her upbringing as a Christian Scientist, but there's not much about it in there. So, I wanted to go back and re-imagine her as a kid, partly because as an adult she was very playful among other things. For instance, when I said that I wanted to take pictures of Winkie, it wasn't like she was the type of person that would say that's really weird or ridiculous. In fact she thought it wasn't ridiculous, and she even helped me take the pictures. There's a wonderful picture on the Grove Press website of her holding Winkie like a baby and looking down on him, cradling him. She could be a lot of fun in that way, and I wanted to know where that came from. She was already in her 80's when I started writing the book. She was the way old people would begin to seem like children.
I: There's a scene that sticks out where Winkie witnesses the casual racism at the dinner table and wholly disapproves. Where did that scene come from?
CC: That scene was part of my childhood memories, and it was pretty difficult to write about. There were a lot of difficult decisions like showing two children acting in this shameful way, and it's a part of my childhood that I often wanted to write about. I had written already about my parents' racism in my memoir, but I had never written about my own. Winkie reacts as a wise innocent. He speaks kind of naively, but he's also seen and lived through a lot. I wanted him to react in a way where he didn't understand the political implications of it, but he just sees it and doesn't like it. And there's a bit of a racism theme in my mother's childhood too because of what was going on in Chicago. Winkie's a minority of one and sometimes the subject of persecution by the authorities, who arrest him and accuse him of a laundry list of bizarre charges.
I: Who were the influences for Winkie? How did they play out in the origins of the book?
CC: Donald Barthelme is a big influence. I studied with him at City College. I went there in order to study with him because I really loved his writing. He also turned out to be a really good teacher. You know, he writes in a very playful and postmodernist way, and that's a way of seeing literature that has always made a lot of sense to me. In terms of how that played out in the book, I went back to his novel The Dead Father the summer before last when I was revising Winkie for my editor and was stumped. I went back to that novel to try and loosen up my mind and pay attention to how he went about putting together the novel, and he's very playful about it.
I also studied with Frederic Tuten. His novel Tintin in the New World has similarities where he takes a children's book character and transplants it into an adult literary novel. That's what Winkie is doing. There's also a story by Kafka called Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse-Folk that I kept in mind a lot. It's sort of a cute, furry little Kafka story. It's not dark and scary and tormented, it's just about a little mouse that's a diva and her following. The mice risk their lives to hear her sing, and it's just a cute and lovely little story.
Midway through someone told me to look at Jan Svankmajer's films that I was unaware of, and I felt validation from his stop-action animation. It's not trying to be believable, it's trying to be something else, and that's a way of approaching aspects of Winkie.
I: Were the terrorism themes highlighted after 9/11?
CC: Yeah, that came to the fore. As the absurdities of the situation began to pile up, the Times ran a couple stories about people being rounded up and mistreated by guards. Then I thought maybe I could keep this as a theme in the novel, and maybe Winkie being accused of terrorism could make a lot of sense as a way to address what was going on. Not to make light of it, but to address it in a comic way. When John Walker Lindh, the "American Taliban," was captured and tortured, I followed his case carefully. There was this total abuse of power going on. When I decided that Winkie would be arrested, I realized the authorities in the book didn't even know what happened, so I used Lindh's case as a template.
I: Are Winkie's judge and prosecutor based on real people?
CC: Not specifically. John Ashcroft was on my mind, though, because he would go out and make these charges against people in the press, and again and again they would bring the charges to court like nothing. He was just a big incompetent blowhard. I just hate him. I think he abused his power and is one of the people responsible for Abu Ghraib. Otherwise they're cartoon characters. I just let myself give in to a very comic-cartoonish portrayal of the war on terror through Winkie's trial. Winkie is more multi-layered and three-dimensional next to the human characters.
I: Last question: How does a teddy bear become pregnant?
CC: It's a mystery, like the Virgin Birth. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what happened. It was one of the first things I wrote, and I spent a long time trying to understand that. It was one of the questions my editor asked that I couldn't answer. In my little world it's a mythic element, the uncanny thing where he got what he always wanted without knowing it. It's a stamp in history.
I: I read that you originally incorporated a sex scene for Winkie that you deleted.
CC: Yeah, that was one of my experiments. I wrote Winkie having sex, and it was just really weird and didn't work. I won't go further than that.