Tuesday, February 27, 2007

News: Mapping Mayhem: Defense Contract Raises Eyebrows

PIIM’s comprehensive mapping program will be a great resource, Kerrey says

[image of SDS & PIIM woman]

Sam Lewis

Sam Lewis

Nadia Chaudhury
[image of Cline & woman]
(from top to bottom) On February 9, SDS members demanded answers from a staffer for the Parsons Institue for Information Mapping; A PIIM map; Graffiti scribbled on a project that formed the basis for PIIM; The PIIM office on the 2nd floor of 55 W. 13th St; Alex Cline confronting a staffer.

By Kevin Dugan

In an obscure office at 55 W. 13th St., a group of engineers and graduate students sit shoulder to shoulder at computers, poring over thousands of news articles, digitally-rendered maps and satellite images.

Nearby, a huge, arcing window facing 13th Street fills a more spacious room with sunlight. There, a programmer sits at a Macintosh, studying Times Square from the sky. She flies down to street level and lands just outside a featureless, gray rendering of the Empire State Building.

Welcome to the headquarters for the Parsons Institute for Information Mapping (PIIM), a New
School program that collects and organizes endless amounts of raw data—including voting statistics, racial demographics and phone numbers—into media and visual mapping projects.

Unbeknownst to most students, the U.S. Department of Defense signed a $6 million contract with The New School in 2002 for one of the programs, the Geospace and Media Tool (GMT). Faculty and students recently discovered the contract, sparking a wave of controversy across campus.

New School President Bob Kerrey recently told Inprint that GMT, which may be on the market
as early as ten months, will not have a military application. It is designed to streamline communications systems for Congress and civilian agencies, and provide research tools for the university’s faculty and staff.

Nevertheless, PIIM’s executive director, William Bevington, said GMT can still be modified to access confidential information. Kerrey said faculty and students should not be concerned about
The New School’s relationship with the Department of Defense. “If you oppose the U.S. having
an Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps under any circumstances, and oppose the Department of Defense’s existence, period, then you have a consistent argument that we should not be doing business” with the department, he said. “If, however, your only objection is having Bush as commander-in-chief, that’s a wholly different matter.”

Kerrey helped create the institute in 2002 after seeing a Parsons senior-work presentation where students created detailed maps and graphs on specific topics. One student mapped the Battle of Gettysburg while another documented the desertification process of the Gobi Desert. This concept, he said, should be applied to a digital platform.

Kerrey chose Bevington, then a Parsons professor, to head the institute. Bevington recruited a
team of engineers and graduate students to create tools like publicopiniontool. org and Base Realignment And Closure (BRAC), a system that keeps track of military bases inside the country.

That year, Kerrey pitched one of the projects, GMT, to the Defense Department. GMT is designed to make it easier for Congressmen to gather large amounts of information
about unfamiliar topics. Kerrey, a former senator, said that most public officials have trouble
keeping track of important issues.

GMT collects and organizes “open source,” or unclassified, data much like a Google search,
but with far more comprehensive capabilities. According to Bevington, the program can process
almost two million news articles, from sources that include national news wires and community newspapers worldwide.

“You get 12,000 sources of news processing 80,000 stories a day,” Bevington said. For a student, “it would be an amazing research tool.”

Bevington demonstrated the program at PIIM headquarters. He ran a search for “mosque,”
and over one million news hits surfaced. Every article was linked to its area on an interactive map, giving him the opportunity to explore further.

As with most programs that compile data, such exhaustive access to information can have both
its advantages and disadvantages.

For instance, because of the PATRIOT Act, medical records are partially open to the public for hospitals and insurance companies.

With this access, in the event of a disaster, “we can treat more people, more quickly,” Bevington
said. “However, if it’s open, insurance companies can say, ‘I’m not gonna insure you.’”

Open source information could be used to improve intelligence gathering.

For example, the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding
Weapons of Mass Destruction, a nonpartisan group, concluded in a 2005 letter to President George W. Bush that the intelligence community incorrectly assessed Iraq’s nuclear capabilities because it did not rely on open source information.

In response to concerns that GMT could be used for military purposes, Bevington said that that
the military already has access to advanced data analysis technology.

Nevertheless, Kerrey cannot guarantee that once GMT is available to the public, it will continue to gather only open source data.

“I think we should have a conversation about the need for secrets and the need for security,” Kerrey said.

When GMT goes public, Bevington said users will be able to modify its applications. “Could
you put classified information into the tool? Currently, no,” Bevington said. “Could you redesign
the tools to do that? Yeah.”

Some students and faculty believe this relationship runs contrary to the university’s principles,
including the anti-war stance of founders Charles Beard, James Harvey Robinson, Thorsten
Veblen and John Dewey, who left Columbia to start The New School in 1919.

Students discovered GMT on January 22, when graduate student Armon Rezai emailed New
School for Social Research economics professor Catherine Ruetschlin with a link to fedspending.org, a Web site that monitors government contracts and grants. The site reported
that the DoD had contracted The New School for nearly $10 million since 2002, and gave university $6 million in 2003.

“At first look I thought it could be from Kerrey’s service on the 9/11 Commission,” Ruetschlin
said. “Although there wouldn’t be any reason that money should come to our school.”

“It degrades the decisions of all the students who come to The New School in recognition of its
heritage,” Reutschlin added.

On February 9, with endorsement from the University Student Senate and the Lang Student Union, five SDS members marched into the PIIM office, armed with a “warrant” demanding that the administration end their relationship with the military until it is approved by students and faculty.

Bevington was not in the office at the time, and a staff member on hand could not divulge any information.

Kerrey said that the controversey points to a larger issue—that some students have not been receptive enough to viewpoints of conservatives and the military.

“People talk about academic freedom up the wazoo,” he said. “When it comes down to using
that academic freedom to have a real discussion and debate, where is it?”

Neighborhood Profile: Exploring Red Hook, Gowanus Canal and ... I Just Moved Here

Text & Photos by Matthew Mann

I just moved to Red Hook about a week ago. I still don’t know much about the place. There’s a lot of eighteen wheeler traffic and all the Fung Wah buses hang out in a warehouse about a block away from where I live. I met my neighbor yesterday, his name is James and he has a tiny dog with squinty eyes. I don’t have a bed yet so I sleep on a piece of cardboard on my floor.

(from top to bottom) 37 Carrol Street, the building without a back; Under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway; The Gowanus Canal, pronounced “Go-on-us,” not “Go-anus;” Trash and heavy machinery are common sights.

Editorial: Let's Have a Conversation

The NYU College Republicans’ tactics were vile & pointless

(l-r) Raphael Rodriguez; fourteenapart via flickr
Over 300 counter-protestors expressed their outrage against “Find the Illegal Immigrant,” a stunt put on by NYU’s College Republicans.

By Peter Holslin

Every year, would-be immigrants from Mexico, Central and South America endure grueling ordeals to reach the United States. Most come overland, and at the Mexican border they traverse miles of desert, often with little food and water, sometimes with fatal consequences. Over the past few years, because the government and volunteer/vigilante groups like the Minutemen have stepped up efforts to patrol the border regions, these desert trails have only grown longer and more perilous.

Many make it across—estimates of resident illegal immigrants in the United States range from 10 to 20 million—and many are able to find jobs and send money home to their families. But some of this human tide is caught—wasting thousands of dollars paid to less-than-reliable guides, or “coyotes”—and others die of exhaustion, heat stroke or dehydration, and their bodies are abandoned.

Essentially, getting here takes more than a jog through the park. That's what made last Thursday's "hunt" in Washington Square Park for Caitlin Kannall, an NYU sophomore from Illinois who wore an "illegal immigrant” placard, staged by NYU's College Republicans, so disgusting. It was impossible to ignore the event's racist, violent and paranoid connotations.

Sarah Chambers, president of the College Republicans, told NYU’s newspaper, Washington Square News, that the group wanted to provoke controversy. Even though no more than a dozen students donned the “I.N.S.” nametags, the group got what they wanted. The stunt attracted a mob of national news reporters and a crowd of over 300 counter-protestors. Struggling to contain them behind barricades, the police shut down one of the park’s adjoining streets.

Only an hour into the debacle, according to WSN, protestors climbed over the barricades, swarmed around the club’s information table and began chanting, “Racists out.”

Like most college students in the United States, these Republicans will probably never have to risk death, isolation, violence and poverty for their freedom. While it is abhorrent to see humans chased like animals, in this case, it was hard not to grin at the spectacle of the hunters becoming the hunted.

Unfortunately, this great debacle didn't lead to much thoughtful discussion or insight. In general, one thing we should hear more about is why so many immigrants continue to risk the strenuous passage to America. Of course, there are multitudes of answers: the opportunity to escape abject poverty or political persecution, to provide a better education for their children, to find hope or a fresh start. But without actually talking to "illegals"—as opposed to chasing them—we may never know for sure.

One also has to wonder how big of a problem undocumented immigration really is. For all of the comments posted on the Washington Square News website condemning illegal immigration, there were few that offered any concrete statistics to explain why it is such a problem. If anything, we have all benefited from immigrants who work horrid jobs to get paid measly wages.

The big question, of course, is what we should do about this influx. Building fences and hunting people down like animals are solutions, but regardless of your political views, they appear to be hopelessly impractical ones.

This is obviously something we need to talk about. So, let's convene a New School conference, invite academic experts, homeland security types, undocumented immigrants, and maybe even some College Republicans...that is, if they agree to check their hunting gear at the door.

Arts: Reggie Workman Sculpts Future Sounds

Matt Mann

By Kevin Dugan

Have you ever wondered where you could find a cappella jazz, free improvisation groups and middle-schoolers rapping about the Iraq War in one place? Those who attended The Sculptured Sounds Music Festival at St. Peter's Church last week found their answer.

The four-week festival was founded and co-produced by Reggie Workman, a faculty member of the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music and former upright bass player for the John Coltrane Quartet.

Workman said the festival brought together "futuristic music" that didn't fall into convenient categories. "You can't use a window that doesn't fit,” he said. “You end up in or outside the box."

The theme of the third week seemed to be the role of imagination, free from the restrictions of form and instrument. The Montclair Academy of Dance Drummers lifelessly performed four traditional West-African pieces. Then a team of middle-schoolers delivered an anti-war rap called "Mr. President." The Charles Gayle Trio followed with a weak free jazz set that had all three musicians relying on feeble riffs that never went anywhere. Gayle then went to the piano and played a jejune amalgam of predictably jazzy motifs.

The second half was far more engaging, beginning with Billy Harper and His Great Friends. The Friends consisted of New School jazz instrumentalists and scat-sung vocal arrangements of bop tunes, scored by Harper himself. The soloists—especially Chelsea Baratz—belted out great solos free from the tired clichés that many players rely on.

The final, and best, performance was by free improv group Ashanti's Message, featuring Workman on upright bass. The musicians complimented and paid attention to one another, although the sound did not blend so well in the cathedral. Drummer Tyshawn Sorley and pianist Yayoi Ikawa gave especially impressive performances that carried the music.

Workman quickly denied that he was a perfectionist. "What is important is to have a band of people who have experienced enough of their life, or worked together enough, to understand each other,” he said.

Still, Workman was "not satisfied" with his group. “There were some good moments,” but the group was under-rehearsed, he said.

News: Major Paperwork

Accreditation, from the dean's office to Albany

Linh Tran

By Linh Tran

As heavy three-ring binders slowly make their way from Eugene Lang College’s mailbox to the New York State Department of Education in Albany, Lang moves ever closer to offering its students state-certified majors.

For years, the only major offered at the college was a Bachelor’s of Arts in Liberal Arts. According to administrators, though, a full list of majors will be offered at Lang as soon as next semester.

“I’m hoping by the end of next year that we could have everything done,” said Kathleen Breidenbach, Associate Dean of Lang.

The Department of Education has already approved four majors. These include Psychology, Philosophy, Economics and Culture & Media, which will replace the Cultural Studies concentration. The Dean’s Office is currently preparing proposals for majors in History, Political Science and Social Inquiry, while the Provost’s Office is reviewing The Arts, the new Arts in Context major.

Lang has always offered "concentrations," which are, essentially, majors that have not been registered with the state. The requirements for a concentration are more flexible because they are not accredited.

The accreditation process for an individual major begins when faculty of each concentration review the existing program and create a curriculum for the major. Then, they submit the curriculum to the Dean’s Office to be reviewed. The curriculum is passed back and fourth until both the Dean’s Office and the concentration's faculty agree on a final product. Then, the Dean’s Office begins to compile information on each professor and every class they teach.

“It’s not a top-down thing—it’s a bottom-up thing from the faculty of Lang,” said Liz Ross, Vice Provost of The New School.

The bulk of the work consists of gathering each professor's curriculum vitae, or academic résumé. The curriculum vitae are then collected into a binder along with the syllabi for every class taught in that particular concentration.

The proposals need to show that Lang has the faculty resources to support the major. The Dean’s Office must outline the classes that will be offered within the major and decide how often they will be available. They are also responsible for naming the professors that will teach the courses.

“It’s hard to imagine just how much work it is,” Breidenbach said. “It’s hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of little details.”

The proposal is then passed on to the Provost’s Office for review. Ross and her assistant review its text and forward questions back to the Dean’s Office. Once the Provost’s Office is satisfied, the proposal is sent to all of the different departments of The New School to sign off. Each department has to review their resources and decide if they need to make changes in order to support majors. The binders are then finally shipped to the Department of Education.

On average, the Department hands down a decision after a time period of anywhere from one to eighteen months. The discussion does not end in Albany, though—the Department commonly has questions for the school about proposals. Ross handles all contact with Albany.

The Liberal Arts major will continue to be available at Lang after the new majors are available, administrators told Inprint. Students who have already declared concentrations in approved majors, though, do have the option of graduating with a degree in their specific field, provided they have completed all of the new requirements.

“I don’t think it’s really going to be as drastic a change as people think it is,” said Ava Herceg, sophomore at Lang. “It’s all just semantics. We’re still going to get the same education.”

Josh Kurp contributed reporting.

News: Admins Try New Approach to an Old Challenge

Upping the Ante on Minority Recruitment

By Alex Waddell

According to The New School Fact Book for Fall 2006, Lang’s student body is 59.5% white, making it the whitest division of the University. Under-represented minorities, which include African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans, make up only 10.1% of the student body.

Lang’s population is more ethnically diverse than the national average, but somewhat less diverse than most New York City undergraduate student bodies. And, as the size of Lang’s student body has doubled in the past five years, its ethnic make-up has remained relatively consistent.

“Lang is diverse, but it could be more diverse,” said Jose Padilla, a senior at Lang. “It should be more diverse.”

Thankfully, this school year, Lang has already met its target of raising $100,000 for student recruitment and scholarships, and every dollar will be matched by The Schwartz Scholarship Challenge, a fund-raising incentive financed by Bernard Schwartz, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees at The New School. Now in its second year, this five-year project will raise nearly a million dollars for recruiting and scholarships to Lang with a priority for under-represented minorities.

Administrators have also developed a range of programs that actively seek out minority students, such as the Institute of Urban Education (IUE) and new exchange programs with historically black colleges and universities (HBCU). Lang also has a Diversity Committee—a group of faculty, staff, and students— currently reviewing information and forming recommendations.

According to Dean Jonathan Veitch, of Lang, the school is addressing diversity differently than most other higher-education institutions. “Most colleges focus on financial aid and marketing,” Veitch said. “We tend to focus on outreach. So [we are] not just waiting passively for students to find us.”

Nevertheless, Lang faces a distinct set of challenges in recruiting minority students. The amount of financial aid distributed to students is on par with the national average, but Lang is supported by an endowment of only $18 million, far below the average for most colleges of similar size. This means that the school must focus on fundraising to fund scholarships and recruitment.

“Anything new and exciting we want to do, we really have to raise the money to pay for it,” said Preeti Davidson, Director of Development and Alumni.

According to John White, Director of Academic Advising at Lang, non-white-identified students also have a higher rate of attrition than white students. He cited little academic experience and minimal financial aid as the most common reasons for students' leaving.

Padilla said that minorities have been well represented in some of his classes, but not in others.

“It’s not like I’m trying to speak for all Latinos, but sometimes I feel like that’s what people want me to do and that’s unfair,” Padilla said. “It’s like, ‘Okay, so the rest of you in the class get to be individuals, but I have to speak for people.'”

Veitch said there has been a push for entrance level courses that focus on African American studies, Hispanic/Latino studies, Urban Studies and other topics, responding to students' complaints that Lang lacks ethnic diversity in the student body and faculty and strong programs in these areas of study.

With the IUE, administrators have found a way to both serve Lang's need for diversity and the community's. The IUE has a number of programs that prepare young people for college, offer experiential training in high schools for college students and support development and dialogue between educators and youth-oriented organizations.

Founded in 2003, the program now reaches nine public high schools, is training fifty college students, and will soon be holding a Young Writers Conference at Lang for high school students.

“Since we start in the ninth grade we really have a shot at getting students who wouldn’t otherwise go to college,” Veitch said. “We’re getting to a group that hasn’t already decided that it’s not a possibility for them.”

This is the first year that high school students from the program are applying to college and several of them are applying to Lang, according to Ella Turrene, Director of Special Projects.

A new exchange program with Spelman College, a prestigious historically black, all-women’s college in Atlanta, is also currently being finalized. The exchange will be by semester and will include only a “handful” of students, administrators said. Another exchange program with the Katrina-ravaged Dillard University in New Orleans, also an HBCU, is in the beginning phases of development.

Administrators hope that Spelman’s reputation for civic engagement will foster activism on campus. But ultimately, it is the dialogue-based format of a Lang education that makes providing diversity here important.

“Economic and racial diversity is fundamentally important to a seminar college like Lang," Davidson said, "Where the classroom experience is greatly related to student participation, preparation and interest.”

Op-Ed: Lang to City: “Not Tonight, Honey, I’m Tired.”

Sam Lewis

By Emily Alexander

The key to all lasting, nurturing relationships is reciprocation. I service you, you service me. Sadly, The New School and the majority of the student body do not put this theory into practice when it comes to their intimate relations with the city of New York.

Despite considering themselves politically and socially active, few students participate in community service projects, and those that do receive no recognition from the school for their efforts. The New School has no service-learning department and there are no regularly scheduled volunteer events through the Office of Student Development and Activities.

The blame falls to the disorganized and inadequate administration, which is not to say some administrators are completely insensitive. As Eugene Lang expands, efforts are being made to install more community-related or service-based programs. Ella Turrene, the Director of Special Projects at Eugene Lang, is the sole overseer of these projects, which include the “I Have A Dream” Elementary Education program, the alternative Spring Break trip to Biloxi, MS to work with Habitat for Humanity, and the Newly formed Lang Outdoors division, which offer P/F courses based on community involvement.

The work Ella does is inspiring, but it is too much for any one person. (She did not respond to a number of emails asking for comment.) Case in point: the trip to Biloxi was barely publicized and cost a hefty $330, important information organizers chose not to release until the day of sign-ups.

The disorganized way that the few available service programs are being managed makes it difficult for students to participate. Most courses with a service component are geared toward education or urban studies concentrators and request several semesters of commitment. Also, Lang Outdoors programs involve a substantial amount of dedication for courses that are not even graded.

There should be regular weekly or monthly, free or low-cost community service programs open to the entire New School community. These programs should not be formatted as courses requiring intensive work or long-term commitments, but instead as fun, interesting and voluntary events. They should be designed for passionate students wanting to give something back and get a different experience of the city, or just for students needing to fulfill community service hours for a traffic/subway ticket or marijuana possession citation.

I hear daily complaints about the lack of community among Lang students. Lang-organized service opportunities would encourage students to interact more with one another outside of class. There could also be New School sanctioned scholarships or increased financial aid for students that participate or show a strong dedication to the program or community work in general.

For students still looking for ways to get involved, I suggest the following alternatives:

Food Not Bombs prepares and serves vegan food for the homeless in Tompkins Square Park. Visit ABC No Rio (156 Rivington St.) Friday or Sunday at 1 p.m. to cook and 3 p.m. to serve.

New York City Cares offers various projects at all times throughout the boroughs, including volunteer services at museums or programs to teach kids how to use cameras. Inquire about working at one for the LES Gardens, who often need weekend volunteers to garden.

The Park Slope Food Co-op (782 Union St. in Brooklyn) can lead to 40% grocery savings. It's not quite volunteering, but improving the community nonetheless.

Op-Ed: Promiscuous Monogamy

By Liz Garber-Paul & illustration by Jeremy Schlangen

Monogamy is pointless in New York. With so many underdressed women and overpaid men, who can pay attention to just one? Everywhere you look, there are model-esque girls in low cut designer dresses and tall, dark, and handsome men waiting to buy a girl a drink.

On the other hand, having someone—someone to cuddle and watch movies with on a cold night, someone who will listen to you complain about that one teacher who’s out to get you—can be comforting to come home to. And there can be a weird satisfaction in bringing the same date to two work functions. Plus, it can make you appear stable.

Still, as a twenty something New Yorker, you can’t help wonder: is monogamy worth it?

One approach to this timeless question is to try to combine the best of both worlds. Last year, New York Magazine described “today’s open hipster relationship” as a serious monogamous relationship, with one exception: partners get to sleep with other people. Some have three ways, others allow individual one-night-stands, and still others participate in orgies.

The claim is that this kind of extracurricular activity makes the relationship stronger, because lovers are acknowledging their baser impulses. I can’t buy that. In the first place, doesn’t outside contact make it, by definition, not monogamy? At any rate, I know that no amount of permission would make me okay with a boyfriend having sex with someone else—no matter how many cute boys kiss me in return.

Another strategy is to be a die-hard monogamist, but change partners as quickly as possible. In other words, commit to seeing someone exclusively—constantly—for one to three weeks, then find an arbitrary excuse to break it off. Make sure, though, that you introduce them to all your friends, and gush about him or her to family and coworkers—that’s always a plus. The best sex is in the beginning, anyway.

This technique ensures that you will always have someone fun to spend your afternoon with, someone exciting to have a cup of coffee with in between classes. On the other hand, while it might be fun for a few months, it can also become exhausting—not to mention pretty dangerous—pretty quick.

I’ll admit that, over the years, I’ve alternated between both housewife and party girl. Eventually I realized there’s another solution: the long distance open relationship.

The epiphany came last year when I was faced with the problem of "saving" myself for a West Coast man. When I talked to some acquaintances about it, several nodded knowingly, assuring me that they had one in LA, one in London, and so on.

The logic was airtight: not only does this give you the perfect comeback for unwanted attention at a bar (“Why, yes, I do have a boyfriend…”), or the perfect excuse for a spring break getaway (“Hop down to Costa Rica on your G4? I guess I could skip a few classes…”), it also allows you not to get too serious with any of the other people you may be spending time with. You can go out on as many dates as you want, have romantic picnics in Union Square with whomever, and know that there’s someone to go home to—or at least call when you get there.

Ultimately, lets face it: New York is just not for monogamists. There are too many options out there to let you settle for just one. So, get a few, and if your favorite one decides to head cross-country or across the Atlantic, try to see them just enough to make you miss them—but not enough to make you miss your life.

Op-Ed: Pardon Moi?

By Amber Sutherland

Is it impolite to print my 500-page opus at the computer lab?

Certainly not. The difference between jerks and the socially savvy is that jerks view every bump in the road as a nuisance, whereas the savvy realize that sometimes these inconveniences are really opportunities in disguise. Holding someone captive at the printing station is a fine time to try out your new stand up routine, interpretative dance or pick-up line.

Oftentimes your prospective audience will be grateful to have a little diversion from the humdrum tasks of everyday life. You don’t even have to let them know what you’re up to; feel free to launch right into your “what’s the deal with airplane food?” shtick or new “come hither” look.

If you aren’t a performer or on the prowl for your next hot date, practice your cocktail conversation. Consider talking points like, “What do you think of the latest celebrity gossip?” or “How about this crazy weather we’ve been having?” Remember to avoid discussing finance, politics, religion or anything else that would inspire interesting or meaningful conversation. You don’t have to limit these tactics just to the printer. Chat up the barista in the coffee shop when there’s a long line behind you. When a waiter asks if you have any questions about the menu, come up with at least five. And never let an elevator ride pass you by without making a new friend.

Do I have to be nice to people I don’t like?

You have to be nice to everyone. Fortunately, there are degrees of niceness you can employ. You should treat your intimates as though they were precious butterflies doomed to extinction by midnight, those on the periphery of your inner circle with charitable kindness and anyone safely behind the velvet rope of your acquaintance cordially, but with remove.

Of course, ethical questions arise when you are indiscriminately nice: Does this behavior diminish my authenticity? What if people think these losers are actually my friends? Do I really have to be nice to everyone? Even my boyfriend’s idiot friends? Worry not. Your former authenticity was most likely a delusion. If anyone questions your association with known undesirables you can make opaque remarks in their absence: “He’s really a decent guy once you get past the facial hair/alcoholism/registered sex offender thing.” And don’t think of your boyfriend's friends as idiots, but rather potential back-ups, ripe for molding.

So smile politely like Holly Golightly when those losers mention your cleavage or try to tell you about their latest manuscript. Raise an eyebrow pointedly when they suggest that you might have ended up with them instead if, “you know, this guy wasn’t in the picture.” Be a phony, but above all, a real phony.

This edition of great moments in etiquette goes to the guy who gave Lang professor Jocelyn Lieu her coat during a recent fire drill. Well played, pal.

Send your etiquette questions to

News: What's the Haps?

By Liz Garber-Paul

Valentine's Day is gone, so, by Duane Reade’s standards, we’re now stuck in a long, cold stretch to Easter. There is, of course, St. Patrick’s Day, dismissed by many as an excuse to drink green beer. But to us here at Inprint, it will be a real holiday.

Sure, going back to the motherland might be a little too costly for a celebration, but New Yorkers are in luck this year. The Pogues are coming to the Roseland Ballroom March 14, 15 and, yes, 17. Singer Shane MacGowen’s first band, The Nips, opened for The Clash and The Jam in the '80s, and before that he was a famous brawler in the London punk scene. So, it's apparent that he's a real Irishman. Go see him sing his traditional-sounding songs of drinking and debauchery, and celebrate this St. Patty’s Day in style. Tickets are available through their website, thepogues.com.

Needless to say, there are other things going on in the city to keep your mind busy.

Ever feel like the world might be too connected? Relax, and realize the rest of the world isn’t all like New York. Starting February 28th**, the Film Forum will be screening Into Great Silence, a German documentary about Roman Catholic monks that hardly speak. It’s the first film ever made about The Grande Chartreuse, the motherhouse of the legendary Carthusian Order, which has been around since the 12th century. According to its website, diegrossestille.de/english, it’s “a film about awareness, absolute presence, and the life of men who devoted their lifetimes to God in the purest form.” Sounds perfect for the tranquility of Varick and Houston.

On Saturday, March 10, join the famous beat poet (and New School professor) Hettie Jones for a party to celebrate her third collection Doing 70, which came out this February. The first, Drive, was published in 1998 and won the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award, and her second, All Told, was published in 2003. She’ll be reading and signing copies 2 to 4 p.m. at The Bowery Poetry Club.

If you want to start celebrating the Irish early, and if you’re feeling brave enough to venture onto foreign campuses, go down to NYU’s historic Provincetown Playhouse to see Moises Kaufman’s Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde. The play was written in 1997 using transcripts of Wilde's storied trial, his own works and his biographies. It chronicles his relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas, which led to Wilde’s conviction of “committing acts of gross indecency with other male persons”—not an enviable position in Queen Victoria’s England—and meant his downfall and subsequent death.

Faculty member Philip Taylor directs the NYU production and it features students from the school's music and drama programs. It runs March 1 and 3 at 8 p.m. and March 4 at 3 p.m.

News: Anaylsis: Rudd, Still an Anti-Imperialist, at Lang

arranged by Kayley Hoffman

By Eric Sorensen

Even Mark Rudd, who led a student rebellion at Columbia University, as a leader of Students for a Democratic Society, and later joined the Weathermen to bomb military and government sites around the country, thinks the activist movement will only be successful once it appeals to the masses.

"I don't see that violence builds a movement," Rudd said last week. "And anyone in this country who engages in armed action is suicidal."

That sentiment was evinced last Tuesday when Inprint hosted a discussion with Rudd at Wollman Hall titled "Media & Activism: Then & Now." Rudd began with a short talk on the suggested theme—the media coverage of the protests at Columbia in the spring of 1968—and then opened up the floor to the audience, saying that he preferred interactive discussion to dictation.

"The media coverage of the Columbia protest was phenomenal," Rudd said. "But the media got it wrong."

According to Rudd, the student press did the best job of covering the protests because they covered the students' demands and reported accurately, whereas media outlets like The New York Times painted the protestors as anarchic disruptors and vandals.

He offered this advice to the crowd of journalism students in attendance: "Study the mass media, and then do the opposite."

Rudd then transitioned smoothly to the virtues and limitations of activism in America, drawing on his experiences as a member of SDS and the Weathermen with great introspection.

"The Weathermen's error was to believe that you could only claim to be against the war in Vietnam if you had the most radical position," he said.

As a former leader of SDS, Rudd also eagerly introduced the leaders of the New School's chapter, urging them to proclaim their cause. SDS members announced a campus-wide walkout on March 12 to mark the fourth anniversary of the Iraq war.

Among the more salient issues raised at the discussion was the effectiveness of abrasive rhetoric in winning moderate support and young peoples' apathy toward the indefinite detention and torture of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay and abroad. Rudd offered that the hegemony of entertainment culture has contributed to students' ambivalence and disinterest, but added that the advent of the internet has provided an opportunity to more easily gather information.

As Rudd passed around the microphone, students soon piped up in defense of the Animal Liberation Front and pressed Rudd on his stance towards Israel. A wave of groans periodically rolled over the audience when the microphone stayed in one hand too long.

Throughout the discussion, however, Rudd argued for action and more dialogue, and demonstrated a genuine adoration of youthful idealism.

News: The Fifty Percent Solution

Senator Charles Schumer on Positively American

Josh Kurp
Schumer at The New School

By Josh Kurp

During time away from his political duties to speak about his recently released book, New York Senator Chuck Schumer (D) came to The New School on Thursday, February 22, to further discuss the points he made within its pages.

Positively American: Winning Back the Middle-Class Majority One Family at a Time was released on January 27 with the goal, as Schumer described it, “to bring the middle class back to politics.”

Schumer said he wrote the book because he, “didn’t think the Democrats were doing anything” to help the middle class. In Positively American, Schumer uses a fictional family, "the Baileys", in order to act out the life of a typical middle-class family.

Schumer said that he was worried that Democrats “have forgotten about the Baileys,” and described his book as being in two parts: the first is to “talk to the Baileys,” while the second deals with his “50% solution.”

Schumer detailed eleven goals (all of which are done in 50% increments) that would get the middle class to vote for the Democratic Party. They include reducing property taxes, Internet pornography, child obesity and dependence on fossil fuels, increasing college enrollment and improving math and reading skills in K-12 students.

When asked for his position on gay marriage by an audience member, Schumer said he was “opposed to anti-gay marriage,” but wouldn’t say whether he supported same-sex relationships.

Schumer also said that although he believes troops should be fighting terrorism, he doesn’t support the way the government is handling the fight.

“If we’re going to end this war we should change our mission from civil war to focusing on terrorism,” he said.

Arts: Amateurs Knock 'Em Dead

By Cameron Paine-Thaler

Tired of overpaying and waiting in long lines only to see a lengthy performance not worth your money and time? The hottest solution in town is a pass to The New School for Drama’s Random Acts! Festival, which opened last weekend and runs through the end of April.

The seats fill up quickly, and it’s worth the free reservation. The performances are blessedly short, plus it’s right in the neighborhood, at The New School for Drama’s Bank St. Theater, at 155 Bank St. You may even be shocked by the number of students you’ve seen lurking in the hallways who turn out to possess some amazing hidden talent.

The well-attended opening on Feb. 13 showcased five plays, each of them a student’s senior thesis work. It began with “The Loveliest Afternoon of the Year,” a nonsensical one-act comedy directed by John Guare, starring two students that fall in love every Sunday during a walk through the park.

This one ended on an absurd note: both characters died.

Though all four of the other plays were either tragic or humorous, each act had a very unique dynamic with a variety of props, characters and settings, giving the night a well rounded, balanced feel.

The final performance of the festival’s opening night, which continues every week, was the debut of Space. Bekah Brunstetter, a New School grad student, wrote the script and Diana Basmajian directed.

Space, starring four students, two of whom speak entirely through Myspace messages, pokes fun at the Internet social networking of generation Y. The audience greeted the jokes and youthful undertones about life after high school with knowing laughter. I left the theater extremely impressed that student writers, directors and actors were able to bring such personable characters to life so recognizably.

The weekend festival was definitely more engaging than any Broadway performance. The performances change each weekend and the festival’s culmination reflects some original dramatic talent.

Upcoming shows are Mar. 1 at 8 p.m., Mar. 2 at 8 p.m., and Mar. 3 at 3 p.m.

Arts: Q&A: Tim Gunn: Mobilizing Fashion Forces

By Almie Rose Vazzano & Nadia Chaudhury

Tim Gunn is trying to make it work. “Everything is going wrong today,” he says, showing two Inprint reporters to his office. His train ran late and he apologizes emphatically as he takes our coats and offers us tea. “I would much rather you keep me waiting than me keep you waiting.” We settle into his chic and comfortable office, decorated with a mix of the expected (a framed photo of his Entertainment Weekly cover with Heidi Klum) and a few surprises (a copy of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, a signed photo of Rue Machlanahan, and a Tim Gunn bobble head doll).

Inprint: How was fashion week? Any highlights?

Tim Gunn: Fashion week, in general, I am always really enthusiastic about because it is exuberant, it is over the top, it’s a public relations extravaganza. I come away from it with ‘there’s something for everyone’ point of view and it’s good, it’s good for fashion, and it’s good for the customer because once the customer has that kind of diversity in front of him or her they don’t want to go back, they do not want to be dictated to. So American fashion has changed dramatically in the past 2 decades, the last decade and a half.

I: Could you elaborate?

G: Sure, to begin the United States was nowhere on the fashion map until after World War II. Look at the case of this department, which was founded in 1906, the early graduates went to Hollywood, there wasn’t a 7th Avenue, and American dressing was pretty prescriptive. The “fashion” on the streets was all influenced by Europe and more specifically Paris. Early graduates of Parsons went to Hollywood and made a huge splash in the film industry as costume designers. In fact, the most famous ones you can think of, with the exception of Edith Head, were all from Parsons.

So, WWII hits Europe and it’s a calamity, and Paris couture houses close so there was no fashion in Europe and America has been percolating in terms of fashion design and suddenly people begin to rise to the top, most notably Claire McCardell and Norman Norell, two graduates of the school.

[When I came here in 2000, after being Associate Dean for many years], there was a crisis at Parsons. This program was suffering from atrophy, it hadn’t changed since 1952 when a revised curriculum was put in place and the view of the department was that it if the graduates had been so successful, what could possibly be wrong? There was no dialogue up here, no one spoke except for the faculty, and it was awful. Basically it was a dress-making department if you ask me, and I do not mean that in a nice way.

I: Where did it come from? Your interest in fashion?

G: I have had a bit of architecture; I have had a lot of fine arts. As someone deeply interested in architecture, there are some similarities between that way of thinking and fashion. What is very different about fashion is the context. Fashion happens in a context that is societal, historic, cultural, and economic and political to a degree too. I have to make a distinction between clothes and fashion. We need clothes, we do not need fashion. There is a difference and I am proud to say we are educating students in fashion here, fashion with a capital F.

I: The big question: why are you leaving?

G: I tell you, I thought I would retire here. I never dreamed of leaving. Bill McCone (the new CEO of Liz Clairborne) calls me and says ‘Lets get together, I would love to talk to you.’ Such an incredible guy, he’s filled with great ideas. We had been talking for about an hour and said ‘I need you…I need someone to serve as a mentor to the 350 designers among all the brands.’ You could have knocked me over with a feather. I was in a state of shock. I was not expecting this. As I keep telling the seniors this year I leave here with my butterfly net picking you up and taking you over there to work.

I: What will you miss most about Parsons?

G: What I’ll miss most is working with highly creative, intelligent young people who are fearless. You tell them something in the studio for them to do and the thrilling, exciting thing is that I never know what they are going to do with it, except I know that I will be completely wowed by it.

I: Will Project Runway still be at Parsons?

G: It’s supposed to be. The university wants it to come back. The producers want it to come back. The only thing that would prevent the show form coming back is the schedule. We have to tape it between the end of the spring semester and before Labor Day. That’s our window, but everyone wants to come back. Otherwise we would have to build a set. It should come back, the only difference being that my office is Heidi’s dressing room and Heidi will have to find a new dressing room.

I: What trend is over?

G: I hope it’s the low-rise jeans.

I: It seems like there is a distinct twenty-something New York look. I was standing outside and it’s such a treat watching Parsons students enter, it’s like a fashion show. What makes this look different or unique?

G: Students here mix it up that is unexpected by taking various pieces and using them in ways that are innovative. Or the way they embellish something, I saw a great jean jacket completely covered in thousands of safety pins. And it’s Vivienne Westwood inspired, but the pattern of the safety pins was great and fun.

I: Are you doing another show for Bravo?

G: It’s based on my book. A fashion makeover show. I am not a fashion Svengali, I am a fashion therapist.

I: Will we see you again on Ugly Betty?

G: I hope so. That was fun! What did you think? No, don’t tell me!

Arts: Theater: At Least It's Pink

Richard Mitchell
Bridget Everett gets wasted while Kenny Mellman watches, in At Least It’s Pink.

By Najva Soleimani

What do you get when you mix a fat nympho, a gay man, and a director of Sex and The City, Michael Patrick King? The one-woman show, At Least It’s Pink.

The performance begins with Bridget Everett informing the audience that she is, “like a hooker with a heart. Except I don’t have a heart. And I don’t charge.” If you like the first line, then rejoice—because it’s only foreplay. Everett is there to tit-elate, and she’s got the one-night stand stories to prove it.

Bridget is full of story and song, entertaining the crowd like an XXX Barney. And with the theatre so small and personal, XXX Barney loves to come and sit with the crowd and engage them—by asking old women their favorite sexual position. Or giving condoms to a cute Asian gay man. Or asking the whole audience to help her make fun of the straight man with the chain wallet.

Between gulps from her bottles of wine, Bridget Everett is likely to offend everyone. The woman has no limits. In the number called the two-for-one special, she does a jingle about getting twins aborted. It is embarrassingly funny (who, after all, is not ashamed at laughing at dead baby jokes? Other than Bridget, of course).

With lines like “Santa came early, and apparently all over my chest,” and “whiskey is like a warm hug on the inside,” she soon becomes the hilariously trashy drunk friend you ask for sex tips, and who comes with you to karaoke. Of course, you will end up having to mouth “sorry” to the bouncer as he drags her out the back door, her pants around her ankles and some man’s number scribbled on her hand.

The New York Times recently reported that the audience would leave the theatre, "ruing the day that fishnet was invented." But some happen to like a fat women singing while wearing a corset, fishnets, and a thong— it’s like opera with less clothing.

Even Bridget admits she’s “a big motherfucking woman," and adds, "Can you handle that shit?”

At Least It's Pink runs through April 1st at the Ars Nova Theatre.

Rating: I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly. Or maybe you are. Drink a shot first.

Arts: Best Five: Sexy Rock Jams

By Josh Kurp

5. "I Wanna Sex You Up" by Color Me Badd
It's funny 'cause it's true.

4. "Femme Fatale" by The Velvet Underground
It's not so much about sex as it is about a woman who leads a man (who happens to be "number 37" in her book) into thinking that he has a chance to "get" with her. Just like a woman, eh?
3. "Creatures of Love" by Talking Heads
Extra! Extra! Hot of the presses: David Bryne has seen sex and thinks it's alright!

2. "The Mud Shark" by the Mothers of Invention
Delivered with the sarcastic sincerity he's known for, Frank Zappa chronicles the adventures of a little lady and her dealings with the band The Vanilla Fudge.

1. "Sexuality" by Billy Bragg
"I've had relations/with girls from many nations" is the first of many great lines this underrated songwriter sings in his ode to all women, especially if they're in their "naked body of work." This song would even work for Inprint's upcoming Queer Issue, with the lyric, "And just because you're gay/doesn't mean I'll turn you away."

Arts: Theater: Strom Thurmond Is Not a Racist/Cleansed

By Amber Sutherland

Those wacky racists are at it again in Strom Thurmond Is Not a Racist and Cleansed, consecutive one-acts by Thomas Bradshaw at Brooklyn’s Immediate Theater Company. Each play alerts its liberal audience to the horrors of racism via irony and Jose Zayas’ after school special style of directing. The first act, a pseudo-bio of dead bigot Thurmond, might have been interesting were it not for Makeda Christodoulos’ awful, shouting portrayal of dual roles (Thurmond’s mistress and daughter). Cleansed is much better, thanks largely to Barrett Doss’ comparatively good turn as an African-American skinhead.

Rating: Try to sneak in after intermission.

Arts: Film: Things We Lost in the Fire

By Courtney Nichols

There is only one thing I love more than a drunken Paula Abdul doing high-kicks on morning television: forced Halle Berry crying sessions. If her display of fake emotion was not enough at the 2002 Academy Awards, then Things We Lost in the Fire will satisfy all your cravings for single tear emotionless breakdowns. Drowning in close-ups of pupils (possibly the dope theme spawned memories of Requiem for a Dream) and gag-worthy acting that is captured by Berry's quote, "If I did not have children, I would just do heroin all day," this movie is quite possibly the worst ever made. And that's an understatement. The most disappointing aspect of the film is Benicio Del Toro, who unfortunately returns from his acting hiatus to co-star in this plotless, pointless, meaningless, made-for-Lifetime melodrama with no sense of direction. If you desire all the side effects of being a smack junkie, without actually doing the drugs, see this movie. It will surely drain every ounce of creativity from your soul. On a good note, the young boy in the movie has an uncanny resemblance to Justin Guarini.

Rating: At least it's not Catwoman. I think?

Arts: Film: Into Great Silence

By Lauren Taylor

Into Great Silence, made by Philip Groning, is not so much a documentary as an embodiment of the silent practice of monastic life. The film is silent for the first 35 minutes, notwithstanding hushed sounds of nature. Dialogue is introduced in a revealing scene where the head Carthusian monk welcomes two young men into the cloister, the celibacy house where the most committed Christians reside. While each monk affectionately embraces each new member in a commitment ceremony, the translated phrase, "Lord you have seduced me, and I was seduced" appears on the screen. Is that a nod from Groning to suggest homosexuality? The lack of narration leads the viewer to wonder what Groning makes of this lifestyle, as the audience becomes neurotically aware of what he chooses to focus on. Hungry for a guiding voice, it becomes the job of the audience to attribute meaning to this film. In one alarming scene, an airplane flies overhead, perhaps to prompt the meditative viewer into remembering that this world of monks, albeit visually stunning, has an insular vision of the world. Hats off to Groning for his six-month sojourn at the Chantreuse, and his masterfully beautiful portrait of both an alienating and fascinating universe, one inhabited by people truly different from their viewers. A work that took 16 years from conception to the final product, the film more than deserves its win of the 2006 European Film Academy award for Best Documentary.

Into Great Silence opens February 28.

Rating: Silence is golden.

Arts: Music: Arcade Fire, Neon Bible

By Kevin Dugan

The Arcade Fire's first full-length album, Funeral, is very different from their latest release, Neon Bible. Funeral was, hands-down, one of the best releases of this decade. There's so much inspired tension, melody and Talking Heads influence that it's hard to tear yourself away from it, even today.

Neon Bible has tension, melodies and Talking Heads all over it, but unlike its predecessor, it just doesn't stop sucking. Rather than using the entire septet, the band is boiled down to its two core songwriters, Win Butler and Regine Chassagne. In that way, the band falls flat with half-baked melodies and lyrics.

There are bright spots, though, mostly in the production. The pregnant sounds could have come from Brian Eno, a testament to the band's engineering skills. Otherwise, forget the hype and give Funeral another spin.

Rating: Listen to Neon Bible like you listen to Pat Robertson.

Arts: Music: Peter Bjorn and John, Writer's Block

By Lauren Taylor

Writer's Block, the sophomore effort of Peter Bjorn And John, falls short of the band's first album, Falling Out, with too strong a resemblance to similar cult bands such as Spoon and Deerhoof. Instantly reminiscent of the Shins, who brought retro pop back, Peter Bjorn and John write safe lyrics that do not bring the term "art rock" to mind. "I laugh more often now/I cry more often now" goes one tune, "Object of My Affection." It's simplistic stuff with a bit of boyhood angst sprinkled on top. The album does have its moments, including the thoughtful, skilled tones of "Up Against the Wall," that nearly save it. But not quite.

Rating: The Shins do it again with Wincing the Night Away!