New School Students Protest Military Recruitment
About fifty students held a campus walkout on March 12th to commemorate four years of war in Iraq, then staged a sit-in at a military recruitment center.
By Hannah Rappleye & Peter Holslin
Twenty members of Students for a Democratic Society at The New School and Pace University were hauled to jail in police trucks on March 12 after besieging a military recruitment center on Chambers Street, blockading the door, and refusing to leave.
The protest stemmed from an SDS-sponsored “Campus Walkout” at The New School, which marked the fourth anniversary of the Iraq War. About 50 New School students gathered in front of the New School building on 65 5th Avenue at 10:30 a.m. to protest. Students waved signs and chanted, passed around a bullhorn and made speeches denouncing the war on the steps of the building.
“We as the New School can say we don’t want this war anymore,” shouted Lang junior and SDS member Lucas Hartstone-Rose. He said U.S. citizens must pressure Congress to use the “power of the purse-string” to cease funding the war.
SDS Members inside Chambers St. recruiting center.
After half an hour, students announced they would invade a recruiting center and headed down 5th Avenue, through Washington Square Park and into Chinatown. Lang freshman Kyle Jacques played drums on a garbage can as the group chanted, "It's bullshit, get off it, this war is for profit!"
Minutes before reaching the recruitment center, New School students met a group of SDS members from Pace University. The two groups merged and rushed through the doors of the recruitment center. About 100 students remained outside, shouting anti-war slogans and songs.
As military recruiters slammed and locked their doors inside the center, students gathered “Go Army” recruitment pamphlets and threw them onto the street, then dragged a large pamphlet rack over to the entrance of the center.
Once the door was blocked, the students sat down in the narrow hallway, locked arms and announced they would not leave until the war was over.
Soon, 40 New York police officers arrived at the scene. Officers kicked in the flyer display the students had set up and sealed all entrances to the office. They deliberated for around 40 minutes while the students remained inside.
After the standoff, a marine in fatigues entered the office and said that any students who left voluntarily would not be arrested. One protestor who had just arrived from Florida and an Inprint reporter left.
Police videotaped the event and a plainclothes officer took photographs of the students. Most of the students turned their heads or covered their faces with posters while being photographed.
When asked why police were videotaping the protest, Sergeant Ceccarelli, an NYPD officer who declined to give his first name, said “There is no way in hell I’m going to tell you that.”
NYPD officials declined to comment.
The students were searched and photographed before being put into two police trucks and transported to the detention facility at 100 Centre Street in Manhattan. They were held for about 25 hours and charged with 3rd degree criminal trespassing. Their sentencing date is May 23.
SDS members said they are satisfied with the outcome of the protest.
“I would do it again,” said Lang sophomore Diane Taha.
Matt Bathlei, a junior at Lang who is not an SDS member, wasn't planning on attending the event because he was not sure if he agreed with supporting an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq. "I'm strongly against the war," he said, but added that "Iraq will just descend into more turmoil” if the United States withdraws troops.
However, Bathlei decided to attend because he wanted to show solidarity with SDS.
"The student body does have a position on the war," he said. "Some action needs to be taken."
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Tuesday, April 3, 2007
New School Students Protest Military Recruitment
What $40 Grand Will Get You
Revenue Sources. 2005-2006
Source: The New School
By Alex Waddell
One afternoon in early March, beneath stark murals of oppression and uprising in 66 West 12th Street's Orozco conference room, students and administrators discussed The New School's $236 million operating budget at a seminar led by Nancy Steir , Vice President for Budget and Planning.
The seminar, "Developing the 2007/2008 University Operating Budget," gave insight into the challenges of financing a university in the midst of expanding and consolidating its resources. Thanks to the half-dozen Lang students in the room, the seminar was also a forum for a range of suggestions and complaints.
Steir assured that the university's budget is healthy and getting stronger every year, but did not hesitate to say that The New School's financial situation is weak compared to the universities it competes with for Princeton review rankings.
"Our finances are good, but we are not a Harvard, we are not a Yale, we are not schools that have massive endowments and large amounts of grants and gifts," Steir said. "That means we have to rely more heavily on tuition for our operating costs."
Student tuition accounts for 74% of the university's revenues, with gifts, grants and contracts comprising only 10%, money from the dormitories and health center 10%, money from the endowment only 3%, and 1% from governmental aid, reported a paper Steir wrote, distributed at the seminar.
The New School doesn't receive many government grants because, according to Steir , the majority of grants are for scientific research and The New School doesn't have a core science program. She later added that the university doesn't spend much on research, either.
Salaries and fringe benefits for faculty and administration make up 63% of the university's expenses, according to the seminar paper.
"Higher education is a labor intensive industry," Steir said, looking at the group of students. "It's all about having a faculty member teach a student and that's what we spend most of our money on."
Salary increases for full-time faculty and administrative staff are outpacing the cost of living increase. According to the seminar paper, salaries rose by 4% in 2006/2007, while the Consumer Price Index in New York rose 3.4%.
In fall 2006, The New School hired 30 new full-time faculty members and is in its second year of boosting its full-time faculty with new hires. As part of the university's general initiative to grow and integrate its largely independent divisions, many of these teachers have been hired jointly by two divisions of the university and will teach classes at both.
Despite the university's reliance on tuition, The New School's yearly tuition hike, averaged across its many divisions, has stayed within the national average of 5.5-6.5%. Tuitions for the 2007/2008 year have been recently announced on the The New School's website, with the largest increases of 7-8% at Lang, Mannes, and the Jazz and Contemporary Music divisions, and an average increase across divisions of 6%.
The amount of tuition revenue that goes back to students in the form of university scholarships, called the tuition discount rate, has also grown. "For every dollar of student tuition collected in 1983 we only gave back 8 cents in financial aid," Steir said.
Now, "25% of the amount of money we collect in tuition is turned around and spent on financial aid," she added. "So, as tuition rates have gone up we have been spending more and more money on financial aid."
While financial aid is making The New School a possibility for lower income students, tuition is nearly as high as many Ivy League schools, and has much fewer resources available to students.
One Lang student at the seminar noted that the student body of undergraduate divisions is growing dramatically, while graduate divisions have declined, and asked the administrators if they had done this deliberately.
Another Lang student suggested that many students do not support a growing undergraduate body and complained that students have not been part of the discussion.
Steir agreed that the undergraduate body is growing, but denied that it was at the expense of other divisions and mentioned that the seminar was meant to address student concerns. She asked one student if he thought that there was anything to be gained by growing in size.
"You gain and you lose," the student said. "You gain more options in classes and more professors. You lose community and you lose the sort of relationships you have with the university.”
Jim Murtha, Executive Vice President of The New School, weighed in: "Not to cite this as fact, but there is a lot of discussion, for example, that 2000 students is the right scale for a liberal arts college." He added, "We're not at that size yet and we haven't made a decision that that should be the size of Lang College, but there is a lot of discussion about that."
When asked if they could suggest any improvements on the budget, students asked for 24-hour study facilities, a student center, space and money for a student radio station, and a better sound system for the sky bridge.
The administration announced The New School has hired a consulting firm, Innovative Design Offerings, to track how university facilities are used and suggest improvements and plans for new construction and renovation. In one part of this process, students can volunteer to be shadowed by employees of the firm.
One student asked for a list of every investment of the endowment and the names of the companies and individuals behind every gift, grant, and contract. Administrators gave a basic description of the variety of ways the endowment is invested and said that information about most of the university's gifts, grants, and contracts will be available in the forthcoming 2006/2007 Annual Report.
Lang students prance and leap for academic credit
By Estelle Hallick
On a rainy Friday afternoon in Room 001 on 12th St., everyone is barefoot except one girl in white socks and professor Rebecca Stenn in blue socks. Five mirrors, five pillars, a piano, and a barre surround the circular studio.
In the 1930s, modern dance pioneer Martha Graham used this space for classes and lectures. Today, Lang students use the studio to create movement and use dance as their bridge to other realms of art.
Lang has entered year four of its dance program. Originally its own concentration, Dance recently joined Theatre, Music, and Arts in Context as a track under the Arts Program. Dance boasts about 40 concentrators and is overseen by 14 part-time professors. Some professors run their own dance companies and others have danced with well-known organizations like Pilobolus.
The interdisciplinary framework of the program sets Lang apart from dance conservatories, where students practically live in a studio and do not have the opportunity to explore other subjects. Lang recognizes the current direction of dance, as more artists are enlisting visuals, music, and text to create pieces. Since the integration of the arts last fall, there has been a substantial boost in the amount of non-dance students enrolling in the classes.
“The history of the arts and The New School was based on collaboration,” said Jaime Santora, director of the arts program at Lang. A faculty member for the past seven years, Santora has seen the program progress since it’s birth. “All students take classes which look at art—historically, socially, culturally, and politically.”
For the past two years, students in spring dance performance learned classic pieces of choreographers like Graham and Jose Lemon. Half of the semester has been spent perfecting technique, and the remaining time celebrates the history of the artist and the context of the piece. “All of these things are supplementing and adding to your background as an artist," Santora said. "You have to open yourself up.”
Maia McCoy, a Lang senior, understands the importance of intermingling the arts. “My dancing is fueled by everything…poetry and literature,” she said. And even photography classes have inspired her to create “scenes” for the audience. For her senior work, Maia’s choreography blends influences like garage band music and Sylvia Plath with a handmade oven.
McCoy was also a part of Lang’s first showing at the American College Dance festival at Williams College. Two pieces (featuring five students) were chosen by Lang faculty to perform in the festival, which included 30 other colleges. The students took part in workshops and participated in three performances where they received critiques from three professional artists. “I think people are really starting to recognize Lang College because there was a certain little buzz going around,” Santora proclaimed proudly.
From technique classes to improvisation to body politics, the dance program, as any four-year-old, is still taking shape—adding and experimenting with guest artists, classes, and the first Spring Arts Festival to be unveiled this April. “I think a lot of people think dance is just physical…and that’s what we are trying to change.” Santora concludes with a huge smile: “It’s [also] about engaging intellectually, showing how the arts connect to a larger world.”
By Peter Holslin
Two weeks ago, the Iraqi government reported that around 2,300 Iraqi families have returned to their homes. Evidently, the war-torn country’s new joint security plan has brought newfound peace and stability.
Still, the experience of one family, a 67-year-old widow, her daughter and two teenage granddaughters, tells a dark story. A few weeks ago, when they arrived at their house in the deserted Amil community in Baghdad, their car packed with their belongings, they could not stay long.
Someone had spray-painted a note in red on one wall. “Residents of this house, your blood is wanted,” it read. “Leave.”
Over the past few weeks, Congress has jockeyed over an emergency-spending bill that would allot a hundred billion dollars for the war and institute benchmarks ensuring service members are adequately prepared before they are deployed to the country. Both the House and the Senate voted to include an amendment that calls for a troop withdrawal to begin in 120 days, and for troops to be out of the country by March 2008. Some lawmakers voted against the amendment. They demanded an even more immediate withdrawal.
There is no end in sight to violence in Iraq, but the American forces are pursuing a security plan that has shown some success. It is a wonder why democrats in Congress are demanding a speedy pull out so soon. As it is, this bill neglects these families, who have escaped their own homes and now fear for their lives.
Between March 16 and March 25, 560 civilians lost their lives in Iraq, according to the tracking project, Iraq Body Count. The majority were kidnapped, tortured and executed, or killed in bomb attacks. As the family in Amil escaped their old neighborhood a second time, four family members in the village of al-Buajeel, including a baby, met a grisly fate. Insurgents met them in their house and shot them dead.
Congress needs to keep these families in mind when it plans how long the American forces should stay in Iraq. At this point in the war, the American forces can finally offer some security. But if our troops leave Iraq in less than a year, America should consider what else we owe Iraq. This nation has a complicated history and we have laid groundwork for a chaotic future.
The nation of Iraq gained independence from the British in 1932, and Iraqis persevered through decades of monarchical rule and military coups. With a diverse body of Shia and Sunni Muslims, Christians and Kurds, the country retained a rich artistic and political culture.
Then, in 1968, the Baath Party took control of the country and they subjected Iraqis to terrifying panoptic controls. The Baaths led “Fifth Column” raids. Saddam Hussein rose to the presidency in 1979, and escalated a ruthless torture program dubbed “The Instrument of Yearning.” The party liquefied real and imaginary dissidents alike, running them through kangaroo courts, torture chambers, and prisons. In 1980, Hussein attacked Iran, and scores of Iraqis were sent to die in a war that lasted eight years.
When the United States finally ousted Saddam Hussein in 2003, Iraqis were no doubt relieved of this catastrophic burden. We could have brought stability, but instead we ensured for these people a great instability.
The top U.S. administrator in the country, Paul Bremer, dissolved the Iraqi Army. The U.S. government helped form a parliament that subjugated former Baath members and offered advantages to the country’s majority Shia population and the Kurdish minority, further sowing sectarian resentment. Donald Rumsfeld, then the U.S. secretary of defense, deluded by grand ambitions, cut troop levels. Looters overwhelmed Baghdad’s museums and troops could not effectively contain Baghdad’s streets, put down militants, and prevent suicide and roadside bombings.
The government also alienated Iraqis sympathetic to the American occupation. Inside the U.S. Embassy, Steve Coll wrote recently in The New Yorker, American officials—typically ones who knew little about Iraq—ignored Iraqi employees who had a special knowledge of the nation’s people, politics and culture.
Iraqi translators, drivers and office workers kept at their jobs, but had to hide their identities, sleep in cars and live in fear of the militants who killed more and more of their coworkers. Meanwhile, many U.S. diplomats treated them with great suspicion and purged them from their offices, preferring Jordanian employees instead.
Now, over four years after invading Iraq, we have adopted a new security plan that probably would have been effective at the war's inception. There have been some signs of hope: Families have been able to return to their homes and the Iraqi government is beginning diplomatic talks with insurgents.
But Congress is not satisfied: they are saying we should leave this country as soon as possible. The Iraqis should head up the parliament that we helped build, contain the violence that we helped foment, and control an uncertain future that we helped define.
Indeed, the Iraqis should have control over their own fate. Nevertheless, the United States must offer more to Iraq than a speedy pull out, because the problems are complicated: today, terrorists impersonate security forces, the Bush Administration refuses negotiations with Iran and innocent families in Iraq cower in fear. Iraqis will not simply forget what we have done to their country, so when our troops no longer patrol their streets, we must still consider what we can do for Iraq.
By Nadia Chaudhury
Narrow, cobblestoned streets where cars, scooters and people alike make way for each other. Vias e vicolos. Gelato. The seven hills of Rome. Palm trees standing next to fig trees. Hail falling through the ceiling of the Pantheon. Piazzas. The Tiber. Old, weathered, beautiful buildings. Detailed churches and statues. Restored architecture. THrowing a Euro into the Trevi Fountain.
From top to bottom: Streets of Rome; Piazza Santa Maria; The Roman Forum, Basilica of Saint Peter in Piazza San Pietro
By Peter Holslin & Ryan Hale
The ornate mansion and lush grounds of the Chicora Wood plantation have been perserved, in part, because Jamie and Marcia Constance bought and renovated the area in the mid-1980s. They now operate a turf farm, and harvest about 800 acres of green grass, which they sell to the neighboring communities. Old rice flanked the creks off the Pee Dee River, reminding one of Chicora's past.
From top to bottom: The owner of the Chicora Wood Plantation points out a schoolhouse while floating down the Pee Dee River; the entrance to the Chicora Wood house.
By Julia Schweizer
I spent my time here in very un-vacationy 35 degree weather. Not one for the surging, techno music of discotecas, I opted for an Afro-Cuban experimental jam session at Club Jamboree in La Plaza Catalunya or the smoky Harlem Jazz Club at night, to name a couple. Despite a week full of "ques?" due to ignorance of Catalan, the native language of Barcelona, the week was a blast.
From top to bottom: The top of Barcelona's Museu de Zoologico on an overcast day; a view from La Rambla at sunset.
By Sam Lewis
"One if by land, & two if by sea;
& I on the opposite shore will be."
- Henry Longfellow
from top to bottom: North End of Boston; Charles River walkway; Boston University sailboats along the Charles
There is a mostly faceless group of 54 men and women who serve The New School. They are elected in four-year terms and may serve an unlimited number of times. They give the school money for education and get buildings named after them. But if you were to see them on campus, you wouldn’t recognize them—even though they play crucial roles in each student’s experience at The New School. They are the Board of Trustees.
In Whom We Trust: The Members of the Board
By Josh Kurp
Henry H. Arnhold
Born in Dresden, Germany, Arnhold moved with his family to New York in 1937. He has been a member of the The New School's Board of Trustees since 1985 and serves on the advisory board for The New School’s World Policy Institute. He is co-chairman and director of Arnhold & S. Bleichroeder, Inc., an investment banking firm and international securities brokerage. The firm employs nearly 90 professionals with over $29-billion in profits. Mr. Arnhold is also the president of the Arnhold Foundation, which donates money to the New York Foundation for the Arts, among others.
Arnold H. Aronson (Vice Chair)
-Director of Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation
-Chairman of the Board of Governors at Lang and serves on the Board of Governors at Parsons
-Has also served as chairman and CEO at Saks Fifth Avenue, Inc.
Diane P. Baker
Elected to the Board of Trustees in 2001, Bewkes began her career as a producer for ABC News, during which time she helped launch 20/20. She’s a rare breed at The New School—she won an Emmy for her production efforts at 20/20. In the early '80s, she won a Writers Guild Award in Outstanding Television Documentary for a piece about Love Canal, an area in upstate New York that was used as a toxic waste dump by Hooker Chemical and Plastics Corporation. Outside of producing, she also writes and directs for television and film journalism. As if that weren’t enough, she is also on the Advisory Board for the Museum of Natural History.
Franci J. Blassberg
- Attorney at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
- Named one of the "100 most influential lawyers in America" by The National Law Journals
- Named Dealmaker of the Year by The American Lawyer
Steven H. Bloom
Richard J. Bressler
Now here’s a career: Bressler began at the Ernst & Young accounting firm in 1979, moved to Time Warner Inc. in 1988, and from March 1995 to June 1999, he served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the company. Then, from 2001 until 2005, Bressler served as Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Viacom, Inc. He currently works a “humble” job as Managing Director at Thomas H. Partners, an equity firm. Not a bad resume for a 49-year-old.
Robert E. Denham
- A partner at Munger, Telles & Olson LLP
- Former Chairman and CEO at Salomon, Inc.
Beth Rudin DeWoody
- Presides over her family's philanthropic foundation, The May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation, Inc.
- Grandfather, Samuel Rudin, was an early supporter of the New York City Marathon and the race's trophy is named after him
- President and founder of Center for Humans and Nature
- Also serves on advisory boards at the University of Chicago, Yale Institute of Biospheric Studies and National Humanities Center, among others
- Professional lobbyist
- Special Asst. of Legislative Affairs for Reagan Administration from 1988 to 1989. Held same position for George Bush, Sr. until 1990
- Appointed Budget Director at the White House by President George W. Bush
The New School
Douglas D. Durst
Durst is co-chairman of New York Water Taxi, a way of getting around town by boat instead of foot. He also co-owns of one of the largest organic farms in New York. He is on the Board of Directors for The Town Hall, a non-profit organization that hosts different arts events, and is the third generation to run the Durst Organization, a real-estate developer. Among other accomplishments, the Durst Organization is currently building the “world’s most environmentally responsible high-rise building,” according to their website, which will be located at One Bryant Park. He also owns the CondeNast tower on the Upper West Side, and the Lorillard Building. But his real claim to fame is the national debt clock near Times Square, which his father built in the 1980s.
Walter A. Eberstadt
- Limited Managing Director of Lazard Freres & Co. LLC, a private investment banking firm
- Chairman of the Advisory Board for the World Policy Institute
Cheryl Cohen Effron
Michael B.G. Froman
- Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer of Citigroup Alternative Investments
- Has served as Chief of Staff and Deputy Assistant of Security for Eurasia and the Middle East in the U.S. Department of Treasury under the Clinton Administration
- Former editor of the Harvard Law Review
Michael J. Fuchs
- Founder of the Michael Fuchs Charitable Foundation
- Former head of sports and original programming divisions at HBO
- Former Chairman and CEO of Warner Music Group, but resigned under pressure
Nancy A. Garvey
- Volunteer, advisor, fundraiser and board member at Bronx Preparatory Charter School
- Former senior financial analyst at General Motors
Michael E. Gellert (Vice Chair)
- Presiding Independent Director for Six Flags, Inc.
- A director of Humana Inc., a health insurance provider
Paul A. Gould
- Managing Director and Executive Vice President of Allen & Company, an investment bank (a factor behind the Disney and ABC merger)
Susan U. Halpern
- President of the Sirius Fund
Jane D. Hartley
- Vice President of Westinghouse Broadcasting and Cable
- Former Associate Assistant to President Jimmy Carter
William E. Havemeyer (Vice Chair)
William H. Hayden
- Senior Managing Director of Bears, Stearns and Co.
- Sat on President Lyndon Johnson's National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders
- Has raised billions of dollars for pet projects in Atlanta and New York
George W. Haywood
- Private investor
- Former Managing Director for Lehman Brothers, a global investment bank
Leo J. Hindery, Jr.
- CEO of Global Crossing Ltd., a worldwide telecommunications company
- Chairman and CEO of GlobalCenter Inc., “Australia’s Premier Data Centre”
Robert T. Hoerle
- Member of Reich and Tang, an assessment management company
Michael J. Johnston
The New School
Ever wonder what it’s like to have a rather important job in a company that's worth over $3-billion? Well, if you see Kauffman wandering through the halls of The New School, be sure to ask him: Kaufman is Chief Executive of Good Energies, a large investor in renewable energy. He also serves on the New York Philharmonic's board, Foreign Policy Association (a non-profit organization that looks to educate the public about U.S. foreign policy) and Yale School of Management's Board of Advisors, among others.
- President of The New School
- U.S. Senator of Nebraska, 1989-2001
- Actual first name is Joseph
- Founder of the I Have a Dream Foundation and REFAC Technology Development Cooperation
- Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Clinton in 1996
- Has a college named after him
- Retired lawyer; now writes books
- President Reagan appointed him Commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission
Robert B. Millard (Treasurer)
- Managing Director of Lehman Brothers, Inc., a global investment bank
- Director of L-3 Communications Corporation, a manufacturer of electronic communications equipment, principally for the defense industry
Robert H. Mundheim
- Counsel to Shearman & Sterling, an international law firm
- Former Senior Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Salomon Smith Barney Holdings, Inc.
- Head ad salesperson at Google
- Former Time magazine employee
- President and CEO of Cambium Learning, a company that provides materials and technology to K-12 school programs
- Current Director of Priceline.com
- Managing Director and Executive Vice President of Allen and Co. LLC, an investment bank
- A Trustee at Princeton University.
Richard Reiss, Jr.
- Chairman of Georgica Advisors, LLC, a private investment management firm
- Director at The Lazard Funds, Inc., also an investment firm
Ramon J. Rodriquez
The New School
Sapan has the distinction of being the only member on the Board of Trustees to be on IMDb.com, along with Regis Philbin and Bob Balaban. Sapan leads Rainbow Media Holdings LLC., which has created such television networks as American Movie Classics, fuse, Independent Film Channel and Women’s Entertainment. He began his tenure at Rainbow Media as president. Four years later, he switched to Chief Operating Officer. Since then, the company has annually posted net revenues of over $1-billion. Outside of serving for The New School, he is also on the board for the American Museum of the Moving Image and the International Radio and Television Society Foundation.
Philip Scaturro (Chairman)
- Managing Director at Allen & Company, an investment firm.
- Treasurer of the Board for Lincoln Center's New York City Opera
James C. Slaughter
- Trustee at The School of American Ballet and Carnegie Hall
Malcolm B. Smith
- Professor at The New School for Social Research
William J. Snipes
Snipes is a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell, a prestigious law firm. He has also been involved in antitrust litigation with the crude oil industry, the NFL and “Big Tobacco” companies. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1986. Otherwise, information on this fellow is hard to come by.
- Chairman of Caribbean International News Corporation
- Owner of a San Juan-based newspaper, *El Vocero de Puerto Rico*
Julien J. Studley (Vice Chair)
- Principal at Studley New Vista Associates, which is currently involved in real estate investments, providing affordable housing and consulting
- Founded Julien J. Studley, Inc., a commercial real estate brokerage firm, in 1954. Its employees bought out the firm in 2002
- Executive Vice President for Global Communications at The Estee Lauder Companies, Inc.
-Had several high-level communications and government relations posts at American Express Company
The New School
Stephen C. Swid
As Chairman and CEO of SESAC, Inc., one of the only three performing rights organizations in the United States, Swid is at the forefront of pushing for songwriters and publishers to be compensated for their music. Without SESAC and the other two companies like it, people would essentially be able to steal other people’s music with no retributions. Some of the artists that have used SESAC include Justin Timberlake, Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan. Swid has also sponsored events at the MoMA, Metropolitan Museum and Guggenheim.
- Japanese textile magnate
- Gave Donna Karan, who gives a lecture series at Parsons, a job
- Developed his own style of Japanese management that allows each employee to work in any capacity
John L. Tishman (Vice Chair)
- Chairman and CEO of Tishman Real Estate Services
- Played a crucial role in building the World Trade Center and Epcot, of Walt Disney World
George Walker (Vice Chair)
- Global Head of the Investment Management Division at Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc.
William D. Zabel, Esq.
- Secretary for the American Foundation for AIDS Research
- Member of the Board of Doctors of the World, an international organization that deals in health and human rights services in disenfranchised areas
Profile: Bernard L. Schwartz
By Liz Garber-Paul
Bernard Schwartz’s office looks like something out of a Cary Grant movie. His computer-less desk is messy and covered in stacks of papers. He is framed by two geometric, clear glass lamps positioned on another table behind him. There are two pictures of him laughing with Bill Clinton and another of him on the cover of New York Times Magazine. He is an elderly man, wearing a tailored grey suit and a tie covered in multicolored school buses.
But despite the location—a corner office 30 stories over the Bergdorf Men’s Store with views of Central Park—he is the kind of millionaire you don’t see in the news very often.
Schwartz, an 80 year-old business executive and philanthropist, has served on The New School’s Board of Trustees for three years. As a native New Yorker, Schwartz says he has focused his philanthropic efforts on giving back to the city that made him who he is.
”It takes a lot of effort,” Schwartz says. “This is not an easy city because the energy level is so high in every direction, but the rewards are so great.”
Schwartz says that although he and his family have three general philanthropic areas of interest—medical research, educational initiatives, and cultural and civic organizations—they must all have a connection with New York.
“This is the most exciting city in the world, which is distinguished by the fact that there are so many competing cultural things that are going on,” he says. “We want to advance that competition and that activity.”
Schwartz has another passion—the Democratic Party. According to NBC, he was the single largest contributor between 1992 and 1996, when Clinton was in office.
“It’s easy for me to be supportive of a democratic leader who has a view of his world similar to mine,” says Schwartz about the former president. He also supports Hillary’s run for the White House, and attended her fundraiser in March. “It was a love-in!” he says.
During the time he spent in Washington in the 1990’s, Schwartz became good friends with Bob Kerrey. So when the former Senator became the president of The New School, Schwartz came on board as a trustee and made it a prime example of his philanthropy. He gave a grant to The New School’s Center for Economic Policy Analysis in 2004—a center that concentrates on economic growth, unemployment and inequality, with a specific focus on the U.S. economy—renaming it the Schwartz Center.
Last spring, he and his wife initiated the Bernard and Irene Schwartz Merit Scholarship Challenge at Lang. The challenge invited other donations to be used for any scholarship purpose; their matching contributions go to the self-named fund in order to recruit top students.
Schwartz also helped establish programs at other institutions, including Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, The Council on Foreign Relations (a non-partisan center for scholars, students, and policymakers) The Brookings Institution, and Tel Aviv University. He also serves as a trustee of the New York University Hospitals Center, the New York Historical Society, PBS channel 13, and Baruch College.
Even his love of education eventually leads back to his love of New York—not just because it’s the financial capital, as he says, but because of its unique culture. His wife is a trustee at the American Ballet Theater, and he is the vice chairman of the New York Film Society. But he doesn’t think you need to be a millionaire to experience the best things the city has to offer.
“You can do New York city on a very low budget,” Schwartz says. “It’s just being aggressive in determining what they are, and taking advantage of it. That’s part of the education. It’s not just about what happens in the classroom.”
Schwartz has a long history with New York City, not just with giving money to New York’s organizations.
Raised in Bensonhurst, Schwartz went on to receive a B.S. from City College, the same institution that later awarded him with an honorary doctorate degree. During World War II, he was stuck in American army training because he was too young to be deployed into combat.
“I say I’m lucky now,” he says. “But I didn’t think I was lucky then.”
Until 1996, Schwartz was chairman of Loral Corporation, a Fortune 200 designer and manufacturer of state-of-the-art defense systems, for 24 years. Schwartz proved to be a very successful leader: starting in 1972, Loral posted 96 consecutive months of increased earnings, and between 1972 and 1996 the value of the company rose 200%, from $7.5 million to $15 million. In 1996, when the company shifted its focus from defense systems to satellite manufacturing and changed its name to Loral Space and Communications, Schwartz stayed on as chairman and CEO for another 10 years.
Despite his corporate background, what stands out most are his philanthropic efforts.
“His greatest contribution is his enthusiasm for the mission of improving the quality of our undergraduate efforts,” says Bob Kerrey. “His confidence infects others who may doubt our capacity to succeed.”
Sheila Johnson at Market Salamander, her award winning food market.
By Linh Tran
Four years ago, Sheila Johnson walked through the old Parsons building on 13th Street and 5th Avenue on a guided tour. Immediately, Johnson noticed a long line of students in the small lobby, waiting for one of two cramped elevators.
"One little line to get into one skinny little elevator,” Johnson recalled. That, to her, was a “glaring problem.”
Recently, Johnson, who joined the Board of Trustees of The New School in September 2003, donated $7 million to rebuild the outdated Parsons building. The building has been renamed the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center in her honor.
She commissioned Lyn Rice Architects to design the new building. Several plans were proposed and Johnson chose the most innovative design.
"There were some wacky designs that came out first,” she said. Most of the focus was on finding a design that paid attention to physical details. “We wanted to design a space where students can start interacting with each other.”
The building, which is currently under construction and slated to open sometime in 2008, features new updated galleries and “smart” lecture halls, meaning they will have audio-visual capabilities. The new building will also include an indoor urban quad, a new take on traditional outdoor quads that are common on college campuses.
“I think what I’m doing is a catalyst for other buildings on campus,” Johnson said, in reference to the planned reconstruction of 65 5th Ave. “We really need to pay attention to the physical elements of the university.”
The new building won the American Institute of Architects award for design this year. Ms. Johnson also recently won a design award for her food market, Market Salamander. The market is part of Ms. Johnson’s hospitality company, Salamander Hospitality. The company also includes a luxury resort and spa. It is located in Middleburg, Virginia where Johnson currently lives on the 200-acre Salamander Farm.
Ms. Johnson became the first female African American billionaire in the country, hitting that milestone even before Oprah Winfrey, in 2003. She gained her fortune by co-founding Black Entertainment Television (BET) with her former husband in 1980.
In addition to her farm, she owns a home in Arlington, Virginia, a home in Palm Beach, Florida, and an apartment at the St. Regis in New York City. She did not tell Inprint what kind of money she had in the bank.
She is currently on the board of the Whitney Museum, American for the Arts, the VH1 Board, the board of the University of Virginia, and the board of the University of Illinois.
Ms. Johnson has a lifelong interest in education. She taught music for 18 years at the junior high school level. She was also a youth symphony composer and conductor. After selling BET to Viacom for $2.3 billion in 1997, Ms. Johnson had the financial means to further education in other ways.
“[The sale] gave me the financial status and means to switch roles so that I could make a bigger impact,” she said. “What I can do financially helps me play an even bigger role in affecting the lives of young people.”
Ms. Johnson’s interest in The New School reflects her interest in supporting arts education. Her donation to Parsons is going towards providing a more modern and functional space for students and professors.
“I felt like I could provide something that could not only help the students, but the faculty as well," she said.
Facts, Figures, and Fabrications
Women enrolled at Lang: 71% [The New School Fact Book, Fall 2006]
Men: 29% [Fact Book, ‘06]
Chance for girl-girl-boy ménage-a-trois: 23% [math courtesy of Eric Hollerbach]
Number of women at Lang: 757
Chance a Lang woman will find a date among the 646 Parsons men: 0
In-state students: 24% [Collegeboard.com]
Students ripe for corrupting: 76%
Students accepted with a High School GPA below 2.5: 1% [Collegeboard.com]
Students reminiscent of sexy sorority sluts: 1%
Number of intercollegiate sports offered at Lang: 0
Number of intercollegiate sports offered at Columbia University: 33 [Collegeboard.com]
Instances of date rape at Columbia for every one (1) at Lang: 33
Average GPA of students congregating in northeast corner of courtyard: 4.20
International Student Body
Number by which the entire Lang student body out-numbers international Parsons students: 84 [Fact Book ‘06]
Number of Lang international students: 36 [Fact Book Fall, ‘06]
Chance for sexy accents at Lang: 3.7%
Chance Parsons international students would overthrow Lang in a coup: 4%
Race and Ethnicity
Approximate number of times an average student will hear the word “diversity” on a given day at Lang: 12
Number of reported white women enrolled: 465 [Fact Book, Fall ‘06]
Number of reported African American women: 29 [Fact Book, Fall ‘06]
Number of reported white men: 228 [Fact Book, Fall ‘06]
Number of reported African American men: 9 [Fact Book, Fall ‘06]
Rank on The Princeton Review Best 361 Colleges category “Lots of Race/Class interaction": 10
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros
By Najva Soleimani
After 300*came out, I got an e-mail from my mother titled “300 is not just a movie: it is Persia Bashing” with links to a few articles. Although the trailer for 300 hadn’t appealed to me, apparently the rest of the U.S. went to see it and it grossed $70-million at the box office. 300 had the third biggest R-rated opening ever. Oh, and Iranians, my mother included, were pissed.
An adaptation of Frank Miller’s comic book, 300 is loosely inspired by the Battle of Thermopylae. Very loosely inspired. The Iranians, as well as various journalists, identify many historical inconsistencies: the Spartans are portrayed as blue-eyed Aryans while the Persians are African, Xerxes is practically a drag queen, and the Persians are dressed like barbarians. Not to mention numerical inconsistency: it was actually 300 Spartans plus 700 Thespians and 6,000 other Greek volunteers against about 150,000 Persians—not 300 against one million.
Given the politically tense atmosphere in contemporary Iran, it’s easy to see why such an unflattering depiction of their Persian heritage would have the entire country in a frenzy. Constant threat of war and recent negative press about Iran has made the country paranoid. 300 abets this paranoia perfectly.
But 300 is just a Hollywood movie. Hopefully, no one would take it seriously. The same way no one took The Passion of The Christ seriously, right? Aside from all those people who wrote hate letters to the Jewish community, of course. The major concern is that a large portion of America actually believes what they see on the screen. That’s assuming those ignorant enough to do so can even make the connection between Iran and the Persians.
My real worry isn’t a bunch of under-30 men watching homoerotic, buff warriors rip each other up. It’s that people are shocked that Iranians would be offended and boycott a film that is slandering their culture. I, like almost all of the outraged, won’t spend my money seeing 300. But my gay friend Matt loves it.
By Amelia Leeah Rossburndt
Brassiere couture is capturing the hearts and minds (among other things) of women of all ages and endowments. Over spring break, a couple of Inprint staffers partook in the bona fide trend of custom bra fitting, and entertained the wisdom of the most vocal champion of the very up close and personal practice: Susan Nethero, owner of the growing Intimacy Bra Fit Specialist chain.
Nethero hawked her wares on Oprah last year and revealed that 85% of all women are wearing the wrong bra size. Surely publicizing this dirty secret is enough to scare any lady straight, but what exactly does it mean for a bra to be wrong?
I already have a handful of fantastic bras—the kind that strike the magic balance of great construction and snazzy appearance. These bras seem to lift not only their contents, but also the spirit of the wearer. On a good bra day, the sky seems bluer, the birds seem to whistle a happy tune and the men seem more handsome. Other bras aren’t wrong per se, just not particularly extraordinary. I don’t feel as though I’m being mishandled when I wear them, only a little less special.
Bras perform myriad tasks. They can lift and separate or they can push up and together. There are convertible models and bras that enhance or compress. Some boast invisibility while others conspicuously flout the good girl’s notion of modesty. They are sporty or sexy, utilitarian or frivolous but rarely any successful combination thereof. According to Nethero, however, the wily mechanisms must do even more.
Counter-intuitively, only 10% of support should come from the shoulder straps. The often-neglected band should bear the bulk of the burden. A bra should fit firmly on its loosest hook so that you can use tighter ones as back-ups for years to come—economical enough, but the idea of ageing with my bras is a little depressing. A seam should run down the center of the bra to prevent “show through.” Your cups should never, ever runneth over. And the proper position of the bra band is . . .well, somewhere I’m still uncertain of, but Nethero would have you know that yours is probably improperly positioned.
Nethero also warns against falling prey to the bra technology profiteers, but her noble work doesn’t seem that much better than the annual parade of Victoria’s Secret mediocrity. The Intimacy stores may even be more nefarious, because initially patronizing one begs a lifetime of follow-up visits. Intimacy’s real hook catches the ego: invariably, what women discover after their custom fitting is that they are a cup larger and a band size smaller. All the new bra really does is augment the ego: the real bust line stays the same.
The nature of sizing—at least off the rack—is erratic. Finding seven different bras of five different makers in six different sizes and having most of them fit essentially the same way is partly what makes shopping for bras fun. Susan Nethero and her army of second-base stealers can kill joy in someone else's lingerie chest.
By Amber Sutherland
Do you always have to say hi to acquaintances?
Maintaining relationships with your social circle fringe is time-consuming and prohibitive to your autonomy. If you must endure regular run-ins with everyone you’ve ever met in your life, you will likely be tardy to other engagements and preclude real introspection into your relationships.
Few things are worse than taking a leisurely stroll through the Village, perhaps sipping a stimulating beverage and enjoying your anonymity, only to be disturbed by the piercing call of your name from across the street. Suddenly you’re ripped from an internal monologue that was only moments away from a breakthrough—for instance, about which of the unholy trifecta of Brooklyn writers named Jonathan is worse—and seduced into a good old-fashioned round of “What are you up to?”
If a would-be pal approaches you, it is generally recommended that you indulge them for a moment, lest you endure the dreaded “he used to be cool” the next time you come up in conversation. Exchange pleasantries and politely excuse yourself. A warm smile and a jovial sock to the arm will punctuate your camaraderie. Just remember: every time you are excessively social, J. D. Salinger gets a chill down his spine.
Is it OK to renege on a suicide pact?
Your co-conspirator will be understandably miffed that you want to dissolve your contract. Be sympathetic about the obvious inconvenience you are causing. Explain to him or her that your life is on an upswing right now and the idea of ending it all has lost its initial charm.
Rationalize your exploitation of the escape clause very precisely to avoid any appearance of poor follow-through on your part. If you stand to inherit a large sum of money in the foreseeable future, for example, be honest. Do not merely claim to be in a different place now/have found Jesus/want to see how this season of American Idol turns out.
But do not leave your former partner high and dry. Provide recommendations of anyone you know who might be interested in taking your place. As always, send a note a few days later, preferably something with a somber tone. Handsome Devil Press, for one, has a greeting card inspired by Morrissey. This is a great way to say, “To die by your side, the pleasure, the privilege is mine,” without, you know, making the commitment.
Tal Engel taking a break at his military base in Israel. "We have no choice because this is the situation we are living in."
By Julia David
On my first day in Israel over spring break, I discovered what it is like to be both a local and a soldier.
Across the street from the restaurant where I was eating in Tel Aviv, there was a bomb warning. Several Israeli Defense Force (IDF) soldiers, padded with explosion protection, were ushering pedestrians away from the potentially dangerous scene. I stayed inside the café and watched as a bomb-detecting robot whirred its way towards a large black bag resting ominously on the sidewalk.
I have never been one for war and violence, but seeing these soldiers risk their lives first hand made me appreciate Israel’s mandatory military service. In Israel, it is difficult to call yourself an Israeli if you have not served in the army. Despite 2-3 years of mandatory service, serving in the IDF is a great honor for the majority of its soldiers.
“The threat of death lives in our country,” a soldier who chose to remain anonymous told me. “Most people aren’t in a hurry to face this threat, but we must, and that makes us stronger.”
I could go into the politics of the crisis with Palestine. I could also admit that not everything Israel has done has been ethical. But these soldiers are trying hard to achieve peace with the Disengagement Plan. I could also mention the fact that, despite Israel offering land for share with the Palestinians, they prefer "all or war." I could mention all of this, but ever since the "bomb" incident, I became more interested in the personal experiences and thoughts of the IDF soldiers rather than politics or tactics.
Every Israeli, man and woman, must enter the army at age 18. They become fighters, intelligence, pilots, and instructors, and each job is as important as the next. It is a life that is always on the edge, always sensitive to the dangers on each side of the Israeli and Palestinian border. It is a life that must be lived.
“You have to understand,” said Israeli commanding officer Tal Engel. “There is no other way. We have no choice because this is the situation we are living in.”
Each soldier has his or her own story to tell. Lior Kirshner, a head sergeant in the IDF, and Liran Azrad, an IDF sergeant, have both been to the Gaza Strip. Once, Kirshner, along with his unit, weighed down by a 60-pound pack, had to tightly press himself against a wall before forcing his way into the house of a known terrorist. Azrad participated in a unit that built bombs and aimed them at the terrorist’s homes.
“It’s always scary but in time you get used to it,” Azrad said with a shrug of acquiescence.
Engel, who patrols the borders of the Palestinian city of Schem, was once driving with fellow soldiers through a nearby Palestinian city, when a Palestinian radical threw a bottle of gas into the car. They jumped out of the vehicle just before it exploded.
It is extraordinary to see such enduring patriotism and loyalty to the country and to fellow soldiers. “I love my country. I love my people,” said Dana, a short-term participant in the army. “It doesn’t matter how much or how little you contribute in the army, I just feel good doing something.”
Every time I go to Israel, I am reminded of the threat and risks that lie in wait. I will eat at a café that had been destroyed only months before by a suicide bomber. I will go shopping on the infamous Sheinkin Street and see soldiers my age walking through the area with M16s slung around their shoulders.
The sentiment for the majority of IDF soldiers, as well as Palestinian citizens, is the same. “We want to live in peace, but right now, it just seems like that just can’t happen,” Engel said. “You end up with having a lot of question marks, but at the end of the day, you just have to do what you’re told.”
By Liz Garber-Paul
Finally, spring. There are only a few weeks left until Midwestern tourists begin to take over New York for the summer. Before the streets are too packed to navigate, get out of your apartment and get some culture.
Wondering what a graduate program would actually do to your writing? On Thursday, April 5, at 7 p.m. Elton Carter, Rob Ostrom and Sarah Smarsh will be reading at KGB Bar as part of the Columbia University Writing Division Faculty Selects series. Held on the first Thursday of every month, the series showcases exceptional students who have finished their coursework at the Writing Division, but have not yet found a publisher for their first book. Use this as an excuse to get to know one of New York's premiere literary spots, the cozy KGB which holds readings nearly every night.
New media is taking over the New School, if not the whole world. On Saturday, April 7 from 9am until 6 p.m., PodCamp NYC is holding a one-day "unconference" in Tischman Auditorium, presented by The New School Department of Media and Film Studies. The event will focus on networking and sharing information concerning different types of new media--namely, video and audio podcasts, and blogging. If you want to get a head start on networking, go to the Podcamp NYC's Perfect Pitch Party at Slate in Chelsea on Friday April 6 from 6p.m. to 9 p.m. Both events are free, but registration through podcampnyc.com is recommended.
Don't think Factory Girl gave you the whole story? On Sunday, April 8 at 6:30 p.m., the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria will be screening Ciao! Manhattan as the finale to their "The Real Edie Sedgwick" series. Ciao!, directed by John Palmer and David Weisman, is a semi-autobiographical film about socialite and Warhol superstar Sedgwick. It combines footage from Warhol's Factories along with scenes of the fictional Susan Superstar portrayed by Sedgwick. The 1972 feature will be preceded by an 8-minute clip from Lulu 1967, footage of Sedgwick directed by Richard Leacock.
It's a well known fact that the best way to get drunk for free in New York is to attend second-rate art openings. But how cool would it be if you actually wanted to see the art? From 7-10 p.m on Thursday, April 12, be at Williamsburg's Riviera Gallery for the opening of True Believers, an exhibition that is featuring original work from some leading young designers. The artists all come from different backgrounds, but the general inspiration seems to come from the early skateboarding, hardcore and hip-hop cultures. The exhibit features work by Jason Gnewikow, Mark Owens, Garrett Morin, Wes Duvall, Ryan Waller, Wyeth Hansen, Jeremy Dean, Kimou Meyer, Max Vogel, Noah Butkus and Nathan Nedorostsk.
By Josh Kurp
#5. “Money” by Pink Floyd
I actually hate this song but not including it on a list about money would be like not including The Bad News Bears Go to Japan on a list of the worst movies of all-time or “existentialism” on the list of words stupid people use to sound smart.
#4. “Money, Money, Money” by ABBA
-Considering this song rhymes “money” and “funny,” it’s no wonder ABBA is in the top-20 for number of records sold. Ca-CHING!
#3. “Song for the Dumped” by Ben Folds Five
-When this song came out in 1997 , Ben Folds was money…and now he’s sunk so low that he recorded an alternate version of “Rockin’ the Suburbs” for the Over the Hedge soundtrack with William “James T. Kirk” Shatner.
#2. “Carrying the Banner” by Christian Bale and um…other Newsies
-As any self-respecting newspaper (or “papes”) person should know, it’s all about making the money. Or dough, scratch, bits, greenbacks, dead presidents, moolah, simoleons, and other clever names for the green piece of paper or shiny coin.
#1. “Money (That’s What I Want)” by …
-The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Buddy Guy, The Kingsmen, The Doors, Pearl Jam, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Smashing Pumpkins, Josie and the Pussycats (!), The Blues Brothers and The Supremes, among others. It’s definitely the king of money songs and yet, I’ve never met anyone who really likes this song.
Monday, April 2, 2007
A look at the Karaoke Scene in the Tri-State Area
By Julia David
Karaoke translates literally as “empty orchestra” in Japanese. But the New York bars and lounges that specialize in this imported Japanese pastime are far from empty. Here's a breakdown of some hot "empty orchestra" spots:
Muse Karaoke, 154 W. 26th St.
The bright yellow and green corridors are bewitching, and the patrons are just as colorful. Cheerful, drunk bellowings of men and women in shiny plastic wigs singing "Xanadu" can be heard emanating from behind closed doors of the private rooms. Friday and Saturday nights are busiest at Muse, and as hours get wee-er, the body count grows. The front bar is small, though well stocked, and a larger bar is located in the back lounge that can be booked in advance for large private parties. The smaller private rooms are available first come first serve and offer an impressive repertoire of songs, available in thirteen different languages, including English, Japanese, Korean, Hindi, Portuguese, and German.
Karaoke One 7, 29 W. 17th St.
If you enjoy a more communal karaoke experience, here is an after work bar teeming with 21-35 year old yuppies. The arcade game, mosaic wall, and two large flat screens in the main bar give the place a pleasant modernity. Ardent regulars are quite sagacious when it comes to proper song-picking etiquette: 80’s and 90’s classics like “Wonderwall,” “Lost That Lovin’ Feeling," and “Livin’ on a Prayer” are most popular.
Mark, a regular with a strong voice and boundless energy, picks “the kind of songs you sing when you’re cruising down the highway or in the shower.”
Though the only private room visible from the bar is the vast party room, there are in fact nine smaller private rooms one could rent out for $6 per person per hour Monday through Wednesday and from $24 to $64 per room Thursday through Sunday.
Sing Sing Karaoke, 81 Ave A and 9 St. Mark’s Pl.
The atmosphere at every karaoke lounge is the same: infectious and vibrant. But at this spot neon lights and down to earth employees provide a modern yet modest ambiance. It is a good place to crash in the early morning hours, where cheap drinks and a variety of songs are offered.
Bahama Mamas, 215 Washington St. in Hoboken, NJ
For those who enjoy nights out on the other side of the Hudson, here is an ideal place for karaoke every Thursday. This Tiki lounge provides a list of every song imaginable and a brilliant, all night long happy hour offer. If you are a shy singer, you need not worry, for everyone holding a Tiki Mai Tai, Pina Colada, or Key Lime ‘Tini will be singing along with you.
This fun pastime "brings people, who do or don't know each other, together," one zealous singer said. "Even if it's only for a few hours.”
Christelle Imperial de Castro
The boys and girl of Xiu Xiu. Dirty, eh?
Xiu Xiu, Remixed & Covered. Releases on April 10th.
Xiu Xiu’s eighth release features covers by the unexpectedly folksy likes of Devendra Banhart and Marisa Nadler, with great results. Banhart’s “Support Our Troops” is an acoustic sockhop, down-tempoed by his quivering vocals. Nadler takes “Clowne Towne” to a bucolic plain where nymphet sirens coo haunting heralds from the treetops. With a move away from ambient, antagonizing discords, Xiu Xiu has boldly crossed oceans of genres in their choice of collaborators. They infuse already rich blueprints with cellos and tambourines, spoken word, and gentle dance beats, as in Kid 606’s “Fabulous Muscles.” The results can be chilling, beautiful and consistently fresh.
Less impressive are the remixes, which up the ante on Xiu Xiu’s nails-on-a-chalkboard intensity to the point of almost unbearable tension. Still, they might work in a dance hall. The stand-out track, “Hello from Eau Claire,” mixed by Gold Chains, goes way out there with bare-bones, little-girl vocals: "I can put on my own blouse/I can button up my own pants/I can buy my own cigarettes."
For fans, this two-disc powerhouse is a must have. It may also make fans out of those who aren’t.
Rating: "Mixed" with love and "covered" with a tea cozy.
The Pirate Queen. Playing at the Hilton Theatre.
Underneath the forgettable lyrics and bland set designs, there is a worthwhile story in The Pirate Queen. Unfortunately, the writers of Les Miserables & Miss Saigon (Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg) didn’t get it right this time. Set in sixteenth century Europe, this musical is based on the real-life heroics of Grace O’Malley (Stephanie J. Block, The Boy from Oz), the first woman to lead an Irish clan. Her biggest problem: Queen Elizabeth I (Linda Balgord), who will do anything to bring her down. Sounds empowering—two women in charge at a time when women had no power at all—yet the musical manages to bury the heart of the plot deep within elaborate dance sequences and unnecessary story tangents. (Structure is everything, people!) And then there are the sporadic accents, the over-abundance of gyrating pelvises and the pathetic fight scenes. Still, take a trip to the beautiful Hilton Theatre if you love Riverdance or you want to hear Block’s powerhouse voice. Plus, Hadley Fraser as the male lead is delicious. But get student tickets or you’ll really hate yourself at the end of the evening.
Rating: Even Johnny Depp couldn’t have saved this sinking ship.
Allen Fraser, Courtesy of Miramax Films
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Matthew Gooode.
The Lookout. Director Scott Frank. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jeff Daniels.
Who knew that lil’ Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Third Rock from the Sun) would have a successful movie career ? Starring in the suspense thriller The Lookout, Gordon-Levitt's main character transforms from an all-star hockey player to a bank robber with short term memory loss. Also featuring the great Jeff Daniels, The Lookout refrains from becoming a cliché coming-of-age story and instead fervently examines a country boy who makes one wrong decision that ends up costing the lives of countless human beings. Not without flaws (such as an awkwardly added scene including abused elders...if I could explain I would), The Lookout is worth the ten dollar movie ticket.
Rating: Oh how I wish Jeff Daniels was my uncle.