The Vicarious Globetrotter: Original Trilogy

I read a lot, which is not the same as being worldly. Rather than read the books of global citizens, I decided I’d talk to them directly, which is one less degree of separation. Thus, the Vicarious Globetrotter was born.

These are mid-length pieces, each of which covers a dinner conversation with a Yale international student. So far, I’ve taken secondhand journeys to Australia, Poland, Sweden, Dubai, Ghana, and India (twice). Three of these have been written up; Sweden will soon follow. Enjoy!

 

Monsoons, crazy mayors, and the Indian intelligentsia: A conversation with Shalmoli Halder of Calcutta

Australian accents, Tall Poppy Syndrome, and the best places to bury bodies: A conversation with Madeleine Barrow of Melbourne

Competitive theater, the Catholic Church, and BDSM jokes: A conversation with Olga Karnas of Bochnia, Poland

New Order: Yale’s Fashion Phenomenon

The link to this has been broken on the Herald’s website for a while, so I’ve re-posted it. I took a photo of the hair: you’ll see it soon enough. (Note that all this is nearly a year out of date at this point; the site has only gotten cooler since.)

*****

Bass Café is a terrible place to meet up. Because it’s such a great place to meet up, the tables are packed, and I’m wandering fruitlessly in search of Dorian Grinspan SY ’14. Yale Facebook tells me he’s a worried, bushy-haired brunette who looks nothing like the future king of college fashion. No one seems to fit—but then I turn and see someone who could indeed be that king.

His smile brings extra sunlight into the underground coffee shop, though he hasn’t picked up a tan from the glow. His sweater looks hand-woven. And his hair is spectacular—a waterfall in defiance of gravity, it pours away from his forehead and washes over his temples.

Continue reading

The Floodgates Open: Variety Show Edition

Most of the rest of my widely-available online work. Some pieces available only on paper, or whose links have broken, will be published later, in full.

Topics include Michael Grunwald’s The New New Dealmy weightlifting routine, potential trespassing, and how I wound up mentoring a stranger in China.

Continue reading

The Floodgates Open: Out of Order Edition

My work thus far for Out of Order, the hip magazine for college students and twentysomethings founded by Yale’s own Dorian Grinspan (but featuring the work of writers from all over the place).

Robert Adams: The Place We Live

My review of a show featuring photographer Robert Adams at the Yale University Art Gallery (now closed, but appearing in many other cities for the next year or so).

“Adams shoots stunning landscapes, often with miles of visibility, but despite the title of the exhibition, you don’t feel as if you could live there. His houses are mostly abstractions, claustrophobic, while his forests are dense and wild or slashed apart and scattered over barren mountainsides. In one of the many segments of the exhibition, “Summer Nights,” he closes in on suburban life, capturing happy parents and children, as well as cars and stores that provide a sense of plenty rather than imposing themselves on the landscape. But even Adams’ vision of the standard American Dream can feel disconcerting. A tilt-o-whirl spins without a rider in sight, looking very alone in the wide, gray night; tree shadows envelop a house and block out the windows; another home is shot in a cloud of what could be fog or smog. ‘We call that one ‘Murder House’,’ Chuang notes.”

Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

“Strange to say, I liked this verbal movie most when Chbosky’s voice is stilled. There are a few marvelous depictions of Charlie on drugs, embracing a soft and wobbly world, and when tragedy sharpens his perspective, scowls and bruises speak louder than words. When Charlie falls in love, cinematography and Emma Watson’s eyes do more work than any voiceover possibly could. Unfortunately, the last third of the movie leaves too much unsaid—which seems to be the fault of the source material.”

Review: Calvin Harris, 18 Months

“Harris has a signature sound when you hear his work plastered together.Trouble is, that sound is nothing to write home about—and the further you get from the dance floor, the more certain aspects of his method confound you. Listening to 18 Months alongside his first two albums, I Created Disco (2007) and Ready For the Weekend (2012), you might think they’re in reverse chronological order. His present melodies call to mind Philip Glass getting drunk and discovering Ableton Live, banging out repetitive chord structures while forgetting to add new ideas after the first minute.”

Spin NYC: A Visit to Another World

I lounge awhile in the Big Apple’s fanciest ping-pong club.

“I can’t compete with the stars of my college basement, but my slice is on today, giving me an edge over my girlfriend, who sends balls sailing in every direction. At first, we give in to the urge to run for them, but soon it becomes clear that our bucket will never empty. An employee wanders the floor, using an ingenious basket-on-a-stick device to grab what rolls away, dumping his collection into customers’ buckets from time to time (even in the mid-afternoon, there are a few other players; mostly tourists, I’d guess). I ask Gordon whether anyone’s ever slipped. ‘Not in three years. The balls crush under the pressure before you lose your balance.'”

The Floodgates Open: Globalist Edition

My work, so far, for the Yale Globalist, in reverse chronological order.

Includes Iceland, the European Union, and diseased honeybees, in rising order of fragility. Those last two might be tied, actually.

Unity vs. Ennui: The Life and Times of a Eurocrat

“In the most interesting line of his presentation, Steimer let out some of his inevitable frustration, in this case with the majority of the French populace that fears losing national sovereignty if France integrates further into the EU. ‘Where is French sovereignty in the face of financial markets? Where is French sovereignty when we try to negotiate with China?'”

Review: Tokyo Story

“Tokyo Story does not have a happy ending, but that’s less because there isn’t happiness than because there isn’t an ending.”

Silent Swarm

“Six years ago, the bees stopped waking up.”

Hard To Swallow: Child Obesity and Parental Rights in the United Kingdom

“It’s a libertarian’s nightmare: government-appointed social workers forcing your family into public housing, making your children exercise, even standing in your new kitchen as you prepare food. And if your children fail to slim down, you lose them.”

No Future? Fantastic!

“In a social-science coup de grâce, Keith Chen announced to the audience that next-door neighbors who speak different languages, and whose demographics and family lives are otherwise near-identical, have wildly differing savings and obesity rates—again, predicted by the tenses permitted in their native tongue.”

Who Else Were You Going to Vote For?

“On May 29, 2010, the voters of Reykjavík, Iceland rejected politics as usual, dumping the Independent and Social Democratic parties in favor of a new candidate’s covenant: increased transparency, family values, free towels in public pools, and a new polar bear for the Reykjavík Zoo.”

Europe Is Toast: Yale Debt Panel Finds Few Solutions

“Though Carmen Reinhart, Ernesto Zedillo, Stephen Roach and Benn Steil all approached the European Union’s debt crisis and the latest Greek tragedy from different angles, they agreed on one thing: it’s a depressing time to be an international finance expert.”

The Floodgates Open: Yale Herald Edition

My collected work for the Yale Herald up to this point, in reverse chronological order, including the cover story “Always Outnumbered, Never Outplayed”.

In this collection, I cover grade inflation, sports recruiting, poker with post-docs, Bjork, online journalism (meta!), Yale president Richard Levin, and other assorted subjects. Keep an eye out for my terrible prediction regarding the course of my school’s 2012 football season.

Continue reading

The Floodgates Open: WEEKEND Edition, Part II

(For Part I, click here).

This post contains my longer work for WEEKEND, including a recent cover story, in reverse chronological order. Enjoy!

Carpe Noctem: Science, Parties, and the Science of Parties

You can do it naked. You can do it drunk or sober. You can do it with strangers, or your closest friends. On your birthday, or someone else’s. But sooner or later, almost everyone does it. It’s in our nature. When it’s good, it’s really good, and when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.

Chilling at The Game

“Most football games have scoring on both sides, actually.”

“You don’t say.”

Continue reading