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.
“Even after 30-odd years, I’m still trying to figure out the city, which is what makes it such a fun place. We had the biggest experiment in the country going for a while, trying to wipe out poverty, and then we got poorer. What was that all about?”
Among other things, Saybrook College resident fellow Maria Kaliambou is an academic advisor, and that side of her shows as she tells me how to write my article. “Start with my role as an international scholar, move on to the Saybrook College lifestyle, then maybe all that folklore stuff.” It’s a good structure, so I won’t mess with it.
Gibbs despairs of the school’s ability to attract children of wary parents. “Are you going to send your kid to Metro, which has this gorgeous building, brand-new, four stories tall with a MacLab on every floor, and looks like it was designed by Frank Gehry?” he asked. “Or are you going to send your kid to a collection of miscolored cinder blocks, covered in loading bays which have been bricked over, and [that] they put a parking lot in the middle and call it a school?”
E.J. Conway grins as he discusses Coach Reno’s tougher practices and his focus on strict routine: study, play, sleep, repeat. Though it’s the grin of someone too tired to exercise his frown muscles, under it all, he seems filled with genuine joy.
The Seer has more of a physical than musical presence. Hearing it is like driving down a long stretch of highway: with each listen, the landmarks, flashing by amidst waves of drone, become more familiar and a little less spooky.
When I went home to Wilmington, Delaware for winter break, my friends already knew the New Haven factoid: ‘Highest crime rate in America!’ (This was no longer true: in terms of violent crime per capita, the FBI ranks New Haven fifth, behind Detroit, Camden, Flint—and Wilmington, Delaware.)
I just shrugged, and talked about walking through Silliman Castle on the way to breakfast.
Today, Yale accepts students it couldn’t have with 18-percent recruitment, but the students it loses have their own virtues—charisma, adaptability, devotion unmatched by any but our most fervent scholars and artists. Why accept a dancer over a discus-thrower? A soprano over a soccer goalie?
Kevin Lunn quoted Plato to me, chapter and verse, about the need to harmonize one’s soul with “the finest blend of gymnastics and musical training”; does not a good Republic depend on physical culture as much as it does the liberal arts? What message do we send to the student body about the importance of fitness and dedication by casting off a quarter of our athletes, leaving the rest to shiver in the shade of administrational ambivalence?
When they stick to their shifty sonic palette, the Hartnolls can’t be topped. “Straight Sun” takes Fuck Buttons’ trademark shuffling drums, adds Europop synth, then abandons both for mosquito-buzz jungle funk that M.I.A. might sample on future mixtapes. “Stringy Acid,” the album’s highlight, is one of those compositions best heard with one’s eyes closed—there’s an ecstatic high to be found in picking apart four decades’ worth of rave culture as Orbital twists every knob in their studio, giving listeners new and old a tour of their own history.
Giving low grades is hard, and in some fields—namely, anything quantitative—grading through comments alone can be impossible. Even if Yale does want to curb inflation, can the school muster the collective willpower to let the air out of the A/B balloon?
Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma make music that sounds like nothing else on this planet, repeating not a single drum pattern through 46 minutes of percussion-heavy music. ‘Metrotopy’ evokes a tower of blocks hitting the ground, while ‘Seaqz’ alternately crackles and booms and never stops accelerating. I picture St. Werner whipping his synthesizers and Toma bludgeoning the drum machine: “Faster! Faster!”
I’m still pondering Levkowitz’s words as I question Mensah and Fukuda on the accusations of harassment by Gift agents. My first attempt draws a blank, so I explain in more and more detail what I’ve heard. ‘Why do you think there have been these kind of statements?’ I finish, with my fourth question mark.
We stare at each other in silence for a few seconds.
As we started a game, the smooth flow of their play betrayed their years of experience. Still, I thought myself a worthy opponent: A decade of trading-card mastery and a few half-remembered magazine articles on the World Series of Poker would surely keep me afloat.
Then, on the second hand of the night, I realized I wasn’t sure whether two pair beat three of a kind. Aidan carefully explained most of the rules as I scribbled my first notes, realizing my 25-dollar buy-in was toast. At least I still had my dead-eye poker stare to save me—until my first flush brought a flush to my face and most of the table dropped out as the turn brought a third heart into play to match the pair face-down in front of me. I slid three white one-dollar chips into the center of the table.
‘Raise?’ I thought pale thoughts.
All this drifting can be pleasant as musical wallpaper, and Porcelain Raft throws enough sounds into the mix to reward closer attention, but the album is too busy to be a lullaby; it increasingly repeats itself as Remiddi runs out of new drones, reverb, and handclaps to play with.
Take Shelter’s first half is built to shock, the second to unsettle; both halves succeed by repeatedly upending our expectations. As the movie unfolds, it becomes clear that even the film’s peaceful valleys won’t allow for respite: Director Jeff Nichols, together with a fantastic special effects crew, has turned the sky into a loaded gun.
Björk never sidesteps bombast, but in Biophilia, she may have topped herself for the last time. When your album begins with the creation of the universe and ends with Earth’s implosion and the near extinction of humanity, what more can you do?