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March 2004 Archives

March 1, 2004

No bells and whistles, just Guys and Dolls

With a minimalist set, moody lighting, and a bare-bones cast, Court Theatre’s production of Guys and Dolls hardly evokes the 1950s-era Broadway premiere of the now-classic tale of gamblers and showgirls. According to the program notes, director Charles Newell chose to strip away the “bells and whistles often associated with Broadway musicals” to find the “emotional truth in the central relationships.” The result of this “eccentric revival,” writes Chicago Tribune critic Michael Phillips, is “a very interesting mixed bag.”

During a Thursday night showing the audience bopped along to Frank Loesser’s familiar tunes and the onstage, five-man jazz combo. One audience member remarked, however, that the singing was a bit weak, though he admitted that he’d only experienced larger productions.

Guys and Dolls, based on Damon Runyon’s short stories about early 1900s New York gangsters and Broadway types, will run at Court Theatre through March 28.


Photo: Photos courtesy Court Theater.

March 3, 2004

Civil-rights memory jog


Fifty years after overturning “separate-but-equal” laws and spawning the modern civil-rights movement, Brown v. Board of Education has lost its impact, Vernon Jordan, Washington lawyer and former Clinton adviser, told a Law School audience Monday afternoon. The Black Law Students Association’s Black History Month keynote speaker, Jordan—whose wife, Ann Dibble Jordan, AM’61, is a University trustee and former assistant professor in the SSA—recalled his career in Brown’s early days, defending blacks in the segregated South.

In 1960 he defended a black Georgia man accused of murder. During the trial some of the town’s black residents, “dressed in Sunday best,” laid out a festive lunch for Jordan’s legal team. In a pre-meal prayer the host said words Jordan has always remembered: “Lord, down here in Tattnall County we can’t join the NAACP, but thanks to your plentiful bounty, we can feed the NAACP lawyers.” Such “average, working-class, humble black people,” living in overwhelming fear, Jordan said, were the real force that “brought down the system that oppressed them.”

Continuing to recognize Brown, he contended, is crucial because schools are still segregated—at levels similar to 1961. The integration debate has been muddied with nuances, as politicians no longer argue outright for segregation, but “America’s color line still exists.”


March 5, 2004

The student body doth protest

Today’s howling wind (gusting up to 54 mph) stirred up more than winter grit and long-dead leaves; student activists were moved to make some noise, accusing the University of Chicago Police Department of using excessive force in a January campus incident. At a noontime rally, some 100 students and community members demonstrated to support Clemmie Carthans, a black SSA student who allegedly was assaulted by two UCPD officers. ABC and NBC cameramen taped the rally, and Steve Klass, vice president and dean of students, was on hand. Once the protesters marched off toward the UCPD building, Klass explained to reporters that the case was being reviewed by an independent committee, and in the meantime the students had been granted the space to protest.

The rally culminated a flurry of student activism—several smaller demonstrations and flyer distributions took place recently decrying the rising cost of graduate-student health care, weapons of mass destruction, U of C Hospitals firings, budget cuts for Chicago-area educational institutions, laws against gay marriage, and the U.S. Patriot Act.


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Photos (from left to right): An orange outside Cobb decries the Patriot Act. Students protest Hospitals firings on February 25. Today's police-brutality protest.

March 8, 2004

Saturday with sensei

Late-arrivals kneel at the edge of a Henry Crown Field House wrestling mat until Wendy Whited Sensei invites them to join the dozen other students—most in white robes, some in draping dark pants—practicing aikido falls. The newcomers pair up and imitate their peers, one sending a soft punch, the other gracefully batting down the aggressor’s hand, throwing him off balance and to the floor. They all repeat the drill until Whited, a 6th-degree black belt who’s studied aikido for 30 years, calls them back into line to demonstrate the next practice move—but not before exhibiting the proper Japanese woman’s bow (while kneeling, place the left hand on the ground, then the right, forming a triangle with the fingers.)

At the Saturday session, one of a series of special classes to celebrate the Aikido Club’s 30th anniversary, undergraduates and graduate students learn the basics from Whited, who founded the Inaka Dojo in Beecher, Illinois, in 1992; spent two years studying in Japan; and taught U of C Aikido Club classes until the 1980s, when sociology professor Donald Levine, AB’50, AM’54, PhD’57, took over.


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Photos (from left to right): Aikido Club acting president Qin Zhen, a graduate student in Chemistry, stretches before practicing her moves. Bruce Schmoetzer, who trains with Whited and has come to help teach the U of C session, takes a kick from the sensei. Wendy Whited Sensei demonstrates the proper Japanese woman's bow.

Photos by Dan Dry.

March 10, 2004

Rock of ages

U of C founder John D. Rockefeller gave the University $1.5 million to build a chapel, which he envisioned in a December 13, 1910, letter as “the central and dominant feature of the University group,” evoking “the spirit of religion.” By all accounts, Rockefeller Memorial Chapel—named for its benefactor in 1937—still fits the bill in both form and function.

Rockefeller’s letter of bequest is one of about 110 archival documents and photographs in a 75-year anniversary exhibit, Life of the Spirit, Life of the Mind, at Regenstein Library’s Special Collections Research Center through June 18.

Sketches and photographs of the chapel’s windows and 72-bell carillon, both among the world’s largest, testify to its grandeur of design. Meanwhile, flyers and programs from concerts, lectures, and protests—most recently against the Iraq war—reveal Rockefeller’s diverse role in campus life.


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March 12, 2004

Chilly scenes of winter


When the Magazine decided to jump on the blog wagon, the goal was “to have more room to cover more events more quickly,” as editor Mary Ruth Yoe put it in February’s issue. But along with providing fresh campus news and views, we thought opening a more literal “window” on the quads would keep readers connected with University life’s more elemental aspects. With an every-other-daily photograph, we reasoned, far-flung alumni could get a peek at today’s campus denizens, experience the gothic ambiance, or, if they’re blessed with warmer climes, view a bitter day with a shiver of schadenfreude. And the best part was, after we’d collected a critical mass, we could make our own “flipbook.” Click Winter 2004 slideshow.

In an attempt to imitate time-lapse construction features, we snapped “Northern Exposure” in the same spot at (more or less) the same time. While some passersby, who by the dictates of their class schedule witnessed almost every shoot, stopped to tease our photographer with stalking accusations and credential demands, most whisked past nonchalantly, unaware of their momentary “stardom.” In either case, we now have a preponderance of photos, and though the wind chill has dipped back into the single digits, from our perspective Chicago is slowly taking on the appearance of spring.


Photo: The Magazine staff makes a Northern Exposure appearance.

March 15, 2004

Home is where the art is

In “Hardly More Than Ever: Photographs, 1997-2004”—running at the Renaissance Society through Monday, April 19—Laura Letinsky sees art in the leftovers of domestic creations: the aftermath of meals, parties, and homely festivities.

Letinsky, associate professor in the Committee on Visual Arts and the College who was featured in the October 2002 Magazine, explained to the University Chronicle that her work looks at how daily life is composed, manipulating “photographic space to comment on the made-up-ness of home.” That sense of construction—and impending destruction—can be seen as tabletops edge into blackness and images flatten, forcing the viewer to confront the scenes’ precariousness.

Still the sense of celebration remains, including an April 7 student reception at the Renaissance exhibition. Refreshments (cupcakes donated by Chicago bakery Sweet Mandy B’s!) will be served—and Letinsky will photograph the aftermath.


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Photos (from left to right): Photo by Mairead Ernst. Photo by Mairead Ernst. "Untitled #85," 2003 Courtesy Laura Letinsky

March 17, 2004

Beyond the ides of March

Maybe somewhere March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, but in Chicago the phrase is meaningless. St. Patrick’s Day snow? Please. Bring on the April ice storms.

We Chicagoans watch the flakes fall, admiring their downward dance, vaunting our ability to handle such long winters (“Of course I haven’t put away my hat and scarf!”), but meanwhile pining after relatives on spring break in Mexico or friends living in northern California, where it’s hit 85 degrees.

Lucky for the Magazine, photographer Dan Dry has an instinctively visual response. This morning’s snow drew him to the quads, where he turned the city’s notorious weather into art. Add one more notch to the pro-snow column.


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Photography by Dan Dry.

March 19, 2004

The envelopes, please


At 11 a.m. on Thursday only one sound was heard in a packed-to-the-walls U of C Hospitals auditorium: the rustle of 101 white envelopes being torn open. Seconds before, the 101 members of the Pritzker School of Medicine Class of 2004, many accompanied by friends and family, cheered loudly as Nathan Teismann received the last Match Day envelope—containing his hospital residency placement.

Along with learning where he’d be doing his emergency-medicine training (California’s Alameda Medical Center), Teismann received the traditional last-name-called prize: a kitty jumpstarted with $100 in school funds, to which classmates added their own contributions.

Teismann wasn’t the only fourth-year who got good news. Everyone got a match, with the largest number—24—staying put for all or part of their training at the U of C. As a whole, the class’s top specialties were internal medicine (17) and pediatrics (15).

Last month fourth-year students across the nation submitted a list of their residency preferences to the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP). The hospitals also ranked the applicants, and the NRMP matched students with the highest-ranking hospital accepting them. For med students, Match Day is a rite of spring that outranks even graduation. Assured of a full turnout the Pritzker staff used the occasion to hand out June convocation to-do lists.


March 22, 2004

Spring break in full swing

Last fall visitors to the quads’ northwestern nook may have noticed an unusual new fixture outside Hitchcock Hall. The freestanding swing, crowned with the house motto, deformis sed utiles (“deformed but useful”), was built with funds from Hitchcock’s endowment to commemorate the dorm’s centennial, celebrated in 2001. Designed by Charles Friedlander and Fred Sickler to incorporate details from the building’s architecture, the bench is flanked by two armadillos, Hitchcock’s beloved mascot.

Recently the Magazine staff noticed that the armadillo bench has disappeared (our sleuth reporting, unfortunately undertaken during spring break, when even resident heads ditch campus, didn’t uncover why). A humbler quads bench currently occupies the seat of honor, but a simpler swing has sprung up in Hitchcock’s front yard just in time for spring.


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Photos (from left to right): The armadillo bench, installed last fall. Photo by Dan Dry. The armadillo is gone, replaced by a regular quads bench. Photo by Amber Mason. A new tire swing hangs outside Hitchcock Hall. Photo by Amber Mason.

March 24, 2004

Hey, Mr. Postman, is there a letter for me?

Today’s the day: after three months of reading essays, the Admissions Office is taking about 6,000 letters—2,500 yeas—to the Post Office. The skinny envelopes already have been metered; the admit packets were too fat to fit through the machine, so staffers are sealing them by hand.

Chicago doesn’t send admissions notifications by e-mail, like many other schools, and applicants won’t learn their status on a Web site. College admissions dean Ted O’Neill, AM’70, believes “it’s really important to have a hand-signed signature—no stamp, no scan,” says associate admissions director Zach White, AB’01. (The University does send e-mails to international applicants put on the waiting list or denied admission, says director of international admissions Ali Segal, because of the longer time it takes snail mail to arrive overseas.)

Adhering to the personal touch also means that Chicago can avoid mass e-mail snafus—such as a mix-up at the University of California–Davis, which accidentally told 6,000 admitted students that they had received a prestigious scholarship. “The biggest threat we have,” says Chicago assistant admissions director Jenny Connell, AB’01, “is putting the wrong letter into the wrong envelope”—an error she and the rest of the staff have narrowly escaped once or twice today.


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Photos (from left to right): College admissions dean Ted O'Neill signs a last-minute admissions letter. Admissions project assistant Rolanda Travis reaches for application files, making sure the admit letters go into the correct folders. Assistant admissions director Lauren Droz, AB'02, international admissions director Ali Segal, and associate admissions director Zach White, AB'01, seal admit packets. About 6,000 envelopes are heading to the Post Office.

March 26, 2004

Mapmaker, mapmaker, make me a map


Tucked in a corner of the Smart Museum, a spare collection of scrolls, prints, and sepia-toned photographs comprise Mapping the Sacred: Nineteenth-Century Japanese Shinto Prints. Gathered principally by Edmund Burke, a Chicago comparative-religion professor, during his 1890s travels, the images portray both a change in the way artists rendered three-dimensional spaces flat (introducing Western-style perspective, photography, and printing advances) and the influences of increased tourism.

Displayed through Sunday in the Joel and Carole Bernstein Gallery, the exhibit was curated by Kris Ercums, an art history Ph.D. candidate.


Photo: "The Daidai Kagura Shinto Dance at Ise Shrine," 1890, lithograph mounted as hanging scroll.

March 29, 2004

Now that’s a bargain


On the prowl for U of C memorabilia? A quick troll through E-bay’s collection last Friday turned up 36 items matching “University of Chicago,” including several vintage postcards, a 1929 football schedule, and a brass pennant-shaped pin circa 1890–1915.

At $24.99, the most expensive item was an 11”x14” photograph of a Chicago gargoyle, while a 1916 baseball team photo ($1) and a used U of C Spanish–English Dictionary ($0.99) ran the lowest. A reproduction of a 1904 panoramic campus photo, measuring 16.5” x 6.5”, began at $9.95.


Photo: Caption (top). Caption (bottom).

March 31, 2004

Form follows function


The art of Renaissance Italy was not made to hang in galleries, as it does though August 22 in the Smart Museum’s The Uses of Art in Renaissance Italy. Rather, according to the exhibit’s notes, it was made to be experienced in everyday life. Taking care to place each object in the context of its practical intent, curator Elizabeth Rodini emphasizes the early modern culture of materialism. Items not to miss are two statuettes, one a satyr candleholder, the other a playful sculpture of Venus with her son Cupid.


Photo: Workshop of Orazio Fontana, “Birth Bowl,” c. 1575, polychrome tin-glazed earthenware (top). “Footed Bowl,” c. 1500, Enameled and gilded blown green glass (bottom).

About March 2004

This page contains all entries posted to UChiBLOGo in March 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

February 2004 is the previous archive.

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