A Chicagoan in Paris

Magazine intern Phoebe Maltz, ‘05, shares some moments from studying abroad.

I just returned from the College’s Autumn Paris Civilization Program. My classes—European history with an emphasis on France, supplemented by a French grammar and writing class—at the University’s Paris Center, opened September 2003, were taught in French by Chicago professors.

My dorm room at the Fondation des Etats-Unis came complete with a sink, a broken chair, and stern warnings that using a hairdryer would blow a fuse. The dorm is part of an international student community, the Cité Universitaire, located at the city's southern tip, two Metro rides away from the Paris Center. More than 20 Chicago students from two different study-abroad programs lived there this fall.

Parisian markets sell delicacies from shiny vegetables and delicious but stinky Camembert to dead rabbits, still furry, hanging upside down by their feet. Chicago students, accustomed to such fine dining establishments as Pierce, Hutch, and Medici, frequented the markets, such as this one on the boulevard Raspail. Early on I broke my general rule of not eating unwashed fruit, polishing off a huge quantity of strawberries too tasty to save for home.

I’d park myself in Paris cafés, often elegant and rarely cheap, to stay caffeinated while grappling with my more difficult civilization assignments or on days when reading in French seemed especially daunting. Au Vieux Colombier, right outside the St. Sulpice Metro stop, had industrial-strength espresso, chic patrons, and a prime location in one of many designer shoe districts. When espresso lost its kick, I turned to pastries, eventually setting a three-per-day limit, at least one of which always included a flan—custard in a pastry shell.

Phoebe Maltz

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Ramming Harold


When Chris Love, the Alumni Association’s executive director, tells Chicago alumni where the new Alumni House is located, she often explains that it’s the old McCormick Theological Seminary building at 56th and Woodlawn—the one that used to have Harold the ram out front. “Oh, where is Harold?” they ask. Apparently many alumni remember John Kearney’s ram sculpture made from chrome car bumpers.

Harold has moved to University Ave. just north of 55th St, perched atop the steps to the seminary’s own new home. Though his venue has changed, his appeal to pranksters has not. “I don’t know if they’re trying to steal him, to dress him, to tip him like a cow, or what,” says Natasha Gaines, administrative assistant to McCormick’s vice president of finance and operations. “But people seem to play pranks on him about every two weeks”—currently one of his horns is missing, and the McCormick work crew, Gaines notes, “just bolted him down yesterday once again.”

Even Harold’s arrival in Hyde Park was a prank. As the story goes, when McCormick moved from Lincoln Park to the South Side in 1975, many outdoor sculptures adorning the seminary’s original block-long quarters were left behind. Some students, missing Harold (nicknamed after the seminary’s student newsletter, the Herald, and so spelled by some admirers), liberated him late at night, hoisting him into a rented U-Haul and planting him at the 5555 S. Woodlawn address. Administrators demanded that the guilty parties step forward, but no one ever did.

The sculpture quickly became steeped in shenanigans, decorated or stolen by U of C fraternity members during pledge week and ornamented by McCormick students on festive occasions. Today Harold is McCormick’s official logo, embroidered on hats and shirts. And he’s still greeting Hyde Parkers, one horn short of a set.


Artistic Advocacy

The art contrasts with its austere surroundings. Two gray dolphins arc toward a yellow star. A green cactus stands beneath a Magritte-esque sky. A retro convertible floats across a turquoise background.

Six panels from the global AIDS Memorial Quilt will hang in Rockefeller Chapel until March 15, each scene commemorating a person who died from the disease. Chicago is one of several stops for the traveling memorial, which continues to grow and educate visitors about AIDS, which has killed an estimated 22 million in the past 23 years. In October the quilt boasted 45,000 3x6-foot panels—some 51 miles of fabric, enough to blanket 47 football fields. Nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, it’s the world’s largest community-art project.

The patchwork has raised more than $3,250,000 for direct services for AIDS patients since its 1987 founding in San Francisco. Contributors have used materials such as condoms, photographs, and wedding rings to represent friends and relatives. The Rockefeller staff knew three of the people honored in the displayed panels. For more information, including instructions on adding to the quilt, see www.aidsquilt.org.


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A lesson in carrying on

Although scheduled keynote speaker Michael Eric Dyson, the Avalon professor in the humanities at the University of Pennsylvania, canceled his address after catching the flu, the University’s noontime Martin Luther King Jr. Day tribute continued today at a crowded Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.

Bao Phi, a free-form Vietnamese poet raised in South Minneapolis, said King, who had opposed the Vietnam War, had greatly influenced him, a war refugee from a military family. He performed For Us, his poem highlighting the paradoxes of the Asian American experience. “This is for you, Asian America, only loved when you can be used, only told you are beautiful after they’ve beaten out your beauty with their ugliness.”

The Safer Foundation choir, made up of formerly incarcerated young men, sang “A Sinner’s Prayer”—recovering nicely after the background-music CD skipped—and “No Weapon”—with lyrics “No weapons formed against man shall prosper; it won’t work.”

Kids from the Little Village Dance Company and the University of Hip Hop wowed the crowd with break-dance moves on the Napolean gray marble Rockefeller floor.

The University’s undergraduate Soul Umoja choir, who performed a solemn rendition of “Go Down, Moses” during the opening processional, sang “What if God Is Unhappy with Our Praise” during the ceremony.

Political-science professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell, scheduled to introduce Dyson, gave an address in his stead. Click to enlargeWith upcoming Valentine’s Day in mind, she spoke on the theme of love, noting that King’s love was not sentimental or weak but universal and strong. “A true patriot,” she said, King “loved his country enough to be unsatisfied with it”—protesting war and injustice. If King were alive today, she predicted, he “would have spoken out against the war in Iraq.”


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Unbobbled mind packs ’em in


Monday afternoon throngs of science enthusiasts and U of C celebrity-seekers packed two BSLC lecture halls, spilling into the aisles and lobby. They were there to see James Watson, PhB’46, SB’47, famous for his 1953 discovery, with Francis Crick, of DNA’s double-helix structure. Only half of the audience actually did see him; the rest watched a live video projection from the next room. Watson’s leisurely lecture touched on his Chicago education and his general life experience, rather than his Nobel-winning discovery. In fact, he quipped, the original paper on which The Double Helix was based was very short, and “the reason it was short was that there wasn’t very much to say.”

During his lecture Watson projected photographs and early writings featured in Crerar Library’s exhibition “Honest Jim: James D. Watson, the Writer,” which runs through May 28. He recalled his childhood in Hyde Park, his early interest in ornithology, and his introduction to scientific skepticism in Erwin Schrodinger’s What Is Life? No one at the University, he joked, believed he would ever make anything of himself, whereas at graduate school at Indiana University everyone thought he was smart. Chicago, Watson said, “has made a pretty serious person out of me.”

He closed with advice to students: “In your 20s you should be totally devoted to yourself and no one else. Don’t worry about the poor, don’t worry about the environment, don’t worry who the president is.” A swelled head, he suggested, might not be such a bad thing for young people. “If a young person isn’t arrogant, something’s wrong.” In the lobby after his lecture, alongside his newest book, DNA: The Secret of Life (Knopf, 2003, $39.95), patrons could buy bobble-head James Watson dolls with large, smiling heads ($20.95).

Joseph Liss, ’04

Photo: Photo by Elliott Brennan (top).

Let them drink Cakebread

“Full bodied and luscious in the mouth,” the 2000 Chardonnay Reserve was favored for its “creaminess” and “toasty vanilla” scent. While the crowd agreed that the white wine was as rich as Cakebread Cellars’s lavish catalog description, the tasters greeted each of the five wines offered at Tuesday’s GSB Wine Club meeting with thoughtful murmurs and appreciatively pursed lips.

The Wine Club, which meets about five times a quarter and boasts 350 members (more than any other GSB student group), gathered at the tony Gleacher Center to hear Jack Cakebread, of Napa Valley’s Cakebread Cellars, discuss his experiences in the business and, of course, his wine (most of which retails for $35 and up). Though he encouraged the future MBAs to explore winemaking as a career option, Cakebread reminded oenophiles perhaps too eager to invest that “the best way to make a small fortune in the wine business is to start with a large one.”


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No cold feet

Marking the last day of Kuviasungnerk, the University’s winter festival, about 100 students in various states of undress braved Friday afternoon’s 23-degree temperatures and falling snow to participate in the annual polar-bear run from Harper Library to Hull Gate. Longtime spectators noted that this year’s runners seemed extra daring, exposing more skin to Chicago’s frigid air than in sprints past.


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Photography by Dan Dry.

Bear in mind the benefits


In the Law School’s packed lecture-room II Tuesday evening, Law Professor Douglas Lichtman pondered drug patents, Dunkin Donuts, a Gone with the Wind parody, and pet bears. He was presenting the 18th annual Coase Lecture, a public series established in honor of Nobel Prize winner and Clifton R. Musser professor emeritus of economics Ronald Coase, using such examples to illustrate that courts, when dictating litigants’ behavior before or during trial, should consider not only potential unjust and irreparable costs but also possible undeserved, irrevocable benefits. In the case of the bear, for example, Lichtman argued that if a court examined nonmonetary harms, such as a neighbor forced to live in fear of mauling, it should also take into account goods, such as the owner’s quality time with his or her ursine companion. As far as Lichtman is concerned, however, “the bear goes.”


Photo: Douglas Lichtman gives the Law School’s annual Coase Lecture (top). Afterward Lichtman chats with Ronald Coase, the lecture series’ namesake (bottom).

Baby, it's cold outside

For many Chicago folk winter means discovering how to get from Cobb Hall to Social Sciences without ever going outdoors—a complicated route that requires passing through five or so buildings. Some, however, choose to embrace the cold. Wednesday evening a few hardy skaters braved 10 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures (windchill –5) to glide around the Midway Plaisance ice rink. Located between Harper Memorial Library and the Laird Bell Law Quadrangle, the rink is open weekends and Wednesday and Thursday afternoons.

Just to the north, nestled between Woodlawn and Ellis Avenues, the new Winter Garden, a Midway Master Plan project, shows off Chicago’s latest snowfall, inviting hustling pedestrians to take a more circuitous route through the chill.

Also taking advantage of the perpetually freezing weather—highs in the teens and 20s are predicted through next week—Chicago-area ice carvers created sculptures for the University’s annual Kuviasungnerk winter festival. The artworks ring Hutch fountain, bundled in jaunty red scarves.

Phoebe Maltz, ‘05

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Photos (from left to right): Photo by Phoebe Maltz, ‘04. Photo by Amber Mason, AB’03. Photo by Amber Mason, AB’03. Photo by Amber Mason, AB’03.

Fractured fairy tales


“We’ll begin far, far away and long, long ago,” intoned Barbara Schubert, conductor of Saturday’s University Symphony Orchestra performance, Fairy Tales, which featured Scheherazade, opus 35 by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and Jack and the Beanstalk, Jon Deak’s Concerto for Contrabass and Orchestra. Starting with Scheherazade, Rimsky-Korsakov’s 1888 adaptation of Arabian Nights, the musicians sounded the story of a sultan who beheads his young brides one after another until his last wife, Scheherazade, tells him nightly stories so fascinating that he stays her execution 1,001 times, eventually renouncing his murderous habits.

For the second piece soloist Andy Cowan, a biology graduate student, took center stage with his contrabass, playing Jack in Deak’s Pulitzer Prize–nominated work. A whimsical and unconventional piece, including a kazoo, a barking percussionist, and intermittent subtitles, Jack and the Beanstalk personified the instruments—the bean-selling oboe, the cruel-giant low brass—and used eclectic sound effects—slide whistle, doorbell—to undercut the characters’ musical dialogue.


Bright lights, small exhibit

The Smart Museum of Art’s current show, Illuminations: Sculpting with Light, running through April 4, presents a handful of works that take artificial light as an essential ingredient.

Visitors first see Charles Biederman’s #9, New York, 1940, a recent addition to the museum’s collection, incorporating blue, red, and yellow fluorescent tubes into a modernist relief sculpture.

Next they encounter three pieces by Dan Flavin, Robert Irwin, and James Turrell that use light itself as sculpture. Flavin’s Untitled, 1964, for example, showcases pink and blue fluorescent tubes, hung on a gallery wall, blanketing their surroundings in a soft, pinkish glow. Finally visitors walk through rising star Stephen Hendee’s Dead Collider, 2004, an installation commissioned for the exhibit. Lit from behind by colored fluorescent and incandescent lights, a steel structure—decorated with geometric shapes—envelops them in a mod scene.

Exiting where they entered, they complete the museum’s circle of light.


Wine and swine

Wednesday evening the University’s new Alumni House welcomed more than 65 local alumni to an open house and wine tasting. The event attracted guests from the Class of ’03 through Alumni Emeriti, from the College to the Law School, frequent attendees to new faces. Tasting wine and cheese, mixing, mingling—it was just the sort of event to warm an alumni officer’s heart.

One upshot of all this intergenerational mingling was the handing down of campus lore. At the tasting (as with every other event held in the new House) alumni seemed magnetically drawn to the bookshelves containing those ubiquitous volumes of memory, the College class “portrait directories.” Recent graduates knew them as “pic books,” which they assumed to be a spontaneous abbreviation of the official name. More seasoned alumni, however, were quick to point out that when they were on campus in the ’60s and ’70s, the publications were fondly known as “pig books.”

Kyle Gorden, AB’00, Assistant Director, Class and Campus Programs, University of Chicago Alumni House

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Do-it-yourself folk

Although the 44th Annual University of Chicago Folk Festival offered its usual trio of evening concerts this weekend, the hands-on fans turned out Saturday and Sunday for workshops that filled Ida Noyes with dueling banjos, fiddles, tin whistles, and guitars.

Sunday afternoon festival-goers crowded the lobby, fingering through folk CDs and manuals (Beginning Fiddle, How to Play the Pocket Harmonica, Instant 5-String Banjo). Irish fiddlers strummed on the first-floor landing; a bluegrass group jammed in the cloakroom. In the Cloisters couples—wearing jeans or shorts, or dancing slippers and gored skirts designed for twirling—waltzed, two-stepped, and jitterbugged to Cajun tunes. Across the way participants in a harmonica workshop learned the tricks of instrument care, including a caveat on reed replacement: “They’re little, tiny things. If you lose one in a shag carpet, it’s gone.”

Next up were fiddler Liz Carroll, a South Side native who won the Senior All-Ireland Championship at 18, and guitarist John Doyle. The duo, who also performed at Saturday and Sunday’s concerts, alternated reels with insights into Irish music (“It’s like sweet and sour sauce—happy, but with undercurrents of melancholy”). They ended with an impromptu ceilidh, as the instrumentalists in the audience joined in for a set of reels—but no waltzes. “For the Irish,” Carroll said, “a waltz means the evening’s over.”


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Photos (from left to right): Fiddler Liz Carroll and guitarist John Doyle (center) lead 16 musicians through St. Anne’s Reel. Cajun dancing in the Cloisters. A gentle reminder to musicians: curb your enthusiasm.

Book lovers

Friday afternoon Special Collections hosted “Love in the Stacks,” a study break featuring Valentine’s Day treats and rare books about love, including a 1914–15 scrapbook by Helena Jameson Stevens and three drafts of Love Story (1916) by William Carlos Williams. The oldest item displayed was Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun’s Le Rommant de la Rose printed in 1515.

Not to overlook Friday the 13th, the Library showed off Antonio Scarpa’s Tabulae Nerulogicae (1794)—morbid sketches that balanced the fluff.


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Fish fest


Complete with Yiddish rap, the first-ever “Gefiltefest”—a Jewish cultural extravaganza organized by College students Miriam Gedwiser and Beth Malinowski—took place Sunday evening in Ida Noyes’s packed third-floor theater, decorated for the occasion with white and blue streamers. After a buffet dinner including, but not limited to, gefilte fish, the attendees took in a variety show featuring a monologue, skits, and a guitar performance. The evening concluded with an energetic set by the University of Chicago Klezmer Band, playing traditional Eastern European tunes with a number of instruments: bass, percussion, guitar, saxophone, clarinet, piano, cello, and violin.

Phoebe Maltz, ’05

Uplifting art


“I decided to paint my daughter several hours after her C-section,” says Jean Bundy, MFA’02, of her 2003–4 acrylic-on-canvas painting Post-Partum. “It felt unnatural not to help her while watching her sink into the sterility of the hospital and the agony of childbirth. … Painting her was my counter-depressant.”

Part of the Center for Gender Studies exhibit “Counter/Depression,” Post-Partum is on display at 5733 S. University, Thursday through March 20, along with other artworks addressing depression’s medicalization and privatization, its prevalence among students, and the relation between economic and psychological depression. What role, the exhibit asks, can art play in times of crisis?

Keeping with the same theme, a March 12–13 campus conference called Depression: What Is it Good For? will feature academic papers as well as creative works.


Photo: Jean Bundy
Post-Partum, 2003-4
3' x 4'
Acrylic on canvas

Heartfelt thanks


Usually party guests eat before they express their thanks. But at Thanksgiving in February, things went differently. The Office of Donor Relations hosted its annual letter-writing luncheon for College scholarship recipients February 18, when about 160 students acknowledged donors’ generosity by drafting personal thank-you notes.

As in past years, the event was held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Reynolds Club South Lounge. Keeping with the Thanksgiving theme, the study room was spruced up with pumpkin-scented candles, tea lights, music, and a warm fire. The menu likewise offered mini turkey and cranberry sandwiches, veggie wrap bites, acorn squash soup, and dips, as well as lemon bars, pumpkin squares, and other desserts.

Laurent Lebec, Assistant Director of Donor Relations, Office of Development and Alumni Relations

Photography by Dan Dry.

Wheel world experience

Potter Meghan Taylor Holtan—a graduating third-year in Latin American Studies—considers herself lucky to show her work in Regenstein Library’s Special Collections Outer Gallery, a space typically booked five years in advance. On exhibit last Wednesday through today, “Craftworks” features pottery Holtan created last summer outside Homer, Alaska. Thanks to a summer grant from the U of C Arts Council, she spent the season firing the kilns and mixing glazes under the watchful eye of the Anchorage native’s mentor, artisan Paul Dungan.

“You would think that ceramics don’t have a place at the University of Chicago,” Holtan writes in her exhibition description. “Craft of the hand doesn’t work so well with the life of the mind. However, UChicago, for all its theoretical foundations, was quite supportive of my binge on the three-dimensional realm.”

Part of her display, in fact, pays homage to functional pottery and sculpture at the University over the past 100 years. While three glass cases contain Holtan’s earthy, glazed mugs and bowls with muted organic designs, mounted on the wall behind are news clippings from pottery-related University archives, pulled together with help from Jay Satterfield and Rosa Williams.

It may be a while before Holtan’s next exhibit. “I am trying to graduate right now, so I am not doing any pottery,” she says. “I expect if I get back into pottery it will be in several years. Plus, I have plans after graduation to start a circus with some pals of mine.”

Joy Olivia Miller

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Multimedia martyrdom


George Bernard Shaw termed St. Joan of Arc “one of the queerest fish among the eccentric worthies of the Middle Ages.” Burned at the stake in 1431 for heresy, 19-year-old Joan, driven by the voices of St. Catherine, St. Margaret, and St. Michael the archangel, spent most of her teens dressed as a man leading French troops in their fight to expel the English. After many victories she was captured by the Burgundians, sold to the English, and prosecuted in Rouen by the Roman Catholic Inquisition, which kept meticulous records of the proceedings.

Those records inspired Carl Dreyer’s recently rediscovered silent film, The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), which depicts Joan’s excommunication, trial, and execution. The film in turn moved composer Richard Einhorn to create Voices of Light (1993), an oratorio designed to be performed in concert with The Passion—as the Department of Music did Saturday night in Rockefeller Chapel. The film screened to a 1,200-plus crowd, as Randi Von Ellefson conducted the University Chorus and University Symphony Orchestra members in Rockefeller’s chancel, hidden behind the movie screen and black curtains. Together the score and film dramatically recreated the trial, which Joan of Arc scholar Pierre Champion deemed “second in importance only to the trial of Christ.”


Sound of Music


About 20 local elders and backpack-toting students filter into Graham Taylor Hall. They turn their wooden seats away from the chancel and toward the back door. Most chat in hushed tones with their neighbors. Suddenly, a voice from above booms, “Good afternoon.” All heads tilt heavenward. A goateed man wearing jeans greets the crowd and then disappears. The music begins.

Welcome to organist Thomas Wikman’s weekly recital, sponsored by the Chicago Theological Seminary. Throughout his 30-minute performance listeners stay quiet. Many close their eyes. There is little movement, aside from one young man turning book pages and an older fellow wiping his brow with a handkerchief.

Wikman pauses part way through this afternoon’s four Bach selections to
serve up some extemporaneous program notes, although, he concedes after the free concert, he has “a very knowledgeable crowd.”

The Reverend David Neff of Chicago’s Morgan Park Presbyterian Church is a longtime fan. “The organ was beautiful,” Neff says. “‘St. Anne’ fugue in E flat—oh my, it takes you through so many movements.”

Wikman enjoys playing the seminary’s baroque organ, hand-built in 1983, doing so on-and-off for the past two decades, with stints in Europe in between. This season’s final concert is March 12.


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.

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.”


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.

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.

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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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.

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

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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).

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).

Weintraub's legacy


“Western civilization won’t end with the passing of Karl Joachim Weintraub, but you could be hard-pressed to prove that to a legion of his former students,” the Chicago Tribune wrote last week. Weintraub, AB’49, AM’52, PhD’57, died of a brain tumor March 25 at the University’s Bernard Mitchell Hospital. At age 79, the Thomas E. Donnelley distinguished service professor emeritus in History had spent nearly 60 years as a Chicago student, professor, and mentor. His Western Civilization course was so popular that College students famously camped on the quads the night before registration to secure a place. Known as compassionate and approachable, Weintraub, who also taught in the Committee on Social Thought, the Committee on the History of Culture, and the Humanities Division, earned two Quantrell Awards for excellence in teaching, among other honors. He is survived by his wife, Katy O’Brien Weintraub, AB’75, AM’76, PhD’87, and a sister. A University memorial service is being planned.

For more on Weintraub’s life and accomplishments, see the University Chronicle or Associated Press articles.


Lead poet's society


“What is a poet?” the 78-year-old man asked. Then, providing his own answer, Robert Creeley recited a few lines of verse.

Billed as “the greatest living American poet,” Creeley—visiting campus last week as part of the University’s Poem Present lecture series—used poetry, sometimes his, sometimes others’, to help answer questions about the art form posed by students and professors. During his one-hour talk, he touched on big-picture themes including life and death, careers, and friendship.

“Poetry is an extraordinarily useful companion,” said Creeley, professor emeritus at the State University of New York, Buffalo, seated at a small table before an audience of about 50 in Classics 10.

For Creeley—founder of the Black Mountain Review and friend to such luminaries as Allan Ginsburg, Charles Olson, Ezra Pound, and William Carlos Williams—peer collaboration is vital to the craft. “Poetry is a team sport; you can’t play it all by yourself,” he said. “It’s like gypsies. You know each other in the world.”


The writing on the walks


Deciphering the hieroglyphics chalked along heavily traveled quad thruways can stump even the most dedicated pedestrian reader. Today the most enigmatic messages were the scattered Qs skirting Cobb Hall’s main entry, which revealed their significance only by association with another stark sidewalk missive: “www.ChicagoQuill.com.” The Chicago Quill, an online student-run journal, launched last Friday (and edited by Magazine intern Phoebe Maltz, ’05), takes as its totem a gothic Q and promises an environment where, much like campus paths, “any and all voices will be heard.” But the Quill presents a more legible format, offering politics, arts, and culture along with the Inkblots section—a “rapid response center” for reader views “too long or formal to be a comment, but not long enough to be an article.” With student-penned stories ranging from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to tongue-in-cheek diet advice, the Quill strives, as its mission statement commands, “to further the great conversation.”

Response so far has been encouraging. According to executive director Zachary LeVasseur, who perched outside Cobb this morning trading Jolly Ranchers for e-mail addresses, the Quill received inquiries from 30 potential contributors and 40,000 hits in its first 72 hours online—attributable to both its chalk campaign and a College list-host message.

Also hitting the streets later this month is the Chicago Scholarly Review (not available online), which will publish undergraduate research papers in the humanities and social sciences. Founded by fourth-years Margaret Ryznar and Natalie Brown, the CSR garnered 70 submissions for its first seven-article issue.


Brooding over the bourgeoisie


After a year in Germany working on forthcoming books about Hegel, Nietzsche, and modernist aesthetics, Robert Pippin on Thursday delivered the 2004 Nora and Edward Ryerson Lecture. An eager crowd of professors, alumni, and students squeezed into Max Palevsky Cinema to hear his talk: “Bourgeois Philosophy? On the Problem of Leading a Free Life.”

Why are intellectuals and philosophers continually dissatisfied with modern society? Pippin, the distinguished service professor in the Committee on Social Thought, Philosophy, and the College, responded to his rhetorical question by chronicling the history of the bourgeoisie, people originally despised as philistines and poseurs: bourgeois (literally burg-dweller) referred to merchants and skilled craftsmen who held no noble status but lived within the manor township walls. Their growing affluence “gave them access to high culture but absolutely no idea what to do with it,” Pippin said, explaining that many philosophers from Rousseau onward assumed an aristocratic disdain for bourgeois mediocrity and phony fashionableness—effectively adopting a bourgeois self-hatred.

While this self-hatred swept French thought, Pippin said, the German Romantic philosophers (Kant, Hegel, and later Nietzsche and Heidegger) grappled with the issue of freedom. The meaning of freedom in a consumerist society, he argued, must be more than the ability to do and get what you want; the German Romantics insisted that real freedom is liberty from the things we want, a triumph over low habits and inclinations.

Joseph Liss, ’04

Faith and eggs


Traditional signs of Easter abounded as boys in miniature navy suits, girls in butter- and mint-colored sundresses, and ladies in magenta bonnets with flower-clad brims arrived at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel Sunday morning. The building also was gussied up, thanks to white lilies in lavender pots, soft-hued banners draped from the ceiling, and pastel hard-boiled eggs hidden among pews.

While similar scenes played out around the country, Rockefeller’s service seemed unique to the place as Dean Alison Boden preached on the struggle between intellectualism and faith, touching on both the life of the mind and the life of the spirit.

Such age-old issues gave way to lighter fare as kids gathered in the basement post-service, attaining a simpler state of enlightenment by finding those eggs.

(top) Churchgoers file out of Rockefeller after Sunday's Easter service. Photo by Todd Stoessell. (bottom) Children gather in Rockefeller's basement before the Easter egg hunt. Photo by Todd Stoessell.

Talk to me

Campus lecture titles, advertised online and on tacked-up flyers, reflect a scholarly smorgasbord. A few invoke popular culture, others are matter-of-fact, but all testify to the wide-ranging research and thought at the University. Some recent and upcoming offerings:

* Legalized Abortion, Unwantedness, and the Decline in Crime, by Chicago economist Steven Levitt
* Working in the Shadow of the Step Pyramid: Insights into Burial Practices in Middle Kingdom Saqqara, by University of Pennsylvania Museum Egyptologist David P. Silverman, PhD’75
* Studies of Human Islet-Derived Endocrine Pancreas Precursor Cells, by National Institutes of Health scientist Marvin Gershengorn
* The Homintern: Critical Anxieties about Homosexual Influence on the Arts in Cold War America, by Northwestern University historian Michael Sherry
* Uncovering Deep Throat: Media in the Political Realm, by Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Bill Gaines
* Watching the Photocycle of Photoactive Yellow Protein—One at a Time, by chemistry graduate student Jason Ming Zhao
* The Dynamics of Authority in Islam: Imams, Ikhtilaf, and Isnad, by visiting assistant professor Scott C. Lucas, AM’98, PhD’02
* Molecular Decision-making Networks: Deoxyribozyme-based Circuits and Automata, by Columbia University professor Milan Stojanovic
* The Baseball Culture of Superstition, by Whittier College religion professor Joseph Price, AM’79, PhD’82

And our favorite…

* Queering Brad Pitt: The Struggle Between Gay Fans and the Hollywood Machine to Control Star Discourse and Image on the Web (date has been changed to May 14), by Committee on Cinema & Media Studies lecturer Ronald Gregg


Playing defense


Click on thumbnails for full view. When a top U.S. Defense official visited campus Wednesday, U of Cers arrived in droves to hear him speak. Douglas Feith, Undersecretary of Defense for policy, drew a crowd that nearly filled Palevsky Theater. Feith, a chief architect of U.S. policy in Iraq and Afghanistan, ranks third in the Department of Defense under Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, PhD’72.

President Bush, argued Feith, departed “radically and boldly” from previous policy when he decided to rely on armed forces, not only the FBI, in the war on terror. For Bush September 11 “meant that we’re at war.” The enemy—“a far-flung network of terrorist organizations and their state and nonstate supporters”—is a nontraditional one that, Feith said, the country is fighting in three principal ways: disrupting and attacking terrorist networks, protecting the homeland, and engaging in a “battle of ideas” to prevent terrorist ideologies from spreading. Aiming to “defeat terrorism as a threat to our way of life as a free and open society,” he said, the United States acknowledges that, realistically, it will never fully eliminate terror worldwide.

After Feith’s talk, organized by the University of Chicago Political Union and funded by the College Republicans, some audience members—noticeably all male despite the coed crowd, and mostly critical of the Bush administration—lined up to ask questions. They grilled him on weapons of mass destruction; the link, or lack thereof, between Iraq and Al Qaeda; and the Iraq war’s death toll. Feith refuted charges that the administration lied when claiming Iraq had WMDs, calling the assertion “at worst a failure, not a lie.”

Phoebe Maltz, ’05

Guys line up to grill Feith. Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith addresses the Max Palevsky crowd.

Top o’ the building to you

One o’clock on a June-hot April afternoon is not the best time to uncork the Chianti. But at the Friday topping-out ceremony for the new Interdivisional Research Building (IRB), University officials and researchers took a few ceremonial sips, emulating Enrico Fermi’s team’s toast after the first controlled nuclear-chain reaction. They were also celebrating a milestone at Chicago: with 425,000 square feet of research space, the $200 million IRB will bring researchers from the Biological and Physical Sciences together under one roof.

The ceremonial raising of the IRB’s final girder mingled medieval tradition with 21st-century goals. Before a massive crane lifted it into place, construction workers, researchers, students, and administrators lined up to autograph the steel expanse. A timeline of medical and scientific milestones—from 1904, when Alexis Carrel developed early organ-transplant methods, to 2004, when NASA’s Mars rovers carried an instrument using Chicago-invented techniques—looked toward the future as researchers added questions they hope IRB scientists will answer. Here’s one: “Can we watch a biomolecule functioning in the cell in real time?”

Then the beam rose, carrying American and POW-MIA flags—and a potted fir. The last was a remnant from medieval Europe, when carpenters placed a tree atop a new wooden building to seek the forest god’s blessing on the structure and its inhabitants.

After the beam was eased into place, workers and guests adjourned for a hard-hat picnic in the shade of the work-in-progress building. Meanwhile, flags and tree stood tall above 57th Street. Eventually a layer of fireproof flocking will cover the timeline, signatures, and questions. But science will march on.


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Photos (left to right):Faculty and grad students add graffiti that ask science's big questions. After placing the IRB's final beam, workers release it from the crane's cable. Five floors below the beam, the topping-out crowd enjoys a picnic in the shade.

Photography by Dan Dry.

The dating game

Conventional wisdom says of U of C dating, “The odds are good, but the goods are odd.” The adage bore fruit in two recent campus events, timed in confluence with Chicago’s budding spring, which is driving the quirky student body outdoors and, perhaps, into one another’s arms.

One celebration of Chicago-style mating debuted last Wednesday in Max Palevsky Theater. A collaboration between Fire Escape Films and the Order of the C, the student-produced film Eliminate Your Date spoofed popular reality-dating show Elimidate, featuring undergraduate encounters staged at local hangouts, where contestants chose one lucky suitor after whittling down a field of four or five. While the raucous audience settled in, some eliciting giggles by shouting “penis” and others bemoaning the scene as “high school revisited,” the box office declared the show—executive produced by Clair Baldwin, ’04—sold out, even as the line snaked its way out Ida Noyes’s west entrance. Once the film rolled, the crowd watched four vignettes of self-conscious students flirting and fawning for the camera, inducing roars of laughter and the occasional “boo.” But while the unlucky inevitably were “elimidated,” all seemed to have a good time, some jokingly pursuing show host William Connors, ’04. Looking on as Connors attempted to disengage his fans, one contestant declared, arms wrapped around his own chosen lady, “I guess everybody’s a winner.”

Upping the odds of success two days later, about 80 graduate and College students took advantage of Speed Dating, which promised 20 five-minute “dates” along with pizza and beverages in Ida Noyes’s Cloister Club. Organized by Remedy Cuba, a medical-school group raising funds to distribute pharmaceuticals in Cuba, the event drew students who described the standard U of C social scene as “introverted” and “desolate.” As Nelly’s Hot in Herre thrummed through the awkward pre-event mingling, one student worried that he “might be losing the ability to chase ladies; I study too hard.” But when the round robin began, chitchat swelled and few participants had trouble filling five minutes, no matter how odd their partner.


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Photos (from left to right): Speed dating students get five minutes to chat. The right look can go a long way in five minutes. Helpful students point out empty seats at the sold-out Eliminate Your Date showing.


A miniature wheel of fortune lent some color to a gray Thursday afternoon in Hutchinson Courtyard. The Student Steering Committee of The Chicago Initiative, the University’s $2 billion capital campaign, tempted passersby with free ice cream and a chance to spin the wheel for prizes, including Chicago Initiative–emblazoned mugs, pencils, and mouse pads. To educate students about the campaign, which recently hit its $1 billion halfway point—the official announcement was today—staffers also handed out novelty $1 billion bills containing background information about the campaign.

While most participants played along, some skeptics noted that they would graduate long before the University would see the billions' benefits. Steering Committee members were quick to remind the pessimists that though they wouldn’t be here to enjoy the fruits of the campaign directly, the value of their Chicago degree depends upon the University’s future reputation, which is what the Initiative hopes to ensure.

Joseph Liss, ’04

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Photos by Dan Dry

Chicago convenes—and continues


Seconds after Edgar Jannotta, chair of the University’s Board of Trustees, announced that the $2 billion Chicago Initiative had passed the halfway point, maroon and white balloons showered the leadership supporters, alumni, and friends who had gathered Friday afternoon in the International House Assembly Hall to mark the accomplishment. At $1,017,097, 261 the two-year-old campaign has received gifts from 77,000 donors, including 43 percent of the University’s alumni body.

After the balloons, participants were showered with faculty-led panels, tours of new campus facilities, classes in the undergraduate College, and a reception at the Oriental Institute. Then came the grand finale: dinner for 500 in a transformed Rockefeller Chapel, where a floor built over the pews created a venue as magical as Harry Potter’s Hogwarts dining hall.

After 107 guests were inducted into the Harper Society Founders Circle, recognizing cumulative gifts of $1 million or more to the University, President Don Randel conferred the University of Chicago Medal on Life Trustee Marion Musser Lloyd, honoring her five decades of leadership and service.

By 9 o’clock Saturday morning, Rockefeller Chapel was taking off its party clothes. Balloons gone, the I-House Assembly Hall had a full house for the keynote address of a student-organized conference, Consolidating Democracy in Mexico. With simultaneous translation available and television cameras rolling, Mexico’s Secretary of the Interior Santiago Creel Miranda discussed election reform and then fielded insistent questions from migrant workers seeking the right to vote in Mexico’s elections from abroad.

It was business as usual at Chicago.


Photography by Dan Dry.

First to dig, first to return


Seventy-one years after the Oriental Institute made Chicago the first U.S. university to mount an archaeological dig in Iran—at Persepolis, the ancient Persian Empire’s capital—OI researchers are setting another precedent. Led by OI Director Gil Stein, a delegation will travel to Tehran in early May with 300 cuneiform tablets—the first return of loaned antiquities since Iran’s 1979 revolution.

At a press conference held today in Stein’s office, media types jockeyed for views of tiny clay tablets similar to those stored in the conservator’s office, already carefully packed and sealed for customs. Giving back the tablets, part of a huge, almost uncountable cache estimated at 15,000 to 30,000 pieces, loaned to the OI for study and publication in 1937, also signals the probable renewal of joint Chicago-Iranian projects; at the invitation of the Iranian Cultural Heritage Organization, the OI has drafted a five-year research agreement. This fall the OI became the first U.S. institution allowed back in Iran when senior research associate Abbas Alizadeh’s team began digging in Khuzestan.

And what makes the tablets so special? Oriental Institute Librarian Charles Jones admitted that when they were first discovered, the hope was that they would be “the royal archives of the great kings of Persia.” They turned out to be much more “pedestrian”: record after record documenting rations distributed to workers and travelers. But, as OI professor Matthew Stolper pointed out, when researchers began the arduous task of translating the Elamite texts, they learned much about the administrative systems that allowed the empire to flourish.

The OI returned two groups of tablets and fragments to Iran around 1950, and more shipments will follow. Asked how many pieces await analysis, Stolper hesitated, then hazarded a guess of 10,000 to 15,000.


Photo: OI professor Matthew Stolper (left) and librarian Charles Jones show the Iranian tablets (top). Stolper, Jones, and OI director Gil Stein talk to reporters (bottom).

Sushi seminar


Thursday evening Chicago students washed their hands, got their fingers wet, and arranged rice on seaweed. Undergraduates Chuk Moran, ’05, and Luba Kontorovich, ’06, led the sushi-rolling seminar in an overflowing Bartlett Lounge, while event leader Annie Sheng, ’06, explained the ingredients, purchased both in Chinatown and at the Hyde Park Co-op. Participants and onlookers packed around a large table to observe the demonstration and then to have a go at preparing (and consuming) such sushi basics as cucumber and California rolls. The finished products, though not quite the sleek cylinders of sushi bars, still delighted their creators. The lounge was so crowded, however, that at least one sushi lover, unable to muscle her way to the sushi-making table, climbed the stairs to the Bartlett dining hall for a pizza slice.

The lesson, organized by the Culinary Club, was part of PanAsia 2004, an annual ten-day Asian- and Asian-American festival. Aside from “Sushi Rolling with Chuk and Luba,” this year’s PanAsia included lectures, films, and other events exploring relevant issues.

Phoebe Maltz, ’05

Photo: Chuk Moran, ’05, demonstrates sushi-rolling motions while Luba Kontorovich, ’06, chops ingredients (top). The ingredients were bought in Chinatown and the Hyde Park Co-op (bottom).

Every one Else


In Court Theatre’s adaptation of Fraulein Else, the title character, played by Whitney Sneed, renders aloud her obsessive, incessant, adolescent interior monologue, essentially holding a conversation with herself—running parallel to the plot and dialogue—for the length of the hour-and-a-half production. The audience experiences every moment of doubt and distraction as Else, a 19-year-old Viennese woman on holiday with rich relatives, struggles with her insolvent family’s demands and quickly loses touch, spiraling toward disaster.

“Both the novella [by Arthur Schnitzler] and [Francesca] Faridany’s adaptation exert an elegantly queasy pull,” wrote the Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips. “It’s a claustrophobic tale but a compelling one. Directed by Lucy Smith Conroy, the Court production has a sure sense of psychological compression.”

Fraulein Else runs through May 16.


Reader’s choice


Bookworms sitting, standing, paging through musty old tomes and yellowed, disintegrating paperbacks: it's not Powell's Books; today it's Regenstein Library’s annual book sale. Every spring the Library combs its stacks for duplicate and dispensable books to sell over the course of a week. On Monday hardcovers are $20, paperbacks $10; Tuesday prices are cut in half; and by Saturday all unsold books are free.

Students and faculty line up outside the Reg before the sale. Few items are too recondite or in poor condition: a couple minutes of second-day browsing yield attractive works by Philip Roth, Derek Walcott, and Henry James, as well as out-of-print gems like William Hazlitt's essays or Frank Budgen's James Joyce and the Making of Ulysses.

"It's an ingenious waiting game," says fourth-year undergraduate Ian
Kizu-Blair, pondering a new-looking hardcover of Frederic Jameson's Postmodernism: Or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. "Do I buy this today for $10 or wait to get it for $5 tomorrow and risk losing it to someone else today? What do you think?"

Paralyzed with indecision, he distracts himself by laughing at old paperback cover designs of a few great novels—a trashy illustration for Saul Bellow’s The Adventures of Augie March and a kitchy cover for Flaubert’s Madame Bovary.

Joseph Liss, ‘04

Season ender


It’s the bottom of the first; a weak sun retreats behind a gray skim of clouds, and a fresh breeze flaps though the sparse crowd’s Chicago windbreakers. The scene on the field is just as bleak: In the opening moments of last Wednesday’s baseball game, visiting Elmhurst College (24-11) has already scored once against the Maroons (22-12) and will three more times before the third inning is out, racking up six hits to Chicago’s one.

But the sun returns during a short fourth inning, warming the now larger crowd of straggling students and parents quick to lend encouragement (“Let’s go, buddy. Let’s go.”) With an out at second and a double play, the top of the fifth flies by. When the Maroons step to the plate Elmhurst snags a pop-fly, but then the pitcher unravels, hitting a batter (and the umpire) and walking the next before his coach yanks him. Chicago rallies against the new pitcher, as a single to left field turns into a run (interference by the third baseman) and another hit loads the bases. The crowd, munching on hot dogs grilled and served behind the bleachers, gets riled up, badgering the ump when he calls a questionable strike (“No way, blue. No way.”) The next hit bounces over the first basemen, bringing two runners home but catching the batter at third, upsetting Coach Brian Baldea, who, after some shouting and pointing, gets ejected.

With Baldea lurking beyond the left-field fence and the fifth inning closed by a strikeout, the crowd’s cheerleading can do little against Elmhurst’s superior hitting, which adds five runs in the sixth and three more in the eighth to end the Maroons’ last home game 12-3.


Photo: Maroon seniors take a bow at their last home game (top).

Face time


Launched by Harvard students February 4 and spreading to more than 30 other schools, Thefacebook, “an online directory that connects people through social networks at colleges,” has finally reached Chicago, turning otherwise industrious undergraduates into social (or, at least, virtually social) beings. Since the system’s programmers added Chicago to its directory April 30, students have hovered over computer screens from Harper to the Reg, fascinated to no end by the new phenomenon. Thefacebook, a virtual directory of classmates’ sexual orientations, hobbies, and schedules, has replaced sticker books or pogs from current undergrads’ younger years.

Anyone with a uchicago.edu e-mail account can sign up for the free service, which links U of C participants both to one another and to friends at other schools. Students can create a list of real-life friends and also make new ones, either by searching for classmates or by scanning clubs, jobs, summer plans, political views, and other categories. Thefacebook also functions as a dating site, where users can announce whether they are seeking men, women, or both, and for what sort of relationship. Once registered, they may upload photos, theoretically but not always of themselves, and attach them to their profiles. Unlike services such as Friendster or Match.com, which, the New York Times reported, students consider “strictly for the older generation,” Thefacebook and another college-geared site, WesMatch, are used “somewhere between procrastination tool and flirtation stimulant.”

“In its first week at the University of Chicago,” the Maroon reported, “thefacebook.com has achieved rapid, widespread popularity among students, with some 1,500 students registering in the first 75 hours. After one week, there are 2,380 students registered at the University, with 118,560 students registered throughout the United States.”

Phoebe Maltz ‘05

Photo: Phoebe scans other Facebook profiles at the Reg (top). Phoebe's own profile (bottom). Photos by Molly Schranz ’05.

Grill season


Flip-flops clack around campus. Couples canoodle on the quads. In yet another sign that spring has arrived, the Hutchinson Courtyard grill has reignited its lunchtime flame, to the delight of both staff and students. “There’s nothing like grilled food,” says Deborah Lewis, an administrative assistant in the University’s legal department. “The burgers are wonderful.”

Many customers share that sentiment, making the $2.49 sandwich and its cheesy counterpart the grill’s most popular grub, with more than 200 burgers sold per day, according to Brian Oakley, the food service employee manning the barbecue on Wednesday. In addition, Oakley typically cooks up 24 brats, 14 veggie burgers, 12 hot dogs, and six portabella mushrooms. A slew of 99-cent sides—from potato salad to potato chips—round out the plastic plates.

Food aside, the grill’s al fresco station wins points with fans. “I like that they actually have it outside,” says graduate student Wenyi Wang, a second-year in computer science. Oakley agrees that “enjoying the weather” is a perk of the job, along with playing the radio, set to a hip-hop station.

The grill is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. That is, as another employee notes, “as long as it doesn’t rain.”


The greatest show on campus

A search for the student-organized Le Vorris & Vox circus Friday night turned up an Ida Noyes salsa party, a Mandel Hall performance of the GSB Follies, and Off-Off Campus’s Pants Pants Revolution! at the Blue Gargoyle. A dedicated enthusiast might have braved the spitting rain and gloomy clouds to find a dozen seagulls and three geese meandering on the circus’s announced site, a soggy swath of Midway with a lonely trapeze frame: the show was canceled.

Fortunately for performers and fans alike, Saturday proved sunny, if a bit chilly, and The World’s Fair Regained went on as planned. Ringmaster Forest Gregg, ’04 (who founded the circus three years ago along with Roberto Kutcher, ’04, and Shawn Lavoie, ’04, after their independent study on the history of the circus fizzled), set the scene as the last day of Chicago’s 1893 Columbian Exposition. To the delight of some 350 students and neighborhood families, tumblers tumbled, dancers danced, and unicyclists whizzed by.

Other highlights included knife juggling, trapeze work, poi (the New Zealand art of swinging things), clowning, and music by P1xel, the University’s own glam-rock band led by Gabe McElwain, AB’03, who “wrote what I thought the circus might sound like.”


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Photos (from left to right): Captions.

Photos by Amber Mason.

Calling Sarah


“A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do,” Alan Ladd said in Shane, and this week second-year Sean Coleman took those words to heart, laying it all on the line—make that pavement. To track down Sarah, a student he met at a Scav Hunt party last weekend, 19-year-old Coleman chalked four well trafficked spots on campus with his digits and a plea: “You gave me your number. I, like a fool, have lost it. Call me?”

Coleman had tried more conventional approaches to locating his mystery woman, including asking friends if they knew her last name, but to no avail. “This was kind of a last-ditch effort,” he said of the Monday chalking. “At some point, I’m going to have to throw my hands up.” As of Tuesday Sarah had yet to respond, but Coleman remained hopeful. “We met, suddenly clicked, we danced, we talked, had a good time,” he said. “I’d really like to get to know her.”


Helen of Vegas

The summer movie Troy may focus on Achilles (played by Brad Pitt), but installation artist Joan Jonas is much more interested in Helen. Her Renaissance Society exhibit Lines in the Sand explores Helen as poet H.D. (Helen Doolittle, 1884–1961) portrayed her in the epic poem Helen in Egypt. Rather than the figure who incited a lust that caused the Tojan War, as H.D.’s Helen tells Achilles her version of the events, she was never even in Troy, and, she regrets to inform him, “they fought for an illusion.”

Jonas imagines a liberated Helen in modern America—specifically, as a showgirl at Las Vegas’s Luxor hotel, a suggestion “perfectly in keeping with myth’s ability to blur the boundaries between fact and fiction,” the Renaissance Society’s exhibit notes say. More poignantly, Lines in the Sand also refers to the first Gulf War and the more recent Middle East conflict. In one video Jonas describes the Trojan War as a trade war whose victors stood to control access to the Black Sea and surrounding resources.

Lines in the Sand and an accompanying exhibit, The Shape, the Scent, and the Feel of Things (a work in progress), will be at the Renaissance Society through June 13.


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Summer Breeze blows through


Though the weather proved more breezy than summery—it rained intermittently throughout the day—many students nevertheless came to the main quads Saturday for a round of Jell-O wrestling, inflatable bull riding, and rock climbing. The Council on University Programming Carnival—part of the annual Summer Breeze festival organized by the Major Activities Board—also included cotton candy and caricature stands. The Summer Breeze concert , held in Mandel Hall rather than Hutch Commons because of evening downpours, featured Jurassic 5, Medeski Martin and Wood, and Guided by Voices.

Phoebe Maltz, ’05

Photo: Inflatable bull riding (top). Alex Fishman, '05, poses for a caricature artist (bottom).

A Chicagoist at heart


A newly launched Web site, Chicagoist, coedited by fourth-year Margaret Lyons, takes on the city in its entirety: “Chicagoist is a website about Chicago and everything that happens in it,” says the “about” page. According to parent site Gothamist, the “website about New York City and everything that happens in it,” the Windy City version has “posts on all the good food (especially BBQ) in the area and any incidents of tigers in apartments, if they happen to come up; there's [also] been posts about the problems with recruiting cheerleaders in Winnetka, the upcoming Chicago Book Fair; how CTA rail operators shouldn't read the paper or use their cellphones while on the job; the annoying weather; and a baby gorilla at the Lincoln [Park] Zoo!”

Lyons’s bio says the religious-studies major “left the familiar comforts of suburban New York for the Windy City and has made her home in Hyde Park for the last four years. She loves Chicago so much she pretends to understand lake effect and finally stopped calling the El ‘the subway.’” Her latest entry on Chicagoist calls knitting “the new smoking.”

Phoebe Maltz, ’05

Comic relief


The first thing Art Spiegelman did when he took the stage was light up a cigarette. “Think of this as performance art,” he said. “That’s the only way they’d let me smoke.” So began the multimedia lecture by the creative writing program’s Kestnbaum writer in residence. Spiegelman achieved national fame in 1992 when he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his graphic novel of Holocaust remembrance, Maus. Thursday afternoon in Court Theatre he addressed a newer trauma, the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which he witnessed firsthand. He was mentally paralyzed for months, he said, after rushing to take his daughter out of Stuyvesant High School that morning and witnessing the Twin Towers collapse just a few blocks away as they ran home.

“Everything I know I learned from comics.” Projecting pages of his newest comic, In the Shadow of No Towers, Spiegelman’s attempt to resolve his memory of the catastrophe with the United States’ subsequent militaristic response, he proceeded to a history of comics—which began accidentally, when a new color printing press at Joseph Pulitzer’s newspaper failed to reproduce great works of art, forcing the paper to invent the funny pages as a backup plan. When it comes to graphic novels, Spiegelman is interested not so much in superhero fare but rather in underground comics.

Defending his medium as a unique art form with distinct visual semantics, Spiegelman advocated comics’ use to change the frantic, terrorism-obsessed state of American culture. “We have to stick to our convoluted ironies and use them toward an end other than nihilism,” he says. “We need a neosincerity.”

Joseph Liss, '04

Photo: Art Spiegelman depicts "the new normal" after September 11,

The art of flirtation


Second-year COVA major Karlynn Holland didn’t know where the electric blue slug seat came from, but last Thursday she used the comfy chair on the quads to study. Her lounging drew the attention of physics graduate student Jason Wyman, who walked over and said hello.

Turns out the seat was the creation of third-year Chuk Moran (of sushi-seminar fame), whose artwork was part of this year’s Festival of the Arts.

Phoebe Maltz, ’05

No place like home

Alumni Weekend 2004 kicked off with a grand opening: a June 3 reception at the new Alumni House. By 5 p.m. a crowd had gathered to watch as former Alumni Board of Governors presidents Linda Thoren Neal, AB’64, JD’67, and Katharine L. Bensen, AB’80—both driving forces behind the building—snipped through a ceremonial red ribbon. It was official: the Gothic structure at 5555 South Woodlawn Avenue was open for business—and a party.

Inside, guests toured the new digs, picked up nametags for the weekend’s events, snacked on hors d’oeuvres, and caught up with former classmates. Alumni who’d missed the ribbon cutting were in time for another house-warming rite, as University President Don M. Randel offered a toast: “It’s high time that the alumni of this great University have a great home. I hope you will always think of it as a home to stop by when you return to campus—and that those stops will be frequent.”

Sunlight streaming through the mullioned windows, the guests smiled and partied on.


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Photos: going in: Former Alumni Board of Governors presidents Linda Thoren Neal, AB’64, JD’67, and Katharine L. Bensen, AB’80, officially open Alumni House (left); grand day for a grand opening: guests arrive at Chicago’s Alumni House (middle); Alumni Association Executive Director Christine C. Love—who is leaving Chicago to move east with her family—received a surprise from the Alumni Board of Governors: the house’s entrance foyer has been named in her honor (right).

Photos by Dan Dry.



For at least 54 of the 2,500 alumni, family members, and friends who flocked back to the alma mater’s open arms this weekend to reunite with former classmates and relive the old days, the memories hadn’t yet had much time to gather dust. The bulk of the class of 2003’s attendees—not yet a year out of school—spent Friday night at their alumni dinner, enjoying appetizers and an open bar at a North Side eatery, and unceremoniously skipped the weekend’s all-alumni events.

But a few recent grads did make their way to campus: Replacing an absent flag-bearer for Saturday morning’s procession, a single backup took the 2003 banner, joined at Rockefeller’s steps by three tardy classmates. After the ceremony, at least six members came to Ratner (five of whom either work for the University or were on the reunion committee) to enjoy the afternoon’s barbeque. And at Saturday night’s soiree, though one 2003 table was empty, the other, brimming with borrowed chairs, overflowed with newly minted alums.


Photos: the Class of 2003 at Saturday's barbeque (top); alumni procession in Rockefeller (bottom).

Jazz in translation

An entryway display to the Smart Museum’s Richard and Mary L. Gray Gallery reveals the focus of its latest exhibition: “moga,” or modern young women, the Japanese equivalent of Roaring ‘20s flappers. Composed of muted grays, taupe, green, salmon, and a splash of teal, the portrait shows a Japanese girl holding a traditional fan while wearing a contemporary pleated dress with sheer black stockings and funky jewelry.

Taishô Chic: Japanese Modernity, Nostalgia, and Deco spotlights the social role of Japanese women during the reign of Emperor Taishô (1915–26) through the mid-1930s, when traditional Japanese art and conservative values were integrated with popular Western styles. Organized by the Honolulu Academy of Arts, this collection includes more than 60 items such as woodblock prints, folding screens, figurines, household goods, kimonos, and other decorative artifacts.

Taishô Chic will be at the Smart Museum through June 20.

Joy Olivia Miller

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Photos (from left to right): Woman's Kimono, Second quarter of the 20th century, Silk, plain weave, stencil-printed warp and weft kasuri. Courtesy of the Honolulu Academy of Arts, Gift of the Christensen Fund, 1998; Round Fan Advertising Jintan, with Photos of Irie Takako and Hamaguchi Fujiko, c. early 1930s, Paper and wood. Courtesy of the Honolulu Academy of Arts, Gift of Mauree D'Honau, 1997; Yamakawa Shûhô, Three Sisters (Sannin no Shimai), 1936, Screen. Courtesy of the Honolulu Academy of Arts; Kobayakawa Kiyoshi, Tipsy, 1930, Color woodblock print. Courtesy of the Honolulu Academy of Arts, Gift of the Philip H. Roach, Jr. Collection, 2001.

Bagpipes, robes, cameras, and foreign policy

This morning the Millar Brass Ensemble welcomed soon-to-be-graduates’ families and friends into Harper Quad. Once the processional from Hull Gate began shortly after 9 a.m., all eyes turned to the University of Chicago Pipe Band and then, of course, to the black- or maroon-robed degree candidates. Family members, wearing flower-print dresses or khakis, lined each side of the parade, waving, smiling, and clicking their cameras when the student they’d been waiting for finally passed. “There’s my brother,” one graduate said to the woman behind her, smiling and waving to said relative.

Though cloudy skies and sticky air appeared to threaten this morning’s convocation session for Law School, Harris School, and SSA graduates, the ceremony concluded without a drop. The Rev. Alison Boden, dean of Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, offered an invocation, noting that despite this national day of mourning “our spirits can’t help but be elated” by such a celebratory event. Then political-science professor John J. Mearsheimer gave the convocation address, telling the graduates that with a Chicago education they are prepared—and indeed obligated—to publicly question U.S. foreign policy. “The elites who make foreign policy don’t like to have their ideas challenged,” he said. “As graduates of this institution you are well informed to engage in those debates and help avoid future foreign-policy debacles.”

At 3:30 this afternoon graduate students in the biological sciences, the medical school, the humanities, the physical sciences, the social sciences, the divinity school, and the Graham School of General Studies will receive degrees. Saturday morning is the undergraduate ceremony, and Sunday morning the business school. Mearsheimer will address all but the GSB convocation, when Nobel laureate Gary S. Becker, AM’53, PhD’55, will speak on “Business Schools within Universities: the Right Mix.”


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Far left and far right photos by Amy Braverman. Middle photos by Dan Dry.

Thrown into art

In the high-ceilinged, airy space at Gallery 312, early guests to the opening reception nosh on Asian appetizers, waiting for the artists and their families to show up. The Humanities Division convocation ceremony has just ended, and it takes some time to drive north in Friday-afternoon rush hour.

Two guests—cousins of Mary Burns, MFA’04—eye a series of cement and graphite sculptures, a piece by Stacy Karzen, MFA’04, called Lunch. A small group laughs before Jung Eun Lee’s (MFA’04) untitled mixed-media installation—when they enter the space behind the curtain, a camera unexpectedly takes their photograph, and now they’re giggling at the results: photo-booth–style strips of pictures. Around the corner visitors step onto faux-grass and read about Lynn Retson’s (MFA’04) “expeditions” to discover and recreate borrow pits, where dirt is dug to use as fill elsewhere. (A sign explains, “Exhibit temporarily on loan to the mobile site of the Midwest Museum of the Borrow Pit located in the U-Haul van near the front entrance loading dock.”) One guy stares at Paula Henderson’s (MFA’04) Chicago: the Remix, an acrylic and charcoal map of the city in which she reconfigured neighborhoods in alphabetical order, coming up with a surprisingly even distribution of race and class.

The exhibition, called Pitch and curated by the Smart Museum’s Uchenna Itam, features some 25 pieces by eight graduating visual-arts students, including photography, paint, video, installation, and sculpture. The title Pitch, Itam says, connotes the artists’sense of being “thrown out into the gallery world” and also plays nicely on Retson’s borrow pit project. Their work shown here through June 26, the graduates have a welcoming entrée into an artist’s life.


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Holding out for a hero

The lunchtime audience in the Chicago Cultural Center theater (legal occupancy: 249) was small (18 attendees plus five panelists), but the question was big: “Is Cyrano a Hero?”

Thomas Pavel, chair of Romance languages & literature at Chicago, hosted the discussion, held in conjunction with the Redmoon Theatre/Court Theatre production at the Museum of Contemporary Art, where it has received rave reviews—the Chicago Tribune called it a “richly provocative interpretation of a classic” with “a visual environment resembling a 19th-century puppet show gone mad.”

Responding to the intimacy of the group, Pavel and his panelists—Court artistic director Charles Newell, dramaturg Sarah Gubbins, translator Mickle Maher, and Allen Gilmore, who portrays Cyrano—abandoned table, chairs, and microphones to perch on the edge of the stage as they dissected the heroic mettle of Cyrano de Bergerac, French dramatist Edmond Rostand’s larger-than-life protagonist with larger-than-life proboscis.

Although everyone agreed with Pavel that “Cyrano is a hero with a flaw,” they found the flaw harder to pin down. “In these self-activated times,” Newell said, Cyrano can come across as “a coward, an idiot,” unable to accept Roxane’s love. Dramaturg Gubbins and translator Maher emphasized the idealistic nature of Cyrano’s personality and passion. “He can’t be with Roxane,” said Maher, “because if he were, he wouldn’t be Cyrano.” And Gilmore saw him as a wise man made a fool by love: “He does things around her he just can’t help.”

The third and final session of the We’re Talkin’ Classics symposium series, “The Language of Words: Conceiving and Creating CYRANO,” takes place on the day of the play’s last performance, Sunday, June 27, at the Museum of Contemporary Art.


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Photos: just another love story? Cyrano looks on as Roxane looks away(left); a larger-than-life protagonist with a larger-than-life proboscis (middle); Christian speaks Cyrano’s words of love for Roxane (right).

Photos by Michael Brosilow.

Going my way?


Despite soaring gas prices and the summer construction season, University denizens are still packing up and hitting the pavement—with a little help from the Ride Board. Online and in the Reynold’s Club basement, the Ride Board hooks up students, staff, and faculty who are ready for a road trip but need wheels or want company.

Drivers or passengers who don’t want to go it alone can register (with a valid U of C e-mail address) to post or view available rides online, or they can do it the old fashioned way, pinning scraps of paper below a Rand McNally U.S. map. Posted offers include journeys to Cleveland and New York, both offered by Gregory, who has a stick shift and no particular music preference; a roundtrip ticket to the Minneapolis Magnetic Fields Show; regular visits to St. Louis; and an expired call for a one-way jaunt to “Anywhere Anytime, USA” by classic-rock fan Bernadette.

Though the online site stipulates that the University “accepts no responsibility for the outcome of any rider or offer you accept,” a letter featured in the June 1998 University of Chicago Magazine tells the triumphant tale of a Ride Board–facilitated trip to Northhampton, Mass. Upon completing their journey, the two pilgrims, a political philosophy student and a doctoral candidate in physical chemistry, “promised to get together for a Cubs game before the summer was out. We never did make it to Wrigley Field,” explains the philosopher, “but nine years and a beautiful daughter later, we’re still together.”


Summer School


For William Rainey Harper, Chicago’s first president, learning was a yearlong enterprise. Developing the quarter system and organizing summer schools, Harper had an academic appetite that never seemed to need a vacation. Today the tradition continues, as about 290 undergraduates and 3,200 graduate students returned to campus for the summer session, one week after spring quarter’s end.

“It’s early,” said Lea Schweitz, a Divinity School doctoral student, “but it’s a good way to get a lot of Latin in a short amount of time.” Introduction to Latin meets Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2:50 p.m. During break Schweitz headed to lunch with Div School graduate student Erika Tritle and Jennifer Voss, a visiting undergraduate who happens to attend Luther College, Tritle and Schweitz’s alma mater. A little socializing can’t hurt those summer studies.


Photos: Samantha Kuhn, AM'03, reads up before sitting in on a Reading French course this afternoon (top); Intro to Latin breaks for lunch (bottom).

Shaking all over


Michael Allen, associate professor of classical languages and literatures, received an urgent phone call from his wife this morning. “She said, ‘Stop! Where are you?’” Allen recounts. Having just finished teaching a class, he was on campus. Her instructions were clear: “Stop and get shakes.”

For a buck on Wednesdays, the C-shop churns out 12-14 oz. frozen treats in such basic flavors as vanilla, chocolate, mint chocolate chip, and strawberry. Word of Shake Day travels fast, and Allen wasn’t the only customer to take advantage of the decades-old tradition. Third-year Karen McClendon-Sikic, who’s participating in a University research program this summer, made a beeline for the C-shop around 11 a.m. “I always come,” she says. “I like the fact that it’s filling and only a dollar.”

Shake Day is so popular, in fact, that University officials negotiated for nearly two years with Einstein Brothers Bagels to continue the deal when the chain moved into the shop last year, according to Christy Cook, food service director, who also notes, “It’s in our top five movers every week.”


Groundhog Doc


Running Wednesdays through Saturdays until August 28, this summer’s Doc Film series offers 40 film classics—from Alfred Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent to Ingmar Bergman’s The Magician—for a $14 quarter-long pass (or $4 per show).

Yes, you can rent or buy the same films on video or DVD, but Doc offers the joys of the big screen, air-conditioning (though July and August will have to be warmer than June has been to make this a plus), and the fun of watching with a knowledgeable audience—many of whom may have seen the same films at previous Doc screenings.

In fact, Doc’s Web site provides a list of all films screened in its Max Palevsky home between March 29, 1999, and March 15, 2003. For example, Akira Kurosaw’s Seven Samurai—showing at 8 p.m. July 29—was screened October 25, 2000, and Ben Stiller’s Zoolander—at 7 and 9 p.m. July 7—played Max on January 11, 2002.

What about the mother of all déjà vu movies? Groundhog Day—which didn’t make a Doc appearance between Spring Quarter 1999 and Winter Quarter 2003—will be shown twice on July 17, at 7 and 9:15 p.m.


Chicago summer sees twice the ambition


Forgoing the joys of a summer vacation, 12 scholars (ten straight from college, one Pritzker student, and one developmental-biology graduate student) have thrown themselves into the University’s medical science training program (MSTP). Now in its second week of classes, the eight-year-long program, headed by Jose Quintans, associate dean and master of the Biological Sciences Collegiate Division, is tailored to students seeking a doctorate along with a medical degree. MSTP courses (which later will focus on fields such as neuroscience and immunology) began in late June with human morphology so participants could get acclimated before the other M.D. candidates arrive in the fall. At today’s histology class, taught by associate pathology professor Tony Montag, the students examined epiglottal cells, which, according to MSTP first-year Brian Theyel, look like “purple and pink globs.”


Local swimmin' hole

Two slouching lifeguards—Hyde Park teens Jennie and Emily Msall—perked up in their elevated seats as a new group of swimmers trickled into the bright, humid Myers-McLoraine pool room last Friday around noon. One by one professors, staff, students, and other members of the Ratner Athletics Center unwittingly followed the same pre-swim routine—sliding off their squishy flip-flops before dipping their feet into the water to test the temperature (kept at approximately 80°), then splashing into an open lane of the 50-meter-by-25-yard pool for some lunchtime laps.

“Everyone who comes to swim is assured of adequate workout space,” George Villarreal, the men’s swimming coach and aquatics director, writes via e-mail. “In comparison to the former offerings, Ida Noyes Pool and, before that, Bartlett Pool, which have been described variously as dungeons and pits, this pool”—which opened last September –“is an airy place to swim that keeps drawing patrons.”

No matter what the season, the pool’s year-round popularity—it’s busiest weekdays at 6:30 a.m., noon, and 8 p.m. and weekends at 9:30 a.m. and 3–6 p.m.—isn’t taken for granted. “The pool is kept clean and running well by our skilled building engineers,” Villarreal says, “who clearly take a sense of ownership in running it well. A clean pool is its best advertisement.”

Joy Olivia Miller

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Photos by Joy Olivia Miller.

Men at work

It’s been said there are two seasons in Chicago—winter and construction. Even without construction projects such as the new business school, Comer Children’s Hospital, and the Interdivisional Research Building, the dictum holds true on campus. Men (we’ve witnessed no women among the workers) in hard hats are ubiquitous this summer, replacing the U of C Bookstore roof, maintaining the Hospitals and Cummings Life Sciences buildings’ facades, and trimming main-quads trees. Consider it a campus makeover.


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Photos: (first row) workers replace the slate and metal portions of the bookstore’s roof (left); the Hospitals’ facade work requires safety signs (middle); Cummings gets a facelift (right). (Second row) Jimmy Monson is “the safety guy,” ensuring trucks can get through as workers install air-conditioning pipes in the IRB (left); the main quads’ trees get a summer trim (right).

In our back yard

As students lounge, chat, and bury themselves in books, enjoying Chicago’s summer on the main quads, they probably don’t think about how the grassy plane came to be. Now nestled in the center of the 211-acre campus, the main quads, once a swampy spread 1/8th the size, was the sum total of University land when the school was granted its charter in 1890. Donated in part by Chicago merchant Marshall Field, the plot stretches between 57th and 59th streets and Ellis and University avenues, a contiguous patch thanks to a Chicago City Council edict eliminating pre-existing streets and alleys. This blank slate allowed University planners, in particular architect Henry Ives Cobb, to adopt a quadrangle scheme: a center space flanked by six smaller quads, three to the north and three to the south, enclosed by bordering buildings. Each square reflected the activities in the structures around it—for example, the Classics Quadrangle, according to the campus master plan, is more “quiet and contemplative” than Hutchinson Courtyard, where student social life was focused.

Designed to resemble England’s Oxford University, the University’s original campus was meant to provide a haven in the bustling city, suggest tradition and continuity, and emphasize the importance of wisdom and learning. Today the wide, grassy area is also a designated botanical garden, which, according to the 1999 campus master plan, is intended to grow, display, and document plants “of both ornamental and scientific interest.” And the quads keep evolving: other master plan recommendations include a pedestrian portal through the Administration Building lobby and a center circle fountain to “add appropriate emphasis to the heart of the symmetrical space.”


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Art makes you smart


“The college museum experience is absolutely seminal,” the Smart Museum’s departing Dana Feitler Director, Kimberly Rorschach, told a jam-packed lecture hall Wednesday. Addressing “Why Do Universities Have Museums?” Rorschach explored the history and purpose of university art museums, choosing, she said, to focus on “why we collect rather than what we collect.” University museums’ “unique resources,” she said—like having access to world-renowned intellectuals—allow them to meet their “distinctive mission” of providing thought-provoking art and interdisciplinary educational programs.

Indeed, the Smart’s summer exhibition, Smart Collecting: A Thirtieth Anniversary Celebration, demonstrates the collection’s variety, ranging from modern American to 18th-century Asian works. The exhibition “highlights outstanding additions to the Smart’s collection,” says a brochure, including sculpture, photography, painting, and drawing.

In August Rorschach will leave her ten-year position to become the first director of Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art. Under interim director Jacqueline Terrassa, MFA’94, and beyond, Rorschach says, she is confident that the Smart will continue to help lead Chicago arts scene by showing “intellectually risk-taking exhibitions.”

Smart Collecting: A Thirtieth Anniversary Celebration will be on display through September 5.

Leila S. Sales, ’06

Summer score


Even with Maroon student-athletes on summer break, Ratner Athletic Center and the adjacent fields behind it remain packed with ballplayers, swimmers, and goalies gunning for glory. Yet there are no 300-pound linemen here. These superstars dominate the fields and courts with an average height of less than four feet.

The University’s Super Summer Sports Camp is back in session, welcoming students aged 4–16 for fun and games under the instruction of varsity coaches and student-athletes. The program has grown from 41 participants in 1995 to 225 this year, a popularity that camp director and head football coach Dick Maloney attributes to the University of Chicago name and the seven-to-one camper/staff ratio. The camp attracts participants from as far south as 95th Street and as far north as the Loop.

The 2004 session offers morning recreational and afternoon sport-specific activities, including dodgeball, soccer, football, softball, and swimming. “I like a lot of the sports we get to play, and I really like to tear it up on the football field,” says Ryan Williams, 14, a six-year camper. “I get to have fun, make friends, and play.” In fact, 75 percent of this year’s kids have attended sessions in previous years.

First-time campers are also impressed. “It’s been fun to do sports that I like and learn some new ones before we go cool off in the pool,” says Maya Glover, 10.

Today begins the second of the camp’s two three-week sessions, when a new crop of kids gets to resume the home-run hitting and goal scoring.

Sean I. Ahmed, ‘06

There's such a lot of film to see


“We’re just praying that the weather will hold out,” said Mariah Ford, ’06, ORCSA’s Summer in the City events coordinator, as she scanned the sky for approaching thunderclouds. It was a humid Tuesday night and a few dozen people, mostly students, lounged on the main quads, waiting for the free outdoor screening of Breakfast at Tiffany’s to begin. There have been past summers, Ford said, when every screening got rained out, “just due to bad luck.”

Fortunately, despite foreboding flashes of lightning, Tuesday’s weather remained calm, and the audience settled into their picnic blankets and beach chairs to watch Audrey Hepburn in what is considered one of her most memorable roles. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is the second of four movies that ORCSA will present this summer, including Big Fish on July 27 and Starsky & Hutch on August 10. The first screening, Kill Bill, “got a pretty big turnout,” Ford said, even though the audience complained that there were too many bugs and that the men setting up the video projection equipment were listening to Elton John.

ORCSA’s film selections reflect both a student survey conducted at the end of the school year and the need to show some family-friendly movies. Other Summer in the City events include a lunchtime concert series, free ice cream days, and trips to Second City and Six Flags Great America. As Hepburn would say in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, it’s all “simply marvelous.”

Leila S. Sales, ’06

Courtyard noise


For those nodding to the beat the whole hour or sneaking an extended glance on their way to and from lunch, Hutch Commons at noon on Thursdays has become the prime place to rock out to Hyde Park’s best student bands. ORCSA’s Noontime Noise series has introduced the University’s oft-hidden side to students and staff on campus this summer.

“The idea behind ORCSA's summer programming is to provide a variety of events for students and faculty during the summer,” says Mariah Ford, ’06, the Noontime Noise program scheduler. “We try to encourage students or other people affiliated with the University to perform.”

Yesterday’s show was split between two of the school’s best rock groups. Spooning with Nora, which includes “a jazz-trained drummer, a poet, a conductor, and a composer,” according to the band’s Web site, played a five-song set that took the audience on a light-hearted, summery tour through the band’s discography. Healthy Booty, a temporary side project for the U of C band Health and Beauty, followed with another half hour that ranged from the scathing noise-rock of “Guns v Butter” to the slow and pensive “Children Are A Gift From God.”

About 50 people watched the bands perform, which took place on the set-in-progress for University Theater’s A Winter’s Tale, while passersby stopped to listen for a song or two. The free show by the bands, which have played in such Chicago venues as the Metro, Lyon’s Den, Fireside Bowl, and Bottom Lounge, delighted the crowd.

A still-unannounced DJ will headline next week’s Noontime Noise, which includes free ice cream for the audience.

Sean I. Ahmed ‘06

Photos: Healthy Booty (top); Spooning with Nora (bottom).

Ring out, wild bells


Wylie Crawford, MAT’70, the University of Chicago’s carillonneur, flutters his hand up and down as he hums through a few bars of Pachelbel’s Canon, one of ten pieces he will play during his free hour-long recital August 15. As melodic as his humming is, he promises that the song sounds better on the carillon. “You can get amazing musical effects,” Crawford says, gesturing up toward Rockefeller Chapel’s lofty tower, where the instrument resides.

Rockefeller’s annual summer concert series, dubbed Carillonathon, presents an opportunity for Crawford to invite musicians from all over the world to campus. This year guest carilloneurs come from as far away as the Netherlands and as nearby as Naperville, Illinois. The performers choose their own programs, sometimes arranging the pieces themselves, so the recitals represent “whatever people are interested in working on at this particular moment.”

Every carillon is different, but playing the University’s is a special experience, Crawford says, because it’s “a real monster.” Weighing more than 100 tons (approximately the size of the new giant “bean” sculpture in the city’s Millennium Park), Chicago’s carillon is the second largest in the world.

This past Sunday a small crowd listened to Linda Dzuris, from Clemson, South Carolina, perform folk songs from Spain, America, and the British Isles. While a few people chose to climb the bell tower and sit with Dzuris as she played, most of the audience, including Crawford, sat scattered across Rockefeller’s lawn, reading, picnicking, and enjoying the tolling of this rare instrument.

Carillonathon continues at 6 p.m. every Sunday through August 22.

Leila S. Sales, ’06

Photos: listeners lounge on Rockefeller's lawn (top); university carillonneur Wylie Crawford, MAT'70 (bottom).

New café on the block


Students and professors whose work keeps them on the quads often ignore campus south of the Midway. Yet the University of Chicago Press building’s new Midway Gardens Café at 60th and Dorchester offers an enticing breakfast, lunch, and coffee option that might make them change their routine. Customers can lounge in couches and modern, padded-metal chairs in a spacious main area lit by four arched windows. Taking a page from the building it serves, the café’s shelves are stocked with Press books such as A Poet’s Guide to Poetry and Truth and Reality.

Operated by Plum Café, a catering service founded by Richard Mott, MBA’81, the coffee shop features drinks, baked goods, and made-to-order sandwiches. Midway Gardens Café is the tenth campus shop run by Mott’s company, joining the Classics, Biological Sciences Learning Center, and Law School shops.

Though the shop is already open, decorations are a work in progress. Once done, patrons will enjoy a taste of the Midway’s history along with their food and drinks. The café, named after Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1914–24 concert gardens at 60th and Cottage Grove, plans to add a 73” x 60” recreation of a John Warner Norton cubist and futurist mural that adorned the old gardens.

Sean I. Ahmed, ’06

On tour

Third-year Marya Spont hates it when people ask whether she has fun at the University. But answering such a question comes with the territory for a summer tour guide. Thursday morning Spont, dressed in a purple halter top and a low-rise, flowered skirt, does her part to put Chicago’s reputation for dreariness—which she considers undeserved—to rest. Five minutes into an hour-long campus walk, she slips off her flip-flops and scores a laugh from the crowd of about ten high schoolers and parents, visiting from as near as St. Louis and as far as New Delhi. Her crash course covers academics, housing, student life, and Hyde Park, stopping at such high-traffic spots as the Reynolds Club, Joseph Regenstein Library, and Max Palevsky Residential Commons. Along the way she recommends Shake Day and warns against stepping on the University Seal.

The Office of College Admissions keeps its daily tours—departing from Harper Library at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. March through November (the afternoon tour is dropped December through February)—small to allow for discussion. Parents do most of the probing—“Can you request a single room?” “Are all the dorms this nice?”—although father Greg Tuleja concedes, “In the end, our opinion is not going to be important.” Indeed, independence awaits.


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Botany Pond to blossom


After last summer’s massive quad tear-up to install water lines, the current Botany Pond renovation, featuring a couple workers digging holes, seems like a minor affair. Yet the effort to create a “lush garden” that harkens “back to when it was used as an outdoor classroom and laboratory,” says University Planner Richard Bumstead, could dramatically change the aesthetics of a main campus walkway.

Inspired by 1910 photos, the two-year, $180,000 project aims to recreate that century-ago pond. Back then John Coulter, the University Botany Department’s first chair, planted the area’s flora, mixing specimens from his field trips with the University’s greenhouse holdings. The new garden, Bumstead says, will reconstruct the original garden’s “marsh-like feel” with “lush and more colorful broad panels.”

The digging began July 1, accommodating the pond ducks’ annual departure. Landscapers plan to complete hardscape construction by fall and continue other time-sensitive work through spring. The ducks, turtles, and goldfish, meanwhile, await their redesigned home.

Sean I. Ahmed ’06

Alumnus examines drug trade


While the film’s star shuffled nervously beside him, occasionally acknowledging compliments after a Monday evening advance screening, writer and director Joshua Marston, AM’94, answered questions and regaled the crowded Old Town, Chicago, theater with tales of creating his first feature-length film, Maria Full of Grace. The movie follows a 17-year-old Colombian girl (played by Catalina Sandino Moreno) who becomes a drug mule to escape her small-town life.

Marston, who studied political science at Chicago (he spotted an old professor in Monday’s audience), researched the film by hanging out at airport customs offices, where police arrested mules as young as 12 and as old as 84. He also spent time in New York’s Little Colombia neighborhood and in Colombia itself. Though filming had to shift to Ecuador when political violence prevented the crew from securing production insurance, Marston told Monday’s gathering that what scared him most was having the “audacity” as an American to try his hand at a Colombian film.

But he’s already attracted authentic praise—Colombia’s first lady invited him to screen it twice for assembled dignitaries, and the country purchased a print for educational purposes. In June a 17-year-old Columbian boy called Marston to say he had been scheduled to travel as a mule but the movie changed his mind. International critics have also hailed the film, which won awards at the Seattle, Berlin, and Sundance film festivals.


Photo: writer and director Joshua Marston, AM'94, and actress Catalina Sandino Moreno on the set of Maria Full of Grace (bottom).

Women on board

The Women’s Board members chat eagerly as Chris Love, executive director of the Alumni Association, leads them around the Alumni House, old fraternity quarters that the association moved into nine months ago. “We wanted it to be comfortable,” Love says, showing off the conference room and lounge. “We wanted a homey atmosphere.”

The crowd murmurs its appreciation. “It’s just so marvelous,” says one white-haired, bespectacled board member. “This is what you call giving back.”

In the lounge the two dozen women settle in for University Architect Curt Heuring’s presentation on the Master Plan. The 1999 plan, calling for the development of nine new campus buildings, is nearly complete. Now, he says, the University is looking ahead to future projects that will “create a density and vitality south of the Midway that hasn’t been there before.”

To get a closer look at the new buildings, the group boards a bus for a campus tour, guided by Robert Feitler, X’50, chair of the Master Plan Executive Committee. He points out buildings in progress such as the Interdivisional Research Building and the Chicago GSB Hyde Park Center, the plan’s remaining projects. Along the way the women meet up with Bill Michel, AB’92, assistant vice president for student life, who takes them around the Gerald Ratner Athletics Center and Max Palevsky Residential Commons.

The board members swap opinions on each building. When driving past the new GSB, one woman sniffs, “Well, it certainly doesn’t fit with the neighborhood.” And while Ratner seems to be a crowd-pleaser, the Palevsky dorm engenders more conflict. “I fell in love with the new dorms eventually,” says a young alumna, “but it took a while.” An older board member disagrees. “I love it,” she enthuses, heading out of Palevsky and back to the bus. “I love it.”

Leila S. Sales, ’06

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Which dorm will it be?

The incoming class of 2008 sits on pins and needles, waiting to see what luck their housing assignments will bring. Will they be placed with roommates who are tidy, quiet, and unfazed by late-night parties and study sessions? Or will they spend ten months stuck with monsters?

On the class’s password-protected online discussion forum, incoming students share roommate horror stories, handed down from older friends and siblings. One girl claims to know a Boston University student who roomed with a murderer. Another has heard of roommates who bring home different strangers every night.

Then there are newcomers such as Hilary Lee, who fears she will be denied a roommate entirely. Lee doesn’t want to be placed in Broadview, she admits. She would rather be placed with a socialite or a murderer, she says, than live alone.

Soon the class will wonder no more. The Office of Undergraduate Student Housing mailed out room assignments Friday, and the luckier students have already received theirs. Incoming first-year Caitrin Nicol is thrilled: although she doesn’t know her roommate, she did get placed in her first-choice dorm—the Shoreland's Dudley House. Dave Franklin, meanwhile, is slightly more apprehensive: he preferred Palevsky East but will live in the dorm’s west wing.

Although students’ satisfaction with their housing assignments may vary, there’s one point on which they agree: they’re glad the wait is over.

Leila S. Sales, ’06

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Meaty movie


Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, cowritten by Hayden Schlossberg, AB’00, has more meat than a standard stoner flick. Chronicling two pothead roommates’ Friday night quest to curb their Castle cravings in New Jersey, the film hits on such social ills as racism and workplace stereotypes about Asian Americans. Confronted by career anxiety, bigoted bullies, and pushy parents, Harold and Kumar—an investment banker and a med-school applicant—end up finding themselves (as well as those small, square sliders).

Schlossberg penned the script while in the College with high-school bud and University of Pennsylvania grad Jon Hurwitz, basing the main characters on friends. “There’s a huge population of college kids who get high, who are on track in life,” Schlossberg told the Washington Post. “Or who are working at jobs…not really sure they are into it. They come home from work, they get high and think, ‘What are we going to eat for dinner?’ That’s people’s daily lives. We take that and blow it out to epic proportions.”


Fun as an art form

A sunny, deserted island spotted with tall palm trees; flowered meadows illuminated by the moon; schools of fish darting through ocean currents. These scenes aren’t typical of the Chicago landscape, particularly this past week’s rainy days. Rather, they come in the imaginations of the kids visiting the Smart Museum on Wednesday afternoons, capturing their own conceptions of beauty through art.

The Smart’s Art Afternoons offer workshops each week to community children and adults. Starting with six attendees per week in 2001, the program has grown to a peak of about 140 participants in a given week. College students assist the workshops, as groups practice techniques such as clay sculptures, fish-tank gravel mosaics, and paper weaving. In a museum scavenger hunt, the children look for different shapes and styles in the art collection.

But it’s the hands-on component that often inspires the most excitement. Many participants hailed a past session, where they made sponges out of paper, expanded them with water, and then painted with them, as the coolest workshop yet. “I loved making the sponges,” said Nzaari Kaepra, 8, while weaving multicolored patterns out of construction paper with her home-schooled classmates. “It was really interesting to learn that paper can make sponges. We made different shapes, and I painted flowers in the nighttime.”

The College assistants also enjoy the workshops. “Art Afternoons are my favorite parts of the week,” said third-year Kristin Love, who works at the Smart as part of the College’s Summer Links community-service program. “There are always a lot of familiar faces, and the adults enjoy it too.”

Sean I. Ahmed ’06

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All the courtyard's a stage

“I think of The Winter’s Tale as a fairy tale,” wrote Susanna Gellert, AB’99, in her director’s notes for University Theater’s (UT) Summer Shakespeare in the Court. “In this world nothing—however terrible or delightful—is a dream.”

Gellert and her design team created such whimsy through Ásta Hostetter’s (AB’04) costumes—oversized skirts, colorful fabrics, wing-like sleeves, and enormous sparkling-twine crowns—Scott Zielinski’s dramatic lighting cues, and Mark Winston’s (AB’04) melodic score, performed by a student string quartet. Last night the spectacle drew a few dozen audience members to this epic story of love, loss, and renewal.

The actors too—students, recent alumni, and children who attended the University’s Summer Drama Workshop—helped transport the audience to Shakespeare’s fanciful world. After the performance Gellert, who participated in UT as a student and now attends Yale University’s School of Drama, marveled at the actors’ enthusiasm for embedding themselves in the text and characters. And working with the young campers, she said, “put into context what the show is really about”—creating theater the entire Hyde Park community can enjoy.

Each year’s Summer Shakespeare play is the only UT mainstage production performed in Hutchinson Courtyard. Meredith Ries’s (’05) stage design made use of what Gellert called the “ambient world of the courtyard”: the actors took over the area, playing to audience risers on three sides of the elevated stage—impermanent structures funded by the Arts Planning Council and the Women’s Board—and periodically splashing through the courtyard’s fountain.

Summer Shakespeare, like the season itself, is fleeting: The Winter’s Tale continues its run this Wednesday through Saturday before disappearing as quickly as a Shakespearian tragedy’s entire family lineage.

Leila S. Sales, ’06

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Before you vote for George or John . . .

If the political bug hasn’t bitten you yet, perhaps the right reading materials will inspire your passion for the democratic process. The University of Chicago Press has compiled its “latest and best books for the election season”—required reading for critical thinkers including The Almanac of American Politics 2004, Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think, The Votes that Counted: How the Court Decided the 2000 Presidential Election, and neocon figurehead Leo Strauss’s Natural Right and History. The Press’s Web site also links to election-related book excerpts and interviews, plus candidate, party, and news home pages.

By A.L.M.

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Bright lights, big station

The big switch came May 30. The next morning you could see it in the commuters’ faces. As they stepped off trains that just the day before had made their official Hyde Park transfer stop at the 59th Street station, the Metra Electric and South Shore commuters—a usually somber lot—were pleasantly surprised by the bright 57th Street station.

In contrast to the dingy, graffiti-marred, and sometimes malodorous 59th Street location, the new station meets with approval from the 500-plus weekday rail riders who board Metra Electric and South Shore lines in Hyde Park. “It’s so clean,” says Renette Davis, a Metra rider and the head of Regenstein Library’s serials & digital resources cataloging. “And it’s quicker to get to work too.” The more centrally located station also features amenities such as elevators for handicapped passengers.

Input from a series of community meetings helped drive the transfer point’s switch to the 57th Street station. Funded by Metra, the Federal Transit Administration, and the Illinois Department of Transportation, the stop has only some minor work—punch-list items—yet to be completed, according to Metra spokesman Dan Schnolis.

Not only passengers appreciate the upgrade in surroundings. “I love it. It’s such a change,” says ticket agent Launie Rae Scognamiglio, a 31-year Metra employee who transferred from the 59th Street station. “I actually get sunlight now. My plants are thriving.”


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Photos by Joy Olivia Miller.

Wonders of the ancient world


Only three people show up for the third and last installment of “Lunchtime in Another Time,” the Oriental Institute’s free Friday gallery tour series. But docent Joseph Diamond, AM’56, seems unfazed by the turnout, noting with a shrug that other tours this summer have attracted dozens of people. He says that the topics may drive attendance—while this week’s focus is the Persian gallery, past tours of the Egyptian and Mesopotamian rooms proved more popular.

Taking advantage of the low tourist to docent ratio, the audience members engage directly with Diamond, answering his questions, asking their own, and admiring aloud the pottery and ornaments. Diamond—and ancient Persian culture—has their full attention. They lean in to get a closer look when he pulls a stamp and clay lump from his pocket, demonstrating the ancient use of seals.

Diamond claims he can’t remember when he began working at this Near Eastern museum. He thinks it’s been four or five years but points out, “Time takes on a different meaning here.” With an Assyrian dictionary that has been in process for 80 years and artifacts that date to 3500 BC and earlier, Diamond says that the Oriental Institute makes a couple years here or there seem insignificant.

Leila S. Sales, ’06

Get to the point

On any given warm and sunny day, scores of Hyde Parkers grab beach towels and make their way on bike, rollerblade, stroller, or flip flops east to the Promontory Point. Though the Point, a broad swath of grass and trees whose revetments jut into Lake Michigan between 55th and 54th streets, remains open to pleasure seekers, a battle between neighborhood activists and the city is smoldering. In 2001 city planners, as part of a larger effort to renovate Chicago’s lakefront, proposed replacing the blocky shore and its eroding supports with concrete steps. Many community members objected to the plan, citing aesthetics and water access as main concerns, and negotiations have been ongoing ever since. The latest news, posted online by the Promontory Point Community Task Force (the organization behind the white-on-blue “Save the Point” stickers dotting Hyde Park bumpers), is a report from former mediator Jamie Kalven arguing in favor of preservation-minded restoration.

With construction delayed until at least 2005, this summer the Point continues to operate as Hyde Park’s swimming hole, sports field, jogging track, bike path, beach, and backyard.


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Drinking in knowledge

What book made headlines in California in 1989 for condoning alcohol use? What is the name of the pickled ginger served with sushi? What car company originated the electric starter?*

If you know the answers to those questions and are looking for a little extra pocket change check out the Pub’s Trivia Tuesdays. Organizers and Pub employees Gerra Bosco, Amy Herrick, AM’01, and Vanessa Davies, AM’03, the self-titled “Trivia Goddesses,” were looking for a way to lure in more customers. This being the University of Chicago, they thought, how about a trivia contest?

Here’s how it goes: Working in teams of two to six people, participants answer four rounds of ten questions with each correct answer worth one point. The bonus fifth round questions feature Chicago- or alcohol related answers worth two points. The $3 entrance fees are placed into a kitty and split 70/30 between the first- and second-place teams. This week’s winners, the “Vultures,” took home $101, with second place “Thundercats” nabbing $43.

Alas, the authors, with the help of two friendly Pub-goers, Marcia and Zohar, and $1 Huber beers, answered none of the above questions correctly. Marcia, a Brazilian who works at Survey Lab, and Zohar, a sociology grad student from Israel, have played several times. They both admitted to having a less-than-deep reservoir of knowledge on American pop culture—though let's just say the "The Golden Girls" theme song was familiar to all.

Registration for the weekly games is at 7:45 p.m., games begin at 8. For more information sign up for the Pub’s listserv.

*Respectively: Little Red Riding Hood, gari, Cadillac.

Johanna and Jeff Jay, AM’98

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Back to sports


It may not be Athens, but Stagg Field and Ratner are getting their own piece of the action this week. Almost 200 students moved into Max Palevsky Central on Sunday—though autumn quarter doesn’t start until September 27—to prepare for the fall athletic season.

Practices began today for the soccer, cross-country, football, and volleyball teams, whose first competitions come early next month. Hopes are high especially for the Maroon women’s soccer team, which lost last year’s NCAA Division III championship game in overtime. While football and soccer took breaks between their morning and late afternoon sessions, the volleyball players lifted weights at Ratner.

Sean I. Ahmed, ’06

Photo: the Maroon volleyball team works out in the Ratner weight room.

Photo by Anthony Decanini.

Reading, writing, and regulation


Though nearly all industries are government regulated, “colleges are among the most extremely regulated institutions in the nation,” said University vice president for administration and chief financial officer Donald Reaves. “I cannot think of any part of this institution that is not already regulated heavily.” He made these comments at a “town hall meeting” lecture series designed, according to associate vice president for human resources Chris Keeley, “to incorporate staff as a more knowledgeable and active participant in the life of the University.”

To demonstrate the costs of regulation, Reaves gave a modern-day adaptation of the Noah’s Ark tale, drawing laughs from the U of C–employee audience as he described a world in which zoning, waste management, and workers’ rights regulations prevent Noah from completing his ark on time.

But regulation burdens are not always laughing matters. Reaves bemoaned the strained relationships that can develop between administrators, who must enforce the rules, and faculty members, who find the medical, ethical, and environmental restrictions intrusive. And the monetary cost of compliance, while impossible to calculate exactly, approximates $20 million, Reaves said, or about 5.5 percent of every tuition dollar.

Still, he doesn’t doubt regulation’s necessity. “We do know that risks exist, and they must be managed,” he summed up. “We understand that the stakes are so high that regulations and lawyers will surely be with us forever.”

Leila S. Sales, ’06

Head of the class


University undergrads may claim “where fun comes to die” as their unofficial social-life slogan, but their academic experience is thriving, according to new college ratings.

Princeton Review has named Chicago numero uno for academic experience in its latest survey—one of those highly publicized lists that have become synonymous with the college-application process.

Among national universities the U of C also tied Cornell and Johns Hopkins for 14th in U.S. News and World Report’s top-schools category in its 2005 rankings. Harvard and Princeton came in first.

To rate colleges and universities, U.S. News groups schools with their academic peers and gathers data in areas including graduation and retention rate, faculty resources, and alumni giving. Based on those indicators, schools are given a weighted composite score.

While earning high marks is a plus for recruitment efforts, many administrators discredit the rankings, arguing that a school’s quality is beyond measurement.

But such scorings have a strong foothold in the American marketplace, and U.S. News’s annual ratings, which debuted in 1983, now share the limelight with other lists including Princeton Review’s.

Needless to say, Chicago didn’t sweep every category. It was, for example, absent from U.S. News’s list of schools with the most athletic scholarships. Maybe next year.

This item corrects the 8/27 original posting--8/31/04.


Summer ceremonies

Since its 1893 founding the University of Chicago has celebrated 478 convocations, most of them following formats similar to Friday’s: the Student Marshals and graduates processed through Rockefeller Chapel; Dean Alison Boden offered a prayer; Angela Olinto, chair of astronomy and astrophysics, delivered a short address; the student choir sang an anthem; President Don Randel awarded degrees; and everyone who knew the lyrics sang along to the Alma Mater. The most noticeable difference between Summer Convocation and the graduation exercises held earlier this year wasn’t the ceremonial proceedings; it was the 90-degree temperature in Rockefeller.

Well-dressed audience members fanned themselves with Convocation programs. The musicians quietly asked their director for permission to perform from the chapel’s ground level rather than in the elevated, overheated choir loft. The graduates wiped their brows, finding no respite from the heat in their floor-length black and maroon gowns.

But when President Randel called forward the graduating students and decreed, “By virtue of the authority delegated to me, I confer to you the degree of Bachelor of Liberal Arts, and I welcome you to this ancient and honorable company of scholars,” the years of education and the half-hour of suffering through the weather suddenly seemed, to the graduates and their guests, time well-spent.

Leila S. Sales, ’06

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One for the books


After adding 2.5 million books to Chicago’s stacks over 24 years, Martin Runkle, AM’73, steps down as library director October 1. Photographs, articles, and a timeline highlight his tenure in the Special Collections Research Center exhibit Catalyst for Change: On the Occasion of Martin Runkle’s Retirement as Library Director. The exhibit, which opened Monday in Regenstein Library, focuses on themes such as donors and friends, evolution of technology, staff development, library outreach, Regenstein reconfiguration, and the construction of Crerar.

A believer in “digitization as a means of preservation,” Runkle oversaw the Library’s user-interface overhaul. Personal computing terminals—beginning with the green-text-on-black-screen systems and progressing to today’s Windows, Mac, and Linux machines—replaced the old card catalog in 1989. More recently Special Collections began digitizing its photo files, a continuing project.

Even as computers made the need for a massive card catalog obsolete, the expanding science collection led to the 1984 addition of a new library, Crerar, which in part replaced the old Chemistry Library. The Library system’s continued growth forced a massive reorganization in 1990, including more compact, motorized stacks on the B level.

The exhibit will outlast Runkle’s time at the University by a week, running through October 7.

Sean I. Ahmed, ’06

Life at the pond

“Excuse me, are you the architect?” inquires James Cronin, professor emeritus in physics and astronomy & astrophysics, approaching the Botany Pond walkway from the main quad road. When David Gianneschi replies that yes, he is a landscape designer for architect Douglas Hoerr, Cronin continues: “I’m delighted to see you’re putting in some grass. I walk by here every day. It’s one of the few calm, beautiful places” on campus, and grass near the pond’s edge, he says, is important for frolicking children.

Cronin isn’t the only one who’s noticed the quickened pace of the pond’s renovation, begun July 1. As Gianneschi points out, this week landscapers planted most of the new greenery, intended to give the area a more lush feel, as it had circa 1910. Besides the sod, the flora includes two azalea varieties, a Japanese maple, lily of the valley, pickerelweed, and iris.

Still to come are a couple crab-apple trees and four bald cypress—two of which will go in the pond itself to give it “more height and diversity,” Gianneschi says. Planted in concrete culverts just below water level, the trees will be at least six feet away from the pond’s edge, Giannesci says, to prevent children and duck-hunting cats from jumping to them. The water lilies, meanwhile, will stay, though two-thirds of the smaller, floating lilies will be removed to make the surface more visible.

At the pond’s south end, circular stepping-stones lead to the Class of 1988 concrete bench, while two north-end stones offer pond access for people and other fauna. Three new lampposts provide nighttime lighting.

The pond should reopen, Gianneschi says, by mid- to late September.


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Photos by Dan Dry.

Fall cheer

A squint-inducing setting sun and half-filled campus didn’t stop about 100 students and parents from cheering on Division III’s new top-ranked women’s soccer team Tuesday afternoon. In many ways the game was a typical, nonthreatening affair for the Maroons (2–0–0), who didn’t allow a Lake Forest (1–1–0) shot and made two of their own in the victory. The crowd roared its approval from beginning to end for 15th- and 83rd-minute goals and taunted the opposition: “That goalie’s going to be real good after this game.” The squad played hard with the fan encouragement; scrappy starting forward Bridget Hogan, ’07, had to walk on crutches post-game after a late leg-to-leg collision, and others regularly got banged up. That type of play helped women’s soccer earn their top poll ranking, vaulting ahead of State University of New York at Oneonta, to whom they lost in last year’s national championship game.

Other Maroon teams also dominated the competition last weekend, as the men’s soccer, volleyball, and men’s and women’s cross-country teams each had successful opening performances. Men’s soccer (2–0–0) impressed the home crowd, earning shutout wins in Friday and Sunday games. Volleyball (3–1), guided by Chicago’s new career-digs leader Tracie Kenyon, ’06, earned three wins in two days after having only seven all last year. Men’s cross country swept the four-team field at the University of Illinois at Chicago Invite. Women’s cross country followed with a 3–1 mark.

With four winning teams and football starting Saturday, returning students may be surprised to see how Chicago’s fall teams have become some of Division III’s best, despite the Princeton Review’s ranking of Maroon sports as the 18th-most “unpopular or nonexistent.”

Sean I. Ahmed ’06

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Awaiting O-Week


Although first-years won’t start Orientation Week for another eight days, housing staff is busy preparing for their arrival. Many Resident Heads—the adult couples living in each of the 38 houses—moved in weeks ago, and the last of the third- and fourth-year Resident Assistants arrived Tuesday. Now the bunch faces intense training and planning for the thousands of students who will soon crowd campus. “Once the O-Aides come,” says Johanna Gray, ’05, Vincent House’s RA, “it all happens really fast.”

This is Gray’s second year in Vincent House, but for 27 RAs and 17 RH couples, housing work is a new experience. “I’m really less freaked out than I was last year,” laughs Gray, while first-time RH Sacari Thomas-Mohamed admits her excitement is tinged with worry that her residents will dislike her. Katie Callow-Wright, director of the University housing system, says she focuses on training new RHs for O-Week, which she describes as “a critical time to get to know first-years individually.”

The schedule for new and old housing staff alike reads like alphabet soup: presenters come from relevant campus offices including SCC (Student Care Center), UCPD (University of Chicago Police Department), SCRS (Student Counseling and Resource Service), CPO (College Programming Office), RSVP (Resources for Sexual Violence Prevention), and OMSA (Office of Minority Student Affairs). But Callow-Wright is the first to point out that the training isn’t intended to be comprehensive. Rather, it aims to acquaint staff with resources that will help them build communities, develop relationships, deal with emergencies, and handle administrative responsibilities.

Tonight the housing staff will hold a banquet, a welcome respite from days of 9 to 5 training. Activities such as the banquet, ice-breakers, and snack times, Callow-Wright says, are ways for the RAs and RHs to foster a community of colleagues “who are in the same boat.” “It’s the last chance to focus on ourselves as a group,” Gray says from her empty dorm, “before we turn to our houses.”

Leila S. Sales, ’06

Photos: resident heads and assistants take a snack break from training week (top); the group settles in for a two-hour training session on planning house activities (bottom).

Early returns

Anticipating the September 23 autumn quarter start, construction workers continue to place finishing touches on the GSB’s new Hyde Park Center. Today contractors installed doors on the building’s western, or Rockefeller Chapel, side, while electricians wired the lobby receptionists’ computers. Though the grand opening is not until next week, already the six-story glass atrium, dubbed the winter garden, illuminates the entire building, giving the interior a lighter-than-air quality. Lounge chairs are scattered everywhere to give business students a collaborative and relaxing atmosphere, one of architect Rafael Viñoly’s main priorities, along with creating an exterior that reflects the neighborhood. While the jury is still out on whether Hyde Park’s latest addition does in fact resemble both Robie House and Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, the some 1,500 projected full-time users are excited by its prospects.

Sean I. Ahmed, ’06

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First two photos by Sean I. Ahmed. Far-right photo by Dan Dry.

Video renaissance


Tucked under the eaves on the fourth floor of Cobb Hall, the Renaissance Society is a leader in showcasing contemporary art. But for the current exhibition the small gallery looks—at first glance—totally unprepossessing, divided into five enclosed screening rooms whose blank outer walls give no clue to the artwork that awaits inside.

This is the fifth time in the past two years that the Renaissance Society has used isolated screening rooms to exhibit video art. So by now, says educational director Hamza Walker, the gallery knows how to deal with the art’s peculiar needs: lighting and sound demands, screen sizes, and adequate space for each work. “As a medium,” Walker says, “[film] has definitely come into its own.”

The filmmaker on exhibit this time is Yang Fudong, whose work has been shown at museums worldwide, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and who was recently nominated for a Hugo Boss Prize. The new show, open through October 14, features five of Fudong’s black-and-white films, including one—part II of “Seven Chinese Intellectuals”—produced by the Renaissance Society.

Producing artwork is a growing part of the Renaissance Society’s mission, says Walker. “It isn’t simply showing recent art that’s already existing, but going one step further.” The gallery, he stresses, remains “completely beholden” to the artists’ requests, exerting no creative control. Fudong’s films, he continues, comprise “a really beautiful and very generous body of work” that, taken as a whole, explores critical questions about modern-day China. “The show is very, very rich.”

Leila S. Sales, ’06

Photos: still from "An Estranged Paradise" (top); still from "Seven Chinese Intellectuals" (bottom).

Celebrity swim

Though already Olympic-sized, the Myers-McLoraine Pool seemed even bigger this week when eight-time Athens medalist Michael Phelps dove in for a workout. Phelps, who is touring with U.S. teammates Ian Crocker and Lenny Krayzelburg for Disney’s “Swim With The Stars” show, called the University early Wednesday morning to request some practice time between stops. At 11 a.m. the 6-4, 195-pound 19-year-old arrived at the Gerald Ratner Athletics Center and swam for an hour. His 200-meter backstroke, one of the only events that didn’t garner him an Athens medal, was timed at 1:48, seven seconds faster than the pool record.

Nearly everybody who caught wind of America’s hottest sports celebrity was excited to bask in swimming greatness. Phelps accommodated the attention gracefully, staying around after his practice to answer questions and pose for pictures. “Once everyone realized that there was an Olympian swimming in our pool, people started coming out of the woodwork with their cameras,” fourth-year swimmer Dennis Connolly said. “Most everybody was in awe of him—especially the girls. For a 19-year-old, he handles all the attention given him incredibly.” With Phelps’s large signature now scrawled on the men’s swim team’s locker room door, Ratner has its own piece of the 2004 Olympics.

Sean I. Ahmed, ’06

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Photos by Dennis Connolly, '06.

So many children, she didn't know what to do

Hyde Park resident Mae Wilson sits at Kimbark Avenue, hugging a stuffed goose as she welcomes families to the 57th Street Children’s Book Fair. Her first year playing Mother Goose, the opening parade’s grand marshal, the grandmotherly volunteer kicks off the day by leading Peter Rabbit, Lyle Lyle Crocodile, and other book characters in a procession around the fairgrounds.

Throughout Sunday afternoon fairgoers approach her and recite lines from Mother Goose’s nursery rhymes. “I always say, ‘Oh, I am so honored and humbled that you remember that!’” Two girls run up to pet Wilson’s goose, while their mother comments, “We just had to say hello.” As the three leave the fair, Wilson laughs, “That’s a pleasant notoriety.”

Lab Schools parent and four-time volunteer Sophie Worobec notes that her friend Rebecca Janowitz, LAB’70, started the fair 18 years ago as a back-to-school celebration. Then, distracted from recounting the event’s history by a booth advertising $5 paperbacks, Worobec pauses. “Oh,” she reminds herself, turning away from the books, “I better concentrate.”

The book fair, Janowitz says, has blossomed into a Hyde Park tradition featuring singers, dancers, storytellers, puppeteers, author signings, and dozens of book vendors. And not only young children enjoy the festivities. Mixed in with face-painted toddlers are University students and faculty. Dana Kroop, ’07, shows off her glittered construction-paper crown, while Rebecca Knapp and Laura Mazer, both ’06, read a Babar picture book aloud to each other. Knapp asks, “Can we live here forever?”

Leila S. Sales, ’06

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Oh, what a week


One first-year, stressed about his placement tests and problems registering for certain classes, mutters sarcastically, “Well, this is just amusing,” as he walks out of his adviser’s office. Meanwhile, 20 ambitious new students take a librarian-led tour of the Reg, asking nervous questions about everything from making copies to interlibrary loans. Perhaps most indicative of the early college-student traumas are the handful of first-years locked out of Bartlett Dining Commons, left hungry because they neglected to learn the dining hall’s hours.

Still, O-Week has brought a lot of excitement for the Class of 2008, with the College Programming Office attempting to make the acclimation to college life as easy as possible. Smiling O-Aides helped with Saturday move-in before students filtered to “O-Fest”—a midday fair offering games, prizes, and food—and later Opening Convocation. After the bagpipe procession, which passed through the main Quad and ended at the newly redesigned Botany Pond, students said goodbye to their parents one last time before officially becoming phoenix-loving first-years.

With 52 percent of the new class varsity high-school athletes, 60 percent musicians, 40 percent involved in publications, and 25 percent student-government leaders, this year’s 1,220 enrolled students have résumés on par with recent classes. They’ll continue meeting each other in activities this week, including tonight’s Reynolds Club dance party; tomorrow’s Aims of Education Address, given by President Don M. Randel, and subsequent discussion; and Saturday’s “Explore Chicago Day,” which culminates in a downtown reception at the John Hancock Observatory. Now if only first-years could get that lunch schedule down, they’d be in the clear—at least until midterms.

Sean I. Ahmed, ’06

Photos: new students tour the Reg (top); first-years fill out registration forms in the College advising office (bottom).

An onion by any other name


Judging from the wealth of nicknames boasted by the Windy City (others include the Wild Onion, the City of Big Shoulders, and the City in a Garden), describing the Big Chi is a big challenge—one answered this fall by the University of Chicago Press with a very big book. The Encyclopedia of Chicago, edited by U of C history lecturer James R. Grossman, Ann Durkin Keating, AM’79, PhD’84, and UCLA professor Janice L. Reiff, offers 21 critical essays, 56 original maps, and 1,400 entries from abolitionism to Zoroastrians.

The 1,000-plus page volume also covers a few of the city’s choicest monikers. “Chicago,” for example, comes from an American Indian word meaning “striped skunk,” a term that also refers to the pungent wild onions that grew along the eponymous Chicago River. “Windy City,” on the other hand, was coined by Midwesterners in the late 1800s to deride the famously long-winded local politicians and other vocal boosters who touted the charms of the soon-to-be Second City (another insult, this from A. J. Liebling New Yorker articles). Both Windy City and Second City, the encyclopedia notes, have since been adopted with pride.


Jensen wins "America's Nobel"


Following in four Chicago faculty members’ footsteps, Elwood Jensen, PhD’44, the Charles B. Huggins distinguished service professor emeritus in the Ben May Institute for Cancer Research, today received this year’s Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research.

Jensen shares the honor with Pierre Chambon, of the Institute for Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Ronald Evans, of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The trio’s discoveries, the award citation says, “revolutionized the fields of endocrinology and metabolism.”

Jensen was singled out for his research on how estrogen and other steroid hormones work, transforming “the treatment of breast cancer patients” and saving or prolonging “more than 100,000 lives annually.” On campus this afternoon, Jensen will address the “Discovery of Estrogen Receptor” at the Biological Sciences Learning Center.

Called “America’s Nobel,” the Lasker often is a precursor to the prestigious Swiss prize, as was the case for Chicago professors George Wells Beadle, Charles Huggins, and Roger Sperry, PhD’41. Double-helix codiscoverer James Watson, PhB’46, SB’47, also made the Lasker-to-Nobel leap. (Professor Janet Rowley, PhB’45, SB’46, MD’48, has won a Lasker but no Nobel.)

Meanwhile, bioterrorism expert Matthew Meselson, PhB’51, who earned an honorary Chicago doctorate in 1975, earned the Lasker Award for Special Achievement in Medical Science “for a lifetime career that combines penetrating discovery in molecular biology with creative leadership in the public policy of chemical and biological weapons.”

The Albert & Mary Lasker Foundation administers the awards, first presented in 1946. Recipients will receive an honorarium, a citation, and an inscribed statuette October 1 in New York.


Arresting images


“Omigod!” gasped the young woman in the U of C sweatshirt as she caught sight of Feng Feng’s Shin Brace (1999–2000). The Gulliver-sized bodyscape—a metal apparatus drilled into the leg of a Chinese workman, who wore it for 18 months—fills an entire wall of the Smart Museum, where Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China had its opening reception Thursday night.

Feng Feng’s photograph is not the only larger-than-life aspect of the new exhibition, presented jointly at the Smart and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA). Curators Wu Hung, the Harrie H. Vanderstappen distinguished service professor of art history, and Christopher Phillips, curator at the International Center of Photography in New York, have divided the 130 works by 60 artists into four themes: “History and Memory” and “Reimagining the Body” at the Smart, and “People and Place” and “Performing the Self” at the MCA. The October 2–January 16 exhibition includes a range of special events, kicking off a two-day scholarly symposium this weekend.

Many of the photographs and videos have never been seen in the U.S.—and rarely in mainland China. Indeed, as he led reception-goers, who’d earlier munched veggie wraps, cashews, and Moroccan-style chicken, on a tour of the 13 artists represented in “Reimagining the Body,” Wu Hung, dapper in shades of browns and black, confessed, “I sometimes feel a bit uneasy to see these works in this environment because I first saw them in a Shanghai warehouse,” exhibited in unofficial shows, “underground.”


Photo: Sheng Qi’s “Memories Me” (2000) is a photograph of the artist’s hand—minus the finger he cut off and buried when he left his homeland.

Soul sisters


A photo of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, embracing in their toddler Full House days, decorates a U of C sorority-recruitment handout. “Friendships last forever when sisters come together,” the flyer says. And though the sorority women working the Reynolds Club booth have left toddlerhood far behind, they echo the sentiments in their own words. “Your sisters are there for you,” says Joelle Shabet, ’06, who tells of a sister who stayed at the Reg all night with her, and next morning woke her up in time to turn in a paper.

Joining the handouts at the booth are colorful, tissue-lined cups filled with candy—the sororities’ giveaway to women who pay $15 to sign up for formal recruitment. Since last Thursday, when the two-week registration began, 17 potential sisters have enrolled to attend information sessions and then the main event October 14–17, when the three National Panhellenic Conference sororities on campus hold formal parties. “It’s a mutual selection process,” Shabet says—the recruits pick their top choices, and if their favorite sorority picks them too, they’re in. Each of the three sororities—Alpha Omicron Pi, Delta Gamma, and Kappa Alpha Theta—should have 55 total members when recruitment’s done. Despite the old stereotypes, “it’s not a superficial thing,” says Shabet, who studies modern Hebrew. “You take a pledge to commit yourself to these women.” And at Chicago, where “there are no stupid people,” she notes, “it’s an incredible way to meet smart, vibrant, articulate women.”


Photos: third-years Kim Alvarez, Joelle Shabet, and Sarajohn Kerins work the sorority-recruitment booth in the Reynolds Club (top); a potential sister signs up (bottom).

Racism's still strong, theologian argues


“There is no place one can go to escape racism in America,” argued James Cone, Union Theological Seminary professor and self-proclaimed “theologian activist,” addressing a packed Mandel Hall Tuesday night. The inaugural speaker in the University’s Workshop on Race and Religion: Thought, Meaning, and Practice, Cone attacked America’s persistent—and sometimes, he said, hidden—“white supremacy” and the notion that the ’60s civil-rights movement had erased inequalities.

In a deliberate, scathing tone, he challenged the audience to “speak openly and often” and to “listen to one another,” advising them to be guided by empathy, or “living in someone else’s skin.” Although his ideals are based on Christian values, he said, “One does not have to be a Christian as I am to see the grave threat that white supremacy poses.”

The lack of communication and understanding in the United States—including both whites refusing to learn black spiritual and existential history and blacks not grasping their own—troubles Cone, who garnered crowd applause and responses of “amen” and “don’t hold back; tell us.” Blacks should not blame today’s whites for current segregation, he argued, but they should take whites to task for not challenging a government that refuses to consider the problem.

Despite the University’s recent progressive efforts, Cone criticized its history as a “university that benefited from injustices in this society,” suggesting it should have “put back what it unfairly took” (but without citing specifics.) Building off his critique, political-science professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell closed the event by urging community members to call the University in times of need and to speak up when it encroaches on them.

After his talk Cone stayed to sign his books and discuss his arguments. The workshop series continues Tuesday, October 19, with University of California, Santa Barbara, Professor Ines Talamentez discussing Native American religions.


Religion makes economic sense


As bowls of salad and balsamic dressing get passed around the cafeteria-style tables in Swift Common Room, the lunchtime group members, mostly Divinity School professors and students, make introductions, joking and guessing each other’s denominations.

It sounds like typical banter at the Div School’s Wednesday lunch series. Less commonplace within these walls, however, is the talk’s topic: economics. Which is why speaker Luigi Zingales, abandoning his $4 vegetarian meal to discuss religion’s impact on economic attitudes, concedes up front: Religion “is not our area of expertise. We should give up.”

The admission earns laughs before Zingales, the Robert C. McCormack professor of entrepreneurship and finance, continues, explaining his team’s approach: “Mostly we can draw correlations.” Using data from the World Values Survey, a collection of questionnaires on values and beliefs, the researchers examined attitudes toward equality and incentives, private and government ownership, and competition. They even found some links between religiosity and support of the free-market system.

Religion, he argues, is good for economic development, meaning churchgoers are generally more promarket. Among religions, he says, Muslims are more pro-state and antimarket; Christians and Buddhists are less pro-state and more promarket.

While Zingales calls the level of interest in the study “overwhelming,” he has moved on to new projects, including a look at cultural biases in economic exchange. Further analysis of the religion findings will have to wait. “Actually,” he says to the crowd of 50, “this is more for you guys to do.”


Domesticated poet


Forrest Gander did not stand like a poet lauded many times over. Winner of a Whiting Award, two Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative North American Writing, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for Arts, the Brown University English professor took to the podium hunched beneath his jacket, as if he were simply stopping by to have a drink with the 70 or so audience members before slipping out the door.

But he soon put on his poetry-reading cap, beginning with works by Jaime Saenz, which Gander translated with Kent Johnson. He highlighted the evening, the first of the University’s 2004–05 Poem Present series, with three poems from his 2001 book Torn Awake.

That he teaches a Brown course on phenomenology is appropriate for Gander, whose evocative diction engaged the Classics 10 listeners with everyday images from “air vibrant with mosquitoes” to a girl whose shyness “sits at the edge of her plate like a fly.” He told the audience, “I am not given a subject, but I am given to a subject; I am in it.”

Economical with his commentary, he let his work speak for him. Only once did he look up from his verse to warn, “I seem to be increasingly becoming a poet of domesticity”—hinging on themes of love in its playful, erotic, and paternal forms—an evolution he attributed to his teenage son.

Meredith Meyer, ’07

Maroons come home

On a sunny, 70-degree homecoming Saturday a couple hundred alumni returned to Hyde Park to tailgate, play catch, and watch the Maroons football team take on conference foe Washington University (St. Louis). The event started with a pregame picnic, where graduates chatted about their personal and professional lives and the University's rapidly changing campus—reflected in the picnic’s location on the year-old Ratner Athletics Center front lawn.

Some alumni skipped the food to watch the now-13th-ranked women’s soccer team take on Carnegie Mellon at 11 a.m. Two key Maroons—third-years Diana Connett and Jacqui DeLeon—returned from injuries, DeLeon playing with a cast on her broken arm. Despite their on-field presence, Chicago (7–1–2) struggled in the scoreless, double-overtime match. The now-14th-ranked men’s soccer team duplicated the 0–0 score immediately afterward.

Fans moved from picnic and soccer game to the day’s main attraction, football’s clash against perennially strong Washington University. Though it was a sloppy, 11-turnover affair, the Maroons (1–4) made the game interesting in the fourth quarter. Trailing 24–3, second-year quarterback Marc Zera hit first-year wide receiver Mike Albian on two touchdown passes, raising the score to 24–16. The crowd roared when Chicago recovered a fumble at the Washington 6-yard line with 2:58 left. But one play and four seconds later, Zera’s pass was intercepted in the end zone, and Washington won 24–16.

Though Chicago’s three games were thrillingly close, the weekend’s focus was taking a look back at past student-athlete contributors. Friday night’s second annual Hall of Fame Dinner, held at the Quadrangle Club, honored the six 2004 inductees: Patricia R. Kirby, William A. Lester Jr., SB’58, SM’59, James D. Lightbody, PhB’12, John J. Schommer, SB’09, Courtney D. Shanken, AB’42, and Helen Elizabeth Straus, Lab’80, AB’84, MD’90. Like last year's inaugural class, those recognized spanned men’s and women’s athletics, Big Ten and Division III eras, and included both administrators and students.


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Photos by Kristine Khouri.

Suspension accord


In the School of Social Service Administration lobby, the window walls behind him revealing the Midway’s yellowing trees, Martin Marty, PhD’56, took the podium. His Wednesday afternoon talk, “America: Still Gadget-filled, No Longer Paradise: Providing Human Services Today,” spanned the 1890s origins of modern social work, 1967 predictions about American religiosity in the year 2000, America’s post-9/11 insecurity, and current debates over displaying the Ten Commandments, funding faith-based initiatives, and repealing the federal estate tax. The winding discourse concluded with his argument that religious institutions and social services are poised for unprecedented partnerships.

Sporting a red plaid bowtie, Marty, the Fairfax M. Cone distinguished service professor emeritus in the Divinity School, noted that in 1980, the last time he lectured at the SSA, there was “a necessary difference between the social-work way of doing things and the clergy’s way of doing things.” Indeed, each entity often perceived the other as imposing on its turf. But now, especially after September 11, 2001, that view has changed.

Taking his lecture’s title from theologian Reinhold Niebuhr’s Cold War–era comment that America was “a gadget-filled paradise suspended in a hell of global insecurity,” Marty contended that after 9/11 “the suspension cord was broken, and we joined the rest of the human race,” no longer feeling sheltered by two oceans and friendly neighbors. The resulting trend toward intense religiosity, though threatening in its militant forms, also can have positive effects, he said: “In a world of insecurity, there is more friendliness between the secular and the religious,” creating “a larger amplitude of resources on which to draw.” Secular and religious social-service providers share a common vocation, he argued. And in such a world, where the Divinity School and the SSA have joined forces, “we will be much better off than when it was just turf battles.”


Photo: Martin Marty, PhD'56, sits with SSA senior lecturer William Borden, AM'83, PhD'88, before Borden introduces Marty's lecture (top).

Sweet home falafel


“A dazzling extravaganza of great, free food and even better music,” according to Council on University Programming (COUP) posters, Blues n’ Ribs hit 59th and Woodlawn last Friday from 9 p.m.–1 a.m.—the organization’s first major party of the year. In Ida Noyes Hall’s third-floor lounge a DJ spun contemporary tunes, in a first-floor room singer-keyboardist Charlie Love played soul-filled music, and on the first-floor Cloister Club’s temporary stage students danced to Willie Kent and the Gents’ upbeat offerings. The estimated 1,500 participants also devoured the snacks—1,000 ribs cooked behind Ida Noyes, 1,000 samosas, 2,000 chicken pieces, four trays of hummus, eight trays of falafel, and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale for those of legal drinking age—by the event’s midway point.

COUP—which also organizes Dance Marathon, winter celebration Kuviasungnerk Kangeiko, and Summer Breeze—will host Fall Formal November 5 at Soldier Field.


Funny pages


Favoring floppy hair, Converse, and ironical T-shirts, a 100-plus hipster crowd gathered in the International House Monday night to take a peek inside the Onion, an irreverent newspaper spoof popular with the 18- to 35-year-old set. Firmly in the youth bracket themselves, Onion editor-in-chief Carol Kolb and associate editor Amie Barrodale spoke about the paper, joking and clicking rapidly through some of their favorite front-page stories (“Women: Why Don’t They Lose Some Weight?”, “Jesus Demands Creative Control Over His Next Movie”, and “Irrelevant Pop Stars Unite Against Bush”).

After launching into a phony history—in 1756 a man named Zweibel traded a sack of yams for a printing press—Kolb revealed that, in fact, the Onion was born in 1988 at UW–Madison and has clung to its Midwestern roots despite a recent move to New York City. To write for the paper, she joked, you have to have lived in Wisconsin in 1995—that and wait for one of the current staff (a Midwestern group of 10) to die.

Though the Onion creates fake news in the line of Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, sometimes, the editors admitted, it gets taken pretty seriously. Papers from Michigan to Beijing have picked up stories and spread them (including “Report: Al-Qaeda Allegedly Engaging in Telemarketing”). They also got a flood of e-mail thanking them for revealing that Harry Potter books do indeed incite Satanism in children.

And, while their fake news makes great fun of the powers that be (“Cheney Vows to Attack U.S. if Kerry Elected” headlines a recent edition), Kolb and Barrodale claimed that the paper is “not too lefty or too righty.” Their job, they argued, is to “point out stupidity wherever it happens,” a charge they fulfill even with the paper’s brief motto: You are dumb.


Leaves of grass


When perfect autumn days arrive like Thursday’s 57-degree sunscape, Chicagoans fall in love with their city all over again. Coats and scarves—only recently dug out of closets—get spurned in favor of shades. In the quads students lounged on the grass one last time, red, yellow, brown, green leaves peppering their views of the blue sky. Some loungers even braved flip-flops and short sleeves.

Lucky for the Magazine, photographer Dan Dry captured the all too fleeting moment on campus. When winter blows in and breaks our hearts, his photos can serve as love letters from a happier season.


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Families bring kisses, clean clothes


Showering students with hugs and food, parents and siblings arrived in droves last weekend for the College Programming Office’s (CPO) Family Weekend 2004. Participants flocked to the food (“They sure know how to feed us well,” remarked one father wearing an “I’m a proud U of C parent” button at the Sunday dean’s brunch), neighborhood and campus museum tours, and mock classes spanning the undergraduate divisions.

Saturday morning presented a little confusion as two other major events crowded Hyde Park: the Second Annual Comer Kids’ Classic 5K Run, Walk, and Kids Dash and the Humanities Open House. While parking spots were at a premium, some families chose those alternatives over the CPO’s offerings.

For those who stuck to the schedule, their daytime hours were filled. In the evenings students—now in prime midterm mode—got decent meals outside the dining halls. And for the luckiest young scholars, eager parents washed their laundry and cleaned their rooms. Now that’s a study break.


Global Chicago


In International House’s flag-lined Assembly Hall, four authors of the new book Global Chicago (University of Illinois Press) spoke Monday about the city’s evolution from a swamp to a worldly metropolis.

Richard C. Longworth, executive director of the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Chicago Center, discussed Chicago under the 1950s–70s reign of former Mayor Richard J. Daley. It was a time, he said, when mobsters carried machine guns in violin cases and the Democratic Machine was a paternalistic force, providing new immigrants jobs in return for votes.

Chicago’s global character, continued Chicago Tribune urban correspondent Ron Grossman, is much older than Daley’s time. Considered the Wild West even after the Industrial Revolution, the city was advertised throughout poor parts of Europe as a place where anyone willing to work could make a living, Grossman said: “Chicago imported human beings like some countries imported raw materials.”

William Testa, vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, attributed the region’s worldwide influence to the railroads, constructed in 1848. And immigration’s rise the last 20 years, he said, is evidence of Chicago’s continuing international legacy. The 2000 census reported that in 51 percent of Chicago’s non–African American households, English is the second language. An Italian restaurateur, Grossman recalled, said recently, “These days you can’t run an Italian restaurant without Mexicans in the kitchen cooking.”

Far from the days of political machines, the current Mayor Richard M. Daley’s biggest brag, Longworth noted, is that “he’s planted more trees than any other mayor.” Daley’s beautification efforts, demonstrated in projects like Millennium Park and flower baskets lining Lake Shore Drive, are not frivolous, Testa added. They represent Daley’s continued efforts to maintain international acclaim. Chicago, he argued, must be attractive to intellectuals and entrepreneurs to remain competitive in the global economy.

Many corporate headquarters have left Chicago in the past decade, Chicago sociology professor Saskia Sassen reminded the audience. The global role, she said, is one Chicago cannot take for granted.

The panel, part of the Center for International Studies’ World Beyond the Headlines program, was the second such event this quarter.

Meredith Meyer, ’07

A bioethical upstart just in time for election


“There were already protests at Princeton when I arrived,” reminisced Peter Singer, known for triggering the modern animal-rights movement and supporting human euthanasia and abortion, about his 1999 appointment to Princeton’s Center for Human Values. Selected to give the Law School’s 2004 Dewey lecture, the bioethics professor drew a mélange of students, professors, and academics there Thursday afternoon to speak on “America’s Responsibilities as a Global Citizen.”

“Right now American ethical pursuits are concentrated within national self-interest,” said Singer, whose recent books include One World: The Ethics of Globalization (Yale University Press, 2nd ed. 2004). “Instead, America’s responsibility as a global citizen should be to help international law gain substantial ground.” America’s role under the Bush administration, he argued, has hindered global solidarity and welfare rather than improve it. Bush’s reluctance to sign the Kyoto Protocol hinged on his belief that overstated environmental dangers would disturb the American economy and way of life. “Bush argues that the U.S. cannot carry the burden of cleaning up the world, especially when China and India are not asked to sign the Kyoto Protocol,” Singer said. “But the polluter must pay.” Industrialized nations should be the first to assume responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions, he contended. “America cannot claim to be a good global citizen by conferring the costs of the global environmental welfare to other nations who are less equipped to deal with them.”

Further, Singer said, America’s violation of the Geneva Conventions, its exemption from the International Criminal Court, and its efforts to challenge the ICC’s legitimacy threaten to undermine the rule of law. Urging America to sincerely support the United Nations, he said, “If we allow preemptive strikes to become international law, we allow war to occur more easily. We must work with the UN to advance global cooperation.”

Bianca Sepulveda, AB’04

Many a magic being

A menagerie of witches, black cats, angels (and their devilish counterparts), pirates, and princesses were among the 900 guests who filed past the flapper and the American Indian to take their Mandel Hall seats Saturday night. An annual tradition, the music department’s Halloween concert brought out a costumed crowd for this year’s Ring of Destiny, featuring selections from Wagner’s Das Rheingold, Götterdämmerung, and Die Walküre and Johann de Meij and Howard Shore’s music from The Lord of the Rings performed by the University Symphony Orchestra. Not to be out-spectacled by the audience, the musicians also were disguised—as elves, clowns, vampires, and what might have been a strawberry. Conductor Barbara Schubert appeared as a Viking, making a grand entrance on a wheeled longboat.

Reading from her golden shield, Schubert told the audience to expect “to meet many a magic being” in the selections, and she prefaced each piece with a rhymed synopsis describing the music’s fairytale narrative. Refusing to be distracted by false ears, lab goggles, and a young audience prone to unprompted claps and screams, the orchestra thundered through the pieces, accompanied during “Ride of the Valkyries” by the Hyde Park School of Ballet professional track dancers performing in the aisles. After the show—the first of two—the crowd gathered up its cowboy hats and prosthetic tails, streamed through a waiting throng of ghosts and goblins, and ventured out into the Halloween night.

By A.L.M.

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The price of the election


Two days before Senator John Kerry conceded the 2004 presidential race to President George W. Bush, the George J. Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State hosted a debate on the two candidates' likely economic impacts.

The event, held at the Graduate School of Business' new Hyde Park Center, pitted GSB professor Austan Goolsbee—an economic adviser to the Kerry campaign—against Randall Kroszner—a 2001–03 member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. They argued to a capacity crowd of polo shirt- and khakis-wearing grad students grabbing lunch in between classes and job interviews.

An animated Goolsbee criticized Bush's fiscal responsibility during the past four years: “It would be like the week before your kid goes to college, you max out all of your credit cards.” Bush's “stimulus” policies, he said, are supposed to take effect within the next six years, but the government has signed itself up for a decade of debt. “What does it take for a president to be voted out of office?

Kroszner rejected the deficit's importance, primarily arguing that there has been little evidence that the long-term interest rate will increase. Because the country's debt-to-GDP ratio is relatively low—particularly when compared to the Reagan years—lenders know that the country won't have a problem paying deficits back, he said.

The two speakers also debated the growing Social Security crisis. With the baby-boom generation pressing the system's resources, Bush's policy would create tax-relieved personal retirement accounts that create a long-term fix, said Kroszner: “It has to be now or later, and we're willing to pay more now to save later.”

But Goolsbee argued that the 2001 stock market recession reminded people why they don't invest privately and that Bush's projections of investment returns have not been risk-adjusted. He expected Kerry to restore the 1993 Clinton tax code and use surpluses to save Social Security—a plan that Bush “hacked to pieces with bad fiscal policy.”

Two days later, with Republicans expanding control of all three government branches, Bush's fiscal policy will almost certainly be able to test the waters again.

By S.I.A.

Photo: (from left to right) Randall Kroszner (Bush), Saul Levmore (moderator), and Austan Goolsbee (Kerry).

A lesson in jumping to bird-brained conclusions

For some time tales have circulated around campus that a peregrine falcon, until recently an endangered species, had taken up residence among the Gothic towers of the main quads—the urban equivalent of cliffs and ledges. So when Mandy Collins, a Hospitals housekeeper, came to my office looking for a guy with a camera to photograph the “giant killer bird in the courtyard,” I assumed that was what she had found.

We ran down to a big plate-glass window about 10 feet away from a crow-sized, brown and white bird, perched in a tree in the courtyard next to Chicago Lying-in Hospital. Below it were a pigeon’s bloody remains. In hospitals death is supposed to occur behind closed doors, so we had taken only a few pictures before a two-man clean-up crew arrived: one to gather and prepare the prey’s feathers and bones for burial and one to protect his colleague from the predator—who promptly flew away.

Pointing a camera out the window in a busy narrow hallway drew a crowd. “This is a peregrine falcon,” I told the onlookers, “the world's fastest animal. They swoop down on other birds and knock them out of the air.”

A quick Google Images search confirmed my impression—the bird must be a peregrine falcon. But within an hour Mandy came back to tell me our bird was a Cooper’s hawk. A neurologist had pointed it out in a book. I scoffed.

We looked at the prints of our bird, the Web’s peregrine falcons, and the book. It was a Cooper’s hawk–also until recently endangered, also fond of pigeons, also a cliff dweller and pretty darn speedy—but not the world’s fastest.

Later that day, to see if the bird returned, I passed by the window. It was the same spot where I had my only previous memorable bird-watching experience, again punctuated with snap judgments. George Block, a feared, renowned, foul-mouthed, cigar-chomping, ex-Marine surgeon, swooped down on me in the hall, grabbed my arm, and dragged me to that window. I expected complaints about litter, or worse, but he pointed out the window to a big red bud tree in full bloom. Smack in the middle sat a bright red cardinal. “Look at that,” he said. “Isn’t that the most beautiful goddam thing you ever saw?”

By John Easton, AM’77, U of C Hospitals public affairs

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Photos by John Easton.

All the world's a poem


“Who will be the first man to forget a continent?” the poet read. “The great forgetters were hard at work.” Drawing the audience into a reflective trance Thursday afternoon, Mark Strand, the Andrew MacLeish distinguished service professor in the Committee on Social Thought, gave the Divinity School’s 2004 John Nuveen Lecture.

Creating a mood sometimes grave, sometimes humorous, he led his listeners into a realm of lyrical imagery, addressing themes of transience, apathy, consciousness, desire, and death. “I am not thinking of death but death is thinking of me,” he recited from his unpublished work 2002, due out in 2006. Besides new poetry, Strand, the 1990–91 U.S. poet laureate, also analyzed passages from his Pulitzer Prize–winning Blizzard of One (Knopf, 1999) and The Continuous Life (Knopf, 1990).

A painter turned poet, Strand often crafts his verses as pictures, he said. “The idea of shaping something poetically is like painting; my intent is to first establish order.” He initially drew inspiration from artists and writers he encountered as a young man. “This has been a very rich century for American poetry,” he said, citing Donald Justice, Wallace Stevens (whose namesake award Strand won last month), Elizabeth Bishop, and Robert Lowell. “Having read these poems early on in my teenage years,” he recalled, “initiated me into the realm of imagination where I could get away from the world around me.”

By Bianca Sepulveda, AB’04

Cleaning the stacks


On the Regenstein Library’s first floor, about 20 browsers juggle winter jackets as they leaf through dusty books. Choreographing his steps through the unforgiving, narrow aisles, one man struggles to pass a younger guy, who is engaged in an old edition of a medical text, Sudden Coronary Death. The next aisle over a girl smirks as she lifts Men of Ancient Iowa from a shelf marked “history.” Meanwhile, in a roomier corner, an older woman huddles over The Meaning of Meaning.

This is no ordinary day in the stacks. On Monday the Reg kicked off its biannual, weeklong book sale. More than 10,000 old and duplicate books create an impressive labyrinth, tucked away in Room 120.

The Monday shoppers take no chances. These early birds get first pick at the widest variety of books. And variety there is; subjects range from computer science to Judaica. As the sale’s inventory diminishes over the week, so will prices. A hardback that goes for $20 on Monday will command only $5 dollars on Wednesday. If it hasn’t been sold by Saturday, the sale’s last day, the book is free.

Proceeds benefit the library.

By Meredith Meyer, ’07

Hittite parade

“Everybody knows about Egypt. Everybody knows about Mesopotamia,” grumbled Theo van den Hout, professor of Hittite and Anatolian languages. “But we always have to explain what Anatolia is.” The occasion of van den Hout’s lament, Thursday night’s Oriental Institute broadcast of The Hittites: The Empire that Changed the World, was also an occasion for hope: “With this movie, I don’t think we ever have to explain it again.”

After a brief introduction by director and Turkish filmmaker Tolga Ornek and a warning—“You’re going to get two hours of Hittites with no breaks”—the capacity audience learned that Anatolia (which encompassed modern-day Turkey) witnessed the rise and fall of the Hittites, who reigned from 1650 to 1180 B.C. During its zenith the Hittite empire rivaled the glory of neighboring Egypt, but now it’s “an obscure footnote on the pages of history.” As a remedy, the film reanimates the Hittites’ past, exploring their rituals, economy, laws, cities, and extensive pantheon of gods, both their own and those of conquered populations. Indeed, the documentary explains, one of the Hittites’ greatest accomplishments was to absorb and perpetuate the cultures of their Near Eastern neighbors. Even after their ultimate decline, the Hittites’ legacy included religious, military, and diplomatic innovations preserved throughout the region and the world.

The film, too, had an impact. As the lights came up one audience member mused to another, “That made me want to go study more history.”


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Photos: scenes from The Hittites: The Empire that Changed the World.

Group hangs antiviolence message


“Don’t lament, get consent,” directs a laminated, orange-construction-paper sign, pinned to a clothesline. “Only yes means yes,” reads a red sheet. The two clotheslines, strung on the main quads by Resources for Sexual Violence Prevention to mark Sexual Assault Awareness Week, each hold more than a dozen such messages. The outdoor signs draw attention to more displays that will hang in the Reynolds Club later this week, as Chicago participates in the national Clothesline Project, in which sexually abused women hang T-shirts with antiviolence messages.

Related events this week include a Center for Gender Studies discussion titled Kobe and Beyond: A Look at Sexual Assault, Race, and the Media; two Ratner self-defense classes; a talk called The Political Process and Efforts to Address Violence Against Women; and a Friday creative forum for assault survivors to create their own clothesline T-shirts.

By A.M.B.

Burning discussion


Sometimes war movies have the unfortunate trait of applying to present-day situations, as students, faculty, and other adults pointed out Tuesday night at Doc Films after watching the Italian film Burn! (Queimada), directed by Gillo Pontecorvo.

Screened as part of the Human Rights Program’s ten-part “Occupation, Colonialism, Human Rights” series, Burn! is a 1970 sequel of sorts to The Battle of Algiers (1966), but unlike the latter film’s historical, docudrama setting, Burn! tells the story of a fictional, 19th-century, Portuguese-occupied island. It chronicles ambivalent, drunken Sir William Walker (Marlon Brando), a British agent sent to Queimada to start a native rebellion against the Portuguese sugar monopoly. Ten years later he is forced to return to the island and kill the leader, José Dalores, he had mentored. The movie’s themes were provocative enough to Spaniards that, in order to prevent the film from being censored, Pontecorvo changed the island’s occupier to Portugal from Spain and dubbed Spanish-speaking natives accordingly.

The hour-long discussion afterward, led by associate history professor Dain Borges, revolved largely around the film’s historical basis. Borges argued that the movie’s plot most resembles the Cuban and Haitian revolutions of the mid-19th century, but that it also makes deliberate commentary on the Vietnamese and African decolonization movements happening around the film’s release. Students added comparisons to present-day Iraq, noting in particular the guerilla tactics.

When one student pressed Borges on why the audience needed to ground the film historically, he admitted that the movie might be best characterized as a more universal “opera of human emotions” with its powerful, if obtrusive, music and focus on facial expressions. He criticized the film’s concession to story-telling conventions, such as the natives’ dependency on a foreign white man to start a movement. “The same way it irks me that people say Indians couldn’t build the pyramids without Chinese or Egyptian influence,” Borges said, “it irks me that these slaves couldn’t start a revolution without an Englishman parachuting in.”

By S.I.A.

Keeps rainin' all the time

About 50 guests left behind gray skies and misty air for a lighter take on stormy weather inside Fulton Recital Hall Thursday. Three petite, white-haired women rode the Goodspeed elevator to the fourth-floor auditorium, humming old showtunes. The trio joined other early birds in the lobby, dishing on a recent AARP Magazine article. But once the doors opened, they abandoned talk of cancer, blood pressure, and strokes for an afternoon escape.

At the Music Department’s free noontime concert, “Stormy Weather: Songs from 1933,” the mood was more mirth than melancholy. On a stage set with greenery and a bowl of floating candles, soprano Jess Cullinan and pianist Richard Plotkin bowed and then launched into the Ted Koehler (lyrics) and Harold Arlen (music) classic. A project assistant and computer tech in music, Cullinan may not have known “why there’s no sun in the sky,” but she did explain her selections: “I chose the year 1933 for Billie Holiday”—the year of the crooner’s first recording—“and for the music,” all Top 40 hits from movies or Broadway. With that explanation out of the way, Cullinan and music graduate student Plotkin carried on, working through 13 more numbers, including “The Song is You” and “Love is the Sweetest Thing.”

Finished 45 minutes later, the duo bowed again and exited stage left. Back in the lobby the crowd lingered, avoiding what awaited them outside, weather- or otherwise.

By M.L.

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Photos: 20th Century Fox 1943.

Genocide: not a word to take lightly


With PowerPoint presentations, statistics, and photos, panelists from around the globe lectured on what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis—the unfolding genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region. Packed beyond capacity with students, faculty, and community members, the panel discussion took place Thursday evening at Ida Noyes Library.

Government forces and Janjaweed militia have already killed at least 50,000 non-Arab Darfurians and driven more than 1 million villagers from the country. During Sudan’s 21-year civil war, said Suliman Giddo, director of the Darfur Peace and Development Fund, the Khartoum government has tried to crush Darfurian rebels while the nomadic Janjaweed militia has worked to expel the non-Arab population from the land. As a consequence, Giddo noted, “There is no infrastructure for opposition in Sudan.”

The crisis originally stemmed from political tensions associated with the “Islamization” of the community or “the civilization project.” “The [Islamic] government wanted to force the [Darfurian] community to change its fundamental structure,” he explained.

Monitoring the humanitarian effort’s status, John Heffernan, an investigator with Physicians for Human Rights, showed images from his two-week visit to refugee camps along the Sudan-Chad border, where 200,000 refugees remain in exile. “Darfur is the size of Texas and is virtually inaccessible by outsiders,” Heffernan explained. “These people have no access to water, medicine, or adequate shelter. Unless there is outside assistance to people, they will have a difficult time surviving.”

The final panelist, Ami Henson, an officer on the Sudan Task Force at USAID, discussed the inherent tension between performing humanitarian aid and assisting human-rights investigations. “Humanitarian workers do not want to get [thrown out] of the country and lose their access to the population,” she said,” so we don’t ask certain questions that human-rights workers would.”

Above all, the panelists agreed, an accord between the government in the north and the Darfurians in the south must forge a fundamental change in ruling structure and involve more substantial action by other nations. “There has been no intervention because this is a sovereign country even though it has been recognized that there is a genocide going on,” Heffernan argued. “How much does a country have to do before it must forfeit sovereignty?”

Sponsored by the Giving Tree, the Human Rights Program, Amnesty International’s U of C chapter, the Center for International Studies, and U of C UNICEF, the discussion headlined this year’s Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

By Bianca Sepulveda, AB’04

Photo: divinity School doctoral candidate Noah Salomon, AM'01, moderates Thursday's "Crisis in Sudan" panel discussion.

Photo by Bianca Sepulveda, AB’04.

Food for debate


Last night in a very crowded Mandel Hall, a panel of academic-gowned U of C professors solemnly weighed the pros and cons of two popular Jewish holiday foods. The ritual debate, presented by Hillel and sponsored by the Neubauer Family Foundation of Philadelphia, opened with a brief set by the University of Chicago Klezmer Band. Then Hillel’s Rabbi David M. Rosenberg welcomed all to the 58th annual debate, offering newcomers a helpful translation: the Yiddish word for “hamentashen” is “hamentashen.”

Following Rosenberg was longtime moderator and philosophy professor Ted Cohen, AB’62, who, for numerous and numerological reasons, announced, “Welcome to the 60th Latke-Hamentash Debate.” Cohen introduced the first panelist, Modern Hebrew Literature professor Menachem Brinker, who suggested using the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a model for solving the far more controversial battle over the respective merits of the Chanukah potato pancake and the traditional Purim cookie.

Eschewing the political for the material, physics professor Robert Geroch showed a slide of what he claimed was the first page of Albert Einstein’s “On the fundamental significance of the speed of latke,” which, as with the first page of any scientific paper, came complete with abstract and introduction. He then demonstrated, using a giant pendulum made of a suspended bowling ball, how the hamentash defies the laws of physics.

Latkes and hamentashen were also used as symbols of the traditional rift between German and Eastern European Jews in America—SSA associate professor Harold Pollack asserted that the former prefer hamentashen and the latter latkes, laying out his points in the form of a thorough parody of Philip Roth’s [AM’55] Goodbye, Columbus. And finally, music professor Philip Gossett revealed that Italian operas were all written by a tailor named Moishe with a penchant for pseudonyms.

After the debate, audience members cast ballots in favor of latkes or hamentashen and proceeded to Hutchinson Commons to make a less intellectual and more direct comparison.

By Phoebe Maltz, ’05

Photo: debate moderator Ted Cohen, AB'62, feigns ballot box stuffing in favor of his choice, the latke (bottom).

Two for the Rhodes

Two College alumni have joined the ranks of Bill Clinton, Naomi Wolf, and Wesley Clark. Announced November 20, Rhodes Scholarship winners Ian Desai, AB’04, and Andrew Kim, AB’04, along with 30 other Americans, will receive tuition and a living stipend for two years of study at Oxford University. Desai, an ancient-studies major, plans to explore the links between South Asia and Greece, both modern and ancient. Kim, a political-science major, will use his scholarship to study refugee issues and human rights. Desai and Kim bring Chicago’s Rhodes total to 39.

Beyond the University of Chicago Chronicle, Desai and Kim have made headlines in the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times, and an Associated Press article ran in many papers, including the New York Times.

By A.L.M.

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Photos: Andrew Kim, AB'04 (left); Ian Desai, AB'04 (right).

Frolicking farce


In his revival of The Importance of Being Earnest, at Court Theatre through December 26, director Charles Newell punctuates Oscar Wilde’s verbal acrobatics with aerobic choreography. Actors pose, prance, and leap about the sets—a miniature London cityscape that doubles as Algernon “Algy” Moncrieff’s morning-room, a manor house garden with Astroturf hedges, and the same house’s library, hedges transformed with purple velour and gold braiding into bookcases and hassocks. If that’s not enough, an onstage pianist tickles the ivories on a white baby grand at the rear of the stage, underscoring key phrases to comic effect.

Subtitled “A Trivial Comedy for Serious People,” the play about love among English society’s leisure class delivers more than its share of one-liners, from Algy’s assessment of his own piano playing—“I don’t play accurately—any one can play accurately—but I play with wonderful expression”—to Jack (née Earnest) Worthing’s rueful realization that “it is a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth.” Although the theatergoers have heard many of Wilde’s bon mots before, the actors garner fresh laughs.

At times it seems as if Court’s cavorting cast will take a tumble over the gymnastic set, but Earnest concludes as Fiction (at least according to the play’s requisite governess) is meant to: the good end happily.

By M.R.Y.

Photos: Lance Stuart Baker as Algernon Moncrieff and Sean Allan Krill as Jack Worthing (top); Lance Stuart Baker as Algernon Moncrieff and Cristen Paige as Cecily Cardew (bottom).

Photos by Michael Brosilow.

U of Cers predict financial future


The first of the suits to arrive, Joel Stern, MBA’64, joked with reporters gathered at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Wednesday for the Graduate School of Business’s 43rd annual financial forecast. “I’ll try to be controversial, try to make it valuable,” laughed Stern, managing partner and chief executive officer of Stern Stewart & Company.

But neither he nor economics professor Randall Kroszner’s predictions for the upcoming year would rock the business world that morning, or at an afternoon luncheon with some 900 alumni and executives. With guesstimates including that the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) would grow about 3.8 or 3.9 percent and consumer spending 2.9 or 3.1 percent, they painted a rosy picture.

“The economic statistics are very strong,” said Kroszner, who served on President Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers from 2001 to 2003. Dismissing negative media reports, he argued, “I think we should show the economy a little bit of respect.”

Stern agreed. Criticizing the Kerry-Edwards campaign’s claim of a sluggish economy, he noted that as of September 30 the 2004 GDP had increased about 4.5 percent. “It turns out we were very lucky this year,” despite such obstacles as soaring oil costs, which he sees dropping in 2005.

Tempering Kroszner and Stern’s good news, Marvin Zonis, professor emeritus of business administration, offered a political perspective on the financial climate. “U.S. economic competitiveness has been declining,” Zonis noted. With the country off track in Iraq and facing conflicts over nuclear proliferation in Iran and elsewhere, he argued, an even lower dollar value and slower growth seem likely.

By M.L.

Photo (top): Kroszner, Stern, Zonis (from left).

Photos by Dan Dry.

Defending NAFTA


In the middle of a packed Mandel Hall a College third-year held up a sign that read “Salinas+NAFTA=Criminal.” Several rows ahead of him, about 20 Mexican American graduate students watched the stage. All eyes were fixed on the compact, neatly dressed man at the podium—former Mexican president Carlos Salinas de Gortari.

Salinas, a driving force behind the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), offered an unflinching defense of the 1994 law. His Friday visit was his first to the University since 1991, when he came to promote the pending agreement, and the first in a lecture series on NAFTA sponsored by the Katz Center for Mexican Studies.

Salinas commended the Katz Center and the city of Chicago’s Mexican community, the second largest in the United States. Betraying a fierce nationalism, he lamented that Mexico has continued in the past decade to suffer high numbers of emigrations at the U.S. border (According to the U.S. embassy in Mexico, the estimated unauthorized resident population from Mexico increased from about 2 million in 1990 to 4.8 million in January 2000.) “It is a fatality of geography and a destiny of history that we happened to be neighbors.”

Still, he rejected assertions that NAFTA was responsible for the emigrations, attributing them instead to the three-year-old U.S. recession, which has resulted in a stagnant Mexican economy.

By Meredith Meyer, ’07

Broadcasting trust


Poised to reinvent themselves, public-television leaders gathered last Thursday and Friday at a conference organized by the University’s Cultural Policy Center and held at the Museum of Contemporary Art. “The new world of media waits for no one,” Carroll Joynes, the center’s executive director, said in his opening remarks to a 200-member audience. Pat Mitchell, president of PBS, concurred: “Technology is rewriting and reinventing the way we do everything.” Public television, she said, must ensure its place in the new-media landscape.

That place should be a “true alternative,” Ken Auletta, media critic for the New Yorker magazine, emphasized in his presentation, challenging PBS to keep in mind its biggest asset: trust. Many panelists raised concerns about political bias, the representation of minority voices, and growing commercialization.

In nearly all of the conference discussions, money emerged as a central problem. Public broadcasting, multiple speakers noted, is grossly underfunded. As one remedy, Mitchell announced the Enhanced Funding Initiative, an expert panel formed to find new ways to put PBS on secure financial footing.

The most promising way to achieve that goal, suggested Jerold M. Starr, executive director of Citizens for Independent Public Broadcasting, is to form a coalition with universities, public-interest groups, and art institutions. Joining up with a museum, it seems, may be the way to keep public television out of one.

By Sibylle Salewski

Photos: Pat Mitchell, PBS president (top); the conference was held at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art (bottom).

Photos by Lloyd DeGrane.

Much-kneaded break


It’s close to 1 a.m. on Sunday night; the recorded sounds of indie-rock music pulsate from a pair of large speakers. A line of students snakes through the building, spilling outside onto the rain-soaked sidewalk. They are all waiting to be served.

A scene from one of Chicago’s newest clubs? Not even close. These patrons are clutching book bags, not beers. At the University of Chicago this time of year, both sleeping and hanging out are pretty much unheard of. Tonight, or rather this morning, is different. Though finals will begin in only a few hours, hundreds of students have jammed into the Reynolds Club for the annual Midnight Breakfast, an event sponsored by the Office of the Reynolds Club and Student Activities (ORCSA) featuring pancakes, eggs, and sausage—and a much-needed break from studying.

This year, with grant money from the U.S. Department of Education’s drug-free schools program, the Student Care Center also offers free chair massages, given by two members of Chicago Massage Professionals. About 30 students take advantage of the seven-minute treatments, a part of the event used as a model for other colleges across the country.

As things start to wind down and the conversation switches from holiday presents back to Plato, the students seem eager to head back to the books.

By Dan Dry

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Photos: (clockwise from top-right) Martyna Dubensky of Chicago Massage Professionals gives 4th-year Matt Graham a chair massage around 11:30 pm; Christin Davis, a first-year MAPSS graduate student, works away on a take-home exam near midnight, apparently oblivious to the mass of students lined up for the Midnight Breakfast; the line stretches out the Reynolds Club door into the rain on 57th Street; while some students chow down, hundreds wait to be served; students and food-service employees serve the free Midnight Breakfast.

Photos by Dan Dry.

Apostolic art


Suspended between wooden pews and soaring stained glass, 13 abstract portraits of the apostles flank Rockefeller Chapel's stone walls. Painted in reds, blues, yellows, and grays by Swedish artist Michel Östlund, each 4-by-6-foot figure reinterprets an apostle and explores characteristics including longing, love, betrayal, doubt, and wisdom. Part of a world tour, Apostles will be shown through March 30. On February 25 Rockefeller will celebrate the exhibit with a musical program, “In the Glorious Company of the Apostles.”

By A.L.M.

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Photo (upper-right): Artist Michel Ostland at the show's opening. (photo by Dan Dry).

Bottom row photos by Amber Lee Mason.

If you direct it, they will come


Academy Award–winning director Mike Nichols, X’53, returned to the Windy City last week to begin technical rehearsals for a medieval musical comedy.

Best known for the The Graduate, Nichols has new projects on both the big screen and the big stage—one heavy, the other light. His film Closer, a look at adultery based on Patrick Marbers’s play, has earned five Golden Globe nominations, including best director and best motion picture–drama. Back in Chicago, the musical Monty Python’s Spamalot, which begins pre-Broadway previews December 21 at the Shubert, has his attention.

Nichols got his start in local theater. In a December 10 Chicago Sun-Times article he recalled attending a production of The Matchmaker while at the University. “I saw that show three times, and by the third time—about 20 minutes into the first act—I thought: Now I know what style is. It’s starting something in such a manner that what needs to happen later in the show can come straight out of that beginning. And you can’t fake it; it must all really unfold in front of the audience.”

The Nichols style—an ironic sensibility, as one film writer put it—has won a loyal following. Commanding such big-name actors as Jude Law and Julia Roberts (Closer), David Hyde Pierce and Hank Azaria (Spamalot) doesn’t hurt with the audience either.

By M.L.

Photo: Broadway in Chicago.

Red, white, and blah

The Renaissance Society’s latest exhibition, A Perfect Union…More or Less, portrays a decidedly disillusioned view of current government affairs. Mary Ellen Carroll’s 24-photo series (Federal, 2004) depicts a day in the life of Los Angeles’s bland federal building. Dominic McGill’s black-and-white mural (Project for a New American Century, 2004) locates war-on-terror imagery and language in a haunted forest. In one of Joeff Davis’s photographs a woman with a blank stare carries a “people of compassion” sign at the 2004 Republican National Convention. Rob Conger’s woven yarn-on-canvas mesh Greenspan Praying (2001) shows the Federal Reserve chairman in a meditative pose, hands pressed together. As a whole the exhibit reflects a confused American political identity, particularly in light of the November election, on display through December 19.

By A.M.B.

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Photos (from left to right): Joeff Davis, "People of Compassion," floor of the Republican National Convention, New York, New York, 2004; Mary Ellen Carroll, "Federal," 2004, 24 C-prints, ed. 5; Van McElwee, "Flag and its Shadow," 2003, DVD projection with sound; Dominic McGill, "Project for a New American Century," 2004, graphite on paper.

Marty Center aims to provoke e-comment


Perhaps timing is everything—on the Martin Marty Center’s Religion and Culture Web Forum, anyway. So far Bruce Lincoln’s essay “The Theology of George W. Bush,” posted a month before the election, has received the most online response. The 29 related comments—by far eclipsing the typical two, three, or four in other months—include an exchange between Lincoln, the Caroline E. Haskell professor in the Divinity School; Hugh Urban, AM’92, PhD’98, who teaches at Ohio State; and other readers. This month Divinity School professor and Martin Marty Center director Wendy Doniger writes on “The Mythology of Self-Imitation in Passing: Race, Gender, and Politics”. That essay has elicited two responses.

By A.M.B.

Photo: Bruce Lincoln.

If you need us, we'll be by the fire


With 8 degrees on the thermometer and the holidays approaching, UChiBLOGo is taking a break until January 3. In the meantime, here are some fun indoor activities. If, like in Chicago, it’s too cold in your town to go outside and make a snowman, stay inside and prepare a mummy for burial. The Oriental Institute shows you how. Or try to play “Jingle Bells” on the OI’s Artifact Timeline buttons. If art, rather than artifacts, suits you, play around on the Smart Museum’s kids page.

Happy holidays from UChiBLOGo.

By A.M.B.

Happy birthday to us


The Magazine began this blog almost a year ago, one week into Winter Quarter 2004, with a dispatch from former intern Phoebe Maltz, ’05, who was studying abroad in Paris. In 2005 UChiBLOGo has come full circle. Maltz rejoins the staff as an intern in her last College year. And Northern Exposure, the thrice-weekly photograph of Hull and Cobb gates, now has a year’s worth of entries, which can be seen individually or in a new yearlong slideshow.

The slideshow marks Northern Exposure’s conclusion. This quarter the blog has a different feature in its upper-left corner: Postcards from the Quads, a staff-chosen daily image. It won’t have the same-time, same-place quality of Northern Exposure but instead will take viewers around campus, depending on where the interesting scenes are. Today’s photo, courtesy Alumni News Editor Amber Lee Mason, AB’03, shows the rain dripping off a leafless tree in Harper Quad’s southeast corner.

Coming spring quarter: UChiBLOGo gets a Web cam.


Cast away


Would-be actors streamed into Cobb Hall last night for University Theater’s winter-quarter auditions. Looking nervous, they stood in the hallway waiting to be called, reading scripts aloud either alone or with partners. Current UT members sat at tables marked with different play titles, trying to lure students into their audition rooms. Among others, directors sought casts for The Crucible, which will show 10th week; Poe, showing 8th; and Muffet’s Leap, 8th and 9th week, produced by the University’s new student-run production company, Naked Theater, based in Burton-Judson’s basement. Also being cast were the Winter Workshops, plays with shorter rehearsal times and no tech staffs.

UT audition liaison Pete Sloane, ’06, was impressed with the turnout. “The directors are happy with the amount of people showing up,” he said. The auditions, open to the public, attract mainly undergraduates. Grad students, said UT assistant production manager Sarah Nerboso, ’05, tend to be wary of the plays’ time commitments, but they “are very welcome.” Women candidates generally outnumber men, said Sloane, though female and male parts are roughly equal in number, leaving more disappointed Juliets than Romeos.

Interested in seeing your name, well, not quite in lights, but on a UT program? You haven’t missed your chance. Auditions will be held again tonight in Cobb, 7–10 p.m.

By Phoebe Maltz, ’05

Poetry is cool at school


Poetry draws a young crowd these days—at least when longtime Lab Schools teacher John O’Connor, AB’86, MAT’87, has the stage. About 50 fans, many former students, packed 57th Street Books last night to hear him discuss his new book, Wordplaygrounds: Reading, Writing, and Performing Poetry in the English Classroom.

“I found school profoundly dull and artificial,” he began. “The sort of mission I feel I’m on is to make school as exciting as the rest of the world.”

Now at New Trier Township High School, O’Connor won praise at Lab for his inventive teaching style, particularly when it came to poetry, an oft-dreaded subject. He demystified verse by having students write about their own life experiences—and making it fun.

“I didn’t feel pressure for it to be really profound or good or anything,” recalled 16-year-old Alice Grossman, who took O’Connor’s class as a freshman and in summer school.

Like a proud parent, he believes his protégés are good, featuring their work in his book and calling on some to read. The poems accompany instructional tools, including more than 25 activities.

Rather than end with a lesson, O’Connor, looking more student than teacher in cargo pants and hiking boots, played his guitar. “Don’t you want to come back to Hyde Park?” one parent called out.

“Yes,” he said, “let’s do this every January 6.”

By M.L.

MLK events span disciplines


A keynote address by Kweisi Mfume, the recently retired NAACP president, tops a list of weeklong, campuswide Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration highlights, the University’s most ambitious celebration of the civil-rights icon to date. Mfume will speak on “living the legacy,” the week’s theme, next Monday, January 17, at noon in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.

The activities, said President Don Randel and Provost Richard Saller in a December 30 e-mail, are meant to “examine and celebrate Dr. King’s message from a number of disciplines and perspectives.” The academic events include tonight’s screening of Brother Outsider: The Life of Baynard Rustin and a subsequent discussion led by associate professor Jacqueline Stewart, AM’93, PhD’99. On Tuesday longtime Hyde Park resident Roderick Pugh, PhD’49, discusses what the neighborhood was like during the Civil Rights movement. Friday explores multicultural arts with “Roots and Rhymes: Spoken Word/Open Mic” at Uncle Joe’s Coffee Shop. Saturday’s focus is community service, Sunday features Gospel Fest, and on Monday—in addition to Mfume’s talk—the SSA presents a celebration featuring Camille Quinn, AM’98.

By A.M.B.

Photo: Kweisi Mfume.

Talking and eating in the library


On a typical Tuesday evening Broadview Hall’s library contains some students hunched over laptops, a few seated around a table working on a problem set. But last night at 8 o’clock it was jam-packed with residents, there to meet with the University’s president, who just happened to be stopping by. “An Evening of Conversation about Music and Other Topics with President Don Randel” was presented by the Broadview RH and RA staff, house staff, kitchen managers, and program coordinators. Though music was the promised discussion topic, Randel assured, “I’m happy to talk about anything. Well, more or less anything.” Over coffee, tea, cookies, and fruit, he and dorm residents discussed matters from the history of musicology to Chicago’s “Uncommon Application.”

Answering students’ questions, he explained why both music and the University of Chicago play vital roles in the world. “Music has never been seen to be essential to the national defense,” said Randel, lamenting the lack of government arts, education, and research funding. Recent budget cuts in those areas, he said, would “undermine our future.” And his favorite art has such practical applications: the one necessary question to determine roommate compatibility, he said, is, “What kind of music do you like?” He added, “From that [information] you invent an entire personality.”

Randel believes Chicago’s personality is different from other elite universities. When peer-institution alumni discuss what they got out of college, he noted, they mention close friendships and spouses. Chicago alumni, on the other hand, often say the University “taught me how to think.” (They do not say, he pointed out, that they were taught “what to think.”) “We are not interested in trying to look like every other institution in America,” he said. “For the right person, [Chicago] is the only place.”

By Phoebe Maltz, ’05

Classroom wizardry


Despite the presence of two dozen grad students gathered for the Divinity School’s Thursday afternoon Pedagogy and Professionalization Workshop, Swift 106, with its paneled walls and mullioned windows, looked like a classroom where the young Harry Potter would feel at home. The day’s guest—Jonathan Z. Smith, the Robert O. Anderson distinguished service professor in the Humanities in the College—even had the flowing hair and beard of Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore.

Indeed Smith, who coordinates the Religion and Humanities program, approached his topic, “Approaching the Undergraduate Classroom,” with Dumbledore’s wry sagacity. And, like Dumbledore, he told the truth: even after decades of teaching, he still visits the classroom the day before a course begins (“I know what I didn’t know at the beginning, to check to make sure there’s chalk”). And he still spends a sleepless pre-class night rewriting the first day’s lesson plan and perusing the reading one more time. The process “does not get any easier, and it shouldn’t. It’s an awesome responsibility.”

To meet that responsibility, Smith suggested practical strategies: Keep a journal for each course, recording successes, surprises, readings that might work. Keep office hours religiously (and be predictably available at other times in a place where students can join you, “but never be distressed if no one comes”). Remember “the very first rule of teaching: assume nothing; make everything explicit,” because although professors design courses “answering our questions,” students “are listening for answers to their questions.”

For Smith, the challenge of the undergraduate classroom is also its magic: “I want to be with people who shout, ‘Eureka!’ all the time.”

By M.R.Y.

Something to crow about

Featuring dances, skits, fight scenes, and a rainbow of costumes and characters, the Chinese Undergraduate Student Association’s (CUSA) Saturday night New Year extravaganza, Big Swords, Big Guns, followed dual narratives of ancient sword masters bent on revenge and turn-of-the-century Shanghai gangs chafing at colonial British dominance. The occasionally slapstick action was interspersed with choreographed musical numbers, ranging from the traditional handkerchief dance to Plum Blossoms (Remix), a modern take on 1920s dance-hall culture.

A crowd of about 700 students, sponsors, and family members offered up hearty applause, hoots, whistles, and a few roaring laughs for the Mandel Hall spectacle, celebrating the Year of the Rooster, and received in return the good-luck blessing of a well-performed lion dance.

By A.L.M.

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An argument against nationalism


Distinguished and erudite, British journalist and historian Anatol Lieven unabashedly proffered, “America may be spreading progress in other countries, but not democracy.” Continuing the Center for International Studies’ World Beyond the Headlines lecture series Tuesday night at International House, Lieven, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and former correspondent for the London Times and the Financial Times, discussed his newest book, America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism (Oxford University Press, 2004).

According to Lieven, America’s patriotic character embodies two contradictory elements: thesis—a civic nationalism espousing liberty, democracy, and the rule of law, which he calls the American creed—and antithesis, a Jacksonian nationalism rooted “in the aggrieved, embittered, and defensive White America, centered in the American South.” One reason he wrote the book, he said, “was to remind Americans of the great many critiques of America’s culture and past. Dividing American nationalism between a thesis and antithesis would qualify some belief in American exceptionalism.”

While the American creed is ultimately optimistic and universalist, Lieven continued, “the danger of the American antithesis displays the liberal imperialist sense that nothing but total victory will do, leading to unrealistic and frustrated goals.” He concluded, “America keeps a fine house, but in its cellar there lives a demon, whose name is nationalism.”

By Bianca Sepulveda, AB’04

Photo: Anatol Lieven.

Classical piano meets art rock


Christopher O’Riley opened his sold-out show at Mandel Hall with the first song from Radiohead’s album Pablo Honey , because, he said, it is “the only pop song [he knows] in 28:3 time signature.” A classically trained pianist and host of a classical-music radio show, O’Riley’s concert did not feature the Mozart or Shostakovich pieces for which he is well-known. Instead it showcased Radiohead songs O’Riley had personally transcribed (and recorded).

Neither definitively rock nor classical, the concert drew from both genres. Dressed in all black at a grand Steinway, between songs the self-effacing host maintained a casual conversation with the Radiohead fans in the crowd about his obsession with the band. He also held a continuous dialogue with the sheet music: the audience watched his face as he mouthed lyrics and, as each song ended, closed his eyes and threw himself back.

The show was the seventh annual Regents Park Discovery Concert put on by Chicago Presents. O’Riley returns to Mandel Hall tonight to play with the Miró Quartet.

By Meredith Meyer ’06

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Road movie with a twist


The Adventures of Felix (Drôle de Félix, 2000), the second film by Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau—on campus last week for a two-day Center for Gender Studies film conference—employs the familiar road-trip genre, following a young man on a quest for a father he has never met. Felix is a young Frenchman of Arab descent, gay, and HIV positive. During his journey across France he encounters characters including a racist thug and an elderly woman who not only takes him in but who also shares his love of a morning soap opera and his need for a large pill organizer. Though Felix never finds his father, he learns some lessons about paternity from a little boy, who matter-of-factly explains that his own biological father, those of his half-siblings, and even his mother’s current boyfriend are all “dad.”

After the screening, held last Saturday in Cobb Hall’s Film Studies Center, the filmmakers discussed the movie with the audience.image: uchiblogo “The film wasn’t marketed as a gay film in France,” Ducastel said, but rather as mainstream fare. Martineau added that not everyone who saw Felix in France even understood that its main character—who is seen taking medications but whose condition is never stated explicitly—is HIV positive. Another challenge, Martineau noted, had nothing to do with identity issues: France is “a small country,” so to “make France look wide” and remain consistent with the typically American road-trip flick, the filmmakers had Felix hitchhike rather than drive or take the train.

By Phoebe Maltz, ’05

Broomball bombast

Ask anyone to describe modern intramural broomball and you will probably hear some combination of the words “overpaid,” “selfish,” and “immature.” The intellectual variant of ice hockey, broomball has lost its former status as the bourgeois winter sport of choice, thanks to large contracts and enormous product endorsement deals.

Broomball owes its origin to a midcentury obsession with ice sports. After hockey and skating took center stage with the Winter Olympiad, intellectuals—mainly youth at America’s top undergraduate institutions—desired an ice sport of their own, but one unencumbered by the technical and physical demands of skating. These students found their place in broomball. Unable to secure funding for equipment from athletic departments—at the time promoting only “real” sports—these students employed brooms to propel a small ball toward an opposing goal. As the sport ascended from leisure activity to organized athletic event, technologically enhanced broomball sticks came to replace the actual brooms (although historical broomball societies continue to host occasional “olde tyme” matches with brooms).

Amateur play is only the tip of the iceberg: the 15-year-old National American Continental Broomball League (NACBL) now has 20 teams in 16 metro areas (New York has four teams). Since its inception the league has seen the average player salary rise from $32,000 to $10.5 million per year, aided by a veritable explosion in attendance and viewership. Experts attribute the slow death of the National Hockey League (NHL) to broomball’s growth.

Despite the market gains, the NACBL has been rocked in recent years by steroid scandals and increasing violence on and off the ice. Fans feel disillusioned with a sport that once encapsulated sportsmanship and friendly competition. This year some 12 Chicago students are offering their own counter-narrative to this dark tale. Calling themselves the Frozen Tsunamis, this ragtag group of undergrads—one of 24 University IM broomball teams—is attempting to take back the sport’s ethical and intellectual genesis.

“Most teams are sponsored and supplied by ‘houses,’ giant multiquad entities that require their players to eat, sleep, and study together,” says Tsunami captain Sam Gill. “Most of these kids don’t even know anyone outside of their houses, which are spookily named after the corporate barons who funded the dormitories in which these broomball automatons live.”

Gill’s goal is to unite students outside the house system. Most call him idealistic, but he believes that his team’s independence might be its biggest advantage. “How did broomball start? A bunch of philosophy students with big glasses and academic scholarships decided they had the same right to ice sports as any huge, juiced-up athlete.”

Their task may seem impossible, but that’s why they call themselves the Frozen Tsunamis. They believe they can stop a tidal wave and, journalistic integrity be damned, this reporter thinks they can do it.

The Tsunamis now stand 1–1, ending Woodward House’s four-year undefeated streak Tuesday night. Their next game, against Wallace House on February 1, will determine if they make the playoffs.

By Sam Gill, ’05

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Photos: Frozen Tsunami captain Sam Gill gives a half-time pep talk (top right); Tsunami Rebecca Searl, '05, adjusts her helmet (bottom left); Woodward team members watch the game (bottom right).

Parchment mystery


On Saturday the Oriental Institute reopens its east wing, which closed in 1996 for renovations. The new gallery, Empires of the Fertile Crescent: Ancient Assyria, Anatolia, and Israel, explores ancient civilizations including the Assyrians, the Hittites, the Neo-Hittites, the Canaanites, and the early Israelites. Though most of the displayed artifacts were excavated by OI archaeologists in the 1920s and ’30s, one item was purchased by the OI in Jordan in 1956: a fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which dates to 50 BC–50 AD. The parchment texts, wrapped in linen and stored in pottery jars, were hidden in the first century AD and recovered between 1947 and 1956. Many of the scrolls contain the earliest known Hebrew copies of Old Testament texts. The OI piece, translated by Norman Golb, the Ludwig Rosenberger professor of Jewish history and civilization, first praises the virtues of Torah study and humility, then decries contrary vices:

1. ..your soul .
2. ..your [hear]t, and in the teach[ing]
3. . you will [re]joice upon it and .
4. . [with] humble heart beseech Him .
5. . and haughtiness of eyes, uncircumcised heart .
6. . haughtiness of heart and anger, anger .

Recent excavations at Khirbet Qumran, where the scrolls were found, show that a controversial theory Golb has long advanced may be true. He has argued that the scrolls were not written exclusively, or even largely, by the poor Essene Jewish sect, as commonly thought, but by a variety of scribes. Ten years of digs turned up artifacts suggesting prosperous inhabitants, not the Essene, had in fact lived there.

By A.M.B.

Photos: the OI case containing the Dead Sea Scrolls fragment also contains a pottery jug similar to the ones in which the scrolls were found (bottom).

Photos by Dan Dry.

Kids' hospital opens amid fanfare

In a well-appointed tent accented by clowns and posters of young patients, the ceremonial ribbon cutting for the Comer Children’s Hospital (opening this month) featured an all-star program of local and national officials, University higher ups, big donors, and 8-year-old former cancer patient Jimmy Mohan.

Senator Barack Obama joined University President Don Randel, Illinois First Lady Patricia Blagojevich, and Congressman Bobby Rush, among others, in thanking Gary and Francie Comer, who donated $21 million toward the 155-bed, 242,000-sqare-foot building, designed to offer a warm, family-friendly atmosphere along with expanded research and treatment facilities. Gary Comer, who considers the South Side his hometown, also thanked those who would advance pediatric care. “Jimmy,” he said, “you’re what it’s all about.”

By A.L.M.

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Photos: Jimmy Mohan (left); Gary Comer (middle).

Mob scene


It was SRO in the Quadrangle Club dining room for the opening (and penultimate) night of Revels ’05, “A Mob Musical.” As with any professorial opus, there was a Latinate subtitle involved—in this case, “An Encomium to Clout and Clichés”—but this year’s incarnation of the annual faculty-produced revue was light on pomp, heavy on puns and sight gags as it took on two Chicago traditions: life in the mob and the life of the mind.

Those lifestyles meet when the son of Chicago mobster Rocco eschews the family business to enroll in the Committee on Social Thought. Turning lemons into lemonade Rocco decides to move into a new ’hood and open a riverboat casino on the Midway. First he needs to flood it—and he needs the University’s cooperation.

So Rocco and his boys make a little visit to President Randel—played with lifelike precision by President Randel himself. Rocco wastes no time in explaining to his good friend Don Michael what could go wrong if the University doesn’t do business with him, singing merrily and meaningfully: “I ask you to surmise ten years without a prize—not a single Nobel—what a dreadful tale to tell.”

Not even in economics?” Randel deadpans back.

But enough about the plot. It was only an excuse for witty lyrics set to music composed by GSB professor emeritus Bob Ashenhurst, philosophy professor Ted Cohen, AB’62, Sir Arthur Sullivan, Amadeus Wolfgang Mozart, and others. Among the biggest crowd pleasers was Hyde Parker and novelist Sara Paretsky, AM’69, MBA’77, PhD’77. As Detective Warshawski, testifying against Rocco in federal court, Paretsky did a diva turn in “The Queen of the Right’s Aria.” Too bad Rocco’s defense attorney was, as described in the program, “a brilliant Law School prof.”

By M.R.Y.

Photos: VP for University Relations Michael Behnke as Rocco and President Don Randel as himself (top); novelist Sara Paretsky as Detective Warshawski (bottom).

Mind over body

In the Renaissance Society’s current exhibition, The Here and Now, three sculptures by three artists address “the notion of presence—literally, metaphorically, and spiritually,” says the gallery’s educational director, Hamza Walker, AB’88, in the museum notes. Javier Tellez’s helium-balloon “base of the world,” Katrin Sigurdardottir’s high-plain mountain landscape, and Sanford Biggers’s Buddhist bowls each are “an invitation to critically reflect upon one’s relationship to the artwork as it in turn relates to its location.” Exhibited together, they create a more cohesive result, making “concrete the imagination’s bid for transcendence, giving form to the very metaphors that would then allow the imagination to go beyond the material and spatial forms of the gallery, and indeed the artworks themselves. In other words, presence of body is activated only to yield to presence of mind.”

The Here And Now runs through February 20.

By A.M.B.

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Photos (from left to right): Javier Tellez, Socle du Monde (Base of the World), 2005 helium filled vinyl balloon, 60" x 60" x 50"; Sanford Biggers, Hip Hop Ni Sasa Gu (In Fond Memory), 2005, tatami mats, pillows, inscribed Buddhist singing bowls; Katrin Sigurdardottir, High Plane 3, 2005, wood, foam, dimensions variable.

Let's talk about sex


U of Cers can go beyond the life of the mind, thanks to the second release of student-run sex magazine Vita Excolatur. Exploring the human body, the 25-page, glossy black-and-white publication features a photo essay on the University’s men’s Frisbee team, with full frontal nudity. Another section includes interviews with and pictures of Chicago’s sexiest male teaching assistants, as voted by readers: biology and math students Palak Desai and Semere Baraki.

The current issue is more provocative than the first, which came out in January, editor in chief Sida Xiong observed. The initial response to the magazine, she says, “was really positive overall, with criticism here and there.” Steve Klass, vice president and dean of students in the University, called Vita Excolatur “reasonably good” in a January 11 Maroon article, suggesting that writers should delve into health and other related topics. “I think that’s something we are going to touch on,” fourth-year Xiong said in a recent interview.

Vita Excolatur’s editors obtained Registered Student Organization status and backing from the Student Government Finance Committee. Readers can subscribe or find copies at the Reynolds Club or Cobb. The next issue is due in March.

By M.L.

Not yet the end of history


Social Sciences room 122 teemed with enough listeners to create condensation on the windows, crowded aisles, and a slew of camera flashes. They were there Tuesday afternoon to hear Francis Fukuyama, the Bernard L. Schwartz professor of international political economy at Johns Hopkins University, give a talk called The End of History Fifteen Years Later. In his address Fukuyama amended claims in his groundbreaking book, The End of History and the Last Man (Penguin, 1992), and discussed his newest work, State-Building: Governance and World Order in the 21st Century (Cornell University Press, 2004).

“I think The End of History needs to be rewritten,” the scholar-prognosticator admitted. “The modernity of the liberal West is difficult to achieve for many societies around the world.” Islamic radicalism, the United States and Europe’s ideological split over the Iraq war, and the notion of politics as an autonomous machine have all clashed with Fukuyama’s original thesis that human history as a struggle between warring ideologies was at a close, with the world settled on liberal democracy.

“My thesis ended as a question,” he noted. “The theory is about modernization and the coherent processes of economic, political, and social development and interconnectedness.” Nevertheless, Fukuyama defended his ideas about modernization’s universality and liberal democracy as correlative. “Modernization is like the scientific revolution—both can break out of their cultural homeland,” he said. “However, to maintain a liberal political order, there must be a fundamental separation between religion and state formation.”

The talk was part of the 2005 John M. Olin Center for Inquiry into the Theory and Practice of Democracy Winter lecture series.

By Bianca Sepulveda, AB’04

Poetic calm


Joanna Klink seemed perfectly at ease Thursday afternoon in Classics 10, where she quieted the buzzing audience of about 50 students and faculty members with her image-laden poetry. Her poise in the crowded room reflected the calm of her verse, introduced by English language & literature assistant professor Oren Izenberg as providing a “foundation for the chaos of the world to be understood.”

Klink pronounced each word with doting attention, pausing after particularly poignant images so that the audience might fully appreciate the beauty of “air filled with moths as light as pencil outlines.” The natural environment surrounding Klink at the University of Montana, where she teaches, figures prominently in her work and informs what she called her “poetry of the North.” Antelope, flickers, and barn swallows were the unsuspecting subjects of her poems, which came from an unpublished manuscript she was “testing out” on the Classics audience.

Klink also gave a 1 p.m. lecture today in Gates-Blake 321. Thursday’s reading marked the first Poem Present event of 2005. The series continues through the spring, welcoming five more poets to campus.

By Meredith Meyer, ’06

Dangerous Liaisons

In the Court Theatre production of Heiner Müller’s Quartet, which runs through February 27 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the game of scheming and seduction first told in Choderlos de Laclos’s novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses gets whittled down to the two main players: the Marquise de Merteuil and her former lover, the Vicomte de Valmont.

Directed by JoAnne Akalaitis, AB’60—back for her sixth Court project—Quartet takes place not in a pre-revolutionary French court but in a “timeless, unspecified place,” interpreted by set and costume designer Kaye Voyce as a bland, double-bedded hotel room. Because Merteuil (Karen Kandel) and Valmont (Steven Rishard) play all the parts (including each other), the play involves, as Akalaitis told a Chicago Tribune reporter, “a lot of creative confusing gender-switching. They’re constantly switching from seducer to seduced as if to prove how much they deserve each other.”

An hour-long tour of the pair’s self-described “museum of love,” Quartet is about seduction as words and performance, language and theatricality, amusement and fear.

By M.R.Y.

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Photos (from left to right): role reversals: Merteuil (Karen Kandel) plays Valmont as seducer while Valmont (Steven Rishard) is the seduced Madame de Tourvel; after the fall: Karen Kandel as Merteuil and Steven Rishard as Valmont; Valmont (Steven Rishard) seduces a "virgin" (Karen Kandel).

Photos by Michael Brosilow.

Life of the student


Steve Klass didn’t expect so many students to join the mostly faculty and staff audience in a BSLC lecture room Tuesday afternoon at the town-hall meeting he led on “supporting student life in 2005.” So Klass, vice president and dean of students in the University, said he’d keep his talk general, not delving too far into the bureaucratic depths of administrative officialdom. Between jokes (a cold had rendered him “a walking Walgreens”), he compared the University today with five years ago, pointing out how student life has improved—and which areas still need help.

Not so long ago, Klass said, it “wasn’t uncommon for College alums to say they had a transformative experience here, but they would never send their kids or anyone they liked here.” So, he asked, what changed? In 1994–96 a faculty, staff, student, and trustee task force recommended the University focus more on students’ well-being. An outgrowth of that report, Klass’s office was created in 2001, he said, touching on “everything outside the classroom”—student services such as the bursar and registrar, lifestyle aspects such as residence halls and student activities, and “lots of affairs”—international affairs and minority affairs, for example.

After discussing racial, gender, and “spiritual” diversity (“We still have a long way to go to meet our aspirations in this area, but we have made some progress”); planned projects such as a new dorm; the rise in athletics and student organizations; improved career services; and recent computer-system upgrades, he took questions. They ranged in topic from kosher-food offerings to graduate-student health care to the dearth of campus dating. To the last he replied with a smile and a shrug, “I’m personally not dating any students,” before turning the topic over to other administrators in the crowd, who discussed sexual-harassment policies and programs. For those questions Klass couldn’t get to, he stuck around to talk one-on-one with a short line, mostly students.

By A.M.B.

Man on a mission


Dan Strandjord, Lab’69, has become a familiar fixture on 58th and Ellis. On a mission to prevent the Hospitals from performing circumcisions, he’s been standing near the institution’s Ellis Avenue entrance, next to the University bookstore, for about two hours most weekdays since mid-June. “Circumcision is not at the forefront of medicine,” he says, referencing the motto of the Hospitals, where he says his father, the late Nels Strandjord, MD’46, had worked.

Bearing a large, conspicuous placard with a photograph of two infants, he speaks enthusiastically and candidly to interested passers-by, and hands out cards explaining his anti-circumcision platform. “Circumcising a child is a violation of human rights,” Strandjord says. Confident that listeners are getting his message, he says, “About 90 percent of the people who talk to me agree with me.”

By Phoebe Maltz, ’05

Java jive


Combating Sunday’s dreary weather, the Central Javanese Gamelan & Friends of the Gamelan performed a vibrant selection of Southeast Asian court music in Rockefeller Chapel. With more than 50 ornately scrolled instruments, a collection called Sri Sedånå after the rice goddess, some two dozen musicians produced hypnotic, ringing rhythms for the small crowd and representatives of Chicago’s Consulate General of Indonesia.

A mix of traditional and contemporary pieces, the music flowed from the soran (loud) style in the opening Gangsaran Bima Kurda, named for an ill-tempered giant, to the sparse …and so she died, the pale faced girl. The penultimate composition offered a masked dance in the masculine gagah style: King Klånå frets over his love for Prince Panji’s promised bride.

Presented by the Department of Music, the concert collected more than $400 for the Indonesian Disaster Relief Fund.

By A.L.M.

Food for thought

It was hard to narrow down the materials for the Crerar Library exhibit, You Are What You Eat: Nutrition and Health, to four glass cases, says Reed Lowrie, AM’87, a science reference librarian who helped write the exhibit notes. Yet in that small space Lowrie, science library director Kathleen Zar, and reference librarian Barbara Kern fit in a feast of old cookbooks and guides, contemporary magazines and diet fads—the history of U.S. food practices from colonial America to the modern day.

The first case includes the first cookbook written and published in the United States, and it’s a mouthful: Amelia Simmons’s 1796 American Cookery; or, the Art of Dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry, and Vegetables, and the Best Modes of Making Pastes, Puffs, Pies, Tarts, Puddings, Custards, and Preserves, and All Kinds of Cakes, from the Imperial Plumb to the Plain Cake, Adopted to This Country, and All Grades of Life. (Crerar has a 1963 special limited edition.) The case also offers a taste of 19th-century nutrition reformers Sylvester Graham, the Kellogg brothers, and C. W. Post—who all believed a scientific diet rich in grains and nuts would promote health and even cure physical and mental ailments—and Harriet Beecher Stowe and her sister Catherine Esther Beecher, who wrote The House-keepers Manual in 1874.

The exhibit next highlights storing and shipping advances—the ice box, canning, railroads—which accompanied some food-production shortcomings, creating the unsavory conditions detailed in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle (1906) and eventually new laws. Then it’s on to nutrition today, including diet books contributed by library staff members. While the Kellogg brothers were the first to exploit Americans’ desire for healthy living, the notes say, fads such as the Atkins diet and the Coconut diet, published in January, continue to be big business. Finally the exhibit offers a practical discussion on body image and portion size, with help from BSD nutrition teacher Mindy Schwartz. Six dice, for example, equal one portion of cheese, and a deck of playing cards measures three ounces of meat.

The exhibit ends June 11.

By A.M.B.

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Gonzo neoconservatism


Nearly an hour before Christopher Hitchens was scheduled to speak Wednesday afternoon, the Social Sciences lobby was already filling up. The crowd, largely male and including several members of Chicago’s parliamentary-debate team, finally poured into room 122, where political-science professor Nathan Tarcov introduced the British speaker, who’s worked as a columnist for the Nation, Washington editor for Harper’s, and book critic for Newsday, and who recently wrote Blood, Class and Empire: The Enduring Anglo-American Relationship and Love, Poverty, and War (both Nation Books, 2004). Hitchens, addressing the question “Can one be a neoconservative?” as part of the John M. Olin Center for Inquiry into the Theory and Practice of Democracy’s 2004–05 lecture series, began by apologizing for his “Hezbollah appearance”—the international journalist’s way of noting his well-traveled air.

He chronicled his changing view of neoconservatism, starting with a “yuck” feeling. In 1989 he considered such thinkers “anti-democratic” for what he saw as their “degraded, cynical realpolitik.” (The notoriously hard-drinking writer then interrupted his discussion on Eastern Europe’s turn from communism, pouring another glass from a pitcher and saying, “This is the most water I’ve ever drunk.”) He explained his own political turn-around: petitions to stop the early 1990s ethnic cleansing in the Balkans were signed by some of his neocon enemies. When Slobodon Milosevic finally was imprisoned and the situation improved, said Hitchens, “I had to notice that, without the so-called neoconservatives, this wouldn’t have happened.”
So, can one be a neoconservative, in Hitchens’s opinion? Wrapping up, he explained the Hegelian view that a political movement only becomes genuine after it has experienced a split. Hitchens sees such a split forming between Norman Podhoretz and Henry Kissinger on the one side (which Hitchens still detests) and Paul Wolfowitz, PhD’72, on the other, more admirable one.

Following the talk he answered questions, including one from an elderly pacifist that sparked a hearty debate. Finally the cigarette Hitchens had long been waving began calling, so the evening drew to a close as he offered to take more questions—outside.

By Phoebe Maltz, ’05


Christopher Hitchens.

The butts stop here

When silence fell, the scramble erupted. Lucky players in Saturday’s large-scale game of musical chairs swiftly plopped into empty seats while the desperate leftovers scurried and scuffled for remaining spots. The atmosphere at the student-organized event, which sold raffle entries and more than 150 $5-tickets to raise $1,800 for tsunami victims, was giddy—with a healthy dollop of competition—as the Henry Crown crowd relived grade-school days to the funky beat of Zapp & Roger, Al Green, and the Incredible Bongo Band, among others. The winner walked with a $400 plane ticket to anywhere, the rest with booby prizes and sore bums.


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Folding chairs stretched around two basketball courts in Henry Crown (top left); contestants shuffle to the beat in an early round (top middle); a volunteer referee mediates a dispute (top right); players lunge for open seats (bottom left); in later rounds contestants were required to pat their heads and rub their stomachs, hop on one leg, and crab-walk (bottom middle); the final round (bottom right).

Paintings of a different color

William Bailey and Giorgio Morandi both painted still lifes of vases and other common household items. Mark Rothko and Josef Albers both painted square or rectangular blocks of solid color. But overlapping subject matter does not equal overlapping content, argued poet Mark Strand, the Andrew MacLeish distinguished service professor in the Committee on Social Thought, Tuesday afternoon in Foster Hall.

Showing slides first of Bailey’s and Morandi’s work, then of Rothko’s and Albers’s, Strand attempted to demonstrate that sometimes “differences outweigh the similarities” between “ostensibly similar” works. A Bailey still life resembles “a royal family portrait,” static and conclusive, while a comparable Morandi painting produces what Strand called “the odd feeling that the objects are together and holding still for a pleasing instant.”

If the difference between the still-life painters manifests itself in the viewer’s reaction, the contrast between Rothko and Albers lies in how they approached their art. Rothko called one painting Orange and Yellow but insisted color wasn’t important, urging viewers to “disregard color.” (“If Orange and Yellow is not about orange and yellow, what is it about?” Strand asked.) Albers, on the other hand, freely experimented with and appreciated color. And unlike Rothko, “there was no admission on Albers’s part that he ever wept when he painted.”

During the question and answer period Strand was accused of favoring Morandi over the other artists he discussed. But, he assured, “I like them all equally.”

By Phoebe Maltz, ’05

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From left: Giorgio Morandi, Still Life (The Blue Vase), 1920. William Bailey, Table with Ochre Wall, 1972. Mark Rothko, Orange and Yellow, 1956. Josef Albers, Homage to the Square: With Rays, 1959.

Economics unzipped

03-04-05_image-1.jpg“You put naked in the title and they show up,” joked Charles Wheelan, PhD’98, author of Naked Economics. And show up they did. A line of students formed outside Stuart 103 an hour before Wheelan, a Harris School lecturer, and economics professor Allen Sanderson were slated to discuss “College Undressed: the ‘Naked Economics’ of Student Life,” sponsored by the student-run Chicago Society. As the crowd squeezed into the lecture hall, it became clear that the room would not accommodate everyone, and a number of fans were turned away with the promise of a rain check.

Sanderson, armed with 200 index cards on which students could write their names to enter a door-prize lottery, was pleasantly amazed that he might not have enough cards. “I can’t imagine that at any other University 200 students would show up on a Thursday night in the penultimate week of the quarter to talk about economics.”

He and Wheelan gave the audience some bare-bones commandments for living economically: Don’t take a job during the academic year that pays less than $10 per hour. Don’t get married in December, but do plan children in that month, for tax purposes. And never tell a potential employer the starting salary you want, even if the employer insists. For particularly unscrupulous planners, Sanderson suggested to “go and visit your grandma on December 30, 2010,” and if she is near the end of her life “stand on a hose or something” to expedite her passing before the relaxed estate-tax legislation runs out.

By Meredith Meyer, ’07


Charles Wheelan, author of Naked Economics.

One-woman show

03-07-05_image-1_thumb 1.jpgWith wild curly hair and sleek black slacks, playwright, actress, and NYU professor Anna Deveare Smith told personal stories about race and gave acting tips to about 40 students in the Reynolds Club’s cozy third-floor theater. On campus as the first Presidential Fellow in the Arts, Smith—known for playing National Security Adviser Nancy McNally on the West Wing but who’s also been nominated for a Pulitzer, won Obie awards, and received a MacArthur “genius” fellowship—held the afternoon conversation before a Mandel Hall evening performance last Tuesday.

During the talk Smith told about having a “pleasant” conversation with a cabdriver in her hometown New York when he suddenly yelled “Nigger!” at a truck driver blocking his way. Smith, who is African American, said, “You shouldn’t talk like that.” First of all, she said, “you could get killed.” Second, “I don’t think you have any idea what my people have suffered and done for this country so people from all over”—including the driver, whose nationality she couldn’t pinpoint—“can come to this country.” The driver apologized profusely. But for Smith the incident demonstrated that U.S. race relations are far from fixed, especially when she told her Romanian doorman the story and his well-meaning response was, “And where is he (the cabdriver) from?”

Smith performs monologues based on the thousands of people she’s interviewed, from Anita Hill to a Korean shopkeeper whose store was destroyed in the 1992 Los Angeles riots, using the person’s exact words and mimicking his or her voice and mannerisms (her Studs Terkel is dead-on). When she first started performing in the 1980s, she said, “I was very uptight about all of this.” Unlike many black artists, she didn’t write about “my kitchen” from her Baltimore childhood or growing up in segregation. Instead she wrote sympathetic Jewish and black characters in Fires in the Mirror, a play about the violence that erupted in Crown Heights, New York, after a Hasidic driver hit and killed a 7-year-old black boy. Because her work hasn’t followed the traditional black artist’s path, she said, black audiences and media have been ambivalent toward her. But she believes African American intellectuals, rather than drifting to area studies or “the black table,” should “make it hard for people to find you.”

By A.M.B.


Anna Deveare Smith (left) and discussion moderator Jacqueline Stewart, associate professor of English language & literature, take questions in the Reynolds Club third-floor theater.

Photo by Dan Dry

Dawn of a dorm

A handful of students gathered Monday afternoon in the dimly lit Judson Lounge as Steve Klass, vice president and dean of students in the University, announced the architects selected to design an undergraduate dormitory in the lot behind Burton-Judson. The Boston-based firm, Goody Clancy, was chosen for its experience in urban planning and historic preservation, and for its “philosophic and intellectual” approach to design, said Elaine Lockwood Bean, associate vice president of facilities services. Goody Clancy has designed buildings for institutions including Harvard, Georgetown, Dartmouth, Yale, and Princeton.

The façade of the new dorm and dining hall will draw on the “exceptionally varied palette” of building materials in surrounding structures, including the eclectic neighborhood architecture, the Gothic Burton-Judson dormitory, and the Mies van der Rohe–designed Social Service Administration building, according to Lockwood Bean. The University expects a schematic by July and has projected a tentative $104 million budget for the project.

Student input has played a prominent role in the programming phase, underway since November 2003. Two focus groups, consisting of undergraduates with differing housing experiences, and surveys distributed to second-, third-, and fourth-years have helped guide the initial planning stages. Privacy ranked as students’ principal concern, which didn’t surprise Cheryl Gutman, deputy dean of students for housing and dining services. “We have more single rooms on campus—now about 50 percent—than any other campus I can think of,” Gutman said. Students also prized quiet for sleep and study, the surveys showed, and relative proximity to laundry facilities and campus.

By Meredith Meyer, ’07

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Prints for the people

03-11-05_image-1_thumb.jpgThere’s Peter Paul Rubens’s Supper at Emmaus and Michelangelo Buonarroti’s Last Judgment. Not the originals, mind you, but prints of the iconic works. Don’t be disappointed. Prints have their own artistic value, argues the current Smart Museum exhibition, Paper Museums: The Reproductive Print in Europe, 1500–1800.

Including prints by Pieter van Sompel after Rubens and Giulio di Antonio Bonasone after Buonarroti, the exhibit of about 100 paper images explores the role reproductive art played in Renaissance and Baroque Europe. Imitating works by others, the prints not only helped to promote those artists but also gave the public access to paintings, sculptures, and other pieces once available only to wealthy travelers or collectors. The copies, suggest curators Rebecca Zorach, AM’94, PhD’99, assistant professor of art history, Johns Hopkins’s Elizabeth Rodini, PhD’95, and the Smart’s Anne Leonard, constitute art in their own right.

The exhibition runs through May 15 and then travels to New York University’s Grey Art Gallery, where it opens in September.

By M.L.


Left: Pieter van Sompel after Peter Paul Rubens, Supper at Emmaus, 1643, Etching. Right: Willem van Swanenburg after Peter Paul Rubens, Supper at Emmaus, 1611, Engraving. Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago. Purchases, Paul and Miriam Kirkley Fund for Acquisitions.

The play's the thing

Putting together the classics—Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, for example—or creating a one-of-a-kind comedy—like Off Off Campus’s Mild Mild West—takes more than a stage and some players. Photographer Lloyd DeGrane scouted out some University Theater types, who presented the aforementioned shows along with seven other productions last quarter, breaking a sweat, if not a leg or two. This week the house has gone dark as cast and crew members study up for their recurrent student roles; but after finals has its run, the show must go on. Look for Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, Sophocles’s Electra, and new student pieces this spring.

By A.L.M.

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Third-year Peter Sloane designs lighting for UT's production of Poe, written and directed by third-year Caitlin Doughty (left); Cobb 103 rehearsals for The Crucible(middle); writer/director Caitlin Doughty (black shirt) leads Poe's cast in a chant for focus (right).

Argonne gets new director

03-16-05_image-1_thumb.jpgAfter a six-month national search, University of Chicago astrophysicist Robert Rosner has been named Argonne National Laboratory’s new director, effective April 18. Succeeding Hermann Grunder, director since 2000, Rosner has served as Argonne’s associate lab director for physical, biological, and computing sciences and as its chief scientist since 2002. He is also the William Wrather distinguished service professor in astronomy & astrophysics.

Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman has approved the appointment. For more information, see the News Office’s full report.

By A.M.B.

Photo by Lloyd DeGrane

Not so fast out of Dodge

That last final, both dreaded and eagerly awaited. While most students finished their exams earlier this week, those who had to stick it out until Friday were still trickling in and out of classrooms this morning, cramming until the last hour or trying to find Zen.

The 40-degree weather allowed Samantha LaPeter, a second-year Divinity School master’s student, to study for her Greek final at a picnic table outside Cobb. Oliver Roeder, a second-year College student, sat alone in Cobb 214 a half hour before his 10:30 a.m. linear-algebra test, eyes on his textbook. With three finals and a paper, plus his parents in town from Des Moines this week, he hadn’t yet had time to prepare for this one. And Nicholas Boterf, a fourth-year classics major, was early to his Antigone final because “the TA e-mailed that it was at 10,” but apparently it wasn’t. “I probably should be studying,” he said, “but at this point I almost need to detox.” And while Roeder takes off for Tallahassee to visit his girlfriend after his test, Boterf will hit the books again. “I’ll probably take a nap, hit Chipotle with my friends, and then tomorrow it’s B.A. paper crunch time.”

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Divinity student Samantha LaPeter studies for her Greek final (left); classics major Nicholas Boterf detoxes before his Greek final (right).

Sign of the times

03-21-05_image-1_thumb.jpgBesides the greening grass, the chirping robins, and the tulip shoots poking up with increasing assurance, the quads have been graced with yet another sign of spring: our ducks have roosted. Arriving at Duck Island just a few days ago, in time to inaugurate the season, the pair of mallards enjoyed a Monday morning swim in a recently thawed Botany Pond, as passersby alternately cooed and quacked.

We’re hoping that the chummy couple will produce another brood of fuzzy ducklings, marking, as last year, the progression of summer, and, with the young ducks’ departure, the advent of fall.

By A.L.M.

Odes to the peasantry

03-23-05_image-1_thumb.jpgFor centuries the French had considered rustic life part of their national identity. As the Industrial Revolution forced peasants to flee the countryside for market-friendlier cities, artists and folklorists feared—correctly—that a central piece of the country’s character was fading. They invaded the rural lands to document the dying way of life, whether accurately or pastorally romanticized; several artists, for example, omitted the machines that eased workloads, and the fact that so many peasants had deserted the country for more lucrative urban centers.

The Smart Museum exhibition Shepherds and Plowhands: Work and Leisure in the Nineteenth Century, on display through April 24, assembles etchings, lithographs, and an Impressionist oil painting in an account of the era. Ironically, the exhibit notes observe, the works often were collected into expensive books cherished in middle-class and aristocratic homes.

By A.M.B.


Leon Augustin LHermitte (1844-1925), Boy and Girl in Spring Landscape, date unknown, Oil on canvas. Smart Museum of Art, Gift of Mrs. Myron E. Rubnitz. 2002.49.

The dean remembers

03-25-05_image-1_thumb.jpgWhen Wayne C. Booth, AM’47, PhD’50, was named dean of the College in December 1964, he had a grand ambition: to recreate the Hutchins College. But things didn’t turn out the way he’d planned.

In a lecture videotaped at Chicago’s Alumni House this week—to be added to the Alumni Association’s Mind Online Web page later this spring—Booth, the George C. Pullman distinguished service professor emeritus in English language & literature and the College, explained that his academic vision failed to win campus approval because he forgot the importance of “precinct” politics in institutional affairs. Before he could try again, the changing tide of national politics hit the quadrangles.

As sit-in followed sit-in, Booth found himself torn between support for the protestors’ anti-war stance and his institutional duties. In his journal entries he recorded his feelings of hypocrisy, failure, and the occasional moment of accomplishment. When black students occupied the Administration Building, he managed to convince the Chicago policemen who’d been sent to the scene that they were not needed. When he sat back down on the hallway floor, for the first time since he’d arrived, a student spoke to him: “Mr. Booth, would you like an apple?”

By M.R.Y.

Rockin' the chapel

03-28-05_image-1_thumb.jpgA cultural performance, staged poetry, and an ethics conference highlight Rockefeller Memorial Chapel’s ecumenical range of upcoming events. Monday night the award-winning Turkoman Folk Music Ensemble dances to and plays music of the Caucasus region, while a daytime exhibit shows off Turkoman silver, instruments, and costumes. Friday night the Chicago group Schola Antiqua presents Murder in the Cathedral: Music for St. Thomas à Becket, an all-vocal concert written to honor the English archbishop, killed in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170. Next Tuesday, April 5, the Becket-athon continues as Second City cofounder Bernie Sahlins, AB’43, directs a staged reading of T.S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral. And right in time for tax deadlines, the April 13–14 Global Ethics Conference: The Search for Common Ground brings together Temple University professor Leonard Swidler and other leading scholars to address “the question of the existence of a shared, global ethic.”


Magazine spring break

Though not really on spring break, we are in lovely San Diego for the CASE Editor’s Forum through Friday. While we’re gone, here are some other U of C blogs to check out:

Economist Gary Becker and Law School lecturer Richard Posner have created the Becker-Posner blog, exploring economics, law, and policy.

Political scientist Daniel Drezner discusses national and international affairs on his blog.

Magazine intern Phoebe Maltz, ’05, publishes “the best Francophilic Zionism in the blogosphere” on What Would Phoebe Do?

We know we’re missing some, so please write and let us know your favorite University-related Web log. Then return here Monday at 3 p.m. for your regularly scheduled UChiBLOGo posting.

Caution: words at play


One look at the playbill for director Charles Newell’s production of Tom Stoppard’s Travesties—running at Court Theatre through April 24—and you know you’re in for an evening of poetry, pastiche, and puns. The notes feature jokey typefaces, snippets of quotations, and free-association references to the play at hand.

The action takes place in the wandering mind of Henry Carr, a real-life figure although he didn’t have quite the life that Stoppard has given him, a minor official in the British consulate at Zurich shortly after World War I. The play opens as Carr, now in his dotage, recalls the famous men he has known or thinks he has known: Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, dadaist poet Tristan Tzara, and modernist author James Joyce.

The real-life Carr did know Joyce, suing him after a Zurich performance of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, in which Carr played “not Earnest—the other one,” Algernon Moncrieff. Stoppard uses that tidbit to structure his play, borrowing and revamping key scenes and plot devices from Earnest.

Which brings us to Court’s “other one,” its fall 2004 production of Earnest. Not only do key members from that cast appear in corresponding roles in Travesties (Lance Stuart Baker, who plays Carr, was Algernon, while Sean Allan Krill, who plays Tzara, was Earnest), but a similar frolicking choreography adds to the circus-like and circular movement of Stoppard’s own “Trivial Comedy for Serious People.”



Hey kids, let’s put on a show: Jay Whittaker as James Joyce, Lance Stuart Baker as Henry Carr and Heidi Kettenring as Gwendolen in Court Theatre's production of Tom Stoppard's Travesties (top); Algernon and Earnest by any other names: Lance Stuart Baker as Henry Carr and Sean Allan Krill as Tristan Tzara in Court Theatre's production of Tom Stoppard's Travesties (bottom).

Photos by Michael Brosilow.

Gestalt grammar

04-06-05_image-1_thumb 1.jpgJon Trowbridge, AB’91, SM’92, has been a fugitive alumnus. “It took years but somehow I’ve eluded the Alumni Association,” he says. “They no longer ask me for money, but I never get the Magazine either.” Now Trowbridge has stepped out of obscurity and back onto the University’s radar to introduce Gnoetry—with a hard “g”—to the campus community. With cocreator Eric Elshtain, a PhD student in the Committee on the History of Culture, he presented their four-year-old invention Monday to a Franke Institute for the Humanities audience of about 20 poetic-minded students and faculty.

Gnoetry, born of a conversation between the two friends “one morning over bad coffee and French toast,” creates a space where “humanities and math overlap,” Elshtain says. A computer program analyzes the language of out-of-copyright texts, including Heart of Darkness, Huckleberry Finn, and Notes From Underground. Software written by Trowbridge then reconfigures the analyzed language into a prescribed poetic form, including blank verse, Renga, or Tanka.

Because Gnoetry uses complete texts rather than random lists of words, it maintains the essence of the original work, Elshtain says. So when Thorstein Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class gets Gnoetry-ed, the result, he supposes, “is as if we said, ‘Hey Veblen, could you write us some T-shirts?’” For proof he referred to Edith Wharton’s Custom of the Country, which produced the line their glances met in a mist of bargaining and hyperbole—a phrase that struck Elshtain (and the audience) as a “pretty accurate distillation of Wharton’s writing.”

Meredith Meyer, ’07


Eric Elshtain (left) and Jon Trowbridge.

In with the new new

04-08-05_image-1_thumb 1.jpgOn Tuesday a panel of writers parsed the “new new journalism” in a packed room at International House. As part of I-House’s Global Voices lecture series, Robert Boynton, Leon Dash, and Alex Kotlowitz came together to promote Boynton’s book, The New New Journalism: Conversations with America’s Best Nonfiction Writers on Their Craft (Vintage, 2005).

Pulling from personal experience, the trio illuminated new new journalism, which builds on the tradition of narrative nonfiction associated with Tom Wolfe and Norman Mailer while maintaining strict journalistic standards. For example, Dash talked about reporting a Pulitzer Prize–winning series on adolescent childbearing for the Washington Post (which formed the basis for Rosa Lee: A Mother and Her Family in Urban America [Plume Books, 1997]). The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign journalism professor explained that he tried to build a relationship with subjects that would allow him to get beyond their “public face.”

To help others get there, Boynton, director of NYU’s graduate magazine-journalism program, offers tips in his book including how practitioners like Dash and Wall Street Journal veteran Kotlowitz write, report, and organize their notes.

David King, AM’04


Alex Kotlowitz, Robert Boynton, and Leon Dash at International House.

More space, more Gothic grandeur


Kicking back on a sunny Friday afternoon, the College Admissions invited a few campus friends over to luxuriate in their new space. Recently installed in Rosenwald Hall—the GSB’s former digs—after vacating an outgrown Harper Memorial Library suite, Admissions occupies the smartly appointed, and generously large, first floor and lobby, pushing the Department of Economics to the building’s second and third floor.

The move provided for airy interior spaces that still have that new-office smell. A grand, green-walled reception area, where NYSE’s Trading Post No. 12 used to be, is not quite complete: campus-networked computers are still to be installed for prospies looking up classes. Though Admissions head Ted O’Neill will miss the magnolias that used to burst into bloom across his Harper windows, he’s happy to be in the thick of things in his southwest corner office, with a view of kids “hanging out” on the quads.



An ornately carved doorway leads from Rosenwald's lobby to Admissions's interior offices (top); admissions head Ted O'Neill in his new southwest corner office (bottom).

On the road again

04-13-05_image-1_thumb.jpgA behemoth invaded campus Monday. The conspicuous, neon-green and blue RV spent the afternoon on the main quads as part of a cross-country tour promoting Road Trip Nation, a project that sends college students seeking post-graduation guidance to interview inspirational people nationwide. The goal is to give the students—and later viewers—a glimpse of life’s professional possibilities.

Monday evening Road Trip Nation organizers gave a Doc Films advance screening of a PBS documentary about last summer’s travels. The nine students in the film included U of Cers Erica Cerulo, Diana Dravis, and Candace Elliott. During their five-week trek across the southern part of the country the students, now College fourth-years, interviewed, among others, Hugh Hefner.

Though the application for summer 2005 excursions has passed, through July students can apply for grants financing their own small-scale road trips.

David King, AM’04


Road Trip Nation organizers and the U of C students who
participated last year promote the program Monday on the quads.

The tax man commenteth

04-15-05_image-1_thumb.jpgThink the economists in the house filed their tax returns months ago, or at least requested extensions? One tax expert, GSB professor Austan Goolsbee, filed April 12. He used Turbotax and got a “big refund,” he says. “I should have filed earlier.” Here are some observations by Goolsbee, the author of Investment, Overhang and Tax Policy and other tax-related papers.

* What are some common mistakes people make when filing taxes?
Hiding their income. Actually, the two most common mistakes are putting the federal check into the state envelope (and vice versa).

* Any advice for non-economics types on filing?
If you have any schedule C income, check out a solo 401(k) that allows you to make potentially large contributions to a retirement account tax-free.

* Any interesting new rules or allowances this year?
The phasing out of deductions is really irritating.

* Best tip(s) you’ve learned?
Start earlier next year.



Goolsbee giving the 2000 GSB commencement address.

Desert-island dreams

04-18-05_image-1_thumb.jpgIf Charles Lipson, professor of political science, were marooned on a deserted island, he would want Mozart, Robert Johnson, and the Rolling Stones along with him—or at least their music. He also would want all the history books he’s long been meaning to read and reread, and a lot of Snickers bars and cans of diet Dr. Pepper.

Armed with a soda in one hand and a pair of reading glasses in the other, Lipson spoke to about 20 students and faculty in the Reynolds Club about what is important to him, as part of the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel–sponsored brown bag forum “What Matters to Me and Why.” Even more important than candy bars were learning, humor, and free discourse.

“The first thing I treated myself to when I got my PhD was a good reading chair,” Lipson said. “It’s not like a chair at the Boston opera that says, ‘Sit up!’ It says, ‘Relaaax,’” he cooed in his Mississippi accent. At home, he said, he surrounds himself with books, his shelves heavy with history and political-science texts. “Soon [my bookshelves] will say, ‘Enough.’”

Despite his scholarly profession, Lipson maintains that his tastes are “anything but highbrow.” He is a sucker for American pop culture, especially if it can make him laugh. “If I had to do without the Daily Show or the New York Times, it would be a close call. If it were the Simpsons or the New York Times, it would not even be close.”

Meredith Meyer, ’07

Mr. Sandman

04-20-05_image-1_thumb.jpgNeil Gaiman, creator of the cult comic series Sandman, noted last night that a Web site measuring celebrity has labeled him “niche famous.” But judging by the sold-out audience that filled the Court Theatre to watch his interview with Gretchen Helfrich, host of Chicago Public Radio’s Odyssey program, the niche has grown quite large.

Gaiman, visiting the University as part of the Presidential Fellows in the Arts series, has experimented with many media, including graphic and traditional novels, television, and film. “I have long held the theory that the next thing I do should be completely different from the last. But then I look back and [my projects] are all lined up like soldiers, leading to the same thing.” It’s not quite clear to the author what that thing is, but his fans clearly enjoy it. When Gaiman read a passage from his new novel, Anansi Boys, in which the character Fat Charlie woke up hungover one morning, feeling like “his eyes were too tight in his head,” and “not only were they too tight in his head, but they must have rolled off in the night and reattached with roofing nails,” the college-age audience nearly heaved with laughter.

Although Gaiman specializes in creating fantastic stories in ordinary settings, he does not consider himself an escape artist. “Fantasy is not to create a different world, but it is a route back in to this one,” he said. “It is that wonderful feeling of coming home after being away awhile.”

Meredith Meyer, ’07

Earth day(s)

04-22-05_image-1.jpgThe University brought Earth appreciation up a notch this year, expanding what’s usually a day of activities into a week’s worth. Chicago’s annual celebration of environmentalism kicked off April 15 with a panel discussion on climate change, featuring Divinity School Professor William Schweiker, PhD’85, the Natural Resources Defense Council’s David Doniger, and University of Wisconsin’s David Bromley. A talk on environmental-science careers and a screening of the documentary The End of Suburbia followed on Monday and Tuesday. The festivities concluded Friday. A planting excursion was planned but, throwing her weight around, Mother Earth made that difficult. Besides the rainy weather, the ground won’t be ready until May.


Jack flash

04-25-05_image-1_thumb.jpgThe Graduate School of Business’s 53rd annual management conference was a winner: the April 22 event attracted 1,000 alumni and other businesspeople, many of them drawn by a lunchtime conversation with Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric and author (with wife Suzy Welch) of the current bestseller Winning.

As attendees lunched in the Fairmont Hotel’s Imperial Ballroom, GSB Dean Edward A. Snyder, AM’78, PhD’84, pressed Welch for highlights: “Jack, your book has four parts and 20 chapters. We’ve got some people here who don’t have much time—what should they read?”

“It depends on what you need,” Jack shot back. For readers in crisis mode he recommended the chapter on crisis management: “Get out of the denial phase fast.” Readers in a merger situation should check out the mergers and acquisitions chapter—and remember that “[A]fter a merger, the brilliant resisters are dead.” He drew laughter with another recommendation: “And there’s a great chapter about how to work for a lousy boss.”

Lousy bosses, in Welch’s view, are those who “lack candor,” who “think it’s unkind to tell employees what they’re doing wrong,” and who pay more attention to budgets than dreams. In his straight-from-the-gut style, Welch dissed both corporate loyalty (“I do not find loyalty to be a great corporate virtue—only winning companies count”) and CFOs (“Why people want to hang around with finance grunts is beyond my imagination”).

Conversation finished, guests headed to the Gleacher Center for an afternoon of panel sessions, from GSB professor Marvin Zonis discussing “Déjà Vu All Over Again: Foreign Policy Challenges in the Second Bush Term” to “Where is Consumer-Driven Health Care Going?”—a panel sponsored by the Chicago GSB Public Policy Roundtable Alumni Group.



GSB Dean Ted Snyder interviews former GE CEO Jack Welch.
Photo by Dan Dry.

Fever pitch


Blazing along the base paths and firing heat past opposing hitters, the women’s softball team is the hottest thing to hit the South Side since the Great Chicago Fire. The nation’s 12th-ranked squad got off to a fast start en route to a 20–7 record. This past Sunday the Maroons rebounded from a tough 1–6 stretch by cruising past the overmatched Lawrence Vikings in an afternoon doubleheader.

In the first game Chicago phenom Hannah “Hannibal” Roberts dazzled her adversaries with an encyclopedic array of pitches. A four-hit, ten-strikeout masterpiece vaulted the College third-year to the top of the team’s all-time shutout list. The second game saw second-year Petra “Petrol” Wade exact no less mercy on the Vikings, surrendering only one unearned run as she torched fastball after fastball at the hapless Lawrence batters.

Even when the visitors managed to put the bat on the ball, they frequently found Maroon defenders swarming over the diamond. Junior third-baseman Kayti “Web-Gem” Fuhr lit up the highlight reels, making a spectacular catch in foul territory in the first game and picking a hotshot out of the dirt in the second contest. At the opposite corner, junior first baseman Rachel “Stretch” Cohen consistently scooped out low throws.

But don’t think these women of spring are all defense. The team pounded out 19 hits over the two games, outscoring Lawrence 7–1. In the balanced line-up, nine different players hit safely. Standout Dominique “Dominator” Marshall, a first-year, showed her versatility in the second game by adding a textbook bunt to two singles.

With three road contests remaining, including two against top-ranked Washington University in St. Louis, the team is looking for a strong finish to a season already drenched in Maroon blood, sweat, and tears.

Sam Gill '05


Hannah Roberts prepares to fire strike three at the Lawrence hitter (top); the teams congratulate each other after a Maroon sweep (bottom).

Reading material


What does it mean to use a book, rather than read it? Exploring this question through a wide collection of old and unusual texts, Book Use, Book Theory: 1500–1700, a Special Collections Research Center exhibit on display through June 15, focuses on the book as a material object and practical tool. Prominent among the displays are eye-popping anatomies, intricate sky maps, and other illustrated works, including the anachronistic Greatest of All Time: A Tribute to Muhammad Ali (Taschen, 2004), a book so large it’s “almost unmovable.” Nestled among these are smaller treasures, such as an intricately embroidered Bible and a tiny Latin medical guide, only a few inches square.



William Cowper (1666-1709). The Anatomy of Humane Bodies, with Figures Drawn After the Life by Some of the Best Masters in Europe. Oxford: for Sam. Smith and Benj. Walford, 1698. Rare Book Collection, From the Collection of Mortimer Frank.

Observing Yerkes

Amid news reports of the University possibly selling Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, the 1897 building still brimmed with activity this past Friday.

At 1 p.m. a local junior-high-school group stands outside the ornate, brick and terra cotta structure, awaiting a tour and a build-your-own-telescope class with public-affairs officer Richard Dreiser. Meanwhile observatory manager Jim Gee, MBA’81, leads another visitor down a tile-floored, marble-walled hallway and up two flights to the west end, where a 90-foot-diameter dome holds what remains the world’s largest refractory telescope. Astronomy & astrophysics professor Kyle Cudworth, Yerkes’s director, still conducts research with the telescope, whose mammoth blue base, 60-foot-long tube, and history—it was first displayed at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition—inspire awe. It’s cold inside the brick-faced dome. “The temperature must be the same as outside,” Gee explains, or the heat would scatter the light waves and cause optical illusions.

Through dusty library stacks and several doorways, Dreiser has taken the school kids to a darkened room, where they sit on an old solar optical bench. “If you cover the moon with your finger,” he says, as he and the studens hold up their thumbs toward a poster of the moon, “and you know the size of your finger” and the angle, you can figure out the moon’s size.

On the ground floor engineers work on the NASA project SOFIA/HAWC—short for stratospheric observatory for infrared astronomy/high-resolution airborne wideband camera. When it’s done, Gee says, the camera will mount on the end of a telescope, which scientists will bring aboard a 747 and, from 40,000 feet, study celestial objects at infrared wavelengths. It’s likely the last engineering project at Yerkes, whose mission has moved away from research and toward education and outreach, which is why the University may sell it—or, as Gee prefers to say, “change stewardship.” After working at Yerkes for 15 years, he’s found the place “has a way of endearing itself to people.”


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The Great Dome holds the world's largest refractor telescope (left); public affairs officer Richard Dreiser teaches about the moon (middle); the outside is brick and terra cotta (right).

Eye of the storm


One could say that Darcy Frey, the University’s Robert Vare visiting writer in residence, puts himself in stressful situations. But that would be an understatement. For a New York Times Magazine story, which he read from yesterday at the Franke Institute, Frey spent a month observing the newborn intensive care unit at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

While reporting the 1995 piece—“Does Anyone Here Think This Baby Can Live?”—he daily witnessed doctors deciding the fate of babies so small they could be “held like a bunch of grapes in a nurse’s hand.” The doctors, he told the audience of about 15 students and staff, tended to premature babies, “lying froglike and immobile,” with the “precision of a man building a ship in a bottle.”

Laughing, Frey recalled how the New York Times sent him to the air-traffic-control center that governs Newark, La Guardia, and Kennedy airports—“for a lighter piece.” The staff he encountered there wore a “savage, bug-eyed look,” so they appeared “like men on the verge of drowning,” constantly asking themselves if this would “be the day of the their unmaking.”

Poised at a podium, he gave the impression he’d be good to have around in a chaotic situation. Frey, who’d watched 30 high-risk births in 30 days and air traffic controllers “curse and twitch like a bunch of Tourettes sufferers,” maintained a calm presence as he made his characters and imagery come alive.

Meredith Meyer, ’07

Salon de Scav Hunt

Thursday afternoon, 12-plus hours into Scav Hunt 2005, competitors carried out No. 108 on the 15-page list of items to get and deeds to do, posted online at midnight:

“Le Salon en Plein Air, aux Quads, Jeudi et Vendredi, 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. Mes cheries, your locks are in terrible shape! Et mon Dieu! Who let you out of the house with that outré mascara? Coral and taupe are très 2004. And toes without a manicure francaise are simply dégoutante. Un bouffant charmant, s’il vous plaît. Aussi, those pauvre étudiants deserve une masseuse to rub away the stress of their day. Voilà, la haute école de beauté!”

The Snell-Hitchcock contenders responded by blaring the Amelie soundtrack and, along with other teams, offering free manicures and pedicures, haircuts and styling, and massages to passersby.

The hunt continues Saturday with the ScavOlympics and ends Sunday with the final judging.

C’est bon!


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$1.25 billion and counting

This past Friday the institution that offers, as President Don Randel often proclaims, tongue only partly in cheek, “the best education in this or any neighboring galaxy,” thanked some of its stellar supporters—with programs across the disciplines, dinner in Rockefeller Chapel, and a progress report on the $2 billion Chicago Initiative.

University Trustee Edgar D. Jannotta welcomed the guests with an up-to-the-minute fund-raising total. At the three-year mark, the campaign has reached $1,250,495,216.33. “The 33 cents is a joke,” the Initiative’s chair confessed, “but we are counting every penny.” Having already made its mark on the campus landscape, the campaign now must meet its human-capital goals, Jannotta said, announcing a new, $17 million Trustee Scholarship Challenge: a group of trustees will contribute $1 for every $2 in contributions to undergraduate scholarship endowment.

The 74-year-old Jannotta also announced that on July 1 he will step down as chair, to be succeeded by fellow trustee Andrew M. Alper, AB’80, MBA’81. Board of Trustees vice chair and cochair of the GSB campaign, Alper, noted Jannotta, “is the right man for the job.”

Then it was on to a celebration of human capital. Lectures, seminars, and tours gave everyone something to talk about during a pre-dinner reception in the GSB’s Rothman Winter Garden. At dinner in Rockefeller Chapel, 49 new members were inducted into the Harper Society Founders Circle, recognizing cumulative gifts of $1 million or more, and President Randel conferred the University of Chicago Medal on Gerald Ratner, AB’35, JD'37. In addition to his support for the 2003 Gerald Ratner Athletics Center, Ratner was honored for 70 years of advocacy for the College, the Law School, and campus athletics.


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Photos (from left to right): The pre-dinner reception in the GSB’s Rothman Winter Garden; Ratner accepting his award; Rockefeller in its evening best.

Photos by Dan Dry.

God on whose side?


When pundits talk about the role that faith-and-values voters played in the Republican presidential victory last November, they’re really talking about white voters, noted Melissa Harris-Lacewell in a panel discussion Friday. Author of Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought (2004), Harris-Lacewell looked at black faith-and-values voters and found a different story.

Blacks are among the most religious Americans, said Harris-Lacewell, yet only 11 percent of African Americans voted Republican—up from 7 percent in 2000 but down from 12 percent in 1996. If their religious beliefs have made it hard for blacks to vote Republican, those same values, she predicted, may make it hard for them to keep voting Democratic. If it comes to a choice “between Jesus and the Democratic Party,” she said, “they will stay home.” Whatever they do, “they’re sure not going to vote against Jesus.”

Harris-Lacewell also factored black Americans into the red-state/blue-state paradigm, arguing that “[t]here are no blue states, there are only blue cities.” This fact presents a pressing problem for the blue team, she said: “The only people left in the Democratic Party are black people, brown people, and the white people who live around them.”

Harris-Lacewell was one of four Chicago faculty—two political scientists, two Divinity School professors—who spoke on “God in American Politics: The Making of the President 2004,” as part of Chicago Convenes.


Photo: Melissa Harris-Lacewell.

Common knowledge


Want to find out where in Chicago to get a $1 milkshake, free museum passes, and discounted movies tickets? Check out Factoids, a Web site run by fourth-year Jeremy Guttman and the Student Government Campus Services Committee, where students share campus and regional secrets. The site presents the inside scoop in six categories: arts & culture, food, good deals, history, tech & Web mail, and miscellaneous. Among other tidbits, visitors learn that there’s a large computer lab in Harper Library, that a U of C baseball cap costs less at the Gerald Ratner Athletic Center than at the University bookstore, and that Jackson Park has “an awesome Japanese garden.” Those already in the know can submit their own helpful hints. Let knowledge grow!


Photo: Maroon caps are cheaper at Ratner.

Photo by Lloyd DeGrane.

Changing of the quads

University staffers swarmed the main-quads tulip beds this morning, holding open plastic bags for groundskeepers to toss in the bulbs that would otherwise be tossed out. “I get them every year,” said Martha Sykes, office manager for the Office of Graduate Affairs. Bulbs in hand, Angela Stoddart, a hematology/oncology PhD in the Department of Medicine, asked Sykes for planting advice. “I plant them now, just like this,” Sykes said. “Really? Not in the fall?” Stoddart asked. “They die down a little bit,” Sykes admitted, but then they come back.

Gardeners from Clarence Davis plant the tulips every fall, and in spring they dig in the summer greenery. This year the quads will bloom with blue salvia, Cape Town blue daisies, dove wings lantana, and marguerite sweet potato vine.


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Comics Stripped

Clicking through some old and recent work on Cobb 301’s large screen—coaxed to life after 15 minutes of fiddling—cartoonist artist Ivan Brunetti, AB’89, ran through his biography and philosophy in a Tuesday evening talk. Comics, he variously explained, are like calligraphy, Buddhist doctrine, music, life, math, and B-movie making.

“We’re working with the least dignified thing there is,” he said, comparing comic artists to 1940s horror-film producer Val Lewton—the subject of an upcoming strip— “and we’re just trying to give it some dignity.” Brunetti, who is teaching Writing the Graphic Novel this quarter, has also tackled strip bios of Kierkegaard, P. Mondrian, and Erik Satie, finding confluence between the artists’ often hermetic lives and his own. In fact, much of his work is autobiography. “My comics are about me,” he said. “Or people that I think are like me. Or animals that are basically me.”

Such autobiographical examples—published in his weekly Chicago Reader strip—include “Cartooning Will Destroy You” and “The Horror of Simply Being Alive,” exploring writer’s block and the dissolution of his marriage. His work, much of it dark humor, is about “putting people into my head and hoping they’ll understand it.”


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Design and Dionysus

Last Friday the Festival of the Arts (FOTA) kicked off its 2005 season at the Smart Museum, where an assortment of French wines and grape leaves greeted several hundred buzzing students, primed for the evening’s fashion show. Promptly at 10:05, with the Smart lobby packed, second-year fashion designer Andrea Fjeld’s student models got the party started, introduced by one of several well-built, shirtless men wielding billboards.

Leading off with yesterday’s news—a dress made of old Maroons—Fjeld featured everyday products in her designs, including playing cards, electrical tape, and garbage bags. She wrapped up with her most crowd-pleasing numbers: a slender dress made entirely of neckties and a revealing ensemble featuring a white fluffy skirt and a Saran Wrap top.

Next up, first-year Elizabeth Shaeffer favored bold colors, including an aqua-green corset that one fan termed “gorgeous.” Then second-year Lila McDowell offered a short, dark assortment, set to Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus.” Part of an eccentric, hula-hoop heavy collection, Asta Hostetter’s (AB’04) most popular piece was a bright pink ruffled dress, though the enthusiastic response likely owed more to the model’s decision to expose her knickers than anything else.

With her name scrawled across the final hunk’s chest, second-year Alta Buden presented the show’s last set, an eclectic compilation featuring the classic T “Where Fun Goes to Die,” an 80s-style ripped yellow top with blue knee-highs, and a man in a sarong. For the grand finale, two of Alta’s models staged a mock fight.

When the spectale ended, the models took a bow, sending the crowd outside to finish off the last of the grape leaves, and, of course, wine.

John Fitzgerald

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Photos (from left to right): Andrea Fjeld's playing-card number; Asta Hostetter's ballerina; the models take a curtain call.

Photos by Lila McDowell

Spring's palette

As campus fluffed its May plumage, unusual blossoms sprouted in unexpected places: collaged birdhouses stood sentinel along walkways, framed photos drooped from Botany Pond branches, and pinwheels paraded outside the Reg. FOTA 2005, the latest iteration of the annual Festival of the Arts, transformed the quads into a gallery of student art, blooming with a May 13 fashion show and closing Saturday with the all-day carnival and concert Summer Breeze.


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Photos (from left to right, top to bottom): Alta Buden's Spirit Houses; Emma Bernstein's site specific fashion photography; penguines (artist unspecified); Monica Herrera's Pinwheel Timeout; David Pickett's Lego Play Area.

Utopia in the park with Claire

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“I think this is casual enough,” Claire Pentecost says as she negotiates herself into a chair at the Franke Institute, forgoing the podium prepared for her. Pentecost, associate professor and chair of the photography department at the Art Institute of Chicago, takes off her denim peacoat, adjusts her beaded bracelets, slips off her loafers, and sits cross-legged in front of 30 or so students.

Beginning her lecture, Insert Utopia Here, part of the Big Problems series, she declares, “I used to be allergic to the idea of utopia—it made me think of Brave New World or something.” The term seemed to connote “a predictable and coercive kind of situation,” filling her with the “horror that the idea of perfection gives.”

Yet Pentecost offered a more palatable kind of utopia—the city park—where “the ideals of the social contract are given a theater.” Parks, for her, are true utopias because they are “creative and political” spaces that reflect “the people, the history, and the desires” of a community. She showed a slide of her own “idea of paradise,” a Paris public garden where the plants are marked with their common and Latin names, making it “like a library.”

Other visions of utopia find their expression in parks. Pentecost displayed slides of a Paris park in an unused railroad depot, a Barcelona one surrounding a former leper’s hospital, and a Hamburg park in a once abandoned area—where local teenagers have proposed that a room be built for community members “to exhibit their hidden talents.” It struck Pentecost as “a gorgeous idea.”

Meredith Meyer, ’07

Photo: Claire Pentecost.

An affair of honors


“All University of Chicago students are above average,” President Don M. Randel proclaimed at the 49th Annual College Honors Awards Assembly, held Wednesday afternoon in the Ida Noyes Cloister Club. “That means that you,” he told the crowd of undergraduate honorees, “are the above average of the above average—which makes you above average to the nth degree, where n is some very large number.”

As part of a tag team with College Dean John W. Boyer, Dean of Students in the College Susan Art, and University Marshal Lorna P. Straus, President Randel handed out an eclectic array of awards, from the J. Kyle Anderson Award, “presented to the senior baseball player who best exemplifies character, leadership, integrity, and dedication to the team, while distinguishing himself with accomplishments on the field,” to the latest class of Student Marshals, “who assist the Marshal of the University with the dignified conduct of official ceremonies,” and who “are appointed by the President in recognition of their excellent scholarship and leadership in the University community.”

The formal ceremony ended with an invitation to walk over to the President’s House for refreshments—and then an especially spirited rendition of the “Alma Mater,” inspired in part by President Randel’s observation that “singing in full voice and knowing all the words” just might be a prerequisite for receiving another above-average honor: a U of C diploma.


Photo: Magazine intern Sam Gill, '05, receives his certificate for Student Worker of the Year.

Divine day


Four dollars bought grilled hot dogs, eggplant, potato salad, ice cream sundaes, beer, and live bluegrass music at the Divinity School’s last Wednesday community luncheon of the year. Usually a vegetarian meal including an academic speaker in Swift Common Room, today’s cookout in the Swift Hall courtyard was less brainy, more tasty. While the Whisky Hollow Bluegrass Band played Johnny Cash tunes and other standards, Div School students manned the grills and sold self-made cookbooks to raise money for new kitchen equipment. Blessed with a sunny, 70-degree day, guests at five picnic tables conversed, applauded each song, and didn’t hesitate to grab seconds before hitting the sundae bar.


Photos: The barbeque's on (top), and the band is playing (bottom).

Trolley along


Looping around campus since 8:30 a.m. Friday, trolley driver Emanuel has memorized the route well before lunchtime. “I don’t even have to think about it,” he says. Transporting U of C reunion attendees from Alumni House to various event locations, he brakes for maroon and white balloons and “trolley stop” signs. Eighty-year-old Ruth Beiersdorf, AM’65, boards on her way back to Alumni House from the SSA, where she earned her degree. “I was here in ’45,” says Beiersdorf, who flew in from Colorado. “Then I got married and came back to finish in ’65.” When she gets off, Jeff, AB’55, and Beverly Steinberg climb on. They think the trolley is a formal tour, but when they learn it’s more for transportation than information they stay put, watching the campus as they browse their brochures and make their pick for Saturday’s Uncommon Core lecture—Developing Fundamental Scientific Concepts: Illustrations from Thermodynamics by Stuart Rice.

After lunch traffic picks up. Five graduates and spouses from the late 40s and early 50s marvel at the new GSB and the Ratner Athletics Center. “The pool’s in there?” one man exclaims. A couple with two kids, ages 5 and 7, ride to the BSLC to board another trolley, where Hank Webber, University VP of community and government affairs, will guide a Hyde Park tour of recent growth and other neighborhood changes. Then they’ll return for a dinosaur talk by Paul Sereno.

Soon the trolley is full. Veronica Drake, AB’85, talks with another member of her class whom she didn’t know during school. Woodward Court is gone, she says, but it was probably time for something new. True, the man agrees. Jimmy’s is still here, they note. The Ida Noyes painting was stolen. Remember Kuviasungnerk. On they talk as Emanuel drives around campus, evoking 20-year-old memories with each turn.


Photos: Emanuel's trolley (top); Reunion riders (bottom).

Brave hearts

To the skirl of bagpipes and the whirl of cottonwood seeds, Chicago alumni paraded into Rockefeller Chapel Saturday morning, behind maroon and white banners that heralded their College class year or divisional affiliation. Bringing up the rear were the day’s special guests: winners of the Alumni Association’s 2005 Alumni Awards.

Part of Alumni Weekend activities that brought more than 2,500 alums and guests back to campus, the convocation featured an address by Alumni Medalist David Broder, AB’47, AM’51, national political correspondent for the Washington Post.

Invoking Robert Maynard Hutchins and his belief in freedom as essential to the human spirit, Broder—who, like his wife, Ann C. Broder, AB’48, AM’51, is a Hutchins College grad—told his Rockefeller audience, “The liberal mind is an open mind—not devoid of values, but one that is never too sure of how those values can be achieved in a particular age.” Staying open to other approaches and views, he said, is the only way to win “the battle against closed minds,” a battle in which “cynics disarm themselves.” It is “far better,” he ended in Hutchins-echoing exhortation, “to cling to your faith in freedom.”


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Photos (from left to right): Alumni Medalist David Broder, AB’48, AM’51; Stuart Rice, the Frank P. Hixon distinguished service professor emeritus in chemistry, and University Marshal Lorna Straus, SM’60, PhD’62, former Dean of Students in the College, received Norman Maclean Faculty Award for their contributions to the student experience on campus; Saturday was a banner day for winners of the 2005 Alumni Awards.

Photos by Dan Dry.

Fair weather


Throngs of fairgoers descended on Hyde Park last weekend for the 58th annual 57th Street Art Fair. While on Saturday a mid-afternoon storm derailed activities for a spell, temperatures in the high 80s kept the crowds coming. Artists new to the fair set up shop on William H. Ray School grounds, and rows of identical white tents lined 57th Street, Kimbark Avenue, and 56th Street, housing more than 250 craftsmen and their wares: jewelry, wooden utensils, watercolors, stained glass, and photographs of mannequins and ballparks. A life-sized sculpture of a jester attracted many children in attendance.

Neighbors soaked up the sights and sounds from porches and stoops, and lines snaked from the Medici bakery and restaurant. Drawing even more interest were the food tents located on the east side of the William H. Ray School grounds, enticing passersby with ribs, Polish sausages, pad thai, and egg rolls. Lemonade and ice cream offered a respite from the June heat.

John Fitzgerald

King for a day

When a king comes to town, even VIPs pay attention. So it was Thursday when Jordan's King Abdullah II arrived to inaugurate a Harris School lecture series in his name. (Click here for Abdullah's remarks.) University President Don M. Randel, Harris School Dean Susan E. Mayer, and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley were all in attendance.

For security, the Oriental Institute shut down at 11 a.m. for the king's 11:30 address in the near-capacity auditorium. Guests were wanded as they entered—and became a captive audience until the event was over. What struck photographer Dan Dry, who had all-access clearance, was seeing "the Secret Service, the Jordanian police, the Chicago PD, and the U of C Police all working together."


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Photos (from left to right): King Abdullah II addresses the OI crowd; "I was educated in Boston," Abdullah tells Mayor Daley and President Randel; Board of Trustees Chair James Crown presents Abdullah with a proclamation; Secret Service keep the area secure.

Photos by Dan Dry.

How many MBAs does it take to fill a quad?

Convocation weekend concluded Sunday as the Graduate School of Business dispensed degrees to some 650 students. In my role as journalist, I arrived at Harper Quadrangle early, armed with tape recorder and notepad. But this was not to be an objective report. One MBA had this editor’s extra attention: my fiancé. And so I found myself jockeying unashamedly for the perfect picture—of him—as the procession drew near.

The only class to spend time at both the old and new Hyde Park quarters, the festivities made the most of the diverse locations. First against Harper’s Gothic backdrop, Harry Davis, the Roger L. & Rachel M. Goetz distinguished service professor of creative management, spoke on “Being Silly, Seriously,” and Credit Suisse First Boston Chief Executive Officer Brady Dougan, AB’81, MBA’82, on corporate leadership. Then, after each graduate’s name had its due, family and friends strolled over to the GSB’s Woodlawn Avenue digs for a swanky reception complete with champagne and appetizers in martini glasses.

I toasted my fiancé—and the University where I have worked since November 2003. We leave Chicago July 1 for Washington, D.C., with memories and MBA in tow.


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Photos (from left to right): Almost-MBAs listen to the convocation speakers; Dean Ted Snyder, AM'78, PhD'84, shakes The Fiance's hand; the swanky post-ceremony reception.

Photos by Dan Dry.

On the midway, in medias res

For the final production of its 50th anniversary year, Court Theatre chose a play that’s approaching its own half-century mark: Samuel Beckett’s Endgame premiered in 1957 at London’s Royal Court Theatre, performed in French as Fin de partie.

Set in a drab, half-underground room that shelters four characters—blind, wheelchair-bound Hamm; his servant Clove; and Hamm’s ancient father and mother, Nagg and Nell, who live, per Beckett’s directions, in garbage cans—Endgame has become synonymous with existential, Cold War despair. The current production, directed by Christopher Bayes, captures the disillusion while living up to its Court billing as “A Carnival of Laughter and Despair.”

Videotaped roller-coasters, a Ferris wheel’s circling lights, and tent-like canvas hangings set the midway mood. And, as Bayes plays up Beckett’s music-hall influences, Hamm (Allen Gilmore) performs as a vaudeville ham, Clove (Joe Faust) is his slapstick sidekick, and Nagg (Maury Cooper) and Nell (Roslyn Alexander) do burlesque bits.

After all, as Nell tells Nag, “Nothing is funnier than unhappiness.” But Nell’s next line rings even truer as the play moves toward its certain, uncertain conclusion: “Yes, yes, it's the most comical thing in the world. And we laugh, we laugh, with a will, in the beginning. But it's always the same thing. Yes, it's like the funny story we have heard too often, we still find it funny, but we don't laugh any more.”

At the end of Court’s Endgame, which runs through June 26, neither is the audience laughing any more.


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Photos (from left to right): Joe Foust as Clov and Allen Gilmore as Hamm; Roslyn Alexander as Nell and Joe Foust as Clov; Maury Cooper as Nagg and Roslyn Alexander as Nell.

Photos by Michael Brosilow

Bloomsday, yes


On Michigan Avenue near Adams yesterday afternoon, soaking up the ample sunlight, a stroller could bask unaware that this was a red-letter day for fans of modernist literature and friends of Ireland alike. Take an elevator up 22 floors to the Cliff Dwellers club, however, and there was no mistaking the festiveness and importance of June 16th. It was Bloomsday, of course—the day of both James Joyce’s first date with his future wife Nora Barnacle and the day his landmark novel Ulysses takes place, both in 1904. At Cliff Dwellers, as in cities the world over, dedicated Joyceans gathered “to read from and rejoice in this comic masterpiece,” in the words of emcee Steve Diedrich, whose popular Newberry Library course on the novel had several appreciative alumni in the audience.

Besides Diedrich, last night’s readers included Irish Consul General Charles Sheehan, the explosively funny actor and two-time Jeff Award winner Lawrence McCauley, and three University faculty and staff members. Before reading the novel’s first scene, Sheehan spoke about Joyce’s connections to the United States and Chicago. Though he never visited the U.S., Sheehan noted, Joyce deeply appreciated his supporters here, especially Judge John M. Woolsey, who lifted the ban on the book in 1933. Sheehan read from Woolsey’s decision, and when he finished with “Ulysses may, therefore, be admitted into the United States,” the room erupted in cheers.

The three readers with University ties are Chicago Bloomsday veterans. Claudia Traudt, AM'81, who teaches Ulysses in the Graham School’s Basic Program, set the crowd by turns guffawing and blushing with her ripe, ribald performance of the young seductress Gerty MacDowell. Cardiology professor Rory Childers, grandson of an Irish martyr and son of an Irish president, was the very voice of authenticity reading from the novel's “Ithaca” section. And development staff member Mary Nell Murphy brought the event to a poignant close with a strikingly musical, delicate Molly Bloom. Murphy emphasized the sweetness of the novel’s famous, breathless last pages, while not missing the humor: “…and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.”

Laura Demanski

Photos: Development staff member Mary Nell Murphy and writer/actor Kevin Grandfield; Graham School Ulysses teacher Claudia Traudt.

As the deans turn

The University will have some familiar faces in its top academic ranks for the foreseeable future.

The Divinity School’s Richard Rosengarten, AM’88, PhD’94, and Graduate School of Business’s Edward Snyder, AM’78, PhD'84, have both been appointed to second five-year terms, effective July 1. Rosengarten is working on three books. During his previous tenure, the Div School created the Chicago Forum on Pedagogy and the Study of Religion, a three-year forum of plenary talks, panel discussions, and graduate-student workshops. Snyder, the George Pratt Shultz professor of economics, also has kept busy, overseeing the GSB’s move to its new Hyde Park quarters. In addition to teaching and coediting the Journal of Law & Economics, he is a member of the energy and industrial group’s advisory board at Accenture and chairman of Huron Consulting Group’s academic council.

Across the Midway, Jeanne Marsh returns as dean of the School of Social Service Administration—she held the position from 1988 to 1998 and served as acting dean this past year. Marsh, the George Herbert Jones professor in the SSA, is a leading expert on developing and evaluating social services for children and families.


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Photos (from left to right): Rosengarten, Snyder, and Marsh.

Feats of clay

Standing before a glass case of rough, beige-colored bowls circa 7000 BC, Oriental Institute museum director Geoff Emberling begins his talk. “Early ceramic vessels were used for cooking grains.” Their introduction, he tells about 20 visitors on a tour of Chicago-area ceramics, correlates with agriculture’s growth and created “a human health disaster.” When people began eating “starchy, sugary grains,” he says, their teeth rotted. Over time, with less use, human teeth became smaller.

Emberling, over six feet tall with dark curly hair, talks and laughs with the group, mostly older women, as he ushers them to the next case—Mesopotamian pottery from 7000–3000 BC. The bowls and sherds here display painted patterns; artisans had begun employing a slow potter’s wheel, creating smoother, thinner vessels and decorating them with concentric circles. Next up: bevel-rimmed bowls, marked by knuckle and thumbprints that, Emberling says, “give you an instant connection to the past.” Found by the thousands, these 3500–2900 BC dishes “were used basically as paper plates” to feed the king’s many workers.

Traveling from Mesopotamia to the Mediterranean coast, the group views finds from Anatolia, or ancient Turkey. It’s “a very different kind of pottery,” Emberling notes, “handmade, red-burnished pottery.” Produced from 3000–1000 BC, the vessels feature spouts, handles, and “really beautiful forms.” Around 1000 BC, he says, pointing to pieces more brown than red, the color and shapes changed. A new people had come to the region—the Phrygians, known for King Midas, had migrated from the Balkans.

In the Persian gallery Emberling emphasizes the Iranian tradition. Dating to around 4000 BC, the thin, hand-made bowls and jugs are elaborately painted with abstract images of mountain goats or dancing figures. People had constructed kilns capable of firing at extremely hot temperatures. “The introduction of metallurgy just before this,” Emberling notes, “led to massive deforestation” as humans collected firewood. The land had been filled with trees but “soon got as barren as it is today.”

The OI tour finished, the group sets off to see the Smart Museum’s “Centers and Edges” exhibit, the Geophysical Sciences building’s Ruth Duckworth mural, and the Chicago Cultural Center’s Duckworth exhibit. “I learned so much,” gushes one woman, smiling at Emberling. “Art on the Move” director Joan Arenberg says, “Geoff has set the bar very high for today.”


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Photos (from left to right): Early glazed Mesopotamian pottery; Emberling shows off Iranian pottery; Emberling talks with visitors after the tour.

The Pearl was their oyster

The Little Black Pearl, sitting on an innocuous 47th Street corner, is an oasis of silence and cool air on a hot June day. The small, open gallery’s high ceilings and bright, echoey spaces complement Research and Development, a busy collection of pieces from this year’s crop of ten graduating MFA students.

Lined up to greet visitors are Michael Dinges’s engravings: everyday objects including a bucket and a PVC pipe, scratched over with political messages and precise drawings of iconic animals. Just beyond hovers Julia Oldham’s video installation, three televisions broadcasting time-lapse loops of the artist dancing and flapping to imitate a bee. Around the corner, Caroline Mak’s webs of unstrung crochet poke through sheetrock and wind around a garden hose, while across the way John Preus’s Narrative Generation System 1: Homezwarethartiz uses a desk fan to animate a hair ball and toy tractor. A discreet video camera projects passing images on a television, bringing the observer into the artwork.

Contributors also include Kate Baird, Ben King, Merry-Beth Noble, Tara Strickstein, Lindsey Walton, and David Wolf, AB’00. The exhibit closes Saturday with a 2:30 artists’ gallery talk.


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Photos (from left to right): Untitled by Caroline Mak; Rotations by Julia Oldham; Untitled, part of the Trench Art collection, by Michael Dinges.

Photos by Dan Dry.

Obama on call


Five television cameras and half a dozen reporters lined up in the Comer Children's Hospital lobby this morning to hear Illinois' junior senator, Barack Obama, promote federal legislation aimed at improving health information technology. Obama joined GOP Senator Bill Frist and Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton in introducing the bill June 16.

"Too much health care is still provided by pen and paper," said Obama, a former Law School lecturer, contributing to medical errors that kill up to 98,000 Americans each year. The proposed legislation would provide grants for local health-care providers to computerize medical records, and it would establish a national coordinator of health information technology to develop standards and make sure records are secure.

Obama listened while U of C officials touted the Hospitals' own technology plans. Hospitals CIO Eric Yablonka said Chicago already has begun a $70 million technology update. Next assistant professor of medicine Alex Lickerman, AB'88, MD'92, praised the legislation, noting that electronic medical records help "patient care keep up with scientific advancement," allow physicians to see what patients' other doctors have prescribed or diagnosed, and improve clinical research by keeping information in a database.

After Obama noted, for full disclosure's sake, that his wife works at the Hospitals (she's vice president for community affairs) and his two daughters were born there, he opened it up for questions. How, one reporter asked, would the legislation protect patient privacy? Does it provide enough money, another wondered, to do the job? Then, because they had the senator's attention, the journalists quizzed him on other news of the day: a potential new Supreme Court nominee, the Ten Commandments decision handed down this morning, the war in Iraq, and a state video-interrogation law.


Photos: Obama drew several local media outlets (top); Obama stands by as assistant professor of medicine Alex Lickerman hails electronic medical records (bottom).

Low-top culture


Got to get your hands on a copy of Kappa Alpha Theta’s 1999 sorority portrait, “including approximately 30 girls?” A trip to uchi.marketplace, where students buy and sell a slew of stuff, is in order. Perhaps you’ve got two Jimmy Buffett concert tickets you’d like to be rid of. Voila! Adrian on Marketplace is “willing to pay a lot” to catch “Cheeseburger in Paradise” at Wrigley Field in September.

Marketplace, “the product of insomnia,” was first introduced to the University by an undergraduate night owl in August 1999. In 2001 Marketplace became a joint venture between Student Government and Devon Ryan, AB’02, according to the site, which permits anyone with a University e-mail address to post wares.

Over the past six years Marketplace has grown to include hundreds of listings. Its users also have matured. One current seller has posted several pairs of low-top Converse All-Stars “from back when [he] was a hipster.” He’ll only relinquish his black, orange, red, aquamarine, brown, and pink low-tops, however, to a “worthy owner.”

Meredith Meyer, '06

Photo: This new Dunlop squash racquet has been for sale on Marketplace since June 26. The posting has been viewed 53 times by potential buyers.

They all scream...

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As temperatures rose above 90 degrees Wednesday, summertime undergrads flocked to the ice-cream truck dispensing free Good Humor bars at the edge of Hutch Courtyard just before noon. Under the shade of trees, and fanned by an occasional light breeze, the clump of students waiting for ice cream moved along briskly. After grabbing a chocolate éclair, strawberry shortcake, candy center crunch, toasted almond, or sundae bar, several students clustered in small groups, chatting.

By 12:25 supplies ran out. As Pars Ice Cream employee Roxanne started up the truck, someone called, “Are you coming back?” “In two weeks!” she replied, already on the move.

The free treats came courtesy of the Office of the Reynolds Club and Student Activities (ORCSA), CAPS, and the Alumni Association, whose Noontime Noise programs, featuring live music and free ice cream, are a part of Summer in the City, a series of events for students on campus this summer. Wednesday’s DJ, according to Katy Bologna, a rising second-year and ORCSA’s summer assistant programmer, left his records at home. By the time he returned to the DJ booth at 12:45, the event was over.

“Next time, I promise, there will be music right at 12,” Bologna said. “The DJ messing up is a one-time thing.” Most of the spectators seemed satisfied enough with the ice cream. As Maria Patterson, a rising third-year staying on campus to work in a physics lab, said, “I give it two thumbs up because I like free ice cream.”

Hana Yoo, '07

Happy birthday, improv


The Reynolds Club’s third-floor Frances X. Kinahan Theater was packed to its 137-person capacity at last night’s celebration of improvisational theater. Fifty years ago to the day, the Compass, a theater troupe cofounded by David Shepherd and Paul Sills, AB’51, staged the world’s first improv-theater performance in a bar, no longer in existence, at 1152 East 55th Street. Last night’s heat, oppressive despite the open windows, did little to dampen the audience’s laughing and clapping. Besides improv, the show included remarks by emcee Patrick Brennan of Chicago’s WNEP Theater, associate dean of the College Bill Michel, AB’92, University archivist Dan Meyer, AM’75, PhD’94, and Jonathan Pitts, the show’s producer and the Chicago Improv Festival’s executive director.

Meyer—quipping that if any evidence was needed that the event was a historical one, he was it—announced that Shepherd had donated his professional papers to the University archives in the Reg’s Special Collections. “Now we’ve got the goods,” he said. Pitts said he hoped to track down all the living original Compass Players for a reunion performance in November. Although 50 years is a long time for a human being, he said, “[improv] is still a very young art form. It’s still changing, it’s still growing.”

Undergrad improv group Off Off Campus, accompanied by guitarist Ben Lorch, AB’93, AM’04, recreated the Compass’s first performance. In the first act the players spoofed the present day’s news, including song and dance, and acted out a scene centering on a dysfunctional family. After a ten-minute intermission, Off Off returned with two-person scenes based on audience suggestions. Shepherd led a brief Q&A, followed by a reception in the Reynolds Club South Lounge featuring Glaceau vitamin water and a two-layer chocolate and vanilla cake.

Hana Yoo, '07

Photos: David Shepherd watches Off Off Campus rehearse for last night's show (top); The players enact the day's news (bottom).

Photos by Dan Dry

Sound buffet


Tucked away in the corner of Goodspeed Hall’s fourth floor, near practice rooms that echo scales and missed notes, sits a musty, church-like concert hall. Wooden beams trace the ceiling’s dramatic arch, black binders packed with scores line the walls, and 20 rows of red-upholstered stacking chairs sit before the stage. A quilted blanket is draped over a grand piano, occupying stage right. Positioned beside the piano, four music stands and black chairs are empty.

Empty, that is, until the four women of the Ardnamara String Quartet file in—a vision in black. As they tote their violins, viola, and cello across the stage to their seats, their high heels click against the wooden floor. Once situated, perched on the edge of their chairs, light streaming in from the window behind them, the quartet begins its performance, part of the Music Department’s noontime concert series. About 20 people enjoy the musical nourishment, including works by Haydn, Shostakovich, and Schubert. One auditor needs more tangible sustenance and eats his lunch during the show—a homemade sandwich housed in Tupperware.

Meredith Meyer, ’06

Photo: Louise Higgins, violin; Rebekah Cope, violin; Karen Schulz-Harmon, cello; and Susan Tanner, viola.

Artists ad astra

When Barbara Kern, Crerar’s science reference librarian, heard that John David Mooney—creator of the aluminum-and-crystal, 1984 Crystara sculpture suspended from the skylight of Crerar’s three-story atrium—would be in Chicago for Inspiration of Astronomical Phenoma, a late-June conference on astronomy and the arts, she and her colleagues quickly planned an exhibit exploring the same theme. One of four glass cases encompassing “They Saw Stars: Art and Astronomy” is devoted to Crystara, featuring a Chicago Tribune article praising the installation, photos of the artistic process, and other works by Mooney.

The three other cases in the exhibit, on display through September 1, feature works from 1066 to the present, such as Thomas Wright’s An original theory or new hypothesis of the universe, published in 1750; H.G. Wells’s 1906 science-fiction work In The Days of the Comet; and a 2004 handmade artist’s box including a telescope, paper depictions of several phases of the moon, and a working lunar clock, made by the Regenstein’s Digital Library Development Center codirector, Elisabeth Long.

Hana Yoo, ’07

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Images from the exhibit "They Saw Stars," courtesy the Crerar Library.

Swing kids


About 15 minutes into last night’s beginning swing class, the second in the Chicago Swing Dance Society’s six-week summer session, Adeoye M. Mabogunje, AB’04, told the seven females and three males circled around him in pairs, raising their arms as if embracing giant balls and clasping each other’s hands, to hug their partners. Flashing a wide smile, he explained that in swing, you have to touch your partner and feel comfortable with it. Throughout the lesson he and co-instructor Debra Raich, a “Chicago dancer at large,” emphasized the important connection between the lead and the follower. The follower, they said, should be constantly aware of the dance’s natural momentum, never moving without a signal from her lead—the gentle pressure of his hand between her shoulder blades, for instance, or the direction in which he propels his body. By the end of the lessons, a student should be able to swing dance with anyone.

As the novice dancers shimmied around the third-floor theater of Ida Noyes, both without music and to jazzy tunes from big-band CDs Swing America and Compact Jazz: Count Basie, rotating partners with each pause in the dance, Mabogunje clapped the rhythm, shouting out counts and names of moves. He and Raich gave tips such as how to hold one’s arms—like holding a grapefruit or pushing a shopping cart. Around 9 p.m., 45 minutes after the lesson was scheduled to end, the class disbanded, still bubbling with enthusiasm. The instructors encouraged the students to practice—and show off—their new moves at Friday’s Java Jive, a weekly three-hour swing fest preceded by a free one-hour lesson.

Hana Yoo, '07

Photo: Instructors Adeoye M. Mabogunje, AB’04, and Debra Raich.

One love evening


Under a generous splash of July evening sun, a colorful seven-man band sent its mellow melodies along the Midway, filling the now-dry ice rink with reggae sound. Attracted by the beat, dog walkers and soccer players wandered over to join the families, summer students, and neighborhood folks dotting the surrounding grass and filling the rickety bleachers across center ice from the stage. A score of kids pranced and wiggled along the rink’s edges, clutching popsicles provided gratis by the Chicago Park District, which cosponsors Reggae on the Midway, along with the University.

“We want to get all different types of music out here,” said Rick Shaheen, Park District supervisor, looking forward to future summer concerts of jazz, blues, and salsa. Wednesday’s show featured Chicago-based Toki Aks, which had the 250-plus crowd swaying to the rhythm. “I hope ya like ja music,” sang the band leader. “Reggae music. Ja music is the cure.”


Photos: Toki Aks jams on the Midway (top); A toddler feels the beat (bottom).

Importing history


Among the West Loop’s neglected warehouses and sidewalks, crunchy with broken beer bottles, grows a Japanese garden. Standing at 400 N. Morgan, it belongs to the Douglas Dawson Gallery, relocated last November from the more gentrified River North neighborhood, which was “losing its edge,” according to Wally Bowling, the gallery’s architect.

Inside, amidst a lacquered Burmese Buddha, a Peruvian urn from the Chancay tribe, and a Japanese armoire dating to 1875, the Smart Museum hosted its final event for this year’s Smart Set, a membership program intended to bring together gallery owners and Chicago alumni “who don’t know much about art but are curious and interested in collecting it,” said Katie Malmquist, manager of membership and annual giving at the Smart.

Owner Douglas Dawson put his audience at ease, explaining that he got into the business largely because he was “very uninterested in Western civilization and trying to avoid a real job.” Dawson encouraged the 45 alumni to ask him “anything you’ve always wanted to ask but have been too embarrassed to.” In response to one woman’s query about whether a slender statue was once part of a fertility ritual, Dawson replied, “The two main concerns of ancient art are fertility and ancestor worship. These cover 90 percent of the pieces.” But “this piece,” Dawson assured, “is not a vagina.”

Meredith Meyer, ’06

What women want


The idea came by chance to Agraja Sharma, a rising College fourth-year. While filing ledgers for her job at ORCSA, her eye fell upon an account that “wasn’t very active”: A Woman’s Guide to the University of Chicago, a compilation of resources for female students. Flipping through the publication, last released in 2000, Sharma decided to resuscitate the guide.

“I e-mailed all the girls I knew,” said Sharma, including Facebook friends and women who belonged to female-oriented Registered Student Organizations (RSO), like Sex Education Activists and Women and Youth Supporting Each Other. At spring quarter’s end, she assigned volunteers to the 17 chapters from the old guide, which covered issues such as substance abuse, nutrition and exercise, and sexual harassment. Sharma also added new chapters on minority women and women in academics. The group wants to “personalize [the guide] to the University of Chicago,” said Sharma, who found the old guide too general. Another goal, said Raedy Ping, a graduate student in psychology and one of the group’s five administrators, is to make the guide “more applicable to older students” than Chicago Life. They plan to update the Web site (wguide.uchicago.edu), which, Sharma said, will be revised frequently in the future, whereas a paper version of the guide—the first is due out this fall—will come out every two years.

Sharma hopes the revived guide will “build a platform for women’s issues,” providing both information and the opportunity to network with other women and related RSOs. The group is planning to become an RSO, throw a launch party in the fall featuring other female-oriented organizations, hold monthly brown-bag lunches with both students and faculty on women’s issues, and advertise both the guide and the Web site. For now, however, Sharma is excited that the woman’s guide has prompted other campus resources, like the Student Care Center, which had outdated links on its Web site, to update their information. “I can’t believe,” Sharma said, “we’re already making a difference on campus.”

Hana Yoo, ’07

Photo: Psychology grad student Raedy Ping and College fourth-years Agraja Sharma (with 2000 Women's Guide) and Jessica Lent.

Renaissance relationships

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Scholars often leave out the East when they write about the Italian Renaissance and too “narrowly divide” Christian and Islamic countries, argued Daniel Goffman in Pick Hall Tuesday. Goffman, AM‘77, PhD’85, who chairs the history department at DePaul University, claimed that the Ottomans and the Italians were much cozier than historians have suggested. In fact, Goffman contended, the “need for the Italian state to be flexible to the Ottoman Empire” was the “chief stimulant” of Renaissance-born diplomacy.

Scanning the crowd of graduate students and faculty, which nearly filled Lecture Hall 016, Goffman noted that he recognized “all but one or two” of the spectators, from the University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies and from a talk he gave earlier in the day. This afternoon event, he warned, would be “utterly formal” in contrast to his morning discussion. Goffman planned to read directly from his recent paper, “The Ottoman World in the Construction of the Early Modern State,” because, he joked, “I’m still not sure what I’m trying to say.” Despite that disclaimer, the attendees gripped their pens and, with the ferocity of September freshman, scrawled in their notebooks historical details about the Ottomans’ intimate relationship with Italy in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Meredith Meyer, '06

Photo: Daniel Goffman.

Take me out to the ballgame


Two yellow buses parked outside the Reynolds Club Saturday lurched forward shortly after 5 p.m., carrying a full cargo of College students to the 6:05 p.m. White SoxRed Sox game at U.S. Cellular Field. The Office of the Reynolds Club & Student Activities (ORCSA) organized the trip as part of its Summer in the City event series. Once the buses ground to a halt and rising second-year Katy Bologna, ORCSA’s summer assistant programmer, warned that they would leave at 10 p.m. regardless of when the game ended, the students scattered to find their seats, dotted throughout the stadium. Some paused to purchase cheese nachos, a 34-inch Rollin’ Red Super Rope, or funnel cake dusted with powdered sugar.

Although a surprisingly large Red Sox contingent attended the match, rising third-year Ben Zimmerman, on campus this summer for the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program in physics, said he favored neither team—“I’m a baseball fan,” he said. (Not such a fan that he stayed to watch the game’s outcome; in the fifth inning he ducked out for bubble tea at Joy Yee’s in Chinatown, accompanied by his girlfriend and two friends, arranging his own transportation back to Hyde Park.) In the end the Red Sox, who hold first place in the American League East, beat the AL-Central-leading White Sox 3–0.

Hana Yoo, '07

Read me

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“It’s four o’clock,” said Xenia Ruiz, glancing at her watch with a frown. Ruiz, a Chicagoan whose first novel, Choose Me (Walk Worthy Press), came out last month, was scheduled to do a reading and book signing at 4 p.m. this past Friday, but she waited half an hour for friends and family who were “stuck in traffic” to fill the little corner of the Ellis Avenue Barnes & Noble, where four brown couches and six folding chairs were set up. About a dozen audience members eventually trickled in, one bearing a bouquet of yellow roses and a bunch of balloons. Explaining that she had a sore throat and a cough, Ruiz read the prologue of her book in a soft, throaty voice.

During the question-and-answer period, Ruiz said, “I wanted to write an interracial love story.” Her novel follows Eva, a Latina who falls in love with Adam, an African American. In some ways, the book reflects her own life—Ruiz married an African American at 19 and had two college-age children by her 30s. Ruiz also drew inspiration for characters from people she knows. “I took tiny details,” she insisted. “The whole story was fiction.”

Ruiz’s second novel, In the Picture I Have Of You, which she completed years ago but was rejected by publishers, is due out next year as part of the two-book deal she received from Walk Worthy.

Hana Yoo, ’07

Copy cat

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A child’s car seat balances atop empty cardboard boxes in a corner of Beecher 310. A cubicle divider barely conceals a computer on the opposite side of the room. The musty-smelling space has no vials or brain charts posted on the walls. Yet it is in rooms like this that Bennett Bertenthal’s cognitive-psychology research team has spent the past three years testing how environment affects the way humans think and behave.

To begin each experiment, graduate student Matthew Longo, AM’04, asks his subject to fill out a survey judging her own capacity for empathy. Then the subject sits before a monitor and watches a computer-generated image of a hand press its index or middle finger down, alternating left and right hands, for about 30 minutes. Longo instructs the subject to press the “1” key with her index finger or the “3” key with her middle finger to indicate whether the computer’s depressed finger is on the left or the right side of the monitor. Later Longo will evaluate if the subject has accurately recorded right or left, or if she merely mimicked the simulated hand’s action. He and other researchers hope to quantify people’s propensity to “unconsciously imitate the behavior they observe” and possibly relate this data to the subject's self-reported ability to empathize with others.

At least 250 people have been tested so far, Longo estimates, using “at least 20 different variants” of the experiment. Last week the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance accepted an article on the tests, which demonstrated that people mimic behavior they observe. The team’s inquiries are not over; they will continue researching the topic “as long as it’s interesting,“ Longo says, and as long as it helps scientists “understand the way people think.”

Meredith Meyer, '06

Photo: Matthew Longo sits at the psych-experiment computer.

Poster girl


She stands in front of the Ellis Avenue Barnes & Noble each weekday morning, flanked by three friends and wearing a poster that covers much of her small frame. Her sign, in colored markers, reads, “God, Creator Of Heaven & Earth, Made You Breath-Takingly Beautiful. You Are His BELOVED.” From 8:30 to 9:30 she displays her sign; when the hour is up, she packs it into a large blue plastic bag and leaves. Rebecca Wei has to be on time for class.

For the past four weeks Wei, 16, a Naperville Central High School rising junior, has been commuting to campus for the Young Scholars Program, a free, intensive, four-week math workshop for Chicago-area seventh through twelfth graders. In the hour before classes start and from 2:30 to 4 p.m., Wei shoulders the poster. She got the idea from “the circumcision guy” who stations himself in front of the bookstore each afternoon. “I thought, well, if he can stand on a corner for something he believes in, so can I.” A member of a nondenominational church, Wei said that the poster idea “isn’t my church.” She and her friends “just thought it up.” In the afternoon she finds other campus spots because, she said, “I don’t care either way about circumcision. I don’t want to be associated with it.” Last week, for instance, she stood in the Regenstein Library lobby (she couldn’t enter without a University ID) for about half an hour before she was “kicked out.” She’s often parked at the bus stop in front of the Cancer Research Center.

“Some people are really encouraging and some people will, like, lower their eyes,” said David Chang, a Naperville Central rising sophomore who stands with Wei each morning. One person pulled a book out of his bag for “ten seconds” as he passed, avoiding eye contact. On the other hand, “We got a taxicab driver who wanted to shake our hands.” Although the poster’s purpose is evangelism, Wei said, one person thought it had to do with birth control.

Wei, who also attended the Young Scholars Program last year, will likely return next summer. If so, she said, “I will definitely do the poster thing.”

Hana Yoo, ’07

Photo: Poster-clad Rebecca Wei, fellow Naperville Central High School students David Chang and Emily Sheu, and seventh-grader Vincent Chang take a break in Cobb's coffeeshop.

Math buzz


“What’s purple and commutes?” Nathan Czuba, AB’05, asks his four boothmates, at Ida Noyes Pub. Joe Ochiltree, ’06, suddenly straightens up in his seat—he knows the answer but allows Czuba to release the punch line, “An abelian grape!” Interrupted by occasional trips to the bar for another pint, Czuba and Ochiltree keep their booth entertained with a series dueling math jokes.

It is the last Pub Night of the summer, and by 6:30 Arthur Lundberg, AB’04, the ORCSA coordinator of the event, runs out of tickets for free beer and pizza. Scanning the room, dimly lit by Miller Lite Tiffany-style lamps, Lundberg estimates that 150—200 people had already taken advantage of the give-aways. Students huddle in booths and crowd around the foosball, pool, and shuffleboard tables, devouring baskets of 20-piece buffalo wings and onion rings.

Around 6:45, back in the math booth, Czuba rounds off the math wit marathon with, “What is the contour integral around Western Europe?” He waits for a response, but no one has a guess. “Zero because all the Poles are in Eastern Europe,”Czuba declares. He reassures his table, “Its okay. I’m Polish.”

—Meredith Meyer, ’06

Under the Miller neon, ORSCA coordinator Arthur Lundberg surveys the scene; Joe Ochiltree awaits a punchline.

Movie circuit


A sign reading “Shhhh! Filming in progress” hangs on the entrance to the Max Palevsky Cinema lobby. Beyond the heavy wooden doors, Andy DeJohn, AM’03, talks through the staging of the next scene with his six-man crew. “I don’t think we need any more light in that area.” This is the first day of filming for his 25-minute Fire Escape film, La Chevelure, based on the 19th-century short story by Guy de Maupassant.

Five extras sit on the floor—knitting, reading Life magazine, and munching on challah bread; they wait their turn in front of the camera or their turn to go home. “Do you know what time it is?” an extra asks her friend. “Three hours left,” he responds, fishing a sweet from a Dunkin Donuts container. DeJohn, pacing up and down the lobby with a white terry-cloth towel in one hand and a bottle of water in the other, wipes the sweat from his brow and shouts, “Can I have the principal cast!” Three actors jump up and take their places. A half hour later, with the cameras, lights, audio, and actors adjusted, DeJohn calls, “Extras, pleeaaase!” The extras form a line in the lobby behind the principal actors. There is more adjustment. The actors and extras grow listless as the minutes tick away. Readjustment. Thirty minutes later filming begins, lasting five or so takes before the crew blows a fuse. The monitor and cameras go dark.

DeJohn takes the setback in stride. If things are “a little hectic” he isn’t worried, he says, because “they usually are on film sets.” He expects to continue shooting and editing through the summer and early fall and have “a finished product around beginning to mid-October.”

Meredith Meyer, ’06

Waiting for the shoot (top). Lights, camera, action (bottom).

Hiroshima remembered

Before Hiroshima Day 2005, a two-hour program in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombings, began this past Saturday, audience members promoted their own causes. As Chicagoland folk artist and activist Dave Martin strummed a tune from the chancel, another man roved the aisles, instructing people to make a phone call and five copies of a flyer claiming the United States is dumping uranium on Iraq. “Imagine having a child born without an eye because the United States dropped bombs on your country,” he said. A man wearing a gray “Free Tibet” T-shirt and toting a National Resources Defense Council Member carryall showed Addicted To War to those seated around him, explaining, “It’s designed like a comic book, but the historical content is deadly serious.”

During the ceremony, Chicago singer Maggie Brown regaled the crowd with Vaughn Monroe’s “When The Lights Go On Again,” the title song from the 1944 film, before a series of speakers took the stage. “We gather here today in remembrance,” said Reverend Laura Hollinger, Rockefeller’s associate dean. “We gather here today in repentance. We gather here today in sorrow. And we gather here in hope.” The speakers, drawing parallels between the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings and the ongoing Iraq war, emphasized the dangers of nuclear proliferation and warfare. David Cortright, president of the Fourth Freedom Forum and a fellow at Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, called nuclear weapons “instruments of terrorism,” warning that more than 40 nations have the full capacity to build them. “We’re here to renew our commitment to a world where Hiroshima and Nagasaki can happen never again,” said Illinois State Representative Barbara Flynn Currie, AB’68, AM’73. “The threat today is just as real as it was.”

The commemoration, organized by Illinois Peace Action, concluded with a march to Nuclear Energy, the Henry Moore sculpture marking the campus site of the first controlled self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. “You have come here to light a flame of hope and extinguish the flame of death,” said the Reverend Calvin Morris. Attendees dropped candles into a bucket of water, symbolically putting out the atomic flame.

Hana Yoo, ’07

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Photos (left to right): Folk singer Dave Martin; beginning the march to the Henry Moore sculpture; extinguishing the atomic flame.

Photos by Hana Yoo, ’07.

Tables of tapas


After the Spanish soft rock music stopped pouring through the speakers at Emilio’s Tapas, Alumni Association Executive Director Christine O’Neill Singer, X’72, reminded the dozens of students at the mixer, sponsored by the Alumni Association and the Office of Minority and Student Affairs (OMSA), about the “alumni community, waiting to welcome you with open arms.”

Scanning the room, where undergraduates coagulated in cliques around food tables, Ten Chu, a part-time student at the Graduate School of Business, was struck by the generation gap. “These guys are all kids to me.” Richard Tung agreed with his friend that the event had a different flavor than GSB functions. Juggling an Ambar beer in one hand and a chicken kabob in the other, Tung said, “At GSB events, parents are there with kids in strollers sometimes.” Chu noted another difference: “There are a greater number of professions here too.”

Career paths were on the minds of the event organizers and the 130 students and alumni who attended. Interspersed between tapas-stained napkins, brochures advertising the “14,000 alumni strong” Alumni Careers Network littered tables in the private dining room. Ana Vazquez, the OMSA director and deputy dean of students in the University, also reminded the group of the Chicago Multicultural Connection, a new alumni mentoring program for minority students.

Tung was not overly concerned with flexing his mentoring or networking muscles Thursday evening. “Have you tried this potato thing?” he asked. “It’s so good—I’ve been eating it all night.” He had more on his plate to think about.

Meredith Meyer, ’06

Night vision


A video of Faith Hill in concert lit up the movie screen outside Rosenwald Hall Tuesday night as Dashboard Confessional’s song “So Long Sweet Summer” filtered through the sound system. For students attending the quads premiere of The Incredibles, the summer quarter does not officially end until August 27, and for three boys waiting for the movie, time is measured not in seasons but in yards.

“It’s football time!” yelled a young boy in a blue Wizards jersey as he tossed the pigskin to his friend in a red jersey. “I’m the wide receiver. I’m the all-time best wide receiver,” he declared before establishing the boundaries of the field. “This tree to that post is ten yards.” Throwing his hands up in exasperation, the third boy—bespectacled with a mop of red hair—protested, “No, that’s too far!” Pointing to a sapling near University Avenue, the redhead adjusted the proposed yard line. "OK, OK! The movie is going to start soon. Let’s play football,” the Wizard acquiesced. Without further ado, he yelled a throaty “hike!” and tossed the ball in the air.

By 8:45 students began to gather benches from around the quads, making a semicircle facing the screen. The football players, fumbling by the dim light of lampposts, called it a night and hustled up to the corral of benches, blankets, and tiki torches, where 50 or so students had situated themselves. As the Rockefeller bells announced the arrival of the nine o’clock hour, Mr. Incredible appeared on the screen and a few last bikers rolled onto the quad staring straight ahead at the bright animation, like moths attracted to the light.

Students will have their sixth and final chance to catch an ORCSA-sponsored movie on the quad August 24, with a showing of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Meredith Meyer, ’06

Think it's easy to take a photograph of a night screening (top) of The Incredibles (bottom)? Think again.

A little lawn music


Alumni Association project coordinator Lisa Ballard stood at the western edge of Millenium Park’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion, holding a maroon “University of Chicago Alumni” banner and waiting for early arrivals. One hundred and one alumni had registered for the free, “family-friendly” event, Ballard said, including an 11-person group from Kankakee. Attendees swarmed the lawn for the Grant Park Orchestra’s 6:30 “American Romantics” concert, featuring music by Gershwin, Hailstork, Barber, and Hanson. Among them was Julie Burros, AB’86, Chicago’s director of cultural planning, who spearheaded the Wednesday evening get-together. “It was kind of natural for me to help organize this,” she said. Burros offered optional nametags to alumni trickling in: a family, carrying Subway sandwiches and sodas, who kicked off their shoes before sprawling on a green throw; a gray-haired couple who settled into their lawn chairs, one reading the paper while the other tackled a crossword; and another couple who lay down mid-concert on a yellow blanket, sharing a makeshift briefcase “pillow” and cradling cell phones.

After the last strains of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue faded away, David McNutt, MBA’04, president of Chicago-based db Integrated Systems, explained the pavilion’s sound systems—which he helped perfect—to the alumni encircling him, his words somewhat obscured by departing concert attendees. The speakers had been wired, McNutt said, so that wherever an audience member sat—from the front row of seats to the back of the lawn—the sound was the same, and so there was a real sound difference “outside” the open-air venue—say, on the concrete—and “inside.” The sun’s last rays struck the Frank Gehry–designed silver trellis as alumni gathered their belongings and left the pavilion.

Hana Yoo, ’07

Photo: Julie Burros and Alumni Association staffer Kimberly Masius hold the U of C sign (top); GSB alumni share a suitcase pillow (bottom).

Midwestern chic


Tucked into a booth below a flat-screen television featuring the Chicago Bandits against the New England Riptide, a flimsy paper sign with “U of C Alumni” scrawled across it designated the nerve center of the fourth young-alumni happy hour in as many months. Marc DeMoss, AB’03, and Erin Onsager, AB’03, manned a table watching for anyone who “looked U of C,” Onsager said. By 7:30 a group of alumni gathered upstairs at the downtown Rockit Bar, where exposed brick, exposed pipes, and exposed limbs provided the decor. “We don’t have the official U of C nametags because Erin left them at home,” DeMoss explained to David King, AM’04, one of the ten or so alumni who stopped by. DeMoss had gone to Kinko’s and bought tags with maroon borders before the event, and he asked each new arrival to sign in on a clipboard, which by the end of the night boasted Jacques Chirac as an attendee.

As alumni drifted to a nearby pool table, DeMoss took a break from meeting and greeting and sipped his $10 mojito. Frowning and looking down at his glass, he remarked, “It’s not very strong for how expensive it was.” Onsager shot back, “Well, this is no Jimmy’s.”

By popular request, the next alumni happy hour is slated for September 8 in Hyde Park—at Jimmy’s.

Meredith Meyer, ’06

Photo: DeMoss, Onsager, and their expensive drinks.

UT fever


Fanning herself with her hands under the bright ceiling lights in the Reynolds Club’s third-floor Frances X. Kinahan Theater, Hannah Kushnick, ’07, director of Noel Coward’s Hay Fever, notes that the play’s cast and crew have become very attached to the fan. Not an electric fan, but the giant Chinese fan suspended above the stage. Below it, an assortment of items—tennis rackets; a velvety couch; a wooden table; a gold-colored gramophone; two fringed ottomans; a headless, one-armed female statue; a white-and-blue vase bursting with colorful flowers atop an old piano; and a stand with wine bottles and glasses—fight for floor space.

Soon the lights go down and the stage comes alive in a flamboyant, frenetic performance of the British play about the eccentric Bliss family and their weekend houseguests. The nine student actors swerve from polite chitchat to soap-opera drama—marked by lighting changes to blue or red—in the blink of an eye, hamming it up with exaggerated facial expressions and gestures while hardly flubbing a line. The three acts are punctuated by two intermissions, featuring 1920s period music and an original tune by Dan Sefik, ’08, which he sang through paper tubes, called “Isn’t It Bliss?”

In summers past, the Music Department organized a Shakespeare festival, but it dwindled until a single play, performed by University Theater (UT) in Hutchinson Courtyard, remained. This year, because of money issues, staff turnover, and renovations of the Reynolds Club’s first- and third-floor theaters, the Shakespeare show went “on hiatus,” according to Kushnick and production manager Reid Aronson, ’06. That’s why Kushnick is directing Hay Fever, UT’s only summer 2005 production, now; she originally planned to propose it for the school year.

“It’s been a great experience,” says Kushnick, who laughed a great deal during Wednesday’s final dress rehearsal and says the actors “do a really good job of keeping it fresh and doing it differently every night.” She enjoys the more relaxed summer atmosphere. “Everyone doesn’t have homework and school tugging beneath them,” she says, “so we can just have a good time.”

Hay Fever opened Thursday night and has three more $2 performances: Friday and Saturday night at 8 p.m. and Friday of O-Week, September 24, at 3:30 p.m.

Hana Yoo, '07

Photo: Hay Fever’s cast dances off the stage after curtain call.

Photo by Brian Klein, ’07

U of C’s answer to the Facebook


If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg should be feeling mighty flattered right now. WhoUp, a student-made Web site reminiscent of the Facebook, sprang up this past year at the University. The original article is a wildly popular online network of college students, a bit like a continually updated yearbook. Users’ profiles feature a photo and information like the classes they’re taking, their musical tastes, and their relationship status. Aside from tweaking their profiles, students can browse other students from their school and request to add friends, acquaintances, crushes, or even strangers as their Facebook “friends.”

Anthony Pulice and George Michalopoulos, both AB’04, introduced WhoUp January 16. Besides browsing profiles—the Facebook, some students say, has become a de facto dating service—students can search for things to do at several different campuses in the site’s News and Events section, now in a summer lull. WhoUp strives “to pool campus resources in order to create one larger, more-informed, more connected campus,” its mission statement reads. Currently, users from five campuses other than Chicago—Northwestern, Michigan State, the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the University of Michigan—have registered.

Hana Yoo, ’07

Photo: WhoUp's Home page.

Scoring Chicago


The numbers are in and the word is out: U.S. News and World Report’s 2006 rankings of America’s best colleges have hit newsstands, ready to be seized by anxious swarms of college-bound high-schoolers and their parents. Dropping one spot from last year, the University tied with Brown for 15th among national universities. Harvard and Princeton came in first, while Chicago’s Evanston neighbor, Northwestern, ranked 12th.

U.S. News compiles data such as student-faculty ratios, alumni-giving rates, and acceptance rates from colleges and universities to determine their standings. Though the rankings have become a major part of the college-application process since their 1983 debut, many observers dismiss them as limited and deeply flawed.

Also this month, competing college-score guide Princeton Review rated Chicago the third best college library, 12th most politically active—and 14th most unpopular or nonexistent intercollegiate-sports program.

Hana Yoo, ’07

Photo: U.S. News's best-seller.

Rummage sale


The Magazine is cleaning out its basement and offering its found booty. Up for grabs is the coveted “How many University of Chicago students does it take to change a light bulb?” T-shirt—the souvenir of a February 2002 contest asking readers to provide the answer. Paul L. Sandberg, JD’82, MBA’82, sent the winning retort, depicted on the back of the shirt: “Quiet! We’re studying in the dark.” Unfortunately for petites, there are no smalls available. Medium, large, and X-large T-shirts can be yours for $8, including shipping and handling.

A less-limited supply of editor Mary Ruth Yoe’s favorite goody, sets of three robust University icon magnets, featuring the Chicago insignia, the “C,” and the ubiquitous gargoyle, are available for $6, including shipping and handling.

Please send a check to: University of Chicago Magazine
c/o Rummage Sale
5801 South Ellis Ave.
Chicago, IL 60637

Meredith Meyer, ’06

Photo: The winning T-shirt entry.

Chapbook and verse


The backroom of Danny’s Tavern, faintly lit by candles and a single lamp that looks like an estate sale find, appears split-pea-soup green. Shadows of the dozen or so lounging undergrads and thirty-somethings cast themselves upon the walls at the Poetry Center of Chicago’s fourth anniversary poetry reading. By the time Eric Elshtain, a PhD student in the University’s Committee on the History of Culture, takes to the microphone, donning sunglasses, the spectators have moved on to their second round of drinks and made themselves at home; a pack of Lucky Strikes, Drum rolling tobacco and papers, chapbooks, and pints of Newcastle and Guinness litter the tables. The third of four poets to read, Elshtain declares in verse, “I’m the one bent on magnum bonum city,” and offers his chapbook, “The Cheaper the Crook, The Gaudier the Patter,” for free “so as not to be undersold.”

Fellow Chicago PhD student Matthias Regan winds up the evening. He not only offers his chapbook, “Worktown, being a small region of the North American Labyrinth,” for free, but also promises the audience members a penny for each copy they take. Take they do, grabbing the shaggy-haired author’s booklets, including a poem whose narrator aspires to “buy a Rolls & get a / Nubian chauffeur in a / leopard-skin jockstrap & / hustle w/ all the lights on / & a cigarette-holder a mile long.”

The Poetry Center’s next reading is slated for September 21.

Meredith Meyer, ’06

Photo: Eric Elshtain takes the mic (top); Josh Baldwin, '06, and Sarah Hack enjoy the live verse (bottom).

Houses of cards

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David Barker, adjunct professor at the GSB, has researched the frequency of the term “housing bubble” in the headlines or leads of major newspapers. Pointing to a steeply inclined graph during a lecture last week, Barker explained, “After bouncing around at a couple of mentions a year from 1988 to 2002, it’s just taken off, and now, boy, everyone is writing articles about it. By the way, most of the articles are saying this housing bubble is about to pop.” He and fellow speaker Michael Munley, MBA’05, a business economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, believe recent concern over the housing market may be in part manufactured by the media.

Ninety-five curious University alumni packed into a basement auditorium at the Gleacher Center to hear Munley and Barker’s talk, “What Housing Bubble? Perspectives on the Shape of the Real Estate Market.” The economists offered cautious reassurance to homeowners and investors: “I don’t want you to think that I’m an ideological purist and that you can’t have a housing bubble because markets are perfect,” said Barker. “There have been times that asset markets have fallen apart. It does happen and it is worth thinking about and worrying about. The question is, is it going on now?”

Some local real-estate markets, he admitted, are out of whack—“when Florida cab drivers are talking to people about flipping condos,” it’s a sign that the converted-condo market in the Sunshine State might be inflated. The country’s strong marcroeconomic growth, good financing conditions, and ever real American dream, he and Manley argued, will sustain housing growth. Only a handful of what Barker referred to as “rogue economists” think otherwise. “However,” he offered, “if you still believe in a housing bubble, look for a decline in sales volume.” Historically, he explained, homeowners are reluctant to bail out on their sinking ship before a housing crash.

Meredith Meyer, ’06

Photo: Barker explains the bubble myth.

Better than hell


“Everyone has heard of hell,” quips a T-shirt comparing hell favorably to the University. Like many jests, it contains a grain of truth. “We know from multiple studies that we are relatively unknown,” Vice President for University Relations and Dean of College Enrollment Michael Behnke said at Wednesday’s town-hall meeting, “Telling the University’s Story: How We Attract Students and Educate the Public.” For instance, a McKinsey survey of top SAT-scoring high-school seniors found that while half were “knowledgeable” about Yale—meaning that they knew “a lot” or “a fair amount” about the school—and two percent had never heard of it, only 22 percent felt knowledgeable about Chicago. 14 percent were unaware of its existence.

Why is Chicago—with its plethora of Nobel laureates, prestigious programs, and a seventh-in-the-nation ranking for producing science and engineering PhDs—so little recognized? Its location in the Midwest, a “fly-over zone” for people on the coasts, and its name—long, not catchy, in its full form mistaken for the University of Illinois at Chicago and, when shortened to the U of C, confused with the Universities of Connecticut and California—may be partly to blame, along with its not being a Big Ten or Division I school. “We’re also unapologetically intellectual in an anti-intellectual country,” Behnke said, and “don’t cater to the rich and famous.” The lack of news coverage, he added, doesn’t help. A 2004 study of 20 major U.S. publications, conducted by Chicago PR firm Lipman Hearne, found 76 Chicago mentions, trailing Harvard at 302, Michigan at 160, and Yale at 111; moreover, 81 percent of University news coverage was in the Midwest. Behnke hopes to combat this lack of coverage by developing the University’s communications and long-range plans in four key areas: the re-bid for Argonne National Laboratory; urban education; the arts; and diversity.

Since 1997 Chicago—with Behnke leading the charge—has striven to attract more, high-quality applicants to the College via aggressive outreach and recruiting efforts, such as direct mailings to high-schoolers and the Collegiate Scholars Program. The results have been striking. Between 1998 and 2005, applications shot up 64 percent, with early-action applications increasing by 43 percent, and the average SAT score rose from 1349 to 1428. African American and Latino enrollment numbers remain low—54 and 94 for the incoming class, respectively—but increasing and retaining minority enrollees, Behnke emphasized, are a top priority.

Hana Yoo, ’07

Photos: Behnke and his survey results.

Chicago wonders


The University has faced many competitors over the years, but this summer it may have met its toughest rival yet: the Chicago hot dog. The source of the contest? A reader-selected list of Chicago’s seven wonders, currently in the works by the Chicago Tribune.

The Tribune received thousands of suggestions for Chicago’s seven wonders between August 11 and 16, culled the results for the top 14, and began publishing them Monday, August 22, in its Tempo section, unveiling a new candidate each weekday. The only restrictions were that the nominee not be a person, that it be in the Chicago metropolitan area, and that it currently exist. Besides the famous hot dog and the University, other contenders include Millenium Park, the Sears Tower, and the Chicago theater scene. The last nominee will appear on the Thursday Tempo’s front page, and voting will open to the public. The final list will be revealed September 15.

So get ready to vote Maroon—or mustard.

Hana Yoo, ’07

Photos: Hot dogs or life of the mind?

Cartoon vision

Nothing about the Columbia College Chicago’s brand-new A+D Gallery or its first exhibit, The Cartoonist’s Eye, looks rushed. The eclectic collection of comics—including works by artists such as Charles Schulz (“Peanuts”), Art Spiegelman (“Maus”), Dan Clowes (“Ghost World”), and the curator himself, Ivan Brunetti, AB’89, who created the exhibit as a preview of his Anthology of Graphic Fiction, due out in September 2006 by Yale University Press—neatly lines the white walls or lies atop white blocks scattered throughout the gallery.

Yet the paint had been drying for only five hours by the time the gallery kicked off last night’s free opening reception. “The dry walls were sanded today and constructed just two days ago,” said gallery director Jennifer Murray, stopping briefly to talk as she threaded her way through the bustling crowd, meeting and greeting patrons. The gallery, affiliated with Columbia College’s Department of Art and Design, relocated to 619 South Wabash Avenue from 72 East 11th Street at July’s end. When Murray and her team arrived, the gallery office lacked a phone, an Internet connection, and furniture. Moving in and preparing an exhibit at the same time, especially an exhibit that had “not a lot of framed work,” Murray said, proved a challenge.

As curator, Brunetti selected the art, said Columbia College senior and photography major Sara Pooley, restocking the refreshments. The gallery team helped out with “errands” like hanging pictures and getting the glass for the frames cut. “It was a very small team for a lot of work,” she said, “but it all came together in the end.” At 6:30 the team got a break, as the crowd moved next door for “Brief Stories about Cartooning,” a lecture by cartoonist Seth—a.k.a. Gregory Gallant.

Hana Yoo, '07

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Photos (left to right): Outside the gallery; An Art Spiegelman work; A Peanuts sample.

Nichols’ nickelodeon

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From a makeshift stage in Nichols Park, Kathy Cowan’s soprano echoed down 53rd Street Sunday evening. The traditional Irish love songs she sang, accompanied by friend David Richards on keyboard, lured about 40 Hyde Parkers to the final concert in the “4th on 53rd Sunday Concert series,” hosted by the Nichols Park Advisory Council and WHPK, the University of Chicago’s radio station. Young families chasing after children, students picnicking, and several adults drinking beer out of bottles wrapped in plastic bags dotted the lawn.

Sprinklers watering the grass to her left, Cowan encouraged her audience “on this not-as-hot-as-we-thought-it-was-going-to-be day” to sing along with the chorus. “The only tricky part is you have to have a good short-term memory,” she forewarned. Though few voices rose to the challenge, Cowan’s melody did inspire two tykes to march in lockstep near the stage.

Named for its starting date—the Sunday after July 4—the series this year hosted a variety of genres, including blues, rock, reggae, and traditional Celtic tunes, as well as a performance of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream by GroundUp Theater.

Meredith Meyer, ’06

Photo: Cowan and Richards (top). Crowd members listen (bottom).

The OI is watching you

Unbeknownst to them, visitors to the Oriental Institute exhibition Empires of the Fertile Crescent: Ancient Assyria, Anatolia, and Israel, which opened in the museum’s east wing this past January, were being followed—and carefully watched. That’s because the OI hired an exhibit evaluator to trail visitors and make note of where they stopped to give displays a closer look. “The single thing that everybody seemed to see and stop and notice,” said OI Museum Director Geoff Emberling during yesterday’s lecture- and tour-filled Day of Discovery, was a text panel discussing the Israelites’ true origins. Because the controversial topic drew such interest, Emberling said, “we have been thinking that we want to, whenever possible, present areas of active debate within the field.” The evaluator also encouraged the museum to make the labels, which often include scholarly references, more general-reader friendly.

The evaluation is just one part of the museum’s initiative to critique its attempts at public accessibility. Since James Henry Breasted founded the Oriental Institute in 1919, “the museum has had an evolving role with the institute,” Emberling said, originating as “a tool for scholars.” Though the museum was open to the public in those early days, it was far from welcoming, lacking docents or helpful labels to explain the artifacts’ context. Now the museum hands out surveys and holds focus groups. “We’re really very interested in your comments,” Emberling told the Breasted Hall audience.

Yesterday’s Day of Discovery, planned in conjunction with the Boston-based, educational and travel-oriented nonprofit Elderhostel, also included a tour of the gallery, lunch at the Quadrangle Club, and a lecture on the Dead Sea Scrolls by Norman Golb, the University’s Ludwig Rosenberger professor of Jewish history. Another Day of Discovery is planned for Friday. Because of space constraints at the Quad Club, both events were limited to 90 people, and both days “filled up very quickly,” said Museum Education Program Director Carole Krucoff. “There was a waiting list, in fact.”

Hana Yoo, ’07

IMG_5278_thumb.jpg IMG_5261_thumb.jpg IMG_5280_thumb.jpg

Photos (left to right): The controversial panel, Emberling, and Krucoff.

Scaling Jacob's ladder


“There are at least seven problems and ambiguities in the first paragraph alone,” pointed out James Robinson, assistant professor of the history of Judaism in the Divinity School, at last night’s quarterly Conversations in Divinity series. Fortunately for Robinson’s audience of 40, these comments described not a half-baked term paper but the biblical text of the Jacob’s ladder story. Tucked away on the fifth floor of the Chicago Cultural Center, the crowd of faculty members, graduate students, and other curious attendees listened attentively as Robinson explained how medieval philosophers used the ambiguities of the ladder motif to investigate and expound their own worldviews. Take, for example, Jacob’s vision of the “angels of God ascending and descending” [Genesis 28:12] the ladder. Between 1191 and 1492, the Jewish Middle Ages, Robinson said, this passage raised intense debate about why divine beings would return to earth after ascending to heaven. Some scholars interpreted the angels’ descent as a political lesson in social responsibility—having known God, one should return to earth to impart a newfound wisdom. Others said the angels were symbols of the human mind returning from heaven to introduce God’s grace to the world.

Unlike many contemporary English translations that aim to eliminate such discrepancies, medieval philosophers, noted Robinson, “considered textual ambiguities an opportunity, not a problem.” By grounding themselves in a single biblical text, he explained, they could “create a common language” to frame their arguments. Particularly influential in the debate was philosopher Moses Maimonides, whose Guide of the Perplexed gave a detailed exegesis of the story, and, as Robinson explained, helped set up the ladder motif as a “strategic research site” for scholars to explore new ideas.

One of the most interesting aspects of these interpretations, he noted, is that each philosopher tended to read the motif in accordance with his known ideological background. Such an approach, Robinson emphasized, differs greatly from modern biblical studies, where scientifically minded thinkers aim to eliminate any trace of personal bias from their interpretations. Do they really accomplish this, he asked, or do scholars inadvertently read their own contemporary viewpoints into the text? A historian at heart, he declined to give a definitive answer. After all, Robinson concluded, “we won’t be able to answer this question for a good two or three hundred years.”


Photo: James Robinson.

Putting the I in O-Week


Nina Chihambakwe, ’07, still remembers her own Chicago orientation. She scheduled her 27-hour flight from Zimbabwe, with stops at Amsterdam, Capetown, and Detroit, to arrive on Saturday, the first day of O-Week. Because of bad weather, she missed a connecting flight and arrived on campus a day late, missing registration for placement tests. To top it off, “all my luggage got lost,” she recalls. “I didn’t get [my bags] for another week and a half.” Disoriented and homesick, “I was jetlagged all of O-Week,” she says. “I didn’t take anything in.”

That’s why Chihambakwe opted to help with the College’s first international student pre-orientation, an optional $140 program that took place last Wednesday through Friday. The program included events such as a bus tour of Hyde Park; a lecture on plagiarism by political-science professor Charles Lipson from his book, Doing Honest Work in College; dinner and an ImprovOlympic performance downtown; and a shopping excursion to Target. The students also received a goody bag and an international student directory. Two paid graduate student assistants, four undergraduate volunteers, and 42 of this year’s 91 international students stayed in the Stony Island residence hall for three days before they moved into their permanent residence halls on Saturday. “I haven’t studied in the U.S. before,” says Frances Tong of Hong Kong, who spent 16 hours on a plane to get to Chicago. “I thought [the program] would help me to know a bit more about education in the United States, to know what social life is like.”

“We got a great response, and we’re really delighted,” says College adviser Barbara Miner, who conceived the program “based on focus groups we’ve held for the last two years with international students.” Miner hopes to continue the program with quarterly events: possibilities include coffee hours with faculty and staff or “American” outings to a baseball game, dinner, the theater, or a bowling alley. As for the pre-orientation, she says, “it’s going to be a really important part of orientation” from now on.

—Hana Yoo, ’07

Photos: A welcome sign greets international students (top). Taking time to pose for the photographer (bottom).

One way to conquer writer’s block


After 9/11, Jane Smiley developed a serious case of writer’s block. “I found myself unable,” the 1992 Pulitzer-Prize winner said at last night’s Seminary Co-op book talk, “to go on writing my dry little novel about deregulation.” She retreated to her room and the solace of reading books as distant as possible in time and place from the contemporary horrors. But instead of finding the escape from reality she had hoped for, Smiley said, “I began to see that these books, as old as they were, were relevant” to today’s world.

Beginning with The Tale of Genji, Smiley eventually read 100 fictional works, including Icelandic sagas, Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, and Toni Morrison’s Beloved, and turned the project into her 12th and latest novel, Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel (Knopf). In the meantime she finished Good Faith (Knopf, 2003), the book she’d left in the lurch. All that reading “charged me up,” Smiley said. “It made me want to read more and more. I came away thinking, what can I read now?” It also made her realize that “there’s no greatest novel,” she said. “There are no greater novels. There are only novels that you like or don’t like, novels that you feel a kinship with” or don’t. Her experiences sparked a desire to try new things with her writing, such as “lingering” more on descriptions of people and scenes. “I won’t always feel the plot nudging me from behind, saying, ‘Move, move, move,’” she said, adding that the true test of what she’s learned will be her next novel.

After the Q&A session, which Smiley called her “favorite part” of a book talk, urging the audience to help her “more fully bake” the “half-baked” ideas in Thirteen Ways, she finished with an excerpt. “It’s worth knowing that serious thoughts are being thought, and also that serious fun is being made of fools everywhere,” Smiley read. “It’s also worth knowing, in dangerous times, that dangers have come and gone and we still have these books.”

Hana Yoo, '07

Photo: Jane Smiley

Dancing with Beckett


“Hamza, could we get some fans in here?” a woman in a sheer black top, with a black bra underneath, asked the Renaissance Society curator, Hamza Walker, AB’88. Murmurs of agreement echoed through Cobb Hall’s film studies theater, packed with art connoisseurs and students fresh from viewing the museum’s newly opened exhibit, Failure is an Option.

The exhibit—a five-screen video installation and related drawings—features the videography of Berlin-based artist Peter Welz, who filmed the actions of choreographer William Forsythe. Welz, who considers himself primarily a figure sculptor, outfitted Forsythe with cameras at various angles to trace his movement from different perspectives. Welz titled the piece whenever on on nohow on, a line from Samuel Beckett’s Worstward Ho and reference to the artists’ shared appreciation for the writer.

Welz, with rolled-up sleeves and cuffed jeans, emphasized his interest in “reduction” and “figures moving in space.” For Walker, however, Welz’s work was an occasion to intellectualize about modernity, “the dead horse I just love beating,” he said, laughing. Walker asked, “At what point does modernity begin to take shape?” He noted that modernity is often considered “a distinct historical epic,” so that modern dance “is spoken of as a break from ballet.” Yet for Forsythe, modern dance includes ballet because ballet provides a “framework for movement.”

As Walker and Welz discussed their differing perspectives, an audience member called out to Walker, “I think you’re overintellectualizing it.” To which he responded, “That’s what I’m paid to do.”

The exhibit runs through October 30, and the museum will host “a barrage of concerts”—five remaining—for its duration.

—Meredith Meyer, ’06

Photo: Artist Peter Welz listens as his work is interpreted.

O-Week excursion


Tuesday afternoon, as part of Orientation Week, five first-years and their O-Week aide trekked downtown to take advantage of the Art Institute of Chicago’s free-admission day. The plan was to give the first-years a break from their adviser appointments, Chicago Life Meetings, and placement tests, and to teach them how to use the city’s public transportation to explore neighborhoods beyond Hyde Park. That last goal was made more complete by a 25-minute wait for the 55 bus outside Pierce Tower.

When the students arrived at the Art Institute via the Green Line, they split up to see different exhibitions. Those who didn’t have to return to campus for another meeting later found one another in the lower-level photography galleries, observing A View with a Room: Abelardo Morell’s Camera Obscura Photographs. The premise of the exhibit is that any room can be used as a camera obscura (Latin for “dark room”), or any light-tight chamber with a small hole, through which external light can enter. Photographer Abelardo Morell converts rooms into camera obscuras by darkening the windows and creating a small hole in one. The scene outside becomes inversely projected in the interior, across whatever is inside the room. Thus viewers can see upside-down images of the Empire State Building, for example, made curvy by upholstery or bedsheet wrinkles—an effect captivating enough to charge the first-years’ El-ride conversation all the way back to Hyde Park.

Elizabeth Goetz, ’08

Photo: In front of the Art Institute.

Fairly organized


It looked as if a small refugee camp had sprung up in Henry Crown Fieldhouse by 3 p.m. Sunday. Forced inside by the rain, the annual Registered Student Organizations Fair—normally held on North Field—set up in the gymnasium, where rows of tables representing more than 250 clubs filled the space under the glare of orange lights and basketball hoops.

As students promenaded through the maze of tables, grabbing free T-shirts, mugs, and candy from the clubs in their path, club members attempted to sell their organizations, tucking fluorescent flyers into students’ already laden arms and goading them to add their e-mail addresses to sign-up sheets.

One first-year girl, bedecked in a Class of 2009 T-shirt and dizzy with the assortment of activities, including the Squash Club, Russian choir, Society for Creative Anachronism, and University Ballet, remarked, “I’ve been here for 20 minutes and I’ve already signed up for about a billion listhosts.”

Meredith Meyer, ’06

Photos: So many RSOs, so little time...

Chicago mourned


In the second memorial service for Saul Bellow, X’39, who died April 5, friends, family members, colleagues, students, and admirers gathered Tuesday afternoon in the city he had made his own, at the University’s Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. Eight speakers recalled Bellow’s life and work, alternating with Lyric Opera musicians who captivated the crowd with some of Bellow’s favorite pieces.

Some speakers focused on Bellow the man. Chanting the 23rd Psalm in the traditional Hebrew, Rabbi William Hamilton began the service, he said, “in the simple manner Saul would have wanted.” Son Gregory Bellow, AB’66, AM’68, discussed his father’s tenures at the University, as both student and teacher, “engaged with fine minds” and confronting “tough questions.” Friend Eugene Kennedy, an author and professor emeritus of psychology at Loyola University in Chicago, recalled Bellow’s irrepressible sense of humor. One New Year’s Eve Bellow came home to find his wife had left him. She had marked all of their belongings with round stickers—a blue dot on his possessions, a yellow one on hers. Bellow told Kennedy, “I guess she just went dotty.”

Others highlighted Bellow’s professional triumphs: professor emeritus in the Committee on Social Thought, he had won the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, three National Book Awards, and a Presidential medal. In 1989, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley said, Bellow “stole the show at my first inauguration.” The man who began The Adventures of Augie March “I am an American, Chicago born,” Daley said, “understood Chicago like no one else.” Neither friend nor family member, Jeffrey Eugenides, who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Middlesex, noted his connection to Bellow as “the only person here who moved to Chicago entirely because of Saul Bellow. I came because of Herzog and Augie March and Humboldt’s Gift.”

And Richard Stern, Bellow’s friend and the Helen A. Regenstein professor emeritus of English and American Language and Literature, recalled that after reading a draft of Humboldt’s Gift, he had lunch with Bellow and told him, “I can hardly believe you wrote this.” What he meant, he said Tuesday, was “I could hardly believe such a wonderful creation could come from someone with whom I was having a hamburger.”


Photos: As Rabbi Hamilton speaks, Mayor Daley, Gregory Bellow, Jeff Eugenides, Richard Stern, former student James Cohn, and Eugene Kennedy wait their turns (top). The audience listens as Lyric Opera soprano Susanna Phillips, accompanied by Alan Darling on piano, performs. (bottom).

Photos by Dan Dry.

Smart markets


“Munch away,” Saul Levmore, dean and William B. Graham professor in the Law School, directed the audience in packed Classroom II. As law students and faculty chomped on turkey and portobello sandwiches last Thursday, Levmore set out to dethrone experts in the first lecture of the fourth annual Chicago’s Best Ideas series. He offered an array of anecdotes suggesting experts might not be any more knowledgeable than the average joe—or at least than a group of average joes participating in a prediction market.

In prediction markets, participants bet on the likelihood of an event happening, such as a Democrat or Republican being elected to office. The participants purchase either the Democratic or Republican stock, according to their predicted winner, and in so doing raise the stock’s price. The market prices are then taken as the group’s aggregate forecast. For example, if the Democrat’s stock goes for $30 per share and the Republican’s stock commands only $10 per share, the participants predict a Democratic victory. Levmore pointed to the Iowa Electronics Market, which operates in this fashion and has become “famous for predicting political elections with an accuracy not matched” by polls or columnists. Likewise, “futures market for oranges,” he said, “are a better indicator of the weather than the National Weather Service.”

Corporations have taken notice of these markets. In the past, when Hewlett-Packard introduced a new printer, the company asked regional sales managers to determine how many factories should be converted to produce it. In 1996 the company piloted a Web site where employees predicted sales and won prizes for their accuracy. The resulting internal predictions market was so on target, Levmore said, that HP has “ditched” its regional sales predictors. These markets work, he said, because if there is incentive enough—be it money or bragging rights—individuals will bone up on printer sales, politics, or orange growth, and their aggregate knowledge is as good as gold.

Meredith Meyer, ’06

Photo: Saul Levmore

Medici’s main squeeze


Many restaurants advertise all-you-can-eat deals. But how about “all you can squeeze”? Every weekend Medici on 57th offers infinite refills of fresh-squeezed orange juice for $2 a glass. The only catch—or the best part, depending on one’s perspective—is that patrons squeeze all their own oranges, and “you have to squeeze quite a number of them to get a glass,” says assistant manager Mattie Pool. From 9 a.m., when the restaurant opens, to 2 p.m., when brunch ends, Medici typically goes through 200 to 250 oranges, with at least 100 people lining up for their turn at the squeezers.

It all started in the 1960s, says manager Kim Hayward, as the brainchild of owner Hans Morsbach, MBA’61, a bona fide devotee of fresh-squeezed orange juice. Hayward remembers when the regular menu included the deal and the waitstaff had to bring the squeezer and oranges to people’s tables. She also remembers when the Medici purchased their produce “a couple times a week” and ran out of oranges “by Sunday, frequently.” There’s been no shortage of oranges, Hayward says, since the restaurant set up an account with Hyde Park Produce about ten years ago. Now the Med purchases the oranges fresh, by the box, each Saturday and Sunday. The staff cuts the oranges into halves and places them into a large glass container between two squeezers. Though the tradition remains “really popular,” says Pool, the supply never runs out.

Hana Yoo, ’07

The jaws of juice (top) turn orange halves into glasses of OJ (bottom) at the Med.

Veteran advice


“It’s nice to hear that people do struggle,” said College third-year Christina Socias at last night’s Collegiate Mentoring Program (CMP) welcome dinner, “that not everything is perfect. It makes you feel like you’re OK.” Socias is a returning participant in CMP, a diversity-mentoring program that pairs undergraduates with graduate and professional-school students. Mentors and mentees meet at least once a week, said College senior adviser Elise LaRose, CMP’s founder and director, to talk, watch movies, catch a concert—or, in one case, visit a cadaver lab, which inspired that mentee to drop his pre-med aspirations. The program’s goal, LaRose told the students clustered around tables in Ida Noyes’s first-floor library, is “to help you have the most satisfying and successful experience possible—as you define success.”

When LaRose started the program in February 2003, she said later, she imagined it would be “more centralized,” with lots of group activities. But she found that students mainly wanted “to do their own thing,” spending one-on-one time with their mentors. For the most part, she said, “it’s really clear that students love their mentors.” In a Spring 2004 survey of 62 mentees, only four disliked their mentors, and none had approached LaRose to change their assignments. About 60 to 80 undergraduates participate in the program—the number fluctuates as students join and drop out during the year—and interest usually spikes after winter break, when fall-quarter grades have come in and, LaRose said, “the honeymoon is over.” Mentors typically work with two to four mentees and make $15 an hour. She pays them because “graduate students are generally poor,” she said, and as an incentive to attract the best grad students. Though the program is advertised as a “diversity-mentoring program,” anyone can sign up.

“This is from the outside, because I didn’t go to undergrad here, but from what I hear, [Chicago] can be an intense, depressive environment,” said third-year law student Linda Boachie, who mentored two students last year. “It’s good to talk things over with someone a little bit older who’s not a parent or teacher.” That’s what attracted first-year Sana Suh to the dinner. “I’m uncertain about what I’m going to do for the next four years,” Suh said, “and beyond that I want someone to talk to about how to manage my time and how to get into grad school” with someone “who’s actually been through the school.”

Hana Yoo, ’07

Photo: Mentors and mentees eat in Ida Noyes.

Green house


With his ParaSITEs—tentlike structures attached to building vents, inflated and heated by the warm air the vents give off—Michael Rakowitz works with the homeless to create art. In 1998 he began the ongoing project by collaborating with a handful of homeless people in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to custom design seven of these portable homes. Aside from a few ParaSITEs made of vinyl and nylon, most of them are composed of plastic bags and packaging tape. One inhabitant, Bill Stone, returned his ParaSITE to Rakowitz when he no longer needed it. Still dirty and stained from its time on the streets, it now sits in the Smart Museum as part of the exhibition Beyond Green: Toward a Sustainable Art. On the wall behind Stone’s temporary shelter are a slide show about the project, sketches of other ParaSITEs, and a ParaSITE kit.

Beyond Green, which opened last Thursday, includes works by 13 artists and groups from the United States and Europe contemplating the idea of sustainable art. For many of the artists, sustainable art “must also be convenient, or aesthetically pleasing,” said docent Emily Warner, a fourth-year art-history major in the College, leading a tour group of about a half-dozen visitors Sunday. For instance, the artist collaborative JAM has produced a line of handmade, earth-friendly, cloth and leather handbags equipped with flexible solar panels, so consumers can charge small electronics such as cell phones and iPods while walking down the street. Soon JAM hopes to offer the handbags for sale. Another artist, Kevin Kaempf of People Powered, has developed both compost “tea packs”—bags of decayed organic matter made from kitchen and yard waste—and a palette of paints made from mixing together friends’, neighbors’, and strangers’ waste paints that otherwise would have been discarded.

Though exploring solutions to social problems, Warner said, the artists often see their job as raising questions and issues. Rakowitz, for instance, includes the following disclaimer as part of his ParaSITEs display: “This project does not present itself as a solution. It is not a proposal for affordable housing. Its point of departure is to present a symbolic strategy of survival for homeless existence within the city, amplifying the problematic relationship between those who have homes and those who do not have homes.”

Hana Yoo, ’07

Photos: A ParaSITE (top) and the handy handbags (bottom).

Hibernian humor


Almost as soon as he took the podium in the Swift Common Room, Rory Childers—a Chicago cardiology professor, electrocardiogram expert, and native Irishman—had a packed house of students, faculty, and friends laughing out loud. “Irish hilarity involves a mix of graveyard humor, mockery, the celebration of calamity, the farcical, the knockabout, curses and spells, satanic laughter, the profane and the sacred, mendaciousness, roguish ineptitude, gaudy, exuberant invective, and wit honed to a fine art,” Childers said at the Divinity School’s Wednesday Lunch series. In the face of such a litany, he admonished his audience not to be squeamish. “A strong anticlerical vein permeates much of the comic in Irish writing,” he warned. “Language is often outrageous, even ludicrous—the verbal equivalent of the gargoyle.”

Apart from his life as the man Chicago medical students know as “the EKG guy,” Childers is the grandson of Robert Erskine Childers, an Irish writer and patriot executed in 1922 during the Irish Civil War, and the son of Erskine Hamilton Childers, the Republic of Ireland’s fourth president. (On Monday Ireland celebrated his birth centennial by releasing a postage stamp bearing his portrait).

At last Wednesday’s lunchtime talk, Rory Childers delivered an hour’s worth of bawdy anecdotes, rhymes, and one-liners from the likes of Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, James Joyce, poet James Stephens, and playwright Brendan Behan, who was once Childers’s patient. “Towards the end of his life, Brendan Behan had clearly become a type of stage Irishman, simply because the requisite shocking speech was expected of him,” Childers said. “On his deathbed he took the hand of the nun who was nursing him. ‘Bless you sister! May all your sons be bishops.’”

Lest any Swift Hall listeners think Ireland’s wit was purely the province of its literati, Childers offered plenty of boisterous waggery handed down through generations of ordinary citizens. Most every statue in central Dublin now has its own ribald—and rhyming—nickname. Monuments to Anna Liffy (the city’s main river), Molly Malone, Dublin’s waterways, a millennial clock, and two women shoppers have been rechristened, respectively: the floozy in the Jacuzzi, the tart with the cart, the box in the docks, the chime in the slime, and the hags with the bags. Meanwhile, locals are calling a new statue of Joyce seated on a bench “the prick with the shtick.”


Photo: Rory Childers

Prison break


You can walk into the Court Theatre production of Man of La Mancha knowing the 1966 Tony Award–winning musical inside out—able to sing along to the lyrics not only of “Impossible Dream” but also “Dulcinea,” “I’m Only Thinking of Him,” and even “Golden Helmet of Mambrino”—and still get caught up in the story.

It helps that the story is one of the best, a retelling of Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote. A play within a play, the musical is also a play within a prison, as Cervantes and his manservant await their fate during the Spanish Inquisition. Both Charles Newell’s direction and Josh Culbert’s set, a multitiered affair that suggests the seven circles of hell, underscore a storyteller’s power to open an audience to new possibilities and connections.

The music remains as stirring as the message, as the three lead characters sing their hearts out in tripartite performances. Herbert Perry plays Cervantes; acting out a story to save his manuscript from being destroyed by his fellow prisoners, Cervantes assumes the role of Alonso Quijana, an idealist who would prefer to be the great knight Don Quixote. Neil Friedman waxes comic and appealing as Cervantes’s manservant, who also plays Quijana’s manservant and Quixote’s squire, Sancho Panza. As the half-mad prisoner Escalante, Hollis Resnick plays the less-than-virginal servant Aldonza, transformed by Quixote into his own fair lady, Dulcinea.

Man of La Mancha runs Wednesday to Sunday through November 6.


Photos by Michael Brosilow: Neil Friedman as Sancho, Herbert Perry as Don Quixote, and Hollis Resnik as Aldonza (top); Dulcinea and Don Quixote (bottom).

Covert choreography


“This looks like a high-school prom,” said Kate Blomquist, ’07, as she examined the gem-colored Mexican sodas and Twinkies splayed like shrapnel on a table at the Renaissance Society’s open house Thursday afternoon.

Blomquist had dance on her mind, but she certainly was not adorned in taffeta. By 3 p.m. fellow dancers Marya Spont, ’06, Lixian Hantover, ’07, Terin Izil, ’06, and Courtney Prokopas, ’06, all dressed in T-shirts and jeans or black pants, entered the gallery, which currently houses a five-screen video installation depicting the movements of choreographer William Forsythe. In a performance Blomquist choreographed, the dancers promenaded among the 30 or so spectators intently viewing the exhibit. Intermittently the dancers struck poses or imitated Forsythe’s movements on the screen, to the surprise of their fellow screen-gazers. The audience, as if collectively mesmerized by the performance, drifted toward the room’s edges, allowing the dancers free rein of the gallery space.

The open house was the first by the Renaissance Society in partnership with a new student group, the Wrens, who hope to raise campus-wide awareness of the Renaissance Society by holding performances in the gallery.

Meredith Meyer, ’06

Photo: A dancer mimics Forsythe's moves behind the screen (top). Strike a pose (bottom).

Beaver tails and dragonfly spies


Having beaten out 60 other poetic hopefuls to earn a spot on the bill at last Tuesday’s poetry reading—the first in this season’s Emerging Writers Series—Geoff Hilsabeck, a student in the University’s Master of Arts in Humanities program, shuffled toward the podium in Classics 21. The room was full; people crowded the couches and windowsills and lined the walls. Hilsabeck flashed a shy smile.

“There will be some swearing at some point,” he said. “I hope that’s not a problem for anybody.”

It wasn’t. From time to time Hilsabeck, whose work has been published in a chapbook called The Keeper of Secrets, whacked his audience with something serious, but mostly he kept them chuckling through more than half a dozen poems with lithe and lively wordplay and imagery that tended toward the surreal. From a poem called “Providing Assistance”:

Taken by storm
a swarm of sparrows
picked feathers under the overhang and listened.
We all did.
I even paid extra for two good seats,
a dragonfly, a cinched bouquet.
I leashed the dragonfly
with floss and trained it as a spy.

Hilsabeck shared the stage with poet Sam White, a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop who teaches at the University of Rhode Island. White’s first book of poems, The Goddess of the Hunt is Not Herself, was published this year. It is a quiet and contemplative collection that owes its title, White said, to an artist he once dated, who created an entire exhibit by photographing herself with beaver tails sticking out of her mouth. “I met her and saw the photos at the same instant,” White explained. “I was so struck by everything about her.”

In “Life in a Big Sweater,” White mused: “I am unshod, / like an aged whisker from the lawn. / I am under you, on top. / Far off a light blinks / in the deep stretch of a window. / Part of me lives in a crow’s beak. / Part of me is nest.”


Photo: Geoff Hilsabeck.

Saris and kurtas

Setting aside school rivalries, the College’s South Asian Students Association (SASA) and Northwestern University’s chapter came together this past Saturday to celebrate a joyful occasion: a wedding. A U of C “bride” married a Northwestern “groom” in a mock ceremony incorporating South Asian cultures and religions including Muslim, Sikh, Hindi, Sri Lankan, Pakistani, Bengali, Gujarati, and Punjabi.

Like many weddings, it required months of planning. Preparations began last March, said second-year Prerna Kumar, SASA’s events cochair, as students dressed in traditional Indian garb—females in lengha, salwar kameez, and saris; males in kurtas—filed past her into the Shoreland ballroom. “We took [the idea] from Columbia and NYU,” Kumar said. The event was conceived as a way “to get students on campus to come out and have a good time,” she said, as well as “to educate people about South Asian culture—even teach Indians about their own culture.”

A key component was choosing a bride, whom the SASA board picked based on who answered the written application questions “in the cleverest, funniest, most creative way,” Kumar said. The honor went to second-year Aasha Barot. She “had a cute list,” Kumar said. “She wrote her answers as if she were really getting married.” Barot was decked out in red and pink, which “symbolize sunrise,” said third-year Yesha Sutaria, “the start of a new life.”

Organizers scattered rose petals on the round reception tables and on the stage, where a mandap, an Indian bridal canopy, squatted. “We built it from scratch,” Kumar said, in about six hours the previous day. During the ten-minute ceremony, “wedding photographers” snapped pictures of the couple performing rituals. SASA members sprinkled them with rose water, a ritual purification, as they entered (a Tamil Nadu custom). Female students—in a real wedding, saat suhagins, or seven happily married women—ground sugar cubes over their heads to ensure a sweet life together (Muslim). They exchanged garlands (Hindi and Sikh), and their “families” blessed them by placing placed blades of grass and grains of rice on their heads (Bengali). The remainder of the afternoon featured Indian dances by U of C students, a performance by a Northwestern Indian a cappella group, toasts to the bride and groom, and a meal from Viceroy.

Hana Yoo, ’07

IMG_0293_thumb.jpg IMG_0294_thumb.jpg IMG_0297_thumb.jpg

Photos (left to right): The groom awaits his bride; rose petals decorate the tables; the a capella group entertains.

Stand-up guys


“I’m really shy,” Daniel Nainan confessed to his Mandel Hall audience as he stood on stage with Azhar Usman after their stand-up comedy routines this past Saturday, sponsored by the Chicago Society and the South Asian Students Association.

Strange words from a man who makes a living playing for laughs in front of large groups, though not so strange considering how Nainan got into the business. As a technical presenter at Intel from 1996 to 2001, Nainan had to represent the company, “sometimes in front of thousands of people or on TV,” when globetrotting with senior executives. “I was really nervous about speaking on stage,” he said. To combat stage fright he took a comedy class, which he enjoyed so much that after retiring early from Intel, he started doing stand-up full-time. Similarly, Usman, though always a “class clown” and involved in theater, only mustered the courage to pursue a comedy career in 2001, two years after graduating from law school.

During the show—Nainan performed first, Usman second—both Nainan, who is half Indian and half Japanese, and Usman, an Indian Muslim American, mined their cultural backgrounds for jokes, poking fun at their parents, Bollywood movies, and Indians’ mangling of English pronunciation and grammar. At one point Usman explained why Indians are always late (the show itself began 30 minutes past the scheduled time): “We are a people that uses the same word for yesterday and tomorrow,” he said. “Basically, if you’re within 72 hours, you’re pretty much on time.” The two also took on politics, with Nainan doing dead-on impressions of figures such as George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Arnold Schwarzenegger and Usman lamenting post-9/11 airport security checks (“It’s not pretty. Heads turn simultaneously. Security guard says, ‘We’ve got a Muhammad at four o’clock. Over.’”)

Before the two left the stage to sell their CDs and DVDs, Usman noted that stand-up comedy, which he called one of American’s few indigenous art forms, has enjoyed little scholarship compared to jazz, which “has been studied ad nauseam in academia.” Perhaps, aware of the University’s reputation for intellectualism—at one point he joked about proud Indian parents’ outrage at having “U of the C” (as Indians say it) being mistaken for his own alma mater, UIC—he was hinting that an audience member should take up the gauntlet.

Hana Yoo, ’07

Photo: Nainan (left) and Usman after the show.

Dealing with demons


“When a female pheasant, without cause, enters the house, its name is Spirit-Traveler. In the house, there is invariably a violent death. Leave quickly.” Thus reads one instruction in “White Marsh’s Diagrams of Spectral Prodigies,” a 10th-century Chinese manuscript explaining how to deal with demons and strange occurrences around the typical elite household. The manuscript, discovered in 1900 at Dunhuang on the Silk Road, offers helpful hints from White Marsh, a popular medieval protector deity. “When a leather belt glows at night,” cautions another directive, “make sacrificial offerings of ale and dried meat slices.” The manuscript also lists demons’ names; in some cases all it takes to scare a demon away is to say its name a certain number of times.

Such a manuscript provides a window into the medieval Chinese world. In fact, argued East Asian Languages and Civilizations Professor Donald Harper in a Humanities Open House lecture this past Saturday, until you have studied the manuscripts, “you don’t really understand ancient and medieval Chinese culture.” Though it is unclear how many Chinese could read, paper was “certainly affordable in medieval times,” and many texts were posted in public places. Furthermore, this particular manuscript provides important “everyday” knowledge, he noted, “not about fantastic things you’d never expect to see” but incidents that could occur “right in the environment of your own home.” Harper also pointed to parallels between the 10th-century manuscript and one from the 4th century B.C. For 14 centuries these instructions on how to deal with life’s “hidden, occult, magical,” and inexplicable phenomena were preserved via the written word.

Yet “somewhere in the medieval period” the Chinese left the book tradition behind, Harper said, instead hanging portraits of protector spirits in their homes. In about the 9th century people began nailing White Marsh portraits, or “A Diagram of White Marsh,” over their doors, the earliest evidence of this shift. The portrait still survives in paintings and block prints in Japan, though not in China.

Hana Yoo ’07

Photo: Harper at his Humanities Open House lecture.

Portrait of the martyr as a young girl


Beany Malone would have relished the harvest-and-Halloween menu dished up by the Divinity School Wednesday Lunch cooking crew this week: pear and goat cheese salad, stuffed squash with hazelnuts and cranberries, and miniature cupcakes topped with bright-orange icing and Halloween candies.

Beany (née Catherine), the youngest of the four motherless Malones of Denver, is the heroine of Lenora Mattingly Weber’s series for teenage girls, and she spends much of the series (the first book appeared in 1943, the last in 1969) worrying about what to cook for dinner and if her family will like it.

Beany is also—argued Maureen Corrigan, longtime book critic for NPR’s Fresh Air and author of the new literary memoir Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading—a secular martyr, placed with the nuns’ seal of approval on Corrigan’s grammar-school reading list. Which is why Beany turned up in a discussion titled What Catholic Martyr Stories Taught Me about Getting to Heaven—and Getting Even.

As Corrigan, who teaches literature at Georgetown University, told the Swift Commons diners, “The beauty of series literature is that you can see certain themes developing over the course of the years.” Beany’s life trajectory—including the moment when the handsome young man from whom she’s expecting a marriage proposal announces his decision to become a priest—is fueled by “the tension between self-fulfillment and offering it up” at the altar of self-sacrifice.

The Beany Malone books also make it into Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading, a project for which Corrigan “decided to give myself permission to just talk about books that had stayed with me.” And, yes, she said during the Q&A, the books’ messages stayed with her, to “mixed” effect: “They toughened me to endure stuff that I would have otherwise more wisely gotten out of much sooner.”


Beany Malone (top) may offer messages of self-denial but, says Maureen Corrigan, author of Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading (bottom), "Reading itself is essentially an antisocial act."

Witches in waiting


A doctor, a princess, a Christmas present, and a couple of witches lined up outside Mandel Hall Saturday night in anticipation of the University Symphony Orchestra’s Halloween concert, “Double, Double, Toil and Trouble.” The audience, which took the invitation’s “costumes encouraged” suggestion to heart, awaited the USO’s renditions of Revueltas’s “Sensemaya,” Dukas’s “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” the Prelude and Witches’ Chorus from Verdi’s “Macbeth,” and music from Williams’s “Harry Potter.”

Meredith Meyer, ’06

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Photos: The characters outside Mandel Hall.

Where the sidewalk begins


This week fences enclosed the quads’ western walkways as workers dug up the old slabs and began laying new ground—sandstone, to be precise. Since Monday the workers have arranged the assorted-sized rectangular tiles less than halfway from the Administration Building to the center circle. What takes so long, said Nick Guerra, a Ward Contracting and Building Restoration laborer, is figuring out “how to work a pattern.” After Guerra preps the underlying sand “nice and flat,” the stone layers place the tiles, and then another worker sweeps more sand over the tiles to fill in the cracks. While the full main-quad project is scheduled through December 16, Guerra estimates another five days for this path—the widest of the five currently being repaved—to reach its center-circle goal.


Photo: Workers set the tiles.

Penetrating matters


Peanut butter and jelly. Ketchup and mustard. The eyeball and the phallus. As they used to sing on Sesame Street, one of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn’t belong—or does it?

It turns out that the eyeball and the phallus turn up together quite a lot in images from 1st- and 2nd-century Rome, Shadi Bartsch, the Ann L. and Lawrence B. Buttenwieser professor of classics, informed her audience at Thursday evening’s undergraduate classics convivium. Often the phallus is attacking the eyeball: Bartsch showed a slide of a 1st-century Roman mosaic in which an eyeball is surrounded by hostile assailants such as a crow, pitchfork, snake, scorpion, and the phallus of a well-endowed dwarf. These images were placed at home entrances. In addition, upper-class Roman boys wore phallic amulets around their necks, and Roman generals returning victorious from battle had a giant phallus strapped under their chariots—all tactics to ward off the evil eye. The evil eye is penetrative, Bartsch said, so they used a “homeopathic remedy,” fighting it “with other things that penetrate.”

The ancients thought of vision as tactile, believing either in intromission, in which objects give off tiny particles that penetrate the eye, or extramission, in which the eye emits rays or “pliant sticks” that “grope” objects and transmit information back to the eye. In their “shame culture,” shame came from being looked at and judged by other people, rather than a more contemporary “guilt culture,” with its concepts of conscience and personal responsibility. The “poisoned penetration” of someone’s hostile eye, Romans believed, could make a person very sick or even kill him.

Hana Yoo, ’07

Photo: Shadi Bartsch

Deathly celebration


The victims of the Ciuadad Juarez, Mexico, murders all have certain traits in common, activist Lu Rocha said at this past Friday’s Day of the Dead celebration. They were female, slender, with dark complexions and brown hair, relatively young—many were in their teens or 20s—and poor. They were factory workers, waitresses, and students. Such women, Rocha said, are “a dime a dozen” in Mexico. Lacking economic or political clout, they can disappear without consequence for their murderers. More than 400 women have been abducted, raped, mutilated, tortured, and killed since 1993. Since the killings began, there have been 18 arrests but only one conviction, and even that conviction is suspect, Rocha said, considering recent evidence of torture-induced confessions. Rocha, who for three years has worked at Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa, a Juarez organization of victims’ families that seeks justice and an end to the brutal murders, urged the Hutch Commons audience not to forget these women and to write letters to Mexican President Vicente Fox and other government officials.

“It’s very bittersweet, the Day of the Dead,” Rocha said. The Mexican holiday, celebrated November 1 and 2, honors the lives of the deceased, from friends and family members to victims of national disasters. Though the focus of Friday’s commemoration, female victims of Latino violence in the U.S. and Mexico, lent the event a sobering tone, it retained some joy: Nahualli, a Mexican ceremonial dance troupe, kicked off the night by performing several traditional dances; guests were then treated to a free Mexican dinner.

The event was sponsored by Student Government and cosponsored by MeChA, Organization of Latin American Students, Amnesty International, Feminist Majority, National Organization for Women, Rape Victim Advocates, and South Side SAVE.

Hana Yoo, ’07

Photo: The dance group Nahualli performs.

Race debate


More than 300 students, faculty, and staff members (along with a generous helping of reporters) crowded into Hutchinson Commons Tuesday night for two hours of soul-searching over a dorm party whose theme and theatrics have roiled the campus and made headlines across the country. On October 14, a group of students in Max Palevsky’s May House hosted what they called a “straight thuggin” party, encouraging guests to come in hip-hop dress. Less than 20 students attended, but when pictures turned up online showing revelers in gold chains, sideways baseball caps, pants sagging below their underwear—one even wore handcuffs and carried a bottle in a paper bag—complaints about the party’s racial tilt rose to a clamor. In a letter e-mailed to the entire University community, President Don Randel deplored the “distressing episode” and urged a thorough reckoning of the issues it raised. Meanwhile, reporters from the Maroon, the Chicago Tribune, local television stations, MTV.com, and elsewhere swarmed the campus. The party made the op-ed pages of the Trib and the Chicago Defender.

Tuesday night, more than one administrator alluded to a routine “thoughtlessness” among whites on campus when it comes to race. English professor and newly appointed Deputy Provost for Research and Minority Issues Kenneth Warren likened the situation to “being among neighbors who are quite willing to turn down the music once you bang on the door, but who are incapable of the kind of forethought that would have modulated the music in the first place.” Office of Minority Student Affairs Director Ana Vazquez put University race relations in starker terms. Out of 400 graduate and undergraduate responses to a monthlong student-life survey ending October 5, Vazquez said, 65 minority students reported suffering racial and ethnic discrimination, and 51 said they “have had to de-emphasize their race in order to fit in.”

Passing microphones back and forth, students took up the debate, posing questions and positing theories about the broader meanings of the dorm party and campus reaction to it. One student rejected political correctness but said, “What I am asking my peers to do is think about how the stereotypes you have about minorities on campus affect the decisions you make. Just think about it.”

Economics major Ken Jones was exasperated that some of his white classmates didn’t seem to grasp the party’s offensive nature. “This is problematic,” he said, “and I’m tired of having to explain my feelings to the majority. … You intellectualize racism now.” Second-year Kristiana Colon seconded Jones’ frustration. “Race is something that white people can choose to deal with or not,” she said. “We don’t have that choice. The responsibility should not be mine to disabuse you of your ignorance.”

Provost Richard Saller asked the crowd to consider why last month’s party “resonated in the way it did.” Several speakers noted how the outcry was sharpened by the fact that African Americans make up only four percent of the College student body, and that the campus abuts several struggling black neighborhoods. Pointing to growing investment in improving schools and safety in the surrounding communities and measures on campus aimed at heightening racial sensitivity, administrators said the University is moving in the right direction. “I would not have accepted this position [at the Office of Minority Student Affairs],” said Vazquez, “if I did not believe there was a framework to build off of and a commitment” to resolving racial divisions.


Photo: Students and others mill about the Reynolds Club before the meeting.

Small feasts


Chicago may be the city of big shoulders, but when it comes to magazines, Chicago poets have kept their publications small. The city’s “little” (as opposed to mass market) magazines have a long history of disseminating poetry throughout the nation. The current Special Collections exhibit, From Poetry to Verse: The Making of Modern Poetry and City Lights Pocket Poets Series, draws on the Regenstein Library’s modern poetry collection to examine the “highly risky endeavor” that poetry magazine editors have undertaken in Chicago and elsewhere.

Harriet Monroe put the city on the poetry map in 1912 when she launched Poetry: A Magazine of Verse. Securing funds from city businessmen and civic leaders, Monroe solicited poems from a range of writers, including Ezra Pound. The magazine’s first “foreign correspondent,” Pound introduced Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore, the 1913 Nobel laureate in literature, to Poetry’s pages. Poetry was the first to publish Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, and Elizabeth Bishop. Today the publication receives more than 90,000 submissions each month. In 1936, after her death, the University received Harriet Monroe’s poetry library, her personal papers, and the editorial files of Poetry magazine.

Students at the University launched their own magazine, Chicago Review, in 1946. The editors’ mission was to “present a contemporary standard of good writing” and to compensate for the “exaggerated utilitarianism” they saw in postwar American universities. The Review achieved national infamy in the late 1950s, when then-editors Irving Rosenthal and Paul Carroll, AM’52, published excerpts from William Burrough’s Naked Lunch. Facing censorship from the University, the editors created an independent journal, naming it Big Table at Jack Kerouac’s request. Though short-lived, Big Table had lasting impact, publishing Allen Ginsberg’s “Kaddish” and John Ashbery’s “Europe.”

The Special Collections exhibit runs through February 12, 2006.

Meredith Meyer, ’06

Photo: Harriet Monroe (top) and an early copy of Poetry (bottom).

Homegrown laws


Scanning the audience, a security guard’s gaze fell on the back of the Law School’s Glen A. Lloyd auditorium. The guard bounded up the aisle and approached a student in the audience. “Sir, your laptop,” the guard commanded, gesturing outside. The student reluctantly toted his laptop into the hall, where government agents had directed the rest of the audience to leave their belongings before U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ November 9 talk.

His physical security ensured by the horde of guards in the theater, the attorney general had more lofty concerns to ponder. Gonzales told the packed audience that he fears a “growing tendency” among some Supreme Court justices to cite foreign law in their decisions.

Referring to foreign law presents two primary problems, Gonzales asserted, reading closely from a prepared text. First, there is the “problem of selection.” By picking and choosing which foreign laws to consider, the court, Gonzales said, “can be seen as looking over the heads of the crowd and picking out its friends.” The other issue, he said, is undermining the court’s legitimacy and “our sacred text, the Constitution,” by referring to other countries’ precedent instead of America’s.

Although “we must be open to good new ideas whatever their source,” he urged that these ideas be expressed through the political process and not through the courts. Questioning how the “standards of anyone other than the citizens of the United States could decide the will of the people,” Gonzales insisted that his statements must not be “mistaken as isolationism.”

Meredith Meyer, ’06

Photo: Law School Dean Saul Levmore introduces Gonzales.

Anna Karenina, expatriate


“Tolstoy understood human consciousness better than anyone who ever lived.” That fearless claim comes from an authoritative source: Gary Saul Morson, one of the foremost American experts on Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky and the author of books on Nikolai Gogol and Mikhail Bakhtin. Last week Morson, the Frances Hooper professor of Slavic languages and literatures at Northwestern University, traveled south to talk to Chicago students and faculty about Anna Karenina’s suicide in Tolstoy’s 1877 novel. Morson supported his superlative praise for Tolstoy and overturned some popular misconceptions about the novel, especially about Anna’s tragic heroism.

Calling Anna a “genre expatriate from romance who has been placed in a work antithetical to romance”—that is, in a thoroughly realist novel—Morson presented material from a book he is writing about the philosophical climate of Russian literature. In Morson’s reading, Anna’s “interpretive totalism” is what leads inexorably to her death. Her single-minded faith in love, which befits a romance character but is pure hell on one who resides in a realist work, plunges her into isolation and paranoia. Tolstoy, said Morson, rued all forms of totalism, from romantic love to utopianism, and Anna’s fate illustrates the dangers of such kinds of all-or-nothing thinking.

In standard readings, Tolstoy is thought to foreshadow Anna’s suicide with two other deaths: the watchman’s fall in the train station in Part 1, and the death of Vronsky’s race horse Frou-Frou in Part 2. Tolstoy believes in contingency, not fate, Morson argued, so these scenes can’t be said to prefigure anything. Frou-Frou’s death is pure accident; Anna’s is an act of will. As for the watchman, Morson warned against reading his death as foreshadowing—perhaps the most arresting insight of his talk. Noting that the narrator delves deeper and deeper into Anna’s own consciousness as the end of her life approaches, Morson pointed out that she explicitly recalls the incident and reacts with a choice—“she knew what she had to do.” The character, not the author, fulfills the omen. Anna provides her own foreshadowing, and fate has nothing to do with it.

Laura Demanski, AM’94

Photo: Morson after his talk.

Gothic gore

Hamza Walker, AB’88, associate curator of the Renaissance Society, told the audience at the Sunday opening of All the Pretty Corpses that the Goth-inspired exhibit was appropriate for a campus where an older version of “Goth looms large.” The show brought together eight artists whose work shares elements of “mysticism, anger, mourning, horror, aggression, angst, apocalypse, and the post-human,” according to the museum’s Web site. A dropped ceiling stained with beet juice and coffee hovered over the stream of visitors entering the gallery.

During the artists’ talk the man responsible for the ceiling, Jay Heikes, was reluctant to discuss his work. “I don’t know how much I want to talk about Pat’s tumor,” he said, referring to his inspiration for the piece—his friend’s struggle with a brain tumor. The artist did divulge that the purple beet juice to him represented “being beaten” and the coffee suggested the “grit” of daily life. Heikes was ambiguous about his place in the dark exhibition because while the work “refers to a bloody, traumatic incident,” he said, “I like to think of it as a daydreaming, contemplative” piece.

Other artists were more comfortable with their position in the show. Tony Tasset constructed a stone grotto filled with melting, blood-colored candles as a memorial to “some generic tragedy,” in response to what seem to him “like very dark times.”

All the Pretty Corpses runs through December 23 and features the work of Jeremy Blake, Ellen Cantor, John Espinosa, Heikes, Kacy Maddux, Sterling Ruby, Steven Shearer, and Tasset.

Meredith Meyer, ’06

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Photos (left to right): Grotto by Tony Tasset; Amorphous Law by Sterling Ruby; 150% by John Espinosa.

A little night music


“Could you draw those drapes, please,” Andrea Holliday, AB’80, directed the Fulton Recital Hall manager, referring to the curtains framing the stage’s rear window. With that the soprano, enveloped in a full fur coat, her hair curled and piled atop her head, announced in front of ten or so early audience members, “I am going to go put my dress on,” and exited Goodspeed Hall’s fourth-floor theater.

Ten minutes later Thomas Wikman, Holliday’s husband and accompanying pianist, ventured out to the hallway calling, “Andrea, the hour has come.” Time proved a relative concern for Holliday. Outfitted in a dark velvet evening gown, she initiated her concert, Night Songs at Midday, with four arias about nighttime, including “Chere Nuit,” written by Alfred Bachelet for soprano Nellie Melba, to whom peach melba and melba toast are also dedicated. Holliday rounded out the recital with a challenge to her pianist husband. Offering four songs by Tchaikovsky, she explained to the audience of 20 or so, “Tchaikovsky was not really a pianist and so did not show them a lot of mercy.”

Meredith Meyer, ’06

Photo: Wikman and Holliday perform.

Snacks from the Land of the Morning Calm

Pick Hall’s first-floor lounge overflowed with dried seaweed, or kim, and cooked rice, or bab, this past Thursday at the Korean Language Program’s annual Kim Bab Day. Every kim bab has these two components, and cooks add kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage), soy sauce, sesame seeds, vegetables, or meat, based on personal preference. Generally speaking, said Hi Sun Kim, a lecturer in the East Asian Languages and Civilizations department, the sushi-like Korean roll does not feature raw fish. Kim bab are a near-ubiquitous snack in Korea, often called the Land of the Morning Calm.

Donning plastic gloves, about 55 attendees—Korean-language students and their guests—spread a thin layer of rice over dried seaweed sheets. Packing in spinach, egg, carrots, fish cakes, and yellow pickled radish, they rolled up the sheets, sliced the rolls into individual kim bab, and devoured them on the spot or took them away in Ziploc bags. An hour into the lunchtime event, the supply of both gloves and rice ran out. Soon afterward, so did the Choco Pies (a contest had been planned for who could make the prettiest kim bab, with the winner taking home a box of Choco Pies—no one complained about its cancellation). As the event came to a close, remaining diners divided the leftovers among themselves, some saying they would use them to make bibimbap, a Korean dish mixing rice, meat, vegetables, a whole egg, and hot sauce.

The Korean Language Program’s other annual events include Dduck-kuk Day, a New Year’s celebration taking place in February (the lunar new year), and Korean BBQ Day, which usually takes place in the spring.

Hana Yoo, ’07

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Photos (left to right): Students work away; the ingredients; the finished product.

Eat, eat.

Two nights before Thanksgiving, the University played host to another long-standing and food-related tradition in a packed Mandel Hall: the 59th Annual Latke-Hamantash Debate. Every year Hillel invites a panel of professors to consider which is the superior food—the latke, a potato pancake traditionally consumed during Hannukah, or the hamantash, a triangular pastry connected to Purim. History professor Ralph A. Austen, visiting assistant law professor Eugene Kontorovich, AB’96, JD’01, Harris School professor Colm O’Muircheartaigh, and linguistics professor Jerrold M. Sadock all weighed in on the matter. Philosophy professor Ted Cohen, AB’62, moderated, as he has for almost 30 years.

Equating latkes with the South Side White Sox and hamantashen with the North Side Cubs, Austen came down heavily on the side of latkes. “Let one thousand, nay, one million hamantashen bloom in North Side bakeries,” he said, “but keep them far away from the sacred realm of baseball.” Both O’Muircheartaigh and Sadock favored hamantashen. After poking fun at his Irish name and heritage, O’Muircheartaigh produced charts and graphs analyzing Irish scrolls that he claimed surveyed popular opinion on the two foods (“most people prefer hamantashen”), while Sadock reinterpreted Plato’s Cratylus as a dialogue between Rabbi Socrates and two of his students––the wrong-headed Cratylus, a stand-in for latkes, and the wiser Hermogenes, representing hamantashen. “Eat smart, eat healthy, eat hamantashen,” Sadock advised.

Kontorovich commented that it felt good to be tackling “the big questions” in light of how much time is devoted to “esoteric and irrelevant matters” in academia, and he examined the latke and hamantash “judiciously” to see if they violated international law: could either food, for example, be used as a form of torture? The answer, he asserted, is yes. Latkes, those “oily monsters,” can cause organ failure, while hamantashen, named as they are for King Haman, whom the Jews roundly defeated, constitute “an implicit threat” to captives that they will be eaten.

As always, Cohen said once the panelists were done, audience votes would be tallied and the winner announced at the post-debate reception in Hutch, and “as always, we do not care,” as the point is “the symposium itself.” After plugging Ruth Fredman Cernea’s recently released The Great Latke-Hamantashen Debate (University of Chicago Press), a compilation of past panelists’ arguments, Cohen declared the debate adjourned.

Hana Yoo, ’07

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Alimentary affair (left to right): Historian Ralph Austen drew parallels with Chicago baseball, equating latkes with the World Champion White Sox; Colm O’Muircheartaigh analyzed ancient Irish writings to prove Ireland's preference for hamantashen; yet another audiovisual asked the eternal question.

Photos by Hana Yoo, ’07

Soap and glory

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The University of Chicago is not known as a party school, but that didn’t stop ABC Daytime from enlisting Chicago’s campus organizations in its Campus Invasion marketing initiative. Targeting 15 colleges nationwide on November 28–30 or December 5–7, Campus Invasion aims to motivate college students “to get hooked and win” on All My Children. The group that holds the best party earns $300 and a shot at the grand prize: a party attended by soap stars that will be taped and broadcast during the station’s soap lineup. Three U of C Registered Student Organizations—the Major Activities Board, Off-Off Campus, and the Organization of Black Students—threw competing All My Children parties. ABC gave each group $350 “just for having the party,” said second-year Off-Off Campus member Ariana Williams.

“This is a marketing strategy by ABC to tap the college market,” said third-year OBS president Letrice Gholson. Or, as Williams put it, to get them “addicted to All My Children.” Noted another student, “Sounds a little sinister, doesn’t it?”

At the MAB party yesterday, as the TV blared and students munched on food from Triad Sushi Lounge and Calypso Café in the Ida Noyes East Lounge, fourth-year Claire Mazur called out simple questions (“What’s her name?” “What color is her hair?” “What show are we watching right now?”), handing out sleeping masks, laundry bags, T-shirts, manicure sets, lip gloss, key chains, perfume samples, and knit caps to respondents—or anyone who wanted them. (ABC intended that the goodies be given to attendees who correctly answered trivia questions.) “What channel are we watching?” Mazur asked. “NBC,” one student offered. “ABC,” Mazur corrected, giving the student a prize anyway. Meanwhile, at Uncle Joe’s, Off-Off Campus also asked questions, reading them off of a three-page packet from ABC: “Did Kendall have Greenlee’s permission to be artificially inseminated with Ryan’s sperm?” (A: No.) “While in the ER, Krystal orders Adam to…?” (A: Stay alive.)

Hana Yoo, '07

Photo: Off-Off Campus watches AMC (top). Letrice Gholson cleans up after the OBS party (bottom).

Playing it safe