Author Archives: Gianna

Ridgefield Middle School Talent Nite


We know halter-tops.
We know talent.
We know the potential greatness in that Jessica Simpson lip-sync number.
And we (are getting to) know puberty.
Welcome to Ridgefield Middle School.
Created and Performed by Jo Firestone ‘09 and Dylan Marron ’10

What: “Ridgefield Middle School Talent Nite.” A play by Jo Firestone ’09 and Dylan Marron ’10
Where: WestCo Café
When: Thursday 8pm, Friday 8pm & 11pm, Saturday 8pm
Cost: FREE
Note: This event is not ticketed, all you need to do is show up a little early to get a good seat.

Wesleyan lights up Huffington Post

In case you forgot why we rule, allow yourself to be reminded by this Wesleyan-centric article, The Awesome-ization of Wesleyan University,” published yesterday on The Huffington Post.

President-elect Barack Obama was the key note speaker at the 2008 Wesleyan Commencementpassing on valuable advice…

…and blessing a new crop of Brooklyn bands! 2008 brought MGMT and Santogold to the pop culture limelight and 2009 has the chance to be an even bigger year for the New England university. Fader Magazine, the current de facto guide to cool, recently profiled the university’s music scene and the numerous internet buzz bands nurtured by co-ed dorms and naked parties.

Not to say that the influx of Wesleyan bloodlines into the experimental music scene should come as a surprise. This is the same university that previously boasted the best acid labs in the country, employs experimental jazz pioneer Anthony Braxton as a professor, and is the alma mater of hip hop impresario Bobbito Garcia.

The article also highlights four Wesleyan bands to look out for in 2009 complete with sample tracks: Boy Crisis, Amazing Baby, Bear Hands, and Francis and the Lights. (Plus two songs by honorable mentions Bottle Up and Go and Das Racist.) Thanks for the free PR Huffington!

[edit 11:15 am, Sheek]
FYI, the article’s by Steve Pristin ’06, of

"In the Heights" Moves Britney to Tears

Though she’s been largely silent about her personal life in recent years, in the new MTV documentary “Britney: For the Record,” out last Sunday, Britney Spears opens up about K Fed, the head shaving and her breakdown.

Make of the film what you will, but at least watch this clip in which Britney goes to New York just to see In the Heights, the Tony award-winning musical created by and starring Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 .

2:20- Britney meets the cast, shmoozes with Lin-Manuel
– Britney’s post-show reflection: It was really good, I cried.
– Britney goes out to dinner with 2 cast members, scores one of their numbers.

For those looking for a good study break, the 90-minute documentary is available in full on

Obama commencement address resurfaces.

Thank you to Roger Cohen of the New York Times for writing a thought-provoking Op-Ed column about the current situation on Wall Street. Cohen explains that the market drop represents not just a financial crisis, but what he calls “the death of a culture.” Hidden in the middle of the piece are snippets from Senator Obama’s commencement speech at Wesleyan:

But why do freshmen bursting to change the world morph into investment bankers?

“I guess the bottom line is the money. You could be going to grad school and paying for it, or earning six figures. And knowing nothing about money, you get to move hundreds of millions around! No wonder we’re in this mess: turns out the best and the brightest make the biggest and the worst.”

According to the Harvard Crimson, 39 percent of work-force-bound Harvard seniors this year are heading for consulting firms and financial sector companies (or were in June). That’s down from 47 percent — almost half the job-bound class — in 2007.

These numbers mirror a skewed culture. The best and the brightest should think again. Barack Obama put the issue this way at Wesleyan University in May: beware of the “poverty of ambition” in a culture of “the big house and the nice suits.”

New York Times: The King Is Dead

Aramark does Beijing.

Looks like Aramark, Bon Appétit’s predecessor, has kept plenty busy since leaving Wesleyan:

The Olympic Village dining hall is the size of three football fields — large enough to sit 6,000 people at one time. And the food operation needed to feed a multinational, multicultural, multilingual base 24 hours a day is equally vast in scope.

A Philadelphia-based privately held company, Aramark, is handling the food for the Olympic Village, two Media Centers and two Media Villages during the Olympic Games — its 14th Summer or Winter Games since the company first had a contract for the Mexico City Games in 1968.

In order to satisfy a diverse and demanding set of palates for the 28,000 athletes, coaches and staff at the village, the chefs at Aramark have designed a menu that features 800 recipes from all around the world that accommodate all sorts of dietary needs — vegetarian, Halal, kosher.

The eight-day menu rotation has an Asian bent, specifically with a focus on Chinese specialties including Peking duck, congee and shaved noodles, but it also has dishes from Italy, Greece, Northern Africa, southern Spain and Latin America.

According to Aramark, the company will prepare:

  • More than 35,000 pounds of duck
  • More than 14,000 pounds of tofu
  • 150,000 pounds of beef
  • 1 million apples
  • 20.1 million servings of rice
  • 743,000 potatoes

Not to mention the cheese, lettuce, onions, chickens, and oranges.

New York Times: 14,000 Pounds of Tofu, and Hold the Lettuce

Election ’08: Politico Leads the Pack

Though there is no mention of its publisher, Robert Allbritton ’92, The Politico gets a flattering mention in an article from yesterday’s New York Times. The piece explains how media outlets across the board are working hard to remain competitive and capitalize on consumer interest in the upcoming election.

Three months before the election, one clear winner of the cycle so far is The Politico, an upstart news organization founded in January 2007. The Politico, with nearly 70 editorial employees, publishes a 26,000-circulation newspaper three days a week in Washington, D.C.

But it is Politico’s round-the-clock online news reporting and analysis that have made it a must-read for a large audience outside the Beltway. averaged 2.5 million unique visitors a month in the first half of 2008, more than all but 13 American newspapers, according to Nielsen Online.

The Politico has benefited from profound changes in the way people get news, according to Jim VandeHei, the executive editor and co-founder. People look for news far more often during the day, they are far more likely to seek multiple sources as well as favorite bloggers and writers, and they are far more interested in watching video online.

Many of you may recall the $5 million pledge made by Mr. Allbritton and his wife Elena Allbritton ’93 toward the renovation of Davenport, the pre-Usdan campus center. The building will be re-opened in the fall of 2009 as The Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life.

The New York Times
: Media Outlets Are Seeking a Campaign Bounce of Their Own
The Wesleyan Connection: Alumni Pledge $5M to Create New Center on Campus
Roth on Wesleyan:
Understanding and Engagement: Public Service

It’s official.

A brief roundup of New York Times coverage thus far:

Obama Claims Nomination; First Black Candidate to Lead a Major Party Ticket

Senator Barack Obama claimed the Democratic presidential nomination on Tuesday evening, prevailing through an epic battle with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in a primary campaign that inspired millions of voters from every corner of America to demand change in Washington.

Next on Agenda Is Clinton’s Role

Mrs. Clinton used her final hours of the long primary season to make clear that she would be open to being Mr. Obama’s running mate. If there was ever any hope in Democratic circles that she would let Mr. Obama off the hook with an evasion or a flat declaration of no interest, Mrs. Clinton dashed it on Tuesday.

Calm in the Swirl of History

On the cusp of becoming the first African-American to capture a major party nomination, Mr. Obama remains a protean political figure, inspiring devotion in supporters who see him as a transformative leader even as he remains inscrutable to critics.

Some 18,000 supporters of Senator Barack Obama gathered Tuesday night at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul to hear him speak on the last day of the long primary campaign.

O-ba-ma = Oh so close.

The New York Times reports:

Senator Barack Obama is poised to clinch the Democratic presidential nomination on Tuesday night as he received support from a steady stream of prominent party officials, signaling that the grueling primary battle with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is coming to a close.


In a speech in New Orleans, Senator John McCain acknowledged Mr. Obama as his certain opponent in November, immediately launching an attack on the Illinois senator’s policies while praising Mrs. Clinton for her “tenacity and courage.”

At Mr. Obama’s headquarters in Chicago, every time a new endorsement was announced, campaign workers sounded a round of applause.

VP Clinton? It seems Hillary would not object to the idea:

Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton signaled earlier Tuesday that she may be open to pursuing the No. 2 spot on a Democratic ticket.

Asked on a conference call Tuesday if she would be open to joining a ticket with Mr. Obama, the New York senator said she would do whatever she could — including a vice presidential bid — to help Democrats win the White House.

From the Homepage

Full article here.

Includes quotes by new alumni Genevieve Angelson, Andrew Marvin-Smith, and Emily Gallivan ’08.

For those who can’t get to it from the link:

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. — When Senator Edward M. Kennedy endorsed Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in January, Mr. Kennedy passed the torch of Democratic liberalism, saying it was “time again for a new generation of leadership.”

On Sunday, Mr. Obama embraced the legacy by standing in for Mr. Kennedy, who was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor last week, and delivering the commencement speech at Wesleyan University.

The symbolism of protégé and mentor permeated Mr. Obama’s address, which called graduates to public service, honored Mr. Kennedy and reflected the legacy of his family.

“It is rare in this country of ours that a person exists who has touched the lives of nearly every single American without any of us even realizing it,” Mr. Obama said, his voice rising. “And I have a feeling that Ted Kennedy is not done just yet. But surely, if one man can achieve so much and make such a difference in the lives of so many, then each of us can do our part.”

Mr. Kennedy has deep ties to Wesleyan — his stepdaughter graduated Sunday, and his son Edward Jr. celebrated his 25th reunion this weekend.

Mr. Obama implored the 737 undergraduates and 100 graduate students to change the country and the world through service to others, a theme Mr. Kennedy planned to focus on. Mr. Obama urged them to help rebuild New Orleans, volunteer at a local soup kitchen or help end the situation in Darfur, and to remember that change will come, though not immediately.

“It’s because you have an obligation to yourself, because our individual salvation depends on our collective salvation,” Mr. Obama said. “Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential and discover the role you’ll play in writing the next great chapter in America’s story.”

Mr. Obama paralleled his life to the Kennedy family, telling graduates he was born the year John F. Kennedy “called a generation of Americans to ask their country what they could do” and went on to become a community organizer in Chicago because he was inspired by that call to service and by stories of the civil rights movement.

Mr. Obama also mentioned Robert F. Kennedy, whose assassination late in the Democratic presidential nomination process was referred to last week by Mr. Obama’s rival, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, as a reason for staying in the race.

Mr. Obama told graduates not to take the easy way out and flag in their dedication to helping others and enacting change.

“I hope you’ll remember, during this those times of doubt and frustration, that there is nothing naïve about your impulse to change the world,” Mr. Obama said. “Because all it takes is one act of service — one blow against injustice — to send forth that tiny ripple of hope that Robert Kennedy spoke of.”

John J. Pitney Jr., a professor of American politics at Claremont McKenna College, said the speech showed that Mr. Obama was assuming the mantle of Edward Kennedy’s liberal legacy.

“This event is a symbolic passing of the torch of Democratic liberalism from Ted Kennedy to Barack Obama,” Professor Pitney said. “It’s a happy coincidence of being gallant and politically smart. He’s filling in for an ailing friend and at the same time doing a world of political good. Moments like that are rare.”

Representative Bill Delahunt, Democrat of Massachusetts, a good friend of Mr. Kennedy and a supporter of Mr. Obama, said Mr. Obama’s offer to deliver the address highlighted the bond between the two men.

“It clearly is a demonstration of profound respect, but it’s more than that,” Mr. Delahunt said. “There’s a personal connection there, and it’s symbolic of a new generation.”

In addition to the 10,000 official attendees, about 5,000 people gathered on a hillside on a sparkling spring afternoon to watch Mr. Obama’s speech, which was preceded by a conferring of honorary degrees and a performance by a Japanese student drum group.

Emily Gallivan, 21, said that she was happy with Mr. Obama, but that she appreciated Mr. Kennedy’s ties to the university.

“He has multiple connections to the school,” Ms. Gallivan said, “and it would have been nice to have him speak at his stepdaughter’s graduation.”

Andrew Marvin-Smith, 22, who is heading to China in a few weeks to teach English, said he thought Mr. Obama’s calls to go abroad were needed.

“America needs to pick itself up and get in touch with the rest of the world,” Mr. Marvin-Smith said.

Genevieve Angelson, 22, who affixed felt letters that read “Obama ’08” onto her red graduation gown, said Mr. Obama’s address was one of the most inspiring she had heard.

“It made me feel like we have never been asked to do anything, and the fact that he asked us was appropriately overdue,” Ms. Angelson said.

While Ms. Angelson said she was ecstatic to hear Mr. Obama speak, she was saddened as to why.

“I regret that something so wonderful for us came out of something so sad,” Ms. Angelson said.

Roth Blogs About Obama

From the Roth Blog:

Senator Obama’s speech to our graduates this Sunday is an act of friendship, and friendship is one of the defining features of our Commencement. The graduate students who have finished their degrees and the class of 2008 will be leaving Middletown on Sunday afternoon, but they will be taking with them relationships that will last a lifetime. As I meet with alumni across the country, a common thread in their description of why Wesleyan is important to them is that they developed relationships here which last a lifetime. The devotion to alma mater is also a devotion to the friendships forged in study, or in sports, in the arts, or in civic engagement.

We will see that devotion in these days leading up to commencement. Alumni from more than fifty years ago, and alumni from our most recent classes are coming back on campus for the weekend. My own class, 1978, will be celebrating our 30th reunion, and I look forward to seeing many friends as they re-discover their old homes, dorms and classrooms.

Senator Obama’s willingness to “stand in his friend’s place” on Sunday is not a campaign event but a poignant expression of friendship. There will be many other such expressions occurring all over campus as we welcome a new group of Wesleyan grads into the alumni family.

Also, this final allusion to security issues at the ceremony:

P.S. Please remember that Commencement is not a grand public occasion but the culmination of the Wesleyan experience for the graduates and their families.

…Aww. What a feel good entry. (Especially after his most recent posts about Fountain.)