“I know I’m an African-American, and I know I play the saxophone, but I’m not a jazz musician. I’m not a classical musician, either. My music is like my life: It’s in between these areas.”
We have reached the end of an era.
In a chilly, crowded rehearsal hall on December 3, John Spencer Camp Professor of Music Anthony Braxton ended his last class of the semester, as he has for many years, discussing Ornette Coleman and the politics of being alive. But this was his last class session for undergraduates here at Wes–and after over 40 years of teaching, he’s ready to go. He was near tears as he described how lucky he has been to have worked so closely with so many great masters, and to have had the chance to work with college-age students for so long; his outlook on our generation is refreshing, given all the crap we’ve been getting lately. He expressed amazement at the ability of each generation to “do the work that needs to be done,” and said unequivocally that there is nothing this generation can’t do, if we set out to do it.
The recently named National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master is looking forward to an active retirement full of new works, remastering old works, and contrabass martinis. His presence has been a great gift to Wesleyan, and we wish him nothing but the best.
For some choice Braxton quotes from this semester’s MUSC276 (Music of Mingus, Coltrane, & Coleman), follow the jump.
It’s the Holiday Season, and with the joyousness of holiday cheer comes the crushing doom of finals week. But don’t worry, Wesleying is here to help. While many of you watch Arrow on Netflix instead of studying for that Comparative Political Astronomy exam, and others just keep putting off that essay about Whippets in Hats to go people-watch at The Nest, only a few of you will actually accomplish something during your procrastination time. But with today’s episode of Procrastination Destination, your procrastination is guaranteed to end in some kind of
tears success. Whether you find a new dorm room design idea, or a holiday gift for your least-favorite sibling/most-cherished pet (or yourself; Merry Christmas to Me!), you will accomplish something while perusing through these decór-licious websites. Don’t want to buy anything you see? No worries, it’s still probably the coolest doohickey or thingamabob you’ve seen all day. And some of these room designs? Paint me purple and call me a grape, because I would… wine.. for a chance to hang out in one of these houses.
Anyway, I hope some of these things actually inspire you to study for finals, because if your bank account looks like mine, you won’t be able to buy anything featured here unless you get a cushy job after graduating… which won’t happen if you fail Basic Mermaid Anatomy.
Yanko Design: Designs to Blow your Socks off
Ok, the first time I went to Yanko Design, I think I stumbled upon it back when stumbleupon was a thing. Basically, here are all the newest things that inventors and designers have put their time and money into, and for the most part it walks a fine line of awesome and out-there. I recommend, from the main page, clicking on the “Random Design” link on the right hand side of the screen.
Just to get you interested, I’ve made a list of a few of my favorite items discovered on Yanko Design. Check it out, along with more lists (yay, it’s just like Buzzfeed!), after the jump.
Kennedy Odede ’12, President of Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) and accomplished rapper, wrote a powerful tribute to South African anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela, who passed away on December 5. In the piece, Odede writes about how Mandela inspired him during his childhood in Nairobi’s Kibera slum:
I had many conversations with Nelson Mandela, although I had not met him.
In my family’s tiny shack in Nairobi’s Kibera slum, my one-way exchanges with the great man kept me going. Mandela survived 27 years of prison; maybe I would make it out, too.
Mandela became South Africa’s first black president in 1994, when I was 10 years old. In Kibera, people celebrated and talk circulated the streets about this man, but I didn’t see how his story connected to mine until much later. I was struggling too hard simply to survive.
One of the great works that would hugely influence Odede’s thinking was Mandela’s “Long Walk to Freedom”:
A visiting American gave me two books. I had never gone to formal schools, but I had learned to read and write with the help of a kind priest. The American gave me a collection of speeches by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mandela’s “Long Walk to Freedom.” It was Mandela’s book that spoke to me. I couldn’t put it down. Here was someone whose life I could somehow picture.
For the first time in my life I saw I had a choice. I could either submit to the degradations of poverty, to the prevailing hopelessness, or I could start my own long walk.
Is it weird that I’ve bookmarked so many coffee-related websites despite the fact that I don’t drink coffee?
It’s that time of year, folks: The writers of Wesleying are bringing you our biannual Procrastination Destination feature, where we post a frenzy of addictive, pointless, and/or awesome links to help you get your procrastination on every day for all of finals (today + reading period + actual finals week). Have a link you think would be rad for Procrastination Destination? Email us at staff(at)wesleying(dot)org.
First link in our PD lineup: Coffitivity.
Did you know that the “ambient noise of a coffee shop” can boost your creativity and productivity? Neither did I, but apparently Coffitivity knows more than us. I stumbled upon Coffitivity over a year ago and immediately spent 30 minutes playing with the coffee shop settings trying to find the right “category” of sounds. Was it Lunchtime Lounge (described as “bustling chatter of the lunchtime rush”), University Undertones (“The scholarly sounds of a campus cafe”), or something more meta, like Morning Murmur (“A gentle hum gets the day started”)?
Whatever you choose, I can promise this: You too will spend a large chunk of time trying to find the perfect setting and volume. For an app that claims to make you more productive, it might take you a little while to get to that point.
Read after the jump to see more coffee fun-ness.
Don’t be fooled — the story of Amanda Belichick ’07 is not as simple as that of a daughter following in the footsteps of her father. It is a story of passion for lacrosse, care for the team, and a desire to break free of the mundane.
Belichick grew up in an athletic family with a devotion to lacrosse. Her father, William Belichick ’75, played lacrosse at Wesleyan and is currently the head coach of the New England Patriots. Her brothers, Stephen and Brian, also played lacrosse at their respective schools.
Belichick was initially drawn to Wesleyan for lacrosse camp, but stayed for the diverse options the campus had to offer. “The liberal arts was really appealing to me, just having a lot of options,” said Belichick, “I was really looking for somewhere where I could play lacrosse and have a great college experience. So it just felt really natural.”
Belichick was initially a studio art major because she, “loved the process.” The love of the process is evident in her coaching; Belichick is known for her attention to detail and minute breakdown of the game. Belichick eventually left the studio art major (to be a history major), but through her time in the major understood the importance of finding her passion:
I was really bad at art, that was my problem. But I think it’s passion, I think it’s finding something that you care about. I spend a lot of time watching video and watching other teams and being inspired — which is what artists do. And I’m not going to sit here and call myself a genius or anything special but I do think putting in the time and having the passion for whatever it is that you do is important. And I’m really passionate about lacrosse and I’m really passionate about teaching the game and working with the players. Having them learn the concepts. I think that that’s something that’s really important to me as a coach–to learn the game and not just to follow directions and follow the mold. And so I think as you learn, you find those creative outlets within it. I think that makes it really fun.
If you haven’t heard already, the “mayor of the Internet,” a.k.a reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian is at Wesleyan today.
11:15 a.m. Arrive at Wesleyan and join Professor Greg Goldberg’s “Media and Society” class already in progress
12 p.m. “Without Their Permission” talk and booksigning with Peter Frank ’12 of Texts.com (details here)
2 p.m. Meeting with student programmer group and student entrepreneurs Exley 139
3 p.m. Depart Wesleyan
There are a bunch of questions for Ohanian on the Wesleyen subreddit, some selected ones here:
From the Argus: Some people would say the internet is the most powerful means of doing good the world has ever seen, and that it can bring people together to solve seemingly intractable problems. It does, however, have its downside–one notable example would be the Boston Marathon bombing manhunt, during which a group of Redditors identified the wrong suspect, causing widespread panic and hindering the investigation. What are the limitations and risks of harnessing the power of the internet for problem-solving, and how can they be best addressed?
From the classic ‘wes anon’:
Can you talk about anonymity on the internet? Specifically, how does one foster a community that is anonymous and not have it overrun by things like bullying or racist language (this is one of the things I hate most about reddit, to be honest, even though I love certain parts of the site). Is there a solution?
If you didn’t get a ticket to the event, you can check out our liveblog below:
The first in a series on the on-campus intersections of gender, race, and music performance
If I could conduct a survey about gender and music performance, it would go something like this:
- How old were you when you began playing music?
- What instrument(s) did you start playing at a young age?
- What instruments did you pick up as you got older?
- When was the last time you performed in public?
My questionable pollster skills notwithstanding, I would guess that the results would look something like this: started playing piano/trombone/oboe at age 6/7/8, picked up guitar/bass/synth at age 15, etc. According to my hypothesis, a gender divide wouldn’t start to show until Question 2–for the lucky ones who got an early start in musical education, our instrument choices would probably follow a gendered pattern: with a few exceptions, boys generally chose saxophones and baritone horns while girls chose flutes and oboes. By the time everyone quit band in high school, many boys got their hands on guitars and drum kits and began performing at school functions and family parties. And the girls learned guitar in their rooms, and never played in public again, unless under the influence of alcohol. The end?
In mere hours three students will go before the SJB in a highly controversial hearing on their alleged participation in a political campaign. Alums have sprung into action, drafting a letter in solidarity with the defendants and quickly securing an impressive range of signatories. At the time of this post, more than 211 alumnae from class years spanning 1981-2013 have signed the call from countries all over the world. The full text of the letter and the signatures is below:
We, progressive Wesleyan alumni, are deeply distressed to learn of the mistreatment of current transgender students and allies on campus. We support the brave student activists who responded to their experience of marginalization by expressing themselves through de-gendering the bathrooms.
Transgender people face socially-sanctioned dehuminization and abuse, employment discrimination, threats and violence. Wesleyan’s perpetuation of this behavior is abhorrent and inconsistent with the values that the University fosters among its students, such as social justice, inclusivity, and community. In this and other actions of late we are witnessing an eroding of Wesleyan’s core values, and we are concerned about the current and future climate of a place we once held so dear.
Last month, an undetermined number of students ripped off gendered bathroom signs around campus, replacing them with paper “All Gender Bathroom” signs. Three students were referred to the SJB for the removal of these signs, despite a lack of concrete evidence that any of them participated in the degendering process. The three students are being tried by the SJB today, where they face thousands of dollars in fines, untold judicial sanctions, and — despite the fact that their guilt remains undetermined — one has already lost their work-study job.
The following press release emerged yesterday and has begun cropping up around Tumblr and other social media websites since then. In addition, an alumni letter calling for solidarity with the accused activists has been making its rounds gathering signatures. The hearing will take place today at 4:30 PM in North College. Check back here to see how it goes.
The full text of the press release, for your reading pleasure.
“Your comment is awaiting moderation…”: an alumni response to Michael Roth
Calls for a boycott of the administration’s capital campaign have re-emerged this week as President Michael Roth continues to solicit donations in the name of financial aid. Alums are refusing to contribute on the grounds that doing so would be a vote of confidence in increasingly reactionary, discriminatory policies. As of now, there remains no plan for Wesleyan to return to need blind admissions.
The following statement was submitted in response to Roth’s latest blog post – where it is still “awaiting moderation” (don’t hold your breath). We are posting it here in the meantime so you can see it. A similar statement has emerged on a Facebook group for recent alumni.
Support Wesleyan — Refuse to Donate!
President Roth mentions twice in his “Giving Tuesday” appeal that we can support financial aid at Wesleyan by donating to the University today.
What Michael Roth doesn’t mention is that 68% of every gift earmarked for financial aid gets drafted into the general operating budget, and only 32% of such gifts actually goes to improving the University’s financial aid budget. This is a dismaying betrayal of trust.
It is brazen for Michael Roth and the Wesleyan PR folks to encourage us to support financial aid at Wesleyan the year after Roth and the Board took unprecedented steps to erode access and decrease spending on financial aid, by ending Wesleyan’s policy of admitting students on a “Need-Blind” basis (wherein students were admitted based solely on their promise as applicants, without knowledge of their ability to pay).
This year’s freshman class, the first admitted under the new “Need-Aware” admissions policy, which actively discriminates against poor students, contains 6% fewer students receiving grant aid, 4% fewer first generation college students, and 3% fewer black students, as well as smaller percentages of students from everywhere outside of New England than the previous year’s class. (Citation)