That’s writer/director Liz Garcia ’99 on the left in the red,
with Lifeguard stars (clockwise) Martin Starr, Josh Harto, and Kristen Bell.
Unfortunately, at both Wesleyan and the world of Hollywood in general, we don’t hear as much about non-male directors, leading the way in making movies for the big screen. There’s a bit of a gender gap, at least in what the media focuses on. But they’re hard at work, writing their own films and pushing them through competitions and studios. Case in point: Liz Garcia ’99, who wrote for Dawson’s Creek, wrote and co-produced Cold Case, and created and produced Memphis Beat.
Today marks the big-screen release of her debut film, The Lifeguard, which Garcia wrote and directed, starring Kristen Bell and Martin Starr. It appeared in the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, and now you can see it in theaters across the country. I talked to Garcia about The Lifeguard, her career in TV and now film, and the impact Wesleyan had on her life. She also had some advice for the Class of 2017, all of which you can read after the jump.
Darl Ferm ’12, second to the right in the hat, called his band’s new exposure a “surreal experience.”
When new bands emerge, press coverage revolves around two major aspects: the recorded music, and the live show. Nailing one will get you talked about; both, and you’re the new rising stars. Speedy Ortiz, coming out of Northampton, Mass. and featuring Darl Ferm ’12 on bass, have been hailed as funny, sharp, and explosive by blogs, magazines, and newspapers galore, gaining praise equally for their concerts and their debut full-length, Major Arcana. They are “best new music,” “best new artists,” and pretty much best new everything else you can think of.
Although most publications talk about the rock band’s witty and outspoken front woman Sadie Dupois, Speedy Ortiz’s lo-fi but finely constructed ’90s-esque sound stems just as much from the extra guitar, drums, and bass piled on top of each other. Darl Ferm ’12, a film studies major at Wesleyan, is the most recent addition to the band. He spoke to me about the recent success and popularity of Speedy Ortiz, how Wesleyan makes it difficult to be in a band, and his own personal influences and musical contributions. Oh, and Speedy Ortiz wants to play a show at Eclectic this fall, so somebody should make that happen.
“I don’t think we would have the same chance in this city if we went to any other school or formed in any other way. It had to be Wesleyan.”
Forget MGMT. Amanda Who? Das What? Wesleyan’s biggest hype band is The Rooks, a six-piece R&B/indie-soul band made up of a group of friends and members of the Classes of 2011 and 2012. The majority of them have settled in New York City after graduating, and since then, the band has released a handful of singles and now – finally – their debut studio EP, Something You Can Take. The album, now on Bandcamp for your free download enjoyment, is a must-hear for anyone who has a taste for classic rhythm and blues, hip-hop, indie rock, or really has ears at all. And, if you’re in the NYC area this Friday, June 21, The Rooks will be playing Fat Baby at 10 PM, so you can experience them live.
I had the opportunity to sit down for a Google Hangout with The Rooks frontman/lead singer Garth Taylor ’12 and drummer Nate Mondschein ’12 to talk about their new album, the forming of the band, the support of the Wesleyan community, and the difficulties of labeling a music style.
Our second (and maybe final) presidential interview is with William Chace, president from 1988 to 1994.
William Chace was only president of Wesleyan for six years, but between firebombings, racially charged graffiti, student occupations, and hunger strikes, he probably dealt with enough strife and campus unrest to fill two decades of Wes history. Twenty years later, Chace, a literature scholar and former Stanford administrator, still wrestles with his Wesleyan experience. “Those were the hardest years of my life,” President Chace told Wesleying. “It was a tough place for me.”
“Perhaps some of the problems were of my own making,” he conceded, “but I didn’t bomb my own office.”
Back in the fall, we contacted President Chace, who left the presidency of Emory University in 2003 and now lives in California, for an interview. “Well, of course,” Chace soon replied. “But please keep in mind that I left Wesleyan in 1994, some 18 years ago, and I do not have with me records of the time. So it will be memory, all memory, a facility at once pregnant with apparent certitude and often quite erroneous.”
President Colin Campbell’s portrait on the main floor of Olin.
At 35, Colin Campbell was the youngest president in Wesleyan’s history, and after 18 years at the helm, he became one of its longest-serving leaders. Though he wasn’t a Wesleyan alum and has never earned a Ph.D., President Campbell succesfully presided over some of the most immense change in the University’s history, from coeducation to the construction of the Center for the Arts and the Williams Street apartments. Beloved by a wide range of alumni and faculty, Campbell got to hang out with everyone from Joss Whedon ’87and Michael Bay ’86 to Bill Belichick ’75in the process. He left academia in 1988, but if you try to schedule a phone interview with him today you’ll learn that Campbell is Wesleyan’s busiest former president: he serves as president of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, which is funny considering a lot of Wesleyan alums end up in Williamsburg, but usually not that Williamsburg.
Back in the fall, Wesleying rather ambitiously set out to catch up with each of the three survivingformeroccupants of South College and give them a chance to reflect on their time in office. We weren’t entirely successful (we couldn’t get President Bennet’59 to reply to our emails), but President Campbell enthusiastically replied within the hour to express his delight at the idea. pyrotechnicsand I called him up one morning in February and chatted about everything from South African divestment to Das Racist to the time he nearly got pied in the face. Oh, and he also told us about the time a young Michael S. Roth ’78 occupied his office in protest in the 1970s. We found President Campbell to be a remarkably friendly dude. Read on for the interview.
Last year I interviewed a guy who found a mummy in his bed. Meet the guy who put it there.
A little more than a year ago, I posted an interview with a guy who returned to his Nics dorm room one night in early 1990 to find a rotting, 3,000-year-old mummy occupying his bed. Both the victim, Tim Abel ’93, and the perpetrator went on to champion the incident as the “funniest prank ever.” But what happened after the prank unexpectedly revealed quite a bit about Wesleyan in the early 1990s, the interconnected campus community, disciplinary confusion, mass media, the stranger side of alumni gift-giving, and perhaps even Egyptology. (Okay, maybe not that.)
For months I’ve wanted to talk with the perpetrators of the prank, who remain unnamed in news accounts and faceless in a TV interview. When one of them posted a comment (since deleted) on the post, I managed to get in touch. Let’s call him Craig Smith ’93. Smith (not his real name) is now a professional musician and a dad. But he’s not sure he’ll ever top the prank he pulled in the Nics 23 years ago this month.
As I wrote in 2012, the Middletown Mummy Mystery was more than just a good prank. I was an intergenerational legend that has “solidified its place in the lore of early 1990s Wesleyan history, providing some semblance of levity during a turbulent academic year characterized by generally unprecedented campus unrest, including a firebombing, a week-long hunger strike, racist graffiti in Malcolm X House, and the fatal shooting of Nicholas Haddad ’92.”
The tables and floor of Exley 137 are piled high with gluttonous food remnants—pretzel bags, sandwich displays, Dunkin Donuts bags, half-eaten pizza, chips and salsa, dozens of condiments and wrappers and sauces—but the eleven occupants of the room are far too busy staring at computer screens, coding feverishly behind glazed eyes, to take much notice. Tensions are high. Every once in a while someone grunts or high fives or messes something up and swears at a teammate. Evan Carmi ’13 is pacing furiously, staring at scripts and barking orders at his teammates, who remain surprisingly calm. I take a look at the screen, but it may as well be in Korean. (I don’t speak Korean.)
Meet the participants of the first ever Senior Week Hackathon, a heated, unimaginably sexy 36-hour coding competition organized by Carmi, Julian Applebaum ’13, and Anastasios Germanidis ’13. The participants, most of them Comp Sci majors, have been awake for the better part of 36 hours, camped out in this single, sweat-stained classroom on the main floor of Exley, and in a little less than an hour they will emerge into the world with the shiny, digital results of their tech-savvy soil. Basically, it is a slumber party for nerds. Naturally, they have been tweeting up a storm every step of the way (and enjoying free “swag” from their various sponsors).
“What we were doing at Wesleyan was taking place in the context of a much larger sweep of change in American history and culture.”
Sheila Tobias with NOW Founder Betty Friedan in the 1970s while Tobias was Associate Provost for Coeducation at Wesleyan. Image courtesy of Ms. Tobias.
In September of 1970, the same month Colin Campbell became Wesleyan’s youngest ever president, Sheila Tobias arrived at Wesleyan as associate provost. A noted author, scholar, and feminist activist, Tobias’ task at Wesleyan was different than that of any previous administrator—and different than any provost since then. Wesleyan had only just begun admitting women, and for the next eight years, Tobias was to oversee the inclusion of women in student life and assist the University in hiring and retaining female faculty. She was also instrumental in bringing the first women’s studies courses to Wes.
“It wasn’t a party school, but it was a school that catered to young men in all their glory,” Tobias says of the Wesleyan of the 1960s. “That was the place that I was invited to help change.”
While Tobias says that Wesleyan transitioned into coeducation more swiftly than many of its peers (“Wesleyan did it right”), she insists that the changes on campus were part of a much larger movement. “What we were doing at Wesleyan—namely, integrating a formerly men’s college—was taking place in the context of a much larger sweep of change in American history and culture,” Tobias says.
Wesleying is psyched to present an interview with Sheila Tobias, whose published books include Overcoming Math Anxiety, They’re not Dumb, They’re Different, Breaking the Science Barrier, Rethinking Science as a Career, and Faces of Feminism: An Activist’s Reflections on the Women’s Movement. For more on Sheila Tobias and her career at Wesleyan, see her website or this Special Collections blog post by Cordelia Hyland ’13.
It’s Thursday afternoon, and WSA elections are drawing to a close. You’re headed home from class, perhaps cooling off from a refreshing jaunt in the Freeman Athletic Center’s spacious main gym. Something about the air today urges you to make a difference in your community, and you resolve to exercise your right to vote immediately upon returning to your dorm. One particular candidate’s catchy slogans, likeable demeanor, and prioritization of social justice really resonate with you, and after receiving extensivecampaigncoverage via liveblog, you feel prepared to cast your ballot.
But wait! Don’t click that button just yet! Read this excruciatingly long, questionably serious group interview with the candidates first! MAKE AN INFORMED DECISION.
As “someone who has no connection to the WSA and can regard it with some amount of irreverent distance” according to an anonymous peer—let’s call him Zach—I was apparently well equipped to conduct this interview, although I have reason to believe vice presidential candidate Andrew Trexler ’14 knows my cousin. (Trexler and aspiring president Nicole Updegrove ’14 are running against an adorable President-VP ticket consisting of Mari Jarris ’14 and Chloe Murtagh ’15, as well as loose cannon wildcard Keith Conway ’16). Those of you brave souls who do chose to venture on past the jump may consider this interview redundant, long-winded, repetitive, and redundant, but I choose to think of it as EPIC and implore you to do the same.
Mari and Chloe like trying new things.
Trexler has already tried lots of things.
Keith has a lot more friends than I do.
Nicole has allergies.
If you cowards are discouraged by the impressive length of this interview, just think about how long it would take to conduct and transcribe it. I’m just saying. Seriously think about it. Blogging is a lot of work, but I do it because I love you. Or maybe I just thought you were cute, I don’t know.
Could this be the longest Wesleying post ever? Do I hate myself for writing it? Will you fall asleep while reading? Did I make any typos? Did one of the candidates have sexual relations with that woman? Isn’t the election, like, over already? WHERE ARE THEY?? Find out after the jump!
“If a campus as tight-knit and progressive as Wesleyan can’t come together to defeat yesterday’s monopolist and incumbent powers, then maybe it just can’t be done.”
Peter Frank ’12, the famed Internet entrepreneur who ran the CollegeACB empire from his Fauver dorm room and made his way into the pages of TIME Magazine before selling the site in 2011 for an undisclosed six-figure sum, is back in the game with a new start-up. Not quite as juicy as the ACB (but probably far more useful), Frank’s latest venture is Texts.com, a “lean, green, student-first platform” for students to buy and sell textbooks to and from each other online. The start-up made its Wesleyan debut on Foss Hill around 4:20 p.m. yesterday; you’d be forgiven for assuming it’s a service that provides free pizza to stoned Wesleyan students at all hours of the day (that’s my new start-up idea, don’t tell anyone):
Hope you’re hungry, @wesleyan_u – we’ll have pizza on the hill, and will be delivering munchies all night.Just DM us your loc. for goodies
With help from Lisa Sy ’13 and Benjamin Halpern (a student at Mount Allison University in Canada), Frank aims to build a “commission-free, zero-fee, student-to-student textbook exchange” that eliminates the middleman.