Move over, “Michael S. Roth ’78”—the Huffington Post has a new Wesleyan representative in town, and it’s Max Nussenbaum ’12. Sometimes known for his “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?” cameo (phenomenal audition video included) and his desperate attempts to get Sylvie Stein ’12 to go to prom with him, Nussenbaum has spent the last eight months or so in Detroit, working for Are You a Human as part of Venture for America’s inaugural class. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to tell your Wesleyan friends and Wesleyan friends’ parents that you’re moving to Detroit after graduation, Nussenbaum’s compelling recent Huff Post piece, “Move Where You Can Matter,” is worth a look—as it is for anyone who’s ever felt the urge to resist the gravitational pull of the Wesleyan-Brooklyn Alumni Industrial Complex:
I talk to a guy who’s spending his next year volunteering in a Nigerian slum, and he asks me why I’d ever move somewhere as downtrodden as Detroit. Everyone makes the same dismayed face, asks the same incredulous question: “Why would you go… there?”
And “there” wasn’t just Detroit. At Wesleyan, my alma matter — like at most elite schools — “there” was anywhere that wasn’t a select handful of high-profile cities: the Bostons and New Yorks, the D.C.’s and L.A.’s. We were a cohort raised with tunnel vision, a graduating class who couldn’t find Ohio on a map and who thought “Oklahoma City” was an oxymoron. Don’t get me wrong, I was more than guilty of this myself: I heard Venture for America talk about underserved parts of the country and my first thought was Queens — you know, since everyone was moving to Brooklyn.
Back in February, I posted about New Space, a fantastic collection of measured guitar buildups and stirring drones by homegrown guitar hero Ben Seretan ’10. The Duchampion alumnus recorded the record alone in a friend’s Greenpoint studio during the Superbowl. There was no bass or drums, because who needs bass and drums?
If you need bass and drums, Seretan writes in about In Two, an unsurprisingly stellar collaboration record between The Early, a Portland-based indie rock outfit, and himself. The album features more masterful six-string arpeggios, more emotionally fragile tales of driving cross-country and sleeping on porches—as well as full-band noise flare-ups (“Drive to Michigan”), feedback-laden spoken word (“All Dogs”), and muted guitar pop (“Onion Boy”). Lyrically, its themes include “dogs, Parsifal, stairs, driving around and listening to music, sleeping in places and on things, intimacy, earth cracking.” It’s also a good bit more song-driven and instrumentally varied than New Space, if that’s your thing.
As the album’s press release explains,
Emily Weitzman ’14 and Randyl Wilkerson ’12 performing “Eyes,” which won Best Persona Poem.
Emily Weitzman ’14, a member of the Wesleyan Slam Poetry Team, writes:
Spending a week in Michigan surrounded only by poets and poetry may have been the furthest from reality I have been in a while. But at the same time, I experienced more emotions in a short period of time than I ever thought possible. One poem would punch you in the face, the next would gently hold your hand, then you would be hiding under your chair in fear, and finally, you were crying from hearing a line that let you feel something you never knew you could. I have never felt more strongly that a poem can change your life.
Between April 6th and April 9th, weSLAM competed against 36 other teams in the College Unions Poetry Slams Invitational, the national spoken word competition at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. weSLAM advanced to the semi-finals and snagged both the Spirit Award and the award for Best Persona Poem, ultimately becoming the 7th-highest-ranked poetry team in the land of the free and the brave. But this is not what’s important here.