Monday, May 12, 2014

Greetings, traveler.

And so we come to the last chapter, in which Pooh and Christopher Robin go to the enchanted part of the forest, and we say goodbye.

"Goodbye? Oh no, please. Can't we just go back to page one and do it all over again?"

Sorry, Pooh, but all stories have an ending, you know.

"Oh, bother."

WARNING: If you don't like cheesy/cliche-y/saccharine overload/Pooh bear, don't read. On second thought, if you don't like Pooh bear, reevaluate your existence.

The time has come. All of my countless and sorrowful hours spent awake with a few ounces of caffeine in my bloodstream has boiled down to this. Alas, 'tis the last week before finals in my undergraduate career. It is actually numerically impossible for me to procrastinate any longer. Let's grieve together; misery loves company.

There's no coincidence that "studying" is a combination of "student" and "dying." (Also not a coincidence that there's a "die" in "diet"). But despite my melancholic tribulations, there's something sweet about the end. Aristotle says, "The end of labor is to gain leisure." And while I continue to behave melodramatically, above all, I know that I have not yet tasted true strife. It's quite terrifying to think only the best days of my life have passed. (Points to self, Okay, Madame Bovary, enough with your whining). Perhaps I'm just cranky because I've never looked more forward to my summer reading list than I have now.

My undergraduate experience is filled to the brim with sentiments of ephemeral people, places, assignments, and memories. "Sometimes," said Pooh, "the smallest things take up the most room in your heart." I could not have asked for a more pleasant experience and I am so grateful to have spent the past four years in a place that is slightly dysfunctional, but still worthy of calling it home.There's hope in tomorrow, but time is unsteady and ultimately, manmade. If and when the winds of change come sweeping, I know I'll somehow always land back to the place that gave me friends, comfort, laughs, cries, severe confusion/frustration, but above all, happiness, acceptance, and courage.

We're sunsetting some of our fabulous writers with this week's posts. Wish us luck as we transition into the next phases of our lives. Stay tuned for more awesomeness to come in the fall! Who knows, maybe we'll have some new categories to satisfy your Boylan Blog hunger. A very special thanks to Dr. Roni Natov and the interns of S2014 that allowed the semester to run smoothly and produce a fabulous edition of The Junction! Be sure to stop by 3416 Boylan to pick up your copy.
And as my esteemed effendi Pooh says, "How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."

But until then...



Quote, Quote

Meme, Meme, Meme, Meme

Gif, Gif

News Briefs 5/12/2014

No more teachers, no more books — unless you’re stuck here for summer session, in which case, bring your umbrellas.

Fellow New Yorkers, we have all long awaited for some relief from this relentless winter, well… we will soon be getting exactly what we have been waiting for — in the form of a harsh summer consuming us with stifling heat and humidity. I know we all get tired of slogging through the streets with inches of wet mush, that some consider snow, but I for one haven’t forgotten the sauna like feeling of my one bedroom apt. which struggles with two air conditioners precariously balanced in its windows, to provide me with some reprieve.

According to the Farmers Almanac, the North East can expect to be soaked by a wet and hot summer, which is not good for all of the beach days I have been waiting for. They say that we can expect a higher than average amount of rain across the New York area bringing with it thundery skies. This should only last for about two months before we get to August where it should begin to cool off and when we can expect to dry off from all the expected rain.

The Farmer’s Almanac has a pretty amazing record of making accurate forecasts, according to their website, they have an eighty to eighty-five percent accuracy rate, a pretty great statistic seeing as they have been publishing their predictions since 1818, “using mathematical and astrological formulas that include sunspot activity, lunar cycles and planetary alignment.”

With all of this weather which might rain on our summer parade, they do predict, however, that we should have clear skies for the fourth of July, but it won’t end there…

Supposedly there is a hurricane expected to threaten the “East Coast sometime between Sept. 16 and 19, and take a course similar to that of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.” YIKES!

Well, September is still months away and we do have a twenty percent chance that this won’t be our summer’s outcome, but if it is the case, I leave you with a list of all of the movie that should be hitting the theatres this summer. I know the movies aren’t cheaper than a street side umbrella but they will keep you much drier, and if you want to factor in the money you’ll save by leaving your air conditioners off, this could be a great way to battle the sultry summer to come…


6th Edge of Tomorrow
13th 22 Jump Street and How to Train Your Dragon 2
20th Think Like a Man Too
27th Transformers: Age of Extinction


2nd Tammy
11th Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
18th Jupiter Ascending
18th Planes: Fire and Rescue
25th Sex Tape
25th Hercules


1st Guardians of the Galaxy
8th Lucy and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
15th The Expendables 3 and The Giver
22nd Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Plus, movies make the rain look good-

--Maegan Ciolino

News Sources:

Image Sources:

Are Child-Free Zones a Thing of the Future?

Can you guess what these experiences have in common? 

1) On Friday, while seeing Aladdin on Broadway (which was an incredible show, by the way, I heartily recommend it) my back was unremittingly kicked to a pulp by a young girl whose mother evidently did not believe in telling her child to behave herself.

2) In January, on a flight from Los Angeles to New York, my eardrums were massacred by a baby who was screaming bloody murder…for the entire six-hour duration of the flight.

3) Last July, while vacationing with my family at Disney World and trying to enjoy a fun family dinner, our eardrums were massacred by a giant bunch of crying babies who not only screamed the way they did, but tried to escape from their parents’ arms and rolled all over the floor of the restaurant. Disney was definitely not the happiest place on earth then.

4) Five years ago, on a flight from Cairo to New York, I was about to call a chiropractor the moment the plane landed because I was kicked…and kicked…and kicked…and kicked…

If you guessed that in all of these experiences I was very, very annoyed by very, very loud and disobedient children, then you are correct. However, with child-free restaurants and child-free flights gaining popularity, the nightmare of dealing with the hell that is other people’s children might become a thing of the deep, dark past.

The struggle is real…

Child-free restaurants have been sprouting throughout the United States in recent years. Olde Salty, a restaurant in North Carolina, has a sign on its door stating that it will not tolerate children. Joshua’s, a restaurant in Maine, also banned children. The Sushi Bar, a restaurant in Virginia, banned anyone under 18 from eating there. Luigi Q, located in Hicksville, New York, has banned children under 14 since it first opened over 20 years ago.

Child-free zones on flights have also gained popularity, especially in Asia. Last September, Scoot Airlines, a budget airline in Singapore, introduced child-free seats on their flights, which can be booked for an extra fee. In September 2012, AirAsia and Malaysian Airlines implemented the same policy.

Many American and European travelers are pushing for the implementation of child-free zones on planes. In a recent survey by Skyscanner, 59% of travelers supported designating sections just for families, and in a survey conducted this month by, a whopping 70% of British travelers wanted child-free zones on their flights, both long-haul and short-haul. According to that same survey, about 35% of Britons would be willing to pay extra for seats in child-free zones.

Some people’s intolerance of screaming, kicking children has even led to lawsuits and altercations: In 2009, Qantas had to settle a lawsuit that involved a woman who allegedly suffered hearing loss after sitting next to a three-year old boy on a flight from New York to Australia. In January 2010, an entire family had to be removed from an AirTran flight to Florida because their three-year-old daughter was screaming, hitting her parents, and refusing to sit in her seat. In March 2010, a 42 year-old woman allegedly grabbed a three-year old boy sitting behind her because he was kicking her seat on a flight to Las Vegas.

Of course, the debate is brewing between parents and those who do not want to tolerate other people’s children. It’s understandable that parents would feel themselves (and their children) discriminated against on the basis of their child’s age. It’s also understandable that parents would like to have a nice evening out with their children, and even use the opportunity to teach their children how to behave in public places. However, selfish as it sounds, some people (myself included) do not want to deal with strangers’ kids ruining their night out. Some parents do not even make the effort to correct their children when they misbehave, which, to me, is the absolute worst. In addition to that, being stuck in a metal tube 30,000 feet in the air with a toddler throwing a temper tantrum is the most helpless situation a human being could ever be placed in. There are some people out there who believe in banning children from restaurants and from flights entirely. However, with child-free zones in planes and restaurants (or even child-free hours in the latter case) both parties can be happy. Parents can spend quality time with their children, while people like me can enjoy blissful quiet.

--Sarah Allam

Image source:

Read, Kids, Read

I doubt that anyone who's reading this needs to be convinced that books are the greatest thing since the invention of the wheel. Frank Bruni's op-ed in the New York Times recoils in horror at the new statistic that "fewer than 20 percent of 17-year-olds now read for pleasure." I do, too. What I love about this article is that Bruni synthesizes the therapeutic benefits people can reap from reading.

Anyone who's paid attention to the plethora of research that's been published across journals in the last fives years is aware that reading nourishes empathy, jogs brain activity, and enhances our ability to read people and interpret social cues. Bruni cites some interesting facts re: the benefits of reading, however. He explains that, if we read a little bit before going to bed each night, "we wake up with thoughts less jumbled, moods less jangled. It [smoothes] and focuses us."

This piqued my interest even more: "Daniel Willingham, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia, framed it as a potentially crucial corrective to the rapid metabolism and sensory overload of digital technology. He told me that it can demonstrate to kids that there’s payoff in 'doing something taxing, in delayed gratification.' A new book of his, 'Raising Kids Who Read,' will be published later this year."

Does anyone today know how to be patient, to wait for results, and to relish a "delayed gratification"? I absolutely do not. I'm always waiting for instant results, and if they're not instant, then I convince myself that I'm wasting my time and need to move on. I'm crippled by the fear of wasting some of the best years of my life and then realizing that I should have come to terms with the futility of my efforts sooner.

But reading teaches us - teaches kids, rather, to be patient, to delay gratification, and to embark on a journey. The older I grow, the more I wish I had the patience to deal with life's obstacles. Books teach patient. And imagine the new world we'd create if everyone were patient.

I'll let that sink in...

-Alex Hajjar


I remember my first time back in The States. I was fourteen and everything looked open and new; the green luscious trees, the shiny gray concrete streets, the fast food restaurants, and the big white and blue MTA buses intrigued me. Everything, beautiful and ripe in delicious newness, I became an Americanah.

The book Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie captures the story of a Nigerian. Ifemelu, the main character, got a student visa to the United States and became an Americanah instantly in the eyes of her friends and family. It is said that no one leaves Nigeria and comes back the same.

As the main character settles into her new environment, she meets different kinds of Americanahs. You could be an American African: born and raised in America, of African heritage and raised with African cultural ideals and values in the diaspora and you most likely go back to your country of heritage once a year. Or an African American, which is subdivided into two groups; a black person whose ancestors were brought through the Atlantic slave trade and a black person of African descent, who is raised with no African ideals or culture.

I just started reading this book and I can’t put it down. It is interesting how a book can tell the story of your life.

          – Eta Oyarijivbie

Brave New World‽

Oh, wonder‽
How many goodly creatures are there here‽
How beauteous mankind is‽ O brave new world,
That has such people in ’t ‽

I was going to write this piece as my final post as a Brooklyn College student, and writer for the Boylan Blog. I wanted it to be on the four-part poem included in my recent obsession: In the Dust of This Planet, by Eugene Thacker. I was going to offer another quartet of commentaries, (which you can find here starting at page 133). I wanted each one on part of the poem to play with the regenerating and re-proliferating of a text that seemed to have been written in as an imaginative experiment in horror/science/darkness mysticism, building off of my last post. This is because I am eagerly awaiting the second volume, Starry Speculative Corpse (Horror of Philosophy, vol. 2), and I would like to get enough people I know to read it when it comes out, so that we can talk about it. Despite my anticipation, The Medieval Congress happened.

Over the past week, something like 3,000 medievalists (+) converged on a small town in Michigan. It was Kalamazoo. Each year, the International Congress of Medieval Studies convenes, holding hundreds of sessions and meetings on various topics in Medieval Studies. While I was both unable and unworthy of attending (little undergraduate, wannabe-medievalist that I am), I was able to virtually join in on a few sessions by extension of the interwebs and the awesome people who live-tweeted the event. Luckily, when the Babel Working Group held their roundtable panel, #;()@?":—*!, there were many tweeters in the room. I was totally taken away from my work and wrapped up in following the stream as best I could...this was a panel discussion on PUNCTUATION. I slowly gathered from the tweets that the first paper was on SPACES...the spaces between words, the spaces that, in fact, compose words by virtue of their utility to separate. It was a truly awe-inspiring revelation. Then, someone noted that a paper would be delivered remotely via YouTube. I quickly searched for the relevant video and posted it. You can find it below:

Yep! This was a paper on THE INTERROBANG: strange, rare, beautiful moment of punctuation that means both the absence of question (pure exclamation) and absolute question (which always already exclaims). Corey Sparks gives a quick history of the genesis of the symbol, before launching into the possibilities that it could open up in poetry, especially in medieval poetry, which is devoid of punctuation, and therefore, devoid of a certain physicalized (paginated?) affectivity. Sparks notes that inventions of language (the interrobang was invented only in 1962) can offer new ways of reading that can be productive– once he applies it to Chaucer's Book of the Duchess, it seems like the only possible choice. In the session, Meg Worley noted that punctuation is the place where affectivity is coded; it is where the writer tries to direct the reader with pauses, breaks, and interjections, and it is also the place where the reader polices the writer, for properness, etc. Punctuation is a place of textual battle.

And so I wondered: can we, more than just apply what seems the proper meaning, develop new meaning with our newly affected punctuation? I think the answer is yes, as evidenced by my alteration of the very-well-known lines of The Tempest offered above. What happens when we actually alter the punctuation of a non-medieval text? I think that the interrobang actually carries over some of what my commentary would have; it is possessor and enactor of cosmic explosion, wonder, terror, curiosity, and awe. When I first came across the line "Brave New World," it was in the dystopian sci-fi novel by Aldous Huxley, so you can only imagine my surprise to find such optimistic ecstasy seemingly displayed in Shakespeare's play. But reading just these lines, one forgets that this is also an irrevocable loss: the loss of childhood, of parent; for Prospero, it is quite literally the loss of magic. And yet it seems that these lines are always read with pure hope, despite Prospero's response, which can instead be darkly foreshadowing: "'Tis new to thee," as in, the world is wonderous because it is new, but only to the person who has newly entered it, because Miranda cannot see the stain that actually exists in the world.

In our contemporary educational system, more people encounter Shakespeare on the page than in the flesh and through the air. This is not a loss, but a place for new opportunity; a place for really reading something into poetry; for absorbing what at first wasn't poetry-of-the-page onto the page, and creating new meaning in the medium. While many (including myself) have and might mourn this, it should instead be embraced. Different mediums also offer new possibilities, and new kinds of textual world-building.

If we replace Miranda's questions with interrobangs, as Sparks has done with Chaucer, the text itself becomes totally new. The wonder can be frightening; the many people only dwarf our individual selves, the beauty of mankind equally carries the terrible and confused construction of the post-modern human, the brave new world begins to take on a Huxleyan edge. There is a new reading to this that is Frankensteinian: what does the new creature, full of wonder and freshly gained life wake up to? What brave new worlds lie before us to be born?

Poetry offers a place in which there really is a battle between the writer and reader, especially when it is being read:

          will you follow the dictates of the line and stop short in the middle of the sentence
Here, where the writer tells
you to? –or will you continue on (ignoring)
the punctuated dashes which stop.
short frusturatingly, Emily Dickinson on her penetrative–
* * *

Our punctuation creates words, creates worlds. And here we must turn to the page, and in doing so, turn to ourselves. What brave new world is this‽

-Isabel Stern

*you can follow the full twitter session through #s391 and the whole conference through #kzoo2014
And get a full recap of all of the BABEL session presentations from Kisha Tracy's blog post.

Why I Love/Hate "Under the Skin"

The film’s main character, Scarlett Johansson, is a femme-fatale alien that drives a big white van in Glasgow, Scotland and preys on men with the allurement of sex. She lures them back to her lair that is made up of a consuming black void and while she undresses, they sink into a bottomless hell where their skins are detached from them. How the roles have changed. It reminded me of Buffalo Bill’s character in Silence of the Lambs, minus the attraction factor. Both movies are based on crime-thriller novels, but Under the Skin has more of Stanley Kubrick’s, Space Odyssey style to it. It sustains the viewer with intense visual imagery and music.

Like Buffalo Bill and the buxom alien that Scarlett Johansson plays, they both prey on their subjects for their skin, literally. Although Buffalo Bill is considered a sexual deviant character, (he preys on plump women for their skin so he can give himself a sex change) he is not sexually attracted to his victims, nor is Scarlett Johansson’s character, respectively. In the movie, she hardly lays a finger on her male victims, yet she plays a calculating cold-hearted killer. What I found intriguing is that her character does not have to use any physical force to draw her victims in, but most of her male subjects are hesitant to get into her van when she initially encounters them. At one point in the movie she says to one guy, “What? You think a woman can’t do something nice for a guy by giving him a ride?” (This sentence is not quoted verbatim, but it is something along those lines.) She purely attracts them on the pretense that she is just doing a good deed by giving them a lift. The men are nearly shocked that an attractive woman actively persuades a man into her vehicle without her being a prostitute. For them there has to be a catch, because ‘respectable’ women hardly behave in this manner. Right? Whereas, Buffalo Bill’s character uses physical force to get the women into his van with no charm. It comes down to physical violent force versus sexual deception, and which one perseveres in the line of power play between men and women? Under the Skin explores the dichotomy between sexual violence towards women and sexual deception towards men and I didn’t leave the theatre feeling as if I got closer to understanding this complicated phenomenon.

Why? Because the truth is that women, in comparison to men, have been subjected to being victims of sexual, violent acts in countless numerous ways, so it seems hard to believe at first sight that a young beautiful woman is capable of being a sexual predator towards a man. That’s what I found unconvincing in Under the Skin. Although, throughout the movie I was rooting for her continued existence as an alien, and I believe everyone else in the theatre was too, I could not hack how much of a parody it came off on the idea of a woman being the one who has the power to strip men out of their sexual agency. I also am not suggesting that women are incapable of being violent, but the alien is played by a young, attractive, and voluptuous Scarlett Johansson, which plays on the idea that the only way a woman is capable of being a sexual predator boils down to her attractiveness factor. I wanted so badly to believe that the power-struggle between men and women in a predatory sexual situation has reversed, and no longer do we live in a world where women live in fear of becoming victims of sexual violence, instead men have to live with the fear of being raped by a woman, but I am getting into controversial territory. However, there is a movie based on a true story where a woman is the sexual predator and that is Monster, with Charlize Theron and Christina Ricci. The movie is based on Aileen Wuornos (a prostitute who killed her johns) then was sentenced to death. But her reason for killing her "johns" was a reaction to the sexual violence, she encountered with men as a teenager and throughout her living as a prostitute.

Under the Skin is one of those films that make you think that such a possibility can exist; where a woman does not have to be sexually abused in order to become a sexual predator. There is a complex psychological aspect of her character, because she trapping these men does not stem from an emotional reaction of being previously abused, in fact, there is an uncanny stoic to Johansson’s character. But the only reason why she is capable of stripping these men out of power, is that she is sexually appealing with supernatural powers—she is not human after all, but the element of truth to that is that you cannot be considered fully human when you are such a cold-blooded serial killer.

I’m not saying that these men deserve what they had coming to them, but I am so over watching women in films and TV who are victims of sexual abuse, whether the story is being depicted as true or not. That’s why I loved the movie, because for once it was a woman playing the sexual predator with control. I hated it because her character’s pursuits are rather unconvincing and the attempted rape scene made me writhe in my seat. Perhaps I may have spoiled the movie for some, but I at least will leave out commenting on the film’s finale.

Overall, I did enjoy the movie. As I tend to gravitate towards movies that leave me feeling emotionally unstable, there is that element of disturbance that I am slightly attracted to and it is not so much that I revel in watching horrifying situations (I despise horror movies) but perhaps it is because I am not interested in movies that lack emotional intensity in order to make them digestible. The movie does have certain winning points; it visually pulses with aesthetic imagery and depicts parts of Scotland’s countryside with majestic montages.

Tempt yourself with the trailer:

-N. Granados


A Totally Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again

My brother has always been the adventurer of our family, and I his willing sidekick. This arrangement has only gotten better for me as we’ve grown up, now that he can get tickets to cool events and I can mooch off him. This past weekend it was tickets to the Manhattan Cocktail Classic gala, held at the New York Public Library.

I’m not ashamed of my firmly middle-class upbringing, but I’ve always had a sneaking admiration for the lives of the upper class. They live so glamorously, it seems, buying their designer clothes while I’m shopping at Forever 21, getting driven by their chauffer while I’m getting on the B6. So tickets to the gala felt like my way into their world. I had visions of debonair men and beautiful women dressed to the nines, fancy cocktails in luxurious rooms, and sparkling conversation with interesting people. I expected to become, for the night, part of New York City’s cultural elite.

Well, I got some of those things.

The night started off strong, with the thrill of stepping out of the cab (not exactly a chauffer, but it’ll do) on 5th Avenue and joining the crowd of well-dressed people on the steps of the library. And really, it was a sight.

Apparently, on my way to the line I passed right by the dad from Modern Family (not Al Bundy, the goofy one). My brother pointed it out to me; I didn’t even notice him. Breezed right past a celebrity, like I’ve been walking shoulder to shoulder with rich people all my life. Yeah, I thought, that’s how cool I am. Then my heel got caught in a cobblestone and I almost fell on my face. Whatever, I recovered quickly. But it kind of set the tone for the night.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t the party. The party was fabulous and I had a wonderful time enjoying (some of) the two hundred or so cocktails that were on display. My favorite thing was wandering around the beautiful building and finding the hidden surprises, some there for the gala and some just treasures in the building. Having a drink in the dimly lit study or under a gorgeous painted ceiling was definitely a highlight of my evening.

The carnival atmosphere was a sight to see as well. I would turn a corner and suddenly there would be a performing acrobat, or a woman making her way down the hall wearing a table of delicious cupcakes as a skirt, or a station of saltwater taffy that was being pulled as we watched.

And yet, even though the party was amazing and I had a wonderful time, I couldn’t help but feel I was missing something. Maybe it was the fact that I’m a 75 year old masquerading as a 21 year old, or that my feet were absolutely killing me because for some reason nobody thought seats were necessary at this gala, but most likely it’s that I put too many expectations on one night. Clearly I wasn’t going to make a whole new circle of friends, or catapult myself into the world of the upper crust, or whatever I was thinking. I was just there to have a good time, celebrating my first year of legal drinking with my brother, and in that I was successful.

So the next gala I attend, I will be going as myself and for myself. And I’m thinking I ought to expand my horizons even further; I hear the Met Gala is pretty good.


I Feel Home Here

I know I’m only twenty-one, but I’m getting old. Every day is bringing me closer to whatever happens when our bodies melt. And sometimes my skin itches to feel the ground the way lungs want fresh air in a gym locker room. I’m dying, you’re dying. We all know it. Sometimes I think, maybe we should all just get it over with.

But, we all dread death. The idea of nonexistence is so distasteful to us that we are not only careful of our own lives, but also the lives of others. We don’t drink and drive, we create policy that promotes healthy substances and bans toxic ingredients. Yet, there is noting more natural than being buried, or cremated, or drowned, or mummified. No greater symbol of enjoinment and eternality than unifying oneself with simple matter. So, why do we fear it? Because we do not know it?

Lately I’ve been a little afraid of life. The idea of being alive in some ways is more unstable, uncontrollable, and unknown than death. Climate change will affect the world in drastic and unpalatable ways whether I’m conscious to see it or I’m watching from a dirty basement apartment. Humans are killing other humans, kidnapping children, oppressing entire nations and cultures, condemning religion and non-religion. We are starving, sick, and deeply divorced from one another. It is impossible to think that senseless and without consciousness we will be worse off.

Although, we only see death from the perspective of living. Like in Thomas Nagel's "What it's like to be a Bat", man can only imagine what it is like to be a bat, but we will never understand "bat-ness" or be able to climb into bat-consciousness until we are a bat. I can only imagine how a human being would echo-locate, or flap its wings, upside down in a cave. Similarly, because I am living, I understand the perspective of living. But I do not and cannot understand what it is like to die, or be dead. Understandably, people find that to be uncomfortable. It's no fun to imagine being a bat when you're not a bat. It may even drive you crazy.

Somehow, right now, I'm more afraid of the things I do know here, alive. But maybe it is because I've begun to realize that I'm going to die.

Like playing, "which would you rather." Aneurism or cancer? Would you want to realize you're dying and slowly creep towards dust? Or, only to realize as its happening? Prepare yourself or propel yourself.

In high school when I was overwhelmed I would wait until it was dark enough that the moon was right above the yard. I would lay, shoulders down, in the grass, and it wasn’t always dry. My eyes would search the sky but it wasn’t about seeing stars. It was about touching the earth. I never had trouble seeing stars, they were behind my eyelids and through my bedroom window. Bright and small and so, so far. Sometimes, there was no better way to feel intimate with something then to put myself in the earth. Gravity is real, so close it slows your heartbeat. I can feel bugs crawling on my skin, and rub the grass down until I feel dirt. I feel home here.

Chocolate Chip Penance

Rather than trying some exotic or interesting new food, I decided to spend this weekend’s sudden outburst of beautiful weather wandering the botanic garden with some friends. Rather than trying to claim that I was feasting on the first nectar of summer and blah blah blah, or reviewing the unremarkable bar food that we got in the aftermath, I will be making up for my intransigence by bringing my fellow interns a batch of chocolate chip cookies this Wednesday. Occasionally I like to try a new, challenging recipe for chicken pot pie or some sort of fancy sides. This is not one of those recipes. This is the other kind of food. The simple, addictive formula of melt-in-the-mouth sugar, salt, and fat that never fails, no matter how hard you try to fight it… Especially served warm with a scoop of ice cream, they are some of the best cookies I have ever had. Here’s the recipe:

1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2¾ cups (12 oz) all-purpose flour *If at all possible, please weigh the flour
¾ tsp. smallish-medium coarse sea salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1½ tsp. baking powder
2¼ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine butter and all the sugar until it’s fluffy. Thoroughly mix in eggs and vanilla, then finally add the baking soda, baking powder, flour, and most of the salt. Bake at 360° for 12-14 minutes. About halfway through, I like to sprinkle the rest of the salt on top of the cookies to really hit the food addiction trifecta. Guaranteed to make up for any and all laziness.

--Keith Baldwin
Recipe source (slight variation):

The New World - Jason Robert Brown

Opening: The New World

 A new world calls across the ocean
A new world calls across the sky
A new world whispers in the shadows
"Time to fly, time to fly..."

It's about one moment
The moment before it all becomes clear
And in that one moment
You start to believe there's nothing to fear
It's about one second
And just when you're on the verge of success
The sky starts to change
And the wind starts to blow

And oh, you're suddenly a stranger
There's no explaining where you stand
And you didn't know
That you sometimes have to go
'Round an unexpected bend,
And the road will end
In a new world.

A new world calls for me to follow
A new world waits for my reply
A new world holds me to a promise
Standing by,
Standing by...

It's about one moment
That moment you think you know where you stand
But in that one moment
The things that you're sure of slip from your hand
And you've got one second
To try to be clear, to try to stand tall
But nothing's the same
And the wind starts to blow

And oh, you're suddenly a stranger
In some completely different land
And you thought you knew
But you didn't have a clue
That the surface sometimes cracks
To reveal the tracks
To a new world

 You have a house in the hills

 You have a job on the coast

You find a lover you're sure you believe in

 You get a pool in the back

You get the part of your life

 You hold the ring in your hand

But then the earthquake hits

 Then the bank closes in

 Then you realize you didn't know anything...

Nobody told you the best way to steer
When the wind starts to blow
And oh, you're suddenly a stranger
And life is different than you planned
And you have to stay
'Til you somehow find a way
To be sure of what will be,
Then you might be free...

 A new world crashes down like thunder
A new world charging through the air

 A new world just beyond the mountain

Waiting there...
Waiting there...

A new world shattering the silence
There's a new world I'm afraid to see
A new world louder every moment
"Come to me! Come to me!"

*          *          *
Jason Robert Brown is one of my favorite composers, primarily because I adore the honesty and particularity in his lyrics. As I approach the homestretch of my junior year and enter my final year of college, I can’t help but connect with every single lyric in this song.

I wrote a post earlier this semester with regard to my angst and anxiety about the future. I concluded it by comparing life to a video game and saying that if my life were perfect, I’d have nothing to look forward to or to work toward. Likewise, this song reminds me that—at some point in life—I can “have a house on the hills,” “a job on the coast,” “a pool in the back”—all the colors that blend into the portrait of the American dream. “But then the earthquake hits” and “the bank closes in,” and we’ll realize that we “didn’t know anything.” We’ll never know everything. I’m not meant to conquer life, let alone have a perfect life plan at the age of 21. The new world I’m entering will “crash down like thunder,” bombarding me with innumerable surprises that will “charge through the air” every time I think I’ve conquered life. “The New World” certainly doesn’t erase my anxiety, but it certainly assuages it. Thank you, Jason Robert Brown, for calming me down.

All the best, folks.

Alex Hajjar


Your mind will misplace things,
like that moment before your first kiss.
You will not recall how your lips trembled like a Holy Ghost,
or how your eyes drowned in the pink behind your lids.
It will come back to you,
like euphemisms for money
that fell through the hypothetical holes in your pockets.
One day, you will roll down your socks,
and strum the lines imprinted on your calves.
In between those ridges, buried under lint,
it will be there,
like keys found,
or eyeglasses that were resting atop your head.


Eliminating Misconceptions, Uncovering Silences on Immigration


While browsing on the Internet when I was supposed to be studying for a class, I came across a quiz on PBS Independent Lens on the myths and realities of immigration. I was completely interested. One of the reasons is because I took an earlier quiz on PBS on immigration during a class last year. Another reason is because I like seeing common myths on certain issues being debunked, whether they relate to race, gender, class, or in this case, immigration.

One of the reasons why I enjoy seeing common myths being debunked is because it is great to challenge the status quo. No, seriously. But another reason is because myths fostering misconceptions and ignorance lead to more harmful effects. In the case of immigration, they contribute to the stereotyping and suspicion of immigrants, particularly those who are people of color, which leads to discrimination or the acceptance of discriminatory policies. Learning the truth, rather than accepting the myths about immigration, helps create an environment in which immigrants face less hostility and alienation.

In one of my classes last week, I learned about the myths and realities of immigration. Most of the myths that were addressed and debunked included perceptions of immigrants as “job stealers” who “take over” the United States. But the most interesting myth that was debunked was the myth that immigration is solely based on the immigrants themselves rather than the economic effects of globalization imposed on by the United States. This reality is interesting since it highlights something important. Immigrants are not “taking” anybody’s job. Rather, they are leaving their home countries, where their job opportunities were snatched from them.

The PBS quiz provides an even more complex picture of immigration, not just in the United States but also in the entire world. Its questions challenge the idea of the United States as the main “immigrant nation,” the common profile of the American immigrant, the irrational claim that “illegal immigrants are taking over the nation,” the over-emphasis on the border as a way that immigrants travel to the United States, and more. Basically, what I am trying to say is take this quiz. Here is the link:

Another thing that I have discovered online is information about a documentary called Documented, which is by an undocumented American immigrant named Jose Antonio Vargas. Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who migrated to the United States from the Philippines as a child. Now he is an immigration reform activist who tells the story of his reconnection with his mother, who he had not seen in over 20 years, in this film. This film aims to debunk common stereotypes about the undocumented immigrant in the United States. Unfortunately, there are no screenings in New York City, meaning that the only way I could watch the film is if I travel to one of the screening locations…or if I pre-order. The link on information about the film is here: Check it out.

By actively challenging the myths regarding immigration and immigrants themselves, multiple forms of media aim to contribute to a new world, one that lets the voices of immigrants be heard.

- Jacqueline Retalis

Monday, May 5, 2014


Congratulations! If you’re reading this, it means that you somehow managed to climb out of the fiery pits of registration week and haven’t gouged your eyes out with a carrot peeler as a result of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Someday you’ll tell your grandchildren of the Dark Ages: the advent of CUNY First, the multiple breakdowns of every Brooklyn College website, the crying, the poor, confused college students writhing in pain on the floor as they agonize over their inaccurate degree audits, quarrels with the registrar, endless arguments with the financial aid office, and the crippling anguish that accompanies registering for Core Geology. Yes, folks, we’ve all been there, and we here in 3416 are here to nurse whatever lingering battle wounds you have—whether you still have to register for English classes, are unsure if you’re able to graduate, or even if you just need to vent while rocking back and forth in a fetal position in the corner of the office, we’re here for you.

That said, here are a few beacons of light at the end of this purgatorial tunnel:

This Thursday, May 8th is the Annual English Majors’ Tea. It will be held from 12:15-2pm in the Gold Room of SUBO. Come join us for an awards ceremony and a distribution of this year’s publication of The Junction literary magazine!

The Lily Pond Open Mic will take place on Thursday, May 15th from 12:15-2pm. Come share your brilliant writing with us!

And, of course, The Junction Function, our publication celebration, will take place on May 15th from 6-8pm in the State Room of SUBO. Be there, or be square.

Until then, we wish you well on finals, registration, and every other peril you’ll endure in these last few weeks! TTFN, ta-ta for now!


“Dear White People”

Justin Simien is the mastermind behind the film, “Dear White People.” Based off of his experience as a minority attending an Ivy League School, he had been inspired to write a script about it. Although its content is all based off of real life situations that minorities face day to day, it is a satirical film.

The original trailer for this film was released in 2006, which had gone viral. Simien thus began an Indiegogo account to raise enough money to bring his project to fruition. He asked for 25,000 dollars, but received a whopping 40,000 or the film. He won an Indie award and was later invited to the Tribeca Film festival in 2013. This year, he won the two Sundance Film Festival Awards for his project. The film stars Tyler James Williams (Everybody Hates Chris), and Tessa James (Veronica Mars).

It was very inspirational to hear that someone could take such a sensitive subject such as race, and turn it into something educational and entertaining. I find it hard at times to educate certain individuals about what is appropriate to say or do around person of colour, such as myself. I personally do not think it is my place to teach others about history and oppression, when they could easily open up a book, or google whatever it is that they need to know about my people or other races. “Dear White People,” is for everyone to watch and learn from. The comedy was on point, and the writing is impeccable. I was grateful that Justin Simien was brave enough to produce something that spoke for all people of colour.

~Bex Greene

Watch trailer here:

Phantom of the Opera

There are two types of people in this world (if I may dichotomize so freely): those who return to stories they’ve read time and time again like old, trusted friends, and those who cast them aside once they’re done with them. If you couldn’t guess, I’m part of the former group. Despite the ever-growing stack of books on my shelf that I tell myself I have to read, whenever I have a free moment I always reach for one I’ve read and loved before, and the one in my hand at the moment is The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux.

I first read The Phantom of the Opera when I was a sullen pre-teen trying to be “deep,” so I probably wanted to get it more than I actually got it. But reading it again this time, I really enjoyed how truly clever and horrifying and thought-provoking Leroux’s book is. A former journalist, Leroux wrote his novel as though it were a factual account of events, using letters, police reports, and journals as “evidence,” and I, for one, willingly suspend my disbelief and fully give in to the existence of the Opera Ghost, stalking the halls of the Paris Opera and obsessing over the young soprano, Christine Daae. And clearly, many others have been similarly taken in by Leroux’s tale, which has been made into numerous films and stage productions. With an ill-fated love triangle at its center between the Phantom, otherwise known as Erik, Christine, and her childhood sweetheart, the Vicomte Raoul de Chagny it’s not hard to see why the story has been so well-loved (and marketable), but none of them quite get at the heart of the tragedy Leroux wrote.

I could go on and on about everything I love in this book: the mystery, the horror, the romance, and I could probably write a dissertation about which man is the right one for Christine and why. But I think the most spectacular thing about Leroux’s writing is the compassion he has for Erik, the villain and the hero of his story. He’s the source of all the terror, all the violence, but he’s also the one who saves them all by sacrificing himself. Leroux doesn’t just present a monster; he looks at Erik’s past, what led him to those terrible acts of desperation he commits. If I learned anything from Leroux’s writing, even from the first time I dimly understood it, it was to expect a real humanity from a book’s characters.

-Elizabeth Coluccio

Finding Poetry Beyond Poetry. The Mystery of Iniquity

I thought to myself: "What should I pick as the poem of the week? Should I have posted a classic? Or written an original piece?" Somehow, neither of them appealed to me. After a long weekend, spoken word seemed to be the best way to relieve my stress. As I watched each poem performed one after another, I came across this song/poem by Lauryn Hill. You may argue that I just picked a song and passed it off as a poem, but where does the boundary between song and poem lie?

While you mull my questions over, enjoy this piece:


When I was a kid, my family had a half dozen tapes that cycled through our VCR (I can feel my bones growing brittle as I type those letters) on something close to a monthly basis. Among these was Terry Gilliam’s bizarre Time Bandits, which found its way into my heart as undoubtedly the strangest film in our collection—following the exploits of a young boy who is kidnapped by a group of time travelling dwarves on the run from God (if you thought Labyrinth was weird, you should check it out).

Since then, I have come to appreciate some of the subtlety and cleverness that I missed as a kid, and have sought out more of Gilliam’s work. It is a treasure trove of over the top imagery, sneaky visual references, and beautiful physical effects. Over the weekend, I finally got around to watching one of his films that had been on my list for some time.

Brazil is a whirling, disorienting, absurd sci-fi film that takes place in a bureaucratic dystopia of the retro-future. Sam Lowry, the protagonist of the story, is a low-level government official who is happy just to get by with relatively few responsibilities while skirting the ambitions of his powerful mother, who is as determined to make a success out of him as she is to make herself twenty again.

Through 2.5 hours of stultifying paperwork, infuriating technology, deified consumerism, and cheerful propaganda rubbed in the faces of helpless and claustrophobic masses, it becomes clear why everyone—including Sam—is completely indifferent to the way things are. The system that runs their world is so monolithic and so oppressively ordered—requiring special paperwork for even the most basic of home repairs—that there is no room to imagine any of it changing. Incapable of being shaken even by the ever-present threat of terrorist bombings (which are treated as a trivial nuisance, to be ignored even while the victims are being hauled off), Sam’s only escape comes in the form of an epic hallucinatory dream in which he is a mythic hero charged with saving a beautiful woman from legions of monsters.

When his dream starts seeping into reality, Sam is driven to change his life in ways he never meant to, and suddenly finds himself an enemy of the state. Without giving too much away, I’ll simply say that Brazil left a bad taste in my mouth. For all its wacky imagery and the jaunty soundtrack, Gilliam’s take on modern life is a bit too accurately depressing to be entirely comical. Definitely worth a watch, but only if you’re prepared for the possibility of overwhelming existential angst… Otherwise, I’d stick with Time Bandits.

-Keith Baldwin
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The Role of Culture in Musical Performance

The Role of Culture in Musical Performance

The role that culture plays on musical performance is not only important, but also interesting to investigate. There are two things that I have listened to that especially explore cultural traditions in performance: the recordings of Zora Neale Hurston from the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the “Singing the Gods: Songs of Devotion, Praise, and Invocation” event at Brooklyn College.

Recordings of Zora Neale Hurston from the Works Progress Administration (WPA)

Zora Neale Hurston is mainly known for her novel, "Their Eyes Were Watching God." I remember reading that novel in my English class during my sophomore year of high school; however that was far from being her sole accomplishment. Hurston also wrote "Dust Tracks on a Road", "Mules and men,""Tell my horse," and "Jonah’s gourd vine."Unfortunately, I haven’t read any of these books.
As well as being a literary figure, Hurston was an anthropologist. Hurston worked with Herbert Halpert and Stetson Kennedy in the Federal Writer’s Project (FWP) during the Depression era. The FWP was one of the programs in the Works Progress Administration (WPA,) a work-relief program created by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1935. The FWP had a Folklore Section, which conducted fieldwork that included songs and stories. The fieldwork served to preserve cultural traditions from generation to generation. The recordings that Hurston made started in 1935 and ended in 1939. Hurston’s songs record traditions and folklore in both the Southern United States and the Caribbean, two regions rich in culture of the African diaspora.
Another interesting aspect of Hurston’s recordings is its relative obscurity. I find this to be significant. When Hurston died from a stroke at a welfare home in 1960, she was unknown until Alice Walker, a well-known novelist, discovered her and then published an article titled “In Search of Zora Neale Hurston” in 1975 in Ms. Magazine. Walker does this not just to bring Hurston’s talent as a black woman writer and scholar to light, but also to keep cultural traditions of the African diaspora alive. By containing her recordings, the Florida Memory Division of Library and Information Sources, does the same thing.

Here are all of the recordings:

Singing the Gods: Songs of Devotion, Praise, and Invocation Event at Brooklyn College

Although I am not religious, when I saw the flyer of the event “Singing the Gods: Songs of Devotion, Praise, and Invocation,” I was immediately interested. The event explains the role of culture and hybridity present in spiritual songs of different immigrant communities in Brooklyn.
The first performer was Winston “Jeggae” Hoppie, a Guyanese musician, storyteller and poet for over 35 years. He performs as Baptist churches in Brooklyn and is an expert at Guyanese kweh kweh songs, combining Christianity with Guyanese culture. When I heard his performance, I felt a strange sense of comfort since his performance sounded like the songs I heard in my neighborhood as well as other Caribbean-American ethnic enclaves.
The second set of performers were comprised of Shobana Raghavan and her student, Amrita Vijay, who study South Indian classical music, performing Carnatic hymns across New York City. The performance was calming; while I listened to it, I felt as if the stress that I felt was lifted at that moment.
The third performer was Rita Silva, who hails from Bahia, Brazil. Bahia is home to a large population of residents of West African descent. This reflects in Silva’s music, dance, and religious rituals, which mix Roman Catholic and Yoruba tradition. During the performance, I was awed by Silva’s powerful voice and her high amount of energy.
The last set of performers consists of Said Damir and Aminou Belyamani, Moroccan musicians in the Sufi gnawaa tradition. The performance captured me due to the musicians’ versatility and choreography.
But, my favorite part of the event (which was probably all of the audience members’ favorite part as well) was when all four sets of musicians performed together, creating a piece that combined each of their cultural patterns that represented Brooklyn’s diverse community. That performance, indeed, was the definition of cultural exchange.
- Jacqueline Retalis

IMATS 2014

I love shopping.
I love makeup.
I especially love shopping for makeup.

My love for makeup began seven years ago. I was obsessed with anything hair (updos, extensions, treatments, styling, funky-looking wands, etc.) but after deciding to wear the hijab, I knew I had to find something else. That’s where makeup comes in. Fast forward six years and I’m working at a prestigious cosmetics company.

Every April, I attend IMATS, or, the International Makeup Artist Tradeshow. Vendors come from all over the country and world to showcase their products and give live demos. Plenty of industry “celebrities” hold meet ups, give autographs, and take pictures with their fans.

Two members from the cast of Syfy's Face Off
I actually saw them in person!

What’s the best part? The discount—duh! Last year I attended on a day open to the public. It was pleasant, but many items I wanted to purchase were sold out; not to mention the lines! This year I had the privilege of attending a pro-only day and it has made all the difference (yes, Robert Frost liked makeup, too)! The discounts were steeper, the crowds smaller, and nothing was sold out!

The culture of makeup is inviting. Most artists are unique, benevolent, and accepting. It requires an individual art medium that cannot be duplicated. I love working on people’s faces and it’s rewarding to make them happy.

One of the many whimsical characters displaying products.

Beauty comes from the inside. Makeup is temporary. You can spend hours applying it and minutes removing it. It does not conceal embedded blemishes. But sometimes, a little color on the outside doesn’t hurt.

And as I always say—

The longer the lash, the closer to heaven!

Until next week,

(a flying) NH

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The Subharmonic Murmur of Black Tentacular Voids

*This post is inspired by a poem of unknown origin that has randomly been circulating on the internet.

A word such as “illumination” is a hard pill to swallow. Filled with its own deceit, as if the light will cast some knowledge on what may lie otherwise hidden. Why must we always characterize knowledge in terms of the light? As if light is such an illuminating thing, as if light doesn’t blind you when it casts its aggressive glare into your eyes, as if light will actually fix that fact that we don’t know, and indeed, cannot know the means of our own existence. As if light does not obscure the things in its way. Why do we think that light is the answer? It opens us up like petri dishes under some unholy eye, the creeping voyeuristic presence of surveillance that is always here, even when we are alone, even when we are cast in light, perhaps especially when we are cast in light.

Over and over I have heard of these special bacteria that live only in our elbow-pits, a billion cities in the crooks of our intimate bodies, maybe behind our knees, making foreign what I once perceived as home. There are unbounded infinities between me and the bodies that I interact with on a daily basis. Yet this presupposes that we exist without each other. So there are unbounded infinities between me and the bodies that I intra-act with on a daily basis. There are unbounded voids between me and this table, and it is the light that makes me think that I know it. But it is not of my world, and I know nothing of it. How does this table articulate itself to itself? In a totally inhuman, and perhaps even anti-human way, for its force pushes against me as I push against it, hard edges creating craters in my skin. Each atom communicates its exact qualities to the atom that lies beside it; they structure each other into hardness, denseness, into glossy shape and the color of tan striations.

“Illumination” is a word so obscuring that it doesn’t even have an antonym. Find it; I may be wrong.

The subharmonic murmur of black tentacular voids. Below the harmony of the heavenly spheres. Below as in less-than, below as in under, whispered into the cavern of unhearing ear. I should propose a word such as “inumbration,” and maybe even that is somewhat of a far call. Not to cast a shadow, with the positivity of the form of our immanent beings pushed out of the world in vertical potrusion, but rather to be thrown into shadows, to be placed into the dark. Not to shade or to darken, the word acting subjectively on non-agentic exteriors, but rather the subject becoming subjected to a radical non-being. This is the point of anti-knowing, where we may find revelation inumbrated to us. Find your not-your-self in this cloud of unknowing. Such voids reach out to grab us, a million mangled manicules malevolently marking us out even if we ignore their daily presence. Of course, we know the void is never a void, for its definition is made by something being in it, by something being thrown into the darkness.

-Isabel Stern

Image source
In The Dust of This Planet

Throwback: Chashama's Art Exhibit at the Brooklyn Army Terminal

The Canvas

I interned at the Home Reporter newspaper about a year and a half ago; one of my first assignments was to attend Chashama's Art Exhibit at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. I don't entirely remember every detail about the exhibit (other than how breathtaking it was), so I had to pull up the article I wrote to refresh my memory:

On September 8 and 9, the Brooklyn Army Terminal glimmered with local artists’ paintings, three-dimensional canvases, sculptures, and photographs as a part of chashama studio’s open annual open studio event.

The event granted Brooklyn’s own independent artists a chance to showcase their work, allotting each artist a small room in which they could strew their pieces for the public’s viewing. Artists were visibly delighted to not only have the opportunity to display their finest artworks to the general public, but to meet other artists from the Brooklyn area and bask in the creativity. “It’s been really nice to have this event,” said Leola Bermanzohn, Brooklyn-raised painter and muralist. “It’s great to see local people coming through and learning about the artists here; and it’s great for connecting to the community.”

Artists were split up and situated in two different buildings labeled BAT A and BAT B in the Brooklyn Army Terminal, located at 140 58 Street in Sunset Park. Both buildings had their doors open to the general public—free of charge—and allowed visitors to move in between floors and peruse different exhibits.

The open house also acted as a competition; attendees could have opted to register online before or during the exhibit and vote for their favorite artists. The winner will have a chance to present his or her work at the Brooklyn Museum on December 1. Competition is not what incentivized artists to enroll in the open studio, however. “I think the competition aspect is the smallest part of it. It’s really the antithesis of what this is all about. The event is just a nice way to get the public involved,” explained Abby Goodman, featured artist.

Artists were both overwhelmed and humbled by the community’s response. At the entrance to each gallery, small notebooks overflowed with email addresses and phone numbers of people who were interested in staying abreast of the each artist’s progress. “It’s been an incredible opportunity. So many people have showed up,” said Tirtzah Basel, Israeli artist currently living and working in Brooklyn. Chashama’s second annual open studio event received an astounding communal response, leaving both artists and Brooklyn’s conjoining neighborhoods excited for next year’s event.

For more information on the event, the artists and the chance to vote, visit and navigate the “Sneak Preview of Our Artists” link.

The artist who made the picture above isn't quoted in the article, which surprises me (yeah, I surprise myself at times) because her artwork was by far the most creative and intriguing, in my estimation. Every canvas she made was made out of different colors and types of tape: electric, duct, scotch, etc. I'll admit: I have nothing insightful or profound to say with regard to her artwork. I can only romanticize it and say that I adore its originality. I'm sure we've all had to answer, "What constitutes art?" before for some class in which the teacher was trying to stretch our minds to an abstract realm. For me, originality usually constitutes art. If you can create something--anything--that hasn't been done before, you've created art. I don't mean to imply that unoriginality isn't artistic; if you can take something that's been done before and put a refreshing spin on it, you're artistic. I don't know; perhaps I'm trying too hard to reduce an issue that's too abstract and open-ended. But, seriously, who'd ever think to use TAPE to create a canvas? And how can that not be considered art? And if so, that begs the question: Do we judge art on its originality?

-Alex Hajjar

Maz Mezcal

If you’re looking for a place to unwind and kick back a few, Maz Mezcal Restaurant and Bar, is the place to be. Located on East 86th between first and second avenue, this Upper East Side eatery is the go to place for a refreshing (and strong) Margarita. I enjoy their original Margaritas on the rocks without salt. Sometimes I pair it with a shot of Cabo Wabo Silver tequila. I live dangerously. 

On a Warm day, their frozen Strawberry Margaritas are a cool way to get your drink on. They use fresh strawberries and add a lemon twist to it as well. 

Aside from their delicious alcoholic beverages, they have complimentary bottomless chips and salsa. They offer a boat with three compartments, filled to the brim with three different salsas: Pico de gallo, tomatillo a.k.a. “green crack,” and mild salsa.

If you are interested in sports, margaritas, and delicious authentic mexican food, then you should definitely find your way here. I recently watched the Kentucky derby here, and I had the best time cheering and toasting along with their friendly staff. Also, if you can make there on Cinco de Mayo or on The Day of the Dead, I guarantee that you will have a blast. Cheers!