Monday, December 14, 2015

Greetings 12.14.15

Happy Monday, everyone! It’s actually a happy one, because this is the last official day of classes for the fall 2015 semester! We made it, kids. Pat yourself on the back, and then look forward onto finals and try not to cry.

Seriously, though, if you need some last-minute assistance, we at 3416 Boylan have regular hours today, and then special finals week hours on Thursday the 17th and Tuesday the 22nd. Not the 18th, because that’s when Star Wars comes out, but that’s beside the point.

who the hell drew this
 Over winter break, make sure to take it easy, even if just for a little while. I know most of us are either doing intersession classes or working through the holiday – I’m definitely one of them – but it’s important to seize some time to relax. Marathon something silly on Netflix, eat a box of chocolates, listen to an album and enter a new phase in your life, take a bubble bath, look at the stars, write something! Next semester we’re publishing The Junction and we want your submissions: prose, poetry, art, photography, anything. The deadline is in March, but it’s never too early to send off your work to

On a more personal note, this is my last semester as an intern, and I’m actually glad I get to do these greetings one last time. Working at the office, writing these blog posts, meeting some of the best people I’ve met in my entire college career…it’s been nothing less than amazing. So thank you, dear readers and friends.

Happy holidays, no matter what you celebrate. I hope you can spend this season with somebody you care for; every moment you spend smiling in the company of someone who brings you comfort is precious. May those moments be many.

Here are some cute Christmas-themed animals for the road.

Aww...they're so sleepy...

Awwwww look at their little outfits!!


News Briefs 12.14.15

Have Yourself a Merry Little Blitzed-mas

I like living in New York because, as a person who approaches most social situations with all the ease and confidence of a newborn deer, I can appreciate New York’s unique brand of generalized apathy. Nobody really cares to look twice at you, no matter what you’re doing or how you’re dressed. This is why we have to have a conversation about mobs of drunk people dressed like Santa Claus taking over neighborhoods for bar crawls.

Full disclosure: I don’t drink and I don’t get the appeal, so maybe it’s my problem that I don’t “get” SantaCon. I had to do quite a bit of research into this, but all my research merely validated my first impression of the event. A bunch of adults dress up in Christmas-themed outfits and drink a lot, and some people find them annoying. Shocking, huh? The organizers insist SantaCon is a positive experience, that most of their participants are upstanding citizens asserting their creativity, and that their event is simply one way to get into the holiday spirit. Or maybe just the holiday spirits.

This interview with an anonymous organizer basically boils down to “haters to the left” and is also hilarious: 

We see a lot of behavior from people who—which granted, could be anybody, any time, at any weekend—but when you put everybody in a uniform like that, and then you see them puking on street corners and having sex outside of Duane Reade…

Inside, actually. And it wasn’t sex, it was a handjob.

I’ve been to a few office parties in my day, but I don’t think I’ve ever given anyone a handjob in a Duane Reade.

You might not have.

Yeah. This dude literally just suggested that most holiday parties include routine handjobs. Hilarious.

I hate to be “that guy” here, but I’m gonna be. As much as SantaCon organizers insist they’re just spreading holiday cheer, and as much as Christmas has been commercialized and turned into a secular pageant, to some people, Christmas is still a legitimate religious holiday. I go to church on Christmas. At my house we’ve been lighting our Advent candles and reading from the Old Testament before dinner all month. To claim an event dedicated to getting drunk in public, especially when there’s a recorded history of bad behavior, is just innocent holiday fun is misguided at best, and insulting at worst. 

The event is proceeding as planned for now, with a loose estimate of the route of the bar crawl provided for public viewing. Some bars have declared they won’t be serving Santas, while others stand in solidarity. I won’t be participating – I’ll be doing all in my power to avoid crossing paths with drunk Santas, in all honesty – and I just hope everything proceeds without incident. Or handjobs outside Duane Reade.
The best outcome here is that the SantaCon crowd has a fight to the death with competing SantanaCon, because at least that would be funny.

No, Chante, SantanaCon is not about Naya Rivera. Unfortunately.


Google's Quantum Computer is Pretty Cool

Recently Google, in collaboration with NASA, revealed that they have a commercial quantum computer and it's actually pretty awesome. Now, you may be asking, "what's a quantum computer? Why's it so awesome?" Well to put it simply, a quantum computer uses quantum mechanics to store memory and functions, meaning that instead of using the digital bits of normal computers these computers are dealing with quantum bits (aka qubits). Qubits, as opposed to bits who are either on or off, can be in one of three different states: on, off, or suspended in a state of both (think Schrodinger's cat), and when I say on or off, I'm talking about the binary 1 or 0. This extra state allows Google's quantum computer, the D-Wave 2X to complete calculations 100 million times faster than any of today's machines.

In perspective, this doesn't mean too much for the average computer user. How much faster do you need to open up Microsoft Word? I mean your computer already executes a couple billion instructions every second, you don't need more to write that paper. Quantum computers can be used to calculate the trajectory of a spaceship in future missions further out into space, or to crack codes by brute force for the military, or optimize air traffic. They allow for more variables to be taken to account and make problems that would take a digital computer 10,000 years to calculate only take seconds.

Optimization seems to be the big word here, and finding the best possible way to do things is very important, but very soon it seems that we'll have more important questions to answer and will already have the tools to answer them.



                                             The Geminids and the Rose Planetarium

A group of meteors called the Geminids reached their peak viewing conditions this weekend from Thursday to Sunday morning. The source of the comets wasn't a comet but an asteroid, 3200 Phaethon, and this is what makes the meteor shower so unique. The asteroid was captured by a satellite in 1983, and now its residue is making its way through the sky in a show of color visible from Canada from Dec. 10th.

Geminids are meteors fall through the constellation Gemini. I didn't get to see the shower this year, but here is an image of a similar phenomenon from 2013:

A compilation of the 2013 Geminids. Image credit UKMON

It seems that each year the Geminids increase in amount by hourly rate: 253 in 2014, 134 in 2013, 109 in 2012. But I wonder if this is a matter of how many we are able to see, due to our sharpening technology and exponential advances. The Geminid meteor stream is also a very new one; or, perhaps simply newly observed. Sometimes, a whooshing sound can be heard as they fall, as they can set up an electrophonic feedback loop reflected off of poles and  buildings.

Why is this so fascinating to me? Like many disenchanted New Yorkers who visit the Rose Center for Earth and Space, I was unassumingly smitten with the planetarium and the revelation (spoilers!!) that the span of human history and art only spans about a hair's width relative to the gigantic vortex of stellar evolution. After entering the planetarium you are led over billions of years from the big bang to the present day, and leave not without the sensation of a very breathtaking and relieving smallness. I think I have found my new favorite place: an atrium in the center of the city secretly full of peace and silence.

At the center of the planetarium, at the top of the spiral and at the starting point of the Big Bang, instead of looking up at the sky you look down at the glowing outline of the city as it would be visible from an airplane, and this is one of the most calming sights to me.

- Anna

Currently Reading 12/14

[To the tune of the fifth day down of "On the First Day of Christmas"]

By the last week of winter break I will plan to read
The Undercommons
Do-o-o-o-on Quixote
Barf Diaries
Coyote Blue
 and The Average American Male.

-The Undercommons by Stefano Harney and Fred Moten - because of Lisa.
-Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes - because I read it first in Spanish which isn't my first language, so I totally missed some of the nuances.
-Barf Diaries by Dodie Bellamy - because Ramsey Scott.
-Coyote Blue by Christopher Moore - because he's fun and Vonnegut-esque and meta and funny and I love this writer
-The Average American Male by Chad Kultgen - because Chante.

Maggie ~ World War Z by Max Brooks
Courtney input: It's good [not great] but SUCH a zombie staple

Renee ~ Towelhead by Alicia Erian; The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips

Christian ~ The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
Tell me how it is!

Chante ~ Chelsea Girls by Eileen Myles; The Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures by Phoebe Gloeckner

Lisa ~ A travel guide to a safari; Solibo Magnificent by Patrick Chamoiseau


Anna ~ Middlemarch by George Eliot; Rilke

 Cat ~ In a Glass Darkly (The posthumous papers of the occult detective Dr. Martin Hesselius) by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
Props for best title!

Alana ~ Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Alex ~ Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

- Courtney

Poem of the Week 12.14.15

I’ve been waging an internal war with myself over this post all week and the arguments go a little something like this:

No Maggie you can’t write about Hamilton again.


And repeat. But you know what? It’s my last blog post (I’m retiring and I’m sad about it, honestly), it’s the end of the semester, Hamilton is amazing, and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s verses are the sweetest poetry I can think of. Besides, he did initially perform an early version of the opening number from Hamilton at a poetry jam at the White House back in 2009.

That performance is actually the crux of my post. So many artists I’ve studied are removed from me by generations. Don’t get me wrong; we do have stuff to learn from the canon, from the old masters who walked the path ahead of us. But the side effect is we get this warped view of art. The Great American Novels we’ve studied only exist in our head as the final draft. We don’t see revisions. We don’t see long nights sobbing through edits. We don’t see the rewrites, the sleep lost, the destroyed prototypes. Sure, if you study authors you see glimpses of the frustration that plagues the craft of writing, and of any creative endeavor, for that matter. But when you’re sitting up past bedtime glaring at a Microsoft Word document that just won’t work and you’ve got a copy of Lolita or Tender is the Night or Mrs. Dalloway grinning at you from your bookshelf, it almost feels like the greatest books descended from the heavens, not that an actual human being with thoughts and feelings and writer’s block created it.

Which is why you need to pay attention to your contemporaries. This Puerto Rican dude playing Alexander Hamilton on Broadway right now is my contemporary, despite the fame, and if you check out his Twitter, he talks about his writing process all the time. He sends out a message claiming he’s gonna get some writing done, and then two hours later he’s posting pictures of his dog and bemoaning his lack of progress. We’ve all been there. I’ve been there like twelve times this week. He’s also divulged endless factoids about Hamilton and his own idols and inspirations, answering fan questions and annotating the lyrics with his own asides. Learning about his sources, his struggles, and his approaches to writing a piece of work that I regard with such esteem has only enriched it for me.

It’s such a reality check when you remember the idols you put on pedestals are real people, because guess what? You’re a real person too, and that means you can do it just as well if you have enough drive.

For all intents and purposes, the 2009 White House performance is a first draft that will live on the Internet forever. Back then, the musical was merely a gleam in Miranda’s eye; his initial project was a collection of songs he referred to as The Hamilton Mixtape, and as I said earlier, this song became the opening number, eponymously titled “Alexander Hamilton.” The lyrics are, actually, remarkably similar. The most notable difference is while the stage version incorporates all the major characters as they discuss Hamilton, as well as Hamilton himself, the White House version is a solo track sung by Aaron Burr, Hamilton’s rival and eventual killer. Burr functions as an antagonistic narrator throughout the musical proper, in a way Miranda describes as similar to Judas’s role in Jesus Christ Superstar.

The other thing that’s fantastic about the White House version is the crowd reaction. “I’m working on a hip-hop album about the life of someone I think embodies hip-hop: Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton,” Miranda introduces himself. And the crowd laughs. And he retorts, “You laugh! But it’s true!” He goes on to describe Hamilton’s background, how he clawed his way up from poverty as a bastard orphan in the Caribbean to be a Founding Father, with nothing but his quick wit and writing skill. “I think he embodies the word’s ability to make a difference,” Miranda explains, with this obvious earnestness that’s impossible to refute. Honestly, isn’t that what we’re all trying to do as writers? Make some sort of difference with our words and our wits?

I could annotate all the lyrics to mark all the foreshadowing present in “Alexander Hamilton” but we’d all be here all day. I’ll touch on the most important ones. The melodic structure of the first few lines recurs constantly (“How does a…” and onward; the words following the initial question change each time they show up, in “A Winter’s Ball,” “Guns and Ships,” “What’d I Miss,” “The Adams Administration,” and “Your Obedient Servant,” all with Burr narrating). Hamilton’s repetitions of “just you wait” foreshadow Burr’s first solo song that doubles as a statement of his personal philosophies, “Wait for It.” The melody of the company singing Hamilton’s name crops up in “Non-Stop,” “The Room Where It Happens” and “The Reynolds Pamphlet,” all with ominous intonations, almost as though his name is warped into a curse. It does everything an opening number should do: it sets the tone and brings us into the world we’re about to experience.

So here, for your viewing pleasure, are both the White House version and the Broadway version, and I linked to the annotated lyrics, because it’s better when you know them. The first draft and the final, available for public consumption until the end of the Internet. Ron Chernow, author of the Hamilton biography that Miranda used as a primary source, describes the song as perfectly condensing the first forty pages of his book into a four-minute song. And Lin-Manuel Miranda is a joy to watch, so you’re welcome. Poetry in speech, poetry in motion.

Congrats to all of us for making it through the semester, and have a wonderful winter break!


Currently Watching 12.14.15

Has anyone heard of Marianne Williamson? Neither had I, until I accidentally found myself watching this video about a month ago. I had wanted to post about it as soon as I found it but didn't get the chance to.

I have the bad habit of tending to approach most media with skepticism instead of curiosity, so before she began speaking I have to say, I was not anticipating some of the things she had to say.

Questions that I have about this video are probably more illuminating than writing to try and say more than what she has said. One of these questions is whether you believe, given her glaring privilege, that what she is saying somehow has less merit. Another is whether you think that this is simply an anomaly in the world of religion, or if this is the way in which religion is evolving, given the fact that this speech was given earlier in 2015. I'm really curious to hear what people think.

I think that a good way to cope with suffering is to remember that the more one goes through, the greater weight their words can have and the more people can be reached. In this case Marianne is reaching out to everyone by channeling the spirit and wisdom of womanhood in order to redeem a system which is corrupt.

So: without further ado here is Marianne Williamson's speech at the Parliament of World Religions this year.

-- Anna

Currently Listening 12.14.15

Ghost Stories by WATERMEDOWN, "an album composed of demos written, recorded, and rehashed throughout the loneliest year of my life."

This album, despite being one of the most depressing in my library, is my go to album when I need to give myself some time to not think. It's no longer than twenty minutes and if it ever comes close to ending, it's always on repeat. 

I can't say exactly why I'm so attracted to this album; I mean the production value is low, none of the tracks are named, and it doesn't really try to put you in a good mood, but it's 3AM on a Saturday night where I don't plan on sleeping anytime soon and this is what I choose to drown out the maddening ticking of the clock and droning of the Staten Island Railway. There's just something about this collection of songs that keeps me level headed. In a way, when I listen to the album I feel like I have a friend next to me, telling me personal stories that they wouldn't normally tell any one else; it feels real, almost visceral. 

I almost decided on writing about how the ticking of a clock scares me, how the roaring of trains remind me too much of time, and how the singing of birds along with the rising sun is what I dread the most, but it's 3AM right now, not 5, and I have this album to keep me company. Three in the morning is the loneliest time but with these songs it feels anything but. 


Currently Eating 12.14.15

What am I currently eating?

You guessed it - breakfast.

More specifically, cereal - French Toast Crunch to be exact.

Let me tell you what French Toast Crunch means to me...let me tell you my story.

When I was four years old, my family moved from a roach-infested apartment building in the projects to a two story house a few blocks from the projects (in a different hood). Living in a household of seven, I grew up across the street from actual middle class people while still being working class - tenants among homeowners - thanks to my parents and their budgeting skills. My mother was, and still is, a coupon wizard (Shop Rite has owed my mom money on two carts of groceries on multiple occasions), and both of my parents knew that off-brand and sales were the way to go for everything.

Instead of Rice Krispies I ate Malt-o-Meal Crispy Rice ( the former went "snap crackle pop", the latter went "snep crickle pup"), Tootie Fruities and Cinnamon Toasters. 

      the broke ass cereal holy trinity

Once in a blue moon, the brand name cereals were on a good enough sale that my parents would bring them home in bulk. Fruit Loops and French Toast Crunch were my favorites.

But Froot Loops never got discontinued.

When French Toast Crunch got discontinued in 2006, I didn't realize it. Eating the cereal was such an infrequent occurrence that I didn't notice until two years later, after I moved from a house back into an apartment in the projects, that it had completely disappeared from the shelves. 
Now, I wasn't too surprised, as my last memory of FTC was of some new formula that tasted like ass. I figured the cereal must have been discontinued because the new formula was so bad that sales plummeted - which was not a good combination with the millions they must have spent advertising the change. I looked the cereal up to see if they were bringing back the original - but they weren't. Then it hit me - I would never taste that original flavor again. I would never get that puffy texture, that syrupy, exciting (IT WAS NAME BRAND!!!) flavor from my childhood.
I was googling profusely, trying to see if there was any way I could get this cereal - turns out it was still sold in Canada.

Good news: you could order it online.
Bad news: it was fucking expensive.

$13 for a box of cereal, plus shipping, WAS RIDICULOUS. I couldn't afford that. So instead I found my people, people who created petitions to bring it back. I signed, I campaigned for like five years. No change in sight. On March 24th, 2014, my jewel of a boyfriend gave me 3 boxes of French Toast Crunch for my birthday and I CRIED.
It was ridiculous, but I cried. I ate those three boxes so slowly, so much like a delicacy you would have thought it was the finest of caviar.

 The cereal was a luxury.
And people hated me because they didn't have it.
*hair flip*

Once, I left the box open and let my cereal get stale by accident...I immediately panicked, frantically searching for ways to make stale cereal crunchy again. I baked the cereal, as instructed by the Internet, and saved myself from doom.

Then, on December 5th, 2014, I woke up to a beautiful article that my friend posted on my Facebook page. It was like waking up to presents under the Christmas tree: General Mills announced that they were bringing back the ORIGINAL formula French Toast Crunch!

My long lost friend...


People went out and bought, and still buy, this cereal in droves. It tastes like happy mornings, like nostalgia - of course the old fans would stock up. I know I sure did - I mean not only was the cereal back, it was on SALE! 

So as this semester ends, and finals loom over my head, I'll be sure to partake in a little bowl of glee, of sweetness, of victory.

- Renee 

Canvas 12.14.2015

The Brooklyn Museum
Exhibit: The Rise of Sneaker Culture

The Rise of The Sneaker exhibit at The Brooklyn Museum was one of a kind.  I am writing about in in retrospect (sorry) but it was really incredible.  Initially, I went to the museum to view the Basquiat Notebook series, but I saw that this exhibit was also available.  It also didn’t hurt that it’s absolutely FREE FOR BROOKLYN COLLEGE STUDENTS (but I still donate something because If the museum ever closes I will look just like my friend Pepe). 
The most dynamic part of the show was an artistic representation of the African-American tradition of stepping that was used at the Rick Owens 2014 runway show in Paris. I was blown away because he used real steppers from actual colleges to participate in the show. It is incredible to see the passion and the skill that these women have.  It was also refreshing to see a different body type on a high-fashion runway show. Peep the video below!

I love the fact that sneakers are being featured in a museum and recognized as a work of art.  I also love the fact that the exhibit was situated within the context of Hip-Hop culture referencing artist such as Missy Elliot (video is siiiicccccccck and she is wearing an outfit in the opening of the video designed by Adidas just for her highness).

 RUN DMC are also a major part of the exhibit especially since they have a song titled 
My Adidas.

and others for their sneaker anthem songs, and their love of Adidas. What I also found interesting is how sneakers have come to represent social status (it's a big deal and a "true sneakerhead" knows the difference between Jordans, Lebrons, Foamposites and the like...So yeah I think I might be sneakerhead...even though I don't own any of those listed above and I can't afford anything in the images below #Struggles)

Coolest thing ever....

The gold ones though.....

I've always liked the black and grey Jordans, but they always sell out
and I'm too busy to sleep in front of Footlocker in order to get a pair
when they first arrive in stores. Alas.

Add caption

Coolest part of the night was watching everyone design the big sneaker on the wall.

Overall it was an incredible exhibit and I'm glad that I experienced it. I hope that they bring this exhibit not only back to New York but back to Brooklyn.

"Spread love it's the Brooklyn way."

                                     Notorious B.I.G.

One Love,

Lisa Del Sol