Culture

  • Artists in Residence

    Eldar Djangirov was just nine years old and still living in Kyrgyzstan when the late New York City jazz aficionado Charles McWhorter first saw him perform at a jazz festival in Novosibirsk, Russia. Struck by his mature talent on the piano, McWhorter urged Djangirov’s parents to bring him to the U.S. so their son could develop his already blossoming musical gift. In 1998, family followed their American dream to a quintessentially town, Kansas City—which they chose for its historic link to jazz—and began spending his summers studying piano on a scholarship at Michigan’s prestigious Interlochen School of Music. He rapidly earned a reputation as a child prodigy, appearing on Marian McPartland’s NPR show, “Piano jazz,” at age 12—making him the youngest performer ever to appear on her program.A sophomore music major at the University of southern California until recently, Djangirov has three albums and hundreds of performances under his belt.For the young man Billboard called “the fastest...
  • Tech: Facebook Faceoff

    Only in your dreams can you buy a puppy for 50 cents and a private jet plane for $1.50. But in Cyworld, the newest sensation in online social networking sites, your dreams can come true.“Cy” means “relationship” in Korean and it’s what www.cyworld.com is all about. But from its customizable “Minimes”—cartoon characters made to look just like you—to your “Miniroom” that you can individualize using “acorns”— Cyworld currency that can be bought with 10 cents worth of real money—the site is a haven for self-expression.Kimi Pasamonte, a 25-year-old grad student at Cal State Fullerton and member of Cyworld, loves the site’s creative capacities. “I had [my minime] designed during Halloween to be Red Riding Hood since that was my Halloween costume this past year,” she says.Michael Streefland, vice president of marketing for Cyworld in the U.S., says the site’s creativity is what distinguishes it. “People take a lot more risks,” says Streefland. As a result, Cyworld is “more substantial and...
  • Theses Pieces

    Every year, tens of thousands of your classmates write thesis papers. Most are too long, some are weirdly specific, and a bunch are just plain boring. We grabbed a few, though, that seemed worth a second look."Pardon Martha: An Image Restoration Analysis of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia." Michaela Hermann, Stetson University"Heavy Metal Sub-Genres: A Content Analysis of Lyrical Themes." Paul Gibson, Stetson University"Re-reading Xena: Lesbian Subtext and the Exploitation of Women in Science Fiction Fantasy Television." Margaret Twigg, Stetson University"Breaking All The Rules: Queen Latifah's Representations of the Black Female Body In Film." Angelica ...
  • Ole South

    Who says that corsets and sabers are gone with the wind? Old South Weekend, a weeklong event hosted each spring by the brothers of Kappa Alpha, has recently raised eyebrows for some of its antebellum traditions.To celebrate their "southern heritage and strong historical background," some KA chapters host formals where guests go in full Civil War regalia, with the men in Confederate uniforms and the ladies in full "southern belle" hoop skirts. "Old South is the one formal that all sorority girls want to go to," according to one excited blogger on a greekchat.com forum. "Who wouldn't love to dress up like Scarlett O'Hara and have her size waist and Rhett Butler's shoes under their bed!!!" says another.However, some interpret the event less as a frothy costume party than as a relic of a darker era. KA members, though, were quick to defend themselves, citing the innocuous origins of the tradition in the 1930s when a brother was inspired by General Robert E. Lee's "honor, chivalry and...
  • Middle East meets West

    If reality TV has taught us anything, it’s that there’s something captivating about unlikely housemates. So what happens when 10 young women—four Jews, three Muslims, one Hindu, one Christian and one agnostic—move in together?In an effort to foster religious tolerance among Muslims and Jews, Danielle Josephs did just that. The Rutgers University senior founded the nation’s first Middle East Coexistence House this year. Josephs pitched the idea her sophomore year with the aim of making Jewish and Muslim students “get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” The house has not only debuted successfully, but its model is also spreading to other campuses, including Michigan, Syracuse, Yale and Tennessee.The experience is not about holding hands and singing “Kumbaya,” says Josephs, who has lived in the house all year. The women, selected from on-campus religious organizations, don’t shy away from debate, a frequent occurrence during a required class on Middle East conflict resolution, or...
  • The Pill...for Men

    Men may soon kiss condoms goodbye and make space in their medicine cabinets for a new kind of pill... no, not the purple pill.Today the only methods available to men are withdrawal, condoms and vasectomy. But a fourth option is on the horizon.Contraceptive injections, pills and patches are in development and projected to be on the market by 2015.The Center for Research in Reproduction and Contraception at the University of Washington in Seattle is currently experimenting with an injected micro-capsule that gradually releases testosterone over three months, resulting in sperm levels dropping to zero. Harbor-UCLA Medical Center is testing a combination of progestin and androgen implants that would be safe, inexpensive and entirely reversible.Even more interestingly, the Shepherd Medical Company in Vancouver announced the development of an Intra Vas Device (IVD) that inserts, via a small hole in the scrotum, a tiny silicone plug that blocks the tube of sperm travel.But don’t despair...
  • Travel: Huge In Asia

    Worried about your plans for after college? Never fear—you can always become an Asian celebrity.Nate Houghteling (Harvard ’06) and Kai Hasson (Yale ’06) are attempting to do just that through their new website, HugeInAsia.com. The site, launched this past December, documents their travels in pursuit of fame in Southeast Asia through hilarious video logs, profiles and daily blogs.“After college, most of my friends went into either pornography or contract killing,” joked Houghteling. “I said to myself, I’m more responsible than this. So I decided to travel for a year.”The fellow travelers, friends since kindergarten, get 400-1500 hits a day on their site. According to Houghteling, “I’m hoping the site will be entertaining to a variety of people and that, of course, it’ll make us famous beyond measure.” After all, there’s not much else to do with degrees from Yale or Harvard.
  • Remember This: Tamagotchi 1996

    Little plastic toy eggs with three little buttons… oh, you know you were guilty of at least having one clipped on your backpack in elementary school.Dangling from a keychain, these mini-computers simulated the life cycle of a pet. Proud owners would care for their digital pets with the hope that all of those hearts on the happiness meter would stay filled. With its introduction of the Tamagotchi in 1996, Bandai launched a pop culture phenomenon.In addition to a rocking 40 million units sold worldwide, these digital pets flew off the shelves at a record rate of 15 per minute in the U.S. and Canada at their peak. And when schools started banning them as distractions, some mothers could be found cruising the supermarket aisles with a Tamagotchi strapped onto their purses.For those wishing to relive the days of virtual feeding and grooming, there’s a new generation of Tamagotchi, this time with infrared communication between Tamagotchis, special training for your pet’s future job and an...
  • Film Theory

    Ever wonder how much bullshit is in your average Hollywood blockbuster? At Current we certainly do, so we’re tracking down experts to find out. This issue we turned to Emma Dench, a visiting professor of classics and history at Harvard, to separate history from myth in “300.”Almost everything we think we know about classical Sparta is based on Athenian and Roman wet dreams and dubious political fantasies. So it’s unfair to be pedantic about the details of the Spartan king Leonidas’s valiant stand against the Persians in the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC. The ancients, who drooled over reenactments of Spartan whipping contests, would have enjoyed “300”s taut macho drama, with its tight leather underpants and “laconic” clichés at every turn. Frank Miller’s and Lynn Varley’s comic book, on which “300” is based, continues old traditions of reinventing the Spartans and Thermopylae, and both comic and movie introduce some quirks of their own. The Spartans allegedly institutionalized...
  • X Marks the Spot

    Around the same time that super-skinny celebrities were taking back Tinsel Town, another, starvation-free way to bare your bones emerged. Perhaps it was a fascination with the scruffy but so-sexy Jack Sparrow, but 2006 was marked as the year of skulls and crossbones.The tale begins in spring 2003, when Alexander McQueen models trod the runway brandishing skull-emblazoned scarves. Back then, only true cognoscenti could be spotted flaunting the poison-hazard imagery, but since it’s been branded on everything from Citizen of Humanity jeans to Ed Hardy shoes, and popped up in places like Minnie Driver’s wardrobe and Mischa Barton’s jewelry.The macabre motif is doomed. With the coming of spring, 2007 will be a year of more cheerful prints—70s-esque, animal and floral, to name a few. Perhaps heavy-metal fans will still stroll through America’s malls mocking death with their fashion choices. But for the rest of us, there’s always Halloween.
  • Box In a Box

    A few months ago, if you were to meet Melissa Lamb, a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania, you probably would not have thought of a box in a box. But fame has come suddenly for this YouTube prodigy, known to most of us as Bunny, the face behind the spoof of JT's wildly popular SNL skit, "Dick in a Box." In a Current interview, Lamb reveals a little bit about the girl behind the box. ...
  • Cheatsheet: Habeas Corpus

    You think you learned the word in your fifth grade class, and it still comes up in your political science course, but when asked to give the meaning, you’re hard-pressed to come up with the words. Sound familiar? Georgetown University students thought so. When asked to define the term habeas corpus, the capital’s best were stumped.It’s the law that states you can’t hold a person for murder without the body…is that right? —Kathy (Senior)Oh, habeas corpus. That’s the Marine slogan…or is it the Navy? I don’t know, one of those. —Lena (Freshman)Habeas corpus…well, Abraham Lincoln suspended it during the Civil War. Oh man… I learned this in high school. It’s a law about how long you can hold someone in court, I think. Is that it? I can’t remember! —Arthur (Freshman)I have no idea, I never took Latin. Did you check Wikipedia? —Christine (Senior)Isn’t it, like, evidence? —J.C. (Grad Student)According to Merriam-Webster online dictionary: Any of several common-law writs issued to bring a...
  • Cuddle my world

    Maybe the first night of your freshman year was awkward. At least you didn't ask a stranger if you could caress his shoulder. But, according to REiD Mihalko and Marcia Baczynski, founders of Cuddle Party, that's your loss."We need more touch in our lives. Period," Mihalko says. Since 2004, his answer to this problem has come in the form of Cuddle Party, a company devoted to throwing self-described "affectionate play events for adults."This February, the University of Southern California invited them to join its Gender and Sexuality week. In Cuddle Party's campus debut, 20 students in pajamas transformed a regular dorm common room into the site of nuzzling, spooning, backrubs and the signature Cuddle Party puppy pile finale.The parties are facilitated by certified Cuddle Lifeguards who ensure consensual cuddling. Questions like, "Can I hold you now?" and, "May I touch you here?" are encouraged, and their website states clearly that erections should be embraced. ...
  • Bored @

    We’ve all been there. Sitting in the library, not ready to start that paper. Why not invite a fellow classmate to have some library sex? Or share your darkest secrets? Thanks to boredat.net, students at 11 college libraries are able to do just that.Jonathan Pappas started the network in February 2006 during his senior year at Columbia University. The websites, which adopt the name of the particular school’s library, allow students to anonymously post thoughts and respond to others’.“What would students say if they could say whatever they wanted?” asks Pappas.Anything, it seems. Posts include everything from sexual fantasies to political opinions to one bored library-goer’s request for a response from any “gaysians.”The sites, which have since expanded to all the Ivies, Stanford, MIT, and NYU, boasted nearly 500,000 posts as of early March. No more pesky chat room pedophiles to ignore—just your horny classmates.
  • Classroom: Celeb Studies

    Looking for a class to fill those last three credits? Now, if you’re a student at George Washington University, you can learn how to write for the tabloids.Although pop culture classes have been taught for years, this course covers more than just the history of celebrities, even requiring students to cover and write about a red carpet event.But Linda Kramer Jennings, a former D.C. bureau chief of People Magazine who now teaches the 20-person course, insists that it is not a lesson in tabloid fluff, but, in fact, is worth those three credits. “The field of pop culture within sociology and American studies is very well-developed, and taken seriously,” says Kramer Jennings.Still, students can fill their cravings for gossip. Each week, the class reads articles from the likes of Vanity Fair and the New Yorker, for example.So, might Celebritology 101 be coming to a university near you? Celeb-themed courses are being taught at Syracuse, Georgetown, and the University of Southern California...
  • Television: Back To The Real World

    Rehearsing with his Star Wars cover band, Nate Dern never expected that he would be making out with a blonde bombshell on national television weeks later. But after one 10-minute audition tape, a flight to L.A. and a final interview with Ashton Kutcher, this Harvard senior was doing just that.For eight weeks this past summer, Dern filmed “Beauty and the Geek,” CW’s reality TV series that pairs eight “beauties” with eight “geeks” and pits them against each other in competitions like assembling a computer for the beauties and speed dating for the geeks.Dern was approached in Harvard Square by casting agents who encouraged him to tryout.“They told me they thought I would be perfect right after I mentioned I was the lead singer of a Star Wars rock band,” says Dern.Dern and his partner, swimsuit model Cecille Gahr, navigated the competition well enough to make it into the final two, losing, in the end, to fellow Harvard geek, Alan “Scooter” Zackheim, and Playboy model Megan Hauserman.But...
  • John Banville Meets His Alter Ego

    I find him living—I was about to write holed up—in an anonymous apartment building just across the river from Temple Bar, that God’s little acre laughingly known as Dublin’s Latin Quarter, and such landmarks as the Clarence Hotel, owned by Bono. This is a version of modern-day, tigerish Ireland I would not have associated him with. The quay on which his apartment building stands is named Bachelor’s Walk, which conjures swaggering Regency rakes, and this is a bit better, though not quite it, either. Fog, coal grit, whiskey fumes and stale cigarette smoke, these are the atmospherics of Benjamin Black’s Dublin.He buzzes me in through the front door and I climb three silent flights of stairs. The silence tells me this is a childless establishment. Children do not figure in BB’s world except as victims, rejects, pawns in an appalling power-game. But immediately I have to make an adjustment: BB is not Quirke, the troubled and troubling hero of BB’s first novel, “Christine Falls.” For all...
  • Backstage: Space Pimpin' All Over the World

    "If you are a human being, then you will hear about The SpacePimps at some point," the band's flyer proclaims. "They are the best band ever to be placed on this fine planet they call earth." They may talk big, but Pittsburgh powerpop band the SpacePimps have a huge sound and packed resume to back it up. What's more, their remarkably level-headed vibe makes the bravado seem downright sweet. The young, accomplished ensemble rocks out around the world with an eclectic blend of 90s pop, old school punk, and sheer hard work.Born in May 2002 when the crew was still in high school—frontman and guitarist Rishi Bahl and drummer Jared Roscoe attended "a really strict private high school that did not give you room to breathe," says Bahl—the SpacePimps came together in the simplest of ways. Three guys (Bahl, Roscoe, and bassist and vocalist Brian Cain) discovered that they shared similar music tastes and the same longing for a creative outlet. But the band has long since made the enviable and...
  • Women and the Holocaust

    A tiny piece of cellophane smudged with bright red lipstick, a bra hand-sewn with thread from a blanket, a comb made out of scrap wire and a camp uniform adorned with a single bead. These are some of the artifacts on show at a new exhibition at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. “Spots of Light” is a stunning multimedia exhibition that displays Holocaust experiences from a feminine perspective for the first time, pinpointing the ways in which women held on to their identity under unbearable circumstances.More than 3 million women—Jews and other minorities—from all over Europe were sent to the Nazi concentration camps during World War II. Unlike standard documentation of the Holocaust, this is not an exhibition of blame or a catalog of evidence but a glimpse into the most intimate moments of women struggling to live against all odds. Women in ghettos, partisans hiding out in forests, young brides who write letters to their mothers explaining that their loved ones will soon...
  • Starr: Don Imus Is Us

    The fallout from Don Imus’s racist and misogynistic remarks about the Rutgers women’s basketball team has led to one of those periodic and quintessentially American paroxysms of disapproval, contrition and repentance. But the response of the mainstream media—and CBS radio and MSNBC, in particular—is as hypocritical as it is revealing.  [Late Wednesday, MSNBC announced that it will no longer broadcast the Imus radio show].Using stereotypes—about blacks, Jews, women, and gays and lesbians—has been a part of Imus’s act for decades. I first listened to his show when I moved to New York in 1989 as a 22-year-old writer for NEWSWEEK. His comedy skits were often the subject of water-cooler discussion, so I felt Imus was must-hear radio. But I soon discovered his blatantly racist skits made my skin crawl. His “jokes” in the 1980s and ‘90s included skits in which the radio host and his sidekicks mimicked African-American public figures with deeply offensive stereotyped voices or called them...
  • Satire: Bush, the Senate and Pesky Judges

    In a move that seems guaranteed to create more controversy for his embattled administration, President George W. Bush today fired the entire Senate Judiciary Committee.Critics were quick to question the timing of the president’s decision, coming as it did just days before Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s scheduled appearance before the Senate panel on Thursday.But in a briefing with the White House press corps today, Bush insisted that the mass sacking of the Senate Judiciary Committee had “nothing to do with” Mr. Gonzales’s impending appearance.“I just thought these folks needed to spend more time with their families,” the president said.  “Especially that bastard Ted Kennedy.”Immediately after Bush announced his decision, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee cried foul, arguing that the president has no constitutional authority to fire members of the U.S. Senate.But Bush was quick to shoot back, telling reporters, “The only people who can determine what is constitutional...
  • Ornish: How to Fix Health Insurance

    Because of a growing awareness that the current system is unsustainable, reformers are promoting disease prevention. A look at one campaign leader.

Pages