Far Away

By Akshat Goel

…. to just go. Pack up everything I have. Well, maybe not everything. Just what I need, all in a cloth duffel bag, and I’ll tie the bag up and swing it onto my shoulders and just go. I am going to go and not look back, not stop, not think about anything twice, go every single place I want to go, but can’t right now because I am trying to conform to a socially generated definition of success that I didn’t have a say in generating. I am going to go to a place where nobody knows me, where nobody cares what I say or what I do, and where what is private and what is not is unambiguous.  Where there is no rat race and no one’s in a hurry to get anywhere and the people talk softly and listen well and are introspective and quiet. Most of all I don’t want to go to a place with traffic. Traffic is noisy. I don’t need background noise in my life.  And I don’t need crowds.

The first thing I am going to do once I get there is to go to a concert and listen to music. Not just any music. I want to go to a concert and listen to music where the band has a saxophone player. Not just any saxophone player. Tenor sax. I like the tone of a tenor saxophone better than I like that of other instruments. When you see a saxophonist flowing well with his head arched as high as it can possibly go and his hat (the saxophone player in my head always wears a hat) at a superbly acute angle ready to fall off his curly salt – and – pepper hair, moving from note to note as fluidly as a dolphin leaps up for a golden moment above the waves and then merges with the sea again, you think that there has to be something wrong. For one instant he makes you believe that there is no artist-medium dichotomy and that his second arm is actually from a Yamaha (in my head the maker of the saxophone is always Yamaha) assembly line. This sounds almost mystical but I can imagine every detail in my head. And after the performance is done and the rest of the band leaves and the audience disperses and it is just me and the saxophonist I am going to ask him why he does what he does. How come he managed to find something he likes to do that does not involve sending random e-mails out to random strangers that you do not even care about but where he can just focus on mastering his craft…and he is going to answer. And then I will know…

Victor Pruett

By Alida Miranda-Wolff

Mornings in the city are cold. The sky bears down on the streets like a grey palm, pushing the crowds forward slowly until everyone bleeds into one collective of distorted faces. Victor did not know where he was, and amidst the blurred flashes, those elusive Chicagoans, he could only see one face, her face.

She had not come to see him. He waited for so long, but she never came. He tried to write her letters but suspected she’d burned them. He couldn’t wait any longer, so he left his house and bought a plane ticket.

Victor called her before he departed. He left the details of his flight on her voicemail: his flight number, his terminal, his arrival time. He asked her to please please please please please be there when he landed. If only she’d come back to him, everything would be different. He’d keep his thoughts to himself. Really, he would. She wouldn’t have to watch over him any longer, he promised. He would stay in one place, with her always, and he would be happy. He knew he would be happy. He wouldn’t blame her anymore. He learned his lesson well. Just please be there.

The plane landed early in the morning. The pilot’s muffled voice said something to Victor, but he could no longer hear. He was too concerned with the raised nodules underneath his skin, embedded in his forearms. They undulated slowly, painfully–thick scarabs trapped underneath his paper-thin flesh. He wondered when they would dissolve back into his yellowing skin. He pulled his sleeves over them, convulsing slightly in order to appear cold. It was cold outside. Who would question him? February in Chicago! Of course he would be cold. Everyone was cold. So cold.

Victor walked off the plane and into the airport. It occurred to him that he had no idea where he was. O’Hare? Midway? Did it matter? Would she know where to find him? Did he tell her where? Of course he did…he would never forget to tell her something so important. Would he? Victor smiled at a security officer, but the man just scowled. He felt so disoriented. He could not tell where he was or what he was doing. People, people everywhere, straight-faced and absurd in their coats like bags of feathers. Trash bags. People dressed in trash bags. This was not the sort of place to live, where everyone looked so tightly wrapped, like taped-up packages. He knew he should not tell her that though. She loved this place. At least, that’s what she told him when she left.

Victor knew she couldn’t have left because she didn’t love him. No, it couldn’t be that. She was especially made for him. She had to love him. She just loved the city too. That’s all it was. And couldn’t he love the city? Yes, he could do that. He was sure. So he came here: to be with her, to love her, to love her city. He was here now. Was she? Just please be here.

He waited at the gate. And waited. And waited. Every last passenger from his flight had disintegrated into the thick, artificial Chicago air. There were no incoming passengers, no security guards, no flight attendants, only Victor. He could hear a faint drumming sound coming from behind the walls. He sat silently, hoping that the drumming would stop, but it only grew louder. The nodules under his skin became agitated quickly. They began undulating to the beat of the drums, and as the sound grew louder, they pressed against his skin more violently. They were trying to break free. He crossed his arms and rubbed his hands against his sleeves, hoping to keep them inside. He couldn’t restrain them any longer. A thick brown scarab leapt out of his forearm, tearing open his thin skin. His sleeves turned red as more and more scarabs tore through his arms.

He could only pray that the drumming would stop. Until then, he would have to chase after the scarabs and put them back in their rightful place. He counted the blood spots on his sleeves: nine. He sank down to his knees. He grabbed an especially large scarab by its hind leg and forced it into his mouth. It struggled wildly, trying to climb back up his throat. Victor swallowed hard, drowning the scarab in a thick torrent of saliva. He swallowed seven more before the drumming stopped. The last scarab dissolved into the floor and the rest nested comfortably in the pit of his stomach. The blood smears on his sleeves cleared away, and his shirt looked as clean as it had hours earlier. Silence heals, he thought. If only the world would stay silent.

Victor did not like noise. He heard nothing in the airport, but he knew the noise would come. New passengers arrive, new staff members, new visitors–they would fill up the space like balloons. Once there were too many of them pressed up against each other, they would all burst together loudly, shaking the ground underneath him. Then, his insides would come to life, and he would have to hide himself before anyone caught sight of his “disorder”. She was the only person who had ever seen them, the nodules. She wasn’t afraid. Not even a little. That’s when he knew he loved her.

He thought of the words to say to her. I’m sorry I lost control. I’m sorry. I couldn’t…I couldn’t help myself. There was too much noise. Too much noise everywhere. She had to understand. She knew what it was like for him. So…embarrassing. He told himself she would be there soon. She had to be. What did it matter if she was real or not? The point was that she would be there for him, there to take care of him. He just needed to be taken care of–couldn’t she see that? How could she be so selfish, running off to live her own life? He needed her; she had no right to leave him. There is no gap between where I end and you begin. Can’t you see that? Neither of us can make it without the other. Just come back. I’ll forgive you. I will.

He thought he could see her face, staring back at him from behind a glass door. He walked up to the glass and pressed his face into it. He looked right at her, but before he could reach through the glass and clutch at the misty tendrils shooting out of her chest like dim gray sun-rays, she willed herself into smoke. She was no longer his, but some sickly stranger, trying to lure him into uncertainty. A stranger with brown hair and dark blue suitcase. Another person altogether. It was wrong. The whole thing was wrong. He didn’t deserve to be tricked like this. He didn’t want a stranger. He couldn’t trust this woman with her large suitcase and dark sunglasses. He turned his back to the glass door and returned to his seat. He would just have to wait.

Hours passed, and Victor was still sitting alone, waiting. He began to worry. She was not the sort of person who would put him through such an ordeal. Something must have happened to her. He knew she loved him. She loved him far too much to ever let him suffer like this. He believed she must have lost herself somewhere in the city, trying to find him. How could he ask her to come look for him? It was too impossible of a task. He saw her, trapped between two dumpsters somewhere in the most obscure part of town, calling out his name. He needed to find her, save her. If only his ears would stop ringing from the noise, that constant, monotonous noise. It was the noise one hears when held underwater for too long. The sort of noise that makes you choke on yourself until you burst apart into a million jagged piecest. He held on though–he could always hold himself together…for a little while any way.

Remember, there’s nothing to be afraid of…nothing at all. Victor stared at the glass doors resolutely. He was going to go find her. The exit sign flashed red above him, casting its light across his sallow face. There were people behind him. They clicked their tongues as they spoke in their alien language. Victor couldn’t stand it anymore, these people with their vacant expressions and incoherent talking. So much talking. He wanted to turn around and kick them. That woman, who clicked and clicked and clicked about nothing, nothing at all. He would just kick her in the chest until she fell to the ground. And then he’d kick her again and again until she could never click again. He knew what she was doing–clicking her tongue about him.

There was a long line behind him. Everyone was trying to get out of the airport, as if it were burning. Was it burning? Victor saw ice all around him, but no flames. Concentrate. Do not look around. Concentrate. He looked behind him, and then stared out the doors again. A security guard was approaching him directly. He spoke loudly and slowly. Victor feared he was being scolded. He couldn’t tell though; he couldn’t understand the language the guard was speaking. If only he could explain to this guard that Chicago was an unfamiliar place. He did not know where to go. He could not even remember where he came from. He would leave the airport, he promised. He could do it if everyone just stopped clicking.

An hour later Victor was on a train. He was not sure how he had gotten there. He recalled being pushed through doors and then falling heavily onto the pavement outside of the pavement. He hadn’t seen any sky, so he though he might be trapped in a tunnel. Before he could stand up and find the sky, an angry businessman stepped on his hand. The pressure of the man’s foot was relaxing. Victor had just laid there on the pavement, hoping to be stepped on again. He did not remember anything else.The train shot through the city like blazing bullet, but Victor was not afraid. A part of him hoped he would never have to choose a stop. Then, maybe he could absorb into the vinyl seats. If only he could become a part of the train. It wasn’t time for that though. She needed to be saved. He could feel it in his chest cavity. He understood that she was alone, frightened. If he saved her, she would have to come back to him. No, he would enter the city now. It was his time.

As Victor walked downtown, he lost control of his legs. He was sure he was floating above ground because he could feel himself moving, but his feet were not on the ground.  No one in the crowd seemed to notice. He tried lowering himself on the sidewalk, but the effort proved ineffective. He just needed to focus on something.  He tried to pinpoint a location…somewhere something was happening. He remembered that he had been looking for something. What was it? He saw a lake and a river and tall buildings with different names…Hancock, Water, Willis, Aon. Who were these men made of steel and glass, towering above the rest, supercilious and self-involved? Victor didn’t like those sorts of men. He averted his eyes and continued walking down streets.

So many streets. Where was she? First he ran down 31st and then Randolph and then Wacker and then Wabash and then Oak and then Michigan and then 47th  and then Milwaukee and then Ohio and then and then and then and then…

He saw her face.

Everything was quiet. Slowly, the wind tore down the buildings around them. It carried away children in strollers, young men in coffee shops, elderly couples on benches, until finally, everyone around him had been lifted up into the clear, cold sky. They were all alone now. He stared into her dark green eyes, as wide as flying saucers. They peered into his scornfully. So you found me then Victor, didn’t you? But is it really me? How can you even tell anymore?

He grabbed at her wildly, but his hands were not strong enough to hold the vapors she left behind. He did not understand her bitterness. He needed to ask her what he had done wrong. But how does one ask a ghost for answers? He looked for a place to sit. The wind had not yet restored the city to its natural state, so there were no longer places to rest. He hoped to see a lone bench in some obscure corner of the big, open park, but the sun was too bright. It blinded him. He could see nothing.

Victor collapsed on the sidewalk. He tried to keep his body from leaking. The grey-green acid living in his stomach would burn right through his clothes, and then he would just look like some unclothed lunatic lying on the sidewalk. That’s not who he was. He couldn’t control his maladies. If there was a pill that could fix him, he would take it. But all pills were made of sugar, and sugar just made him bleed. If he wanted to bleed out his disease, he’d stop keeping his leeches tied up in his ribcage and set them free. No, he would not let anyone call him a lunatic, even if his clothes did burn off. He was a good person with a sound mind and an open heart. At least, that’s what she always told him. But was that really her? He couldn’t even remember.

Victor opened his eyes to find her peering over at him. She sat cross-legged on his chest. She smiled softly and petted his face. Her hands were thin and bony. Suddenly, she began scratching him viciously, her nail-tips embedding themselves in his cheeks so deeply that they became stuck. She scratched and scratched until all of her nails were stuck in his face. She shoved her wounded, nailless fingers in her pockets and smiled again. He breathed heavily, trembling. This is not the way I remember you. This is not what I wanted from you. Don’t do this to me. She looked at him angrily. Don’t do what Victor? Don’t do what? You control everything I do, don’t you? So why don’t you make me stop? She slapped him over and over again. He never tried to restrain there. He just lay there, confused. He closed his eyes, and when he opened them, she was gone.

He tried to get up, but his legs were too weak. He stared upwards and saw a face. It looked like hers, but he couldn’t be sure. Victor reached for her, but she pulled away. He could hear her talking to someone else. There was a man with her. His face was like a burlap sack, textured and featureless. Victor wondered if the man was a burn victim. Did burn victims look like this?  It didn’t matter. Before he could ask her what he had done wrong, he blacked out.

When Victor woke up, he was lying in a hospital bed. She hovered over him. She opened her mouth. Why aren’t you saying anything? Where have you taken me? What have I done to you? What did I do wrong? She screamed loudly. He covered his ears, but he could her screaming inside of his head. The sound of her screams shook the scarabs out of his temples and onto the floor. He was too weak to retrieve them. He felt so helpless. He tried to close her mouth with his fingers, but she floated higher and higher away from him. Make the noise stop. She stopped screamed and began to laugh dryly.

He took a deep breath. He wanted to reason her. Would she let him? Now was not the time to scold. It wasn’t his fault after all. He was just another person, lost in the freakish jaws of the bleeding city. Couldn’t she at least try to be sympathetic? Wasn’t she is caretaker? He loved her. He loved her so much. But he could not love her if she refused to take care of him. That was her purpose. That was what she was made to do. She was not supposed to lead her own life. She was not supposed to hurt him.

What have I done to deserve this? She said nothing, but looked tired. She slammed herself onto him, putting her arms around him. She buried her face in the crook of his neck and breathed slow, deep breaths. Victor relaxed immediately. He cradled her gently, but could feel her slipping away again. By the time she was gone, he noticed someone in the doorway. It was a man in a very long white coat with a strange metal piece hanging around his neck. He approached Victor cautiously and began babbling incoherently. Victor was used to this sort of situation, so he nodded along and said yesyesyes to everything the strange man said. It would all be over soon, so long as he remained agreeable.

In the hallway, he thought he saw her standing with the same man from earlier. Who was he? Was he her new love? If he was a burn victim, then it would all make sense. She was a caretaker after all. He could just barely make out what they were saying. He strained to listen.

“Helen, what are we doing here? Wasn’t it enough to bring him in?”

“I’m just trying to do the right thing, okay? I told you already, I know him. He’s…he’s got some problems.”

Was her name Helen? Was this the same woman? Did he know her? He couldn’t understand. Why didn’t she tell this burn victim man that Victor was her love, her flame, her reason for being. Why would she say he had problems?

Victor did not want to be talked about. Not like this. He turned onto his side and willed himself to sleep. If he could not touch her or see her or talk to her, then he would dream about her.

As soon as he fell asleep, he saw her. They stared at each other in silence until finally he asked: Where are you?

“Victor, I was never really here.”

Victor finally understood. When he woke from his sleep, he calmly talked to his doctor.  He told him of his preexisting condition. The doctor was understanding. He wrote him a prescription and told him not to skip his weekly appointments anymore. After the doctor left, Victor checked himself out, and absently exited the hospital.

He walked to the nearby parking lot and sat down to cry. He could hear the lake’s waves crashing from far away, and he thought that he was too tired to drown himself. His neck felt tight, as if the weight of all of his failures had joined themselves together to form a single invisible hand that was now mercifully and softly suffocating him. He unbuttoned his wrinkled and white collared shirt lightly, pressing the small buttons between the pads of his fingers, lingering on each one almost tenderly, as if they were wounds to be nursed. Slowly, he laid down on the ground, cradling his side and gently closing his stinging eyelids. There, lying on the cold asphalt underneath the watchful glare of the pale, lemon-faced moon, Victor Pruett finally found comfort.

The Homerathon: Putting the Epic Back in Epic Poetry

By Michelle Lee

15,693 lines. 200 translations. 24 books. 12 movies.

Starting 10 p.m. on Sunday, November 20, Classical Entertainment Society and Court Theatre are hosting a 24-hour interactive, staged reading of the Iliad that will last until Monday evening. The Homerathon will feature several high-profile professors from the University of Chicago, including Classics Professors David Wray, Alain Bresson, Clifford Ando, and Sarah Nooter; English Professor Christina Von Nolken; and Philosophy Professor Agnes Callard.

“We’ve invited readers to read in any language or translation they choose,” says Court Theatre’s Resident Dramaturg, Drew Dir. “One of the faculty members, for example, is reading… a translation by eighteenth-century English poet Alexander Pope. We’ve also invited participants to read it in the original ancient Greek, which many here at the University of Chicago are more than prepared to do.”

Students and community members are welcome to the stage to read. Interested readers should contact Ryan Mease at rmease@gmail.com to reserve their spot.

Throughout the event, various activities and movie screenings will also take place in the lobby. Movies to be featured include (but are not limited to): Troy, Helen of Troy, Percy Jackson ad the Olympians, O Brother Where Are Thou, Clash of the Titans, and 300. Guests will be able to try their hand at crafting Greek vases, shields, mini Trojan horses, and clothespin gods. Food and drinks will also be provided throughout the 24 hours.

The reading will take place on the set of Court’s upcoming production, An Iliad, which is set to premiere Saturday, November 19. Directed by Artistic Director Charles Newell, the modern, one-man adaptation of Homer’s classic revisits the voice of the lone poet as he delves into a story of human loss and folly that resonates across three millennia. Timothy Edward Kane stars in the leading role.

Don’t miss this celebration of one of Western culture’s most enduring legacies as all 24 books of Homer’s Iliad are read aloud from start to finish.

City

By Alida Miranda-Wolff

There is no window in this room,

Only empty echoes.

 

Winter light and morning fog—

Like the forgotten promises

Living inside the walls.

If nightfall is a cold eye,

Then the break of dawn must be

Its solemn cast-off brother.

 

Outside there is nothing

Streets and lights and streets and lights

Streetlights.

Inside there are no corners

Just holes

That cannot be fallen through.

 

Judgment sleeps in unmade sheets,

With his hand around his throat,

Waiting for his time to come.

Scalds of water on his eyes

Is he blind?

Or blinded?

 

Every day he comes.

Nothing can be done.

A Pledge

By Dove

Leaves are falling. The seasons are changing. I wanna be a punk rocker. When I drop out of Clown College– to wear bloody neck studs– sing about homophobia and the big dicks, onstage– throw feces at the audience– receive personal ass-kickings by man child bikers at the after-parties– maybe then I will be a real man.

Being a man is about more than crushing beers on foreheads, post-work pool games against fat Pedro, smoking dope to watch the Nat Geo Channel, or NCIS. Don’t do that. But I’m missing the history books. Hidden away from the symbolic protest shanty towns (hilarious) of America after recession– in the bookstacks. I’m going to work on Wall Street, not take it down. I have a future.

I will strut down Wall Street with my arms parading by my sides. 3-piece Hugo Boss, and Bentley inflatable chauffeur, because if I could why wouldn’t I. I may be happy–I may not be happy–but I will be Awesome. I will buy a slice of pizza or a bagel outside for lunch, and squat in Zuccotti Park. When I get older, a soup or salad, and an egg but no yolk because they are too high in cholesterol. I will have a nice apartment somewhere near the park, and will head to $60 concerts and luxury box theatrical events regularly to stay in the know. I will drink at Brooklyn bars on Tuesday evenings in a ratty sweatshirt. I will marry a record executive and we will have a comically self-confident indie trust fund daughter who will smoke and drink and dress funny on our allowance money, and she will be free. She will be DIY.

Math proofs say I am an investment. Most people are commodities. I, am an investment. A calculated risk against the clown dropouts but there must be return and there must be interest. I am filed away in the stacks for future reference. I am as free as there can be.

I will not be a yuppie revolutionary. I will not dance in plastic handcuffs with University Of Chicago professors of Leninism and mob for cameras and drumbeats with other investments and a few commodities. I will be a big suit man. With feedback loops on the brain that pound my tie around my neck on the days it doesn’t fit. But, so I say, if I wasn’t, I would be a punk rocker.

China’s Middle Class and Democracy: Lessons from a Third Grade Classroom


 

By Annie Pei

“Please Vote for Me” exploded onto the documentary scene at Silverdocs 2007, winning the Sterling Feature Award for its portrayal of a democracy experiment in a Chinese third grade classroom. The film almost made the final five on the Oscar’s Best Documentary Feature shortlist.

Imagine if you didn`t find out that voting existed until you were eight. The thought isn`t one a lot of us can relate to, especially because we grew up in a liberal democracy. But for children who live in countries with limited to no democratic proceedings, the knowledge that something like voting exists comes as a surprise, causing confusion and curiosity

That`s where “Please Vote for Me” picks up.

Director Weijun Chen takes us to Evergreen Primary School in Wuhan, China, where he claims the first democratic school election in China is about to take place. Deviating from tradition, Mrs. Zhang introduces her third grade class to the idea of democracy by holding an election to determine the year’s Class Monitor, a position previously appointed by teachers. Three candidates are selected based on their work ethic, academic standing, and perceived personal integrity to run, making them the documentary’s central characters.

The film follows the candidates as they (and their parents) campaign to win. Luo Lei, the son of a pushy police officer and his equally determined wife, is clearly the most coddled and power-hungry of the three. His aggressiveness, however, is quickly matched by the intelligence and competitive spirit of Cheng Cheng, the son of a TV producer who takes the opportunity to fix up her son`s presentation skills. Xu Xiaofei, the third candidate, is a shy girl for whom the process turns out to be extremely intimidating when she`s thrown in the middle of Luo Lei and Cheng Cheng`s power struggle.

The mud-slinging, name-calling, and bribery start almost immediately. In a progression that mirrors any U.S. election, the campaigning heats up and soon the debates center on personal attacks and broken promises. The parents are equally as invested in the campaign and resort to teaching the kids tricks to put down their rivals and elevate their personal standing.

But “Please Vote for Me” also fascinates by examining another essential building block of democracy: a strong middle class. As China`s economic growth skyrockets, its middle class expands, with some reports pegging the number at 80 million or more. And as individual economic stability becomes more widespread in China, so, too, does the individual desire to be heard and dictate policy. Though the Chinese Communist Party remains politically unopposed, it is aware of the middle class` ability to speak out. As a result, though the CCP’s own policies facilitated middle class emergence, its current maintenance and extension of those policies are to placate the middle class.

The middle class in China truly believes that it has a say in dictating the country`s direction, a mentality mirrored by the candidates` parents on a smaller scale. To them, the classroom election is more than child`s play: it`s an outlet for them to exercise a power that comes with being part of the expanding middle class. Even if school officials selected the candidates, the simple fact that an election is taking place represents democracy’s slow, steady progress in China.

Chen substantiates this message by frequently switching between shots of the classroom and the candidates` life at home. While our school elections usually only involve a few practice speeches and maybe a little candy, Chen shows us nightly speech sessions that last for hours, riddled by constant parental meddling. Later on, one of the parents even pays for and reserves a monorail ride for his son’s classmates, demonstrating just how much the election means to him. The parents’ intensity isn’t just a matter of Chinese family pride; it’s excitement over the prospect of finally having a say, and Chen doesn’t need too many embellished shots to show that.

Never having heard of democracy and being so young, Luo Lei, Cheng Cheng, and Xu Xiaofei probably won’t understand Mrs. Zhang’s experiment until much later. But when this happens, they will be an integral part of the Chinese middle class’ movement to be heard. The CCP does seem to be slowly easing up on previously tough laws and regulations (like divorce and property rights), though whether or not this will satisfy the middle class is still unclear.

“Please Vote for Me” succeeds as a movie because it analyses democracy in practice while also revealing the important link between the middle class and democracy. Our lifelong exposure to a strong democratic society separates us from Mrs. Zhang’s class, but we can still relate to the children and their families through how much we value freedom. With that, Chen unveils an attitude among Chinese citizens that leaves us to wonder about the country’s fate. Though it’s still too early to tell, we can only imagine that liberal democracy in China may, in fact, be closer than we thought.

Free and Cheap Arts Events for the Chicago Student

By Michelle Lee

Chicago is a city bursting with art, music, and creative spirit. Unfortunately, the wallets of college students can’t always keep up. So what’s an art-starved student to do? For those seeking free art events, musical performances, and more, UChicago offers no shortage of options. Below is a guide to the best free and discounted opportunities on campus.

Concerts

The University of Chicago Presents is one of the most generous programs on campus, bringing internationally esteemed musical performances to students free of charge. Students only have to send an e-mail request to obtain one of the 35 free student tickets, which are sponsored by the UChicago Arts Pass and Sponsor-A-Student programs. The catch? They must also write a short thank-you note to their patron. For those unable to grab a free ticket (or disinclined toward writing), they can still get discounted tickets for five dollars and watch famous groups like the Pacifica Quartet perform.

Students can also catch weekly free concerts at Fulton Hall as part of the Noontime Concert Series. Concerts are every Thursday at 12:15 p.m.

Art Galleries

The Chicago Arts District hosts a monthly “2nd FRIDAYS Gallery Night,” which is a free tour of galleries and artists’ studios around South Halsted and 18th Streets in the Pilsen district. With 30 creative spaces, this art community is an exciting opportunity for students to explore the newest art installations and meet local artists. Complementary food and drinks are also provided.

Theatre

Court Theatre is a professional theatre nestled between Ratner and Pierce on the University of Chicago campus. Featuring classic works and named “the most consistently excellent theater company in America” by The Wall Street Journal, Court is a little-known but widely respected theatre that is readily accessible to students. Students can buy ten-dollar advance tickets, five-dollar rush tickets, or catch Wednesday/Thursday 7:30 performances for free by stopping by the box office window one hour in advance. The theatre also offers Student Nights, where students can get tickets, pizza, and drinks for only ten dollars.

Figure Drawing

For those looking to get their hands dirty with charcoal and paper, Outside the Lines offers figure drawing classes every Tuesday, 6 to 9 p.m., in Cobb 409. Students have access to drawing supplies and live models free of charge, and artists of all levels are welcome to participate.

Museums

For UChicago students, the UCID also functions as the UChicago Arts Pass. This pass gives them free access to the Art Institute of Chicago, Hyde Park Art Center, Museum of Contemporary Art, Smart Museum of Art, Oriental Institute, and the National Museum of Mexican Art.

The Arts Pass also provides various other discounts, such as to the Joffrey Ballet, Blue Man Group, and Lyric Opera. Visit http://arts.uchicago.edu/artspass/orgs.shtml for more information.

Coping

By Dove

Woke up to everything pretty and gray. Then stepped out of bed and have a hangover like falling down a staircase but I stand up anyway because I live in an honor culture. Waddle into biology class where they ask, what is life, and what does it mean,  and I want to speak up and talk about why my day sucks and that my head hurts and that I have a lot of work to do and don’t want to see anybody else and indeed that’s life there but they tell me the answer themselves because that is why I am here and the answer is that life is potassium nitrogen channels that preserve equilibrium through the cell membrane to prevent decay. This is very important.

Outside I see Espinoza and he says lets have a coffee so I get a coffee and we go back outside because it is not too cold and it starts to rain and my coffee is iced.

-What is life? I ask him.

-Lets get drunk, he says.

-Later, later.

-Hey, fuck off then.

I leave Espinoza free to go to Kimbark Shoppe where he transforms into a card carrying 23 year-old French man, John-Paul Belmondo. After all he is a good actor. He buys wine and looks for women but there are none except for behind the counter but they are hard and he can’t reach them through his soft bubble and he’s really from New Jersey anyway. Finding out what is  life in a bottle is passé these days, but I am not European nor a writer and I do not use that word. So I am happy to search for clues in other places.

I go to the library and it is rigid and lifeless and overpowering from the outside though there is a bubble a fantastic monument to the college bubble,. though Espinoza doesn’t drink there and even so like a snow globe things are apparently nicer on the inside than outside anyway. It is cold. That is also important. I search for life in books and there are lots of stacks of books but I only learn of big book words I have never pronounced. And yes now I speak them or try and yes no one understands my speech so I give up because if I knew what life is they would understand.

I like to eat and I go to eat waffles. I have to take a train for waffles because they are downtown and the train is very full of people and workers and above ground. I do not know what it means to work because I have already spent all my time reading and I don’t like fast food. The men wear over-size coats and pants and shuffle and look away into the outside. The women sit and frown and fold their hands but do not twiddle their thumbs because they are not paying any attention and attention is distracting. They are not distracting. The train is bumpy like I am in a traveling caravan in the desert and indeed outside of the train there is desolation and garbage and flat and not much life.

Still cold. The next station looks right and feels catchy so I get out on the platform and walk down the stairs to the street. I stand on the street and search for my bearings. A big fat man is next to me smoking a cigarette and he has a nice red shirt on and dress pants but his glasses are goofy and he turns and bumps into the side of a lady holding hands with a pre-schooler and her face cringes into rage and spite and violence and she says, watch where you’re going! And he says, sorry miss, I didn’t mean to do that. And she says, you’re right you didn’t! What is your problem standing here like that. And the man turns away because this is not polite and the women glares and glares and walks and walks and the preschooler smiles and looks very goofy though without glasses.

The fat man smokes some more and I have found my bearings on Michigan Avenue so I start to walk but the fat man taps me on the shoulder and has me stop to talk to me but it is not a bump but just a tap and deliberate.

-Where did you get your shoes, he asks me and I have brown shoes.

-Oh, I don’t know, a department store somewhere, I say because I am polite.

-Look here, I have almost the same ones but mine are old and breaking around the seams.

-That’s too bad, my shoes aren’t as old as yours but I should polish them.

-Alright, take care, he says.

I wave and I walk down Michigan Avenue which is very odd and quiet in the middle of the condominiums and find the restaurant that is crowded and I walk in and I ask for waffles and I look around at all the crowd in this restaurant.

I sit and I eat waffles and I sit and think about women not girls and look around me and all around I see other people who sit and eat waffles and think about women when they pay attention and sometimes men and they are live in full color and complex like potassium nitrogen channels in cytoplasm. In here it is a little warmer.

The Vagina Monologues at UChicago

The small Francis X. Kinhan Theater was nearly filled on Saturday night in support of V-Day UChicago 2011.  The atmosphere was very intimate and comfortable, with a variety of ages and sexes within the audience, all there to support a movement that aims to stop violence against women and girls.  The Vagina Monologues was a University Theater Spotlight Production performed by sixteen female students, ranging from undergraduate to graduate students.  There was an immediate sense of comfortableness between the audience members and the actresses, as the performers stood on stage in their black and red garb, chatting casually amongst themselves in view of the audience before the performance began.  The friendly atmosphere was necessary, considering the amount of times the word vagina was spoken and the explicit sexual stories, noises, and positions performed onstage.

The performance started out with undergraduates Nora Bingham, Anna Akers-Pecht, and Alexandra Lee explaining the history of The Vagina Monologues. Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues, is the founder/artistic director of V-Day.  Ensler conducted over 200 interviews with women of all ages, asking questions that are rarely addressed, concerning their sexuality and sexual experiences.  The stories that were collected from these interviews ranged from the personal raw experiences of rape and abuse to the lighter and comical stories of what their vagina would say if it could talk or what it would wear.

If one can’t tell from the title of the play, the monologues were all centered on a similar theme: the vagina.  In each monologue, the vagina seemed to not only represent sex and empowerment, but rather, it seemed to represent the women themselves.  Many of the women portrayed by the actresses in the monologues seemed to view their vagina as a scary, unknown place.  Many had never experienced an orgasm before, some had never even looked at their vagina, and some were so badly traumatized by past sexual experiences that they seemed to hate their vagina.  How the women felt about their vaginas was how they felt about themselves.  The monologues worked to reverse the bad connotations associated with the vagina, with Jennifer Woolley rewriting vagina as “cunt” in “Reclaiming Cunt”.  Woolley had the entire audience (men included) chanting the word “Cunt!” in an effort to remove its negative connotation associated with it, as she ran off the stage pumping her fist.