Tag Archives: Brandeis University

Last Year In…

Music-and-film based satire blog The Umpteenth Times posted a great piece involving stimulus plans and Fugazi. What a gag:


“Fugazi to Receive Stimulus Check from Government

By Frank Gurbleck


WASHINGTON D.C.—Earlier this week, the Washington D.C.-based band, Fugazi, received notice that they will be receiving a stimulus check as a part of President Obama’s attempt to boost the economy back into motion.  The government’s reasoning for singling out the band is due to Fugazi’s efforts throughout the years to keep concert costs at a minimum.  The band has decided to accept the check but do not plan on keeping the money for themselves.”


Great stuff and the article does just what The Onion does best with their satire.

The piece reminded me of an event that happened one year ago, nearly to the day. Last April, I brought Ian MacKaye to Brandeis to do an informal Q+A and it was easily a highlight of the year. Schwartz Auditorium was packed to the gills, with folks of all ages sandwiched into seats crammed on the floor, up in the rafters, and crouched in corners all to ask Ian the questions that they’d wanted to ask the guy for who-knows-how-long. Of course, Ian was insightful, hilarious, and down-to-earth, answering every question with a tone of respect no matter how many times he’d spoken about straight-edge or how innocuous the query may have seemed.

It’s partially because of Ian’s own actions that I was inspired to critique emo in the way that I have on this blog and with America Is Just A Word. I’d been working on America Is Just A Word for a couple of years, but it’s Ian’s own dedication to his fans and music in general that offered another inspiring cog in whatever multi-gear machine I’d been riding out at the time. One year later and I’m still at it! Hopefully, America Is Just A Word will be available in a short period of time.


I shall now break from the usual blotter I produce for something far more striking.

As a recent graduate of Brandeis University, I’ve entered the workforce in an especially harsh time of economic crisis. This is news is nothing new.

However, as I exited my undergraduate bubble, it turns out that the safe place I once knew is in as much a decline as the world I recently entered. The impact of the recession has been harsh on numerous universities worldwide, with endowements shrinking and donors holding back because of the financial difficulties of these times. Brandeis has been hit especially hard because of the Bernard Madoff scandal wherein a number of the school’s biggest supporters were involved in the ponzi scheme and lost a large amount of money. Consdering Brandeis is a relatively young institution as far as top-ranking universities go, its endowement is small, and the administration has been scrambling to try and make ends meet.

Although sacrifices must be made, I cannot say I foresaw what was announced last evening. In a letter to the Brandeis community, University President Jehuda Reinharz had this to say:


“January 26, 2009

Dear Friends,

The global financial crisis and deepening national economic recession require Brandeis to formulate and execute decisive plans that will position the university to emerge stronger for the benefit of our students. To this end, our response to the crisis is to focus and sustain our core academic mission. I am writing to tell you that the Board of Trustees met today and voted to close the Rose Art Museum. The decision was difficult and was reached after a painstaking assessment of the university’s need to mobilize for the future and initiate a strategy to replenish our financial assets.

The Rose has been a marvelous addition to the Fine Arts program, and we are grateful to everyone who expressed their love for art and admiration for Brandeis’s academic mission by helping to create, build, and support the museum. Choosing between and among important and valued university assets is terrible, but our priority in the face of hard choices will always be the university’s core teaching and research mission. Today’s decision will set in motion a long-term plan to sell the art collection and convert the professional art facility to a teaching, studio, and gallery space for undergraduate and graduate students and faculty.

The university’s official public statement can be found below. I will be writing to the community shortly to update you on other initiatives currently under discussion by the faculty and the administration.


Jehuda Reinharz”


The Rose Art Museum – an institution among the art world of New England, a gallery that holds the largest collection of modern art in the Northeast, and an icon of Brandeis University – will close its doors in order for the school to move forward financially. I’ve heard of cutting off a foot to save the leg, but this feels more like an involuntary (although who ever heard of a voluntary) lobotomy in order to save some semblance of humanity. The Rose Art Museum is often the go-to selling point for Brandeis as a cultural institution. It’s not just a structure, but an embodyment of the values of the school as a welcoming community to people of all interests; with the Rose having gone, there’s something of a lack of balance within what is supposed to be a well-rounded, inclusive institution.


…I honestly could go on about this, but I have to stop there before a full on rant. You can read more about this issue at any one of these fine journals and blogs of note.

A petition has been created for all alumni to sign – check it out here.

Also, a number of alumni have created a Save The Rose Art website, which would be great to check out for those who are curious.




On another note of the financial crisis and its affect on my alma mater, its impact on academics – the main reason that students (one should hope) attend an institute of higher learning – has created a grim outlook. Many professors have taken a pay cut in order to defer the loss of any faculty, there is a university-wide course restructuring in the works, and a hiring freeze has been declared across the board for all staff. This means that many adjunct faculty may not have a job at Brandeis come the 2009 Fall Semester.

Wayne Marshall is one of these professors. Wayne arrived at Brandeis in the Fall of 2007 as the Florence Levy Kay Fellow in Ethnomusicology, a two-year fellowship that ends this semester. Although Wayne has had a dramatic impact on the academic life of numerous students (myself included), there is the possibility that he may not be hired as a full time professor due to the financial crunch that Brandeis faces. It would be devastating if Wayne were to leave the school for budgetary reasons; he is an excellent and engaging instructor, one of a handful of professors who has engaged in experiential learning (an area that Brandeis has worked hard on improving upon) and succeeded in doing so in the classroom, and is producing the kind of academic research countless individuals dream of creating. And he is one of the most knowledgable intellectual on hip-hop and globalism – a hot-button topic of study that many university’s could only hope to profess as passionately and accurately as Wayne.


Needless to say, when Wayne announced on his wildly-popular blog that his future at Brandeis was unclear, I was shocked. I soon began to develop a plan of action, a petition, to submit to the University administration. Although the announcement of the Rose is equally shocking, relevant, and important to the campus, I will not defer from working on this petition as well. The decision concerning the Rose’s future has already been made and all forms of protest are trying to reverse it; the Save Wayne Campaign will be one of convincing the administration to act on something they haven’t made a complete decision upon (ie: Wayne’s future at Brandeis).

More information about this campagin will be made available in the future on this blog. For now, you can check the Innermost Parts blog entry for more detailed information on the petition. If you would like to sign the online petition, send an email to:

savewayne (at) gmail (dot) com


1) Your name

2) Your connection to Brandeis (alum, current student, parent, staff, etc) or to Wayne

3) At least one piece of contact information (be it your email address, phone number, mailing address, etc)

4) Any comments you have about Wayne

A full proposal, with a letter and a five-ten page argument, will be created and made available to people within a few weeks. Until then, spread the word about both these campaigns if you are concerned about the state of the arts at universities across the world or just the state at which administrative bodies react to times of crises.

Art With Flavor

Giddy would be a great explanation for how I felt when I saw this news release from Jagjaguwar:

We’re proud to announce that PARTS & LABOR will be releasing their new album, “Receivers,” on 10/21/08 here in the US and 11/03/08 in the UK.

Brooklyn’s Parts & Labor has become one of my favorite bands in recent years, and it’s been simply wonderful to see them grow as an artistic entity and in the eyes of the music community. In a handful of years and successive releases, they’ve turned from an anthemic noise act of uncompromising creativity into the center of a vibrant underground music scene in Brooklyn. With the release of Receivers in October, there is no doubt they’ll continue on their trajectory of making outstanding music. From the sound of it, they’ve already managed to do that. Pitchfork released the track titled “Nowheres Nigh” today, and chances are, P&L aren’t far off from joining a number of their critically-acclaimed contemporaries. The song is pure pop, but still contains those elements that make Parts & Labor such an anomaly; the clashing sounds of electronic blips float with ease atop shoegaze waves of fuzz, while Joe Wong maniacally bashes away on the drum-kit in the background and BJ Warshaw exemplifies the poppiest vocal work to rival any previous track the band has made. It’s a change-up for the band, but it keeps to their mantra of pushing their own creative notions.

old Parts & Labor live pic

old Parts & Labor live pic

I’ve been lucky enough to see Parts & Labor grow in time with a bit of my own maturation. While interning at Rock Sound magazine in London, I introduced the folks at the magazine to Parts & Labor after throwing their then-upcoming release (Mapmaker) onto the stereo. The staff instantly fell in love with the band as I won a little cred in their books; pretty soon I was interviewing Dan Friel for an “Exposure” piece on the band, no doubt bringing them into the homes of many new UK fans. A year later I had the pleasure of putting on a show with the band at Brandeis University; I was involved in putting on a lot of great shows in Chums coffeehouse (the venue of choice at Brandeis), but the Parts & Labor show was one of my favorites. A month ago I treked down to Brooklyn for the After The Jump Fest, where Dan pointed out what acts to check out, which included a set by newly-acquired P&L guitarist Sarah Lipstate’s solo project, Noveller.

I’m more than happy to say that I will also be a part of the next Parts & Labor album. While they worked away on Receivers, Parts & Labor asked fans to send in audio samples, leaving four questions as guides. I sent in a little something, and although I have no idea how they used it, the band has decided to use every single submitted audio sample for their record. Now if that’s not the sign of an inclusive, open community I don’t know what is. Of course, those ideas go hand in hand with Parts & Labor; besides the musical influence of punk’s past, the ideological influence of the DIY, hardcore and post-hardcore greats that filled the 80s is especially strong in how the band runs everything. And community, as strong as it is within the lineage of emo (and I shall write no more on emo and community for this post), is an especially strong aspect of Parts & Labor’s existence and coexistence. Friel and Warshaw even went as far as to create their own record label – Cardboard records – in order to release material from bands that they felt a strong ideological, musical, and personal connection to. Just as, say, Dischord (ok, I lied a little bit about two sentences ago) became an epicenter for a small, DC punk community, Cardboard has become a connection for like-minded musicians across the country. Just pick up Love and Circuits, a double album compiling all the bands that Parts & Labor has shared a communal bond with, and you’ll hear a fraction of the bands involved in the American art-punk/noise/whatever you want to call it community. Just as a record label, a venue, or a town can become centers of musical and cultural scenes, in their own way Parts & Labor – as a band and an idea – have also become something of a meeting point for a community.

The Cardboard Family

The Cardboard Family

Parts & Labor will be performing at Siren Music Festival this Saturday and Whartscape this Sunday. Make it to the shows if you can.

Parts & Labor – Nowheres Nigh

Parts & Labor – The Gold We’re Digging (video):