Tag Archives: New England

Repeater

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.

Sincerely,

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

Leave:

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.

Yes, I Can Help You

I apologize for the recent lack of posting, but its been a blizzard of fun these past few days. Despite the archaic weather, Boston is in the full swing of things, and I mixed my time between numerous concerts, the Boston Silent Rave, and general tomfoolery.

tagged Newbury Comics logo

tagged Newbury Comics logo

At the center of much of the whirlwind of excitement for the weekend was Newbury Comics‘ 30th Anniversary bash, which featured a wealth of artists performing at numerous locations. In spite of the recent downturn of the economy, the bash seemed to be a success – at least, it seems successful when you can hardly see the members of Passion Pit play (but still hear the emo-esq highs of their falsetto-voiced singer). For some odd reason, Newbury Comics trudges on seemingly undeterred by the shaky economy, and appears to rise above the vapidity of consumerism despite being a place that sells goods.

That could be the fact that they are such arduous supporters of their local community; most of the acts slated to perform this past weekend are all homegrown, from choral-rockers Bang Camaro to post-punk icons Mission of Burma. And if that still seems like a shameless ploy to bring in an extra buck, that was least of all apparent with Apollo Sunshine‘s set on Saturday in Harvard Square. The local band relished in their performance, pulling out five-minute long jams that did not bore or disappoint. Afterwards, the trio abandoned their instruments, choosing to mingle with the crowd and point fans in the direction of krautrockers Can rather than pack up and leave. Newbury Comics may be a brand in New England, but they’ve got the feel and ideology of a community-minded Mom and Pop store. Now there’s something you can get behind.

Apollo Sunshine

Apollo Sunshine

Apollo Sunshine have recently released Shall Noise Upon, and are finally getting some much-deserved respect. From the sound of it, their third album has blossomed into Beatles-esq pop without abandoning their homegrown jam-cum-fuzz-rock sound that made them such an irresistible band in the first place. Pick it up where you can!

Apollo Sunshine – 666: The Coming of the New World Government (free download)

Apollo Sunshine – Today is the Day (video):

Mission of Burma – Peking Spring (live):

Passion Pit – Sleepyhead (video):

Bang Camaro – Pleasure (Pleasure) (live):

Jimes and the New Garage

There’s nothing quite like a musical discovery, and Jimes is not quite like anything else I’ve found in recent memory. Jimes is the kind of thing you inadvertently stumble upon and then mildly-obsess about for a handful of minutes. Jimes is absurd, endearing, and entertaining, simply by being.

Jimes live

Jimes live

Jimes hails from Chevy Chase, an annexed part of the greater Bethesda area that’s all encapsulated in the DC metro area. Despite the feet which separate his home turf from mine, I had to go to New York to even realize such a character/musical entity existed. And so, while searching for a small-scale, underground show to follow up my Siren adventure, I discovered Jimes was scheduled to play a new hole-in-the-wall venue in Brooklyn.

I didn’t make it to the show (I ended up throwing away all my post-festival plans for relaxation), but Jimes certainly stuck with me. The anarchic, non-musician to the extreme, uber-garage pop immediately jumped out at me. Hey, it’s not great musicianship, but there’s an immediacy and power to it that’s lost on a lot of bands I like to lump into the “mainstream.” Clearly, Jimes (who is the singer, but is also the umbrella name for the full-band) isn’t doing this for money or fame, but simply the power of expression… or most importantly, fun.

More Jimes

More Jimes

Of course, Jimes’ forwardness with which he proclaims his inability to create music is easily connected to the first wave of punk, where non-musicians became an icon of the movement (if not exactly the true creators of said punk music). And as emo is as much a part of the narrative of punk as it is a sub-genre, Jimes’ straight-forward creation of music for the sake of creation is reflective of much of the narratives behind emo’s most noteworthy acts. Although many of those acts had different ideas for simply creating their music, one thing is clear throughout; it’s just important to do it. And if Jimes has any relation to those in the Dischord crowd, the kids in the Mid-West emo scene of the 1990s, or the teens bouncing around basements in New Jersey in the late 90s/early 2000s, his drive to create is in part fueled by his derision of the mainstream society around him.

As far as Jimes’ connection to any greater community is concerned, that is a scene I would be very interested to learn more about. Jimes’ playfulness and musical audaciousness is reminiscent of a number of acts from around America, yet ones who don’t appear to have any direct connection to one another. Math the Band readily comes to mind; the New England-based act was originally just a fun-loving guy named Kevin who sang over beats he constructed on his laptop. But Math has since expanded into a full-fledged band that’s been touring with buddies Harry and the Potters (the defining act of wizard rock, which is it’s own little scene) and will soon be playing a festival in Pittsburgh with none other than Bob Dylan. Juiceboxxx is another one of these whatever-you-want-to-call-it acts, though there is a touch of professionalism. Hailing from Milwaukee, Juiceboxxx is known for putting on urgent and insanely danceable shows, all of which can be heard in the immediacy of the goofy-yet-catchy laptop-based hip-hop tracks.

Math the Band

Math the Band

I could be trying to force certain puzzles in place when there isn’t anything there necessarily. Without any immediate connection to one another, there’s a certain lack of any tangible scene, a driving force which has powered emo to this day. And yet, for some reason, all of these acts are cropping up across the United States that have a general aesthetic connection; technologically-driven (though slightly deficient) music and a drive for creativity that is more parts humor and fun than anything else. If anything, this is a mark of the technology on the ability to create music. Just as cassette tape players made it easy for anyone to make some form of music in the 80s (which Calvin Johnson took to heart with K Records), the laptop has made it insanely easy for anyone to record anything.

Juiceboxxx live

Juiceboxxx live

Although mash-ups, techno, dubstep, grime, and any other electronic-based genre have long been the focus of technology-in-music when it comes to the role laptops have played on modern music, they can be (and in the case of Jimes, are) used for simply recording live instrumental playing on the fly. What’s happening now is something similar to the rise of garage bands in the 60s (although not on such a grand, noticeable scale). As rock bands became a commerce of cool, kids across the country formed bands without any thought of ability or community – just make music. And it’s happening again, only with the laptop instead of the guitar.

Call it “New Garage.” Call it whatever you want. In the same way that garage rock produced hundreds of hundreds of bands across the country, each unique and the same all at once, that commitment to music above all else is happening all over again. And that’s a great thing.

You can download most of the Jimes catalog here. Below are clips of live shows from Jimes, Math the Band, and Juiceboxxx.

Jimes:

Math the Band:

Juiceboxxx: