Earlier this week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the popular statue of a young girl staring down Wall Street’s famous ‘Charging Bull’ will remain in place through February of the following year. This was especially news to me, who thought that statue was never actually leaving. I love the statue of the young girl. I don’t think I could give you one way in which I would change its conception; I love that the statue exists, I love what it represents to me, and I especially love that a large part of its existence is left with enough ambiguity that each person may interpret what it means for themselves. Yes, factually the statue was commissioned by State Street Global Advisors, a firm that meant for the statue to represent “the present, but also the future.” As Stephen Tisdalle, chief marketing officer of State Street elaborates, “She’s not angry at the bull — she’s confident, she knows what she’s capable of, and she’s wanting the bull to take note.”Frankly, however, it doesn’t matter why the firm commissioned the statue and what they meant for it to represent.
Should I write about the nine transgender women of color (and counting) who have been killed so far in 2017? Or should I direct to you to Akhilesh Issur’s recent guest column, which poignantly illuminates Cornell’s ongoing mishandling of our international students’ urgent plight, not to mention the hypocrisy and apathy demonstrated by the institution at every turn? Should I write about James Harris Jackson’s premeditated, racially motivated murder of Timothy Caughman — the first, according to Jackson, of many? Should I remind you about the Cornell student who in January found himself on the receiving end of a text by another Cornell student calling him a nigger, only for the incident’s brief flare to be quickly extinguished? I’m not sure what I should write about, to be honest, nor am I sure if I have the energy or desire to do so today.
No one other than James Baldwin could have ever hoped to deliver a proper eulogy to James Baldwin, but I find it incredibly ironic that my namesake ended up accepting the mantle. Amiri Baraka was an embattled and deeply flawed artist, and in reading his work, I have often found myself rapidly vacillating between vehement disapproval and mesmerized admiration. What he had to say about the man I aspire to be like, though, elicited neither of these responses. “Jimmy Baldwin created [contemporary American speech] so we could speak to each other at unimaginable intensities of feeling, so we could make sense to each other at higher and higher tempos,” wrote Baraka. For most anyone else, words like these would serve as poetic and profound excerpts from a worthy homage.
The double bass is a perennial fixture of many jazz combos. And yet, how rare to hear it on its own terms. Rarer still in duet with a like partner. The Cornell Concert Series kicked off its spring season by proving that a duo of basses could be more than meets the ear. As twin ramparts of their generation, Christian McBride and Edgar Meyer are as masterful as they come. Where one cut his teeth on the jagged edges of jazz, the other was baptized in classical waters.
I am by no means a space history buff. That said, I believe I know some very basic stuff: Alan Shepard was the first American into space, John Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first men on the moon. Importantly, I know that none of those men died on their respective missions. Very basic stuff. So the fact that Hidden Figures had me on the edge of my seat wondering if John Glenn would survive re-entry into the atmosphere is a real testament to the film.
Since Trump was elected, I am bothered every day by a certain set of questions and anxieties. Whenever I go on a news site or look at a paper, our current president apparently fits the bill of tyranny wearing a fresh set of big boy underpants. He has begun an enormous upheaval of all values we carried closely to our hearts. Truth, facts, common decency—these diamond American ideals have gone out the window. Meanwhile, the media stands by professionally wide-mouthed.
“‘Being here is a kind of spiritual surrender. We see only what the others see. The thousands who were here in the past, those who will come in the future. We’ve agreed to be part of a collective perception. This literally colors our vision.’” Although this observation comes from a fictional character in Don Delillo’s novel White Noise on how people react to a famous tourist attraction, it also supports my recent — and admittedly strange — obsession with how life may be a series of illusions created by society that hinders our ability to see things for what they really are.
When I first caught sight of the Biosphère in Montreal, Quebec, I remember telling my parents that I had to see it up close. I was struck by the design of the exterior of the sphere, a fantastic webbing of steel and acrylic cells. It was a structure that I could see looming over Parc Jean-Drapeau from my spot in downtown Montreal, a lace orb that stood out among the dense trees of the island and contrasted with the uniformity of the city’s buildings. Upon arriving on the island, I realized that the Biosphère holds an interactive environment museum that showcases exhibitions on major environmental issues as well as activities that allow the public to learn about water, climate change, air and sustainable development. I paid a fee I thought to be too expensive for the “knowledge” I would gain from the museum.
History continuously shows that Western influences have played a dominant role in the shaping of many regions of the world. From hemisphere to hemisphere, nation to nation, Western forces have consistently proved their acquisitive nature in conquests of land, people, and resources. Japanese art and culture are no exception to this rule. Walking down the steps leading to American Sojourns and the Collecting of Japanese Art, I was met with a silence only broken by the occasional footsteps of security guards lightly pacing the interconnected rooms of the museum halls. The exhibit’s pieces, displayed in a comfortably small space, radiated an air of tranquility and sophistication.